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Southern Rock Star Gregg Allman Dies at Age 69 — Rest in Peace — Videos

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Gregg Allman, icon of Southern Rock, dead at 69

Gregg Allman Dies At 69

CBS This Morning: Gregg Allman Today

Gregg Allman – Tuesday’s Gone (Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More For The Fans)

Gregg Allman – “Tuesday’s Gone” – Skynyrd Tribute Concert @ Fox Theatre, Atlanta 11.12.2014

Gregg Allman – I’m No Angel

Gregg Allman LIVE – “I’m No Angel” | Back to Macon, GA

Gregg Allman 01/21/2012 “These Days”

Gregg Allman (and Redd Foxx) on Late Night, November 18, 1987

The Allman Brothers Band – After The Crash

The Big Interview Sneak Peek: Gregg Allman

GREGG ALLMAN DEAD AT 69 — The Last Time We Saw Him in 2014 | TMZ

“Midnight Rider” with Vince Gill, Gregg Allman and Zac Brown

The Allman Brothers Band – Midnight Rider – 9/10/1973 – Grand Opera House (Official)

Allman Brothers Band – Blue Sky

Gregg Allman performing soulful version of Come And Go Blues

Gregg Allman – Come And Go Blues – 12/11/1981 – unknown (Official)

The Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man – 7/12/1986 – Starwood Amphitheatre (Official)

The Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man – 12/16/1981 – Capitol Theatre (Official)

The Allman Brothers Band – Whipping Post – 9/23/1970 – Fillmore East (Official)

The Allman Brothers Band – Full Concert – 09/23/70 – Fillmore East (OFFICIAL)

The Allman Brothers Band – Full Concert – 01/16/82 – University Of Florida Bandshell (OFFICIAL)

The Allman Brothers Band – Jessica (EPIC Version!!!); Wanee Festival 2014-04-11

The Allman Brothers Band – Melissa – 7/29/1981 – NBC Studios (Official)

“Melissa” featuring Jackson Browne and Gregg Allman

The Allman Brothers Band – Soulshine live

The Allman Brothers Band – Soulshine – 8/14/1994 – Woodstock 94 (Official)

Gregg Allman – Queen of Hearts – 07/03/13

The Gregg Allman Band 1982 – Queen of Hearts – Saenger Theatre New Orleans

Allman Brothers Band – A Decade of Hits 1969-1979

The Allman Brothers Band enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Gregg Allman on Regis & Kathie Lee, 1991

Gregg Allman Reminisces On His Allman Brothers Days – CONAN on TBS

Howard Stern interviews Gregg Allman (05/22/12)

Gregg Allman interview – PART 1 of 14 – Dickey Betts – Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 2 of 14 – Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 3 of 14 – Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 4 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 5 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 6 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 7 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 8 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 9 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 10 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 11 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 12 of 14 – Cher – Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 13 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman interview PART 14 of 14- Saenger Theater New Orleans 1982

Gregg Allman, Southern Rock Pioneer, Dies at 69

Gregg Allman Tour Bus Crash

REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

MAY 27, 2017 | 12:34PM PT

Gregg Allman, whose hard-jamming, bluesy sextet the Allman Brothers Band was the pioneering unit in the Southern rock explosion of the ‘70s, died Saturday due to currently unknown causes. He was 69.

As recently as April 24, reports surfaced claiming Allman was in hospice. His manager previously denied those reports to Variety, which Allman then substantiated in a Facebook post. However, he had suffered a number of ailments in recent years — including an irregular heartbeat, a respiratory infection, a hernia and a liver transplant — and cancelled many scheduled tour dates in recent months due to undisclosed health reasons.

For his work with the Allman Brothers, the legendary band he cofounded with his late brother Duane, and as a solo artist, Allman is one of the leading lights of Southern Rock. While the group’s greatest work was done before and shortly after Duane’s death in 1971, they stayed together, off and on, over 45 years and remain a singular influence on Southern rock and jam-band musicians. They were a top-drawing touring outfit until October 2014, when the group finally closed the book on their career with a series of dates at their longtime favorite venue, New York’s Beacon Theatre.

Allman’s solo career always played second to that of the band, but he enjoyed solo success with 1973’s “Laid Back” and 1987’s “I’m No Angel,” both of which were certified gold. In 2011 he released an unexpectedly strong album entitled “Low Country Blues” that was produced by T Bone Burnett (Alison Krauss/Robert Plant, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, “O Brother Where Art Thou?”), who, along with instrumentalists like pianist Dr. John and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, brought Allman back to his gutsy roots with stellar results.

With his older sibling, guitarist Duane Allman, the singer-keyboardist-guitarist-songwriter led one of the most popular concert attractions of the rock ballroom era; the group’s 1971 set “At Fillmore East,” recorded at Bill Graham’s New York hall, was a commercial breakthrough that showed off the band’s prodigious songcraft and instrumental strengths.

After Duane Allman’s death in a motorcycle accident weeks after the live album’s release, his younger brother led the band through four more stormy decades of playing and recording. The Allman Brothers Band’s latter-day history proved tumultuous, with other fatalities, disbandings, regroupings and very public battles with drugs and alcohol on the part of its surviving namesake.

Though Gregg Allman’s highly publicized addictions, his tabloid-ready marriage to pop vocalist Cher, and his equally public disputes with co-founding guitarist Dickey Betts came under harsh and sometimes mocking scrutiny over the years, Allman prevailed as the linchpin of an act that maintained popularity over four decades and opened the commercial door for such other Southern acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band.

As a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Allman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

He was born Gregory LeNoir Allman on Dec. 8, 1947, in Nashville; brother Duane was born 13 months earlier in the same hospital. In 1949, his father was shot to death by a man he offered a ride to in a bar. As their mother was studying accounting to support the family, the brothers were sent to a Tennessee military school at an early age.

The Allmans became attracted to music after seeing a 1960 concert by R&B singer Jackie Wilson in Daytona Beach, FL, where the family had moved the year before. Using money from a paper route (augmented by his mother), Gregg bought a guitar, and taught Duane his first chords. Both played guitar in the bands they founded after returning to the military academy in their teens.

Their pro bands the Escorts and the Allman Joys, which favored R&B, blues and rock covers, found work on the Florida club circuit in the mid-‘60s; Gregg began playing keyboards in the latter unit. The Allman Joys were playing without success in St. Louis when Bill McEuen, manager of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, met them and offered to set them up in Los Angeles.

Renamed Hour Glass, the L.A.-based group cut two unsuccessful pop-oriented albums for Liberty Records in 1967-68. Duane chafed at the direction being forced on the combo and fled for Alabama, where he became a prominent session guitarist at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL. Gregg remained in L.A. to fulfill obligations to Liberty, but was summoned to Jacksonville, FL, in 1969 by his brother, who envisioned a new blues-based band with two guitarist and two drummers, featuring members of another local combo, the 31st of February.

Calling themselves the Allman Brothers Band, the new unit – the Allmans, guitarist Betts, bassist Berry Oakley and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson – was signed by Otis Redding’s former manager Phil Walden for management and as an act on his Macon, GA-based label Capricorn Records. The group moved to Macon, which became its base for the duration.

Neither of the ABB’s first two albums was an enormous success: Its self-titled bow peaked at No. 188 in 1969, while sophomore set “Idlewild South” topped out at No. 38 in 1970. But they established Gregg Allman as a vocal, instrumental and songwriting power: His compositions included such future staples of the band’s live set as “Not My Cross to Bear,” “Dreams,” “Whipping Post” and “Midnight Rider.”

Though problems with hard drug abuse were already surfacing in the band, the Allmans became a huge concert attraction in the South; the enthusiastic sponsorship of promoter Graham led to high-profile gigs at New York’s Filllmore East (where the band attained a rabid following) and San Francisco’s Fillmore.

The Allmans made their commercial mark with “At Fillmore East”: The expansive, Tom Dowd-produced two-record set, recorded during two nights at the venue, shot to No.13 ultimately sold more than 1 million copies and became one of the defining concert recordings of its day. However, Duane Allman’s tragic death at 24 on a Macon street on Oct. 29, 1971, cast a shadow over its success.

The band completed a follow-up two-LP set, “Eat a Peach,” as a quintet, with live numbers featuring Duane filling out the contents. The 1972 package rose to No. 4 nationally and went platinum, but disaster again struck: In a mishap eerily similar to Duane Allman’s fatal crash, hard-drinking bassist Oakley died after driving his bike into the side of a truck that November.

Shaken by the deaths of his brother and Oakley and increasingly incapacitated by heroin, cocaine and alcohol, Gregg Allman ceded much of the band’s songwriting and front man duties to Betts; as he noted in “My Cross to Bear,” his 2012 memoir, “Up until then, we’d never really had a front man; Dickey took it upon himself to create that role.”

The ABB released its only No. 1 album, “Brothers and Sisters,” in 1973; the record was powered to the top by the Betts-penned No. 2 single “Ramblin’ Man,” the group’s only top-10 45.

Allman retreated from the group to cut his solo debut “Laid Back” in 1973; rising to No. 13, it would be his most popular work away from the band for nearly 40 years, and it spawned his only top-20 solo single, a down-tempo remake of “Midnight Rider.”

On the heels of the lugubrious but popular “Win, Lose or Draw” (No. 5, 1975), the group set out on its biggest, and costliest, tour to date. The ABB flew to its dates on a lavishly appointed private jet previously used by the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin; in his book, Allman recalls, “The first time we walked onto the plane, ‘Welcome Allman Brothers’ was spelled out in cocaine on the bar.”

The ABB returned from the 41-date tour with a mere $100,000 in hand, owing to over-the-top spending. This financial catastrophe was compounded by the indictment of the group’s security man (and Allman’s drug bag man) Scooter Herring on cocaine distribution charges; Allman testified against Herring before a grand jury and at his trial, which netted a 75-year prison sentence.

Addicted to heroin and embroiled in inter-band conflict with Betts, Allman began spending more time in Los Angeles with Cher, whom he had wed in June 1975. The incongruous couple was followed avidly by gossip columnists. In the wake of an unsuccessful 1977 solo album, “Playin’ Up a Storm” (No. 42), Allman and Cher released their only duo album, “Two the Hard Way”; embarrassingly credited to “Allman and Woman,” the set failed to chart, and its accompanying tour witnessed scuffles between hostile camps of fans in the audiences. Allman and Cher divorced in 1978.

Membership in the ABB rotated repeatedly for the remainder of the group’s career, which saw ever-diminishing contributions from writer Allman. He authored just one song for the group’s final Capricorn album, “Enlightened Rogues” (No. 27, 1979); the financially unstable imprint crashed within a year of its release. Allman was also a minor contributor to a pair of slick, poorly received albums for Arista Records in 1980-81.

During the band’s protracted hiatus of the ‘80s, Allman issued a pair of solo sets; the more popular of the two, 1987’s “I’m No Angel” (No. 30, 1987), spawned the titular radio hit.

Encouraged by airplay on the burgeoning “classic rock” radio format, the ABB reconvened for a 1989 tour. In 1990, the group recorded “Seven Turns” (No. 53) with “Fillmore East” producer Tom Dowd; the group also began multi-night residencies at New York’s Beacon Theatre, which became an annual tradition. They issued four commercially unrewarding albums – two studio sets and two concert releases – between 1991 and 1995.

Following a drunken appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York in January 1995, onetime junkie Allman, after 11 stints in rehab, finally stopped drinking on his own, under the 24-hour watch of two nurses.

Following the exit of longtime guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody and the recruitment of Butch Trucks’ young nephew Derek Trucks on guitar, the ABB cut the live “Peakin’ at the Beacon” in 2000. Tension within the band had reached the breaking point, and, following a severely worded fax to Betts from the other members and subsequent legal arbitration, the Allman Brothers Band’s other founding guitarist made his exit.

The front line of Allman, Haynes and Derek Trucks and the group’s founding drummers were heard on the Allman Brothers Band’s studio collection “Hittin’ the Note” (No. 37, 2003) and the live “One Way Out” (No. 190, 2004). After 45 years in business, the band was formally dissolved after an October 2014 show at the Beacon.

Allman’s old habits caught up with him in the ‘00s. Diagnosed with hepatitis C – a disease common to intravenous drug users – in 2007, he learned that he was suffering from liver cancer in 2008. He underwent successful liver transplant surgery at the Mayo Clinic in 2010.

Before his surgery, Allman entered the studio to record his first solo album in 13 years. “Low Country Blues,” a striking and powerful recital of old blues songs, augmented by one Allman-Haynes original and produced by T Bone Burnett (Alison Krauss/Robert Plant, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, “O Brother Where Art Thou?”), garnered the best reviews of his career, collected a Grammy Award nomination and became his highest-charting solo release, reaching No. 5 in early 2011.

However, health problems and catastrophe continued to dog him. He cut short a 2011 European tour because of respiratory issues, which ultimately mandated lung surgery. He faced a drug relapse spurred by painkillers, and did a stint in rehab. In 2014, a film based on his 2012 memoir, “Midnight Rider,” ceased production after a camera assistant on director Randall Miller’s feature was killed by a freight train on the first day of shooting.

Married and divorced six times, Allman is survived by three sons and two daughters, all by different mothers. Four of the children are professional musicians.

http://variety.com/2017/music/people-news/gregg-allman-dies-dead-69-southern-rock-1202446640/

Gregg Allman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gregg Allman
Gregg Allman (5880514910).jpg

Allman performing in 2011
Born Gregory LeNoir Allman
December 8, 1947
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Died May 27, 2017 (aged 69)
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
Cause of death Complications from liver cancer
Occupation
  • Singer-songwriter
  • musician
Years active 1960–2017
Spouse(s) Shelley Jefts (m. 1971; div. 1972)
Janice Mulkey (m. 1973; div. 1974)
Cher (m. 1975; div. 1979)
Julie Bindas (m. 1979; div. 1984)
Danielle Galliano (m. 1989; div. 1994)
Stacey Fountain (m. 2001; div. 2008)
Children 5; including Devon and Elijah Blue
Musical career
Genres
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
  • guitar
Labels
Associated acts
Website greggallman.com

Gregory LeNoir “Gregg” Allman (December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017) was an American musician, singer and songwriter.

He is best known for performing in the Allman Brothers Band. He was born and spent much of his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee, before relocating to Daytona Beach, Florida. He and his brother, Duane Allman, developed an interest in music in their teens, and began performing in the Allman Joys in the mid-1960s. In 1967, they relocated to Los Angeles and were renamed the Hour Glass, releasing two albums for Liberty Records. In 1969, he and Duane regrouped to form the Allman Brothers Band, which settled in Macon, Georgia.

The Allman Brothers Band began to reach mainstream success by the early 1970s, with their live album At Fillmore East representing a commercial and artistic breakthrough. Shortly thereafter, Duane was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971. The following year, the band’s bassist, Berry Oakley was also killed in a motorcycle accident very close to the location of Duane’s wreck. Their 1973 album Brothers and Sisters became their biggest hit, and Allman pursued a solo career afterward, releasing his debut album, Laid Back the same year. Internal turmoil took over the group, leading to a 1975 breakup. Allman was married to pop star Cher for the rest of the decade, while he continued his solo career with the Gregg Allman Band. After a brief Allman Brothers reunion and a decade of little activity, he reached an unexpected peak with the hit single “I’m No Angel” in 1987. After two more solo albums, the Allman Brothers reformed for a third and final time in 1989, and continued performing until 2014. He released his most recent solo album, Low Country Blues, in 2011, and his next, Southern Blood, is set to be released in 2017.

For his work in music, Allman was referred to as a Southern rock pioneer[1] and received numerous awards, including several Grammys; he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. His distinctive voice placed him in 70th place in the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.[2] Allman released an autobiography, My Cross to Bear, in 2012.

Early life

Allman and his brother Duane attended Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee in their childhood.

Allman was born Gregory LeNoir Allman at St. Thomas Hospital on December 8, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee, to Willis Turner Allman and Geraldine Robbins Allman.[3] The couple had met during World War II in Raleigh, North Carolina, when Allman was on leave from the U.S. Army, and were later married. They moved to Vanleer, Tennessee, in 1945.[citation needed] Their first child, Duane Allman, was born in Nashville in 1946.

In 1949, Willis Allman, having been recently promoted to captain, offered a hitchhiker a ride home and was subsequently shot and killed.[4]Geraldine moved to Nashville with her two sons, and she never remarried.[5] Lacking money to support her children, she enrolled in college to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)—state laws at the time, according to her son, required students to live on-campus.[6] As a result, Gregg and his older brother were sent to Castle Heights Military Academy in nearby Lebanon.[3] A young Gregg interpreted these actions as evidence of his mother’s dislike for him, though he later came to understand the reality: “She was actually sacrificing everything she possibly could—she was working around the clock, getting by just by a hair, so as to not send us to an orphanage, which would have been a living hell.”[7]

While his brother adapted to his surroundings with a defiant attitude, Allman felt largely depressed at the school. With little to do, he studied often and developed an interest in medicine—had he not gone into music, he hoped to become a dentist.[8] He was rarely hazed at Castle Heights as his brother protected him, but often suffered beatings from instructors when he received poor grades.[9] The brothers returned to Nashville upon their mother’s graduation. Growing up, he continually fought with Duane, though he knew that he loved him and that it was typical of brothers. Duane was a mischievous older child, who constantly played pranks on his younger sibling.[10] The family moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1959.[6] Gregg tended to look forward to his summer breaks, where he spent time with his uncles in Nashville, who he came to view in a fatherly regard.[11] Allman would later recall two separate events in his life that led to his interest in music. In 1960, the two brothers attended a concert in Nashville with Jackie Wilson headlining alongside Otis Redding, B.B. King, and Patti LaBelle.[8] Allman was also exposed to music through Jimmy Banes, a mentally challenged neighbor of his grandmother in Nashville. Banes introduced Allman to the guitar and the two began spending time on his porch each day as he played music.[12]

Gregg worked as a paperboy to afford a Silvertone guitar, which he purchased at a Sears when he saved up enough funds.[6] He and his brother often fought to play the instrument, though there was “no question that music brought” the two together.[13] In Daytona, they joined a YMCA group called the Y Teens, their first experience performing music with others.[14] He and Duane returned to Castle Heights in their teen years, where they formed a band, the Misfits.[15] Despite this, he still felt “lonesome and out of place,” and quit the academy.[16] He returned to Daytona Beach and pursued music further, and the duo formed another band, the Shufflers, in 1963.[14] He attended high school at Seabreeze High School, where he graduated in 1965.[17]However, he grew undisciplined in his studies as his interests diverged: “Between the women and the music, school wasn’t a priority anymore.”[18]

Music career

Early bands (1960–1968)

“We would rehearse every day in the club, go have lunch, rehearse some more, go home and take a shower, then go to the gig. Sometimes we would rehearse after we got home from the gig too, just get out the acoustics and play. The next day, we’d go have breakfast, go rehearse, and do it all over again. We rehearsed constantly.”

—Allman on his musical evolution[19]

The two Allman brothers began meeting various musicians in the Daytona Beach area. They met a man named Floyd Miles, and they began to jam with his band, the Houserockers. “I would just sit there and study Floyd […] I studied how he phrased his songs, how he got the words out, and how the other guys sang along with him,” he would later recall.[20] They later formed their first “real” band, the Escorts, which performed a mix of top 40 and rhythm and blues music at clubs around town.[21] Duane, who took the lead vocal role on early demos, encouraged his younger brother to sing instead.[22] He and Duane often spent all of their money on records as educational material, as they attempted to learn songs from them. The group performed constantly as music became their entire focus; Allman missed his high school graduation because he was performing that evening.[23] In his autobiography, Allman recalls listening to Nashville R&B station WLAC at night and discovering artists such as Muddy Waters, which later became central to his musical evolution.[19] He narrowly missed being drafted into the Vietnam War by intentionally shooting himself in the foot.[24]

The Escorts evolved into the Allman Joys, the brothers’ first successful band. After a successful summer run locally, they hit the road in fall 1965 for a series of performances throughout the Southeast; their first show outside of Daytona was at the Stork Club in Mobile, Alabama—where they were booked for 22 weeks straight.[25] Afterwards, they were booked at the Sahara Club in nearby Pensacola, Florida, for several weeks.[26] Allman later regarded Pensacola as “a real turning point in my life,” as it was where he learned how to capture audiences and about stage presence.[27] He also received his first Vox keyboard there, and learned how to play it over the ensuing tour.[28] By the following summer, they were able to book time at a studio in Nashville, where they recorded several songs, aided by a plethora of drugs. These recordings were later released as Early Allman in 1973, to Allman’s dismay.[29] He soon grew tired of performing covers and began writing original compositions.[30] They settled in St. Louis for a time, where in the spring of 1967 they began performing alongside Johnny Sandlin and Paul Hornsby, among others, under various names. They considered disbanding, but Bill McEuen, manager of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, convinced the band to relocate to Los Angeles, outright giving them the funds to do so.[31]

He arranged a recording contract with Liberty Records in June 1967,[32] and they began to record an album under the new name the Hour Glass, suggested by their producer, Dallas Smith. Recording was a difficult experience; “the music had no life to it—it was poppy, preprogrammed shit,” Allman felt.[33] Though they considered themselves sellouts, they needed money to live.[33] At concerts, they declined to play anything off their debut album, released that October, instead opting to play the blues.[34] Such gigs were sparse, however, as Liberty only allowed one performance per month.[35] After some personnel changes, they recorded their second album, Power of Love, released in March 1968. It contained more original songs by Allman, though they still felt constricted by its process. They embarked on a small tour, and recorded some new demos at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.[36] Liberty disliked the recordings, and the band broke up when Duane explicitly told off executives. They threatened to freeze the band, so they would be unable to record for any other label for seven years.[37]Allman stayed behind to appease the label, giving them the rights to a solo album. The rest of the band mocked Allman, viewing him as too scared to leave and return to the South.[37]

Meanwhile, Duane Allman had returned to Florida where he met Butch Trucks, a drummer in the band the 31st of February. In October 1968, the 31st of February, aided by Gregg and Duane Allman, recorded several songs.[38] Allman returned to Los Angeles to fulfill his deal with Liberty, writing more original songs on the Hammond organ at the studio.[39] Duane began doing session work at Fame in Muscle Shoals during this time, where he began putting together a new band. He phoned his brother with the proposition of joining the new band—which would have two guitarists and two drummers. With his deal at Liberty fulfilled, he drove to Jacksonville, Florida, in March 1969 to jam with the new band. Allman at first thought two drummers would be a tortuous experience, but found himself pleasantly surprised by the successful jam.[40] He called the birth of the group “one of the finer days in my life […] I was starting to feel like I belonged to something again.”[41]

The Allman Brothers Band and mainstream success

Formation and touring (1969–1971)

The Allman Brothers Band moved to Macon, Georgia,[42] and forged a strong brotherhood, spending countless hours rehearsing, consuming psychedelic drugs, and hanging out in Rose Hill Cemetery, where they would write songs—”I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my way with a lady or two down there,” said Allman.[43][44] The group remade old blues numbers like “Trouble No More” and “One Way Out“, in addition to improvised jams such as “Mountain Jam“.[45] Gregg, who had struggled to write in the past, became the band’s sole songwriter, composing songs such as “Whipping Post” and “Black-Hearted Woman.”[46] The group’s self-titled debut album was released in November 1969 through Atco and Capricorn Records,[47] but received a poor commercial response, selling less than 35,000 copies upon initial release.[48] The band played continuously in 1970, performing over 300 dates on the road,[49][50] which contributed to a larger following.[51] Oakley’s wife rented a large Victorian home in Macon and the band moved into what they dubbed “the Big House” in March 1970.[52] Their second record, Idlewild South (named after a farmhouse on a lake outside of Macon they rented),[53] was issued by Atco and Capricorn Records in September 1970, less than a year after their debut.[53]

Elder brother Duane Allman, who was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971

Their fortunes began to change over the course of 1971, where the band’s average earnings doubled.[54] “We realized that the audience was a big part of what we did, which couldn’t be duplicated in a studio. A lightbulb finally went off; we needed to make a live album,” said Allman.[55] At Fillmore East, recorded at the Fillmore East in New York, was released in July 1971 by Capricorn.[56] While previous albums by the band had taken months to hit the charts (often near the bottom of the top 200), the record started to climb the charts after a matter of days.[57] At Fillmore East peaked at number thirteen on Billboard‘s Top Pop Albums chart, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America that October, becoming their commercial and artistic breakthrough.[57] Although suddenly very wealthy and successful, much of the band and its entourage now struggled with addiction to numerous drugs; they all agreed to quit heroin, but cocaine remained a problem.[58] His last conversation with his brother was an argument over the substance, in which Gregg lied. In his autobiography, Allman wrote: “I have thought of that lie every day of my life […] told him that lie, and he told me that he was sorry and that he loved me.”[59]

Shortly after At Fillmore East was certified gold in domestic sales, Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon.[60] At his funeral the next day, Gregg performed “Melissa”, which was his brother’s favorite song.[61] After the service, he confided in his bandmates that they should continue. He left for Jamaica to get away from Macon, and was in grief for the following few weeks.[62] “I tried to play and I tried to sing, but I didn’t do too much writing. In the days and weeks that followed, […] I wondered if I’d ever find the passion, the energy, the love of making music,” he remembered.[62] As the band took some time apart to process their loss, At Fillmore East became a major success in the U.S. “What we had been trying to do for all those years finally happened, and he was gone.”[63] Allman later expanded upon his brother’s passing in his autobiography:

“When I got over being angry, I prayed to him to forgive me, and I realized that my brother had a blast. […] Not that I got over it—I still ain’t gotten over it. I don’t know what getting over it means, really. I don’t stand around crying anymore, but I think about him every day of my life. […] Maybe a lot of learning how to grieve was that I had to grow up a little bit and realize that death is part of life. Now I can talk to my brother in the morning, and he answers me at night. I’ve opened myself to his death and accepted it, and I think that’s the grieving process at work.”[64]

Mainstream success and fame (1972–1976)

Allman performing with the Allman Brothers in 1975

After Duane’s death, the band held a meeting on their future; it was clear all wanted to continue, and after a short period, the band returned to the road.[65] They completed their third studio album, Eat a Peach, that winter, which raised each member’s spirits: “The music brought life back to us all, and it was simultaneously realized by every one of us. We found strength, vitality, newness, reason, and belonging as we worked on finishing Eat a Peach“, said Allman.[66] Eat a Peach was released the following February, and it became the band’s second hit album, shipping gold and peaking at number four on Billboard‘s Top 200 Pop Albums chart.[67] “We’d been through hell, but somehow we were rolling bigger than ever,” Allman recalled.[68] Betts had to convince the band members to tour, since all other members were reluctant.[69] The Allman Brothers Band played 90 shows in 1972 in support of the record. “We were playing for him and that was the way to be closest to him,” said Trucks.[69] The band purchased 432 acres of land in Juliette, Georgia for $160,000 and nicknamed it “the Farm”; it soon became a group hangout.[70] Oakley, however, was visibly suffering from the death of his friend,[71] and he too was killed in a motorcycle crash in November 1972.[72] “Upset as I was, I kind of breathed a sigh of relief, because Berry’s pain was finally over,” Allman said.[68]

The band unanimously decided to carry on, and enlisted Lamar Williams on bass and Chuck Leavell on piano. The band began recording Brothers and Sisters, their follow-up album, and Betts became the group’s de facto leader during the recording process.[73] Meanwhile, after some internal disagreements, Allman began recording a solo album, which he titled Laid Back. The sessions for both albums often overlapped and its creation caused tension within the rest of the band.[74] Both albums were released in the autumn of 1973, with Brothers and Sisters cemented the Allman Brothers’ place among the biggest rock bands of the 1970s. “Everything that we’d done before—the touring, the recording—culminated in that one album,” Allman recalled.[75]Ramblin’ Man“, Betts’ country-infused number, received interest from radio stations immediately, and it rose to number two on the Billboard Hot 100.[67] The Allman Brothers Band returned to touring, playing larger venues, receiving more profit and dealing with less friendship, miscommunication and spiraling drug problems.[67][76] This culminated in a backstage brawl when the band played with the Grateful Dead at Washington‘s RFK Stadium in June 1973, which resulted in the firing of three of the band’s longtime roadies.[77] The band played arenas and stadiums almost solely as their drug use escalated. In 1974, the band was regularly making $100,000 per show, and was renting the Starship, a customized Boeing 720B used by Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.[78] “When [we] got that goddamn plane, it was the beginning of the end,” said Allman.[79]

In between tours, Allman embarked on another tour to promote Laid Back. He brought along the musicians who helped record the album as his band, and hired a full string orchestra to accompany the group.[74] A live album of material from the tour was released as The Gregg Allman Tour later that year, to help recoup costs for the tour.[80] It went up against Betts’ first solo record, Highway Call, prompting some to dub their relationship a rivalry. Their relationships became increasingly frustrated, amplified by heavy drug and alcohol abuse.[81] In January 1975, Allman began a relationship with pop star Cher—which made him more “famous for being famous than for his music,” according to biographer Alan Paul.[82] The sessions that produced 1975’s Win, Lose or Draw, the last album by the original Allman Brothers Band, were disjointed and inconsistent. Allman was spending more time in Los Angeles with Cher.[83] Their time off from one another the previous fall “only exaggerated the problems between our personalities. With each day there was more and more space between us; the Brotherhood was fraying, and there wasn’t a damn thing any of us could do to stop it.”[84]

Upon its release, it was considered subpar and sold less than its predecessor; the band later remarked that they were “embarrassed” about the album.[85] From August 1975 to May 1976, the Allman Brothers Band played 41 shows to some of the biggest crowds of their career.[86] Gradually, the members of the band grew apart during these tours, with sound checks and rehearsals “[becoming] a thing of the past.”[86] Allman later pointed to a benefit for presidential candidate Jimmy Carter as the only real “high point” in an otherwise “rough, rough tour.” The shows were considered lackluster and the members were excessive in their drug use.[87][88] The “breaking point” came when Allman testified in the trial of security man Scooter Herring.[67]Bandmates considered him a “snitch,” and he received death threats, leading to law-enforcement protection.[89] Herring was convicted on five counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and received a 75-year prison sentence, which were later overturned as he received a lesser sentence.[89] For his part, Allman always maintained that Herring had told him to take the deal and he would take the fall for it, but nevertheless, the band refused to communicate with him.[89] As a result, the band finally broke up; Leavell, Williams, and Jaimoe continued playing together in Sea Level, Betts formed Great Southern, and Allman founded the Gregg Allman Band.[90]

Mid-career and struggles

Marriages, breakups, and music (1977–1981)

Allman married Cher in June 1975, and the two lived in Hollywood during their years together as tabloid favorites.[4] Their marriage produced one son, Elijah Blue Allman, who was born in July 1976.[91] He recorded his second solo album, Playin’ Up a Storm, with the Gregg Allman Band, and it was released in May 1977. He also worked on an collaborative album with Cher titled Two the Hard Way, which, upon its release, was a massive failure.[73] The couple went to Europe to tour in support of both albums,[92] though the crowd reception was mixed.[93] With a combination of Allman Brothers fans and Cher fans, fights often broke out in venues, which led Cher to cancel the tour.[94] Turmoil began to overwhelm their relationship, and the two divorced in 1978.[95] Allman returned to Daytona Beach to stay with his mother, spending the majority of his time partying, chasing women, and touring with the Nighthawks, a blues band.[96]In a 2011 interview with WBUR’s On Point, Allman told host Tom Ashbrook that he was also uncomfortable with his wife’s celebrity lifestyle.

