Libya Fiasco Exposes Chain of Incompetent Generals In Charge At the Pentagon

Libya: Failed Nato Mission Exposes U.S. Generals

BY HORACE G. CAMPBELL

 

The extramarital affair cited for the resignation of CIA chief Gen Petraeus is insignificant by far compared to his belonging to a section of US military and intelligence elite pursuing a complex right-wing global agenda.

Carter Ham has been removed as head of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM). General Petraeus resigned from the CIA on November 9. Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette was reassigned on October 26 as the commander of the USS John C. Stennis strike group. These three changes at the top of the US military establishment are all related to the failed NATO intervention in North Africa and the subsequent war and killings that have been unleashed by militias in Libya, especially in Benghazi.

These changes exposed the new autonomy and war fighting capabilities that were being experimented where the CIA and the leaders of the military command structures such as AFRICOM and Central Command (CENTCOM) made policy independent of the executive branch and civilian leadership. This experiment shattered with devastating consequences for the entire military apparatus ensnaring generals, financial speculators, media specialists on the military and politicians.

On October 18, 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that President Obama will nominate General David Rodriguez to succeed General Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command. Carter Ham had taken over as commander of AFRICOM from General William ‘Kip’ Ward on March 8, 2011 and had been placed before the international news as the person in charge of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, when it was assumed that the intervention would be over in one month. This war dragged on for more than one year, and a year later, after the NATO forces announced ‘success’ in Libya, the battles with the sponsored militias led to the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya on September 11, 2012.

One month after the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others, (one State Department high tech specialist and two CIA operatives) in the US ‘facility’ in Benghazi, the internal investigations into the US military response led to the nomination of General David Rodriquez. If and when David Rodriquez is confirmed by the US Senate, AFRICOM will have been led by three different commanders in less than four years.

Two days after Barack Obama was re-elected the President of the United States, on November 9, it was announced that General David Petraeus, a retired four-star general and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was resigning from his position. David H. Petraeus, who had courted the press and academia to build a reputation as a successful soldier-scholar, resigned suddenly as C.I.A. director after evidence of an extramarital affair began to come into the public arena. Inside Washington, the extramarital affair was an open secret that there was a relationship with the biographer who had written, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.

This book was published in January 2012 and when Paula Broadwell appeared on the Daily Show in January to promote her biography of General Petraeus, she was full of innuendo so that those who could read the subtext of her message could discern what she was attempting to communicate. The corporate media reported that the extramarital affair had been uncovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and that it reflected ‘poor judgment’ on the part of the general. Between October 18, when the Commander of Africom was relieved, and November 9, when General Petraeus resigned, there had been a major effort to present information on Benghazi that would influence the outcome of the presidential elections of November 6. In military parlance, this effort of the neo-conservatives to place responsibility for the Benghazi debacle on the White House would have been a military information operation.

The very close and intimate relationship between the US media, academia and the military had been refined in the new war fighting template that had been experimented since the passing of the Patriot Act and the integration between the media, high tech companies and robotic unmanned weapons of death, called drones. In this war fighting template, grand failures such as the complete fiasco in Iraq and the massive drug war in Afghanistan had been covered up with journalists and academics serving the interests of one branch of the military. This cover-up has been buttressed by partisan accounts of the role of differing Generals.

The most recent book, by Thomas Ricks, The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, was one representation of the new embrace between the media and sections of the military establishment. In that book, numerous generals were critiqued for their incompetence and lack of vision. Tom Ricks was joining an argument that many of these Generals should have been fired. Of General Petraeus, Tom Ricks was full of praise noting that, Petraeus showed ‘ real independence of thought … he is an adaptive general.’ In that book, Petraeus was one with good judgment while others such as Tommy Franks and General Casey were compared to General William Westmoreland, poster general of failure in Vietnam.

The double speak and web of sex/intrigue/corruption in the military is now blown wide open for the world to see where generals such as John Allen, Commander of the US military in Afghanistan who was supposed to be in the midst of a war, had time and space to send 20-30,000 pages of email to Jill Kelley, the woman in Tampa, Florida, who was seen by. General Petraeus’s mistress as a rival for his attentions. Media hype about ‘inappropriate communication’ with Jill Kelley cannot divert attention from the realities of the current state of warfare and insecurity in Libya where over 50,000 have lost their lives, since NATO intervened with the ‘responsibility to protect.’

For the peoples of Libya, the United Nations and the peace community, this unfolding Petraeus scandal is of particular interest because of the close relationships between the oil companies, western intelligence/military agencies and the marauding militias that are now coercing Libyan citizens. The failure of the counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan had now come out in Libya. It is All in. When the information about the attack on the US ‘facility’ in Benghazi was first brought to light, there had been confusion.

