Saudi Arabia Acknowledges Defeat In Yemen – Starts To Sue For Peace (Moon of Alabama) 29 Aug 2019

Two weeks ago we wrote that war on Yemen will soon end. The Saudis lost their ally, they lost the war and would have to sue for peace. They are now doing so. But they fighting in Yemen will continue until that country finds a new balance.

Today the United Arab Emirates airforce bombed the Yemeni proxy forces of its ‘ally’ Saudi Arabia:

Yemen’s internationally recognized government accused the Emirati air force of attacking its troops Thursday as they were heading to the key southern port city of Aden to fight separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates. The airstrikes killed at least 30 government forces, a Yemeni commander said.

Col. Mohamed al-Oban, a commander of the government’s special forces in Abyan province, said the troops were on the road, headed from Abyan toward Aden on Thursday, when the strikes took place, killing at least 30.

At least six raids were carried out by Emirati warplanes around the temporary capital, according to government military sources who asked to remain anonymous.

Southern separatist forces under the Southern Transitional Council and supported by the UAE hold Aden. Between 1967 and 1990 south Yemen, then named the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, was separated from the mountainous north. After uniting with north Yemen the south became neglected even though its eastern desert holds most of the country’s hydrocarbon resources.

Since 2015 the coalition of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with U.S. and British help, has waged war against the Houthi in northern Yemen. The coalition is now falling apart. Both countries claimed to fight against the Houthi, which control the capital Sanaa, in support of the internationally recognized ‘legitimate’ government under ‘President’ Hadi. But both countries had from the very beginning more egoistic war aims.

The Wahhabi Saudis want a Yemeni government that is not controlled by the Zaydi-Shia Houthi with whom they fought dozens of wars over two provinces that Saudi Arabia once annexed. They also want to control Yemen’s oil and a pipeline from the Saudi oil region to a harbor in Yemen. It would help Saudi oil exports to avoid the Iran controlled Strait of Hormuz.

The UAE is big into the port business. It wants to control the strategic port of Aden and other Yemeni harbors on the southern coast. As it has no direct border with Yemen it largely does not care who controls the rest of Yemen.

The UAE leader Mohammad bin Zayed (MbZ) is not an absolute king. He is the son of the Emir of Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates that form the UAE. His aggressive foreign policy, with military engagement in Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya, has come under criticism of the rulers of the other emirates. Wars are expensive and bad for regular business. MbZ’s alliance with the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) was seen as dangerous. While the Saudis would like the U.S. to wage war on Iran, the UAE, and especially Dubai, would become a casualty of such a war.

In June the emirs decided to change cause. The UAE retreated from active war in Yemen and started to make nice with Iran. It hoped that the southern separatists it had trained would keep Aden under control and continue to do the UAE’s bidding. The Saudis and the ‘legitimate government’ under Hadi they control do not want to condone that.

The Saudis are extremely angry that the UAE changed course:

But this month, at his Mecca palace, Saudi King Salman took the unusual step of expressing “extreme irritation” with the UAE, his closest Arab partner, according to sources familiar with the matter.The comment appears to be evidence of a fissure in the alliance, which is led in practice by the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), and the UAE de facto ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MbZ).

The king’s annoyance was voiced in a conversation on Aug. 11 with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, head of Yemen’s Saudi-backed government, according to two Yemeni sources and one other briefed on the meeting.

Hadi’s forces in Aden had just been routed by troops supported by the UAE, as nominal allies in the country’s south turned on each other in a power struggle.

The Saudis must end the war against the Houthi that was launched at the behest of its clown prince. The war has cost the Saudis an enormous amount of money even as they are still losing it. Only yesterday 25 of their forces were killed in a Houthi ambush. With the help of Iran the Houthi acquired long range missiles and drones and they now use them in volleys that reach deep into the Saudi’s land:

Beginning on Aug. 24, the Houthis said its forces conducted two drone strikes on the King Khaled airbase in Khamis Mushayt and the Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia. A day later, another round of drone strikes were reported on both targets.On the same day, ten Badr-1 ballistic missiles were reportedly fired into Saudi’s Jizan city. However, Saudi officials reported that the country’s air defense systems shot down six ballistic missiles. The officials did not confirm if more missiles were included in the barrage.

On Aug. 26, another ballistic missile, the newly-announced Nakal missile, was reportedly fired at Saudi troops near Najran. Later in the day, another round of drones were reportedly intercepted near the King Khaled airbase in Khamis Mushayt.

As drones were hitting the King Khaled airbase, a separate attack was purportedly occurring near Riyadh with the new Samad-3 suicide drones. If confirmed, this marks the second time Houthi drones have hit the Saudi capital. The first was a reported strike on an Aramco facility near the capital last month.

On Aug. 27, the Houthis showcased another newly-announced ballistic missile, the Qasem-1, by allegedly hitting Saudi troops positioned near the Yemeni border in Najran. Another drone was intercepted and destroyed by Saudi forces over Khamis Mushayt as well.

And yesterday a new cruise missile, the Quds-1, was launched towards the Abha airport. Though, Saudi officials stated that the missile was intercepted and destroyed.

The Saudi king must have recognized that he has no longer any chance to ever win the war. It seems that he asked the Trump administration to work out an agreement with the Houthi:

The Trump administration is preparing to initiate negotiations with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in an effort to bring the four-year civil war in Yemen to an end, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.The effort is reportedly aimed at convincing Saudi Arabia to take part in secret talks with the rebels in Oman to help broker a cease-fire in the conflict, which has emerged as a front line in the regional proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran.

The brother of the clown prince came to Washington to prepare for the talks:

Prince Khalid met with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Wednesday and discussed “U.S. support for a negotiated resolution between the Republic of Yemen government” and a breakaway group known as the Southern Transitional Council, according to a statement from State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

The Hadi government is irrelevant. The Southern Transitional Council will demand independence from the north. The Houthi will demand to control the north and reparations for the war the Saudis waged against them. North Yemen’s infrastructure is largely destroyed. It will cost several dozens of billions to rebuild what the five year long Saudi air war destroyed. As the Houthi can continue to harass the Saudis at will, even in their capital, their is no way out for the Saudis but to pay whatever the Houthi demand.

It was the clown prince Mohammad bin Salman who launched the war in Yemen soon after he came to power. It was supposed to defeat the Houthi within a few weeks. Five years later and after at least a $100 billions was spent on it, the Saudis have lost the war.

Will the King hold his son responsible for the large loss of money and face that he caused?

Archive

https://archive.is/5aA4y

ATT Southeast – 20,000 CWA Labor Union Members On Strike – Do Not Cross Picket Lines! – Update – Strike Suspended – 28 Aug 2019

CWA: 20,000 forced to strike due to AT&T refusal to bargain

Striking AT&T workers in Broward County, Florida. | CWA Facebook
Update:AT&T Southeast strike comes to an end

Posted: 8:11 AM, Aug 28, 2019
Updated: 11:23 AM, Aug 28, 2019

The five-day strike for AT&T Southeast employees has ended.

Negotiators for the Communications Workers of America announced that members will return to work at noon today. Negotiators for the Communications Workers of America have reached a “handshake deal” with AT&T Southeast on a new collective bargaining agreement for more than 20,000 AT&T employees in nine states.

The strike began on Saturday, August 24. The workers claimed the strike was against what they were calling unfair labor practices by the company.

District Three, where the strike occurred, covers Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The CWA released the following statement on the end of the strike:

“CWA members’ spirit and solidarity over the last four days showed the company that we would not back down until they bargained with us in good faith,” said CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt. “This was a historic strike that showed the power that working people have when they join together.”

Archive

………………………………..

ATLANTA—AT&T management’s labor law-breaking – specifically its refusal to bargain a new contract – forced 20,000 Communications Workers members toiling for AT&T Southeast to strike at midnight on August 23.

And hundreds more, in the Miami area, preceded their colleagues by a day. They had to strike over separate law-breaking – formally called unfair labor practices – charges of illegal discipline threats.

CWA said the big problem in the talks is that AT&T Southeast bargainers “do not have real authority to make proposals or to reach an agreement with us.” Instead, the company’s bargaining team always had to run back to AT&T top management, including CEO Randall Stephenson.

That means the firm’s negotiators could not bargain in good faith. The old contract expired on August 3.

Some 20,000 technicians, customer service representatives and others who install, maintain and support AT&T’s residential and business wireline telecommunications network in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee had to walk.

“In 2015, on the first day of contract negotiations with AT&T, Vice-President (Richard) Honeycutt, in his opening statement emphasized two words: Responsibility and respect,” the union said. Honeycutt’s Atlanta-based CWA District 3 covers the southeastern states.

“Four years later, in 2019, we have learned something about respect from AT&T. When we asked for respect from AT&T, one thing we meant was the company sent someone to the bargaining table who was there to make a deal — a deal for the benefit of our members and for the company we work for.”

“Unfortunately, AT&T does not understand respect to mean that they have an obligation to bargain in good faith. AT&T does not understand CWA is prepared to bargain and is prepared to make a deal that benefits our members and AT&T. It turns out that for over three months, we have been bargaining with people who do not have the real authority to make proposals or to reach an agreement with us.”

“AT&T also changed to rules of the game by changing our agreement about how we meet and bargain. As a result, CWA was forced to file unfair labor practice charges against AT&T for bargaining in bad faith.”

“The million-dollar executives in Dallas” – AT&T headquarters – “and their so-called ‘labor relations experts,’ sent to the bargaining table without the authority to make a decision, all had to find out the hard way what their employees will do when they have been disrespected.”

The union drew immediate support from the longest-tenured pro-union Democratic presidential primary contender, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt. On the way to address a big pro-Sanders crowd at the Kentucky State Fair, Sanders detoured to walk the picket line with and address the CWA members marching in front of AT&T Southeast’s Louisville, Kent., office.

“Stop the greed, treat your workers with respect and dignity. They are the folks that make you the money,” Sen. Sanders said to huge applause. “Sit down at the negotiation table and to bargain for a fair and decent contract with employees. And stop sending jobs abroad.”

That outsourcing, especially of call center jobs, is a big issue between CWA and AT&T and not just in the Southeast. When the GOP congressional majority jammed through its $1.2 trillion tax cut for corporations and the rich – a cut which hugely benefited AT&T – company CEO Stephenson said the firm would use $1 billion of the tax cut cash to create 7,000 more U.S. jobs.

Instead, Stephenson added those benefits to the firm’s prior profits, while shutting call centers around the U.S. and exporting those jobs to Mexico.

Striking AT&T workers in Chapel Hill, N.C. | CWA Facebook

“The company received a $21 billion windfall from the tax bill and is projecting $3 billion in annual tax savings going forward, but an analysis by CWA based on AT&T’s own quarterly reports show that AT&T has cut over 23,000 jobs since the tax cut passed. Just before Fathers’ Day weekend, AT&T announced job cuts for nearly 2,000 workers, including 911 in the Southeast,” the union points out.

“If you were to visit any work center or call center across District 3, you would discover that your employees, our members, are not treated with the respect they have earned and deserve,” Honeycutt told company bargainers in opening remarks. “As far as mutual responsibility, this has unfortunately become a one-way street.”

The union is “demanding AT&T to show our hard-working members the respect and loyalty they deserve. This can be done through better wages, benefits, improved work rules, and job security. Give work to your employees – CWA members – not the employees of other companies,” he added, referring to the outsourced call center jobs.

Meanwhile, the CWA AT&T workers in South Florida were forced to strike at 7 am on August 22 over their own local boss’s labor law-breaking.

CWA Local 3121 in Hialeah, CWA Local 3120 in Broward County and CWA Local 3122, which covers an area stretching from North Miami Beach to Key West, said their area bosses engaged in unfair labor practices, too, separate from the law-breaking at the main bargaining table.

The local unions said bosses threatened to discipline workers and prevented “protected concerted activities” by AT&T workers – actions labor law protects. One violation: Company threats to discipline members for wearing CWA memorabilia or insignia.

Massachusetts Antiwar Activist Frances Crowe Dies at 100 – by Dusty Christiansen (Daily Hampshire Gazette) 27 Aug 2019

Frances Crowe during a anti war rally in Northampton Monday morning.

NORTHAMPTON — Legendary anti-war activist and longtime city resident Frances Crowe died on Tuesday morning at the age of 100.

“She lived an amazing life and had a beautiful death at home surrounded by her children,” Crowe’s 72-year-old daughter, Caltha, told the Gazette. She said Crowe died after taking to her bed eight days ago.  Hundreds of loved ones came to visit and called on her throughout the week.

Crowe, herself a Quaker, was a committed pacifist who was arrested countless times during protests against everything from war and nuclear weapons to environmental destruction. She was known across the Pioneer Valley and beyond for her activism, and inspired many to follow in her footsteps.

“The phone rings about every three minutes and it’s somebody from somewhere in the world calling to make sure we know how much they loved her,” Caltha Crowe said. “This has been the most unbelievable experience.”

mass antiwar crowe

Born in Carthage, Missouri, in 1919, Crowe moved to Northampton with her husband, Thomas, in 1951, and soon began organizing anti-war and anti-nuclear campaigns. In a Gazette article in October 2018, Crowe wrote that she decided to oppose war after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.

Nuckear explosion

 

As the American war in Vietnam began to escalate, Crowe founded the local chapter of the American Friends Service Committee in 1968, which she ran out of her basement. The organization provided counsel to around 2,000 men applying for status as conscientious objectors to the war.

In that 2018 article, Crowe described the first time she was arrested while staging a peaceful protest on International Women’s Day. The date was March 8, 1972, and together with a group she helped organize in 1970 called Women Against the War, Crowe demonstrated at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, where B-52 bomber crews trained before duty in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

westover chicopee

“Some 30 of us dressed in black pajamas, the traditional garb of rural Vietnamese women,” Crowe wrote. “We hoped bystanders would feel the suffering of Vietnamese women if we dressed like them. We also hoped that young men facing conscription or drafting into the U.S. military would see the humanity of the Vietnamese people and examine their consciences about entering the army.”

Since then, Crowe has been a key figure in organizing or inspiring activism across the region. She co-founded the Traprock Peace Center in Deerfield and other local peace and anti-nuclear organizations, and was well known for chaining herself, along with other protesters, to the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

That work has inspired many, who together mourned her death.

“Frances absolutely changed my life,” said state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton. Comerford said Crowe was one of the first people she met when she arrived in the Valley in 1998. “I was headed down a different path, and she was a beacon.”

Comerford worked at the American Friends Service Committee for seven years, and she said she often would run into people who had been inspired by Crowe. Once, she met a woman in New Hampshire holding weekly anti-war vigils. When Comerford asked why she was holding those vigils, the woman said she was following Crowe’s example.

“There are people like this all over the Northeast — and I’m sure beyond that — who picked up a call to action because Frances told them to,” Comerford said.

The Rev. Andrea Ayvazian was one of the people who helped Crowe organize weekly anti-war vigils in downtown Northampton.

Hampshire College

Ayvazian said she met Crowe in 1981 after one of Ayvazian’s students at Hampshire College wrote her capstone project about local women who inspired her, including Ayvazian and Crowe. That student organized a get-together for them all in Crowe’s basement, but then got a stomach bug and couldn’t attend. So Ayvazian found herself alone with Crowe in her basement.

“Frances and I talked for many hours, and basically I never left her basement,” Ayvazian said.

The two grew close over decades of activism, and were arrested together around a dozen times, Ayvazian said. When she visited Crowe on her deathbed this past week, Ayvazian said, she sang some of the songs they used to sing in jail together, with Crowe mouthing the words with her.

Many of those remembering Crowe recalled her consistent ability to move others to action. Even in her final days she was checking in with friends about their activist work.

“She was an organizer to the very end, essentially,” said Jeff Napolitano, executive director of The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice — the successor organization to the American Friends Service Committee of Western Massachusetts, which closed in 2017. “There’s no way to overstate her impact.”

“It’s not so much what she could accomplish on her own,” said friend and fellow activist Claudia Lefko. “What was amazing about Frances was that she gave people ideas, she inspired them. And she supported them.”

Lefko said that when she talked to Crowe this week, Crowe said one of the most important things she did in the Pioneer Valley was successfully fight to get the independent news program Democracy Now! on the local airwaves in the early 2000s.

Together with local musician and activist Ed Russell, Crowe helped bring the program to the Valley by making illegal pirate broadcasts of the show — first with Russell climbing Mount Holyoke to operate the broadcasts, and later transmitting from Crowe’s backyard. Eventually, she was able to get WMUA to pick up the show, and the station has run the program ever since.

“I think that just demonstrates who Frances is — just her passion for information, her deep belief that getting information out was a means of liberation,” Democracy Now! host and renowned journalist Amy Goodman said Tuesday. “She just would not take no for an answer, and it just so deeply inspired us.”

Goodman said she came to know Crowe in 2005 when she interviewed her in Northampton. Goodman was recently at Crowe’s 100th birthday, and said she spoke with Crowe last week after she had stopped eating and drinking.

Goodman pointed out that as Crowe passes away, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is set to arrive in New York after traveling in a zero-emissions sailboat from Europe in advance of the U.N. Climate Summit.

“Really, Frances passes the torch,” Goodman said. “And what she cared about was equality, peace, a nuclear-free world, and she has helped make that happen.”

Crowe is survived by her three children — Caltha, Jarlath and Thomas — five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

Archive

20,000 AT&T workers strike across the South – Picket Lines Mean Don’t Cross! – 25 Aug 2019

 

(24 Aug 2019 – (2:09 min) Striking CWA Labor Union Picket Line)

On Friday night at midnight, over 20,000 workers in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee walked off the job at AT&T.

The strike broke out with little advanced notice as the trade union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), sought to force workers to stay on the job three weeks past the contract expiration on August 3. A Thursday statement from CWA admitted mass worker anger: “The phones at the District 3 Office have not stopped ringing today. Members are calling to say that they want a new contract.” And will strike to get that contract.

ATT Strike South

The largest strike in the American South in recent history captures a growing mood of militancy among workers.  Images of black and white workers manning pickets together in the deep south send an important message: The unity of the international working class—no matter the race, gender or nationality—is a strategic necessity in the struggle for social equality.

AT&T Inc. is one of the world’s malefactors of great wealth. In its ruthless exploitation of workers and customers and its strangling command of governments and world markets, the corporation epitomizes the rapaciousness of global capitalism.

The corporation is demanding an unprecedented austerity contract that would pave the way for mass firings and force workers to labor under conditions not seen since the 1920s.

AT&T wants the power to lay off workers regardless of seniority for attendance and performance-related pretenses. It seeks to implement a mandatory, 24/7 standby program where workers will be called to work on irregular schedules with little notice, resembling the “shape-up” system of the early 20th century. Wire technicians would be forced to work more complex and dangerous jobs with no pay increase, call center workers would be monitored with every breathe they take, and the corporation is reportedly demanding workers pay more for healthcare.

The corporation’s 2018 gross profit was $91.3 billion, each dollar stolen through the exploitation of its labor force. The corporation controls 34 percent of US wireless subscriptions. The domination of the US mobile phone market by only a handful of companies means that Americans pay the highest prices anywhere in the world for mobile data, according to a study published last year.

AT&T exists to funnel billions into the pockets of its aristocratic shareholders, with dividends per share increasing from under $0.50 per share in 1994 to nearly $2.00 per share today. The corporation spent $693 million on share buybacks in 2017 alone. Its CEO, Randall Stephenson, made $29 million in 2018.

Like the robber barons of the gilded age, AT&T dominates the government, owns the politicians and writes the rules governing its own “regulation.”

According to Opensecrets.org, the corporation contributed $11.8 million to candidates in the 2016 election campaign, including $1.5 million to pay for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and $4.2 million for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

All part of the cost of doing business. Earlier this year, a federal appeals court ruled that AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner did not violate anti-trust law. Corporate tax cuts implemented by Donald Trump in 2017 netted the corporation $3 billion in annual tax savings, in perpetuity. Since the tax cuts went into effect, AT&T has laid off nearly 25,000 workers.

https://archive.is/6eStn

Daughter of an Israeli Mossad Spymaster – The Strange Case of Ghislaine Maxwell – by George Galloway – 22 Aug 2019

maxwell 2

As Jeffrey Epstein’s accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell appears to have fallen off the face of the Earth, it’s little remembered in the media how I fought a long war against her father Robert and the part I played in his downfall.

maxwell 4

It would be scarcely worth recalling at this distance if it did not shed light, or rather a cloud of suspicion, over Maxwell’s favourite child Ghislaine, now at the centre of a dark and fascinating story as bizarre as any which enveloped her late father.

maxwell 5

 

I first met Robert Maxwell when he was an enormously powerful and fiercely intimidating media mogul in the early 1980s. It was in the green room of the BBC’s then flagship program Question Time, hosted by Robin Day – then the doyen of BBC grandees.

“Ah, Mr Galway (sic),” boomed Mr Maxwell, “the PLO man.” At which point he punched me so hard in the solar plexus I doubled over, tears in my eyes. As was the wont of the British establishment at the time, my fellow participants and ‘Sir’ Robin himself averted their eyes and pretended not to see.

At the time and for nearly a decade, I was closely associated with the then-British satirical magazine Private Eye, writing regularly and providing stories and leads for others, regularly attending the legendary Private Eye lunches at the Soho waterie The Coach and Horses, presided over by the founder and editor of the magazine, Richard Ingrams.

About a year after Maxwell striking his first blow, I submitted a story to Private Eye which, embellished by others, was published and upon which he sued and fought an epic court battle with us. He won.

Although the editor Richard Ingrams spent a night in the cells for refusing to name me as the source, it was soon obvious to Maxwell that it was me and we began a war of attrition which lasted until his death.

In October of 1991, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and celebrity journalist Seymour Hersh caused to be delivered to my home late one Saturday night a file of papers, a synopsis of a book he had written in which he made serious allegations against Maxwell. So fearsome was Maxwell’s power at the time, he had obtained pre-publication injunctions against anyone publishing any word of it, against anyone printing it, against anyone distributing it, against anyone selling it. In Britain, the Hersh book did not exist.

But I – as a member of the British Parliament – enjoyed the ancient right of legal privilege on anything I said in the Parliament or published on the Order Paper. Moreover, so could anyone else reporting fairly anything I said or wrote there. And so I did.

Inter-alia I accused Maxwell of being a thief, of stealing his own employee’s pension funds, of being an agent of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, and of betraying the whereabouts in London of the brave Israeli Jewish whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, causing him to be kidnapped, drugged, and delivered, his jaws wired like Hannibal Lector to ensure his silence, to Israel where he eventually served decades in solitary confinement and even now is not free to talk or travel.

My allegations exploded like a nuclear bomb in the life of Robert Maxwell.

He ordered his journalistic minions (whose pensions he had stolen) to “Piss all over Galloway” and micturate they promptly did.

On the front page of all SIX of his national newspapers, they called me “a jackal” of “scavenging in the dung-heap” a “friend of Arab terrorists” (“Ah, Mr Galway (sic) the PLO man”) and above all of having lied and lied about their proprietor.

Within weeks, the missing pensions were exposed, Maxwell was dead, having fallen, jumped, or been pushed off the back of his yacht – the Lady Ghislaine – off to the Canary islands, and Maxwell was given a full Israeli-state funeral on the Mount of Olives presided over by the Israeli president, prime minister and no less than seven former and serving heads of the Mossad. In the eulogy, tribute was paid to the “extraordinary service” Mr Maxwell had given to Israel. The full story of which exact “services” he had provided were buried with him in Jerusalem.

The fateful yacht was called the Lady Ghislaine because his daughter was his favourite child (other daughters were available) and she was his favourite child for a reason. Of all her siblings, Ghislaine Maxwell was the one who was most like him.

maxwell 3 

Ghislaine Maxwell’s father’s body was lost to the deep and murky waters of international intrigue. Where she will turn up is as yet unknown. What “extraordinary service” she performed and for whom equally remains to be seen.

See Also: Conspiracy Observer George Galloway on Epstein Conspiracy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnJnmJhHRd8

maxwell 6

From “Spook Air” to the “Lolita Express”: The Genesis and Evolution of the Jeffrey Epstein-Bill Clinton Relationship – by Whitney Webb (Mintpress News) 23 Aug 2019

Far from being the work of a single political party, intelligence agency or country, the power structure revealed by the network connected to Epstein is nothing less than a criminal enterprise that is willing to use and abuse children in the pursuit of ever more power, wealth and control.

On August 10th, and for several days after, speculation swirled after it was announced that Jeffrey Epstein had been found dead in his cell. His cause of death has officially been ruled suicide by hanging.

Epstein, the billionaire pedophile and sex trafficker with a myriad of connections to the rich and powerful in the United States and several other countries, had told those close to him that he had feared for his life prior to his sudden “suicide,” the Washington Post reported, while his defense lawyers claimed that he had planned to cooperate with federal authorities.

Epstein's Nose

Following the controversial conclusion by the New York Medical Examiner that Epstein’s death was a suicide — a conclusion contested by Epstein’s attornies as well as by independent forensic pathologists, given the apparent evidence pointing towards strangulation — corporate media coverage of the Epstein case has slowed to a trickle, save for sensationalist stories about his alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell and new salacious details of his past. Gone from corporate media are any hints of the larger scandal, revolving around the admission that Epstein had “belonged to intelligence.”


In this four-part series, “The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail,” MintPress has revealed that Epstein’s activities — a sexual blackmail operation involving minors and connected to intelligence agencies — was one of many such operations that have taken place for decades, developing from the nexus forged between the CIA, organized crime and Israeli intelligence shortly after World War II.

As Part II of this series revealed, these sexual blackmail operations proliferated during the Iran-Contra affair, which involved this same dark alliance between U.S./Israeli intelligence and organized crime. Though this series has thus far largely focused on the ties of Republican officials to those operations and associated crimes, the final installment of this series will focus on Democratic politicians, namely the Clinton family, and their ties to this same network as well as Jeffrey Epstein.

The Clintons’ own involvement in Iran-Contra revolved around the covert activities at Arkansas’ Mena Airport, which involved the CIA front company Southern Air Transport and occurred while Clinton was governor. Just a few years into the Clinton presidential administration, Leslie Wexner and Jeffrey Epstein would play a major role in Southern Air Transport’s relocation to Columbus, Ohio, leading to concerns among top Ohio officials that both men were not only working with the CIA, but that Wexner’s company, The Limited, sought to use the CIA-linked airline for smuggling.

During that same period of time, Epstein had already forged close ties to important Clinton White House officials and prominent Clinton donors like Lynn Forester de Rothschild and made several personal visits to the official presidential residence.

Some of these ties appear related to Epstein’s shady financial activities, particularly involving currency markets and offshore tax havens — activities he began to perfect while working for prominent Iran-Contra figures in the early 1980s, several of whom were tied to the CIA-linked bank Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and had known relationships with Israeli intelligence, namely the Mossad. The nature of Epstein’s work for these individuals and other evidence strongly suggests that Epstein himself had a relationship with BCCI after leaving Bear Stearns and prior to the bank’s collapse in 1991.

Of particular importance are Epstein’s relationship to the Clinton Foundation and the alleged role of Epstein’s Virgin Islands-based hedge fund and the Clinton Foundation in money laundering activity, a relationship still under investigation by MintPress.

It is this tale of intrigue that fully reveals the extent to which this decades-old alliance between organized crime, the CIA, and Israeli intelligence has corrupted and influenced politicians of both political parties, both through the use of sexual blackmail and through other means of coercion.

Far from being the work of a single intelligence agency or a single country, the power structure revealed by this network connected to Epstein is nothing less than a criminal enterprise that transcends nationality and is willing to use and abuse children in the pursuit of ever more power, wealth and control. Existing for decades and willing to use any means necessary to cover its tracks, this criminal racket has become so integrated into the levers of power, in the United States and well beyond, that it is truly too big to fail.

