Anwar al-Awlaki and ‘CIA Islam’

Anwar al-Awlaki and ‘CIA Islam’

Ersun Warnke | Salem-News.com

anwar al awlaki Anwar al Awlaki and CIA IslamAnwar al-Awlaki received some press coverage recently when the U.S. Government declared that they had put out a hit on him. Al-Awlaki has documented connections to several 9/11 hijackers and to Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan. The “Times Square Unexplosive Device Planter” Faisal Shahad claims to have been inspired by him.

What is less covered in the media is that other so called “jihadis” have declared him to be a CIA agent.

SalafiMahaj, an organization of “mainstream” Muslim religious leaders in Britain, published a 130 page criticism of al-Awlaki entitle “Anwar al-Awlaki and His Errors in the Issue of Jihad.” Most of the paper is debate on religious points, but it does include a few gems on al-Awlaki’s past and the perception of him in the Muslim community, both jihadi and mainstream.

A Critique of the Methodology of Manhaj of Anwar al-’Awlaki and his Errors in the Fiqh of Jihad

From that paper:

When one listens to the earlier lectures and khutab of ‘Awlaki it is immediate noticeable that he was … appealing to Middle-Class Muslim professional in the US.”

“Awlaki can be seen in … the PBS documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet (2003) giving a khutbah [religious speech] in an American Congress building at Capitol Hill (!!!?) [there emphasis]“

“Hence there has been a clear transition and methodological shift in the procedure of ‘Awlaki”

“It is possible at this point [moving to Yemen] ‘Awlaki reviewed his methodology to regain credibility after the likes of ‘Abdullah Faisal al-Jamayki [Real name Trevor William Forest] in the late 1990s had actually condemned him for spreading ‘CIA Islam’ and being a ‘Murji’, ‘spy’, ‘a plant of the government’, ‘an enemy of Islam’ etc. See Faisal’s lecture wherein he … condemns ‘Awlaki for being a CIA agent.”

“Al-Awlaki is not known for having participated in any ‘jihad’ whatsoever and this is what has to be highlighted. For he calls to it and hypes up his audiences with it, yet the question has to be asked: upon which battlefield has he fought?”

On the connection between intelligence agencies and jihadis:

“The likes of Omar Bakri, Abu Qatadah al-Filistini, Abu Hamza and a whole host of other takfiri-jihadis [takfiris are muslims who accuse other muslims of being apostates or non-believers, in this context to justify killing them] are well-known for their meetings with not even the police, but with Intelligence Services! Some of them have even been protected and sheltered by them! As in the case of Abu Qatadah al-Filistini after 9/11 which is perhaps the most well-known example in the UK of being sheltered by intelligence services!”

Al-Awlaki is a U.S. Citizen who pursued a Doctorate in Education at George Washington University in Washington D.C. George Washington University is known for having close ties to the intelligence community, the most public of which is that GWU maintains the National Security Archive.

The Washington Post has reported that George Washington University has CIA employees teaching courses on their campus, as part of the CIA’s “Officers in Residence” program.

It is generally safe to assume that the unofficial programs of intelligence are greater in scale than their official public programs, as the public programs are only set up in order to provide cover for the unofficial secret ones (i.e. if the press asks “are CIA agents on university campuses,” they say, “yes of course, here is the brochure.” Instead of making a false denial, which can be challenged, they reveal a partial truth, which is impossible to disprove.”)

All of this information is in the end rumors and innuendo. However, the official press releases of the U.S. Government on this issue are rumors and innuendo themselves, so it advisable to take them in the context of this broader range of perspectives.

Salem-News.com Business/Economy Reporter Ersun Warncke is a native Oregonian. He has a degree in Economics from Portland State University and studied Law at University of Oregon. At a young age, his career spans a wide variety of fields, from fast food, to union labor, to computer programming. He has published works concerning economics, business, government, and media on blogs for several years. He currently works as an independent software designer specializing in web based applications, open source software, and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.


