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Did the DEA Nab an International Weapons Dealer, or a CIA Asset Hung Out to Dry?
Trevor Aaronson, Murtaza Hussain
The Intercept, November 28, 2016
IN THE LATE evening of December 15, 2014, agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration descended on a hotel in Podgorica, Montenegro, to take into custody a man arrested by local authorities for arms trafficking.
Flaviu Georgescu, an American citizen from Romania, had been in the DEA’s sights for years. A tall, heavyset man in his mid-40s with close-cropped hair, Flaviu worked as a private security contractor in Bucharest.
Over the past several months, Flaviu had been meeting with a Colombian man who claimed to be a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. This man had sought Flaviu’s help setting up a multimillion-dollar arms deal to help rearm FARC in Colombia. Arrested with Flaviu in the hotel that night was another man, Cristian Vintila, then a high-ranking government minister in Romania and another participant in the alleged arms deal. It seemed like a high-profile nab for the DEA.
Robert J. Scott was among the DEA agents who came to the hotel room that night in Montenegro. Flaviu immediately motioned with his head that he wanted to talk to the DEA agent.
“I’m with the CIA,” he told Scott.
He was working undercover to provide more information, he told Scott that night. Scott wasn’t interested. He’d heard excuses before. A 17-year veteran of the DEA, he knew handcuffed criminals would say just about anything to escape punishment.
Over the next several hours, Flaviu told agents in detail about the proposed deal — how a Southern California man introduced him to the Colombians seeking weapons. He told the agents how he connected with Vintila, as well as with a flamboyant former member of the Italian parliament named Massimo Romagnoli, to piece together the supply chain for the arms deal.
That night, Flaviu helped DEA agents lure Massimo to Montenegro to be detained. As a former member of parliament facing unrelated charges in Italy, Massimo would have been cumbersome for the United States to extradite from that country. But Flaviu, in a DEA-controlled call, coaxed him into the trap.
Flaviu didn’t ask for a cooperating agreement or any other guarantee for his help, insisting to DEA agents that he was working for the CIA and had been gathering information all along. According to him, this was all part of the job.
Flaviu spent several weeks in detention at a local prison. In February 2015, the three men — Flaviu, Cristian, and Massimo — were extradited to the United States to face trial on charges of material support for terrorists. In a statement announcing their extradition, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara described them as “ready and willing merchants of death.”
The reality, it turned out, was far more complicated. Flaviu contends he had been running his own sting operation — using skills he developed a decade earlier while working undercover for the FBI. He never considered that another man involved in the transaction would be running a sting of his own. If this is true, Flaviu and his informant adversary were playing opposites sides of a mysterious spy game.
Flaviu says he was not trying to complete an arms deal, but was quietly collecting evidence about the arms network for the CIA.
And he had the phone calls he said would prove it.
BORN IN ROMANIA, Flaviu Georgescu first came to the United States in 1996, settling in Las Vegas after finding work at a gym owned by his cousin that catered to the Romanian community in Nevada.
Flaviu eventually started working as an all-around fixer for wealthy Romanians and other Eastern Europeans visiting Las Vegas. Whatever they wanted, Flaviu could procure: Bugatti sports cars, Gulfstream jets, bodyguards, drivers, exclusive shopping experiences.
In 2000, while serving a wealthy client, Flaviu needed to ship a car to Switzerland. A friend told him of a Romanian in Los Angeles with the same last name as his. “He has really great prices,” the friend told Flaviu. That Romanian was Andi Georgescu, an international wheeler-dealer who runs a shipping company based in Southern California. (Despite their shared last name, Flaviu and Andi are not related.)
Flaviu Georgescu in an undated picture released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York.
Through his Eastern European clients, Flaviu began to learn about criminal activity in Las Vegas, including how organized crime outfits were moving money in and out of the United States. Alarmed, he went to the local office of the FBI. “I grow up [under] Communism, and at that time there was no crimes,” Flaviu recalled later in trial testimony. Flaviu said he believed in the type of iron justice he saw as a boy living under communism. He told the FBI he had information about Eastern European organized crime, giving the bureau names of people to investigate. He said he wanted to help, and according to Flaviu’s telling of the story, an FBI agent gave him his business card. “Call back when you have more information,” the agent told him.
One week later, Flaviu called. “I put everything together, how they work, how they organize, how they move the money,” Flaviu recounted. He continued to provide intelligence to the FBI, never asking for money or favors. At one point, the FBI insisted on paying Flaviu and gave him a $500 check. “I was so proud about that check, I put it in frame and I hold it,” he said. “I never cash that check because it was the only thing which, for myself, it was like I did something, and I’m on this side.”
He was, in his view, one of the good guys.
In 2003, Flaviu’s secret work was revealed when the FBI arrested a man and seized money; Flaviu was the only witness to his crime. “He was not stupid. I was the only one over there,” Flaviu said.
According to Flaviu, a hit was put out on him. So he disappeared. By 2006, Flaviu, now a U.S. citizen, had moved back to Romania, where he scratched out a living selling GPS ankle monitoring devices for use by Romanian law enforcement.
In 2011, out of nowhere, Flaviu received a call from a friend with a familiar name: Andi Georgescu.
Andi said he knew a Colombian looking to purchase weapons. “It’s a lot of money we can make,” Flaviu remembered Andi telling him. Flaviu and Andi spoke several more times. Flaviu decided the situation represented a “direct threat” to the United States, and he recalled the U.S. government’s counterterrorism motto: If you see something, say something. “I was thinking I make a, you know, a difference,” Flaviu said.
So he called the CIA.
“Someone contacted me from Miami,” Flaviu told the CIA employee who answered the tip line, according to a recording of the call. “They have some clients from Colombia, and they are interested to buy some equipment — anything, like, from grenades, ammunition, everything.”
In two phone calls, each with a different CIA employee, Flaviu went into detail about the weapons deal. He said Andi had introduced him to the Colombians, who wanted grenades and ammunition. He suspected the men might be criminals and that they should investigate.
“Let me work for you,” Flaviu told the CIA, adding: “I’ll provide you all the information, because in my opinion, you don’t have to stop anything right now.”
“I appreciate you bringing this information to our attention, and I’ll certainly tread carefully, as we say, as far as how we discuss this issue here at the agency,” the CIA agent, whose name is redacted, said to Flaviu.
What neither Flaviu nor possibly the CIA knew was that the Colombians were undercover informants working for another U.S. government agency.
THE MAIN COLOMBIAN looking to purchase arms was a stout, shaven-headed man who went by the name Juan. His real name was Alex Diaz, and the 66-year-old had plenty of experience with crime. He emigrated from Colombia to the United States in 1967 and settled in Miami, where he had seven children. Juan landed a job at Sky Chefs, which provided catering services to American Airlines at Miami International Airport, a hub for American flights to and from Latin America.
It was the mid-1980s, and Miami was the capital of the cocaine boom. “I figured out a way to transport the drugs from Colombia to the United States,” Juan later explained in court testimony.
Over a seven-year period, Juan helped move 3,000 kilos of marijuana and 4,000 kilos of cocaine into the United States. But it didn’t last. The DEA arrested Juan, and he rolled over. “I cooperated immediately with the authorities,” Juan said. He pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. In exchange for his cooperation with the DEA, Juan served only three years and, upon his release, just three months of probation.
“It was reduced at the request of the DEA so that I could continue collaborating with them,” Juan recalled. The caterer-turned-drug trafficker suddenly had a new career: government informant.
Juan has worked hundreds of cases with the DEA, IRS, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and with local police agencies. He’s been on the government payroll for cases that took him to Panama, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Spain, England, the Cayman Islands, Denmark, Montenegro, Romania, and Greece.
He became a veteran undercover informant who in more than 20 years of working with the DEA had earned $4.9 million in compensation and expense reimbursements.
Working with the DEA in 2011, Juan started down a trail that would lead him to Flaviu. Through another government informant, Juan was introduced to Andi. Soon, the two met up in Fort Lauderdale. According to Juan, they discussed a contact Andi had in Hong Kong who could launder money. The DEA was intrigued with Andi and his extensive international social network. Agents assigned Juan to get closer so they could learn more about Andi’s connections.
Juan eventually asked Andi if he knew anyone who sold weapons. It wasn’t a simple arms deal. Working off DEA instructions, Juan told Andi that he represented FARC, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Juan wanted anti-aircraft missiles, AK-47s, and just about anything else that could kill or maim U.S. military personnel operating in Colombia. In March 2012, the DEA sent Andi a list of weapons FARC purportedly wanted to purchase.
This wasn’t the first time the DEA had posed as FARC members in the market for arms. In fact, for a decade now, the DEA has exploited a 2006 change to the Patriot Act that established narcoterrorism as a crime, giving the DEA broad authority to investigate criminals anywhere in the world who allegedly operate at the nexus between drugs and terrorism. The change was part of a larger effort by President George W. Bush’s administration to fold the drug war into the newest war — the war on terror. In 2002, the Bush administration began airing public-service announcements that linked drugs to terrorism. One proclaimed: “Drug money supports terror. If you buy drugs, you might too.”
“Drugs undermine the health of our citizens; they destroy the souls of our children. And the drug trade supports terrorist networks,” Bush said in a speech five months after the 9/11 attacks. “When people purchase drugs, they put money in the hands of those who want to hurt America, hurt our allies. Drugs attack everything that is the best about this country, and I intend to do something about them.”
For the DEA and its longtime rivalry with the FBI, the shift was ironic. In the 1980s, as the drug war reached its apex, the FBI received concurrent jurisdiction over narcotics with the DEA, and the FBI became a big player in the drug war. Two decades later, with the drug war declining as the hunt for terrorists reached a fever pitch, the DEA muscled into the FBI’s expanded counterterrorism enterprise.
Narcoterrorism has meant more money for the DEA. For 2017, Congress allocated $472 million in the DEA budget to international enforcement — up from $287 million in 2006, just as the DEA received authorization to investigate narcoterrorism.
There’s plenty of debate about how much the global drug trade funds terrorism. The 9/11 Commission found “no persuasive evidence” that al Qaeda funded itself from the drug sales. The Islamic State has been funded by oil revenue and extortion rackets, not drugs. FARC is an exception — in 2013 Colombia’s police chief said the terrorist organization controlled 60 percent of the nation’s drug trade — which is likely why DEA stings often involve undercover informants posing as FARC representatives. But these DEA stings usually follow the FBI’s controversial counterterrorism sting playbook: undercover informants or agents play the part of the terrorists, raising questions about whether links to terrorism were manufactured to justify the investigation. The DEA’s narcoterrorism operations rely almost exclusively on sting operations. And when arrests are made, narcoterrorism defendants are extradited to the United States and prosecuted in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, even when evidence in the cases showed no link to drug sales or terrorist activity in the United States.
An example is the case of Jamal Yousef. “This is about capitalism inside the bureaucracy,” Joshua L. Dratel, a lawyer for Yousef, said of the DEA’s move into narcoterrorism stings. “The war on drugs in the United States is waning, so you have to find new markets. Terrorism is the big thing.” A former Syrian military officer, Yousef was a fraud artist who lived in Mexico and was purportedly trying to start a retail business in Honduras. He took out a $200,000 loan from an individual and offered to repay the loan with weapons from Lebanon. He traveled to Lebanon, inspected weapons, but then never delivered, despite keeping the money. When Yousef returned to Mexico, he went to the U.S. Embassy and became an informant, telling the FBI’s legal attaché office about U.S. weapons being stolen by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and sold to Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to court documents, Yousef became an informant in the hopes of making money from his FBI relationship. About two year later, while living in Honduras, Yousef was approached by DEA informants posing as FARC representatives. Yousef claimed he had weapons in a storage facility in Mexico, which was a lie, and agreed to exchange the supposed weapons for over a ton of cocaine. Despite his dubious ability to obtain weapons, and the only connection to terrorism being undercover DEA informants, Yousef was extradited to New York, where he pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorists and received 12 years in prison.
“These cases are a lot like FBI terrorism stings here in the United States,” Dratel said. “Without the DEA, there is no connection to terrorism or the United States.”
While DEA narcoterrorism stings have netted serious arms traffickers — such as Monzer al-Kassar, a Syrian arms dealer linked to the Contras, the Palestinian Liberation Front, the Iraqi insurgency, and others; and Viktor Bout, a Russian arms trafficker known for funneling weapons to conflict zones around the world — many of the DEA targets over the last decade appear to be like Flaviu Georgescu and Jamal Yousef, more hustler than weapons dealer.
The DEA’s sting targets have claimed associations with FARC, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Taliban — but their connections to terrorists are often questionable. In late 2009, for example, federal prosecutors indicted three Malians — Harouna Touré, Oumar Issa, and Idriss Abdelrahman — following a DEA narcoterrorism sting in which the three allegedly conspired to transport cocaine through Africa to support FARC and al Qaeda. Touré, Issa, and Abdelrahman pleaded guilty to material support for terrorists, but received light sentences — Touré and Issa five years and Abdelrahman less than four. U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones said Touré was not an al Qaeda supporter but rather was “motivated primarily, if not entirely, by money.” All three Malians have since been released from prison.
While the DEA declined to discuss specific cases, Russ Baer, a spokesman for the agency, defended narcoterrorism stings as a valuable law enforcement tool. “We go after folks that are drug traffickers, arms traffickers, whatever the case may be,” Baer said. “They are predisposed to criminal acts. All we do is allow the means, to give them opportunity to commit these crimes they would otherwise commit without us. … If you look at these cases, it’s not just one meeting that culminates in an arrest. It’s several meetings, in various countries, with defendants committing overt acts in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy. These defendants have every opportunity to walk away.”
IN A SERIES of recorded phone conversations in March 2014, Andi Georgescu told Juan he found someone in Romania who could facilitate the weapons purchase.
“First we gonna fly to Italy to finalize it, and then we gonna get the stuff and wait for it in Montenegro. That’s all we do. Couple of days,” Andi told Juan on March 19, 2014.
For several weeks, Andi led Juan on, suggesting that all they needed to do was travel to Italy and meet the arms supplier. The deal is solid, he said, but offered few details.
“Andi, buddy, you think everything is pretty good with this guy?” Juan asked on April 4, 2014.
“Yeah, yeah,” Andi replied. “I wouldn’t go otherwise.”
In May 2014, Juan, along with a complement of DEA agents, flew to Rome expecting to meet Andi and his arms supplier. But no one showed up. Juan reached Andi by phone on May 12, and Andi offered an excuse about being stuck in Abu Dhabi and his arms connection being detained somewhere.
“Andi, I made it all the way here from freakin’ Miami to here. From Colombia, actually. Don’t let me down, because it’s going to be stupid,” Juan said.
Andi asked Juan if he was in Rome or Miami.
“What are you talking about? I’m here in fucking Rome, brother,” he said, annoyed. “You need to come to Rome. Come over here, c’mon.”
“Well, you mentioned Miami.”
“Bullshit, I’ve been talking to you the last two days about being in Rome on the 12th,” Juan said.
The next day, following promises to Juan that he’d get someone to meet him in Italy, Andi gave Juan a new name — Flaviu Georgescu — and said Flaviu could meet him in Italy. Juan left several messages with Flaviu. No response. “If no one is coming, tell me … Just be honest with me,” a frustrated Juan said to Andi by phone on May 14, 2014.
On May 16, just hours before Juan was scheduled to leave Rome, he talked to Flaviu on Skype.
“Where are you now?” Juan asked Flaviu.
“Right now I’m in London,” Flaviu said. “And finally I got a guy. He wants to talk to you. He’s from Romania.”
After Juan returned to the United States with his DEA handlers, he spoke on the phone with Flaviu.
“You’re saying that you have the person now … who could take care of the [weapons] list I gave you, right?” Juan asked Flaviu.
“Yeah, he’s the person connected to it. He’s not the middleman. He’s the direct person. It’s his business,” Flaviu said.
Juan wanted to coordinate a meeting between Flaviu’s contact and his FARC people. But given that they’d just been stood up in Italy, they wouldn’t travel again on promises, Juan told Flaviu. “We will not travel until I know you are sitting in either Rome or Montenegro, OK?” Juan said. “It’s very important because of the time and money these people wasted going there.”
For the next six months, Flaviu and Juan spoke by phone, with Flaviu constantly changing the plans. First they were to meet in Eastern Europe. Then Flaviu asked if they could meet in Liverpool. Juan grew increasingly frustrated. “This is — excuse the Spanish word — this is bullshit,” he said angrily in English. Later that day, in a separate call, Juan added: “You guys are not serious. You change every five minutes.”
Flaviu eventually lined up a potential contact for Juan, a Russian who went by the name Gintas. But after talking to Juan, the Russian quickly backed out, apparently suspicious of the deal. Flaviu then told Juan he found another seller, a Romanian.
“Can you come to Romania?” he asked Juan.
On September 24, 2014, Juan met Flaviu for the first time in person, at a Marriott hotel in Bucharest. Flaviu brought Cristian Vintila, an imposing 45-year-old Romanian government official with deep connections to the country’s defense industry.
Flaviu gave Juan a gift at the meeting, a Romanian flag.
Juan looked to Cristian, who sported a buzz cut. “You know, you make me nervous,” he said.
“Don’t be nervous,” Cristian assured him.
“OK, this is for you,” Juan said, handing a package to Flaviu. He then turned to Cristian. “I didn’t know you were coming,” he said, explaining why he didn’t have a gift for him.
“Thank you very much,” Flaviu said, accepting his gift.
