Friday, March 31, 2017

Apologies for torture seem to be the hardest words

Apologies for torture seem to be the hardest words

March 31, 2017

The fact that the Canadian government was forced to go on the record and apologize for its reprehensible actions in these cases is significant and important. As Almalki declared, it is indeed a welcome victory that will hopefully boost the morale of others fighting similar battles. But the wording and delivery vehicle for the Trudeau government's March apology -- uploaded quietly to a website on a Friday at 4:58 pm shortly before very revealing court hearings were set to begin -- are clear indications that Ottawa is not willing to make much-needed changes in state security policy and institutions.  

Photo: Adam Scotti/PMO
Imagine that you live in a city where you must drive past the offices of individuals whose decisions and actions led to your torture. These individuals -- they might be called "violence workers" or "desk torturers" -- are celebrated as honourable people who acted in the "best of faith" even though they knowingly created false descriptions of you as an "imminent threat" to state security, landing you in an abominable dungeon.

   These individuals, we are told, made "mistakes" when they knowingly passed along questions to your captors, despite cautions that sending such inquiries would inevitably result in further acts of violence committed upon your mind, body and spirit.

   Despite clear evidence that they are complicit in your torture, none of them is ever held to account. Instead, they receive promotions, act as media consultants, and fearlessly await a thick pension at the end of their bloodstained careers. The immunity they enjoy in your case is the same immunity they are entitled to should they set someone else up for torture. After all, legislation on the books -- as well as their well-tailored self-image as do-gooders on the global stage -- grants them a free pass for whatever they do.

   What sounds like a nightmare out of the Argentine junta or the Chilean dictatorship is in fact daily life for Abdullah Almalki, an Ottawa engineer who was wrongfully named a security risk, tortured for 22 months in a Syrian hellhole with the involvement of a variety of Canadian officials and government agencies, and forced to fight for an apology and accountability for well over a decade. (Also fighting for justice in related cases were Toronto's Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin, both tortured by proxy in Syria and, in Abou-Elmaati's case, Egypt too).

   As he drives through Ottawa, Almalki cannot help but experience the surreal geography of complicity in torture as he passes the agencies responsible for his ordeal, including the RCMP, CSIS, Global Affairs, and the Justice Department. They were the subject of a long-running lawsuit whose settlement was announced two weeks ago.

A Friday five o'clock apology of sorts

   What the Trudeau Liberals felt was a worthy apology for the damage that Liberal governments past and present had done to Almalki, Abou-Elmaati and Nureddin was issued on Friday, March 17 at 4:58 p.m. on a government website. There was no press conference, no moment of silence in the House of Commons, no release of tears from a prime minister never shy to shed them. Just a bland statement that went up as the media went home for the weekend, delivered in the same insulting way any abuser might end a relationship with a text message or Facebook announcement.

   "On behalf of the Government of Canada, we wish to apologize to Mr. Almalki, Mr. Abou-Elmaati and Mr. Nureddin, and their families, for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to their detention and mistreatment abroad and any resulting harm," says a statement issued by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. In an age when language is so degraded as to be meaningless, it is nonetheless important to examine the choices used here. "May" is a term that makes the role of Canadian officials sound speculative, despite the very clear findings of complicity in the O'Connor and Iacobucci Inquiries into the torture of Almalki, Abou-Elmaati, Nureddin, and Maher Arar, also of Ottawa. Would it not have better served the ends of justice and accountability to actually name the names and the specific criminal activities for which the apology had been issued?

   In addition, the government avoids using the word "torture" in the same sentence as those who suffered torture. The anodyne "mistreatment" is yet another linguistic distancing from Canadian responsibility for such a horrific crime. This is typical of how the Canadian government and media have long treated these cases, always looking to employ anything other than torture. Indeed, in the Commissioner's Statement for the inquiry that cleared Almalki, Abou-Elmaati and Nureddin of any suspicion, former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci never once mentions torture. Instead, he chose this important introduction to a catalogue of abuses to say how "unfortunate" it is that "in the struggle against terrorism, that mistakes of various kinds will be made," thereby falsely associating the three men with state security threats while insisting we be "very grateful to the many men and women" who "exercise their best judgment" in such matters.

   But the record clearly shows that what happened to these men was not an unfortunate mistake. It was the logical outcome of a structural pattern of surveillance, racist profiling, harassment, and targetting for torture by proxy in overseas prisons.

   While the Goodale/Freeland statement goes on to declare that Canada "strongly condemns abuse and torture of any kind and is committed to fulfilling its obligations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to respect and protect human rights," it neglects to mention how it can actually fulfill that lofty commitment when it refuses to renounce the Harper-era torture memos (which allow for exactly the kind of information-sharing that led to the torture of Almalki, Abou-Elmaati and Nureddin in the first place). Nor does the statement explain how it dovetails with the torture-enabling Anti-terrorism Act of 2015 (a.k.a. C-51), which survives intact almost two years after it was passed.

Almalki's important caution

   One cannot help but feel a certain sense of relief that an apology and compensation had been agreed to (terms of which are confidential), especially given these men and their families have fought such a long battle for recognition of the injustice done to them by the Canadian government. The three gentlemen whose lives were ruined by agencies of the Canadian government have shown nothing but dignity and grace in responding to this latest chapter in their long-running ordeal.

