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Another American known wolf? Fort Lauderdale shooter known to FBI, worked for security, amid backdrop of mass drills

Another shocking active-shooter incident rocks America. This time, according to Florida’s Broward County Sheriff’s Department, thirteen people were shot, including five dead, after an apparent shooting rampage took place at Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood International Airport.

Shawn Helton

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Published with the permission of the author. First appeared on 21st Century Wire

At the moment, there is still no clear motive for the shooting attack and no evidence linking the suspect to terror. However, officials have yet to rule out the possibility of terrorism.

The timing of this shooting attack cannot be overstated, as there was a major US intelligence review over an alleged Russian hack influence on America’s 2016 election that was scheduled on the very same day…

‘KNOWN WOLF?’ – (Photo illustration 21WIRE’s Shawn Helton)

NOTE: It only took a matter of hours for the Fort Lauderdale shooter’s back story to emerge.

According to authorities, the suspected airport shooter, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, checked a declared handgun inside his luggage, later retrieving it at Fort Lauderdale Airport’s Terminal 2 baggage claim. Santiago then reportedly loaded the gun in a bathroom came out in the terminal opening fire on fellow travelers – including a series of head shots.

After the shooting spree, the suspect was reported to have calmly turned himself to the police.

According to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel,  “The shooter is in custody and unharmed,” said. “No law enforcement officers fired any shots.”

The whole series of events is strange to say the least, but the oddities didn’t stop there. 

Santiago-Ruiz’s US military background includes service in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard in 2007, according to the Department of Defense. Santiago-Ruiz was listed as a combat engineer who had been deployed to Iraq in April 2010, returning to US soil in 2011. Later in November of 2014, following a move to Alaska, he became a member of the Alaska National Guard. In August of 2016, Santiago-Ruiz was transferred to Inactive Ready Reserve.

Additionally, Santiago-Ruiz was stated to be employed by an as of yet unnamed Anchorage security company while living in Alaska.

According to the Associated Press and Miami’s local CBS News affiliate, “The Pentagon said he [Santiago-Ruiz] went AWOL several times as a specialist during a stint with the Alaska National Guard and was demoted to private first class, the Associated Press reported. He was given a general discharge, which is lower than an honorable discharge.”

Earlier reports stated that Santiago-Ruiz flew on a flight from Canada. Air Canada promptly denied that the suspected airport shooter was on any of their flights. Other US mainstream outlets later stated that he arrived on an in-bound Delta Airlines flight instead.

AIRPORT SHOOTING’ –  Esteban Santiago is in custody following a shooting at a Fort Lauderdale airport. Authorities gathered travelers on the tarmac after the incident. (Image Source: Chicago Tribune)

Interestingly, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was on the scene of the shooting, and was ‘live-tweeting’:

Another Known Wolf?

As 21 WIRE has documented over the years, many so-called shooting/terror/attacks involve individuals being monitored by security services prior to an alleged act taking place. A place where a ‘lone wolf’ graduates into the ranks of a known wolf. In fact, very often those being watched by authorities exhibit all the tell-tale signs of a patsy or an informant, working either for a law enforcement or intelligence agency. Historically, government operators have often made use of low-life criminals, and mentally disturbed individuals to fulfill various role in entrapment stings or sometimes as bonafide actors in an actual attacks.

In any case, alleged attackers and security agencies have a dicey relationship, making any link between them highly suspect in nature.

In January of 2015, a strategic security service think-tank known as The Soufan Group, reported that a larger national security threat resides with radicals who’ve had a lengthy criminal background with known ties to security agencies:

“The Soufan Group, a New York think tank, said a better term for “lone wolves” would be “known wolves“, given how many are already known to Western intelligence agencies before they strike.

“These individuals, acting alone or in small groups … have been on the radar of various agencies and organisations, highlighting the difficulty of effectively monitoring and managing people at the nexus of criminality and terrorism,” it said in a report this week…”

The Fort Lauderdale shooting story rapidly emerged out of corporate media halls looking to sell the public on the latest tragic shooting in America. The Hollywood International Airport shooting has elements of other high-profile shooting events in recent history, such as the TSA/LAX shooting, the the Tucson shootingOrlando Pulse nightclub shooting, the San Bernardino shooting attack, the Chattanooga military base shooting siege, as well as the aspects of the Aurora theater shooting and the Grand theater shooting in Lafayette and many others.

