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TBR News September 17, 2019

Sep 17 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. September 17, 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.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for September 17 “It is reported that the drones that did so much damage to Saudi oil fields were launched from Iraq.

Given the chaos caused, do not doubt that there will be a reprise. And Iran has said that they have missiles and other weapons that could wreak terrible havoc with an invading fleet in the Persian Gulf.

Now that Bolton has returned to the half-way house, one wonders if Donald will again seek the advice and consul of rabid lunatics.

Remember, children, that he who touches pitch shall be defiled!”

 

The Table of Contents

  • The world ignored the warning signs – and now the Middle East is on the brink
  • ‘Locked and Loaded’ for War on Iran?
  • New York prosecutors subpoena eight years of Trump’s tax returns
  • Trump orders two ex-White House aides not to testify at House hearing on Tuesday
  • Ex-Trump campaign chief Lewandowski to testify at impeachment hearing
  • 27 reports of extremist activity by US service members over the past 5 years, DoD says
  • The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
  • FBI Surveillance of all U.S. Mail
  • The Enemy Within: An understanding of Islam
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

 The world ignored the warning signs – and now the Middle East is on the brink

Donald Trump’s hostility towards Iran and support for Saudi Arabia has made a delicate situation explosive

September 16, 2019

by Simon Tisdall

The Guardian

Like a furious maelstrom, roiled by opposing currents, the crisis in the Gulf gains in intensity and destructive power almost by the day. On Sunday, Donald Trump said the US was “locked and loaded”, ready to respond to attacks on an oil facility in Saudi Arabia, in which it believes Iran was involved. But warning bells, akin to those used to alert fog-bound mariners steering towards rocks, have been ringing out for months. They have mostly been ignored. The daunting bill for multiple acts of political insouciance, measured in lives and petrodollars, is now coming due.It’s easy and convenient to solely blame Iran, as American and British officials routinely do without conclusive evidence. Rather, it is serial western and regional miscalculations that have drawn us ineluctably into this dread vortex.

How can disaster be averted? Who can stop a slide into a wider war that could swiftly engulf regional states from Israel to Saudi Arabia, and drag in US, British and maybe even Russian forces? Clues can be found in the mistakes that led to this point. Answers, if they exist, will only come through informed statesmanship of the sort signally lacking so far.

Mention of which brings us, first, to Trump and Iran. Tehran’s regime has been viewed as a threat by the US since the 1979 revolution. But it was Trump, with his unrivalled ability to make bad situations worse, who ripped up the Iran nuclear deal on 8 May last year, imposed punitive economic sanctions, and sparked the immediate crisis. His enmity has hurt Iran’s citizens – but not the regime.

In erring so idiotically, Trump preferred the advice of his discredited former national security adviser, John Bolton, over the personal pleadings of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. He also gave short shrift to his chum Boris Johnson, then foreign secretary, who made a last-minute dash to Washington. A damaging rift with Europe over Iran began that day.

Iran’s fractious, fractured leadership rallied, improbably unified by Trump. Military and clerical hardliners are now taking the fight – a fight, as they see it, against regime change by the US – to their enemies, principally the Saudis and Israelis.

Old geopolitical faultlines were recklessly aggravated and inflamed. Any sensible policy would seek to balance the regional claims of Shia Muslim Iran and the Sunni house of Saud. But the west – turning a blind eye for decades to pitiless autocracy, legalised misogyny and religious bigotry – has continued to court Riyadh and its corrupting riches.

Here again Trump jumped in, making shockwaves. Not content to cement the Saudi alliance during his first overseas visit as president, Trump made crown prince Mohammed bin Salman his new best friend. When the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents, Trump turned defence attorney. He is even trying to sell Salman nuclear technology. What would you think, were you in Iran’s shoes?

The failure of US and British leaders, among others, to halt Salman’s disastrous war of choice in Yemen marked another stage in this downward spiral. Ignoring war crimes and what the UN calls a worst-in-the-world humanitarian catastrophe, they continue to peddle arms, advice and diplomatic cover for Riyadh.

When the Yemen civil war began in 2015, there was scant evidence of active Iranian military support for the Houthi rebels. Yet now, reacting opportunistically to US attrition, Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards are apparently supplying – directly or indirectly – the drones, missiles and limpet mines used to attack Saudi oil fields, airfields and tankers.

What a result. Let’s presume to question the US’s chief diplomat, Mike Pompeo, about this extraordinary own goal. Hey, Mike, how do you turn a disagreement into a war? His answer: punch your opponent into a corner from which he cannot escape. What did Trump, Bolton and CIA director Gina Haspel think would happen when the US shredded the enrichment deal? What’s happening is that Iran is resuming the very activities that so alarm them.

Or here’s a question for another well-known international statesman: Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Is Iran already seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, as you claim – or are your pressure tactics more or less guaranteeing that it will? If it does, then that, surely, will be in large part thanks to your endless sabre-rattling. How does this make Israel safer?

This threat of general conflagration, whipped up by design or sheer incompetence, now overshadows the region as a whole. In the name of repulsing Iran, Israel is almost daily engaged in covert military operations against Tehran’s allies and proxy forces in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria – where, shamefully, civil war still rages.

It gets worse. Reports from Kuwait say the drones that hit the Saudi oil installations at the weekend overflew the country, suggesting they came from Shia militia bases in Iraq. In this developing regional war, Israel and the Saudis are, in effect, on the same side. Iraq’s government wants no part of it. But, thanks to the vacuum left by the US after the 2003-11 occupation, Tehran wields considerable influence in Baghdad.

The very last thing Iraqis want is the Americans coming back, using their territory as a forward base in a wider Iranian siege. Yet Trump suggested exactly that last year. Can this scenario be ruled out? Not entirely. And so reason takes flight and the maelstrom builds. Urgently needed now are competent leaders who know how to calm a storm before all are sucked under.

 

‘Locked and Loaded’ for War on Iran?

September 17, 2019

by Patrick J. Buchanan

“Iran has launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” declared Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Putting America’s credibility on the line, Pompeo accused Iran of carrying out the devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities that halted half of the kingdom’s oil production, 5.7 million barrels a day.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump did not identify Iran as the attacking nation, but did appear, in a tweet, to back up the secretary of state:

“There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) as to who they believe was the cause of this attack and under what terms we would proceed!”

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been fighting Saudi Arabia for four years and have used drones to strike Saudi airport and oil facilities, claim they fired 10 drones from 500 kilometers away to carry out the strikes in retaliation for Saudi air and missile attacks.

Pompeo dismissed their claim, “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

But while the Houthis claim credit, Iran denies all responsibility.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif says of Pompeo’s charge, that the U.S. has simply replaced a policy of “maximum pressure” with a policy of “maximum deceit.” Tehran is calling us liars.

And, indeed, a direct assault on Saudi Arabia by Iran, a Pearl Harbor-type surprise attack on the Saudis’ crucial oil production facility, would be an act of war requiring Saudi retaliation, leading to a Persian Gulf war in which the United States could be forced to participate.

Tehran being behind Saturday’s strike would contradict Iranian policy since the US pulled out of the nuclear deal. That policy has been to avoid a military clash with the United States and pursue a measured response to tightening American sanctions.

US and Saudi officials are investigating the sites of the attacks, the oil production facility at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field.

According to US sources, 17 missiles or drones were fired, not the 10 the Houthis claim, and cruise missiles may have been used. Some targets were hit on the west-northwest facing sides, which suggests they were fired from the north, from Iran or Iraq.

But according to The New York Times, some targets were hit on the west side, pointing away from Iraq or Iraq as the source. But as some projectiles did not explode and fragments of those that did explode are identifiable, establishing the likely source of the attacks should be only a matter of time. It is here that the rubber meets the road.

Given Pompeo’s public accusation that Iran was behind the attack, a Trump meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering next week may be a dead letter.

The real question now is what do the Americans do when the source of the attack is known and the call for a commensurate response is put directly to our “locked-and-loaded” president.

If the perpetrators were the Houthis, how would Trump respond?

For the Houthis, who are native to Yemen and whose country has been attacked by the Saudis for four years, would, under the rules of war, seem to be entitled to launch attacks on the country attacking them.

Indeed, Congress has repeatedly sought to have Trump terminate US support of the Saudi war in Yemen.

If the attack on the Saudi oil field and oil facility at Abqaiq proves to be the work of Shiite militia from inside Iraq, would the United States attack that militia whose numbers in Iraq have been estimated as high as 150,000 fighters, as compared with our 5,000 troops in-country?

What about Iran itself?

If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday – shutting down about 6% of world oil production – imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy.

In recent decades, the US has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?

Before Trump orders any strike on Iran, would he go to Congress for authorization for his act of war?

Sen. Lindsey Graham is already urging an attack on Iran’s oil refineries to “break the regime’s back,” while Sen. Rand Paul contends that “there’s no reason the superpower of the United States needs to be getting into bombing mainland Iran.”

Divided again: The War Party is giddy with excitement over the prospect of war with Iran, while the nation does not want another war.

How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see.

John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.

 

New York prosecutors subpoena eight years of Trump’s tax returns

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance sent subpoena to accounting firm Mazars USA, which says it will ‘fully comply’

September 16, 2019

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

Donald Trump faces a new battle over the release of his tax returns after New York prosecutors issued a subpoena for them.