The Allman Brothers Band reunited in 1978, hiring two new members: guitarist Dan Toler and bassist David Goldflies.[90] Betts had approached Allman during his time in Daytona regarding a reunion.[97] Allman remembered that each member had their own reasons for rejoining, though he surmised it was a combination of displeasure with how things ended, missing each other, and a need for money.[98] The band’s reunion album, Enlightened Rogues, was released in February 1979 and was a mild commercial success.[99][100] Betts’ lawyer, Steve Massarsky, began managing the group,[100] and led the band to sign with Arista, who pushed the band to “modernize” their sound.[101] Their first Arista effort, Reach for the Sky (1980), was produced by Nashville songwriters Mike Lawler and Johnny Cobb.[101] Drugs remained a problem with the band, particularly among Betts and Allman.[102] The band again grew apart, replacing Jaimoe with Toler’s brother Frankie.[103] “One of the real blights on the history of the Allman Brothers Band was that Jaimoe, this gentle man, was fired from this organization,” said Allman later.[104]Not long after, “the band changed managers, hiring the promoter John Scher after Massarsky eased himself out, reportedly saying, ‘It’s a million-dollar headache and a quarter-million-dollar job.'”[105]

For their second and final album with Arista, Brothers of the Road, they collaborated with a “name producer” (John Ryan, of Styx and the Doobie Brothers), who pushed the band even harder to change their sound.[106]Straight from the Heart” was the album’s single, which became a minor hit but heralded the group’s last appearance on the top 40 charts.[107] The band, considering their post-reunion albums “embarrassing,” subsequently broke up in 1982 after clashing with Clive Davis, who rejected every producer the band suggested for a possible third album, including Tom Dowd and Johnny Sandlin.[108] “We broke up in ’82 because we decided we better just back out or we would ruin what was left of the band’s image,” said Betts.[108] The band’s final performance came on Saturday Night Live in January 1982, where they performed “Southbound” and “Leavin’.”[109] “It was like a whole different band made those records […] In truth, though, I was just too drunk most of the time to care one way or the other,” Allman would recall.[110]

Downtime, a surprise hit, and another reformation (1982–1990)

“No two ways about it, the ’80s were rough. […] It was seven years of going, “What is it that I do?” Being self-employed your whole life, that becomes a certain rock, a reinforcement. When that’s gone, not only are you bored stiff, but you just want to cry—”What do I do? I know I used to serve a purpose.”[111]

—Allman reflecting on his career in the 1980s

Allman spent much of the 1980s adrift and living in Sarasota, Florida with friends Marcia and Chuck Boyd.[112] His alcohol abuse was at one of its worst points, with Allman consuming “a minimum of a fifth of vodka a day.”[113] He felt the local police pursued him heavily, due to his tendency to get inebriated and “go jam anywhere.”[114] He was arrested and charged with a DUI; as a result, he spent five days in jail and was charged $1,000.[111] While he did not consider himself “washed up,” he noted in his autobiography that “there’s that fear of everybody forgetting about you.”[111] Southern rock faded from popular culture and electronic music formed much of the pop music of the decade. “There was hardly anybody playing live music, and those who did were doing it for not much money, in front of some die-hard old hippies in real small clubs,” he later recalled.[115] Nevertheless, he reformed the Gregg Allman Band and toured nationwide.[116] He often went to Telstar Studios to rehearse and write new songs. At one point, he attempted to reconnect with his children, though, according to him, “it just wasn’t a good situation.”[117]

By 1986, he felt tired of having little funds, and teamed up with former bandmate Betts for several performances together. It led to two Allman Brothers reunion performances that summer. Eventually, tension would arise and they would spend time apart again.[118] After recording several demos in Los Angeles, Allman was offered a recording contract by Epic Records.[119] He recorded his third solo release, I’m No Angel, at Criteria in Miami. Released in 1987, the title track became a surprise hit on radio. Allman released another solo album the following year, Just Before the Bullets Fly, though it did not sell as well as its predecessor. His alcohol abuse continued in the late 1980s, as he moved to Los Angeles and lived at the Riot House.[120] He married Danielle Galliano in a midlife crisis wherein he felt he would one day be too “old and ugly” to get married.[120] The marriage began with Allman overdosing at the Riot House—”so our marriage started off with a bang,” he said.[121] He dabbled in acting for the first time, taking a small part in the film Rush Week (1989),[122] and he sang the opening track to the film Black Rain (1989).[120]

The Allman Brothers Band celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 1989, and the band reunited for a summer tour, with Jaimoe once again on drums.[123] In addition, they featured guitarist Warren Haynes and pianist Johnny Neel, both from the Dickey Betts Band, and bassist Allen Woody, who was hired after open auditions held at Trucks’s Florida studio.[123] The classic rock radio format had given the band’s catalog songs new relevance, as did a multi-CD retrospective box set, Dreams.[124] Epic, who had worked with Allman on his solo career, signed the band. Danny Goldberg became the band’s manager; he had previously worked with acts such as Led Zeppelin and Bonnie Raitt.[125] The group were initially reluctant to tour, but found they performed solidly; in addition, former roadies such as “Red Dog” returned.[126] The band returned to the studio with longtime producer Tom Dowd for 1990’s Seven Turns, which was considered a return to form.[67][127]Good Clean Fun” and “Seven Turns” each became big hits on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The addition of Haynes and Woody had “reenergized” the ensemble.[128] Neel left the group in 1990, and the band added percussionist Marc Quiñones, formerly of Spyro Gyra, the following year.[129]

Reforming the band and breaking addictions (1991–2000)

The band began touring heavily,[130] which helped build a new fan base: “We had to build a fan base all over again, but as word of mouth spread about how good the music was, more and more people took notice. It felt great, man, and that really helped the music,” Allman recalled.[131] Their next studio effort, Shades of Two Worlds (1992), produced the crowd favorite “Nobody Knows”.[132] Allman took his second and final acting role in Rush (1991), a crime drama. Allman greatly enjoyed the experience: “It was a different facet of the entertainment industry, and I wanted to see how those people worked together.”[133] The band grew contentious over a 1993 tour, in which Betts was arrested when he shoved two police officers.[130]Despite the growing tension, Haynes remained a member and Betts returned.[134] Their third post-reunion record, Where It All Begins (1994), was recorded entirely live.[134] The band continued to tour with greater frequency, attracting younger generations with their headlining of the H.O.R.D.E. Festival.[107][135] Allman’s daughter, Island, came to live with him in Los Angeles, and despite early struggles, they eventually grew very close.[136] “Island is the love of my life, she really is,” he would later write.[97]

For much of the 1990s, Allman lived in Marin County, California, spending his free time with close friends and riding his motorcycle.[137] The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 1995; Allman was severely inebriated and could not make it through his acceptance speech.[138] Seeing the ceremony broadcast on television later, Allman was mortified, providing a catalyst for his final, successful attempt to quit alcohol and substance abuse. He hired two in-home nurses that switched twelve-hour shifts to help him through the process.[139]He was immensely happy to finally quit alcohol, writing later in his autobiography: “Did I get any positive anything out of all that? And you’ve got to admit to yourself, no, I didn’t. You can see what happened and that by the grace of God, you finally quit before it killed you.”[139] Allman recorded a fifth solo album, Searching for Simplicity, which was quietly released on 550 Music.[73]Despite positive developments in his personal life, things began declining among the band members. During their 1996 run at the Beacon, turmoil came to a breaking point between Allman and Betts, nearly causing a cancellation of a show and causing another band breakup.[140] Haynes and Woody left to focus on Gov’t Mule, feeling as though a break was imminent with the Allman Brothers Band.[141][142]

The group recruited Oteil Burbridge of the Aquarium Rescue Unit to replace Woody on bass, and Jack Pearson on guitar.[143] Concerns arose over the increasing loudness of Allman Brothers shows, which were largely centered on Betts.[142] Pearson, struggling with tinnitus, left as a result following the 1999 Beacon run.[144] Trucks phoned his nephew, Derek Trucks, to join the band for their thirtieth anniversary tour.[145] The Beacon run in 2000, captured on Peakin’ at the Beacon, was ironically considered among the band’s worst performances; an eight-show spring tour led to even more strained relations in the group.[146] “It had ceased to be a band—everything had to be based around what Dickey was playing,” said Allman.[147] Anger boiled over within the group towards Betts, which led to all original members sending him a letter, informing him of their intentions to tour without him for the summer.[148] All involved contend that the break was temporary, but Betts responded by hiring a lawyer and suing the group, which led to a permanent divorce.[147] That August, Woody was found dead in a hotel room in New York,[149] which hit Allman particularly hard.[150] In 2001, Haynes rejoined the band for their Beacon run,[149] setting the stage for over a decade of stability within the group.

Later years

Touring and health problems (2000–2014)

Allman during the Allman Brothers Band’s annual residency at the Beacon Theater in New York in 2009

Allman moved to Savannah, Georgia, in 2000, purchasing five acres on the Belfast River.[151] The last incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band was well-regarded among fans and the general public, and remained stable and productive.[67][107] The band released their final studio recording, Hittin’ the Note (2003), to critical acclaim.[107] Allman co-wrote many songs on the record with Haynes, and he regarded it as his favorite album by the group since their earliest days. The band continued to tour throughout the 2000s, remaining a top touring act, regularly attracting more than 20,000 fans.[67]The decade closed with a successful run at the Beacon Theater, in celebration of the band’s fortieth anniversary.[152] “That [2009 run] was the most fun I’ve ever had in that building,” said Allman, and it was universally regarded within the band as a career highlight.[153][154][107] The run featured numerous special guests, including Eric Clapton, whom all in the band regarded as the most “special” guest, due to his association with Duane.[155]

He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2007—which he attributed to a dirty tattoo needle.[156] By the next year, they had discovered three tumors within his liver, and he was recommended to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville by a Savannah doctor for a liver transplant.[157] He went on a waiting list and after five months, he underwent a successful liver transplant in 2010.[158] He was reluctant to pursue a new solo album after the death of longtime producer Tom Dowd in 2002, but eventually recorded with producer T-Bone Burnett on his seventh release, Low Country Blues.[159] He was initially reluctant to Burnett’s suggestion to not bring his normal band, but he eventually became very positive about the recording, later calling it “a true highlight of my career.”[160] It went unreleased during his health problems, and during that time, it became something of a confidence booster: “When things got real bad, real painful, I would just think about this record and it was kind of a life support system.”[159] Upon its release in January 2011, it represented Allman’s highest ever chart peak in the United States, debuting at number five.[161]

He promoted the album heavily in Europe, until he had to cancel the rest of the trip due to an upper respiratory condition.[162] This infection led to a lung surgery later that year.[151] He went to rehab in 2012 for addiction following his medical treatments.[163] That year, Allman released his memoir, My Cross to Bear, which was thirty years in the making.[164] It eventually got optioned to be turned into a feature film—titled Midnight Rider—that was eventually canceled after a train accident on set caused the death of a member of the crew. In 2014, a tribute concert was held celebrating Allman’s career; it was later released as All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs & Voice Of Gregg Allman.[165] The same year, the Allman Brothers Band performed their final concerts, as Haynes and Derek Trucks desired to depart the group.[166][167]

Recent events (2015–2017)

After the dissolution of the Allman Brothers, Allman kept busy performing music with his band, releasing the live album Gregg Allman Live: Back to Macon, GA in 2015.[168] His health problems remained; he had atrial fibrillation. As a result, he attempted to grow healthier, switching to a gluten-free vegan diet.[165] He attempted to keep a light schedule at the advice of doctors, who warned that too many performances might amplify his conditions. Allman’s mother, Geraldine, died in July 2015 at the age of 98.[168] On April 6, 2016, Allman’s tour bus carrying his crew and horns crashed into a hillside in Jackson County, West Virginia. Allman was not among those injured.[169] One month later, he received an honorary doctorate from Mercer University in Macon, presented by former President Jimmy Carter.[170]

Allman recorded his last album, Southern Blood, with producer Don Was at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The album was recorded with his then-current backing band.[171] It is set for a January 2017 release.[172]

Personal life

Allman’s brother Duane died in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia, in October 1971. “Duane was the father of the band,” Gregg Allman later told Guitar Player magazine. “Somehow he had this real magic about him that would lock us all in, and we’d take off.”

While enjoying great commercial success, Allman was in a downward spiral in his personal life. He became a heroin addict and was arrested on drug charges in 1976. To avoid jail, Allman agreed to testify against Scooter Herring, his road manager. Herring was later found guilty on narcotics distribution charges and sentenced to 75 years in prison.[173] Allman’s testimony was seen as a betrayal by his bandmates, who swore that they would never work with him again.

In 2007, Allman was diagnosed with hepatitis C. The condition “was laying dormant for awhile and just kind of crept up on me. I was worn out. I had to sleep 10 or 11 hours a day to two or three [hours],” he explained to Billboard. He had a liver transplant in 2010.[174] In April 2017, he denied reports that he had entered hospice care, but was resting at home on doctor’s orders.[175]

Marriages, relationships and children

Allman’s partners included Shelley Kay Winters, Janice Blair, Cher, Julie Bindas, Ganielle J P Galiana and Stacey Fountain. In 2012 he announced an engagement on the Piers Morgan show to Shannon Williams.[176]

Allman had five children – son Devon Allman, 44, lead singer of Honeytribe, from his marriage to Shelley Kay Winters, Elijah Blue Allman, 40, lead singer of Deadsy, from his marriage to Cher, Delilah Island Allman, 35, from his marriage to Julie Bindas, Michael Sean Allman, 50, from a relationship with former waitress Mary Lynn Green, and Layla Brooklyn Allman, 23, from a relationship with radio journalist Shelby Blackburn.[176]

Death

Following a series of health problems,[177] Allman died at his home in Savannah, Georgia, on May 27, 2017 due to complications of liver cancer. He was 69.[178][179][180][181]

Discography

Studio
Live

See also

References

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Boehner on Trump — A Complete Disaster — Takes One To Know One — A Real Big Spender — Boehner The Cry Baby — Two Party Tyranny Continues — Videos

Posted on May 26, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, College, Communications, Congress, Culture, Economics, Education, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Life, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Political Correctness, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Reviews, Security, Strategy, Tax Policy, Video, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Image result for cartoons boehner and conservativesImage result for john boehner with drink and cigaretteImage result for john boehner with drink and cigarette

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Big Spender

Janis Joplin – Cry Baby

John Boehner: DESTROYS Trump Complete Desaster

What did John Boehner’s Wife Try to take into Trump’s Inauguration?

John Boehner tried to keep Donald Trump from shutting down the government report

John Boehner on Trump’s Election“Hallelujah.” “Thank God I’m Not in the Middle of this”

John Boehner backs Donald Trump

Boehner: SCOTUS is why I’m voting for Trump

House Speaker John Boehner resigns

John Boehner: Donald Trump Is ‘Barely A Republican’ | Andrea Mitchell | MSNBC

Conservatives rejoice after Boehner resigns as speaker

Obama: John Boehner is a good man

Rush Limbaugh: “Did you know that Paul Ryan interned for John Boehner?”

Ted Cruz on John Boehner: “I’m Going to Tell You Why He Resigned’

John Boehner Resigns And Republicans Couldn’t Be Happier

Dickerson on one-on-one interview with House Speaker Boehner

Mark Levin slams John Boehner on the Sean Hannity TV Show 1 – 7 – 2015

Rush Limbaugh tells the truth about GOP, December 2014

John Boehner unloads on Trump: A ‘complete disaster’

By Mike DeBonis May 26 at 12:42 PM

Former House speaker John A. Boehner continued a streak of remarkable post-office candor during a Wednesday appearance at a Houston energy conference, telling a luncheon audience that President Trump’s term has — foreign policy aside — been a “complete disaster.”

“Everything else he’s done has been a complete disaster,” Boehner (R-Ohio) said, according to a report in Rigzone, an online energy publication. “He’s still learning how to be president.”

Boehner, who resigned from Congress in October 2015, had praised Trump — a friend and golfing companion from his political years — during the presidential campaign. On Wednesday, he praised Trump’s efforts at getting serious about combating the Islamic State terror group, Rigzone reported, but ended his positive comments there.

Among other remarks, Boehner said Trump should not be allowed to tweet, the publication said.

Dave Schnittger, an aide to Boehner, said Friday the remarks made at the KPMG Global Energy Conference were “reported accurately” by Rigzone.

Boehner has made other public comments critical of his party since leaving office. During the presidential campaign in April 2016, he called then-GOP candidate Ted Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh.” And in February, he made a prescient prediction that a GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act was “not going to happen” and that “Republicans never, ever agree on health care” — a view he maintained on Wednesday, according to the Rigzone report.

Boehner offered other blunt opinions Wednesday, Rigzone reported. He gave an increasingly pessimistic view that congressional Republicans would pass tax reform, saying “now my odds are 60/40” and that tax reform is “a bunch of happy talk.” And he echoed an emerging piece of D.C. conventional wisdom by calling the border adjustment tax plan favored by Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Boehner’s successor as House speaker, “deader than a doornail.”

And on the various pending investigations into alleged Russian influence on the election and on Trump’s campaign, Boehner said, “they need to get to the bottom of this” but called impeachment a folly pushed by “crazy left-wing Democratic colleagues of mine.”

“Talk of impeachment is the best way to rile up Trump supporters,” he said, according to Rigzone. “Remember, impeachment is not a legal process; it’s a political process.”

Boehner, as he has said in the past, repeated Wednesday that he does not miss his old job: “I wake up every day, drink my morning coffee and say, ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah,’” he said, according to Rigzone.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/05/26/john-boehner-unloads-on-trump-a-complete-disaster/?utm_term=.970e0d1d935c

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President Trump Arrives In Saudi Arabia — Videos

Posted on May 20, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Communications, Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Freedom, Friends, government spending, history, Islam, Islam, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Middle East, Money, National Security Agency (NSA), National Security Agency (NSA_, Newspapers, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Radio, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Religious, Religious, Security, Speech, Spying, Strategy, Success, Sunni, Talk Radio, Television, Terrorism, Video, Wahhabism, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , |

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President Trump Lands in Saudi Arabia And Meets King Salman (FULL)

TRUMP ARRIVES TO ROYALTY IN SAUDI ARABIA

Trump arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for his first foreign trip as president

President Donald Trump Welcome Ceremony in Saudi Arabia at Al Yamamh Palace #2

President Trump Welcome Reception Ceremony in Saudi Arabia with King Salman

President Trump and Melania in Saudi Arabia Meet King Salman

President Trump & King Salman Dancing During Ceremony in Saudi Arabia (FULL)

President Trump Welcome Reception Ceremony in Saudi Arabia with King Salman

President Trump and Cabinet At meeting in Saudi Arabia

What a difference an election can make for the respect American leaders have for our country.

There were two very different outcomes when two American presidents greeted the king of Saudi Arabia.

All eyes were on President Trump today as he arrived in the country for his first foreign trip.

Video shows the president stepping off the plane and greeting King Salman:

Trump stood up straight as Salman appeared to bow slightly.

Trump’s posture stands in stark difference to President Obama’s in the early days of his presidency.

Cameras captured Obama bowing to King Abdullah, contorting nearly to a 90-degree angle in what many called a moment of American weakness:

Trump’s behavior was refreshingly noticeable, as several Twitter users contrasted the two reactions.

View image on Twitter

LOOK CAREFULLY at these two photos. The one on the RIGHT is a lesson in American exceptionalism: @FLOTUS no hijab, @POTUS no kowtow. 🇺🇸❤️-VJ

“Look carefully at these two photos,” recording artist Vinnie James wrote. “The one on the RIGHT is a lesson in American exceptionalism: @FLOTUS no hijab, @POTUS no kowtow.”

http://www.theamericanmirror.com/great-unlike-obama-trump-doesnt-bow-saudi-king/

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National Security Agency Is Spying On All American Who Use The Internet and Telephone System and They Collect and Store All Your Communications — Includes Trump and Associates — No Warrant Required If President Obama Designates You A Target — Congress Is Enabling The Turnkey Two Party Tyranny — Warrentless Searches — Congress Does Nothing To Stop It! — Videos

Posted on March 17, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Books, British History, Business, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Communications, Computers, Computers, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Data, Data Storage, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Demographics, Documentary, European History, External Hard Drives, External Hard Drives, Faith, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Communications Commission, Federal Government, Friends, government spending, Heroes, history, Illegal, Immigration, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), IRS, Islam, Islam, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Middle East, National Security Agency (NSA), National Security Agency (NSA_, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Politics, Press, Programming, Psychology, Radio, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulations, Religion, Security, Sociology, Space, Spying, Strategy, Supreme Court, Systems, Talk Radio, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Television, Terrorism, Video, Wahhabism, War, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Obama launched TWO criminal investigations on Trump׃ no evidence found

The O’Reilly Factor March 18, 2017 Fox News Pres Trump March 18, 2017

Edward Snowden Vault 7 ” Wikileaks” Obama Targeting Trump Tower Live from Russia Stream 14 03 2017

Former NSA Employee, Bill Binney, Breaks Silence Confirms Trump Wiretapping claims

NSA WHISTLEBLOWER SAYS TRUMP WAS WIRETAPPED AND MONITORED

NSA Whistleblower William Binney on The Laura Ingraham Show (3/10/2017)

Sean Hannity talks to Mark Levin , Jay Sekulow & Bill Binney about POTUS wiretapping claims

*BOMBSHELL* SEAN HANNITY, WILLIAM BINNEY and TONY SHAFFER (3/8/17) – TALK VAULT 7

Whistleblower: NSA Still Collecting Data On Every U.S. Citizen

william binney ex nsa intelligence agent discusses trump leaks with lou dobbs

Sharyl Attkisson: Presidents CAN authorize ILLEGAL surveillance and nobody would ever know!

Malzberg | Sharyl Attkisson to discuss her new book “Stonewalled” | Part 1

[youtube-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjAoVEhlrPc]

Malzberg | Sharyl Attkisson to discuss her new book “Stonewalled” | Part 2

Wyden: No to warrantless searches by the FBI through National Security Letters

NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post

William Binney – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

NSA Surveillance and What To Do About It

Taking a Look at the NSA’s Massive Data Center

NSA’s Largest Spy Center Located in Utah (What you need to know)

NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM

‘State of Surveillance’ with Edward Snowden and Shane Smith (FULL EPISODE)

Edward Snowden Full Interview on Trump, Petraeus, & Having ‘No Regrets’

DOCUMENTARY: Edward Snowden – Terminal F (2015)

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’

NSA paying US Companies hundreds of millions of dollars for access to data

“You’re Being Watched”: Edward Snowden Emerges as Source Behind Explosive Revelations of NSA Spying

Does the NSA Record Phone Calls? Glenn Greenwald on Warrentless Domestic Surveillance (2007)

Published on Jul 8, 2013

The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy (AKA “Warrantless Wiretapping”) concerns surveillance of persons within the United States during the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the “terrorist surveillance program”, part of the broader President’s Surveillance Program, the NSA was authorized by executive order to monitor, without search warrants, the phone calls, Internet activity (Web, e-mail, etc.), text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S. Critics, however, claimed that it was in an effort to attempt to silence critics of the Bush Administration and their handling of several hot button issues during its tenure. Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. Subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.

During the Obama Administration, the NSA has officially continued operating under the new FISA guidelines. However, in April 2009 officials at the United States Department of Justice acknowledged that the NSA had engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications in excess of the FISA court’s authority, but claimed that the acts were unintentional and had since been rectified.

All wiretapping of American citizens by the National Security Agency requires a warrant from a three-judge court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. After the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which granted the President broad powers to fight a war against terrorism. The George W. Bush administration used these powers to bypass the FISA court and directed the NSA to spy directly on al Qaeda in a new NSA electronic surveillance program. Reports at the time indicate that an “apparently accidental” “glitch” resulted in the interception of communications that were purely domestic in nature.[5] This action was challenged by a number of groups, including Congress, as unconstitutional.

The exact scope of the program is not known, but the NSA is or was provided total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications going between some of the nation’s largest telecommunication companies’ major interconnected locations, including phone conversations, email, web browsing, and corporate private network traffic.[6] Critics said that such “domestic” intercepts required FISC authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[7] The Bush administration maintained that the authorized intercepts are not domestic but rather foreign intelligence integral to the conduct of war and that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF).[8] FISA makes it illegal to intentionally engage in electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act or to disclose or use information obtained by electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act knowing that it was not authorized by statute; this is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or up to five years in prison, or both.[9] In addition, the Wiretap Act prohibits any person from illegally intercepting, disclosing, using or divulging phone calls or electronic communications; this is punishable with a fine or up to five years in prison, or both.[10]

After an article about the program, (which had been code-named Stellar Wind), was published in The New York Times on December 16, 2005, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed its existence.[11][12][13] The Times had posted the exclusive story on their website the night before, after learning that the Bush administration was considering seeking a Pentagon-Papers-style court injunction to block its publication.[14] Critics of The Times have alleged that executive editor Bill Keller had withheld the story from publication since before the 2004 Presidential election, and that the story that was ultimately published by The Times was essentially the same as reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau had submitted in 2004.[15] In a December 2008 interview with Newsweek, former Justice Department employee Thomas Tamm revealed himself to be the initial whistle-blower to The Times. The FBI began investigating leaks about the program in 2005, with 25 agents and 5 prosecutors on the case.

FBI’s Patriot Act Abuse of National Security Letters and illegal NSA spying

If you think you can handle the truth, well here it is folks

National Security Agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“NSA” redirects here. For other uses, see NSA (disambiguation) and National Security Agency (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with NASA or National Security Council.
National Security Agency
Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Seal of the National Security Agency
Flag of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Flag of the National Security Agency
National Security Agency headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland.jpg
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
Agency overview
Formed November 4, 1952; 64 years ago[1]
Preceding agency
  • Armed Forces Security Agency
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S.
39°6′32″N 76°46′17″WCoordinates: 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W
Motto “Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future.”
Employees Classified (30,000–40,000 estimate)[2][3][4][5]
Annual budget Classified (estimated $10.8 billion, 2013)[6][7]
Agency executives
Parent agency United States Department of Defense
Website www.nsa.gov

The National Security Agency (NSA) is an intelligence organization of the United States federal government responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). NSA is concurrently charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare.[8][9] Although many of NSA’s programs rely on “passive” electronic collection, the agency is authorized to accomplish its mission through active clandestine means,[10] among which are physically bugging electronic systems[11] and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software.[12][13] Moreover, NSA maintains physical presence in a large number of countries across the globe, where its Special Collection Service (SCS) inserts eavesdropping devices in difficult-to-reach places. SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering”.[14][15]

Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, NSA does not unilaterally conduct human-source intelligence gathering, despite often being portrayed so in popular culture. Instead, NSA is entrusted with assistance to and coordination of SIGINT elements at other government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary.[16] As part of these streamlining responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which was created to facilitate cooperation between NSA and other U.S. military cryptanalysis components. Additionally, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget,[6][17] operating as part of the Department of Defense and simultaneously reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.

NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of some of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs was revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts the communications of over a billion people worldwide, many of whom are United States citizens, and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

Contents

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History

Army predecessor

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s cryptoanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and MI-8 moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[19][20]

Black Chamber

Western Union allowed MI-8 to monitor telegraphic communications passing through the company’s wires until 1929.[21]

MI-8 also operated the so-called “Black Chamber“.[22] The Black Chamber was located on East 37th Street in Manhattan. Its purpose was to crack the communications codes of foreign governments. Jointly supported by the State Department and the War Department, the chamber persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company, to allow government officials to monitor private communications passing through the company’s wires.[23]

Other “Black Chambers” were also found in Europe. They were established by the French and British governments to read the letters of targeted individuals, employing a variety of techniques to surreptitiously open, copy, and reseal correspondence before forwarding it to unsuspecting recipients.[24]

Despite the American Black Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[21]

World War II and its aftermath

During World War II, the Signal Security Agency (SSA) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SSA was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25]This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

Vietnam War

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding America’s commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET“, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit intercepted U.S. communications.[32]:Vol I, p.79

Church Committee hearings

Further information: Watergate scandal and Church Committee

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35]such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted American citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

From 1980s to 1990s

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[38][39]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

War on Terror

After Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in the 1980s, the NSA recorded all of his phone calls via satellite, logging over 2,000 minutes of conversation[43]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[44]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002. SAIC, Boeing, CSC, IBM, and Litton worked on it. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004. Several whistleblowers were later arrested and charged with violating federal espionage laws.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[45] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[46]

Global surveillance disclosures

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

Scope of surveillance

It was revealed that the NSA intercepts telephone and Internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism as well as foreign politics, economics[47] and “commercial secrets”.[48] In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[49][50][51] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[49][52]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[53] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[54][55]

The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[56]It reportedly has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[57] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[58] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies), so that the majority of Internet privacy is now vulnerable to the NSA and other attackers.[59][60]

Domestically, the NSA collects and stores metadata records of phone calls,[61] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[62] as well as Internet communications,[57] relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[63] The NSA supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[64]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[65]

Although NSA’s surveillance activities are controversial, government agencies and private enterprises have common needs, and sometimes cooperate at subtle and complex technical levels. Big data is becoming more advantageous, justifying the cost of required computer hardware, and social media lead the trend. The interests of NSA and Silicon Valley began to converge as advances in computer storage technology drastically reduced the costs of storing enormous amounts of data and at the same time the value of the data for use in consumer marketing began to rise. On the other hand, social media sites are growing as voluntary data mining operations on a scale that rivals or exceeds anything the government could attempt on its own.[66]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[67]

Legal accountability

Despite President Obama’s claims that these programs have congressional oversight, members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[68] Obama has also claimed that there are legal checks in place to prevent inappropriate access of data and that there have been no examples of abuse;[69] however, the secret FISC court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[70] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions;[71] and that NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests.[72] The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[73] A March 2009 opinion of the FISC court, released by court order, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[74][75] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[73] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[58]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[76]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[77]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[78]

Official responses

On March 20, 2013 the Director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General James Clapper, testified before Congress that the NSA does not wittingly collect any kind of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, but he retracted this in June after details of the PRISM program were published, and stated instead that meta-data of phone and Internet traffic are collected, but no actual message contents.[79] This was corroborated by the NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, before it was revealed that the XKeyscore program collects the contents of millions of emails from US citizens without warrant, as well as “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”. Alexander later admitted that “content” is collected, but stated that it is simply stored and never analyzed or searched unless there is “a nexus to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups”.[69]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[80] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[81][82][83]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[84][85] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[86][87] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[88]

Organizational structure

Michael S. Rogers, the director of the NSA.

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[89]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

As of the mid-1990s, the National Security Agency was organized into five Directorates:

  • The Operations Directorate, which was responsible for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Technology and Systems Directorate, which develops new technologies for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Information Systems Security Directorate, which was responsible for NSA’s communications and information security missions.
  • The Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate, which provided staff support and general direction for the Agency.
  • The Support Services Directorate, which provided logistical and administrative support activities.[90]

Each of these directorates consisted of several groups or elements, designated by a letter. There were for example the A Group, which was responsible for all SIGINT operations against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and G Group, which was responsible for SIGINT related to all non-communist countries. These groups were divided in units designated by an additional number, like unit A5 for breaking Soviet codes, and G6, being the office for the Middle East, North Africa, Cuba, Central and South America.[91][92]

Structure

As of 2013, NSA has about a dozen directorates, which are designated by a letter, although not all of them are publicly known. The directorates are divided in divisions and units starting with the letter of the parent directorate, followed by a number for the division, the sub-unit or a sub-sub-unit.