Is the Fort Lauderdale airport shooter another case of a known wolf – triggered into action?

The apparent Fort Lauderdale airport shooter, Santiago-Ruiz, who is said to be Puerto Rican was born in New Jersey (living in Alaska), and was well-known to authorities, having recently undergone a mental health evaluation after allegedly visiting an FBI office in Alaska where he claimed he was under ‘CIA mind control,’ with voices in his head telling him to join ISIS’:

“They say last November, he walked into the FBI’s office in Anchorage, Alaska, claiming that  his mind was being controlled by the CIA and that it was forcing him to join ISIS. He appeared agitated and incoherent, and made disjointed statements — and although he said he didn’t wish to hurt anyone, agents were concerned by his erratic behavior and decided to call local authorities, a senior federal law enforcement official said.

Local police took him to a local medical facility for evaluation, and the FBI closed its assessment of Santiago after conducting database reviews, interagency checks and interviews with family members, the official said.”

Shades of the Manchurian Candidate?

We’re also told that the suspect’s aunt had flagged his mentally unstable condition previously. According to USA Today:

Yet the troubling episode is now part of an emerging profile of a deeply disturbed man described by his aunt Friday as someone who had “lost his mind.”

Maria Luisa Ruiz of Union City, N.J., said her nephew, who had moved to Alaska for work as a security guard, only recently began to show signs of instability.

“Like a month ago, it was like he lost his mind,” she said “He said he saw things.”

The inclusion of Santiago-Ruiz’s alleged ‘voices’ in his head, supposedly triggered by the CIA, immediately recalls another bizarre case that was also difficult to comprehend – the Navy Yard Shooter from 2013.

Here’s a passage from a 21WIRE report discussing the apparent Navy Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis:

“Rather than get caught up in the ‘fear campaigns’ sold to us by our favorite news anchor-zombies, its important to consider another aspect of these mass shootings by making a tally of  the trigger points that media uses to manipulate public perception, as they carefully propagandize certain elements within a crisis making sure to illicit ‘the right’ reaction from every major demographic.”

Is this what we are seeing in the aftermath of the Fort Lauderdale shooting?

Heavy.com added the following details about the supposedly troubled Santiago-Ruiz:

The shooter – whose troubled behavior had already drawn the attention of the FBI, Army, and Anchorage police – arrived Friday afternoon at the busy airport on a flight from Alaska, with the gun used in the shooting properly stored in his checked baggage, NBC News reports.

One report said the shooter, who lived in Alaska, had no other luggage but the gun, which federal rules allow a person to declare at a ticket counter and check under the plane but not carry on.”

In addition to Santiago-Ruiz’s lengthy time with the US military and the National Guard, in recent years, the suspected shooter was involved in various crimes. Here’s a passage from The Daily Beast describing some of Santiago’s background:

“According to charging documents provided by the Anchorage prosecutor’s office to The Daily Beast, on January 10, 2016, Santiago verbally assaulted his then girlfriend, a 40-year old mother of one child from a previous marriage whom The Daily Beast is not naming, through a locked bathroom door, telling her to “Get the fuck out, bitch.” After he forced his way in by breaking down the door, he smacked her in the head and strangled her. By the time police arrived, Santiago had fled the scene.

Santiago was arrested days later and released on the condition that he have no contact with the victim, but in February, Anchorage police found him at his girlfriend’s residence and he was charged for violating the conditions of his release. That case is still pending.

Alaska court records show a criminal record under Santiago’s name for minor traffic infractions including operating a vehicle without insurance and a broken taillight. Records also show his landlord evicted him for non-payment of rent in February 2015.

The assault case was resolved in March when Santiago entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, an alternative to adjudication where prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges in exchange for Esteban’s completion of requirements, the details of which are unknown.”

While Anchorage municipal prosecutor Seneca Theno told The Daily Beast that previous charges against Santiago-Ruiz are unlikely to be dropped following the airport shooting – you still have to wonder what ‘requirements’ were asked of Santiago-Ruiz to get the alleged assault charges dropped from his record in the first place, given the brutal nature of them.

