Jamie keys off a great column pleading with the Israelis to please stop forging Bin Laden tapes and playing them over their kept media. This theme transitions right into the “security company” scams being run by people like Michael Chertoff, selling hundreds of millions of dollars of body scanners that will now turn our airports into peep shows for illegal aliens hired by TSA to ogle our women. On a more uplifting note we end the show with the Mighty Whitey sound of the Ohio State and Ohio University huge marching bands.
Viewed from across the pond, the U.S. government seems at best incompetent and at worst a joke.
By Alex Massie
In 1939, Joseph Kennedy, then serving as U.S. ambassador to Britain, petitioned President Franklin D. Roosevelt to restrict foreign screenings of Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on the grounds that the film was “an indictment of our government” that “will cause our allies to view us in an unfavorable light.” Capra’s depiction of a Washington dominated by special interests and toadying political hacks also angered Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley, a Democrat from Kentucky, who complained that the movie presented a “grotesque distortion” of Washington politics that suggested that the Senate was nothing more than an “aggregation of nincompoops.”
So not much has changed in the last 70 years.
These days, mind you, there’s no need for a latterday Capra to come to Washington — not when the Senate’s tragicomedy is broadcast to the world daily by CNN and the Internet. International observers of Washington politics gaze with wonder at a system that produces so much drama from so little legislation and a republic in which even winning a contest by a landslide can’t guarantee success. American elections used to have consequences. Now, they merely determine which party the public wants to hate next.
That’s one explanation for the present sorry state of affairs, in which the party occupying the White House and controlling both houses of Congress cannot figure out how to pass a health-care bill that has been the progressive Holy Grail since the time of Harry Truman. Of course, the other obvious conclusion to be drawn is that the Democratic Party simply isn’t very good at politics.
If it’s too easy to pass legislation in many countries (including Britain), it seems too difficult to get anything done in Washington, with the 60-vote hurdle now the rule rather than the exception. Excepting the Democrats’ rare, tenuous, and wasted supermajority, power generally resides, however improbably or quixotically, with the minority party, which attempts and often succeeds in stymieing every majority initiative. Minority obstructionism, of course, can be principled. But its chief attraction is that it absolves the opposition of responsibility for anything while making the majority look, well, stupid. As former British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin once said of the press, this kind of “power without responsibility” has been “the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.” And Democratic complaints that “It’s the system, stupid” aren’t likely to impress too many voters — who, rather rightfully, despise Congress no matter who runs it — even if, by any reasonable measure, the system is dysfunctional and perverse.
So what a difference a single vote makes! The lamentations that followed Martha Coakley’s stunning defeat in Massachusetts were heard on the far side of the Atlantic as well, as health care and cap-and-trade legislation disappeared with a 2 percent drift in the Senate tides. All of a sudden it seems as though “Yes We Can” actually means “Well, All Things Being Equal, We’d Like to Have a Go, but, Actually, It’s Terribly Complicated and Difficult. So We Won’t.”
This has consequences that extend beyond the useful reminder that, despite the promise of his rhetoric, the U.S. president is constrained by both the constitution and the feebleness, even the ineptitude, of his Democratic colleagues. President Barack Obama deliberately pitched himself as a leader for the post-globalization age. So many promises were made on so many fronts that, inevitably, many of them would be broken or ignored or, as now seems increasingly probable, chewed up by the legislative process.
No wonder Europeans are unimpressed by this president and his inability to deliver upon the promises he made, not merely to American voters, but to the entire planet. Campaign aspirations are always snuffed out by brutal political reality. But rarely has the contrast between campaign poetry and governing prose been quite so clear.
Nowhere has this been more the case than on climate change and the fate of the prison at Guantánamo Bay. European leaders had hoped for more from Obama at the Copenhagen conference on climate change. Hamstrung by a skeptical Congress, Obama did his best. But it was a best that satisfied few people and, once more, reminded Europeans that the U.S. president is less powerful, in terms of domestic politics, than any prime minister. It was a reminder of the Yankee separation of powers. Only the most cockeyed optimist would bet on cap-and-trade legislation passing this year.
Something similar might be said of Guantánamo. Obama’s promise to close the camp was the clearest possible signal that the new administration would break with its predecessor. Yet a year has passed and Gitmo remains open. Again, political realities — dictated by hysterical, bed-wetting congressmen who argue, with straight faces and empty minds, that the United States cannot safely imprison the Guantánamo inmates on American soil proper — have stalled progress. But at some point one begins to wonder what the point of having a majority is if it isn’t used for anything.
Because, more than anything else, it was the promise to close Gitmo that earned the president his Nobel Peace Prize, the failure to solve the detainee problem now makes that award seem even more preposterously premature. Much worse than making the president seem weak, it risks making him seem ridiculous. While politicians can survive and even, on rare occasions, embrace disapproval, mockery and ridicule are much more poisonous.
Another irritant, imposed upon the rest of the international community by the world’s most ridiculous deliberative body, is the lack of U.S. diplomatic representation in key spots. Brazil went nearly a year without an ambassador because of a senatorial hold, while important positions at the World Trade Organization and other bodies still remain unfilled.
It’s a measure, mind you, of how Washington has changed. In the Capra film, Jefferson Smith used the filibuster to heroically resist the system. Today, the mere threat of a filibuster is enough to persuade the majority party to run screaming for the hills.
Right now, however, the Democrats might want to take a cue from Smith’s epic speech in the movie: “You think I’m licked. You all think I’m licked. Well, I’m not licked. And I’m going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if the room gets filled with lies like these, and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place.” Unless they do show some spine, it’s hard to see what they’re for — and far less why voters should bother endorsing Democratic candidates in November. The system may be ridiculous, but it is what it is — and when managed correctly, things can be changed and done. The game remains the game. Unless the Democratic Party realizes that, then it can hardly complain if voters — and the international community — decide it’s a lost cause.
The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo, bottled water and peanut butter. After this week’s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all.
Wednesday’s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials.
We’re talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system — apart from the matter of AIG’s bailout — deserves further congressional scrutiny.
The New York Fed is in the hot seat for its decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, among others. That decision, critics say, amounted to a back-door bailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar for contracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been allowed to fail.
That move came a few weeks after the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department propped up AIG in the wake of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s own mid-September bankruptcy filing.
Saving the System
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was head of the New York Fed at the time of the AIG moves. He maintained during Wednesday’s hearing that the New York bank had to buy the insurance contracts, known as credit default swaps, to keep AIG from failing, which would have threatened the financial system.
The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform also focused on what many in Congress believe was the New York Fed’s subsequent attempt to cover up buyout details and who benefited.
By pursuing this line of inquiry, the hearing revealed some of the inner workings of the New York Fed and the outsized role it plays in banking. This insight is especially valuable given that the New York Fed is a quasi-governmental institution that isn’t subject to citizen intrusions such as freedom of information requests, unlike the Federal Reserve.
This impenetrability comes in handy since the bank is the preferred vehicle for many of the Fed’s bailout programs. It’s as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.
The New York Fed is one of 12 Federal Reserve Banks that operate under the supervision of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, chaired by Ben Bernanke. Member-bank presidents are appointed by nine-member boards, who themselves are appointed largely by other bankers.
As Representative Marcy Kaptur told Geithner at the hearing: “A lot of people think that the president of the New York Fed works for the U.S. government. But in fact you work for the private banks that elected you.”
And yet the New York Fed played an integral role in the government’s bailout of banks, often receiving surprisingly free rein to act as it saw fit.
Consider AIG. Let’s take Geithner at his word that a failure to resolve the insurer’s default swaps would have led to financial Armageddon. Given the stakes, you might think Geithner would have coordinated actions with then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Yet Paulson testified that he wasn’t in the loop.
“I had no involvement at all, in the payment to the counterparties, no involvement whatsoever,” Paulson said.
Fed Chairman Bernanke also wasn’t involved. In a written response to questions from Representative Darrell Issa, Bernanke said he “was not directly involved in the negotiations” with AIG’s counterparty banks.
You have to wonder then who really was in charge of our nation’s financial future if AIG posed as grave a threat as Geithner claimed.
Questions about the New York Fed’s accountability grew after Geithner on Nov. 24, 2008, was named by then-President- elect Barack Obama to be Treasury Secretary. Geither said he recused himself from the bank’s day-to-day activities, even though he never actually signed a formal letter of recusal.
That left issues related to disclosures about the deal in the hands of the bank’s lawyers and staff, rather than a top executive. Those staffers didn’t want details of the swaps purchase to become public.
New York Fed staff and outside lawyers from Davis Polk & Wardell edited AIG communications to investors and intervened with the Securities and Exchange Commission to shield details about the buyout transactions, according to a report by Issa.
That the New York Fed, a quasi-governmental body, was able to push around the SEC, an executive-branch agency, deserves a congressional hearing all by itself.
Later, when it became clear information would be disclosed, New York Fed legal group staffer James Bergin e-mailed colleagues saying: “I have to think this train is probably going to leave the station soon and we need to focus our efforts on explaining the story as best we can. There were too many people involved in the deals — too many counterparties, too many lawyers and advisors, too many people from AIG — to keep a determined Congress from the information.”
Think of the enormity of that statement. A staffer at a body with little public accountability and that exists to serve bankers is lamenting the inability to keep Congress in the dark.
This belies the culture of secrecy obviously pervasive within the New York Fed. Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns noted during the hearing that the bank initially refused to disclose even the names of other banks that benefited from its actions, arguing this information would somehow harm AIG.
‘Penchant for Secrecy’
“In fact, when the information was finally released, under pressure from Congress, nothing happened,” Towns said. “It had absolutely no effect on AIG’s business or financial condition. But it did have an effect on the credibility of the Federal Reserve, and it called into question the Fed’s penchant for secrecy.”
Now, I’m not saying Congress should be meddling in interest-rate decisions, or micro-managing bank regulation. Nor do I think we should all don tin-foil hats and start ranting about the Trilateral Commission.
Yet when unelected and unaccountable agencies pick banking winners while trying to end-run Congress, even as taxpayers are forced to lend, spend and guarantee about $8 trillion to prop up the financial system, our collective blood should boil.
Despite Trinity Western University’s (TWU) near universal acceptance as a full-fledged university, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)—a union of sorts, representing faculty associations across the county, that has fought sometimes controversial fights over academic freedom since 1951—placed TWU on its blacklist of universities that violate academic freedom in October, effectively calling into question the school’s dedication to the very heart of what it is to be a university.
By most accounts, Trinity Western University, located in the Vancouver suburb Langley, is a respected member of the Canadian university community. It’s long enjoyed the rubber stamp of approval that is being a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, an organization that fills the vacuum created by Canada’s lack of formal university accreditation. In 2004, the provincial government exempted the school from “detailed reviews of its degree programs,” making Trinity Western the fourth member of an elite club of west coast universities alongside the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University. In fact, having been opened in 1962, the school is one year older than UVic. Trinity Western is also home to three research chairs and boasts over $1 million in annual research funding, impressive for a relatively small institution.
However, according to a CAUT report, because TWU—which describes itself as “a faith-based institution, one inspired by Christ’s life and guided by his teachings”—submits its faculty to what CAUT calls a “faith test,” it is violating academic freedom.
The controversial faith test consists of a “Statement of Faith” that professors are required to sign annually and that outlines the “philosophical framework to which all faculty, staff and administration are committed without reservation.” It includes a list of convictions to which professors must assert to subscribe, including belief in the bible, in one infinitely perfect god, that Jesus Christ was a real man, and in “the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord, of the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment.”
To CAUT, the Statement of Faith clearly demonstrates that TWU does not accept the standard definition of academic freedom. They consider universities to have violated academic freedom if they “seek to ensure an ideologically or religiously homogeneous academic staff,” which clearly includes TWU.