The main elements of the organizational structure of the NSA are:[93]

  • F – Directorate only known from unit F6, the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is a joint program created by CIA and NSA in 1978 to facilitate clandestine activities such as bugging computers throughout the world, using the expertise of both agencies.[94]
  • G – Directorate only known from unit G112, the office that manages the Senior Span platform, attached to the U2 spy planes.[95]
  • I – Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), which ensures availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation of national security and telecommunications and information systems (national security systems).
  • J – Directorate only known from unit J2, the Cryptologic Intelligence Unit
  • L – Installation and Logistics
  • M – Human Resources
  • Q – Security and Counterintelligence
  • R – Research Directorate, which conducts research on signals intelligence and on information assurance for the U.S. Government.[96]
  • S – Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which is responsible for the collection, analysis, production and dissemination of signals intelligence. This directorate is led by a director and a deputy director. The SID consists of the following divisions:
    • S1 – Customer Relations
    • S2 – Analysis and Production Centers, with the following so-called Product Lines:
      • S2A: South Asia, S2B: China and Korea, S2C: International Security, S2E: Middle East/Asia, S2F: International Crime, S2G: Counter-proliferation, S2H: Russia, S2I: Counter-terrorism, S2J: Weapons and Space, S2T: Current Threats
    • S3 – Data Acquisition, with these divisions for the main collection programs:
      • S31 – Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services (CES)
      • S32 – Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber-espionage and reportedly is “the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate, consisting of over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.”[97]
      • S33 – Global Access Operations (GAO), which is responsible for intercepts from satellites and other international SIGINT platforms.[98] A tool which details and maps the information collected by this unit is code-named Boundless Informant.
      • S34 – Collections Strategies and Requirements Center
      • S35 – Special Source Operations (SSO), which is responsible for domestic and compartmented collection programs, like for example the PRISM program.[98] Special Source Operations is also mentioned in connection to the FAIRVIEW collection program.[99]
  • T – Technical Directorate (TD)
  • Directorate for Education and Training
  • Directorate for Corporate Leadership
  • Foreign Affairs Directorate, which acts as liaison with foreign intelligence services, counter-intelligence centers and the UKUSA-partners.
  • Acquisitions and Procurement Directorate
  • Information Sharing Services (ISS), led by a chief and a deputy chief.[100]

In the year 2000, a leadership team was formed, consisting of the Director, the Deputy Director and the Directors of the Signals Intelligence (SID), the Information Assurance (IAD) and the Technical Directorate (TD). The chiefs of other main NSA divisions became associate directors of the senior leadership team.[101]

After president George W. Bush initiated the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP) in 2001, the NSA created a 24-hour Metadata Analysis Center (MAC), followed in 2004 by the Advanced Analysis Division (AAD), with the mission of analyzing content, Internet metadata and telephone metadata. Both units were part of the Signals Intelligence Directorate.[102]

A 2016 proposal would combine the Signals Intelligence Directorate with the Information Assurance Directorate into a Directorate of Operations.[103]

Watch centers

The NSA maintains at least two watch centers:

  • National Security Operations Center (NSOC), which is the NSA’s current operations center and focal point for time-sensitive SIGINT reporting for the United States SIGINT System (USSS). This center was established in 1968 as the National SIGINT Watch Center (NSWC) and renamed into National SIGINT Operations Center (NSOC) in 1973. This “nerve center of the NSA” got its current name in 1996.[104]
  • NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center (NTOC), which is the primary NSA/CSS partner for Department of Homeland Security response to cyber incidents. The NTOC establishes real-time network awareness and threat characterization capabilities to forecast, alert, and attribute malicious activity and enable the coordination of Computer Network Operations. The NTOC was established in 2004 as a joint Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence project.[105]

Employees

The number of NSA employees is officially classified[4] but there are several sources providing estimates. In 1961, NSA had 59,000 military and civilian employees, which grew to 93,067 in 1969, of which 19,300 worked at the headquarters at Fort Meade. In the early 1980s NSA had roughly 50,000 military and civilian personnel. By 1989 this number had grown again to 75,000, of which 25,000 worked at the NSA headquarters. Between 1990 and 1995 the NSA’s budget and workforce were cut by one third, which led to a substantial loss of experience.[106]

In 2012, the NSA said more than 30,000 employees worked at Fort Meade and other facilities.[2] In 2012, John C. Inglis, the deputy director, said that the total number of NSA employees is “somewhere between 37,000 and one billion” as a joke,[4] and stated that the agency is “probably the biggest employer of introverts.”[4] In 2013 Der Spiegel stated that the NSA had 40,000 employees.[5] More widely, it has been described as the world’s largest single employer of mathematicians.[107] Some NSA employees form part of the workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that provides the NSA with satellite signals intelligence.

As of 2013 about 1,000 system administrators work for the NSA.[108]

Security issues

The NSA received criticism early on in 1960 after two agents had defected to the Soviet Union. Investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and a special subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Armed Services revealed severe cases of ignorance in personnel security regulations, prompting the former personnel director and the director of security to step down and leading to the adoption of stricter security practices.[109] Nonetheless, security breaches reoccurred only a year later when in an issue of Izvestia of July 23, 1963, a former NSA employee published several cryptologic secrets.

The very same day, an NSA clerk-messenger committed suicide as ongoing investigations disclosed that he had sold secret information to the Soviets on a regular basis. The reluctance of Congressional houses to look into these affairs had prompted a journalist to write, “If a similar series of tragic blunders occurred in any ordinary agency of Government an aroused public would insist that those responsible be officially censured, demoted, or fired.” David Kahn criticized the NSA’s tactics of concealing its doings as smug and the Congress’ blind faith in the agency’s right-doing as shortsighted, and pointed out the necessity of surveillance by the Congress to prevent abuse of power.[109]

Edward Snowden‘s leaking of the existence of PRISM in 2013 caused the NSA to institute a “two-man rule“, where two system administrators are required to be present when one accesses certain sensitive information.[108] Snowden claims he suggested such a rule in 2009.[110]

Polygraphin

Defense Security Service (DSS) polygraph brochure given to NSA applicants

The NSA conducts polygraph tests of employees. For new employees, the tests are meant to discover enemy spies who are applying to the NSA and to uncover any information that could make an applicant pliant to coercion.[111] As part of the latter, historically EPQs or “embarrassing personal questions” about sexual behavior had been included in the NSA polygraph.[111] The NSA also conducts five-year periodic reinvestigation polygraphs of employees, focusing on counterintelligence programs. In addition the NSA conducts periodic polygraph investigations in order to find spies and leakers; those who refuse to take them may receive “termination of employment”, according to a 1982 memorandum from the director of the NSA.[112]

File:NSApolygraphvideo.webm

NSA-produced video on the polygraph process

There are also “special access examination” polygraphs for employees who wish to work in highly sensitive areas, and those polygraphs cover counterintelligence questions and some questions about behavior.[112] NSA’s brochure states that the average test length is between two and four hours.[113] A 1983 report of the Office of Technology Assessment stated that “It appears that the NSA [National Security Agency] (and possibly CIA) use the polygraph not to determine deception or truthfulness per se, but as a technique of interrogation to encourage admissions.”[114]Sometimes applicants in the polygraph process confess to committing felonies such as murder, rape, and selling of illegal drugs. Between 1974 and 1979, of the 20,511 job applicants who took polygraph tests, 695 (3.4%) confessed to previous felony crimes; almost all of those crimes had been undetected.[111]

In 2010 the NSA produced a video explaining its polygraph process.[115] The video, ten minutes long, is titled “The Truth About the Polygraph” and was posted to the Web site of the Defense Security Service. Jeff Stein of The Washington Post said that the video portrays “various applicants, or actors playing them — it’s not clear — describing everything bad they had heard about the test, the implication being that none of it is true.”[116] AntiPolygraph.org argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video.[115] George Maschke, the founder of the Web site, accused the NSA polygraph video of being “Orwellian“.[116]

After Edward Snowden revealed his identity in 2013, the NSA began requiring polygraphing of employees once per quarter.[117]

Arbitrary firing

The number of exemptions from legal requirements has been criticized. When in 1964 the Congress was hearing a bill giving the director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee,The Washington Post wrote: “This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself.” Yet, the bill was accepted by an overwhelming majority.[109]

Insignia and memorials

Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

The heraldic insignia of NSA consists of an eagle inside a circle, grasping a key in its talons.[118] The eagle represents the agency’s national mission.[118] Its breast features a shield with bands of red and white, taken from the Great Seal of the United States and representing Congress.[118] The key is taken from the emblem of Saint Peter and represents security.[118]

When the NSA was created, the agency had no emblem and used that of the Department of Defense.[119] The agency adopted its first of two emblems in 1963.[119] The current NSA insignia has been in use since 1965, when then-Director, LTG Marshall S. Carter (USA) ordered the creation of a device to represent the agency.[120]

The NSA’s flag consists of the agency’s seal on a light blue background.

National Cryptologic Memorial

Crews associated with NSA missions have been involved in a number of dangerous and deadly situations.[121] The USS Liberty incident in 1967 and USS Pueblo incident in 1968 are examples of the losses endured during the Cold War.[121]

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions.[122] It is made of black granite, and has 171 names carved into it, as of 2013 .[122] It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.[122]

NSANet (NSA’s intranet)

Behind the Green Door – Secure communications room with separate computer terminals for access to SIPRNET, GWAN, NSANET, and JWICS

NSANet stands for National Security Agency Network and is the official NSA intranet.[123] It is a classified network,[124] for information up to the level of TS/SCI[125] to support the use and sharing of intelligence data between NSA and the signals intelligence agencies of the four other nations of the Five Eyes partnership. The management of NSANet has been delegated to the Central Security Service Texas (CSSTEXAS).[126]

NSANet is a highly secured computer network consisting of fiber-optic and satellite communication channels which are almost completely separated from the public Internet. The network allows NSA personnel and civilian and military intelligence analysts anywhere in the world to have access to the agency’s systems and databases. This access is tightly controlled and monitored. For example, every keystroke is logged, activities are audited at random and downloading and printing of documents from NSANet are recorded.[127]

In 1998, NSANet, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had “significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information”.[128] In 2004, the network was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems.[129] Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it.[130]

The thousands of Top Secret internal NSA documents that were taken by Edward Snowden in 2013 were stored in “a file-sharing location on the NSA’s intranet site” so they could easily be read online by NSA personnel. Everyone with a TS/SCI-clearance had access to these documents and as a system administrator, Snowden was responsible for moving accidentally misplaced highly sensitive documents to more secure storage locations.[131]

National Computer Security Center

The DoD Computer Security Center was founded in 1981 and renamed the National Computer Security Center (NCSC) in 1985. NCSC was responsible for computer security throughout the federal government.[132] NCSC was part of NSA,[133] and during the late 1980s and the 1990s, NSA and NCSC published Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria in a six-foot high Rainbow Series of books that detailed trusted computing and network platform specifications.[134] The Rainbow books were replaced by the Common Criteria, however, in the early 2000s.[134]

Facilities

Headquarters

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, 2013

Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, although it is separate from other compounds and agencies that are based within this same military installation. Ft. Meade is about 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Baltimore,[135] and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC.[136] The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only”.[137][138] The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.[139]

NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade.[140] Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi)[141] of Ft. Meade’s 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi),[142] the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.[136][143]

NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade (left), NSOC (right)

The main NSA headquarters and operations building is what James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, describes as “a modern boxy structure” that appears similar to “any stylish office building.”[144] The building is covered with one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage by trapping in signals and sounds.[144] It contains 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), or more than 68 acres (28 ha), of floor space; Bamford said that the U.S. Capitol “could easily fit inside it four times over.”[144]

The facility has over 100 watchposts,[145] one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance.[144] At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure,[146] visitor badges are issued to visitors and security clearances of employees are checked.[147] The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal.[146]

The OPS2A building, the tallest building in the NSA complex and the location of much of the agency’s operations directorate, is accessible from the visitor center. Bamford described it as a “dark glass Rubik’s Cube“.[148] The facility’s “red corridor” houses non-security operations such as concessions and the drug store. The name refers to the “red badge” which is worn by someone without a security clearance. The NSA headquarters includes a cafeteria, a credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, a barbershop, and a bank.[146] NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.[149][150][151]

The employees at the NSA headquarters reside in various places in the Baltimore-Washington area, including Annapolis, Baltimore, and Columbia in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including the Georgetown community.[152]

Power consumption

Due to massive amounts of data processing, NSA is the largest electricity consumer in Maryland.[140]

Following a major power outage in 2000, in 2003 and in follow-ups through 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed. This problem was apparently recognized in the 1990s but not made a priority, and “now the agency’s ability to keep its operations going is threatened.”[153]

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided NSA with 65 to 75 megawatts at Ft. Meade in 2007, and expected that an increase of 10 to 15 megawatts would be needed later that year.[154] In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland’s largest consumer of power.[140] In 2007, as BGE’s largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.[153]

One estimate put the potential for power consumption by the new Utah Data Center at US$40 million per year.[155]

History of headquarters

Headquarters at Fort Meade circa 1950s

When the agency was established, its headquarters and cryptographic center were in the Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C. The COMINT functions were located in Arlington Hall in Northern Virginia, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army‘s cryptographic operations.[156]Because the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb and because the facilities were crowded, the federal government wanted to move several agencies, including the AFSA/NSA. A planning committee considered Fort Knox, but Fort Meade, Maryland, was ultimately chosen as NSA headquarters because it was far enough away from Washington, D.C. in case of a nuclear strike and was close enough so its employees would not have to move their families.[157]

Construction of additional buildings began after the agency occupied buildings at Ft. Meade in the late 1950s, which they soon outgrew.[157] In 1963 the new headquarters building, nine stories tall, opened. NSA workers referred to the building as the “Headquarters Building” and since the NSA management occupied the top floor, workers used “Ninth Floor” to refer to their leaders.[158] COMSEC remained in Washington, D.C., until its new building was completed in 1968.[157] In September 1986, the Operations 2A and 2B buildings, both copper-shielded to prevent eavesdropping, opened with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan.[159] The four NSA buildings became known as the “Big Four.”[159] The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.[159]

Fort Meade shooting[edit]

On March 30, 2015, shortly before 9 am, a stolen sports utility vehicle approached an NSA police vehicle blocking the road near the gate of Fort Meade, after it was told to leave the area. NSA officers fired on the SUV, killing the 27-year-old driver, Ricky Hall (a transgender person also known as Mya), and seriously injuring his 20-year-old male passenger. An NSA officer’s arm was injured when Hall subsequently crashed into his vehicle.[160][161]

The two, dressed in women’s clothing after a night of partying at a motel with the man they’d stolen the SUV from that morning, “attempted to drive a vehicle into the National Security Agency portion of the installation without authorization”, according to an NSA statement.[162] FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said the incident is not believed to be related to terrorism.[163]In June 2015 the FBI closed its investigation into the incident and federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges against anyone involved.[164]

An anonymous police official told The Washington Post, “This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.” The two are believed to have made a wrong turn off the highway, while fleeing from the motel after stealing the vehicle. A small amount of cocaine was found in the SUV. A local CBS reporter initially said a gun was found,[165]but her later revision does not.[166] Dozens of journalists were corralled into a parking lot blocks away from the scene, and were barred from photographing the area.[167]

Computing[edit]

In 1995, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA is the owner of the single largest group of supercomputers.[168]

NSA held a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016.[169] Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages.[149] It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi).[149] The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi)[149] and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.[170]

Increments II and III are expected to be completed by 2030, and would quadruple the space, covering 5,800,000 square feet (54 ha; 0.21 sq mi) with 60 buildings and 40 parking garages.[149] Defense contractors are also establishing or expanding cybersecurity facilities near the NSA and around the Washington metropolitan area.[149]

Other U.S. facilities

Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado

Utah Data Center

As of 2012, NSA collected intelligence from four geostationary satellites.[155] Satellite receivers were at Roaring Creek Station in Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Salt Creek Station in Arbuckle, California.[155] It operated ten to twenty taps on U.S. telecom switches. NSA had installations in several U.S. states and from them observed intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and Asia.[155]

NSA had facilities at Friendship Annex (FANX) in Linthicum, Maryland, which is a 20 to 25-minute drive from Ft. Meade;[171] the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora outside Denver, Colorado; NSA Texas in the Texas Cryptology Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia; NSA Hawaii in Honolulu; the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and elsewhere.[152][155]

On January 6, 2011 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction on NSA’s first Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, known as the “Utah Data Center” for short. The $1.5B data center is being built at Camp Williams, Utah, located 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, and will help support the agency’s National Cyber-security Initiative.[172] It is expected to be operational by September 2013.[155]

In 2009, to protect its assets and to access more electricity, NSA sought to decentralize and expand its existing facilities in Ft. Meade and Menwith Hill,[173] the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.[174]

The Yakima Herald-Republic cited Bamford, saying that many of NSA’s bases for its Echelon program were a legacy system, using outdated, 1990s technology.[175] In 2004, NSA closed its operations at Bad Aibling Station (Field Station 81) in Bad Aibling, Germany.[176] In 2012, NSA began to move some of its operations at Yakima Research Station, Yakima Training Center, in Washington state to Colorado, planning to leave Yakima closed.[177] As of 2013, NSA also intended to close operations at Sugar Grove, West Virginia.[175]

International stations

RAF Menwith Hill has the largest NSA presence in the United Kingdom.[174]

Following the signing in 1946–1956[178] of the UKUSA Agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who then cooperated on signals intelligence and ECHELON,[179] NSA stations were built at GCHQ Bude in Morwenstow, United Kingdom; Geraldton, Pine Gap and Shoal Bay, Australia; Leitrim and Ottawa, Canada; Misawa, Japan; and Waihopai and Tangimoana,[180] New Zealand.[181]

NSA operates RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, which was, according to BBC News in 2007, the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.[182] Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) in 1999.[183]

The agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC), with 240 employees in 2011, is headquartered at a US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt in Germany. A 2011 NSA report indicates that the ECC is responsible for the “largest analysis and productivity in Europe” and focusses on various priorities, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East and counterterrorism operations.[184]

In 2013, a new Consolidated Intelligence Center, also to be used by NSA, is being built at the headquarters of the United States Army Europe in Wiesbaden, Germany.[185] NSA’s partnership with Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence service, was confirmed by BND president Gerhard Schindler.[185]

Thailand

Thailand is a “3rd party partner” of the NSA along with nine other nations.[186] These are non-English-speaking countries that have made security agreements for the exchange of SIGINT raw material and end product reports.

Thailand is the site of at least two US SIGINT collection stations. One is at the US Embassy in Bangkok, a joint NSA-CIA Special Collection Service (SCS) unit. It presumably eavesdrops on foreign embassies, governmental communications, and other targets of opportunity.[187]

The second installation is a FORNSAT (foreign satellite interception) station in the Thai city of Khon Kaen. It is codenamed INDRA, but has also been referred to as LEMONWOOD.[187] The station is approximately 40 ha (100 acres) in size and consists of a large 3,700–4,600 m2 (40,000–50,000 ft2) operations building on the west side of the ops compound and four radome-enclosed parabolic antennas. Possibly two of the radome-enclosed antennas are used for SATCOM intercept and two antennas used for relaying the intercepted material back to NSA. There is also a PUSHER-type circularly-disposed antenna array (CDAA) array just north of the ops compound.[188][189]

NSA activated Khon Kaen in October 1979. Its mission was to eavesdrop on the radio traffic of Chinese army and air force units in southern China, especially in and around the city of Kunming in Yunnan Province. Back in the late 1970s the base consisted only of a small CDAA antenna array that was remote-controlled via satellite from the NSA listening post at Kunia, Hawaii, and a small force of civilian contractors from Bendix Field Engineering Corp. whose job it was to keep the antenna array and satellite relay facilities up and running 24/7.[188]

According to the papers of the late General William Odom, the INDRA facility was upgraded in 1986 with a new British-made PUSHER CDAA antenna as part of an overall upgrade of NSA and Thai SIGINT facilities whose objective was to spy on the neighboring communist nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.[188]

The base apparently fell into disrepair in the 1990s as China and Vietnam became more friendly towards the US, and by 2002 archived satellite imagery showed that the PUSHER CDAA antenna had been torn down, perhaps indicating that the base had been closed. At some point in the period since 9/11, the Khon Kaen base was reactivated and expanded to include a sizeable SATCOM intercept mission. It is likely that the NSA presence at Khon Kaen is relatively small, and that most of the work is done by civilian contractors.[188]

Mission

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[190]

According to the Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[191]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[192]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008 by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

Operations

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

  • Collection overseas, which falls under the responsibility of the Global Access Operations (GAO) division.
  • Domestic collection, which falls under the responsibility of the Special Source Operations (SSO) division.
  • Hacking operations, which falls under the responsibility of the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

Collection overseas

Echelon

Main article: ECHELON

Echelon was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[193] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[175]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[194] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[195]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[196] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the ECHELON surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[197] In November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[198]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[199][200]

Protesters against NSA data mining in Berlin wearing Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden masks.

Other SIGINT operations overseas

The NSA is also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT“, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were charged with one.[201]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[202]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[203] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[204]

BoundlessInformant

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. It was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France.[205]

BoundlessInformant employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA.[206]

Bypassing encryption

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual_EC_DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[207][208] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[209] Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[208]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[210][211]

Domestic activity

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[212] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[213][214]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[215] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[216] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[216]

George W. Bush administration

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorney Generals were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[217] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records.This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[218]

Warrantless wiretaps

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[219]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[220]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[221]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[222][223]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[224] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[225] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[226]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

AT&T Internet monitoring

In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.[227]

Data mining

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[228]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[229] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[230]

Illegally obtained evidence

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[231][232]

Barack Obama administration

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[233] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[234]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[235] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[236] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[237] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[238]

Section 215 metadata collection

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon‘s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call … location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[239][240]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[241]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[242]

Defenders of the program say that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[243] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that[clarification needed] another attack in New York was baseless.[243]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015, the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[244] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

The PRISM program[edit]

PRISM: a clandestine surveillance program under which the NSA collects user data from companies like Microsoft and Facebook.

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[245][246] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[247] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

June 2015 – WikiLeaks: Industrial espionage

In June 2015, Wikileaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on French companies.[248]

July 2015 – WikiLeaks: Espionage against German federal ministries[edit]

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since 1990s.[249][250] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[251]

Claims of prevented terrorist attacks

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[252] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[253][254][255][256]

Hacking operations

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

NSA’s China hacking group

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[257][258]

Syrian internet blackout

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria‘s internet blackout in 2012.[259]

Suspected responsibility for hacking operations by the Equation Group[edit]

The espionage group named the Equation Group, described by discoverers Kaspersky Labs as one of the most advanced (if not the most advanced) in the world as of 2015,[260]:31 and connected to over 500 malware infections in at least 42 countries over many years, is suspected of being a part of NSA.[261][262] The group’s known espionage methods have been documented to include interdiction (interception of legitimate CDs sent by a scientific conference organizer by mail),[260]:15 and the “unprecedented” ability to infect and be transmitted through the hard drive firmware of several of the major hard drive manufacturers, and create and use hidden disk areas and virtual disk systems for its purposes, a feat demanding access to the manufacturer’s source code of each to achieve.[260]:16–18 The methods used to deploy the tools demonstrated “surgical precision”, going so far as to exclude specific countries by IP and allow targeting of specific usernames on discussion forums.[260]:23–26 The techniques and knowledge used by the Equation Group are considered in summary to be “out of the reach of most advanced threat groups in the world except [this group].[260]:31

Software backdoors

Linux kerne

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013 that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[263]However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[264]

When my oldest son [Linus Torvalds] was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, [but] everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

— Nils Torvalds, LIBE Committee Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens – 11th Hearing, 11 November 2013[265]
Microsoft Windows
Main article: _NSAKEY

_NSAKEY was a variable name discovered in Microsoft‘s Windows NT 4 Service Pack 5 (which had been released unstripped of its symbolic debugging data) in August 1999 by Andrew D. Fernandes of Cryptonym Corporation. That variable contained a 1024-bit public key.

IBM Notes

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for client–server and server–server authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[266][267]

Boomerang routing

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Hardware implanting

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees
A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald‘s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[268]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[269]Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[270]

Role in scientific research and development[

NSA has been involved in debates about public policy, both indirectly as a behind-the-scenes adviser to other departments, and directly during and after Vice Admiral Bobby Ray Inman‘s directorship. NSA was a major player in the debates of the 1990s regarding the export of cryptography in the United States. Restrictions on export were reduced but not eliminated in 1996.

Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. For 50 years, NSA designed and built most of its computer equipment in-house, but from the 1990s until about 2003 (when the U.S. Congress curtailed the practice), the agency contracted with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.[271]

Data Encryption Standard

FROSTBURG was the NSA’s first supercomputer, used from 1991 to 1997

NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and public block cipher algorithm used by the U.S. government and banking community. During the development of DES by IBM in the 1970s, NSA recommended changes to some details of the design. There was suspicion that these changes had weakened the algorithm sufficiently to enable the agency to eavesdrop if required, including speculation that a critical component—the so-called S-boxes—had been altered to insert a “backdoor” and that the reduction in key length might have made it feasible for NSA to discover DES keys using massive computing power. It has since been observed that the S-boxes in DES are particularly resilient against differential cryptanalysis, a technique which was not publicly discovered until the late 1980s, but which was known to the IBM DES team.

The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed NSA’s involvement, and concluded that while the agency had provided some assistance, it had not tampered with the design.[272][273] In late 2009 NSA declassified information stating that “NSA worked closely with IBM to strengthen the algorithm against all except brute force attacks and to strengthen substitution tables, called S-boxes. Conversely, NSA tried to convince IBM to reduce the length of the key from 64 to 48 bits. Ultimately they compromised on a 56-bit key.”[274][275]

Advanced Encryption Standard

The involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to Data Encryption Standard (DES), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition).[276] NSA has subsequently certified AES for protection of classified information (for at most two levels, e.g. SECRET information in an unclassified environment[clarification needed]) when used in NSA-approved systems.[277]

NSA encryption systems

STU-III secure telephones on display at the National Cryptologic Museum

The NSA is responsible for the encryption-related components in these legacy systems:

  • FNBDT Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal[278]
  • KL-7 ADONIS off-line rotor encryption machine (post-WWII – 1980s)[279][280]
  • KW-26 ROMULUS electronic in-line teletypewriter encryptor (1960s–1980s)[281]
  • KW-37 JASON fleet broadcast encryptor (1960s–1990s)[280]
  • KY-57 VINSON tactical radio voice encryptor[281]
  • KG-84 Dedicated Data Encryption/Decryption[281]
  • STU-III secure telephone unit,[281] phased out by the STE[282]

The NSA oversees encryption in following systems which are in use today:

The NSA has specified Suite A and Suite B cryptographic algorithm suites to be used in U.S. government systems; the Suite B algorithms are a subset of those previously specified by NIST and are expected to serve for most information protection purposes, while the Suite A algorithms are secret and are intended for especially high levels of protection.[277]

SHA

The widely used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash functions were designed by NSA. SHA-1 is a slight modification of the weaker SHA-0 algorithm, also designed by NSA in 1993. This small modification was suggested by NSA two years later, with no justification other than the fact that it provides additional security. An attack for SHA-0 that does not apply to the revised algorithm was indeed found between 1998 and 2005 by academic cryptographers. Because of weaknesses and key length restrictions in SHA-1, NIST deprecates its use for digital signatures, and approves only the newer SHA-2 algorithms for such applications from 2013 on.[287]

A new hash standard, SHA-3, has recently been selected through the competition concluded October 2, 2012 with the selection of Keccak as the algorithm. The process to select SHA-3 was similar to the one held in choosing the AES, but some doubts have been cast over it,[288][289] since fundamental modifications have been made to Keccak in order to turn it into a standard.[290] These changes potentially undermine the cryptanalysis performed during the competition and reduce the security levels of the algorithm.[288]

Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator

Main article: Dual_EC_DRBG

NSA promoted the inclusion of a random number generator called Dual_EC_DRBG in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s 2007 guidelines. This led to speculation of a backdoor which would allow NSA access to data encrypted by systems using that pseudo random number generator.[291]

This is now deemed to be plausible based on the fact that the output of the next iterations of the PRNG can provably be determined if the relation between two internal elliptic curve points is known.[292][293] Both NIST and RSA are now officially recommending against the use of this PRNG.[294][295]

Clipper chip

Main article: Clipper chip

Because of concerns that widespread use of strong cryptography would hamper government use of wiretaps, NSA proposed the concept of key escrow in 1993 and introduced the Clipper chip that would offer stronger protection than DES but would allow access to encrypted data by authorized law enforcement officials.[296] The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere.[297] However, NSA’s Fortezza hardware-based encryption cards, created for the Clipper project, are still used within government, and NSA ultimately declassified and published the design of the Skipjack cipher used on the cards.[298][299]

Perfect Citizen

Main article: Perfect Citizen

Perfect Citizen is a program to perform vulnerability assessment by the NSA on U.S. critical infrastructure.[300][301] It was originally reported to be a program to develop a system of sensors to detect cyber attacks on critical infrastructure computer networks in both the private and public sector through a network monitoring system named Einstein.[302][303] It is funded by the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and thus far Raytheon has received a contract for up to $100 million for the initial stage.

Academic research

NSA has invested many millions of dollars in academic research under grant code prefix MDA904, resulting in over 3,000 papers (as of 2007-10-11). NSA/CSS has, at times, attempted to restrict the publication of academic research into cryptography; for example, the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers were voluntarily withheld in response to an NSA request to do so. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, in 2013 the NSA released the 643-page research paper titled, “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research,[304] ” written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.[305]

Patents

NSA has the ability to file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under gag order. Unlike normal patents, these are not revealed to the public and do not expire. However, if the Patent Office receives an application for an identical patent from a third party, they will reveal NSA’s patent and officially grant it to NSA for the full term on that date.[306]

One of NSA’s published patents describes a method of geographically locating an individual computer site in an Internet-like network, based on the latency of multiple network connections.[307] Although no public patent exists, NSA is reported to have used a similar locating technology called trilateralization that allows real-time tracking of an individual’s location, including altitude from ground level, using data obtained from cellphone towers.[308]

Legality

File:Ron Wyden and James Clapper - 12 March 2013.webm

Excerpt of James Clapper‘s false testimony to Congress on NSA surveillance programs

In the United States, at least since 2001,[309] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[310] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[311] specifically phone records. President Barack Obama has asked lawyers and his national security team to look at the tactics that are being used by the NSA. President Obama made a speech on January 17, 2014 where he defended the national security measures, including the NSA, and their intentions for keeping the country safe through surveillance. He said that it is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn between what is too much surveillance and how much is needed for national security because technology is ever changing and evolving. Therefore, the laws cannot keep up with the rapid advancements.

President Obama did make some changes to national security regulations and how much data can be collected and surveyed.[citation needed] The first thing he added, was more presidential directive and oversight so that privacy and basic rights are not violated. The president would look over requests on behalf of American citizens to make sure that their personal privacy is not violated by the data that is being requested. Secondly, surveillance tactics and procedures are becoming more public, including over 40 rulings of the FISC that have been declassified.[citation needed] Thirdly, further protections are being placed on activities that are justified under Section 702, such as the ability to retain, search and use data collected in investigations, which allows the NSA to monitor and intercept interaction of targets overseas. Finally, national security letters, which are secret requests for information that the FBI uses in their investigations, are becoming less secretive. The secrecy of the information requested will not be indefinite and will terminate after a set time if future secrecy is not required.[citation needed] Concerning the bulk surveillance of American’s phone records, President Obama also ordered a transition from bulk surveillance under Section 215 to a new policy that will eliminate unnecessary bulk collection of metadata.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[312] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.” [313] The new bill getting passed later in May taking its place is known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue hunting for terrorists by analyzing telephone links between callers but “keep the bulk phone records in the hands of phone companies.”[313] This would give phone companies the freedom to dispose the records in an 18-month period. The White House argued that this new ruling validated President Obama’s support of the government being extracted from bulk data collection and giving power to the telecommunications companies.

Previously, the NSA paid billions of dollars to telecommunications companies in order to collect data from them.[314] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[315] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[316] With this new ruling, telecommunications companies would not provide the NSA with bulk information. The companies would allow the disposal of data in every 18 months,[313] which is arguably putting the telecommunications companies at a higher advantage.

This ruling made the collecting of phone records illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill to re-authorize the Patriot Act.[317] Defenders of this surveillance program are claiming that judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had ruled 37 times that this kind of collection of data is, in fact, lawful.[317] The FISC is the court specifically mandated to grant surveillance orders in the name of foreign intelligence. The new ruling made by the Second District Court of Appeals now retroactively dismisses the findings of the FISC on this program.

See also

Notes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Agency

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Progressive Interventionist Neoconservative Warmonger Senator John McCain — Let The NATO Nations Defend Themselves and Pay For Their Own Defense — Progressive Democrats and Republicans Have Given The American People The Warfare and Welfare State and Replaced The Constitutional American Republic With A Declining and Falling American Empire of The Two Party Tyranny — $20 Trillion in Debt and Unfunced Liabilities Exceeding $210 Trillion and Growing — A Day of Reckoning — United States Is Bankrupt — Steve Bannon and President Trump Know It — Videos

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 “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world”

~George Washington

 “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.”

