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TBR News November 28, 2018

Nov 28 2018

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

Washington, D.C. November 28, 2018: “One side claims Paul Monafort, Trump’s campaign manager, met with Julian Assange at the Bolivian Embassy in London and conferred with him at some length. The other side said this never happened. The Guardian first published this story and the Guardian is very reputable and almost always very accurate. There are sign-in books with Manfort’s name but no doubt the Trump people will claim they are more”fake news” and that Vladimir Putin or the Nerve Gas Spies signed in Manafort’s absence. The great bulk of the evidence, circumstantial and direct, points to Trump’s dealing with the Russians to gain the American Presidency. This all will eventually come out but Trump will go screaming into oblivion and thousands of books, all spouting various weird theories, will appear and the public will soon grow tired of this and wait for the expected arrival of Planet X and her load of three-headed passengers, all practicing Scientologists.”

 

The Table of Contents 

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 92
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Israeli Espionage in the US and 911
  • Ukraine-Russia sea clash staged, says Putin

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 92

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, 2018

  • Jul 21, 2018

“The Rigged Witch Hunt, headed by the 13 Angry Democrats (and now 4 more have been added, one who worked directly for Obama W.H.), seems intent on damaging the Republican Party’s chances in the November Election.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: By “rigged witch hunt,” Trump means special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s relationship with Russia. The investigation is being run by a Republican, Mueller himself. Though Mueller has indeed filled his team with Democrats, it is false to say the investigation is “headed” by these Democrats.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The government executed a search warrant at Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s office in April; it did not “break in.” We’ll continue let this claim go as a matter of rhetorical license, but the second part of Trump’s tweet is flat-out incorrect: it was not illegal for Cohen to tape phone calls with Trump. Under New York state law, only one party to the conversation must consent for the recording to be legal.

  • Jul 22, 2018

“Looking more & more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is still no evidence of this. And the surveillance Trump was complaining about on this day, of Carter Page, only began after Page left the campaign.

“Congratulations to @JudicialWatch and @TomFitton on being successful in getting the Carter Page FISA documents. As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The documents do not show that the Department of Justice and the FBI misled the courts in seeking a warrant to surveil a former Trump adviser, Carter Page. In fact, the newly released documents proved that a Republican memo about the documents was misleading when it accused the Department of Justice and FBI of misleading the courts. As the New York Times reported: “The Republican memo issued in February said the FBI had failed to ‘disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.’ But Democrats at the time contended that the court had been told that the research had politically motivated origins. The application contains a page-length explanation that does alert the court that the person who commissioned Mr. Steele’s research was “likely looking for information to discredit” Mr. Trump’s campaign. It goes on to explain why, notwithstanding Mr. Steele’s ‘reason for conducting the research,’ the FBI believed it was credible. Republicans had also faulted the application for not explicitly identifying Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee by name. But that criticism ignored the fact that law enforcement officials were following a general policy not to name Americans, even referring to Mr. Trump only as ‘Candidate #1’ in renewal applications despite noting that he was now the president-elect and then the president. David Kris, an expert on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act who served in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, dismissed the notion that the intelligence court judges had been misled. ‘Now we can see that the footnote disclosing Steele’s possible bias takes up more than a full page in the applications, so there is literally no way the FISA Court could have missed it,’ he wrote on the blog Lawfare.”

  • Jul 23, 2018

“Apple is spending $350 billion on new plants and incredible campus.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: As the New York Times noted in March: “In fact, Apple has no plans to build a plant in the United States.” The company’s January announcement of a $30 billion capital investment over five years specifically mentioned a new campus and new data centres, not new manufacturing operations. (In addition, its early-2018 announcement, which used a “$350 billion” headline figure, was not of a new $350 billion new investment. The company announced, rather, that its combination of new investments and regular spending it had previously planned would total $350 billion over five years — and it specified that it had previously planned $55 billion in spending for 2018. In other words, Apple was already on pace to spend approximately $275 billion of the $350 billion it described in the announcement.)

Trump has repeated this claim 20 times

“Creating over $7 trillion of worth for our country, we’ve vaulted up to a very strong number one position, we’re the largest in the world — largest economy in the world by a lot more than when I took over the presidency.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: While the U.S. is indeed the biggest economy in the world by a large margin, the margin has not increased substantially since Trump took office. By some counts, it has actually shrunk. In 2016, according to the World Bank, the U.S. had a $18.6 trillion economy, China had a $11.2 trillion economy, a difference of $7.4 trillion. In 2017, according to the World Bank, the U.S. had a $19.4 trillion economy, while China had a $12.2 trillion economy, a difference of $7.2 trillion.

“We’ve gotten rid of the individual mandate from health care, which was a disaster for you and your business, where people had to pay for the privilege of not having to pay to get bad healthcare…That was the most unpopular element of Obamacare and Obamacare is very rapidly fading away.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: While Trump has weakened Obamacare in several ways, most notably by eliminating the “individual mandate” that required people to obtain health insurance, the law is not “very rapidly fading away.” Trump did not eliminate Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid insurance program for low-income people, the federal and state Obamacare marketplaces that allow other uninsured people to buy insurance, or the subsidies that help many of them make the purchases. Nor did he touch various Obamacare rules for the insurance market, like its prohibition on insurers.

