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Thread: USA under presidency of a know-nothing, neo-fascist, racist, sexist, mobbed-up narcissist!!

  1. #1031

    Default Trump and Fascism

    Quoted from the above posting of the esteemed and very knowledgeable Mr. Lemkin:
    “Some are lost with a past and long abandoned definition of 'fascism' and what fascism really represents - at the basic political, sociological, psychological, societal, structural levels...”

    [I guess that includes me!!!!!!!!!!]

    Per the prior posting:

    “Fascism means dividing a population to achieve power.” (definition of the poster).

    Jason Stanley as quoted in the previous posting in listing the 10 pillars of fascism:


    1. Mythic past
    2. Propaganda
    3. Anti-Intellectualism
    4. Unreality
    5. Hierarchy
    6. Victimhood
    7. Law and Order
    8. Sexual Anxiety
    9. Appeals to the Heartland
    10. Dismantling of Public Welfare and Unity


    [Note the omission of anything about social class, corporations or financial greed]

    Merriam-Webster


    fascism

    1.often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

    2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
    early instances of army fascism and brutality —J. W. Aldridge

    Oxford English Dictionary

    1An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
    Example sentences Synonyms

    1.1 (in general use) extreme authoritarian, oppressive, or intolerant views or practices.
    ‘this is yet another example of health fascism in action’

    More example sentences
    The term Fascism was first used of the totalitarian right-wing nationalist regime of Mussolini in Italy (1922–43); the regimes of the Nazis in Germany and Franco in Spain were also Fascist. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach

    Collins English dictionary
    fascism
    (fæʃɪzəm )
    noun

    Fascism is a set of right-wing political beliefs that includes strong control of society and the economy by the state, a powerful role for the armed forces, and the stopping of political opposition.

    ...the rise of fascism in the 1930s.


    ***********Well, the author Mr. Stanley himself qualifies under item #6 as a fascist—he mentions his status as a refugee from WWII Europe. He seeks to establish his credibility by relying on his victimhood.

    All of the dictionary definitions of fascism have one thing in common: they refer to either the advocacy or the application of some sort of system of government.

    The definition proposed by Mr. Lemkin could be analyzed. It is claimed that you are a fascist if you attempt to divide a population to achieve power. But in his arguments, the prior poster is himself trying to divide the readership (implicitly the population) into pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions to persuade people to support more power to the anti-Trump forces. This is the definition of “politics”, not of “fascism”.

    I will agree, THERE DOES SEEM TO BE A THREAD running through the ten pillars listed by Stanley. What is omitted (deviously in my opinion) is “how many of the ten pillars do you need to qualify as a “fascist”? As stated above, Mr. Stanley has one of the traits because he pleads victimhood (post WWII refugee). Others of the ten traits seem ridiculous or at least way, way removed from fascism.

    “SEXUAL ANXIETY?” I can say for sure that people who have sexual anxieties are not necessarily fascist. Nor are those who claim victimhood. Hopefully, most people support “law and order” for their community and country. And what is the “heartland”? Promoting that word as a criterion of fascism seems (on it’s face) to be trying to divide one section of the country against the “coasts”. But then, trying to divide the country is being a “fascist”.

    To be quite honest, the ten pillars seem only to apply to one American that I can think of—and that is Richard M. Nixon. Was Nixon a “fascist”? Or did he fall victim to “fascists”. I tend to believe the latter.

    What is left out of the ten pillars is any reference to a form of government. The anti-Trumpers are the ones who want to rely on some other governmental process besides democracy. To be a real fascist, you apparently have to be addressing the form of our government. I don’t personally think that you can call any plain old racist as fascist. Racists yes, fascist probably not usually.

    Evil as they are, all racists are not fascists. It seems like to meet the minimum standard you have to oppose democracy to be a fascist.

    The Globalist anti-Trumpers are trying to thread the needle by claiming to oppose fascists but also they oppose following the election process. So we have to ask the singular important question of Mr. Lemkin:

    WOULD YOU SUPPORT USING NON-DEMOCRATIC MEANS LIKE POLITICAL TRIALS TO OVERTURN THE RESULTS OF A FAIR ELECTION? If you approve of such things, then you IMHO are more a “fascist” than “not a fascist”.

    If anti-Trumpers really oppose fascists, then why do they seem to want to rely on unquestionably un-democratic Deep State practices like the JFK assassination, Watergate, Whitewater-gate, Russia-gate and provocations like the anthrax attacks used “TO DIVIDE THE COUNTRY TO GAIN POWER?” Is the Deep State fascist or anti-fascist? That's a no-brainer.

    To sum up, in all my readings on the development of German fascism, the trend in this country is making it more and more apparent that the anti-Trumpers are building on the Fascist playbook.

    In Germany, whether under Bismarck, Hitler or Adenauer, the tell-tale sign of fascism was dictatorship of the upper middle class which achieved power by exploiting the dislike of blue-collar working classes who were seen as Socialist or Communist.

    To be fascist IMHO, you have to be anti-Socialist and anti-Communist. President Trump has clearly gone out of the prior pattern and appealed to blue-collar workers on the issues of immigration and the outsourcing of jobs. This is why he is opposed by the anti-Trump borderline fascists and Globalists.

    It is the anti-Trumpers who seek to exploit the blue collar workers by immigration and trade so they can get cheap stuff at Wal-Mart. What Bismarck knew, also Hitler and also Adenauer is this: you can turn the middle class against the blue collar class by paying them off with relative material wealth. You can buy them off by giving them a Cadillac or a 401-K and they will turn against the Blue Collar class every time. That worked in Germany from 1868 to 1963.

    And that is why the anti-Trumpers are also anti-Blue Collar and anti-Union. Note that in the prior posting about fascism, THERE IS NOT EVEN A WORD MENTIONED ABOUT CLASS STRUGGLE, LABOR UNIONS, CORPORATISM FINANCIAL GREED, ETC.

    That is because the anti-Trumpers are flying the banner of anti-fascism, but they are on the side of the fascist anti-labor tradition of the real, historical fascists. Cleverly, if they destroy the label “fascist” by disinformation, then that is the perfect cover to overturn elections in the fascist, South American style as in Brazil and Chile under Pinochet.

    DON’T BE FOOLED!

    James Lateer

  2. #1032

    Default Fascism, Fascism, Fascism

    The Ten Real Pillars of Fascism by Jim Lateer

    1. Corporations are people.
    2. Money talks, (money is speech).
    3. Personal freedom is unnecessary and dangerous.
    4. Elections are dangerous and counter-productive.
    5. The fundamental essence of religion is coercion.
    6. The goal of economics is to maximize profits.
    7. You can’t be too rich.
    8. All men are not created equal, (rather unequal).
    9. Pope Pius XII was a saint.
    10. Blue collar workers are objects to be used.
    11. The word fascism only applies to left-handed armadillos

  3. #1033

    Default

    SEPTEMBER 6, 2018 | DOUGLAS VALENTINE

    https://whowhatwhy.org/2018/09/06/wh...is-the-cia-on/

    WHOSE SIDE IS THE CIA ON?

    Army of the Republic of Vietnam soldiers and an American advisor in Vietnam taken sometime between 1967 and 1975. Photo credit: US Army / Wikimedia

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    What does it say about the state of the nation that many on both the left and right are banking their hopes for the future of American democracy on the patriotism and competence of cloak-and-dagger spooks?
    If you tune in to left-leaning mainstream cable news shows on MSNBC or CNN, you’ll see a steady parade of such stalwarts of the intelligence community as former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Former FBI director James Comey, once the bane of the left for reopening the Clinton email inquiry two weeks before the 2016 election, is now lauded in Democratic circles for his attacks on President Donald Trump.
    The view of many on the left that the president is an existential threat to the safety and security of the country is a sentiment shared with many right-wing #NeverTrumpers.
    Meanwhile, to Trump and his loyal followers, this cabal of current and former intelligence figures represents a usually invisible “Deep State” faction, whose intention is to overturn the democratic will as expressed in the Electoral College.
    But perhaps there’s an upside to this seismic realignment of public opinion: the American people are coming to terms with the notion that the intelligence community — far from being an above-the-fray servant of a popularly elected government — is in fact inherently political, serving long-term shadowy interests, including its own.
    It’s with this in mind that we present an excerpt from Douglas Valentine’s The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World (Clarity Press, January 15, 2017).
    A longtime author and researcher of the US national security state, Valentine is perhaps known best for his book The Phoenix Program: America’s Use of Terror in Vietnam, which many consider the definitive study of the CIA’s secretive counter-insurgency program during the war in Vietnam.
    The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World by Douglas Valentine. Photo credit: Clarity Press

    He’s also written several books — The Strength of the Wolf and The Strength of the Pack — chronicling the US’s history of the war on drugs, its connections to US intelligence agencies, and the rise and fall of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
    The CIA as Organized Crime contains excerpts from these works, as well as interviews with the author.
    This condensed excerpt from chapter one is a radio interview transcript in which Valentine explains how he researched and connected with many top-level CIA agents (including CIA Director William Colby), learned of the agency’s dark history in Vietnam, and uncovered its undue influence over media, illegal drugs, and more.

    How William Colby Gave Me the Keys to the CIA Kingdom

    .

    [Editor’s note: Valentine’s approach to the mysteries of the CIA is enriched by a personal in-depth study of language and literature — a background which he has weaponized to deconstruct the myth of America’s top spy agency.]
    DOUG: It’s complicated, and my experience was different from other writers and researchers I’ve spoken with about it. From the time I started college, my philosophy of life has been based on the study of language and literary criticism. I have a very broad approach, from a variety of different perspectives — psychological, political, anthropological, sociological, historical, philosophical, etc. When I look at a subject, I look at it comprehensively from all those different points of view. More importantly, literary criticism teaches the power of symbolic transformation, of processing experience into ideas, into meaning. To be a Madison Avenue adman, one must understand how to use symbols and myths to sell commodities. Admen use logos and slogans, and so do political propagandists. Left or right; doesn’t matter. The left is as adept at branding as the right. To be a speech writer or public relations consultant one must, above all, understand the archetypal power of the myth of the hero. That way you can transform, through words, Joe the Plumber or Donald Trump into a national hero.

