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TBR News November 16, 2016

Nov 16 2016

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C.  November 16, 2016: “The petulant squealing of the disappointed millennial Hillary supporters are slowly diminishing and now we see various former Trump enemies smiling and sniffing about looking for well-paying jobs. Trump is not really an unknown factor but his opponents have been so self-centered and self-important that they never bothered to study the man. It is true he could prove to be a bad President but on the other hand,he could be a very good one. Before more rigged protests get front page, might it not be a better approach to be patient? “

Special Report: Under siege in Mosul, Islamic State turns to executions and paranoia

November 16, 2016

by Samia Nakhoul and Michael Georgy


ERBIL, Iraq-A few weeks ago, a person inside Mosul began to send text messages to Iraqi military intelligence in Baghdad.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, “has become intemperate,” said the early November message, written by an informant inside the city who has contact with the group but is not a member of it.

“He has cut down on his movements and neglects his appearance,” the message read. “He lives underground and has tunnels that stretch to different areas. He doesn’t sleep without his suicide bomber vest so he can set it off if he’s captured.”

The text message, which Reuters has seen, was one of many describing what was happening inside Islamic State as Iraqi, Kurdish and American troops began their campaign to retake the group’s northern Iraqi stronghold of Mosul.

The texts, along with interviews with senior Kurdish officials and recently captured Islamic State fighters, offer an unusually detailed picture of the extremist group and its leader’s state of mind as they make what may be their last stand in Iraq. The messages describe a group and its leader that remain lethal, but that are also seized by growing suspicion and paranoia.

Defectors or informants were being regularly executed, the person texted. Baghdadi, who declared himself the caliph of a huge swathe of Iraq and Syria two years ago, had become especially suspicious of people close to him. “Sometimes he used to joke around,” one text said. “But now he no longer does.”

While Reuters has verified the identity of the informant who has been texting Iraqi military intelligence, the news agency couldn’t independently confirm the information in the messages. But the picture that emerges fits with intelligence cited by two Kurdish officials – Masrour Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Security Council,  and Lahur Talabany, who is chief of counter-terrorism and director of the KRG intelligence agency.

Talabany and other intelligence chiefs said the military coalition is making slow but steady progress against Islamic State. The coalition has formidable assets inside Mosul, they said, including trained informers and residents who provide more basic surveillance by texting or phoning from the city’s outskirts. Some of the informants have families in Kurdistan whom the KRG pays.

The Kurds believe that the military assault on Mosul, which began on October 17, is fueling Islamic State’s sense of fear and mistrust. In the short term, they said, the group’s obsession with rooting out anyone who might betray it may help rally fighters to defend Mosul. But the obsession also means the group has turned inwards right as it faces the most serious threat to its existence in Iraq since seizing around a third of the country’s territory in the summer of 2014.

The number of executions is a clear sign Islamic State is beginning to hurt, said Karim Sinjari, interior minister and acting defense minister with the KRG, which controls the Kurdish area in northern Iraq.

As well, he said, many of the group’s local Iraqi fighters lack the “strong belief in martyrdom that the jihadis have.”

“Most of the die-hard Islamists who are fighting to the death are foreign fighters, but their numbers at the frontline are less than before because they are getting killed in battle and in suicide attacks,” he said.

Barzani said the growing paranoia has pushed Baghdadi and his top lieutenants to move around a lot, further hurting the group’s ability to defend the city. Baghdadi, Barzani said, “is using all the different tactics to hide and protect himself: changing positions, using different ways of traveling, living in different locations, using different communications.”

If the military coalition does push Islamic State from Mosul, the Kurdish officials said, the group is likely to flee to Syria, from where it will pose a nagging threat to Iraq through regular suicide attacks and other guerilla tactics.


Islamic State has always been paranoid. Its rule in Syria and Iraq has relied in large part on a vast intelligence network that uses everyone from children to battle-hardened former Baathists to spy on both subjects and its own officials.

That paranoia appears to have reached new levels as Islamic State’s enemies advance. Suspicion grew in the weeks before government troops began to encircle Mosul in mid October.

Early last month, Islamic State leaders uncovered an internal plot against Baghdadi, according to Mosul residents and Iraqi security officials. Hatched by a leading Islamic State commander, the plot was foiled when an Islamic State security official found a telephone SIM card that contained the names of the plotters and showed their links to U.S. and Kurdish intelligence officers.

Retribution was brutal. Islamic State killed 58 suspected plotters by placing them in cages and drowning them, according to residents and Iraqi officials.

Since then, Islamic State has executed another 42 people from local tribes, Iraqi intelligence officers said. Those people were also caught with SIM cards.

Possession of SIMs or any form of electronic communication now amounts to an automatic death sentence, according to residents in Islamic State areas. The group has set up checkpoints where its militants search people, and regularly mount raids on areas hit by U.S. air strikes because Islamic State officials assume locals have helped to identify targets.

The informant texting from Mosul is aware of the dangers. “I am talking to you from the rooftop,” began one recent message. “The planes are in the skies. Before I go back down I will delete the messages and hide the SIM card.”


Islamic State relies on a network of child informers, the so called ashbal al khilafa or “cubs of the caliphate.”

“These young boys eavesdrop and find out information from other kids about their fathers, brothers, and their activities”, said Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraq government adviser and Islamic State expert. “In every street there are one or two ashbal al khilafa who spy on the adults.”

The huge network of informants also hurts Islamic State, according to Lahur Talabany, chief of counter-terrorism for the KRG.  Overwhelmed by information, the group is devoting a lot of its energy to its own people rather than its enemies. That fuels further paranoia.

“There are regular (internal) plots against Baghdadi” Talabany told Reuters. “We see incidents like that on a weekly basis, and they take out their own guys.”

Until a few months ago, Talabany said, he had a mole inside Baghdadi’s inner circle: an Islamic State commander who had once belonged to al-Qaeda.

“He was a Kurd born in Hawija”, the Kurdish spy chief said, declining to name the man. “He was one of my detainees. I released him a year before Daesh (Islamic State) arrived.”

After Islamic State seized Mosul, the commander-turned-agent infiltrated the group and was made a military officer. From that position, he began feeding the Kurds “valuable daily information.”

