When a little birdie dropped the End Game memo through my window, its content was so explosive, so sick and plain evil, I just couldn't believe it.
The Treasury official playing the bankers' secret End Game was Larry Summers. Today, Summers is Barack Obama's leading choice for Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the world's central bank. If the confidential memo is authentic, then Summers shouldn't be serving on the Fed, he should be serving hard time in some dungeon reserved for the criminally insane of the finance world.
The memo is authentic.
To get that confirmation, I would have to fly to Geneva and wangle a meeting with the Secretary General of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy. I did. Lamy, the Generalissimo of Globalization, told me,
"The WTO was not created as some dark cabal of multinationals secretly cooking plots against the people…. We don't have cigar-smoking, rich, crazy bankers negotiating."
Then I showed him the memo.
It begins with Summers’ flunky, Timothy Geithner, reminding his boss to call the then most powerful CEOs on the planet and get them to order their lobbyist armies to march:
"As we enter the end-game of the WTO financial services negotiations, I believe it would be a good idea for you to touch base with the CEOs…."
To avoid Summers having to call his office to get the phone numbers (which, under US law, would have to appear on public logs), Geithner listed their private lines. And here they are:
Goldman Sachs: John Corzine (212)902-8281
Merrill Lynch: David Kamanski (212)449-6868
Bank of America, David Coulter (415)622-2255
Citibank: John Reed (212)559-2732
Chase Manhattan: Walter Shipley (212)270-1380
Lamy was right: They don't smoke cigars. Go ahead and dial them. I did, and sure enough, got a cheery personal hello from Reed–cheery until I revealed I wasn't Larry Summers. (Note: The other numbers were swiftly disconnected. And Corzine can't be reached while he faces criminal charges.)
It's not the little cabal of confabs held by Summers and the banksters that's so troubling. The horror is in the purpose of the "end game" itself.
Let me explain:
The year was 1997. US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was pushing hard to de-regulate banks. That required, first, repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act to dismantle the barrier between commercial banks and investment banks. It was like replacing bank vaults with roulette wheels.
Second, the banks wanted the right to play a new high-risk game: "derivatives trading." JP Morgan alone would soon carry $88 trillion of these pseudo-securities on its books as "assets."
Deputy Treasury Secretary Summers (soon to replace Rubin as Secretary) body-blocked any attempt to control derivatives.
But what was the use of turning US banks into derivatives casinos if money would flee to nations with safer banking laws?
The answer conceived by the Big Bank Five: eliminate controls on banks in every nation on the planet – in one single move. It was as brilliant as it was insanely dangerous.
How could they pull off this mad caper? The bankers' and Summers' game was to use the Financial Services Agreement, an abstruse and benign addendum to the international trade agreements policed by the World Trade Organization.
Until the bankers began their play, the WTO agreements dealt simply with trade in goods–that is, my cars for your bananas. The new rules ginned-up by Summers and the banks would force all nations to accept trade in "bads" – toxic assets like financial derivatives.
Until the bankers' re-draft of the FSA, each nation controlled and chartered the banks within their own borders. The new rules of the game would force every nation to open their markets to Citibank, JP Morgan and their derivatives "products."
And all 156 nations in the WTO would have to smash down their own Glass-Steagall divisions between commercial savings banks and the investment banks that gamble with derivatives.
The job of turning the FSA into the bankers' battering ram was given to Geithner, who was named Ambassador to the World Trade Organization.
Bankers Go Bananas
Why in the world would any nation agree to let its banking system be boarded and seized by financial pirates like JP Morgan?
The answer, in the case of Ecuador, was bananas. Ecuador was truly a banana republic. The yellow fruit was that nation's life-and-death source of hard currency. If it refused to sign the new FSA, Ecuador could feed its bananas to the monkeys and go back into bankruptcy. Ecuador signed.
And so on–with every single nation bullied into signing.
Every nation but one, I should say. Brazil's new President, Inacio Lula da Silva, refused. In retaliation, Brazil was threatened with a virtual embargo of its products by the European Union's Trade Commissioner, one Peter Mandelson, according to another confidential memo I got my hands on. But Lula's refusenik stance paid off for Brazil which, alone among Western nations, survived and thrived during the 2007-9 bank crisis.
China signed–but got its pound of flesh in return. It opened its banking sector a crack in return for access and control of the US auto parts and other markets. (Swiftly, two million US jobs shifted to China.)
The new FSA pulled the lid off the Pandora's box of worldwide derivatives trade. Among the notorious transactions legalized: Goldman Sachs (where Treasury Secretary Rubin had been Co-Chairman) worked a secret euro-derivatives swap with Greece which, ultimately, destroyed that nation. Ecuador, its own banking sector de-regulated and demolished, exploded into riots. Argentina had to sell off its oil companies (to the Spanish) and water systems (to Enron) while its teachers hunted for food in garbage cans. Then, Bankers Gone Wild in the Eurozone dove head-first into derivatives pools without knowing how to swim–and the continent is now being sold off in tiny, cheap pieces to Germany.
Of course, it was not just threats that sold the FSA, but temptation as well. After all, every evil starts with one bite of an apple offered by a snake. The apple: The gleaming piles of lucre hidden in the FSA for local elites. The snake was named Larry.
Does all this evil and pain flow from a single memo? Of course not: the evil was The Game itself, as played by the banker clique. The memo only revealed their game-plan for checkmate.
And the memo reveals a lot about Summers and Obama.
While billions of sorry souls are still hurting from worldwide banker-made disaster, Rubin and Summers didn't do too badly. Rubin's deregulation of banks had permitted the creation of a financial monstrosity called "Citigroup." Within weeks of leaving office, Rubin was named director, then Chairman of Citigroup—which went bankrupt while managing to pay Rubin a total of $126 million.
Then Rubin took on another post: as key campaign benefactor to a young State Senator, Barack Obama. Only days after his election as President, Obama, at Rubin's insistence, gave Summers the odd post of US "Economics Tsar" and made Geithner his Tsarina (that is, Secretary of Treasury). In 2010, Summers gave up his royalist robes to return to "consulting" for Citibank and other creatures of bank deregulation whose payments have raised Summers' net worth by $31 million since the "end-game" memo.
That Obama would, at Robert Rubin's demand, now choose Summers to run the Federal Reserve Board means that, unfortunately, we are far from the end of the game.
In a moment of surprising clarity, Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid pointed out what is largely taboo in the financial industry - the truth. "Looking back, real GDP growth in the US through the latter half of the 2000s and the 2010s has been at the lowest levels since the cyclically scarred decades of the Great Depression and the First World War."
What is amusing, is the constant state of shock of supposedly serious people who are stunned that despite the Fed being constantly in the markets, and buying up trillions in securities, the US economy has not responded in a favorable manner. Of course, nobody has pointed out that if all it took to generate growth out of thin air without consequences was for the Fed to print, i.e., monetize debt, this would have started 100 years ago in 1913, and by now the US economy would be so advanced it would be colonizing Uranus. Logic, however, is not a Keynesian economist's best friend.
That said, the reasons surrounding the lack of US growth are secondary for the time being. A bigger question is what happens from here, now that even respected banks, and even ivory tower economists have admitted that QE has been a complete failure for the broader economy, and the common American, benefiting only the uber-wealthy. Which leads us to a different topic. Syria.
With much of the discussion behind the motives for the Syrian (at first, then coming to a city near you) war focusing on gas pipelines, chemical weapons, moral right, exceptionalism or the lack thereof, boosting deficit spending and permitting the untaper, one issue has been left unaddressed. Perhaps the most important one. Economic growth. Which is surprising, it is not as if the US has not found itself in a position in which its real economic output was far lower than its potential output.
For an uncanny historical analogue of the current economic predicament, we have to go back only 70 years or so back, to the time of the first Great Depression: that was the first and ostensibly last time, when the US economy was performing in a comparably subpar fashion to trendline.
