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Explosive new book claims CIA and Saudi Arabia conspired to keep 9/11 details secret

There remains a conspiracy of silence among high former U.S. and Saudi officials about the attacks.

The Duran

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Authored by Jeff Stein via NewsWeek.com:


It’s easier to bury uncomfortable facts than to confront them. So this September 11, the ceremonies marking the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., will simply honor the dead. In Manhattan, tourists and mourners will gather where the World Trade Center Towers once stood, lowering their heads in memory of the 2,606 who perished there. The services won’t reflect the view that the attacks might well have been prevented.

But for hundreds of families and a growing number of former FBI agents, the grief of another 9/11 ceremony will be laced with barely muted rage: There remains a conspiracy of silence among high former U.S. and Saudi officials about the attacks.

“It’s horrible. We still don’t know what happened,” said Ali Soufan, one of the lead FBI counterterrorism agents whom the CIA kept in the dark about the movements of the future Al-Qaeda hijackers. To Soufan and many other former national security officials, the unanswered questions about the events leading up to the September 11, 2001, attacks dwarf those about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, because “9/11 changed the whole world.” It not only led to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the fracturing of the Middle East and the global growth of Islamic militantism but also pushed the U.S. closer to being a virtual homeland-security police state.

“I am sad and depressed about it,” said Mark Rossini, one of two FBI agents assigned to the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, who says agency managers mysteriously blocked them from informing their headquarters about future Al-Qaeda plotters present in the United States in 2000 and again in the summer of 2001. “It is patently evident the attacks did not need to happen and there has been no justice,” he said.

The authors of a new book on 9/11 hope to refocus public attention on the cover-up. Thoroughly mining the multiple official investigations into the event, John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski find huge holes and contradictions in the official story that 9/11 was merely “a failure to connect the dots.”

Duffy, a left-leaning writer and environmental activist, and Nowosielski, a documentary filmmaker, have nowhere near the prominence of other journalists who have poked holes in the official story, in particular Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, the Pulitzer Prize–winning book that was turned into a gripping multi-part docudrama on Hulu earlier this year.

But Duffy and Nowosielski come to the story with a noteworthy credential: In 2009 they scored an astounding video interview with Richard Clarke, a White House counterterrorism adviser during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. In it, Clarke raged that top CIA officials, including director George Tenet, had withheld crucial information from him about Al-Qaeda’s plotting and movements, including the arrival in the U.S. of future hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. In The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror, the authors assemble a compelling case of a government-wide cover-up of Saudi complicity in the affair.

In 2002, Tenet swore to Congress that he wasn’t aware of the imminent threat because it came in a cable that wasn’t marked urgent—and “no one read it.” But his story was shredded five years later when Senators Ron Wyden and Kit Bond forced loose an executive summary of the CIA’s own internal investigation of 9/11, which stated that “some 50 to 60 individuals read one or more of the six Agency cables containing travel information related to these terrorists.”

Clarke went ballistic. Until then, he had trusted Tenet, a close colleague and friend, to tell the truth. In 2009, despairing at the lack of media traction on the astounding disclosure, he wrote a book about the duplicity, Your Government Failed You, which was largely ignored. So when Duffy and Nowosielski came calling, he welcomed them.

“I believed, for the longest time, that this was one or two low-level desk officers who got this [information about Hazmi and Mihdhar] and somehow didn’t realize the significance,” he told them. But “50—five oh—50 CIA officers knew this, and they included [Tenet and] all kinds of people who were regularly talking to me? Saying I’m pissed doesn’t begin to describe it.”

All these years later, it’s still unclear why the CIA would keep such crucial details about Al-Qaeda movements from the FBI. Clarke and other insiders suspect that the spy agency had a deeply compartmented plan in the works to recruit Hazmi, Mihdhar and perhaps other Al-Qaeda operatives as double agents. If the FBI discovered they were in California, the theory goes, it would have demanded their arrest. When the CIA’s recruitment ploy fizzled, Tenet and company hid the details from Clarke lest they be accused of “malfeasance and misfeasance,” he said.