The agent told Talabany that Baghdadi consulted closely with top aides, including Saudis who he said were experts on Sharia law. Saudi Arabia has said that there are Saudi nationals in Islamic State.

“He told me Baghdadi has got charisma, and has connections, but that he is a front. And that the committees around him take the main decisions, even on the military side,” Talabany said.

The agent told Talabany he had met Baghdadi a few times and was plotting to kill the Islamic State leader. But before the commander could act, Islamic State discovered he was working as an agent. A few months ago, Talabany said, Islamic State publicly executed him.


The group’s brutal methods were recounted in a rare interview with two captured Islamic State fighters last week. Reuters met the fighters at a Kurdish counter-terrorism compound in the town of Sulaimaniya. A Kurdish intelligence official and an interrogator sat in on the interviews but did not interfere.

Ali Kahtan, 21, was captured after he killed five Kurdish fighters at a police station seized by Islamic State in the northern town of Hawija.

Kahtan’s path to militancy began at the age of 13, he said. He became a member of al Qaeda and then joined Islamic State when a friend took him for religious lessons and military training at a Hawija mosque. The training, he said, involved learning how to use a machine gun and pistol. Trainees were also shown how to cut someone’s throat with the bayonet from an AK-47.

Kahtan said that a year ago, a local emir ordered him to cut the throats of five Kurdish fighters. The emir stood over him while he did it, he said.

“One after the other with a knife, a Kalashnikov blade, I did it. Really, I felt nothing.” Afterwards, he said, he returned home. “I cleaned up and sat down to have dinner with my parents.”

Kahtan said Islamic State fighters no longer talk about taking over Baghdad, but focus solely on Mosul, and how to recruit more fighters to protect it.

A second detainee, Bakr Salah Bakr, 21, who was caught as he prepared to carry out a suicide attack in Kurdistan, said Islamic State initially tried to recruit him through Facebook to join the fight in Mosul. They are desperate for Iraqi fighters, he indicated, because the influx of foreign fighters dried up after Turkey slowly closed its borders a year ago.


Iraqi intelligence officials say they believe Baghdadi is not in Mosul but in al-Ba’aj district, a bedouin town on the edge of Nineveh province, which borders Syria. Ba’aj has a population of about 20,000 and is dominated by extremists loyal to Islamic State.

The area is heavily fortified, with long tunnels that were built after the fall of Saddam when the town became a staging post for smuggling weapons and volunteers from Syria into Iraq.

Even if Mosul and Baghdadi fall, said Kurdish counter-terrorism chief Talabany, Islamic State is likely to persist. “They will go back to more asymmetric warfare, and we will be seeing suicide attacks inside KRG, inside Iraqi cities and elsewhere.”

Security chief Barzani agreed. “The fight against IS is going to be a long fight,” he said. “Not only militarily, but also economically, ideologically.”

Barzani, who is the son of veteran Kurdish leader and KRG President Masoud Barzani, estimated there are around 10,000 Islamic State suicide bombers in Iraq and Syria. He said Islamic State had prepared waves of fighters it was now deploying to defend Mosul.

“You see the first group come to the frontline and they know they’re going to be killed by the planes overhead, but they still come. And then the second group come to the same place where the others were hit,” he said. “They see the limbs and the bodies all over and they know they will die, but they still do it. They see victory in dying for their own cause.”

(Edited by Simon Robinson)

 Report: Terrorism-related deaths in OECD countries rose 650 percent

The Global Terrorism Index has shown that deaths caused by terrorism in 2015 increased six-fold in developed nations, with Turkey and France the worst affected. Terrorism-related deaths in 2016 decreased from last year.

November 16, 2016


Deaths from terrorism declined globally but saw a six-fold increase in developed countries in 2015 compared to 2014, a report said released Wednesday.

Data gathered for the 2016 edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) showed that such deaths in OECD countries, a group of mostly rich states, rose from 77 in 2014 to 577 in 2015.

This trend reflects how groups such as the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) suffered military defeats at home but orchestrated more foreign attacks. Some 313 terrorism deaths in developed countries were caused by IS-affiliated attacks.

France and Turkey were the worst affected countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Among the high-profile incidents were last November’s Paris attacks where “IS” gunmen and suicide bombers targeted the Bataclan music venue, the Stade de France soccer stadium and several cafes, killing 137 people and injuring 368.

The worst terror incident in Turkey in 2015 was the October bombing in Ankara, where two explosives detonated outside the central train station. The attack killed 105 people and injured 400.

While Turkey and France suffered the most deadly attacks, they were far from the only countries to suffer terror-related deaths. Some 21 of the 34 OECD countries experienced at least one terror attack in 2015. Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and Turkey all suffered their worst death tolls from terrorism since the index launched in 2000.

These countries have seen a sustained threat in 2016. Germany experienced IS”-linked attacks this summer, including an axe attack on a train in Würzburg and a suicide bombing in Ansbach.

German police have been swift in identifying and arresting “IS”-affiliated terror cells. On Tuesday, police raided more than 200 homes and offices of suspected “IS” sympathizers across 10 federal states.

Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of Institute for Economics and Peace, an Australian think tank that publishes the annual index, said, “The attacks in the heartland of Western democracies underscore the need for fast-paced and tailored responses to the evolution of these organizations.”

The index also illustrated how deaths from terrorism increased dramatically in recent years, particularly since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.

Patterns recorded in the GTI show that terror attacks are more likely to occur in OECD countries with “poorer performance on socio-economic factors such as opportunities for youth, belief in the electoral system, levels of criminality and access to weapons.”

Trends also show that foreign fighters who have fled to Syria to fight for “IS” generally have high levels of education but low incomes.

Ten percent fall in global terrorism deaths

The global number of terrorism-related deaths dropped 10 percent to 29,376 – the first overall decrease the GTI has recorded since 2010.

Iraq and Nigeria saw the biggest decreases, with a combined decline of 5,558 deaths. This was due namely to the Nigerian military’s push against the terror organization Boko Haram and the reduced influence of “IS” in Iraq.

However, both countries remain among the world’s most affected by terrorism, alongside Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. Together, the five countries accounted for 72 percent of all terrorism deaths in 2015.

