Excellent source of Boston Bombing photos:
Excellent source of Boston Bombing photos:
By Atul BHARDWAJ (India)
American democracy appears to be in jeopardy. Irrespective of the political dispensation at the White House, the policy of promoting proxy wars and covert military operations across the globe continues to mutate.
Any nation that decides to exercise its sovereign right to protect its citizens from armed insurgents incurs Washington’s wrath. America wants to permanently amend the rules of the game by stating that a nation’s right to protect is subordinate to the international community’s responsibility to Protect (R2P). Syria is the latest in the long list of nations that is suffering to sustain American imperialism.
R2P is the new name for humanitarian intervention, a norm adopted by the UNO in 2005. According to Gareth Evans, R2P equips everyone in the international community to prevent the “catastrophic human rights violations taking place behind sovereign state walls,” with “coercive military action as a last resort, not a first.”
The problem with analysts like Gareth is that their vision permits them to peep through the walls of sovereignty but not through the iron curtain of the empire that adheres to the doctrine of Instigate to Intervene (I2I). It is through use of such dubious norms and instigations that America attacked Libya and is now in the process of destabilizing Syria. Russia, China and Iran are the three countries preventing the Western military juggernaut to roll over Syria completely.
In an open defiance of well established international practices, Washington is blatantly using Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE to lead an armed insurgency inside Syria. As a result the three-year-old dissent in Damascus is now an international problem. The Western media, with an agenda to flare up the situation in Syria began beaming in the misdemeanors of Bashar Al-Assad and his dynastic rule; projecting the opposition as victims of political atrocity.
Political struggle is a part and parcel of any state. The problem begins when political fissures are exploited by external actors. This is exactly what has happened in Syria where the government’s legitimate actions against the opposition-armed militancy are being dubbed as human rights violations.
The branding of Assad as a tyrant is a ruse to plunge the nation into a war of attrition. Since the beginning of January 2012, the C-130 transport aircraft loaded with weapons have been regularly taking off at the American military base in Qatar to land at Turkish airports. From the airports, the arms consignments travel by road to rebel-military camps on the Syria-Turkey border.
The NATO’s encouragement to Syrian rebels is not limited to moral and material support; the NATO countries are also in the forefront to mobilize manpower to augment the foot soldiers of the Free Syria Army (composed of Syrian military officers who have defected from their parent outfit, a bunch of mercenaries and Al-Qaeda terrorists). According to a study by King’s college London, “Hundreds of Europeans have travelled to Syria since the start of the civil war to fight against the country’s President, Bashar al-Assad…600 individuals from 14 countries including the UK, Austria, Spain, Sweden and Germany had taken part in the conflict since it began in 2011. European fighters made up to between 7% and 11% of the foreign contingent in Syria, which ranged between 2,000 and 5,500 people.”
America has anointed the main opposition party, Syrian National Coalition (SNC) to occupy the official Syrian seat at the Arab League. It is perhaps for this reason that Moaz al-Khatib the former leader of SNC, admitted, “We thank all the governments who supported us, but the role to be played by the United States is much bigger.” To democratize the instigation to intervene, and retain American control, the US has appointed Ghassan Hitto, an IT professional from Dallas, US, as the head of the planned interim government.
The imperial American obduracy flows from the ideological belief that the nation-states’ ‘monopoly over organized violence’ is not a right that can be exercised without the approval of the empire. Thereby meaning that the states are authorized to use violence within their own territory, only to protect those people certified as victims by the empire. Any violence against the American certified victims is branded as human rights violations and genocide.
The Western fetish for R2P and their so-called ‘good intentions’ have already caused mayhem in the lives of ordinary Iraqi or Libyan. The Russian President Putin says,
“The state is falling apart, Inter-ethnic, inter-clan and inter-tribal conflicts continue.”
However, the Americans will not abandon R2P because it is a tool to re-order the states in accordance with what Stephen Gill has identified as “new constitutionalism – imposition of new constitutional and quasi-constitutional political and legal frameworks – with respect to the state and the operation of strategic, macroeconomic, microeconomic and social policy.”
Atul Bhardwaj is a researcher at School of Liberal Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m amazed California taxpayers want to accept cutbacks in the courts ($1 billion in judicial budget cuts the past five fiscal years and a $3.7 million deficit this year), higher college tuitions, furloughed workers and other public service cuts rather than address the real underlying problem: our sentencing laws, especially for drug offenses.
Fifty percent of all federal inmates are incarcerated for drugs. One in every 30 people is under some form of corrections supervision nationwide. Sixty-seven percent of Kern County’s general fund goes to criminal justice. California spends $184 million a year (and rising) trying to execute a handful of inmates on death row.
When do we admit we are a police state? Until government and society address the underlying problem of prison overcrowding — as Portugal’s reformed drug laws did — and accept the fact long sentences don’t deter crime, we’ll only get more reduced public services.
Government likes to shift things around (prison realignment) and doesn’t try to solve the underlying problem. District Attorney Lisa Green’s recent recommendation: “Someone needs to take a hard look” at whether another prison or two can be built. The last one, in Delano, cost $850 million.
From Mr Marc McDonald.
Sir, In “Right about Britain, Europe and nearly everything” (Comment, April 9), Niall Ferguson writes that Margaret Thatcher was “right about most things”. If this is true, why is Thatcher not fondly remembered today by most British people?
Thatcher’s central economic policy was to deregulate virtually everything, slash social services to the bone and embrace hardcore, dog-eat-dog capitalism. But today who advocates this sort of thing, outside of perhaps a dwindling number of Tea Party extremists in the US?
Prof Ferguson attacks “left-leaning Brits” for being supposedly wrong about Thatcher. But as I recall, Thatcher’s foes predicted that her policies would decimate the middle class. They have been vindicated.
A great deal of the economic prosperity of the Thatcher years was really more because of the North Sea oil bonanza, rather than the Iron Lady’s policies.
Outside of the US, few nations have ever embraced Thatcher’s slash-and-burn methods. In continental Europe today, for example, few people want anything to do with “Anglo-American” capitalism. The same is true of much of today’s Latin America.
As far as Thatcher’s crushing of the unions and deregulating the economy, I would challenge Prof Ferguson as to whether even this was necessarily a good thing.
Germany, for example, still has some of the most powerful unions in the world, as well as a heavily regulated economy. And yet Germany today still has a strong middle class and a world-beating high-technology manufacturing base. Germany is one of the world’s leading capital surplus nations, while Britain runs massive current account deficits. And yet Germany accomplished its enviable economic success by rejecting the Thatcher/Reagan economic model.
Marc McDonald, Fort Worth, TX, US
[If the Democratic Party activist, who spied on McConnell had actually recorded malicious plans to lie about the "flaky" Hollywood actress, rather than simply catching the politicians discussing the known negatives about the little "briar-hopper," (Ohio slang for Kentuckian, Tennesseans are "ridge-runners"), then this all might have turned-out differently. There was no slander, if they were telling the truth.]
“The ‘flaky’ actress ‘openly supports’ President Obama. She’s an ‘out of touch’ Hollywood liberal. She once said San Francisco is her ‘American city home’and has a cellphone with a 415 prefix. She’s against coal, for cap-and-trade. She supports Obamacare, abortion rights and gay marriage. She views Christianity as a ‘vestige of patriarchy.’ She enjoys ‘native faith practices’ and has used the phrase ‘Brother Donkey’ and ‘Sister Bird’ to describe animals’…. And then comes the rough stuff: ‘This sounds extreme,’ says a voice on the tape, ‘but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.’….excerpt from a Judd speech:’The last time I came home from a trip, I absolutely flipped out when I saw pink fuzzy socks on a rack. I mean, I can never anticipate what is going to push me over the edge.’”–LA Times
The left-wing organization reported to be behind the alleged illegal wiretapping of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office is not, as some media coverage suggests, a an independent agent operating but a group with close ties to the Democratic Party.
In fact Shawn Reilly, the executive director of Progress Kentucky, the controversial super PAC allegedly involved in the recording, is a notable Democratic Party activist and veteran community organizer.
If Reilly has ceased to be a senior Democratic Party official, it is a very recent development.
Reilly attended the 2012 Democratic national convention in Charlotte, N.C, describing himself in a photo on his Twitter account as a delegate to the convention. He also describes himself as a delegate in another photo that shows him in a television screen grab from CNN coverage of the convention.
“Before starting Progress Kentucky, he was a member of the executive committee of the state Democratic Party,” according to a Huffington Post article from January that Progress Kentucky posted on its own website.
Although Reilly appears to be a member of the Democratic Party establishment, media outlets are now propagating a version of the illegal bugging story in which Democratic officials claim to have been blindsided by a scandal foisted on them by an unaccountable outside group.
Jacob Conway, a member of the executive committee of the state Democratic Party in Jefferson County, Kentucky, told Fox that two Progress Kentucky leaders admitted to him that they secretly recorded a February strategy meeting McConnell held with aides. The senator and campaign staffers discussed the approaching campaign and the political vulnerabilities of actress Ashley Judd, who at the time was considering running against McConnell next year.
Conway identified the two leaders as Reilly and a man named Curtis Morrison.
“I don’t know why they were at the grand opening of his campaign office. … They overheard the conversation going on,” Conway said. “To me it was an extremely tacky conversation … but it was a private conversation nonetheless.”
Conway added, “They told me they were there. They told me they were in the hallway. They have a recording. So you know, you can draw your own conclusions.”
Conway said he came forward because he didn’t want the unfolding scandal to hurt the Democratic Party.
Reilly previously worked as an organizer for a left-wing anti-war group.
In 2007 he was a “field organizer” for the Iraq Summer Campaign, a project of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.
Daily Kos diarist “briansmith” brags that the group silenced McConnell when he tried to make a speech at a public event in 2007. “The din of opposition was so great that Mitch bailed from the podium in mid-sentence,” he writes.
According to his LinkedIn bio, Reilly became executive director of Progress Kentucky in January 2013. From August 2008 to January 2013 he was a financial advisor in the Louisville office of asset management firm Waddell & Reed.
Progress Kentucky has certainly been stirring the pot lately.
In February, the super PAC received a warning letter from the Federal Election Commission after failing to disclose donors and expenditures.
Progress Kentucky was also accused of racism after its tweets mocked the Chinese ethnicity of McConnell’s wife, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
Vote to break a threatened filibuster on gun control doesn’t end the debate — it only begins it.
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 68 to 31 Thursday morning to move forward on a gun safety bill, breaking a threatened filibuster from conservative Republicans who wanted to draw out debate on a measure that they say threatens their Second Amendment rights.
The vote was just the first step in what could be a weeks-long saga fraught with procedural perils and subject to a barrage of amendments from both sides.
But it ensures an open debate on gun control for the first time in nearly a decade, and four months after 26 children and adults were shot and killed by a gunman bearing a semi-automatic rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“We’ve got the attention of the American people, and frankly, the world,” Majority Leader Harry Reid said after the vote, as families of Sandy Hook victims watched, hands over mouths, from a gallery.
The vote — on “cloture,” or closing debate and allowing a bill to come to the floor — was one of the most-watched procedural votes in recent history. The National Rifle Administration said it would take the vote into account in sending out pre-election letter grades.
It also broke some party and regional lines. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., voted to move forward with the bill despite his “A+” rating from the NRA. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., voted against.
The 16 Republican senators voting to move forward were Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dean Heller of Nevada, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
A trio of conservative GOP senators — Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas — said they forced the filibuster-breaking “cloture” vote because the legislation was unfinished, and no one has seen the final language of a key amendment.
“We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it,” they said in a joint statement sent out just before the vote.
Even with the 60 votes necessary to proceed on the gun bill, Senate rules require 30 hours of debate. That time is often routinely waived — but a single senator can insist on allowing the full time for arguments. Reid said Thursday morning that senators from both sides are “waiting in the wings” to offer amendments.
First up: a proposal from Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would expand background checks to guns shows and Internet sales, but exclude many of the person-to-person transfers that President Obama wanted to be covered. That amendment will come up for debate Tuesday, Reid said. After that will come Democratic-sponsored amendments to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and then an alternating series of Republican and Democratic amendments on mental health, school safety, straw purchases and others.
But the language of those amendments still hasn’t been introduced.
As senators headed to the chamber to vote, the Obama administration formally came out in support of the underlying bill, ushered through the Senate Judiciary Committee by Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., that would expand background checks but would not create new limits on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
“The administration urges the Congress to make the legislation even stronger by adding provisions to keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate mass killings off the nation’s streets,” said the statement released through the Office of Management and Budget.
Vice President Biden, in an interview that aired Thursday on MSNBC, pointed to public opinion polls to show Americans favoring legislation such as expanded background checks for gun purchasers.
“This is one of the cases where the public is so far ahead of the elected officials — I mean so far ahead,” Biden said on the Morning Joe program. “You saw it in immigration, you saw it in marriage issues, you’re seeing it now. The public has moved to a different place.”
[Murder by drone is simply the next generation of American "Death Squads," with the "Squad" referring to the UAV controller unit, somewhere in the American Southwest, or sitting in an air-conditioned office on the 7th floor at Langley. The concept of roving bands of semi-autonomous assassins has been replaced by roving "eyes in the sky." The next logical step are programmable, self-guided terminator drones. Science Fiction has become reality. "Future shock" has been replaced by "shock and awe." America is a Fascist state, seeking to ride to total global domination on the strength of its military technology and the power of its leaders' lies.]
By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.
The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans.
“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”
Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards.
The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.”
In a response to questions from McClatchy, the White House defended its targeting policies, pointing to previous public statements by senior administration officials that the missile strikes are aimed at al Qaida and associated forces.
Micah Zenko, an expert with the Council on Foreign Relations, a bipartisan foreign policy think tank, who closely follows the target killing program, said McClatchy’s findings indicate that the administration is “misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.”
The documents also show that drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.”
McClatchy’s review is the first independent evaluation of internal U.S. intelligence accounting of drone attacks since the Bush administration launched America’s secret aerial warfare on Oct. 7, 2001, the day a missile-carrying Predator took off for Afghanistan from an airfield in Pakistan on the first operational flight of an armed U.S. drone.
The analysis takes on additional significance because of the domestic and international debate over the legality of drone strikes in Pakistan amid reports that the administration is planning to broaden its use of targeted killings in Afghanistan and North Africa.
The U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy covered most – although not all – of the drone strikes in 2006-2008 and 2010-2011. In that later period, Obama oversaw a surge in drone operations against suspected Islamist sanctuaries on Pakistan’s side of the border that coincided with his buildup of 33,000 additional U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan. Several documents listed casualty estimates as well as the identities of targeted groups.
McClatchy’s review found that:
– At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists. Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.
Forty-three of 95 drone strikes reviewed for that period hit groups other than al Qaida, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as “foreign fighters” and “other militants.”
During the same period, the reports estimated there was a single civilian casualty, an individual killed in an April 22, 2011, strike in North Waziristan, the main sanctuary for militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
– At other times, the CIA killed people who only were suspected, associated with, or who probably belonged to militant groups.
To date, the Obama administration has not disclosed the secret legal opinions and the detailed procedures buttressing drone killings, and it has never acknowledged the use of so-called “signature strikes,” in which unidentified individuals are killed after surveillance shows behavior the U.S. government associates with terrorists, such as visiting compounds linked to al Qaida leaders or carrying weapons. Nor has it disclosed an explicit list of al Qaida’s “associated forces” beyond the Afghan Taliban.
The little that is known about the opinions comes from a leaked Justice Department white paper, a half-dozen or so speeches, some public comments by Obama and several top lieutenants, and limited open testimony before Congress.
“The United States has gone far beyond what the U.S. public – and perhaps even Congress – understands the government has been doing and claiming they have a legal right to do,” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a Notre Dame Law School professor who contends that CIA drone operations in Pakistan violate international law.
The documents McClatchy has reviewed do not reflect the entirety of the killings associated with U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, which independent reports estimate at between 1,990 and 3,581.
But the classified reports provide a view into how drone strikes were carried out during the most intense periods of drone warfare in Pakistan’s remote tribal area bordering Afghanistan. Specifically, the documents reveal estimates of deaths and injuries; locations of militant bases and compounds; the identities of some of those targeted or killed; the movements of targets from village to village or compound to compound; and, to a limited degree, the rationale for unleashing missiles.
The documents also reveal a breadth of targeting that is complicated by the culture in the restive region of Pakistan where militants and ordinary tribesmen dress the same, and carrying a weapon is part of the centuries-old tradition of the Pashtun ethnic group.
The Haqqani network, for example, cooperates closely with al Qaida for philosophical and tactical reasons, and it is blamed for some of the bloodiest attacks against civilians and U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. But the Haqqani network wasn’t on the U.S. list of international terrorist groups at the time of the strikes covered by the U.S. intelligence reports, and it isn’t known to ever have been directly implicated in a plot against the U.S. homeland.
Other groups the documents said were targeted have parochial objectives: the Pakistani Taliban seeks to topple the Islamabad government; Lashkar i Jhangvi, or Army of Jhangvi, are outlawed Sunni Muslim terrorists who’ve slaughtered scores of Pakistan’s minority Shiites and were blamed for a series of attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including a 2006 bombing against the U.S. consulate in Karachi that killed a U.S. diplomat. Both groups are close to al Qaida, but neither is known to have initiated attacks on the U.S. homeland.
“I have never seen nor am I aware of any rules of engagement that have been made public that govern the conduct of drone operations in Pakistan, or the identification of individuals and groups other than al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban,” said Christopher Swift, a national security law expert who teaches national security affairs at Georgetown University and closely follows the targeted killing issue. “We are doing this on a case-by-case, ad hoc basis, rather than a systematic or strategic basis.”
The administration has declined to reveal other details of the program, such as the intelligence used to select targets and how much evidence is required for an individual to be placed on a CIA “kill list.” The administration also hasn’t even acknowledged the existence of so-called signature strikes, let alone discussed the legal and procedural foundations of the attacks.
Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees say they maintain robust oversight over the program. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., disclosed in a Feb. 13 statement that the panel is notified “with key details . . . shortly after” every drone strike. It also reviews videos of strikes and considers “their effectiveness as a counterterrorism tool, verifying the care taken to avoid deaths to non-combatants and understanding the intelligence collection and analysis that underpins these operations.”
But until last month, Obama had rebuffed lawmakers’ repeated requests to see all of the classified Justice Department legal opinions on the program, giving them access to only two dealing with the president’s powers to order targeted killings. It then allowed the Senate committee access to all opinions pertaining to the killing of U.S. citizens to clear the way for the panel’s March 7 confirmation of John Brennan, the former White House counterterrorism chief and the key architect of the targeted killings program, as the new CIA director. But it continues to deny access to other opinions on the grounds that they are privileged legal advice to the president.
Moreover, most of the debate in the United States has focused on the deaths of four Americans – all killed in drone strikes in Yemen, but only one intentionally targeted – and not the thousands of others who’ve been killed, the majority of whom have been hit in Pakistan.
Obama and his top aides say the United States is in an “armed conflict” with al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban, and the targeted killing program complies with U.S. and international laws, including an “inherent” right to self-defense and the international laws of war. Obama also derives his authority to order targeted killings from the Constitution and a Sept. 14, 2001, congressional resolution empowering the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those who perpetrated 9/11 and those who aided them, they say.
Time and again, the administration has defined the drone targets as operational leaders of al Qaida, the Afghan Taliban and associated groups plotting imminent attacks on the American homeland. Occasionally, however, officials have made oblique references to undefined associated forces and threats against unidentified Americans and U.S. facilities.
On April 30, 2012, Brennan gave the most detailed explanation of Obama’s drone program. He referred to al Qaida 73 times, the Afghan Taliban three times and mentioned no other group by name.
“We only authorize a particular operation against a specific individual if we have a high degree of confidence that the individual being targeted is indeed the terrorist we are pursuing,” Brennan said.
To be sure, America’s drone program has killed militants without risk to the nation’s armed forces.
The administration argues that drones – in Brennan’s words – are a “wise choice” for fighting terrorists. Over the years, the aircraft have battered al Qaida’s Pakistan-based core leadership and crippled its ability to stage complex attacks. And officials note it has been done without sending U.S. troops into hostile territory or causing civilian casualties “except in the rarest of circumstances.”
“Any actions we take fully comport to our law and meet the standards that I think . . . the American people expect of us as far as taking actions we need to protect the American people, but at the same time ensuring that we do everything possible before we need to resort to lethal force,” Brennan said at his Feb. 7 Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing.
Caitlin Hayden, national security spokeswoman for the White House, said late Tuesday that the Brennan speech is broad enough to cover strikes against others who are not al Qaida or the Afghan Taliban. While she did not cite any authority for broader targeting, Hayden said: “You should not assume he is only talking about al Qaida just because he doesn’t say ’al Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces’ at every reference.”
Some legal scholars and human rights organizations, however, dispute the program’s legality.
Obama, they think, is misinterpreting international law, including the laws of war, which they say apply only to the uniformed military, not the civilian CIA, and to traditional battlefields like those in Afghanistan, not to Pakistan’s tribal area, even though it may be a sanctuary for al Qaida and other violent groups. They argue that Obama also is strengthening his executive powers with an excessively broad application of the September 2001 use-of-force resolution.
The administration’s definition of “imminent threat” also is in dispute. The Justice Department’s leaked white paper argues the United States should be able “to act in self-defense in circumstances where there is evidence of further imminent attacks by terrorist groups even if there is no specific evidence of where such an attack will take place or of the precise nature of the attack.” Legal scholars counter that the administration is using an exaggerated definition of imminence that doesn’t exist in international law.
“I’m thankful that my doctors don’t use their (the administration’s) definition of imminence when looking at imminent death. A head cold could be enough to pull the plug on you,” said Morris Davis, a Howard University Law School professor and former Air Force lawyer who served as chief prosecutor of the Guantanamo Bay terrorism trials.
Since 2004, drone program critics say, the strikes have killed hundreds of civilians, fueling anti-U.S. outrage, boosting extremist recruiting, and helping to destabilize Pakistan’s U.S.-backed government. And some experts warn that the United States may be setting a new standard of international conduct that other countries will grasp to justify their own targeted killings and to evade accountability.
Other governments “won’t just emulate U.S. practice but (will adopt) America’s justification for targeted killings,” said Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations. “When there is such a disconnect between who the administration says it kills and who it (actually) kills, that hypocrisy itself is a very dangerous precedent that other countries will emulate.”
A special U.N. human rights panel began a nine-month investigation in January into whether drone strikes, including the CIA operations in Pakistan, violate international law by causing disproportionate numbers of civilian casualties. The panel’s head, British lawyer Ben Emmerson, declared after a March 11-13 visit to Pakistan that the U.S. drone campaign “involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”
The administration asserts that drones are used to hit specific individuals only after their names are added to a “list of active terrorists,” following a process of “extraordinary care and thoughtfulness” that confirms their identities as members of al Qaida or “associated forces” and weighs the strategic value of killing each one.
Yet the U.S. intelligence reports show that 43 out of the 95 strikes recorded in reports for the year ending in September 2011 were launched against groups other than al Qaida. Prominent among them were the Haqqani network and the Taliban Movement of Pakistan.
The Haqqani network is an Afghan Taliban-allied organization that operates in eastern Afghanistan and whose leaders are based in Pakistan’s adjacent North Waziristan tribal agency. The United States accuses the group of staging some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Kabul, including on the Indian and U.S. embassies, killing civilians, and attacking U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. But the Obama administration didn’t officially designate the network as a terrorist group until September 2012.
Its titular head is Jalaluddin Haqqani, an aging former anti-Soviet guerrilla who served as a minor minister and top military commander in the Taliban regime that sheltered al Qaida until both were driven into Pakistan by the 2001 U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. U.S. officials allege that the group, whose operational chief is Haqqani’s son, Sirajuddin, closely works with al Qaida and is backed by elements of the Pakistani army-led Inter-Services Intelligence spy service, a charge denied by Islamabad.
At least 15 drone strikes were launched against the Haqqani network or locations where its fighters were present during the one-year period ending in September 2011, according to the U.S. intelligence reports. They estimated that up to 96 people – or about 20 percent of the total for that period – were killed.
One report also makes clear that during the Bush administration, the agency killed Haqqani family women and children.
According to the report, an undisclosed number of Haqqani subcommanders, unnamed Arabs and unnamed “members of the extended Haqqani family” died in a Sept. 8, 2008, strike. News reports on the attack in the North Waziristan village of Dandey Darapakhel said that among as many as 25 dead were an Arab who was chief of al Qaida’s operations in Pakistan, and eight of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s grandchildren, one of his wives, two nieces and a sister.
The U.S. intelligence reports estimated that as many as 31 people were killed in at least nine strikes on the Pakistani Taliban or on locations that the group shared with others between January 2010 and September 2011. While U.S. officials say the Taliban Movement of Pakistan works closely with al Qaida, its goal is to topple the Pakistani government through suicide bombings, assaults and assassinations, not attacking the United States. The group wasn’t founded until 2007, and some of the strikes in the U.S. intelligence reports occurred before the administration designated it a terrorist organization in September 2010.
The U.S. intelligence reports estimated that the CIA killed scores of other individuals in 2010 and 2011 in strikes on other non-al Qaida groups categorized as suspected extremists and unidentified “foreign fighters,” or “other militants.” Some died in what appeared to be signature strikes, their vehicles blown to pieces sometimes only a few days after being monitored visiting the sites of earlier drone attacks, or driving between compounds linked to al Qaida or other groups.
“The first challenge in any war is knowing who you’re fighting, and distinguishing those that pose a credible threat to your interests and security,” said Swift.
The U.S. intelligence documents also describe a lack of precision when it comes to identifying targets.
Consider one attack on Feb. 18, 2010.
Information, according to one U.S. intelligence account, indicated that Badruddin Haqqani, the then-No. 2 leader of the Haqqani network, would be at a relative’s funeral that day in North Waziristan. Watching the video feed from a drone high above the mourners, CIA operators in the United States identified a man they believed could be Badruddin Haqqani from the deference and numerous greetings he received. The man also supervised a private family viewing of the body.
Yet despite a targeting process that the administration says meets “the highest possible standards,” it wasn’t Badruddin Haqqani who died when one of the drone’s missiles ripped apart the target’s car after he’d left the funeral.
It was his younger brother, Mohammad.
Friends later told reporters that Mohammad Haqqani was a religious student in his 20s uninvolved in terrorism; the U.S. intelligence report called him an active member – but not a leader – of the Haqqani network. At least one other unidentified occupant of his vehicle perished, according to the report.
It took the CIA another 18 months to find and kill Badruddin Haqqani.
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—————————————————————————————————————————Saturday April 6, 2013 8AM – Exhibitor Setup
Saturday April 6, 2013 9AM – 6PM – EXPO Hall Open for Guests
Saturday – Seminar Rooms A, B, C, Entry Lobby, Theater, and Second Floor Mezzanine
Theater – Dr. Richard Allen Miller– Mind Control- Learn to Think Like a Navy SEAL .
Room A – Nicole Trujillo, Doterra – Medicine Cabinet Makeover – Essential Oils
Room B – Judy Dollarhite – USAPrepares.com – Water Filtration at Home or On-The-Go
Room C – Ken Hurley, Kyani – Lower High Blood Pressure, Increase Endurance – Naturally
Entry Lobby – Edward Campbell – Nobel Mint – Purchasing Gold in Small Amounts
Second Floor Mezzanine – Bob Gaskin – Bug-in or Bug-out? Which one? And Why?
Theater – James Wesley, Rawles – Part -1of 2 – via Teleseminar with Vincent Finelli -Survival
Room A- Carl Rickard, CC Silver – What is Colloidal Silver? How it is beneficial to your
Room B – Roy Birdsong, Choose Your Own Wireless – Cell Phone Calling Plans – $8 per Month
Room C – Nathan Jones, Power Source Solar – Alternative Energy from the Sun – Solar Life
Entry Lobby – Bill Whaley – Living off Junk, Creative and Useful Applications discarded Items – Also see special all-day seminar on Monday, April 8
Second Floor Mezzanine – Eric Vought – Start Your Own Sheriff’s Auxiliary – your first line of defense
Theater – James Wesley, Rawles -Part 2 of 2 – via Teleseminar with Vincent Finelli -Survival
Room A – Dr Dan Junker – Oxygen Cures – The Underground Cancer Doctor
Room B – Alan Busiek (of Doomsday Preppers) Preparedness for Beginners – how to begin
Room C – Robb Clopfill – Salad Master: Demonstration – Learn to cook to preserve nutrition – Enjoy sample foods…
Entry Lobby – John Dollarhite, DollarValue Computers. EMPs – Preventing Computer Failure
Second Floor Mezzanine – Stephen Heuer – Synergistic Nutrition - Learn The 5 Factors That Stop Your Body from operating at 100%
Theater – Joyce Riley – The Power Hour – When There is no Doctor
Room A – Brooklyn Bagwell – Doomsday Preppers – Casting Call – Do you have the preps to be on TV?
Room B – Len Pense, Gardening Revolution – Survival High Yield Gardening. Learn how to build your raised bed garden.
Room C – John Moore – Violent Climate Change. You can feel the climate changing – Should you relocate?
AMP-3 Booth – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – Hands-on Suture Seminar Part-1 of 2 by our Emergency Room Doctor – Suture a pigs foot, and take home spare suture kit. For educational purposes only – we are not training you for surgery – Cost $65 – Watch for Free (Class size limited to 20) purchase ticket at the Store Tab at http://www.USAPrepares.com
Entry Lobby – Dough Dougherty – Author, Survive USA – Beyond Food and Water – then what?
Second Floor Mezzanine – Dragon Heaters – Cindy Mathieu – Fire Science: Wood Stoves, Masonry Heaters, and Rocket Heater
Theater – Dr. Joel Wallach, DVM – Youngevity – Restore Your Health – Dead Doctors Don’t Lie
Room A – Joel Johnson, Kodiak Survival – MacGyver 101. Invisible inventions
Room B – Marjory Wildcraft, Grow Your Own Groceries in Your Backyard – Living off the land
Room C – Paulette Wohnoutka, Millstreet Market – Build Your Own Bucket of Food. You can
AMP-3 Booth – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – Hands-on Suture Seminar Part-2 of 2 by our Emergency Room Doctor – Suture a pigs foot, and take home spare suture kit. For educational purposes only – we are not training you for surgery – Cost $65 – Watch for Free (Class size limited to 20)
Entry Lobby – Mike Mah – Negotiate for Your Life. Learn the lifestyle of making friends easily
Second Floor Mezzanine – Dr Cass Ingram – Dr Oregano (Talk Show Host) – The All-purpose Cure and Prevention Herb
Theater – Larry Pratt, Teleseminar – Larry Pratt (with Vincent Finelli) – Executive Director of Gun Owners of America – The Second Amendment is in Danger
Room A – Mike Nocks, White Harvest Seed – Seeds Planting, Gardening and Saving – what to do right now!
Room B – Dr. James Hubbard – Wound Care – Burn Care
Room C – Dr. Julie Penick, Penick Health Care – Sea of Toxins. Overweight? Tired? Irritable?
Entry Lobby – Caleb Arthur, Missouri Sun Solar – Living With Solar Power
Second Floor Mezzanine – Dr Bones and Nurse Amy – Survival Medicine
Theater – Mat Stein – EMPs and Solar Flares – Fact Fiction and Survival Strategies. Buy your autographed books.
Room A – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – First Aid Kits Developed by an Emergency Room Doctor – Build yours and take it with you.
Room B – Craig Douglas, Forbidden Knowledge – Radiation Detection – Can you detect
Room C – John Ragan USAF Officer (Ret) – Author – The Financial State of the Union
Entry Lobby – Jeff Olms – Selecting Your First Defense Firearm
Theater – Dr Cass Ingram – Dr Oregano (Talk Show Host) – The All-purpose Cure and Prevention Herb
Room A – Dr Bones and Nurse Amy – Survival Medicine
Room B – Johnny Delerious, Monolithic Dome – Concrete Dome Structures. If you are willing
Room C – Lucinda Bailey, Texas Ready – Heirloom Seeds. Grow a 2,000 pound Garden
Entry Lobby – Scott Peterson – Down To Earth Seeds – Our Current Food Supply, and Dangers
Second Floor Mezzanine – Dr Richard Alan Miller – Ask the Doctor – the questions you want answered
Saturday April 6, 2013 6PM – 8PM– Banquet Dinner – $6, $7 Tickets Required
Networking Dinner – Instructors, Exhibitors, Guests
Seminar Rooms A, B, and C
Theater- Dr. Joel Wallach, DVM – Youngevity – Restore Your Health – Dead Doctors Don’t Lie
Room A – Stephen Heuer – Synergistic Nutrition - Learn The 5 Factors That Stop Your Body from operating at 100%
Room B – Eddie Allen – American Open Currency Standard – Gold, Silver, and Copper barter
Room C – Judy Dollarhite – Raising Rabbits and Chickens – In the City – And Her New Book – about her $6 Million USDA Fine
Entry Lobby – Mike Mah, No StressMike.com, Hoy Chi, The Ancient Art of Chinese Medicine.
Second Floor Mezzanine – Ken Hurley, Kyani – Lower High Blood Pressure, Increase Endurance – Naturally
Theater – Dr. James Hubbard – The Survival Doctor – Wound Care – Burn Care
Room A – Paulette Wohnoutka, Millstreet Market – Build Your Own Bucket of Food. You can
Room B – Joyce Riley – The Power Hour – The Truth about Military Experiments
Room C – Lucinda Bailey, Texas Ready – Heirloom Seeds. Double Your Tomato Yield
Entry Lobby – Dr. Richard Alan Miller – Who Knows – It really doesn’t Matter
Second Floor Mezzanine – David Klotz – – The Wal-Mart Takeover of America
Theater – John Moore – Violent Climate Change. You can feel the climate changing – do you need to relocate?
Room A – Joel Johnson, Kodiak Survival – MacGyver 101. Invisible inventions – that is what
Room B – Eric Lancaster, Teraganix – High Yield Gardening on Steroids – Let Microorganisms do the hard work.
Room C – Glenn Meder, Survival Still – Emergency Water Distillation – What do you do when there is no clean drinking water?
AMP-3 Booth – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – Learn how to vacuum pack foods for long term storage.
Entry Lobby – Dr Bones and Nurse Amy – Survival Medicine
Second Floor Mezzanine – Aaron Tarlow -Southern Armory – Buy Your First Survival Firearm – Beginners
Theater – Marjory Wildcraft, (Doomsday Preppers Expert), Grow Your Own Groceries – Bugs, the final and last choice for
Room A – Valerie Earhart – ABC Books – EMP Proof Information that You Need – We have
Room B – Casey Mustion, Hewitt Messenger – Well Drilling and Water Treatment.
Room C – Dr. Howard Shayne, DDS, Fox Grape Dentistry – Emergency Dentistry
Entry Lobby – Ray Cooley, Solar Labs – Solar Power for Your Home and Business
Second Floor Mezzanine – Jeff Olms – Selecting Your First Defense Firearm
Theater – Sheriff Richard Mack (America’s Sheriff) – The Second Amendment – Our Greatest Threat to Liberty
Room A- Bill Whaley – Live Off Junk – Creative and useful applications for items in the trash
Room B – Bruce Hough – Buy Your First Farm
Room C – Bob Gaskin – What to do When the Lights Go Out – Serious Survival Strategies
Entry Lobby – Wes McCollum – VacuCanner – Simple and Effective Process for Food Storage
Second Floor Mezzanine – Chief Cloudpiler – Native American Medicine – Do you want to be a Medicine Man/Woman – Natural Healing
Theater – David Pruett, MD, AMP-3 – Every Day Carry – The essential Supplies that you must carry with you.
Room A – Len Pense, Gardening Revolution – Survival High Yield Gardening. Learn how to…
Room B – Ozark Beekeepers Association – Beekeeping for Food Production. It is simple.
Room C – Dr Dan Junker – Oxygen Cures – The Underground Cancer Doctor
Entry Lobby – Julia Schopick – Author – Honest Medicine – Teleseminar with Vincent Finelli
Second Floor Mezzanine – Louis Krudo – Krudo Knives – Knife Fighting – Devense
Sunday April 7, 2013 – 4PM – Exhibitor Close Down
Monday, April 8, 2013 8AM – 5PM – Special Optional Seminars for Guests
8 – 5
Seminar Room A – Dr. Richard Alan Miller – Critical Decision Making Power Tools – Learn to Think Like a Navy SEAL – by the man who developed the technology. Limited seating. Cost $35 per person, $50 per couple. On-Line Registration – USAPrepares.com, Store Tab. Dinner at Dowd’s Catfish and BBQ – Optional and on your own
Monday, April 8, 2013 8AM – 5PM – Special Optional Seminars for Guests
8 – 5
Seminar Room B – MacGyver meets the Junk Man – Presented by the Authors and Developers of “Invisible Inventions” (a.k.a. “MacGyver 101″) and “How to Live on Junk”
BASIC / INTERMEDIATE WORKSHOP In this hands-on workshop, Joel Johnson, (“The Real MacGyver”) and Bill Whaley (“The Junkman”) train you to take another man’s trash and turn it into fuel, tools, and weapons essential for emergency survival, to economize, and to think, see, and perform like MacGyver. Cost $35 per person, $50 per household. On-Line Registration – USAPrepares.com, Store Tab. Dinner at Dowd’s Catfish and BBQ – Optional and on your own
[Americans owe a debt of gratitude to the news men and women of Borderland Beat for the daring reporting from the actual Mexican battlefield that they bring to us each day. The following timely report brings American clarity of the constant spreading Northward of the Cartel War which we have begun. Connections between the Zetas and MS-13 are troubling in themselves, but the cross-pollenization reflected in the sharing of military skills is the part that will trip some very serious alarms.
Again and again, the people of the world have to suffer from the short-sighted policies of the American Special Forces, who dispense their skills and training like soft drinks throughout allied and "Third World" nations. They take great pride in the years spent in their own training, to acquire their killing skills, yet they willingly teach abridged versions of their Pentagon training, often to people who are functionally illiterate. The Los Zetas are an indirect Pentagon creation (forming from Mexican and Guatemalan Spec. Forces deserters) and they are proving to be a great danger to us all, on both sides of the border. They are Western reflections of the "Islamist" monsters that we have created in the Far East..
Part of the Zeta focus has been upon taking-over Mexican prisons, as well as the absorption of lesser street and prison gangs. Now that they have adapted the same drug-trafficking strategy here which has proved to be so successful in Mexico, they are co-opting American gangs, street gangs, prison gangs and biker gangs. Recent attacks upon American law enforcement personnel in Colorado and Texas, perhaps even in West Virginia, may reflect the Los Zeta influence, the militarization of drug-running here. Depending upon the severity of similar attacks in the future, American law enforcement may be forced into a similar militarization. Stay tuned to Borderland for an honest heads-up.]
“Tijuano” for Borderland Beat
Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) grew in fire power, setting aside their reliance on small caliber weapons, acquiring instead AK-47 rifles, grenades, grenade launchers and antitank projectiles, which most of the time are sold to Los Zetas or interchanged for small quantities of cocaine which they later sell in the local market.
Finally the report states that the relationship between these groups is evolving to cooperation levels never before seen. It says that some associated cells of MS-13 like the “Fulton Locos Salvatruchas” and the “Hollywood Loco Salvatrucho”, which are the most vicious groups, have received training from Los Zetas.
[If left unchecked, then the penetration of the American heartland by the heavily armed (WE have heavily armed them) Mexican drug cartels will justify whatever level of militarization deemed necessary by the powers that be. This means that reasonably, and with no stretch of the imagination, Americans can assume that the American Heartland will experience a very real drug war of our own in the immediate future, similar to the ongoing civil war in Mexico. It will be a war entirely of our own making. With our creation of the "Los Zetas" cartel (training given by American Special Forces to Mexican Special Forces units, which included Zetas founding members), by our surreptitious provision of military grade arms through "Fast and Furious," and because of misguided policies of taking the Sinaloa Cartel side in Mexico's drug war, cartel outposts have been created in America's major cities such as Chicago, Denver and Dallas. One needs only to look to the border cities of Texas, to understand the level of violence which is now barely being held back. The recent cold-blooded murders of district attornies in Texas and a prison warden in Colorado documents how far the seepage of Mexican cartel violence has already gone beyond our border fences. Both of these examples also illustrate a new, even more troubling development in the spread of the Cartels' tentacles, the embedding of the Zetas organization within the American penal system, where it is merging with the major white supremacist groups, like the Aryan Brotherhood and their Colorado branch, called the "211 Crew."
American justice officials have little choice, but to eradicate the American foothold of the Zetas and the Sinaloas, before it is too late. The big problem with this statement is that it seems to speak in support of a military escalation on American soil, which has been the Pentagon/CIA plan all along. Our only hope, i.e., the hope of Americans who love our Constitution, is that the Cartel onslaught will be handled through a concerted, nationwide police offensive, before it can further escalate into a military problem. This means that the subversive hand of the CIA must be removed from the equation. It is the CIA which has been "queering" everybody's fight against the Cartels within Mexico, in order to bring-about their own plans for the total destabilization of the American Homeland. In this, as in all American policy problems, it is the CIA that is poisoning the well.
The only thing that can save the United States of America is the fulfillment of JFK's promise to "shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces," as well as the immediate scrapping of every single project that they had in the works. Compared to that, taming the Cartels should be a piece of cake.]
CHICAGO – Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels’ move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.
Cartel activity in the U.S. is certainly not new. Starting in the 1990s, the ruthless syndicates became the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, using unaffiliated middlemen to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and heroin beyond the border or even to grow pot here.
But a wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. Cartel operatives are suspected of running drug-distribution networks in at least nine non-border states, often in middle-class suburbs in the Midwest, South and Northeast.
“It’s probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime,” said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office.
The cartel threat looms so large that one of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpins — a man who has never set foot in Chicago — was recently named the city’s Public Enemy No. 1, the same notorious label once assigned to Al Capone.
The Chicago Crime Commission, a non-government agency that tracks crime trends in the region, said it considers Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman even more menacing than Capone because Guzman leads the deadly Sinaloa cartel, which supplies most of the narcotics sold in Chicago and in many cities across the U.S.
Years ago, Mexico faced the same problem — of then-nascent cartels expanding their power — “and didn’t nip the problem in the bud,” said Jack Killorin, head of an anti-trafficking program in Atlanta for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “And see where they are now.”
Riley sounds a similar alarm: “People think, ‘The border’s 1,700 miles away. This isn’t our problem.’ Well, it is. These days, we operate as if Chicago is on the border.”
Border states from Texas to California have long grappled with a cartel presence. But cases involving cartel members have now emerged in the suburbs of Chicago and Atlanta, as well as Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and rural North Carolina. Suspects have also surfaced in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
Mexican drug cartels “are taking over our neighbourhoods,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane warned a legislative committee in February. State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan disputed her claim, saying cartels are primarily drug suppliers, not the ones trafficking drugs on the ground.
For years, cartels were more inclined to make deals in Mexico with American traffickers, who would then handle transportation to and distribution within major cities, said Art Bilek, a former organized crime investigator who is now executive vice-president of the crime commission.
As their organizations grew more sophisticated, the cartels began scheming to keep more profits for themselves. So leaders sought to cut out middlemen and assume more direct control, pushing aside American traffickers, he said.
Beginning two or three years ago, authorities noticed that cartels were putting “deputies on the ground here,” Bilek said. “Chicago became such a massive market … it was critical that they had firm control.”
To help fight the syndicates, Chicago recently opened a first-of-its-kind facility at a secret location where 70 federal agents work side-by-side with police and prosecutors. Their primary focus is the point of contact between suburban-based cartel operatives and city street gangs who act as retail salesmen. That is when both sides are most vulnerable to detection, when they are most likely to meet in the open or use cellphones that can be wiretapped.
Others are skeptical about claims cartels are expanding their presence, saying law-enforcement agencies are prone to exaggerating threats to justify bigger budgets.
David Shirk, of the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute, said there is a dearth of reliable intelligence that cartels are dispatching operatives from Mexico on a large scale.
“We know astonishingly little about the structure and dynamics of cartels north of the border,” Shirk said. “We need to be very cautious about the assumptions we make.”
In Mexico, the cartels are known for a staggering number of killings — more than 50,000, according to one tally. Beheadings are sometimes a signature.
So far, cartels don’t appear to be directly responsible for large numbers of slayings in the United States, though the Texas Department of Public Safety reported 22 killings and five kidnappings in Texas at the hands of Mexican cartels from 2010 through mid- 2011.
Still, police worry that increased cartel activity could fuel heightened violence.
In Chicago, the police commander who oversees narcotics investigations, James O’Grady, said street-gang disputes over turf account for most of the city’s uptick in murders last year, when slayings topped 500 for the first time since 2008. Although the cartels aren’t dictating the territorial wars, they are the source of drugs.
Riley’s assessment is stark: He argues that the cartels should be seen as an underlying cause of Chicago’s disturbingly high murder rate.
“They are the puppeteers,” he said. “Maybe the shooter didn’t know and maybe the victim didn’t know that. But if you follow it down the line, the cartels are ultimately responsible.”
In the most corrupt nation on earth according to Transparency International 2013, due to deliberate American policy, so called democratic elections have no meaning . There fore the 2014 presidential elections will not be the key to a meaningful and constructive future for Afghanistan.
In the Grand Scheme of things Afghanistan will remain a glorified military base, after 2014 for American destabilization and drone wars in Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia and eventually China as part of the East Asian pivot. Afghanistan itself will be neglected and abused, as it has been since the Soviets left in 1989, by the USA.
Afghanistan is a lemon that has to be squeezed, with all its juices and pips, and discarded, for the Americans.
The racist American military/CIA brought in kill teams into Afghanistan, special ops people, and house to house searches at night, attacks on wedding parties, attacks on funerals, attacks on Friday prayer gatherings, and even village elder meetings………..village farmers innocently fingered as terrorist, then executed with AK-47 dropped next to them to get the body count quota; women raped, children’s testicles crushed in front of their parents…and the strafing of children by helicopter gunships whilst collecting wood for cooking, or simply playing out in the open.
No general faggot peacock neanderthal, in nearly 12 years of “war’ the JEWSA has not won, because there was never a VICTORY to win in the first place………as if he didn’t know; Afghanistan is another manufactured war……with all the pomp and circumstance of searching for 100 or so alleged ‘al-CIA-duh” operatives, and the Taliban which was created by the CIA in 1994 as “Controlled Opposition” with the help of the ISI, WHICH, provided the rational for the later invasion in 2001 and 9/11.
BUT some Americans have won, and are winning…mostly Jews in Wall Street.
Afghanistan has been turned into a giant Opium plantation by the Pentagon/CIA.
The peacock faggot general should know this fundamental urban legend fact. If he does not know he should he fired. If he does then he is merely a faggot peacock neanderthal LAIR…….SMOOTH TALKING HIS SOUND BITES WRITTEN by the Pentagon.
I am of the opinion that if you mistreat the native population, and turn their country, Ariana into a giant opium plantation, and continue with an aggressive occupation….house to house searches…kill teams quotas as with Vietnam..AND is the county as a base to abuse other countries…and don’t undertake any serious development….but instead divert funds to CRIMINALS with the Pentagon/CIA and their bank accounts in the Gulf….promote the worst type of Afghans into positions of power within a narco state……THEN there can be NO VICTORY IN SUCH A SORRY STATE….ONLY UTTER FAILURE…and Vietnam.
The Christian Fundamentalist Pentagon/CIA could try the Japan post WWII model in Afghanistan WITH SINCERITY, and honest effort…this will require character, and great effort in the League of General MacArthur. It means getting rid of the criminals in the Afghan government who coordinate and acquiesce their work with criminals in the Pentagon and CIA.
The noble Aryan people of Afghanistan are tired of 33 years of war imposed on them unjustly.
The Soviet Invasion 1980–1989, where 1.5 million died, and 5 million became refugees in Iran and Pakistan.
The Civil War of 1991–1996, where criminal warlords came to the fore.
The Bizarre Medieval Taliban rule, coordinated and backed by the CIA/ISI. 1994-2001.
The invasion of Afghanistan by the JEWSA and its dogs in 2001, after Israel carried out 9/11. This has not been an happy experience for the last 12 years so stated by ordinary Afghans and good Americans, where many crimes have been committed, as stated above.
As tired and war weary as the noble Afghans might be, I am quite sure eventually they will eject ALL foreigners from their country. It is a matter of time. Sheer slippery bad faith from the JEWSA guarantees it.
The world’s most powerful mayor welcomes ‘visibility’ — just not in city hall
Taking a break from his crusade against sugary soft drinks, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg took some time during his weekly radio broadcast last week to downplay an issue that’s been at the forefront of privacy concerns in a growing number of US states: the use of unmanned aerial drones for ubiquitous police surveillance. “What’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building?” asked an incredulous Bloomberg, now in the final months of his heavily-lobbied third term in office. “I mean, intellectually I have trouble making that distinction.”
The comparison seems especially tone-deaf as lawmakers and citizens in other cities across the US continue efforts to block the use of drones by law enforcement for general surveillance. In Seattle, the public outcry has already derailed plans to introduce police drones, and in Florida, a bill currently sailing through the State Senate would require law enforcement to have probable cause warrants before using drones. 22 other states are in various stages of passing similar legislation; Virginia legislators have even gone as far as approving a bill that will put a two year moratorium on drones altogether.
The furor helps underscore that, yes, there is a huge differences between cameras in the streets and drones in the skies. “Many privacy invasions are abstract and invisible [...] Drones, on the other hand, are concrete and real, and the threat requires no explanation,” wrote the ACLU’s Catherine Crump and Jay Stanley. “But they are just the most visible example of a host of new surveillance technologies that have the potential to fundamentally alter the balance of power between individuals and the state.”
The NYPD’s “Domain Awareness System” has around 3,000 cameras
In New York City, that balance has already been disrupted. Currently, the NYPD’s surveillance network is comprised of around 3,000 street-level cameras in Manhattan, connected to its loudly-trumpeted and Orwellian-sounding “Domain Awareness System.” The system combines real-time CCTV feeds with data from various other sources, including 911 calls and CompStat crime prevention software, which uses statistics to algorithmically identify areas where crimes are likely to occur and dispatches police accordingly. NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly announced last week that a citywide license plate reading program will soon be integrated into the $30 million system as well, allowing police to track practically all vehicle movements with unprecedented speed and efficiency. All video footage collected in this way is retained up to 30 days, and all other data can be kept for up to 5 years.
Before 9/11, the prelude to this massive surveillance expansion was VIPER, a collaboration in the late 90s between the NYPD and New York City Housing Authority which installed hundreds of police surveillance cameras inside low-income public housing. In the following years, police triumphantly cited a 36 percent reduction in crime in the housing projects they monitored. The stats were largely accepted, but a wider look revealed that crime had actually fallen overall in New York City during that decade, and so this drop might be the result of macro factors, not the new cameras. Further investigation by the Government Accountability Office was also unable to establish a direct link between surveillance cameras and reduced crime.
Even in the heavily-monitored UK, the country whose 2012 Olympic mascot was a cartoon surveillance camera, evidence has been spotty. In 2008, Scotland Yard solved only one crime for every 1,000 CCTV cameras within London’s infamous “Ring of Steel,” which was created to combat a series of IRA bombings in the early 90s. The most commonly-cited independent study counts one CCTV camera for every 14 people in England (with the British Home Office estimating much lower). However, numerous factors have complicated any attempt at proving whether they are an effective deterrent. Some research has suggested that surveillance cameras often displace crime into the space outside of their influence rather than help solve or prevent it. David Davies, a Conservative Member of the British Parliament, has lamented that London’s massive camera population “creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security.”
Whether or not these systems are truly effective, their potential effects on privacy vastly differ from those of a surveillance drone hovering above a city. For one, the NYPD’s system does not include the vast majority of the city’s cameras, the privately owned units commonly affixed to the outsides of buildings. And even then, it’s difficult to make the argument that a network of stationary street-level cameras compares to “wide-area persistent surveillance” technologies like ARGUS-IS, the DARPA-developed drone surveillance system made from hacked-together cellphone camera sensors which can identify and track a person as they move across an entire city (the NYPD is already employing a lesser form of Argus camera in their CCTV network).
“I just don’t see how you can stop them.”
Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest men who rules over one of the most intensely policed cities on earth, should know this more than anyone. But with a strategically placed “fuggedaboutit,” he disregards civil problems regarding privacy that his police force has probably long seen as administrative solutions.
“We’re going to have more visibility and less privacy [...] you can’t keep the tide from coming in,” he said ominously, resigned to a supposedly inevitable scenario where drones constantly patrol the skies. “It’s not a matter of whether I think it’s good or bad. I just don’t see how you can stop them.”
The sudden doom-and-gloom is ironic, considering how just last September, the NYPD spared no expense in tracking down and arresting Essam Attia, the street artist who posted fake NYPD “drone” billboards across the city, hoping to start a conversation about this very issue. The case was pursued vigorously by NYPD forensics and counter-terrorism teams, eventually serving Attia with 56 felony counts for the short-lived, politically-motivated vandalism. It’s as if somewhere in the past few months, we’ve gone from please remove your tin-foil hats to Bloomberg’s constant droning is inevitable — get used to it.
Is the situation really so hopeless? Perhaps. But it’s certainly easier to think so when you preside over a paramilitary police force that frequently receives healthy doses of grant money from the US Department of Homeland Security to implement such surveillance programs. For years the NYPD has been using those resources to do things like infiltrate Muslim communities, employing alarmingly aggressive tactics in an attempt to ensnare average citizens as “terrorist suspects.” More recently, the department has come under fire for its infamous “Stop and Frisk” program, which establishes quotas for officers to search random passersby, and overwhelmingly antagonizes black and hispanic men in low-income neighborhoods.
When Bloomberg predicts “more visibility,” he means visibility of the citizenry, not the police
But for all these various strains of snooping, Bloomberg’s NYPD has never been receptive to criticism, or demands for its own transparency. Just last week, the Mayor promised to veto a bill which would create new independent oversight of the department to investigate police misconduct. Why? According to Bloomberg, the increased oversight would “put the lives of New Yorkers and our police officers at risk,” a claim which he made no attempt to prove. So it’s again ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that when Bloomberg predicts “more visibility,” he only means more visibility of the citizenry, not the police. By its nature, police surveillance is never “transparency” — it’s a black box.
Bloomberg of all people should know that attitude won’t fly. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, usually a staunch ally of Bloomberg’s, recently declared that she has the votes to override the veto on the NYPD oversight bill. And if the legislation running through various states right now is any indication, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Bloomberg, embracing a drone-infested surveillance state for what remains of his term, will find himself in the minority. Transparency, at very minimum, needs to be a two-way street — not an ever-present, top-down panopticon.
[Notice the red Saudi-colored headscarves.--SOURCE]
Agency Feeds Intelligence to Rebel Fighters, in Move That Deepens U.S. Involvement in Conflict
The Central Intelligence Agency is expanding its role in the campaign against the Syrian regime by feeding intelligence to select rebel fighters to use against government forces, current and former U.S. officials said.
The move is part of a U.S. effort to stem the rise of Islamist extremists in Syria by aiding secular forces, U.S. officials said, amid fears that the fall of President Bashar al-Assad would enable al Qaeda to flourish in Syria.
The expanded CIA role bolsters an effort by Western intelligence agencies to support the Syrian opposition with training in areas including weapons use, urban combat and countering spying by the regime.
The move comes as the al Nusra Front, the main al Qaeda-linked group operating in Syria, is deepening its ties to the terrorist organization’s central leadership in Pakistan, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials.
The provision of actionable intelligence to small rebel units which have been vetted by the CIA represents an increase in U.S. involvement in the two-year-old conflict, the officials said. The CIA would neither confirm nor deny any role in providing training or intelligence to the Syrian rebels.
The new aid to rebels doesn’t change the U.S. decision to not take direct military action. President Barack Obama last year rejected a CIA-backed proposal to provide arms to secular units fighting Mr. Assad, and on Friday he reiterated his argument that doing so could worsen the bloodshed.
He also warned that Mr. Assad’s fall could empower extremists. “I am very concerned about Syria becoming an enclave for extremism because extremists thrive in chaos, they thrive in failed states, they thrive in power vacuums,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference in Amman, Jordan.
The new CIA effort reflects a change in the administration’s approach that aims to strengthen secular rebel fighters in hope of influencing which groups dominate in post-Assad Syria, U.S., European and Arab officials said.
The CIA has sent officers to Turkey to help vet rebels that receive arms shipments from Gulf allies, but administration officials say the results have been mixed, citing concerns about weapons going to Islamists. In Iraq, the CIA has been directed by the White House to work with elite counterterrorism units to help the Iraqis counter the flow of al Qaeda-linked fighters across the border with Syria.
The West favors fighters aligned with the Free Syrian Army, which supports the Syrian Opposition Coalition political group.
Syrian opposition commanders said the CIA has been working with British, French and Jordanian intelligence services to train rebels on the use of various kinds of weapons. A senior Western official said the intelligence agencies are providing the rebels with urban combat training as well as teaching them how to properly use antitank weapons against Syrian bunkers.
The agencies are also teaching counterintelligence tactics to help prevent pro-Assad agents from infiltrating the opposition, the official said.
Among other U.S. activities on the margins of the conflict, the Pentagon is helping train Jordanian forces to counter the threat posed by Syria’s chemical weapons, but isn’t working directly with rebels, defense officials say.
The extent of the CIA effort to provide intelligence to Syrian rebels remains cloaked in secrecy. The U.S. has an array of intelligence capabilities in the region, mainly on the periphery of the conflict.
The U.S. uses satellites and other surveillance systems to collect intelligence on Syrian troop and aircraft movements as well as weapons depots. Officials say powerful radar arrays in Turkey are likewise used to track Syrian ballistic missiles and can pinpoint launch sites.
The U.S. also relies on Israeli and Jordanian spy agencies, which have extensive spy networks inside Syria, U.S. and European officials said.
The current level of intelligence sharing is limited in scope because the CIA doesn’t know whether it can fully trust fighters with the most sensitive types of information, several U.S. and European officials said. The CIA, for example, isn’t sharing information on where U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies believe the Syrian government keeps its chemical weapons, officials said.
Rebel leaders and some U.S. lawmakers say more robust U.S. support is needed to turn the tide in the civil war. These officials say the CIA’s current role comes as too little, too late to make a decisive difference in the war.
In a letter to Mr. Obama this week, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, joined Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in calling for the president to take “more active steps to stop the killing in Syria and force Bashar al-Assad to give up power.”
Sens. Levin and McCain urged the White House to consider using precision airstrikes to take out Mr. Assad’s air force and Scud missile batteries, among other military options.
The CIA got a green light from the White House last year to look for ways to provide limited support to the rebels, current and former officials said. But officials say the ramp-up has been slow, in part because of the difficulty of identifying reliable partners among the Syrian opposition to work with the U.S.
A senior U.S. official said the decision to provide actionable intelligence to vetted rebel units “shows that we’re working on the humanitarian level and the diplomatic level and on the intelligence level.”
“This would be a more direct level of engagement on the intelligence front,” the official added.
Officials said one of the advantages of providing actionable intelligence to rebel units is that such information is generally of operational use for a limited period because would-be targets move around the battlefield.
Arms, in contrast, can be used for years and passed between groups, reducing U.S. control over where they end up.
The shift in part reflects growing Israeli concerns about the limited ability of the U.S. to shape the outcome in Syria. In recent months, Israeli officials have privately pressed their European and American counterparts to strengthen secular forces in Syria because of concerns that the al Nusra Front will become more entrenched the longer the civil war drags on, according to Israeli and European officials.
Israeli officials are concerned that the U.S. reluctance to more directly intervene will limit Washington’s leverage in a post-Assad Syria. “Israel would welcome America’s influence in shaping the post-Assad Syria” said a senior Israeli official involved in deliberations on the neighboring Arab country.
U.S. and European officials said they fear that the al Nusra Front, which has seized control of swaths of northern Syria, could dominate the country once Mr. Assad falls.
U.S. counterterrorism officials said they have seen a growth in communications among operatives from al Nusra Front, al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda’s central leadership in Pakistan. Officials also report growing numbers of al Qaeda fighters traveling from Pakistan to Syria to join the fight with al Nusra.
The ties to al Qaeda’s central operations have become so significant that U.S. counterterrorism officials are debating whether al Nusra should now be considered its own al Qaeda affiliate instead of an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq, as it has generally been viewed within the U.S. government, according to a person familiar with the debate.
Al Nusra is “an organization that resembles an army more than a quaint little terrorist group,” said Seth Jones, an al Qaeda specialist at the Rand Corp. think tank in Washington. “As this war drags on against Assad and as long as they are able to build up their capabilities, it’s going to make it all the more harder to target them once the regime falls.”
[Gen. Kelly warns about possible Iranian terrorism merging with drug cartels in Central and South America. At the nexus of terrorism and drug traficking you will always find the CIA.]
CIA Torture Jet crashed with 4 Tons of COCAINE, September 24, 2007
A Gulfstream II jet that crash landed in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in late September bearing a load of nearly four tons of cocaine. This particular Gulfstream II (tail number N987SA), was used between 2003 and 2005 by the CIA for at least three trips between the U.S. east coast and Guantanamo Bay — home to the infamous “terrorist” prison camp — according to a number of press reports.
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – A potential connection between crime syndicates and terrorists in Latin America would constitute a clear danger to the region, U.S. Southern Command’s senior leader told reporters at the Pentagon today.
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly said the increase in Iranian influence in Latin America is worrisome, and an example of the peril that the combination of criminal networks and states that sponsor terrorism, like Iran, could pose.
Kelly, who took over U.S. Southern Command in November, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that in the past six years Iran has tried to increase its influence in Central and South America. The Iranian government, he said, has built embassies and cultural centers in the region.
“The concern is that … they’re looking … for influence — say for votes in the U.N. on sanctions,” he said. “But also, and I’ve … made mention to some of our friends in the region that these guys are very, very good at what they do, and very, very skilled at what they do, and that people should just be careful as to who they’re dealing with.”
The general stressed he is not accusing Iran of sponsoring terrorism in Latin America, but he noted that Iran is involved in terrorism in other areas of the world.
“We do know that some terrorist organizations are able to skim off fairly substantial sums of money from the drug profits,” Kelly said. “And so there has to be kind of a network for that to happen.”
The criminal networks in Latin America are very sophisticated and very well financed, he said.
Drugs are the basis for this wealth and the drug-related money coming out of the United States “is astronomical,” Kelly said.
“I mean palettes of money,” he said. “For a buck, anything can get on the [drug transport] network.”
That network, Kelly said, transports tons of drugs into the United States and Europe and moves bales of money back out.
“The point of it all is the network is a very dangerous thing to have working as effectively as it does, because anything can get on it,” he said.
Kelly said his command is working to build military-to-military contacts throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
“The good news about Latin America and my part of the world is that there are no wars,” he said.
And most Latin American countries, including Brazil — the world’s fifth-largest economy — want the United States as a partner, Kelly said.
The countries of the region don’t ask for much, the general said.
“When I go down and visit, they’re not asking for an awful [lot] — they’re not asking for money,” Kelly said. “They’re willing to pay their own way.”
What the Latin American countries need is expertise, the general said. For example, Peru is asking for help in getting its separate military services to work together better. Colombia needs help in countering improvised explosive devices that the terror group FARC and criminal syndicates use to protect coca fields and factories. Other nations need medical expertise.
Turning to another topic, Kelly noted that sequestration will hit his command hard. He said there will be fewer vessels to interdict cocaine shipments, and fewer troops to operate with partner militaries.
[Obama and Napolitano will not be satisfied until they bring enough of their "Islamists" into this country to warrant the same use of US military force against them here that they currently only enjoy overseas. Wahhabism is Islamist terrorism in its most basic form, that of uneducated degenerate "preachers" whose only purpose is to set the mobs loose against the alleged "infidels." "Infidels," or "kfir," so defined, are anyone who refuses to accept murder in the name of God.]
Saudi Arabia, the nation which produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks, is about to become one of a handful of countries whose travelers can bypass normal passport controls at major U.S. airports. Sources tell the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) that this will mark the first time that the Saudi government will have a direct role in vetting who is eligible for getting fast-tracked for entry into the United States.
An agreement to accept Saudi Arabian applicants into the Global Entry trusted traveler program drew little notice when it was announced in January. Now, some officials question why the country merits such a benefit – which is similar to a theme park “fast pass” to avoid long lines – when other allies like Germany and France are not yet included. A program for Israeli travelers was reached last May but has not been implemented.
Travelers approved for the program can skip the normal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lines starting next year and enter the country after providing their passports and fingerprints at a kiosk. Only Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands currently enjoy the benefit, although pilot programs could expand it to a handful of others.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the agreement in January after meeting with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. It “marks another major step forward in our partnership,” Napolitano said at the time. “By enhancing collaboration with the Government of Saudi Arabia, we reaffirm our commitment to more effectively secure our two countries against evolving threats while facilitating legitimate trade and travel.”
Details about how the plan will work with the Saudis have not been released. Nayef’s ministry, however, will be responsible for screening which applicants will be considered when the pilot program begins next year. It’s not known whether the Saudi ministry will share its raw intelligence about applicants with its American counterparts. What is known, based on information provided by a Homeland Security source, is that each individual who makes it into the program will have been vetted by both the CPB and by the Saudi Interior Ministry against various databases.
The Department of Homeland Security declined to make anyone available to answer questions about Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the Global Entry program after repeated requests throughout last week, and after indicating someone would provide more details.
That is cause for concern, given lingering questions about possible Saudi support for some of the 9/11 hijackers and given the Ministry of Interior (MOI)’s inconsistent record on sharing its intelligence on suspected terrorists and terror financiers. Additionally, recent studies by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified significant problems in the way DHS components use computer systems and process intelligence for posting watch list lookouts and overseas screening of foreign nationals.
Once accepted into Global Entry, travelers can enjoy the faster border entry for five years.
A memo obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism said Saudi applicants “must meet the individual vetting criteria of both CBP and the MOI, and successfully complete vetting by each side against information available in various law enforcement, customs, immigration, criminal, intelligence, and terrorist databases.”
That doesn’t bring confidence to those who have investigated Saudi Arabian connections to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., whose district lost more than 70 people during the attack on the Pentagon, called the pact a bad idea. He also stated that he had not previously heard about the deal.
“I think you have radical Wahhabism in certain elements in Saudi Arabia, and I think to be more lenient there than in other places would be a mistake,” Wolf said. “There were 15 [hijackers] from that country, and there is a lot taking place in that region.
“Some of the people who went back to Saudi Arabia through Guantanamo – we find that they are in battlefields in Afghanistan or some other place, so I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Saudis have long been known for withholding information from their American counterparts. Wolf recalls that the Saudis obstructed former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s effort to investigate the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing by refusing to share information.
“I think there has been a history of not cooperating,” Wolf said.
The Saudis paved the way for 9/11 by funding the madrassas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which adds to Wolf’s concern.
Unseen Information, Unanswered Questions
“Adding KSA to the program before a full vetting of the Kingdom’s involvement in 9/11 is very unwise,” said Sharon Premoli, a 9/11 survivor who has sued the Saudis for allegedly helping finance the attacks.
“We don’t know if what they tell us is correct. Why should we trust them?” she said in an interview Thursday. She points to a 1998 agreement Saudi Arabia struck with bin Laden and the Taliban prior to 9/11. A 2011 Vanity Fair article described it this way:
In sworn statements after 9/11, former Taliban intelligence chief Mohammed Khaksar said that in 1998 Prince Turki, chief of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Department (G.I.D.), sealed a deal under which bin Laden agreed not to attack Saudi targets. In return, Saudi Arabia would provide funds and material assistance to the Taliban, not demand bin Laden’s extradition, and not bring pressure to close down al-Qaeda training camps. Saudi businesses, meanwhile, would ensure that money also flowed directly to bin Laden.
“They didn’t tell us that,” Premoli said in the interview. “They haven’t been forthcoming on anything.”
Saudi officials deny that deal existed. The only way to find out is to continue investigating, Premoli said. She’s perplexed that the brutal murder of 3,000 Americans even requires an effort to trigger additional investigation.
“Let’s vet them properly. Let’s really declassify. Let’s look at all of it. Until it is done, it’s an open wound. It’s an unanswered question.”
The Global Entry deal comes three years after U.S. officials briefly placed Saudi Arabia on a list of 14 countries whose travelers would face enhanced scrutiny when entering the United States. It followed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab‘s failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
A cable sent from the American embassy to the State Department that was published by Wikileaks reported that Saudi government officials expressed “shock to be included on the list” and threatened to “to re-evaluate areas of cooperation, including counter-terrorism cooperation” if it was not rescinded.
The policy was dropped three months later, replaced with a new program designed to use threat assessments and intelligence of traveler’s behavioral traits and travel patterns.
To Premoli, who is pushing legislation to strip sovereign immunity protection from governments tied to terrorist acts, both the removal of Saudi Arabia from that list and its addition to Global Entry show the country enjoys “favored nation status. It’s so extraordinary that they are so protected.”
She was critical of the Bush administration for its warm relations with the Saudi royal family and is equally critical of the Obama administration for being “a continuation of the Bush administration.” When the plaintiffs suing Saudi Arabia sought to appeal a decision absolving the Saudis to the Supreme Court, then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed an amicus brief siding with the Saudis.
Saudi Arabian officials say all the investigations into the 9/11 attacks exonerated them of any involvement. But two former U.S. senators who led inquiries into the attacks say that’s just not so.
In affidavits submitted last year for plaintiffs suing the Saudis – including Premoli – former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey and former Florida Sen. Bob Graham wrote that the book on Saudi Arabia’s 9/11 connections should not be closed.
The 9/11 Commission on which he served lacked the time and resources “to pursue all potentially relevant evidence” involving Saudi Arabia, Kerrey wrote.
“Significant questions remain unanswered concerning the possible involvement of Saudi government institutions and actors in the financing and sponsorship of al Qaeda, and evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th Attacks has never been fully pursued,” Kerrey wrote.
Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time of the attacks, was co-chairman of a joint congressional inquiry. He has spent years arguing that a 28-page chapter from that inquiry would cast things in a different light if it ever is declassified.
“Based on my experiences as the Co-Chair of the Joint Inquiry, and the evidence collected by the Joint Inquiry during the course of its investigation into the events of September 11, 2001, the information contained in the Final Report of the 9/11 Commission, and reports and published material I have reviewed, I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” Graham wrote in his affidavit.
Hijackers and Their Helpers
That line may have come in the form of Omar al Bayoumi, a Saudi who befriended hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar. While the 9/11 Commission Report describes Bayoumi as “an unlikely candidate for clandestine involvement with Islamist extremists,” Graham believes he was a Saudi government agent.
Al-Bayoumi first met the hijackers in 2000, helped them find an apartment and “fronted the initial payments for that apartment” along with other financial help, Graham noted.
“During the period that he assisted the hijackers, al-Bayoumi’s allowances from a ghost job with a Saudi private firm and contractor with ties to the Saudi government increased eightfold. During that same period, Al-Bayoumi had an unusual number of telephone conversations with Saudi government officials in both Los Angeles and Washington.”
All this convinces him al-Bayoumi was a Saudi agent. “To this date, this evidence has not been fully explored and pursued, to the considerable detriment of the American public.”
In a column co-written with Premoli last fall, Graham said the classified chapter from the congressional inquiry focuses on the hijacker’s financial support while they were in the United States. “Sadly,” Graham and Premoli wrote, “those 28 pages represent only a fraction of the evidence of Saudi complicity that our government continues to shield from the public, under a flawed classification program which appears to be part of a systematic effort to protect Saudi Arabia from any real accountability for its actions.”
Abdulaziz al-Hijji, an executive with the Saudi government oil company Aramco, lived in Sarasota until just before the 9/11 attacks when he is reported to have suddenly left the U.S. Al-Hijji now lives in London. Recent media reports indicate al-Hijji met with 9/11 terror leader Mohamed Atta and current al-Qaida fugitive Adnan el-Shukrijumah while he lived in Sarasota. Graham has also looked into the al-Hijji matter and reportedly met with the FBI deputy director in November of 2011 and the deputy director refused to discuss the al-Hijji matter. Graham said, “I think that in the period immediately after 9/11 the FBI was under instructions from the Bush White House not to discuss anything that could be embarrassing to the Saudis.”
Saudi Arabia sends thousands of travelers into the United States each month, and more than 92 percent of Saudis who seek entry visas receive them, Asharq al-Awsat reported. In 2012, 20,677 student visas were granted to Saudi citizens.
The United States and Saudi Arabia do about $60 billion in business each year, most of which is Saudi oil exports.
The ambiguity of Saudi Ministry of Interior’s role is of particular concern, especially when it comes to who qualifies as a “low-risk traveler.” Although individuals with defined al-Qaida ties likely would not get a pass, worries arise particularly when it comes to those who support Hamas or Hizballah.
“I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them,” Jim Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation, said regarding the Saudi Interior Ministry.
Although the Saudi Interior Ministry has largely decimated al-Qaida’s infrastructure in the kingdom since 2003 in the wake of a series of bombings and killings of Westerners in the kingdom, Phillips says the ministry’s reliability as a partner remains an open question.
In an interview Tuesday, Graham reserved judgment on the program until more details are released on its implementation. He noted that the United States “went out of its way to placate the Saudis” after 9/11, arranging flights out of the country for Saudi nationals when all other air traffic was grounded, and waging “an effort to keep from public view the role of Saudis” in the 9/11 attacks.
Including Saudi travelers in Global Entry may be “a continuation” of an American policy of deference toward Saudi Arabia. “The question is what was the first step in approving a country to be involved in this? What are the requirements?” Graham asked. “This is not a theoretical. This really happened that 15 Saudis came into the country, I think all by aviation … It would seem there would be some red flags.”
Wolf suggested that the House Homeland Security Committee should examine the terms of the agreement to learn how it happened and it will work.
“It’s a slap in the face,” Premoli said. “Whatever they ask for, they get. There’s nothing they can’t have.”
[The Pentagon and CIA have both been running parellel drone assassination programs concurrently in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For some unknown reason, all drone attacks have been attributed to the CIA, even though no one outside of those two agencies really knows which drones carried-out the day's murders, or whether the war crimes were committed by piloted aircraft, or even whose air force that day's air assassins belonged to. It seems that the CIA is often blamed for PAF attacks within FATA. All terminator drone programs have been run out of US and Pakistani military bases. For Obama to think that he can hide the more repulsive, better publicized CIA murder program beneath or within the Pentagon's drone program, now that the political backlash against all drones is rapidly building, is ludicrous, although keeping within the parameters defined by the complete hypocrisy inherent in all of Obama's "innovative" approaches to continuing the evil wars of George Bush. All missile assassinations must end, as well as all illegal, criminal 'paramilitary" (terrorist) operations.]
At a time when controversy over the Obama administration’s drone program seems to be cresting, the CIA is close to taking a major step toward getting out of the targeted killing business. Three senior U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast that the White House is poised to sign off on a plan to shift the CIA’s lethal targeting program to the Defense Department.
In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
The move could potentially toughen the criteria for drone strikes, strengthen the program’s accountability, and increase transparency. Currently, the government maintains parallel drone programs, one housed in the CIA and the other run by DOD. The proposed plan would unify the command and control structure of targeted killings, and create a uniform set of rules and procedures. The CIA would maintain a role, but the military would have operational control over targeting. Lethal missions would take place under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which governs military operations, rather than Title 50, which sets out the legal authorities for intelligence activities and covert operations. “This is a big deal,” says one senior administration official who has been briefed on the plan. “It would be a pretty strong statement.”
Officials anticipate a phased-in transition in which the CIA’s drone operations would be gradually shifted over to the military, a process that could take as little as a year. Others say it might take longer but would occur during President Obama’s second term. “You can’t just flip a switch, but it’s on a reasonably fast track,” says one U.S. official. During that time, CIA and DOD operators would begin to work more closely together to ensure a smooth hand-off. The CIA would remain involved in lethal targeting, at least on the intelligence side, but would not actually control the unmanned aerial vehicles. Officials told The Daily Beast that a potential downside of the Agency relinquishing control of the program was the loss of a decade of expertise that the CIA has developed since it has been prosecuting its war in Pakistan and beyond. At least for a period of transition, CIA operators would likely work alongside their military counterparts to target suspected terrorists.
The policy shift is part of a larger White House initiative known internally as “institutionalization,” an effort to set clear standards and procedures for lethal operations. More than a year in the works, the interagency process has been driven and led by John Brennan, who until he became CIA director earlier this month was Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser. Brennan, who has presided over the administration’s drone program from almost day one of Obama’s presidency, has grown uncomfortable with the ad hoc and sometimes shifting rules that have governed it. Moreover, Brennan has publicly stated that he would like to see the CIA move away from the kinds of paramilitary operations it began after the September 11 attacks, and return to its more traditional role of gathering and analyzing intelligence.
Lately, Obama has signaled his own desire to place the drone program on a firmer legal footing, as well as to make it more transparent. He obliquely alluded to the classified program during his State of the Union address in January. “In the months ahead,” he declared, “I will continue to work with Congress to ensure that not only our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and systems of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.”
Shortly after taking office, Obama dramatically ramped up the drone program, in part because the government’s targeting intelligence on the ground had vastly improved and because the precision technology was very much in line with the new commander-in-chief’s “light footprint” approach to dealing with terrorism. As the al Qaeda threat has metastasized, U.S. drone operations have spread to more remote, unconventional battlefields in places like Yemen and Somalia. With more strikes, there have been more alleged civilian casualties. Adding to the mounting pressure for the administration to provide a legal and ethical rationale for its targeting polices was the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior commander of al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate, who also happened to be a U.S. citizen. (Two weeks later, his 16-year old son was killed in a drone strike, which U.S. officials have called an accident.) The recent nomination of Brennan to head the CIA became a kind of proxy battle over targeted killings and the administration’s reluctance to be more forthcoming about the covert program. At issue were a series of secret Justice Department legal opinions on targeted killing that the administration had refused to make public or turn over to Congress.
It looks like the White House may now be preparing to launch a campaign to counter the growing perception—with elites if not the majority of the public—that Obama is running a secretive and legally dubious killing machine. For weeks, though the White House has not confirmed it, administration officials have been whispering about the possibility that Obama would make a major speech about counterterrorism policy, including efforts to institutionalize—but also reform—the kinds of lethal operations that have been a hallmark of his war on terrorism. With an eye on posterity, Obama may feel the time has come to demonstrate publicly that his policies, for all of the criticism, have stayed within the law and American values. “Barack Obama has got to be concerned about his legacy,” says one former adviser. “He doesn’t want drones to become his Guantanamo.”
But for the president to step out publicly on the highly sensitive subject of targeted killings, he’s going to have to do more than simply give an eloquent speech. An initiative like shifting the CIA program to the military, as well as other aspects of the institutionalization plan, may be just what he needs.
How does the CIA’s targeted killing program differ from the military’s—and what are the implications of shifting one program into the other? Perhaps most important is that the CIA’s program is “covert”—which is to say it is not only highly classified, it’s deniable under the law. That means the CIA, in theory, can lie about the existence of the program or about particular operations. The military’s targeted killing program, however, is “clandestine”—which means it is secret but not deniable.
Losing its drone program will, at some level, be a blow to the CIA’s identity.
There are other important differences between how the two programs are run, especially the process by which killing decisions are made. Since the inception of the drone program, targeting decisions have been made inside the CIA with little or no input from other agencies, though the White House sometimes weighs in. In deciding who should be placed on its kill list, the military, on the other hand, subjects itself to robust interagency vetting, where officials and lawyers from across the national security bureaucracy weigh in on individual targeting “nominations.” While the CIA’s process is said to be extremely rigorous—in some ways even more rigorous than the military’s—the opportunity for, say, the State Department legal adviser to be heard on lethal activities adds an extra layer of accountability. With the CIA’s program moving to the Pentagon, DOD’s vetting procedures will prevail.
Another difference is the role of Obama himself. Upon taking office, Obama had decreed that he would sign off on individual kill or capture operations conducted by the military away from traditional battlefields; he does not, by contrast, sign off on all CIA strikes. (Obama’s sign-off authority on military drone strikes was a subject of contention during the recent Brennan-led internal reform process, according to a current and a former administration official. At one point, the military pushed hard to take the commander-in-chief out of the process. But the State Department and other agencies argued that letting the president call the shots was the ultimate form of accountability—and Obama ultimately retained his authority.)
There are other ways in which the military’s program is more constrained than the CIA’s. Typically, though not always, the military’s lethal activities occur under a congressional grant of authority in the context of an armed conflict. The CIA can resort to lethal force simply when the president issues a covert finding—one that the American people may never know about. Another key legal difference: the military considers itself bound by international law and specifically the laws of war. The CIA, on the other hand, has signaled that while it follows “all applicable law,” international law does not necessarily apply to all of its activities.
To be sure, even with these distinctions, it is not clear that the bureaucratic shift will usher in a new era of openness and accountability. For one thing, targeted killing operations will likely be run by the highly secretive Joint Special Operations Command, the umbrella organization for shadow warriors like the Navy SEALs and DELTA Force. And while they run clandestine, rather than covert operations, JSOC is not known for its eagerness to advertise its operations with the press or Congress.
In fact, there’s at least a chance that the change could mean less congressional oversight rather than more. There’s nothing in the law that says the military has to brief congressional committees about its lethal activities. The CIA, on the other hand, is compelled under Title 50 to notify Congress of its intelligence activities. Says Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and former Justice Department official during the Bush administration: “Moving lethal drone operations exclusively to DOD might bring benefits. But DOD’s lethal operations are no less secretive than the CIA’s, and congressional oversight of DOD ops is significantly weaker” compared to congressional oversight of the CIA. (Still, as a matter of policy, the Obama administration has taken it upon itself to “back brief” Congress after any of its targeted killings away from conventional battlefields.)
Losing its drone program will, at some level, be a blow to the CIA’s identity. The program has given the Agency a prominent and—ironically—highly visible role in the terror wars. And the spies can take credit for severely degrading, if not decimating, al Qaeda’s core organization in Pakistan. At the same time, according to multiple officials, there has been relatively little pushback from the CIA’s top leadership. One reason might be a sense of relief that the CIA would no longer own such a controversial program. The more likely reason? The man who engineered the idea—John Brennan—is now in charge.
Klaidman, a former NEWSWEEK managing editor, is writing a book on President Obama and terrorism to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012.
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WORLD So said Nicolas Maduro. He said that the Pentagon and the CIA are the organizers.
“I am calling on President Barack Obama from here, the Government of the United States responsibly (…) Roger Noriega, Otto Reich, senior Pentagon and CIA are behind a plot to assassinate presidential candidate Venezuelan right to create chaos in Venezuela, “he said. In an interview with the former vice president Jose Vicente Rangel and journalist transmitted by the private channel Televen, Maduro said he has “very good source of information” that these plans are designed to “throw blame the Bolivarian government and create chaos in Venezuela. “ Everything for the elections to be held on April 14 to elect a successor to President Hugo Chavez, who died on day 5 by a cancer that affected him for nearly two years. On Wednesday, President and denounced plans charge “of the far right” group U.S. linked to Noriega, former ambassador to U.S.to the OAS, and Reich, former ambassador to U.S. in Venezuela, Capriles to attack. ”We will ensure, and we have ordered and are doing well, all the protection for all presidential candidates, particularly at this”, Maduro reiterated stating that “there are sectors of the right Venezuelan involved in these plans. “ Moreover, Maduro said this week his government will decorate the two “worthy” U.S. diplomats Venezuelans Venezuela expelled after the last 5th declared persona non grata two members of the U.S. military attache in the country. ”They are representing the dignified voice of Venezuela, never went to the U.S. to conspire, never sought any Pentagon to tell military had to overthrow President Obama, “he said. U.S. Government decided last Monday deport Montañéz Orlando Olivares, second secretary of the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington, and Victor Mata Camacaro, consular official in New York, in response to the Venezuelan decision to expel two U.S. diplomats. On 5 March, hours before announcing the death of President Chavez, the Venezuelan government officials accused David DelMonaco and David Kostale of “destabilizing projects proposing” a Venezuelan military, which the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon have denied.
by Wayne White
With a long history of misguided, damaging American intervention and meddling in the Middle East, the reported CIA effort to target the al-Nusra Front in Syria by helping Iraqi anti-terrorism units to attack its roots in Iraq seems to be the former and possibly destined to be the latter.
The Sunni Arab politics of Iraq, already complicated by the 2003 American invasion, have been further harmed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s unremitting hostility toward Iraq’s Sunni Arab community. He and his Shi’a cronies bitterly opposed the American deal with Sunni Arab insurgents back in late 2006 through 2008, and attempted to undermine the arrangement while US-Sunni Arab Awakening efforts to take down much of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) were in progress.
In the years since, Maliki has been rather consistent in his exclusion of the bulk of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs from the Baghdad political mainstream. He has driven away many of those who have sought or secured office using the machinery of so-called “de-Ba’thification” and has even purged, assassinated or arrested large numbers of former Awakening cadres as well as various other key Sunni Arabs, often on trumped up charges of terrorism (or no formal charges at all — frequently employing his own extrajudicial security forces or Iraq’s mainly Shi’a Anti-Terrorism Service, which answers directly to him).
In this context, it is hardly surprising that a robust measure of Sunni Arab extremism flourishes in Iraq (apparently more now than back in 2008 when most Sunni Arabs were, by contrast, relatively more war-weary and eager for some sort of enduring engagement with the government in Baghdad). Resentment over Maliki’s disinterest in anything that would re-integrate Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority into much of the country’s core activities has done a lot to sustain a drumfire of AQI bombings inside Iraq and, since late 2011, sent gaggles of Islamic fighters from Iraq’s Sunni Arab northwest into the raging battle for Syria.
Al-Nusra probably is to a large extent an arm of AQI, as the US alleges, but also could be the recipient of many Iraqi fighters simply enraged over the plight of Sunni Arabs in their own country more generally. Additionally, there are quite a few historic tribal and family connections that extend far beyond the Syrian-Iraqi border, making events in Syria that much more palpably personal for quite a few Sunni Arabs inside Iraq.
So al-Nusra most likely is more than an organization; a phenomenon welling up from the profound resentment among many Sunni Arabs toward hostile political orders in both countries. If so, that’s not something that can be surgically extracted. Unfortunately, there always is the possibility that somewhere down the road a frustrated Washington (after Baghdad inevitably fails to address al-Nusra, just as it has been unable to deal a crippling blow to AQI) might think drones offer such a capability. If, however, they ever were employed over Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, the anger currently aimed primarily at the Maliki government and the Assad regime would become far more focused on the US.
Al-Nusra clearly is an unwelcome and dangerous player on the opposition side amidst the fighting in Syria. Yet, the sheer length, brutality, mass destruction, horrific casualties and more than a million refugees generated by the violence so far, predictably have rendered more extreme certain elements of the opposition. The seeming rise in regime-like rebel atrocities most likely is linked to some extent to the duration of the carnage.
The US already has become unpopular in broad Syrian opposition and popular circles for not providing desperately needed military assistance. At first, this frustration centered upon frantic requests for a US/NATO no fly zone over Syria. Since hope for that evaporated, attention shifted to arms and ammunition needed by rebels to take on regime-armored vehicles and air power. Some oppositionists in Syria may understand why the US remains wary of providing surface to air missiles that could very well fall into the hands of international terrorist groups, but anti-tank rockets are less of a concern in that respect. Yet, Washington decided not to send any arms whatsoever to opposition fighters — even vetted ones — late last summer and once again recently.
The US designation of al-Nusra as a terrorist group does not appear to have reduced that group’s high military profile as the tip of the opposition’s combat spear against the forces of the Assad regime. And involving the US in a campaign against al-Nusra’s support base in Iraq now could easily be perceived more broadly as being anti-Sunni Arab. After all, many of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs might ask pointedly why the US has chosen not to take a stronger stand against Maliki’s ongoing persecution of and human rights violations against Iraq’s Sunni Arab community — concerns that extend far beyond AQI and its supporters.
Iraq essentially remains in a state of sectarian conflict with Maliki playing the leading role as provocateur. The opposition effort to take down the Assad regime in Syria also has become, in large measure, a sectarian conflict.
By doing little to cross Maliki about his mistreatment of Sunni Arabs, going after al-Nusra in Iraq and providing meager support to the Syrian opposition, Washington potentially is setting itself up to be viewed — at least by Sunni Arab participants in these struggles — as anti-Sunni Arab across much of the greater Arab al-Jazira region as well as the northern Levant. The US faces enough grievances in the region as it is. Why add more to the list?
The strategy is part of the agency’s secret contingency planning to protect the U.S. and its allies as the violence there grows. Some militants in Syria are seen as closely linked to Al Qaeda.
A Syrian rebel is silhouetted against a flaming tire while firing at an army checkpoint in a suburb of Damascus. (Associated Press)
WASHINGTON — The CIA has stepped up secret contingency planning to protect the United States and its allies as the turmoil expands in Syria, including collecting intelligence on Islamic extremists for the first time for possible lethal drone strikes, according to current and former U.S. officials.
President Obama has not authorized drone missile strikes in Syria, however, and none are under consideration.
The Counterterrorism Center, which runs the CIA’s covert drone killing program in Pakistan and Yemen, recently shifted several targeting officers to improve intelligence collection on militants in Syria who could pose a terrorist threat, the officials said.
The targeting officers have formed a unit with colleagues who were tracking Al Qaeda operatives and fighters in Iraq. U.S. officials believe that some of these operatives have moved to Syria and joined Islamic militias battling to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
The CIA effort, which involves assembling detailed dossiers on key militants, gives the White House both lethal and nonlethal options if it concludes that Syria’s 2-year-old civil war — which has caused 70,000 deaths, according to United Nations estimates — is creating a haven for terrorists. The intelligence files also could be used to help opposition figures with moderate views prevail over extremists.
The targeting is part of an array of CIA and Pentagon responses and contingency plans as the Syrian bloodletting steadily worsens, threatening regional stability. Other proposals include plans to seize or destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, which are closely monitored by U.S. intelligence, to prevent their misuse.
The targeting officers focusing on Syria are based at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., officials said. The agency has not deployed many American operatives into the war zone, but it works closely with Saudi, Jordanian and other regional spy services active there. CIA officers meet with Syrian rebel leaders in Turkey and Jordan, current and former officials say.
The increased U.S. effort comes as radicalized Islamic fighters have won a growing share of rebel victories. The State Department says one of the strongest militias, Al Nusra Front, is a terrorist organization that is indistinguishable from the group Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Amnesty International reported Thursday that some Syrian opposition fighters routinely executed captives and suspected informants, although the group said Assad’s security forces were even more brutal.
At least in public, the White House has limited the U.S. role in the war to sending food and medical supplies to rebels, as well as aid to nearby countries that have taken in nearly 1 million refugees. U.S. allies are providing weapons and ammunition to the rebels, but Obama so far has objected to proposals for more aggressive U.S. intervention.
The CIA and the White House declined requests for comment Friday on the targeting effort.
CIA targeting officers normally assemble bits of intelligence — including agent reports, cellphone intercepts, video footage, public records, tips from foreign spy services — to create folders known as “targeting packages,” for a variety of reasons.
They can be used if policymakers determine further surveillance, arrest or other action is warranted. The CIA has created nonlethal targeting packages, for example, for drug cartel leaders in Mexico and nuclear scientists in Iran. The agency views skilled targeting officers as critical to almost any current intelligence operation.
Nada Bakos, a former CIA targeting officer who helped track down Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda in Iraq leader who was killed by U.S. forces in 2006, said the intense focus entailed “trying to figure out what they are doing and how to go about stopping it.”
Identifying possible threats in Syria would be “a logical step if the policy community sends a signal that, ‘Hey, you guys might want to think about how you would respond to a possible request for plans about how you would thin the herd of the future insurgency,’” said a former CIA officer with experience in the Middle East.
U.S. lethal action in Syria is not unprecedented. In October 2008, the CIA and U.S. special operations forces conducted a helicopter assault across the Iraqi border into eastern Syria. The raid killed Abu Ghadiya, a logistics commander for Al Qaeda who allegedly smuggled weapons, money and foreign fighters from Syria into Iraq during the insurgency there.
No evidence suggests the CIA or Pentagon has launched airstrikes against Al Qaeda militants in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew in December 2011. But some extremists have joined militias in Syria and aspire to attack U.S. facilities or allies, officials said.
In October, Jordanian authorities announced the arrest of 11 people with connections to Al Qaeda in Iraq on suspicion of plotting a major terrorist attack. They said the group’s targets included the U.S. Embassy in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
Some former CIA officials expressed skepticism about any idea of using armed drones in Syria. There is no evidence, they said, that Syrian militants pose a threat to the U.S. homeland.
“If we do this, why don’t we start droning people in Hezbollah?” asked a former CIA officer who worked in Iraq, referring to the Lebanon-based militant group that Washington considers a terrorist organization. “It opens the door for a lot of other things.”
[SEE: The Informants]
How FBI sting operations make jihadists out of hapless malcontents
Imagine a country in which the government pays convicted con artists and criminals to scour minority religious communities for disgruntled, financially desperate, or mentally ill patsies who can be talked into joining fake terrorist plots, even if only for money. Imagine that the country’s government then busts its patsies with great fanfare to justify ever-increasing authority and ever-increasing funding. According to journalist Trevor Aaronson’s The Terror Factory, this isn’t the premise for a Kafka novel; it’s reality in the post-9/11 United States.
The Terror Factory is a well-researched and fast-paced exposé of the dubious tactics the FBI has used in targeting Muslim Americans with sting operations since 2001. The book updates and expands upon Aaronson’s award-winning 2011 Mother Jones cover story “The Informants.” Most readers likely have heard about several alleged conspiracies to attack skyscrapers, synagogues, or subway stations, involving either individuals whom the FBI calls “lone wolves” or small cells that a credulous press has tagged with such sinister appellations as the Newburgh 4 or the Liberty City 7. But they may be astonished to learn that many of these frightening plots were almost entirely concocted and engineered by the FBI itself, using corrupt agents provocateurs who often posed a far more serious criminal threat than the dimwitted saps the investigations ultimately netted.
Drawing on court records and interviews with the defendants, their lawyers, their families, and the FBI officials and prosecutors who oversaw the investigations, Aaronson portrays an agency that has adopted an “any means necessary” approach to its terrorism prevention efforts, regardless of whether real terrorists are being caught. To the FBI, this imperative justifies recruiting informants with extensive criminal records, including convictions for fraud, violent crimes, and even child molestation, that in an earlier era would have disqualified them except in the most extraordinary circumstances.
In addition to offering lenience, if not forgiveness, for heinous crimes, the FBI pays these informants tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, creating a perverse incentive for them to ensnare dupes into terrorist plots. Aaronson quotes an FBI official defending this practice: “To catch the devil you have to go to hell.”
Such an analysis might make sense when police leverage one criminal to gain information about more-serious criminal conspiracies—in other words, to catch a real “devil.” But Aaronson’s research reveals that the targets in most of these sting operations posed little real threat. They may have had a history of angry anti-government rhetoric, but they took no steps toward terrorist acts until they received encouragement and resources from government agents.
Aaronson describes the case of an unemployed and practically homeless 22-year-old named Derrick Shareef, befriended by an FBI informant with an armed robbery conviction who gave him a place to live. When Shareef couldn’t (or wouldn’t) raise the money to buy weapons needed for a plot suggested by the informant, he was introduced to a faux weapons dealer who was willing to trade four hand grenades and a pistol for Shareef’s used stereo speakers. The fact that Shareef believed a real weapons dealer would accept such a barter provides a clue as to his criminal experience.
Aaronson correctly takes pains to avoid portraying those caught in the stings as completely innocent of malice. But he demonstrates that they almost universally lack violent criminal histories or connections to real terrorist groups. Most important, while they may have talked about committing violent acts, they rarely had weapons of their own and, like Shareef, usually lacked the financial means to acquire them. Yet the government provided them with military hardware worth thousands of dollars that would be extremely difficult for even sophisticated criminal organizations to obtain, only to bust them in a staged finale.
This aspect of Aaronson’s narrative is most troubling to me, as a former FBI agent who worked undercover in domestic terrorism investigations before 9/11. Prior to September 11, 2001, if an agent had suggested opening a terrorism case against someone who was not a member of a terrorist group, who had not attempted to acquire weapons, and who didn’t have the means to obtain them, he would have been gently encouraged to look for a more serious threat. An agent who suggested giving such a person a stinger missile or a car full of military-grade plastic explosives would have been sent to counseling. Yet in Aaronson’s telling, such techniques are now becoming commonplace.
My concern is partly that the artificially inflated scale of the threat in these cases seems designed to overwhelm judges, jurors, and the general public, who might otherwise view such methods as illegal entrapment. The FBI often announces these arrests with great fanfare, highlighting the scope of the damage that could have been caused by weapons provided entirely by the government. Such pretrial publicity creates a climate of fear that is likely to influence judges and jurors.
Indeed, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon severely criticized the investigation that led to the 2009 arrest of James Cromitie, a small-time ex-con from Newburgh, New York, whose apparent reluctance to join a fake missile plot was overcome when an informant offered him $250,000 to participate. At his sentencing, Judge McMahon observed that “only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope.” Yet McMahon let the jury’s conviction stand and sentenced Cromitie to 25 years in prison. Of 150 defendants charged in these schemes, Aaronson documents only two acquittals.
The exaggerated significance of these manufactured terrorist plots also raises the possible penalties for those charged, due to “terrorism enhancement” sentencing provisions. The majority of defendants plead guilty to mitigate draconian penalties, raising an additional question of whether the purpose of this government tactic is to avoid judicial and public scrutiny altogether. Law enforcement has no business staging theatrical productions that intentionally exaggerate the seriousness of a defendant’s criminal conduct.
Even more unsettling is the flawed reasoning that drives the use of these methods. FBI agents have been inundated with bigoted training materials that falsely portray Arabs and Muslims as inherently violent. The FBI also has embraced an unfounded theory of “radicalization” that alleges a direct progression from adopting certain beliefs, or expressing opposition to U.S. policies, to becoming a terrorist. With such a skewed and biased view of the American Muslim community, the FBI’s strategy of “preemption, prevention, and disruption” results in abusive surveillance, targeting, and exploitation of innocent people based simply on their exercise of their First Amendment rights.
Aaronson fails, however, to recognize that these tactics are neither new to the FBI nor exclusively used against Muslims. The FBI’s earliest documented use of agents provocateurs with criminal backgrounds was revealed during congressional investigations of labor “radicals,” pacifists, and socialists in 1918. The bureau’s investigations of radicals led to nationwide warrantless raids, resulting in thousands of arrests and hundreds of deportations, yet solved no terrorist bombings and discovered less than a handful of firearms. Although reforms were implemented, decades later the Church Committee’s inquiries revealed that covert operations conducted as part of the FBI’s COINTELPRO investigations had targeted civil rights and anti-war groups because of their First Amendment–protected activities from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Recalling this history is important because in both cases, reform of these improper practices was implemented by restricting FBI intelligence activities and requiring a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before initiating investigations. These restrictions have once again been relaxed, and the rapid increase in sting operations under the Obama administration that Aaronson documents is directly attributable to amendments made to the FBI’s guidelines in 2008, authorizing the use of informants without requiring any factual predicate of wrongdoing. The FBI also has used these dubious tactics against aged anti-government militiamen and misfit anarchists, so Muslims are not the only targets in its crosshairs.
Without reforms to FBI guidelines, anyone holding unorthodox views or challenging government policies could find himself targeted by overzealous federal agents using unscrupulous informants. The FBI should be investigating violent crime, not inventing it.
In 2004, with the war in Iraq going from bad to worse, the US drafted in a veteran of Central America’s dirty wars to help set up a new force to fight the insurgency. The result: secret detention centres, torture and a spiral into sectarian carnage
An exclusive golf course backs onto a spacious two-storey house. A coiled green garden hose lies on the lawn. The grey-slatted wooden shutters are closed. And, like the other deserted luxury houses in this gated community near Bryan, Texas, nothing moves.
Retired Colonel Jim Steele, whose military decorations include the Silver Star, the Defence Distinguished Service Medal, four Legions of Merit, three Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart, is not at home. Nor is he at his office headquarters in Geneva, where he is listed as the chief executive officer of Buchanan Renewables, an energy company. Similar efforts to track him down at his company’s office in Monrovia are futile. Messages are left. He doesn’t call back.
For over a year the Guardian has been trying to contact Steele, 68, to ask him about his role during the Iraq war as US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s personal envoy to Iraq’s Special Police Commandos: a fearsome paramilitary force that ran a secret network of detention centres across the country – where those suspected of rebelling against the US-led invasion were tortured for information.
On the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion the allegations of American links to the units that eventually accelerated Iraq’s descent into civil war cast the US occupation in a new and even more controversial light. The investigation was sparked over a year ago by millions of classified US military documents dumped onto the internet and their mysterious references to US soldiers ordered to ignore torture. Private Bradley Manning, 25, is facing a 20-year sentence, accused of leaking military secrets.
Steele’s contribution was pivotal. He was the covert US figure behind the intelligence gathering of the new commando units. The aim: to halt a nascent Sunni insurgency in its tracks by extracting information from detainees.
It was a role made for Steele. The veteran had made his name in El Salvador almost 20 years earlier as head of a US group of special forces advisers who were training and funding the Salvadoran military to fight the FNLM guerrilla insurgency. These government units developed a fearsome international reputation for their death squad activities. Steele’s own biography describes his work there as the “training of the best counterinsurgency force” in El Salvador.
Of his El Salvador experience in 1986, Steele told Dr Max Manwaring, the author of El Salvador at War: An Oral History: “When I arrived here there was a tendency to focus on technical indicators … but in an insurgency the focus has to be on human aspects. That means getting people to talk to you.”
But the arming of one side of the conflict by the US hastened the country’s descent into a civil war in which 75,000 people died and 1 million out of a population of 6 million became refugees.
Celerino Castillo, a Senior Drug Enforcement Administration special agent who worked alongside Steele in El Salvador, says: “I first heard about Colonel James Steele going to Iraq and I said they’re going to implement what is known as the Salvadoran Option in Iraq and that’s exactly what happened. And I was devastated because I knew the atrocities that were going to occur in Iraq which we knew had occurred in El Salvador.”
It was in El Salvador that Steele first came in to close contact with the man who would eventually command US operations in Iraq: David Petraeus. Then a young major, Petraeus visited El Salvador in 1986 and reportedly even stayed with Steele at his house.
But while Petraeus headed for the top, Steele’s career hit an unexpected buffer when he was embroiled in the Iran-Contra affair. A helicopter pilot, who also had a licence to fly jets, he ran the airport from where the American advisers illegally ran guns to right-wing Contra guerrillas in Nicaragua. While the congressional inquiry that followed put an end to Steele’s military ambitions, it won him the admiration of then congressman Dick Cheney who sat on the committee and admired Steele’s efforts fighting leftists in both Nicaragua and El Salvador.
In late 1989 Cheney was in charge of the US invasion of Panama to overthrow their once favoured son, General Manuel Noriega. Cheney picked Steele to take charge of organising a new police force in Panama and be the chief liaison between the new government and the US military.
Todd Greentree, who worked in the US embassy in El Salvador and knew Steele, was not surprised at the way he resurfaced in other conflict zones. “It’s not called ‘dirty war’ for nothing; so it’s no surprise to see individuals who are associated and sort of know the ins-and-outs of that kind of war, reappear at different points in these conflicts,” he says.
A generation later, and half the world away, America’s war in Iraq was going from bad to worse. It was 2004 – the neo-cons had dismantled the Ba’athist party apparatus, and that had fostered anarchy. A mainly Sunni uprising was gaining ground and causing major problems in Fallujah and Mosul. There was a violent backlash against the US occupation that was claiming over 50 American lives a month by 2004.
The US Army was facing an unconventional, guerrilla insurgency in a country it knew little about. There was already talk in Washington DC of using the Salvador option in Iraq and the man who would spearhead that strategy was already in place.
Soon after the invasion in March 2003 Jim Steele was in Baghdad as one of the White House’s most important “consultants”, sending back reports to Rumsfeld. His memos were so valued that Rumsfeld passed them on to George Bush and Cheney. Rumsfeld spoke of him in glowing terms. “We had discussion with General Petraeus yesterday and I had a briefing today from a man named Steele who’s been out there working with the security forces and been doing a wonderful job as a civilian as a matter of fact.”
In June 2004 Petraeus arrived in Baghdad with the brief to train a new Iraqi police force with an emphasis on counterinsurgency. Steele and serving US colonel James Coffman introduced Petraeus to a small hardened group of police commandos, many of them among the toughest survivors of the old regime, including General Adnan Thabit, sentenced to death for a failed plot against Saddam but saved by the US invasion. Thabit, selected by the Americans to run the Special Police Commandos, developed a close relationship with the new advisers. “They became my friends. My advisers, James Steele and Colonel Coffman, were all from special forces, so I benefited from their experience … but the main person I used to contact was David Petraeus.”
With Steele and Coffman as his point men, Petraeus began pouring money from a multimillion dollar fund into what would become the Special Police Commandos. According to the US Government Accounts Office, they received a share of an $8.2bn (£5.4bn) fund paid for by the US taxpayer. The exact amount they received is classified.
With Petraeus’s almost unlimited access to money and weapons, and Steele’s field expertise in counterinsurgency the stage was set for the commandos to emerge as a terrifying force. One more element would complete the picture. The US had barred members of the violent Shia militias like the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army from joining the security forces, but by the summer of 2004 they had lifted the ban.
Shia militia members from all over the country arrived in Baghdad “by the lorry-load” to join the new commandos. These men were eager to fight the Sunnis: many sought revenge for decades of Sunni-supported, brutal Saddam rule, and a chance to hit back at the violent insurgents and the indiscriminate terror of al-Qaida.
Petraeus and Steele would unleash this local force on the Sunni population as well as the insurgents and their supporters and anyone else who was unlucky enough to get in the way. It was classic counterinsurgency. It was also letting a lethal, sectarian genie out of the bottle. The consequences for Iraqi society would be catastrophic. At the height of the civil war two years later 3,000 bodies a month were turning up on the streets of Iraq — many of them innocent civilians of sectarian war.
But it was the actions of the commandos inside the detention centres that raises the most troubling questions for their American masters. Desperate for information, the commandos set up a network of secret detention centres where insurgents could be brought and information extracted from them.
The commandos used the most brutal methods to make detainees talk. There is no evidence that Steele or Coffman took part in these torture sessions, but General Muntadher al Samari, a former general in the Iraqi army, who worked after the invasion with the US to rebuild the police force, claims that they knew exactly what was going on and were supplying the commandos with lists of people they wanted brought in. He says he tried to stop the torture, but failed and fled the country.
“We were having lunch. Col Steele, Col Coffman, and the door opened and Captain Jabr was there torturing a prisoner. He [the victim] was hanging upside down and Steele got up and just closed the door, he didn’t say anything – it was just normal for him.”
He says there were 13 to 14 secret prisons in Baghdad under the control of the interior ministry and used by the Special Police Commandos. He alleges that Steele and Coffman had access to all these prisons and that he visited one in Baghdad with both men.
“They were secret, never declared. But the American top brass and the Iraqi leadership knew all about these prisons. The things that went on there: drilling, murder, torture. The ugliest sort of torture I’ve ever seen.”
According to one soldier with the 69th Armoured Regiment who was deployed in Samarra in 2005 but who doesn’t want to be identified: “It was like the Nazis … like the Gestapo basically. They [the commandos] would essentially torture anybody that they had good reason to suspect, knew something, or was part of the insurgency … or supporting it, and people knew about that.”
The Guardian interviewed six torture victims as part of this investigation. One, a man who says he was held for 20 days, said: “There was no sleep. From the sunset, the torture would start on me and on the other prisoners.
“They wanted confessions. They’d say: ‘Confess to what have you done.’ When you say: ‘I have done nothing. Shall I confess about something I have not done?’, they said: ‘Yes, this is our way. The Americans told us to bring as many detainees as possible in order to keep them frightened.’
“I did not confess about anything, although I was tortured and [they] took off my toenails.”
Neil Smith, a 20-year-old medic who was based in Samarra, remembers what low ranking US soldiers in the canteen said. “What was pretty widely known in our battalion, definitely in our platoon, was that they were pretty violent with their interrogations. That they would beat people, shock them with electrical shock, stab them, I don’t know what else … it sounds like pretty awful things. If you sent a guy there he was going to get tortured and perhaps raped or whatever, humiliated and brutalised by the special commandos in order for them to get whatever information they wanted.”
He now lives in Detroit and is a born-again Christian. He spoke to the Guardian because he said he now considered it his religious duty to speak out about what he saw. “I don’t think folks back home in America had any idea what American soldiers were involved in over there, the torture and all kinds of stuff.”
Through Facebook, Twitter and social media the Guardian managed to make contact with three soldiers who confirmed they were handing over detainees to be tortured by the special commandos, but none except Smith were prepared to go on camera.
“If somebody gets arrested and we hand them over to MoI they’re going to get their balls hooked, electrocuted or they’re going to get beaten or raped up the ass with a coke bottle or something like that,” one said.
He left the army in September 2006. Now 28, he works with refugees from the Arab world in Detroit teaching recent arrivals, including Iraqis, English.
“I suppose it is my way of saying sorry,” he said.
When the Guardian/BBC Arabic posed questions to Petraeus about torture and his relationship with Steele it received in reply a statement from an official close to the general saying, “General (Ret) Petraeus’s record, which includes instructions to his own soldiers … reflects his clear opposition to any form of torture.”
“Colonel (Ret) Steele was one of thousands of advisers to Iraqi units, working in the area of the Iraqi police. There was no set frequency for Colonel Steele’s meetings with General Petraeus, although General Petraeus did see him on a number of occasions during the establishment and initial deployments of the special police, in which Colonel Steele played a significant role.”
But Peter Maass, then reporting for the New York Times, and who has interviewed both men, remembers the relationship differently: “I talked to both of them about each other and it was very clear that they were very close to each other in terms of their command relationship and also in terms of their ideas and ideology of what needed to be done. Everybody knew that he was Petraeus’s man. Even Steele defined himself as Petraeus’s man.”
Maass and photographer Gilles Peress gained a unique audience with Steele at a library-turned-detention-centre in Samarra. “What I heard is prisoners screaming all night long,” Peress said. “You know at which point you had a young US captain telling his soldiers, don’t, just don’t come near this.”
Two men from Samarra who were imprisoned at the library spoke to the Guardian investigation team. “We’d be tied to a spit or we’d be hung from the ceiling by our hands and our shoulders would be dislocated,” one told us. The second said: “They electrocuted me. They hung me up from the ceiling. They were pulling at my ears with pliers, stamping on my head, asking me about my wife, saying they would bring her here.”
According to Maass in an interview for the investigation: “The interrogation centre was the only place in the mini green zone in Samarra that I was not allowed to visit. However, one day, Jim Steele said to me, ‘hey, they’ve just captured a Saudi jihadi. Would you like to interview him?’
“I’m taken not into the main area, the kind of main hall – although out the corner of my eye I can see that there were a lot of prisoners in there with their hands tied behind their backs – I was taken to a side office where the Saudi was brought in, and there was actually blood dripping down the side of this desk in the office.
Peress picks up the story: “We were in a room in the library interviewing Steele and I look around and I see blood everywhere, you know. He (Steele) hears the scream from the other guy who’s being tortured as we speak, there’s the blood stains in the corner of the desk in front of him.”
Maass says: “And while this interview was going on with this Saudi with Jim Steele also in the room, there were these terrible screams, somebody shouting Allah Allah Allah. But it wasn’t kind of religious ecstasy or something like that, these were screams of pain and terror.”
One of the torture survivors remembers how Adnan Thabit “came into the library and he told Captain Dorade and Captain Ali, go easy on the prisoners. Don’t dislocate their shoulders. This was because people were having to undergo surgery when they were released from the library.”
General Muntadher fled after two close colleagues were killed after they were summoned to the ministry, their bodies found on a rubbish tip. He got out of Iraq and went to Jordan. In less than a month, he says, Steele contacted him. Steele was anxious to meet and suggested he come to the luxury Sheraton hotel in Amman where Steele was staying. They met in the lobby at 8pm and Steele kept him talking for nearly two hours.
“He was asking me about the prisons. I was surprised by the questions and I reminded him that these were the same prisons where we both used to work. I reminded him of the incident where he had opened the door and Colonel Jabr was torturing one of the prisoners and how he didn’t do anything. Steele said: ‘But I remember that I told the officer off’. So I said to him: ‘No, you didn’t — you didn’t tell the officer off. You didn’t even tell General Adnan Thabit that this officer was committing human rights abuses against these prisoners’. And he was silent. He didn’t comment or answer. I was surprised by this.”
According to General Muntadher: “He wanted to know specifically: did I have any information about him, James Steele? Did I have evidence against him? Photographs, documents: things which proved he committed things in Iraq; things he was worried I might reveal. This was the purpose of his visit.
“I am prepared to go to the international court and stand in front of them and swear that high-ranking officials such as James Steele witnessed crimes against human rights in Iraq. They didn’t stop it happening and they didn’t punish the perpetrators.”
Steele, the man, remains an enigma. He left Iraq in September 2005 and has since pursued energy interests, joining the group of companies of Texas oilman Robert Mosbacher. Until now he has stayed where he likes to be – far from the media spotlight. Were it not for Bradley Manning’s leaking of millions of US military logs to Wikileaks, which lifted the lid on alleged abuses by the US in Iraq, there he may well have remained. Footage and images of him are rare. One video clip just 12 seconds long features in the hour-long TV investigation into his work. It captures Steele, then a 58-year-old veteran in Iraq, hesitating, looking uncomfortable when he spots a passing camera.
He draws back from the lens, watching warily out of the side of his eye and then pulls himself out of sight.
No amount of lying Pentagon propaganda can hide the reality that the war has been an unmitigated disaster for the Afghan people and for the thousands of dead and tens of thousands of maimed troops sent to kill and die there in the interests of empire
By Richard Becker
On March 1, a U.S./NATO helicopter gunship killed two Afghan brothers, seven and eight years of age, as they tended cattle in Uruzgan province. According to reports from residents, the boys were listening to a radio, which the helicopter crew interpreted as “radio signals” from Afghan resistance fighters.
The latest killing comes amidst a series of atrocities against civilians that has further enflamed opposition to the ongoing occupation.
On. Feb. 24, Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-installed “president” of Afghanistan, announced that he was demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. Special Forces troops from Wardak province within two weeks. Wardak is a key strategic region and an area of active resistance to the U.S./NATO occupation.
Will NATO commanders pay any more attention to Karzai’s latest “order” than the many earlier ones that NATO forces ignored and Karzai quietly dropped? Not likely.
What prompted Karzai’s latest proclamation was explained in a statement from his office, which read in part: “After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as US special force[s] stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.
“A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge.”
While U.S. commanders predictably denied the accusations, the level of popular anger in Wardak was made clear by street protests and threats by civilian groups to join the armed resistance if U.S. forces were not withdrawn.
On Feb. 26, 500 people marched in protest of the killings. “If the situation remains like this, this province will collapse very soon,” protester Haji Abdul Qadim told the Reuters news service. “People will join the insurgency very soon because of the abuses of these forces.”
In another recent incident brought to international attention on Feb. 26, a Swedish organization that operates health clinics in Afghanistan said that U.S. military forces occupied and damaged one of their clinics in Wardak on Feb. 11.
The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said in a statement: “Foreign soldiers entered the health facility by force, tied up and blindfolded the guard on duty, and occupied the facility.”
Andreas Stefansson, director of SCA, said that it was the second time one of SCA’s clinics had been occupied by NATO troops. The previous occupation lasted three days. Stefansson said that NATO has promised that such an occupation would not happen again.
“What we are seeking is that they actually live up to what they say,” Stefansson said. (Reuters, Feb. 26)
On Feb. 13, 10 people, including women and children, were killed in a NATO air strike in Kunar province. On June 6, 2012, 18 civilians were killed in a strike in Logar province. The grisly list of “accidental” killings stretches back a decade.
A ‘president’ in name only
These atrocities and the daily abuses that inevitably accompany imperialist occupation are the source of burning anger among the Afghan people. In the eyes of the population, Karzai shares blame with the occupiers for these outrages. Thus, Karzai’s repeated “orders” forbidding Afghan army units from calling in U.S./NATO air support and for U.S. troops to withdraw from Wardak and stop the hated “night raids” on people’s homes.
In reality, the lowest level U.S. commander has greater military authority than does the ‘president’ of the country.
But his proclamations continue to be disregarded by the occupation forces, exposing the actual power relationship in the country. In reality, the lowest level U.S. commander has greater military authority than does the “president” of the country.
Further illuminating both this relationship and the U.S. intention to maintain a dominant role in Afghanistan was a Feb. 3 joint interview with then-Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. Panetta and Dempsey reaffirmed that the United States would sustain a “strategic partnership” with Afghanistan, citing a decision by the NATO heads of state during a 2012 summit meeting in Chicago to maintain a long-term presence in the country despite a drawdown in the number of U.S. ground troops in the country.
“We’re committing to an enduring presence,” Mr. Panetta said on Feb. 3.
“Strategic partnership” and “enduring presence” are more Washington weasel words for continuing colonial domination over Afghanistan.
On Feb. 26, it was revealed that claims of resistance attacks inside the country declining by 7 percent in 2012 were just one more Pentagon lie. The 7 percent figure was posted on the International Security Assistance Force (the official name of the U.S./NATO force in Afghanistan) website in January, to bolster the administration’s “positive track” line about the war.
When the Associated Press made inquiries about the statistics, NATO officials in Kabul immediately backtracked, stated that they had “erred,” and admitted that in fact, there was no decline at all.
Costs of war
Eleven and a half years of U.S./NATO war and occupation have been a disaster for all but a tiny sliver of the Afghan population.
Despite tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-funded “reconstruction aid,” Afghanistan remains one of the very poorest countries on the face of the Earth. The total U.S. budget for the Afghanistan war is over $640 billion and counting. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
While U.S. and other NATO-country contractors, and elements of the Afghan elite, have become incredibly rich from this “aid,” the Afghan government presently spends a miniscule $46 per year on health care per person. (GlobalHealthFacts.org)
Afghanistan ranks as the worst country in the world for infant mortality, with a shocking 122 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. (CIA World Factbook 2013) By way of comparison, the infant mortality rate is 6 per 1,000 in the U.S. and 4.8 per 1,000 in Cuba. Life expectancy is just 49 years. Afghanistan is listed as 172nd out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index, with the average adult having 3.3 years of schooling.
In addition to the tens of thousands killed and hundreds of thousands wounded in the war, more than 2.7 million Afghans remain external refugees, most in Pakistan and Iran, and 425,000 are internally displaced. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2012
No amount of lying Pentagon propaganda can hide the reality that the war has been an unmitigated disaster for the Afghan people and for the thousands of dead and tens of thousands of maimed troops sent to kill and die there in the interests of empire.
[Karzai says that Taliban are zeroed-in on the alleged 2014 date, executing bombings with the intent of convincing the Afghan govt. that Western forces will be needed into the indefinite future, collaborating with the Pentagon for common purpose. Karzai is calling-out the Americans for staging a bloody, fake terror war with the Taliban's help. He has accused the Americans with the same charge that he has been levelling at the Pakistanis, of working with or supporting the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan and the US have been working together in Pakistan to stage a phony terror war, now Karzai points-out that the same thing has been happening in his country. US Special Forces have been given until today to get out of Maidan Wardak. If Karzai is seriously trying to expose the entire criminal "simulated war" and to put it to an end, then the new Sec. Defense Hagel will be wasting his breath and really getting an earful at his meeting with Karzai today.]
Associated Press in Kabul
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accused the Taliban and the US of working in concert to convince Afghans that violence will worsen if most foreign troops leave as planned by the end of next year.
Karzai said two suicide bombings that killed 19 people on Saturday — one outside the Afghan Defence Ministry and the other near a police checkpoint in eastern Khost province — show the insurgent group is conducting attacks to help show that international forces will still be needed to keep the peace after their current combat mission ends next year.
“The explosions in Kabul and Khost yesterday showed that they are at the service of America and at the service of this phrase: next year. They are trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan, we would be facing these sorts of incidents,” he said during a nationally televised speech about the state of Afghan women.
There was no immediate response from the US-led military coalition, which is gradually handing over responsibility for securing the country to Afghan forces.
Karzai is known for making incendiary comments in his public speeches, a move that is often attributed to him trying to appeal to those who sympathise with the Taliban or as a way to gain leverage when he feels his international allies are ignoring his country’s sovereignty. In previous speeches he has threatened to join the Taliban and called his Nato allies occupiers who want to plunder Afghanistan’s resources.
His latest remarks come as his government is negotiating a pact with the US for the long-term presence of American forces in Afghanistan and just days after an agreement to transfer the US prison outside of Kabul to Afghan authority fell through. His comments also came while US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel is making his first visit to Afghanistan since becoming the Pentagon chief.
Karzai said in his speech that any foreign powers that want to keep troops in Afghanistan need to do so under conditions set forward by Afghanistan.
“We will tell them where we need them, and under which conditions. They must respect our laws. They must respect the national sovereignty of our country and must respect all our customs,” Karzai said.
Karzai offered no proof of coordination, but said the Taliban and the United States were in “daily negotiations” in various foreign countries and noted that the United States has said that it no longer considers the insurgent group its enemy. The US continues to fight against the Taliban and other militant groups, but has expressed its backing for formal peace talks with the Taliban to find a political resolution to the war.
Karzai said he did not believe the Taliban’s claim that they launched Saturday’s attacks to show they are still a potent force fighting the United States. “Yesterday’s explosions, which the Taliban claimed, show that in reality they are saying they want the presence of foreigners in Afghanistan,” Karzai said.
[The Army's flawed approach to treating battle-related stress disabilities has been apparent for many years (SEE: Human Nature Is the Enemy of the State). Developing better, more efficient behavioral control techniques, that will allow soldiers to get over their mental hang-ups and teach them ways to "man-up" has not helped to stop the escalation of war-related military suicides and violent crime sprees. The reason that so many returning veterans cannot live with their memories is the shame and guilt for the things that they have seen and done. There is no way to disconnect a man from well-earned remorse and no reliable method for ensuring that he can forget his past. Until this happens, decent men will return home to their families, which eerily resemble the decimated families seen by the soldier in Afghanistan and Iraq. There will continue to be a fairly large percentage of American recruits who cannot rationalize the killing of foreign families to keep American fuel prices low. Their minds will continue to snap like overstretched, sun-dried rubber bands, as long as they are used and abused to wage wars of aggression.]
An Army report released Friday finds the service still has trouble diagnosing and treating soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder, despite more than doubling its number of military and civilian behavioral health workers over the past five years.
By GENE JOHNSON
An Army report released Friday finds the service still has trouble diagnosing and treating soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder, despite more than doubling its number of military and civilian behavioral health workers over the past five years.
Confusing paperwork, inconsistent training and guidelines, and incompatible data systems have hindered the service as it tries to deal with behavioral health issues, the report said. It’s a crucial issue: After a decade of war, soldier suicides outpace combat deaths.
Last May, the Army commissioned a task force to conduct a sweeping review of how it evaluates soldiers for mental health problems at all its facilities. The review came under pressure from Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, of Washington, who was upset to learn that hundreds of soldiers at Madigan Army Medical Center south of Seattle had had their PTSD diagnoses reversed by a forensic psychiatry team, resulting in a potential cut to their benefits and questions about whether the changes were made to save money.
About 150 of those soldiers eventually had their diagnoses restored.
“I am pleased that the Army completed this review and has vowed to make fixes over the next year, though I am disappointed it has taken more than a decade of war to get to this point,” Murray said in a statement. “Many of the 24 findings and 47 recommendations in this report are not new. Creating a universal electronic health record, providing better rural health access, and standardizing the way diagnoses are made, for instance, have been lingering problems for far too long. Our service members and their families deserve better.”
The report noted that the Army had made strides in some areas, including cutting how long it takes soldiers to obtain a disability evaluation and publishing a guide to the process.
On a conference call with reporters, Army brass emphasized that many of the report’s recommendations are already being put into effect. For example, over the past year the Army has been assigning behavioral health workers to brigade combat teams so soldiers will feel more familiar with them and more comfortable about getting help, said Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, who heads the Army’s Medical Command.
Horoho also stressed that there was no evidence that malice motivated the altered diagnoses at Madigan; rather, the changes amounted to difference of opinion, she said.
The task force interviewed 750 people stationed around the globe, conducted listening sessions with 6,400 others and reviewed more than 140,000 records. The Medical Command reviewed diagnoses for all soldiers evaluated for behavioral health problems from October 2001 until last April.
Since September 2001, the report found, 4.1 percent of all soldiers deployed wound up in the disability system with a behavioral health diagnosis such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury.
Nationwide, the report said, 6,400 soldiers had behavioral health diagnoses “adjusted” by medical evaluation boards, with approximately equal numbers having PTSD added as a diagnosis and removed as a diagnosis.
Two locations where medical evaluation boards are held had slightly higher rates of diagnosis changes than the Army-wide average – Fort Polk in Louisiana and Fort Irwin in California, Horoho said. Cases from those locations are being reviewed to ensure no soldiers were improperly affected, but part of the reason for the higher rates may be because those bases rely heavily on civilian health workers, she said.
Last year the Army – and the military as a whole – suffered the highest number of suicides ever recorded, prompting then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to declare it an epidemic. The Army had 183 suicides among active-duty soldiers, up from 167 in 2011, and the military as a whole had 350 suicides, up from 301 the year before.
Among the problems the report documented was that Army bases don’t have a person on site dedicated to overseeing behavioral health issues, despite the many problems they can cause: suicide, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and child and spouse abuse. Each installation needs someone with a view of all those programs to make recommendations to the commander, the report said.
Army Secretary John M. McHugh said in a statement that the Army will work to place behavioral health experts “at the command and installation levels to provide better consultation, guidance, coordination and recommendations to improve behavioral health care for our soldiers.”
The task force found that of the soldiers surveyed, 37 percent had never received any information about the Army’s disability evaluation system or had to seek the information out on their own. It also said it was confusing and inefficient for troops to navigate the vastly different disability systems maintained by the Army and the Veterans Administration.
The Army and VA plan to have a joint disability system, by which health care providers in either organization will have access to records, by 2017.
“Some changes can be made immediately,” McHugh said. “Others will require more time and coordination. Importantly, this report reviewed our systems holistically – recommending not only short-term solutions, but longer term, systemic changes that will make care and treatment of our soldiers and family members more effective.”
Associated Press writer Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.
Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle
[It is little wonder that the United States of America is hurtling down the road to dictatorship at warp speed, when both of our premier intelligence bureaus (both foreign and domestic services) have been built-up around solid cores of the worst Nazis available to them. Basically, the remnants of the Gestapo and the SS were absorbed by the FBI and the CIA for their anti-Communist capabilities. The CIA used them to gain access to their Russian and Eastern European networks. The FBI apparently used them for the same purposes inside the US, to infiltrate Soviet bloc expatriate communities. How could America become anything other than another brutal police state, with people like this controlling the intelligence which would guide our elected decision-makers? Things like this tend to validate our "extremist" beliefs that our current form of government must be cast-off, so that Democratic government might be returned to our floundering Constitutional Republic.]
This essay is adapted from Useful Enemies: John Demjanjuk and America’s Open-Door Policy for Nazi War Criminals, which was recently published by Delphinium Books.
A trove of recently declassified documents leads to several inescapable conclusions about the FBI’s role in protecting both proven and alleged Nazi war criminals in America. First, there can be no doubt that J. Edgar Hoover collected Nazis and Nazi collaborators like pennies from heaven. Unlike the military and its highly structured Operation Paperclip — with its specific targets, systematic falsification of visa applications, and creation of bogus biographies — Hoover had no organized program to find, vet, and recruit alleged Nazis and Nazi collaborators as confidential sources, informants, and unofficial spies in émigré communities around the country. America’s No. 1 crime buster was guided only by opportunism and moral indifference.
Each Nazi collaborator that his agents stumbled upon, or learned about from the CIA, was both a potential spy and a potential anticommunist leader. Once they were discovered, Hoover sought them out, used them, and protected them. He had no interest in reporting alleged Nazi war criminals to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Justice Department, or the State Department for possible deportation or extradition. He appeared smug in his simplistic division of Americans into shadeless categories of bad guys and good guys, communists and anticommunists.
Hoover was careful about the number of former Nazis and Nazi collaborators he placed on the FBI payroll. If Congress or its investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, ever insisted on a tally, he could say with a straight face that there were only a handful of paid confidential sources and informants. But if one adds the war criminals he informally cultivated and used, the number ranges well into the hundreds. Although some of the snapshots may be out of focus, the big picture is now clear. Hoover and the FBI knew the identities, addresses, and backgrounds of up to a thousand alleged Nazis and Nazi collaborators on whom he had files but did not report to INS, Justice, State, or the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) unit of the Justice Department.
Among the newly revealed Nazi collaborators that Hoover and the FBI used and protected were John Avdzej, Laszlo Agh, and Vladimir Sokolov. During the war, Belorussian John Avdzej had been installed as the Nazi’s puppet mayor of the Niasvizh district in western Belorussia, once part of Poland. His first mayoral job was to rid his district of all Poles. As a first step, he gave the Gestapo a list of 120 Polish intelligentsia that included journalists, professors, priests, and former military officers, according to recently declassified intelligence files. Then he took part in their execution, as well as in the murder of thousands of Jews under his political jurisdiction.
The Polish Home Army condemned him to death in absentia. The United States was responsible for bringing Avdzej to America. Hoover snapped him up and protected him until 1984, when OSI charged him with visa fraud. Facing trial and possible extradition for war crimes, Avdzej voluntarily left the United States for West Germany, where he died a free man in 1998.
Laszlo Agh was a wartime member of the Hungarian Arrow Cross, an anti- Semitic group of fascists responsible for the murder of 10,000 to 15,000 Hungarian Jews and the deportation to Auschwitz of another 80,000. According to 12 eyewitnesses, Agh had personally rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and killed hundreds of Hungarian Jews. The torture included forced calisthenics to the point of unconsciousness, burial in the ground up to the neck until dead, and orders to jump on ground studded with partially buried bayonets.
Agh intrigued Hoover. A bitterly anticommunist leader had fallen into his lap and Hoover quickly recruited him as an unofficial informant. When the INS began to investigate Agh, the FBI refused to cooperate. As a result, Agh was never tried for visa fraud. Like Avdzej, he died a free man.
Russian Vladimir Sokolov (aka Vladimir Samarin) was a senior editor and writer for Rech (Speech), a German-controlled, anti-Semitic Russian newspaper. He entered the United States in July 1951. Sokolov penned articles calling for the extermination of Russian Jews as enemies of the people. Jews advised Stalin, he wrote, started the German-Soviet war, and controlled the White House. Only Germany and its allies had the wisdom to understand the international Jewish conspiracy and the courage to fight “the Kikes of the world.” After the war, Moscow placed Sokolov on its most-wanted list, claiming it had concrete proof that he had worked with the Gestapo as a propagandist and had personally identified Jews for execution. The FBI, on the other hand, considered Sokolov a “sincere, outspoken anti-Communist [and] a potential source.”
At one point, he even taught Russian language and literature at Yale University. “How a man with no high academic credentials suddenly procured such a prestigious position is a mystery,” wrote historian Norman Goda. “It is clear that the FBI used him as an informant while at Yale, possibly to report on Russian students.”
If Sokolov was spying for a U.S. intelligence agency, he was probably an asset in Redcap, a CIA program to collect information on Soviets living and studying abroad. The CIA as well as the FBI wanted to know if a Soviet alien was a KGB mole and, if not, whether he or she could be flipped. Redcap assets were asked to collect information on selected targets. Besides a photograph and handwriting sample, Redcap wanted: a list of non-Soviet contacts; a description of personality, habits, and hobbies; his or her political vulnerability; and the planned date of return to the Soviet Union. Of particular interest to Redcap was information on extramarital affairs that could be used for blackmail.
OSI filed charges against Sokolov for visa fraud and won its case. A federal court stripped him of his U.S. citizenship. To avoid deportation to the Soviet Union, where he would face a public trial and certain execution, Sokolov fled to Canada. He died a free man in 1992.
However shocking and reprehensible, Hoover’s use of alleged Nazis and Nazi collaborators is just a small part of the FBI story. To focus only on that dimension diverts attention away from a more important issue. In choosing to take the low moral ground, Hoover and the FBI betrayed the trust of Americans, living and dead. And in perpetrating a 50-year conspiracy of silence, the FBI shamed Americans and made them unwitting hypocrites in the eyes of the world. Most Americans find morally repugnant — if not criminal — the behavior of European citizens who cheered or merely stood by in silence while Nazis and Nazi collaborators dragged away their neighbors, looted their homes, shot them in the forest, or crammed them into boxcars heading east. How then must Americans judge the cadre of unelected, powerful men who welcomed some of those same murderers to America and helped them escape punishment in the name of national security?
By Conor Friedersdorf
The attorney general should be brought before Congress and interrogated about his notion of what the president could do in the aftermath of an attack.
On December 7, 1941, Japanese war planes bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Six decades later, Al Qaeda terrorists flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Neither President Franklin Roosevelt nor President George W. Bush targeted and killed Americans on U.S. soil in the aftermath of those attacks. Doing so wouldn’t have made any sense.
How strange, then, that Attorney General Eric Holder invoked those very attacks in a letter confirming that President Obama believes there are circumstances in which he could order Americans targeted and killed on U.S. soil. “It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws … for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” he wrote. “For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941 and on September 11, 2001.”
The very scenario to be guarded against is a president using the pretext of a terrorist attack to seize extraordinary powers. Isn’t that among the most likely scenarios for the United States turning into an authoritarian security state? To be sure, if Americans are at the controls of fighter jets en route to Hawaii, of course Obama could order that they be fired upon. If Americans hijacked a plane, of course it would be permissible to kill them before they could crash it into a building. But those are not the sorts of targeted killings that Senator Rand Paul asked about in a letter to White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, prompting Holder’s response.
If you read to the end of Holder’s letter, to the passage where he says, “Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president on the scope of his authority,” it becomes clear that, despite invoking Pearl Harbor and 9/11, even he isn’t envisioning a response to an attack in process, which would have to happen immediately. So what does he envision? If he can see that a “for example” is necessary to explain, he ought to give us a clarifying example, rather than a nonsensical one that seems to name-check events for their emotional resonance more than for their aptness to the issue.
Elsewhere in his letter, Holder writes that “the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.” Interesting they reject it “as a policy matter,” but aren’t willing to reject military force in the United States as a legal matter, even in instances where law enforcement would better incapacitate the threat. For the Obama Administration, conceding that the executive branch is legally forbidden to do certain things is verboten, despite the fact that an unchecked executive is much more dangerous than the possibility of a future president failing to do enough to fight back against an actual attack on our homeland*.
Any thinking person can see that Holder’s letter is non-responsive, evasive, and deliberately manipulative in its sly reassurances, right down to the rhetorically powerful but substantively nonsensical invocation of 9/11. (Being more subtle about it than Rudy Giuliani doesn’t make it right.) To credulously accept this sort of response, on an issue as important as this one, is behavior unfit for any citizen of a free country, where safeguarding the rule of law is a civic responsibility.
Rand Paul deserves tremendous credit for eliciting this response. In its wake, he needs help from his colleagues and his countrymen. The time to discuss the appropriate scope of the president’s authority is now, not in the aftermath of a catastrophic attack on the nation, as Holder suggests. The fact that he disagrees speaks volumes about Team Obama’s reckless shortsightedness.
*Does anyone imagine, in the aftermath of a future Pearl Harbor or 9/11, that Congress would refuse to authorize whatever reasonable authority the executive branch required to kill or capture the perpetrators? It is difficult to imagine anyone even worrying over so implausible an outcome.
[The following article details how Gen. James Jones derailed Ambassador Holbrooke's intended $50 billion investment in Pakistani development, with an insincere bluff of a secret civilian nuclear deal. The photo used below is of Jones and the head of Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), the Iranian terrorist outfit, before testifying before Congress for taking Washington and Saddam Hussain's favorite terrorists off the State Dept. terror list. The MEK are the hands of the CIA and Mossad within Iran. They are responsible for bombings, assassinations of nuclear scientists and obtaining photos which are to be used to create convincing, false propaganda about Iranian programs. Apparently, Gen. Jones was tasked with sabotaging all roads which did not lead to war with Iran, or war on Pakistan.]
Gen. James Jones and Maryam Rajavi (President elect, wife of Massoud Rajavi, founder of terrorist MEK).
WASHINGTON: A former US National Security Adviser offered Pakistan an ‘off script’ civilian nuclear deal in exchange for its counter-terrorism cooperation, a former member of Richard Holbrooke’s team wrote on Wednesday.
In an article he wrote for the Foreign Policy magazine, Vali Nasr said his time in the Obama administration “turned out to be a deeply disillusioning experience”.
He recalled how former National Security Adviser James Jones travelled to Pakistan for high-level meetings without informing the State Department or Mr Holbrooke, who was the special US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He said that during one trip to Pakistan, Gen Jones “went completely off script and promised Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani… a civilian nuclear deal in exchange for Pakistan’s cooperation”.
“Panic struck the White House. It took a good deal of diplomatic tap-dancing to take that offer off the table.”
Mr Nasr said that Mr Holbrooke wanted Washington and the international community to commit $50 billion to stimulate Pakistan’s economic development and convinced former secretary of state Hillary Clinton of forging a strategic partnership with the country.
“The true key to ending the war, Mr Holbrooke often told us, was to change Pakistan… but to convince Pakistan that we meant business, we first had to prove that America was going to stay,” he wrote.
Mr Holbrooke understood that the White House, the Pentagon, and the CIA wanted Pakistan to cut ties with the Taliban and do more to fight terrorism. “That would never happen, however, without at least some semblance of a normal relationship between Pakistan and the United States,” Mr Nasr wrote.
He said that in 2009, half the US diplomatic mission in Pakistan worked on intelligence and counter-terrorism rather than diplomacy or development.
“The US Consulate in Peshawar was basically bricks shielding antennas. And it paid big dividends,” Mr Nasr wrote.
Based on the information it received from intelligence sources, “the Obama administration began carrying out drone strikes in Pakistan on an industrial scale”.
The rhetoric and threat of domestic terrorist plots mirrors the mood observed in the six months before the Oklahoma City bombing, the Southern Poverty Law Center says.
The number of militias and radical anti-government “patriot” groups operating in the USA reached an all-time high in 2012, a report Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center finds.
The center tracked 1,360 radical militias and anti-government groups in 2012, a nine-fold increase over 2008 when the center recorded 149 such groups, the report says. The explosive growth began four years ago, sparked by the election of President Obama and anger about the poor economy, the center says.
“As President Obama enters his second term with an agenda of gun control and immigration reform, the rage on the right is likely to intensify,” the center’s senior fellow Mark Potok writes in the report.
The rhetoric and threat of domestic terrorist plots mirrors the mood observed in the six months before the Oklahoma City bombing, a domestic terror attack in 1995 by anti-government militia sympathizer Timothy McVeigh that killed 168 people, center president J. Richard Cohen says in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
“In the last four years we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of conspiracy-minded, anti-government groups as well as in the number of domestic terrorist plots,” Cohen writes. “We now also are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns.”
The number of anti-government groups grew 7% from 1,274 in 2011 to 1,360 in 2012, while the number of hate groups dropped slightly from 1,018 in 2011 to 1,007 in 2012.
The latest count surpasses the record number of groups formed in the 1990s in response to the 1993 passage of sweeping gun control measures in the Brady Bill and the ban on assault weapons in 1994. In 1996, the number of “patriot” groups peaked at 858, the center reports.
The center predicts the ongoing gun control debate will continue to fuel anti-government anger and swell the ranks of the radical groups. The groups generally believe the federal government is conspiring to confiscate all guns and curtail personal liberties, the center says. Some of the groups have threatened politicians who have proposed gun control measures, the report says.
The report cites examples of groups that predicted civil war and tyranny after Obama’s executive orders on gun control, including Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes who tweeted, ” Freedom ends. Tyranny begins.” and ConservativeDaily.com’s Tony Adkins, who wrote, “Martial law in the United States now a very real possibility.”
The center quotes The United States Patriots Union, which, in a letter to state legislators, called the federal government “a tool of International Socialism now, operating under UN Agendas not our American agenda.” The group said states should defend freedom and liberty “or we are headed to Civil War wherein the people will have no choice but to take matters into their own hands.”
“Their rhetoric is a barometer of the rage that is building in certain quarters,” Cohen says.