Tag Archives: Cyril Smith

‘deep state vs. Trump state’: Bill Kristol lets the cat out of the bag

“The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction.” 1 — Mike Lofgren

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On February 14th, Dennis Kucinich, former Democrat Representative from Ohio and twice candidate for Democratic nomination for President, gave an extremely frank interview on Fox News calling for Americans to “wake up” in light of the leaked revelations that forced the resignation of Gen. Michael Flynn as President Trump’s National Security Advisor.

Here is an overview of what Kucinich said:

“Now what’s at the core of this is an effort by some in the intelligence community to upend any positive relationship between the US and Russia… The American people have to know that there’s a game going inside the intelligence community where there are those who want to separate the US from Russia in a way that would reignite the Cold War. That’s what’s at the bottom of all this…

“What’s going on in the intelligence community with this new president is unprecedented. They’re making every effort to offend him. Who knows what the truth is anymore. This is like the electronic version of Mad magazine: spy versus spy…

“There’s something wrong going on here in the intelligence community. I want to remind the viewers… that in the closing months of the Obama administration they put together a deal with Russia to create peace in Syria. A few days later, a military strike in Syria killed a hundred Syrian soldiers and that ended the agreement. What happened is inside the intelligence and the Pentagon there was a deliberate effort to sabotage an agreement the White House made.

This is like ‘deep state’. This is like some kind of a spy novel. But it’s real and the American people have to understand that a game is being played with the security of our country.

“This isn’t about whether you’re for or against Donald Trump. Hello! This is about whether or not the American people are bystanders in a power play inside the intelligence community the outcome of which could determine our relationship with Russia and whether or not billions of dollars are going to be spent in a new Cold War.”

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Now before offering my own broader thoughts below, I wish first to direct readers’ attention to an excellent recent article by Mike Whitney that lays out the background details and thereby better contextualises the ongoing ‘deep state’ campaign against the Trump administration. Here are just the opening paragraphs which usefully provide a flavour of Whitney’s standpoint:

The New York Times is currently engaged in one of its most ambitious projects: Removing a sitting president from office. In fact, Times columnist Nicolas Kristof even said as much in a recent article titled “How Can We Get Rid of Trump?”

Frankly, it’s an idea that I find attractive, mainly because I think Trump’s views on immigration, the environment, human rights, civil liberties and deregulation are so uniformly horrible, they could destroy the country. But the Times objections are different from my own. The reason the Times wants Trump removed is because Trump wants to normalize relations with Russia which threatens to undermine Washington’s effort to project US power deeper into Central Asia.

Trump’s decision to normalize relations with Moscow poses a direct threat to Washington’s broader imperial strategy to control China’s growth, topple Putin, spread military bases across Central Asia, implement trade agreements that maintain the dominant role of western-owned mega-corporations, and derail attempts by Russia and China to link the wealthy EU to Asia by expanding the web of pipeline corridors and high-speed rail that will draw the continents closer together creating the largest and most populous free trade zone the world has ever seen.

This is what the US foreign policy establishment and, by inclusion, the Times are trying to avoid at all cost. The economic integration of Asia and Europe must be blocked to preserve Washington’s hegemonic grip on world power. That’s the whole deal in a nutshell.

So don’t be fooled, the Times doesn’t care any more [sic] about the suffering of immigrant families who have been victimized by Trump’s extremist policies than they do about the three million refugees that have fled America’s wars in Libya and Syria. The fact that the Times continues to mischaracterize this vast human exodus as some sort of natural disaster instead of the predictable spillover from persistent US aggression, just confirms the fact that the Times is not a reliable source of unbiased information at all. It is a political publication that crafts a political narrative reflecting the views of politically-minded elites whose strategic objectives cannot be achieved without more brainwashing, more coercion and more war. 2

Click here to read Mike Whitney’s full article entitled “Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas”.

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Deep state vs. Trump State

“But quite frankly there is an outside source which we refer to as the ‘deep state’ or the ‘shadow government’. There is a lot of influence by people which are actually more powerful than our government itself [or] our president” 3 — Ron Paul (shortly after Trump was elected)

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Listen attentively to the blunt advice Senate Democrat Leader, Chuck Schumer, gave Trump, speaking with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last month:

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.” 4

The threat to the newly elected Commander-in-Chief of the United States and ‘leader of the free world’ is plain. In fact, how could it be any plainer? Think you’re in charge, Mr President? Well, better watch your back!

More recently we have also heard from prominent neo-con William Kristol, co-founder with Robert Kagan of the ill-famed Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank, which set the stage strategically at the eve of the presidency of Bush jnr., right on cue for the “new Pearl Harbor” attacks of September 11th and the ensuing “Global War of Terror”. 5

On Valentine’s Day, Kristol tweeted:

Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump State.

