Category Archives: Treason

US Senate renews anti-terror powers

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (AFP/Getty Images/File, Chip Somodevilla)

AFP | May 27, 2011

WASHINGTON — The US Senate voted Thursday to extend until 2015 controversial counter-terrorism search and surveillance powers at the heart of the Patriot Act adopted after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Lawmakers adopted the measure 72-23 just hours before it expires at midnight (0400 GMT Friday), sending the bill to the House of Representatives. Voting in the House was not expected until 8:00 pm (0000 GMT), according to a congressional aide.

With the clock ticking, President Barack Obama — currently on a European tour — would also have to sign the act for it to pass into law.

FBI and intelligence officials have warned that if the Patriot Act is not extended by the deadline they would be robbed of crucial tools in the fight against terrorism — including wiretapping.

“I have no doubt that the four-year Patriot Act extension, that members of both parties will agree to today, will safeguard us from future attacks,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.


Kill The Un-American Patriot Act

Congress has debated whether to extend the act just temporarily, longer-term or permanently in recent months. In February, Congress approved a three-month extension to allow time for negotiations.

In play are provisions allowing authorities to use roving wiretaps to track an individual on several telephones; track a non-US national suspected of being a “lone-wolf” terrorist not tied to an extremist group; and to seize personal or business records or “any tangible thing” seen as critical to an investigation.

While the White House backs extending those powers, the law has drawn fire from an unusual coalition of liberal Democrats and Republicans tied to the arch-conservative “Tea Party” movement who say it goes too far.

Republican conservative Rand Paul sought to impede the extension by adding on several amendments, including a ban on inspecting some archives of arms sellers during terror investigations. That measure was rejected in an 85-10 vote.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy called for greater congressional surveillance in counterterrorism inquiries.

FBI director Robert Mueller wrote to Congress leaders on Wednesday to warn them of the urgency of the matter.

“It is important that these tools be reauthorized without lapsing,” Mueller wrote, opposing proposed amendments which he said “would adversely impact our operations.”

“Certain amendments currently being proposed would impose unique limitations on our ability to investigate foreign spies and terrorists and protect Americans against foreign threats.”

Seymour Hersh targeted: Matthew Phelan writes on the fallout from his exposure of the Knights of Malta conspiracy

James Jesus Angleton (L), chief of the CIA’s counter-intelligence staff from 1954-1975, and Reagan-era CIA Director William Casey (R) were both members of the Knights of Malta.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Seymour Hersh And The Men Who Want Him Committed

By Matthew Phelan on | Feb 23, 2011


It seems unusual for a staid, respected publication (one that has received three National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) to start treating a celebrated journalist (who himself has won two National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) as if he were nothing more than a paranoid crank.

It seems unusual, but it’s exactly what the staff of Foreign Policy has done to Seymour Hersh, following a lecture the venerated reporter gave at Georgetown University’s campus in Doha, Qatar.

Hersh “delivered a rambling, conspiracy-laden diatribe here Monday,” Blake Hounshell reported on the magazine’s Passport blog. His delusional fantasia: The existence of ties between the U.S. Military’s Joint Special Operations Command and a secretive Catholic order called the Knights of Malta.

Let’s do the same.

Just how “off-base and conspiratorial” are Hersh’s claims? Who are the Knights of Malta, exactly, and what has been previously reported of their ‘special operations’ and government ties?

Known formally as the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” the Knights of Malta is a Roman Catholic order founded in roughly 1048. Though the Knights operated as a military order during the First Crusade, today their approximately 12,500 members, 80,000 volunteers and 20,000 medical professionals work “in the field of medical and social care and humanitarian aid.”

So far, so good. In fact, Foreign Policy’s description of the Knights cribs heavily from the Order’s own benevolent self-description. Josh Keating’s ‘explainer’ piece accounts for the litany of paranoid theories surrounding them as merely a by-product of the Knights’ “secretive proceedings, unique political status, and association with the Crusades.” Former CIA Directors William Casey and John McCone, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, and GOP fixture Pat Buchanan have all been “alleged members,” he claims, “though none have ever acknowledged membership.”

Keating’s use of ‘alleged’ here is curious, given that the membership of Reagan-era CIA Director Bill Casey in the Knights of Malta has been a fact widely reported in the press and never denied by Casey himself. Historian Joseph E. Persico, a former Republican speechwriter for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and the co-author of Colin Powell’s autobiography, includes Casey’s membership in a routine list of charitable accomplishments, in his sympathetic biography Casey: from the OSS to the CIA (Penguin 1990). (Casey’s membership is asserted on page 105 of the paperback.)

