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Good Stuff to Read
The LogoPhere Reading Room

Round-up of  long-reads worth the effort
for March 2017, Part A


Evan Osnos, David Remnick, Joshua Yaffa
The New Yorker, Mar06|17 

Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War

First, I just gotta' get this one thing off my chest: Somebody please tell them insufferably pompous comma cows at The New Yorker ( Mary Norris, I'm lookin' at you) that umlauts are verboten in English; even in Germany only Nazis use them in English words.  I have checked seven digital dictionaries and three analog ones and not a single one spells "cooperate" "coöperate" or "reelection" "reëlection." The NYer's sophomoric pendanticism. Sad.

OK, now where was I? Right . . . I wasn't anywhere because I haven't begun this commentary yet.

What I was about to say before being so rudely interrupted by the umlaut louts was that I have read better pieces in the NYer than this one by Osnos, Remnick and Yaffa, and by that I mean many pieces and much better. But I have never read a better explanation of Putin's hatred of the US anywhere; moreover, I am writing this grammatically grotesque sentence to rattle the comma cows' cage. I return you now to our regularly scheduled programming. 

O.R.&Y., like every reputable NY'er writer, open by throwing a sharp jab at the reader's verbal cortex:

On April 12, 1982, Yuri Andropov, the chairman of the K.G.B., ordered foreign-intelligence operatives to carry out “active measures”—aktivniye meropriyatiya—against the reëlection [sic] campaign of President Ronald Reagan.

But their backstory goes much farther back  than the final years of the Soviet Union, for there are occasional flashbacks to 1917 and the Russian Revolution. And yet O.R.&Y. keep their focus on the Russian shenanigans in the 2016 election, if I may use the term "election" loosely. Their objective is to trace Putin's rise from a KGB hack in East Germany to one of the most powerful and wealthy men in the world, who is, incidentally, pissed off at the US and really pissed off at Hillary, who tried to ruin his election in 2012. And it's a pretty good story, too, even though it leaves out a lot of the bodies floating in the Moskva River. (As I write this line the body of one of Putin's opponents, Denis Foronenkov, has not yet reached room temperature in Kiev where he was just murdered in broad daylight.)   

NY'er writers don't have quite the deadline pressure that journalists working actual beats have. NY'er writers can sit back for a week or two and wait for those facts that sort of stagger in late at night after all the rest have been put to bed. But even still, trying to figure out what's going on in this volatile world of ours in near-real time is a fool's folly.  For instance, would O.R.&Y. be presenting this as a story about the hacking of the Democrats from the outside if they had taken time to analyze new information pointing to a pack of Pakistani IT workers called the Awan brothers, now subjects of a criminal probe, who were working for Debbie Schultz and other Democrats when the DNC/Podesta leaks went down?  

I guess what I'm saying is that this New Yorker article is worthwhile for historical background going back to 1917 or 1989, but as far as it's conclusions and insinuations about what happened in 2016, I wouldn't trust it no matter how many umlauts it uses. 

Philip Giraldi, The Unz Review, Mar07|17   

Cheerleading for Israel

In this Unz Review piece Giraldi focuses on the US/GoY tag-team beating up on the UN.  As is always the case with Giraldi, it's probably best just to let him speak for himself. Here are some snips to give you a feel for where he is going in this article.

In fact, even though the individual neocons have largely been outed from the foreign and security policy positions they once dominated it would not be completely inappropriate to suggest that their legacy of military interventionism lives on in terms of what the Trump administration has been so far promoting to keep America “safe.” Where all of this will go is anyone’s guess.


On Sunday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss “trade and security issues” without anyone complaining that he was in violation of the Logan Act, which apparently only applies if you are talking to Russians.


Ambassador Haley has also denounced the international body in general terms, stating that she was “underscore[ing] the ironclad support of the United States for Israel,” adding that “I am here to emphasize that United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias.” And if anyone failed to understand, on March 1st, U.S. envoy to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Erin Barclay told the group that it must drop its “obsession with Israel” or risk Washington withdrawing from the organization. The suggestion that the U.S. might consider departing came, incidentally, directly from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who proposed such action to Donald Trump to “delegitimize” the U.N. body.   