This too is more than simply veiled threat. But then, to precisely what is Kristol referring when he eggs on the mysterious forces of the ‘deep state’, so antithetical (to judge from his own words) both to democracy and the US constitution? And to repeat, given the surrounding circumstances, Kristol’s tweet is more than a veiled threat, it is a gloat.

On the following day, The Atlantic magazine published an article asking “Are Deep-State Leakers Defending Democracy or Corroding it?” by David Graham, who correctly says:

[Yet] Schumer’s warning, even if realistic, is chilling: Not only does it raise the possibility of unelected, faceless bureaucrats using classified information to retaliate against a duly elected president, but that comes in the wake of the intelligence scandals of the Obama years. Edward Snowden’s revelations showed the vast powers that the NSA had accrued and could use, even on American citizens, with little or no oversight.

Further down this same piece, Graham then poses that weightier question: exactly what is the nature of this network of influence known as the ‘deep state’ which is suddenly flexing its muscles rather openly. Omer Taspinar, one of his respondents and a fellow at the well-connected Brookings Institute, supplies this eye-opening description:

“A clandestine network of retired intelligence officials, mafiosi, and others who engage in prosecutable criminal activity.” 6

His alarming portrait actually pertains to the Turkish ‘deep state’; and this, according to Taspinar, is ‘something different’. Indeed, notwithstanding Turkey is one of the West’s key allies with the second largest military force in the Nato bloc, it is basically an open secret that factions within the top echelons of its state institutions and military agencies engage in covert criminal activities on a regular basis: whether in the dirty war against Kurdish separatists and other regime opponents or, conversely, with intent to undermine President Erdogen and his government.

That ISIS and related Islamist terrorists have, for instance, been allowed free passage back and forth across the Turkish-Syrian border is a well-established fact and cannot be contested. Then, last July the world witnessed a dramatic but failed coup attempt which Erdogen blamed on the cultish CIA-backed fifth column ‘Gülen movement’. Evidently there is a great deal bubbling beneath the surface in Turkish ‘deep state’ politics. Indeed, if you type ‘deep state’ into google you will find myriad links to ‘Turkish deep state’; Turkey being the byword for ‘deep state’.

Back across the Bosphorus, on the other hand, we generally put more trust in the sanctity of our western democracies which we hope are better protected by constitutional systems of checks and balances. Nevertheless, criminal collusion certainly does take place at the highest levels of our society. Two of the plainest recent examples worth citing are Iran-Contra in America and the murderous hoax surrounding Iraqi WMDs. This second involved collusion between agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Such high-level conspiracies in our own systems are of course pigeonholed as aberrations, ‘lapses’ or ‘failures’, and thereafter fitted with a label that designates them as exceptional: words such as ‘scandal’ and ‘-gate’. Tags now attached to some of the most ludicrous tittle-tattle and rumour, with the inevitable knock-on effect that the serious is conflated with the trivial, and the truth with fakery.

Moreover, when demonstrative evidence arises of continuity between conspirators, as periodically it does (see the two examples given below), this more damning proof of a wider high-level conspiracy tends, for obvious reasons, only to come to light many years or even decades after the event. Revelations of this kind are thereupon relegated to the position of interesting historic footnotes, rather than more properly treated as indicative and thus relevant to our understanding of contemporary events.

Hence, the flagrant and criminal lies that served as the pretext for war against Iraq were mostly overlooked during the commensurate push for regime change in Libya less than a decade on. And while nearly every schoolboy can repeat the name of Watergate (even if they don’t know the details) very few people know much, if anything at all, about the terroristic activities of ‘informants’ such as Stakeknife during “the troubles” in Ireland, or can name the clandestine and ‘stay-back’ operation ‘Gladio’ and its involvement throughout the 1970s and into the early ’80s in a Europewide “Strategy of Tension”.

Here is a short extract from a Guardian report published in 2003 about British agent ‘Stakeknife’ who it is alleged is guilty of at least forty IRA murders:

Yesterday, as west Belfast reeled from the news that Scappaticci and the British army agent known as Stakeknife were one and the same, an IRA source said: “He was the bogeyman of the IRA: judge, jury and executioner. He didn’t have to attend brigade meetings. He didn’t get involved in the politics or talking. But whenever something went wrong, Freddy Scappaticci was sent for.”

But this man, entrusted by the IRA army council with a crucial role, was in fact the British army’s most precious asset at the heart of the republican movement for a quarter of a century. 7

Click here to read the full article entitled “He did the IRA’s dirty work for 25 years – and was paid £80,000 a year by the government”.

