Story 1: Fed Desperate To Rise Above the Near Zero Fed Funds Rate Target Range — Need Three Months Of 300,000 Plus Per Month Job Creation, Wage Growth and 3% First Quarter 2015 Real Gross Domestic Product Growth Numbers To Jump to .5 – 1.0% Range Fed Funds Rate Target — June 2015 Launch Date Expected — Fly Me To The Moon — Summertime — Launch — Abort On Recession — Videos
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Fed Decision: The Three Most Important Things Janet Yellen Said
Press Conference with Chair of the FOMC, Janet L. Yellen
Monetary Policy Based on the Taylor Rule
Many economists believe that rules-based monetary policy provides better economic outcomes than a purely discretionary framework delivers. But there is disagreement about the advantages of rules-based policy and even disagreement about which rule works. One possible policy rule would be for the central bank to follow a Taylor Rule, named after our featured speaker, John B. Taylor. What would some of the advantages of a Taylor Rule be versus, for instance, a money growth rule, or a rule which only specifies the inflation target? How could a policy rule be implemented? Should policy rule legislation be considered? Join us as Professor Taylor addresses these important policy questions.
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Peter Schiff Interviews Keynesian Economist Laurence Kotlikoff 01-18-12
Larry Kotlikoff on the Clash of Generations
Extended interview with Boston University Economics Professor Larry Kotlikoff on his publications about a six-decade long Ponzi scheme in the US which he says will lead to a clash of generations.
Kotlikoff also touches on what his projections mean for the New Zealand economy and why Prime Minister John Key should take more attention of New Zealand’s ‘fiscal gap’ – the gap between all future government spending commitments and its future revenue track.
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Release Date: March 18, 2015
For immediate release
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January suggests that economic growth has moderated somewhat. Labor market conditions have improved further, with strong job gains and a lower unemployment rate. A range of labor market indicators suggests that underutilization of labor resources continues to diminish. Household spending is rising moderately; declines in energy prices have boosted household purchasing power. Business fixed investment is advancing, while the recovery in the housing sector remains slow and export growth has weakened. Inflation has declined further below the Committee’s longer-run objective, largely reflecting declines in energy prices. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.
Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators continuing to move toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee continues to see the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced. Inflation is anticipated to remain near its recent low level in the near term, but the Committee expects inflation to rise gradually toward 2 percent over the medium term as the labor market improves further and the transitory effects of energy price declines and other factors dissipate. The Committee continues to monitor inflation developments closely.
To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. In determining how long to maintain this target range, the Committee will assess progress–both realized and expected–toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments. Consistent with its previous statement, the Committee judges that an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting. The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term. This change in the forward guidance does not indicate that the Committee has decided on the timing of the initial increase in the target range.
The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. This policy, by keeping the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, should help maintain accommodative financial conditions.
When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent. The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Lael Brainard; Charles L. Evans; Stanley Fischer; Jeffrey M. Lacker; Dennis P. Lockhart; Jerome H. Powell; Daniel K. Tarullo; and John C. Williams.
Note: Projections of change in real gross domestic product (GDP) and projections for both measures of inflation are percent changes from the fourth quarter of the previous year to the fourth quarter of the year indicated. PCE inflation and core PCE inflation are the percentage rates of change in, respectively, the price index for personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and the price index for PCE excluding food and energy. Projections for the unemployment rate are for the average civilian unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of the year indicated. Each participant’s projections are based on his or her assessment of appropriate monetary policy. Longer-run projections represent each participant’s assessment of the rate to which each variable would be expected to converge under appropriate monetary policy and in the absence of further shocks to the economy. The December projections were made in conjunction with the meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on December 16-17, 2014.
1. The central tendency excludes the three highest and three lowest projections for each variable in each year. Return to table
2. The range for a variable in a given year includes all participants’ projections, from lowest to highest, for that variable in that year. Return to table
3. Longer-run projections for core PCE inflation are not collected. Return to table
Figure 1. Central tendencies and ranges of economic projections, 2015-17 and over the longer run
Central tendencies and ranges of economic projections for years 2015 through 2017 and over the longer run. Actual values for years 2010 through 2014.
Change in real GDP Percent
Upper End of Range
Upper End of Central Tendency
Lower End of Central Tendency
Lower End of Range
Unemployment rate Percent
Upper End of Range
Upper End of Central Tendency
Lower End of Central Tendency
Lower End of Range
PCE inflation Percent
Upper End of Range
Upper End of Central Tendency
Lower End of Central Tendency
Lower End of Range
Note: Definitions of variables are in the general note to the projections table. The data for the actual values of the variables are annual.
Figure 2. Overview of FOMC participants’ assessments of appropriate monetary policy
Appropriate timing of policy firming
Number of participants
Note: In the upper panel, the height of each bar denotes the number of FOMC participants who judge that, under appropriate monetary policy, the first increase in the target range for the federal funds rate from its current range of 0 to 1/4 percent will occur in the specified calendar year. In December 2014, the numbers of FOMC participants who judged that the first increase in the target federal funds rate would occur in 2015, and 2016 were, respectively, 15, and 2.
Appropriate pace of policy firming: Midpoint of target range or target level for the federal funds rate Number of participants with projected midpoint of target range or target level
Midpoint of target range
or target level (Percent)
Note: In the lower panel, each shaded circle indicates the value (rounded to the nearest 1/8 percentage point) of an individual participant’s judgment of the midpoint of the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate or the appropriate target level for the federal funds rate at the end of the specified calendar year or over the longer run.
Janet Yellen Isn’t Going to Raise Interest Rates Until She’s Good and Ready
The key words in Janet L. Yellen’s news conference Wednesday were rather pithy, at least by central bank standards. “Just because we removed the word ‘patient’ from the statement doesn’t mean we are going to be impatient,” Ms. Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, said.
With this framing, Ms. Yellen was putting her firm stamp on the policy of an institution she has led for just over a year — and making clear that she will not be boxed in. Her words and accompanying announcements conveyed the message that the Yellen Fed has no intention of taking the support struts of low interest rates away until she is absolutely confident that economic growth will hold up without them.
Ms. Yellen’s comments about patience versus impatience were part of that dance. But the dual message was even more powerful when combined with other elements of the central bank’s newly released information, which sent the signal that members of the committee intend to move cautiously on rate increases.
By eliminating the reference to “patience,” Paul Edelstein, an economist at IHS Global Insight, said in a research note, “The Fed did what it was expected to do.”
“But beyond that,” he added, “the committee appeared much more dovish and in not much of a hurry to actually pull the trigger.”
Fed officials’ forecasts of how high rates will be at year’s end for 2015, 2016 and 2017 all fell compared to where they were in December. They marked down their forecast for economic growth and inflation for all three years, implying that the nation’s economic challenge is tougher and inflation risks more distant than they had seemed a few months ago.
Particularly interesting was that Fed officials lowered their estimate of the longer-run unemployment rate, to 5 to 5.2 percent, from 5.2 to 5.5 percent. With joblessness hitting 5.5 percent in February, that implied that policy makers are convinced the job market has more room to tighten before it becomes too tight. Fed leaders now forecast unemployment rates in 2016 and 2017 that are a bit below what many view as the long-term sustainable level, which one would expect to translate into rising wages.
In other words, they want to run the economy a little hot for the next couple of years to help spur the kinds of wage gains that might return inflation to the 2 percent level they aim for, but which they have persistently undershot in recent years.
Apart from the details of the dovish monetary policy signals Ms. Yellen and her colleagues sent, it is clear she wanted to jolt markets out of any feeling that policy is on a preordained path.
At times over the last couple of years, the Fed had seemed to set a policy course and then go on a forced march until it got there, regardless of whether the jobs numbers were good or bad, or whether inflation was rising or falling. That is certainly how it felt when the Fed decided in December 2013 to wind down its quantitative easing policies by $10 billion per meeting, which it did through the first nine months of 2014 with few signs of re-evaluation as conditions evolved.
In her first news conference as chairwoman a year ago, Ms. Yellen had suggested that rate increases might be on a similar preordained path by saying that she could imagine rate increases “around six months” after the conclusion of quantitative easing. (That comment increasingly looks to have been a rookie mistake, and she later backed away from it.)
There are likely to be plenty of twists and turns in the coming months. After this week’s meeting, Ms. Yellen reinforced the message she has been trying to convey that the committee really will adapt its policy to incoming information rather than simply carry on with the path it set a year ago.
If the strengthening dollar and falling oil prices start to translate into still-lower expectations for future inflation, the Fed will hold off from rate rises — and the same if wage gains and other job market indicators show a lack of progress.
Conversely, if the job market recovery keeps going gangbusters and it becomes clear that inflation is going to rise back toward 2 percent, Ms. Yellen does not want to be constrained by language about “patience.”
“This change does not necessarily mean that an increase will occur in June,” Ms. Yellen said, “though we cannot rule that out.”
She has now bought herself some latitude to decide when and how the Fed ushers in an era of tighter money. Now the question is just how patient or impatient American economic conditions will allow her to be.
In economics, a Taylor rule is a monetary-policy rule that stipulates how much the central bank should change the nominal interest rate in response to changes in inflation, output, or other economic conditions. In particular, the rule stipulates that for each one-percent increase in inflation, the central bank should raise the nominal interest rate by more than one percentage point. This aspect of the rule is often called the Taylor principle.
The rule of was first proposed by John B. Taylor, and simultaneously by Dale W. Henderson and Warwick McKibbin in 1993. It is intended to foster price stability and full employment by systematically reducing uncertainty and increasing the credibility of future actions by the central bank. It may also avoid the inefficiencies of time inconsistency from the exercise ofdiscretionary policy. The Taylor rule synthesized, and provided a compromise between, competing schools of economics thought in a language devoid of rhetorical passion. Although many issues remain unresolved and views still differ about how the Taylor rule can best be applied in practice, research shows that the rule has advanced the practice of central banking.
As an equation
According to Taylor’s original version of the rule, the nominal interest rate should respond to divergences of actual inflation rates from target inflation rates and of actual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from potential GDP:
In this equation, both and should be positive (as a rough rule of thumb, Taylor’s 1993 paper proposed setting ). That is, the rule “recommends” a relatively high interest rate (a “tight” monetary policy) when inflation is above its target or when output is above its full-employment level, in order to reduce inflationary pressure. It recommends a relatively low interest rate (“easy” monetary policy) in the opposite situation, to stimulate output. Sometimes monetary policy goals may conflict, as in the case of stagflation, when inflation is above its target while output is below full employment. In such a situation, a Taylor rule specifies the relative weights given to reducing inflation versus increasing output.
The Taylor principle
By specifying , the Taylor rule says that an increase in inflation by one percentage point should prompt the central bank to raise the nominal interest rate by more than one percentage point (specifically, by , the sum of the two coefficients on in the equation above). Since the real interest rate is (approximately) the nominal interest rate minus inflation, stipulating implies that when inflation rises, the real interest rate should be increased. The idea that the real interest rate should be raised to cool the economy when inflation increases (requiring the nominal interest rate to increase more than inflation does) has sometimes been called the Taylor principle.
During an EconTalk podcast Taylor explained the rule in simple terms using three variables: inflation rate, GDP growth, and the interest rate. If inflation were to rise by 1%, the proper response would be to raise the interest rate by 1.5% (Taylor explains that it doesn’t always need to be exactly 1.5%, but being larger than 1% is essential). If GDP falls by 1% relative to its growth path, then the proper response is to cut the interest rate by .5%.
Alternative versions of the rule
While the Taylor principle has proved very influential, there is more debate about the other terms that should enter into the rule. According to some simple New Keynesian macroeconomic models, insofar as the central bank keeps inflation stable, the degree of fluctuation in output will be optimized (Blanchard and Gali call this property the ‘divine coincidence‘). In this case, the central bank need not take fluctuations in the output gap into account when setting interest rates (that is, it may optimally set .) On the other hand, other economists have proposed including additional terms in the Taylor rule to take into account money gap or financial conditions: for example, the interest rate might be raised when stock prices, housing prices, or interest rate spreads increase.
Although the Federal Reserve does not explicitly follow the Taylor rule, many analysts have argued that the rule provides a fairly accurate summary of US monetary policy under Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan. Similar observations have been made about central banks in other developed economies, both in countries like Canada and New Zealand that have officially adopted inflation targeting rules, and in others like Germany where the Bundesbank‘s policy did not officially target the inflation rate. This observation has been cited by Clarida, Galí, and Gertler as a reason why inflation had remained under control and the economy had been relatively stable (the so-called ‘Great Moderation‘) in most developed countries from the 1980s through the 2000s. However, according to Taylor, the rule was not followed in part of the 2000s, possibly leading to the housing bubble. Certain research has determined that some households form their expectations about the future path of interest rates, inflation, and unemployment in a way that is consistent with Taylor-type rules.
Athanasios Orphanides (2003) claims that the Taylor rule can misguide policy makers since they face real-time data. He shows that the Taylor rule matches the US funds rate less perfectly when accounting for these informational limitations and that an activist policy following the Taylor rule would have resulted in an inferior macroeconomic performance during the Great Inflation of the seventies.
Jump up^Henderson, D. W.; McKibbin, W. (1993). “A Comparison of Some Basic Monetary Policy Regimes for Open Economies: Implications of Different Degrees of Instrument Adjustment and Wage Persistence”. Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy39: 221–318. doi:10.1016/0167-2231(93)90011-K.
Story 1: Part 2 Commentary On: Three Cheers For Netanyahu’s Warning To American People About Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamic State and Three Thumbs Down On Obama’s Bad Deal With The Iranian Republic On Developing Nuclear Weapons And Intercontinental Missiles — “Your Enemy of Your Enemy Is Your Enemy” — Restore Severe Sanctions On Iran Immediately — Take Out The Nuclear Weapons Facilities With Israel Defense Forces – Stop Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Forever Now! — Videos
Iran Nuclear Site: Natanz Uranium Enrichment Site
Inside Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Plan
A Briefing on Iran’s Nuclear Program
Iranium – The Islamic Republic’s Race to Obtain Nuclear Weapons
O’Reilly on Iran Nuclear Deal: ‘Let’s See It’
Sen Rand Paul sounds off on Iran nuclear negotiations latest news today
Kerry says demanding Iran’s ‘capitulation’ is no way to secure nuclear deal
Benjamin Netanyahu speech to congress 2015 – Prime Minister of Israel Address Meeting of Congress
Benjamin Netanyahu speech to congress 2015 – Prime Minister of Israel Address Joint Meeting of Congress benjamin netanyahu speech to congress Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Address to a Joint Meeting of Congress Netanyahu on Tensions Over Iran Speech to Congress FULL Benjamin Netanyahu Speech To US Congress Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress The quickest of takes are already coming in, but few seem to agree about whether Netanyahu’s speech was a boom or a bust for President Obama and talks with Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Address to a Joint Meeting of Congress
“This was a speech the American people needed to hear, plain and simple. It addressed the gravity of the threats we face and why we cannot allow a nuclear Iran, or any semblance of a path to a nuclear Iran. It demonstrated why there is such deep-seated – and bipartisan – concern about the deal that is being made. I thank my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, who took the time to hear the Prime Minister’s address on behalf of their constituents, and I hope all Americans will have the chance to see it for themselves.” – Speaker John Boehner
Kerry says demanding Iran’s ‘capitulation’ is no way to secure nuclear deal
Iran Nuclear Talks Advancing, no Deal Likely Next Week
Negotiations on an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program have advanced substantially, but difficult issues remain and a senior U.S. official said he did not expect a deal in the coming week. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will join in talks next week between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Montreux, Switzerland. The United States and five major powers are seeking a deal under which Iran would restrain its nuclear program in exchange for the gradual easing of economic sanctions that have crippled the oil exporter’s economy. Washington and some of its allies believe Iran is seeking to develop an atomic bomb, which they regard as a direct threat to Israel as well as to Arab allies of the United States. Iran says its program is solely for peaceful purposes such as power generation.
Kerry Tries to Ease Gulf Countries’ Concerns On Iran Nuclear Talks
Krauthammer: Sanctions on Iran Are Only Way to Avoid Capitulation or War
Iran rejects US Nuclear Freeze Call
Rubio to Iran: You Can Have An Economy or Nukes Program, Not Both
Graham Discusses Secretary’s Kerry’s Testimony on U.S.-Iran Nuclear Negotiations
DNI James Clapper on Israel, Iran and Nuclear Negotiations (Mar. 2, 2015) | Charlie Rose
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, talks to Charlie Rose about the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and whether the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services are “on the same page” regarding their assessment of Iran’s capabilities. The full interview airs March 2, 2015 on PBS.
Ambassador John Bolton, American Enterprise Institute CPAC 2015
John Bolton: Obama giving Iran “an open path to nuclear weapons”
“The odds are right now the deal will be signed and that Iran will have an open path to nuclear weapons…there’s no guarantee that the verification mechanisms that are required are going to work. You really think we really know everything about Iran’s nuclear weapons program, like whether some of it’s being conducted in North Korea? I have no faith in our verification capabilities, number one. Number two, to the extent Iran is allowed any continuing uranium enrichment capability at all, and that’s where the administration’s concessions are moving, it has in its hands the long pole in the tent that any aspiring nuclear weapons state wants” he said. Adding that appeasing Iran is “par for the course for the Obama administration. The negotiation with Iran over its nuclear weapons program is a policy of appeasement, and the president is desperate to get this deal done so it doesn’t slip between his fingers.”
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History of Modern Iran A Nuclear Islamic Republic – BBC Documentary – YouTube
Like Israel, U.S. Arab Allies Fear Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal
Kerry Visiting Saudi Arabia to assuage concerns
By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV
DUBAI—It isn’t just about Bibi.
The Israeli prime minister’s public confrontation with PresidentBarack Obama over the U.S. administration’s pursuit of a nuclear bargain with Iran may have drawn all the spotlight this week. But America’s other key allies across the Middle East—such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates—are just as distraught, even if they lack the kind of lobbying platform that Benjamin Netanyahu was offered in Congress.
These nations’ ties with Washington have already frayed in recent years, dented by what many officials in the region describe as a nagging sense that America doesn’t care about this part of the world anymore.
Now, with the nuclear talks nearing a deadline, these allies—particularly in the Gulf—fret that America is about to ditch its long-standing friends to win love from their common foe, at the very moment that this foe is on the offensive across the region.
“A lot of the Gulf countries feel they are being thrown under the bus,” said Mishaal al-Gergawi, managing director of the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi and a prominent Emirati political commentator. “The Gulf thought it was in a monogamous relationship with the West, and now it realizes it’s being cheated on because the U.S. was in an open relationship with it.”
Trying to assuage such concerns, Secretary of State John Kerry flew Wednesday to Saudi Arabia. There, he is slated to discuss with King Salman and foreign ministers of other Gulf nations their worries that the nuclear deal may enable Iran to dominate the region.
In remarks after Mr. Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday, Mr. Obama acknowledged Iran’s “ambitions when it comes to territory or terrorism”—but argued that “if, in fact, they obtain a nuclear weapon, all those problems would be worse.”
Steven Simon, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute who served as senior director for Middle East and North Africa at the White House in 2011-12, noted that the Gulf countries—while genuinely alarmed by the U.S. outreach—can’t really propose a viable alternative.
“The alternative to what the administration is doing with Iran is war,” he said. “And I don’t think the Saudis and the Emiratis and others are actually prepared for war.”
America’s other key allies across the Middle East are just as distraught about Obama’s pursuit of a nuclear grand bargain with Iran. WSJ’s Yaroslav Trofimov discusses. Photo: AP
A joint effort to contain Iran and its proxies after the 1979 Islamic revolution was the key reason for the massive architecture of military, political and economic ties that the U.S. built with its regional allies in recent decades.
Even before the revolution, Iran tried to dominate the Gulf, laying claim to Shiite-majority Bahrain and seizing disputed islands claimed by the U.A.E.
Taking advantage of the Obama administration’s attempt to pivot away from the region, Tehran in recent years asserted its influence in Baghdad and solidified its control in Damascus and Beirut. Last month, pro-Iranian Houthi Shiite militias seized power in Yemen’s capital San’a and ousted that country’s U.S.-backed president.
The Sunni Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia that are engaged in proxy conflicts with Tehran in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon view this confrontation as an existential zero-sum game—and interpret any American opening to Iran, and any relaxation of the economic sanctions that have hobbled Iran’s ability to project power, as succor to the enemy.
“Some of these countries are more worried about the consequences of the deal, about how it will change the balance of power in the region, rather than the actual contents of the deal,” explained Ali Vaez, Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank. These fears are overblown, he said: “The reality is that the U.S. may have a tactical overlap in its interests in the region with Iran, but strategically it sees the region in a very different way.”
That may be true, but this tactical overlap has already created strategic consequences in the crucial battlefields of Syria and Iraq, cementing Iran’s sway in both nations.
The White House decision to focus the U.S. military effort exclusively on Islamic State, sparing the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, has allowed the regime and its Iranian-backed allies to regain ground there.
This means that even the fighters of the U.S.-funded Free Syrian Army, which is supposed to help defeat Islamic State one day, are no longer sure about which side Washington really supports.
“America wants to back whoever is stronger, and the strongest now are Iran and Bashar. This is clear to all people,” said Bakri Kaakeh, a senior FSA officer in Aleppo province.
In Iraq’s war against Islamic State, the U.S. has in fact become a cobelligerent with Iran, which maintains brutal Shiite militias and is directly involved in running major campaigns, such as the current assault on the Sunni city of Tikrit.“Any opportunities that the Arab countries will have to undermine the deal, they will not miss it,” said Riad Kahwaji, CEO of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai. “They will all conclude that the U.S. is no longer a reliable strategic ally, and that the U.S. can sell them out any minute.”
John Kerry in Switzerland before flying to Saudi Arabia Wednesday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Moeen al-Kadhimi, a senior commander in the largest Iraqi Shiite militia, Badr, which is armed by Iran and staffed with Iranian advisers, said he’s yearning for the day when Tehran and Washington will finally reconcile.
“It’s our wish as Iraqis for this to happen. We will be happy, and the entire Middle East will be stabilized,” he said.
Stability under an Iranian tutelage, of course, isn’t the most desirable outcome for other powers in the region, particularly in the Gulf. The big question is what can these allies do about it.
Not much, said Brian Katulis, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a think tank close to the Obama administration.
“All of the fuss shows how much they need America. Who are they going to turn to? Russia or China?” he wondered. “ No one has the security footprint, capabilities, and network of partnerships across the region.”
But that doesn’t mean the disgruntled allies won’t start looking for ways to torpedo any U.S. opening to Iran—and for alternatives, including a nuclear option of their own, if that fails. Their dismay with the administration’s Iran policy—while not displayed as publicly as Mr. Netanyahu’s—is just as strong.
… Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Pro Tem Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Minority — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry, it’s good to see you back on your feet.
I guess it’s true what they say, you can’t keep a good man down.
My friends, I’m deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the U.S. Congress.
I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.
I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.
I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.
The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.
Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American — of America’s people and of America’s presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.
Now, some of that is widely known.
Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.
Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.
I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.
In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.
Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.
In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.
And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.
But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.
And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome.
Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome.
Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Israel.
My friends, I’ve come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.
For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.
But Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.
The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.
That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran’s borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to “export the revolution throughout the world.”
I’m standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.
Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply.
Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That’s just last week, while they’re having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran’s attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.
Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.
In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.
So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.
We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.
Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!
Rouhani’s government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.
Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I’d like to see someone ask him a question about that.
Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of “Death to America,” that same America that it calls the “Great Satan,” as loud as ever.
Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.
But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.
Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don’t need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it.
Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.
The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.
According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.
Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.
And if — if Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.
True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here’s the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don’t stop them.
Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn’t stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.
Now, we’re warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.
Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It’s done that on at least three separate occasions — 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.
Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock — as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught — caught twice, not once, twice — operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn’t even know existed.
Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don’t know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, “If there’s no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn’t have one.” Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that’s why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.
But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.
Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it’s the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It’s a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran’s nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs.
Iran’s Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount — 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.
My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.
Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.
And by the way, if Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.
So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.
So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?
Well, I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite — would only wet Iran’s appetite for more.
Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it’s under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?
Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world’s: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?
This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel’s neighbors — Iran’s neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb.
And many of these neighbors say they’ll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won’t change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that’s supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.
This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.
If anyone thinks — if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come here today to tell you we don’t have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don’t have to gamble with our future and with our children’s future.
We can insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.
Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second…
Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.
If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.
If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.
If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.
My friends, what about the argument that there’s no alternative to this deal, that Iran’s nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?
Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn’t get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can’t drive. A pilot without a plan can’t fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can’t make nuclear weapons.
Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.
Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.
And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.
My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.
Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true.
The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.
A better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends.
A better deal that won’t give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country…
… no country has a greater stake — no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.
Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.
The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
You don’t have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire.
My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, “never again.”
And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.
But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.
We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.
This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.
But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.
I know that you stand with Israel.
You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors.
Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.
And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”
My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.
May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.
The prospective agreement is to be achieved based on the context of the Geneva agreement, officially titled the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). The Geneva agreement was an interim deal forged on November 24, 2013, under which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program for relief from some sanctions. The interim agreement went into effect on January 20, 2014. Later the parties agreed to extend their talks. The first extension deadline was set to 24 November 2014and, when it expired, the second extension deadline was set to 1 July 2015.
Catherine Ashton and Javad Zarif in final news conference; The negotiation was described “Useful”.
The first round of negotiations was held at the UN’s center in Vienna from February 18 to 20, 2014. A timetable and framework for negotiating a comprehensive agreement was achieved, according to Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Second round: 17–20 March
Diplomats from the six nations, as well as Ashton and Zarif, met again in Vienna on March 17, 2014. A series of further negotiations were to be held before the July deadline.
Fourth round: 13–16 May
This fourth round of Vienna negotiations ended on May 16. The Iranian and U.S. delegations headed by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political AffairsWendy Sherman held a bilateral meeting. Both sides intended to begin drafting a final agreement, but made little progress. A senior U.S. official said “We are just at the beginning of the drafting process and we have a significant way to go,” while Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters that “the talks were serious and constructive but no progress has been made” and “we have not reached the point to start drafting the final agreement.” The U.S. official emphasized that negotiations had been “very slow and difficult,” saying talks would resume in June and all parties want to keep the July 20 deadline and adding: “we believe we can still get it done.” Negotiators had made progress on one issue, the future of Iran’s planned Arak reactor, but remained far apart on whether Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium should shrink or expand. The U.S. delegation also raised the issues of Iran’s ballistic missile program and military dimensions of its past nuclear research. EU High RepresentativeCatherine Ashton conducted negotiations with Zarif and Wendy Sherman joined the talks at the end the last meeting.
Fifth round: 16–20 June
The fifth round of talks ended on June 20 “with substantial differences still remaining.” The negotiating parties will meet again in Vienna on July 2. Under Secretary Sherman noted after the talks that it was “still unclear” whether Iran would act “to ensure the world that its nuclear program was strictly meant for peaceful purposes.” Foreign Minister Zarif said the United States was making unreasonable demands of Iran, saying “the United States must take the most difficult decisions.”
Under the Geneva interim agreement Iran agreed to convert some of its up to 5 percent LEU into an oxide powder that is not suitable for further enrichment. According to the monthly IAEA report released during this round the conversion of LEU has not been started yet. This means that Iran’s LEU stockpile “is almost certainly continuing to increase for the time being, simply because its production of the material has not stopped, unlike that of the 20 percent uranium gas.”
Sixth (final) round: 2–20 July
The sixth round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group started in Vienna on 2 July 2014. The parties are headed by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif conduct a bilateral meeting in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western foreign ministers arrived at Vienna to break a deadlock in the nuclear talks with Iran, but their joint efforts failed to advance the negotiations. “There has been no breakthrough today,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague on 13 July 2014 after meetings with the foreign ministers of USA, France, Germany and Iran. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “It is now time for Iran to decide whether they want co-operation with the world community or stay in isolation.” The European foreign ministers left Vienna the same day. The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the talks had “made some important headway.”  After three days of talks with the Iranian Foreign Minister Secretary of State Kerry headed back to Washington where he will consult with President Barack Obama and Congress leaders. No decision on an extension of negotiations beyond the July 20 deadline has been taken yet. In order to continue talks a decision of each member of P5+1 is required.
Wrapping-up the sixth round the Foreign Minister Zarif said that the achieved progress convinced the sides to extend their talks and the ultimate deadline would be November 25. He also expressed the hope that the new British foreign secretaryPhilip Hammond “will adopt a constructive diplomacy” towards Iran. Several sources reported that all parties were prepared to extend negotiations but extension faced opposition in the U.S. Congress. Republicans and Democrats in Congress made it clear that they view a prolongation of the talks as allowing Iran to play for time. The Republican chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign AffairsEd Royce said he hoped “the administration will finally engage in robust discussions with Congress about preparing additional sanctions against Iran”.
Before the expiration of the six months imposed by the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) the sides agreed to extend negotiations by four months with a final deadline set for 24 November 2014. Additionally, in exchange for Iranian consent to convert some of its 20% enriched uranium into fuel for a research reactor, United States will unblock $2.8 billion in frozen Iranian funds. Negotiations will resume in September. John Kerry said that tangible progress had been made, but “very real gaps” remained. Ed Royce stated that he did not see “the extension as progress”.
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has testified before the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the status of the talks. At her testimony on July 29, 2014 she said: “We made tangible progress in key areas, including Fordow, Arak, and IAEA access. However, critical gaps still exist…” Both Republicans and Democrats have insisted that a final agreement be put to a vote.
Negotiations under the First Extension of JPA
Seventh (first extended) round: New York
Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program were resumed on 19 September 2014. They started on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts were given the opportunity to join the talks. The talks were planned to last until September 26.
Eighth round: Vienna
Negotiating teams of Iran and the P5+1 have held their eighth round of talks in Vienna on 16 October 2014. The meeting was led jointly by Foreign Minister Zarif and High Representative Ashton and the parties made an effort to sort out their differences. Ashton’s spokesman stated: “Diplomatic efforts to find a resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue are now in a critical phase”.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov pointed that the issues of Iran’s enrichment programme, the schedule for sanction lifting and the future of the reactor in Arak were not settled and the subjects of inspection and transparency, duration of the agreement and some others were not completely agreed yet. Ryabkov expressed his opinion that a comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran will require no ratification. “We are negotiating a binding document, but under a generally recognized doctrine international political liabilities are equated with legal,” he said and admitted that some resolutions of the Security Council on Iran will need to be adjusted.
Ninth round: Muscat
The round of talks took place on November 11 in the Omani capital Muscat and lasted one hour. At the meeting, Iranian deputy foreign ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht Ravanchi exchanged views with their counterparts from the P5+1. The round, chaired by former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, was scheduled to brief the P5+1 members on Kerry and Zarif’s talks. Local media reported that some representatives of the parties remained in Muscat to continue the talks.
Tenth round: Vienna
Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 resumed in Vienna on 18 November 2014 with participation of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, EU chief negotiator Catherine Ashton, and foreign ministry officials. The talks were supposed to continue until the November 24 deadline.
P5+1 Ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna, Austria, November 24, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry, after meeting British and Omani foreign ministers in London and Saudi and French foreign ministers in Paris, will arrive in Vienna for talks with Zarif and Ashton. Kerry’s meetings with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal were considered critical. After his Paris talks with Kerry Saudi Foreign Minister was due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
At IAEA meeting held on 20 November in Vienna the agency’s Director General Yukiya Amano, referring to allegations related to Iran’s engagement in weaponization activities, said that “Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures.” The same day at a press conference in Brussels The International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) presented its 100-page investigation report and claimed that Iran was hiding its nuclear military program inside a civil program. The report was endorsed by John Bolton and Robert Joseph and authored by ISJ President Alejo Vidal‐Quadras, a professor in nuclear physics and the former Vice-President of the European Parliament.
The tenth round of nuclear negotiations and the first extension of the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 have ended on November 24. The two sides have failed to cut a deal at this round of talks and agreed to extend the Joint Plan of Action for the second time. The new deadline for a comprehensive deal was set to July 1, 2015. British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said it was not possible to meet the November deadline due to wide gaps on well-known points of contention. He stressed that while July 1 was the new deadline, the expectation was that broad agreement would be in place by March 1. According to Hammond, expert level talks will resume in December and Iran will receive about $700 million per month in frozen assets.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a press conference after the Vienna talks: “Today the Iranian nuclear program is internationally recognized and no one speaks about our enrichment right…” While answering a question about “fundamental gaps over how much enrichment capacity Iran would be allowed to retain”, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a news conference: “I’m not going to confirm whether or not there’s a gap or not a gap or where the gaps are. There obviously are gaps. We’ve said that.”
Negotiations under the Second Extension of JPA
Eleventh round: Geneva
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 were resumed on 17 December 2014 in Geneva and lasted one day. No statements were issued after the closed-door talks either by the U.S. negotiating team or by EU spokesmen. Deputy foreign minister Araqchi said that it was agreed to continue the talks “next month” at a venue to be decided. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said that Arak heavy-water reactor and sanctions against Iran were the two key outstanding issues in the nuclear talks.
Twelfth round: Geneva
The round, held at the level of political directors of Iran and the P5+1, took place on January 18, 2015 following the four-day bilateral talks between the United States and Iran. EU political director Helga Schmid chaired the meetings. After the talks France’s negotiator Nicolas de la Riviere told reporters: “The mood was very good, but I don’t think we made a lot of progress.” “If there is progress it is a very slow one and there are no guarantees that this progress will transform into a decisive shift, breakthrough, into a compromise,” Russian negotiator Sergei Ryabkov told journalists, adding that “major disagreements remain on the majority of disputed issues.” 
Thirteenth round: Geneva
Representatives of Iran and the P5+1 met on February 22 at the EU mission in Geneva. Nicolas de la Riviere said after the meeting: “It was constructive, we will know results later.”
Bilateral and trilateral talks
U.S.-Iran bilateral talks
According to a statement of the U.S. State Department bilateral nuclear consultations between the U.S. and Iranian officials “will take place in the context of the P5+1 nuclear negotiations”. The talks were held August 7 in Geneva and only few details about them were provided. The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and included Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Jake Sullivan, national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden. The Iranian delegation included Deputy Foreign Ministers Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi.
Deputy Minister Abbas Araqchi said that the bilateral talks were useful and focused on “the existing differences” in the negotiations. Deputy Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi made it clear that Iran will not accept a weak enrichment programme, while saying “we will not accept that our uranium enrichment programme becomes something like a toy”.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, John Kerry and Catherine Ashton at a trilateral meeting in New York, September 26, 2014
The second round of the bilateral talks between representatives from the USA and Iran took place in Geneva on September 4–5. The negotiations consisted of 12 hours long political talks and 8 hours long expert talks. The third round of the bilateral talks between the two countries took place in New York on September 18, 2014.
According to The Associated Press, the U.S. has turned negotiations with Iran into a series of bilateral talks between the two countries that “race to seal a deal”.Gary Samore, former White House coordinator for arms control and WMD, participating in a panel, said: “Any deal will have to be struck between Washington and Tehran and then ratified by the P5+1 and ultimately the UN Security Council.”
On October 14 Iranian negotiators headed by the deputy foreign minister held a bilateral meeting with Senior U.S. Officials William Burns and Wendy Sherman in Vienna. Among other issues the negotiators set the stage for the trilateral meeting with Secretary Kerry, Baroness Ashton, and Foreign Minister Zarif that was convened for the next day.
The US and Iranian delegations met on December 15 to 16 in Geneva in preparation for the multilateral talks, led by the US Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi. A member of Tehran’s team told IRNA that uranium enrichment and how to remove sanctions were sticking points in the bilateral talks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif met with Secretary of State John Kerry on January 14 in Geneva and on January 16 in Paris. According to Al-Monitorthe negotiators have worked intensively to try draft a joint document called the Principles of Agreement. The document is supposed to be an element of the framework agreement between Iran and P5+1, which is to be completed by March.
Two rounds of bilateral negotiations between Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry occurred on February 6 and 8 on the sidelines of the Security Conference in Munich. During the conference, Mohammad Zarif gave an interview in which he claimed that IAEA inspected Iran for 10 years or more and found no evidence that Iran’s program wasn’t peaceful. He also claimed that JPA did not imply step-by-step removal of sanctions and the removal of sanctions has been “a condition for an agreement”. Foreign Minister Zarif stated: “I don’t think if we don’t have an agreement, it’ll be the end of the world. I mean, we tried, we failed, fine.” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, who also took part in the conference, pointed out that Iran must provide urgent clarification on key aspects of its nuclear program. Making this more specific Yukiya Amano said: “Clarification of issues with possible military dimension and implementation of the Additional Protocol and beyond is essential.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif held three bilateral meetings in Geneva on February 22 and 23.The Associated Press reported progress on a deal that would freeze Iran’s nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then “ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic arms.” After the talks Mohammad Zarif spoke about “a better understanding” between the parties and John Kerry said: “We made progress.” The columnist Charles Krauthammer commented on the leaked “sunset clause” that an agreement, containing this and other concessions to Iran, will mean “the end of nonproliferation.”
U.S.-EU-Iran trilateral talks
Iran, EU and U.S. held two trilateral meetings at the foreign minister level in New York in September 2014. The U.S. State Department has argued that there are points when it makes sense for the foreign ministers at the trilateral level to get together to talk. “In part because the majority of the sanctions are EU and U.S., the trilateral makes sense.”
On October 15 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Secretary of State John Kerry have met again, this time in Vienna. A senior U.S. Department of State official said at a briefing with reporters that the parties were focused on the November 24 deadline and had not discussed an extension of the talks. The negotiators were working on a full agreement – the understandings and the annexes to them. “This is a situation where unless you have the detail, you do not know that you have the agreement,” explained the official.
Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have held talks on November 9–10 inMuscat seeking to bridge differences on a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Officials from all delegations have abstained from briefing reporters. The talks ended without an imminent breakthrough.
After arriving in Viena on 20 November John Kerry met for more than two hours with Mohammad Zarif and Catherine Ashton. It was not reported whether they made any headway.
Uranium stockpile and enrichment
Diagram of nuclear power and weapons cycle
Iran’s nuclear enrichment capacity is the biggest stumbling block in the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement. The Security Council in its resolution 1929 has required Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. For many years the United States held that no enrichment program should be permitted in Iran. In signing the Geneva interim agreement the U.S. and its P5+1 partners shifted away from zero enrichment to limited enrichment objective. Additionally, they have determined that the comprehensive solution will “have a specified long-term duration to be agreed upon” and once it has expired Iran’s nuclear program will not be under special restrictions.
Limited enrichment would mean limits on the numbers and types of centrifuges. Shortly before the comprehensive negotiations began, Iran was estimated to have 19,000 centrifuges installed, mostly first generation IR-1 machines, with about 10,000 of them operating to increase the concentration of uranium-235. The Iranians strive to expand their enrichment capacity by a factor of ten or more while the six powers aim to cut the number of centrifuges to no more than a few thousand.
Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the IAEA, said in a radio interview that the agency does not have a complete picture of Iran’s nuclear profile since inspectors have been kept out of some sites. In particular, IAEA has not been able to assess “how much uranium has been produced in Iran over these years” and to verify the completeness of Iran’s declaration about the number of its centrifuges. Heinonen also pointed out that Iran has an “unfortunate history of misleading and not disclosing all its nuclear material.”
Western analysts argued there were two distinct paths to deal with Iran’s nuclear program: complete dismantling or allowing limited activities while preventing Iran from a nuclear “breakout capability”. The measures that would lengthen breakout timelines include “limits on the number, quality and/or output of centrifuges”. The former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security AffairsRobert Joseph has argued that attempts to overcome the impasse over centrifuges by using a malleable SWU metric “as a substitute for limiting the number of centrifuges is nothing more than sleight of hand.” He has also quoted former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying “any enrichment will trigger an arms race in the Middle East.”
In order to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes, constraints should be put on its uranium enrichment. This should include the number and quality of centrifuges, research and development of more advanced centrifuges, the size of low-enriched uranium stockpile. The constraints are interrelated with each other – the more centrifuges Iran would have, the less stockpile the U.S. and P5+1 can accept, and vice versa. Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, estimated in May 2014 that Iran’s stockpile was large enough to build 6 nuclear weapons and it had to be reduced.Lengthening breakout timelines requires a substantial reduction in enrichment capacity and many experts talk about an acceptable range of about 2000-6000 first-generation centrifuges. But Iran stated that it wants to extend its capability substantially. In May 2014 Robert J. Einhorn, former Special Advisor on Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at the U.S. State Department, expressed confidence that if Iran will continue to insist on that huge number of centrifuges, there would be no agreement, since this robust enrichment capacity would bring the breakout time down to weeks or days.
Plutonium production and separation
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that a good deal will be one that cuts off Iran’s uranium, plutonium and covert pathways to obtain nuclear weapon. Secretary of State John Kerry has testified before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs and expressed great concerns about the Arak nuclear reactor facility. “Now, we have strong feelings about what will happen in a final comprehensive agreement. From our point of view, Arak is unacceptable. You can’t have a heavy-water reactor,” he said. President Barack Obama, while addressing the House of Representatives and Senate, emphasized that “these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb.”
Arak Heavy Water Reactor (IR-40)
Despite these statements, some analysts have feared that Obama administration might accept dangerous concessions to achieve a deal with Iran. For example, Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and Chief of Staff to Undersecretaries of State for Arms, believed that such concessions were being proposed, and, as he explained: “… most dangerous is that we are considering letting Iran keep the Arak heavy water reactor which will be a source of plutonium. Plutonium is the most desired nuclear fuel for a bomb, it has a lower critical mass, you need less of it which is important in building missile warhead.”
The head of Atomic Energy Organization of IranAli Akbar Salehi said in an interview that the heavy water reactor of Arak was designed as a research reactor and not for plutonium production. It will produce about 9 kg of plutonium but not weapons-grade plutonium. Dr. Salehi explained that “if you want to use the plutonium of this reactor you need a reprocessing plant”. “We do not have a reprocessing plant, we do not intend, although it is our right, we will not forgo our right, but we do not intend to build a reprocessing plant.” Further in the interview Salehi expressed his opinion that the pressure on Iran has not been genuine, it has been just an excuse to put “political pressure” and the concern about developing nuclear weapons was “fabricated”.
According to information provided by the Federation of American Scientists, a sizable research program involving the production of heavy water might raise concerns about a plutonium-based weapon program, especially if such program was not easily justifiable on other accounts. Gregory S. Jones, a senior researcher and a defense policy analyst, warned that if the heavy-water-production plant at Arak was not dismantled, Iran would be granted a “plutonium option” for acquiring nuclear weapons in addition to the dangerous centrifuge enrichment program.
According to an editorial in the Washington Post, the most troubling part of the Geneva interim agreement has been the “long-term duration” clause. This provision means that when the duration expires, “the Iranian nuclear program will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party” to the NPT. Thus, once the comprehensive agreement expires, Iran will be able to install an unlimited number of centrifuges and produce plutonium without violating any international accord.” Many Western analysts have referred to the comprehensive agreement as a “final” nuclear agreement with Iran “but clearly it will only be a long-term interim agreement”.
Iran wants any agreement to last for at most 5 years while the U.S. prefers 20 years. The twenty years is viewed as a minimum amount of time to develop confidence that Iran can be treated as other non-nuclear weapon states and allow the IAEA enough time to verify that Iran is fully compliant with all its non-proliferation obligations.
The Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in May 2014: “Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist. … This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought.” This and other declarations of jihadist principles by Ayatollah Khamenei leave no doubt about Iran’s adoption of religiously-inspired combat against the U.S. and the West. These principles include aramesh (hudna) and such a truce cannot exceed 10 years.
Some analysts suggested that if a single 20-year duration for all provisions of the agreement is too constraining, it would be possible to agree on different durations for different provisions. Some provisions could have short duration, and others could be longer. A few constraints, like enhanced monitoring at specific facilities, could be permanent.
Possible covert paths to fissile material
Fordow Underground Fuel Enrichment Facility near Qom
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. “We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so,” Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said, according to a translation of an interview with him. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pronounced a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Some observers, however, have questioned the fatwa’s actual existence.
The Iranian uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz (FEP and PFEP) and Fordow (FFEP) were constructed covertly and designed to operate in a similar manner. The facilities were declared by Iran only after they were revealed by other sources. Thus, only in September 2009, Iran notified the IAEA about constructing the Fordow facility. The 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimateon Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions stated among the key judgments : “We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.” Additionally the Estimate stated that after 2003 Iran has halted the covert enrichment for at least several years.
The Estimate also stated: “We assess with moderate confidence that Iran probably would use covert facilities — rather than its declared nuclear sites — for the production of highly enriched uranium for a weapon.” Despite this assessment some analysts have argued that negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, as well as most public discussions, were focused on Iran’s overt nuclear facilities while there existed alternative paths to obtain fissile material. Graham Allison, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, and Oren Setter, a research fellow at Belfer Center, compared this approach with Maginot’sfixation on a single threat “that led to fatal neglect of alternatives”. They have pointed out at least three additional paths to obtain such material:
Hybrid pathway (a combination of overt and covert paths)
Some sources published recommendations for agreement provisions relating to monitoring and verification in order to prevent covert activities and to provide tools to react if needed. One of the sources warned the P5+1 that “if the monitoring elements that we recommend are not pursued now to diminish the risks of deception, it is difficult to envision that Iran would be compliant in the future, post-sanctions environment.” According to the recommendations the agreement with Iran should include:
A requirement to cooperate with the IAEA inspectors in compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions
Monitoring of nuclear research and development (R&D)
Defining certain activities as breaches of the agreement that could provide basis for timely intervention
According to multiple resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1929), enacted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, Iran is obligated to cooperate fully with the IAEA on “all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA…” On 11 November 2013 the IAEA and Iran signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation committing both parties to cooperate and resolve all present and past issues in a step by step manner. As a first step, the Framework identified six practical measures to be completed within three months. The IAEA reported that Iran had implemented those six measures in time. In February and May 2014 the parties agreed to additional sets of measures related to the Framework. In September the IAEA continued to report that Iran was not implementing its Additional Protocol, which is a prerequisite for the IAEA “to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared activities.” Under those circumstances, the Agency reported it will not be able to provide “credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran”
The implementation of interim Geneva Accord has involved transparency measures and enhanced monitoring to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. It was agreed that the IAEA will be “solely responsible for verifying and confirming all nuclear-related measures, consistent with its ongoing inspection role in Iran”. IAEA inspection has included daily access to Natanz and Fordow and managed access to centrifuge production facilities, uranium mines and mills, and the Arak heavy water reactor. To implement these and other verification steps, Iran committed to “provide increased and unprecedented transparency into its nuclear program, including through more frequent and intrusive inspections as well as expanded provision of information to the IAEA.”
Yukiya Amano and Mohammad Javad Zarif
Thus, there have been two ongoing diplomatic tracks — one by the P5+1 to curb Iran’s nuclear program and a second by the IAEA to resolve questions about the peaceful nature of Iran’s past nuclear activities. Although the IAEA inquiry has been formally separate from JPA negotiations, Washington said a successful IAEA investigation should be part of any final deal and that may be unlikely by the deadline of 24 November 2014.
One expert on Iran’s nuclear program, David Albright, has explained that “It’s very hard if you are an IAEA inspector or analyst to say we can give you confidence that there’s not a weapons program today if you don’t know about the past. Because you don’t know what was done. You don’t know what they accomplished.” Albright argued that this history is important since the “infrastructure that was created could pop back into existence at any point in secret and move forward on nuclear weapons.”
