Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News November 26, 2018

Nov 26 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. November 26, 2018: “In the early 1990s the newly democratic Russian government conducted a number of privatization auctions to divest itself of the money losing and obsolete industrial factories, the State could no longer afford to run. In a characteristically Russian style the dinosaurs of the Soviet industrial era were sold in secretive auctions at fire sale prices to politically connected interest groups. The bidding involved time tested auction frauds, forbidden even on Ebay Internet bazaar: bid shielding, denial of access, sniping, collusion, closed-door political maneuvering, bribery and death threats.

From the winners of such auctions arose a unique social class of Russians, the oligarchs. The new Super-Russians were granted political and economic power, unprecedented in post-Soviet Russian history. They proceeded to siphon capital from the productive properties so generously gifted to them, directing hard currency away from Russia and into the Swiss banks, shady offshore companies, and Western investment management firms. The oligarchs made news buying Rolls Royce cars, sports teams and castles in Europe, and vacation homes all over the world.

The oligarchs also managed and operated their holdings, with varying degrees of success. By far the most triumphant of such ventures was the OAO NK YUKOS. One of the world’s largest non-state oil companies, Yukos had proven oil reserves of 14.7 billion barrels, employed 100,000 people, pumped 1.6 million barrels a day (2% of world output), and had shares listed in on stock exchanges in Russia, Germany, England and the USA.

MFO Group Menatep, an investment holding company created by Mikhail Khodorkovsky had controlling interest in the company and held 61% of its stock.

Group Menatep attracted top Western talent to reorganize, modernize and expand the company, increased production to 591 million barrels in 2003, secured financing from Societe Generale and other foreign banks, and created one of the world’s largest oil producers by completed the first merger of formerly State owned oil companies: Yukos and Sibneft. Western investors observed in wonder as Yukos achieved previously unseen in Russia standards for honorable business practices and financial transparency. Yukos published independently audited financial statements, issued securities in America and Europe, and even funded a private pension plan for its 100,000 employees.

Foreign investors lent over $1.2 billion to Yukos and bought up about 20% of the company’s common stock.

Like all good things in Russia, this era of wealth building came to an abrupt halt when the oligarchs broke the sacred covenant with the Russian government – the oath of loyalty. Wealth and politics are intimately intertwined in Russia, where capital is skillfully and secretively deployed to achieve political influence, which in turn is used to increase and perpetuate wealth. The oligarchs made a fatal mistake of threatening President Putin’s power by funding dissident political parties like the liberal Yabloko group lead by Grigory Yavlinksy, who has openly criticized the government.

Since the beginning of time the goal of perpetuating its power was of primary importance to the ruling party. Everything else, including effective administration of the government came secondary.

Putin declared war on its unfaithful Oligarchs with the July 2003 arrest of Group Menatep director Platon Lebedev. He was charged with defrauding the state in the 1994 privatization sale of Apatit fertilizer manufacturer. A week later KGB raided Yukos offices removing computers and documents. On October 25, 2003 masked gunmen arrested Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky on a business trip to Siberia. He was charged with fraud and tax evasion and jailed in Moscow. In December 2003 the government demanded $3.5 billion in back taxes from Yukos. On March 4, 2004 Stephen Curtis, who replaced Platon Lebedev as Group Menatep director after Mr. Lebedev’s arrest on fraud and tax evasion charges is killed. Witnesses report that a helicopter carrying Mr. Curtis from London exploded in midair. Prolonged imprisonment and brutal treatment of Mrs. Lebedev and Khodorkovsky brought about dramatic overseas flight of other Yukos managers.

With opposition on the run, the Russian government began to dismantle the oligarchic empire with nationalization of Yuganskneftegaz unit, which delivers 60% of Yukos’ oil production, in the best traditions of Cuba’s Fidel Castro.”

 

The Table of Contents 

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 90
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • French ‘gilets jaunes’ protests turn violent on the streets of Paris
  • Washington’s Erroneous Notion That the Persian Gulf Is an American Lake
  • Tension escalates after Russia seizes Ukraine naval ships
  • Russia ignores Western calls to free captured Ukrainian ships
  • In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 90

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 201

 

  • Jul 17, 2018

“The sanctions are remaining. The hostages are back. There have been no tests. There have been no rockets going up for a period of nine months.”

Source: Remarks before meeting with congressional leaders

in fact: “Nine months” is an exaggeration. North Korea’s last known missile test prior to this comment was on November 28, 2017, when it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in the Sea of Japan. That was less than eight months before this meeting on July 17, 2018.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“As you know, President Obama was given information (about alleged Russian interference) just prior to the election — last election, 2016 — and they decided not to do anything about it. The reason they decided that was pretty obvious to all: they thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and they didn’t think it was a big deal. When I won the election, they thought it was a very big deal.”

Source: Remarks before meeting with congressional leaders

in fact: This is an inaccurate description of Obama’s thoughts and actions. While Obama has been widely faulted, including by many Democrats, for not responding more aggressively when he was informed of the reported Russian interference in the 2016 election, he certainly did not think it was no “big deal” until Trump’s victory. In October 2016, a month before the election, the administration issued an extraordinary statement attributing the election interference to “Russia’s senior-most officials.” According to a comprehensive Washington Post story, Obama and his officials also delivered a series of warnings to Russia: CIA director John Brennan warned his Russian counterpart in August 2016; “a month later, Obama confronted Putin directly during a meeting of world leaders in Hangzhou, China”; national security adviser Susan Rice summoned the Russian ambassador to the White House in October “and handed him a message to relay to Putin”; “then, on Oct. 31, the administration delivered a final pre-election message via a secure channel to Moscow originally created to avert a nuclear exchange.” Obama reportedly also sought to get Republicans and Democrats to sign on to a joint statement denouncing the Russian interference; former Obama officials have alleged that Republican leaders refused to agree to participate.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“We met with the Queen, who is absolutely a terrific person, where she reviewed her honour guard for the first time in 70 years, they tell me.”

Source: Remarks before meeting with congressional leaders

in fact: The Queen — who became Queen 66 years ago — regularly reviews her honour guard. (There was indeed something different about this particular review. Patricia Treble, a veteran observer of the royals, wrote in Maclean’s that the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, was for decades the one who accompanied a visiting head of state to review the honour guard, as the Queen herself stayed on the dais. The ceremony with Trump, Treble noted, was the first honour guard for a foreign leader since Philip retired from royal duties, so the Queen did the walking herself. But she has done such walking at numerous other reviews when foreign leaders have not been present.)

“And I think there’s great unity with NATO. There’s a lot of very positive things happening. There’s a great spirit that we didn’t have before, and there’s a lot of money that they’re putting up. They weren’t paying their bills on time, and now they’re doing that.”

Source: Remarks before meeting with congressional leaders

in fact: NATO countries were not failing to “pay their bills on time” before Trump took office. Trump was referring to the fact that some European countries had not been meeting their pledge to spend 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence. But this 2 per cent figure was merely a guideline or target, not an ironclad commitment, and countries’ failure to meet it did not result in bills of any kind. (One could argue that Trump was speaking figuratively, but he has suggested on several occasions that NATO countries owe the U.S. an actual debt, so we believe he is making a literal claim that is false.)

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“I have helped the NATO Alliance greatly by increasing defense contributions from our NATO Allies by over $44 billion. And Secretary Stoltenberg was fantastic. As you know, he reported that they’ve never had an increase like this in their history, and NATO was actually going down as opposed to going up. And I increased it by my meeting last year — $44 billion.”

