Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Via WMR

Former Donald Trump chief strategist and 2016 campaign manager Steve Bannon has become a neo-Nazi frequent flyer. Bannon established his organization, known simply as “The Movement,” with the help of some far-right Belgian politicians. In a worrying trend, The Movement is forging close ties with far-right parties and politicians around the world, including Brazil’s incoming president, Jair Bolsonaro, an admitted admirer of Adolf Hitler.

“The Movement,” a secretariat of neo-Nazi and fascist parties is headquartered in Brussels in the same suburban Brussels estate that houses the far-right Parti Populaire, which is led by Mischaël Modrikamen. Modrikamen was the only Belgian political leader to have endorsed Trump in 2016. Modrikamen also rejects a Palestinian state and his party refers to the West Bank by its Israeli names, Judea and Samaria.

Modrikamen’s association with Bannon is emblematic of the current alliance between the Israeli right-wing political establishment and fascist and neo-Nazi parties around the world. Modrikamen’s Jewish father, Marcel, was arrested in Belgium at the age of 16 by the Gestapo for being a member of the Belgian Resistance to Nazi occupation. While many neo-Nazi parties support the right-wing government of Israel and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, they launch anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish targets in their home countries. This paradox was satirized by a cartoon in the Belgian weekly, Le Vif. The cartoon shows Bannon, surrunded by flies, telling a puzzled Modrikamen, “First, we de-Jew Europe.”

The “strange bedfellows” accommodation is reminiscent of the concordat established between Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s and Naftali Lubenchik’s “Revisionist Zionist” of the 1930s and 40s and Nazi Germany. The Lehi movement, also known as the Stern Gang, favored a Revisionist Zionist alliance with Adolf Hitler to drive the British out of the Palestine mandate territory. The Lehi Movement later morphed into the present-day Likud Party of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In late 1940, the Lehi met with a Nazi diplomat in Beirut to discuss increased Jewish immigration from Europe to Palestine, in contravention of British caps on immigration to the mandate territory. The German diplomat, Werner Otto von Hentig, an admirer of Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, managed to convince Hitler to remove all obstacles to increased Jewish migration from Europe to Palestine via Yugoslav and Greek ports. This was known as the Haavara (Transfer) Agreement. Von Hentig later became an adviser to the Saudi royal family.

The primary goal of The Movement is to upend next year’s elections for the European Parliament. Because national laws in nine European Union countries ban the infusion of foreign cash and in-kind donations of support to political campaigns, including the campaign advice that Bannon’s Movement is offering, Bannon must carry out his work on the fringes of the laws. Although Bannon’s organization is based in Brussels, he sees the UK, which will soon depart the EU, as the best base of operations from which to launch his “Fourth Reich” alliance of fascist parties on the European mainland. Bannon’s political infrastructure in Britain centers around anti-European Union UK Independence Party founder Nigel Farage and Farage’s one-time chief adviser, Raheem Kassam.

Four EU countries that allow foreign campaign help — Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark — are where Bannon is concentrating his efforts to elect far-right candidates as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Bannon has established a working relationship with the governing Fidesz Party in Hungary; Matteo Salvini, the Italian Interior Minister and leader of the League party; Dutch Party of Freedom leader Geert Wilders; the far-right Vox party in Spain; Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter; the National Rally of Marine Le Pen in France; and the governing Law and Justice of Poland. Bannon has established links with the Italian fascist party, Brothers of Italy, and its leader, Giorgia Meloni. Bannon has also forged ties with far-right politicians in Switzerland, which is not an EU member, and far-right white Afrikaner groups like the Suidlanders.

Right-wingers, some the children and grandchildren of the white Rhodesian diaspora around the world, others neo-Nazi and white supremacists, are championing a return of white minority rule to Zimbabwe, the former white-ruled Rhodesia. Slogans like “Make Zimbabwe Rhodesia Again” are appearing on social media. Bannon also has links to the resurgent Rhodesian diaspora movement.

Although the United States and Britain have laws preventing foreign cash infusions into their political campaigns, Bannon and his associates, including British right-wing businessman Arron Banks, were able to skirt those laws. In 2015, Bannon was able to funnel money and assistance to Banks’s Leave.EU campaign. The vehicle was Bannon’s and the Mercers’ Cambridge Analytica. The UK-based Cambridge Analytica and its sister firm, SCL Elections, both defunct, are under investigation by Britain’s Parliament, National Crime Agency, and the UK Electoral Commission for illegally laundering foreign funds into the Brexit campaign in 2015 and 2016. Similarly, Cambridge Analytica is under investigation by U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller for acting as an interface between the Trump campaign and foreign interests.

In recent weeks, Bannon has spoken at the Oxford Union in England, despite Oxford University protests that saw picket signs bearing the messages “Fascists Not Welcome,” “Racist Bannon Not Welcome Here,” ‘Steve Bannon Out of Oxford,” and “Kick Racism Off Our Campus.” Earlier this month, Bannon appeared at a debate in Toronto, sponsored by the Aurea Foundation, a charitable organization established by Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk. Protesters in the audience unfurled a banner that read, “No Hate. No Bigotry. No Place for Bannon’s White Supremacy.”

Bannon was also invited to speak at the News Xchange conference in Edinburgh. When she discovered that Bannon was one of the conference speakers, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon withdrew from participation in the event. Bannon was greeted by protest signs, such as “Nae Nazis.”

Where Bannon is obtaining the funds to travel throughout Europe, pushing his fascist movement, has many governments inquiring about his funding sources. Ironically, Bannon claims a large portion of his personal fortune arises from his owning partial rights to the sitcom Seinfeld, a program whose Jewish actors and characters might seem anathema to Bannon’s friends in the neo-Nazi movement.

Bannon was a key player in the former election manipulation firm, Cambridge Analytica, which was behind the malfeasance involved in the 2016 Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Bannon also co-founded the right-wing Breitbart News in 2006. Cambridge Analytica and Breitbart received financial support from billionaire hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer. Bannon’s Belgian partner’s wife, Yasmine Dehaene, serves as Secretary General of her husband’s Parti Populaire. She was also executive director of the alliance of far-right parties in the European Parliament, the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE). Campaign financing violations and in-fighting within the UK Independence Party of Trump’s and Bannon’s colleague, Farage, saw the ADDE ultimately collapse.

In December 2016, a little over a month after Trump’s election, Dahaene was in Israel,along with her husband, to speak at the second Jerusalem Leaders Summit, an invitation-only event. The first summit, in 2015, also featured Dahaene and her ADDE as participants, along with the right-wing Heritage Foundation of the United States. The Modrikamens are frequent travelers to Israel.

Participating in the 2016 summit were Representative David Brat of Virginia and Republican Representative-elect Scott Taylor of Virginia — Republicans, who were recently defeated by Democrats — Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked; Becky Norton Dunlop of the Heritage Foundation and Trump’s presidential transitional team; UKIP MEPs Bill Etheridge, Paul Nuttall, Roger Helmer, and Ray Finch; and Sanford Saunders, Co-Managing Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, the one-time Washington, DC law firm of disgraced and convicted Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

It seems unlikely that Bannon’s operations in Europe and his high-cost travel — involving private planes, chauffeured vehicles, and expensive luxury hotels — to Paris, London, Rome, Venice, Lyon, Prague, Edinburgh, and other cities are being underwritten by partial royalties from Seinfeld re-runs. The Mercers claim they cut Bannon off after his stint as Trump’s chief strategist in the White House. There are reports that Trump, who calls Bannon “Sloppy Steve” — a reference to Bannon’s often unshaven and unkempt appearance — still communicate via the phone. It is also widely believed that Bannon continues to have an interest in the follow-on companies to Cambridge Analytica, which include Emerdata and Auspex International. Although there are multiple denials by the principals, Bannon and his election manipulation associates, who have monetized psychographic data mined from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are believed to have played a part in the electoral wins of Bolsonaro in Brazil and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Pakistan.

Many Americans and Europeans seem to believe that Bannon is a mere caricature of an obese modern-day Hermann Goering. He is much more dangerous. The “Movement” he represents has financial links going back to the U.S.-run “rat lines” that spirited Nazis out of Europe, including places like Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia, and ultimately to South America, Canada, and the United States. Many settled in Bannon’s native southern California, where they became active in the right-wing “Captive Nations” movement that allied with far-right groups like the John Birch Society and Young Americans for Freedom. While there may not be lost “Nazi gold” financing Bannon’s operations, there are generational links to the old Nazis who are assisting Trump’s former “brain.” One of these is Sebastian Gorka, the Hungarian-British-American who worked with Bannon at the White House before both were fired. Gorka holds the Hungarian Order of Vitéz, a medal awarded by the pro-Nazi regime in Hungary to Hungarians who fought with the Nazis against the Allies in World War II. Gorka’s father, Paul Gorka, also holds the order.

What is needed in Europe and other countries being wooed by Bannon and his so-called “populists,” a feel-good cover name for Nazis and fascists, is a popular front reminiscent of that cobbled together in the 1930s and 40s by Europe’s socialists, social democrats, communists, and radical liberals to fight against the Nazis and fascists. The Popular Fronts of Europe not only had to battle against the far-right, but the Trotskyists, who wanted to totally dominate leftist united fronts and exclude bourgeois parties like the liberals. Often, the Popular Fronts were rendered ineffective by internal division, particularly in Germany, Spain, and France.

Today, the left in the United States has its own Trojan horses in “boutique” parties like the Greens and Libertarians, that cooperate with right-wing Republicans to deny electoral victories to the Democrats. Europe must learn how to be smarter than Bannon and his cohorts in combating the resurgence of Nazism and fascism.

In case it goes down the memory hole in the midst of all the tributes

Chasing the Saudi-Sarasota connection

For many years, former Florida U.S. Sen. Bob Graham has been a lonely voice urging people to do something about Saudi Arabia.