   Indeed, Mr. Almalki issued a statement that declared:

"This is a victory for Canada and every Canadian who holds dear the Charter of Right and Freedoms, the rule of law, freedom, equality, and dignity. It is also a victory for those who abhor torture, arbitrary detention, bigotry and racism. This long-fought-for result will hopefully give hope to everyone who has been wronged. Hopefully, it will also boost their resilience, strengthen their resolve, allow them to have more patience and persistence, and help them to keep on keeping on, as a victory for justice is a victory for all of us."

   But Almalki cautions that this long struggle cannot be wasted, hoping:

"[t]hat we as a country learn from such injustices and work to better our country by strengthening our human rights laws rather than weakening them. We must strengthen laws and institutions to preserve our liberties and freedoms, rather than compromising them. We must also hold government officials and government agencies accountable by demanding powerful, effective, real-time oversight of their activities, especially when human rights can so easily be abused in the name of national security."

   Not even a week after the well-hidden apology was uploaded, however, the Trudeau government refused to strengthen a bill that created a national security committee of Parliamentarians, rendering it a toothless bit of window dressing with no power whatsoever to hold in check the abuses of agencies like CSIS, the RCMP, Global Affairs, Canadian Border Services Agency, Communications Security Establishment, and the Justice Department. The Liberals outright rejected amendments suggested by human rights groups, choosing instead to maintain their preferential option for the powerful and secretive.

  Most significantly, the people responsible for these crimes go about their lives and their work, with one of them now perched as the Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP, Michel Cabana. With the recently announced resignation of Commissioner Bob Paulson, will Cabana, who directed much of the torture by proxy campaign, be next in line to lead Canada's national law enforcement agency?

No accountability

   At a moment when the writings of Hannah Arendt are more crucial than ever (her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, has become almost as popular as 1984 and Brave New World in these troubled times), the landmark title Eichmann in Jerusalem is worth revisiting not only for its famous "banality of evil" reportage, but also for her overview of how quickly Nazis were "reintegrated" into German society, NATO, NASA, and other so-called Western institutions following the Second World War. "It is one thing to ferret out criminals and murderers from their hiding places, and it is another thing to find them prominent and flourishing in the public realm -- to encounter innumerable men in the federal and state administrations and, generally, in public office whose careers had bloomed under the Hitler regime," she wrote in 1963.

     And so it is for Canada in 2017, in which a whole infrastructure of complicity in torture remains firmly in place. Even the one body that is supposed to provide critical review of the actions of spy agency CSIS -- the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) -- finds itself on the spectrum of complicity in torture by praising in its most recent annual report how CSIS was handling its tortured intelligence (rather than properly declaring the practice of sharing torture-gleaned information patently illegal).

   Similar long-sought apologies reveal the irony that after long struggles, the words finally come easy, but no serious change in governmental behaviour accompanies the "sorry." Whether that's the apology for crimes committed against Indigenous children issued by a Harper government that continued those crimes (now carried out under the Trudeau regime) or the apology given to torture returnee Maher Arar in 2006, the words have held a hollow feel because we have yet to witness the kinds of systemic change needed to prevent such criminality from recurring.

   It's also disturbing that in the context of apologies, Canadian perpetrators of serious state criminality tend to be treated with kid gloves and sympathy (witness the abominable antics of Senator Lynn Beyak, who insists on praising the brighter side of genocide in Canada's first rendition to torture campaign, the residential schools program).

   Indeed, headlines leading up to and following the release of the O'Connor Inquiry, which documented Canadian complicity in Maher Arar's rendition to torture, treated the RCMP as the real victim. "RCMP bracing for Arar report," led a Toronto Star headline in 2006, as if the Mounties were pitiless squatters waiting for a hurricane. Later in that same article, reporter Michelle Shephard wrote that "the report's anticipated blow to the RCMP's credibility comes on the heels of the international acclaim for the police force" following the Toronto 18 arrests earlier that summer. Shephard did not define how the RCMP had any credibility whatsoever after almost a century of illegal, repressive activity conducted against Indigenous people, labour unions, peace groups, and others engaged in the exercise of basic democratic rights.

   On Dec 8, 2006, the Toronto Star editorialized that then prime minister Stephen Harper's job was to restore confidence "in the RCMP, an iconic national institution," as opposed to ensuring the Mounties would never again be engaged in torture complicity. The Globe and Mail similarly called the Arar saga one of the "great RCMP bungles," as if it were some unfortunate mistake instead of the result of a calculated, dangerous, racist game targeting individuals because of their faith and heritage.

   When then-RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli issued an apology to Arar, it suffered from the same linguistic deficiency as the Trudeau government's 2017 apology. Zaccardelli simply said sorry "for whatever part the actions of the RCMP may have contributed to the terrible injustices that you experienced." There was no mention of torture, and the actions of the Mounties were treated as speculative. The Toronto Star's headline that day also showed a particularly disturbing institutional bias: "Top Mountie's Tough Day."

   The House of Commons did no better when it passed a motion in 2006 that made it sound more like Arar had experienced poor service at a restaurant than Canadian complicity in torture: "It is the opinion of this House that apologies should be extended to Maher Arar for the treatment he received."

RCMP and CSIS as victims

   During the Arar Inquiry, the sense of RCMP-as-victim was no doubt prevalent throughout the force, as witnessed by statements of former "anti-terrorism" Mountie Ben Soave (who himself chose to resign from the force one day after an internal report found that sexual harassment allegations against him were substantiated, and warranted disciplinary action). "The bottom line is we should be proud of our front-line officers," he explained in defence of those called to testify at the inquiry. "If we put their necks on the chopping block it's the wrong message to send." When RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli resigned (not because of complicity in torture, but rather because he appeared to lie about it before a Parliamentary committee), Soave moaned that the resignation was "a victory for terrorism, organized crime and the scum of the earth."