India push to new Iran port for access to Afghanistan

India push to new Iran port for access to Afghanistan

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury
New Delhi,

India is keen to expedite the development of Iran’s Chabahar port, which will give the country direct access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, without needing to go through Pakistan.

The port’s strategic significance also lies in the fact that it is barely 72 km away from Pakistan’s deep-sea Gwadar port, which has been built with Chinese assistance.

The issue on speeding up the work on the port was raised during the 16th Indo-Iran Joint Commission meeting held in the Capital on July 8-9.

During the meeting, which was attended by Iranian finance minister Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini and our external affairs minister S. M. Krishna, India pointed out that Iran’s assistance in developing the Chabahar port has been slow till now, sources said.

The urgency on India’s part was visible in foreign secretary Nirupama Rao’s speech ahead of meeting.

“There is a need for accelerating our joint efforts to fully realise the potential of the Chabahar port. This is a project that is in the common interest of not only India, Iran and Afghanistan, but also Central Asia,” she said.

New Delhi, Tehran and Kabul have signed an agreement to give Indian goods, heading for Central Asia and Afghanistan, preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar.

The port is critical for India’s Afghan engagement-serving as India’s entry point to Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond, bypassing Pakistan.

India has already built the Zaranj-Delaram road in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province, which will connect to the Chabahar port via Milak.

Iran is, with financial aid from India, upgrading the Chabahar- Milak road and constructing a bridge on the route to Zaranj.

Chabahar is located on the Makran coast of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province and is designated a free trade and industrial zone by Tehran.

Sources said the Chabahar-Milak-Zaranj-Delaram highway will open up the Indian market to Afghan agricultural products and other exports.

It will also help combat the scourge of illicit drugs production and export and assist the trade, transport and transit network of Iran.

New Delhi will be able to transport its goods, including humanitarian supplies, to Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond.

The importance of the port has enhanced amid Islamabad’s efforts to reinstate pro-Pakistan Taliban factions such as the Haqqani network at Kabul’s power structure, sources said.

The gathering momentum in Pakistan- supported Taliban reintegration process has boosted Indo-Iran ties as New Delhi contemplates regional arrangement to match Taliban resurgence.

With Islamabad yet again refusing to offer transit rights to Delhi at a recent meeting, operationalisation of the Chabahar port has become all the more important.

For India, the location of the Chabahar port has yet another strategic significance. Gwadar is just 72 km from the Iranian border.

China has developed a presence in the region by assisting the development of the deep- sea Gwadar port, which is part of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

China’s involvement in the Gwadar project is immense.

Experts said its presence in Gwadar provides China with a ” listening post”, where it can monitor US naval activity in the Persian Gulf, Indian activity in the Arabian Sea and future USIndian maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean.

Afghanistan war logs: Task Force 373 – special forces hunting top Taliban

Afghanistan war logs: Task Force 373 – special forces hunting top Taliban

Previously hidden details of US-led unit sent to kill top insurgent targets are revealed for the first time

US soldiers pursue militants in Helmand provinceUS soldiers pursue militants in Helmand province. The shadowy Task Force 373 meanwhile focuses its efforts on more than 2,000 senior Taliban figures on a target list. Photograph: Adrees Latif/ReutersThe Nato coalition in Afghanistan has been using an undisclosed “black” unit of special forces, Task Force 373, to hunt down targets for death or detention without trial. Details of more than 2,000 senior figures from theTaliban and al-Qaida are held on a “kill or capture” list, known as Jpel, the joint prioritised effects list.

In many cases, the unit has set out to seize a target for internment, but in others it has simply killed them without attempting to capture. The logs reveal that TF 373 has also killed civilian men, women and children and even Afghan police officers who have strayed into its path.

The United Nations’ special rapporteur for human rights, Professor Philip Alston, went to Afghanistan in May 2008 to investigate rumours of extrajudicial killings. He warned that international forces were neither transparent nor accountable and that Afghans who attempted to find out who had killed their loved ones “often come away empty-handed, frustrated and bitter”.