Was the space that was attacked a ‘consulate,’ a State Department ‘facility, ‘a CIA safe house, or indeed a prison for captured militias? This confusion took attention away from the reality that elements in the military had formulated a policy to align with certain militia groups in Eastern Libya and that these militias (sometimes called jihadists) had in the past been linked to groups that the US called ‘terrorist organizations.’ France, the CIA, and the AFRICOM had aligned with these jihadists to destabilize Libya, freeze billions of dollars of assets, execute Gaddafi and kept the alliance going using Libya as a rear base in the current drive for regime-change in Syria.

The Republicans had sought to benefit from the confusion and disinformation that had been spun by the intelligence and the military about what were the real causes of the death of the ambassador in Benghazi. There had been hearings called before the Republican-controlled Congress, the State Department issued statements, the CIA issued a timeline of the events in Benghazi on the night of September 11 and the conservative media sought to politicise the events to present a picture of incompetence on the part of the Obamas Administration.

With every press release and timeline that was presented there was information that posed new questions about the rot and web of corruption of the US military. After General David Petraeus resigned, it was reported in the US press that he had travelled to Libya at the end of October to carry out his own investigation (some would say cover-up). No sooner had this information came out than it was revealed that the CIA had been holding Libyan militias as prisoners in the CIA annex in Benghazi. This information, which was delivered by Paula Broadwell in a speech before the University of Denver on October 26, deepened the intrigue about what was going on in Libya.

Petraeus had been the commander of the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan at a moment in the history of the United States when military information operations were as important as weapons. According to the US military doctrine in this new kind of warfare there had been the struggle to control the narrative. The US military could never control the narrative on Africa because the history of white supremacy and chauvinism precluded a clear understanding of the dynamics of self-determination in Africa.

In the ten years of the absolute failures of the US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, this effort to control the narrative had involved a massive disinformation campaign against US citizens. In the specific case of Libya, the corporate media had presented the ‘end of the war’ as a victory for the forces of NATO. The truth was never divulged that there is still fighting going on in Libya with the most recent battles at Bani Walid an explicit statement on the ongoing war.

This ‘successful’ NATO intervention had been sold as the narrative until the death of Ambassador Stevens unfolded the layered nature of the war. Between the removal of General Carter Ham and the resignation of General Petraeus there had been the replacement of Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette as the commander of the USS John C. Stennis strike group.

The full back story relating to Petraeus and Libya is still unfolding, but for this week we want to focus on how structures, such as the US Africa command, sought to function in a world as if the Command was a parallel government with its own access to AID resources, financing, health providers, private military contractors, and access to aircraft carrier strike groups such as the John Stennis. This was a military and intelligence integration, independent of the executive that was out of control and establishing policy.

Carter Ham selected by the Crusaders in the US military

When the U.S. Africa Command was launched in October 2007, William E. ‘Kip’ Ward, a United States Army four-star general, served as Commander from October 1, 2007 to March 8, 2011. General Ward, an African American, was demoted to a three-star Lieutenant General, and is now scheduled for retirement. Lt. General William Ward had been quickly removed from AFRICOM after the passing of Resolution 1970 in February 2011 when the NATO top brass and the U.S. intelligence agencies knew of the plot against the people of Libya which was to be routed through AFRICOM.

As an African American Ward had developed very close relationships with African generals and politicians, even those who had been publicly opposing the US AFRICOM. Ward had been removed and demoted on the charge that he had spent excessive amounts of money allowing his family members to fly on government planes. Here was an officer who had been flying with his wife and family, disgraced by the army high command at the same moment while General Petraeus was exhibiting ‘poor judgment’ with Paula Broadwell. In November 2012, General William ‘Kip’ Ward was stripped of one of his four stars for misuse of military funds when he was head of the US Africa command. He was also ordered to repay $82,000.

General Carter Ham had been confirmed by the US Senate in November 2010 to become the next Commander of U.S. Africa Command but the revolutionary upsurge in Tunisia and Egypt hastened the emplacement of General Ham and he assumed the post on March 8, 2011. At that moment, the US military had been divided between those who I termed the Rocks and the Crusaders. See ‘US Military and Africom: Between the rocks and the crusaders.’ Pambazuka News, March 31, 2011 http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/72174

In that article I had argued that the new head of the US Africa Command was based on the selection by the Crusaders. The term Crusaders first appeared for a wider audience beyond the peace and social justice forces when Seymour Hersh used the term in an article in Foreign Policy Magazine. Then Seymour Hersh revealed that there was a faction of the US military known as ‘Crusaders, that had taken over the army.’ Hersh asserted that these Crusaders were bent on intensifying a war against Islam, and viewed themselves as protectors of Christianity.

According to the article, Hersh maintained that these neoconservative elements dominate the top echelons of the US military, including figures such as former commander of US forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal and Vice Admiral William McRaven. Hersh said, ‘What I’m really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over.’