James Turk, executive director of CAUT, says that his organization is only sharing with the world what TWU is, not outright denying their right to existence as a university. Yet, Jonathan Raymond, TWU president, is taking CAUT’s actions very seriously. “Such an allegation can easily damage the reputation of a university and place a cloud over the scholarship of its faculty,” Raymond wrote in a recent response to CAUT’s report.
The whole dispute comes down to the definition of a cornerstone of the modern university: academic freedom. In Raymond’s view, TWU’s definition is comfortably mainstream, and that it is possible to have investigation and teaching within the context of a stated perspective. The academic calendar at TWU goes so far as to reject a definition of academic freedom that denies an established perspective: “Trinity Western University rejects as incompatible with human nature and relevational theism a definition of academic freedom which arbitrarily and exclusively requires pluralism without commitment, denies the existence of any fixed points of reference, maximizes the quest for truth to the extent of assuming it is never knowable, and implies an absolute freedom from moral and religious responsibility to its community.” In other words, the university rejects relativism, which many academics would say is incompatible with the primary role of a university.
“When a person is hired, all universities make judgments in terms of hiring them to be consistent with the mission of the institution,” Raymond said in an interview with Maclean’s. “Once they’re hired, the institution is absolutely obligated to protect their academic freedom. But all universities have criterion for gathering a scholarly community in support of their mission.” So TWU differs in that its mission is to be a Christian university, but once that community of like-minded academics is established, free inquiry can thrive.
So can true academic freedom exist at a Christian university? Can real debate happen within an assumed set of values? CAUT would say no. The conventional understanding of academic freedom, according to CAUT’s policy, is “the right, without restriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom of teaching and discussion; freedom in carrying out research… [emphasis theirs]” According to this view of academic freedom, accepting anything as absolute truth without reservation runs counter to the pursuit of knowledge faculty engage in.
The core issue, according to Turk, is not that Christian beliefs are part of the mission of the university, but that those beliefs appear to come before everything else. The report points to TWU’s own claims of being a “disciple-making academic community” and “an arm of the Church” where “all teaching, learning, thinking, and scholarship take place under the direction of the Bible, the wholly authoritative and truthful Word of God.”
“No university should be the arm of any institution,” Turk said. “A university shouldn’t be the arm of the Church or the arm of state or the arm of a special interest group. The very nature of a university should not be to make disciples.”
But although CAUT argues that TWU’s understanding of academic freedom and the role of a university are outside the norm, TWU throws that accusation right back, saying that CAUT’s definition is the abnormal one. “Why do I say it’s marginal?” asks Raymond, explaining that the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) has a very different definition of academic freedom. “Here’s the difference: in the AUCC, and in the counterpart institutions down in the States, academic freedom has to be superintended and worked out within the autonomy of a given university. CAUT’s definition ignores the idea of autonomy.”
Turk, on the other hand, says that the AUCC should rethink TWU’s membership. “AUCC simply has not respected its own rules in admitting Trinity Western,” he said. “It has not upheld its own commitment to academic freedom.”
Glen A. Jones, Ontario Research Chair on post-secondary education policy and associate dean at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, says that while CAUT’s definition is much closer to the traditional Canadian understanding of academic freedom, TWU is right to point to the United States. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP)—which is similar to CAUT—is the go-to organization for American court cases dealing with academic freedom. In its famous declaration of academic freedom, AAUP was forced to include an opt out accepting limitations of academic freedom at religious institutions as long as they were laid out at the time of appointment, which TWU clearly does with its Statement of Faith. Nevertheless, Canada’s post-secondary system was built on secular education, Jones said, so limitations on academic freedom are not commonly accepted here.
Raymond points out that CAUT is not responding to any specific complaint of a violation of academic freedom. In fact, he claims, there hasn’t been any such complaint in the university’s entire history. Rather he believes that CAUT is attacking TWU arbitrarily for being a Christian institution. “The CAUT report itself found no occasion of academic freedom [violations] outside the fact that we are a Christian university chartered by the province as such.”
CAUT wasn’t investigating specific complaints, rather the way institutions are structured, Turk says. “It may not be surprising that there are no academic freedom complaints within their restricted definition when they don’t allow anybody in the door who disagrees with them.”
CAUT does indeed appear to be targeting Christian schools, as TWU is certainly not the only one—just the first. Investigations of “faith tests” at other universities are in the works, including the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Crandall University in Moncton (formerly the Atlantic Baptist University) and Redeemer University College in Ancaster.
But one gets the feeling that Turk and CAUT wouldn’t stop with Christian schools. “Academic freedom can’t be bounded by a particular ideology. It would be like a university saying that we’re a Marxist university and unless you’re a Marxist, you can’t teach here.”
UNION CITY, California — Union City police and school officials have failed to protect African American students from a Latino gang, whose members killed a black youth in 2007 at a middle school and then shot at his friends last weekend in Hayward, according to attorneys who filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday.
Plaintiffs Alvett Fobbs (left) and Tereese Sanders (center) are joined by Fobbs’ sister, Lillie Ray, at a news conference in Hayward announcing the lawsuit.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, accuses Union City police and officials with the New Haven Unified School District of doing nothing to prevent African American students from suffering “severe and pervasive racial harassment.” Gang members were responsible for many of the incidents on campus or near schools, according to the suit filed by 10 African American former students of the school district.
In a statement Wednesday, Union City police and city officials said they have a “long-standing record of being responsive to supporting and defending the rights of all members of our diverse community.” School officials declined to comment.
The most serious incident cited in the lawsuit happened in December 2007, when Vernon Eddins, 14, was shot and killed in front of Barnard-White Middle School on Whipple Road in Union City. No arrests have been made.
On Saturday, eight African American youths, one of whom was wearing a shirt with Eddins’ picture on it, were shot at while at the Southland Mall in Hayward, said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Pamela Price. No one was injured.
No arrests have been made, said Hayward police Sgt. Steve Brown.
Although it happened in Hayward, the weekend shooting is the result of a “situation that bubbled out of Union City,” Price said at a news conference at the NAACP’s office in Hayward.
Hayward police responded quickly to the incident, while their counterparts in Union City have not moved fast enough to stem violence against black youths by Latino gang members, Price said.
In their statement, Union City officials said, “Youth violence is an area-wide issue not respecting municipal boundaries.”
Price said her clients are not gang members but are treated as such by Union City police. Officers often ask them, “What did you do to start this?” when “they did nothing,” Price said. “To me, that’s racial.”
Eddins’ mother, Angelique Paige, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit last year against police and the New Haven school district, accusing them of “failing to adequately discourage” racial violence. The suit is pending.
Paige cried at Wednesday’s news conference as Price said gang members based in Union City’s Decoto neighborhood had gloated about Eddins’ slaying on a MySpace page.
African American students and their families have been told by police that if they don’t like the situation, they should move, said attorney John Burris, who is also representing the plaintiffs.
A senior Catholic bishop in Poland who was reported to have made controversial comments about the Holocaust has insisted his remarks were taken “out of context”.
The remarks purporting to have been made by Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek were published just hours before Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, arrived in Poland on Monday to take part in commemorations to mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp at Auschwitz on Wednesday.
Bishop Pieronek spoke to an Italian Catholic news website, Pontifex Roma, which alleged he told it Jews had “stolen” the tragedy of the Holocaust.
While stressing that the majority of people who died in Nazi Germany’s death camps were Jews, Bishop Pieronek is alleged to have attacked Jews for apparently claiming ownership of the slaughter when others who were killed included “Poles, Gypsies, Italians and Catholics”.
Bishop Pieronek said on Monday: “I have not seen the printed text of the interview, which I have given but have not authorised.
“But if I were to believe in what I hear from the media then it looks as though the final form of the interview… is full of vague statements.”
He explicitly denied saying that he had called the Holocaust a “Jewish invention”.
A parliamentary report may spur France to adopt a burqa ban in public or state venues like buses, hospitals, and schools – though it also condemns ‘Islamophobia.’
A woman wearing a niqab shops in a supermarket in northern France, January 6. Farid Alouache / Reuters
A controversial French parliament report on the burqa issued here today recommends outlawing the full-length Muslim veil in public or state venues like buses, hospitals, and schools – though it also condemns what it calls “Islamophobia.”
The report, which security and identification needs, is expected to provide ballast for a law to ban, in some form, the burqa, obliging “people not only to show their faces in public-run areas, but keep their faces uncovered as long as they stay there.”
“The whole of France says ‘no’ to the full veil,” according to the report, though polls show opposition to the burqa at closer to 60 percent, still a high figure.
The “burqa debate” in France rose nearly overnight like a pelting summer storm when Mr. Sarkozy last July targeted the burqa as an affront to human and civil rights in a modern secular society – though the debate is widely seen here as a proxy for discussing latent fears and concerns about integrating Muslims, mostly former immigrants, who now number 5 million. The number of burqa wearers, however, is estimated by French police as numbering between 1,400 and 2,000.
Late in the afternoon, President Nicolas Sarkozy, in an effort to mollify feelings among followers of the Koran, visited Muslim graves at a World War l cemetery, recently desecrated, arguing that Muslims should not be “stigmatized.” In the Muslim discourse in France, many argue a burqa law does stigmatize and indirectly target them.
After visiting Notre Dame Laurent military cemetery in northern France, Sarkozy noted that “Islam is today the religion of many French people…France can’t allow French Muslims to be stigmatized.”
The new debate is quite divisive here. Unlike the recent Swiss vote to ban minarets at mosques, an initiative mostly driven by conservatives, opponents of the burqa in France span the far right and the far left of the political spectrum, sparking fights on both sides. The co-chair of the commission, Andre Gerin, is a member of the French assembly from the communist party.
In the first such use of the term, and an implicit acknowledgement of the problem, the report calls for “a parliamentary work on Islamophobia,” the popular phrase used to describe rising anti-Muslim feeling in Europe. It also proposes a national school of Islam studies.
“The burqa plays out as something more spectacular than the minaret as a political symbol,” says Pap Ndiaye, of the School for Adanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris. “It hides the face. It seems alien. There’s something a bit appalling about it, and it relates specifically to what is seen as a dangerous part of the world and to an extreme variant of Islam. Using the burqa is a very smart political strategy.”
“There are around [Sarkozy] people who dream to use these issues for electoral benefits,” charged François Bayrou, a MoDem party leader and moderate who ran for president in 2007. The far-right National Party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen differed with much of the mainstream right, saying that, “Passing a law doesn’t seem necessary to me. Police regulations are enough.”
Jamie compares two revolutions. The first is the successful Dec. 21, 1989 revolution of the Romanian people against the total dictatorship of Nicolae and Ellena Ceaucescu. In just four days, Ceaucescu went from being in total control of Romania, to being executed by a firing squad on Christmas Day. Are we in a revolution in America now? Kelso thinks we are. And he sees the End the Fed, Tea Party, and Ron Paul rallies as a clear sign of it. The key sign of revolution that Jamie is looking for in today’s show is the size and emotion of the populist crowds spontaneously appearing in the streets.
Jamie reports the raging scandal of corruption on the part of current and former U.S. Treasury Secretaries Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner. Rep. Darrell Issa of California has released emails in which Geithner instructs corrupt cronies at AIG (American International Group) to conceal the humongous billions channeled by Paulson and Geithner to AIG as a conduit back to Paulson’s and Geithner’s own company of Goldman Sachs. In addition to this hot breaking Bankstergate story, with nervous testimony by both crooks Paulson and Geithner today before a House committee, we also cover the delightful news that the Long Island major newspaper Newsday has managed to sign up only 35 suckers for the paid website edition in three months!
The U.S. military elite once identified with the historical American nation and saw its mission as defending it in addition to defending the state that the nation had created (see Kevin MacDonald’s review of Joseph Bendersky , The ‘Jewish Threat’. Anti-Semitic Politics of the U.S. Army). The military was realistic about minority interests.