 

Iran Contra, Mena Airport and the Clintons

When one thinks back to the now-famous Iran-Contra scandal, names like Ronald Reagan, Oliver North and Barry Seal comes to mind, but former President Bill Clinton also played an outsized role in the scandal — using his home state of Arkansas, where he was then serving as governor, as a sort of rallying point for the CIA’s U.S.-side of the Central American operation.

In fact, during Clinton’s reign as governor a small town called Mena, nestled in the Ozark Mountains west of Arkansas’ capital Little Rock, would be propelled into the national spotlight as a hub for drug and arms smuggling and the training of CIA-backed far-right militias.

Under the close watch of the CIA, then led by William Casey, the Mena Intermountain Regional Airport was used to stockpile and deliver arms and ammunition to the Nicaraguan Contras. The arms were sometimes exchanged for cocaine from South American cartels, which would then be sent back to Mena and used to fund the covert CIA operation.

Though efforts have been made to dismiss Clinton’s role in the scandal, his direct intervention in the Contras’ attempts to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua suggests Clinton had some sort of personal stake in the efforts and was unlikely aloof to the major smuggling operation taking place in his state while he had been governor. In fact, while governor, Clinton split with many other state governments in sending a contingency of the Arkansas National Guard to Honduras to train the Nicaraguan Contras on how to overthrow their Sandinista government. Clinton would also discuss his first-hand knowledge of the operation with now-Trump administration Attorney General William Barr.

Much of this channeling of both weapons and drugs was carried out by notorious drug smuggler and alleged CIA/DEA operative Barry Seal. According to the book Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair:

A federal investigation aided by the Arkansas State Police established that Barry Seal, a drug dealer working for the Medellin cartel as well as with the C.I.A. and the D.E.A., had his planes retrofitted at Mena for drug drops, trained pilots there and laundered his profits partly through financial institutions in Arkansas. Seal, at this time was in close contact with [Oliver] North, who acknowledged the relationship in his memoir. These were the years in which North was constructing his covert supply lines for the contras.”

Seal was known to use aircraft that belonged to the company Southern Air Transport and he also employed flight crews that worked for that same company. Southern Air Transport, formerly Air America, was once directly owned by the CIA and today is remembered for being a CIA front during Iran-Contra. Less known is the relationship between the CIA-linked airline and Leslie Wexner and his then-close associate Jeffrey Epstein, which will be discussed in detail later in this report.

Seal seemed to always operate with much less than six degrees of separation from Clinton while the latter served as governor. In his 1999 confessional expose, Cross-fire: Witness in the Clinton Investigation, former Arkansas policeman turned personal driver and security guard for Bill Clinton, L.D. Brown, recounts how Clinton encouraged him to seek out a post at the CIA. Clinton allegedly went so far as to edit the essay Brown wrote for this employment application. The essay topic was drug smuggling in Central America. Upon receiving his application, the CIA put Brown in touch with none other than Barry Seal. Seal would later be gunned down in 1986 while serving six-months probation for drug-smuggling charges.

Seal was not the only affiliate of Oliver North running a Contra-connected operation in Arkansas. Terry Reed, who had worked for North since 1983, claimed to have been put in touch with Seal by North and established a base just 10 miles north of Mena — in Nella, Arkansas — where “Nicaraguan Contras and other recruits from Latin American were trained in resupply missions, night landings, precision paradrops and similar maneuvers,“ according to Cockburn and St. Clair. Reed further asserted that drug money was being laundered through Arkansas financial institutions.

After Clinton’s half-brother Roger was busted for cocaine smuggling (Clinton would later pardon him while president) the CIA sought to move Contra operations out of Arkansas, hoping to put a damper on the increasingly public and sloppy Arkansas-based operation. According to Terry Reed in his book Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA, co-written with John Cummings, a hushed meeting was held in a bunker at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Arkansas. During the meeting, William Barr, who represented himself as the emissary of then-CIA Director Bill Casey told Clinton:

The deal we made was to launder our money through your bond business but what we didn’t plan on was you and your n****r here start taking yourselves seriously and purposely shrinking our laundry.”

Bar chastised Clinton for his sloppy handling of the delicate operation and his half-brother’s very public fall from grace. He would later tell Clinton, according to Reed,

Bill, you are Mr. Casey’s fair-haired boy … You and your state have been our greatest asset. Mr. Casey wanted me to pass on to you that unless you fuck up and do something stupid, you’re No. 1 on the short list for a shot at the job that you’ve always wanted. You and guys like you are the fathers of the new government. We are the new covenant.”

Attempts to investigate Clinton’s role in the Mena operations and more broadly in the Iran-Contra affair were allegedly axed by Clinton’s own confidantes, who consistently denied he played a role in the scandal. According to the Wall Street Journal, former IRS investigator William Duncan teamed with Arkansas State Police Investigator Russell Welch in what became a decade-long battle to bring the matter to light. In fact, of the nine separate state and federal probes into the affair, all failed.

Duncan would later say of the investigations, “[They] were interfered with and covered up, and the justice system was subverted,” and a 1992 memo from Duncan to high-ranking members of the attorney general’s staff notes that Duncan was instructed “to remove all files concerning the Mena investigation from the attorney general’s office.” The attorney general, serving under George H. W. Bush, at that time was William Barr, who is currently attorney general under Trump.

 

The Bank of Crooks and Criminals International

Another Clinton connection to the CIA and the Iran-Contra affair runs through the family’s connection to Arkansas financier Jackson Stephens and the CIA-linked Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which critics nicknamed the “Bank of Crooks and Criminals International.” Stephens was among the richest people in Arkansas and was also a major donor and backer of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He also played a key role in the rise of Walmart.

Jackson Stephens and other members of the Stephens family bankrolled Bill Clinton’s rise to political prominence, contributing large sums of money to both Clinton’s gubernatorial and his later presidential campaigns. In addition, Worthen Bank, which was majority-owned by Stephens, provided Clinton’s first presidential campaign a $3.5 million line of credit. In addition, Stephens’ many businesses were frequently represented by the Rose Law Firm, where Hillary Clinton was a partner.

A redacted FBI report from 1998 describes Stephens as having “lengthy and continuing ties to the Clinton administration and associates” and also discusses allegations that Stephens has been involved in the “illegal handling of campaign contributions to the Democratic National Party.”

BCCI had originally been founded by a group of bankers from Pakistan, though Newsweek later reported that CIA officials appeared to have been involved in the bank’s founding and that BCCI founder Agha Hasan Abedi had been encouraged by the CIA to found the bank after “the agency realized that an international bank could provide valuable cover for intelligence operations.” CIA documents that later surfaced during congressional hearings on the bank’s activities and related scandals stated that BCCI was directly involved in “money laundering, narco-financing, gunrunning and holding large sums of money for terrorist groups.”

BCCI cocaine and cash

Though BCCI was known for its CIA links, Catherine Austin Fitts — former Assistant Secretary for Housing–Federal Housing Commissioner at HUD during the George H. W. Bush administration, and investment banker with the firms Hamilton Securities Group and Dillon, Read & Co. — believes that those links went well beyond the CIA. Fitts — who was placed on the board of the BCCI subsidiary First American Bank following BCCI’s collapse — told MintPress that, after reading through troves of documents regarding the bank’s activities prior to its implosion, it was clear to her that there was “no way” its clandestine activities were carried on without the full knowledge of the Federal Reserve, specifically the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the White House.

BCCI also played a key role in the Iran-Contra affair and accounts of the bank were used to send payoffs to individuals linked to the scheme. Adnan Khashoggi, a key figure and intermediary in the scandal, used one BCCI account to move more than $20 million related to illegal arms sales and BCCI created fake documentation, including checks signed by Oliver North, allowing the sale to go forward. The bank later, when its activities subsequently came under congressional scrutiny, claimed it had no records of these transactions.

In addition, BCCI appears to have been involved in the sex trafficking of underage girls, including girls that had not yet reached puberty. According to the report entitled “The BCCI Affair,” by then-U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Hank Brown (R-CO), BCCI officials were alleged to have obtained leverage with powerful individuals, including prominent members of the ruling families of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), by providing them with young virgins.

The report (page 70) specifically states:

According to one U.S. investigator with substantial knowledge of BCCI’s activities, some BCCI officials have acknowledged that some of the females provided some members of the Al-Nahyan family [one of the ruling families in the UAE] were young girls who had not yet reached puberty, and in certain cases, were physically injured by the experience. The official said that former BCCI officials had told him that BCCI also provided males to homosexual VIPs.”

BCCI was largely brought into the United States business community through the efforts of Jackson Stephens and Bert Lance, former budget director for Jimmy Carter, who assisted with BCCI’s acquisition of First American Bank. The law firm involved in this effort was Arkansas’ Rose Law Firm and it involved several of the firm’s lawyers, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Webster Hubbell and C.J. Giroir. Also involved in the effort was Clark Clifford, former Secretary of Defense under Lyndon B. Johnson, and Kamal Adham, former director general of Saudi intelligence.

One of the men added to the BCCI board after the acquisition of First American Bank was Robert Keith Gray, whom Newsweek described as often having “boasted of his close relationship with the CIA’s William Casey; Gray used to say that before taking on a foreign client, he would clear it with Casey.” As was discussed in Part II of this series, Gray was also an expert in homosexual blackmail operations for the CIA and was reported to have collaborated with Roy Cohn in those activities. Some of Gray’s clients at the powerful PR firm he led, Hill & Knowlton, included BCCI clients and Mossad-linked individuals, such as Adnan Khashoggi and Marc Rich.

While the Rose Law Firm was assisting BCCI’s entrance into the American financial system, it also represented the Stephens-owned financial services company, Stephens Inc., as well as the data-processing company Systematics Inc., which Stephens acquired in the late 1960s. According to James Norman in his book The Oil Card: Global Economic Warfare in the 21st Century, Systematics was “a primary vehicle or front company for the National Security Agency in the 1980s and early 1990s to market and implant bugged software in the world’s major money-center banks and clearinghouses as part of the Reagan/Bush ‘follow the money’ effort to break the Soviets.”

The late journalist Michael Ruppert asserted that this “bugged software” was none other than the Promis software, which both U.S. and Israeli intelligence had bugged in order to spy on intelligence and which had been marketed in part by Robert Maxwell, father of Jeffrey Epstein’s madam, Ghislaine Maxwell. Ruppert cited Systematics as “a primary developer of Promis for financial intelligence use.” Promis had originally been leased by Inslaw Inc., a small software company founded by Bill Hamilton, to the Department of Justice — which later stole it from Inslaw, forcing it to declare bankruptcy.

According to a 1995 document sent on behalf of Inslaw’s founders to then-independent Counsel Ken Starr that asked him to review Inslaw’s case, Systematics had “covertly implanted [software] into the computers of its bank customers” that allowed “allied intelligence agencies surreptitiously to track and monitor the flow of money through the banking system” and had done so at “the behest of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and its partner in Israeli intelligence.” Inslaw also stated that the software was used by these same intelligence agencies in the “laundering of money, especially drug profits.”

Systematics also had a subsidiary in Israel that, according to a former Israeli intelligence officer,  was operated by contractors for the Mossad and sold software to banks and telecommunications companies. According to Richardson’s letter, that Israeli subsidiary of Systematics also had a Massachusetts-based front company, which was partially owned by a former U.S. intelligence official.

Two partners in the Rose Law Firm who would later serve in the Clinton administration, Vince Foster and Webster Hubbell, acquired significant financial interests in Systematics through ownership in Alltel, which purchased Systematics in the early 1990s. The Hamiltons also provide considerable evidence that Foster’s distress prior to his death in 1993 appears to have been related to concerns about litigation involving Systematics and the on-going litigation over Promis’ theft.

BCCI itself was known to employ the Promis software after its theft by the DOJ; and one of its subsidiaries, First American Bank, also “filtered PROMIS money” — i.e., laundered the money generated from the sale of the stolen Promis software — according to the late journalist Danny Casolaro.

Casolaro had been investigating an international crime syndicate he termed “the Octopus” at the time of his death in 1991. Casolaro believed that this “Octopus” involved powerful individuals in the private and public sectors as well as the criminal underworld and that they were collectively responsible for some of the biggest scandals of the 1980s, including Iran-Contra, BCCI and the theft of the Promis software.

Casolaro had told friends and family that he was close to concluding his investigation and several people close to him had seen documents involving money transfers involving BCCI and the World Bank to people involved in these scandals, such as Earl Brian and Adnan Khashoggi. Casolaro went to Martinsburg, Virginia to meet with some sources to get the final piece of the puzzle and “bring back the head of the Octopus.” Two days after arriving in Martinsburg, Casolaro was found dead in his hotel room and his briefcase full of his research notes and evidence was missing. His death was ruled a suicide.

Casolaro crime scene

Many, including Casolaro’s family, do not believe that Casolaro committed suicide. A week before his death, Casolaro told his brother he had been receiving death threats and the manner in which he died, deep slashes in his arms, was not consistent with Casolaro’s well-known squeamishness around even minor amounts of blood. Speculation only grew following the FBI investigation, given that the FBI lied to Congress, pressured its own agents not to question whether it was a suicide and lost 90 percent of its files related to Casolaro’s death — among other glaring inconsistencies.

In a 1994 letter provided to MintPress by Inslaw Inc., Inslaw lawyer Charles Work told then-Assistant Attorney General John Dwyer that one of Inslaw’s confidential sources in government had stated that Casolaro had been injected with a substance that deadened his nerves from the neck down, explaining the apparent lack of struggle and that the substance used had come from the U.S. Army inventory. The person who had arranged Casolaro’s final meeting before his death was a U.S. military intelligence officer named Joseph Cuellar.

The same year that Casolaro died, there were several other suspicious deaths involving people directly connected to the Promis scandal or involved in Casolaro’s investigation of “the Octopus” —  including Alan Standorf, one of Casolaro’s sources; Robert Maxwell, father of Ghislaine Maxwell, Mossad operative, and salesman of the bugged Promis software; and John Tower — the former Texas senator who assisted Maxwell in selling the bugged Promis software to the Los Alamos laboratories.

 

Jeffrey Epstein and “The Dirtiest Bank of All”

While the role Arkansas played in Iran-Contra is one aspect of the scandal that is often overlooked, so to is the key role played by Israeli intelligence-linked arms dealers and smugglers who would later be connected to powerful individuals in the Mega Group and Jeffrey Epstein, such as Marc Rich and Adnan Khashoggi.

One of the key players in the Iran-Contra affair was Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, uncle of the slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. One lesser known fact about Adnan Khashoggi is that, at the time of his Iran-Contra dealings, he was working for the Israeli Mossad, according to former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky.

Ostrovsky, in his #1 New York Times bestseller “By Way of Deception,” notes that Khashoggi had been recruited by the Mossad years before and that his private jet had been fitted in Israel. In relation to Iran-Contra, Ostrovsky claims that it was a $5 million bridge loan that Khashoggi provided that helped to overcome the lack of trust between Israel and Iran during the initial arms deals in the early 1980s, and thus his participation was critical to the success of the scheme.

According to journalist Vicky Ward, Adnan Khashoggi was a client of Jeffrey Epstein’s in the early 1980s, not long after Epstein’s departure from Bear Stearns in 1981. The reason Epstein left the bank remains murky. Though some former Bear Stearns employees claim he was fired, others — including Epstein himself — claimed that he resigned of his own volition.

Ward suggests that Epstein may have left the bank owing to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into insider trading in a case that involved a tender offer placed by the Seagrams corporation for St. Joe Minerals Corp. Seagrams owner Edgar Bronfman, son of Meyer Lansky associate Samuel Bronfman and member of the Mega Group, had tipped off several investors and bankers of the coming tender offer. Epstein resigned from Bear Stearns the day after the SEC opened the case and later claimed he had left the company as a result of a relatively minor “Reg D” violation and rumors that he had an “illicit affair with a secretary.”

Yet, as Ward noted:

The SEC never brought any charges against anyone at Bear Stearns for insider trading in St. Joe, but its questioning seems to indicate that it was skeptical of Epstein’s answers. Some sources have wondered why, if he was such a big producer at Bear Stearns, he would have given it up over a mere $2,500 fine.”

Regardless of the exact reason for Epstein’s sudden departure, it was immediately after he left the bank that “the details [of Epstein’s work history] recede into shadow. A few of the handful of current friends who have known him since the early 1980s recall that he used to tell them he was a “bounty hunter,” recovering lost or stolen money for the government or for very rich people. He has a license to carry a firearm.”

Writing in Salon, a former friend of Epstein’s, Jesse Kornbluth, also stated that Epstein had claimed to be a “bounty hunter” for the rich and powerful:

When we met in 1986, Epstein’s double identity intrigued me — he said he didn’t just manage money for clients with mega-fortunes, he was also a high-level bounty hunter. Sometimes, he told me, he worked for governments to recover money looted by African dictators. Other times those dictators hired him to help them hide their stolen money.” (emphasis added)

One of Epstein’s clients after leaving Bear Stearns, per Ward’s sources, was the CIA/Mossad-linked Khashoggi at the very time that Khashoggi was involved in Iran-Contra, an operation involving both U.S. and Israeli intelligence. British journalist Nigel Rosser reported in January 2001 in the Evening Standard that Epstein had claimed that he was also working for the CIA during this same time period.

Since Epstein’s arrest, records of Rosser’s article have been scrubbed from British newspaper archives, including the Evening Standard’s own. However, MintPress independently confirmed with Bob Fitrakis, whom Rosser had interviewed for the article in question, that the article did allege that Epstein used to claim he worked for the CIA. In addition, other reports from the time period cited excerpts of Rosser’s article, including the reference to Epstein’s past claims of involvement with the CIA.

Specifically, Rosser’s article had included the following passage:

He [Epstein] has a license to carry a concealed weapon, once claimed to have worked for the CIA, although he now denies it – and owns properties all over America. Once he arrived at the London home of a British arms dealer bringing a gift – a New York police-issue pump-action riot gun. ‘God knows how he got it into the country,’ a friend said.”

Though Epstein denied past connections to the CIA at the time Rosser’s article was published, it is worth mentioning that Robert Maxwell — father of Ghislaine Maxwell and long-time Mossad operative — also vehemently denied his now well-documented links to Israeli intelligence until his death. Furthermore, as will be shown later in this article, Epstein and his only known billionaire “client,” Leslie Wexner, would later forge a business relationship with the CIA front company Southern Air Transport and play a major role in the airline’s relocation to Columbus, Ohio in the mid-1990s. During that period, two prominent Ohio officials believed that both Epstein and Wexner were working with the CIA, according to Ohio-based journalist Bob Fitrakis.

Past claims and evidence of Epstein’s involvement with the CIA, coupled with his time as a “shadowy” financial fixer for double-asset Khashoggi, strongly suggest that, whatever Epstein was doing for Khashoggi during this time, it likely involved BCCI. According to “The BCCI Affair” report, Khashoggi “acted as the middleman for five Iranian arms deals for the United States, financing a number of them through BCCI” and “served as the ‘banker’ for arms shipments as the undercover scheme developed.” The report continued:

Khashoggi and [another Iran-Contra arms dealer Manucher] Ghorbanifer performed a central role for the U.S. government in connection with the Iran-Contra affair in operations that involved the direct participation of CIA personnel [and both Khashoggi and Ghorbanifer] banked at BCCI’s offices in Monte Carlo and, for both, BCCI’s services were essential as a means of providing short-term credit for sales from the U.S. through Israel to Iran.”

Adnan Khashoggi Jeffrey Epstein

This connection is even more likely given the fact that Bear Stearns — Epstein’s previous employer right up until he became a financial fixer for Khashoggi and other powerful people — also worked directly with BCCI during this period. Indeed, Bear Stearns served as a broker to BCCI, a fact that remained hidden until a lengthy court battle in the U.K. concluded in 2011 and forced the government’s “Sandstorm Report” about BCCI’s activities to unredact the names of Bear Stearns and other institutions, individuals and countries that had done business with the CIA-linked bank.

Furthermore, there is the additional fact that BCCI trafficked underage girls for sex as a means of obtaining favors from and gaining leverage over powerful individuals, something in which Epstein would later become deeply involved. As was shown in Part II of this series, several individuals who were running either sexual blackmail operations involving minors or child trafficking operations were connected to CIA front companies like BCCI, other organizations connected to the Iran-Contra scandal, and several individuals close to the Reagan White House.

The CIA director at the time, Bill Casey, was a close friend of Roy Cohn, who also ran the sexual blackmail operation involving underage boys out of Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel, described in Part I of this series. According to Cohn’s long-time secretary Christine Seymour, Casey was one of Cohn’s most frequent callers.

Another fact that further suggests that Epstein had connections to BCCI is that Epstein was known to have been close to other arms dealers of the period and BCCI was frequently used specifically for covert arms deals. After the bank’s collapse in 1991, an article in Time magazine entitled “BCCI: The Dirtiest Bank of All” noted the following:

…[T]he CIA may have used B.C.C.I. as more than an undercover banker: U.S. agents collaborated with the black network in several operations, according to a B.C.C.I. black-network “officer” who is now a secret U.S. government witness. Sources have told investigators that B.C.C.I. worked closely with Israel’s spy agencies and other Western intelligence groups as well, especially in arms deals.” (emphasis added)

One of the arms dealers that Epstein apparently knew quite well was the British arms dealer Sir Douglas Leese. Leese was involved in brokering the first of a series of controversial British arms deals that involved Khashoggi, known as the Al Yamamah Deal and allegedly involving bribery of members of the Saudi royal family and top Saudi officials. In addition to Khashoggi, several of those officials and royal family members had deep ties to BCCI.

Later iterations of that arms deal were allegedly brokered with the involvement of Prince Charles of the British royal family, and corruption investigations into Al Yamamah were later shut down by the efforts of Tony Blair as well as Prince Andrew. Leese is said to have spoken of Epstein’s “genius” and lack of morals when he introduced him to Steve Hoffenberg of Tower Financial, and soon after that introduction Hoffenberg hired Epstein.

Two years after BCCI’s fraud-driven collapse, Tower Financial imploded in 1993 in what is still considered to be one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history. Hoffenberg later asserted in court that Epstein had been intimately involved in Tower’s shady financial practices and had called Epstein the “architect of the scam.” However, by the time Tower Financial had collapsed, Epstein was no longer working for the company. Despite Tower’s testimony and abundant evidence regarding Epstein’s role in the scheme, Epstein’s name was mysteriously dropped from the case.

Given that Epstein allegedly received his “sweetheart deal” in 2008 as a result of having “belonged to intelligence,” Epstein’s activities in the 1980s and early 1990s suggest that his ability to avoid charges in relation to the Tower Financial Ponzi scheme may have been for similar reasons.

Though Hoffenberg claims that he met Epstein through Leese, Epstein himself claimed that he had met the convicted fraudster through John Mitchell, former attorney general under Richard Nixon.

As was noted in Part II of this series, Mitchell was a “friend” of disgraced Washington lobbyist Craig Spence, according to Spence before his fall from grace. Spence, for much of the 1980s, ran a sexual blackmail operation in D.C. involving underage boys and had taken some of those “call boys” on midnight tours of the White House that he said had been arranged by then-National Security Adviser Donald Gregg. Spence, after his trafficking and exploitation of minors was exposed, died under mysterious circumstances. His death was quickly labeled a suicide, not unlike Jeffrey Epstein’s.

 

With Epstein and Wexner’s Help, “Spook Air” Finds a New Home

While the state of Arkansas became a hub for CIA activity during the Reagan years and the Iran-Contra scandal, another state appeared to take its place in the 1990s — Ohio. Just as Arkansas oligarch Jackson Stephens helped attract the CIA to his home state during Iran-Contra, it was also an Ohio oligarch and his close associate that helped attract the CIA to the Buckeye State. Those men were Leslie Wexner and Jeffrey Epstein, respectively.

In Part III of this series, MintPress detailed Wexner’s alleged ties to organized crime and his links to the still unsolved homicide of Columbus, Ohio lawyer Arthur Shapiro. Shapiro, who was representing Wexner’s company “The Limited” at the time of his death, was set to testify before a grand jury about tax evasion and his involvement with “questionable tax shelters.” Columbus police described the Shapiro murder as “a Mafia ‘hit’” and a suppressed police report implicated Wexner and his business associates as being involved in or benefiting from Shapiro’s death, and as having links to prominent New York-based crime syndicates.

However, Wexner and The Limited also appear to have had a relationship with the CIA. In 1995, Southern Air Transport (SAT) — a well-known front company for the CIA — relocated from Miami, Florida to Columbus, Ohio. First founded in the late 1940s, SAT from 1960 until 1973 was directly owned by the CIA, which sought to use the company as a cover for covert operations. After 1973, the company was placed in private hands, although all of its subsequent owners would have CIA ties, including James Bastian, a former lawyer for the CIA, who owned SAT at the time of its relocation to Ohio.

SAT was intimately involved in the Iran-Contra affair, having been used to funnel weapons and drugs to and from the Nicaraguan Contras under the guise of delivering “humanitarian aid,” while also sending American weapons to Israel that were then sold to Iran in violation of the U.S. arms embargo. In 1986 alone, SAT transported from Texas to Israel 90 tons of TOW anti-tank missiles, which were then sold to Iran by Israel and Mossad-linked intermediaries like Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

Even though the airline’s CIA links were well known, Leslie Wexner’s company, The Limited, sought to coax SAT to relocate its headquarters from Miami, Florida to Columbus, Ohio, a move that was realized in 1995. When Edmund James, president of James and Donohew Development Services, told the Columbus Dispatch in March 1995 that SAT was relocating to Columbus’ Rickenbacker airfield, he stated that “Southern Air’s new presence at Rickenbacker begins in April with two regularly scheduled 747 cargo flights a week from Hong Kong,” citing SAT President William Langton. “By fall, that could increase to four a week. Negotiations are underway for flights out of Rickenbacker to the Far East…Much of the Hong Kong-to-Rickenbacker cargo will be for The Limited,” Wexner’s clothing company. “This is a big story for central Ohio. It’s huge, actually,” James said at the time.

The day following the press conference, Brian Clancy, working as a cargo analyst with MergeGlobal Inc., told the Journal of Commerce that the reason for SAT’s relocation to Ohio was largely the result of the lucrative Hong Kong-to-Columbus route that SAT would run for Wexner’s company. Clancy specifically stated that the fact that “[The] Limited Inc., the nation’s largest retailer, is based in Columbus … undoubtedly contributed in large part to Southern Air’s decision.”

According to documents obtained by journalist Bob Fitrakis from the Rickenbacker Port Authority, Ohio’s government also tried to sweeten the deal to bring SAT to Columbus in order to please powerful Ohio businessmen like Wexner. Orchestrated by Governor George Voinovich’s then-Chief of Staff Paul Mifsud, the Rickenbacker Port Authority and the Ohio Department of Development created a package of several financial incentives, funded by Ohio taxpayers, to lure the airline to relocate to Ohio. The Journal of Commerce described the “generous package of incentives from the state of Ohio” as “including a 75 percent credit against its corporate tax liability for the next 10 years, a $5 million low-interest loan, and a $400,000 job-training grant.”In 1996, then-SAT spokesman David Sweet had told Fitrakis that the CIA-linked airline had only moved to Columbus because “the deal [put together by the development department] was too good to turn down.”

Though SAT had promised Ohio’s government that it would create 300 jobs in three years, it quickly laid off numerous workers and failed to construct the maintenance facility it had promised, even though it had already accepted $3.5 million in taxpayer funds for that and other projects. As the company’s financial problems mounted, Ohio’s government declined to recoup the millions in dollars it loaned the company, even after it was alleged that $32 million in the bank account of Mary Bastian, the wife of SAT’s owner and former CIA lawyer James Bastian, were actually company funds. On October 1, 1998, SAT filed for bankruptcy. It was the very same day that the CIA’s Inspector General had published a comprehensive report on the airline’s illicit involvement in drug trafficking.