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

“In the history of our country, nobody’s cut more regulations than me and I’ve only been here for less than two years. So I’m talking about two years, four years, 16 years, eight years, doesn’t matter how long they’re here, we’ve cut more regulations than any other president.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: No president has served for 16 years. The longest-serving president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, served just over 12 years, dying shortly into his fourth term. This wasn’t a one-time informal remark; it was the ninth time he had suggested that a president served for 16 years.

Trump has repeated this claim 9 times

“U.S. Steel now is opening up six plants, and they’re expanding in other plants, and we’re very proud of that.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: Though Trump had been making this claim for a month, there was still no evidence at the time that U.S. Steel is opening six plants. (Trump originally claimed it was six, then later claimed it was seven, then went up to eight.) At the time Trump spoke here, U.S. Steel had only announced a major development at one facility since he introduced his steel tariffs: it said it was restarting two shuttered blast furnaces at its plant he gave this speech at, in Granite City, Illinois. Chuck Bradford, an industry analyst who follows U.S. Steel, said he was “not aware” of the company opening any other facilities. U.S. Steel told the Washington Post: “To answer your question, we post all of our major operational announcements to our website and report them on earnings calls. Our most recent one pertained to our Granite City ‘A’ blast furnace restart.”

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“We’re demanding fairness with the World Trade Organization, it’s been a disaster for the United States and we want fairness. We lose court cases, we always had a minority of judges. They gave us fewer judges than other countries had and we’d lose cases, nobody knew why. I said I know why, because you don’t have judges from this country, you’d have the minority. Three to two, with three being on the other side. And we’ve started to do much better lately in winning cases.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: There is no basis for Trump’s claim that the U.S. is now winning a much higher percentage of WTO cases than it used to. When Trump made this claim three months prior, Dan Ikenson, director of trade policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, said: “There is nothing to support the claim that the results have suddenly gotten better…The fact is that there hasn’t been any discernible changes in WTO decision making.” (Ikenson said that, by his rough count, four WTO decisions during the Trump era had gone against the United States, four in favour of the United States.) Contrary to Trump’s repeated assertion, the U.S. has long been successful in WTO disputes: as his own Council of Economic Advisers said in a report in February, the U.S. has won 86 per cent of the cases it has brought to WTO adjudicators; the global average is 84 per cent, China’s figure 67 per cent. (Other analyses have put the U.S. victory rate as high as 91 per cent). As is standard for the WTO, the U.S. tends to lose cases where a complaint is brought against it — but even in those cases, Trump’s advisers noted that it does better (25 per cent victory rate) than the world average (17 per cent) or China’s record (just 5 per cent). Ikenson said: “There is absolutely nothing to the claim that ‘we’re starting to get much better results.’ They’ve been consistent and fair from the outset.”

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“We’re demanding fairness with the World Trade Organization, it’s been a disaster for the United States and we want fairness. We lose court cases, we always had a minority of judges. They gave us fewer judges than other countries had and we’d lose cases, nobody knew why. I said, ‘I know why, because you don’t have judges from this country, you’d have the minority.’ Three to two, with three being on the other side. And we’ve started to do much better lately in winning cases.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: There is no basis for Trump’s claim that “we always had a minority” of WTO judges. No judge on any of the three-judge WTO panels that adjudicate complaints can be from a country involved in the dispute — so while the U.S. doesn’t have a majority of judges, it also does not have a minority. Further, decisions by those initial panels can be appealed to the WTO’s seven-member appeals body — on which the U.S. has a judge. “The United States, in fact, has always had one of the Appellate Body members with U.S. nationality, which is very unusual, but it is the situation,” WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said in response to an earlier version of this Trump allegation. It is also false to suggest the U.S. has consistently lost at the WTO. Trump’s own Council of Economic Advisers said in a report that the U.S. is overwhelmingly successful in the WTO complaint cases it brings: it has won 86 per cent of those cases; the global average is 84 per cent, China’s figure 67 per cent. (Other analyses have put the U.S. victory rate as high as 91 per cent). As is standard for the WTO, the U.S. tends to lose cases where a complaint is brought against it — but even in those cases, Trump’s advisers noted that it does better (25 per cent victory rate) than the world average (17 per cent) or China’s record (just 5 per cent).

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“We’re talking to China, who had a $375 billion trade surplus last year with the United States. Think of it, $375 billion or looking at it differently, we had a $375 billion trade deficit.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: The U.S. deficit with China was $337 billion in 2017; it was $375 billion if you only count trade in goods, but Trump did not specify that he was excluding services here.

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“And women, unemployment recently reached the 65-year low, we think that’s probably the lowest ever. But as I’ve been saying, in two weeks or three weeks it will be. It’ll be the lowest in history. Pretty bad when you say lowest in 65 years, and I say that’s not as good as — as history.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: This claim was no longer true at the time Trump spoke. It was true as of the previous month: the women’s unemployment rate for May, reported in June, was 3.6 per cent, the same as in 1953, 65 years prior. But it rose to 4 per cent in June, reported in July, which was merely the lowest since 2017 — or, if you’re only counting pre-Trump years, the lowest since 2000, 18 years prior.

Trump has repeated this claim 14 times

“Unemployment rates for Americans, for African-Americans and Hispanics and Asians — Americans, all of us, lowest ever. These are the lowest levels for African Americans, for Hispanics and for Asians ever recorded — think of that, ever recorded.”

