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TBR News October 27, 2019

Oct 27 2019

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. October 27, 2019:
“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for October 27:” The Internet is a wonderful source of valuable news but it is also a sewer filled with the droppings of very sick or very badly informed sources. Deliberate lies, official government disinformation designed to distract from ugly issues and the so-called social media whose sold raision d’etre is to suck out personal information they can offer for sale to greedy merchants of sleaze products.”

Warning!
Any site marked ‘honeypot’ on returned sendings is known to be a child pornographic site, generally S/M in nature, and subject to government surveillance and prosecution. If you encounter such a site during the course of a send-out, abandon it at once and remove the address from your files. Also, be sure to round-robin this information, i.e., the indicated email address, to your legitimate contacts to prevent problems. Ed

The Table of Contents
• Ex-CIA spy flees from Italy to U.S. fearing for her safety: paper
• All the President’s Women review: Donald Trump, sexual predator
• Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies
• Bad Mortgage originators
• The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
• Encyclopedia of American Loons

Ex-CIA spy flees from Italy to U.S. fearing for her safety: paper
October 27, 2019
by Giselda Vagnoni
Reuters
ROME (Reuters) – A former U.S. spy, pardoned by Italy in connection with the CIA kidnapping of a terrorism suspect in Milan, has fled from Italy to the United States fearing for her safety, Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera on Sunday quoted her as saying.
Sabrina de Sousa is one of 26 people convicted by Italy in absentia over the 2003 abduction of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, but the only one to spend any time in prison for the operation, in which she denies involvement.
De Sousa was still due to carry out community service in Italy until next year after the Italian president commuted her four-year prison sentence but she decided to flee the country after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel visited Rome in October, Il Corriere said.
“I was terrified of the consequences that I could face,” the dual Portuguese-U.S. citizen was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
“The arrival of Haspel in Italy confirmed to the Italian government that the U.S. administration had washed its hands of my case,” she added, without elaborating.
Pompeo visited Italy at the beginning of October, while Haspel met Italy’s secret service heads in Rome on Oct. 9, according to Italian media. So far, no connection between the meetings and the De Sousa case has been reported.
Andrea Saccucci, an Italian lawyer who has submitted an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of De Sousa, confirmed on Sunday that his client had left Italy but could not explain why De Sousa had returned to the United States despite her fears about the U.S. administration.
“She only told me that she is now in the States,” Saccucci told Reuters.
Il Corriere quoted De Sousa as saying that “thanks to the recent changes to the Whistleblower Act” she could reveal further details on the case.
The kidnapping of Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was part of a CIA “extraordinary rendition” program to snatch terrorism suspects in various countries and transfer them in secret to undergo interrogation in third countries.
The cleric said he was tortured after being transferred to Egypt under the program, an aspect of President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” that drew condemnation from human rights groups and even some U.S. allies.
De Sousa has always claimed her innocence, saying she was not in Milan on the day of the abduction and did not plan the kidnap.
Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Dale Hudson

All the President’s Women review: Donald Trump, sexual predator
Barry Levine, formerly of the National Enquirer, and Monique el-Faizy are well placed to write this alarming book
October 27, 2019
by Lloyd Green
The Guardian
Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy parachute into the netherworld of weaponized libido that is the life of the 45th president. Salaciousness abounds. Their book is lurid, informative and aptly subtitled “Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator”.
Fortunately for us, the authors bring unique expertise. Levine is a former executive editor of the National Enquirer. According to the investigative reporter Ronan Farrow, Trump’s secrets were stashed in a safe in Levine’s office until they were shredded in December 2016 – a claim the Enquirer denies. El-Faizy is the author of God and Country, which examined the rise of the evangelical community in the aftermath of George W Bush’s 2004 re-election.
All the President’s Women is breezy but heavy. Unlike Stormy Daniels’ 2018 bestseller Full Disclosure, none of it is entertaining. Not surprisingly, the White House declined multiple opportunities to rebut the book’s contentions.
It takes us from Trump’s days growing up in Queens to his arrival in the Oval Office and chronicles everything in between, mommy and daughter issues included. Much has been heard before, some is aired for the first time, little is pleasant, plenty is disturbing.
The book rests upon firsthand interviews, transcripts and prior reports. It also contains a detailed appendix that lays out its sources. Said differently, if you can actually believe Barack Obama is a crypto-Muslim born in Kenya to a cocaine-addled Martian, then opting in to at least 50% of All the President’s Women should be a no-brainer.
Court records abound. It is not just the authors’ word or a birth certificate. Think Summer Zervos, Michael Cohen and “Individual-1” for starters.
Despite all Trump’s protestations and legal maneuvers, the lawsuit commenced in New York by Zervos, a one-time Apprentice contestant who was allegedly manhandled and defamed, proceeds apace. Since the case began in early 2017, the defendant has never submitted a sworn statement denying the substance of the complaint.
In March 2019, a New York appeals court gave its greenlight for Zervos’s action to continue. Earlier this month the trial court set a 6 December discovery cut-off, with the possibility of Trump being deposed.
Practically speaking, don’t bet on it. Like Bill Clinton before him, Trump will probably continue to assert that a sitting president cannot be sued, an argument rejected by the supreme court when Clinton squared off against Paula Jones. It is also possible Trump will claim that being deposed while being impeached is more than one man should be forced to bear. There, he may have a point.
More ominously for Trump, on Thursday Zervos filed a motion with the court that outlined a series of sexual assaults in late 2007 allegedly perpetrated by Trump. For good measure, the results of a polygraph are included. According to Zervos, in one instance Trump “began kissing” her “very aggressively”, then pawed at her. Zervos also attached portions of Trump’s calendar. Barron Trump, the president’s son with Melania, was less than two years old at the time.
On top of that, there is Cohen’s guilty plea that essentially paints the president AKA “Individual-1” as an unindicted co-conspirator in a campaign finance scheme to keep Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model (“Woman-1”), and Daniels, a porn star (“Woman-2”), out of the headlines. The plan worked well enough. The two women were neither seen nor heard until the presidential race was over.
Among the book’s more questionable vignettes is a story of a younger Trump, nearly 40 years ago, frequenting a sex club maintained by the mob and pursuing a threesome with a porn star and a young girl. The authors have failed to find the two women or a possible black-and-white tape.
Beyond that, the building in question has since been demolished and the mob kingpin behind the club was purportedly whacked in 1986. The sole eyewitness is named John Tino, and his rap sheet includes convictions for larceny, fraud and forgery.
Yet Trump’s forays into construction and casinos, his nexus to organized crime and his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein together confer a patina of plausibility on a tale that would otherwise be close to nonexistent. The authors stand by Tino.
The book also raises the possibility Trump may have left in his wake more than a few terminated pregnancies. David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer prize winner and a Trump biographer, is quoted as saying that several “name-brand” women had pregnancies and abortions courtesy of Trump. Johnston adds: “I don’t have the medical records to prove it, but they’ve told girlfriends about it.” No names are listed.
All the President’s Women also examines evangelical support for Trump and Trump’s religious life. One source is quoted as saying evangelical backing stems from Trump’s judicial selections. Another attributes it to the loss of “Protestant privilege in America”.
On that score, Pew Research recently announced: “In US, Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace”. Just over two in five Americans are Protestants and evangelical Protestantism is now the dominant branch. At the same time, the religiously unaffiliated comprise more than a quarter of the country.
Potentially more telling is that Paula White, a preacher of the prosperity gospel, has emerged as Trump’s personal pastor. White’s take on immigration and Scripture: Jesus “did live in Egypt for three and a half years. But it was not illegal. If He had broken the law then He would have been sinful and He would not have been our Messiah.” Good to know.
White is a resident of Trump Park Avenue, a condominium in Manhattan’s Lenox Hill neighborhood. In 2018, Omarosa Manigault Newman, formerly of The Apprentice and the White House, asked if White’s position as Trump’s spiritual adviser “had ever been missionary”? Levine and El-Faizy don’t go there. Instead, they look to White as a character witness.
It is unlikely All the President’s Women will change many, if any, minds about Trump. He was never viewed by anyone as a boy scout. Each half of the US sees what it wants. If Trump is brought down, it won’t be by his zipper.

Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies
The president’s businesses made themselves appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials. One expert calls the differing numbers “versions of fraud.”
October 16, 2019
by Heather Vogell
ProPublica
Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.
For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.
Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013.
A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”
New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.”
The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate.
“Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor’s office, I would want to ask a lot more questions,” said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey who is now a professor at New York University School of Law.
Trump has previously been accused of manipulating numbers on his tax and loan documents, including by his former lawyer, Cohen. But Trump’s business is notoriously opaque, with records rarely surfacing, and up till now there’s been little documentary evidence supporting those claims.
That’s one reason that multiple governmental entities, including two congressional committees and the office of the Manhattan district attorney, have subpoenaed Donald Trump’s tax returns. Trump has resisted, taking his battles to federal courts in Washington and New York. And so the question of whether different parts of the government can see the president’s financial information is now playing out in two appeals courts and seems destined to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Add to that a Washington Post account of an IRS whistleblower claiming political interference in the handling of the president’s audit, and the result is what amounts to frenetic interest in one person’s tax returns.
ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.
ProPublica reviewed records for four properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and Trump Tower. Discrepancies involving two of them — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — stood out.
There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.”
The Trump Organization did not respond on the record to detailed questions provided by ProPublica. Robert Pollack, a lawyer whose firm, Marcus & Pollack, handles Trump’s property tax appeal filings with the city, said he was not authorized to discuss the documents. A spokeswoman for Mazars USA, the accounting firm that signed off on the two properties’ expense and income statements, said the firm does not comment on its work for clients. Executives with Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, declined to be quoted for the story.
In response to ProPublica’s questions about the disparities, Laura Feyer, deputy press secretary for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, “The city is looking into this property, and if there has been any underreporting, we will take appropriate action.”Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies
The president’s businesses made themselves appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials. One expert calls the differing numbers “versions of fraud.”
by Heather Vogell Oct. 16
Taxes have long been a third rail for Trump. Long before he famously declined to make his personal returns public, a New York Times investigation concluded, Trump participated in tax schemes that involved “outright fraud,” and that he had formulated “a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns.” Trump’s former partners in Panama claimed in a lawsuit, which is ongoing, that Trump’s hotel management company failed to pay taxes on millions in fees it received. Spokespeople for Trump and his company have denied any tax improprieties in the past.
In February, Cohen told Congress that Trump had adjusted figures up or down, as necessary, to obtain loans and avoid taxes. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” Cohen testified, “and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”
The two Trump buildings with the most notable discrepancies shared a financial trait: Both were refinanced in 2015 and 2016 while Trump was campaigning for president. The loan for 40 Wall Street — $160 million — was then the Trump Organization’s biggest debt.
The fortunes of 40 Wall Street have risen and fallen repeatedly since it was constructed in 1930. Once briefly in the running to become the world’s tallest skyscraper (before being eclipsed by the Chrysler Building and then others), the 71-story landmark had an illustrious history before falling into disrepair as it changed hands multiple times.
Trump says in his book “Never Give Up” that he took over 40 Wall Street for $1 million during a down market in 1995. Others have reported the price as $10 million. Trump gave the property his signature treatment, decking out the lobby in Italian marble and bronze and christening it “The Trump Building.” Tenants such as American Express moved in.
But the rent rolls suffered when big-name tenants fled to Midtown in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. Less blue-chip operations replaced them. In recent years, there were more setbacks. About two years ago, for example, high-end food purveyor Dean & Deluca canceled plans to locate an 18,500-square-foot emporium on the higher-priced first floor. The space remains empty.
The building at 40 Wall was underperforming, charging below-market rents, according to credit-rating agency Moody’s. Its profits were lagging.
Trump’s company, which has sometimes struggled to obtain credit because of his history of bankruptcies and defaults, turned for relief to a financial institution where Donald Trump had a connection: Ladder Capital, which employs Jack Weisselberg, the son of the Trump Organization’s longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg. Ladder is a publicly traded commercial real estate investment trust that reports more than $6 billion in assets. In 2015, and still today, Jack Weisselberg was an executive director whose job was to make loans.
Trump and Jack Weisselberg had history together. Jack was at UBS, in its loan origination department, in 2006, when the Swiss bank loaned Trump $7 million for his piece of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Allen Weisselberg had bought a condo from Trump in one of his buildings for a below-market price of $152,500 in 2000. He deeded it to Jack three years later for about $148,000. Jack sold the unit for more than three times as much in 2006. (Jack Weisselberg declined to comment on Ladder’s loans or his relationship with the Trump Organization.)
Even with a sympathetic lender, the struggles at 40 Wall Street would normally raise questions. Trump’s representatives needed to demonstrate signs of the building’s financial health if they wanted a new loan with a lower interest rate.
They had a compelling piece of data, it seemed. Trump’s team told Ladder that occupancy was rebounding after registering a lackluster 58.9% on Dec. 31, 2012. Since then, Trump representatives reported, the building had signed new tenants. Income from them hadn’t fully been realized yet, largely because of free-rent deals, they said. But after 2015, they predicted, revenues would surge.
