Hedge Fund Gamblers Earn the Same In One Hour As a Middle-Class Household Makes In Over 47 Years

By Les Leopold / AlterNet

Sex Trafficking Resources

If you are a victim of trafficking or want to help those who are, here are some resources:

Shared Hope International: This organization is a leader in the worldwide effort to eradicate sex trafficking and slavery using a three pronged strategy – prevent, rescue & restore, and bring justice. To support Shared Hope’s efforts in restoring women and children, click here.

Polaris Project: This national organization works at the international, national and local levels to combat trafficking. It trains leaders on how to combat trafficking and even writes policy aimed at curbing what it calls the second largest crime in the world.

National Human Trafficking Resource Hotline: This hotline allows you to report a tip if you think that trafficking has occurred in your neighborhood. If you are a victim of trafficking, the hotline will connect you to help in your area. You can also call and receive information about trafficking and where to go to train in counter-trafficking.

Department of Homeland Security: This government agency has a link to a state and local database of anti-trafficking groups. There is also information regarding immigration status if you are undocumented and a victim of trafficking.

The GEMS Council of Daughters: This is a national branch of the New York based GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, an organization helping girls working in the sex industry. The GEMS Council of Daughters hosts fundraisers and training sessions in counter-trafficking.

The National Runaway Switchboard: This hotline allows runaways to call for help. Experts say that running away can be a gateway to children being forced into sex work.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: This national organization famous for issuing Amber Alerts for missing children also focuses on the sexual exploitation of children. It has a cyber tip line that allows you to report possible instances of child exploitation.

How to get out of the U.S. military

Safe Helpline 877-995-5247

U.S. military suicides remain high for 7th year

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK [8255]) is a United States-based suicide prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Before I show you how to get out of the U.S. military here’s an option you may have overlooked:

I know the military sucks. But what if you stay in and I’m not talking the four years that you signed up for but stay in 30 or 40 years and retire from the military? My first wife’s father did and is sitting pretty. Has five wives and kids in every port that he’s never even met or supported or even has contact with. He owns his own home in Oregon and golfs all over the U. S.

By Samantha Reeves: if you stay in the military for more than 20 years, you can receive a pension up to 50% of your base salary. If you’re in the military, you can contribute to a Thrift Savings Plan, unlike civilians. Service members who stay in the military for a long time (at least 10 years) can have college tuition paid for their children as well as a housing stipend. As for health insurance, staying more than 20 years in the military means receiving health insurance during retirement. Service members receive a tax-free housing allowance that goes toward their rent or mortgage and vanishes when they leave the military. Source: VeteransUnited

Now while I do not encourage anyone having a baby in every port that they have no intentions of supporting, retiring from the military is an option I’m sure you over looked.

But the military is not for everyone so let me tell you how to get out.

By Rod Powers

1.) A military discharge means that you are being released from your obligation to continue service in the armed forces and that you are relieved from any future military service obligations or recalls.

A breach of your enlistment contract can be terms for voluntary early separation from the military, but it is very rare. Some people mistakenly believe that discovering dishonesty on the part of their military recruiter represents a breach of contract and is grounds for seeking separation. While dishonesty can be an unfortunate consequence of the way the military recruiting system is set up, recruiter dishonesty is not inherently a breach of contract.

In general, if you can’t get the job due to something beyond your control (such as the service phased out the job, downsized the job, made a mistake and discovered that you don’t qualify for the job, or you are denied a security clearance for reasons other than falsifying information), then you will be given the choice of applying for a discharge or choosing a new job.

Most of the services impose a time-limit on applying for a voluntary discharge due to this kind of breach of contract. Usually, you must request the discharge within 30 days of being notified that one of the guarantees in your enlistment contract cannot be fulfilled.

2.) Involuntary Discharges

While in most cases you cannot simply quit the military, the military services can certainly kick you out if you fail to measure up to their standards. Being released from military service by involuntary discharge is neither fast nor pleasant. In most cases, your commander must show “rehabilitative measures” have been taken before he or she can impose an involuntary discharge and that can mean Nonjudicial Punishment or Article 15, which can loss of stripes, loss of pay, restrictions, extra duties, and correctional custody before you are officially discharged. If you think you dislike the military before trying to get kicked out, try being a soldier who fails at everything and causes nothing but trouble for the chain of command.

There are several reasons that you could be processed for involuntary discharge. Those include, but are not limited to:

Failing Weight and Fitness Requirements
Failing Training
AWOL

Misconduct

Illegal Drug UseThese are just some of the ways to get kicked out but all will yield an “Other Than Honorable” or even “Dishonorable Discharge”, which can have consequences for the rest of your life with future jobs and other freedoms.

3.) In addition to these early military discharges, some of the military services allow enlisted personnel to request early separation for release to the National Guard or Active Reserves.

4.) Other types of early separation are granted for reasons like service commitments, hardship, further education, government convenience, and conscientious objectors.

5.) Conscientious Objectors

A member who can convince the military that they are a conscientious objector may request a discharge.

This is not as easy as it sounds. First, you would have to show that your beliefs changed significantly after you joined the military because you must certify that you are not a conscientious objector at the time of voluntary enlistment.

You can’t pick and choose which war you object to. By law, a conscientious objector is one who is opposed to participation in all wars. The person’s opposition must be based on religious belief and training, and it must be deeply held.

The applicant must show that these moral and ethical convictions, once acquired, have directed his life in the way traditional religious convictions of equal strength, depth and duration have directed the lives of others. In other words, the belief upon which conscientious objection is based must be the primary controlling force in the applicant’s life.

6.) Early Release for Education

Department of Defense (DOD) Directives allow a military member to be discharged early to pursue their education if they are within 90 days of their normal separation date. Sometimes a service will approve an educational discharge request of more than 90 days.

For example, Air Force personnel can request separation after two years of service, if they have been accepted at an accredited school for medical training as physicians, dentists, osteopaths, veterinarians, optometrists, or clinical psychologists. Not just any schooling will suffice.

The Navy Personnel Manual allows sailors to request a discharge for education in excess of 90 days, but the approval authority for a 90 day (or less) discharge is the commanding officer (special court-martial authority), and for discharges for more than 90 days before the normal separation date, it goes all the way up to the commander of the Navy Personnel Command.

Neither the Army regulation (AR 635-200) nor the Marine Corps Regulation (MCO P1900-16F) allow for educational separations of more than 90 days prior to normal separation date.

7.) Military Hardship Discharge

All of the services have procedures where a service member can request a discharge based on a valid hardship.

Often, applicants find that they do not qualify. The military’s definition to illustrate how hard it can be to qualify is stated here:

“In order to qualify for separation under this provision, the hardship must not be of a temporary nature; must have developed or become increasingly worse since entry on active duty; discharge or release from active duty is the only readily available means of alleviation; and the individual must have made reasonable effort to relieve the conditions through other means available and appropriate to the family circumstances.”

