TBR News October 16, 2018

Oct 16 2018

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

Washington, D.C. October 16, 2018: “When an empire slips into decline, it does so in clearly identifiable stages. This is the case with the American empire at the present time.

Franklin Roosevelt pushed the US into what became the Second World War for personal reasons. (The Roosevelt family were Jewish on both sides and Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies enraged the president) and the result of this was that at its conclusion there were two dominant nations left in the rubble.

These were the United States and Russia and the struggle then began to see which would dominate.

Initially, the United States was successful, and through duplicity and threats, reduced Russia to a squabbling and disintegrating state.

But those in power in the United States also saw that Russia had enormous natural resources and so a frantic effort was made to not only subjugate Russia but also get physical control of her oil, gas and other assets.

America was initially a democracy, then a republic and finally, an oligarchy. The men who controlled the policies of this country are a handful of very rich and powerful people; bankers and the oil industry predominant.

And to secure America’s world leadership designs, small wars were fought to gain control of natural resources and establish American business interests and the American dollar as the world standards.

The British empire had achieved this goal at one point but lost everything through arrogance and carelessness and now the American empire finds itself in the same position as Britain did in 1914.

Like the British, America has fought a series of wars against small and relatively defenseless countries to gain control of their resources. As an example of this, America attacked Iraq, not because we disliked Saddam Hussein (whom we captured and subsequently executed) but to gain control of the enormous but untapped Iraqi oil reserves.

Iraq slipped through American control because of religious infighting and with that defeat, the next goal was Russia and her Arctic and Black Sea oil reserves.

The CIA, attempting to get control of Crimean offshore oil and the strategic naval base at Sevastopol, fomented riots in Kiev, shot a few people from a rooftop perch and got control of the Ukraine.

But Putin stirred up so much rebellion in the predominantly Russian Donetz Basin heavy industrial area that no one could get their hands on it and by quite legal means, got Russian control back over the very strategic Crimea.

If the CIA were only successful once, they could justify their enormous budget.”



The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 52
  • Leading U.S. senator accuses Saudi prince of ordering Khashoggi killing
  • How Beto O’Rourke Raised a Stunning $38 Million in Just Three Months
  • Khashoggi’s fate isn’t a surprise: Trump has emboldened Saudi Arabia
  • American Mercenaries Were Hired To Assassinate Politicians In The Middle East

 Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 52

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

Feb 2, 2018

“We have a very special group of people with us today. These are escapees from North Korea. There have been many of them over the last year, and there seems to be more and more.”

Source: Remarks in meeting with North Korean escapees

in fact: Trump qualified this claim with “seems to be,” but it is wildly incorrect. According to data released by South Korea’s Unification Ministry in January, the number of defectors in 2017 was the lowest since Kim Jong Un took power in 2011, the Korea Herald reported; at 1,127, it was down 21 per cent from the year prior. Analysts attributed the decline to a tightening of surveillance and border security by Kim.

  • Feb 3, 2018

“Great jobs numbers and finally, after many years, rising wages- and nobody even talks about them.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Wages have been rising since 2014. As PolitiFact reported: “For much of the time between 2012 and 2014, median weekly earnings were lower than they were in 1979 — a frustrating disappearance of any wage growth for 35 years. But that began changing in 2014. After hitting a low of $330 a week in early 2014, wages have risen to $354 a week by early 2017. That’s an increase of 7.3 percent over a roughly three-year period.” The recent acceleration of wage growth under Trump has received extensive media coverage.

Trump has repeated this claim 25 times

“This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump was not “vindicate(d)” by the Republican memo that alleged FBI wrongdoing in one part of its investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia. Even if one were to believe the memo in its entirety — even though the FBI says there are “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy” — the partisan document does not prove that there was no collusion between the campaign or the Russian government, or that Trump did not attempt to obstruct justice. At best, for Trump, it suggests that the FBI may have been misleading, by omission, when it asked a court for a warrant to conduct surveillance on a former Trump campaign adviser (Carter Page) who had already left the campaign. The investigation, now being led by special counsel Robert Mueller, is much broader. “I actually don’t think (the memo) has any impact on the Russia probe,” Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who described himself as “pretty integrally involved” in drafting the memo, told CBS two days after Trump’s tweet. He continued: “To the extent the memo deals with the dossier and the (intelligence surveillance court) process, the dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower. The dossier has nothing to do with an email sent by Cambridge Analytica. The dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos’ meeting in Great Britain. It also doesn’t have anything to do with obstruction of justice.” As Gowdy was suggesting, the question of Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government is far from “dead.” Mueller’s probe remains active; Mueller, of course, has already secured guilty pleas from two officials from Trump’s campaign, Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, for lying to the FBI about their interactions with Russians.

Feb 5, 2018

“Your taxes are going way down. And right now, for the first time in a long time — and you’ve seen it — factories are coming back. Everything is coming back.”

Source: Speech on tax reform in Blue Ash, Ohio

in fact: It is obviously an exaggeration to claim that “everything is coming back.” It is also false that this is the “first time in a long time” that “factories are coming back.” While automotive manufacturers, among others, have, under Trump, announced new plants and major investments in existing plants, they also did so under Obama. In 2015, for example, Volvo announced that it would open its first U.S. car plant, in South Carolina. “Construction has now begun on the factory site, which will be capable of producing up to 100,000 cars per year,” the company announced in 2015. GM announced in 2013 that it would invest $1.2 billion to upgrade an Indiana truck plant, while Ford announced in 2015 that it would invest $1.3 billion to upgrade a Kentucky truck plant.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“And something that I’ve been talking about for two years — campaigning, and everyone said, you’ll never do it. After years of wage stagnation, wages — you saw what happened two days ago and a month ago — wages are now, for the first time in many years, rising.”

Source: Speech on tax reform in Blue Ash, Ohio

in fact: Wages have been rising since 2014. As PolitiFact reported: “For much of the time between 2012 and 2014, median weekly earnings were lower than they were in 1979 — a frustrating disappearance of any wage growth for 35 years. But that began changing in 2014. After hitting a low of $330 a week in early 2014, wages have risen to $354 a week by early 2017. That’s an increase of 7.3 percent over a roughly three-year period.” FactCheck.org reported: “For all private workers, average weekly earnings (adjusted for inflation) rose 4% during Obama’s last four years in office.”

Trump has repeated this claim 25 times                 

“Apple announced a $350 billion investment in America…And believe me, the reason it’s happening is because of what we did.”

Source: Speech on tax reform in Blue Ash, Ohio

in fact: Apple is not investing $350 billion “because of” Trump’s tax cuts. The company’s January press release announced, rather, that a combination of new investments and spending it had already planned prior to the tax cuts would total $350 billion over five years — and it said that this pre-planned spending amounted to $55 billion for 2018. In other words, Apple was already on pace, prior to the tax cuts, to spend approximately $275 billion of the $350 billion it described in the announcement. Chief executive Tim Cook told ABC: “Let me be clear: there are large parts of this that are a result of the tax reform, and there’s large parts of this that we would have done in any situation.” Here’s the direct quote from the Apple press release: “Combining new investments and Apple’s current pace of spending with domestic suppliers and manufacturers — an estimated $55 billion for 2018 — Apple’s direct contribution to the US economy will be more than $350 billion over the next five years, not including Apple’s ongoing tax payments, the tax revenues generated from employees’ wages and the sale of Apple products.

Trump has repeated this claim 20 times

“Fiat Chrysler announced 2,500 jobs are coming back to Detroit — to Motor City. Two thousand five hundred. And do you know where they’re coming from? Mexico. No, think of it…But Chrysler, leaving Mexico, coming back to Motor City with a massive plant.”

Source: Speech on tax reform in Blue Ash, Ohio

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 Chrysler, leaving Mexico, coming back to Motor City with a massive plant. I mean, you haven’t heard that in — how many years would you say, (Republican senator) Rob (Portman)? Thirty? Twenty-five?”

Source: Speech on tax reform in Blue Ash, Ohio

in fact: Chrysler is not “leaving” Mexico; rather, it is shifting production of one truck from Mexico to an existing plant in Michigan — precisely what Ford did in 2015, less than three years prior. In that case, Ford shifted production of the Ford F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks from Mexico to an existing plant in the very state where Trump was speaking, a facility in Avon Lake, Ohio. “As part of the production shift, Ford is investing $168 million to retool the Cleveland-area plant for the new medium-duty trucks,” the company announced in 2014.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“So we’ve gone from being one of the highest-taxed countries anywhere in the world to being one of the most competitive because when our workers have a level playing field, which they didn’t have, they can compete and win against anyone in the world.”