FOX NEWS echoes a Sun Sentinel report, “Why the gunman may have chosen South Florida was unclear. He had no clear connection to the state aside from relatives in the Naples area, a two-hour drive away, the Sun Sentinel reported.

The same FOX report adds the following about Santiago-Ruiz’s alleged lengthy mental health battle:

“Bryan Santiago said his brother never spoke to him directly about his medical issues.

“We have not talked for the past three weeks,” Bryan Santiago said. “That’s a bit unusual … I’m in shock. He was a serious person … He was a normal person.”

Mass Shooting Distraction?

Another aspect to these highly emotive and polarizing known wolf shooting events, is that usually they dominate US media coverage for several days. As other charged elements of an alleged shooter/attacker are propagandized, such as Santiago-Ruiz’s Palestinian scarf image (seen on the left) seized upon by FOX News anchors who fused Santiago-Ruiz’s allegedly ‘ISIS-like’ hand gesture with the Gaza-Israeli conflict.

The shocking scene at Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood International Airport occurred the same exact day US intelligence leaders briefed President-elect Donald Trump on so-called Russian hack allegations in the lead up to the 2016 election.

Back in September of 2016, while examining the aftermath of the New York and New Jersey bomb plot/attack, we analyzed whether a deeper social engineering agenda might have been at play – as part of a larger geopolitical drama unfolded in Syria appeared to be masked by media.

When looking deeper, we discovered other overlapping stories that coincided alongside the ‘known wolf’ NYC bomber. Here’s a passage that discussed the NYC attack that seemed to bury Western coverage regarding a vicious airstrike campaign that killed dozens of members of Syria’s army:

“You have to wonder, were the events in New York and New Jersey also a weapon of mass distraction, following a major international embarrassment for the United States both at home and abroad – the brutal airstrike campaign in Syria that killed over 70 Syrian troops?

This unlikely bombing incident just happened to also coincide with the UN General Assembly in NYC, where President Obama was delivering among other speeches, his “War on Terror” addresses to the international community. No surprise then, with the city suddenly on ‘high terror alert’ – that Obama quickly, confidently and comfortably used his center stage spotlight at the UN, shifting into ‘national security’ mode – boasting how quickly his police forces solved the case. It was almost if he was ready for events that weekend.”

Similarly, you have to consider if this new high-profile shooting event at Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood International Airport will dominate the news cycle, as the US intelligence community scrambles to prove Russian hack allegations over the next week.

On January 4th ABC News reported the following:

“The classified report requested by President Barack Obama detailing Russia’s alleged role in cyberattacks during U.S. presidential elections dating back to 2008 is now complete, and he is expected to receive the first briefing on its findings on Thursday afternoon, U.S. officials tell ABC News.

President-elect Donald Trump, who said last week he would receive his briefing on the matter on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, is scheduled to receive his briefing on Friday. Both briefings will be conducted by the heads of relevant agencies, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA.

U.S. officials denied claims from Trump that his special briefing was delayed so the U.S. intelligence community could strengthen its case against Russia. Officials instead said there may have been a scheduling disconnect or some confusion on the part of the Trump transition team.”

Interestingly, other explosive high-profile stories went to the back burner, such as the Chicago kidnapping and teen torture story – and the fallout from CNN’s Don Lemon following his egregious comments after the tragic racially motivated attack.

Media Memory: Reports of a ‘Second Shooter’ at Terminal 1

During the later hours of the US mainstream media coverage, networks like CNN were still floating the possibility of a second shooter, as reports emerged of shots fired in the adjacent terminal housing United Airlines, Terminal 1.

Interestingly, local reports also reported eye-witness accounts of a ‘second gunman’ involved in the Fort Lauderdale shooting. Here’s a passage from an ABC News affiliate discussing the reports of a second gunman at the Fort Lauderdale shooting:

“All day I’ve heard people talking about second incidences,” Catie Rutledge wrote on Instagram. “After waiting on the tarmac for hours and hunting someone down to get our bags, we are now waiting for a bus, so that we can leave the airport.”

There was panic when authorities feared there was a second gunman. Law enforcement asked travelers to seek shelter. Fear prompted many to say their final good byes to loved ones. Some frightened parents were in tears as they tried to protect their children.”

This aspect of the case seemingly disappeared from media outlets following Santiago-Ruiz’s arrest.

