Bernanke makes it official. We are Japan.

Bernanke makes it official. We are Japan.

Commentary: Race to zero didn’t work then, won’t work now

By David Callaway, MarketWatch
Last update: 7:01 p.m. EDT Oct. 29, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — It’s official. We are Japan.
At least when it comes to monetary policy. The Federal Reserve’s decision to slash interest rates by a half percentage point to 1% on Wednesday to help boost the economy was snubbed by the stock market, even though it had demanded the cut like a petulant child for more than two weeks. See full story
There was nothing the Fed could do, and it’s likely the European Central Bank will fall in line next week, as well as the Bank of Japan on Friday. Central bankers know they need to show coordination and the ability to do something — anything — in the teeth of this bear market.
But Bernanke is quickly running out of monetary bullets, with the risk of having to take the extraordinary step of someday lowering interest rates to zero just a bank run or two away right now. Japan, which spent five unproductive years at zero between 2001 and 2006 before boosting to a half percentage point, is now talking about a quarter point cut and possibly a return to zero, even though it didn’t work last time. See full story.
The economic theory behind zero rates, called quantitative monetary easing — a term so heinous it isn’t recognized by my computer’s spell check — allows a central bank to run monetary policy by focusing on money supply instead of the cost of the money, i.e. interest rates.
It also means that Joe the Plumber and his elderly parents would get nothing on their savings account or certificates of deposit, which so many people depend on for their fixed-income lifestyles. How’s that for an invitation to go out and spend?
Arguably, it was a dramatic easing of interest rates after the tech bubble collapsed that plunked us into the systemic soup in the first place, allowing people to take out mortgages at ridiculous rates and Wall Street to make a killing by packaging the mortgages and playing various rates off each other. But it won’t work this time around. Nobody’s lending, and nobody is borrowing.
Next week, we’ll find out how many Americans bought new cars in October. Estimates vary, but it’s likely to be about the same number of people who attend a Sen. Ted Stevens rally this weekend. Some analysts predict it will be the worst month ever for the automakers, with sales falling between 30% and 50% year over year.
Why combining General Motors Corp. (GM:

General Motors Corporation
Last: 6.66-0.10-1.49%
12:49pm 10/30/2008
Delayed quote data

Sponsored by:

GM 6.66, -0.10, -1.5%) and Chrysler, other than to get private equity firm Cerberus off the hook, is considered a good way to sell more cars is beyond me. Even if people wanted to buy, they can’t get the financing.

That brings us to the major problem the Federal Reserve and the Treasury face if they want to get this bailout out of the showroom. They have to get the banks to start lending the money they’ve been given by the taxpayers. Hoarding the cash, waiting for another wave of bad loans to come as the economy gets worse, just feeds the bear.
Congress is right to be concerned about this, and to force the Treasury to press Wall Street and the banks to get lending again. Instead of freaking out about banker bonuses, just tie the bonuses to how much money their institutions lend, not how much they make. Yes, over-lending got us into this mess, but the global economic engine remains stalled, and needs to be jump started.
Interest rates at 1.5%, or 1%, or zero aren’t going to do that for us. I suspect even Ben Bernanke realizes that by now. It’s time to start cracking heads.
Big pension funds and young investors might be able to wait the months or years it might take for the stock market to come back, but for many Americans, it’s not about whether to sell or hold stocks now. It’s about getting enough cash to make payments at the end of this month, tomorrow. Just ask the poor savers whose money is still tied up in The Reserve Fund, the money market fund that froze assets last month after a run. See New York Times story.
Americans are going into this election next week as angry as they’ve been in a long time. Bankers, politicians and economists would be wise not to mess with them. End of Story

David Callaway is editor-in-chief of MarketWatch.

CIA allowed concealing torture documents

CIA allowed concealing torture documents
Thu, 30 Oct 2008 03:12:52 GMT

The CIA can hide statements made by the terror suspects that the spy agency has tortured in its secret prisons, a federal judge has ruled.

Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the Washington D.C. Circuit Court declined to review torture allegations from men held in the CIA’s prisons-because it could put the nation at risk of grave danger if allowed to be made public.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it filed in March, a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which decide if prisoners at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, qualify as “enemy combatants.”

The judge’s decision not to look at the allegations to see if secrets are involved allows the Bush Administration to continue to hide its use of torture techniques, according to Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project.

“The government has suppressed these detainees’ allegations of brutal torture not to protect any legitimate national security interests, but to protect itself from criticism and liability,” Wizner said.

The US government has come under scathing criticism for allowing interrogation techniques that at best border on torture to be used on terrorist suspects detained indefinitely at US prisons in Guantanamo, Iraq and other places.

The Triumph of Ignorance

The Triumph of Ignorance

Posted October 28, 2008

Why morons succeed in US politics.

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 28th October 2008

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the US come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind’s closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist?(1)

Like most people on this side of the Atlantic I have spent my adult life mystified by American politics. The US has the world’s best universities and attracts the world’s finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave political disadvantage.

There have been exceptions over the past century: Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton tempered their intellectualism with the common touch and survived; but Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore and John Kerry were successfully tarred by their opponents as members of a cerebral elite (as if this were not a qualification for the presidency). Perhaps the defining moment in the collapse of intelligent politics was Ronald Reagan’s response to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential debate. Carter – stumbling a little, using long words – carefully enumerated the benefits of national health insurance. Reagan smiled and said “there you go again”(2). His own health programme would have appalled most Americans, had he explained it as carefully as Carter had done, but he had found a formula for avoiding tough political issues and making his opponents look like wonks.

It wasn’t always like this. The founding fathers of the republic – men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton – were among the greatest thinkers of their age. They felt no need to make a secret of it. How did the project they launched degenerate into George W Bush and Sarah Palin?

On one level this is easy to answer. Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people. US education, like the US health system, is notorious for its failures. In the most powerful nation on earth, one adult in five believes the sun revolves around the earth; only 26% accept that evolution takes place by means of natural selection; two-thirds of young adults are unable to find Iraq on a map; two-thirds of US voters cannot name the three branches of government; the maths skills of 15 year-olds in the US are ranked 24th out of the 29 countries of the OECD(3).

But this merely extends the mystery: how did so many US citizens become so dumb, and so suspicious of intelligence? Susan Jacoby’s book The Age of American Unreason provides the fullest explanation I have read so far. She shows that the degradation of US politics results from a series of interlocking tragedies.

One theme is both familiar and clear: religion – in particular fundamentalist religion – makes you stupid. The US is the only rich country in which Christian fundamentalism is vast and growing.

Jacoby shows that there was once a certain logic to its anti-rationalism. During the first few decades after the publication of The Origin of Species, for example, Americans had good reason to reject the theory of natural selection and to treat public intellectuals with suspicion. From the beginning, Darwin’s theory was mixed up in the US with the brutal philosophy – now known as Social Darwinism – of the British writer Herbert Spencer. Spencer’s doctrine, promoted in the popular press with the help of funding from Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Thomas Edison, suggested that millionaires stood at the top of a scala natura established by evolution. By preventing unfit people from being weeded out, government intervention weakened the nation. Gross economic inequalities were both justifiable and necessary(4).

Darwinism, in other words, became indistinguishable to the public from the most bestial form of laissez-faire economics. Many Christians responded with revulsion. It is profoundly ironic that the doctrine rejected a century ago by such prominent fundamentalists as William Jennings Bryan is now central to the economic thinking of the Christian right. Modern fundamentalists reject the science of Darwinian evolution and accept the pseudoscience of Social Darwinism.