An example of a hardship discharge would be the death or permanent disability to the soldier’s immediate family such as the spouse who is primary guardian to the children of the family when the soldier would be deployed.

If you don’t qualify for a hardship discharge, however, you might qualify for a humanitarian assignment.

8.) Government Convenience

This is kind of a catch-all for voluntary separations that don’t fall under specific programs. Note that it’s called “convenience of the government,” not “convenience of the servicemember.”

One example would be discharged in order to enter a commissioning program. The military can also use this provision when it would really rather that you get out but doesn’t have a basis to require your separation under any other separation program.

Another example would be if you won the state lottery and became a multi-millionaire overnight, the services probably would not find it conducive to morale and discipline to have a 3-striper millionaire arriving at work every day in his private helicopter. In such cases, they would most likely gladly approve a discharge request under “convenience of the government.”

It may surprise you to learn that everyone who joins the military for the first time incurs a minimum eight-year service commitment. It doesn’t matter if you signed a two-year active duty contract, a four-year contract, or even a six-year contract. Your total military commitment is eight years. Whatever amount of time that is not spent on active duty, must either be served in the active Guard/Reserves, or in the Inactive Reserves.

Source: TheBalance

Sabotage should be done before you leave but do not stay long enough to get caught. Sabotage can take on many forms, from disabling, jamming, theft transfer to dumping sensitive information, photos and videos.

Want more?

U.S. Military Nudes uncensored (NSFW)

Disturbing New Photos of C.I.A. Torture

Heroin Do’s and Don’t s

People (especially churches) use twisted logic to argue against teaching people about condoms, and how to have casual sex while protecting themselves against disease transmission. The government uses the same twisted logic to let people die from overdoses. If you do drugs be responsible for your own safety. Here’s some tips to help keep you safe.

1.) don’t do drugs alone, if something goes wrong there won’t be anyone to help.

2.) know your tolerance, if you haven’t used for awhile due to jail or rehab your tolerance will be lower, use less than usual.

3.) mixing drugs increases risk.

4.) use a new syringe, cooker, cotton and tie every time. Throw away cotton every time, it’s very dangerous to reuse. New syringes/cotton can be purchased at any drug store without a prescription. Dispose of properly.

5.) if you have to reuse a needle clean with bleach and water.

6.)
before fixing, wash hands with soap and water. Use a new cooker every time, do not touch inside. Drop cotton into cooker without touching cotton. Wipe the injection site with alcohol and allow area to dry.

7.)
don’t dig for veins, pull out and try again. Warm your body to show your veins. Don’t inject in the same area.

8.) overdose symptoms are: little to no breathing, lips turning blue. In case of overdose, use mouth to mouth- tilt head back, pinch nose, give one breath every 5 seconds or administer Narcan (naloxone). Lay person on his/her side to avoid choking.

Cocaine is sometimes used in combination with heroin, and is referred to as a speedball when injected or moonrocks when smoked together. Cocaine acts as a stimulant, whereas heroin acts as a depressant. Coadministration provides an intense rush of euphoria with a high that combines both effects of the drugs, while excluding the negative effects, such as anxiety and sedation.

The onset of heroin’s effects depends upon the route of administration. Studies have shown that the subjective pleasure of drug use (the reinforcing component of addiction) is proportional to the rate at which the blood level of the drug increases. Intravenous injection is the fastest route of drug administration, causing blood concentrations to rise the most quickly, followed by smoking, suppository (anal or vaginal insertion), insufflation (snorting), and ingestion (swallowing).

Ingestion does not produce a rush as forerunner to the high experienced with the use of heroin, which is most pronounced with intravenous use. While the onset of the rush induced by injection can occur in as little as a few seconds, the oral route of administration requires approximately half an hour before the high sets in. Thus, with both higher the dosage of heroin used and faster the route of administration used, the higher potential risk for psychological addiction.

Large doses of heroin can cause fatal respiratory depression, and the drug has been used for suicide or as a murder weapon. The serial killer Harold Shipman used diamorphine on his victims, and the subsequent Shipman Inquiry led to a tightening of the regulations surrounding the storage, prescribing and destruction of controlled drugs in the UK. John Bodkin Adams is also known to have used heroin as a murder weapon.

Because significant tolerance to respiratory depression develops quickly with continued use and is lost just as quickly during withdrawal, it is often difficult to determine whether a heroin lethal overdose was accidental, suicide or homicide. Examples include the overdose deaths of Sid Vicious, Janis Joplin, Tim Buckley, Hillel Slovak, Layne Staley, Bradley Nowell, Ted Binion, and River Phoenix.

Chronic use of heroin and other opioids has been shown to be a potential cause of hyponatremia, resultant because of excess vasopressin secretion.

Oral Oral use of heroin is less common than other methods of administration, mainly because there is little to no “rush”, and the effects are less potent. Heroin is entirely converted to morphine by means of first-pass metabolism, resulting in deacetylation when ingested. Heroin’s oral bioavailability is both dose-dependent (as is morphine’s) and significantly higher than oral use of morphine itself, reaching up to 64.2% for high doses and 45.6% for low doses; opiate-naïve users showed far less absorption of the drug at low doses, having bio-availabilities of only up to 22.9%. The maximum plasma concentration of morphine following oral administration of heroin was around twice as much as that of oral morphine.

Injection Injection, also known as “slamming”, “banging”, “shooting up”, “digging” or “mainlining”, is a popular method which carries relatively greater risks than other methods of administration. Heroin base (commonly found in Europe), when prepared for injection, will only dissolve in water when mixed with an acid (most commonly citric acid powder or lemon juice) and heated. Heroin in the east-coast United States is most commonly found in the hydrochloride salt form, requiring just water (and no heat) to dissolve. Users tend to initially inject in the easily accessible arm veins, but as these veins collapse over time, users resort to more dangerous areas of the body, such as the femoral vein in the groin.

Users who have used this route of administration often develop a deep vein thrombosis. Intravenous users can use a various single dose range using a hypodermic needle. The dose of heroin used for recreational purposes is dependent on the frequency and level of use: thus a first-time user may use between 5 and 20 mg, while an established addict may require several hundred mg per day. As with the injection of any drug, if a group of users share a common needle without sterilization procedures, blood-borne diseases, such as HIV or hepatitis, can be transmitted. The use of a common dispenser for water for the use in the preparation of the injection, as well as the sharing of spoons and/or filters can also cause the spread of blood-borne diseases. Many countries now supply small sterile spoons and filters for single use in order to prevent the spread of disease.

These dangers include the possibility of contracting a terrible disease like AIDS or hepatitis if you don’t take the time to be as sanitary as possible and not share needles, especially with grownups who are really dirty.

WHAT YOU NEED:

Alcohol swabs which are available in a box of about 100 for $2 at any supermarket.

A syringe – or as cool kids call them, “works”. And you need both the needle part and the other part. If you can’t get one, lots of times old people with diabetes have them – check grandma’s dresser.

A silver spoon. Finally a use for Grandma’s fine silver. Silver is vital!

