Putin’s Win

We may never know about the actual content of the summit meeting, given that it was totally private, however as I predicted, it appears that the meeting itself was indeed “easy” for both parties. Apparently no specific agreements were reached, even at a tentative level. And based on comments at the following press conference, there were no confrontations over Russian election meddling (much less broader Russian political warfare against the West), the Crimea, Ukraine, or any other potentially challenging topics. If there had been such challenges they certainly were not repeated in front of the press.

There are pervasive rumors that there have already been discussions relating to some sort of agreement over Syria, if not a formal one at least a working protocol which would involve the U.S. accepting Assad in place, accepting Russian security oversight over most of western Syrian and the Jordanian border and force the Iranian presence to back to the east avoiding any direct military confrontations with Israel. Part of that agreement may well involve Russian air defenses essentially giving a pass to Israeli attacks on Iranian surrogate forces on any occasions where they provoke Israel – which is essentially the current state of affairs. For all we know this mutual understanding may already be in place.

Of course while the meeting itself may have been easy, the following press conference was most certainly not. That is a story in itself.

However, what I promised to do earlier was to rate my own predictions about what appears to have happened, so I will stick to that. Essentially my assessment was that Putin has already made great progress against his own geopolitical goals so he had no need to press for anything new, a simple acceptance of the current state of affairs, in both Eastern Europe and Syria was sufficient.

And that appears to be exactly what he accomplished. A simple acceptance of the status quo gives Putin what he needed and beyond that communicates to the former Soviet bloc nations that they are pretty much on their own.  If they didn’t already have that message before, they have it now.  Basically if there was no new American push back, no challenge to the Russian military actions and political warfare which began in 2014, Putin’s message to the former Soviet states has been confirmed by inaction.

There is little doubt that message has been received across Europe, most precisely expressed by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, “We can no longer completely rely on the White House”.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/17/politics/president-trump-vladimir-putin-summit-history/index.html

Also, as I predicted there was absolutely no evidence of Trump taking the traditional mantle as the leader of the West, this was strictly America and Russia. No issues relating to political warfare or even covert action against Britain, France, Spain or other NATO countries were raised.

I had thought that Putin might actually push for some mutual security agreements, not only to solidify positions he already holds but to give some evidence of new action – some move to mutually work to stabilize the on again off again fighting on the front lines between Ukraine and its separatist areas, perhaps a joint security effort on the Jordanian border. If anything that concrete was discussed there are no signs of it so far and as far as I can see no joint working agreement was drafted.  Not even one as slim as after the meeting with Kim and North Korea.

Another area I had speculated on was Putin’s offering up something in the way of nuclear weapons deals. That was mentioned in advance and apparently it was on the agenda for Trump. But the more I think about it, Putin can drive the U.S. into huge military programs and spending by just announcing advanced weapons and occasionally claiming success (mount a small ballistic missile on an attack jet and call it hypersonic). Actually an accord to suspend hypersonic weapons development would have been a really big deal, especially if it included an approach to China. But there is no sign Putin made any offers and now that I think about it, why would he?

The same goes for new Russian protests about NATO, given last week’s meetings why even push that issue. After last week you have statements in European capitals about not being able to rely on Washington, about the need to build a European force. Easy enough to let matters take their own course.

So, I claim victory on my Putin projections.  I predicted Putin he had to do very little and he exceeded my expectations.

Now as to Trump. There were a number of ways that he could have worked certain deals to at least give the impression that there were benefits in US/Russian partnering. And as I follow the press today, it appears that his aides were anticipating just that sort of “pivot” – a move towards new agreements that would divert attention from Russian political warfare. If that occurred in the 90 minute meeting we have little evidence; it certainly did not occur in the press conference.

In public Trump returned to literally denying the Russian political warfare and that was that. The only Russian proposal he seemed excited about was to let the senior Russian GRU cyber officers indicted for intervening in American political affairs work with our own cyber intelligence people – potentially allowing them to determine exactly how we caught them at it. I imagine virtually everyone can see the problem with that offer from Putin – no matter how strongly Trump endorsed it.

So – when I predicted Trump would pursue agreements which would strengthen his deal making image it appears I was wrong. He remained focused on domestic American politics and it turned out not to be the politics of 2018 but the election campaign of 2016.

So, I rate myself at fifty/fifty, with that sort of record I’m off to Vegas.