~Thomas Jefferson

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Image result for NATO list of countries and date joined

Image result for NATO list of countries and date joined

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National Debt Clock

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Sen McCain on Sen. Paul: “The Senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.” (C-SPAN)

Rand Paul ‘John McCain is proof we need term limits’

[youtube3=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGT4wCmKjas]

RAND PAUL VS. JOHN MCCAIN: RAND REACTS TO MCCAIN’S RUSSIAN AGENT CLAIM!!

Rand Paul: McCain ‘past his prime,’ maybe ‘unhinged’

Pence: Time For Allies To Pay Fair Share For NATO

Other NATO members need to pay their fair share?

Trump complains at NATO countries for not paying defense share

Congressman Ron Paul, MD – We’ve Been NeoConned

Steve Bannon Lays Out His AMAZING Political Philosophy

Published on Nov 18, 2016

Speech by Stephen K. Bannon (Steve Bannon), Donald Trump’s senior strategic advisor and architect of his winning 2016 election. In this speech delivered to the Liberty Restoration Foundation, Bannon layed out the poliitical philosophy both he and Trump embrace, and which appealed to the American people in the election. It is conservative, perhaps explaining why the political liberal left has resorted to evidently incorrect allegations of antisemitism or racism to try to derail his appointment. Bannon was a Hollywood producer who invested in the Seinfeld comedy TV series, and later became the chair of the Brietbart News Service, expanding it into one of the leading news sources nationally, as an alternative to liberal media outlets that previously dominated US media. He joined the Trump campaign in June 2016, leading him to victory and the White House. Do you think that Bannon is racist, as the democrats have alleged?

Deficits, Debts and Unfunded Liabilities: The Consequences of Excessive Government Spending

Uploaded on May 10, 2010

Huge budget deficits and record levels of national debt are getting a lot of attention, but this video explains that unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs are Americas real red-ink challenge. More important, this CF&P mini-documentary reveals that deficits and debt are symptoms of the real problem of an excessive burden of government spending. http://www.freedomandprosperity.org

III – Unfunded Liabilities

Rhett Talks – Is the United States Bankrupt?

Laurence Kotlikoff at MTSU November 5, 2015

‘US hides real debt, in worse shape than Greece’

Unfunded Liabilities: James Cox of Silver Bullion interviews Professor Kotlikoff

The Actual Fiscal Gap Is Approximately $210 Trillion Dollars With All The Unfunded Liabilities, The Average Person, Every Man, Woman, And Child Owes……$666,666.667

8 years ago, when Obama took office, the Debt Clock was at 9 TRILLION Dollars.
Today, the US Debt Clock at almost 20 TRILLION Dollars.
http://www.usdebtclock.org/

This is an 87% increase.

The actual Fiscal Gap is approximately $210 TRILLION Dollars.
with all the unfunded liabilities.

With the population of the US is over 315 MILLION People, this means that the average person, every man, woman, and child owes……$666,666.667

Where does this lead?
Look at Brazil, Argentina, Cyprus, Greece, Italy,……

Who ends up with the bill?
THE TAXPAYER!

http://investmentwatchblog.com/the-actual-fiscal-gap-is-approximately-210-trillion-dollars-with-all-the-unfunded-liabilities-the-average-person-every-man-woman-and-child-owes-666666-667/

17 Nobel Laureates and 1200+ Economists Agree with Ben Carson re U.S. Fiscal Gap

I cover economics, personal, national, and international.

Michelle Lee, a fact checker with the Washington Post, just posted a long and, to my mind, highly political column. Her column, read carefully, undermines Presidential candidate Ben Carson’s absolutely correct claim, made in announcing his candidacy, that the true measure of U.S. fiscal debt is not the $13 trillion our government reports as its debt. Instead, our true debt is over $200 trillion. Obviously, most of this true debt has been kept off the books by our politicians.

In this column, I’m going to defend Dr. Carson’s statement. But I want to point out that I don’t know Dr. Carson. I have never spoken with him. And I don’t yet know enough about Dr. Carson’s positions to have a view about his overall suitability for President. I am, however, impressed that out of the gate he is talking about the right measure of our nation’s fiscal condition.

I spoke at length to Michelle Lee prior to her writing her column. She told me she was a fact checker. But when fact checking turns into disguised political commentary, there’s a problem. Fact checkers are supposed to check the facts with experts. When it comes to economics, the experts are PhD economists, not political organizations or people, without real economics training, parading as economists, both of which she quotes in undermining Dr. Carson’s credibility.

Now let me turn to the substance. In referring to $211 trillion in unfunded mandates, Dr. Carson was referencing my calculation of the U.S. fiscal gap. As I explained in a NY Times op ed, the U.S. fiscal gap is $210 trillion. So Dr. Carson was off by $1 trillion – by less than one half of one percent.

The fiscal gap is the present value of all projected future expenditures less the present value of all projected future taxes. The fiscal gap is calculated over the infinite horizon. But since future expenditures and taxes far off in the future are being discounted, their contribution to the fiscal gap is smaller the farther out one goes. The $210 trillion figure is based on the Congressional Budget Office’s July 2014 Alternative Fiscal Scenario projections, which I extended beyond their 75-year horizon.

Dr. Carson referenced $211 trillion as the size of “unfunded mandates.” Michelle Lee correctly points out that Dr. Carson was referencing the U.S. fiscal gap, not the present value of mandatory spending. What she knew (because I told her), but failed to say, is that the present value of mandatory spending is far larger than $210 trillion because the fiscal gap is a net, not a gross number.

Michelle Lee is not a PhD economist. Nor is Bruce Barlett, whose truly absurd statement about the debt being an asset she quotes. Yes, it’s an asset, but it’s an asset that young and future generations must pay off. Social Security benefits are also an asset to their recipients, but again, they must be paid off by people who aren’t getting the benefits.

Michelle Lee apparently takes Bruce Bartell’s views more seriously than the views of 17 Nobel Laureates in economics and over 1200 PhD economists from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Berkeley, Yale, Columbia, Penn, and lesser known universities and colleges around the country. Each of these economists has endorsed The Inform Act, a bi-partisan bill that requires the CBO, GAO, and OMB to do infinite horizon fiscal gap accounting on a routine and ongoing basis.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kotlikoff/2015/05/13/17-nobel-laureates-and-1200-economists-agree-with-ben-carson-re-u-s-fiscal-gap/#46c13e954d17

National Debt

What You’ll Find

Comprehensive and meticulously documented facts about the national debt. Learn about various measures of the national debt, contributing factors, consequences, and more. For example:


Citation Generator

Introductory Notes

In keeping with the practice of the Congressional Budget Office and other federal agencies that deal with budget policy, many of the federal debt, spending, and revenue figures in this research are expressed as a portion of gross domestic product (GDP). This is because debates about the size of government and the effects of its debt are frequently centered upon how much of a nation’s economy is consumed by government. This measure also accounts for population growth, some of the effects of inflation, and the relative capacity of government to service its debt.

However, the federal government does not have the entire U.S. economy at its disposal to service federal debt. The private sector, which produces the goods and services that comprise most of the economy, utilizes some of these resources, and local and state governments also consume some of the nation’s GDP. Hence, this research sometimes expresses federal debt as a portion of annual federal revenues. This is a more direct measure of the federal government’s capacity to service its debt.

In keeping with Just Facts’ Standards of Credibility, all graphs in this research show the full range of available data, and all facts are cited based upon availability and relevance, not to slant results by singling out specific years that are different from others.

Click here for a video that summarizes some of the key facts in this research.

Quantifying the National Debt

* As of March 1, 2017, the official debt of the United States government is $19.9 trillion ($19,920,418,771,289).[1] This amounts to:

  • $61,365 for every person living in the U.S.[2]
  • $158,326 for every household in the U.S.[3]
  • 106% of the U.S. gross domestic product.[4]
  • 560% of annual federal revenues.[5]
Debt as a Portion of the Economy

[6]

* Publicly traded companies are legally required to account for “explicit” and “implicit” future obligations such as employee pensions and retirement benefits.[7] [8] [9] The federal budget, which is the “government’s primary financial planning and control tool,” is not bound by this rule.[10] [11]

* At the close of the federal government’s 2016 fiscal year (September 30, 2016), the federal government had roughly:

  • $8.5 trillion ($8,542,000,000,000) in liabilities that are not accounted for in the publicly held national debt, such as federal employee retirement benefits, accounts payable, and environmental/disposal liabilities.[12]
  • $29.0 trillion ($29,038,000,000,000) in obligations for current Social Security participants above and beyond projected revenues from their payroll and benefit taxes, certain transfers from the general fund of the U.S. Treasury, and assets of the Social Security trust fund.[13] [14]
  • $32.9 trillion ($32,900,000,000,000) in obligations for current Medicare participants above and beyond projected revenues from their payroll taxes, benefit taxes, premium payments, and assets of the Medicare trust fund.[15] [16]

* The figures above are determined in a manner that approximates how publicly traded companies are required to calculate their liabilities and obligations.[17] [18] [19] The obligations for Social Security and Medicare represent how much money must be immediately placed in interest-bearing investments to cover the projected shortfalls between dedicated revenues and expenditures for all current participants in these programs (both taxpayers and beneficiaries).[20] [21] [22]

* Combining the figures above with the national debt and subtracting the value of federal assets, the federal government had about $84.3 trillion ($84,306,000,000,000) in debts, liabilities, and unfunded obligations at the close of its 2016 fiscal year.[23]

* This $84.3 trillion shortfall is 93% of the combined net worth of all U.S. households and nonprofit organizations, including all assets in savings, real estate, corporate stocks, private businesses, and consumer durable goods such as automobiles and furniture.[24] [25]

* This shortfall equates to:

  • $260,382 for every person living in the U.S.[26]
  • $670,058 for every household in the U.S.[27]
  • 451% of the U.S. gross domestic product.[28]
  • 2,370% of annual federal revenues.[29]

* These figures do not account for the future costs implied by any current policies except those of the Social Security and Medicare programs.[30]

* These figures are based upon current federal law and “a wide range of complex assumptions” made by federal agencies.[31] Regarding this:

  • The Board of Social Security Trustees has stated that “significant uncertainty” surrounds the “best estimates” of future circumstances.”[32]
  • The Board of Medicare Trustees has stated that the program’s financial projections “are highly uncertain, especially when looking out more than several decades.”
  • The Board of Medicare Trustees has stated that the program’s long-term costs may be “substantially higher” than projected under current law. This is because current law includes the effects of the Affordable Care Act, which will cut Medicare prices for “many” healthcare services to “less than half of their level” under prior law. Per the Trustees:
Absent an unprecedented change in health care delivery systems and payment mechanisms, the prices paid by Medicare for health services will fall increasingly short of the costs of providing these services. … Before such an outcome would occur, lawmakers would likely intervene to prevent the withdrawal of providers from the Medicare market and the severe problems with beneficiary access to care that would result.[33]

Causes of the National Debt

Spending and Taxes

Current Expenditures and Receipts

† To measure the entirety of government expenditures and receipts, “total” instead of “current” figures are preferable, but such data (shown in the next graph) only extends back to 1960.[34]

‡ In 2015, receipts consisted of: 97% taxes; 2% premiums, settlements, donations, fines, fees, & penalties; 1% interest & dividends.[35]

[36]

* Data from the graph above:

Year Receipts
(Portion of GDP)
Expenditures
(Portion of GDP)
1930 3% 3%
1940 8% 9%
1950 16% 16%
1960 17% 17%
1970 17% 20%
1980 19% 22%
1990 18% 22%
2000 20% 19%
2010 16% 25%
2015 19% 22%

Total Expenditures and Receipts

[37]

* Data from the graph above:

Year Receipts
(Portion of GDP)
Expenditures
(Portion of GDP)
1960 18% 19%
1970 18% 21%
1980 19% 23%
1990 18% 22%
2000 20% 19%
2010 16% 27%
2015 19% 22%

Spending Distribution

Current Expenditures by Function

† Social programs include income security, healthcare, education, housing, and recreation.

‡ National defense includes military spending and veterans’ benefits.

§ General government and debt service includes the executive & legislative branches, tax collection, financial management, and interest payments.

# Economic affairs includes transportation, general economic & labor affairs, agriculture, natural resources, energy, and space. (This excludes spending for infrastructure projects such as new highways, which is not accounted for in this graph.[38])

£ Public order and safety includes police, fire, law courts, prisons, and immigration enforcement.

[39]

* Data from the graph above:

Category Portion of Total Federal Spending
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2015
Social Programs 21% 32% 45% 44% 54% 61% 63%
National Defense 53% 42% 26% 25% 19% 20% 19%
General Government & Debt Service 19% 18% 21% 25% 21% 13% 13%
Economic Affairs & Infrastructure 6% 7% 7% 5% 5% 4% 4%
Public Order & Safety 0% 0% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1%

Tax Distribution

Effective Tax Rates by Income

NOTE: This data does not account for 7% of federal revenues that could not be allocated to households by income group.

[40]

* Data from the graph above:

Average Effective Federal Tax Burdens (2013)
Income Group Household Income Tax Rate Taxes Paid
Lowest 20% $25,400 3.3% $838
Second 20% $47,400 8.4% $3,982
Middle 20% $69,700 12.8% $8,922
Fourth 20% $103,700 17.0% $17,629
Highest 20% $265,000 26.3% $69,695

* Breakdown of the highest 20%:

Income Group Household Income Tax Rate Taxes Paid
81st – 90th $147,100 20.7% $30,450
91st – 95th $201,400 23.0% $46,322
96th – 99th $326,800 26.3% $85,948
Top 1 % $1,571,600 34.0% $534,344

Consequences

* As detailed in publications of the Congressional Budget Office, the Brookings Institution, and Princeton University Press, the following are some potential consequences of unchecked government debt:

  • reduced “future national income and living standards.”[41] [42] [43]
  • “reductions in spending” on “government programs.”[44]
  • “higher marginal tax rates.”[45]
  • “higher inflation” that increases “the size of future budget deficits” and decreases the “the purchasing power” of citizens’ savings and income.”[46] [47]
  • restricted “ability of policymakers to use fiscal policy to respond to unexpected challenges, such as economic downturns or international crises.”[48]
  • “losses for mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies, banks, and other holders of federal debt.”[49]
  • increased “probability of a fiscal crisis in which investors would lose confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget, and the government would be forced to pay much more to borrow money.”[50] [51]

* In 2012, the Journal of Economic Perspectives published a paper about the economic consequences of government debt. Using 2,000+ data points on national debt and economic growth in 20 advanced economies (such as the United States, France, and Japan) from 1800–2009, the authors found that countries with national debts above 90% of GDP averaged 34% less real annual economic growth than when their debts were below 90% of GDP.[52]

* The United States exceeded a debt/GDP level of 90% in the second quarter of 2010.[53]

* Per the textbook Microeconomics for Today:

GDP per capita provides a general index of a country’s standard of living. Countries with low GDP per capita and slow growth in GDP per capita are less able to satisfy basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, education, and health.[54]

* In 2013, the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, published a working paper about the economic consequences of government debt. Using data on national debt and economic growth in 20 advanced economies from 1946-2009, the authors found that countries with national debts over 90% of GDP averaged:

  • 31% less real annual economic growth than countries with debts from 60% to 90% of GDP,
  • 29% less real annual economic growth than countries with debts from 30% to 60% of GDP,
  • and 48% less real annual economic growth than countries with debts from 0% to 30% of GDP.[55]

* The authors of the above-cited papers have engaged in a heated dispute about the results of their respective papers and the effects of government debt on economic growth. Facts about these issues can be found in the Just Facts Daily article, “Do large national debts harm economies?

Politics

Responsibility

* The U.S. Constitution vests Congress with the powers to tax, spend, and pay the debts of the federal government. Legislation to carry out these functions must either be:

  • passed by majorities in both houses of Congress and approved by the President; or
  • passed by majorities in both houses of Congress, vetoed by the President, and then passed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress; or
  • passed by majorities in both houses of Congress and left unaddressed by the President for ten days.[56]

* Other factors impacting the national debt include but are not limited to legislation passed by previous congresses and presidents,[57] economic cycles, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, demographics, and the actions of U.S. citizens and foreign governments.[58]


Current Policies

* In 2014, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected the debt that the U.S. government would accumulate under current federal policies.[59] The projection used the following assumptions:

  • Unemployment will incrementally decline from 6.8% in 2014 to 5.8% in 2018 and 5.3% in 2027, where it will remain thereafter.[60] (For reference, the average of the previous 40 years is 6.5%.[61])
  • GDP growth will incrementally decline from an average rate of 3.4% above the rate of inflation in 2015 to 1.9% in 2021 and remain constant thereafter.[62] (The average of the previous 40 years is 2.9%.[63])
  • Federal revenues (i.e., taxes) will incrementally increase from 17.4% of GDP in 2014 to 18.0% in 2024 and remain constant thereafter.[64] (The average of the previous 40 years is 17.4%.[65])
  • Federal spending will incrementally increase from 20.4% of GDP in 2014 to 23.6% in 2025 and 31.8% in 2040.[66] (The average of the previous 40 years is 20.5%.[67])
  • Payments for Medicare services will undergo scheduled reductions that would likely cause “severe problems with beneficiary access to care.”[68] [69]

* Combining these projections with historical data yields the following results:

Revenues and Spending Under Current Policies

[70]

Debt Under Current Policies

† To measure the entirety of the national debt, it would be preferable to show “gross” debt instead of “publicly held” debt, but this data is not presented in this report. Nonetheless, it would make little difference because the excluded debt primarily resides in federal government trust funds that dwindle and become insolvent during the projection period.[71] Facts regarding why and how the federal government keeps its books in this manner are covered in the section of this research entitled “Government Accounting.”

[72]

* Per CBO, postponing action to stabilize the debt will:

  • punish younger generations of Americans, because most of the burden would fall on them.
  • reward older generations of Americans, because “they would partly or entirely avoid the policy changes needed to stabilize the debt.”
  • “substantially increase the size of the policy adjustments needed to put the budget on a sustainable course.”[73] [74]

* The following Ph.D. economists and political scientists have claimed that the level of national debt during World War II is a good reason to not be overly concerned about the modern national debt:

  • Paul Davidson, editor of the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics and author of The Keynes Solution: The Path to Global Economic Prosperity:[75]
Rather than bankrupting the nation, this large growth in the national debt [during World War II] promoted a prosperous economy. By 1946, the average American household was living much better economically than in the prewar days. Moreover, the children of that Depression–World War II generation were not burdened by having to pay off what then was considered a huge national debt. Instead, for the next quarter century, the economy continued on a path of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity….[76]
  • Douglas J. Amy, professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College:[77]
Conservatives are also wrong when they argue that deficit spending and a large national debt will inevitably undermine economic growth. To see why, we need to simply look back at times when we have run up large deficits and increased the national debt. The best example is World War II when the national debt soared to 120% of GDP—nearly twice the size of today’s debt. This spending not only got us out of the Great Depression but set the stage for a prolonged period of sustained economic growth in the 50s and 60s.[78]
  • Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist and Princeton University professor:[79]
Right now, federal debt is about 50% of GDP. So even if we do run these deficits, federal debt as a share of GDP will be substantially less than it was at the end of World War II.
Again, the debt outlook is bad. But we’re not looking at something inconceivable, impossible to deal with; we’re looking at debt levels that a number of advanced countries, the U.S. included, have had in the past, and dealt with.[80]

* In the 40 years that followed the end of World War II (1946–1985):

  • federal spending as a percent of GDP averaged 42% lower than the last year of the war.[81]
  • publicly held debt as a percent of GDP decreased by 72 percentage points.[82]

* In 2010, around the time when the statements above were written, the Congressional Budget Office projected that under current policy and a sustained economic recovery over the next 40 years:

  • federal spending as a percent of GDP will average over 78% higher than in the four decades that followed World War II.[83]
  • publicly held debt as a percent of GDP will rise by 277 percentage points.[84]

Alternative Policies

* As alternatives to the CBO’s current policy projections detailed above, the CBO also ran projections for scenarios such as these:

1) Current law:[85]

  • Federal revenues will incrementally increase from 17.6% of GDP in 2014 to 18.0% in 2020, 19.9% in 2044, and 23.5% in 2084.[86] [87] At this point, federal revenues (i.e., taxes) will be 35% higher than the average of the previous 40 years.[88]
  • Federal spending on all government functions will incrementally increase from 20.4% of GDP in 2014 to 21.5% in 2020, and 26.0% in 2040.[89] At this point, spending will be 27% higher than the average of the previous 40 years.[90]
  • Payments for Medicare services will undergo reductions that will likely cause “severe problems with beneficiary access to care.”[91] [92]

2) Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s 2014 budget resolution, called the “The Path to Prosperity”:[93]

  • Starting in 2024, Medicare beneficiaries will have a choice to enroll in private plans paid for by Medicare or remain in the traditional Medicare program.[94] Also starting in 2024, the eligibility age for Medicare benefits will incrementally rise to correspond with Social Security’s retirement age.[95] Compared to the projections under the current policy scenario, Medicare spending will be 0.5% lower in 2016, 2% lower in 2020, and 4% lower in 2024.[96]
  • Federal Medicaid spending will be converted to an “allotment that each state could tailor to meet its needs, indexed for inflation and population growth.”[97] The expansion of Medicaid manadated by the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) will be repealed.[98] Compared to the projections under the current policy scenario, Medicaid spending will be 9% lower in 2016, 19% lower in 2020, and 24% lower in 2024.[99]
  • All federal spending related to Obamacare’s exchange subsidies will be repealed.[100]
  • Spending on all government functions except for interest payments on the national debt will incrementally decline from 18.9% of GDP in 2015 to 16% in 2025 before increasing to 16.4% in 2035.[101] (The average of the previous 40 years is 18.3%).[102]
  • Revenues will increase from 18.2% of GDP in 2015 to 18.4% in 2025, 19% in 2032 and stay constant thereafter.[103] (The average of the previous 40 years is 17.4%.[104])

* Combining historical data on the national debt with CBO’s projections for current policy, current law, and the Ryan plan yields the following results:

Debt Under Different Policies

[105] [106]


Public Opinion

* A poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal in February 2011 found that:

  • 80% of Americans are concerned “a great deal” or “quite a bit” about federal budget deficits and the national debt.
  • if the deficit cannot be eliminated by cutting wasteful spending, 35% of Americans prefer to cut important programs while 33% prefer to raise taxes.
  • 22% think cuts in Social Security spending will be needed to “significantly reduce the federal budget deficit,” 49% do not, and 29% have no opinion or are not sure.
  • 18% think cuts in Medicare spending will be needed to “significantly reduce the federal budget deficit,” 54% do not, and 28% have no opinion or are not sure.[107]

* Other than interest on the national debt, most of the long-term growth in federal spending (as a percent of GDP) under the CBO’s current policy and current law scenarios stems from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) subsidies.[108]

* A poll conducted in November 2010 by the Associated Press and CNBC found that:

  • 85% of Americans are worried that the national debt “will harm future generations.”
  • 56% think “the shortfalls will spark a major economic crisis in the coming decade.”
  • when asked to choose between two options to balance the budget, 59% prefer to cut unspecified government services, while 30% prefer to raise unspecified taxes.[109]

* A poll conducted in July 2005 by the Associated Press and Ipsos found that:

  • 70% of Americans were worried about the size of the federal deficit.
  • 35% were willing to cut government spending.
  • 18% were willing to raise taxes.
  • 1% were willing to cut government spending and raise taxes.[110]

Congresses

* During the first session of the 113th Congress (January–December 2013), U.S. Representatives and Senators introduced 168 bills that would have reduced spending and 828 bills that would have raised spending.[111]

* The table below quantifies the costs and savings of these bills by political party. This data is provided by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation:

Costs/Savings of Bills Sponsored or Cosponsored

in 2013 by Typical Congressman (in Billions)

Increases Decreases Net Agenda
House Democrats $407 $10 $397
Senate Democrats $22 $3 $18
House Republicans $9 $91 -$83
Senate Republicans $6 $165 -$159

[112] [113]

* Click here to look up any member of Congress and see the annual costs or savings from the legislation he or she has sponsored or cosponsored.

* The table below quantifies the net agendas of the political parties in previous Congresses:

Costs/Savings of Bills Sponsored or Cosponsored in the First

Sessions of Congress by Typical Congressman (in Billions)

2011 2009 2007 2005 2003 2001 1999
House Democrats $497 $500 $547 $547 $402 $262 $34
Senate Democrats $24 $134 $59 $52 $174 $88 $15
House Republicans -$130 -$45 $7 $12 $31 $20 -$5
Senate Republicans -$239 $51 $7 $11 $26 $19 -$324
NOTE: Data not adjusted for inflation.

[114]


Presidents

* In February 2001, Republican President George W. Bush stated:

Many of you have talked about the need to pay down our national debt. I listened, and I agree. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to act now, and I hope you will join me to pay down $2 trillion in debt during the next 10 years. At the end of those 10 years, we will have paid down all the debt that is available to retire. That is more debt, repaid more quickly than has ever been repaid by any nation at any time in history.[115]

* From the time that Congress enacted Bush’s first major economic proposal (June 7, 2001[116]) until the time that he left office (January 20, 2009), the national debt rose from 53% of GDP to 74%, or an average of 2.7 percentage points per year.[117]

* During eight years in office, President Bush vetoed 12 bills, four of which were overridden by Congress and thus enacted without his approval.[118] These bills were projected by the Congressional Budget Office to increase the deficit by $26 billion during 2008–2022.[119]


* In February 2009, Democratic President Barack Obama stated:

I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay—and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control.[120]

* From the time that Congress enacted Obama’s first major economic proposal (February 17, 2009[121]) until September 30, 2016, the national debt rose from 74% of GDP to 105%, or an average of 4.0 percentage points per year.[122]

* As of November 4, 2016, President Obama has vetoed twelve bills, one of which has been overridden by Congress and thus enacted without his approval.[123] This bill is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to “have no significant effect on the federal budget.”[124]

Government Accounting

Trust Funds and the Two Main Categories of Debt

* Some federal programs (such as Social Security) have “trust funds” that are legally separated from the rest of the federal government.[125]

* When these programs spend less than the federal government allocates to them, their surpluses are loaned to the federal government. This creates a legal obligation for the federal government to pay money and interest to these programs, thus adding to the national debt.[126] [127] [128] [129] [130]

* The federal government divides the national debt into two main categories:[131] [132]

  1. Money that it owes to federal entities such as the Social Security program.
  2. Money that it owes to non-federal entities such as individuals, corporations, local governments, and foreign governments.[133] Also, money owed to the Federal Reserve is classified under this category, even though the Federal Reserve is a federal entity.[134] [135]

NOTE: Just Facts has identified numerous instances in which politicians and journalists have used terms that technically refer to the overall national debt, when in fact, they are only referring to a portion of it. In order to clear up some of the confusion this has created, below are common terms for the national debt categorized by their proper meanings:

  • Overall national debt: gross debt, federal debt, public debt[136]
  • Portion of the national debt owed to federal entities: debt held by government accounts, government-held debt, intragovernmental holdings[137] [138] [139]
  • Portion of the national debt owed to non-federal entities: debt held by the public, publicly held debt[140][141]

* On September 30, 2016, the national debt consisted of:

  • $5.4 trillion owed to federal entities
  • $14.2 trillion owed to non-federal entities
  • $19.6 trillion owed in total[142]

* The federal law that governs the repayment of the national debt draws no distinction between the debt owed to federal and non-federal entities. Both must be repaid with interest.[143]

* The White House Office,[144] [145] Congressional Budget Office,[146] and other federal agencies[147] sometimes exclude the debt owed to federal entities in their reckonings of the national debt because this portion of the debt “represents internal transactions of the government and thus has no effect on credit markets.”

* Federal programs to which this money is owed, such as Social Security and Medicare, include this money and the interest it generates in their assets and financial projections.[148] [149] [150]

* In the 2000 presidential race, the Gore-Liebermann campaign released a 192-page economic plan that contains over 150 uses of the word “debt.” In none of these instances does the plan mention or account for any of the debt owed to federal entities.[151] The same plan includes the debt owed to federal entities in the assets of the Social Security and Medicare programs.[152]


“Deficits” and “Surpluses”

* During the federal government’s 2010 fiscal year (October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010[153]), the national debt rose from $12.0 trillion to $13.6 trillion, thus increasing by $1.6 trillion.[154]

* The White House,[155] USA Today,[156] Reuters,[157] and other government and media entities reported that the 2010 federal “deficit” was $1.3 trillion.

* The difference between the national debt increase of $1.6 trillion and the reported deficit of $1.3 trillion is attributable to the following accounting practices:

  • When calculating the reported deficit, the federal government merges the finances of all federal programs into what is called the “unified budget.” Hence, the deficit does not account for the intergovernmental debt that arises when programs such as Social Security loan their surpluses to the federal government.[158]
  • When the federal government lays out money for programs such as TARP and student loans, the outgo is not fully counted in the deficit. The deficit reflects only what the government expects to lose or gain on these loans.[159] [160]

* PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning project of the Tampa Bay Times to “help you find the truth in politics,”[161] has stated that there were “several years of budget surpluses” during Bill Clinton’s presidency. This same article cites the rise in “national debt” during the tenure of George W. Bush.[162]

* Using the same criterion PolitiFact applied to Bush’s presidency (change in gross national debt), the national debt rose every year of Clinton’s presidency:

Year National Debt on Inauguration Date†

(billions)

1993 $4,188
1994 $4,501
1995 $4,797
1996 $4,988
1997 $5,310
1998 $5,496
1999 $5,624
2000 $5,706
2001 $5,728
† NOTE: PolitiFact used the inauguration date for its debt baseline.

The national debt also rose every fiscal year of Clinton’s presidency.