Heroin, which is also called “dope”, “smack”, “horse”, “china white”, “skag” and other cool names.

HOW TO DO IT:

The “spoon”, thoroughly cleaned is next. In this example black tar heroin is used. In my area a $15 chunk is about the size of 2 tic-tac candies side-by-side and works just fine. It has no smell except for a faint smell of vinegar. It comes wrapped in plastic inside a tiny balloon. A chunk is placed in the spoon.

The syringe is used to suck up about 50-75 units of water and squirt it into the spoon. The spoon is then heated from the bottom with a lighter to make it dissolve better. The plunger can be pulled out of the syringe and used to stir the heroin solution. The end of the plunger should be clean before putting it back in the syringe.

A piece of cotton is rolled into a ball a little bigger than a tic-tac. It is a good idea to clean one’s fingers with an alcohol swab before rolling the cotton. The cotton is dropped into the heroin and it puffs up like a sponge. The tip of the syringe is pushed into the center of the cotton and the plunger is slowly pulled back until all of the heroin is sucked in. This cotton is necessary to filter out any particles, germs and such in the heroin solution.

The area on the body chosen for injection is thoroughly cleaned with an alcohol swab. I think the spot on the bend of the arm is so commonly used because it’s so darned easy to get the needle into the vein properly.

The needle is placed almost flat on the skin so it doesn’t get wiggled around too much. The needle is inserted so it goes down the length of the vein and not across it. Going across it just makes it way too easy to accidentally poke through the other side or pull out. Holding the syringe almost flat against the skin after you feel the needle is deep enough in keeps the syringe from accidentally being jostled around and the needle being pulled out or pushed through the side of the vein.

Now for the tricky part. You have to make sure that the needle is in the vein before injecting. If the heroin is injected when the needle isn’t in the vein the heroin will just form a big heroin blister which takes hours and hours to get absorbed by the body. Usually it will burn while it’s being injected if it’s not going in the vein. This is one way to tell if it’s not going in the vein.

You should also keep a close eye to see if a blister is forming. When the needle is inserted the plunger is pulled slowly a tiny bit to see if blood comes in. This shows that it’s in the vein. Sometimes when the plunger is pulled, only a slow trickle of blood comes in and the rest is air. With practice it’s easier to tell if this trickle indicates a good enough insertion into the vein.

Injecting a tiny bit of air (about an eighth-inch) with the heroin is harmless but if you are nervous about this the syringe could be tilted so the air floats to the other end. From personal experience a quarter-inch (about 10 units) of air being injected with heroin is harmless but there’s no need to make a habit of it. With a little practice you can be pretty sure the heroin is going in the vein without first checking for blood but still checking for a burning feeling where it’s being injected or a blister forming.

When trying heroin for the first few times start out with a tiny bit to see how your body reacts to it. Like cigarettes and whiskey and lots of foods like brussel sprouts, sometimes your stomach gets queasy when it isn’t used to it. You might even puke but that will go away.

You can also eat, smoke or sniff heroin. 

Smoking Smoking heroin refers to vaporizing it to inhale the resulting fumes, not burning it to inhale the resulting smoke. It is commonly smoked in glass pipes made from glass-blown Pyrex tubes and light bulbs. It can also be smoked off aluminum foil, which is heated underneath by a flame and the resulting smoke is inhaled through a tube of rolled up foil, This method is also known as “chasing the dragon”  (whereas smoking methamphetamine is known as “chasing the white dragon”).

Insufflation Another popular route to intake heroin is insufflation (snorting), where a user crushes the heroin into a fine powder and then gently inhales it (sometimes with a straw or a rolled-up banknote, as with cocaine) into the nose, where heroin is absorbed through the soft tissue in the mucous membrane of the sinus cavity and straight into the bloodstream. This method of administration redirects first-pass metabolism, with a quicker onset and higher bioavailability than oral administration, though the duration of action is shortened. This method is sometimes preferred by users who do not want to prepare and administer heroin for injection or smoking, but still experience a fast onset. Snorting heroin becomes an often unwanted route, once a user begins to inject the drug. The user may still get high on the drug from snorting, and experience a nod, but will not get a rush. A “rush” is caused by a large amount of heroin entering the body at once. When the drug is taken in through the nose, the user does not get the rush because the drug is absorbed slowly rather than instantly.

Suppository Little research has been focused on the suppository (anal insertion) or pessary (vaginal insertion) methods of administration, also known as “plugging”. These methods of administration are commonly carried out using an oral syringe. Heroin can be dissolved and withdrawn into an oral syringe which may then be lubricated and inserted into the anus or vagina before the plunger is pushed. The rectum or the vaginal canal is where the majority of the drug would likely be taken up, through the membranes lining their walls.

Drug Wars

In the United States, diacetylmorphine is a Schedule I drug according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, making it illegal to possess without a DEA license. According to the DEA, the majority of the heroin consumed in the United States comes from Mexico (50%) and Colombia (43-45%) via Mexican criminal cartels such as Sinaloa Cartel.

Don’t want your information monitored online? Whatever you do, don’t Google. Google Alternatives: DuckDuckGo / StartPage 

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
http://www.na.org/

How long will this drug stay in my system?

A drug test is a technical analysis of a biological specimen – for example urine, hair, blood, sweat, or oral fluid / saliva – to determine the presence or absence of specified parent drugs or their metabolites.

Urinalysis is the most common test type and used by federally mandated drug testing programs and is considered the Gold Standard of drug testing.

Opiates: From time of ingestion up to 2 to 3 days.

Codeine 2 to 3 days

Morphine 2 to 4 days

Methadone 7 to 30 days

Quotes: Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in God, some of us in whiskey and some in love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither.”
― W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

“Even as a junkie I stayed true [to vegetarianism] – ‘I shall have heroin, but I shan’t have a hamburger.’ What a sexy little paradox.”
― Russell Brand, My Booky Wook

“There was a thing called Heaven; but all the same they used to drink enormous quantities of alcohol.”

“There was a thing called the soul and a thing called immortality.”

“But they used to take morphia and cocaine.”

“Two thousand pharmacologists and biochemists were subsidized in A.F. 178.”

“Six years later it was being produced commercially. The perfect drug.”

“Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant.”

“All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.”

“Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology.”

“Stability was practically assured.”

― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in God, some of us in whiskey and some in love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither.”
― W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

“Junk turns the user into a plant. Plants do not feel pain since pain has no function in a stationary organism. Junk is a pain killer. A plant has no libido in the human or animal sense. Junk replaces the sex drive. Seeding is the sex of the plant and the function of opium is to delay seeding.

Perhaps the intense discomfort of withdrawal is the transition from plant back to animal, from a painless, sexless, timeless state back to sex and pain and time, from death back to life.”
― William S. Burroughs, Junky

Readers comment: “First of all, fuck heroin. I’ve lost more friends than I care to remember. However, I hate the drug, not the addict. I appreciate your posts and I believe the dissemination of knowledge is important. Thank you for your posts and your page, as well. You’re doing good work, even if everyone bashes you. I don’t agree with you 100% but I do for the most part about most things. This is the sort of thing that should be posted here. Again, fuck heroin but hate the drug, the disease, not the addict. Keep up the good work.”