Now that a group of Saudi security agents are accused in Turkey of killing a Washington Post journalist, Graham is hoping it will get a strong reaction from officials in the United States. So far, President Donald J. Trump and other officials in Washington have done nothing to punish the Saudi government for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the wake of news from Turkey that he was lured to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and murdered last month.

Graham believes the Saudis are also responsible for the deaths of Americans killed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.

Fifteen of the nineteen men who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Graham has spent a lot of years trying to help the families of Americans killed on that day and put a spotlight on the actions of high- ranking Saudi officials. It has not been easy.

An important family of Saudi citizens suddenly left their home and cars in a gated Sarasota subdivision just two weeks before September 11, 2001, the day nearly 3,000 Americans died in the worst terrorist attack ever launched in the United States.

Graham was chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chairman of a joint congressional committee that investigated the attacks. The Committee heard about the Saudis who were on airplanes, but was not told about the Sarasota family that had been visited repeatedly by some of the Saudi pilots who took over those airplanes filled with passengers and crashed them into buildings.

That information came to Graham and others from a report in the FloridaBulldog.org, a South Florida nonprofit news organization.

Graham was flabbergasted to learn from a reporter in September 2011 that the FBI had compiled a report on the Sarasota family. That report that was never given to members of the joint committee investigating the attack. The FBI initially denied the existence of reports on the Sarasota connection, but after Graham and reporters continued to press for access to records, the FBI turned over over 80,000 pages to a federal judge in South Florida. U.S. District Judge William J. “Bill” Zloch has spent the past six years reading the 80,000 pages, but has not responded to a request from Graham’s lawyers for a status report.

The 9/11 Commission’s official report said the hijackers acted on their own without help. But the Joint Committee’s earlier report included a 28-page segment dealing with the FBI’s investigation of Saudi involvement titled “Specific sources of foreign support for hijackers.’’ Those 28 pages were classified by the FBI and not made pubic until 2016.

Graham has long believed those working to block release of the report were trying to protect access to Saudi oil reserves and longtime friendships between the United States and Saudi Arabia. He has received almost no help from other public officials and some officials have repeatedly suggested he “forget it.’’

And the FBI went to some trouble to convince Graham to stop asking questions. Just before Thanksgiving in 2011, Graham, who had retired from the Senate six years earlier, and his wife, Adele, were heading to Washington to spend Thanksgiving with family. The FBI sent agents to meet him at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington. They were detained by high ranking FBI agents, who locked Mrs. Graham in a room by herself while they tried to convince the former senator that the FBI had done a thorough investigation and concluded there was no relationship between the Saudi family that fled Sarasota and the hijackers.

Graham was not convinced. He had seen some of the reports indicating that Mohammed Atta, the Saudi who flew the first plane into the World Trade Center, had been a visitor to the Saudi family’s house in Sarasota. The license plate of the car Atta was driving had been photographed at the subdivision gatehouse and guards had recorded his name in entry logs. When Graham tried to contact the agent who had written the reports, he was told the agent had been transferred from Tampa to Honolulu and was instructed not to return telephone calls.

There was a similar situation in San Diego, where a Saudi family had provided assistance to other hijackers in the United States to obtain flight training, but that incident was reported to members of the joint investigative committee.

“The United States has continued a policy of placating the Saudis that has lasted for three administrations,’’ Graham noted. “It has emboldened them to do even worse things.’’

He is hopeful that some administration will at some point say “To hell with this, we’re going to start treating Saudi Arabia for what it is: a narcissistic nation-state whose only apparent redeeming feature is that it sits on top of the world’s largest petroleum reserves while protecting the identity of Saudi malefactors,’’ Graham said.

The fight by Graham and others to gain access to all of the records is being waged in three different federal courts. The families of those killed on September 11 finally won the right to file suit against Saudi Arabia in an attempt to seek damages. It took an act of Congress and a vote to overturn a presidential veto to gain that right. Their lawsuit for damages is still pending.

Meanwhile, the Florida Bulldog is pursuing two Freedom of Information Act suits against the FBI. The first, before Judge Zloch, is attempting to obtain the bureau’s records of its Sarasota investigation. The second, now before a federal appeals court in Atlanta, seeks record of the FBI’s 9/11 Review Commission.

“I just turned 82 on Friday,’’ Graham says. “I hope I live long enough to see the truth.’’

Journalist Greg Palast details how Brian Kemp, Georgia’s current Secretary of State who is running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, allegedly pulled off this mass purge, including identifying voters who were thought to have moved out of state or moved out of their congressional district…

Jamal Khashoggi & Hatice Cengiz

VIA

In this insane historical era in which we currently live, events, their causes and consequences do not necessarily follow this particular logical sequence of reporting and analyzing; and we have to get used to much worse.

To this effect, a week ago, it was almost impossible to work out who “killed” Khashoggi and why even though the financial and political and consequences were fairly obvious. However, the events of the few days that followed are beginning to shed some light for speculation about the how and why Mr. Khashoggi was killed and who did it.

In asking “how”, the question is not in relation to the gory details of how the man was physically murdered, but in the events that have possibly led to this fateful event. Some conspiracy theorists abound about there being no death or murder. Were he alive, given that the Saudi’s are under such extreme attack worldwide, they would find any opportunity to drag this man before the world’s cameras to prove their innocence.

To analyze the events leading up to the entry of Mr. Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October 2018, we need to look at a myriad of facts and also possibilities; including cultural ones.

It is very hard to understand the Saudi mind for someone who has never lived in that country. One of the many peculiar aspects of this state is that people, even ordinary people, do not engage in the day-to-day official requirements that members of other nations would.

When I worked and lived in Saudi Arabia, one of the first things I learnt was that the company I worked for had a fulltime employee with the job description of “Mu’aqeb”. The best translation of this title is “expeditor”. This man was in charge of every matter that had to do with dealing with government. He is the one who takes one’s passport and sees that a Saudi “Iquama” (temporary certificate of residence) is produced. He is the one who renews driving licenses. He is the one that does the necessary paperwork to grant employees exit and re-entry visas when they go away on holidays. He even applies on one’s behalf for visas to visit other countries. He even paid water and electricity bills. He did it all, and of course, on top of his salary, he expected a present from employees on their return to work from holidays, and some employees would risk big penalties smuggling in Playboy magazines to reward him with. But the company I worked for was not alone in this regard; all other companies had their own “Mu’aqeb”.

It is against the Saudi psyche, culture and “pride” to go to a government office, wait in line and make an application for anything. Not even uneducated poor Saudis are accustomed to go through the rigmarole of government red-tape and routine.

Mr. Khashoggi was from the upper crust, and it is highly doubtful that he would have been willing and prepared to physically enter the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul seeking an official document.

Furthermore and more importantly, Mr. Khashoggi had a better reason not to enter any Saudi territory. Even though some recent reports portray him as a Wahhabi in disguise among other things, the man had nonetheless made some serious anti-MBS (Mohamed bin Salman) statements.

Jamal Khashoggi was no fool. He knew the modus operandi of the Saudi Government too well. He knew that what he had said was tantamount to a death sentence in the brutal Kingdom of Sand. So what incited him to walk into the Consulate? To receive a divorce certificate so he could remarry as the reports are trying to make us believe? Not a chance.

But this is not all. As a Muslim, Mr. Khashoggi could have gone to any country that upholds Muslim marriage rites and remarried without having to formally divorce his first wife, and then go to America and live with his “new wife” under the guise of a de-facto relationship. So why would he risk his life and walk into a potential death trap?

Logic stipulates that Khashoggi entered the Consulate after he was given vehement assurances that his safety was guaranteed by the Saudi Crown. He would have never entered the Consulate had he not been given this assurance.
But why would the Saudi Government give him this assurance even though he had been very critical of MBS? A good question.

Once again, a logical hypothetical answer to this question could be that Khashoggi had some important meeting with a high ranking Saudi official to discuss some issues of serious importance, and this normally means that he had some classified information to pass on to the Saudi Government; important enough that the Saudi Crown was prepared to set aside Khashoggi’s recent history in exchange of this information.

If we try to connect more dots in a speculative but rational manner, the story can easily become more interesting.
Hatice Cengiz (Turkish for Khadijeh Jengiz) it is claimed, raised the first alarm for Khashoggi’s disappearance, announcing at the same time that she is/was his fiancée. But that latter announcement of hers came as a surprise even to Khashoggi’s own family.

Not much is said and speculated about Hatice in the West, but she is definitely making some headlines in the Arab World, especially on media controlled and sponsored by Saudi Arabia. To this effect, and because the Saudi neck is on the chopping board, it is possible that for the first time ever perhaps, the Saudis are telling the truth.
But the Saudis are the boys who cried wolf, and no one will ever believe them. But, let us explore how they might have got themselves into this bind.

As we connect the dots, we speculate as follows:

Some reports allege that Hatice has had a colourful history, including Mossad training. The same YouTube alleges that she was a Gülenist and was arrested by Erdogan and released under the condition that she works for his security apparatus in order to guarantee her freedom. If such is the case, do we know if she has been also blackmailed in exchange for security of family members, loved ones, property etc? We don’t know.

It has also been reported that Jamal Khashoggi met her only as early as May 2018 and later introduced her as an expert on Omani history and politics. In reality, irrespective of what his family members are saying now, Khashoggi has never introduced her to the world as his fiancée; and this is fact.

So was she his fiancée?

It is at least possible that she wasn’t?

So, who was she to Khashoggi and what role did she possibly play?