Years earlier, Casey was listed publicly as a member in both Mother Jones (07/1983) and The Washington Post (12/27/1984). The implications of Casey’s membership are even alluded to in Bob Woodward’s Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987, in which Casey’s deep Catholicism and the Catholic Church’s opposition to Nicaragua’s left-leaning Sandinista government are both recurring topics. In short: Casey’s membership has been undisputed for so long and across such a broad cross-section of the political spectrum that it raises serious questions about Foreign Policy’s standards for ‘facts’ and ‘allegations.’

In addition to Casey and McCone, the Knights of Malta also counted among their members former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton—a fortuitous alliance as Angleton led the postwar intelligence efforts to subvert Italy’s 1948 elections. His success partnering with organized crime, right-leaning former fascists and the Vatican not only marginalized Italy’s homegrown Communist Party, it also encouraged Congress in the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency.

…with their unusual status as a recognized sovereign state without territory, the Knights of Malta enjoy full diplomatic rights in many countries—including the ability to bypass customs inspectors by secreting items across borders via ‘diplomatic pouch.’

Conservative luminary and National Review founder William F. Buckley—who spent two years after college as a CIA ‘political action specialist’ in Mexico City—was also a Knight, as was none other than William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the CIA’s precursor organization, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). From 1970 to 1981, France’s intelligence agency was also headed by a member of the Order, Alexandre de Marenches. De Marenches would go on to be a co-founder of the Saudi-funded private intelligence group the Safari Club—one of  George H. W. Bush’s many end-runs around congressional oversight of the American intelligence establishment and the locus of many of the worst features of the mammoth BCCI scandal.

So, while crackpot speculations about this particular Catholic order are legion, its ties to intelligence organizations in the U.S. and Western Europe are well-documented. It’s also perfectly understandable: with their unusual status as a recognized sovereign state without territory, the Knights of Malta enjoy full diplomatic rights in many countries—including the ability to bypass customs inspectors by secreting items across borders via “diplomatic pouch.”

With “medical missions in more than 120 countries,” as Keating points out, a teeming network of government spooks operating under the diplomatic protection afforded the Knights of Malta would certainly have plenty of breathing room to operate unnoticed. And yet, Keating instead positions the Order’s charitable work as evidence that the Knights have left their old military function behind—pointedly ignoring years of charitable work tied to U.S. strategic goals and covert activities during the heady days of the Reagan/Bush era.

AmeriCares In Its Own Way

Beginning in 1982, The Knights of Malta began an intensely collaborative partnership with the international aid organization AmeriCares—a charity group unique in its selective disaster relief to countries friendly to both U.S. business investment and foreign policy objectives. Literally billing itself as “The humanitarian arm of corporate America,” AmeriCares was founded and headed until 2002 by Robert Macauley: a college roommate of George H. W. Bush, a paper mill millionaire and a self-described (then self-denied) agent in the CIA’s WWII-era precursor, the OSS. Macauley was also the first non-Catholic to receive the coveted Cross of the Commander of the Order of Malta.

AmeriCares and the Order held off on relief to an economically crippled Panama in 1989 for six whole months, shuttling $2.5 million worth of medical supplies only after the conclusion of Bush Sr.’s lightning war against (former ally) Manuel Noriega.

In Guatemala, AmeriCares and Knights of Malta joint activities were handled by the wealthy, right-wing paramilitary figure, Roberto Alejos Arzu, whose plantation had served as a training ground for the CIA’s bungled “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba.

Seymour Hersh and the Silent Crusade

Seymour Hersh is in the middle of researching and writing a lengthy book on America’s wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has something of a history of playing looser with his facts in speeches than in print—partially to preserve his scoops pre-publication—and his speech in Doha hewed close to that tradition. In addition to the Knights, for example, he also made claims regarding Opus Dei, another secretive far right Catholic group steeped in just as much rumor and conspiracy theory. However, Hersh is a five-time Polk winner and recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award—a reporter with a record that is well-burnished and nearly sterling.

Given the late 20th Century history of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” how strange would it really be to find members of the Order, in and out of the military, collaborating on a new silent crusade with their old Cold War allies?

Until Hersh’s book-length treatment of the subject is published, at least we can all agree with Foreign Policy’s Joshua Keating that the Knights of Malta have been “an anomalous presence in international politics and have provoked their share of conspiracy theories.”

This time around, they’ve practically goaded us into it.

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Madonna consulting Queen on Wallis Simpson scandal for new film

Edward VIII and Wallis meet with their friend Adolf Hitler in 1936

Madonna is writing to the Queen to ask for assistance with a film that she is making about Wallis Simpson.