Source: Speech at Made in America event at White House

in fact: Trump is correct about African-Americans and Hispanics, but not for “all of us” or for Asian-Americans. The most recent overall unemployment rate at the time he spoke, for June, was 4 per cent, which was higher than the rates in multiple months in 2000. While the Asian-American unemployment rate briefly dropped to a low in May, 2.0 per cent, the most recent Asian-American rate at the time he spoke, for June, was 3.2 per cent. This was higher than the rate in Obama’s last two full months in office — 3 per cent in November 2016 and 2.8 per cent in December 2016 — and in multiple months of George W. Bush’s second term.

Trump has repeated this claim 9 times

“The Amazon Washington Post has gone crazy against me ever since they lost the Internet Tax Case in the U.S. Supreme Court two months ago. Next up is the U.S. Post Office which they use, at a fraction of real cost, as their ‘delivery boy” for a BIG percentage of their packages…”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The terms of Amazon’s deal with the U.S. Postal Service have not been made public, so it is not possible to conclusively fact-check Trump’s claims about the price it is being charged for packages — though, as PolitiFact noted, a federal law, the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, requires the Postal Service to price parcels at a level that at least covers their costs. (Joseph Corbett, the chief financial officer for the Postal Service, wrote in 2017: “By law our competitive package products, including those that we deliver for Amazon, must cover their costs. Our regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), looks carefully at this question every year and has determined that they do. The PRC has also noted that competitive products help fund the infrastructure of the Postal Service.”) However, Trump’s claim about the Washington Post is false: the newspaper is owned by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, but the newspaper was entirely uninvolved in the Supreme Court case; Amazon itself was affected by the ruling, but it was not one of the parties to the lawsuit; the ruling came just one month and three days prior to this tweet, not “two months ago.”

“A Rocket has not been launched by North Korea in 9 months.”

Source: Twitter

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 prior to this tweet on July 23, 2018.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“So we now find out that it was indeed the unverified and Fake Dirty Dossier, that was paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC, that was knowingly & falsely submitted to FISA and which was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller Witch Hunt!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The research dossier produced by former British spy Christopher Steele, which described alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, was not the impetus for the launch of the FBI investigation Trump describes as a “witch hunt.” In fact, the Trump-endorsed memo produced by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican, confirmed that the FBI began the probe after receiving information that Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos boasted to an Australian diplomat that Russia had obtained damaging information on Clinton, before this was publicly known. “The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016,” the Nunes memo says. There is also no evidence that the dossier was “falsely” submitted to the court that granted warrants for the surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump foreign policy adviser who had left the campaign by the time the warrant-authorized surveillance began; the FBI explained its warrant application that Steele had likely been hired to obtain information to damage Trump: “The FBI speculates that the unidentified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign.” The rest of the application made it obvious that Candidate 1 was Trump.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

November 28, 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. 13

Date:  Wednesday, May 8, 1996

Commenced:  9:54 AM CST

Concluded: 10:32 AM CST

RTC: Good morning, Gregory. Have you been reading about the resurrection of brother Colby?

GD: Good morning, Robert. Yes, I saw this piece of news yesterday but I was too busy to call you. I’m trying to finish up the translation of Mueller’s journals and when I get on a rush, I don’t let up. He floated…no some divers found him. Right?

RTC: As I understand it, yes. Oddly enough, they had searched the same place before but without success.

GD: Maybe they took him from a fishpond somewhere and planted him before he got too ripe.

RTC: It’s an odd case, Gregory. Here we have a man in his late ‘70s staying at his little summer place out on Rock Point, coming downstairs about eleven in the evening, putting on the computer and the television and then running outside in bad weather, jumping into his canoe and paddling out onto the river which was very rough about then what with the wind and rain. And, most interesting, he left his life belt behind. Bill always wore his vest when he went out in his canoe but he seems to have forgotten it. Careless.

GD: Getting old.

RTC: But no older.

GD: Can I do a scenario for you, Robert? Just to show you how really clever I am?

RTC: Why not?

GD: Some friends came to visit him a little earlier. Unannounced of course. Friendly talk, maybe a glass or two of wine and then poor Colby drank something that made him a little disoriented. Nothing to remain in the body afterwards, of course. Then I’ll bet they picked him up, took him out and put him in the boat they came in on, hooked the canoe up behind them with a painter and out onto the bounding main. Then into the nice cold water, unhitching the canoe and back to shore and the warmth of home and hearth. There was no mention of a hole in his head or missing body parts at all. A careless and confused old man out for a refreshing little trip and then tragedy strikes. I don’t think they’ve had time for a full post but I’ll just wager you they won’t find any cyanide or ricin in him. Another skillfully planned CIA wet action.

RTC: That’s an interesting analysis, Gregory. You haven’t been talking to anyone about this, have you?

GD: From that, I must have guessed right. The reports mentioned the computer and the bad weather and I put the rest together. I always loved jigsaw puzzles, Robert. In the summer, when Chicago got hot, we had no air conditioning in those days so we used to go up to Vilas County in upper Wisconsin to get cool. Nice summer house on a quiet lake. On the front screen porch, there were two large ping pong tables and boxes of very complex jigsaw puzzles. While everyone else was out swimming or fishing for the really delicious lake trout, I was on the porch for hours, putting the puzzles together. I love puzzles. On this one, the pieces were all there.

RTC: I told Kimmel once that you would have made a first class agent for us and he was outraged that I would even think of such sacrilege.