The following speculation cannot be proved, but it makes sense:

To explain what a Gülenist is for the benefit of the reader who is unaware of this term, Erdogan blamed former friend and ally Fethullah Gülen for the failed coup attempt of July 2016 and persecuted his followers, putting tens of thousands of them in jail. Erdogan’s relationship with America was already deteriorating at that time because of America’s support to Syrian Kurds, and to add to Erdogan’s woes, America was and continues to give Gülen a safe haven despite many requests by Erdogan to have him extradited to Turkey to face trial. But Gülen is falling out of America’s favour as he seems to have outlived his use-by date, and the Gülenist movement would be in dire need of a new benefactor.

Cengiz, a former Gülenist, released on the above-mentioned conditions and possible threats, might have introduced herself to Khashoggi as an undercover Gülenist, and she had a history to support her claim. Being a former Gülenist, she might have indeed kept a foot in the Gülenist camp, and with the diminishing support of the American Government to the Gulenist movement, she might have been recruited to source finance. The Gülenists might have eyed Saudi Arabia to take this role, and as the rift between the Saudi royals and Erdogan intensified after their former joint effort to topple the legitimate secular government of Syria, the Gülenists would have found in Al-Saud what represents an enemy of an enemy, and they had to find a way to seek Saudi support against Erdogan. MBS himself would have inadvertently invited the Gülenists to approach him when he announced, back in March 2018 during a visit to the Coptic Pope Tawadros II in Egypt, that the triangle of evil in the Middle East is comprised of Iran, Islamist extremists groups and Turkey, and, in naming Turkey, he obviously meant Erdogan personally.

Khashoggi, with his expansive connections, looked like a good candidate to introduce the would-be new partners and broker a deal between them.

Back to what may have incited Khashoggi to enter the Saudi Consulate and to why the Saudi Government would have, in that case, given him a safe entry despite his history. Possibly, Khashoggi believed that he had a “big story” to relay to the Saudi Government; one that most likely exposed big time anti-Saudi dirt about Erdogan.

With the Saudi-led Wahhabi version of fundamentalist Islam competing with the Muslim Brotherhood side, politically and militarily headed by Erdogan, it is not far-fetched to believe that either party is conspiring to topple the other. If Khashoggi had a story to this effect, even if it was fake but credible enough for him to believe, it would have given him the impetus to seek an audience at the Saudi Consulate and hence an expectation for the Consulate to positively reciprocate. In reality, given the history and culture involved, it is hard to fathom that any scenario short of this one would have given either Khashoggi and/or the Saudi officials enough reasons to meet in the manner and place they did.

It is highly likely that Saudi officials had several contingency plans for Khashoggi’s visit; depending on its outcome and the information that he had to offer. Those plans might have included giving him a wide range of treatments, ranging from a red carpet reception in Saudi Arabia, to beheading and dismembering him within the Consulate’s grounds. What happened after Khashoggi entered the precinct of the Consulate is fairly muddy and hard to speculate on. If the above speculations thus far have been accurate, then these are the possible scenarios that followed the fateful CCTV coverage of Khashoggi’s entry to the Consulate:

1. It is possible that the Saudi officials in Turkey have had their own contacts with the Gülenists prior to the supposed ground-breaking visit of Khashoggi. In such a case, if the story Khashoggi may have offered did not fall in line with the story the Saudi’s already know, then Khashoggi would have automatically been branded as suspicious and his safe entry would have been revoked. In such a case, he would have walked into his own trap.

2. On the other hand, if Khashoggi indeed gave Saudi authorities vital information, so vital that it clearly is vehemently pro-Gülen, and as Gülen is no longer an American favourite, then upon his return to America he may have become a Saudi liability that can potentially muddy the Saudi-American waters that the Saudis desperately try to keep clear. In such an instance, it would be opportune for the Saudis to finish him off before he could return to America.

3. A third possibility is that some Saudi officials already working covertly with Gülen saw in Khashoggi an already persona non grata, a dangerous Erdogan implant and decided to take action against him.

If any of the above scenarios are accurate, then the role of Erdogan in this story is not that of a scavenger who capitalized on the rift generated between the Saudis and America, but that he was instrumental in conjuring up and orchestrating the whole drama. Erdogan might have subjected the Saudi Government to the Gülen litmus test, and in such a case, the victim is Saudi Arabia and the scavenger is America seeking silence money in lieu of continued protection of Saudi interests.

In all of the above scenarios, Khashoggi would have been driven into the trap by his alleged fiancée and had his impunity revoked by the Saudi officials because he failed the test.

But what triggered him off personally to walk into this possible trap? What was in it for him? Definitely not divorce documents. Most likely, Khashoggi was after amnesty from the Saudi Crown, and this would be a safety concern not only for Khashoggi himself, but also for his family that continued to live in Saudi Arabia. He may well have thought that by providing vital and sensitive information to his government, his previous “sins” would be set aside and he would be treated as a hero, his family would feel safe, despite that fact that he has criticized the Crown Prince in the past.

Arabic media are inundated with posts and YouTube videos that are very damning of Hatice Cengiz. Most of them perhaps are Saudi propaganda and should not be taken for a grain of salt. In reality however, her sudden emergence as Khashoggi’s “fiancée”, the fact that she allegedly waited for nearly 24 hours before reporting his disappearance and her personal, professional and political history are all factors that cast much doubt about her innocence and instead, portray her as a possible key element in the series of events that led to the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Furthermore, why would a person in her position make rules and conditions about meeting the President of the United States of America, even if this President is Donald Trump? How many people in history have refused the invitation of American Presidents? Who does she think she is or who is she trying to portray herself as?
And if Trump is seizing the opportunity to grab MBS, and this time he will be grabbing by the wallet, if Erdogan smells a hint of preparedness of MBS to support Gülen, then Erdogan would want MBS’s wallet and head. Any whichever way, the silver lining of this story is that for once, Saudi Arabia is finally running for cover. Few around the world will give this brutal royal family any sympathy.

There are other rumours spreading in the Arab world now alluding to the removal of MBS from office and passing over the reins to his brother. MBS has committed heinous war crimes in Yemen and has made huge errors of judgment with regard to Syria and Qatar. He made many enemies, and it seems that Erdogan is out to get him.

It does seem possible that the Assad-must-go curse has reached the neck of the Saudi throne.

At the demise of empire, City of London financial interests created a web of secrecy jurisdictions that captured wealth from across the globe and hid it in a web of offshore islands. Today, up to half of global offshore wealth is hidden in British jurisdictions and Britain and its dependencies are the largest global players in the world of international finance…

VIA

My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished.

This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017. If you’re a Georgia resident, check the list. If your name is on it, re-register right now. You only have through tomorrow (October 9).

It’s no coincidence that Georgia’s Purge’n General is also running for Governor: The Republican candidate is fighting a dead-even race against Stacey Abrams, Democratic House Minority Leader. Abrams, if she wins, would become the first Black woman governor in US history.

Suspiciously, Kemp sent no notice to these citizens after he took away their voting rights. If they show up to vote on November 6, they’re out of luck — and so is Georgia’s democracy.

I brought in one of the nation’s top mailing database experts, Mark Swedlund, and his team to go through the list, name by name. Among the voters purged are thousands who supposedly left the state but remain in Georgia. Thousands more are people who moved from one end of town to another and lost their vote — and we even found one who simply moved from one apartment to another in the same building.

These registration cancellations are therefore dead wrong and, say voting law experts, coldly break the law.

That is why Gerald Griggs, counsel for the Atlanta NAACP, and voting rights attorney Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project (a nonpartisan voter registration initiative), are joining in my suit against Kemp.

We’ll be hauling Kemp into federal court to force him to open the records to which the public is entitled under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 — provisions meant to prevent just this type of voter roll shenanigan. In particular, we’re forcing him to disclose the complete detailed process that led to each voter’s removal.

I don’t file federal suits on a whim. Kemp has continually turned down legitimate Open Records Act requests over my five years of investigation for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone.

Griggs and Ufot made their announcement about the suit at a press conference October 2 in Atlanta at the national headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the civil rights group that traces its origins to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The location was meant to make a point. The racial stench from the computerized torching of the Georgia voter files has motivated prominent civil rights leaders from Georgia to add their names to the lawsuit: Axel Adams, executive editor of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition that grew out of two nonprofit organizations founded by Jesse Jackson; Joe Beasley, the former southern regional director for Rainbow PUSH; and SCLC President Dr. Charles Steele Jr., who currently holds the post held by Dr. Martin L. King Jr. until his assassination.

Steele told the gathered media and rights leaders, “Many people have died and paid the supreme sacrifice for people to have the right to vote. What is taking place here in Georgia is an insult to all these efforts and accomplishments.”

Why did I wait to release endangered voters’ names until days before the last day of registration? Because Kemp dragged his feet on my request for the purge lists until literally the last hours before of the 90-day deadline imposed by the law.

I tried to get Kemp’s answers to the NAACP’s and SCLC’s charges that the mass purge of 1 in 10 Georgia voters was aimed at decimating the Black electorate so he could steal the governorship from Abrams.

Technically, Kemp removed voters after they had skipped voting — and failed to return a postcard that, according to Morgan County Elections Board member Helen Butler, “Looks like junk mail. You’d throw it away.” Butler, who also serves as executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, is wary of Kemp’s purge methods. Just last year, her group settled a suit against Kemp that forced him to return over 40,000 voters to the rolls.

The National Voter Registration Act specifically prohibits cancelling voter registrations for not voting. But the failure to vote, in combination with not returning a postcard or other information, can be used to justify a cancellation if there is legitimate belief this is evidence the voter has moved.

“But they have not moved,” notes Swedlund, who says not returning a postcard is an “absurd, dangerous” way to determine if voters have moved — especially if their rights are at stake. And basing cancellations on non-responses to postcards is, Swedlund notes, endemically biased against voters who move often, including the poor, students, and Black and Latino voters — in other words, Democrats.

Notably, Swedlund’s analysts found that 108,000 of the names on Kemp’s hit list were also on the notorious “Interstate Crosscheck” list, which my investigations team had obtained from an insider in Kemp’s office as part of my investigations for Rolling Stone.