“While, on the one hand, the reduction in deaths is positive, the continued intensification of terrorism in some countries and its spread to new ones is a cause for serious concern and underscores the fluid nature of modern terrorist activity,” Killelea said.

“IS,” which swept into a power vacuum in 2014, significantly stepped up its global presence in 2015, according to the GTI. It targeted 28 countries, compared to 13 the previous year. The group also orchestrated attacks in 252 cities and caused 6,141 deaths, surpassing Boko Haram as the world’s deadliest group.

Only 13 percent of recent refugees in Germany have found work: survey

November 15, 2016

by Michelle Martin


BERLIN- When refugees started arriving in Germany in large numbers last summer, many politicians and economists feted them as a solution to a skilled labor shortage, but a survey published on Tuesday shows that only around 1 in 8 have found jobs so far.

Some 1.1 million migrants have arrived in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, since the start of 2015, many fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.

Security concerns and worries about how the record numbers will integrate have boosted support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

The survey of refugees’ employment status, educational background and values was conducted by the research department of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and the IAB and DIW research institutes.

It shows that of the refugees who arrived last year and in January 2016, 13 percent are in work. Many newcomers are still in the process of getting asylum applications assessed and so have limited access to the labor market, it found.

Herbert Bruecker of the IAB Institute for Employment Research said experience showed around 50 percent of migrants tended to have found employment after living in Germany for five years, at least 60 percent were in work after 10 years and 70 percent after 15 years.

He said that would probably prove true of recent immigrants, especially as they were being offered more language courses and help from job centers and German people than in the past.

But he said recent newcomers had not arrived primarily to work and were not as well prepared as other groups. The large number of new arrivals also meant more competition for jobs.

Among those who are not in work and arrived in Germany since January 2013, more than three-quarters said they “certainly” wanted a job and 15 percent said they “probably” wanted one.

Of adult refugees, 58 percent had spent 10 years or more at school, in vocational training and at university before arriving in Germany, the survey found, compared with 88 percent of Germans. Just under a third had attended university or a vocational school, while 1 in 10 went only to primary school and 9 percent never went to school.

Almost three-quarters of refugees aged 18-65 said they had gained work experience before arriving in Germany, with 13 percent having been employees in managerial positions.

Around 90 percent of refugees could not speak German when they arrived, a major stumbling block for many employers.

The survey found many of the new arrivals shared Germany’s values – 96 percent agreed there should be a democratic system and 92 percent said equal rights for men and women were part of democracy.

On average, refugees have established contact with three German people and five people from their home countries who they did not previously know.

The survey of 2,349 refugees aged 18 plus was conducted between June and October 2016. The refugees arrived in Germany between Jan. 1, 2013 and Jan. 31, 2016.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

How the US justifies drone strikes: targeted killing, secrecy and the law

  • For decades the US condemned targeted killings, characterizing them as assassinations – but it was unclear what distinguished America’s drone campaign from the killings it historically rejected as unlawful
  • Obama will not restrict drone strike ‘playbook’ before Trump takes office

November 15, 2016

by Jameel Jaffer

The Guardian

The sun had yet to rise when missiles launched by CIA drones struck a clutch of buildings and vehicles in the lower Kurram tribal agency of Pakistan, killing four or five people and injuring another. It was February 22, 2016, and the American drone campaign had entered its second decade. Over the next weeks, officials in Washington and Rome announced that the US military would use the Sigonella air base in Sicily to launch strikes against targets in Libya. American strikes in Yemen killed four people driving on a road in the governorate of Shabwah and eight people in two small villages in the governorate of Abyan. A strike in Syria killed an Indian citizen believed to be a recruiter for the self-styled Islamic State, and another strike killed a suspected Islamic State fighter in northern Iraq. A particularly bloody series of drone strikes and airstrikes in Somalia incinerated some 150 suspected militants at what American officials described as a training camp for terrorists. In south-eastern Afghanistan, a series of drone strikes killed 12 men in a pickup truck, two men who attempted to retrieve the bodies, and another three men who approached the area when they became worried about the others.

Over just a short period in early 2016, in other words, the United States deployed remotely piloted aircraft to carry out deadly attacks in six countries across central and south Asia, north Africa, and the Middle East, and it announced that it had expanded its capacity to carry out attacks in a seventh. And yet with the possible exception of the strike in Somalia, which garnered news coverage because of the extraordinary death toll, the drone attacks did not seem to spark controversy or reflection. As the 2016 presidential primaries were getting under way, sporadic and sketchy reports of strikes in remote regions of the world provided a kind of background noise – a drone in a different sense of the word – to which Americans had become inured.

Senior officials in the administration of President Barack Obama variously described drone strikes as “precise,” “closely supervised,” “effective,” “indispensable,” and even the “only game in town” – but what they emphasized most of all is that the drone strikes they authorized were lawful.

In this context, though, “lawful” had a specialized meaning. Except at the highest level of abstraction, the law of the drone campaign had not been enacted by Congress or published in the US Code. No federal agency had issued regulations relating to drone strikes, and no federal court had adjudicated their legality. Obama administration officials insisted that drone strikes were lawful, but the “law” they invoked was their own. It was written by executive branch lawyers behind closed doors, withheld from the public and even from Congress, and shielded from judicial review.

Secret law is unsettling in any context, but it was especially so in this one. For decades the US government had condemned targeted killings, characterizing them as assassinations or extrajudicial executions. On its face, the drone campaign signified a dramatic departure from that position – a departure that demanded explanation, at the very least. It was far from obvious what distinguished American drone strikes from the targeted killings the United States had historically rejected as unlawful. Nor was it clear how these targeted killings could be reconciled with international human rights law, with a decades-old executive order that bans assassinations, with the constitutional guarantee of due process, or, for that matter, with domestic laws that criminalize murder.