Iranian and IAEA officials met in Tehran on 16 and 17 August 2014 and discussed the five practical measures in the third step of the Framework for Cooperation agreed in May 2014.Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA, made a one-day visit to Tehran on August 17 and held talks with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and other senior officials. After the visit Iranian media criticized the IAEA while reporting that President Rouhani and the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Salehi both tried “to make the IAEA chief Mr. Amano understand that there is an endpoint to Iran’s flexibility.” The same week Iranian Defense MinisterHossein Dehghan said that Iran will not give IAEA inspectors access to Parchin military base. Yukiya Amano has noted previously that access to the Parchin base was essential for the Agency to be in position to certify Iran’s nuclear programme as peaceful. Tehran was supposed to provide the IAEA with information related to the initiation of high explosives and to neutron transport calculations until August 25, but it failed to address these issues. The two issues are associated with compressed materials that are required to produce a warhead small enough to fit on top of a missile. During its October 7–8 meetings with IAEA in Tehran, Iran failed to propose any new practical measures to resolve the disputable issues.
Nuclear-related issues beyond the negotiations
There are many steps toward nuclear weapons. However, an effective nuclear weapons capability has only three major elements:
Fissile or nuclear material in sufficient quantity and quality
Effective means for delivery, such as a ballistic missile
Design, weaponization, miniaturization, and survivability of the warhead
Evidence presented by the IAEA has shown that Iran has pursued all three of these elements: it has been enriching uranium for more than ten years and is constructing a heavy water reactor to produce plutonium, it has a well-developed ballistic missile program, and it has tested high explosives and compressed materials that can be used for nuclear warheads.
Some analysts believe that Iran’s nuclear program should be negotiated in its entirety — it must include not only fissile material discussions but also ballistic missile development and weaponization issues.
Priorities in monitoring and prevention
Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State, has explained in his recent book (2014): “The best—perhaps the only—way to prevent the emergence of a nuclear weapons capability is to inhibit the development of a uranium-enrichment process …”
Joint Plan of Action has not explicitly addressed the future status of Iran’s ballistic missile program. However, having been an interim agreement, it could not take into account all the issues that should be resolved as part of a comprehensive agreement. If a comprehensive agreement with Iran “does not tackle the issue of ballistic missiles, it will fall short of and may undermine … UN Security Council Resolutions.” Moreover, shifting “monitoring and prevention aims onto warheads without addressing Iran’s ballistic missile capacity also ignores U.S. legislation that forms the foundation of the sanctions regime against Iran”.
Additionally, “monitoring warhead production is far more difficult than taking stock” of ballistic missiles and the U.S. government is far less good at detecting advanced centrifuges or covert facilities for manufacturing nuclear warheads.
Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon official and a holder of the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), highlighted the view that the U.S. and other members of the P5+1, along with their attempts to limit Iran’s breakout capability and to prevent it from getting even one nuclear device, should mainly focus “on reaching a full an agreement that clearly denies Iran any ability to covertly create an effective nuclear force.”
Ballistic missile program
Iran’s ballistic missiles have been tied to its nuclear-weapons program. Security Council Resolution 1929 “decides that Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” In May–June 2014 a U.N. Panel of Experts submitted a report pointing to Iran’s engagement in ballistic missile activities. The Panel reported that over the last year Iran has conducted a number of ballistic missile test launches, which were a violation of paragraph 9 of the resolution.
The United States and its allies view Iran’s ballistic missiles as a subject for the talks on a comprehensive agreement since they regard it as a part of Iran’s potential nuclear threat. Members of Iran’s negotiating team in Vienna insisted the talks won’t focus on this issue.
A few days before May 15, date when the next round of the negotiations was scheduled, Iran’s Supreme Leader AyatollahAli Khamenei told the IRNA news agency that Western expectations on limits to Iran’s missile program were “stupid and idiotic” and called on the country’s Revolutionary Guards to mass-produce missiles.
In his testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services, Managing Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Michael Singh argued “that Iran should be required to cease elements of its ballistic-missile and space-launch programs as part of a nuclear accord.” This question was off the table since Iran’s Supreme Leader has insisted that Iran’s missile program is off-limits in the negotiations and P5+1 officials have been ambiguous.
According to Debka.com, U.S. in its direct dialogue with Iran outside the P5+1 framework demanded to restrict Iran’s ICBM, whose 4,000 kilometers range places Europe and the United States at risk. This demand did not apply to ballistic missiles, whose range of 2,100 km covers any point in the Middle East. These medium-range missiles may also be nuclear and are capable of striking Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.
Iranian Defense MinisterHossein Dehghan stated at a press conference on August 2014 that Iran’s missile capability issue was not included in the comprehensive talks with the P5+1 countries and “will by no means be negotiated with anyone”.
In a Senate committee hearing former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz has expressed believe that Iran’s missile program and its ICBM capability, as well as its support of the terrorism, should also be on the table.
Possible military dimensions
Since 2002, the IAEA has become concerned and noted in its reports that some elements of Iran’s nuclear program could be used for military purposes. More detailed information about suspected weaponization aspects of Iran’s nuclear program – the possible military dimensions (PMD) – has been provided in the IAEA reports issued in May 2008 and November 2011. The file of Iran’s PMD issues included development of detonators, high explosives initiation systems, neutron initiators, nuclear payloads for missiles and other kinds of developments, calculations and tests. The Security Council Resolution 1929 reaffirmed “that Iran shall cooperate fully with the IAEA on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the IAEA.”
In November 2013 Iran and the IAEA have signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation committing both parties to resolve all present and past issues. In the same month the P5+1 and Iran have signed the Joint Plan of Action, which aimed to develop a long-term comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA continued to investigate PMD issues as a part of the Framework for Cooperation. The P5+1 and Iran have committed to establish a Joint Commission to work with the IAEA to monitor implementation of the Joint Plan and “to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern” with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including PMD of the program and Iran’s activities at Parchin. Some analysts asked what happens if Iran balks and IAEA fails to resolve significant PDM issues. According to the U.S. Department of State, any compliance issues wouldn’t be discussed by the Joint Commission but would be dealt “at the expert level, and then come up to the political directors and up to foreign ministers if needed.” Thus, an unresolved issue might be declared sufficiently addressed as a result of a political decision.
Prior to the signing of an interim nuclear agreement, it was commonly understood in Washington that Iran must “come clean about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program,” as Undersecretary Wendy Sherman testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2011. The Iranians have refused to acknowledge having a weaponization program. Meanwhile, analysts close to the Obama administration begin to boost so-called limited disclosure option.Nevertheless, 354 members of U.S. Congress were “deeply concerned with Iran’s refusal to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.” On October 1, they sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry stating that “Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement.”
Some organizations have published lists of suspected nuclear-weaponization facilities in Iran. Below is a partial list of such facilities:
Institute of Applied Physics (IAP)
Kimia Maadan Company (KM)
Parchin Military Complex
Physics Research Center (PHRC)
Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC)
In September 2014 the IAEA reported about ongoing reconstructions at Parchin military base. The Agency has anticipated that these activities will further undermine its ability to conduct effective verification if and when this location would be open for inspection. A month later, The New York Times reported that according to a statement by Yukiya Amano, the IAEA Director General, Iran had stopped answering the Agency’s questions about suspected past weaponization issues. Iran has argued that what has been described as evidence is fabricated. In his speech at Brookings Institution Yukiya Amano said that progress has been limited and two important practical measures, which should have been implemented by Iran two months ago, have still not been implemented. Mr. Amano stressed his commitment to work with Iran “to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme”. But he also warned: “this is not a never-ending process. It is very important that Iran fully implements the Framework for Cooperation – sooner rather than later.”
Supreme leader’s Fatwa against nuclear weapon
Ali Khamenei, Iranian leader issued a Fatwa (religious edict) denouncing nuclear weapon and calling it as “Haraam” (Forbidden by religion). American officials noticed the topic several times and called it as a point to start discussions. In an interview in Jordan, Kerry said he respect the idea.
Some observers, however, have questioned the fatwa’s actual existence.
Ayatollah Jalal Ganje’i, a ayatollah based in Paris, has given a detailed explanation why it is “more than evident” that there is no fatwa to back up the regime’s officials when they claim that Iran has only peaceful intentions for its nuclear program. Ayatollah Ganje’i has concluded his comments as follows: “President Obama and other Western leaders cannot set policy according to non-binding and easily reversible remarks by Khamenei. Doing so would put the world in great peril on the basis of a fantasy.” The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made “a clear-cut distinction between the notion of pure Islam of the Prophet Mohammad and the American-style Islam”, but ‘Paris-style’ Islam has not been declared illegal.
The head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said in April 2014 that a dispute between world powers and Iran over its heavy water reactor at Arak had been “virtually resolved” and the reactor will be redesigned to produce one-fifth of the plutonium initially planned for it.
In May 2014, after the fourth round closing, Abbas Araqchi announced on Iranian TV that Arak reactor will remain a heavy water facility and would continue its work with 40 megawatts of power.
In June 2014, Salehi announced that Iran was redesigning the Arak reactor to produce less than 1 kg of plutonium per year, compared to 9–10 kg per year with the original design. Princeton University experts had proposed a redesign involving changing the reactor’s fuel and reducing its power level, with a similar effect on plutonium production. However, the concern remained that this redesign could be reversed.
After the sixth round of negotiations Abbas Araqchi had made clear that “any agreement about Arak or Fordo nuclear facilities is denied”.
France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on June 10, 2014 that the biggest point of disagreement in the talks is how many centrifuges Iran will be allowed. The six powers say Iran may keep some hundreds of centrifuges while the Iranians say they require hundreds of thousands of centrifuges. “…what is the purpose of having thousands of centrifuges if we’re not heading towards an atomic bomb? So the question that will be asked in the coming weeks is whether Iran is really ready to accept to give up the atomic bomb or not,” Fabius said.
The FATF has been “particularly and exceptionally concerned” about Iran’s failure to address the risk of terrorist financing. Iran was included in FATF blacklist.In 2014 Iran remained a state of proliferation concern. Despite multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions requiring Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear proliferation activities, Iran has continued to violate its international obligations regarding its nuclear program.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is “completely peaceful and has always been carrying out under supervision of the IAEA”. Some analysts argue that “Iranian actions, including the evidence of work on weaponization, the development of long-range ballistic missiles, and the placement of the program within the IRGC” indicate that Iran’s arsenal is not virtual.
According to policy documents published by the Obama administration, it believes in the efficacy of traditional Cold War deterrence as the remedy to the challenge of states acquiring nuclear weapons. Another assumption of the administration is that the Iranian regime is “rational” and hence deterrable. Dr. Shmuel Bar, former Director of Studies at the Institute of Policy and Strategy in Herzliya, has argued in his research that the Cold War deterrence doctrine will not be applicable to nuclear Iran. The inherent instability of the Middle East and its regimes, the difficulty in managing multilateral nuclear tensions, the weight of religious, emotional, and internal pressures, and the proclivity of many of the regimes toward military adventurism and brinkmanship give little hope for the future of the region once it enters the nuclear age. By its own admission, the Iranian regime favors revolution and is against the status quo in the region. Shmuel Bar has characterized the regime as follows:
“Since its inception, it has been committed to ‘propagation of Islam’ (tablighi eslami) and ‘export of revolution’ (sudur inqilab). The former is viewed by the regime as a fundamental Islamic duty and the latter as a prime tenet of the regime’s ideology, enshrined in the constitution and the works of the Imam Khomeini. Together they form a worldview that sees Islamic Iran as a nation with a ‘manifest destiny': to lead the Muslim world and to become a predominant regional ‘superpower’ in the Gulf, the heart of the Arab world, and in Central Asia.” 
A quite different approach to Iran has been proposed by The Economist:
“The disastrous presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the failed Green revolution—which sought to topple him in 2009—and the chaotic Arab spring have for the moment discredited radical politics and boosted pragmatic centrists. The traditional religious society that the mullahs dreamt of has receded… Although this hardly amounts to democracy, it is a political marketplace and, as Mr Ahmadinejad discovered, policies that tack away from the consensus do not last. That is why last year Iran elected a president, Hassan Rohani, who wants to open up to the world and who has reined in the hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has declared on September 4, 2014 that the way forward for his regime is to ramp up its “eqtedar” (might). Ayatollah Jalal Ganje’i has explained that Iranian regime intended to achieve this by one of two ways: to expand regional influence through the export of terrorism, officially described as “export of revolution” or to develop nuclear weapons.
The fighters from Hezbollah and Quds forces have been publicly operating in several foreign territories. Iran and pro-Iranian proxies have been military involved inSyria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and other regional nations. Iranian state TV has been showing the pictures of the commander of Quds force in foreign territories and pointing to the Islamic Republic’s indispensable power and influence in the Middle East. Iranian leaders have been attempting to reassert their power and supremacy in the region more publicly and sending the signal to other states that “Iran is in fact the sole regional power to rely on rather than the United States and Western allies.”
Iran has developed a close and cooperative relationship with Cuba and Venezuela against the U.S. Having limited military capabilities and substantial distance from the region, Iran, in case of a conflict with the U.S., would be able to launch an asymmetrical offensive against the U.S. “through surrogate terrorist states and paramilitary organizations.” Iran and Hizbullah also maintain a considerable presence in other countries of Latin America.
On January 4, 2015 President of Iran Hassan Rouhani pointed out that the Iranians cause was not connected to a centrifuge, but to their “heart and willpower”. He added that Iran couldn’t have sustainable growth while it was isolated. So he would like some economic reforms passed by referendum. These words could be considered as willingness to work with international powers. But a few days later Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who makes final and conclusive decisions on all matters of Iranian national security, warned that “Americans are impudently saying that even if Iran backs down on the nuclear issue, all the sanctions will not be lifted at once.” Iran should therefore “take the instrument of sanctions out of enemy’s hands” and develop “economic of resistance.”
“They’re trying to develop nuclear weapons. There is no sensible explanation for the extent, the money, the talent they’ve devoted to their nuclear thing, other than that they want a nuclear weapon. It can’t be explained any other way.”
“They give every indication, Mr. Chairman, that they don’t want a nuclear weapon for deterrence, they want a nuclear weapon to use it on Israel. So it’s a very threatening situation.”
In its Nuclear Posture Review in April 2010 the U.S. has stated that in Asia and the Middle East – where there were no military alliances analogous to NATO – it had mainly extended deterrence through bilateral alliances and security relationships and through its forward military presence and security guarantees. According to the Review Report: “The Administration is pursuing strategic dialogues with its allies and partners in East Asia and the Middle East to determine how best to cooperatively strengthen regional security architectures to enhance peace and security, and reassure them that U.S. extended deterrence is credible and effective.” Since 2010 the U.S. position has been less clear and it seems “to be deliberately lowering its profile – either because it might interference with negotiations by the 5+1 or because it has less support within the Obama Administration.”
Two weeks after the Geneva interim deal was achieved, President Barack Obama disclosed in an interview that while taking office, he decided to “reach out to Iran” and open up a diplomatic channel. He emphasized: “the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons is for a comprehensive, verifiable, diplomatic resolution, without taking any other options off the table if we fail to achieve that.” The President also expressed strong belief that an end state can be envisioned, where Iran will not have breakout capacity. Barack Obama, however, added: “If you asked me what is the likelihood that we’re able to arrive at the end state that I was just describing earlier, I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50/50.”
About fourteen months after the Geneva interim agreement was signed, President Barack Obama reiterated his assessment that the chances to “get a diplomatic deal are probably less than 50/50.” Shortly afterwards, in his State of the Union presented to a joint session of the United States Congress, the President announced: “Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.” The accuracy of this statement has been challenged by some media sources. For example, based on experts’ assessments Glenn Kessler from the Washington Post has come to the conclusion that between 2013 and 2014 the amount of nuclear material, which could be converted by Iran to a bomb, has been increased. Olli Heinonen observed that the interim agreement “is just a step to create negotiation space; nothing more. It is not a viable longer term situation.” Jeffrey Lewis observed that Obama’s statement was an oversimplification, and that while Iran’s stockpiles of the “most dangerous” nuclear materials had declined, overall stocks had increased. Right-wing publications The Federalist and The Washington Free Beacon have said that the Iranians have exploited loopholes in the interim agreement and made significant progress on all areas of their nuclear program. Right-wing commentator Fred Fleitz stated in The National Review Online that the “number of nuclear weapons Iran could make from its enriched uranium has steadily risen throughout Mr. Obama’s presidency”.Both, the mainstream Washington Post and the conservative National Review Online, presented the Center for Security Policy’s chart that illustrates Iran’s build-up of nuclear material since 2009.
United Kingdom is interested in constructive relationship with Iran. For decades Iran has been regarded as a threat to the security of the UK and its regional partners in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. The UK believes that negotiations in Vienna are the most appropriate framework for coping with Iranian nuclear intentions. The British Government is satisfied with the convergence of UK and US policy on Iran and with a united front maintained by the P5+1 countries. It also assures that the agreement with Iran does not imply any diminution in the commitments to the alliances in the region and to the struggle against terrorism. Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons expressed opinion that the comprehensive agreement should include the issues of Parchin Military Complex.
Non-negotiating countries’ positions
Saudi Arabia fears that a deal with Iran could come at expense of Sunni Arabs. President Barack Obama paid a visit to Riyadh in March 2014 and assured King Abdullah that he is determined to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that USA will not accept a bad deal. However, an editorial in Al Riyadh newspaper claimed that the president did not know Iran as the Saudis did, and could not convince them that Iran will be peaceful.
After the meetings between Western foreign ministers and Iranian counterpart on 13 July 2014 Prime Minister of IsraelBenjamin Netanyahu in an interview with Fox News warned that “a bad deal is actually worse than no deal.” He explained that allowing Iran to stockpile nuclear material or to preserve the capability of uranium enrichment in return for the presence of international inspectors would lead to a “catastrophic development”. At his meeting with Barack Obama in Washington in October 2014, Benjamin Netanyahu warned U.S. President not to accept any Iran deal that would allow Tehran to become a “threshold nuclear power.” Netanyahu’s remark highlighted the long-standing disagreement between Israel and the Obama administration on the nuclear talks with Iran.
In his speech presented to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that the negotiated deal was bad because of its two major concessions: leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. “It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” said the Prime Minister. Netanyahu also urged the leaders of the world “not to repeat the mistakes of the past” and expressed his commitment that “if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
Iran needs oil at $136 a barrel to finance its spending plans. In 2013 it spent $100 billion on consumer subsidies, about 25% of GDP. “Sanctions mean it cannot borrow its way out of trouble”.
Collapse of negotiations]
Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman warned that a failure of the nuclear negotiations with Iran will lead to a dangerous escalation by both Tehran and the West. “That is why I say the stakes are quite high here,” she said on October 23, 2014. “The alternatives are quite terrible.”
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has supposed that if the parties don’t reach an agreement by the June 30, 2015, the United States may turn on its ability “to use cyberweapons to attack Iranian nuclear facilities” and Iran may turn on its ability “to wage covert war through its proxies in the Middle East.”
Cutting a bad nuclear deal with Iran
A deal “that removes the most important sanctions but does not extend Iran’s breakout scenario to at least six months, that does not address the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work, that does not allow for rigorous monitoring and transparency, that places only short duration constraints that are easily reversible, and that unravels sanctions against Iran’s support for terrorism and gross human rights violations as well” is a bad deal. This definition has been given by a former senior analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense J. Matthew McInnis at his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on November 18, 2014.
A bad deal will leave everyone in the region uncertain about Iran’s intentions and potential nuclear weapons capabilities. It will lead other countries to take potentially dangerous decisions, such as acquiring nuclear weapons or making strategic accommodation with Iran. According to McInnis, “In the worst case scenario, we could eventually face a nuclear Iran, for whom classic containment and deterrence approaches are unlikely to be effective.”
Testifying before the Committee David Albright said that in order to avoid a bad nuclear deal with Iran “the P5+1 must hold strong on achieving an agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program to a reasonable civilian capability, significantly increases the timelines for breakout to nuclear weapons, and introduces enhanced verification that goes beyond the IAEA’s Additional Protocol.”
Albright also highlighted at his testimony that a “sound deal” will require Iran to address IAEA’s concerns about PMD of its nuclear program before a deal is finalized or the economic or financial sanctions are relieved. To achieve a “verifiable solution” Iran will have to significantly reduce the number of its centrifuges and uranium stocks, as well as to limit its centrifuge R&D programs.
U.S. President vs Congress
The president remains in overall control of foreign policy and defence. “Mr Obama would probably veto any bill that tightened sanctions against his wishes.”
According to Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School professor and a former Bush administration official, President Obama has the authority to “waive most if not all sanctions against Iran for the remaining two years of his term.” If he does so, the deal with Iran “will be tenuous”. The President believes that Congress will not cooperate on this issue now. “So if he wants a deal with Iran (which he clearly does), Obama must strike the deal on his own.” If President Obama suspends sanctions the entire sanctions regime will probably collapse. “The end result would be a deal that expires when Obama leaves and a sanctions regime in tatters. Iran will then have exactly what it wants — relief from sanctions, a deal that doesn’t block it from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability … and a revived economy,” has argued Jennifer Rubin, a lawyer and a columnist for The Washington Post.”
The lawyer Alan Dershowitz is of the view that if “Congress chooses to assert its constitutional power to participate in foreign policy decisions”, Obama would not have a completely free hand in making a deal with Iran. In case of a constitutional conflict between these branches of government, the Supreme Court may resolve the conflict but it is unclear how the judges would deal with it.
Next Supreme Leader Appointment
The Supreme Leader is the most powerful man in Iran. He has the ultimate say on Iran’s foreign policy and nuclear programme. Iran’s Supreme Leader is appointed by the Assembly of Experts in the event of the death, resignation, or dismissal of the leader. While the Assembly of Experts has the formal role in the appointment, in practice the decision will be influenced by powerful lobbies. The most powerful political organization is Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) that has control over the military, politics, economy, and nuclear program. The IRGC and the office of the current Supreme Leader will be the key selecting players. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American scholar at Harvard University, has argued that the IRGC will attempt to choose an individual who serves its objectives: “obtaining nuclear capabilities, having a monopoly over economic and political affairs, having power in foreign policy and having the capability to intervene in other countries’ affairs without hurdles from any political figures including the Supreme Leader.”
Clifton W. Sherrill, an assistant professor of international relations at Troy University, has come to the conclusion that with “no consensus successor and with concerns that dividing power among a council may diminish the strength of the regime, the conditions are ripe for an IRGC power grab.” Explaining the role of the IRGC, Sherrill has written (2011): “Today, it has its own air force, navy, and infantry; maintains its own intelligence service; runs strategic think tanks, defense research and development programs, and its own universities; coordinates Iranian support for Islamist terrorist groups abroad; and holds primary responsibility for the regime’s nuclear weapons program.”
Neal Stephenson Discusses Why His Novels Haven’t Been Made Into Movies
Neal Stephenson – “We Are All Geeks Now.”
Neal Stephenson on Anathem: The genesis of the novel and its main ideas
Neal Stephenson Creates a New Language for ANATHEM
Authors@Google: Neal Stephenson
Authors Neal Stephenson visits Google’s Headquarters in Mountain View, Ca, to discuss his book “Anathem”. This event took place September 12, 2008, as part of the Authors@google series. For more info, please visit http://www.nealstephenson.com/
Anathem, the latest invention by the New York Times bestselling author of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, is a magnificent creation: a work of great scope, intelligence, and imagination that ushers readers into a recognizable—yet strangely inverted—world.
Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside “saecular” world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent’s walls. Three times during history’s darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.
Neal Stephenson is the author of seven previous novels. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
Neal Stephenson interview – Reamde
Solve for X: Neal Stephenson on getting big stuff done
Neal Stephenson: 2011 National Book Festival
2012 10 18 LTA Bookclub Neal StephensonHQ
Black Hat USA 2012 – An Interview with Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson, Author – Turing Festival 2013 Keynote
ASTC 2013 Keynote – A Conversation with Neal Stephenson
Stephenson studied at Boston University, first specializing in physics, then switching to geography after he found that it would allow him to spend more time on the university mainframe. He graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in geography and a minor in physics. Since 1984, Stephenson has lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Seattle with his family.