Times have changed. Now the Department of Defense is one of the most politically correct institutions in the United States, proactively subservient to minority interests. Cadets at West Point are served up much the same distorted social science as civilian students. There is a close working relationship with America’s “ally” Israel. Much of the neoconservative effort to manipulate the U.S. into the Iraq quagmire came from DoD under the administration of G. W. Bush and his Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
In this article I show that the neocon influence goes deeper.
One reason this is important is that conservative Americans, overwhelmingly White, see the military as a bastion of political realism. That goes a long way to explaining the popularity among conservatives of the private intelligence firm Stratfor. The Stratfor website describes its readership as “worldly and savvy” and an “elite audience of affluent, informed users” with an average income of $150,000. It began operating in 1996. Names that come up are Founder and CEO George Friedman (on geopolitics), Fred Burton and Scott Stewart (on security).
Stratfor presents views that are respectable in Defense Department circles. Friedman’s Wikipedia entry describes a close working relationship with the elite U.S. military:
Prior to joining the private sector, Friedman spent almost twenty years in academia, teaching political science at Dickinson College. During this time he also regularly briefed senior commanders in the armed services as well as the Office of Net Assessments, SHAPE Technical Center, the U.S. Army War College, National Defense University and the RAND Corporation on security and national defense matters. … Friedman was an early designer of computerized war games. In 1994 he founded the Center for Geopolitical Studies at Louisiana State University, which engaged in integrated economic, political and military modeling and forecasting. The Center was the only non-governmental organization that was at that time granted access to Joint Theater Level Simulation by the Joint Warfighting Center.
This military connection is attractive to conservatives as is Stratfor’s willingness to say politically incorrect things, like distinguishing between important and unimportant countries, acknowledging America’s economic and military leadership, and exposing other countries’ attempts to limit that leadership. Its hard realism is its selling point. That is what makes Stratfor sexy to patriots.
Understandably, conservatives disapprove of other countries’ attempts to hem in the United States, to restrict its sovereignty by making it obedient to international bodies in which tin pot dictators have an equal vote. It is indeed refreshing to read seemingly hard-headed analyses that expose such manoeuvres. However Stratfor does not appear so impressive when viewed from a perspective informed about ethnic differences and the realities of ethnic contestation in the United States.
Stratfor’s analysis is so poor in that regard that it being taken seriously by conservatives can be taken as symptomatic of pathology in the political culture. Consider the recently released Stratfor projectionsfor the next decade.
Stratfor’s predictions capture some major trends, for example the shuffling of coalitions by weaker countries trying to control the U.S. The crisis of ageing industrial populations is also important, as is the winding-down of Jihadism, though I think the latter will be chronic until Israeli aggression is tamed. Friedman predicts the secession of America’s southwestern states and their joining Mexico. The cause? Large scale Mexican immigration to the region, the rising economic power of Mexico, and its festering resentment over the U.S. conquest of its territory.
Stratfor’s prediction of China’s economic stagnation by 2015 is less clear. Something is missing something there, especially China’s disciplined mercantile policy directed by an astute and authoritarian government and served by a hardworking and intelligent population, the large scale transfer of scientific, technological and industrial knowledge and jobs from the West, and the resulting $2 trillion in foreign reserves. My own expectation is that China will experience major civil unrest but that its economy will keep bounding ahead. Nationalism will continue to replace Marxism as the legitimating ideology. The best formula for hindering China would be to convince it to emulate America’s policies of open-door immigration and systematic subordination of the majority ethnic group.
The China question opens the door to what is lacking in Stratfor’s report. If Stratfor really is staffed by hard realists who ignore the ideological fluff of the left wing media, why do they not factor into their assessments the immense role of K-selected populations versus r-selected? Is it not relevant to geopolitics that in the next century sub-Saharan African economies will remain a basket case, the Malay and Hindu countries will be a mixed bag, while populations derived from Europe and East Asia will be the most dynamic and wealthiest? From the same perspective, it is a sure bet that the racial diversification of the United States and Europe will bring greater inequality and internal divisions. The Stratfor report has nothing to say about this. It treats replacement-level immigration as a plus for the economy and little more. That is obtuse or dishonest.
Stratfor commits a more obvious omission. Its analysts are right to point to the U.S.’s great power, both economic and military, but there is no discussion (none!) of the shift of ethnic power within the United States and its profound implications for foreign and immigration policy. Yet they have a large section on the Middle East, as if this is divorced from America’s ethnic scene in which Jews have risen to preeminence over the last several decades. Samuel Huntington and others (e.g. Mearsheimer and Walt) have pointed out for many years that the Israel Lobby is distorting American foreign policy. This is not a new reality.
Also not mentioned is Israel’s substantial direction of U.S. Mideast foreign policy via its agents of influence in the organized Jewish community. These omissions are sufficient to categorise Stratfor as neoconservative.
To reiterate, conservatives like Stratfor because of its realism in general and its exposure of attempts to constrict U.S. sovereignty in particular. Yet Stratfor systematically avoids mentioning the most prominent example of U.S. subservience — to Israel externally and to the formidable Jewish lobby internally. The failure to conduct an even-handed and prudent foreign policy in the Middle East is promoted by the same elite Jewish activism that has played such a large role in disabling the country’s normal immune reaction to massive alien immigration. Other disgruntled minorities are involved, but since the early 20th century, the organised Jewish community has taken the lead and enabled them financially, legally, and in the media.
This is a well-documented reality that is relevant to geopolitics. Why does Stratfor not even hint at it?
A likely reason is Stratfor’s connection to the activist Jewish community. Its reports are favoured by Jewish publications, for example J. Rants.com (“The Premier Source for Jewish and Israeli News and Commentary”). A column by Friedman has been regularly published in Jewish World Review beginning in 2005 (see, e.g., his article “Next Pope could, and maybe should, be a Third-Worlder.” The articles are run with the Stratfor logo below Friedman’s name. This example is typical of the attitude towards Western identity one finds in Stratfor reports.
A Stratfor article in January 2009 argued that, despite their rhetoric, Arab regimes really supported Israel’s punitive invasion of the Gaza strip begun in late 2008 which inflicted many civilian casualties and was condemned by a UN reportfor war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Stratfor article gave the impression that the invasion was not a war crime.
Stratfor reports also appear in mainstream non-ethnic media, such as Barron’s, the BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, Fox News, the New York Times and Reuters. But the popularity among Jewish publications is striking.
Wikipedia also signals Friedman’s robust Jewish identity. He is categorised as a Jewish writer. His parents were Jewish. He was born in Hungary from where his parents’ fled communist rule to the U.S. This combined with his early scholarly focus on Marxism indicates a typical neoconservative outlook. Friedman’s first book was The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School(1981). A review by Anthony Giddens reports that the book has some affinities with Marxist critiques of Horkheimer, Adorno et al., although Friedman considers the Frankfurt School to have been right wing (!) and is favourable towards it on that basis (see review here).
The idea that the Frankfurt School was right wing is the controversial aspect of Friedman’s analysis: that although they saw themselves as Marxists, Frankfurt School thinkers were in fact so radical in their critique of bourgeois culture, so pure in their drive to defend humanity from capitalist instrumental rationalism, that unlike conventional scientific socialists they sought to rescue the aesthetic and sacred from capitalism’s relentlessly profane functionalism. So radical were Horkheimer and Adorno (especially) that they completed the circle and drew on rightist anti-bourgeois thought, including de Sade, Nietzsche and Spengler. However Friedman did not wonder why these strongly identified Jews did not sympathise with economic nationalism — an important strand of anti-capitalist thought — or with the views of Werner Sombart who argued in his 1911 bookThe Jews and Modern Capitalism that Jews were the most successful practitioners of the capitalist mode of production. Why did they dwell almost exclusively on Jewish scholars such as Marx and Freud?
A more direct route to redefining Horkheimer and Adorno as rightist would be to emphasise their tribalism, the fact that their ethnocentrism drove their philosophy and choice of enemies and allies. This is one interpretation of Kevin MacDonald’s analysis of the Frankfurt School as a Jewish intellectual movement. Thus their efforts to shame Westerners and to overturn all but Jewish racism and nationalism could be interpreted with some plausibility as a form of tribalism or ethnic activism.
Whichever route Friedman took to categorise such thinkers as rightwing, it is a dubious credential for his claim to be an American conservative. Neither should real conservatives be content with this ideological background unless it is convincingly repudiated. The opposite is true. Friedman’s reports deviate from conservative realism wherever they touch on Jewish interests. Even his critique of Israeli settler extremism is couched in terms of what is good for Israel (“Jewish Extremists: A Growing Threat to Israel’s Security”). He does not categorise mainstream Israeli politics and its army of American Jewish contributors as extreme compared to the Western mainstream while simultaneously portraying transformative Third World immigration to the United States and Europe as an unavoidable and beneficial fact of life. Friedman predicts continuing American dominance partly because of its large size and small population density compared to Japan and Germany. This means that the U.S. can accommodate long term population growth via immigration. In addition, the U.S. is much better at making immigrants welcome. The result is that its population will not fall as will that of European powers, including Russia and Germany and that will allow it to remain vigorous economically (see here at about 4 minute mark). In case TOO readers think I’m exaggerating, here is a quote from that youtube interview, starting at 4:15:
The European countries have particular problems not only because their birthrate is plunging but because they are very bad at managing immigration. They don’t integrate very well. The birthrate of the White native population of North America, the United States, has actually plunged. The reason American population is rising is because of immigrants who are reproducing at a much higher rate. The United States is very good, for all the noise about Mexicans, at integrating immigrants. And that means we have a stability in the United States that you might not notice in Europe or Japan.
Friedman went on to note that Germany was projected to lose 20% of its population by 2030, and that Russia was even worse off. He concluded that they would not be able to maintain their position, unlike America with its stable population. (Curiously Friedman maintained this view despite also predicting in the same interview that the U.S. could lose Texas and New Mexico and perhaps other states as Mexican-Americans sought to reunite with Mexico.)
There it is. A “conservative” analyst, a cold realist, contends that White Americans being replaced by Mexicans will not affect the country’s wealth or power. Several objections come to mind but consider just one. In their groundbreaking book Intelligence and the Wealth of Nations (2002), Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen show that 50% of the international variance in per capita GDP and economic growth is explained by the average IQ of populations. Mexican IQ averages around 13 points below that of White Americans. This is a long-term trend as shown by the similar IQ of Hispanic Americans who have experienced good nutrition and American culture for generations.
Is that not a fact of staggering geopolitical import? But you will not find it or other relevant and well established facts about racial differences mentioned in Stratfor’s reports. Nor could I find a case where Dr. Friedman applied his iron logic to Israel, whose immigration policy contrasts with America’s near open door. Israel admits only people of Jewish descent and is excruciatingly conscious of the rising Arab population within its borders. Perhaps Stratfor has a paper recommending that Israel dispense with its dream of remaining a Jewish state by opening its doors to the world. When it shows up I shall inform TOO readers.
This has been a critique of Stratfor’s Jewish bias, which mars a generally conservative, realist record. It is understandable that conservatives are attracted to that record. For example, in his recent book, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, Friedman projects the breakup of the Russian Federation and the dismembership of China. He thinks that Siberia and central Eurasia will witness struggles for independence. These predictions are based on national histories, economics and other factors. Whether or not they come true, Friedman’s arguments are impressive.
Also Friedman nicely punctures the aura of rectitude and heroism surrounding the Washington Post’s exposé of President Nixon’s involvement in Watergate. He wrote the article in 2008 after the death of Mark Felt, the operational head of the FBI at the time. Friedman argues persuasively that the Post distorted the public’s understanding of Nixon’s fall when it agreed to protect Felt’s identity:
The Washington Post created a morality play about an out-of-control government brought to heel by two young, enterprising journalists and a courageous newspaper. That simply wasn’t what happened. Instead, it was about the FBI using The Washington Post to leak information to destroy the president, and The Washington Post willingly serving as the conduit for that information while withholding an essential dimension of the story by concealing Deep Throat’s identity.