Revelations about ‘Stakeknife’ and thousands of other ‘informants’ involved in Ulster terrorist gangs came to light thanks to reports by the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir John Stevens, following his three inquiries that spanned 14 years. In the final report Stevens finds that collusion between the security services and loyalist paramilitaries prolonged the Troubles and that “one branch of military intelligence was out of control and its activities were disastrous.” 8

At the time of the report’s release, Stevens said:

“My inquiries have highlighted collusion, ranging from the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, through to the extreme of agents being involved in murder.” 9

And below is embedded arguably the single most illuminating investigative documentary ever broadcast by the BBC – so important that I have already included it within earlier posts – a three-part Timewatch series from 1992 entitled simply Gladio in which filmmaker Allan Francovich goes on an extraordinary trail in efforts to interview key suspects and piece together the involvement of Nato, the CIA and British intelligence, and their collusion with ultra-right militia and other fascist groups including the Propaganda Due (P2) lodge in Italy:

These are the words of right-wing terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra, who is one of many to testify in the film:

“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the State to ask for greater security. This is the political logic that lies behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the State cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened.”

We must not be naïve. In reality, wherever political power is concentrated, there is always intrigue and plots of different kinds – though not all will be illicit. Beyond the more regularly reported machinations hatched within our local councils, county halls and regional police forces, there will be grander schemes forged at the rarefied heights of Cabinet, Whitehall, inside the Beltway and (heaven forfend) the inner circles of western security services.

‘Affairs’ such as Iran-Contra or so-called ‘failures’ like the Iraqi WMD hoax appear as singular irregularities simply by virtue of being so intimately exposed: other top-level conspiracies will soon become submerged when the “establishment” closes ranks. For instance, do you remember the name of Adam Werritty…? Look him up here and here and here.

Or consider, as a more immediate example, the ongoing VIP child abuse ‘scandal’. One moment it was making headline news, but then with an official inquiry underway (setting up inquiries as a tactic for delaying and covering tracks has an exceedingly long history – the Stevens Inquiry is the exception not the rule), public attention was switched from the original allegations toward some who were making the accusations. Presumption of innocence is a legal right, of course; a vital one that protects our freedom. So the burden of proof is always on the prosecution. But it is surely noteworthy that whilst some of our minor celebrities have been recently tried and jailed following police investigations into child abuse, none of the senior politicians or peers who came under similar suspicion has yet faced prosecution. But then ‘establishment’ and ‘cover up’ are words that fit together a lot like ‘Turkish’ and ‘deep state’.

Here is what senior Tory whip, Tim Fortescue, who had served in Sir Edward Heath’s government, told the BBC documentary “Westminster’s Secret Service” back in 1995:

“For anyone with any sense, who was in trouble, would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say now, I’m in a jam, can you help?

“It might be debt, it might be… a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which a member seemed likely to be mixed up in – they’d come and ask if we could help and if we could, we did.

“And we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points… and if I mean, that sounds a pretty, pretty nasty reason, but it’s one of the reasons because if we could get a chap out of trouble then, he will do as we ask forever more.”

We might also recollect the sordid cases of Sir Jimmy Savile, and still more pertinently of Liberal MP, Sir Cyril Smith, who each abused literally hundreds of victims but escaped prosecution because repeated allegations made against them were only posthumously believed. It has since been disclosed that a thick dossier of police evidence on Cyril Smith was seized and deliberately held back by British intelligence immediately after he became a cabinet minister.10 Was this procurement by MI5 also ‘exceptional’ or ‘a lapse’, or might we presume that in all likelihood today’s intelligence services hold similar blackmailable dossiers on numerous prominent MPs?

Now let’s return to America and to the overarching question of how the term ‘deep state’ applies there. For the American ‘deep state’ is as irrefutably real (whether ‘something different’ or not) as its counterpart in Turkey, and large parts of it are not even particularly hard to locate:

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched.

So writes Mike Lofgren in a short essay entitled “Anatomy of the Deep State”.

A congressional staff member for 28 years who specialised in national security and had top secret security clearance, Lofgren was by his own account “at least on the fringes of the world I am describing, if neither totally in it by virtue of full membership nor of it by psychological disposition.” But then, as he goes on to describe, “psychological disposition” is not nearly as important as it might seem. Indeed, it is not at all necessary for insiders to be deeply committed to any greater cause:

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called “groupthink,” the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town’s cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Still more instructively, Lofgren expounds (and at some length) how the ‘deep state’ is far less statelike than it sounds:

[T]he Deep State does not consist only of government agencies. What is euphemistically called “private enterprise” is an integral part of its operations. In a special series in The Washington Post called “Top Secret America,” Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings. 11

Click here for the whole piece which reads like a who’s who of corporate insiders.

Incidentally, it follows that the ‘free press’, itself a loose conglomeration of competing corporate entities, although comparatively unfettered when interrogating the ‘deep state’ influence within Turkey or elsewhere, shies away from similar scrutiny at home. Indeed shares in what is, in effect, an article of faith that nothing remotely comparable to the Turkish ‘deep state’ exists or operates anywhere within boundaries of the West, whether in America or Britain, or any of our close European neighbours.