Source: Speech on tax reform in Blue Ash, Ohio

in fact: The U.S. was not even close to the highest-taxed country in the world even before Trump’s tax cut passed. While its corporate tax rate was near the top, it was below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

“And the ones that don’t want security at the southern border or any other border, are the Democrats. They don’t care about the security of our country. They don’t care about MS-13 killers pouring into our country. And we bring them out almost as fast as they come in. But nobody was bringing them out before us. And these are killers.”

Source: Speech on tax reform in Blue Ash, Ohio

in fact: Leaving aside the claim that Democrats do not care about border security in general or the MS-13 gang in particular, it is inaccurate that “nobody was bringing them out before us.” A spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the Washington Post that ICE deported 2,057 gang members in the 2016 fiscal year, the last full fiscal year of Obama’s tenure. While ICE deported 5,962 people in the 2017 fiscal year, a hefty increase, it is clearly not true that Trump’s predecessors were not doing these deportations at all, as Trump suggested. (ICE told the Post that it did not track deportations by specific gang in either the Obama era or Trump era; it is safe to assume that a minority of the gang members deported in each year belonged to MS-13. ICE told the Post that 432 MS-13 members were arrested in fiscal 2016, 796 in fiscal 2017.)

“Our children are being decimated. You know, one drug dealer can kill thousands of people. One drug dealer. If you ever did an average — nobody has ever seen this, you’ve probably never heard this before — but if you ever did an average, a drug dealer will kill thousands of people. And we don’t even come down on these people. So it’s time to start, and that time is now. Right now.”

Source: Speech on tax reform in Blue Ash, Ohio

in fact: Stefan Kertesz, a doctor and a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who studies addiction, takes issue with the word “kill”: “Drug dealers do not typically go out to find people and force fentanyl into them. They sell to willing purchasers, many of whom have considerable tolerance to opioids,” he said in an email. Leaving that aside, Trump’s claim that each drug dealer kills “thousands” of people on average is obviously false. “While the number of overdose events that included opioids (among other substances) was high in the U.S. last year, the number of dealer arrests is quite a bit higher. So as a matter of arithemetics it probably is not the case that any single dealer has caused thousands of deaths,” Kertesz said. According to federal data crunched by the group Common Sense for Drug Policy, there were 182,048 arrests for the sale or manufacture of drugs in 2016; the U.S. government says that about 64,000 people died of drug overdoses that year. Not all of the 182,048 people arrested for sale or manufacture can be called “drug dealers,” but it is clearly not true that the typical drug dealer kills thousands of people.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“The energy costs are going down. Like, other countries, they’re going up.”

Source: Speech on tax reform in Blue Ash, Ohio

in fact: U.S. energy costs are rising. The U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration announced in September: “First half of 2017 average electricity prices are higher than last year in most areas of the country, with only six states experiencing lower prices…Some of the early 2017 increase in residential electricity prices can be attributed to the rising costs of fuels used for generating power. For example, the cost of natural gas delivered to U.S. electric generators during the first half of 2017 averaged $3.53 per million British thermal units. This cost was 37% higher than in the first half of 2016…”

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times


“The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This mischaracterizes the health-care march in London. The marchers did not argue that the British system, which is widely popular in the U.K., was “going broke”; they argued that it was being underfunded by austerity measures imposed by the Conservative government. (One paragraph in The Guardian read: “Ralf Little, the actor who has challenged health secretary Jeremy Hunt to a public debate on the health service, was cheered when he told the crowd that the NHS was the envy of the world. He had previously told how his mother was saved by NHS treatment for free when she suffered a stroke. Little said the quality of the NHS was threatened by underfunding. ‘It’s a political choice to leave patients sleeping in corridors,’ he said.”) Trump was suggesting that the British marchers were marching to oppose the system while they were actually marching to protect it.


Leading U.S. senator accuses Saudi prince of ordering Khashoggi killing

October 16, 2018

by Doina Chiacu


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican close to President Donald Trump, on Tuesday accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of ordering the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and called him a “rogue crown prince” who is jeopardizing relations with the United States.

Many members of the U.S. Congress, which has long had a testy relationship with ally Saudi Arabia, have issued strong criticism of the kingdom since Khashoggi’s disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Graham put the blame directly on the crown prince, who is known by his initials, MbS, and said he planned to share his views with the president and advocate suspending arms sales.

“Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MbS knowing it,” he said in an interview with Fox News.

“I’ve been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate,” Graham said. “This guy is a wrecking ball. He had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey and to expect me to ignore it. I feel used and abused,” Graham said.

“The MbS figure is to me toxic. He can never be a world leader on the world stage.”

Saudi Arabia denies that it had any role in Khashoggi’s disappearance. But last week, 22 senators triggered a U.S. investigation of whether human rights sanctions should be imposed over the disappearance.

Trump has taken a less aggressive stance toward the Saudis, suggesting on Monday after speaking with Saudi King Salman that perhaps “rogue killers” were behind the disappearance of Khashoggi, a sharp critic of the crown prince.

“Well this is not rogue killers, this is a rogue crown prince,” Graham said in a separate interview with Fox News Radio. “I would suspend arms sales as long as he is in charge.” He said that while King Salman is revered in Saudi Arabia, the crown prince “is pulling the levers there.”

Graham said he did not know what Trump was going to do about the Khashoggi incident.

“I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia,” Graham said.

He questioned why the crown prince would put Saudi Arabia’s strong backers, especially Trump, in a bad spot and said, “This guy’s gotta go.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met the Saudi king and crown prince on Tuesday to discuss the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Alistair Bell


How Beto O’Rourke Raised a Stunning $38 Million in Just Three Months

October 16, 2018

by Michael Whitney

The Intercept

Calling Beto O’Rourke’s $38 million dollar fundraising quarter a “record” doesn’t quite do that total justice: O’Rourke, who is challenging Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, raised 30 percent more from July to October of this year than Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has raised in all six years of his re-election campaign, and more than Jeb Bush raised for the entirety of his 2016 presidential run.

Within hours of O’Rourke’s campaign announcing his fundraising totals, anonymous Democratic operatives complained to the New York Times about how useful that money could be elsewhere, given recent polls that show him down by 8 points or more to Cruz. O’Rourke’s money, they suggested, would be more valuable to other Democrats in critical Senate races in Arizona, Missouri, Nevada, or Tennessee.

It was a familiar response from establishment figures to an insurgent, progressive Democrat posting huge fundraising numbers: incredulity at how much grassroots donors contributed; skepticism that progressives can win; and a hunger to divert that money to centrist candidates who can’t raise grassroots money themselves.

How’s O’Rourke Raising All That Money?

While raising $38 million in three months is an impressive feat for any candidate, what’s more interesting is how O’Rourke did it: almost entirely online, from hundreds of thousands of people donating small amounts of money, while explicitly turning down money from political action committees. His campaign also actively discourages Super PACs from intervening on his behalf.

This most recent fundraising report saw 44 percent of O’Rourke’s money come from donors giving less than $200 in total, colloquially known as “small-dollar” money. In total, 42 percent of all the money raised by his campaign now comes from small donors. But even that number is a bit misleading because many of the people who gave more than that — and thus, are not counted as small donors — have done so in small increments, their enthusiasm eventually popping through that arbitrary $200 line. His average contribution this quarter was around $47.

O’Rourke’s reliance on grassroots donors further distinguishes his campaign from most congressional races, which by and large rely on a smaller number of donors contributing large amounts of money — even among members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, most of whom still take corporate PAC contributions. This gives him a big advantage over big money: Very few of his donors have given the legal maximum, meaning that he can — and, according to the new figures, does — go back to those donors again and again asking for more contributions.

Reliance on big donors is a problem that politicians have faced for decades — even for those who want to buck big money. As John Nichols and Robert McChesney recounted in their book “Dollarocracy,” Idaho Sen. Frank Church, a populist campaign finance advocate, wrote in a 1962 New York Times op-ed, “I couldn’t begin to finance my campaign on the offerings of small contributors.”

He was correct, at the time. While Republican operatives like Karl Rove began to find success for party committees in direct mail fundraising in the late 1970s, it was a slow, expensive prospect for candidates to raise money in small amounts up until this century, when digital fundraising allowed small-dollar fundraising to happen at scale.

From the outset of his campaign, O’Rourke made a conscious effort to invest in a digital fundraising operation, knowing that it would be nearly impossible to convince traditional big-money donors to help a Democrat win a Senate race in Texas. In this way, he followed the model of successful small-dollar fundraisers like Howard Dean, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

He hired the digital fundraising firm that ran Sanders’s operation (I was involved in both), and followed the email and advertising staff to their new agency.

O’Rourke has now spent at least $12 million on his digital program, or around 30 percent of all his campaign spending — a huge sum compared to other campaigns, particularly on the Democratic side. The vast majority of that money likely went toward digital advertisements, many of which are designed to grow his email list and get supporters to become donors, but also double as ads that people see (though many of those may be out of state). According to Google’s political advertising transparency report, no other candidate on the ballot this year is spending more money on Google’s platform than O’Rourke. And Facebook’s political advertising tool shows more than 5,300 ad variations run by his campaign.