    When I decided to research and write about the CIA’s Phoenix program1, that was how I went at it. I went directly to William Colby, who’d been Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Colby was the person most associated with Phoenix, the controversial CIA “assassination” program that resulted in the death of tens of thousands of civilians during the Vietnam War. No one had written a book about it, so I wrote Colby a letter and sent him my first book, The Hotel Tacloban. I told him I wanted to write a book that would de-mystify the Phoenix program, and he was all for that. Colby liked my approach — to look at it from all these different points of view — so he got behind me and started introducing me to a lot of senior CIA people. And that gave me access from the inside. After that it was pretty easy. I have good interview skills. I was able to persuade a lot of these CIA people to talk about Phoenix.
    “Most CIA officers consider themselves to be soldiers. The CIA is set up as a military organization with a chain of command. Somebody tells you what to do, and you salute and do it.”
    But I also approached it from an organizational point of view, which is absolutely essential when writing about bureaucracies like the CIA or the DEA. You really have to understand them as a bureaucracy, that they have an historical arc. They begin somewhere, they have a Congressional mandate, they have a purpose, and organizational and management structures. And in that regard I really lucked out. One of the first people I interviewed was the CIA officer, Nelson Brickham, who actually organized the Phoenix program. Brickham graduated magna cum laude from Yale and was something of an organizational genius. He explained to me how he organized Phoenix. He also explained the different divisions and branches of the CIA so I’d be able to understand it.
    Nelson Brickham was the senior CIA officer in charge of Foreign Intelligence Field Operations throughout South Vietnam, 1965-1966. Photo credit: Douglas Valentine

    So I lucked out. Through Colby I had access to the people in the CIA who created the Phoenix program, and I was able to find out what was on their minds and why they did what they did. That never would have happened if I had gone to the Columbia School of Journalism, or if I’d been involved with journalism for many years. I’d have had a much narrower way of going at the thing. But the CIA officers I spoke with loved the broad view that I was bringing to the subject. They liked me asking them about their philosophy. It enabled me to understand the subject comprehensively.
    TRACY: There’s an associate of William Colby’s whom you discuss and write about, also a CIA officer, Evan Parker. You were able to get a great many names from him and then you asked these people for interviews. The interview subjects, many of whom were CIA personnel, would go back to Colby or Parker and ask if it was okay to speak to you. Correct?
    DOUG: That’s right. Once I had Colby’s approbation, many CIA officers thought I was in the CIA. No one had heard of me. I wasn’t Morley Safer or Seymour Hersh or someone who’d been a celebrity reporter in Vietnam. I was a Nobody, in the Eduardo Galeano sense of the word. I’d published a book about my father’s experiences in World War Two which some of these guys would read. Those who did read The Hotel Tacloban tended to like it, because it was sympathetic to soldiers and showed I understood what it means to be a soldier. Most CIA officers consider themselves to be soldiers. The CIA is set up as a military organization with a chain of command. Somebody tells you what to do, and you salute and do it.
    “They trusted me because I didn’t ask them their secrets — so they told me their secrets.”
    Evan Parker had that feeling about me — that I would understand him personally, why he did the things he did, because I’d written this sympathetic book about my father as a soldier, and because Colby sent me to him. I had an interesting experience with him. He invited me to his house for an interview and when I arrived, he invited me upstairs to his little den, which was stacked with bookshelves full of Welsh history and poetry books. Parker is a Welsh name. Because of my background in literature, I was able to talk to him about things like The Mabinogion, which is a book about Welsh mythology. I had this broad knowledge that helped me relate to people like him. I put him at ease.
    Also, for a year before I started interviewing people, I’d read everything I could find about Vietnam and the CIA. I was knowledgeable, plus I looked like a good Methodist. I wore a suit and a tie. We spoke for an hour and Parker got to like me. I hadn’t asked him anything about the CIA. We were just getting to know each other. But he had a stack of official-looking documents on his coffee table. He glanced at the documents and politely said he was going down to get us some tea and cookies. “It’ll take about fifteen minutes. I’ll be back.” He winked and went downstairs.
    William E. Colby, Former Director of Central Intelligence, July 23, 2012. Photo credit: CIA / Wikimedia

    I opened the top folder. It was a roster of everybody in the Phoenix Directorate from when Parker started it in the summer of 1967. I started furiously writing their names and ranks and the position they held in the program. Fifteen minutes later as I’m writing the last name, he yells from downstairs: “Doug, the tea is ready. I’m coming up.” I closed the file and put my notebook away. He came up with a tray with tea and cookies on it. He winked, and sat down, and I started to ask him about Phoenix.
    We never got to the documents on his desk. But he liked me and he referred me to people. That’s the way it went with most of the CIA people I met. They cooperated because Colby had sent me to them. Like Parker said, “(Colby) was the Director and we still consider him to be the Director. If he says you’re okay, we believe it.”
    He didn’t say, “Now I can waive my secrecy oath.” But that’s what they did.
    I talked to members of almost every branch of the CIA and I approached my interviews organizationally. What kind of a budget did you have? Who was your boss and how did you report to him? Who worked for you and what jobs did you give them? I had a big organizational chart in my den and I’d fill in names and positions. I never asked anyone, “Did you kill anybody? Did you do this kind of illegal thing?” And because I approached it in that benign way, they were confident I was de-mystifying the program and just sticking to the facts. It had the effect of reverse psychology. They trusted me because I didn’t ask them their secrets — so they told me their secrets.
    “The Department of Homeland Security was based on the Phoenix program model Nelson Brickham developed in Vietnam.”
    They didn’t like it in the end because I exposed all the secrets. I talked to so many people that eventually they all started thinking that I was CIA. Because the CIA compartmentalizes itself, I ended up knowing more about the program than any individual in the CIA. I got a rat-a-tat going and pitted them against each other. They started telling me secrets about their rivals. They all want to be the hero in their myth.
    TRACY: The interviews you conducted and the multitude of conversations you documented were placed alongside actual documentation which you had to acquire through a considerable amount of research.
    DOUG: In the interviews, people were giving me original documents to confirm their assertions. Nelson Brickham was the CIA’s head of Foreign Intelligence Field Operations in Saigon (1965-1967). Brickham managed the liaison officers the CIA placed in the provinces to work with the South Vietnamese Police Special Branch, which is an organization like our FBI. The CIA created and funded the Special Police and sent them after the Viet Cong’s civilian leadership, and anyone else trying to undermine the American puppet government. Phoenix is political warfare. He managed the staff that ran all those operations in the provinces.
    In late 1966 the CIA station chief in Saigon, John Hart, was working on improving operations against the VC’s leadership with a CIA officer in Washington, Robert Komer. Komer was Lyndon Johnson’s personal aide on pacification in Vietnam, what was called “the other war”. Anyway, Hart gave Brickham the task of creating a general staff for pacification, at which point Brickham went to work for Komer. In creating a general staff for pacification, Brickham cobbled together the Phoenix program. And Brickham gave me, over the course of several interviews, copies of all the original documents he wrote for Komer and Hart. These were the enabling documents of the Phoenix program.
    Robert Komer meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson, November 16 1967. Photo credit: Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum / Wikimedia

    That happened a lot. I’d ask a guy if he had any documents to back up what he was saying and if he did he’d give me copies of what he kept in his library. Everyone thought because Colby had sent me that somehow this was all going to be ok. I wasn’t going to reveal all this stuff or that Colby had decided it was okay to reveal all of it.
    The documents Brickham gave me showed in his own words what he was thinking when he created the Phoenix program. I posted all those documents online at Cryptocomb, along with the taped interviews with Brickham, Colby, Parker and several other CIA and military officers. They are part of the collection titled The CIA Speaks. I put them online so my critics can’t challenge me on the facts, other than by making up things, which they do all the time. I just quoted from these documents and my interviews. So it’s accurate reporting.2
    “Following its ignoble defeat in Vietnam, America was driven by a reactionary impulse to reassert its global dominance. The justifications used to rationalize Phoenix were institutionalized as policy, as became evident after 9/11 and the initiation of the War on Terror.”
    TRACY: There is a Douglas Valentine Collection at the National Security Archives at George Washington University.
    DOUG: Yes, the collection contains my interview notes with close to 100 CIA officers and military officers involved in the Phoenix program. People kept referring me to people, and I made some great connections. I met a guy named Tullius Acampora who recently passed away; he was in his nineties. He’d been an army counterintelligence officer and worked for General Douglas MacArthur in Shanghai after World War Two. When the CIA was formed, Tully, like many army counterintelligence officers, started working with the counterintelligence staff at the CIA. He was detailed to the CIA. Although he kept his military rank, Tully was a CIA officer for many years. He went to Italy in 1958 and met and worked closely with Bureau of Narcotics agents in Rome. In the 50s and 60s, federal narcotic agents spent half their time doing favors for the CIA, and in exchange the CIA gave them intelligence on the mobsters they were going after.
    Tully was sent to Vietnam in 1966 and was involved in one of the “anti-infrastructure” programs that Phoenix was based upon. Tully’s program was called Cong Tac IV and, like Phoenix, it targeted civilians who were functioning as secret agents for the Viet Cong. When the CIA and military created Phoenix, Evan Parker moved into Tully’s office. Tully knew the top Vietnamese officials and CIA officers in Vietnam, and he also knew the Italian Americans who were prominent in the Bureau of Narcotics and later the DEA. Tully and I became personal friends and he introduced me to senior people from the Bureau of Narcotics and the DEA.
    Senior CIA officer Evan Parker, director of the Phoenix Program (1967-1969) and senior CIA officer John Mason, his replacement, with US and Vietnamese Phung Hoang officers. Photo credit: Quora

    The same way I had entrée through Colby into the CIA, I had an entrée through Tully into federal drug law enforcement at a high level. I met historically important people and got historically important documents, most of it new history. I haven’t gotten around to digitizing the tapes of the federal drug law enforcement officers I interviewed, but there are separate collections at the National Security Archive, for both my CIA/Phoenix program materials and my federal drug law enforcement materials.
    “By the time America invaded Iraq in 2003, reporters were embedded in military units. The media became a PR unit of the military and the CIA, with the Orwellian result that the public did not see images of the mangled bodies.”
    TRACY: I’m wondering how the former governor of Pennsylvania and Bush administration officer, Tom Ridge, fits into all this. Was he not involved in Operation Phoenix?
    DOUG: I’m not sure about Ridge. He was in an infantry unit in Vietnam from late 1969 into 1970. He worked in a team with four Americans and seven Vietnamese soldiers going after insurgents, not North Vietnamese regulars. So he was part of the pacification program. He got a bronze star for killing a young man carrying a sack of potatoes. He may have been a sniper and he may have been involved in one of the programs Phoenix coordinated, but it doesn’t seem like he was a Phoenix adviser.
    Ridge had been a governor and had executive management experience when he was appointed to run the Office of Homeland Security and later the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He was a political cadre who could be trusted to implement Republican Party policy.
    At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security was based on the Phoenix program model Nelson Brickham developed in Vietnam. Ridge may have had some related pacification experience, which is what homeland security is; but he certainly understood how to manage organizations. The key word is coordination. When the National Security Establishment wanted to centralize the war on terror here in the United States, through the DHS, they copied how Phoenix had coordinated multiple agencies in order to streamline and bureaucratize the war against the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI).
    Homeland Security’s first Secretary, Tom Ridge, speaks with employees during the first days of the Agency. Photo credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection / Flickr