Trump is the first US president in nearly 40 years not to release his tax information, despite having promised to do so during his 2016 election campaign. He has resisted pressure from Democrats and watchdogs demanding greater transparency.

But on Monday, the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, investigating hush money payments to the pornographic actor Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election, subpoenaed eight years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns, according to media reports.

Mazars USA, which prepares Trump’s tax returns, said in a statement that it would “fully comply with its legal obligations”.

Democrats welcomed the move. The Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a candidate for president, tweeted in response: “One way or another, we will get Donald Trump’s tax returns.” Another 2020 candidate, Julián Castro, the former housing secretary under Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter: “The president is not above the law. The American people deserve to know if he deceived them in hopes of winning an election. He must comply with this subpoena.”

A federal investigation into the hush money payments led to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, pleading guilty to campaign finance violations which, along with tax fraud and making false statements to Congress, resulted in three-year prison sentence.

That investigation in effect wound up in July. Trump, who denies Daniels’ claim of a sexual relationship, has claimed any payments were a personal matter, not a campaign expense.

But last month Vance’s office launched a fresh investigation into whether the Trump Organization falsely listed its reimbursement of Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Daniels as a legal expense. This would be illegal under New York law.

Vance, who is a Democrat, sent a subpoena to the accounting firm Mazars USA seeking his personal and business returns dating back to 2011, the New York Times first reported, followed by the Associated Press (AP) and other outlets.

The Times noted that even if the Manhattan district attorney’s office were successful in obtaining the president’s tax returns, “the documents would be covered by secrecy rules governing grand juries, meaning they would not become public unless they were used as evidence in a criminal case”.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Marc Mukasey, told the AP he was “evaluating the situation and will respond as appropriate”.

Trump’s taxes are one of the biggest and longest running controversies of his political career. House Democrats have also subpoenaed them and are currently locked in a legal fight with Mazars USA that could extend into the 2020 presidential election.

Steven Rosenthal, a tax lawyer with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington, told Reuters this year: “I expect Trump will stall at every opportunity … Delay is a victory for Trump.”

 

Trump orders two ex-White House aides not to testify at House hearing on Tuesday

September 16, 2019

by Steve Holland

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has ordered two former White House aides not to testify at a House of Representatives committee hearing on Tuesday as the panel considers whether to recommend impeaching Trump.

Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn and former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter were subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee to appear at the hearing on possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

“The President has directed Mr. Dearborn and Mr. Porter not to appear at the hearing,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Democrat Jerrold Nadler.

Cipollone said the Justice Department had determined that Dearborn and Porter “are absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to their service as senior advisers to the President.”

Cipollone said former Trump campaign aide Corey Lewandowski, who was also subpoenaed to appear at Tuesday’s hearing, could testify but not about conversations with Trump after he became president or with his senior advisers.

Nadler denounced the White House move as a “shocking and dangerous assertion of executive privilege and absolute immunity.”

“If he were to prevail in this cover-up while the Judiciary Committee is considering whether to recommend articles of impeachment, he would upend the separation of powers as envisioned by our founders,” Nadler said in a statement, referring to Trump.

Democrats want to question the three men about an episode described by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in which Trump allegedly tried to pressure then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to redirect the Russia probe away from his 2016 presidential campaign.

The episode is among a number of incidents contained in Mueller’s 448-page report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election campaign that Democrats view as evidence Trump obstructed justice.

Last week, the Democratic-led House panel adopted a resolution allowing it to designate hearings as impeachment proceedings, subject witnesses to more aggressive questioning and quicken the pace of its investigation of Trump.

Democrats aim to decide by the end of the year whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump to the full House. If approved by the chamber, the Republican-controlled Senate would be left to hold a trial and consider the president’s ouster.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Peter Cooney

 

Ex-Trump campaign chief Lewandowski to testify at impeachment hearing

September 17, 2019

by David Morgan

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and close confidant, is due to testify in Congress on Tuesday despite a White House effort to prevent him from talking about Trump’s alleged efforts to impede the federal probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Late on Monday, the White House instructed Lewandowski not to discuss conversations he had with Trump after he became president, including an exchange at the White House that Democrats view as evidence that Trump obstructed justice and may need to be impeached.

Lewandowski, who is mulling a run for the U.S. Senate, is the first impeachment witness to appear before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee since former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified in July about his probe of Russian election interference and Trump’s alleged efforts to impede the investigation.

Democrats, who hope to decide whether to recommend Trump’s impeachment to the full House by year end, had intended to grill Lewandowski about an effort by the president to persuade then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to redirect the Mueller probe away from the 2016 Trump campaign.

The episode is among a number of incidents contained in Mueller’s 448-page Russia investigation report that Democrats view as evidence Trump obstructed justice.

Mueller made no determination about whether Trump obstructed justice but did not exonerate him of possible wrongdoing.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told the committee in a letter on Monday that Lewandowski could not testify about conversations with Trump after he became president or with his senior advisers.

The White House also ordered two other witnesses, former Trump White House aides Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn, not to testify. Cipollone’s letter said they were “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to their service as senior advisers to the President.”

The Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Democrat Jerrold Nadler, denounced the White House move as a “shocking and dangerous assertion of executive privilege and absolute immunity.”

“If he were to prevail in this cover-up while the Judiciary Committee is considering whether to recommend articles of impeachment, he would upend the separation of powers as envisioned by our founders,” Nadler said in a statement, referring to Trump.

A Lewandowski spokeswoman, who had said earlier that the former campaign manager would cooperate fully with the committee, was not available for comment.

An attorney for Dearborn said he advised his client to comply with the White House’s direction. Porter could not be reached for comment.

‘DEVOTEE’

Described by Mueller as a Trump “devotee” who has a “close” relationship with the president, Lewandowski has said he intends to defend Trump. “I want to go and remind the American people that these guys are on a witch hunt,” the former campaign manager told Fox News Radio on Aug 16.

Republicans contend that the Mueller investigation uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing by Trump and denounce the Democrats’ impeachment probe as theatrics intended to pander to voters.

In June 2017, Trump met Lewandowski, then a private citizen, at the White House and dictated a message he was to deliver to Sessions. The message said Sessions should shift the Russia probe’s focus to future elections despite his recusal from the investigation.

At a second meeting a month later, Trump asked about the status of the message and said Lewandowski should “tell Sessions he was fired” if he would not meet with the former campaign manager, according to the Mueller report.

Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Tom Brown and Peter Cooney

 

 

27 reports of extremist activity by US service members over the past 5 years, DoD says

Setember 16, 2019

by Shawn Snow

Marine Times

There have been 27 reports of extremist activity by service members over the past five years, the Defense Department said in a 2018 letter addressed to then-Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn

All but two of those 27 service members had been formally investigated and 18 service members were disciplined or separated from the military, the DoD said.

The letter from the Pentagon, dated Aug. 24, 2018, was sent to Ellison in response to his request for information related to supremacist and extremist activity across the military.

Ellison’s request was made following a bombshell ProPublica story that Marine Lance Cpl. Vasillios G. Pistolis had ties to a neo-Nazi group known as Atomwaffen Division.

The letter from the DoD may be the only hard data across the military of the number of service members participating in supremacist or extremist activitie

The DoD explained in its letter to Ellison that tracking the number of service members disciplined for extremist activity is “problematic” because troops are often punished or separated for a number of different offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Senate appropriators included in its $695 billion defense spending plan for fiscal 2020 a mandate for military officials to more closely track and respond to incidents of white supremacy and pro-Nazi activity in the ranks, Military Times reported Thursday.

“Punishment may not, in an of itself, be descriptive of extremist actions of activity,” the letter reads.

Pistolis was charged with Article 92, failure to obey a regulation, and Article 107, making false official statements, and ultimately was found guilty at a summary court-martial.

Pistolis was processed for administrative separation and ultimately booted from the Corps on July 11, 2018, according to Corps officials.

The DoD says its screening process for potential recruits is a “multilevel” approach that involves criminal and medical record checks, interviews with recruiters, and fingerprint checks, the letter explained.

“Moreover, tattoos are screened and questions asked regarding possible gang affiliation,” the letter reads.

The DoD noted in its letter that the Office of Personnel and Management Federal Investigative Service gained access to the violent gang file of the National Criminal ­Information Center, following the signing of a memo with the FBI in November 2009.

Active participation in extremist or supremacist groups is a violation of DoD policy and service members can be punished, and are often separated for these incidences.

Several Marines have been put on the chopping block in 2019 following reports of their ties to various neo-Nazi or hate groups.

In June, the Corps said it was booting out Hawaii-based Lance Cpl. Mason Mead following an investigation into a Twitter handle @Jacobite_Edward, which espoused Nazi propaganda

The social media account was alleged to be run by Mead.

“His discharge will be characterized as Under Other Than Honorable Conditions,” Uriarte said.

Mead, who was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, was separated from the Corps on July 5, according to Capt. Eric Abrams, a Marine spokesman.

In May, Lance Cpl. Logan Piercy, a Marine assigned to 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance ­Battalion, 4th Marine Division, was booted for his ties to a hate group.

Piercy came under investigation after leaked chat logs tied him to Identity Evropa.

The Anti-Defamation League describes Identity Evropa as “a white supremacist group focused on the preservation of “white American culture” and promoting white European identity.” The ADL believes the group is founded by a Marine veteran.

“We are confident that collectively, the policy and processes described above have worked well. The Department will continue to be vigilant in this matter.” the letter reads.