Empowering Through Authenticity

It might be easy to mistake donor enthusiasm for O’Rourke’s campaign for the Democratic base’s dislike of Ted Cruz. And, to be sure, every donor to O’Rourke knows without him saying so that his opponent is Cruz, a fundraising advantage that isn’t exactly scalable. Asked by The Intercept during a SXSW interview whether it helps to have Cruz as a foil, he said: “It doesn’t hurt.”

But in his campaign’s fundraising appeals, you won’t see attacks on his opponent. The content of virtually every communication is about helping O’Rourke win, not defeating Cruz. In the tweet and video announcing his most recent fundraising totals, he addressed supporters directly: “You just raised a record-breaking $38.1 million.” This is a subtle but significant part of O’Rourke’s approach to fundraising language, in which he speaks with his supporters, not at them. O’Rourke didn’t raise the money, you did.

His rejection, however, of PACs and corporations is highly significant here. By actively shunning big money, he puts the onus of fundraising on his supporters. There won’t be any calvary of big donors coming to the campaign’s rescue: If O’Rourke is going to win, it will be because of his supporters alone.

Shunning PACs in favor of individuals allows his campaign to practice fundraising jiu jitsu. When Cruz released his first attack ads, O’Rourke’s campaign responded by challenging supporters to raise a matching amount of $1 million to counter the ads — breaking that goal by pulling in $1.2 million over a single weekend.

“Here’s how we fight back: Every time Ted Cruz and the Super PACs behind him launch negative attacks on Beto, we will make them pay by raising more money online and signing up more volunteers than ever before,” the campaign wrote in an email announcing the $1 million goal. “We’re going to keep this campaign positive, and in doing so we’ll send an unmistakable message about the way campaigns should be run.”

It was a familiar tactic for a small-dollar-driven campaign, harkening back to Howard Dean challenging his 2004 presidential campaign’s supporters to match the amount of money Vice President Dick Cheney raised at a luncheon fundraiser for George W. Bush, while Dean sat at a computer eating a sandwich, watching his own money come in online.

Centrist Vultures Circling

Donors give for a variety of reasons, but a reliable way to spark donations is by making an emotional connection and showing why someone’s contribution — of time, energy, or money — will make a difference.

The emotion that O’Rourke banks on is one of hope and movement building. It’s a stark contrast to the desperate, frenetic tactics of Jon Ossoff’s digital fundraising in his failed special election bid last year, despite raising more than $30 million, with nearly two-thirds coming from small-dollar donations. Ossoff followed in the tradition of fundraising emails as debt collection notices, producing a whiplash effect that alternatively shamed and lifted up potential donors multiple times a day.

O’Rourke’s supporter-centric messaging is a distinction lost on establishment Democrats who wonder why donors are flooding Texas with small-dollar cash instead of centrist Senate candidates like Claire McCaskill, Phil Bredesen, and Kyrsten Sinema, all of whom rely on big money for nearly three-quarters of their fundraising.

The act of donating is not generally a calculated one for grassroots supporters. Very few people sit down with their credit card, look at polling averages and turnout models, and then make donations to candidates based on the likely impact their contribution could have at winning the race.

So instead of putting in the work themselves, Democratic groups are hoping to ride O’Rourke’s campaign coattails. House Majority PAC, a Democratic PAC that looks solely to elect Democrats to the House of Representatives, sent a fundraising email last week with O’Rourke’s name plastered all over — with the fine print saying the money would support “candidates like” O’Rourke, with none of the money going to the Texas Senate race.

Brady PAC, a Super PAC linked to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, used O’Rourke to raise money, though the link sends the cash directly to Brady PAC, the kind of organization O’Rourke has discouraged from getting involved.

Even Michael Avenatti got in on the action, tweeting a link to a fundraising page asking people to support O’Rourke — while diverting half of the funds on that page to his own PAC.

Turning Money Into a Movement

O’Rourke’s secret weapon if he hopes to win a Senate seat in November will be a massive, volunteer-led organizing effort powered by volunteers, donors, and supporters.

The critical difference for O’Rourke is that his campaign does not limit a supporter’s input to the act of making a financial contribution. Where Ossoff treated people as ATMs, O’Rourke is converting donors into volunteers to turn out voters.

O’Rourke’s field operation is unlike any ever seen outside a presidential campaign. In an act of radical campaign transparency, O’Rourke’s campaign published its entire organizing plan online, showing every supporter — and everyone on Ted Cruz’s side — the exact plan, goals, and methods for how O’Rourke can win. The campaign’s precinct-by-precinct goals are updated in real time on his campaign’s website.

His campaign only has 10 official field offices across the entire state of Texas, which ordinarily might never be enough to organize the votes he needs to win. Instead, the campaign asked supporters to set up “pop-up” campaign offices, of which there are currently 862 across the state, each staffed by “super volunteers” who can ask the campaign for support as needed. These small, volunteer-run offices in garages, offices, and homes are official intake points for anyone who wants to knock on doors or make phone calls to turn out voters.

Turning Money Into a Movement

O’Rourke’s secret weapon if he hopes to win a Senate seat in November will be a massive, volunteer-led organizing effort powered by volunteers, donors, and supporters.

The critical difference for O’Rourke is that his campaign does not limit a supporter’s input to the act of making a financial contribution. Where Ossoff treated people as ATMs, O’Rourke is converting donors into volunteers to turn out voters.

O’Rourke’s field operation is unlike any ever seen outside a presidential campaign. In an act of radical campaign transparency, O’Rourke’s campaign published its entire organizing plan online, showing every supporter — and everyone on Ted Cruz’s side — the exact plan, goals, and methods for how O’Rourke can win. The campaign’s precinct-by-precinct goals are updated in real time on his campaign’s website.

His campaign only has 10 official field offices across the entire state of Texas, which ordinarily might never be enough to organize the votes he needs to win. Instead, the campaign asked supporters to set up “pop-up” campaign offices, of which there are currently 862 across the state, each staffed by “super volunteers” who can ask the campaign for support as needed. These small, volunteer-run offices in garages, offices, and homes are official intake points for anyone who wants to knock on doors or make phone calls to turn out voters.


Khashoggi’s fate isn’t a surprise: Trump has emboldened Saudi Arabia

Trump had aligned US foreign policy with Saudi Arabia’s vision of the Middle East. This has unleashed a dangerous recklessness from the gulf state

October 16, 2018

by Mohamad Bazzi

The Guardian

On 11 October, nine days after the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after visiting Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Donald Trump made a remarkable statement about his foreign policy priorities. At an impromptu press conference, the president was asked whether he would cancel arms sales to the kingdom if its leaders were implicated in Khashoggi’s likely murder. He responded that punishing Saudi leaders would cost the US money and jobs: “We don’t like it even a little bit. But whether or not we should stop $110bn from being spent in this country … That would not be acceptable to me.”

It was a clarifying moment for US foreign policy under Trump. For decades, successive US administrations pursued a similar path in the Middle East: security, military and diplomatic cooperation with repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, at the expense of promoting human rights and democracy. But several former presidents, including George W Bush and Barack Obama, obscured that reality with lofty rhetoric about respecting human rights. Trump dropped that pretense, and made clear that his primary interest would be America’s short-term economic and security concerns.

But by abandoning the veneer of US concern about political reforms and protecting dissidents, Trump also emboldened the region’s autocrats to become even more reckless and brutal. Since he took office in 2017, Trump signaled to Saudi Arabia’s leaders, especially King Salman and his son, the ambitious and ruthless 33-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, that they can get away with anything – as long as they help keep global oil prices stable and continue buying US weapons.

With Trump’s green light, the young prince and his advisers intensified a series of destructive policies: Saudi Arabia continued a brutal war in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands of civilians; the kingdom imposed a blockade against its smaller neighbor, Qatar; the prince detained and forced Lebanon’s prime minister to resign; and he ordered the arrest of hundreds of Saudi activists and business leaders. Without any consequences for these actions, is it any surprise that Saudi Arabia expected to get away with the alleged abduction and murder of Khashoggi, who wrote columns for the Washington Post critical of the crown prince?

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump often criticized Saudi Arabia for its human rights abuses and supporting religious extremism. He even accused the kingdom of being behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals and members of al-Qaida, but the 9/11 commission report found no evidence that the Saudi government or its senior officials had funded the group.) Trump’s rhetoric changed as soon as he took office, partly because of a budding friendship between Bin Salman and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Saudi Arabia’s seduction of Trump reached a crescendo in May 2017, when he chose Riyadh as the first stop of his maiden foreign trip as president. Bin Salman and his inner circle realized that Trump craved respect and flattery, so they gave him an extravagant welcome. The streets of Riyadh were lined with billboards of the US president and Saudi king; Trump and his entourage were feted at multiple banquets with ostentatious displays of wealth and Salman presented Trump with the kingdom’s highest civilian honor, a large gold medallion. In the end, the Saudis persuaded Trump that he had earned greater deference than his predecessor, Obama.