War-on-Terror a $20 Trillion Failure

Hamza’s speech was released yesterday by al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As Sahab. It is the latest speech by Osama’s heir, who was given a starring role in al Qaeda’s productions last August.

At the beginning of the 9/11 wars, Hamza says, the “mujahideen were besieged in Afghanistan.” But today the “mujahideen are in Afghanistan and they have reached Sham [Syria], Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Somalia, the Indian Subcontinent, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, and Central Africa.” With the possible exception of Iraq, al Qaeda’s official branches and affiliated groups have a presence in each of the areas listed by Hamza.

Osama’s son taunts President Trump and his new administration, claiming that former President Obama “declared that he will end the wars, and that his era is an era of peace, and that he will close the open files that his predecessor left for him,” meaning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other issues. But Obama “has now left the White House and has also left open files for his successor,” Hamza says, because he was “incapable” of solving them and “because the force of the mujahideen stands before him.”

The ‘War on Terror’ has cost US taxpayers at least $1.46 trillion since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense’s cost of war report has revealed.

The 74-page DoD dossier was obtained by the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News. It breaks down the cost of the US’s various conflicts and reveals the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq account for the greatest chunk of change.

Operation Enduring Freedom (the name given to the ‘War on Terror’ between 2001 and 2014), Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq War) and Operation New Dawn (past operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011) made up the biggest expense. They cost a combined $1.315 trillion.

Current military operations cost $147.6 billion. This includes $102.9 billion for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the name given to the ‘War on Terror’ by Barack Obama at the end of 2014, and Operation Inherent Resolve, the US’s operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria which started in 2014, and has cost $17.1 billion.

Operation Noble Eagle, the US’s domestic air defense operation has cost $27.6 billion.

The report only includes direct war-related expenses, such as equipment, operating bases, training, paying troops as well as the costs related to feeding, housing and transporting them.

COST OF WAR NOT INCLUDED

The numbers don’t include veterans’ expenses, or the amount racked up by intelligence agencies in their war on terror. The numbers also don’t take into account the cost involved in rebuilding and post-conflict programs.

VETERANS

The Veterans Benefits Administration’s latest annual report found 1,060,408 veterans are receiving benefits, at an average of $15,907 each per year.

Veterans of the War on Terror’s benefits’ are costing $16.8 billion a year, and 1 million are receiving benefits at the moment.

According to a 2011 Harvard Kennedy School study, Afghanistan and Iraq veterans’ benefits were estimated to cost between $600 billion and $1.3 billion over 40 years.

The report found that $31.3 billion had been spent in the 10 years since 2001 on medical care and disability for almost 500,000 vets. It also found that Afghanistan and Iraq veterans were applying for benefits at far greater rates than previous wars.

The report found the “cost of caring for war veterans rises for several decades and peaks in 30-40 years or more after a conflict.”

(Un)INTELLIGENCE

The CIA’s classified operations, along with the NSA’s efforts to combat terrorism aren’t included in the total.

The report includes the total amount of funding given through war related-requests between 2001 and 2017, which is $1.7 billion and includes war spending, non-war spending on fuel and the cost of running the Noble Eagle base. It also includes an $83 billion in funds marked as “classified.”

US Intelligence agencies receive upwards of $66 billion budget to play with annually, a significant fraction of which goes to foreign operations.

The intelligence budget request for 2018 was $57.7 billion for the National Intelligence Program, which includes all programs, projects and activities of the intelligence community, and $20.7 billion for the Military Intelligence Program, which includes military intelligence operations. The NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency fall under both programs.

Despite the staggering amount spent on defense, President Trump has promised to “rebuild” the military which he says is “depleted.” He proposed a $603 billion budget for defense spending in March.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives have voted to pass $696 billion and $696.6 billion defense budgets, respectively.

In Trump budget, Lockheed gets almost as much as the State Department

The Washington Post

Of Lockheed Martin’s $51 billion in sales last year, nearly 70 percent, or $35.2 billion came from sales to the U.S. government. It’s a colossal figure, hard to comprehend.

So think of it this way: Lockheed’s government sales are nearly what the Trump administration proposed for the State Department next year in its recently released spending plan. Or $15 billion more than all of NASA. Or about the gross domestic product of Bolivia.

With a White House proposal to spend a massive amount on defense next year in what one consultant called an “eye-watering” budget for the defense industry, Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, could get even more.

Over the past decade, Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed, which employs 100,000 people across the globe, has averaged about $38 billion a year in federal sales, a reign during which, year after year, Lockheed has received more federal money than any other corporation.

Boeing is in second place with annual sales of $26.5 billion in 2016, a year in which the top five defense contractors — including General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman — had total sales of nearly $110 billion to the United States government, according to federal procurement data. The five biggest defense contractors took in more money from the U.S. government than the next 30 companies combined.

But no one can touch Lockheed, the manufacturer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The company is so big that some have likened it to a government agency and have quipped that Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed’s chief executive, is as powerful as a Cabinet secretary — or higher. When she gives her annual state of the company speeches, flanked by a pair of flags — one American, one with the company logo — she looks, well, presidential.

President Trump has opened the floodgates for defense spending, proposing $716 billion for the Pentagon, a 13 percent increase. And the defense industry is poised to profit, with Lockheed in the lead.

Contrary to the promised “peace dividend,” the U.S. has maintained its military arsenal and used it to enforce its agenda with successive and intensifying military interventions–from the use of conventional troops in Iraq, to “humanitarian intervention” in Haiti, to drone wars in Central Asia.

US MILITARY SPENDING (Follow the money)

Let’s look at how the federal government spends our money…

The pie chart below shows the distribution of the total federal budget spending for FY 2013.

The “Social Security & Unemployment” and “Medicare & Health” take on a major fraction of the federal spending, amounting to about 58% of the total outlays, whereas “Military” spending appears to amount to just 18%. The problem with this representation is that the Social Security & Medicare are parts of the mandatory spending directly financed by the dedicated revenue raised from payroll taxes, as imposed by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), not through the Federal income tax and thus represents a different Treasury account.

If we separate the mandatory spending and look only at the discretionary spending component appropriated by Congress on an annual basis and for which all the federal programs compete, a very different picture arises.

The Military (“National Defense” budget function 050) consumes nearly 57% of the discretionary budget in comparison to Education (6%), Science (3%), Energy & Environment (3%), etc. Military spending has sharply risen since the beginning of the War on Terrorism, from $294b in FY 2000 to $705b in FY 2013 (data from Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2013, Table 6.1).

Military spending in inflation-adjusted dollars is now greater than at any time since World War II — even greater than during the peak spending years of the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the Persian Gulf War (figure credit: RandomNonviolence).

