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TBR News October 19, 2018

Oct 19 2018

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

Washington, D.C. October 19, 2018: “In addition to the “anonymous” but implied important source, the disinformation directors also favor the use of various minor academics as individuals to support their allegations or, and often more important, to denigrate or smear anyone perceived as a potential opponent. The CIA is well-known to have a large stable of minor members of academia on their payrolls and this in addition to retired senior military personnel, various other individuals that can, often barely, be termed as ‘scientists,” or other purported experts.  These either praise and eagerly support governmental actions and positions or attack the questioners of these actions. In general, academics are eager, vicious and willing prostitutes for either money or official praise.

From a classified CIA appraisal of media disinformation, we present an analysis of the basic rules of the engagements:

1.The reality of actual power is what one possesses but also what opponents believe one possesses. The political structure must always depict itself as omnipotent and omniscient and all opponents should be depicted as weak, disorganized and always wrong. This will convince not only the public but the opponent that they are of no consequence in the face of an overwhelming moral and historical force.

2.Always present your beliefs from secure and comprehensive internal knowledge and always make a strong effort to deal in areas that are unfamiliar to your opponents. One must always deal on internal lines and never permit an enemy to draw you into the unfamiliar where you are unable to firmly deal with issues. This is a weakness that the public will quickly recognize and will effectively blunt the direction and effectiveness of any message. In public debates against perceived opponents, the most effective means of destroying their credibility is to lure them into areas where they are unprepared, or unknowing, and demolish them by presenting them as unfamiliar with their subjects.

3.Ridicule, if properly used, is one of the most effective means of discrediting an opponent. French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote that the most effective means of destroying an enemy was to make a fool of them.”

 

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 54
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Commentary: Khashoggi case shows America’s collapsing Mideast clout
  • As Khashoggi crisis grows, Saudi king asserts authority, checks son’s power: sources
  • Killing Jamal Khashoggi Was Easy. Explaining It Is Much Harder
  • Don’t Believe Donald Trump; We’ll Be Just Fine Without Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi Arabia: Powerful, but not omnipotent after Khashoggi affair
  • New Documents Bolster Case that Border Patrol Retaliated Against Humanitarian Group

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 54

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 17, 2018

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: We’ll let Trump get away with claiming National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster “forgot” to make this assertion in his remarks chastising Russia at the Munich Security Conference, though it seems clear McMaster had no intention of saying such a thing. It is simply nonsensical, though, to claim “Crooked H” — Hillary Clinton — or the Democratic Party colluded with Russia. This accusation is based on the fact that the British ex-spy who produced a research dossier on the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia, which was funded in part by Clinton’s campaign, used Russian sources. This does not come close to meeting the definition of collusion, commonly defined as a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose.”

Trump has repeated this claim 22 times

“Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein stated at the News Conference: ‘There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.'”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Whether intentionally or unintentionally, Trump got a word wrong in this quote from Rosenstein. Rosenstein said “there is no allegation in this indictment,” not “the indictment.” Rosenstein’s “this” may have been deliberate, an implicit suggestion that there could be more indictments to come. Regardless, we’ll hold Trump to the journalistic standard: words contained in quotation marks must be the exact words someone has uttered.

Feb 18, 2018

“Great Pollster John McLaughlin now has the GOP up in the Generic Congressional Ballot. Big gain over last 4 weeks.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: McLaughlin’s February poll had Democrats leading 45 per cent to 42 per cent — the exact same numbers as its January poll, so there was no gain at all.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: We’ll let Trump get away with slightly misquoting himself. (In a Sept. 2016 presidential debate, he said, “I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?”) Much more importantly, it is false that he was always said the hoax was limited to the specific allegation that his campaign colluded with Russia. In fact, he referred to the overall claim of Russian meddling in the election as a fraud. In Dec. 2016, he had this exchange on Fox News: “CHRIS WALLACE: According to the Washington Post, the CIA has concluded that Russia intervened in the election to help you win the presidency. Your reaction? TRUMP: I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it.” In February 2017, he said, “I guess one of the reasons I’m here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing — that’s a ruse. That’s a ruse.” He didn’t use the word “hoax,” but “ruse” is almost identical. In Sept. 2016, during the election, he said “it’s probably unlikely” that Russia was interfering, adding, “I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out” — again, suggesting the very idea of interference was a hoax. And in his most famous remark on the subject, in November 2017, he said of Russian President Vladimir Putin: “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did… Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.” While he did not himself say “Russia did not meddle,” he came very close by saying he really believes Putin “means” his denials.

“Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump is wrong to suggest Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was only now faulting Obama’s response to Russian election meddling. He had been doing so since the immediate aftermath of the election. In Dec. 2016, he told The Atlantic magazine: “The debate, I think, within the administration has always been: Will steps risk too much of an escalation? When the impact has been inviting too much Russian interference because there hasn’t been enough of a pushback. I think they have erred too much on the side of caution. And that has ended up costing us.” He also said: “I think the president should have come out earlier with attribution [for the cyber campaign]. I don’t accept the argument that [the administration] couldn’t come out earlier because they hadn’t established the evidence of attribution…I also think the process of sanctioning Russia should have begun far earlier, and we should have worked with our European allies to impose costs on Russia. That would have also telegraphed to the American people how serious this was. By not doing more, by not saying more, the administration missed an important opportunity to help inform the American public about the serious nature of the meddling that was going on.”

“Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Republicans in Congress did attempt to investigate the payment to Iran — as one of his top appointees could have told him. One of the people leading the charge in Congress was Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo, then a congressman. One Associated Press article stated explicitly: “Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas, is seeking an investigation.” In Sept. 2016, House Republicans held a committee hearing on the subject, threatening Obama officials with subpoenas to get them to testify. (“House Republicans press Obama administration on Iran payment,” read the headline in the Chicago Tribune.) In Oct. 2016, Pompeo complained that their efforts to investigate had been thwarted by administration stonewalling. “Pompeo told the (Washington) Free Beacon that the Obama administration has blocked Congress at every turn as lawmakers attempt to investigate the payments to Iran,” the Free Beacon reported.

  • Feb 19, 2018

“Companies are pouring back into our country, reversing the long term trend of leaving.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is no evidence that companies are “pouring back” or that Trump has reversed long-term corporate outsourcing trends. In November 2017, a labour group called Good Jobs Nation released a study that found “93,449 jobs have been certified by the Department of Labor as lost to trade competition or corporate outsourcing since Trump’s election,” a total “higher than the average job loss rate of 87,576 for the preceding five years.” And there was a long-term trend of foreign companies entering the country, along with a trend of American companies leaving the country, well before the Trump era. In 2016, Obama’s last year, “Expenditures by foreign direct investors to acquire, establish, or expand U.S. businesses totaled $373.4 billion in 2016,” the U.S. government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reported.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian medling?”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Even some members of the Obama administration take issue with Obama’s quiet pre-election response to Russia’s election meddling. It is certainly false, though, to suggest Obama didn’t do anything at all even “beyond” the election. In December 2016, Obama expelled from the U.S. 35 Russian “diplomats” suspected of being spies, closed two Russian compounds he alleged were being used for intelligence purposes, and sanctioned Russian intelligence agencies and companies he alleged were providing support to Russian intelligence.

  • Feb 20, 2018

“A woman I don’t know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security cameras running.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is an inaccurate description of the allegation reported by the Post. As the Post wrote, the accuser, Rachel Crooks, claims Trump gave her unwanted kisses near the elevators on the 24th floor of Trump Tower, not in the public lobby

“Republicans are now leading the Generic Poll, perhaps because of the popular Tax Cuts which the Dems want to take away….Also, they want to do nothing on DACA, R’s want to fix!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Democrats have led in all but one of the last 50-plus polls of the “generic ballot,” in which respondents are asked, without any candidates’ names being mentioned, which party they intend to support in the 2018 midterm elections. We’ll let this claim slide, though, because the one recent poll that showed Republicans ahead — a Politico/Morning Consult poll 39 per cent to 38 per cent — had just been released a week prior to this tweet. What we won’t ignore is the claim that Democrats “want to do nothing on DACA.” Trump, a Republican, cancelled the Democrat-created DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program that gives young unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the “DREAMers,” work permits and protection from deportation. Democrats want him to do something to help these people: they are now urging him to simply re-protect DACA enrollees without conditions. Conversely, Trump and other Republicans are demanding steep concessions — billions of dollars for a border wall, a reduction of one third or more in legal immigration — in exchange for protecting DACA enrollees, and some conservative Republicans continue to deride any permanent protection for enrollees as “amnesty.” Democrats have consented to billions in wall funding, but Trump has rejected even this deal on the grounds that he also wants the cuts to legal immigration. In short: Trump is free to argue, as some DREAMers are, that Democrats are not fighting hard enough for DACA enrollees, but there is no reasonable argument that they “want to do nothing.”

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, there’s no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time, and so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes.’ …The President Obama quote just before election. That’s because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn’t want to ‘rock the boat.’ When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is comprehensively wrong. Obama, at a press conference in October 2016, was specifically responding to a question about Trump’s repeated campaign claim that there might be voter fraud in Democrat-leaning cities like Philadelphia. (The question began: “I would like to ask you about the election. Donald Trump is telling his supporters that the election is rigged and asking them to monitor certain areas on Election Day.”) Contrary to Trump’s suggestion, Democratic officials did not, post-election, abandon Obama’s view on voter fraud; nobody important in the party is currently alleging that there was vote-rigging in Trump’s favour. Rather, they are noting that, in the view of U.S. intelligence agencies, the Russian government intervened in the election in other ways to assist Trump and hurt Clinton. The allegation of Russian interference was not invented by Democrats post-election; James Clapper, then the director of national intelligence, issued a statement in October 2016, two weeks before Obama’s remarks at the press conference, in which Clapper said the U.S. intelligence had concluded Russia was behind the email hacks of Democratic officials: “The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from US political organizations…These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” Finally, it is highly questionable to say that Trump “easily” won the Electoral College: though he earned a seemingly comfortable margin of 306 to 232 electoral votes, he did so by prevailing by a razor-slim total of about 107,000 votes in three states: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

October 19, 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. 118

Date: Friday, December 19, 1997

Commenced: 11:09 AM CST

Concluded: 11:24 AM CST

GD: Well, another damned Christmas season is upon all of us. The gap-jawed ninnies waddling around the malls, the latest electronic noise-makers clutched in sweaty hands while the owners jabber endlessly to their equally moronic friends on the other end. Jesus H. Christ, you ought to listen to them, Robert, Babble, chatter, simper and squeal. Well, this electronic new age is upon us and I have it from a friend at NASDAC that a new and major con is about to be born. Are you interested?

