“President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. are fully committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East,” US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell told reporters following his latest meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas while in the Jordanian capital of Amman.Mitchell’s remarks come just a few days after President Obama said the U.S. administration had “overestimated” their ability to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians to resume “meaningful” peace talks.
On January 24, 2010, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, persisted in Israel’s policy of laying claim by establishing “facts on the ground” in the West Bank during a tree planting ceremony in the Gush Etzion colony/settlement bloc, “Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here, this place will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel for eternity.”
In 1973, Ariel Sharon predicted,
“We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.”
The 2003 peace “road map” obliged Israel to freeze “all settlement activity” and the World Court ruled that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are all illegal.
Jewish settlers claim a God-given right to the West Bank, which they call by the biblical names Judea and Samaria but they ignore what their Torah commands:
“From Moses to Jeremiah and Isaiah, the Prophets taught…that the Jewish claim on the land of Israel was totally contingent on the moral and spiritual life of the Jews who lived there, and that the land would, as the Torah tells us, ‘vomit you out’ if people did not live according to the highest moral vision of Torah. Over and over again, the Torah repeated its most frequently stated mitzvah [command]:
“When you enter your land, do not oppress the stranger; the other, the one who is an outsider of your society, the powerless one and then not only ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’ but also ‘you shall love the other.'” 
On January 22, 2010, Stephen M. Walt, esteemed Professor of international relations at Harvard University affirmed that Mideast special envoy George Mitchell, maybe the only politician in recent memory “to be universally admired in the United States” but warned if he wants to keep “his reputation intact, it is time for him to resign because he is wasting his time” vis a vie reaching a resolution to the six decades of conflict in Israel Palestine.
Walt sited,Joe Klein’s report in the Times, that President Obama’s commitment to achieving a two states solution has failed and “this is as intractable a problem as you get.” 
On January 24, 2010, James M. Wall, a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, wrote, “My dictionary says an intractable problem is that which is not easily governed, managed, directed, manipulated, relieved or cured. It does not say the problem is impossible to solve. What would make this particular problem impossible to solve is for the President to continue down the road he has followed in his first year in office. It is time for some serious policy overhauling. It is time to face the ghosts of the past. When it is time for some serious ghost busting, who you gonna call? I suggest Mitchell try a new perspective. Call Henry Siegman.” 
In the January 7, 2010 edition of The Nation, Seigman noted, “Israel has crossed the threshold from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.
“In short, Middle East peacemaking efforts will continue to fail, and the possibility of a two-state solution will disappear, if US policy continues to ignore developments on the ground in the occupied territories and within Israel, which now can be reversed only through outside intervention. President Obama is uniquely positioned to help Israel reclaim Jewish and democratic ideals on which the state was founded–if he does not continue ‘politics as usual.'” 
Israel is not-and never has been a Democracy!
In the May 28, 1993 edition of Yedioth Ahronoth, Ariel Sharon explained:
“The terms ‘democracy’ or ‘democratic’ are totally absent from the Declaration of Independence. This is not an accident. The intention of Zionism was not to bring democracy, needless to say. It was solely motivated by the creation in Eretz-Isrel of a Jewish state belonging to all the Jewish people and to the Jewish people alone. This is why any Jew of the Diaspora has the right to immigrate to Israel and to become a citizen of Israel.”
Jeff Halper, American Israeli, co-founder and coordinator of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Professor of Anthropology, explains:
“An ethnocracy is the opposite of a democracy, although it might incorporate some elements of democracy such as universal citizenship and elections. It arises when one particular group-the Jews in Israel, the Russians in Russia, the Protestants in pre-1972 Northern Ireland, the whites in apartheid South Africa, the Shi’ite Muslims in Iran, the Malay in Malaysia and, if they had their way, the white Christian fundamentalists in the US-seize control of the government and armed forces in order to enforce a regime of exclusive privilege over other groups in what is in fact a multi-ethnic or multi-religious society. Ethnocracy, or ethno-nationalism, privileges ethnos over demos, whereby one’s ethnic affiliation, be it defined by race, descent, religion, language or national origin, takes precedence over citizenship in determining to whom a county actually ‘belongs.'”
The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was signed May 14, 1948 the day the British Mandate over Palestine expired and which affirms that the state of Israel:
“Will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisioned by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion…and will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, education and culture: it will safeguard the Holy places of all religions, and it will be faithful to the principals of the Charter of the United Nations.”
In a 2005 interview with Jeff Halper, he informed this reporter:
“Israel has no constitution but has a Declaration of Independence which promised that Israel would abide by conditions and UN resolutions. They have not fulfilled the agreement which was the basis of their independence.”
The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law and very foundation and source of legal authority that underlies the very existence of these United States and the federal government. The US Constitution provides the framework for the organization of the federal government and under pins the relationship of the federal government to the states and all its citizens/people within these United States.
Jeff Halper hit another nail on the head when he wrote that the “entire conflict with the Palestinians has been reduced to one consideration: personal security…Israeli Jews prefer peace and compromise, but only if they are convinced that their prime preoccupation-security- has been credibly addressed.” 
So, let’s address it! The brutal truth is that only if we truly love our friends will we always be honest with them and we call them on their bad behavior!