But there were other, more powerful, reasons for the intellectual isolation of the fundamentalists. The US is peculiar in devolving the control of education to local authorities. Teaching in the southern states was dominated by the views of an ignorant aristocracy of planters, and a great educational gulf opened up. “In the South”, Jacoby writes, “what can only be described as an intellectual blockade was imposed in order to keep out any ideas that might threaten the social order.”(5)

The Southern Baptist Convention, now the biggest Protestant denomination in the US, was to slavery and segregation what the Dutch Reformed Church was to apartheid in South Africa. It has done more than any other force to keep the South stupid. In the 1960s it tried to stave off desegregation by establishing a system of private Christian schools and universities. A student can now progress from kindergarten to a higher degree without any exposure to secular teaching. Southern Baptist beliefs pass intact through the public school system as well. A survey by researchers at the University of Texas in 1998 found that one in four of the state’s public school biology teachers believed that humans and dinosaurs lived on earth at the same time(6).

This tragedy has been assisted by the American fetishisation of self-education. Though he greatly regretted his lack of formal teaching, Abraham Lincoln’s career is repeatedly cited as evidence that good education, provided by the state, is unnecessary: all that is required to succeed is determination and rugged individualism. This might have served people well when genuine self-education movements, like the one built around the Little Blue Books in the first half of the 20th century, were in vogue. In the age of infotainment it is a recipe for confusion.

Besides fundamentalist religion, perhaps the most potent reason why intellectuals struggle in elections is that intellectualism has been equated with subversion. The brief flirtation of some thinkers with communism a long time ago has been used to create an impression in the public mind that all intellectuals are communists. Almost every day men like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly rage against the “liberal elites” destroying America.

The spectre of pointy-headed alien subversives was crucial to the election of Reagan and Bush. A genuine intellectual elite – like the neocons (some of them former communists) surrounding Bush – has managed to pitch the political conflict as a battle between ordinary Americans and an over-educated pinko establishment. Any attempt to challenge the ideas of the rightwing elite has been successfully branded as elitism.

Obama has a good deal to offer America, but none of this will come to an end if he wins. Until the great failures of the US education system are reversed or religious fundamentalism withers there will be political opportunities for people, like Bush and Palin, who flaunt their ignorance.


1. For a staggering display of ignorance and bigotry, see:

2. You can see this exchange at

3. All these facts are contained in Susan Jacoby, 2008. The Age of American Unreason: dumbing down and the future of democracy. Old Street Publishing, London.

4. Susan Jacoby, ibid. Chapter 3.

5. Susan Jacoby, ibid. Page 57.

6. Susan Jacoby, ibid. Page 25.

Hatred of America unites the world

Hatred of America unites the world

By Niall Ferguson, Sunday Telegraph

Being hated is no fun. Few of us are like those pantomime villains who glory in the hisses and boos of an audience. And few people hate being hated more than Americans. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked the plaintive question: “Why do they hate us?” and another for each of the different answers I’ve heard. It’s because of our foreign policy. It’s because of their extremism. It’s because of our arrogance. It’s because of their inferiority complex. Americans really hate not knowing why they’re hated.

The best explanation is in fact the simplest. Being hated is what happens to dominant empires. It comes – sometimes literally – with the territory. George Orwell knew the feeling. As a young man he served as an assistant police superintendent in British-run Burma, an experience he memorably described in his essay “Shooting an Elephant”. Called upon to kill a rogue pachyderm that had run amok, Orwell was suddenly aware “of the watchful yellow faces behind” him:

“The sole thought in my mind was that if anything went wrong those two thousand Burmans would see me pursued, caught, trampled on and reduced to a grinning corpse like that Indian up the hill. And if that happened it was quite probable that some of them would laugh.”

Eric Blair, as Orwell was known then, could scarcely have been better prepared for his role as a colonial official. Born in Bengal, the son of a colonial civil servant, he had been educated at Eton, where boys learn not to worry much about being hated. Yet even he found the resentment of the natives hard to bear: “In the end the sneering… faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves … [It] was perplexing and upsetting.”

That’s a feeling American soldiers in Baghdad must know pretty well. How does that old Randy Newman song go? “No one likes us – I don’t know why. / We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try.”