RTC: Of course I am. Don’t forget that I was the man with the business connections for the Company.

GD: You ought to write a book on it.

RTC: Don’t tempt me.

GD: Well, they could augment your pension, believe me. Anyway, a circle of crooked stock brokers, who ought to be in Congress, have concocted a scheme based on the public’s fascination with the flashing lights and novelty of the electronic age. What they are going to do is this. They get some computer specialist, fresh out of MIT, to set up a company called, let’s say, ‘Batdung,.com’ which postulates that they raise bats and collect their crap for sale to people raising Venus Fly Catchers. Or another system called ‘Pelco.com’ that delivers goose livers to blind orphans. Anyway, they get this front to set up a legit corporation, say in Delaware, and then they get it up onto the board. The NYSE I mean.

RTC: Understood. And then?

GD: And then, they ring up a dozen or so of their rich clients and tell them that they want them to buy ‘Batdung.com’ at ten and they will sell out at twenty. And when huge purchases are recorded on the Board, why the gap-jawed twits rush out to buy ‘Batdung.com’ or ‘Pelco.com’ and the stock shoots up into the heavens. Meanwhile, the new teen-aged wonder who owns the name and an empty office, buys five new cars, a huge slate-topped desk and some huge and ugly new house with round windows somewhere. The stock goes up and up, slows down and then when it is obvious that there is nothing behind it, takes a dive. What do the crooks care? They took their fees from the rich enablers who got in and got out. Say they sold out at twenty and the stock went up to two hundred. One day at two hundred, the next at one ninety and the following day at fifty cents. Ah well, the wise ones have gotten in and gotten out, more or less like the early arrivals at a Reno brothel. Someone else has to take sloppy seconds and at the end, they all have the clap and the gleet. But the whorehouse owner makes all the money and the stockbrokers and their rich friends do very well. The patsy ends up losing his cars, his desk and his home and has to go back living with mother in a basement apartment he shares with the rats and cockroaches.

RTC: Serious?

GD: Oh, yes, very. This will take some time to ripen but it will take place and no one will be able to do anything about it. You know, the Republicans are waiting for Clinton to finish his term and they will do everything in their power to take the White House. Who will run? Probably Gore but who knows who else? The Republican right is yammering and yearning to get into power after the liberal Clinton and if they get in, look for some attempt to establish a permanent majority. I know a number of these people and they love to rub their hands and talk about the coming Days of Wrath and Mourning for the left wing Jews and fellow travelers on both coasts. The religious freaks will crawl out from under the dead cows or up out of the cesspits all across this land and add their squawkings to the cacophony. I think this country is heading into an abyss, Robert. We will eventually see a reprise of 1929 if the Republicans get into power or get both Houses. They will screw up the stock markets, the banks and the money markets and then down all will crash and these scumbags will crawl out of the rubble, clutching bags of money and headed for Aruba or Tel Aviv. Yes, and there are now tens of thousands of young kids that get out of high school with no prospect of a job because the blue collar jobs are all going to slave labor camps in Southeast Asia. Of course this kind of poverty and denial of what we all see as the American Dream can lead to all kinds of domestic problems.

RTC: Oh, you’re right on there, my boy. Reagan set up a virtual concentration camp system and special Army units so that if he had any problems domestically like Johnson had during the Vietnam war, they could sweep up all the protestors, their mothers and wives and jam them all into the new Dachaus.

GD: Do you have chapter and verse on this, Robert?

RTC: Could get it but why bother with it? If you put that in every newspaper in America, no one would believe you. Sure, I’ll look it up. Oh yes, they have plans waiting for another Vietnam rebellion, believe me. Reagan said, like the Jews, never again and if the public get their tit in the wringer, off they go with no problem and they can see their family through the barbed wire.

GD: Oh my, and then we can take a leaf from the holocaust nutties and start talking about mythic gas chambers and lampshades.

RTC: Oh God, let’s do not go there. I am so tired of hearing about that shit.

GD: Americans are far crueler than the Germans or Russians so I imagine that future historians, not like the decayed creeps you people use, historians will write about the neo fascism riding the GOP elephant. And over the cliff. Couple this with economic meddling and I will really think about permanently moving away.

RTC: There are many who would love to see you go, Gregory.

GD: And I would love to see them take long walks on short piers, Robert, and carrying heavy weights. Feed the sharks, why not?

RTC: Do sharks eat crap?

GD: No, but the bottom feeders like the crabs would stuff themselves. No, you can see this coming.  Maybe not right away but all the bits and pieces are there, Robert. Maybe not in your time but in mine…that is unless Wolfe comes up behind me and slugs me with his purse.

RTC: (Laughter) Do you also foresee pogroms?

GD: Of course. If the economy is artificially inflated and collapses, why scapegoats have to be found. The Mexicans, the Jews and…no, the fewer the better. I would say the blacks but there are too many of them. Probably the illegals. Yes. Mass imprisonment and deportations. Who will cut our lawns then?