The subservient role dutifully played by every U.S. president since JFK when dealing with Tel Aviv has resulted in defining United States national interests in terms of Israeli perceptions. The real irony is that even though Trump is giving the Israelis everything they want and is bowing to the Israel Lobby and Jewish groups at every opportunity, it is still not enough. It is never enough. . . Because even though he has showered benefits on Israel his love for the Jewish people is “insufficient.” [Bernard-Henri] Levy explains, “This love is precisely what is required of an American president in dealings affecting Israel.”. . . While it is possible to dismiss Levy as a completely self-serving bullshit artist who badly needs a haircut and a bath, he is far from alone. Also on the left there is the renowned Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University.


As Bernard-Henri Levy has made clear and the Talmud asserts, Jewish lives are more important than those of gentiles, so it is fit and proper that Americans should fight and die to make sure that Israel might prosper.

[This Levy dude is one bad hombre and Exhibit "A" for why there is so much antisemitism in Europe.  His NYT pieces will promote it here. Someone needs to build a wall around him and make him pay for it. - DOB]

Iona Craig, The Intercept, Mar09|17   

Death in Al Ghayil

I have not been particularly kind to America's latest dead military hero, Ryan Owens, and his killer-colleagues who shot up a Yemeni village, killing 25 Yemeni civilians, including an 8 yo American citizen and eight other kids under the age of 13. The SEALs raid, botched as it was, was characterized by DTDuck as "highly successful," quoting his DOD mogul, Mad Dog Mattis. And Sean Spicer went so far as to assert that the raid was “a very, very well thought out and executed effort.”  

The audacity of their mendacity does not bode well for the future of this administration, for the stupidity/incompetence  of the SEALs Yemen raid is on a par with Operation Eagle Claw, the Jimmy Carter cluster-fuck of a raid on Tehran in April|1980.

Now comes Iona Craig's excellent reporting directly from al Ghayil, the Yemeni village that Owens and his buddies shot up. Among the new pieces of information about this all-American debacle, Craig tells us that: 

  • The first to die in the assault was a 13-yo named Hasser al Dhahab;

  • In what seemed to be blind panic, the gunships bombarded the entire village, striking more than a dozen buildings, razing stone dwellings where families slept, and wiping out more than 120 goats, sheep, and donkeys;

  • Dozens of UAE Apache gunships are currently stationed in Emirati-run military bases across Yemen;

  • A $70M Osprey was destroyed;

  • This was not the first time the gullible Americans had been duped by false intel from the Yemini government;

  • Apaches have returned to the village, "carrying out indiscriminate shelling" even though the village is now all but empty.

While acknowledging that memories grow faint after 50 years, from my recollections as an ex-Marine who humped a radio for Force Recon raids in Vietnam,  judging from Craig's description of the SEALs' raid it appears to me that it was certainly not a "very, very well thought out and executed effort." 

Kids, listed by age, killed by the US SEALs in the Feb29 
botched raid. Source: Bureau of Investigative Journalism

And so it goes, Kurt . . . 

See additional excellent reporting on the botched SEALs raid by Namir Shabibi and Nasser al Sane for Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Mar13|17   

Rand Paul Is Right: NSA Routinely Monitors Americans’ Communications Without Warrants

Glenn Greenwald's piece is presented here ahead of Phil Giraldi's only because it was published first. Giraldi's Mar14 piece, below, should probably be read before this one unless you already have the basic background on WikiLeaks' data-dump early this month. GG is focusing less on technology and more on the FISA courts and their ground-rules. 

This piece is even more timely now than when it was published, and I say that for two reasons.  

First, there is DTDuck's goof-ball accusation that Obama tapped "the wires" in Trump Tower during Trump's campaign. And the reason I mention it is that in today's news Rep. Devin Nunes, head of the House Intel Committee, dropped the bomb-shell that DTDuck could very well have been recorded as a result of the same back-door FISA rules that GG explains in detail in this article.