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An Easy Summit

 

It’s probably foolish for me to speculate about the Trump/Putin summit, historically even what appear to be highly organized and extensively prepared meetings between world leaders can take on a life of their own.  For example a series of meetings between President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev began with an effort to simply reduce fears of nuclear war and moved to the point at with Reagan himself appeared to accept the thought of total nuclear disarmament – something which both shocked and appalled most of his high level advisors.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/ronald-reagans-disarmament-dream/422244/

It appears that those same advisors were totally ignorant of the fact that only a short time before, Soviet fears of a preemptive western decapitation strike had escalated to the point where the Russian leadership was itself seriously considering its own senior military staff requests for a nuclear first strike on the United States (if that is news to you then you have not read Surprise Attack). It’s certainly not unknown to find senior staff scrabbling in trying to keep up with remarks and press statements following personal meetings between world leaders.

In regard to the Trump/Putin summit, the most recent statement from President Trump is that it will be an “easy summit” and I suspect that is quite true; there is little doubt that there is less discord between he and Putin than between he and EU and NATO leaders. Most recently he has even remarked that if NATO steps up its spending it is still a problem since that won’t necessarily help the American trade balance with Europe.  Certainly the meeting with Putin does not appear to be the traditional East/West meeting but purely a meeting in regard to mutual U.S. and Russian Federation interests.

It will also be made easier due to the fact that Putin has already accomplished most of his tactical goals in terms of fragmenting both the EU and NATO and is well underway towards significantly improving Russian political/military influence over much of Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East. The success of nationalist party success across Europe has also opened new venues for increased Russian influence, with Italy only being the most being the most visible example. Of course just to make sure Europe doesn’t forget Russia is in the room:

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/22075/russia-executes-mock-special-operations-raid-on-remote-island-off-finland

Given his success, I suspect Putin will take a very soft line, including pushing for mutual security accords to address the fighting in Syria. Russian success there has now left Russia in control of much of the southern border with Jordon and that is exactly the sort of value add that Putin would like to showcase in terms of Russian military support. He may even offer something similar in regard to the Ukraine, a security agreement which would leave the breakaway territories in place as well as the occupation of Crimea. Reduce the fighting, provide some relief to the migration of refuges – trade stability for geopolitical influence.

It’s hard to see Trump not accepting such proposals and the issue of sanctions may not even be raised, with the increase in oil prices due to the American moves again Iran, Russian revenues are bouncing back. With a pending trade war in Europe and Asia, Putin can profit by simply setting on the sidelines.

Beyond that it’s not impossible to see talk of something more spectacular, something like a joint agreement in space exploration or even a joint lunar mission. Russia would benefit in a number of ways from such an agreement and it’s one of the few areas of joint Russian/American cooperation that would be solid ground for moving forward.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/06/next-generation-russian-crew-vehicle-initial-testing/

Beyond that, Putin will register his concerns about NATO and probably repeat the Russian opposition to the American anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe.  If he does and Trump agrees, it will be a sure sign to the East that it better rebuild its political links to Moscow (actually putting the systems there was nonsense in the first place and Russia has every reason to question why they are there; they make no strategic sense and are simply an artifact of the ongoing American obsession with Iran).

Their continued existence also illustrates that all presidents can make mistakes but only some know how to clean up after their predecessors without public embarrassment.  That particular issue could have been easily resolved with Aegis anti-missile cruisers in the Mediterranean. When JFK took the IRBM’s out of Turkey in the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis, he simply moved a Polaris ICBM sub into the Mediterranean – quietly maintaining and likely improving the American nuclear strike position.

So I’ve talked at some length on Putin’s agenda, what about Trump?  Objectively I can only say his goal is to assert his own political power by meeting with Putin in a total rejection of all concerns and issues with Russian political warfare.

I would speculate he would like to be able to come away able to declare “security wins” as he did from the North Korean meeting, as well as some new items of joint Russian/American cooperation. Overall my take is that his agendas are essentially domestic and not global – while Putin’s are just the opposite. Given that, it may indeed be an “easy summit” for both leaders.

 

Summit Agendas

 

This series of posts has been longer than anticipated and there will likely be one more, rife with my personal speculation, in a few days. To set the context for that it’s important to fully appreciate the agendas of both Putin and Trump in the upcoming summit.

First, it’s important to note that Putin wants good relations with the U.S. He views the U.S, China and Russia the fundamental global super powers, the political forces that should control the security and resources of the planet. It’s even possible he would prefer stronger US / Russian relations as a balance against the Chinese – who are in direct territorial contact with the Russian Federation across all its eastern borders and who are themselves busily working to control SW Asian and African resources that the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union viewed as under their hegemony.