It’s the only logical explanation for why the presence of Hazmi and Mihdhar was kept from him until after the attacks, Clarke said. “They told us everything—except this,” he says in the video.

Tenet and two of his counterterrorism deputies, Rich Blee and Cofer Black, issued a statement calling Clarke’s theory “reckless and profoundly wrong.” But now Clarke has company. Duffy and Nowosielski found other key former FBI counterterrorism agents and officials who have developed deep doubts about Tenet’s story. The only element they disagree on is which officials were responsible for the alleged subterfuge.

“I think if there were some conscious effort” not to tell the bureau what was going on, Dale Watson, a former FBI deputy chief of counterterrorism told them, “it was probably” carried out below Tenet, Blee and Black, by managers of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit.

But Pat D’Amuro, an even more senior former FBI counterterrorism official, told them, “There’s no doubt in my mind that [withholding the information] went up further in the agency” than those managers. “And why they didn’t send it over, to this day, I don’t know why.”

And then there’s the continuing mystery of Saudi complicity with the hijackers. Duffy and Nowosielski offer a tightly focused update on what’s been learned about Saudi support for Al-Qaeda in recent years. Back in 2004, the official 9/11 Commission said it found no evidence that the “Saudi government as an institution, or senior Saudi officials individually funded” Al-Qaeda.

A year later, the highly redacted CIA inspector general’s report cracked open another window, saying that some agency officers had “speculated” that “dissident sympathizers within the government” (i.e., religious extremists) may have supported bin Laden. Subsequent investigations have revealed that officials from the kingdom’s Islamic affairs ministry were actively helping the hijackers get settled in California.

Such information spurred several hundred families of the 9/11 attack victims to file suit against the Saudi government in federal court in New York last year, seeking unspecified monetary damages.

“Saudi intelligence has admitted that they knew who these two guys were,” Andrew Maloney, an attorney for families, told Newsweek last week. “They knew they were Al-Qaeda the day they arrived in Los Angeles. So any notion from the Saudi government saying, ‘Oh, we just help out all Saudis here’ is false. They knew. And the CIA knew.”

The kingdom has turned over some 6,800 pages of documents, “mostly in Arabic,” that Maloney’s team is in the process of translating. “There’s some interesting things in there,” he said, “and some clear gaps.” He said he’ll return to court in October to press for more documents.

He also wants to depose Saudi officials, particularly Fahad al-Thumairy, a former Los Angeles consular official and imam of a Culver City, California, mosque attended by the hijackers. In 2003, Thumairy was intercepted after he landed in Los Angeles on a flight from Germany and deported from the U.S. “because of suspected terrorist links.” But he still works for the government in Riyadh, Maloney said. “Can you believe that?”

In April, Maloney subpoenaed the FBI for documents on Thumairy and Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi spy in the U.S. who was also in contact with the hijackers. The bureau has not responded, so on September 11 he plans to file “a formal motion to compel the FBI” to produce the documents. His motion follows a sworn statement by Steven Moore, the FBI agent who headed the bureau’s investigation into the hijacking of the plane that flew into the Pentagon, charging the 9/11 Commission with misleading the public when it said it “had not found evidence” of Saudi assistance to Hazmi and Mihdhar.

“There was clearly evidence that Thumairy provided assistance to Hazmi and Mihdhar,” Moore wrote. And “based on the proof in our investigation,” he added, “Bayoumi himself was a clandestine agent and associated with radical extremists, including Thumairy.”

Moore’s statement was first reported by the Florida Bulldog, a Fort Lauderdale news site that has been investigating the hijackers’ contacts with flight schools. “To my knowledge,” Moore stated, “Thumairy has never been the subject of a genuine law enforcement interview conducted by the actual agents who investigated him.”

Maloney’s additional targets are other FBI, CIA, State Department and Treasury Department personnel and documents. “There are a lot of people, former agents—I won’t identify who or what agencies—who have talked to us,” he said, but others, especially in the CIA’s bin Laden unit, “will never talk to us or will only talk to us if they are given some kind of blanket immunity.”

Getting access to them, he said, would probably require an executive order from President Donald Trump—an unlikely outcome given his administration’s strong backing for the Saudi monarchy.