Trump also used his trip to hype up a package of arms sales to Saudi Arabia that would total about $110bn over 10 years. But Trump has consistently inflated his administration’s role in selling US weapons to the kingdom; much of the military equipment that the Saudis planned to buy had already been approved by the Obama administration. And the Saudis have not closed any major new arms deal under Trump.

By the end of his visit, it was clear that Trump had aligned US foreign policy with Saudi Arabia’s vision of the Middle East, which portrayed its rival Iran as the greatest threat. And that unleashed Bin Salman to carry out even more destruction. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia and its allies, especially the United Arab Emirates, continued a brutal bombing campaign and naval and air blockade launched in March 2015 to dislodge Houthi rebels from the country’s most populous areas.

The Saudi-led war in Yemen triggered a humanitarian catastrophe, which by some estimates has killed nearly 50,000 people. More than 8 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine, and 1.1 million are infected with cholera. Several United Nations investigations found both the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition responsible for war crimes, but the Saudis and their allies have caused far more civilian deaths with air strikes. And the US is likely culpable for these war crimes because it provides the Saudis and Emiratis with missiles and bombs, intelligence assistance in identifying targets and mid-air refueling for warplanes.

As the Yemen war drags on, more members of Congress are asking why the US is so deeply involved in this conflict. Last year, the Senate narrowly approved the Trump administration’s sale of over $500m in laser-guided bombs and missiles to the Saudi military. Since Khashoggi disappeared on 2 October, many in Congress – and in Washington’s foreign policy establishment – have turned against Saudi Arabia and especially its crown prince.

Even if Trump maintains his unwavering support and his cynical calculation that a single dissident’s life is not worth billions of dollars in weapons sales, Congress could still punish the Saudis for Khashoggi’s apparent death by rejecting future arms deals, and limiting US military involvement in the Yemen war. In the end, Bin Salman could pay more dearly for the life of one critical journalist than for all of Saudi Arabia’s other destructive actions.


American Mercenaries Were Hired To Assassinate Politicians In The Middle East

There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen. I was running it. We did it.”

October 16, 2018

by Aram Roston

Buzz Feed

Cradling an AK-47 and sucking a lollipop, the former American Green Beret bumped along in the back of an armored SUV as it wound through the darkened streets of Aden. Two other commandos on the mission were former Navy SEALs. As elite US special operations fighters, they had years of specialized training by the US military to protect America. But now they were working for a different master: a private US company that had been hired by the United Arab Emirates, a tiny desert monarchy on the Persian Gulf.

On that night, December 29, 2015, their job was to carry out an assassination.

Their armed attack, described to BuzzFeed News by two of its participants and corroborated by drone surveillance footage, was the first operation in a startling for-profit venture. For months in war-torn Yemen, some of America’s most highly trained soldiers worked on a mercenary mission of murky legality to kill prominent clerics and Islamist political figures.

Their target that night: Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah. The UAE considers Al-Islah to be the Yemeni branch of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE calls a terrorist organization. Many experts insist that Al-Islah, one of whose members won the Nobel Peace Prize, is no terror group. They say it’s a legitimate political party that threatens the UAE not through violence but by speaking out against its ambitions in Yemen.

The mercenaries’ plan was to attach a bomb laced with shrapnel to the door of Al-Islah’s headquarters, located near a soccer stadium in central Aden, a key Yemeni port city. The explosion, one of the leaders of the expedition explained, was supposed to “kill everybody in that office

When they arrived at 9:57 at night, all seemed quiet. The men crept out of the SUV, guns at the ready. One carried the explosive charge toward the building. But just as he was about to reach the door, another member of the team opened fire, shooting back along the dimly lit street, and their carefully designed plan went haywire.

The operation against Mayo — which was reported at the time but until now was not known to have been carried out by American mercenaries — marked a pivot point in the war in Yemen, a brutal conflict that has seen children starved, villages bombed, and epidemics of cholera roll through the civilian population. The bombing was the first salvo in a string of unsolved assassinations that killed more than two dozen of the group’s leaders.

The company that hired the soldiers and carried out the attack is Spear Operations Group, incorporated in Delaware and founded by Abraham Golan, a charismatic Hungarian Israeli security contractor who lives outside of Pittsburgh. He led the team’s strike against Mayo.

“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”

The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead an alliance of nine countries in Yemen, fighting what is largely a proxy war against Iran. The US is helping the Saudi-UAE side by providing weapons, intelligence, and other support.

The press office of the UAE’s US Embassy, as well as its US public affairs company, Harbour Group, did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails.

The revelations that a Middle East monarchy hired Americans to carry out assassinations comes at a moment when the world is focused on the alleged murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, an autocratic regime that has close ties to both the US and the UAE. (The Saudi Embassy in the US did not respond to a request for comment. Riyadh has denied it killed Khashoggi, though news reports suggest it is considering blaming his death on a botched interrogation.)

Golan said that during his company’s months-long engagement in Yemen, his team was responsible for a number of the war’s high-profile assassinations, though he declined to specify which ones. He argued that the US needs an assassination program similar to the model he deployed. “I just want there to be a debate,” he said. “Maybe I’m a monster. Maybe I should be in jail. Maybe I’m a bad guy. But I’m right.”

Spear Operations Group’s private assassination mission marks the confluence of three developments transforming the way war is conducted worldwide:

  • Modern counterterrorism combat has shifted away from traditional military objectives — such as destroying airfields, gun emplacements, or barracks — to killing specific individuals, largely reshaping war into organized assassinations.
  • War has become increasingly privatized, with many nations outsourcing most military support services to private contractors, leaving frontline combat as virtually the only function that the US and many other militaries have not contracted out to for-profit ventures.
  • The long US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have relied heavily on elite Special Forces, producing tens of thousands of highly trained American commandos who can demand high private-sector salaries for defense contracting or outright mercenary work.

With Spear Operations Group’s mission in Yemen, these trends converged into a new and incendiary business: militarized contract killing, carried out by skilled American fighters.

Experts said it is almost inconceivable that the United States would not have known that the UAE — whose military the US has trained and armed at virtually every level — had hired an American company staffed by American veterans to conduct an assassination program in a war it closely monitors.

One of the mercenaries, according to three sources familiar with the operation, used to work with the CIA’s “ground branch,” the agency’s equivalent of the military’s Special Forces. Another was a Special Forces sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard. And yet another, according to four people who knew him, was still in the Navy Reserve as a SEAL and had a top-secret clearance. He was a veteran of SEAL Team 6, or DEVGRU, the sources told BuzzFeed News. The New York Times once described that elite unit, famous for killing Osama bin Laden, as a “global manhunting machine with limited outside oversight.”

The CIA said it had no information about the mercenary assassination program, and the Navy’s Special Warfare Command declined to comment. A former CIA official who has worked in the UAE initially told BuzzFeed News there was no way that Americans would be allowed to participate in such a program. But after checking, he called back: “There were guys that were basically doing what you said.” He was astonished, he said, by what he learned: “What vetting procedures are there to make sure the guy you just smoked is really a bad guy?” The mercenaries, he said, were “almost like a murder squad.”

Whether Spear’s mercenary operation violates US law is surprisingly unclear. On the one hand, US law makes it illegal to “conspire to kill, kidnap, maim” someone in another country. Companies that provide military services to foreign nations are supposed to be regulated by the State Department, which says it has never granted any company the authority to supply combat troops or mercenaries to another country.

Yet, as BuzzFeed News has previously reported, the US doesn’t ban mercenaries. And with some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to serve in foreign militaries, whether one is motivated by idealism or money. With no legal consequences, Americans have served in the Israel Defense Forces, the French Foreign Legion, and even a militia fighting ISIS in Syria. Spear Operations Group, according to three sources, arranged for the UAE to give military rank to the Americans involved in the mission, which might provide them legal cover.

Despite operating in a legal and political gray zone, Golan heralds his brand of targeted assassinations as a precision counterterrorism strategy with fewer civilian casualties. But the Mayo operation shows that this new form of warfare carries many of the same old problems. The commandos’ plans went awry, and the intelligence proved flawed. And their strike was far from surgical: The explosive they attached to the door was designed to kill not one person but everyone in the office.

Aside from moral objections, for-profit targeted assassinations add new dilemmas to modern warfare. Private mercenaries operate outside the US military’s chain of command, so if they make mistakes or commit war crimes, there is no clear system for holding them accountable. If the mercenaries had killed a civilian in the street, who would have even investigated?