    Phoenix proved an incredibly successful model for pacification in South Vietnam. It was the silver lining in the Vietnam War. Politically the war was a disaster, but bureaucratically the Phoenix program succeeded. It became the model for CIA operations in Central America — the Salvador Option.
    The Phoenix program established Intelligence Operations and Coordinating Centers in the provinces and districts (PIOCCs and DIOCCs) of South Vietnam. Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security has created “fusion centers” in every state and major city across the country. The fusion centers coordinate all the agencies in an area exactly like IOCCs did in Vietnam; systematized and computerized, they coordinate contributing intelligence analysts and operating units. It’s the same highly bureaucratized system for dispensing with anything and anyone who can’t be assimilated.
    TRACY: That’s an ominous set of observations for someone who has studied the Phoenix program in such great depth. You are saying the Phoenix template is something that has been grafted onto the American homeland.
    “Since Iran Contra, the bureaucracies have instituted incredible obstacles that make it impossible for people to see what’s going on inside their private club. The public is totally reliant now on whistleblowers.”
    DOUG: Absolutely. And I’m not the only one that talks about it. David Kilcullen was a counter insurgency adviser to the Bush and Obama administrations and in 2004 he called for a global Phoenix operation.3
    Tom Hayden described Kilcullen as the “chief adviser on counterinsurgency operations” to General David Petraeus “in planning the 2007 US troop surge (in Iraq). He also served as chief strategist in the State Department’s counterterrorism office in 2005 and 2006, and has been employed in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia. In the section titled ‘A Global Phoenix Program’ in his 2004 article, Kilcullen describes the Vietnam Phoenix program as ‘unfairly maligned’ and ‘highly effective.’ Dismissing CIA sponsorship and torture allegations as ‘popular mythology,’ Kilcullen calls Phoenix a misunderstood ‘civilian aid and development program’ that was supported by ‘pacification’ operations to disrupt the Vietcong, whose infrastructure ruled vast swaths of rural South Vietnam. A ‘global Phoenix program,’ he wrote, would provide a starting point for dismantling the worldwide jihadist infrastructure today.”4
    TRACY: How did Kilcullen want to see a Phoenix program imposed upon the world?
    DOUG: If he understood it correctly, he’d know that the strength of the Phoenix program was in the IOCC centers, which allowed for political control. Through a network of Phoenix centers, management is able to control targeting and messaging. I imagine Kilcullen wanted such highly bureaucratized centers set up in or near nations in which the CIA and military are hunting terrorists. Such centers would allow the White House to direct the CIA to direct the military to target the right terrorists. Leave ours alone.
    Most-wanted Iraqi playing cards.
    Photo credit: Brakeet / Wikimedia (CC0 1.0)

    Seymour Hersh is always looked to for insight into the CIA. In December 2003 he wrote an article in The New Yorker in which he said the Special Operations people in the military were going to use Phoenix as a model in Iraq.5 True to his high-toned style, Hersh focused on the sensational “death squad” aspect of Phoenix, not the revealing organizational aspect. He keeps the focus narrow.
    Phoenix is greater than the sum of its parts because it has symbolic meaning. But its lurid aspects — like the death squads Hersh emphasizes — grab everyone’s attention. In Iraq, the CIA handed out decks of “playing” cards featuring pictures of “High Value” Sunni officials in the Saddam Hussein government. That psywar gimmick and jargon was right out of the Phoenix program.
    The purpose of the Phoenix program was to “neutralize” the civilian members of the underground revolutionary government in South Vietnam. Neutralize was a broad term that included a number of measures. The first step was to identity a suspected subversive. After that, Nelson Brickham, the CIA officer who created Phoenix in 1967, explained the process to me as follows: “My motto was to recruit them; if you can’t recruit them, defect them (that’s Chieu Hoi); if you can’t defect them, capture them; if you can’t capture them, kill them. That was my attitude toward high-level VCI.”
    “The pressures the CIA imposes on the media amounts to political warfare directed against the American public. It’s no different than how the CIA mounts counter-subversion operations overseas.”
    VCI was the acronym for Viet Cong Infrastructure — the name the CIA gave to the members of the revolutionaries’ underground government and guerrilla support system.
    As part of its Congressional mandate, the CIA has the job of counter-subversion outside the United States. Thus, when the US is waging a counter-insurgency in a nation like Iraq or Afghanistan, the CIA pursues a political order of battle, while the US armed forces pursue a military order of battle. In practice, however, counter-subversion during a counter-insurgency is a paramilitary police function. Thus, in South Vietnam, the US military supported the CIA’s Phoenix program with troops and equipment.
    In 1969, the CIA ostensibly turned the Phoenix program over to the US military, at which point soldiers first began to pursue a political order of battle and conduct systematic counter-subversive operations against foreign civilians. The creation of Phoenix was a watershed. Prior to it, military people were only allowed to target civilians if they were secret agents or guerillas attacking military bases or personnel. But in its fanatical pursuit of victory in Vietnam, the military deliberately blurred the lines between subversives and innocent civilians, and killed anyone who got in the way, including children, like it did at My Lai and a thousand other places.
    Following its ignoble defeat in Vietnam, America was driven by a reactionary impulse to reassert its global dominance. The justifications used to rationalize Phoenix were institutionalized as policy, as became evident after 9/11 and the initiation of the War on Terror. Since then the CIA and US military have been conducting joint Phoenix-style operations worldwide without any compunctions, most prominently in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    Original unissued patch for the Phoenix Program. Photo credit: Tuxxmeister / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Also evolving was the relationship between the CIA, the military and the media. In Vietnam, there was more press freedom and the carnage was filmed and shown on TV every night. But the CIA and military felt those images turned the public against the war, so by the time America invaded Iraq in 2003, reporters were embedded in military units. The media became a PR unit of the military and the CIA, with the Orwellian result that the public did not see images of the mangled bodies. The public was denied access to the truth of what its government was actually doing, and when Chelsea Manning leaked the Collateral Murder video to Wikileaks, she was summarily tried and imprisoned.6
    When I was doing my interviews for The Phoenix Program, certain CIA people would tell me how a particular correspondent from CBS or The New York Times would come into their offices and ask about the programs they managed. The CIA officers would talk openly about their operations, but the Vietnam-era correspondents wouldn’t publish the details, because their editors had a gentlemen’s agreement with the CIA not to reveal the secrets. They could know the secrets and as long as they didn’t reveal them, they could continue to have access.
    “As power gets more concentrated in the security services, the media is no longer simply compliant, it’s functioning as their public relations arm. It simply ignores anything that contradicts the official line.”
    While I was researching Phoenix, I went to people like Seymour Hersh and Gloria Emerson but they wouldn’t talk to me. I had a harder time getting reporters to talk to me than I did CIA people, because as soon as they expressed any knowledge about Phoenix, the follow up question was: Why weren’t you writing about it? Then they’d have to reveal this gentlemen’s agreement with the CIA.
    The “old boy” network existed in Vietnam but it’s gotten a lot worse; it’s impossible now for anyone to interview mid-level CIA people on the record and reveal the facts. Since Iran Contra, the bureaucracies have instituted incredible obstacles that make it impossible for people to see what’s going on inside their private club. The public is totally reliant now on whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, who are then vilified, imprisoned, and/or chased into exile.
    TRACY: We see what, for example, happened to Gary Webb in the mid-1990s. He had some people who had divulged significant information to him and yet the CIA denied it, and that more or less cost him his career. He had no one, no colleagues of his, who actually went to bat for him to any significant degree to keep him in the industry because what he was doing is what investigative journalists and historians, such as you, should be doing.
    DOUG: Yes. Gary Webb was an investigative journalist whose “Dark Alliance” series in 1996 exposed the link between the CIA’s “Contras” in Central America and a crack cocaine dealer in Los Angeles. The story rattled the CIA. Members of the black community were up in arms. Then the CIA’s old boy network sprang into action and Webb was nitpicked to death by fellow journalists for minor inaccuracies in his work. But his real sin was revealing the CIA’s criminal involvement in systematic racial oppression through the war on drugs.
    Webb committed suicide in 2004. But he wasn’t the first American citizen to be attacked for telling the truth about the CIA’s central role in drug trafficking. In his 1972 book The Politics in Heroin in Southeast Asia, Al McCoy detailed much of the CIA’s drug network in Vietnam and the Golden Triangle region of Laos, Burma and Thailand. When the CIA found out what McCoy was doing, one of its most senior executives, Cord Meyer, tried to get McCoy’s publisher to suppress the book. When that didn’t work, the CIA tapped McCoy’s phone and the IRS audited his income tax. Behind the scenes, the CIA forced McCoy’s sources to recant. The famous Church Committee, which exposed a lot of the CIA’s secrets, investigated McCoy’s allegations and found the CIA innocent of any involvement in drug trafficking. McCoy moved to Australia and didn’t return to America for eleven years.

    The CIA’s control of international drug trafficking is America’s darkest secret, and after the Webb scandal, the old boy network imposed even more restrictions on the media. The pressures the CIA imposes on the media amounts to political warfare directed against the American public. It’s no different than how the CIA mounts counter-subversion operations overseas.
    Nowadays, the only way you can discern what’s going on is by studying and understanding the historical arc of these bureaucracies. Where did the CIA come from? Where is it going? If you look at it historically, you can see beyond the spin and it becomes de-mystified. And that is not a happy story. As power gets more concentrated in the security services, the media is no longer simply compliant, it’s functioning as their public relations arm. It simply ignores anything that contradicts the official line.
    TRACY: There is almost a complete blackout of Jade Helm in the mainstream media. It is only getting coverage and discussion and analysis in the alternative media.
    DOUG: Yes. Jade Helm was a military training exercise in Texas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Utah. Military and local officials set up Phoenix-style coordination centers, as a way of giving Special Operations and “Civil Affairs” personnel experience working with para-militarized police forces in what was called a realistic “war experience” in domestic counter-insurgency operations. The media blackout was an essential part of the plan. The censorship was symbolic of how, as a function of the concentration of capital, the communications/media industry has been centralized and is now part of the political warfare apparatus. The media industry has been reduced to a few huge corporations that control most of the outlets. Control of information has become the key to the oligarchy’s success. Very few independent news organizations are able to compete with the giants, or get information out across the country, so people really have to search for facts on the Internet.
    TRACY: Even some of the alternative progressive left media that were good twenty or so years ago are increasingly dependent upon foundation money that comes with strings attached, and they’re not as inclined to push the envelope as I think they once were.
    DOUG: Sure. As a person who is interested in how the CIA uses language and mythology to control political and social movements, I see this development as ominous. People like Glenn Greenwald who take money from billionaires insist it has no editorial influence on them. But media people who are taking money from billionaires and CIA-connected foundations must realize that their sugar daddies can sink their operations in a moment because of something they write, and that knowledge surely impacts what they are willing to do and say.
    Taking money from a billionaire also has tremendous symbolic meaning. It means the person taking the money approves of one person having eight billion dollars when three billion people barely survive. Through their example, celebrity media figures like Greenwald are telling their followers that they support the exploitation and imperialism their benefactors engage in.
    As all advertising people know, symbolic messages don’t have to be articulated, they’re understood subliminally. Greenwald’s followers like it that way. It means they don’t have to consciously confront their tacit support for an unjust system. That self-censorship allows celebrity journalists like Greenwald and his sidekick Jeremy Scahill to promote themselves as heroic adversaries of the system. And they’ll continue to get away with the double game until their followers start challenging their own basic assumptions. The system will never change until people climb out of their comfortable darkness and start rejecting the system’s inequalities, instead of just feeding off of them.
    Endnotes


    1. Phoenix is Phụng Hoàng in Vietnamese.

    2. <http://www.cryptocomb.org/Phoenix%20Tapes.html>

    3. See David Kilcullen, “Countering Global Insurgency”, Small Wars Journal, September-November 2004.

    4. Tom Hayden, “Reviving Vietnam War Tactics”, The Nation, 13 March

    5. Seymour Hersh, “Moving Targets: Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Vietnam?”, The New Yorker, 15 December 2003. Hersh said, “According to official South Vietnamese statistics, Phoenix claimed nearly forty-one thousand victims between 1968 and 1972; the US counted more than twenty thousand in the same time Span.”

    6.<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0>


    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  4. Default

    "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

    "We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl

  5. #1035

    Default


    • Brett Kavanaugh said he would kill Roe v. Wade last week and almost no one noticed

    Even before Kavanaugh became a Supreme Court nominee, his record indicated fairly clearly that he opposes Roe.
    Please pay attention, Susan Collins.