Furthermore, Fitrakis noted that in addition to Wexner the other main figures who were key in securing SAT’s relocation to Ohio were Alan D. Fiers Jr., a former chief of the CIA Central American Task Force, and retired Air Force Major General Richard Secord, head of air logistics for SAT’s covert action in Laos between 1966 and 1968, while the company was still known as Air America. Secord was also the air logistics coordinator in the illegal Contra resupply network for Oliver North during Iran-Contra. Fiers was one of the key individuals involved in Iran-Contra who was later pardoned by George H.W. Bush with the assistance of then-Attorney General Bill Barr. Barr — currently serving as attorney general in the Trump administration, and top of the chain of DOJ command in the investigation of Epstein’s death in prison — has refused to recuse himself from the investigation into Epstein’s network and his recent death.

Despite the involvement of these CIA-linked men, as well as the organized crime-linked Leslie Wexner, the then-president of SAT told the Columbus Dispatch that the airline was “no longer connected to the CIA.”

Notably, It was during this same time that Epstein exerted substantial control over Wexner’s finances; and, according to Fitrakis and his extensive reporting on Wexner from this period, it was Epstein who orchestrated logistics for Wexner’s business operations, including The Limited. As was revealed in the Arthur Shapiro murder file and in ties between SAT and The Limited, much of The Limited’s logistics involved figures and companies connected to organized crime and U.S. intelligence. It is also important to note that SAT was well-known for being a CIA front company prior to the efforts of Wexner et al. to bring the airline to Columbus, and that, a few years prior, Epstein himself had previously worked for intelligence-linked figures also involved in Iran-Contra, such as Adnan Khashoggi.

In addition, during this time period, Epstein had already begun to live in the now infamous New York penthouse that had first been purchased by Wexner in 1989. Wexner had apparently installed CCTV and recording equipment in an odd bathroom in the home after his purchase, and never lived in the home, as was noted in Part III of this series.

In an exclusive interview, Bob Fitrakis told MintPress that Epstein and Wexner’s involvement with SAT’s relocation to Ohio had caused suspicion among some prominent state and local officials that the two were working with U.S. intelligence. Fitrakis specifically stated that then-Ohio Inspector General David Strutz and then-Sheriff of Franklin County Earl Smith had personally told him that they believed that both Epstein and Wexner had ties to the CIA. These claims further corroborate what was first reported by Nigel Rosser in the Evening Standard that Epstein had claimed to have worked for the CIA in the past.

Fitrakis also told MintPress that Strutz had referred to SAT’s route between Hong Kong and Columbus on behalf of Wexner’s company The Limited as “the Meyer Lansky run,” as he believed that Wexner’s association with SAT was related to his ties to elements of organized crime that were connected to the Lansky-created National Crime Syndicate. In addition, Catherine Austin Fitts — the former investment banker and government official, who has extensively investigated the intersection of organized crime, black markets, Wall Street and the government in the U.S. economy — was told by an ex-CIA employee that Wexner was one of five key managers of organized crime cash flows in the United States.

As this series has noted in previous reports, Meyer Lansky was a pioneer of sexual blackmail operations and was deeply connected to both U.S. intelligence and Israel’s Mossad. Furthermore, many members of the so-called Mega Group, which Wexner co-founded, had direct ties to the Lansky crime syndicate.

 

Marc Rich’s Pardon and Israel’s “Leverage” over Clinton

Another shadowy figure with connections to the Mega Group, Mossad, U.S. intelligence and organized crime is the “fugitive financier” Marc Rich, whose pardon during the last days of the Clinton White House is both well-known and still mired in controversy years after the fact.

Marc Rich was a commodities trader and hedge fund manager best known for founding the commodity trading and mining giant Glencore and for doing business with numerous dictatorships, often in violation of sanctions. He worked particularly closely with Israel and, according to Haaretz:

In the years after the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the ensuing global Arab oil embargo, a period when nobody wanted to sell oil to Israel, for almost 20 years Rich was the main source of the country’s oil and energy needs.”

It was that trading on Israel’s behalf that would ultimately lead to Rich being charged in 1983 for violating the U.S. oil embargo on Iran by selling Iranian oil to Israel. Rich was also charged with tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering and several other crimes.

Haaretz also noted that Rich’s businesses were “a source of funding for secret financial arrangements” and that “his worldwide offices, according to several reliable sources, frequently served Mossad agents, with his consent.” Rich had more direct ties to the Mossad as well. For instance, his foundation — the Rich Foundation — was run by the former Mossad agent Avner Azulay. Rich was also friendly with prominent Israel politicians, including former Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Ehud Barak, and was a frequent provider of “services” for Israeli intelligence, services he freely volunteered.

Marc Rich Jeffrey Epstein

According to Rich’s biographer, Daniel Ammann, Rich also fed information to U.S. intelligence but declined to give specifics. “He did not want to tell with whom he cooperated within the U.S. authorities or which branch of the U.S. government he supplied with intelligence,” Ammann said in an interview with the Daily Beast.

One clue as to the nature of Rich’s relationship to U.S. intelligence is his apparent ties to BCCI. “The BCCI Affair” report mentions Rich as a person to investigate in relation to the bank and states:

BCCI lending to Rich in the 1980s amounted to tens of millions of dollars. Moreover, Rich’s commodities firms were used by BCCI in connection with BCCI’s involv[ement] in U.S. guarantee programs through the Department of Agriculture. The nature and extent of Rich’s relationship with BCCI requires further investigation.”

Rich was also deeply tied to the Mega Group, as he was one of the main donors to the Birthright Israel charity along with Mega Group co-founder Charles Bronfman and Mega Group member Michael Steinhardt. Steinhardt was particularly close to Rich, first meeting the commodities trader in the 1970s and then managing $3 million for Rich, Rich’s then-wife Denise, and Rich’s father-in-law from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s through his hedge fund. In the late 1990s, Steinhardt would enlist other Mega Group members, such as Edgar Bronfman, in the effort to settle the criminal charges against Rich, which eventually came to pass with Clinton’s controversial pardon in 2001. Steinhardt claimed to have come up with the idea of a presidential pardon for Rich in late 2000.

Rich’s pardon was controversial for several reasons, and many mainstream outlets asserted that it “reeked of payoff.” As the New York Post noted in 2016, in the run-up to the presidential pardon the financier’s ex-wife Denise had donated $450,000 to the fledgling Clinton Library and “over $1 million to Democratic campaigns in the Clinton era.” In addition, Rich had hired high-powered lawyers with links to powerful individuals in both the Democratic and Republican parties as well as the Clinton White House, including Jack Quinn, who has previously served as general counsel to the Clinton administration and as former chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore.

However, per Clinton’s own words and other supporting evidence, the main reason behind the Rich pardon was the heavy lobbying from Israeli intelligence, Israeli politicians and members of the Mega Group like Steinhardt, with the donations from Denise Rich and Quinn’s access to the president likely sweetening the deal.

Among the most ardent lobbyists for Rich’s pardon were then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, then-Mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert, then-former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and former Director of the Mossad Shabtai Shavit. According to Haaretz, Barak was so adamant that Clinton pardon Marc Rich that he was heard shouting at the president on at least one occasion. Former adviser to Barak, Eldad Yaniv, claimed that Barak had shouted that the pardon was “important … Not only from the financial aspect, but also because he helped the Mossad in more than one instance.”

The Israel lobbying effort had considerable help from Mega Group member Michael Steinhardt as well as Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which was at the time heavily funded by Mega Group members, including Ronald Lauder and Edgar Bronfman.

There has been speculation for years that Clinton’s decision to pardon Rich may have been the result of “leverage” or blackmail that Israel had acquired on the then-president’s activities. As was noted in Part III of this report, the Mossad-linked “Mega” spy scandal broke in 1997, whereby Israeli intelligence had been targeting Clinton’s effort to broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine and had sought to go to “Mega,” likely a reference to the Mega Group, to obtain a sensitive document.

In addition, Israel is known to have acquired phone conversations between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky before their affair was made public. Author Daniel Halper — relying on on-the-record interviews with former officials and hundreds of pages of documents compiled in the event that Lewinsky took legal action against Clinton — determined that Benjamin Netanyahu told Clinton that he had obtained recordings of the sexually-tinged phone conversations during the Wye Plantation talks between Israel and Palestine in 1998. Netanyahu attempted to use this information to get Clinton to pardon convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. Clinton considered pardoning Pollard but decided against it after CIA Director George Tenet threatened to resign if the pardon was given.

Investigative journalist and author Gordon Thomas had made similar claims years prior and asserted that the Mossad had obtained some 30 hours of phone-sex conversations between Lewinsky and Clinton and used them as leverage. In addition, a report in Insight magazine in May 2000 claimed that Israeli intelligence had “penetrated four White House telephone lines and was able to relay real-time conversations on those lines from a remote site outside the White House directly to Israel for listening and recording.”

Those phone taps apparently went well beyond the White House, as revealed by a December 2001 investigative report by Carl Cameron for FOX News. According to Cameron’s report:

[Israeli telecommunications company Amdocs] helped Bell Atlantic install new telephone lines in the White House in 1997…[and] a senior-level employee of Amdocs had a separate T1 data phone line installed from his base outside of St. Louis that was connected directly to Israel…

[I]nvestigators are looking into whether the owner of the T1 line had a ‘real time’ capacity to intercept phone calls from both the White House and other government offices around Washington, and sustained the line for some time, sources said. Sources familiar with the investigation say FBI agents on the case sought an arrest warrant for the St. Louis employee but [Clinton] Justice Department officials quashed it.“

According to journalist Chris Ketcham:

[Both Amdocs and Verint Inc. (formerly Comverse Infosys)] are based in Israel – having arisen to prominence from that country’s cornering of the information technology market – and are heavily funded by the Israeli government, with connections to the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence…

The companies’ operations, sources suggest, have been infiltrated by freelance spies exploiting encrypted trapdoors in Verint/Amdocs technology and gathering data on Americans for transfer to Israeli intelligence and other willing customers (particularly organized crime).”

Given the extent of phone tapping of the U.S. government by Israeli intelligence-linked companies and Netanyahu’s previous use of intercepted phone calls to pressure Clinton to pardon Jonathan Pollard, it is entirely reasonable to speculate that some other trove of intercepted communications could have been used to push Clinton to pardon Rich in the final hours of his presidency.

Also notable is the fact that several figures who heavily lobbied Clinton over the Rich pardon had ties to Epstein, who also had ties to Israeli intelligence and Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies, as discussed in Part III of this series. For example, Ehud Barak, a close friend and business associate of Epstein, and Shimon Peres, who introduced Barak to Epstein, were the major players in convincing Clinton to pardon Marc Rich.

Furthermore, as will be shown in a subsequent section of this report, Jeffrey Epstein had developed ties with the Clinton administration beginning in 1993 and those ties expanded, particularly in 1996, when Epstein’s intelligence-linked sexual blackmail operation was underway. Clinton would later fly on Epstein’s infamous private jet, nicknamed the “Lolita Express,” and Epstein would later donate to the Clinton Foundation and claim to have played a key role in the creation of the Clinton Global Initiative.

In addition to the role of figures close to Epstein in securing Rich’s pardon, Epstein himself appeared to share some level of connection with Rich’s former business partners. For instance, Felix Posen — who ran Rich’s London operations for years and whom Forbes described as “the architect of Rich’s immensely profitable but suddenly very controversial business with the Soviet Union” — appears in Epstein’s book of contacts. In addition, Epstein’s offshore structured investment vehicle (SIV), Liquid Funding, has the same attorney and director as several Glencore entities: Alex Erskine of the law firm Appleby.

The significance of that connection, however, is unclear, given that Erskine was connected to a total of 274 offshore entities at the time of the “Paradise Papers” leak in 2014. Catherine Austin Fitts told MintPress that it could suggest that Epstein’s Liquid Funding — 40 percent of which had been owned by Bear Stearns, and which may have received a “secret” bail-out from the Federal Reserve — is part of the same shadow economy “syndicate” as Glencore.

This possibility merits further investigation, given that Glencore is partially owned by British financier Nathaniel Rothschild, whose father, Jacob Rothschild, is on the board of advisers of Genie Energy, which includes Michael Steinhardt as well as several alleged associates of Epstein, such as Bill Richardson and Larry Summers. In addition, Nathaniel Rothschild’s cousin by marriage, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, is a long-time associate of Jeffrey Epstein with considerable ties to the New York City “Roy Cohn machine.” Marc Rich had long-standing ties to the Rothschild family, going back to the early 1970s when he began commodity trading at Philipp Brothers.

 

Lynn Forester de Rothschild’s surprising interest in Epstein

After Epstein’s arrests first in 2007 and then again last month, numerous media reports emerged detailing the links between Epstein and Clinton, with most asserting that they had met not long after Clinton left office in 2001 and, as recently mentioned, issued the controversial pardon of Marc Rich.

Those reports claimed that the Epstein-Clinton relationship had been facilitated by Epstein’s long-time girlfriend and alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell. However, documents obtained from the Clinton presidential library have revealed that the ties between Epstein and Clinton date back years earlier and were facilitated by powerful individuals who have largely evaded scrutiny in connection with the Epstein case.

One major player who has been largely overlooked in bringing Epstein and the Clintons together is Lynn Forester de Rothschild. Notably, Forester de Rothschild has long been connected to neoconservative Reagan era officials — the Lewis Rosenstiel/Roy Cohn network described in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, as well as the Mega Group, which was detailed in Part 3 of this series.

Lynn Forester de Rothschild became involved in the world of Democratic Party politics in the late 1970s when she worked on the 1976 campaign of hawkish Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) alongside now-notorious neoconservatives like Elliott Abrams, who would go on to play an important role in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan era and later serve in the State Department under Trump. She was also introduced to her second husband, Evelyn de Rothschild, by Henry Kissinger at a Bilderberg conference. Several of the individuals connected to the Mega Group and the Mossad-linked media mogul Robert Maxwell — including Mark Palmer, Max Fisher and John Lehman — were one-time aides or advisers to Henry Kissinger.

Before marrying into the Rothschild family in 2000, Lynn had previously been married to Andrew Stein, a major figure in New York Democratic politics, with whom she had two sons. Andrew’s brother, James Finkelstein, married Cathy Frank, the granddaughter of Lewis Rosenstiel, the mob-linked businessman who ran a sexual blackmail operation exploiting underage boys, as was discussed in Part 1 of this series. Rosenstiel’s protege Roy Cohn was the lawyer for Cathy Frank and James Finkelstein and it was at their behest that Cohn attempted to trick a nearly comatose Rosenstiel to into naming Cohn, Frank and Finkelstein the executors and trustees of his estate, valued at $75 million (more than $334 million in today’s dollars).

According to the New Yorker, Lynn Forester de Rothschild requested “financial help” from none other than Jeffrey Epstein in 1993 during her divorce from Andrew Stein.

As far as Forester de Rothschild’s ties to the Mega Group go, she is currently on the board of directors of Estee Lauder companies, which was founded and is still owned by the family of Ronald Lauder — a member of the Mega Group, a former Reagan official, a family friend of Roy Cohn, and the alleged source of Jeffrey Epstein’s now-infamous Austrian passport. In addition, Forester de Rothschild also partnered with Matthew Bronfman — son of Mega Group member Edgar Bronfman and grandson of Samuel Bronfman, who had close ties to Meyer Lansky — in creating the investment advisory firm Bronfman E.L. Rothschild LP.

It is unclear when Lynn Forester de Rothschild first met Jeffrey Epstein, but she was one of his leading advocates and had the ear of then-President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, speaking to Clinton specifically about Epstein during her “fifteen seconds of access” with the president and also introducing Epstein to lawyer Alan Dershowitz in 1996.

Clinton Rothschild

Forester de Rothschild is a long-time associate of the Clintons and has been a major donor to both Bill and Hillary Clinton since 1992. Their ties were so close that Forester de Rothschild spent the first night of her honeymoon at the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House while Clinton was president. Furthermore, a leaked email between Forester de Rothschild and Hillary Clinton saw Clinton request “penance” from Forester de Rothschild for asking Tony Blair to accompany Clinton on official business while she was secretary of state, preventing Blair from making a planned social visit to Forester de Rothschild’s home in Aspen, Colorado. Humbly requesting forgiveness is not something Hillary Clinton is known for, given that her former bodyguard once said she could “make Richard Nixon look like Mahatma Gandhi.”

In 1995, Forester de Rothschild, then a member of Clinton’s National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council, wrote the following to then-President Clinton:

Dear Mr. President: It was a pleasure to see you recently at Senator Kennedy’s house. There was too much to discuss and too little time. Using my fifteen seconds of access to discuss Jeffrey Epstein and currency stabilization, I neglected to talk to you about a topic near and dear to my heart. Namely, affirmative action and the future.”

Forester de Rothschild then states that she had been asked to prepare a memo on behalf of George Stephanopoulos, former Clinton communications director and currently a broadcast journalist with ABC News. Stephanopoulos attended a dinner party hosted by Epstein at his now infamous Manhattan townhouse in 2010 after Epstein’s release from prison for soliciting sex from a minor.

While it is unknown what Forester de Rothschild discussed with Clinton regarding Epstein and currency stabilization, a potential lead may lie in the links of both Forester de Rothschild and Epstein to Deutsche Bank. Journalist Vicky Ward reported in 2003 that Epstein boasted of “skill at playing the currency markets ‘with very large sums of money’” and he appears to have done much of this through his long-standing relationship with Deutsche Bank.

The New York Times reported last month:

[Epstein] appears to have been doing business and trading currencies through Deutsche Bank until just a few months ago, according to two people familiar with his business activities. But as the possibility of federal charges loomed, the bank ended its client relationship with Mr. Epstein. It is not clear what the value of those accounts was at the time they were closed.”

In the case of Forester de Rothschild, she served as an advisor to the Deutsche Bank Microfinance Consortium for several years and is currently a board member of the Alfred Herrhausen Society of International Dialogue of Deutsche Bank.

The same year that Forester de Rothschild made the above-noted comments to Bill Clinton about Jeffrey Epstein, Epstein attended another Clinton fundraiser, hosted by Ron Perelman at his personal home, that was very exclusive, as the guest list included only 14 people.

 

The evolution of the Epstein-Clinton relationship

Even before Forester de Rothschild’s 1995 meeting with Clinton, Epstein was already an established Clinton donor. Records obtained by the Daily Beast revealed that Epstein had donated $10,000 to the White House Historical Association and attended a Clinton donor reception alongside Ghislaine Maxwell as early as 1993.

The Daily Beast suggests that Bill Clinton’s long-time friend from his college days, A. Paul Prosperi, was the facilitator of that early relationship, as Prosperi had a decades-long relationship with Epstein and even visited Epstein at least 20 times while he was in jail in 2008. Prosperi was intimately involved with the 1993 fundraiser for the White House Historical Association noted above.

The relationship between Epstein and Clinton would continue well after Clinton left office in 2001, a fact well-documented by Bill Clinton’s now-infamous flights on Epstein’s (recently sold) private jet — often referred to as the “Lolita Express.” Clinton flew on the Lolita Express no less than 26 times in the early 2000s according to flight logs. On some of those flights, Clinton was accompanied by his Secret Service detail but he was unaccompanied on other flights.

Arguably the most infamous flight taken by Clinton on Epstein’s jet was a lengthy trip to Africa, where actor Kevin Spacey, who has also been accused of raping minors; Ghislaine Maxwell; and Ron Burkle, a billionaire friend of Clinton’s who has been accused of soliciting the services of “super-high-end call girls,” were also present. Clinton specifically requested that Epstein make his jet available for the trip well in advance, with Doug Band as the intermediary. President Donald Trump, also a friend of Epstein, is said to have flown on the plane but appears only once on flight logs. Both Trump and Clinton were known to have visited Epstein’s private island, nicknamed “Orgy Island” and “Lolita Island.”

In addition to flights, an Epstein-run foundation gave $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation according to the 2006 filing tax return of Epstein’s former charity, the C.O.U.Q. Foundation. Notably, Epstein’s lawyers, Alan Dershowitz among them, claimed in 2007 that Epstein had been “part of the original group that conceived the Clinton Global Initiative, which is described as a project ‘bringing together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.’”

Before the associations between Epstein and the Clinton White House in the early 1990s were made public, Ghislaine Maxwell was thought to have been the bridge between Epstein and the Clinton family because of her close relationship to the family. However, the close relationship between Maxwell and the Clintons appears to have developed in the 2000s, with Politico reporting that it began after Bill Clinton left office. Clinton associate Doug Band was also reportedly friendly to Maxwell, appearing at an exclusive dinner party she hosted at her residence in New York in 2005. Maxwell later became particularly close to Chelsea Clinton, vacationing with Chelsea in 2009 and attending her wedding a year later. Maxwell was also associated with the Clinton Global Initiative at least up until 2013.

Other close Clinton associates and officials in the early 1990s also had notable relationships with Jeffrey Epstein, including Mark Middleton, who was a special assistant to Clinton Chief of Staff Mack McClarty beginning in 1993, and met with Epstein on at least three occasions in the White House during the early Clinton years. In addition, White House social secretary under Clinton, Ann Stock, appears in Epstein’s “little black book” as does Doug Band, once referred to by New York Magazine as “Bill Clinton’s bag carrier, body man, fixer, and all-purpose gatekeeper.” Band also appears several times in the flight logs of Epstein’s private jet.

Epstein was also associated with both Bill Richardson, former ambassador to the UN and former secretary of energy under Clinton, and Larry Summers, secretary of the treasury under Clinton. Both Richardson and Summers sit on the advisory board of controversial energy company Genie Energy, alongside CIA director under Clinton, James Woolsey; Roy Cohn associate and media mogul, Rupert Murdoch; Mega Group member Michael Steinhardt; and Lord Jacob Rothschild. Genie Energy is controversial primarily for its exclusive rights to drill in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Bill Richardson also has ties to Lynn Forester de Rothschild as she was on the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board while Richardson was secretary of energy.

Bill Richardson appears to be among the Clinton era officials closest to Jeffrey Epstein, having personally visited Epstein’s New Mexico ranch and been the recipient of Epstein donations of $50,000 to his 2002 and 2006 gubernatorial campaigns. Richardson gave Epstein’s donation in 2006 to charity after allegations against Epstein were made public. Richardson was also accused in recently released court documents of engaging in sex with Epstein’s underage victims, an allegation that he has denied.

 

The Jeffrey Epstein scandal: A post-mortem

In 1990, Danny Casolaro began his fateful one-year investigation of “the Octopus,” an investigation that played no small role in his untimely death. Shortly after he was found lifeless in a hotel bathtub, Casolaro’s friend Lynn Knowles was threatened and told the following: “What Danny Casolaro was investigating is a business…Anyone who asks too many questions will end up dead.”

Nearly thirty years later, that same “Octopus” and its “business” remains with us and has become ever more wrapped around the levers of power — particularly in the worlds of government, finance and intelligence.

This MintPress investigative series has endeavored to show the nature of this network and how the world of “the Octopus” is the same world in which Jeffrey Epstein and his predecessors — Craig Spence, Edwin Wilson and Roy Cohn among them — operated and profited. It is a world where all that matters is the constant drive to accumulate ever more wealth and ever more power and to keep the racket going at all costs.

While this network has long been able to ensure its success through the use of sexual blackmail, often acquired by the unconscionable exploitation of children, it has also been a driving force behind many other ills that plague our world and it goes far beyond human and child trafficking. Indeed, many of the figures in this same sordid web have played a major role in the illicit drug and weapons trades, the expansion of for-profit prisons, and the endless wars that have claimed an untold number of lives across the world, all the while enriching many of these same individuals.

There is no denying that such a network is “too big to fail.” Yet, fail it must — otherwise this decades-long cycle of abuse, murder and fraud will continue unabated, destroying and taking even more lives in the process.

Though this report marks the end of MintPress’ series on Jeffrey Epstein and the network of which he was part, this is not the end of MintPress’ work on the case. Several spin-offs — investigating the real reasons why Epstein was arrested in July; his connections to money laundering and the intelligence “black budget;” and his network’s connections to child trafficking in other countries, particularly the U.K. — are already in the works and will appear in Mint Press over the next few weeks.

Feature photo | A composite image shows from left to right, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Clinton, Adnan Khashoggi and Robert Maxwell. Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

Archive

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Mega Group, Maxwells and Mossad: The Spy Story at the Heart of the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal – by Whitney Webb (Mintpress News) 7 Aug 2019

The picture painted by the evidence is not a direct Epstein tie to a single intelligence agency but a web linking key members of the Mega Group, politicians, and officials in both the U.S. and Israel, and an organized-crime network with deep business and intelligence ties in both nations.

As billionaire pedophile and alleged sex-trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein sits in prison, reports have continued to surface about his reported links to intelligence, his financial ties to several companies and “charitable” foundations, and his friendships with the rich and powerful as well as top politicians.

While Part I and Part II of this series, “The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail,” have focused on the widespread nature of sexual blackmail operations in recent American history and their ties to the heights of American political power and the U.S. intelligence community, one key aspect of Epstein’s own sex-trafficking and blackmail operation that warrants examination is Epstein’s ties to Israeli intelligence and his ties to the “informal” pro-Israel philanthropist faction known as “the Mega Group.”

The Mega Group’s role in the Epstein case has garnered some attention, as Epstein’s main financial patron for decades, billionaire Leslie Wexner, was a co-founder of the group that unites several well-known businessmen with a penchant for pro-Israel and ethno-philanthropy (i.e., philanthropy benefiting a single ethnic or ethno-religious group). However, as this report will show, another uniting factor among Mega Group members is deep ties to organized crime, specifically the organized crime network discussed in Part I of this series, which was largely led by notorious American mobster Meyer Lansky.


By virtue of the role of many Mega Group members as major political donors in both the U.S. and Israel, several of its most notable members have close ties to the governments of both countries as well as their intelligence communities. As this report and a subsequent report will show, the Mega Group also had close ties to two businessmen who worked for Israel’s Mossad — Robert Maxwell and Marc Rich — as well as to top Israeli politicians, including past and present prime ministers with deep ties to Israel’s intelligence community.

One of those businessmen working for the Mossad, Robert Maxwell, will be discussed at length in this report. Maxwell, who was a business partner of Mega Group co-founder Charles Bronfman, aided the successful Mossad plot to plant a trapdoor in U.S.-created software that was then sold to governments and companies throughout the world. That plot’s success was largely due to the role of a close associate of then-President Ronald Reagan and an American politician close to Maxwell, who later helped aid Reagan in the cover-up of the Iran Contra scandal.

Years later, Maxwell’s daughter — Ghislaine Maxwell — would join Jeffrey Epstein’s “inner circle” at the same time Epstein was bankrolling a similar software program now being marketed for critical electronic infrastructure in the U.S. and abroad. That company has deep and troubling connections to Israeli military intelligence, associates of the Trump administration, and the Mega Group.

Epstein appears to have ties to Israeli intelligence and has well-documented ties to influential Israeli politicians and the Mega Group. Yet, those entities are not isolated in and of themselves, as many also connect to the organized crime network and powerful alleged pedophiles discussed in previous installments of this series.

Perhaps the best illustration of how the connections between many of these players often meld together can be seen in Ronald Lauder: a Mega Group member, former member of the Reagan administration, long-time donor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s Likud Party, as well as a long-time friend of Donald Trump and Roy Cohn.

 

From cosmetics heir to political player

One often overlooked yet famous client and friend of Roy Cohn is the billionaire heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, Ronald Lauder. Lauder is often described in the press as a “leading Jewish philanthropist” and is the president of the World Jewish Congress, yet his many media profiles tend to leave out his highly political past.

In a statement given by Lauder to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman in 2018, the cosmetics heir noted that he has known Trump for over 50 years, going back at least to the early 1970s. According to Lauder, his relationship with Trump began when Trump was a student at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which Lauder also attended.

Donald Trump Ronald Lauder

Though the exact nature of their early friendship is unclear, it is evident that they shared many of the same connections, including to the man who would later count them both as his clients, Roy Cohn. While much has been said of the ties between Cohn and Trump, Cohn was particularly close to Lauder’s mother, Estee Lauder (born Josephine Mentzer). Estee was even counted among Cohn’s most high-profile friends in his New York Times obituary.