RTC: Reagan foresaw closing the universities as hotbeds of anti government actions there.

GD: Why not? The students can’t learn anything because the intellectual levels of our professors would shame a baboon. My God, I have encountered a few in my life and I swear my dogs are smarter. They say a little learning is a dangerous thing, don’t they?

RTC: So I’ve heard.

GD: Well then, let’s  let our young and unemployed live dangerously. They can go to school and then to the camps.

RTC: Does this blessed season of giving always motivate you to be so bloody negative?

GD: Oh yes, the mythic Jesus is about to be born in the cow barn and save us all. I love these preachers who get up in front of the TV cameras and squeal about the fictional Jesus. Why not the Celestial Easter Bunny?

(Concluded at 11:24 AM CST)

 

Commentary: Khashoggi case shows America’s collapsing Mideast clout

October 17, 2018

by Peter Apps

Reuters

When it comes to defining America’s quandary on Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Donald Trump’s description is mercenary in the extreme. If Washington doesn’t stay close to Riyadh and sell it arms, he told reporters in the Oval Office this weekend, the Saudis will turn to Moscow or Beijing instead. Given that, he seemed to be suggesting, the United States should just keep its plans for a $110 billion arms deal and the 450,000 jobs he says it would bring.

He has a point – and one that also speaks to the broader geopolitical and moral issues at stake. Across the Middle East, from Turkey to Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and beyond, the more the United States attempts to inflict its will on often increasingly autocratic governments, the more they simply turn elsewhere. The messy aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring – in which governments in the region felt the Obama administration turned on them in the face of popular revolt – has seen U.S. influence there nosedive. That in turn makes it ever harder for Washington to influence events, let alone urge democratization and restraint.

The real question, though, may be how much appetite America really has to keep engaging in the region. That terrible things happen in the torture chambers and prisons of its foes and allies alike has never been in doubt. The reported graphic brutality of the alleged torture, dismemberment, and killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, though, may yet prove a game changer.

The United States still has clout – that much is clear from the speed with which Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met this week with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The oil-rich kingdom and preeminent global superpower clearly still feel they need each other – as Pompeo said after the meetings, neither side wanted to talk hard facts about Khashoggi, preferring to wait for the outcome of Riyadh’s own investigation.

The Trump administration and Saudi royal family have exerted considerable effort to build close relations with each other in the last two years. The Khashoggi case, however, looks to have supercharged existing worries on all sides over the value and future of such dealings. Even before the latest crisis in relations, growing numbers of U.S. lawmakers wanted U.S. arms deals stopped and were openly discussing sanctions against the Saudis. Two major U.S. lobbying firms have now also cut their ties with Riyadh.

Saudi officials, so far at least, deny involvement in any killing – despite reports that they are likely to say Khashoggi died during an interrogation gone wrong. But if, as suspected, those in power were involved, it would suggest just how little they care for U.S. and wider Western handwringing. Yet pulling Western support could yet – in some respects, at least – make some matters even worse. In Yemen, for example, where Riyadh is leading a coalition against Iran-aligned rebels, a Saudi air campaign using more indiscriminate Russian-style weapons and tactics – as seen in Syria – could kill even more civilians than the thousands who have died already.

Even Mideast states that were once seen as relatively moderate Western allies are increasingly playing by their own rules. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed reported that the United Arab Emirates had hired U.S. mercenaries in a botched assassination plot in Yemen. The same day, the UAE announced it was charging a British PhD student with spying after detaining him during a study trip. Such actions are causing disquiet in London and Washington – but few leaders in the region seem to care.

Almost every part of Middle East politics now reflects that trend. When demonstrations erupted in Syria in 2011, the Obama administration agonized over how best to use American power. It arguably chose the worst of all possible options, encouraging the rebels without giving enough support to make a significant difference. Having largely won on the battlefield, Russia and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad now clearly call the shots – with the United States little more than a bystander.

For all the recent reports over Ankara’s release of an imprisoned U.S. pastor, Turkey under President Tayyip Erdogan has gone out of its way to distance itself from Washington, most obviously through the purchase of a Russian air defense system. In the Gulf, attempts by both the Trump and Obama administrations to smooth relations between U.S. ally Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have fared no better than their efforts to manage the Yemen war. Even in Iraq, still heavily dependent on U.S. military aid, successive governments have been more open to Russian and Iranian influence.

It’s a trend that will likely further accelerate in the years to come. Any future U.S. Democratic administration, whoever leads it, is likely to have even less appetite than its predecessors for military adventurism or cozying up to Middle East strongmen. European governments are even more cautious. Both the Iraq and Libya wars are seen as stark warning against future entanglements, at least any that go beyond the kind of anti-jihadist operations seen against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

Where moral and even practical lines lie is unclear. I often think back to my days as one of the reporters covering the war in Sri Lanka as it resumed in 2006. The government atrocities we reported helped prompt the West to cut back military aid. China and others filled the gap, almost entirely with even more indiscriminate weaponry – and the death toll skyrocketed in consequence. In many respects, the entire Middle East – and Yemen in particular – is now a test bed for the same fundamental dilemma. It’s tempting to say the West should play no part in it – but that in itself has its own consequences

Western patience with Saudi Arabia has been running out for awhile – not least over Riyadh’s longstanding blind eye to internal support for Islamist extremism and sometimes militancy abroad. If the Khashoggi disappearance is not the last straw, an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen perhaps should be. But while Trump’s characterization of the situation might be crass, he has correctly identified just how tough – and perhaps simultaneously pointless – the choices have become for both him and his successors.

 

As Khashoggi crisis grows, Saudi king asserts authority, checks son’s power: sources

October 19, 2018

Reuters

DUBAI (Reuters) – So grave is the fallout from the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that King Salman has felt compelled to intervene, five sources with links to the Saudi royal family said.

Last Thursday, Oct. 11, the king dispatched his most trusted aide, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of Mecca, to Istanbul to try to defuse the crisis.

World leaders were demanding an explanation and concern was growing in parts of the royal court that the king’s son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to whom he has delegated vast powers, was struggling to contain the fallout, the sources said.

During Prince Khaled’s visit, Turkey and Saudi Arabia agreed to form a joint working group to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance. The king subsequently ordered the Saudi public prosecutor to open an inquiry based on its findings.

“The selection of Khaled, a senior royal with high status, is telling as he is the king’s personal adviser, his right hand man and has had very strong ties and a friendship with (Turkish President) Erdogan,” said a Saudi source with links to government circles.

Since the meeting between Prince Khaled and Erdogan, King Salman has been “asserting himself” in managing the affair, according to a different source, a Saudi businessman who lives abroad but is close to royal circles.

 

Killing Jamal Khashoggi Was Easy. Explaining It Is Much Harder

October 18, 2018

by Philip Giraldi

Strategic Culture Foundation

Getting to the bottom of the Jamal Khashoggi disappearance is a bit like peeling an onion. It is known that Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd to get a document that would enable him to marry a Turkish woman. It is also known, from surveillance cameras situated outside the building, that he never came out walking the same way he entered. The presumption is that he was either killed inside or abducted, though the abduction theory would have to be based on a Consulate vehicle leaving the building with him presumably concealed inside, something that has not been confirmed by the Turks. If he was killed inside the building and dismembered, as seems likely, he could have had his body parts removed in the suitcases carried by the alleged fifteen official Saudis who had arrived that morning by private jet and left that afternoon the same way. The supposition is that the fifteen men, which may have included some members of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s bodyguard as well as a physician skilled in autopsies who was carrying a bone saw, constituted the execution party for Khashoggi.

There are certain things that should be observed about the Turks, since they are the ones claiming that the disappearance of Khashoggi may have included a summary execution and dismemberment. The Turkish intelligence service, known by its acronym MIT, is very good, very active and very focused on monitoring the activities of foreign embassies and their employees throughout Turkey. They use electronic surveillance and, if the foreign mission has local employees, many of those individuals will be agents reporting to the Turkish government. In my own experience when I was in Istanbul, I had microphones concealed in various places in my residence and both my office and home phones were tapped. A number of local hire consulate employees were believed to be informants for MIT but they were not allowed anywhere near sensitive information.

As Turkey and Saudi Arabia might be termed rivals if not something stronger, it is to be presumed that MIT had the Consulate General building covered with both cameras and microphones, possibly inside the building as well as outside, and may have had a Turkish employer inside who observed some of what was going on. Which is to say that the Turks certainly know exactly what occurred but are playing their cards closely to see what they can derive from that knowledge. The two countries have already initiated a joint investigation into what took place. Turkey’s economy is in free fall and would benefit from “investment” from the Saudis to create an incentive to close the book on Khashoggi. In other words, Turkey’s perspective on the disappearance could easily be influenced by Saudi money and the investigation might well turn up nothing that is definitive.

Saudi Arabia, for its part, has a couple of cards to play also even if it did kill and dismember Khashoggi under orders from the Crown Prince. First of all, the system of petrodollars, which basically requires nearly all purchases of petroleum to be paid in dollars, is underwritten by the Saudis. Petrodollars in turn enable the United States to print money for which there is no backing knowing that there will always be international demand for dollars to buy oil. The Saudis, who also use their own petrodollars to buy US treasury bonds, could pull the plug on that arrangement. That all means that the United States will be looking for an outcome that will not do too much damage to the Saudis.

Second, Saudi Arabia is in bed with Israel in opposition to Iran. This means the Israel Lobby and its many friends in Congress will squawk loudly about Khashoggi but ultimately shy away from doing anything about it. It already appears that a cover story is halfway in place to explain what happened. It is being suggested that a “rogue” element from Saudi Arabia might have carried out without the knowledge of the Crown Prince an interrogation or abduction attempt that went too far. Donald Trump speculated on Monday that that might be the case, suggesting that it may already be part of the official line that will be promoted. Those who know Saudi Arabia well, however, consider a high-level assassination not ordered by the Crown Prince directly to be extremely unlikely, but that does not necessarily mean that a cover story including that feature might not be successfully floated.

In regional terms, Saudi Arabia is also key to Trump’s anticipated Middle East peace plan. If it pulls out from the expected financial guarantees aspect, the plan will fall apart. Riyadh is also committed to buy tens of billions of dollars’ worth of American arms, an agreement that could be canceled if Washington begins to pressure the Saudis for answers. Beyond that, Saudi Arabia could stop pumping oil or fail to increase production when Iranian oil becomes subject to US sanctions early next month, driving the price per barrel up dramatically for everyone. The Saudi government has already indicated that it will respond forcefully to any attempts to punish it over Khashoggi and there is no reason to doubt the seriousness of that threat.

There are, of course, possible impediments to selling the fake news narrative. Some early reports suggested that Khashoggi’s fiancé had observed and possibly recorded the execution inside the consulate using the victim’s Apple wristwatch linked to an iPad in her possession. If that is true, the release of such material to the media will create worldwide demand to learn the truth that will be difficult to control. Also, there are unconfirmed reports that US intelligence knew in advance of Saudi plans to abduct Khashoggi, which could prove embarrassing to the Trump administration and could narrow its options.

The trick will be to see how a bit of extreme brutal behavior by the Saudis can be manipulated by all interested parties to produce a solution that doesn’t damage anyone too much. It will undoubtedly be far from the truth, but truth doesn’t necessarily matter much these days.

 

Don’t Believe Donald Trump; We’ll Be Just Fine Without Saudi Arabia

October 16, 2018

by Emma Ashford

USA Today

With the rumored killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, opinion in Washington appears to be turning decisively against longtime ally Saudi Arabia. Think tanks are returning Saudi money, lobbying firms are rejecting Saudi business, and Congress is actively considering sanctions on Saudi leaders.

The only holdout is President Donald Trump himself, who accepted King Salman’s denials, dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh, and parroted back the idea that Khashoggi could have been murdered by rogue killers. That “rogue killers” are rarely found hanging out in official consulates appears not to have crossed the president’s mind.

Trump’s defense of Saudi Arabia focused on arms sales and U.S. jobs. But his administration has been strongly supportive of Saudi Arabia in general, arguing that it is vital to U.S. energy security and regional interests.

Four decades ago, oil and security were indeed good reasons to maintain a strong partnership with Saudi Arabia. That is no longer the case

For starters, U.S. and Saudi interests in the Middle East are diverging. Saudi Arabia wants to roll back Iran and undermine democratic gains in nearby states. The Saudi-led war in Yemen has created a humanitarian crisis and produced the worst famine in years.

Whether it is arming rebels in Syria, initiating a blockade of Qatar or kidnapping the prime minister of Lebanon, Saudi foreign policy is increasingly a destabilizing force in the region. Minimizing our ties to Saudi Arabia certainly won’t worsen our regional interests. It could even improve things.

Global oil markets, meanwhile, have changed a lot since President Jimmy Carter argued in 1980 that the United States needed to defend the Middle East to protect the flow of oil. It’s true that Saudi Arabia remains a major global oil producer, but changes in the world market mean that America today is far less reliant on Middle Eastern energy.

To keep the oil flowing, Saudi Arabia needs to be stable. It does not need to be a U.S. ally.

Even Trump’s new justification — that Saudi arms sales are vital to the U.S. economy — is wrong. Arms sales figures are often inflated and are rarely as lucrative as they sound. In fact, experts believe that the purported $110 billion of Saudi Arms sales are in reality worth only about $28 billion. More important, they are responsible for only a small proportion of the overall U.S. defense industry.

Even as the Saudi government seeks to portray an image of reform, it has become increasingly repressive. Dissidents have been kidnapped abroad and returned to Riyadh. Human rights activists have been jailed.

Unlike past decades, however, U.S. leaders today don’t have to tolerate this behavior. A less friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia won’t harm U.S. interests in the Middle East. It’s time to stop turning a blind eye to the worst excesses of the Saudi leadership.

 

Saudi Arabia: Powerful, but not omnipotent after Khashoggi affair

Saudi Arabia’s reputation has suffered massively as a result of Jamal Khashoggi’s suspected murder. World leaders are keeping their distance. The country could be hostile in the face of criticism, or enact reforms.

October 18, 2018

by Kersten Knipp

DW

Christine Lagarde will no longer attend the upcoming investors’ conference in Riyadh. In the initial wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the International Monetary Fund chief confirmed that she would still participate in the meeting. Finally, she has pulled out.

Lagarde’s spokesperson declined to give a reason for the decision. The cancellation, however, is in line with the announcements of several leading Western politicians who also do not want to be seen in the Saudi capital.

Global business leaders have changed their plans as well. The CEOs of major banks including HSBC, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse do not want to travel to Ryiadh.

Others attendees have left their participation open. The CEO of German manufacturer Siemens, Joe Kaeser, said he would reach a decision in the coming days. While Kaeser views the disappearance of Khashoggi as a serious matter, he does not necessarily see boycotts as the solution. “If we stop conversing with countries where people have gone missing then we might as well stay home because we couldn’t converse with anyone,” he said.

We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house’

“We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house the way we want, but we have to deal with the situations as they arise,” said Jürgen Hardt, a lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Party, during a recent radio interview. Hardt, a foreign policy expert in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, added that politicians must maintain dialogue with each other, even when their attitudes do not align or when they completely reject their decisions.

Hardt pointed out that Saudi Arabia is an active player in the Middle East peace process trying to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together. At the same time, however, the country is waging a brutal war in Yemen that has resulted in one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes.

“That’s why we have a highly ambivalent view of Saudi Arabia,” Hardt said. “With what has unfolded in recent days in the Khashoggi case, and what may be revealed in the coming few days, we will further sharpen our view. And then, if necessary, Europe will adjust its policy on Saudi Arabia.”

A political heavyweight

Any change in European Union policy towards Saudi Arabia would be a decision of enormous significance. For years, the kingdom has been trying to present itself as a reliable political partner to the West.

Riyadh has not only declared its intention to mediate in Middle East conflicts; it also claims it wants to play an active role in the fight against terrorism.

The country plays an important role in the war in Syria, as well. It sees itself as an important counterweight to Middle East rival Iran, which has massively expanded its presence and influence in the region. In this context, Saudi Arabia has huge political and strategic value for the West.

Saudi Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, who currently lives in exile in Germany, said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is facing increasing pressure to answer to the suspected murder of Khashoggi, is a particularly important partner for the United States. “The American government could hardly afford to be without a man like Mohammed bin Salman who is easy to influence and control,” bin Farhan told DW.

The exiled prince also believes that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia had an ulterior motive: “To keep the crown prince in power so that [the US] can pursue its own plans.”

Middle East expert Thomas Richter from the German Institute of Global and Area Studies told DW that if the suspicions about Khashoggi’s violent death continue to intensify, the kingdom, in particular the crown prince, might be viewed by German politicians in a new light. Richter believes if this happens, a “serious reflection” would begin.

“One could reach the conclusion that Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian monarchy ruled by a few people and apparently led by a young prince who does not shy away from anything,” he said.

Petrodollars and investments

However, the economic might of Saudi Arabia could limit the extent of any diplomatic reorientation towards the country, and perhaps, even a direct response to the Khashoggi affair. Saudi Arabia’s massive oil reserves give the ruling family substantial leverage. Every day, the world’s largest oil exporter sells 10 million barrels.

Global demand for oil already exceeds supply in OPEC states. Additionally, due to the imminent sanctions against Iran, around 1.7 million fewer barrels are expected to become available on the market.

Should the relationship between the West and Riyadh deteriorate in the aftermath of the Khashoggi affair, Saudi Arabia could retaliate by reducing its exports. The result would be an increase in oil prices.

Such a scenario would be reminiscent of the so-called oil crisis of 1973, when OPEC states reduced their production volumes as a result of the Yom Kippur War. Within a few days, the price rose from around $3 to more than $12 per barrel. The result was a worldwide recession.

And Saudi Arabia is not only important as an oil exporter, but also as an investor. In the US alone, it holds bonds worth almost $170 billion (€148 billion). Should it sell them, interest rates on the bond markets would increase sharply. Such a rise would massively upset the monetary policy of the Trump administration, which is financing its latest tax cuts through further bond issues.

Hope for a new political culture?

Saudi Arabia remains a highly significant international player, both politically and economically. Thus, its reputation as a soon-to-be rogue state in the wake the Khashoggi affair is not entirely accurate. For the time being, Riyadh is responding with threats against its partners.

But Saudi Arabia will now have to face the music: Very few international players want to come to the table publicly now. If the outrage over the Khashoggi affair does not subside shortly, the presumed crime could prompt the kingdom to reconsider its political culture.

 

New Documents Bolster Case that Border Patrol Retaliated Against Humanitarian Group

October 18, 2018

by Ryan Devereaux

The Intercept

When volunteers with a faith-based humanitarian group in Arizona published a report earlier this year detailing the systematic destruction of water jugs left for migrants in the Sonoran Desert, they made a point of first reaching out to the agency implicated in the destruction: the U.S. Border Patrol.

At 8:23 a.m., on January 17, the day the report was released, the humanitarian group, known as No More Deaths, emailed the Border Patrol Tucson sector public affairs office a copy of their findings. Included with the report was video of Border Patrol agents engaged in the destruction of water jugs. By the end of the day, those images would go viral, garnering more than a quarter million views on Facebook alone. Hours after the report was published, a caravan of law enforcement vehicles descended on a building in the unincorporated community of Ajo, Arizona, that No More Deaths volunteers have openly used for more than three years.

As No More Deaths’ report and video footage was circulating online, a pair of plainclothes Border Patrol agents had set up a surveillance post overlooking the property, known locally as the Barn. The agents observed two men who they determined were undocumented. The men were in the company of an Ajo resident whose name the agents already knew, Scott Warren, a college instructor whose work with No More Deaths and other organizations committed to preventing the loss of life in one of the deadliest stretches of the U.S.-Mexico divide was hardly secret.

With support from deputies with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, the Border Patrol rushed in. Warren was arrested along with the migrants and accused of providing them with food, water, and shelter over the course of three days. Indicted by a grand jury on two counts of harboring and one count of conspiracy in February, Warren faces two decades in prison if convicted.

From the beginning, this timeline of events — the release of the No More Deaths report followed by the arrest of one of its longtime volunteers — has raised questions. Chief among them: Did the Border Patrol arrest an activist to get back at his organization for making the agency look bad? And did the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona, after years of largely leaving No More Deaths alone, chose to aggressively prosecute the case as part of some broader Trump-era effort to intimidate border activists?

With hundreds of human remains found along the border each year, and the Trump administration hellbent on deporting as many people as possible, including people with deep roots in the country and strong impulses to return, the answers to those questions are critical, as it often falls to civilian humanitarian groups to respond to the ongoing crisis of death and disappearance in the borderlands. What’s more, the possibility that the Border Patrol might make an arrest in response to criticism it has received carries plainly chilling implications for border residents who question or challenge the agency’s actions.

Like others in Arizona’s humanitarian aid community, Warren’s attorneys suspect that their client’s arrest and the release of the No More Deaths report and video may have been related. The problem, the defense team argues, is that the Border Patrol has staunchly resisted the release of materials that could shed further light on the matter. In a pretrial hearing in Tucson on Tuesday, Warren’s attorneys, Greg Kuykendall and Amy Knight, argued that Warren’s arrest suggests a case of selective enforcement and urged Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco to compel the agency to open its records.

“What this amounts to is a straightforward discovery request,” Kuykendall said. “We need to obtain discovery that is exclusively in the control of the prosecution.”

Kuykendall argued that No More Deaths’ email to the Border Patrol added to a mountain of circumstantial evidence suggesting that the Border Patrol was well aware of the group’s report, and the agency’s decision to send agents to the Barn on that day — of all days — was highly suspect.

Nathaniel Walters, one of the two assistant U.S. attorneys prosecuting a series of cases against No More Deaths volunteers, pushed back. Walters argued that the Barn had been identified as a “stash house” “months prior” to Warren’s arrest. Furthermore, he added, the fact that No More Deaths emailed the Border Patrol’s public affairs office in Tucson about the report did not mean that agents at the Ajo substation two hours south, which was responsible for Warren’s arrest, had any idea it was coming out.

That was not exactly accurate. Documents released to The Intercept via a freedom of information request reveal that two hours after No More Deaths alerted the Tucson public affairs office of the upcoming report, Fernando T. Grijalva, the patrol agent in charge of the Ajo substation, forwarded an email to Lt. Robert Koumal, commander of the Ajo district for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, and Rijk Morawe, an official at the National Park Service.

“For your situational awareness,” Grijalva wrote. Koumal, at the sheriff’s department, acknowledged receiving the email, writing “TY.”

Grijalva’s email included an unsigned write-up on the upcoming No More Deaths report. “In general,” it noted, the No More Deaths report “addresses vandalism of their food and water drops, highlights the Border Patrol raid on their camp in June 2017, and uses various scientific calculations to illustrate that the punctured water bottles were located in areas where their loss would be most lethal to migrants.”

“Game cam photos are included, ranging from 2010 to 2017,” it said

There is an image from 2017 of an agent ‘stealing’ a blanket, though he could also be innocently retrieving what appears to be trash left in a remote location. In the wake of the NMD Camp raid in June 2017, the video footage of agents vandalizing water bottles in 2012 was re-circulated online. It is likely there is video footage of the 2017 encounters. I haven’t located this footage yet; it is also possible more will be shown at the meeting scheduled for tonight at 8pm at the Global Justice Center.

The advisory also included screenshots from the No More Deaths Facebook page and warned that the organization had encouraged people to “call the Tucson Border Patrol Station to express their outrage at Border Patrol for vandalizing and impeding humanitarian efforts.”

“Agents and staff at TUS should be made aware in case they receive a flood of calls,” it said.

The existence of the communication indicates at least two things. One, that the supervisory agent directing operations at the Ajo substation on the day the No More Deaths report was released and Warren was arrested knew about the report prior to the arrest. And two, that the supervisory agent engaged in interagency communications with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, which would cooperate in Warren’s arrest, regarding the No More Deaths report.

Whether Walters, the assistant U.S. attorney, knew that the Ajo station was in fact aware of the No More Deaths report prior to Warren’s arrest is unclear. It could have come up, for example, in a June 6 meeting that his office requested through Jarrett L. Lenker, acting special operations supervisor for the Tucson Sector Intelligence Unit — the existence of that meeting was also revealed in documents released to The Intercept via a freedom of information request.

“I apologize for the late notice, but is there any way we might be able to request two of your deputies for a pre-trial meeting at the Ajo Border Patrol Station on Wednesday June 6, 2018, at 1400,” Lenker wrote in email to Koumal at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. “The Assistant United States Attorney’s Office will be present, traveling from Tucson to Ajo that day, to interview our agents and your deputies in conjunction with the Scott Warren arrest on January 17, 2018.” Lenker then added the names of the deputies “that the AUSA requested.” Koumal wrote back: “Expect them to attend.”

Questions of discovery and transparency have come up repeatedly in the government’s prosecution of Warren and the eight other No More Deaths volunteers currently facing federal charges. In April and in September, attorneys for the defendants attached exhibits to their motions that strongly suggest federal law enforcement in Arizona is actively targeting the group for its work in the desert. In both instances, the U.S. Attorney’s Office successfully lobbied to have the materials, which included text messages between law enforcement officials, sealed, but only after they were obtained by The Intercept through a public repository for federal court records.

For now, the circumstances that led to the surveillance of the Barn, culminating in Warren’s arrest, remain murky. And that, Kuykendall argued in Tuesday’s hearing, is precisely why the Border Patrol needs to come clean. “They’re stonewalling,” he said. “All I’m asking for is the right to look at some evidence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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