Stephenson’s first novel, The Big U, published in 1984, was a satirical take on life at American Megaversity, a vast, bland and alienating research university beset by chaotic riots. His next novel, Zodiac (1988), was a thriller following the exploits of a radical environmentalist protagonist in his struggle against corporate polluters. Neither novel attracted much critical attention on first publication, but showcased concerns that Stephenson would further develop in his later work.The Big U went out of print until 2001, when Stephenson allowed it to be republished after realizing that this book that he considered inferior to his others was being sold at inflated prices for used copies because of its scarcity and collectors’ value.
Stephenson’s next solo novel, published in 1995, was The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, which introduced many of today’s real world technological discoveries. Seen back then as futuristic, Stephenson’s novel has broad range universal self-learning nanotechnology, dynabooks, extensive modern technologies, robotics, cybernetics and cyber cities. Weapons implanted in characters’ skulls, near limitless replicators for everything from mattresses to foods, smartpaper, air and blood-sanitizing nanobots, set in a grim future world of limited resources populated by hard edged survivalists, an amalgamation hero is accidentally conceptualized by a few powerful and wealthy creatives, programmers and hackers.
Following this, Stephenson published a novel titled Anathem (2008), a very long and detailed work, perhaps best described as speculative fiction. It is set in an Earthlike world (perhaps in an alternative reality), deals with metaphysics, and refers heavily to Ancient Greek philosophy, while at the same time being a complex commentary on the insubstantiality of today’s society.
In May 2010, the Subutai Corporation, of which Stephenson was named chairman, announced the production of an experimental multimedia fiction project called The Mongoliad, which centered around a narrative written by Stephenson and other speculative fiction authors.
REAMDE, a novel, was released on September 20, 2011. The title is a play on the common filename README. This thriller, set in the present, centers around a group of MMORPG developers caught in the middle of Chinese cyber-criminals, Islamic terrorists, and Russian mafia.
On August 7, 2012, Stephenson released a collection of essays and other previously published fiction entitled Some Remarks : Essays and Other Writing. This collection also includes a new essay and a short story created specifically for this volume.
In 2012 Stephenson launched a Kickstarter campaign for CLANG, a realistic swordfighting fantasy game. The game uses motion control to provide an immersive experience. The game will contain a distinctive world and plotline. The campaign’s funding goal of $500,000 was reached by the target date of July 9, 2012 on Kickstarter, but funding options remained open and were still taking contributions to the project on their official site. The project ran out of money in September 2013. This, and the circumstances around it, has angered some backers. There has even been talk, among the backers, of a potential class action lawsuit. The project to develop the game ended in September 2014 without the game being completed. Stephenson took part of the responsibility for the project’s failure, stating that “I probably focused too much on historical accuracy and not enough on making it sufficiently fun to attract additional investment”.
In late 2013, Stephenson claimed to be working on a multi-volume work, historical novels that would “have a lot to do with scientific and technological themes and how those interact with the characters and civilisation during a particular span of history”. He expected the first two volumes to be released in mid-to-late 2014. However, at about the same time, he shifted his attention to a science fiction novel, Seveneves, which was completed about a year later and will be published in May of 2015.
In 2014, Stephenson was hired as Chief Futurist by the Florida-based company Magic Leap. Magic Leap claims to be developing a revolutionary form of augmented reality, not too different from technologies Stephenson previously has described in his science fiction books.
The science fiction approach doesn’t mean it’s always about the future;
it’s an awareness that this is different.
With the 2003 publication of Quicksilver, Applied Minds debuted The Metaweb, an online wiki annotating the ideas and historical period explored in the novel. The project was influenced by the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, and its content included annotations from Stephenson himself.
In his earlier novels Stephenson deals heavily in pop culture-laden metaphors and imagery and in quick, hip dialogue, as well as in extended narrative monologues. The tone of his books is generally more irreverent and less serious than that of previous cyberpunk novels, notably those of William Gibson.
Stephenson at the Starship Century Symposium at UCSD in 2013
Stephenson’s books tend to have elaborate, inventive plots drawing on numerous technological and sociological ideas at the same time. This distinguishes him from other mainstream science fiction authors who tend to focus on a few technological or social changes in isolation from others. The discursive nature of his writing, together with significant plot and character complexity and an abundance of detail suggests a baroque writing style, which Stephenson brought fully to bear in the three-volume Baroque Cycle. His book The Diamond Age follows a simpler plot but features “neo-Victorian” characters and employs Victorian-era literary conceits. In keeping with the baroque style, Stephenson’s books have become longer as he has gained recognition. For example, the paperback editions of Cryptonomicon are over eleven hundred pages longwith the novel containing various digressions, including a lengthy erotic story about antique furniture and stockings.
Project Hieroglyph, founded in 2011, administered by Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination since 2012. Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, ed. Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer, which includes contributions by Stephenson, was published by William Morrow in September, 2014.
“In the Kingdom of Mao Bell“. Wired. 1994. “A billion Chinese are using new technology to create the fastest growing economy on the planet. But while the information wants to be free, do they?”
“Mother Earth Mother Board“. Wired. 1996. “In which the Hacker Tourist ventures forth across three continents, telling the story of the business and technology of undersea fiber-optic cables, as well as an account of the laying of the longest wire on Earth.”
Jump up^“Neal Stephenson – Biography”. ElectricInca.com. Retrieved August 7, 2010. He began his higher education as a physics major, then switched to geography when it appeared that this would enable him to scam more free time on his university’s mainframe computer.
Interface is a near-future thriller, set in 1996, in which a shadowy coalition bent on controlling the world economy attempts to manipulate a candidate for president of the United States through the use of a computer bio-chip implanted in his brain.
In 2007, it was described by writer Cory Doctorow as an “underappreciated masterpiece”.
The novel opens with the governor of Illinois, William Cozzano, suffering a stroke, and in a separate subplot, a trailer park inhabitant, unemployed African-American, Eleanor Richmond, discovering her husband dead after having committed suicide in their repossessed former home.
As events progress, an underground business coalition, the Network, is arranging for Cozzano to have a biochip implanted and for him to run for President of the United States. The Network is made up of a number of large fictional companies, with parallels in real business entities.
Eleanor Richmond, after publicly attacking a local cable TVPublic-access television talk show personality who was running for Senate, has since found herself working in the offices of a RepublicanColorado senator, and after an event where she accused the citizens of Colorado of being welfare queens, finds herself in the public eye as one of the candidates for Cozzano’s running mate.
The Network’s ability to perceive public opinion, skewed on the night of the vice presidential debate by a twist of fate, makes them select Richmond as vice presidential candidate, and a canny act of public relations work rescues Cozzano’s campaign, getting him elected as President.
However, Cozzano gets shot at his inauguration by a psychotic former factory worker who has somehow figured out the Network’s plans almost entirely, killing him almost instantly. Richmond ends up as the first black and first female President of the United States.
Excerpt from audiobook version, narrated by Scott Brick. This book has been optioned for film by Dreamworks. “Spark” refers to the inner self or identity of a man who lost his sense of being alive after a motorcycle accident, in a future in which robots are taking over jobs and corporations spy on everyone and act as the mafia. Jacob is hired as a hit man for a company wanting to eliminate problems using him as an emotionless zombie-like tool. (He refers to his body as a “shell.”) An excellent dystopian first-person struggle toward regaining humanity in an age we are fast approaching. Scott Brick read three books of the Fourth Realm Trilogy. I loved his
work then and asked that he read the SPARK audiobook.
John Hawks told me this about narrator Scott Brick: “This was a fairly difficult assignment because it’s a first person novel narrated by a professional killer who thinks that he’s dead. But Scott did a brilliant job…using his voice to convey Underwood’s personality and the unique way that he looks at the world. He conveys the strangeness of Underwood, but also makes it accessible for the listener. I think he’s wonderful!”
An interview with John Twelve Hawks
A Conversation with John Twelve Hawks, author of The Traveler
The Travelerevokes a variety of films and books–everything from George Orwell to the Matrix. Where did you take your inspiration from? George Orwell is a favorite writer of mine and I liked the first Matrix, but the creation of the novel goes much deeper than that. When I sat down to write The Traveler I didn’t think about being published. I simply wanted to understand the world around me. Sometimes the best way to find the truth is to create a fiction.
Can you describe the differences between the three main character types in the book: Travelers, Harlequins, Tabula?
Travelers are a small group of people who have the ability to send their spirit to other worlds. The Harlequins are an ancient order of warriors who defend The Travelers. The Tabula is an organization that believes that mankind is a tabula rasa — a blank slate that can be scrawled with their ideas. They are determined to destroy The Travelers. These three groups are fictional but their struggle takes place within a very realistic environment.
Is John Twelve Hawks your real name?
I wasn’t given the name John Twelve Hawks at birth. It’s an adopted name — just like the names the Harlequins chose at a certain time of their lives. This name has great personal significance for me, but it’s not relevant to understanding the book.
One of your characters, Gabriel, lives “off the Grid,” avoiding detection by what you call the “Vast Machine.” Can you explain what you mean by this and why you yourself have chosen to live this way as well?
For me, living off the Grid means existing in a way that can’t be tracked by the government or large corporations. The Vast Machine is the very powerful — and very real — computerized information system that monitors all aspects of our lives.
I live off the Grid by choice, but my decision includes one factor that is relevant to the publication of The Traveler. I want people to focus on the book itself and not on its author. The typical “personal slant” of most media arts coverage trivializes the power of ideas — and there are a great many provocative ideas in this novel. Everyone who reads The Traveler is going to be entertained by an exciting story. A smaller group is going to be inspired to see our computerized world in a new way.
How do you correspond with your publisher and how do you plan to correspond with readers?
I have never met my editor or any of the staff at Doubleday. I talk to them using a satellite phone or we communicate through the internet. I haven’t really thought about how I’m going to answer reader questions but it will probably be through a non-traceable website.
Your message in the book about the end of privacy in our society is frightening. How much of what you portray is true and how much is pure invention?
It’s all true — based on years of research. Email messages are scanned by a program called Carnivore and programs linked to surveillance cameras use algorithms to identify you instantly. Some of the facts in The Traveler — such as the description of the new “computational immunology” program developed by the Royal Mail in Britain — have never been described in any book.
What, if any, suggestions do you have for people who are concerned about identity theft, the Patriot Act, phone and internet surveillance and other invasions of everyday privacy? Some of your characters agitate against the Vast Machine. Would you advise this?
This first step is to be aware of what is going on. Most of us have given up our privacy without even knowing it. At some point, we need to express our opinions to our elected officials. The growing power of the Vast Machine is actually not an issue that is tied to a particular political party. A traditional conservative like former Georgia Congressman Robert Barr is on the same side of the privacy issue as the ACLU. The most important thing is that we not succumb to the baseless fear that is used to justify our loss of personal liberty. People objected when the government proposed something called the Total Information Awareness system: a computerized program that would track virtually all of our electronic transactions. When the name of the program was changed to the Terrorist Information Awareness system — just one new word — all the criticism vanished.
The settings in the book are captured in vivid detail–the Charles Bridge in Prague, the California desert, the back alleys of East London. Was travel a big part of your research?
My agent once asked me how long it took me to write The Traveler and I answered: “All my life.” I didn’t do any particular research for the locations in the novel. I simply drew on the memories of different places where I’ve visited, lived or worked. Virtually all the locations in the book are real. For example, there is a system of abandoned missile silos in Arizona and Jeremy Bentham’s dead body is on public display at University College London.
The scenes of violence in the book also seem very real — not Hollywood fantasies.
I studied martial arts for several years and have fought both in tournaments and on the street. Maya and the other Harlequins have been trained since childhood to fight, but they’re not super human; they can be hurt or killed. Readers have told me that they’ve found the scenes of violence in The Traveler to be incredibly exciting because they’re not sure what’s going to happen. This duplicates my own experience creating the book. Every time I began to write a scene that involved fighting I had no idea if my characters were going to survive.
Family seems to be both a blessing and a curse in the novel. As Maya says: “Damned by the flesh. Saved by the blood.” Care to elaborate?
It was only after I finished the first draft of The Traveler that I realized how many of the characters are haunted by their fathers. Maya loved her father, Thorn, but he also destroyed her childhood. Gabriel and Michael Corrigan thought that their father was killed by the Tabula, but now there are signs that his ghost is alive. A crucial secondary character named Lawrence Takawa changes his entire life in honor of a father he has never met.
At one point in the novel, your protagonist Maya explains that there is a secret history of the world, a history of “warriors defending pilgrims or other spiritual seekers.” Do you believe this? What do you think is the role of faith in modern society?
There has been a continual battle throughout history between institutions that try to control our lives and those visionaries who emphasize the value of the human spirit. Right now, there’s a determined attempt to reduce all human behavior to biochemistry. If Joan of Arc was alive today she’d be put on Prozac. Faith can give us a larger perspective on our own lives as well as the world that surrounds us.
You seem to combine Eastern religion, mysticism and new age spirituality in your discussion of Gabriel’s education. The novel also suggests that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, even an obscure Rabbi from Poland may have all been Travelers–which begs the question: What (if any) is your religious affiliation?
When I was in my twenties, I was an atheist and proud of it. Now I believe in God and pray every day but I’m not a member of any organized religion. Travelers are guided by teachers called Pathfinders and I’ve dedicated the trilogy to my own personal Pathfinders. I’ve had several and they’ve included a Catholic priest, a Presbyterian minister, a scholar who was an orthodox Jew, and a Buddhist monk. I’m not going to minimize the differences between religions but they all have one thing in common: they teach the power of compassion and encourage that quality in our own hearts.
This is the first book in a trilogy. Any hints for readers about what they can expect from Books Two and Three?
In Book Two, a tough Irish Harlequin named Mother Blessing will enter the story; she’s already forcing her way into my dreams. Expect some surprises involving Maya, Gabriel, and the Tabula mercenary, Nathan Boone. I’m not manipulating these characters to fit a plot. They seem to have their own ideas about what they want to do.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
The book is set in the near future and lays out a world where the real power lies not with people or governments, but in the hands of a secret organisation who call themselves “the Brethren” but who their enemies refer to as “the Tabula”. The Tabula are a centuries old secret society who believe in the importance of control and stability, making them in essence advocates of a kind of extreme Utilitarianism. Influenced by the ideas of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham the Tabula wish to enforce a Virtual Panopticon: a society where all individuals become so accustomed to being watched and monitored that they act at all times as if they were being observed and are as such completely controllable.
This Virtual Panopticon is made possible through the use of surveillance cameras, centralized databases, RFID-like tags for each citizen, and assorted spy gear (heat sensors, infrared cameras, X-rays, etc…). The Tabula are a relatively small group, operate largely in secret, but they have great power across the planet, in part by manipulating politicians and other powerful individuals/organisation, and in part because of their great wealth and advanced technology, which is in some cases far beyond the technology available to other groups and even governments.
The underlying premise for the realms in which this book is set greatly resembles the cosmology of Tibetan Buddhism (and other eastern cosmologies). Most notably, the second realm is explicitly labelled the realm of the Hungry Ghosts, but each realm in the enumerated hierarchy is associated with a given human shortcoming, much like in Hinduism and Buddhism. The world we inhabit is the fourth realm, and different Travellers can visit one or more of the other realms.
Although the basic plot is not new, the author provides a setting for discussion of larger issues, such as free will, the rapid increase in public surveillance and information gathering, the culture of fear, etc. While the motivations of the Tabula are explored in the book, this is kept at a rather superficial and crude level. Individual members are generally portrayed as either power hungry, psychopathic or deeply prejudiced, and the Tabula are set up as villains set to enslave humanity rather than misguided humanitarians.
The author has written a post-script at the end of the book in which he talks about his reasons for writing the novel and discusses, among other things, the development in western countries regarding surveillance (such as CCTV), data-mining, RFID and GPS, the Information Awareness Office, etc. He claims that all of the technology referred to in the book is either already being used or in the advanced stage of development.
Travelers, Pathfinders and Harlequins
The Travelers are individuals with a special gift, often but not always inherited, which allows them to detach from their bodies and journey through elemental barriers (water, fire etc.) to other realms. They do this by detaching their “light” (internal energy seemingly analogous to the soul but found by the Tabula to be empirically measurable) from their body. Travelers’ experiences and gifts (they can view the world around them with greater speed and clarity than normal people) can lend them great charisma, wisdom and vision. Many Travelers become religious prophets, or opponents of the Tabula, and the random element they add to societies makes them enemies of the Tabula who have hunted them almost to extinction.
The idea that all people possess the “light” within and can travel through other states of consciousness or “realms” is also a basic tenet of Gnosticism.
The Pathfinders are individuals capable of teaching potential Travelers how to break the light free from their body. Pathfinders can be priests and holy men, agnostics or atheists – different Pathfinders will use different teaching methods and have different beliefs, but all can help Travelers to realize their gifts. Pathfinders are also hunted by the Tabula.
The only information one can get on John Twelve Hawks is that he is living “off the grid“. This means that he is invisible to the network of surveillance and authority. He has no fixed home, no bank account or internet connection, and John Twelve Hawks is not his real name.
In the shadows of modern society an epic battle is fought. One woman is standing between those who try to control mankind and those who will risk their lives for the freedom of us all. On one side the Brethren, using high-end surveillance technology for control, supported by officials and politicians. On the other side the Travelers, the gifted ones, who are able to leave our realm and cross over into other realities. Because of their knowledge they are a great threat to the Brethren. The Travelers are supported by the Harlequins, a group only trained to defend the Travelers and to save them from the Brethren. Harlequins are trained since birth by their parents and other Harlequins. They are able to use all kinds of weapons, but their favored arm is a unique Harlequin sword they carry with them all the time.
Maya, a pretty young woman, is trying to live the life of a normal citizen. Her background, on the other hand, is anything but normal. She is the daughter of a famous German Harlequin named Thorn, who had been badly injured in an ambush by the Brethren. On a mission she killed two men of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. As a consequence Maya had tried to hide and leave her Harlequin past behind until one day her handicapped father calls for her. When visiting him in Prague, she finds him slaughtered by his enemies.
Fulfilling her father’s last wish, Maya takes a flight to the States supporting Shepherd, the last American Harlequin. She is determined to help him defend the last two Travelers alive. However, Shepherd has become a member of the Brethren. Working for the other side now, he tries to kill Maya. With the help of a young woman named Vikki she is lucky to get away. Vikki is a member of the I. T. Jones Church, a church of followers of the Traveler Isaac T. Jones, who was killed by the Brethren in 1889 with Lion of the temple (known as Zachary Goldman) a harlequin. Together they are able to find an ally, Hollis, a Capoeira trainer from Los Angeles and a former member of the Isaac T. Jones Community. The three of them are able to find the last living Travelers, Michael and Gabriel Corrigan. Before they are able to give them protection, Michael is captured by the Brethren. Instead of killing him immediately they try to convince him to help them. The Brethren recently started a new Program. They were in contact with a technologically advanced civilization dwelling in another realm. Aiming to travel through the realities, they need the help of a guide, someone who is able to travel without technology – like a Traveler.
For achieving help, they offer the Brethren high technology, weapons and plans for a quantum computer. The Brethren want to use a real Traveler that can find this other civilization and guide it to the Earth. By offering Michael power, money and everything else he wants, the Brethren convince him to work for them. With a new drug called 3B3, Michael is able to leave his realm without any usual way a Pathfinder would offer. A Pathfinder is a person that helps a Traveler to cross over. He or she is a teacher, but never a Traveler himself.
While Michael gains his first experiences with other realms, Maya tries to find a Pathfinder for Gabriel. She herself knows little of other realms and the process of crossing over. At all time they must be careful and live “off the grid”, because the Brethren use all their power to get hold of them.
Hollis stays in Los Angeles to place a false track. Within little time the Brethren show up at his house and try to kill him with a new weapon called “Splicer,” some kind of genetically engineered animal designed to search and destroy. But, Hollis defeats them.
In the meantime Maya and Gabriel find a Pathfinder in the desert in Arizona: an old woman researching king snakes in an abandoned missile silo. While teaching Gabriel how to cross over, she tells him everything she knows about the Travelers and the six realms. There is the first realm of a town like hell, the second realm of a city full of “hungry ghosts”, the third is inhabited by animals ignorant of all others, the fourth realm is our own reality, where the sin is desire, the fifth realm is the reality of the “half gods”, where the sin is jealousy, and the sixth realm of the “gods” themselves, where the sin is pride. The “gods” and “half-gods” of the fifth and sixth realm are not meant like God as the creator of all life, but like the Tibetans describe them: human beings from parallel worlds.
The realms are separated each by four barriers: one barrier of fire, one of water, one of earth and one of air. A Traveler that is capable of passing these four barriers is then able to enter one of the five other realms. If his body on earth dies, his soul, called the light, is condemned to stay forever in the realm it visits at that time. Crossing over into other realities, a Traveler can only carry special objects, called talismans, with him. Such an object is the sword Gabriel’s father gave him. Equipped with this sword, he meets his brother in the realm of the hungry ghosts.
His brother tries to convince him to join the Brethren. Gabriel resists the temptation, but he tells his brother where he left his body. As a consequence Gabriel is imprisoned by the Brethren within hours and brought to the research centre where Michael is kept.
Maya realizes that an immediate counterstrike is necessary. After an exciting battle in the Brethren’s research facility, they free Gabriel but have to realize that they can not convince Michael to leave the Brethren. Maya and her allies are able to find refuge in a house on a beach in Cape Cod – but only to recover. At this point the first book of the fourth realm has a cliffhanger ending.
Literary significance and reception
David Pitt in his review for Booklist said that John Twelve Hawks is “a gifted storyteller, makes this surreal and vaguely supernatural good-versus-evil story entirely believable.” About the novel he says that the “pace is fast, the characters intriguing and memorable, the evil dark and palpable, and the genre-bending between fantasy and thriller seamless”. The New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin began her review with the statement: “It takes outlandish nerve and whopping messianic double talk to inaugurate a new science fiction project on the scale of The Traveler.” She then concluded “Amazingly, this novel sustains a new voice even when its roots show. And the list of obvious influences is long indeed. There are traces of Star Wars, The Matrix, Kill Bill and Minority Report. There are echoes of Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Joseph Campbell, Jeremy Bentham, various samurai stories and (could it not have been thus?) The Da Vinci Code.”
John Twelve Hawks made the initial contact, sending Digweed his novel with a note saying it had been written while listening to Digweed’s Transitions radio show. After reading The Traveler Digweed immediately emailed Hawks to say how much he’d loved the novel. Eighteen months later Digweed found an email from Hawks in his junk folder and they finally arranged to collaborate. Initial attempts to record Hawks’ narration via Skype failed, forcing Hawks to make a rare personal appearance in the studio. Digweed and Muir met with John Twelve Hawks in the UK and recorded his voice as he read passages from the novel. JTH’s voice was changed electronically and weaved into the 13 tracks.
Reaction to the album was positive. Music critic, Rich Curtis called it “a very engaging and superbly crafted meeting of artistic minds.” 
In “Against Authority” Twelve Hawks describes writing The Traveler. His decision to use a different name was triggered by a combination of personal and political reasons:
“For the first drafts of the book, I kept my birth name off the title page. The old me wasn’t writing this book. Something was different. Something had changed. I had always admired George Orwell, and had read his collected essays and letters countless times. When Eric Blair became Orwell, he was set free, liberated from his Eton education and colonial policeman past. And there was another factor about the title page that troubled me. I was telling my readers that this new system of information technology was going to destroy our privacy, and that they should resist this change. It seemed hypocritical to go on a book tour or appear on a talk show blabbing about my life when our private lives were under attack.” 
During an online conversation he had with his fans on the We Speak for Freedom website he explained the origin of his name:
The real story is this …I was walking through a forest and encountered a hawk nesting area. Twelve hawks circled around my head for about ten minutes …so close that the tip of their wings brushed the side of my head. That was why I picked the name. REAL hawks. Not symbolic ones.