    IAN MILLHISERSEP 9, 2018, 11:03 AM

    Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh needs to give Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) plausible deniability regarding his anti-abortion views. Collins, who is nominally pro-choice, said shortly before Kavanaugh’s nomination that a Supreme Court nominee “who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me.” But she’s spent much of the time since his nomination looking for excuses to claim that Kavanaugh’s views on Roe are uncertain.
    Well, they aren’t. Even before Kavanaugh became a Supreme Court nominee, his record indicated fairly clearly that he opposes Roe. And he cleared up any remaining doubt on the second day of his confirmation hearing — despite the fact that almost no one noticed.



    BREAKING: Brett Kavanaugh thinks that Sen. Susan Collins is stupid



    Even before his hearing, Kavanaugh’s views on abortion weren’t exactly a state secret. He gave a speech to a conservative think tank in 2017 praising Justice William Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe v. Wade, and he wrote an opinion arguing that the Trump administration could temporarily imprison undocumented women who were seeking an abortion.
    Kavanaugh’s 2017 speech, when laid alongside a statement he made during his confirmation hearing, eliminates any doubt that he opposes Roe.
    The judge made this statement during an exchange with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) regarding “the foundations of the unenumerated rights doctrine.” The term “unenumerated rights” refers to rights, such as the right to an abortion, which are not explicitly named in the Constitution’s text, but which the Supreme Court has held to be implicit in that text.
    According to Kavanaugh, “all roads lead to the Glucksberg test as the test that the Supreme Court has settled on as the proper test” to determine the scope of these unenumerated rights.
    Glucksberg” means Washington v. Glucksberg, a 1997 Supreme Court decision holding that the Constitution does not protect a right to physician-assisted suicide. According to Chief Justice Rehnquist’s opinion for the Court in Glucksberg, the question of which unenumerated rights are protected by the Constitution should be answered by asking which rights are “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”
    We don’t have to guess, however, whether Judge Kavanaugh thinks that a constitutional right to abortion is grounded in this Glucksberg test, because he’s already answered that question. As law professor Jim Oleske points out on Twitter, Kavanaugh said in his 2017 speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute that “even a first-year law student could tell you that the Glucksberg’s approach to unenumerated rights was not consistent with the approach of the abortion cases such as Roe vs. Wade in 1973, as well as the 1992 decision reaffirming Roe, known as Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.”
    So, to spell this all out, Kavanaugh believes that the way to determine whether the Constitution protects a particular unenumerated right is to apply the test the Supreme Court laid out in Glucksberg. And the judge also thinks that “even a first-year law student could tell you” that Roe is inconsistent with Glucksberg.
    It doesn’t take the brains of a fourth-term United States senator from Maine to figure out what this means if Kavanaugh is confirmed. Judge Kavanaugh will be the fifth vote to kill Roe if he joins the nation’s highest Court.



    Yes, Susan Collins, Brett Kavanaugh will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade



    For what it’s worth, Kavanaugh’s statement that “all roads lead to the Glucksbergtest as the test that the Supreme Court has settled on as the proper test” is incorrect. As law professor Jamal Greene first pointed out on Twitter, Glucksbergwas “explicitly disavowed in Obergefell,” the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality decision.
    According to Obergefell, Glucksberg “is inconsistent with the approach this Court has used in discussing other fundamental rights, including marriage and intimacy.”
    Kavanaugh’s apparent endorsement of Glucksberg as the sole test for determining unenumerated rights, in other words, threatens a whole lot more than the right to an abortion. It also suggests that he believes that a wide range of Supreme Court decisions governing sex, romantic relationships, and intimacy were wrongly decided.
    Judge Kavanaugh appears to be telegraphing his belief that Roe, Obergefell, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which provides that the government cannot prosecute consenting adults for having sex, were not correctly decided.




    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  6. #1036

    Default Kavanaugh

    In my opinion, Kavanaugh appears to be as crooked as a dog's hind leg. Would it be possible to do worse than Kavanaugh? Hard to see how!!!

    James Lateer

  7. #1037

    Default FBI, Trump, Russians

    At the risk of suggesting something that would get me run out of most towns on a rail, I have to state what I feel is the emerging factual reality in the US:

    In the investigation of Trump by the Obama holdovers and Bush "never-Trumpers", it is becoming increasingly obvious that Trump is holding up very, very well under the intense criminal investigations directed against him.

    It is looking increasingly like there were serious crimes commited against Trump by the Obama White House, and of course we know about the GW Bush horrendous record of breaking every International Law in sight.

    It seems to be emerging as an uncontrovertible fact that of the past three Presidents, the only one who they can't find a single crime on is Trump.

    I'm sorry to have to be the bearer of the bad news to the Anti-Trump Crack-heads, but these are the emerging facts: the assumption that all billionaires have to, but their very nature, run afoul of criminal laws in some way may be disproven in the case of Trump.

    My own opinion is that Trump learned the lesson long ago, the lesson which is learned by the best CEO's under whom I have worked over the years. That is, consult your lawyers and there are always enough loopholes available that you don't have to break laws--you can just bend them and do just fine.

    The sad, sad fact is that apparently OBama, (even though he was the first Constitutional Law Professor President as well as the first African-American President), set a very low standard for observing the Civil Rights of other people as well as a very low standard in defending the Bill of Rights. I canvassed for Obama and was an Obama supporter.

    Oh, well. Life is full of little disappointments.

    James Lateer

  8. #1038

    Default

    Holocaust Memorial in Boston, MA.



    A country does not have to be fascist or have a fascist government in order to be riddled with fascist politics. This is the scary premise Jason Stanley argues in his recent book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them. Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale University, is Jeff Schechtman’s guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast.
    Stanley reminds us that while 63 million Americans voted for President Donald Trump, a man who taps into America’s worst impulses, historically there is nothing new about the kind of politics he exploits. The attacks on immigrants, the media, cities, elites, and minorities, and the promise to weed out corruption, are all straight out of the fascist playbook.
    Stanley talks to Schechtman about what he believes are the ten pillars of fascist politics:

    the mythic past,
    propaganda,
    anti-intellectualism,
    unreality,
    hierarchy,
    victimhood,
    law and order,
    obedience to the singular leader,
    sexual anxiety,
    appeals to the homeland.


    He explains how fascists have consistently used these elements to sow division and gain power.

    We are reminded in this conversation that the US is just as susceptible to fascist politics as Europe or anywhere else. Fascism, Stanley explains, is rooted in the struggle for “the national state” — a struggle fueled by a sense of loss for an idyllic past, which all but demands scapegoating of those “responsible” for that loss. It’s about, as Stanley puts it, weaponizing nostalgia.
    Another key to fascism, as detailed by Stanley, is that it almost always wins by means of democratic elections. He points out that Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels observed that the great joke on democracy is that its very freedoms lead to the victory of its worst enemy.
    As Stanley speculates on the future, his greatest fear is that the US is evolving into a one-party state through a perversion of democracy. He singles out candidates like Brian Kemp in Georgia and Kris Kobach in Kansas, who are stoking fear of “others” to create an anti-democratic backlash — and who are masters of voter suppression of non-white voters. He then explains the path that runs from voter suppression to the public’s feeling of hopelessness for democracy, and eventually to the collapse of democracy itself.
    Stanley’s is a cautionary tale, taken straight from today’s headlines.

    Listen to interview at ==> http://traffic.libsyn.com/whowhatwhy...w_with_mxr.mp3
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 09-22-2018 at 11:07 AM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  9. #1039

    Default Who Wrote the NYT Op-Ed?


    DON FOSTER

    SEPTEMBER 20, 2018 10:00AM (UTC)

    This article has been updated to reflect new information about the Sept. 4 flight to New Delhi. The author thanks a source aboard the flight for corrections to the timeline.On Aug. 10, 2017, Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of Axios wrote a story about a close group of Washington insiders — senior officers who sought quietly to restrain President Trump from his worst inclinations, and thereby shield the nation from disaster. VandeHei and Allen named the unsung heroes, dubbing them the “Committee to Save America”: White House chief of staff John Kelly; National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster; Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford; economic adviser Gary Cohn; and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell.
    Ten days later, Allen provided an update: “Why they stay.” On the heels of Trump’s Charlottesville debacle (when he praised at least some neo-Nazis as “very fine people”), Axios spoke with half a dozen unnamed senior administration officials, to ask them why they didn’t resign from the administration. Their answers, briefly paraphrased: “You have no idea how much crazy stuff we kill.” “Gen. Mattis needs us.” “Trump's not as evil as portrayed.”
    On Aug. 23, 2017, columnist Roger Cohen wrote in the New York Times about “Trump’s Afghan Illusions,” leading off with a fly-on-the wall point of view:

    Here was Donald Trump tethered by his generals. The new-old Afghan war strategy set out by the president Monday night contained a Trump line or two — terrorists as “losers, the nixing of “nation-building” — but was the work of the adults in the room. They forced the commander-in-chief to curtail his wilder instincts. [Emphasis added.]
    That same day, Trump provided his own fresh example of the reported dynamic. Fuming over North Korea’s latest missile launch, he tweeted, “Talking is not the answer!” The president implied his readiness to bomb North Korea into radioactive dust. His fingers itched to be on that big red button.
    Without mentioning the president, Mattis promptly issued a public statement. “We’re never out of diplomatic solutions,” he said.
    A week later, Gregg Jaffe and Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post identified Mattis as Trump’s most canny adult-in-the-room:
    Away from the cameras and apart from the nonstop drama of the White House, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has come to play a role unlike any other Cabinet member. The retired Marine general has become a force for calm, order and, in the eyes of the president's critics, quiet resistance to some of President Trump's most combative and divisive instincts…. [Emphasis added.]
    * * *

    Fast forward to Sept. 5, 2018 — one year after VandeHei and Allen first identified “the adults in the room” — when the New York Times published a scathing indictment of Donald Trump’s leadership from inside the administration. James Dao, the paper’s op-ed editor, identified the author as “a senior official ... whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.”

    Since 1996, when I said that Joe Klein was the "Anonymous" who wrote the novel “Primary Colors” and he said he wasn't, I seem to be the go-to guy for saying who wrote what. Usually it's the police or Department of Justice who ring me up, not the press. But with a puzzle like the Times op-ed, journalists may want to know whodunit. Within days, my email inbox was stuffed with queries, asking me to identify the author. But contrary to reports, I have no "computer program" to identify anonymous authors. It's hard work, fraught with perils, and I'm retired. I opened a few of the messages, retained a few, deleted the rest. I saw no upside to getting involved. Like everyone else though, my curiosity was hooked.
    On the evening after the Times op-ed hit the internet, Donald Trump was still so upset by it that his anxiety produced a hilarious Freudian slip. Speaking Thursday evening to a pro-Trump crowd in Montana, he proclaimed:
    The latest “act of resistance” is the op-ed published by the failing New York Times, by an anominous — really, an ominous, gutless — coward. You just look. He was — nobody knows just who the hell he is, or she, although they put he, but probably that’s a little disguise, that means it’s she. But for the sake of our ... national security, the New York Times should publish his name at once. I think their reporters should go and investigate who it is, that would actually be a good scoop.

