The U.S. State Department last week ordered American military and diplomatic families to withdraw from Turkey. The pullout shows the West's growing concerns about the NATO member's shift to authoritarian, belligerent and pro-Islamic policies.

Regarded just a few years ago as a stable, prosperous nation with a rare combination of pro-democratic traditions and a Muslim majority, Turkey's geo-political position and internal security are rapidly declining and fostering threats to a larger region.

Today's column summarizes these developments, documented by a long appendix of news stories since Turkey's ruling AKP party won a surprisingly strong (and some say suspicious) election victory Nov. 1 with just short of 50 percent of the announced vote. The news reports are drawn from a mixture of alternative and mainstream sources and present a far different view of ISIS, Turkey and United States-led activities than Western audiences normally see.

The gist is that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ambitions have boomeranged, thereby diminishing his clout and country.

He has helped his allies foster the disgraceful covert actions enabling the civil war in Syria, thereby generating the massive refugee crisis destroying many lives and undermining the European Union. His fatal shootdown of a Russian fighter in Syria last November could have prompted a much Recep Erdoganwider war involving NATO but instead seems merely to have strengthened Russian resolve to punish Turkey, expose its ties to ISIS and other jihadists — and otherwise ensure that the ambitions of Turkey and its allies are thwarted in the key battlefield of Syria.

A columnist in Newsweek last month described Erdoğan, shown in a file photo, "as out of control" and in danger of overthrow, as described more fully below.

For years, however, Western media have failed for the most part to report except in isolated instances how Turkey, the United States and other allies have secretly supported a rebellion in Syria by smuggling in arms and foreign fighters to foster the illusion that the intended overthrow was domestic unrest.

At this point, Turkey's troubles include two major terrorist atrocities recently in major cities and reprisals by government. The mayhem includes its ongoing covert war against neighboring areas of Syria, plus crackdowns on accused terrorists, journalists, dissidents, religious and ethnic minorities. 

Turkey's flailing and repressive responses carry huge implications for both its population as well as for NATO, and regional players that include Israel, the Persian Gulf Monarchies, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon 

A major part of the decline in Turkey's global position stems from Erdoğan's zeal for his multi-nation alliance to keep trying to overthrow Syria's government. Since the effort began in 2011Turkey has supported rebels that include ethnic Turks located in northern Syria, the so-called Free Syrian Army, and radical jihadists whom Turkey has helped smuggle into Syria from elsewhere around the world.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Google and Israeli intelligence enthusiastically cooperated in hopes of overthrowing Syria’s government in efforts that have led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees, according to a trove of emails recently organized for release by WikiLeaks.

Hillary Clinton Benghazi Committee CNN Pompeo 10-22-15One email stated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s fall could lead to a religious war in the region, “which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies.”

The email, as well as a separate one describing a secret high-level effort within Google to assist the State Department in regime change for Syria, is one of the Clinton-linked emails organized by WikiLeaks into a searchable database announced last week.

These help paint a picture of the Democratic front-runner as a zealous advocate of covert activities to overthrow foreign leaders opposed by U.S. elites. Clinton is shown in a file photo as she parried GOP attacks during a House hearing in October on the 2012 killing of U.S. personnel at Benghazi, a process that was easier for her than apparent because she secretly shared certain goals with her interrogators, as described below.

Hillary Clinton's WikiLeaks Email ArchiveThe mainstream media for the most part have ignored the remarkable email revelations from recent days contained in Clinton's emails from 2009 to 2013 as secretary of state.

Only a handful of alternative and mostly web-based commentary sites have covered the story so far. Yet the emails help connect the dots from her 2003 support of the Iraq invasion as a senator to the vast suffering from regime change in Libya and Syria, including such collateral results as the refugee migration to Europe and blowback by terrorists dispersed there.

The de facto news blackout on the stories by United States media suggests also why WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange are so widely reviled by government officials and their allies in the media.

WikiLeaks enables whistleblowers to bypass many control mechanisms to suppress sensitive matters normally covered only in partial fashion by foreign policy decision-makers and their most friendly news outlets, which now include tech giants like Google (the best known subsidiary of the new parent company Alphabet).

Today's column — describing the shocking contents of the recent Clinton emails — builds on the first part of our new WikiLeaks series:  Noted Swedish Journalist, Assange Critic Exposed As Police Agent, published March 20, 2016.

That segment reported how Martin Fredriksson, a prize-winning Swedish journalist known for his left-wing, pro-NATO and anti-WikiLeaks commentary, was revealed this month to have been a paid agent of Säpo, Sweden's security service.

Fredriksson, with roots also in the high-tech community, also advocated against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and urged Sweden's chapter of Amnesty International to avoid supporting Sweden's relentless pursuit of Assange for questioning regarding sex misconduct complaints arising in 2010.