In May 2009, four months after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Harper’s magazine carried a lengthy report that placed General David Petraeus at the heart of the Crusaders. The magazine carried a very detailed article on the role of the Crusaders in the military, entitled, ‘Evangelical Proselytization Still Rampant in U.S. Military.’ In this article we are alerted to the numerous fronts of the Crusaders.

The information in the magazine article discussed a book published in 2005 by Lieutenant Colonel William McCoy, titled Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel. According to the article this book outlined an ‘anti-Christian bias’ in the US, and sought to counter it by making the case for the ‘necessity of Christianity for a properly functioning military.’ McCoy’s book was endorsed by General David Petraeus, who said: ‘Under Orders should be in every rucksack for those moments when soldiers need spiritual energy.’

The war in Libya gave the Crusaders the opportunity to destroy a stable society in North Africa and unleashed 1,700 militias in the society. Not only did the Libyan invasion enable the Crusaders an opportunity to create havoc, but it placed great strains within Africa with the fallout from Libya unleashing instability all across northwest Africa.

Carter Ham had been handed the responsibility to be the commander in the US Africa Command after Gen. Stanley McChrystal had been sacked. Petraeus was nurturing the media and academics to realize his ambitions and we now know that the arrogance and haughtiness of Petraeus ensured a high tolerance for ideas of European exceptionalism and the innate superiority of US citizens of European descent.

The US Africa Command deepened the strategic concepts of General Petraeus to mobilize ‘dark’ forces to fight wars. This was based on the mobilization of financial resources and personnel outside the formal structures of the US military with the heavy use of the Central Intelligence Agency and Private Military Contractors. Nick Turse has chronicled this new direction in the planning and fighting plan of the military establishment in the book, The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare, (Haymarket Books, 2012).

Earlier this year Turse was been involved in a debate with Col Davis of AFRICOM over whether the US military presence was growing very fast in Africa. See ‘Fast-growing U.S. military presence in Africa.’ The debate with director of the U.S. Africa Command Office of Public Affairs, disputing in some detail a number of Turse’s points, illustrated just how sensitive the AFRICOM bureaucracy had become about the new forms of warfare with proxy fighters, special ops and drones. (See basic debate http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175574/

General Petraeus found the perfect space to set up an alternative military/intelligence policy-making unit when he requested that he be placed as head of the Central Intelligence Agency when he sought to flee the web of drugs and corruption in Afghanistan in 2011. According to the New York Times, Petraeus had blurred the lines between spies and soldiers in secret missions abroad.

‘The appointments of General Petraeus and Mr. Panetta were the latest evidence of a significant shift over the past decade in how the United States fights its battles — the blurring of lines between soldiers and spies in secret American missions abroad. …. General Petraeus aggressively pushed the military deeper into the C.I.A.’s turf, using Special Operations troops and private security contractors to conduct secret intelligence missions. As commander of the United States Central Command in September 2009, he also signed a classified order authorizing American Special Operations troops to collect intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and other places outside of traditional war zones.’ See http://tinyurl.com/c8olk9f

CARTER HAM FIRED OVER BENGHAZI

It was the alliance of the Crusaders that had ensnared the State Department and the US diplomatic forces in the war in Libya. Ambassador Stevens had become a cheerleader for this cooperation between Special Operations Command and private military contractors. Christopher Stevens had left his position in the embassy in Tripoli in February 2011 to coordinate this kind of warfare in Benghazi. When NATO declared victory in October 2011, Christopher Stevens was selected as ambassador to Libya and by May 2012 he was back in Libya.

However, the principal base for the Special Ops and private security intrigue was in Benghazi where the CIA was running a base for the recruitment of ‘extremists’ to fight in Syria. Stevens was caught in a battle between militias and the CIA. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith and CIA agents Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed in the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11-12. When the news was first reported, Woods and Doherty had been identified as private Security contractors in order to divert attention away from the CIA in the Benghazi battle.

Sean Smith, the information manager of the State Department, was a symbol of the geeks who had been mobilized for the new kind of military posture of the United States. After his passing there was mourning in the wired community. According to the New York Times, ‘Mr. Smith was an avid player of an online multiplayer game called Eve Online, in which hundreds of thousands of participants across the globe took on roles like pirates or diplomats in a science fiction setting.

Mr. Smith’s online name was ‘vile rat.’ His experience was indicative of how the US military had mobilized Smith’s experience in both real and virtual worlds. Coded messages were shared in this virtual world to serve the interests of the military intelligence forces that were operating outside of the policy framework of the government.