In the sources listed and in his interviews, he has stated that he was born in the United States. He is a Buddhist who had meditated for most of his life. In the Spiegelinterview he states he is not a Native American.
In the Spiegel interview he talks about visiting East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the USA Today article, his response to a question about religion began with, “When I was in my twenties…” and when an editor asked him whether the “realm of hell” could be compared to current conditions in Iraq, Hawks replied “it’s more like Beirut in the ’70s“. In the Spiegel interview and in the Daily Telegraph article, Hawks states that he drives a 15-year-old car and that he does not own a television.
The SFF World interview indicates that Twelve Hawks once lived in a commune and learned about literature by stealing books from a restricted university library and then returning the books the next day. In the same interview, he states he wrote The Traveler after passing through some sort of personal crisis. In the interview in SFF World Twelve Hawks claims that he has “no plans to go public” regarding his identity.
According to Twelve Hawks’ agent, “He lives in New York, Los Angeles and London”, and The Traveler sets its story in all three of these locations. In a 2008 interview on Joseph Mallozzi‘s weblog, he answered a series of questions about this life:
QUESTION: Is there a reason for the pen name? One you’d be willing to share, I suppose. As in, is it because you’re actually a secret CIA agent and/or Russian spy, or merely because you don’t ever want your mother knowing what you’ve written?
JTH: My mother and the rest of my family don’t know that I have written the novels. Those people I know who aren’t close friends see me as a failure by the American standards of success. Being a “failure” in such a way has been a continual lesson. It’s helped me realize that we make quick judgments of others based on little real information. We assume so much – but don’t know the secrets held within the heart.
On August 20, 2014, John Twelve Hawks released a free non-fiction book called Against Authority: Freedom and the Rise of the Surveillance States. The book is dedicated to the novelist, Thomas Pynchon. An excerpt from Against Authority was published on Salon.
Against Authority begins with a personal description of the neurological experiments performed on Hawks when he was a child and states that all of us have the ability to reject the “right” of those in power to control our lives. JTH describes how the reaction of governments to the September 11 attacks led to the Patriot Act in the United States and the proliferation of Closed-circuit television cameras in London. He references his 2006 essay How We Live Now that was his first published reaction to these systematic attacks on privacy.
JTH believes that surveillance technology has given those in power a crucial tool for social control. He describes how the culture of surveillance is used to track citizens for commercial reasons and gives examples of how people are now routinely watched at work. In the conclusion, He advocates a strategy of “parallel lives” that allows people to exist in the digital world while protecting their private actions and thoughts.
Spark was published in October 2014 in the United States and Great Britain.
The book is narrated by Jacob Underwood, a man who suffers from Cotard delusion, a real-life neurological condition in which the afflicted person thinks that he or she is dead. Underwood is hired by a New York investment bank to work as an assassin, eliminating threats to the bank’s clients. “Underwood’s strength as a hired killer is the emotionless, robotic nature that allows him to operate with logical, ruthless precision.”  But, when the bank asks him to track down Emily Buchanan, a minor employee who has absconded with financial secrets, Underwood gradually becomes more human and feels moments of empathy. Hawks describes adystopia where people are beginning to be replaced by robots. Underwood’s journey is an exploration into what human values will survive in a world of machines.
Reviews of Spark were generally positive. The Publishers Weekly review mentioned JTH’s writing style: “Twelve Hawks’s prose, cold and clinical at times, yet punctuated with moments of great sensitivity, matches the tone and mood of his setting perfectly.” In a starred review in Booklist, reviewer David Pitt wrote: “It’s been several years since the Fourth Realm trilogy ended, and some readers might have wondered if the author had only one story to tell. But guess what? As good as the Fourth Realm books were, this one may be even more appealing: less fantastic, more grounded in a contemporary real world, with a narrator who is deeply scarred and endlessly fascinating.” 
Back in August I wrote a piece about John Twelve Hawks’s so-called thriller The Traveller (aka The Traveler in the US).I thought the book was a dud, but noted, as one would have to, that it was being given a tremendous amount of hype by the publishers, in both the UK and the USA.
I think it was always fairly obvious that John Twelve Hawks was a pseudonym, and I made a brief reference to the kind of person, or persons, who might be involved. But I can’t say that I gave very much serious thought to who the author might really be, largely because I felt that the book was so feeble. And, of course, I was irritated by the fact that, yet again, a publisher was putting enormous weight behind something that really didn’t deserve it.
However, it turns out that that there are in this world a number of people who are giving some fairly detailed consideration to the identity of The Traveller‘s author. And one of them, Janet Rice, has come up with the suggestion that the real author is Michael Cunningham. Yes, that very same Michael Cunningham who won the Pulitzer Prize with The Hours and has recently published Specimen Days, another book which I felt wasn’t worth anyone’s trouble.
I have to say that this linking of Cunningham with the Twelve Hawks identity question is the smartest piece of lateral thinking that I have come across in a long time. Janet has clearly read both The Traveller andSpecimen Days with far greater care than I have, and has come up with several features which the books have in common.
Having written her piece as a comment on my blog, Janet has posted her further thoughts on this issue on the discussion page of Night Shade Books, where you will find several other speculations about the mystery man’s identity.
Janet, please note, is not insisting that she is right; she is simply putting forward the Twelve Hawks = Cunningham idea as a hypothesis, and inviting others to test it out. For my own part, I have to say that I find the idea tolerably convincing.
First of all, both books are, in my opinion, of much the same standard: i.e. just about publishable but no great shakes. Secondly, the existence of a previously ‘successful’ author behind the pseudonym would certainly explain why the publisher was willing to invest so heavily in the book; although, having said that, one also has to say that publishers seem quite ready to invest substantial sums in unknown quantities on every other day of the week.
Perhaps somewhere out there is a computer whizzkid who could do some textual analysis and see how the prose style of Cunningham and Twelve Hawks actually compares. Always bearing in mind, of course, that such analysis was not wonderfully successful in identifying the real author of the Belle de Jour blog/book. And also bearing in mind that an author can deliberately adopt different styles and tones of voice for different books.
Janet also adds some speculation as to why Cunningham — if he is the one — should bother to write a commercial thriller; her own hope is that he was trying to find a way to get his ideas through to a wider audience than he could achieve via his literary work.
Well — ahem — forgive my cynicism, but one should never underestimate the power of the dollar. In publishing, the money is never as much as the hype suggests, whether you’re Cunningham, Twelve Hawks, or anyone else. And in my view it might well be the case that some erstwhile literary chap has got tired of scuffling for a living and has tried to cash in.
I have absolutely no objection, in principle, to a writer going flat out for the money, but perhaps whoever is responsible for The Traveller now understands that writing a successful commercial novel is rather harder to do in practice than the literary elite of this world think it is.
Born in New York in 1953, Timmerman obtained a BA from Goddard College in 1973 and an M.A. from Brown University in 1976. He moved to France, where he pursued a career as a novelist, publishing a novel called Wren Hunt in 1976 and a novella called The Iskra Scrolls in 1980.
Middle East and defense correspondent
In the early 1980s, Timmerman became a Middle East correspondent for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and developed an expertise in the Middle East and the arms trade. In 1982, he was taken prisoner for 24 days by Fatah guerrillas in Lebanon. He was the first journalist on the scene when Islamic militants bombed the US Embassy in 1983.
From 1985 to 1987, Timmerman was a correspondent for Defense and ArmamentNewsweek and Military Technology, covering the Iran–Iraq War and the arms industry in the Middle East. He won the Joe Petrosino Prize for Investigative Reporting in 1987 for an investigation of an Iranian arms procurement group.
From 1987 to 1993, Timmerman published the Middle East Defense News and was international correspondent for Defense Electronics. He also wrote monographs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center on efforts by Iraq, Syria and Libya to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Author and activist
In 1991, Timmerman published The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq after the Gulf War. Timmerman advised the United Nations Special Commission for the Disarmament of Iraq on the location of weapons plants.
In 1993, Timmerman returned to the US where he worked as a member of the staff of the U.S. House Committee on International Relations. In 1995, he founded the Foundation for Democracy in Iran with Peter Rodman, Joshua Muravchick and Iranian opposition expatriates to attempt to topple the Iranian government. He founded the Middle East Data Project to advise governments and private companies. In 1998, he made suggestions to the Rumsfeld Commission supporting the deployment of a national missile defencesystem.
In 1998, he wrote a piece on Osama Bin Laden and his training camps in Afghanistan just before Al-Qaeda attacked two US embassies in Africa. He also wrote features for the American Spectator criticizing the export of high-technology equipment to China, which was published as a book in 2000. In 2000 Timmerman sought the nomination of the Maryland GOP to run against Democratic incumbent Paul Sarbanes. Timmerman won less than ten percent in the party primary; Paul Rappaport won the Republican nomination but lost to Sarbanes, who won with 63% of the vote.
Timmerman wrote Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson as a change of pace from his focus on international issues in 2002. The argument claimed that Jackson alleging connections with criminals and claiming that Rev. Jackson practised extortion of businesses. It proved to be highly successful making the top ten bestseller list with 200,000 copies printed. It also reached the top of the Amazon bestseller list.
In 2003, Timmerman published Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War Against America. The French Betrayal of America was published in 2004. Timmerman returned to his field of greatest expertise with the publication of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran in 2005.
On February 7, 2006 Sweden’s former deputy prime minister and Liberal party leader Per Ahlmark asserted that he had nominated Timmerman for a Nobel Peace Prize along with UN Ambassador John Bolton for “their repeated warnings and documentation ofIran‘s secret nuclear buildup and revealing Iran’s repeated lying and false reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency.” The Nobel Foundation won’t confirm nominations, however, until 50 years have passed.
The Iskra Scrolls novella Handshake Press Paris 1980
Fanning the Flames: Guns, Greed, and Geopolitics in the Gulf War syndicated by New York Times Syndication Sales, 1987, published in book form as “Öl ins Feuer Internationale Waffengeschäfte im Golfkrieg” Orell Füssli Verlag Zürich and Wiesbaden 1988ISBN 3-280-01840-4
La Grande Fauche: Le vol de la haute technologie (Gorbachev’s Technology Wars: How the U.S.S.R Arms Itself in the West) Editions Plon Paris 1989
The Poison Gas Connection: The Chemical Weapons Programs of Iraq and Libya Simon Wiesenthal Center Los Angeles 1990
Jump up^“Statutes of the Nobel Foundation”. Nobel Media. Retrieved February 25, 2014. Such permission may not, however, be granted until at least 50 years have elapsed after the date on which the decision in question was made.
“Kenneth R. Timmerman” Contemporary Authors Online Gale 2002 published on Biography Resource Center Thomson Gale 2005
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Story 1: The Lunatic Left Agitators and Activists and The Failure of Government Schools, Housing and Welfare State On Display In Ferguson, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington, D.C. — Dumbed Down — Hands Up — Don’t Shoot — Just Loot — Progressive Parade Plays With Traffic On U.S. Highways — Race Riot Route — Videos
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Here are documents and evidence presented to the grand jury in Clayton, Mo., that was deciding whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting of Michael Brown. The documents were released by the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch. Note: Some of the documents contain graphic language. NOV. 25, 2014 RELATED ARTICLE
Witnesses Told Grand Jury That Michael Brown Charged at Darren Wilson, Prosecutor Says
The most credible eyewitnesses to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., said he had charged toward Police Officer Darren Wilson just before the final, fatal shots, the St. Louis County prosecutor said Monday night as he sought to explain why a grand jury had not found probable cause to indict the officer.
The accounts of several other witnesses from the Ferguson neighborhood where Mr. Brown, 18 and unarmed, met his death on Aug. 9 — including those who said Mr. Brown was trying to surrender — changed over time or were inconsistent with physical evidence, the prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, said in a news conference.
“The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact and fiction,” he said in a statement watched by a tense nation. “No probable cause exists to file any charges against Darren Wilson.”
Mr. McCulloch praised the grand jurors, who met on 25 days over a three-month period and heard 60 witnesses, for pouring “their hearts and souls into this process” and said that only by hearing all the evidence, as they had, could one fairly judge the case.
The task facing the St. Louis County grand jury was not to determine whether Officer Darren Wilson was guilty of a crime, but whether there was evidence to justify bringing charges, which could have ranged from negligent manslaughter to intentional murder.
The fact that at least nine members of the 12-member panel could not agree to indict the officer indicates that they accepted the narrative of self-defense put forth by Officer Wilson in his voluntary, four hours of testimony before the grand jury. Mr. McCulloch, in his summary of the months of testimony, said it was supported by the most reliable eyewitness accounts — from African-Americans in the vicinity of the shooting — as well as physical evidence and the consistent results of three autopsies.
At issue, under the Missouri law governing use of deadly force by law enforcement as well as general rules for self-defense, was if Officer Wilson “reasonably believed” that he or others were in serious danger.
According to transcripts released Monday night, Officer Wilson testified that after he encountered Mr. Brown and a friend walking in the street, he realized the pair might be those being sought for stealing cigarillos from a convenience store minutes earlier.
According to witnesses and blood and other evidence found inside the car, Officer Wilson first fired two shots while he struggled with Mr. Brown through the window of his patrol vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe, grazing Mr. Brown’s hand.
Mr. Brown started to run away, with Officer Wilson in chase, then stopped and turned. According to the prosecutor’s summary, the officer fired five shots as Mr. Brown charged him, then another five shots as he made what one witness called a “full charge.”
Only 90 seconds passed between Officer Wilson’s first encounter with the youths and the arrival of a backup police car, just after the shooting stopped, the prosecutor said.
Probable cause is not a stiff standard. It does not require that most of the evidence be incriminating, let alone be proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as required in a criminal trial. Instead, grand juries are ordinarily instructed to issue an indictment when there is “some evidence” of guilt, legal experts said.
To Mr. Brown’s parents and their supporters, the case for bringing at least some charge in this case seemed open and shut. But the jurors also had to consider whether Officer Wilson acted within the limits of the lethal-force law, raising the threshold for an indictment.
Independent legal experts said it was impossible to analyze the grand jury decision without studying the transcripts of the testimony as well as the police reports, autopsies and forensic evidence that might shed light on what Mr. Brown was doing in his final seconds: whether he was menacing the officer or, as a friend who was with him said, trying to surrender.
Some people claiming to be eyewitnesses said Mr. Brown was shot in the back, Mr. McCulloch said, but later changed their stories when autopsies found no injuries entering his back. But others, African-Americans who did not speak out publicly, he said, consistently said that the youth had menaced the officer.
Mr. McCulloch, had promised that he would allay any suspicions about the fairness of the proceedings by releasing, with names redacted, transcripts of testimony and other evidence heard by the panel.
The release of grand jury information, secret by law, is rare, and Mr. McCulloch originally said he would first seek a judge’s permission. But on Monday, his office said it had determined that it had a right to release most of the transcripts and it did so Monday night.
The grand jury, which included three African-Americans, deliberated for two days. By law, the final vote on whether to bring an indictment is secret and the jurors are legally prohibited from discussing their deliberations.
The United States Department of Justice is conducting a separate investigation of whether Officer Wilson, who is white, intentionally acted to deprive Mr. Brown, an African-American, of his civil rights. But the bar for such cases is a high one, and officials have privately said they are unlikely to bring federal charges. The Justice Department is also conducting a broader investigation into the practices of the Ferguson Police Department.
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Protesters Turn Out in U.S. Cities Following Ferguson Decision
Rallies Largely Peaceful, Though Some Vandalism Occurred in at Least One City
ALEJANDRO LAZO and
Protests broke out in a number of U.S. cities following the decision on Monday by a grand jury not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager.
Marches and rallies had been planned in many of the nation’s largest cities, from New York to Chicago to Houston, regardless of the jury’s finding.
In New York, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Union Square in Manhattan. When the grand jury decision was announced, word quickly spread through the crowd. In a few minutes, most were holding one fist up in the air as they observed a moment of silence that lasted nearly five minutes.
The only audible sound was the shutter of press cameras. Some demonstrators were in tears.
WSJ’s Ben Kesling reports from the scene in Ferguson, Mo., after a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown Photo: Getty Images
Then, with the cooperation of New York Police Department officers, the protesters began a spontaneous march, moving north along Sixth Avenue, blocking traffic. Protesters occupied several blocks as they marched toward Times Square.
“I feel like I don’t have an outlet for my anger,” said Monica Thompson, 29 years old, a social worker who lives in Harlem. “There’s not been an indictment. There’s an acceptance that black and brown lives don’t matter.”
A police helicopter hovered overhead as protesters marched and a large police presence accompanied the protest. No arrests were reported as of 10:30 p.m.
A sense of anger pulsed through the crowd. “They don’t know what they just started,” said Precious Etsekhume, 22, referring to the government and police. “They are going to regret every bad decision they made.”
At a New York news conference, the Rev. Al Sharpton , who has worked to bring attention to the case since Ferguson officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown, called for a federal investigation into the shooting, saying he had no confidence in local prosecutors.
Mr. Sharpton said the grand jury’s decision was expected but was “still an absolute blow to those of us that wanted to see a fair and open trial.”
Mr. Sharpton appeared with the family of Eric Garner, a New York City man whose death was caused by an apparent police chokehold, according to the city’s medical examiner. Mr. Garner’s family didn’t speak.
In Oakland, Calif. police and protesters clashed violently after groups of protesters blocked a major Bay Area freeway for hours, set piles of trash ablaze on city streets and looted retail shops in the city’s downtown area.
WSJ’s Ben Kesling reports from Ferguson, Mo., on the growing protests after a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown. Photo: AP
After marching relatively peacefully for more than an hour, the crowd gathered near City Hall grew to stretch more than two city blocks, and became increasingly unruly, vandalizing buildings and smashing windows of a Chase Bank branch as they marched through downtown and then through the city’s increasingly gentrifying Lake Merritt neighborhood.
About 500 protesters ran up a freeway on ramp near a Trader Joe’s grocery store, the Oakland Police Department said, bringing traffic to a halt for hours on Interstate 580. Several arrests were made, Oakland police said, and the freeway was eventually reopened.
But clashes continued both near the freeway and in the city’s downtown, where the protests had originated. By midnight, protesters had ignited large fires on a street in downtown Oakland and looters could be seen breaking into several stores.
Inside a Metro PCS store, one woman tossed packages through a smashed glass door to gathered crowds. Down the street, young men hurled beer bottles at people passing bye.
Close to the city’s police headquarters, protesters confronted officers in full riot gear and gas masks, linking arms and advancing toward the police shortly after midnight. The police, in turn, advanced toward the protesters and some in the crowd threw water bottles and other objects at the officers.
“This is an unlawful assembly,” a policeman announced via a speaker system. “You may be arrested and subject to removal by force if necessary.”
A man in the crowd wearing a sweatshirt and carrying a bullhorn answered back with his own announcement.
“The Oakland Police Department is now under citizen’s arrest,” he said. “By the power invested in the people of California, the Oakland Police Department is now under arrest. We are arresting you for violating our civil rights.”
Clashes continued into the early morning as police steadily moved up the street arresting and confronting protesters.
D’Andre Teeter, 70, from Berkeley, said before the grand jury’s decision was announced that anything less than an indictment for murder would be an “outrage.”
”We are out here to say this has to stop, and we think the whole country must come to a halt regardless of the outcome of the grand jury’s decision,” he said.
Across the bay in San Francisco, a crowd of a few dozen people gathered in the Mission District to await the grand jury decision. Carrying signs reading “Justice 4 Mike Brown,” they booed and chanted, “The people say guilty! The people say guilty!” when the news came that Officer Wilson wouldn’t be indicted.
In downtown Atlanta, a handful of civil-rights activists gathered outside the Richard B. Russell Federal Building to address the media after the verdict was announced. Markel Hutchins, an African American minister, choked back tears at one point when describing how frustrated he was by the decision.
“If you don’t look like Michael Brown, or have a son or grandson or cousin that looks like Michael Brown, you will never understand why we feel the way we feel tonight,” he said.
With unseasonably chilly temperatures that swept into the area Monday night, most of downtown Atlanta was desolate and no major disturbances were reported. Civil-rights leaders said they planned a peaceful protest Tuesday evening.
In Philadelphia, the city’s police department was monitoring the situation and watching social media, said a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter. The mayor earlier told reporters he recognizes the public’s right to demonstrate but urged people to do so nonviolently.
According to the Associated Press, several hundred protesters marched through downtown Philadelphia, yelling, “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” A similar protest of about 50 people in Pittsburgh was short-lived, with activists saying they plan to regroup Tuesday at the federal courthouse, the AP reported.
Law-enforcement officials in Los Angeles said they had prepared for potential unrest in the nation’s second-largest city, but a small protest march that started in Leimert Park in south L.A. blocked traffic along its route but otherwise remained peaceful.
As they marched on foot and on bicycles, the few dozen protesters carried signs, blew whistles and shouted: “If you’re sick of the murdering police, outta your house and into the street.” At one point, a few protesters briefly made their way onto a section of the I-10 freeway before police moved them back.
Cue Jnmarie, a 50-year-old pastor, said he met with police twice to prepare for the response to the grand jury’s decision. He said he is pushing for public policy changes, and doesn’t support violence. He said community organizers and religious leaders there aimed to do more than “blow off steam” about Michael Brown’s death.
”This is not just happening now,” he said. “It has been happening, and it’s part of the culture.”
Mr. Jnmarie described himself as a victim of racial profiling in Los Angeles and said the community is angry. “Police protect and serve everyone except people of color,” he said.
”We do everything in our power to facilitate lawful, peaceful demonstrations as long as they don’t become violent or destructive,” said Andy Neiman, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
In Seattle, where a protest march also was reported to be nonviolent, the police department said it hadn’t made any major preparations for protests. The department prefers to take a “rather toned-down approach to that sort of thing,” said Patrick Michaud, a Seattle police detective with the force’s public affairs unit.
In Baltimore, two groups said they would wait until Tuesday afternoon to march through downtown, regardless of the grand jury’s decision. “We want the time to have the largest gathering possible,” said Sharon Black, local representative of one of the groups, the Peoples Power Assembly. “It’s difficult to get a large, large group out in the middle of the night. We want our message to be heard.”
Ferguson and Other Cities React to Grand Jury Decision Not to Indict Darren Wilson
Journalists with The New York Times in Ferguson, Mo., are following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. On Monday night, the scene in downtown Ferguson grew increasingly unruly as the night wore on with the police using tear gas to disperse crowds who were throwing rocks and shattering store windows. Some businesses were looted, the police said. Protests also broke out in other cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle.
Follow Tuesday’s live updates and other ongoing coverage here.
A photograph of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson presented as evidence to the grand jury.Credit via St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office
Among the many things found in Darren Wilson’s grand jury testimony are several references to the way he felt intimidated by Michael Brown. Though Officer Wilson is himself a large man – nearly 6’4″, around 210 pounds, according to his own testimony — he repeatedly described Mr. Brown as aggressive, big, and threatening, often in vivid language. Here are a few excerpts from his description of the altercation at the window of his patrol car:
“I tried to hold his right arm and use my left hand to get out to have some kind of control and not be trapped in my car any more. And when I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.”
“I felt that another one of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse. I mean it was, he’s obviously bigger than I was and stronger and the, I’ve already taken two to the face and I didn’t think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right.”
“After seeing the blood on my hand, I looked at him and was, this is my car door, he was here and he kind of stepped back and went like this. And then after he did that, he looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked. He comes back towards me again with his hands up.”
A police officer from the nearby suburb of University City was shot overnight, but it was unclear if it was related to the grand jury’s decision in the Ferguson case, the St. Louis County police said early Tuesday.
The officer was shot in the arm was expected to be “okay,” the police said in a Twitter post. The police were searching for a suspect.
The officer was shot at the intersection of Canton Avenue and Lamb Avenue in University City, a police spokesman said.