GD: I don’t disagree with you Robert. Kimmel once told me, seriously, that I suffered from the worst case of hubris he had ever seen. Do you know what I told him?

RTC: Were you rude?

GD: No, merely accurate. I told him that I had thought I was wrong about something once but found out later I was mistaken.

RTC: Delightful response, Gregory. And his?

GD: He was not amused, but I was. Anyway, the errant Colby has returned to the land of the living but in worse shape than when he left it.

RTC: Thank God for that.

GD: We can anticipate solemn statements from the White House, a weeping wife and black-suited friends and then off to the bone yard in a bronze box, tightly sealed lest eau d’Colby annoy people downwind. By now he probably smells like a big Camembert cheese. And soon forgotten by most. And from what you said, you won’t be going to the services.

RTC: I think not.

GD: But you do have your memories.

RTC: So do a lot of others. Perhaps we can discuss something more cheerful than the loss of a valued friend and freedom fighter, Gregory.

GD: How is the blessed box working?

RTC: The birds still flee but no ambulances at the door.

GD: Yes. Wait until valued secretary Mitzi Rumpleberger hangs herself in an electronically inspired fit of depression in the ladies’ lavatory with a pair of silk stockings.

RTC: The Ambassador would be more spectacular.

GD: His office is probably in the back. And one would hope he doesn’t wear silk stockings. Or a bra either.

RTC: Such imagery.

GD: If you don’t laugh, Robert, you will go crazy. People don’t realize that life is a huge practical joke that always has a bad ending. Like Brother Colby, but enough of forbidden topics. Someday, I will tell you how I nailed Pollard.

RTC: This is not another joke?

GD: Not at all.

RTC: I have some knowledge of this business, Gregory, and I would like to compare it to your own. Do go on.

GD: I knew a military collector when I was living in California. He used to collect SS items which was rather weird because he was Jewish. His father had been a host for a kiddie television show and after he and the mother got a divorce, she married a big cheese in the insurance business. Jack Beckett.

RTC: Transamerica Beckett?

GD: The same. They lived in Atherton in a gated house. I used to visit there from time to time and met Beckett a few times. A very decent, down to earth person, easy to talk to and I would say very honest. Did you know him?

RTC: I believe we knew him.

GD: He mentioned he knew Stansfield Turner so you must be right. Anyway, Abenheim, that’s his name, Donald Abenheim, had a fellow student from Stanford named Jay Pollard. Pollard used to come over and the two of them would war game and I sat in on a few sessions. Pollard was a very pleasant, smart fellow but a raging nebbish. A Walter Mitty type, if you know what I mean. Lived in a fantasy world of his own making. Pollard’s father was a dentist or something dull living in Ohio but Pollard was a downright fanatical Israeli supporter and he went on about working as a kibbutz guard, being an officer in the Mossad and so on. Obvious bullshit. It didn’t make him a bad person but he was a little hard to take at times. We never believed a word he said on that subject. Anyway, later, after Abenheim had graduated from Stanford, he told me Pollard had tried to get into your agency as an analyst but they discovered his Israeli lust and turned him down. Don told me that in their yearbook, Pollard put down that he was a major in the Mossad. But then he went to work for naval intelligence….

RTC: Naval Fleet Intelligence. Then he transferred over to the Anti-Terrorist Alert center of the NIS.

GD: The what?

RTC: Naval Investigative Service. They dealt with top secret military communications. Go on.

GD: When Don told me about this, I remarked that perhaps, given his attitudes, this was really not the place for Pollard to work.

RTC: In hindsight, you were perfectly right.

GD: So I pumped Abenheim about what Pollard was doing. Jay was in touch with him and they both had motor mouths. When Abenheim got specific, I suggested that he mention this to someone because he was fooling around with the national intelligence community but he only laughed at me.

RTC: And then what?

GD: Well, I thought about this and don’t forget I knew Pollard’s fanatic attitudes…I mean they were obsessive, believe me…so after stewing about this, I called up someone I knew who was connected with the Pacifica Foundation. He was a friend of Cap Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense. I told him all about Pollard and said that in my opinion, this was a man who should not have any access to secret governmental material dealing with anything in the Middle East. I made it a point to tell this fellow that if he couldn’t get Weinberger’s attention, I would take it to the press. Oh no, he said, give me some time. I did. He called me back in about a week and said he had passed the word along and begged me to keep quiet about it. Fair enough. Then we all know what happened.

RTC: Yes, we all do. So you were the “unidentified source.”

GD: Yes. Beats Mr. Sunshine.

RTC: Did you hear about what Weinberger did to Pollard?

GD: Not really.

RTC: Pollard cut a deal with the government for a lighter sentence but Weinberger hated him and got Wolf Blitzer to have an interview with Pollard and trick him into breaking his agreement. Pollard got life for being stupid.

GD: He wasn’t stupid, but he had no common sense.

RTC: Well, now he’s got life in the slammer.

GD: I told Abenheim what I did and he was terrified I would drag him into it. He was living off of Beckett, who put him into Stanford and bought him new cars and so on, and he was afraid of the consequences if Beckett got wind of his own lack of concern. He used to babble all kinds of family gossip around, including myself, and I always thought that if you take a man’s bread, you owe him at least some loyalty. But Don was not a man to contemplate honor. I remember once when I was having certain conversation with a German diplomat in San Francisco, this fellow encountered Don at some function. Don was an outrageous ass-kisser and at any rate, the German told him he knew me and that I was a “brilliant scholar” on the German scene. He said that Abenheim got annoyed and said I was only self-educated, which I am not and I said that considering that I had written Abenheim’s doctoral thesis, that was hardly appropriate. The German found this rather shocking.