The scale of the drone campaign, and the human cost of it, made government secrecy even more disquieting. The United States was carrying out lethal strikes not only on actual battlefields, but in places far removed from them as well. The first strike President Obama authorized killed at least nine people in the tribal areas of Pakistan. An early strike in Yemen, albeit one carried out with cruise missiles rather than drones, killed two families, including as many as 21 children – and, according to the New York Times, “left behind a trail of cluster bombs that subsequently killed more innocents.” By the end of President Obama’s first term, American strikes had killed several thousand people in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, including many hundreds of civilian bystanders. The deaths of innocents raised sharp moral questions, and the moral questions gave urgency to the legal ones.

Early in 2010, American media organizations began to report that Anwar al-Awlaki, an American, had been added to “kill lists” maintained by the CIA and JSOC – the US military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Awlaki had once been a preacher at a mosque near Falls Church, Virginia. He had condemned the September 11 attacks, encouraged “interfaith dialogue,” and been invited to dine at the Pentagon. In the weeks after the attacks, however, the FBI became suspicious of Awlaki’s earlier contact with several of the hijackers. FBI agents interviewed Awlaki repeatedly and placed him under constant surveillance. In 2002, citing a “climate of fear [and] intimidation,” Awlaki left the United States for the United Kingdom. Two years later he returned to Yemen, where he had spent much of his childhood and where most of his family still lived.

But Awlaki’s past followed him to Yemen. Soon after he arrived there, the United States pressured the Yemeni government to detain him. He was imprisoned without trial. By the time he was freed 18 months later – the FBI having been unable to provide the Yemeni government with evidence to justify his continued imprisonment – his views toward the United States had hardened. In online videos, and in an English-language magazine called Inspire, he became an unforgiving critic of US policies and, in some instances, an apologist for attacks against Americans. In 2009, a Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to detonate plastic explosives on a Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam to Detroit; American intelligence officials came to suspect that he had been equipped by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based group, and that he had been instructed by Awlaki. By early 2010, American intelligence officials were describing Awlaki as the “Bin Laden of the internet” and “the most dangerous man in the world” – and they had marked him for death.

Intelligence officials’ claims about Awlaki were exceptionally grave ones, but the astonishing revelation that the government intended to carry out the deliberate and premeditated targeted killing of one of its own citizens – something the United States had not done since at least the civil war – brought the debate about the government’s drone campaign into American courtrooms. I traveled to Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, in the spring of 2010 with Ben Wizner, one of my colleagues at the American Civil Liberties Union, to meet with Nasser al-Awlaki, Anwar’s father. At the offices of a Yemeni human rights organization, Dr Awlaki, an American-trained economist who had gone on to become a minister in Yemen’s government and then the president of Yemen’s largest university, asked us, disbelievingly, whether the US constitution could possibly permit what the government was proposing to do. When Ben and I returned to New York, we worked with Pardiss Kebriaei and Maria LaHood at the Center for Constitutional Rights to develop a challenge to the lawfulness of the government’s kill lists.

It was a bizarre death penalty case in which there was no indictment, the accused was in hiding overseas, and the prosecutors, who had already pronounced the sentence, were apoplectic at the suggestion that there should be anything resembling a trial. In the fall of 2010, John Bates, a federal district court judge, presided over a hearing in which justice department lawyers argued that the constitution permits the government to kill suspected terrorists without judicial process, and we argued in response that if the constitution meant anything at all, it surely meant that the government could not kill its own citizens without ever justifying its actions to a court. In his subsequent ruling, Bates wrote that the case was “unique and extraordinary,” and he conceded that it raised profound questions about “the proper role of the courts in our constitutional structure,” but he nonetheless dismissed the case on procedural and jurisdictional grounds. Nine months later, with the court having declined to intervene, a drone strike in Yemen’s northern al-Jawf governorate killed Awlaki and three others, including Samir Khan, the 25-year-old American who published and edited Inspire.

Less expected – and more shocking – was the US government’s killing, two weeks later, of Anwar’s American-born son, Abdulrahman. A gangly, bookish 16-year-old, Abdulrahman had set out from his grandparents’ home in Sana’a determined to find his father. Not knowing where to look, he traveled by bus to the southern governorate of Shabwah, where his extended family lived. He learned there of the drone strike that had killed his father hundreds of miles to the north. While President Obama was at Fort Myer in Virginia describing the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki as “a tribute to our intelligence community,” 16-year-old Abdulrahman was in the remote province of Shabwah struggling to come to terms with his father’s death. One evening he and his cousins stopped by the side of the road at the kind of informal, open-air restaurant that is common in Yemen. A group of men already gathered there were roasting lamb over an open fire. Abdulrahman and his companions set out a blanket on the ground. They would probably have heard the buzz of drones overhead; perhaps they would have seen a flash of light. Hours later, when other family members arrived at the site, they found only a crater, scattered body parts, and the remnants of American missiles.

We filed another suit, this time on behalf of the estates of Anwar and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Judge Bates had rejected our earlier effort, but we hoped another judge might be more receptive to a case that sought after-the-fact judicial review of the government’s actions – especially because those actions had resulted in the death of a 16-year-old boy. Hina Shamsi, my colleague who argued the case, pressed the court to consider the implications of closing the courthouse door. But this second case was also dismissed, with the government contending again that the lawfulness of drone strikes was for the political branches to decide, and with Judge Rosemary M Collyer ultimately holding that legal remedies that would have been available in other contexts were not available in this one.

The litigation relating to the strikes that killed the three Americans in Yemen prompted a degree of public reflection about the drone campaign and forced the government to clarify and defend some of its positions. It also compelled courts to confront (if not answer) important legal questions relating to the government’s policies. But the debate generated by the litigation was a narrow one, focusing mainly on the scope of the US government’s authority to kill its own citizens, and even that debate was distorted by secrecy and selective disclosure. Government officials declared that Anwar al-Awlaki had been an “operational terrorist,” but they declined to disclose the evidence that supported this charge. They withheld memos in which the justice department concluded that the government could kill terrorism suspects without justifying its actions to a court. They intimated that the killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman had been inadvertent, but they declined to supply an on-the-record account of the strike that resulted in his death, and they withheld the results of their post-strike investigations. They controlled most of the information and disclosed only what they chose to.