[163] [164]

Ownership

* As of September 30, 2016, the national debt consists of:

Amount Owed To: Portion of Total
$14.2 trillion owed to non-federal entities (i.e., publicly held debt) 72%
$5.4 trillion owed to federal entities (i.e., intragovernmental debt) 28%

[165]


Debt Owed to Non-Federal Entities

* Ownership of publicly held debt as of September 30, 2016:

Debt Owed to Non-Federal Entities

* Data from the chart above:

Entities Amount (billions) Portion of Total
Foreign & International $6,148 45%
Federal Reserve[166] $2,462 18%
Other Investors $1,343 10%
Mutual Funds $1,315 10%
State & Local Governments $687 5%
Banks & Savings Institutions $547 4%
Private Pension Funds $540 4%
Insurance Companies $297 2%
U.S. Savings Bonds $172 1%
State and Local Government Pension Funds $164 1%

[167]


Debt Owed to Foreign Entities

* Per the White House Office of Management and Budget (2016):

During most of American history, the Federal debt was held almost entirely by individuals and institutions within the United States. In the late 1960s, foreign holdings were just over $10 billion, less than 5 percent of the total Federal debt held by the public. Foreign holdings began to grow significantly starting in the 1970s and now represent almost half of outstanding [publicly held] debt.[168]

* Ownership of U.S. government debt by foreign creditors as of August 31, 2016:

Debt Owed to Foreign Entities

* Data from the chart above:

Country Amount (billions) Portion of Total
China, Mainland $1,185 19%
Japan $1,144 18%
Ireland $266 4%
Cayman Islands $264 4%
Brazil $256 4%
Switzerland $238 4%
Luxembourg $220 4%
United Kingdom $205 3%
Hong Kong $192 3%
Taiwan $190 3%
Others $2,037 33%
Total $6,196 100%

[169]

* Foreign purchases of U.S. government debt increase the demand for this debt, thus putting downward pressure on U.S. interest rates. Conversely, foreign sales of U.S. government debt place upward pressure on U.S. interest rates.[170] [171]

* Per a 2008 Congressional Research Service report, a “potentially serious short-term problem would emerge if China decided to suddenly” sell its holding of U.S. government debt. Possible effects could include:

  • “a more general financial reaction (or panic), in which all foreigners responded by reducing their holdings of U.S. assets”;
  • “a sudden and large depreciation in the value of the dollar”;
  • “a sudden and large increase in U.S. interest rates”;
  • a stock market fall; and/or
  • “a recession.”[172]

* The same report states:

The likelihood that China would suddenly reduce its holdings of U.S. securities is questionable because it is unlikely that doing so would be in China’s economic interests. First, a large sell-off of China’s U.S. holdings could diminish the value of these securities in international markets…. Second, such a move would diminish U.S. demand for Chinese imports…. A sharp reduction of U.S. imports from China could have a significant impact on China’s economy….[173]

* During a visit to China in February 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

By continuing to support American Treasury instruments [i.e., buy U.S. government debt] the Chinese are recognizing our interconnection. … We have to incur more debt. It would not be in China’s interest if we were unable to get our economy moving again. … The U.S. needs the investment in Treasury bonds to shore up its economy to continue to buy Chinese products.[174]

* In August 2007 during a currency dispute between the U.S. and China, two leading officials of Chinese Communist Party bodies suggested that China use the threat of selling U.S. debt as a “bargaining chip.”[175]

* In February 2009 during a dispute over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, a Chinese general made the following statements in the state-run magazine Outlook Weekly:

Our retaliation should not be restricted to merely military matters, and we should adopt a strategic package of counterpunches covering politics, military affairs, diplomacy and economics to treat both the symptoms and root cause of this disease. … [W]e could sanction them using economic means, such as dumping some U.S. government bonds.[176]

* One month later while appearing before China’s parliament, the head of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange said:

the U.S. Treasury market is important to us. … This is purely market-driven investment behavior. I would hope not to see this matter politicized.[177]

Debt Owed to Federal Entities

* Ownership of intergovernmental debt as of September 30, 2016:

Debt Owed to Federal Entities

* Data from the chart above:

Funds Amount (billions) Portion of Total
Social Security $2,843 53%
Civil Service Retirement and Disability $874 16%
Military Retirement $591 11%
Medicare $256 5%
Department of Defense Retiree Healthcare $213 4%
Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits $51 1%
Other $572 11%

[178]

Media

Budget Cuts

* In April 2011, journalists reported on a $38 billion federal budget cut agreement with the following headlines and phraseology:

  • “New Cuts Detailed in Agreement for $38 Billion in Reductions”; “deep budget cuts in programs for the poor, law enforcement, the environment and civic projects” – Los Angeles Times[179]
  • “Congress Sends Budget Cut Bill to Obama”; “cutting a record $38 billion from domestic spending” – Associated Press[180]
  • “Budget Deal to Cut $38 Billion Averts Shutdown”; “Republicans were able to force significant spending concessions from Democrats….” – New York Times[181]

* None of these articles reported that this figure of $38 billion in cuts was primarily relative to a portion of the budget called “discretionary non-emergency appropriations.”[182] Relative to the entire federal budget, this cut left a projected spending increase of $135 billion from 2010 to 2011. This equates to an inflation-adjusted increase of $49 billion or 0.1 percentage points of GDP:[183]

Federal Outlays

[184]

* None of the articles quoted above contains a budget-wide frame of reference for the cuts. A spending reduction of $38 billion equates to 1.0% of the estimated 2011 budget or 2.7% of the projected deficit:

Budget Cut

[185]


Bush Tax Cuts

* In February 2010, Fareed Zakaria of CNN stated:

Now, please understand that the Bush tax cuts are the single largest part of the black hole that is the federal budget deficit.[186]

* In 2010, the Bush tax cuts lowered federal revenues by about $283 billion.[187] [188] This was equivalent to 8% of the federal budget or 22% of the deficit.[189]

* Per the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), “Most parameters of the tax code are not indexed for real income growth, and some are not indexed for inflation.” Thus, if tax cuts are not periodically implemented, average federal tax rates “increase in the long run.”[190]

* In 2000, the year before the first Bush tax cuts were passed,[191] the federal government collected revenues equal to 20.4% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), the highest level in the history of the United States.[192] Over the previous 30 years, federal revenues averaged 18.3% of GDP.[193]

* In 2000, the stock market “dot.com” bubble burst,[194] the NASDAQ lost 39% of its value,[195] and profits for nonfinancial corporations fell by 18%.[196] In the first quarter of 2001, the nation’s GDP contracted and a recession began.[197] [198]

* In June 2001 and May 2003, Congress passed and President Bush signed laws that implemented various tax cuts.[199] [200]

* After the Bush tax cuts were fully implemented, federal revenues were 17.8% of GDP in 2005, 18.5% in 2006, and 18.6% in 2007.[201] Average federal revenues for the 30 years preceding the Bush tax cuts were 18.4%.[202]

* The Great Recession began in December 2007,[203] and federal revenues declined to 17.7% of GDP in 2008.[204]

* In February 2009, Congress passed and President Obama signed a law that implemented various tax cuts.[205]

* Federal revenues declined to 15.7% of GDP in 2009 and 16.4% in 2010.[206]

* Federal spending rose from 21.0% of GDP in 2007 to 26.5% in 2010.[207] Average federal spending for the 30 years preceding the Great Recession was 21.8%.[208]


The “Do Nothing” Plan

* In April 2011, Ezra Klein of the Washington Post posted a graph of spending and revenue projections based upon CBO’s “current law” scenario and wrote that it:

shows what happens if we do … nothing. The answer, as you can see, is that the budget comes roughly into balance.[209]

* Klein’s graph and commentary omitted the interest and outcome of the national debt under this plan.[210] In the “do nothing” scenario, outlays were projected to exceed revenues every year through 2084, and the publicly held debt was projected to increase from 62% of GDP in 2010, to 74% in 2030, 90% in 2050, and 113% in 2084.[211]

* In the same commentary, Klein wrote that the “current law” scenario is “a pretty good plan” that contains:

a balanced mix of revenues, through returning tax rates to Clinton-era levels and implementing the taxes in the Affordable Care Act, and program cuts … in Medicare….[212]

* Under this scenario:

  • Certain elements of the tax code are not indexed for inflation or wage growth. Consequently, taxpayers are shifted over time into higher tax brackets.
  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, by 2020 revenues “reach higher levels relative to the size of the economy than ever recorded in the nation’s history.”
  • Revenues as a portion of GDP continue climbing through 2084, rising 69% higher than the average of the past 40 years and 47% higher than ever recorded in the history of the United States.[213] [214]
  • As a portion of GDP, federal spending without interest on the national debt rises by 2084 to 68% higher than the average of the past 40 years.[215]

Context

* Without mentioning the role of Congress in taxes, spending, or the national debt,[216] [217] PolitiFact (in the same article cited above) wrote that the national debt increased by $5.73 trillion “under” George W. Bush whereas there were budget surpluses “at the end of the Clinton administration.”[218]

* Below are the fluctuations in national debt organized by the tenures of recent presidents and congressional majorities:

Political Power

Dates

Average Annual Change in National Debt

(Percentage Points of GDP)

Bill Clinton with Democratic House and Senate 1/20/93 – 1/4/95 0.9
Bill Clinton with Republican House and Senate 1/4/95 – 1/19/01 -1.6
George W. Bush with Republican House and Senate 1/19/01 – 6/6/01, 11/12/02 – 1/4/07 0.8
George W. Bush with Republican House and Democratic Senate 6/6/01 – 11/12/02 2.3
George W. Bush with Democratic House and Senate 1/4/07 – 1/20/09 6.5
Barack Obama with Democratic House and Senate 1/20/09 – 1/4/11 9.3
Barack Obama with Republican House and Democratic Senate 1/5/11 – 1/6/15 1.9

[219]

* Other factors impacting the national debt include but are not limited to: legislation passed by previous congresses and presidents,[220] economic cycles, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, demographics, and the actions of U.S. citizens and foreign governments.[221]

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Three Years Behind The Curve Too Late Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Increases Target Federal Funds Rate to .75-1.0% — Financial Repression of Savers Slowly Continues — Videos

Posted on March 15, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Banking, Blogroll, Books, Business, College, Communications, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Corruption, Crisis, Documentary, Economics, Education, Employment, Faith, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, History of Economic Thought, Language, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Macroeconomics, media, Monetary Policy, Money, Movies, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Politics, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Sociology, Speech, Strategy, Television, Trade Policiy, Tutorials, Video, Water, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Yellen Calms Fears Fed’s Policy Trigger Finger Is Getting Itchy

March 15, 2017, 1:00 PM CDT March 15, 2017, 5:02 PM CDT
  • Policy makers still project three total rate hikes for 2017
  • FOMC sticks with ‘gradual’ plan for removing accommodation

Fed Raises Benchmark Lending Rate a Quarter Point

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sought to reassure investors that the central bank’s latest interest-rate increase wasn’t a paradigm shift to a trigger-happy policy driven by fears of faster inflation.

Speaking to reporters after the Fed’s quarter percentage-point move on Wednesday, Yellen said the central bank was willing to tolerate inflation temporarily overshootingits 2 percent goal and that it intended to keep its policy accommodative for “some time.”

“The simple message is the economy’s doing well. We have confidence in the robustness of the economy and its resilience to shocks,” she said.

As a result, the Fed is sticking with its policy of gradually raising interest rates, Yellen said. In their first forecasts in three months, Fed policy makers penciled in two more quarter-point rate increases this year and three in 2018, unchanged from their projections in December.

Today’s decision “does not represent a reassessment of the economic outlook or of the appropriate course for monetary policy,” the Fed chief said.

Speculation of a more aggressive Fed had mounted in recent days after a host of central bank officials, including Yellen herself, went out of their way to telegraph to financial markets that a rate hike was imminent. The expectations were further fueled by news of rising inflation.

Stocks Advance

Stocks rose and bond yields fell as investors viewed the statement from the Federal Open Market Committee and Yellen’s remarks afterward as a sign that the Fed isn’t in a hurry to remove monetary stimulus. The FOMC raised the target range for the federal funds rate to 0.75 percent to 1 percent, as expected, but Yellen’s lack of urgency to snuff out inflation was a surprise.

R.J. Gallo, a fixed-income investment manager at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh, said the chorus of Fed speakers before this meeting led investors to expect a move up in the number of projected rate hikes this year, and even upgrades by Fed officials in the levels of inflation and growth they anticipated.

None of that materialized.

“You didn’t get any of those things,” Gallo said, which explains why Treasury yields quickly dropped after the Fed released the FOMC statement and a new set of economic projections. “The expectation that Fed was getting more hawkish had to come out of the market.”

The U.S. economy has mostly met the central bank’s goals of full employment and stable prices, and may get further support if President Donald Trump delivers promised fiscal stimulus. Investor and business confidence has soared since Trump won the presidency in November, buoyed by his vows to cut taxes, lift infrastructure spending and ease regulations.

Still, the data don’t show an economy that’s heating up rapidly — a point Yellen herself made after the third rate hike since the 2007-2009 recession ended. In fact, the economy may have “more room to run,” she said.

Stronger business and consumer confidence hasn’t yet translated into increased investment and spending, said Yellen.

“It’s uncertain just how much sentiment actually impacts spending decisions, and I wouldn’t say at this point that I have seen hard evidence of any change in spending decisions,” said the Fed Chair. “Most of the business people that we’ve talked to also have a wait-and-see attitude.”

Retail sales in February grew at the slowest pace since August, a government report showed earlier Wednesday. The Atlanta Fed’s model for GDP predicts an expansion of 0.9 percent in the first quarter, less than a third the pace Trump is aiming for.

Fiscal Stimulus

Asked about the potential for a fiscal boost, Yellen made clear the Fed is still waiting for more concrete policy plans to emerge from the Trump administration before adapting monetary policy in reaction.

“There is great uncertainty about the timing, the size and the character of policy changes that may be put in place,” Yellen said. “I don’t think that’s a decision or set of decisions that we need to make until we know more about what policy changes will go into effect.”

Yellen disputed suggestions that the Fed was on a collision course with the Trump administration over its plans to foster faster economic growth through tax cuts and deregulation. “We would welcome stronger economic growth in the context of price stability,” she said.

She said she had met Trump briefly and had gotten together a couple of times with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss the economy and financial regulation.

Further underscoring their lack of urgency, Fed officials repeated a commitment to maintain their balance-sheet reinvestment policy until rate increases were well under way. Yellen said officials had discussed the process of reducing the balance sheet gradually, but had made no decisions and would continue to debate the topic.

Policy makers forecast inflation will reach 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter this year, and 2 percent in both 2018 and 2019, according to quarterly median estimates released with the FOMC statement. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation rose 1.9 percent in the 12 months through January, just shy of its target.

Yellen pointed out, though, that core inflation continues to run somewhat further below 2 percent. That rate, which strips out food and energy costs, stood at 1.7 percent in January. The Fed’s new forecast for the core rate at the end of this year edged up to 1.9 percent, from 1.8 percent in December.

“The committee will carefully monitor actual and expected inflation developments relative to its symmetric inflation goal,” the Fed said. Discussing the word symmetric in the statement, Yellen said during her press conference that the Fed was not shooting to push inflation over 2 percent but recognized that it could temporarily go above it. Two percent is a target, she reiterated, not a ceiling.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-15/fed-raises-benchmark-rate-as-inflation-approaches-2-target

Changes in the federal funds rate will always affect the U.S. dollar. When the Federal Reserve increases the federal funds rate, it normally reduces inflationary pressure and works to appreciate the dollar.

Since June 2006, however, the Fed has maintained a federal funds rate of close to 0%. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the federal funds rate fluctuated between 0-0.25%, and is now 0.75%.

The Fed used this monetary policy to help achieve maximum employment and stable prices. Now that the 2008 financial crisis has largely subsided, the Fed will look to increase interest rates to continue to achieve employment and to stabilize prices.

Inflation of the U.S. Dollar

The best way to achieve full employment and stable prices is to set the inflation rate of the dollar at 2%. In 2011, the Fed officially adopted a 2% annual increase in the price index for personal consumption expenditures as its target. When the economy is weak, inflation naturally falls; when the economy is strong, rising wages increase inflation. Keeping inflation at a growth rate of 2% helps the economy grow at a healthy rate.

Adjustments to the federal funds rate can also affect inflation in the United States. The Fed controls the economy by increasing interest rates when the economy is growing too fast. This encourages people to save more and spend less, reducing inflationary pressure. Conversely, when the economy is in a recession or growing too slowly, the Fed reduces interest rates to stimulate spending, which increases inflation.

During the 2008 financial crisis, the low federal funds rate should have increased inflation. Over this period, the federal funds rate was set near 0%, which encouraged spending and would normally increase inflation.

However, inflation is still well below the 2% target, which is contrary to the normal effects of low interest rates. The Fed cites one-off factors, such as falling oil prices and the strengthening dollar, as the reasons why inflation has remained low in a low interest environment.

The Fed believes that these factors will eventually fade and that inflation will increase above the target 2%. To prevent this eventual increase in inflation, hiking the federal funds rate reduces inflationary pressure and cause inflation of the dollar to remain around 2%.

Appreciation of the U.S. Dollar

Increases in the federal funds rate also result in a strengthening of the U.S. dollar. Other ways that the dollar can appreciate include increases in average wages and increases in overall consumption. However, although jobs are being created, wage rates are stagnant.

Without an increase in wage rates to go along with a strengthening job market, consumption won’t increase enough to sustain economic growth. Additionally, consumption remains subdued due to the fact that the labor force participation rate was close to its 35-year low in 2015. The Fed has kept interest rates low because a lower federal funds rate supports business expansions, which leads to more jobs and higher consumption. This has all worked to keep appreciation of the U.S. dollar low.

However, the U.S. is ahead of the other developed markets in terms of its economic recovery. Although the Fed raises rates cautiously, the U.S. could see higher interest rates before the other developed economies.

Overall, under normal economic conditions, increases in the federal funds rate reduce inflation and increase the appreciation of the U.S. dollar.

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/101215/how-fed-fund-rate-hikes-affect-us-dollar.asp

Financial repression

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with economic repression, a type of political repression.

Financial repression refers to “policies that result in savers earning returns below the rate of inflation” in order to allow banks to “provide cheap loans to companies and governments, reducing the burden of repayments”.[1] It can be particularly effective at liquidating government debt denominated in domestic currency.[2] It can also lead to a large expansions in debt “to levels evoking comparisons with the excesses that generated Japan’s lost decade and the Asian financial crisis” in 1997.[1]

The term was introduced in 1973 by Stanford economists Edward S. Shaw and Ronald I. McKinnon[3][4] in order to “disparage growth-inhibiting policies in emerging markets“.

Mechanism

Financial repression consists of the following:[5]

  1. Explicit or indirect capping of interest rates, such as on government debt and deposit rates (e.g., Regulation Q).
  2. Government ownership or control of domestic banks and financial institutions with barriers that limit other institutions from entering the market.
  3. High reserve requirements.
  4. Creation or maintenance of a captive domestic market for government debt, achieved by requiring banks to hold government debt via capital requirements, or by prohibiting or disincentivising alternatives.
  5. Government restrictions on the transfer of assets abroad through the imposition of capital controls.

These measures allow governments to issue debt at lower interest rates. A low nominal interest rate can reduce debt servicing costs, while negative real interest rates erodes the real value of government debt.[5] Thus, financial repression is most successful in liquidating debts when accompanied by inflation and can be considered a form of taxation,[6] or alternatively a form of debasement.[7]

The size of the financial repression tax for 24 emerging markets from 1974 to 1987. Their results showed that financial repression exceeded 2% of GDP for seven countries, and greater than 3% for five countries. For five countries (India, Mexico, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe) it represented approximately 20% of tax revenue. In the case of Mexico financial repression was 6% of GDP, or 40% of tax revenue.[8]

Financial repression is categorized as “macroprudential regulation“—i.e., government efforts to “ensure the health of an entire financial system.[2]

Examples

After World War II

Financial repression “played an important role in reducing debt-to-GDP ratios after World War II” by keeping real interest rates for government debt below 1% for two-thirds of the time between 1945 and 1980, the United States was able to “inflate away” the large debt (122% of GDP) left over from the Great Depression and World War II.[2] In the UK, government debt declined from 216% of GDP in 1945 to 138% ten years later in 1955.[9]

China

China‘s economic growth has been attributed to financial repression thanks to “low returns on savings and the cheap loans that it makes possible”. This has allowed China to rely on savings-financed investments for economic growth. However, because low returns also dampens consumer spending, household expenditures account for “a smaller share of GDP in China than in any other major economy”.[1] However, as of December 2014, the People’s Bank of China “started to undo decades of financial repression” and the government now allows Chinese savers to collect up to a 3.3% return on one-year deposits. At China’s 1.6% inflation rate, this is a “high real-interest rate compared to other major economies”.[1]

After the 2008 economic recession

In a 2011 NBER working paper, Carmen Reinhart and Maria Belen Sbrancia speculate on a possible return by governments to this form of debt reduction in order to deal with high debt levels following the 2008 economic crisis.[5]

“To get access to capital, Austria has restricted capital flows to foreign subsidiaries in central and eastern Europe. Select pension funds have also been transferred to governments in France, Portugal, Ireland and Hungary, enabling them to re-allocate toward sovereign bonds.”[10]

Criticism

Critics[who?] argue that if this view was true, investors (i.e., capital-seeking parties) would be inclined to demand capital in large quantities and would be buying capital goods from this capital. This high demand for capital goods would certainly lead to inflation and thus the central banks would be forced to raise interest rates again. As a boom pepped by low interest rates fails to appear these days in industrialized countries, this is a sign that the low interest rates seem to be necessary to ensure an equilibrium on the capital market, thus to balance capital-supply—i.e., savers—on one side and capital-demand—i.e., investors and the government—on the other. This view argues that interest rates would be even lower if it were not for the high government debt ratio (i.e., capital demand from the government).

Free-market economists argue that financial repression crowds out private-sector investment, thus undermining growth. On the other hand, “postwar politicians clearly decided this was a price worth paying to cut debt and avoid outright default or draconian spending cuts. And the longer the gridlock over fiscal reform rumbles on, the greater the chance that ‘repression’ comes to be seen as the least of all evils”.[11]

Also, financial repression has been called a “stealth tax” that “rewards debtors and punishes savers—especially retirees” because their investments will no longer generate the expected return, which is income for retirees.[10][12] “One of the main goals of financial repression is to keep nominal interest rates lower than they would be in more competitive markets. Other things equal, this reduces the government’s interest expenses for a given stock of debt and contributes to deficit reduction. However, when financial repression produces negative real interest rates (nominal rates below the inflation rate), it reduces or liquidates existing debts and becomes the equivalent of a tax—a transfer from creditors (savers) to borrowers, including the government.”[2]

See also

Reform:

General:

References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “China Savers Prioritized Over Banks by PBOC”. Bloomberg. November 25, 2014.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Carmen M. Reinhart, Jacob F. Kirkegaard, and M. Belen Sbrancia, “Financial Repression Redux”, IMF Finance and Development, June 2011, p. 22-26
  3. Jump up^ Shaw, Edward S. Financial Deepening in Economic Development. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973
  4. Jump up^ McKinnon, Ronald I. Money and Capital in Economic Development. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1973
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c Carmen M. Reinhart and M. Belen Sbrancia, “The Liquidation of Government Debt”, IMF, 2011, p. 19
  6. Jump up^ Reinhart, Carmen M. and Rogoff, Kenneth S., This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008, p. 143
  7. Jump up^ Bill Gross, “The Caine Mutiny Part 2”, PIMCO
  8. Jump up^ Giovannini, Alberto and de Melo, Martha, “Government Revenue from Financial Repression”, The American Economic Review, Vol. 83, No. 4 Sep. 1993 (pp. 953-963)
  9. Jump up^ “The great repression”. The Economist. 16 June 2011.
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b “Financial Repression 101”. Allianz Global Investors. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  11. Jump up^ Gillian Tett, “Policymakers learn a new and alarming catchphrase”, Financial Times, May 9, 2011
  12. Jump up^ Amerman, Daniel (September 12, 2011). “The 2nd Edge of Modern Financial Repression: Manipulating Inflation Indexes to Steal from Retirees & Public Wor

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_repression

Federal funds rate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

10 year treasury compared to the Federal Funds Rate

Federal funds rate and capacity utilization in manufacturing.

In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions’ reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances. The federal funds rate is an important benchmark in financial markets.[1][2]

The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is determined by a meeting of the members of the Federal Open Market Committee which normally occurs eight times a year about seven weeks apart. The committee may also hold additional meetings and implement target rate changes outside of its normal schedule.

The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to influence the supply of money in the U.S. economy[3] to make the federal funds effective rate follow the federal funds target rate.

Mechanism

Financial Institutions are obligated by law to maintain certain levels of reserves, either as reserves with the Fed or as vault cash. The level of these reserves is determined by the outstanding assets and liabilities of each depository institution, as well as by the Fed itself, but is typically 10%[4] of the total value of the bank’s demand accounts (depending on bank size). In the range of $9.3 million to $43.9 million, for transaction deposits (checking accounts, NOWs, and other deposits that can be used to make payments) the reserve requirement in 2007-2008 was 3 percent of the end-of-the-day daily average amount held over a two-week period. Transaction deposits over $43.9 million held at the same depository institution carried a 10 percent reserve requirement.

For example, assume a particular U.S. depository institution, in the normal course of business, issues a loan. This dispenses money and decreases the ratio of bank reserves to money loaned. If its reserve ratio drops below the legally required minimum, it must add to its reserves to remain compliant with Federal Reserve regulations. The bank can borrow the requisite funds from another bank that has a surplus in its account with the Fed. The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The nominal rate is a target set by the governors of the Federal Reserve, which they enforce by open market operations and adjusting the interest paid on required and excess reserve balances. That nominal rate is almost always what is meant by the media referring to the Federal Reserve “changing interest rates.” The actual federal funds rate generally lies within a range of that target rate, as the Federal Reserve cannot set an exact value through open market operations.

Another way banks can borrow funds to keep up their required reserves is by taking a loan from the Federal Reserve itself at the discount window. These loans are subject to audit by the Fed, and the discount rate is usually higher than the federal funds rate. Confusion between these two kinds of loans often leads to confusion between the federal funds rate and the discount rate. Another difference is that while the Fed cannot set an exact federal funds rate, it does set the specific discount rate.

The federal funds rate target is decided by the governors at Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. The FOMC members will either increase, decrease, or leave the rate unchanged depending on the meeting’s agenda and the economic conditions of the U.S. It is possible to infer the market expectations of the FOMC decisions at future meetings from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Fed Funds futures contracts, and these probabilities are widely reported in the financial media.

Applications

Interbank borrowing is essentially a way for banks to quickly raise money. For example, a bank may want to finance a major industrial effort but may not have the time to wait for deposits or interest (on loan payments) to come in. In such cases the bank will quickly raise this amount from other banks at an interest rate equal to or higher than the Federal funds rate.

Raising the federal funds rate will dissuade banks from taking out such inter-bank loans, which in turn will make cash that much harder to procure. Conversely, dropping the interest rates will encourage banks to borrow money and therefore invest more freely.[5] This interest rate is used as a regulatory tool to control how freely the U.S. economy operates.

By setting a higher discount rate the Federal Bank discourages banks from requisitioning funds from the Federal Bank, yet positions itself as a lender of last resort.

Comparison with LIBOR

Though the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the federal funds rate are concerned with the same action, i.e. interbank loans, they are distinct from one another, as follows:

  • The target federal funds rate is a target interest rate that is set by the FOMC for implementing U.S. monetary policies.
  • The (effective) federal funds rate is achieved through open market operations at the Domestic Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which deals primarily in domestic securities (U.S. Treasury and federal agencies’ securities).[6]
  • LIBOR is based on a questionnaire where a selection of banks guess the rates at which they could borrow money from other banks.
  • LIBOR may or may not be used to derive business terms. It is not fixed beforehand and is not meant to have macroeconomic ramifications.[7]

Predictions by the market

Considering the wide impact a change in the federal funds rate can have on the value of the dollar and the amount of lending going to new economic activity, the Federal Reserve is closely watched by the market. The prices of Option contracts on fed funds futures (traded on the Chicago Board of Trade) can be used to infer the market’s expectations of future Fed policy changes. Based on CME Group 30-Day Fed Fund futures prices, which have long been used to express the market’s views on the likelihood of changes in U.S. monetary policy, the CME Group FedWatch tool allows market participants to view the probability of an upcoming Fed Rate hike. One set of such implied probabilities is published by the Cleveland Fed.

Historical rates

As of December 16, 2008, the most recent change the FOMC has made to the funds target rate is a 75 to 100 basis point cut from 1.0% to a range of zero to 0.25%. According to Jack A. Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, one reason for this unprecedented move of having a range, rather than a specific rate, was because a rate of 0% could have had problematic implications for money market funds, whose fees could then outpace yields.[8] This followed the 50 basis point cut on October 29, 2008, and the unusually large 75 basis point cut made during a special January 22, 2008 meeting, as well as a 50 basis point cut on January 30, 2008, a 75 basis point cut on March 18, 2008, and a 50 basis point cut on October 8, 2008.[9]

Federal funds rate history and recessions.png

Explanation of federal funds rate decisions

When the Federal Open Market Committee wishes to reduce interest rates they will increase the supply of money by buying government securities. When additional supply is added and everything else remains constant, price normally falls. The price here is the interest rate (cost of money) and specifically refers to the Federal Funds Rate. Conversely, when the Committee wishes to increase the Fed Funds Rate, they will instruct the Desk Manager to sell government securities, thereby taking the money they earn on the proceeds of those sales out of circulation and reducing the money supply. When supply is taken away and everything else remains constant, price (or in this case interest rates) will normally rise.[10]

The Federal Reserve has responded to a potential slow-down by lowering the target federal funds rate during recessions and other periods of lower growth. In fact, the Committee’s lowering has recently predated recessions,[9] in order to stimulate the economy and cushion the fall. Reducing the Fed Funds Rate makes money cheaper, allowing an influx of credit into the economy through all types of loans.

The charts linked below show the relation between S&P 500 and interest rates.

  • July 13, 1990 — Sept 4, 1992: 8.00%–3.00% (Includes 1990–1991 recession)[11][12]
  • Feb 1, 1995 — Nov 17, 1998: 6.00–4.75 [13][14][15]
  • May 16, 2000 — June 25, 2003: 6.50–1.00 (Includes 2001 recession)[16][17][18]
  • June 29, 2006 — (Oct. 29 2008): 5.25–1.00[19]
  • Dec 16, 2008 — 0.0–0.25[20]
  • Dec 16, 2015 — 0.25-0.50[21]
  • Dec 14, 2016 — 0.50-0.75[22]
  • Mar 15, 2017 — 0.75-1.00[23]

Bill Gross of PIMCO suggested that in the prior 15 years ending in 2007, in each instance where the fed funds rate was higher than the nominal GDP growth rate, assets such as stocks and/or housing fell.[24]

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ “Fedpoints: Federal Funds”. Federal Reserve Bank of New York. August 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  2. Jump up^ “The Implementation of Monetary Policy”. The Federal Reserve System: Purposes & Functions (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Federal Reserve Board. 24 August 2011. p. 4. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  3. Jump up^ “Monetary Policy, Open Market Operations”. Federal Reserve Bank. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  4. Jump up^ “Reserve Requirements”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  5. Jump up^ “Fed funds rate”. Bankrate, Inc. March 2016.
  6. Jump up^ Cheryl L. Edwards (November 1997). Gerard Sinzdak. “Open Market Operations in the 1990s” (PDF). Federal Reserve Bulletin (PDF).
  7. Jump up^ “BBA LIBOR – Frequently asked questions”. British Bankers’ Association. March 21, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16.
  8. Jump up^ “4:56 p.m. US-Closing Stocks”. Associated Press. December 16, 2008.[dead link]
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b “Historical Changes of the Target Federal Funds and Discount Rates, 1971 to present”. New York Federal Reserve Branch. February 19, 2010. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008.
  10. Jump up^ David Waring (2008-02-19). “An Explanation of How The Fed Moves Interest Rates”. InformedTrades.com. Archived from the original on 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
  11. Jump up^ “$SPX 1990-06-12 1992-10-04 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  12. Jump up^ “$SPX 1992-08-04 1995-03-01 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  13. Jump up^ “$SPX 1995-01-01 1997-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  14. Jump up^ “$SPX 1996-12-01 1998-10-17 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  15. Jump up^ “$SPX 1998-09-17 2000-06-16 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  16. Jump up^ “$SPX 2000-04-16 2002-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  17. Jump up^ “$SPX 2002-01-01 2003-07-25 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  18. Jump up^ “$SPX 2003-06-25 2006-06-29 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  19. Jump up^ “$SPX 2006-06-29 2008-06-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  20. Jump up^ “Press Release”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2008.
  21. Jump up^ “Open Market Operations”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  22. Jump up^ “Decisions Regarding Monetary Policy Implementation”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System.
  23. Jump up^ Cox, Jeff (2017-03-15). “Fed raises rates at March meeting”. CNBC. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
  24. Jump up^ Shaw, Richard (January 7, 2007). “The Bond Yield Curve as an Economic Crystal Ball”. Retrieved 3 April 2011.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_funds_rate

Monetary policy of the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from U.S. monetary policy)
United States M2 money supply
% change in money supply
Money supply changes monthly basis

Monetary policy concerns the actions of a central bank or other regulatory authorities that determine the size and rate of growth of the money supply.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve is in charge of monetary policy, and implements it primarily by performing operations that influence short-term interest rates.