There may be public support for Maloney’s endeavors. A 2016 poll found a slight majority of Americans (54.3 percent) believe that the government is hiding something about the 9/11 attacks. Then again, a considerable number of 9/11 “truthers” embrace conspiracy theories positing that the attacks were “an inside job” by the Bush administration and/or Israel and abetted by explosives planted in one of the World Trade Center towers.

But they are right about Saudi resistance to fully disclosing its relations with the hijackers. Last year, agents of the monarchy were discovered surreptitiously funding a PR effort to derail a congressional bill permitting a 9/11 families group to sue the kingdom for damages. Last September, the family group filed a 17-page complaint with the Justice Department.

Terry Strada, a leader of the group 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, will mourn again this year, but not at the site where the towers once stood and her husband died. She plans to attend “a private service” at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling, New Jersey, which she said has “a beautiful and solemn space” dedicated to all who died in the 9/11 attacks.

But she is also full of fury at the government’s refusal to release all it knows about the run-up to the attacks. “It’s very sad that we’re still being kept in the dark about it. It’s frustrating. It angers me,” she told Newsweek. “It’s a slap in the face. They think they’re above the law and don’t have to respond to the families—and the world. It’s disgusting.”

But Strada evinces even more disdain for the Saudis. Responding to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s August 20 message “wishing Muslims around the world a blessed Eid al-Adha,” she tweeted, “Seriously???”

Strada added, “The Saudis promote & finance the most virulent hatred toward Americans than any other nation. Murdered 3,000 on Sept 11.” The “9/11 families,” she wrote, “will #NEVERFORGET. #FreeTheTruth”

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect subtitle for John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski’s new book, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror.

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Lena Jones
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Lena Jones

An article about 9/11 written by a jew who only mentions israel ONCE and in the context of ‘wacky conspiracy theorists’?! LOL! This article is cheaper than toilet paper and deserves to be seen and believed only by stinking assholes.

BobValdez
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BobValdez

Seriously, IF the KSA WAS responsible for “9/11”, why isn’t the desert country a sheet of radioactive glass? Why not? Because the KSA was NOT responsible, nor were KSA citizens for “9/11”. The false flag “attack” on the World Trade Centre was done by Mossad in cahoots with the US govt, to get the “Patriot Act” into “law”, and start the destruction of the Middle East for Isra-hell.

mlnw
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mlnw

The CIA also shut down the Military’s Able Danger Program. The multifaceted cover-up indicates something more than malfeasance, it suggests complicity – or more – in ensuring that the 9/11 attacks would take place and be blamed on Osama bin Laden and his cohorts, and provide a pretext, thin as it was, to invade Afghanistan and Iraq as a prelude to atomizing the Middle East. If anyone thinks these Saudi terrorists could by themselves have brought down the WTC towers and a wing of the Pentagon building, they are drinking KOOL-AID. This required high level, albeit compartmentalized ‘need to know’… Read more »

Herbert Dorsey
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Herbert Dorsey

The Muslim “hijackers” were merely the outermost layer of the onion of secrecy in the 9/11 attacks. They were totally unnecessary to carry out the attacks as all the planes involved were remotely piloted by Global Hawk radio control. These “hijackers” served the primary purpose of diverting attention away from the real culprits and to place blame on Osama bin Laden. The real culprits were “deep cover” elements within the intelligence agencies and militaries of Israel, the U.S. the U.K., Germany, France and Saudi Arabia, working in collusion. Osama bin Laden was a CIA asset since the 1980s when he… Read more »

Guy
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Guy

They can obfuscate the facts of the event all they want , make fake movies and books ,but the fact remains ,because of all the proper dots being connected ,it was a Mossad /CIA operation with US government complicity to boot .It will take a very brave president of the US to blow this wide open .The big question is ,does Trump fit in those shoes or is he just a court jester .And another question ,can the American public and the sheeple of the Western world accept the truth ?