Queen of pop Madonna seeks help from the real Queen

Telegraph | Mar 13, 2010

By Richard Eden

Known as the Queen of pop, Madonna hopes to receive a helping hand with her new film from a genuine monarch.

The 51-year-old American singer is to write to the Queen to ask for assistance with W.E., a film that she is making about the Edward VIII abdication crisis.

“Madonna is keen to make the film as authentic as possible and would be very grateful if we are allowed to film at certain locations,” says one of her associates. “She loves the UK and holds your Queen in the highest regard.”

Madonna, who lived in Sir Cecil Beaton’s former house in Dorset during her seven-year marriage to the British director Guy Ritchie, plans to start shooting the film this summer.

The singer has long been fascinated by the 1936 crisis, in which Edward VIII’s desire to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite, caused a constitutional dilemma.


How Madonna and Hollywood Whitewashed Eva Peron’s Nazi Past

The British Monarchy Has Its Roots in Nazism

The Nazi relative that the Royals disowned

The crisis was resolved by Edward’s abdication and his succession by his brother, George VI, who was the Queen’s father. Edward was given the title the Duke of Windsor and he married Mrs Simpson.

The film, for which Madonna worked on the screenplay, will star Abbie Cornish, an Australian actress, as a contemporary woman obsessed by the story of Mrs Simpson.

A courtier warns that Madonna should not get her hopes up as filming is generally not allowed in the Royal palaces. “I can’t imagine that Her Majesty would make an exception, particularly for a film about Wallis Simpson,” he says.

Climategate: Barack Obama’s rule by EPA decree is a coup d’etat against Congress, made in Britain

Telegraph | Dec 8, 2009

By Gerald Warner

Who needs tanks on the lawn when you have the Environmental Protection Agency? Barack Obama’s use of the EPA to pressurise the Senate to pass his climate change Nuremberg Decrees shows his dictatorial mentality. He wants to override Congress, which is hostile to his climate gobbledegook because it is representative of the American electorate, and sideline the nation’s elected Senators by ruling by decree, courtesy of the EPA. This is a coup d’état.

And what is the justification for this undemocratic action? The allegedly imminent threat from “Anthropogenic Global Warming”. There is always a supposed threat, when tyrants take the stage. The President of the United States has just reduced his moral authority to the level of any Third World dictator heading a “Government of National Emergency”. Fortunately, the world’s leading democracy, which he is trying to subvert, has guarantees of liberty so deeply embedded in its Constitution that US citizens are well placed to fight back.

In the first place, regulation can be challenged in a way that laws cannot. So the EPA’s proposed ruling on so-called “Greenhouse Gases” can be opposed extensively with litigation, to the point that the ruling might not yet be in force when Obama demits office. In the second place, the EPA is funded by Congress. So, if the Agency is being used to bypass or neuter Congress, why should legislators not play hardball and retaliate by cutting off its funding? The EPA may look formidable, but its situation is rather as if Rommel were buying the fuel for his tanks from the Allies.

But what is of compelling interest on this side of the pond is the way in which the bullets to shoot down American democracy were made in Britain. The trail is not hard to follow. When the EPA published its “Endangerment Finding” on greenhouse gases and proposed rule, back in April, almost every paragraph of the text (Federal Register, April 24, 2009, pp 18886-18910) cited as authority the IPCC’s 2007 Report, which the Agency acknowledges it “relies on most heavily”. And whence came the main input on climate change to that report?

Yes, that’s right! You’ve got it: from Phil Jones, Michael Mann and the rest of the lads at the CRU, East Anglia. From the innovative, creative “scientists” who wanted to “beat the crap” out of a climate change sceptic; who “just completed Mike’s Nature trick”; who “can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t”; who deleted e-mails in the interests of science; who tried to prevent publication of dissenters’ views; who coined the historic phrase “hide the decline”.

Those jokers are the main authority for the extravagant claims in the IPCC report and, by extension, for the EPA’s “Endangerment Finding”. That is the authority that is being invoked to overturn the principles of 1776 in the United States. The Protocols of the Elders of Norwich are the justification for EPA tyranny. It is with that weighty evidence at his back that Barack Obama is going to Copenhagen to sell out American taxpayers to Third World subsidy junkies, profiteering “green” corporations and the ever entrepreneurial Al Gore. This is the steal of the millennium: forget the Great Train Robbery and the Brinks Mat caper – these hoodlums are targeting $45 trillion.

Obama hates America and, increasingly, that sentiment is being reciprocated. This is a socialist, World Government putsch. Have the American people the resolution to resist it? We shall soon know.