So in an extreme (if logically forthcoming) scenario when the Fed's final proposed fallback strategy of "forward guidance" which is destined to replace QE now that tapering is on the table, were to fail, as many already suggest it will (just look at the BOE), the final solution for the US central bank is one - Nominal GDP Targetting, which stripped of its fancy title is really a euphemism for "print until you drop", or rather monetize securities and inject money without regard for inflation (paradropping bundles cash may well be allowed as Ben Bernanke would be happy to admit), with the only intention of promoting growth at any cost.
So here is what Deutsche has to say about this potential outcome:
There has been some debate about possibly targeting the level of NGDP and perhaps such a policy should get more airtime. Such a policy was first mooted in the late 1970s and by the late 1980s was offered as a possible successor to the money targeting of that decade. A NGDPT would embody two major changes from current policy. First the central bank would act to stabilise nominal GDP, rather than inflation, at some constantly increasing level. Second it would target the level of nominal GDP rather than its rate of change.
The special feature of NGDPT is this second distinction. Currently if a central bank aiming to hit a 2% annual inflation target were to undershoot and achieve only a 1% rate then when the next year came around, the central bank would have to enact monetary policy still with the aim of hitting a 2% inflation rate. It’s 1% miss the previous year is forgotten. With a level target if the central bank’s objective is to hit a level of NGDP 2% higher at the end of the year then at the start, and it achieved only a 1% increase, then in the next year it has to make up for lost ground and put in place expansionary policies to grow the nominal economy by an extra 1% on top of the +2% it would have been expected to hit anyway.
This demand to correct for past mistakes can have big implications down the road. Let’s continue with the above example of the central bank who undershoots by 1%. After 5 years (see Figure 90) the central bank would have to try to generate 7% nominal growth in the next year. After 10 years it would need 13% nominal growth. After 100 years the hapless undershooter would need to almost treble (x2.7 or +170%) the size of the nominal economy.
This last and rather extreme figure isn’t far away from where a nominal GDP targeting Fed would have found itself in 1933 (see Figure 91, LHS). If the Fed had been told to achieve a level of nominal GDP consistent with a 5%-a-year growth rate (the 1790-1929 average) after 1929 then by 1933, after 3 years of Depression, the Fed would have had to have generated 135% growth in 1934 to get back on “target”. As it turned out, the US economy managed to grow at an average of 13.5% a year over the next 10 years and was back on ‘target’ by 1944.
We'll get back to this key bolded sentence in a second, but first let's conduct a thought experiment of a world in which the Fed was expected to "catch up" to its trendline growth rate until the collapse of Lehman:
Fast forward to the end of 2012 and assuming the central bank was targeting a level of NGDP consistent with an increase post-2007 at its NGDP 1990- 2007 average growth rate of 4.7% (see Figure 91, RHS) then the central bank would need to ensure a 2013 growth rate of 18%. Assuming a more spaced out catch up rate of reducing the gap by 2% a year then the US economy would be back on track by 2019 (see Figure 92), requiring an average growth rate of 6.7% a year.
The key difference between a nominal GDP target and an inflation target is that central banks would, after a period of economic slowdown, be ready to accept a higher inflation level and/or (ideally) above-trend real GDP growth for a time to get the economy back on track. Inflation picking up to 3%, 4% or even 5% a year would no longer be viewed as a failure of the central bank. Indeed it would likely be a central aim of its policy as it seeks to eliminate the nominal GDP “gap”. For this reason adopting a Nominal GDP target would mark a fundamental change in monetary policy, far beyond what has so far been seen. Would it be a change for the better or for the worse?
Rhetorical questions aside, the problem with 5% or higher inflation, aka "central bank success" is now a non-starter for the simple reason highlighed earlier, namely that over the past five years the US has generated $1 of GDP for every $18 of debt, leading to a G7 debt/GDP of a mindboggling 440%, the function of $140 trillion in consolidated "developed world" debt .
And since inflation brings with it a comparable rise in rates, suddenly this mountain of debt would be forced to generate cash interest payments. As Deutsche Bank opined:
In an ultra low interest rate environment (short and long-term rates), it’s possible to carry this debt in a low growth environment but with little deleveraging taking place it creates a fragile environment that leaves these economies vulnerable to shocks and policy errors.
If rates were to rise notably from these ultra low levels, this could be just such a shock. This is why in spite of the recent sell-off, rates are likely to stay lower for longer as the alternative could be highly destabilising given the extreme debt burden being carried across large parts of the world.
In other words, targeting GDP for the sake of GDP, concerns about inflation aside, when soaring inflation would also lead to surging interest rates, has become impossible.
So what is the only possible way out left for a country in which monetary policy has failed on all fronts except to inflate asset prices to stratospheric levels, and yet the economy still refuses to budge? For the answer we go to Deutsche Bank one last time:
During the US Great Depression the huge declines in consumer and businesses confidence in the face of mass unemployment can be seen in the extremely and persistently low level of velocity.... As it turned out, the US economy managed to grow at an average
of 13.5% a year over the next 10 years and was back on ‘target’ by 1944.... Velocity also moved during the recovery from the Great Depression as the US war machine swung into action in the early 1940s.
In other words, at a time when the US was in almost an identical predicament and GDP catch up would have been impossible by any other means, what happened? World War. Luckily, for the US it generated unprecedented growth and cemented its status as the world's super power, and the USD as the reserve currency. Others were not so lucky.
Are we the only ones who suggest that the only outcome is a military one? No. Recall from Kyle Bass :
Trillions of dollars of debts will be restructured and millions of financially prudent savers will lose large percentages of their real purchasing power at exactly the wrong time in their lives. Again, the world will not end, but the social fabric of the profligate nations will be stretched and in some cases torn. Sadly, looking back through economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic entropy played to its logical conclusion. We believe that war is an inevitable consequence of the current global economic situation.
Which also means preconceived from the start. So despite a recent sense of detente in Syria, pay close attention: never since the cold war has the world been so close to the edge of a full-blown global military conflict. Whether or not the Syria "trigger" has been produced as the catalyst that will spark growth, or is merely a precursor to such an event is still unclear. However with every passing day, the US economy lags ever more behind its "trendline" and the common man gets left ever further behind the superclass of financial asset oligarchs, a state which the president opined recently was unacceptable. The question is whether millions of war casualties for the sake of yet another economic "golden age" aren't.
For the last few days we have been bombarded with words that appear 'peaceful' and problem-solving from Russia with love. Of course, 'no change' benefits mother Russia the most as his government's gas revenues (and political power) will continue to flow from Europe (a quarter of Russian government income comes from being Europe's gas supplier). So it will come as no surprise that amid the Mother Theresa acts, The Telegraph reports that Putin is readying delivery of more S-300 air-defense missile systems to Iran and will continue to discuss "working together in the nuclear energy spehere." Combine that with experts' views that Russia's plan to dismantle Syria's stockpiles of mustard gas, sarin, VX nerve agents is a long shot; initially "sounding attractive, but very quickly, operational problems could derail obtaining international control, much less actually destroying the arsenal." It would appear, despite all the chatter, that Putin is increasing his power-base in the region.
Iran-Aid (via The Telegraph),
President Hassan Rouhani is set to meet Putin on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation held in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, in the newly-elected centrist cleric's first meeting with a major world leader. The Kommersant business daily reported Wednesday that Putin will offer to supply Iran S-300 air defence missile systems as well as build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant.
The S-300 offer would be a particularly contentious development given it would essentially revive a contract for similar missile systems that Russia cancelled in 2010 after heavy Israeli and US pressure. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Kommersant thatPutin and Rowhani were expected to discuss "working together in the nuclear energy sphere" and "questions of military technical cooperation" at the summit in Bishkek.
Chemical Weapons Decomissioning ain't gonna happen (via WSJ). Of course, the practicalities of dismantling and storing these weapons is hugely problematic.
Carrying out Russia's plan to dismantle Syria's stockpiles of mustard gas and sarin and VX nerve agents is viewed as a long shot by many diplomats, top experts and current and former U.S. officials.