Money supply[edit]

Main article: Money supply

The money supply has different components, generally broken down into “narrow” and “broad” money, reflecting the different degrees of liquidity (‘spendability’) of each different type, as broader forms of money can be converted into narrow forms of money (or may be readily accepted as money by others, such as personal checks).[1]

For example, demand deposits are technically promises to pay on demand, while savings deposits are promises to pay subject to some withdrawal restrictions, and Certificates of Deposit are promises to pay only at certain specified dates; each can be converted into money, but “narrow” forms of money can be converted more readily. The Federal Reserve directly controls only the most narrow form of money, physical cash outstanding along with the reserves of banks throughout the country (known as M0 or the monetary base); the Federal Reserve indirectly influences the supply of other types of money.[1]

Broad money includes money held in deposit balances in banks and other forms created in the financial system. Basic economics also teaches that the money supply shrinks when loans are repaid;[2][3] however, the money supply will not necessarily decrease depending on the creation of new loans and other effects. Other than loans, investment activities of commercial banks and the Federal Reserve also increase and decrease the money supply.[4] Discussion of “money” often confuses the different measures and may lead to misguided commentary on monetary policy and misunderstandings of policy discussions.[5]

Structure of modern US institutions[edit]

Federal Reserve[edit]

Monetary policy in the US is determined and implemented by the US Federal Reserve System, commonly referred to as the Federal Reserve. Established in 1913 by the Federal Reserve Act to provide central banking functions,[6] the Federal Reserve System is a quasi-public institution. Ostensibly, the Federal Reserve Banks are 12 private banking corporations;[7][8][9] they are independent in their day-to-day operations, but legislatively accountable to Congress through the auspices of Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

The Board of Governors is an independent governmental agency consisting of seven officials and their support staff of over 1800 employees headquartered in Washington, D.C.[10] It is independent in the sense that the Board currently operates without official obligation to accept the requests or advice of any elected official with regard to actions on the money supply,[11]and its methods of funding also preserve independence. The Governors are nominated by the President of the United States, and nominations must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.[12]

The presidents of the Federal Reserve Banks are nominated by each bank’s respective Board of Directors, but must also be approved by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is generally considered to have the most important position, followed by the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.[12] The Federal Reserve System is primarily funded by interest collected on their portfolio of securities from the US Treasury, and the Fed has broad discretion in drafting its own budget,[13] but, historically, nearly all the interest the Federal Reserve collects is rebated to the government each year.[14]

The Federal Reserve has three main mechanisms for manipulating the money supply. It can buy or sell treasury securities. Selling securities has the effect of reducing the monetary base (because it accepts money in return for purchase of securities), taking that money out of circulation. Purchasing treasury securities increases the monetary base (because it pays out hard currency in exchange for accepting securities). Secondly, the discount rate can be changed. And finally, the Federal Reserve can adjust the reserve requirement, which can affect the money multiplier; the reserve requirement is adjusted only infrequently, and was last adjusted in 1992.[15]

In practice, the Federal Reserve uses open market operations to influence short-term interest rates, which is the primary tool of monetary policy. The federal funds rate, for which the Federal Open Market Committee announces a target on a regular basis, reflects one of the key rates for interbank lending. Open market operations change the supply of reserve balances, and the federal funds rate is sensitive to these operations.[16]

In theory, the Federal Reserve has unlimited capacity to influence this rate, and although the federal funds rate is set by banks borrowing and lending funds to each other, the federal funds rate generally stays within a limited range above and below the target (as participants are aware of the Fed’s power to influence this rate).

Assuming a closed economy, where foreign capital or trade does not affect the money supply, when money supply increases, interest rates go down. Businesses and consumers have a lower cost of capital and can increase spending and capital improvement projects. This encourages short-term growth. Conversely, when the money supply falls, interest rates go up, increasing the cost of capital and leading to more conservative spending and investment. The Federal reserve increases interest rates to combat Inflation.

U.S. Treasury[edit]

Private commercial banks[edit]

When money is deposited in a bank, it can then be lent out to another person. If the initial deposit was $100 and the bank lends out $100 to another customer the money supply has increased by $100. However, because the depositor can ask for the money back, banks have to maintain minimum reserves to service customer needs. If the reserve requirement is 10% then, in the earlier example, the bank can lend $90 and thus the money supply increases by only $90. The reserve requirement therefore acts as a limit on this multiplier effect. Because the reserve requirement only applies to the more narrow forms of money creation (corresponding to M1), but does not apply to certain types of deposits (such as time deposits), reserve requirements play a limited role in monetary policy.[17]

Money creation[edit]

Main article: Money creation

Currently, the US government maintains over US$800 billion in cash money (primarily Federal Reserve Notes) in circulation throughout the world,[18][19] up from a sum of less than $30 billion in 1959. Below is an outline of the process which is currently used to control the amount of money in the economy. The amount of money in circulation generally increases to accommodate money demanded by the growth of the country’s production. The process of money creation usually goes as follows:

  1. Banks go through their daily transactions. Of the total money deposited at banks, significant and predictable proportions often remain deposited, and may be referred to as “core deposits.” Banks use the bulk of “non-moving” money (their stable or “core” deposit base) by loaning it out.[20] Banks have a legal obligation to keep a certain fraction of bank deposit money on-hand at all times.[21]
  2. In order to raise additional money to cover excess spending, Congress increases the size of the National Debt by issuing securities typically in the form of a Treasury Bond[22] (see United States Treasury security). It offers the Treasury security for sale, and someone pays cash to the government in exchange. Banks are often the purchasers of these securities, and these securities currently play a crucial role in the process.
  3. The 12-person Federal Open Market Committee, which consists of the heads of the Federal Reserve System (the seven Federal governors and five bank presidents), meets eight times a year to determine how they would like to influence the economy.[23] They create a plan called the country’s “monetary policy” which sets targets for things such as interest rates.[24]
  4. Every business day, the Federal Reserve System engages in Open market operations.[25] If the Federal Reserve wants to increase the money supply, it will buy securities (such as U.S. Treasury Bonds) anonymously from banks in exchange for dollars. If the Federal Reserve wants to decrease the money supply, it will sell securities to the banks in exchange for dollars, taking those dollars out of circulation.[26][27] When the Federal Reserve makes a purchase, it credits the seller’s reserve account (with the Federal Reserve). The money that it deposits into the seller’s account is not transferred from any existing funds, therefore it is at this point that the Federal Reserve has created High-powered money.
  5. By means of open market operations, the Federal Reserve affects the free reserves of commercial banks in the country.[28] Anna Schwartz explains that “if the Federal Reserve increases reserves, a single bank can make loans up to the amount of its excess reserves, creating an equal amount of deposits”.[26][27][29]
  6. Since banks have more free reserves, they may loan out the money, because holding the money would amount to accepting the cost of foregone interest[28][30] When a loan is granted, a person is generally granted the money by adding to the balance on their bank account.[31]
  7. This is how the Federal Reserve’s high-powered money is multiplied into a larger amount of broad money, through bank loans; as written in a particular case study, “as banks increase or decrease loans, the nation’s (broad) money supply increases or decreases.”[3] Once granted these additional funds, the recipient has the option to withdraw physical currency (dollar bills and coins) from the bank, which will reduce the amount of money available for further on-lending (and money creation) in the banking system.[32]
  8. In many cases, account-holders will request cash withdrawals, so banks must keep a supply of cash handy. When they believe they need more cash than they have on hand, banks can make requests for cash with the Federal Reserve. In turn, the Federal Reserve examines these requests and places an order for printed money with the US Treasury Department.[33] The Treasury Department sends these requests to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (to make dollar bills) and the Bureau of the Mint (to stamp the coins).
  9. The U.S. Treasury sells this newly printed money to the Federal Reserve for the cost of printing.[citation needed] This is about 6 cents per bill for any denomination.[34] Aside from printing costs, the Federal Reserve must pledge collateral (typically government securities such as Treasury bonds) to put new money, which does not replace old notes, into circulation.[35]This printed cash can then be distributed to banks, as needed.

Though the Federal Reserve authorizes and distributes the currency printed by the Treasury (the primary component of the narrow monetary base), the broad money supply is primarily created by commercial banks through the money multiplier mechanism.[29][31][36][37] One textbook summarizes the process as follows:

“The Fed” controls the money supply in the United States by controlling the amount of loans made by commercial banks. New loans are usually in the form of increased checking account balances, and since checkable deposits are part of the money supply, the money supply increases when new loans are made …[38]

This type of money is convertible into cash when depositors request cash withdrawals, which will require banks to limit or reduce their lending.[39][32] The vast majority of the broad money supply throughout the world represents current outstanding loans of banks to various debtors.[38][40][41] A very small amount of U.S. currency still exists as “United States Notes“, which have no meaningful economic difference from Federal Reserve notes in their usage, although they departed significantly in their method of issuance into circulation. The currency distributed by the Federal Reserve has been given the official designation of “Federal Reserve Notes.”[42]

Significant effects[edit]

Main article: Monetary policy

In 2005, the Federal Reserve held approximately 9% of the national debt[43] as assets against the liability of printed money. In previous periods, the Federal Reserve has used other debt instruments, such as debt securities issued by private corporations. During periods when the national debt of the United States has declined significantly (such as happened in fiscal years 1999 and 2000), monetary policy and financial markets experts have studied the practical implications of having “too little” government debt: both the Federal Reserve and financial markets use the price information, yield curve and the so-called risk free rate extensively.[44]

Experts are hopeful that other assets could take the place of National Debt as the base asset to back Federal Reserve notes, and Alan Greenspan, long the head of the Federal Reserve, has been quoted as saying, “I am confident that U.S. financial markets, which are the most innovative and efficient in the world, can readily adapt to a paydown of Treasury debt by creating private alternatives with many of the attributes that market participants value in Treasury securities.”[45] In principle, the government could still issue debt securities in significant quantities while having no net debt, and significant quantities of government debt securities are also held by other government agencies.

Although the U.S. government receives income overall from seigniorage, there are costs associated with maintaining the money supply.[41][46] Leading ecological economist and steady-state theorist Herman Daly, claims that “over 95% of our [broad] money supply [in the United States] is created by the private banking system (demand deposits) and bears interest as a condition of its existence,”[41] a conclusion drawn from the Federal Reserve’s ultimate dependence on increased activity in fractional reserve lending when it exercises open market operations.[47]Economist Eric Miller criticizes Daly’s logic because money is created in the banking system in response to demand for the money,[48] which justifies cost.[citation needed]

Thus, use of expansionary open market operations typically generates more debt in the private sector of society (in the form of additional bank deposits).[49] The private banking system charges interest to borrowers as a cost to borrow the money.[3][31][50] The interest costs are borne by those that have borrowed,[3][31] and without this borrowing, open market operations would be unsuccessful in maintaining the broad money supply,[30] though alternative implementations of monetary policy could be used. Depositors of funds in the banking system are paid interest on their savings (or provided other services, such as checking account privileges or physical security for their “cash”), as compensation for “lending” their funds to the bank.

Increases (or contractions) of the money supply corresponds to growth (or contraction) in interest-bearing debt in the country.[3][30][41] The concepts involved in monetary policy may be widely misunderstood in the general public, as evidenced by the volume of literature on topics such as “Federal Reserve conspiracy” and “Federal Reserve fraud.”[51]

Uncertainties

A few of the uncertainties involved in monetary policy decision making are described by the federal reserve:[52]

  • While these policy choices seem reasonably straightforward, monetary policy makers routinely face certain notable uncertainties. First, the actual position of the economy and growth in aggregate demand at any time are only partially known, as key information on spending, production, and prices becomes available only with a lag. Therefore, policy makers must rely on estimates of these economic variables when assessing the appropriate course of policy, aware that they could act on the basis of misleading information. Second, exactly how a given adjustment in the federal funds rate will affect growth in aggregate demand—in terms of both the overall magnitude and the timing of its impact—is never certain. Economic models can provide rules of thumb for how the economy will respond, but these rules of thumb are subject to statistical error. Third, the growth in aggregate supply, often called the growth in potential output, cannot be measured with certainty.
  • In practice, as previously noted, monetary policy makers do not have up-to-the-minute information on the state of the economy and prices. Useful information is limited not only by lags in the collection and availability of key data but also by later revisions, which can alter the picture considerably. Therefore, although monetary policy makers will eventually be able to offset the effects that adverse demand shocks have on the economy, it will be some time before the shock is fully recognized and—given the lag between a policy action and the effect of the action on aggregate demand—an even longer time before it is countered. Add to this the uncertainty about how the economy will respond to an easing or tightening of policy of a given magnitude, and it is not hard to see how the economy and prices can depart from a desired path for a period of time.
  • The statutory goals of maximum employment and stable prices are easier to achieve if the public understands those goals and believes that the Federal Reserve will take effective measures to achieve them.
  • Although the goals of monetary policy are clearly spelled out in law, the means to achieve those goals are not. Changes in the FOMC’s target federal funds rate take some time to affect the economy and prices, and it is often far from obvious whether a selected level of the federal funds rate will achieve those goals.

Opinions of the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve is lauded by some economists, while being the target of scathing criticism by other economists, legislators, and sometimes members of the general public. The former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, is one of the leading academic critics of the Federal Reserve’s policies during the Great Depression.[53]

Achievements

One of the functions of a central bank is to facilitate the transfer of funds through the economy, and the Federal Reserve System is largely responsible for the efficiency in the banking sector. There have also been specific instances which put the Federal Reserve in the spotlight of public attention. For instance, after the stock market crash in 1987, the actions of the Fed are generally believed to have aided in recovery. Also, the Federal Reserve is credited for easing tensions in the business sector with the reassurances given following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.[54]

Criticisms

The Federal Reserve has been the target of various criticisms, involving: accountability, effectiveness, opacity, inadequate banking regulation, and potential market distortion. Federal Reserve policy has also been criticized for directly and indirectly benefiting large banks instead of consumers. For example, regarding the Federal Reserve’s response to the 2007–2010 financial crisis, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz explained how the U.S. Federal Reserve was implementing another monetary policy —creating currency— as a method to combat the liquidity trap.[55]

By creating $600 billion and inserting this directly into banks the Federal Reserve intended to spur banks to finance more domestic loans and refinance mortgages. However, banks instead were spending the money in more profitable areas by investing internationally in emerging markets. Banks were also investing in foreign currencies which Stiglitz and others point out may lead to currency wars while China redirects its currency holdings away from the United States.[56]

Auditing

The Federal Reserve is subject to different requirements for transparency and audits than other government agencies, which its supporters claim is another element of the Fed’s independence. Although the Federal Reserve has been required by law to publish independently audited financial statements since 1999, the Federal Reserve is not audited in the same way as other government agencies. Some confusion can arise because there are many types of audits, including: investigative or fraud audits; and financial audits, which are audits of accounting statements; there are also compliance, operational, and information system audits.

The Federal Reserve’s annual financial statements are audited by an outside auditor. Similar to other government agencies, the Federal Reserve maintains an Office of the Inspector General, whose mandate includes conducting and supervising “independent and objective audits, investigations, inspections, evaluations, and other reviews of Board programs and operations.”[57] The Inspector General’s audits and reviews are available on the Federal Reserve’s website.[58][59]

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has the power to conduct audits, subject to certain areas of operations that are excluded from GAO audits; other areas may be audited at specific Congressional request, and have included bank supervision, government securities activities, and payment system activities.[60][61] The GAO is specifically restricted any authority over monetary policy transactions;[60] the New York Times reported in 1989 that “such transactions are now shielded from outside audit, although the Fed influences interest rates through the purchase of hundreds of billions of dollars in Treasury securities.”[62] As mentioned above, it was in 1999 that the law governing the Federal Reserve was amended to formalize the already-existing annual practice of ordering independent audits of financial statements for the Federal Reserve Banks and the Board;[63] the GAO’s restrictions on auditing monetary policy continued, however.[61]

Congressional oversight on monetary policy operations, foreign transactions, and the FOMC operations is exercised through the requirement for reports and through semi-annual monetary policy hearings.[61] Scholars have conceded that the hearings did not prove an effective means of increasing oversight of the Federal Reserve, perhaps because “Congresspersons prefer to bash an autonomous and secretive Fed for economic misfortune rather than to share the responsibility for that misfortune with a fully accountable Central Bank,” although the Federal Reserve has also consistently lobbied to maintain its independence and freedom of operation.[64]

Fulfillment of wider economic goals

By law, the goals of the Fed’s monetary policy are: high employment, sustainable growth, and stable prices.[65]

Critics say that monetary policy in the United States has not achieved consistent success in meeting the goals that have been delegated to the Federal Reserve System by Congress. Congress began to review more options with regard to macroeconomic influence beginning in 1946 (after World War II), with the Federal Reserve receiving specific mandates in 1977 (after the country suffered a period of stagflation).

Throughout the period of the Federal Reserve following the mandates, the relative weight given to each of these goals has changed, depending on political developments.[citation needed] In particular, the theories of Keynesianism and monetarism have had great influence on both the theory and implementation of monetary policy, and the “prevailing wisdom” or consensus view of the economic and financial communities has changed over the years.[66]

  • Elastic currency (magnitude of the money multiplier): the success of monetary policy is dependent on the ability to strongly influence the supply of money available to the citizens. If a currency is highly “elastic” (that is, has a higher money multiplier, corresponding to a tendency of the financial system to create more broad money for a given quantity of base money), plans to expand the money supply and accommodate growth are easier to implement. Low elasticity was one of many factors that contributed to the depth of the Great Depression: as banks cut lending, the money multiplier fell, and at the same time the Federal Reserve constricted the monetary base. The depression of the late 1920s is generally regarded as being the worst in the country’s history, and the Federal Reserve has been criticized for monetary policy which worsened the depression.[67] Partly to alleviate problems related to the depression, the United States transitioned from a gold standard and now uses a fiat currency; elasticity is believed to have been increased greatly.[68]

The value of $1 over time, in 1776 dollars.[70]

  • Stable prices – While some economists would regard any consistent inflation as a sign of unstable prices,[71] policymakers could be satisfied with 1 or 2%;[72] the consensus of “price stability” constituting long-run inflation of 1-2% is, however, a relatively recent development, and a change that has occurred at other central banks throughout the world. Inflation has averaged a 4.22% increase annually following the mandates applied in 1977; historic inflation since the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913 has averaged 3.4%.[73] In contrast, some research indicates that average inflation for the 250 years before the system was near zero percent, though there were likely sharper upward and downward spikes in that timeframe as compared with more recent times.[74] Central banks in some other countries, notably the German Bundesbank, had considerably better records of achieving price stability drawing on experience from the two episodes of hyperinflation and economic collapse under the country’s previous central bank.

Inflation worldwide has fallen significantly since former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker began his tenure in 1979, a period which has been called the Great Moderation; some commentators attribute this to improved monetary policy worldwide, particularly in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.[75][76]BusinessWeek notes that inflation has been relatively low since mid-1980s[77] and it was during this time that Volcker wrote (in 1995), “It is a sobering fact that the prominence of central banks [such as the Federal Reserve] in this century has coincided with a general tendency towards more inflation, not less. By and large, if the overriding objective is price stability, we did better with the nineteenth-century gold standard and passive central banks, with currency boards, or even with ‘free banking.'”.

  • Sustainable growth – The growth of the economy may not be sustainable as the ability for households to save money has been on an overall decline[78] and household debt is consistently rising.[79]

Cause of The Great Depression

Money supply decreased significantly between Black Tuesday and the Bank Holiday in March 1933 when there were massive bank runs

Monetarists who believe that the Great Depression started as an ordinary recession but significant policy mistakes by monetary authorities (especially the Federal Reserve) caused a shrinking of the money supply which greatly exacerbated the economic situation, causing a recession to descend into the Great Depression.

Public confusion

The Federal Reserve has established a library of information on their websites, however, many experts have spoken about the general level of public confusion that still exists on the subject of the economy; this lack of understanding of macroeconomic questions and monetary policy, however, exists in other countries as well. Critics of the Fed widely regard the system as being “opaque“, and one of the Fed’s most vehement opponents of his time, Congressman Louis T. McFadden, even went so far as to say that “Every effort has been made by the Federal Reserve Board to conceal its powers….”[80]

There are, on the other hand, many economists who support the need for an independent central banking authority, and some have established websites that aim to clear up confusion about the economy and the Federal Reserve’s operations. The Federal Reserve website itself publishes various information and instructional materials for a variety of audiences.

Criticism of government interference

Some economists, especially those belonging to the heterodox Austrian School, criticize the idea of even establishing monetary policy, believing that it distorts investment. Friedrich Hayek won the Nobel Prize for his elaboration of the Austrian business cycle theory.

Briefly, the theory holds that an artificial injection of credit, from a source such as a central bank like the Federal Reserve, sends false signals to entrepreneurs to engage in long-term investments due to a favorably low interest rate. However, the surge of investments undertaken represents an artificial boom, or bubble, because the low interest rate was achieved by an artificial expansion of the money supply and not by savings. Hence, the pool of real savings and resources have not increased and do not justify the investments undertaken.

These investments, which are more appropriately called “malinvestments”, are realized to be unsustainable when the artificial credit spigot is shut off and interest rates rise. The malinvestments and unsustainable projects are liquidated, which is the recession. The theory demonstrates that the problem is the artificial boom which causes the malinvestments in the first place, made possible by an artificial injection of credit not from savings.

According to Austrian economics, without government intervention, interest rates will always be an equilibrium between the time-preferences of borrowers and savers, and this equilibrium is simply distorted by government intervention. This distortion, in their view, is the cause of the business cycle. Some Austrian economists—but by no means all—also support full reserve banking, a hypothetical financial/banking system where banks may not lend deposits. Others may advocate free banking, whereby the government abstains from any interference in what individuals may choose to use as money or the extent to which banks create money through the deposit and lending cycle.

Reserve requirement

The Federal Reserve regulates banking, and one regulation under its direct control is the reserve requirement which dictates how much money banks must keep in reserves, as compared to its demand deposits. Banks use their observation that the majority of deposits are not requested by the account holders at the same time.

Currently, the Federal Reserve requires that banks keep 10% of their deposits on hand.[81] Some countries have no nationally mandated reserve requirements—banks use their own resources to determine what to hold in reserve, however their lending is typically constrained by other regulations.[82] Other factors being equal, lower reserve percentages increases the possibility of Bank runs, such as the widespread runs of 1931. Low reserve requirements also allow for larger expansions of the money supply by actions of commercial banks—currently the private banking system has created much of the broad money supply of US dollars through lending activity. Monetary policy reform calling for 100% reserves has been advocated by economists such as: Irving Fisher,[83] Frank Knight,[84] many ecological economists along with economists of the Chicago School and Austrian School. Despite calls for reform, the nearly universal practice of fractional-reserve banking has remained in the United States.

Criticism of private sector involvement

Historically and to the present day, various social and political movements (such as social credit) have criticized the involvement of the private sector in “creating money”, claiming that only the government should have the power to “make money”. Some proponents also support full reserve banking or other non-orthodox approaches to monetary policy. Various terminology may be used, including “debt money”, which may have emotive or political connotations. These are generally considered to be akin to conspiracy theories by mainstream economists and ignored in academic literature on monetary policy.

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monetary_policy_of_the_United_States

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Book | Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism

Wahhabism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wahhabism (Arabic: الوهابية‎‎, al-Wahhābiya(h)) or Wahhabi mission[1] (/wəˈhɑːbi, wɑː/;[2] Arabic: الدعوة الوهابية‎‎, ad-Da’wa al-Wahhābiya(h) ) is a sect,[3][4][5][6] religious movement or branch of Islam.[7][8][9][10] It has been variously described as “ultraconservative”,[11] “austere”,[7] “fundamentalist”,[12] or “puritan(ical)”[13][14] and as an Islamic “reform movement” to restore “pure monotheistic worship” (tawhid) by devotees,[15] and as a “deviant sectarian movement”,[15] “vile sect”[16] and a distortion of Islam by its opponents.[7][17] The term Wahhabi(ism) is often used polemically and adherents commonly reject its use, preferring to be called Salafi or muwahhid.[18][19][20] The movement emphasises the principle oftawhid[21] (the “uniqueness” and “unity” of God).[22] It claims its principal influences to be Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780–855) and Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328), both belonging to the Hanbalischool,[23] although the extent of their actual influence upon the tenets of the movement has been contested.[24][25]

Wahhabism is named after an eighteenth-century preacher and activist, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792).[26] He started a reform movement in the remote, sparsely populated region of Najd,[27] advocating a purging of such widespread Sunni practices as the intercession of saints, and the visitation to their tombs, both of which were practiced all over the Islamic world, but which he considered idolatry (shirk), impurities and innovations in Islam (Bid’ah).[9][22] Eventually he formed a pact with a local leader Muhammad bin Saudoffering political obedience and promising that protection and propagation of the Wahhabi movement mean “power and glory” and rule of “lands and men.”[28]

The alliance between followers of ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud’s successors (the House of Saud) proved to be a durable one. The House of Saud continued to maintain its politico-religious alliance with the Wahhabi sect through the waxing and waning of its own political fortunes over the next 150 years, through to its eventual proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, and then afterwards, on into modern times. Today Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s teachings are the official, state-sponsored form of Sunni Islam[7][29] in Saudi Arabia.[30] With the help of funding from Saudi petroleum exports[31] (and other factors[32]), the movement underwent “explosive growth” beginning in the 1970s and now has worldwide influence.[7] The US State Department has estimated that over the past four decades Riyadh has invested more than $10bn (£6bn) into charitable foundations in an attempt to replace mainstream Sunni Islam with the harsh intolerance of its Wahhabism.[33]

The “boundaries” of Wahhabism have been called “difficult to pinpoint”,[34] but in contemporary usage, the terms Wahhabi and Salafi are often used interchangeably, and they are considered to be movements with different roots that have merged since the 1960s.[35][36][37] However, Wahhabism has also been called “a particular orientation within Salafism”,[38] or an ultra-conservative, Saudi brand of Salafism.[39][40] Estimates of the number of adherents to Wahhabism vary, with one source (Mehrdad Izady) giving a figure of fewer than 5 million Wahhabis in the Persian Gulf region (compared to 28.5 million Sunnis and 89 million Shia).[30][41]

The majority of mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims worldwide strongly disagree with the interpretation of Wahhabism and consider it a “vile sect”.[16] Islamic scholars, including those from the Al-Azhar University, regularly denounce Wahhabism with terms such as “Satanic faith”.[16] Wahhabism has been accused of being “a source of global terrorism”,[42][43]inspiring the ideology of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),[44] and for causing disunity in Muslim communities by labelling Muslims who disagreed with the Wahhabi definition of monotheism as apostates[45] (takfir) and justifying their killing.[46][47][48] It has also been criticized for the destruction of historic shrines of saints, mausoleums, and other Muslim and non-Muslim buildings and artifacts.[49][50][51]

Definitions and etymology

Definitions

Some definitions or uses of the term Wahhabi Islam include:

  • “a corpus of doctrines”, and “a set of attitudes and behavior, derived from the teachings of a particularly severe religious reformist who lived in central Arabia in the mid-eighteenth century” (Gilles Kepel)[52]
  • “pure Islam” (David Commins, paraphrasing supporters’ definition),[17] that does not deviate from Sharia law in any way and should be called Islam and not Wahhabism. (King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the King of the Saudi Arabia)[53]
  • “a misguided creed that fosters intolerance, promotes simplistic theology, and restricts Islam’s capacity for adaption to diverse and shifting circumstances” (David Commins, paraphrasing opponents’ definition)[17]
  • “a conservative reform movement … the creed upon which the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded, and [which] has influenced Islamic movements worldwide” (Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim world)[54]
  • “a sect dominant in Saudi Arabia and Qatar” with footholds in “India, Africa, and elsewhere”, with a “steadfastly fundamentalist interpretation of Islam in the tradition of Ibn Hanbal” (Cyril Glasse)[21]
  • an “eighteenth-century reformist/revivalist movement for sociomoral reconstruction of society”, “founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab” (Oxford Dictionary of Islam).[55]
  • originally a “literal revivification” of Islamic principles that ignored the spiritual side of Islam, that “rose on the wings of enthusiasm апd longing and then sank down into the lowlands of pharisaic self-righteousness” after gaining power and losing its “longing and humility” (Muhammad Asad)[56]
  • “a political trend” within Islam that “has been adopted for power-sharing purposes”, but cannot be called a sect because “It has no special practices, nor special rites, and no special interpretation of religion that differ from the main body of Sunni Islam” (Abdallah Al Obeid, the former dean of the Islamic University of Medina and member of the Saudi Consultative Council)[34]
  • “the true salafist movement”. Starting out as a theological reform movement, it had “the goal of calling (da’wa) people to restore the ‘real’ meaning of tawhid (oneness of God or monotheism) and to disregard and deconstruct ‘traditional’ disciplines and practices that evolved in Islamic history such as theology and jurisprudence and the traditions of visiting tombs and shrines of venerated individuals.” (Ahmad Moussalli)[57]
  • a term used by opponents of Salafism in hopes of besmirching that movement by suggesting foreign influence and “conjuring up images of Saudi Arabia”. The term is “most frequently used in countries where Salafis are a small minority” of the Muslim community but “have made recent inroads” in “converting” the local population to Salafism. (Quintan Wiktorowicz)[18]
  • a blanket term used inaccurately to refer to “any Islamic movement that has an apparent tendency toward misogyny, militantism, extremism, or strict and literal interpretation of the Quran and hadith” (Natana J. DeLong-Bas)[58]

Etymology

According to Saudi writer Abdul Aziz Qassim and others, it was the Ottomans who “first labelled Abdul Wahhab’s school of Islam in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism”. The British also adopted it and expanded its use in the Middle East.[59]

Naming controversy: Wahhabis, Muwahhidun, and Salafis

Wahhabis do not like – or at least did not like – the term. Ibn Abd-Al-Wahhab was averse to the elevation of scholars and other individuals, including using a person’s name to label an Islamic school.[18][46][60]

According to Robert Lacey “the Wahhabis have always disliked the name customarily given to them” and preferred to be called Muwahhidun (Unitarians).[61] Another preferred term was simply “Muslims” since their creed is “pure Islam”.[62] However, critics complain these terms imply non-Wahhabis are not monotheists or Muslims,[62][63] and the English translation of that term causes confusion with the Christian denomination (Unitarian Universalism).

Other terms Wahhabis have been said to use and/or prefer include ahl al-hadith (“people of hadith”), Salafi Da’wa or al-da’wa ila al-tawhid[64] (“Salafi preaching” or “preaching of monotheism”, for the school rather than the adherents) or Ahl ul-Sunna wal Jama’a (“people of the tradition of Muhammad and the consensus of the Ummah”),[38] Ahl al-Sunnah (“People of the Sunna”),[65] or “the reform or Salafi movement of the Sheikh” (the sheikh being ibn Abdul-Wahhab).[66] Early Salafis referred to themselves simply as “Muslims”, believing the neighboring Ottoman Caliphate was al-dawlah al-kufriyya (a heretical nation) and its self-professed Muslim inhabitants actually non-Muslim.[45][67][68][69] The prominent 20th-century Muslim scholar Nasiruddin Albani, who considered himself “of the Salaf,” referred to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab‘s activities as “Najdi da’wah.”[70]

Many, such as writer Quinton Wiktorowicz, urge use of the term Salafi, maintaining that “one would be hard pressed to find individuals who refer to themselves as Wahhabis or organizations that use ‘Wahhabi’ in their title, or refer to their ideology in this manner (unless they are speaking to a Western audience that is unfamiliar with Islamic terminology, and even then usage is limited and often appears as ‘Salafi/Wahhabi’).”[18] A New York Timesjournalist writes that Saudis “abhor” the term Wahhabism, “feeling it sets them apart and contradicts the notion that Islam is a monolithic faith.”[71] Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for example has attacked the term as “a doctrine that doesn’t exist here (Saudi Arabia)” and challenged users of the term to locate any “deviance of the form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia from the teachings of the Quran and Prophetic Hadiths“.[72][73] Ingrid Mattsonargues that, “‘Wahhbism’ is not a sect. It is a social movement that began 200 years ago to rid Islam of rigid cultural practices that had (been) acquired over the centuries.”[74]

On the other hand, according to authors at Global Security and Library of Congress the term is now commonplace and used even by Wahhabi scholars in the Najd,[9][75] a region often called the “heartland” of Wahhabism.[76]Journalist Karen House calls Salafi, “a more politically correct term” for Wahhabi.[77]

In any case, according to Lacey, none of the other terms have caught on, and so like the Christian Quakers, Wahhabis have “remained known by the name first assigned to them by their detractors.”[61]

Wahhabis and Salafis

Many scholars and critics distinguish between Wahhabi and Salafi. According to American scholar Christopher M. Blanchard,[78] Wahhabism refers to “a conservative Islamic creed centered in and emanating from Saudi Arabia,” while Salafiyya is “a more general puritanical Islamic movement that has developed independently at various times and in various places in the Islamic world.”[46]

However, many call Wahhabism a more strict, Saudi form of Salafi.[79][80] Wahhabism is the Saudi version of Salafism, according to Mark Durie, who states Saudi leaders “are active and diligent” using their considerable financial resources “in funding and promoting Salafism all around the world.”[81] Ahmad Moussalli tends to agree Wahhabism is a subset of Salafism, saying “As a rule, all Wahhabis are salafists, but not all salafists are Wahhabis”.[57]

Hamid Algar lists three “elements” Wahhabism and Salafism had in common.