Second, Putin personally hates NATO and the EU and would do anything in his power to weaken those alliances with the United States, as well as to ensure that Russian energy influence over Europe is maintained. Along with those aspects of his agenda he is highly motivated to preserve Russian influence within OPEC and maintain Russian oil revenues – the key to the Russian economy and to finance his military developments (as well as Russian economic development of the Arctic; which he understands is critical to Russia given climate change – which he most certainly does recognize).

In short he would actually like a strong U.S. / Russian partnership – if it is on those terms.  To do so he is perfectly happy to court American business interests as well as its political right wing, and interestingly enough there appears a great desire to work with Russia within both those sectors.  In other words, Putin has a very solid sense of where to target Russian political appeal towards America.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/02/europe/russia-us-relations-political-will-intl/index.html

In listing his summit priorities I would project they would focus on reinforcing Trump’s own disdain and mistrust for traditional American alliances and agreements. In essence Trump’s America First political agenda is quite literally the same as Putin’s so anything Putin can do to reinforce that in regard to the EU, to BREXIT, to the WTO and most importantly towards NATO will be points Putin’s personal persuasion.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/01/politics/trump-world-trade-organization-tariffs/index.html

As to Trump’s agenda, he would very much like good relations with Russia for a number of reasons, most of all because he is personally obsessed with maintaining that Russian “meddling” had nothing to do with his winning the 2016 election and imposing his own political will in terms of his campaign statements in regard to doing business with Russia. This is a very personal issue of legitimacy and will to him – whereas Putin is driven largely by strategic national issues, Trump is in a very different and much more personal space in the talks.

Trump faces a hugely escalating budget deficit, a potential cliff in economic growth as a result of his tariff policies and a dramatically escalating military budget.  I speculated in Shadow Warfare, some four years ago now, that Putin was using the Reagan Star Wars gambit of baiting the U.S. with new weapons systems and deployments – potentially forcing the U.S. to commit to a new wave of military spending it could not afford. The downside risk was the price of oil and Russian oil revenues.

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/06/26/underwater-will-rising-debt-spark-pentagon-cutbacks/

 

Up until the election of 2016 things were looking increasingly as if Putin was indeed playing the Star Wars card effectively, forcing a huge increase in American spending – but that the falling price of oil had made the operational deployment of such weapons questionable.  However the new 2017/2018 Trump accords with Saudi Arabia, his ongoing political warfare with Iran and pending American economic sanctions against Iran’s trading partners things have dramatically changed.  Those America moves have now destabilized the world oil market to the extent that Russia is in an increasingly better position to at least sustain Putin’s projects. At this point Russia is most definitely the economic winner in terms of the new American/Saudi alliance against Iran.

American economic/budget exposure puts Trump in a position to be amenable to Putin proposals which would limit new weapons development, potentially point towards a new era of nuclear disarmament negotiations, and set the stage for deals which allow reduction or even the pulling out of American forces from Syria, potentially out of Korea and even out of Europe – blunting the resurgence of NATO and American support for the Ukraine as well as other Eastern European nations where Putin very much wants to weaken confidence in Western support and reassert Russian political control.

I’ll get down to more specific speculation on deals in my final pre-summit post, but my view of the overall summit context is that  Putin will be suggesting deals to Trump that Trump will be very much driven by his own personal agenda and his America First political promises to accept.

Summit Backstory

In this series of posts I’ve been discussing the backstory to   the upcoming Trump/Putin summit meeting.  That meeting was first suggested by Putin and now Trump’s own national security advisor John Bolton (who himself is historically not a fan of Putin) is off to Moscow to follow up on Putin’s proposal.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/21/john-bolton-to-moscow-kremlin-661516

Given the state of chaos in American politics at present, it’s hard to understand why Trump would pursue a meeting which would appear to have the bad “optics” so hated by contemporary politicians. On the other hand, it is hard to overestimate the personal connection that exists between the two men and Trump’s admiration for Putin, who exemplifies the type of tough leadership Trump strives to practice.

Beyond that personal equation, there is also a fundamental agreement in both men’s views on tactics – and tactics are incredibly important to the two, especially since Putin has demonstrated his ability to actually turn around his own popularity and re-establish himself as the single dominant political force in Russia, all within an amazingly brief span of time.

No more than a decade ago, Putin and his supporters reached the conclusion that Russia was under direct political attack by the west, carried out through the actions of various non-government agencies (NGO’s) who had inserted themselves into elections in nations throughout the former Soviet domains and who were increasingly involved inside Russia itself. The history of those democracy initiatives goes back decades, with a resurgence during the post 9/11 Bush Administration.