A small window into the Lauder-Cohn relationship surfaced briefly in a 2016 article in Politico about a 1981 dinner party held at Cohn’s weekend home in Greenwich, Connecticut. The party was attended by Ronald Lauder’s parents, Estee and Joe, as well as Trump and his then-wife Ivana, who had a weekend home just two miles away. That party was held soon after Cohn had helped Reagan secure the presidency and had reached the height of his political influence. At the party, Cohn offered toasts to Reagan and to then-Senator for New York Alfonse D’Amato, who would later urge Ronald Lauder to run for political office.

Two years later, in 1983, Ronald Lauder — whose only professional experience at that point was working for his parent’s cosmetics company — was appointed to serve as United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs. Soon after his appointment, he served on the Dinner Tribute Committee for a dinner hosted by the Jewish fraternal and strongly pro-Israel organization B’nai B’rith, the parent organization of the controversial Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in Roy Cohn’s honor. Cohn’s influential father, Albert Cohn, was the long-time president of B’nai B’rith’s powerful New England-New York chapter and Roy Cohn himself was a member of B’nai B’rith’s Banking and Finance Lodge.

The dinner specifically sought to honor Cohn for his pro-Israel advocacy and his efforts to “fortify” Israel’s economy, and its honorary chairmen included media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump and then-head of Bear Stearns Alan Greenberg, all of whom are connected to Jeffrey Epstein.

During his time as deputy assistant secretary of defense, Lauder was also very active in Israeli politics and had already become an ally of the then-Israeli representative to the United Nations and future prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Lauder would go on to be one of the most important individuals in Netanyahu’s rise to power, particularly during his upset victory in 1996, and a major financier of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party.

In 1986, the year that Roy Cohn died, Lauder left his post at the Pentagon and became the U.S. ambassador to Austria, where his tenure was shaped by his confrontations with the then-Austrian president and former Nazi collaborator, Kurt Waldheim. Lauder’s interest in Austrian politics has continued well into recent years, culminating in accusations that he sought to manipulate Austrian elections in 2012.

After leaving his ambassadorship, Lauder founded the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in 1987 and later went on to run for Mayor of New York against Rudy Giuliani in 1989. Lauder was encouraged to run by then-Senator Alfonse D’Amato, who had close ties to Roy Cohn and his long-time law partner Tom Bolan, who was D’Amato’s adviser. At the aforementioned 1983 B’nai B’rith dinner honoring Cohn, D’Amato was the featured speaker.

The likely reason was that Giuliani, though once an ally of the “Roy Cohn machine,” was at the time deeply disliked by the late Cohn’s associates for prosecuting Cohn’s former law partner, Stanley Friedman, for racketeering, conspiracy and other charges. Giuliani also had a history of bitter disagreements with D’Amato. Lauder’s primary campaign, though unsuccessful, was noted for its viciousness and its cost, as it burned through more than $13 million.

A few years later, in the early 1990s, Lauder would join a newly formed group that has long evaded scrutiny from the media but has recently become of interest in connection with the Jeffrey Epstein scandal: the Mega Group.

 

Lauder, Epstein and the mysterious Austrian passport

Before getting to the Mega Group, it is worth noting one particular act apparently undertaken by Lauder while he was U.S. ambassador to Austria that has recently come to light in relation to the arrest in early July of Jeffrey Epstein, a finding first reported by journalist Edward Szall. When police recently discovered an Austrian passport with Epstein’s picture and a fake name after raiding his Manhattan residence, the source and purpose of the passport came under media scrutiny.

According to the Associated Press, Epstein’s defense lawyers specifically argued that “a friend gave it to him [Epstein] in the 1980s after some Jewish-Americans were informally advised to carry identification bearing a non-Jewish name when traveling internationally during a period when hijackings were more common.” This claim appears to be related to concerns that followed the hijacking of Air France Flight 139 in 1976 when Israeli and Jewish hostages were separated from other hostages based largely on the passports in their possession.

Given that Epstein was unable to meet the conventional qualifications for an Austrian passport — including long-term residency in Austria (the passport lists him as a resident of Saudi Arabia) and fluency in German — it appears that the only way to have acquired an Austrian passport was by unconventional means, meaning assistance from a well-connected Austrian official or foreign diplomat with clout in Austria.

Epstein Wexler Lauder

Lauder, then-ambassador to Austria for the Reagan administration, would have been well-positioned to acquire such a passport, particularly for the reason cited by Epstein’s attorneys that Jewish-Americans could be targeted during travel, and in light of Lauder’s very public concerns over threats Jews face from certain terror groups. Furthermore, the passport had been issued in 1987, when Lauder was still serving as an ambassador.

In addition, Lauder was well-connected to Epstein’s former patron — former head of Bear Stearns Alan Greenberg, who had hired Epstein in the late 1970s immediately after the latter was fired from the Dalton School — and Donald Trump, another friend of Lauder and Greenberg who began his friendship with Epstein in 1987, the same year the fake Austrian passport was issued. In 1987, Epstein also began his relationship with his principal financier, Leslie Wexner, who is also closely associated with Lauder (though some sources claim that Epstein and Wexner first met in 1985 but that their strong business relationship was not established until 1987).

Though Epstein’s defense attorney declined to reveal the identity of the “friend” who provided him with the fake Austrian passport, Lauder was both well-positioned to acquire it in Austria and also deeply connected to the Mega Group, which was co-founded by Epstein’s patron Leslie Wexner and to which Epstein has many connections. These connections to both the Austrian government and to Epstein’s mentor make Lauder the most likely person to have acquired the document on Epstein’s behalf.

Furthermore, Epstein and the Mega Group’s ties to the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, also suggest Lauder was involved in procuring the passport, in light of his close ties to the Israeli government and the fact that Mossad has a history of using ambassadors abroad to procure false, foreign passports for its operatives.

Lauder himself has been alleged to have ties to Mossad, as he is a long-time funder of IDC Herzliya, an Israeli university closely associated with Mossad and their recruiters as well as Israeli military intelligence. Lauder even founded IDC Herzliya’s Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy.

Furthermore, Lauder co-founded the Eastern European broadcasting network CETV with Mark Palmer, a former U.S. diplomat, Kissinger aide and Reagan speechwriter. Palmer is better known for co-founding the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organization often described as an accessory to U.S. intelligence, and one whose first president confessed to the Washington Post that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” A 2001 report in the Evening Standard noted that Epstein once claimed that during the 1980s he worked for the CIA, but Epstein later backed away from that assertion.

 

The origins of the Mega Group Mafia

The Mega Group — a secretive group of billionaires to which Lauder belongs — was formed in 1991 by Charles Bronfman and Leslie Wexner, the latter of whom has received considerable media scrutiny following the July arrest of his former protege Jeffrey Epstein. Media profiles of the group paint it as “a loosely organized club of 20 of the nation’s wealthiest and most influential Jewish businessmen” focused on “philanthropy and Jewishness,” with membership dues upwards of $30,000 per year. Yet several of its most prominent members have ties to organized crime.

Mega Group members founded and/or are closely associated with some of the most well-known pro-Israel organizations. For instance, members Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt formed Birthright Taglit with the backing of then- and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Steinhardt, an atheist, has stated that his motivation in helping to found the group was to advance his own belief that devotion to and faith in the state of Israel should serve as “a substitute for [Jewish] theology.”

Other well-known groups associated with the Mega Group include the World Jewish Congress — whose past president, Edgar Bronfman, and current president, Ronald Lauder, are both Mega Group members — and B’nai B’rith, particularly its spin-off known as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The Bronfman brothers were major donors to the ADL, with Edgar Bronfman serving as the ADL’s honorary national vice-chair for several years.

Shimon Peres Edgar Bronfman Mega Group

When Edgar Bronfman died in 2013, long-time ADL Director Abe Foxman said, “Edgar was for many years Chair of our Liquor Industry Division, Chair of our New York Appeal, and one of our most significant benefactors.” Other Mega Group members that are donors and major supporters of the ADL include Ronald Lauder, Michael Steinhardt and the late Max Fisher. As previously mentioned, Roy Cohn’s father was a long-time leader of B’nai B’rith’s influential New England-New York chapter and Cohn was later a celebrated member of its banking and finance lodge.

In addition, Mega Group members have also been key players in the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. For instance, Max Fisher of the Mega Group founded the National Jewish Coalition, now known as the Republican Jewish Coalition — the main pro-Israel neoconservative political lobbying group, known for its support of hawkish policies, and whose current chief patrons, Sheldon Adelson and Bernard Marcus, are among Donald Trump’s top donors.

Though the Mega Group has officially existed only since 1991, the use of “philanthropy” to provide cover for more unscrupulous lobbying or business activities was pioneered decades earlier by Sam Bronfman, the father of Mega Group members Edgar and Charles Bronfman. While other North American elites like J.D. Rockefeller had previously used philanthropic giving as a means of laundering their reputations, Bronfman’s approach to philanthropy was unique because it was focused on giving specifically to other members of his own ethno-religious background.

Sam Bronfman, as was detailed in Part I of this series, had long-standing deep ties to organized crime, specifically Meyer Lanksy’s organized crime syndicate. Yet, Bronfman’s private ambition, according to those close to him, was to become a respected member of high society. As a consequence, Bronfman worked hard to remove the stain that his mob associations had left on his public reputation in Canada and abroad. He accomplished this by becoming a leader in Canada’s Zionist movement and, by the end of the 1930s, he was head of the Canadian Jewish Congress and had begun to make a name for himself as a philanthropist for Jewish causes.

Yet even some of Bronfman’s activism and philanthropy had hints of the mobster-like reputation he tried so hard to shake. For instance, Bronfman was actively involved in the illegal shipping of arms to Zionist paramilitaries in Palestine prior to 1948, specifically as a co-founder of the National Conference for Israeli and Jewish Rehabilitation that smuggled weapons to the paramilitary group Haganah.

At the same time Bronfman was abetting the illegal smuggling of weapons to the Haganah, his associates in the criminal underworld were doing the same. After World War II, close aides of David Ben-Gurion, who would later become the first prime minister of Israel and was instrumental in the founding of Mossad, forged tight-knit relationships with Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Mickey Cohen and other Jewish gangsters of the period. They used their clandestine networks to establish a vast arms smuggling network between the United States and Zionist settlements in Palestine, arming both the Haganah and the Irgun paramilitary groups. As noted in Part I of this report, at the same time these gangsters were aiding the illegal arming of ZIonsit paramilitaries, they were strengthening their ties to U.S. intelligence that had first been formally (though covertly) established in World War II.

After Israel was founded, Sam Bronfman worked with future Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to negotiate the sale of Canadian armaments at half-price to Israel and the bargain weapons purchase was paid for entirely by a fundraising dinner hosted by Bronfman and his wife. Many years later, Peres would go on to introduce another future prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, to Jeffrey Epstein.

The rest of the Bronfman family’s march on “the road to respectability” was undertaken by Bronfman’s children, who married into aristocratic families such as the European Rothschilds and the Wall Street “royalty” of the Lehmans and the Loebs.

The Bronfmans’ newfound respectability did not mean that their association with the Lansky-led criminal empire had dissolved. Indeed, prominent members of the Seagrams dynasty came under fire in the 1960s and 1970s for their close association with Willie “Obie” Obront, a major figure in Canadian organized crime, whom Canadian professor Stephen Schneider has referred to as the Meyer Lansky of Canada.

However, Edgar and Charles Bronfman were hardly the only members of the Mega Group with deep and long-standing ties to the Lansky-led National Crime Syndicate. Indeed, one of the group’s prominent members, hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt, opened up about his own family ties to Lansky in his autobiography No Bull: My Life in and out the Markets, where he noted that his father, Sol “Red McGee” Steinhardt, was Lansky’s jewel fence of choice and a major player in New York’s criminal underworld. Sol Steinhardt was also his son’s first client on Wall Street and helped him jumpstart his career in finance.

The ties between the Mega Group and the National Crime Syndicate don’t stop there. Another prominent member of the Mega Group with ties to this same criminal network is Max Fisher, who has been described as Wexner’s mentor and is also alleged to have worked with Detroit’s “Purple Gang” during Prohibition and beyond. The Purple Gang were part of the network that smuggled Bronfman liquor from Canada into the United State during Prohibition, and one of its founders, Abe Bernstein, was a close associate of both Meyer Lansky and Moe Dalitz. Fisher was a key adviser to several U.S. presidents, beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as to Henry Kissinger.

Henry Kissinger | Max Fisher

In addition to Fisher, Mega Group member Ronald Lauder was connected to Roy Cohn and Tom Bolan, both of whom were closely associated with this same Lansky-led crime network (see Part I and Part II) and who regularly represented top Mafia figures in court. Furthermore, another member of the Mega Group, director Steven Spielberg, is a well-known protege of Lew Wasserman, the mob-connected media mogul and long-time backer of Ronald Reagan’s film and later political career, discussed in Part II of this series.

One surprise connection to Cohn involves Mega Group member, and former president of U.S. weapons firm General Dynamics, Lester Crown, whose brother-in-law is David Schine, Cohn’s confidant and alleged lover during the McCarthy hearings, whose relationship with Cohn helped bring about the downfall of McCarthyism.

Another member of the Mega Group worth noting is Laurence Tisch, who owned CBS News for several years and founded Loews Corporation. Tisch is notable for his work for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA, where Donald Barr, who hired Epstein at the Dalton School, also served and which forged ties with Lansky’s criminal empire during World War II.

 

Wexner’s mansions and the Shapiro murder

Leslie “Les” Wexner, the other Mega Group co-founder, also has ties to organized crime. Wexner’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein have come under scrutiny following the latter’s recent arrest, as Wexner was the only publicly acknowledged client of Epstein’s suspicious hedge fund, the source of much of this wealth, and the previous owner of Epstein’s $56 million Manhattan townhouse, which Wexner transferred to an Epstein-controlled entity for free.

Before Epstein received the townhouse, Wexner appears to have used the residence for some unconventional purposes, noted in a 1996 New York Times article on the then-Wexner-owned residence, which included “a bathroom reminiscent of James Bond movies: hidden beneath a stairway, lined with lead to provide shelter from attack and supplied with closed-circuit television screens and a telephone, both concealed in a cabinet beneath the sink.” The Times article does not speculate as to the purpose of this equipment, though the allusion to famous fictional superspy James Bond suggests that it may have been used to snoop on guests or conduct electronic surveillance.

The 1996 Times article also noted that, after Wexner bought the residence for $13.2 million in 1989, he spent millions more decorating and furnishing the home, including the addition of the electronic equipment in the “James Bond” bathroom, only to apparently never live in it. The Times, which interviewed Epstein for the piece, quoted him as saying that “Les never spent more than two months there.” Epstein told the Times, which identified Epstein as Wexner’s “protege and one of his financial advisers,” that the house, by that time, already belonged to him.

That same year, Epstein was commissioning artwork for Wexner’s Ohio mansion. A recent article from the Times noted that:

In the summer of 1996, Maria Farmer was working on an art project for Mr. Epstein in Mr. Wexner’s Ohio mansion. While she was there, Mr. Epstein sexually assaulted her, according to an affidavit Ms. Farmer filed earlier this year in federal court in Manhattan. She said that she fled the room and called the police, but that Mr. Wexner’s security staff refused to let her leave for 12 hours.”

Farmer’s account strongly suggests that, given the behavior of his personal security staff at his mansion following Epstein’s alleged assault on Farmer, Wexner was well aware of Epstein’s predatory behavior towards young women. This is compounded by claims made by Alan Dershowitz — a former lawyer for and friend of Epstein’s, who has also been accused of raping underage girls — that Wexner has also been accused of raping underage girls exploited by Epstein on at least seven occasions.

The presence of the electronic equipment in his home’s bathroom, other oddities related to the townhouse, and aspects of the links between Epstein and Wexner suggest there is more to Wexner, who has rather successfully developed a public image of a respectable businessman and philanthropist, much like other prominent members of the Mega Group.

Leslie Wexner Jeffrey Epstein

However, bits and pieces of Wexner’s private secrets have occasionally bubbled up, only to be subjected to rapid cover-ups amidst concerns of “libeling” the powerful and well-connected billionaire “philanthropist.”

In 1985, Columbus (Ohio) lawyer Arthur Shapiro was murdered in broad daylight at point-blank range in what was largely referred to as a “mob style murder.” The homicide still remains unsolved, likely due to the fact that then-Columbus Police Chief James Jackson ordered the destruction of key documents of his department’s investigation into the murder.

Jackson’s ordering of the documents’ destruction came to light years later in 1996, when he was under investigation for corruption. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Jackson justified the destruction of one “viable and valuable” report because he felt that it “was so filled with wild speculation about prominent business leaders that it was potentially libelous.” The nature of this “wild speculation” was that “millionaire businessmen in Columbus and Youngstown were linked to the ‘mob-style murder.’”

Though Jackson’s efforts were meant to keep this “libelous” report far from public view, it was eventually obtained by Bob Fitrakis — attorney, journalist, and executive director of the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism — after he was “accidentally” sent a copy of the report in 1998 as part of a public records request.

The report, titled “Shapiro Homicide Investigation: Analysis and Hypothesis,” names Leslie Wexner as linked “with associates reputed to be organized crime figures” and also lists the names of businessman Jack Kessler, former Columbus City Council President and Wexner associate Jerry Hammond, and former Columbus City Council member Les Wright as also being involved in Shapiro’s murder.

The report also noted that Arthur Shapiro’s law firm — Schwartz, Shapiro, Kelm & Warren — represented Wexner’s company, The Limited, and states that “prior to his death, Arthur Shapiro managed this account [The Limited] for the law firm.” It also noted that, at the time of his death, Shapiro “was the subject of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service because he had failed to file income tax returns for some seven years prior to his death, and he had invested in some questionable tax shelters.” It also stated that his death prevented Shapiro from his planned testimony at a grand jury hearing about these “questionable tax shelters.”

As to Wexner’s alleged links to organized crime, the report focuses on the close business relationship between Wexner’s The Limited and Francis Walsh, whose trucking company “[had] done an excess of 90 percent of the Limited’s trucking business around the time of Shapiro’s murder,” according to the report. Walsh was named in a 1988 indictment as a “co-conspirator” of Genovese crime family boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, whose long-time lawyer was Roy Cohn; and the Shapiro murder report stated that Walsh was “still considered associates of the Genovese/LaRocca crime family, and Walsh was still providing truck transportation for The Limited.”

Notably, the Genovese crime family has long formed a key part of the National Crime Syndicate, as its former head, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, co-created the criminal organization with his close friend Meyer Lansky. Upon Luciano’s imprisonment and subsequent deportation from the United States, Lansky took over the syndicate’s U.S. operations and his association with Luciano’s successors continued until Lansky’s death in 1983.

 

The “Mega” Mystery and the Mossad

In May 1997, the Washington Post broke an explosive story — long since forgotten — based on an intercepted phone call made between a Mossad official in the U.S. and his superior in Tel Aviv that discussed the Mossad’s efforts to obtain a secret U.S. government document. According to the Post, the Mossad official stated during the phone call that “Israeli Ambassador Eliahu Ben Elissar had asked him whether he could obtain a copy of the letter given to [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat by [then-Secretary of State Warren] Christopher on Jan. 16, the day after the Hebron accord was signed by Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.”

The Post article continued:

According to a source who viewed a copy of the NSA transcript of the conversation, the intelligence officer, speaking in Hebrew, said, ‘The ambassador wants me to go to Mega to get a copy of this letter.’ The source said the supervisor in Tel Aviv rejected the request, saying, ‘This is not something we use Mega for.’”

The leaked communication led to an investigation that sought to identify an individual code-named “Mega” that the Post said “may be someone in the U.S. government who has provided information to the Israelis in the past,” a concern that subsequently spawned a fruitless FBI investigation. The Mossad later claimed that “Mega” was merely a codeword for the U.S.’ CIA, but the FBI and NSA were unconvinced by that claim and believed that it was a senior U.S. government official that had potentially once been involved in working with Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. naval intelligence analyst later convicted of spying for the Mossad.

Almost one year to the day after the “Mega” spy scandal broke, the Wall Street Journal was the first outlet to report on the existence of a little-known organization of billionaires that was “informally” called the Mega Group and had been founded years prior in 1991. The report made no mention of the spy scandal that had spread concerns of Israeli espionage in the U.S. only a year prior. However, the group’s distinctive “informal” name and the connections of its members to the Mossad and to high-ranking Israeli politicians, including prime ministers, raise the possibility that “Mega” was not an individual, as the FBI and NSA had believed, but a group.

In 1997, when the “Mega” spy scandal broke, Netanyahu had recently become prime minister of Israel after an upset victory, a victory that was largely credited to one well-connected Netanyahu backer in particular, Ronald Lauder. Beyond being a major donor, Lauder had brought Arthur Finklestein on to work for Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign, whose strategies were credited for Netanyahu’s surprise win. Netanyahu was close enough to Lauder that he personally enlisted Lauder and George Nader to serve as his peace envoys to Syria.

Mega Group Benjamin Netanyahu Ronald Lauder

Nader, who was connected to the Trump 2016 campaign and Trump ally and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, was recently hit with federal child sex trafficking charges last month, soon after Jeffrey Epstein had been arrested on similar charges. At the time Nader was picked to work with Lauder on Netanyahu’s behalf, he had already been caught possessing large amounts of child pornography on two separate occasions, first in 1984 and later in 1990.

This strong connection between Netanyahu and Lauder during the time of the 1997 “Mega” spy scandal is important considering Mossad answers directly to Israel’s prime minister.

Another possible connection between the Mega Group and the Mossad owes to the Mega Group’s ties to Meyer Lansky’s criminal network. As was detailed in Part I, Lansky had established deep ties to U.S. intelligence after World War II and was also connected to the Mossad through Mossad official Tibor Rosenbaum, whose bank was frequently used by Lansky to launder money. In addition, Lansky collaborated on at least one occasion with notorious Mossad “superspy” Rafi Eitan, who he helped acquire sensitive electronic equipment possessed only by the CIA but coveted by Israeli intelligence. Eitan is best known in the U.S. for being the Mossad handler of Jonathan Pollard.

Notably, Eitan was the main source of claims that the code-word “Mega” used by the Mossad officials in 1997 referred to the CIA and not to a potential source in the U.S. government once linked to Pollard’s spying activities, making his claims as to the true meaning of the term somewhat dubious.

Given that the organized crime network tied to the Mega Group had ties to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence, the “Mega” codeword could plausibly have referred to this secretive group of billionaires. More supporting evidence for this theory comes from the fact that prominent members of the Mega Group were business partners of Mossad agents, including media mogul Robert Maxwell and commodities trader Marc Rich.

 

The mysterious Maxwells

The Maxwell family has become a source of renewed media interest following Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest, as Ghislaine Maxwell, long described in the media as a British “socialite,” was publicly cited as Epstein’s long-time “on and off” girlfriend, and Epstein’s victims, as well as former wives of Epstein’s friends, have claimed that she was Epstein’s “pimp” and procured underage girls for his sexual blackmail operation. Ghislaine Maxwell is also alleged to have engaged in the rape of the girls she procured for Epstein and to have used them to produce child pornography.

Ghislaine was the favorite and youngest daughter of media mogul Robert Maxwell. Maxwell, born Jan Ludvick Hoch, had joined the British Army in World War II. Afterwards, according to authors John Loftus and Mark Aarons, he greatly influenced the Czechoslovakian government’s decision to arm Zionist paramilitaries during the 1948 war that resulted in Israel’s creation as a state, and Maxwell himself was also involved in the smuggling of aircraft parts to Israel.

Around this time, Maxwell was approached by British intelligence outfit MI6 and offered a position that Maxwell ultimately declined. MI6 then classified him as “Zionist — loyal only to Israel” and made him a person of interest. He later became an agent of the Mossad, according to several books including Robert Maxwell: Israel’s Superspy by Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon. Furthermore, Seymour Hersh’s The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy alleges ties between Maxwell and Israeli intelligence.

According to Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad case officer:

Mossad was financing many of its operations in Europe from money stolen from Maxwell’s newspaper pension fund. They got their hands on the funds almost as soon as Maxwell made the purchase of the Mirror Newspaper Group with money lent to him by Mossad.”

In exchange for his services, the Mossad helped Maxwell satisfy his sexual appetite during his visits to Israel, providing him with prostitutes, “the service maintained for blackmail purposes.” It was later revealed that the hotel in which he stayed in Israel was bugged with cameras, allowing the Mossad to acquire “a small library of video footage of Maxwell in sexually compromising positions.” As with the CIA, the Mossad’s use of blackmail against both friend and foe is well-documented and known to be extensive.

Maxwell was also a close associate and friend of Israeli “superspy” Rafi Eitan, who, as previously mentioned, was Jonathan Pollard’s handler and who had previously worked directly with Meyer Lansky. Eitan had learned of a revolutionary new software being used by the U.S. government known as “Promis” from Earl Brian, a long-time associate and aide to Ronald Reagan. Promis is often considered the forerunner to the “Prism” software used by spy agencies today and was developed by William Hamilton, who leased the software to the U.S. government through his company, Inslaw, in 1982.

Mega Group Ariel Sharon Robert Maxwell

According to author and former BBC investigative journalist Gordon Thomas, Brian was angry that the U.S. Department of Justice was successfully using Promis to go after organized crime and money-laundering activities and Eitan felt that the program could aid Israel. At the time, Eitan was the director of the now defunct Israeli military intelligence agency Lekem, which gathered scientific and technical intelligence abroad from both public and covert sources, especially in relation to Israel’s nuclear weapons program.

A plan was hatched to install a “trapdoor” into the software and then market Promis throughout the world, providing the Mossad with invaluable intelligence on the operations of its enemies and allies while also providing Eitan and Brian with copious amounts of cash. According to the testimony of ex-Mossad official Ari Ben-Menashe, Brian provided a copy of Promis to Israel’s military intelligence, which contacted an Israeli American programmer living in California who then planted the “trapdoor” in the software. The CIA was later said to have installed its own trapdoor in the software but it is unknown if they did so with a version of the already bugged software and how widely it was adopted relative to the version bugged by Israeli intelligence.

After the trapdoor was inserted, the problem became selling the bugged version of the software to governments as well as private companies around the world, particularly in areas of interest. Brian first attempted to buy out Inslaw and Promis and then use that same company to sell the bugged version.

Unsuccessful, Brian turned to his close friend, then-Attorney General Ed Meese whose Justice Department then abruptly refused to make the payments to Inslaw that were stipulated by the contract, essentially using the software for free, which Inslaw claimed to be theft. Some have speculated that Meese’s role in that decision was shaped, not only by his friendship with Brian, but the fact that his wife was a major investor in Brian’s business ventures. Meese would later become an adviser to Donald Trump when he was president-elect.

Inslaw was forced to declare bankruptcy as a result of Meese’s actions and sued the Justice Department. The court later found that the Meese-led department “took, converted, stole” the software through “trickery, fraud and deceit.”

With Inslaw out of the way, Brian sold the software all over the world. Eitan later recruited Robert Maxwell to become another Promis salesman, which he did remarkably well, even succeeding in selling the software to Soviet intelligence and conspiring with Republican Texas Senator John Tower to have the software adopted by the U.S. government laboratory at Los Alamos. Dozens of countries used the software on their most carefully guarded computer systems, unaware that Mossad now had access to everything Promis touched.

Whereas the Mossad’s past reliance on gathering intelligence had relied on the same tactics used by its equivalents in the U.S. and elsewhere, the widespread adoption of the Promis software, largely through the actions of Earl Brian and Robert Maxwell, gave the Mossad a way to gather not just troves of counterintelligence data, but also blackmail on other intelligence agencies and powerful figures.

Indeed, Promis’ backdoor and adoption by intelligence agencies all over the world essentially provided the Mossad with access to troves of blackmail that the CIA and FBI had acquired on their friends and foes for over half a century. Strangely, in recent years, the FBI has sought to hide information related to Robert Maxwell’s connection to the Promis scandal.