“Colombian coffee,” Juan said. “Juan Valdez.”
The three men talked in the hotel bar. Cristian showed Juan catalogues from the Romanian weapons industry. Juan was impressed, but had one problem: They needed an end-user certificate — something stipulating who the recipient of the arms would be.
A few days later, back in the United States, Juan spoke with Flaviu on the phone.
“You have to come to Montenegro to discuss with your friend, because I have everything in my hand,” Flaviu told Juan, suggesting he had found a way to get an end-user certificate.
“With who? The same guy? The last guy or the first guy?” Juan asked, referring to whether the arms transaction would happen through the Russian named Gintas, or through Cristian Vintila, the Romanian.
“No, no, no. Come over there. I have everything ready to go. I have the papers. I have everything. If you want to do it, come over there at least to set up the necessary everything, to discuss everything.”
“How about transportation?” Juan asked.
“Everything. You have to come over there.”
Indeed, Flaviu had everything arranged. Cristian connected them to a Serbian weapons manufacturer, and Flaviu now brought in one more person — Massimo Romagnoli, the former member of the Italian parliament. Massimo had a friend in the Ethiopian Embassy in France who could provide an end-user certificate showing a final sale to Ethiopia. From there, the weapons could be surreptitiously shipped to Colombia, into the hands of the FARC.
Juan agreed to meet Flaviu, Cristian, and Massimo in Montenegro on October 8, 2014. Juan came with two other informants — Diego and Jorge — who were also pretending to be FARC members.
Juan recorded the meeting with a camera disguised as a wristwatch.
Diego asked Flaviu and his colleagues if they could get a Russian-designed surface-to-air missile system known as a “Strela.”
“You can get it, but Strela is — ” Flaviu said, then offered a chuckle. “Yeah, Strela is expensive,” he said. “I know, we shoot that one.”
“How many?” Cristian asked Diego.
“Ten, twenty,” Diego responded.
“That one is an expensive item,” Flaviu added.
“It’s OK,” said Jorge, the third undercover informant. “I think we can afford it.”
Two months later, Juan met them again in Montenegro. Flaviu and Cristian were there for the meeting.
At this point, the DEA decided it had enough evidence to move in for the arrest. Local police descended on the hotel in Podgorica, with DEA agents arriving soon after to interrogate the men they’d been tracking for months. The “arms deal” had been foiled.
THIS IS NOT a classic terrorism case,” Albert Dayan, Flaviu’s lawyer, told reporters following the arraignment hearing. Dayan had previously represented Viktor Bout, the so-called “merchant of death,” who had been caught in another DEA sting.
Flaviu, Cristian, and Massimo were extradited to the United States in February 2015 to face charges of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group and conspiring to kill U.S. government officials. (Andi Georgescu never faced any charges.)
The three defendants were held at New York City’s Manhattan Detention Complex to await trial. Cristian and Massimo were placed together in the same cell. Massimo often sat in the cell and cried. Soon, he and Cristian realized that their best chance for freedom was to turn against Flaviu. They signed a cooperation agreement with the government. “We decided together, while we were staying together in the same cell, to tell the truth,” Cristian later testified.
Both men agreed to plead guilty to the charges against them in exchange for lighter sentences. In return, they agreed to testify at trial that Flaviu was the main player in the arms deal. Flaviu found himself the sole defendant on trial for the arms deal he had years earlier reported to the CIA.
In his opening statements, Flaviu’s lawyer argued that his client was an “American hero” who had volunteered to investigate an arms-trafficking ring out of a sense of patriotic duty.
Central to this argument were the CIA calls Flaviu made. Those calls, his lawyer argued, gave the case “built-in reasonable doubt.” Flaviu also had a history of cooperating with law enforcement without compensation. His contacts with the CIA, in which he said the agency had indirectly given him permission to gather more information about the arms traffickers, led to his decision to meet with them and connect them to the plot, his lawyer argued. The CIA declined to comment on Georgescu’s calls to the agency.
Juan, the DEA informant, conceded at trial that Flaviu never solicited money. There was never an explicit arrangement for Flaviu to be paid anything as part of the deal, an odd move for an international arms dealer. In fact, Flaviu repeatedly declined offers of money. In recorded phone conversations, Andi told Flaviu to ask Juan to reimburse his expenses, something Juan later testified that Flaviu never did.
Juan, on the other hand, was paid $276,000 for his work on the bogus arms deal.
The prosecution in turn argued that Flaviu was “a deal maker, a broker in it for the influence, the connections, the money.” They played for the jury audio clips of Flaviu’s conversations with the informants, including one in which Flaviu described the United States as being “built on bullshit.”
Flaviu took the stand in his trial, repeating his claim that he had been working on behalf of the government and had told the CIA precisely what he would do to help gather information. In a recording of his CIA call played by his lawyer, Flaviu told the CIA official: “If you want to find more, you have to allow me to continue the deal to see the end-user certification, the middlemen, the everything, and I can provide you with more, more, and more information, because in this moment we get stuck, you know, it’s just a small deal.”
Explaining this statement in his testimony, Flaviu said he intended to give “a framework about what kind of intel I can get” to the CIA.
In their arguments, prosecutors dismissed Flaviu’s CIA calls as an attempted cover for the arms transaction, claiming that he had cynically manipulated the government using knowledge from his past work with the FBI. Flaviu’s claims to have been working for the government were implausible, they argued, since he did not attempt to contact them again after his initial phone calls.
On May 26, after a two-week trial, Flaviu was convicted on charges of conspiring to kill officers and employees of the United States and providing material support to a terrorist organization. Flaviu remained silent as the verdict came down, his eyes cast to the courtroom floor.
A request by The Intercept to interview Flaviu was declined by the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. Another attempt, after Flaviu was moved to a new facility, was stymied when the prison refused to notarize a form granting his permission for the interview. Later, he expressed concern, through his wife, that giving an interview prior to sentencing might result in a harsher punishment.
He will be sentenced this week, on December 2. He faces the possibility of life imprisonment.
Steve Bannon’s disturbing views on ‘genetic superiority’ are shared by Trump
They also validate a core belief of white nationalists.
Think Progress, November 28, 2016
Former Breitbart head Steve Bannon has been a national lightning rod ever since he was appointed CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. At-issue: Bannon’s deep ties to the growing white nationalist movement, which provided some of Trump’s earliest and most fervent supporters.
On Sunday the New York Times published a profile on Bannon, casting him as a “combative populist.” Buried deep within the profile is an account of Bannon talking about his belief in the “genetic superiority” of certain people and his support for restricting voting rights to only property owners.
A former colleague of Bannon’s, Julia Jones, recounted her interactions with Bannon to reporter Scott Shane:
Ms. Jones, the film colleague, said that in their years working together, Mr. Bannon occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners.
“I said, ‘That would exclude a lot of African-Americans,’” Ms. Jones recalled. “He said, ‘Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.’ I said, ‘But what about Wendy?’” referring to Mr. Bannon’s executive assistant. “He said, ‘She’s different. She’s family.’”
Jones also previously described Bannon’s comments about voting to The Daily Beast.
Restricting voting to only property holders would take the country back centuries to its founding — when only white, male property holders could vote in most states. Today, such a restriction would disenfranchise huge swaths of people, including students, people of color, young Americans, many city dwellers, and low-income populations.
Far from populism, this is Revolutionary-era elitism drawn along racist lines. And for white nationalists, it’s a familiar goal.
Former KKK wizard David Duke, for example, has been proclaiming on Twitter that Trump’s election and cabinet picks are the first steps toward “taking America back” — that is, taking America “back” from anyone who isn’t descended from fair-skinned Europeans. In white nationalist ideology, only white Americans have a true right to the country — and the rights that go along with citizenship, like voting.
Bannon’s musings on voting restrictions are a dog-whistle to white nationalists. The same goes for his reference to “genetic superiority,” a view that Donald Trump also has said he shares.
Trump has repeatedly connected his success to his “good genes,” as ThinkProgress previously reported. He’s said that his children “don’t need adversity” to build character or skills, because they share his good genetics. In an interview once, he went so far as to compare himself to a “racehorse” and discussing his “breeding” at length.
The belief in the genetic predisposition of qualities like intelligence are a hallmark of white nationalism.
In Trump’s rhetoric on genes, white nationalists hear validation of their belief that genetics alone can qualify someone for leadership — or make them inherently inferior. Genetics and connections to race are a common theme on white nationalist, neo-Nazi sites like American Renaissance and Stormfront.
Yet despite the validation Bannon (and Trump) have given to white nationalist ideologies, many insist that the term “white nationalist” is inappropriate. Woven throughout the New York Times profile were quotes from Bannon’s friends and family pointing to his personal relationships with people of color, and therefore insisting that he was not, himself, a racist.
This sort of tokenism is a familiar rebuttal. Take Bannon’s excuse in the quote above that his black executive assistant was “different” because “she’s family.” It’s a near-textbook example of using, for example, having black friends as a defense against racism.
But this is a false parallel: It’s possible, even common, to hold negative views of a race in general, while thinking that a few members of that race are “different” and therefore acceptable. In fact, according to psychology, it’s an integral phenomenon to how we build and accommodate stereotypes.
Meanwhile, prominent white nationalist leaders are thrilled by Trump’s victory, and with Bannon’s new high profile role as Trump’s chief strategist.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Trump said that he didn’t want to “energize” the group, and said that he “disavowed” them.
It was one of the very few times that Trump has tried to separate himself from his racist fan base in his year-and-a-half long campaign. But Trump offered no details about why, exactly, he felt compelled to disavow the group — and white nationalist ideologues have said that while his words were “disappointing,” instead they were focused on his actions.
And in his actions, Trump has elevated figures like Bannon and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, another white nationalist favorite. Their history and words validate white nationalist ideas, as do some of Trump’s own. With validation from national leaders comes what Trump called “energy” — a public resurgence of white nationalist fervor.
In 1945, the FBI raided a warehouse in Los Angeles that was used for storage by the German Consulate. Among the files, they found a collection of 3×5-inch cards kept by the Nazi regime containing contact information for important people in LA. The cards included the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people in the entertainment industry, academia, and industry. And it serves as a terrifying reminder that the normalization of the Nazis in the 1930s provided cover for some very powerful people in the US to be friendly with genocidal maniacs.
I obtained a five-page document that contains the information from the cards as part of a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI. I had previously requested all FBI documents on Norman Chandler, the former publisher of the LA Times who, it turns out, was hanging out with Nazis in the late 1930s. And now the National Archives has provided me with this document as part of that request.
The list doesn’t explicitly say that everyone on the list was working closely with the Nazis. But judging by what we know about some of the associations of those on the list, this was at the very least people who might be invited to a Nazi cocktail party. And at worst, people who were actively working with the Nazis and keeping in regular contact.
Dr. Erich Breitung, for example, is on the list and was head of the Los Angeles branch of the Nazi Party’s American information services in 1933. The organization was set up to distribute Nazi propaganda in the United States and had offices from Cincinnati to San Francisco. It’s very easy for Americans today to forget just how divided the country was about whether to get involved in World War II. And as late as 1939 the Nazis were holding rallies at Madison Square Garden in New York. As you can see from the photo above, these rallies were well attended and had signs like “Stop Jewish Domination of Christian Americans.”
Entertainment industry people on the index cards in 1945 included Jason Joythe head of public relations at Twentieth Century Fox; Hans Peters, an art director at Twentieth Century Fox who would move to MGM during World War II; and Henry Noerdlinger from the MGM research department.
The file notes that Noerdlinger will “gladly furnish info to [the German] Consulate.” Noerdlinger was educated in Switzerland and came to the United States in 1929. He worked for the MGM research department for over a decade and after World War II, Noerdlinger became Cecil B. DeMille’s personal research consultant, working on movies like The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and The Ten Commandments (1956).
The cards had plenty of members of academia as well, including Ernest C. Moore, the co-founder of UCLA who in the 1930s called his university, “one of the worst hotbeds of campus Communism in America.”
The list of academic contacts also included Dr. M. Delbruck from the California Technology Institute (now known as Caltech); and a number of professors from UCLA like Rolf Hoffmann, Paul Perigord, Frank H. Reinsch, Alexander Graf von Wuthenau-Hohenturm, and Erik Wahlgren. Scientist and director of the Los Angeles Museum, W.A. Bryan, was also on the list.
Important members of American industry in Los Angeles, like the president of Lockheed, Robert Gross, were on the Nazi’s contact list as well. Lockheed’s planes would eventually become crucial to the American war effort, but Gross had no problem selling his Electra planes to Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and Japan from 1934 to 1938.
Newspaper industry people on the list include Mrs. R. W. Trueblood and Edwin Schallert of the LA Times. Norman Chandler was also on the list, of course, and was “royally entertained” by the Nazi regime when the publisher visited Germany. Chandler chided American journalists who were critical of the Nazis in the 1930s, saying that they “peddled nothing but lies about National Socialist Germany.” Chandler was quite literally partying with Nazis until it became dangerous to his paper to do so.
You can read the entire list of Nazi contacts in Los Angeles that was confiscated by the FBI in 1945 here. At the very least it serves as a frightening reminder that authoritarian regimes aren’t above getting plenty of buy-in from allegedly “liberal” institutions like the press and academia.
As far as I know, virtually none of the people on this list advertised their connection to the Nazis like Chandler did. But their connections to the Nazi regime no doubt stoked the flames of hatred in supposedly liberal American cities like Los Angeles—from the classroom to the newspapers.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) — A prominent Russian diplomat told Russian media that members of their foreign ministry had regular contact with members of the Trump campaign, conflicting earlier denials by President-elect Donald Trump of any contact with the country.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks again denied the comments, this time by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, that Russian government workers had meetings with Trump’s campaign.
Ryabkov told state-run Interfax news agency “there were contacts” with the Trump campaign, as well as “sporadic” contact with the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Rybakov said, according to The Washington Post. “Those people have always been in the limelight in the United States and have occupied high-ranking positions. I cannot say that all of them but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”
Hicks denied the report, telling the Post “this is false.” She also told Bloomberg she was “unaware” of any such meetings between Trump campaign staff and members of the Russian government.
Trump faced criticism from Clinton and Democrats during the campaign for his repeated praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The FBI investigated the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, including the existence of a secret server located in Trump Tower that appeared to have been contacted regularly by two other servers belonging to a Russian bank and Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has long ties to Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine.
The FBI concluded the ties were not sufficient enough to warrant further investigation.
The fact the Justice Department also charged the Russian government was behind plots to hack Democratic institutions in an effort to damage Clinton’s campaign. The Russian government is believed to be behind hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Emails from both were later leaked to WikiLeaks, which published them, to the chagrin of the Clinton campaign.
Holocaust Survivor on Trump: ‘I’ve Seen This before — in Nazi Germany
Denise Crosby Aurora Beacon-News, October 20, 2016
It’s always a pleasure when dinner includes interesting companions — and I was surrounded by more than a few after being invited to attend a meeting earlier this week of the Aurora Navy League Council.
Its members are veterans that include WWII fighter pilots and captains of nuclear submarines — not to mention a committee that in the past two years raised over $400,000 for the commissioning of the Navy’s latest ship, the USS Illinois, a nuclear sub that was launched earlier this month and will be commissioned next weekend in an elaborate ceremony hosted by the Aurora group.
Needless to say, table talk was lively and informative.
It’s also obvious these former sailors and airmen have quite a lot invested in this country. Which is why so many of them are disturbed by the direction this election is taking us.
Many, and this is no surprise, saw our two major candidates for president as deeply flawed. Those feelings were shared by the man who sat on my right during dinner, a 90-year-old retired engineer whose story makes him uniquely qualified to comment on this unorthodox and disturbing campaign season.
“The first time I saw (Republican candidate Donald) Trump speak on television, I was shocked,” said Eric Blaustein, of Lombard, “not so much because of what he said but the way the crowd responded to him.”
“No matter what kind of outrageous things came out of his mouth, the people waved their hands and loudly cheered ‘Hurrah!’ ” he told me, his eyes growing more serious “I have seen that before — in Nazi Germany in 1933.”
Blaustein, who was the honored guest at this dinner, made a similar comment later while talking to Navy League members about his experiences as a child growing up in Nazi Germany and as a teenage Holocaust survivor.
As Blaustein quickly explained in his heavy German accent, his tale of SS atrocities was different from the ones we’ve grown used to, of concentration camp survivors with skeletal bodies covered by filthy and tattered striped clothing.
Nevertheless, his tale of survival was fascinating and filled with the sort of life and death intrigue of which movies are made and books are written. It began when he was a 6-year-old Jewish child watching as the Nazi party entered his hometown of Chemnitz in eastern Germany, gradually taking away from him everything that was precious. First, he lost his friends, who would no longer play with him; then he could no longer attend his school. And his middle-class family’s business, money, possessions and home were taken away. Then, finally, he lost his father, who was arrested a couple of times by the Nazis before eventually disappearing to join the underground movement in another city, he said.
At age 15, Blaustein said, he was forced to become a grave digger for the Nazis, which meant sometimes hollowing out the graves of those he had known.
Blaustein said he eventually had help obtaining fake papers and went into open hiding by pretending to be a member of the Hitler Youth. But that ruse came to an end when, in the fall of 1944, he was arrested as a deserter of the German army.
That turn of events, Blaustein said, left him with two choices: be shot that very day or admit he was Jewish in order to buy some time in a concentration camp.
Needless to say, he chose the latter.