There will never be security for Israeli Jews without justice for the indigenous people of the so called holy land which has been disseminated into Bantustans-disconnected enclaves populated by human beings who have been justice: equal and inalienable human rights due to colonialism, imperialism, military might and Zionism, which have been aided and abetted by American Government foreign policy and billions of USA Taxpayers bucks!
“Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War ll. Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars. Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America’s entire foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year. This largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain.”
Just before Christmas 2010, President Obama, signed into law the biggest aid pledge of the year. NOT for struggling countries on the World Bank’s list, not for we the people without health care, but another $3 billion for Israel in 2010 and an extra $30 billion over the next decade!
It is past time for the US to comprehend that the Israeli-Palestinian affects the entire world and is at the very root of Anti-Semitic and Anti-American sentiment and this conflict is not and never has been between equals!
In 2005, Jeff Halper also informed this reporter:
“Tony Blair said 70% of all the conflicts in the world can be traced back to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. What gives us hope is that as this conflict worsens maybe Europe will figure out that American policies are against their interests and intervene…This conflict impacts the global community and especially everyone in the USA.
“If we do fix this conflict it would be a tremendous step forward in global reconciliation…This whole issue is based on Human Rights and it is a global issue requiring global intervention.
“It has been said that the Israelis do not love this land, they just want to possess it. There have been three stages to make this occupation permanent. The first was to establish the facts on the ground; the settlements. There are ½ million Israeli’s and four million Palestinians here. They have been forced into Bantustan; truncated mini states; prison states. It is apartheid and Bush and Hillary are both willing collaborators.
“In 1977, Sharon came in with a mandate, money and resources to make the Israeli presence in the West Bank irreversible. The second stage began in April 2004 when America approved the Apartheid/Convergence/Realignment Plan and eight settlement blocs. This is just like South Africa! The Bush Sharon letter exchange guaranteed that the USA considers the settlements non-negotiable. The Convergence Plan and The Wall create the borders and that is what defines Bantustans. Congress ratified the Bush plan and only Senator Byrd of West Virginia voted no and nine House Representatives.
“Israel has set up a matrix of control; a thick web of settlements guaranteed to make the occupation permanent by establishing facts on the ground. Israel denies there is an occupation, so everything is reduced to terrorism. It is our job to insist upon the human rights issue, for occupied people have International Law on their side.
“Israel is not a democracy, it is an ethnocracy: full rights to Jews, but not Palestinians.” 
In my video interview with the Whistle blower of Israel’s WMD Program, Mordechai Vanunu, taped a few weeks after his Freedom of Speech Trial began in Jerusalem, he stated:
“It’s very sad that Hilary Clinton went to the Jewish Wailing Wall and forgot the real crying wall is the Palestinian wall; the apartheid wall, the wall is not for defense, but to keep this conflict permanent.
“The Israelis have 200 atomic weapons and they accuse the Palestinians and Muslims of terrorism.
“Israel is only a democracy if you are a Jew.” 
On November 8, 2006, Dr. Ilan Pappe, spoke in East Jerusalem, during Sabeel’s [www.sabeel.org] 6th International Conference: The Forgotten Faithful: AKA Palestinian Christians.
Dr. Pappe spoke about the “Dynamics of Forgetting” and it is past time to remember that in Tel Aviv “on March 10, 1948, eleven men had a meeting in the Red House headed by Ben Gurion. The eleven decided to expel one million Palestinians from historical Palestine. No minutes were taken, but many memoirs were written about that fateful meeting. A systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine began and within seven months the Zionists managed to expel one half of all the Palestinian people from their villages and towns.
“The Red House in Tel Aviv is gone now. It was a typical building in Tel Aviv that had all the characteristics of Mediterranean homes but with the local Palestinian architecture of the ’20’s. Today a USA Sheraton Hotel stands in its place. The Red House was the home of the Hagganah; a Jewish underground organization but before 1948 it was the home of a socialist movement, from which it received its name.”
Haganah is Hebrew for “The Defense” and was a Jewish paramilitary organization formed in what was then the British Mandate for Palestine from 1920 to 1948. In the period between 1920 and 1929, the Haganah lacked a strong central authority or coordination; Haganah “units” were very localized and poorly armed and consisted mainly of Jewish farmers who took turns guarding their farms or their kibbutzim. Following the Arab 1929 Hebron massacre that led to the ethnic cleansing by the British authorities of all Jews from the city of Hebron, the Haganah’s role changed dramatically. It became a much larger organization encompassing nearly all the youth and adults in the Jewish settlements, as well as thousands of members from the cities. It also acquired foreign arms and began to develop workshops to create hand grenades and simple military equipment. It went from being an untrained militia to a capable army.
The British did not officially recognize the Haganah, but British security forces cooperated with them and by 1931, the most right-wing elements of Haganah branched off and formed the Irgun Tsva’i-Leumi: The National Military Organization.
The Irgun were discontented with the policy of restraint when faced with British and Arab pressure and were “terrorists” in their own right. The Irgun later split in 1940, and their offshoot became known as the “Lehi” a Hebrew acronym of Lochamei Herut Israel, known as the Freedom Fighters of Israel and also the “Stern Gang” after its leader, Abraham Stern.