“That’s a selling point for people in the business,” said Riordan, who was previously the executive director of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate. Borrowers “want to show tremendous leasing momentum.” The steepness of such a rise in occupancy at the Trump building was unusual, Riordan and other experts said.
Documents submitted to city property tax officials show no such run-up. Trump representatives reported to the tax authorities that the building was already 81% leased in 2012.
“What is bizarre is that you have these tax filings that are totally different,” Riordan said. A gap of at least 10 percentage points between the two occupancy reports persisted for the next two years, before the figures in the tax and loan reports synced in January 2016.
The portrayal of a rapid rise in occupancy, and the explanation that income would soon follow, were critical for the refinancing. Indeed, Ladder’s underwriters were predicting that 40 Wall Street’s profits would more than double after 2015. Having reviewed Trump’s financial statements and rent roll, they estimated the building would clear $22.6 million a year in net operating income.
Ladder needed credit ratings agencies like Moody’s and Fitch to endorse its income expectations and give the loan a favorable rating, which would in turn make it easier for the next step of the plan: to package the loan as part of a bond, a so-called commercial mortgage-backed security, and sell it to investors. Without the expected rise in income, Riordan said, the loan size or terms would likely have needed to be renegotiated to satisfy the ratings agencies and investors, which would mean less favorable terms for Trump and Ladder. “There was a story crafted here,” Riordan said. “It’s contradicted by what we see in the tax filings.”
Wallace, the University of California professor, added: “Especially in underwriting loans, you are supposed to truthfully report.” Both the lender and the borrower are required to supply accurate information, she said.
Moody’s and Fitch analysts found the underwriter’s projections slightly too rosy, but Fitch conferred an investment-grade rating on the loan, allowing it to proceed as planned. Trump ultimately received a 10-year loan with a lower interest rate than the building previously had as well as terms that would allow him to defer paying off much of the principal until the end of the loan.
Once granted, the loan to 40 Wall Street ran into trouble: The year after it went through, the loan servicer put it on a “watch list” because of concerns that the building wasn’t making sufficient profit to pay the debt service with enough of a margin. It stayed on the list for three months. (Trump’s company has continued making payments.)
As of 2018, the most recent year available, the building had never met the underwriters’ profit expectations, trailing by more than 8%, according to data from commercial real estate research service Trepp. Experts say that, given the amount of research underwriters do, a property typically meets their expectations fairly quickly.
The 40 Wall Street documents contain discrepancies related to costs as well as to occupancy. Generally, there are “more opportunities to play games on the expense side,” said Ron Shapiro, an assistant professor at Rutgers Business School and a former bank senior vice president, “particularly because there are many more kinds of expenses.”
Comparing specific expense items in both sets of records is challenging, because accountants may group categories differently in reports to tax and loan officials. But some differences on 40 Wall Street documents elicit head-scratching.
For example, insurance costs in 2017 were listed as $744,521 in tax documents and $457,414 in loan records.
Then there was the underlying lease. Trump technically doesn’t own 40 Wall Street. He pays the wealthy German family that owns the property for the right to rent the building to tenants. In 2015, both Trump’s report to tax authorities and a key loan disclosure document asserted that Trump’s company paid $1.65 million for these rights that year. But a line-by-line income and expense statement, which Trepp gathered from what the company reported to the loan servicer, reported the company paid about $1.24 million that year.
“I don’t know why that would be off,” said Jason Hoffman, who is chair of the real estate committee for a professional association of certified public accountants in New York state. Like other experts, he said there are legitimate reasons why tax and loan filings might not line up perfectly. But Hoffman said the firm where he works makes sure the numbers match when it prepares both tax and loan documents for a client — or that it can explain why if they don’t.
Financial information for the Trump International Hotel and Tower raises similar questions. Trump owns only a small portion of the building, which is located on Columbus Circle: two commercial spaces, which he rents out to a restaurant and a parking garage. Trump’s company told New York City tax officials it made about $822,000 renting space to commercial tenants there in 2017, records show. The company told loan officials it took in $1.67 million that year — more than twice as much. In eight years of data ProPublica examined for the Columbus Circle property, Trump’s company reported gross income to tax authorities that was typically only about 81% of what it reported to the lender.
Trump appeared to omit from tax documents income his company received from leasing space on the roof for television antennas, a ProPublica review found. The line on tax appeal forms for income from such communications equipment is blank on nine years of tax filings, even as loan documents listed the antennas as major sources of income.
Trump has an easement to lease the roof space; he doesn’t own it. But three tax experts, including Melanie Brock, an appraiser and paralegal who has worked on hundreds of New York City tax cases, told ProPublica that the income should still be reported on the tax appeals forms.
It’s hard to guess what might explain every inconsistency, said David Wilkes, a New York City tax lawyer who is chair of the National Association of Property Tax Attorneys. But, he added, “My gut reaction is it seems like there’s something amiss there.”
Tax records for Trump personally and for his business continue to be subjects of contention in multiple investigations. The Justice Department has intervened in the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, whose office has sought Trump’s personal tax returns. Congressional lawmakers investigating his business dealings have sought documents from his longtime accountant, Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars. Trump is fighting the subpoenas in court. (Bender did not respond to requests for comment.)
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has said the committee is seeking to determine if Cohen’s testimony about Trump inflating and deflating his assets was accurate. Cummings asked for Mazars’ records related to Trump entities, as well as communications between Bender and Trump or Trump employees since 2009.
Such communications, the subpoena stated, should include any related to potential concerns that information Trump or his representatives provided his accountants was “incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise unsatisfactory.”