"The Russian proposal sounds attractive, but very quickly, operational problems could derail obtaining international control, much less actually destroying the arsenal," said Amy Smithson, an expert on chemical weapons at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, D.C.
Syria's chemical-weapons arsenal has been developed and stored in at least eight sites across the Arab country. Many of the missiles and artillery pieces are believed to have been moved since civil war broke out in 2011, according to current and former U.S. officials.
A U.S. official cast doubt about how any deal to strip Mr. Assad of his weapons could be verified. "That is a problem," the official said. "How verifiable does it need to be? Getting 50% or 60% of the chemical weapons is not good enough. We would have to get 90% to 95%."
Mr. Assad's arsenal is significantly larger than Col. Gadhafi's was. And many experts don't believe the Syrian leader intends to give up his weapons, in part, because his government is still at war.
"The Libyans basically decided to show us everything," said Ms. DeSutter. "I can't believe this will be the case with the Syrians."
and by way of background - why Putin will defend this side of the game... (via Golem XIV's blog),
Europe needs gas. Russia has it. Only Norway provides more gas to Europe (35% versus 34%). As Europe continues to rely more heavily on gas, as it will especially if Germany does phase out its nuclear reactors, then Russia will, unless something changes, become the number one supplier. Europe also depends on Russia for 27% of its oil imports, 24% of its coal imports, 30% of its Uranium imports and Russia is the third largest supplier of Europe’s electricity imports. (Figures are from Congressional Report – Europe’s Energy Security. Many thanks to reader Pamela Law for bringing it to my attention.) It is clear, Europe is dependent on Russia to keep the lights on.
That dependence and power is not, however, spread evenly. To understand who is dependent we need to see who imports how much and who from.
Using figures from 2012, Germany is the largest gas importer in Europe at 3065 billion cubic feet annually. Next is Italy with 2359 billion, then Britain with 1734, France with 1600 , then Spain with 1225 and Belgium with 1084 (half of which it uses itself and half it re-exports).
But this only gives you a partial picture because not all this gas comes from Russia. The chart below while a little confusing does give a clear general picture of who is dependent on Russia.
The lighter the colour the less reliant the country is upon Russia. The darker the colour therefore, the more power Russia has, potentially.
Spain, for example, though reliant on gas imports does not get its gas from Russia. Neither does Britain (at least not directly). While Austria, though its imports are small in volume, depends very heavily on Russia.
In fact the whole central block of Europe, from Greece and Cyprus in the South up to Germany and Belgium in the North depend on Russia. Austria is the most dependent of the ‘core’ nations. Austria’s weakness and Russia’s power were recently made very clear. Until recently Austria was going to be the European terminus of the newest Russian gas pipeline project – the Southstream. Southstream which is now under construction will run under the Black Sea into Bulgaria, pumping 2.2 Trillion Cubic feet of gas per year. To be the European terminus would have brought money and certain power to Austria. However, when the Russian gas giant, Gazprom’s purchase of a 50% stake in a the Central European Gas Hub (CEGH), which is in Austria, was blocked by the European Commission, Russia changed the terminus from Austria to Italy. Italy has traditionally had closer relations with Russia on energy. Divide and rule.
So much for the vulnerable.What about the powerful?
Germany is Europe’s paymaster and arguably its most powerful nation. However Germany also relies on Russia for 35% of its gas imports and is Russia’s largest client.
Russia has considerable power over Europe and has every reason to make sure it stays that way. No surprise therefore, that
Russia has not been idle when it comes to protecting its share of the European Natural Gas Market. Moscow, including the state controlled company Gazprom, has attempted to stymie, European-backed alternatives to pipelines it controls by proposing competing pipeline projects and attempting to co-opt European companies by offering them stakes in those and other projects.
It’s worth noting that Russia gets not only political power but also massive income from this arrangement. In 2011 Gas exports generated at least half of all Russian government revenue and half of that came from exports to Europe. Thus a full quarter of all Russia’s government income comes from being Europe’s gas supplier.
European nations have responded to this situation in different ways. Spain is lucky, it already imports most of its gas by pipeline from Algeria, so Russia has little leverage over Spain from gas sales at least. You might have thought Spain would join the US coalition against Syria and Russia. But then again Spain has little in the way of an armed force, so maybe not. Italy has a pipeline from Libya but hopes to remain the terminus for Russia’s South Stream pipeline. So no surprise Italy didn’t join the ‘bomb Syria’ chorus. Italy’s main energy concern recently has been to make sure that in a post Gaddafi Libya, Italy is still a preferred customer.
The UK has chosen to invest in LNG (Liquified Natuiral Gas as opposed to merely CNG, Compressed Natural Gas - the Russian pipeline variety). Britain is Europe’s leading importer of LNG, which you would have thought, might have given it considerable freedom from Russia. Must have been a surprise all round that GB didn’t join the USA.
France relies on Russian gas nearly as much as Italy does. However, unlike Italy, France has also been building LNG capacity like Britain. The largest supplier of LNG to Europe is Qatar.
For its part Germany has decided to get closer to Russia rather than diversity its supply. Germany supported the building of the Nord Stream pipeline which connects Germany directly to Russia via a pipeline under the Baltic. This direct connection means Germany is reliant on no third party’s relations with Russia. But those in Europe downstream do rely on Germany. This can only add to Germany’s pre-eminence.
Putting this together it seems clear to me we have most of Europe already considerably captured by their energy dependence upon Russia. Germany is not going to anger Russia because of Nord Stream and neither is Italy, because of South Stream.
(DaveHodges) – There are very dark storm clouds gathering around the country and North America as a whole. Things are about to get dark, very dark in just a few short weeks. In just over two months, on November 13-14, 2013, the lights are about to go out. Will the lights come back on? It depends on who you ask. Given the past behavior of those in power, it would behoove all of us to prepare for the fact that we could be living for an extended time with no electricity.
November’s North American Power Grid Takedown Drill
Within most false flag events lies a terror drill which substantively ties together the drill with the terrorist event. The 9/11 attacks and the 7/7 bombings serve as prime examples of hiding a false flag event within a terror drill. This strategy has worked very well before and on so many occasions that it would be naive to not expect this scenario to be played out again when the time is right and the anticipated maximum benefit can be realized from the event.
Along these lines of a coming false flag terror event, the New York Times is currently reporting that “thousands of utility workers, business executives, National Guard officers, F.B.I. anti-terrorism experts and officials from government agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico are preparing for an emergency drill in November that will simulate physical attack and cyber attacks that could take down large sections of the power grid.” To date, 150 businesses have volunteered to participate in the drill. This is a scheduled two-day drill commencing on November 13th.
The Past Is the Best Predictor of the Future
With the possibility that the upcoming terror drill will turn into a false flag event, it would be in everyone’s best interest to examine this event more closely and to prepare accordingly.
This government has recently left a trail of catastrophic doomsday scenarios a mile wide, the most severe of which speaks to an EMP attack. Many of whom are aware of the coming drill, fear an EMP attack which will permanently disable the grid as TV viewers have seen in the popular TV show, Revolution. Personally, I do not expect to see an all-encompassing EMP attack because so many of the police state surveillance grid assets would be impacted (e.g. surveillance cameras, NSA spy grid capabilities, etc.) and so many resources have been used in its development. Yet, given the unlikely event of an EMP attack, it seems that nearly everyone from former DHS director, Janet Napolitano to former CIA director, James Woolsey have discussed the possibility of a grid takedown through an EMP attack. Further, the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Commission in their, NERC PowerPoint presentation, stated that one of the possible outcomes of an attack will be a “prolonged blackout…”
Although I do not believe that an EMP attack is in our immediate future, it is likely that a false flag terror attack on our power grid, set to coincide with the November North American blackout drill, will take place.