The Mayo mission exposes an even more central problem: the choice of targets. Golan insists that he killed only terrorists identified by the government of the UAE, an ally of the US. But who is a terrorist and who is a politician? What is a new form of warfare and what is just old-fashioned murder for hire? Who has the right to choose who lives and who dies — not only in the wars of a secretive monarchy like the UAE, but also those of a democracy such as the US?

BuzzFeed News has pieced together the inside story of the company’s attack on Al-Islah’s headquarters, revealing what mercenary warfare looks like now — and what it could become.

The deal that brought American mercenaries to the streets of Aden was hashed out over a lunch in Abu Dhabi, at an Italian restaurant in the officers’ club of a UAE military base. Golan and a chiseled former US Navy SEAL named Isaac Gilmore had flown in from the US to make their pitch. It did not, as Gilmore recalled, begin well.

Their host was Mohammed Dahlan, the fearsome former security chief for the Palestinian Authority. In a well-tailored suit, he eyed his mercenary guests coldly and told Golan that in another context they’d be trying to kill each other.

Indeed, they made an unlikely pair. Golan, who says he was born in Hungary to Jewish parents, maintains long-standing connections in Israel for his security business, according to several sources, and he says he lived there for several years. Golan once partied in London with former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, according to a 2008 Mother Jones article, and his specialty was “providing security for energy clients in Africa.” One of his contracts, according to three sources, was to protect ships drilling in Nigeria’s offshore oil fields from sabotage and terrorism.

Golan, who sports a full beard and smokes Marlboro Red cigarettes, radiates enthusiasm. A good salesman is how one former CIA official described him. Golan himself, who is well-read and often cites philosophers and novelists, quotes André Malraux: “Man is not what he thinks he is but what he hides.”

Golan says he was educated in France, joined the French Foreign Legion, and has traveled around the world, often fighting or carrying out security contracts. In Belgrade, he says, he got to know the infamous paramilitary fighter and gangster Željko Ražnatović, better known as Arkan, who was assassinated in 2001. “I have a lot of respect for Arkan,” he told BuzzFeed News.

BuzzFeed News was unable to verify parts of Golan’s biography, including his military service, but Gilmore and another US special operations veteran who has been with him in the field said it’s clear he has soldiering experience. He is considered competent, ruthless, and calculating, said the former CIA official. He’s “prone to exaggeration,” said another former CIA officer, but “for crazy shit he’s the kind of guy you hire.”

Dahlan, who did not respond to multiple messages sent through associates, grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza, and during the 1980s intifada he became a major political player. In the ’90s he was named the Palestinian Authority’s head of security in Gaza, overseeing a harsh crackdown on Hamas in 1995 and 1996. He later met President George W. Bush and developed strong ties to the CIA, meeting the agency’s director, George Tenet, several times. Dahlan was once touted as a possible leader of the Palestinian Authority, but in 2007 he fell from grace, accused by the Palestinian Authority of corruption and by Hamas of cooperating with the CIA and Israel.

A man without a country, he fled to the UAE. There he reportedly remade himself as a key adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, or MBZ, known as the true ruler of Abu Dhabi. The former CIA officer who knows Dahlan said, “The UAE took him in as their pit bull.”

Now, over lunch in the officers’ club, the pit bull challenged his visitors to tell him what was so special about fighters from America. Why were they any better than Emirati soldiers?

Golan replied with bravado. Wanting Dahlan to know that he could shoot, train, run, and fight better than anyone in the UAE’s military, Golan said: Give me your best man and I’ll beat him. Anyone.

The Palestinian gestured to an attentive young female aide sitting nearby. She’s my best man, Dahlan said.

The joke released the tension, and the men settled down. Get the spaghetti, recommended Dahlan.

The UAE, with vast wealth but only about 1 million citizens, relies on migrant workers from all over the world to do everything from cleaning its toilets to teaching its university students. Its military is no different, paying lavish sums to eager US defense companies and former generals. The US Department of Defense has approved at least $27 billion in arms sales and defense services to the UAE since 2009.

Retired US Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal once signed up to sit on the board of a UAE military company. Former Navy SEAL and Vice Admiral Robert Harward runs the UAE division of Lockheed Martin. The security executive Erik Prince, now entangled in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, set up shop there for a time, helping the UAE hire Colombian mercenaries.

And as BuzzFeed News reported earlier this year, the country embeds foreigners in its military and gave the rank of major general to an American lieutenant colonel, Stephen Toumajan, placing him in command of a branch of its armed forces.

The UAE is hardly alone in using defense contractors; in fact, it is the US that helped pioneer the worldwide move toward privatizing the military. The Pentagon pays companies to carry out many traditional functions, from feeding soldiers to maintaining weapons to guarding convoys.

The US draws the line at combat; it does not hire mercenaries to carry out attacks or engage directly in warfare. But that line can get blurry. Private firms provide heavily armed security details to protect diplomats in war zones or intelligence officers in the field. Such contractors can engage in firefights, as they did in Benghazi, Libya, when two contractors died in 2012 defending a CIA post. But, officially, the mission was protection, not warfare.

Outside the US, hiring mercenaries to conduct combat missions is rare, though it has happened. In Nigeria, a strike force reportedly led by longtime South African mercenary Eeben Barlow moved successfully against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in 2015. A company Barlow founded, Executive Outcomes, was credited with crushing the bloody RUF rebel force in war-torn Sierra Leone in the 1990s.

But over spaghetti with Dahlan, Golan and Gilmore were offering an extraordinary form of mercenary service. This was not providing security details, nor was it even traditional military fighting or counterinsurgency warfare. It was, both Golan and Gilmore say, targeted killing.

Gilmore said he doesn’t remember anyone using the word “assassinations” specifically. But it was clear from that first meeting, he said, that this was not about capturing or detaining Al-Islah’s leadership. “It was very specific that we were targeting,” said Gilmore. Golan said he was explicitly told to help “disrupt and destruct” Al-Islah, which he calls a “political branch of a terrorist organization.”

He and Gilmore promised they could pull together a team with the right skillset, and quickly.

In the weeks after that lunch, they settled on terms. The team would receive $1.5 million a month, Golan and Gilmore told BuzzFeed News. They’d earn bonuses for successful kills — Golan and Gilmore declined to say how much — but they would carry out their first operation at half price to prove what they could do. Later, Spear would also train UAE soldiers in commando tactics.

Golan and Gilmore had another condition: They wanted to be incorporated into the UAE Armed Forces. And they wanted their weapons — and their target list — to come from uniformed military officers. That was “for juridical reasons,” Golan said. “Because if the shit hits the fan,” he explained, the UAE uniform and dog tags would mark “the difference between a mercenary and a military man.”

Dahlan and the UAE government signed off on the deal, Golan and Gilmore said, and Spear Operations Group got to work.

Back in the US, Golan and Gilmore started rounding up ex-soldiers for the first, proof-of-concept job. Spear Operations Group is a small company — nothing like the security behemoths such as Garda World Security or Constellis — but it had a huge supply of talent to choose from.

A little-known consequence of the war on terror, and in particular the 17 combined years of US warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, is that the number of special operations forces has more than doubled since 9/11, from 33,000 to 70,000. That’s a vast pool of crack soldiers selected, trained, and combat-tested by the most elite units of the US military, such as the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers. Some special operations reservists are known to engage in for-profit soldiering, said a high-level SEAL officer who asked not to be named. “I know a number of them who do this sort of thing,” he said. If the soldiers are not on active duty, he added, they are not obligated to report what they’re doing.

But the options for special operations veterans and reservists aren’t what they were in the early years of the Iraq War. Private security work, mostly protecting US government officials in hostile environments, lacks the excitement of actual combat and is more “like driving Miss Daisy with an M4” rifle, as one former contractor put it. It also doesn’t pay what it used to. While starting rates for elite veterans on high-end security jobs used to be $700 or $800 a day, contractors said, now those rates have dropped to about $500 a day. Golan and Gilmore said they were offering their American fighters $25,000 a month — about $830 a day — plus bonuses, a generous sum in almost any market.

Still, the Yemen gig crossed into uncharted territory, and some of the best soldiers declined. “It was still gray enough,” Gilmore said, “that a lot of guys were like, ‘Ah, I’m good.’ ”

Gilmore himself said he has an imperfect record. During a live-fire training mission he led, back in his Navy days, he says he accidentally shot another SEAL. Gilmore said that’s what prompted him to leave the Navy, in 2011. His last major job before joining Spear was as an executive at an artisanal Tequila company.

That stain on his military career, he said, is also what prompted him to take the risk with Spear: He was an outsider, he wasn’t in the reserves, and he didn’t have a pension to worry about.