RTC: If Stanford ever found out about that, they would jerk his degree, you know. I don’t think that would do his intelligence career any good. What was the thesis on?

GD: The Imperial German Navy’s etappendienst or resupply system, in the First World War. After this episode, I mentioned it to Charlie Burdick, the German military historian and Dean at San Jose State, very reputable and I’ve known him since ’52…anyway, he said that this paper struck him as much better than Abenheim’s usually pompous and turgid works. He knew my work and said that he could see in an instant that I was right. I asked him, since he was Abenheim’s sponsor for the doctorate, what he was going to do about it. As usual, nothing. But he would never talk to Don again.

RTC: What happened to him?

GD: Burdick?

RTC: No, Abenheim. Does he work for us?

GD: No, although Beckett wanted to get him into the CIA via his contacts with Turner. He does intelligence work for the Navy, I think. After I had a talk with him about his mouth problem, we haven’t spoken.

RTC: You should tip them off. We have too many treacherous people like that.

GD: Well, I don’t worry about it. The Germans and Burdick know, and believe me, and he can deal with that knowledge. I don’t think you have to worry about his selling secrets to Israel. He and his mother hate the Zionists. Reformed Jews usually do.

RTC: What does he think about your writings on Mueller?

GD: I would hate to think. Fortunately, that is outside his interest so I am probably safe.

RTC: What is his specialty?

GD: He likes to think he’s an expert on German military tradition but he most certainly is not. Abenheim is the moon and Beckett is the sun. Abenheim drove expensive sports cars, lived in an expensive house, went to an expensive school and met famous people but only because his mother married an important, and very generous, man. I remember once, Don and his friends were planning on raiding a military storage area in San Francisco when he was working in the Presidio museum. They heard there was morphine stored there and planned to sell it. I told him that I would tell his mother if he didn’t drop that idea and it scared him off. I mean, what an utterly stupid thing to do. He should have thanked me for keeping him out of jail instead of trash mouthing me to others.

RTC: Given what you’ve told me, he’s probably just jealous. I imagine he loved to pick your brains.

GD: Yes, like Corson.

RTC: There are certain similarities there.

GD: God save us from those of the small mind and large ego.

RTC: Anyway, Gregory, you did the right thing in the Pollard matter. And while your name is not known in this, your good deeds certainly are.

GD: But no good deed goes unpunished, does it, Robert? At least, Abenheim will be more cautious in the future or I might start writing nice letters to Stanford. After all, I have all the original work on his thesis. His useless notes and my handwritten pages. I remember once when he told me that brave Israeli commandos raided a Libyan secret plant, deep in the desert, and destroyed it. I got tired of his pomposity so I told him, very offhand, that that was a hoax. I said Kadaffi had put some oil and old tires into 55 gallon drums and set them on fire. I said the satellites showed clouds of black smoke but there was nothing to it. He got very irate and asked me how I knew such things? I said I had seen the side-angle satellite pictures…

RTC: My God, Gregory, you didn’t? Those satellites are very, very secret. He must have had a fit about that.

GD: Oh, he did. It turned out later I was right about the burning tires so he rushed to his superiors to tell them all about the horrid person who had access to the sacred satellite pictures. And about a month later, a military collector friend of mine was approached by someone at a collector’s club meeting. A nice, clean-cut fellow named Mason. Anyway, this fellow made friends with my collector connection and developed a great interest in me and my doings. I checked on this Mason fellow and discovered from Petersen that Chris was a CIA operative so I led him a wonderful chase, feeding him all kinds of nonsense until he finally, after several months, realized he was being made a fool of and he went back to Washington. He was not very bright, Robert. I had written a book on German paratroopers in the campaign on Crete so he had my friend send me a mint copy of the book to autograph. The cover was heavy coated stock so I put on a pair of cotton gloves, went over to my next door neighbor and handed the book to him. I had told him earlier that I had written a number of studies of military actions and he was interested. I said I had hurt my hand and could he autograph the book?

RTC: Gregory, that was a terrible thing to do. Now someone has your neighbor’s fingerprints and handwriting in a file somewhere. What a wicked thing to do.

GD: Ain’t I awful, Robert? And I told my collector friend about all the lovely aerial pictures I had. I was going to get a Russian publisher to do a book called, “The World from the Air.”

RTC: Jesus Christ…

GD: Oh and I said they were Cosmic pictures. From Top Secret/Cosmic of course.

RTC: And I suppose he told his new friend and consternation ensued in Washington.

GD: I said I was meeting a Russian publisher’s rep in ‘Frisco down at his office on Green Street.

RTC: That’s the Russian consulate. That’s a KGB center, Gregory.

GD: No, don’t disillusion me.

RTC: That is really wicked. You never saw any side-angle satellites pictures, never had any secret pictures, had no Russian publisher but just imagine the furor.

GD: Kept me warm at night for months, Robert. Abenheim later told someone that I was pure evil and should never be talked to. He wasn’t specific but my friend thought he might have an involuntary bowel movement at any time.

RTC: I said several times you would make a great agent, Gregory.

GD: Whatever makes you think I’m not, Robert?