12:42 A.M.Protesters Block Interstate 44 in St. Louis
Protesters shut down Interstate 44 at Grand Avenue in both directions in St. Louis on Monday.Credit J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press
12:33 A.M.Sounds of Gunfire and Alarms on Ferguson Streets
Fire roared through a Little Caesar’s restaurant on Monday night in Ferguson, Mo.CreditTannen Maury/European Pressphoto Agency
There were numerous stretches of Ferguson late Monday night where all was calm, all was well. Stores with “I Love Ferguson” signs in the windows. The red bows and holiday lights wrapped around the light poles downtown still perfectly intact.
But there were pockets that felt like a city under siege.
A Little Caesars Pizza shop was in flames. There were shattered windows at El Palenque Mexican restaurant, and at a UMB Bank branch. Thick smoke poured from the busted front entrance of a Walgreens pharmacy. Men stepped in but quickly stepped out, complaining that it was too hard to see anything because of the smoke. The sound of gunfire occasionally rang out in the distance, and the acidic smell and aftertaste of tear gas filled the air. One man exited the store and jokingly asked if anyone wanted cigarettes.
At the intersection of North Florissant Road and Hereford Avenue – “Ferguson, a city since 1894,” reads the sign at the corner – firefighters worked on putting out the Little Caesars blaze, but there were no police or fire officials at Walgreens. The fire inside continued to burn. Spectators drove up to the store, as did news crews. All the while, the pharmacy’s high-pitched security bell echoed, the soundtrack of the evening’s drama.
“Not often you get to see anarchy, huh?” one man taking pictures outside Walgreens said.
Protesters in Oakland blocked a highway on Monday night in response to the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson, Mo.Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
In Oakland, Calif., protesters blocked a portion of Interstate 580, forcing cars to stop. One man said he had been sitting in his car for about 45 minutes. “I knew there would be protests, but I didn’t think it would get this hectic with shutting down the freeway and all the cops,” said the man, Alex Perez, 28, of Oakland. He was trying to get home, but said he was sympathetic to what the protesters were trying to do. “It was unwarranted for a kid to get shot.”
Demonstrators outside the White House on Monday.Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times
A gathering in downtown Seattle.Credit Evan McGlinn for The New York Times
12:29 A.M.Flight restrictions at Lambert-St. Louis International
Inbound flights to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport were not being permitted to land late Monday as a safety precaution, officials said. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction, or TFR, affecting inbound flights, the airport said in a post on Twitter.
Demonstrators reacted on Monday night in Los Angeles to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Office Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.Credit Ringo Chiu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Late on Monday night, a crowd of about 200 people had blocked traffic on Crenshaw Boulevard, a main thoroughfare through South Los Angeles. The crowd swelled to over 250 as it marched north, then turned east on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a central strip that cuts through South Los Angeles toward downtown Los Angeles.
Beating drums, the crowd chanted: “Turn up, turn down, we do this for Mike Brown.”
The crowd was young, mostly in their 20s and 30s. Police squad cars and officers stood by at a few intersections. Some protesters carried their cellphones, recording officers or photographing the scene. Helicopters hovered overhead.
John K. Givens, 45, a Los Angeles resident who works at a freight trading company, marched with the crowd, wearing a gray Dodgers cap and a navy blue vest jacket. “I was emotionally bothered by the decision,” Mr. Givens said of the grand jury in the Ferguson, Mo., case.
Mr. Givens said that as a black male, violent interactions were to be expected. His younger brother, Mr. Givens said, had been beaten by a Los Angeles police officer. “It’s nothing new,” he said. “This is the one that got the most media attention.”
Monday night’s grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson over the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, led to riots in the Missouri city.
Although Michael Brown’s family, President Barack Obama, and authorities called for peaceful protests, the Ferguson was soon out of control.
The riots saw a return to the looting, fires and property damages which took place on a smaller scale in August, immediately after the shooting of Brown.
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Damage done: Two buildings still smoulder after the riots that ravaged Ferguson, Missouri overnight
Before: A satellite image taken by Google in September 2012 show the buildings intact
As the sun rose on Tuesday, the cityscape of Ferguson looked worlds away from satellite and Google Street View snaps taken just months earlier.
Pictures from yesterday in comparison with images from before, tracked down byThe Wall Street Journal, show the damage done.
Last night, tens of thousands of people in more than 170 cities across America – including Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, among others – were demonstrating against the long-awaited verdict.
However, despite the St. Louis grand jury decision, federal investigations into the shooting of Michael Brown continue the US Attorney General said on Monday.
The Justice Department will continue to pursue two investigations, one into potential civil rights violations by Officer Wilson when he shot dead unarmed Brown in August this year, and one into the practices of the Ferguson Police force.
Damaged buildings in Ferguson following night of protests
Beauty lost: A beauty supply store has been left in ruins after Monday night’s riots
True beauty: A Google Street View snap from 2010 shows the shop in its original state
Burned out: A building in Ferguson only has its four walls left after being destroyed by fire
Better times: The building, which appears to be a shop, is pictured on Google earlier this year
The fire at the local Little Ceasars restaurant left the big orange sign in a melted lump on the ground
Neighborhood joint: There is no sign of its former glory, captured by Google in August 2012
Distraught: The manager of the Little Caesar’s said he understood the protesters were angry but added: ‘Speaking your mind – that’s America. You are supposed to be able to protest peacefully and make your point. But this…’
More destruction: The arson frenzy also hit South Florissant Street, about a mile away. This branch of Little Casear’s was burned out
Long way back: A woman stops to take a picture using her phone of the damage done
Still intact: The local Clean World Laundromat was still standing on Monday morning
Residents on the streets told MailOnline that the wreckage to Ferguson was so bad that it looked like ‘Ferganistan’.
Another said that it ‘looked like Iraq’.
Almost every building along South Florissant Street, where the Ferguson police station is located, had been ransacked or vandalised.
Tony Koenig and his brother Ray, 38 and 40, had taken the day off from working as school groundskeepers to help rebuild a Mexican restaurant run by a friend.
Tony said: ‘I have lived in Ferguson for 38 years and I have never seen anything like this. They just want street justice and they don’t care about how they get it.
‘This young generation. I cannot understand why they do what they do. The parents are to blame. When me and my brother grew up both our parents worked and we were raised knowing how to show respect, and that doesn’t happen these days.
‘We’ve had a hard enough time paying our mortgages after the economy went down. We don’t need this’.
Their friend Drew Canaday, who was also helping them, lives in the street next to South Florissant and said that it was ‘like a war’ the night before.
Destruction: :A rioter uses a stick to break a window at the Hunan Chop Suey Chinese Restaurant along West Florissant Ave last night
Nothing left: This was all that was left of the Hunan Chop Suey Chinese restaurant this morning after the fire wrecked it
As they were: The Hunan Chop Suey and TitleMax loans were both intact before last night’s orgy of violence
Burning: Cars parked outside one row of shops on West Florissant were targeted in the destruction spree
Attacked: McDonald’s on West Florissant was smashed up although not set on fire. It had previously (right) avoided damage
Crime scene: Much of West Florissant was under police guard today and described by officers as an active crime scene
‘Especially something this big. It takes dialogue and not everyone will be happy but that’s compromise.
‘These people don’t want to wait. That what today’s society has come to, not just here in Ferguson – this is America, this is the world.’
Further up South Florissant a Little Caesar’s pizza restaurant had been burned to the ground, as had the antiques store next to it.
The manager of the restaurant, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals, said that 12 people had now been put out of work and did not know if the owners would rebuild.
The manager said that the store was destroyed by a tornado three years earlier and they did build it back but it cost ‘a lot of money’.
He said: ‘Most of the people here have families and they are very worried about what will come next for them.
‘I’m proud to work here and started as the dishwasher and worked my way up. I had a motorcycle accident and had my foot amputated and they were good enough to give me a job,
The manger, a widower with two children in their 20s, said that he was in principle on the side of the protesters but that this was ‘too far’.
He said: ‘I believe in their right to protest and what they’re doing is a just case.
‘Speaking your mind – that’s America. You are supposed to be able to protest peacefully and make your point. But this…’
Darlena Cunha is a Florida-based contributor to The Washington Post and TIME among dozens of other publications.
The violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., are part of the American experience. Peaceful protesting is a luxury only available to those safely in mainstream culture
When a police officer shoots a young, unarmed black man in the streets, then does not face indictment, anger in the community is inevitable. It’s what we do with that anger that counts. In such a case, is rioting so wrong?
Riots are a necessary part of the evolution of society. Unfortunately, we do not live in a universal utopia where people have the basic human rights they deserve simply for existing, and until we get there, the legitimate frustration, sorrow and pain of the marginalized voices will boil over, spilling out into our streets. As “normal” citizens watch the events of Fergusonunfurl on their television screens and Twitter feeds, there is a lot of head shaking, finger pointing, and privileged explanation going on. We wish to seclude the incident and the people involved. To separate it from our history as a nation, to dehumanize the change agents because of their bad and sometimes violent decisions—because if we can separate the underlying racial tensions that clearly exist in our country from the looting and rioting of select individuals, we can continue to ignore the problem.
While the most famous rant against the riots thus far comes from Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo, where he calls the rioters “animals” and “losers,” there are thousands of people echoing these sentiments. Sorbo correctly ascertains that the rioting has little to do with the shooting of an unarmed black man in the street, but he blames it on the typical privileged American’s stereotype of a less fortunate sect of human being—that the looting is a result of frustration built up over years of “blaming everyone else, The Man, for their failures.”
Because when you have succeeded, it ceases to be a possibility, in our capitalist society, that anyone else helped you. And if no one helped you succeed, then no one is holding anyone else back from succeeding. Except they did help you, and they are holding people back. So that blaming someone else for your failures in the United States may very well be an astute observation of reality, particularly as it comes to white privilege versus black privilege. And, yes, they are different, and they are tied to race, and that doesn’t make me a racist, it makes me a realist. If anything, I am racist because I am white. Until I have had to walk in a person of color’s skin, I will never understand, I will always take things for granted, and I will be inherently privileged. But by ignoring the very real issues this country still faces in terms of race to promote an as-of-yet imaginary colorblind society, we contribute to the problem at hand, which is centuries of abuses lobbied against other humans on no basis but that of their skin color.
PHOTOS: FERGUSON IGNITES WITH VIOLENCE OVERNIGHT
BARRETT EMKE FOR TIME
Law enforcement stands in full gear by tanks in Ferguson, Mo. on Nov. 24, 2014
Sorbo is not alone. A webpage devoted to Tea Party politics has hundreds of comments disparaging the rioters, bemoaning the state of our country and very much blaming skin color as the culprit of this debauched way of dealing with the state of our society.
“To hear the libs, one would think that burning and looting are a justifiable way to judge negative events that effect (sic) the black,” one person wrote. “I intentionally used black because of a fact that you do not hear of these events when another skin color is in play. It is about time that the blacks start cleaning their own backyards before they start on ours.”
However, even the Tea Party gets its name from a riot, The Boston Tea Party. For those who need a quick history brush-up, in 1773 American protesters dumped an entire shipment of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest The Tea Act, which colonists maintained violated their rights. In response to this costly protest and civil unrest, the British government enforced The Coercive Acts, ending local government in Massachusetts, which in turn led to the American Revolution and created our great country.
Samuel Adams wrote of the incident, claiming it “was not the act of a lawless mob, but was instead a principled protest and the only remaining option the people had to defend their constitutional rights” according to John K. Alexander, author ofSamuel Adams: America’s Revolutionary Politician.
That protest back in 1773 was meant to effect political and societal change, and while the destruction of property in that case may not have ended in loss of human life, the revolutionthat took place afterward certainly did. What separates a heralded victory in history from an attempt at societal change, a cry for help from the country’s trampled, today? The fact that we won.
In terms of riots being more common in black communities, that is true only when the riots are politically aimed.
The obvious example here is the L.A. Riots of 1992, after the Rodney King beating and verdict. I would put forth that peaceful protesting is a luxury of those already in mainstream culture, those who can be assured their voices will be heard without violence, those who can afford to wait for the change they want.
“I risk sounding racist but if this was a white kid there would be no riot,” another person wrote on the Tea Party page. “History shows us that blacks in this country are more apt to riot than any other population. They are stirred up by racist black people and set out to cause problems. End of story.”
And the racism they are fighting, the racism we are all fighting, is still alive and well throughout our nation. The modern racism may not culminate in separate water fountains and separate seating in the backs of buses, but its insidious nature is perhaps even more dangerous to the individuals who have to live under the shroud of stereotypical lies society foists upon them.
Instead of tearing down other human beings who are acting upon decades of pent-up anger at a system decidedly against them, a system that has told them they are less than human for years, we ought to be reaching out to help them regain the humanity they lost, not when a few set fire to the buildings in Ferguson, but when they were born the wrong color in the post-racial America.
Dozens in Boston face charges for Ferguson protest
By Martin Finucane and Peter Schworm
Dozens of people are facing charges after crowds took to the streets of Boston Tuesday night to protest a grand jury’s decision not to charge a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in the fatal shooting of a black teenager who was unarmed.
Boston police arrested 47 people on charges that include disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, said police spokesman Officer James Kenneally.
Still, there were no major incidents or injuries reported in the mostly peaceful demonstrations.
“All in all, I think everybody handled themselves pretty well last night,” said Police Commissioner William Evans. “We wanted people to be able to express their frustration but, at the same time, we did want everybody to be safe.”
Demonstrations also took place in other cities around the country, including in New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., as the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown sparked a heated national debate about law enforcement’s relationship with minority communities.
Map: Ferguson protests in US
Though most of the gatherings were peaceful the day after the announcement, many cities saw marchers disrupting traffic and getting into confrontations with police.
Photos: Protesters march
Anthony Braga: Why Boston’s protests were mostly peaceful
Sense of resigned anger in Boston
The Boston marchers faced arraignment Wednesday in Roxbury District Court and Boston Municipal Court. About half those arrested were Boston residents. Most were college students, Kenneally said.
Many were arrested at Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue, where there was a sit-in, he said.
Evans said at a news conference that police had gone with a “real soft approach.”
He said he felt the protest went well “because of our whole style,” which includes “great community relations” and a constant dialogue with the community.
He said police recognized a number of the protesters from Occupy Boston, which occupied an area in downtown Boston in 2011.
Police expect protests to continue as long as Ferguson itself is “hot,” but he said, “I’d like to continue dialogue so Boston can be a model of how protests should go.”
At Roxbury District Court, one protester being arraigned painted a less sunny view of how police behaved.
“I was struck in the face by police. They put me in a headlock and dragged me out of the protest group and they hit me in the face, they threw me on the ground. … They handled it pretty poorly,” said David Meredith, a Salem State junior from Revere. Meredith had a black eye, which he said police had inflicted on him.
“I wasn’t shocked. I was appalled, but I wasn’t shocked. The police were being very confrontational. They seemed very angry the entire time,” he said, noting that he saw an officer choking another man, who was holding a camera.
Both Boston police and State Police interacted with demonstrators. It wasn’t clear what agency the officers who confronted Meredith came from.
David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said that “because of superb cooperation and coordination between State and Boston police, we were able to prevent protesters from entering the Southeast Expressway and the Mass. Turnpike.”
He added that monitoring social media “provided critical intelligence about protesters’ plans to try to disrupt traffic on state highways.”
One state trooper was bitten on the wrist by a protester, Procopio said. He was treated by Boston EMS on the scene.
An estimated 1,400 protesters marched from Dudley Square to the South Bay House of Correction, then onto the Massachusetts Avenue Connector near Interstate 93 before being blocked by police, the Globe reported Wednesday morning
The protesters spread across Boston, through Back Bay and the Financial District, meeting police again in Dewey Square — the former site of the Occupy encampment — outside South Station late Tuesday night, the Globe reported.
State troopers also assisted with other largely peaceful protests in Worcester, Northampton, and Springfield Tuesday night, Procopio said. No tactical and riot-control units were used, though they were on standby.
Procopio said State Police would maintain an increased presence at potential demonstration sites in Boston over the next several days.
Story 1: Agent Provocateur: Government Agencies (FBI and NSA and others) and Mass Media Provoking Riots in Ferguson To Increase Budgets and Ratings — Is Justice Department Under Holder Using The FBI As Agent Provocateurs? — Playing The Blame Game — Videos
Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – Dirty Tricks: Agent Provocateur
Preparing for violence in Missouri
Ferguson Nervously Awaits Grand Jury Decision
How police Agent Provocateur frame people
Provocateur Caught Throwing Bricks At Ferguson Police
John Sayles on New FBI Rules & Role of Agent Provocateurs in Disrupting Social Movements
FBI Warns of Ferguson Violence from ‘Extremists’ After Grand Jury Decision
Ferguson braces for grand jury decision
Biracial couple: We’re staying in Ferguson
Snipers Take Aim and Push Infowars Reporters
Combat Vet Ferguson Missouri Has Turned Into Fallujah Iraq
Infowars Shatters Multiple Mainstream Media Lies in Ferguson, MO
Infowars Recounts Ferguson Police State
Missouri Deploys National Guard
Occupy LA – Police Provocateurs Confirmed
Occupy LA has become victim to police provocateur (under cover cops causing violence) much like other cities around the world. What to look for:
The same boots,
specific type of black bandana.
Police Provocateurs are not smart, and they are easy to spot. Do not let your 1st amendment rights be trampled by corrupt police.
LAPD Infiltrators and Agent Provocateurs Targeted Left and Panthers – Johnston on RAI – (2/4)
The Deep State and the Power of Billionaires – David Cay Johnston on Reality Asserts Itself (3/4)
Ferguson on the edge: RT America special on eve of grand jury ruling
Michael Brown Protests Turns Into RIOT…LOOTINGS…VIOLENCE(RIOT Police Called In)
Ferguson, Missouri LOOTERS Target FOOT LOCKER…FAMILY DOLLAR …RIMS… BURNS Down QUICKTRIP!!
Violence erupts in Ferguson
COINTELPRO 101 – The Sabotage Of Legitimate Dissent
Activists Who Stole FBI Documents in 1971 Revealing COINTELPRO Speak Out
Betty Medsger “The Burglary”
TREASON 101 FBI Cointelpro
COINTELPRO: The FBI’s War on Black America
BUSTED! Proof Missouri Riots Were Obama’s Attempt To Implement A Martial Law Police State!
FBI Agent Provocateur Suggested Terror Attack at Mosque
FBI – Don’t post that or I’ll be “livid”
Return of the Ferguson War Zone? Missouri Enacts State of Emergency Ahead of Mike Brown Grand Jury
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in advance of the grand jury’s pending decision in the Michael Brown shooting case. On Monday, Nixon issued an executive order to activate the state’s National Guard in response to what he called “the possibility of expanded unrest.” Nixon cited the protests in Ferguson and the St. Louis area since Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was killed by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. The grand jury has been meeting for nearly three months, and protests are expected to escalate if they choose not to indict. But while state officials say they fear violence, protesters say they fear a return to the militarized crackdown that turned their community into a war zone. As the grand jury nears a decision and all sides prepare for the unknown under a state of emergency, we are joined by two guests: Jeff Smith, a New School professor and former Missouri state senator whose new book is “Ferguson: In Black and White,” and Montague Simmons, chair of the St. Louis-based Organization for Black Struggle and a key organizer in the movement that has emerged since Brown’s killing.
Under Obama, U.S. personal freedom ranking slips below France
U.S. Secrets: Classified Intelligence, CIA,FBI,NSA,Secret Service, Edward Snowden
#Ferguson Protest Group Releases List of Targets, Including: Anheuser Busch, Boeing, Emerson Electric, Airport
Posted by Jim Hoft on Monday, November 17, 2014, 11:28 AM
The No Indictment.org Ferguson protest group released its list of potential targets following the decision by the St. Louis County Courthouse on the Mike Brown case.
The published map shows expected landmarks like the Ferguson City Hall and the County Courthouse.
But it also marks things that have NOTHING to do with the Michael Brown situation, like Anheuser Busch and Boeing.
Most telling thing is the mark for Emerson Electric. Emerson has been in Ferguson for at least 50 years, long before Ferguson became a minority municipality. Yet not only do they mark Emerson they make note of the CEO’s salary. Maybe they’re mutating into an extortion group straight out of the playbook of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition?
In preparation for a no-indictment decision, here is the important information to know.
On August 9, 2014, Mike Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson. For nearly 100 days, we have protested to demand an indictment. We are hopeful that Darren Wilson will be indicted for murder, but the recent signs do not seem that this outcome is likely.
We will update this page daily with key information regarding post indictment decision announcement planning. And this isn’t meant to replace twitter or the newsletter, but to be a central space for information that can be updated in real-time.
Lawyers, Legal Workers, and Law Students — The Ferguson Legal Defense Fund, a coalition of St. Louis lawyers and firms, has issued an emergency call to action to find volunteers to assist with legal representation, jail supports and visits, legal research, legal observation, and legal observation and training. Click here to learn more and to volunteer.
Nationwide Actions Planned
Click here to learn more about the actions planned across the country in the event of a non-indictment. Actions are currently planned in 50+ cities across America.
For a primer and re-cap of the direct action trainings, click here to access the core materials. More information will be posted in the coming days.
Support With Safe House Supplies
All supplies are to be delivered to World Community Center at 438 N Skinker Blvd.
FBI Warns Ferguson Decision ‘Will Likely’ Lead to Violence By Extremists Protesters
By MIKE LEVINE, PIERRE THOMAS, JACK DATE and JACK CLOHERTY
As the nation waits to hear whether a Missouri police officer will face charges for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the FBI is warning law enforcement agencies across the country that the decision “will likely” lead some extremist protesters to threaten and even attack police officers or federal agents.
Peaceful protesters could be caught in the middle, and electrical facilities or water treatment plants could also become targets. In addition, so-called “hacktivists” like the group “Anonymous” could try to launch cyber-attacks against authorities.
“The announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” the FBI says in an intelligence bulletin issued in recent days. “This also poses a threat to those civilians engaged in lawful or otherwise constitutionally protected activities.”
“Those infiltrating and exploiting otherwise legitimate public demonstrations with the intent to incite and engage in violence could be armed…”
The FBI bulletin expresses concern only over those who would exploit peaceful protests, not the masses of demonstrators who will want to legitimately, lawfully and collectively express their views on the grand jury’s decision.
The bulletin “stresses the importance of remaining aware of the protections afforded to all U.S. persons exercising their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”
Within hours of the FBI issuing its bulletin, some police departments across the country issued their own internal memos urging officers to review procedures and protocols for responding to mass demonstrations.
Still, the bulletin’s conclusions were blunt: “The FBI assesses those infiltrating and exploiting otherwise legitimate public demonstrations with the intent to incite and engage in violence could be armed with bladed weapons or firearms, equipped with tactical gear/gas masks, or bulletproof vests to mitigate law enforcement measures.”
Jeff Roberson/AP Photo
PHOTO: A protester kicks a smoke grenade that had been deployed by police back in the direction of police, Aug. 13, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
The bulletin cites a series of recent messages threatening law enforcement, including a message posted online last week by a black separatist group that offered “a $5,000 bounty for the location” of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who fired the shots that killed Brown on Aug. 9.
In interviews with ABC News, police officials said their departments have identified a number of agitators who routinely appear at mass demonstrations.
“How many of those sympathizers are actually sympathizers?” Rick Hite, the chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan police department, wondered. Many of them see the protests as a way to “chime in with their own personal agenda,” he said.
In its new intelligence bulletin, obtained by ABC News, the FBI says “exploitation” of mass demonstrations “could occur both in the Ferguson area and nationwide.”
“All it takes is one.”
Overall, though, law enforcement officials contacted by ABC News – stretching from Los Angeles to the Atlanta area – remained confident that any protests in their cities would not be tainted by violence.
“We are not expecting any issues in our city,” said Billy Grogan, the chief of police in Dunwoody, Ga., outside Atlanta. “However, we are preparing just in case. I believe most departments are watching the situation closely and are prepared to respond if needed.”