The groups had different functions, but all served to move the British out of Palestine and to make Palestine a Jewish state rather than create a Jewish home in Palestine.
Menachem Begin, an Irgun commander, stated in a 1944 meeting: “In fact, there is a division of roles; One organization advocates individual terrorism (the Lehi), the other conducts sporadic military operations (the Irgun) and there is a third organization which prepares itself to throw its final weight in the decisive war.”
Dr. Pappe explained that in 1948, the “systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine began and within seven months the Zionists managed to expel one half of all the Palestinian people from their villages and towns.
“The New York Times followed Israeli troops and reported the truth of the expulsion and separation of men and women, and of the many massacres. The world was well informed in 1948, but a year later not a trace was reported in the USA press or books. It was as if nothing ever happened.
“From March to October 1948 the USA State Department stated what was happening was a CRIME against humanity and ethnic cleansing. When ever one ethnic group expels another group they should be treated as War Criminals and the victims should be allowed to return.
“This is never mentioned in the USA about Palestine.
“Israel is so successful in their ethnic cleansing because the world doesn’t care! The ethnic cleansing continues via the apartheid policies of the Israeli government and because of the denial of the truth by the USA media.
“To claim Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East is bullshit! The Six Day War of 1967 escalated the ethnic cleansing and today in Jerusalem every Palestinian who fails to pay taxes, or has a minor infraction will loose their citizenship.
“In 1948 the mechanism of denial and ethnic cleansing as an IDEOLOGY, not a policy but a formula began. When Zionism began in the 19th century it was meant to be a safe haven for Jews and to help redefine Judaism as a national movement, not just a religion. Nothing wrong with either of those goals!
“But by the late 19th Century it was decided the only way these goals could be achieved was by ridding the indigenous population and it became an evil ideology.
“Israeli Jewish life will never be simple, good, or worth living while this ideology of domination, exclusiveness and superiority is allowed to continue. The mind set today is that unless Israel is an exclusive Jewish State, Palestinians will continue to be obstacles. However, there has always been a small vocal minority challenging this.
“The only thing that can save Palestinians is for the world to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH!”
In his book, “Later Years” Albert Einstein wrote:
“This is a time when there seems to be a particular need for men of philosophical persuasion—that is to say, friends of wisdom and truth—to join together…We Jews should be, and remain, the carriers and patrons of spiritual values. But we should also always be aware of the fact that these spiritual values are and always have been the common goal of mankind.” [Page 268]
The truth is often brutal, but if the US truly desires Israel to be secure and also be known as an honest broker for peace in the Middle East, we must first know the truth and then always speak our mind, for as William Blake penned: “Opposition is True Friendship” and enough has become more than enough!
2. Rabbi Lerner, TIKKUN Magazine, page 35, Sept./Oct. 2007
6. Jeff Halper, An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel, Page 74
7. An Israeli in Palestine, Pages 65-66. Pluto Press, 2008
8. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”
9. Eileen Fleming, Memoirs of a Nice Irish-American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory
10. “30 Minutes with Vanunu” streaming @ http://wearewideawake.org/
Only in Solidarity do “we have it in our power to begin the world again.”-Tom Paine
Posted: 28 January 2010 1649 hrs
WASHINGTON : US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she would not serve a full eight years if President Barack Obama wins another term, hoping eventually to retire to writing and teaching.
Clinton, who has spent two decades in the national spotlight and narrowly lost her own bid to be president in 2008, said she enjoyed her job as the top US diplomat but found it physically grueling.
Asked by talk-show host Tavis Smiley if she would serve eight years, she replied: “No, I really can’t.”
“The whole eight — that would be very challenging,” she said in the interview broadcast Wednesday on public television.
“It’s a 24-7 job and I think at some point, I will be very happy to pass it on to someone else,” Clinton said.
Clinton repeated that she would not run again for president, saying she wanted a private life after a career in which she has served as first lady and a US senator.
“There are so many things I’m interested in, really going back to private life and spending time reading and writing and maybe teaching. Maybe some personal travel — not the kind of travel where you bring a couple of hundred people with you,” she said.
Clinton said she also hoped throughout her life to be a strong advocate for the rights of women and girls.
The interview was broadcast the same evening that Obama delivered his first State of the Union address, which Clinton missed as she was in London to attend international talks on Afghanistan and Yemen.
By tradition, one member of the cabinet stays away from the president’s annual address to Congress as a precaution in case of calamity.
As Clinton was overseas, that was not her. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan stayed away in an undisclosed location.
Secretaries of state in recent times have rarely served more than one presidential term, although George Shultz was in office for six and a half years under Ronald Reagan.
* Political agent warns elders of military operation if fleeing
terrorists from SWA not expelled
* Elders say there is little they can do
By Iqbal Khattak
PESHAWAR: The political administration has warned tribal chieftains of a military operation if they do not take action against terrorists who have fled Mehsud areas of South Waziristan and taken refuge in North Waziristan, tribal and official sources said on Wednesday.
“There have been messages from the political administration telling us that we should take action against terrorists fleeing the military operation in the Mehsud areas of South Waziristan,” tribal elders told Daily Times over the phone from Miranshah.