But who hates Americans the most? You might assume that it’s people in countries that the United States has recently attacked or threatened to attack. Americans themselves are clear about who their principal enemies are. Asked by Gallup to name the “greatest enemy” of the United States today, 26 per cent of those polled named Iran, 21 per cent named Iraq and 18 per cent named North Korea. Incidentally, that represents quite a success for George W. Bush’s concept of the “Axis of Evil”. Six years ago, only 8 per cent named Iran and only 2 per cent North Korea.

Are those feelings of antagonism reciprocated? Up to a point. According to a poll by Gallup’s Centre for Muslim Studies, 52 per cent of Iranians have an unfavourable view of the United States. But that figure is down from 63 per cent in 2001. And it’s significantly lower than the degree of antipathy towards the United States felt in Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Two thirds of Jordanians and Pakistanis have a negative view of the United States and a staggering 79 per cent of Saudis. Sentiment has also turned hostile in Lebanon, where 59 per cent of people now have an unfavourable opinion of the United States, compared with just 41 per cent a year ago. No fewer than 84 per cent of Lebanese Shiites say they have a very unfavourable view of Uncle Sam.

These figures suggest a paradox in the Muslim world. It’s not America’s enemies who hate the United States most, it’s people in countries that are supposed to be America’s friends, if not allies.

The paradox doesn’t end there. The Gallup poll (which surveyed 10,000 Muslims in 10 different countries) also revealed that the wealthier and better-educated Muslims are, the more likely they are to be politically radical. So if you ever believed that anti-Western sentiment was an expression of poverty and deprivation, think again. Even more perplexingly, Islamists are more supportive of democracy than Muslim moderates. Those who imagined that the Middle East could be stabilised with a mixture of economic and political reform could not have been more wrong. The richer these people get, the more they favour radical Islamism. And they see democracy as a way of putting the radicals into power.

The paradox of unfriendly allies is not confined to the Middle East. Last week was not a good week for Americanophiles in Europe. Tony Blair announced British troop withdrawals from southern Iraq, an unfortunate signal on the eve of the American “surge”. Meanwhile, in Rome, his counterpart Romano Prodi had to resign because his coalition partners would not agree either to keep Italian troops in Afghanistan or to enlarge a US military base at Vicenza. Anti-Americanism is nothing new in European politics, to be sure, particularly on the Left. But there is something novel going on here, which extends to traditionally pro-American constituencies.

Back in 1999, 83 per cent of British people surveyed by the State Department Office of Research said that they had a favourable opinion of the United States. But by 2006, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, that proportion had fallen to 56 per cent. British respondents to the Pew surveys now give higher favourability ratings to Germany (75 per cent) and Japan (69 per cent) than to the United States – a remarkable transformation in attitudes, given the notorious British tendency to look back both nostalgically and unforgivingly to the Second World War. It’s also very striking that Britons recently polled by Pew regard the US presence in Iraq as a bigger threat to world peace than Iran or North Korea (a view which is shared by respondents in France, Spain, Russia, India, China and throughout the Middle East).

Nor is Britain the only disillusioned ally. Perhaps not surprisingly, two thirds of Americans believe that their country’s foreign policy considers the interests of others. But this view is shared by only 38 per cent of Germans and 19 per cent of Canadians. More than two thirds of Germans surveyed in 2004 believed that American leaders wilfully lied about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction prior to the previous year’s invasion, while a remarkable 60 per cent expressed the view that America’s true motive was “to control Middle Eastern oil”. Nearly half (47 per cent) said it was “to dominate the world”.

The truly poignant fact is that when Americans themselves are asked to rate foreign countries, they express the most favourable views of none other than Britain, Germany and Canada.

Back in the 1990s, Madeleine Albright pompously called the United States “the indispensable nation”. Today it seems to have become the indefensible nation, even in the eyes of its supposed friends.