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The conclusion of Russiagate, Part II – news fatigue across America

The daily barrage of Russiagate news may have been a tool to wear down the American public as the Deep State plays the long game for control.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Presently there is a media blitz on across the American news media networks. As was the case with the Russiagate investigation while it was ongoing, the conclusions have merely given rise to a rather unpleasant afterbirth in some ways as all the parties involve pivot their narratives. The conclusion of Russiagate appears to be heavily covered, yet if statistics here at The Duran are any indication, there is a good possibility that the public is absolutely fatigued over this situation.

And, perhaps, folks, that is by design.

Joseph Goebbels had many insights about the use of the media to deliver and enforce propaganda. One of his quotes runs thus:

The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.

and another:

That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one’s secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

If there has ever been a narrative that employed these two principles, it is Russiagate.

A staggering amount of attention has been lavished on this nothing-burger issue. Axios reports that an analytics company named Newswhip tallied an astounding 533,074 web articles published about Russia and President Trump and the Mueller investigation (a number which is being driven higher even now, moment by moment, ad nauseam). Newsbusters presently reports that the networks gave 2,284 minutes to the coverage of this issue, a number which seems completely inaccurate because it is much too low (38 hours at present), and we are waiting for a correction on this estimate.

Put it another way: Are you sick of Russiagate? That is because it has dominated the news for over 675 days of nearly wall-to-wall news cycles. The political junkies on both sides are still pretty jazzed up about this story – the Pro-Trump folks rejoicing over the presently ‘cleared’ status, while of course preparing for the upcoming Democrat / Deep State pivot, and the Dems in various levels of stress as they try to figure out exactly how to pivot in such a manner that they do not lose face – or pace – in continuing their efforts to rid their lives of the “Irritant-in-Chief” who now looks like he is in the best position of his entire presidency.

But a lot of people do not care. They are tired.

I hate to say it (and yes, I am speaking personally and directly), but this may be a dangerous fatigue. Here is why:

The barrage of propaganda on this issue was never predicated on any facts. It still isn’t. However, as we noted a few days ago, courtesy of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, at present, 53% of US registered voters believe that the Trump campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

That means 53% of the voting public now believes something that is totally false.

Many of these people are probably simply exhausted from the constant coverage of this allegation as well. So when the news came out Sunday night that there was no evidence of collusion and no conclusive evidence, hence, of obstruction of justice by the Trump Administration – in other words, this whole thing was a nothing burger – will this snap those 53% back into reality?

Probably not. Many of them may well be so worn down that they no longer care. Or worse, they are so worn out that they will continue to believe the things they are told that sustain the lie, despite its being called out as such.

C.S. Lewis wrote about this peculiarity of human nature, in particular in the seventh book of his Chronicles of Narnia. After a prolonged and fierce assault on the sensibilities of the Narnians with the story that Aslan, the Christ figure of this world, was in fact an angry overlord, selling the Narnians themselves into slavery, and selling the whole country out to its enemy, with the final touch being that Aslan and the devilish deity of the enemy nation were in fact one and the same, the Narnians were unable to snap back to reality when it was shown conclusively and clearly that this was in fact not the case.

The fear that was instilled from the use of false narratives persisted and blocked the animals from reality.

Lewis summarized it this way through the thoughts of Tirian, the lead character in this tale:

Tirian had never dreamed that one of the results of an Ape’s setting up as a false Aslan would be to stop people from believing in the real one. He had felt quite sure that the Dwarfs would rally to his side the moment he showed them how they had been deceived. And then next night he would have led them to Stable Hill and shown Puzzle to all the creatures and everyone would have turned against the Ape and, perhaps after a scuffle with the Calormenes, the whole thing would have been over. But now, it seemed, he could count on nothing. How many other Narnians might turn the same way as the Dwarfs?

This is part of the toll this very long propaganda campaign is very likely to take on many Americans. It takes being strongly informed and educated on facts to withstand the withering force of a narrative that never goes away. Indeed, if anything, it takes even more effort now, because the temptation of the pro-Trump side will be to retreat to a set of political talking points that, interestingly enough, validate Robert Mueller’s “integrity” when only a week ago they were attacking this as a false notion.

This is very dangerous, and even though Mr. Trump and his supporters won this battle, if they do not come at this matter in a way that shows education, and not merely the restating of platitudes and talking points that “should be more comfortable, now that we’ve won!”