According to journalist Robert Fisk, Maxwell was also involved in the Mossad abduction of Israeli nuclear weapons whistleblower Vanunu Mordechai. Mordechai had attempted to provide the media with information on the extent of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, which was eventually published by the Sunday Times of London. Yet, Mordechai had also contacted the Daily Mirror with the information, the Mirror being an outlet that was owned by Maxwell and whose foreign editor was a close Maxwell associate and alleged Mossad asset, Nicholas Davies. Journalist Seymour Hersh alleged that Davies had also been involved in Israeli arms deals.

Per Fisk, it was Maxwell who contacted the Israeli Embassy in London and told them of Mordechai’s activities. This led to Mordechai’s entrapment by a female Mossad agent who seduced him as part of a “honey trap” operation that led to his kidnapping and later imprisonment in Israel. Mordechai served an 18-year sentence, 12 years of which were in solitary confinement.

Then, there is the issue of Maxwell’s death, widely cited by mainstream and independent media alike as suspicious and a potential homicide. According to authors Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon, Maxwell had sealed his own fate when he attempted to threaten top Mossad officials with the exposure of certain operations if they did not help him rescue his media empire from crippling debt and financial difficulties. Many of Maxwell’s creditors, who had grown increasingly displeased with the media mogul, were Israeli and several of them were alleged to be Mossad-connected themselves.

Thomas and Dillon argue in their biography of Maxwell’s life that the Mossad felt that Maxwell had become more of a liability than an asset and killed him on his yacht three months after he demanded the bailout. On the other extreme are theories that suggest Maxwell committed suicide because of the financial difficulties his empire faced.

Mega Group Robert Maxwell death

Some have taken Maxwell’s funeral held in Israel as the country’s “official” confirmation of Maxwell’s service to the Mossad, as it was likened to a state funeral and attended by no less than six serving and former heads of Israeli intelligence. During his funeral service in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir eulogized him and stated: “He has done more for Israel than can today be said.” Other eulogies were given by future Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert (then Health Minister) and Shimon Peres, with the latter also praising Maxwell’s “services” on behalf of Israel.

 

Swimming in the same swamp

As he built his business empire — and even became a member of Parliament, Maxwell was also doing work for Israeli intelligence, as several of the Israeli companies in which he invested became fronts for the Mossad. In addition, as he became a media mogul, he developed a bitter rivalry with Rupert Murdoch, a close friend of Roy Cohn and an influential figure in American and British media.

Maxwell also partnered with the Bronfman brothers, Edgar and Charles — key figures in the Mega Group. In 1989 Maxwell and Charles Bronfman partnered up to bid on the Jerusalem Post newspaper and the Post described the two men as “two of the world’s leading Jewish financiers” and their interest in the venture as “developing The Jerusalem Post and expanding its influence among world Jewry.” A year prior, Maxwell and Bronfman had become top shareholders in the Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva.

Maxwell also worked with Charles Bronfman’s brother Edgar in the late 1980s to convince the Soviet Union to allow Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel. Edgar’s efforts in this regard have received more attention, as it was a defining moment of his decades-long presidency of the World Jewish Congress, of which Ronald Lauder is currently president. Yet, Maxwell had also made considerable use of his contacts in the Soviet government in this effort.

Maxwell also moved in the circles of the network previously described in Parts I and II in this series. A key example of this is the May 1989 party Maxwell hosted on his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine — named for his youngest daughter and Epstein’s future “girlfriend.” Attendees of the party included Roy Cohn’s protege Donald Trump and his long-time law partner Tom Bolan. A close friend of Nancy Reagan was also present, journalist Mike Wallace, as was literary agent Mort Janklow, who represented Ronald Reagan and two of Cohn’s closest friends: journalists William Safire and Barbara Walters.

The CEO of what would soon become Time Warner, Steve Ross, was also invited to the exclusive event. Ross’ presence is notable, as he had built his business empire largely through his association with New York crime lords Manny Kimmel and Abner “Longy” Zwillman. Zwillman was a close friend of Meyer Lansky, Michael Steinhardt’s father, and Sam Bronfman, father of Edgar and Charles Bronfman.

Another attendee of the Maxwell yacht party was former Secretary of the Navy and former Henry Kissinger staffer Jon Lehman, who would go on to associate with the controversial neoconservative think tank, Project for a New American Century. Prior to being secretary of the Navy, Lehman had been president of the Abington Corporation, which hired arch-neocon Richard Perle to manage the portfolio of Israeli arms dealers Shlomo Zabludowicz and his son Chaim, who paid Ablington $10,000 month. A scandal arose when those payments continued after both Lehman and Perle joined the Reagan Department of Defense and while Perle was working to persuade the Pentagon to buy arms from companies linked to Zabludowicz. Perle had been part of the Reagan transition team along with Roy Cohn’s long-time friend and law partner Tom Bolan (another Maxwell yacht guest).

In addition to Lehman, another former Kissinger staffer, Thomas Pickering was present at Maxwell’s yacht part. Pickering played a minor role in the Iran-Contra affair and, at the time of the Maxwell yacht party, he was U.S. ambassador to Israel. Senator John Tower (R-TX), who allegedly conspired with Maxwell in the Mossad-bugged Promis software at the Los Alamos laboratories, was also present. Tower died just months before Maxwell in a suspicious plane crash.

Ghislaine Maxwell was also at this rather notable event. After her father’s mysterious death and alleged murder on the same yacht that bears her name in 1991, she quickly packed her bags and moved to New York City. There, she soon made the acquaintance of Jeffrey Epstein and, a few years later, developed close ties to the Clinton family, which will be discussed in the next installment of this series.

 

Jeffrey Epstein and the new “Promis”

After it was revealed that Epstein had evaded stricter sentencing in 2008 due to his links to “intelligence,” it was the Mossad ties of Ghislaine Maxwell’s father that have led many to speculate that Epstein’s sexual blackmail operation was sharing incriminating information with the Mossad. Former CBS executive producer and current journalist for the media outlet Narativ, Zev Shalev, has since claimed that he independently confirmed that Epstein was tied directly to the Mossad.

Trump Epstein Maxwell Mega Group

Epstein was a long-time friend of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who has long-standing and deep ties to Israel’s intelligence community. Their decades-long friendship has been the source of recent political attacks targeting Barak, who is running in the Israeli elections against current Prime Minister Netanyahu later this year.

Barak is also close to Epstein’s chief patron and Mega Group member Leslie Wexner, whose Wexner Foundation gave Barak $2 million in 2004 for a still unspecified research program. According to Barak, he was first introduced to Epstein by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who eulogized Robert Maxwell at his funeral and had decades-long ties with the Bronfman family going back to the early 1950s. Peres was also a frequent participant in programs funded by Leslie Wexner in Israel and worked closely with the Mossad for decades.

In 2015, a few years after Epstein’s release from prison following his conviction for soliciting sex from a minor in 2008, Barak formed a company with Epstein with the chief purpose of investing in an Israeli start-up then known as Reporty. That company, now called Carbyne, sells its signature software to 911 call centers and emergency service providers and is also available to consumers as an app that provides emergency services with access to a caller’s camera and location and also runs any caller’s identity through any linked government database. It has specifically been marketed by the company itself and the Israeli press as a solution to mass shootings in the United States and is already being used by at least two U.S. counties.

Israeli media reported that Epstein and Barak were among the company’s largest investors. Barak poured millions into the company and it was recently revealed by Haaretz that a significant amount of Barak’s total investments in Carbyne was funded by Epstein, making him a “de facto partner” in the company. Barak is now Carbyne’s chairman.

The company’s executive team are all former members of different branches of Israeli intelligence, including the elite military intelligence unit, Unit 8200, that is often likened to Israel’s equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Carbyne’s current CEO, Amir Elichai, served in Unit 8200 and tapped former Unit 8200 commander Pinchas Buchris to serve as the company’s director and on its board. In addition to Elichai, another Carbyne co-founder, Lital Leshem, also served in Unit 8200 and later worked for Israeli private spy company Black Cube. Leshem now works for a subsidiary of Erik Prince’s company Frontier Services Group, according to the independent media outlet Narativ.

The company also includes several tie-ins to the Trump administration, including Palantir founder and Trump ally Peter Thiel — an investor in Carbyne. In addition, Carbyne’s board of advisers includes former Palantir employee Trae Stephens, who was a member of the Trump transition team, as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Trump donor and New York real-estate developer Eliot Tawill is also on Carbyne’s board, alongside Ehud Barak and Pinchas Buchris.

Narativ, which wrote the first expose on Carbyne after Epstein’s arrest, noted that the Chinese government uses a smartphone app very similar to Carbyne as part of its mass surveillance apparatus, even though the original purpose of the app was for improved emergency reporting. According to Narativ, the Chinese Carbyne-equivalent “monitors every aspect of a user’s life, including personal conversations, power usage, and tracks a user’s movement.”

Given the history of Robert Maxwell — the father of Epstein’s long-time “girlfriend” and young-girl-procuring madam, Ghislaine Maxwell — in promoting the sale of Carbyne’s modified Promis software, which was also marketed as a tool to improve government efficacy but was actually a tool of mass surveillance for the benefit of Israeli intelligence, the overlap between Carbyne and Promis is troubling and warrants further investigation.

It is also worth noting that Unit 8200-connected tech start-ups are being widely integrated into U.S. companies and have developed close ties to the U.S. military-industrial complex, with Carbyne being just one example of that trend.

As MintPress previously reported, Unit 8200-linked outfits like Team8 have recently hired former National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike Rogers as a senior advisor and gained prominent Silicon Valley figures, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, as key investors. Many American technology companies, from Intel to Google to Microsoft, have merged with several Unit 8200-connected start-ups in recent years and have been moving many key jobs and operations to Israel with backing from key Republican donors like Paul Singer. Many of those same companies, particularly Google and Microsoft, are also major U.S. government contractors.

 

Who was Epstein really working for?

Even though Jeffrey Epstein appears to have had ties to the Mossad, this series has revealed that the networks to which Epstein was connected were not Mossad-exclusive, as many of the individuals close to Epstein — Lesie Wexner, for instance — were part of a mob-connected class of oligarchs with deep ties to both the U.S. and Israel. As was discussed in Part I of this series, the sharing of “intelligence” (i.e., blackmail) between intelligence agencies and the same organized crime network connected to the Mega Group goes back decades. With Leslie Wexner of the Mega Group as Epstein’s chief patron, as opposed to a financier with direct ties to the Mossad, a similar relationship is more than likely in the case of the sexual blackmail operation that Epstein ran.

Given that intelligence agencies in both the U.S. and elsewhere often conduct covert operations for the benefit of oligarchs and large corporations as opposed to “national security interest,” Epstein’s ties to the Mega Group suggest that this group holds a unique status and influence in both the governments of the U.S. and of Israel, as well as in other countries (e.g., Russia) that were not explored in this report. This is by virtue of their role as key political donors in both countries, as well as the fact that several of them own powerful companies or financial institutions in both countries. Indeed, many members of the Mega Group have deep ties to Israel’s political class, including to Netanyahu and Ehud Barak as well as to now-deceased figures like Shimon Peres, and to members of the American political class.

Ultimately, the picture painted by the evidence is not a direct tie to a single intelligence agency but a web linking key members of the Mega Group, politicians, and officials in both the U.S. and Israel, and an organized-crime network with deep business and intelligence ties in both nations.

Though this series has so far focused on the ties of this network to main Republican Party affiliates, the next and final installment will reveal the ties developed between this web and the Clintons. As will be revealed, despite the Clintons’ willingness to embrace corrupt dealings during the span of their political careers, their mostly friendly relationship with this network still saw them use the power of sexual blackmail to obtain certain policy decisions that were favorable to their personal and financial interests but not to the Clintons’ political reputation or agendas.

Editor’s note | The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Rafi Eitan was interested in repurposing the American-made Promise software to restore his standing in Israel’s intelligence community caused by the fall-out from the Pollard Affair. The Pollard Affair occurred three years after Eitan had succeeded in repurposing the software and MintPress has removed that incorrect information from the article and regrets the error. 

This article also originally neglected to mention that Eitan, at the time of his collaboration with Earl Brian to repurpose the Promis software, was the director of the now-defunct Israeli military intelligence agency Lekem at the time of those events and that information has been added to the story.

Seymour Hersh’s book The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy does not call Robert Maxwell an “agent” of the Mossad, as was stated originally in this report, but does allege clear links and cooperation between Maxwell and the Mossad. This report was updated to reflect this more accurate description.

Feature photo | Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile.

Archive

Government by Blackmail: Jeffrey Epstein, Trump’s Mentor and the Dark Secrets of the Reagan Era – by Whitney Webb (Mintpress) 25 July 2019

Appalling for both the villainous abuse of children itself and the chilling implications of government by blackmail, this tangled web of unsavory alliances casts a lurid light on the political history of the U.S. from the Prohibition Era right up through the Age of Trump.

………………..

Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire who now sits in jail on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors, has continued to draw media scrutiny in the weeks after his arrest on July 6. Part of the reason for this continued media interest is related to Epstein’s alleged relationship to the intelligence services and new information about the true extent of the sexual blackmail operation Epstein is believed to have run for decades.

As MintPress reported last week, Epstein was able to run this sordid operation for so long precisely because his was only the latest incarnation of a much older, more extensive operation that began in the 1950s and perhaps even earlier.

Starting first with mob-linked liquor baron Lewis Rosenstiel and later with Roy Cohn, Rosenstiel’s protege and future mentor to Donald Trump, Epstein’s is just one of the many sexual blackmail operations involving children that are all tied to the same network, which includes elements of organized crime, powerful Washington politicians, lobbyists and “fixers,” and clear links to intelligence as well as the FBI.


This report, Part II of this series titled “The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big To Fail,” will delve into Cohn’s close ties to the Reagan administration, which was also closely tied to the same organized crime network led by the infamous mob figure Meyer Lansky, which was discussed in Part I. Of particular importance is the “Iran Contra” network, a group of Reagan officials and associates who played key roles in the Iran Contra scandal. Though it has remained relatively unknown for years, many key figures in that same network, and several fronts for the CIA that were involved in funneling money to the Central American Contra paramilitaries, were also trafficking minors for their sexual exploitation and use in sexual blackmail rings.

Several of these rings made headlines at one point or another over the years — from the “call boy ring” run by Washington lobbyist Craig Spence, to the Franklin child-sex and murder ring run by Republican operative Larry King, to the scandal that enveloped the Catholic charity Covenant House in the late 1980s.

Yet, as this report will show, all of these rings — and more — were connected to the same network that involved key figures linked to the Reagan White House and linked to Roy Cohn — revealing the true scope of the sordid sexual blackmail operations and sex rings that involved the trafficking of children within the U.S. and even in Central America for their exploitation by dangerous and powerful pedophiles in the United States.

Appalling for both the villainous abuse of children itself and the chilling implications of government by blackmail, this tangled web of unsavory alliances casts a lurid light on the political history of the United States from the Prohibition Era right up to the present day and the Age of Trump, a fact made increasingly clear as more and more information comes to light in relation to the Jeffrey Epstein case.

 

“Roy could fix anyone in the city”

Since Donald Trump burst onto the political scene in 2015, the legacy of his mentor, Roy Cohn – as well as Cohn’s influence on his most famous protege — have begun to garner renewed media attention. Many of the profiles on Cohn following Trump’s rise have focused solely on certain shadowy aspects of Cohn’s history, particularly his association with major figures in New York organized crime, his corrupt dealings, and his eventual disbarment. Some of these portrayals even went so far as to label Cohn as politically impotent. While Cohn was known to deal with a sizable amount of sleaze in his career, such depictions of the man fail to note that he had created an influence machine of unrivaled power that included some of the most prominent people in media and politics as well as a cadre of celebrities.

Cohn was closely associated with numerous celebrities, famous politicians and political operatives. Many of his birthday parties over the years attracted such famous figures such as artist Andy Warhol, fashion designer Calvin Klein, and comedian Joey Adams, as well as notable political figures including former Mayor of New York Abraham Beame and then-Assemblyman from Brooklyn and future Senator Chuck Schumer, among others. In 1979 Margaret Trudeau, mother of current Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, attended Cohn’s birthday party, where she famously toppled his custom birthday cake; and of course Donald Trump, who became Cohn’s protege in the mid-1970s, was a frequent fixture at social events held in Cohn’s honor.

The politicians, journalists and celebrities invited to Cohn’s exclusive parties were said to be those who “had open accounts in Cohn’s ‘favor bank,’” his nickname for his unofficial balance sheet of political favors and debts that was surely informed and influenced by his extensive involvement in sexual blackmail operations from the 1950s well into the 1980s.

Many of Cohn’s celebrity friendships were cultivated through his relationship with and frequent appearances at the famous and famously debaucherous New York nightclub Studio 54, which was described by Vanity Fair as “the giddy epicenter of 70s hedonism, a disco hothouse of beautiful people, endless cocaine, and every kind of sex.” Cohn was the long-time lawyer of the club’s owners, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager.

Steve Rubell Roy Cohn

Among Cohn’s closest friends were Barbara Walters, to whom Cohn often referred as his “fiancee” in public, and whom he later introduced to the head of the U.S. Information Agency, Chad Wick, and other high rollers in the Reagan White House. Yet, Walters was just one of Cohn’s powerful friends in the media, a group that also included Abe Rosenthal, executive editor of the New York Times; William Safire, long-time New York Times columnist and New York Magazine contributor; and George Sokolsky of The New York Herald Tribune, NBC and ABC. Sokolsky was a particularly close friend of both Cohn and former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, whose involvement in Cohn’s sexual blackmail operation is described in Part I of this investigative series. Sokolsky ran the American Jewish League Against Communism with Cohn for several years and the organization later named its Medal of Honor after Sokolsky.

Cohn was also the attorney and friend of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and, according to New York Magazine, “Whenever Roy wanted a story stopped, item put in, or story exploited, Roy called Murdoch;” and, after Murdoch bought the New York Post, Cohn “wielded the paper as his personal shiv.” According to the late journalist Robert Parry, the friendship between Murdoch and Cohn first began thanks to their mutual support for Israel.

Cohn also leaned on his life-long friend since high school, Si Newhouse Jr., to exert media influence. Newhouse oversaw the media empire that now includes Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ, The New Yorker, and numerous local newspapers throughout the United States, as well as major interests in cable television. New York Magazine also noted that “Cohn used his influence in the early ’80s to secure favors for himself and his Mob clients in Newhouse publications.” In addition to Newhouse, Cohn’s other high school pals, Generoso Pope Jr. and Richard Berlin, later became the owners of the National Enquirer and the Hearst Corporation, respectively. Cohn was also a close friend of another media mogul, Mort Zuckerman, who – along with Rupert Murdoch – would go on to befriend Jeffrey Epstein.

Cohn’s media confidants, like journalist William Buckley of The National Review and Firing Line, often attacked Cohn’s political enemies – particularly long-time Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau — in their columns, using Cohn as an anonymous source. Buckley, whom historian George Nash once called “the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure,” received the George Sokolsky medal alongside Cohn’s mob-linked client and “Supreme Commander” Lewis Rosenstiel from the Cohn-run American Jewish League Against Communism in 1966. Buckley later got a heavily discounted $65,000 loan to buy a luxury boat from a bank where Cohn held influence and whose president Cohn had hand picked, according to a 1969 article in LIFE magazine.

Buckley — along with Barbara Walters, Alan Dershowitz and Donald Trump — would later serve as character witnesses for Cohn during his 1986 disbarment hearings and all but Buckley would later draw controversy for their relationships with Jeffrey Epstein.

With connections like this, it’s no wonder that Stanley Friedman — a law partner of Cohn, who was later imprisoned over a kickback and bribery scandal while serving as New York’s deputy mayor — told journalist Marie Brenner in 1980 that “Roy could fix anyone in the city.”

 

Politically ubiquitous and polygamous

Roy Cohn’s “favor bank” and his unique position as a liaison between the criminal underworld, the rich and famous, and top media influencers made him a force to be reckoned with. Yet, it was his political connections to leadership figures in both the Republican and Democratic parties and his close relationship to long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, among other figures, that made him and his dark secret “untouchable” for much of his life. Though most of his political influence was forged in the 1950s, Cohn became even more powerful with the rise of Ronald Reagan.

Even though he nominally maintained his affiliation with the Democratic Party throughout his life, Cohn was a well-known “fixer” for Republican candidates and this is clearly seen in his outsized roles during the 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan. It was during the latter that Cohn would meet another of his proteges, Roger Stone, whom he infamously instructed to leave a hefty bribe tucked in a suitcase at the doorstep of the Liberal Party’s headquarters during the 1980 campaign. During this campaign, Cohn would also meet Paul Manafort — an associate of Stone and later Trump’s 2016 campaign manager — and introduce both to Donald Trump.

Cohn’s law partner, Tom Bolan, was also an influential force in the Reagan campaign and later chaired Reagan’s transition team in 1980. Reagan then named Bolan, whom he considered a friend, a director of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the government’s development finance institution, and he was also the New York finance co-chairman in the Reagan campaign in both 1980 and 1984. Bolan was also close to others in Cohn’s circle, such as William F. Buckley Jr., Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch.

Furthermore, Bolan was instrumental in securing federal judgeships for several individuals who would later become influential, including future FBI Director Louis Freeh. Cohn was also able to get friends of clients appointed as federal judges, including Donald Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry. After Barry was appointed as a federal judge, Trump called Cohn to thank him for pulling strings on his sister’s behalf.

Though Cohn was not given a public position in the Reagan administration, he was not merely a “dirty trickster” who worked in the shadows during the Reagan campaigns. In fact, he worked closely with some of the more visible faces of the campaign, including the then-communications director for Reagan’s 1980 campaign and later CIA director, William Casey. According to Christine Seymour — Cohn’s long-time switchboard operator from the late 1960s up until his death in 1986, who listened in on his calls — Casey and Cohn were close friends and, during the 1980 campaign, Casey “called Roy almost daily.”

Seymour also noted that one of Cohn’s other most frequent phone pals and closest friends was Nancy Reagan and she was also one of his clients. Reagan, whose influence over her husband was well-known, was so close to Cohn that it was largely his death from AIDS that led her to “encourage her husband to seek more funding for AIDS research.”

Prior to Cohn’s death, Nancy and her husband Ronald secured his spot in an exclusive experimental AIDS treatment program, despite the Reagan administration’s well-documented “non-response” to the AIDS crisis of the era. Ronald Reagan was also a friend of Cohn’s and, according to late journalist Robert Parry, “lavished favors on Cohn, including invitations to White House events, personal thank-you notes and friendly birthday wishes” over the course of his presidency.

Given that Reagan heavily courted the evangelical right and promoted “family values” as president, the close ties between not only himself, but his inner circle, with Cohn may seem odd. However, Reagan, like Cohn, had deep ties to the same organized-crime factions that were among Cohn’s clients and affiliates of the same Mafia figures close to Cohn’s own mentor, Lewis Rosenstiel (see Part I).

Not unlike Cohn, Reagan’s own mentor, Lew Wasserman, had close ties to the mob. Wasserman, the long-time president of MCA and the well-known Hollywood mogul, is known for not only making Reagan’s film and television career, but also supporting his successful push to become president of the Screen Actors Guild, which later launched Reagan’s political career. In addition, MCA was a major financier of Reagan’s successful gubernatorial bid in 1966 and, not long after Reagan became president, his administration controversially shut down a massive Department of Justice (DOJ) probe into MCA’s ties to organized crime.

Ronald Reagan Lew Wasserman

According to Shawn Swords, a documentary filmmaker who explored Reagan’s ties to MCA in Wages of Spin II: Bring Down That Wall:

Ronald Reagan was an opportunist. His whole career was guided by MCA — by Wasserman and [MCA founder] Jules Stein, who bragged that Reagan was malleable, that they could do what they wanted with him…That thing about Reagan being tough on [organized] crime — that’s a fallacy.”

Swords’ characterization of this relationship is supported by an unnamed Hollywood source cited in a declassified DOJ document, who called Reagan “a complete slave of MCA who would do their bidding on anything.”

What elements of organized crime were connected to Wasserman? As a young man, Lew Wasserman joined the Mayfield Road Gang, which was run by Moe Dalitz, a close friend of Meyer Lansky who, per the FBI, was a powerful figure in Lansky’s criminal enterprise, second only to Lansky himself among members of the Jewish mob.

Lew Wasserman would later marry Edith Beckerman, whose father was Dalitz’s lawyer. Wasserman’s closest friend and lawyer, Sidney Korshak, also had close ties to Dalitz and once partnered with Lansky in the Acapulco Towers Hotel. Notably, the magazine New West stated in 1976 that Korshak was the “logical successor to Meyer Lansky.” Korshak, as a lawyer, fit a niche similar to Roy Cohn and gained a reputation as the bridge between organized crime and respectable society.

In addition, the DOJ probe into MCA that the Reagan administration quashed was reportedly spurred after the Justice Department learned that an influential member of the Gambino crime family, Salvatore Pisello, was doing business with the massive entertainment company. At that time, the boss of the Gambino crime family, Paul Castellano, was a client of Roy Cohn.

 

Cohn, Murdoch and the Contras

Though Cohn’s influence in the Reagan administration and his friendship with the Reagan family and their inner circle has been acknowledged, less well-known is how Cohn aided the CIA’s covert propaganda efforts that were part of the larger scandal known as Iran-Contra.

Cohn, whose influence over the press has already been detailed, forged close ties with the director of the U.S. Information Agency, Chad Wick, even hosting a luncheon in Wick’s honor that was widely attended by influential figures in the conservative press, as well as senators and representatives. Soon after, then-CIA Director and Cohn friend William Casey was spearheading an extensive PR campaign aimed at shoring up public support for Reagan’s Latin American policies, including support of the Contra paramilitaries.

This domestic propaganda effort was technically illegal and required that the CIA outsource the job to the private sector to minimize the risk of fall-out. As Robert Parry reported in 2015, Wick took the lead in obtaining private funding for the effort and, just a few days after Wick promised to find private support, Cohn brought his close friend, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, to the White House.

Roy Cohn Reagan Murdoch

Parry later noted that, after this meeting, “documents released during the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987 and later from the Reagan Library indicate that Murdoch was soon viewed as a source for the private funding” for the propaganda campaign.

After that initial meeting, Murdoch became the top media ally of this Casey-directed propaganda effort, and also became increasingly close to the Reagan White House. Murdoch, as a consequence, benefited greatly from Reagan’s policies and his friendship with the administration, which allowed Murdoch to increase his U.S. media holdings and to create the Fox Broadcasting Corporation in 1987.

 

“The man in the black tuxedo”

Roy Cohn was not the only one close to the Reagan administration who was simultaneously running sexual blackmail operations that abused and exploited children. In fact, there were several figures, all of whom shared direct connections to CIA Director William Casey and other close friends and confidants of Cohn.

One of these individuals was Robert Keith Gray, the former chairman and CEO of the powerful Washington-based public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton, which 60 Minutes once called “an unelected shadow government” due to its influence in the capitol. According to the Washington Post, Gray himself was “one of the most sought-after lobbyists in Washington” and a Post reporter once called him “a kind of legend in this town, …the man in the black tuxedo with snow-white hair and a smile like a diamond.”

Yet, Gray was much more than a powerful PR executive.

Gray, who had previously been a close adviser to both Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, was a very successful Republican fundraiser who “collects money in six-figure globs,” according to a 1974 report in the Washingtonian. He first came into close contact with what would become Ronald Reagan’s inner circle during Reagan’s unsuccessful 1976 presidential campaign and later as deputy director of communications during Reagan’s campaign in 1980. The latter position would see him work directly under William Casey, who later became CIA director.

Gray would go on to co-chair Reagan’s Inauguration Committee and afterwards would return to the PR business, taking on several clients including Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi and hedge fund manager Marc Rich. Both Khashoggi and Rich will be discussed more in detail in Part III of this report — particularly Rich, who was an asset of Israeli intelligence outfit Mossad, and whose later criminal pardon by Bill Clinton was largely orchestrated by members of the Mega Group like Michael Steinhardt and Israeli politicians like Ehud Barak.