The lists were created for Georgia by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, President Donald Trump’s “fraudulent voter hunter.” Kobach himself, interviewed in Kansas, told me the list was sent to Kemp and others to indicate a voter had moved out of state. In fact, we went through each and every Crosscheck-tagged voter’s name — and only 2,000 of the 108,000 Crosschecked voters who were purged have left the state. And the majority of others purged had not moved from their original registration address. In simple terms, most of those whose registrations have been cancelled are legitimate Georgia voters.

Representatives from Kemp’s office issued a statement this week denying they used the Crosscheck list, but they did not know we had obtained the list despite Kemp’s resistance. Furthermore, Kemp’s former deputy and his predecessor as Secretary of State both confirmed Georgia participated in Crosscheck.

Meanwhile, Kemp had no clear response as to why the others were removed.

So, I thought it important to get the answers about the purges from the horse’s mouth. But Kemp has weaved and ducked all my interview requests in my several trips to Georgia beginning in 2014.

So, this time, I decided to track down his campaign bus. On Tuesday, I located the candidate in the parking lot of a BBQ joint in Newnan, 38 miles outside Atlanta. You could smell the pigs roasting.

I asked Kemp, bluntly, “Mr. Kemp are you removing Black voters from the voter rolls just so you can win this election?”

Kemp’s answer was to turn his back as I was physically body-blocked, then grabbed and hauled away by Georgia “smokies,” the local county deputy sheriffs. (They claimed that Sprayberry’s Barbecue ordered me off the property, but the owner said otherwise.) It was later reported that his handlers had clocked me before the bus pulled in.

The civil rights leaders are dissatisfied with Kemp’s response and will press our litigation. “Georgia,” said the SCLC’s Steele, “needs to know that we’re not going to take it anymore.”

Rose McGowan on the #MeToo ‘movement’

Rose McGowan isn’t one to be silenced. The Charmed alum is sharing her opinion about the #MeToo movement, the survivors’ brunches and campaign lunches.

“It’s all bulls–t,” the 45-year-old activist told The Sunday Timesin an interview published on Sunday, October 7. “It’s a lie. It’s a Band-Aid lie to make them feel better.”

McGowan also revisited her thoughts on Meryl Streep. The 69-year-old actress had said in a December statement she knew nothing about Weinstein’s actions until last year, but McGowan told TheSunday Times she thinks it’s “literally impossible.”

Another thing McGowan has strong beliefs in? While she thinks Donald Trump supporters are wrong about most things, there’s one thing she can agree with them on.

“They hate Hollywood for being faux liberals — and they’re 100 percent right about that,” she explained. “It’s a bunch of faux liberals. It’s crap, and they know it is deep down, but they’re living an empty life, and to me that’s their punishment. They get to live the lives they live.”

McGowan has been open about her thoughts on other famous faces associated with the #MeToo movement, including her former Charmed costar Alyssa Milano, who re-launched the campaign hashtag in 2017. (#MeToo was originated by Tamara Burke in 2006.)

“I don’t like her,” McGowan said of the 45-year-old former Who’s The Boss? star during an interview with Nightline in January. “‘Cause I think she’s a lie.”

The Italian native went on to note that she doesn’t believe that Milano’s support of Time’s Up is genuine. “Do you think I don’t know these people? Do the math,” the Brave author added, with a nod to Milano’s husband, Hollywood agent David Bugliari. “Who’s behind Time’s Up? CAA. Where do they meet? CAA? Who needs good PR? CAA. Who are part of the pimp problem? CAA.”

Milano responded to McGowan’s comments following her Nightline interview.

“I am and always have been completely supportive of Rose and admire her bravery and speaking out about her experiences,” she said. “My goal throughout the past few months with both #MeToo and the TimesUp movement has been to use my platform to give others a voice so we can all work together to stamp out sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov

Russia’s military intelligence agency isn’t stupid

Six months after the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent in the United Kingdom, details about the suspected killers are finally coming out. According to British prosecutors, the two men named as suspects belonged to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, which is the very agency Skripal worked for when he was a British spy. On the one hand, these alleged ties attest to the GRU’s aggressive agenda—something of which governments in the West should be wary. On the other hand, an excessive focus on this service, as well as an emerging narrative about its supposed clumsiness, is dangerous.

Details about the possible assassins started to come out on Sept. 5, when Neil Basu, the assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, named two Russians traveling under the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as the chief suspects. A massive investigation, in which some 250 detectives took more than 1,400 statements and scoured 11,000 hours of surveillance footage, had allowed the police to track the two men over a three-day stay in the United Kingdom. Police say they arrived on a flight from Moscow on the afternoon of Friday, March 2. The next day, they stayed at a London hotel, where they allegedly prepared the nerve agent, Novichok, used in the attack. And on Sunday, police say they traveled to Skripal’s residence in the city of Salisbury. An hour and a half after arriving, having anointed the door handle of his house with Novichok and discarded the fake perfume bottle in which it was being carried in a nearby park, the suspects were on a train back to the airport and on to Moscow.

Speaking in Parliament after the commissioner’s briefing, Prime Minister Theresa May said that the two men were GRU operatives, which she described as a “highly disciplined organization with a well-established chain of command.” Although she refrained from mentioning Russian President Vladimir Putin by name, the implication that he likely knew about Petrov and Boshirov’s plan was clear. “This was not a rogue operation,” May continued. “It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.”

In this, she is undoubtedly right. Although Russia’s various security services (and its other instruments of geopolitical struggle against the West) are granted considerable operational autonomy, major operations with potentially serious international implications need a green light from the Kremlin. Besides, there have been none of the usual indications—from mysterious resignations to well-sourced and damning leaks—which usually show that an individual or agency overstepped the mark. Whether Putin instigated the attack or, more likely, simply approved it, it was surely a state operation.

The fact of Putin’s likely involvement has led to a flurry of stories on the GRU: how it operates, why it exists, and why it got caught. But that focus, while perhaps understandable, is also problematic. The agency—which since 2010 has been technically named the Main Directorate of the General Staff, abbreviated in Russian as G.U., but is still universally known by its previous initials, GRU—has been named in the U.S. election interference investigation, blamed for an attempted coup in Montenegro in 2016, and even suspected of shooting down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine in 2014. Although the last is questionable—the GRU certainly helped create the Donbass rebellion and armed and directed warlords, but there is no evidence tying it to the actual decision to fire on the plane—the agency is undeniably active across the world.

It also has something of a reputation for taking chances other services would not. It controls the Spetsnaz, Russia’s special forces, and its intelligence officers pride themselves on having a military culture in which a mission must be accomplished, whatever the cost.

But the GRU is not alone. A different team, from either the SVR (Russia’s equivalent of the CIA) or the FSB (the domestic security service, which is increasingly active abroad), has also broken into Democratic Party servers. It was the SVR that ran the infamous “Illegals Program” that was spying in the United States and was busted by the FBI in 2010. Members of the FSB—arguably Putin’s closest allies—are involved in a global campaign of trolling and disinformation. That agency even kidnapped an Estonian security officer across the border in 2014.

In response to the assassination attempt on Skripal, the United Kingdom has vowed to step up its campaign against the GRU and pledged to “dismantle its networks” and unleash a cyber-campaign against its communications. This is fine—just part of the appropriate counterintelligence response to any agency launching attacks on another country’s soil. But the danger is that a narrow focus on the GRU takes away attention from other threats. The FSB and the SVR both have—and use—a license to kill, and they are both active in the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America. Targeting the GRU alone is a little like going after Petrov and Boshirov: launching a war to take out a few foot soldiers. The orders came from the Kremlin, and the GRU is just one of the tools as its disposal.

Even more worrying than a blinkered focus on the GRU is a new narrative emerging that paints the body’s operatives as a bunch of murderous morons. British Security Minister Ben Wallace, for example, drew parallels with a comedy movie spoof spook, calling this operation “more Johnny English than James Bond.” The fact that the Skripals survived, that the would-be assassins have allegedly been identified, and that an innocent bystander died from the discarded Novichok have all been cited to make this case.

Believing this would be a serious mistake. First of all, Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, did survive the attack, but only because of a combination of luck and the presence near Salisbury of the British government’s specialist military chemical weapons laboratory. It could very easily have gone differently.

Further, Moscow would have had no illusions about the fact that its operatives would in due course be identified, particularly in an age of ubiquitous surveillance cameras and travel visas. “Petrov” and “Boshirov” are certainly “legends,” that is, false identities created for this use and then discarded. The intrepid Russian investigative journalism site Fontanka has turned up some supposed details of the pair’s backstories, such as home addresses and past traffic fines. Tellingly, however, there is nothing to connect the two men who are suspected of carrying out the attacks to these details other than their names. It is likely that the assassins took the identities of innocent third parties or that the backstories were created from scratch precisely to make the men seem like real people.

The GRU’s ethos of completing the mission no matter what means that innocent lives lost or even the revelation of agents’ names are not blunders so much as irrelevancies. Indeed, given that this operation was likely as much about sending a message to London as killing one traitor, the furor may even be considered a feature rather than a bug.

If all the Russians had wanted to do was kill Skripal, then there were much easier, cheaper, and more discreet ways of doing so. However, with stories circulating that Skripal had been briefing the Estonians on Russian secrets and maybe even helping the Ukrainians, a breach of the implicit deal behind the pardon he got from the Kremlin in 2010, Moscow would have wanted to let London know it was not amused. The GRU used a Russian-made nerve agent—and one brewed in a specialist facility, not whipped up in a school lab—in order to ensure that while the Kremlin maintained a certain nod-and-a-wink deniability, there could be little serious doubt of who was responsible. All the while, Moscow’s apologists can say that the attack was “too obvious” for a real Russian operation, while the Kremlin can sit back knowing that the British government will know exactly who was involved. Mission accomplished.