By the end of 2015, Golan, who led the operation, and Gilmore had cobbled together a team of a dozen men. Three were American special ops veterans, and most of the rest were former French Foreign Legionnaires, who were cheaper: only about $10,000 per month, as Gilmore remembers it, less than half of what he and Golan said they budgeted for their American counterparts.

They gathered at a hotel near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. They were dressed in an assortment of military fatigues, some in camouflage, some in black. Some were bearded and muscled, others tattooed and wiry.

When it was time to go, they convinced the hotel staff to give them the US flag flying outside, Gilmore said. In a makeshift ceremony, they folded it up into a small triangle and took it with them.

They also packed a few weeks’ worth of military “meals ready to eat,” body armor, communications gear, and medical equipment. Gilmore said he brought a utility knife with a special crimping tool to prepare the blasting caps on explosives. The team was sure to stock up on whiskey, too — three cases of Basil Hayden’s since it would be impossible to get any alcohol in Yemen, let alone the good stuff.

On December 15, they boarded a chartered Gulfstream G550. Once airborne, Gilmore walked to the cockpit and told the pilots that there was a slight change to their flight plan. After refueling in Scotland, they wouldn’t be flying to Abu Dhabi’s main commercial airport but to a UAE military base in the desert.

From that base, the mercenaries took a UAE Air Force transport plane to another base in Assab, Eritrea. During that flight, Gilmore recalled, a uniformed Emirati officer briefed them and handed them a hit list — 23 cards with 23 names and 23 faces. Each card featured rudimentary intelligence: the person’s role in Yemeni politics, for example, or grid coordinates for a residence or two.

Gilmore said some were members of Al-Islah, some were clerics, and some were out-and-out terrorists — but he conceded he couldn’t be sure.

BuzzFeed News has obtained one of the target cards. On it is a man’s name, photograph, telephone number, and other information. At the top right is the insignia of the UAE Presidential Guard.

Conspicuously absent is why anyone wanted him dead, or even what group he was associated with. The man could not be reached for comment, and it is not known if he is alive or dead.

Assassinations have historically played a limited part in US warfare and foreign policy. In 1945, “Wild Bill” Donovan, the director of the CIA’s predecessor agency, the OSS, was handed a finalized plan to deploy kill teams across Europe to attack Nazi leaders such as Hitler, Himmler, and Goering, as well as SS officers with a rank of major or above, according to a biography of Donovan by Douglas Waller. But the OSS chief got queasy about the “wholesale assassination” project and canceled it.

During the Cold War, the CIA played a role in plots to assassinate foreign leaders, such as Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, and Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. Later in the Vietnam War, the US launched the Phoenix program, in which the CIA often teamed up with US military units to “neutralize” — or, critics say, assassinate — Viet Cong leaders. Even so, targeted killings were not a central pillar of US military strategy in Vietnam. And after Congress exposed CIA activities in the 1970s, the US banned assassinations of foreign leaders.

Then came the war on terror.

Under President George W. Bush, the CIA and the military used drones to kill terrorists, and the CIA developed covert assassination capabilities. President Barack Obama halted the agency’s secret assassination program but drastically ramped up the use of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Soon the CIA and the military were using the aircraft — piloted remotely using video monitors — to kill people whose names the US didn’t even know, through “signature strikes” based solely on a target’s associations and activities. President Donald Trump has further loosened the rules for drone strikes.

But while private contractors often maintain the drones and sometimes even pilot them, there is one action they reportedly cannot take: Only a uniformed officer can push the button that fires the drone’s missile and kills the target.

With organized assassinations having become a routine part of war in the region, the UAE developed its own appetite. The country had begun to flex more military muscle, and by 2015 it had become a major player in the war in Yemen. It quickly targeted Al-Islah, an Islamist political party that won more than 20% of the vote in Yemen’s most recent parliamentary election, held in 2003.

Elisabeth Kendall, an expert on Yemen at the University of Oxford, points out that unlike al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups, which try to seize power through violence, Al-Islah participates in the political process. But, she said, the US rationale for drone strikes has legitimized other countries’ pursuit of their own assassinations: “The whole very watery, vague notion of a war on terror has left the door wide open to any regime saying, ‘This is all a war on terror.’ ”

At the top of the deck of targets they got from the UAE, Gilmore and Golan said, was Mayo, Al-Islah’s leader in Aden. Mayo had close-cropped hair, wire-rimmed glasses, and a wisp of goatee to go with his mustache. He had spoken out against US drone strikes in Yemen, telling the Washington Post in 2012 that rather than stopping al-Qaeda they had instead fueled its growth.

Asked about the ethics and legality of killing unarmed Al-Islah political leaders, as opposed to armed terrorists, Golan responded, “I think this dichotomy is a purely intellectual dichotomy.”

Golan said he models his assassination business on Israel’s targeted killing program, which has been underway since the country was founded, and which, despite some high-profile errors and embarrassments, he claims is done properly. He argues there are some terrorist enemies so dangerous and implacable — and so difficult to arrest — that assassination is the best solution.

He insists his team is not a murder squad. As evidence, Golan recounted how, as their mission continued, the UAE provided names with no affiliation to Al-Islah or any group, terrorist or otherwise. Golan said he declined to pursue those individuals, a claim that could not be verified.

The people Spear did target, he and Gilmore said, were legitimate because they were selected by the government of the UAE, an ally of the United States that was engaged in a military action supported by the US. Gilmore said that he and Golan told the UAE they would never act against US interests. And Golan claimed that, based on his military experience, he could tell if a target was a terrorist after just a week or two of surveillance.

Still, Gilmore acknowledged that some of the targets may have been people who merely fell out of favor with the ruling family. Referring to the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Gilmore said, “There is the possibility that the target would be someone who MBZ doesn’t like. We’d try to make sure that didn’t happen.”

When they reached Aden, the mercenaries were issued weapons. They were surprised at the low quality — shitty Chinese assault rifles and RPGs, according to Gilmore and Golan.

At some point, they also received their official designation in the Emirati military. Golan was named a colonel and Gilmore a lieutenant colonel, a heady “promotion” for a man who had been discharged from the Navy as a petty officer.

Gilmore still has his UAE dog tag, a rectangle of white gold imprinted with his blood type, AB-negative. His name is in English on one side and in Arabic on the other.

Using sources handed to them by the UAE’s intelligence network, Gilmore said, the team established Mayo’s daily life pattern — the home he lived in, the mosque he prayed at, the businesses he frequented.

Christmas passed with the mercenaries sharing their whiskey and plotting how exactly they should kill Mayo. A raid, a bomb, a sniper? “We had five or six courses of action to go after him,” Gilmore said.

After some quick surveillance of the Al-Islah headquarters, they decided on explosives. Gilmore said he drew the mission plan out on the floor of the tent, with a black Sharpie. It showed the angles of approach, the attack, and, most important, the escape route.

After he briefed his colleagues, Gilmore took out his knife, cut through the tough tent fabric, and burned the mission plan. “I don’t want any of that with my handwriting on it floating around,” he said.

Two days later, Gilmore recalled, they got the word that Mayo was in his office for a large meeting.

Golan gathered with Gilmore, another ex-SEAL, and a former Delta Force soldier, for the mission. They had left behind their wallets and all identifying information, and they wore an assortment of motley uniforms — Gilmore said he wore a baseball hat and Salomon Speedcross trail-running shoes, with a chest rig full of spare ammunition magazines. All held AK-47s, and one had the bomb loaded with shrapnel.

Gilmore, Golan, and two others climbed into an armored SUV with a plainclothes Emirati soldier at the wheel. The French Foreign Legion soldiers were in another SUV, which would stop a short distance from the attack site, ready to rush in should the Americans get into a jam. The gates of their base opened and they pulled out onto the nighttime streets of Aden.

It’s unclear exactly what went wrong.

Right before the mercenary reached the front door, carrying the explosive charge meant to kill Mayo, one of his fellow fighters at the back of the SUV opened fire, shooting along the backstreet.

There was a drone high overhead, and the video, obtained by BuzzFeed News, shows gunfire but not what the American is shooting at. The drone video doesn’t show anyone shooting back at the mercenaries.

Gilmore said he himself fired at someone on the street, but his gun jammed. He said he wasn’t sure who was firing at them. In any case, the mercenary carrying the explosive to the building carried on despite the commotion around him — for a full 20 seconds, the video shows.

To make their escape, the mercenaries ran into UAE military vehicles. Then suddenly there was an explosion — the bomb on the door — followed by a second, bigger one. The second explosion was the mercenaries’ SUV. Gilmore and Golan say they booby-trapped it to disguise the source of the bomb, confuse Al-Islah, and add to the destruction.

The team returned to base without something they all knew they needed. US special operations forces call it positive identification, or “PID” — proof that Mayo was dead. A photo, for example, or DNA.

“That caused some problems with Dahlan,” Gilmore recalled.