Source: Remarks before meeting with congressional leaders

in fact: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the increase was $41 billion, not $44 billion, since Trump took office: “In fact, since President Trump took office, European allies and Canada have added an additional $41 billion to their defence spending.” While Stoltenberg did give Trump credit for reversing a supposed downward trend in spending — “Before, the trend was down. Now, the trend is up,” he said — the reality is that spending was increasing for two years before Trump took office in early 2017. Spending by non-U.S. members increased 1.84 per cent in 2015 and 3.08 per cent in 2016, official NATO figures show.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“And when they came into Germany, they passed everywhere else and they went to lots of other countries, although Hungry would not take any in. But what happened is it was a great migration.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: “Would not take any in” is at least a slight exaggeration, though Hungary’s Orban government was and remains staunchly anti-refugee. The BBC and other news outlets reported in 2015 that 175,000 asylum-seekers had been registered by Hungary that year; Euronews reported: “Hungary made 3,420 asylum decisions in 2015, approving around 15 percent, one of the lowest rates in the EU.”

“So, Angela (Merkel) was a superstar until she allowed millions of people to come into Germany. That really hurt her badly as you know. She was unbeatable in any election. She allowed millions of people to come in.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: “Millions” is an exaggeration. Germany has accepted well under 2 million asylum seekers since the current crisis erupted in 2015, according to German data: about 890,000 in 2015 (revised downward from initial estimates of more than 1 million), about 280,000 in 2016, and 186,844 in 2017, for a total of 1.4 million through last year.

“For the DNC, where the server was never taken by the FBI, they went in there and Podesta or somebody threw them out of the office. They said get out of here.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: Trump is correct that the Democratic National Committee did not grant the FBI access to its server itself; when Trump specifically complains that the FBI was not given the server, we do not call it false. But Trump is wrong that John Podesta might have been the person who thwarted the FBI at the DNC office: Podesta was the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, not a DNC official. “I had nothing to do with the Democratic National Committee 00 I chaired Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. So there was no DNC server for me to refuse to give, and I was never asked for one,” Podesta wrote in the Washington Post. (Also, Trump is misleading when he suggests that this denial was the end of the story — that the FBI was told to “get out of here,” period. Rather, the DNC allowed an expert company, CrowdStrike, to review the server and provide the essential information to the FBI. Former FBI director James Comey testified to the House Intelligence Committee: “We got the forensics from the pros that they hired which — again, best practice is always to get access to the machines themselves, but this my folks tell me was an appropriate substitute.” A DNC spokesperson told PolitiFact: “The DNC coordinated with the FBI and federal intelligence agencies and provided everything they requested, including copies of DNC servers.” Watson added: “Any suggestion that they were denied access to what they wanted for their investigation is completely incorrect.”)

“Am I disappointed that they’re not looking at all of the crooked things taking place on the other side, like the Pakistani man who left with these three servers…And I think he had three servers. I believe they even had them and they don’t want to use him.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: There is no basis for Trump’s claims about Imran Awan, a former information technology employee for Democrats in the House of Representatives. Awan, a Pakistani-American who obtained U.S. citizenship in 2004, pleaded guilty in 2018 to making false statements on a bank loan application. But in that plea deal, the federal government issued a lengthy statement making clear that the Trump-promoted conspiracy theories about Awan and computer servers were baseless. Prosecutors wrote that they had conducted a “thorough” investigation, which included interviews with about 40 witnesses and an examination of computers and devices, and “uncovered no evidence that your client violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems. Particularly, the government has found no evidence that your client illegally removed House data from the House network or from House members’ offices, stole the House Democratic Caucus server, stole or destroyed House information technology equipment, or improperly accessed or transferred government information, including classified or sensitive information.”

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“Barack Obama was president — I wasn’t president when this (alleged Russian interference in the election) happened. Barack Obama was the president of the United States when all of this — this was when I was getting elected. So, I was being elected. And, I guess, I assume this stuff all took place in that area or before. And he was president. And they informed him of it and he did nothing. And then, after I won – see, he thought Hillary was going to win. After I won, he said this is a big deal. Well, it wasn’t a big deal as long as she won.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: This is an inaccurate description of Obama’s thoughts and actions. While Obama has been widely faulted, including by many Democrats, for not responding more aggressively when he was informed of the reported Russian interference in the 2016 election, he certainly did not think it was no “big deal” until Trump’s victory. In October 2016, a month before the election, the administration issued an extraordinary statement attributing the election interference to “Russia’s senior-most officials.” According to a comprehensive Washington Post story, Obama and his officials also delivered a series of private warnings to Russia: CIA director John Brennan warned his Russian counterpart in August 2016; “a month later, Obama confronted Putin directly during a meeting of world leaders in Hangzhou, China”; national security adviser Susan Rice summoned the Russian ambassador to the White House in October “and handed him a message to relay to Putin”; “then, on Oct. 31, the administration delivered a final pre-election message via a secure channel to Moscow originally created to avert a nuclear exchange.” Obama reportedly also sought to get Republicans and Democrats to sign on to a joint statement denouncing the Russian interference; former Obama officials have alleged that Republican leaders refused to agree to participate.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“Our laws are so bad, Tucker, somebody comes in and they step in our land and now we end up with a court case that takes seven years, but the people never show up to court. It’s so bad and we have to do something about it. Like, if they come into our land, we have to say, I’m sorry, you have to leave. Not I’m sorry, please come to court; we’re going to put you in court, you’ll come back in three years for your trial and then they never show up. That’s what’s happening now. It’s crazy.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: It is not true that people “never show up to court” for their immigration hearings. A 2017 report released by the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates a hard line on illegal immigration, concluded that 37 per cent of people who were free pending trial did not show up for hearings over the past two decades. The author of the report, a former immigration judge, said the number was 39 per cent in 2016. In other words, even according to vehement opponents of illegal immigration, most unauthorized immigrants are indeed showing up for court.

Trump has repeated this claim 10 times

“We’ve already started the wall, $1.6 billion. Started in San Diego, California. It’s almost completed in that area. And by the way, the people are really asking for it. It’s interesting. They probably go down as we don’t want the wall, but when it came to their backyard, they wanted that wall and they wanted it up fast.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: There is no basis for Trump’s repeated claim that the people of San Diego want a border wall. San Diego city council voted 5-3 in September to express opposition, and even the Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, has stated that he is opposed: “Mayor Faulconer has been clear in his opposition to a border wall across the entirety of the U.S. southern border,” a spokesperson said in September. (The board of supervisors of San Diego County has voted to endorse a lawsuit against California “sanctuary” laws protecting unauthorized immigrants, but “this county has taken no action with regard to the wall,” county spokesperson Michael Workman told local news outlet KPBS.)

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

“We’ve already started the wall, $1.6 billion. Started in San Diego, California. It’s almost completed in that area.” And: “But we’ve started the wall. We are going to continue with the wall.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started anywhere, and, obviously, no part of the wall has been “almost completed” in San Diego. When he has made this claim in the past, Trump has appeared to be referring to a project in which a 2.25-mile stretch of existing wall in California is being replaced by a taller wall. That project was proposed in 2009, and the Los Angeles Times reported that Border Patrol spokesperson Jonathan Pacheco told reporters in March: “First and foremost, this isn’t Trump’s wall. This isn’t the infrastructure that Trump is trying to bring in. … This new wall replacement has absolutely nothing to do with the prototypes that were shown over in the San Diego area.” The $1.6 billion Congress allocated to border projects in 2018 is not for the type of giant concrete wall Trump has proposed: spending on that kind of wall is expressly prohibited in the legislation, and much of the congressional allocation is for replacement and reinforcement projects rather than new construction.