At Buchenwald, fate or guile, or a little of both, was on his side again, when, with the help of a few conspirators, he was able to swap identities with a young Italian inmate who had died. Even though Blaustein, then 17, spoke no Italian, he said he managed to convince guards his name was Luigi for five months, until the U.S. Army liberated him in May 1945 from a Buchenwald satellite camp. He said his immediate family survived, but he lost many relatives in the Holocaust.
Bitter and hurt by the homeland that betrayed him, Blaustein obtained a master’s degree in engineering from a German university and moved to Israel in June 1948, just in time to join the Israeli army and fight in the War of Independence, he said.
The lieutenant managed to cheat death a few more times, he said. And in 1954, he and his wife moved to Pittsburgh, where for many years he headed the engineering division for Morrison Knudsen, a large civil engineering and construction firm responsible for many major projects throughout the country.
Blaustein, whose son is an international attorney living in Israel, moved to the Chicago area to be close to his daughter and grandchildren. Now living in a retirement home, he told me he’s still an avid reader and researcher and enjoys teaching biblical history lessons twice a month to fellow residents.
When asked later about whether he maintains dual citizenship, Blaustein was quick to respond. “I am an American only,” he proudly proclaimed
And he loves this country passionately, he told me over dinner — which is why he’s so worried about what he sees as one egotistical man’s vicelike control over those who feel disenfranchised.
As a man who’s had a front-row seat in one of mankind’s most ugly chapters, Blaustein is fully aware of how history has a way of repeating itself.
“This man frightens me,” he said. “I watch what is happening. … I can’t believe this is America.”
Kansas militia men calling themselves ‘Crusaders’ charged in terror plot targeting Somali Muslim immigrants
The group said they wanted to ‘wake people up’ and inspire other militia groups to act
Mark Berman, Sarah Larimer
Three Kansas men were accused of plotting a bomb attack targeting an apartment complex home to a mosque and many Muslim immigrants from Somalia, authorities said on Friday.
Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein face federal charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, the Department of Justice announced.
“These charges are based on eight months of investigation by the FBI that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” acting US Attorney Tom Beall said in a statement. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”
According to the complaint, the investigation was prompted by a paid confidential informant who had attended meetings with a group of individuals calling themselves “the Crusaders,” and heard plans to attack Muslims, whom they called “cockroaches”.
The three men charged on Friday were ultimately identified as the architects of the attack plan, the FBI complaint stated, through a combination of recordings, social media and reporting from the confidential informant.
The group routinely expressed their hatred for Muslims, Somalis and immigrants. In one call, Stein allegedly said the country could only be turned around with “a bloodbath”. The individuals said they wanted to “wake people up” and inspire other militia groups to act.
The FBI says that as part of this plot, the men conducted surveillance in Garden City, Kansas, a small city about 200 miles west of Wichita, and other places in southwest Kansas.
At one point, Stein was being driven around by the confidential informant, who told the FBI that Stein yelled at Somali women in traditional garb and cursed at them.
During this surveillance, Stein was armed with an assault rifle, extra magazines, a pistol, a ballistic vest and a night vision scope, the complaint said.
The three men had been plotting “to use a weapon of mass destruction” since February. In June, Stein allegedly met with members of the Crusaders and brought up the Orlando nightclub shooting, carried out by a Florida man who pledged loyalty to Isis during the attack.
Police mugshot of Gavin Wright (AP)
Police mugshot of Curtis Allen (AP)
The FBI said its informant met in July with the three men charged on Friday at a business owned by Wright and where Allen worked. They discussed potential targets, at one point putting pins in them on Google Maps, and “brainstormed various methods of attack, including murder, kidnapping, rape, and arson”, the FBI said.
“We’re going to talk about killing people and going to prison for life,” Allen said at one point, according to the complaint. “Less than sixty days, maybe forty days until something major happens. We need to be pre-emptive before something happens.”
“The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim,” Stein responded, according to the documents.
At another point in the conversation, Stein allegedly remarked: “If you’re a Muslim I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head,” before telling the group: “When we go on operations there’s no leaving anyone behind, even if it’s a one-year old, I’m serious.”
Allen and Wright are both 49 years old, while Stein is 47. No attorneys were listed for the three men on Friday evening.
The trio were next scheduled to appear in a Wichita courtroom on Monday morning. If convicted, they face life in prison.
By Glenn Kessler The Washington Post
“As far as the lawsuit, yes, when I was very young, I went into my father’s company, had a real estate company in Brooklyn and Queens, and we, along with many, many other companies throughout the country – it was a federal lawsuit – were sued. We settled the suit with zero – with no admission of guilt. It was very easy to do. . . . That was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms, and it’s just one of those things.” – Donald Trump, remarks in the first presidential debate, Sept. 26, 2016
-When Hillary Clinton raised a 1973 racial discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department against Trump’s company, Trump dismissed it as a run-of-the-mill action that also affected “many, many other companies throghout the country.” He also claimed that the settlement was “very easy to do.”
He added: “I settled that lawsuit with no admission of guilt, but that was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms, and it’s just one of those things.”
But this is a highly misleading account, as documented in the book, “Trump Revealed,” by our Washington Post colleagues Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher. Let’s review the record.
The Justice Department lawsuit against Donald Trump, his father, Fred Trump, and the Trump company, which owned 39 buildings with 15,000 apartments, actually marks the first mention of Donald J. Trump in The New York Times. The front page headline on Oct. 16, 1973, said: “Major Landlord Accused of Antiblack Bias in City.” Regarding the charges, Trump was quoted: “They are absolutely ridiculous.”
According to Kranish and Fisher, the Justice Department lawsuit was “one of the most significant racial bias cases of the era.” It was based on evidence gathered by testers for the New York City Human Rights Commission, who documented that black people were told no apartments were available in Trump properties while white testers at the same time were immediately offered apartments. In a sampling of 10 Trump buildings, only 1 to 3.5 percent of the occupants were minorities, making it one of the strongest cases the Justice Department had ever seen for violations of the Fair Housing Act.
All the Justice Department wanted was to obtain a settlement in which Trump and his father would promise not to discriminate. But Trump instead hired Roy Cohn, a notoriously combative attorney, and countersued the Justice Department for $100 million ($500 million in today’s dollars) for making false and misleading statements. But his allegations were dismissed by the courts, and two years of litigation later, Trump decided in 1975 to settle before the case went to trial.
“The settlement was much like what the Trumps could initially have gotten,” the book says. As part of the deal, the Trumps were required to place ads assuring minorities that they would have equal access to housing. Trump initially balked at paying for the ads but ultimately was forced to do so.
Newspapers at the time declared it was a victory for the government, with headlines such as “Minorities Win Housing Suit.” The Justice Department said the decree was “one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated.” A New York Times article determined that the agreement had “stronger teeth” than a settlement reached with another realtor, the Lefrak Organization, in 1971.
The book notes that Trump, in an interview, falsely claimed “there were many, many landlords that were sued under that case.” Similarly, in the debate, Trump claimed “that was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms.” But the suit was squarely aimed at the Trumps and their company; it was titled: United States of America v. Fred C. Trump, Donald Trump and Trump Management, Inc.
In a transcript of the April 21, 2016, interview, one can see how Kranish called out Trump when he tried to claim the lawsuit was against many realtors:
Donald Trump: Yeah, that was, yeah. But I meant that was one of many cases.
Michael Kranish: What other cases? The LeFrak case was settled, and you were upset about the Lefrak case being settled, the Sam Lefrak case.
Donald Trump: Oh, I see. You mean they settled it sooner?
Michael Kranish: He settled previously, and you had cited in your book that, you know, this other landlord, Sam Lefrak, settled the case. You didn’t want to do that.
Moreover, the Trumps were back in court three years later, as the Justice Department in 1978 alleged that they had reneged on the agreement to allow minorities to rent properties. The case was not formally closed until 1982.
On several levels, Trump’s debate answer was misleading. This was not a case brought against many real estate firms; it was brought against Trump and his father. Trump did not get a better deal; he got essentially the same deal, or possibly worse, than the deal he would have gotten if he had settled before spending legal fees for two years. He also failed to live up to the deal and found himself back in court. While Trump touts there was no admission of guilt, that’s rather typical in these sorts of settlements. The Justice Department simply wanted to get the Trumps to agree to rent to African American tenants – which they failed to do even after agreeing to settle the case.
A lot of Donald Trump Jr.’s trail missteps seem to involve white nationalists and Nazis
By Aaron Blake
Washington Post, September 17, 2016
Donald Trump Jr. says things. Lots of things. Sometimes, they are problematic things: At least twice this week he was forced to defend an action or remark viewed as racially or culturally insensitive.
Of course, not all of the remarks were initially his own words: He has often stumbled based on his social media decisions — the people he retweets and the messages he amplifies.
“The media has been her number-one surrogate in this,” Trump said in a Wednesday interview with a Philadelphia radio station, referring to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Without the media, this wouldn’t even be a contest. But the media has built her up. They’ve let her slide on every indiscrepancy [sic], on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of this thing.”
Then he added: “If Republicans were doing that, they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now.”
After the media and the Clinton campaign noted that sounded a lot like a Holocaust reference, the Trump campaign put out a defiant response. By Friday morning, he had acknowledged a poor “choice of words” but accused the media of targeting him because it had run out of ways to attack his father.
He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday morning that he might have used the wrong language, noting that he had previously used “electric chair” in the same formulation.
“I didn’t say anything about the Holocaust,” he said. “It was poor choice of words, perhaps. But in no way, shape or form was I ever even remotely talking about the Holocaust.”
Posting Pepe the Frog on Instagram
After Clinton made her “basket of deplorables” comment and Trump supporters gleefully embraced the label, Trump this week sought to do the same. So he Instagrammed a mock-up of a “The Expendables” movie poster with his, his father’s and his father’s supporters’ faces superimposed over the words “The Deplorables.”
On “Good Morning America,” Trump said he didn’t know the frog was such a symbol. “If I’m glib — perhaps that’s the case — I’ve never even heard of Pepe the Frog,” he said. “I thought it was a frog in a wig. I thought it was funny. I had no idea that there’s any connotation there.”
Radio interview with a white nationalist
In March, he did an interview with James Edwards, a white nationalist radio host who prefers the term “pro-white advocate.” In the past, Edwards has decried interracial sex as “white genocide” and said “slavery is the greatest thing that ever happened” to black people.
Trump said at the time that he didn’t realize who was asking him questions.
Trump Jr. said Wednesday that he was speaking to another radio host for a previously scheduled interview via telephone when, unbeknownst to him, Edwards chimed in with questions. “He was brought into the interview without my knowledge,” the 38-year-old executive vice president for the Trump Organization said in an interview with Bloomberg Politics. “Had I known, I would have obviously never done an interview with him.”
Retweeting a professor who writes about “white identity”
On Sept. 1, Trump Jr. retweeted alt-right movement leader Kevin MacDonald, who runs the Occidental Observer website. According to the site’s mission statement, it is focused on issues of “white identity, white interests, and the culture of the West.”
His source was apparently Vox Day, who sent a tweet alleging that the woman was Sanders supporter Portia Boulger. Trump retweeted this claim
The Bombing of Laos: By the Numbers
By SARAH KOLINOVSKY
President Obama announced today that the United States is doubling its funding to clear bombs dropped in Laos during the Vietnam War era.
An additional $30 million per year will be given to Laos for three years to help clear undetonated cluster bombs that still pockmark the landscape. Obama, who is attending the ASEAN Summit in Laos, said the U.S. has a “moral obligation to help Laos heal” and that the “remnants of war continue to shatter lives.”
Here is an ABC News breakdown on the history of the bombing in Laos:
America’s Secret War
As the U.S. fought against communism in Vietnam, a civil war was also raging in Laos between the communist Pathet Lao party and the Royal Lao Government.
To support the Royal Lao Government against the communists, and to disrupt supply lines being used by the communist Vietnamese forces, the CIA waged a proxy war in Laos, dropping two million tons of ordnance. The CIA has called the effort “the largest paramilitary operations ever undertaken by the CIA.” The bombing campaign began in 1964 and lasted until 1973.
This proxy war was unknown to many at the time. An airline secretly owned by the CIA, Air America, hugely assisted in the operation.
The fate of the CIA proxy war in Laos became inextricably linked to the war in Vietnam. As American forces lost their battle to the north Vietnamese to the east, the U.S.-backed regime in Laos began to lose power, as well. In 1973, a cease-fire between the warring Lao parties was signed, and the CIA ended its aerial bombardment. Eventually, the communist party gained control of Laos, and the country remains communist today.
By the Numbers
2 million tons – the amount of ordnance dropped on Laos between 1964 and 1973, according to Legacies of War, an advocacy and education group. This amounts to a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours per day, for nine years.
270 million – the number of cluster bombs that were dropped on Laos during this period.
80 million — the estimated number of cluster bombs that did not detonate, most of which are still buried in farmland.
210 million — how many more bombs were dropped on Laos than were dropped on Iraq in 1991, 1998, and 2006 combined. In fact, Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in history.
20,000 — the number of people who have been killed or injured by unexploded ordnance in Laos.
50 — the number of casualties per year, down from 310 per year in 2008. Forty percent of the victims are children.
$4.9 million — the average amount per year the U.S. has spent on clearing unexploded ordnance in Laos, from 1993 to 2016.
$30 million — the amount the U.S. will spend on clearing unexploded ordnance each year for the next three years.
What Are Cluster Bombs?
The bombs littering the Laotian landscape are known as cluster bombs or “bombies” in local parlance.
A cluster bomb is designed to explode into smaller pieces of shrapnel, causing casualties over a large area.
The smaller pieces of these bombs, known as cluster munitions, are they are usually the size of a soup can, an orange, or a tennis ball.
Those cluster bombs that do not explode on impact can remain buried in the ground for years, posing an indefinite danger to the civilians who live around them. They can be set off in a variety of ways, including if they are struck with a shovel by a farmer or if rain and floodwaters uncover them.
These bombs can cause major injuries such as blindness, loss of limbs, hearing loss, traumatic brain injuries, and shrapnel wounds.
Many farmers know their land is contaminated with bombs, but they can’t afford to move or purchase more land, so they must take the risk to farm contaminated land.
ABC News’ Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this report.
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
By Daniel Kovalik
CounterPunch, Aug. 25, 2016
As the Colombian government and left-wing FARC rebels near the signing of a comprehensive peace accord, and though they have already signed a bilateral ceasefire which is largely holding, Colombia is still suffering from the worst human rights abuses in the Western Hemisphere. These abuses are being carried out by right-wing paramilitary groups (aka, death squads), which the U.S. and Colombian governments conveniently deny even exist.
These paramilitary groups, in accord with their long-time friend and ally, former President Alvaro Uribe, are openly and aggressively opposed to the peace accords, and will most certainly escalate their violence as a national referendum which will be held to ratify, or reject, these accords draws near. Thus, as Insight Crime recently reported, the Colombian Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) estimates that nearly 250 municipalities (or more than 25% of the 1,105 municipalities in all of Colombia) “are at risk of violence or fraud affecting the referendum on an anticipated peace deal” with the FARC. The departments of Choco, Arauca, Cauca and Putumayo – that is, departments with heavy concentrations of Afro-Colombians and indigenous – are among the departments with the greatest risk. Antioquia, the department of Alvaro Uribe who was governor there, has the greatest number of municipalities at risk.
Meanwhile, the paramilitaries are already exploiting the opportunity presented by the FARC’s ceasefire to gain territory and exact more advantage for the economic elites – both domestic and foreign – which they serve.
For starters, Colombia again, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), suffered more assassinations of trade unionists than any country on earth in 2015, and therefore earned its spot as one of the 10 worst countries in the world for workers’ rights. As the ITUC explains in its annual report: “Trade unionists have been murdered with impunity for decades in Colombia. In 2015, 20 murders of trade unionists were recorded in Colombia – the highest number in any country.” And, not surprisingly, it is the paramilitaries who are carrying out such assassinations in the interest of capital.
In addition, 35 human rights defenders have already been killed in the first half of 2016. This is an incredible figure. Indeed, according to Colombia’s El Espectador, this year has been “one of the most violent in regards to the murder of human rights defenders and land claimants,” with the paramilitaries being the perpetrators of these crimes. Indeed, one of the chief perpetrators of the violence, particularly against those advocating for the return of land stolen during the armed conflict, is the paramilitary group known as the “Anti-Restitution of Land Army.” This group has been reinvigorated by the release from jail of infamous paramilitary leader Jose Gregorio Mongonez Lugo, also known as “Carlos Scissors.” He was responsible in the first place for the violent theft of land in the banana region of Magdelena, Colombia, and has now returned to make sure that it is not given back to its rightful owners.
All of this bodes very badly for the prospects of peace in Colombia. And indeed, one of Colombia’s great human rights defenders, Father Javier Giraldo, S.J., recently penned a sobering peace on this very subject, entitled, “Peace in Colombia?” This piece was translated by the Colombia Support Network, and is well-worth a read, especially as you will never hear a voice such as his in the mainstream press.
As Father Giraldo opines, despite the progress of the peace talks in Havana which are quickly nearing a conclusion, “the country is profoundly polarized by the growth and the growing power of extreme right-wing forces. It appears as if the forces of the Cold War are coming back to life, powered by the monstrous economic strength of multinational businesses that are rapidly defending their exclusionary interests, using their extremely powerful resources.”