The third part of our series will examine the dubious legality of Sweden's crusade against Assange, which has caused a United Nations panel last month to find that Assange's political asylum in Ecuador's London Swedish flagembassy since June 2012 as arbitrary detention as a violation of human rights.

Assange has denied any crime in the sexual complaints.

Also, he has accused Sweden (whose flag is shown at left) of mounting a trumped up probe so it can extradite him to the United States to face reprisal for publishing hacked emails embarrassing to United States and other diplomats. U.S. authorities have not commented on whether they have filed secret charges (as Assange claims) against him and his colleagues working for the pro-transparency site WikiLeaks.

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A prize-winning Swedish journalist noted for his left-wing, pro-NATO and anti-WikiLeaks commentary was revealed this month to have been a paid agent of Säpo, his nation's security service.

Martin Fredriksson WikimediaMartin Fredriksson, shown in a file photo and a winner of a major investigative reporting prize in 2014 for his work exposing right-wing groups opposed to NATO, has been secretly paid for years by Säpo, the Swedish Security Service, according to news reports based on his own admissions.

In deep intrigue that resembles a spy novel, Fredriksson's story undermines conventional wisdom on both sides of the Atlantic that journalists work independently from power centers, including government agencies.

Also, the tale is timely, especially because of Sweden's ongoing persecution of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange and new revelations by that transparency advocacy group involving Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.

Julian Assange Indicter Authorities have targeted Assange (shown in a file photo) for what appears to be a trumped up sex scandal probe that has extended for nearly six years, apparently in reprisal for massive and ongoing disclosures by WikiLeaks of Western governments' dark secrets.

More generally, United States and NATO pressures upon European leaders are tainting the latter's carefully nurtured images of independence.

Sweden, which has long boasted of an official position of neutrality in world affairs and close adherence to humanitarian and democratic principles under a rule of law, has already hurt its image by its pursuit of Assange. The fallout includes a ruling last month by a United Nations panel that Assange's political asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition amounts to “arbitrary detention” under international law. 

The Indicter, a start-up global human rights commentary site, underscored in columns March 6 and 13 the sinister implications of the revelations, especially the seemingly odd mixture of Fredriksson's advocacy against Assange and in favor of NATO. The Indicter revealed, for example, that Fredriksson used his clout to lobby for Amnesty International opposition to Assange.

Marcello Ferrado de Noli The Indicter's editor is Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Ph.D., shown at left, and a longtime Swedish medical school professor and leader of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights. He drew on disclosures March 2 about Fredriksson in SVD (Svenska Dagbladet, or Swedish Daily) to illustrate a broader theme: that Swedish officials and thought leaders defer far more to the United States and authoritarian policies than commonly understood in liberal democracies, including Sweden.

Sweden's highly irregular investigation of Assange illustrates his thesis.

Ecuador granted Assange political asylum in its London embassy three and half years ago to protect him from a relentless effort by Swedish authorities to extradite him for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations arising from two affairs he undertook from invitations by women attending his featured speech at an August 2010 conference in Sweden.

Assange submitted to questioning about the claims from the two women, who had separately invited him to stay with them. Authorities have never charged him with a crime but they have mounted an extraordinary campaign to extradite him to Sweden for further questioning after he left the country.

Assange has denied any criminal violation. Also, he has argued unsuccessfully in British courts that the investigation has been a ruse to extradite him to Sweden so he could then be extradited to the United States to face reported but still-secret U.S. charges. Assange is not subject to extradition directly from Britain to the United States. U.S. charges are reported to arise from WikiLeaks disclosures that severely embarrassed officials in the United States, Britain, Sweden and elsewhere in Western governments and private power centers.

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Americans deserve thorough disclosure of the nation’s major assassinations says a new research group at the start of the annual “Sunshine Week” beginning March 13.

As an initial goal, Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA), a non-partisan umbrella group, seeks withheld records pertaining to the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.  

John F. Kennedy side profile“CAPA seeks release of the remaining JFK records with a minimum of redactions, which can obscure vital information,” said CAPA Chairman Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., a prominent expert in forensic pathology for five decades.

“We shall also file Freedom of Information Act requests and similar legal actions to enforce the law and undertake public education efforts to show the importance of disclosure to new generations.” Wecht, shown below in his lab, is a world-renowned consultant, medical school professor, author, and former county coroner for two decades in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Cyril Wecht in labThis editor is one of nine CAPA directors along with Wecht, and is also the media liaison for the CAPA announcement, which is timed to coincide with the annual Sunshine Week launched by Florida journalists and then nationally in 2005 by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) with funding from the Knight Foundation. The purpose is to advocate for open government and warn against the dangers of excessive secrecy.