Trump has repeated this claim 20 times

“And the (NATO) secretary general said that, because of President Trump, last year, we had an additional $44 billion raised for NATO.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the increase was $41 billion, not $44 billion, since Trump took office: “In fact, since President Trump took office, European allies and Canada have added an additional $41 billion to their defence spending.”

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“And on top of that, the European Union kills us on trade…They don’t take our product…They don’t take our cars.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: While American cars are generally not very popular in Europe, it is not true that the EU does not take American cars at all. According to Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistical agency, auto imports from the U.S. to the European Union peaked at €7 billion in 2016 (about $10.7 billion Canadian at current exchange rates) and were approximately €6 billion in 2017 (about $9.2 billion Canadian at current exchange rates). According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association: “The U.S. is the third biggest exporter of cars to the EU in terms of value, representing a 15.4% share of EU imports in 2017.”

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“And on top of that, the European Union kills us on trade…They don’t take our product. They don’t take our farmers’ beautiful goods.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: While U.S. farmers do face some trade barriers in selling into the European Union, it is a gross exaggeration to say “they don’t take our product” or “don’t take our farmers’ beautiful goods.” According to the website of Trump’s own Department of Agriculture, the U.S. exported $11.6 billion in agricultural items to the European Union in 2016 and $11.5 billion in 2017. The EU ranked fourth for U.S. agricultural exports in 2016 and fifth in 2017.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“And on top of that, the European Union kills us on trade. We lost $151 billion last year on trade.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: The U.S. had a $102 billion trade deficit with the European Union in 2017. The $151 billion figure counts only trade in goods and excludes trade in services. Trump, as usual, did not say he was excluding services.

Trump has repeated this claim 29 times

“So, I went there (to NATO) three or four days ago and I said, ‘Folks, you’ve got to pay, because we’re not going to pay it from 70 to 90’ — and I think 90 is really the right — depending on the way you define it, 90 per cent — ‘we’re not going to pay 90 per cent of the costs to defend Europe.'”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: The U.S. is not paying 90 per cent of the costs of defending Europe, and there is no valid way to define NATO spending that results in such a “90 per cent” finding. According to NATO’s 2018 annual report, U.S. defence spending represented 72 per cent of alliance members’ total defence spending in 2017. Of NATO’s own organizational budget, the U.S. contributes a much smaller agreed-upon percentage: 22 per cent.

Trump has repeated this claim 14 times

“Other (NATO) countries were delinquent. In the real estate business, we use the word delinquent. They didn’t pay.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: NATO countries were not “delinquent” before Trump took office. Trump was referring to the fact that some European countries had not been meeting their pledge to spend 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence. But this 2 per cent figure was merely a guideline or target, not an ironclad commitment, and countries’ failure to meet it did not result in bills of any kind. (One could argue that Trump was using “delinquent” in a figurative sense, but he has repeatedly suggested that NATO countries owe the U.S. an actual debt, so we believe he is making a literal claim that is false.)

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“And in World War II, Russia lost 50 million people and helped us win the war.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: “Fifty million” is an exaggeration. Since the 1990s, the Russian government has used a “27 million” figure. Last year, a Russian investigative historian said he had discovered that the true number was 42 million. Regardless, nobody has made a credible claim of 50 million.

“The Democrats want to abolish ICE, which will mean more crime in our country.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is an exaggeration. There is new Democratic momentum behind the movement to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but it far too strong to say this is position of “the Democrats” as a whole. While a smattering of Democratic House members and two prominent senators, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren, had joined the call for abolition at the time Trump spoke, the party’s leadership was opposed to the proposal. Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters: “Look, ICE does some functions that are very much needed. “Reform ICE? Yes. That’s what I think we should do. It needs reform.” Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi, through a spokesperson, has called for a “drastic overhaul of its immigration functions,” but has not endorsed abolition. Further, even the officials who have endorsed abolishing ICE have not called for ending immigration enforcement entirely.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“Thank you @RandPaul. ‘The President has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations – what’s he supposed to think?'”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is a misquote of what Paul, the Republican Kentucky senator, said on CBS that morning. Paul’s actual quote: “I think what this gets into is that the president has undergone an onslaught of a year, year and a half of a partisan investigation accusing him of somehow colluding with the Russians. So I think he’s sensitive to that. But there’s another aspect to the investigation that is a legitimate one, and that is saying did Russians hack Hillary Clinton`s emails? And so there’s a legitimate aspect and then there’s a partisan aspect.” Paul did not, in this interview at least, say “what’s he supposed to think?”

“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is no evidence that Trump raised “vast amounts of money” at this NATO summit. The member countries merely agreed to a declaration in which they reiterated their 2014 commitment to spend 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence by 2024: “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all aspects of the

Defence Investment Pledge agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit, and to submit credible national plans on its implementation, including the spending guidelines for 2024.” French President Emmanuel Macron explicitly rejected Trump’s claims about billions in additional spending: “The communique is clear. It reaffirms a commitment to 2 per cent in 2024. That is all,” he said.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“I had a great meeting with NATO. They have paid $33 Billion more and will pay hundreds of Billions of Dollars more in the future, only because of me. NATO was weak, but now it is strong again (bad for Russia).”

Source: Twitter

in fact: NATO’s secretary general has given Trump credit for NATO allies spending more on their militaries, but the increase is not only because of Trump. Spending by non-U.S. members increased 1.84 per cent in 2015 and 3.08 per cent in 2016, before Trump took office, official NATO figures show. In 2014, alliance members recommitted to their goal of spending 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

November 26, 2018

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.

 

Conversation No. 43

Date: Friday, October 25, 1996

Commenced: 3:45 PM CST

Concluded: 4:15 PM CST

GD: Good afternoon, Robert. Everything going well for you? How was your doctor’s appointment?

RTC: Well, no results but I am resigned to being old, Gregory. When you get to my age, you’ll count the day as wonderful if you can open your eyes in the morning. How is it with you?

GD: It goes. Moving to Illinois was not the best of ideas but my son left me little choice. It was move or else.

RTC: Or else what?

GD: He would leave and I would be stuck with a huge rent for a big house with a swimming pool that he insisted we have but he only used once. I used it all the time but I had to clean it and with all the trees and the occasional drowned squirrel, it was a wonderful addition that I would never want again unless I was rich enough to afford a weekly pool service. Of course the scumbag neighbors wanted their filthy kids to use it but I said that was not possible. I told them my insurance forbade it but actually, who wants an army of screaming little assholes using the pool as their private toilet?

RTC: Sounds like you put your Scrooge hat on this morning.

GD: Actually, I like kids. If you barbecue the small ones, they go well with a pitcher of Jack Daniels.

RTC: For God’s sake, don’t ever say that around a Jew or you’ll go stone deaf from the screaming.

GD: Oh, I know you’re right about that one. It’s a little like saying that you’re looking for a chink in someone’s armor and Asian-Americans start shouting. And never call a spade, a spade.

RTC: Yes. We live in an artificial society, Gregory. Our primitive selves still heft the vanished club with which to smite other cave-dwellers.