This book is possible because the secrecy surrounding American drone strikes has begun, at the margins, to erode. The documents collected here shed light on how a president committed to ending the abuses associated with the Bush administration’s “war on terror” came to dramatically expand one of the practices most identified with that war, and they supply a partial view of the legal and policy framework that underlies that practice. But while many of the documents collected here were meant to be defenses of the drone campaign, ultimately they complicate, at the very least, the government’s oft-repeated argument that the campaign is lawful. To be sure, even the existence of these documents is an indication of the extent to which the drone campaign is saturated with the language of law. Perhaps no administration before this one has tried so assiduously to justify its resort to the weapons of war. But the rules that purportedly limit the government’s actions are imprecise and elastic; they are cherry picked from different legal regimes; the government regards some of them to be discretionary rather than binding; and even the rules the government concedes to be binding cannot, in the government’s view, be enforced in any court. If this is law, it is law without limits – law without constraint.

There is something ironic, and even sad, in the fact that the expansion and normalization of the drone campaign was overseen by President Obama, a onetime professor of constitutional law who was elected after promising to end the lawless national security policies of the administration that preceded his. Perhaps it is also true, though, that only President Obama could have overseen it. When President George W Bush left office, he was unpopular and distrusted. The evidence he had cited to justify the invasion of Iraq had been exposed as a fiction. His administration’s torture policies were widely viewed as an embarrassment and an outrage. The supreme court had repeatedly rejected his policies relating to military detention and prosecution. It is doubtful that the courts or the public would have allowed him to expand the drone campaign.

But many Americans who were appalled when Bush ordered extrajudicial detention were untroubled when Obama ordered extrajudicial killing. If they appreciated the breadth of the power Obama had claimed, they assumed he would use the power wisely. Equally significant, some of the scholars and human rights lawyers who might otherwise have been expected to harshly criticize Obama’s targeted-killing policies were part of Obama’s administration and deeply involved in developing the policies.

Several months before the 2012 presidential election, when it appeared that Americans might not give President Obama a second term, administration officials began to worry privately that the powers they had claimed for themselves might soon be in the hands of another president. They began to consider ways of narrowing the powers they had asserted. By this point, though, the administration had already persuaded a federal judge that the courts had no role to play in determining whether (or when) an American citizen could be targeted by his own government. The administration was already on its way toward persuading another judge that the government should not have to present evidence even after a targeted killing had been carried out. The powers claimed by the Obama administration had become entrenched – so entrenched that they could not readily be surrendered. This was even more true in early 2016, when Obama administration officials turned once again to the question of what legacy they would leave to their successors.

Now the lethal bureaucracy whose growth Obama personally oversaw will be turned over to a new administration. The powers Obama claimed will be wielded by another president. Perhaps as significant is the jarring fact that the practice of targeted killing – assassination, as it would once have been called, without a second thought – no longer seems remarkable, and the fact that the United States now boasts a legal and bureaucratic infrastructure to sustain this practice. Eight years ago the targeted-killing campaign required a legal and bureaucratic infrastructure, but now that infrastructure will demand a targeted-killing campaign. The question the next president will ask is not whether the powers Obama claimed should be exploited, but where, and against whom.

The human skull that challenges the Out of Africa theory

January 29, 2016

by Ancient Origins.com

This is the account of the discovery of a skull that has the potential to change what we know about human evolution, and a suppression and cover-up which followed.  

In 1959, in an area called Chalkidiki in Petralona, Northern Greece, a shepherd came across a small opening to a cave, which became visible when a thick covering of snow finally melted.  He gathered a group of villagers to help him clear the entrance so they could go inside and explore.  They found a cave rich in stalactites and stalagmites. But they also found something surprising – a human skull embedded in the wall (later research also uncovered a huge number of fossils including pre-human species, animal hair, fossilized wood, and stone and bone tools).

Petralona SkullThe skull was given to the University of Thessaloniki in Greece by the President of the Petralona Community. The agreement was that once the research was done, a museum would be opened featuring the findings from the Petralona cave, and the skull would be returned to be displayed in the museum – something that never happened.

Dr Aris Poulianos, member of the UNESCO’s IUAES (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences), later founder of the Anthropological Association of Greece, and an expert anthropologist who was working at the University of Moscow at the time, was invited by the Prime Minister of Greece to return to Greece to take a position of a University Chair in Athens.  This was due to the publication of his book, ‘The Origins of the Greeks’, which provides excellent research showing that Greek people didn’t originate from the Slavic nations but were indigenous to Greece.  Upon his return to Greece, Dr Poulianos was made aware of the discovery of the skull at Petralona, and immediately started studying the Petralona cave and skull.

The ‘Petralona man’, or Archanthropus of Petralona, as it has since been called, was found to be 700,000 years old, making it the oldest human europeoid (presenting European traits) of that age ever discovered in Europe. Dr Poulianos’ research showed that the Petralona man evolved separately in Europe and was not an ancestor of a species that came out of Africa.

In 1964, independent German researchers, Breitinger and Sickenberg, tried to dismiss Dr Poulianos’ findings, arguing that the skull was only 50,000 years old and was indeed an ancestor that came from Africa.  However, research published in the US in 1971 in the prestigious Archaeology magazine, backed up the findings that the skull was indeed 700,000 years old.  This was based on an analysis of the cave’s stratigraphy and the sediment in which the skull was embedded.  Further research in the cave discovered isolated teeth and two pre-human skeletons dating back 800,000 years, as well as other fossils of various species.

Today, most academics who have analyzed the Petralona remains say that the cranium of the Archanthropus of Petralona belongs to an archaic hominid distinguished from Homo erectus, and from both the classic Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans, but showing characterists of all those species and presenting strong European traits.  A skull dating back 700,000 which is either Homo sapien or part Homo sapien is in direct conflict with the Out of Africa theory of human evolution.

Petralona Man

Further excavations continued in the cave of Petralona with the participation of international researchers (46 specialists from 12 separate countries), which provided further proof of Dr Poulianos’ claims, including remarkable findings like fossilized pieces of wood, an oak leaf, animal hair and coprolites, which enabled accurate dating, as well as the almost continuous presence of stone and bone tools of the Archanthropus evolutionary stage, from the lower (750,000 years) to the upper (550,000 years) layers of sediment within the cave.