The same analytic ability turned to revealing the realities of global population differences and ethnic power in the United States would make Stratfor’s prognoses more accurate and a service to the historical American nation. Instead, in the realm of ethnic power, far from being an agency for informing patriots Stratfor is complicit in the cultural war being waged against White America.
Charles Dodgson (email him) is the pen name of an English social analyst.
BRANCHBURG, NJ — Somerset County investigators seized a cache of weapons including a grenade launcher and hundreds of rounds of ammunition today from the Branchburg motel room of a Virginia man, who also had maps of a U.S. military facility and an out-of-state civilian community.
Lloyd Woodson, 43, of Virginia, faces weapons charges.
Lloyd Woodson, 43, whose last known address was Reston, Va., today faces multiple offenses, including second-degree unlawful weapons possession and fourth-degree possession of prohibited weapons, Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest said.
At the time of his arrest, Woodson was wearing a military-style ballistic vest with a reinforced steel plate and carrying a .223-caliber assault rifle that had been altered to fire .50-caliber ammunition, Forrest. He was also carrying four loaded magazines with hollow-point ammunition, Forrest said.
Branchburg police confronted Woodson at 3:55 a.m. at the Quick Chek convenience store on Route 28 after receiving a call reporting a suspicious person. Branchburg Patorlman Steven Cronce noticed a large bulge beneath the green, military-style jacket that Woodson was wearing, which was later determined to be the assault rifle with a defaced serial number, Forrest said.
Woodson appeared “extremely nervous” as Cronce questioned him, and he ultimately ran from the convenience store toward the Regency Trailer Park on Route 22, Forrest. Officers found Woodson hiding in the bushes and he attempted to run, Forrest said.
Officers tackled him and used pepper spray to subdue Woodson, Forrest said.
Detectives later searched Woodson’s room at the Red Mill Inn on Route 22 and found weapons including a .308-caliber semi-automatic assault rifle with a defaced serial number, a grenade launcher, hundreds .50-caliber and .308-caliber rounds, a police scanner, and the maps of a U.S. military installation and an out-of-state civilian community, Forrest said. Woodson, who is a Navy veteran, had been staying at the hotel since last week.
Investigators also found Middle Eastern red and white traditional headdress, Forrest said.
Calls placed to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington D.C. and the FBI’s Newark office late this afternoon were not immediately returned.
The investigation is ongoing, Forrest said. Anyone with information is asked to call Branchburg police at (908) 526-3830, the prosecutor’s office at (908) 231-7100 or Crime Stoppers of Somerset County at (888) 577-TIPS (8477). Citizens can also go online to www.888577tips.org and click “Give Tips” or www.scpo.net and click “Crime Stoppers.”
CNN on Tuesday highlighted the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change use of a unsubstantiated claim about the Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035 to put pressure on politicians across the globe. Meteorologist Rob Marciano thought the “snafu” on the part of the IPCC was “inexcusable,” while anchor Rick Sanchez put the panel and its head on his “List You Don’t Want to Be On.”
Marciano brought up the week-old story during a segment 49 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour. He played a sound bite from climatologist Jim White, who was attending the annual Steamboat Springs Weather Summit in Colorado (Marciano was on-location in Steamboat Springs). The CNN meteorologist voiced his agreement with White, who blasted the IPCC’s exaggeration:
MARCIANO: All right, one of many things we’re talking about out here later today [at the 21st annual Weather Summit in Steamboat Springs, Colorado]- we’re going to talk about climate, some of the- some top climate scientists are out here, and I got to talk to one of them yesterday, Jim White, and asked him about the IPCC report- you know, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There was a bit of snafu the past week or so, where they said that the glaciers in Himalayas we’re going to be gone by 2035. Well, that ended up being bad science, and this is what Jim had to say about that.
JIM WHITE, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: Too much is riding on the fact that we get it right as scientists. I know that they got it right in their scientific literature, all right? It was just put down wrong in the IPCC report. But that itself is inexcusable.
MARCIANO: It is inexcusable, and it’s hurting the credibility somewhat of that Nobel Prize-winning organization, and it’s frustrating climate scientists here certainly in the U.S.
Just over eight hours later, near the end of the 3 pm Eastern hour, Sanchez singled out IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri during his “List You Don’t Want to Be on” segment on his Rick’s List program:
SANCHEZ: And here we go- time now for the ‘List You Don’t Want to Be On.’ It’s a tricky name to pronounce, but it’s an important story. He is Rajendra Pachauri. He is not just a global warming expert. He is in charge of the United Nations panel on climate change. He signed off on a memo that said the Himalayan glaciers will melt by the year 2035. Really? That soon? Just 25 years from now, you say?
If the global warming opponents needed more ammunition, he just gave it to them, by overreaching. Pachauri’s group has since apologized. Oops.
On January 18, Chris Hastings and Jonathan Leake of The Australian reported that “[t]he peak UN body on climate change has been dealt another humiliating blow to its credibility after it was revealed a central claim of one of its benchmark reports – that most of the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 because of global warming – was based on a ‘speculative’ claim by an obscure Indian scientist.” Almost a week later, the Daily Mail from the UK revealed that “[t]he scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders. Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research….Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.’”
—Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.
In Part 2, Tom and Alain discuss Third World immigration into European countries, Islam’s current expansion, Alain’s critique of Capitalism and the “Americanization” of the world. The show includes:
Forced multiculturalism as the primary element of discord in European countries.
Capitalism as a bourgeois value system that prioritizes the accumulation of money above all else.
Alain’s thoughts on the future of America and Europe.
America’s Puritanical foundation and its quest for ethnic, social, economic and cultural Universalization
About Alain de Benoist
Alain de Benoist was born on 11 December 1943. He is married and has two children. He has studied law, philosophy, sociology, and the history of religions in Paris, France. A journalist and a writer, he is the editor of two journals: Nouvelle Ecole (since 1968) and Krisis (since 1988). His main fields of interest include the history of ideas, political philosophy, classical philosophy, and archaeology. He has published more than fifty books and three thousand articles. He is also a regular contributor to many French and European publications, journals, and papers (including Valeurs Actuelles, Le Spectacle du Monde, Magazine-Hebdo, Le Figaro-Magazine, in France, Telos in the United States, and Junge Freiheit in Germany). In 1978 he received the Grand Prix de l’Essai from the Academie Francaise for his book Vu de droite: Anthologie critique des idees contemporaines (Copernic, 1977). He has also been a regular contributor to the radio program France-Culture and has appeared in numerous television debates.
Jamie discusses Australia Day, which we celebrate today in honor of the founding of the great White land of our cousin Aussies. This theme takes us right into the story of the patriotic surfers of Cronulla (the beach near Syndey) who stood up against the non-White invasion of their homeland in December 2005.
Police and prosecutors won’t give up their license to steal.
Around 3 in the morning on January 7, 2009, a 22-year-old college student named Anthony Smelley was pulled over on Interstate 70 in Putnam County, Indiana. He and two friends were en route from Detroit to visit Smelley’s aunt in St. Louis. Smelley, who had recently received a $50,000 settlement from a car accident, was carrying around $17,500 in cash, according to later court documents. He claims he was bringing the money to buy a new car for his aunt.
The officer who pulled him over, Lt. Dwight Simmons of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, said that Smelley had made an unsafe lane change and was driving with an obscured license plate. When Simmons asked for a driver’s license, Smelley told him he had lost it after the accident. Simmons called in Smelley’s name and discovered that his license had actually expired. The policeman asked Smelley to come out of the car, patted him down, and discovered a large roll of cash in his front pocket, in direct contradiction to Smelley’s alleged statement in initial questioning that he wasn’t, in fact, carrying much money.
A record check indicated that Smelley had previously been arrested (though not charged) for drug possession as a teenager, so the officer called in a K-9 unit to sniff the car for drugs. According to the police report, the dog gave two indications that narcotics might be present. So Smelley and his passengers were detained and the police seized Smelley’s $17,500 cash under Indiana’s asset forfeiture law.
But a subsequent hand search of the car turned up nothing except an empty glass pipe containing no drug residue in the purse of Smelley’s girlfriend. Lacking any other evidence, police never charged anybody in the car with a drug-related crime. Yet not only did Putnam County continue to hold onto Smelley’s money, but the authorities initiated legal proceedings to confiscate it permanently.
Smelley’s case was no isolated incident. Over the past three decades, it has become routine in the United States for state, local, and federal governments to seize the property of people who were never even charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. Nearly every year, according to Justice Department statistics, the federal government sets new records for asset forfeiture. And under many state laws, the situation is even worse: State officials can seize property without a warrant and need only show “probable cause” that the booty was connected to a drug crime in order to keep it, as opposed to the criminal standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead of being innocent until proven guilty, owners of seized property all too often have a heavier burden of proof than the government officials who stole their stuff.
Municipalities have come to rely on confiscated property for revenue. Police and prosecutors use forfeiture proceeds to fund not only general operations but junkets, parties, and swank office equipment. A cottage industry has sprung up to offer law enforcement agencies instruction on how to take and keep property more efficiently. And in Indiana, where Anthony Smelley is still fighting to get his money back, forfeiture proceeds are enriching attorneys who don’t even hold public office, a practice that violates the U.S. Constitution.
Guilty Property, Innocent Owners
Technically, civil asset forfeiture proceedings are brought against the property itself, not the owner. Hence they often have odd case titles, such as U.S. v. Eight Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Dollars or U.S. v. One 1987 Jeep Wrangler. The government need only demonstrate that the seized property is somehow related to a crime, generally either by showing that it was used in the commission of the act (as with a car driven to and from a drug transaction, or a house from which drugs are sold) or that it was purchased with the proceeds.
Because the property itself is on trial, the owner has the status of a third-party claimant. Once the government has shown probable cause of a property’s “guilt,” the onus is on the owner to prove his innocence. The parents of a drug-dealing teenager, for instance, would have to show they had no knowledge the kid was using the family car to facilitate drug transactions. Homeowners have to show they were unaware that a resident was keeping drugs on the premises. Anyone holding cash in close proximity to illicit drugs may have to document that he earned the money legitimately.
When owners of seized property put up a legal fight (and the majority do not), the cases are almost always heard by judges, not juries. In some states forfeiture claimants don’t even have the right to a jury trial. But even in states where they do, owners tend to waive that right, because jury proceedings are longer and more expensive. Federal forfeiture claimants are technically guaranteed a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment, but can lose the right if they fail to reply in a timely manner to sometimes complicated government notices of seizure.
Federal asset forfeiture law dates back to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act of 1970, a law aimed at seizing profits earned by organized crime. In 1978 Congress broadened RICO to include drug violations. But it was the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 that made forfeiture the lucrative, widely used law enforcement tool it is today.
“The Crime Control Act did a few things,” says the Virginia-based defense attorney David Smith, author of the legal treatise Prosecution and Defense of Forfeiture Cases. “First, it corrected some poor drafting in the earlier laws. Second, it created two federal forfeiture funds, one in the Justice Department and one in the Treasury. And most important, it included an earmarking provision that gave forfeiture proceeds back to local law enforcement agencies that helped in a federal forfeiture.”
This last bit was key. “The thinking was that this would motivate police agencies to use the forfeiture provisions,” Smith says. “They were right. It also basically made law enforcement an interest group. They directly benefited from the law. Since it was passed, they’ve fought hard to keep it and strengthen it.”
The 1984 law lowered the bar for civil forfeiture. To seize property, the government had only to show probable cause to believe that it was connected to drug activity, or the same standard cops use to obtain search warrants. The state was allowed to use hearsay evidence—meaning a federal agent could testify that a drug informant told him a car or home was used in a drug transaction—but property owners were barred from using hearsay, and couldn’t even cross-examine some of the government’s witnesses. Informants, while being protected from scrutiny, were incentivized monetarily: According to the law, snitches could receive as much as one-quarter of the bounty, up to $50,000 per case.