GD: In the Mueller book, I made reference to the fact that we now have nice-nice titles for people. I said we call janitors ‘sanitary engineers’ and that Mongoloids are now called ‘differently abled.’ And some reader wrote a nasty letter to my publisher about this which he forwarded for my comment. She said she was horrified and repulsed by the use of the Mongoloid idiot implication. Her little Timmy was the sweetest child on earth and I ought to be thrashed for calling him this terrible, forbidden name.

RTC: Did you reply?

GD: Oh yes. I wrote to her that having read her letter with sorrow because she was stuck with a retard, I suggested, very pointedly, that she ought to put some chlorine in her gene pool.

RTC: (Laughter) Gregory, you didn’t.

GD: Why not? Hell, the Greeks knew something about genes and they left their retards out on the mountainside to either die slowly or more quickly when the animals got them. Keeps the race clean if you follow me. Now, we let the innates breed and they are filling what passes for civilization with all kinds of lopsided mongrels. Malthus doesn’t mention eugenics but I feel that the herd should be thinned and the best breeding stock put in a separate pen to avoid two legged goats or chickens covered with fur.

RTC: You sound like a Nazi. As I recall, we had that Dr. Mengele on the payroll. Down in South America where we wanted him to do work on breeding superior people.

GD: Jesus H. Christ, Robert, talk about infuriating the Jews. If they ever found out about that delightful fact, all their newspapers, magazines and television stations would do terrible damage to the CIA. My grandfather was a Nazi but I am not.

RTC: Over there?

GD: No, here. A member of the AO in good standing.

RTC: Pardon?

GD: The Auslands Organization. Party members residing outside Germany. He was a banker with close connections to the Schreoder people in Cologne. Party member since 1923.

RTC: Well, the CIA is now full of Jews so if they find that out, they will do more than keep your books out of the bookstores.

GD: I suppose if I turned my back on them, I might have some trouble. They don’t like confrontation and love to work in the dark or through surrogates. They hate the Mueller books, not because Mueller was anti-Semitic but because he is presented as a human being. To professional Jews, all Germans are evil. Little children of eight were trained to visit the concentration camp in their neighborhood and toss screaming Jewish babies into the giant bonfires that burned day and night.

RTC: Now I know you’re joking.

GD: Of course but that sort of silly crap is very close to what they do.

RTC: Of course it’s to make money and gain moral superiority. ‘Oh Mr. Salesman, my whole family died in the gas chambers. Terrible. Can you give a poor survivor 50% off on that couch?’

GD: Robert, that’s very unkind. True but unkind.

RTC: I remember when they attacked the Liberty and were killing Americans. Deliberate of course and the Navy sent aircraft to wipe them out. Johnson found out about this and stopped the flight. Why? He didn’t want to offend Israel.

GD: What about dead Americans?

RTC: Pales into insignificance when balanced against the vital needs of precious Israel. At the time, they were murdering captured Etyptian soldiers and they didn’t want us listening in so the tried to sink the ship.

GD: And Pollard…

RTC: Oh my, yes and even now they want us to liberate him. They made him an honorary member of the Knesset and put big bucks away for him in a private account. And this for an American who was stealing important secrets and giving them to what was supposed to be an ally.

GD: Did you ever read the Bunche report?

RTC: Ralph Bunche. The UN man?

GD: Yes. After the Jews murdered Folke Bernadotte, head of the Swedish Red Cross and one of their royal family, solely because he refused to allow them to butcher Arab farmers, they killed him and Bunche, who was on Cypress dealing with refugees, was given his job. The UN prepared a chronology of violence in Palestine from ’44 until ’48…day by day. A wonderful chronicle of arson, murder, kidnapping, poisoning and God alone knows what atrocities. Blowing up hotels full of people and so on. I got a copy from an Army friend and if you like, I can send you a photo copy.

RTC: That I would like to see although there’s nothing I can do about it now.

GD: And when you were in the CIA?

RTC: I never liked dealing with those people. Jim Angleton loved them and kissed their asses but I never trusted any of them.

GD: Especially our allies?

RTC: Oh no, they are not our allies. If it weren’t for the fact that Jews have lots of money and own almost all the newspapers and TV stations, we wouldn’t be so eager to kiss their hairy asses, believe me.

GD: Well, the wheel turns, Robert, and one day there will be a reckoning of sorts. I don’t forsee enormous gas chambers being built in Detroit but the public can get very unpleasant when it gets angry.

RTC: But without the papers and TV and with political correctness in full swing, I can’t see mobs in the street burning down kosher meat stores.

GD: Who knows the way the wheel turns?

RTC: But don’t put any of this into future books, Gregory. Not a good idea. You will be accused of masterminding the assassination of Lincoln.

GD: Well, they may have the newspapers but there are other avenues. I remember once when I was giving a lecture, some old bitch came up to me afterwards and began telling me how her whole family had been turned into lampshades and soap at Auschwutz. She dared me to respond but I did.

RTC: And? God help us all, what did you say?

GD: Why, I said my uncle had died at Auischwitz during the war. She blinked and asked me if he were a Jew.

GD: I told her no, he was not. I said he got drunk on the Fuehrer’s birthday, fell out of a guard tower and broke his neck.

RTC: My God, you have balls, Gregory. What did she do?

GD: I think she swallowed her false teeth. However, everyone around us started laughing so not everyone was mad at me. She waddled off before I could tell her about the new German pizza oven that seated four.

RTC: Gregory, do let us change the subject. Suppose some Jewish FBI agents were listening to this?

GD: I would offer a special bargain on hand soap. I could set up a booth at a fair with hand soap in piles and a sign saying ‘Find a Relative!’ over it. Probably not a good idea. They would ask me for a 50% discount. Oh, by the way, to change the subject…

RTC: Thank God…

GD: Yes. Did you know that the British Prince Consort, Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, was a German, not a Greek. He also had been a uniformed member of several Nazi organizations before he joined the Royal Navy. His brother had been a member of the SS and his sister had been a German nurse so they never got invited to the royal wedding. His uncle was Prince Phillip of Hesse who lived in Italy where he married their Crown Princess. He was Hitler’s art dealer in Italy. Phillip is related to the last Empress of Russia, the German Kaiser  and others. His uncle was a general in the SA. I have a snapshot of him in his Hitler Youth uniform, dagger and all, with a friend of mine when both were at a Hitler Youth rally. I would imagine the IRA would love to buy that one.

RTC: I had heard something about this. Phil is a nasty piece of arrogant work. Anthony Blunt…

GD: I know all about his going to Germany and hiding references to Phillp’s Nazi past. That’s why he never got arrested when he was exposed as a Russian spy.

RTC: You do get around, Gregory.

GD: If we got together, I could tell you lots of interesting facts, Robert. Well, enough evil for the moment. My dog is making go outside noises so I had best leave you. I will call you later, OK?

RTC: Salud.

 

(Concluded at 4:15 Pm CST)

 

French ‘gilets jaunes’ protests turn violent on the streets of Paris

  • Clashes broke out between crowds and police on the Champs Élysées in the second weekend of demonstrations
  • People are in the red. They can’t afford to eat’

November 24, 2018

by Kim Willsher in Paris

The Guardian

Police have used teargas and water cannon against fuel tax protesters in Paris after violent clashes erupted on the Champs Élysées.

Thousands of demonstrators from all over France massed on the famous boulevard on Saturday to express their anger at the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and his government. But what was supposed to be a peaceful protest by the gilets jaunes (yellow jackets) movement degenerated rapidly.