   Liberal MP Wayne Easter similarly showed his sincere sympathies for the man who resigned as head of a torture-implicated RCMP, sighing, "I do feel badly for him. He's a career guy. He did this 24 hours a day."
Zaccardelli -- whose apology to Arar was mooted during a resignation speech in which the Commissioner said "there is not one moment, one decision or one circumstance of my career that I would change" -- went on to a comfortable position working for Interpol, while Soave runs a security firm "to help governments, corporations, law firms, and high net-worth individuals to effectively prevent and resolve issues."
CSIS has also played the victim game, with former agents complaining that any attempts by the courts to hold them within the boundaries of the law amount to a "judicial jihad."

Stay tuned: More torture on the way

   The fact that the Canadian government was forced to go on the record and apologize for its reprehensible actions in these cases is significant and important. As Almalki declared, it is indeed a welcome victory that will hopefully boost the morale of others fighting similar battles. But the wording and delivery vehicle for the Trudeau government's March apology -- delivered shortly before very revealing court hearings were set to begin -- are clear indications that Ottawa is not willing to make much-needed changes in state security policy and institutions.
Equally disturbing is that young Muslims continue to report being subjected to intensive harassment and surveillance by Canada's state security agencies. How many of them will wind up in the shoes of Almalki, Abou-Elmaati and Nureddin? These young people have to think twice before Googling certain terms, since certain red flag words may result in a home or office visit from CSIS spies. They have to wonder about new "friends" who suddenly cozy up to them from out of the blue and start asking their opinion of Palestine: are they just political thinkers or undercover agents? They have to watch how they speak in any venue, and are not allowed to express anger or frustration. Indeed, that would peg them as "radicalized," an appellation which could make them the focus of a CSIS "disruption" exercise under C-51 that allows Canada's spy agency to do anything to them short of bodily harm causing death or violations of sexual integrity.

   Muslims who travel to or have family in certain parts of the world, must also be prepared to be pulled aside in airports at home and abroad, especially if they have refused to spy on their imam for CSIS or because they may have posted political mater on their Facebook pages. Others may never even get on a plane because the Canadian government's so-called Passenger Protect Program (the no-fly list) prevents them from doing so.
When Justin Trudeau, Canada's chief keynote speaker, told the nation's Muslims following the terrorist attack on a Quebec City mosque that "we will grieve with you, we will defend you, we will love you and we will stand with you," he was disingenuous at best. It was another false promise that, like his March 17 apology, rings all too hollow.

  It is only when an abuser shows how he has changed his abusive ways that his apology may be enfleshed with true meaning. That has not yet happened, which means our work is not done. It remains our collective task to dismantle the institutions of violence and abuse in this country, and to show real solidarity with their targets. Until then, unfortunately, what happened to Almalki, Abou-Elmaati, Nureddin, and Arar (among others) will likely continue.

Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. 'national security' profiling for many years.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Vic

A Last Chance for Resistance

A Last Chance for Resistance

Monday, March 20, 2017
President Trump exits Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on Sunday, following a weekend trip to Florida. (Photo: Jose Luis Magana / AP)

   The crawl toward despotism within a failed democracy is always incremental. No regime planning to utterly extinguish civil liberties advertises its intentions in advance. It pays lip service to liberty and justice while obliterating the institutions and laws that make them possible. Its opponents, including those within the establishment, make sporadic attempts to resist, but week by week, month by month, the despot and his reactionary allies methodically consolidate power. Those inside the machinery of government and the courts who assert the rule of law are purged. Critics, including the press, are attacked, ridiculed and silenced. The state is reconfigured until the edifice of tyranny is unassailable.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn in “The Gulag Archipelago” noted that the consolidation of Soviet tyranny “was stretched out over many years because it was of primary importance that it be stealthy and unnoticed.” He called the process “a grandiose silent game of solitaire, whose rules were totally incomprehensible to its contemporaries, and whose outlines we can appreciate only now.”

   Czeslaw Milosz in “The Captive Mind” also chronicles the incremental expansion of tyranny, noting that it steadily progresses until intellectuals are not only forced to repeat the regime’s self-praising slogans but to advance its absurdist dogmas. Few ever see the tyranny coming. Those who do and speak out are treated by the authorities, and often the wider society, as alarmists or traitors.

    The current administration’s budget proposes to give the war industry, the domestic policing agencies, the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street, billionaires and the national security and surveillance agencies more than they could have imagined possible before the election. These forces, as in all fascist states, will be the pillars of the Trump regime. They will tolerate Donald Trump’s idiocy, ineptitude and unbridled narcissism in exchange for increased profits and power. Despots are often buffoons. Appealing to their vanity and ego is an effective form of manipulation. Skilled sycophants can play despots like musical instruments for personal advancement.

   Trump, like all despots, has no real ideology. His crusade against Wall Street, including Goldman Sachs, and the billionaire class during the presidential election campaign vanished the moment he took office. He has appointed five former Goldman Sachs employees to high posts in his administration. His budget will bleed the poor, the working class and the middle class and swell the bank accounts of the oligarchs. He is calling for abolishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts and the cutting of programs that provide legal service to low-income people and grants to libraries and museums. If Trump’s budget is approved by Congress, there will not even be a pretense of civil society. Trump and his family will profit from his presidency. Corporations will profit from his presidency. Wall Street will profit from his presidency. And the people will be made to pay.