The phenomena of multiple shooters being immediately reported after an apparent mass shooting event was also echoed during both the Orlando nightclub shooting and the San Bernardino attack in 2015.

Later in the evening, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed that there was no second shooter – despite previous reports. The suspect was being interrogated by the FBI. This statement was in stark contrast to multiple witness statements made on national TV, placing the series of shots, or perhaps an additional series of shots and subsequent crowds fleeing in panic at Terminal 1 – that would either be instead of Terminal 2, or in addition to it.

This wasn’t just an anomaly – this was backed up by at least 2 different witnesses on CNN, perhaps more in other reports which 21WIRE has yet to collate here.

Was this a case of something that happened in Terminal 1 – either part of a drill, or another gunman – which was memory-holed by the media and DHS, or could this be we are looking at planted witnesses who got their lines wrong? This is a fair question to ask, considering we are talking about multiple witnesses stating the shots and crowds panicking in Terminals other than the official story in Terminal 2.

Here are four ‘alternative’ witnesses:

Witness 1: CNN’s coverage of the ‘Active Shooter’ festival at Fort Lauderdale Airport reveals yet another anomaly in their story. CNN reported the alleged shooter, Esteban Santiago, shot 5 people dead in the Delta Terminal 2, and yet, all the witnesses reported 4 shots fired in the United Terminal 1. When this witness, a father who flew in from Chicago, tells of the United T1 shots fired, CNN’s reporter Boris Sanchez appears to panic, possibly then receiving a feed in his ear and then essentially tells the witness ‘you are wrong, there were no shots fired in United Terminal 1.’ Was this bad reporting, or bad stage management by CNN? Watch:

Witness 2: Immediately after CNN’s Boris Sanchez mix-up with man flying in from Chicago at United Terminal 1, another CNN witness was suddenly produced, going by the name of ’Ryan Ward’, interviewed by Jim Sciutto, then comes on, using very scripted language apparently in an attempt to clean-up the inconsistent statements of the last witness. Ryan Ward describes the mayhem, people running, “luggage flying” and “people screaming, gunman coming” – even though he admits he was NOT in Delta Terminal 2 where police report the actual shooting took place. Ward claims he was in a wheel chair because of back surgery, but then claims he “got up and ran over“ to save a little girl and “I ran back over and pushed the mom into a corner and laid on top of her”. He then says that, “It does sound like it was an unsubstantiated second threat, but people certainly weren’t acting like it” – here he was mirroring the identical language used by the previous CNN reporters. Coincidence? Even more oddly, Ward claims he was flying Jet Blue, and that the, “Jet Blue staff were really great” – only problem is that Jet Blue is in Terminal 3, and not in T1 or T2. Watch:

Witness 3: Another witness, testifying multiple gunman on the scene, although the Terminal location being referenced by this 3rd witness is somewhat unclear:

Also, there is an additional media report by Intellihub of a pilot, in uniform and on-site, who also testifies about a loud commotion, with police in pursuit of a perpetrator seen in Terminal 1 – a stark contrast to the official story:

“The pilot believes that “there was another shooting” in Terminal 1 that law enforcement and the F.B.I. are likely covering up. ‘I could hear females screaming and people running away from terminal 1.’

The pilot said he feels that it was definitely “some kind of combined effort to attack” the airport.

EDITORS NOTE: If readers have any other witness reports of a ‘Second Shooter’ or shots fired in Terminal 2, please leave them below in the comment section.

Here’s an ABC News feature with Mark Lea, an apparent eye-witness (later photographed the crime scene) who came ‘face-to-face’ with Santiago-Ruiz – who also rather incredibly, managed to not get shot during the encounter…

Fort Lauderdale’s ‘Active Shooter’ Drills

Very often preceding an apparent shooting/attack there is the presence of mass casualty drills. Fort Lauderdale was no exception.

In 2015, the Sun Sentinel reported the following:

At a Fort Lauderdale cinema Wednesday, two men in camouflage gear calmly walked down the aisle and fired rifles and handguns at moviegoers.

Twenty-seven volunteers were “injured” in three theaters during the drill.

Fort Lauderdale police guarded and escorted paramedics wearing protective gear to tend to the wounded actors, even though the “shooters” weren’t captured and blank gunfire echoed elsewhere in the Riverwalk movie complex.