The cost of Russiagate may be far higher than anyone wants it to be. And yes, speaking personally, I understand the fatigue. I am tired of this issue too. But the temptation to go silent may have already taken a lot of people so far that they will not accept the reality that has just been revealed.

Politics is a very fickle subject. Truth is extremely malleable for many politicians, and that is saying it very nicely. But this issue was not just politics. It was slander with a purpose, and that purpose is unchanged now. In fact things may even be more dangerous for the President – even risking his very life – because if the powers that are working behind the people trying to get rid of President Trump come to realize that they have no political support, they will move to more extreme measures. In fact this may have already been attempted.

We at The Duran reported a few months ago on a very strange but very compelling story that suggested that there was an attempted assassination and coup that was supposed to have taken place on January 17th of this year. It did not happen, but there was a parallel story that noted that the President may have been targeted for assassination already no fewer than twelve times.  Hopefully this is just tinfoil-hat stuff. But we have seen that this effort to be rid of President Trump is fierce and it is extremely well-supported within its group. There is no reason to think that the pressure will lighten now that this battle has been lost.

The stakes are much too high, and even this long investigation may well have been part of the weaponry of the group we sometimes refer to as the “Deep State” in their effort to reacquire power, and in their effort to continue to pursue both a domestic and geopolitical agenda that has so far shown itself to be destructive to both individuals and nations all over the world.

Speculation? Yes. Needless? We hope so. This is a terrible possibility that hopefully no reasonable person wants to consider.

Honestly, folks, we do not know. But we had to put this out there for your consideration.

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Schaeuble, Greece and the lessons learned from a failed GREXIT (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 117.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine a recent interview with the Financial Times given by Wolfgang Schäuble, where the former German Finance Minister, who was charged with finding a workable and sustainable solution to the Greek debt crisis, reveals that his plan for Greece to take a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone (in order to devalue its currency and save its economy) was met with fierce resistance from Brussels hard liners, and Angela Merkel herself.

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Via FT

“Look where we’re sitting!” says Wolfgang Schäuble, gesturing at the Berlin panorama stretching out beneath us. It is his crisp retort to those who say that Europe is a failure, condemned to a slow demise by its own internal contradictions. “Walk through the Reichstag, the graffiti left by the Red Army soldiers, the images of a destroyed Berlin. Until 1990 the Berlin Wall ran just below where we are now!”

We are in Käfer, a restaurant on the rooftop of the Reichstag. The views are indeed stupendous: Berlin Cathedral and the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz loom through the mist. Both were once in communist East Berlin, cut off from where we are now by the wall. Now they’re landmarks of a single, undivided city. “Without European integration, without this incredible story, we wouldn’t have come close to this point,” he says. “That’s the crazy thing.”

As Angela Merkel’s finance minister from 2009 to 2017, Schäuble was at the heart of efforts to steer the eurozone through a period of unprecedented turbulence. But at home he is most associated with Germany’s postwar political journey, having not only negotiated the 1990 treaty unifying East and West Germany but also campaigned successfully for the capital to move from Bonn.

For a man who has done so much to put Berlin — and the Reichstag — back on the world-historical map, it is hard to imagine a more fitting lunch venue. With its open-plan kitchen and grey formica tables edged in chrome, Käfer has a cool, functional aesthetic that is typical of the city. On the wall hangs a sketch by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who famously wrapped the Reichstag in silver fabric in 1995.

The restaurant has one other big advantage: it is easy to reach from Schäuble’s office. Now 76, he has been confined to a wheelchair since he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1990, and mobility is an issue. Aides say he tends to avoid restaurants if he can, especially at lunchtime.

As we take our places, we talk about Schäuble’s old dream — that German reunification would be a harbinger of European unity, a step on the road to a United States of Europe. That seems hopelessly out of reach in these days of Brexit, the gilets jaunes in France, Lega and the Five Star Movement in Italy.