Father Giraldo rightly notes that the Colombian government, while paying lip-service to peace, in fact seeks the surrender and ultimate destruction of both the guerillas as well as Colombia’s peaceful forces for social change. As he explains:
the methods of persuasion that have been used to promote the peace agreements rely mostly on the practical impossibility of achieving social change by means of armed conflict, given the gigantic and overwhelming military power of the government, supported by the imperial power with the greatest destructive reach in the recent history of humanity: the United States. . . . President Santos has instead, above all, on a peace that will benefit business leaders and transnational investors, who will be able to intensify their extraction of natural resources. But meanwhile his government represses with cruel violence the social protests of communities affected by the ecological and social destruction that has been caused and continues to be caused by these multinational companies.
Father Giraldo then expresses a seldom-uttered truth which I have certainly learned upon my numerous trips to Colombia in the past 17 years – that while the paramilitaries oppose the peace process because it will grant some immunity for rebels, the “popular movements feel more fear of the impunity of the powerful and of the paramilitaries and the agents of the government, whose war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide greatly exceed, both in quality and in cruelty, the crimes of the insurgency.”
And, it is the impunity for the right-wing paramilitaries, who now control large swaths of the Colombian government, which is nearly total. And again, this impunity is made by possible by the Colombian and U.S. governments’ denial of the very existence of the paramilitaries, as well as the mainstream media’s near total silence about Colombia and its horrible human rights situation – certainly the worst in the Western Hemisphere. If peace in Colombia has any chance of succeeding, it will need to be supported and cultivated by people of good will throughout the world who are willing to tell the truth about Colombia and who are willing to provide accompaniment to the peace process.
PHOENIX – A political action committee supporting U.S. Senate hopeful Kelli Ward, received a huge influx of cash from a Donald Trump supporter and New York billionaire.
Robert Mercer, a heavy GOP donor, contributed $200,000 to KelliPAC, new Federal Election Commission filings show.
Ward is the main Republican challenger for Senator John McCain’s seat in the August 30 primary. Trump endorsed McCain earlier this month. Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick is also running.
“KelliPAC’s last-minute infusion of out-of-state cash—something she has hypocritically decried— doesn’t change the fact that she spent taxpayer dollars to explore conspiracy theories, and her positions on key national security issues would weaken our military and put Arizonans at risk,” McCain spokeswoman Lorna Romero told ABC15.
Ward spokesman Stephen Sebastian noted that McCain’s PAC’s have led to causalities.
“The millions spent by McCain’s attack PAC’s trying to fool voters into thinking that troop funding is voted on in Phoenix rather than D.C. don’t change the fact that McCain’s ‘Invade the World, Invite the World’ agenda of arming Islamic extremists abroad paired with open borders here at home has resulted in piles of bodies from Benghazi to Orlando,” Sebastian said.
Meanwhile, Kirkpatrick spokesman D.B. Mitchell said the contribution is why rules need to change.
“Donations like these are exactly why Ann Kirkpatrick supports overturning the disastrous Citizens United decision and working to ensure our elections are not decided by a small group of millionaires and billionaires,” he said.
Remember when we told you that some farmers were illegally spraying the herbicide dicamba on Monsanto’s new GMO crops? Well, the situation is getting worse.
Farmers in 10 states have now complained that dicamba is hurting their crops, according to a notice issued last week by the Environmental Protection Agency. The reported damage from dicamba has spread from two to 10 states in a matter of weeks, and now includes Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
The EPA has done very little in response to the complaints, and some states are beginning to take matters into their own hands to protect their farmers and prevent further crop loss.
As EWG highlighted two weeks ago, farmers believe that dicamba is being sprayed illegally on Monsanto’s new GMO cotton and soybeans, engineered to survive applications of dicamba and Monsanto’s glyphosate, sold as Roundup. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved sales of Monsanto’s GMO seeds to farmers, the EPA has not approved the herbicide mixture that is designed to be sprayed on these new GMOs.
Dicamba easily drifts in the air after it’s sprayed, and damages crops when it lands on neighboring fields. More than 100 Missouri farmers have reported damage to their peaches, tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons, rice, cotton, peas, peanuts, alfalfa and soybeans.
In neighboring Arkansas, frustration over dicamba drift has led the state’s Pesticide Committee to propose prohibiting the spraying of certain dicamba formulations during the growing season, from mid-April to mid-September. It has also proposed expanding mandatory buffer zones and increasing fines for violations.
In other states, experts are urging farmers to hire lawyers if they think drift has affected their crops.
When states and lawyers are forced to take action to protect farmers from pesticides, it’s clear that the federal pesticide law is broken.
Meanwhile, the EPA issued an advisory notice last week to remind farmers that dicamba has not been approved for use on new GMO cotton and soybeans. The agency asserted that farmers must carefully follow the instructions on pesticide labels. But a recent survey by University of Missouri scientists found that 57 percent of farmers don’t read pesticides labels before spraying their fields.
Sadly, the damage wrought by dicamba comes as no surprise to environmental groups. Last Tuesday, Steve Smith, chair of the Save Our Crops Coalition, wrote an open letter to Hugh Grant, Monsanto’s chairman and chief executive officer, that said, essentially, we told you so. For years, the Save our Crops Coalition, which represents fruit and vegetable producers, has warned that illegal use of generic dicamba would occur and that dicamba drift would be especially hazardous.
Now it appears that environmentalists’ worst fears are coming true. This situation is likely to only get worse.
What can be done?
For starters, Congress should update the nation’s outdated federal pesticide law to ensure that there are adequate buffer zones around neighboring farms, schools, hospitals and churches, as well as mandate stricter enforcement and higher penalties for non-compliance.
Congress should also reward good stewardship. While many farmers across the country, including thousands of organic farmers, are producing food without synthetic pesticides that can jeopardize neighboring farms and pollute the environment, most are not. That’s because the incentives created by Congress are backward. The federal government does not give enough support to reverse these damaging practices.
One thing is clear: If pesticide regulation continues to be a Wild West, then farmers and consumers can expect pesticide drift to expand.
By Jake Ryan – The Sun – July 31, 2016
The former Nazi officers deny they took part in any crimes
The men are some of the last surviving members of the Waffen-SS which was declared a criminal organisation at the post-war Nuremberg trials.
They include veterans who admit suppressing popular rebellions which had been backed by the Allied powers during the bloody conflict.
There are also ex-soldiers who served in a brutal SS-led paramilitary force and two officers once listed by Soviet Russia as alleged war criminals.
The SS Galizien division was formed in 1943 from Ukrainian volunteers who joined the elite fighting force and swore an oath of allegiance to Hitler.
Around 50,000 men from the Galicia region of Ukraine were allowed to join the SS because its boss Heinrich Himmler had said they were more Aryan-like.
They fought on the eastern front
The unit was said to have massacred civilians in these countries as well as Polish nationals in Ukraine.
It also included former concentration camp guards and was led by SS officers notorious for their ability to commit murder on a huge scale.
But in a controversial move the British government allowed over 8,000 of the soldiers who surrendered to settle here after the war.
The government carried out few checks on the prisoners and claimed finding out if any were war criminals was an “impossible” task.
We have spoken to a number of the surviving soldiers who admitted they volunteered to join the SS division after it was formed in 1943.
They told how they knew nothing of any war crimes but some did admit taking part in anti-rebel campaigns.
Two men who we tracked down were officers in the SS Galizien and had been listed byRussia in 1948 as men who they claimed had committed war crimes on its territory.
But the list was ignored by the Foreign Office and the men were allowed to settle here in the UK – where they have lived ever since.
Myron Tabora, 90, and Ostap Kykawec, 92, were both lieutenants in the SS division and were listed by famous Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal as Ukrainian SS of interest.
and smashed uprisings in Slovakia, Yugoslavia and Serbia with brutal force.
SS personnel cards and training school rosters for the pair can still be found in archives.
They show both men took part in SS officer school training which they said took place over two years when they joined in 1943 – meaning they hardly saw any fighting.
SS officer training also involved learning about methods of controlling prisoners which involved training at the notorious Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
But both Mr Tabora and Mr Kykawec, who joined when they were 18 and 19 respectively, deny they took part in any concentration camp training.
Mr Tabora, from Lichfield, Staffs, worked as an engineer after arriving in the UK and said he had never known he was listed by Russia as an alleged war criminal.
He also told how he had never seen his SS personnel card before.
He said: “I was with the Galizien, yes. But I never fired a rifle and I was in officer school for two years.
“I went to the Austria front but I didn’t know of any men committing crimes.
“But what is a war crime with what the Russians did?
“I heard about Polish people being killed in Ukraine but Poles were killing Ukrainians just the same.
“It was mutual. And what about the British Empire killing people?”
By Joseph Fronczak, Jacobin Magazine
In June 2006, President George W. Bush told Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Michael Hayden that he was worried. The subject of Bush’s concern was a picture of a CIA detainee chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper. This came almost five years into the agency’s detention and interrogation program, four years since it began waterboarding prisoners, three years after the revelations of Abu Ghraib, two years after a top-secret report had condemned the agency’s “inhumane and undocumented techniques,” and a year after the Washington Pos treported the existence of the CIA’s “covert prison system” — but now President Bush was concerned.
The public knows this because the CIA recently released fifty previously classified documents — 821 pages in all. Among them is a two-page memorandum from June 7, 2006, consisting of nothing but redactions, save one sentence in which Hayden passed along the president’s concern.
Three months later, Bush gave a major speech in which he admitted to the existence of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, run through an archipelago of gulag-like secret prisons strung around the world. After the speech the program began to slowly wind down: once its existence was officially acknowledged, it could no longer function.
The fifty newly released documents ought to be read in full. They are in turns fascinating, infuriating, baffling, illuminating, and elliptical. They describe the day-to-day banality and terror inside the CIA’s black sites during those first five years — from their authorization less than one week after 9/11 to Bush’s public acknowledgment in September 2006.
The documents report field agents’ protests against the violence and the cruelty hidden behind euphemisms like “detention” and “interrogation”; they lay out the bureaucratic logic and headquarter cowardice prevalent inside the national security state; and they tell us, in their own way, that there is much more that remains unknown.
A Dark, Cold Day
Consider what we know about the plights of Gul Rahmanand Khaled el-Masri, two CIA detainees whose ordeals can finally be reconstructed.
The report on the CIA’s internal investigation into the death of Gul Rahman makes for some of the grimmest reading in the collection. The contours of Rahman’s demise could have been pieced together from accounts already in the public record, but the report’s rendering of his final days captures the realities of detainee life like nothing else.
The report redacts the prison’s location, but this owes more to the agency’s stubbornness than its secrecy: we already know that Rahman died at a CIA compound near Kabul, Afghanistan known as the Salt Pit. “The facility is hot in the summer and cold in the winter,” states the report. It was the winter cold that killed Rahman.
In October 2002, the CIA captured Rahman in Islamabad. By November, he was on site, and the CIA was attempting to break him with “48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower, and rough treatment.”
In his first two days, his captors repeatedly pushed and shoved him while he was hooded; one person later described witnessing “a rough takedown,” which CIA officers had “thoroughly planned and rehearsed.” Later, when Rahman’s corpse was inspected, he had “surface abrasions” all over: “on his shoulders, pelvis, arms, legs, and face.” But all superficial, no severe wounds: an expert working-over.
While alive, Rahman refused to cooperate, even denying his identity. His obstinacy impressed his interrogators so much that they concluded that he had clearly received “a sophisticated level of resistance training.” They cited other evidence too: the fact that Rahman “claimed inability to think due to conditions” — in particular, the cold — and that he “[c]omplained about poor treatment” and “about the violation of his human rights.”
Although it was already cold outside and the prison had no central heating or insulation, his captors gave him a cold shower. Actually, according to one person interviewed, it was because it was cold that Rahman “was deliberately given a cold shower as a deprivation technique.” One witness remembered how Rahman began to show signs of hypothermia. Guards gave him a blanket, then later took it away.
In his cell, Rahman was kept “nude, with the exception of a diaper for most of his incarceration.” At some point, he was given a sweatshirt, and his diaper was taken off. (The report notes, “There is uncertainty as to when Rahman’s diaper had been removed.”) At the end of his life, he was restrained in a sitting position on a bare concrete floor, wearing nothing but a sweatshirt and shackled so that he could not stand up.
On his final day alive, at 4 AM, guards found him “sitting in his cell, alive, and shaking.” They continued their rounds. At 8 AM, guards again found him “alive, sitting on the floor, and shaking.” They continued their rounds. One guard later explained that nothing seemed amiss, “because all of the prisoners shake.”
Two hours later, Rahman was dead. Seeing that he had stopped shaking, guards entered his cell and examined him, finding blood in his nose and mouth.
They performed CPR. Blood flowed from his mouth and mucous from his nose after each chest compression. A doctor found “no evidence that the prisoner had been abused and no evidence of a cause of death.” An autopsy ruled the cause of death “undetermined,” though someone noted that “it was his clinical impression that Rahman died of hypothermia.”
During his last night, the temperature had been below freezing; Rahman was dehydrated; he died chained to a concrete floor, half naked, unable to move around to warm himself.
In the CIA’s report, the only individual found responsible is Gul Rahman himself: he had thrown his last meal — a plate of rice — across the floor, thus depriving his body of a “source of fuel to keep him warm.” Further, it had, after all, been Rahman’s violent behavior that “resulted in his restraint,” which “brought him” into sustained contact with the cold floor. With that, the report ends.
Reading Kafka in Kabul, 2004
Khaled el-Masri was also held in the Salt Pit, but he didn’t die there. Some of the basic facts of his surreal ordeal have been public knowledge since January 2005, when Don Van Natta Jr and Souad Mekhennet first reported his detentionin the New York Times. But at the time, Masri’s claims were unsubstantiated: the CIA refused to comment.
The newly declassified documents corroborate Masri’s nightmare, revealing the depths of the event’s absurdity, the lengths to which the CIA went to conceal its own incompetence, and the agency’s profound and prolonged human disregard.
Masri apparently once described his ordeal as something out of “a Kafka novel,” and indeed the documents confirm this perception. His trials, however, were far from exceptional. Taken together, the fifty documents read like a poorly edited volume of Kafka parables: nameless agents operate in small, spartan chambers inside unspecified prisons; they, and their prisoners, wait for clearance from nameless bureaucrats from headquarters.
Mostly, the characters are interchangeable: “the agent” in one document faces the same dilemma another faceless agent does in another; their captives likewise often blur together. Identifiable characters appear only by bureaucratic function, even though different people fill the same role at different times: sometimes the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) is Hayden, sometimes George Tenet, sometimes Porter Goss.
It doesn’t seem to matter much inside the penal colonies. And like in Kafka’s greatest works, time wastes away, years pass, little progress is made, and no satisfying conclusion is offered.
The CIA took Masri into custody in January 2004. A month later, on-site agents concluded that it had been a mistake to kidnap him, after someone finally realized his German passport was authentic. Yet the CIA held him for more than three months after agents concluded that there was “no justification for his detention”: an understated way of admitting that they got the wrong man.
Masri remained in the Salt Pit as headquarters debated “the exit strategy.” “[S]enior CIA officials and managers” including the DCI (at that point, Tenet) held out hope that Masri could be returned to his home country (Germany) without the German government finding out about his false detention.
While Tenet twiddled his thumbs, Masri wasted away in his cell, “desperate and depressed and prone to thoughts of suicide.” A psychologist described him as “visibly trembling from the anger he is currently experiencing,” “openly tearful and speechless.” Between the time the CIA realized his innocence and finally released him, he conducted “at least one hunger strike” and lost fifty pounds.
Masri claims he was “shackled, beaten, injected with drugs, and sodomized,” and that his captors had broken his hunger strike by force-feeding him. The agency’s inquiry found no evidence of “physical abuse or trauma.”
The agency concluded that “the experience that gave rise to al-Masri’s allegation he was sodomized was, in fact, a routine rectal examination,” and that he had chosen to end his hunger strike of his own volition, “when faced with the possibility of being force-fed.” Someone, whose name is redacted, “concluded that al-Masri’s hunger strike was a ploy to gain attention.”
Ultimately it took even longer to release Masri than it did to determine that he was who he said he was. Not until mid-May — more than three months after agents requested “Headquarters concurrence to release al-Masri” — did Tenet even tell Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice about Masri.
Armitage and Rice “indicated” that Tenet should get Masri home “quickly” and made clear that, yes, the Germans would be told what the agency had done. Someone suggested giving Masri €40,000 plus travel expenses. Instead, according the CIA’s report, Masri received €14,500, for which the agency had him sign a receipt.
Masri said the agency dumped him on the side of an Albanian road in the middle of night. “This was,” the CIA’s report of investigation notes, “five months after he had been detained.”
Rahman’s death and Masri’s mistaken rendition are only two of many incidents of mistreatment and cruelty acknowledged in these records. But an equally morally deflating aspect of the documents is that nowhere in over eight hundred pages does anyone (at least on my reading) ever define torture.
The closest is the occasional acknowledgment that something “could be a violation of Title 18 U.S.C. §2340A Torture.” These concerns uniformly arise when a field agent has improvised. What matters is not the harm or pain inflicted, but who chose it and whether formal channels pre-evaluated it. In these scenarios, the national security state’s legal wing’s true role becomes apparent: its lawyers launder torture, scrub it of its brutality, and iron it into standard operating procedure.
In the documents, officials describe this as constructing a “safe harbor.” A 2003 White House meeting included discussion of a Department of Justice memo that establishes “a legal ‘safe harbor’ (a statement that the conduct described within is lawful, so that no prosecution would be mounted as a result of any such conduct.)”