The agencies’ goal is to speed up paramedics’ responses during mass killings, domestic calls and other violent incidents.”

Similarly, in June of 2016, an inter-agency meeting described future protocols regarding mass drills:

“The meeting, held every quarter, is an opportunity for agencies to coordinate with one another and discuss the latest techniques in fighting domestic terror attacks.

Last month, agencies participated in an active-shooter exercise at the Fort Lauderdale Postal Facility.

In February, the group participated in Operation Heat Shield, consisting of weapons of mass destruction and an active shooting drill.

Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Rick Bradshaw of Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said these training exercises are important.”

With such a large law enforcement effort to tackle the active-shooter, you have to wonder why and how these events seem to coincide with major attacks on US soil.

Here’s a YouTube video from commentator Peekay Truth discussing aspects of this latest mass shooting tragedy in America…

Dupes, Informants and Pawns

Additionally, as we’ve mentioned before, during the aftermath of 2014’s Canadian Parliament Shooting in Ottawa, we outlined many of the primary markers used in certain terror related events globally and other mass casualty incidents often seen in America.

The shocking event, like other bizarre attacks in recent years, have often distorted public opinion, pushing the populace towards new security measures in the wake of heavily coordinated and stylized crimes.

The suspected Parliament Hill and National War Memorial shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, (Left Image: therightscoop) had the perfect ‘modus operandi’ and résumé to be an informant for either a law enforcement or intelligence agency.

According to the Globe and Mail, Zehaf-Bibeau was already designated as a “high risk traveller” by the Canadian government’s security services – who had also seized his passport. Was this the reason why the Zehaf-Bibeau snapped? Was he being targeted or being pressured into becoming an informant?

Other terror stooges and suspicious intelligence ‘informant’ cases include the following:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev (see his story here)
Buford Rogers
 (see his story here)
Jerad Miller (see his story here)
Naji Mansour (see his story here)
Quazi Mohammad Nafis (see his story here)
Mohamed Osman Mohamud (see his story here)
Timothy McVeigh (see his story here)
Salim Benghalem (see his story here)
Michael Adebolajo (see his story here)
Daba Deng (see his story here)
Elton Simpson (see his story here)
Man Haron Monis (see his story here)
Abu Hamza (see his story here)
Haroon Rashid Aswat (see his story here)
Glen Rodgers (see his story here)
Omar Mateen (see his story here)
Tashfeen Malik (see her story here)
Djamel Beghal  (see his story here)
Anjem Choudary (see his story here)
Cherif Kouachi (see his story here)
Said Kouachi (see his story here)
Amedy Coulibaly (see his story here)
Hayat Boumeddiene (see her story here)
Salah Abdeslam (see his story here)
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (see his story here)
Nidal Malik Hassan (see his story here)
Abdelhakim Dekhar  (see his story here)
Abdelhamid Abaaoud (see his story here)
Samy Amimour (see his story here)
Ismaël Omar Mostefaï (see his story here)
Mohamed Lahouij Bouhlel (see his story here)
Anis Amri (see his story here)

As we’ve mentioned here at 21WIRE before, many political leaders and media operatives bang the drums of security over so-called terror ‘sleeper cells’ hiding in a nation near you – none of them acknowledge the historical fact that they themselves have also helped to harbor, grow, foment and radicalize individuals through counter-terrorism operations for decades.

It is important to mention again, that the FBI created the counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) to influence and disrupt political factions from the inside out. Between 1956 and 1971 (including the Socialist Workers party in 1973), the FBI’s controversial program infiltrated and radicalized hundreds of left-wing and right-wing groups to control and neutralize political dissidents across America.

As we stated after the suspicious Oregon campus shooting in 2015, mass media has worked out their own formula for laying out a familiar series of polarizing political points in the aftermath of any ‘tragic’ event, as they have with many others incidents.

The Fort Lauderdale shooting appears once again, to purposefully redirect the public to look at a ready-made laundry list of items (in this case mental-health, supported by online rants on social media) about the persona of a shooter as an ironclad motive for a crime. The aftermath in the case of Fort Lauderdale is no different, as it rapidly descended into an overindulgent barrage of media speculation and theorizing.

All too often we’ve seen the ‘stage persona’ of any alleged attacker or killer being touted as hard evidence, despite the fact that even strong circumstantial evidence of any apparent crime would likely result in many hours of analysis and debate, potentially without a definitive conclusion, even if the evidence reaches a court room.