On one side, protesters reportedly infiltrated by far-right extremists and casseurs (rioters and hooligans) tore up paving stones and hurled them and other missiles at police before building barricades that they set alight. On the other, police used teargas, pepper spray, water cannon and bulldozers to clear the road.

Each time the police advanced, protesters rebuilt the barricades, using metal barriers from roadworks and construction sites, rubbish bins and anything else they could find. Many gilets jaunes attempted to withdraw as violence erupted, but were hampered by advancing police. Others retreated, but vowed to remain at the protest. “We were here as pacifists and we were gassed. But we will stay here all day because Macron has to listen,” said one man, who gave his name as Jacques.

A week ago around 280,000 gilets jaunes took part in protests at more than 2,000 locations across France. The demonstrations left two dead and more than 600 injured. The movement, sparked by rises in tax on fuel, has no official leaders and has expressly shunned any political affiliation. Unofficial representatives had called on protesters to bring Paris to a standstill on Saturday.

The demonstrators had been told to stay at the official protest site designated by the French authorities – the Champ de Mars by the Eiffel Tower – and to keep away from a number of sensitive sites in the city, including the Champs Élysées and Place de la Concorde near the Elysée palace.

The first arrivals were angry and frustrated, feeling abandoned by their leaders and determined to make their voices heard. Those who spoke to the Observer were of all ages, held a wide range of jobs or were unemployed, and of various political persuasions. None of those who spoke to journalists – on or off the record – appeared to be looking for a fight.

“We’re here because we’ve had enough,” said Joel Mouilleseaux, 24, a student. “It’s always the same people who have to pay for the madness of others. We have to work to pay, work some more to pay some more and it’s been like that for years. It’s been like it since I was born, president after president, and now we’re saying, that’s enough.”

He said he had voted for an independent candidate at the last election. “Left, right, for me it’s the same, always the same. I want to be heard, listened to and have a response.”

Bruno Binelli, 66, a retired carpenter from Lyon, said: “I’m not in any political party. I often vote Front National, but I’m not Front National. It’s not my mentality – and besides, I’m Italian by origin – but I do it out of protest, to say things are not good, and if you continue like this we will end up electing someone from the extreme right.

“But they don’t listen to us. Macron listens to nothing. He’s suddenly concerned about ecology, but it’s a lie: it’s a pretext to make us pay more tax. We no longer know what kind of car to buy: petrol, diesel, electric, who knows? I have a little diesel van and I don’t have the money to buy a new one, especially as I’m about to retire. We have the feeling those from the countryside are forgotten.”

Many talked of desperation at trying to make ends meet. As they passed the designer stores off the Champs Élysées, their complaints over inequality appeared to strike a chord: TV pundits spoke of an “insurrection of the people against the elites”.

France’s centrist government blamed the far right, who along with other politicians blamed Macron. Polls suggest the gilets jaunes have the support of almost 80% of French people. Even more think Macron should abandon plans to impose higher taxes on petrol and diesel. A BVA opinion poll on Friday found Macron’s popularity had slipped to a new low, with only 26% of French people having a favourable opinion of the president, a drop of three points since last month.

Macron said in a strongly worded tweet on Saturday: “Shame on those who attacked (police). Shame on those who were violent against other citizens … No place for this violence in the Republic.”

The interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said around 8,000 gilets jaunes had gathered in the city by midday on Saturday, 5,000 of them on the Champs Élysées. He claimed that responsibility for the violence lay with the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. “Marine Le Pen urged people to come to the Champs Élysées, and there are members of the ultra-right putting up barriers,” Castaner said.

He described the rioters as “seditious”. He said: “They have responded to Marine Le Pen’s call and want to take the institutions of state. We want people to be responsible.

“The right to demonstrate is a fundamental right and we will protect that, but we cannot protect those carried away by violence … those who only want to protest should pull back from this violence and denounce it.”

In response Le Pen, head of the far-right Rassemblement National, previously known as the Front National, told the news channel BFM TV that the accusations were unjust. She blamed the violence on “a few rioters”. “Why did Mr Castaner let these people on to the Champs Élysées? He is responsible. It’s a strategy of tension,” she said.

Le Pen accused the minister of trying to discredit the gilets jaunes movement.

On Saturday evening, Castaner said that 106,000 people had taken part in protests across France, and 130 had been arrested, 42 of them in Paris. The Paris police prefecture said there were 19 injured, among them four gendarmes.

 

Washington’s Erroneous Notion That the Persian Gulf Is an American Lake

by David Stockman

Tom Dispatch

The terrorist threat that has arisen from the Sunni side of the Islamic divide is largely of Washington’s own making; and it is being nurtured by endless US meddling in the region’s politics and by the bombing and droning campaigns against Washington’s self-created enemies.

At the root of Sunni based terrorism is the long-standing Washington error that America’s security and economic well-being depends upon keeping an armada in the Persian Gulf in order to protect the surrounding oilfields and the flow of tankers through the straits of Hormuz.

That doctrine has been wrong from the day it was officially enunciated by one of America’s great economic ignoramuses, Henry Kissinger, at the time of the original oil crisis in 1973. The 45 years since then have proven in spades that its doesn’t matter who controls the oilfields, and that the only effective cure for high oil prices is the free market.

Every tin pot dictatorship from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Saddam Hussein, to the bloody-minded chieftains of Nigeria, to the purportedly medieval Mullahs and fanatical Revolutionary Guards of Iran has produced oil. And usually all they could because almost always they desperately needed the revenue.

For crying out loud, even the barbaric thugs of ISIS milked every possible drop of petroleum from the tiny, wheezing oilfields scattered around their backwater domain before they were finally driven out. So there is no economic case whatsoever for Imperial Washington’s massive military presence in the middle east.

The truth is, there is no such thing as an OPEC cartel – virtually every member produces all they can and cheats whenever possible. The only thing that resembles production control in the global oil market is the fact that the Saudi princes treat their oil reserves not much differently than Exxon.

That is, they attempt to maximize the present value of their 270 billion barrels of reserves. Yet ultimately they are no more clairvoyant at calibrating the best oil price to accomplish that objective at any given time than are the economists employed by Exxon, the DOE or the International Energy Agency.

For instance, during the run-up to the late 2014 collapse of the world oil price, the Saudis overestimated the staying power of China’s temporarily surging call on global supply.

At the same time, they badly underestimated how rapidly and extensively the $100 per barrel marker reached in early 2008 would trigger a flow of investment, technology and cheap debt into alternative sources of supply. That is, the US shale patch, the Canadian tar sands, the tired petroleum provinces of Russia, the deep offshore of Brazil etc. – to say nothing of solar, wind and all the other government subsidized alternative source of BTUs.

Way back when Jimmy Carter was telling us to turn down the thermostats and put on our cardigan sweaters, those of us on the free market side of the so-called energy shortage debate said high oil prices are their own best cure. Now we know for sure.

To wit, the Fifth Fleet and its overt and covert auxiliaries should never have been in the Persian Gulf and it environs. And we mean from the very beginning – going all the way back to the CIA’s coup against Iranian democracy in 1953 that was aimed at protecting the oilfields from nationalization.

The Folly of the Bushes’ Persian Gulf Wars

But having turned Iran into an enemy, Imperial Washington was just getting started when 1990 rolled around. Once again in the name of “oil security” it plunged the American war machine into the politics and religious fissures of the Persian Gulf; and did so on account of a local small beans conflict between Iraq and Kuwait that had no bearing whatsoever on the safety and security of American citizens.