Now, for the first time, the leaked war logs reveal details of deadly missions by TF 373 and other units hunting down Jpel targets that were previously hidden behind a screen of misinformation. They raise fundamental questions about the legality of the killings and of the long-term imprisonment without trial, and also pragmatically about the impact of a tactic which is inherently likely to kill, injure and alienate the innocent bystanders whose support the coalition craves.

On the night of Monday 11 June 2007, the leaked logs reveal, the taskforce set out with Afghan special forces to capture or kill a Taliban commander named Qarl Ur-Rahman in a valley near Jalalabad. As they approached the target in the darkness, somebody shone a torch on them. A firefight developed, and the taskforce called in an AC-130 gunship, which strafed the area with cannon fire: “The original mission was aborted and TF 373 broke contact and returned to base. Follow-up Report: 7 x ANP KIA, 4 x WIA.” In plain language: they discovered that the people they had been shooting in the dark were Afghan police officers, seven of whom were now dead and four wounded.

The coalition put out a press release which referred to the firefight and the air support and then failed entirely to record that they had just killed or wounded 11 police officers. But, evidently fearing that the truth might leak, it added: “There was nothing during the firefight to indicate the opposing force was friendly. The individuals who fired on coalition forces were not in uniform.” The involvement of TF 373 was not mentioned, and the story didn’t get out.

However, the incident immediately rebounded into the fragile links which other elements of the coalition had been trying to build with local communities. An internal report shows that the next day Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Phillips, commander of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, took senior officers to meet the provincial governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, who accepted that this was “an unfortunate incident that occurred among friends”. They agreed to pay compensation to the bereaved families, and Phillips “reiterated our support to prevent these types of events from occurring again”.

Yet, later that week, on Sunday 17 June, as Sherzai hosted a “shura” council at which he attempted to reassure tribal leaders about the safety of coalition operations, TF 373 launched another mission, hundreds of miles south in Paktika province. The target was a notorious Libyan fighter, Abu Laith al-Libi. The unit was armed with a new weapon, known as Himars – High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – a pod of six missiles on the back of a small truck.

The plan was to launch five rockets at targets in the village of Nangar Khel where TF 373 believed Libi was hiding and then to send in ground troops. The result was that they failed to find Libi but killed six Taliban fighters and then, when they approached the rubble of a madrasa, they found “initial assessment of 7 x NC KIA” which translates as seven non-combatants killed in action. All of them were children. One of them was still alive in the rubble: “The Med TM immediately cleared debris from the mouth and performed CPR.” After 20 minutes, the child died.

Children

The coalition made a press statement which owned up to the death of the children and claimed that troops “had surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building”. That claim is consistent with the leaked log. A press release also claimed that Taliban fighters, who undoubtedly were in the compound, had used the children as a shield.

The log refers to an unnamed “elder” who is said to have “stated that the children were held against their will” but, against that, there is no suggestion that there were any Taliban in the madrasa where the children died.

The rest of the press release was certainly misleading. It suggested that coalition forces had attacked the compound because of “nefarious activity” there, when the reality was that they had gone there to kill or capture Libi.

It made no mention at all of Libi, nor of the failure of the mission (although that was revealed later by NBC News in the United States). Crucially, it failed to record that TF 373 had fired five rockets, destroying the madrasa and other buildings and killing seven children, before anybody had fired on them – that this looked like a mission to kill and not to capture. Indeed, this was clearly deliberately suppressed.

The internal report was marked not only “secret” but also “Noforn”, ie not to be shared with the foreign elements of the coalition. And the source of this anxiety is explicit: “The knowledge that TF 373 conducted a HIMARS strike must be protected.” And it was. This crucial fact remained secret, as did TF 373’s involvement.

Again, the lethal attack caused political problems. The provincial governor arranged compensation and held a shura with local leaders when, according to an internal US report, “he pressed the Talking Points given to him and added a few of his own that followed in line with our current story”. Libi remained targeted for death and was killed in Pakistan seven months later by a missile from an unmanned CIA Predator.