This in turn partly accounts for why neither William Kristol nor Chuck Schumer has been taken task following such staggeringly anti-democratic outbursts. The presumption being that similar admissions and innuendos are founded upon half truths at best; and having developed such a remarkable aptitude for doublethink, the media thus maintains, being half-convinced, that although the American ‘deep state’ exists and operates as a powerful political actor, the effects of its actions are of no tremendous importance. In any case, ignorance is bliss for journalists too, and extending Mike Lofgren’s other point, they also have their careers to consider.

In fairness, there are a few journalists who now feel sufficiently emboldened to shirk this general rule. Glenn Greenwald is one and when interviewed recently by Democracy Now!, he offered a quite alternative take on the huge importance of this sudden eruption of the American ‘deep state’ as it looms into fuller view. But first he outlined what he understands by the altogether slippery term ‘deep state’:

The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from—in fact, in opposition to—the political officials to whom they’re supposed to be subordinate.

Greenwald continues:

Now, I happen to think that the Trump presidency is extremely dangerous. You just listed off in your news—in your newscast that led the show, many reasons. They want to dismantle the environment. They want to eliminate the safety net. They want to empower billionaires. They want to enact bigoted policies against Muslims and immigrants and so many others. And it is important to resist them. And there are lots of really great ways to resist them, such as getting courts to restrain them, citizen activism and, most important of all, having the Democratic Party engage in self-critique to ask itself how it can be a more effective political force in the United States after it has collapsed on all levels. That isn’t what this resistance is now doing.

What they’re doing instead is trying to take maybe the only faction worse than Donald Trump, which is the deep state, the CIA, with its histories of atrocities, and say they ought to almost engage in like a soft coup, where they take the elected president and prevent him from enacting his policies. And I think it is extremely dangerous to do that. Even if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls, as these courts just demonstrated and as the media is showing, as citizens are proving.

But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it. And yet that’s what so many, not just neocons, but the neocons’ allies in the Democratic Party, are now urging and cheering. And it’s incredibly warped and dangerous to watch them do that.

Click here to read the full transcript or watch the interview on the Democracy Now! website.

Prior to Trump’s inauguration, I do not recall any focussed mainstream attention on the American ‘deep state’ and virtually no acknowledgment whatsoever of the decisive role it plays in shaping policy and otherwise pulling strings in Washington. Talk of ‘deep state’ politics anywhere in the West was almost entirely the preserve of ‘conspiracy theorists’. A few weeks into his foundering presidency, however, and ‘deep state’ insider and editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, is loudly singing hallelujahs to its praise.

Lofgren concludes his essay optimistically:

The Snowden revelations (the impact of which have been surprisingly strong), the derailed drive for military intervention in Syria and a fractious Congress, whose dysfunction has begun to be a serious inconvenience to the Deep State, show that there is now a deep but as yet inchoate hunger for change. What America lacks is a figure with the serene self-confidence to tell us that the twin idols of national security and corporate power are outworn dogmas that have nothing more to offer us. Thus disenthralled, the people themselves will unravel the Deep State with surprising speed.

Trump is very evidently not that figure of “serene self-confidence” presaged in Lofgren’s remarks. Some interesting news, however, is that Trump’s presidency appears to have clumsily opened a rift between the White House and that “hybrid entity of public and private institutions” called the ‘deep state’ or ‘shadow government’. Not that Trump is anti-establishment. He is unshakeably a part of the establishment, although the establishment is not as monolithic as many believe. And in some areas the new administration’s policies seem to be seriously testing divisions between the competing establishment factions.

In the ensuing struggle between the ‘deep state’ and ‘Trump state’, as Kristol succinctly puts it, we are getting a momentary glimpse at the power/s behind the throne. But be warned because just as the cloak of invisibility begins to slip a little, so the ‘deep state’ in turn becomes not only more vulnerable but also more dangerous.

And it is actually not in our interests to take sides here, other than in seeking to oppose any continued escalation in already heightened tensions between America and Russia, since this presents a terrible risk to the survival of our civilisation and serves only to benefit the special interest groups. Aside from challenging this renewed threat of a Cold War, however, it is surely wise to distance ourselves and not lend our support to either camp. The rightful stance must surely be: a pox on both your houses!

Returning to Mike Whitney’s piece, he concludes:

[I]f you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas. Leftists should avoid the temptation of aligning themselves with groups and agencies that might help them achieve their short-term goal of removing Trump, but ultimately move them closer to a de facto 1984 lock-down police state. Misplaced support for the deep state Russophobes will only strengthen the national security state’s stranglehold on power. That’s not a path to victory, it’s a path to annihilation. 12

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Additional: Gary Webb, the ‘Dark Alliance’ and Pablo Escobar’s son

In the mid-’90s investigative journalist Gary Webb began writing a series of articles for the San Jose Mercury News called “Dark Alliance” in which he exposed details of a conspiracy involving CIA protection provided to Contra rebels known to be running cocaine in Nicaragua. He also alleged that the CIA had supported a Los Angeles drug ring and thereby helped to trigger the crack epidemic of the 1980s. In response, The New York Times, The Washington Post and, most especially, The Los Angeles Times attacked him and forced his resignation from the Mercury News.