    Despots demand absolute loyalty. This is why they place family members in the inner circles. The Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, whose vanity rivaled that of Trump, and Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein filled their governments with their children, siblings, nephews, nieces and in-laws and rounded out their inner courts with racists, opportunists and thugs of the kind that now populate the White House.

   “President Trump’s point man on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a longtime Trump Organization lawyer with no government or diplomatic experience,” reads the opening paragraph of a New York Times article headlined “Prerequisite for Key White House Posts: Loyalty, Not Experience.” “His liaison to African-American leaders is a former reality-TV villain with a penchant for résumé inflation. And his Oval Office gatekeeper is a bullet-headed former New York City cop best known for smacking a protester on the head.”

     Despots distrust diplomats. Diplomats, often multilingual and conversant with other cultures and societies, deal in nuances and ambiguities that are beyond the grasp of the despot. Diplomats understand that other nations have legitimate national interests that inevitably clash with the interests of one’s own country. They do not embrace force as the primary language of communication. They are trained to carry out negotiations, even with the enemy, and engage in compromise. Despots, however, live in a binary universe of their own creation. They rapidly dismantle the diplomatic corps when they take power for the same reason they attack intellectuals and artists.

    Trump’s proposed cut of nearly 29 percent to the State Department’s budget, potentially eliminating thousands of jobs, is part of the shift away from diplomacy to an exclusive reliance on violence or the threat of violence. The militarization of the diplomatic corps, with the Central Intelligence Agency and military intelligence operatives often taking over embassies, especially in conflict zones, began long before Trump took office. But Trump will deal the coup de grâce to the diplomatic corps. Despots replace diplomats with sycophants with no diplomatic experience, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who promise to impose the despot’s will on the rest of the world.

    The dismantling of a diplomatic corps has dangerous consequences. It leaves a country blind and prone to wars and conflicts that could be avoided. Leon Trotsky called Josef Stalin’s foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, who negotiated the disastrous 1939 Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact that left the Soviet Union unprepared for German invasion, “mediocrity personified.” The other signatory of the pact, Joachim von Ribbentrop, was a former champagne salesman. Ribbentrop, as Molotov did with Stalin, parroted back to Adolf Hitler the leader’s conspiratorial worldview. Ribbentrop, again like Molotov with Stalin, knew that Hitler always favored the most extreme option. Molotov and Ribbentrop unfailingly advocated radical and violent solutions to any problem, endearing themselves to their bosses as men of unflinching resolve. This is what makes Steve Bannon so appealing to Trump—he will always call for Armageddon.

    There are three institutions tasked in a functioning democracy with protecting the truth and keeping national discourse rooted in verifiable fact—the courts, the press and universities. Despots must control these three to prevent them from exposing their lies and restricting their power. Trump has not only attacked the courts but has also begun purges of the judiciary with his mass firing of U.S. attorneys. The Trump White House plans to fill 124 judgeships—including 19 vacancies on federal appeals courts—with corporatist lawyers such as Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch who are endorsed by the reactionary Federalist Society. By the time Trump’s four-year term is up, Federalist Society judges could be in as many as half of the country’s appellate seats.

    Trump has continued to attempt to discredit the press. During his rally in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, he told the crowd, “Some of the fake news said I don’t think Donald Trump wants to build the wall. Can you imagine if I said we’re not going to build a wall? Fake news. Fake, fake news. Fake news, folks. A lot of fake.” He went on to say in an apparent reference to the reporters covering the rally, “They’re bad people.”

     The attacks on universities, which will be accelerated, are on display in the budget proposal. The Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Education, the Commerce Department, the National Institutes of Health, the Energy Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs all give grants and research money to universities. Colorado State University, for example, gets about 70 percent, or $232 million, of its research budget from federal sources. In February, Trump suggested he might attempt to cut federal funding for universities such as UC Berkeley. His comment was made after a riot at the California school forced the cancellation of a speech there by the far-right ideologue Milo Yiannopoulos, who has called Trump “Daddy.” A university will of course be able to get corporate funding for research if it casts doubt on the importance of climate change or does research that can be used to swell corporate profits or promote other business interests. Scientific study into our ecocide and the dangers from chemicals, toxins and pollutants released by corporations into the atmosphere will be thwarted. And the withering of humanities programs, already suffering in many universities, will worsen.

    It will be increasingly difficult to carry out mass protests and civil disobedience. Repression will become steadily more overt and severe. Dissent will be equated with terrorism. We must use the space before it is shut. This is a race against time. The forces of despotism seek to keep us complacent and pacified with the false hope that mechanisms within the system will moderate Trump or remove him through impeachment, or that the looming tyranny will never be actualized. There is an emotional incapacity among any population being herded toward despotism or war to grasp what is happening. The victims cannot believe that the descent into barbarity is real, that the relative security and sanity of the past are about to be obliterated. They fail to see that once rights become privileges, once any segment of a society is excluded from the law, rights can instantly be revoked for everyone.
There is a hierarchy to oppression. It begins with the most vulnerable—undocumented workers, Muslims, poor people of color. It works upward. It is a long row of candles that one by one are extinguished. If we wait to resist, as the poet C.P. Cavafy wrote, the “dark line gets longer” and “the snuffed-out candles proliferate.”