The other reason GG's article is more timely now than when it was published is that the House Intel Committee grilled FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers this week.  During that inquisition Comey and Rogers were asked who has authority to unmask a redacted name in a classified report.  In other words, when the FBI is recording a conversation between a foreign actor and an American, the report will redact, or mask, the name of the American.  Who has the authority to subsequently reveal the identity of that American? 

Comey and Rogers said that each agency has a very tiny group of people with the authority to unmask.  As I recall, Comey estimated that in the FBI there would be 20 or less people with that authority. And yet GG's article quotes Rand Paul as quoting General Michael Hayden, former Director if NSA, as saying even low-level employees can unmask redacted names, and that is probably how Michael Flynn's conversations with Russians were outed. So we've got a major disagreement between the present and the former NSA Directors over this vital bureaucratic fact.

Furthermore, according to Paul, Obama was tapped 1,227 times through the FISA backdoor. Well now, durn, ain't that a pisser?  Because when he was questioned by the Intel Committee, Rogers said that no one, not even the President, can order a tap on any American person without a warrant. But, if you are the President talking to someone who is being tapped pursuant to a valid warrant, then your own conversation is fair game, it's just that your identity must be masked. And that makes the dispute between Hayden and Rogers over who can unmask a person recorded by a tap very, very interesting -- is it restricted to a very small group of people, or is it any low-level mule in the organization? 

GG takes this whole FISA backdoor phenomenon to a new level.  Not a higher level, a lower one. Low as in cesspool low. For GG argues very convincingly that the 2008 FISA law  actually designed the backdoor to allow the spooks to spy on just about anyone. I don't know what the status of the issue is now, and GG doesn't mention it, but not too many years ago there was a lot of yada about the principle that if the spooks could legitimately tap a person pursuant to a warrant, then they could also separately tap everyone that person talked to, and everyone the next person talked to.  It was bloody endless.  

If a foreign guy "F" is being tapped according to a valid warrant and "F" talks to an American "A," then the warrant is automatically extended to "A" and everyone "A" talks to. If "A" then calls the pizza shop "P", then the warrant is extended to "P" and everyone "P" talks to, which is the whole freaking city. 

I think most Americans don't know, and probably don't care, how much damage the 9/11 attacks have done to the US Constitution and to the privacy and personal rights of Americans. The damage those fuck-wit Muslims did to America has gone far beyond the loss of 3000 lives and the destruction and damage to some high-price real estate. Americans' freedoms are sliding badly because Americans are scared.

And the number one reason American freedoms are taking such a hit is because the federal judges -- mostly, but not only, the FISA judges -- are failing America. They are, of course, afraid to push back against the spy organizations because if they start scrutinizing FISA warrants, or start taking the gags off of the press and bureaucrats, or start questioning the constitutionality of the Patriot Act and other draconian legislation -- if they try to do their jobs and stop America from sliding farther into a faux-democratic totalitarian funk and if another massive attack happens, the politicians will blame the judges.

I cannot see any way out of this dilemma. America has screwed over poor countries and poor people for generations, particularly poor countries and poor people who tend to be Muslim. The Koreans and Vietnamese never retaliated, for whatever reason. The Central Americans never retaliated, for whatever reason. But with respect to the Muslim countries, the chickens are coming home to roost.  In another 20 years Americans' personal freedoms will be too battered and beaten to recognize.

Philip Giraldi, Unz Review, Mar14|17   

What is the CIA hack all about?

If by now you aren't turning your router off when not using it, then you missed the memo -- the memo being the WikiLeaks disclosure that the CI has access to every device that is connected to the internet.  IOW, that whole 1984 thing about Big Brother watching you through your TV is finally here, big time, thanks mostly to the so-called Constitutional law scholar Barrack Obama and his crowd. 

In this piece, Giraldi extends the BiBo scare even further: Jeff Bezos -- who owns Amazon and the WaPo -- has been pushing to get Alexa and Amazon Echo not just into every home in the country, but into every room in every home, including the bathroom.  At the same time Bezos is providing $600M worth of cloud data storage for the CIA.  Never mind that WaPo has been the CIA's Mockingbird for decades, now you have BiBo plus Bezos invading your home and listening to every word, whisper, fight, fart, and flush.