Of course, this article tries to distance itself from our own military’s use of these same type of weapons and no mention of the CIA’s own MK Ultra program

During the Cold War, Washington feared that Moscow was seeking to turn microwave radiation into covert weapons of mind control.

More recently, the American military itself sought to develop microwave arms that could invisibly beam painfully loud booms and even spoken words into people’s heads. The aims were to disable attackers and wage psychological warfare.

Now, doctors and scientists say such unconventional weapons may have caused the baffling symptoms and ailments that, starting in late 2016, hit more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. The Cuban incidents resulted in a diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington.

The medical team that examined 21 affected diplomats from Cuba made no mention of microwaves in its detailed report published in JAMA in March. But Douglas H. Smith, the study’s lead author and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a recent interview that microwaves were now considered a main suspect and that the team was increasingly sure the diplomats had suffered brain injury.

“Everybody was relatively skeptical at first,” he said, “and everyone now agrees there’s something there.” Dr. Smith remarked that the diplomats and doctors jokingly refer to the trauma as the immaculate concussion.

Strikes with microwaves, some experts now argue, more plausibly explain reports of painful sounds, ills and traumas than do other possible culprits — sonic attacks, viral infections and contagious anxiety.

In particular, a growing number of analysts cite an eerie phenomenon known as the Frey effect, named after Allan H. Frey, an American scientist. Long ago, he found that microwaves can trick the brain into perceiving what seem to be ordinary sounds.

The false sensations, the experts say, may account for a defining symptom of the diplomatic incidents — the perception of loud noises, including ringing, buzzing and grinding. Initially, experts cited those symptoms as evidence of stealthy attacks with sonic weapons.

Members of Jason, a secretive group of elite scientists that helps the federal government assess new threats to national security, say it has been scrutinizing the diplomatic mystery this summer and weighing possible explanations, including microwaves.

Asked about the microwave theory of the case, the State Department said the investigation had yet to identify the cause or source of the attacks. And the F.B.I. declined to comment on the status of the investigation or any theories.

The microwave idea teems with unanswered questions. Who fired the beams? The Russian government? The Cuban government? A rogue Cuban faction sympathetic to Moscow? And, if so, where did the attackers get the unconventional arms?

At his home outside Washington, Mr. Frey, the scientist who uncovered the neural phenomenon, said federal investigators have questioned him on the diplomatic riddle and that microwave radiation is considered a possible cause.

Mr. Frey, now 83, has traveled widely and long served as a contractor and a consultant to a number of federal agencies. He speculated that Cubans aligned with Russia, the nation’s longtime ally, might have launched microwave strikes in attempts to undermine developing ties between Cuba and the United States.

“It’s a possibility,” he said at his kitchen table. “In dictatorships, you often have factions that think nothing of going against the general policy if it suits their needs. I think that’s a perfectly viable explanation.”

Developing a new class of weapons

Microwaves are ubiquitous in modern life. The short radio waves power radars, cook foods, relay messages and link cellphones to antenna towers. They’re a form of electromagnetic radiation on the same spectrum as light and X-rays, only at the opposite end.

While radio broadcasting can employ waves a mile or more in length, microwaves range in size from roughly a foot to a tiny fraction of an inch. They’re seen as harmless in such everyday uses as microwaving foods. But their diminutive size also enables tight focusing, as when dish antennas turn disorganized rays into concentrated beams.

The dimensions of the human head, scientists say, make it a fairly good antenna for picking up microwave signals.

Mr. Frey, a biologist, said he stumbled on the acoustic effect in 1960 while working for General Electric’s Advanced Electronics Center at Cornell University. A man who measured radar signals at a nearby G.E. facility came up to him at a meeting and confided that he could hear the beam’s pulses — zip, zip, zip.

Intrigued, Mr. Frey traveled to the man’s workplace in Syracuse and positioned himself in a radar beam. “Lo,” he recalled, “I could hear it, too.”

Mr. Frey’s resulting papers — reporting that even deaf people could hear the false sounds — founded a new field of study on radiation’s neural impacts. Mr. Frey’s first paper, in 1961, reported that power densities 160 times lower than “the standard maximum safe level for continuous exposure” could induce the sonic delusions.

His second paper, in 1962, pinpointed the brain’s receptor site as the temporal lobes, which extend beneath the temples. Each lobe bears a small region — the auditory cortex — that processes nerve signals from the outer and inner ears.

Investigators raced to confirm and extend Mr. Frey’s findings. At first they named the phenomenon after him, but eventually called it the microwave auditory effect and, in time, more generally, radio-frequency hearing.

The Soviets took notice. Not long after his initial discoveries, Mr. Frey said, he was invited by the Soviet Academy of Sciences to visit and lecture. Toward the end, in a surprise, he was taken outside Moscow to a military base surrounded by armed guards and barbed-wire fences.

“They had me visiting the various labs and discussing the problems,” including the neural impacts of microwaves, Mr. Frey recalled. “I got an inside look at their classified program.”

Moscow was so intrigued by the prospect of mind control that it adopted a special terminology for the overall class of envisioned arms, calling them psychophysical and psychotronic.

Soviet research on microwaves for “internal sound perception,” the Defense Intelligence Agency warned in 1976, showed great promise for “disrupting the behavior patterns of military or diplomatic personnel.”

Furtively, globally, the threat grew.

The National Security Agency gave Mark S. Zaid, a Washington lawyer who routinely gets security clearances to discuss classified matters, a statement on how a foreign power built a weapon “designed to bathe a target’s living quarters in microwaves, causing numerous physical effects, including a damaged nervous system.”

Mr. Zaid said a N.S.A.client of his who traveled there watched in disbelief as his nervous system later unraveled, starting with control of his fingers.

Washington, too, foresaw new kinds of arms.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Air Force scientists sought to beam comprehensible speech into the heads of adversaries. Their novel approach won a patent in 2002, and an update in 2003. Both were assigned to the Air Force secretary, helping limit the idea’s dissemination.

The lead inventor said the research team had “experimentally demonstrated” that the “signal is intelligible.” As for the invention’s uses, an Air Force disclosure form listed the first application as “Psychological Warfare.”

The Navy sought to paralyze. The Frey effect was to induce sounds powerful enough to cause painful discomfort and, if needed, leave targets unable to move. The weapon, the Navy noted, would have a “low probability of fatalities or permanent injuries.”

In a twist, the 2003 contract was awarded to microwave experts who had emigrated to the United States from Russia and Ukraine.

It is unknown if Washington deploys such arms. But the Pentagon built a related weapon known as the Active Denial System, hailing it in a video. It fires an invisible beam meant to deter mobs and attackers with fiery sensations.

Russia, China and many European states are seen as having the know-how to make basic microwave weapons that can debilitate, sow noise or even kill. Advanced powers, experts say, might accomplish more nuanced aims such as beaming spoken words into people’s heads. Only intelligence agencies know which nations actually possess and use such unfamiliar arms.

The basic weapon might look like a satellite dish. In theory, such a device might be hand-held or mounted in a van, car, boat or helicopter. Microwave arms are seen as typically working over relatively short distances — across the length of a few rooms or blocks. High-powered ones might be able to fire beams across several football fields, or even for several miles.

The episode in Cuba

The Soviet collapse in 1991 cut Russia’s main ties to Cuba, a longtime ally just 90 miles from the United States. The shaky economy forced Moscow to stop providing Havana with large amounts of oil and other aid.

Vladimir Putin, as Russia’s president and prime minister, sought to recover the economic, political and strategic clout that the Soviets had lost. In December 2000, months after the start of his first presidential term, Mr. Putin flew to the island nation. It was the first visit by a Soviet or Russian leader since the Cold War.

He also sought to resurrect Soviet work on psychoactive arms. In 2012, he declared that Russia would pursue “new instruments for achieving political and strategic goals,” including psychophysical weapons.

In July 2014, Mr. Putin again visited Cuba. This time he brought a gift — the cancellation of some $30 billion in Cuban debt. The two nations signed a dozen accords.

A Russian spy ship, Viktor Leonov, docked in Havana on the eve of the beginning of reconciliation talks between Cuba and the United States in early 2015, and did so again in subsequent years. Moscow and Havana grew so close that in late 2016, the two nations signed a sweeping pact on defense and technology cooperation.

As a candidate, Donald Trump faulted the Obama administration’s normalization policy as “a very weak agreement” and threatened to scrap it on reaching the White House. Weeks after he won the election, in late November 2016, the American embassy in Havana found itself battling a mysterious crisis.

Diplomats and their families recounted high-pitched sounds in homes and hotel rooms at times intense enough to incapacitate. Long-term, the symptoms included nausea, crushing headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems and hearing loss.

The State Department filed diplomatic protests, and the Cuban government denied involvement. In May, the F.B.I. opened an investigation and its agents began visiting Havana a half year after the incidents began. The last major one hit that summer, in August, giving the agents relatively little time to gather clues.

In September 2017, the Trump administration warned travelers away from Cuba and ordered home roughly half the diplomatic personnel.

Rex W. Tillerson, who was then the secretary of state, said the embassy’s staff had been targeted deliberately. But he refrained from blaming Cuba, and federal officials held out the possibility that a third party may have been responsible.

In early October, President Trump expelled 15 Cuban diplomats, producing a chill between the nations. Administration critics said the White House was using the health issue as a pretext to end President Barack Obama’s reconciliation policy.

The day after the expulsions, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a closed, top secret hearing on the Cuba situation. Three State Department officials testified, as did an unnamed senior official of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Hypothesis

Early this year, in January, the spooky impact of microwaves on the human brain never came up during an open Senate hearing on the Cuba crisis.