© 2017 TruthDig

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Why FBI Can't Tell All on Trump, Russia

Published on Alternet (

Why FBI Can't Tell All on Trump, Russia

By Russ Baker [1], C. Collins [2], Jonathan Z. Larsen [3] / WhoWhatWhy [4]
March 30, 2017

   Reporters: Jonathan Z. Larsen is the former editor of The Village Voice, whose reporting team included the late Wayne Barrett and Robert I. Friedman. These people and the paper produced many of the important early investigative reports on Donald Trump and on the mob. Larsen is now a senior editor and board member of WhoWhatWhy. Russ Baker, a former investigative reporter for The Village Voice, is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. C. Collins is a WhoWhatWhy reporter.

  UPDATE: Listen to a behind-the-scenes interview on this exclusive Trump-Russia-FBI story  a conversation with Russ Baker and Jonathan Larsen on Radio WhoWhatWhy [5].


  The Federal Bureau of Investigation cannot tell us what we need to know about Donald Trump’s contacts with Russia. Why? Because doing so would jeopardize a long-running, ultra-sensitive operation targeting mobsters tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and to Trump.

   But the Feds’ stonewalling risks something far more dangerous: Failing to resolve a crisis of trust in America’s president. WhoWhatWhy provides the details of a two-month investigation in this 6,500-word exposé.

     The FBI apparently knew, directly or indirectly, based upon available facts, that prior to Election Day, Trump and his campaign had personal and business dealings with certain individuals and entities linked to criminal elements — including reputed Russian gangsters — connected to Putin.

   The same facts suggest that the FBI knew or should have known enough prior to the election to justify informing the public about its ongoing investigation of potentially compromising relationships between Trump, Putin, and Russian mobsters — even if it meant losing or exposing a valued informant.


    It will take an agency independent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to expose Donald Trump’s true relationship with Moscow and the role Russia may have played in getting him elected.

     Director James Comey rece [6]ntly revealed [6] in a congressional hearing for the first time that the FBI “is investigating … the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

   However, a two-month WhoWhatWhy investigation has revealed an important reason the Bureau may be facing undisclosed obstacles to revealing what it knows to the public or to lawmakers.

   Our investigation also may explain why the FBI, which was very public about its probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails, never disclosed its investigation of the Trump campaign prior to the election, even though we now know that it commenced last July.
Such publicity could have exposed a high-value, long-running FBI operation against an organized crime network headquartered in the former Soviet Union. That operation depended on a convicted criminal who for years was closely connected with Trump, working with him in Trump Tower — while constantly informing for the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and being legally protected by them.

     Some federal officials were so involved in protecting this source — despite his massive fraud and deep connections to organized crime — that they became his defense counsel after they left the government.

     In secret court proceedings that were later unsealed, both current and former government attorneys argued for extreme leniency toward the man when he was finally sentenced. An FBI agent who expressed his support for the informant later joined Trump’s private security force.

    In this way, the FBI’s dilemma about revealing valuable sources, assets and equities in its ongoing investigation of links between the Trump administration and Russian criminal elements harkens back to the embarrassing, now infamous Whitey Bulger episode. In that case, the Feds protected Bulger, a dangerous Boston-based mobster serving as their highly valued informant, even as the serial criminal continued to participate in heinous crimes. The FBI now apparently finds itself confronted with similar issues: Is its investigation of the mob so crucial to national security that it outweighs the public’s right to know about their president?

    Jack Blum, a former senior Senate investigator and one of America’s foremost experts on white-collar financial crime, sums up the complexity — and the urgency — of the situation:

    “What makes this investigation especially difficult is that it will lead into the complex relations between the counterintelligence operations of the FBI and its criminal investigative work,” says Blum.

   “Further, it is likely other elements of the intelligence community are involved and that they have ‘equities’  to protect. Much of the evidence, justifiably, will be highly classified to protect sources and methods and in particular to protect individuals who have helped one or another of the agencies involved.

“I Can’t Go into Those Details Here”

    In his March 20 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey said that he could not go into detail about its probe into the Trump administration’s Russian connection.

    If he had, we might have learned that, for more than three decades the FBI has had Trump Tower in its sights. Many of its occupants have been targets of major investigations, others have been surveilled, and yet others have served as informants. One thing many of them have in common is deep ties to organized crime — including the Russian mafia.

    Felix Sater fits all of these categories. A convicted felon, Sater worked in Trump Tower, made business deals with Donald Trump through Sater’s real estate firm, Bayrock, cooperated with the FBI and CIA [7] and was subsequently protected by the DOJ from paying for his crimes. And the Moscow-born immigrant remains deeply linked to Russia and Ukraine.

   Based on documents examined by WhoWhatWhy, it is possible to draw certain conclusions that help connect the dots between Trump, the FBI, Russia and the mob.
The resulting picture is not a pretty one for Donald Trump. However, because of its efforts to neutralize the organization of perhaps the world’s most powerful mobster — a man considered a serious national security threat — the Bureau might just have compromised its own ability to provide to Congress or inform the American public about all of the ties that exist between Trump, his presidential campaign and the regime of Vladimir Putin.

   Further, Trump’s business association with Sater and Bayrock may have put the president’s financial interests at substantial risk, including possibly millions of dollars in fines, penalties, or other damages, should civil or criminal misconduct be proven in court or otherwise resolved if claims were triggered. Anyone who knew of Trump’s jeopardy in this matter would have enormous leverage over the Trump operation.
The government’s kid-glove treatment of Sater is partially explained in those long-suppressed legal documents, which reveal that the mobbed-up businessman was perceived by the authorities to be extraordinarily cooperative and useful. Legal filings on Sater’s behalf state that he “reported daily” to the FBI for many years.

     Sater agreed to assist the US government on issues of national security and organized crime. His activities were first revealed in a lawsuit brought by a former employee of Sater’s real estate firm, Bayrock. While working with Trump, Sater’s name became “Satter” publicly — presumably with the knowledge if not the encouragement of the FBI. 