Military officials and tribesmen say senior leaders of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan – including the group’s chief, Hakeemullah Mehsud – top commanders and local and foreign terrorists have fled the military operation to take refuge in North Waziristan.
“You people will suffer as much as the people of areas where military offensives are underway if these fleeing terrorists … are not expelled from your region,” North Waziristan Political Agent Mutahir Zeb has told tribal elders.
However, tribal leaders say there is little they can do. “It is beyond our capacity to push out these terrorists. Why should we be held accountable for their presence in North Waziristan? Why didn’t the military block all exit points before launching the offensive?” said the elders in defence of their silence on the issue. “These terrorists will never listen to us.”
Meanwhile, tribal sources said the military had set up checkposts in Bannu, near the border with North Waziristan, to stop those trying to enter from Punjab. “No Punjabi is allowed to go to North Waziristan, and those from other districts of the country and tribal regions are quizzed before allowing them entry,” they said.
Tribal sources in Wana said over the phone that anybody – apart from residents of the region – trying to enter South Waziristan needed a special permit.
“Visitors from Peshawar will need to obtain a permit from the political authorities in Tank … when they leave Wana, they need a similar permit from the assistant political agent, otherwise they can be stopped at any checkpost,” said the sources, adding that tight security arrangements had been made to stop new recruits from joining terrorist groups in North and South Waziristan.
Senior government officials told Daily Times that talks were underway to prevent terrorists from returning to areas retaken from the TTP, once locals were allowed to return home.
To say that I’m “outraged” doesn’t come close to describing the emotions I experience every time I think about the government’s latest hare-brained scheme.
According to widespread media reports, both the U.S. Treasury Department and the Department of Labor plan are planning to stage a public-comment period before implementing regulations that would require U.S. savers to invest portions of their 401(k) savings plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) into annuities or other “steady” payment streams backed by U.S. government bonds.
Folks, there’s only one reason these agencies would do such a thing – the nation’s creditors think that U.S. government bonds are a bad bet and don’t want to buy them anymore. So like a grifter who’s down to his last dollar, the administration is hoping to get its hands on our hard-earned savings before the American people realize they’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes … once again.
It’s easy to understand why.
Facing a $14 trillion fiscal hangover, the Treasury can no longer count countries such as Japan and China to be dependable buyers of U.S. government debt. Not only have those nations dramatically reduced their purchasing of U.S. bonds, most of our largest creditors are now actively diversifying their reserves away from greenback-based investments in favor of other reliable stores of value – like oil, gold and other commodities.
This growing reluctance couldn’t come at a worse time. Just yesterday (Tuesday), in fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the U.S. budget deficit would hit $1.35 trillion this year. And that’s not the only shortfall the Treasury has to address. The U.S. Federal Reserve is supposed to stop buying Treasury bonds for its asset portfolio, a program the central bank put in place last year.
The upshot: The Obama administration has to find other ways sell government debt – without raising interest rates, a move that would almost certainly jeopardize the country’s super-weak economic recovery.
Facing an uphill battle and increasingly skeptical buyers, the government is changing tactics and targeting the biggest pile of money available as a means of dealing with its fiscal follies – the $3.6 trillion sitting in U.S. retirement plans, including 401(k) plans.
The way I see it, the Obama administration can see the financial train wreck that’s going to occur. So it’s rushing to crack open the safe that holds our retirement money before anyone realizes that they’ve been robbed.
And if this plan becomes reality, that’s just what it will be – robbery. American retail investors didn’t sign up for the financial-crisis roller-coaster ride we’ve been on since 2008. We didn’t approve the nation’s five-fold increase in lending capacity. And we certainly didn’t volunteer to help pay down a national debt that’s doubled.
Few people realize that the federal government spent an estimated $17,000 to $25,000 per U.S. household in 2009 (the final figures haven’t been calculated, yet). But that’s no surprise: “We the people” didn’t approve it.
At a point where it’s spending money like a drunken sailor, Washington seems more interested in appropriating and redistributing our retirement savings than it is in fixing a system that’s badly broken. If you add in all the stimulus spending that the taxpayers must now repay, the average government-agency-spending tab has zoomed more than 50% in the last couple of years. That’s right – 50%.
So it’s only logical that the administration would go after our 401(k) and IRA savings plans.
Disgusting, but logical.
Here’s how the argument is likely to be framed.
The system we presently have in place is what’s commonly called a “defined contribution plan.” Under such a plan, the benefits we enjoy during retirement aren’t determined in advance. Instead, those benefits are determined by how much money we contribute while working, and by the performance of the investments that we choose. The 401(k) is almost exclusively a defined contribution plan.
Years ago, Americans depended more upon “defined benefit plans” that promised a steady stream of income at a future date – with the actual amounts determined by our years of service or our earnings history. Old-fashioned company pension plans and even U.S. Social Security are examples of defined benefit plans.
By laying claim to our retirement assets in exchange for 30-year Treasury bonds, annuities or other payout streams, the government will try to persuade us that we’re not capable of managing our own money, that the stock market is too risky a place for most Americans, and that we need Big Brother to hold our hands and protect our futures.
What we need, the administration is going to tell us, is a defined benefit plan.