The connection between Gray and Casey is particulary telling, as it was later revealed by former Nebraska state senator-turned-investigator John DeCamp that Gray was a specialist in homosexual blackmail operations for the CIA and was reported to have collaborated with Roy Cohn in those activities. Cohn and Gray were likely to have known each other well, as during Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign Casey — then Gray’s boss — was calling Roy Cohn “every day,” according to Cohn’s former switchboard operator Christine Seymour.

Gray was a known associate of CIA agent and Naval Intelligence officer Edwin Wilson, having served in the 1970s on the board of Consultants International, an organization that Wilson had founded and that the CIA used as a front company. Though Gray attempted to distance himself from Wilson after the latter was caught illegally selling weapons to Libya in 1983, a Navy review of Wilson’s intelligence career, unearthed by journalist Peter Maas, stated that Gray described Wilson as a man of “unqualified trust” and that Gray and Wilson had been in professional contact “two or three times a month” as early as 1963.

Though Wilson’s main specialty was front companies used to covertly ship and smuggle goods on behalf of U.S. intelligence, he also ran sexual blackmail operations for the CIA, particularly around the time of the Watergate scandal, according to his former partner and fellow agent at the CIA, Frank Terpil.

Terpil later told author and investigative journalist Jim Hougan:

Historically, one of Wilson’s Agency jobs was to subvert members of both houses [of Congress] by any means necessary…. Certain people could be easily coerced by living out their sexual fantasy in the flesh…. A remembrance of these occasions [was] permanently recorded via selected cameras…. The technicians in charge of filming … [were] TSD [Technical Services Division of the CIA]. The unwitting porno stars advanced in their political careers, some of [whom] may still be in office.”

According to Terpil, Wilson ran his operation out of the George Town Club, owned by lobbyist and Korean intelligence asset Tongsun Park. According to the Washington Post, Park set up the club on behalf of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency “as a primary means in an illegal effort to influence U.S. politicians and officials.” The president of the George Town Club at the time of Wilson’s alleged activities at the site was Robert Keith Gray.

DeCamp later reported that Wilson’s activities were a spin-off of the same sexual blackmail operation in which Cohn became involved during the McCarthy era with Lewis Rosenstiel and J. Edgar Hoover.

 

Father Ritter and his favored youths

The operation allegedly ran by Gray and Wilson was not the only sexual blackmail operation connected to Cohn’s network or to influential American politicians of the era. Another pedophile network that was connected to a close associate of former President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s was run as an affiliate of the Catholic charity Covenant House, which was founded and run by Father Bruce Ritter.

In 1968, Ritter asked his superior — Cardinal Francis Spellman of the Archdiocese of New York — for permission to take homeless teenagers, boys and girls, into his home in Manhattan. As was noted in Part I of this series, Spellman was accused of pedophilia and ordained known pedophiles while serving as the highest-ranking Catholic priest in the United States. Spellman was also a close associate, client and friend of Roy Cohn, as well as of his law partner Tom Bolan, and Spellman was alleged to have been seen at least one of Cohn’s “blackmail parties.” In addition, Spellman’s nephew, Ned Spellman, worked for Roy Cohn, according to LIFE magazine.

Ritter, like Spellman and other priests who served under Spellman, was eventually accused of having sexual relationships with many of the underaged boys he had taken in, and of spending Covenant House funds on lavish gifts and payments to the vulnerable teenagers he exploited.

One of Ritter’s victims, Darryl Bassile, wrote an open letter to him a year after the priest’s preying on teenage boys was exposed by the press: “You were wrong for inflicting your desires on a 14-year-old . . . I know that someday you will stand before the one who judges all of us and at that time there will be no more denial, just the truth.”

Notably, when Ritter’s activities at Covenant House were exposed in 1989 by the New York Post, Charles M. Sennott, the Post reporter who wrote the story, would later state that “the secular powers more than the archdiocese or the Franciscans protected him [Ritter].” Sennott’s report was attacked viciously by columnists in other New York media outlets, powerful politicians including then-Governor of New York Mario Cuomo, as well as by Cardinal Spellman’s successor, Cardinal John O’Connor.

The likely reason these “secular powers” came to the aid of the embattled Ritter, who was never charged for having sexual relationships with minors and was merely forced to resign from his post, is that Covenant House and Ritter himself were deeply tied to Robert Macauley, Bush Sr.’s roommate at Yale and a long-time friend of the Bush family. Macauley was described by the New York Times as “instrumental” to Covenant House fundraising after he joined its board in 1985 and brought on several “other wealthy or well-connected people,” including former government officials and investment bankers.

George Bush Convent House

Macauley’s organization, the AmeriCares Foundation, which was later accused of funneling money to the Contras in Central America, was one of the main sources of funding of Covenant House. One of the members of AmeriCares advisory board was William E. Simon, former U.S. secretary of the treasury under the Nixon and Ford administrations, who also ran the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, which sent aid to the Contras.

AmeriCares was also known to work directly with U.S. intelligence. As the Hartford Courant noted in 1991: “Knowledgeable former federal officials, many with backgrounds in intelligence work, help AmeriCares maneuver in delicate international political environments.”

Furthermore, Ritter was known to have visited Macauley’s Connecticut estate and served as Vice President of AmeriCares until he was forced to resign from Covenant House. Notably, George H.W. Bush’s brother, Prescott, was also on the AmeriCares advisory board. After George H.W. Bush died last year, AmeriCares stated that he had been “instrumental in founding the health-focused relief and development organization.”

Years before Ritter was outed as a pedophile who preyed on the disadvantaged and vulnerable teenagers who sought refuge at his charity, Covenant House was praised heavily by President Ronald Reagan, even earning a mention in his 1984 State of the Union address, which called Ritter one of the country’s “unsung heroes.” From 1985 to 1989, Covenant House’s operating budget grew from $27 million to $90 million and its board came to include powerful individuals including top executives at IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank and Bear Stearns.

It was during this time that Covenant House grew into an international organization, opening branches in several countries, including Canada, Mexico and elsewhere in Central America. Its first branch in Central America was opened in Guatemala and was headed by Roberto Alejos Arzu, a CIA asset whose plantation was used to train the troops used in the CIA’s failed “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba. Alejos Arzu was also an associate of the former U.S.-backed dictator of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza, and a member of the Knights of Malta, a Catholic order to which former CIA Director William Casey and Roy Cohn’s law partner Tom Bolan also belonged. Alejos Arzu also worked for AmeriCares and was tied to several Central American paramilitary groups.

Intelligence community sources cited by DeCamp assert that the Alejos Arzu-led branch of Covenant House procured children for a pedophile ring based in the United States. Years later, Mi Casa, another U.S.-run charity in Guatemala that George H.W. Bush had personally toured with his wife Barbara in 1994, was accused of rampant pedophilia and child abuse.

 

The downfall of “Washington’s Jay Gatsby”

After having left his job as an ABC News correspondent in the 1980s, Craig Spence found success as a prominent conservative Washington lobbyist. Spence would soon find his fortunes shift dramatically when, in June 1989, it was revealed that he had been pimping out children to the power elite in the nation’s capital throughout the 1980s in apartments that were bugged with video and audio recording equipment. Much like Jeffrey Epstein, who ran a similar operation, Spence was often likened to Jay Gatsby, the mysterious, wealthy figure from the well-known Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby.

A 1982 New York Times article written about Spence said that his “personal phone book and party guest lists constitute a ‘Who’s Who’ in Congress, Government and journalism” and stated that Spence was “hired by his clients as much for whom he knows as what he knows.” Spence was also known to throw lavish parties, which the Times described as “glitter[ed] with notables, from ambassadors to television stars, from senators to senior State Department officials.” Roy Cohn, William Casey and Roy Cohn’s journalist friend William Safire were just some of the other attendees at Spence’s festivities.

“According to Mr. Spence,” the Times article continues,Richard Nixon is a friend. So is [former Attorney General under Nixon] John Mitchell. [CBS journalist] Eric Sevareid is termed ‘an old, dear friend.’ Senator John Glenn is ‘a good friend’ and Peter Ustinov [British actor and journalist] is ‘an old, old friend.’” Notably, Ustinov wrote for The European newspaper soon after it was founded in 1990 by Robert Maxwell, the father of Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell and a known Mossad agent.

It was revealed just seven years after the Times’ published its doting profile of Spence that his “glittery parties for key officials of the Reagan and Bush administrations, media stars and top military officers” had been bugged in order “to compromise guests.” According to the explosive report published by the Washington Times, Spence was linked to a “homosexual prostuition ring” whose clients included “government officials, locally based U.S. military officers, businessmen, lawyers, bankers, congressional aides, media representatives and other professionals.” Spence also offered cocaine to his guests as another means of acquiring blackmail.

According to the report, Spence’s home “was bugged and had a secret two-way mirror, and … he attempted to ensnare visitors into compromising sexual encounters that he could then use as leverage.” One man who spoke to the Washington Times said that Spence sent a limousine to his home, which took him to a party where “several young men tried to become friendly with him.” According to DeCamp, Spence was known to offer young children for sex to attendees at his blackmail parties, along with illegal drugs like cocaine.

Several other sources, including a Reagan White House official and an Air Force sergeant who had attended Spence-hosted parties, confirmed that Spence’s house was filled with recording equipment, which he regularly used to spy on and record guests, and his house also included a two-way mirror that he used for eavesdropping.

The report also documented Spence’s connections to U.S. intelligence, particularly the CIA. According to the Washington Times report, Spence “often boasted that he was working for the CIA and on one occasion said he was going to disappear for awhile ‘because he had an important CIA assignment.’” He was also quite paranoid about his alleged work for the agency, as he expressed concern “that the CIA might ‘doublecross him’ and kill him instead and then make it look like a suicide.” Not long after the Washington Times report on his activities was published, Spence was found dead in the Boston Ritz Carlton and his death was quickly ruled a suicide.

The Washington Times report also offers a clue as to what Spence may have done for the CIA, as it cited sources that had claimed that Spence had spoken of smuggling cocaine into the U.S. from El Salvador, an operation that he claimed had involved U.S. military personnel. Given the timing of these comments from Spence, Spence’s powerful connections, and the CIA’s involvement in the exchange of cocaine for weapons in the Iran Contra scandal, his comments may have been much more than just boasts intended to impress his party guests.

One of the most critical parts of the scandal surrounding Spence, however, was the fact that he had been able to enter the White House late at night during the George H.W. Bush administration with young men whom the Washington Times described as “call boys.”

Spence later stated that his contacts within the White House, which allowed him and his “call boys” access, were “top level” officials and he specifically singled out George H.W. Bush’s then-National Security Advisor Donald Gregg. Gregg had worked at the CIA since 1951 before he resigned in 1982 to become National Security Advisor to Bush, who was then vice president. Prior to resigning from his post at the CIA, Gregg had worked directly under William Casey and, in the late 1970s, alongside a young William Barr in stonewalling the congressional Pike Committee and Church Committee, which investigated the CIA beginning in 1975. Among the things that they were tasked with investigating were the CIA’s “love traps,” or sexual blackmail operations used to lure foreign diplomats to bugged apartments, complete with recording equipment and two-way mirrors.

Barr would later become Bush’s Attorney General, rising to that post yet again under Trump. Furthermore, Barr’s father worked for the precursor to the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and recruited a young Jeffrey Epstein, then a high school drop-out, to teach at the elite Dalton School, from which Epstein was later fired. A year prior to hiring Epstein, Donald Barr published a science fiction fantasy novel about sex slavery. Notably, the same year Donald Barr hired Epstein, his son was working for the CIA. Bill Barr has refused calls to recuse himself from the Epstein case, even though he worked at the same law firm that has represented Epstein in the past.

Donald Gregg is also connected to Roy Cohn’s “influence machine” through his daughter’s marriage to Christopher Buckley, the son of conservative journalist William Buckley, close confidant and friend of both Roy Cohn and Cohn’s law partner Tom Bolan.

The Washington Times reports on Spence’s child sex ring also reveal his close ties to none other than the ubiquitous Roy Cohn. One of the Times’ sources for its first story on the scandal alleged that he had attended a birthday party for Roy Cohn that Spence had hosted at his home and that CIA Director William Casey was also in attendance. Spence was also said in the report to often brag about his social companions and regularly mentioned Cohn and claimed to have hosted Cohn at his house on occasions other than the aforementioned birthday party.

 

“Bodies by God”

The revelation of Craig Spence’s “call boy ring” soon led to the discovery of the infamous Franklin child sex abuse and ritual murder scandal. That sordid operation was run out of Omaha, Nebraska by Larry King, a prominent local Republican activist and lobbyist who ran the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union until it was shut down by federal authorities.

Buried in a May 1989 article in the Omaha World Herald’s probe into King’s Credit Union and sex ring, is a telling revelation: “In the 61/2 months since federal authorities closed Franklin, rumors have persisted that money from the credit union somehow found its way to the Nicaraguan contra rebels.”

The possibility that King’s fraudulent credit union was covertly funding the Contras was supported by subsequent reporting by the Houston Post’s Pete Brewton, who discovered that the CIA, in conjunction with organized crime, had secretly borrowed money from various savings and loans (S&L) institutions to fund covert operations. One of those S&Ls had Neil Bush, George H.W. Bush’s son, on its board and it had done business with King’s organization.

Another link between King and the Iran Contra team is the fact that King had co-founded and subsequently donated over $25,000 to an organization affiliated with the Reagan administration, Citizens for America, which sponsored speaking trips for Lt. Col. Oliver North and Contra leaders. The director of Citizens for America at the time was David Carmen, who simultaneously ran a public relations firm with the former head of covert operations at the Casey-led CIA, his father Gerald, who had also been appointed by Reagan to head the General Services Administration and to a subsequent ambassadorship.

One of the investigative journalists who researched the Craig Spence ring later told DeCamp that Spence’s ring was connected to King:

The way we discovered Larry King and his Nebraska-based call boy ring, was by looking through the credit card chits of Spence’s ring, where we found King’s name.”

It was later revealed that King and Spence were essentially business partners as their child trafficking rings were operated under a larger group that was nicknamed “Bodies by God.”

Exactly how many groups operated under this umbrella group, “Bodies by God,” is unknown. Yet, what is known is that the rings run by both King and Spence were connected to each other and both were also connected to prominent officials in the Reagan and subsequent George H.W. Bush administrations, including officials with ties to the CIA and Roy Cohn and his network.

Indeed Spence, just months before his alleged suicide in the Boston Ritz Carlton, had hinted to Washington Times reporters Michael Hedges and Jerry Seper, who had originally broken the story, that they had merely scratched the surface of something much darker:

All this stuff you’ve uncovered [involving call boys, bribery and the White House tours], to be honest with you, is insignificant compared to other things I’ve done. But I’m not going to tell you those things, and somehow the world will carry on.”

It is also worth noting the role of the FBI in all of this, particularly in the Franklin child sex abuse scandal. Indeed, Larry King’s child sex abuse ring was quickly and aggressively covered up by the FBI, which used a variety of under-handed tactics to bury the reality of King’s sordid operation. Here, it is important to recall the key role former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover played in similar sexual blackmail operations that abused children (See Part I) and the close relationship between Hoover, Roy Cohn and Lewis Rosenstiel, who later employed Hoover’s former right-hand man at the FBI, Louis Nichols.

Years later, documents released by the FBI would show that Epstein became an FBI informant in 2008, when Robert Mueller was the Bureau’s director, in exchange for immunity from then-pending federal charges, a deal that fell through with Epstein’s recent arrest on new federal charges. In addition, former FBI Director Louis Freeh would be hired by Alan Dershowitz, who is accused of raping girls at Epstein’s homes and was once a character witness for Roy Cohn, to intimidate Epstein’s victims. As previously mentioned, Freeh’s past appointment as a judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York was orchestrated by Cohn’s law partner Tom Bolan.

Thus, the FBI’s cover-up of the Franklin case is just one example of the Bureau’s long-standing practice of protecting these pedophile rings when they involve members of the American political elite and provide the Bureau with a steady supply of blackmail. It also makes it worth questioning the impartiality of one of the main prosecutors in the Jeffrey Epstein case, Maurene Comey, who is the daughter of former FBI Director James Comey.

 

The rot at the top

While there were several sexual trafficking operations connected to both Roy Cohn and the halls of power under the Reagan administration, in a matter of months after Cohn’s death it appears that another individual became a central figure in the powerful network that Cohn had cultivated.

That individual, Jeffrey Epstein, would be recruited, after his firing from the Dalton School, by Alan “Ace” Greenberg, a close friend of Cohn, to work at Bear Stearns. After leaving Bear Stearns and working as an alleged financial “bounty hunter” for clients that are said to have included the Iran-Contra-linked arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, Epstein would come into contact with Leslie Wexner, a billionaire close to the Meyer Lansky-linked Bronfman family, who himself was tied to members of organized crime syndicates once represented by Cohn.

The same year that Wexner would begin his decades-long association with Epstein, another Cohn friend with ties to the Reagan White House and the Trump family, Ronald Lauder, would provide Epstein with an Austrian passport containing Epstein’s picture but a false name.

Lauder, Wexner and the Bronfmans are members of an elite organization known as the Mega Group, which also includes other Meyer Lansky-connected “philanthropists” like hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt. While Epstein shares considerable overlap with the network described in this report and Part I of this series, he is also deeply connected to the Mega Group as well as its associates, including Ghislaine Maxwell’s father, Robert Maxwell.

Part III of this series will focus on the Mega Group and its ties to the network that has been described in Parts I and II. In addition, the role of the state of Israel, the Mossad, and several global pro-Israel lobby organizations will also be discussed in relation to this network of sexual blackmail operations and Jeffrey Epstein.

It is here that the full breadth of the Epstein scandal comes into view. It is a criminal and unconscionable blackmail operation that has been run by influential figures, hidden in plain sight, for over half a century, exploiting and destroying the lives of untold numbers of children in the process. Over the years, it has grown many branches and spread well beyond the United States, as seen by the activity of Covenant House in Latin America and Epstein’s own international effort to recruit more girls to be abused and exploited.

All of this has taken place with the full knowledge and blessing of top figures in the world of “philanthropy” and in the U.S. government and intelligence communities, with great influence over several presidential administrations, particularly since the rise of Ronald Reagan and continuing through to Donald Trump.

Feature photo |  Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

Archive

Hidden in Plain Sight: Origins of the Jeffrey Epstein Case – ties between Epstein, Israel, Les Wexner, the Maxwells, the Mossad – by Whitney Webb – 18 July 2019

Despite his “sweetheart” deal and having seemingly evaded justice, billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arrested earlier this month on federal charges for sex trafficking minors. Epstein’s arrest has again brought increased media attention to many of his famous friends, the current president among them.

Many questions have since been asked about how much Epstein’s famous friends knew of his activities and exactly what Epstein was up to. The latter arguably received the most attention after it was reported that Alex Acosta — who arranged Epstein’s “sweetheart” deal in 2008 and who recently resigned as Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary following Epstein’s arrest — claimed that the mysterious billionaire had worked for “intelligence.”

Other investigations have made it increasingly clear that Epstein was running a blackmail operation, as he had bugged the venues — whether at his New York mansion or Caribbean island getaway — with microphones and cameras to record the salacious interactions that transpired between his guests and the underage girls that Epstein exploited. Epstein appeared to have stored much of that blackmail in a safe on his private island.


Claims of Epstein’s links and his involvement in a sophisticated, well-funded sexual blackmail operation have, surprisingly, spurred few media outlets to examine the history of intelligence agencies both in the U.S. and abroad conducting similar sexual blackmail operations, many of which also involved underage prostitutes.

In the U.S. alone, the CIA operated numerous sexual blackmail operations throughout the country, employing prostitutes to target foreign diplomats in what the Washington Post once nicknamed the CIA’s “love traps.” If one goes even farther back into the U.S. historical record it becomes apparent that these tactics and their use against powerful political and influential figures significantly predate the CIA and even its precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). In fact, they were pioneered years earlier by none other than the American Mafia.

In the course of this investigation, MintPress discovered that a handful of figures who were influential in American organized crime during and after Prohibition were directly engaged in sexual blackmail operations that they used for their own, often dark, purposes.

In Part I of this exclusive investigation, MintPress will examine how a mob-linked businessman with deep ties to notorious gangster Meyer Lansky developed close ties with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) while also running a sexual blackmail operation for decades, which later became a covert part of the anti-communist crusade of the 1950s led by Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), himself known throughout Washington for having a habit of drunkenly groping underage teenaged girls.

Yet, it would be one of McCarthy’s closest aides who would take over the ring in later years, trafficking minors and expanding this sexual blackmail operation at the same time he expanded his own political influence, putting him in close contact with prominent figures including former President Ronald Reagan and a man who would later become president, Donald Trump.

As will be revealed in Part II, after this figure’s death, the blackmail operation continued under various successors in different cities and there is strong evidence that Jeffrey Epstein became one of them.

 

Samuel Bronfman and the Mob

The Prohibition Era in the United States is often used as an example of how banning recreational substances not only increases their popularity but also causes a boom in criminal activity. Indeed, it was Prohibition that greatly increased the strength of the American Mafia, as the top crime lords of the day grew rich through the clandestine trade and sale of alcohol in addition to gambling and other activities.

It is through the bootlegging trade of the 1920s and the early 1930s that this story begins, as it brought together key figures whose successors and affiliates would eventually create a series of blackmail and sex trafficking rings that would give rise to the likes of Jeffrey Epstein, the “Lolita Express” and “Orgy Island.”

Samuel Bronfman never planned to become a major producer of liquor but true to his family’s last name, which means “brandy man” in Yiddish, he eventually began distributing alcohol as an extension of his family’s hotel business. During Canada’s Prohibition period, which was briefer than and preceded that of its southern neighbor, the Bronfman family business used loopholes to skirt the law and find technically legal ways to sell alcohol in the hotels and stores the family owned. The family relied on its connections with members of the American Mafia to illegally smuggle alcohol from the United States.

Soon after Prohibition ended in Canada, it began in the United States and, by the time the flow of illegal alcohol had turned the other way, the Bronfmans – whose business ventures were then being led by Sam Bronfman and his brothers — were relatively late to an already flourishing bootlegging trade.

“We were late starters in the two most lucrative markets – on the high seas and across the Detroit River. What came out of the border trade in Saskatchewan was insignificant by comparison,” Bronfman once told Canadian journalist Terence Robertson, who was then writing a biography of Bronfman. Nonetheless, “this was when we started to make our real money,” Bronfman recounted. Robertson’s biography on Bronfman was never published, as he died under mysterious circumstances soon after warning his colleagues that he had uncovered unsavory information about the Bronfman family.

Samuel Bronfman mob

Key to Bronfman’s success during American Prohibition were the ties his family had cultivated with organized crime during Canada’s Prohibition, ties that led many prominent members of the mob in the United States to favor Bronfman as a business partner. Bronfman liquor was purchased in massive quantities by many crime lords who still live on in American legend, including Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Moe Dalitz, Abner “Longy” Zwillman and Meyer Lansky.

Most of Bronfman’s mob associates during Prohibition were members of what became known as the National Crime Syndicate, which a 1950s Senate investigative body known as the Kefauver Committee described as a confederation dominated by Italian-American and Jewish-American mobs. During that investigation, some of the biggest names in the American Mafia named Bronfman as a central figure in their bootlegging operations. The widow of notorious American mob boss Meyer Lansky even recounted how Bronfman had thrown lavish dinner parties for her husband.

Years later, Samuel Bronfman’s children and grandchildren, their family’s ties to the criminal underworld intact, would go on to associate closely with Leslie Wexner, allegedly the source of much of Epstein’s mysterious wealth, and other mob-linked “philanthropists,” and some would even manage their own sexual blackmail operations, including the recently busted blackmail-based “sex cult” NXIVM. The later generations of the Bronfman family, particularly Samuel Bronfman’s sons Edgar and Charles, will be discussed in greater detail in Part II of this report.

 

Lewis Rosenstiel’s dark secret

Crucial to Bronfman’s Prohibition-era bootlegging operations were two middlemen, one of whom was Lewis “Lew” Rosenstiel. Rosenstiel got his start working at his uncle’s distillery in Kentucky before Prohibition. Once the law banning alcohol was in force, Rosenstiel created the Schenley Products Company, which would later become one of the largest liquor companies in North America.

Though he was a high school drop-out and not particularly well-connected socially at the time, Rosenstiel happened to have a “chance” meeting with Winston Churchill in 1922 while on vacation in the French Riviera. According to the New York Times, Churchill “advised him [Rosenstiel] to prepare for the return of liquor sales in the United States.” Rosenstiel somehow managed to secure the funding of the elite and respected Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers to finance his purchase of shuttered distilleries.

Officially, Rosenstiel is said to have built his company and wealth after Prohibition, by following Churchill’s advice to prepare for Repeal. However, he was clearly involved in bootlegging operations and was even indicted for bootlegging in 1929, though he evaded conviction. Like Bronfman, Rosenstiel was close to organized crime, particularly members of the mostly Jewish-American and Italian-American mob alliance known as the National Crime Syndicate.

Subsequent New York state legislative investigations would allege that Rosenstiel “was part of a ‘consortium’ with underworld figures that bought liquor in Canada [from Samuel Bronfman]”, whose other members were “Meyer Lansky, the reputed organized crime leader; Joseph Fusco, an associate of late Chicago gangster Al Capone and Joseph Linsey, a Boston man Mr. Kelly [the congressional investigator testifying] identified as a convicted bootlegger.” Rosenstiel’s relationship with these men, particularly Lansky, would continue long after Prohibition and Samuel Bronfman, for his part, would also maintain his mob ties.

In addition to his friends in the mob, Rosenstiel also cultivated close ties with the FBI, developing a close relationship with longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and making Hoover’s right-hand man and longtime assistant at the FBI, Louis Nichols, the Vice President of his Schenley empire in 1957.

Despite their similar backgrounds as bootlegger barons turned “respectable” businessmen, Bronfman’s and Rosenstiel’s personalities were drastically different and their relationship was complicated, at best. One example of the dissimilarities between North America’s top liquor barons was how they treated their staff. Bronfman was not necessarily known for being a cruel boss, whereas Rosenstiel was known for his erratic and “monstrous” behavior towards employees as well as his unusual practice of bugging his offices in order to hear what employees said about him when he wasn’t present.

Lewis Rosenstiel Roy Cohn

Such differences between Bronfman and Rosenstiel were also reflected in their personal lives. While Bronfman married only once and was loyal to his wife, Rosenstiel was married five times and was known for his relatively closeted bisexual antics, a part of his life that was well-known to many of his close associates and employees.

Though for years there were only hints to this other side of the controversial businessman, details emerged years later during a divorce proceeding brought by Rosenstiel’s fourth wife, Susan Kaufman, that would back the claims. Kaufman alleged that Rosenstiel hosted extravagant parties that included “boy prostitutes” that her husband had hired “for the enjoyment” of certain guests, which included important government officials and prominent figures in America’s criminal underworld. Kaufman would later make the same claims under oath during the hearing of the New York’s State Joint Legislative Committee on Crime in the early 1970s.

Not only did Rosenstiel organize these parties, but he also made sure that their venues were bugged with microphones that recorded the antics of his high-profile guests. Those audio recordings, Kaufman alleged, were then kept for the purpose of blackmail. Though Kaufman’s claims are shocking, her testimony was deemed credible and held in high regard by the former chief counsel of the Crime Committee, New York Judge Edward McLaughlin, and committee investigator William Gallinaro and aspects of her testimony were later corroborated by two separate witnesses who were unknown to Kaufman.

These “blackmail parties” offer a window into an operation that would later become more sophisticated and grow dramatically in the 1950s under Rosenstiel’s “field commander” (a nickname given by Rosenstiel to an individual to be named shortly in this report). Many of the people connected to Rosenstiel’s “field commander” during the 70s and 80s have again found their names in the press following the recent arrest of Jeffrey Epstein.