Profligate spender Obama goes to pay respects to his Beijing bankers


Liu Mingjie (C) and a customer discuss Liu’s bag and t-shirt ‘Oba Mao’designs in which he superimposed the face of US President Barack Obama over that of China’s late revolutionary leader Mao Zedong for sale at his shop in the tourist Houhai district of Beijing on September 23, 2009. The entrepreneur who goes by the English name Stefan is a former engineer who worked for Germany’s Siemens AG and US-based Cisco Systems before starting his business three years ago, according to state media, introduced the Oba Mao design bags and t-shirts, including coin purses, earlier this summer and says the shirts have been selling well. Getty Images

China’s Role as U.S. Lender Alters Dynamics for Obama

NY Times | Nov 15, 2009

by Helene Cooper, Michael Wines and David E. Sanger.

When President Obama visits China for the first time on Sunday, he will, in many ways, be assuming the role of profligate spender coming to pay his respects to his banker.

That stark fact — China is the largest foreign lender to the United States — has changed the core of the relationship between the United States and the only country with a reasonable chance of challenging its status as the world’s sole superpower.

The result: unlike his immediate predecessors, who publicly pushed and prodded China to follow the Western model and become more open politically and economically, Mr. Obama will be spending less time exhorting Beijing and more time reassuring it.

In a July meeting, Chinese officials asked their American counterparts detailed questions about the health care legislation making its way through Congress. The president’s budget director, Peter R. Orszag, answered most of their questions. But the Chinese were not particularly interested in the public option or universal care for all Americans.

“They wanted to know, in painstaking detail, how the health care plan would affect the deficit,” one participant in the conversation recalled. Chinese officials expect that they will help finance whatever Congress and the White House settle on, mostly through buying Treasury debt, and like any banker, they wanted evidence that the United States had a plan to pay them back.

It is a long way from the days when President George W. Bush hectored China about currency manipulation, or when President Bill Clinton exhorted the Chinese to improve human rights.

Mr. Obama has struck a mollifying note with China. He pointedly singled out the emerging dynamic at play between the United States and China during a wide-ranging speech in Tokyo on Saturday that was meant to outline a new American relationship with Asia.

“The United States does not seek to contain China,” Mr. Obama said. “On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations.”

He alluded to human rights but did not get specific. “We will not agree on every issue,” he said, “and the United States will never waver in speaking up for the fundamental values that we hold dear — and that includes respect for the religion and cultures of all people.”

White House officials have been working for months to make sure that Mr. Obama’s three-day visit to Shanghai and Beijing conveys a conciliatory image. For instance, in June, the White House told the Dalai Lama that while Mr. Obama would meet him at some point, he would not do so in October, when the Tibetan spiritual leader visited Washington, because it was too close to Mr. Obama’s visit to China.

Greeting the Dalai Lama, whom China condemns as a separatist, weeks before Mr. Obama’s first presidential trip to the country could alienate Beijing, administration officials said. Every president since George H. W. Bush in 1991 has met the Dalai Lama when he visited Washington, usually in private encounters at the White House, although in 2007 George W. Bush became the first president to welcome him publicly, bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal on him at the Capitol. Mr. Obama met the Dalai Lama as a senator.

Similarly, while he was campaigning for the presidency, Mr. Obama several times accused China of manipulating its currency, an allegation that the current Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, repeated during his confirmation hearings. But in April, the Treasury Department retreated from that criticism, issuing a report that said China was not manipulating its currency to increase its exports.

While American officials said privately that they remained frustrated that China’s currency policies lowered the cost of Chinese goods and made American products more expensive in foreign markets, they said that they were relieved that China was fighting the global recession with an enormous fiscal stimulus program to spur domestic growth, and added that now was not the time to antagonize Beijing.

China is not viewed as a trouble spot for the United States. But this administration, like its predecessor, has had difficulty grappling with a rising power that seems eager to avoid direct clashes with the United States but affects its interests in many areas, including currency policy, nuclear proliferation, climate change and military spending.

In that regard, two members of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy team said that the United States’ interactions with the Chinese had been far too narrow in past years, focusing on counterterrorism and North Korea. Too little was done, they said, to address China’s energy and environmental policies, or its expansion of influence in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa, where China has invested heavily and used billions of dollars in aid to advance its political influence.

One hint of the Obama administration’s new approach came in a speech this fall by James B. Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state, who has deep roots in China policy. He argued that China needed to adopt a policy of “strategic reassurance” to the rest of the world, a phrase that appeared intended to be the successor to the framework of the Bush era, when China was urged to embrace a role as a “responsible stakeholder.”

“Strategic reassurance rests on a core, if tacit, bargain,” Mr. Steinberg said. “Just as we and our allies must make clear that we are prepared to welcome China’s ‘arrival,’ ” he argued, the Chinese “must reassure the rest of the world that its development and growing global role will not come at the expense of security and well-being of others.”