Bad Mortgage originators
October 27, 2019
Mortgage lenders contributed to the financial crisis by issuing or underwriting loans to people who would have a difficult time paying them back, inflating a housing bubble that was bound to pop. Lax regulation allowed banks to stretch their mortgage lending standards and use aggressive tactics to rope borrowers into complex mortgages that were more expensive than they first appeared. Evidence has also surfaced that lenders were filing fraudulent documents to push some of these mortgages through, and, in some cases, had been doing so as early as the 1990s. A 2005 Los Angeles Times investigation of Ameriquest – then the nation’s largest subprime lender – found that “they forged documents, hyped customers’ creditworthiness and ‘juiced’ mortgages with hidden rates and fees.” This behavior was reportedly typical for the subprime mortgage industry. A similar culture existed at Washington Mutual, which went under in 2008 in the biggest bank collapse in U.S. history.
Countrywide, once the nation’s largest mortgage lender, also pushed customers to sign on for complex and costly mortgages that boosted the company’s profits. Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo was accused of misleading investors about the company’s mortgage lending practices, a charge he denies. Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank both purchased subprime mortgage lending outfits in 2006 to get in on the lucrative business. Deutsche Bank has also been accused of failing to adequately check on borrowers’ financial status before issuing loans backed by government insurance. A lawsuit filed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara claimed that, when employees at Deutsche Bank’s mortgage received audits on the quality of their mortgages from an outside firm, they stuffed them in a closet without reading them. A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman said the claims being made against the company are “unreasonable and unfair,” and that most of the problems occurred before the mortgage unit was bought by Deutsche Bank.
Where they are now: Few prosecutions have been brought against subprime mortgage lenders. Ameriquest went out of business in 2007, and Citigroup bought its mortgage lending unit. Washington Mutual was bought by JP Morgan in 2008. A Department of Justice investigation into alleged fraud at WaMu closed with no charges this summer. WaMu also recently settled a class action lawsuit brought by shareholders for $208.5 million. In an ongoing lawsuit, the FDIC is accusing former Washington Mutual executives Kerry Killinger, Stephen Rotella and David Schneider of going on a “lending spree, knowing that the real-estate market was in a ‘bubble.’ ” They deny the allegations.
Bank of America purchased Countrywide in January of 2008, as delinquencies on the company’s mortgages soared and investors began pulling out. Mozilo left the company after the sale. Mozilo settled an SEC lawsuit for $67.5 million with no admission of wrongdoing, though he is now banned from serving as a top executive at a public company. A criminal investigation into his activities fizzled out earlier this year. Bank of America invited several senior Countrywide executives to stay on and run its mortgage unit. Bank of America Home Loans does not make subprime mortgage loans. Deutsche Bank is still under investigation by the Justice Department.
Mortgage securitizers
In the years before the crash, banks took subprime mortgages, bundled them together with prime mortgages and turned them into collateral for bonds or securities, helping to seed the bad mortgages throughout the financial system. Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and others were securitizing mortgages as well as originating them. Other companies, such as Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Goldman Sachs, bought mortgages straight from subprime lenders, bundled them into securities and sold them to investors including pension funds and insurance companies.
Where they are now: This spring, New York’s Attorney General launched a probe into mortgage securitization at Bank of America, JP Morgan, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley during the housing boom. Morgan Stanley settled with Nevada’s Attorney General following an investigation into problems with the securitization process.
As part of a proposed settlement with the 50 state attorneys general over foreclosure abuses, several big banks were offered immunity from charges related to improper mortgage origination and securitization. California and New York have withdrawn from those talks .
The people who created and dealt CDOs
Once mortgages had been bundled into mortgage-backed securities, other bankers took groups of them and bundled them together into new financial products called Collateralized Debt Obligations. CDOs are composed of tiers with different levels of risk. As we’ve reported, a hedge fund named Magnetar worked with banks to fill CDOs with the riskiest possible materials, then used credit default swaps to bet that they would fail. Magnetar says that the majority of its short positions were against CDOs it didn’t own. Magnetar also says it didn’t choose what went its own CDOs, though people involved in the deals who spoke to ProPublica contradict this account.
American International Group’s London-based financial products unit was among the entities that provided credit default swaps on CDOs. Though the business of insuring the risky securities made AIG large short-term profits, it eventually brought the company to the brink of collapse, prompting an $85 billion government bailout.
Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers and JPMorgan all made CDO deals with Magnetar. The hedge fund invested in 30 CDOs from the spring of 2006 to the summer of 2007. The bankers who worked on these deals almost always reaped hefty bonuses.
Even today, bankers and managers speak with awe at the elegance of the Magnetar Trade. Others have become famous for betting big against the housing market. But they had taken enormous risks. Meanwhile, Magnetar had created a largely self-funding bet against the market.
When banks found CDOs hard to sell, some of them, notably Merrill Lynch and Citibank, bought each other’s CDOs, creating the illusion of true investors when there were almost none. That was one way they kept the market for CDOs going longer than it otherwise would have. Eventually CDOs began purchasing risky parts of other CDOs created by the same bank. Take a look at our comic strip explaining self-dealing, and our chart detailing which banks bought their own CDOs.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley also made similar deals in which they created, then bet against, risky CDOs. The hedge fund Paulson & Co helped decide which assets to put inside Goldman’s CDOs.
Where they are now: Overall, the banks and individuals involved in CDO deals haven’t been convicted on criminal charges. The civil suits against them have produced fines that aren’t very big compared to the profits they made in the leadup to the financial crisis. JP Morgan paid $153.6 million to settle an SEC suit alleging they hadn’t disclosed to investors that Magnetar was betting against Morgan’s CDO. Citigroup just agreed to pay a $285 million fine to the SEC for betting against one of its mortgage-related CDOs. The lawsuit doesn’t mention dozens of similar deals made by Citi.
Magnetar is still thriving (the deals they made weren’t illegal according to the rules at the time). In 2007, Magnetar’s founder took home $280 million, and the fund had $7.6 billion under management. The SEC is considering banning hedge funds and banks from betting against securities of their own creation. As of May 2010, federal prosecutors were investigating Morgan Stanley over their CDO deals, and Goldman Sachs paid $550 million to settle a lawsuit related to one of theirs. Only one Goldman employee, Fabrice Tourre, has been charged criminally in connection to the deals.
Though recorded phone calls suggest that former AIG CEO Joseph Cassano misled investors about the credit default swaps that contributed to his company’s troubles, the evidence wasn’t airtight, and federal probes against him fell apart in 2010. Cassano’s lawyers deny any wrongdoing.
The ratings agencies
Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch gave their highest rating to investments based on risky mortgages in the years leading up to the financial crisis. A Senate investigations panel found that S&P and Moody’s continued doing so even as the housing market was collapsing. An SEC report also found failures at 10 credit rating agencies.
Where they are now: The SEC is considering suing Standard and Poor’s over one particular CDO deal linked to the hedge fund Magnetar. The agency had previously considered suing Moody’s, but instead issued a report criticizing all of the rating agencies generally. Dodd-Frank created a regulatory body to oversee the credit rating agencies, but its development has been stalled by budgetary constraints.
The regulators
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded that the Securities and Exchange Commission failed to crack down on risky lending practices at banks and make them keep more substantial capital reserves as a buffer against losses. They also found that the Federal Reserve failed to stop the housing bubble by setting prudent mortgage lending standards, though it was the one regulator that had the power to do so.
An internal SEC audit faulted the agency for missing warning signs about the poor financial health of some of the banks it monitored, particularly Bear Stearns.Overall, SEC enforcement actions went down under the leadership of Christopher Cox, and a 2009 GAO report found that he increased barriers to launching probes and levying fines.
Cox wasn’t the only regulator who resisted using his power to rein in the financial industry. The former head of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, reportedly refused to heighten scrutiny of the subprime mortgage market. Greenspan later said before Congress that it was a mistake to presume that financial firms’ own rational self-interest would serve as an adequate regulator. He has also said he doubts the financial crisis could have been prevented.
The Office of Thrift Supervision, which was tasked with overseeing savings and loan banks, also helped to scale back their own regulatory powers in the years before the financial crisis. In 2003 James Gilleran and John Reich, then heads of the OTS and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation respectively, brought a chainsaw to a press conference as an indication of how they planned to cut back on regulation. The OTS was known for being so friendly with the banks — which it referred to as its “clients” — that Countrywide reorganized its operations so it could be regulated by OTS. As we’ve reported, the regulator failed to recognize serious signs of trouble at AIG, and didn’t disclose key information about IndyMac’s finances in the years before the crisis. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversaw the biggest commercial banks, also went easy on the banks .
Where they are now: Christopher Cox stepped down in 2009 under public pressure . The OTS was dissolved this summer and its duties assumed by the OCC. As we’ve noted, the head of the OCC has been advocating to weaken rules set out by the Dodd Frank financial reform law. The Dodd Frank law gives the SEC new regulatory powers , including the ability to bring lawsuits in administrative courts, where the rules are more favorable to them.
The politicians
Two bills supported by Phil Gramm and signed into law by Bill Clinton created many of the conditions for the financial crisis to take place. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 repealed all the remaining parts of Glass-Steagall, allowing firms to participate in traditional banking, investment banking, and insurance at the same time. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act, passed the year after, deregulated over-the-counter derivatives – securities like CDOs and credit default swaps, that derive their value from underlying assets and are traded directly between two parties rather than through a stock exchange. Greenspan and Robert Rubin, Treasury Secretary from 1995 to 1999, had both opposed regulating derivatives. Lawrence Summers, who went on to succeed Rubin as Treasury Secretary, also testified before the Senate that derivatives shouldn’t be regulated.