The research, after an interruption due to the dictatorship in Greece, continued up to 1983. It was then ordered by the government that all excavations at the site were forbidden to anyone, including the original archaeological team, and for 15 years nobody had access to the site or to the findings – no reason was provided by the government.  Was this denial of access to prevent the extraction of whatever new scientific conclusions remained hidden within the incredible fossils embedded within the layers of the caves’ walls?

After the Anthropological Society of Greece took the case to the courts, 15 years later they were again allowed access to the cave.  Since then the Ministry of Culture is trying in any way to overcome the Courts decision and further trials proceed.

Aris PoulianosDr Poulianos’ findings contradicted conventional views regarding human evolution and his research was suppressed.  Dr Poulianos and his wife were physically attacked and injured in their home in 2012 and the culprits were never been found. He and his team have been denied further access to the cave to complete their research and study, and the whereabouts of the skull is now unknown.

Today a sign sits outside the cave of Petralona stating that the skull found in the cave was 300,000 years old, and on Wikipedia today you will see references dismissing the evidence and trying to date the Petralona skull within acceptable parameters – between 160,000 and 240,000 years old.

Recently, Professor C.G. Nicholas Mascie-Taylor of the University of Cambridge sent a letter to the Ministry of Culture in Greece saying that the correct date of the skull is 700,000 years old and not 300,000. He has also challenged the government’s suppression of information regarding this incredible discovery.

The Greek Ministry of Education, Religions, Culture and Sports,

Bouboulinas 20-22,

Athens 106 82,


5 September 2012

Dear Sir,

I am writing on behalf of the European Anthropological Association, which is the umbrella professional and academic association linking all of the national European biological anthropology and human biology societies, to express our concerns about the conservation of the Petralona Cave and Skull, the misinformation of the dating of the skull, as well as the treatment of personnel associated with the conservation of the Cave.

The bases of our concerns are that the skull has been damaged through many scratches and the crown of a tooth (1st molar) cut off. As requested by Anthropological Association of Greece what is required is a detailed description of the present status of the skull, so that no one in future can arbitrarily damage it further. There is also the problem of dating which has been scientifically dated at about 700,000 years ago not 300,000 as is given at the information desk. There is a very detailed record of the excavations and findings which need to receive further public presentation but which have never been catalogued so as to prevent specimens going missing.

It is very unfortunate that the Greek Archaeological Department stopped Dr Aris Poulianos from further work in the Cave without any explanation. It is also very worrying that Dr Poulianos and his wife were physically attacked and injured in their home earlier this year and the culprits have not been found. He was also verbally abused when attempting to give an invited presentation to teachers and school children.

Senior anthropologists and geologists have also been denied access to the Cave and the specimens for further study on a number of occasions without substantive reasons. Earlier this year there has also been misinformation given to the Greek Parliament concerning financial aspects of the Cave.

I look forward to receiving answers to these questions.

Yours faithfully

Professor C G N Mascie-Taylor MA, PhD, ScD (all Cambridge), FSB, FNAS (Hungary)

Professor of Human Population Biology and Health and President of the European Anthropological Association




The most important conclusion of Dr Poulianos’ research regards the co-existence of all main anthropological types (African – Kobi, Asian – Beijing and European – Petralona) at the same almost period (700,000, 500,000 and 750,000 respectively). That means: the appearance of the today human main populations (races or even better phyllae – from the Greek language and that’s why polyphyletic etc) is tending to almost 1,000,000 m.y.a. and not to only 10,000 or 30,000 years as currently considered world wide.

However, independently if there is a scientific dispute on the above, it is only sad to become aware that research is not allowed to those who are not coordinated to the “standard” knowledge, risking even their lives in front of gun shooters.

Is this a cover up of an incredible discovery that the powers-that-be do not want us to have access to?  You be the judge.

How We Will Win

Trump’s revolution and the road to freedom

November 16, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


What the libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard dubbed the welfare-warfare state has held sway in the US, and in the West generally, since the run up to World War II. The “welfare” part of the equation describes the growth of the State as the source and guarantor of social equity, while the “warfare” side describes the role of the State – in this case, the American State – as the source and guarantor of the “international order.”

For the past half century or so this system has proved impregnable to would-be challengers. Indeed, the solidity and seeming permanence of this state of affairs was so convincing that certain of its champions theorized that we had reached, at long last, “the end of history” – that future developments in political and social science would merely refine and perfect the social democratic status quo, which would slowly but surely spread over the entire globe.

Yet history stubbornly refused to recognize its supposed endpoint. Things kept … happening, until, today, this supposedly immortal status quo is threatening to break apart in the face of populist rebellions from below.

The populist revolt currently shaking the American political landscape, and similar eruptions in Europe, herald the same sea change, albeit with somewhat different degrees of seismic intensity. In the United States, where a right-wing populist movement led by now President-elect Donald Trump has scored a major upset, the insurgents have stormed the fortress, and seized the inner sanctum of the ruling elite – the White House.

Trump defeated his Republican opponents and Hillary Clinton by attacking what he called their “globalist” agenda, and promised to put “America first” – a slogan that described his anti-Establishment politics to a tee. “Globalism,” or the idea of the American welfare-warfare state as the epicenter of a world system, perfectly encapsulates the ideology of the political class at “the end of history” – and captures the hubris that was their undoing.

Having supposedly achieved socioeconomic and moral perfection, our rulers embarked on a crusade to export their achievement to the rest of the world: and yet this was hardly a new idea. A similar crusade was undertaken by Woodrow Wilson in his war to “make the world safe for democracy,” and his successors continued the same mischief through World War II and the cold war.

This ongoing campaign for global uplift took on a new urgency with the fall of Communism in the former Soviet Union. Under the pretext of avenging the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and “draining the swamp” of the Middle East, the administration of George W. Bush undertook what many of his neoconservative cheerleaders saw as the final offensive against the last remnants of opposition to what Bush the Elder had called the “New World Order.”

That this ended in utter disaster did not deter the interventionists in the least. While ordinary people caviled at the monetary and human costs of perpetual war, the political class – secure in the certainty that both parties were safely in their hands – charged ahead. Their goal: eliminating the last vestiges of opposition to their international hegemony. This would eventually have to mean a confrontation with the two big holdouts: a new cold war with Russia, and the encirclement of China.