A large portion of this spending goes to the military contractors, companies whose profits and viability critically depend on the size of the military budget. Defense contractors actively lobby and donate campaign money to the members of Congress who sit on the Armed Forces and Appropriations Committees which oversee military spending. The table below shows the amounts of federal contracts awarded to the five largest defense contractors, and the corresponding expenses on lobbying and political campaign contributions for 2011.

Sources: Center for Responsive Politics, FedSpending.org – a project of OMB watch

You can see that these companies are having an excellent return on their investment. To be fair we must also mention that defense companies do employ many workers across the country who are reminded by their bosses of potential job losses if spending decreases. Undoubtedly, the Military budget can be reduced at such a rate as to allow for natural job attrition from the defense sector to avoid the defense contractors having to fire their employees, but this is never discussed. Instead we hear that cuts to the Military budget will result in huge job loss for the economy; however, research shows otherwise. The Political Economy Research Institute conducted a study of “The U.S.

Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities” concluding that $1 billion spent on domestic priorities will create substantially more jobs within the U.S. economy than would the same $1 billion spent on the military: 1.5 times more in Clean Energy and 2.4 times more in Education. Therefore, spending shifted from the defense to the domestic sectors of the economy will actually create jobs not the other way around. You can watch interview with the institute’s co-director: Military spending: Bang for the Buck?

Similarly, reductions in the Military budget should be accompanied by a natural attrition of military personnel toward a more sustainable, leaner size for the Armed Forces. Veterans for Peace does not support pay cuts or forced lays offs of military personnel in order to balance a federal budget.

Reduction in the Military budget does not threaten our national security. Even if defense spending were reduced by half, the US would easily remain the world’s strongest military superpower. The figure below shows how the US military spending compares to the rest of the world. The US spends almost 5 times more than China on the military, 10 times more than Russia, and 95 times more than Iran!

And do not expect the DoD to be careful with that money. In 2001 the US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted that the DoD cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions, supposedly because of the complexity and the multitude of accounting systems which do not conform with each other. Read Rumsfeld’s entire speech.

The DoD continues on the goose chase after the loose money preparing for its first audit by 2017 amidst the Government Accountability Office’s sobering assessment of the department’s accounting issues.

The defense contracting systems is ripe with fraud and abuse and according to a DoD report hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade.

Proponents of high military expenditures commonly emphasize that military spending as a percentage of GDP has considerably declined since the end of the WWII as shown in the figure below suggesting that military spending is already at historically low levels.

The problem with this argument is that military spending as a percentage of GDP represents the burden such spending puts on the entire economy, but does not indicate the burden military spending places on the taxpayers. The general decline in military spending as a percentage of the GDP is a testament to economic growth, not to a reduction in military appropriations, which have continued to increase since the end of WWII even when adjusted for inflation as was previously shown. The accurate measure of the burden military spending puts on the taxpayer is the percentage of the discretionary budget spent on the military as shown below.

This fraction has changed significantly since the end of the WWII and does not manifest a consistent downward trend. On the contrary, since the beginning of the War on Terrorism the fraction spent on the military is on the rise.

In any case, the US spends more of its GDP on the military than any other major military power as shown below, and far surpasses those nations in spending when looking in absolute amounts. 

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The Destruction of Black Wall Street

By Josie Pickens, Ebony

Greenwood, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa, was the type of community that African Americans are still, today, attempting to reclaim and rebuild.  Black Wall Street was modern, majestic, sophisticated and unapologetically Black. Tragically, it was also the site of one of the bloodiest and most horrendous race riots (and acts of terrorism) that the United States has ever experienced.

Today marks ninety-two years since as many as 300 African Americans lost their lives and more than 9,000 were left homeless when the small town was attacked, looted and literally burned to the ground beginning in 1921.  It’s impossible, however, to realize what was lost in Greenwood, which was affectionately known as “Black Wall Street.”

The Greenwood community seems almost imagined when we examine it through a historical lens.  The oil booms of the early 1900’s had many moving to Tulsa for a shot at quick economic gains and high life, and African Americans hoped to prosper from the new industry as well.  Tulsa, like many cities and towns throughout the US, was hostilely segregated, with African Americans settling into the northern region of the city.  As we often saw before integration, Blacks in the area created entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves, which housed an impressive business center that included banks, hotels, cafes, clothiers, movie theaters, and contemporary homes.  Greenwood residents enjoyed many luxuries that their White neighbors did not, including indoor plumbing and a remarkable school system that superiorly educated Black children.

It was pure envy, and a vow to put progressive, high achieving African Americans in their place that would cause the demise of the Black Mecca many called “Little Africa”, and its destruction began the way much terrorism, violence and dispossession against African Americans did during that era.  A young White woman accused a young Black man of attempted sexual assault, which gave local mobs and White men acting as police just cause to invade the unsuspecting community. On the malevolent and horrifying attack, Linda Christenson writes the following:

“The term “race riot” does not adequately describe the events of May 31—June 1, 1921 in Greenwood… In fact, the term itself implies that both blacks and whites might be equally to blame for the lawlessness and violence. The historical record documents a sustained and murderous assault on black lives and property. This assault was met by a brave but unsuccessful armed defense of their community by some black World War I veterans and others.

During the night and day of the riot, deputized whites killed more than 300 African Americans. They looted and burned to the ground 40 square blocks of 1,265 African American homes, including hospitals, schools, and churches, and destroyed 150 businesses. White deputies and members of the National Guard arrested and detained 6,000 black Tulsans who were released only upon being vouched for by a white employer or other white citizen. Nine thousand African Americans were left homeless and lived in tents well into the winter of 1921.”

Recently, the mother of a Palestian activist friend of mine asked me why African Americans don’t fight harder for reparations. It was a difficult question to answer, but my most immediate response centered on the historical erasure of communities like Greenwood and the state-sponsored violence against African Americans that created its expiry.

Even after slavery was abolished, any advancements towards the American dream, that Blacks paid most dearly to establish, was met with revulsion and terror, often from those whose legal obligation was to serve and protect.  For that a debt is surely owed.

Further, when we consider the deaths of those Black Tulsans and the inevitable property loss that followed, we again see one example of many that proves how wealth inequities and disparities became a part of the substance of this nation- inequities and disparities that must be considered before we go blaming Black youth for the catastrophes this nation has endorsed.

And as we consider what has become the new face of terror, we should never forget that Greenwood was bombed from the sky by White local and national law enforcement organizations.

To learn more about the attack on “Black Wall Street,” check out Scott Ellsworth’s account here. Never forget.

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The US Police Force Is an Extension of Slavery

False Flag: How Obama Armed Syrian Rebels to Set Up an Excuse to Attack Assad

By The Daily Bell Staff

Evidence suggests a false flag chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people was initiated by Syrian rebels with the help of the United States in order to justify a U.S. Military attack on a Syrian base.

President Trump approved the bombing of the Syrian military base controlled by Bashir al-Assad supposedly to destroy the Syrian government’s ability to launch further chemical attacks on civilians.

“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump said in remarks from Mar-a-Lago, his family compound in Palm Beach, Florida. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

But Trump’s statements contradict the reality that rebel groups have been trained to secure, monitor, and transport chemical weapons. Included in the opposition to Assad are terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. Should we believe these rebels’ claims against Assad, especially given their access to chemical weapons?

Documents from Wikileaks show that the U.S. State Department wanted to help rebels overthrow Syrian Dictator Assad in order to strengthen Israel’s position against Iran. The State Department discussed how Iran and Syria trained forces in opposition to Israel. The fall of Assad, they said, would destroy the only Iranian ally in the region positioned to help Iran in the event of Israeli aggression to stop Iran’s alleged nuclear program.

Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, U.S. diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition.

The State Department makes it quite clear their belief that “Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.”

This is nothing new, and really not surprising, as the U.S. has been involved in dozens of similar operations around the world. But just how far would the U.S. and Israel go to bring down Assad?

Just what type of training would be given to the rebels to help overthrow Assad? The groundwork had already been laid out by President Obama. As soon as chemical weapons were used by Assad, the international community would have the justification to become more involved in removing him from power. We know they were interested in doing so regardless of whether or not he used chemical weapons against the people of Syria.

CNN reported in 2012 that America was involved in training the rebels to secure and monitor chemical weapons sites.

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN.

The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.

This confirms that rebel forces had access to chemical weapons and that the U.S. helped familiarize rebel groups with storing and transporting the weapons.

But a removed article from The Daily Mail seems to prove that the U.S. had planned on helping the rebels actually use chemical weapons as well. The article was supposedly removed because the source of the information was untrustworthy. A Malaysian hacker was said to have taken emails from British defense contractors from an unprotected server.

Leaked emails have allegedly proved that the White House gave the green light to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that could be blamed on Assad’s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country.

A report released on Monday contains an email exchange between two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence where a scheme ‘approved by Washington’ is outlined explaining that Qatar would fund rebel forces in Syria to use chemical weapons.

Barack Obama made it clear to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad that the U.S. would not tolerate Syria using chemical weapons against its own people.

Lending credence to this theory that the United States trained rebel forces in the use of chemical weapons in order to initiate a false flag attack are the events surrounding the death of Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens in 2012.

The story is far from Trump’s claim that the U.S. attempts to “prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

The U.S. is an active player in moving weapons all throughout the middle east, arming all sorts of rebel groups, militias, and governments. It appears the United States funneled weapons out of Libya to provide Syrian rebels the ability to fight Assad.

A book called The Real Benghazi Story: What the White House and Hillary Don’t Want You to Know details the role Stevens fulfilled in Libya of brokering weapons exports from Libya to countries which backed the Syrian rebels.

The author, Aaron Klein, said a group called the February 17 Brigade worked with the CIA to provide security for a special operation in Benghazi and helped facilitate weapons transfers.

The exact nature of the U.S. involvement with the February 17 Brigade that guarded the U.S. special mission might have been unintentionally exposed when a Libyan weapons dealer formerly with the Brigade told Reuters in an in-person interview he had helped ship weapons from Benghazi to the rebels fighting in Syria.

Klein noted that no one seems to have connected the dots from what the weapons dealer said to the activities taking place inside the Benghazi compound and whether the Brigade serves as a cut out to ship weapons.

In the Reuters interview published June 18, 2013, Libyan warlord Abdul Basit Haroun declared he is behind some of the biggest shipments of weapons from Libya to Syria. Most of the weapons were sent to Turkey, he said, where they were, in turn, smuggled into neighboring Syria.

It was Steven’s job to facilitate the retrieval of these Libyan weapons and funnel them to U.S. interests. His death may have been related to militia groups inside Libya not trusting the United States with these weapons, or wanting them for their own use or profit.

Libyan weapons were shipped to places like Turkey which were already participating in training the Syrian rebels. Part of this training, we know, had to do with chemical weapons.

We also know that the U.S. wanted to see Assad brought down and that they had drawn a line over the use of chemical weapons. They needed a chemical weapons attack to justify stronger interventions in the conflict against Assad.

That chemical attack happened, followed by the subsequent U.S. bombing of an Assad base.

We know the terrorist groups forming the opposition to Assad had access to chemical weapons.

Is this enough evidence to prove the United States facilitated a false flag chemical weapons attack in order to justify military intervention, and finally defeat Assad, in support of Israel?

Erdoğan Not Assad, Gassed Syrian civilians – The Red Line and the Rat Line

By Seymour M. Hersh

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.

Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’ (Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: ‘No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.’)

Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention. The others, including the ringleader, Haytham Qassab, for whom the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 25 years, were released pending trial. In the meantime the Turkish press has been rife with speculation that the Erdoğan administration has been covering up the extent of its involvement with the rebels. In a news conference last summer, Aydin Sezgin, Turkey’s ambassador to Moscow, dismissed the arrests and claimed to reporters that the recovered ‘sarin’ was merely ‘anti-freeze’.

The DIA paper took the arrests as evidence that al-Nusra was expanding its access to chemical weapons. It said Qassab had ‘self-identified’ as a member of al-Nusra, and that he was directly connected to Abd-al-Ghani, the ‘ANF emir for military manufacturing’. Qassab and his associate Khalid Ousta worked with Halit Unalkaya, an employee of a Turkish firm called Zirve Export, who provided ‘price quotes for bulk quantities of sarin precursors’. Abd-al-Ghani’s plan was for two associates to ‘perfect a process for making sarin, then go to Syria to train others to begin large scale production at an unidentified lab in Syria’. The DIA paper said that one of his operatives had purchased a precursor on the ‘Baghdad chemical market’, which ‘has supported at least seven CW efforts since 2004’.

A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN’s activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March in Khan Al-Assal, a village near Aleppo. In its final report in December, the mission said that at least 19 civilians and one Syrian soldier were among the fatalities, along with scores of injured. It had no mandate to assign responsibility for the attack, but the person with knowledge of the UN’s activities said: ‘Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.’

In the months before the attacks began, a former senior Defense Department official told me, the DIA was circulating a daily classified report known as SYRUP on all intelligence related to the Syrian conflict, including material on chemical weapons. But in the spring, distribution of the part of the report concerning chemical weapons was severely curtailed on the orders of Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. ‘Something was in there that triggered a shit fit by McDonough,’ the former Defense Department official said. ‘One day it was a huge deal, and then, after the March and April sarin attacks’ – he snapped his fingers – ‘it’s no longer there.’ The decision to restrict distribution was made as the joint chiefs ordered intensive contingency planning for a possible ground invasion of Syria whose primary objective would be the elimination of chemical weapons.

The former intelligence official said that many in the US national security establishment had long been troubled by the president’s red line: ‘The joint chiefs asked the White House, “What does red line mean? How does that translate into military orders? Troops on the ground? Massive strike? Limited strike?” They tasked military intelligence to study how we could carry out the threat. They learned nothing more about the president’s reasoning.’