The general logic of safe harbors can be fathomed from an incident that played out without the comfort they provide — the interrogation of Khalid al-Sharif, also known as Abu Hazim, at a black site in 2003. An interpreter told the CIA’s internal investigators that he witnessed an interrogator employ what we have learned — following CIA parlance — to call “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
The pages documenting Sharif’s treatment and the security state’s evaluation of it demonstrate how much bureaucratic time and energy went into parsing these techniques and their legality, relative to what was put into any un-“enhanced” effort to gather intelligence by interrogation.
The phrase “enhanced interrogation techniques” has become so thoroughly a part of the vernacular that it is startling to consider it was not publicly known or used when Sharif was imprisoned: it didn’t enter our lexicon until 2004, the following year. Before then, the phrase appeared only in the classified chatter running through the national security state’s inner workings. Some of the earliest uses of the term appear in these now-available documents, along with its acronym, “EITs.”
Sharif endured one infamous EIT: “water dousing,” though with a cloth on his face. Water poured on a detainee’s cloth-covered face usually goes by another name: waterboarding. But, the CIA has asserted that it waterboarded only three detainees.
So note the careful language in the account of Sharif’s interrogation: here the CIA claims only to have employed “water dousing,” not waterboarding. Yet the interrogator had used cloth, had poured cold water “directly onto [Sharif’s] face to disrupt his breathing,” and his face had “turned blue.”
The report concludes that though “Headquarters personnel” had approved “the use of water dousing,” it had not endorsed the use of cloth over the mouth — indeed, the report goes so far as to suggest that, properly understood, “the water dousing technique” does not involve using a cloth, and “pouring water on the face was not allowed.”
Why, then, doesn’t what happened to Sharif count as waterboarding? Perhaps because Sharif was not pressed down onto a board? One previously top-secret memo argues:
If one is held down on his back, on the table or on the floor, with water poured in his face I think it goes beyond dousing and the effect, to the recipient, could be indistinguishable from the water board.
“Beyond dousing.” “Indistinguishable from the water board.” The memo adds that this “is just too close to the water board, and if it is continued may lead to problems for us.” The memo recommends water dousing “in a standing position only.”
If this is the distinction that makes the treatment of Sharif “water dousing” rather than “waterboarding” — it’s unclear what position he was in — that would make his “dousing” less severe than waterboarding. But the investigation into Sharif’s treatment concludes, “if water dousing was applied as described it could be a violation of Title 18.” Why would this be the case unless waterboarding were, indeed, torture?
Waterboarding’s contaminating effect on the entire program is difficult to overstate. In the final days of the Bush years, Dick Cheneyonce argued by analogy, in an interview on Fox News, that because the president could unleash nuclear war, he was empowered to unleash any lesser violence, any action within the outer limit of nuclear war. This was the “bomb power” justification for the imperial presidency.
In the CIA interrogation program, waterboarding offered a similar license. If the agency authorized waterboarding as an approved EIT, whatever seems less vicious is permissible as well. One debriefer rationalized using a handgun and a power drill during his interrogation, saying that he believed the props “were less fear provoking than EITs, in particular the waterboard.” He explained that he thought using them “for psychological effect” fell below “the EIT threshold.”
This is waterboard power. Military strategists recognized that the United States used the atomic bomb every day of the Cold War simply by enjoying nuclear strike capability. Likewise, waterboarding’s effect during the global “war on terror” cannot be calculated simply by counting the number of people waterboarded, nor how many times they endured it. The fact of waterboarding’s authorization weighed on every day of the interrogation program’s existence.
Finally, these documents reveal that any accounting the CIA has given of the program should be understood as provisional. More effectively than any written words likely could, the acres of blank white redaction boxes that sprawl across the documents make evident the immensity of the underground complex of deep-state black sites tunneled through the world, hidden from view.
Consider a section of the previously classified 2006 internal audit titled, “CIA-controlled Detention Facilities That Were in Use at the Time of the Audit.” Fourteen pages of white emptiness follow. How many secret prisons did the CIA run?
Another section follows, “Detention Facilities That Were Not in Use or Were Under Construction at the Time of the Audit.” Five white pages. Exactly how many people did the CIA detain? How many more were the agency planning on rendering, that it needed five pages to list compounds either not in use or under construction — when already the agency was running fourteen pages worth of active prisons?
The national security state’s scale remains unknown, but reading these documents outlines a subterranean leviathan. We still lack the political language to even describe it in its entirety, let alone hold it (or anyone) accountable.
This shadow state does not exactly engage in lawless or criminal behavior; such concepts fail in any effective way to describe or check its actions. To read these fifty formerly top-secret and still heavily redacted documents is to reach down into the depths and grope in the dark, occasionally feeling the texture and shape of some salient facet jutting out from the void and occasionally feeling the leviathan’s bite.
Not only is the national security state vast, arcane, and largely ungoverned, it is also — and predictably — vicious. Even a benign covert apparatus of this magnitude should concern any free people professing self-government. But the deep state displays all the traits of an arbitrary despot, most of all its facility for torturing its subjects in chambers hidden far away from the public eye.
The Political Cesspool is one radio program that lives up—or rather, down—to its name. Hosted by neo-Confederate white nationalist James Edwards, the show is constantly racist, anti-Semitic, and preaches a poisonous mixture of returning America to a “founding stock” of white Europeans while encouraging secession and destruction of the central government.
Not surprisingly, the show is also nationalist, isolationist, and fixed on the idea of eliminating any immigration but that of white Europeans. Until recently, even the most ardent conservatives didn’t want to be associated with Edwards. But with the party of Trump, that’s all changed.
Edwards boasted in February that he had “attended a Donald Trump rally in Memphis on Saturday night as a fully credentialed member of the media and enjoyed the unique experience of being able to air a live broadcast of The Political Cesspool Radio Program from inside the press pen while the event was in full swing.”
At that rally, Edwards interviewed several Trump surrogates, including Donald Trump Jr.
Edwards then set up camp at the RNC, making no attempt to disguise the nature or focus of his program.
Edwards During RNC Show: “We’re Unequivocally Pro-White. This Is A Show That Advances The Interests Of European-Americans.”
In his broadcast, Edwards bragged that The Political Cesspool was “going mainstream,” not because it was pulling back from its neo-Nazi, conspiracy theory-laden views—but because the Republican Party was moving to meet it.
Edwards: “Trump Will Be The First Republican Nominee That I Have Ever Voted For.”
During the convention, Edwards landed interviews with Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole, Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson, and Florida Congressman Ted Yoho. With Yoho defending Confederate flag-waving Iowa Congressman Steve King’s racist remarks about “sub-groups.”
[Edwards] also predicted that the “ludicrous, malicious, disgusting maggots, the sniveling little worms” in the media will “come down” on him for his interviews with members of Congress.
Quite a compliment, coming from the likes of James Edwards.
Acres of Skin—Human experiments at Holmesburg Prison, A widely reviewed Book and a true story of abuse and exploitation in the name of medical science, is written by Allen M. Hornblum. It was published in 1998 by Rutledge New York and London. The title signifies the thousands of prison inmates (vulnerable trial subjects) whose skin was the playground for Dr. Kligman (Dr. Albert Kligman, Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. When Dr. Kligman entered the aging prison, he was astonished to see hundreds of inmates walking aimlessly before him and in a flash of second he greedily realized the potentials it held for Experimental Research on the ‘Imprisoned Subjects’. In 1996 Interview with Press, Dr. Kligman imagined himself to be a “farmer seeing a fertile field for the first time”. Allen Hornblum’s Book is an agitating and moving response to the torturous experiments he initiated in Holmes burg Prison, Philadelphia during 1951 to 1974. These abuses “terminated with scandal surrounding the Tuskegee syphilis Experiments”.
The Book is a breakthrough storey narrated by a man named, Allen M. Hornbun, who initially engaged himself to conduct Adult Literacy Program for Holmesburg Prison Inmates in 1971 and for a prolonged period of two decades. In the course of it he developed close friendship with prisoners. During his stay as Literary instructor he keenly observed the deadly abuses inflicted on Prison Inmates The horrors of the stories these Prisoners told him pierced through his mind, heart and whole of his being. After resigning from Philadelphia Sherif’s office in 1994 he decided to undertake his passionate assignment.
Scope & Coverage of the Book- Conspiracy of Silence
The title signifies the thousands of prison inmates (vulnerable trial subjects) whose skin was the playground for Dr. Kligman and Associates to carry out the torturous experiments. A quote by Leo Tolstoy aptly fits the scene, “I sit on a man’s back, chocking him and making him carry me. And yet assure myself and others, that I am very sorry for him and wish to lighten his burden by all possible means. Except, by getting off his back.” The book is divided in to three parts; Part one introduces the readers to the Subjects, the Doctors and the Experiments. Part Two describes the Twentieth-century American Penal Experiments, whereas Part Three sheds light on the Cruel and Inhuman Experiments. The Fourth & the last part describes the End of the Experimentation at Holmesburg. Part Three is the central chapter that details and describes the inhuman actions meted out to the trial subjects. The Book spans 297 pages, with the last 40 pages dedicated to Acknowledgements, Notes, Bibliography and Index. The book begins with a short note on the Nuremberg Code, Introduction and a Note on sources. Hornblum critique of Dr. Kligman is not limited to considering him as stooge or representing the Greed of the prominent manufacturers testing their products of all kinds. But he has selected dermatology experiments for facial creams, hair lotions, skin moisturizers, foot powders, deodorants, detergents, anti-rash treatments as most abusive expressions of Capitalist greed rooted in American Society..
Holmes burg Prison & Nuremburg Trials
The story centers around Holmesburg Prison—the largest of Philadelphia’s county jails—which became the epicenter of troubling research. It was for many years the professional base for the career of the story’s central character, Dr. Albert M. Kligman, architect of the prison’s experimental research program. Acres of Skin is an attempt by the author to show how American prisoners were exploited in the name of medical science just as senile hospital patients, retarded orphans and other institutionalized populations were exploited in postwar America. The author hopes that this story will finally give voice to a segment of society that volunteered their minds and bodies so that physicians could acquire scientific advancement, fame and fortune; volunteers who were forgotten and tossed aside—in a utilitarian age in which ambition and profit became the ultimate good and the pursuit of scientific knowledge took precedence over the rights of individual human beings.
Hornblum being closely associated with the prison and prisoners has firmly established his Target after through research findings – the prominent manufacturing Giants – particularly those in Dermatology, who were greedy to find out ‘low cost’ Research Facility as extention of Manufacturing Arm. The most dramatic and well-known chapter in the history of research with human participants opened on December 9, 1946, when an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among the charges were that German Physicians conducted medical experiments on thousands of concentration camp prisoners without their consent. Most of the participants of these experiments died or were permanently crippled as a result. Dr. Robert Rose, department head for Tropical Medicine of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany was convicted on August 20, 1947 for a broad range of ghastly and hideous malaria, mustard gas, bone transplantation, sea water, sterilization and incendiary bomb experiments in concentration camps. However, Dr. Rose was aware of the American medical history and he escaped the hangman’s noose and was given a life sentence. The Nazi doctor stated that America’s experiments with prisoners occurred in the Phillipines, then an American territory in the early years of the 20th century. Another German doctor at Nuremberg, Dr. George August Wetz who was on trial for his high altitude and freezing experiments at Dachau, mentioned in his defense the experiments of Dr. Joseph Goldberger, a U.S public health official involved in experiments involving pellagra. There were close to 2000 deaths in 2 years in the state of Mississipi. As a direct result of the trial, the Nuremberg Code was established in 1948, stating that ‘The voluntary consent of the human participant is absolutely essential,’ making it clear that participants should give consent and that the benefits of research must outweigh the risks. A generation after American judges sentenced Gerhard Rose and his Nazi colleagues in the Palace of Justice, the Nuremberg Code took up residence in America.
Marginalization of ‘Code’ and Breathing Walls
The research for this book began in 1993 and involved a thorough search of government documentation on the Holmesburg medical research program. The author has interviewed hundreds of prisoners, doctors and others who had come in contact with the experiments. Other individuals and resources also contributed mightily to this project. The clinical trials were going on at the prison many years before 1960. Many research experiments were underway at the House of Correction and still more at Holmesburg Prison, where three quarters of the inmate population was involved. All this in spite of the Nuremberg code crafted by American jurists in August 1947 after the Doctors’ trail in Nuremberg, Germany. The code intended to satisfy moral, ethical and legal concepts in the conduct of research and strove to safeguard the health and rights of individuals who chose freely to participate in human research. Rather than embracing the Nuremberg code, the opposite occurred. Society’s marginal people and Black- Negro population were the grist for the medical–pharmaceutical mill and prison inmates in particular became the raw material for profit making and academic advancement. In the eyes of medical practitioners, the well-being of research subjects was not as important as scientific advancement. The Hippocratic ideal of primum non nocere (first of all, to do no harm) seemed to be too restrictive, leading to marginalization of the code and creation of a loophole. Issues such as ‘conflicting obligations,’ ‘factual ignorance,’ ‘culturally induced moral ignorance in hobbling judgments of wrongdoing and blameworthiness inform and impel the writing of this book. The book is an attempt of show how American prisoners were exploited in the name of medical science just as senile hospital patients, retarded orphans and other institutionalized populations were exploited in postwar America. Author has titled the subject as “The walls seemed to be breathing”
Fertile land of SKIN – Gift to Pharmaceutical Giants!
The story centers on Holmesburg Prison, which became the epicenter of troubling research. It was the professional base for Dr. Klingmon, who saw ‘Acres of Skin’ when he first visited the prison. Almost all the inmates agree that those who did succumb to the doctors’ overtures had very little idea, if any of what ingredient, solution, chemical or drug they were actually testing. Informed consent was nowhere in the picture. The Holmesburg Prison was designed such as not a window could be seen. It gave an impression that light too was denied to the unfortunate who spent years of seclusion inside. Dr. Kligman, Ph.D and M.D, University of Pennsylvania began his dermatology research before 1951, when he visited the prison. He selfishly envisioned the skin of the prison inmates to be used for his dermatology trials. He performed trials on anti-obesity drugs, viral infections and bacterial infections. Both white and Negro subjects were made guinea pigs for the studies; however the ratio of the Negro to White patients was highly skewed. There were all kinds of tests—foot powder tests, eye drop tests, face creams, underarm deodorant, toothpaste, liquid diets and more.
The author has included a photograph of an aerial view of Holmesburg prison and the laboratory where the experiments were conducted. The book illustrates the cruelty with the help of photographs of patch tests, malaria tests, vaccine tests. Some of the participants of the experiments, Al Zabala, Withers Ponton, William McCafferty, Roy Williams have posed for pictures and described the ordeal. Kligman’s assistant however adds that Kligman was not a good researcher in true sense. He stopped the experiments ahead of schedule and assumed an outcome that had not been proved. Prisoners were used because they were cheap and nobody gave a damn what happened to them. Pharmaceutical companies sponsored trials of anti-anxiety medicines and tranquilizers and sleeping pills on the prisoners from 1959 to 1965. Klingman’s wife at the time, Dr. Beatrice Troyan, who was a gynaecologist, carried out trials on healthy adult female inmates. Their experiments and data were questioned by the FDA, the individual case reports and data were not maintained in Dr. Klingman’s experiments. Despite this, numerous radioactive isotopes and unprecedented dioxin testing were tested by mid 1960s. The FDA charged Dr. Kligmanin 1966 as the experiments did not enroll the reported number of subjects, studies ended before the estimated time frame, severe adverse drug reactions were not reported, blood samples were drawn from inmates who were not in the prison hospital when the samples were taken, no records for the study were maintained. FDA struck Dr. Kligman’s name from its approved list of researchers who were entitled to test new investigational drugs on human subjects. However, his privileges to investigate new drugs were restored in less than a month by the FDA.
Cowries for Human Breath!
Nevertheless, the Holmesburg medical experimentation program was shut in 1974 and the prison was no longer viable as clinical test on human experimentation and past practices were severely criticized. In 1967, a detailed article about the experiments was published in The Prison Journal by Dr. Heller. It addressed issues such as informed consent, free choice and free will, the element of risk, financial rewards and several other key aspects of the increasingly controversial practice.
Some of the experiments that were underway in the prison included:
A number of tranquilizers, analgesics and antibiotics that were being tested for dosage and toxicity for various pharma companies.
A dental study on 100 inmates testing toothpaste and mouthwashes for toxicity sponsored by Johnson and Johnson. Inmates received $ 20 – $ 25 extra for any blood tests.
A wound healing study for Johnson and Johnson in which absorbency and wound adhesion properties of various dressings were examined. Inmates were paid $ 5 per wound.
An antiseptic lotion study for Johnson and Johnson that utilized 70 inmates
An antiperspirant preparation for Helena Rubenstein that paid 20 inmates at the House of Correction $ 2 per day.
A napkin absorbency study for DuPont that paid 150 female prisoners 50 cents for each used napkin.
Numerous skin sensitization studies including sodium lauryl sulfate solution that left inmates with broken skin, swelling and pustules. Inmates received $ 13 for 28 days.
A conspiracy of silence
For 2 decades — from the early 1950s to the early 1970s, Philadelphia’s Holmesburg Prison played host to one of the largest and most varied medical experimentation centres in the country. Only the inmates and the doctors who experimented on them knew just exactly what took place but, the latter choose not to discuss their medical exploits, the prisoners are not asked. This sad but widespread 20th century phenomenon has much to teach us about our ethical standards and our capacity for human participation.