The presumed success of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was supposed to have been the launching pad for this grand project – but something unprecedented happened on the way to the victory parade.

The welfare-warfare state has been held together politically by the fact that the two major parties were engaged in a tradeoff. The Democrats, who bought off entire constituencies with tax dollars, were allowed to expand the welfare part of the equation in exchange for giving the Republicans a free hand to bloat the other half of the equation beyond all rational definitions of “national defense.” The political term for this is “logrolling,” or, in layman’s terms, you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours.

This deal was sealed and justified by the respective ideologies of the two parties: the Democrats with their social-democratic conception of the State, and the Republicans with their internationalist foreign policy. And while the two parties had ostensible differences, these were more a matter of degree than of principle: and after decades of logrolling, the Republicans basically abandoned their formal devotion to small government, and the Democrats ditched their peacenik pretensions. In effect, the two parties became the Uni-party of the welfare-warfare state.

Trump overturned this cozy arrangement. By challenging the ideology of globalism, and the domestic policies that are the offspring of the globalist project, he overthrew the ideological and electoral foundations of the status quo.

His first target was the widely misunderstood “free trade” policies of the business and foreign policy elites – which have nothing to do with free trade, and everything to do with the severing of the political class from any real connection with our country.

Trump attacked the “bad deals” we have been making with the low-wage export-dependent colonies of the American Imperium: not only Mexico but also the “Asian tigers,” Japan, South Korea, and now Vietnam. The basic template of the deal American policymakers made was this: in exchange for the free passage of goods in one direction, the colonies had to agree to either the military occupation of their territories, or, at the very least, the complete subordination of these favored nations to the exigencies of US foreign policy. Thus, US troops occupied South Korea, and Japan was forced to give up Okinawa to the tender mercies of rampaging US soldiers: the “hearty welcome” given to US ships in the former American base at Cam Ranh Bay portends Vietnam’s developing future military alliance with Washington. The dropping of the arms embargo, Obama’s visit to Vietnam, and new trading relationship – more uni-directonal “free trade” – adds our former Communist enemies to the outer fringes of the Empire. The deal with Mexico was more complex – since military occupation was out of the question, given the sensitivities of the Mexican public – but essentially the same: the free passage of goods and people was permitted, as long as American business lobbied on behalf of what was essentially an open borders policy and the Mexicans didn’t go Chavista on us.

The pattern is clear enough: we allow our colonies, awash in cheap labor, to hollow out our industrial base, while the only products we ship to them are weapons, software, and cold hard cash. Indeed, under President Obama we led the world in arms exports, up 27 percent during this administration.

The winners in this arrangement are the military-industrial-congressional complex, the banks, Silicon Valley, and the Davos crowd. The losers: the working men and women of this country.

This isn’t “free trade” – it’s legalized looting carried out under the rubric of “national security,” i.e. empire-building. Trump recognized this, and also saw that it’s an empire of a peculiar sort, the kind where everything goes out and nothing comes in.

In the past, all empires were founded on the principle of “to the victor goes the spoils.” Yet the American Empire has reversed this historical tradition. In the Bizarro World of our enlightened rulers, it’s to the conquered go the spoils. We defeated Germany in a war in which millions perished – and yet, today, our troops stand on their soil, protecting them from a largely nonexistent threat from the East, while US military bases enrich the surrounding countryside. Japan enjoys the same luxurious accommodations.

Reminding the voters of our $20 trillion national debt, Trump dared to ask: Why are we doing this? Oh, but NATO protects the West from Russia, was the answer from the foreign policy “experts,” who scoffed that a major party candidate would ever call that sclerotic institution “obsolete.” Trump’s answer rocked their world: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get along with the Russians?”

“Treason!” cried the militarists. He’s a “Russian puppet!” screeched Hillary. A puzzled people listened in wonder: was it Russia that had taken away their jobs? Was the Kremlin behind the hollowing out of American industry? Was the threat of Putin turning “Red Dawn” into a reality the biggest threat to their personal livelihoods?

The welfare-warfare state could continue only so long as 1) The two parties played their assigned roles, and 2) The accumulated capital and productivity of what had once been the mighty American economy continued to grow and create. When the latter started to stall and sputter to a virtual halt, the former began to break down.

After fighting a series of wars that emptied the Treasury, and pouring trillions more into one social engineering project after another, the accumulated seed corn of generations was gone. In the hollowed-out core of what was once the world’s greatest industrial power opiod addiction spread, along with a sense of hopelessness and dislocation, while the financialization of the economy – generated by the Federal Reserve’s pump-priming – enriched the coastal elites at the expense of Flyover Country.

The stage was set for the rise – and ultimate victory – of one Donald J. Trump.

Having announced his candidacy, GOP orthodoxy demanded that he endorse the aggressive internationalism of the neoconservative foreign policy “experts.” It was also expected that he would carry the “free market” banner of neo-liberal austerity policies, which require their adherents to advocate throwing little old ladies off Social Security — while negotiating trade deals that deprive their grandsons of any job outside of McDonalds. But Trump wasn’t playing by the rules.

He challenged the neocons’ foreign policy orthodoxy, while taking it a step further – famously declaring that we were lied into the Iraq war, questioning the utility of the NATO alliance, and wondering aloud why we continue to send billions to Ukraine, Uganda, and Lower Slobbovia, while our veterans are dying in the streets of America’s decaying cities.

Sweeping aside the neoconservative pygmies (and Rand Paul) who clotted the GOP primary debate stage, Trump sent them scurrying to the sidelines one-by-one – and then took on not only Hillary, but also the media, the pollsters, the leadership of both parties, academia, and the Money Power.

And he won.

Libertarians cavil at his domestic program: big infrastructure projects, no cuts to “entitlements,” and his dubious commitment to civil liberties. Yet what they fail to understand is that his proposed dismantling of the “New World Order” – America’s role as world policeman – would, if put into effect, represent the biggest rollback of State power since the American Revolution. As Ron Paul has often remarked, if only we let go of the Empire, and brought all that money home, the financial crisis of the welfare state would disappear overnight. Which means we could have that debate about how to fund a Social Security system fast approaching bankruptcy without the threat of grandma being thrown out on the street.