In spite of this tension between political and military operations, TF 373 continued to engage in highly destructive attacks. Four months later, on 4 October, they confronted Taliban fighters in a village called Laswanday, only 6 miles from the village where they had killed the seven children. The Taliban appear to have retreated by the time TF 373 called in air support to drop 500lb bombs on the house from which the fighters had been firing.

The final outcome, listed tersely at the end of the leaked log: 12 US wounded, two teenage girls and a 10-year-old boy wounded, one girl killed, one woman killed, four civilian men killed, one donkey killed, one dog killed, several chickens killed, no enemy killed, no enemy wounded, no enemy detained.

The coalition put out a statement claiming falsely to have killed several militants and making no mention of any dead civilians; and later added that “several non-combatants were found dead and several others wounded” without giving any numbers or details.

This time, the political teams tried a far less conciliatory approach with local people. In spite of discovering that the dead civilians came from one family, one of whom had been found with his hands tied behind his back, suggesting that the Taliban were unwelcome intruders in their home, senior officials travelled to the stricken village where they “stressed that the fault of the deaths of the innocent lies on the villagers who did not resist the insurgents and their anti-government activities … [and] chastised a villager who condemned the compound shooting”. Nevertheless, an internal report concluded that there was “little or no protest” over the incident.

Concealment

The concealment of TF 373’s role is a constant theme. There was global publicity in October 2009 when US helicopters were involved in two separate crashes in one day, but even then it was concealed that the four soldiers who died in one of the incidents were from TF 373.

The pursuit of these “high value targets” is evidently embedded deep in coalition tactics. The Jpel list assigns an individual serial number to each of those targeted for kill or capture and by October 2009 this had reached 2,058.

The process of choosing targets reaches high into the military command. According to their published US Field Manual on Counter Insurgency, No FM3-24, it is policy to choose targets “to engage as potential counter-insurgency supporters, targets to isolate from the population and targets to eliminate”.

A joint targeting working group meets each week to consider Target Nomination Packets and has direct input from the Combined Forces Command and its divisional HQ, as well as from lawyers, operational command and intelligence units including the CIA.

Among those who are listed as being located and killed by TF 373 areShah Agha, described as an intelligence officer for an IED cell, who was killed with four other men on 1 June 2009; Amir Jan Mutaki, described as a Taliban sub-commander who had organised ambushes on coalition forces, who was shot dead from the air in a TF 373 mission on 24 June 2009; and a target codenamed Ballentine, who was killed on 16 November 2009 during an attack in the village of Lewani, in which a local woman also died.

The logs include references to the tracing and killing of other targets on the Jpel list, which do not identify TF 373 as the unit responsible. It is possible that some of the other taskforce names and numbers which show up in this context are cover names for 373, or for British special forces, 500 of whom are based in southern Afghanistan and are reported to have been involved in kill/capture missions, including the shooting in July 2008 of Mullah Bismullah.

Some of these “non 373” operations involve the use of unmanned drones to fire missiles to kill the target: one codenamed Beethoven, on 20 October 2008; one named Janan on 6 November 2008; and an unnamed Jpel target who was hit with a hellfire missile near Khan Neshin on 21 August 2009 while travelling in a car with other passengers (the log records “no squirters [bodies moving about] recorded”).

Other Jpel targets were traced and then bombed from the air. One,codenamed Newcastle, was located with four other men on 26 November 2007. The house they were in was then hit with 500lb bombs. “No identifiable features recovered,” the log records.

Two other Jpel targets, identified only by serial numbers, were killed on 16 February 2009 when two F-15 bombers dropped four 500lb bombs on a Jpel target: “There are various and conflicting reports from multiple sources alleging civilian casualties … A large number of local nationals were on site during the investigation displaying a hostile attitude so the investigation team did not continue sorting through the site.”