    A good scoop indeed, so let the guessing game begin!
    * * *
    For convenience, let’s just reference the author — him or her — as “Anonymous,” with a politically incorrect masculine pronoun to signify either him, her or they.
    The first question to ask is not Who wrote it? but rather, Who is the “I” of the narrative? The two questions are not, as most laymen assume, identical. In literary studies, we make a useful distinction between “the I of the narrative” on the one hand (the speaking subject within the text, whether fictional or autobiographical, male or female, left or right) and the “I of the text” on the other (the author or authors who produced the document).
    The initial project is therefore not to identify the author, but to determine, Who in hell does Anonymous think he is? And that question is easy to answer, because he tells us:
    It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t. [Emphasis added.]
    The I of the narrative has spoken: Remember that Roger Cohen op-ed, a year ago? Cohen understands me. I am one of the senior officials whom he had in mind.
    Anonymous continues:
    … many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [Trump's] agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them. … Having provided quiet resistance to the erosion of our great democracy, my duty now compels me to speak. [Emphasis added.]
    Remember the pieces, same month, by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen? By Jaffee and Lamothe? Well, I can tell you: They, too, were right on the money.
    By echoing their language, Anonymous proclaims himself to be numbered among those whom VandeHei and Allen called the unofficial Committee to Save America — though he may, of course, be lying.
    * * *
    Dan Bloom, a producer for the podcast company Panoply, was among the first to name a person of interest, by honing in on what seemed like an unusual word choice. The op-ed writer calls the late Sen. John McCain a “lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue.” Searching online archives for any official in the White House who has used lodestar, Bloom found several instances in public orations by Vice President Mike Pence. From that, he made the obvious inference — that Anonymous may be a speechwriter for Mike Pence, or the V.P. himself.
    Not so fast. ProQuest Congressional (the only comprehensive database of congressional documents) returns 445 hits for “lodestar,” and the Government Publishing Office returns 690, all but a few of which are by someone else — as in the 2006 Senate hearings on human rights and torture, in which Pence receives no mention while McCain, Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Mattis are mutually praised for endorsing “the UCMJ and the Geneva Conventions,” which “should again become the lodestar.”
    The use of a single word is not “evidence.” It’s just clickbait. I mean, c’mon: Mike Pence?! He would sooner clean Donald Trump’s golf shoes, with his own tongue, than write such stuff as that op-ed. “Lodestar,” and the vice president’s supposed fondness for the word, gets us nowhere.
    But what other words matter, if any? Most of the words and phrases in the op-ed are commonplace, language used by all of us, on occasion or even daily. Anonymous may be a rotten speller or have quirky punctuation — evidence that could be extremely helpful in determining a match — but all that evidence gets wiped out by copy editors.
    William Saletan in Slate published his own theory — focused on ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman — citing a vague thematic parallel between the op-ed and a letter to the editor Huntsman wrote to the Salt Lake Tribune in July. He also points out that last year, "at his confirmation hearing, Huntsman repeatedly denounced Russia’s ‘malign activity,’” drawing a connection to Anonymous’ use of “malign behavior” in the op-ed.
    First off, I have examined the hearing transcript in full: It contains one "malign activity," by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and one "malign influence," by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., but none of either by Huntsman. Huntsman did go on to use the phrase in media appearances, but “malign activity” appears more than 100 times in the Congressional Record for 2017-2018 alone. And again, a single word doesn’t count as solid evidence. Same for Saletan’s riff on Huntsman’s “moorings,” “impetuous” and “inclination.”
    It doesn’t work to begin with a suspect and then look for evidence to support the hypothesis. That way lies madness. To narrow the field, I have examined the language of every plausible candidate — including Pence, Mattis, Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA deputy director Vaughn Bishop, White House political director Bill Stepien, Nick Ayers, who is Mike Pence’s chief of staff, and Andrew Bremberg, who is an assistant to the president.
    Based on that research, a few two-word phrases are of interest. Citing John McCain’s farewell letter to America, Anonymous praises the fallen hero’s commitment to shared values. But he’s winging it: neither word, shared or values, actually appears in McCain’s letter.
    In his duties as secretary of defense since January 2017, Mattis has often been called upon to address foreign dignitaries, at home and abroad. On nearly every such occasion, he has underscored America’s “shared values” with other democratic nations. But consider the context. Mattis has been put in an awkward position. Our president has been hurling insults at our allies while praising such autocrats and dictators as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Rodrigo Duterte. Our closest allies now fear that America may no longer be willing to lead the free world, honor joint defense agreements, support free trade or even defend democracy itself without reimbursement. Under such circumstances, what responsible and patriotic defense secretary would notreassure our allies of our “shared values”?
    Another, possibly more seductive, clue: Anonymous, expressing his dismay over what he calls Trump’s “amorality,” alleges that “Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision-making.”
    During his first 20 months in office, Defense Secretary Mattis has frequently called for a return to the “first principles” upon which our nation and his own personal code of honor were founded: “I like going back to first principles” … “if you go back to first principles” … “It's good to go back to first principles.” … “pause and recall first principles.” Again and again: “just a reminder, sometimes, to go back to first principles.
    That doesn’t mean Mattis is Anonymous, but if asked he would surely applaud the writer’s commitment to doing what’s right, in accord with first principles and shared values.
    * * *
    Our next clue actually comes from one of the passages Saletan focused on, when a horrified Anonymous speaks of Russia’s “malign behavior” (every reported instance of which Donald Trump has denied or excused). The word “malign” by itself couldn’t tell us much, but the exact two-word phrase from the op-ed is of interest.
    Digital archives turn up fewer than 20 leaders in Washington whose use of “malign behavior” appears in the official records of the United States government during the Trump era. Most (including Mattis) use it in reference to Iran. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., mentions the “malign behavior” of North Korea. Twelve speakers note the “malign behavior” of Russia. These are Rex Tillerson (secretary of state until he was fired); Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Massachusetts State Sen. Jim Welch; Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; retired Army Gen. Jack Keane; Assistant Secretary of State Yleem Poblete; and an anonymous but identifiable “senior administration official” (on Aug. 30, 2018) — one mention each.
    Both Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis have used the phrase repeatedly in reference to Russia, as in this representative instance in a July 2018 letter from the secretary of defense to his friend and ally John McCain: “Russia should suffer consequences for its aggressive, destabilizing behavior,” writes Mattis. But “as we impose necessary and well-deserved costs for their malign behavior,” the State Department must also be given waiver authority; else the sanctions risk “boxing us in.” (Emphasis added.)
    Still, even put together, “malign behavior,” “shared values” and “first principles” (and “robust military,” a Mattis favorite) don’t rise to the level of proof.
    * * *
    Rare words and phrases may be especially telling when they point to what a person of interest has been reading.
    Take “tribalism trap,” one of two really unusual phrases in the op-ed. This is the first time that exact phrase has appeared in the pages of the Times in the newspaper’s entire 167-year history.
    Anonymous writes: “Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation” (emphasis added).
    Here’s what McCain actually wrote: “We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe.”
    McCain’s own phrase, “tribal rivalries,” appears fairly often in the Congressional Record, chiefly in reference to tribal conflict in developing nations. But “tribalism trap” is so rare a term that one must search far and wide to find a second instance. Donald Trump would doubtless say that someone just made it up. And in fact, someone did. The phrase can be traced to James A. Thompson, a young scholar who in 1987 set out to explain how social entrapment, strong identification with one’s tribe, can perpetuate military competitiveness and create among hostile nations a disincentive to disarmament (“Tribalism and the Arms Race”).
    Thompson’s essay was accepted for publication in 1987 but went unpublished for 20 years; during which time, the Citations Index indicates only one other person who ever read it.
    The term pops up again in a 2016 essay, “Freedom of Expression and National Security” by Jacob Mchangama, the director of Justitia, a Copenhagen think tank. Mchangama considers “the issue of freedom of expression and national security, which easily falls into the ‘tribalism trap’ that engulfs so many debates on free speech.”
    Does this mean our author is close with Thompson or Mchangama? No, but it suggests Anonymous may be conversant with even the most arcane scholarly literature concerning national security issues.
    Another oddity. Anonymous writes: “We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t. The result is atwo-track presidency” (emphasis added).
    This is a second phrase that appears in the Times for the first time in 167 years. Someone made up that phrase as well, and he can be safely identified. Ralph Nader — yes, that Ralph Nader — coined the term in 1977: “If the lessons of recent Washington history are to be heeded,” he wrote, “Jimmy Carter should be launching a two-track presidency.” (Nader goes on to explain: on one track, the president must address social ills; and on the other, build participatory democracy.)
    Nader again, in 1992: “If Clinton is serious about putting people first, he must pursue a two-track presidency”:Address problems. Build democracy.
    Nader again, in 2008: Obama’s goal “should be a two-track presidency, dealing with issues day to day, and strengthening the fiber of democratic society.”
    Following his failed presidential bid in 2004, Nader was asked what he would have done, had he actually been elected. Nader replied on the instant: “I would have developed a two-track presidency.”
    If, today, you Google the phrase two-track presidency, all hits will reference either Ralph Nader or the Times editorial. Next, try searching journalistic, academic and political databases. Same result. The one unexceptionable exception is a February 2001 op-ed by Richard Reeves, who borrows Nader’s signature phrase in order to poke fun at “Georgy Boy Bush, the giver of nicknames for all he meets.” The only other near-hit appears in the scholarship and journalism of Julian Zelizer, a highly distinguished professor of U.S. political history at Princeton University, who clearly adapted his term, “dual-track presidency,” from Nader.
    Ralph Nader did not just invent the phrase, “two-track presidency.” Ralph Nader owns it. So it’s a big surprise to find his private meme popping up in the Timesop-ed.
    Or maybe not such a surprise. The most underreported story of Jim Mattis’ remarkable career is that of his own abortive third-party run for president in early 2016. As Trump knocked off his GOP rivals one by one, a group of frustrated conservatives agreed that Mattis was the nation’s best and perhaps only viable alternative. Their dream ticket: Jim Mattis for president, Condoleezza Rice for V.P.
    Asked repeatedly by reporters about the effort, Mattis always demurred. But the speculation went on for long enough that it seems the general at minimum gave the prospect real consideration, before he finally squashed the possibility more than two months after the speculation gained steam.
    Jim Mattis often told his own Marines to read widely, taking something useful from everything they read, as per his own practice. If one were considering a third-party run for president, wouldn’t one of the first lines of research be the campaigns of previous third-party candidates? In his op-ed for the Times,Anonymous takes Nader’s metaphor as a figure for a political train wreck: “we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t. The result is a two-track presidency.”
    Anonymous may not be running for president, but it does looks as if he has spent some time reading Nader.
    * * *
    Let’s turn to a question asked by the president after the op-ed was published: “Notice timing?”
    Or to put it another way: Why now? Why Sept. 5, 2018?
    One answer: With the death and burial of John McCain, Anonymous has lost a friend and ally in a time of crisis, another member of the “resistance” and one whose honor, decency, independence of mind and love for America must be suffered deeply as a loss. White House observers have noted that Donald Trump in recent weeks has seemed increasingly isolated, alienated, alone. He may not be the only one in the White House who feels that way.
    Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” is another, perhaps more urgent, prompt for Anonymous to speak. Various members of the so-called Committee to Save America may stand exposed and vulnerable to censure for having spoken too freely to Woodward concerning the lunatic in the Oval Office.
    The Washington Post released its excerpts from the book at 6 a.m. on Sept. 4. Among those caught blushing were John F. Kelly, who is quoted calling the president an “idiot,” and Mattis, who is said to have said Trump has the understanding of a “fifth- or sixth-grader.”
    In an 11 a.m. statement put out by the White House, Kelly issued a flat denial: “The idea I ever called the president ‘an idiot’ is not true. In fact it's exactly the opposite.” He added, “He and I both know this story is total BS.”
    That’s him, all right. Last April, NBC reported that Kelly had said to his aides, many times, that women are more emotional than men. Kelly issued a statement: “I spend more time with the president than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS.”
    When the Woodward story broke, Mattis could not be reached: He was over the Pacific, flying from San Diego to New Delhi, accompanied by Idrees Ali of Reuters, Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg and Ryan Browne of CNN. Shortly after takeoff, Mattis invited them up front for a press gaggle, with a live transcript being transmitted to Washington. AFP published excerpts at 5:11 p.m. Eastern time, and a full transcript on Sept. 5. Mattis spoke at length of India and our “shared values,” but made no mention of the Woodward book, nor was he asked about the scandalous quotations. The journalists on board knew nothing about it. Neither did Mattis.
    After the reporters retired to the rear of the jet, Mattis took a call, quite possibly from Gen. Joe Dunford, who was then in Islamabad with Mike Pompeo, secretary of state. The call concerned Mattis’ alleged remarks about the president.
    The Pentagon press office moved swiftly to contain the damage, issuing a denial in the secretary’s behalf.
    Statement by Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis
    Sept. 4, 2018
    News Release
    Release No: NR-256-18
    The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward's book were never uttered by me or in my presence. While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility.
    While responsible policy making in the real world is inherently messy, it is also essential that we challenge every assumption to find the best option. I embrace such debate and the open competition of ideas. In just over a year, these robust discussions and deliberations have yielded significant results, including the near annihilation of the ISIS caliphate, unprecedented burden sharing by our NATO allies, the repatriation of U.S. service member remains from North Korea, and the improved readiness of our armed forces. Our defense policies have also enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress.
    In serving in this administration, the idea that I would show contempt for the elected Commander-in-Chief, President Trump, or tolerate disrespect to the office of the President from within our Department of Defense, is a product of someone’s rich imagination.
    Trump tweeted the entire statement at 3:37 p.m., seven hours before Mattis and his entourage touched down on the tarmac at India’s Palam Airport. The statement was, of course, unsigned, having come from overseas.
    Ali, Browne and Capaccio learned of the Washington Post article after the press gaggle had ended. They were given a copy of the Mattis statement before landing in New Delhi. But they could not ask questions: Mattis was whisked away and declined to speak to his press entourage for the rest of the trip.
    On Sept. 11 a reporter from Task and Purpose was finally able to ask Mattis the inevitable question. Ryan Browne reports that Mattis replied: “Of all days, this is not a day to discuss politics.” Browne asked about the defense secretary’s relationship with the president. “No problem,” said Mattis. “It’s been the same all along.”
    Pentagon news release NR-256-18 may have been composed and dictated by Mattis while in flight. That middle paragraph — which deals with policy issues and has nothing whatever to do with the Woodward book — sure sounds like him. But the bookended denials, top and bottom, puzzle me. The denial may be exactly true: end of story. Or the Woodward quotations may be accurate, and Mattis’ memory faulty: an honorable lapse of memory. Woodward in “Fear” may have accurately quoted White House insiders who misquoted Mattis: a definite possibility.
    But what if the quotations, as read to Mattis over the telephone, were not identical to those in Woodward’s book? Woodward says you called Trump a liar and a f***ing moron. Mattis could deny the quotes in good faith; the Pentagon could save him from being fired; and Mattis would be unable later to walk back what he thought was a truthful denial – especially when he is now on record having described the alleged quotations as “contempt for the elected Commander in Chief.”
    Or what if a Pentagon spokesman pulled that middle paragraph from the secretary’s written reports, with the rest having been drafted on the secretary’s behalf for immediate release? — a “Mattis statement,” and then some!
    Such speculation is unfruitful.
    Now that the Pentagon has issued an unsigned statement in his behalf, I would not expect Mattis to issue another statement contradicting it. But let’s reserve our judgment about what Mattis thinks of Bob Woodward’s book until some lucky reporter gets the defense secretary to say in his own words that the unsigned denial ascribed to him is indeed his: that is, all three paragraphs.
    * * *
    At this point, I have mentioned a few reasons why Mattis may be Anonymous. And as I said, I’ve examined the language of the other likely candidates and found no similar connections.
    But here’s one reason Mattis may not be Anonymous. Why should anyone suspect Mattis’s authorship of the op-ed when he’s halfway around the world? Perhaps Mattis himself can help us out with that.
    We have for-the-record, first-person denials from other White House officials, high and low.
    Here is what we have heard about the op-ed controversy from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Not one word.
    On Sept. 6, while Mattis and Pompeo were in meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, press queries for Mattis were deflected to Tom Crosson, a deputy director of press operations for the Defense Department, who had this to say: “I can tell you that Secretary Mattis did not write the op-ed.”
    I don’t know Crosson, but this much we can say with certainty: Asked about Stormy Daniels, he can tell us that Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and Secretary Mattis did not have sex with that woman. He can tell us that Donald Trump does not have a tanning machine or a television in the White House. He can tell us that the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog and the cow jumped over the moon. Crosson is a press agent for the Pentagon. He can tell us anything he wants. That doesn’t mean we’re obliged to believe him.
    Pompeo, for his part, condemned both the author and the New York Times, saying that editors Dean Baquet and James Dao “should not have well chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive, bad actor’s word for anything.”
    Now that Mattis has returned from Asia and settled back into his Pentagon office, I can hardly wait until someone from the press — or Trump himself — interrogates him about the Times op-ed. If Mattis says yes, he may be fired. If he says no, he may be telling the truth. Or he may be lying. Or, if he has a good lawyer, he may well be advised to say, “I don’t recall.”
    * * *
    Donald Trump, president of the United States: “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”
    Others have said worse. Can any epithet be too harsh, too vile, too damning, for a White House insurgent? Shall not all Americans who are loyal to President Trump be outraged by one who would throw snowballs at the emperor’s unguarded fanny and yet not stand forth to be hanged, drawn and quartered?
    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump





    Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!
    1:40 AM - Sep 6, 2018



    Twitter Ads info and privacy







    Whatever else he may be, Anonymous clearly thinks himself a pretty good guy, a patriot and a protector of the nation. So the venom issuing from the White House may have made it much harder for him to 'fess up, especially if he truly isa gutless coward. In this toxic climate, what chicken-hearted wimp would dare step from the shadows and say: “Ecce Homo: Tis I”?
    If, however, Anonymous has a strong sense of personal honor, then those who have sullied his name and character should be prepared to duck.
    In 1804, Alexander Hamilton called Vice President Aaron Burr “a dangerous man, and one who ought not be trusted with the reins of government.” Burr, to defend his honor, challenged Hamilton to a duel, and shot him dead.
    In 1827, Sen. John Randolph accused Secretary of State Henry Clay of “crucifying the Constitution.” Clay challenged Randolph to a duel. Clay accepted. Both men fired and missed.
    Well, that was the 19th century. The big boys cannot be allowed to carry on like that anymore. But I’m sure of this: Jim Mattis doesn’t miss much.
    Jim Mattis would never shoot a fellow American for having insulted his intelligence, courage, logic or professionalism. A charge of “treason,” though, that’s harder to forgive. He’s no traitor. And he has a pretty vigorous support group. No living U.S. soldier commands more respect from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and from the rank and file than James “Mad Dog” Mattis. (A nickname the secretary reportedly dislikes, and that those close to him do not use.)
    If I were Donald Trump at this moment, I would not be worried about impeachment. I’d be sweating a military coup.