Nor should we forget that Google recently spent $3.2bn on an energy company, Nest, that sells smart internet-based energy tech for homes.  Smart as in the tech records which rooms in a house people are occupying in real-time.  IOW, Google will have the advantage to look inside your house and see where you are at all times. So while you are sitting on the crapper humming old James Taylor songs, Google will know where you are and Amazon will be recording every note.   

Giraldi's article is particularly helpful in understanding the interplay between the CIA and the NSA and their excuses for spying on everyone and their techniques, as revealed by WikiLeaks. 

It really just makes ya' think: what a bunch of moron sheep we would all be were it not for Snowden and Assange. Just think how much we now know that we would never have known. Just think how people know what questions to ask and what rocks to look under.  We're still sheep, but at least we're not dumb sheep. 

If you haven't already figured out what all the yada about spying TVs and vacuum cleaners is about, this piece by Philip Giraldi is probably as good a place to start as anywhere.  It's borderline outdated already, but it's clearly written.  In order to get to the next layer of complexity have a look at Greenwald's piece, just above, which focuses on the backdoor bullshit of FISA.

Jack Ravenwood, The Unz Review, Mar14|17   

Trump, JFK, and the Deep State

Here is what all Americans need: a helpful history of the deep ugliness of the CIA all the way back to John F. Kennedy, which is to say almost all the way back to its inception. It's a concise history of the CIA that connects a lot of dots and makes some very interesting juxtapositions between DTDuck's relationship with the CIA and JFK's.

One of Ravenwood's more worrisome juxtapositions is JFK's and DTDuck's noise about getting along with Russia, as if Russia isn't the mortal enemy of the US that the CIA claims it is. Ravenwood points out how JFK fired CIA director Allen Dulles and two of his deputies, and how it was not long after the Cuban missile crisis that Kennedy negotiated peace with Russia and was even -- horrors of horrors -- making overtures to Castro.  Nine months later JFK was lying on a stainless steel table staring at the ceiling with half of his head blown away. 

Trump’s recent clash with the CIA certainly brings to mind JFK’s confrontation with them after the Bay of Pigs. After privately accusing the CIA of lying to him and giving him false information, he fired Director Allen Dulles and Deputy Directors Charles Cabell and Richard Bissell. He said that he would like to “smash the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter them to the winds.”.

You gotta' wonder whether DTDuck puts his phone down long enough to read up on the history of his predecessors . . . or his CIA. 

To my mind, the least believable assertion made by Ravenwood is that what defines the "Deep State" is a desire for war with Russian and Iran, which will blossom into WWIII. It is just too hard for me to conceive of a group of individuals who would desire a nuclear war that they would not be able to control, much less limit. What, are they dug so deeply into the mountain that they are assured to survive anything that could happen? Will they be able to stay there for generations until the planet and everything on it stops glowing?

Another interesting point Ravenwood puts out there is they way the illicit drug business in the US follows the CIA's wars. Quoting Peter Dale Scott:

When the U.S. was involved in covert operations in southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s, we had a heroin epidemic on this continent. In the 1980s, when some of the same people were involved in a covert operation in Central America, we had a cocaine epidemic. That’s not a coincidence.

Of course all of this brings to mind Michael Hastings' suspicious car "accident" and Gary Webb's suspicious "suicide," the latter of which Ravenwood mentions. 

But applying second and third derivative sort of thinking as one must do when contemplating what the spooks are really up to, one might reasonably wonder whether the people who publish criticism of the Deep State and live to a ripe old age aren't really planted to create false-flag diversion from the truth. By a sort of operational definition, anyone who is a real threat to the CIA, like Hastings and Webb, would be off'd. 

With respect to useful diversions, I would note that in Ravenwood's review of America's problems with its own government and the international ramifications of those problems, Israel is not once mentioned until the comments section. 

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Denis R. O'Brien, PhD/Esq.
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