One of the leaked logs contains a summary of a conference call on 8 March 2008 when the then head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security, Amrullah Saleh, tells senior American officers that three named Taliban commanders in Kapisa province are “not reconcilable and must be taken out”. The senior coalition officer “noted that there would be a meeting with the Kapisa NDS to determine how to approach this issue.”

It is not clear whether “taken out” meant “killed” and the logs do not record any of their deaths. But one of them, Qari Baryal, who was ranked seventh in the Jpel list, had already been targeted for killing two months earlier.

On 12 January 2008, after tracking his movements for 24 hours, the coalition established that he was holding a large meeting with other men in a compound in Pashkari and sent planes which dropped six 500lb bombs and followed up with five strafing runs to shoot those fleeing the scene.

The report records that some 70 people ran to the compound and started digging into the rubble, on which there were “pools of blood”, but subsequent reports suggest that Baryal survived and continued to plan rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

Numerous logs show Jpel targets being captured and transferred to a special prison, known as Btif, the Bagram Theatre Internment Facility. There is no indication of prisoners being charged or tried, and previous press reports have suggested that men have been detained there for years without any legal process in communal cages inside vast old air hangars. As each target is captured, he is assigned a serial number. By December 2009, this showed that a total of 4,288 prisoners, some aged as young as 16, had been held at Btif, with 757 still in custody.

Who are TF373?

The leaked war logs show that Task Force 373 uses at least three bases in Afghanistan, in Kabul, Kandahar and Khost. Although it works alongside special forces from Afghanistan and other coalition nations, it appears to be drawing its own troops from the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and to travel on missions in Chinook and Cobra helicopters flown by 160th special operations aviation regiment, based at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

In Asia, a Gulf’s Worth of Oil Awaits Transport

[This is turning-out to be the fly in the ointment in the pipeline wars, for oil companies that have been trying to get the vaporous substance out of the ground, over the ground, or under the sea, into the gas lines of Europe and Asia.  Impatient stock-holders are itching for instant returns but the overly ambitious pipeline scenarios which were used to charm the pants off potential investors have proven to be overly optimistic, if not flat wrong.  The result is production bottlenecks, because tran-Caucasus and trans-Black Sea transportation capacity is not there.  The capacity to tap either Caspian oil or gas is many times greater than the capacity to move it to the European market.  The greatest of all the obstacles to the fulfillment of this great corporate vision remains the Black Sea.  At present, the only Caspian oil or gas to transit the Black Sea will move by tanker, and tanker traffic cannot possibly grow large enough to handle this task, simply because of the narrow outlet of the Bosporus Straits.

Map of Bosporus Strait

All of the pieces have to be in place before the real profits can begin to flow back to the corporate stock-holders.  This means that–enough wells must be drilled in Kazakhistan, Russia and Azerbaijan to meet the flow capacity needed on the European end;  processing plants and compressor stations must be built; undersea pipelines must be in place; overland routes are just the most obvious part of the complex puzzle.

The chosen path to realization of the pipeline pipe dreams has been one of bribery and economic extortion, backed by the threat of military force, or other forms of destabilization.  This is why it is all falling apart now.  There is no military power in the world great enough to supply the manpower and levels of force required to force the pipeline plans into development, or to protect them from terrorism once they are built.  It would take all the militaries of the world, working together, to pull this off.   Hopefully, for the rest of us, the forces of Empire are nowhere near this point of inter-connectedness.

Perhaps the bottle-necks, the flare-ups and the firewalls of international opinion will open the eyes of the developers and force them to see the folly of their plans.  Only international cooperation, on all levels, will bring the pipelines to the world (SEE: The Peace Pipeline).]

In Asia, a Gulf’s Worth of Oil Awaits Transport

Viktor Korotayev for The New York Times

The Tengiz field, one of the world’s largest-known petroleum reservoirs, is tied to a 935-mile pipeline to the Black Sea.

By ANDREW E. KRAMER
The Tengiz field in Kazakhstan has been operating at half capacity because the Russian government has not cooperated with pipeline expansion agreements made by Chevron 12 years ago.
Viktor Korotayev for The New York Times

The Tengiz field in Kazakhstan has been operating at half capacity because the Russian government has not cooperated with pipeline expansion agreements made by Chevron 12 years ago.

But 30 years after its discovery, this field, known as the Tengiz, is still running at only about half speed. Blame geopolitics, not geology.

The problem with the Tengiz field, whose lead operator is the American company Chevron, is not a matter of extracting the oil. More than 100 working wells have already been successfully drilled into the scrub brush desert of western Kazakhstan, near the Caspian Sea.

The challenge is getting the oil to the market.

The Tengiz field, one of the world’s largest known petroleum reservoirs, is tied to a 935-mile pipeline to the Black Sea that the Russian government has declined for years to expand. That refusal has held even though Chevron is a minority partner in the Russian-led pipeline, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, or C.P.C., which agreed a dozen years ago to more than double its carrying capacity when demand required.

As a result, instead of the 600,000 barrels a day from the Tengiz field that the planners had envisioned by now, Chevron has been limited to pumping about 420,000 barrels through the C.P.C. pipeline to the Black Sea — the nearest entry point to international sea lanes. And Chevron has held off on further production investment that would raise the daily total to about a million barrels. (By comparison, the Gulf of Mexico’s daily output is about 1.5 million barrels.)

For now, some of the Tengiz oil that cannot be accommodated by the pipeline moves via a costly bucket brigade of ships on the Caspian and overland railway tankers to the Black Sea. The effort has required Chevron to become Kazakhstan’s largest railroad operator.

“If Chevron had our way and everything worked beautifully, we would have C.P.C. expanded five years ago,” said Guy Hollingsworth, managing director for Chevron in Europe and Asia, referring to the pipeline.

But Chevron does not decide. As the pipeline’s controlling partner, Russia has declined to expand it while trying to line up investors and international rights-of-way for a second, separate pipeline that would provide the next leg of the oil’s journey by an overland link between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

Besides further controlling the transport of oil in the region, Russia is seeking to bypass shipping through the Bosporus Straits in Turkey, the typical passage out of the Black Sea, which is a potential bottleneck already operating at full capacity for oil tankers. Russian pipeline negotiations have long been led by the former president and now prime minister,Vladimir V. Putin, who has taken a keen personal interest in Eurasian energy politics.

The standoff over the C.P.C. expansion is a reminder that while environmental concerns pose a big risk to oil production in the United States and its waters, global politics can pose their own business risks to the industry.

In the years immediately after the breakup of the Soviet Union, many in the industry hoped the Caspian region could become a second Persian Gulf, lifting the fortunes of companies and countries and helping shift world oil supplies away from the Middle East.

The Caspian basin “has been a success, but it hasn’t lived up to the exaggerated expectations,” Svante E. Cornell, research director for the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said.

“One of the problems has been the Russian government’s unwillingness to expand the flow of oil,” Mr. Cornell said.

Chevron is hardly the only company in the Caspian region plagued with transportation woes. Finding an outlet to world markets is a consuming headache of all the companies working in this foreboding, landlocked oil basin in Central Asia.

The operator of a separate, gigantic Caspian oil field — a group whose partners includeExxon Mobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Total and Eni — has yet to negotiate a suitable route for exports. Neither has BP, which is managing a major gas field in this region.

By comparison, Chevron’s troubles are more subtle. The Tengiz field is productive and profitable, but is not yielding nearly as much oil and money as it could be. Chevron executives emphasize, too, that while exports by rail are more expensive, there is value in having a diversified transportation system.

Chevron won the Tengiz contract in 1993, signing a deal with Kazakhstan’s government, whose national oil company has a minority stake in the investor group developing the field. (Besides Chevron, with its 50 percent stake, Exxon Mobil and the Russian oil company Lukoil are also shareholders.)

Despite the state oil company’s involvement, the group is periodically squeezed by the Kazakh government for additional taxes and fines to prop up the national budget — something that became more common during the recession. Just this month, for example, Kazakh authorities announced a new export tax of $2.73 a barrel, which will cost Chevron and its partners $1.6 million a day. The government also said it was conducting an investigation into illegal drilling, which could bring huge fines. The consortium has denied it deviated from the state-approved drilling plan.

Back in the mid-’90s, a plan took shape for an overland pipeline through Russia to the port of Novorossiysk on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. From there it could move by tanker ships, either to other Black Sea countries or, in most cases, through the Bosporus Straits in Turkey, down to the Mediterranean and from there, various ports around the world.

Railroad tanker cars waiting on a siding at the Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan.

Under a 1998 deal, the Russian government agreed to the pipeline’s being built in two phases. — the first, at a capacity of 650,000 barrels a day. The second phase would more than double it to exceed 1.4 million barrels a day “when shareholder forecasts required the capacity,” according to a C.P.C. fact sheet.

Phase 1 was completed in October 2001. Phase 2, despite pent-up demand by Chevron and its partners, has yet to begin.

On the basis of the 1990s-era pipeline plans, the Chevron group invested hundreds of millions of dollars drilling wells and bringing them online. The even bigger expense, though, was constructing massive multibillion-dollar processing plants to remove the lethally poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas from the petroleum to make it fit for sale on the global market. Six such plants are now up and running.

The last to be built, at a cost of $7.4 billion, is a behemoth of pipes and tanks that, in a recent visit here, shimmered in the desert heat and occasionally issued a hissing burst of flame from one of its towers. The complex separates oil from vast quantities of hydrogen sulfide, then re-injects some of the gas into the earth. It is so huge that at one point during construction, completed two years ago, 18,000 laborers were clambering over the sand, welding and hammering it all together.

Yet even before the plant was finished, Chevron learned that the pipeline expansion, which would enable the company to export the plant’s output — 285,000 barrels of processed oil per day — would not be done in time.

As Russia has sought investors for the second pipeline, analysts say it needs to promise that there will be enough oil running through it to justify the cost of construction. Chevron’s Tengiz oil has thus became one of its negotiating chips.

Chevron has already agreed to use this second pipeline. But determining the route has become a matter of international negotiations.

Russia initially proposed running it from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas to the Greek city of Alexandroupolis. But after a change in Bulgaria’s government soured relations with Russia, the focus shifted to running a pipeline across Turkey instead — stretching from the Black Sea port of Samsun to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Various oil companies are now in talks about ensuring supplies for that pipeline.

Mikhail V. Barkov, a spokesman for Transneft, Russia’s state pipeline company, said the government never formally linked expansion of the C.P.C. pipeline to a favorable resolution of this second pipeline plan. It was only a factor among several, he said.

In any case, Russian officials now say a final decision on the timing of the C.P.C. pipeline expansion will come in the fall. Ian MacDonald, Chevron’s vice president for transportation in Europe and the Middle East, said contracts for the pipeline expansion work were already being negotiated.

When the pipeline expansion is approved, he said, Chevron will commit to additional work on the Tengiz field to elevate its output close to a million barrels of oil a day.

But meanwhile, Chevron’s Tengiz field is not living up to its potential.

No new wells are being drilled here. And of the 107 prolific wells already in place, nine are simply left idle. Their stubby pipes protrude from the sand, covered in valves and gauges, like the tips of long straws, waiting to suck up the oil underneath.

WikiLeaks says evidence of war crimes in documents

Associated Press

By RAPHAEL SATTER and KIMBERLY DOZIER, Associated Press Writers

An Afghan soldier stops a mini bus as a U.S. soldier with... AP

An Afghan soldier stops a mini bus as a U.S. soldier with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) checks its passengers during a search for the two missing U.S. Navy personnel at a joint check post with Afghan soldiers in Pul-e-alam, Logar province of Afghanistan on Sunday, July 25, 2010. The Taliban have offered to exchange the body of a U.S. Navy sailor they said was killed in an ambush two days ago in exchange for insurgent prisoners, an Afghan official said Sunday.

