President Trump's clumsy explanation Friday of his planned military strike against Iran rapidly collapsed. But it falls within a longer tradition of Executive Branch secrecy and deception regarding history-making United States military and intelligence developments.

Trump claimed via Twitter and then during an interview with NBC's Meet the Press host Chuck Todd that he learned from military officials for the first time just 30 minutes before a planned retaliatory attack on Iran that it would cause an estimated 150 Iranian deaths.

djt chuck todd june 23 2019 nbc SmallTrump is shown in an NBC News photo with Todd at right during the June 23 interview at the White House.

Trump said that he had cancelled an Air Force attack on Iran just before launch because the effect would be disproportionate to Iran's downing of an unmanned drone with no casualties.

Experts, including pundits quoted by name and unnamed sources, promptly disputed Trump's version.

Former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, told an MSNBC audience, for example, that military officials always gave her casualty estimates early during any advance briefing for her as a senator — and that military would certainly provide an even more thorough briefing to a president before a major strike. Military and intelligence experts concurred on air.

The New York Times first reported that airplanes were already in the air when Trump aborted the mission, contradicting his account. The Washington Post later reported that Trump had in fact been briefed on casualty estimates early on Thursday, unlike his claim that he raised iran flag mapthe issue for the first time just 30 minutes before the attack and that "generals" had to research the matter and then get back to him in time for his executive decision.

Other critics roundly criticized Todd and NBC. Aaron Rupar of Vox, for example, published a June 24 column, Chuck Todd’s Trump interview, and the backlash to it, explained. Rupar wrote: "At numerous points throughout the interview, Todd let Trump get away with blatant falsehoods and gaslighting. Todd also teed up a number of softball questions for the president, like 'Do you think you’ve been more successful in business or the presidency?'”

Similarly, the conservative but anti-Trump Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote on June 24Trump’s lies need to be exposed in real time.

The dispute over Trump's veracity raises many issues. One involved the sudden resignation of Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan after someone leaked rumors of a long-ago domestic scandal. Shanahan and his son reportedly his then-wife.

Some mark espercommentators have claimed that recent replacement of Shanahan smacks of internal Trump Administration intrigue.  Shanahan's replacement is Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, (shown at right), a West Point classmate of rumored to have been less militant on Iran than Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a purported ally of the administration's most extreme hawks like Pompeo. Shanahan is reported to have been more cautious about embarking on war against Iran than Pompeo

Whatever the facts on that, one issue noted all too seldom by major media is that dissembling and secrecy have a disturbing history in such presidential decision-making on the most important matters, typically involving war, assassinations and covert backgrounds of elected office-holders.

With a few exceptions, such as the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" hoax leading to the 2003 U.S. coalition attack on Iraq, the mainstream, corporate-owned media are especially reluctant to reassess the past even, or especially, in historically important "national security" matters.

The reasons?

Journalists fear of lost access to powerful officials. By contrast, NBC's Todd showed his eagerness to host Trump and feed him questions regarded as "softballs" by some news colleagues. Journalists often fear also that if they dig too deep they might expose their own news  organizations' mistakes or complicity in suppressing previous stories.

Regarding government lies to promote venal policies under the rhetoric of "national security" or other foreign policy goals, the major media may serve as silent partners in elite government intrigues -- and not independent voices, as promoted in conventional wisdom.

For example, our most recent column here, Trump Found His Roy Cohn In Deep State Fixer Bill Barr, reported how the major media and Congress alike have been extremely reluctant even to mention Attorney General William Barr's disgraceful record as a CIA operative and Justice Department apparatchik decades ago in helping cover up heinous, state-sanctioned narcotics and arms smuggling along with associated financial crimes totaling hundreds of billions of dollars in victim losses. 

william barr prin dep asst ag edward ocallaghan rod rosenstein april 18 2 2019 SmallAttorney General William Barr, center, is flanked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan of the National Security Division,as Barr used pro-Trump language to dismiss the findings of the Mueller Report at Justice Department news conference on April 18, 2019.

In the time since that column, there are new examples of how secrecy envelopes even the most important foreign policy decisions an even when enough time has passed so that they become the focus of historical inquiry.

ash carter CustomA vivid example occurred two weeks ago when former U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter spoke at the Atlantic Magazine's headquarters at the Watergate about his new book, Inside the Five-Sided Box): Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon.

Carter, shown at right on the cover of his book, had spent three decades at the Pentagon before his promotion from deputy defense secretary to the cabinet position during President Obama's second term.