Sean Smith has been called a maven by his fellow gamers who have been mourning his passing. Drawing from the book by Malcolm Gladwell on The Tipping point, Smith was compared to those mavens or connectors who are ‘information specialists’, or ‘people we rely upon to connect us with new information.’ These mavens or connectors had become crucial for the new forms of warfare where the lines between the virtual war and real wars are blurred. Increasingly, the gamers draw extensively from real situations so that many of the video games are actual simulations of possible battle scenarios. The conservative militarists who conceive the masculinist forms of entertainment only recently brought out Call of Duty: Black Ops II that featured a computer animated David Petraeus as Secretary of Defense.

Sean Smith found out tragically that real war is not a game.

From the books of Bob Woodward we do know that former General Jack Keane (now of the Board of the Institute for the Study of War) is one of the most energetic forces aligned with the Petraeus wing of the military/intelligence establishment. The fact that Jack Keane came forward as the chief explainer for the National Public Radio (NPR), about the CIA timeline of the events in Benghazi (where Sean Smith and Christopher Stevens) died gave away the fact that Petraeus was heavily involved in the events of September 11/12 , 2012. http://m.npr.org/news/World/164207549

It was in this interview on November 2 that Jack Keane told the world of the decision of General Carter Ham to ask for the National Mission Response Force to be deployed to Benghazi. The NMRF is a classified force based on the East Coast of the United States, 24/7 on alert, the shortest alert string we have to go anyplace in the world. In this interview Keane told the US public,

‘Now, those were ground forces and there were no other forces that were available and that’s why he had to request forces from outside of AFRICOM’s command and control. General Ham also requested a similar force that is part of the European command that – this is a classified force, special operations again. They were in central Europe training. They moved them to a base, got them equipped for combat and moved them to Sigonella. And when they arrived there, they also were told that the CIA annex had been evacuated. The problem we have is AFRICOM has no assigned forces stationed in anywhere near Libya. So we had to depend – he had to depend on alerting forces to come from the continent of Europe and the continent of North America to participate in a firefight.’

This information on the deployment of forces by the Commander of AFRICOM was veiled but there is enough in the interview to grasp the fact that Carter Ham was drawn into a battle which the US Africa Command was not equipped for. When the Pentagon carried out its investigation about what happened in Benghazi, Carter Ham was relieved of his post as commander of AFRICOM. He had not served the usual three years. General Petraeus journeyed to Libya after Carter Ham was relieved of his post hoping to save his reputation and the forms of warfare and destruction that he had refined.

RISE AND FALL OF PETRAEUS: MAKING BENGHAZI AN ELECTION ISSUE

General Petraeus had been an ambitious officer from the US military who had achieved international notoriety based on how he harnessed the resources of the media to burnish his image. Petraeus was known as an ambitious officer from the time that he was at West Point when he grasped that marrying the daughter of the superintendent of the WestPoint military academy would enhance his career.

Holly Knowlton was from a historical military family in the USA whose father Gen. William A. Knowlton had been serving as head of West Point military academy when Petraeus was a cadet. Petraeus graduated in 1974 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. , and two months before his graduation, he married Holly. Petraeus fancied himself as a soldier scholar so he pursued advanced degrees at Princeton writing a doctoral dissertation on ‘The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam.’

Petraeus became adept at mobilizing academics, especially social scientists, to abet his ‘ambitions.’ It was the relationship with one such publicist that brought out the full extent of the ambitious maneuvering of General Petraeus. Inside the US military, Petraeus had been known by the traditional officers as one who would do anything to ‘advance’ his career. His close relationship with George W. Bush and the ‘success’ of the surge in Iraq now stands as part of his reputation. Petraeus was a figure of disunity within the military, especially because of his close relationship to the neoconservatives.

One retired officer posed the question in this way, ‘Was General David Petraeus the heroic figure his press releases suggested or a piece of fiction created, packaged and presented to the American people by the Bush Administration and its Neocon allies in the media and academia as the poster boy for counterinsurgency? (See Col. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR, Ret., The Petraeus Saga: Epitaph for a Four Star, http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/14/epitaph-for-a-four-star/)

The full history of General David Petraeus is now in full display but what is not widely known is how he was really a work of fiction created, packaged and promoted to the American people. Most citizens in the United States are not aware of the immense suffering imposed on the peoples of Iraq based on the ‘surge’ of General Petraeus.