    DON FOSTER

    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  10. #1040

    Default

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has opened an investigation of President Trump for fraud and tax evasion, following a major exposé by The New York Times. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has also called for a city probe, and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden has urged the IRS to investigate the president.
    The Times revealed Trump inherited much of his family’s wealth through tax dodges and outright fraud, receiving at least $413 million—in inflation-adjusted dollars, that is—from his father’s real estate empire. The _Times_’ 13,000-word investigative report found the late Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion in wealth to their children, and much of it to Donald Trump, paying less than 5 percent of the $550 million in taxes they should have under inheritance tax rates. As part of a scheme to reduce taxes, Donald Trump also helped his parents undervalue real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars in IRS tax returns.
    AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times also reports Trump earned $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s companies beginning at the age of 3, with a salary that increased to $1 million a year after Trump graduated college and to $5 million a year when Trump was in his forties. Over the years, Trump has repeatedly portrayed himself as a self-made billionaire whose only head start was a “small loan of a million dollars,” he would say, from his father.
    DONALD TRUMP: It has not been easy for me. It has not been easy for me. And, you know, I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars. I came into Manhattan. And I had to pay him back, and I had to pay him back with interest. … He used to say, “Donald, don’t go into Manhattan. That’s the big leagues. We don’t know anything about that. Don’t do it.” I said, “Dad, I gotta go into Manhattan. I gotta build those big buildings.” … I built what I built myself, and I did it by working long hours and working hard and working smart. More importantly than anything else is by using my own brain. And there was a point where I was making so much so fast, and it was so easy, that I almost got bored. And it’s true. … I got a very, very small loan from my father many years ago. I built that into a massive empire. And I paid my father back that loan.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: On Wednesday, President Trump attacked The New York Times. He tweeted, quote, “The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. They used the concept of 'time value of money' in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me. Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!” he tweeted.
    AMY GOODMAN: The Times article was based on public records as well as tens of thousands of confidential documents, including bank statements, financial audits, accounting ledgers, cash disbursement reports, invoices, canceled checks. The documents include more than 200 tax returns of the late Fred Trump, but do include the president’s personal—they don’t include the president’s personal tax returns, which he has refused to release. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the article during Wednesday’s press briefing.
    PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: I’m not going to sit and go through every single line of a very boring 14,000-word story. The only thing—I will say one thing the article did get right was that it showed that the president’s father actually had a great deal of confidence in him. In fact, the president brought his father into a lot of deals, and they made a lot of money together, so much so that his father went on to say that everything he touched turned to gold. The president’s lawyer addressed some of the specific claims and walked through how the allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false and highly defamatory. There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. He went on much further, and I would encourage you to read every word of his statement, which completely undercuts the accusations made by The New York Times.
    AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined right now by David Barstow, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times, lead author on this new investigation revealing the original source of President Trump’s wealth. David Barstow shares a byline with Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner on The New York Times exclusive, “Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches from His Father.”
    Welcome to Democracy Now! So, you have been attacked by the White House for what you’ve done, the piece they call old and boring. Tell us first—I mean, this is a massive piece, which is being reissued on Sunday, is that right, by The New York Times?
    DAVID BARSTOW: Yeah.
    AMY GOODMAN: Many-page piece headlined “Trump Took Part in Suspect Schemes to Evade Tax Bills.” Talk about how you found this information, and what were your key findings, David?
    DAVID BARSTOW: Well, first, how we found it was kind of the old-fashioned way. It was going to courthouses, scouring public records, knocking on a lot of doors and, gradually, over many months, piecing together, building this trove of documents, over 100,000 pages, by the time we were ready to publish. And I think, most significantly, in terms of for people to be able to assess this story, it’s important to know that this includes literally tens of thousands of pages of never-before-seen documentation of the actual inner workings of Fred Trump’s real estate empire.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: But those documents—if I could just interrupt briefly—those were confidential records.
    DAVID BARSTOW: Correct.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: So you couldn’t have gotten those from the public records.
    DAVID BARSTOW: Yeah, you only get those by knocking on a lot of doors.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: What doors did you knock on?
    DAVID BARSTOW: I’m not going to talk about that, but good try.
    AMY GOODMAN: Talk about your major findings, particularly what you say is this illegal transfer of wealth.
    DAVID BARSTOW: So, I think there’s two core findings. One is simply that the narrative that Donald Trump has sold to the public for many decades now, the thing that made him famous, that gave him political power and that, ultimately, I think, was the central focus of his presidential campaign, is this narrative that he is a self-made billionaire. And what this story really reveals is the extent to which that just simply doesn’t square with the facts that are uncovered and that we show in this story. So that’s sort of, I think, point number one.
    Point number two is, not only did he receive $413 million from his father, not only did he receive another $140 million in today’s dollars in loans from his father, but that that amount, the amount of money, was significantly increased by a series of tax schemes that the tax experts that we consulted with in our reporting, laying this out to them, said these things go way beyond the normal tax avoidance strategies that wealthy, sophisticated people will employ in any event to lower their tax bill. This was a set of maneuvers that were actually intended to deceive the IRS about the value of things that were being given from Fred and Mary Trump to Donald Trump and his siblings.
    I think those are the two main points, that there’s a huge amount of money flowing, not just when he was a young man, but actually throughout Donald Trump’s life, especially when he was in financial difficulties, especially when he was taking on new projects, and that that river of money was fed, very much so, by tax evasion, tax dodges.
    AMY GOODMAN: Tax evasion and tax dodges, and we’re going to find out just what those were. We’re speaking to three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Barstow, who has just been attacked by the White House for this massive exposé in The New York Times about how Donald Trump gained his wealth. Stay with us.
    [break]
    AMY GOODMAN: That’s called “Old Man Trump.” The song was written, but never recorded, by Woody Guthrie. Again, by Ryan Harvey, Ani DiFranco and Tom Morello. Yes, Woody Guthrie never recorded it, but it’s about his landlord, Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump. In the 1950s, Woody Guthrie lived in a Trump-owned apartment building in Brooklyn. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: In The New York Times exposé on Trump’s tax practice, the reporters referenced several reporters who did groundbreaking work on Trump’s finances. One of them was the late Wayne Barrett, who wrote the book Trump: The Deals and the Downfall. He appeared on Democracy Now! in June 2016 and said Fred Trump’s financial support of Donald Trump was, quote, “unbelievably crucial in Donald’s rise to prominence.”
    WAYNE BARRETT: When he opened his first office in Manhattan, the rent was paid by his father’s company out here on Avenue Z in Brooklyn. And everything that he did, whether it be the Grand Hyatt—the Grand Hyatt, for example, to get the financing, he got the financing from two banks that his father had used, used his father’s relationship banker. And the father had to sign the financing agreements. I mean, they’re not going to give a 30-year-old kid $35 million in 1978 to build a hotel. It has to be done with Fred’s resources. And Fred Trump was a great outer borough builder and really built good housing, 20,000 units totally, all over Queens, all over Brooklyn, some of them towers, like Trump Village, many of them single-family homes, that he had a great reputation as a builder. He was politically wired, as his son was. I mean, they played the political game, both of them, expertly, but Fred Trump was indispensable. I mean, even Trump Tower, which comes along later in Donald’s career, could not have been done without Fred coming in and supporting the financing of it. When he opened his first casino in Atlantic City, when he bought the first properties, the lease holds for the first properties for Trump Plaza, his casino in Atlantic City, Fred rode down in the limo with him and signed all the lease hold documents. Nobody was going to be financing this kid developer, kid casino operator. It was Fred who was the key to all of it.
    It’s so ridiculous for him to call himself a self-made guy, when Fred was critical at the political end, too. I mean, everything that came to Donald came through political connections. And they were political connections forged by his father over decades with Brooklyn politicians. He came from the same political club as the then-mayor of New York, Abe Beame. And when they—he had to get an option for the Grand Hyatt and for the West Side Yards from a bankrupt railroad in Philadelphia, Penn Central, and the people who were selling the assets of the bankrupt railroad wanted to make sure that the option that they gave, they were giving it to a developer who would actually develop, because that’s when the real payment comes to the railroad. And so, they came up from Philadelphia, and Fred Trump greets them. And Fred and Donald get them in a limo and take them down to City Hall, and there’s Abe Beame standing on the steps of City Hall. “Anything you want, we’ll give you.” So this totally a byproduct of Fred’s relationships.
    AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s the great reporter Wayne Barrett, who dogged President Trump, Donald Trump, long before he was president, for decades, and, of course, wrote a book about him. Juan González and I went to his house to interview him just before he died. David Barstow, you’re a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Wayne, of course, one of your colleagues over the decades. You cite him in your piece. He’s giving us some sense of who Fred Trump was. But go back to the beginning and talk about baby Trump—that’s baby Donald Trump—and how he started to accrue this wealth, something very different than he has told.
    DAVID BARSTOW: Yeah. So, how does a 3-year-old end up making $200,000 a year? Right? That’s a good question. Here’s how it worked. Fred Trump—you know, Wayne is absolutely right that he was a really great builder in the outer boroughs, but much of his building was actually made possible through federal housing subsidies. He was actually one of the country’s biggest recipients of cheap building loans basically made possible by the federal government.
    And he used $26 million or so of those cheap loans to build two of his biggest apartment complexes in New York: a place called Beach Haven and another place called Shore Haven, both out in Brooklyn. These are massive, massive apartment complexes, thousands and thousands of units. And so, he was building those in the late '40s. And what he did was something quite clever. He put the land underneath the buildings into a trust and made his children the beneficiaries of that trust. And then he had the companies, his companies, that were actually building the buildings on top of the land, sign 99-year leases to pay rent to the landlords—his young children. And so what that meant was that Donald Trump, starting at age 3, was Fred Trump's landlord. He was collecting rent payments from Fred Trump’s companies.
    And it was this kind of maneuver—right?—setting up these sort of mechanisms, these financial mechanisms, that would just kind of create this automatic streams of money that would just sort of, month by month by month, would trickle into trust accounts or into partnerships and find their way, ultimately, into the pockets of his children. Fred Trump was just a genius at coming up with new ways, new revenue streams, to funnel into the pockets of his children. So he didn’t just make his children his landlord, he also made his children his banker. He made Donald Trump not just—didn’t just put him on the salary as a vice president of Fred Trump’s companies. He also then paid him separately to be his consultant. He paid him separately to be a property manager. He paid him separately to be a purchasing agent. And on and on and on it went.
    And in the course of all of—as we gathered up all of the records from inside of his—of Fred Trump’s real estate empire, we started counting up: How many different revenue streams has he created for Donald Trump through the years? And we got up to 295, is what we counted, what we were able to document. Some of these things, you know, they weren’t in and of themselves big money. Like, for example, Fred Trump funneled the laundry revenue from his buildings to Donald. That’s not a lot of money, but when you sort of start aggregating it, putting it all together, it’s just this mighty, endless river of money flowing constantly into the bank accounts of Donald Trump.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: I mean, one of the things that you do in your piece is you give a very strong sense of the extent to which Fred Trump seemed to have a special relationship with Donald Trump, because you explain that so much of the money accrued to Donald Trump as against his other children. So, you know, what did you learn about why that would be the case? And also, the principal illegality—I mean, what you spoke of, of Beach Haven and Shore Haven, the responsibility for that is Fred Trump’s, and is it actually technically illegal, what he did?
    DAVID BARSTOW: So, in that transaction, there’s nothing illegal about that transaction that we’ve uncovered. That’s not what I’m—that’s not the point that I’m trying to make there. That’s an example, though, of one of the many different ways that Fred Trump was enriching Donald Trump, starting from a very early age and continuing on up forward. I’m sorry, the other point was?
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: The question about the relationship between Fred and Donald—
    DAVID BARSTOW: Yes.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: —because why did he give so much money to—
    DAVID BARSTOW: So, Fred Trump had an older son, Fred Trump Jr., who initially was kind of going to be the heir apparent, right? And Fred Trump was interested in—you know, he really wanted to pass this dynasty on to one of his children, and Fred Jr. was sort of the first kind of natural heir apparent as the oldest son. But he didn’t have the passion for the business. He had other interests. He liked to fly airplanes. He loved music. Fred Trump, the father, considered Fred Trump, the son, to be a little too soft, a little too nice. And before long, it became clear that he was not going to be the heir apparent. The heir apparent was going to be Donald Trump.
    And Donald Trump was very aware of his father’s disapproval of Fred Jr. He witnessed this. Fred Sr. could be quite cruel. And I think what we see in terms of—this is really from the interviews with people who worked closely with Fred Trump—they witnessed this young man, Donald Trump, sort of watching what had happened to Fred Jr. and almost forming himself into Fred Jr.’s opposite. If Fred Jr. was soft, too nice, well, Donald was going to be a shark. He was going to be a killer.
    So that, I think, is sort of at the core of this father-son relationship, which is very much what this story is about. It is about a father-son relationship. These two men were extraordinarily close. Donald Trump said—we quote him that he felt that he knew his father better than anybody else in the world. And they talked daily. They spent many a weekend together. They were in constant communication. Donald Trump was a constant presence when Fred Trump would have strategy sessions with his top lawyers, his top accountants, figuring out what his next moves were. Fred Trump was often this sort of silent, lurking presence at Donald Trump’s big flashy press conferences. And so, they were this—it was more than just a father-son relationship. It was also a partnership.


    AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting you talk about the amount of federal grants that Fred Trump got, and interesting that just as Donald Trump came into the business, they were sued because they were getting federal support and they were discriminating against African Americans. But I wanted to go back to read from your report, David Barstow. You write, “The most overt fraud was All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company formed by the Trump family in 1992. All County’s ostensible purpose was to be the purchasing agent for Fred Trump’s buildings, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. It did no such thing, records and interviews show. Instead All County siphoned millions of dollars from Fred Trump’s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees. Those millions, effectively untaxed gifts, then flowed to All County’s owners—Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. Fred Trump then used the padded All County receipts to justify bigger rent increases for thousands of tenants.” David?
    DAVID BARSTOW: Yeah. This is something where, when Donald Trump says this is old news, I can tell you that no one had ever heard of All County Building Supply & Maintenance. It has never been written about, described anywhere. And this is actually kind of remarkable in a way. When we were peeling back the layers on this, it felt like one of these sort of gritty scams that you might see in The Sopranos, right? It is setting up this company to make basically huge cash gifts from Fred Trump to his children look like legitimate business transactions.
    Let me give you just a really simple example. This is one that we describe and we actually show in the story the actual invoices and purchase orders, so you can all see for yourself exactly what I’m talking about. So they set up this company, All County Building Supply & Maintenance. It’s not a real company. There’s no corporate offices. It’s actually headquartered in the basement of Fred Trump’s favorite nephew. The owners of All County Building Supply, though, were Fred Trump’s four children and his nephew. And all that happened was—so Fred—any time Fred Trump was going to improve his buildings, he had to buy stuff, right? And in this case, soon after they formed this company, they bought 60 boilers—60 big, expensive boilers from a company in the Bronx. Fred Trump himself personally negotiated the purchase price of these boilers, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of boilers.
    The man who sold Fred Trump these boilers, Leon Eastmond, told me in an interview that one day, he comes back to his office and there is an envelope, and there is a check, a huge check, from this company, All County Building Supply. He’s like, “Who the heck are these guys?” Never heard of them, didn’t know who they were. And what that was was All County Building Supply was paying him the price that Fred Trump had negotiated, but then All County Building Supply would turn around and would send an invoice to Fred Trump for the very same boilers, but the invoice was padded, marked up 20, 30, 50 percent more. So all it was doing, it was basically—it was just an invoice-padding operation. It was taking the things that Fred Trump was already buying and adding 20, 30, 40, 50, 100 percent more, and then charging Fred Trump. Fred Trump was effectively overcharging himself; that’s what it looked like on paper. But in fact, all of those profits are than flowing directly to his children. That’s point number one.
    AMY GOODMAN: And he’s not just a child. Donald Trump was like 46 when All County was set up.
    DAVID BARSTOW: Yes, absolutely. And this was part of a fairly well-considered and orchestrated strategy that the Trump family came up with when they realized, you know, Fred Trump is getting up there in age, he is starting to suffer some ill effects, dementia, other problems, and they’re realizing if he dies, all of his empire, all of the buildings and huge amounts of cash sitting in his accounts, those are going to be subject to a 55 percent tax, inheritance tax.
    So the idea was, “Well wait a minute, how do we pull that cash out of the empire before it gets taxed 55 percent? How do we shift all of those buildings into our pockets before they get taxed 55 percent?” In this case, I think one of the things in the All County Building Supply case—and I think it helps you sort of see at least the mindset here—is not only do they come up with this ruse basically to disguise cash gifts as legitimate business transactions, but then they submitted those padded invoices to the state regulators who govern rent increases in New York, and they used those inflated invoices in order to justify rent increases for thousands of the tenants who lived in Fred Trump’s apartments. Mostly we’re talking–these are working class, middle class folks who are seeing their rents go up five, $10, $15 a month in part because of these inflated invoices from All County Building Supply & Maintenance.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: And can you speak specifically about the Starrett City development in Brooklyn, which Fred Trump made an investment in, in the 1970s?
    DAVID BARSTOW: Yes. So Starrett City is really one of the largest federally subsidized housing developments in the country. It’s massive. It’s even bigger than Fred Trump’s apartment complexes. And in the 1970s when they were trying to build Starrett city, they needed some extra money, so they were looking for private investments. It was basically going to be this investment that would create huge tax losses. That’s why rich people wanted to get in on Starrett city; it would create huge tax losses. So Fred Trump could use his losses at Starrett City to shelter all of his profits from his empire.
    So he made an investment into Starrett city, but he also made an investment for his kids as well. And so Donald Trump, starting at a very early age, was getting these huge tax breaks from Starrett City. In fact, those tax breaks helped him avoid paying any federal income taxes at all in the late 1970s. And then of course, as time progresses, Starrett City is now worth a heck of a lot of money. It recently sold for nearly $1 billion. In fact, that investment that Fred Trump made way back in the 1970s is going to give Donald Trump a windfall of $16 million this year.
    AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to break, how much money would you say Fred Trump avoided in taxes?
    DAVID BARSTOW: Hundreds of millions of dollars.
    AMY GOODMAN: I think you said $50 million instead of half a billion?
    DAVID BARSTOW: So yeah. I mean, it is pretty simple math, right? We see that he transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to his siblings. It’s a 55 percent tax rate. So you are talking about a tax bill, an expected tax bill, of around $550 million. The tax records that we obtained show that the Trump family paid $52 million in gift and estate taxes. So rather than paying a 55 percent tax rate, they paid about a 5 percent tax rate. The question then is, how did they avoid the other $500 million? What happened to that?
    First of all, just to be clear, we certainly don’t say in the story and we don’t allege anywhere that every penny of that was evaded money. Some of it was just usual tax avoidance measures that all rich people use. But certainly, a very significant portion of that came through tax schemes and maneuvers that the experts that we consulted with said really crossed the line.
    AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break and then come back to this discussion. What was illegal, what was improper? David Barstow, three-time Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter, lead reporter on this massive 13,000-word piece investigating Donald Trump’s wealth and where it came from. The title, Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father. This is Democracy Now! Back with David Barstow in a moment.
    [BREAK]
    AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman with Nermeen Shaikh. Our guest for the hour is the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Barstow, did a massive exposé in The New York Times this week that’s going to be reissued on Sunday. The New York State Taxation authority responded to the Timesreport on Donald Trump’s tax practices with a statement that it is “vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.” Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “I’ve directed NYC’s Department of Finance to immediately investigate tax and housing violations and to work with NY State to find out if appropriate taxes were paid.” The mayor told reporters he is looking to recoup any money Trump owes New York City.
    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: There was a good old boy network that obviously Donald Trump played like a fiddle and evaded the kind of regulation and investigation and prosecution he should have received many times over. He finagled and paid his way to being somehow able to escape the kind of scrutiny and prosecution he deserved. And honestly, if a lot of people in New York State had done their jobs, he would never have been president of the United States. It’s clear to me that there are real ramifications right now to what has been disclosed. That there is either potential violations of the law, or in the cases where the statute of limitations has ended, that there may be very serious civil penalties that can be applied by both the state in the city.
    AMY GOODMAN: So that’s Mayor Bill de Blasio responding to your investigation. What can New York recoup? New York City, New York State? And are there criminal charges at all here? Grounds for charges?
    DAVID BARSTOW: I think that clearly the statute of limitations is the big obstacle to any kind of criminal charges. However, we actually don’t know what ended up in Donald Trump’s tax returns, and so if there are things that he misreported that have their roots in some of the transactions that were described in this article, and those misrepresentations carried forward into future tax returns from Donald Trump, that could be potentially problematic, because that could maybe take the statute of limitations off the table as an obstacle.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: And then there could be a criminal prosecution?
    DAVID BARSTOW: Potentially, although let’s be real here—the IRS is a much-weakened agency. It has been quite devastated by budget cuts over the years. And certainly, the IRS—not talking about state authorities now; I’m talking about the federal IRS—has said absolutely nothing in response to this article. I think the more realistic accountability that’s there is this potential for civil fraud. There is no statute of limitations for civil tax fraud. And so both—in this case, the state tax authorities, that can be a very powerful weapon if they decide to actually use it, to go back and look at these transactions.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Let’s go to some of the mechanisms that you point to in the piece that Trump used in order to avoid paying taxes. Explain what GRATs are, and how they were used. In this video accompanying The New York Times exposé, your co-author Susanne Craig explains how Trump and his siblings came to own nearly all of their father Fred Trump’s empire without paying estate taxes.
    SUSANNE CRAIG: GRAT. A trust designed to pass wealth between generations. In 1995, Donald Trump and his siblings began to take ownership of most of their father’s real estate empire while avoiding hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. They did so by creating two grantor retained annuity trusts, also known as GRATs, one for dad and one for mom. Taxes are based on the final value of the GRAT, and this gave the Trumps every incentive to lowball the value of the assets. That’s exactly what they did. Take for instance the Fontainebleau Apartments. In 1982, the Trumps valued the 164-unit complex at $15.3 million. But for the purposes of the GRAT, they said it was worth just $2.9 million. They then broke up the ownership of the apartments, giving almost half to Mary Trump, Fred Trump’s wife. This allowed them to tell the IRS that Fred Trump, who had exercised iron-fisted control over every brick of his empire for 70 years, was a minority owner with no real say over his buildings.
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: So David, that’s your co-author Susanne Craig talking about GRATs. Could you just comment on whether this instrument is what essentially gave legal cover to Trump’s transactions?
    DAVID BARSTOW: GRATs are a well-established and legal instrument that’s used by the wealthy to pass assets on to their children in a way that allows them to avoid estate taxes. In fact, if you watch TV, you’ll often see these commercials from BDOthat are actually GRAT commercials. They do not say the word ”GRAT,” but when you see this—
    NERMEEN SHAIKH: What is BDO?
    DAVID BARSTOW: BDO is this consulting firm that is actually on CNBC, MSNBC—and CNN is running commercials that are effectively commercials for GRATs. And so it’s a technique that when you talk to tax lawyers, they almost get a little misty-eyed about GRATs. They say, “This is like magic.” These things are these incredible devices that assets go in, all kinds of financial gymnastics occur inside of them and then they sort of—assets come out and they’re like free of taxes.
    AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to another of your former colleagues, and that is David Cay Johnston, also a fellow Pulitzer Prize winner and now editor in chief at dcreport.org. He noted on MSNBC that Trump’s sister, who is a federal judge, is heavily implicated in these charges of tax fraud.
    DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Let’s keep in mind, Donald’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is a sitting judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. She’s a senior judge. I tweeted today that I think she should immediately remove herself from the bench. We should not have a tax cheat in the White House or on the federal bench.
    AMY GOODMAN: What you think of this? That’s David Cay Johnston.
    DAVID BARSTOW: I think the important thing to say about this is that Fred Trump’s estate tax return is a very important document. There were three executors. There were three people who signed off on that estate tax return. One was Judge Barry, one was President Trump and the third was Robert Trump, the president’s younger brother. When you sign an estate tax return, you’re responsible for the accuracy of that tax return, you are responsible for accurately describing the assets and you’re also responsible for describing all of the gifts that were given by the person in that estate.
    So what we describe in our story is that the estate tax return that the three of them signed, that the three of them vouched for—that that tax return is grossly inaccurate. It used all of the same kind techniques that we described in other parts of the story, and it did so in order to make what was left of Fred Trump’s empire look miniscule. So I think that actually the fact that she put her John Hancock on that estate tax return—I think that is an area that is potentially problematic.
    AMY GOODMAN: What most surprised you in what you found, David, as we begin to wrap up?
    DAVID BARSTOW: The thing that I think continues to surprise me about Donald Trump is that this is this guy who has been so much in the firmament of our culture and our media for so long, and yet there is so little that we actually know about him and his finances. There’s this mountain of books and interviews—it is daunting to look at—but when you put all of that aside and just try to get to ground truths with this guy, every time we have done that, we feel like, “Oh, my gosh.” Whatever the idea was that we thought we had about him, it is quite different when you pull some more layers back.
    AMY GOODMAN: “After Fred Trump’s death,” you write, “His empire’s most valuable asset was an IOU from Donald Trump.” And you say he betrayed his father and what he wanted with his Empire.
    DAVID BARSTOW: Yeah. Fred Trump really wanted the empire to stay in the family. Donald Trump was in some financial difficulty again in 2004, and he was the one who came into a family meeting and said, “It’s time to sell dad’s buildings.” And so they did. And the irony is the price that they got for all of those buildings was actually hundreds of millions of dollars less than what the actual property was worth, according to banking records that we have uncovered.
    AMY GOODMAN: Do you think this will force, somehow lead to seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns? This exposé and the political blowback from it?
    DAVID BARSTOW: It’s hard to say. It depends so much on who is actually in control of the subpoenas in Congress, on the basis of what happens in the midterm elections.
    AMY GOODMAN: But they can subpoena them?
    DAVID BARSTOW: Sure. Absolutely.
    AMY GOODMAN: And so if the Democrats came to power.
    DAVID BARSTOW: And every Democrat—I mean every—there’s a long line of Democrats who have said this story is all the more reason to exercise that subpoena power should they win control of the House.
    AMY GOODMAN: And your piece is coming out again on Sunday?

    DAVID BARSTOW: It is, as a special section.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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