The working scenario that has emerged is that World War III is on the horizon. Syria was to be the flash point. However, with American and international sentiment running so high against American involvement in the Syrian conflict, Obama needs a Plan B in order to get America into war, because it does not appear that Congress is going to give him the authorization that he needs to force our way in Syria culminating in a military stand-off between the Russians and the Chinese and the United States. Subsequently, if Obama fails to obtain Congressional support to attack Syria, he could very well turn his attention to the takedown of the power grid and he could still achieve his goals in under two months.
If and when the power grid is compromised, this would plunge North America into an abyss of darkness. Some people will undoubtedly anticipate “three days of darkness” which will lead to a roll-out of draconian martial law. Certainly, some of the recent government preparations speak to this possibility with FEMA stockpiling massive amounts of food and the acquisition of 2.6 billion rounds of ammunition by DHS. And with the roll-out of martial law, the will of the people and of Congress would no longer matter and Obama would be free to prosecute any conflict he would deem necessary. Personally, this would be an attractive option for Obama because he might very well be setting himself up to be King for life.
The Constitutional Kill Switch
I would then expect that the takedown of the grid, no matter how temporary, could lead to the imposition of total Federal tyranny and the implementation of the Constitutional kill switch, otherwise known as, Executive Order 13603, in which the government would control every resource in the country including the involuntary conscription of any person for any purpose which would be overseen by the Secretary of Labor. All food and water would be subject to Federal control, whether this would be your family garden, your food stockpiles…anything… anybody is subject to confiscation by FEMA and DHS under Executive Order 13603 which is martial law on steroids.This would give those in charge total control over the vast resources of this country.
First, there are some very serious implications which could result from a grid shutdown, but the cost-benefit analysis favoring the elite going through with this plot.
Just as the CIA backed al-Qaeda needed a game-changing even to bring in the US military to break the Syrian stalemate by staging a false flag chemical weapons attack, the globalists need a game-changing event in America. Taking down the grid is a move in that direction, and what better way to accomplish this goal than an embedded event within a terrorist drill.
Bankster Benefits to a Grid Shutdown
There are some tangible benefits to the banksters perpetrating a grid shutdown. In the aftermath of a grid shut down, a shut down that might only last a few days, the Internet would go down and the banksters could restore the Internet at some point with Chinese types of censorship controls which would effectively silence the truth movement. McCain at one time wanted offensive bloggers fined $300,000. Senator Jay Rockefeller stated that he wished the Internet had never been invented. Both men may soon get their way.
A power grid shut down would also allow for the full implementation of a North Korea type of police state apparatus under the guise of keeping order. The NSA would provide the intelligence and DHS would provide enforcement. And I think the beleaguered citizens of the United States would soon discover why FEMA signed the bilateral agreement which allows Russian troops on our soil. Certainly, if the Russians are used to supplement martial law, we could conclude that all the drama over Syria may be very well-orchestrated theater and that Russian and the United States are on the same side and are serving the same “Gnomes of Zurich” banksters. Yes, war could still happen between the two super powers, but it would be a contrived war, not a spontaneous event.
An additional benefit to conducting this drill is that it will allow the banksters to test their ability to shut down power to selected communities and/or regions. This would be a useful tool in combating the insurrection that surely will follow the tyranny of what is coming.
In a grid shutdown, the above developments are likely given the cast of players who are making the grand decisions impacting this country. However, a perpetual state of martial law, extreme Internet control and insurrection suppression through denial of power do not represent the final goals in this latest plot against our citizens.
It is completely understandable as to why some people are viewing this terror drill with extreme suspicion. Sometimes, when journalists cover events, they get a feeling for what lies ahead without fully knowing all the facts. I, too, like so many of my colleagues have that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach which is screaming at me that this terror drill will produce some very ominous spin-off complications. And as bad as the November 13th terror drill may be, I strongly fear that this event will have a second possibility which contains some very dire consequences in which the resulting effects will be much more devastating than just suffering through a prolonged blackout.
There is a strong possibility that there could be a false flag attack embedded within the false flag attack coming upon our grid and I will address that possibility in the next article in this series.
Dave is an award winning psychology, statistics and research professor, a college basketball coach, a mental health counselor, a political activist and writer who has published dozens of editorials and articles in several publications such as Freedoms Phoenix, News With Views and The Arizona Republic.
The Common Sense Show features a wide variety of important topics that range from the loss of constitutional liberties, to the subsequent implementation of a police state under world governance, to exploring the limits of human potential. The primary purpose of The Common Sense Show is to provide Americans with the tools necessary to reclaim both our individual and national sovereignty.
It is convenient that in a recent post covering the latest historic Verizon M&A deal we showed a spaghetti chart, created by the WSJ , of the US telecom space because it lays roughly how many current subscribers that other US telecom giant, AT&T, has.
The reason for this is that according to the latest revelations from the NYT, which following recent work-sharing with the Guardian is now another official distributor of the Edward Snowden leaks (who in a brilliant move has decided to spread out his disclosures week after week, many times allowing such staggered disclosures to catch the administration - which has no idea what is coming next - in flagrant lies), the chart above shows that 140 million landline and wireless paying AT&T customers is the minimum number of affected Americans whose every call is recorded, however not directly or indirectly by the government, but rather by a private corporation working in collaboration with the US government.
The name of the collaboration: the Hemisphere Project, fomerly Hudson Hawk .
"Minimum" because the number of affected American citizens is far greater than just AT&T customers. As the NYT reports , every call that crosses through an AT&T switch, not just calls made by AT&T customers which means virtually every US phone call, is recorded in a formerly top secret AT&T database that has existed since 1987 and whose "scale and longevity of data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act." It is a database which adds 4 billion call records every single day and which unlike the N.S.A.'s also includes information on the location of callers.
In other words, before the NSA was recording every phone call, that task was being handled by another entity: AT&T. The cover back then, just like the Patriot Act is the cover for the continuation of the NSA's espionage operation against America's own people, so Hemisphere was in collaboration with counternarcotics agents and federal and local drug officials. And of course, just like with the NSA and its utmost secrecy, there is no way to monitor and observe what if any checks on the violation of privacy rights exists. One can simply hope that unlike in every other instance, that US government officials never had an inkling to abuse this treasure trove of phone records for non-drug related offenses.
A snapshot of the "Project" from the NYT :
For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.
The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.
The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.
The scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act. The N.S.A. stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States, including phone numbers and time and duration of calls, for five years.
Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day, the slides say; technical specialists say a single call may generate more than one record. Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.
Not surprisingly, the secrecy surrounding Hemisphere is just as great as that around the NSA's covert surveillance:
The program was started in 2007, according to the slides, and has been carried out in great secrecy.
“All requestors are instructed to never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,” one slide says. A search of the Nexis database found no reference to the program in news reports or Congressional hearings.
The Obama administration acknowledged the extraordinary scale of the Hemisphere database and the unusual embedding of AT&T employees in government drug units in three states.
But they said the project, which has proved especially useful in finding criminals who discard cellphones frequently to thwart government tracking, employed routine investigative procedures used in criminal cases for decades and posed no novel privacy issues.
It's unknown for now how useful the project has proven when heartbroken "drug-enforcement" officials, or anyone else with access to the AT&T database for that matter, seek to find dirt on their exes. Like NSA agents for example .
What is known, at least on paper, is that unlike the FISA Court which decides what surveillance requests are granted (all of them), the inquirer in this case is the D.E.A., which submits a request to AT&T, which then scours through its trillions of records to find what the DEA is looking for.
Crucially, they said, the phone data is stored by AT&T, and not by the government as in the N.S.A. program. It is queried for phone numbers of interest mainly using what are called “administrative subpoenas,” those issued not by a grand jury or a judge but by a federal agency, in this case the D.E.A.
Brian Fallon, a Justice Department spokesman, said in a statement that “subpoenaing drug dealers’ phone records is a bread-and-butter tactic in the course of criminal investigations.”
Mr. Fallon said that “the records are maintained at all times by the phone company, not the government,” and that Hemisphere “simply streamlines the process of serving the subpoena to the phone company so law enforcement can quickly keep up with drug dealers when they switch phone numbers to try to avoid detection.”