There are, admittedly, a few scraps of good news in the international polls. Very few Europeans, for example, would welcome China’s becoming a serious military rival to the United States. There is overwhelming European opposition to Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons. And there is a surprising amount of hostility towards the Palestinian radicals of Hamas in both France and Germany. But look again at some of America’s supposed allies. One in four Indians, two out of five Egyptians and one out of every two Pakistanis favour a nuclear-armed Iran. A third of Britons, half of all Indians and three quarters of Egyptians welcomed the success of Hamas in last year’s Palestinian elections.

Orwell would have understood. Just as it was the educated beneficiaries of British rule in Asia who were the most strident anti-imperialists in Orwell’s day, so the British Empire’s most natural allies – France and the United States – were anything but Anglophile. For it turns out that power not only corrupts, as Lord Acton famously observed, it also tends to isolate.

It’s not for nothing that they say it’s lonely at the top.



by Alan Stang

As I write, little more than a week remains before E-Day, on which most Americans will vote. Nerves are being fearfully wracked. Even people who are usually somnolent say they can’t take the stress. There is a real danger that, unaddressed, the frustration of choosing between a Communist illegal alien raised by a Communist sex pervert and a POW traitor who is a Soviet front man could lead to an epidemic of Acid Reflux Disease or even an outbreak of Restless Leg Syndrome.

The purpose of this modest piece is to reassure you. Stop tormenting yourself. Further self-flagellation is pointless. Your next President has already been selected. Didn’t you know? Sure, go ahead and vote if you like, if you have nothing else to do, if you don’t mind standing in long lines between Obamatron morons and McCrud zombies, but enjoy the reassurance of knowing that the powers above Ponzi Paulson and Helicopter Ben Bernanke and Co. have already made their choice.

He is Zbigniew Brzezinski. What? Who? Is this some kind of Polish joke? Sadly, it is not. The lustiest enjoyer of Polish jokes in my experience was a remarkably gorgeous Polish lady I knew many years ago in the Bay Area. Every couple of years, I would come through on a speaking tour and she would press me for the latest Polish jokes I had heard. Again Zbigniew Brzezinski is not one of them. He is not just a victim of partial vowel deprivation.

In 1970, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote a book entitled Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era (New York, Viking Press). Let’s browse through it to find out what Zbigniew is. Zbig dedicates the book to Ian, Mark and Mika, his kids. A nice touch, don’t you think? He’s a family man. Starting on page 72 of my Penguin edition, he explains “why Marxism represents a further vital and creative stage in the maturing of man’s universal vision.”

Marxism is “a victory of reason over belief. . . . To a greater extent than any previous mode of political thinking, Marxism puts a premium on the systematic and rigorous examination of material reality and on guides to action derived from that examination.” In other words, Marxism is a better system than our own. Marxism examines material reality and recommends action better than does the U.S. Constitution.

Page 83: Marxism “represented a major advance in man’s ability to conceptualize his relationship to his world.” It carried “an essentially ethical message.” It “was derived from a totally rational method of inquiry.” P. 123: Marxism “provided a unique intellectual tool for understanding and harnessing the fundamental forces of our time. . . . [I]t supplied the best available insight into contemporary reality; it infused political action with strong ethical elements . . . .”

By the way, as you see, I am making it easy for you. I am digging out the juicy nuggets. They are embedded in a prose the pompous turgidity of which recalls Isabel Paterson’s comment that the writing of John Foster Dulles compels the eyeball to rebound from the page. Subjecting the normal mind to such an aberration should be punished as a war crime or at least a species of torture.

I honestly believe that were we to strap your eyeballs to Zbigniew’s prose, you would run screaming from the premises, unless we had prudently tied you to a chair. The next time you feel like complaining about something you see in my columns, about my language or some joke, please remember that I am providing this onerous service at no extra charge.

Zbig Brother even excuses Stalin’s purges and mass murders. Page 134ff: “Yet though Stalinism may have been a needless tragedy for both the Russian people and communism as an ideal, there is the intellectually tantalizing possibility that for the world at large it was, as we shall see, a blessing in disguise. . . .” What? Yes. You see, “the internal violence employed by Stalin . . . had a restraining effect on unbridled nationalism.”