It involves both federally funded American organizations and privately funded open democracy activist groups. Beginning in 2004, it became increasingly clear that their activities, and those of similar groups from the European Union, were successfully destabilizing elections and established regimes across Eastern Europe. By 2008 Putin and his associates were openly stating that they would either reassert control during the upcoming Russian elections or literally lose the soul of the nation to foreign influence.

Of course, without being too conspiratorial, it’s simply true that open elections and multi-party governments are inherently destabilizing, somewhat chaotic and much less “efficient” than single party regimes. Governments led by long time Soviet era figures would hardly be expected to have welcomed the chaos of fully open democracy and contentious elections under any circumstance. Not surprisingly the Putin establishment responded to political change in Georgia, the Ukraine, and within the Russian Federation itself as foreign “meddling” and increasingly sought to oppose what they considered foreign intervention.

Open democracy does fragment national politics and can become the bane of central control, efforts to spread it can be a seen threat. Throughout the Cold War, America repeatedly intervened to support pro-American regimes that were facing populist, open democracy movements. Stu Wexler and I tell that story in Shadow Warfare and I go much further in exploring it in Creating Chaos. In the 21st Century Putin has responded to the decade of political chaos in Eastern Europe and the Baltic from 2004-2014 in much the same fashion, and arguably, much more efficiently.

Beginning in 2008 Putin began a series of initiatives to oppose the influence of open democracy initiatives inside Russia by rebuilding  a centralized power structure, with a great deal of focus on attacking and deconstructing what had become a relatively open media following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He coined the term “fake news”, he began encouraging his oligarchic supporters to buy into control of various media groups and himself reasserting centralized government media control over state owned radio and television networks.

By 2014 that initiative had proved increasingly successful, as had been a complimentary effort to emphasize and differentiate Russian culture, Russian heritage and Russian values from the West. Putin was quite open about his agenda and his views, asserting in speeches that the West – especially America – did not understand the fact that Russia was inherently different and needed to be treated accordingly.

Putin repeatedly and publicly made it clear that Russia deserved the sort of international status and dominion that it had held for centuries under first the Russian empire and later the Soviet Union.  The west needed to look back within itself, worry about its own problems and cease interference in the territories that Russia had controlled over the centuries.

In pursuit of that worldview Putin moved to weaponize the type of political chaos that he felt had been directed towards Russia from the West, directing it back towards them. In doing so he encouraged both domestic and foreign activities which have not only fully restored his own power inside Russia but which have created a level of political chaos on his borders, within the NATO nations and inside the United States which could hardly have been imagined only a decade ago.

While those actions have provoked strong response in Europe, the American reaction has been much more mixed. A series of sanctions have created difficulties for certain Russian oligarchs and companies, yet at a less visible level, Russian government activities within the United States and with certain American political figures remain unaffected – and largely unpublicized.

http://uawire.org/russian-minister-of-internal-affairs-says-he-received-us-visa-without-problems-despite-sanctions

https://www.rferl.org/a/republican-lawmakers-seek-putin-visit-during-russia-trip/29314372.html

In summary, as the move to a July summit between Trump and Putin proceeds, Putin has placed himself in a position of strategic influence which is actually not justified by either his economy, his military or his alliances. In a classic sense he has gained that position by playing not on his strengths but his opponent’s weaknesses.

All of which leads us to the question of what his agenda in the upcoming summit meeting will be, and how that could be translated to match that of Trump’s own needs. I’ll speculate a bit on that in my final post on contemporary Russian/American relations.

Common Ground

Common Ground

The stated issue in the pending summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump will be nuclear weapons. Given that Putin has already proposed nuclear weapons as the topic for the meeting that seems like a safe projection. The context of the talk will be that of security guarantees, guarantees which will allow Russia to feel comfortable with pulling back on the actual construction of at least some of the aggressive new designs which they have under development. That would include Russia’s ongoing development of a nuclear powered cruise missile – a weapon system the U.S. began at the height of the Cold War and determined to be so insane that it cancelled the project, Project Pluto.

https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/putins-nuclear-powered-cruise-missile-is-a-rehash-of-an-1823588286

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a13978519/slam-cruise-missile-nuclear-thermonuclear/

Why Russia would be developing a weapon of this at this date is virtually impossible to fathom in light of any external threat to itself. The same can be said for their work on a megaton class atomic torpedo:

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/just-how-much-threat-russias-status-6-nuclear-torpedo-24094

While we are not sure about the torpedo, there are definite signs the atomic cruise missile is real and has been in testing, creating nuclear contamination in the process.