A question is likely to be asked whether it was legitimate to defy the Disciplinary Norms of the organizational and legal discipline ? Nuremburg trials in which NAZI Doctors performed the horrendous experiments on the prisoners of concentration camps, did provide him the yardsticks to weigh the ethical, moral, psychological and scientific aspects and he decided to break the Silence.
It is argued by few critiques of Hornblum that the comparison is unjustified since NAZI experiments ended only in deaths. They were not paid, the prisoners did not have the right to refuse to the terminal experiments and were not the beneficiaries of the experiments! Secondly vaccination trials were underway in many Prisons and Jails.
However if one realizes that the individuals are confined and have an idea of cost of refusal may result into enhancement of punishment. The lurking compulsive fear amounts only to the dangerous llusion of free will of participants. More importantly the experiments were conducted at the behest of Capitalists- Pharma Giants having hold on the institutions of Justice and may be on the Prison Authorities! Hence his bold exercise to break the silence is stupendous in the Books of Medical History! .
Genesis of Torturous Abuses- For Lowest Cost Pharmaceutical Research
Such experimentation had begun in America in the early years of 20th century. In 1906, Dr. Richard P Strong, an American, performed a series of experiments with the cholera virus upon inmates of Manila prison. The experiments resulted in 13 deaths. In another incident, the Louisiana State Board of Health put Negro prisoners on a steady diet of molasses for 5 weeks to test the effect of sulphuric acid which is used in making molasses. In California, hundreds of prisoners had taken part in bizarre testicular transplants between 1919 and 1922. In 1934, 2 Colorado prisoners were selected to participate in unprecedented tuberculosis drug trials in Denver’s National Jewish Hospital. In 1942, the U.S Army carried experiments of testing beef blood on Massachusetts prison inmates. The best known example of human experimentation in a state prison was in 1944. More than 400 inmates of Statesville had volunteered as experimental subjects for malaria trial. The inmates had to contend with periodic mosquito bites, fever, nausea, vomiting and occasional relapses.
Dr. Andrew C Ivy of the medical school of University of Illinois had conceded in the Nurember’s testimony, ‘prisoners made good subjects because they had nothing else to do except render servive.’ With the arrival of the 1950s and the onset of the Korean War, the federal prison system embarked fully on human experimentation and numerous penal facilities played host to major research initiatives. In 1956 to 1957, 133 inmates at the federal Ohio facility had participated in a study of a low cost oral Polio vaccine.
The number of experiments, test subjects and prisoners involved in medical research grew steadily and the tests were as diverse as the prison systems. Research on cancer which had become the deadliest disease confronting Americans, was carried out on Ohio prison inmates. They volunteered to receive needle injections in the form of live cancer cells. One of the most egregious examples of penal medical abuse is the case of Austin R Stough, an Oklahoma physician who sold blood plasma extracted from prisoners and using the prisoners as subjects for repeated, wide scale drug testing. This led to increasing incidence of viral hepatitis. Several deaths occurred every month. One of the inmates described this as ‘They are dropping like flies out here.’
Genocide of overwhelming Blacks- dropping like flies out here
By 1973, the pressure on state and federal penal systems that performed medical research on prisoners had reached critical mass. Critics were growing rapidly in number and their criticism were increasingly hostile. Jessica Mitford devoted a revealing chapter entitled, ‘Cheaper than Chimpanzees’ to prison experimentation, placing particular emphasis on America’s departure from the spirit of Nuremberg in its use of prisoners as research subjects.
What was once a lucrative growth industry in medicine had become a victim of its own excesses and changes in community ethics.
An article appeared in the April 1981 issue of Correction magazine on the Holmesburg prison experiments. It spoke about a dangerous chemical named dioxin and described the story of one of the inmates, Al Zabala. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a flood of correspondence from concerned inmates and former prisoners ever since the story had been published. Mr. Verald Keith Rowe, director of toxicological affairs and health and environmental research contacted Dr. Kligman and began the first scientifically monitored tests of dioxin in humans. The experiment started in late 1965 and was completed in early 1966. However, African–American prisoners were represented in disproportionate numbers. The Philadelphia Tribune devoted several news articles to the genocide as the test population was over-whelmingly black and non-white.
In January 1974, the Philadelphia prison system’s Board of Trustees decided to abolish the program in the prison. Solomon McBride, longtime administrator of the program found the termination of the once thriving unit hard to accept. But there were other illegal activities going on in the prison. Several assaults in the Philadelphia Prison system were an epidemic. To save money, operators of the projects used inmates as laboratory assistants.
The disproportionate wealth and power in the hands of a few inmates led to favouritism, bribery and jealousy among the guards. Also, African–American inmates were particularly fearful of genocide and suspected that black prisoners were recruited for the more dangerous experiments.
The first significant legal problem regarding human research at Holmesburg arose when 9 Black male subjects volunteered to test the safety and tolerance of a new medication. Jerome Roach of these 9 subjects developed various symptoms of physical illness 4 days after taking pills different from those described to him. His condition grew serious enough for him to be transferred to the hospital where he remained for several weeks. He had permanent liver damage. He sued Dr. Kligman, Ivy Research laboratories, the prison system and the city for $ 400,000 for violation of his civil rights.
Subversion of Philosophy of Science and turn to Barbaric Sadism
Miamonides, a 12th century philosopher, who followed the footsteps of Aristotle, as Physician had advised his colleagues to treat patients not merely as means to the acquisition of knowledge, but as valuable in themselves. 800 years later, another physician, Dr. Kligman advised his colleagues and taught his students that ‘rules don’t apply to geniuses. An uninformed and desperate group of prisoners met an unrestrained and ambitious doctor and largest, nontherapeutic, human research factories. Even more remarkable is how such a large and intricate operation in a public facility went so long unnoticed and unchallenged. Several reasons for this lapse in social and political sensitivity suggest themselves, beginning with this nation’s failure to take seriously the Nuremberg code. According to the American medical community, this code of medical ethics was designed for Nazi physicians, ‘written for the specific purpose of preventing brutal excesses from being committed or executed in the name of science. It was argued that the prison research in America was ideal and all subjects had volunteered in the absence of coercion in any form. The physicians interviewed for this book report that Nazi medicine was a horrible but distant medical aberration and the moral superiority of American research was the received norm which Nazi doctors were judged. American Medical Association adopted its own ‘Rules of Human Experimentation.’ The doctors who entered Holmesburg Prison a few short years after Nuremberg were conditioned to see the mass of idle humanity before them as a ‘fertile field’ of investigating opportunity. Dr. Kligman framed it as prisoners had become a new experimental resource, they had become ‘acres of skin.’
The healing/harming paradox that enveloped Kligman and his medical research program left its mark literally and professionally on all its participants. As Kligman’s research program, which was established to investigate diseases and to train residents in dermatology grew, it is supposed to have strayed from its mission. Couple of Reviewers have identified the value of the Book as locating the roots of the Evil in the reduction of Science to a “pragmatic and Utilitarian course” In fact In time, no protocol was too risky, no relationship too troubling, no code immune too violating. Kligman’s blatant medical abuses allow the Holmesburg experiments to be compared to the barbarity and sadism of the Auschwitz and Dachau. In fact the Author holds far more radical view that the intended experiments were subversive from the beginning till end. Uneducated and isolated, desperately short of money, the inmates were an easy target of medical mercenaries looking for test subjects. Today, the physical and phychologial scars from their days as only disdain for the eminent men of medicine who offered them ‘money for a piece of their skin.’ Many former test subjects and their families now regard the medical profession as torturers rather than healers.
Lessons – Unparallel Sacrifices by Helpless Prisoners.
The book seems to be an attempt by the author to summarize the inhuman treatment towards the prisoners and to make the readers aware of their fundamental rights. We could summarize the sufferings of the test subjects by knowing their current statuses. An inmate of the dioxin test, Al Zabala, later realized that he was exposed to a potential carcinogen then. Roy Williams lost all his hair after participating in a shampoo trial. Johnnie Williams has many scars and skin discolouration after the tests. The most sensitive and helpless reaction was of an inmate named Withers Ponton who endured dozens of experiments during his 3 years at the prison. In need of money he went to the H block each morning and asked, “Do you need me today?” This shows the helplessnessof the subjects and the forced volunteering carried out in the prison. It is because of the innumerable sacrifices made and pain undergone by the inmates that we use so many drugs and formulations as treatment today.
The book aptly describes the inhuman medical malpractices going on in America since early 20th century. It opens our eyes to the world of unimaginable experiments carried out by the ‘messiahs’ whom we call doctors.
The Nuremberg Code (1947) and later the Declaration of Helsinki (1964) are important in the history of research ethics. They deal with the fundamental principles of respect for the individual, their right to make informed decisions regarding participation in research. The Declaration of Helsinki was replaced by Good Clinical Practices from October 2008.
Acres of Skin makes us aware of our fundamental right of willing consent as potential test subjects and at the same time emphasizes how the law should be in favour of the common man, rather than pharmaceutical giants who sponsor the clinical trials and the medical industry who is part of such wrongdoings.
Case Studies of Torture through Toxic Radiation
Below are a few examples of the clinical trials
Al Zabala, a 27 year old American prisoner was a guinea pig for the testing of chemical agents in Holmesburg Prison. He believes he was given an injection of a substance 10 times stronger than LSD. He was real subdued and quiet for a month after the test. He had problems swallowing food and a constantly dry throat. For a few years his body would periodically break out in ‘strawberry reashes.’ He began to wonder if the tests had altered the biochemistry and chromosomes of his body after he read newspaper articles describing the extent of Holmesburg medical studies.
William Robb at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh had participated in 3 different types of tests, 2 of which were nicknamed ‘The Patch Tests’ by inmates. These were new experimental products not yet released in general public. The inmate was exposed to a sunlamp once a day for 30 days. After about 5 days of exposure, some section of the skin were burnt a deep brown and the skin started to peel, itch and blister.
In August 1938, 4 prisoners were cooked to death in a simulated oven over a protest. The prison was called the ‘torture chamber.’
In the early 1960s, radioactive iron and phosphorus were used on inmates of Colorado State Penitentiary to study characteristics of red blood cells during periods of rapid red cell formation and iron deficiency. Radiation experiments in Oregon and Washington form 1963 to 1973 were designed to measure the effects of radiation on male reproductive system. 5 or more testicular biopsies were carried out on each subject and they were vasectomized at the end of the program. Subjects endured skin burns, pain from biopsies, testicular inflammation and bleeding.
Lompoc (California) and Stafford (Arizona) were holding weightlessness experiments, simulated by extended bed rest for NASA at the U.S Public Health Service Hospital in San Francisco. They were conducted between 1969 to 1975 and more than 50 individuals had taken part. They were forced to wear compression suits and endure endless blood and calcium tests, numerous radioactive isotope injections.
Worse than NAZIS?
Intelligence Review (EIR) Volume 26, Number 31, August 6, 1999 – Marianna Wertz Author quotes Hornblum that he believes what was done to the men in Holmesburg Prison was actually worse than what the Nazis did to slave laborers in their concentration camps. “Frankly, I think it pales in comparison to what the men went through here. They were really used as guinea pigs. They were brought out of a cage, they were dosed up with all sorts of things, that were either placed on them, or that they were made to swallow or injected with. They rarely or ever knew what it was, or what the ramifications would be. So, I think it’s actually worse than the use of slave laborers.” Americans drafted the Nuremberg Code, and Americans should make sure that it is implemented here, and that those who suffered from its violation are given justice. We say that we would not stand for less from others—what about America itself?
These are the burning remarks and eye opening comments. Crying voices of those who fell victims to NAZI gruesome experiments have continuously surfaced in the Book like background music of a sad Piano. The reciprocal relationship of Holmesburg prison and NAZI experiments and their semblance has been brought out to create empathy of readers. However this moving story goes beyond it as scathing criticism of Bourgeoisie – capitalist system or capital in General, irrespective of Nations which treats Prisons as extended ‘cost reducing’ Research Facility. The Book written way back in 1998 articulates pains of those who have suffered for our Benefits and exposes the ruthless face of modern capitalism!
Acres of Skin—Human Experiments at
Holmesburg Prison: A True Story of Abuse and Exploitation in the Name of Medical Science
by Allen M. Hornblum
New York: Routledge, 1998
297 pages, paperbound, $16
Anil Pundlik Gokhale is an Engineer by profession and have been a reader and student of Marxist and Freudian literature for last four decades.He has been a professional translator of medical and other literature from English to Marathi. As a non regular writer on political literature he has always been attempting to intigrate Psychology and Marxism.He has recently published books ‘Condensation And Condescension In Dreams And History: Essay – From Sigmund Freud To E P Thompson’ by Author House London. Psychoanalysis & A- Historical Story of GENGHIS KHAN, Author House- London
Interview with David Swanson, author, activist and journalist, conducted by Scott Harris
After seven years, an independent investigation into the events surrounding the decision taken by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to join the U.S. in launching the disastrous 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq has finally completed its work. The inquiry, named for Sir John Chilcot, the retired civil servant who was appointed by Tony Blair’s successor, Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in 2009 to look into how the decision to enter the war was made, as well as the military conflict itself and its aftermath.
These were among the findings of the report: The U.K. chose to join the invasion before peaceful options had been exhausted, Prime Minister Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and promised George Bush that he would be with him in the war. Other conclusions reached in the report included: Britain’s intelligence agencies produced ‘flawed information’, the U.K. military was ill-equipped for the task and the government did not try hard enough to keep a tally of Iraqi civilian casualties.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with David Swanson, author, activist and journalist who helped combat the U.S. corporate media blackout on the so-called, British “Downing Street memo,” that spelled out how the intelligence and facts justifying the Iraq war were to be fixed around the policy. Here, Swanson summarizes the conclusions reached in the Chilcot report, and considers the fact that the U.S. has had no similar inquiry to hold members of the George W. Bush administration accountable for their decision to launch the Iraq war under false pretenses, and the subsequent commission of war crimes, including subjecting U.S.-held detainees to torture.
Internal CIA report reveals new details of arrest of German citizen Khaleed al Masri
Agents realized early that there was no reason to have detained Masri, report says
BERLIN — By January of 2004, when German citizen Khaleed al Masri arrived at the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prison in Afghanistan, agency officials were pretty sure he wasn’t a terrorist. They also knew he didn’t know any terrorists, or much about anything in the world of international terror.
In short, they suspected they’d nabbed the wrong man.
Still, the agency continued to imprison and interrogate him, according to a recently released internal CIA report on Masri’s arrest. The report claims that Masri suffered no physical abuse during his wrongful imprisonment, though it acknowledges that for months he was kept in a “small cell with some clothing, bedding and a bucket for his waste.” Masri says he was tortured, specifically that a medical examination against his will constituted sodomy.
The embarrassing, and horrifying, case of Masri is hardly new. It has been known for a decade as a colossal example of CIA error in the agency’s pursuit of terrorists during the administration of President George W. Bush.
But the recently released internal report makes it clear that the CIA’s failures in the Masri case were even more outrageous than previous accounts have suggested.
The report is heavily redacted – whole pages are blank – and the names of those involved have been removed. But enough is there to give a good understanding of what happened and what went wrong.
WHEN YOU START A PROGRAM SHROUDED IN SECRECY THAT PUSHES THE LINE ON HUMAN RIGHTS, NOBODY SHOULD BE SURPRISED THAT WE SEE THIS RESULT. — Jamil Dakwar, Khaleed al Masri’s ACLU attorney
Adding to the sense of injustice: Even though the agency realized early on that Masri was the wrong man, it couldn’t figure out how to release him without having to acknowledge its mistake. The agency eventually dumped him unceremoniously in Albania and essentially pretended his arrest and detention had never happened.
The release of the report, which is 90 pages long and was written in July 2007, came in June after a Freedom of Information Act suit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Masri in his decade-long attempt to get an official apology from the United States.
Officials most responsible were promoted
Assembled by the CIA’s inspector general, the report provides the clearest official view to date into the dark, murky world of the Bush administration’s anti-terror rendition program. Beyond snatching an innocent man and holding him for five months, the report highlights a shocking lack of professionalism at America’s top spy agency. The Hollywood cliché of deeply devoted patriots doing their best to protect the United States appears, in this case, to have been replaced by a classic bureaucratic mess and individuals most intent on protecting their own careers.
The report notes that Masri was “questioned in English, which he spoke only poorly.”
None of the Americans involved in Masri’s detention has been held to account, notes Masri’s attorney, Jamil Dakwar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program. Indeed, the two men most responsible for the errors were promoted. Meanwhile, Dakwar said, Masri is haunted to this day by the psychological torture inflicted by his detention in the CIA’s secret Afghan holding center and by the stigma of having been snatched in a CIA anti-terror investigation.
The tale has important lessons for the country, where one of the two leading presidential candidates, Donald Trump, has promised to reinstate the use of torture against terrorism suspects and the Obama administration has declined to punish anyone for the excesses of the Bush-era rendition program.
“When you start a program shrouded in secrecy that pushes the line on human rights, nobody should be surprised that we see this result,” Dakwar said. He added that the presidential authority given for the program under which Masri was nabbed required the CIA “to satisfy a very low bar of proof. In this case, they admit they knew at the time that they didn’t reach even that bar.”
Detention due to ‘a series of breakdowns’
In the case of Masri, the inspector general’s report is sweeping in its condemnation of the failures that took place throughout the agency’s hierarchy, blaming the mishandling of his arrest and detention on “a series of breakdowns in tradecraft, process, management and oversight.”