Some blame Schäuble himself for that. He was, after all, the architect of austerity, a fiscal hawk whose policy prescriptions during the euro crisis caused untold hardship for millions of ordinary people, or so his critics say. He became a hate figure, especially in Greece. Posters in Athens in 2015 depicted him with a Hitler moustache below the words: “Wanted — for mass poverty and devastation”.

Schäuble rejects the criticism that austerity caused the rise of populism. “Higher spending doesn’t lead to greater contentment,” he says. The root cause lies in mass immigration, and the insecurities it has unleashed. “What European country doesn’t have this problem?” he asks. “Even Sweden. The poster child of openness and the willingness to help.”

But what of the accusation that he didn’t care enough about the suffering of the southern Europeans? Austerity divided the EU and spawned a real animus against Schäuble. I ask him how that makes him feel now. “Well I’m sad, because I played a part in all of that,” he says, wistfully. “And I think about how we could have done it differently.”

I glance at the menu — simple German classics with a contemporary twist. I’m drawn to the starters, such as Oldenburg duck pâté and the Müritz smoked trout. But true to his somewhat abstemious reputation, Schäuble has no interest in these and zeroes in on the entrées. He chooses Käfer’s signature veal meatballs, a Berlin classic. I go for the Arctic char and pumpkin.

Schäuble switches seamlessly back to the eurozone crisis. The original mistake was in trying to create a common currency without a “common economic, employment and social policy” for all eurozone member states. The fathers of the euro had decided that if they waited for political union to happen first they’d wait forever, he says.

Yet the prospects for greater political union are now worse than they have been in years. “The construction of the EU has proven to be questionable,” he says. “We should have taken the bigger steps towards integration earlier on, and now, because we can’t convince the member states to take them, they are unachievable.”

Greece was a particularly thorny problem. It should never have been admitted to the euro club in the first place, Schäuble says. But when its debt crisis first blew up, it should have taken a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone — an idea he first floated with Giorgos Papakonstantinou, his Greek counterpart between 2009 and 2011. “I told him you need to be able to devalue your currency, you’re not competitive,” he says. The reforms required to repair the Greek economy were going to be “hard to achieve in a democracy”. “That’s why you need to leave the euro for a certain period. But everyone said there was no chance of that.”

The idea didn’t go away, though. Schäuble pushed for a temporary “Grexit” in 2015, during another round of the debt crisis. But Merkel and the other EU heads of government nixed the idea. He now reveals he thought about resigning over the issue. “On the morning the decision was made, [Merkel] said to me: ‘You’ll carry on?’ . . . But that was one of the instances where we were very close [to my stepping down].”

It is an extraordinary revelation, one that highlights just how rocky his relationship with Merkel has been over the years. Schäuble has been at her side from the start, an éminence grise who has helped to resolve many of the periodic crises of her 13 years as chancellor. But it was never plain sailing.

“There were a few really bad conflicts where she knew too that we were on the edge and I would have gone,” he says. “I always had to weigh up whether to go along with things, even though I knew it was the wrong thing to do, as was the case with Greece, or whether I should go.” But his sense of duty prevailed. “We didn’t always agree — but I was always loyal.”

That might have been the case when he was a serving minister, but since becoming speaker of parliament in late 2017 he has increasingly distanced himself from Merkel. Last year, when she announced she would not seek re-election as leader of the Christian Democratic Union, the party that has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years, Schäuble openly backed a candidate described by the Berlin press as the “anti-Merkel”. Friedrich Merz, a millionaire corporate lawyer who is the chairman of BlackRock Germany, had once led the CDU’s parliamentary group but lost out to Merkel in a power struggle in 2002, quitting politics a few years later. He has long been seen as one of the chancellor’s fiercest conservative critics — and is a good friend of Schäuble’s.

Ultimately, in a nail-biting election last December, Merkel’s favoured candidate, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, narrowly beat Merz. The woman universally known as “AKK” is in pole position to succeed Merkel as chancellor when her fourth and final term ends in 2021.

I ask Schäuble if it’s true that he had once again waged a battle against Merkel and once again lost. “I never went to war against Ms Merkel,” he says. “Everybody says that if I’m for Merz then I’m against Merkel. Why is that so? That’s nonsense.”

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