Of course what both nations have now begun much more broadly is a total update their ICBM systems and even the re-introduction of tactical nuclear weapons. It is a very real and horrendously expensive effort, so here would be much to be gained politically (at least in American politics) by reducing that budgeted spending. The carrot and the stick are both plainly in view in a Putin/Trump summit meeting. Doing a deal would indeed be largely painless since nobody really needs the new weapons or the budget drain.

Which brings us to the motivation for the new Russian atomic weapons and a bit closer to something else that Putin will want, most likely unstated, in any such deal. And that will be quite simple, he will want assurances that America will focus internally, that it will cease funding all its democratic initiative programs and that it will make an effort to curtail the democracy initiatives carried out by those non-governmental entities that it can overtly or covertly control. Putin’s view is that those actions were conscious American meddling, a threat to Russian sovereignty which has to stop –  that is no real secret since it is exactly how he responds to questions about Russian meddling in the American political process.

Putin himself is convinced that the last four American administrations, over some thirty years, waged democracy initiative programs which not only created the color revolutions in the former Russian dominated eastern European nations but across North Africa and into the Middle East – all areas which had historically seen heavy Russian economic and political influence (from Libya through Egypt up into Syria and across into Iran and Iraq). And he wants that stopped. He wants America focused internally, the NATO nations dealing with internal problems and the opportunity to reassert Russian economic and political influence.  Beyond that in certain border areas (Novorossiya), he wants to reassert basic Russian cultural control and political dominance

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Novorossiya

What will make the proposed meeting between the two Presidents’ most interesting is that it appears the American President largely agrees with the Russian President’s world views on American global meddling. And that brings us to the subject of “synchronicity”, the topic for the next post in this series.

 

Putin Prognostication

 

Since I research and write on what I have begun to think of as  “Deep History”, I normally don’t get involved with the temptation of predicting the future.  However Creating Chaos (now available for preorder on both Amazon and at OR Books) led me much further into contemporary events and those events are playing out in such an obvious fashion that I can no longer help myself.

There is going to be a Trump/Putin Summit meeting in the near future, Putin has already proposed it and Trump will follow up on it before the upcoming American elections. The primary discussion at the meeting will be moves to address the dramatic “rebuild” of the Russian and American nuclear arsenals, not just in regard to megaton class weapons systems but the rebirth of the type of tactical nuclear weapons which had essentially been taken off the table during the first Bush presidency and seemed about to totally be eliminated under Obama.

If you have been following my blog posts you know that during the last three to four years, Putin has returned tactical nukes to the forefront of Russian weapons development (announcing hyper-sonic delivery systems and most recently displaying an aircraft carried, long range atomic cruise missile).  Russian Federation military doctrines have also begun to publicly tout the use of tactical nukes in a number of scenarios.

While most of Putin’s military announcements have been in regard to weapons of mass destruction – new ground and mobile ICBMS, new Russian ballistic missile subs and ICBM’s, an atomic powered global cruise missile and even “continent” killer fusion torpedoes – his touting of the unique unstoppable, inter-continental cruise missiles is something else entirely, suggesting Russia can remotely intervene anywhere on the globe it chooses. It is actually quite reminiscent of Nikita Khrushchev’s initial announcement of Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

All this nuclear sword waving is rather different than the current Chinese military initiatives which are very much focused on the China Sea resources and its land route into Africa.  China clearly has strategic resource control as its primary strategy, and its growing military presence in Africa reflects that.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/03/10/china-builds-ambitiously-africa-us-sounds-alarm.html

Putin’s tactical goals are something else entirely. Given that Russia’s financial resources are actually far more limited than China’s, his tactical moves and successes suggest that he is actually both highly focused and amazingly skilled (or lucky, either counts).  There is simply no way that Russia’s economy will support the large scale deployment of the advanced weapons he is developing and touting – even given his immense success in working with OPEC in raising the price of oil over the last few months, oil prices being his greatest political exposure.

However in working with OPEC and by making what was actually a very modest investment in aircraft and manpower in Syria, he reinserted Russia’s role in the Middle East with minimal expense (although the cost in Russian military contract employees was considerable, such shadow warfare is generally a low risk political gambit and the Russians have always been better at it than the U.S.).  The following story gives a bit more detail on what Russia can and cannot afford in the terms of real world military force projection:

http://warisboring.com/coming-soon-containerized-missiles-on-russian-warships/

So…Putin has proposed a nuclear summit to Trump and I predict it will happen. And as with Putin’s proposal some months ago that the best way to engage with North Korea would be to suspend U.S. / South Korean military exercises, I suspect Putin is already floating some very attractive “deals”.  Deals which will in truth give up nothing (since Russia can’t afford to build all the highly advanced weapons Putin has been showcasing) but will give Putin more of what he truly wants.  Which will be the subject of Part 2 of this series of posts.