So expect a big snow job. But here’s the problem.
Defined benefit plans are great only as long as they are well funded. Unfortunately, most aren’t.
In fact, according to various studies, pension funds could already be underfunded by as much as $5.3 trillion. Add that to the $14 trillion we’ve already got on the table and we’re talking a staggering $19.3 trillion – and that’s with no escalators, no cost-of-living adjustments and no interest-rate increases. And that’s assuming we don’t need another round of stimulus.
Here’s what the government isn’t going to tell you. When pension funds transition from defined contribution plans to defined benefit plans, the only backing they have is the underlying assets themselves and the company or entity that’s responsible for the plans – which in this case would be the U.S. government.
If the prospects of your entire future being placed in the hands of the federal government doesn’t scare the daylights out of you after all we’ve experienced so far, I suspect that nothing will.
Our elected leaders, appointed government guardians, and Wall Street have together demonstrated a total inability to manage what they already control. There’s no reason on the planet why they should be allowed to get their hands on our hard-won savings. All that will do is punish the thrifty, disciplined and far-sighted investor, while rewarding – or at the very least protecting – the inept politicians and career bureaucrats who allowed this crisis to occur in the first place.
By backing their plan with 30-year Treasuries, government backers of this plan are betting that you and I won’t notice that the trouble with annuities and long bonds is that they tend to get annihilated by inflation. That’s why even the most jaded professionals will tell you that investing in such instruments right now when interest rates are being artificially held down near 0.00% is bad juju: Interest rates have only one direction to travel – up, which tends to crush bond prices.
Right now, Americans are apparently smarter than the administration believes. In fact, a survey by the Investment Company Institute found that more than 70% of all households disagreed with the idea of requiring a retiree to buy an annuity with a portion of their assets. And it didn’t matter whether the annuity was offered by an insurance company or by the government.
Let’s hope that the full-court press that the administration is getting ready to deploy doesn’t snow American investors. If the government succeeds, we’ll look back and see that they pulled a pretty slick trick to get our support.
Unfortunately, it won’t be the last trick they play with our retirement money. That last trick will come after they have control of our savings – when they make our retirements disappear.
Only natural persons shall be protected by this Constitution and entitled to the rights and freedoms it guarantees
Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press for non-person entities engaged in the gathering and reporting of fact, analysis, and opinion. In all other respects, Congress and the States shall regulate and tax non-person entities as necessary for the public good.
This article shall become operative once it has been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three-fourths of the States thereof.
William John Cox
By Melvin A. Goodman
Editor’s Note: At least since the 1970s, conservatives and neoconservatives have taken aim at the U.S. intelligence community to ensure that its assessments don’t undermine the Right’s favored policies, whether regarding the old Soviet military threat or new U.S. military adventures around the world.
This intensive politicization of U.S. intelligence and the careerism that it spawned have contributed to some of the worst intelligence failures of the past several decades. Yet, instead of confronting the core problems of intelligence, Washington politicians have often made matters worse, as former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman notes in this guest essay:
It is time for serious soul-searching regarding the role of the CIA and the intelligence community. Last month’s operational and intelligence failures led to the deaths of seven CIA officers in Afghanistan and might have resulted in nearly 300 deaths on a Northwest Airlines plane headed for Detroit.
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It is particularly shocking that President Barack Obama’s chief of counterterrorism, John Brennan, conceded that the latter failure was caused by the fact that there was “no one intelligence entity or team or task force assigned responsibility for doing a follow-up investigation” of the considerable intelligence that was collected.
It is unbelievable that the President had to order the creation of a system for tracking threat reports. The failures beg the question of what have we learned since 9/11.
Previous CIA failures regarding the unanticipated decline and fall of the Soviet Union, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the run-up to the Iraq War demonstrate a $75 billion intelligence enterprise that can provide neither strategic nor tactical warning to policymakers and is reluctant to provide uncomfortable truth to power.
The serious problems that need to be addressed include the important nexus between intelligence and policy — and the need for a CIA that is not beholden to policy or political interests; the militarization of the intelligence community – which must be reversed; the lack of Congressional oversight – which must be corrected, and the decline of operational tradecraft – which must be investigated.
Before addressing reform in Part II, however, we must first confront the mythology that surrounds the intelligence enterprise.
The Greatest Myth: The 9/11 Commission offered insight into the systemic problems of the CIA and the intelligence community. The Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 solved the problems that had been exposed by the 9/11 Commission by creating a director of national intelligence, the so-called intelligence tsar.
In fact, the 9/11 Commission failed to use the powers it had been given to explore the reasons for the 9/11 intelligence failure.
It deferred unnecessarily to the White House’s use of “executive privilege,” and failed to stand up to CIA Director George Tenet, who refused to permit commissioners to debrief prisoners held by the CIA. The commission failed to use its subpoena powers and lacked experience in the world of the intelligence community.
The CIA’s Inspector General concluded that the 9/11 failure was about personal failures, accountability and bureaucratic ineptitude. The same could be said for the Christmas Day events. The commission focused on larger issues: budgets and funding, organizational problems and structural fixes.
The Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 actually made a bad situation worse. It created a new bureaucracy under a director of national intelligence (DNI) beholden to the White House, as well as a centralized system that stifles creative thinking and risks more politicized intelligence.