RTC: On that depressing note, I’ll let you go. We’re supposed to go shopping and let’s do this again. You’re better than television, Gregory.

GD: And a lot more accurate, Robert.

(Concluded at 10:32 AM CST)

Israeli Espionage in the US and 911

by Christian Jürs

In the history of Israeli espionage in and against the United States, the case of Jonathan Pollard was certainly the most heinous. Stanford graduate Pollard, a civilian U.S. naval intelligence analyst, provided Israeli intelligence with an estimated 800,000 pages of highly classified U.S. intelligence information. The Israelis in turn immediately passed this stolen information to the Soviets, thereby compromising American intelligence (CIA and military) agents in the field – a significant number of whom were captured and killed as a result.

Israel at first denied, and then, faced with overwhelming evidence, admitted after he was arrested in 1985, convicted and sentenced to life in prison, that they were well aware of Pollard’s connections to the Mossad and an Israeli Air Force intelligence unit working out of the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

The case created severe strains in American-Israeli relations, and is a source of ongoing rage in many American Jews, who believe that since Pollard was spying for Israel, he had an obligation to do this and that his life sentence was unduly harsh.

Many Jewish groups in the United States, acting in concert with high level Israeli officials have constantly importuned American Presidents to pardon Pollard and permit him to immigrate to Israel where he was promised a large sum of cash and a seat in the Israeli Knesset.

Any attempt to understand the official U.S. response to any accusations of Israeli espionage in the United States as well as to comprehend the media response must take into account both the smoke screen that states blow over incidents that could jeopardize their strategic alliances, and America’s unique and complex relationship with Israel.

The Jewish state is a close if problematic ally with whom the United States enjoys a “special relationship” unlike that maintained with any other nation in the world. But U.S. and Israeli interests do not always coincide, and spying has always been deemed to cross a line, to represent a fundamental violation of trust.

According to intelligence sources, the United States might perhaps secretly tolerate some Israeli spying on U.S. soil if the government decided that it was in our interest, such as observation and infiltration of pro-Palestine Arab groups legally resident in the United States (although it could never be acknowledged), but certain types of spying will simply not be accepted by the United States, whether the spying is carried out by Israel or anyone else.

If England or France spied on the United States, and this was discovered, American officials would likely conceal it.

In the case of Israel, there are far stronger reasons to hide any unseemly violations of the “special” relationship.

The powerful pro-Israel political constituencies in Congress; pro-Israel lobbies; the Trump administration’s strong support for Israel, and its strategic and political interest in maintaining close ties with the Jewish state as a partner in the “war against terror”; the devastating consequences for U.S.-Israeli relations if it was suspected that Israeli agents might have known about the Sept. 11 attack — all these factors explain why the U.S. government might publicly downplay any public accusation of Israeli espionage against the United States and forcefully conceal any investigation that might be expected to produce results unacceptable to the Israel lobby and the American Jewish community that firmly supports it.

The pro-Israel lobby is an enormous and very powerful force in American politics; the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is the No. 1 foreign-policy lobby in Washington and the fourth most powerful lobby in Washington, according to Fortune Magazine. Other powerful and influential pro-Israel groups include the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

Michael Lind, a senior fellow of the New America Foundation and a former executive editor of the National Interest, calls the Israel lobby “an ethnic donor machine” that “distorts U.S. foreign policy” in the Middle East. Among foreign service officers, law enforcement and the military, there is an impression, says Lind, that you can’t mess with Israel without suffering direct and indirect smears, such as being labeled an Arabist. Lind, who himself has been virulently attacked as an anti-Semite for his forthrightness on the subject, acknowledges that the Israel lobby is no different from any other — just more effective. “This is what all lobbies do,” Lind observes. “If you criticize the AARP, you hate old people and you want them to starve to death. The Israel lobby is just one part of the lobby problem.”

After an explosion in the town of Rishon Letzion  in May of 2002 killed two people and the bomber, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said, “The innocent Israelis murdered today underscore the need to stand with Israel as they eliminate the terrorist networks.”

DeLay’s strong response was one of many expressions of support coming from congressional members, who repeatedly remind voters of the strong U.S.-Israel alliance dating back to Israel’s 1948 foundation.

But widespread congressional support is rooted in more than just a long-term relationship. It is traced to the power of the collective Jewish or pro-Israeli lobby, a well organized, well funded, extremely active, and extraordinarily connected group, according to political analysts.

“They are very savvy and sophisticated,” said Richard Semiatin, a political science professor at American University. “They are extremely knowledgeable and some of the best lobbyists in the country when they get into congressional offices.”

Indeed, the latest crisis in the Middle East, which has been punctuated by Palestinian uprisings that resulted in dozens of homicide bombings and the subsequent ongoing occupation of disputed Palestinian territory, has only energized this Washington lobby. The group has been hosting near-daily organizational conferences, press events, op-eds, advertising campaigns, and rallies — all demanding that Arafat get control of his militant supporters and reform his corrupt Parliament.

“It’s a little like the special forces teams who go in to fight in Afghanistan. They’re on the ground, calling in bombers. The planes overhead are the pro-Israeli supporters across the country,” who donate money to campaigns and send letters to Washington, said former Clinton political adviser Dick Morris. “It’s a very effective model and basically unequaled in the Congress.”

“The key to AIPAC’s success is support for the only Western democracy in the Middle East,” said Josh Block, spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which boasts over 65,000 Jewish and non-Jewish members. “The members support and believe that Israel is our ally on the frontline against terrorism in the Middle East. When you are lobbying on an issue that is so clearly the right thing to do, your effectiveness is high.”

Granted, other groups, including the National Rifle Association, the Cuban American National Foundation and the American Trial Lawyers Association, all command large audiences and ready support in the aggressive environment of Washington.

But AIPAC, along with the American Jewish Committee, the American Defense League, the United Jewish Communities, the National Jewish Democratic Council, and the Republican Jewish Coalition, all of whom conduct their own grassroots campaigns, have surpassed the partisan and political bickering that often marks policy on guns, Cuba and tort law.

AIPAC also engaged in active espionage against the United States as withes this official DoJ press release:

U.S. Department of Justice

United States Attorney

Eastern District of Virginia

Paul J. McNulty

2100 Jamieson Avenue

United States Attorney

Alexandria, Virginia 22314

(703)299-3700

NEWS RELEASE

August 4, 2005

Paul McNulty, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced that Lawrence Anthony Franklin, age 58, of Kearneysville, WV; Steven J. Rosen, age 63, of Silver Spring, MD; and Keith Weissman, age 53, of Bethesda, MD, were indicted today by a federal grand jury sitting in Alexandria with Conspiracy to Communicate National Defense Information to Persons Not Entitled to Receive It. The indictment alleges that beginning in April of 1999, Rosen, the Director of Foreign Policy Issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, D.C., and Weissman, the Senior Middle East Analyst in the Foreign Policy Issues Department at AIPAC, in an effort to influence persons within and outside the United States government, would use their contacts within the United States government, including Franklin, with whom they first met in February 2003, to gather sensitive United States government information, including classified information relating to the national defense, for subsequent unlawful communication, delivery and transmission to persons not entitled to receive it, including members of the media and foreign government officials.

Franklin was also charged with three counts of Communication of National Defense Information to Persons Not Entitled to Receive It. In one of those counts, Rosen was charged with aiding and abetting him in the unlawful disclosure.

Finally, Franklin was charged with conspiring with persons known and unknown to the grand jury to communicate classified information to an agent or representative of a foreign government. It is alleged that Franklin would use his position as a desk officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense to gather information, classified as affecting the security of the United States, for subsequent unlawful communication to a foreign official.

Franklin was pardoned by President Trump.

Mr. McNulty stated: “When it comes to classified information, there is a clear line in the law. Today’s charges are about crossing that line. Those entrusted with safeguarding our nation’s secrets must remain faithful to that trust. Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be.”

This case was investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin DiGregory and Neil Hammerstrom, and Thomas Reilly, Trial Attorney, the Counterespionage Section of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice.

U.S. congressional leaders like DeLay, former House Majority Leader until his felony indictment, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., delivered rousing speeches to AIPAC’s annual conference, the most powerful lobbying force for the Jewish-American community. DeLay’s speech was followed by instructions to blanket Capitol Hill with lobbying teams.

“These groups have taken advantage of the political system to organize themselves to petition the government and they have a reputation of success not only because of their influence but because our presidents have seen their cause in the public interest,” said John Samples, a political analyst with the Cato Institute. “It gives you the notion that there is a broad coalition of people who see it as part of the national interest to support Israel very strongly.”

“They do have a tremendous amount of clout, but I think it starts with the fact that there is an enormous amount of support for their point of view in Washington,” said political analyst Rich Galen, who edits Mullings.com. “They are feeding into a willing audience.”

But not everyone is buying into the hype.

“It is truly disturbing to see American elected officials falling over themselves in an unseemly attempt to ‘pledge allegiance’ to a foreign government and its domestic lobby,” complained the Council on American-Islamic Relations in a recent statement.

“There are Jewish people who are opposed to Israeli policies, but they don’t get a hearing in the Congress. The pro-Israel lobby gets all the attention,” said Faiz Rehmanen, communications director for the American Muslim Council in Washington.

“As an American, I see it as a problem. [Members of Congress] aren’t addressing our interests, they are addressing the interests of a critical lobby,” he added.

Indeed, the number of Jews in the United States Congress well surpasses the population as a whole. Seven percent of members are Jewish, while the Jewish-American population totals 2.2 percent, about 6 million people in a nation of 280 million.

But Jewish-Americans accounted for 4 percent of total voter turnout in the 2000 elections, totaled close to 3 percent of swing voters in several key states and their fund-raising ability is nearly unmatched, say experts.

“It’s a big fund-raising community filled with people who are willing to give large sums of money to political parties and candidates,” said Michael Barone, author of The New Americans. “It’s money, but it is also skill, it’s the strength of their arguments.”

In 2001, AIPAC spent $1.1 million in lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, which Block said is typical. None of that money went directly to political campaigns. Neither does AIPAC endorse candidates.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, pro-Israeli donors, including PACs and individuals, gave $28.6 million to Democrats and $12.7 million to Republicans. About $17.5 million came from PACs and $24 million from individuals.

By comparison, Arab-American and Muslim PAC contributions totaled $296,830 since 1990, with Democrats receiving $206,908 of that money.

“The Jewish lobby is extremely influential in Washington,” said Steven Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. “If you are a candidate and you get the pro-Israel label from AIPAC, the money will start coming in from contributors all over the country.” “When you have a core constituency that is so passionate about what they believe in, they are likely to open their pocketbooks,” surmised Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Considering the volatility of the issue, it is not surprising that almost no one in officialdom wants to go on the record for a story like the art students. “In government circles,” as Insight’s Rodriguez put it, “anything that has to do with Israel is always a hot topic, a third rail — deadly. No one wants to touch it.” Intelligence officers say that to publicly air suspicions of Israeli wrongdoing was tantamount to “career suicide.” And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in one of its bloodiest and most polarizing phases, has only exacerbated sensitivities.

Some of the same pressures that keep government officials from criticizing Israel may also explain why the media has failed to pursue the art student enigma. Media outlets that run stories even mildly critical of Israel often find themselves targeted by organized campaigns, including form-letter e-mails, the cancellation of subscriptions, and denunciations of the organization and its reporters and editors as anti-Semites.

U.S. investigators now believe that once again they have uncovered a “significant number” of Israelis and Israeli informants extensively engaged in domestic espionage against the U.S.

Of even greater concern is the strong belief that many of these Israeli spies in the United States in all probability had specific foreknowledge of the September 11 attack on American buildings and people in Washington and New York City.

Ukraine-Russia sea clash staged, says Putin

November 28,2018

BBC News

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine’s leader, Petro Poroshenko, of trying to boost his ratings ahead of 2019 elections with a naval confrontation off Crimea.

Russian FSB border guards opened fire on two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug before seizing the Ukrainian crews.

“He had to do something to make the situation more tense,” Mr Putin told an investment forum on Wednesday.

Ukraine has denied the charge, calling it a Russian “act of aggression”.

Mr Poroshenko has declared martial law for 30 days in response to the crisis.

The decision, backed by parliament, affects 10 Ukrainian border regions, and the Ukrainian leader made clear in a TV interview he thought the country was under threat of “full-scale war with Russia”.

“Don’t think that it is fun,” he warned.

All 24 captured Ukrainian sailors have now been given two months in pre-trial detention by a court in Russian-annexed Crimea.

Presentational grey line

Why is Poroshenko on a war footing?

November 28, 2018

by Jonah Fisher, BBC News, Kiev

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko is talking up the possibility of war.

In a series of media interviews with both international and domestic TV channels his message was clear: Russia is preparing an attack and Ukraine must get ready.

It’s hard for Mr Poroshenko to lose in that position. If war starts, he saw it coming. If it doesn’t, his actions have averted it.

Martial law has been introduced in the parts of the country closest to Russia. Declaring martial law sent a strong message but in practice it looks like changing very little on the ground. For now at least, border crossings remain open and life continues as normal.

With the war of words continuing between Kiev and Moscow over Sunday’s incident in the Kerch Strait, I met the Speaker of Ukraine’s parliament and key Poroshenko ally Andriy Parubiy.

I asked him whether martial law was a political ploy designed to rescue the unpopular president ahead of elections in March.

“This idea doesn’t come from our society but from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin,” he told me.

What happened off Crimea?

At least three of the Ukrainian sailors were wounded on Sunday as tensions spilled over near in the Kerch Strait, the passage between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov off the coast of Crimea.

The peninsula was seized from Ukraine in 2014 and annexed by Russia shortly afterwards.

The three boats were sailing from Odessa to Mariupol, a major Ukrainian port on the Azov sea, when they were confronted by four FSB vessels.

Both countries agreed to share the sea in a 2003 treaty, but Russia’s decision to open a bridge across the Kerch Strait this year exacerbated tensions.

Ukraine says Russia is deliberately blockading Mariupol and another port, Berdyansk, preventing ships from getting through the Kerch Strait.

  • Why Ukraine-Russia sea clash is fraught with risk

What did Putin say?

“It is undoubtedly a provocation,” the Russian president said, adding that it was organised by Ukraine’s authorities “and, I think, the incumbent president in the run-up to the Ukrainian presidential election in March 2019”.

Mr Poroshenko was languishing in fifth place according to opinion polls, he asserted, adding that the Ukrainian president’s decision to impose martial law after a mere “border incident” had not even taken place at the height of the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the east in 2014.

He insisted that Russia’s military response was appropriate as the Ukrainians had “trespassed” into Russia’s territorial waters, arguing that even before Crimea was annexed they were Russian waters. Ukrainian officials published a map on Wednesday, placing all three Ukrainian boats just outside Crimea’s territorial waters at the time they were seized.

“This political froth will die down,” Mr Putin suggested, hours after Russia announced that it would send a new S-400 surface-to-air missile system to Crimea next month, to join the three already deployed this year.

How has Ukraine reacted?

Martial law is being implemented across Ukraine’s border regions.

The state border service said it had been put on full combat alert and a number of other potential restrictions could be imposed.

Mr Poroshenko initially called for a 60-day period of martial law but when domestic critics suggested he wanted to delay the March 2019 presidential vote he halved the period, so that “it will not overlap for one day with the start of the election campaign”.

Condemning Russia’s “act of aggression”, Ukraine has pointed to the fact that the Black Sea is free to all shipping and also that under the 2003 Sea of Azov treaty both countries have access to it.

Western governments have backed the Ukrainian argument and US President Donald Trump has said he may cancel a planned meeting with Mr Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires later this week.

“Maybe I won’t even have the meeting. I don’t like that aggression. I don’t want that aggression at all,” he told the Washington Post.

 

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