As US ambassador Glaspie rightly told Saddam Hussein on the eve of his Kuwait invasion, America had no dog in that hunt. After all, Kuwait wasn’t even a country: It was merely a bank account sitting on a swath of oilfields surrounding an ancient trading city that had been abandoned by Ibn Saud in the early 20th century.

That’s because the illiterate Bedouin founder of the House of Saud didn’t know what oil was or that it was there; and, in any event, Kuwait had been made a separate protectorate by the British in 1913 for reasons that are lost in the fog of British diplomatic history.

As it happened, Iraq’s contentious dispute with Kuwait was over its claim that the Emir of Kuwait was “slant drilling” across his own border and into Iraq’s Rumaila field. Yet it was a wholly elastic boundary of no significance whatsoever.

In fact, the dispute over the Rumaila field started in 1960 when an Arab League declaration arbitrarily marked the Iraq–Kuwait border two miles north of the southernmost tip of the Rumaila field.

And that newly defined boundary, in turn, had come only 44 years after the English and French diplomats had carved up their winnings from the Ottoman Empire’s. As we described elsewhere, they had done so by laying a straight edged ruler on the map they had confected the artificial country of Iraq from the historically independent and hostile Mesopotamian provinces of the Shiite in the south, the Sunni in the west and the Kurds in the north.

In short, both of the combatants in the 1990 Iraq/Kuwait war were recently minted artifacts of late-stage European imperialism. That Bush the Elder choose to throw American treasure and blood into the breach is, accordingly, one of the stupidest crimes every committed from the Oval Office.

The truth is, it didn’t matter who controlled the southern tip of the Rumaila field – the brutal dictator of Baghdad or the opulent Emir of Kuwait. Not the price of oil, nor the peace of America nor the security of Europe nor the peace of the world depended upon it.

But once again Bush the Elder got persuaded to take the path of war. This time it was by Henry Kissinger’s economically illiterate protégés at the national security council and his Texas oilman Secretary of State. They falsely claimed that the will-o-wisp of “oil security” was at stake, and that 500,000 American troops needed to be planted in the sands of Arabia.

That was a catastrophic error, and not only because the presence of crusader boots on the purportedly sacred soil of Arabia offended the CIA-trained Mujahedeen of Afghanistan, who had become unemployed when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The 1991 CNN-glorified war games conducted in the Gulf by Bush the Elder also further empowered another group of unemployed crusaders. Namely, the neocon national security fanatics who had mislead Ronald Reagan into a massive military buildup to thwart what they claimed to be an ascendant Soviet Union bent on nuclear war winning capabilities and global conquest.

All things being equal, the sight of Boris Yeltsin, Vodka flask in hand, facing down the Red Army a few months later should have sent these neocon charlatans into the permanent repudiation and obscurity they so richly deserved. But Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz managed to extract from Washington’s pyric victory in Kuwait a whole new lease on life for Imperial Washington.

Right then and there came the second erroneous predicate. To wit, that “regime change” among the assorted tyrannies of the middle east was in America’s national interest.

More fatally, the neocons now insisted that the Gulf War proved it could be achieved through a sweeping interventionist menu of coalition diplomacy, security assistance, arms shipments, covert action and open military attack and occupation.

What the neocon doctrine of regime change actually did, of course, was to foster the Frankenstein that ultimately became ISIS. In fact, the only real terrorists in the world which threaten normal civilian life in the West are the rogue offspring of Imperial Washington’s post-1990 machinations in the middle east.

The CIA trained and armed Mujahedeen mutated into al-Qaeda not because Bin Laden suddenly had a religious epiphany that his Washington benefactors were actually the Great Satan owing to America’s freedom and liberty.

His murderous crusade was inspired by the Wahhabi fundamentalism loose in Saudi Arabia. This benighted religious fanaticism became agitated to a fever pitch by Imperial Washington’s violent plunge into Persian Gulf political and religious quarrels, the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and the decade long barrage of sanctions, embargoes, no fly zones, covert actions and open hostility against the nominally Sunni regime in Baghdad after 1991.

Yes, Bin Laden would have amputated Saddam’s secularist head if Washington hadn’t done it first, but that’s just the point. The two were bitter enemies, not natural allies – so the attempt at regime change in March 2003 was one of the most foolish acts of state in American history.

Bush the Younger’s neocon advisers had no clue about the sectarian animosities and historical grievances that Hussein had bottled-up by parsing the oil loot and wielding the sword under the banner of Baathist nationalism. But Shock and Awe blew the lid and the de-baathification campaign unleashed the furies.

Indeed, no sooner had George W. Bush pranced around on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln declaring “mission accomplished” than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a CIA recruit to the Afghan war a decade earlier and smalltime specialist in hostage-taking and poisons, fled his no count redoubt in Kurdistan to emerge as a flamboyant agitator in the now disposed Sunni heartland.

The founder of ISIS succeeded in Fallujah and Anbar province just like the long list of other terrorist leaders Washington claims to have exterminated. That is, Zarqawi gained his following and notoriety among the region’s population of deprived, brutalized and humiliated young men by dint of being more brutal than their occupiers.

Indeed, even as Washington was crowing about its eventual liquidation of Zarqawi, the remnants of the Baathist regime and the hundreds of thousands of demobilized Republican Guards were coalescing into al-Qaeda in Iraq. Their future leaders were actually being incubated in a monstrous nearby detention center called Camp Bucca that contained more than 26,000 prisoners.

How a US prison camp helped create ISIS

As one former US Army officer, Mitchell Gray, later described it,

You never see hatred like you saw on the faces of these detainees,” Gray remembers of his 2008 tour. “When I say they hated us, I mean they looked like they would have killed us in a heartbeat if given the chance. I turned to the warrant officer I was with and I said, ‘If they could, they would rip our heads off and drink our blood.’ ”

What Gray didn’t know – but might have expected – was that he was not merely looking at the United States’ former enemies, but its future ones as well. According to intelligence experts and Department of Defense records, the vast majority of the leadership of what is today known as ISIS, including its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did time at Camp Bucca.

And not only did the US feed, clothe and house these jihadists, it also played a vital, if unwitting, role in facilitating their transformation into the most formidable terrorist force in modern history.

The point is, regime change and nation building can never be accomplished by the lethal violence of 21st century armed forces; and they were an especially preposterous assignment in the context of a land rent with 13 century-old religious fissures and animosities.

In fact, the wobbly, synthetic state of Iraq was doomed the minute Cheney and his bloody gang decided to liberate it from the brutal, but serviceable and secular tyranny of Saddam’s Baathist regime. That’s because the process of elections and majority rule necessarily imposed by Washington was guaranteed to elect a government beholden to the Shiite majority.

After decades of mistreatment and Saddam’s brutal suppression of their 1991 uprising, did the latter have revenge on their minds and in their communal DNA? Did the Kurds have dreams of an independent Kurdistan that had been denied their 30 million strong tribe – going way back to Versailles and ever since?

Why, yes, they did. So the $25 billion spent on training and equipping the putative armed forces of post-liberation Iraq was bound to end up in the hands of sectarian militias, not a cohesive national army.

In fact, when the Shiite commanders fled Sunni-dominated Mosul in June 2014 they transformed the ISIS uprising against the government in Baghdad into a vicious fledgling state in one fell swoop. It wasn’t by beheadings and fiery jihadist sermons that it quickly enslaved dozens of towns and several million people in western Iraq and the Euphrates Valley of Syria.