The Chinese reaction has been mixed, at best. The official China Daily newspaper ran a column just before Mr. Obama’s arrival suggesting that the United States needed to provide some assurance of its own — to “respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” code words for entirely backing away from the issues of how China deals with Taiwan and Tibet.

In the United States, the phrase “strategic reassurance” has been attacked by conservative commentators, who argue that any reassurance that the United States provides to China would be an acknowledgment of a decline in American power.

In an op-ed article in The Washington Post, the analysts Robert Kagan and Dan Blumenthal argued that the policy had echoes of Europe “ceding the Western Hemisphere to American hegemony” a century ago. “Lingering behind this concept is an assumption of America’s inevitable decline,” they wrote. White House officials shot back, insisting that it is China that needs to do the reassurance, not the United States.

In China, Mr. Obama will meet with local political leaders and will host an American-style town hall meeting with students in Shanghai. He will then spend two days in Beijing meeting with President Hu Jintao.

It seems unlikely that Mr. Obama will get the same celebrity-type reception in Beijing that he received in Cairo, Ghana, Paris and London. China seems mostly immune to the Obama fever that swept other parts of the world, and the Chinese are growing more confident that their country has the wherewithal to compete with the United States on the world stage, analysts say.

“Obama is still a positive guy, and all over the world most people think he’s more energetic, more sincere, than Bush, more a reformist,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor and an expert on United States-China relations at People’s University in Beijing. “But in China, Obama’s popularity is less than in Europe, than Japan or Southeast Asia.” In China, he said, “there is no worship of Obama.”

For instance, during the Bush and Clinton years, China might release a few political dissidents on the eve of a visit by the president as a good-will gesture. This time, American officials say, they do not expect any similar gestures, although they say that Mr. Obama will raise human rights issues privately with Mr. Hu.

“This time China will agree to have a human rights dialogue with the U.S. on some cases,” Mr. Shi said, but “the arguments have changed compared to the past. Now we say, ‘We are a different country, we have our own system, our own culture.’ ”

Obama: Communist China’s rising role on world stage no cause for alarm, nothing to worry about

Tourists are reflected in the window of a shop displaying shirts and pouches bearing an image U.S. President Barack Obama’s face imprinted over that of China’s late leader Mao Zedong, in the popular tourist area of Houhai in central Beijing September 21, 2009. Obama, who will visit Shanghai and Beijing for the first time on Nov. 15-18, spent much of his childhood in Hawaii, five time zones away from Washington, D.C. ; and beginning in 1967, when he was six years old, he lived in Jakarta for four years. Although U.S. President Barack Obama has never set foot there, China cast a long shadow in the Pacific region where he grew up. Picture taken September 21, 2009. To match Special Report CHINA/USA. Reuters Pictures

The Observer | Nov 15, 2009

by Tania Branigan

Barack Obama introduced himself as America’s “first Pacific president” as he launched his four-nation tour of the region, vowing to deepen ties with Asia and arguing that China’s rise should be welcomed rather than feared.

Kicking off his visit in Tokyo, he also sought to thaw the chill in relations with his hosts, America’s closest allies in the region. The new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has vowed to make Japan less dependent on the US, but the two men agreed to put off the issue of resolving the future of US forces in Japan.

However, police in China are reported to have detained dozens of dissidents in a crackdown ahead of Obama’s arrival there today. Human rights campaigners said that at least 30 activists who were expected to apply for the right to hold protests directed at the Chinese government during the US president’s visit were arrested.

Reformers worry that Obama will play down China’s poor human rights record in order to maintain good relations on issues such as the economy. “We get the impression Obama doesn’t want to talk about human rights on this trip, but it is precisely because of his visit here that these people are being rounded up and detained right now,” Ai Weiwei, a Beijing-based artist and social commentator, told the Financial Times.

Speaking yesterday during the first stop on his nine-day Asian tour, Obama told an audience of 1,500 in the Japanese capital: “I want every American to know that we have a stake in the future of this region, because what happens here has a direct effect on our lives at home.”

American officials have portrayed the trip as an opportunity to develop relationships and make progress on non-proliferation, climate change and the economy, and are playing down expectations of any agreements.

As in his previous foreign affairs speeches, Obama emphasised his personal ties in the region – referring to his birth in Hawaii, time in Indonesia and boyhood travels in Asia – and the administration’s break with unilateralism.

“We welcome China’s efforts to play a greater role on the world stage – a role in which their growing economy is joined by growing responsibility,” he said. “Power does not need to be a zero-sum game and nations need not fear the success of another.”