Then, in 1998, Webb expanded his series of articles into a book called Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, in which he included response to the hostile mainstream criticism.

Webb is now vindicated:

In 1998, a CIA inspector general’s report acknowledged that the CIA had indeed worked with suspected drugrunners while supporting the contras. A Senator named John Kerry had investigated these links years earlier, and the media had mostly ignored his findings. After Webb published his articles, the media spent more time crushing Webb than pursuing the full story. It is only because of Webb’s work–as flawed as it was–that the CIA IG inquiry happened. So, then, it is only because of Webb that US citizens have confirmation from the CIA that it partnered up with suspected drug traffickers in the just-say-no years and that the Reagan Administration, consumed with a desire to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, allied itself with drug thugs.*

In 2014 Gary Webb received an even higher accolade when his story was made into the Hollywood film, Kill the Messenger.

Whilst with regards to media criticism, Webb later wrote:

If we had met five years ago, you wouldn’t have found a more staunch defender of the newspaper industry than me… And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job… The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress…

Tragically, on December 10th 2004, Webb was found dead with two gunshot wounds to the head. His death was ruled suicide by the Sacramento County coroner’s office.

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Today we have fresh allegations of CIA involvement in drug-running. The following extract is taken from an article published on February 17th. So far it seems to have received no mainstream attention:

Juan Pablo Escobar Henao, son of notorious Medellín cartel drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar, now says his father “worked for the CIA.”

In a new book, “Pablo Escobar In Fraganti,” Escobar, who lives under the pseudonym, Juan Sebastián Marroquín, explains his “father worked for the CIA selling cocaine to finance the fight against Communism in Central America.”

“The drug business is very different than what we dreamed,” he continues. “What the CIA was doing was buying the controls to get the drug into their country and getting a wonderful deal.”

“He did not make the money alone,” Marroquín elaborated in an interview, “but with US agencies that allowed him access to this money. He had direct relations with the CIA.”

Notably, Marroquín added, “the person who sold the most drugs to the CIA was Pablo Escobar.”

[Bold highlights as in original]

* From an article entitled “Gary Webb Is Dead” written by David Corn, published in The Nation on December 13, 2004. https://www.thenation.com/article/gary-webb-dead/  

Webb, Gary (2002). “The Mighty Wurlitzer Plays On”. In Borjesson, Kristina. Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press. Prometheus Books. pp. 141–157. ISBN 1-57392-972-7.

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1 From an essay entitled “Anatomy of the Deep State” written by Mike Lofgren, published by Moyers & Company on February 21, 2014. http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/ 

2 From an article entitled “Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get up With Fleas” written by Mike Whitney, published in Counterpunch on February 22, 2017. http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/22/90663/ 

3 From an article entitled “Trump should resist neocon & shadow gov’t influence to justify people’s hopes – Ron Paul to RT” published by Russia Today on November 11, 2017. https://www.rt.com/usa/366404-trump-ron-paul-crosstalk/

4 Quote taken from article entitled “Schumer: Trump ‘really dumb’ for attacking intelligence agencies” written by Mallory Shelbourne, published in The Hill on January 3, 2017. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/312605-schumer-trump-being-really-dumb-by-going-after-intelligence-community

5 

A transformation strategy that solely pursued capabilities for projecting force from the United States, for example, and sacrificed forward basing and presence, would be at odds with larger American policy goals and would trouble American allies. Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.

From Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century; Ch. V, ‘Creating Tomorrow’s Dominant Force’ pp. 62–3, published in September 2000 as a report of The Project for the New American Century. Available to download here: https://web.archive.org/web/20131010230819/http://www.newamericancentury.org/defensenationalsecurity.htm  

6 From an article entitled “Are Deep-State Leakers Defending Democracy or Corroding It?” written by David A. Graham, published  in The Atlantic on February 15, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/american-deep-state-trump/516780/

7 From an article entitled “He did the IRA’s dirty work for 25 years – and was paid £80,000 a year by the government” written by Rosie Cowan, published in the Guardian on May 12, 2003. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/may/12/northernireland.northernireland1

8

The report into alleged collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries has also found that military intelligence in Northern Ireland actually prolonged the Troubles.

It suggests one branch of military intelligence was out of control and its activities were disastrous.

From a BBC news article entitled “Security forces aided loyalist murders” published on April 17, 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/2954773.stm

9 From an article entitled “Murders, cover-up, arson – by Ulster security” written by Thomas Harding, published in The Telegraph on April 18, 2003. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1427827/Murders-cover-up-arson-by-Ulster-security.html

10 

Tony Robinson, a special branch officer with Lancashire Police in the 1970s, said he saw a police dossier which was “thick” with allegations from boys claiming they had been abused by Sir Cyril.