  1. above all disdain for all developments subsequent to al-Salaf al-Salih (the first two or three generations of Islam),
  2. the rejection of Sufism, and
  3. the abandonment of consistent adherence to one of the four or five Sunni Madhhabs (schools of fiqh).

And “two important and interrelated features” that distinguished Salafis from the Wahhabis:

  1. a reliance on attempts at persuasion rather than coercion in order to rally other Muslims to their cause; and
  2. an informed awareness of the political and socio-economic crises confronting the Muslim world.[82]

Hamid Algar and another critic, Khaled Abou El Fadl, argue Saudi oil-export funding “co-opted” the “symbolism and language of Salafism”, during the 1960s and 70s, making them practically indistinguishable by the 1970s,[83]and now the two ideologies have “melded”. Abou El Fadl believes Wahhabism rebranded itself as Salafism knowing it could not “spread in the modern Muslim world” as Wahhabism.[35]

History

The Wahhabi mission started as a revivalist movement in the remote, arid region of Najd. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the Al Saud dynasty, and with it Wahhabism, spread to the holy cities of Meccaand Medina. After the discovery of petroleum near the Persian Gulf in 1939, it had access to oil export revenues, revenue that grew to billions of dollars. This money – spent on books, media, schools, universities, mosques, scholarships, fellowships, lucrative jobs for journalists, academics and Islamic scholars – gave Wahhabism a “preeminent position of strength” in Islam around the world.[84]

In the country of Wahhabism’s founding – and by far the largest and most powerful country where it is the state religion – Wahhabi ulama gained control over education, law, public morality and religious institutions in the 20th century, while permitting as a “trade-off” doctrinally objectionable actions such as the import of modern technology and communications, and dealings with non-Muslims, for the sake of the consolidation of the power of its political guardian, the Al Saud dynasty.[85]

However, in the last couple of decades of the twentieth century several crises worked to erode Wahhabi “credibility” in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world – the November 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque by militants; the deployment of US troops in Saudi during the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq; and the 9/11 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.[86]

In each case the Wahhabi establishment was called on to support the dynasty’s efforts to suppress religious dissent – and in each case it did[86] – exposing its dependence on the Saudi dynasty and its often unpopular policies.[87][88]

In the West, the end of the Cold War and the anti-communist alliance with conservative, religious Saudi Arabia, and the 9/11 attacks created enormous distrust towards the kingdom and especially its official religion.[89]

Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab

The founder of Wahhabism, Mohammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, was born around 1702-03 in the small oasis town of ‘Uyayna in the Najd region, in what is now central Saudi Arabia.[90] He studied in Basra,[91] in what is now Iraq, and possibly Mecca and Medina while there to perform Hajj, before returning to his home town of ‘Uyayna in 1740. There he worked to spread the call (da’wa) for what he believed was a restoration of true monotheistic worship (Tawhid).[92]

The “pivotal idea” of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teaching was that people who called themselves Muslims but who participated in alleged innovations were not just misguided or committing a sin, but were “outside the pale of Islam altogether,” as were Muslims who disagreed with his definition. [93]

This included not just lax, unlettered, nomadic Bedu, but Shia, Sunnis such as the Ottomans.[94] Such infidels were not to be killed outright, but to be given a chance to repent first.[95] With the support of the ruler of the town – Uthman ibn Mu’ammar – he carried out some of his religious reforms in ‘Uyayna, including the demolition of the tomb of Zayd ibn al-Khattab, one of the Sahaba (companions) of the prophet Muhammad, and the stoning to death of an adulterous woman. However, a more powerful chief (Sulaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Ghurayr) pressured Uthman ibn Mu’ammar to expel him from ‘Uyayna.[citation needed]

Alliance with the House of Saud

Further information:

1744–1818

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after unification in 1932

The ruler of nearby town, Muhammad ibn Saud, invited ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab to join him, and in 1744 a pact was made between the two. [96] Ibn Saud would protect and propagate the doctrines of the Wahhabi mission, while ibn Abdul Wahhab “would support the ruler, supplying him with ‘glory and power.'” Whoever championed his message, ibn Abdul Wahhab promised, “will, by means of it, rule the lands and men.” [28] Ibn Saud would abandon un-Sharia taxation of local harvests, and in return God might compensate him with booty from conquest and sharia compliant taxes that would exceed what he gave up.[97] The alliance between the Wahhabi mission and Al Saud family has “endured for more than two and half centuries,” surviving defeat and collapse.[96][98] The two families have intermarried multiple times over the years and in today’s Saudi Arabia, the minister of religion is always a member of the Al ash-Sheikh family, i.e., a descendent of Ibn Abdul Wahhab.[99]

According to most sources, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab declared jihad against neighboring tribes, whose practices of praying to saints, making pilgrimages to tombs and special mosques, he believed to be the work of idolaters/unbelievers.[47][63][95][100]

One academic disputes this. According to Natana DeLong-Bas, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was restrained in urging fighting with perceived unbelievers, preferring to preach and persuade rather than attack.[101] [102][103] It was only after the death of Muhammad bin Saud in 1765 that, according to DeLong-Bas, Muhammad bin Saud’s son and successor, Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad, used a “convert or die” approach to expand his domain,[104] and when Wahhabis adopted the takfir ideas of Ibn Taymiyya.[105]

However, various scholars, including Simon Ross Valentine, have strongly rejected such a view of Wahhab, arguing that “the image of Abd’al-Wahhab presented by DeLong-Bas is to be seen for what it is, namely a re-writing of history that flies in the face of historical fact”.[106] Conquest expanded through the Arabian Peninsula until it conquered Mecca and Medina the early 19th century.[107][108] It was at this time, according to DeLong-Bas, that Wahhabis embraced the ideas of Ibn Taymiyya, which allow self-professed Muslim who do not follow Islamic law to be declared non-Muslims – to justify their warring and conquering the Muslim Sharifs of Hijaz.[105]

One of their most noteworthy and controversial attacks was on Karbala in 1802. There, according to a Wahhabi chronicler `Uthman b. `Abdullah b. Bishr: “The Muslims” – as the Wahhabis referred to themselves, not feeling the need to distinguish themselves from other Muslims, since they did not believe them to be Muslims –

scaled the walls, entered the city … and killed the majority of its people in the markets and in their homes. [They] destroyed the dome placed over the grave of al-Husayn [and took] whatever they found inside the dome and its surroundings … the grille surrounding the tomb which was encrusted with emeralds, rubies, and other jewels … different types of property, weapons, clothing, carpets, gold, silver, precious copies of the Qur’an.”[109][110]

Wahhabis also massacred the male population and enslaved the women and children of the city of Ta’if in Hejaz in 1803.[111]

Saud bin Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad bin Saud managed to establish his rule over southeastern Syria between 1803 and 1812. However, Egyptian forces acting under the Ottoman Empire and led by Ibrahim Pasha, were eventually successful in counterattacking in a campaign starting from 1811.[112] In 1818 they defeated Al-Saud, leveling the capital Diriyah, executing the Al-Saud emir, exiling the emirate’s political and religious leadership,[98][113] and otherwise unsuccessfully attempted to stamp out not just the House of Saud but the Wahhabi mission as well.[114] A second, smaller Saudi state (Emirate of Nejd) lasted from 1819–1891. Its borders being within Najd, Wahhabism was protected from further Ottoman or Egyptian campaigns by the Najd’s isolation, lack of valuable resources, and that era’s limited communication and transportation.[115]

By the 1880s, at least among townsmen if not Bedouin, Wahhabi strict monotheistic doctrine had become the native religious culture of the Najd.[116]

Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud

Ibn Saud, the first king of Saudi Arabia

Further information: History of Saudi Arabia

In 1901, Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud, a fifth generation descendent of Muhammad ibn Saud,[117] began a military campaign that led to the conquest of much of the Arabian peninsula and the founding of present-day Saudi Arabia, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.[118] The result that safeguarded the vision of Islam-based on the tenets of Islam as preached by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhabwas not bloodless, as 40,000 public executions and 350,000 amputations were carried out during its course, according to some estimates.[119][120][121][122]

Under the reign of Abdul-Aziz, “political considerations trumped religious idealism” favored by pious Wahhabis. His political and military success gave the Wahhabi ulama control over religious institutions with jurisdiction over considerable territory, and in later years Wahhabi ideas formed the basis of the rules and laws concerning social affairs, and shaped the kingdom’s judicial and educational policies.[123] But protests from Wahhabi ulama were overridden when it came to consolidating power in Hijaz and al-Hasa, avoiding clashes with the great power of the region (Britain), adopting modern technology, establishing a simple governmental administrative framework, or signing an oil concession with the U.S. [124] The Wahhabi ulama also issued a fatwa affirming that “only the ruler could declare a jihad”[125] (a violation of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teaching according to DeLong-Bas.[102])

As the realm of Wahhabism expanded under Ibn Saud into areas of Shiite (Al-Hasa, conquered in 1913) and pluralistic Muslim tradition (Hejaz, conquered in 1924–25), Wahhabis pressed for forced conversion of Shia and an eradication of (what they saw as) idolatry. Ibn Saud sought “a more relaxed approach”.[126]

In al-Hasa, efforts to stop the observance of Shia religious holidays and replace teaching and preaching duties of Shia clerics with Wahhabi, lasted only a year.[127]

In Mecca and Jeddah (in Hejaz) prohibition of tobacco, alcohol, playing cards and listening to music on the phonograph was looser than in Najd. Over the objections of Wahhabi ulama, Ibn Saud permitted both the driving of automobiles and the attendance of Shia at hajj.[128]

Enforcement of the commanding right and forbidding wrong, such as enforcing prayer observance and separation of the sexes, developed a prominent place during the second Saudi emirate, and in 1926 a formal committee for enforcement was founded in Mecca.[21][129] [130]

While Wahhabi warriors swore loyalty to monarchs of Al Saud, there was one major rebellion. King Abdul-Aziz put down rebelling Ikhwan – nomadic tribesmen turned Wahhabi warriors who opposed his “introducing such innovations as telephones, automobiles, and the telegraph” and his “sending his son to a country of unbelievers (Egypt)”. [131] Britain had aided Abdul-Aziz, and when the Ikhwan attacked the British protectorates of Transjordan,Iraq and Kuwait, as a continuation of jihad to expand the Wahhabist realm, Abdul-Aziz struck, killing hundreds before the rebels surrendered in 1929.[132]

Connection with the outside

Before Abdul-Aziz, during most of the second half of the 19th century, there was a strong aversion in Wahhabi lands to mixing with “idolaters” (which included most of the Muslim world). Voluntary contact was considered by Wahhabi clerics to be at least a sin, and if one enjoyed the company of idolaters, and “approved of their religion”, an act of unbelief.[133] Travel outside the pale of Najd to the Ottoman lands “was tightly controlled, if not prohibited altogether”.[134]

Over the course of its history, however, Wahhabism has become more accommodating towards the outside world.[135] In the late 1800s, Wahhabis found Muslims with at least similar beliefs – first with Ahl-i Hadith in India,[136]and later with Islamic revivalists in Arab states (one being Mahmud Sahiri al-Alusi in Baghdad).[137] The revivalists and Wahhabis shared a common interest in Ibn Taymiyya‘s thought, the permissibility of ijtihad, and the need to purify worship practices of innovation.[138] In the 1920s, Rashid Rida, a pioneer Salafist whose periodical al-Manar was widely read in the Muslim world, published an “anthology of Wahhabi treatises,” and a work praising the Ibn Saud as “the savior of the Haramayn [the two holy cities] and a practitioner of authentic Islamic rule”.[139][140]

In a bid “to join the Muslim mainstream and to erase the reputation of extreme sectarianism associated with the Ikhwan,” in 1926 Ibn Saud convened a Muslim congress of representatives of Muslim governments and popular associations.[141] By the early 1950s, the “pressures” on Ibn Saud of controlling the regions of Hejaz and al-Hasa – “outside the Wahhabi heartland” – and of “navigating the currents of regional politics” “punctured the seal” between the Wahhabi heartland and the “land of idolatry” outside.[142][143]

A major current in regional politics at that time was secular nationalism, which, with Gamal Abdul Nasser, was sweeping the Arab world. To combat it, Wahhabi missionary outreach worked closely with Saudi foreign policy initiatives. In May 1962, a conference in Mecca organized by Saudis discussed ways to combat secularism and socialism. In its wake, the World Muslim League was established.[144] To propagate Islam and “repel inimical trends and dogmas”, the League opened branch offices around the globe.[145] It developed closer association between Wahhabis and leading Salafis, and made common cause with the Islamic revivalist Muslim Brotherhood, Ahl-i Hadith and the Jamaat-i Islami, combating Sufism and “innovative” popular religious practices[144] and rejecting the West and Western “ways which were so deleterious of Muslim piety and values.”[146] Missionaries were sent to West Africa, where the League funded schools, distributed religious literature, and gave scholarships to attend Saudi religious universities. One result was the Izala Society which fought Sufism in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.[147]

An event that had a great effect on Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia[148] was the “infiltration of the transnationalist revival movement” in the form of thousands of pious, Islamist Arab Muslim Brotherhood refugees from Egypt following Nasser’s clampdown on the brotherhood[149] (and also from similar nationalist clampdowns in Iraq[150] and Syria[151]), to help staff the new school system of (the largely illiterate) Kingdom.[152]

The Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology differed from the more conservative Wahhabism which preached loyal obedience to the king. The Brotherhood dealt in what one author (Robert Lacey) called “change-promoting concepts” like social justice, and anticolonialism, and gave “a radical, but still apparently safe, religious twist” to the Wahhabi values Saudi students “had absorbed in childhood”. With the Brotherhood’s “hands-on, radical Islam”, jihad became a “practical possibility today”, not just part of history.[153]

The Brethren were ordered by the Saudi clergy and government not to attempt to proselytize or otherwise get involved in religious doctrinal matters within the Kingdom, but nonetheless “took control” of Saudi Arabia’s intellectual life” by publishing books and participating in discussion circles and salons held by princes.[154] In time they took leading roles in key governmental ministries,[155] and had influence on education curriculum.[156] An Islamic university in Medina created in 1961 to train – mostly non-Saudi – proselytizers to Wahhabism,[157] became “a haven” for Muslim Brother refugees from Egypt.[158] The Brothers’ ideas eventually spread throughout the kingdom and had great effect on Wahhabism – although observers differ as to whether this was by “undermining” it[148][159] or “blending” with it.[160][161]

Growth

In the 1950s and 60s within Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabi ulama maintained their hold on religious law courts, and presided over the creation of Islamic universities and a public school system which gave students “a heavy dose of religious instruction”.[162] Outside of Saudi the Wahhabi ulama became “less combative” toward the rest of the Muslim world. In confronting the challenge of the West, Wahhabi doctrine “served well” for many Muslims as a “platform” and “gained converts beyond the peninsula.”[162][163]

A number of reasons have been given for this success. The growth in popularity and strength of both Arab nationalism (although Wahhabis opposed any form of nationalism as an ideology, Saudis were Arabs, and their enemy the Ottoman caliphate was ethnically Turkish),[32] and Islamic reform (specifically reform by following the example of those first three generations of Muslims known as the Salaf);[32] the destruction of the Ottoman Empire which sponsored their most effective critics;[164] the destruction of another rival, the Khilafa in Hejaz, in 1925.[32]

Not least in importance was the money Saudi Arabia earned from exporting oil.[84]

Petroleum export era

See also: Petro-Islam

The pumping and export of oil from Saudi Arabia started during World War II, and its earnings helped fund religious activities in the 1950s and 60s. But it was the 1973 oil crisis and quadrupling in the price of oil that both increased the kingdom’s wealth astronomically and enhanced its prestige by demonstrating its international power as a leader of OPEC. By 1980, Saudi Arabia was earning every three days the income from oil it had taken a year to earn before the embargo.[165] Tens of billions of US dollars of this money were spent on books, media, schools, scholarships for students (from primary to post-graduate), fellowships and subsidies to reward journalists, academics and Islamic scholars, the building of hundreds of Islamic centers and universities, and over one thousand schools and one thousand mosques.[166][167] [168] During this time, Wahhabism attained what Gilles Kepel called a “preeminent position of strength in the global expression of Islam.”[84]

Afghanistan jihad

The “apex of cooperation” between Wahhabis and Muslim revivalist groups was the Afghan jihad.[169]

In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, a Muslim Brother cleric with ties to Saudi religious institutions,[170] issued a fatwa[171] declaring defensive jihad in Afghanistan against the atheist Soviet Union, “fard ayn”, a personal (or individual) obligation for all Muslims. The edict was supported by Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti (highest religious scholar), Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, among others.[172][173]

Between 1982 and 1992 an estimated 35,000 individual Muslim volunteers went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and their Afghan regime. Thousands more attended frontier schools teeming with former and future fighters. Somewhere between 12,000 and 25,000 of these volunteers came from Saudi Arabia.[174] Saudi Arabia and the other conservative Gulf monarchies also provided considerable financial support to the jihad — $600 million a year by 1982.[175]

By 1989, Soviet troops had withdrawn and within a few years the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul had collapsed.[citation needed]

This Saudi/Wahhabi religious triumph further stood out in the Muslim world because many Muslim-majority states (and the PLO) were allied with the Soviet Union and did not support the Afghan jihad.[176] But many jihad volunteers (most famously Osama bin Laden) returning home to Saudi and elsewhere were often radicalized by Islamic militants who were “much more extreme than their Saudi sponsors.”[176]

“Erosion” of Wahhabism

Grand Mosque seizure

Main article: Grand Mosque Seizure

In 1979, 400–500 Islamist insurgents, using smuggled weapons and supplies, took over the Grand mosque in Mecca, called for an overthrow of the monarchy, denounced the Wahhabi ulama as royal puppets, and announced the arrival of the Mahdi of “end time“. The insurgents deviated from Wahhabi doctrine in significant details,[177] but were also associated with leading Wahhabi ulama (Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz knew the insurgent’s leader, Juhayman al-Otaybi).[178] Their seizure of Islam‘s holiest site, the taking hostage of hundreds of hajj pilgrims, and the deaths of hundreds of militants, security forces and hostages caught in crossfire during the two-week-long retaking of the mosque, all shocked the Islamic world[179] and did not enhance the prestige of Al Saud as “custodians” of the mosque.

The incident also damaged all the prestige of the Wahhabi establishment. Saudi leadership sought and received Wahhabi fatawa to approve the military removal of the insurgents and after that to execute them.[180] But Wahhabi clerics also fell under suspicion for involvement with the insurgents.[181] In part as a consequence, Sahwa clerics influenced by Brethren’s ideas were given freer rein. Their ideology was also thought more likely to compete with the recent Islamic revolutionism/third-worldism of the Iranian Revolution.[181]

Although the insurgents were motivated by religious puritanism, the incident was not followed by a crackdown on other religious purists, but by giving greater power to the ulama and religious conservatives to more strictly enforce Islamic codes in myriad ways[182] – from the banning of women’s images in the media to adding even more hours of Islamic studies in school and giving more power and money to the religious police to enforce conservative rules of behaviour.[183][184][185]

1990 Gulf War

In August 1990 Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. Concerned that Saddam Hussein might push south and seize its own oil fields, Saudis requested military support from the US and allowed tens of thousands of US troops to be based in the Kingdom to fight Iraq.[186]

But what “amounted to seeking infidels’ assistance against a Muslim power” was difficult to justify in terms of Wahhabi doctrine.[187][188]

Again Saudi authorities sought and received a fatwa from leading Wahhabi ulama supporting their action. The fatwa failed to persuade many conservative Muslims and ulama who strongly opposed US presence, including the Muslim Brotherhood-supported the Sahwah “Awakening” movement that began pushing for political change in the Kingdom.[189] Outside the kingdom, Islamist/Islamic revival groups that had long received aid from Saudi and had ties with Wahhabis (Arab jihadists, Pakistani and Afghan Islamists) supported Iraq, not Saudi.[190]

During this time and later, many in the Wahhabi/Salafi movement (such as Osama bin Laden) not only no longer looked to the Saudi monarch as an emir of Islam, but supported his overthrow, focusing on jihad (Salafist jihadists) against the US and (what they believe are) other enemies of Islam.[191][192] (This movement is sometimes called neo-Wahhabi or neo-salafi.[57][193])

After 9/11

The 2001 9/11 attacks on Saudi’s putative ally, the US, that killed almost 3,000 people and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage[194] were assumed by many, at least outside the kingdom, to be “an expression of Wahhabism”, since the Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.[195] A backlash in the formerly hospitable US against the kingdom focused on its official religion that came to be considered by “some … a doctrine of terrorism and hate.”[89]

Inside the kingdom, Crown Prince Abdullah addressed the country’s religious, tribal, business and media leadership following the attacks in a series of televised gatherings calling for a strategy to correct what has gone wrong. According to author Robert Lacey, the gatherings and later articles and replies by a top cleric, Abdullah Turki, and two top Al Saud princes, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz, served as an occasion to sort out who had the ultimate power in the kingdom – the Al Saud dynasty and not the ulema. It was declared that it has always been the role of executive rulers in Islamic history to exercise power and the job of the religious scholars to advise, never to govern.[196]

In 2003–04, Saudi Arabia saw a wave of Al-Qaeda-related suicide bombings, attacks on Non-Muslim foreigners (about 80% of those employed in the Saudi private sector are foreign workers[197] and constitute about 30% of the country’s population[198]) and gun battles between Saudi security forces and militants. One reaction to the attacks was a trimming back of the Wahhabi establishment’s domination of religion and society. “National Dialogues” were held that “included Shiites, Sufis, liberal reformers, and professional women.”[199] In 2009, as part of what some called an effort to “take on the ulema and reform the clerical establishment”, King Abdullah issued a decree that only “officially approved” religious scholars would be allowed to issue fatwas in Saudi Arabia. The king also expanded the Council of Senior Scholars (containing officially approved religious scholars) to include scholars fromSunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence other than the Hanbali madhabShafi’i, Hanafi and Maliki schools.[200]

Relations with the Muslim Brotherhood have deteriorated steadily. After 9/11, the then interior minister Prince Nayef, blamed the Brotherhood for extremism in the kingdom,[201] and he declared it guilty of “betrayal of pledges and ingratitude” and “the source of all problems in the Islamic world”, after it was elected to power in Egypt.[202] In March 2014 the Saudi government declared the Brotherhood a “terrorist organization”.[186]

In April 2016, Saudi Arabia has stripped its religious police, who enforce Islamic law on the society and known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice), from their power to follow, chase, stop, question, verify identification, or arrest any suspected persons when carrying out duties. They are asked to only report suspicious behaviour to regular police and anti-drug units, who will decide whether to take the matter further.[203][204]

Memoirs of Mr. Hempher

A widely circulated but discredited apocryphal description of the founding of Wahhabism[205][206] known as Memoirs of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy to the Middle East (other titles have been used),[207] alleges that a British agent named Hempher was responsible for creation of Wahhabism. In the “memoir”, Hempher corrupts Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, manipulating him[208] to preach his new interpretation of Islam for the purpose of sowing dissension and disunity among Muslims so that “We, the English people, … may live in welfare and luxury.”[207]

Practices

As a religious revivalist movement that works to bring Muslims back from what it believes are foreign accretions that have corrupted Islam,[209] and believes that Islam is a complete way of life and so has prescriptions for all aspects of life, Wahhabism is quite strict in what it considers Islamic behavior. As a result, it has been described as the “strictest form of Sunni Islam”.[210]

This does not mean however, that all adherents agree on what is required or forbidden, or that rules have not varied by area or changed over time. In Saudi Arabia the strict religious atmosphere of Wahhabi doctrine is visible in the conformity in dress, public deportment, and public prayer,[211] and makes its presence felt by the wide freedom of action of the “religious police“, clerics in mosques, teachers in schools, and judges (who are religious legal scholars) in Saudi courts.[212]

Commanding right and forbidding wrong

Wahhabism is noted for its policy of “compelling its own followers and other Muslims strictly to observe the religious duties of Islam, such as the five prayers”, and for “enforcement of public morals to a degree not found elsewhere”.[213]

While other Muslims might urge abstention from alcohol, modest dress, and salat prayer, for Wahhabis prayer “that is punctual, ritually correct, and communally performed not only is urged but publicly required of men.” Not only is wine forbidden, but so are “all intoxicating drinks and other stimulants, including tobacco.” Not only is modest dress prescribed, but the type of clothing that should be worn, especially by women (a black abaya, covering all but the eyes and hands) is specified.[75]

Following the preaching and practice of Abdul Wahhab that coercion should be used to enforce following of sharia, an official committee has been empowered to “Command the Good and Forbid the Evil” (the so-called “religious police”)[213][214] in Saudi Arabia – the one country founded with the help of Wahhabi warriors and whose scholars and pious[citation needed] dominate many aspects of the Kingdom’s life. Committee “field officers” enforce strict closing of shops at prayer time, segregation of the sexes, prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol, driving of motor vehicles by women, and other social restrictions.[215]

A large number of practices have been reported forbidden by Saudi Wahhabi officials, preachers or religious police. Practices that have been forbidden as Bida’a (innovation) or shirk and sometimes “punished by flogging” during Wahhabi history include performing or listening to music, dancing, fortune telling, amulets, television programs (unless religious), smoking, playing backgammon, chess, or cards, drawing human or animal figures, acting in a play or writing fiction (both are considered forms of lying), dissecting cadavers (even in criminal investigations and for the purposes of medical research), recorded music played over telephones on hold or the sending of flowers to friends or relatives who are in the hospital.[121][216][217][218][219][220] Common Muslim practices Wahhabis believe are contrary to Islam include listening to music in praise of Muhammad, praying to God while visiting tombs (including the tomb of Muhammad), celebrating mawlid (birthday of the Prophet),[221] the use of ornamentation on or in mosques.[222] The driving of motor vehicles by women is allowed in every country but Wahhabi-dominated Saudi Arabia[223] and the famously strict Taliban practiced dream interpretation is discouraged by Wahhabis.[224]

Wahhabism emphasizes “Thaqafah Islamiyyah” or Islamic culture and the importance of avoiding non-Islamic cultural practices and non-Muslim friendship no matter how innocent these may appear,[225][226] on the grounds that the Sunna forbids imitating non-Muslims.[227] Foreign practices sometimes punished and sometimes simply condemned by Wahhabi preachers as unIslamic, include celebrating foreign days (such as Valentine’s Day[228] orMothers Day[225][227]) shaving, cutting or trimming of beards,[229] giving of flowers,[230] standing up in honor of someone, celebrating birthdays (including the Prophet’s), keeping or petting dogs.[219] Wahhabi scholars have warned against taking non-Muslims as friends, smiling at or wishing them well on their holidays.[71]

Wahhabis are not in unanimous agreement on what is forbidden as sin. Some Wahhabi preachers or activists go further than the official Saudi Arabian Council of Senior Scholars in forbidding (what they believe to be) sin. Several wahhabis have declared football forbidden for a variety of reasons including it is a non-Muslim, foreign practice, because of the revealing uniforms and because of the foreign non-Muslim language used in matches.[231][232] The Saudi Grand Mufti, on the other hand has declared football permissible (halal). [233]

Senior Wahhabi leaders in Saudi Arabia have determined that Islam forbids the traveling or working outside the home by a woman without their husband’s permission – permission which may be revoked at any time – on the grounds that the different physiological structures and biological functions of the different genders mean that each sex is assigned a different role to play in the family.[234] As mentioned before, Wahhabism also forbids the driving of motor vehicles by women. Sexual intercourse out of wedlock may be punished with beheading[235] although sex out of wedlock is permissible with a slave women (Prince Bandar bin Sultan was the product of “a brief encounter” between his father Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz – the Saudi defense minister for many years – and “his slave, a black servingwoman”),[236] or was before slavery was banned in Saudi Arabia in 1962.[237]

Despite this strictness, senior Wahhabi scholars of Islam in the Saudi kingdom have made exceptions in ruling on what is haram. Foreign non-Muslim troops are forbidden in Arabia, except when the king needed them to confront Saddam Hussein in 1990; gender mixing of men and women is forbidden, and fraternization with non-Muslims is discouraged, but not at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Movie theaters and driving by women are forbidden, except at the ARAMCO compound in eastern Saudi, populated by workers for the company that provides almost all the government’s revenue. The exceptions made at KAUST are also in effect at ARAMCO.[238]

More general rules of what is permissible have changed over time. Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud imposed Wahhabi doctrines and practices “in a progressively gentler form” as his early 20th-century conquests expanded his state into urban areas, especially the Hejab.[239] After vigorous debate Wahhabi religious authorities in Saudi Arabia allowed the use of paper money (in 1951), the abolition of slavery (in 1962), education of females (1964), and use of television (1965).[237] Music, the sound of which once might have led to summary execution, is now commonly heard on Saudi radios. [239] Minarets for mosques and use of funeral markers, which were once forbidden, are now allowed. Prayer attendance which was once enforced by flogging, is no longer.[240]

Appearance

The uniformity of dress among men and women in Saudi Arabia (compared to other Muslim countries in the Middle East) has been called a “striking example of Wahhabism’s outward influence on Saudi society”, and an example of the Wahhabi belief that “outward appearances and expressions are directly connected to one’s inward state.”[222] The “long, white flowing thobe” worn by men of Saudi Arabia has been called the “Wahhabi national dress”.[241]Red-and-white checkered or white head scarves known as Ghutrah are worn. In public women are required to wear a black abaya or other black clothing that covers every part of their body other than hands and eyes.

A “badge” of a particularly pious Salafi or Wahhabi man is a robe too short to cover the ankle, an untrimmed beard,[242] and no cord (Agal) to hold the head scarf in place.[243] The warriors of the Ikhwan Wahhabi religious militia wore a white turban in place of an agal.[244]

Wahhabiyya mission

Wahhabi mission, or Dawah Wahhabiyya, is to spread purified Islam through the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim. [245] Tens of billions of dollars have been spent by the Saudi government and charities on mosques, schools, education materials, scholarships, throughout the world to promote Islam and the Wahhabi interpretation of it. Tens of thousands of volunteers[174] and several billion dollars also went in support of the jihad against the atheist communist regime governing Muslim Afghanistan.[175]

Regions

Wahhabism originated in the Najd region, and its conservative practices have stronger support there than in regions in the kingdom to the east or west of it.[246][247][248] Glasse credits the softening of some Wahhabi doctrines and practices on the conquest of the Hejaz region “with its more cosmopolitan traditions and the traffic of pilgrims which the new rulers could not afford to alienate”.[239]

The only other country “whose native population is Wahhabi and that adheres to the Wahhabi creed”, is the small gulf monarchy of Qatar,[249][250] whose version of Wahhabism is notably less strict. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Qatar made significant changes in the 1990s. Women are now allowed to drive and travel independently; non-Muslims are permitted to consume alcohol and pork. The country sponsors a film festival, has “world-class art museums”, hosts Al Jazeera news service, will hold the 2022 football World Cup, and has no religious force that polices public morality. Qatari’s attribute its different interpretation of Islam to the absence of an indigenous clerical class and autonomous bureaucracy (religious affairs authority, endowments, Grand Mufti), the fact that Qatari rulers do not derive their legitimacy from such a class.[250][251]

Views

Adherents to the Wahhabi movement identify as Sunni Muslims.[252] The primary Wahhabi doctrine is affirmation of the uniqueness and unity of God (Tawhid),[22][253] and opposition toshirk (violation of tawhid – “the one unforgivable sin”, according to Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab).[254] They call for adherence to the beliefs and practices of the salaf (exemplary early Muslims). They strongly oppose what they consider to be heteredox doctrines, particularly those held by the vast majority of Sunnis and Shiites,[255] and practices such as the veneration of Prophets and saints in the Islamic tradition. They emphasize reliance on the literal meaning of the Quran and hadith, rejecting rationalistic theology (kalam). Wahhabism has been associated with the practice of takfir (labeling Muslims who disagree with their doctrines as apostates). Adherents of Wahhabism are favourable to derivation of new legal rulings (ijtihad) so long as it is true to the essence of the Quran, Sunnah and understanding of the salaf.[256]

Theology

In theology Wahhabism is closely aligned with the Athari (traditionalist) school, which represents the prevalent theological position of the Hanbali school of law.[257][258] Athari theology is characterized by reliance on the zahir (apparent or literal) meaning of the Quran and hadith, and opposition to the rational argumentation in matters of belief favored by Ash’ari andMaturidi theology.[259][260] However, Wahhabism diverges in some points of theology from other Athari movements.[261] These include a zealous tendency toward takfir, which bears a resemblance to the Kharijites.[261][262] Another distinctive feature is a strong opposition to mysticism.[261] Although it is typically attributed to the influence of Ibn Taymiyyah, Jeffry Halverson argues that Ibn Taymiyyah only opposed what he saw as Sufi excesses and never mysticism in itself, being himself a member of the Qadiriyyah Sufi order.[261] DeLong-Bas writes that Ibn Abd al-Wahhab did not denounce Sufism or Sufis as a group, but rather attacked specific practices which he saw as inconsistent with the Quran and hadith.[263]

Ibn Abd al-Wahhab considered some beliefs and practices of the Shia to violate the doctrine of monotheism.[264] According to DeLong-Bas, in his polemic against the “extremistRafidah sect of Shiis”, he criticized them for assigning greater authority to their current leaders than to Muhammad in interpreting the Quran and sharia, and for denying the validity of the consensus of the early Muslim community.[264] He also believed that the Shia doctrine of infallibility of the imams constituted associationism with God.[264]

David Commins describes the “pivotal idea” in Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teaching as being that “Muslims who disagreed with his definition of monotheism were not … misguided Muslims, but outside the pale of Islam altogether.” This put Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teaching at odds with that of most Muslims through history who believed that the “shahada” profession of faith (“There is no god but God, Muhammad is his messenger”) made one a Muslim, and that shortcomings in that person’s behavior and performance of other obligatory rituals rendered them “a sinner”, but “not an unbeliever.”