He held out a hand to North Korea again, calling for it to denuclearise; and to Burma, if it undertakes democratic reform and frees political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Burma’s prime minister will be present at the president’s meeting with Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) leaders in Singapore.

Obama also announced that the US will sign up to a trans-Pacific free trade agreement. That may help to deflect accusations of protectionism, which are likely to be aired throughout his tour. He stressed the need for “balanced” growth and said Asian countries should not be dependent on exports to the US.

The economic crisis has underlined the interdependence of “Chimerica” in particular and the trade imbalance that has left China with vast US dollar holdings. Washington wants the Chinese currency, the yuan, to appreciate further; Beijing will repeat its concerns that US debt could endanger its dollar holdings.

But Obama’s Chinese visit is about more than money. The world’s two largest carbon emitters are meeting just weeks away from the Copenhagen climate-change conference.

China’s influence on North Korea and Iran are central to Obama’s non-proliferation agenda. Its handling of Afghanistan and Pakistan will also be high up in discussions.

Obama’s China policy is essentially his predecessor’s; the relationship is increasingly amicable. But some fear attempts to broaden it could mean less meaningful engagement.

“Bush’s approach was: you are rising in the international system and need to take on more responsibility,” said Victor Cha, director of Asian affairs in the National Security Council under George Bush and now at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “Obama is heaping on all these very, very high expectations – on issues like climate change and currency – and I think they are expectations that China cannot possibly meet.”

China sees itself as a vulnerable developing country as well as a rising power. And shared anxieties – such as those over proliferation – do not equal identical interests. “China’s own interests in those hot spots [North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan] make it deeply conflicted about playing a larger role on the world stage,” said Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt of the International Crisis Group. “While the United States frames China in terms of its growing responsibilities as a major power, China continues to think primarily in terms of its own interests.”

To some observers, the administration is also too keen to please Beijing, wasting leverage rather than smoothing the path to greater gains.

Obama’s decision not to meet the Dalai Lama last month – aides say he will do so in future – “doesn’t send a signal that the US wants to work with China; it sends a signal they have basically got us,” said Cha.

Scientist in Israeli Espionage Case Worked on Star Wars

Associated Press | Oct 20, 2009

The Maryland scientist arrested this week on suspicion of attempted espionage had contributed to the Reagan administration’s “Star Wars” missile defense program, the Associated Press reported yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 20).

Stewart Nozette, 52, is charged with two counts of trying to communicate, deliver and transmit classified secrets. He was arrested on Monday after he reportedly shared information on U.S. satellite technology with an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer.

Nozette had knowledge of “some of our most guarded secrets,” so he could have caused significant harm to U.S. national security if successful in transferring the information, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion said yesterday in federal court.

Nozette was ordered jailed without bond. He is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 29. If convicted, the suspect could be sentenced to life in prison.

Former co-worker Scott Hubbard said Nozette had specialized in defense technology and had been involved in the 1980s Strategic Defense Initiative.

“This was leading edge, Department of Defense national security work,” said Hubbard, a former NASA staffer who is now at Standford University.

Nozette was based out of the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California while he worked on the Star Wars program, according to Hubbard. While working for the agency, Nozette carried a security clearance that allowed him access to “critical nuclear weapon design information”.

U.S. Scientist Arrested for Allegedly Attempting to Pass Secrets to Israel


The Justice Department said Monday that 52-year-old Stewart Nozette, shown in this file photo, was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information to an individual he believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer. (

A Former NASA Scientist Is Caught in a Sting Operation for Alleged Espionage

ABC News | Oct 19, 2009


FBI agents arrested a scientist who worked for NASA and other agencies Monday afternoon in a sting operation after he allegedly attempted to sell top secret satellite information to agents he thought were Israeli spies.

Stewart Nozette, 52, was arrested shortly after 4:00 p.m. at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington by counterespionage agents from the FBI’s Washington field office after he believed he was meeting with agents from the Mossad to pass information to them in exchange for money, the Justice Department said.

Nozette had been under investigation for some time according to an FBI affidavit and court records involving his firm, the Alliance for Competitive Technology (ACT). In early January 2009 as he traveled overseas, a security check of his personal bags indicated he had two computer thumb drives in his possession; yet, when he returned on his trip, the drives were no longer in his possession, according to the government.

The investigation ramped up in September 2009 when he was approached by an undercover FBI agent who told Nozette he worked for Mossad. During a lunch meeting with the agent, Nozette indicated he was willing to work for Israeli intelligence and provide them information, court documents say.