The report lists the failures: “The lack of rigor in justifying action against an individual suspected of terrorist connections; the lack of understanding of the legal requirements of detention and rendition; the lack of guidance provided to officers making critical operations decisions with significant international implications; and the lack of management oversight.”
It offered a particularly harsh judgment of Alec Station, the CIA unit charged with tracking down Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.
“ALEC Station exaggerated the nature of the data it possessed linking al Masri to terrorism. After the decision had been made to repatriate al Masri, implementation was marked by delay and bureaucratic infighting,” the report says.
The report notes that all agency attorneys interviewed agreed that Masri did not meet the legal standard for rendition and detention, which required that a suspect be deemed a threat. In Masri’s case, it was thought only that he “knows key information that could assist in the capture of other al Qaida operatives.”
Despite the fact that the CIA was unable to find any evidence tying Masri to an al Qaida operative in Sudan, which had been the initial suspicion, two agents “justified their commitment to his continued detention, despite the diminishing rationale, by insisting that they knew he was ‘bad.’ ”
NONE OF THE AMERICANS INVOLVED IN MASRI’S DETENTION HAS BEEN HELD TO ACCOUNT.
In his response to the report at the time, included in the released document, CIA acting General Counsel John Rizzo offered a weak defense of the agency’s actions, saying it was possible officials “simply could have made – during a period of intense, frenetic activity in CTC – a mistake.” CTC is the agency’s Counterterrorism Center, which coordinates the CIA’s anti-terrorism activities.
Passport went unexamined for months
The inspector general’s recitation of CIA errors begins with the initial decision to hold Masri without attempting to verify the premise on which he was detained: the suspicion by Macedonian security agents that he was an al Qaida operative traveling on a false German passport.
But no one at the CIA bothered to look at his passport until three months into his detention, when an officer who’d interviewed Masri found the passport and more of his personal effects in an unopened pouch on the desk of another officer.
The official CIA chronology of the detention says the passport was then sent to agency experts, who “promptly determined that al Masri’s German passport was genuine.” A short time later, “CIA determined it had no basis to justify the continued detention of al Masri.”
2 Number of months Masri was held after the CIA determined his German passport was valid.
Yet Masri’s detention continued for two more months, and it was almost that long before CIA officers told Masri they planned to release him.
Even before the agency learned that Masri’s passport was genuine, according to the report, a CIA officer whose name and title have been redacted from the report had concluded there was a “lack of compelling intelligence to warrant al Masri’s continued detention as a terrorist.” The officer “requested ALEC Station/CTC Headquarters concurrence to release al Masri.”
Instead, the two units suggested “additional areas of questioning” because they “could not resolve the issue of his terrorist affiliation.”
The report notes at one point that the CIA considered transferring Masri to the U.S. military as a “force protection threat” but decided against it because without confirmation that he was an al Qaida member, the U.S. military was likely to release him “within hours.”
Indeed, throughout the rest of March and into April, while Masri languished: “Agency components continued to disagree about the exit strategy.” In other words, they were worried about how to release him.Top officials briefed on Masri
It was not a topic left only to underlings.
In May, CIA officials including then-Director George Tenet met to discuss Masri. Later that month, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was briefed, and said Masri “should be repatriated quickly.”
A final cable notes they “did not find any information linking him or his customers with known terrorist individuals or organizations.” It isn’t clear what the term “customers” is referring to, though Masri had worked as a grocer and a mechanic.
Agents in the field were told to tell Masri he was to be released “to help mitigate his frustration and anger.” They dropped him off in Albania and told him to make his way back to Germany. Dakwar notes that that is the last official communication Masri has had with the United States.
Masri received $80,000 from Macedonia for his mistreatment by its security personnel, a payment ordered by the European Court of Human Rights. He’s seeking an apology from the United States before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
“This is the very least President Obama can do . . . before leaving office,” Dakwar wrote recently on the ACLU’s website.
Author’s note: The book in another form, with many of the same chapters, was privately marketed last year as an ebook at this website under the title “Terror on the Right.” TrineDay Books, publisher of the paperback version, has renamed the book, released it this month, and it is now available from a number of online distributors (under a provisional subtitle, “The Stench of Fascism,” which has been revised. The book will soon turn up as a paperback entitled, “Jackals: The Stench of American Fascism,” with several new chapters written for the TrineDay edition, including the “prelude”). – AC
Prelude: Nixon’s Jackals – The Birth of a Secret Domestic CIA Death Squad Commandeered by the White House
On December 22, 1974, the New York Times published a report by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh: “Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported in U.S. Against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years.” Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met with President Gerald Ford to discuss the muck dripping from Hersh’s rake. Kissinger informed the chief executive that the story was “just the tip of the iceberg.” Should other operations be exposed, he croaked, “blood will flow.”
Perception management tactics were employed. The country’s leading newspapers and magazines basted Hersh on a spit of slander. The Washington Post and Newsweek went so far as to impugn his sanity and shred his bizarre “conspiracy theories” out of hand. Time magazine argued that the “sensitive and dedicated public servants” of the CIA, lashed to their constitutional mast, would never wade into the seditionist waters detailed in the article.
Hersh revealed that the CIA had conducted a massive spying and covert operations program on domestic soil under the code-name MHCHAOS. The story prompted the Church and Pike hearings of 1975, confirming his allegations.
Kissinger was correct: the spying scandal was the tip of the iceberg. But after the Congressional probes of the 1970s, Operation CHAOS would be memorialized in history books as a domestic spying scandal. The mysterious “other operations” that Kissinger mentioned remained classified. CIA Director Richard Helms was convicted for lying to Congress, the Agency was deeply embarrassed, but Kissinger remained a revered political Madonna in the nation’s media.
Blood did not flow, after all – or did it?
Senator Frank Church, reportedly constrained by limitations beyond his control, narrowed the scope of his investigation to surveillance and backed off from more serious allegations. Domestic murder plots, for instance. The “sensitive and dedicated public servants” of the Agency had indeed been involved in political assassinations, according to Timothy S. Hardy at the Center for the Study of Intelligence in a secret report dated July 2, 1996, since declassified: “Although the Commission had become aware of the assassination stories early in its work, it had not been pushed to explore this area until it was well along in probing the domestic activities that had originally led to its formation.”
Regardless of political motives behind the exclusion of domestic political murder in the Church Committee’s final report – “and such motivations did exist,” Hardy mused vaguely – the problem was that by June 1975, “the scheduled deadline, already extended several months,” the Church Committee was “still far from completing this aspect of its inquiries.” Congressional Pandoras of the ‘70s never opened the box marked “MURDER.” No time for that. Besides, “whatever credibility the Rockefeller Commission could muster would have been sapped by a premature publication of preliminary findings in this highly sensitive area.”
MHCHAOS was supposedly terminated by William Colby, Helms’s successor, in 1974. But in the real world, the Rockefeller Commission reported a year later, the Operation’s massive “files and computerized index arestill intact.”
The secret database on hundreds of thousands of Americans was stored on “Hydra,” an IBM 360/67 boasting remote input and retrieval capabilities.
The retention of the CIA’s database on dissidents should have been the tip-off that CHAOS was far from dead. In 1974, MHCHAOS was rebranded as the Agency’s International Terrorism Group (ITG). The transition was cosmetic, however, a dab of bureaucratic lip-gloss: “Worried that the inspector general might discover MHCHAOS and expose it,” Angus Mackenzie wrote in Secrets: The CIA’s War at Home, Helms mustered Colby, CHAOS director Richard Ober and Deputy DCI Thomas Karamessines for “a meeting on December 5, 1972. Helms emphasized the importance of running a cleaner, less dubious-looking operation.”
Helms was determined that Operation CHAOS survive congressional and journalistic incursions. The solution was a single emotive word: “Terrorism.” Helms ordered that the CIA’s covert war on left-wing dissidents be described within the Agency as an offensive against terrorism, and CHAOS/TGI director Richard Ober “identified with the subject of terrorism inside the Agency as well as in the intelligence community.”
And so the first “war on terrorism” was born.
The intent of the shell game was to spiff up the Agency’s image, MacKenzie notes, “on the assumption that ‘terrorists’ were more believable as a genuine threat than ‘dissidents.’ But there was in fact to belittle change in targets.” MHCHAOS in counter-terrorist drag “continued to hold dissidents in its sights, specifically radical youths, Blacks, women, and antiwar militants. The label ‘international terrorist’ was designed to replace ‘political dissident’ as the ongoing justification for illegal domestic operations.”
Congressional investigators of the 1970s were unaware that, at a secret 1968 meeting of CIA officials and Wall Street operatives held at the Council on Foreign Relations, it was decided that the Agency’s operations had already become too public. Thereafter, “sensitive” jobs would be delegated to “private organizations, many of the personnel of which would be non-U.S … particularlythird country nationals.” This proposal to grant foreign nationals a license to kill was officially sanctioned in 1969, when Richard Nixon appointed Franklin Lindsay, OSS veteran, CIA operative and CEO of the Rockefeller-financed Itek Corporation, to lead an advisory panel on revamping the Agency. Lindsay had attended the CFR meeting. Many of the proposals drafted in 1968, according to researcher Peter Dale Scott in a short essay, “CIA, DEA, and Their Assassination Capacity,” were
… implemented by successive CIA directors, most notably the recommendation that the aging CIA bureaucracy had become too large and should be dramatically cut back. In the context of this reversion to ‘unofficial cover,’ the March 1972 Helms injunction against assassination seems to have been a case of carefully locking the door of an already empty stable. Nine months earlier Lucien Conein, the CIA’s case officer in the Diem assassination and a high level contact with the heroin trafficking Corsican Mafia, resigned from CIA, to be brought back at the suggestion of his old OSS colleague Howard Hunt into the White House narcotics effort. There, Conein (by his own admission) supervised a special unit which would have the capacity to assassinate selected targets in the narcotics business.
To researchers of CIA history, Lucien Conein is a known quantity. But Franklin Lindsay’s past – particularly his collaboration with Nazis after WW II and a CIA assassination program code-named Operation Ohio – is relatively obscure.
After the war, Lindsay was Frank Wisner’s deputy at the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) – the Nazi-recruiting arm of the Central Intelligence Agency under Allen Dulles. The cutthroats of Operation Ohio, wartime Ukranian collaborators of the Waffen SS, engaged in mob-style murders. Over 20 assassinations in the Mittenwald misplaced persons camp near Munich were carried out under Ohio, funded by the Nazi-recruiting Army Counter-Intelligence Corps and CIA. This death squad went on to engage in violence against Soviet spies and double agents on the American payroll. When publicly exposed, the double agent murders were explained as factional violence among rival Ukranian émigré organizations.
“We were just out of World War Two, and we were using those [wartime] tactics,” Lindsay, who oversaw the OPC’s Eastern European operations, explained years later. “In my case, I had operated only in wartime conditions. Given the feeling that we were very near war at that time, one tended to operate in the same way.’ Lindsay, however, rejects the term assassination as a description of CIA/OPC practice during his tenure there.”
In a January 1962 Foreign Affairs article, Lindsay actually argued that terrorism is necessary to defend a population against communist indoctrination tactics: “Communists go far beyond political indoctrination,” he explained. “Once they have a fanatically dedicated minority, they begin the application of systematic terror to ensure that the masses of the people will be brought under, and kept under, complete Communist control.” Therefore, America’s “freedom fighters” had no recourse but to “organize the civil population into a tightly disciplined force, and, through propaganda and police activities, try to break the grip exercised by the adversary.” Liberating a population from communist domination, he wrote, is accomplished through terror: “[W]hen two forces are contending for the loyalty of, and control over, the civilian population, the side which uses violent reprisals most aggressively will dominate most of the people, even though their sympathies may lie in the other direction.”
When WW II ended, Lindsay and Dulles served on the staff of the congressional committee that approved the Marshall Plan. Nixon served on that committee as well, so he knew the prominent death squad leader and counter-terror terrorist well. The primary recommendations of the CIA reorganization working group chaired by Lindsay were codified by Richard Helms before he was forced from the DCI’s office and replaced by William Colby.
The use of foreign nationals in Nixon-era black bag operation was obvious. H.R. Haldeman wrote in The Ends of Power: “I was puzzled when [Nixon] told me, ‘Tell Ehrlichman this whole group of Cubans [Watergate Burglars] is tied to the Bay of Pigs.’ After a pause I said, ‘The Bay of Pigs? What does that have to do with the Watergate Burglary?’ But Nixon merely said, ‘Ehrlichman will know what I mean,’ and dropped the subject.”
From its inception, Operation 40 recruited professional hit men. The group was led by Nixon and they were indeed Bay of Pigs veterans. Researcher John Simkin writes:
The first meeting chaired by [the CIA’s Tracy] Barnes took place in his office on 18th January, 1960, and was attended by David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Jack Esterline and Frank Bender. According to Fabian Escalante, a senior officer of the Cuban Department of State Security (G-2), in 1960 Richard Nixon recruited an ‘important group of businessmen headed by George Bush (Snr.) and Jack Crichton, both Texas oilmen, to gather the necessary funds for the operation.’ This suggests that Operation 40 agents were involved in freelance work. It is known that at this time that George Bush and Jack Crichton were involved in covert right-wing activities. In 1990 The Common Cause magazine argued that: ‘The CIA put millionaire and agent George Bush in charge of recruiting exiled Cubans for the CIA’s invading army.
Recruits to Operation 40 were hand-picked by José Sanjenis Perdomo, said to be the doorman at the Dakota on December 8, 1980, the day Beatle John Lennon was assassinated.
How many unexplained American murders and acts of terror can be traced to the Nixon/Lindsay reorganization of the CIA? As mentioned, the congressional probes of the ‘70s had no time for the “assassination stories.” Only a select few at the Agency can answer that question today, and asking leads to the suspicion that one is a much-despised “conspiracy theorist,” like Sy Hersh or Frank Church. …
“Jackals: The Stench of American Fascism”
Introduction: Terror on the Right
Prelude: Nixon’s Jackals – The Birth of a Secret Domestic CIA Death Squad Commandeered by the White House
Chapter One: Hard Rain in the Balkans, Black Clouds Over Washington, D.C.: Illicit U.S. Arms Sales to Eastern Europe
Chapter Two: The Lexington Comair Crash
– The Hand on the Data Stream
– The Teterboro Incident
– Darwin’s Devolution, CIA Terrorism
– Flight Lesson
– Teterboro & the CIA
Chapter Three: Project Anthrax
Chapter Four: GOP Ties to Three 9/11 Hijackers
Chapter Five: Profiting from the Holocaust, Starving Congolese Children & Fixing Elections: The Manhattan Institute’s Paul E. Singer
Chapter Six: Adnan Khashoggi and an American Pinay Circle
– Richard Perle’s Narco-Terrorist Business Partner
– Al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf & the CIA’s Terror Incubator in the Philippines
– Khashoggi, Alexander Voloshin & the 1999 Moscow Apartment Bombings
– Nazi Connections to the Khashoggi Syndicate
Chapter Seven: The Brother of James Earl Ray Links the CIA to the Murder of Martin L. King, and Details Abuse at the Hands of the FBI
Chapter Eight: The Biggest Political Scandal of the Past Decade: Lockheed/Sandia, Bush’s State Dept., Pakistan’s Nuclear Black Market & the Hidden Parapolitics of the Plame Affair
Chapter Nine: The Early History of the John Birch Society
Chapter Ten: On a Bad Case of Cranial Bleeding, the Birth of CSC & the Collapse of Fannie Mae
Chapter Eleven: Armour Residential REIT and Wall Street’s National Security Robber Barons
Chapter Twelve: George Schultz, International Terrorist
Chapter Thirteen: Christo-Fascism Without Tears: Response to Evangelical Writers who Distance the Church from the Nazi Party
Chapter Sixteen: Operation Condor and the Secret History of the Smart Card
Chapter Seventeen: Smoking Out Fox News Correspondent Mort Kondracke’s DIA/PSYOP Roots
Chapter Eighteen: Scientologist Greta van Susteren’s Joe McCarthy Connection, Mein Kampf & a CIA Shrink in the Family
Chapter Nineteen: Tea and Disinformation: NPR Panders to the Far-Right
Chapter Twenty: Skyfall in San Diego: JMI Equity, the CIA, Mafia and the Dark Side of DoubleClick
Postscript: Teflon Nazis
Samples of Nazi regalia and far-right literature, including a manual on how to make a homemade pistol, found by police
Special police units who searched the house of the man arrested after the killing of MP Jo Cox are believed to have found samples of Nazi regalia and far-right literature.
Thomas Mair was also known to have bought books from a US-based neo-Nazi group, including guides on how to build homemade guns and explosives, according to an anti-hate campaign group in the US. Among them was a manual on how to make a homemade pistol.
Sources say that the suspected killer was lucid when first questioned. A picture is now emerging of a deliberately targeted attack in which Mair lay in wait for the MP as she emerged from her constituency meeting on Thursday. Witnesses have confirmed that he shouted “Britain first” or “Put Britain first” as he attacked Cox, who was 41 and had two children. Britain First is the name of a far-right political party.
Cameron said it was time for the UK to think about the need to “treasure and value our democracy”.
in the US, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published receipts that appeared to show Mair bought, among other books, a manual on how to make a homemade pistol from the National Alliance.
The receipts, some of which date back to the 1990s, showed Mair spent more than $620 (£436) on literature from the group, which advocates the creation of an all-white homeland and the eradication of Jewish people.
