Iran-Contra Part 1: Nicaragua

Hey everyone this is Colin from Salt of the Streets and welcome to my first audio blog post. This will be the first of a multi part series on the political controversy known as Iran-Contra.

For as much as I would like to cover this topic from start to finish in one sitting, as a big fan of history I believe proper context must be given to historical events to truly understand them. With a topic like this which led to one of, if not the biggest, political controversies our nation has even experienced context is paramount to understanding the full story. So I invite you to check out my series about the Iran-Contra affair. A story that spans the globe from the deserts of the middle east to the jungles of central America. CIA covert missions, gorilla warfare, hostages, White House scandal and even a little treason.

So without further adieu, welcome to: Part one of Iran-Contra: Nicaragua.

Lets travel back in time. The year is 1979 and President Jimmy Carter is in the White House, though not for much longer. The multi decade long Cold War is entering a new era, but the United States government is still very concerned and determined to stop the spread of communism across the world.

Down in Central America, nestled between Honduras and Costa Rica lyes the small country of Nicaragua. It’s leader, a US backed dictator named Anastasio Somoza DeBayle is in trouble. As head of the National Guard, he had essentially become the de facto ruler of the country since 1967 after the death of his older brother. But his grasp on power is slipping, and very life is in danger. He is about to become the last of the Somoza family to be President, ending a family dynasty of power dating back to 1936, when his father had first risen to power, with thanks to the US Marine Corp by the way.

His county has been embroiled in deeply violent civil war since the early 1960’s when the Nicaraguan Revolution first began. The Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (F.S.L.N.) known in English as the Sandinista National Liberation Front have grown in strength and number to the point that a governmental overthrow is coming, it’s now just a matter of time.

As far as the United States is concerned, the FSLN were becoming a massive problem. If you’re looking at this situation with contemporary glasses, you may be thinking that the US government would be on-board with helping a peoples revolution to overthrow a nepotist dictatorship like the Somoza’s, but keep in mind that the Somoza family only came to power due to US military involvement in Nicaragua a decade or so earlier.

The real problem the US had with the rise of the FSLN was the fact that they were primarily supported by communist governments such as Cuba, Panama and Venezuela. But of course the strings traced all the way back to Moscow, the proverbial queen bee of Communism. On July 17th 1979 it happened, Somoza stepped down and escaped into exile essentially handing over the reigns of power to the FSLN who began to inject communism and socialism into the county.

Now we introduce the Counter Revolutionists, better known as the Contras. The Contras were actually built up of a great number of various anti-Sandinista rebel groups, the largest of those being the Nicaraguan Democratic Force. Overtime these various rebel group began to merge, ultimately they would from into a group known as the Nicaraguan Resistance, though this didn’t happen until 1987.

In 1980 a man by the name of Ronald Reagan had become President. Reagan was a staunch anti-communist and his administration saw the formation of these loosely grouped bands of anti-Sandinista rebels as an asset and wished to forge a relationship with them. Anti-Sandinista meant Anti-Communist after all, and fighting Communism was one of, if not the greatest foreign policy concern at the time.

There was a problem that the Reagan administration faced when allying with the Contras though. While fighting the Nicaraguan government, they allegedly committed a large number of blatant violations of human rights, carrying out more than 1300 attacks that would be classified today as acts of terror. This is something the Reagan administration downplayed as much as possible, but this is how the contras fought, and there was no amount of downplaying the administration could do to make that fact go away.

From the beginning of there relationship with the US, the contras received the vast majority of there support directly from the United States Government, something they grew to depend on as time went on. That is of course until the all mighty power of the United States Congress put there own foot down with the passing of the Boland Amendment between 1982 & 1984, which essentially stopped governmental assistance to the contras in it’s tracks. But this wouldn’t stop the Reagan administration from fighting back against the spread of the communism. As they saw it, communism was still the greatest threat to American safety and Democracy, and they’d stop at next to nothing to rid the world of it’s cancerous spread.

How’d they do it?

You’ll have to wait for Iran-Contra part two, when we tackle to Iran side of Iran Contra, which comes out January 10th 2019, right here on saltofthestreets.com.

Until then, as always you can find us @saltofthestreets on both instagram and facebook.

Or you can find Don and I directly:

I am @Bigbirdoffie in both the instagrams and twitter machine

Don is @saltofthestreet on twitter and @alpaca_donavan on instagram

Together we are Salt of the Streets and we’re here to bridge that gap between people and information.

Episode 44 is up!

Don is off this week, taking a little R&R before he kicks into full-time fatherhood mode, so we’re bringing you something a little different this week. This is the pilot episode of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. An interview show that focuses on local members of the community. Primarily focused on getting to know the members of your community and the roles they play in it.

This week’s episode is Joseph Micheal O’Conner, a licensed public land surveyor, also known as a PLS. Don’t know what a surveyor is, or what they do? You’ve come to the right place. It was a great time sitting down with him, he’s a very fun and interesting guy. So please, enjoy this pilot episode of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, and let us know what you think.

As always all our podcast episodes post at Soundcloud but can be found anywhere else you like to receive your podcasts. The full length video will be found on our Salt of the Streets YouTube page. This video will post tomorrow Tuesday 18th of December 2018.

Please let us know what you think of the episode either right here in the comments OR on any of our social medias:

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Music in this episode comes courtesy of bensound.com

Rain Check & Something New

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

During last weeks discussion on George H. W. Bush we brought up the political scandal known as Iran-Contra, and I announced I’d be writing a blog post on it. Well…this week’s post will not be on Iran-Contra, though it will come during my next round just after Christmas. Don’t worry though, the wait will be worth it.

With Don being out this week to prepare for the arrival of the newest member of the Salt of the Streets family, I’ve been hard at work on some new content for you all. In the spirit of Don’s interview with Mackrayz from The Upper Left, I will be conducting an interview with an amazing individual from the local community! Someone near and dear to both my professional and personal life. I’m really excited to reveal not only an incredibly interesting, knowledgeable and hilarious local individual but we’ll also be sheding some light on a little known profession in the trades, one that may be in jeopardy of slipping away.

In keeping with the origins of the Salt of the Streets, this first pilot episode of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” will focus on getting to the true nature of real, everyday people in the community. We’ll cover everything from who they are, what they do, why they do it, why it’s important for you to learn about it and more.

The show will flow naturally, as all interviews should, but we’ll cover aspects of the interviewee’s life, both professional and personal, their point of view on living and growing up in the bastion of liberty known as the United States of America and of course how they pursue happiness, an endless pursuit we all share.

Don and I will be back together next week for some more standard Salt of the Streets action. Until then look forward this new thing we’re going to test out, it will drop on our normal Salt of the Streets Podcast stream so please just let us know what you think.

See you all again soon.

Some context on Crimea and the seizing of Ukrainian ships by the Russian Federation.

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union died in 1953. It was Nikita Khrushchev who took the reins of leadership over the massive Communist state. Shortly after his elevation to head of the Soviet State, Khrushchev began what is commonly referred to as a “de-Stalinization” period, a major part of which ended in “gifting” the province of Crimea to the Republic of Ukraine in 1954.

As told by the Soviet newspaper Pravda on Feb. 27, 1954:

“Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet transferring Crimea Province from the Russian Republic to the Ukraine Republic, taking into account the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic ties between Crimea Province and the Ukraine Republic, and approving the joint presentation of the Presidium of the Russian Republic Supreme Soviet and the Presidium of the Ukraine Republic Supreme Soviet on the transfer of Crimea Province from the Russian Republic to the Ukraine Republic.”

This was an interesting move from the Soviet state considering, in one way or another, Crimea had been part of the greater Russian Empire for over a century. Never the less, it happened. Fast forward to 2014, the Soviet Union has fallen and a new modern superpower known as the Russian Federation stands in its place. On February 27th, unmarked and masked Russian soldiers moved into Crimea and took control of strategic targets including the Parliament building. By March 16th a pro-Russian government had been installed and had declared independence and on the 18th of March 2014, Russia had formally incorporated Crimea into the Russian Federation. To date, the international community has condemned the annexation of Crimea and has refused to recognize it as a part of the Russian Federation.

Over this past weekend yet another Russian provocation has developed, this time on the waters of the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea. Russian forces had fired on and seized 3 Ukrainian naval ships. On Monday, the F.S.B. (Russian Federal Security Service) said that border patrol boats had seized the Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea using weapons to force them to stop. The Ukrainian ships included two smaller armored artillery ships and a tug boat. The ships were supposedly heading to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol via the Sea of Azov after leaving from the city of Odessa. The Azov is landlocked but for the exception of a narrow passage between Russia and the recently annexed Crimea. The waters are supposed to be a shared territory between the two nations according to a treaty signed in 2003. However, after the annexation of Crimea, Russia soon set to work, building a bridge that runs the water gap between Russia and Crimea. To help stop the Ukrainian ships from passing through, the Russians placed a large cargo ship broadside between the bridges underpass effectively blocking the only sea route to there destination. Soon the Russians had captured the ships and there crew. The 24 members of the Ukrainian ships crews are now being held in a 2 month pre-trial confinement.

Many United Nations officials including our very own U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley condemned Russia for the act. Haley called it “another reckless Russian escalation”.

For now this is a developing story and will, I’m sure, continue to evolve throughout the coming days, weeks and months.

Don’t forget to tune in to the upcoming episode of the Salt of the Streets Podcast to hear more on what Don and myself think about the whole situation.

The Camp Fire Tragedy

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

It’s midway through November and as Thanksgiving approaches, the weather here in the great Pacific Northwest has been pretty fantastic given the time of year. In New York City the first winter storm system brought a blanket of snow, while California on the other hand has suffered a horrific tragedy at the hands of wildfire.

Approximately 10 miles east of Chico California sat the town of Paradise. In local folklore it’s a town named after an old saloon called “pair-o’-dice”, but for its 26,000 plus residence, I’m sure they just knew it as home. Last Thursday a wildfire broke out and thanks to the fabled and now dreaded “Santa Ana Winds” within no time at all the town of Paradise found itself ablaze in a hellish nightmare.

It’s being called the “Camp Fire”, and as of writing this it’s also being called California’s deadliest wildfire. It’s been one week since the blaze first started back on Thursday November 8th and the official CAL-FIRE site shows it as only 40% contained. To date we’re seeing the death toll at 63 civilian fatalities and 3 injuries but the list of people still unaccounted for is somewhere between 130-300 but these numbers continue to fluctuate wildly from day to day. Unfortunately all of these numbers will probably continue to rise as the days and weeks go on.

It’s being reported that some 90% of the town’s residences has been turned to ash. A total of 8,756 residences and 260 commercial buildings have been destroyed and another 15,500 buildings are still considered threatened according to CAL-FIRE. Living in a town with a population half of what Paradise’s is, I can’t even fathom the true physical manifestation of this disasters fallout, it seems totally unreal for someone like me who has never been witness to a disaster such as this.

Investigating the cause of most wildfires can be a difficult and time consuming process and as of now we have no idea what caused the fire to break out. There is however one thing we know for a fact about this fire, and that is simple. The people of Paradise need assistance. By simply punching in “camp fire relief” into google, a huge number of charities including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army can be found. Money, clothing, hygiene essentials, they pretty much need everything and anything to help these people.

The large craft brewery Sierra Nevada, which is actually based right next to Paradise in Chico California has started a relief fund. The best resource I’ve found to help is through a link below, if want to get involved and help out the relief effort your about 2-3 clicks away. It’s run through Golden Valley bank and the link will bring you right to a list of relief funds you can support directly. As pictures and videos of the ashy ruins of Paradise continue to flood across the internet and television the need for any kind of relief becomes more and more visually apparent.

Golden Valley Bank Community Foundation:

https://www.goldenvalley.bank/Community-Foundation.aspx

To follow up to date information check out the CAL-FIRE website:

http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents/incidentdetails/Index/2277

The Squirrel Hill Shooting

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

During last weeks grab bag session on the podcast we brought up the horrible shooting that took place at the Squirrel Hill synagogue but didn’t dive into it, it had taken place the morning of the cast and it was just too early to accurately report much of anything except for the fact that it did happen. The traditional week long period of mourning known to the English-speaking Jewish community as “sitting shiva” hasn’t yet completed but many details have come forth as investigations are running there course.

The attack came on the morning of Saturday the 27th of October 2018. During a morning Jewish service a 46-year-old man who worked as a long-haul trucker burst into the Squirrel Hill synagogue, which is outside of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and began shooting at the synagogue’s members. The incident lasted approximately 20 minutes leaving 11 people dead and left six people injured, including four police officers. After investigating it was reported that the crime seems to be a blatant anti-Semitic hate crime. The suspect eventually surrendered to authorities and is now in custody. On Thursday he, in a brief arraignment in federal court, plead not guilty to the 44-count indictment handed down by federal prosecutors. This past week has seen many funerals take place, services of remembrance and even a condolence visit by the President of the United States.

Before we part ways this week I wanted to make a point. Though the previous two paragraphs were lacking in color and emotion I would like to point out that never did I once reveal the suspects name or post a picture of his face. If you’ve listened to Don and I talk about mass shooters before, you know that we will not reveal names or post pictures of these pieces of human debris. We feel strongly that any notoriety these people seek must not be achieved. There names and faces should be lost to history forever, never to be remembered. We should remember what happened, when it happened, where it happened and why it happened. We should feel pain and loss for those whose lives were stolen away from them, there community, there family and friends. Choosing to broadcast the perpetrators name and face gives them a chance to gain some sort of sick notoriety and could allow them and there crimes to gain infamy. Though it’s just a simple example, I, with no journalistic background, can present the situation without revealing a name or a face, I feel like it’s just the moral thing to do.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but if I can do it I see absolutely no reason the “real” media outlets, including some of the most respected in the world, can’t do the same thing. We’ve seen a great number of “alternative” media outlets including, a kind of late to the party, Ben Shapiro take this stance, refusing to show faces or reveal names. With any luck this trend will catch onto bigger and bigger news outlets. There are about a million and one reason I could point to as to why the more main-stream media outlets don’t do this, but that is a completely different blog post all together. For now, we’ll leave it at that, and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Leakers and Reporters, where do we draw the line? Or do we?

Written By: Colin Offenbacker

On Wednesday this week, news began to break about yet another “leaker” coming from the top tiers of our governmental bureaucracy being arrested for distributing sensitive information. This time it was Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser at the Treasury Departments Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. She was was arrested and charged with unauthorized disclosure of Suspicious Activity Reports and conspiracy to make such unauthorized disclosures by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. On Wednesday she was released on $100,000 bond and ordered to appear in court next month. Each of the two charges carry a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in prison.

The documents released are what is called “Suspicious Activity Reports” also known as SARs. In short they are used by financial institutions to flag possible illegal transactions, which Edwards stored on a flash drive. According to the Department of Justice, the leaked SARs were linked to the Robert Muller investigation. Among the numerous disclosed SARs some were related to the accused Russian spy Maria Butina, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his long time business partner Rick Gates. In the indictment handed down from federal prosecutors it said “…the flash drive files appear to contain thousands of SAR’s, along with other highly sensitive material relating to Russia, Iran and the terrorists group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), among other things. Multiple files also bear labels referencing Paul Manafort and Reporter-1’s name.”

Though, the reporter isn’t named in the indictment, reporter-1 seems to be someone from BuzzFeed News. A string of articles released via BuzzFeed News seem to corroborate this, I’ve attached links below to see for yourself if interested.
This whole situation isn’t really new in our contemporary news cycle, in fact DOJ investigations of leakers is up nearly 800%. I’ve said as much on the podcast before but I would like there to be no leaks in our government, I would also like it if there was never a “need” for such leaks, but given the current political and social climate I can at least understand where the drive to leak comes from. What I really want to focus on here though is the relationship between reporters and these would be leakers.

After reading through some of these articles in question, I’m torn by many questions, whether or not “we” as the public really need all of the information, whether or not the articles are written to promote a political agenda or perhaps it’s just the free-press doing there jobs. I’m sure that during the investigation into Ms. Edwards, any nefarious activity on the part of “report-1” would have been uncovered if any existed, which would rule out any coercive activity on the side of the press in this situation.
This however leaves me with another question, a question of ethics. To front load this a little, there is a very stark difference between a leaker and a so called whistle blower, and for the purposes of this blog post I’m going to assume that we know the difference between the two. With that in mind, does the press have the ethical responsibility to publish known illegally obtained documents, like those in this particular court case? Or perhaps the opposite?

I feel like I could easily make arguments on both sides of this situation and perhaps Don and I will talk more about it on the podcast soon. For now I feel like I’m just left with more and more questions. What is in it for leakers like Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards? Like James Wolf, a former intelligence committee staffer who just earlier this week plead guilty to leaking a subpoena? It’s fairly simple to see what’s in it for the press, a scoop no one else will get, a chance to tell a story no one else would know, there’s a million reasons there, and some might even say an ethical duty to relay it to the public.

With that, I think this is some great conversation material so I’ll leave the ball in your court. Leave us a reply in the comments and let us know what your take is on leaks, leakers and the press running stories on them. Do you like leaks? Are all leaks good? Are no leaks good? Let us know what you think! And of course don’t forget to catch the podcast when it drops on Monday or catch the video podcast when it hits YouTube on Tuesday to see if your comments make it on the show!

https://www.redstate.com/streiff/2018/10/17/senior-treasury-official-indicted-leaking-secret-information-buzzfeed-wont-last/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/17/politics/treasury-official-charged-with-leaking-docs-related-to-russia-manafort/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/senior-treasury-employee-charged-with-leaking-documents-related-to-russia-probe/2018/10/17/74f67faa-d226-11e8-83d6-291fcead2ab1_story.html?utm_term=.c928f40f7058

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/treasury-official-arrested-charged-leaking-data-russia-probe/story?id=58580073