During Q&A, this reporter noted that the book briefly addressed Obama's failure to enforce his "red line" in Syria during the late summer of 2013 but failed to describe who advocated for war authorization from Congress and who advocated for an immediate strike against the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad.

Carter, now director of Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and no longer an administration employee, is writing and speaking for "history," I mentioned as a preface to my question.

"I'm not going to tell you that for two reasons," Carter responded. "One, I'm not sure I know because I was deputy secretary at the time....Second, I don't remember that kind of detail and I would never betray that kind of confidence."

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This tab provides supplementary reading, including source articles, for the Justice Integrity Project column published on June 24, 2019 Trump Lied About His Planned Iran Strike, Following A Pattern.

The column began, "President Trump's clumsy explanation Friday of his planned military strike against Iran rapidly collapsed. But it falls within a longer tradition of Executive Branch secrecy and deception regarding history-making United States military and intelligence developments."

The materials are arranged below in reverse chronological order below. They total more than 4,300 words, too much material to include as an appendix to the column.

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In protecting President Trump, Attorney General William Barr is meeting the president’s demand for a loyal legal fixer in the radical right mold of the canny, connected and immoral Roy Cohn.

djt roy cohn tuxedos sundance film sonia moskowtizThat is the not-so-hidden backstory of the radical gutting of American constitutional government now underway to expand and cover up Team Trump's corruption.

The synergy between Barr's ugly past as a CIA-trained strategist implicated in massive drug, arms and financial crime cover-ups decades ago makes his current alliance with Trump far more dangerous for United States democracy than Cohn's long-ago relationships with the big-talking hotelier Trump of the early 1980s or even with Cohn's own 1950s mentor, the red-baiting Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy.

Some see Barr as a conservative "institutionalist" committed to a "rule of law" at the Justice Department. Others increasingly regard him as the president's puppet and defender against other law enforcers. We argue in this column that his track record shows a pattern of cynical manipulation of law and rhetoric to enhance the power of the already powerful.

First, our deep dive into this history introduces the cast of characters. The future president is shown at right (photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Altimeter Films) with Cohn, his one-time mentor, attorney and Manhattan nightlife companion before Cohn's 1986 death from AIDS.

Fast forward to March, where Trump is shown below at left congratulating Barr at the White House upon Barr's joining Team Trump as Attorney General.

Updates:

Barr Defies Flynn Judge: Despite court order, prosecutors don’t release transcripts of Flynn, Russian ambassador, May 31, 2019.

e jean carroll headshotCBS Delivers Softball "CBS This Morning" Interview of Barr, May 31, 2019.

Worst Trump Assault Claim Yet? E. Jean Carroll: “Trump attacked me in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman,” (shown via Twitter), June 21, 2019.

Trump last week gave Barr unprecedented power to declassify, upon his own initiative, U.S. intelligence, as reported by the New York Times and elsewhere in such stories as Trump Gives Attorney General Sweeping Power in Review of 2016 Campaign Inquiry on May 24. "The directive gives Mr. Barr immense leverage," the Times reported, "over the intelligence community and enormous power over what the public learns about the roots of the Russia investigation."

djt william barr doj photo march 2019Congruent with Barr's view on near-unlimited powers for a president under what others might view as a fascist "unitary executive" theory of the Constitution, Trump's delegation of power could be an attempt to mobilize the Justice Department against his political opponents.

Based on Trump's Twitter rants, these opponents could include intelligence analysts and law enforcers who have raised suspicions about corruption in Trump Team's foreign alliances and funding relationships.

Potentially lost in the blizzard of other news is the historical fact that such efforts by the Nixon administration prompted so much public outrage and legal liability as to form one of the building blocks for the impeachment momentum that drove Nixon from office in 1974 before the House could vote to impeach.

Our Justice Integrity Project was founded nearly a decade ago to expose instances of federal political prosecutions. So this looming Constitutional and human rights crisis sits squarely within our charter.

Barr's Rise To Power, Again

With that background, our column today focuses on Barr's disgraceful past as a fixer, cover-up artist  and world-class hypocrite spouting high-minded rhetoric about "rule of law" while abusing his power in service of corrupt goals and masters. The Mueller Report and its revelations provide our news peg, underscoring the importance of this historical inquiry at this point, but are not themselves our focus today. The Justice Integrity Project publishes daily updates of such developments in our sections summarizing general news, Trump Watch and Deep State.