Still, Mayo seemed to have vanished. He rarely posted on his Facebook page, and for a time, Gilmore and Golan said, he wasn’t seen in public.

Yet Al-Islah didn’t announce his death, as it would when other members got assassinated. The reason, a spokesperson for Al-Islah said in a phone interview, is that Mayo is alive — he had left the building 10 minutes before the attack and as of July was living in Saudi Arabia. No one, the spokesperson said, died in the mercenaries’ assault.

Mayo seems to have reemerged in Yemeni politics. In May he was nominated to a post by the president of Yemen, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, according to Charles Schmitz, a specialist on the Middle East and Yemen at Towson University in Maryland. Schmitz said he found a recent photo of Mayo standing in a group with the UN envoy to Yemen.

Golan maintains that, at the very least, Mayo was neutralized for a time. “For me it’s a success,” he said, “as long as the guy disappeared.”

Even though it failed to kill Mayo, the mercenaries’ bomb attack seems to have ushered in a new phase in the UAE’s war against Al-Islah. “It was the exclamation point that set the tone that Al-Islah was now going to be targeted,” said Schmitz

The Al-Islah spokesperson who spoke to BuzzFeed News recited the date by memory: December 29, 2015. “It was the first attack,” he said.

As 2016 progressed, those watching the deteriorating situation in Yemen began to notice that members of Al-Islah, and other clerics in Aden, were dropping dead at an alarming pace. “It does appear to be a targeted campaign,” said Gregory Johnsen of the Arabia Foundation, who in 2016 served on a UN panel investigating the Yemen war. “There have been 25 to 30 assassinations,” he said, though a few appear to be the work of ISIS. (Johnsen used to write for BuzzFeed News.)

“There is a widespread belief on the ground,” said Kendall, the University of Oxford expert, “that the UAE is behind the assassination of Al-Islah officials and activists.”

When BuzzFeed News read Gilmore the names of some of the dead, he nodded in recognition at two of them — “I could probably recognize their faces” — and said they were among the team’s targets. But he said he hadn’t been involved in killing them.

Golan said his team killed several of the dead but refused to give an exact number or names. But after their first semi-botched mission, the mercenaries rebooted.

They got rid of the French Foreign Legionnaires, replacing them with Americans. The Emiratis also provided them with better weapons and better equipment, Golan and Gilmore said: C4 explosives, pistols fitted with silencers, and high-end American-made M4 rifles. They were also outfitted with motorbikes they could use to scoot through Aden’s traffic and affix magnetized bombs to cars. All the equipment, they said, came from the UAE military.

Gilmore stayed on for only a short time. He said he left Spear in April 2016. He and Golan declined to say why, but Gilmore said he wishes he had been more aggressive in Yemen. “If I could do it over again we would have been less risk-averse,” he said. “We could have done some amazing things — although we also could have done some amazing things and all ended up in jail.”

One new member of the team, hired in early 2016, was the veteran of SEAL Team 6, Daniel Corbett, according to three sources and confirmed by photos. Corbett was a superb soldier, say those who know him, and had served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was still in the reserves, so the US military could deploy him at any moment; he collected a government salary; and he was supposed to report for monthly drills. And yet he was in Yemen on a private contract to work for a foreign military. It is unclear if he himself was involved in missions to assassinate anyone.

In a mysterious development, Corbett is currently in jail in Serbia, where he is being investigated for illegal handgun possession. The American veteran has been held there since February 2018. Corbett could not be reached, and his lawyer did not respond to calls seeking comment.

As they went about their work in Yemen, the mercenaries stayed in huts, sleeping in cots. Some carried distinctive weapons for potential close-in fighting. One, according to photographs, carried two knives on his belt that he could draw cross-handed. Another carried a small tomahawk.

The team began to develop what Gilmore called “esprit de corps.” They flew a makeshift flag featuring a skull and crossed swords — a kind of Jolly Roger on a black background — and painted that emblem onto their military vehicles and their living quarters.

Much about the Spear mercenary team remains unknown, and some who participated made clear they have no desire to shed light on what went down. Asked if he’d been deployed in the Yemen mission, one of the Americans replied, “If I was, you know I can’t discuss it.” The former Green Beret who was sucking a lollipop during the mission sent BuzzFeed News a text message: “A big story for you could be a tragic story for the cast of characters; especially if they are good men doing what was right but not necessarily legal.”

For his part, Gilmore said he “would have preferred that this stay off the radar.” But he decided to speak to BuzzFeed News because “once this comes out there’s no way that I’m going to stay out of it, so I’d prefer to own it. And I’m not going to try to hide from what I did.”

“It’s still,” he said, “some variety of the future of warfare.”

Gilmore is out of the mercenary business. He has since found himself in another gray-zone line of work, albeit one that’s far less dangerous. He said he’s with a California company that plans to make cannabis oil for vaporizers.

Jules Darmanin in Paris contributed reporting to this story




The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

October 16, 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. 58

Date: Thursday, January 9, 1997

Commenced:  9:47 AM CST

Concluded:  10:28 AM CST

RTC: Ah, good morning, Gregory. Did you talk to Bill yesterday?

GD: Yes, he actually called me. He was discussing Kronthal with me mostly, but I think he was on a fishing trip. Was asking me about the new Mueller book…what was in it and such like.

RTC: Did you tell him anything?

GD: No, not in specific. I find him entertaining and sometimes truthful, but I don’t trust him. And I don’t trust Kimmel, either.

RTC: Probably a good idea. I rarely hear from Kimmel these days.

GD: I wonder why?

RTC: I think you’re the reason. Bill was cautioning me against talking too much to you because it might hurt my reputation.

GD: I think it must be the fact that I’m a practicing vampire. You know, Robert, it’ll be tough sledding this winter.

RTC: Why is that?

GD: No snow.

RTC: I walked right into that one, didn’t I? Has anyone discussed the Kennedy business with you?

GD: Corson did, once. Said he had the real story in his safe deposit box, and Plato or Aristotle would get it when he was called to Jesus.

RTC: Plato. That’s the fix lawyer around here. Little favors for this person or that one, little jobs for the Company and so on.

GD: They probably deserve each other.

RTC: Probably. And how is the Mueller book doing?

GD: Well enough. I’m starting to block out the Kennedy book and, yes, I know not to talk about it…

RTC: Or even write something up about it. If Tom thought you were into this, he’d have his boys do a black bag job on you and get into your hard drive.

GD: I could put a bomb in it… When they turned it on, somebody later  would be carrying a white cane and being nice to his German Shepherd guide dog.

RTC: Now, now, Gregory, not to make jokes about things like that.

GD: If people don’t want me to punt them in their fat ass, they shouldn’t bend over. On the other hand, it might be an invite for something more romantic.

RTC: I can see you’re in a good mood today.

GD: Foul mouthed as ever.

RTC: Sometimes, but always entertaining.

GD: I know Kimmel doesn’t find me entertaining. I make fun of the establishment and he is so obviously a dedicated and vocal part of it.

RTC: Everyone has to have something to cling to.

GD: What a waste of time. People are so predictable and so pathetic. You know, Robert, it’s like visiting your ant farm every morning and watching the ants leading their programmed lives.

RTC: Isn’t that a bit arrogant, Gregory?

GD: It’s not that I’m so smart, Robert, although I am, but it’s because so many are so stupid. Anyway, enough Weltschmertz.

RTC: Pardon?

GD: Pain with the world. Burned out. Bored. Frustrated.

RTC: I see. When you get to my age, that’s the whole thing.

GD: Well, if youth knew and age could, Robert. I think that’s from Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who invented aspirin. You know, God is Love, there is no pain. They ought to put that up in the terminal cancer wards. It would be such a comfort. I understand Mary was buried with a telephone in her coffin. High hopes and impossibilities sums it up, and have an aspirin.

RTC: That’s Christian Science, isn’t it? You heard about the Christian Scientist? He had a very bad cold and pretty soon, the cold was gone and so was the Christian Scientist.

GD: That’s how it goes, I guess. Now let me get serious about this ZIPPER business. If you want me to do a treatment on this that will be to your benefit, I need to get from you, on the phone is fine, some kind of a rationale for what happened. I mean, that’s what you want, isn’t it? To let those who come after you fully understand the reasons for your actions.

RTC: Yes, that’s it exactly. If that ever got out, though by now, it probably won’t, I don’t want my son and my grandchildren thinking I was just a common or garden variety assassin. They should know the reasons for why we acted as we did.

GD: Fine. Go ahead.