The DNI was not given the authority to challenge the Pentagon’s control of key intelligence agencies and their budgets, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was not given a central depository to fill the analytical gaps between domestic and international terrorist threats.
Thus, the major problems exposed by 9/11 – the lack of a centralized repository of data and the need for more, rather than less, competitive analysis on terrorism – was repeated in the Christmas Day failure.
Finally, by making the DNI responsible for the daily briefing of the President, it ensured that the “tsar” would have little time to conceptualize and implement the strategic reforms that were needed.
President Barack Obama’s unwillingness to request a National Intelligence Estimate before making his decision late last year to increase military forces in Afghanistan revealed his lack of respect for the work of the intelligence community.
Myth Number Two: The intelligence community is a genuine community that fosters intelligence cooperation and the sharing of intelligence information. The intelligence community has never functioned as a community.
With the exception of the production of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), which are indeed a corporate product of the community, there is limited sharing of the most important and sensitive documents collected by the various intelligence agencies, and very little esprit de corps within the community.
There have always been deep rivalries between civilian and military agencies, with the CIA and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence Research often lined up against the Defense Intelligence Agency and the four military intelligence branches.
This division was particularly profound during the debates over Soviet military power and the verification of Soviet and American arms control agreements, with military intelligence consistently exaggerating the strength of the Soviet military and opposing the disarmament agreements of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The 9/11 and Christmas Day failures revealed continued parochialism and lack of cooperation within the community.
The intelligence community suffers from an inability to learn from its failures and successes. The CIA needs to emulate the U.S. Army, which routinely conducts after-action reports and boasts a Center for Army Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
The center has a small staff, takes advantage of teams of experts to investigate specific issues, and maintains a direct line of communication to senior military leaders to understand what needs to be examined.
Conversely, the CIA has resorted to a culture of cover-up to conceal failures such as the collapse of the Soviet Union; 9/11; the Iraq War; the Christmas Day event; and the suicidal bombing of the CIA’s most important facility in Afghanistan.
Myth Number Three: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence offers a genuine possibility for exercising central control over the intelligence community. The creation of the DNI has worsened the malaise within the CIA without reform for either the agency or the intelligence community.
The fact that the President had to meet with more than 20 intelligence principals to discuss the Christmas Day failure points to the crazy-quilt bureaucratic structure created in the wake of 9/11, as well as the lack of centralized authority and responsibility within the community.
The Pentagon has veto power over the DNI with respect to transferring personnel and budgetary authority from individual agencies into joint centers or other agencies. This fact undermines the possibility of any legitimate reform process.
The first DNI, John Negroponte, became frustrated and left suddenly in December 2006 for a lesser position at the State Department. His two successors have been retired naval admirals, Mike McConnell and Dennis Blair; neither has an understanding of the importance of strategic and long-term intelligence.
The DNI spends far too much time preparing for his daily briefing of the President, which should be in the hands of the CIA, and the issue of cyber-security, which should be in the hands of the NSA.
Instead of pursuing reform, Negroponte, McConnell and Blair have built a huge, lumbering and bloated bureaucracy that includes a principal deputy director, four deputy directors, three associate directors and no fewer than 19 assistant deputy directors.
The DNI has a huge budget (over $1 billion) and has taken its management staff from the CIA and INR, thus weakening the overall intelligence apparatus. There has been no real accountability of the DNI; Congressional intelligence oversight committees have failed to monitor the DNI’s hiring of contractors with extravagant salaries.
Myth Number Four: The CIA is not a policy agency, but is chartered to provide objective and balanced intelligence analysis to decision-makers without any policy axe to grind.
This is possibly the most harmful myth of all, because CIA’s covert action, which has registered a series of strategic disasters over the past 60 years, is part of the policy implementation process.
As a result, much clandestine collection over the years has been designed to collect information that supports policy.
The CIA was unfairly described 30 years ago as a “rogue elephant out of control.” In fact, the CIA is part of the White House policy process. Various presidents have authorized regime change in Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, the Congo, the Dominican Republic and South Vietnam, which have had disastrous consequences for U.S. interests.
The White House authorized assassination plots in Cuba, the Congo and South Vietnam, and provided legal sanction for the CIA to create secret prisons, conduct torture and abuse, and pursue renditions, often involving totally innocent people without recourse to judicial proceedings.
Myth Number Five: The 9/11 and Christmas Day failures were due to the lack of sharing intelligence collection. The conventional wisdom is that the 9/11 intelligence failure was caused primarily by the failure to share intelligence, particularly the failure of the CIA to inform the FBI of the presence of two al-Qaeda operatives in the United States.
In actual fact, the problem was far more serious; it was a problem of sloppiness and incompetence in dealing with sensitive intelligence information.
It has been established that 50-60 analysts and operatives from the CIA, the FBI and the NSA had access to information that Khaled al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who had links to al-Qaeda, had entered the United States long before 9/11.
These analysts and operatives failed to inform leading officials at their own agencies of the two al-Qaeda operatives, who fell through the cracks of the system. Eight years later, the Nigerian bomber similarly escaped detection despite excellent intelligence collection that was seen by most intelligence agencies.