Inside the military there had been great differences among the officer corps and efforts to understand the experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq led to the publication of the major study entitled Decade of War. The Joint Staff study of the post-9/11 wars had been an effort by the military to understand why the US military had been a failure caught in the quagmire of corruption and drug wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There had been no shortage of scholarly texts that had explored in great detail how the United States corrupted Afghanistan. One writer from the Washington Post was explicit when he wrote, ‘Afghan corruption, and how the U.S. facilitates it,’:

‘It is time that we as Americans – in government, in the media, and as analysts and academics – took a hard look at the causes of corruption in Afghanistan. The fact is that we are at least as much to blame for what has happened as the Afghans, and we have been grindingly slow to either admit our efforts or correct them.’ http://tinyurl.com/befw7p5

Other established military specialists such as Anthony Cordesman had written extensively on theft and waste in Afghanistan. It was left to the peace writers such as Alfred McKoy to write on ‘Can Anyone Pacify the World’s Number One Narco-State? The Opium Wars in Afghanistan.’ http://tinyurl.com/yzmuu8q

While the name of Petraeus did not explicitly surface in these reports on drugs and corruption, his high profile as the top commander in Afghanistan and as head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) brought a focus on him. As an adept manipulator of the media in the refinement of Military Information Operations, Petraeus nurtured the press and one of the clearest expression can be found in the new book, by Thomas Ricks, The Generals: American Military Command From World War II to Today. In this book, generals such as Tommy Franks were assailed in the same vein as Petraeus was venerated. Petraeus was mobilizing the same fawning relationship with Paula Broadwell. Petraeus had met Broadwell in 2006 while she was operating between US military intelligence and Harvard, but this relationship could not be deepened until after the passing of Gen. William A. Knowlton in 2008.

GENERAL PETRAEUS AND THE DISRESPECT FOR BARACK OBAMA

Petraeus had endeared himself to neocons and the Christian fundamentalists as a good example of the West Point’s Cadet Honor Code. The Honor Code reads simply that, ‘A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.’

Because of his endorsement of Lieutenant Colonel William McCoy’s Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, Petraeus was on the radar of the right. It is not by accident that of the top politicians calling Petraeus at this time was George W. Bush. Bob Woodward in his book Obama’s Wars documented facts of the disrespect exhibited from a section of the military (Crusaders) to Obama. It is important for readers to grasp the deep arrogance of Petraeus in relation to Obama.

Much of this has come out in the formulation that Petraeus attempted to ‘box in’ the president over the deployment of troops to Afghanistan. Bob Woodward has recounted for history the back and forth between Obama and Petraeus and General Stanley A. McChrystal. Stanly Mc Chrystal had engineered his exit from the corruption of Afghanistan by making explicit comments about Obama which he knew would get him out of the opium war in Afghanistan.

Barack Obama immediately appointed General Petraeus to this position as Commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus understood the stakes of the legacy of generals and it was based on his sense of history that he supported the project of Paula Broadwell to write his biography. Douglas MacGregor described the two in this way, ‘Broadwell and Petraeus were simply two people with converging agendas.’

Between the biography of Broadwell and the book of Thomas Ricks, Petraeus was of the view that his historical legacy was secure. Inside the military there had been a major debate among the officer corps on whether officers such as Petraeus should be held accountable. Lt. Col. Paul Yingling had written a widely discussed article in the Armed Forces Journal, ‘A failure in generalship.’ With the Crusaders taking over the military, officers who followed the line of Petraeus were looked upon favourably.

According to the profile of Petraeus by the New York Times, ‘Mr. Petraeus had been the most prominent American military commander over the past decade, the architect of the 2007 troop surge in Iraq. He stepped into Gen. Colin L. Powell’s shoes as the face of the military, and became a figure extolled on both sides of Washington’s partisan divide.’ The New York Times was fully aware of the divide between the Rocks and the Crusaders and how Obama had relied on Colin Powell to rally the Rocks to checkmate the Crusaders.

We now know that the Obama team was not complacent as the activities of General Petraeus were being monitored. Top operatives in the administration had kept an eye on the presidential ambitions of Petraeus and Petraeus had assured Rahm Emmanuel that he was not planning to run for president in 2012. In the supportive profile of General Petraeus provided by the New York Times we are told,

‘Ms. Broadwell became a fixture around the Kabul headquarters of the American-led coalition in Afghanistan soon after General Petraeus assumed command in June 2010. She was seen as ambitious and as a striver who aimed to join Washington’s national security elite, and she drew resentment from officers for playing up her connection to their boss.’

Six months after General Petraeus assumed command in Kabul and was mentoring his biographer the administration appointed Holly Knowlton Petraeus as an assistant director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, charged with advocating on behalf of service members and their families. History will later reveal the extent of the contacts between Michele Obama and Holly Knowlton at a moment when insiders in Washington understood fully the innuendos of Paula Broadwell when she had appeared on the Daily Show.

BENGHAZI AND LIBYA BECOME AN ELECTION ISSUE

Weeks after the battles between the competing militias in Benghazi that claimed the lives of the CIA operations and the US ambassador, sections of the US media sympathetic to the Crusaders ‘seized on a series of reports by conservative media outlets to make the incendiary charge shortly before the election that four Americans had died because of the administration’s negligence.’

General Petraeus said nothing publicly, but from the reports in the media and from his quick trip to Libya, it was manifest that there was a big project of damage limitation. Sections of the Conservative media had been so secure that the narrative of the adminstration’s negligence had taken hold that William Kristol, the conservative editor of The Weekly Standard, concluded that the agency was pointing its finger at the White House, which he suggested must have refused the requested intervention. ‘Petraeus Throws Obama Under the Bus’ was the headline on the Weekly Standard’s blog.

With the timeline of the Benghazi incident presented by the CIA, the blog of William Kristol and the spin presented to National Public Radio by Jack Keane, there was only one more event that would protect General Petraeus from being exposed completely. This was the elections on November 6, 2012.

Benghazi and Libya did not become the issue in the election in the way that the Conservatives and Crusaders had hoped. The alliance of peace and justice forces re-elected Barack Obama on November 6. Two days after the re-election Petraeus resigned.

We are told by the media that the first time the president learnt of the investigation of the relationship between Paula Broadwell and David Petraeus was on Thursday November 8 when Petraeus offered his resignation. How would Eric Cantor know the full details of the Broadwell/Petraeus saga while the President did not know? Press reports are that the Attorney General Eric Holder had been notified as far back as the summer. It defies credibility to read that Barack Obama did not know of the FBI probe of General David Petraeus,

‘White House officials said they were informed on Wednesday night that Mr. Petraeus was considering resigning because of an extramarital affair. On Thursday morning, just before a staff meeting at the White House, President Obama was told. That afternoon, Mr. Petraeus went to see him and informed him that he strongly believed he had to resign. Mr. Obama did not accept his resignation right away, but on Friday, he called Mr. Petraeus and accepted it.’

Military historians will, however, understand why the President of the United States had to sleep on the decision to accept the resignation of the most renowned general in the United States. After all, the influence of Petraeus among journalists and the Crusaders was well known. Petraeus had served as Commanding General of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC) located there. As commander of CAC, Petraeus had been responsible for oversight of the Command and General Staff College and 17 other schools, centers, and training programs as well as for developing the Army’s doctrinal manuals, training the Army’s officers, and supervising the Army’s center for the collection and dissemination of lessons learned.

‘During his time at CAC, Petraeus and Marine Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis jointly oversaw the publication of Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency, the body of which was written by an extraordinarily diverse group of military officers, academics, human rights advocates, and journalists who had been assembled by Petraeus and Mattis.’

This writer will maintain the healthy skepticism that Obama’s decision to withhold the acceptance of the resignation of Petraeus was based on the calculated step by step approach with the military that had been adopted since 2009. This writer will also withhold judgement on the recent effusive praise of Obama for Petraeus at his press conference on November 14,2012.

There were many serving Generals who were linked militarily and socially to General Petraeus and the fallout of the web of Petraeus is now becoming more known. The information that the top commander in Afghanistan, John Allen, had ‘inappropriate communication’ with Jill Kelly, with 20-30,000 pages of email has only served to entice citizens in relation to the unfolding story. What is of importance is that John Allen followed the military doctrines of Petraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even more significantly, is the fact that Allen was a supporter of the new Counterinsurgency form of destabilization that involved private military contractors.

LIBYAN WAR AND THE NEED TO DISBAND PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTORS

The Petraeus affair has served to focus on the salacious details of the extra-marital affair of General Petraeus overlooking the more fundamental question of the forms of military destruction that have been unleashed on Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya. Within the US military establishment there had been a raging debate on whether generals should be accountable to civilian leadership.

The resignation of General Petraeus, the removal of Carter Ham of Africa Command and the redeployment of Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette have now brought back the question of civilian control over the military. Despite the new book by Tom Ricks that had been crafted to save the reputation of Petraeus and the biography which was supposed to place Petraeus on the same platform as historic US generals, the new forms of unchecked warfare brought down the top officers of the COIN strategy of Petraeus and the Crusaders.

Within a democratic society, the military is supposed to provide advice to military leaders and military officers are not supposed to deploy troops to engage with militias without the authorization of the civilian leadership. The NATO intervention in Libya and the subsequent CIA base in Benghazi had been an expensive experiment in new forms of warfare that brought about destruction and the deaths of thousands. After the information on CIA detention centers during the war in Iraq there had been an outcry about CIA private prisons. There are citizens in Libya who can come forward to get out the truth about the charges of Paula Broadwell that the CIA was holding prisoners in its ‘facility’ in Libya.

US foreign policy makers had resisted the call by sections of the United Nations Security Council for a review of the NATO military operations in Libya. Through the United Nations Human Rights Council there has been a major effort by peace activists from the global south to bring private military contractors under international oversight. The Human Rights Council has established an ‘open-ended intergovernmental working group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies.’ http://tinyurl.com/cubkbwl

The United States and Britain took the lead in opposing oversight of private military contractors. Commanders of CENTCOM and AFRICOM have operated over the past five years as if they were running parallel government. The war on terror had inspired the intellectual climate on counter-terror and the rationale for the bureaucratic structure of the unified command which enabled the military to also be a source of ‘independent’ policy creation.