Mind Control

 

The anniversary of the RFK assassination is bringing forth a host of articles related to Sirhan Sirhan and a great many of them are revisiting a conspiracy theme that has been present for some decades – a theme based in Sirhan’s claim that he had no memory at all of events around the time of the shooting in the Ambassador Hotel.  It was a claim which led to a rather strange legal defense, not terribly unlike that which at one point was offered for Jack Ruby in the shooting of Lee Oswald. Of course when you are captured at the scene of the crime with a gun in your hand and numerous witnesses to your firing it, legal defenses do have to get creative.

Sirhan’s initial court room defense did not introduce the idea of conspiracy at all – which it certainly would have had to if he had been positioned as some sort of patsy. However in more recent years Sirhan himself has moved to towards that position, speculating that he might have somehow been manipulated by the infamous (and indeed very suspicious) “polka dot dress girl”, who he now suspects might have put something in his drink.

The view taken in most of the conspiracy writing related to that girl connects to something far more complex and far darker, the possibility that Sirhan was under some sort of mind control, functioning as a totally automated assassin. To a large extent, that view has been fostered by the fact that Sirhan himself has been shown to be easily hypnotized, giving every sign that at some point before the shooting he had previously been the subject of hypnotic practices.

That fact has led to wide ranging speculation that Sirhan was not simply conditioned though hypnosis but indeed had been developed as the type of mind controlled assassin envisioned in one aspect of the CIA’s MK/ULTRA project. Of course MK/ULTRA had many elements, including the use of drugs for interrogation, assassination and in support of psychiatric conditioning.  Indeed drugs, extensive psychiatric conditioning in controlled environments and hypnosis were all elements of the program over a period of years. Good overviews of the total program may be found at these links:

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/search/site/mk%2520ultra

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKUltra

A more in depth, contemporary article related to the subject of mind control may be found here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4196540/

I explored the issue of the polka dot dress girl and Sirhan’s own history with hypnosis – including his self-practice of auto-suggestion – in my essays on the RFK assassination which are available on the Mary Ferrell Foundation web site:

https://www.maryferrell.org/pages/Essay_-_Incomplete_Justice_-_At_the_Ambassador_Hotel.html

My conclusions were that there is extensive evidence that the polka dot dress girl and her associates were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate RFK and the attack at the Ambassador was simply the final effort in a series of attempts which had gone on for some weeks. Beyond that there is every reason to feel that hypnosis was involved in conditioning Sirhan, but very likely not in the form of a sophisticated mind control program. Given Sirhan’s own political views targeting him on RFK was rather easy. There is also considerable reason, based in extensive taped interviews following his arrest, to be skeptical about Sirhan’s own claims to have no recollection of the events at the hotel or during the immediate period after the shooting.

That’s all in the essays and I’m always happy to discuss those. In terms of the RFK conspiracy itself I remain very much interested and involved in investigating it – more on that in a following post.

Stoner and the MLK Assassination

If you have read Stu and my works on the conspiracy which murdered Dr. King, you are well aware that one of the points of convergence for much of the most violent racist (and anti-Semitic) attacks in the south was J.B. Stoner. Stoner was behind the bombings of synagogues across the south, including attacks in Florida, Atlanta, Alabama and Tennessee. He routinely used surrogates to do the actual attacks, and in some instances actually marketed those services, including in one documented instance offering the murder of a number of Civil Rights leaders, with MLK high on the list.

We discuss Stoner’s networks at length in The Awful Grace of God, and his use of the National States Rights Party as a cover for much more covert violence. In Killing King we elaborate on his connections to the White Knights of Mississippi, the sponsors of the ultimate MLK bounty, as well to the fund raising in Atlanta which finally assembled the large amount of cash needed to support that offer.

The connections between Stoner, James Earl Ray and Ray’s brother have long been of interest, especially because of Stoner’s involvement as a defense attorney for Ray and his brother’s employment as a personal security guard for Stoner himself.  Both came after the assassination but there has been considerable suspicion that it didn’t happen by sheer circumstance.

Other investigators have been interested in that possibility, and recently Betsy Phillips, a Nashville based reporter, has written about what appears to have been a secret Tennessee investigation into the King assassination. It was an investigation which the state governor appears to have tried to stop – possibly with some concerns that it might turn up some embarrassing leads pointing beyond James Earl Ray and to a larger conspiracy.