In other words, more of the same justification: in order to find the needle, the US needs to record every component of the haystack going back decades. Or a blanket, pervasive wiretap of anyone and everyone, with the only gating factor being the DEA's decision to single out someone as a potential perpetrator, thus unlocking all of their personal phone records at a moments notice.
But Mr. Richman said the program at least touched on an unresolved Fourth Amendment question: whether mere government possession of huge amounts of private data, rather than its actual use, may trespass on the amendment’s requirement that searches be “reasonable.” Even though the data resides with AT&T, the deep interest and involvement of the government in its storage may raise constitutional issues, he said.
Immediately the logical question arises: if it is justifiable, and due to its vastness and complexity, certainly has a deterrent effect on would be criminals, why keep it secret? The ACLU has some thoughts:
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the 27-slide PowerPoint presentation, evidently updated this year to train AT&T employees for the program, “certainly raises profound privacy concerns.”
“I’d speculate that one reason for the secrecy of the program is that it would be very hard to justify it to the public or the courts,” he said.
Mr. Jaffer said that while the database remained in AT&T’s possession, “the integration of government agents into the process means there are serious Fourth Amendment concerns.”
That one probably falls under the "obvious" category. Just as obvious is the lack of willingness by AT&T, or its peers, to provide any additional information now that the Project has been exposed:
Mark A. Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T, declined to answer more than a dozen detailed questions, including ones about what percentage of phone calls made in the United States were covered by Hemisphere, the size of the Hemisphere database, whether the AT&T employees working on Hemisphere had security clearances and whether the company has conducted any legal review of the program
“While we cannot comment on any particular matter, we, like all other companies, must respond to valid subpoenas issued by law enforcement,” Mr. Siegel wrote in an e-mail.
Representatives from Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile all declined to comment on Sunday in response to questions about whether their companies were aware of Hemisphere or participated in that program or similar ones. A federal law enforcement official said that the Hemisphere Project was “singular” and that he knew of no comparable program involving other phone companies.
The good news: There are some alleged success stories (but once again, not preventing the Boston bombing).
In March 2013, for instance, Hemisphere found the new phone number and location of a man who impersonated a general at a San Diego Navy base and then ran over a Navy intelligence agent. A month earlier the program helped catch a South Carolina woman who had made a series of bomb threats.
And in Seattle in 2011, the document says, Hemisphere tracked drug dealers who were rotating prepaid phones, leading to the seizure of 136 kilos of cocaine and $2.2 million.
The bad news, in case it wasn't clear already: America is now officially an authoritarian state, in which personal privacy no longer exists in any capacity, in which the public-private complex collaborates against its citizens without express prior public knowledge or permission, and in which "some" have access to all private information merely "for the greater good." Naturally, any abuse of the greater good, is at the fault of the "isolated" perpetrator, not the enabling behemoth government which has George Orwell spinning in his grave.
In conclusion, and clarification when Obama said, "You can’t have 100% security, and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience”, what he really meant was "zero privacy" in perpetuity.
Submitted by Brandon Smith of Alt-Market blog,
For years now at Alt-Market (and Neithercorp.us) I have carefully outlined the most likely path of collapse to take place within the U.S., and a vital part of that analysis included economic destabilization caused by a loss of the dollar's world reserve status and petro-status. I have also always made clear that this fiscal crisis event would not occur in the midst of a political vacuum. The central banks and international financiers that created our ongoing and developing disaster are NOT going to allow the destruction of the American economy, the dollar, or global markets without a cover event designed to hide their culpability. They need something big. Something so big that the average citizen is overwhelmed with fear and confusion. A smoke and mirrors magic trick so raw and soul shattering it leaves the very population of the Earth mesmerized and helpless to understand the root of the nightmare before them. The elites need a fabricated Apocalypse.
I have been warning about the Syrian trigger point for a very long time. Syria's mutual defense pact with Iran, its strong ties to Russia, the Russian naval base off its coast, the advanced Russian weaponry in it's arsenal, its proximity to vulnerable oil shipping lanes, all make the nation a perfect catalyst for a global catastrophe. The civil war in Syria is already spreading into neighboring countries like Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, and if one looks at the facts objectively, the entire war is a product of covert action on the part of the U.S. and its allies.
The U.S. trained, armed, and funded the insurgency using Al Qaeda operatives. Saudi Arabia has sent funding and arms as well. Israel has aided the rebels using air strikes within Syria's borders (even though this means that the Israeli government is essentially helping their supposed mortal enemies). This war would NOT be taking place today without the express efforts of the West. Period.
If one takes more than a brief examination of the Syrian insurgency, they would find an organization of monsters. Wretched amoral wetwork ghouls whose crimes have been thoroughly documented, including the mass executions of unarmed captured soldiers, the torture and beheading of innocent civilians, the mutilation and cannibalism of dead bodies, and the institution of theological tyranny on a terrified populace. The U.S. created and unleashed these demons, and now, we the people are being asked by the White House to support them through force of arms.
But what is the goal here...?
The goal, I believe, is to utterly transform the world's political, economic, and social systems. The goal is to generate intense fear; fear that can be used as capital to buy, as the globalists call it, a “new world order”. Syria is the first domino in a long chain of calamities; what the Rand Corporation sometimes refers to as a “linchpin”. As I write this, the Obama Administration is moving naval and ground forces into position and clamoring in a painfully pathetic fashion to convince the American public that 90% of us are “wrong” and that a strike on Syria is, in fact, necessary. It appears that the establishment is dead set on starting this chain reaction and accelerating the global collapse. So, if a strike does occur, what can we expect to happen over the next few years? Here is a rundown...
1) Many U.S. allies will refrain from immediate participation in an attack on Syria. Obama will continue unilaterally (or with the continued support of Israel and Saudi Arabia), placing even more focus on the U.S. as the primary cause of the crisis.
2) Obama will attempt to mitigate public outcry by limiting attacks to missile strikes, but these strikes will be highly ineffective compared to previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
3) A no fly zone will be established, but the U.S. navy will seek to stay out of range of high grade Russian missile technology in the hands of Syria, and this will make response time to the Syrian Air Force more difficult. Expect much higher American naval and air force casualties compared to Iraq and Afghanistan.
4) Iran will immediately launch troops and arms in support of Syria. Syria will become a bewildering combat soup of various fighting forces battling on ideological terms, rather than over pure politics and borders. Battles will spread into other countries, covertly and overtly, much like during Vietnam.
5) Israel will probably be the first nation to send official ground troops into Syria (and likely Iran), citing a lack of effectiveness of U.S. airstrikes. American troops will follow soon after.
6) Iran will shut down the Straight of Hormuz sinking multiple freighters in the narrow shipping lane and aiming ocean skimming missiles at any boats trying to clear the wreckage. Oil exports through the straight of Hormuz will stop for months, cutting 20% of the world's oil supply overnight.
7) The Egyptian civil war, now underway but ignored by the mainstream, will explode due to increased anger over U.S. presence in Syria. The Suez Canal will become a dangerous shipping option for oil exporters. Many will opt to travel around the Horn of Africa, adding two weeks to shipping time and increasing the cost of the oil carried.
8) Saudi Arabia will see an uprising of insurgency that has been brewing under the surface for years.
9) Gasoline prices will skyrocket. I am predicting a 75%-100% increase in prices within two-three months of any strike on Syria.
10) Travel will become difficult if not impossible with high gasoline costs. What little of our economy was still thriving on vacation dollars will end. Home purchases will fall even further than before because of the extreme hike in travel expenses required for families to move.
11) Russia will threaten to limit or cut off all natural gas exports to the EU if they attempt to join with the U.S. in aggression against Syria. The EU will comply due to their dependency on Russian energy.
12) Russia will position naval forces in the Mediterranean to place pressure on the U.S. I feel the possibility of Russia initiating direct confrontation with the U.S. is limited, mainly because countries like Russia and China do not need to engage the U.S. through force of arms in order to strike a painful blow.