ISIS Was Washington’s Frankenstein

The new Islamic State’s instruments of terror and occupation were the best weapons that the American taxpayers could buy. That included 2,300 Humvees and tens of thousands of automatic weapons, as well as vast stores of ammunition, trucks, rockets, artillery pieces and even tanks and helicopters.

And that wasn’t the half of it. The newly proclaimed Islamic State also filled the power vacuum in Syria created by its so-called “civil war”. But in truth that bloody carnage was the offspring of still another exercise in Washington inspired and financed regime change – this one undertaken in connivance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The latter were surely not interested in expelling the tyranny next door; they are the living embodiment of it.

Instead, the US/Saudi sponsored rebellion was about removing Bashir Assad’s, Iran’s Alawite/Shiite ally, from power in Damascus and laying gas pipelines across the upper Euphrates Valley to take Qatar’s abundant natural gas to Europe.

In any event, ISIS soon had troves of additional American weapons. Some of them were supplied to Sunni radicals by way of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. More came up the so-called “ratline” from Gaddafi’s former arsenals in Benghazi through Turkey.

And still more came through Jordan from the “moderate” opposition trained there by the CIA, which more often than not sold them or defected to the other side.

That the Islamic State was Washington’s Frankenstein monster became evident from the moment it rushed upon the scene in the summer of 2014. But even then the Washington War Party could not resist adding fuel to the fire, whooping up another round of Islamophobia among the American public and forcing the Obama White House into a futile bombing campaign for the third time in a quarter century.

But if bombing really worked, the Islamic State would have been quickly pounded into sand and gravel. Indeed, as shown by the map below, it was never really much more than that anyway.

The dusty, broken, impoverished towns and villages along the margins of the Euphrates River and in the bombed out precincts of Anbar province did not attract thousands of wannabe jihadists from the failed states of the middle east and the alienated Muslim townships of Europe because the caliphate offered prosperity, salvation or any particular future at all.

What recruited them was a meager paycheck and a mountain of outrage at the bombs and drones being dropped on Sunni communities by the US air force; and by the cruise missiles launched from the bowels of the Mediterranean, which ripped apart homes, shops, offices and mosques containing as many innocent civilians as ISIS terrorists.

But even at it relative peak, the Islamic State was contained by the Kurds in the north and east and by Turkey with NATO’s second largest army and air force in the northwest. And it was surrounded by the Shiite crescent in the populated, economically viable regions of lower Syria and Iraq.

So absent Washington’s misbegotten campaign to unseat Assad in Damascus and demonize his confession-based Iranian ally, there would have been nowhere for the murderous fanatics who pitched a makeshift capital in Raqqa to go.

As subsequent history has proven, ISIS was destined to run out of money, recruits, momentum and public acquiesce in their horrific rule in due course.

But with the US Air Force functioning as their recruiting arm and France’s anti-Assad foreign policy helping to foment a final spasm of anarchy in Syria, the gates of hell were temporarily opened wide. What had been puked out was not an organized war on Western civilization, as Washington neocons so hysterically claimed.

It was just blowback carried out by that infinitesimally small salient of mentally deformed young men who can be persuaded to strap on a suicide belt.

Needless to say, bombing didn’t stop them; it just made more of them.

Ironically, what in the end did stop them was the Assad government and the allies it had every right to enlist as a sovereign nation. That is, the air support of Russia and the ground forces of Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

But Imperial Washington was so caught up in its myths, lies and hegemonic stupidity that it could not see the obvious.

And that is why a quarter century after the cold war ended peace still hasn’t been given a chance and the reason that even the American homeland is needlessly subjected to so-called terrorist “inspired” attacks from time to time like those a few years back in San Bernardino and Orlando.

The truth is, these terrible attacks emerge episodically because the terror that Washington’s bombs, drones and missiles visits upon Muslim lands is what actually inspires them.

After all, whatever the Koran has to say about purging the infidel, it inspired no attacks on American soil at all for decade upon decade upon decade: The jihadist threat to the American homeland only arose after Imperial Washington went into the regime change and military intervention business in the middle east, and for no good reason of true national security whatsoever.

The Persian Gulf is not now an American Lake, and never was.

 

Tension escalates after Russia seizes Ukraine naval ships

November 26, 2018

BBC News

Russia has fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels off the Crimean Peninsula in a major escalation of tensions between the two countries.

Two gunboats and a tug were captured by Russian forces. A number of Ukrainian crew members were injured.

Each country blames the other for the incident. On Monday Ukrainian MPs are due to vote on declaring martial law.

The crisis began when Russia accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its waters.

The Russians placed a tanker under a bridge in the Kerch Strait – the only access to the Sea of Azov, which is shared between the two countries.

During a meeting of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, President Petro Poroshenko described the Russian actions as “unprovoked and crazy”.

Russia has requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, which US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says has been called for 11:00 New York time (16:00 GMT) on Monday.

Tensions have recently risen in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov off the Crimean peninsula – annexed by Russia in 2014.

How did the crisis unfold?

In the morning, Ukraine’s Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats, and the Yana Kapa tug, tried to sail from the Black Sea port of Odessa to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine says the Russians tried to intercept the ships, ramming the tug. The vessels continued towards the Kerch Strait, but were prevented by the tanker.

Russia scrambled two fighter jets and two helicopters to the area. It accused the ships of illegally entering its waters and said the traffic had been suspended for security reasons.

The Ukrainian navy later said the boats had been hit and disabled as they tried to leave the area. It said six crew members had been injured.

Russia’s FSB later confirmed that one of its patrol boats had used force to seize the three Ukrainian vessels but said only three sailors had been wounded.

Ukraine said it had informed the Russians of its plan to move its ships through the sea to Mariupol.

What’s the background to this?

The shallow Sea of Azov lies east of Crimea, and south of the Ukrainian regions partially seized by pro-Russian separatists.

The two Ukrainian ports on its northern shore – Berdyansk and Mariupol – are key to exporting grain and produce such as steel, also for importing coal.

The 2003 treaty between Ukraine and Russia guaranteed free navigation to both countries’ vessels.

But Russia has recently begun inspecting ships going to or from Ukrainian ports. Earlier this month, the EU warned it would take “targeted measures” to address the issue.

The inspections began soon after Ukraine detained a fishing vessel from Crimea in March. Moscow says they are necessary for security reasons, pointing to a potential threat to the bridge from Ukrainian radicals.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions since separatists moved against the Ukrainian state in April 2014.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending its troops to the region and arming the separatists.

Moscow denies this but says that Russian volunteers are helping the rebels

 

Russia ignores Western calls to free captured Ukrainian ships

November 26, 2018

by Andrew Osborn, Natalia Zinets

Reuters

MOSCOW/KIEV (Reuters) – Russia on Monday ignored Western calls to release three Ukrainian naval ships it fired on and captured near Crimea at the weekend and accused Kiev of plotting with its Western allies to provoke a conflict.

Kiev in turn accused Russia of military aggression and put its armed forces on full combat alert, saying it reserved the right to defend itself. Ukrainian lawmakers were due to decide whether to introduce martial law for two months later on Monday, a move President Petro Poroshenko has backed.

With relations still raw after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its backing for a pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine, the crisis risks pushing the two countries towards a wider conflict and there were early signs it was renewing Western calls for more sanctions on Moscow.

The crisis erupted when Russia’s border patrol boats belonging to Russia’s FSB security service seized two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and a tug boat after opening fire on them and wounding several sailors on Sunday.