RTC: You must understand that we took our duties very seriously. Angleton was a first class counter intelligence man and very dedicated. And he discovers that the most important intelligence reports, the President’s daily briefings from the CIA, are ending up in Moscow. Within a week of them being given to the President. A week. And this was not a one-time incident but had been going on for some time. We then tried to find out how this was happening. A major intelligence disaster, Gregory, major. Now there were several copies of this report disseminated, never mind to whom, so in each one, a little spice was put in. An identifier as you will. Nothing that changed the thrust of the report but a little bit of spice, as Jim used to say. Jim’s contact in Moscow was a diplomat, never mind which country, because we don’t need to make trouble for him. So from him, we got copies of what Nikita was getting. So can you imagine how stunned we all were to learn that it was the President’s copy that was being leaked? My God! So we couldn’t just walk up to him and ask him how come Khrushchev was reading his briefings a week after we gave them to him. Jim couldn’t find a way how this was done, but then we had a report that Bobby, his brother, was known to be friendly with a prominent KGB fellow, Bolshakov. No question of who he was. The TASS man here. Top level. Bobby was known to have had at least one meeting with him. Hoover was having Bobby watched day and night because Hoover hated him and wanted to catch him doing something bad so he could leak it to the Post and get him sacked. Anyway, they found out that Bobby was talking to the Commie on the phone from his home so we, and Hoover, tapped his phone. Hoover didn’t know we were doing it, too, but that’s Washington politics for you. And we heard, for sure, that Bobby was sending thermofax copies of this report to him. I mean, there was no question. And, we learned, too, that Kennedy was keeping in direct contact with Khrushchev by Bobby and the Russian. I mean they were subverting the entire diplomatic system and God alone knows what Kennedy was talking about. We had to make sure of this, and really sure. It was explosive, believe me. Jim and a few of us sat down, listened to tapes and agent reports and tried to decide what to do. I mean, Gregory, here we had our President giving, actually giving, the most secret documents to our worst enemy, a man who swore in public he would destroy us. So, what to do? Make it public? Who would dare to do this? Of course we had strong media contacts but we all decided this was just too mind-boggling and negative to let outside that room. And that is where the decision was made to simply get rid of Kennedy. He was too independent, he had sacked Dulles and Bissel over the Cuban thing and threatened to Mansfield to break the Agency up. And here he was giving our worse enemy top secret inside information. I mean it really wasn’t open to discussion. You can see this all, can’t you?

GD: I can see your point of view very clearly.

RTC: What would you have done?

GD: I’m not an important person like those people, so what difference does my opinion make in all this? I’m just trying to find the rationale.

RTC: Well, do you have it?

GD: Yes, very clearly.

RTC: Well, the rest was lining up the players. Jim did his part, McCone did his part and he talked to Hoover to get his cooperation. We never went directly to him, but we used Bill Sullivan, his right hand trouble-shooter. That’s how it was done. Hoover hated the Kennedys,  especially Bobby, and we had to have him on our side because it was his people that would investigate any killing that had to be done. It took about a week of back and forth but finally it was agreed on. Johnson was no problem. He was a real rat; a wheeler-dealer whom you couldn’t trust to the corner for a pound of soft soap. The Kennedy bunch were treating him like shit and planned to dump him as VP, so of course he went for the wink and the nod. Fortas was his bagman, just like Sullivan was Hoover’s. These are people who know the value of silence from long experience. And it went on from there. I have a phone conference record which I will dig out, when the time comes, and send to you. At this point are you clear on the motivations? I mean, this was not just some spur of the moment thing, Gregory. We felt it had to be done to stop what we could only call high treason. Hoover and Johnson both went along on those grounds. A matter of treason. And it had to be stopped. I don’t see this as heroic but a vital necessity. For the country.

GD: I remember reading somewhere that treason doth never prosper for if it prospers, none dare call it treason.

RTC: Something like that.

GD: Very like.

RTC: But if you look at it carefully, and I hope you will, Gregory, you will see that Kennedy was committing the treason, not us. It was he and his vile brother who were passing our most sensitive and secret documents to our enemies. What were we to do? Confront him? We’d all be fired, or worse. What choice was there? Tell me that.

GD: From that point of view, none.

RTC: We are making progress. One thing…Jim was thinking about blowing up Kennedy’s yacht while and was sailing around off Cape Cod but since there certainly would be children on board, I put a stop to that. Kennedy is one thing but not the children.

GD: And the wife? Our American saint.

RTC: Oh that one. Don’t be fooled, Gregory. Jackie claims descent from French nobility but in fact, her French ancestor wasn’t a nobleman, but an immigrant cabinetmaker. And crap about her being related to Robert E. Lee is more crap. That part of her family were lace curtain micks from the old sod. The woman is a fraud. She married Kennedy for his father’s money, that’s all. Wonderful backgrounds here, Gregory. Old Joe was as crooked as they come. He was an associate of Al Capone, a bootlegger, and worse, and in 1960, he and the mob rigged the election so Jack could get in. Yes, I know all about that. They did their work in Chicago with the Daley machine and the local mob. That’s right, vote early and vote often. They even voted the cemeteries. I never really liked Nixon but they connived and stole the election from him slicker than snot off a glass-handled door knob.

GD: Ain’t it nice living in a democracy? So Kennedy wasn’t a saint by any stretch.

RTC:We can overlook all the women and the wild drug and sex orgies in the White House, but, Gregory, passing our top secrets to the enemy was too damned much. I would like you to show that very clearly if and when you get into this.

GD: Well, from a pragmatic view, Robert, it is the very best and clearest reason for the killing. A question here.

RTC: Certainly.

GD: A plot. Good, but then how do you keep it quiet? Someone might talk.

RTC: Remove them, Gregory.

GD: But what about those who remove those who know too much? Then they know too much.

RTC: Oswald knew a little too much, just a little but enough. And he could prove he never shot Kennedy. So he had to go before he started to talk. Oswald knew some of our people and he worked directly for ONI, so there were dangers there. On the other hand, the man who shot King, Ray, knew nothing so he got to live and end up in jail until he died. He knew there was something wrong, but, and this is important to note, Gregory, he had no proof.

GD: You did King?

RTC: No Hoover did King. He hated him with a visceral passion. Hoover was a nut, Gregory, but a very powerful and very dangerous nut. There is a long-standing rumor here that Hoover had passed the color line and that he was part black. Hoover was a homosexual and there we have two reasons to hate yourself. King was black and he was a womanizer. And Bobby was AG and loathed Hoover. He used to go into Hoover’s office while he was taking his after-lunch nap and wake him up. And he laughed at him and called him a faggot behind his back. Not to do that to Hoover. He stayed in absolute power because he had enough real dirt on Congress to put most of them away in the cooler or the loonie bin. No, Bobby signed his death warrant when he did those things. No, Hoover did King and Hoover did Bobby. Not himself, but he got Bill Sullivan to do it. Sullivan was his hatchet man and we worked directly with Bill. But then Bill got old and was starting to babble like old people do, and he was hinting about Hoover, who had sacked him after he had used him. No, that doesn’t make it, so some kid shot Bill right through the head. He thought he was a deer. My, my.

GD: And Bobby?

RTC: That was Hoover too. It was an agreement. We did John and Edgar did the others. We had one of our men there when they did Bobby, just to observe. We got George the Greek to keep an eye open. They got one of Kennedy’s people to steer him into the kitchen after a speech and the raghead was waiting. One of the Kennedy bodyguards did him from behind while all the shooting and screaming was going on. Much better than John. They had a real shooter in front of real people. None of the questions like we had in Dallas. No loose ends, so to speak. And King was another clean job. Sullivan was very good.

GD: And that’s why he turned into a deer.

RTC: Yes, he turned into a very dead deer.

GD: And you got Cord’s wife on top of it.

RTC: Jim said she was hanging around with hippies and arty-farty people and running her mouth.

GD: Did she know anything?

RTC: No, but she was well-connected and some people might believe her. She’d been humping Kennedy and they apparently really go along with each other. She was a lot more of a woman than Jackie and she never nagged Jack or acted so superior like Jackie loved to do. Her brother in law worked for us and we all agonized over this but in the end, Jim had his way. Of course Cord thought it was peachy-keen. He hated her, but then Cord hated everybody. The vicious Cyclops!

GD: One eye.

RTC: Yes. Oh, and like Jim, he, too, was a profound poet. God, spare me from the poets of the world. You don’t write poetry, do you, Gregory.

GD: No, but really filthy limericks, Robert. Would you like to hear some?

RTC: Oh, not now. Maybe later.

GD: Probably just as well. Once I get started on those, I’ll be going strong an hour later. But let me tell you just one. Not a dirty one, but after about an hour of limericks, I love to end the night with this one. Can I proceed?

RTC: Just one?

GD: Yes, just one.

RTC: Go on.

GD: ‘There was an old man of St. Bees,

Who was stung on the arm by a wasp.

When asked if it hurt,

He replied ‘No, it didn’t,

‘I’m so glad that it wasn’t a hornet.’


(Concluded at 10:28 AM CST)





No responses yet

Leave a Reply