He said that after taking the file out of the safe at special branch headquarters in Hutton, Preston, he was contacted by an officer from MI5 who told him it needed to be sent to London.

Mr Robinson also disclosed that the then Director of Public Prosecutions had examined the allegations but decided they were “not in the public interest”.

He said: ”The police now say the file is lost. It seems like there was a complete cover up to me.”

From an article entitled “Sir Cyril Smith sex abuse dossier seized by MI5” written by Steven Swinford, published in The Telegraph on November 14, 2012. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9678697/Sir-Cyril-Smith-sex-abuse-dossier-seized-by-MI5.html

11 From an essay entitled “Anatomy of the Deep State” written by Mike Lofgren, published by Moyers & Company on February 21, 2014. http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/

12 From an article entitled “Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get up With Fleas” written by Mike Whitney, published in Counterpunch on February 22, 2017. http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/22/90663/ 

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one rule for some, another rule for others…

The following documentaries, broadcast on consecutive Thursdays are both highly recommended. In their very different ways both shed light on how significant individuals and corporations are allowed to operate above the law:

Panorama: Tax, Lies and Videotape

first broadcast on BBC1 on Thursday 19th September at 8:30–9:00 pm
Editor: Tom Giles
Producer: Andrew Head

Reporter Richard Bilton closely scrutinises the Con-Dem government’s repeated claim that it is taking a tougher stance on tax evasion as well as closing loopholes in order to recoup a few of the multiple billions currently lost to the Treasury due to corporate tax avoidance. Teaming up with former tax inspector and current reporter for Private Eye magazine, Richard Brooks, together they reveal that instead of clamping down on tax avoidance, the government has in fact been making a concerted effort to open up even more loopholes for the corporate giants to exploit, with the justification offered that Britain needs “to make our tax system competitive”. Bilton comes to the rather startling conclusion that rather than closing tax havens down, the present government is instead turning the whole of the United Kingdom into what will quickly become the biggest tax haven in the world.

available on BBC iplayer until Tuesday 16th September 2014

Click here for link to BBC iplayer

Dispatches: The Paedophile MP – How Cyril Smith Got Away with It

first broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday 12th September at 8:00pm-9:00pm
Executive Producer: Tom Porter

Reporter: Liz MacKean

When Cyril Smith died aged 82, a little more than three years ago, he was remembered with widespread affection. An inordinately large, jolly old man of the people who called a spade a spade. “A big-hearted man” said Menzies Campbell, “who, in everything he did, gave a hundred and five percent.” “Quite literally a larger than life figure, and he will be sorely, sorely missed” said Nick Clegg.

Glowing obituaries aside, however, there were also accusations that Cyril Smith was rather less than big-hearted and actually quite unlikely to be “sorely, sorely missed”. Allegations running as far back as 1979 when first aired by a small independent Rochdale Alternative Press and then immediately picked up on by Private Eye in the same year. The charge being that “Big Cyril” (the title of his autobiography) was guilty of sexually abusing teenagers at a local hostel, Cambridge House, he had also co-founded.

As with the case of Jimmy Savile, these allegations of child abuse persisted, yet Smith found it easy enough to ignore them when alive, and like Savile, had continued abusing his old victims and grooming new ones, in spite of the fact that the many allegations against him were known to be true by countless colleagues and others within their respective circles. Worse still, that these crimes were actively facilitated by a number of institutions and organisations and then ignored by police over a period of many decades.

In the Savile case, West Yorkshire Police have been directly accused of involvement in the cover-up, although their own report concluded that there was “no evidence” Savile had ever been protected from arrest or prosecution, even if there had been an “over-reliance on personal friendships” between Savile and some officers, and that “mistakes were made”.1 Mistakes were made… the old excuse. We hear it all the time: this official version of a shrug and a wink. Of course, sometimes mistakes can be criminal too.

When it came to the case of Cyril Smith, however, it appears that the police acted somewhat more promptly and responsibly. So although police again failed to proceed with the original investigation into offences committed at Cambridge House, when, a few years later in 1969, another complaint had been made, the police did indeed begin an official investigation.

But there was to be no prosecution of Smith. The police investigation certainly continued to gather evidence against him – his police file eventually running to eighty pages – however, it seems that Smith then sought and received support from friends in higher places. According to Dispatches, contacting his local MP, Jack McCann, who was also Deputy Chief Whip and a senior member of the Labour government, and in little more than a week later, receiving a response from the Director of Public Prosecutions as follows:

“Any charges of indecent assault founded on these allegations, as well as being somewhat stale, would be, in my view, completely without corroboration. Further, the character of some of these young men would be likely to render their evidence suspect.”

So the police file was marked NFA (“No further action”) with further investigation or prosecution deemed “not in the public interest”. After this, it was kept locked away in a safe by Special Branch in Lancashire.