But in a scientific paper that same month, James C. Lin of the University of Illinois, a leading investigator of the Frey effect, described the diplomatic ills as plausibly arising from microwave beams. Dr. Lin is the editor-in-chief of Bio Electro Magnetics, a peer-reviewed journal that explores the effects of radio waves and electromagnetic fields on living things.

In his paper, he said high-intensity beams of microwaves could have caused the diplomats to experience not just loud noises but nausea, headaches and vertigo, as well as possible brain-tissue injury. The beams, he added, could be fired covertly, hitting “only the intended target.”

In February, ProPublica in a lengthy investigation mentioned that federal investigators were weighing the microwave theory. Separately, it told of an intriguing find. The wife of a member of the embassy staff, it reported, had looked outside her home after hearing the disturbing sounds and seen a van speeding away.

A dish antenna could fit easily into a small van.

The medical team that studied the Cuba diplomats ascribed the symptoms in the March JAMA study to “an unknown energy source” that was highly directional. Some personnel, it noted, had covered their ears and heads but experienced no sound reduction. The team said the diplomats appeared to have developed signs of concussion without having received any blows to the head.

In May, reports emerged that American diplomats in China had suffered similar traumas. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the medical details of the two groups “very similar” and “entirely consistent” with one another. By late June, the State Department had evacuated at least 11 Americans from China.

To date, the most detailed medical case for microwave strikes has been made by Beatrice A. Golomb, a medical doctor and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. In a forthcoming paper to be published in October in Neural Computation, a peer-reviewed journal of the MIT Press, she lays out potential medical evidence for Cuban microwave strikes.

She compared the symptoms of the diplomats in Cuba to those reported for individuals said to be suffering from radio-frequency sickness. The health responses of the two groups, Dr. Golomb wrote, “conform closely.”

In closing, she argued that “numerous highly specific features” of the diplomatic incidents “fit the hypothesis” of a microwave attack, including the Frey-type production of disturbing sounds.

Scientists still disagree over what hit the diplomats. Last month, JAMA ran four letters critical of the March study, some faulting the report for ruling out mass hysteria.

But Mr. Zaid, the Washington lawyer, who represents eight of the diplomats and family members, said microwave attacks may have injured his clients.

“It’s sort of naïve to think this just started now,” he said. Globally, he added, covert strikes with the potent beams appear to have been going on for decades.

Francisco Palmieri, a State Department official, was asked during the open Senate hearing if “attacks against U.S. personnel in Cuba” had been raised with Moscow.

“That is a very good question,” Mr. Palmieri replied. But addressing it, he added, would require “a classified setting.”

For his part, Mr. Frey says he doubts the case will be solved anytime soon. The novelty of the crisis, its sporadic nature and the foreign setting made it hard for federal investigators to gather clues and draw conclusions, he said, much less file charges.

“Based on what I know,” he remarked, “it will remain a mystery.”

Cristhian Rivera

Tim Wise article

It’s pretty much a collective mantra by now, recited by black folks whenever a horrible crime is announced anywhere in America, but before the identity of the perpetrator is known.

“Dear God, don’t let him be black.”

Indeed, it has become something of a punchline to a joke, albeit one that is only humorous in the most tragic of ways.

Knowing how readily crimes committed by those with surplus melanin come to be seen as connected to said melanin, black folk have learned to pray for whiteness as a modifier of any crime about which they hear on TV, in the hopes that they may gain respite from the disparaging gaze of white America, so often cast towards them for anything one of theirs might do.

And now, as the nation’s demographic browning proceeds apace — the source of so much angst from the likes of Laura Ingraham — a second stanza can perhaps be added to the race-based prayers of the non-white in times of tragedy: namely, Dear God, don’t let him be undocumented.

Even before the revelation that missing University of Iowa student, Mollie Tibbetts was apparently murdered by Cristhian Rivera — a Mexican national in the country illegally — anti-immigrant hysteria had already been disturbingly normalized by the perpetually overheated rhetoric of the president.

But whatever the political benefit of Trump’s previous harangues against “rapists and drug dealers” ostensibly pouring across the border (or the unintentional killing of Kate Steinle at the hands of an undocumented migrant who fired a gun on a San Francisco Pier) it’s hard to top the latest case for its exploitability in the service of opportunistic xenophobia.

With the vicious murder of Tibbetts, we have a conventionally attractive white woman chased down, killed, and disposed of like garbage in a small Midwestern town by the kind of guy who stars nightly in the fever dreams of those who chant “build that wall” at Trump rallies.

The politicization of the tragedy was almost immediate of course, no doubt in part to distract from the ongoing revelations of illegality and corruption at the heart of Trump’s inner circle, but also because the right is increasingly tethered to an unvarnished racial nationalism fueled by white fear.

To wit, Senator Tom Cotton who tweeted, “Mollie would be alive if our government had taken immigration enforcement seriously years ago.”

Well sure, perhaps. And by the same token, if Terry Melcher had thought more fondly of Charles Manson’s songwriting, Sharon Tate might still be with us too. But even if true, neither observation offers much in the way of comfort or relevance.

Ultimately all the “what ifs” about what might have been prevented if we’d just built the wall or gotten tougher on immigration does nothing for anyone except pundits and politicians. The uselessness of this kind of speculation is probably among the reasons why the Tibbetts family has blasted those who would use her death to excuse their bigotry. Even in their grief they have the class and foresight to realize that sometimes horrible things just happen, and all the retrospective thought experiments in the world aren’t worth the time it takes to formulate them.

After all, such mental gymnastics eventually devolve into an infinite regression of absurdist guesswork, and it’s a game anyone can play. So here’s my version:

If we’d had a policy to euthanize every other male child born in the U.S. over the last forty years, the crime rate would have plummeted, and tens of thousands of murder victims’ lives would have been spared given the disproportionate rate at which men kill. Oh, and given that for every white woman like Tibbetts who’s killed by a man of color there are between 4 and 5 others killed by white guys, just think how many such women we could have saved with this preventative policy, even if applied only to white men alone.

Yeah, somehow I’m guessing Tom Cotton wouldn’t much like that one.

But again, none of this really helps things now. We can’t replay the past. As for the future, clamoring for the wall because that would stop killings like that of Tibbetts is shortsighted on multiple levels.

Anyone who really thinks a wall on the southern border is feasible has never been to the border. Even if it could be built there would be multiple places along the length of it that would remain unsecured, and it’s not as if there would be armed guards posted every few feet to stop those attempting to scale it.

Oh, and tunnels.

Additionally, there are already about 11 million people in the country who are undocumented. Although only a small percentage are likely to commit a violent crime, the wall obviously can’t do much to stop them now that they’re here. And since you typically won’t know who the violent ones are until after their crime is committed, the notion that you can prevent them from victimizing folks ahead of time presumes you can find them, round them up, and send them all out of the country. So pretty much cattle cars and night-raids and other totalitarian tactics that would render America undesirable as a place not only for immigrants but anyone else enamored of liberty.

In short, complete protection from tragedies like this, even were it possible, would require the forfeiture of anything approximating a free society. It would no doubt result in the profiling of millions of people who merely speak Spanish, have brown skin, or “appear” foreign to the self-appointed monitors of Americanism. If the Trump cultists think this is a price worth paying (as they likely would) it can only owe to a hatred of national principles even greater than their contempt for brown folks.

The irony being, not only would such an approach sacrifice American values but also the very safety for which so many clamor. For as it turns out, communities with higher percentages of so-called “illegals” actually have lower violent crime rates than communities with fewer of them. Not that pesky things like facts matter much to the Trumpkins, for whom the presence of signs in Spanish is proof that the apocalypse draws nigh.

Nor, for that matter, consistency, as we wouldn’t see comparable group-blaming rants from politicians or White Twitter if the racial dynamics in the instant case were less useful for the right. If Mollie Tibbetts’s killer had been an Iowa farm boy, fresh off an 8-day meth binge or strung out on Fentanyl, no one would be talking about it, the president wouldn’t care, and none would be arguing for a race-specific crackdown on corn-fed Lutherans from Cedar Falls.

Indeed if the racial dynamics had been different — like a white man killing a black woman, as happened to Nia Wilson on a transit platform in Oakland — Trumplandia wouldn’t be saying anything about it at all. So too with a white guy that kills his whole family in Colorado. Every bit as tragic, but nowhere near as politically serviceable, and so…crickets.

With the perfidious politicization of Mollie Tibbetts’s death, Trump and his zombified minions insult the memory of the dead — who, according to those who knew her would be horrified by the misuse of her death to serve a racist agenda — and cast a pall over the nation’s future. They seek to ensure a safety that can never be wholly vouchsafed, but the pursuit of which will trample what remains of the decency that we’ve long insisted made our nation special, even when we didn’t follow through, and even when we violated our precepts time and again.

But now we have millions who would sacrifice all of that — due process, equal protection and the compassion that recognizes the value of human beings no matter their place of origin — all in the name of a safety they will never enjoy, no matter how many they harm, detain, deport, imprison or kill.

What they desire is an American version of Lebensraum no less contemptibly inhumane than the original. And like its predecessor, it is equally deserving of being denied to all those who seek it.

COINTELPRO Agent Ron Stallworth

VIA

RBS bankers joked about destroying the US housing market before 2008

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) bankers joked about destroying the US housing market and senior staff described the loans they were trading as “total f***** garbage,” according to transcripts released by the US Department of Justice.

Email and call transcripts in a DOJ report released on August 10 as part of a $4.9 billion settlement with RBS show the bank’s chief credit officer in the US said the loans they were selling were “all disguised to, you know, look okay kind of … in a data file.”

He went on to say that the products being sold were “total f****** garbage” loans with “fraud [that] was so rampant … [and] all random.”

The US Department of Justice criticized the bank for its conduct and trade in residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), which played a central role in the crisis.

The DOJ said the bank made “false and misleading representations” to sell more RMBS, adding that senior executives “showed little regard for their misconduct and, internally, made light of it.”