“I haven’t been…involved in a classified work for the last couple of years…but I had everything…all the way to Top Secret SCI [sensitive compartmentalized information], I had nuclear.” Nozette told the undercover FBI agents, according to the affidavit. “I had all the nuclear clearances.”

Nozette is best known for his work on the lunar Mini-RF probe which recently helped confirm the presence of water on the moon. Nozette is a planetary scientist from MIT who worked for the White House National Space Council and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the 1990s and as a contractor for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. At the Department of Energy, he worked in the “O” Division and had Top Secret clearance which included nuclear weapon design information, according to an FBI affidavit in the case which was unsealed Monday afternoon in Washington.

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Harold Wilson’s KGB contacts made him an MI5 suspect


Harold Wilson leaves Downing Street at the end of his first term as Prime Minister in 1970

London Times | Oct 3, 2009

by Michael Evans

MI5 held a secret file on Harold Wilson throughout the time he was Labour Prime Minister, The Times can reveal.

According to the first official history of the Security Service, the former Prime Minister was viewed as a cause of concern by MI5 because of his relationships with Eastern European businessmen, his contacts with known KGB officers and a belief among communist civil servants in Whitehall that he had similar political sympathies.

The associates who were highlighted as being dubious contacts included Lithuanian-born Joseph Kagan, whose company made the Gannex macs that became one of Wilson’s trademarks. When Kagan was made a peer by Wilson, he invited a KGB officer to his investiture at Buckingham Palace.

Other names on MI5’s list of Wilson’s contacts were Rudy Sternberg, who had made a fortune out of trading with the Soviet bloc and was suspected by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of being a Soviet spy but was later knighted; and Harry (later Lord) Kissin, a Wilson confidant who had also made a fortune from East-West trade.

Wilson’s MI5 file was opened in 1945 when he became an MP and remained one of the Security Service’s most closely kept secrets throughout his premierships, 1964-1970 and 1974-1976.

But it was “never used to undermine him”, according to The Defence of the Realm, published next week to mark MI5’s centenary and serialised in The Times today and on Monday and Tuesday. Past claims that there was a plot against the former Labour Prime Minister, who became Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, are dismissed.

The authorised history, however, reveals that the existence of the file was so secret that he was given a cover name. Christopher Andrew, the author of the book and Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Cambridge, who had access to all MI5 files, told The Times that Wilson was the only serving Prime Minister to have a permanent Security Service file.

Because of its unusual sensitivity, his file was kept under the pseudonym “Norman John Worthington”. When Sir Michael Hanley became the MI5 Director-General in 1972, he went to even greater lengths than Sir Roger Hollis or Sir Martin Furnival Jones, his predecessors, to conceal its existence. “In March 1974, the DG instructed that the card referring to the file should be removed from the Registry Central Index, with the result that ‘a look-up on Harold Wilson would therefore be No Trace’.” Access to the file required the personal permission of Sir Michael.

“Hanley’s decision to preserve it, approved by [Bernard] Sheldon [MI5 legal adviser] would doubtless not have been approved by either the Home Secretary or the Prime Minister,” the official history says.

Peter Wright, a former MI5 officer, alleged in his book Spycatcher, that there had been a Security Service plot against Wilsoninvolving a number of intelligence officers. But Wright himself later admitted in a television interview that the plot only involved one person — him.

The revelation that MI5 had kept a personal file on Wilson since 1945 will reignite the question of whether the former Prime Minister had any grounds for his increasingly obsessive belief that the Security Service was bugging his office and plotting against him.

Professor Andrew writes in The Defence of the Realm: “Sitting in his study at Number Ten on his first day back in office [in February 1974], Wilson told [his business friend who Sir Michael Hanley said was not to be trusted with confidences] Lord Kissin of Camden, ‘there are only three people listening — you, me and MI5’.

“Though MI5 was not, of course, listening in to the Prime Minister and had never actively investigated him, it still had a file on him which recorded, inter alia, his past contacts with Communists, KGB officers and other Russians.”

Baroness Manningham-Buller, the director-general of MI5 from 2002 to 2007, told The Times: “Having a file doesn’t automatically mean that you are in any way under suspicion. You might well have a file, supposing you were a person who was a target for a terrorist attack. You might well have a file giving the security arrangements. So files don’t equal suspicion. There was no plot, no conspiracy.”

According to MI5 files, Graham Mitchell, a senior intelligence officer responsible during the Wilson era for studying communism in the UK — who was later investigated after a false accusation that he was a double agent — noted when the young Labour MP became a Cabinet Minister: “The security interest attaching to Wilson and justifying the opening of a PM [permanent file] for him derives from comments made about him by certain Communist members of the Civil Service which suggested an identity or similarity of political outlook.