He bought books that instructed readers on the “chemistry of powder and explosives”, “incendiaries”, and a work called Improvised Munitions Handbook. The handbook included detailed instructions on constructing a pipe pistol using parts available in DIY stores.
Receipted items also included Ich Kämpfe, an illustrated handbook issued to members of the Nazi party in 1942.
Heidi Beirich, the leader of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said the group had obtained transaction records from members of the National Alliance.
The far-right political party Britain First said after the attack on Cox that it was not involved in it and “would never encourage behaviour of this sort”.
There were also reports that Mair was named as a subscriber to SA Patriot, a South African magazine published by White Rhino Club, a pro-apartheid group. The club describes the magazine’s editorial stance as being opposed to “multicultural societies” and “expansionist Islam”.
The National Alliance was founded in 1974 by William Pierce, from an earlier group called the National Youth Alliance, which emerged from the support of the segregationist demagogue, Alabama governor and three-time presidential candidate George Wallace. A book by Pierce, who died in 2002, was an inspiration for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, according to the bomber, Timothy McVeigh.
AMMAN, Jordan — Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.
Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, F.B.I. officials believe after months of investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the investigation.
The existence of the weapons theft, which ended only months ago after complaints by the American and Saudi governments, is being reported for the first time after a joint investigation by The New York Times and Al Jazeera. The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programs to arm and train rebels — the kind of program the C.I.A. and Pentagon have conducted for decades — even after the Obama administration had hoped to keep the training program in Jordan under tight control.
The Jordanian officers who were part of the scheme reaped a windfall from the weapons sales, using the money to buy expensive SUVs, iPhones and other luxury items, Jordanian officials said.
The theft and resale of the arms — including Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades — have led to a flood of new weapons available on the black arms market. Investigators do not know what became of most of them, but a disparate collection of groups, including criminal networks and rural Jordanian tribes, use the arms bazaars to build their arsenals. Weapons smugglers also buy weapons in the arms bazaars to ship outside the country.
The F.B.I. investigation into the Amman shooting, run by the bureau’s Washington field office, is continuing. But American and Jordanian officials said the investigators believed that the weapons a Jordanian police captain, Anwar Abu Zaid, used to gun down two American contractors, two Jordanians and one South African had originally arrived in Jordan intended for the Syrian rebel-training program.
The officials said this finding had come from tracing the serial numbers of the weapons.
Mohammad H. al-Momani, Jordan’s minister of state for media affairs, said allegations that Jordanian intelligence officers had been involved in any weapons thefts were “absolutely incorrect.”
“Weapons of our security institutions are concretely tracked, with the highest discipline,” he said. He called the powerful Jordanian intelligence service, known as the General Intelligence Directorate, or G.I.D., “a world-class, reputable institution known for its professional conduct and high degree of cooperation among security agencies.” In Jordan, the head of the G.I.D. is considered the second most important man after the king.
Representatives of the C.I.A. and F.B.I. declined to comment.
The State Department did not address the allegations directly, but a spokesman said America’s relationship with Jordan remained solid.
“The United States deeply values the long history of cooperation and friendship with Jordan,” said John Kirby, the spokesman. “We are committed to the security of Jordan and to partnering closely with Jordan to meet common security challenges.”
The training program, which in 2013 began directly arming the rebels under the code name Timber Sycamore, is run by the C.I.A. and several Arab intelligence services and aimed at building up forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The United States and Saudi Arabia are the biggest contributors, with the Saudis contributing both weapons and large sums of money, and with C.I.A. paramilitary operatives taking the lead in training the rebels to use Kalashnikovs, mortars, antitank guided missiles and other weapons.
The existence of the program is classified, as are all details about its budget. American officials say that the C.I.A. has trained thousands of rebels in the past three years, and that the fighters made substantial advances on the battlefield against Syrian government forces until Russian military forces — launched last year in support of Mr. Assad — compelled them to retreat.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in March at a Jordanian-American military training center in Zarqa, Jordan. Credit Jordan Pix/Getty Images
The training program is based in Jordan because of the country’s proximity to the Syrian battlefields. From the beginning, the C.I.A. and the Arab intelligence agencies relied on Jordanian security services to transport the weapons, many bought in bulk in the Balkans and elsewhere around Eastern Europe.
The program is separate from one that the Pentagon set up to train rebels to combat Islamic State fighters, rather than the Syrian military. That program was shut down after it managed to train only a handful of Syrian rebels.
Jordanian and American officials described the weapons theft and subsequent investigation on the condition of anonymity because the Syrian rebel training is classified in the United States and is a government secret in Jordan.
News of the weapons theft and eventual crackdown has been circulating inside Jordan’s government for several months. Husam Abdallat, a senior aide to several past Jordanian prime ministers, said he had heard about the scheme from current Jordanian officials. The G.I.D. has some corrupt officers in its ranks, Mr. Abdallat said, but added that the institution as a whole is not corrupt. “The majority of its officers are patriotic and proud Jordanians who are the country’s first line of defense,” he said.
Jordanian officials who described the operation said it had been run by a group of G.I.D. logistics officers with direct access to the weapons once they reached Jordan. The officers regularly siphoned truckloads of the weapons from the stocks, before delivering the rest of the weapons to designated drop-off points.
Then the officers sold the weapons at several large arms markets in Jordan. The main arms bazaars in Jordan are in Ma’an, in the southern part of the country; in Sahab, outside Amman; and in the Jordan Valley.
It is unclear whether the current head of the G.I.D., Gen. Faisal al-Shoubaki, had knowledge of the theft of the C.I.A. and Saudi weapons. But several Jordanian intelligence officials said senior officers inside the service had knowledge of the weapons scheme and provided cover for the lower-ranking officers.
Word that the weapons intended for the rebels were being bought and sold on the black market leaked into Jordan government circles last year, when arms dealers began bragging to their customers that they had large stocks of American- and Saudi-provided weapons.
Jordanian intelligence operatives monitoring the arms market — operatives not involved in the weapons-diversion scheme — began sending reports to headquarters about a proliferation of weapons in the market and of the boasts of the arms dealers.
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After the Americans and Saudis complained about the theft, investigators at the G.I.D. arrested several dozen officers involved in the scheme, among them a lieutenant colonel running the operation. They were ultimately released from detention and fired from the service, but were allowed to keep their pensions and money they gained from the scheme, according to Jordanian officials.
Jordan’s decision to host the C.I.A.-led training program is the latest episode in a long partnership.
Beginning in the Eisenhower administration, the C.I.A. made large payments to King Hussein, who ruled Jordan from 1952 until his death in 1999, in exchange for permission to run numerous intelligence operations on Jordanian soil.
Ambulances leaving the police training center where Captain Abu Zaid gunned down five people, including two American contractors. Credit Raad Adayleh/Associated Press
C.I.A. money and expertise also helped the king establish the G.I.D. and put down internal and external threats to his government. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States has flooded Jordan with money for various counterterrorism programs. American and Jordanian spies have run a joint counterterrorism center outside Amman, and a secret prison in Jordan housed prisoners the C.I.A. captured in the region.
In his 2006 book, “State of Denial,” the journalist Bob Woodward recounted a 2003 conversation in which George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, told Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, “We created the Jordanian intelligence service, and now we own it.”
It is a relationship of mutual dependence, but Jordan has particular leverage because of its location in the heart of the Middle East and its general tolerance to be used as a base of American military and intelligence operations. Jordan’s security services also have a long history of trying to infiltrate Islamic militant groups, efforts that have yielded both success and failure.
In 2009, a Jordanian doctor — brought to the C.I.A. by a G.I.D. officer after the doctor said he had penetrated Al Qaeda’s leadership — turned out to be a double agent and blew himself up at a remote base in Afghanistan. Seven C.I.A. employees, as well as the G.I.D. officer, were killed in the attack.
Two recent heads of the service, also known as the Mukhabarat, have been sent to prison on charges including embezzlement, money laundering and bank fraud. One of them, Gen. Samih Battikhi, ran the G.I.D. from 1995 to 2000 and was convicted of being part of a scheme to obtain bank loans of around $600 million for fake government contracts and pocketing about $25 million. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, but the sentence was eventually reduced to four years that were served in his villa in the seaside town of Aqaba.
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Gen. Mohammad al-Dahabi, who ran the service from 2005 to 2008, was later convicted of stealing millions of dollars that G.I.D. officers had seized from Iraqi citizens crossing into Jordan in the years after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. His trial showed that he had also arranged for money to be smuggled in private cars from Iraq into Jordan and had been involved in sellingJordanian citizenship to Iraqi businessmen. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison and fined tens of millions of dollars.
President Obama authorized the covert arming program in April 2013, after more than a year of debate inside the administration about the wisdom of using the C.I.A. to train rebels trying to oust Mr. Assad.
The decision was made in part to try to gain control of a chaotic situation in which Arab countries were funneling arms into Syria for various rebel groups with little coordination. The Qataris had paid to smuggle shipments of Chinese-made FN-6 shoulder-fired weapons over the border from Turkey, and Saudi Arabia sent thousands of Kalashnikovs and millions of rounds of ammunition it had bought, sometimes with the C.I.A.’s help.
By late 2013, the C.I.A. was working directly with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other nations to arm and train small groups of rebels and send them across the border into Syria.
The specific motives behind the November shooting at the Amman police training facility remain uncertain, and it is unclear when the F.B.I. will officially conclude its investigation.
This year, the widows of the Americans killed in the attack sued Twitter, alleging that it knowingly permitted the Islamic State to use its social media platform to spread the militant group’s violent message, recruiting and raising funds.
Captain Abu Zaid, the gunman, was killed almost immediately. His brother, Fadi Abu Zaid, said in an interview that he still believed his brother was innocent and that he had given no indications he was planning to carry out the shooting.
The Jordanian government, he said, has denied him any answers about the shooting, and has refused to release his brother’s autopsy report.
Mark Mazzetti reported from Amman and Washington, and Ali Younes from Amman, Washington and Doha, Qatar.
Follow Mark Mazzetti @MarkMazzettiNYT and Ali Younes @Ali_reports on Twitter.
At least five people were stabbed in a riot that broke out at the state Capitol Sunday between more than 150 anarchists and “anti-fascist” protestors and about 25 neo-Nazis who had gotten permission to rally on the west steps, police said. Erasmo MartinezThe Sacramento Bee
BY STEPHEN MAGAGNINI AND ELLEN GARRISON
At least five people were stabbed in a riot that broke out at the state Capitol Sunday between more than 150 anarchists and “anti-fascist” protestors and about 25 neo-Nazis who had gotten permission to rally on the west steps, police said.
Dozens of police in safety gear and on horseback tried to control the mayhem. The stabbings involved victims on both sides, according to Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers, who had officers in safety gear on scene to support CHP officers. “It’s a highly volatile situation,” Somers said. There have been other skinhead rallies at the Capitol, but “this time the the anarchists have taken a much more aggressive stance to wreak havoc on the city.”
Somers added, “regardless of the message it’s the skinhead’s first amendment right to free speech.” The Bee saw two young African American men who had been stabbed, one in the shoulder and the other in the right side, who were among at least three victims assisted by emergency fire crews and taken to local hospitals
The Black Hawks, more than 100 anti-fascist protesters in black, led a chant of of “racists go home” and drove a handful of Nazi protesters off the ground. Somers said he heard two skinheads left the area after being stabbed.
The Intelligence community is going to have to justify its relationship with Hollywood.
Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, included an amendment in the annua lintelligence-spending bill passed late last month that calls for the Director of National Intelligence to submit an annual report to congressional oversight committees detailing how the CIA and 15 other intelligence agencies interact with the entertainment industry.
The measure, which defines the entertainment industry broadly, follows a series of reports published by VICE News over the past year detailing the agency’s role in the production of 22 entertainment-related projects between 2006 and 2011. They included major motion pictures like Zero Dark Thirty and Argo; reality television series such as Top Chef; the cable drama series, Covert Affairs; and books including The Devil’s Light by Richard North Patterson. In the case of Zero Dark Thirty, writer and producer Mark Boal and Katherine Bigelow gave CIA officers involved in the operation that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden gifts including dinners, fake pearl earrings, a bottle of tequila, and tickets to a Prada fashion show. The filmmakers, in turn, got access.
In some instances CIA officials disclosed classified information to producers and writers. An investigation by the CIA’s inspector general (IG) into the agency’s dealings with Bigelow and Boal identified several potential criminal violations of federal law, such as the bribery of public officials and witnesses, by the filmmakers. (The Senate Intelligence Committee receives classified versions of the CIA’s IG reports at the time they are finalized. It appears that the catalyst behind the amendment is news stories detailing the CIA’s relationship with Hollywood.)
Section 306 of the committee report on the bill published last week relating to the amendment would rein in the intelligence agencies, including the CIA, that provide “support” to entertainment projects. The Burr-Feinstein amendment mandates that the Director of National Intelligence, who oversees the 16 agencies that make up the Intelligence Community, issue an annual report that includes “a description of the nature, duration, costs, and results of each engagement, as well as a certification that each engagement did not result in a disclosure of classified information and whether any information was declassified for the disclosure.”
The amendment “further requires that before an Intelligence Community element may engage with the entertainment industry, the head of that element must approve the proposed engagement and notify the congressional intelligence committees at least thirty days in advance of why the engagement would further the Intelligence Community element’s interests.”
Earlier this year, the CIA’s director of public affairs, Dean Boyd, told VICE News that when the CIA engages with the entertainment industry, “CIA’s priority is the protection of classified material and national security equities, while ensuring an informed, balanced portrayal of the women and men of CIA.”
But the Burr-Feinstein amendment states that the relationship has no upside. The amendment notes the “engagements, described in partially declassified inspector general reports,” such as those obtained by VICE News, “cost taxpayer dollars, raise potential ethics concerns, increase the risk of disclosure of classified information, and consume the time and attention of Intelligence Community personnel responsible for United States national security.”
“Neither the production of entertainment nor the self-promotion of Intelligence Community entities are legitimate purposes for these engagements,” the amendment further states.
Other intelligence agencies have also provided support to the entertainment industry, but not to the extent that the CIA has.
It’s unclear whether the amendment would effectively put an end to the CIA’s relationship with Hollywood, although that seems unlikely. A spokesperson for the CIA was not immediately available to comment about the amendment. Burr’s office also did not respond to specific questions about the measure.
Since the release of Zero Dark Thirty and the disclosure that the CIA assisted on the production of the movie, the agency’s Office of Public Affairs, the division that liaises with the entertainment industry, completely overhauled its procedures for interacting with the entertainment industry.
The Intelligence Authorization bill still needs to be voted on by the full Senate. A date has not yet been scheduled.
The man arrested over the shooting and stabbing murder of British parliamentarian Jo Cox had ties to a neo-Nazi group in the United States, and had bought guides on assembling homemade guns and explosives, according to a US-based civil rights watchdog that tracks hate groups.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published records showing that Thomas Mair, 52, who allegedly shot and stabbed Cox multiple times Thursday, was a “longtime supporter of the National Alliance” (NA), once known as the US’s premier neo-Nazi organization.
Mair reportedly spent more than $620 on books and literature from NA, including guides titled “Improvised Munitions Handbook,” “Chemistry of Powder & Explosives,” and “Incendiaries,” according to receipts published by SPLC.
The receipts also showed Mair purchased a copy of Ich Kampfe — German for “I do battle” or “I struggle,” and an obvious reference to Adolf Hilter’s Mein Kampf —a handbook issued to new enrollees in the Nazi party in the early 1940s.
Mair also subscribed to S. A. Patriot, a South African magazine published by pro-apartheid group White Rhino Club, The Daily Telegraphreported.
Cox, a 41-year-old lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party and a vocal advocate of Britain’s European Union membership, died of her injuries on Thursday afternoon. She was attacked while preparing to meet constituents in Birstall near Leeds in northern England.
Media reports, citing witnesses, said the attacker had shouted out “Britain first”, which is the name of a right-wing nationalist group that describes itself on its website as “a patriotic political party and street defence organisation”.
Police said a 77-year-old man was also assaulted in the incident and suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.
Cox’s death has caused deep shock across Britain and the suspension of campaigning for next week’s referendum on the country’s EU membership. The deputy leader of Britain First, Jayda Fransen, distanced the group from the attack, which she described as “absolutely disgusting”. Leader Paul Golding also promptly condemned the attack.
One witness said a man pulled an old or makeshift gun from a bag and fired twice. “I saw a lady on the floor like on the beach with her arms straight and her knees up and blood all over the face,” Hichem Ben-Abdallah told reporters. “She wasn’t making any noise, but clearly she was in agony.”
The lawmaker’s husband Brendan said: “She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now: one, that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.”
Image courtesy Southern Poverty Law Center.
The rival referendum campaign groups, Remain and Leave, said they were suspending activities on Friday. Prime Minister David Cameron said he would pull out of a planned rally in Gibraltar, the British territory on the southern coast of Spain.
Cameron said the killing of the mother-of-two, who had worked on US President Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign, was a tragedy.
“We have lost a great star,” the Conservative prime minister said. “She was a great campaigning MP with huge compassion, with a big heart. It is dreadful, dreadful news.”
It was not immediately clear what the impact would be on the June 23 referendum, which has polarized the nation into pro- and anti-EU camps. But some analysts speculated it could boost the pro-EU “Remain” campaign, which in recent days has fallen behind the “Leave” camp in opinion polls.
Gun ownership is highly restricted in Britain, and attacks of any nature on public figures are rare. The last British lawmaker to have been killed in an attack was Ian Gow, who died after a bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded under his car at his home in southern England in 1990.