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab did not accept that view. He argued that the criterion for one’s standing as either a Muslim or an unbeliever was correct worship as an expression of belief in one God. … any act or statement that indicates devotion to a being other than God is to associate another creature with God’s power, and that is tantamount to idolatry (shirk). Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab included in the category of such acts popular religious practices that made holy men into intercessors with God. That was the core of the controversy between him and his adversaries, including his own brother.[265]

In Ibn Abd al-Wahhab‘s major work, a small book called Kitab al-Tawhid, he states that worship in Islam is limited to conventional acts of worship such as the five daily prayers (salat); fasting for Ramadan (Sawm); Dua(supplication); Istia’dha (seeking protection or refuge); Ist’ana (seeking help), and Istigatha to Allah (seeking benefits and calling upon Allah alone). Worship beyond this – making du’a or tawassul – are acts of shirk and in violation of the tenets of Tawhid (montheism).[266][page needed][267]

Ibn Abd al-Wahahb’s justification for considering majority of Muslims of Arabia to be unbelievers, and for waging war on them, can be summed up as his belief that the original pagans the prophet Muhammad fought “affirmed that God is the creator, the sustainer and the master of all affairs; they gave alms, they performed pilgrimage and they avoided forbidden things from fear of God”. What made them pagans whose blood could be shed and wealth plundered was that “they sacrificed animals to other beings; they sought the help of other beings; they swore vows by other beings.” Someone who does such things even if their lives are otherwise exemplary is not a Muslim but an unbeliever (as Ibn Abd al-Wahahb believed). Once such people have received the call to “true Islam”, understood it and then rejected it, their blood and treasure are forfeit.[268][269]

This disagreement between Wahhabis and non-Wahhabi Muslims over the definition of worship and monotheism has remained much the same since 1740, according to David Commins,[265] although, according to Saudi writer and religious television show host Abdul Aziz Qassim, as of 2014, “there are changes happening within the [Wahhabi] doctrine and among its followers.”[53]

According to another source, defining aspects of Wahhabism include a very literal interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah and a tendency to reinforce local practices of the Najd.[270]

Whether the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab included the need for social renewal and “plans for socio-religious reform of society” in the Arabian Peninsula, rather than simply a return to “ritual correctness and moral purity”, is disputed.[271][272]

Jurisprudence (fiqh)

Of the four major sources in Sunni fiqh – the Quran, the Sunna, consensus (ijma), and analogical reasoning (qiyas) – Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s writings emphasized the Quran and Sunna. He used ijma only “in conjunction with its corroboration of the Quran and hadith”[273] (and giving preference to the ijma of Muhammad’s companions rather than the ijma of legal specialists after his time), and qiyas only in cases of extreme necessity.[274] He rejected deference to past juridical opinion (taqlid) in favor of independent reasoning (ijtihad), and opposed using local customs.[275] He urged his followers to “return to the primary sources” of Islam in order “to determine how the Quran and Muhammad dealt with specific situations”,[276] when using ijtihad. According to Edward Mortimer, it was imitation of past juridical opinion in the face of clear contradictory evidence from hadith or Qur’anic text that Ibn Abd al-Wahhab condemned.[277] Natana DeLong-Bas writes that the Wahhabi tendency to consider failure to abide by Islamic law as equivalent to apostasy was based on the ideology of Ibn Taymiyya rather than Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s preaching and emerged after the latter’s death.[278]

According to an expert on law in Saudi Arabia (Frank Vogel), Ibn Abd al-Wahhab himself “produced no unprecedented opinions”. The “Wahhabis’ bitter differences with other Muslims were not over fiqh rules at all, but over aqida, or theological positions”.[279] Scholar David Cummings also states that early disputes with other Muslims did not center on fiqh, and that the belief that the distinctive character of Wahhabism stems from Hanbali legal thought is a “myth”.[280]

Some scholars are ambivalent as to whether Wahhabis belong to the Hanbali legal school. The Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World maintains Wahhabis “rejected all jurisprudence that in their opinion did not adhere strictly to the letter of the Qur’an and the hadith”.[281] Cyril Glasse’s New Encyclopedia of Islam states that “strictly speaking”, Wahhabis “do not see themselves as belonging to any school,”[282] and that in doing so they correspond to the ideal aimed at by Ibn Hanbal, and thus they can be said to be of his ‘school’.[283] [284] According to DeLong-Bas, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab never directly claimed to be a Hanbali jurist, warned his followers about the dangers of adhering unquestionably to fiqh, and did not consider “the opinion of any law school to be binding.”[285] He did, however, follow the Hanbali methodology of judging everything not explicitly forbidden to be permissible, avoiding the use of analogical reasoning, and taking public interest and justice into consideration.[285]

Loyalty and disassociation

According to various sources—scholars,[47][286][287] [288] [289][290] former Saudi students, [291] Arabic-speaking/reading teachers who have had access to Saudi text books, [292] and journalists[293] – Ibn `Abd al Wahhab and his successors preach that theirs is the one true form of Islam. According to a doctrine known as al-wala` wa al-bara` (literally, “loyalty and disassociation”), Abd al-Wahhab argued that it was “imperative for Muslims not to befriend, ally themselves with, or imitate non-Muslims or heretical Muslims”, and that this “enmity and hostility of Muslims toward non-Muslims and heretical had to be visible and unequivocal”.[294][295] Even as late as 2003, entire pages in Saudi textbooks were devoted to explaining to undergraduates that all forms of Islam except Wahhabism were deviation,[292] although, according to one source (Hamid Algar) Wahhabis have “discreetly concealed” this view from other Muslims outside Saudi Arabia “over the years”.[287][296]

In reply, the Saudi Arabian government “has strenuously denied the above allegations”, including that “their government exports religious or cultural extremism or supports extremist religious education.”[297]

Politics

According to ibn Abdal-Wahhab there are three objectives for Islamic government and society: “to believe in Allah, enjoin good behavior, and forbid wrongdoing.” This doctrine has been sustained in missionary literature, sermons, fatwa rulings, and explications of religious doctrine by Wahhabis since the death of ibn Abdal-Wahhab.[75] Ibn Abd al-Wahhab saw a role for the imam, “responsible for religious matters”, and the amir, “in charge of political and military issues”.[298] (In Saudi history the imam has not been a religious preacher or scholar, but Muhammad ibn Saud[299] and subsequent Saudi rulers.[64][300])

He also taught that the Muslim ruler is owed unquestioned allegiance as a religious obligation from his people so long as he leads the community according to the laws of God. A Muslim must present a bayah, or oath of allegiance, to a Muslim ruler during his lifetime to ensure his redemption after death.[75][301] Any counsel given to a ruler from community leaders or ulama should be private, not through public acts such as petitions, demonstrations, etc. [302] [303] (This strict obedience can become problematic if a dynastic dispute arises and someone rebelling against the ruler succeeds and becomes the ruler, as happened in the late 19th century at the end of the second al-Saud state.[304] Is the successful rebel a ruler to be obeyed, or a usurper?[305])

While this gives the king wide power, respecting shari’a does impose limits, such as giving qadi (Islamic judges) independence. This means not interfering in their deliberations, but also not codifying laws, following precedents or establishing a uniform system of law courts – both of which violate the qadi’s independence.[306]

Wahhabis have traditionally given their allegiance to the House of Saud, but a movement of “Salafi jihadis” has developed among those who believe Al Saud has abandoned the laws of God.[191][192] According to Zubair Qamar, while the “standard view” is that “Wahhabis are apolitical and do not oppose the State”, there is/was another “strain” of Wahhabism that “found prominence among a group of Wahhabis after the fall of the second Saudi State in the 1800s”, and post 9/11 is associated with Jordanian/Palestinian scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and “Wahhabi scholars of the ‘Shu’aybi‘ school”.[307]

Wahhabis share the belief of Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Islamic dominion over politics and government and the importance of dawah (proselytizing or preaching of Islam) not just towards non-Muslims but towards erroring Muslims. However Wahhabi preachers are conservative and do not deal with concepts such as social justice, anticolonialism, or economic equality, expounded upon by Islamist Muslims.[308] Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s original pact promised whoever championed his message, ‘will, by means of it, rule and lands and men.'”[28]

Population

One of the more detailed estimates of religious population in the Arabic Gulf is by Mehrdad Izady who estimates, “using cultural and not confessional criteria”, only 4.56 million Wahhabis in the Persian Gulf region, about 4 million from Saudi Arabia, (mostly the Najd), and the rest coming overwhelmingly from the Emirates and Qatar.[30] Most Sunni Qataris are Wahhabis (46.9% of all Qataris)[30] and 44.8% of Emiratis are Wahhabis,[30] 5.7% of Bahrainisare Wahhabis, and 2.2% of Kuwaitis are Wahhabis.[30] They account for roughly 0.5% of the world’s Muslim population.[309]

Notable leaders

There has traditionally been a recognized head of the Wahhabi “religious estate”, often a member of Al ash-Sheikh (a descendant of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab) or related to another religious head. For example, Abd al-Latif was the son of Abd al-Rahman ibn Hasan.

  • Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792) was the founder of the Wahhabi movement.[310][311]
  • Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1752–1826) was the head of Wahhabism after his father retired from public life in 1773. After the fall of the first Saudi emirate, Abd Allah went into exile in Cairo where he died.[310]
  • Sulayman ibn Abd Allah (1780–1818) was a grandson of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and author of an influential treatise that restricted travel to and residing in land of idolaters (i.e. land outside of the Wahhabi area).[310]
  • Abd al-Rahman ibn Hasan (1780–1869) was head of the religious estate in the second Saudi emirate.[310]
  • Abd al-Latif ibn Abd al-Rahman (1810–1876) Head of religious estate in 1860 and early 1870s.[310]
  • Abd Allah ibn Abd al-Latif Al ash-Sheikh (1848–1921) was the head of religious estate during period of Rashidi rule and the early years of King Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud.[310]
  • Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al ash-Sheikh (1893–1969) was the head of Wahhabism in mid twentieth century. He has been said to have “dominated the Wahhabi religious estate and enjoyed unrivaled religious authority.”[312]
  • Ghaliyya al-Wahhabiyya was a female military leader who defended Mecca against recapture by Ottoman forces.

In more recent times, a couple of Wahhabi clerics have risen to prominence that have no relation to ibn Abd al-Wahhab.

  • Abdul Aziz Bin Baz (1910–1999), has been called “the most prominent proponent” of Wahhabism during his time.[313]
  • Muhammad ibn al-Uthaymeen (1925–2001), another “giant”. According to David Dean Commins, no one “has emerged” with the same “degree of authority in the Saudi religious establishment” since their deaths.[313]

International influence and propagation

Explanation for influence

Khaled Abou El Fadl attributed the appeal of Wahhabism to some Muslims as stemming from

  • Arab nationalism, which followed the Wahhabi attack on the Ottoman Empire
  • Reformism, which followed a return to Salaf (as-Salaf aṣ-Ṣāliḥ);
  • Destruction of the Hejaz Khilafa in 1925;
  • Control of Mecca and Medina, which gave Wahhabis great influence on Muslim culture and thinking;
  • Oil, which after 1975 allowed Wahhabis to promote their interpretations of Islam using billions from oil export revenue.[314]

Scholar Gilles Kepel, agrees that the tripling in the price of oil in the mid-1970s and the progressive takeover of Saudi Aramco in the 1974–1980 period, provided the source of much influence of Wahhabism in the Islamic World.

… the financial clout of Saudi Arabia had been amply demonstrated during the oil embargo against the United States, following the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. This show of international power, along with the nation’s astronomical increase in wealth, allowed Saudi Arabia’s puritanical, conservative Wahhabite faction to attain a preeminent position of strength in the global expression of Islam. Saudi Arabia’s impact on Muslims throughout the world was less visible than that of Khomeini]s Iran, but the effect was deeper and more enduring. …. it reorganized the religious landscape by promoting those associations and ulemas who followed its lead, and then, by injecting substantial amounts of money into Islamic interests of all sorts, it won over many more converts. Above all, the Saudis raised a new standard – the virtuous Islamic civilization – as foil for the corrupting influence of the West.[84]

Funding factor

Estimates of Saudi spending on religious causes abroad include “upward of $100 billion”;[315] between $2 and 3 billion per year since 1975 (compared to the annual Soviet propaganda budget of $1 billion/year);[316] and “at least $87 billion” from 1987–2007.[317]

Its largesse funded an estimated “90% of the expenses of the entire faith”, throughout the Muslim World, according to journalist Dawood al-Shirian.[318] It extended to young and old, from children’s madrasas to high-level scholarship.[319] “Books, scholarships, fellowships, mosques” (for example, “more than 1,500 mosques were built from Saudi public funds over the last 50 years”) were paid for.[320] It rewarded journalists and academics, who followed it and built satellite campuses around Egypt for Al Azhar, the oldest and most influential Islamic university.[167] Yahya Birt counts spending on “1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centres and dozens of Muslim academies and schools”.[316][321]

This financial aid has done much to overwhelm less strict local interpretations of Islam, according to observers like Dawood al-Shirian and Lee Kuan Yew,[318] and has caused the Saudi interpretation (sometimes called “petro-Islam”[322]) to be perceived as the correct interpretation—or the “gold standard” of Islam—in many Muslims’ minds.[323][324]

Militant and political Islam

According to counter-terrorism scholar Thomas F. Lynch III, Sunni extremists perpetrated about 700 terror attacks killing roughly 7,000 people from 1981–2006.[325] What connection, if any, there is between Wahhabism and theJihadi Salafis such as Al-Qaeda who carried out these attacks, is disputed.

Natana De Long-Bas, senior research assistant at the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, argues:

The militant Islam of Osama bin Laden did not have its origins in the teachings of Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and was not representative of Wahhabi Islam as it is practiced in contemporary Saudi Arabia, yet for the media it came to define Wahhabi Islam during the later years of bin Laden’s lifetime. However “unrepresentative” bin Laden’s global jihad was of Islam in general and Wahhabi Islam in particular, its prominence in headline news took Wahhabi Islam across the spectrum from revival and reform to global jihad.[326]

Noah Feldman distinguishes between what he calls the “deeply conservative” Wahhabis and what he calls the “followers of political Islam in the 1980s and 1990s,” such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and later Al-Qaeda leaderAyman al-Zawahiri. While Saudi Wahhabis were “the largest funders of local Muslim Brotherhood chapters and other hard-line Islamists” during this time, they opposed jihadi resistance to Muslim governments and assassination of Muslim leaders because of their belief that “the decision to wage jihad lay with the ruler, not the individual believer”.[327]

Karen Armstrong states that Osama bin Laden, like most extremists, followed the ideology of Sayyid Qutb, not “Wahhabism”.[328]

More recently the self-declared “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been described as both more violent than al-Qaeda and more closely aligned with Wahhabism.

For their guiding principles, the leaders of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, are open and clear about their almost exclusive commitment to the Wahhabi movement of Sunni Islam. The group circulates images of Wahhabi religious textbooks from Saudi Arabia in the schools it controls. Videos from the group’s territory have shown Wahhabi texts plastered on the sides of an official missionary van.[329]

According to scholar Bernard Haykel, “for Al Qaeda, violence is a means to an ends; for ISIS, it is an end in itself.” Wahhabism is the Islamic State’s “closest religious cognate.”[329]

The Sunni militant groups worldwide that are associated with the Wahhabi ideology include: Al-Shabaab, Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and ISIS.[citation needed]

Criticism and controversy

Criticism by other Muslims

Among the criticism, or comments made by critics, of the Wahhabi movement are:

  • That it is not so much strict and uncompromising as aberrant,[330] going beyond the bounds of Islam in its restricted definition of tawhid (monotheism), and much too willing to commit takfir (declare non-Muslim and subject to execution) Muslims it found in violation of Islam[331] (in the second Wahhabi-Saudi jihad/conquest of the Arabian peninsula, an estimated 400,000 were killed or wounded according to some estimates[119][120][121][122]);
  • That bin Saud’s agreement to wage jihad to spread Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s teachings had more to do with traditional Najd practice of raiding – “instinctive fight for survival and appetite for lucre” – than with religion;[332]
  • That it has no connection to other Islamic revival movements;[333]
  • That unlike other revivalists, its founder Abd ul-Wahhab showed little scholarship – writing little and making even less commentary;[334]
  • That its rejection of the “orthodox” belief in saints, which had become a cardinal doctrine in Sunni Islam very early on,[335][336][337] represents a departure from something which has been an “integral part of Islam … for over a millennium.”[338][339] In this connection, mainstream Sunni scholars also critique the Wahhabi citing of Ibn Taymiyyah as an authority when Ibn Taymiyyah himself adhered to the belief in the existence of saints;[340]
  • That its contention towards visiting the tombs and shrines of prophets and saints and the seeking of their intercession, violate tauhid al-‘ibada (directing all worship to God alone) has no basis in tradition, in consensus or inhadith, and that even if it did, it would not be grounds for excluding practitioners of ziyara and tawassul from Islam;[331]
  • That its use of Ibn Hanbal, Ibn al-Qayyim, and even Ibn Taymiyyah‘s name to support its stance is inappropriate, as it is historically known that all three of these men revered many aspects of Sufism, save that the latter two critiqued certain practices among the Sufis of their time. Those who criticize this aspect of Wahhabism often refer to the group’s use of Ibn Hanbal’s name to be a particularly egregious error, arguing that the jurist’s love for the relics of Muhammad, for the intercession of the Prophet, and for the Sufis of his time is well established in Islamic tradition;[341]
  • That historically Wahhabis have had a suspicious willingness to ally itself with non-Muslim powers (specifically America and Britain), and in particular to ignore the encroachments into Muslim territory of a non-Muslim imperial power (the British) while waging jihad and weakening the Muslim Caliphate of the Ottomans;[342][343] and
  • That Wahhabi strictness in matters of hijab and separation of the sexes has led not to a more pious and virtuous Saudi Arabia, but to a society showing a very un-Islamic lack of respect towards women.

Initial opposition

The first people to oppose Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab were his father Abd al-Wahhab and his brother Salman Ibn Abd al-Wahhab who was an Islamic scholar and qadi. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s brother wrote a book in refutation of his brother’s new teachings, called: “The Final Word from the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sayings of the Scholars Concerning the School of Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab”, also known as: “Al-Sawa`iq al-Ilahiyya fi Madhhab al-Wahhabiyya” (“The Divine Thunderbolts Concerning the Wahhabi School”).[344]

In “The Refutation of Wahhabism in Arabic Sources, 1745–1932”,[344] Hamadi Redissi provides original references to the description of Wahhabis as a divisive sect (firqa) and outliers (Kharijites) in communications between Ottomans and Egyptian Khedive Muhammad Ali. Redissi details refutations of Wahhabis by scholars (muftis); among them Ahmed Barakat Tandatawin, who in 1743 describes Wahhabism as ignorance (Jahala).

Shi’a opposition

Al-Baqi’ mausoleum reportedly contained the bodies of Hasan ibn Ali (a grandson ofMuhammad) and Fatimah (the daughter of Muhammad).

In 1801 and 1802, the Saudi Wahhabis under Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud attacked and captured the holy Shia cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iraq and destroyed the tombs ofHusayn ibn Ali who is the grandson of Muhammad, and Ali (Ali bin Abu Talib), the son-in-law of Muhammad (see: Saudi sponsorship mentioned previously). In 1803 and 1804 the Saudis captured Mecca and Madinah and demolished various tombs of Ahl al-Bayt and Sahabah, ancient monuments, ruins according to Wahhabis, they “removed a number of what were seen as sources or possible gateways to polytheism or shirk” – such as the tomb of Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad. In 1998 the Saudis bulldozed and poured gasoline over the grave of Aminah bint Wahb, the mother of Muhammad, causing resentment throughout the Muslim World.[345][346][347]

Shi’a Muslims complain that Wahhabis and their teachings are a driving force behind sectarian violence and anti-Shia targeted killings in many countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Yemen. Worldwide Saudi run, sponsored mosques and Islamic schools teach Wahhabi version of the Sunni Islam that labels Shia Muslims, Sufis, Christians, Jews and others as either apostates or infidels, thus paving a way for armed jihad against them by any means necessary till their death or submission to the Wahhabi doctrine. Wahhabis consider Shi’ites to be the archenemies of Islam.[348][349]

Wahhabism is a major factor behind the rise of such groups as al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram, while also inspiring movements such as the Taliban.[350][351][352]

Sunni opposition

The historical Ajyad Fortress of the Ottoman Empire above was razed in 2002 to in order to permit the construction of the Abraj Al Bait hotel complex in Mecca below.

One early rebuttal of Wahhabism, (by Sunni jurist Ibn Jirjis) argued that “Whoever declares that there is no god but God and prays toward Mecca is a believer”, supplicating the dead is permitted because it is not a form of worship but merely calling out to them, and that worship at graves is not idolatry unless the supplicant believes that buried saints have the power to determine the course of events. These arguments were specifically rejected as heretical by the Wahhabi leader at the time. [353]

The Syrian professor and scholar Dr. Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti criticises the Salafi movement in a few of his works.[354]

Malaysia’s largest Islamic body, the National Fatwa Council, has described Wahhabism as being against Sunni teachings, Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the National Fatwa Council, said Wahhabi followers were fond of declaring Muslims of other schools as apostates merely on the grounds that they did not conform to Wahhabi teachings.[355]

Among Sunni Muslims, the groups and organizations worldwide that oppose the Wahhabi ideology include: Al Ahbash, Al-Azhar, Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a, Barelvi, Nahdlatul Ulama,Gülen movement, and Ansar dine.[citation needed]

The Sufi Islamic Supreme Council of America founded by the Naqshbandi Sufi Shaykh Hisham Kabbani classify Wahhabism as being extremist and heretical based on Wahhabism’s role as a terrorist ideology and labelling of other Muslims, especially Sufis as polytheists, a practice known as Takfir.[356][357][358][359]

Non-religious motivations

According to at least one critic, the 1744–1745 alliance between Ibn Abdul Wahhab and the tribal chief Muhammad bin Saud to wage jihad on neighboring allegedly false-Muslims, was a “consecration” by Ibn Abdul Wahhab of bin Saud tribe’s long standing raids on neighboring oases by “renaming those raids jihad.” Part of the Najd’s “Hobbesian state of perpetual war pitted Bedouin tribes against one another for control of the scarce resources that could stave off starvation.” And a case of substituting fath, “the ‘opening’ or conquest of a vast territory through religious zeal”, for the “instinctive fight for survival and appetite for lucre.” [332]

Wahhabism in the United States

A study conducted by the NGO Freedom House found Wahhabi publications in mosques in the United States. These publications included statements that Muslims should not only “always oppose” infidels “in every way”, but “hate them for their religion … for Allah’s sake”, that democracy “is responsible for all the horrible wars… the number of wars it started in the 20th century alone is more than 130 wars,” and that Shia and certain Sunni Muslims were infidels.[360][361] In a response to the report, the Saudi government stated, “[It has] worked diligently during the last five years to overhaul its education system” but “[o]verhauling an educational system is a massive undertaking.”[362]

A review of the study by the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated[363] Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) complained the study cited documents from only a few mosques, arguing most mosques in the U.S. are not under Wahhabi influence.[364] ISPU comments on the study were not entirely negative however, and concluded:

American-Muslim leaders must thoroughly scrutinize this study. Despite its limitations, the study highlights an ugly undercurrent in modern Islamic discourse that American-Muslims must openly confront. However, in the vigor to expose strains of extremism, we must not forget that open discussion is the best tool to debunk the extremist literature rather than a suppression of First Amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.[364]

Concern has been expressed over the fact that U.S. university branches, like the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and the Northwestern school of Journalism, housed in the wahabbi country of Qatar, are exposed to the extremist propaganda espoused by wahabist imams who preach at the Qatar Foundation mosque in Education City. Education City, a large campus where U.S. and European universities reside, hosted a series of religious prayers and lectures as part of a month-long annual Ramadan program in 2015. The prayers and lectures were held at the new lavish mosque in Doha’s Education City, which shares the same campus as prestigious schools in the U.S. like Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon. Among those who attended the lectures was a Saudi preacher who has described the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris as “the sequel to the comedy film of 9/11 “and another cleric who says, “Jews and their helpers must be destroyed.”[365] The mosque in education city has also been known to host extremist anti-semetic wahabbi preachers who speak against “Zionist aggressors” in their sermons and called upon Allah “to count them in number and kill them completely, do not spare a [single] one of them.”[365] There are further allegations which suggest that Qatar sent professors back to America for being Jewish[366] and that students attending American Universities in Qatar are required to dress in a manner that is respectful to Wahhabism.[367]

European expansion

There has been much concern, expressed in both American and European media and scholarship, over the fact that Wahhabi countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been financing mosques and buying up land all over Europe. Belgium, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy have all noted the growing influence that these Wahhabi countries have over territory and religion in Europe.[368]

The concern resonates at a local level in Europe as well. In 2016, the citizens of Brussels, Belgium overturned a 2015 decision to build a 600-person mosque next to the Qatari embassy. Fear largely emanates from the fact that Belgian citizens see the mosque as an opportunity for a Wahhabi country to exert control over Muslims in Europe, thus spreading the more extreme sect of Islam.[368]

Several articles have been written that list the Cork Islamic Cultural Center as an example of one of many properties throughout Europe, paid for by the Qatari government, in an effort to spread an extreme and intolerant form of Islam known as Wahhabism.[369][370]

The Assalam Mosque is located in Nantes, France was also a source on some controversy. Construction on the mosque began in 2009 and was completed in 2012. It is the largest mosque in its region in France. The mosque is frequently listed among examples of Qatar’s efforts to export Wahhabism, their extreme and often intolerant version of Islam, throughout Europe.[368][369]

Some of the initiatives of the Cultural Islamic Center Sesto San Giovanni in Italy, funded by Qatar Charity, have also raised concerns due to its ties to Wahhabbism. The Consortium Against Terrorist Finance (CATF) said that the mosque has a history of affiliation and cooperation with extremists and terrorists.[371] CATF notes that Qatar Charity “was named as a major financial conduit for al-Qaeda in judicial proceedings following the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania”, supported al-Qaeda operatives in Northern Mali, and was “heavily involved in Syria.”[371]

Munich Forum for Islam (MFI), also known as the Center for Islam in Europe-Munich (ZIEM), was another controversial initiative largely financed by the Wahhabi Gulf country of Qatar.[368] In 2013 German activists filed a lawsuit in opposition to the construction of the mosque. These activists expressed fear that the Qatari government aimed to build Mosques all over Europe to spread Wahhabism. But the government squashed the lawsuit. In addition to this 2014 ruling, another court ordered an anti-mosque protester to pay a fine for defaming Islam when the protester claimed that Wahhabi Islam is incompatible with democracy.[372]

The Islamic Cultural Center in Luxembourg was also funded by Qatar in what some note is an attempt by Qatar to spread Wahhabism in Europe.[373]

Destruction of Islam’s early historical sites

The Wahhabi teachings disapprove of “veneration of the historical sites associated with early Islam”, on the grounds that “only God should be worshiped” and “that veneration of sites associated with mortals leads to idolatry“.[374]However, critics point out that no Muslims venerate buildings or tombs as it is a shirk. Muslims visiting the resting places of Ahl al-Bayt or Sahabah still pray to Allah alone while remembering the Prophet’s companions and family members. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mazaar, mausoleums and other artifacts have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from the early 19th century through the present day.[49][50] This practice has proved controversial and has received considerable criticism from Sufi and Shia Muslims and in the non-Muslim world.

Ironically, despite Wahhabi destruction of many Islamic, non-Islamic, and historical sites associated with the first Muslims, Prophet’s family, his companions and a strict prohibition of visiting such (including mosques), Saudis renovated the tomb of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, turning his birthplace into a major tourist attraction and an important place of visitation within the kingdom’s modern borders.[375]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabism

Dore Gold

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dore Gold
דורי גולד
Dgold-05-master.jpg
11th Israel Ambassador to the United Nations
In office
1997–1999
Preceded by Gad Yaacobi
Succeeded by Yehuda Lancry
Personal details
Born 1953 (age 63–64)
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.

Dore Gold (Hebrew: דורי גולד‎‎, born 1953) is an Israeli diplomat who has served in various positions under several Israeli governments. He is the current President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was also an advisor to the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his first term in office. In May 2015, Netanyahu named him Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Early life

Dore Gold was born in 1953 in Hartford, Connecticut, in the United States, and was raised in a Conservative Jewish home. His primary education was spent at the Orthodox Yeshiva of Hartford.[1] In the 1970s, Gold attended Northfield Mount Hermon School (Class of 1971) and then enrolled in Columbia University. There Gold earned BA and MA in Political Science, and then a PhD in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies.[2]

He studied literary Arabic and specialized in International Law, and his doctoral dissertation was about Saudi Arabia. This research later formed the foundation for his 2003 New York Times bestseller, Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism. In the book, Gold argues that Saudi Arabia actively funds terrorism by supporting the enemies of the U.S. and attacking its allies.[3][4] Today, Gold lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Ofra, and his two children, Yael and Ariel.

Career

Dore Gold’s political career began in 1985 when Gold served as senior research associate at Tel Aviv University‘s Moshe Dayan Centre for Near East Studies. Later, he was appointed Director of the U.S. Foreign and Defense Policy Project at the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University and held this position from 1985 to 1996.[5]

Peace Negotiations

In 1991 Gold was an advisor to the Israeli delegation at the Madrid Peace Conference. From June 1996 to June 1997 he served as Foreign Policy Adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.[6] During the period in which Benjamin Netanyahu served as the head of the Israeli opposition, Gold was instrumental in forging the relationship between the Likud Party leadership and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in response to the strategic ties that were growing between Israel’s Labor government and the PLO under Yasser Arafat. Gold accompanied Netanyahu to meetings with the Jordanian leadership in 1994 and 1995 in London, Amman and in Aqaba. As the Foreign Policy Adviser under Netanyahu after the 1996 elections, Gold worked with the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan an