The Intercept

Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies”

27 May 2017 - 8:04am

A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.

Internal TigerSwan communications describe the movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters. One report, dated February 27, 2017, states that since the movement “generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active, we can expect the individuals who fought for and supported it to follow a post-insurgency model after its collapse.” Drawing comparisons with post-Soviet Afghanistan, the report warns, “While we can expect to see the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora … aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements are now a proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies.”

More than 100 internal documents leaked to The Intercept by a TigerSwan contractor, as well as a set of over 1,000 documents obtained via public records requests, reveal that TigerSwan spearheaded a multifaceted private security operation characterized by sweeping and invasive surveillance of protesters.

As policing continues to be militarized and state legislatures around the country pass laws criminalizing protest, the fact that a private security firm retained by a Fortune 500 oil and gas company coordinated its efforts with local, state, and federal law enforcement to undermine the protest movement has profoundly anti-democratic implications. The leaked materials not only highlight TigerSwan’s militaristic approach to protecting its client’s interests but also the company’s profit-driven imperative to portray the nonviolent water protector movement as unpredictable and menacing enough to justify the continued need for extraordinary security measures. Energy Transfer Partners has continued to retain TigerSwan long after most of the anti-pipeline campers left North Dakota, and the most recent TigerSwan reports emphasize the threat of growing activism around other pipeline projects across the country.

The leaked documents include situation reports prepared by TigerSwan operatives in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and Texas between September 2016 and May 2017, and delivered to Energy Transfer Partners. They offer a daily snapshot of the security firm’s activities, including detailed summaries of the previous day’s surveillance targeting pipeline opponents, intelligence on upcoming protests, and information harvested from social media. The documents also provide extensive evidence of aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping, as well as infiltration of camps and activist circles.

TigerSwan did not respond to a request for comment. Energy Transfer Partners declined to comment, telling The Intercept in an email that it does not “discuss details of our security efforts.”

A screen shot taken from one of the “daily intelligence updates” developed by TigerSwan that were shared with members of law enforcement.

Photo: PowerPoint screen grab

Additional documents, obtained via public records requests, consist of communications among agents from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Justice Department, the Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well as state and local police. The “Intel Group,” as its members refer to it, closely monitored anti-Dakota Access protests in real time, scooped up information on the water protectors from social media, and shared intelligence.

Included among the documents obtained via public records requests were “daily intelligence updates” developed by TigerSwan that were shared with law enforcement officers, thus contributing to a broad public-private intelligence dragnet. In the internal situation reports, TigerSwan operatives comment frequently about their routine coordination and intelligence sharing with law enforcement. The intel group went so far as to use a live video feed from a private Dakota Access security helicopter to monitor protesters’ movements. In one report, TigerSwan discusses meeting with investigators from North Dakota’s Attorney General’s Office.

North Dakota’s Attorney General’s Office declined to comment.

TigerSwan’s internal reports and the intelligence briefings shared with law enforcement name dozens of DAPL opponents. Some of those named are well-known activists, while others have minimal public affiliation with the water protector movement. The reports’ authors often comment on camp dynamics, including protester morale and infighting, and speculate about violent or illegal actions specific individuals might take and weapons they might carry. The documents reveal the existence of a “persons of interest” list as well as other databases that included identifying information such as photographs and license plate numbers.

The situation reports also suggest that TigerSwan attempted a counterinformation campaign by creating and distributing content critical of the protests on social media.

The Intercept is publishing a first set of TigerSwan’s situation reports from September 2016, which describe the company’s initial operations. We are also publishing two additional situation reports dated October 16 and November 5, along with PowerPoint presentations shared with law enforcement that correspond to the same dates. The names of private individuals whose actions are not already in the public record, or whose authorization we did not obtain, have been redacted to protect their privacy. The Intercept will publish the remaining situation reports in the coming weeks.

In addition, The Intercept is publishing a selection of communications, obtained by public records requests, detailing coordination between a wide range of local, state, and federal agencies, which confirm that the FBI participated in core Dakota Access-related law enforcement operations starting soon after protests began last summer. Finally, we are publishing two additional documents, also in the public record, that detail TigerSwan’s role spearheading Energy Transfer Partner’s multipronged security operation.

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.

Police guard a bridge near Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation outside Cannon Ball, N.D., on Dec. 3, 2016.

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

A Public-Private Partnership

Beginning in April of last year, indigenous activists calling themselves water protectors and their allies spent months attempting to block construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota and traverses three other states. DAPL opponents were met with a heavily militarized police apparatus including local and out of state police and sheriff’s deputies, as well as Bureau of Indian Affairs police and National Guard troops. The police became notorious for their use of so-called less than lethal weapons against demonstrators, including rubber bullets, bean bag pellets, LRAD sound devices, and water cannons.

But it was the brutality of private security officers that first provoked widespread outrage concerning the pipeline project. On Labor Day weekend of 2016, Democracy Now! captured footage of pipeline security guards attacking peaceful protesters with dogs.

In the aftermath of that incident, Energy Transfer Partners turned to TigerSwan — a company with a deep background in counterterrorism operations — to oversee the work of the other security companies contracted to protect the pipeline. Other security firms working along the pipeline included Silverton, Russell Group of Texas, 10 Code LLC, Per Mar, SRC, OnPoint, and Leighton, documents show.

Based in Apex, North Carolina, TigerSwan was created by retired Army Col. James Reese during the height of the war in Iraq. Reese, a former commander in the elite Army special operations unit known as Delta, entered into the exploding private security and intelligence industry hoping to compete with Blackwater, then the most successful of the private military companies supporting U.S. war efforts in the Middle East and Afghanistan. TigerSwan has an estimated 350 employees and maintains offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, India, Latin America, and Japan.

Records from the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board show that TigerSwan has operated without a license in North Dakota for the entirety of the pipeline security operation, claiming in a communication with the board, “We are doing management and IT consulting for our client and doing no security work.” In September, the licensing board learned about the company’s position as a Dakota Access contractor and wrote a letter to its North Carolina headquarters requesting that it submit a license application.

TigerSwan then did so, but the board denied the application on December 19. After James Reese wrote a letter objecting to the decision, the security board’s executive director responded on January 10 that “one reason for the denial concerns your failure to respond to the Board’s request for information as to TigerSwan’s and James Reese’s activities within the State of North Dakota.” Neither TigerSwan nor the board responded to questions regarding the current status of the company’s license.

The leaked situation reports indicate that during the company’s first weeks working on the pipeline, TigerSwan operatives met with law enforcement in Iowa and North Dakota, including Sheriff Dean Danzeisen of Mercer County, North Dakota, who “agreed to sharing of information.” (In the report, TigerSwan misspells the sheriff’s name as “Denzinger.”) By September 13, the documents indicate, TigerSwan had placed a liaison inside the law enforcement “joint operation command” in North Dakota. The fusion of public and private intelligence operations targeting water protectors was underway.

One of TigerSwan’s lines of communication with law enforcement was via intelligence briefings that echo the company’s internal situation reports. The briefings obtained by The Intercept were sent by TigerSwan’s deputy security director Al Ornoski to a variety of recipients, including the Gmail account of Sheriff Danzeisen. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, who was regularly involved in policing the protests, also received at least one of the TigerSwan briefings.

Danzeisen did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Morton County Sheriff’s Department wrote in an email to The Intercept that the department “did maintain communication with TigerSwan security in order to understand when and where DAPL construction activities were taking place. This gave law enforcement situational awareness in order to monitor and respond to illegal protest activity.”

TigerSwan also aided prosecutors in building cases against pipeline opponents. According to an October 16 document obtained via a records request, the security team’s responsibilities included collecting “information of an evidentiary level” that would ultimately “aid in prosecution” of protesters.

A leaked report dated September 14, 2016, indicates that TigerSwan met with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation “regarding video and still photo evidence collected for prosecution.” The same document describes plans to “continue building Person of Interest (POI) folders and coordination with [law enforcement] intelligence.” TigerSwan’s situation reports also describe conversations between the company’s operatives and FBI agents on at least four occasions.

Activists on the ground were tracked by a Dakota Access helicopter that provided live video coverage to their observers in police agencies, according to an October 12 email thread that included officers from the FBI, DHS, BIA, state, and local police. In one email, National Security Intelligence Specialist Terry Van Horn of the U.S. attorney’s office acknowledges his direct access to the helicopter video feed, which was tracking protesters’ movements during a demonstration. “Watching a live feed from DAPL Helicopter, pending arrival at site(s),” he wrote. Cecily Fong, a spokesperson for law enforcement throughout the protests, acknowledged that an operations center in Bismarck had access to the feed, stating in an email to The Intercept that “the video was provided as a courtesy so we had eyes on the situation.”

Asked about the intel group, Fong replied, “The Intelligence Group was formed from virtually the beginning. It involved personnel from our [State and Local Intelligence Center], the BIA, FBI, and Justice” consisting of “around 7 people who monitored social media in particular, in this case, because that was the medium most if not all of the protestors were using.”

“I’m honored that they felt that we were a big enough threat to go to this level of intervention,” Ed Fallon, an activist mentioned several times in the TigerSwan documents, told The Intercept.

As the water protector movement expanded from North Dakota to other states, so did the surveillance. A report dated March 29, for instance, points to a meeting between TigerSwan and “the Des Moines Field Office of the FBI, with the Omaha and Sioux Falls offices joining by conference call. Also in attendance were representatives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Department of Homeland Security, Iowa Department of Emergency Services, Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Iowa Department of Wildlife. Topics covered included the current threat assessment of the pipeline, the layout of current security assets and persons of interest. The FBI seemed were [sic] very receptive to the information presented to them, and follow-up meetings with individuals will be scheduled soon.”

TigerSwan’s relationship with public police agencies was not always harmonious. The situation reports describe TigerSwan’s frustration with the amount of leeway some law enforcement gave protesters in Iowa and the company’s efforts to convince officers to use more punitive tactics.

In a situation report dated October 16, TigerSwan applauds Lee County, Iowa’s recent increase in bail, calling it “significant because this may impede protestors from risking arrest due to the high cost to be released from bail.” The document contrasts that county’s tactics to those used by others. “Calhoun, Boone and Webster county law enforcement are not supportive of DAPL Security’s mission” the report says, noting those agencies’ “reluctance to arrest or cite trespassing individuals.”

“We need to work closer with Calhoun, Boone, and Webster county [law enforcement] to ensure future protestors will at least be fined, if not arrested,” the analyst notes. “Alternatively, we could request Lee County LE speak to other counties about tactics that are working.”

Contacted for comment, recently elected Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said he hadn’t discussed TigerSwan with the previous sheriff. “As far as I knew, the protest stuff was over with, and we haven’t had any protests since,” he said. In fact, Weber hadn’t heard of the company until earlier this week, when a TigerSwan program manager named Don Felt stopped by the office. “He dropped his card off and said he wanted to say hello,” Weber said.

An image on the homepage of the TigerSwan website headlined “Security & Safety: Vulnerability Management.”

Photo: TigerSwan.com

Find, Fix, Eliminate

TigerSwan’s internal files describe its utilization of aerial surveillance, including use of helicopters and drones to photograph and monitor the pipeline opponents. The September 12 situation report notes that an operation by construction workers was “over-watched by a predator on loan to the JEJOC from Oklahoma.” The TigerSwan contractor who provided the Intercept with the situation reports said he did not believe the company ever operated a predator drone, but metadata in images he shared pointed to a camera used by a commercially available Phantom 4 drone. One of the daily intelligence updates notes plans to obtain night-vision goggles, LRADs, body armor, and FLIR (forward looking infrared) cameras.

The reports also reveal a widespread and sustained campaign of infiltration of protest camps and activist circles. Throughout the leaked documents, TigerSwan makes reference to its intelligence-gathering teams, which infiltrated protest camps and activist groups in various states. TigerSwan agents using false names and identities regularly sought to obtain the trust of protesters, which they used to gather information they reported back to their employer, according to the TigerSwan contractor.

The September documents make numerous references to Silverton personnel, who were overseen by TigerSwan, attending protests in Iowa. Silverton did not respond to a request for comment.

Covert operations are implicit in many of the other situation reports, which are filled with details that only individuals with close and consistent access to the protesters’ communities could have gathered. On a few occasions, however, the reports make that presence more explicit, for instance by referring to “sources in the camp.”

For example, the November 5 situation report describes the “exploitation of documents found at Camp 1.” Apparently, they didn’t contain much revealing material. “Of most concern,” the situation report says, “were the ‘Earth First’ magazines found on the camp. These magazines promote and provide TTP’s [tactics, techniques, and procedures] for violent activity.”

In an October 3 report, TigerSwan discusses how to use its knowledge of internal camp dynamics: “Exploitation of ongoing native versus non-native rifts, and tribal rifts between peaceful and violent elements is critical in our effort to delegitimize the anti-DAPL movement.” On February 19, TigerSwan makes explicit its plans to infiltrate a Chicago protest group. “TigerSwan collections team will make contact with event organizers to embed within the structure of the demonstration to develop a trusted agent status to be cultivated for future collection efforts,” the report notes, later repeating its intent to “covertly make contact with event organizers.”

“At every action I went to, they had their own people walking around with a video camera getting in people’s faces,” Ian Souter, a protester who was described as a “person of interest” in a TigerSwan report, told The Intercept.

Perhaps one of the most striking revelations of the documents is the level of hostility displayed by TigerSwan toward the water protectors. TigerSwan consistently describes the peaceful demonstrators using military and tactical language more appropriate for counterterrorism operations in an armed conflict zone. At times, the military language verges on parody, as when agents write of protesters “stockpiling signs” or when they discuss the “caliber” of paintball pellets. More often, however, the way TigerSwan discusses protesters as “terrorists,” their direct actions as “attacks,” and the camps as a “battlefield,” reveals how the protesters’ dissent was not only criminalized but treated as a national security threat. A March 1 report states that protesters’ “operational weakness allows TS elements to further develop and dictate the battlespace.”

In one internal report dated May 4, a TigerSwan operative describes an effort to amass digital and ground intelligence that would allow the company to “find, fix, and eliminate” threats to the pipeline — an eerie echo of “find, fix, finish,” a military term used by special forces in the U.S. government’s assassination campaign against terrorist targets.

TigerSwan pays particular attention to protesters of Middle Eastern descent. A September 22 situation report argues that “the presence of additional Palestinians in the camp, and the movement’s involvement with Islamic individuals is a dynamic that requires further examination.” The report acknowledges that “currently there is no information to suggest terrorist type tactics or operations,” but nonetheless warns that “with the current limitation on information flow out of the camp, it cannot be ruled out.”

Haithem El-Zabri, a Palestinian-American activist singled out in the reports, was shocked to hear his name mentioned in that context. “As indigenous people, Palestinians stand in solidarity with other indigenous people and their right to land, water, and sovereignty,” he told The Intercept. “To insinuate that our assumed faith is a red flag for terrorist tactics is another example of willful ignorance and the establishment’s continued attempts to criminalize nonviolent protest and justify violence against it.”

Such ethnic and religious profiling of protesters was not unusual. An October 12 email thread shared among members of the intel group provides a striking example of how TigerSwan was able to cast suspicion on specific individuals and communicate it to law enforcement officials. Cass County Sheriff’s Deputy Tonya Jahner emailed several other officers, including two FBI agents, with an overview of information evidently provided by “company intel.” The information pertained to a woman whom Jahner labeled as a “strong Shia Islamic” with a “strong female Shia following.” The woman had “made several trips overseas,” Jahner wrote.

TigerSwan agents also regularly tracked individuals’ movements across state lines.

On November 4, according to one of TigerSwan’s internal documents, a white SUV pulled up to a pipeline valve site in South Dakota. Approached by a security guard, the driver introduced himself as Gary Tomlin and informed the official that he was a freelance reporter covering the pipeline. In an interview, 63-year-old Tomlin, who covers the local school board for the Galesburg, Illinois, Register-Mail, said he had set out to travel the length of the pipeline and write a story about it as a freelancer. “I had time and the ability to do it, and I thought, well, I’ll go look at that sucker,” he said.

A situation report from that day notes, “This is the same individual identified in the SITREP a few days ago in Illinois and Iowa.” The security company, OnPoint, quickly contacted TigerSwan Intel “for an assessment of Gary Tomlin” and notified the guard in the next “sector” that Tomlin was on his way. “Movement of Spread Team 6 was conducted so as to intercept and/or observe Gary Tomlin’s movement throughout the South Dakota Sector,” the document states. “It is my belief,” the analyst adds, “that Gary Tomlin is hiding his true intentions and that he has a plethora of information to provide to the protesters. It is estimated that he will arrive in North Dakota on the evening of the 4th or morning of the 5th.”

Tomlin laughed at the notion that he was working with protesters. When he arrived at the camps in North Dakota, few people would talk openly with him. “They were highly aware of infiltrators,” he said. “I fit the profile of those security people — I’m a white old man.”

Cody Hall, a prominent native activist whose movements are tracked closely in the TigerSwan reports, told The Intercept he knew he was being followed whenever he left the camp.

“It was obvious, they were driving in trucks, SUVs, they would be right behind me, right next to me … it was like, damn, man, it’s like you’re getting an escort,” he said. “That was always the scary thing: How did they know that I was coming?”

Robert Rice hosted a series of videos critical of the pipeline protest movement without disclosing that he was working for TigerSwan. The videos, which were posted on two Facebook pages, were taken down after The Intercept reached out to the firm for comment.

Social Engagement Plan

A document dated October 17, obtained via a public records request, lays out the mission of the TigerSwan-led security team working in North Dakota: In addition to protecting the pipeline workers, machinery, and construction material, the company was also expected to “protect the reputation of DAPL.” The public relations mission quickly became a priority for the firm, documents show. As a leaked situation report from early September puts it, success would require “strategic messaging from the client that drives the message that we are the good guys, tell the real story and address the negative messaging with good counter messaging.”

On numerous occasions, TigerSwan agents stressed the need to change the public narrative established by protestors and to swing public support in favor of the pipeline. As accounts of protest repression garnered nationwide support for the NoDAPL movement, the firm’s agents painstakingly collected and analyzed media coverage, warning their client about how certain incidents might be received by the public.

“This article is only in the Huffington post, but the expansion of the tribe’s narrative outside of the Native American community media outlets is of concern,” an October 3 report notes. TigerSwan agents regularly describe protesters’ accounts of events as “propaganda.”

But TigerSwan personnel did not limit themselves to monitoring the narrative — they also tried to change it.

In a report dated September 7, TigerSwan agents discuss the need for a “Social Engagement Plan.” On September 22, they discuss the development of an information operations campaign run by the company’s North Carolina-based intel team and Robert Rice, who without disclosing his TigerSwan affiliation posed as “Allen Rice” in a series of amateurish videos in which he provided commentary critical of the protests. The videos, posted on the Facebook pages “Defend Iowa” and “Netizens for Progress and Justice,” were removed after The Intercept contacted TigerSwan, Rice, and the pages’ administrators for comment. None responded.

With the Dakota Access Pipeline construction nearing completion, TigerSwan might have found itself out of a lucrative contract. But in the months leading up to the first oil delivery through the pipeline, the company made sure to stress the continued need for security.

“Everyone must be concerned of the lone wolf,” a TigerSwan operative writes in a March 7 report. “Should we slip from that conscience, we may all be amiss. I cannot afford this in my duties, nor will We/I allow or accept this. I cannot thank everyone for enough for their support during this entire process, However, the movement continues, and We/I will not stop. That’s not in my vocabulary. We will always over-watch as the protectors what is in the best interest for ETP, as we are the guardians.”

In recent weeks, the company’s role has expanded to include the surveillance of activist networks marginally related to the pipeline, with TigerSwan agents monitoring “anti-Trump” protests from Chicago to Washington, D.C., as well as warning its client of growing dissent around other pipelines across the country.

In a March 24 report discussing the likely revival of protests as summer approaches, TigerSwan writes, “Much like Afghanistan and Iraq, the ‘Fighting Season’ will soon be here with the coming warming temperatures.”

Documents published with this story:

The post Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies” appeared first on The Intercept.

$25 Million Oil Tanker Gifted to Erdogan’s Family Is Just One of Many Revelations in the Malta Files

26 May 2017 - 6:21pm

What’s the perfect gift for a world leader who has everything? How about secretly buying a $25 million oil tanker for his family? That’s what Azeri billionaire Mübariz Mansimov did for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the increasingly authoritarian Turkish president, back in 2008. The discovery, published Friday by the Black Sea, El Mundo and other outlets, is the result of a monthslong project by the European Investigative Collaboration network.

Mansimov became a Turkish citizen two years earlier and adopted a Turkish name, Mübariz Gurbanoglu, allegedly at Erdogan’s suggestion. After the deal was struck, his business dealings in Turkey took off, including lucrative contracts with state firms.

Mansimov is also “a friend” of Donald Trump and attended his presidential inauguration. “When the 39 floors of residential and office block Trump Towers opened in Istanbul in 2009, Mansimov was the first customer — buying eight apartments, including the penthouse,” according to the Black Sea.

The deal is complex but, in a nutshell, goes like this: Mansimov purchased a ship and opened a Maltese holding company for it in 2007. In October 2008, another company registered in the Isle of Man that belonged to Erdogan’s brother-in-law and his son purchased all shares for $25 million. The next day, that firm took out a $18.4 million loan arranged by Mansimov. Normal, so far. However, documents show that Mansimov pledged to pay off the entire seven-year loan plus interest in exchange for leasing rights through 2015 (the remaining $7 million of the purchase price was paid by a close personal friend of Erdogan for reasons unknown). Mansimov’s company, which controls two-thirds of Black Sea oil shipping, extended the leasing option through 2020 for $1.2 million a year. All told, the deal amounts to a $21.2 million cash transfer from Mansimov to Erdogan’s family. Despite having supposedly sold the ship to the close friend who paid $7 million in 2011, in three instances since then, Erdogan’s brother-in-law signed documents attesting to be the “sole beneficial owner” of the tanker.

Design: Corino Dragomir

The paper trail for this tangled web of transactions begins in the Malta Files, an investigation led by the EIC, based on a leaked cache of 150,000 documents from Credence Corporate & Advisory Services, a Malta-based “provider of a full range of legal, financial and corporate services,” as well as a scraped version of the Malta Public Register of companies. In total, more than 50,000 companies are included. The project brought together 49 journalists from 13 media organizations in 16 countries, including The Intercept Brasil, L’Espresso, Le Soir, NRC, Der Spiegel, the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism / TheBlackSea.eu, Mediapart, Politiken, NewsWeek Serbia, El Mundo, Expresso, Dagens Nyheter, Malta Today, and Agência Sportlight.

Malta, a Mediterranean archipelago with less than half a million residents, boasts the lowest effective corporate tax rate in the European Union and has become a preferred destination for tax avoidance in the EU. Malta Files reporting has also exposed offshoring schemes of the Italian mafia, a Russian billionaire’s payday loan empire, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, soccer stars, and yacht-owning European oligarchs, among others.

While the international webs of interlocking companies and owners are often quite convoluted, the gist of the main scheme is easy to follow: The French corporate tax rate is 33.33 percent; in Malta, the effective rate for the overseas activities of foreign-owned companies is only 5 percent; taking advantage of the open border policies afforded to EU member states, a Parisian firm can open a subsidiary in Malta, declare profits under that subsidiary, pay 5 percent to the Maltese government, and repatriate the rest of the profits back home tax-free, legally stiffing France of any revenues. Malta gets money for nothing, the firm saves 85 percent on its tax bill, and the French taxpayers lose out on millions.

An investigation by the Malta Today newspaper estimates that the business-friendly tax policy netted the country nearly 248 million euros in revenue in 2015 and cost other nations 4.2 billion euros in lost tax income. Those figures increased more than tenfold from 2006. A study commissioned by Green MEPs in the European Parliament found that 14 billion euros in EU taxes went unpaid from 2012 to 2015.

Corporate structures available in Malta that obscure a firm’s owners can also be utilized to facilitate fraud and illegal activities, something the nation denies, but which led a German financial minister to label Malta the “Panama of Europe.”

Malta’s Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said that the Malta Files are “fake news,” adding that the reporting is “unfair and endangers the economy and jobs.” Other EU countries “want to taste our success, especially in the iGaming industry,” he said.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, responding to the reporting, said, “They tried to say that there is something illegal in our financial services, when the truth is that our financial systems are the same as when we joined the European Union. It is approved by the EU and OECD and we are compliant.”

A superyacht in The Grand Harbor in Vittoriosa, Malta.

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Brazil’s Malta Connections

Articles published by The Intercept Brasil in collaboration with Agência Sportlight found that multiple individuals implicated in Brazil’s sprawling Operation Car Wash corruption investigation have opened companies in Malta. Notably, two brothers who confessed to laundering $100 million on behalf of disgraced former Rio de Janeiro Gov. Sérgio Cabral opened two companies in Malta just months before signing plea agreements with federal prosecutors. The brothers, Marcelo and Renato Chebar, used Saint Kitts and Neves passports and did not mention the companies in their sworn testimony.

Last week, Ricardo Saud became a household name in Brazil when clandestine video recordings emerged of him delivering briefcases loaded with half a million reals ($152,000) each to representatives of Sen. Aécio Neves and President Michel Temer. Saud, a top executive at the world’s largest meat processor, JBS, opened two companies in Malta in 2010 with the son of Paraguay’s ex-president and a Brazilian real estate investor once convicted for election tampering. The three have a long history of deals in the cattle business, but this enterprise appears to be an attempt to launch an online gambling site just as it was expected that the Brazilian government would legalize the industry. The vote did not pass — a major argument against it at the time was that it would facilitate money laundering — and the site is no longer active.

A Maltese company is also at the center of an alleged influence peddling and kickback scheme related to the 3.7 billion euro sale of 22.4 percent of Brazilian firm Oi to Portugal Telecom in 2010. José Dirceu, a disgraced former top adviser to ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is being investigated by Portuguese authorities as part of an operation that landed the former Portuguese prime minister in jail.

A full list of individuals and firms with connections to Brazil who appear in the Malta Files can been seen here.

Click here to see all Malta Files articles from EIC partners (the list will continue to be updated as new stories are published).

The post $25 Million Oil Tanker Gifted to Erdogan’s Family Is Just One of Many Revelations in the Malta Files appeared first on The Intercept.

A conveniente ausência de Henrique Meirelles na delação da JBS

26 May 2017 - 11:34am

Dos nomes cogitados até aqui para suceder Michel Temer, como nome de “consenso” – ou, se preferir, com a chancela do mercado –, não apenas já disputou eleições, esteve no comando de parte importante da economia do país por quase uma década e, apesar de ostentar uma farda de tecnocrata, sempre teve ambições políticas. Ele já passou por três partidos (PSDB, PMDB e PSD) e, em sua única incursão eleitoral, mostrou força: foi eleito deputado federal por Goiás, com a maior votação no Estado. Seu nome é Henrique Meirelles.

A solução Meirelles agrada a muitos atores relevantes numa possível queda de Michel Temer: o empresariado, o setor financeiro, o PMDB, o PSDB, aqueles que empunham a bandeira do “Brasil não pode parar”. Agrada, de certa forma, até mesmo ao ex-presidente Lula – depois de comandar o Banco Central durante os oito anos de governo do petista, ainda foi alvo de lobby do ex-presidente junto a Dilma Rousseff para que ele voltasse a ocupar um cargo de relevo na área econômica.

Depois da eclosão da crise política na semana passada, Meirelles limitou-se a dizer a empresários e investidores algo que, ao menos, já serviu de alívio: mesmo num mandato-tampão ou num novo governo até 2018, ele está disposto e confortável para seguir no comando do Ministério da Fazenda, ditando os rumos da economia do país.

Num cenário de eventual estabilização econômica e política, Meirelles fica em condições de disputar o comando do país no voto direto, seguindo, 24 anos depois, o caminho de outro de seus avalistas, o ex-presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Se alguma coisa nessa linha se concretizar, Meirelles terá alguém a agradecer: Joesley Batista e outros integrantes do grupo JBS.

O nome do ministro da Fazenda passou incólume nas 41 delações narradas a procuradores pelo alto escalão da JBS. A única exceção é a conversa que Joesley gravou com o presidente Michel Temer, no porão do Palácio do Jaburu, na noite de 7 de março. Naquilo que é possível discernir do áudio de péssima qualidade, Joesley relata intimidade e acesso fácil a Henrique Meirelles. Temer não se mostra surpreso. Mais que isso, o empresário conta para o presidente da República sobre suas agruras na tentativa de emplacar nomes de interesse do grupo J&F em postos-chave de órgãos de controle da atividade econômica.

Temer, em um de seus potenciais crimes praticados naqueles 30 minutos de conversa e agora investigados pela Procuradoria-Geral da República, diz para Joesley que, se Meirelles ficasse resistente aos pleitos, poderia usar seu nome e dizer ao ministro que ele, Temer, dera aval para que os pedidos da JBS e outras empresas do grupo J&F fossem considerados.

Batista – É só isso que eu queria, ter esse alinhamento. Pra gente não ficar e pra ele perceber que nós temos

Temer – (Inaudível)

Batista – Uhum, uhum. Quando eu digo de ir mais firme no Henrique é isso, é falar “Henrique, você vai levar, vai fazer isso? Então tá bom”. Porque aí ele vem, então pronto, é esse alinhamento só que eu queria ter.

Temer – Pode fazer isso.

A origem dessa proximidade entre Joesley e Henrique Meirelles vem de 2012. Apesar de toda essa relação de mais de cinco anos com o ministro da Fazenda, que poderia fazer brilhar os olhos de procuradores interessados em limpar a administração pública, ela sequer é questionada pelos membros do Ministério Público que tomaram os depoimentos de Joesley.

Em uma semana, Meirelles respondia apenas a Joesley e demais integrantes da família Batista. Na semana seguinte, seu chefe passou a ser Michel Temer.

No início de 2012, o dono da JBS convenceu o homem que presidiu o Banco Central ao longo de todos os oito anos de governo Lula a assumir o cargo de presidente do conselho consultivo do grupo J&F – a cabeça de um império que se estende do processamento de carnes até materiais de limpeza.

Em entrevista à revista Exame na época, Joesley Batista tratou de explicar que o posto de Meirelles em sua empresa estava longe de ser o de rainha da Inglaterra. “O Meirelles não vai ser apenas um consultor. Vai cobrar resultados dos executivos e traçar estratégias para a expansão do negócio.”

Dito e feito. Meirelles comandou o crescimento da companhia ao longo dos quatro anos seguintes. Banqueiro de origem, em 2016 assumiu a presidência do Banco Original, também do grupo J&F, com a ousada promessa de transformar a instituição no primeiro banco brasileiro 100% digital.

Não teve tempo de cumprir a promessa porque, em maio de 2016, cedeu às investidas de Michel Temer e aceitou retornar ao governo federal – desta vez para assumir o Ministério da Fazenda em meio à maior crise econômica da história do país.

Em uma semana, Meirelles respondia apenas a Joesley e demais integrantes da família Batista. Na semana seguinte, seu chefe passou a ser Michel Temer. As menções a Meirelles não escapariam, evidentemente, de uma conversa entre os dois patrões do banqueiro.

Uma leitura que se poderia fazer dessa conversa é que o atual ministro da Fazenda seria incorruptível. De fato, não existem evidências de que Meirelles tenha recebido propina. Mas isso também não foi investigado com profundidade pelo Ministério Público. Convém lembrar que, se a desconfiança sobre o governo do presidente Michel Temer provocou um curto-circuito financeiro na Bolsa de Valores, imagine o que poderia acontecer se Meirelles, o ponto de sustentação da parca confiança do empresariado na retomada econômica, também constasse como delatado.

Ou Joesley mente ao dizer que tem falado com Meirelles, ou a atribulada agenda de compromissos oficiais de Henrique Meirelles não é transparente.

Essa imagem de distanciamento pode ser reforçada pelo fato de que, oficialmente, não existe registro, desde que assumiu o Ministério da Fazenda, de nem um único encontro entre Henrique Meirelles e Joesley ou com quaisquer outros representantes de uma das maiores empresas do Brasil ou do grupo J&F. A rigor, a única vez que um representante da JBS pisou no Ministério da Fazenda durante o governo Temer foi, conforme os registros oficiais, disponíveis ao público, em 20 de outubro de 2016, quando um integrante do terceiro escalão do governo, o subsecretário de Crédito e Garantias às Exportações, Guilherme Laux, recebeu “representantes da JBS”.

Mas a conversa com Temer indica algo bem diferente.

O já histórico diálogo traz uma confirmação do trânsito de Joesley junto ao ministro da Fazenda e dos contatos que mantinha com Henrique Meirelles, a quem se refere como “Henrique”. O empresário diz ao presidente que “tem uma relação ótima comigo” e que “já andei falando com ele alguns assuntos”, dando a entender que isso havia acontecido recentemente.

Isso já é indicativo de que, ou Joesley mente ao dizer que tem falado com Meirelles, ou a atribulada agenda de compromissos oficiais de Henrique Meirelles não é transparente. Se seguiu o exemplo de Michel Temer, que recebeu Joesley Batista em sua residência oficial tarde da noite e ainda fez questão de orientá-lo a não se identificar na guarita do Palácio do Jaburu, não é implausível que Meirelles possa ter feito o mesmo.

Entre as defesas de Temer no caso, está a afirmação de que Joesley não conseguiu o que queria junto a Meirelles e ao governo. O diálogo entre Temer e o empresário indica que o presidente do Cade (Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica), que, segundo Joesley, deveria ser um “ponta firme”, já tinha sido trocado em janeiro deste ano. Mas, na verdade, o novo presidente do órgão somente foi indicado pelo presidente Temer em 20 de abril, cinco semanas após a conversa entre os dois, junto com a indicação de mais um nome para o conselho. Não há evidências de que esses novos integrantes do Cade, que ainda serão sabatinados, sejam “abençoados” pela JBS.

Uma outra mudança importante pleiteada por Joesley a Meirelles e a Temer, e ainda em aberto, é no comando da CVM, órgão responsável por coibir fraudes na bolsa de valores. O atual presidente do órgão está no cargo desde 2012. Seu mandato termina em julho deste ano.

Banqueiro político

A ausência de perguntas sobre Meirelles nos depoimentos prestados por Joesley e outros integrantes da JBS aos procuradores da República chama a atenção. Em parte porque o ministro é nominalmente citado no áudio mais importante da delação – a conversa entre Joesley e Temer – como alguém que estaria em vias de ser corrompido para usar seu cargo em defesa de interesses do grupo J&F. Meirelles não está em nenhum dos anexos da delação. Também não foi alvo, ao que se sabe, de nenhuma gravação do empresário, nem antes nem depois do início da ação controlada.

Complementarmente, está o fato de que o ministro, embora muito respeitado pelo setor financeiro, está longe também de ser simplesmente um “nome técnico”. Ele sempre teve aspirações políticas clássicas, e circulou com frequência em meio a um universo em que a regra é caixa dois, como as delações da JBS e da Odebrecht deixaram claro.

Em 2002, foi eleito o deputado federal mais votado por Goiás, pelo PSDB. Meirelles sequer exerceu o mandato legislativo, no entanto. Em janeiro de 2003, já tinha na mão as chaves do Banco Central, dando respaldo ao então presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva junto a um desconfiado setor financeiro.

Em 2010, com a era Lula chegando ao fim, Meirelles se filiou ao PMDB e cogitou concorrer ao governo de Goiás, onde fatalmente iria se expor à indústria do caixa dois – alimentada por empresas como a JBS. Acabou seguindo à frente do Banco Central. Anos depois, já como presidente do conselho da J&F, voltou a trocar de partido. Assinou a ficha de filiação do PSD de Gilberto Kassab (que, segundo a JBS, recebeu durante cerca de dois anos, um “mensalinho” de R$ 350 mil). Disputaria uma vaga no Senado, mas, novamente, acabou desistindo e optou por seguir na vida privada.

Agora, no ocaso da gestão Temer, ele aparece como nome preferido do mercado para, na eventualidade de uma eleição indireta, surgir como consenso para assumir o comando do país ou, ao menos, como ele mesmo já disse a investidores e empresários, permanecer à frente do Ministério da Fazenda.

Ao preservar Meirelles, o grupo J&F mantém potencialmente aberto um canal de diálogo na hipótese de Michel Temer deixar o governo. Figuras como ele e o ex-presidente da Câmara Eduardo Cunha provavelmente nunca mais comprarão um bife da Friboi, mas Meirelles não teria muito do que reclamar. A delação de Joesley Batista, ao preservá-lo, pode elevá-lo de patamar no cenário político brasileiro.

Mantega

Se o material das delações não traz mais detalhes sobre a relação entre a JBS e o atual Ministério da Fazenda, de Henrique Meirelles, o mesmo não pode ser dito sobre a relação da empresa com a pasta nos governos anteriores, de Lula e Dilma, sob o controle do ex-ministro Guido Mantega.

Ex-ministro Guido Mantega.

Foto: AFP/Getty Images

Conforme o Termo de Colaboração de Joesley Batista ao Ministério Público Federal, a partir de 2004 a JBS passou a pagar propina a um intermediário de Mantega, Victor Sandri, para obter grandes financiamentos. Na época, Mantega ainda era Ministro do Planejamento – ao qual o BNDES é vinculado. Ao assumir a Fazenda, o esquema de corrupção adquiriu proporções ainda maiores.

Joesley Batista cita financiamento do BNDES de US$ 80 milhões, em 2005, para a JBS; US$ 580 milhões em 2007; US$ 500 milhões em 2008; US$ 2 bilhões por aquisição de debêntures, em 2009; e US$ 2 bilhões em favor da empresa Eldorado, em 2011.

Joesley conta que pagava uma porcentagem do valor dos financiamentos como propina, depositada em contas no exterior destinadas a Lula e Dilma. Em 2009, passou a negociar as tratativas diretamente com o então ministro Guido Mantega, com quem tinha contato frequente – a exemplo de Meirelles, raramente registrado em agenda oficial.

Os homens do presidente

Maiores aliados de Michel Temer, os ministros da Casa Civil, Eliseu Padilha, e da Secretaria-Geral da Presidência, Moreira Franco, também não são alvos das delações da JBS. Ambos os ministros são investigados pelo Ministério Público Federal na Lava Jato, suspeitos de cobrarem propina da Odebrecht para o PMDB.

Conforme os delatores da Odebrecht, Eliseu Padilha era importante nas tratativas criminosas com a empreiteira e participou de negociações nos governo de Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Lula e Dilma – nos quais abocanhou ministérios – tendo arrecadado R$ 11,5 milhões em propina.

Moreira Franco, também conforme os delatores, cometeu crime de corrupção ao favorecer a empreiteira por meio de edital de concessões aeroportuárias, na época em que comandava a Secretaria de Aviação Civil, tendo recebido em troca R$ 4 milhões em propina.

Ambos os ministros, que possuem foro privilegiado em função do cargo, são os maiores defensores da permanência de Michel Temer na Presidência, e divulgaram vídeos com mensagens alinhadas à de Temer ao destacar melhorias na economia e enfatizar que “o Brasil não pode parar”.

Ao ficarem preservados da delação da Odebrecht, poderiam seguir, num governo tampão, atuando como articuladores políticos de um eventual novo governo no Congresso – especialmente Eliseu Padilha, que assumiu toda a condução política da reforma da Previdência.

A falta de informações a respeito da relação entre Eliseu Padilha e a JBS é questionável, levando em consideração que o ministro é criador de gado e foi fornecedor da empresa recentemente. Conforme reportagens publicadas na imprensa de Mato Grosso em março deste ano, a JBS teria desrespeitado um Termo de Ajustamento de Conduta (TAC) e comprado 240 cabeças de gado da Fazenda Cachoeira, da qual Padilha é um dos sócios e que está embargada por crime ambiental desde o ano passado.

The post A conveniente ausência de Henrique Meirelles na delação da JBS appeared first on The Intercept.

In Montana Race, Rob Quist Had To Fight Off Both the Republicans and the GOP-Aligned Local Media

25 May 2017 - 11:30pm

In a surprisingly competitive race in a state that went heavily for Donald Trump, Republican candidate Greg Gianforte looks poised to eke out a win over his Democratic opponent Rob Quist, with Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks pulling in some six percent.

With roughly a third of the vote counted, Gianforte is leading Quist by five points. 

Quist had to fight off not just and ambivalent national Democratic Party and millions of dollars in attacks from the GOP, but also a local media that was aligned with them.

Earlier this month, a trio of Montana’s largest newspapers — The Missoulian, the Helena Independent Record, and the Billings Gazette — all endorsed Gianforte. And a string of local TV stations recently purchased by the arch-conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group offered some unusual coverage of the explosive story of Gianforte’s famous Wednesday night assault of a reporter.

The papers all share a single owner, the Iowa-based Lee Enterprises, whose board is stacked with Republican donors, and all three were dropped on the same day, May 14, as Republicans began to panic that the race might genuinely be in play. All three endorsements made similar arguments — deep reservations about his more extreme ideological positions, such as his rejection of evolution, coupled with optimism that he will set those bizarre views aside and do right by Montana in Washington.

The Lee board includes a number of Republican donors and other conservatives. The enterprise owns two other local newspapers in the state as well; neither explicitly endorsed, though they run copy from their sister publications.

Nancy Donovan, a founding partner of the Circle Financial Group, has been on the Lee Enterprises board since 2003. She gave $1,000 to support former Republican House Leader’s John Boehner’s re-election in 2010, and $2,400 to former Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk’s campaign.

Gregory P. Schermer, who spent 27 years with Lee before retiring and remains a member of the board, donated to the presidential bids of John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Marco Rubio. Herb Moloney, who is a Lead Director on the board, was previously a publisher of the conservative Washington Examiner.

In addition to the endorsements, the three papers focused their reporting heavily on Quist’s debt and financial woes.

On the Wednesday night before the election, a reporter for the Guardian, which is headquartered in London, Ben Jacobs, was interviewing Gianforte about his evolving position on Trump’s health care plan when the Republican candidate slammed him to the ground, according to Jacobs, backed up by audio of the encounter. The Billings Gazette led its story: “A foreign correspondent from the Guardian has accused GOP U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte of assaulting him during an interview.”

Eventually, all three papers revoked their endorsements of Gianforte but did not ask voters to back Quist or Wicks.

But it wasn’t just Lee Enterprises that proved a headache for Quist.

In April, Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative local news operator, bought three NBC stations in Montana. The stations’ coverage of the assault was deeply generous to Gianforte on Wednesday night. “Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin announced Wednesday evening that he is investigating an alleged altercation between Special Congressional Election candidate Greg Gianforte and a reporter from The Guardian,” the networks reported on their collective website. “Gootkin also said there is no evidence of a video to verify the incident as previously reported by other news outlets. NBC Montana takes pride in reporting only verifiable facts from independent reliable sources, officials and documents, regardless of what is reported by other media outlets. The only verifiable facts are what is being stated by the Gallatin County sheriff at this time,” the networks wrote.

A New York Magazine article published late Thursday reports that Julie Weindel, the news director for KECI, one of the NBC stations, refused to cover the audio of the Gianforte-Jacobs encounter. The source claims Weindel argued that “The person that tweeted [Jacobs] and was allegedly body slammed is a reporter for a politically biased publication.”

“There is a pretty long history of papers breaking toward business interests in this state,” said Lee Banville, an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Montana. “Endorsements came from publishers and they often skewed pro-business. So, the fact that the papers editorialized that way is not too shocking.”

Last week, Chris Rush, the publisher of The World, a local paper in Oregon owned by Lee Enterprises, stepped down from his job, and offered a blunt assessment in his goodbye column.

The industry’s economic fortunes have changed for the worse since the ‘great recession’ of 2008. Corporate ownership by publicly-traded companies like Gannett, Gatehouse, McClatchy and Lee Enterprises (which owns this newspaper) has become the norm. Independent and family-owned newspapers with deep roots in their local communities are disappearing from the landscape.

At the same time, I have watched the autonomy of the local newspaper being eroded day by day and replaced with central planning from remote corporate offices. More and more decisions about your local newspaper — from its national news and feature content to how much you pay for your subscription — are being determined in boardrooms far away.

The column was picked up by a former reporter running a blog in Montana. He thought he noticed something familiar.

Top photo: The three candidates, Republican Greg Gianforte, from left, Democrat Rob Quist, and Libertarian Mark Wicks vying to fill Montana’s only congressional seat await the start of the only televised debate ahead of the May 25 special election, on April 29, 2017, in Great Falls, Mont.

The post In Montana Race, Rob Quist Had To Fight Off Both the Republicans and the GOP-Aligned Local Media appeared first on The Intercept.

Russia Is On TV, But Health Care Was The Central Issue In Montana’s Election

25 May 2017 - 10:43pm

When the now-famous Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs approached the now-infamous Greg Gianforte on Wednesday night, he had a specific question he wanted to pose to the Republican candidate for Montana’s open House seat. It was about health care.

Jacobs had been following the race closely, and knew that Democrat Rob Quist, in the race’s final stretch, put health care at the center of his closing argument.

In March, early in the campaign, the Billings Gazette set tone for the race with a close look at Quist’s troubled finances over the years. Montanans may have assumed Quist, a legendary local musician and a rancher, was well off, but his music career never brought him that kind of money. He had been the opening act to the Grateful Dead many times — but never the Grateful Dead.

He told the Gazette that gall bladder surgery gone wrong had derailed his music career and set in motion the string of financial setbacks. The day before the Gazette story ran, House Republicans in Washington had decided to pull their repeal-and-replace bill from the floor, aware they didn’t have the votes to pass it. The problem wasn’t just that support was anemic in Congress. The bill had the backing of just 17 percent of Americans, and GOP leadership appeared happy to move on. “Sorry that didn’t work out,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in his best effort to pretend he was mourning the demise of the politically toxic legislation.

But a klatch of House Republicans insisted on bringing the thing back to life. And in Montana, Gianforte decided it would be a wise move to attack Quist on health care. The conservative outlets PJ Media and the Washington Free Beacon dug into a lawsuit Quist filed after the botched surgery and dug out an unusual nugget they saw fit to share with the world: Quist had genital herpes.

The Republican National Committee promptly forwarded the breaking news around to national reporters. On what possible ethical grounds could a journalist — or anyone, for that matter — decide that publicizing (in the headline, no less) a person’s genital herpes is an acceptable thing to do? Let PJ Media explain:

“Normally, medical records should be kept private. But given Quist’s history of default on debt and taxes, and his use of the 1992 surgery to excuse it, the case is a legitimate issue, especially as the candidate slams health care as a major issue.”

Early in his red-state race, Quist’s campaign strategy was dominated by ads showing him firing off a weapon at a television. But in the wake of the attacks on his gallbladder-surgery-related debts, Quist decided to lean into the issue of pre-existing conditions. That’s when the race got real. “Russia is on TV all day long and it’s what people in Washington are hyperventilating about, but healthcare is what’s on people’s minds and what they care about, because it’s personal,” said a Democratic source connected to the Quist campaign. “The outside spending was 10-1 on the Republican side, and as soon as the race turned to healthcare — and Quist owned that — that’s when the race started to tighten.”

This wasn’t a race that was supposed to be close. While Democrats have managed to win at the statewide level in Senate and gubernatorial elections, the lone House seat has proven elusive for two decades. Ryan Zinke won reelection in 2016 by 16 points, with Trump carrying the state by 20 points — and with Libertarian Gary Johnson picking up another 5.6. Just 35 percent of the state voted for Hillary Clinton. A close race spells trouble for Republicans in 2018. “A 4-8 point win for Gianforte would fall somewhere between a pretty good/very good political environment for Dems,” offered the forecasters at FiveThirtyEight.

Quist’s closing ad focused on the issue, noting that more than half of Montanans have pre-existing conditions. The weekend before the election, he crisscrossed the state with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with both Sanders and Quist telling voters that health care is a right, not a privilege, advocating for Medicare for All. An ad from the super PAC tied to House Democrats ran one attacking Gianforte on his waffling stance.

The Republicans Party couldn’t have chosen a worse man to make its case. Gianforte, a New Jersey businessman, had moved to Montana to expand his firm, which made software making it easier for U.S. companies to offshore jobs.

Worth more than $300 million, according to his campaign disclosures, he was never clear where he stood on the issue of health insurance. He said publicly that he was against the House repeal-and-replace bill, but after the House passed it, he told a conference call full of lobbyists he was “thankful” it had gone through. The bill would have saved him hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes per year — enough in a year to solve Quist’s financial woes for the rest of his life.

That health care could move votes in this race — even if not enough to swing it — wouldn’t surprise Geoff Garin at Hart Research Associates. His firm recently finished a national survey, which was provided to The Intercept, showing that health care is now voters top concern — with 55 percent of independents citing it as the most important priority. Overall, it outpaces the second-place finisher, the economy, by 21 points.

 

On Wednesday afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office released its report saying that more than 20 million people would lose insurance if the GOP plan were enacted, and premiums would soar for older people. Gianforte had been declining to state a firm position, citing the lack of a CBO score.

Gianforte was at his campaign headquarters, chit-chatting with a crew from Fox News that would soon be doing an interview for Bret Baier’s show. Jacobs, the Guardian reporter, spotted him, and approached with a recorder. He said he wanted to ask about “The CBO score, because, you know, you were waiting to make your decision about health care until you saw the bill and it just came out…”

Here’s the rest of the encounter, per the audio:

Gianforte: Yeah, we’ll talk to you about that later.

Jacobs: Yeah, but there’s not going to be time. I’m just curious—

Gianforte: Okay, speak with Shane, please.

[bedlam]

Gianforte: I’m sick and tired of you guys!

Jacobs: Jesus!

Gianforte: The last guy that came in here, you did the same thing! Get the hell out of here!

Jacobs: Jesus!

Gianforte: Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing! You with The Guardian?

Jacobs: Yes! And you just broke my glasses.

Gianforte: The last guy did the same damn thing.

Jacobs: You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.

Gianforte: Get the hell out of here.

Jacobs: You’d like me to get the hell out of here, I’d also like to call the police. Can I get you guys’ names?

The guys whose names he asked for stayed silent in the moment, they later said. But the Fox News crew told their story to the police.

Top photo: Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist looks on during a gathering with supporters at Darkhorse Hall and Wine Snug on May 22, 2017 in Great Falls, Montana.

The post Russia Is On TV, But Health Care Was The Central Issue In Montana’s Election appeared first on The Intercept.

Caos generalizado transforma escândalos em notícias de pé de página

25 May 2017 - 5:16pm

“Tá difícil competir”, tuitou o pessoal da série americana House of Cards, aquela em que um presidente golpista faz de tudo para se manter no poder, inclusive matar um ou outro opositor. Pois eles têm razão, a coisa empenou de vez, e não há ficção que dê conta dos nossos acontecimentos políticos recentes. Mesmo porque, algo muito caro à indústria do entretenimento se perdeu em Brasília: a verossimilhança. Um roteiro que narrasse os fatos políticos recentes dificilmente iria adiante. “Um tanto forçado, não?”, diria qualquer produtor de respeito, antes de jogar o calhamaço de duas mil páginas no lixo.

Nos últimos dias vimos, por exemplo, o (ainda) senador Aécio Neves fazer beicinho em vídeo, pagando de pobre injustiçado depois de pedir R$ 2 milhões de propina para pagar advogados. Vimos os bilionários  Joesley e Wesley Batista, darem a volta em uma nação e partirem felizes com sua fortuna para os EUA, levando a reboque um iate de R$ 20 milhões (curiosamente o mesmo valor que haviam pago pela aprovação de uma lei). Vimos formadores de opinião de esquerda saírem em defesa de Reinaldo Azevedo, um dos mais reacionários e virulentos comentaristas político do país, que teve conversas ao telefone tornadas públicas indevidamente. Vimos, por fim, uma figura de linguagem se tornar realidade: Brasília em chamas.

Ou, melhor dizendo, e o que deixou de ser tão absurdo?

Seria possível passar semanas, meses a fio, elencando os absurdos da política atual. Mas não é preciso, os jornais estão aí pra isso. Agora, e o que não é tão absurdo? Ou, melhor dizendo, e o que deixou de ser tão absurdo? Os assuntos de relevância que a imprensa deixou de cobrir para correr em zigue-zague, apagando um incêndio depois do outro? Eles têm alguma chance diante de manchetes como “Brasília em chamas, exército nas ruas”?

Uma breve folheadas nos jornais mostra que não. Notícias sérias e importantes, que seriam manchete em qualquer país minimamente civilizado (não, os EUA de Trump não entram na conta), têm sido relegadas aos pés de página de edições que esfriam antes de chegarem às bancas.

Na busca por exemplos, seria interessante partirmos do centro do poder político. O ex…, perdão, o presidente Michel Temer recentemente foi pego em conversa comprometedora que poderia muito bem motivar um pedido de impeachment. “Ah, mas o Joesley de novo?”, protestará o leitor impaciente. Não. Soa absurdo, mas Conde Temer foi flagrado em outra conversa pra lá de suspeita com Rodrigo Rocha Loures (sim, o homem da mala). Por conta disso, o procurador-geral da República, Rodrigo Janot, estuda pedir a abertura de inquérito, mais um, para investigar a conduta do mandatário.

Na conversa, Conde Temer passava a seu cupincha informações sobre um decreto que assinaria dali a seis dias, aumentando de 35 para 70 anos o tempo das concessões no porto de Santos. “Aquela coisa dos 70 anos lá para todo mundo parece que está acertado aquilo lá”, disse.

Rocha Lourdes recebeu a informação privilegiada, desligou, e, minutos depois bateu um fio para um empresário do setor, um claro beneficiário da medida. “É isso aí”, festejou do outro lado da linha Ricardo Conrado Mesquita, diretor da Rodrimar, “você é o pai da criança”, disse a Loures.

O caso é pra lá de sério. Mais ainda porque o presidente já tinha sido investigado pela hipótese de ter recebido R$ 640 mil de propina por negociatas no mesmo porto de Santos. Fossem em tempos normais, o busílis iria direto para as manchetes e haveria um enxame de repórteres debruçados sobre ele, escarafunchando documentos, pressionando autoridades por mais informações. Nos dias de hoje? Não ganhou nem chamada na capa dos três principais jornais do país.

Com a ausência de antagonistas, as coisas fluíram como nunca. Foram sete medidas provisórias aprovadas num piscar de olhos.

O principal problema diante dessa constatação é que políticos são como crianças pequenas: quando se reúnem sem supervisão de um responsável acabam esfregando o conteúdo das fraldas nas paredes. Ontem, por exemplo, quando a capital federal passou a arder em chamas, o presidente achou por bem colocar o exército na rua. O clima de 1964 arrepiou a nuca de políticos da oposição e, como ato de protesto, eles deixaram o plenário da Câmara.

E os governistas fizeram o quê? Suspenderam os trabalhos? Passaram a discutir saídas para o escalonamento da crise? Nada disso. Resolveram simplesmente aprovar leis. Com a ausência de antagonistas, as coisas fluíram como nunca. Foram sete medidas provisórias aprovadas num piscar de olhos.

Entre elas, como não podia deixar de ser, estava uma que autorizava reajustes salariais para servidores públicos. Mas havia assuntos dos mais díspares. De regras para o desconto ao consumidor à carência para concessão de auxílio-doença, passando pela regularização fundiária na Amazônia.

Aliás, sim, Amazônia. A região já não é das mais queridas entre os editores da imprensa tradicional, mas, ao menos essa semana, ofereceu motivos de sobra para ganhar destaque no noticiário. Na terça (23), o Senado aprovou uma medida provisória que, como se nada fosse, diminuiu a proteção ambiental de vastas áreas, colocando em risco 320 mil hectares de floresta, ou o equivalente a duas vezes a capital paulista. Pouco se falou no assunto, mas, vá lá, o texto depende de sanção presidencial e quem sabe o presidente Temer, que indicou o ruralista Osmar Serraglio para cuidar de questões indígenas, não tenha um súbito ataque de sensatez e barre o disparate.

Há uma pequena guerra civil instalada em um Estado brasileiro, mas, diante de toda uma nação à deriva, pouco se fala no assunto.

Mas essa foi só uma das notícias amazônicas. Ontem a região voltou a oferecer um farto e trágico material jornalístico. Dez pessoas foram mortas na cidade de Pau d’Arco, no Pará, após uma ação conjunta das polícias civil e militar, numa suposta briga fundiária que ecoou o massacre de Eldorado dos Carajás.

Autoridades e imprensa local afirmaram que policiais estavam à cata de suspeitos de terem matado o segurança de uma fazenda, palco de disputa por terra. Na versão oficial eles teriam sido recebidos à bala e reagido em legítima defesa. Já a Comissão Pastoral da Terra disse que houve uma ação de despejo mal-sucedida e ilegal – uma vez que, desde o massacre de Eldorado dos Carajás, operações do tipo devem ser efetuadas por equipes policiais especializadas.

A chacina era uma tragédia anunciada. Entre 2007 e 2016, foram 103 assassinatos similares, o que, ainda segundo a Pastoral da Terra, coloca o Pará como o Estado com mais mortes no campo. A situação, além de tudo, vinha recrudescendo. De acordo com a entidade, ao menos 26 pessoas morreram em 2017 por questões agrárias.

Ou seja, há uma pequena guerra civil instalada em um Estado brasileiro, mas, diante de toda uma nação à deriva, pouco se fala no assunto. A normatização da insanidade coletiva torna ordinárias as insanidades locais.

A boa notícia nisso tudo é que o caos tende a ser passageiro. Há notícias de que José Sarney já traça planos para que o PMDB siga no poder, Maluf ainda não foi preso e o PT articula saídas negociadas pelos bastidores enquanto, em público, veste-se de revolucionário. Sinais claros de que ainda resta alguma normalidade na nação.

The post Caos generalizado transforma escândalos em notícias de pé de página appeared first on The Intercept.

Senators From Both Parties Blast “Outrageous” Trump Call Praising Duterte for Anti-Drug Killing Spree

25 May 2017 - 12:12pm

Donald Trump’s praise for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous anti-drug campaign drew condemnation from leading foreign policy voices in both parties Wednesday, who were shocked the president would encourage what the State Department describes as “extrajudicial killings.”

The Intercept reported Tuesday that Trump told Duterte in a private call that he endorsed the murderous anti-drug campaign, which has killed well over 7,000 people. Duterte has unapologetically compared himself to Hitler and said he would “be happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts in the Philippines.

According to the transcript of an April phone call obtained and authenticated by The Intercept, Trump had nothing but kind words for Duterte’s policy.

“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a rising star on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned what Trump said. “He’s essentially congratulating Duterte on murdering 4,000 [sic] of his own citizens. That’s outrageous,” said Murphy. “The reason you get briefed before these phone calls is so that you don’t say something as dumb as that.”

Following the release of the transcript, 14 Democratic senators also signed onto a letter by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., calling on President Trump to delay his invitation for Duterte to visit the White House until his human rights record improved. The letter’s signatories included Sens. Ben Cardin, Tim Kaine, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown, Cory Booker, Ron Wyden, Dick Durbin, Chris Van Hollen, Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Bernie Sanders, an independent senator and former Democratic presidential candidate from Vermont, told The Intercept by email that he found the transcript “shocking,” and that it would encourage further abuses.

“This sends a horrible signal to human rights violators all over the world, giving them a green light to increase their abuses,” said Sanders. “Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with his comments about Vladimir Putin and in his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, enthusiastic praise for authoritarian leaders is the norm rather than the exception for this president.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Intercept that he didn’t understand why Trump would praise Duterte’s campaign. “I don’t understand why he would say such a thing to a guy who’s practicing extrajudicial executions.”

Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Intercept that Trump’s remarks were “outrageous” and “totally against American values.”

“A person who commits extrajudicial killings is not a person we admire,” said Cardin.

Cardin has been a vocal critic of Duterte’s human rights record. In November, the State Department halted a planned sale of more than 20,000 assault rifles to the Philippines national police after Cardin threatened to block it, and earlier this month, he introduced a bill along with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.,that would place restrictions on similar weapons transfers.

Rubio would not discuss the transcript, saying he would not “comment on a transcript produced by a foreign government.”

Earlier in the day Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., another prominent Republican voice in foreign policy, told The Intercept that Duterte “is not a guy we want to empower.”

Murphy and Markey are co-sponsors of Cardin and Rubio’s bill. Graham, a powerful subcommittee chair, said he was considering signing on as well.

Top photo: President Donald Trump is seen during a joint press conference with the Palestinian leader at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017.

The post Senators From Both Parties Blast “Outrageous” Trump Call Praising Duterte for Anti-Drug Killing Spree appeared first on The Intercept.

Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorist Trained Senior U.S. Marshal, National Guard Members, Documents Show

25 May 2017 - 11:23am

A former FBI agent with a penchant for spreading anti-Muslim conspiracy theories trained a senior U.S. marshal, five federal contractors, and five National Guard members at a three-day event in Louisiana, according to documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information request.

John Guandolo, a prominent figure in what has become a cottage industry of ex-national security professionals exploiting fear of terrorism for cash, ran the March training on behalf of his firm, Understanding the Threat. Guandolo was paid $12,500 for the seminar, sponsored by the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, which promised to show how “jihadis” operate in the United States, why understanding sharia is important to law enforcement agents, and how to “find and research jihadi organizations and leaders” in local communities. At a previous event, Guandolo labeled a local Muslim community leader as a religious extremist with no proof.

The documents obtained by The Intercept underscore how federal law enforcement and members of the military continue to frequent anti-Muslim trainings, despite past attempts to stop Islamophobic instructors from teaching soldiers and federal officers. Advocates have long expressed concern that such events encourage racial profiling and further corrode trust between government agencies and Muslim communities already weary of surveillance and infiltration by informants. They say these trainings are particularly troublesome at a time of rising anti-Muslim sentiment — sentiment that has been blessed by members of the Trump administration.

“Under no circumstances should federal law enforcement agents gain credit for attending anti-Muslim trainings, or be under the impression that it could be a legitimate part of their duties,” said Lindsay Schubiner, senior program manager at the Center for New Community, a Chicago-based group that tracks anti-Muslim trainings, referring to the continuing education credits often required of law enforcement officers. “Federal law enforcement agencies have to clearly send the message to their agents that anti-Muslim bigotry is unacceptable and that anti-Muslim conspiracy theories that Guandolo promotes should not be driving the implementation of federal law.”

Guandolo, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, resigned from the bureau in 2008 while he was being investigated by the FBI for affairs with female agents. The following year, he confirmed to the FBI that he had a sexual relationship with a key witness in a corruption case against a Democratic lawmaker in Louisiana.

But instead of fading into obscurity, Guandolo has leveraged his status as a former FBI agent into a lucrative career. Guandolo has made tens of thousands of dollars in recent years giving dozens of law enforcement trainings, many of them taxpayer funded. Sheriffs’ departments or police associations that put on conferences for local law enforcement sponsor most of Guandolo’s events. But the trainings are usually open to federal agents as well.

Guandolo has said that all American Muslim groups share the “same ideology as ISIS” and that President Obama committed “treason” by working with Muslim groups to combat terrorism. He has also called for the majority of mosques in the U.S. to be shut down and for the arrest of leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim American civil rights group.

“Guandolo’s training is basically terror porn for people who want to be scared into fearing segments of society,” said Imraan Siddiqi, the executive director of CAIR in Arizona, a state in which Guandolo has given multiple trainings.

Guandolo and the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office did not return The Intercept’s requests for comment.

John Guandolo, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, speaks to audience members in the Warroad Baptist Church in Warroad, Minn., Oct. 17, 2016.

Photo: Monika Lawrence

The Louisiana seminar was one of nine trainings Guandolo has given in 2017 alone. He is scheduled to give two more in June, according to the Center for New Community. Sign-in sheets for the Alexandria training obtained by The Intercept indicate that officers from nearly two dozen state and local law enforcement agencies attended, in addition to the federal employees and contractors.

Bernard McLaughlin, a mediator and former U.S. Army colonel who attended the seminar, said the training could prove especially useful for local law enforcement officers. “They don’t get taught a course on Islam or domestic terror or how radicals may plan attacks,” McLaughlin told The Intercept. “So you have to look at an introductory training just to get people oriented so they have a better understanding of Islam, what it is and what its proponents are.”

However, as critics of Guandolo have pointed out, he does not speak Arabic — the original language of the Quran — and has no scholarly expertise in Islam.

The most senior federal officer who attended the Alexandria seminar was Drew Koschny, chief inspector of the U.S. Marshals Service and deputy assistant director of Interpol Washington, the U.S. branch of the global police force Interpol.

U.S. Marshals are required to get approval from the Marshals Service before attending external trainings. But for the Guandolo training, Koschny “accepted the invitation and attended the event without completing the required USMS request for external training; therefore, the training course was not vetted and approved by the USMS,” said Drew Wade, a U.S. Marshals spokesperson. “Mr. Koschny felt the training would support his work at Interpol. He was not aware of any views attributed to individuals conducting the training.”

Four employees of Centerra, a security contractor that guards government facilities across the country, also went to the training. Three of the Centerra employees were listed in the documents as working for the Department of Energy. Another federal contractor who works for Fluor Federal Petroleum, the sole company guarding the U.S. government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, attended the training. The Department of Energy, Centerra, and Fluor did not respond to The Intercept’s requests for comment.

In addition, five Louisiana National Guard members, including an anti-terrorism officer, went to Guandolo’s three-day training.

“It is very commonplace, and very typical for us as a statewide organization, to get invited to attend and participate in training that is being conducted by any number of our various partner agencies,” Col. Ed Bush, a spokesperson for the Louisiana National Guard, told The Intercept. “The fact that we attended this training is a best practice for us, and whenever possible we always try to have representation at these training events, just for our own situational awareness and to maintain those partnerships that are key to our ability to respond as a state.” He added: “Attendance isn’t an endorsement.”

This was not the first time members of the military attended a Guandolo class. In an email obtained by The Intercept through a separate public records request, Guandolo told a local detective planning an upcoming training that Department of Defense employees had signed up for his February 2014 event in Culpeper County, Virginia. And in July 2011, he gave a guest lecture at the Joint Forces Staff College to a class for captains, colonels, and commanders. In that class, Guandolo used material that justified the Crusades and claimed that Muslims were enemies of the West and commanded to hate Jews and Christians.

After Wired exposed that class and other anti-Muslim material given to FBI agents, the Obama administration ordered government agencies to review their counterterrorism trainings. The FBI purged hundreds of anti-Muslim documents from its training material.

The “Understanding the Jihadi Threat” event at the Warroad Baptist Church in Warroad, Minn., Oct. 17, 2016.

Photo: Monika Lawrence

But the problem of anti-Muslim counterterrorism training persists. The documents related to Guandolo’s seminar in Louisiana suggest that federal government workers have attended locally sponsored anti-Muslim events with little oversight.

And the problem isn’t limited to Guandolo. In March, CAIR asked the U.S. Air Force to cut its ties with Patrick Dunleavy, an instructor who lectures at the United States Air Force Special Operations School in Florida. Dunleavy has written that the values of religious freedom and free speech are “contrary to the moral code of Islam” and that “to many Muslim parents, visions of violence and death” are the future they aspire to.

“It doesn’t look like this is an area where the federal government is doing its job and ensuring that its employees don’t participate in bigoted trainings,” said Farhana Khera, the executive director of Muslim Advocates.

In 2011, Khera secured a commitment from John Brennan, then President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, to create an interagency task force to ensure that law enforcement training material was not biased. But in 2014, after The Intercept published a document showing anti-Muslim bias in National Security Agency training documents, Muslim Advocates and dozens of other organizations called on the Obama administration to go beyond that task force. They asked the administration to be more transparent about how pervasive anti-Muslim trainings were and to ensure that the officials responsible were disciplined and the participants in those trainings were retrained. It is unclear if the Obama administration took any of those steps.

While biased trainings for federal employees are not a new issue, civil rights groups say they are especially disturbing in light of the election of Donald Trump, who has brought anti-Muslim activists like White House strategist Steve Bannon — who hosted Guandolo on his Breitbart radio show — into the halls of power.

“It’s even more troubling today because we now have a president and senior members of his administration who traffic in anti-Muslim bigotry,” said Khera. “So our concern is that you have the senior most official in the U.S. government giving a wink-wink, nod-nod to exactly this kind of bigotry.”

Top photo: John Guandolo, a former FBI agent, speaks to the audience in the Warroad Baptist Church in Warroad, Minn., Oct. 17, 2016.

The post Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorist Trained Senior U.S. Marshal, National Guard Members, Documents Show appeared first on The Intercept.

Join The Intercept in Documenting the Conflicts of Interest of Hundreds of Trump Appointees

25 May 2017 - 9:57am

The Trump administration has faced a growing clamor over the glaring conflicts of interest of many of its high-level appointees.

Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, is currently under investigation for his failure to report $45,000 in fees for a speech given in Moscow to RT, the Russian state media outlet. The billionaire investor Carl Icahn has been criticized for serving as an informal and unpaid adviser to Trump, including on areas in which Icahn has a direct financial interest.

What’s more difficult to track, however, are the conflicts of interest of lower-level appointees — the personnel who execute Trump administration policy on a day to day basis.

To shed light on these appointees’ backgrounds, The Intercept and the Center for Media and Democracy have requested the Office of Government Ethics Form 278, the standard financial disclosure document, for hundreds of Trump officials. We have now received over 150 of them and compiled them in a public Google Documents table, and will be adding more as they arrive.

As seen below, we have begun examining these appointees’ previous lives in the D.C. swamp, including stints as lobbyists and trips through the industry-government revolving door.

We invite readers to join us in combing through the pasts of these appointees, as well as informing us of any officials whose disclosure forms we have not obtained. Many appointments are made without announcements and are not identified on the relevant agency websites.

We will credit you if we use any of your work in future stories. We can be contacted by email at lee.fang@theintercept.com (encryption key available here) and nick@prwatch.org, or via Twitter at @LHFang and @NickSurgey. Instructions for communicating with The Intercept anonymously and with additional security are available here.


The documents show numerous potential conflicts of interest:

Anthony DeMartino, appointed as deputy chief of staff to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, previously consulted for defense contractor Palantir, helping the firm cultivate “government relationships,” according to his ethics disclosure. DeMartino’s consulting work was conducted through “SBD Advisors,” a firm with ties to high-level military officials. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter previously worked for SBD Advisors, and the its current advisory board includes retired Adm. Michael Mullen, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Barack Obama. The Defense Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Anthony DeMartino Office of the Secretary of Defense
Deputy Chief of Staff Form 278

Travis Scott Fisher and Daniel Simmons, two appointees at the Department of Energy, previously worked for the Institute for Energy Research, a pro-fossil fuel think tank founded by oil and gas billionaire Charles Koch. The Department of Energy is deeply involved in the approval of liquified natural gas export projects, a field in which Koch’s business has deep involvement. The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment.

Travis Scott Fisher Department of Energy
Assistant to the Secretary Form 278 Daniel Simmons Department of Energy
Assistant to the Secretary Form 278

In other cases, Trump officials appear to have failed to follow the instructions for Form 278, which state that filers must name any source that paid more than $5,000 for their services. This is designed to force attorneys and lobbyists to disclose their significant clients.

Nathan Miller, appointed as a senior adviser to the Small Business Administration, is a former corporate lobbyist at a company called Public Strategies Washington. According to the required lobbying disclosure forms, Miller and other PSW staff met with Senate officials on behalf of clients including Bain Capital, Lockheed Martin, and Liberty Mutual last year in return for payments to his firm far over $5,000. However, none of these clients are listed in Miller’s presidential appointee disclosure form. Carol Wilkerson, the spokesperson for the SBA, sent us the following statement: “Utilizing our normal review processes, we have determined that appropriate disclosures were made with respect to Mr. Miller’s New Entrant OGE 278e Report.”

Nathan Miller Small Business Administration
Senior Adviser Form 278

Anthony Pugliese, a senior White House adviser to the Department of Transportation, previously worked as a state-based lobbyist in Pennsylvania. Pugliese’s state lobbying disclosure shows clients including John Deere and Luxottica Retail North America. But Pugliese’s federal ethics disclosure reveals no client information. The Department of Transportation press office did not respond to a request for comment.

Anthony Pugliese Department of Transportation
Senior White House Adviser Form 278

Michael Egan, appointed as the special assistant to Department of Defense White House liaison, previously worked for the Boston Consulting Group. Egan lists three consulting clients but does not disclose their identities, instead writing “Not specified” and the city where each client is headquartered. The Defense Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Michael Egan Department of Defense
Special Assistant to the White House Liaison, OSD Form 278

Justin Schwab, a senior attorney appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency, initially only listed his former law firm Baker Hostetler and did not disclose any clients. After being contacted by reporters, Schwab refiled his disclosure, revealing that he previously worked for Southern Co., a major utility that is directly affected by the Clean Power Plan climate change regulation. “We decline to comment,” wrote Enesta Jones, EPA spokesperson, when reached for a response.

Justin Schwab EPA
Senior Adviser Form 278

The post Join The Intercept in Documenting the Conflicts of Interest of Hundreds of Trump Appointees appeared first on The Intercept.

A Chain Of Corporate Newspapers Could Make The Difference In Montana’s Special Election

24 May 2017 - 10:33pm

As Montana’s voters decide who will represent them in Congress in Thursday’s special election, their choice will be heavily informed by their local newspapers. That bodes well for Republican Greg Gianforte.

Earlier this month, a trio of Montana’s largest newspapers — The Missoulian, the Helena Independent Record, and the Billings Gazette — all endorsed Republican businessman Greg Gianforte over Democratic musician turned candidate Rob Quist.

The papers all share a single owner, the Iowa-based Lee Enterprises, whose board is stacked with Republican donors, and all three were dropped on the same day, May 14th, as Republicans began to panic that the race might genuinely be in play. All three endorsements made similar arguments — deep reservations about his more extreme ideological positions, such as his rejection of evolution, coupled with optimism that he will set those bizarre views aside and do right by Montana in Washington.

In addition to the endorsements, the three papers have focused their reporting heavily on Quist’s debt and financial woes. On the Wednesday night before the election, a reporter for the Guardian, which is headquartered in London, Ben Jacobs, was interviewing Gianforte about his evolving position on Trump’s health care plan when the Republican candidate slammed him to the ground, according to Jacobs, backed up by audio of the encounter. The Billings Gazette led its story: “A foreign correspondent from the Guardian has accused GOP U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte of assaulting him during an interview.”

Jacobs is American and lives in the United States.

“There is a pretty long history of papers breaking toward business interests in this state,” said Lee Banville, an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Montana. “Endorsements came from publishers and they often skewed pro-business. So, the fact that the papers editorialized that way is not too shocking.”

The Lee board includes a number of Republican donors and other conservatives. The enterprise owns two other local newspapers in the state as well; neither explicitly endorsed, though they run copy from their sister publications.

Nancy Donovan, a founding partner of the Circle Financial Group, has been on the Lee Enterprises board since 2003. She gave $1,000 to support former Republican House Leader’s John Boehner’s re-election in 2010, and $2,400 to former Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk’s campaign.

Gregory P. Schermer, who spent 27 years with Lee before retiring and remains a member of the board, donated to the presidential bids of John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Marco Rubio.

Herb Moloney, who is a Lead Director on the board, was previously a publisher of the conservative Washington Examiner.

Other members of the board, such as Frank Magid, have given to both Democrats and Republicans.  Leanord Elmore gave $450 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

“The one that is really interesting is here in Missoula. Missoula is basically the Berkley of Montana, a liberal college town with lots of your people and intellectual progressive types. This is not a town or county Greg Gianforte will win,” said Banville. “And so the paper backing the Republican caught a lot of flak from the community because it did not represent the town. And if you read it, the paper is justifying its decision throughout rather than outlining a positive case for the Republican. It is written in a defensive crouch; I think because of the reaction they knew they would get.”

The Missoulian editorial is indeed titled “Our endorsement in the special election (with some reservations),” and those reservations are obvious in the writing. The paper writes that Gianforte has “the education, experience, brains and abilities to be successful in Congress. But only if he holds firm to his promise to set aside his own personal ideology whenever necessary in order to uphold Montana values.” It notes that the candidate “assured the Missoulian editorial board that he can and will do just that. The people of Montana must hold him to that pledge.”

Last week, Chris Rush, the publisher of The World, a local paper in Oregon owned by Lee Enterprises, stepped down from his job, and offered a blunt assessment in his goodbye column.

The industry’s economic fortunes have changed for the worse since the ‘great recession’ of 2008. Corporate ownership by publicly-traded companies like Gannett, Gatehouse, McClatchy and Lee Enterprises (which owns this newspaper) has become the norm. Independent and family-owned newspapers with deep roots in their local communities are disappearing from the landscape.

At the same time, I have watched the autonomy of the local newspaper being eroded day by day and replaced with central planning from remote corporate offices. More and more decisions about your local newspaper — from its national news and feature content to how much you pay for your subscription — are being determined in boardrooms far away.

The column was picked up by a former reporter running a blog in Montana. He thought he noticed something familiar.

Top photo: The three candidates, Republican Greg Gianforte, from left, Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks vying to fill Montana’s only congressional seat await the start of the only televised debate ahead of the May 25 special election, on April 29, 2017, in Great Falls, Mont.

The post A Chain Of Corporate Newspapers Could Make The Difference In Montana’s Special Election appeared first on The Intercept.

Governo que pedia unificação nacional é responsável agora por um país em chamas

24 May 2017 - 5:51pm

O Brasil não é um país de metáforas, costuma dizer uma amiga. Por aqui, mar de lama são resíduos de barragem rompida, zica é questão de saúde pública e o partido da Ponte para o Futuro é o mesmo que derruba ciclovia em sua administração.Desta vez a não metáfora é uma manchete de portal: “Brasília está em chamas”.

E não só porque, um ano depois do impeachment, a capital é o cartão-postal de um país longe de ser pacificado, como garantiam os arquitetos da nova (nova?) ordem. Ou porque uma rebelião de partidos aliados promete deixar um presidente rejeitado pela opinião pública sangrando sozinho enquanto tenta, de forma patética, se defender da acusação de corrupção passiva, obstrução de Justiça e organização criminosa. Ou porque um (outro) auxiliar do mandatário está preso junto com dois ex-governadores acusados de desvios nas obras do estádio Mané Garrincha, um elefante branco que recebeu mais recursos do que torcedores após a Copa do Mundo de inaceitáveis 12 sedes. Ou porque o Congresso tenta aprovar na marra as reformas igualmente rejeitadas pela população que não escolheu a agenda adotada pelo presidente que não foi eleito para o posto.

Brasília ficou literalmente em chamas após mais de 35 mil manifestantes se reunirem contra o governo e as reformas Trabalhista e da Previdência. Até onde se sabe, um grupo com cerca de 50 pessoas, após confusão com a polícia, promoveu quebra-quebra, incendiou os ministérios da Agricultura, da Fazenda e da Cultura e depredou outros dois prédios, segundo o UOL. Todos os prédios da Esplanada foram evacuados, e as imagens de documentos em chamas e de vidraças, persianas, paradas de ônibus, placas de trânsito, orelhões, banheiros químicos arrebentados no entorno de Brasília se espalharam como num rastilho.

Fogo no Ministério da Agricultura durante protestos na Esplanada.

Foto: AFP/Getty Images

Michel Temer decretou ação de garantia de lei e da ordem e, como se confirmasse o delírio de saudosos da ditadura que se multiplicaram em outras manifestações recentes pelo país, tropas federais cercaram o Palácio do Planalto e o Itamaraty.

A ação acontece no pior momento do governo Temer, que nos últimos dias parecia finalmente unificar a nação no sentido da rejeição.

Quem até ontem era chamado de revanchista por gritar “Fora, Temer” e acusar o chamado golpe parlamentar ganhava a companhia de parte da opinião pública que fatalmente acompanhou revoltada a escalada do noticiário contra um governo cercado por delinquentes de todo tipo.

Acuado e prestes a cair de maduro, Temer fatalmente usará as cenas como argumento político da ordem (a que ajudou a degringolar) contra o caos – este supostamente provocado por partidários interessados em sua queda. Sabe que, em boa parte da opinião pública, apenas o medo da “baderna”, citada há pouco pelo seu ministro da Defesa, Raul Jungmann, é maior do que a sua rejeição.

Em seu pronunciamento, o ministro justificou a convocação das tropas federais dizendo que a marcha, “prevista como pacífica, degringolou para a violência, desrespeito, ameaça às pessoas”. Segundo ele, “o presidente da República faz questão de ressaltar que é inaceitável a baderna e o descontrole. E que ele não permitirá que atos como esse venham a turbar um processo que se desenvolve de forma democrática e com respeito às instituições”.

Sem força política, Temer ganhou uma brecha para fazer o que governantes impopulares fazem nas horas de desespero: apelar para o medo. Não faltará quem veja nessa brecha a chance de alimentar o seu próprio Reichstag. O mais provável, porém, é que as cenas do incêndio e da pancadaria em Brasília sirvam como epígrafe de um governo que prometeu pacificar o país e o devolveu em chamas.

The post Governo que pedia unificação nacional é responsável agora por um país em chamas appeared first on The Intercept.

Reações ao atentado após show de Ariana Grande mostram como antimuçulmanos são “idiotas úteis” para o ISIS

24 May 2017 - 5:13pm

Se você quiser  derrotar o Estado Islâmico, ouça o ex-refém Nicolas Henin. O grupo é “encorajado por qualquer sinal de reação exagerada, divisão, medo, racismo, xenofobia… [e] atraído por qualquer exemplo de podridão em redes sociais”, escreveu o jornalista francês em novembro de 2015, no início dos ataques em Paris. “Um ponto central em sua visão de mundo é a crença de que outras comunidades não podem conviver com muçulmanos, e todos os dias suas antenas estarão ligadas para encontrar evidências de apoio”.

Entenderam? A islamofobia dá vantagem ao ISIS. Consciente ou inconscientemente, intolerantes antimuçulmanos tornaram-se sargentos de recrutamento para um grupo que dizem odiar e querer destruir. Os islamofóbicos, parafraseando Lenin, são os “idiotas úteis” da ISIS.

Consideremos sua reação à atrocidade terrorista mais recente: o atentado suicida após o show de Ariana Grande, em Manchester, Inglaterra, que matou 22 pessoas, incluindo uma menina de 8 anos nessa segunda-feira (22). O ISIS, que assumiu autoria do terrível ataque, poderia esperar uma melhor resposta dos seus idiotas úteis da direita britânica?

A colunista do MailOnline e apresentadora de rádio Katie Hopkins – podemos chamá-la de Ann Coulter do Reino Unido, mas com um QI muito menor – tem um longo histórico de demonização dos muçulmanos e foi ao Twitter horas depois do atentado exigir uma “solução final” (mais tarde ela deletou seu tweet com requintes nazistas, ao ser denunciada à polícia). Hopkins, que já disse que “o Islã é o problema” porque é uma “religião atrasada”, também twittou que “os homens ocidentais” deveriam: “Levantar-se. Erguer-se. Exigir ações”.

Allison Pearson, colunista do jornal britânico mais vendido, The Daily Telegraph, que no passado descreveu os imigrantes muçulmanos como vindos de  “alguma cultura atrasada”, também se juntou às vozes. “Precisamos de um estado de emergência, assim como a França”, ela twittou em resposta ao massacre de Manchester. “Precisamos prender os milhares de suspeitos de terrorismo agora para proteger nossas crianças”. Inocente até que se prove o contrário? Por favor.

Há, também, Tommy Robinson, ex-líder da Liga de Defesa Inglesa, de extrema-direita (pense em um Richard Spencer britânico; contudo, também, com um menor intelecto e um longo histórico de criminalidade e violência). Robinson chegou a Manchester na terça para acusar moradores britânico-muçulmanos da cidade de serem “combatentes inimigos”. Eles querem “matá-lo, mutilá-lo e destruí-lo”, ele disse aos seus seguidores no YouTube, companheiros intolerantes de extrema-direita.

Pode-se quase ouvi-los celebrando em Raqqa. O ISIS quer colocar lenha na fogueira entre as comunidades muçulmanas e a sociedade ocidental como um todo; quer colocar muçulmanos contra não muçulmanos. Isso também não é segredo: os líderes do grupo o admitiram em suas próprias publicações. Mais de dois anos atrás, em fevereiro de 2015, a revista online do ISIS, Dabiq, tornou claro que um dos principais objetivos dos ataques brutais do grupo no Ocidente foi destruir a “zona cinzenta” — de coexistência pacífica entre muçulmanos e não muçulmanos — e provocar uma reação em massa. “Os muçulmanos no Ocidente rapidamente se verão entre duas opções: ou desertam sua religião e adotam a  religião [infiel]… ou eles… [emigram] para o Estado Islâmico e, assim, escapam da perseguição dos governos e cidadãos cruzados”.

Esse grande plano do ISIS sempre precisou do apoio  (talvez inconsciente) de seus idiotas úteis no Ocidente, os islamofóbicos, cujas retóricas e ações duras ajudam a levar muçulmanos marginalizados e alienados aos braços abertos dos jihadistas.

Os incitadores de ódio anti-muçulmano não estão, obviamente, dispostos a admitir o papel central que desempenham no processo de radicalização. “Os terroristas não estão nem aí para o que eu twitto, escrevo ou digo”, insiste Hopkins em sua coluna no MailOnline no dia seguinte ao atentado em Manchester. “Eles não dão a mínima se nos dividimos ou fingimos estar unidos”.

Antes fosse verdade. Esqueçamos Dabiq. Consideremos, em vez disso, o que Arie Kruglanski, professor de psicologia da Universidade de Maryland que estuda radicalização, disse após os ataques a Paris em novembro de 2015. Um crescente clima de islamofobia é o que o ISIS está “aspirando — provocar comunidades para que cometam ações contra os muçulmanos”, disse ao Washington Post. “Então, o ISIS poderá dizer: ‘Eu avisei. Estes são nossos inimigos, inimigos do Islã’”.

Outro professor de psicologia que estuda os extremistas muçulmanos, Jocelyn Bélanger, da Universidade de Quebec em Montreal, concorda. “Quando as pessoas sentem uma perda de significância — quando são humilhadas —, isso as estimula a se unirem a um grupo radical”, declarou ao The Washington Post.

Os islamofóbicos se veem como porta-vozes politicamente incorretos da verdade; como oponentes audaciosos e contundentes dos radicais e dos extremistas. A realidade é que eles são os cúmplices, os agentes não remunerados daqueles mesmos radicais e extremistas. Todo terrorista precisa de uma Katie Hopkins. É uma das grandes ironias dos nossos tempos — aqueles que bradam mais alto sobre a ameaça representada pelo ISIS são, muitas vezes, os maiores propagandistas da ISIS.

Conforme meu colega Murtaza Hussain observou, é “perverso e contraproducente relacionar [os muçulmanos ocidentais] ao ISIS e os culparem pelas ações do grupo”. Fazer tal coisa é “conceder ao Estado Islâmico um golpe de propaganda, endossando implicitamente a narrativa do grupo de que muçulmanos e ocidentais estão em guerra coletiva uns contra os outros”.

Quando o ISIS alega que representa o Islã “verdadeiro”, descreve a religião islâmica como violenta ou sugere que os muçulmanos ocidentais devem sua lealdade a eles e não ao Ocidente, os islamofóbicos se atropelam para endossar cada um desses pontos. Lamentavelmente, estes últimos não dão a mínima atenção, por exemplo, aos motoristas de táxi muçulmanos que transportaram os sobreviventes para casa da Arena de Manchester gratuitamente, ou aos médicos muçulmanos de hospitais que trabalharam madrugada adentro cuidando dos feridos. O fato de que deve ter havido jovens fãs muçulmanos no show de Ariana Grande em Manchester, na noite de segunda-feira, quando a bomba explodiu, também parece estar além de sua compreensão.

O fato é que o ISIS quer semear divisão e discórdia nas sociedades ocidentais, e seus idiotas úteis no Ocidente estão muito felizes em ajudá-los a fazê-lo. “Coesão, tolerância – não é isso que [o ISIS] quer ver”, aponta o ex-refém Henin, em 2015. “O que eles temem”, ele conclui, “é a união”.

Foto no topo: Um policial protege a cena perto do Manchester Arena em 23 de maio de 2017 em Manchester, Inglaterra. Uma explosão ocorreu enquanto o público deixava a arena após uma performance de Ariana Grande.

Tradução: Fernando Fico

The post Reações ao atentado após show de Ariana Grande mostram como antimuçulmanos são “idiotas úteis” para o ISIS appeared first on The Intercept.

Veja todos os nomes relacionados ao Brasil no Malta Files

24 May 2017 - 5:03pm

A lista dos 148 brasileiros ligados a 177 empresas levantadas com base no sistema de catalogação criado pelo consórcio European Investigative Colaborations (EIC) para a série de reportagens Malta Files é bastante diversa. Abriram firmas no arquipélago do Mar Mediterrâneo em busca da mais baixa carga tributária da União Europeia de pequenos empresários até grandes nomes do mercado financeiro, passando por profissionais liberais, como médicos e arquitetos. Ser sócio de uma firma no país europeu não é ilegal, desde que a participação seja declarada à Receita Federal do Brasil.

Em compromisso com a transparência, The Intercept Brasil e a Agência Sportlight publicam, na íntegra, as tabelas com quatro listas que foram elaboradas ao longo da apuração das reportagens: brasileiros e suas empresas; empresas sociais de firmas com brasileiros; estrangeiros relacionados às firmas dos brasileiros; e pessoas com companhias em Malta que declararam residir por aqui.

Além dos nomes já divulgados nas reportagens da série, relacionados a casos de corrupção como a Operação Lava Jato, foram destacados outros personagens importantes na história recente do Brasil:

Gilberto Sayão da Silva Quem é?

Membro de uma seleta lista de bilionários brasileiros, o banqueiro é atualmente um dos sócios da Vinci Partners, gestora de recursos financeiros. Até novembro do ano passado, ele também era presidente do Conselho de Administração da construtora PDG Realty.

No passado, Sayão foi sócio de André Esteves no BTG Pactual. Esteves chegou a ficar preso entre novembro de 2015 e abril de 2016, no âmbito da Operação Lava Jato. Foi acusado de participar da negociação de pagamentos à família do ex-diretor da Petrobras Nestor Cerveró para que ele não assinasse acordo de delação premiada.

Foi acusado de participar da negociação de pagamentos à família do ex-diretor da Petrobras Nestor Cerveró.

No vazamento de dados de contas secretas do banco HSBC na Suíça, caso conhecido como “Swissleaks”, Sayão, Esteves e o também banqueiro Eduardo Plass tiveram seus nomes relacionados a contas que chegaram a US$ 168,7 milhões, administradas por offshores.

O que tem em Malta?

Sayão foi dono da GSS Investco LTD, firma aberta em dezembro de 2015, com capital de 1.200 euros. Ele dividia a sociedade da empresa com o advogado Fabio Pereira Rodriguez, espanhol, residente na Suíça. Apareciam como diretoras da companhia outras duas empresas: a Fortia Management Limited, de Malta, e a FDG Directors LTD, das Ilhas Virgens Britânicas, conhecido paraíso fiscal.

A GSS Investco está em processo de dissolução, segundo os registros públicos mais recentes de Malta.

O que ele diz?

Por meio de sua assessoria de imprensa, Sayão afirmou que “todas as empresas que são ou foram de seu controle estão em conformidade com as exigências da lei brasileira”.

 

Flávio Augusto da Silva

Flavio Augusto da Silva

Foto: Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Quem é?

Relacionado no ano passado pela revista “Forbes” como um dos bilionários mais jovens do país, o empresário, de 45 anos, é dono do Grupo Ometz, holding cuja empresa mais conhecida é a rede de cursos de inglês Wise Up. Desde 2013, também é dono, nos EUA, do time de futebol Orlando City, onde joga Kaká.

O que tem em Malta?

Flávio é dono da empresa Nice Sports Company, que foi aberta em novembro de 2013. No mesmo ano, em março, o empresário comprou o Orlando City. A firma foi aberta com capital de US$ 2 mil e continua em atividade.

É dono do Grupo Ometz, holding cuja empresa mais conhecida é a rede de cursos de inglês Wise Up O que ele diz?

Por meio da assessoria do Orlando City, Flávio declarou que a empresa em Malta “consta desde o primeiro dia na sua declaração na Receita Federal do Brasil”.

 

Nuno Rocha Vasconcellos Quem é?

O empresário português é acionista do grupo Ongoing, com atividades no mercado financeiro e imobiliário e na mídia. Nuno foi declarado insolvente no início deste ano pela Justiça de Portugal, assim como a holding já havia passado pela mesma situação no ano passado. As dívidas foram estimadas em 1,2 bilhão de euros.

Está na linha de frente do grupo Ejesa, proprietário, entre outros veículos, do jornal “O Dia”, “Meia Hora” e do “Portal IG”.

No Brasil, Nuno aparece como sócio de dez empresas, com capital acima de R$ 170 milhões ao todo. Seus negócios mais conhecidos no país são no setor de mídia: está na linha de frente do grupo Ejesa, proprietário, entre outros veículos, do jornal “O Dia”, “Meia Hora” e do “Portal IG”.

O que tem em Malta?

Nuno é o dono da empresa Unity 1 LTD, aberta em agosto de 2013, com capital de 1.165 euros. Nos registros em Malta, o empresário deu um endereço no bairro do Brooklin, em São Paulo. Os documentos mais recentes de atividades da firma são de novembro de 2015.

O que ele diz?

A reportagem tentou contato com Nuno Rocha Vasconcellos por meio do escritório de advocacia que o representa no Brasil, mas não obteve resposta.

 

João Manuel Magro e Cristiano Beraldo Quem são?

Unidos numa firma em Malta, eles têm também relação no Brasil com a Refinaria de Manguinhos, que retomou suas atividades em 2015, após revogar no STF um processo de desapropriação do terreno onde está localizada, no Rio, iniciado em 2012.

Eles têm também relação no Brasil com a Refinaria de Manguinhos

Cristiano Beraldo é atualmente diretor do Grupo Magro, da família de João Manuel Magro, que controla a refinaria.

Apontado pela imprensa como ligado no passado ao ex-deputado Eduardo Cunha, o filho de João Manuel Magro, Ricardo, chegou a ser preso em junho de 2016, na Operação Recomeço, da Polícia Federal, acusado de participar da fraude de R$ 90 milhões no fundo de pensão da Petrobras, o Petros, e no dos Correios, o Postalis. Foi solto depois de pagar R$ 4 milhões de fiança e atualmente responde a uma ação penal na Justiça Federal do Rio decorrente da operação.

O que têm em Malta?

Cristiano Beraldo é diretor da Oxford Investments LTD, firma criada em Malta, em março de 2015, que tem como sócio João Manuel Magro. Os documentos públicos dos registros de Malta mostram que a empresa segue em atividade. Há registros de US$ 20 milhões em ações nominais e US$ 3 mil em ações emitidas.

O que eles dizem?

A reportagem tentou contato com João Manuel Magro e Cristiano Beraldo através da assessoria de imprensa da Refinaria de Manguinhos, que respondeu que “não pode se manifestar em nome de nenhum de seus mais de 2 mil acionistas”.

 

Gilberto Bousquet Bomeny Quem é?

Fundador do World Trade Center (WTC) São Paulo, foi controlador, no início dos anos 2000, do grupo Interunion, que ficou estigmatizado pelo escândalo do título de capitalização “Papa-tudo”. No fim dos anos 1990, o rombo foi estimado em R$ 218 milhões em títulos vencidos e não pagos e dívidas com fornecedores.

Foi controlador, no início dos anos 2000, do grupo Interunion, que ficou estigmatizado pelo escândalo do título de capitalização “Papa-tudo”

Em 2006, Bomeny chegou a ter os bens bloqueados pela Justiça em processo que tratava do suposto desvio de recursos da Superintendência do Desenvolvimento da Amazônia (Sudam), já extinta no financiamento da obra do WTC Manaus. A ação tramita na 1ª Vara Federal do Amazonas.

O que ele tem em Malta?

Bomeny tem relação com quatro empresas em Malta: a Eurocentre Capital Limited e a Spirit Finance Limited, abertas em 2007; e a Greenstone Capital Limited e a Greystone Capital Limited, criadas em 2015. Os documentos dos registros públicos mostram um investimento pesado do empresário em Malta. Só a Eurocentre, por exemplo, tinha 37,6 milhões de euros em ativos, no último balanço, divulgado em abril deste ano, relativo ao ano de 2015.

O que ele diz?

Bomeny afirmou por e-mail: “Não resido no Brasil há muitos anos. Minha declaração de imposto de renda não é feita no Brasil e por isso não existe esse tipo de registro (das empresas abertas em Malta) e não tem porque registrar”. Em três das quatro firmas relacionadas a ele no país, aparece um endereço de referência em São Paulo.

Veja as tabelas de todos os brasileiros com empresas em Malta:

The post Veja todos os nomes relacionados ao Brasil no Malta Files appeared first on The Intercept.

Ricardo Saud, “homem da mala” da Friboi, registrou empresa de jogo do bicho em Malta

24 May 2017 - 4:33pm

O empresário Ricardo Saud já era conhecido como o “homem da mala” da Friboi por causa de sua atuação como lobista do grupo JBS em Brasília. Na semana passada, a imagem vastamente repetida no noticiário de Saud levando uma mala que teria R$ 500 mil a um encontro com o deputado Rodrigo Rocha Loures (PMDB) reforçou a alcunha. O dinheiro teria sido entregue a pedido de Joesley Batista, um dos donos do grupo, ao parlamentar, agora afastado, que confiou a missão ao seu braço-direito. Citado em diversos escândalos ao lado da família Batista, Saud aparece no Malta Files como um dos proprietários de duas empresas na ilha mediterrânea: a 4GB Holdings Ltd e a Bichostars Ltd., ambas abertas em 7 de abril de 2010.

Ricardo Saud presta depoimento de delação premiada ao Ministério Público.

Foto: Reprodução

Ele é um dos empresários da JBS que negociaram acordos de delação premiada com o Ministério Público. Logo após prestar depoimento, viajou com Joesley para os Estados Unidos e já estava no país no dia 12 de maio, quando foi deflagrada a  Operação Bullish, um desdobramento da Lava Jato que investiga os aportes do Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Social (BNDES) para expansão do grupo comandado pelos irmãos Wesley e Joesley Batista.

Tanto o crescimento no exterior do grupo J&F como as duas empresas maltesas unem Saud a outra família comumente presente nos noticiários, pelo menos no Paraguai: os Wasmosy, encabeçados por Juan Carlos Maria Wasmosy, ex-presidente do país.

Em Malta, um dos filhos de Wasmony, Diego Ricardo, é sócio de Saud nas empresas– que ainda têm como terceiro acionista Hermany Andrade Júnior, empresário do ramo imobiliário. De acordo com os registros públicos do país, a 4GB Holdings detém 99% do capital votante da Bichostars – empresa de jogo do bicho online, que recebeu licença da Lotteries and Gaming Authority, órgão governamental de Malta responsável pelo controle de toda atividade de jogos no país, para operar. Os documentos não permitem identificar quais eram os objetivos da sociedade entre os três empresários.

Print de um vídeo no YouTube demonstra como fazer apostos no Bichostars.com (com “dinheiro ficticio”).

A URL Bichostars.com foi registrado em outubro de 2008. Um vídeo no YouTube, postado em 9 de setembro de 2010, demonstra como o site funciona. O primeiro registro em que o site aparece como operacional é de 20 de novembro de 2010, conforme o Internet Archive, mas não está claro quando ele entrou no ar e se a Bichostars acabou de fato recebendo apostas e pagando prêmios. Na mesma época em que a empresa foi lançada, houve uma tentativa em Brasília para legalizar certos jogos de azar. No entanto, a proposta foi derrubada em votação no dia 14 de dezembro. Na época, um dos principais argumentos contra o texto era que o projeto facilitaria a lavagem de dinheiro.

A modelo paraguaia Larissa Riquelme, que ganhou fama como “a Musa da Copa” de 2010, fez uma propaganda para Bichostars em português. O vídeo foi postado no YouTube em 2012.

Declarações financeiras da 4GB e da Bichostars de 2011 registram déficits de 69.646 euros e 19.360 euros, respetivamente. Não há declarações subsequentes. As contas das empresas nas redes sociais pararam de publicar regularmente em 2013, a última postagem é de 1 de julho de 2014. Em 2016, a firma maltesa que administrava as duas empresas notificou às autoridades que estava se desvinculando do negócio, uma vez que tinha perdido o contato com seu cliente em 2015.

O avanço do grupo no exterior é um dos focos de investigação da Lava Jato, especialmente por conta da participação do BNDES e seus vultosos investimentos.

Mas a associação mais rentável de Saud com Wasmony aparentemente ocorre mesmo no Brasil. O lobista é sócio do ex-presidente do Paraguai na Goya Agropecuária Comercial, empresa de criação de bovinos para corte, aberta em Uberaba (MG) em 1989. A sociedade se completa com outro filho de Wasmony, Alvaro (o “Lalo”), e Antonio Esteban Vasconsellos Portas, membro da Associação Coordenadora Nacional de Saúde Animal do Paraguai (Aconasa) e um dos responsáveis pelas ações de combate à febre aftosa no país.

A expansão do J&S no país vizinho começou em 2009 e hoje inclui três frigoríficos que respondem pela absorção de boa parte do rebanho dos criadores locais, como os Wasmosy. O avanço do grupo no exterior é um dos focos de investigação da Lava Jato, especialmente por conta da participação do BNDES e seus vultosos investimentos. Entre 2007 e 2011, os aportes do banco de desenvolvimento para o crescimento do grupo fora do país somaram R$ 8,1 bilhões.

O homem que fazia o meio de campo

Além de receber dinheiro do BNDES, a JBS historicamente faz uma significativa ofensiva no Congresso Nacional. O grupo era um doador costumaz de campanhas eleitorais até 2014, última eleição em que pessoas jurídicas podiam doar. Naquele ano, ficou à frente das empreiteiras e foi o maior doador, com R$ 366,8 milhões repassados a candidatos e partidos políticos em todos os níveis de disputa. No noticiário, Ricardo Saud é apontado como o homem que fazia o meio de campo entre o grupo de Joesley Batista e os políticos.

Os laços com o grupo não param por aqui. Além de diretor de relações institucionais do J&F – cargo comumente ocupado por lobistas –, Saud é vice-presidente também de relações institucionais do Banco Original, que pertence ao J&F. O banco era comandado por Henrique Meirelles, que era também presidente do Conselho da J&F até 2016, quando assumiu o Ministério da Fazenda no governo Michel Temer.

Fábrica da JBS-Friboi em Samambaia, Distrito Federal.

Foto: Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

Espécie de braço direito de Joesley, Saud aparece até mesmo como seu suplente na “Assembleia Geral Ordinária” da Eldorado Brasil Celulose de 27 de abril de 2012. A empresa faz parte do J&F e foi um dos focos de outro desdobramento da Lava Jato, a Operação Sépsis. Segundo a Polícia Federal, a Eldorado pagou cerca de R$ 33 milhões em contratos de consultoria e empresas do doleiro Lúcio Funaro, preso desde julho de 2016.

Funaro é apontado como o operador do ex-deputado Eduardo Cunha. Mais do que isso, como um dos responsáveis pelo esquema de corrupção e lavagem de dinheiro das grandes empresas que recebiam aportes dos órgãos públicos. As empresas do doleiro seriam usadas para lavar dinheiro e, de acordo com o Coaf, (Conselho de Controle de Atividades Financeiras, órgão da Receita Federal), boa parte dos créditos de uma delas, a Viscaya, vinha do grupo J&F e da Eldorado.

Ricardo Saud  também exerceu o papel de suplente de Joesley no conselho de administração da Carnaúba I Eólica S.A., que tem como acionistas Furnas e o Fundo de Investimentos em Participações (FIP) Caixa Milão, administrado pela Caixa Econômica Federal. Os aportes de capital da J&F na empresa ocorreram por meio de fundo de investimento da Caixa. Em 2015, quando a Lava Jato avançou no setor elétrico e nos fundos de investimento da Caixa, a J&F deixou o negócio.

“Agir de forma a legalizar a sociedade junto aos órgãos municipais, estaduais, federais e autarquias”

O currículo de Saud também traz passagens surpreendentes além da sua movimentada folha na iniciativa privada. Sem sinais de ter se afastado das empresas, o empresário  foi nomeado, em 21 de janeiro de 2011, diretor do Departamento de Cooperativismo e Associativismo (Denacoop), do Ministério da Agricultura.

A passagem do lobista pelo ministério é curta, mas nem por isso pouco barulhenta. Enquanto ele estava na pasta, o então ministro Wagner Rossi (PMDB-SP) admitiu que ele e seu filho, o deputado Baleia Rossi (PMDB-SP) viajavam em jatinho da empresa Ourofino Agronegócios, que produzia medicações para a campanha de vacinação contra a febre aftosa. Iniciada em novembro de 2010, a campanha resultaria em crescimento de 81% da empresa, saltando de R$ 16,4 milhões para R$ 29,7 milhões.

À época, Ricardo Saud tinha 15% de participação na filial de Uberaba da Ethika Suplementos e Bem Estar, controlada pela Ourofino. Sua função na empresa, de acordo com reportagem do Correio Braziliense era: “agir de forma a legalizar a sociedade junto aos órgãos municipais, estaduais, federais e autarquias”. Nos registros da Ethika, o endereço constante de Saud é o mesmo com o qual se inscreveu no equivalente à junta comercial de Malta, com a 4GB e a Bichostars.

Em nota para a imprensa na ocasião, a Ourofino afirmou que a autorização para a produção da vacina, obtida em 17 de outubro de 2010, era anterior à passagem do ministro na pasta e que Ricardo Saud não possuía participação societária no grupo, sem negar entretanto a sociedade com pessoas físicas da empresa.

Juan Carlos Wasmosy toma posse como presidente do Paraguai em 1993.

Foto: Norberto Duarte/AFP/Getty Images

Outros sócios

A passagem de Saud pelo ministério, de janeiro a agosto de 2011, também dá pistas de sua relação com o Paraguai, de onde é cônsul honorário em Uberaba. Enquanto atuava na pasta, ele tinha como função elaborar políticas e liberar recursos para cooperativas agrícolas. Foi nesse período que, segundo o Correio Braziliense, a Associação Brasileira dos Criadores de Zebu, da qual a Goya – empresa de Saud e Wasmosy – participa por meio de concursos de gado da raça Nelore, foi beneficiada com R$ 900 mil em convênios com a pasta da Agricultura.

Outro sócio de Saud em Malta também tem escândalos em sua biografia. Hermany Andrade Júnior, presidente do PTB de Uberaba, é empresário do ramo imobiliário e atuante nos bastidores da vida partidária política do município mineiro. Ao longo dos anos, ele passou por PSDC e PMN até desembarcar na presidência do PTB local, onde ensaiou uma pré-candidatura a prefeito em 2016 que não foi levada adiante.

Nessa mesma eleição, ele foi flagrado em uma gravação em vídeo tentando comprar votos de dois vereadores para que deixassem o páreo em favor do candidato que apoiava. Andrade Júnior ofereceu a eles emprego a parentes e terreno na cidade, mas a proposta culminou em uma condenação na Justiça Eleitoral  por abuso de poder econômico.

Atualmente, a maior parte dos negócios de Hermany Andrade Júnior é no setor de loteamentos e construção de moradias populares, com parceria pública nos financiamentos.

Ter uma offshore não é ilegal pela legislação brasileira, desde que declarada à Receita Federal, assim como seus bens e valores tributados. A Receita não responde a questionamentos sobre uma empresa estar ou não declarada.

A reportagem entrou em contato com todos os citados, mas apenas a JBS respondeu e dizendo que não iria se manifestar.

The post Ricardo Saud, “homem da mala” da Friboi, registrou empresa de jogo do bicho em Malta appeared first on The Intercept.

Cortes em verba hospitalar e demolições na cracolândia mostram o que Doria entende por saúde pública

24 May 2017 - 4:31pm

Se havia alguma dúvida de que João Doria não encarava saúde como uma prioridade, esta semana ela foi sanada. Ao usar força bruta policial para literalmente destruir a cracolândia do centro de São Paulo, o prefeito da capital paulista ignorou duas considerações fundamentais sobre a dependência de crack, ou qualquer outro tipo de droga: a questão é de saúde, e não de segurança. Não é atacando locais de consumo e venda que se resolve o problema. Para confirmar o nível de preocupação do prefeito sobre saúde pública, na sequência, ele mandou reduzir a verba de postos de saúde e hospitais em 7,2%. No início do ano, já havia mandado congelar 25% da receita da secretaria municipal de saúde.

“Não há possibilidade de a Cracolândia voltar”, afirmou o prefeito após a destruição da área, no fim de semana. Além de ferir pessoas durante a ação, seja por brutalidade policial ou simplesmente derrubando paredes por sobre elas, o prefeito não completou nem mesmo a “missão” a que se propôs: acabar com a feira de drogas.

Próxima à região da Luz, onde foi realizada a megaoperação do fim de semana, a Praça Princesa Isabel é um dos pontos onde surgem novas cracolândias.

Foto: Alan White/Fotos Publicas

Em vez de dar fim à cracolândia, a operação fez com que ela se espalhasse pela cidade. Neste momento, “minicracolândias” estão sendo criadas ou expandidas em São Paulo. E o pior: as novas concentrações se encontram em pontos onde a estrutura de apoio aos usuários não é forte como era no centro, em lugares onde não há assistência social regular ou nem mesmo presença de ONGs que apoiam as famílias envolvidas.

Movimento semelhante foi observado em 2012, quando a gestão do então prefeito Gilberto Kassab (PSD) organizou junto ao governo Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) a “Operação Cracolândia”. Já naquele momento, o crescimento de pontos de venda alternativos foi criticado como consequência da ação policial.

“Precisa e cirúrgica para evitar violência”

E qual a saída novamente apontada por Doria, frente à dispersão da cracolândia central? “Assim como na Luz, a ação será precisa e cirúrgica para evitar violência”, afirmou o prefeito. O ataque orquestrado no fim de semana à região da Luz, que o prefeito qualifica como cirúrgico e preciso, foi alvo de críticas feitas por organizações de saúde, de defesa dos direitos humanos e por parte do Ministério Público e da Defensoria Pública. Um documento sobre a operação será entregue à Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos.

Abaixo, é possível verificar como a operação foi tudo, menos uma ação “precisa e cirúrgica para evitar violência”:

Para completar, Doria ainda ordenou a internação compulsória de usuários presos durante a operação. Triste coincidência: em 18 de maio completaram-se 30 anos da Carta da Bauru, documento assinado pelos participantes do II Congresso dos Trabalhadores em Saúde Mental. A carta definiu as diretrizes da luta antimanicomial e que trouxe as questões da Reforma Psiquiátrica Brasileira para seu devido campo: a saúde.

Na carta, profissionais de saúde mental recusavam “o papel de agente da exclusão e da violência institucionalizadas, que desrespeitam os mínimos direitos da pessoa humana”. Em um relatório sobre saúde mental no mundo, de 2001, a Organização Mundial de Saúde incluiu a dependência de drogas e do álcool na lista de transtornos mentais que devem ser tratados sob o prisma da saúde pública.

Em comemoração aos 30 anos da carta, o Grupo de Trabalho de Saúde Mental e Liberdade da Pastoral Carcerária lançou uma nota criticando ações de internação compulsória, como a que viria a ser adotada pelo prefeito paulistano. Dois dias depois, a ação de Doria mostrou que as mesmas posturas criticadas há 30 anos continuam mais do que atuais, conforme criticou o Conselho Federal de Psicologia:

“Esse ‘novo programa’ repete fórmulas ultrapassadas, inadequadas e ineficientes do ponto de vista da saúde mental. Repete o ‘Programa Recomeço’, do governo estadual, e a ‘Operação Sufoco’, da gestão municipal. As três iniciativas têm como princípios o tratamento por internação, inclusive involuntária, em parceria com comunidades terapêuticas mantidas por entidades confessionais, não sendo coincidência o nome ‘Redenção’.”

Foto do topo: Operação policial na Cracolândia, em fevereiro de 2017, já utilizava de truculência policial.

The post Cortes em verba hospitalar e demolições na cracolândia mostram o que Doria entende por saúde pública appeared first on The Intercept.

DEA Lied to Congress About Deadly Raid That Killed Four Hondurans, Government Report Says

24 May 2017 - 2:13pm

The Drug Enforcement Administration repeatedly lied to Congress about fatal shooting incidents in Honduras, including the killing of four civilians during a DEA-led operation, according to a devastating 424-page report released today by the inspectors general for the State and Justice departments. The report depicts how the DEA withheld information from the U.S. ambassador in Honduras, passed incorrect information up the chain of command, repeatedly misrepresented the U.S. role as an adviser in what was actually a U.S.-led operation, recruited an informant to back up the DEA’s version of events and then stuck by the informant’s story despite its “inconsistent and contradictory accounts.” The DEA told Congress that their informant had passed a polygraph test but the report concludes that test was undocumented and “largely useless.”

Most importantly, the report states that the DEA falsely characterized the deaths of four Hondurans as a shootout with drug traffickers despite proof on video that DEA-led forces fired on unarmed civilians. The dead were traveling on a passenger boat to a town called Ahuas, on the remote Mosquito Coast. Almost immediately, the mayor of Ahuas and other Honduran officials protested that the dead were innocent; the DEA maintained that they had been fired upon by drug traffickers. Today, more than five years later, the report confirms that the people of Ahuas were telling the truth. There was no crossfire. It was a DEA agent who ordered a helicopter gunner to open fire on the passenger boat. The four dead Hondurans — Emerson Martínez, Candelaria Trapp, Hasked Brooks Wood, and Juana Jackson — posed no threat. The DEA gave a grossly inaccurate depiction of its own operations to Congress, and let that account stand uncorrected.

It is unclear whether the DEA personnel involved in the Ahuas shootings and the subsequent misrepresentations will face any sanction for their behavior. The inspectors general did not recommend charging any of the agency’s personnel with obstruction of justice or other criminal violations. Instead, they recommended that the DEA improve its internal procedures around reviewing shootings.

“The victims of this crime still await justice,” said Karen Spring, of the Honduras Solidarity Network, in a statement. “There have been no remedies for the victims’ physical and emotional injuries, or for the resulting social and economic hardships sustained by the victims and their families.”

Many elements of the report suggest the DEA doctored its post-shooting reports and applied aggressive and sometimes fatal counter-terrorism tactics to a law-enforcement operation. At best, the agency had a severe case of confirmation bias. “Even as information became available to DEA that conflicted with its initial reporting,” the report states, “including that a passenger boat may have been a water taxi carrying passengers on an overnight trip, DEA officials remained steadfast — with little credible corroborating evidence — that any individuals shot by the Hondurans were drug traffickers who were attempting to retrieve the cocaine … this failure to consider the relevant evidence had several negative consequences.”

An aerial view of the Mosquitia region near the remote community of Ahuas, Honduras, on May 21, 2012.

Photo: Rodrigo Abd/AP

“This report is nothing less than a wholesale indictment of the DEA and Honduran police,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in a statement. “DEA, Honduran, and State Department officials provided Congress with incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading information in order to perpetuate a self-serving narrative that was fundamentally flawed and demeaned the lives of the victims and the reputation of the United States.”

Leahy called on the DEA and State Department “to ensure that those involved are held accountable.”

The report addresses a total of six killings from 2012, when DEA paramilitary squads known as Foreign Advisory Support Teams, or FAST teams, were sent to Honduras to work with local law enforcement on intercepting shipments of cocaine. This was latest in a twenty-year series of military-style operations to staunch the flow of northbound cocaine while in transit. The FAST teams were led by Richard Dobrich, a former Navy SEAL. “There will be several fatalities here,” DEA officials told the U.S. ambassador during the operation’s planning phase, according to the report. “There will be shootings.”

Over the 90-day program, known as Operation Anvil, the DEA led three fatal shootings, with one dead on July 23, one dead on July 3, and the four unarmed Honduran civilians shot and killed on May 11. These included two women, at least one of whom was pregnant, and a fourteen year-old boy, who were traveling upriver on a passenger boat. Several more passengers were gravely injured.

Almost immediately, the mayor of Ahuas protested the killings. The first report from Ahuas, by Alberto Arce and Katherine Corcoran of the Associated Press, claimed that the authorities’ helicopters had “mistakenly fired on civilians.” My own investigation of the Ahuas killings for the New Yorker in 2014 looked at autopsy reports, forensic evidence, and transcripts of interviews with Honduran anti-drug commandos who were at the scene; they backed up the account from the people of Ahuas. The dead were apparently civilians who had the misfortunate of being on a commercial passenger boat heading upriver, in the middle of the night, at the same moment that six members of the DEA-led team were trying to recover a second boat that was loaded with cocaine. There was no evidence to suggest otherwise.

For the next five years, the U.S. government maintained that the killings were the result of a crossfire in Ahuas between the paramilitary team and drug traffickers. There had been “an exchange of gunfire,” according to a 2013 letter from Eric J. Akers of the DEA’s congressional-affairs office, sent to more than fifty members of Congress. An anonymous U.S. official cast doubt on the local account, suggesting that the entire town had ties to narco-traffickers. The DEA had a video of the shooting, which they screened for members of Congress and was viewed by reporters for the New York Times. Dobrich reportedly told Congress that the video was evidence of a crossfire. Nevertheless, the agency refused to make it public. I sued the DEA under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the video; that suit is now before a federal appeals court.

“It’s been five years since the events referenced in the report,” a DEA spokesperson said in a written statement, in response to the new report. “We agree with all of the Inspector General’s recommendations and are working to implement them.”

Top photo: Honduran Navy officers patrol in the Patuca river, near Ahuas, a remote community in La Mosquitia region, Honduras on May 21, 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post DEA Lied to Congress About Deadly Raid That Killed Four Hondurans, Government Report Says appeared first on The Intercept.

Lindsey Graham on Trump Ally Rodrigo Duterte: “This Is Not a Guy We Want to Empower”

24 May 2017 - 11:48am

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the Republican Party’s leading voices on defense and foreign affairs, said Wednesday that it is wrong to endorse the campaign of extrajudicial killing being carried out by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

On Tuesday, The Intercept reported that President Trump called Duterte with the specific goal of congratulating him on the campaign, which Duterte describes as a “drug war.”

“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte at the beginning of their call, according to the transcript obtained by The Intercept. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”

Graham said that any assessment of Duterte’s campaign has to take into account how he’s going about it. “I disagree with the way he’s carrying out the drug war. I disagree with the authoritarian manner with which he’s running the country, but I don’t know what the White House said or did, I wasn’t there. But I can tell you my own view, this is not a guy we want to empower,” Graham told The Intercept. “You just have to stand up for the rule of law.”

Earlier this week, while abroad in Russia, Duterte declared martial law on a portion of the Philippines.

Graham is the chairman of the powerful appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, which controls crucial foreign policy purse strings.

The Obama administration had previously blocked a sale of arms to the national police carrying out Duterte’s executions. That move was made under pressure from Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who said he would block the sale. Earlier this month, Cardin introduced a bill that would place restrictions on such sales, together with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Graham said that he was open to co-sponsoring the measure. “I would certainly be interested in any decisions they make because I respect them both,” he said. “We have a relationship with the Philippines; there’s radical Islamic terrorist groups over there that we’re actually in a fight with. You have to do two things at once: You have to help the Philippine people, and ourselves, by dealing with the terrorism over there before it comes here, but also standing up for your values.”

In his speech this week in Saudi Arabia, Trump promised he would not “lecture” other countries on human rights.

Top photo: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during the “Digong’s Day for Women” event on March 31, 2017.

The post Lindsey Graham on Trump Ally Rodrigo Duterte: “This Is Not a Guy We Want to Empower” appeared first on The Intercept.

Reactions to Manchester Bombing Show How Anti-Muslim Bigots Are “Useful Idiots” for ISIS

24 May 2017 - 11:40am

If you want to defeat ISIS, listen to former ISIS hostage Nicolas Henin. The group is “heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism, of xenophobia … [and] drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media,” the French journalist wrote in November 2015 in the wake of the Paris attacks. “Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned towards finding supporting evidence.”

Get that? Islamophobia plays right into the hands of ISIS. Wittingly or unwittingly, anti-Muslim bigots have become recruiting sergeants for a group they profess to hate and claim to want to destroy. The Islamophobes, to borrow a line from Lenin, are ISIS’s useful idiots.

Consider their reaction to the latest terrorist atrocity: Monday’s suicide bombing at a concert hall in Manchester, England, which killed 22 people, including an 8-year-old girl. Could ISIS, which claimed the horrific attack, have asked for a better response from its useful idiots on the British right?

MailOnline columnist and talk radio host Katie Hopkins — you might call her the U.K.’s Ann Coulter, except with a much lower IQ — has a long history of demonizing Muslims and took to Twitter in the hours after the bombing to demand a “final solution” (she later deleted her Nazi-esque tweet after being reported to the police). Hopkins, who once called Islam “the problem” because it is a “backward religion,” also tweeted that “Western men” should: “Stand up. Rise Up. Demand Action.”

Allison Pearson, a columnist with Britain’s biggest-selling broadsheet newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, who has in the past described Muslim immigrants as coming from “some backward culture,” chimed in too. “We need a State of Emergency as France has,” she tweeted in response to the Manchester massacre. “We need internment of thousands of terror suspects now to protect our children.” Innocent until proven guilty? Please.

Then there is Tommy Robinson, former leader of the far-right English Defence League (think of a British Richard Spencer but, again, with a lesser intellect and a long history of criminality and violence). Robinson arrived in Manchester on Tuesday to accuse British Muslim residents of that city of being “enemy combatants.” They want to “kill you, maim you and destroy you,” he told his YouTube audience of fellow far-right bigots.

You can almost hear them cheering in Raqqa. ISIS wants to drive a wedge between Muslim communities and wider Western society; it wants to pit Muslims against non-Muslims. Nor is this a secret: The group’s leaders have admitted as much in their own publications. More than two years ago, in February 2015, the ISIS online magazine, Dabiq, made clear that one of the main goals of the group’s brutal attacks in the West was to destroy the “gray zone” — of peaceful co-existence between Muslims and non-Muslims — and provoke a backlash. “The Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize and adopt the [infidel] religion … or they … [emigrate] to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens.”

This ISIS grand plan has always required the (perhaps unwitting) support of the group’s useful idiots in the West, the Islamophobes, whose harsh rhetoric and actions help drive marginalized and alienated Muslims into the wide open arms of the jihadists.

The purveyors of anti-Muslim hatred are, of course, unwilling to admit to the central role that they play in the radicalization process. “The terrorists couldn’t give a stuff what I tweet or write or say,” insisted Hopkins in her MailOnline column the day after the Manchester bombing. “They couldn’t care less if we stand divided or pretend to be united.”

If only that were true. Forget Dabiq. Consider instead what Arie Kruglanski, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland who studies radicalization, said after the Paris attacks in November 2015. A growing climate of Islamophobia is what ISIS is “aiming for — to provoke communities to commit actions against Muslims,” he told the Washington Post. “Then ISIS will be able to say, ‘I told you so. These are your enemies, and the enemies of Islam.’”

Another psychology professor who studies Muslim extremists, Jocelyn Bélanger of the University of Quebec in Montreal, agrees. “When people feel a loss of significance — when they are humiliated — that propels them to join a radical group,” he told the Post.

The Islamophobes see themselves as politically incorrect truth-tellers; as bold and blunt opponents of the radicals and the extremists. The reality is that they are the accomplices, the unpaid agents, of those very same radicals and extremists. Every terrorist needs a Katie Hopkins. It is one of the great ironies of our time — those who shout loudest about the threat posed by ISIS are often the biggest propagandists for ISIS.

As my colleague Murtaza Hussain has observed, it is “perverse and counterproductive to lump [the West’s Muslims] together with ISIS and blame them for the group’s actions.” To do so is to “grant the Islamic State a propaganda coup, implicitly endorsing the group’s narrative of Muslims and Westerners collectively at war with one another.”

When ISIS claims that it represents “true” Islam, or depicts Islam as a violent religion, or suggests Western Muslims owe their loyalties to the group and not to the West, the Islamophobes fall over one another to endorse each and every one of these points. Shamefully, the latter don’t pay any attention, for example, to the Muslim cab drivers who ferried survivors home from the Manchester Arena for free, or to the Muslim hospital doctors who worked through the night to treat the wounded. That there must have been young Muslim fans of Ariana Grande who also happened to be attending her concert in Manchester on Monday night when the bomb exploded is perhaps also beyond their comprehension.

The fact of the matter is that ISIS wants to sow division and discord in Western societies, and its useful idiots in the West are only too happy to help it do so. “Cohesion, tolerance — it is not what [ISIS members] want to see,” pointed out former hostage Henin back in 2015. “What they fear,” he concluded, “is unity.”

Top photo: A police officer guards the scene near Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017, in Manchester, England. An explosion occurred as concertgoers were leaving the arena after Ariana Grande had performed.

The post Reactions to Manchester Bombing Show How Anti-Muslim Bigots Are “Useful Idiots” for ISIS appeared first on The Intercept.

Donald Trump’s Pick for EPA Enforcement Office Was a Lobbyist for Superfund Polluters

24 May 2017 - 9:14am

Residents of Hoosick Falls, New York, recently took comfort in EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcements that the agency will be prioritizing the Superfund program. This small village northeast of Albany is one of eight sites the EPA last year proposed adding to the National Priorities List, as the list of polluted sites covered by the Superfund is known, because the community’s drinking water had elevated levels of PFOA, which has been associated with kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and thyroid disease among other health problems.

Since the contamination was discovered in 2014, “there’s been a lot of fear,” said Rob Allen, the mayor of Hoosick Falls. Testing has shown many people in Hoosick Falls, including Allen’s four children, have elevated levels of PFOA in their blood. Allen and others in the town are still awaiting the official Superfund designation, which they hope will help speed the process of cleaning up the pollution and securing a new water source. “We need all the help we can get,” he explained.

Since 1980, Superfund has been the federal government’s answer to the worst cases of toxic pollution. The program assesses giant environmental messes, ranks them according to the hazard they pose the environment or human health, and if they’re dangerous enough adds them to the list and arranges to clean them up. At its best, Superfund removes environmental pollution so sites can be used again and measurably alleviates health dangers. According to one 2011 study published in the American Economic Review, babies living near Superfund sites that had yet to be remediated had a 20 to 25 percent increased rate of birth defects. After the cleanups, the rates of birth defects dropped.

But Superfund’s progress has slowed to a near halt in recent years, in part due to a lack of funding. A tax on polluting industries originally paid into a fund for the cleanups (hence the name Superfund) expired in 1995, leaving regular taxpayers to pick up the tab when the government can’t identify a polluter — or when a polluter doesn’t have enough money to pay.

Since then, as fewer cleanups have been completed, the number of people exposed to dangerous pollution has climbed. In 2010, there were 75 Superfund sites where the government had yet to bring toxic exposure to humans under control. By last year, that number was up to 121, according to the most recent EPA data.

The Hoosic River runs through the village of Hoosick Falls, N.Y. on Jan. 21, 2016.

Photo: Mike Groll/AP

Pruitt announced his plans to emphasize Superfund on a visit to a lead-contaminated public housing site in Indiana in April. On May 22 he reiterated his commitment to the program by announcing a new Superfund Task Force, which will “provide recommendations on how the EPA can streamline and improve the Superfund program.” In an accompanying memo, the EPA administrator once again promised to restore Superfund and the EPA’ s land and water cleanup efforts “to their rightful place at the center of the agency’s core mission.”

But Pruitt’s pledges to protect human health and the environment by focusing on Superfund are belied by his own priorities and personnel choices for the program. One of the administrator’s stated goals for Superfund, to reduce “the administrative and overhead costs and burdens borne by parties remediating contaminated sites,” is shared by groups responsible for the pollution, including the Federal Recycling and Remediation Coalition, a group of companies and trade associations that may be directly affected by EPA’s cleanup rules.

On May 15, the lobbying firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP submitted specific ideas on behalf of FRRC. Among their suggestions: limiting EPA’s review of materials at each stage of a Superfund cleanup; eliminating a requirement that recyclers must notify recipients about chemical constituents in recycled materials; and rescinding a rule restricting the burning of certain paints and solvents.

Albert Kelly, whom Pruitt announced May 22 as his choice to chair the Superfund Task Force, is an Oklahoma banker who has no prior experience with the program or with environmental issues at all, according to his résumé. Kelly, who has donated twice to Pruitt’s campaigns in Oklahoma, has spent the past 33 years working at Spiritbank, which is headquartered in Tulsa, and most recently served as its chairman. The “core competencies” listed on his résumé, which The Intercept obtained by FOIA, include motivational speaking, business development, and “political activity.”

Meanwhile, Susan Bodine, whom Trump nominated on May 12 to be assistant administrator for the EPA’s office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, does have plenty of experience with environmental issues — though most of it representing polluting industries. According to her LinkedIn account, from 2009 until 2015, Bodine was a partner at Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, the same firm that is representing FRRC, the group of industries directly affected by EPA cleanup rules. While at Barnes & Thornburg, Bodine represented the American Forest and Paper Association from 2011 to 2014. Member companies in that industry group have hundreds of EPA enforcement actions against them, including violations of the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.

Bodine’s close ties to these companies make her a poor choice to lead the enforcement office, according to Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. “She is the classic revolving door appointment,” said O’Donnell. “The office of enforcement is responsible for everything — clean air, clean water, toxic waste — the core of our environmental protections. Companies will cut corners if they think they won’t get caught.” Bodine’s nomination comes while the Trump administration is blocking efforts to disclose waivers granted to former lobbyists working in federal agencies and the White House.

Because the enforcement office handles negotiations between the companies responsible for the pollution and the EPA, Bodine would be in a position to decide how extensive some cleanups are — and how much polluters have to spend cleaning them.

Bodine’s past lobbying could also compromise her role with the Superfund program. Seven of the companies that belong to the American Forest and Paper Association are named as responsible parties in dozens of Superfund sites, according to the EPA website. International Paper, one member of the group Bodine represented — whose CEO met with Pruitt last week to discuss jobs, according to a tweet from Pruitt — is a responsible party in 12 Superfund sites.

I met with International Paper CEO Mark Sutton to discuss his role on the White House Manufacturing Jobs Initiative & manufacturing in USA. pic.twitter.com/5E2h5VP58H

— Administrator Pruitt (@EPAScottPruitt) May 18, 2017

According to lobbying records, Bodine also lobbied for Saint-Gobain Containers, a division of Saint-Gobain, one of two companies blamed for contaminating the drinking water in Hoosick Falls, New York. She represented the company from 2010-2014 while she was a partner at Barnes & Thornburg.

That connection would make it inappropriate for her to weigh in on a decision about Hoosick Falls, according to Judith Enck, the former EPA regional administrator for region 2, who oversaw EPA’s work at Hoosick Falls before stepping down in January.

“Once you’ve represented a company, even if it’s not directly on PFOA, you should recuse yourself because there’s the appearance — and likely the actuality — that there’s a conflict of interest,” said Enck.

In a written statement provided to The Intercept, Saint-Gobain emphasized that it does not want its property in Hoosick Falls to be designated a Superfund site.

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics opposes the proposed listing of our McCaffrey Street facility in Hoosick Falls, New York, on the National Priorities List. In our view, the Hazard Ranking System score for the site is based upon several errors and unsound assumptions that result in a far higher ranking than actual conditions at the site merit. We have made good progress with the State of New York in remediating the facility and the potentially impacted water supply wells around it, thereby eliminating any potential health or environmental hazards. Further involvement from the Federal Government, if confirmed as an NPL site, could potentially slow this effort.

It’s important to remember that Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is not a chemical company. We do not and never have manufactured PFOA. The PTFE we use comes from suppliers who in the past incorporated PFOA into some of their products. These suppliers and the US EPA forged an agreement to eliminate PFOA by 2016 in order to reduce the impact on the environment. Despite this, because we are an integral part of the communities where we operate, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics has paid for bottled water for affected residents, funded engineering design studies, and funded granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration systems and Point-of-Entry (POET) filtration systems where applicable.

Susan Bodine, Albert Kelly, International Paper, the American Forest and Paper Association, and the EPA did not respond to requests for comment.

Enck, who said that a federal Superfund designation would help delineate the plume of underground contamination in Hoosick Falls and bring additional resources to the cleanup, is also concerned because the final decision about the proposed Superfund sites, which was expected in March, is overdue. “Every expectation is that the Saint-Gobain site will be listed,” she said. “But we cannot rest easy until it happens.” If she is confirmed, Bodine could potentially have a say about the site’s designation, according to Enck.

“A senior EPA official is always able to weigh in important agency decisions,” said Enck. “She would likely be in the room when the future of the Saint-Gobain site is discussed.”

Other EPA watchers are more concerned about Pruitt’s ability to fulfill his promise to improve the program with fewer resources. “The real threat right now is funding,” said Lenny Siegel, executive director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight. Trump’s budget, released yesterday, calls for cutting the EPA by 31 percent — more than any other agency. The White House document proposed cutting about 30 percent of the Superfund program’s almost $1.1 billion budget, which is itself a reduction from about $2 billion in 1999, according to a 2015 GAO Report.

In testimony before a Senate hearing on Superfund in 2014, Bodine said she didn’t think most problems with the program were due to funding. Instead she blamed some of the delays in cleanups on community members who block access to sites. “If the agency can’t get access to the site, they can’t do the cleanup,” she said, adding that she believed the agency was doing its best.

A confirmation hearing for Susan Bodine is expected shortly and the new Superfund Task Force is due to issue its recommendations by the end of June.

Top photo: Susan Bodine, then with the Environmental Agency, listens to a hearing about chemical plant security in Newark, N.J., on March 19, 2007.

The post Donald Trump’s Pick for EPA Enforcement Office Was a Lobbyist for Superfund Polluters appeared first on The Intercept.

Intercepted Podcast: Donald Trump and His League of Extraordinary Despots

24 May 2017 - 6:01am

Subscribe to the Intercepted podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and other platforms. New to podcasting? Click here.

 

Donald Trump stood in a sea of tyrants, thugs, and dictators and joined in a bizarre group petting of a glowing white orb in Saudi Arabia. And he fit in just perfectly. This week on Intercepted: Professor As’ad Abukhalil dissects Trump’s summit in Saudi Arabia, the ongoing massacre in Yemen, and the plight of the Palestinians. ISIS has taken credit for the terror attack in Manchester, but what role do Trump’s friends in the Middle East play in fueling such horrors? The Intercept’s new D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grim and national security reporter Matthew Cole discuss Gen. Michael Flynn, Erik Prince, and whether anyone in the Trump administration realizes how insane their boss actually is. And singer Steve Earle premieres a new song and discusses his activism against the death penalty.

 

Transcript coming soon.

The post Intercepted Podcast: Donald Trump and His League of Extraordinary Despots appeared first on The Intercept.

Pages