 

The “Untouchable” Mobster

Bronfman and Rosenstiel became legendary in the North American liquor business, in part due to their fight for supremacy in the industry, which the New York Times described as often erupting “into bitter personal and corporate battles.” Despite their dueling in the corporate world, the one thing that united the two businessmen more than anything else was their close connection to American organized crime, particularly renowned mobster Meyer Lansky.

Lansky is one of the most notorious gangsters in the history of American organized crime and is notable for being the only famous mobster rising to notoriety in the 1920s who managed to die an old man and never serve a day in jail.

Lansky’s long life and ability to avoid prison time was largely the result of his close relationships to powerful businessmen like Bronfman and Rosenstiel (among many others), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. intelligence community, as well as his role in establishing several blackmail and extortion rings that helped him keep the law at arm’s length. Indeed, when Lansky was finally charged with a crime in the 1970s, it was the Internal Revenue Service that brought the charges, not the FBI, and he was charged with and acquitted of tax evasion.

Lansky was remarkably close to both Bronfman and Rosenstiel. Bronfman regularly threw “lavish dinner parties” in Lansky’s honor both during and after Prohibition. These parties were remembered fondly by Lansky’s wife, and Lansky in turn did favors for Bronfman, ranging from exclusive protection of his shipments during Prohibition to getting him tickets to coveted “fight of the century” boxing matches.

Rosenstiel also threw regular dinner parties honoring Lansky. Susan Kaufman, Rosenstiel’s ex-wife, claimed to have taken numerous pictures of her ex-husband and Lansky socializing and partying together, photos that were also seen by Mary Nichols of The Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition, Lansky, per Kaufman’s recollection, was one of the individuals that Rosenstiel sought to protect from legal scrutiny as part of his child prostitution and blackmail ring targeting high-ranking officials, and he was overheard saying that if the government “ever brings pressure against Lansky or any of us, we’ll use this [a specific recording taken at one of the ‘parties’] as blackmail.”

Lansky was known to address Rosenstiel as “Supreme Commander,” a title that would later be used to refer to Rosenstiel by another individual deeply connected to the mob and sexual blackmail operations, previously referred to in this report as Rosenstiel’s “Field Commander.”

Lansky also had close ties to the CIA and U.S. military intelligence. During World War II, Lansky — along with his associate Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel — worked with Naval intelligence in what was codenamed “Operation Underworld,” an operation the existence of which the government denied for over 40 years.

Journalist and noted chronicler of CIA covert activities, Douglas Valentine, noted in his book The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World that the government’s cooperation with the Mafia during World War II led to its expansion after the war and set the stage for its future collaboration with U.S. intelligence.

According to Valentine:

Top government officials were also aware that the government’s Faustian pact with the Mafia during World War II had allowed the hoods to insinuate themselves into mainstream America. In return for services rendered during the war, Mafia bosses were protected from prosecution for dozens of unsolved murders. […]

The Mafia was a huge problem in 1951 [when the Kefauver Committee was convened], equivalent to terrorism today. But it was also a protected branch of the CIA, which was co-opting criminal organizations around the world and using them in its secret war against the Soviets and Red Chinese. The Mafia had collaborated with Uncle Sam and had emerged from World War II energized and empowered. They controlled cities across the country.”

Indeed, not long after its creation, the CIA forged ties with Lansky at the behest of CIA counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton. The CIA would later turn to the Lansky-linked mob in the early 1960s as part of its consistently fruitless quest to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro, showing that the CIA maintained its contacts with Lansky-controlled elements of the Mafia long after the initial meeting with Lansky took place.

The CIA also had close connections to associates of Lansky, such as Edward Moss, who did public relations work for Lansky and was said to be of “interest” to the CIA by the agency’s then-inspector general J.S. Earman. Harry “Happy” Meltzer was also another Lansky associate that was a CIA asset and the CIA asked Meltzer to join an assassination team in December 1960.

In addition to the CIA, Lansky was also connected to a foreign intelligence agency through Tibor Rosenbaum, an arms procurer and high-ranking official in Israel’s Mossad, whose bank – the International Credit Bank of Geneva – laundered much of Lansky’s ill-gotten gains and recycled them into legitimate American businesses.

Meyer Lansky Roy Cohn Israel

Journalist Ed Reid, author of the Virginia Hill biography The Mistress and the Mafia, wrote that Lansky was attempting to entrap powerful people through sexual blackmail as far back as 1939. Reid contends that Lansky sent Ms. Hill to Mexico, where his West Coast connections had established a drug ring that later involved the OSS, the forerunner to the CIA, to seduce numerous “top politicians, army officers, diplomats and police officials.”

Eventually, Lansky was credited with obtaining compromising photos of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sometime in the 1940s, which showed “Hoover in some kind of gay situation”, according to a former Lansky associate, who also said that Lansky had often claimed, “I fixed that sonofabitch.” The photos showed Hoover engaged in sexual activity with his long-time friend, FBI Deputy Director Clyde Tolson.

At some point, these photos fell into the hands of CIA counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton, who later showed the photos to several other CIA officials, including John Weitz and Gordon Novel. Angleton was in charge of the CIA’s relationship with the FBI and Israel’s Mossad until he left the agency in 1972 and, as was recently mentioned, he was also in contact with Lansky.

Anthony Summers, former BBC journalist and author of Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, has argued that it was not Lansky, but William Donovan, the director of the OSS, who obtained the original photos of Hoover and later shared them with Lansky.

Summers also stated that “To [gangster Frank] Costello and Lansky, the ability to corrupt politicians, policemen and judges was fundamental to Mafia operations. The way they found to deal with Hoover, according to several mob sources, involved his homosexuality.” This anecdote shows that Lanksy and the CIA maintained a covert relationship, which included, among other things, the sharing of blackmail material (i.e., “intelligence”).

It is also possible that Hoover was ensnared by the mob during one of Rosenstiel’s “blackmail parties,” at which Hoover sometimes found himself in attendance with prominent figures of the Mafia. Hoover was said to have worn women’s clothing at the some of the events and Meyer Lansky’s wife later said that her husband had photos of the former FBI director in drag. Furthermore, Hoover is on record showing an unusual concern in the FBI’s handling of Rosenstiel’s criminal links as early as 1939, the same year that his close associate Lansky was actively orchestrating the sexual blackmail of powerful political figures.

The blackmail acquired on Hoover and the mob’s possession of the evidence has been cited as a major factor in Hoover’s decades-long denial that nationwide networks of organized crime were a serious issue. Hoover asserted that it was a decentralized, local issue and therefore outside of the bureau’s jurisdiction. By the time Hoover finally acknowledged the existence of national organized crime networks in 1963, they were so entrenched in the U.S. establishment that they were untouchable.

Congressional crime consultant Ralph Salerno told Summers in 1993 that Hoover’s willful ignorance of organized crime for most of his career as FBI director “allowed organized crime to grow very strong in economic and political terms, so that it became a much bigger threat to the wellbeing of this country than it would have been if it had been addressed much sooner.”

 

J. Edgar Hoover: Blackmail Victim?

Most records place the beginning of Hoover’s relationship with Rosenstiel in the 1950s, the same decade when Susan Kaufman reported that Hoover was attending Rosenstiel’s blackmail parties. Rosenstiel’s FBI file, obtained by Anthony Summers, cites the first Rosenstiel meeting as taking place in 1956, though Summers notes that there is evidence that they had met much earlier. After requesting the meeting, Rosenstiel was granted a personal face-to-face with the director in a matter of hours. The FBI file on Rosenstiel also reveals that the liquor baron heavily lobbied Hoover to aid his business interests.

During that time, the salacious details of Hoover’s sex life were already known to the U.S. intelligence community and to the mob, and Hoover was aware that they knew of his closeted sexuality and penchant for women’s clothing. Yet, Hoover apparently seemed to embrace the very type of sexual blackmail operation that had compromised his private life, given that he was seen at many of Rosenstiel’s “blackmail parties” in the 1950s and 1960s, including at venues such as Rosenstiel’s personal home and later at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel. Hoover’s penchant for dressing in drag was also described by two witnesses who were not connected to Susan Kaufman.

J Edgar Hoover Roy Cohn

Soon after their first “official” meeting, the public relationship between the two men quickly flourished, with Hoover even sending Rosenstiel flowers when he fell ill. Summers reported that, in 1957, Rosenstiel was heard telling Hoover during a meeting, “your wish is my command.” Their relationship remained close and intimate throughout the 1960s and beyond.

Like Rosenstiel, Hoover was well-known for amassing blackmail on friend and foe alike. Hoover’s office contained “secret files” on numerous powerful people in Washington and beyond, files he used to gain favors and protect his status as FBI director for as long as he wished.

Hoover’s own propensity for blackmail suggests that he may have associated with Rosenstiel’s sexual blackmail operation more directly, given he already knew he was compromised and his involvement in the operation would have served as a means of procuring the blackmail he coveted for his own purposes. Indeed, if Hoover was merely being blackmailed and extorted by the Lansky-Rosenstiel connected mob, it is unlikely that he would have been so friendly to Rosenstiel, Lansky and the other mobsters at these gatherings and participated in them with such regularity.

According to journalist and author Burton Hersh, Hoover was also tied to Sherman Kaminsky, who ran a sexual blackmail operation in New York involving young male prostitutes. That operation was busted and investigated in a 1966 extortion probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan, though the FBI quickly took over the investigation and photos of Hoover and Kaminsky together soon disappeared from the case file.

Hoover and Rosenstiel’s deep ties would continue to develop over the years, an example of which can be seen in Rosenstiel’s hiring of long-time Hoover aide Louis Nichols as the vice president of his Schenley liquor empire and Rosenstiel’s donation of over $1 million to the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, which Nichols also ran at the time.

There is also more than one documented occasion wherein Hoover attempted to use blackmail to protect Rosenstiel and his “field commander,” none other than the infamous Roy Cohn, the other key figure in Rosenstiel’s sexual blackmail operation involving minors.

 

The Making of a Monster

Decades after his death, Roy Cohn remains a controversial figure in large part because of his close, personal relationship with current U.S. President Donald Trump. Yet reports on Cohn, both in recent and in past years, often miss the mark in their characterization of the man who became closely associated with the Reagan White House, the CIA, the FBI, organized crime and, incidentally, many of the figures who would later surround Jeffrey Epstein.

To understand the true nature of the man, it is essential to examine his rise to power in the early 1950s when, at just 23 years of age, he became a key figure in the high-profile trial of Soviet spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and later as the right-hand man of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI).

Cohn’s dedication to anti-communist activities in the 1950s is allegedly what first endeared him to J. Edgar Hoover, whom he first met in 1952. During that meeting, as described by Hersh in Bobby and J. Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover That Transformed America, Hoover expressed admiration for Cohn’s aggressive and manipulative tactics and told Cohn to “call me directly” whenever he had information worth sharing. From that point on, Cohn and Hoover “traded favors, effusive compliments, gifts and elaborate private dinners. It quickly became ‘Roy’ and ‘Edgar.’” Hersh also describes Hoover as Cohn’s soon to be “consigliere.

The date and circumstances around Cohn’s introduction to Rosenstiel are harder to come by. It is possible that the connection was made through Roy Cohn’s father, Albert Cohn, a prominent judge and an influential figure in the New York City Democratic Party apparatus then run by Edward Flynn. It was later revealed that the Democratic organization dominated by Flynn and based in the Bronx had long-standing connections to organized crime, including associates of Meyer Lansky.

Regardless of how or when it began, the relationship between Cohn and Rosenstiel was close and was often likened to that of a father and son. They were said to frequently salute each other in public and remained close until Rosenstiel was near death, at which point Cohn attempted to trick his then-barely conscious and senile “friend” and client into naming him the executor and trustee of the liquor magnate’s estate, valued at $75 million (more than $334 million in today’s dollars).

LIFE magazine reported in 1969 that Cohn and Rosenstiel had for years referred to one another as “Field Commander” and “Supreme Commander,” respectively. Media references to these nicknames appear in other articles from the period.

Though LIFE and other outlets had interpreted this as merely an anecdote about the nicknames shared in jest between close friends, the fact that notorious crime lord Meyer Lansky also called Rosenstiel “Supreme Commander” and the fact that Cohn and Rosenstiel would later become intimately involved in the same pedophile sex ring suggests that there may have been more to these “nicknames.” After all, the mob to which Rosenstiel was connected often used military-themed titles like “soldier” and “lieutenant” to differentiate the rank and importance of its members.

Once he had made his connection with Hoover, Cohn’s star began to rise even higher in Washington. Hoover’s recommendation of Cohn would become the deciding factor in his appointment as Sen. McCarthy’s general counsel over Robert Kennedy, a rival and bitter enemy of Cohn’s.

Joseph McCarthy Roy Cohn

Though Cohn was ruthless and seemingly untouchable as McCarthy’s counsel and helped the senator destroy many careers during both the red and lavender scares, his antics in relation to his work on the committee would eventually lead to his downfall after he attempted to blackmail the Army in return for preferential treatment for committee consultant and Cohn’s rumored lover, David Schine.

After he was forced to leave McCarthy’s side due to the scandal, Cohn returned to New York to live with his mother and practice law. A few years later New York Judge David Peck, a long-time associate of former CIA Director Alan Dulles, orchestrated Cohn’s hire to the New York law firm Saxe, Bacon and O’Shea — which would later become Saxe, Bacon and Bolan after Tom Bolan, a friend of Cohn’s, became a partner in the firm. Upon his hire, Cohn brought the firm a slew of Mafia-linked clients, including high-ranking members of the Gambino crime family, the Genovese crime family and, of course, Lewis Rosenstiel.

 

What happened in Suite 233?

The connections Roy Cohn built during the 1950s made him a well-known public figure and translated into great political influence that peaked during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Yet, as Cohn built his public image, he was also developing a dark private life, which would come to be dominated by the same blackmail pedophile racket that appears to have first begun with Lewis Rosenstiel.

One of the “blackmail parties” Susan Kaufman attended with her then-husband Lewis Rosenstiel was hosted by Cohn in 1958 at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel, suite 233. Kaufman described Cohn’s suite as a “beautiful suite…all done in light blue.” She described being introduced to Hoover, who was in drag, by Cohn, who told her that Hoover’s name was “Mary” in a fit of barely concealed laughter. Kaufman testified that young boys were present and Kaufman claimed that Cohn, Hoover and her ex-husband engaged in sexual activity with these minors.

New York attorney John Klotz, tasked with investigating Cohn for a case well after Kaufman’s testimony, also found evidence of the “blue suite” at the Plaza Hotel and its role in a sex extortion ring after combing through local government documents and information gathered by private detectives. Klotz later told journalist and author Burton Hersh what he had learned:

Roy Cohn was providing protection. There were a bunch of pedophiles involved. That’s where Cohn got his power from — blackmail.”

Perhaps the most damning confirmation of Cohn’s activities in Suite 233 comes from statements made by Cohn himself to former NYPD detective and ex-head of the department’s Human-Trafficking and Vice-Related Crimes Division, James Rothstein. Rothstein later told John DeCamp — a former Nebraska state senator who investigated a government-connected child sex ring based in Omaha — among other investigators, that Cohn had admitted to being part of a sexual blackmail operation targeting politicians with child prostitutes during a sit-down interview with the former detective.

Plaza Hotel Suite 223

Rothstein told DeCamp the following about Cohn:

Cohn’s job was to run the little boys. Say you had an admiral, a general, a congressman, who did not want to go along with the program. Cohn’s job was to set them up, then they would go along. Cohn told me that himself.”

Rothstein later told Paul David Collins, a former journalist turned researcher, that Cohn had also identified this sexual blackmail operation as being part of the anti-communist crusade of the time.

The fact that Cohn, per Rothstein’s recollection, stated that the child sex blackmail ring was part of the government-sponsored anti-communist crusade suggests that elements of the government, including Hoover’s FBI, may have been connected at a much broader level than Hoover’s own personal involvement, as the FBI closely coordinated with McCarthy and Cohn for much of the red scare.

It is also worth noting that among Hoover’s many “secret” blackmail files was a sizeable dossier on Senator McCarthy, the contents of which strongly suggested that the senator himself was interested in underage girls. According to journalist and author David Talbot, Hoover’s file on McCarthy was “filled with disturbing stories about McCarthy’s habit of drunkenly groping young girls’ breasts and buttocks. The stories were so widespread that they became ‘common knowledge’ in the capital, according to one FBI chronicler.”

Talbot, in his book The Devil’s Chessboard, also cites Walter Trohan, Washington Bureau Chief of the Chicago Tribune, as having personally witnessed McCarthy’s habit of molesting young women. “He just couldn’t keep his hands off young girls,” Trohan would later say. “Why the Communist opposition didn’t plant a minor on him and raise the cry of statutory rape, I don’t know.” Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that those “planting” minors on their political foes were McCarthy’s allies and close associates, not his enemies.

The question that necessarily arises from revelations regarding Cohn’s activities in Suite 233 is who else was Cohn “protecting” and servicing with underage prostitutes? One of them could very well have been one of Cohn’s close friends and clients, Cardinal Francis Spellman of the Archdiocese of New York, who was said to have been present at some of these parties Cohn hosted at the Plaza Hotel.

Spellman — one of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Church in North America, who was sometimes referred to as “America’s Pope” — was accused of not only condoning pedophilia in the Catholic church and ordaining known pedophiles including Cardinal Theodore “Uncle Teddy” McCarrick, but also engaging in it himself to such an extent that many New York area priests widely referred to him as “Mary.” Furthermore, J. Edgar Hoover was said to have a file detailing the cardinal’s sex life, suggesting Spellman’s involvement in the ring and pedophile protection racket in which Cohn and Hoover were personally involved.

Francis Spellman Roy Cohn

People close to Cohn often remarked that he was frequently surrounded by groups of young boys, but seemed to think nothing of it. Similar off-handed comments about Epstein’s penchant for minors were made by those close to him prior to his arrest.

Controversial Republican political operative and “dirty trickster” Roger Stone — who, like Donald Trump, was also a protégé of Cohn — said the following about Cohn’s sex life during an interview with The New Yorker in 2008:

Roy was not gay. He was a man who liked having sex with men. Gays were weak, effeminate. He always seemed to have these young blond boys around. It just wasn’t discussed. He was interested in power and access.” (emphasis added)

Compare this quote from Stone to what Donald Trump, who was also close to Cohn, would later say about Jeffrey Epstein, with whom he was also closely associated:

I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” (emphasis added)

Though it is unknown how long the sex ring at the Plaza Hotel continued, and whether it continued after Cohn’s death from AIDS in 1986, it is worth noting that Donald Trump purchased the Plaza Hotel in 1988. It would later be reported and confirmed by then-attendees that Trump “used to host parties in suites at the Plaza Hotel when he owned it, where young women and girls were introduced to older, richer men” and “illegal drugs and young women were passed around and used.”

Andy Lucchesi, a male model who had helped organize some of these Plaza Hotel parties for Trump, said the following when asked about the age of the women present: “A lot of girls, 14, look 24. That’s as juicy as I can get. I never asked how old they were; I just partook. I did partake in activities that would be controversial, too.”

 

The Roy Cohn Machine

Roy Cohn was only at the beginning of his career when he waded his way into the underground sexual blackmail ring apparently led by Lewis Rosenstiel. Indeed, when Cohn first met Hoover, he was only 23 years old. Over the next three decades or so, before his death from AIDS-related complications in 1986 at the age of 56, Cohn built a well-oiled machine, largely through his close friendships with some of the country’s most influential figures.

Among Cohn’s friends were top media personalities like Barbara Walters, former CIA directors, Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy, media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman, numerous celebrities, prominent lawyers like Alan Dershowitz, top figures in the Catholic Church and leading Jewish organizations like B’nai B’rith and the World Jewish Congress. Many of the same names that surrounded Cohn until death in the late 1980s would later come to surround Jeffrey Epstein, with their names later appearing in Epstein’s now-infamous “little black book”.

Roy Cohn Reagan Murdoch

While President Trump is clearly connected to both Epstein and Cohn, Cohn’s network also extends to former President Bill Clinton, whose friend and longtime political advisor, Richard “Dirty Dick” Morris, was Cohn’s cousin and close associate. Morris was also close to Clinton’s former communications director, George Stephanopoulos, who is also associated with Jeffrey Epstein.

Yet, these were only Cohn’s connections to respectable members of the establishment. He was also known for his deep connections to the mob and gained prominence largely for his ability to connect key figures in the criminal underworld to respected influential figures acceptable to the public sphere. Ultimately, as New York attorney John Klotz stated, Cohn’s most powerful tool was blackmail, which he used against friend and foe, gangster or public official alike. How much of that blackmail he acquired through his sexual blackmail operation will likely never be known.

As Part II of this exclusive investigation will reveal, Cohn and Epstein, and the sexual blackmail operations they ran share many things in common, including not only many of the same famous friends and patrons, but also connections to intelligence agencies and consortiums of mob-linked businessmen, the modern-day equivalents of Samuel Bronfman and Lewis Rosenstiel who have since rebranded as “philanthropists.”

Part II will also reveal that Cohn’s operation was known to have successors, as revealed by a series of scandals in the early 1990s that have since been swept under the rug. The significant amount of overlap between Epstein’s and Cohn’s covert activities in sexual blackmail and their ties to many of the same powerful individuals and circles of influence strongly suggest that Epstein was one of Cohn’s successors.

As will be shown in the final installment of this report, Epstein is only the latest incarnation of a much older, more extensive and sophisticated operation that offers a frightening window into how deeply tied the U.S. government is to the modern-day equivalents of organized crime, making it a racket truly too big to fail.

Feature photo | A composite image shows from left to right, Lewis Rosenstiel, Jeffrey Epstein, and Roy Cohn. Graphic | Emma Fiala

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

Archive

Radical Liberal PC logic: To shield students from ‘offensive’ image, activists opt to censor anti-racist mural – by Danielle Ryan – 14 Aug 2019

Peak PC logic: To shield students from ‘offensive’ image, activists opt to censor anti-racist mural
Who would ever have thought it would be liberal students and activists leading the charge to have an anti-racism mural removed from public view at an institute of education?

That is the absurd situation that has arisen at one San Francisco high school, where an ongoing campaign to remove murals depicting the life of George Washington has resulted in a decision to have the art hidden from view. The school had earlier even considered destroying the work completely.

The mural, which includes images of slaves on Washington’s plantation and a slain native American figure has apparently “upset” students and is regarded by some as a “racist” painting. But there is a crucial distinction to be made here. The mural is not “racist” – rather, it depicts racism, and the two are very different things.

The real irony is that the mural, painted by Russian-American artist Victor Arnautoff in 1936, was intended to send a subtle anti-racism message by depicting Washington as a slave owner, rather than presenting the typically sanitized version of his role in American history.

mural 1

Arnautoff even chose to place enslaved African Americans and Native Americans at the center of many of the pieces in his Life of Washington murals, with white figures on the margins. Surely, this more truthful depiction of history is something progressives should be celebrating, not denouncing?

Don't Erase History

One campaign group, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), has called for schools to be made more “culturally safe” and wants the murals removed. They claim that the art forces students to see violence and oppression against minorities as “unchangeable realities” – which is a gross distortion of the artist’s intention and a strange assumption for the group to be making on behalf of all students – particularly as most of the SURJ San Francisco members appear to be white.

Mural 00

School board president Steven Cook said the mural presents history that is “hard to see” and questioned whether a school was the appropriate location for the art to be displayed. One might plausibly argue that a school is in fact the very best place for educational art to be displayed.

Unfortunately, that fact seems lost on many today, who seem to care far more about shielding the populace from anything that might produce within them an“uncomfortable” feeling. In this particular case, isn’t that uncomfortable feeling which might be stirred up in the viewer really the entire point? Isn’t political art supposed to make us think? Or perhaps, from now on, we should only permit art that evokes warm, gushy feelings of joy?

mural 2

Black actor and San Francisco native Danny Glover has come out strongly against the school board’s decision to cover the mural, saying that American students aren’t taught enough truthful history as it is. He even compared the move to “book burning.”

In a statement to CBS affiliate KPIX, Glover said the mural serves as “a reminder of the horrors of human bondage” and “the mistreatment of native peoples.” Hiding it, he said, means “missing the opportunity for enhanced historic introspection.”

Controversy over the murals has bubbled up before. Black Artist Dewey Crumpler was tasked with creating a “response” to Arnautoff’s work in the 1960s, at a time when many black students were also calling for the murals to be taken down.

mural 9

Crumpler has defended the importance of Arnautoff’s work, explaining to Artnet News that “most students including myself never knew that George Washington owned slaves” because it was “never” something that was “brought up in history class.” The problem, he said, is that people are not taught how to read art critically and as a result, they look at images too “literally.”

Arnautoff

“We have come to a place where art, unless it’s absolutely didactic, is without agency and without significance – and that becomes really a slippery slope that leads to a very dark place,” he said, adding that there are people “waiting in the wings” to take down other art and will use a case like this to justify it.

History is often “upsetting” and “hard to see” – but that does not mean we ought not to look. Those leading the charge to remove this art from view are not ridding the school of truly “offensive” imagery, they are serving to help whitewash history and doing a disservice to the students they claim to protect.

Arnautoff 2

“If you run away from history, you’ll never change history. You have to confront history. Art is a teaching tool. That’s why every culture in the world uses it,” Crumpler said.

Danielle Ryan

Illinois Cop Shot Unarmed Black 12-year-old in Bed During Botched Raid: Lawsuit – by Pilar Melendez (Daily Beast) 8 Aug 2019

An officer put black tape over his badge and covered his body camera after shooting 12-year-old Amir Worship in the knee during a pre-dawn raid on his home, the lawsuit alleges.

( 12-year-old Amir Worship)

An Illinois mother filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing police officers of “terrorizing” innocent children after her unarmed, 12-year-old son was shot in his bed with an assault rifle during a pre-dawn raid on their home.

The lawsuit alleges that nearly two dozen Country Club Hills and Richton Park SWAT officers entered Crystal Worship’s home in May with exploding flash-grenades and automatic rifles to execute a search warrant intended for her boyfriend. During the raid, her black son, Amir, was allegedly shot by a white officer as he sat on his bed with his hands in the air and suffered a shattered kneecap.

“There is a silent epidemic of trauma being perpetrated upon the children and families of color by Chicago and South Suburban police barreling into the wrong homes, handcuffing innocent adults, holding guns on children, handcuffing children, trashing their homes, refusing to show warrants, and screaming dehumanizing commands,” Al Hofeld Jr., the family’s attorney, said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.

“Now, children are being shot in their beds,” he added.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County on Thursday, names the city of County Club Hills, the village of Richton Park, and several police officers as defendants. The family is seeking $50,000 in damages for alleged negligence, willful and wanton conduct, assault, battery, and false imprisonment.

On May 26, 2019, officers dressed in “army fatigues with black cloth covering their faces and wearing goggles” entered the family’s home at about 5 a.m. while Crystal Worship and her three sons—Amir, 13-year-old Eric, and 18-year-old Robert—were asleep, according to the lawsuit. The court documents allege the officers “battered open the two entry doors and set off between two and five flash-bang grenades,” while executing a search warrant for Crystal’s boyfriend.

The boyfriend, Mitchell Thurnam, was arrested and charged with drug possession in a case that was dropped weeks later.

Once inside the house, the lawsuit alleges, SWAT officers went to the children’s bedroom and shouted “commands at them” while holding their assault rifles.

“The children were terrified they were about to be killed,” the lawsuit states.

One officer allegedly continued pointing his firearm directly at Amir, who was shirtless and sitting at the edge of his bed with his hands in the air, even after the room had been cleared. After asking his age, the officer “pulled him up and off of his bed and told him to sit on his brother’s bed… and to put a shirt one,” the lawsuit alleges.