The Phillips article can be found at the following link and in addition to highlighting the Tennessee investigation, it raises a point about Stoner’s connection to the Ray family that might explain a great many things – including James Earl Ray’s strange summer interlude in the deep south in 1967, which placed him within blocks of Stoner’s NSRP headquarters.

https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/21002347/james-earl-ray-killed-martin-luther-king-jr

 

Sources, Informants, Surveillance

 

Sources, Informants, Surveillance

There seems to be a good deal of confusion in regard to all these subjects at present, especially within the White House.  Having following all three areas for a considerable time, I thought I should walk through a very brief overview of not only what the intelligence community is authorized to do, but legally mandated to do in these areas – in terms of both crime and national security.

Both the FBI and CIA operate public offices in most American cities. Citizens are encouraged to contact the FBI if they suspect they may have information or leads relating to federal crimes or activities which would represent suspect activities by individuals acting for foreign powers. CIA domestic contact officers maintain voluntary contacts with American’s who do business overseas or who encounter information relating to foreigners visiting or living within the United States.  If those contacts reveal activities which suggest foreign intelligence collections or attempts to establish domestic agents of influence for foreign powers, the CIA is supposed to turn that information over to the FBI.

Of course the same goes for actual security threats, including espionage, sabotage and terror activities. One of the fundamental breakdowns in regard to the attacks of 9/11 was the failure of the CIA to hand off information on suspects visiting the United States to the FBI; another was the failure of the FBI to aggressively pursue concrete leads from its field offices. As a side note, at the time the FBI had become somewhat cautious about its subversive activities role and that definitely appears to have constrained its headquarters actions – the Bureau faces a real balancing act in such matters. One contemporary concern is that with the very literal White House challenges to the activities of both Justice and FBI, the FBI may once again be moved into a state of extreme caution, blunting its effectiveness in counter intelligence and subversive investigations.

In terms of FBI interventions, the Bureau routinely accepts contacts from volunteer sources, routinely vets whether the sources actually have access to the issues they relate and if so opens source files on them.  At that point they are certainly not “informants”, but simply sources of information on potential criminal or subversive matters.  The FBI may also contact individuals known to be associated with individuals who are the subject of existing criminal investigations or who may have information on future subversive activities.  As an example, upon his return from Russia the FBI visited Lee Oswald and requested that he contact the Bureau if he himself was approached by anyone appearing to represent a foreign power – he agreed to do so.  Later, in New Orleans, after being in contact with Cuban exiles and involving himself with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, he also voluntarily reached out to a subversive desk officer within the FBI and submitted to a lengthy interview.

The next stage in either subversive or criminal matters occurs when the FBI determines that an individual actually has direct contacts and information which might be of value in an actual investigation – at that point the individual becomes a “potential criminal informant”  (that’s a dated term, such designations change over the decades).  As an example, the FBI designated Jack Ruby as a potential criminal informant for a period of time, however when their related investigations failed to lead to actual charges, he was dropped.  Only when an investigation proceeds to the point of potential prosecution does a source actually become an “informant” and at that point care is taken to conceal information about them given that they be required to give evidence in either open or closed (classified) legal actions.

For those readers with interest in the JFK assassination, you may or may not be surprised that many of the names you are familiar with including Jack Ruby, Lee Oswald, Gerry Hemming, Frank Sturgis, Roy Hargraves, Bernardo de Torres and a good number of others appear as both FBI and CIA sources.  Some like Ruby and Sturgis moved up the scale with either the FBI or the CIA, others simply kept going back to both the CIA and FBI with information – possibly to establish some sort of legitimacy and at times to dump dirt on individuals or groups they felt to be competitors. It is not uncommon to find that people who themselves walk a line in regards to criminal and subversive activities initiating contacts with either the Bureau or the Agency.

As far as the surveillance aspect of all this, that is a story in itself, but at its most basic, the NSA is mandated to perform surveillance not only on foreign entities’ military and diplomatic communications but also communications related to foreign contacts with individuals who may be providing information to or potentially acting as witting or unwitting tools of foreign powers. It receives “collections” lists of foreign individuals, government entities and commercial entities which may serve as covers for intelligence collection, espionage, criminal activities such as drug and weapons sales – and of course terrorism.

The surveillance lists can obviously be quite extensive and has grown in recent years as more and more individuals have begun doing business with Russia and China and as the terror threat expanded globally.  Matters escalate if material is collected that suggests that either illegal activities (including individuals acting as agents for foreign powers who have not filed the correct legal paperwork declaring such activities) are in progress – at that point the FBI may decide to pursue the issue with independent intelligence collection and surveillance of the American citizens involved. Such action requires submission and approval by a FISA court.