Furthermore, without our endless series of foreign wars generating fresh waves of recruits to terrorist groups, the need for a system of universal surveillance would gradually disappear. While our rulers would not voluntarily recognize this change, and give up their power to spy on us, they would have a much harder time justifying it.

Without the albatross of empire hanging around our necks, so many resources would be freed up that the country would be renewed, both financially and spiritually. The long history of the process by which the State advanced on the private sector, and co-opted so many institutions that used to be the province of free Americans, would be reversed. For if you look at the history of the past 100 years, one thing is clear: each great leap forward of State power has been preceded and justified by war. Both world wars, and the cold war succeeded in centralizing and increasing government activism, all in the name of “national security.”

This, indeed, was the pretext the cold war conservatives used to justify their capitulation to the growth of State power. William F. Buckley, Jr., the founder of National Review and the godfather of the modern conservative movement, gave their game away in a 1951 essay for Commonweal, wherein he denounced the growing State power as “aggression,” but bemoaned the unfortunate fact that the alleged threat from the Soviet Union required “the extensive and productive tax laws that are needed to support a vigorous anti-Communist foreign policy.” He went on to write that the “thus far invincible aggressiveness of the Soviet Union imminently threatens U.S. security,” which meant that:

“[W]e have got to accept Big Government for the duration — for neither an offensive nor a defensive war can be waged … except through the instrumentality of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores.”

Conservatives, he wrote, must therefore support “large armies and air forces, atomic energy, central intelligence, war production boards and the attendant centralization of power in Washington — even with Truman at the reins of it all.”

This wasn’t true then – communism was an unsustainable system that had to collapse of its own impossible weight. And even if this is arguable, the idea that we must embrace “a totalitarian regime within our shores” seems a bit overwrought, to say the least. Be that as it may, the external “threat” to the United States is much less credible today – indeed, it is virtually nonexistent. The only real existential threat we face is that which comes from within – the threat of bankruptcy, of decline, of overreach brought on by the hubris of our rulers.

Trump saw this – and launched a crusade to “make America great again.” Not by vanquishing some foreign bogeyman, but by challenging and defeating a decadent elite that is draining the country dry with its foreign wars, its war on American workers, and a subversive allegiance to transnational entities that owe no loyalty to this country.

Trump may stumble on the road to success: his appointments may fly in the face of his declared goals; his policies may be wildly inconsistent; he may even take us into another war or two. Yet the fact remains that ideas rule the world, and determine the course of nations – and of history. The ideological challenge to the elites stands, even if Trump falls by the wayside. The working “deal” between the two parties is broken: the structural supports that have held up the welfare-warfare state all through the twentieth century and into the first two decades of the twenty-first have failed. Like Samson bringing down the temple, Trump has wrecked it all, and he has done it single-handedly. For that we owe him a great debt – although many if not most libertarians either don’t know it or are unwilling to acknowledge it.

Back in 1992, in the last years of Murray Rothbard’s life, the brilliant founder and leading theoretician of the modern libertarian movement gave a speech before the first meeting of the John Randolph Club, a convergence of libertarians and paleoconservatives. Entitled “A Strategy for the Right,” it outlined the means by which a united paleo-libertarian movement could take back the country. I won’t try to summarize what he said in that seminal talk here, except to say it was vintage Rothbard, and that it ended on a characteristically optimistic note in which he seemed to foresee the possibilities that are opening up before us today:

“When I was growing up, I found that the main argument against laissez-faire, and for socialism, was that socialism and communism were inevitable: ‘You can’t turn back the clock!’ they chanted, ‘you can’t turn back the clock.’ But the clock of the once-mighty Soviet Union, the clock of Marxism-Leninism, a creed that once mastered half the world, is not only turned back but lies dead and broken forever. But we must not rest content with this victory. For though Marxism-Bolshevism is gone forever, there still remains, plaguing us everywhere, its evil cousin … well, let’s just call it ‘Menshevism,’ or ‘social democracy.’

“Social democracy is still here in all its variants, defining our entire respectable political spectrum, from advanced victimology and feminism on the Left over to neoconservatism on the Right. We are now trapped, in America, inside a Menshevik fantasy, with the narrow bounds of respectable debate set for us by various brands of Marxists. It is now our task, the task of the resurgent right, of the paleo movement, to break those bonds, to finish the job, to finish off Marxism forever.”

Referring to an influential book, The Radical Right, edited by Daniel Bell, a prominent neoconservative sociologist, Rothbard continued:

“One of the authors of the Daniel Bell volume says, in horror and astonishment, that the radical right intends to repeal the 20th century. Heaven forfend! Who would want to repeal the 20th century, the century of horror, the century of collectivism, the century of mass destruction and genocide, who would want to repeal that! Well, we propose to do just that.

“With the inspiration of the death of the Soviet Union before us, we now know that it can be done. We shall break the clock of social democracy. We shall break the clock of the Great Society. We shall break the clock of the welfare state. We shall break the clock of the New Deal. We shall break the clock of Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom and perpetual war. We shall repeal the 20th century.

“One of the most inspiring and wonderful sights of our time was to see the peoples of the Soviet Union rising up last year to tear down in their fury the statues of Lenin, to obliterate the Leninist legacy. We, too, shall tear down all the statues of Franklin D. Roosevelt, of Harry Truman, of Woodrow Wilson, melt them down and beat them into plowshares and pruning hooks, and usher in a 21st century of peace, freedom, and prosperity.”

While historical analogies necessarily lack precision, in the broader sense they are often on the mark, and in this case comparing the electoral insurrection we are witnessing today to the series of upsurges that overthrew the Russian Czar is not entirely out of place. In this context, the Trumpian Revolution is the 1905 upsurge that overthrew Nicholas II, the last of the Romanovs – and paved the way for the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. While Trump is no Kerensky – a weak, vacillating character, soon swept aside by the tides of revolutionary activism – this is all the better. For only a strong leader with more than a touch of the demagogue about him could have broken the power of the oligarchs and set us on the road to freedom.


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