They had been trying to enter the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea. The FSB said it had opened a criminal case into what it called the ships’ illegal entry into Russian territorial waters.

On Monday maritime traffic resumed in the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from the Russian mainland, but Moscow showed no sign of releasing the ships and their crews.

COMBUSTIBLE

The stand-off is more combustible now than at any time in the past four years because Ukraine has rebuilt its armed forces, previously in disarray, and has a new generation of commanders who are confident and have a point to prove.

Kiev is also strengthened by the knowledge that most Western governments, especially Washington, lean towards Ukraine and are liable to view Russia’s version of events with some scepticism.

NATO called an emergency meeting with Ukraine on Monday after the alliance’s head Jens Stoltenberg held a phone call with Poroshenko. He offered NATO’s “full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

European Council President Donald Tusk also condemned Russia’s seizure of the vessels and urged it to return the vessels and crews.

Domestic politics adds to the combustibility of the situation. Poroshenko faces a tough re-election fight early next year, with opinion polls showing him trailing his opponents.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has also seen his high approval rating fall because of unpopular domestic policies. In the past, successful military action beyond Russia’s borders has buoyed his popularity.

Using bellicose language, the Russian foreign ministry accused Kiev of deliberately staging what it called a provocation to harm Russian interests and said it would react harshly to any attempts to undermine its sovereignty,

“It’s obvious that this painstakingly thought-through and planned provocation was aimed at igniting another source of tension in the region in order to create a pretext to ramp up sanctions against Russia,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia’s rouble currency weakened 1.4 percent against the dollar in Moscow on Monday, its biggest one-day fall since Nov. 9, while Russian dollar-bonds fell.

Markets are highly sensitive to anything that could trigger new Western sanctions, and therefore weaken the Russian economy. A fall in the price of oil — Russia’s biggest source of revenue — has made its economy more vulnerable.

Additional reporting by Tom Balmforth and Polina Ivanova in Moscow, Stine Buch Jacobsen in Copenhagen, Karin Strohecker in London, Joanna Plucinska in Warsaw, Matthias Williams in Kiev and European bureaux; Writing by Andrew Osborn/Christian Lowe; Editing by Gareth Jones

 

In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves

May 17, 2014

by William J. Broad

New York Times

When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.

Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.

Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.

“It’s a big deal,” said Carol R. Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”

Gilles Lericolais, the director of European and international affairs at France’s state oceanographic group, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “so obvious” as a play for offshore riches.

In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin said there was “no connection” between the annexation and energy resources, adding that Russia did not even care about the oil and gas. “Compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Saturday.

Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other major oil companies have already explored the Black Sea, and some petroleum analysts say its potential may rival that of the North Sea. That rush, which began in the 1970s, lifted the economies of Britain, Norway and other European countries.

William B. F. Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said Russia’s Black Sea acquisition gave it what are potentially “the best” of that body’s deep oil reserves.

Oil analysts said that mounting economic sanctions could slow Russia’s exploitation of its Black and Azov Sea annexations by reducing access to Western financing and technology. But they noted that Russia had already taken over the Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company, instantly giving Russia exploratory gear on the Black Sea.

“Russia’s in a mood to behave aggressively,” said Vladimir Socor, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a research group in Washington that follows Eurasian affairs. “It’s already seized two drilling rigs.”

The global hunt for fossil fuels has increasingly gone offshore, to places like the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea. Hundreds of oil rigs dot the Caspian, a few hundred miles east of the Black Sea.

Nations divide up the world’s potentially lucrative waters according to guidelines set forth by the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty. The agreement lets coastal nations claim what are known as exclusive economic zones that can extend up to 200 nautical miles (or 230 statute miles) from their shores. Inside these zones, countries can explore, exploit, conserve and manage deep natural resources, living and nonliving.

The countries with shores along the Black Sea have long seen its floor as a potential energy source, mainly because of modest oil successes in shallow waters.

Just over two years ago, the prospects for huge payoffs soared when a giant ship drilling through deep bedrock off Romania found a large gas field in waters more than half a mile deep.

Russia moved fast.

In April 2012, Mr. Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, presided over the signing of an accord with Eni, the Italian energy giant, to explore Russia’s economic zone in the northeastern Black Sea. Dr. Ryan of Columbia estimated that the size of the zone before the Crimean annexation was roughly 26,000 square miles, about the size of Lithuania.

“I want to assure you that the Russian government will do everything to support projects of this kind,” Mr. Putin said at the signing, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

A month later, oil exploration specialists at a European petroleum conference made a lengthy presentation, the title of which asked: “Is the Black Sea the Next North Sea?” The paper cited geological studies that judged the waters off Ukraine as having “tremendous exploration potential” but saw the Russian zone as less attractive.

In August 2012, Ukraine announced an accord with an Exxon-led group to extract oil and gas from the depths of Ukraine’s Black Sea waters. The Exxon team had outbid Lukoil, a Russian company. Ukraine’s state geology bureau said development of the field would cost up to $12 billion.

“The Black Sea Hots Up,” read a 2013 headline in GEO ExPro, an industry magazine published in Britain. “Elevated levels of activity have become apparent throughout the Black Sea region,” the article said, “particularly in deepwater.

When Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine on March 18, it issued a treaty of annexation between the newly declared Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation. Buried in the document — in Article 4, Section 3 — a single bland sentence said international law would govern the drawing of boundaries through the adjacent Black and Azov Seas.

Dr. Ryan estimates that the newly claimed maritime zone around Crimea added about 36,000 square miles to Russia’s existing holdings. The addition is more than three times the size of the Crimean landmass, and about the size of Maine.

At the time, few observers noted Russia’s annexation of Crimea in those terms. An exception was Romania, whose Black Sea zone had been adjacent to Ukraine’s before Russia stepped in.

“Romania and Russia will be neighbors,” Romania Libera, a newspaper in Bucharest, observed on March 24. The article’s headline said the new maritime border could become a “potential source of conflict.”

Many nations have challenged Russia’s seizing of Crimea and thus the legality of its Black and Azov Sea claims. But the Romanian newspaper quoted analysts as judging that the other countries bordering the Black Sea — Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania — would tacitly recognize the annexation “in order to avoid an open conflict.”

Most immediately, analysts say, Russia’s seizing may alter the route along which the South Stream pipeline would be built, saving Russia money, time and engineering challenges. The planned pipeline, meant to run through the deepest parts of the Black Sea, is to pump Russian gas to Europe.

Originally, to avoid Ukraine’s maritime zone, Russia drew the route for the costly pipeline in a circuitous jog southward through Turkey’s waters. But now it can take a far more direct path through its newly acquired Black Sea territory, if the project moves forward. The Ukraine crisis has thrown its future into doubt.

As for oil extraction in the newly claimed maritime zones, companies say their old deals with Ukraine are in limbo, and analysts say new contracts are unlikely to be signed anytime soon, given the continuing turmoil in the region and the United States’ efforts to ratchet up pressure on Russia.

“There are huge issues at stake,” noted Dr. Saivetz of M.I.T. “I can’t see them jumping into new deals right now.”

The United States is using its wherewithal to block Russian moves in the maritime zones. Last month, it imposed trade restrictions on Chernomorneftegaz, the breakaway Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company.

Eric L. Hirschhorn, the United States under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said sanctions against the Crimean business would send “a strong message” of condemnation for Russia’s “incursion into Ukraine and expropriation of Ukrainian assets.”

Alexandra Odynova contributed reporting from Moscow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply