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TBR News October 12, 2018

Oct 12 2018

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

Washington, D.C. October 12, 2018:” A whistleblower in a top US intelligence agency has sent out copies of a Cosmic level Nato report on US/Isreali staff talks in Italy about the US carpet-bombing parts of Iran that might house elements of an atomic weaponry system.

This whistleblower, whom the author of the article calls ‘the nutless wonder,’ is well-thought of in his profession. I wonder if he gets Christmas gifts of presentation pen and pencil sets with the signature of some deputy director that he can put next to his picture with top members of the local Lions Club. The author has collected many interesting anecdotes about various activities that ought to be of great interest to the world in general and other in specific.”

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 48
  • Ralph Nader: Donald Trump is ‘a clear and imminent danger’ to the world
  • Germans fear Donald Trump more than Vladimir Putin, poll finds
  • Russian Delivery of New Missile Defence System to Syria Likely to Change Balance of Power
  • US-Israeli Staff Talks on Pending Military Actions against Iran
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Is This the Beginning of the End of the U.S.-Saudi Alliance?
  • Turks tell U.S. officials they have audio and video recordings that prove journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 48

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

  • Jan 12, 2018

“…Because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards. The Dems will threaten ‘shutdown,’ but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is no reasonable argument that Democrats are “shutting down our military.” The military continues operating even when there is a government shutdown. Trump may have been referring instead to Democrats’ demands on military spending, but even then he was wrong: Democrats were not demanding military spending cuts, simply that non-military spending be increased as much as military spending was to be increased.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

  • Jan 14, 2018

“I think you have a lot of sticking points, but they’re all Democrat sticking points, because we are ready, willing, and able to make a deal, but they don’t want to…And they want to take money away from our military, which we cannot do.”

Source: Remarks to media before dinner at Mar-a-Lago

in fact: Democrats were not pushing for a reduction in military spending. Rather, as their Senate leader Chuck Schumer explained, they were demanding that non-military spending be increased by as much as military spending was to be increased.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

  • Jan 16, 2018

“New report from DOJ & DHS shows that nearly 3 in 4 individuals convicted of terrorism-related charges are foreign-born.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump omitted from his tweet a crucial word in the headline of the new report: “international.” The report was about international terrorism charges; its title was this: “Three Out of Four Individuals Convicted of International Terrorism and Terrorism-Related Offenses were Foreign-Born.” By omitting the “international,” Trump created the inaccurate impression that the data in the report covers all terrorism, including domestic terrorism, in which American-born criminals are more heavily involved. (There are possible issues with the report’s data itself — the website The Intercept found that the list of terrorists had been cut by more than 100 people, from a previous version of the list, without any explanation — but even if you take the numbers as accurate, Trump’s framing is inaccurate.)

“Trump approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump did not invent this false claim himself. Rather, he was citing his favourite morning show, Fox and Friends, which appeared to be citing the pro-Trump website Breitbart. But it was incorrect regardless. According to the polling firm Gallup, Trump’s approval rating with Black Americans actually fell from 15 per cent to 6 per cent between January 2017 and December 2017, as the Washington Post noted. Recent polls from other firms put Trump’s approval rating with Black Americans at a higher level — 11 per cent in one poll, 12 per cent in another — but still not even close to double his previous level. So where did Breitbart, Fox and Trump get this claim? They took data from the survey firm SurveyMonkey — 23 per cent Trump approval with black men, 11 per cent approval with Black women — and simply averaged the figures for the two genders, settling on an “approval rating” of 17 per cent. Then they compared that 23 per cent number to Trump’s 8 per cent performance with Black Americans in exit polls of the 2016 election. This is erroneous in two ways. First, you cannot properly compare approval rating polls to exit polls; exit polls do not show an approval rating but attempt to reflect how people voted. Second, it is bad math to take a simple average of a politician’s male approval rating and female approval rating without considering how many of each were surveyed — in this case, 19,000 Black men and 31,000 Black women. Trump’s actual SurveyMonkey approval rating among all Black Americans. According to the New York Times: “SurveyMonkey’s results…show that Mr. Trump’s approval ratings among black Americans actually declined from 20 per cent in February 2017, his first full month in office, to 15 per cent in December.

“The Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Nothing that can be described as “amnesty for all” was involved in the shutdown debate. Republicans use the phrase “amnesty for all” to describe proposals to grant legal status, such as citizenship, to every unauthorized immigrant in the country. This debate, however, was simply about the fate of the “DREAMers,” the subset of unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as young people. Trump himself said that he wanted to find a way to give these people legal statu

“Chrysler is leaving Mexico and moving back to Michigan. That’s — you haven’t heard that one.”

Source: Speech to Women of America event

in fact: Trump could have accurately said that Chrysler is “shifting some production from Mexico,” or something of the sort. It is not accurate, though, to say that Chrysler is “leaving” Mexico. The company announced that it is moving the production of its Ram truck from a plant in Saltillo, Mexico to a plant in Michigan — but it said there would be no layoffs in Mexico and that the Mexican plant would be “repurposed” to production of other vehicles.

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

“But the stock market is way up again today, and we’re setting a record literally all the time. And I’m telling you, we have a long way to go. And had the other side gotten in, the market would have gone down 50 per cent from where it was — 50 per cent from where it was. Remember that. It was stagnant, and it was going down.”

Source: Speech to Women of America event

in fact: It is highly unlikely that a Clinton victory would have resulted in a historic stock market crash; she had largely vowed to continue Obama policies, and stock markets rose steadily under Obama. We’ll let Trump slide on this alternative history, but not on his claim that the market was “stagnant” and “going down” before he took office. As CBS reported in 2016, the Dow Jones experienced robust growth during Obama’s tenure: “Measuring the performance of the Dow Jones industrials index starting in 1900, Bespoke Investment Group found that Mr. Obama came in third, at a 12.3 per cent annual return. The best showing was under Calvin Coolidge’s one term, during the Roaring Twenties, at a 25.5 per cent annual return. Then came Bill Clinton at No. 2, with 15.9 per cent, and No. 4 Ronald Reagan, 11.3 per cent.” As the New York Times reported two months before Trump’s victory: “The facts are inescapable: The Obama years have been among the best of times to be a stock investor, going all the way back to the dawn of the 20th century. Consider that had you been prescient enough to buy shares of a low-cost stock index fund on Mr. Obama’s first inauguration day, on Jan. 20, 2009, you would now have tripled your money. Stock market performance of this level has rarely been surpassed.”

“Black unemployment is the best it’s ever been in recorded history. It’s been fantastic. And it’s the best number we’ve had with respect to Black unemployment. We’ve never seen anything even close, so we’re very honored by that.”

Source: Remarks in meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

in fact: Trump is correct that the Black unemployment rate, 6.8 per cent in December 2017, has hit a record low, but he is exaggerating when he says “we’ve never seen anything even close.” The rate was 7.0 per cent in April 2000, during Bill Clinton’s tenure.

  • Jan 17, 2018

“We’re looking at doing a beautiful embassy, but not one that costs $1.2 billion. You know what that means, you know what I mean by that?” And: “And it (the new U.S. embassy in London) came out tremendously over budget so now we have an embassy that cost $1.2 billion.”

Source: Interview with Reuters

in fact: After Trump began complaining about the new U.S. embassy in London, an embassy spokesperson issued a highly unusual statement correcting him. He was inaccurate about both the cost and the budget: the statement pointed out that the new facility cost $1 billion, not $1.2 billion, and was “executed within the established budget.”

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

Ralph Nader: Donald Trump is ‘a clear and imminent danger’ to the world

US political activist and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader tells DW why he believes Donald Trump will be a one-term president and why the Democrats should adopt European concepts to win the midterm elections.

October 11, 2018

by Michael Knigge

DW

DW: You have experienced more than half a dozen US presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, and criticized all of them because you are not beholden to either party. How does President Trump rank compared to his predecessors?

Ralph Nader: At the bottom. He is so ignorant that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He is also destroying norms and conventions of a sane society. I can imagine a lot of parents around the country being sassed by their ten- or eleven-year-olds. And when they admonish them for what they say or what they observe or what they do, these kids can say the president of the United States, President Trump, does it. So he is very corrosive for moral and ethical values in the society.

Plus, he has gone back on his populist promises. He has brought back Wall Street advisers in his circle of advisers in Washington. He is destroying the law and order for corporate polluters and consumer exploitation and labor abuse. And he is basically running down the regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the auto safety agency. He is very unstable in foreign policy: one day he is praising dictators and another day he is threatening to obliterate certain countries. And he is continuing the Bush and Obama empire policy of using drones and special forces and having bloated military budgets.

What many may not know is that you are a first-generation American. Your parents were immigrants to the US from Lebanon, which may provide you with a more personal view of President Trump’s clampdown on immigration and refugee programs. What does it say about this administration that despite a court order in July hundreds of migrant children are still separated from their parents?

That is remarkably cruel. And it should also be bad politics among the American people and he is losing ground because of that. His anti-immigrant stance is pretty indiscriminate, but in other areas it’s bigoted beyond people’s belief. He is a bigot against people from the Arab world. He campaigned in South Carolina as a candidate and attacked two innocent small refugee families from Syria who were just trying to make a living, having come a few months ago to the United States. He has allowed the smallest number of refugees to come to the United States in modern time. So we are destroying important bipartisan traditions with this man who thinks that he can get away with everything. But I think the [Robert] Mueller inquiry is going to show him that there is still some force of law in the United States against an illegally behaving president.

It often flies under the radar because of all the other constant turmoil in Washington, but shouldn’t there be much more attention paid to the Trump administration’s systematic unraveling of environmental and consumer protections?

Yes, here we have climate disruption increasing and scientific predictions that it’s moving faster than we thought even a few years ago, and he denies its very existence and says climate change is a hoax. And he put the brake on the federal government’s machinery. He has dismantled scientific groups and people have left the government because of his policies and he has withdrawn from international accords. He is a clear and imminent danger not just to the American people, but to the world.

 

Germans fear Donald Trump more than Vladimir Putin, poll finds

The United States may be Germany’s No. 1 ally, but two-thirds of Germans think that the US president is more dangerous than his Russian counterpart. That’s not surprising when you look at Germany’s political priorities.

by Jefferson Chase (Berlin)

DW

When asked which world leader was the greater threat to world security, 64 percent of respondents chose US President Donald Trump over his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. That’s according to a YouGov poll published on the eve of Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

And the German antipathy toward Trump doesn’t end there: 56 percent of respondents thought that Putin was more competent than Trump, with only 5 percent preferring the latter on that score. Thirty-six percent of Germans find Putin more likable than Trump, while 6 percent say the opposite — although most respondents refused to indicate a preference on that question.

And, perhaps most surprisingly, 44 percent said Putin was more powerful than Trump, compared with only 29 percent who thought the US president has more power.

German conservatives share the general public’s dislike of Trump. People who voted for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) also found Putin more likable, competent and powerful than the US president by margins similar to respondents as a whole. In fact, conservative voters were slightly more likely (66 percent) to class Trump as the bigger threat than people overall in the poll.

Maas: Remember who your friends are

In an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had a warning for the US president.

“Dialogue requires clarity, and President Trump’s system of coordinates lacks clarity,” Maas said. “Anyone who snubs his partners risks being the big loser in the end. One-sided deals to the detriment of America’s own partners ultimately hurt the US, too.”

But Maas also said the bilateral summit could make the world more peaceful.

“It would be a step forward if this meeting also produced some impulses for nuclear disarmament,” Maas said.

On the one hand, Germans fear that Trump’s and Putin’s alpha male tendencies could collide, ratcheting up tensions between the world’s two greatest military powers. On the other, they’re perhaps even more afraid that Trump and Putin might be too much on the same page.

Two against the EU?

“The world’s two most powerful men have one thing in common,” Bild’s lead story on Sunday reads. “They want to weaken Europe.”

That’s a widespread view around Germany, where many people fear that Trump’s occasional hostility to NATO, for instance, plays into Putin’s strategic aim of dividing the West and increasing Russia’s influence in the world.

“Donald Trump is meeting Vladimir Putin, the man whom he admires — and who has become an adversary of the West,” the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel writes in its current lead article. “If the Helsinki summit turns out to be a lovefest between two like-minded men, it could shake Europe to its core.”

A major aspect of German worry is the belief that the businessman and former reality TV star Trump maybe in over his head with a political veteran such as Putin.

“The US president is stumbling into a summit meeting with a former KGB officer who has kept himself in power for 18 years, suppressed the opposition, manipulated democratic elections and has no scruples about using violence,” Spiegel reports. “Someone who knows exactly what he wants.”

Disconnect on priorities

The distrust of Trump’s motivations and leadership capabilities is apparent in how Germans see the United States as a whole. In a YouGov poll published earlier in July, Germans were asked whether they had a generally positive or negative view of the United States. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they viewed the US negatively, compared with only 29 percent who chose positively.

The negative-positive split in France was 51 percent to 36 percent, while more respondents in Britain viewed the US positively (48 percent) than negatively (39 percent) — although Trump’s visit this week to the UK may have moved those numbers.

The reasons for the German antipathy toward the US president run deeper than a visceral response to Trump’s abrasive leadership style. Germans simply have different priorities.

In a new poll carried out by the Emnid organization for Bild, respondents were asked to rank which political issues they considered most important. “Increasing defense spending” — a Trump priority — came in dead last, with only 16 percent.

According to the poll, Germans are also not particularly concerned with a rise in migration to Europe: Only 38 percent said they would prioritize “limiting immigration.” What worries Germans most are becoming poor in their old age, maintaining equal educational opportunities for all and improving their health care system.

Russian Delivery of New Missile Defence System to Syria Likely to Change Balance of Power

October 8, 2018

by Patrick Cockburn

The Independent

Russia has completed delivery of a S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria in a move likely to change the balance of forces in the skies over the Syrian battlefields.

“The work was finished a day ago,” Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin in a meeting broadcast on television.

The decision to supply the sophisticated anti-aircraft system came in response to the shooting down of a Russian Ilyushin reconnaissance plane with the loss of all 15 on board by Syria on 17 September in an incident 22 miles off the Syrian coast for which Russia holds Israel ultimately responsible.

The friendly fire loss of the Russian plane is unsurprising since three of the world’s most powerful air forces – Russia, US and Israel – are frequently flying in or close to Syrian air space. In addition, there are Turkish and Syrian planes, backed up, in the case of Syria, by a ground-to-air defence system. With five air forces operating in close proximity some mishap always appeared inevitable.

Israel has expressed regret at the death of the Russian air force personnel and is concerned that the S-300s may make it more risky for its planes to continue a campaign against Iranian facilities in Syria. The missiles have the capacity to track dozens of targets at a distance of hundreds of miles. The state-owned manufacturer Almaz-Antey says they can also shoot down cruise and ballistic missiles.

Israel has long sought to prevent the delivery of the S-300s to Iran and Syria. Iran did buy the system in 2007 but it was only delivered in 2016.

“We have not changed our strategic line on Iran,” said Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet. “We will not allow Iran to open up a third front against us. We will take actions as required.”

Mr Putin has succeeded hitherto in maintaining good relations and a high level of cooperation with Syria, Turkey and Israel, despite their conflicting objectives in Syria.

Relations between Israel and Russia have been frayed by the 17 September shoot down when the Russians claimed that Israeli F-16s had used the reconnaissance flight of the Russian plane off Latakia to make an attack.

More is at stake than future Israeli air operations over Syria. US military power in the northern tier of the Middle East – notably in Syria and Iraq – stems primarily from the massive destructive power of its air force and its ability to use its planes and missiles at will.

This strategy worked successfully in the campaign against Isis in both countries in 2014-18 when local ground troops – the Kurds in Syria and government security forces in Iraq – defeated Isis thanks to US air support. Any radical improvement in Syrian air defences reduces US military options.

The US could not confirm yesterday that the S-300 missile batteries had been delivered. But the Russian Defence Ministry has published a video of the launcher, radar and command and control vehicle being unloaded.

Moscow will also support and upgrade Syrian electronic defences

Syria hopes that Israel will be less free in future to carry air attacks on Syrian territory. Syria’s deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad said that: “Israel, which has gotten used to carrying out attacks under various pretexts, will now have to weigh and rethink before attacking again.”

The S-300 missiles will at the very least make Israel more cautious and less likely to take for granted Russian acquiescence in Israeli operations against Iran in Syria. It has also deployed the even more advanced S-400 missile batteries to its own bases in Syria.

Israel gives advanced warning to the Russians of any of its air actions in or close to Syria which has allowed some 200 attacks since the start of 2017 to be carried out in relative safety.

A Russian complaint about the shooting down of the Ilyushin reconnaissance plane is that only one minute’s warning was given. This was too short a period for them to alert the Syrians as to what was happening. An explanation for this could be that the Russians and Syrians must inevitably inform their Iranian allies about Israeli intentions leading Israel to keep the warning time as short as possible.

The shooting down of the Russian aircraft and the delivery of the S-300 is a sign that the military balance is changing to the advantage of the Syrian government.

Since the end of 2016, President Bashar al-Assad has recaptured the most important armed opposition strongholds in East Aleppo, East Ghouta and Deraa, leaving only one, the large opposition enclave in Idlib untaken. He can now focus more time to pushing back against Israeli military operations affecting Syria.

AIsrael and the US continue to speak of the build up of Iranian influence either directly or through local proxies in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. But Iranian influence probably peaked in Syria and Iraq in 2015 when governments in both countries were under intense military pressure from Isis and needed all the foreign help they could get. Israeli attacks will not stop, but they will be riskier.

US-Israeli Staff Talks on Pending Military Actions against Iran

October 12, 2018

by Aaron L. Johnson

MILAN—Ten day talks between US military planners and their Israeli counterparts held this week at the discreet Hotel Bavarie dealt with projected military actions against the Iranian state.

The meeting, one of a number conducted over a three-week period, were under the observation of Italian security agencies who reported that the attendees were all posing as “tourists.” Two of the Americans were identified as military intelligence agents, one was a CIA operative stationed in Rome and the identities of the four Israelis are currently not discovered.

Surveillance has disclosed that both the American President, Trump and the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu share the common view that Iran poses a “present and urgent danger” both to American military forces now in Iraq and also to the state of Israel.

The purpose of the meeting was to further explore a joint US-Israeli “neutralizing” military action that is twofold: The first would be an American and IDF aerial attack using “smart bombs” and other radio-directed weapons, against identified nuclear sites and important Iranian governmental command centers and the second would be to provide a joint US-Israeli force of occupation.

Eyeing Iran reactors, Israel seeks US bunker bombs

The United States plans to sell Israel $139 million worth of air-launched bombs, including 500 “bunker busters” able to penetrate Iran’s underground nuclear facilities.

A Pentagon analysis paper quoted a Pentagon report as saying the planned procurement sought “to maintain Israel’s qualitative advantage and advance U.S. strategic and tactical interests”.

The U.S. embassy in Israel declined comment and referred questions to Washington. Israeli officials also had no comment. But a senior Israeli security source told Reuters: “This is not the sort of ordnance needed for the Palestinian front. Bunker busters could serve Israel against Iran, or possibly Syria.”

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

October 12, 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. 66

Date: Wednesday, February 12, 1997

Commenced:  11:15 AM CST

Concluded:  11:45 AM CST

RTC: That has to be you, Gregory. Such timing. Corson was speaking with me a few minutes ago about you. Are your ears still ringing?

GD: No.

RTC: Ah, you are so popular. Bill was warning me that we had both best cut you loose because the wrath of God might descend. Bill has a paper asshole.

GD: Who is it this time? The Pope?

RTC: No, the Kimmel people. He regularly turns his Justice people loose on both of us. I think they need a new record. The current one gets stuck. Is it true you killed Abraham Lincoln, Gregory? I mean it’s pretty well set that you are the illegitimate son of Adolf Hitler, or is it Josef Stalin? I can’t seem to remember, it’s all so mixed up. Anyway, you are pure evil and have to be kept away from. And do let’s keep the Pope out of this. I had enough trouble with that one.

GD: Which Pope?

RTC: John Paul I. We also went after John Paul II but that one didn’t work, and we didn’t want to try it again.

GD: Why, in God’s name, did you want to kill the Pope? And out of curiosity, how did you pull it off?

RFC: The first one was going to put a terrible crimp in our drug business out of Italy and we tried to do the second one to blame the Russians. It was a sort of a game with us. Always try to do a bad bit and make it look like the Russians did it.

GD: The drug business? What did the Pope have to do with drugs?

RTC: He didn’t. It was the bank there that did. He had nothing to do with it but it was the Vatican bank.

GD: The Vatican bank was involved with drugs?

RTC: No, we used it to launder money. Who, I ask you, who would ever question the Vatican bank? It was the Mafia who had the inside bank contacts and, believe me, there was a lot of money moving around. Let’s see, the Pope was elected in, I think, August of ’79. He replaced Montini. Former Vatican Secretary of State….he was Paul VI. Anyway, we had a fine working arrangement with the Italian Mafia about the movement of money as I said.

GD: I met Montini once, I think in ’51.

RTC: The new one had been in Venice….Luciani….

GD: There was another one from Venice….

RTC: I know but not the same one. That was back in the ‘60s. But the new Pope posed quite a problem. He had been told that there were certain irregularities in the IOR…that’s the Vatican bank. And the new Pope was inclined to be honest and was demanding a full review of the books and so on. If this had happened, a good deal would have been uncovered, so the Pope had to go. It was that simple, Gregory. Politics had nothing to do with it, nothing at all.

GD: Couldn’t someone have cooked the books? Was murder necessary?

RTC: You don’t understand the whole picture, Gregory. The Mafia was involved in this up to their eyebrows and if any of it had come out, someone would have talked and pointed to us. We couldn’t have that. We had to get rid of Dag Hammarskjold because he was interfering with the uranium people in the Congo. It was nothing personal at all.

GD: How did you do it?

RTC: Our Station Chief in Rome ran the show. Contacts in the Vatican and especially with Buzonetti, the Pope’s doctor. My God, old Renata cost us plenty. On our payroll since God knows when. And our Political Psychological Division worked on this to put the blame on the KGB. And the P-2 Lodge was also involved and they were ours.

GD: The what?

RTC: The P-2 Lodge was an Italian Masonic group and early in 1970, we got our hands on it. It was designed to attract right wing Italian bankers and businessmen to combat the very active Italian Communist party.  No, if the Pope had started something, it would have wrecked years of hard work on our part and ruined some of our more important assets. In the end, it was money, not Renaissance-style politics, that did Luciani in.

GD: Does the Vatican know now?

RTC: Suspects, but would rather not know anything. After the Pope assumed room temperature, we consolidated and revamped the system. There was quite a bit of mopping-up to do. We had to kill off a number of Italian players who had been pushed out of the picture and were longing to get back into the money. One hanged himself from a bridge in England. Obviously killed himself out of remorse.

GD: Stalin said once that it was not difficult to execute a murder, but much more difficult to arrange a suicide.

RTC: Josef was a clever man.

GD: And, he said, “No man, no problem.”

RTC: That one I know. A friend and co-worker had that up over his desk. I am not joking.

GD: Oh, I believe it, Robert. It is lawful to be taught by your enemies.

RTC: I detect a critical attitude here, Gregory. You have to realize that the amount of money we were, and are, making from our drug partnerships is nothing to walk away from. Vast sums of money, Gregory, and enormous political power therefrom.

GD: I can see that, but one day they will go too far.

RTC: The Kennedy business is a classic example why nothing will ever come of this sort of thing. If you publish the ZIPPER material you already have and what I am going to give you, you will only excite the conspiracy buffs, all of whom will gather together and hiss at you and heap coals of fire on your head. Let us say that you write a newspaper article on what I just told you. It would never get published and within minutes of your submitting it to an editor, we would be notified.

GD: And then you’d shoot me?

RTC: No, trash you. Laugh at you. Get our little broken down academics to piss on you. The press would ignore you completely and eventually, you would find something else to do. Now, on the other hand, if you had been one of us and had inside knowledge and worse, proof, you would perish very quickly. The faulty brakes while driving on dangerous mountain roads, an overdose of some kind of popular drug and dead in an overheated apartment. Things like that. But as an outsider, just laughter and silence. Of course, there are those who would believe you and if you wrote about this business with the Pope and mentioned some Italian names, you might get different treatment. The bomb under the front seat of your car or something crude like that. But we wouldn’t have done it and I would recommend against stirring those people up. We would look into your tax records and turn the IRS loose on you or let your wife know you were boffing a nice waitress at a cheap local motel. Or one of your nice children would be introduced to dangerous drugs. That’s more effective than a bomb in the car or someone shooting you dead in a parking garage. The Italians tend to be very emotional, and we do not.

GD: The Italians once said that he who went softly went safely and he who went safely went far.

RTC: It would be less messy if they actually practiced that sentiment.

GD: By the way, Robert, why did you go after the other Pope? I assume that’s the one that got shot by the Arab in front of the Vatican.

RTC: Yes, but not an Arab, a Turk. They do not like to be equated with Arabs. That one? Actually, we thought that if we had him done in right in front of everybody, it would draw a lot of attention and we could really blame it on the KGB. It was a perfect set up. He was a Polack who was agitating the Solidarity people against Russia, so who would be the most logical suspect? And we had been financing the Turkish Grey Wolves for some time. They got the hit man for us. Of course, he didn’t know anything so no one shot him in the courtroom.

GD: Que bono! But for no other reason?

RTC: Isn’t that enough? Turn all the world’s Catholics against the Russians in a hurry.

GD: Let’s see here. One Pope for sure, another shot at, a dead UN chief, a dead American president, assorted deceased South American leaders, a Pakistani or two, at least one high level Indian, and so on. I would hope not all for such trivial motives.

RTC: Turning huge number of people against Russia is not a trivial motive at all.

GD: The wheel does turn, Robert, it does. And what is now at the bottom comes to the top. Out of curiosity, have you killed any Israelis?

RTC: No, they know just how far to go, and we work very closely with them. They do a lot of our dirty work for us. They blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon and, of course, we blamed it on the Arabs. It goes on, Gregory, and if you had sat in my chair and walked in my shoes, you would be a bit more understanding.

GD: This is not aimed at you, of course.

RTC: If it were, I wouldn’t be defending you to the monkeys when they jabber about you. They aren’t worth much. I think your problem is that you never were in a position of command and at a high level. If you had been, you would be less judgmental.

GD: I am just an amateur, Robert, just a dilettante. Thank God.

 

(Concluded at 11:45 CST)

 

Is This the Beginning of the End of the U.S.-Saudi Alliance?

October 11, 2018

by Zaid Jilani and Ryan Grim

The Intercept

The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi last Tuesday is threatening to upend the terms of the decades-long alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia. In the nine days since Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian resident of Virginia and a Washington Post columnist, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, politicians, media figures and foreign policy elites – even those who have fawned over the authoritarian Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — have grown increasingly critical of the U.S.-Saudi alliance.

The U.S. has long given the Saudis a blank check, politically and militarily, and there have been voices advocating for a rethinking of that decades-old relationship for nearly as long as it has lasted. But the widespread belief that the Saudis assassinated Khashoggi inside their consulate has brought those voices squarely into the center. Suddenly, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States is being called into fundamental question.

President Donald Trump initially responded to questions about Khashoggi’s disappearance by saying “I don’t like hearing about it, and hopefully that will sort itself out.”  But on Thursday, he began to sound much less confident in his defense of Saudi Arabia, the first foreign country he visited as president. He said that it was beginning to look as though Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince, was indeed murdered, but worried that jobs would be at risk if arms sales to the country were halted.

In the Senate, the kingdom is starting to lose its traditional bipartisan support, with almost every member of the Foreign Relations Committee calling on Trump to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Washington Post, meanwhile, has devoted extraordinary resources, both on the reporting and editorial side, to the case of its columnist.

Washington-based lobbying firms that do business with Saudi Arabia — particularly Hogan and Lovells, the Glover Park Group, and Brownstein — are facing a difficult decision, as pressure mounts across the board to break with the kingdom. The New York Times has withdrawn its sponsorship of an upcoming technology conference in Riyadh. Meanwhile, the Economist editor in chief Zanny Minton Beddoes and CNBC Squawbox co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin have announced they will pull out. A CNN spokesperson told Buzzfeed News they are reconsidering their sponsorship, and a spokespeople for CNBC and Fox Business told The Intercept they are “monitoring the situation.”

The shift in discourse over Saudi Arabia is palpable in the think-tank world as well.  The vice president for security at the Center for American Progress, an influential liberal think tank, called on the United States to freeze arms sales to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The United States should immediately suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia until we get answers on #JamalKhashoggi. @SenatorMenendez @SenBobCorker @SecPompeo

— Kelly Magsamen (@kellymagsamen) October 10, 2018

Magsamen, a former Bush and Obama National Security Council staffer, also warned that the affair had the potential to unify a bipartisan “anti-Saudi sentiment.” Just two years ago, the think tank was arguing for keeping the U.S.-Saudi relationship more or less the same.

Prominent right-wing columnist and Council of Foreign Relations fellow Max Boot, a long-time defender of the U.S.-Saudi alliance, warned that if the Saudis did indeed kill Khashoggi, there “must be hell to pay.”

The conversation about Khashoggi’s disappearance has been extremely muddled, with conflicting reports from Turkish and Saudi officials over what happened, but the evidence of foul play by Saudi Arabia has piled up. We now know, through reporting by the Post, that U.S. intelligence had picked up conversations between top Saudi officials discussing a plan by bin Salman to capture Khashoggi and render him back to Saudi Arabia for detention.

Turkish officials, meanwhile, while remaining anonymous, have said that a team of 15 Saudis, many of them part of bin Salman’s personal guard, traveled in two private planes to Istanbul on the day Khashoggi was scheduled to venture into the consulate, and left that same day. The professional backgrounds of the Saudis give it the clear markings of a kill or capture squad, and official Turkish sources have said that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the consulate. Surveillance video shows Khashoggi walking into the consulate, but never walking out. NBC News reported that Khashoggi checked his phone just before heading in but has not checked it since. (The Intercept has independently confirmed this claim.)

The Saudis, meanwhile, have denied any wrongdoing. Their official line is that Khashoggi left the consulate shortly after his arrival, but they have not offered surveillance footage or any other evidence to back up that assertion.

On Wednesday, Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the powerful chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Trump over Khashoggi’s disappearance. The letter instructs the administration to determine whether Khashoggi was indeed kidnapped, tortured, or murdered by the Saudi government and, as the Global Magnitsky Act requires, to respond within 120 days with a determination of sanctions against individuals who may have been responsible.

The letter was signed by the entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee, save for Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who is preparing his own push for freezing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Many of these senators have in the past been steadfast allies of the Saudis, and it is unusual for the committee to be united on an issue like this.

The Saudis will keep killing civilians and journalists as long as we keep arming and assisting them. The President should immediately halt arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia.

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 11, 2018

Corker spoke to the Saudi Ambassador Khalid Bin Salman, and was curiously told that the government cannot provide video footage of the consulate because they only have livestreaming, not recorded video. “I’ve never heard of an embassy in my life that doesn’t tape,” he said. “And so to me it feels very much like some nefarious activity has occurred by them. But I don’t want to rush to judgment.”

In an e-mail the ambassador sent to a handful of reporters on Tuesday, that The Intercept obtained, he sought to downplay fears about Khashoggi’s fate.

“I assure you that the reports that suggest that Jamal Khashoggi went missing in the Consulate in Istanbul or that the Kingdom’s authorities have detained him or killed him are absolutely false, and baseless,” he claimed. “What we do care about is Jamal’s wellbeing, and revealing the truth about what occurred. Jamal is a Saudi citizen who went missing after leaving the Consulate.”

None of that, however, passes the smell test in Washington. If Khashoggi had indeed left the consulate, there would be video or some other evidence of his having done so. The gap between that reality and the Saudi statement is so wide as to be its own insult to Washington, exacerbating rather than lessening the fury at the Kingdom for apparently assassinating a Virginia resident who is known personally by many influential figures in town.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on Tuesday said that Khashoggi’s disappearance is “personal to me,” noting that Khashoggi was a resident of his state. He called on Trump to raise his case with the Saudis and Turkey. Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents a portion of Virginia, attended a vigil outside the Washington Post on Wednesday to call attention to the case.

On the Republican side of the aisle, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio have both said there should be a strong U.S. response if Khashoggi was indeed killed.

On Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., used a portion of a D.C. speech on global authoritarian trends to demand transparency about what happened to Khashoggi and accountability if he was indeed murdered:

I would like to take a moment to note the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last Tuesday. Over the weekend, Turkish authorities told reporters that they now believe Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate, and his body disposed of elsewhere. We need to know what happened here. If this is true, if the Saudi regime murdered a journalist critic in their own consulate, there must be accountability, and there must be an unequivocal condemnation by the United States. But it seems clear that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman feels emboldened by the Trump administration’s unquestioning support.

Although Sanders did not specify what kind of accountability the United States should demand, there are a variety of levers for the Trump administration to pull if it wants to punish Saudi Arabia for the disappearance and possible murder of a U.S. resident.

The United States is currently providing material and intelligence support to the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has created a humanitarian disaster in that country. As Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution, a leading expert on Saudi affairs, has testified, “if the United States of America and the United Kingdom tonight told King Salman that this war [on Yemen] has to end, it would end tomorrow because the Royal Saudi Air force cannot operate without American & British support.”

Sanders opposes this support for Saudi Arabia, which has come from both the Obama and Trump administrations. Efforts in Congress to limit or terminate this support have so far been unsuccessful.

 

Turks tell U.S. officials they have audio and video recordings that prove journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed

October 11, 2018

by Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet, John Hudson and Anne Gearan

Washington Post

ISTANBUL-The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that it has audio and video recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul this month, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in on Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said.

The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi’s death, the officials said.

“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” said one person with knowledge of the recording who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss highly sensitive intelligence.

“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” this person said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”

A second person briefed on the recording said men could be heard beating Khashoggi.

The journalist has had long-standing ties to the Saudi royal family, but has written critically of the current government and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The existence of such evidence would explain why Turkish officials were quick to blame Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s killing. But Turkish officials are wary of releasing the recordings, fearing they could divulge how the Turks spy on foreign entities in their country, the officials said.

It’s not clear that U.S. officials have seen the footage or listened to the audio, but Turkish officials have described their contents to their American counterparts.

Saudi officials have denied any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, saying he left the consulate shortly after entering.

Turkey said Thursday it has agreed to a request by Saudi Arabia to form a joint committee to probe what happened to Khashoggi.

Mohammed has billed himself as a reformer and moderating force in the country, and he has become a key strategic partner in particular to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Kushner has tried to promote Mohammed to skeptical national security officials, who have long viewed him as an impetuous and ruthless leader who has an overly simplistic view of the complex challenges the United States faces in the Middle East.

During a bill signing Thursday in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump called Khashoggi’s suspected murder “a terrible thing,” but stopped short of assigning blame.

“We’re looking at it very strongly,” Trump said. “We’ll be having a report out soon. We’re working with Turkey, we’re working with Saudi Arabia. What happened is a terrible thing, assuming that happened. I mean, maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised, but somehow I tend to doubt it.”

Within the White House, on Capitol Hill and among U.S. intelligence officials there is a growing belief that Khashoggi is dead and that Saudi Arabia is to blame.

That conclusion is driven in part by U.S. intelligence reports before Khashoggi’s disappearance that show Mohammed ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, where he was to be detained. U.S. officials familiar with the reports described them to The Washington Post.

One U.S. official said there was no intelligence that showed the Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi to the consulate in Istanbul. Intelligence officials and experts have speculated in recent days that the 15-man Saudi security team that Turkish officials say was sent to Istanbul may have intended to capture Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia, and not to kill him.

The person who was briefed on the audio recording said it shows that after killing Khashoggi, the security team went to the home of the Saudi consul general, where staff were told to go home early. There is evidence of at least one phone call, as well, from inside the consulate, this person said.

Despite a growing demand for information about Khashoggi’s whereabouts, U.S. officials had few public answers Thursday more than a week after he went missing. The State Department said that it expects the Saudi ambassador to the United States to return from a trip home and provide information about Khashoggi’s status without delay.

“We have said to him that we expect information upon his return to the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a briefing with reporters.

She added that the United States has offered to provide law enforcement resources to Turkey, but declined to say whether investigators were on the ground there.

On Capitol Hill, some lawmakers were frustrated that the White House hadn’t disclosed more information about Khashoggi before and after he disappeared. Some lawmakers said the administration should consider curtailing sales of weapons to the kingdom.

“Arms sales are certainly going to be, I think, a huge concern if there is responsibility that is irrefutable,” Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said of any potential evidence supporting Saudi Arabia’s role in Khashoggi’s murder.

Gardner complained that the Trump administration had left senators in the dark about intelligence pointing to a Saudi role and demanded that officials give lawmakers a fuller account of what they knew of possible threats to his safety before he disappeared.

“There’s a lot of information that we don’t know that we need to get. There’s an information gap that needs to be filled promptly by the administration, by the intelligence community,” Gardner said. “The immediate question has to be, what exists. The answer to that needs to be, acting on the information that we had, what did we do with it.”

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he had seen no definitive proof of who killed Khashoggi, but “everything that I’ve seen points to the Saudis . . . We have no evidence that points anywhere but to them.”

On Wednesday, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle wrote to Trump and asked him to impose sanctions against anyone found responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, including Saudi leaders. The lawmakers invoked the Global Magnistky Act, giving the president 120 days to make a decision.

On Tuesday, Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton called Mohammed and encouraged him to be transparent about what Riyadh knows about Khashoggi, said officials familiar with the call.

U.S. officials, however, pushed back on calls to halt arms sales to Riyadh, calling such demands premature.

“I think they’re jumping to conclusions,” said Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman. “This is entirely a hypothetical situation at this point. We don’t know what happened. We don’t have the facts of the case.”

Trump also dismissed the possibility.

“They’re spending $110 billion purchasing military equipment and other things,” he said of the Saudis during a bill signing in the Oval Office. “If we don’t sell it to them, they’ll say, ‘Well, thank you very much. We’ll buy it from Russia.’ Or ‘Thank you very much. We’ll buy it from China.’ That doesn’t help us – not when it comes to jobs and not when it comes to our companies losing out on that work.”

The Washington Post’s Mekhennet reported from Istanbul. Kareem Fahim in Istanbul and Carol D. Leonnig, Karoun Demirjian, Ellen Nakashima and Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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