There was no oversight when the military budget placed unlimited resources under the control of military commanders. Why would the US AFRICOM dig wells in East Africa or hand out school books? These activities were all part of the public relations exercise to plant the idea that the US Africa Command was doing humanitarian work in Africa. The confirmation hearings for General Rodriquez will provide another opportunity to expose the CIA/Africom failure in Libya. It is well publicized by African scholars that the US Africa command has been deployed as an auxiliary force to protect US oil companies.

In this protection game, there had been some sections of the top military apparatus who ventured to state explicitly that the role of Africom was supposed to check Chinese influence in Africa. General Petraeus had aggressively pushed the military deeper into the C.I.A.’s turf, using Special Operations troops and private security contractors to conduct secret intelligence missions and for fighting. As commander of the United States Central Command Petraeus had refined the trick of fighting with one group and then turning against them later. This double-cross game was taking hold in Libya in order to set back peace and reconstruction in Libya for decades so that Libya would morph into another Somalia.

With the millions of dollars available for suborning journalists and academics and with the complicit media, the narrative about the success of AFRICOM had been widely sold within the United States. It is this attempt to control the narrative that had led to the widespread view in the United States that the NATO operation in Libya was a success. The death of Ambassador Stevens shattered this myth. The firing of Carter Ham uncovered the ways in which the CIA and sections of the military were making decisions running policy independent of the civilian leadership.

When one connects the financial dots between CIA front companies such as IN -Q-Tel, oil companies and oil producers, one can see that global capital is also a partner with the military industrial complex and the need for perpetual war on terrorism. That is the circle which must be broken by those who seek peace.

Petraeus and his supporters had been confident that the circle of war and destruction would continue for generations. With the support of the media Petraeus had been confident that the full details of the destruction in Libya and alliance with the militias could be kept out of the public domain. The full story is unfolding. The peace and justice forces must intensify the call for the disbandment of the US Africa Command. Africa needs cooperation and support for reconstruction.

Libya needs the support of the entire international community to rein in the militias and to rebuild the society. It is time for the peace movement to refocus on the real activities of Petraeus, not on the so called extramarital affair. In fact, some commentators in Europe have commented that in Europe some generals place such information on the gossip circuit to enhance their reputation. The peace and justice forces need to focus on the interconnections between the departure of Petraeus, Carter Ham and Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette.

– Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is also a Special invited Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of the forthcoming book, ‘Global NATO and the catastrophic failure in Libya’.

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MEXICO: Buckets of Tears, Moments of Joy on “Caravan of Solace”

MEXICO: Buckets of Tears, Moments of Joy on “Caravan of Solace”

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico, Jun 9 2011 (IPS) – One after another, people add their testimonies about the wave of terror Mexico is experiencing. At each stop of the Caravan for Peace and Justice with Dignity, there is an outpouring of grief from Mexicans who are inconsolable after the senseless violent deaths of their loved ones.

The Caravan for Peace on its way through Zacatecas.  Credit: Daniela Pastrana /IPS

The Caravan for Peace on its way through Zacatecas. Credit: Daniela Pastrana /IPS

“I ask God, all of you and Mr. (Javier) Sicilia, for pity’s sake to help me find my son, because I feel like I’m going to die,” says a tearful Irma Leticia Hidalgo whose son, Andrés González, disappeared Mar. 27 after being detained at a military checkpoint on the way to the northeastern city of Nuevo Laredo in the state of Tamaulipas, on the border with the United States.

“We don’t want any more clandestine mass graves, we want our disappeared relatives to appear alive,” demands Rosalinda Zapata, of the United Front for Our Disappeared in the adjacent state of Coahuila.

The stories seem like they were taken from horror fiction, but they are all too real.

“We want justice, come hell or high water, because impunity is the worst possible outcome,” says Angela Díaz, whose daughter Betsabé was murdered at her home in December 2009, while she was unloading her purchases from the supermarket.

Poet Javier Sicilia, whose son Juan Francisco was murdered Mar. 28 in the central state of Morelos, is heading a 3,000-kilometre march to Ciudad Juárez, the border town in the northern state of Chihuahua that has become Mexico’s “epicentre of grief”, with a murder rate of 236 per 100,000 population.

The “caravan of solace”, as Sicilia calls it, set out Jun. 4 from Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos, where his son and five other young people were tortured and killed.

Sicilia’s movement is proposing a social pact against the violence that has devastated the country since right-wing President Felipe Calderón launched his policy of “war” against organised crime, in which nearly 40,000 people have lost their lives since 2007.