In Washington, DC, the National Press Club and Newseum are among the organizations sponsoring events during the week seeking more transparency by government. There are many challenges for the media and the public in obtaining from government information once regarded as routine. For example, the Washington Post reported in its Sunday, March 13 print edition, The federal government no longer cares about disclosing public information.

This editor shares those goals as an active member of more than a half dozen journalism and legal bodies, including the National Press Club's Press Freedom Committee and several other of the largest and oldest journalism bodies, such as SPJ, ASJA, and the Overseas Press Club. But an urgent need exists also for more for targeted advocacy efforts on the topic of assassinations, especially since the major media have proven extremely reluctant to use their influence to report sensitive aspects of major assassinations -- much less lobby for additional disclosures.

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Texas authorities bungled the death investigation last month of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and thereby caused needless fears of murder and other scandal, according to a retired high-level police executive speaking at the National Press Club March 9.

Antonin Scalia Supreme Court photoAuthorities should have performed an autopsy and other standard procedures to determine the cause of Scalia's death Feb. 13 at a luxury ranch in West Texas said William O. Ritchie, Jr., a former deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in the nation's capital.

"Every death you investigate," Ritchie recalled telling his police subordinates, "is a homicide until proven otherwise."

Ritchie spoke during a press club panel discussion that also featured the two prize-winning Washington Post reporters who revealed that Scalia had been attending without normal security a gathering of an elite, all-male, secretive hunting society.

Reporters Sari Horwitz and Amy Brittain recounted how they unraveled step-by-step that Scalia attended for free over St. Valentine's Day weekend a meeting of the International Order of St. Hubertus -- and that only a few of the 36 guests are known at the five-star Cibolo Creek Ranch

John PoindexterMuch of official Washington quickly moved on from the death -- and its poorly sourced rumors of possible murder and other foul play, along with more substantive concerns about professional ethics -- in order to focus on Scalia's legacy and political jousting over his successor.

But the the Justice Integrity Project recruited three experts to discuss circumstances of the death before the press club's McClendon Group, a speaker society for important topics sometimes downplayed because they create discomfort in elite circles.

Chief Ritchie, a former MPD homicide commander, made front page news last month in the Washington Post by criticizing Texas authorities who deferred to Scalia's family and billionaire ranch owner John B. Poindexter by announcing that Scalia, 79, died of "natural causes" without an examination of the body and death scene by trained medical personnel.

Ritchie said the circumstances were "fishy." The U.S. Marshals Service said Scalia had declined a security detail at the Cibolo Creek Ranch owned by Poindexter, shown at right in a photo from his company.

Then the reporters revealed Feb. 24 that Scalia had been attending for free the St. Hubertus gathering along with C. Allen Foster, a prominent Washington lawyer who accompanied the justice on a plane trip to the ranch's private airstrip.

The ranch owner, whose John B. Poindexter Company benefited from last year’s Supreme Court refusal to hear an age bias case against its $140 million annual grossing subsidiary Mic Inc., reported to authorities that he found Scalia’s body in a guest room. News accounts have stated that 36 guests went to the ranch, which is about 30 miles from the Texas-Mexico border. Only a few of their identities are public.

John Poindexter Statuette at ranchThis editor has followed news reports closely since the death although this is our first commentary aside from excerpting others' reports. Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen traveled to the ranch and the El Paso funeral home promptly after the death, phoned us with accounts of his findings, and reported them in exclusive scoops on his daily Wayne Madsen Report, as well as on radio broadcasts for the Alex Jones Infowars radio broadcasts and with commentary elsewhere.

Madsen, an author and former Navy intelligence officer, stayed in one of the $700-a-night rooms at the five-star resort and a took photos of the ghoulish decorations, such as the one at left (used with permission) of a devil-like statuette positioned just a few feet from Scalia's room. This was one of a number of what Madsen reported as satanic-themed art pieces at the resort, with many of them decorating the dining room where Scalia, a devout Catholic, last dined.
Madsen's concerns, like ours at this site and those of the Post reporters, have primarily centered on procedural irregularities in the death investigation and potential ethical concerns when a powerful justice enjoys free and secretive junkets in the company of the elite. The Supreme Court requires only a minimum of disclosure under its opaque and largely self-enforcing ethics rules.

We explored them in depth in a series of columns showing how Associate Justice Clarence Thomas falsified his annual sworn disclosure forms for years to hide, among other things, his wife's money from lobbying, as we reported in Common Cause Files Against Justice Thomas's Wife's Group.

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A California parole board this month rejected a dramatic plea to release the convicted slayer of 1968 presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy, thereby continuing one of the nation's most notorious murder cover-ups.

Kennedy friend Paul Schrade, 91, argued that the convicted Sirhan B. Sirhan, firing from Kennedy's front, could not have killed the New York senator in a hotel massacre that left Schrade wounded.

Robert F. Kennedy"Kennedy was a man of justice," Schrade told the parole board Feb. 10 in a prepared statement at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, CA.

"But, so far," Schrade continued, "justice has not been served in this case. And I feel obliged as both a shooting victim and as an American to speak out about this — and to honor the memory of the greatest American I’ve ever known, Robert Francis Kennedy."

The board refused to grant clemency despite additional evidence from multiple witnesses and books through the years supporting defense claims that Kennedy (shown in a file photo at left) was killed from the rear.

Today's column begins ramped up coverage here by the Justice Integrity Project of the 1968 assassinations of Robert Kennedy (widely known as "RFK" in news headlines) and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The full text of Schrade's unsuccessful arguments to California's parole board, shown below, provides a powerful new dimension to the historical debate.

This month was the first time Schrade has made such a verbal plea on behalf of a Sirhan, who is widely regarded by researchers (but not publicly by authorities) as a likely victim of mind-control before he fired at Kennedy, who had left a ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel via a hotel kitchen when he was shot.

Sirhan, a former race track exercise jockey who disappeared from his family for many weeks shortly before the shooting, has maintained that he could not remember details of his actions, including repetitious entries in his diary "RFK must die" that defenders describe as a symptom of mind control by unknown perpetrators.

Authorities have kept Sirhan in solitary confinement in essence for more than 45 years while his advocates have unsuccessfully argued for a new investigation or clemency. His most recent parole hearing before this year's was in 2011.

Schrade addressed his remarks in part to Sirhan (shown at right in a prison photo).

Sirhan Sirhan"Sirhan, I forgive you," said Schrade, whom Sirhan shot in the forehead in the pantry. Schrade continued:

"The evidence clearly shows you were not the gunman who shot Robert Kennedy."

"There is clear evidence of a second gunman in that kitchen pantry who shot Robert Kennedy," said Schrade. "One of the bullets — the fatal bullet — struck Bob in the back of the head. Two bullets struck Bob literally in his back. A fourth bullet struck the back of his coat’s upper right seam and passed harmlessly through his coat. I believe all four of those bullets were fired from a second gunman standing behind Bob. You were never behind Bob, nor was Bob’s back ever exposed to you."

Also, Schrade presented documents supporting not only his call for Sirhan's release but also his plea for a new official investigation of the 1968 assassination.

Among them was a letter from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. supporting a new, complete investigation of the only known recording of his father's shooting. The 2012 letter, sent by the late senator's second-eldest son to then-U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder, endorsed Schrade's request for a complete FBI analysis of an audiotape recording made by freelance newspaper reporter Stanislaw Pruszynski.

Audio expert Philip Van Praag says the Pruszynski tape -- the only known recording of the Ambassador Hotel gunshots -- captured a total of 13 shots, five more than Sirhan's gun could fire. FBI documents obtained in 2014 through the Freedom of Information Act reveal the Bureau's audio analysts responded to the Kennedy-supported Schrade request for a full examination by conducting only a cursory, inconclusive review of that recording. The FBI failed even to reach out to Van Praag for key information about his findings.

The killing occurred at the Ambassador shortly after the elder Kennedy, 42, was announced as winning California's Democratic presidential primary. The death removed a leading contender who was poised to win the presidency in 1968.

Richard NixonInstead, Republican Richard Nixon (shown at right in an official photo) narrowly defeated Vice President Hubert Humphrey, whose late-starting candidacy was crippled by dissension across the nation and especially within the Democratic Party. Among causes were protests over the Vietnam War waged by the administration of incumbent Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson and many post-assassination riots in cities after the 1968 assassinations of Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Paul Schrade Associated Press poolThis month for the 15th time, California officials denied parole for Sirhan, who was convicted of murder in the first degree during a trial in 1969 and sentenced to death in a gas chamber before separate legal decisions abolished the death penalty in California.

An Associated Press photo by Gregory Bull, who was the pool photographer for the nation's media, shows Schrade's reaction to this month's proceedings.

Schrade, a former United Auto Workers official and friend to Kennedy, is far from alone in his belief in Sirhan's innocence in killing Robert Kennedy, even if Sirhan shot Schrade. At least a dozen books dating back nearly five decades have attacked the investigation and verdict.

"The man convicted of the crime could not possibly have done it," wrote best-selling authors Richard Belzer and David Wayne, for example, in their 2013 book Hit List: An In-Depth Investigation Into the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination., a successor to their 2012 book on the topic Dead Wrong. "Furthermore, he was obviously programmed, as experts have determined." 

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