According to a 1992 Cato Institute study examining the early results of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, total federal forfeiture revenues increased by 1,500 percent between 1985 and 1991. The Justice Department’s forfeiture fund (which doesn’t include forfeitures from customs agents) jumped from $27 million in 1985 to $644 million in 1991; by 1996 it crossed the $1 billion line, and as of 2008 assets had increased to $3.1 billion. According to the government’s own data, less than 20 percent of federal seizures involved property whose owners were ever prosecuted.
More than 80 percent of federal seizures are never challenged in court, according to Smith. To supporters of forfeiture, this statistic is an indication of the owners’ guilt, but opponents argue it simply reflects the fact that in many cases the property was worth less than the legal costs of trying to get it back. Under the 1984 law, forfeiture defendants can’t be provided with a court-appointed attorney, meaning an innocent property owner without significant means would have to find a lawyer willing to take his case for free or in exchange for a portion of the property should he succeed in winning it back. And to even get a day in court, owners were forced to post a bond equal to 10 percent of the value of their seized property.
The average Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) property seizure in 1998 was worth about $25,000. In 2000 a Justice Department source told the PBS series Frontline that this figure was also the cutoff under which most forfeiture attorneys advised clients that their cases wouldn’t be worth pursuing. So a law aimed at denying drug kingpins their ill-gotten millions ended up affecting mostly those with so little loot it didn’t even make sense to hire an attorney to win it back.
Police gradually came to view asset forfeiture as not just a way to minimize drug profits, or even to fill their own coffers, but as a tool to enforce maximum compliance on non-criminals. In one highly publicized example from the 1990s, Jason Brice nearly lost the motel he had bought and renovated in a high-crime area of Houston. At the request of local authorities, Brice hired private security, allowed police to patrol his property (at some cost to his business), and spent tens of thousands of dollars in other measures to prevent drug activity on the premises. But when local police asked Brice to raise his rates to deter criminals, he refused, saying it would put him out of business. Stepped up police harassment of his customers caused Brice to eventually terminate the agreement that had allowed them latitude on his property. In less than a month, local and federal officials tried to seize Brice’s motel on the grounds that he was aware of drug dealing taking place there. Brice eventually won, but only after an expensive, drawn-out legal battle.
By the late 1990s, stories such as Brice’s finally moved Congress to act. After a series of emotional hearings in 2000, Congress passed the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), authored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.). The bill raised the federal government’s burden of proof in forfeiture cases from probable cause to a preponderance of the evidence, the same standard as in other civil cases. It barred the government from using hearsay and allowed owners who won forfeiture challenges to obtain reimbursement for legal expenses.
The bill wasn’t perfect. Seizures made by customs agents, as opposed to the DEA or FBI, would still be governed by the old rules. Hyde (who died in 2007) wanted an even heavier burden of proof for the government, the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases. That didn’t pass. Under CAFRA, the federal government could still take your property without proving beyond a reasonable doubt that any crime was committed, much less that you yourself had committed one. But at least the reforms made the process a bit more difficult.
Problem was, the 1984 law had already spawned dozens of imitators on the state level, and CAFRA applied only to the feds. Forfeiture had been sending money to police departments and prosecutors’ offices for 16 years, so even in the few states that passed laws to make the process more fair, officials found ways around them. Once the authorities have a license to steal, it turns out to be very difficult to revoke.
Present Punishment for Future Crimes
On February 4, 2009, Anthony Smelley got his first hearing before an Indiana judge. Smelley’s attorney, David Kenninger, filed a motion asking for summary judgment against the county, citing a letter from a Detroit law firm stating that the seized money indeed came from an accident settlement, not a drug transaction. Kenninger also argued that because there were no drugs in Smelley’s car, the state had failed to show the required “nexus” between the cash and illegal activity. Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Headley seemed to agree, hitting Christopher Gambill, who represented Putnam County, with some tough questions. That’s when Gambill made an argument that was remarkable even for a forfeiture case.
“You have not alleged that this person was dealing in drugs, right?” Judge Headley said.
“No,” Gambill responded. “We alleged this money was being transported for the purpose of being used to be involved in a drug transaction.”
Incredibly, Gambill was arguing that the county could seize Smelley’s money for a crime that hadn’t yet been committed. Asked in a phone interview to clarify, Gambill stands by the general principle. “I can’t respond specifically to that case,” he says, “but yes, under the state forfeiture statute, we can seize money if we can show that it was intended for use in a drug transaction at a later date.” (Smelley himself refused to be interviewed for this article.)
The New York–based attorney Steven Kessler, author of the legal treatise Civil and Criminal Forfeiture: Federal and State Practice, says he has never heard the “future crimes” argument. “Can you imagine any judge in America allowing an argument like that to stand?” Kessler says. “It’s obscene. It’s like something out of that movie Minority Report. We don’t punish people for crimes they haven’t yet committed.”
Smelley’s fight for his money would only get more bizarre. At the conclusion of the February hearing, Judge Headley temporarily granted the motion for summary judgment, ordering the county to return the money. But there was a catch. Under Indiana law, the county had an additional 10 days to amend its complaint to show a connection between the seized property and illegal activity. If after that 10-day period the state didn’t amend its complaint, or if the judge found the amendments insufficient, Smelley could retrieve his cash and be on his way.
But Headley would never rule on the amended complaint. Days after issuing summary judgment, Headley pulled himself off the case without explanation. Smelley’s case was then batted around Indiana county courts for months, before finally ending up in front of Special Judge David Bolk. On August 18, more than seven months after Smelley’s money was seized, Bolk overturned Headley’s summary judgment. The opinion was curt, and didn’t offer an explanation. Bolk ordered a civil forfeiture trial for November 13. The trial was then postponed again until January 29, 2010, due to congestion in the court system. That means Putnam County will have held Smelley’s money for more than a year before giving him the opportunity to argue that he should get it back.
‘Make the Bad Guys Pay!’
A survey of state and federal forfeiture since 2000 shows that CAFRA hasn’t stopped the exponential growth of government asset seizure. Adjusted for inflation, the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund, which includes proceeds from forfeitures carried out by all federal agencies except Immigration and Customs Enforcement, grew from $1.3 billion in 2001 to $3.1 billion in 2008. (The total includes some money left over from previous years, but according to Smith, almost all of the money is doled out to local and federal agencies on an annual basis.) National Public Radio has reported that between 2003 and 2007, the amount of money seized by local law enforcement agencies enrolled in the federal forfeiture program tripled from $567 million to $1.6 billion. That doesn’t include property seized by local law enforcement agencies without involving federal authorities.
While the Hyde bill placed some limits on federal civil forfeiture, it eased the process of seizing property in criminal forfeiture cases. Criminal forfeiture requires a conviction, so the property owner at least has to be found guilty of a crime, but the potential for abuse is widespread here, too. For example, prosecutors can “substitute assets” if they believe a defendant has disposed of seizable property. A court will issue a money judgment based on an estimate of how much the defendant has made through criminal endeavors. In some federal districts, prosecutors can then collect by seizing property that they can’t prove was connected to any illegal activity.
Smith, the Virginia-based forfeiture specialist, says courts generally rubber-stamp the government’s estimate on substitute assets, putting the defendant on the hook for that amount the rest of his life. This practice can be particularly unfair in conspiracy cases, where unequal defendants can be conjoined under the doctrine of joint and several liability. If 10 defendants are convicted in a drug conspiracy case and a court enters a total money judgment for $10 million, all 10 are liable until the $10 million is paid in full. If the five most responsible parties are sent to prison for 40 years, the remaining five—be they mid-level dealers, foot soldiers, or a girlfriend who forwarded a few phone calls—are liable for the entire $10 million, no matter who actually got the money in the end. “The government is always going to go after the guy with the most money, regardless of culpability,” Smith says. “Even if he played only a small role in the conspiracy and earned everything he owns legitimately.”
Criminal forfeiture can also prevent defendants from effectively contesting the charges against them. When the DEA accuses a doctor of illegally prescribing pain medication, for example, one of the first actions it takes is to freeze his assets for possible forfeiture. Since most doctors make their entire living from their practice, nearly everything they own can be frozen. Many accused doctors therefore don’t have the resources to hire legal representation, much less experts to counter government assertions that they’re prescribing controlled substances outside the normal practice of medicine. Forfeiture makes it nearly impossible for them to mount a credible defense.
In addition to raising questions of fairness, forfeiture has warped the priorities of law enforcement agencies. In 2008 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives asked for bids from private contractors on 2,000 Leatherman pocket knives for its agents, to be inscribed with the phrase “Always Think Forfeiture,” a play on the agency’s traditional “ATF” initials. The agency rescinded the order after it was reported in the Idaho Statesman, but critics said it betrayed the ethic of an organization more interested in taking people’s property than in fighting crime.
Some police agencies come to view forfeiture not just as an occasional windfall for buying guns, police cars, or better equipment, but as a source of funding for basic operations. This is especially true with multijurisdictional drug task forces, some of which have become financially independent of the states, counties, and cities in which they operate, thanks to forfeiture and federal anti-drug grants.
In a 2001 study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice, the University of Texas at Dallas criminologist John Worral surveyed 1,400 police departments around the country on their use of forfeiture and the way they incorporated seized assets into their budgets. Worral, who describes himself as agnostic on the issue, concluded that “a substantial proportion of law enforcement agencies are dependent on civil asset forfeiture” and that “forfeiture is coming to be viewed not only as a budgetary supplement, but as a necessary source of income.” Almost half of surveyed police departments with more than 100 law enforcement personnel said forfeiture proceeds were “necessary as a budget supplement” for department operations.
Such widespread use of forfeiture has created an industry of facilitators. Organizations such as the International Association for Asset Recovery sponsor conferences where law enforcement officials learn how to maximize their asset-seizing potential. They also offer certifications in forfeiture expertise. Advertising a Florida conference on its website in 2009, an outfit called Asset Recovery Watch (slogan: “Make the bad guys pay!”) assures budget-conscious police departments that federal law permits them to use forfeiture funds to send police officers away to forfeiture conferences for training.
Forfeiture may also undermine actual enforcement of the law. In a 1994 study reported in Justice Quarterly, criminologists J. Mitchell Miller and Lance H. Selva observed several police agencies that identified drug supplies but delayed making busts to maximize the cash they could seize, since seized cash is more lucrative for police departments than seized drugs. This strategy allowed untold amounts of illicit drugs to be sold and moved into the streets, contrary to the official aims of drug enforcement.
There is also a potential conflict between forfeiture and criminal prosecution. Smith says prosecutors rarely initiate civil forfeiture proceedings against someone who has been acquitted on criminal charges, although the law allows them to do so. “I think the feeling is that a jury would be very skeptical of that—that this person was acquitted in court and that to now try to take his property too is unfair,” he says. “If they don’t think a jury would be sympathetic, it isn’t worth their time to pursue it.” If a prosecutor pursues a criminal case, with its higher burden of proof, he risks losing the ability to take the suspect’s assets. If he drops the criminal case and just goes after the property with a case that is easier to prove, the suspect goes free, but the government gets to keep his stuff.
“There’s also the temptation for prosecutors to offer a plea on the criminal charges in exchange for forfeiting some of the property,” says Scott Bullock, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm. “If you support the drug laws—and not all of us do—but if you support them, you have to question the incentives.”
Highway Robbery in Texas
The Supreme Court this spring will rule on Alvarez v. Smith, a challenge to Illinois’ forfeiture statute, which mostly mirrors the 1984 federal law—property can be seized without a warrant, retained using only probable cause; the government can use hearsay, defendants cannot; the burden of proof rests largely on those who have their stuff seized; and even victorious defendants cannot recover court costs or attorney fees.