There is still an inadequate flow of information between intelligence agencies. The United States lacks one central depository for all information on national and international terrorism, and the proliferation of intelligence agencies makes sharing of intelligence products even more cumbersome.
The DNI and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) were created after 9/11 to make sure that intelligence was shared, but this led to a downgrading of the CIA and the lack of a single agency responsible for analyzing intelligence on terrorism.
Tremendous amounts of useful intelligence are collected, but intelligence analysis has not been appreciably improved.
The NSA had information on the Nigerian bomber that wasn’t shared with the CIA and the FBI; the CIA prepared a biographic study of the Nigerian bomber, which it didn’t share with NCTC. The State Department did not pursue whether the Nigerian bomber had a U.S. visa, let alone a multiple-entry visa, in his possession.
The so-called intelligence community lacks an effective computer system to coordinate all intelligence information, although it does have access to the State Department’s consular database-listing visa holders, which it failed to consult.
The DHS’s customs and border units had sufficient intelligence to interrogate the bomber when he landed in Detroit; its Transportation Security Agency lacked intelligence to keep him from boarding a plane to Detroit.
Myth Number Six: The CIA successfully recruits foreign assets. The CIA’s National Clandestine Service (NCS) relies on walk-ins and rarely recruits major espionage assets. The most successfulwalk-ins, moreover, such as Col. Oleg Penkovsky, often have great difficulty in getting CIA operatives to accept them.
The NCS has had little success in recruiting assets in the closed world of terrorism or in closed societies such as China, Iran and North Korea. Many of the agents recruited from Cuba, East Germany and the former Soviet Union were double agents reporting to their host governments. The suicide bomber in Afghanistan last month was a double agent.
The CIA has to rely on foreign intelligence liaison sources for sensitive intelligence collection and even the recruitment of foreign assets. There are few al-Qaeda operatives who have been killed or captured without the assistance of foreign liaison, particularly the Pakistani intelligence service.
But the suicide bomber at the CIA base in Afghanistan last month was recruited with the help of the Jordanian intelligence service, an extremely risky way to recruit assets; he was brought onto the base without proper inspection and met with more than a dozen officers.
The loss of top-ranking CIA operations officers in Afghanistan points to the need for a review of CIA clandestine operations. The current CIA director, a former congressman, has surrendered to the clandestine culture and cadre; he is unlikely to lead a reform movement.
And President Obama’s appointment of former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, a master of the CIA cover-up over the past two decades, points to a continued cover-up.
Instead of a CIA outside the policy community telling truth to power, providing objective and balanced intelligence to policymakers and avoiding policy advocacy, as President Harry S. Truman wanted, we now have the CIA as a paramilitary organization.
Indeed, there has been a trend toward militarization of the entire intelligence community. In the Bush administration, the CIA was significantly weakened, with a director, Michael Hayden, who was a four-star general.
The Obama administration appointed a retired admiral to be the director of national intelligence, a retired general to be national security adviser, and retired generals to be ambassadors to key countries such as Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.
By placing the position of the DNI in the hands of the military, the Bush and Obama administrations completed the militarization of the CIA and even the intelligence community itself, where active-duty and retired general officers run the Office of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office.
The Pentagon is responsible for nearly 90 percent of all personnel in the intelligence community and 85 percent of the community’s $75 billion budget.
The absence of an independent civilian counter to the power of military intelligence threatens civilian control of the decision to use military power and makes it more likely that intelligence will be tailored to suit the purposes of the Pentagon. This is exactly what President Truman wanted to prevent.
Finally, the Congressional intelligence oversight process has made no genuine effort to monitor CIA’s flawed intelligence analysis or its clandestine operations, and failed to challenge the illegal activities of the CIA that were part of the policy process.
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has sat on her hands while CIA Director Leon Panetta methodically dismantled and marginalized the oversight responsibilities of the Office of the Inspector General.
Melvin A. Goodman, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and adjunct professor of government at Johns Hopkins University, spent 42 years with the CIA, the National War College, and the U.S. Army. His latest book is Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA. [This story originally appeared at Truthout.org.]
Crucial evidence about the reasons Britain went to war against Saddam Hussein is being kept secret it has emerged – leading to accusations that the Iraq inquiry has been “gagged”.
By Rosa Prince
In an apparent breach of the Inquiry terms, Sir John Chilcot, head of the probe, expressed his “frustration” that he was unable to refer to key documents while questioning Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, about why he gave the “green light” for war.
Lord Goldsmith also said that he was unhappy at being denied the opportunity to discuss documents including a letter from Jack Straw, then-former foreign secretary, about United Nations negotiations.
Gordon Brown has pledged that the inquiry team will have access to “all Government papers,” but the exchanges over Lord Goldsmith’s testimony make clear that they will be barred from discussing classified documents during evidence sessions.
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, claimed that the inability of the Chilcot team to properly question witnesses meant that it was being “gagged,” adding that if secret documents relating to Tony Blair, who gives evidence tomorrow, could not be discussed, the result would be a “cover-up”.
The lack of transparency over crucial documents emerged as Lord Goldsmith was explaining how he had changed his mind about the legality of the war in the months leading up to the invasion.
He said: “I want to make it clear that I didn’t agree with the decision that has apparently been made that certain documents are not to be declassified but I will give the evidence that the inquiry seeks.”
Sir John told him: “We share your frustration.”
In a barbed comment, another member of the panel, Sir Roderic Lyne, later referred to other documents as having been “declassified by our ever-bountiful Government”.
During his evidence, Lord Goldsmith insisted in referring to one secret document, a letter from Mr Straw in which he discussed some of the negotiations during the UN Security Council’s decision to pass Resolution 1441, which gave a “last chance” to comply with weapons inspectors. But he was unable to disclose the content of the letter.
The evidence would almost certainly have been important for public understanding of Lord Goldsmith’s decision to change his mind about the legality of the war, which has been much scrutinised.
He told the inquiry that his decision to give his “client” Tony Blair the “green light” to invade without a fresh UN resolution was in part based on Mr Straw’s arguments.
The protocol for the inquiry dictates that there should be no hindrance to the committee’s access to Government documents.
If a government department refuses to release a document for security or other reasons, an appeal can be made to Sir Gus O’Donnell, the head of the civil service.
A government spokesman said that while some appeals remained unresolved, none had been refused.
Mr Clegg said: “Despite Gordon Brown’s claim that he has ‘nothing to hide’ this has all the hallmarks of a cover-up.
“Just as Liberal Democrats warned, the protocol on the release of documents is being used to gag the inquiry.”
William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, added: “It is crucial that the Inquiry has unfettered access to all the Government documents that relate to the decision to invade Iraq.”
Why Lord Goldsmith changed his mind:
During his evidence, Lord Goldsmith vigorously rejected criticism of his “integrity” and accusations that he was “leant on” by Tony Blair to change his mind about whether a second UN resolution was necessary before war would be legal.
He said that along with Mr Straw’s advice, crucial factors in winning him over had been conversations with Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, and senior members of United States President George Bush’s administration.
Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair’s chief of staff, suggested that Lord Goldsmith hold talks with Sir Jeremy, and arranged for him to visit Washington DC, where he met Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, and senior White House lawyers.
They told him that the during negotiations to pass Resolution 1441, which ordered Saddam Hussein to comply with weapons inspectors, the French privately agreed that no second resolution was necessary before war could be triggered.
Asking himself “which side of the argument” he wanted to be on, Lord Goldsmith told the inquiry that it was the key point about the French which led him finally to change his mind on February 12 – five weeks before the start of the war.
The toughening up of the legal advice
Until now, the Attorney General is thought to have shifted his position in March 2003, after strengthening his written legal advice to Mr Blair over the course of a 10 day period.
However, Lord Goldsmith told the inquiry, in fact he agreed to toughen the formal statement about the legality of military conflict, which was then shown to the Cabinet and Parliament, because “in hindsight” he agreed his first attempt had been “too cautious”.
Asked whether Mr Blair had told him to rewrite the advice, which said that there was a “reasonable case” for war, after he handed over his first version on March 7, he said: “I don’t recall it that way.”
Instead, Lord Goldsmith told the inquiry, the heads of the Armed Forces and Civil Service had asked him to provide a “yes or no” answer.
Lord Goldsmith said: “These were the people who were being asked, if we decided to take action, possibly to take personal risks and they were entitled to have a clear view.”
Dismissing suggestions that he had been bullied by the Government into changing his advice, the peer laughed off claims that he had been “pinned against the wall by Downing Street” during a meeting with Baroness Morgan, Mr Blair’s aide, and Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor.
After presenting the Cabinet with his firm opinion that an invasion of Iraq would be legal, Lord Goldsmith told the inquiry that he expected to face questions from ministers. None came however.
It was only the second time that the Attorney General had attended Cabinet, he disclosed.
The peer told the inquiry that as he began to read his advice: “Somebody said: ‘you don’t need to do that, we can read it.’ I was trying to use it as a framework to explain.
“I do recall telling Cabinet: ‘well, there is another point of view but this is the conclusion that I have reached,’ then the discussion simply stopped.
“I was ready to answer questions and ready to deal with them and in the event that debate didn’t take place.”
Opposition to war
Prior to February 2003, Lord Goldsmith said, he had often contacted Mr Blair, Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, and Mr Straw to warn them that he considered that invading Iraq would be illegal without the consent of the UN.
In July 2002, he set out his view in a “terribly unwelcome” letter to Mr Blair, who was about to fly for talks with President Bush.
He said: “I didn’t want there to be any doubt that in my view the prime minister could not have the view that he could agree with President Bush somehow, ‘let’s go without going back to the United Nations’.”
On November 7, the day before Resolution 1441 was passed, Lord Goldsmith disclosed, he warned Mr Straw that the document did not mean it would be “all right on the night” and that he would definitely consent to war.
Jack Straw’s defence
Outside the inquiry, Mr Straw, now the Justice Secretary, defended his decision to reject the advice of Government legal advisers in the run-up to the war in Iraq.
He said: there was “no ignorance” of the opinions of senior Foreign Office lawyers.
Instead there were “different views” on the legality of the invasion and the ultimate decision rested with Attorney General Lord Goldsmith.
“I always take advice, but ministers have to decide,” he said.