For this more in-depth column, we start by citing Trump's repeated complaints about the Justice Department, as quoted in a documentary film, Where's My Roy Cohn?, which has been described as a "thriller-like exposé," released in January.

A year previous, on Jan. 4, 2018, the specific concept that Trump wanted a fixer in the mold of Roy Cohn to run the nominally independent U.S. Justice Department became prominent also with publication of a New York Times story by Michael S. Schmidt. It began:

“President Trump gave firm instructions in March to the White House’s top lawyer: stop the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from recusing himself in the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election.

"Public pressure was building for Mr. Sessions, who had been a senior member of the Trump campaign, to step aside. But the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, carried out the president’s orders and lobbied Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the episode.

"Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama.

"Mr. Trump then asked, 'Where’s my Roy Cohn?' He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986 [emphasis added]."

In the film clip, and as amplified in a Vanity Fair article, Where’s My Roy Cohn? Digs into One of the 20th Century’s Most Evil Men, Trump bemoaned (with his emphasis on the "my"), in effect, not being able to use the the Justice Department as a kind of personal legal team.

A weirdly evocative still photo from the documentary shows Cohn and Trump (at left below, both in headdress) during one of their gala evenings on the town together.

DJT roy cohn sundance film wheres my roy cohnmariette pathy allenrIn the structure of the column unfolding below, we next touch briefly on the kind of criminal undertakings common for Trump and Cohn during the future president's early years in business.

We then move to Barr's concurrent rise as a loyal legal apparatchik for ultra-right-wing politicos during the 1980s.

Barr's work most notably served the Bush family and its allies, who became heavily involved in organized crime during the Iran-Contra scandals of the 1980s, according to multiple sources. These included Republican operative and former Reagan-Bush aide Roger Stone, author of Jeb! and The Bush Crime Family (2016), a remarkably detailed account of the family's corruption and deviance, as recounted by an insider notorious for his own dirty tricks. 

roger stone jeb coverBefore undertaking that history, however, we must note at the outset the shocking failure of society's watchdogs during recent years to refresh public recollection about Iran-Contra.

That's especially harmful when so many of the malefactors are still prominent. These include Barr, the recent National Rifle Association President Oliver North and Presidential Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams.

Barr, who was U.S. attorney general from 1991 to 1993 as he protected President George H.W. Bush from corruption investigations, had sought the Trump post with a unsolicited 19-page memo to the Justice Department last year arguing for expanded presidential immunities.

Not surprisingly, the embattled Trump then chose Barr to replace Trump's first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who had angered the president by failing to protect him from the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller into claims of 2016 Trump presidential campaign wrongdoing and cover up.

Barr went on at news conferences to spin his redacted version of Mueller's 448-page report before anyone in Congress or the public could see it.

Trump's designation of new powers for Barr is an invitation for Team Trump to cherry pick information to argue that Trump is the victim of "spying" and other unfair practices during the 2016 campaign. Scant rebuttal is possible because Team Trump controls much of the classified documentation and has vowed minimal cooperation with Congress or other oversight bodies.

The rest of the public can safely assume -- based on past practices and the indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on May 23 on spy charges for releasing classified documents -- that Team Trump will try to use Barr to thwart independent investigations of the classified materials at issue.

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Justice Integrity Project Editor's Introduction: Guest columnist Mark Channing Miller shares below his tool kit for everyone who wants to change the blackout of news coverage of the landmark legal filing this spring by family members of 9/11 terror attack victims and by independent researchers who seek to require public disclosure by the U.S. Justice Department of hidden federal government records.

9 11 richard gage robert mcilvaine mick harrison david meiswinkle FBI lawsuit ak photoJust under Miller's introduction is his transcription of remarks by the lawsuit plaintiffs, some shown below at right, during their March 25 news conference near the federal courthouse and Justice Department headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, DC. The event was outside the Newseum, which was charging nearly $25 admission (including to see displays of 9/11 attack debris) but whose management tried to shoo from the public sidewalk the 9/11 lawsuit plaintiffs at right. 

 

Guest column for the Justice Integrity Project by Mark Channing Miller

What follows introduces a bundle of six documents related to the latest legal action to force a new, thorough, external assessment of any evidence related to September 2001 terrorist attacks that was known to the FBI as of 2013 but not considered by the 9/11 Commission. This action was filed on March 25, 2019. Five documents are linked; the sixth, a news conference transcript, follows this introduction.