“A telecheck on a Communist civil servant at the Ministry of Works recorded him bemoaning Wilson’s move to the Board of Trade in 1947: ‘He and I were getting, you know, quite a plot, but it has all gone west now’. ”

In October 1954, a year before Clement Attlee retired as Labour leader, a bugged discussion at the headquarters of the Communist Party of Great Britain in King Street, London, revealed that opinion favoured Wilson as Attlee’s successor. In the event, Attlee was succeeded in 1955 by Hugh Gaitskell.

“King Street’s misplaced hopes in Harold Wilson doubtless owed much to his unusually frequent contacts with the Soviet Union. While at the Board of Trade, Wilson had paid three official visits to Moscow for trade negotiations, claiming after a game of cricket near the River Moskva ‘to be the only batsman ever to have been dropped at square leg by a member of the NKVD [KGB].”

Gore Vidal: ‘We’ll have a dictatorship soon in the US’

Gore Vidal

The grand old man of letters Gore Vidal claims America is ‘rotting away’ — and don’t expect Barack Obama to save it

The “War on Terror” was “made up”, Vidal says. “The whole thing was PR, just like ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

London Times | Sep 30, 2009

A conversation with Gore Vidal unfolds at his pace. He answers questions imperiously, occasionally playfully, with a piercing, lethal dryness. He is 83 and in a wheelchair (a result of hypothermia suffered in the war, his left knee is made of titanium). But he can walk (“Of course I can”) and after a recent performance of Mother Courage at London’s National Theatre he stood to deliver an anti-war speech to the audience.

How was his friend Fiona Shaw in the title role? “Very good.” Where did they meet? Silence. The US? “Well, it wasn’t Russia.” What’s he writing at the moment? “It’s a little boring to talk about. Most writers seem to do little else but talk about themselves and their work, in majestic terms.” He means self-glorifying? “You’ve stumbled on the phrase,” he says, regally enough. “Continue to use it.”

Vidal is sitting in the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair, where he has been coming to stay for 60 years. He is wearing a brown suit jacket, brown jumper, tracksuit bottoms; his white hair twirled into a Tintin-esque quiff and with his hooded eyes, delicate yet craggy features and arch expression, he looks like Quentin Crisp, but accessorised with a low, lugubrious growl rather than camp lisp.

He points to an apartment opposite the hotel where Churchill stayed during the Second World War, as Downing Street was “getting hammered by the Nazis. The crowds would cheer him from the street, he knew great PR.” In a flash, this memory reminds you of the swathe of history Vidal has experienced with great intimacy: he was friends with JFK, fought in the war, his father Gene, an Olympic decathlete and aeronautics teacher, founded TWA among other airlines and had a relationship with Amelia Earhart. (Vidal first flew and landed a plane when he was 10.) He was a screenwriter for MGM in the dying days of the studio system, toyed with being a politician, he has written 24 novels and is hailed as one of the world’s greatest essayists.

He has crossed every boundary, I say. “Crashed many barriers,” he corrects me.

Last year he famously switched allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama during the Democratic nomination process for president. Now, he reveals, he regrets his change of heart. How’s Obama doing? “Dreadfully. I was hopeful. He was the most intelligent person we’ve had in that position for a long time. But he’s inexperienced. He has a total inability to understand military matters. He’s acting as if Afghanistan is the magic talisman: solve that and you solve terrorism.” America should leave Afghanistan, he says. “We’ve failed in every other aspect of our effort of conquering the Middle East or whatever you want to call it.” The “War on Terror” was “made up”, Vidal says. “The whole thing was PR, just like ‘weapons of mass destruction’. It has wrecked the airline business, which my father founded in the 1930s. He’d be cutting his wrists. Now when you fly you’re both scared to death and bored to death, a most disagreeable combination.”

His voice strengthens. “One thing I have hated all my life are LIARS [he says that with bristling anger] and I live in a nation of them. It was not always the case. I don’t demand honour, that can be lies too. I don’t say there was a golden age, but there was an age of general intelligence. We had a watchdog, the media.” The media is too supine? “Would that it was. They’re busy preparing us for an Iranian war.” He retains some optimism about Obama “because he doesn’t lie. We know the fool from Arizona [as he calls John McCain] is a liar. We never got the real story of how McCain crashed his plane [in 1967 near Hanoi, North Vietnam] and was held captive.”

Vidal originally became pro-Obama because he grew up in “a black city” (meaning Washington), as well as being impressed by Obama’s intelligence. “But he believes the generals. Even Bush knew the way to win a general was to give him another star. Obama believes the Republican Party is a party when in fact it’s a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred — religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word ‘conservative’ you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They’re not, they’re fascists.”

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