When the contagion in the housing market became clear, the head trader at RBS got a call from a friend who said: “[I’m] sure your parents never imagine[d] they’d raise a son who [would] destroy the housing market in the richest nation on the planet.”

“I take exception to the word ‘destroy.’ I am more comfortable with ‘severely damage,'” he replied.

The bank disguised the risks to investors while making hundreds of millions from a housing market that a senior RBS banker described as broken, incentivising bad loans that meant lenders were “raking in the money.”

Employees who might raise the alarm about the risky practices “don’t give a s*** because they’re not getting paid,” he said.

The transcripts reveal that as the banking system started showing signs of break-down by early October 2007. The chief credit officer at RBS wrote to colleagues saying that loans were being pushed by “every possible … style of scumbag,” and it was “like quasi-organised crime.”

“Nobody seems to care,” he said.

A senior bank analyst at RBS also described the bank’s due diligence process on loans as “just a bunch of bullsh**,” according to the DOJ.

In May 2018 RBS chief Ross McEwan said the deal with the DOJ to end the investigation was a milestone for the bank. “Our current shareholders will be very pleased this deal is done. It does help the government sell a cleaner bank,” he said.

Via DN!

On the Koch Brothers & the Liberty Amendments…

Keep in mind that this right here is a Representative in the U.S. Congress…

“The only thing that stop bad man with gun, is good boy with gun”

“Yeah.. even a good toddler!”

WTF?!…

NCORE 2018

Via WMR

Amid the controversy of his separating more than 2300 children from their asylum seeking parents at the U.S.-Mexican border, Trump was confronted by a protester at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota with a photo of convicted child molester Jeffrey Epstein and Trump taken at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida during the 1990s.

Without shouting or otherwise making a scene, the male protester drew Trump’s ire merelyby holding up the photo, which Trump spotted during his screed against immigrants. Trump interrupted his speech by telling his supporters to “get him outta here,” pointing out the protester with the photo. The photo contained a caption that read: “Who’s Jeffrey Epstein?”

Trump then said, “go home to your mom, darling . . . go home.” Trump then ruminated on whether the protester, who had a short pony tail, was a man or a woman, adding that he needed a haircut. Trump, however, was then briefly silent after contemplating the fact that the photo was of him and Epstein.

The incident in Duluth came as questions are being asked about the welfare of immigrant children now detained in internment centers run by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, as well as private social services and foster care centers, around the country. The Department of Defense has been ordered to prepare to house some 20,000 children at U.S. military bases around the country. There are reports that at one federally-contracted facility in Virginia, teen detainees have been subjected to sexual and other physical abuse. Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has ordered Virginia law enforcement to investigate the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Staunton, Virginia. Similar reports of abuse have been reported at the federally-contracted Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility in California.

The serial sexual abuse of children by Trump and Epstein has been highlighted by the establishment by Trump of Nazi-like child detention centers and tent camps, including “tender age” facilities to house infant and elementary school-age children torn away from their parents.

Trump sent First Lady Melania Trump to Texas to meet with staff of a center housing unaccompanied children detained at the border. Mrs. Trump boarded her flight at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland sporting a Zara green jacket with the phrase, “I Really Don’t Care Do U?” Soon, a voting public incensed at the Trumps’ callous attitude toward the protection of children, will let them know they really do care as Republicans across the country are systematically voted out of office.

Mr. Trump tweeted the following about the jacket after Mrs. Trump arrived back at Andrews, again wearing the jacket. Mr. Trump wrote: “‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”

To the protester in Duluth who rattled Trump’s cage: job well done, sir.

Based on Andrew Feinstein’s 2011 book ‘The Shadow World: Inside The Global Arms Trade…

Mueller’s history of cover-ups

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been in the news lately due to his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. After a 12-year stint leading the Bureau, the longest ever since J. Edgar Hoover, Mueller is now seen by many as an honest man serving the interest of the American public. However, that perception cannot be defended once one knows about Mueller’s past.

What some people don’t know about Mueller is that he has a long history of leading government investigations that were diversions or cover-ups. These include the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the investigation into the terrorist financing Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), and the FBI investigations into the crimes of September 11th, 2001. Today the public is beginning to realize that Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is a similar diversion.

Mueller’s talents were noticed early in his career at the Justice Department. As a U.S. Attorney in Boston during the mid-80s, he helped falsely convict four men for murders they didn’t commit in order to protect a powerful FBI informant—mobster James “Whitey” Bulger.” According to the Boston Globe, “Mueller was also in that position while Whitey Bulger was helping the FBI cart off his criminal competitors even as he buried bodies in shallow graves along the Neponset.”

Mueller was then appointed as chief investigator of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 in Scotland. The account Mueller produced was a flimsy story that accused a Libyan named Megrahi of coordinating placement of a suitcase bomb that allegedly traveled unaccompanied through several airports to find its way to the doomed flight. Despite Mueller’s persistent defense of this unbelievable tale, Megrahi was released from prison in 2009 and died three years later in Libya.

With the Pan Am 103 case, Mueller was covering up facts related to some of the of victims of the bombing—a group of U.S. intelligence specialists led by Major Charles McKee of the Defense Intelligence Agency. McKee had gone to Beirut to find and rescue hostages and, while there, learned about CIA involvement in a drug smuggling operation run through an agency project called COREA. As TIME magazine reported, the likely explanation for the bombing, supported by independent intelligence experts, was that U.S. operatives “targeted Flight 103 in order to kill the hostage-rescue team.” This would prevent disclosure of what McKee’s team had learned. That theory was also supported by the fact that the CIA showed up immediately at the scene of the crash, took McKee’s briefcase, and returned it empty.

Mueller’s diversions led to his leadership of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, putting him in charge of investigations regarding BCCI. When Mueller started in that role, members of Congress and the media were already critical of the government’s approach to the BCCI affair. Mueller came into the picture telling the Washington Post that there was an “appearance of, one, foot-dragging; two, perhaps a cover-up.” Later he denied the cover-up claim and the suggestion that the CIA may have collaborated with BCCI operatives.

But again, Mueller was simply brought to accomplish the cover-up. The facts were that BCCI was used by the CIA to operate outside of the rule of law through funding of terrorists and other criminal operatives. The criminal bank was at the root of some of the greatest crimes against the public in the last 50 years, including the Savings & Loan scandal, the Iran-Contra affair, and the creation of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Mueller was instrumental in obstructing the BCCI investigation led by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. During this time, Justice Department prosecutors were instructed not to cooperate with Morgenthau. Describing Mueller’s obstruction of Morgenthau, the Wall Street Journal reported that, “documents were withheld, and attempts were made to block other federal agencies from cooperating.”

Describing Mueller’s role in the BCCI cover-up more clearly, reporter Chris Floyd wrote:

“When a few prosecutors finally began targeting BCCI’s operations in the late Eighties, President George Herbert Walker Bush boldly moved in with a federal probe directed by Justice Department investigator Robert Mueller. The U.S. Senate later found that the probe had been unaccountably ‘botched’–witnesses went missing, CIA records got ‘lost,’… Lower-ranking prosecutors told of heavy pressure from on high to ‘lay off.’ Most of the big BCCI players went unpunished or, like [Khalib bin] Mahfouz, got off with wrist-slap fines and sanctions. Mueller, of course, wound up as head of the FBI, appointed to the post in July 2001–by George W. Bush.”

Yes, in the summer of 2001, when the new Bush Administration suspected it would soon need a cover-up, Mueller was brought in for the job. Although suspect Louis Freeh was FBI Director in the lead-up to the crimes, Mueller knew enough to keep things under wraps. He also had some interesting ties to other 9/11 suspects like Rudy Giuliani, whose career paralleled Mueller’s closely during the Reagan and first Bush administrations.

Under Mueller, the FBI began the whitewash of 9/11 immediately. Mueller himself lied repeatedly in the direct aftermath with respect to FBI knowledge of the accused hijackers. He claimed that the alleged hijackers left no paper trail, and suggested that they exercised “extraordinary secrecy” and “discipline never broke down.” In fact, “ring leader” Mohamed Atta went to great lengths to draw attention to himself prior to the attacks. Moreover, the evidence the accused men supposedly left behind was obvious and implausibly convenient for the FBI.

Meanwhile, Mueller’s FBI immediately seized control of the investigations at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, PA where United Flight 93 was destroyed. Under Mueller, leaders of the Bureau went on to arrest and intimidate witnesses, destroy or withhold evidence, and prevent any independent investigation. With Mueller in the lead, the FBI failed to cooperate with the government investigations into 9/11 and failed miserably to perform basic investigatory tasks. Instead, Mueller celebrated some of the most egregious pre-9/11 failures of the FBI by giving those involved promotions, awards, and cash bonuses.

As FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley later wrote with regard to 9/11, “Robert Mueller (and James Comey as deputy attorney general) presided over a cover-up.” Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four 9/11 widows known as the “Jersey Girls,” stated something similar:

“Mueller and other FBI officials had purposely tried to keep any incriminating information specifically surrounding the Saudis out of the Inquiry’s investigative hands. To repeat, there was a concerted effort by the FBI and the Bush Administration to keep incriminating Saudi evidence out of the Inquiry’s investigation.”

Supporting Breitweiser’s claims, public watchdog agency Judicial Watch emphasized Mueller’s role in the cover-up.

“Though the recently filed court documents reveal Mueller received a briefing about the Sarasota Saudi investigation, the FBI continued to publicly deny it existed and it appears that the lies were approved by Mueller.

Mueller’s FBI went on to “botch” the investigation into the October 2001 anthrax attacks. As expected, the result was a long series of inexplicable diversions that led nowhere. The anthrax attacks occurred at a time when Mueller himself was warning Americans that another 9/11 could occur at any time (despite his lack of interest in the first one). They also provided the emotional impetus for Americans and Congress to accept the Patriot Act, which had been written prior to 9/11. Exactly why Mueller’s expertise was needed is not yet known but examining the evidence suggests that the anthrax attackers were the same people who planned 9/11.