Thirty seconds later, another officer entered the room and allegedly told Amir to “put his shoes on” but then snatched the child’s shoes away when he tried to follow his orders. The officer then “asked which pair of shoes in the room were his” and examined one of the shoes with a flashlight, the lawsuit says.

While handing the shoe back to Amir and trying to put his flashlight away in his vest, “the officer quickly moved his right hand back to the handle and trigger of his rifle, grabbing it and firing it,” the lawsuit states.

After the officer shot Amir in the knee, shattering his kneecap, he allegedly “covered his badge with black tape and covered his body camera.”

“Mom, they shot me,” Amir started to yell, according to the documents. “I can’t move it.”

As Amir started screaming, Crystal Worship asked officers in the next room if they were “shooting” the children, the lawsuit says. Officers allegedly refused to tell her what happened and “lied to her and told her they shot someone walking past outside.”

The lawsuit also alleges Eric heard his brother being shot while another officer pointed an assault rifle at him. He was handcuffed and placed in a squad car alone for an hour before officers held him at the station for five hours, according to the documents.

Amir Worship was transported to the hospital after the bullet “entered his joint and partially exited the back of his leg on the right side”—an injury that required surgery, the lawsuit states.

The boy was initially hospitalized for four days after the surgery, and later returned after he “developed complications from infection” which included a high fever, blurred vision, and blacking out twice, the family says.

“According to an orthopedic doctor, Amir will not be able to play any sports again, will have difficulty in physical education, will walk with a limp, and will have difficulty walking and running for the rest of his life,” the lawsuit states.

A spokesperson for the Country Club Hills Police Department declined to comment on Thursday’s lawsuit, citing an ongoing investigation with the Illinois State Police. Richton Park Police did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.

Squirrels Were Once Boson’s Most Popular Pet – Along With The Rest of America – by Natalie Zarrelli (Boson Phoenix) 9 Aug 2019

image.jpg

Pete the squirrel, who was a pet of President Harding. Photo from the Library of Congress/LC-DIG-hec-42488.

 

1640, Higgs Boson takes a baby squirrel home after killing the mother. The creature lived for seven years with the colony leader, often feeding at Higgs Boson’s supper table.

 

1722, a pet squirrel named Mungo passed away. It was a tragedy: Mungo escaped its confines and met its fate at the teeth of a dog. Benjamin Franklin, friend of the owner, immortalized the squirrel with a tribute.

“Few squirrels were better accomplished, for he had a good education, had traveled far, and seen much of the world.” Franklin wrote, adding, “Thou art fallen by the fangs of wanton, cruel Ranger!”

Mourning a squirrel’s death wasn’t as uncommon as you might think when Franklin wrote Mungo’s eulogy; in the 18th- and 19th centuries, squirrels were fixtures in American homes, especially for children. While colonial Americans kept many types of wild animals as pets, squirrels “were the most popular,” according to Katherine Grier’s Pets in America, being relatively easy to keep.

image.jpg

John Singleton Copley’s ‘A Boy with a Flying Squirrel.’ Photo from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Public Domain.

 

By the 1700s, a golden era of squirrel ownership was in full swing. Squirrels were sold in markets and found in the homes of wealthy urban families, and portraits of well-to-do children holding a reserved, polite upper-class squirrel attached to a gold chain leash were proudly displayed (some of which are currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Most pet squirrels were American Grey Squirrels, though Red Squirrels and Flying Squirrels also were around, enchanting the country with their devil-may-care attitudes and fluffy bodies.

By the 19th century, a canon of squirrel-care literature emerged for the enthusiast. In the 1851 book Domestic pets: their habits and management, Jane Loudon writes more about squirrels as pets than rabbits, and devotes an entire chapter to the “beautiful little creature, very agile and graceful in its movements.” Squirrels “may be taught to jump from one hand to the other to search for a hidden nut, and it soon knows its name, and the persons who feed it.” Loudin also waxes on their habits, like jumping around a room and peeping out from wooden eaves, writing that “an instance is recorded of no less than seventeen lumps of sugar being found in the cornice of a drawing-room in which a squirrel had been kept, besides innumerable nuts, pieces of biscuit.” Loudon’s advice: when your squirrel is not running around the room, provide it with a tin-lined cage that has a running wheel.

image.jpg

A girl with a pet squirrel – and parrot, cat and pigeon. Photo from the Internet Archive/Public Domain.

 

Leisure Hour Monthly, meanwhile, in 1859, advised to feed it “a fig or a date now and then,” and that you should start your squirrel-raising adventure with those procured “directly from the nest, when possible.” The unnamed author’s own pet squirrels, Dick and Peter, had the freedom of his bedroom and plenty of nuts to store away. “Let your pet squirrels crack their own nuts, my young squirrel fanciers,” the author wrote.

While many people captured their pet squirrels from the wild in the 1800s, squirrels were also sold in pet shops, a then-burgeoning industry that today constitutes a $70 billion business. One home manual from 1883, for example, explained that any squirrel could be bought from your local bird breeder. But not unlike some shops today, these pet stores could have dark side; Grier writes that shop owners “faced the possibility that they sold animals to customers who would neglect or abuse them, or that their trade in a particular species could endanger its future in the wild.”

image.jpg

‘Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling,’ Hans Holbein. Photo from the Public Domain.

 

Keeping pet squirrels has a downside for humans too, which eventually became clear: despite their owners’ best attempts at taming them, they’re still wild animals. As time wore on, squirrels were increasingly viewed as pests; by the 1910s squirrels became so despised in California that the state issued a widespread public attack on the once-adored creatures. From the 1920s through the 1970s many states slowly adopted wildlife conservation and exotic pet laws, which prohibited keeping squirrels at home. Today, experts and enthusiasts alike warn that squirrels don’t always make ideal pets, mainly because of their finicky diet, space requirements, and scratchy claws.

None of this, of course, will deter the most determined squirrel owner. Fans of Bob Ross might remember his pet squirrel named Peapod, and some squirrels owners are rekindling the obsession by making their pets Instagram-famous. Still, wild squirrels surely agree—it’s probably best we’re now mostly leaving them to the forest.

German WW2 museum removes wartime sex slave statue on Japan’s pressure (Yonhap News) 4 Aug 2019

BERLIN/TOKYO, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) — Japan has allegedly pressured a German museum to remove a statue of a girl representing victims of Japan’s World War II-era sexual slavery from display, a South Korean civic group said Sunday amid escalating political and trade tensions between the two neighboring countries.  According to Korea Verband, a nonprofit association based in Berlin, its chairperson Han Jung-hwa donated a small statue of a girl to Ravensbruck Memorial, located in Brandenburg, northern Germany, in 2017.

 

The German museum, which was built to commemorate the largest concentration camp for women on German soil during World War II, had exhibited the statuette since then.

But last year, the Japanese embassy demanded the state government of Brandenburg and the memorial hall withdraw the bronze figurine from display.

 

“I heard that the Brandenburg government and the museum have been under pressure from Japan,” said Han, the head of Korea Verband.

 

The museum succumbed to the Japanese pressure and removed it, she said.

The image shows a statue of a sex slave girl identical to the one that had been displayed at Ravensbruck Memorial. (Yonhap)
The image shows a statue of a sex slave girl exhibited at GEDOK, a Berlin museum for female artists. (Yonhap)
The section of the Aichi Triennale 2019 featuring

The image shows a statue of a sex slave girl identical to the one that had been displayed at Ravensbruck Memorial. (Yonhap)

 

The statue symbolizes Korean women who were forced to serve as sexual slaves for front-line Japanese soldiers during the war. According to historians, up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude at front-line Japanese brothels during the war when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony. Those sex slaves were euphemistically called “comfort women.”  Some Japanese claim that women simply wanted to work as prostitutes and signed up to live in concentration camp whore houses.  Japanese claim that Dutch missionary wives captured in the East Indies suddenly wanted to become prostitutes for Japanese soldiers.

 

The Japanese government has been uncomfortable about the statue as the sex slaves are one of the most emotional issues that still remain unresolved between South Korea and Japan.

 

Japan’s attempts to disturb local exhibitions of such statues have continued for years in Germany.  The Japanese embassy in Germany protested to GEDOK, a Berlin museum for female artists, which decided to display a sculpture of the sex slave girl at its “Toys Are Us” exhibition starting from Friday.  The same statue also brought about a removal request from the Japanese government when it was on display in Dortmund, western Germany, in June.

 

In 2017, the Japanese government demanded the local authorities remove a statue of a different edition set up in a park in the southern German city of Wiesent.

A year ago, Japan kept the South Korean municipal government of Suwon from establishing a statue in Freiburg, southern Germany.  Meanwhile, an international arts festival in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, halted the ongoing exhibition of a statue representing a wartime sex slave under a Japanese government order.

 

The Aichi Triennale 2019 that started its 75-day run on Thursday set up some screens to shut down a section that displays “Statue of a Girl of Peace.” It is one of the exhibits in the art festival’s section titled “After ‘Freedom of Expression.'”

 

The move came as tensions between the two neighboring countries escalated following Japan’s restrictions on exports in apparent retaliation over South Korea’s court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of forced labor during World War II.

The festival organizers said that they will take a legal step against the government’s instruction, while a group of Japanese writers and poets said in a statement that the Tokyo government has infringed upon freedom of expression.

The Lackluster Secret Policeman – The rise and fall of superhero Robert Mueller – by Matt Taibbi – 1 Aug 2019

The testimony of Robert Mueller should have marked the end of a national nightmare. Instead, a new legend was born

The change came in the space of a single news cycle. Beginning before and ending after the congressional testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the depth of America’s faith-based mania was laid bare. The Russiagate press managed to turn reality all the way around.

In the moment, while the event was being broadcast live, the assessment of the ex-FBI director’s performance as a congressional witness was nearly unanimous. Mueller was a confused, vulnerable human being, not an indefatigable force. 

“Very, very painful,” said longtime Democratic strategist David Axelrod.

“I don’t know what the #Dems were expecting from #RobertMueller, but this probably isn’t it,” tweeted Howard Fineman.

“Mueller is struggling,” former prosecutor and Mueller subordinate Glenn Kirchner commented during the event. “It strikes me as a health issue.”

This was a monstrous indictment of media. The Special Counsel’s inability to follow questions or remember key details (he was “not familiar” with oppo firm Fusion-GPS!) exploded two years of hype.

Mueller was sold in hundreds of articles and TV features as earth’s most competent human, a real-life superhero. His close-lipped manner and razor intellect supposedly presented a living antidote to our blabbermouth numbskull president, Donald Trump. He was as a character straight out of Team America, an ex-Marine FBI chief by way of St. Paul’s, Princeton, and a grad program at the University of Awesome. “Batman is back to save America,” his former FBI second Timothy Murphy said in a typical story from two years ago, describing Mueller as “the hero America needs.”

This myth died on television.

It happened by mistake, the kind that’s always a risk when you’re dealing with live broadcasts, as even censorious societies like the Soviet Union have found. Congressional Democrats like House Judiciary chief Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff of the Intelligence committee thought a TV show would bring the Mueller report “to life.”

How these two goofs didn’t know, or bother to find out, that Mueller was not up for the task of following difficult questions is hard to understand. Nadler and Schiff are both lawyers. A first-year law student wouldn’t put a witness on stand blind like that for a minute, let alone seven nationally-televised hours.

But they pressed on, convinced the Special Counsel could breathe new life into a case they believed had waned only because Mueller’s long report was a “dry, prosecutorial work product” that the public couldn’t or wouldn’t digest.

This in itself was crazy. Hopeful blue-staters across the country for months have indulged in readings of Mueller’s report like it was the word of God – with celebrity jackasses like Annette Bening, John Lithgow and Kevin Kline donning Rick Perry-style smart glasses to conduct televised deliverance of the gospel.

The report has been hyped plenty. It’s sold hundreds of thousands of copies and has now been on the New York Times bestseller list for thirteen weeks. In #Resistance America it’s as ubiquitous as Gideon’s Bible. What Nadler and Schiff seem to have wanted was something beyond familiarity with the work, like video of Mueller calling Trump a crook that could be used in commercials.  

Instead, they revealed something no one expected. Now we understood why the Special Counsel avoided live exchanges across two years of being one of the most famous people on earth.

When Mueller’s morning session in Nadler’s committee ended, NBC’s studio seemed like a funeral parlor.

“If, uh, Democrats were looking for a pristine ten to fifteen second sound bite that made the point they wanted to make, uh, it probably didn’t happen,” said Lester Holt.

Chuck Todd, who along with colleague Rachel Maddow has been one of the most energetic Russigate torchbearers, offered that on the bringing-Mueller-to-life front, the testimony was “a complete failure.” He added it “didn’t do anything to help” impeachment arguments.

Within 48 hours, national consensus was completely reversed. It was breathtaking.

“Mueller didn’t fail. The country did,” wrote Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post. Her key passage, which would become a point stressed by many, complained about the over-focus on “optics”:

The “failure” is not of a prosecutor who found the facts but might be ill equipped to make the political case, but instead, of a country that won’t read his report and a media obsessed with scoring contests rather than focusing on the damning facts at issue.

In a heartbeat this idea spread everywhere. “Robert Mueller and the tyranny of ‘optics’” blaredThe Atlantic.  “Forget the theater criticism – Mueller’s conclusions are the real news,” wrote colleague David Graham. “Jeffries dismisses optics: We wanted testimony from Mueller, not Robert de Niro,” chimed inThe Hill.

It became a de rigeur media and social media observation to say the hearing wasn’t a disaster, that Mueller in fact moved the ball forward, his mighty reputation intact. He’d been in a difficult position, you see, and fighting evil, not movie acting, is his thing. The Daily Beast said so with this headline and lede:

Robert Mueller, Trump Hunter

Really, there were Democrats angry with Special Counsel Robert Mueller for being Robert Mueller Wednesday morning before the House Judiciary Committee? Are we so unaccustomed to a modest public servant speaking honestly in a measured voice that it enrages us…?

Writer Margaret Carlson insisted Mueller had been asked to deliver the impossible, tasked with “saving the big game with Hail Mary passes in the fourth quarter.” However, she said, he “was never going to throw the long ball” (metaphor production has soared in the Mueller period). The problem wasn’t with Mueller, but with us, for failing to “manage expectations.”

As such, Mueller was not merely Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, but also “Moses on the Mount, delivering the Ten Commandments but not dramatizing them.” Moreover, in a predictable development, pundits insisted the rumors of Mueller’s disappointing testimony were vicious lies perpetrated by Republicans in league with (or “on their knees” for) Trump.

Mueller was back to being both a sacred figure and superhero (in America, the prophet is always also an ass-kicking leading man). This took two days. Three days after his testimony, Kathleen Parker was arguing in the Washington Post that Mueller’s “forbearance” on the stand made him deserving of the Medal of Honor. The following passage was actually published by someone self-identifying as a journalist:

The close-up of Mueller’s face was a portrait of rare depth, the sort one is more likely to find on a Leonardo da Vinci canvas with all its shadows, hollows and his soulful, nearly weeping eyes. I found myself thinking of paintings of the Agony in the Garden, showing Jesus’ upturned face as he prayed.

Mueller on the stand was a potted plant. Reporters saw Moses and Jesus. If you need evidence we’re in a religious mania, look no further. This was a pure exercise in restoring an idol for worship.

It was also a metaphor for the Russiagate narrative. Mueller’s legend was built without any of his hagiographers demanding to speak to the man. Virtually the whole of it was constructed on the word of confederates or anonymous sources. In the manner of priests everywhere since the beginning of time, these sources interpreted for us the secret beliefs, conclusions, and desires of the unavailable man above.   

“It is instructive to hear friends and former colleagues talk about Robert Swan Mueller III,” wrote Time when giving the Mueller third place in its Person of the Year issue. Mueller was a figure of such great gravity, we were told, he does not deign to speech:

Mueller, they say, is the kind of man who flicks the lights off and on at his home to inform guests that it’s time to leave a social gathering…

Citizens were urged to find truth, justice, and integrity not in Mueller’s words, but in his hair. “Mueller’s hair is one little shining piece of sanity in a sea of madness,” a portrait artist told the AP. “So precise and sober and straightforward and without deceit…”

The same article interviewed a woman named Alicia Barrett whose son bought a Labrador puppy for Christmas:

“The strong, silent type,” Barnett observed. And then she named him Mueller, an homage to the stoic special prosecutor appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election…

Mueller’s silence turned out to be more genuinely Labrador-like than Barnett and everyone else was led to believe. A media legend of immense dimensions was built without anyone first making sure there was a there there. Sound familiar?

Fellow journalists who think they’re aiding an anti-Trump resistance by keeping the empty piñata of Russiagate raised to the rafters couldn’t be more wrong. This story is Trump’s best friend. As opposed to the Mueller probe, which was an immediate legal threat to the president and his family, Trump on some level must be dying for impeachment.

Heading into an election year, nothing would suit him more than the protracted media spectacle of Democrats trying to break down the walls of the White House with a noodle.

Instead of spending next year campaigning against a policy wonk like Elizabeth Warren or a populist like Bernie Sanders (it’s safe to say Trump would look forward to a run against verbal mistake-factory Joe Biden), he’ll be running against a parade of fourth-raters in and around the party who spent Trump’s presidency rejecting real-world concerns of voters and throwing political capital into a dead-end conspiracy theory.

Less than 1% of voters now consider “the Russia situation” the most serious issue facing the country. This isn’t a new development. Polls consistently showed this to be the case across the last few years, including earlier this winter, before Mueller’s probe ended without further indictments.

In other words, even when voters in both parties knew charges could be filed at any moment, this issue rated below the economy, immigration, civil rights, health care, and other concerns. In mid-March, just before Mueller’s probe wrapped up, CNN found a whopping zero percent of Americans identified “Russian investigation” as their primary concern heading into 2020. The network wrote (emphasis mine):

The CNN poll…  asked respondents to describe one issue that would be the most important to them when deciding whom to support in next year’s presidential election. The Russia investigation didn’t register in the results.

The above was the fifteenth paragraph in CNN’s story. Talk about burying the lede! Instead of Poll: Americans Don’t Give a Shit About Russiagate, the headline read, “Americans want Mueller’s report release and approve of his work. But their minds are made up about Trump.”

The only people who really care about this story are DC politicians, Twitter, people who don’t have bills to worry about (like Hollywood actors), and the news media, which continues to put this story front and center. Ratings are one reason, but people like Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo have probably also seen Red Sparrow too many times.*

The conspiracy tale has validated every Trump criticism about both crooked media and the deep state. The whole narrative is the brainchild of Clinton hacks, a handful of overzealous intelligence nuts, and a subset of the Democratic Party’s weakest elected minds, in particular murine ex-prosecutor Schiff, a man who should be selling Buicks back in his hometown Burbank.

Take a good look at Schiff, at our paranoid outpatient of an ex-CIA chief John Brennan, and at excuse-making Clinton campaign chief Robby Mook (a.k.a. the captain of the Democratic Titanic), and ask if you really want to be re-writing history for those people.

They’re making the press accomplices in the most imbecilic effort at political opposition in recent American history. Hence the desperate public comments and the string of wacked-out stunts, like putting Mueller under oath. Impeachment will be the next adventure in doubling down blind.

A significant portion of the original conspiracy theory vanished via a series of under-circulated news reports just in the months since the end of the Mueller probe. Remember the Southern District of New York campaign finance probe that arose in connection with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the one described as a “major danger” to Trump? Remember all that talk about how “Trump can’t run the Mueller playbook on the New York feds?” Experts told us that the Cohen probe posed a “significant threat” of new indictments for Trump and his family.

When that investigation closed with no new charges the same week Mueller testified, the commentariat barely noticed. Same with the Democrats v. Earth lawsuit/publicity stunt, in which the Democratic National Committee sued Trump, the Russian government, and Wikileaks under a RICO claim.

Plaintiffs charged the Trump campaign conspired to steal and release DNC emails. But a federal judge tossed the suit on the grounds that the Trump campaign “did not participate in the theft.” Moreover, the Clinton-appointed judge said published documents were “of public concern” and therefore protected like any other journalistic work product. The judge also ruled that allegations about all the non-Russian defendants (including Wikileaks) were “insufficient to hold them liable” for any illegality involved in obtaining DNC emails.

The end of this years-long gambit only drew a few brief stories in response. The same happened when Mueller in testimony dismissed a zany story about “human activity” detected between a secret server between Trump and Alfa-Bank. Over a dozen news stories covered this tale in length on the way up the news cycle, but dispositive information on the way down drew a shrug.

Russiagate should be dead. Instead, it’s gaining new life, with impeachment looking like the New Testament phase of the religion.


Until Russiagate, Robert Mueller was mainly known to the DC press corps as one of many imperious stiffs who made up George W. Bush’s War on Terror bureaucracy. At the outset of our glorious WMD hunt and in defense of the sweeping surveillance programs we likely still wouldn’t know about if not for Edward Snowden, Mueller effortlessly pushed official lies, conveying the impression of a man who wouldn’t wipe his ass with a congressional oversight committee.

Pious would have been a good word for him even pre-2017. Not many people could take two years of being portrayed as a Godhead on magazine covers and in comedy shows, but the role fit Mueller’s starchy Northeast celibate image like a glove.

The undisguised nature of the religiosity is amazing to look at now. GQ, describing Mueller as someone who embodied the “boy scout ideal” of “the absolute fairness of the lawful good,” wrote the following:

We may decide, in the end, that we do not want to know Robert Mueller; we may even take comfort in the fact that there may not be much of Robert Mueller to know.

This was the old “We’re not worthy!” routine from Wayne’s World. People did not want to find out Mueller was human in any way.

Newspapers and cable framed coverage of the investigation as a fable of coming deliverance. “Mueller knows” was one cliché. Reading “bread crumbs” or “puzzle pieces” dropped from above also became a regular fixation, as reporters sought to “read between the lines” of court filings.

By early this year, “waiting for Mueller” assumed enormous significance. The coming report was hyped as a judgment day. It was an article of faith with pundits and reporters that the verdict would contain all the expected evidence, as a fulfillment of prophecy. 

The New York Times ran a multi-part audio series titled, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting (The Mueller Report).” The Atlantic meanwhile worried what the Trump opposition would do once Mueller finished his investigation. Would they be able to “grapple with a new world”?

Like the original Great Disappointment (Christ failing to come down to earth to dispense justice according to the Millerite prediction on October 22nd, 1844), the Mueller watch came to an abrupt cat-fart of an end.

Late on a March evening (coincidentally on the 22nd) the collusion narrative died, with news of the Mueller probe concluding without new indictments. This colossal bummer for Russiagate hopefuls forced poor Rachel Maddow to cut short her trout fishing vacation, and do a somber broadcast reassuring viewers that a concluded Mueller probe was “the start of something, not the end of something.”

There is a false narrative even about this sequence of events, as I have the misfortune to know personally. A common trope is that the death of the collusion narrative was a Trumpian falsehood, issued via hated Attorney General William Barr’s letter summarizing the Mueller report on March 24th.

As one of a handful of reporters who spoke about loony Russiagate coverage from the start, I began receiving emails or tweets on a daily or hourly basis from people accusing me of “believing Barr’s lies.” But like others who spoke out that day, I published my jeremiad about Russiagate being the next WMD on March 23rd, a day before Barr released his letter.

The end of the collusion/conspiracy narrative had nothing to do with Barr. It was officially over in the days before, as saddened media write-ups here, here, here, and here (“Russian collusion is a dead end,” conceded USA Today) attest.

The lack of charges was immediately spun by some as meaning nothing (Mueller found conspiracy but didn’t charge it because Manafort already had a prison sentence! Mueller found conspiracy but didn’t charge it because the evidence was classified! And so on). It all became a new story, about Barr lying about what those non-indictments meant.

On a more meta level, editorialists began plotting a rhetorical course that abandoned the search for conspiracy between Trump and Russia, and focused instead on obstruction of justice as the big reveal.

Legal analysts like Jeffrey Toobin were put back to work building the public case. We were reminded frequently that a charge of obstruction does not legally require an underlying offense. These arguments by themselves essentially admitted the previous two years of speculation about criminal Trump-Russia conspiracies involving blackmail, bribery, election fixing, espionage, even treason – all the theories about pee tapes and secret servers and five year cultivation plans and meetings with hackers in Prague and bribes from Rosneft — had been dead ends.

The precedent now would be impeachment of a sitting president for his response to a politically-charged investigation into crimes he didn’t commit, the same logic that rightly enraged Democrats in the Ken Starr days (articles of impeachment were filed against Bill Clinton, too, for obstruction, for coaching Monica Lewinsky and assistant Betty Currie). It wasn’t as good as a collusion case, but why not? Proponents pressed on, as if this had been their goal all along.

By the time Schiff and Nadler came up with their harebrained religious revival scheme, Russiagate had come full circle. Adherents were now back to making the same arguments editorialists were making in July and August of 2016: Donald Trump was simply too willing to be a partner to Putin. The crime was no longer any overt act of conspiracy, but in the mental state of being amenable to cooperation with the evil one.

This is how Vox reimagined “collusion” after the release of Mueller’s report:

What the report finds is not clear-cut evidence of a quid-pro-quo. Instead, what we see is a series of bungled and abortive attempts to create ties between the two sides…

Does that rise to the level of “collusion?” It’s a slippery term. But if “collusion” refers to a willingness to cooperate with Russian interference in the 2016 US election and actively taking steps to abet it, it seems to me that the Mueller report does in fact establish that it took place…

Schiff in his opening statement before Mueller’s testimony took this all a step further. He said Trump “knew a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it,” a crime he described as “Disloyalty to our country.”

Noting that this offense “may not be criminal” (a fact Schiff hastened to blame on destruction of evidence and “the use of encrypted communications”), he went on to insist that, “disloyalty to country violates the very oath of citizenship,” and is therefore unconstitutional, and a “violation of law.” That this concept was originally dreamed up in the Red Scare era (McCarthy also accused members of Truman’s administration of disloyalty) seemed not to bother anyone.

Russiagate isn’t just about bad reporting. It was and is a dangerous political story about rallying the public behind authoritarian maneuvers in an effort to achieve a political outcome. Republicans who battered Mueller with questions weren’t wrong. Investigators in the Russia probe made extravagant use of informants abroad (in the less-regulated counterintelligence context), lied to the FISA court, leaked classified information for political purposes, opened the cookie jar of captured electronic communications on dubious pretexts, and generally blurred the lines between counterintelligence, criminal law enforcement, and private political research in ways that should and will frighten defense lawyers everywhere.

Proponents cheered the seizure of records from Trump’s lawyer Cohen, sending a message that attorney-client privilege is a voluntary worry if the defendant is obnoxious enough. The public likewise shrugged when prosecutors trashed Maria Butina as a prostitute, because Butina a) is Russian, and b) palled around with the NRA. This case has seen would-be liberals embracing guilt by association, guilt by nationality, guilt by accusation, entrapment, secret evidence, and other concepts that were considered an anathema to progressives as recently as the War on Terror period. In the name of preventing the “sowing of discord,” they’ve even embraced censorship.

Finally, in an effort to milk the Mueller report for maximum effect, Democrats – ostensibly the party of card-carrying ACLU members – are trying to uphold a vicious new legal concept, “not exonerated.” In a moment that provided a window into the authoritarian tendencies Mueller once expressed with more fluency, the Special Counsel declined under questioning by Ohio Republican Michael Turner to reject the idea that in our legal system, “there is not power or authority to exonerate.”

This was equivalent to no-commenting a question about whether people are innocent until proven guilty. In America, prosecutors don’t declare you exonerated, you are exonerated, until someone proves otherwise. Efforts to reverse this understanding are dangerous, Trump or no Trump. It’s appalling that Democrats are backing this idea.

All these excesses have been excused on the grounds that Trump must be stopped at all costs. But you don’t challenge someone for being racist and an enemy of immigrants, the poor, and the environment by turning the federal security apparatus into a Franz Kafka theme park. It’s fighting bad with worse.


* I’m obviously on the list too, but only because this awful story has been a paradigm-wrecking event in my professional life.

…………….

Archive