     This distanced Satter the businessman, and his partners, from Sater the criminal.
Attorneys representing the plaintiff spent years untangling the financial machinations of Bayrock — which they allege involve hundred of millions of dollars in claims arising from, among other things, money laundering and fraud.

     They also sought to expose the government’s awareness of — even complicity in — Sater’s activities.

    Their efforts to unseal court documents, including Sater’s legal history, have been met with a concerted pushback by DOJ lawyers, mischaracterizations of the case record, and even — according to the attorneys — anonymous death threats.

    Felix Sater could not be reached for comment.

A Stunning Discovery

   The story of Donald Trump’s business dealings with a Russian mobster might never have come out were it not for a Bayrock employee stumbling upon Sater’s cooperation agreement with the FBI, among other sensitive information, that had inadvertently been left accessible.

    That employee sought out attorney Fred Oberlander, who combed through the documents. Over time, Oberlander — who was instructing undergraduates at Yale University in computational physics and computer science from age 18 — began to deconstruct the byzantine financial structure that was Bayrock, which allegedly hid a range of crimes, including massive-scale money laundering from sources in the former Soviet Union.

   On February 10, 2010, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, instructed Oberlander, in a secret order, not to inform the legislative branch of the United States government what he knew about Felix Sater. (That order remains under seal, but a federal judge has unsealed a redacted version [8].)

  Apparently, the appellate court was persuaded that the unusually broad order was justified on the merits, but the lawyers opposing Sater found the imposed remedy extraordinary.

  “Our being ordered to not tell Congress what we know may well be the first and only hyper-injunction in American history,” asserts Oberlander’s own attorney, Richard Lerner. “If there are others who have been scared silent by judges who wish to nullify Congressional and public oversight, we may never know. That is frightening.”

Characters Out of a James Bond Movie

   Preventing the Russian mafia from expanding its foothold in the United States has been one of the Bureau’s top priorities. In fact, it might be the FBI’s most important function apart from its role in the fight against terrorism.

  The Russian mob has a breathtaking and underappreciated reach. It is so powerful that FBI Agent Peter Kowenhoven told CNN in 2009 [10] that Semion Mogilevich, its “boss of bosses,” is a strategic threat, and a man who “can, with a telephone call or order, affect the global economy.”



Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Baltimore Activist Alert - March 31 - April 29, 2017

49] Deterring Iran – Mar. 31
50] Peace vigil at White House – Mar. 31
51] WIB peace vigil – Mar. 31
52] Fairtrade Chocolate & Coffee Break – Mar. 31
53] My 1st Lobby Day – Mar. 31
54] Black Lives Matter vigil -- Mar. 31
55] Andy Harris Town Hall – Mar. 31
56] Theater OUT OF THE ASHES – Mar. 31
57] Ballroom Dancing – Mar. 31
58] Pillow Fight -- Apr. 1
59] Youth Day of Action – Apr. 1
60] Pax Christi Spring Conference – Apr. 1
61] Movement for a Culture of Peace Forum – Apr. 1
62] National Day of Action for Housing – Apr. 1  
63] Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Panel Discussion – Apr. 1
64] The People's Filibuster -- Apr. 1
65] Communities United meeting -- Apr. 1
66] West Chester peace vigil – Apr. 1
67] End Endless War – Apr. 1
68] Anti-War/Drone Death Walk -- Apr. 1
69] Fire The Fool Declaration Rally -- Apr. 1
70] Black Lives Matter rally – Apr. 1
71] Strategic Nonviolent Organizing in the Face of Police Violence – Apr. 1
72] Green School benefit – Apr. 1
73] Attend the PSR dinner – Apr. 15
74] Join CODEPINK – Apr. 22 & Apr. 29
75] Interested in getting involved in a Peace Trail  
76] Support the Wheeler family who lost their home in a fire
77] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
78] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
79] Do you need any book shelves?
80] Join the Global Zero campaign
81] Join the Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
49] – On Fri., Mar. 31 from 10  to 11:30 AM the Center for Strategic and International Studies is hosting a talk “Deterring Iran After the Nuclear Deal" with five speakers at CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, WDC 20036. RSVP at

50] – On Fri., Mar. 31 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! This vigil will take place at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contract Art @ or at 202-360-6416. 

51] – On Fri., Mar. 31 from noon to 1 PM, join a Women in Black peace vigil. A vigil will take place in McKeldin Square at the corner of Light and Pratt Sts. Stay for as long as you can. Wear black. Dress for who knows what kind of weather. Bring your own poster or help with the "NO WAR IN MY NAME" banner.  When there are others to stand with, you don't need to carry the burden alone. Do this to be in solidarity with others....when everything around us says “Be afraid of the stranger.” Carpool and parking available. Just send an email that you need a ride [].  Peace signs will be available. 