 

The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter

Lockheed Martin Remains Top Gun in the Pentagon’s Cockpit

September 16, 2019

by William J. Astore

Tom Dispatch

How are you with numbers? I can deal with $1.5 million. I think I can even imagine $1.5 billion, a sum a thousand times greater. But how about a million times greater: $1.5 trillion? That happens to be the estimated cost of the Pentagon’s program to build, deploy, and maintain the no-longer-so-new F-35 jet fighter over its lifetime. How can any people invest so much in a technology whose fundamental purpose is dominance through destruction — and which reportedly doesn’t even work particularly well?

The Egyptians had pyramids. The Romans had roads, aqueducts, and coliseums. The medieval Europeans had castles and cathedrals. These days, America’s pyramids, aqueducts, and cathedrals are those warplanes, among other deadly weapons programs, including a $1.7 trillion one to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Unlike the massive projects of ancient history, which still endure and in some fashion represent the triumph of the human spirit, America’s massive spending on military weaponry has been for totems of power that will prove either ephemeral or make our very existence ephemeral, while casting a long shadow over our moment, thanks to the sheer extravagance and colossal waste they embody.

As ephemeral as the F-35 stealth fighter may prove in historical terms, it’s already a classic symbol of America’s ever more fruitless forever wars. Like them, the F-35 program has proven staggeringly expensive, incredibly wasteful, and impossible to stop, no matter the woeful results. It has come to symbolize the too-big-to-fail, too-sacrosanct-to-reject part of America’s militarized culture of technological violence.

Despite its astonishing cost and mediocre performance, the F-35 isn’t simply a product of the naked greed and power of the military-industrial-congressional complex. In a strange way, it also reflects the ongoing love affair Americans have had with weaponry of every sort. It’s about, you might say, the 1.5 trillion ways we worship warplanes and everything they mean to us.

Don’t think of “Jet noise, the sound of freedom” as merely a bumper sticker meant for the vehicles of Air Force veterans. After all, Americans invented the airplane and we still tend to see it as the means by which this country can dominate the global high ground, projecting our version of (super) power, while inflicting death across significant parts of the planet. It’s not so surprising, then, that our high-tech warplanes routinely roar in a celebratory fashion over American versions of those Roman coliseums, generating cheers and thrills among sports fans but little thought as to their cost, both in money and in lives.

Imagine, for example, what the $1.5 trillion to be spent on the F-35 over its lifetime might mean in green energy, or health care, or education, or infrastructure, or virtually any other pressing need in this country today. Given our actions, given what we’ve been most willing to extravagantly fund during this century, you’d think Americans truly believed a few squadrons of F-35s could blow up climate change or cure cancer or fix America’s roads and bridges.  Then again, Donald Trump seems to think nuking hurricanes is a good idea! So why not?

A Brief History of the F-35 Program

I first heard of what would become the F-35 in 1995. I was then a captain in the Air Force, working on flight-planning software. I was told that a new Joint Strike Fighter, or JSF, was being developed.  The “joint” meant that the Air Force, Navy, and Marines would all use it. Its big selling point at the time was the striking level of anticipated savings expected due to the commonality of the design, of spare parts, and of everything else. (Those in the know then, however, remembered the Pentagon’s previous shot at “jointness,” the TFX program in the 1960s; the resulting plane, the F-111, would be rejected by the Navy and unloved by the Air Force.)

The new JSF was advertised as offering the highest-tech possible at the lowest price imaginable, a fighter that would replace legacy aircraft like the Air Force’s F-16s and A-10s and the Navy’s F-18s. Winning the competition to develop the plane was weapons giant Lockheed Martin and a prototype F-35 Lightning II first took to the skies in 2006, by which time I was already retired from the Air Force. In the 13 years since then, the F-35 has gone through a mind-boggling series of major program delays and setbacks, burning money all the way.

In 2014, the plane’s woeful record finally caught the eye of CBS’s 60 Minutes, which documented how the program was seven years behind schedule and already $163 billion over budget. The Pentagon, however, simply plunged ahead. Its current plan: to buy more than 2,600 F-35s by 2037, with the assumption that their service lives will possibly extend to 2070. In Pentagon terms, think of it as a multi-generational warplane for America’s multi-generational wars.

Five years after that 60 Minutes exposé and 13 years after its first flight, the F-35 unsurprisingly remains mired in controversy. Harper’s Magazine’s Andrew Cockburn recently used it to illustrate what he termed “the Pentagon Syndrome,” the practice of expending enormous sums on weapons of marginal utility.  The F-35, he noted, “first saw combat [in 2018], seventeen years after the program began. The Marines sent just six of them on their first deployment to the Middle East, and over several months only managed to fly, on average, one combat sortie per plane every three days. According to the Pentagon’s former chief testing official, had there been opposition, these ‘fighters’ could not have survived without protection from other planes.”

So far, in other words, the F-35 has had an abysmally low rate of availability. Technically speaking, it remains in “initial operational testing and evaluation,” during which, as defense journalist Dan Grazier has noted, it achieved a “fully mission capable rate” of just 11% in its combat testing phase. (The desired goal before going into full production is 80%, which is, in a sense, all you need to know about the “success” of that aircraft so many years later.) Compounding those dreadful percentages is another grim reality: the F-35’s design isn’t stable and its maintenance software has been a buggy nightmare, meaning the testers are, in a sense, trying to evaluate a moving and messy target.

These and similar problems led President Trump and former acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to push possible alternatives to the F-35 as a way of pressuring Lockheed Martin to improve its performance.  In December 2016, before he even entered the Oval Office, for example, Trump tweeted about building F-18 Super Hornets in place of the F-35. Later, Shanahan advocated for an updated version of the venerable F-15 Eagle, made by Boeing, a company for which he had only recently been a senior executive. But the president’s tweets have moved on, as has Shanahan, and Lockheed Martin continues to hold all the cards. For the Pentagon, it’s still the F-35 or bust.

Unsurprisingly, the president has changed his tune, enthusing that the F-35 is invisible (“You literally can’t see it”) rather than merely difficult to detect on radar. (He has also referred to Marillyn Hewson, the CEO of Lockheed Martin, as Marillyn Lockheed.)  The main selling point of the F-35 is indeed its stealth technology, marking it as a “fifth generation” fighter when compared to the older F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, and A-10s, which are decidedly unstealthy and radar detectable. Primarily because of such technology, the Pentagon argues that the F-35 will prove far more “survivable” than previous warplanes in any future conflict with Russia, China, or some other country equipped with sophisticated radars and surface-to-air missiles.

Yet such stealthiness comes at a real cost and not just in monetary terms. To maintain its stealthy profile, the F-35 must carry its weaponry internally, limiting its load and destructive power compared to “fourth generation” planes like the A-10 and F-15. It must also rely on an internal fuel system, which will limit its range in battle, while its agility in air-to-air combat seems poor compared to older fighters like the F-16. (The Pentagon counters, unconvincingly, that the F-35 wasn’t designed for such dogfighting.)

As a former Air Force project engineer and historian of technology and warfare, here’s my take on the F-35 program today: in trying to build an aircraft to meet the diverse requirements of three services, Lockheed Martin has produced a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none albatross. Each military service piled requirements onto the F-35, as ever more esoteric features were added, including that stealth capability; special software featuring eight million lines of code; unique (and wildly expensive) helmets for its pilots; and vertical landing/short takeoff capacity for the Marines, which led to an airframe design that made it ever less maneuverable for the Air Force and Navy. The result: perhaps the classic example of a plane that is far less than the sum of its staggeringly expensive parts.

To get more specific, consider the mission of close air support, or CAS, which means supporting troops in or near combat. The best and most survivable plane for such a role remains the one specifically designed for it: the unglamorous A-10 Warthog, which ground troops love but Air Force officialdom hates (because it was designed in response to Army, not Air Force, needs). By comparison, the F-35, which is supposed to fill the A-10’s role, simply isn’t designed for such a mission.  It’s too fast, meaning its loiter time over targets is severely limited; its weapons load is inadequate; it has only one engine, making it more vulnerable to ground fire; and its (malfunctioning) gun lacks punch. (It also costs twice as much to fly.) Despite all this, the Air Force continues to advocate for the F-35 in a CAS role, even as it grudgingly re-wings A-10s to extend their lives.

And keep in mind as well that, if you want an attack platform that can loiter for hours, while removing all risk to pilots, why not just use already existing drones like the military’s Reapers?  Who even needs an expensive F-35 stealth fighter?  To these and similar criticisms the Pentagon responds that it’s fifth generation! It’s new! It’s stealthy! It’s a game-changer! It scares the Russians and Chinese! And if those answers don’t work, there’s always that old standby: tell me why you hate our troops!

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin’s profits are soaring as that company and the Pentagon sell the F-35 to allies around the world. Despite its delays, cost overruns, and performance issues, it’s still being promoted as America’s latest and greatest.  Foreign military sales have the added benefit of driving down per-unit costs for the Pentagon, even as politicians tout the F-35 as a huge job creator. In short, with no alternative in sight, Lockheed Martin remains top gun in the Pentagon’s cockpit (Eat your heart out, Tom Cruise!), with virtually guaranteed profits for the next half-century.

Touching the Third Rail of American Politics

Refusing to genuflect to “the troops” — that is, the U.S. military — has become the true third rail of American politics. In practice, this has meant giving the Pentagon a blank check to spend trillions of dollars on whatever it wants, including a fighter jet with a distinctly dubious record, once promised to the Pentagon at $38 million a plane but now estimated to cost $158.4 million each.  If being a decade behind schedule and $200 billion over budget only wins you more money and more leeway, what does a military contractor like Lockheed Martin have to worry about? Even an outspoken progressive politician like Senator Bernie Sanders has muted his criticism of the F-35 (since some of them are to be based in his home state of Vermont, offering the promise of future jobs).

I’m old enough to remember Senator William Proxmire and his “Golden Fleece” awards. Nearly half a century ago, in what now seems like an alternate American universe, he had the temerity to regularly criticize major defense contractors when they fleeced Americans out of billions of dollars for wasteful weaponry. Today, that sort of principled outspokenness is rare indeed in the halls of Congress and rarer still in the White House.  With both Congress and the president lining up to sell F-35s, what are ordinary Americans to do?

After all these decades of growth, the military-industrial-congressional complex is strong indeed. It’s not, however, omnipotent — not yet anyway. Its Achilles’ heel is funding. If Americans were, Proxmire-style, to start holding the weapons makers and the Pentagon accountable for their messes and mayhem in a language they understood — money — change might be possible. If, however, we continue to equate such deadly and staggeringly costly weaponry with safety and security, if that money continues to flow prodigiously to the Pentagon, the weapons makers, and their camp followers, you can count on two things: America’s forever wars will keep on churning and F-35s will soon roar loudly over a stadium near you.

One of these days, look for those same planes to be soaring in the skies over various unfortunate countries, dropping “Made in America” calling cards on their people. Just don’t look for them striking at cancer or climate change or solving any of the actual problems we face on this planet.

 

FBI Surveillance of all U.S. Mail

Wikipedia

Mail Isolation Control and Tracking (MICT) is an imaging system employed by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that takes photographs of the exterior of every piece of mail that is processed in the United States. The Postmaster General has stated that the system is primarily used for mail sorting, though it also enables the USPS to retroactively track mail correspondence at the request of law enforcement. It was created in the aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people, including two postal workers.The automated mail tracking program was created so that the Postal Service could more easily track hazardous substances and keep people safe, according to U.S. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed MICT on June 7, 2013, when discussing the Bureau’s investigation of ricin-laced letters sent to U.S. President Barack Obama and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.[1] The FBI stated in a criminal complaint that the program was used to narrow its investigation to Shannon Richardson U.S. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe confirmed in an interview with the Associated Press the existence of this program on August 2, 2013.

In confirming the existence of MICT, Donahoe told the Associated Press that the USPS does not maintain a massive centralized database of the letter images. He said that the images are taken at more than 200 mail processing centers around the country, and that each scanning machine at the processing centers only keeps images of the letters it scans. He also stated the images are retained for a week to 30 days and then destroyed.

Computer security and information privacy expert Bruce Schneier compared MICT to the mass surveillance of the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed in June 2013 by Edward Snowden. Schneier said, “Basically, [the USPS is] doing the same thing as the [NSA] programs, collecting the information on the outside of your mail, the metadata, if you will, of names, addresses, return addresses and postmark locations, which gives the government a pretty good map of your contacts, even if they aren’t reading the contents.”

James J. Wedick, a former FBI agent, said of MICT, “It’s a treasure trove of information. Looking at just the outside of letters and other mail, I can see who you bank with, who you communicate with — all kinds of useful information that gives investigators leads that they can then follow up on with a subpoena.” He also said the program “can be easily abused because it’s so easy to use, and you don’t have to go through a judge to get the information. You just fill out a form.”

 

The Enemy Within: An understanding of Islam

What is Islam? Who was Mohammed?

September 16, 2019

by Germar Rudolf

Islam is a strictly monotheistic religion, articulated by the Qur’an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God and by the Prophet of Islam Muhammad’s teachings.

Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and that the purpose of life is to worship God They regard their religion as the completed and universal version of a primordial, monotheistic faith revealed at many times and places before, including, notably, to the prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Islamic tradition holds that previous messages and revelations have been changed and distorted over time. Religious practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five obligatory acts of worship. Islamic law touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, encompassing everything from banking and warfare to welfare and the environment.

The majority of Muslims belong to one of two denominations, the Sunni and the Shi’a. About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country.31% in the Indian Subcontinent, 20% in the Middle Eastand 15% in Sub-saharan Africa. Sizable communities are also found in China and Russia, and parts of the Caribbean. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world. With about 1.57 billion Muslims comprising about 23% of the world’s population (see Islam by country), Islam is the second-largest religion in the world and arguably the fastest-growing religion in the world.

Islam’s fundamental theological concept is the belief that there is only one god. The Arabic term for God is Allah. Other non-Arabic nations might use different names, for instance in Turkey, the Turkish word for God, “Tanrı” is used as much as Allah. The first of the Five Pillars of Islam, declares that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is God’s messenger. In traditional Islamic theology, God is beyond all comprehension; Muslims are not expected to visualize God but to worship and adore Him as the Protector. Muslims believe the purpose of life is to worship God. Although Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, they reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, comparing it to polytheism. In Islamic theology, Jesus was just a man and not the son of God;

Muhammad (c. 570 – June 8, 632) was a trader and camel-breeder and who later became  a religious, political, and military leader. Muslims now view him, not as the creator of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original, uncorrupted monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others. In Muslim tradition, Muhammad is viewed as the last and the greatest in a series of prophets—as the man closest to perfection, the possessor of all virtues. For the last 22 years of his life, in 610, beginning at age 40, Muhammad started receiving what he claimed were “revelations from God.” It now also appears that Muhammed suffered from some form of Alzheimer’s Disease and that his final days were given to long and senseless utterances that his supporters claimed were ‘revelations.’ The content of these revelations, known as the Qur’an, was memorized and recorded by his companions.

During this time, Muhammad preached to the people of Mecca, imploring them to abandon polytheism. Although some converted to Islam, Muhammad and his followers were persecuted by the leading Meccan authorities. After 12 years of preaching, Muhammad and the Muslims performed the Hijra (“emigration”) to the city of Medina in 622. There, with the Medinan converts and the Meccan migrants Muhammad established his political and religious authority. Within years, two battles had been fought against Meccan forces: the Battle of Badr in 624, which was a Muslim victory, and the Battle of Uhud in 625, which ended inconclusively. Conflict with Medinan Jewish clans who opposed the Muslims led to their exile, enslavement or death, and the Jewish enclave of Khaybar was subdued. At the same time, Meccan trade routes were cut off as Muhammad brought surrounding desert tribes under his control. By 629 Muhammad was victorious in the nearly bloodless Conquest of Mecca, and by the time of his death in 632 (at the age of 62) he and his followers ruled over the Arabian peninsula.

In 630 A.D. Mecca was re-taken followed by the battle of Hunain wherein the army under command of the Prophet, the non-Muslim tribes were defeated , and a large number of the enemy were killed but, under the Prophet’s order, no child was harmed. Often, after such a murderous battle, Muhammad had young children, both boys and girls, brought before him, had them stripped naked and then chose ones he wished “to lie with.”

One day after battle, Muhammad came back home and said to his daughter Fatima, “Wash the blood from this sword and I swear in the name of Allah this sword was obeying me all the time.” .

The number of military campaigns Muhammad led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven, in nine of which there was hard fighting.  The number of expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight

Muhammad’s last speech to his followers on Mt Arafat:

…..”I descended by Allah with the sword in my hand, and my wealth will come from the shadow of my sword.  And the one who will disagree with me will be humiliated and persecuted.”

Muhammad told Abu Sufyan: “Woe to you! Accept Islam and testify that Muhammad is the apostle of God before your neck is cut off by the sword.” Thus he professed the faith of Islam and became a Muslim. This man, Abu Sufyan, was not a believer at first, but he quickly “believed” after he was threatened by death.’

So, even before Muhammad pagans were worshipping this black stone in the Kaba.  Are we surprised that although Muhammad proclaimed only one God, he continued to participate in idol worship at this pagan shrine (Kaba); and Muslims still do idol worship there today.  The black stone of Ka’aba is nothing but a holdover within Islam, from pre-Islamic paganism.

There is evidence that black stones were commonly worshipped in the Arab world.  In 190 A.D. Clement of Alexandria mentioned that “the Arabs worship stone”.  He was alluding to the black stone of Dusares at Petra.  In the 2nd century, Maximus Tyrius wrote; “The Arabians pay homage to I know not what god, which they represent by a quadrangular stone”.  Maximus was speaking of the Kaaba (Ka’ba) that contains the Black Stone.

Muhammad led 27 military campaigns against innocent villages and caravans and planned 38 others

“I am the prophet that laughs when killing my enemies.”

Muhammad posed as an apostle of God, yet his life was filled with lustfulness (12 marriages and sex with many children, both male and female, slaves and concubines), rapes, warfare, conquests, and unmerciful butcheries.  The infinitely good, just and all holy God preached by Muhammad simply cannot tolerate anything in the least unjust or sinful.  What Muhammad produced in the Qur’an is simply a book of gibberish consisting of later evil verses superseding earlier peaceful verses. These verses in Arabic poetically “tickle” the ears of Arab listeners.

Modern Islam is a caustic blend of paganism and twisted Bible stories.      Muhammad, its lone “prophet”, who made no prophecies, conceived his religion to satiate his lust for power, sex, and money. He was a terrorist. And if you think these conclusions are shocking, additional research will easily uncover the evidence mostly from Islamic historians 70% of what is here is from Muslim and ex-Muslim historians – back to the 8th century.