In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.

Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August, the day Parliament voted against Cameron’s bid to join the intervention, the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The French air force – a crucial player in the 2011 strikes on Libya – was deeply committed, according to an account in Le Nouvel Observateur; François Hollande had ordered several Rafale fighter-bombers to join the American assault. Their targets were reported to be in western Syria.

By the last days of August the president had given the Joint Chiefs a fixed deadline for the launch. ‘H hour was to begin no later than Monday morning [2 September], a massive assault to neutralise Assad,’ the former intelligence official said. So it was a surprise to many when during a speech in the White House Rose Garden on 31 August Obama said that the attack would be put on hold, and he would turn to Congress and put it to a vote.

At this stage, Obama’s premise – that only the Syrian army was capable of deploying sarin – was unravelling. Within a few days of the 21 August attack, the former intelligence official told me, Russian military intelligence operatives had recovered samples of the chemical agent from Ghouta. They analysed it and passed it on to British military intelligence; this was the material sent to Porton Down. (A spokesperson for Porton Down said: ‘Many of the samples analysed in the UK tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.’ MI6 said that it doesn’t comment on intelligence matters.)

The former intelligence official said the Russian who delivered the sample to the UK was ‘a good source – someone with access, knowledge and a record of being trustworthy’. After the first reported uses of chemical weapons in Syria last year, American and allied intelligence agencies ‘made an effort to find the answer as to what if anything, was used – and its source’, the former intelligence official said. ‘We use data exchanged as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The DIA’s baseline consisted of knowing the composition of each batch of Soviet-manufactured chemical weapons. But we didn’t know which batches the Assad government currently had in its arsenal.

Within days of the Damascus incident we asked a source in the Syrian government to give us a list of the batches the government currently had. This is why we could confirm the difference so quickly.’

The process hadn’t worked as smoothly in the spring, the former intelligence official said, because the studies done by Western intelligence ‘were inconclusive as to the type of gas it was. The word “sarin” didn’t come up. There was a great deal of discussion about this, but since no one could conclude what gas it was, you could not say that Assad had crossed the president’s red line.’ By 21 August, the former intelligence official went on, ‘the Syrian opposition clearly had learned from this and announced that “sarin” from the Syrian army had been used, before any analysis could be made, and the press and White House jumped at it. Since it now was sarin, “It had to be Assad.”’

The UK defence staff who relayed the Porton Down findings to the joint chiefs were sending the Americans a message, the former intelligence official said: ‘We’re being set up here.’ (This account made sense of a terse message a senior official in the CIA sent in late August: ‘It was not the result of the current regime. UK & US know this.’) By then the attack was a few days away and American, British and French planes, ships and submarines were at the ready.

The officer ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of the attack was General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs. From the beginning of the crisis, the former intelligence official said, the joint chiefs had been sceptical of the administration’s argument that it had the facts to back up its belief in Assad’s guilt. They pressed the DIA and other agencies for more substantial evidence. ‘There was no way they thought Syria would use nerve gas at that stage, because Assad was winning the war,’ the former intelligence official said. Dempsey had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. Last April, after an optimistic assessment of rebel progress by the secretary of state, John Kerry, in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that ‘there’s a risk that this conflict has become stalemated.’

Dempsey’s initial view after 21 August was that a US strike on Syria – under the assumption that the Assad government was responsible for the sarin attack – would be a military blunder, the former intelligence official said. The Porton Down report caused the joint chiefs to go to the president with a more serious worry: that the attack sought by the White House would be an unjustified act of aggression. It was the joint chiefs who led Obama to change course. The official White House explanation for the turnabout – the story the press corps told – was that the president, during a walk in the Rose Garden with Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, suddenly decided to seek approval for the strike from a bitterly divided Congress with which he’d been in conflict for years. The former Defense Department official told me that the White House provided a different explanation to members of the civilian leadership of the Pentagon: the bombing had been called off because there was intelligence ‘that the Middle East would go up in smoke’ if it was carried out.

The president’s decision to go to Congress was initially seen by senior aides in the White House, the former intelligence official said, as a replay of George W. Bush’s gambit in the autumn of 2002 before the invasion of Iraq: ‘When it became clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, Congress, which had endorsed the Iraqi war, and the White House both shared the blame and repeatedly cited faulty intelligence. If the current Congress were to vote to endorse the strike, the White House could again have it both ways – wallop Syria with a massive attack and validate the president’s red line commitment, while also being able to share the blame with Congress if it came out that the Syrian military wasn’t behind the attack.’ The turnabout came as a surprise even to the Democratic leadership in Congress. In September the Wall Street Journal reported that three days before his Rose Garden speech Obama had telephoned Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, ‘to talk through the options’. She later told colleagues, according to the Journal, that she hadn’t asked the president to put the bombing to a congressional vote.

Obama’s move for congressional approval quickly became a dead end. ‘Congress was not going to let this go by,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Congress made it known that, unlike the authorisation for the Iraq war, there would be substantive hearings.’ At this point, there was a sense of desperation in the White House, the former intelligence official said. ‘And so out comes Plan B. Call off the bombing strike and Assad would agree to unilaterally sign the chemical warfare treaty and agree to the destruction of all of chemical weapons under UN supervision.’ At a press conference in London on 9 September, Kerry was still talking about intervention: ‘The risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting.’ But when a reporter asked if there was anything Assad could do to stop the bombing, Kerry said: ‘Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week … But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.’ As the New York Times reported the next day, the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards had first been discussed by Obama and Putin in the summer of 2012. Although the strike plans were shelved, the administration didn’t change its public assessment of the justification for going to war. ‘There is zero tolerance at that level for the existence of error,’ the former intelligence official said of the senior officials in the White House. ‘They could not afford to say: “We were wrong.”’ (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The Assad regime, and only the Assad regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that took place on 21 August.’)

The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.)  In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations.

It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’

Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,’ the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels. On 28 November 2012, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reported that the previous day rebels near Aleppo had used what was almost certainly a manpad to shoot down a Syrian transport helicopter. ‘The Obama administration,’ Warrick wrote, ‘has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.’ Two Middle Eastern intelligence officials fingered Qatar as the source, and a former US intelligence analyst speculated that the manpads could have been obtained from Syrian military outposts overrun by the rebels. There was no indication that the rebels’ possession of manpads was likely the unintended consequence of a covert US programme that was no longer under US control.

By the end of 2012, it was believed throughout the American intelligence community that the rebels were losing the war. ‘Erdoğan was pissed,’ the former intelligence official said, ‘and felt he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money and the cut-off was seen as a betrayal.’ In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability. ‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond in March and April.’

There was no public sign of discord when Erdoğan and Obama met on 16 May 2013 at the White House. At a later press conference Obama said that they had agreed that Assad ‘needs to go’. Asked whether he thought Syria had crossed the red line, Obama acknowledged that there was evidence such weapons had been used, but added, ‘it is important for us to make sure that we’re able to get more specific information about what exactly is happening there.’ The red line was still intact.