A law enforcement official in Pennsylvania agreed, saying that while authorities there are not enacting any significant new measures they are “monitoring” developments out of Ferguson.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
PHOTO: Plywood covers the glass front of a strip mall along West Florissant Street on Nov. 12, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.
In addition, police officials emphasized that efforts to address a big decision like the one pending in Ferguson actually begin well before that decision.
In Indianapolis, police have held two town-hall meetings in the past two months to discuss the Ferguson issue with concerned residents, and meetings like that help build a “bank of trust,” Hite said.
But it’s sometimes hard to build such trust between a community and the law enforcement officers working its streets.
With several recent cases involving allegations of excessive force by police officers, many in African-American communities can’t help but wonder why seemingly routine encounters escalate so dramatically.
Jeff Roberson/AP Photo
PHOTO: A man watches as police walk through a cloud of smoke during a clash with protesters, Aug. 13, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
In a recent interview with ABC News, Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey said people in “communities of color” often “don’t view us as people who really have the right to enforce laws or tell them what to do,” and sometimes it’s because of “the way they’ve seen us conduct ourselves in the past.”
“Not all cops, but all it takes is one,” Ramsey said. “As human beings, we tend to remember the one bad incident, not the 10 good ones that we may have experienced.”
On the other side of the spectrum, there are some uncomfortable facts that may be influencing how some police respond to African-Americans they encounter on routine patrols.
In particular, African-Americans are disproportionally represented in crime. According to the FBI, 4,379 blacks were arrested for murder last year, while 3,799 whites were arrested for murder – even though census numbers show there are six times more whites than blacks in the United States.
But as Ramsey said, crime statistics are no excuse for police bias.
“Protest. But protest peacefully. Have your voices be heard.”
And now a grand jury in Ferguson and federal prosecutors are separately looking into whether that type of bias led to Brown’s death.
It’s unclear whether the facts of the case will lead to any prosecution. Indeed, it seems few pieces of evidence are without dispute.
The day after the encounter that resulted in Brown’s death, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters that Brown “physically assaulted” Wilson inside his police car and that “there was a struggle over the officer’s weapon.” At least one shot was fired inside the car, but the fatal shot was fired when both Wilson and Brown were outside the car, according to Belmar. At least one witness said Brown was shot “with his arms up in the air,” while the police claim Wilson fired because Brown was advancing towards him.
Jeff Roberson/AP Photo
PHOTO: People raise their hands in the middle of the street as police wearing riot gear move toward their position trying to get them to disperse, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
Pressed in September to acknowledge that the Justice Department’s own civil rights investigation may not result in charges, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder would only say that “at the end of the day, it’s most important that we get it right.”
As for what’s ahead in Ferguson and communities across the country, Ramsey offered this piece of advice: “Protest. But protest peacefully. Have your voices be heard.”
Only Martians, by now, are unaware of the phone and online data scooped up by the National Security Agency (though if it turns out that they are aware, the NSA has surely picked up their signals and crunched their metadata). American high-tech surveillance is not, however, the only kind around. There’s also the lower tech, up-close-and-personal kind that involves informers and sometimes government-instigated violence.
Just how much of this is going on and in how coordinated a way no one out here in the spied-upon world knows. The lower-tech stuff gets reported, if at all, only one singular, isolated event at a time—look over here, look over there, now you see it, now you don’t. What is known about such surveillance as well as the suborning of illegal acts by government agencies, including the FBI, in the name of counterterrorism has not been put together by major news organizations in a way that would give us an overview of the phenomenon. (TheACLU has done by far the best job of compiling reports on this sort of spying on Americans.)
Some intriguing bits about informers and agents provocateurs briefly made it into the public spotlight whenOccupy Wall Street was riding high. But as always, dots need connecting. Here is a preliminary attempt to sort out some patterns behind what could be the next big story about government surveillance and provocation in America.
Two Stories From Occupy Wall Street
The first is about surveillance. The second is about provocation.
On September 17, 2011, Plan A for the New York activists who came to be known as Occupy Wall Street was to march to the territory outside the bank headquarters of JPMorgan Chase. Once there, they discovered that the block was entirely fenced in. Many activists came to believe that the police had learned their initial destination from e-mail circulating beforehand. Whereupon they headed for nearby Zuccotti Park and a movement was born.
The evening before May Day 2012, a rump Occupy groupmarched out of San Francisco’s Dolores Park and into the Mission District, a neighborhood where not so many 1 percenters live, work or shop. There, they proceeded to trash “mom and pop shops, local boutiques and businesses, and cars,” according to Scott Rossi, a medic and eyewitness, who summed his feelings up this way afterward: “We were hijacked.” The people “leading the march tonight,” he added, were
clean cut, athletic, commanding, gravitas not borne of charisma but of testosterone and intimidation. They were decked out in outfits typically attributed to those in the “black bloc” spectrum of tactics, yet their clothes were too new, and something was just off about them. They were very combative and nearly physically violent with the livestreamers on site, and got ignorant with me, a medic, when I intervened.… I didn’t recognize any of these people. Their eyes were too angry, their mouths were too severe. They felt “military” if that makes sense. Something just wasn’t right about them on too many levels.
He was quick to add, “I’m not one of those tin foil hat conspiracy theorists. I don’t subscribe to those theories that Queen Elizabeth’s Reptilian slave driver masters run the Fed. I’ve read up on agents provocateurs and plants and that sort of thing and I have to say that, without a doubt, I believe 100 percent that the people that started tonight’s events in the Mission were exactly that.”
Taken aback, Occupy San Francisco condemned the sideshow: “We consider these acts of vandalism and violence a brutal assault on our community and the 99%.”
Where does such vandalism and violence come from? We don’t know. There are actual activists who believe that they are doing good this way; and there are government infiltrators; and then there are double agents who don’t know who they work for, ultimately, but like smashing things or blowing them up. By definition, masked trashers of windows in Oakland or elsewhere are anonymous. In anonymity, they—and the burners of flags and setters of bombs—magnify their power. They hijack the media spotlight. In this way, tiny groups—incendiary, sincere, fraudulent, whoever they are—seize levers that can move the entire world.
The Sting of the Clueless Bee
Who casts the first stone? Who smashes the first window? Who teaches bombers to build and plant actual or spurious bombs? The history of the secret police planting agents provocateurs in popular movements goes back at least to nineteenth-century France and twentieth-century Russia. In 1905, for example, the priest who led the St. Petersburg’s revolution was some sort of double agent, as was the man who organized the assassination of the czar’s uncle, the grand duke. As it happens, the United States has its own surprisingly full history of such planted agents at work turning small groups or movements in directions that, for better or far more often worse, they weren’t planning on going. One well-documented case is that of “Tommy the Traveler,” a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organizer who after years of trying to arouse violent action convinced two 19-year-old students to firebomb an ROTC headquarters at Hobart College in upstate New York. The writer John Schultz reported onlikely provocateurs in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention of 1968. How much of this sort of thing went on? Who knows? Many relevant documents molded in unopened archives, or have been heavily redacted or destroyed.
As the Boston marathon bombing illustrates, there are homegrown terrorists capable of producing the weapons they need and killing Americans without the slightest help from the US government. But historically, it’s surprising how relatively often the gendarme is also a ringleader. Just how often is hard to know, since information on the subject is fiendishly hard to pry loose from the secret world.
Through 2011, 508 defendants in the United States were prosecuted in what the Department of Justice calls “terrorism-related cases.” According to Mother Jones’s Trevor Aaronson, the FBI ran sting operations that “resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants”—about one-third of the total. “Of that total, forty-nine defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur—an FBI operative instigating terrorist action. With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.”
In Cleveland, on May Day of 2012, in the words of a Rolling Stone exposé, the FBI “turned five stoner misfits into the world’s most hapless terrorist cell.” To do this, the FBI put a deeply indebted, convicted bank robber and bad-check passer on its payroll, and hooked him up with an arms dealer, also paid by the bureau. The FBI undercover man then hustled five wacked-out wannabe anarchists into procuring what they thought was enough C4 plastic explosive to build bombs they thought would blow up a bridge. The bombs were, of course, dummies. The five were arrested and await trial.
What do such cases mean? What is the FBI up to? Trevor Aaronson offers this appraisal:
The FBI’s goal is to create a hostile environment for terrorist recruiters and operators—by raising the risk of even the smallest step toward violent action. It’s a form of deterrence.… Advocates insist it has been effective, noting that there hasn’t been a successful large-scale attack against the United States since 9/11. But what can’t be answered—as many former and current FBI agents acknowledge—is how many of the bureau’s targets would have taken the step over the line at all, were it not for an informant.
Perhaps Aaronson is a bit too generous. The FBI may, at times, be anything but thoughtful in its provocations. It may, in fact, be flatly dopey. COINTELPRO records released since the 1960s under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that it took FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover until 1968 to discover that there was such a thing as a New Left that might be of interest. Between 1960 and 1968, as the New Left was becoming a formidable force in its own right, the bureau’s top officials seem to have thought that groups like Students for a Democratic Society were simply covers for the Communist Party, which was like mistaking the fleas for the dog. We have been assured that the FBI of today has learned something since the days of J. Edgar Hoover. But of ignorance and stupidity there is no end.
Trivial and Nontrivial Pursuits
Entrapment and instigation to commit crimes are in themselves genuine dangers to American liberties, even when the liberties are those of the reckless and wild. But there is another danger to such pursuits: the attention the authorities pay to nonexistent threats (or the creation of such threats) is attention not paid to actual threats.
Anyone concerned about the security of Americans should cast a suspicious eye on the allocation or simply squandering of resources on wild goose chases. Consider some particulars which have recently come to light. Under the Freedom of Information Act, thePartnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) has unearthed documents showing that, in 2011 and 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies were busy surveilling and worrying about a good number of Occupy groups—during the very time that they were missing actual warnings about actual terrorist actions.
From its beginnings, the Occupy movement was of considerable interest to the DHS, the FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, while true terrorists were slipping past the nets they cast in the wrong places. In the fall of 2011, the DHS specifically asked its regional affiliates to report on “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations, in addition to reporting on domestic terrorist acts and ‘significant criminal activity.’ ”
Aware that Occupy was overwhelmingly peaceful, the federally funded Boston Regional Intelligence Center, one of seventy-seven coordination centers known generically as “fusion centers,” was busy monitoring Occupy Boston daily. As the investigative journalist Michael Isikoff recently reported, it was not only tracking Occupy-related Facebook pages and websites but “writing reports on the movement’s potential impact on ‘commercial and financial sector assets.’ ”
It was in this period that the FBI received the second of two Russian police warnings about the extremist Islamist activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the future Boston Marathon bomber. That city’s police commissioner later testified that the federal authorities did not pass any information at all about the Tsarnaev brothers on to him, though there’s no point in letting the Boston police off the hook either. The ACLU has uncovered documents showing that, during the same period, they were paying close attention to the internal workings of… Code Pink and Veterans for Peace.
Public Agencies and the “Private Sector”
So we know that Boston’s master coordinators—its Committee on Public Safety, you might say—were worried about constitutionally protected activity, including its consequences for “commercial and financial sector assets.” Unsurprisingly, the feds worked closely with Wall Street even before the settling of Zuccotti Park. More surprisingly, in Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin, intelligence was not only pooled among public law enforcement agencies, but shared with private corporations—and vice versa.
Nationally, in 2011, the FBI and DHS were, in the words of Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, “treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.” Last December using FOIA, PCJF obtained 112 pages of documents (heavily redacted) revealing a good deal of evidence for what might otherwise seem like an outlandish charge: that federal authorities were, in Verheyden-Hilliard’s words, “functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” Consider these examples from PCJF’s summary of federal agencies working directly not only with local authorities but on behalf of the private sector:
• “As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.”
• “The FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to…[twenty-two] campus police officials.… A representative of the State University of New York at Oswego contacted the FBI for information on the OWS protests and reported to the FBI on the SUNY-Oswego Occupy encampment made up of students and professors.”
• An entity called the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector,” sent around information regarding Occupy protests at West Coast ports [on November 2, 2011] to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report contained “a ‘handling notice’ that the information is ‘meant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other personnel…’ Naval Criminal Investigative Services reported to DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor.”
• DSAC gave tips to its corporate clients on “civil unrest,” which it defined as running the gamut from “small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.” It advised corporate employees to dress conservatively, avoid political discussions and “avoid all large gatherings related to civil issues. Even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activity or be met with resistance by security forces.”
• The FBI in Anchorage, Jacksonville, Tampa, Richmond, Memphis, Milwaukee and Birmingham also gathered information and briefed local officials on wholly peaceful Occupy activities.
• In Jackson, Mississippi, FBI agents “attended a meeting with the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, MS with multiple private banks and the Biloxi Police Department, in which they discussed an announced protest for ‘National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day’ on December 7, 2011.” Also in Jackson, “the Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a ‘Counterterrorism Preparedness’ alert” that, despite heavy redactions, notes the need to ‘document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement.’ ”
Sometimes, “intelligence” moves in the opposite direction—from private corporations to public agencies. Among the collectors of such “intelligence” are entities that, like the various intelligence and law enforcement outfits, do not make distinctions between terrorists and nonviolent protesters. Consider TransCanada, the corporation that plans to build the 1,179-mile Keystone-XL tar sands pipeline across the US and in the process realize its “vision to become the leading energy infrastructure company in North America.“ The anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska filed a successful Freedom of Information Act request with the Nebraska State Patrol and so was able to put TransCanada’s briefing slideshow up online.
So it can be documented in living color that the company lectured federal agents and local police to look into the use of “anti-terrorism statutes” against peaceful anti-Keystone activists. TransCanada showed slides that cited as sinister the “attendance” of Bold Nebraska members at public events, noting “Suspicious Vehicles/Photography.” TransCanada alerted the authorities that Nebraska protesters were guilty of “aggressive/abusive behavior,” citing a local anti-pipeline group that, they said, committed a “slap on the shoulder” at the Merrick County Board Meeting (possessor of said shoulder unspecified). They fingered nonviolent activists by name and photo, paying them the tribute of calling them “’Professionals’ & Organized.” Native News Network pointed out that “although TransCanada’s presentation to authorities contains information about property destruction, sabotage, and booby traps, police in Texas and Oklahoma have never alleged, accused, or charged Tar Sands Blockade activists of any such behaviors.”
Centers for Fusion, Diffusion and Confusion
After September 11, 2001, government agencies at all levels, suddenly eager to break down information barriers and connect the sort of dots that had gone massively unconnected before the Al Qaeda attacks, used Department of Homeland Security funds to start “fusion centers.” These are supposed to coordinate anti-terrorist intelligence gathering and analysis. They are also supposed to “fuse” intelligence reports from federal, state and local authorities, as well as private companies that conduct intelligence operations. According to the ACLU, at least seventy-seven fusion centers currently receive federal funds.
Much is not known about these centers, including just who runs them, by what rules and which public and private entities are among the fused. There is nothing public about most of them. However, some things are known about a few. Several fusion center reports that have gone public illustrate a remarkably slapdash approach to what constitutes “terrorist danger” and just what kinds of data are considered relevant for law enforcement. In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee learned, for instance, that the Tennessee Fusion Center was “highlighting on its website map of ‘Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity’ a recent ACLU-TN letter to school superintendents. The letter encourages schools to be supportive of all religious beliefs during the holiday season.” (The map is no longer online.)
So far, the prize for pure fused wordiness goes to a 215-page manual issued in 2009 by theVirginia Fusion Center (VFC), filled with Keystone Kop–style passages among pages that in their intrusive sweep are anything but funny. The VFC warned, for instance, that “the Garbage Liberation Front (GLF) is an ecological direct action group that demonstrates the joining of anarchism and environmental movements.” Among GLF’s dangerous activities well worth the watching, the VFC included “dumpster diving, squatting, and train hopping.”
In a similarly jaw-dropping manner, the manual claimed—the italics are mine—that “Katuah Earth First (KEF), based in Asheville, North Carolina, sends activists throughout the region to train and engage in criminal activity. KEF has trained local environmentalists in non-violent tactics, including blocking roads and leading demonstrations, at action camps in Virginia.While KEF has been primarily involved in protests and university outreach, members have also engaged in vandalism.” Vandalism! Send out an APB!
The VFC also warned that, “although the anarchist threat to Virginia is assessed as low, these individuals view the government as unnecessary, which could lead to threats or attacks against government figures or establishments.” It singled out the following 2008 incidents as worth notice:
• At the Martinsville Speedway, “A temporary employee called in a bomb threat during a Sprint Cup race…because he was tired of picking up trash and wanted to go home.”
• In Missouri, “a mobile security team observed an individual photographing an unspecified oil refinery.… The person abruptly left the scene before he could be questioned.”
• Somewhere in Virginia, “seven passengers aboard a white pontoon boat dressed in traditional Middle Eastern garments immediately sped away after being sighted in the recreational area, which is in close proximity to” a power plant.
What idiot or idiots wrote this script?
Given a disturbing lack of evidence of terrorist actions undertaken or in prospect, the authors even warned:
It is likely that potential incidents of interest are occurring, but that such incidents are either not recognized by initial responders or simply not reported. The lack of detailed information for Virginia instances of monitored trends should not be construed to represent a lack of occurrence.
Lest it be thought that Virginia stands alone and shivering on the summit of bureaucratic stupidity, consider an “intelligence report” from the North Central Texas fusion center, which in a 2009 “Prevention Awareness Bulletin” described, in the ACLU’s words, “a purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the antiwar movement, a former US Congresswoman, the US Treasury Department, and hip hop bands to spread tolerance in the United States, which would ‘provide an environment for terrorist organizations to flourish.’ ”
And those Virginia and Texas fusion centers were hardly alone in expanding the definition of “terrorist” to fit just about anyone who might oppose government policies. According to a 2010 report in the Los Angeles Times, the Justice Department Inspector General found that “FBI agents improperly opened investigations into Greenpeace and several other domestic advocacy groups after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and put the names of some of their members on terrorist watch lists based on evidence that turned out to be ‘factually weak.’ ” The Inspector General called “troubling” what the Los Angeles Times described as “singling out some of the domestic groups for investigations that lasted up to five years, and were extended ‘without adequate basis.’ ”
Subsequently, the FBI continued to maintain investigative files on groups like Greenpeace, the Catholic Worker, and the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, cases where (in the politely put words of the Inspector General’s report) “there was little indication of any possible federal crimes… In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘acts of terrorism’ classification.”
One of these investigations concerned Greenpeace protests planned for ExxonMobil shareholder meetings. (Note: I was on Greenpeace’s board of directors during three of those years.) The inquiry was kept open “for over three years, long past the shareholder meetings that the subjects were supposedly planning to disrupt.” The FBI put the names of Greenpeace members on its federal watch list. Around the same time, an ExxonMobil-funded lobby got the IRS to audit Greenpeace.
This counterintelligence archipelago of malfeasance and stupidity is sometimes fused with ass-covering fabrication. In Pittsburgh, on the day after Thanksgiving 2002 (“a slow work day” in the Justice Department inspector general’s estimation), a rookie FBI agent was outfitted with a camera, sent to an antiwar rally, and told to look for terrorism suspects. The “possibility that any useful information would result from this make-work assignment was remote,” the report added drily.
The agent was unable to identify any terrorism subjects at the event, but he photographed a woman in order to have something to show his supervisor. He told us he had spoken to a woman leafletter at the rally who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, and that she was probably the person he photographed.
The sequel was not quite so droll. The Inspector General found that FBI officials, including their chief lawyer in Pittsburgh, manufactured postdated “routing slips” and the rest of a phony paper trail to justify this surveillance retroactively.
Moreover, at least one fusion center has involved military intelligence in civilian law enforcement. In 2009, a military operative from Fort Lewis, Washington, worked undercovercollecting information on peace groups in the Northwest. In fact, he helped run the Port Militarization Resistance group’s Listserv. Once uncovered, he told activists there were others doing similar work in the Army. How much the military spies on American citizens is unknown and, at the moment at least, unknowable.
Do we hear an echo from the abyss of the counterintelligence programs of the 1960s and 1970s, when FBI memos—I have some in my own heavily redacted files obtained through an FOIA request—were routinely copied to military intelligence units? Then, too, military intelligence operatives spied on activists who violated no laws, were not suspected of violating laws, and had they violated laws, would not have been under military jurisdiction in any case. During those years, more than 1,500 Army intelligence agents in plain clothes were spying, undercover, on domestic political groups (according to “Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1967–70,” an unpublished dissertation by former Army intelligence captain Christopher H. Pyle). They posed as students, sometimes growing long hair and beards for the purpose, or as reporters and camera crews. They recorded speeches and conversations on concealed tape recorders. The Army lied about their purposes, claiming they were interested solely in “civil disturbance planning.”
Years later, I met one of these agents, now retired, in San Francisco. He knew more about what I was doing in the late 1960s than my mother did.
In 2009, President Obama told the graduating class at the Naval Academy that, “as Americans, we reject the false choice between our security and our ideals.” Security and ideals: officially we want both. But how do you square circles, especially in a world in which “security” has often enough become a stand-in for whatever intelligence operatives decide to do?
The ACLU’s Tennessee office sums the situation up nicely: “While the ostensible purpose of fusion centers, to improve sharing of anti-terrorism intelligence among different levels and arms of government, is legitimate and important, using the centers to monitor protected First Amendment activity clearly crosses the line.” Nationally, the ACLU rightly worries about who is in charge of fusion centers and by what rules they operate, about what becomes of privacy when private corporations are inserted into the intelligence process, about what the military is doing meddling in civilian law enforcement, about data-mining operations that Federal guidelines encourage, and about the secrecy walls behind which the fusion centers operate.
Even when fusion centers do their best to square that circle in their own guidelines, like the ones obtained by the ACLU from Massachusetts’s Commonwealth Fusion Center (CFC), the knots in which they tie themselves are all over the page. Imagine, then, what happens when you let informers or agents provocateurs loose in actual undercover situations.
“Undercovers,” writes the Massachusetts CFC, “may not seek to gain access to private meetings and should not actively participate in meetings.… At the preliminary inquiry stage, sources and informants should not be used to cultivate relationships with persons and groups that are the subject of the preliminary inquiry.” So far so good. Then, it adds, “Investigators may, however, interview, obtain, and accept information known to sources and informants.” By eavesdropping, say? Collecting trash? Hacking? All without warrants? Without probable cause?
“Undercovers and informants,” the guidelines continue, “are strictly prohibited from engaging in any conduct the sole purpose of which is to disrupt the lawful exercise of political activity, from disrupting the lawful operations of an organization, from sowing seeds of distrust between members of an organization involved in lawful activity, or from instigating unlawful acts or engaging in unlawful or unauthorized investigative activities.” Now, go back and note that little, easy-to-miss word “sole.” Who knows just what grim circles that tiny word squares?
The Massachusetts CFC at least addresses the issue of entrapment: “Undercovers should not become so involved in a group that they are participating in directing the operations of a group, either by accepting a formal position in the hierarchy or by informally establishing the group’s policy and priorities. This does not mean an undercover cannot support a group’s policies and priorities; rather an undercover should not become a driving force behind a group’s unlawful activities.” Did Cleveland’s fusion center have such guidelines? Did they follow them? Do other state fusion centers? We don’t know.
Whatever the fog of surveillance, when it comes to informers, agents provocateurs, and similar matters, four things are clear enough:
• Terrorist plots arise, in the United States as elsewhere, with the intent of committing murder and mayhem. Since 2001, in the US, these have been almost exclusively the work of freelance Islamist ideologues like the Tsarnaev brothers of Boston. None have been connected in any meaningful way with any legitimate organization or movement.
• Government surveillance may in some cases have been helpful in scotching such plots, but there is no evidence that it has been essential.
• Even based on the limited information available to us, since September 11, 2001, the net of surveillance has been thrown wide indeed. Tabs have been kept on members of quite a range of suspect populations, including American Muslims, anarchists, and environmentalists, among others—in situation after situation where there was no probable cause to suspect preparations for a crime.