13) China and Russia will finally announce their decision to drop the dollar completely as the world reserve currency. A process which already began back in 2005, and which global banks have been fully aware of for years.
14) Because of China's position as the number one exporter and importer in the world, many nations will follow suit in dumping the dollar in bilateral trade. The dollar's value will implode. China, Russia, and the war in Syria will be blamed, and global banks including the Federal Reserve will be ignored as the true culprits.
15) The combination of high energy prices and a devaluing dollar will strike retail prices hard. Expect a doubling of prices on all goods. Look for many imported goods to begin disappearing from shelves.
16) Homelessness will expand exponentially as cuts to welfare programs, including food stamps, are made inevitable. However, welfare will not disappear, it will merely be “adjusted” to fit different goals. The homeless themselves will be treated like criminals. The roaming bands of jobless drifters common during the Great Depression will not exist during a modern crisis. State and Federal agencies will pursue an “out of sight, out of mind” policy towards the indigent, forcing them into “aid shelters” or other bureaucratic contraptions designed to conditioning the homeless to accept refugee status, making them totally dependent on federal scraps, but also prisoners on federally designated camps.
17) Terrorist attacks (false flag or otherwise) will spread like wildfire. Israel is highly susceptible. The U.S. may see a string of attacks, including cyber attacks on infrastructure. Syria and it's supporters will be blamed regardless of evidence. The White House will begin broad institution of authoritarian powers, including continuity of government executive orders, the Patriot Act, the NDAA, etc.
18) Martial Law may not even be officially declared, but the streets of America will feel like martial law none the less.
19) False paradigms will flood the mainstream as the establishment seeks to divide American citizens. The conflict will be painted as Muslim against Christian, black against white, poor against rich (but not the super rich elites, of course). Liberty Movement activists will be labeled “traitors” for “undermining government credibility” during a time of crisis. The Neo-Conservatives will place all blame on Barack Obama. Neo-Liberals will blame conservatives as “divisive”. Liberty Movement activists will point out that both sides are puppets of the same international cabal, and be labeled “traitors” again. The establishment will try to coax Americans into turning their rage on each other.
20) The Homeland Security apparatus will be turned completely inward, focusing entirely on “domestic enemies”. The domain of the TSA will be expanded onto highways and city streets. Local police will be fully federalized. Northcom will field soldiers within U.S. border to deal with more resistant quarters of the country. Totalitarianism will become the norm.
What Can We Do Right Now?
The level of collapse, I suspect, will not be total. The government is not going to disappear, rather, it will become more dominant in its posture. Certain sections of the country will be maintained while others fall apart. The IMF will move in to “help” the ailing U.S. economy by tying funding to the SDR (Special Drawing Rights). America's economy will be absorbed by the IMF. Constitutional protections will be fully erased in the name of reestablishing “law and order”, with the promise that the loss of our civil liberties is “only temporary”.
If the U.S. strikes Syria, and refuses to disengage, these things WILL happen. So, the next question is what can we do about it?
1) Given that this crisis is going to be riding a wave of extremely high energy prices, every single Liberty Movement activist (and every American for that matter) should be stockpiling energy reserves. Motor oil, gasoline (with gas saver), diesel fuel, propane, etc. should be at the top of your list right now. A generator should be next. Prices are only going to rise from here on out. Buy reserves now, before it is too late.
2) Everyone in the Liberty Movement should have at least minimal solar power capability. A couple of 100 watt panels, an inverter, a charge controller, and two-four deep cycle batteries can be had for under $1000. You may not be able to run your house on it, but you can at least charge important electronics, run a well pump, run some lights, a security system, etc.
3) The internet as we know it will no longer exist. The White House will apply preexisting executive orders on U.S. communications to restrict internet use, or, a convenient cyber attack will take place, opening the door for federal controls. The web will likely still operate, but only as a shell of its former greatness. Certain sites and email providers will be designated “safe”, while others will be designated “unsafe”. This leaves a gaping hole in our society's ability to communicate information quickly and efficiently, and, it removes the alternative media from the picture. The best solution I can present for this problem is Ham Radio, which is very difficult for the establishment to shut down. Ham Radio communication chains could take the place of the internet as a lower-tech but useful means of spreading information across the country. In the next few months, EVERYONE in the Liberty Movement should have a Ham Radio set, or handheld model, and they should know how to use it.
4) Harden your home during the next few months. Place security bars on windows, and replace weak doors with steel core doors. An internal lock bar will still frustrate entry by those who might blast hinges. Add a fire suppression system for good measure. This might sound like overkill, but if you want to be able to sleep at night during such an event, you must make your home your castle. No one should be able to enter your house without your permission.
5) Learn a useful trade right now. If you don't already know how to produce or fix a necessary item or commodity, take the next six months to learn how. If you don't know how to teach a valuable skill, get to work. Barter and trade will become the primary method of economy during a dollar collapse. Make sure you are sought after within your local economy.
6) Cache items before winter begins. Do not assume you will be able to stay on your homestead indefinitely. There are no guarantees during collapse. A wildfire could reduce your neighborhood to ashes in hours. Your home could be overrun. Make sure you have secondary supplies in a safe location just in case.
7) Find two friends (or more) right now that are willing to coordinate with you in the event that the worst happens. This means mutual aid and defense. This means predetermined arrangements for supplies, communications, meeting spots, and security. Do it now. Do not wait until our situation worsens.
8) Buy six months worth of food over the course of the next two months. Bulk food, freeze dried, MRE's, whatever. Just buy it. Have a lot of food already? I don't care. Buy six more months of supplies now. You'll thank me later.
9) Cultivate nutrient rich soil before winter begins. Buy a truckload of planting soil and manure and create a garden space if you have not already. Purchase extensive seed storage. Compile books on growing methods.
10) Gauge the temperament of your neighborhood. If all of your neighbors are mindless brain eating zombies, then perhaps it would be better to share a home with a prepared family member in another region now. If not, then start a neighborhood watch. Two or three families working together is far stronger than only one, and can change the temperament of an entire block of homes.
11) Train for tactical movement over the next three months. Learn how to move, shoot, and communicate as a team. Learn your strengths and weaknesses today or suffer the consequences tomorrow.
12) Prepare yourself mentally for conflict and self defense. Sign up for at least six months of hand to hand defense training. Learn how to deal with the mental and emotional strain of another person trying to harm you. Get used to the idea, because where we're headed, someone, at some point, will probably want to do you in. Always maintain your conscience and your principles, but never allow yourself to become a victim.
The Tension Is Palpable
As I have said many times before, a fight is coming. There is no way around it. But this fight must be fought intelligently, and we must never forget who the REAL enemy is.
If a revolution ensues and Obama loses control, the establishment could simply trigger a Neo-Con or military coup in order to placate the masses and fool Constitutionalists into believing they have been saved. Useless solutions will be presented to the people, including new leadership composed of more old guard elitists, a disastrous Constitutional Convention, or limited secession (which will never be honored by the establishment anyway). The purpose of these false solutions will be to fool you into relaxing your vigilance, distracting you from seeking justice against globalist organizations, or, to redirect your energies away from self sufficient communities, counties, and states, ready to dispel aggressive establishment elements.
Beware of those who grasp too readily for leadership over you. Real leaders stand as teachers, not oligarchs, and rarely do they take on the role without considerable reservations. Never trust anyone who does not immediately back their promises with tangible action. And, never forget that we fight not just for the removal of one particular tyrant, but for Constitutional liberty itself. One must follow the other, or there has been no victory.
Though it is depressingly difficult to see in times like these, there is indeed good in this world. There are ideals, and aspirations, and visions, and loves worth standing up for, worth fighting for, and worth dying for. There is still a future worth striving for at the end of the long night. There are dreams here, in the hearts of men, worth realizing. We do not necessarily battle for what humanity is, but for what we have the potential to become. The tides of society may shift and storm, the chaos may become unbearable, and the world may tear apart until it is unrecognizable. The agents of dominion believe they are the only constant, but there is another. In time, the dim pale of tyranny will always break in the light of freedom's resolute. Get ready, honorable Liberty Movement, our work has just begun.
As we showed mere days ago, it appears the truth of who the real puppet-master in the Middle-East is becoming plainer to see. The incredibly frank discussion between Saudi's spy-chief Prince Bandar and Russia's Putin exposed a much deeper plot is afoot and the following details from the actual people on the ground in the chemically-attacked region of Syria suggest Obama is playing right into the Saudi's plan. While Obama is 'certain' that the chemical attacks took place on al-Assad's orders, as MPN reports, "from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe thatcertain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack."
The narrative for public consumption is well-known and quite clear - it was all as-Assad's fault. And yet...
... from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.
“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.
Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”
Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.
Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.
“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”
“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.
A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said.
“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.
Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault.
The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information.
More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.
About the report authors: Dale Gavlak is a Middle East correspondent for Mint Press News and the Associated Press. Gavlak has been stationed in Amman, Jordan for the Associated Press for over two decades. An expert in Middle Eastern Affairs, Gavlak currently covers the Levant region of the Middle East for AP, National Public Radio and Mint Press News, writing on topics including politics, social issues and economic trends. Dale holds a M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. Contact Dale at[email protected] Yahya Ababneh is a Jordanian freelance journalist and is currently working on a master’s degree in journalism, He has covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Libya. His stories have appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.
For those who may have forgotten, here are the details that were exposed a few days ago...
what are some of the stunning disclosures by the Saudis? First this:
Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values ??and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. ... As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”
It is good of the Saudis to admit they control a terrorist organization that "threatens the security" of the Sochi 2014 Olympic games, and that house of Saud uses "in the face of the Syrian regime." Perhaps the next time there is a bombing in Boston by some Chechen-related terrorists, someone can inquire Saudi Arabia what, if anything, they knew about that.
But the piece de resistance is what happened at the end of the dialogue between the two leaders. It was, in not so many words, a threat by Saudi Arabia aimed squarely at Russia:
As soon as Putin finished his speech, Prince Bandar warned that in light of the course of the talks, things were likely to intensify, especially in the Syrian arena, although he appreciated the Russians’ understanding of Saudi Arabia’s position on Egypt and their readiness to support the Egyptian army despite their fears for Egypt's future.
The head of the Saudi intelligence services said that the dispute over the approach to the Syrian issue leads to the conclusion that “there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate. We believe that the Geneva II Conference will be very difficult in light of this raging situation.”
At the end of the meeting, the Russian and Saudi sides agreed to continue talks, provided that the current meeting remained under wraps. This was before one of the two sides leaked it via the Russian press.
Since we know all about this, it means no more talks, an implicit warning that the Chechens operating in proximity to Sochi may just become a loose cannon (with Saudi's blessing of course), and that about a month ago "there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate." Four weeks later, we are on the edge of all out war, which may involve not only the US and Europe, but most certainly Saudi Arabia and Russia which automatically means China as well. Or, as some may call it, the world.
And all of it as preordained by a Saudi prince, and all in the name of perpetuating the hegemony of the petrodollar.
Again we remind: Russia and Saudi Arabia account for 25% of global oil production, but far more importantly absent the Qatari natgas (and a potential pipeline crossing under a receptive Syrian regime - i.e., not Assad - and going into Turkey), Europe will remain beholden to every rate-hiking whim by Putin and Gazpromia.
The United States and its allies have a few options if they proceed with an intervention in Syria, a prospect that seems increasingly likely. A limited punitive strike on critical targets meant to discourage future use of chemical weapons would be the simplest operation. Another option would be to target the Syrian regime's chemical weapons delivery systems and storage facilities, but this option would require significantly more resources than the limited strike, and the risk of mission creep would be high.
Another problem with targeting the regime's chemical weapons is that such weapons are notoriously difficult to destroy. Therefore, the West could elect to deploy ground forces to secure the chemical weapons and ensure their destruction. Such a mission would be tantamount to a full-scale invasion, and thus we believe it is very unlikely.
In general, the larger and more complex the operation, the more time it will take, the more of a leading role the United States will have to assume and the more obvious the force buildup will be.
Limited Punitive Strike
A limited punitive strike on regime targets is the least risky option and requires the fewest resources. This option would seek to demonstrate American and allied credibility by striking regime targets, including command and control facilities and other high-value and symbolic targets. The purpose of a punitive strike would be to dissuade the al Assad regime from the further use of chemical weapons in the civil war without crippling the Syrian regime itself.
In this scenario there are more possible targets than the West is interested in attacking. Command and control facilities will likely be prioritized, driving home the message that the regime leadership, particularly the military leadership, would pay for the decision to use chemical weapons. However, Bashar al Assad himself would probably not be targeted because his death would tie the coalition deeper into the conflict than it wants to be.
Specific facilities that may be targeted are the Defense Ministry, the Air Force Intelligence Directorate, the Political Security Directorate, the Interior Ministry, the 4th Armored Division and Republican Guard headquarters in Damascus, the headquarters of the three Syrian army corps and various key communication and command and control facilities across the country. The specific artillery units that are believed to have participated in the chemical weapons attack could also be on the list.
In total, the United States and its allies would need to strike fewer than a hundred targets in such a mission, although some targets would require multiple munitions and repeated strikes. The majority of these targets could be engaged with non-penetrating cruise missiles, but those with hardened defenses or those that are buried underground would require bunker-busting munitions.
Given U.S. resources and their current deployment, Washington is already in a position to commence a limited punitive strike. A crucial advantage is that the United States would not need to deploy tactical aviation in this strike and would not need to penetrate the Syrian air defense network with non-stealth warplanes. The United States already has four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean. Two of the destroyers can carry up to 96 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and the other two can carry as many as 90 Tomahawk missiles. In reality, the vessels carry other missiles, such as air defense missiles, so the Tomahawk payload is usually much less -- about half would be a good estimate. Therefore, it can be assumed that the four destroyers can deploy around 180 Tomahawk missiles.
If the payload of the nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine that is likely nearby is added, then the number of Tomahawk missiles on U.S. naval vessels already in theater is at least 334 -- and likely more because other nuclear attack submarines are almost certainly in the region. If needed, strategic bombers and even tactical fighters can deploy air-launched cruise missiles such as the JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) from beyond the range of Syrian air defenses. These aircraft can stage out of Europe and the Middle East or, in the case of the bombers, can even come from the continental United States.
For hardened targets, the United States can rely on B-2 bombers flying missions from the continental United States. Each B-2 can carry 16 2,000-pound (about 900 kilograms) penetrating bombs or 8 5,000-pound bombs, enabling it to strike multiple targets in one mission.
Cripple the Regime's Chemical Weapons Delivery Capability
Should the United States and its allies decide to take the mission a step further, they could attempt not only to discourage the further use of chemical weapons but also to remove the regime's ability to use the weapons. The command, control and communication facilities would still be targeted, but the operation would also need to strike at a much wider network of targets and their associated defenses.
The mission would focus on the three main ways the regime can deliver its chemical weapons: the air force, the ballistic missile force and the artillery force.
Although several regime airfields have been neutralized or captured by the rebels, several others are still operable. In theory, aircraft from at least 13 airfields can participate in a chemical weapons attack. To neutralize an airfield, the United States can crater the airfield, strike parked aircraft, destroy fuel and ammunition stores and disable ground control, radar and maintenance facilities. Some of the airfields contain a considerable number of aircraft hangars and bunkers. For example, the Tiyas air base has some 30 aircraft shelters, not all of which can survive a Tomahawk strike.
Battlefield use during the conflict has significantly diminished the Syrian ballistic missile force. At least half of the regime's ballistic missile inventory has been expended in strikes against rebel-held territory, leaving approximately a couple of hundred missiles at most. Syrian ballistic missiles, especially the larger ones, are mostly concentrated in a few bases around the country, of which the 155th and 156th brigades based in al-Qutayfah appear to be particularly prominent. At these bases the Syrians have constructed several underground drive-in vehicle storage bunkers to protect their transporter erector launchers as well as other underground bunkers for missile storage. Other notable bases that house ballistic missiles include the Hirjillah army barracks and the Mezze and Dumayr tactical surface-to-surface missile storage facilities. Roughly one-third to one-half of the chemical weapons inventory is believed to have been assigned for ballistic missile delivery prior to the Syrian civil war.
The best estimates for the Syrian army's remaining artillery inventory ranges from 1,000 to 2,000 pieces, including towed, self-propelled and multiple-rocket artillery. As the conflict has progressed, the Syrian army has dispersed its artillery holdings in support of its widespread operations. While the artillery pieces are not located in hardened positions, their dispersal complicates their targeting.
Adequately neutralizing all three forces, and thus crippling the regime's ability to carry out chemical weapons attacks, would require a significant contribution of resources by the United States and its allies. The risk of mission creep is high, and the campaign would tie the United States deeply into the Syrian conflict. Simply eliminating the bulk of the regime's artillery and air force would instantly tilt the balance of power toward the rebels, implicating the United States in the responsibility of post-al Assad Syria. The psychological impact of such a campaign should also not be underestimated; loyalist forces under incessant air attack while fighting on the front lines against the rebels would be under considerable stress.
Significant post-strike analysis would be necessary in such an expansive campaign, and the effort to neutralize the regime's artillery assets in particular would require extensive tactical and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. Given the need to operate within the range of Syrian air defenses with non-stealth aircraft, a comprehensive suppression of enemy air defenses campaign would also be necessary. The Syrian air defense network has suffered several blows during the civil war but remains dense and dangerous.
Many more Tomahawk-equipped vessels would be required for the initial campaign to take out air defenses as well as the follow-on strikes, and U.S. Navy carriers with tactical aviation assets, especially electronic warfare aircraft such as the EA-18G Growler, would need to be deployed. Indeed, electronic warfare would figure prominently in such a campaign, from jamming to cyber attacks. At least one super carrier would be needed, but more could be deployed depending on the number of tactical aviation squadrons sent by the U.S. Air Force and allied countries.
Without short-range basing from countries such as Cyprus, Turkey, Jordan or Greece, operations by tactical fixed-wing aircraft would be greatly complicated because of the limited combat radius of those aircraft. The deployment of combat search and rescue elements would also necessitate forward bases (or aircraft carriers) close to Syria. In total, at least 400 Tomahawk missiles would likely be needed for the operation before a comprehensive fixed-wing campaign could commence -- more than twice the number fired during the intervention in Libya. Such a campaign would require a variety of munitions, including anti-radiation missiles, cruise missiles, penetrating bombs, air-to-air missiles, gravity bombs and air-to-ground tactical missiles.
Notably, several variables can shape the nature of the conflict. There are hundreds if not thousands of different orders of battle that can be deployed based on wide-ranging factors, such as the allies' commitments, available basing, cost, commanders' preferences and enemy resilience. For example, something as simple as whether Turkey joins the mission dramatically alters the scenario, immediately bringing 200 or more tactical fighters to the operation (by the simple fact of their being within range and Turkey being vulnerable to retaliation and operating accordingly).
Secure the Chemical Weapons in Syria
The most ambitious and risky operation would be to attempt to secure the regime's chemical weapons to definitively prevent their further use. This operation would probably also signal the demise of the al Assad regime. In many ways, this option would be synonymous with an invasion of Syria, since any attempt to secure the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal would necessitate significant ground forces. It is for this reason that we believe the likelihood of this option to be very remote.
Scant information is publicly available on Syria's chemical weapons program. However, Syria is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, and until July 23 the regime had not publicly admitted to possessing the weapons. The al Assad regime is suspected of having VX, sarin, tabun and mustard gas, and it purportedly can produce a few hundred tons of chemical agents per year.
Several major storage and production sites are believed to be located near Homs, Hama, Eastern Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia and Palmyra. An additional 45-50 smaller facilities are believed to be spread across the country. While the United States and other Western allies have proved that they have active intelligence and surveillance of numerous sites, it would be nearly impossible for the entire stockpile to be accounted for at any one time, and it can assumed that all locations are not known.
Chemical weapons are difficult to destroy completely. The most common method is incineration at very high temperatures over a sustained period of time in a contained system. Munitions used by the military almost never reproduce these effects, especially the ones designed to penetrate a hardened structure. Another problem is the sheer volume of material. Estimates put Syrian stockpiles in the hundreds of tons of various types.
The most likely result of strikes on hardened facilities holding chemical weapons is the destruction of some of the material and the release of some into the atmosphere while the rest remains protect by the collapsed structure in rubble. In other words, a strike would succeed in destroying the material only partially while potentially causing collateral damage (many of the facilities are near populated areas) and only temporarily denying the regime the use of any remaining stockpiles.
Securing all of Syria's chemical weapons would necessitate a comprehensive suppression of enemy air defenses campaign. This first step would require strategic and tactical air assets combined with naval platforms, similar to the steps taken to eliminate the chemical weapons delivery capability. However, the difference is that securing the weapons would also require ground forces to be deployed in the country.
Securing even a few chemical weapons manufacturing or storage facilities would require the deployment of numerous detachments of special operations forces. Such a deployment would likely be preceded by the seizure of a Syrian airfield, which would serve as a temporary base for the operations. After the initial campaign to suppress the regime's air defenses, all threats within the vicinity of the airfield would be targeted and special operations forces would be flown in for either a combat drop or air landing. From there, the airfield would be used as a temporary bridgehead to launch several smaller operations aimed at grabbing specific sites.
The benefit of such an operation is that it would quickly put highly trained assets on the ground in moderate numbers with no buildup necessary in neighboring countries, meaning that tactical surprise could be achieved. Once the bridgehead is established, it would then be used as an air bridge to bring in reinforcements such as the 82nd Airborne Division. Absolute dominance of the airspace would have to be maintained during such an operation.
Chemical weapons are difficult to comprehensively eradicate; in about four decades the United States has destroyed only about half of its stockpiles. Units seizing chemical weapons sites could not simply strap C4 explosive blocks to them for the same reason that cruise missile strikes would not work: little is destroyed and much of it would just be flung around, risking unintended contamination and only temporarily denying the material to the enemy.
A comprehensive scenario that entails the seizure of all known stockpiles and roots out any missed supplies would essentially entail a full-scale invasion of Syria. The U.S. military reportedly estimates that it would need 75,000 troops to secure the entire network of Syrian chemical weapons. This is probably a low estimate. This option would be very complex and multifaceted. Again, a requisite suppression of enemy air defenses campaign would have to take place so the United States could dominate the airspace. Ground forces would have to be bought into theater in numbers, primarily in Jordan or Turkey. An amphibious component involving U.S. Marines could be utilized to establish beachheads on the Syrian coast. Special operations forces could also be tapped in conjunction with the 82nd Airborne Division to seize critical airfields to open up further fronts or capture time-sensitive targets deep in the Syrian core.
This would take a lot of time. Similar buildups for Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom took months. There would be little to no strategic or tactical surprise, and the United States and its allies would rely on raw firepower and rapid movement. This would be a full combined arms operation, where air and naval assets would facilitate the movement of ground forces.
This is the option with the greatest potential for bogging down forces in an occupation. Chemical weapons are hard to deal with and require time to destroy and longer still to move elsewhere and destroy. Either way, a standing army will find itself in Syria for at least a few months. Any form of mission creep into nation re-stabilization or building extends the timeline indefinitely. Even if the invasion went well, as it did in Iraq, the occupation period creates an opening for guerrilla or insurgent warfare waged by the fallen regime, Islamist extremists, disenfranchised rebels or all of the above.
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