An American foreign policy expert who speaks regularly with officials in Washington and Ankara told me about a working dinner Obama held for Erdoğan during his May visit. The meal was dominated by the Turks’ insistence that Syria had crossed the red line and their complaints that Obama was reluctant to do anything about it. Obama was accompanied by John Kerry and Tom Donilon, the national security adviser who would soon leave the job. Erdoğan was joined by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s foreign minister, and Hakan Fidan, the head of the MIT. Fidan is known to be fiercely loyal to Erdoğan, and has been seen as a consistent backer of the radical rebel opposition in Syria.

The foreign policy expert told me that the account he heard originated with Donilon. (It was later corroborated by a former US official, who learned of it from a senior Turkish diplomat.) According to the expert, Erdoğan had sought the meeting to demonstrate to Obama that the red line had been crossed, and had brought Fidan along to state the case. When Erdoğan tried to draw Fidan into the conversation, and Fidan began speaking, Obama cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ Erdoğan tried to bring Fidan in a second time, and Obama again cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ At that point, an exasperated Erdoğan said, ‘But your red line has been crossed!’ and, the expert told me, ‘Donilon said Erdoğan “fucking waved his finger at the president inside the White House”.’ Obama then pointed at Fidan and said: ‘We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria.’ (Donilon, who joined the Council on Foreign Relations last July, didn’t respond to questions about this story. The Turkish Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to questions about the dinner. A spokesperson for the National Security Council confirmed that the dinner took place and provided a photograph showing Obama, Kerry, Donilon, Erdoğan, Fidan and Davutoğlu sitting at a table. ‘Beyond that,’ she said, ‘I’m not going to read out the details of their discussions.’)

But Erdoğan did not leave empty handed. Obama was still permitting Turkey to continue to exploit a loophole in a presidential executive order prohibiting the export of gold to Iran, part of the US sanctions regime against the country. In March 2012, responding to sanctions of Iranian banks by the EU, the SWIFT electronic payment system, which facilitates cross-border payments, expelled dozens of Iranian financial institutions, severely restricting the country’s ability to conduct international trade. The US followed with the executive order in July, but left what came to be known as a ‘golden loophole’: gold shipments to private Iranian entities could continue. Turkey is a major purchaser of Iranian oil and gas, and it took advantage of the loophole by depositing its energy payments in Turkish lira in an Iranian account in Turkey; these funds were then used to purchase Turkish gold for export to confederates in Iran. Gold to the value of $13 billion reportedly entered Iran in this way between March 2012 and July 2013.

The programme quickly became a cash cow for corrupt politicians and traders in Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. ‘The middlemen did what they always do,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Take 15 per cent. The CIA had estimated that there was as much as two billion dollars in skim. Gold and Turkish lira were sticking to fingers.’ The illicit skimming flared into a public ‘gas for gold’ scandal in Turkey in December, and resulted in charges against two dozen people, including prominent businessmen and relatives of government officials, as well as the resignations of three ministers, one of whom called for Erdoğan to resign. The chief executive of a Turkish state-controlled bank that was in the middle of the scandal insisted that more than $4.5 million in cash found by police in shoeboxes during a search of his home was for charitable donations.

Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz reported in Foreign Policy that the Obama administration closed the golden loophole in January 2013, but ‘lobbied to make sure the legislation … did not take effect for six months’. They speculated that the administration wanted to use the delay as an incentive to bring Iran to the bargaining table over its nuclear programme, or to placate its Turkish ally in the Syrian civil war. The delay permitted Iran to ‘accrue billions of dollars more in gold, further undermining the sanctions regime’.

The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdoğan exposed politically and militarily. ‘One of the issues at that May summit was the fact that Turkey is the only avenue to supply the rebels in Syria,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘It can’t come through Jordan because the terrain in the south is wide open and the Syrians are all over it. And it can’t come through the valleys and hills of Lebanon – you can’t be sure who you’d meet on the other side.’ Without US military support for the rebels, the former intelligence official said, ‘Erdoğan’s dream of having a client state in Syria is evaporating and he thinks we’re the reason why. When Syria wins the war, he knows the rebels are just as likely to turn on him – where else can they go? So now he will have thousands of radicals in his backyard.’
A US intelligence consultant told me that a few weeks before 21 August he saw a highly classified briefing prepared for Dempsey and the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, which described ‘the acute anxiety’ of the Erdoğan administration about the rebels’ dwindling prospects. The analysis warned that the Turkish leadership had expressed ‘the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response’. By late summer, the Syrian army still had the advantage over the rebels, the former intelligence official said, and only American air power could turn the tide. In the autumn, the former intelligence official went on, the US intelligence analysts who kept working on the events of 21 August ‘sensed that Syria had not done the gas attack. But the 500 pound gorilla was, how did it happen? The immediate suspect was the Turks, because they had all the pieces to make it happen.’

As intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks were gathered, the intelligence community saw evidence to support its suspicions. ‘We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’ Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack. ‘Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.’ Erdoğan’s problems in Syria would soon be over: ‘Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria, or at least that was the idea. But it did not work out that way.’

The post-attack intelligence on Turkey did not make its way to the White House. ‘Nobody wants to talk about all this,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘There is great reluctance to contradict the president, although no all-source intelligence community analysis supported his leap to convict. There has not been one single piece of additional evidence of Syrian involvement in the sarin attack produced by the White House since the bombing raid was called off. My government can’t say anything because we have acted so irresponsibly. And since we blamed Assad, we can’t go back and blame Erdoğan.’

Turkey’s willingness to manipulate events in Syria to its own purposes seemed to be demonstrated late last month, a few days before a round of local elections, when a recording, allegedly of a government national security meeting, was posted to YouTube. It included discussion of a false-flag operation that would justify an incursion by the Turkish military in Syria. The operation centred on the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the revered Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, which is near Aleppo and was ceded to Turkey in 1921, when Syria was under French rule. One of the Islamist rebel factions was threatening to destroy the tomb as a site of idolatry, and the Erdoğan administration was publicly threatening retaliation if harm came to it. According to a Reuters report of the leaked conversation, a voice alleged to be Fidan’s spoke of creating a provocation: ‘Now look, my commander, if there is to be justification, the justification is I send four men to the other side. I get them to fire eight missiles into empty land [in the vicinity of the tomb]. That’s not a problem. Justification can be created.’ The Turkish government acknowledged that there had been a national security meeting about threats emanating from Syria, but said the recording had been manipulated. The government subsequently blocked public access to YouTube.

Barring a major change in policy by Obama, Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian civil war is likely to go on. ‘I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdoğan’s continued support for the rebels, especially now that it’s going so wrong,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The answer was: “We’re screwed.” We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdoğan, but Turkey is a special case. They’re a Nato ally. The Turks don’t trust the West. They can’t live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests. If we went public with what we know about Erdoğan’s role with the gas, it’d be disastrous. The Turks would say: “We hate you for telling us what we can and can’t do.”’

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