But isn’t Zbig today fanatically opposed to the continuing Soviet Union? Yes, he is, but not because he opposes Marxism. As we have seen, he is a lifelong Marxist. He opposes the Soviets precisely because he loves Marxism so much. He believes the Communists have misused it. He believes that he, Zbigniew Brzezinski, could impose it correctly, the way old Karl himself would have done it.

Enter David Rockefeller. David is a confessed traitor, a conspirator who is working in a secret cabal to destroy the United States. What? David Rockefeller? How do we know that? In 2002, Random House, in New York, published his Memoirs. Remember, this is not someone accusing him of something. This is David Rockefeller himself talking on page 405:

For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as “internationalists” and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.

Because this sleazy extrusion of an unmarried female canine is a traitor – because he loves totalitarianism – he was naturally attracted to lifelong Marxist Zbigniew Brzezinski. Zbig became David’s prime minister. In 1973, under David’s direction, Zbig formed the Trilateral Commission, which is the foreign ministry of the Council on Foreign Relations, a preeminent founder of which was Marxist Edward M. House.

Both these groups work tirelessly to promote world government, which would mean the abolition of our own. Remember, the United States government and world government are mutually exclusive. You can’t have them both at the same time. If you are working for the latter, you are trying to destroy the former.

In 1976, Zbig and David literally interviewed dour peanut farmer Jimmy Carter at David’s Tarrytown estate. They liked what they heard and installed Democrat Jimmy as President of the United States. From the beginning, Jimmy was a Rockefeller factotum. Zbig Brother was his National Security Adviser. Jimmy came close to wrecking our economy. Okay, but what does all this have to do with the 2008 campaign?

In the 2000 campaign, Zbigniew Brzezinski, lifelong Marxist, was foreign policy adviser to Senator John McCain, who said this: “I am honored that Zbigniew Brzezinski will join my foreign policy team. As a former national security adviser and a highly respected foreign policy expert, his broad experience makes him an invaluable asset to my team.” So Zbig went from Democrat Jimmy to Republican John. Remember that at the top – above the candidates – you have one party with two branches.

What about this year? This year, Zbig is back, running foreign policy for Hussein. Indeed, remember Mark, son of Zbig? Mark was one of the sons to whom Zbig dedicated Between Two Ages in 1970. Mark is all grown up now and shaving. Can you imagine? Mark is foreign policy adviser to Senator Hussein. So who is foreign policy adviser to Senator McCain this year? The envelope please! El Senador Juan McCain’s foreign policy adviser this year is Ian Brzezinski, the other Zbigniew son.

That is correct. Lifelong Marxist Zbigniew Brzezinski – David Rockefeller’s Prime Minister – controls both sides of the forthcoming charade through his sons. Again, you can relax. It really makes no difference who wins. The only difference will be a difference in style, a difference in personality, natural differences peculiar to us all. Remember, David Rockefeller admits, boasts, that he and his family exercise inordinate influence over the United States. This is how he does it.

Do you need to know anything more to understand that a literal conspiracy controls both main political parties, and that at the top – above the candidates – both parties are the same? What was that you said about “change?” Remember, Zbig ran foreign policy for McCain in the 2000 campaign. This year, Hussein is just as much a factotum of Goldman Sachs and other instrumentalities of world government as McCain.

Notice that our Communist media say nothing about this. They understand perfectly well that if they sass David Rockefeller they could lose their jobs. So they specialize in arguing about lesser fry. So, sure, vote next week, but do so with the assurance that it makes no difference; that the conspiracy for world government has already chosen our next President. He is Rockefeller prime minister and Marxist Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Long live Zbig Brother!





 CIA led mystery Syria raid that killed terrorist leader

By Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — A CIA-led raid on a compound in eastern Syria killed an al Qaida in Iraq commander who oversaw the smuggling into Iraq of foreign fighters whose attacks claimed thousands of Iraqi and American lives, three U.S. officials said Monday.

The body of Badran Turki Hishan al Mazidih, an Iraqi national who used the nom de guerre Abu Ghadiya, was flown out of Syria on a U.S. helicopter at the end of the operation Sunday by CIA paramilitary officers and special forces, one U.S. official said.

“It was a successful operation,” a second U.S. official told McClatchy. “The bottom line: This was a significant blow to the foreign fighter pipeline between Syria and Iraq.”

A senior U.S. military officer said the raid was launched after human and technical intelligence confirmed that al Mazidih was present at the compound close to Syria’s border with Iraq. “The situation finally presented itself,” he said.

The three U.S. officials, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity because the operation was classified, declined to reveal other details of the raid. A CIA spokesman declined to comment.

The senior military officer said that U.S. intelligence had been tracking al Mazidih for some time, and that “the more we learned about him and how he works” the higher he rose on the U.S. most-wanted list.

“He is the guy who produced the most prolific of the foreign fighters networks,” said the first U.S. official, adding that the extremists he smuggled into Iraq were responsible for attacks that “killed thousands of Iraqis and our own U.S. forces.”

On Feb. 28, the Treasury Department announced a freeze on any U.S. assets belonging to al Mazidih and three of his associates, charging that they were smuggling “money, weapons, terrorists, and other resources through Syria to al Qaida in Iraq, including to (al Qaida) commanders.”

The Treasury Department announcement identified al Mazidih as a Sunni Muslim who was born in the late 1970s in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and was a lieutenant of al Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who was killed in 2006. He was believed to be living in the Syrian town of Zabadani.

“Former al Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi appointed Badran (al Mazidih) as the group’s Syrian commander for logistics in 2004,” the Treasury said. “After Zarqawi’s death, Badran began working for the new AQI leader, Abu Ayyub al Masri. As of late-September 2006, Badran took orders directly from Masri, or through a deputy.

“Badran obtained false passports for foreign terrorists, provided passports, weapons, guides, safe houses, and allowances to foreign terrorists in Syria and those preparing to cross the border into Iraq,” it said. “As of the spring of 2007, Badran facilitated the movement of AQI operatives into Iraq via the Syrian border. Badran also directed another Syria-based AQI facilitator to provide safe haven and supplies to foreign fighters,” the Treasury said. “This AQI facilitator, working directly for Badran, facilitated the movement of foreign fighters primarily from Gulf countries, through Syria into Iraq.”

The Bush administration, which for years has expressed frustration over what it charges have been Syria’s lackluster efforts to stop foreign Islamic fighters from crossing into Iraq, refused to publicly acknowledge the operation.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether an order that President Bush signed in July allowing U.S. commandos from Afghanistan to attack a suspected terrorist base in Pakistan also authorized cross-border operations in other countries.

Pentagon officials were tight-lipped about the operation. But they were quick to defend the decision to cross the border, with one saying that if nations that sponsor terrorist networks won’t go after them, “we will.”

The raid into Syria on Sunday has ignited a major diplomatic storm, with Iran joining in Syria’s condemnation of the U.S.

The Syrian government charged that eight civilians, including four children, died in what it described as a daylight attack on al Sukkari farm in eastern Syria by U.S. forces that flew across the border from Iraq in four helicopters.

“The Americans do it in the daylight. This means it was not a mistake. It is by blunt determination,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Moallem charged Monday at a news conference in London. “For that, we consider this criminal and terrorist aggression.”

The Syrian Foreign Ministry Monday summoned Maura Connelly, the ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus, to receive an official protest, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The Iraqi government defended the raid. Government spokesman Ali al Dabbagh said that Syria had refused to hand over foreign fighters who’d taken refuge there after killing 13 Iraqi border guards.

However, al Dabbagh said, a proposed accord governing the status of U.S. forces in Iraq “will limit this type of operation. It will limit the United States from using Iraqi land to attack others.”