Photo: AP

Pakistan secretly helping Taliban: report

[The world owes WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a great debt for this leak release.  This is our equivalent of the Pentagon Papers.  In the case of the confirmation given in the leaked documents on Pentagon knowledge of Pakistani Army support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, what is not shown is probably much more important than this news.  What will not be revealed is why the US military is not doing anything (other than talking tough for the media) to expose or end this state support for the Taliban–the bigger secret is that the United States supports its own Taliban, in many different countries.  The biggest leak of all will be when someone dares to show the world the truth about full blown American Terrorism and our secret “Islamist” armies, some of which Pakistan commands on our behalf.  It is doubtful that Wikileaks will reveal that it is all a big show to fool gullible Americans.  Everyone knows how much Americans love a good movie, especially one with a big twist at the end, and this one is a real doozy!  I am going to spoil the plot for you, the good guys are really the baddest bad guys, and the ones that we thought were bad guys turn-out to be actors, hired by us.]

Pakistan secretly helping Taliban: report

By Adam Entous and Jonathon Burch

KABUL/WASHINGTON – (Reuters) – Pakistan was actively collaborating with the Taliban in Afghanistan while accepting U.S. aid, new U.S. military reports showed, a disclosure likely to increase the pressure on Washington’s embattled ally.

The revelations by the organization Wikileaks emerged as Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of greater NATO casualties in Afghanistan as violence mounts over the summer.

It also came as the Taliban said they were holding captive one of two U.S. servicemen who strayed into insurgent territory, and that the other had been killed. The reported capture will further erode domestic support for America’s nine-year war.

Documents leaked by Wikileaks said representatives from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence met directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize militant networks fighting U.S. soldiers.

The White House condemned the leak, saying it could threaten national security and endanger the lives of Americans. Pakistan said leaking unprocessed reports from the battlefield was irresponsible.

U.S. national security adviser Jim Jones said the leak would not affect “our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan”.

The revelations were contained in more than 90,000 classified documents which U.S. officials focused on the period leading to the launch of President Barack Obama’s Afghan strategy last December, when he authorized deployment of 30,000 additional troops.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its highest of the 9-year-old war as the thousands of extra U.S. troops step up their campaign to drive insurgents out of their traditional heartland in the south.

“As we continue our force levels and our operations over the summer … we will likely see further tough casualties and levels of violence,” Admiral Mullen told reporters in Kabul on Sunday.

The United States has repeatedly urged Pakistan to hunt down militant groups, including some believed to have been nurtured by the ISI as strategic assets in Afghanistan and against arch rival India. Islamabad says it is doing all it can to fight the militancy, adding it was a victim of terrorism itself.

MISSING US SOLDIERS

Two U.S. servicemen were reported missing on Friday after they failed to return in a vehicle they had taken from their compound in Kabul, the NATO-led force said.

A spokesman for the NATO-led force declined to comment on the Taliban’s announcement it was holding one of the men, both from the U.S. Navy.

The Navy described both men as still missing.

“We have the body of the dead soldier and the other one who is alive. We have taken them to a safe place,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Rumors circulated in local and international media about the fate of the missing men and how they had managed to stray into an insurgent-controlled area in Logar province, a short but dangerous 100 km (60 miles) drive south of the capital. One provincial official said alcohol was found in their vehicle.

Last month was the deadliest for foreign troops since 2001, with more than 100 killed, and civilian deaths have also risen as ordinary Afghans are increasingly caught in the crossfire.

The only other foreign soldier believed held by the Taliban is Idaho National Guardsman Bowe Bergdahl, whose capture in June last year triggered a massive manhunt. His captors have issued videos of him denouncing the war, in what the U.S. military has called illegal propaganda.

(Additional reporting by Alister Bull in Washington; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Ron Popeski)