Tony Robinson, a Detective Sergeant in Lancashire Special Branch, actually saw Smith’s file and he told Dispatches that he was “disgusted” by what was going on:

“It annoyed me that by virtue of a person’s position quite serious offences can be just pushed under the carpet. No further action taken… I could not understand at the time why a criminal file should come into the Special Branch offices to be kept in a locked safe. Certainly not Cyril Smith’s file – it was a straight criminal file – and we, by and large, should not have held that file. There was no need for us to hold it.”

Then in the 1972 by-election, which followed from the death of Jack McCann, Smith himself was elected Liberal MP for the constituency of Rochdale. And four years later, when the Liberals came to power as part of the Lib-Lab pact, suddenly MI5 began taking more of an interest in the criminal file which Special Branch were holding.

Tony Robinson again:

“I was manning the office and the phone call came from the security service, the term being used “box 500 here” [the codeword validating the call as being from MI5] “We understand that you have a file on Mr Cyril Smith, the Liberal MP for Rochdale…” “Yes –” “We want that file sending down to this office this date by special courier. The fact that the security service wanted the file brought to my notice, obviously, that he was about to be vetted. And the file would obviously be very revealing… it would render him entirely unsuitable to hold any form of high office.”

Nevertheless, Smith did very well for himself, of course, and was awarded with a knighthood in 1988.

Click here for link to 4OD

It concerns me that some readers may think it insensitive or distasteful to link a programme about the on-going financial misdemeanours of a government in bed with large corporations to a very different documentary which details the more horrifying past crimes of a paedophile like Cyril Smith, especially when, in one way, the link is, I admit, a convenience of timing (the two programmes having been broadcast within a week of one another and my intention here being to recommend both). However, I can also see another and much better reason to make such a connection.

I will try to justify myself in greater detail below although the overriding reason for making the link is already contained in the title of the post: the hands off approach to our major financial fraudsters (whether tax avoiding or committing more serious offences) and the licence granted to Cyril Smith being indicative of a society riven by a two-tier tax and criminal justice system – benefit fraudsters subject to imprisonment, but bankers “too big to jail”; CRB (recently expanded to DBS) checks for the ordinary citizen, but secret service protection for Cyril Smith (and we just happen to know about Smith). To argue my case further, it will be helpful to return to the story of Jimmy Savile in order to draw comparisons and differences between his case and that of Cyril Smith.

Following the revelations about Jimmy Savile and subsequent setting up of Operation Yewtree, there have been a number of high profile arrests of other associated celebrities alleged to have been sex abusers, but as yet, and in spite of overwhelming evidence pointing to a widespread cover-ups involving institutions including at least one police force, 13 hospitals within the NHS, and the BBC, to my knowledge there have been no prosecutions at higher levels within any of these organisations – and do please correct me (by adding a comment and preferably a link) if I am wrong. Last December, it was indeed formally announced that “the strand of a police operation investigating abuse carried out by Jimmy Savile has been completed”:

Scotland Yard said Operation Yewtree, the inquiry into historic abuse, was collating its report and hoped to publish early in the New Year.2

And yet, from the very start of this extended police inquiry, it was already known that Savile had had access not only to patients at a number of hospitals including Stoke Mandeville (where he earned his reputation for being such a wonderful charity fundraiser), as well as many schools and children’s homes including Duncroft (and if further allegations are confirmed Haut de la Garenne in Jersey), but still more outrageously to high-security psychiatric hospitals Ashworth and Broadmoor. And just the fact that Savile was given the keys to Broadmoor3 presents us with quite staggering evidence of complicity at the very highest levels (quite possibly leading all the way to government), but it would seem that no-one is likely to be arrested and charged as an accessory to these crimes.

So the Savile investigation appears, to my mind and I imagine to many others, to have been as much about distraction and the maintaining of a cover-up than a genuine attempt to dredge up the appalling truth about child abuse at an institutional level. Certainly it is to be hoped that justice will be done in other ways, with Stuart Hall (recently convicted), Freddie Starr, Rolf Harris and others, if found guilty, being duly sentenced for their predatory crimes, but why stop there?

For the immunity which permitted Savile and Smith to carry on abusing throughout nearly the whole of their adult lives appears to have rubbed off on to many of their close associates, and especially those in positions above a certain social level: the managers and directors of the institutions where Savile and Smith were given free rein, and those in the police forces and secret services who also turned a blind eye. So the suspicion is that, if you like, there is a kind of “glass floor”, which once above, guarantees impunity – whether that is as a banker pushing fraudulent schemes and money-laundering, or as a person of high social standing (such as an MP) addicted to child abuse.

And we should perhaps just remind ourselves that both crimes destroy the lives of their victims, although in markedly different ways. The least fortunate victims of our current bout of white collar corruption already starving in many of the poorest nations, with millions in Europe and America also destitute: dependent on food banks, or, in the case of fifty million Americans, barely surviving on food stamps.