With knowledge of Mueller’s past, people can see that he is not in the news today to reveal important information about Russia and the Trump Administration. To the contrary, Mueller is in the news to divert attention away from important information and, most likely, to prevent the Trump Administration from being scrutinized in any real way.

Part 2

There are 57 candidates for the Democratic nomination in 44 congressional districts who boast as their major credential their years of service in intelligence, in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the State Department, or some combination of all three. They make up the largest single occupational group running in the Democratic primaries that began March 6 in Texas and extend through mid-September, selecting the candidates who will appear on the general election ballot on November 6.

Aside from their sheer number, and the fact that more than 40 percent, 24 of the 57, are women, there are other aspects worth considering.

Agents, but no longer secret

First: The number of candidates who openly proclaim their role in the CIA or military intelligence. In years past, such activities would be considered confidential, if not scandalous for a figure seeking public office. Not only would the candidates want to disguise their connections to the spy apparatus, the CIA itself would insist on it, particularly for those who worked in operations rather than analysis, since exposure, even long after leaving the agency, could be portrayed as compromising “sources and methods.”

This is no longer the case. The 2018 candidates drawn from this shadow world of espionage, drone murders and other forms of assassination positively glory in their records. And the CIA and Pentagon have clearly placed no obstacles in the way.

We’ve already reviewed the cases of Elissa Slotkin, running in Michigan’s 8th District, who served three tours with the CIA in Baghdad, and Gina Ortiz Jones, an Air Force intelligence officer in Iraq, running for the Democratic nomination in the 23rd District of Texas. There are many others.

Abigail Spanberger, seeking the Democratic nomination in a district in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, has the following declaration at the top of her campaign website: “After nearly a decade serving in the CIA, I’m running for Congress in Virginia’s 7th District to fight for opportunity, equality and security for all Americans. My previous service as a law enforcement officer, a CIA officer, and a community volunteer has taught me the value of listening.” Indeed!

Spanberger worked for the CIA as an operations officer, in which capacity, “She traveled and lived abroad collecting intelligence, managing assets, and overseeing high-profile programs in service to the United States.” Her opponent for the Democratic nomination is a career Marine Corps pilot, Dan Ward, in one of nearly a dozen contests involving multiple military-intelligence candidates.

Jesse Colvin, running in the 1st District of Maryland, spent six years in Army intelligence, including four combat deployments to Afghanistan and a year near the Demilitarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea. According to his campaign biography, “I am a proud graduate of the US Army’s Ranger Course, the premier leadership school in the military. I am even more honored to have served in the 75th Ranger Regiment—the Army Rangers. Rangers lead in many key roles throughout the Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) community, and I am lucky to have served and led with men and women of this caliber.”

His biography continues: “As a Ranger, my four combat deployments in Afghanistan took place within a Joint Special Operations Task Force. I led intelligence teams whose work facilitated capture/kill missions of Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist leaders. I managed a lethal drone program. I ran human intelligence sources. Every day, my team and I made dozens of decisions whose outcomes carried life and death consequences for my fellow Rangers, our Afghan partners, and Afghan civilians.”

Jeffrey Beals, seeking the Democratic nomination in the 19th District of New York, is now a school teacher, but writes on his website, “After beginning my career as a CIA intelligence officer, I joined the State Department … I answered the call to help our country in Iraq in 2004 and became one of the longest serving US diplomats of the Iraq War. Fluent in Arabic, I faced down insurgents to set up the first diplomatic talks between our ambassador, our generals and the insurgency. I helped bring warring factions together to create a constitution for Iraq and was decorated by both the US Army and the State Department.”

Unfortunately for Beals, his fundraising, $174,000 by December 31, 2017, is dwarfed by that of another military-intelligence rival for the nomination, Patrick Ryan, a West Point graduate with two tours of duty in Iraq, “including a tour as the lead intelligence officer for an infantry battalion of 1,000 soldiers and officers responsible for ground operations in Mosul,” according to his campaign website. Ryan had raised $906,000 by December 31, and two other candidates in that district, a politically connected lawyer and a medical device manufacturer, had raised more than one million dollars each, all seeking to challenge two-term Republican incumbent John Faso in the Hudson Valley district.

Jonathan Ebel, running in the 13th District of Illinois, served four years as a naval intelligence officer, including on the staff of the US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He now teaches religion at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Then there is Shelly Chauncey, seeking the Democratic nomination in the 5th District of Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia suburbs. Her website strikes a feminist note:

“Shelly served her nation for more than a decade with the Central Intelligence Agency. She began her career as a secretary and worked her way up to become a counter-intelligence officer. Shelly served as an undercover officer with the CIA in Latin America, East Asia and throughout the United States, providing logistical and counter-intelligence support to operatives abroad.”

The reference to undercover operations “throughout the United States” underscores the role of the intelligence apparatus in spying on the American people, although the CIA is, by law, prohibited from such activity.

Another campaign website touches on the domestic operations of the US spy machine. Omar Siddiqui, running in California’s 48th District, describes his background as follows: “On the front lines of national defense, Mr. Siddiqui serves as a private advisor and consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on issues of national security and counter-terrorism and was formerly an advisor and community partner with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Mr. Siddiqui is presently director of special projects of the FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association…”

Commanders and planners of the Iraq War

Barack Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination and the 2008 election in large measure by presenting himself as an opponent of the war in Iraq launched under George W. Bush. Once in office, however, he retained Bush’s defense secretary, former CIA Director Robert Gates, and continued the war for another three years, as well as escalating the long-running US war in Afghanistan.

It is noteworthy in this context that so many of the military-intelligence candidates for Democratic congressional nominations boast of their roles in the war in Iraq and even, in some cases, present it as the high point of their professional and even personal lives.

Thus Elissa Slotkin, already referred to above, met her future husband, the pilot of an Apache helicopter gunship, while working as a CIA agent in Baghdad. Dan McCready, a Marine Corps veteran turned “clean energy” multi-millionaire, backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the Democratic nomination in the 9th District of North Carolina, even claims to have found Jesus in Iraq, where he was baptized in water from the Euphrates River.

The Iraq War veterans are either officers, giving them command responsibility in one of the great crimes of the 21st century, or served in special forces units like the Army Rangers and the Navy SEALs, engaging in covert operations that were among the bloodiest and most brutal of the war, or had high-level responsibility at the Pentagon or the National Security Council.

Daniel Helmer, running in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District against five other well-financed candidates—including former State Department official Alison Friedman, who has already topped the $1 million mark—says remarkably little about what he did in Afghanistan and Iraq, although his photograph in military fatigues is on the front page of his website. But Helmer boasts perhaps the most extensive list of endorsements by retired national security officials of any candidate in the country, including eight generals and admirals, two former deputy directors of the CIA, Avril Haines and David Cohen, and Michele Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy. What he did to earn their support is left to the imagination.

Richard Ojeda, elected as a West Virginia state senator in 2016, is now seeking the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District, covering the southern third of the state. As the WSWS has reported, Ojeda has based his political career on more than two decades in the US Army Airborne, including repeated tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he reached the rank of major. His last post was as executive director of Army recruiting in Beckley, seeking to convince youth in West Virginia and Virginia to become cannon fodder for the Pentagon.

Josh Butner, running in the 50th District of California against Republican Duncan Hunter, Jr., “served for 23 years in the United States Navy where he saw multiple combat deployments, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The career Navy SEAL says almost nothing about what he actually did in the top military assassination unit, but that is to be expected. His campaign website features the slogan “Service, Country, Leadership,” alongside a photograph of Butner in desert fatigues.

Dan Feehan is running to succeed incumbent Democrat Tim Walz in the 1st Congressional District of Minnesota, after Walz announced his candidacy for governor of that state. From 2005 to 2009, according to his campaign biography, Feehan “served as an active duty soldier and completed two combat tours of duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.” He then joined the Obama administration, first as a White House aide, then as an acting assistant secretary of defense in the Pentagon.

Andy Kim, running in the 3rd District of New Jersey, has actually raised more money than the incumbent Republican, Tom MacArthur. Kim worked at the Pentagon and as a strategic adviser to generals David Petraeus and John Allen while they were in command of US forces in Afghanistan. He then moved to the National Security Council, where he was Obama’s director for Iraq for two years.

Maura Sullivan, seeking the Democratic nomination in New Hampshire’s 2nd District, where incumbent Democrat Carol Shea-Porter is retiring, was a Marine Corps officer, rising to the rank of captain and deploying to Fallujah, Iraq, scene of some of the bloodiest battles and most horrific US war crimes of that war. She too joined the Obama administration as a civilian administrator at both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon.

Jason Crow is running in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District against incumbent Republican Mike Coffman, where he was selected by the DCCC as one of its top candidates in the “Red-to-Blue” program. He is a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division, leading a paratrooper platoon during the invasion of Iraq. He then joined the Army Rangers and served two tours in Afghanistan “as part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force,” where he rose to the rank of captain.

Matthew Morgan had a 20-year career in the Marine Corps “where I would deploy routinely overseas, culminating in several senior staff roles where I’d provide counsel to numerous military leaders, including the secretary of defense.” He did two tours in Iraq and also worked in counterterrorism on the Horn of Africa. Now he is the unopposed candidate for the Democratic nomination in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, which has switched back and forth between the two big business parties and is currently held by first-term Republican Jack Bergman.

Dr. Dan Neides, former medical director and chief operating officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, discusses how an innocent article about vaccine safety ended his career there. Dr. Neides’ column “Make 2017 the year to avoid toxins (good luck) and master your domain: Words on Wellness” earned him “anti-vax” status from the national media and medical establishment and resulted in demands that he apologize and be fired.