For the average person, it’s hard to differentiate from a drill or a real event, causing one to scrutinize the legitimacy of such an operation.

In recent years, the investigative tactics of various intelligence agencies have come into question, none perhaps more dubious than the Newburgh FBI sting that involved entrapping four men to participate in a fabricated event created by the bureau. Here’s a 2011 passage from The Guardian describing how an FBI informant named Shahed Hussain coerced four others into a fake terror plot:

“The “Newburgh Four” now languish in jail. Hussain does not. For Hussain was a fake. In fact, Hussain worked for the FBI as an informant trawling mosques in hope of picking up radicals.

Yet far from being active militants, the four men he attracted were impoverished individuals struggling with Newburgh’s grim epidemic of crack, drug crime and poverty. One had mental issues so severe his apartment contained bottles of his own urine. He also believed Florida was a foreign country.

Hussain offered the men huge financial inducements to carry out the plot – including $250,000 to one man – and free holidays and expensive cars.

As defence lawyers poured through the evidence, the Newburgh Four came to represent the most extreme form of a controversial FBI policy to use invented terrorist plots to lure targets. “There has been no case as egregious as this. It is unique in the incentive the government provided. A quarter million dollars?” said Professor Karen Greenberg, a terrorism expert at Fordham University.”

The whole episode seemed akin to the WTC 1993 bombing case, which involved yet another informant working alongside officials.

The Gun Control & Security Agenda

As pointed out in 21WIRE during 2015’s Oregon campus shooting, the primary focus for mass media concerning the Fort Lauderdale incident, will now be all of the hot button socio-political issues including ‘gun control-reform’ and those concerned over ‘mental illness’ background checks, along with those who constitutionally oppose such restrictive legislation.

It should be obvious by now that events like Fort Lauderdale, along with other ‘mass-shootings’, have become a sharp catalyst to usher in calls for endless new ‘mass shooting’ protocols, inter-agency ‘fusion’, ‘first-responder’ emergency medical protocols, and also for injecting more and more military terminology into civilian life – with the media playing a critical role in steering the public away from questioning any of the dubious elements surrounding any shooting event.

In a sense, the media is helping to nudge these shooting events out of the forensic sphere and into the political arena as quickly as possible, effectively closing the feedback loop of concerned citizens and those who may have been affected by an event.

The Fort Lauderdale shooting has prompted the mainstream media to feed into concerns over airport security, gun ownership and a persons mental health background. All of media’s fear-inducing drama regarding the Fort Lauderdale shooting boils down to a contentious battle over gun reform and mental health as the Obama administration comes to a close. No doubt this latest shooting will give cause to new security measures in airports across America.

Here’s another look at outgoing President Obama discussing his frustration on gun control in a ‘legacy’ interview with the BBC from 2015 – – amazingly, only a few hours before a mass shooting in Lafayette…

*UPDATE* – Broward Sheriff Scott Israel stated that deputies arrived on the scene between “60 to 70 seconds after the Fort Lauderdale shooting took place – quite an incredible response time by most law enforcement standards.

TMZ acquired footage of the Fort Lauderdale shooter in action – the video appears to display elements of staging – decide for yourself…

According to reports, “Airport officials, along with federal and local authorities, are investigating who had access to the footage and who allowed it to be taped without authorization, Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief told the Sun Sentinel.”

Stayed tuned as more details come out regarding the Fort Lauderdale shooting…

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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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“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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The conclusion of Russiagate, Part I – cold, hard reality

The full text of Attorney General William P Barr’s summary is here offered, with emphases on points for further analysis.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The conclusion of the Russiagate investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was a pivotal media watershed moment. Even at the time of this writing there is a great deal of what might be called “journalistic froth” as opinion makers and analysts jostle to make their takes on this known to the world. Passions are running very high in both the Democrat / anti-Trump camps, where the reactions range from despondency to determined rage to not swallow the gigantic red pill that the “no collusion with Russia” determination offers. In the pro-Trump camp, the mood is deserved relief, but many who support the President are also realists, and they know this conflict is not over.

Where the pivot will go and what all this means is something that will unfold, probably relatively quickly, over the next week or two. But we want to offer a starting point here from which to base further analysis. At this time, of course, there are few hard facts other than the fact that Robert Mueller III submitted his report to the US Attorney General, William Barr, who then wrote and released his own report to the public Sunday evening. We reproduce that report here in full, with some emphases added to points that we think will be relevant to forthcoming pieces on this topic.

The end of the Mueller investigation brings concerns, hopes and fears to many people, on topics such as:

  • Will President Trump now begin to normalize relations with President Putin at full speed?
  • In what direction will the Democrats pivot to continue their attacks against the President?
  • What does this finding to to the 2020 race?
  • What does this finding do to the credibility of the United States’ leadership establishment, both at home and abroad?
  • What can we learn about our nation and culture from this investigation?
  • How does a false narrative get maintained so easily for so long, and
  • What do we do, or what CAN we do to prevent this being repeated?

These questions and more will be addressed in forthcoming pieces. But for now, here is the full text of the letter written by Attorney General William Barr concerning the Russia collusion investigation.

Dear Chairman Graham, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Ranking Member Collins:
As a supplement to the notification provided on Friday, March 22, 2019, I am writing today to advise you of the principal conclusions reached by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller and to inform you about the status of my initial review of the report he has prepared.
The Special Counsel’s Report
On Friday, the Special Counsel submitted to me a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions” he has reached, as required by 28 C.F.R. § 600.8(c). This report is entitled “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.” Although my review is ongoing, I believe that it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.
The report explains that the Special Counsel and his staff thoroughly investigated allegations that members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, and others associated with it, conspired with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, or sought to obstruct the related federal investigations. In the report, the Special Counsel noted that, in completing his investigation, he employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence forensic accountants, and other professional staff. The Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.
The Special Counsel obtained a number of indictments and convictions of individuals and entities in connection with his investigation, all of which have been publicly disclosed. During the course of his investigation, the Special Counsel also referred several matters to other offices for further action. The report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public. Below, I summarize the principal conclusions set out in the Special Counsel’s report.
Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.
The Special Counsel’s report is divided into two parts. The first describes the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The report outlines the Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government in connection with those efforts. The report further explains that a primary consideration for the Special Counsel’s investigation was whether any Americans including individuals associated with the Trump campaign joined the Russian conspiracies to influence the election, which would be a federal crime. The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The Special Counsel’s investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election. As noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts, although the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian nationals and entities in connection with these activities.
The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election. But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.
Obstruction of Justice.
The report’s second part addresses a number of actions by the President most of which have been the subject of public reporting that the Special Counsel investigated as potentially raising obstruction-of-justice concerns. After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime. Over the course of the investigation, the Special Counsel’s office engaged in discussions with certain Department officials regarding many of the legal and factual matters at issue in the Special Counsel’s obstruction investigation. After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction. Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.
Status of the Department’s Review
The relevant regulations contemplate that the Special Counsel’s report will be a “confidential report” to the Attorney General. See Office of Special Counsel, 64 Fed. Reg. 37,038, 37,040-41 (July 9, 1999). As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.
Based on my discussions with the Special Counsel and my initial review, it is apparent that the report contains material that is or could be subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure which imposes restrictions on the use and disclosure of information relating to “matter[s] occurring before grand jury.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(2)(B) Rule 6(e) generally limits disclosure of certain grand jury information in a criminal investigation and prosecution. Id. Disclosure of 6(e) material beyond the strict limits set forth in the rule is a crime in certain circumstances. See, e.g. 18 U.S.C. 401(3). This restriction protects the integrity of grand jury proceedings and ensures that the unique and invaluable investigative powers of a grand jury are used strictly for their intended criminal justice function.
Given these restrictions, the schedule for processing the report depends in part on how quickly the Department can identify the 6(e) material that by law cannot be made public. I have requested the assistance of the Special Counsel in identifying all 6(e) information contained in the report as quickly as possible. Separately, I also must identify any information that could impact other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other offices. As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.
* * *
As I observed in my initial notification, the Special Counsel regulations provide that “the Attorney General may determine that public release of” notifications to your respective Committees “would be in the public interest.” 28 C.F.R. § 600.9(c). I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you.
Sincerely,
William P. Barr
Attorney General

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The consolidation of power of the global military industrial complex

Do Europeans support the notion that the countries of the EU be the nuclear war playground of the United States?