• At least on occasion—we have no way of knowing how often—agents provocateurs on government payrolls have spurred violence.
How much official unintelligence is at work? How many demonstrations are being poked and prodded by undercover agents? How many acts of violence are being suborned? It would be foolish to say we know. At least equally foolish would be to trust the authorities to keep to honest-to-goodness police work when they are so mightily tempted to take the low road into straight-out, unwarranted espionage and instigation.
The official COINTELPRO label took place between 1956 and 1971. The FBI’s stated motivation was “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order.”
The FBI engaged in the political repression of “communism” almost from the time of the agency’s inception in 1908, at a time of widespread social disruption due to anarchists and labor movements. Beginning in the 1930s, antecedents to COINTELPRO operated during the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Trumanadministrations. Centralized operations under COINTELPRO officially began in August 1956 with a program designed to “increase factionalism, cause disruption and win defections” inside the Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA). Tactics included anonymous phone calls, IRS audits, and the creation of documents that would divide American communists internally. An October 1956 memo from Hoover reclassified the FBI’s ongoing surveillance of black leaders, including it within COINTELPRO, with the justification that the movement was infiltrated by communists. In 1956, Hoover sent an open letter denouncing Dr. T.R.M. Howard, a civil rights leader, surgeon, and wealthy entrepreneur in Mississippi who had criticized FBI inaction in solving recent murders of George W. Lee, Emmett Till, and other blacks in the South. When the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was founded in 1957, the FBI began to monitor and target the group almost immediately, focusing particularly on Bayard Rustin, Stanley Levison, and, eventually, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech. … We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.
Soon after, the FBI was systematically bugging King’s home and his hotel rooms.
In the mid-1960s, King began publicly criticizing the Bureau for giving insufficient attention to the use of terrorism by white supremacists. Hoover responded by publicly calling King the most “notorious liar” in the United States. In his 1991 memoir, Washington Post journalist Carl Rowan asserted that the FBI had sent at least one anonymous letter to King encouraging him to commit suicide. Historian Taylor Branch documents an anonymous November 21, 1964 “suicide package” sent by the FBI that contained audio recordings of King’s sexual indiscretions combined with a letter telling him “There is only one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
During the same period the program also targeted Malcolm X. While an FBI spokesman has denied that the FBI was “directly” involved in Malcolm’s murder, it is documented that the Bureau fostered the violent schism between Malcolm and the Nation of Islam that led to the black leader’s death. The FBI heavily infiltrated Malcolm’s Organization of Afro-American Unity in the final month’s of his life. The Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Malcolm X by Manning Marable asserts that most of the men who plotted Malcolm’s assassination were never apprehended and that the full extent of the FBI’s involvement in his death cannot be known.
A March 1968 memo stated the programs goal was to “prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups” ; to “Prevent the RISE OF A ‘MESSIAH’ who could unify…the militant black nationalist movement” ; “to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them before they exercise their potential for violence [against authorities].” ; to “Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining RESPECTABILITY, by discrediting them to…both the responsible community and to liberals who have vestiges of sympathy…”; and to “prevent the long-range GROWTH of militant black organizations, especially among youth.” Dr. King was said to have potential to be the “messiah” figure, should he abandon nonviolence and integrationism;Stokely Carmichael was noted to have “the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.” 
Overall, COINTELPRO encompassed disruption and sabotage of the Socialist Workers Party (1961), the Ku Klux Klan (1964), the Nation of Islam, the Black Panther Party (1967), and the entire New Left social/political movement, which included antiwar, community, and religious groups (1968). A later investigation by the Senate’sChurch Committee (see below) stated that “COINTELPRO began in 1956, in part because of frustration with Supreme Court rulings limiting the Government’s power to proceed overtly against dissident groups …” Official congressional committees and several court cases have concluded that COINTELPRO operations against communist and socialist groups exceeded statutory limits on FBI activity and violated constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and association.
The building broken into by the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI, at One Veterans Square, Media, Pennsylvania
Additional documents were revealed in the course of separate lawsuits filed against the FBI by NBC correspondent Carl Stern, the Socialist Workers Party, and a number of other groups. In 1976 the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities of the United States Senate, commonly referred to as the “Church Committee” for its chairman, Senator Frank Church of Idaho, launched a major investigation of the FBI and COINTELPRO. Journalists and historians speculate that the government has not released many dossier and documents related to the program. Many released documents have been partly, or entirely, redacted.
Since the conclusion of centralized COINTELPRO operations in 1971, FBI counterintelligence operations have been handled on a “case-by-case basis”; however allegations of improper political repression continue.
The Final Report of the Select Committee castigated conduct of the intelligence community in its domestic operations (including COINTELPRO) in no uncertain terms:
The Committee finds that the domestic activities of the intelligence community at times violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens. The legal questions involved in intelligence programs were often not considered. On other occasions, they were intentionally disregarded in the belief that because the programs served the “national security” the law did not apply. While intelligence officers on occasion failed to disclose to their superiors programs which were illegal or of questionable legality, the Committee finds that the most serious breaches of duty were those of senior officials, who were responsible for controlling intelligence activities and generally failed to assure compliance with the law. Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that … the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.
The Church Committee documented a history of the FBI exercising political repression as far back as World War I, through the 1920s, when agents were charged with rounding up “anarchists, communists, socialists, reformists and revolutionaries” for deportation. The domestic operations were increased against political and anti-war groups from 1936 through 1976.
The intended effect of the FBI’s COINTELPRO was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, or otherwise neutralize” groups that the FBI officials believed were “subversive” by instructing FBI field operatives to:
create a negative public image for target groups (e.g. by surveilling activists, and releasing negative personal information to the public)
break down internal organization
create dissension between groups
restrict access to public resources
restrict the ability to organize protests
restrict the ability of individuals to participate in group activities
While the declared purposes of these programs were to protect the “national security” or prevent violence, Bureau witnesses admit that many of the targets were nonviolent and most had no connections with a foreign power. Indeed, nonviolent organizations and individuals were targeted because the Bureau believed they represented a “potential” for violence—and nonviolent citizens who were against the war in Vietnam were targeted because they gave “aid and comfort” to violent demonstrators by lending respectability to their cause.
The imprecision of the targeting is demonstrated by the inability of the Bureau to define the subjects of the programs. The Black Nationalist program, according to its supervisor, included “a great number of organizations that you might not today characterize as black nationalist but which were in fact primarily black.” Thus, the nonviolent Southern Christian Leadership Conference was labeled as a Black Nationalist-“Hate Group.”
Furthermore, the actual targets were chosen from a far broader group than the titles of the programs would imply. The CPUSA program targeted not only Communist Party members but also sponsors of the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee and civil rights leaders allegedly under Communist influence or deemed to be not sufficiently “anti-Communist”. The Socialist Workers Party program included non-SWP sponsors of anti-war demonstrations which were cosponsored by the SWP or the Young Socialist Alliance, its youth group. The Black Nationalist program targeted a range of organizations from the Panthers to SNCC to the peaceful Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and included every Black Student Union and many other black student groups. New Left targets ranged from the SDS to the InterUniversity Committee for Debate on Foreign Policy, from Antioch College (“vanguard of the New Left”) to the New Mexico Free University and other “alternate” schools, and from underground newspapers to students’ protesting university censorship of a student publication by carrying signs with four-letter words on them.
Examples of surveillance, spanning all presidents from FDR to Nixon, both legal and illegal, contained in the Church Committee report:
President Roosevelt asked the FBI to put in its files the names of citizens sending telegrams to the White House opposing his “national defense” policy and supporting Col. Charles Lindbergh.
President Truman received inside information on a former Roosevelt aide’s efforts to influence his appointments, labor union negotiating plans, and the publishing plans of journalists.
President Johnson asked the FBI to conduct “name checks” of his critics and members of the staff of his 1964 opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater. He also requested purely political intelligence on his critics in the Senate, and received extensive intelligence reports on political activity at the 1964 Democratic Conventionfrom FBI electronic surveillance.
President Nixon authorized a program of wiretaps which produced for the White House purely political or personal information unrelated to national security, including information about a Supreme Court Justice.
The COINTELPRO documents show numerous cases of the FBI’s intentions to prevent and disrupt protests against the Vietnam War. Many techniques were used to accomplish this task. “These included promoting splits among antiwar forces, encouraging red-baiting of socialists, and pushing violent confrontations as an alternative to massive, peaceful demonstrations.” One 1966 COINTELPRO operation tried to redirect the Socialist Workers Party from their pledge of support for the antiwar movement.
According to attorney Brian Glick in his book War at Home, the FBI used four main methods during COINTELPRO:
Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.
Psychological warfare: The FBI and police used myriad “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists. They used bad-jacketingto create suspicion about targeted activists, sometimes with lethal consequences.
Legal harassment: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters.
Illegal force: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break-ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations. The object was to frighten or eliminate dissidents and disrupt their movements.
The FBI specifically developed tactics intended to heighten tension and hostility between various factions in the black militancy movement, for example between the Black Panthers, the US Organization, and the Blackstone Rangers. This resulted in numerous deaths, among which were San Diego Black Panther Party members John Huggins, Bunchy Carter and Sylvester Bell.
The FBI also conspired with the police departments of many U.S. cities (San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Philadelphia, Chicago) to encourage repeated raids on Black Panther homes—often with little or no evidence of violations of federal, state, or local laws—which resulted directly in the police killing many members of the Black Panther Party, most notably Chicago Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton on December 4, 1969.
In order to eliminate black militant leaders whom they considered dangerous, the FBI is believed to have worked with local police departments to target specific individuals, accuse them of crimes they did not commit, suppress exculpatory evidence and falsely incarcerate them.Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, a Black Panther Party leader, was incarcerated for 27 years before a California Superior Court vacated his murder conviction, ultimately freeing him. Appearing before the court, an FBI agent testified that he believed Pratt had been framed, because both the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department knew he had not been in the area at the time the murder occurred.
Some sources claim that the FBI conducted more than 200 “black bag jobs“, which were warrantless surreptitious entries, against the targeted groups and their members.
J. Edgar Hoover
In 1969 the FBI special agent in San Francisco wrote Hoover that his investigation of the Black Panther Party (BPP) had concluded that in his city, at least, the Panthers were primarily engaged in feeding breakfast to children. Hoover fired back a memo implying the agent’s career goals would be directly affected by his supplying evidence to support Hoover’s view that the BPP was “a violence-prone organization seeking to overthrow the Government by revolutionary means”.
Hoover supported using false claims to attack his political enemies. In one memo he wrote: “Purpose of counterintelligence action is to disrupt the BPP and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge.”
In one particularly controversial 1965 incident, white civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo was murdered by Ku Klux Klansmen, who gave chase and fired shots into her car after noticing that her passenger was a young black man; one of the Klansmen was Gary Thomas Rowe, an acknowledged FBI informant. The FBI spread rumors that Liuzzo was a member of theCommunist Party and had abandoned her children to have sexual relationships with African Americans involved in the Civil Rights Movement. FBI records show that J. Edgar Hoover personally communicated these insinuations to President Johnson. FBI informant Rowe has also been implicated in some of the most violent crimes of the 1960s civil rights era, including attacks on the Freedom Riders and the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.According to Noam Chomsky, in another instance in San Diego, the FBI financed, armed, and controlled an extreme right-wing group of former Minutemen, transforming it into a group called the Secret Army Organization that targeted groups, activists, and leaders involved in the Anti-War Movement, using both intimidation and violent acts.
Hoover ordered preemptive action “to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them before they exercise their potential for violence.”
Too many people have been spied upon by too many Government agencies and too much information has been illegally collected. The Government has often undertaken the secret surveillance of citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, even when those beliefs posed no threat of violence or illegal acts on behalf of a hostile foreign power. The Government, operating primarily through secret and bias informants, but also using other intrusive techniques such as wiretaps, microphone “bugs”, surreptitious mail opening, and break-ins, has swept in vast amounts of information about the personal lives, views, and associations of American citizens. Investigations of groups deemed potentially dangerous—and even of groups suspected of associating with potentially dangerous organizations—have continued for decades, despite the fact that those groups did not engage in unlawful activity.
Groups and individuals have been assaulted, repressed, harassed and disrupted because of their political views,social believes and their lifestyles. Investigations have been based upon vague standards whose breadth made excessive collection inevitable. Unsavory, harmful and vicious tactics have been employed—including anonymous attempts to break up marriages, disrupt meetings, ostracize persons from their professions, and provoke target groups into rivalries that might result in deaths. Intelligence agencies have served the political and personal objectives of presidents and other high officials. While the agencies often committed excesses in response to pressure from high officials in the Executive branch and Congress, they also occasionally initiated improper activities and then concealed them from officials whom they had a duty to inform.
Governmental officials—including those whose principal duty is to enforce the law—have violated or ignored the law over long periods of time and have advocated and defended their right to break the law.
The Constitutional system of checks and balances has not adequately controlled intelligence activities. Until recently the Executive branch has neither delineated the scope of permissible activities nor established procedures for supervising intelligence agencies. Congress has failed to exercise sufficient oversight, seldom questioning the use to which its appropriations were being put. Most domestic intelligence issues have not reached the courts, and in those cases when they have reached the courts, the judiciary has been reluctant to grapple with them.
While COINTELPRO was officially terminated in April 1971, critics allege that continuing FBI actions indicate that post-COINTELPRO reforms did not succeed in ending COINTELPRO tactics. Documents released under the FOIA show that the FBI tracked the late David Halberstam—a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author—for more than two decades. In 1978, then-acting FBI Director William H. Webster indicated that, by 1976, most of the program’s resources has been rerouted.[better source needed]
“Counterterrorism” guidelines implemented during the Reagan administration have been described as allowing a return to COINTELPRO tactics.[pages needed] Some radical groups accuse factional opponents of being FBI informants or assume the FBI is infiltrating the movement.
The IG report found these “troubling” FBI practices between 2001 and 2006. In some cases, the FBI conducted investigations of people affiliated with activist groups for “factually weak” reasons. Also, the FBI extended investigations of some of the groups “without adequate basis” and improperly kept information about activist groups in its files. The IG report also found that FBI Director Robert Mueller III provided inaccurate congressional testimony about one of the investigations, but this inaccuracy may have been due to his relying on what FBI officials told him.
Several authors have accused the FBI of continuing to deploy COINTELPRO-like tactics against radical groups after the official COINTELPRO operations were ended. Several authors have suggested the American Indian Movement (AIM) has been a target of such disturbing operations.
Authors such as Ward Churchill, Rex Weyler, and Peter Matthiessen allege that the federal government intended to acquire uranium deposits on the Lakota tribe’s reservation land, and that this motivated a larger government conspiracy against AIM activists on the Pine Ridge reservation. Others believe COINTELPRO continues and similar actions are being taken against activist groups. Caroline Woidat says that, with respect to Native Americans, COINTELPRO should be understood within a historical context in which “Native Americans have been viewed and have viewed the world themselves through the lens of conspiracy theory.” Other authors note that while some conspiracy theories related to COINTELPRO are unfounded, the issue of ongoing government surveillance and repression is real.
Story 1: Meet The Democratic Candidate For President in 2016: California Governor Jerry Brown — Balancing Budgets and Building A Presidential Campaign Chest — Achilles Heel California Created a Sanctuary State For Illegal Aliens — Save Water — Save Money — Save Illegals? — Progressive But Fiscally Responsible — Videos
Jerry Brown for President?
KQED Newsroom Segment: Jerry Brown Exclusive Interview, May 2, 2014
Brown wins historic fourth term as California’s governor
How Jerry Brown is undermining American immigration law
Gov. Jerry Brown talks about Central American immigrants
Gov. Brown to sign illegal immigrant license bill into law
Driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants – CA
California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Bill Giving Undocumented Immigrants Right To Obtain Driver’s Licenses
Jerry Brown – Limits To Government
Jerry Brown, 1975. An innovative free thinker before party politics ground him into a garden-variety statist.
CA Gov. Jerry Brown interview- media in politics (Merv Griffin Show 1981)
California Governor Jerry Brown talks with Merv about the role of the media in modern American politics. Not much has changed in 30 years, it seems. Merv Griffin had over 5000 guests appear on his show from 1963-1986. Footage from the Merv Griffin Show is available for licensing to all forms of media through Reelin’ In The Years Productions. http://www.reelinintheyears.com.
Jerry Brown 1992
Jerry Brown Announcement Video
Brown-Whitman Debate: Illegal Immigration
Governor Brown Halts Budget Negotiations
Governor Brown Update on the Budget 06.12.11
Address to the People of California: Governor Brown Discusses 2012-2013 State Budget
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Balancing the State Budget
Mexican president in California to talk trade, border issues
JERRY BROWN FOR PRESIDENT? MEETS WITH DONORS THIS WEEK
California Governor Jerry Brown, who was re-elected in a landslide earlier this month to what he says is his last term in office, will ask political donors on Monday to keep contributing, the Los Angeles Timesreports. Brown defeated his opponent, Neel Kashkari, while retaining $20 million or more in his reelection account as of mid-October. However, Brown–who says he will not run for President–is still asking for cash.
The Sacramento reception asks for donations of $5,000 for a “private reception and sit down conversation” with Brown at Mulvaney’s B&L. Capitol Advocacy, a top lobbying firm, plans to attend; the firm will reportedly bring some of its major clients, including PepsiCo, Corrections Corporation of America, T-Mobile USA Inc., WellCare Health Plans, Pacific Compensation Insurance Co., and Diageo.
The Times, which secured a copy of the invitation, reports that Brown has spent little of his reelection funds since mid-October; he had told the Times that he was thinking of using any funds left over from his campaign to support ballot measures in his new term.
The Washington Post reported in October that Brown’s campaign said it had spent over $3.3 million on ads for Propositions 1 and 2. At that point he had not run a single television ad for his campaign.
Some journalists, notably Chuck Todd of NBC News, have speculated that Brown would likely run for president. Recently, HBO’s Bill Maher said that Brown ought to do so, and condemned what he said was age discrimination. (Brown would be 78 years old in 2016.)
Neither spokesmen for Brown nor his chief fundraiser, Angie Tate, had any comment when contacted by the Times.
The Obstacles to a Jerry Brown Run in 2016
When a governor in one of the country’s largest states is reelected by landslide margins, questions about that governor’s presidential prospects arise even before the polls close. But California’s Jerry Brown, who on Tuesday was given an unprecedented fourth termby Golden State voters, will almost certainly not be a candidate for the White House in 2016. The reasons have less to do with actuarial tables than with the nature of the national Democratic primary electorate.
The most noticeable obstacle to a Brown candidacy is his age. Although he was the youngest governor in California’s history when he was first elected in 1974, at age 36, Mr. Brown is now the state’s oldest governor ever. In November 2016, he will be 78, meaning that he would conclude his first term in the Oval Office at 82. The governor is in very good health, and this advanced age would not disqualify him from the presidency, but it does appear to have made him less ambitious about national office he was in 1976 and 1980, when he campaigned for the presidency. He has already said that he intends to use the many unspent millions of dollars he raised during this year’s gubernatorial campaign to fund future state ballot initiatives. Not only can most of that money not be transferred into a presidential campaign fund, but trying to run for president while also seeking to pass ballot initiatives in California would be enormously challenging–certainly given the time required to succeed at either task.
But the bigger obstacle for Mr. Brown is that his brand of centrism has no logical place in a 2016 primary field. If a challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to emerge, it will almost certainly be a populist voice from the Democratic base. Mr. Brown’s insistence on budget cuts that frustrated his party’s legislators, his unwillingness to ban fracking, and his continued interest in revamping California’s environmental regulations make him an unlikely flag-carrier for progressive primary voters. The key to Mr. Brown’s large victory Tuesday was fashioning an agenda of sufficient appeal to the state’s business community to deprive his Republican challenger of substantive financial backing.
A benefit of not running for president, of course, is that it allows the governor to focus his full attention on his day job. That might not be the stuff of national headlines, but, at this point in his long career, that might be good enough for Jerry Brown.
Gov. Jerry Brown says 2016 Democratic nomination is Hillary Clinton’s ‘if she wants’
By Philip Rucker
SAN FRANCISCO — When Bill Clinton arrived at the 1992 Democratic National Convention as the party’s all-but-certain presidential nominee, his persistent and pesky primary opponent, former California governor Jerry Brown, refused to endorse him.Two decades later, Brown is again governor of the nation’s most-populous state. Yet in a sign that he has patched things up with the first family of Democratic politics, Brown is ready to support Hillary Rodham Clinton if she seeks the presidency in 2016.“I really believe that Hillary Clinton has the presence, the experience and the support of the vast majority of Democrats in a way that I have not seen in my lifetime,” Brown said in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post. “She has this if she wants.”http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gov-jerry-brown-says-2016-democratic-nomination-is-hillary-clintons-if-she-wants/2014/05/28/de3d0e0c-e5cc-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html
More And More People Are Not Running For President In 2016
Posted: 01/16/2014 6:25 pm EST Updated: 01/25/2014 4:01 pm EST
Against the 2016 onslaught, and our own contributions to it, let us now praise the real heroes of this period of premature frenzy — those men and women who have seen the light of presidential speculation beaming in their direction and have forthrightly declared, “You can include me out.” This week’s award for Valor In The Face Of People Wondering If You’ll Run For President goes to California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who is not running for president:
Speaking at a Tuesday news conference in Riverside, Calif., Brown scuttled speculation about his presidential prospects when a reporter asked if he planned to throw his hat in the ring for a fourth time.
“No, that’s not in the cards. Unfortunately,” Brown said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Actually, California is a lot more governable.”
Supporters of Brown — who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1976, 1980 and 1992 — had hoped the popular governor would enter the 2016 race. Brown stoked speculation by not explicitly ruling out the possibility, although in May the 75-year-old noted that “time is kind of running out on that.”
You are forgiven if you weren’t aware that “Jerry Brown 2016″ was even a thing about which people were even talking. It was an idea that had a share of anonymous supporters, but only just enough news coverage to warrant an inclusion onWikipedia’s list of potential 2016 candidates.
That page, by the way, is one of the most hilarious reflections of American politics on the Internet, because it turns out it doesn’t take much to be included. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) ended up there because a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story speculating on whether Nixon’s future included a turn in the national spotlight led to a Politico story speculating on whether Nixon might not get his turn in the national spotlight because of Hillary Clinton, which led to another St. Louis Post-Dispatch story about the aforementioned Politico story, which led to a Washington Post story … speculating on whether Nixon’s future included a turn in the national spotlight, again.
Meanwhile, outside of Missouri, you have probably never heard of Jay Nixon. But you’re probably aware that Jerry Brown, between his first and latest stint as the Golden State’s governor, ran for president a bunch of times. And so, unsurprisingly, there was always someone on hand to stoke the fires of retro chic. In July 2013, the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reported that some of Brown’s “allies” were “starting to talk up a possible 2016 presidential bid,” while another group of Brown’s associates were saying that Brown was going to be “78 [years old] by Election Day 2016,” that he “ran for statewide office only to end [California’s] budget crisis,” and that he was thus “nearly done with politics.”
California rises again with Brown, and it should come as no surprise. California brings the final destiny of our American journey, the final edge of expectation, the end and then the beginning again, the place and time of our American turning. Steve Jobs put it succinctly at the end: “The spaceship has landed.”
I asked an astute Californian about Brown’s prospects for national office. He said he will be too old in 2016. But Brown, Zen man of contemporary politics, is in a sense timeless.
Yeah … so that was a lot to absorb. The salient point is that Brown, obviously, doesn’t have the same opinion of his own timelessness. (Perhaps he finally decided to not run when he failed to regenerate into Peter Capaldi?)
Also, Tim Pawlenty is not going to run for president. (I did some digging and found out that this Pawlenty fellow was a former Republican governor of Minnesota who ran for president once before. Who knew? I guess I totally spaced.)