Accordingly, after a degenerative disease of which the main symptom was headache, loss of memory, increasing skin eruptions and incontinence, he died in the arms of his favorite wife, Aysha, on Radiulawwal 11 A.H.—633 A.D.

After an objective and lengthy study of the life of Muhammed, the only rational conclusion is that Islam’s lone prophet was a ruthless terrorist, a mass-murderer, a thief, slave trader, rapist and aggressive pedophile.

In his personal life, Muhammad had two great weaknesses. The first was greed. By looting caravans and Jewish settlements, he had amassed fabulous wealth for himself, his family, and his tribe

When we turn and look at the life of Muhammad we find that he clearly killed and robbed people in the name of Allah according to the Quran. He taught his disciples by example, command, and precept that they could and should kill and rob in Allah’s name and force people to submit to Islam.

His next greatest weakness were women and young boys. Although in the Quran he would limit his followers to having four wives, he himself took more than four wives, numerous concubines and young boys and girls into his bed.

The question of the number of women with whom Muhammad was sexually involved either as wives, concubines or devotees was made a point of contention by the Jews in Muhammad’s day.

“All the commentaries agree that verse 57 of Sura 4 (on-Nesa) was sent down after the Jews criticized Mohammad’s appetite for women, alleging that he had nothing to do except to take wives”

Since polygamy was practiced in the Old Testament by such patriarchs as Abraham, the mere fact that Muhammad had more than one wife is not sufficient in and of itself to discount his claim to prophethood. But this does negate the fact that the issue has historical in terms of trying to understand Muhammad as a man.

It also poses a logical problem for Muslims. Because the Quran in Sura 4:3 forbids the taking of more than four wives, to have taken any more would have been sinful for Muhammad. He not only exceeded this fiat many times but also added young boys and girls to his harem in direct contravention of his own pronouncements.

While in Islamic countries an eight or nine-year old girl can be given in marriage to an adult male, in the West, most people would shudder to think of an eight or nine-year old girl being given in marriage to anyone

This aspect of Muhammad’s personal life is something that many scholars pass over because they do not want to hurt the feelings of Muslims, or, more pragmatically, they do not want to experience a knife in the dark. Yet, history cannot be rewritten to avoid confronting the facts that Muhammad had unnatural desires for little girls and, even more reprehensible, little boys.

The documentation for all the women in Muhammad’s harem is so vast and has been presented so many times by able scholars that only those who use circular reasoning can object to it.

Though a forbidden subject, pedophilia and homosexual practices were an active part of Muhammad’s life. Today, homosexuality and pedophilia is a very strong part of Muslim life. Adherents of Islam believe that these activities are fully approved, not only by the writings in the Quran but also by the examples set during his lifetime by the Prophet Muhammad himself. His harem did indeed have many women but many of them were as young as nine and there were also a significant number of pre-pubescent boys among them

In brief summation, the Prophet of the Muslim faith does not come off as a spiritual leader. He lied; he cheated; he lusted; he failed to keep his word, He was neither perfect nor sinless. By Western standards of the present time, Muhammad was a fraud, a common murderer, a letcher and a pedophile.

Homosexuality and Islam

For centuries, Muslim men have taken boys, roughly 9 to 15 years old, as lovers. Some research suggests that half the Muslim Afghanistani Pashtun tribal members in Kandahar and other southern Afghanistan  towns are bacha baz, the term for an older man with a boy lover. Literally it means “boy player.” The men like to boast about it.

The Pashtun are Afghanistan’s most important tribe. For centuries, the nation’s leaders have been Pashtun.

As for Karzai, an American who worked in and around his palace in an official capacity for many months told me that homosexual behavior “was rampant” among “soldiers and personnel on the security detail. They talked about boys all the time.”

In Kandahar, population about 500,000, and other towns, dance parties are a popular, often weekly, pastime. Young boys dress up as girls, wearing makeup and bells on their feet, and dance for a dozen or more leering middle-aged men who throw money at them and then take them home. A recent State Department report called “dancing boys” a “widespread, culturally sanctioned form of male rape.”

A recent (July 2010) Department of State analysis, heavily classified,not only discusses rampant homosexual pedophilia among Muslims, not only in Afghanistan but also in Iraq, Iran and, especially, in Saudi Arabia. The thesis that American and NATO forces fighting and dying to defend tens of thousands of proud, aggressive pedophiles, is a subject that has been forbidden of discussion by orders from the White House itself. Fear of “energizine’ the Muslim world and creating more active terrorists is the maini motive for this concern.

Sociologists and anthropologists say the problem results from interpretation of Islamic law. Even after marriage, many men keep their boys, suggesting a loveless life at home. A favored Muslim expression goes: “Women are for children, boys are for pleasure.” Fundamentalist Muslim imams, exaggerating a biblical passage on menstruation, teach that women are “unclean” and therefore distasteful. That helps explain why women are hidden away – and stoned to death if they are perceived to have misbehaved. Islamic law also forbids homosexuality. But the pedophiles explain that away. ‘It’s not homosexuality, they aver, because they aren’t in love with their boys’.They only sodomize them because they view women as unclean and the Prophet approved of pedophelia .

Islamic revival and Islamist movements

The 20th century saw the Islamic world increasingly exposed to outside cultural influences, bringing potential changes to Muslim societies. In response, new Islamic “revivalist” movements were initiated as a counter movement to non-Islamic ideas. Groups such as Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt advocate a totalistic and theocratic alternative to secular political ideologies. Sometimes called Islamist, they see Western cultural values as a threat, and promote Islam as a comprehensive solution to every public and private question of importance.

In countries like Iran, revolutionary movements replaced secular regime with an Islamic state, while transnational groups like Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda engage in terrorism to further their goals.

Modern criticism of Islam includes accusations that Islam is intolerant of criticism and that Islamic law is too hard on apostates from Islam. Critics like Ibn Warraq question the morality of the Qu’ran, saying that its contents justify the mistreatment of women, homosexuality and encourage antisemitic remarks by Muslim theologians.

Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer focus more on criticizing the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, a danger they feel has been ignored

Jihad

Jihad means “to strive or struggle” (in the way of God) and is considered the “Sixth Pillar of Islam” by a minority of Sunni Muslim authorities. Jihad, in its broadest sense, is classically defined as “exerting one’s utmost power, efforts, endeavors, or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation.

Within Islamic jurisprudence, jihad is usually taken to mean military exertion against non-Muslim combatants in the defense or expansion of the Ummah. The ultimate purpose of military jihad is the goal of global conquest. Jihad is the only form of warfare permissible in Islamic law and may be declared against apostates, rebels, highway robbers, violent groups, and non-Muslim leaders or states who oppress Muslims or hamper its aggressive proselytizing efforts.

Under most circumstances and for most Muslims, jihad is a collective duty

Sub-Cults of Islam

Sunni

Sunni Muslims are the largest group in Islam, comprising the vast bulk of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, The Qur’an and the Sunnah (the example of Muhammad’s life) as recorded in hadith are the primary foundations of Sunni doctrine. Sunnis believe that the first four caliphs were the rightful successors to Muhammad; since God did not specify any particular leaders to succeed him, those leaders had to be elected. Sunnis believe that a caliph should be chosen by the whole community.

 Shi’a

The Shi’a constitute 10–13% of Islam and are its second-largest branch. They believe in the political and religious leadership of Imams from the progeny of Ali ibn Abi Talib, who according to most Shi’a are in a state of ismah, meaning infallibility. They believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib, as the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, was his rightful successor, and they call him the first Imam (leader), rejecting the legitimacy of the previous Muslim caliphs. To most Shi’a, an Imam rules by right of divine appointment and holds “absolute spiritual authority” among Muslims, having final say in matters of doctrine and revelation. Shias regard Ali as the prophet’s true successor and believe that a caliph is appointed by divine will. Shi’a Islam has several branches, the largest of which is the Twelvers which the label Shi’a generally refers to.

Sufism

Sufism is a mystical-ascetic approach to Islam that seeks to find divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. By focusing on the more spiritual aspects of religion, Sufis strive to obtain direct experience of God by making use of “intuitive and emotional faculties” that one must be trained to use. Sufism and Islamic law are usually considered to be complementary, although Sufism has been criticized by salafi for what they see as an unjustified religious innovation. Many Sufi orders, or tariqas, can be classified as either Sunni or Shi’a, but others classify themselves simply as ‘Sufi’. Some Sufi groups can be described as non-Islamic when their teachings are very distinct from Islam

Muslims in the United States

The earliest documented case of a Muslim to come to the United States is Dutchman Anthony Janszoon van Salee, who came to New Amsterdam around 1630 and was referred to as ‘Turk’. The oldest Muslim community to establish in the country was the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in 1921however, like the Nation of Islam, this sect is considered heretical by the mainstream Muslim community.

Once very small, the Muslim population of the US increased greatly in the twentieth century, with much of the growth driven by rising immigration and conversion. In 2005, more people from Islamic countries became legal permanent United States residents — nearly 96,000 — than in any year in the previous two decades.

Recent immigrant Muslims make up the majority of the total Muslim population. South Asians Muslims from India and Pakistan and Arabs make up the biggest group of Muslims in America at 60-65% of the population. Native-born American Muslims are mainly African Americans who make up a quarter of the total Muslim population. Many of these have converted to Islam during the last seventy years. Conversion to Islam in prison, and in large urban areas  has also contributed to its growth over the years. American Muslims come from various backgrounds, and are one of the most racially diverse religious group in the United States according to a 2009 Gallup poll.

A Pew report released in 2009 noted that nearly six-in-ten American adults see Muslims as being subject to discrimination, more than Mormons, Atheists, or Jews. Modern immigration

There is no accurate count of the number of Muslims in the United States, as the U.S. Census Bureau does not collect data on religious identification. There is an ongoing debate as to the true size of the Muslim population in the US. Various institutions and organizations have given widely varying estimates about how many Muslims live in the U.S. These estimates have been controversial, with a number of researchers being explicitly critical of the survey methodologies that have led to the higher estimates.

Others claim that no scientific count of Muslims in the U.S. has been done, but that the larger figures should be considered accurate. Some journalists have also alleged that the higher numbers have been inflated for political purposes. On the other hand, some Muslim groups blame Islamophobia and the fact that many Muslims identify themselves as Muslims, but do not attend mosques for the lower estimates.

According to a 2007 religious survey, 72% of Muslims believe religion is very important, which is higher in comparison to the overall population of the United States at 59%. The frequency of receiving answers to prayers among Muslims was, 31% at least once a week and 12% once or twice a month. Nearly a quarter of the Muslims are converts to Islam (23%), mainly native-born. Of the total who have converted, 59% are African American and 34% white. Previous religions of those converted was Protestantism (67%), Roman Catholicism (10%) and 15% no religion.

Mosques are usually explicitly Sunni or Shia. There are 1,209 mosques in the United States and the nation’s largest mosque, the Islamic Center of America, is in Dearborn, Michigan. It caters mainly to the Shi’a Muslim congregation; however, all Muslims may attend this mosque. It was rebuilt in 2005 to accommodate over 3,000 people for the increasing Muslim population in the region.

In many areas, a mosque may be dominated by whatever group of immigrants is the largest. Sometimes the Friday sermons, or khutbas, are given in languages like Urdu or Arabic along with English. Areas with large Muslim populations may support a number of mosques serving different immigrant groups or varieties of belief within Sunni or Shi’a traditions. At present, many mosques are served by imams who immigrate from overseas, as only these imams have certificates from Muslim seminaries. The influence of the Wahhabi movement in the US has caused concern.

Muslim Americans are racially diverse communities in the United States, two-thirds are foreign-born. The majority, about three-fifths of Muslim Americans are of South Asian and Arab origin, a quarter of the population are recent converts of whites and indigenous African Americans, while the remaining are other ethnic groups which  includes Turks, Iranians, Bosnians, Malays, Indonesians, West Africans, Somalis, Kenyans, with also small but growing numbers of white and Hispanic converts.

A survey of ethnic comprehension by the Pew Forum survey in 2007 showed that 37% respondents viewed themselves white(mainly of Arab and South Asian origin), 24% were Africans and White converts in the ratio 2:1, 20% Asian (mainly South Asian origin), 15% other race (includes mixed Arabs or Asians) and 4% were of Hispanic descent. Since the arrival of South Asian and Arab communities during the 1990s there has been divisions with the African Americans due to the racial and cultural differences, however since post 9/11, the two groups joined together when the immigrant communities looked towards the African Americans for advice on civil rights.

Remembering the fact that Arabs are generally counted among Whites and majority of Arabs in U.S. are Christians; the more accurate figure would be 65-70% South Asians and Arabs in the ratio 1:1 to 2:1 (includes mixed Arabs and Asians which comprise a significant 25% of the total Asian population) 20-25% Blacks belonging to traditional and Nations Of Islam sect and 4% were of Hispanic descent. Only about a quarter of the Arab American population is Muslim. The 2000 census reported about 1.25 million Americans of Arab ancestry. Contrary to popular perceptions the condition of Muslims in U.S. is very good. Among South Asians in this country, the large Indian American community stands out as particularly well educated and prosperous, with education and income levels that exceed those of U.S.-born whites. Many are professionals, especially doctors, scientists, engineers, and financial analysts, and there are also a large number of entrepreneurs. The five urban areas with the largest Indian populations include the Washington/Baltimore metropolitan area as well as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The 10 states with the largest Muslim populations are California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Texas, Ohio, and Maryland. 45 percent of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher. This compares to the national average of 44 percent. Immigrant Muslims are well represented among higher-income earners, with 19 percent claiming annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher (compared to 16 percent for the Muslim population as a whole and 17 percent for the U.S. average). This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.

Approximately half (50%) of the religious affiliations of Muslims is Sunni, 16% Shia, 22% non-affiliated and 16% other/non-response. Muslims of Arab descent are mostly Sunni (56%) with minorities who are Shia (19%). Pakistanis (62%) and Indians (82%) are mainly Sunni, while Iranians are mainly Shia (91%).Of African American Muslims, 48% are Sunni, 34% are unaffiliated, 2% Shia, the remaining are others.

In 2005, according to the New York Times, more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent United States residents — nearly 96,000 — than in any year in the previous two decades. In addition to immigration, the state, federal and local prisons of the United States may be a contributor to the growth of Islam in the country. J. Michael Waller claims that Muslim inmates comprise 17-20% of the prison population, or roughly 350,000 inmates in 2003. He also claims that 80% of the prisoners who “find faith” while in prison convert to Islam. These converted inmates are mostly African American, with a small but growing Hispanic minority. Waller also asserts that many converts are radicalized by outside Islamist groups linked to terrorism, but other experts suggest that when radicalization does occur it has little to no connection with these outside interests.

U.S. Muslim population estimates

5 million+ U.S. News and World Report

7 million Council on American-Islam Relations

There is no accurate count of the number of Muslims in the United States, as the U.S. Historically, Muslim Americans tended to support the Republican Party.

Some Muslim Americans have been criticized for letting their religious beliefs affect their ability to act within mainstream American value systems. Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis, Minnesota have been criticized for allegedly refusing passengers for carrying alcoholic beverages or dogs. The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport authority has threatened to revoke the operating authority of any driver caught discriminating in this manner. There are reported incidents in which Muslim cashiers have refused to sell pork products to their clientèle.

Public institutions in the U.S. have also been criticized for accommodating Islam at the expense of taxpayers. The University of Michigan–Dearborn and a public college in Minnesota have been criticized for accommodating Islamic prayer rituals by constructing footbaths for Muslim students using tax-payers’ money. Critics claim this special accommodation, which is made only to satisfy Muslims’ needs, is a violation of Constitutional provisions separating church and stateAlong the same constitutional lines, a San Diego public elementary school is being criticized for making special accommodations specifically for American Muslims by adding Arabic to its curriculum and giving breaks for Muslim prayers. Since these exceptions have not been made for any religious group in the past, some critics see this as an endorsement of Islam.

The first American Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, created controversy when he compared President George W. Bush’s actions after the September 11, 2001 attacks to Adolf Hitler’s actions after the Nazi-sparked Reichstag fire, saying that Bush was exploiting the aftermath of 9/11 for political gain, as Hitler had exploited the Reichstag fire to suspend constitutional liberties. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League condemned Ellison’s remarks. The congressman later retracted the statement, saying that it was “inappropriate” for him to have made the comparison.

At Columbus Manor School, a suburban Chicago elementary school with a student body nearly half Arab-American, school board officials have considered eliminating holiday celebrations after Muslim parents complained that their culture’s holidays were not included. Local parent Elizabeth Zahdan said broader inclusion, not elimination, was the group’s goal. “I only wanted them modified to represent everyone,” the Chicago Sun-Times quoted her as saying. “Now the kids are not being educated about other people.” However, the district’s superintendent, Tom Smyth, said too much school time was being taken to celebrate holidays already, and he sent a directive to his principals requesting that they “tone down” activities unrelated to the curriculum, such as holiday parties.

The 2007 Pew poll reported that 15% of American Muslims under the age of 30 supported suicide bombings against civilian targets in at least some circumstances, while a further 11 percent said it could be “rarely justified.” Among those over the age of 30, just 6% expressed their support for the same. (9% of Muslims over 30 and 5% under 30 chose not to answer). Only 5% of American Muslims had a favorable view of al-Qaeda

Some Muslims in the U.S. have adopted the strong anti-American opinions common in many Muslim-majority countries. In some cases, these are recent immigrants who have carried their anti-American sentiments with them. The Egyptian cleric, Omar Abdel-Rahman is now serving a jail sentence for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He had a long history of involvement with Islamist and jihadi groups before arriving in the US.

There is an openly anti-American Muslim group in the U.S. The Islamic Thinkers Society found only in New York City, engages in leafleting and picketing to spread their viewpoint.

Young, immigrant Muslims feel more frustrated and exposed to prejudice than their parents are. Because most U.S. Muslims are raised conservatively, and won’t consider rebelling through sex or drugs, many experiment with their faith shows a poll, dated June 7, 2007.

At least one non-immigrant American, John Walker Lindh, has also been imprisoned or convicted on charges of serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons against U.S. soldiers. He had converted to Islam in the U.S., moved to Yemen to study Arabic, and thence went to Pakistan where he was recruited by the Taliban.

Other notable cases include:

The Buffalo Six: Shafal Mosed, Yahya Goba, Sahim Alwan, Mukhtar Al-Bakri, Yasein Taher, Elbaneh Jaber. Six Muslims from the Lackawanna, N.Y. area were charged and convicted for providing material support to al Qaeda.

Iyman Faris In October 2003 Iyman Faris was sentenced to 20 years in prison for providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and conspiracy for providing the terrorist organization with information about possible U.S. targets for attack.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali In November 2005 he was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for providing material support and resources to al Qaeda, conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States, conspiracy to commit air piracy and conspiracy to destroy aircraft

Ali al-Tamimi was convicted and sentenced in April 2005 to life in prison for recruiting Muslims in the US to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson and Robert Spencer have suggested that a segment of the U.S. Muslim population exhibit hate and a wish for violence towards the United States.

Muslim convert journalist Stephen Schwartz, American Jewish Committee terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky, and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer have all separately testified to a growing radical Islamist Wahhabi influence in U.S. mosques, financed by extremist groups. According to Barsky, 80% of U.S. mosques are so radicalized. In an effort to address this extremist influence, ISNA has implemented assorted programs and guidelines in order to help mosques identify and counter any such individuals.

The Solution

The international communities with large Muslim populations have been secretly meeting to agree upon corrective steps to deal with this problem. The commission is called ‘Energy Control Commission’  and its members are: The United States, India, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. This commission has been meeting on a monthly basis in Copenhagen since July of 2006. Its sole purpose is to address the flood of potentially dangerous Muslims into Western countries. A good deal of intelligence material has surfaced in which telephone and internet communications between various Muslim activist groups point very clearly to deliberate infiltration of non-Muslim countries with the double goal of overwhelming the native populations with numbers and threats of physical violence, Muslim groups are strongly anti-Christian and are most especially vindictive towards any country that has engaged in military action against any Muslim country. The United States is considered a prime target for infiltration and domestic terrorism while Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden and France are also high on activist terrorist lists. The general agreement between all parties is that Muslims cannot remain in basically Christian countries because of their often-stated desire to not only take over these countries by population increase but also by the on-going threat of terrorism. At this time, the Commission is awaiting what is felt to be the imminent death of Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi, When this event occurs, either naturally of from outside implementation, Libya will then be opened up as a designated ‘Country of Welcome’ and when this happens, mass deportations of Europe, and America’s, Muslims will begin. This Islamic Diaspora will be implemented by a joint team of multi-national military personnel using aircraft and shipping that has already been allotted.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

September 17, 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. 98

Date: Wednesday, August 20, 1997

Commenced: 10:20 AM CST

Concluded: 10 30 AM CST

GD: And another day rushes upon us, filled with candy and goat shit. How are you today, Robert?

RTC: Tolerable. Did you get my papers?

GD: Oh yes. Thank you very, very much for the originals of the Roosevelt conversation. Kimmel would give his left nut for these.

RTC: As I understand it, he already has done this. I thought you would be the best person for these and the other papers. When, not if, I go, the vultures and sewer rats will pour into this place, gabbling to Emily and making every effort to grab anything incriminating they can find. No point in trying to educate her because she really has no grasp of these things. I imagine Trento and Kimmel having a fist fight on the stairs here so I am removing temptation from their paths. I have been culling my papers and putting all the ones I think you might be able to use in one stack and leaving the luncheon invitations in another. Give Joe and his Frau something to warm themselves with on a cold night in Front Royal. Did you like the Dulles reports from Switzerland?

GD: I know more about things going on inside the Third Reich than Dulles ever could have and his OSS reports read like Alice in Wonderland. Mueller told me that every agent Dulles parachuted into Germany got caught. Mueller turned the more intelligent ones and shot the others. He said he was in Switzerland during the war and met Dulles. Not as head of the Gestapo, of course, but as someone else. Told me Dulles couldn’t keep his pants buttoned up and was as gullible as a three year old. Why, I ask, do we hire such idiots? Never mind. Yes, these Dulles reports are hysterically funny and I can see why your people snatched them from the files and stamped ‘Top Secret’ on every page. Their beloved leader was such a dimwit.

RTC: Well, Allan thought very well of himself.

GD: Another Critchfield. Anyway, it’s interesting to read the actual words of our beloved leaders. My such propaganda about both of them. Roosevelt was part Jewish and Churchill and his father were both pansies. While the court historians are wielding the whitewash brush, I am using the scalpel. There are more of them than there are of me but I figure that one of me beats twenty of them. Such literate, or at least semi-literate, whores

RTC: The cruelty from you can be so refreshing.

GD: No, the word whore is wrong. A whore fucks for money only but a slut does it because it feels good. Most of these court historians do it to get a pat on the head from people like you. Tell me, Robert, did you wash your hands with Lysol after contact?

RTC: We gave them gift pen sets.

GD: Awesome, Robert. A real pen set. Did your DCI send them a machine-signed Christmas card?

RTC: (Laughter) Yes, often Something to impress the dog with, I suppose.

GD: The image of a dog pissing on the DCI’s card is priceless. It would be more entertaining to see the dog piss on the DCI himself.

RTC: Now, now, Gregory.

GD: Oh, I know. Loyalty dies hard but if you loved them so much, you would have never sent me so many dangerous documents that exposed them as drug runners and murderers. Not to mention being total morons in action. I can just visualize a large van full of chimpanzees pulling into the Langley parking lot every morning and a horde of chimps scrambling out and running inside to their desks. Well, if they ever get wind of your generosity with the papers, they might send you a box of doctored chocolates. Or give you an embolism like they gave Jimmy Atwood.

RTC: Well, if I get chocolates, I can pass them across the street to the Swiss.

GD: How about giving it to Trento?

RTC: He wouldn’t be worth it, believe me. Critchfield would be more to the point. Such a cow’s anus.

GD: Have mercy on cows, why not? I don’t think Jesus would like either one of us, Robert.

RTC: If a fraction of the horror stories about you I am flooded with were true, you would be a wonder. The devil himself would flee in terror before you.

GD: Oh, I’m not that bad, Robert. I seem to get on with you.

RTC: Well, yes, we do get on. Kimmel loathes you and Bill is afraid you might expose him for a champion bs artist so I take all their input with salt. My God, that idiot Irving hates you, though.

GD: Oh yes, I know. He makes more negative noise about me than a donkey that’s had a hot sweet potato shoved up his ass.

RTC: (Laughter) Did you do that? I mean with the donkey?

GD: No, not ever and I don’t like sweet potatoes either. A friend of mine did a donkey once and told me about it. The donkey was hitched to a little cart and when the business with the hot potato came down, he let out an awful bray and took off running. They found the cart about a mile away, smashed to bits up against a bridge abutment but the donkey vanished forever from the sight of man.

RTC: Probably didn’t trust people any more.

GD: Sad.

(Concluded at 10:30 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

Jennifer Margulis

Jennifer Margulis is a a journalist and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, home birth advocate, quackery promoter, author, and a radical anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist and infectious disease advocate. As most critics of modern medicine, Margulis moves between legitimate concerns related to e.g. over-treatment, and batshit paranoid conspiracy theories involving how Big Medicine and Big Pharma are out to destroy you and your children for profit.

According to herself, she is “not anti-vaccine, I am pro-questions,” which is the typical refrain among those who are anti-vaccine and don’t want those beliefs questioned, and although Margulis admits that “vaccines work”, she has repeatedly peddled many of the typical and thoroughly discredited anti-vaccine talking points, suggesting that vaccines may cause autism, that vaccine schedules recommend “too many too soon”, and that vaccines are potentially harmful because they’re not “natural”, as opposed to the often deadly diseases they prevent.

Homebirths

Margulis is perhaps most famous as a homebirth advocate and promoter of the idea of “embracing the pain to make you stronger” because it is natural. In her book The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Before Their Bottom Line (good review here; here is Margulis trying to manipulate Amazon reviews of her book), Margulis argues not only for homebirths and “parents know better than doctors” (after all, doctors were wrong before) and that bathing a newborn is harmful, but questions the need for well baby checkups – which she apparently thinks are primarily a gimmick to sell vaccines – and for giving newborns vitamin K and prophylactic eye drops. Indeed, Margulis is against chemicals in general, and tries to scare you as she has scared herself for instance by telling us hat Johnson’s Baby Wash contains “a host of unpronounceable chemicals [yes, the Food Babe gambit, no less], some of which are known toxins … and carcinogens,” which shows that Margulis has failed to grasp even the most rudimentary principles of toxicology and chemistry, or at least that she’s aware that her readers obviously haven’t. Similarly, Margulis is firmly opposed to formula, which she says is killing babies because it’s unnatural, and against disposable diapers because they contain chemicals which, according to Margulis, can cause your child to become infertile, citing – as her only evidence – a single study showing that disposable diapers, rather obviously, raise scrotal temperatures. There is another good review of the book here.

A typical move in her book is to chide doctors (lots of that) for ignoring “the existing scientific literature” on bed rest or toilet training, and then promptly assert that ultrasound exams of pregnant women may be responsible (they aren’t) for (the mythical) rising rates of autism among children, based on information by “a commentator in an online article” (who is left anonymous but has apparently “used ultrasonic cleaners to clean surgical instruments (and jewelry)”). Also, “[p]eople who do not use ultrasound, like the Amish, are at lower risk for autism,” says Margulis, which is not even wrong, since Amish women don’t reject ultrasound and the urban legend that Amish don’t get autism is demonstrably exactly that.

Indeed, her book relies primarily on i) anecdotes, and ii) appeals to nature to support her claims, as well as the (familiar) formula “anything used by mainstream doctors and hospitals = bad; anything used by midwives or alternative healers = good,” and she laments how back in the days “birthing women were usually attended by informally trained midwives who passed on their skills from generation to generation,” whereas today a birth taking place in a hospital today involves “at least half a dozen medical professionals.” Therefore giving birth was much better before. Margulis has several stories of babies or mothers dying in those horrible “sterile” and “hygienic” hospitals because of indifferent or incompetent doctors, and no stories of women dying in childbirth without the intervention of doctors; you do the math.

Of course, the mortality rates for homebirths in the US are rather frightening, something that Margulius has some trouble explaining away. Her response is … striking.

Autism

As for Margulis’s inane hypothesis that there is a connection between ultrasound and autism, she later wrote to Linda Birnbaum, the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and a toxicologist with a PhD in microbiology and an extensive publication list, offering to educate Birnbaum on the causes for the (mythical) rise in autism, citing her degrees in English and literature, her background as an “award-winning journalist” and her stay in Niger in 2006–07 (“I think it is important to have a global perspective on health”) as her qualifications. “My extensive research,” said Margulis, who has no background in research (she means google guided by confirmation bias), “as a journalist has led me to suspect that two environmental factors may be directly contributing to the autism epidemic:1) Over/ill-timed exposure to prenatal ultrasound … 2) The use of Acetaminophen, especially before or after infant vaccination. This may be the smoking gun …” Neither of the two hypotheses, which are not compatible, has any plausible connection to autism, the prevalence of which has not increased in any case – there isn’t even a correlation to confuse with causation here! The hubris of Jennifer Margulis is breathtaking.

Vaccines

“As a parent, I would rather see my child get a natural illness and contract that the way that illnesses have been contracted for at least 200,000 years that Homo sapiens has been around. I’m not afraid of my children getting chicken pox. There are reasons that children get sick. Getting sick is not a bad thing”

–       Jennifer Margulis

We don’t know if that quote needs further comment, but if you think it does, try (following one “Bradley”) to replace “illness” with “bear attack” and “getting sick” with “mauled by bear”).

Though Margulis admits, as mentioned, that vaccines save lives, she still pushes the most ridiculous and demonstrably false anti-vaxx myths. Margulis insists, for instance, that “weknow vaccines cause autism in some children”, misinterprets the significance of the Hannah Poling case and misrepresents the story of the removal of thimerosal from US vaccines. It’s all a grand conspiracy, you see; the US vaccine schedule is a result of profit motives and collusion between Big Pharma and the government. Margulis also claims that the chickenpox vaccine is more dangerous than the disease (despite the fact that the death rate from chickenpox dropped 97% after the introduction of the vaccine and no deaths have been reported from the vaccine). She even asserts, without a shred of evidence, that the doctors who most vocally support the CDC’s current vaccine schedule are choosing an alternative schedule for their own children.

In 2010, during a Frontline episode (reviewed here), Margulis asked why we are still vaccinating for polio since polio has become more rare. This is not an intelligent question.

Lately, Margulis has – in addition to continuing to promote antivaccine myths and pseudoscience published in fake studies – been observed defending Andrew Wakefield’s newest antivaccine conspiracy film Vaxxed, and writing defenses of Bob Sears related to the disciplinary proceedings against him initiated by the Medical Board of California (Sears is currently one of the celebrity members of the antivaccine movement, and probably its most famous physician, after Wakefield). She is also a mainstain at various antivaccine events, and was for instance among the speakers – an impressive lineup of conspiracy theorists – at the antivaccine rally Revolution for Truth in 2017.

Diagnosis: Rabid, loud and – frankly – stupid infectious disease advocate, conspiracy theorist and promoter of all sorts of things that count as natural according to her standards for such matters. She seems to be relatively influential, however. Extremely dangerous

 

Matt Shea

Matthew Thomas Shea has served in the Washington House of Representatives, representing the 4th Legislative District, since 2009. In 2019, he was removed as State House Republican Caucus Chair for advocating violence against religious minorities and offering state surveillance of political enemies to members of hate groups. The year before, Shea admitted to having distributed a four-page manifesto linked to the Christian Identity movement, which called for the killing of non-Christian males if they do not follow fundamentalist biblical law. (He was referred to FBI investigation as a result.) Shea also hosts the twice-weekly show Patriot Radio, which is broadcast on the American Christian Network, and has sponsored Christian Reconstructionist events in DC.

The manifesto in question, written (according to the document’s metadata) by Shea and titled Biblical Basis for War– it’s available in full here – listed a number of strategies a “Holy Army” is supposed to employ. One section, on “rules of war”, suggested that one should “make an offer of peace before declaring war”, but emphasized that the peace terms must involve that the enemy “surrender on terms” of no abortions, no same-sex marriage, no communism, and that they “must obey Biblical law”, before continuing: “If they do not yield – kill all males.” The manifesto also condemns “communism”, understood here apparently as anything Shea disagrees with, and urges the use of “assassination and sabotage” against (presumably whomever Shea perceives to be) “tyrants”. Shea claimed that the document was a summary of “biblical sermons on war”, which really doesn’t explain what the purported explanation ought to have explained in order to count as an explanation. He also dismissed criticism as nothing more than “smears and slander and innuendo and implication” (it would be interesting to hear him try to define “innuendo”), claimed that his critics are part of a so-called “counter state” made up of “Marxists” and “Islamists”, and asserted that the United States is “a Christian nation”.

Distancing himself from the contents of the manifesto turned out to be a bit tricky, however, especially after The Guardian published chat records from a four-person right-wing chat group Shea had participated in under the alias “Verum Bellator”. The group discussed surveillance, psyops, intimidation and violent attacks on political enemies, including “Antifa” activists and “communists” (under the usual, broad wingnut interpretation of those labels, of course). Shea volunteered to conduct background checks on residents of Spokane, naming in particular three individuals. In addition to Shea, the chat group included Jack Robertson, who broadcasts a far-right Radio Free Redoubt under the alias “John Jacob Schmidt” and Anthony Bosworth, a violent maniac who participated in the 2016 occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge, reportedly as a “security specialist” appointed by Shea; Shea subsequently awarded Bosworth a Patriot of the Year award in 2016. Indeed, Shea had himself travelled to the prior Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada, as a cheerleader, commenting that when it comes to the Bundy situation, Americans are divided between “patriots and loyalists”: “Are you a loyalist or are you a patriot? Are you a god-fearing, self-reliant, freedom-loving American, or are you a government-dependent, Constitution-ignoring socialist?” Of course, given that Cliven Bundy thinks taxpayers should give him tens of thousands of dollars a year in free grazing rights on public land, one suspects Shea has an idiosyncratic definition of “government-dependent”. Anyways, in response to the Guardian’s revelations, Shea attacked the author of the piece by tying him to “violent Marxist revolutionaries”, using a an anti-semitic website as source.

In August 2019 The Guardian published a second set of emails that tied Shea to Team Rugged, an organization aiming to train kids for “biblical warfare”, including weapons training to prepare the warriors for the “fight against one of the most barbaric enemies that are invading our country, Muslims terrorists [sic]”. Shea made videos in support of the group, appeared alongside them at a gathering at a religious community in remote eastern Washington, and paid the founder of the group, Patrick Caughran, money from his campaign fund in 2018. The group’s views and strategies are in part based on the teachings of white supremacist, slavery-defender, miscegenation-opponent and pastor John Weaver.

Shea is also co-founder and director of the Washington Family Foundation – Shea’s brand of “family values” are definitely of the TM kind – as well as a board member of the anti-marriage-equality group Protect Marriage Washington. During his first time in office he introduced legislation seeking to block the recognition of same-sex marriage in Washington. He also organized the Spokane chapter of ACT! for America, an anti-Muslim organization correctly designated as a hate group by the SPLC; Shea responded to the designation by stating that “the Southern Poverty Law Center – and the sheriff (Knezovich) that backs them – is the most dangerous organization in this country” (Shea has an ongoing conflict with Knezovich, a Republican). Of course, insofar as Shea’s goals for the US are aligned with the Christian Identity movement, then yeah: the SPLC is a threat and sort of ought to be.

He is no fan of the media either, referring to reporters as “dirty, godless, hateful people” at an August 2018 gun-rights rally, and referring to the local newspapers Spokesman-Review and Inlander as the “Socialist-Review” and “Inslander”, respectively. (He willingly talks to InfoWars, however, e.g. about their common concern for FEMA concentration camps.) The attitude is somewhat noteworthy given that Shea at least used to be among the eight state legislators on a Washington Legislature task force dealing with state public records laws and exemptions to them.

A diehard conspiracy theorist, Shea has long ranted about the alleged cooperation of leftists and Muslims for the purpose of creating “counter-states” in the US, and he has been invited e.g. by the John Birch society to discuss his views.

Shea has also for a while been pushing a plan for eastern Washington to secede and reconstitute as Liberty State; apparently, he is under the delusion that the result would be a prosperous, rich state with political clout. Shea is also one of the main architects behind the American Redoubt idea, the delusional idea of turning Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and parts of Oregon and Washington into a sort of fortress for Christians to ride out the collapse of society.

Diagnosis: Violent, evil, demonstrably dangerous and fueled by paranoid conspiracy theories, it does not speak well of the good people of Washington’s 4thlegislative district that they elected this maniac.

 

 

 

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