The bundle is for the benefit of all citizens, including journalists, journalism students, lawyers and law students. As the news media have not acknowledged the mounting evidence at odds with government accounts of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, all are invited to put together their own "stories" as if you were members of 9 11 lawyers committee logothe Fourth Estate and:

(1) attended the news conference after three plaintiffs sued the FBI in federal court on March 25; or (2) covered the release of the 9/11 Review Commission's report four years ago.

Because most people already spend so much time looking into screens, it may be worth having a print shop print out each of the six documents -- to be able to read each with pen in hand for underlining and writing questions and comments in the margins. Save money and paper by having them printed double-sided.

The bundle includes:

* The 44-page, seven-count complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on March 25 charging that the FBI and the Justice Department ignored a 2014 Congressional mandate to provide Congress all evidence known to the Bureau regarding the September 2001 attacks, along with external assessments of that uevidence. Plaintiffs: Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and Robert McIlvaine. (Most of it is double-spaced for easier reading.)

* ae 911 truth logo horizontalA 7,000-word rush transcript of the news conference [following this introduction] at which four individuals spoke about the complaint after filing it in federal court and answered questions. They are Attorneys Mick Harrison and David Meiswinkle of the Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Richard Gage of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and Robert McIlvaine, father of a man killed in the 9/11 attack. No news organization representative was present. A video of the news conference is here.

* The 127-page report of the 9/11 Review Commission, titled "The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century" and released on March 25, 2015. Commissioners and staff are named and briefly profiled on pages 10-14.

* An article on the complaint for Courthouse News Service written by Jennifer Hijazi and carried on the CNS website for one day, March 26, 2019, before disappearing. (It was salvaged by someone at Architects & Engineers.)

* A New York Times article on the 9/11 Review Comission report written by Michael S. Schmidt, published in 2015.

* A Washington Post article on the 9/11 Review Commission report written by Adam Goldman, published in 2015.

The complaint charges that the FBI ignored a 2014 Congressional mandate to provide Congress all evidence known to the agency regarding the September 2001 attacks that was not considered by the original 9/11 Commission, along with an external assessment of that evidence (also mandated), and it asks the court to order the FBI and the Justice Department to belatedly obey the law containing the mandate.

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Justice Integrity Project Editor's Introduction: Guest columnists J. Michael Springmann, right, and Edward C. Corrigan, share below a column about the dangerous increase in self-censorship by media aggregators like Google that work closely with U.S. political authorities to censor political communications under the guise of "national security," opposition to michael springmann"fake news" or other buzzwords.

In this instance, Google and several other web platforms closely connected with the U.S. political and financial establishment disabled unilaterally a month ago the platforms of Iran's Press TV and its affiliate HispanTV. The latter interviewed this editor on May 8 about political developments in the U.S. capital regarding the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr.

As in the past with this outlet, the on-camera interview was conducted by an experienced and capable producer, Alfredo Miranda, formerly of the prominent mainstream network Univision. Aside from questions from an experienced producer with more historical knowledge than most, the content was little different than that voiced by this editor in any other venue (including politically conservative U.S. broadcast outlets) or coverage provided by commentators on many other U.S.-based media throughout the same day.

The main difference is that someone decided for unknown reasons — presumably because of ramped-up U.S. government sanctions against Iran — that U.S. media should march in mohammad mossadeqlockstep to suppress the outlets. Google and similar high-tech companies are tightly connected with elite intelligence and Wall Street circles.

Current news coverage (excerpted in an appendix below) might be similar among outlets. But only global, independent or alternative voices are likely to mention the CIA's covert 1953 role in the coup overthrowing Iran's democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadeq, left, which led to current crises.

The 1953 coup installed a repressive pro-American shah who protected Anglo-American oil interests until his ouster during the 1979 Islamic rebellion. Another result of coup was the Iran-Contra Affair, whereby members of the Reagan-Bush Administation during the 1980s illegally facilitated the secret sale of arms to Iran in order to use the proceeds to fund the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua.

William Barr, the current U.S. attorney general, was a high-ranking Justice Department official (shown as attorney general in 1992) during those years who helped the administration cover up the scandals, including by thwarting then Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh and by assisting President william barr o 1992George H. W. Bush in arranging 1992 pardons for six leading administration officials implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal.

The authors below tell the Google censorship story in more detail.

By J. Michael Springmann and Edward C. Corrigan

What? On April 19, 2019 (the date of the original Patriots' Day in New England), American tech giant Google disabled the accounts of Press TV, an Iranian news service, and its sister channel HispanTV, an outlet in Spain. Google denied their access to all its services, including its popular video streaming platform YouTube and its E-mail service Gmail. The google logo customcompany's move took place without prior notice or subsequent explanation.

The action's date is particularly significant to Americans. That day marked the beginning of the American Revolution. It saw the first armed engagement between British soldiers and colonial militiamen at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. Patriots' Day was intended to commemorate the colonists' fight to win freedom from British rule.

But, nearly 250 years later, it observes the loss of that freedom to invisible, uncontrollable organizations.

Google and Facebook, and other social media giants, have been accused of altering search algorithms to slant or even hide information that departs from the government or corporate agenda. Independent media sources on the right and on the left have complained that searched results are tainted and being secretly manipulated on a grand scale. Now the censorship is being imposed openly in the name of political correctness and social harmony.

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The historian and investigative journalist Anton Chaitkin spoke May 1 at the National Press Club on “Reviving Promethean America: Why Only Heroic Politics Will Work Now.”

The Anglo-American establishment reversed the strategy that made America powerful and humane, according to Chaitkin, shown below at right. Chaitkin’s new book-in-progress, American anton chaitkin headshotPrometheus: Progress, vs. Empire, from Franklin to Kennedy, shows how Americans challenged imperial economics and built modern times.

His theme: "Only a shocking fight for deeply principled solutions based on industrial and scientific progress could possibly pull us out of the current nightmare."

anton chaitkin prometheus stole fire from zeusThe public was invited to his dinner lecture before the club's Sarah McClendon speaker society, named in honor of the late White House correspondent and former president of the Washington, DC-based club.

The book's first chapters are available for free online here.

Below is a summary of the book and his talk, with the text of the talk here on his website. Illustrations are from the book, which draws from traditional civic stories to illustrate our current possibilities:

Prometheus defied Zeus, the god-image of those rulers who wish humanity to live in darkness, or to be slaughtered.

Prometheus gave to man heaven’s powerful secret, fire; for which he was tortured by Zeus.

"Prometheus ... found the other animals well off for everything, but man naked, unshod, unbedded, and unarmed ... Prometheus therefore ... stole from Hephaestus [god of fire and metalworking] and Athena [goddess of wisdom and civilization] the gift of skill in the arts, together with fire - for without fire it was impossible for anyone to possess or use this skill - and bestowed it on man…. Through this gift, man had the means of life.”

                                                                                               -- Plato, Protagoras

Prometheus once found a congenial home in America, Chaitkin argues, and may yet again.

Speaker Background

Before addressing Chaitkin's hopeful scenario on the next page of this column, we provide some of his background.

Chaitkin, who worked in politics with Lyndon LaRouche since 1966 until the latter's death, is the author of hundreds of scoops on economic and political history, in part via his work as the history editor for Executive Intelligence Review.

webster tarpley anton chaitkin george bush cropped coverChaitkin's father, a New York attorney, had fought in the courts to break up the Wall Street and London sponsorship of Adolf Hitler's dictatorship in Germany.

Many of the lawsuits were against international Nazi interests managed by Prescott Bush, the father and grandfather of the two Bush Republican presidents.

At the elite Wall Street investment bank Brown Brothers Harriman, Prescott Bush was junior partner to the railroad heir Harriman, a Yale Skull and Bones member who worked, as documented in the book and elsewhere, with his fellow member Bush on helping to fund Hitler's Nazi regime in Germany

Harriman, shown below with President Kennedy in a photo from the JFK Library in Massachusetts) later became New York's governor and a major kingmaker in State Department, Democratic Party and national affairs.

averell harriman jfk jfk libraryChaitkin's 1985 book on American political history, Treason in America: from Aaron Burr to Averell Harriman documented from archives of "blue-blood" families, among other sources, the takeover of U.S. policymaking by agents and allies of the British empire. The book is regarded as a classic of investigative history in its field, with 100,000 copies sold. It has been long out of print but has been reissued in a Kindle edition.

In 1992, Anton Chaitkin co-authored with Dr. Webster G. Tarpley George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography.

The book revealed and addressed major scandals in the Bush family that helped change the course of American history.

Some analysts suggest that the biography, although widely ignored by the mainstream media, helped thwart Bush's 1992 re-election effort because some opinion leaders (including supporters of Independent candidate Ross Perot) became better aware of the Bush family's past and were determined to seek an alternative to the incumbent Bush, who was running against Perot and Democrat Bill Clinton..

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