52] – Enjoy Fairtrade Chocolate & Coffee Break at Busboys and Poets Brookland, 625 Monroe St. NE, WDC, on Fri., Mar. 31 from 1 to 2 PM.  The event is hosted by Divine Chocolate, in collaboration with the Fairtrade student committee at The Catholic University of America, Fair Trade Campaigns, and Catholic Relief Services - Ethical Trade.  Welcome Mercy Zaah who is visiting from Ghana as a representative of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers' Co-op. Mercy is a cocoa farmer, and her co-op produces the Fairtrade cocoa with which Divine Chocolate products are made.  You'll also have the opportunity to sample various flavors of delicious Divine Chocolate and pair them with coffee. This event will be featuring the Busboys & Poets Blend - a unique, direct trade blend of dark roasted coffee featuring a rich complexity of flavors.  Divine Chocolate is the only 100% Fairtrade chocolate company that is also co-owned by cocoa farmers. Members of ​Kuapa Kokoo, a co-operative of over 85,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana, benefit not only from the Fairtrade premium on the sale of their beans, but also receive the largest share ​(44%) of Divine’s distributable profit​. This in turn enables farmers to enjoy more economic stability and the increased influence in the cocoa industry that company​ ​ownership brings. See

53] – My 1st Lobby Day takes place at the Hart Senate Office, Constitution Ave. and 2nd St. NE, WDC, on Fri., Mar. 31 from 3 to 5 PM.  Take your kids to Congress! Advocate for #HandsOffDC and DC Statehood! D.C. residents don't have their own senators - not fair - so participants will visit key Senators and those of friends & family. The kids will share messages that are important to them along with the message that kids want their own Senators someday soon.  The nearest Metro stations are Union Station (Red Line) and Capitol South (Orange/Blue/Silver Lines).  RSVP with this short survey at Go to

54] – There is usually a silent vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends Meeting, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on Mar. 31. Black Lives Matter.

55] – On Fri., Mar. 31 from 6 to 7 PM, there is an Andy Harris Town Hall at Chesapeake College’s Todd Performing Arts Center in Wye Mills, MD. Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland plans to attend the town hall held by the First District Congressperson. Contact Brittany Shanahan at 443-432-5353 or

56] – On Fri., Mar. 31 at 7 PM, see a presentation of “Out of the Ashes​,” a drama based on real-life journey of Coley Harris and his son Ahmarr Melton.  Coley was absent from his son's life for 14 years due to incarceration.   See this at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew, 719 N. Shipley St., Wilmington 19801. This is a powerful, authentic experience sure to shed light on the impact of incarceration on families.  Make A FREE WILL OFFERING WITH ALL PROCEEDS SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY INITIATIVES.    Visit

57] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at  8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Mar. 31. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

58] – There is an INTERNATIONAL PILLOW FIGHT DAY on Sat., April Fools' Day 2017, 1500 Jefferson Drive SW on the National Mall. There will be massive pillow fights in cities around the world!  If you would like to learn how to organize a pillow fight, read the how-to guide.  Organizers, add your event!  This is the 9th annual International Pillow Fight Day, and the event attracts tens of thousands of people in 100+ cities each year.  Do not ask for permission - public assembly is a human right.  Go to and

59] – Youth Day Of Action will happen on Pennsylvania Avenue, WDC 20003, on Sat., Apr. 1 from 8:30 AM to noon.  This is a protest against the Trump administration to ensure that EVERY student has a future in this country. Spend the day in front of the White House to incite change and make your voices heard. Stand against police state and police brutality, racism, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, islamophobia, antisemitism and all forms of bigotry, the Dakota Access Pipeline and more.  Visit

60] – On Sat., Apr. 1 from 8:30 AM to noon,  Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore will hold its Spring Conference: Walking into the Future with Jesus, Martin, & Francis at the Friends Meeting House - Dupont Circle - 2111 Florida Ave. NW, WDC. To register, go to and click on the Donate/Event Registration button. The suggested fee is $35, and $10 for students. As the Trump presidency unfolds, panelists Terrence Rynne, Lisa Sharon Harper, and Rose Marie Berger will situate this historical moment in the context of Jesus’ radical nonviolence, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, and our hope for renewal in the church and the world. Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore is a region of Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace and justice movement. Through prayer, study, and action, work as individuals and in groups to build a just and peaceful world, witnessing to Jesus’s message and example of nonviolence.

61] – On Sat., Apr. 1 from 9 to 11 AM, come to a Movement for a  Culture of Peace Forum at the Trinity Episcopal Church, 1108 North Adams St., Wilmington 19801.  There is parking on 11th Street. Go to The forum will address the following critical questions: What is the Corrections system doing to prepare prisoners for re-entry in society?  What are the critical needs of returning citizens? How can we reduce recidivism?

  Is the Probation system effective?  How can it be improved?  What are churches and nonprofits doing to help returning citizens? Are they effective? Are there particular classes of offenders (such as those convicted of sex crimes) who have more difficult issues Unsinkable Eastern Shore II: Rural America Responds to Climate Change on Sat., Apr. 1 from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Eastern Shore Conservation Cemter, 114 South Washington St., Easton 21601.  Register at

62] – National Day of Action for Housing takes place at Freedom Plaza, 14th St. NW and Pennsylvania Ave., WDC, on Sat., Apr. 1 from 9 AM to 11 PM, and is hosted by the National Coalition for the Homeless. Go to  Participants will create a homeless encampment near the White House, and at city and state legislative buildings across the country. Bring tents, bring signs, bring your friends and families and stand up for safe, decent and affordable housing.  Go to

63] – Catch the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Panel Discussion at the Embassy of Cote d'Ivoire, 2424 Massachusetts Ave. NW, WDC, on Sat., Apr. 1 from 9 AM to 2 PM. Join the Pearson Center for a panel discussion with professional African women around domestic violence and sexual assault, including the first hand testimony of a domestic violence survivor.  Light refreshments will be served.  Contact the Pearson Center at (202) 578-0969 or

64] – The People's Filibuster, hosted by The People's Defense,  is happening  on Sat., Apr. 1 from 9:30 AM to noon at 3rd St., SW between Constitution Ave. NW & Maryland Ave, SE. Join thousands of others to protest and rally against the extreme agenda of President Donald Trump, including his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court. The People’s Filibuster will take place in cities across the US and feature everyday Americans speaking on why they object to the extreme agenda of the President and how the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court would advance that agenda for decades to come. Go to

65] – Communities United on Sat., Apr. 1 at 10 AM is hosting Meet Me in the Middle – a citywide, public gathering of members and allies at St. Vincent de Paul Church at President and E. Fayette Streets, across from the Shot Tower subway stop. Get the scoop on what's happenings for justice in Baltimore. Just a week out from Mayor Pugh's broken promise for a $15 minimum wage -- and 72 days into Trump's Presidency.  Go to

66] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email

67] – Gather on Sat., Apr. 1 at 11:30 AM in Delaware County, in front of the office of Rep. Patrick Meehan (R, PA, CD 7), 940 West Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064.  Honor the 50th Anniversary, April 4, 1967 of Dr. King's  historic "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" Speech, delivered at Riverside Church in New York City, one year to the day before his assassination on April 4, 1968. Read, listen to this astounding speech at Stand against the U.S. policy of "endless war" and daily drone strikes directed from remote command centers like the one at the Horsham Air Guard station, which is there because of Rep. Meehan’s backing. Stand with people who are organizing to stop poverty, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. Listen to the broadcast of excerpts from his historic anti-war speech, April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church, NYC.  Stand with large and striking banners, and signs in memory of Dr. King’s unyielding message of nonviolence and hope.
Representative Meehan, Stop the Drone War Command Center in Horsham, PA. Go to or call 484-574-1148.

68] – On Sat., Apr. 1 from 11:45 AM to 1 PM, the monthly Center City Anti-War/Drone Death Walk will happen. Meet at 12th & Arch Streets.  Please wear black in recognition of all the victims of Drone attacks and the continuing policy of 'endless war'.  Call Marge Van Cleef at 203-804-3013.

69] – Get over to the Fire The Fool Declaration Rally at the National Mall, 900 Ohio St. NW, WDC, on Sat., Apr. 1 from noon to 8 PM.  Thousands will unite at the National Mall to join the rally, founded to impart a satirical, symbolic, and powerful message of firing (impeaching) President Donald J. Trump, and to empower citizens all around the country to take power in their own political systems. Sister Rallies will be held around the country and the world in solidarity with the main rally in D.C. Go to

70] – There will be a Black Lives Matter Rally at MPDC 7th District Police Station, 2455 Alabama Ave. SE, WDC, on Sat., Apr. 1 from 1 to 5 PM.  See

71] –  Strategic Nonviolent Organizing in the Face of Police Violence is happening at 1525 Newton St. NE, WDC, on Sat., Apr. 1 from 5 to 8 PM, hosted by Peace House.  This event will look at how movements organizing under conditions of severe repression have created and sustained safe spaces for resistance. It will pay particular attention to student movements, such as the 1960-1961 sit-in movement for civil rights, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the university divestment from apartheid South Africa movement and the Chilean student movement during the Pinochet dictatorship. Participants will discuss the kinds of mobilization, multi-issue organizations and coalitions that have most effective in undermining undemocratic and repressive regimes.  They will also look at how threat, repression and police violence have been turned against the states, security forces and university administrators that use them. Finally, the group will look at how successful resistance movements have drawn adherents, encouraged innovation and led to mass mobilization. Professor Schneider will speak from her experience working in the resistance against Pinochet in Chile and with grassroots groups and parents organizing against police violence in Paris and New York, and her three decades of studying social movements comparatively. See

72] – There is a Green Gala Benefit for The Green School of Baltimore on Sat., Apr. 1 from 7 to 10:30 PM at 405 E Oliver St., Baltimore 21202. See  Also check out

73] – The Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility Annual Dinner will take place on Sat., Apr. 15 from 6 to 9 PM at the Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore.  The guest speaker is  Dr. Ira Helfand, co-President of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.   He will speak on the growing danger of nuclear war and what we can do about it. The suggested donations are $20, $30, $50 or $100. Register at or by emailing

74] – There is still room available from time to time at the CODEPINK activist house in DC. Perhaps you want to join the Scientists March on April 22 or the Climate March on April 29? Contact Paki at

75] – Doug Retzler. 410-598-8409 0r, wrote this: "A close friend of mine, Dave Goldsmith, put in an inquiry last Fall with the state about putting up a historic marker at the site of the Catonsville 9 action. He's supposed to get word back about it by this Summer.   His initiating that idea made me start thinking about creating a series of sites in focus as a "Peace Trail"-  activist activities & sites in promotion of human rights, environmental justice & peace -The Patapsco C.O. camp building a hydroelectric generator  in 1941 seems another good candidate."  If you have any interest in getting involved in this project, contact Doug.
                                                                                                                                                                    76] -- Joyce and Tim Wheeler now live in Sequim, Washington, but their son, Morgan and his family have lived in the Wheeler’s Baltimore home, 816 Beaumont Avenue for some time.  Tragically, at 3 AM on February 4, the home was burned beyond recognition.  Morgan was able to get his family out, but the house and its contents are totally destroyed.  Morgan's daughter, Erin, has created a Go Fund Me page which you can access below.  Anything you are able to contribute to support Morgan and his family would be greatly appreciated. Go to 


 - Description:

77] -- The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email:

78] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski at

79] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

80] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

81] – A Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to; call 202-682-4282.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

“One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan