Spy Game. Former US military intelligence operative charged. Espionage

Excerpted from The Guardian and Deutsche Welle 2.13.2019

Above Photo. Mata Hari

A former US air force intelligence officer who defected to Iran in 2013 has been charged with espionage, giving away the identity of a US agent and other secrets.

Monica Witt, aged 39, was a cryptologist and a counter-intelligence investigator for the US Air Force for more than 10 years before working as an intelligence analyst for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton for five months in 2008 and doing other private sector work.

According to charges unsealed on Wednesday by the Department of Justice, she defected to Iran in August 2013, taking with her details of US counter-intelligence agents she had worked with who were then targeted by Iranian hackers, four of whom are named in the indictment and charged alongside Witt.

Monica Witt 2.13.2019

Following her defection to Iran in 2013,  the Department of Justice alleged in its indictment,  “Ms. Witt was recruited by Iran as part of a program that targets former intelligence officers and others who have held security clearances. Following her defection to Iran in 2013, she is alleged to have revealed to the Iranian government the existence of a highly classified intelligence collection program and the true identity of a US intelligence officer, thereby risking the life of this individual.”

Witt served as an counterintelligence and Farsi linguistic specialist, working as a special agent of the Air Force Office of Special Investigation from 1997 until 2008. After leaving the armed forces, she worked as a Defense Department contractor.

The former agent was “granted high-level security clearances and was deployed overseas to conduct classified counterintelligence missions,” according to the Justice Department. An FBI official said the Bureau warned her that she was vulnerable to Iranian recruitment.

Monica Witt DW 2.13.2019

The indictment suggests Witt defected for ideological motives, and was recruited when she visited Iran in February 2012 to attend a conference on US cultural influence called “Hollywoodism”.

The conference was organised by an group called New Horizon, which was put under US sanctions on Wednesday for allegedly serving as a front from the Quds Force, the external arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC-QF).



Nazi White Supremacists Indicted by DOJ. Conspired to Kidnap, Maim and Kill.

Excerpted from New York Times 2.13.2019

Federal prosecutors in Arkansas announced racketeering charges against 54 people who they say belong to a white supremacist gang that kidnapped, maimed and tried to kill to protect its drug-trafficking operations.

An indictment unsealed on Tuesday describes the gang, the New Aryan Empire, as a highly organized outfit that sold “copious amounts” of methamphetamine around the Arkansas River Valley. Its leaders kept members in line with threats and acts of violence, and the gang viciously attacked people it suspected of collaborating with the authorities, prosecutors wrote.

“The N.A.E. is reprehensible in its admiration for Nazi imagery and racist views, but even more alarming are the crimes and violence perpetrated by these defendants,” said David Rybicki, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

New Aryan Empire began in a county prison in Russellville in 1990, and was affiliated with the Aryan Brotherhood, the indictment charges. It quickly grew and expanded outside of prison as members were released, and they collaborated with White Aryan Resistance, or WAR, in the drug trade, according to prosecutors.

The United States attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Cody Hiland, said his office was prosecuting the case using the RICO law, the federal statute enacted in 1970 to combat organized crime. The law — its full name is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — allows prosecutors greater flexibility to hold anyone who is part of a criminal enterprise responsible for its acts.

The superseding indictment unsealed on Tuesday adds 10 defendants and additional charges to an indictment announced in October 2017. At that time, the authorities said that investigators had seized more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine, 69 firearms and $70,000 in drug proceeds.

The authorities announced the new charges at the Police Department in Russellville, about 75 miles northwest of Little Rock, where the authorities said the group — believed to have 5,000 members — was founded.

Warhol. Star of the Silken Screen

Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again

an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, November 12, 2018–March 31, 2019; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, May 18–September 2, 2019; and the Art Institute of Chicago, October 20, 2019–January 26, 2020
New York Review of Books – David Salle  2.21.2019

In the 1970’s, impecunious and unknown, the only way I could get into the legendary Studio 54 was under the sponsorship, so to speak, of someone older and more established. The velvet rope parted only one time; it wasn’t the night Bianca Jagger rode across the dance floor on a white horse, but it was close.

There was a balcony where you could go if you were seriously tripping, as I was, to get out of the mayhem. That night the rows of theater seats were empty except for a few couples making out in the back. I collapsed into a chair. When my eyes adjusted to the dark, I became aware of someone else in my row. There he was, solitary in the shadows, standing with his arms crossed and one hand to his chin, staring at the revelry below. The trademark wig, in the pulsing light of the dance floor, looked not so much silver as made of straw. He glanced at me briefly, seemed about to speak, changed his mind. I was of no interest to him, just another stoned kid.

Art Institute of Chicago/© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

Andy Warhol: Mao, 1972. Acrylic, silkscreen ink, and graphite on linen, 14 feet 8½ inches x 11 feet 4½ inches.

Andy Warhol combined social and pictorial intelligence in a way not seen in this country since John Singer Sargent. In one of the most unexpected artistic transformations of the last century, he found a way to make a highly synthetic, semi mechanized kind of painting feel authentic. His attitude and posture, his public persona, and his forays into film making and other media were radical in the world of high art, but his aesthetic inclinations were more traditional. They harked back to, and partially bridged, two widely divergent tendencies in American art: social realism and abstraction, the Yankee peddler and the Transcendentalist.


Reprehensible Attack on Free Speech

February 11, 2019

The scurrilous attacks on Ilhan Omar are shameful. The Congresswoman is stating a long held Truism. American politicians will vilify anyone who dares to speak up in favor of Palestinian civil rights. These politicians are so wedded to the State of Israel that its government can commit any outrage and be assured it will not be held accountable by its protectors in American government.

Ilhan Omar 2.12.2019

American Flag Photo:  Lee Heidhues – 10.12.2018 Frankfurt, Germany







Jewishness, Queerness, Homophobia and Anti-Semitism

February 11, 2019

At the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum Liz and I saw  “Show Me As I Want to Be Seen.”

How do we depict “the self” if it is unknowable, inherently constructed, and ever-changing? How does the concept of portraiture shift when categories are in crisis and visibility itself is problematic? Jewish thought on performed and fluid identity can be interpreted in the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible, an archetypal story of an empowered declaration of Jewish identity. Likewise, the Talmudic notion of svara is a potent entry-point to Jewish practices of self-determination, themes that animate Show Me as I Want to Be Seen.

Taking the work of French Jewish artist and writer Claude Cahun (1894–1954) and her lifelong lover and collaborator Marcel Moore (1892–1972) as its starting point, Show Me as I Want to Be Seen examines the empowered representation of fluid and complex identity. Cahun (born Lucy Schwob) and Moore (born Suzanne Malherbe) were pioneers in their bold representations of an unfixed self. This exhibition positions their work in dialogue with ten contemporary artists working in painting, sculpture, photography, video, and 3-D animation. The contemporary artists in the exhibition—Nicole Eisenman, Rhonda Holberton, Hiwa K, Young Joon Kwak, Zanele Muholi, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Gabby Rosenberg, Tschabalala Self, Davina Semo, and Isabel Yellin—also address notions of the opaque, constructed, and shifting self.


Following a tour of the exhibit we visited the CJM library where Liz found the following.

Queer Theory and the Jewish Question – David Boyarin, Daniel Itz Kovitz and Ann Pellegrini

Columbia University Press – New York, Copyright 2003

Explores the relationship between Jewishness and Queerness, Homophobia and Anti-Semitism, Queer Theory and Theorizations of Jewishness.

Stereotypes of the Jew frequently underwrite pop cultural and scientific notions of the Homosexual.

There may be just something queer about the Jew. And something well, racy, about the Homosexual.

The popular notion that Jews embodied non-normative sexual and gender categories is long-standing.

CJM II 2.11.2019



Typical GOP Dog Whistle. Leader Slams Rep. Ilhan Omar

Disgraceful American political behavior. Members of both parties have been intimidated for too long.  For a Muslim congresswoman to speak out in behalf of Palestine and  say a negative word about Israel opens her up to vicious attacks. Israel is not sacrosanct.  Congresswoman Ilhan is to be applauded for having the courage to voice her opinions and telling the truth to power.

Excerpted from Haaretz 2.10.2019

The Republican leader in the U.S. House of Representatives said he would take action against two Democrats who have sharply criticized Israel if the Democratic majority did not do so.

“If they do not take action I think you’ll see action from myself,” Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, said according to Capitol Hill reporters writing for a number of newspapers. “This cannot sustain itself. It’s unacceptable in this country.”

It’s not clear what statements McCarthy particularly found offensive, but both lawmakers embrace the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, and both have been accused of tweets that cross the line to anti-Semitism:  Rashida Tlaib in January when she appeared to accuse senators of dual loyalty for advancing a bill that would protect states penalizing commercial Israel boycotts; and Ilhan Omar in 2012 when she said Israel was “hypnotizing” the world. Omar has in recent days apologized multiple times for that tweet.


A Rip on Fashion Black and Blind Bias

Commentary by Liz Heidhues 2.10.2019

Not unusual for luxury fashion houses to evoke negative stereotypes that mock  “da peoples”. These photos taken at Ka De We in Berlin, 2017 show how Gucci removes blindness from the realm of the ordinary world and places the disability in a limbo of abnormality – portraying blind people as seeing nothing at all. It is a disparaging image.  “Blackface” caricatures displayed by politicians in Virginia have triggered Spike Lee’s call to boycott Gucci and Prada over their exploitation of blackface.

Berlin II 5.13.2017

Photos: Liz Heidhues at Ka De We, Berlin 5.13.2017