Richard Galustian

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Humanity faces two imminent existential threats: environmental catastrophe and nuclear war.

America has elected to completely ignore scientists warnings that we have 12 years to reverse an environmental disaster.

As far as nuclear obliteration, Trump announced that the US is withdrawing from the INF treaty, which eliminated short range missiles deployed in Western Europe, on Russia’s doorstep. It’s the equivalent of Russia placing nuclear missiles in Venezuela.

A provocation, which enables US supplied missiles to be launched, only a few minutes flight time to Moscow.

That, of course sharply increases the nuclear danger. Historically on both sides, attack warnings given by automated systems have often proved faulty in the past; that, if enacted upon, would have meant the end of life as we know it.

Anyone familiar with contemporary military history knows that it’s a virtual miracle that we have so far avoided nuclear war.

Politically within Europe, the attack on democracy is very clear. Unchallenged undemocratic institutions in Brussels exist that is, in the main, part of the problem of the UK BREXIT negotiations.

Why does the public readily accept wars, engineered by our morally bankrupt governments to create ‘regime change’ in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Ukraine and soon to be Venezuela followed by Nicaragua and Iran, with such a muted outcry?

That preemptive nuclear attacks are even thought of shows the insanity of Western leadership controlled by vested financial interests led by the Military/Security Industrial Complex and bankers. Those same interests created both ‘industrialised’ World Wars in the 20th Century.

Our governments do not listen to the people. When two million hit the streets of London before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it made not an iota of difference to Tony Blair’s government.

Today, people’s apathy is notably caused by conditioning’, maybe better described as we’ve been ‘disciplined’ by MSM propaganda and family’s economic necessity to focus on their income, have made us so, due to our governments mismanagement of our economies.

Example, our university students are saddled with impossible to repay debt for a reason; to keep future generations ‘disciplined’.

No one has time or dare show any dissent especially given the Orwellian ‘newspeak’ environment that is created by ‘political correctness’.

Back to the subject of Russia phobia. The Western narrative against Russia is, in the main, the below:

* that Russia tried to murder the Skripals. Let the British government, who seem to be holding the Skripals against their will, prove they are not, by letting them be interviewed by the World’s Press.

* Ukraine – For over four years, the governments of NATO and the MSM have been waging the new cold war against Russia. This began with the ‘Maidan’ protests in Kyiv, Ukraine in early 2014 that culminated in the overthrow, universally acknowledged to have been engineered by the CIA, of Ukraine’s elected president and Parliament in February 2014. Putting in power an ultra neo-Nazi government, that in particular voiced hatred against all things Russian…and Jewish. Which MSM, TV news or newspapers, says so?

* That almost 100% of Crimea’s population are glad and grateful to be part of Russia. US, UK and EU says that is untrue, which is nonsense.

The demonisation of Russia is central to the multinational corporate interests that control our governments; the bankers protecting the steeply declining US Dollar, the institutions of the EU that are really controlled by Washington, who are preparing world public opinion to accept what the United States are now gearing up for, the “defence” of Europe.

At this point let us reflect on history by quoting one of America’s most distinguished soldiers, maybe of its entire history, General Smedley D. Butler, from his book ‘War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier.’

“No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with US patents.”

It is recommended to read more about General Smedley Butler, as he was the man chosen by US bankers and particularly the Bush family in the 1930s, to be the new fascist leader of the USA by overthrowing, in a coup, the then President Roosevelt during the period of Hitler’s rise to power. A coincidence one wonders. Butler was a true patriot; he bided his time then revealed the plot to both Congress and President Roosevelt. If you doubt this, it is suggested you research the subject.

We can stop the consolidation of power of the global military/security industrial complex, its war party associates, and specifically the US, UK and EU deep state political and financial elite that no doubt exists. We must elect new leaders, it’s that simple.

To quote Noam Chomsky “….power is always illegitimate, unless it proves itself to be legitimate. So the burden of proof is always on those who claim that some authoritarian hierarchic government is legitimate. If they can’t prove it, then it should be dismantled.”

Implicit in this statement is change by either elections or revolutions.

The French people have shown us when enough is enough by their persistent resistance to their government.

Do Europeans support the notion that the countries of the EU be the nuclear war playground of the United States?

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