Obviously this is a far more complex subject than be covered in a blog post, some aspects of it are detailed in my book Surprise Attack.  Other areas are explored in considerable depth in Creating Chaos, which should be out as an eBook next month.  As always, if you have questions, feel free to post here or to email me direct at larryjoe@westok.net

 

Signatures and Profiles

 

Signatures and Profiles – these terms have serious and familiar meanings in criminal investigations, however they are both important in the context of national security – where they have considerably different applications.

In my recent posts I mentioned that the DIA has responsibilities in regard to the national signatures program. In that context signatures are highly technical – as illustrated in the linked description for a missile warnings systems facility which works towards the protection of U.S. Navy aircraft against hostile missile systems.

https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/missile-warning-system-facility-7ce05

The same sort of signature work has to be done to address weapons threats to aircraft, ships, space assets and ground forces. As you can imagine the total inventory of weapons/threat signatures is vast and constantly changing.  And in an age of drones, hyper-sonic missiles, and air and sea deployable smart weapons, life is becoming even more complex.  Not only is the maneuverability of unmanned and swarm type drone systems hard to fathom, their ability to violate the previous norms of manned craft in terms of acceleration and deceleration is nothing short of amazing. If you watched the opening of the Winter Olympics and saw the mini-drones form shifting and moving complexes of actual figures, imagine that in terms of hostile action rather than three dimensional real time imaging. But that is only half of the issue.

The other half of the security equation is threat profiling. Even if you can track something, even if you can detect and classify elements of its signature, when do you act against it as a threat? To illustrate that point I’ll give three examples.  First, when the Japanese carrier launched air armada was closing in on Pearl Harbor it was detected by radar, and reported.  The radar was mapping a large swarm of aircraft, moving towards Pearl Harbor…signatures were clear.  But the signature also matched, so some extent, flights of incoming bombers from the American west coast and was not acted on.  And the radar sighting was not “fused” with actual Navy attacks on unidentified submarines that same morning (these days we have warnings “fusion centers” which are supposed to allow us to avoid such mistakes). The military in Hawaii had spent a good bit of time profiling carrier attacks against the island but until all the pieces were put together at the same time the threat was not noted – and then it was far too late.

Another example comes from the Atlanta Olympics, during that event there was extensive security discussion about attacks by hijacked aircraft. The issue of signature and identification was brought up and the issue of aircraft tracking was immediately raised – since the American air defense network had been discontinued, it would all depend on aircraft based transponders and if a transponder was turned off the signature disappeared. The Air Force had profiled and practiced attacks by commercial airliners, but only airliners with operational transponders. Because no threat profile for silenced aircraft was developed, no tactics were developed in response to such a threat – a failure which became dramatically apparent in 2001.

All of which brings me back to the fact that if nothing else, recent revelations have brought us three very interesting real life incidents in which Navy pilots – and in two instances, entire Navy carrier strike groups – have encountered unidentified aerial objects which provide an illustration of what happens when signatures and profiles don’t match anticipated threats. Details of the incidents are still emerging and the extent to which other instances have happened may never become public. What we do know is that in one instance a carrier strike group performing pre-deployment exercises off southern California experienced overflights of unknowns at extremely high altitudes over a period of several days.  The flights involved from three to nine objects, tracked by radar at 80,000 feet and at speeds of ten to one hundred miles an hour. That radar signature doesn’t really match any foreign weapons systems so the tracks were simply treated as anomalies.

But after a few days the objects began to be tracked in descents from eighty thousand feet to twenty thousand feet at speeds, and with G forces, beyond that of any known device (tens of thousands of mph and with G loads of close to 50).  The objects were then radar tracked descending to sea level and moving up and down including simply holding position, motionless.  Again, this profile matches no known threat.

Ultimately, when more objects were detected descending into an area where carrier group air exercises were being conducted extended, the issue was classified as a potential safety hazard and interceptors were dispatched to identify the devices.  What happened at that point is another story indeed, the objects were imaged and recorded in both visual and infrared as well as radar tracked by the interceptors. And absolutely none of the technical signatures or observed performance made any sense. These incidents were indeed transmitted to DIA and pertinent records such as radar scope videos were secured.  Which leaves us with one more, hopefully minor, national security mystery. However given the fact that we don’t appear to possess any weapons systems that could deal with such devices, it would probably be best if they don’t turn out to be a threat. It’s just not good when you have a signature and a profile of what appears to be, at a minimum, ferreting operations by an unknown source – but you literally can’t do anything about it.