The Supreme Court is unlikely to rule on any of those provisions. Instead it will consider a wrinkle that allows the state to keep property for up to six months before giving the owner his first day in court. Innocent property owners can be kept waiting more than a year before getting a decision, a predicament that critics say imposes an unconstitutional burden, particularly in cases where the police have seized someone’s car.
In other states, the problem isn’t so much the strict provisions on the books, but rather the relevant law’s ambiguity, which can give police and prosecutors too much leeway. Tiny Tenaha, Texas, population 1,046, made national news in 2008 after a series of reports alleged that the town’s police force was targeting black and Latino motorists along Highway 84, a busy regional artery that connects Houston to Louisiana’s casinos, ensuring a reliable harvest of cash-heavy motorists. The Chicago Tribune reported that in just the three years between 2006 and 2008, Tenaha police stopped 140 drivers and asked them to sign waivers agreeing to hand over their cash, cars, jewelry, and other property to avoid arrest and prosecution on drug charges. If the drivers agreed, police took their property and waved them down the highway. If they refused, even innocent motorists faced months of legal hassles and thousands of dollars in attorney fees, usually amounting to far more than the value of the amount seized. One local attorney found court records of 200 cases in which Tenaha police had seized assets from drivers; only 50 were ever criminally charged.
National Public Radio reported in 2008 that in Kingsville, Texas, a town of 25,000, “Police officers drive high-performance Dodge Chargers and use $40,000 digital ticket writers. They’ll soon carry military-style assault rifles, and the SWAT team recently acquired sniper rifles.” All this equipment was funded with proceeds from highway forfeitures.
Texas prosecutors benefited too. Former Kimble County, Texas, District Attorney Ron Sutton used forfeiture money to pay the travel expenses for him and 198th District Judge Emil Karl Pohl to attend a conference in Hawaii. It was OK, the prosecutor told NPR, because Pohl approved the trip. (The judge later resigned over the incident.) Shelby County, Texas, District Attorney Lynda Kay Russell, whose district includes Tenaha, used forfeiture money to pay for tickets to a motorcycle rally and a Christmas parade. Russell is also attempting to use money from the forfeiture fund to pay for her defense against a civil rights lawsuit brought by several motorists whose property she helped take. In 2005, the district attorney in Montgomery County, Texas, had to admit that his office spent forfeiture money on an office margarita machine. The purchase got attention when the office won first place in a margarita competition at the county fair.
While police departments have been benefiting from forfeiture policies for years, funneling the money to prosecutors raises even more problems. “Police merely seize the property,” David Smith says. “They don’t determine which cases go forward. It’s a violation of due process if the prosecutor, the person actually deciding whether or not to bring a forfeiture case, benefits somehow from the decision. You can’t have the same person deciding which cases to take also directly benefiting from those cases.”
Smith and the Institute for Justice’s Scott Bullock both believe language in the 1982 Supreme Court decision Marshall v. Jerrico Inc. suggests that if a law allowing prosecutors’ offices to benefit from forfeiture proceeds were challenged in federal court, it might be struck down. “Jerrico actually found that a government agency can be reimbursed from the defendant’s assets for the cost of an investigation,” says Bullock. “But in dicta, the Court indicated that it would strike down a law that allowed a particular public official to benefit from bringing a case.” The Institute for Justice brought such a challenge to New Jersey’s forfeiture law, which allows proceeds to flow into the general budgets of district attorneys. The New Jersey Supreme Court rejected the argument. So far no one has used Jerrico to challenge a state forfeiture law in federal court.
“I think that’s where it needs to happen,” Smith says. “State courts are made up of former prosecutors and other people who have connections to the community. No one wants to be the one who puts an end to all of this. I think it will take a federal court challenge to do it.”
Not every state has kept its old laws intact. Kessler, the New York attorney and forfeiture expert, says 27 states have adopted CAFRA-style reforms. Some go even further, requiring that the proceeds from forfeited property go directly to the state general fund or to a fund earmarked for a specific purpose, such as education.
But here, too, things aren’t always as they seem. In Missouri, for example, forfeited property is supposed to go to the state’s public schools. But in 1999 a series of reports in TheKansas City Star showed how Missouri police agencies were circumventing state law. After seizing property, local police departments would turn it over to the DEA or another federal agency. Under federal law, the federal agency can keep 20 percent or more of the money; the rest, up to 80 percent, goes back to the local police department that conducted the investigation. None of the money in these cases goes to the schools.
The Kansas City Star investigation made national news at the time, but Kessler says the practice of circumventing earmarking through federal “adoption” is now common all over the country. “It happens a lot,” he says. “It clearly goes against the intent of the state legislatures that passed these laws, but I don’t know of any state that has made a serious effort to prevent it from happening.”
‘It’s Blatantly Unconstitutional’
Timothy Bookwalter, the elected chief prosecutor for Putnam County, Indiana, did not represent the county in its effort to keep Anthony Smelley’s money. Nor did anyone else in his office. Instead, the case was handled by Christopher Gambill, a local attorney in private practice. Gambill manages civil forfeiture cases for several Indiana counties, and he gets to keep a portion of what he wins in court. “My contingency for my own county is a quarter; for the others it’s a third,” Gambill says.
The concept is alarming. If allowing public prosecutors to benefit from forfeiture funds brushes up against due process, allowing an unaccountable private attorney to run forfeiture cases and keep a portion of the winnings rams a steamroller straight through the notion. “This is scandalous,” Kessler says. “It’s blatantly unconstitutional.”
Gambill not only argues and briefs Putnam County forfeiture cases; he also determines which cases the county pursues in the first place. That means nongovernmental forfeiture attorneys are making criminal justice decisions that directly bolster their incomes. “It’s really bad policy,” David Smith says. “I also don’t see how it could possibly be legal.”
Mark Rutherford, chairman of the Indiana Public Defender Commission, says he isn’t aware of any court challenges to the practice. “It’s just sort of accepted here that this is the way things are,” Rutherford says. “There are attorneys who have amassed fortunes off of these cases.” The office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller referred inquiries about this contracting system to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, which represents the state’s prosecutors. That organization did not return several calls seeking comment.
Like Missouri, Indiana theoretically allocates asset forfeiture proceeds to its public schools. In fact, that requirement is spelled out in Indiana’s constitution. But there are ways around this restriction. “If you can get someone to settle without having to go to court, under state law that technically isn’t a forfeiture,” Gambill says. “So it can all go to the police and prosecutors’ offices. After the contingency, of course.”
‘We All Get Greedy’
The country’s lurch to the political left won’t necessarily mean a greater protection for civil liberties in forfeiture cases. Asset seizure, in fact, is one area where conservatives tend to take a less law-enforcement-friendly position than liberals. “Conservatives value property,” Kessler says, “so they tend to be sympathetic to property owners in these cases. If you look back at the Supreme Court cases putting limits on forfeiture, most were written by conservative justices. And of course Rep. Hyde was a conservative Republican.”
Don’t be surprised, then, if forfeiture power expands in the coming years, particularly with respect to financial fraud, tax evasion, and other white-collar crimes. “It’s always a pendulum, swinging back and forth,” Kessler says. “I think we are in the pro-government phase now.”
But over the long term, Kessler is more optimistic about reform. Expanding unjust forfeiture laws to include new classes of people makes the members of those classes aware of just how unfair those laws can be. And the government always overplays its hand. “We all get greedy, and the government is no exception,” he says. “I think that in this climate, they’ll go for too much, and then the courts will rein them in. It’s unfortunate that that’s the way it has to happen.”
As for Anthony Smelley: As of this writing, more than a year after the police took $17,500 of his money, he has yet to have his day in court.
Radley Balko (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior editor atreason.
Joachim Neander, PhD, an independent scholar from Cracow, Poland, examines Irene Weisberg Zisblatt’s Holocaust survivor memoir and concludes that it is “not in accordance with the historically established facts,” “exaggerated,” “implausible” and not true overall. Neander has contributed to publications in Poland, Germany, Israel and the USA. In 2001-02, he had a Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellowship for Archival Research at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
His January 9th article, Irene Zisblatt, the “Diamond Girl”- Fact or Fiction? can be read here.
Dr. Neander asks in the title of his critical review of Irene Zisblatt’s autobiography The Fifth Diamond, which purports to be a Holocaust survivor ‘true story,’ or memoir, whether it is fact or fiction. He comes to the only conclusion possible for a man who wishes to maintain his reputation as a scholar—that it is mostly fiction.
However, probably for the reason that he seems to have been assigned this project by some well-known Holocaust defenders (Kenneth Waltzer, Chairman of the Jewish Studies Dept. at the University of Michigan, who provided him with the Seigelstein documents, for one) and he is a Holocaust defender himself, he has tried to soften the blow wherever he thinks he can, going out of his way to find some positive things to say about “Mrs. Zisblatt” and her narrative. These positives are mainly in the realm of having a forgiving spirit and a sympathetic attitude toward an “elderly lady” who has suffered in her life. But Neander rightly decides that truth must be upheld, it being more important that not hurting someone’s feelings.
On the whole, Neander does an excellent job of dissecting Zisblatt’s claims in The Fifth Diamond, but his forgiving spirit causes him to overlook some of her more atrocious lies, and her attacks on the German character, by attributing them solely to her repeating “Holocaust stereotypes and myths.” In my opinion, she exhibits a special intent to blacken the German nation and magnify the alleged hatred of the “Nazi” for the Jew, when she includes long dismissed war atrocity propaganda, such as Nazi soldiers tearing Jewish babies in half and throwing them in a river; SS men picking up Jewish children by the legs and banging their heads against a truck; hauling children to a burning pit; using the skin of Jewish women like herself to make lampshades and gloves; undergoing meaningless but very painful “experiments” by Dr. Mengele, of whom she made the statement, “Yes, that kind of hatred existed in the Twentieth Century in Nazi Germany.” The hateful attitude of Germans vs. the innocence of all Jewish victims is her theme. All SS are cruel monsters and so are even non-German Gentiles; she doesn’t distinguish between them—they have all become Nazis.
Since Neander basically agrees with my own dissection of Zisblatt’s book, I will here just point out the things he has smoothed over, in some cases by “setting it aside,” in order to “soften the blow” to Zisblatt, the Holocaust Industry, and all who are involved or have an interest in the Zisblatt saga.
Smoothing over inconvenient facts/implications
In the first paragraph, Neander writes that she “had her first name changed to Irene” when she obtained a visa in 1947 for emigration to New York. That can be understood either as ‘someone else changed her first name’ or ‘she herself had it changed’—leaving the interpretation up to the reader. In fact, she claims in her book (but not in her testimony) that her name was Chana (by which she called herself up to that point), and this name was changed, much to her surprise, by an immigration official because he (or someone) thought the “American” name of Irene would be better for her. Taking such prerogatives is and was simply not done by immigration officials, and adds to the farcical quality of the book.
Neander asks in the 7th paragraph, pointing out why some will believe he should not criticize Zisblatt: “Are there not the Holocaust deniers, who already have attacked Mrs. Zisblatt on the Web and even at court? […] a handful of cranks.” But Dr. Neander, isn’t it just these “cranks” that have brought the fictions of Zisblatt to your attention; that have stood up for the truth, in spite of being called names for it? Would you have written this article were it not for we “cranks?” The reason Neander gives for telling the truth about dishonest holocaust survivors is not a regard for truth itself, but is because students who today are gullible enough to believe it, might, when they grow up, “reach for a scholarly book” and, discovering they were lied to, reject the entire Holocaust story. Ironically, that is exactly what happened with Eric Hunt. He was forced to read Elie Wiesel’s Night in high school; he believed it was true and was distressed by it, but learning later that it was a fiction, he is now a well-known “holocaust denier.” So people like Neander are cognizant that extreme liars like Zisblatt must be rejected. (He will need to take on Wiesel next.)
Neander only gives a couple of instances of Zisblatt’s Shoah testimony that differ from her book, whereas in reality there are many, as I have documented in “A Special Jewel in the Genre of Holocaust Horror Stories,” posted here at Inconvenient History Blog. This alone proves that one or the other is fiction—as it turns out, both are.
Neander says that Zisblatt is very lax in putting dates to the events she describes, but “this is common in survivor memoirs, and it alone does not speak against her.” Yes, it does, Dr. Neander. Just because it is common among dishonest survivors doesn’t excuse it. In Zisblatt’s case, her bigger problem is that the dates she does give, or attempts to give, are wrong.
Neander goes on to say that, in spite of her failure to provide dates, “We can fix her arrival at Birkenau between May 16 and 26, 1945, when the deportation transports from Munkács arrived there.” Now he is ignoring that Zisblatt says in both her Shoah testimony and book that her family was transported to Munkács (a two hour train ride) two days after Passover, which was April 8 in 1944. She says they spent no more than a week in the Munkács Sajovits ghetto (which corresponds with other witnesses) before being transported to Auschwitz (a 3 day trip, though she says 5 days). This puts her stated arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau on April 20 or 22, a full month ahead of the officially stated arrival of Jews from Munkács. This is one of Neander’s “smooth-overs” or an oversight on his part.
Neander contributes two items of important factual information that highlight the seriousness of Zisblatt’s lies. One is the fact that the number 61397, which she claims was the Auschwitz prisoner number tattooed on her arm (or under it) that she “could never forget,” could not have been her number. According to records, it belonged in 1943 to a non-Jewish Polish female political prisoner, and numbers were never given twice after 1942. This puts a big blot on Zisblatt’s AND the Shoah Foundation’s credibility. The other is the two file cards from the International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen, supplied to him by Kenneth Waltzer, referring to a single page from an Auschwitz list of prisoners, the original of which can be found in the Archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum under file nr. D-HygInst/7/No.inw.106156 Segr.50 str.285, according to Neander. There her name is spelled as “Zegelstein, Irén.” The Auschwitz list contains over 770 names of Jewish Hungarian women from Block 8 of camp sector BIIc (Lager C in Zisblatt’s terminology). This is the transit section of the camp. The list is dated September 28, 1944. It has no prisoner numbers because the women from BIIc, the “transit Jews,” were not registered and, therefore, did not have Auschwitz prisoner numbers. The List is a part of documents from the SS Hygiene Institute Auschwitz showing that the women were screened by stool samples, found to be free of typhus and other diseases, and could be transferred into the Reich’s interior for labor. This is an important addition to what we know about Irene Zegelstein of Poleno, and confirms that Zisblatt has concocted a story different from what is the real story of this person.
Neander twice uses the phrase, “There can be no doubt …” about something that can clearly be doubted. The first is: “There can be no doubt that a multitude of unethical, cruel, and even outright criminal medical experiments were performed by SS doctors (and paramedics) in the concentration camps.” A multitude? There is little clear evidence for this, and certainly not for a “multitude.” And even as he says this, he dismisses the experiments that Zisblatt describes as “urban legends” or “pure fantasy.” Neander restricts his own speculation about Dr. Mengele to saying he was the “camp physician at Birkenau” and saw himself as a “scientist.”
A similar self-serving statement: “There can be no doubt that most of the crimes and atrocities reported in The Fifth Diamond did happen sometime, at Auschwitz or another site of the Final Solution.” Here Dr. Neander is contradicting himself. In his own words, he characterized “most of the crimes and atrocities” reported by Zisblatt as simply legends and rumors; as never happening — anywhere. His scholarly credentials are being strongly tested when he uses the phrase “there can be no doubt.”
Says diamonds central to book marketing
Neander writes that “it is inconceivable that Chana for months has been able to relieve herself undisturbed in some corner of the latrine and to retrieve her diamonds unnoticed. As the diamond episode is central in the marketing of Mrs. Zisblatt’s book—and also in her contribution to the documentary The Last Days with the sub-title Everything you are about to see is true — Holocaust deniers hook up particularly on this part of her story.” How right he is. Congenital liars like Zisblatt and the producers of, and other survivors featured in, The Last Days do indeed make it easy for holocaust revisionists and doubters.
But Neander then makes the foolish argument or comment that “On the other hand, according to her story, Chana obviously did not have health problems with ingesting feces, as the Stehzelle episode shows. During the five days in this dungeon, the girls relieve themselves into the ankle-deep water in which they stand and drink the same water repeatedly, without becoming sick.” Is this supposed to make an impression on a few of the more gullible that the diamond-swallowing story could be true, since Chana allegedly could ingest feces without getting sick?!
Neander himself wrote about the “eye-color experiment” earlier, saying “It is also hardly believable that after the experiment the girls were confined to Stehzelle (standing cell) arrest, and that they survived there five days without food and drink. […] What is more, in the known history of Auschwitz we never hear about standing cells filled ‘with water up to [the prisoners'] ankles’.” Cells would not be full of water in any event, because that would mean the guards would sometimes have to walk in that filthy water themselves. It totally contradicts all the efforts made in the camps to prevent disease and epidemics.
The version of the eye-experiment story in which the fifteen women were put into a small cubicle that was divided into little sections, designed so that they could walk into or touch the person in the section on either side only, was in Zisblatt’s Shoah testimony. In her book, the five girls are standing very close together in one small cell located below the Birkenau infirmary. If this is her idea of what “standing cells” were (after reading the literature about them), she has botched it up as she does everything else. The four Stehzellen alleged to be in the basement of Block 11 at Auschwitz (for which there is no definitive evidence beside witness testimony that they ever existed ; what is shown to visitors today are all reconstructions) were in the main camp, not in Birkenau. These reconstructions have a tiny door that would make it extremely difficult for each person to enter and be brought out again. According to official historiography, the alleged standing cells were torn down by order of Arthur Liebehenschel, the new camp commandant on December 1, 1943.  Assuming that this is so, they could not have existed when “Chana” and “Sabka” were being “experimented” on.
Above is a partially-built reconstruction of a “standing cell” that is shown to visitors in the basement of Block 11 at Auschwitz. These cells are approximately 3 feet square and must be crawled into through the tiny door, as shown in this 1998 photo. (credit: scrapbookpages.com)
Gas Chamber story most implausible of all
As unbelievable as being able to relieve herself in the corner of the latrine is to Neander, he calls her account of her trip to the gas chamber and subsequent escape “the most implausible episode in Mrs. Zisblatt’s story.” In saying this, he is admitting that she never went to the gas chamber at all. This is a very serious charge, coming from someone who wants to keep her viable by “reconstructing” her story. To tell thousands of young, impressionable teenagers — in their school setting where they are conditioned to believe what they are told — that she experienced being sent naked to a gas chamber to be murdered by the cruelest people on earth, the Germans, when she experienced nothing of the sort — well, what do you call a person like that? What do you call those who support her and facilitate her story, even when they know or suspect she is not telling the truth, such as Steven Spielberg and the Survivors of the Shoah Foundation?
The fantastic account of American “Liberator” General George S. Patton meeting with Chana is one of the incidents that Neander decides to “set aside” on the grounds that “it is difficult to prove or disprove.” Difficult, perhaps, but not impossible to discover that Patton was never in the Volary or Pilsen area when Zisblatt claims she was there.
Neander notes that “Since the only fellow prisoner whose name she remembers, Sabka, died at the very end of the war, it is also nearly impossible to cross-check her memoir.” He should add that by the time she revealed her holocaust experience, 50 years after the fact, everyone involved was dead! This includes the relatives she came to live with in America, and the man she married in 1956 when she was going by the name of Stein, who died in 1969—who was left to refute what she said?
The only other characters she gave a name to were Dr. Mengele and “Bob,” the Jewish soldier who “liberated” her. If he were really the friend to her that she claims, he would have given her his last name and probably an address to “keep in touch” after the war, and she would not have forgotten it. This by itself shows Zisblatt’s entire story to be as phony as a three-dollar bill, to use a trite but effective phrase.
In another effort at rehabilitation, Neander writes: “It is well possible that she personally believes what she tells, that her story is her ‘subjective truth’.” But in all honesty, it is NOT possible that she believes it. She has given two completely different versions of her holocaust experience; she would have to be insane, mentally retarded or a congenital liar to believe both of them, even “subjectively.” Therefore she has to be seen as an egotist and a business woman (not a very good one) who is marketing herself and has come to believe that she can get away with anything, since so far she has. It could also be that her loyalty to Israel and “the Tribe” is another motivation, one which gives her a sense of safety and belonging.
Can Irene Seigelstein be reconstructed?
In keeping with his attempt at salvation, Neander offers a “reconstructed narrative” that fits the documents that are available, without inquiring into the matter with “Mrs. Zisblatt.” He then concludes that Irene Weisberg Zisblatt is not only a survivor of Auschwitz and the Holocaust, but that she has an interesting and instructive story to tell, however one that differs from her Shoah Testimony and her autobiography. His “reconstruction” is the story she should now tell.
But what about her book that is in all those school and town libraries? What about those thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of innocent school kids she has lectured to and brought to tears with her “incredible” life story? Above all, what about her Survivors of the Shoah testimony archived at the University of Southern California, and the academy award-winning documentary The Last Days? How does she take all that back?
Dr. Neander, it is not that easy. It’s one thing to dissect and show the falseness of a narrative that, in your words, is made up of implausibilities and ubiquitous legends. It’s quite another to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. What we have now are a lot of broken pieces shattered on the ground; they will not come together again in any form that is convincing. I’m afraid Mrs Zisblatt’s goose is cooked.
 For example, the only source used for the existence of Stehzelle on the Wikipedia Auschwitz page is Polish priest Maximillian Kolbe’s account of his persecution, for which he was canonized by Polish Pope John Paul II in 1982. See www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Kolbe.html
 This is reported in many books, among them Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, edited by Gutman and Birenbaum, published 1998 in association with the USHMM. In it, Danuta Czech writes: “Liebehenschel also had the standing bunker torn down” (p. 378). The alleged standing cells at Dachau concentration camp are also said to have been removed by the American Army in 1945, after liberation. But why would they do that? At his trial before an American Military Tribunal in Dachau, former Commandant Martin Weiss testified in December 1945 that he had no knowledge of the standing cells, claiming he first heard about them during his trial.
Click on the links below to read Carolyn’s longer, 5-part article “‘The Fifth Diamond’: A Special Jewel in the Genre of Holocaust Horror Stories”
Hutton inquiry closed David Kelly medical reports for 70 years
Doctors trying to see files consider legal challenge
Doubt grows over suicide verdict on Iraq expert
Dr David Kelly arrives to give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee over allegations the government ‘sexed up’ the intelligence dossier leading to war in Iraq. [Photograph: Ian Waldie/Getty Images Europe]
Lord Hutton’s decision to classify documents about the death of Dr David Kelly is likely to face a legal challenge amid claims by experts that there are increasing grounds to question the inquiry’s verdict of suicide.
The Hutton inquiry, which reported in 2004 that Kelly’s death was suicide after he cut an artery in his wrist, has come under scrutiny from doctors who claim the medical account is improbable.
Five doctors who made an application to the Oxford coroner to have the inquest reopened have been told Lord Hutton made a ruling in 2003 to keep medical reports and photographs closed for 70 years. “This is a revelation,” said Michael Powers QC, a former assistant coroner and expert in coronial law. “I can’t think of anything that would justify these documents being treated any differently.”
The doctors are trauma surgeon David Halpin, epidemiologist Andrew Rouse, surgeon Martin Birnstingl, radiologist Stephen Frost and Chris Burns-Cox, who specialises in internal general medicine. They applied for the documents with a view to applying to the attorney general to have the inquest reopened.
“We hope to get more materials from the coroner, examine those, and in the light of those materials make submissions”, said Powers, who is closely involved in the case, although not party to the legal proceedings.
But a response from the coroner’s legal advisers rejected the doctors’ request, and revealed that the documents had been classified. “It is truly remarkable that they should be kept secret for twice as long as the other documents. I’m sure that they will meet with their legal advisers and consider the most appropriate way to deal with this,” Powers said.
The doctors are also thought to be considering a challenge to the coroner’s decision not to allow them to be “interested parties”. Freedom of information experts say there appear to be strong grounds for the legal challenges. “If Lord Hutton was not carrying out a statutory inquiry, I can’t immediately see what power he had to order that these records be closed,” said Maurice Frankel, Director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.
News of the decision to keep the documents classified has come as a surprise to lawyers. There is no mention of the decision on the Hutton inquiry website.
“If a matter as sensitive as this was not made public … it raises questions as to what else was withheld,” said Powers. “You can’t help but suspect that the legal advisers to the Oxfordshire coroner disclosed it inadvertently, thinking that it was already known that this material was being kept secret for such a long period.”
Questions have remained around the death of Dr Kelly after an initial inquest into his death was never resumed. Instead, the Hutton findings were said to be sufficient. But the inquiry applied a less stringent test than would have used in an inquest, where a coroner has to be sure “beyond reasonable doubt” that a person intended to kill themselves.
“There should be a full inquiry. We need a proper answer,” said Powers. “The medical evidence doesn’t add up. I have yet to meet a doctor that will say it was even possible, let alone likely.”
Jamie revels in the great news that the world Chairman of the Climategate scam, the Indian Rajendra Pachauri, has now admitted that his reports on Himalayan glaciers melting were faked! We explore the ways in which Climategate is related to other forms of “magical thinking”, like multiculturalism, globalism, “anti-racism”, and all other forms of cult thinking. Pachauri was co-recipient with Al Gore of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. But it gets better…the Emperor Akihito awarded Pachauri the Order of the Rising Sun just two months ago. It’s hard to overstate what a great break we White patriots got when Climategate exploded.
Each religion is exclusive and exclusionary, which inevitably results in downplaying or, even worse, in denial of other religions. By definition, all Christian denominations, in order to strengthen their theological credibility, have historically resorted to this type of “negative legitimacy.” Yet, despite devastating wars among Whites of different Christian persuasions, Christianity, as a whole, has retained its transcendental value, which has made life more or less liveable.
No longer is this the case with postmodern “civil religions” that ignore the sacred. Their nature of exclusion is already resulting in intellectual terror — that may soon be followed by real state-sponsored physical terror.
Civil religions also have their holy shrines, their holy relics, their pontiffs, their canons, their promises and their menaces. Failure to believe in them — or failure to at least pretend to believe in them — results, as a legal scholar of Catholic persuasion, Carl Schmitt wrote, in a heretic’s removal from the category of human beings. Among new civil religions one could enumerate the religion of multiculturalism, the religion of antifascism, the religion of the Holocaust, and the religion of economic progress.
Many Whites make a fundamental mistake when they portray new civil religions as part of an organized conspiracy of a small number of wicked people. In essence, civil religions are just secular transpositions of the Judeo-Christian monotheist mindset which, when combined with an inborn sense of tolerance and congenial naïveté of the White people, makes them susceptible to their enchanting effects.
The Folly of the Compound Noun: “Anti-Semitism”
As a result of semantic sliding of political concepts, the Jewish-born thinker and the father of the secular religion of communism, Karl Marx, would likely be charged today with “anti-Semitism” or the “incitement to racial hatred.” Leftist scholars usually do not wish to subject his little booklet, On the Jewish Question(1844) to critical analysis. Consider the following:
The Jew has emancipated himself in a Jewish manner, not only because he has acquired financial power, but also because, through him and also apart from him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian nations. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews.
Of particular significance is Marx’ last sentence “insofar as the Christians have become Jews.” In fact the White man has “jewified“ himself by embracing the fundaments of the Jewish belief system, which, paradoxically, he uses now in criticizing Jews. Christian anti-Semitism can be described, therefore, as a peculiar form of neurosis. Christian anti-Semites resent the Jews while mimicking the framework of resentment borrowed from Jews. Accordingly, even the Jewish god Yahweh was destined to become the anti-Semitic God of White Christians! In the name of this God, persecutions against Jews were conducted by White non-Jews. Simply put, the White non-Jew has been denying for centuries to the Jew his self-appointed “otherness” i.e. his uniqueness and his self-chosenness, while desperately striving to re-appropriate that same Jewish otherness and that same uniqueness, be it in the acceptance of Biblical tales, be it the espousal of the concept of linear time, be it in the belief of the end of history.
To face up to the purported bad sides of Judaism by using Christian tools, is futile. This is the argument of the German philosopher Eugen Dühring, who notes that “Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism” …and “aChristian, when he rightfully comprehends himself as such, cannot be a serious and complete anti-Semite.“ (Die Judenfrage als Fragedes Rassencharakters, 1901). Dühring was a prominent German socialist philosopher, contemporary, but also a foe of Marx. Like most German socialist thinkers of the late 19th century he was an anti-Semite, in so far as he saw in the Jewry the incarnation of capitalism. Dühring notes that “historical Christianity, when observed in its true spirit, and all things considered, has been a backlash within and against Judaism, but it has also emerged from it and to some extent in its fashion.”(p. 25–26).
Gradually, the so-called intellectual anti-Semitism, based on economic and sociological factors, was replaced by racial anti-Semitism. As was to be expected, thousands of German scholars who had delved into the critical description of the racial traits of Jews, disappeared after WWII from the radar screen, and their books went up in flames. As a rule, when they are quoted today in American or European academia by half-knowledgeable, tenure-scared professors, they are pathologized as “monsters” or proverbial “Nazis”, or their words are taken out of context.
A German legal scholar and a local government leader of the NSDAP, of the city of Magdeburg, Professor Helmut Nicolai, writes that
Germanic loyalty (‘Treue’) is contrary to the Oriental concept of obedience (‘Gehorsam’). A loyal person operates within the spirit of a person to whom he shows loyalty. Loyalty always presupposes inner mutual understanding. By contrast, obedience refers to the achievement of an order, to the implementation of a letter of the word.… Laws cannot create a better legal framework for the rule of law; rather it is a better people who can achieve that. (Die Rassengesetzliche Rechtslehre) (“Racial Provisions of Law in Jurisprudence, 1933. p. 44)
Naturally, the question that comes to mind today is the meaning of natural law with the dogma that all people are equal. Is it possible to have the same constitutional rights for different peoples of different gene pools and different cultures? A Palestinian fellah views his rights differently from a New York-born Jewish kibbutznik on the West bank; an Aborigine from New Zealand has a different concept of justice than a White farmer; a Christian Orthodox Serb has a different concept of historical justice from his neighbour, a Muslim Albanian.
As a response to the world-wide communist and liberal attacks against the passage of the Nuremberg racial laws in 1935 in National Socialist Germany, Professor Walter Gross, Head of the Bureau of Racial Politics of the NSDAP, wrote:
The opinion has been kicked around the globe that Germany had invented sterilisation and that it has afterward medically and scientifically dressed it up exclusively in an effort to get rid of its opponents. This is complete insanity! If we really had an intention to make a political opponent harmless we would certainly not sterilize him as he would continue to live as happily ever after for the next 60 years at our expenses”. “..The fact that we consider communism a hereditary disease that needs to be combated, the fact that procreation of the progeny must be prevented – while allowing communists to roam around freely – this is really a suggestion that in no way does justice to the opinion of the German people and its state. (Walter Gross, Der deutsche Rassengedanke und die Welt, 1939, p. 17–18)
Gross pleads for racial harmony of diverse nations and describes favourably racial and cultural endowments of the Japanese, while rejecting the accusation of German racial superiority over other races. He notes, however, that “no agreement is possible with theoretical systems of the international kind …. because they are based on incredible lie, i.e. the lie of the equality of all people”.. ( p. 30).
Another highly placed legal scholar in National Socialist Germany, professor at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin, Falk Ruttke, writes that
we will never solve the Jewish question through fanatical “anti-Semitism,” as the history of Judaism, not only in Germany, but the history from all over the world teaches us. The solution of the Jewish question is only possible through racial awareness (“Rassengedanke”) that is fair to each race. We shall never implement that unless we distinguish between nation and race. “National Socialism is not anti-Semitic, it is a-Semitic (“asemitisch.”) (Falk Ruttke, Rasse, Recht und Volk, from Jugend und Recht, p. 30, 1937). (bold and italics in the original)
In his famous book about racial psychology of Jews, teeming with quotes by Orientalists, linguists, psychiatrists and other scholars, Hans Günther writes how Christianity, in adopting the Jewish god Yahweh, has ended up endorsing the concept of the “chosen people,” thereby greatly helping with the jewification (“ Verjudung”) of the Western society . (p. 313)
Christian doctrines, historically speaking, paralyze the spirit of the West in its conventional and lasting dispute with the spirit of the Orient and in particularly with that of Judaism. Through its control of the press and intelligence service it is not at all difficult today for Jewry to give the Zeitgeist [spirit of the time] each time the direction that is most appropriate for Jews, while diverting the spiritual life of non-Jewish peoples away from their inborn spiritual values, always leading them to those spiritual values that appear as the most authoritative to Judaism. (p. 314)
In his numerous books the geneticist and biologist Fritz Lenz, who was held in high esteem by the scientific establishment in National Socialist Germany, examines the genetically conditioned proclivities among Jews, such as their extraordinary skill for moralistic pathos, the sense for empathy, mimicry, and the capability of provoking sentimental outbursts about painful injustice (“Schmerzenszug”) among deprived masses.
In revolutionary movements hysteric prone Jews play a big role because they can project themselves in utopian imaginations and therefore they can make convincing promises with far-reaching inner veracity. … Not only Marx and Lasalle were Jews, but also in the recent times Eisner, Rosa Luxembourg. Leviné, Toller, Landauer, Trotski and among others … Kahn, who praises the Jewish revolutionaries as the saviors of mankind and sees in them “a specific Jewish manner of the world-view and historical activity.” Lenz., Menschliche Erblehre (A Lesson about Human Heredity), 1936, p. 752–753
What German geneticists and anthropologists, such as Fritz Lenz, Hans Günther, Erwin Baur, Eugen Fischer and thousands of other scholars wrote about Jews had already been written and discussed — albeit from a philosophical, artistic and literary point of view — by thousands of European writers, poets and artists. From the ancient Roman thinker Tacitus to the English writer William Shakespeare, from the ancient Roman thinker Seneca, to the French novelist and satirist, L. Ferdinand Céline, one encounters in the prose of countless European authors occasional and not so occasional critical remarks about the Jewish character — remarks that could easily be called today anti-Semitic. Should these “anti-Semitic” authors, novelists, or poets be called insane? If so, then the entire European cultural heritage must be banned and labeled insane.
Excluding the Jew, while using his theological and ideological concepts is a form of latent phobia among Whites, of which Jews are very well aware of. Criticizing a strong Jewish influence in Western societies on the one hand, while embracing Jewish religious and secular prophets on the other, will lead to further tensions and only enhance the Jewish sense of self-chosenness and their timeless victimhood. In turn, this will only give rise to more anti-Jewish hatred with tragic consequences for all. The prime culprits are not Jews or Whites, but rather a civil religion of egalitarianism with its postmodern offshoots of universalism and multiculturalism.
In postmodern “liquid” times words and concepts obtain liquid meanings. One of these words is the compound noun “anti-Semitism.” Anti-Semitism is also a new civil religion that can be used at will for smearing free thinkers. The point is not whether Jesus Christ looked like a proud White Galilean Aryan with a dolichocephalic skull and blond hair — as he is portrayed all over the world — or whether he needs to be pictured with hither-Asian, Semitic features similar to those of Bob Dylan and Bin Laden combined. The issue that needs to be addressed is why Whites, for two thousand years, have adhered to an alien, out-group, non-European conceptualization of the world.