Corruption takes many forms, and although we are accustomed and thus inclined to think of it in terms of crimes like bribery and fraud, corruption doesn’t always begin and end with transfers of money. After all, there are a great many of forms of deception besides fraud and, alongside bribery, plenty of alternative methods of coercion, sometimes violent, and including, to offer a very relevant example, blackmail. So when a politician like Smith is found to have been compromised by a sex scandal locked away by MI5, then the question also becomes one about democracy itself. A question that expands and asks what do the secret service hold in their files on our current batch of politicians?

We are living at a time when corruption of financial kinds is not only rampant but also more blatant than perhaps ever before, even if criminality within the banking sector is hardly news – here, for instance, is a breakdown of recorded crimes committed during the last century posted last Thursday [Sept 19th] by washingtonsblog with links throughout. But then, today’s financial system isn’t just riddled with fraud, thanks to the invention of derivatives, it is largely built from it.

At the same time, our most senior politicians are increasingly bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists – after a few years in office, the select few then offered multi-million pound salaries “to work for” J. P. Morgan or Goldman Sachs. None of this is a secret.

In short, we have become a society sick with corruption – by which I mean widespread moral disintegration. Although, at the same time, and conversely, it is easy to see that in other significant ways our society has also been changed for the better – fine examples being the backlash against racism and the rights won by women, gays, and the disabled – and thanks to our heightened concern over child abuse, it seems that once again another vulnerable group is now being granted long-overdue protection.

So when we hear about Savile and Smith, and see that their vile crimes have at last been investigated, it is quite possible to believe – especially since I think we are all aching to believe – that here, at last, is some evidence of a society getting to grips with a problem of the past. However, when we discover that these latest investigations have really scratched no deeper than the surface, then should we not be demanding much more again? Or do we simply accept that there has always been one rule for some, and another rule for the rest of us… when this is the sordid bottom line of all corruption.

*

Clarification and correction:

In the article I had originally written:

And yet, prior to this extended police inquiry, it was already known that Savile had had access not only to patients at 13 hospitals including Stoke Mandeville (the hospital where he had earned his reputation for being such a wonderful charity fundraiser), as well as many schools and childrens’ homes including Duncroft (and if further allegations are confirmed Haut de la Garenne in Jersey), but still more outrageously to high-security psychiatric hospitals Ashworth and Broadmoor.

In fact the precise start of Operation Yewtree remains unclear to me, although by Thursday 4th October, the Metropolitan Police Service certainly announced that it had “agreed to take the national lead in assessing the recent information regarding allegations made against the late Jimmy Savile”, the same statement adding that: “It is not an investigation at this stage.”* There is also no mention as yet of “Operation Yewtree”. All I am certain of is that Operation Yewtree began in October.

What I can also be sure of is that less than a week later [Oct 10th], the BBC was reporting on abuse at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and that two days later [Oct 12th], the Guardian was already reporting on abuse at Stoke Mandeville hospital, Leeds general infirmary, the Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey and Duncroft approved girls’ school in Staines, Surrey. There is also a report in the Daily Star [Oct 14th] linking Savile to abuse at “two other highsecure units, Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside and Rampton, Notts.”••

I have therefore edited the original version to read as it now does, replacing “prior to” with “from the very start” and “13 hospitals” with “a number of hospitals including Stoke Mandeville”.

1 From an article entitled “Jimmy Savile ‘not protected’ from arrest, West Yorkshire Police say” published by BBC news on May 10, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-22476937

2 From an article entitled “Savile abuse part of Operation Yewtree probe ‘complete’” published by BBC news on December 11, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20686219

3

Savile had been involved with Broadmoor for quite some time – West London Mental Health NHS Trust, which now runs the hospital, believes his involvement as a volunteer began in the late 1960s or early 70s. He had become part of the furniture, being given, no one seems to know quite when, an office in the grounds of the hospital, a bedroom, which he called his “cell”, above it, and – astonishingly – his own personal set of keys to the hospital wards.

But it now seems clear the apparently genial celebrity, while telling reporters he was the “voluntary assistant entertainments officer”, had been using his position to abuse inmates with impunity.

From an article entitled “Jimmy Savile’s Broadmoor role came with a bedroom and keys” written by Esther Addley, published by the Guardian on October 12, 2012. http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/oct/12/jimmy-savile-broadmoor-volunteer-role

The same article continuing:

Broadmoor may be the institution where Savile was given the most senior position, but allegations of abuse have now been linked to at least five other establishments – the BBC, Stoke Mandeville hospital, Leeds general infirmary, the Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey and Duncroft approved girls’ school in Staines, Surrey. At Duncroft, according to some reports, he would stay in the headmistress’s quarters. At Stoke Mandeville, too, he had his own room, as well as an office.

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