It’s worth noting the substantial lobbying efforts that accompanied the deregulation process. According to the FCIC, between 1999 and 2008 the financial industry spent $2.7 billion lobbying the federal government, and donated more than $1 billion to political campaigns. While deregulation took place mainly under Clinton’s watch, George W. Bush is faulted for not doing more to catch the out-of-control housing market.
As president of the New York Fed from 2003 to 2009, Timothy Geithner also missed opportunities to prevent major financial firms from self-destructing. As we reported in 2009:
Although Geithner repeatedly raised concerns about the failure of banks to understand their risks, including those taken through derivatives, he and the Federal Reserve system did not act with enough force to blunt the troubles that ensued. That was largely because he and other regulators relied too much on assurances from senior banking executives that their firms were safe and sound.
Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary from 2006 to 2009, has been criticized for being slow to respond to the crisis, and introducing greater uncertainty into the financial markets by letting Lehman Brothers fail. In a 2008 New York Times interview, Paulson said he had no choice.
Where they are now: Gramm has been a vice chairman at UBS since he left Congress in 2002. Greenspan is retired. Summers served as a top economic advisor to Barack Obama until November 2010; since then, he’s been teaching at Harvard. Geithner is currently serving as Treasury Secretary under the Obama administration.
Executives of big investment banks
Executives at the big banks also took actions that contributed to the destruction of their own firms. According to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report , the executives of the country’s five major investment banks — Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley – kept such small cushions of capital at the banks that they were extremely vulnerable to losses. A report compiled by an outside examiner for Lehman Brothers found that the company was hiding its bad investments off the books, and Lehman’s former CEO Richard S. Fuld Jr. signed off on the false balance sheets. Fuld had testified before Congress two years before that the actions he took prior to Lehman Brothers’ collapse “were both prudent and appropriate” based on what he knew at the time. Other banks also kept billions in potential liabilities off their balance sheets, including Citigroup, headed by Vikram Pandit.
In 2010, we detailed how a group of Merrill Lynch executives helped blow up their own company by retaining supposedly safe – but actually extremely risky – portions of the CDOs they created, paying a unit within the firm to buy them when almost no one else would.
The New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson described how the administrative decisions of some top Merrill executives helped put the company in a precarious position, based on interviews with former employees.
Where they are now: In 2009, two Bear Stearns hedge fund managers were cleared of fraud charges over allegedly lying to investors. A probe of Lehman Brothers stalled this spring . Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America in the fall of 2008. As for the executives who helped crash the firm, as we reported in 2010 , “they walked away with millions. Some still hold senior positions at prominent financial firms.” Dick Fuld is still working on Wall Street, at an investment banking firm . Vikram Pandit remains the CEO of Citigroup.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
The government-sponsored mortgage financing companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought risky mortgages and guaranteed them. In 2007, 28 percent of Fannie Mae’s loans were bought from Countrywide. The FCIC found that Fannie and Freddie entered the subprime game too late and on too limited a scale to have caused the financial crisis. Non-agency-securitized loans had an increased share of the market in the years immediately preceding the crisis.
Many believe that The Community Reinvestment Act, a government policy promoting homeownership for low-income people, was responsible for the growth of the subprime mortgage industry. This idea has largely been discredited, since most subprime loans were made by companies that weren’t subject to the act.
Still, Fannie and Freddie engaged in reckless behavior and sustained heavy losses as a result. The SEC slammed Fannie Mae for improper accounting under the leadership of Frank Raines in the years preceding the financial crisis. A report by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight found that Fannie and Freddie didn’t accurately disclose the risks they were taking and “deliberately and intentionally manipulat[ed] accounting to hit earnings targets.”
Richard Syron and Daniel Mudd were at the helm of Freddie and Fannie, respectively, when they began to buy large numbers of subprime loans. Current and former Freddie Mac employees have accused Syron of ignoring warnings nabout the health of the loans the company was buying. Syron and Mudd maintain they could not have foreseen the rapid decline in the housing market.
Where they are now: As borrowers defaulted on mortgages they’d insured, Fannie and Freddie received a nearly $200 billion federal government bailout, and the government took over their operations. They are close to a settlement in an SEC lawsuit, and will neither admit nor deny that they failed to inform investors about risks of exposure to subprime mortgages. The Dodd Frank financial reform law stated that serious reforms of Fannie and Freddie are needed, but didn’t address how they should be carried out. A report from Treasury Secretary Geithner called for the government to “ultimately wind down” the two mortgage giants. In the meantime, taxpayers have been shouldering their legal fees. Former Freddie and Fannie executives Richard Syron and Daniel Mudd received Wells notices this spring, a sign that the SEC is considering legal action against them.

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
October 27, 2019
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 publication.

Conversation No. 50
Date, Friday, November 29, 1996
Commenced: 11:20 AM CST
Concluded: 11:55 AM CST

GD: How are you doing today, Robert?
RTC: Had a bad night, Gregory. Couldn’t get to sleep and then dozed off about five. Not a good night.
GD: Take sleeping pills?
RTC: I don’t like to start with things like that. You can get addicted to them so I just put up with it and I will take a nap after lunch. That will help. How are you today?
GD: I’m OK. Been working on the latest Müller book and I got bogged down. When that happens, you have to just stop everything and walk away for a while.
RTC: How is the book coming?
GD: Making it, Robert. Publisher tells me the first book is doing very well.
RTC: Any negative comments?
GD: Not to him.
RTC: Oh, there are some unhappy people back here. The rumors are out that you might do another book so I would be careful talking about its contents to anyone.
GD: Corson and Kimmel have been very interested.
RTC: That’s what I mean. Don’t tell either one of them a damned word.
GD: No, the more curious people get, the less I say. I know Tom is with the FBI so, naturally, I only engage in light conversations with him and Bill is too curious to suit me.
RTC: Bill like to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds, if you follow me.
GD: Yes. Typical.
RTC: Müller died in ’83, didn’t he?
GD: Yes. Buried in Oakland.
RTC: Buried under his Company name?
GD: No, his real one.
RTC: He sold paintings for us, as I remember.
GD: Oh, yes he did. Your people took over looted Nazi art from the Army after the war and then you know what happened to it.
RTC: Yes, of course. We sold it for profit and if we had any trouble with previous owners, we simply terminated them. Mostly hysterical Jews screaming about this or that but eventually, they were dealt with and business went on.
GD: Heini told me he took in millions.
RTC: Oh, yes, he did. Some of it we used for off the books operations, like snuffing Diem and other nasty businesses and the rest ended up in private hands, let us say.
GD: Well, I recall the beautiful Raphael hanging up in Heini’s office. A fruity looking fellow in a white shirt. It apparently came from a collection in Warsaw along with a Leonardo. The Leonardo was found and sent back but the Raphael ended up with the Gestapo and Heini hid it and later went back for it. Of course he could never sell it but it looked so nice in his home. I can imagine the howls of rage if the Polacks found out about it.
RTC: Yes, indeed. God, how many such scenes we had to take care of.
GD: Terminate with extreme prejudice?
RTC: No, that term is used for in-house problems. Like the unfortunate fellow who shot himself in the back of the head and jumped off his little boat with weights on his feet. Things like that.
GD: And Olson?
RTC: Well, he was potential trouble so he did a full gainer out of a hotel window. It wasn’t the long fall that did him in, Gregory, but that sudden stop at the bottom.
GD: Müller told me about that. He said unwanted people like Forrestal rained down all over Washington until he introduced the heart attack drug. He used to feel sorry for people down below. I mean, some woman taking mail to the corner box gets an unwanted individual landing on top of her. Or imagine someone just bought a new Packard and there is a huge mess on their crushed roof and brains splattered all over the rest of the car. No, Heini was right about the heart attacks. Much more plausible and certainly less messy.
RTC: I agree.
GD: Diem?
RTC: Oh that business. I was on the inside with that one. What a mess but typical. Diem and his brother ran Vietnam and were trying to kill off the Buddhists. Kennedy had no idea what was going on over there and was waffling about pouring American troops into the country. The Diem family were crooked as hell and very, very nasty and demanding. Thee were two camps here, Gregory. The first one wanted a major effort there to stop Communism dead in its tracks and the other felt that such actions would become a bottomless pit.
GD: In the event, they were right.
RTC: Yes, but that is now, based on hindsight, but at the time, no one knew just what to do. We were technically only advising Diem. We had a deal with the French, at least the Company did, to support any régime that would protect their interest there. Lots of rubber and there was also untapped oil fields offshore. Jack was an idealist at times and got pulled this way and that. I mean we felt that a strong military presence there was good. We could use that country as a base of operations to expand into Laos and other areas but we had to act like we were supporting the democratic movements in Saigon. Diem was a vicious dictator and was surrounded with totally corrupt officials so he was not a good image for us. After we talked about it somewhat, it was decided to get rid of him and his brother and put in new people. We talked with dissident generals and pretty well set up a putsch. The idea was not to run him out of the country but to kill both of them and set an example for others.
GD: Was Kennedy in on it?
RTC: OF course, he knew in advance. We tarted it up and he went for it. But kept waffling this way and that so we just told the generals to go ahead. They grabbed the two of them and chopped them both up with bayonets in the back on an armored car. I personally told our people there that it ought to be done and the bodies tossed out on the street as an example to others.
GD: Admiral Byng.
RTC: Yes, just so. Kennedy was presented with a fiat and went along.
GD: And what about the usual Congressional investigations?
RTC: We did what we always do, Gregory. Private talks with key people on the hill and the whole thing is rigged from the beginning.
GD: You told them the truth?
RTC: Oh, be a realist here. Of course not. We lie to Congress and the White House every day. We know so much about all of them, just like old Hoover did, that they shut up and we have our people at the New York Times write things up the way we wish. And then the public goes off and watches a football game and opens another beer.
GD: Could any of this ever get out?
RTC: No. Say some gung ho reporter wants to do a story on how we killed Diem or something else like that. We would hear about it at once because we have our people in all the major papers and television offices so we would get the word right away. The usual drill is to call up the editor and have a talk with him and the reporter gets assigned to inspect whale shit somewhere.
GD: And if he gets too curious or won’t give up?
RTC: There’s always the heart attack or the road accident.
GD: Of falling out of the window.
RTC: Not much of that anymore. As you say, too messy.
GD: Heini used to off them and then turn up the heat in their house until they got really ripe.
RTC: Not personally?
GD: No, he used Arno to off people. Arno is a real jewel. He’s a Lutheran minister at the present time but Heini told me once that Arno loved the knife and some of his victims looked like something Picasso would have painted
RTC: (Laughter) Yes, well, we had some of those too.
GD: I recall the Diem business. That was the turning point over there. The hawks won out.
RTC: What a mess that was, Gregory. Now mind you, I felt that Diem just would not listen to us and was causing such bad publicity here by his undemocratic behavior that I really don’t think we had much of a choice. Kennedy was a twit and proved to be so unreliable in the business that we eventually decided he had to go too. Johnson would do what he was told but Kennedy was as independent as a hog on ice so onto the face of the fifty cent piece and into the hearts of all Americans. You won’t find Johnson on a coin but he put plenty of them into his pocket. Give me the crook over the idealist any time.
GD: I agree. Anyway, I am writing the art business up for the new book. They never took anything really big but all the small stuff fell through the cracks. Müller used to call it degenerate filth and that Hitler was right about it but I notice he never burnt any of the Klees or Picassos. You can get money for all of that and I find that money has such a soothing effect, Robert.
RTC: Yes, I believe it does. It is the root of all evil, after all.
GD: No, the actual Biblical quotation is that the love of money is the root of all evil.
RTC: One or the other.

(Concluded at 11:55 AM CST)
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

Encyclopedia of American Loons
Alfred Lambremont Webre

Alfred Lambremont Webre is an almost legendary UFO crank, 9/11 truther and conspiracy nut, and one of those people that really justify the existence of places like whale.to or Red Ice Creations. Webre claims to have been a co-architect of the Space Preservation Treaty and the Space Preservation Act, and is, with one Stephen Bassett, the co-drafter of the Citizen Hearing, a proposed public forum to create a fact-finding process surrounding extraterrestrial phenomena and alleged government suppression of such facts from the public. Of course, all the facts are ostensibly already on the table, but Webre would not in a million years accept facts that don’t line up with what he already “knows”. He is also on the Board of Advisers for the New Energy Movement, a free energy lunacy group, and congressional coordinator for The Disclosure Project (I am not completely sure what that is, but with Webre as a coordinator I sort of have some idea).
The brouhaha over his Wikipedia entry is rather illustrative. When it was proposed for deletion, Webre’s fans, well, went nuts (a figure of speech, of course – none of his fans were ever but), culminating in Webre’s own, pithy assessment of the situation: “My view is that Wikipedia’s action continues to be part of the CIA time travel controlled US Presidency’s retaliation against me for having exposed Soetoro/Obama’s participation in a 1980–83 secret CIA jumproom project.” Indeed, such is his view.
Not very surprisingly Webre thinks that the events of September 11, 2001, were a false flag operation, but he has his own spin. According to Webre the powers that be were employing secret exotic technologies developed by DARPA and CIA, including Tesla-based time travel that permitted Donald Rumsfeld to have images of the events at the World Trade Center on 9/11 30 years in advance in 1971. In 2006 he therefore submitted a Memorandum to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor under Article II of the US Constitution, the Treason Article. His time travel hypothesis has earned him the respect of a number of truthers through his participation at various truther conferences. He also participated in Joan Ocean’s 2011 Dolphins and Teleportation Symposium together with e.g. Andrew Basiago and Laura Magdalene Eisenhower, though the truthers rarely emphasize that.
Interestingly, Webre has enjoyed a rather impressive international career. Until Nov. 2010, Webre was – due to his impeccable credentials – an international war crimes correspondent for Iran’s PressTV. It was on Iran’s PressTV that he for instance accused Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for being an “out and out Zionist,” going on to describe a conspiracy between Vancouver police and serial killer Robert Pickton “to commit ritual Satanic murders with high-ranking politicians” and claiming that the Queen of England abducted 10 Aboriginal children in 1964 to have them killed. Concluding his comments, Webre described Canada as “the ultimate Zionist state under the British Crown and under Israel.”
He was also, it should be mentioned, a central participant at a 2007 conference in Kuala Lumpur as part of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s campaign to criminalize war and convict Bush and Blair of war crimes.
With one Dr. Carol Rosin he founded the Institute for Cooperation in Space (ICIS) in 2001, as an outgrowth of the previous ISCOS, Institute for Cooperation and Security in Space. Their mission is to educate decision-makers and others on why it is important to ban space weapons. With the help of former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the Space Preservation Act was originally introduced into the 107th Congress on October 2, 2001 (HR 2977) and included provisions banning “extraterrestrial” weapons, as well as chemtrails and “exotic weapons systems” such as HAARP. A revised Act was introduced to Congress in 2002. Webre himself apparently resigned from the Board of Directors of ICIS in 2011 to focus on a treaty to ban HAARP.
The reason why a ban on extraterrestrial weapons is important is, according to Webre, that although “we live in a populated universe,” Earth “has been quarantined.” Though “the quarantine was lifted in 1947, the year from which the UFO phenomenon began in full force around our planet,” according to Webre; “Earth’s humanity is not yet sufficiently evolved to be included in the universal society,” and the militarization of outer space by humans (who were “planted and cultivated here under the stewardship of more advanced societies”) is a main reason why the quarantine persists.
Webre has accordingly written a number of books on exopolitics, consistently taking a completely insane and evidence-free, speculative approach. In 2012, he launched ExoUniversity.org, an “educational” entity offering online courses on exo-sciences, psi-sciences, and exopolitics, with an Earth Day forum entitled “An Introduction to Time Travel with an Emphasis on Teleportation.” Indeed – though it seemed impossible – Webre’s claims seem to have gotten even more bizarre lately. In 2011, for instance, he launched a boycott (of Examiner.com, it seems) to protest the CIA coverup of president Obama’s trips to Mars (the US government apparently has a secret base there where they meet with aliens).
Diagnosis: Deranged, unhingedly delusional madman. Nevertheless, Webre has managed to garner a surprising level of political clout, and several people of power around the world, from Dennis Kucinich to the Iranian government, seem to take him very seriously, thus making him – against all odds – an exception among the whale.to crowd in having actual detrimental influence on society.

Patrick Marsh

Patrick Marsh is a former employee of Universal Studios and the design director for the Ark Encounter (Mike Zovath headed the management team; comprehensive description here), which is “a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible” in Kentucky and the subject of well-deserved, international mockery, partly since the resulting wooden box sort of piles on further evidence – if more were needed – that the Ark myth is, indeed, completely and utterly a myth. Although scientists have cataloged 1.3 million species of animals, the Ark Encounter figured that Noah could have brought on just 1,000 to 2,000 pairs to represent every animal “kind” (the pseudoscientific study of Biblical “kinds”, baraminology, is accordingly notable mostly for unintentionally providing further evidence for evolution). Of course, they don’t think too hard about e.g. insects or aquatic species, but neither does the target audience, presumably. The Ark Encounter was initially supposed to include a lot of other exhibits about antediluvian life, though those are apparently not yet in place.
Anyways, “[w]e’re basically presenting what the Bible has to say and showing how plausible it was,” says Marsh, which the encounter to some extent actually does, but not in the way Marsh intends, making Marsh’s assertion that “this was a real piece of history – not just a story, not just a legend” sound a bit desperate. According to Marsh the whole Ark encounter is really about evangelism to the unchurched: “the Bible is the only thing that gives you the full picture. Other religions don’t have that, and, as for scientists, so much of what they believe is pretty fuzzy about life and its origins.” Apparently, Marsh also wanted to show that early man was not primitive (he doesn’t believe in non-human hominid fossils). For instance, “Adam one of the most brilliant people that ever lived on this earth. In a very short period of time he named all of the animals that there were,” which assumes a non-standard interpretation of “brilliance”.
Apparently the Creation Museum itself was Marsh’s brainchild as well; the theme park (not a museum) was supposed to present the story of Creation as “faithful to scripture” as possible, except for that pesky thing about nudity in the Garden of Eden, which they wished weren’t there.
Diagnosis: Seriously crazy fundie. How much his theatrical theme parks will manage to sway those not already lost to seriously crazy fundamentalism is a different matter, however.

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