The march, which has taken a zigzag northwards route, has become particularly moving since Monday Jun. 6, when it reached the cities most wracked by the “war”, and tabled an issue that has been relatively invisible: the question of the disappeared. In Coahuila alone, civil society organisations have documented 180 cases.

In Durango, the capital of the northwestern state of the same name, where more than 200 corpses have been found in mass graves since April, Sicilia and his companions were welcomed by hundreds of people, in spite of arriving four hours late.

Francisco Ortiz scrawled on a placard “Sicilia, my father would have marched with you but he died on Saturday,” and in tears he fell on Sicilia’s neck as he walked through the streets of the city.

Earlier, the poet was intercepted by a six-year-old boy, whose father, Fernando Rodríguez, a 31-year-old miner, was shot to death Mar. 20 and his body found wrapped in a blanket.

“Since his daddy was murdered, Paquito has become fearful, moody and temperamental. He says he is going to kill those who killed his father,” Cirila Flores de los Santos told IPS. “I have not reported the killing, the Attorney General’s office told me not to do so, and I held back because of the boy. But I decided to come forward now, so that we might have some protection, and I want to know, at least, what happened, and why?”

Streams of tears flow from participants on the caravan, joined by IPS. Sicilia, the poet who has become the voice of the bereaved in the Mexican “war”, embraces, consoles and weeps with them. And tears are also shed by all those who listen, even the journalists and photographers. No one escapes the collective grieving process.

“Javier Sicilia is brave enough to shed tears in public over things other people don’t even want to look at,” says Julián Lebaron from Chihuahua, who has become the heart and soul of the caravan.

Lebaron holds up a mirror to Mexican society. In Durango he said: “In every town we see photographs of people who have been killed and disappeared, and we hear of “narco-graves” (mass graves) and we all ask, Where is the government? Where is justice? Where is God?

“But we also have to ask, Where do we stand in this situation? When will we take action, or are we going to wait until our relatives, or perhaps we ourselves, appear in photographs on these placards?”

In Monterrey, the capital of the state of Nuevo León, he said that Mexicans “have not the slightest notion or understanding of community, and we are incapable of seeing others as human beings.

“That’s why there aren’t 100 million people linking arms here to repudiate 40,000 deaths,” he said. “Where are the rest? At work? At school? Watching TV? Lazing about? Whoever is not here, it is because there is something that matters to them more than life, it’s as simple as that,” he said to applause and cheers.

In Chihuahua, the capital of the state of the same name, the caravan moves on amid paradoxes, as parents denounce the police for forcibly disappearing, torturing and killing their children, and wives or mothers of police officers complain of the disappearance of their sons and husbands.

For instance, Gloria Aguilera came forward to report the disappearance in September 2008 of her husband and two sons, who were traffic police in Monterrey. In her moving account, she complained of the incompetence and indolence of the authorities, and of the lack of solidarity in society, which criminalises the victims.

“It’s been a hard road, full of frustration. They have names and faces, and a mother who is looking for them,” she said in distress.

Businessman Otilio Cantú, whose son Jorge Otilio was killed by the military, condemned a statement by President Calderón, who promised the only “shots” tourists from the United States would receive in Mexico would be of tequila.

“What about Mexicans, Mr. President, how many ‘shots’ must we receive? What will you say to Jorge Otilio’s grieving mother, his father, brothers and sisters, and his wife of only 15 days? On Apr. 18 not only was an innocent young man murdered, but his family, who believe in Mexico and want to continue to believe in its institutions, was destroyed,” he said.

The war among Mexicans continues without quarter, even for the Caravan for Peace and Justice.

On Tuesday, 13 young people were murdered in a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts in Toreón, two blocks away from the caravan route. Wednesday was worse: 21 bodies appeared in different parts of the city of Morelia, capital of the west-central state of Michoacán.

Moreover, five mass graves were discovered in the port of Acapulco, a federal police commander was murdered in Durango, and two men were found hanged from a bridge in Nuevo León.

On the march, however, spirits are high, with hugs of solidarity and outbursts of joy which intensify along the way to the capital of Chihuahua, the state where one-third of the killings during the Calderón administration have occurred.

In the capital, Sicilia and the marchers were welcomed with music and an improvised rally at midnight on Wednesday, concluding with a unanimous cry of “We are not alone!”

Citizens’ Tribunal Brings Charges Against Mexican President

“’Calderón’s complicity in this bloody and warlike ruse to control Mexico’s resources is the payment he had to make to govern a vulnerable and occupied country,’ Vigueras told IPS, alluding to the war against drugs launched by the president shortly after taking office in December 2006.” 

Citizens’ Tribunal Brings Charges Against Mexican President

MEXICO CITY, Nov 15 2012 (IPS) – Conservative outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderón is to face a ballot again – not to compete for public office but to receive the verdict of a citizens’ trial that is accusing him of violating the constitution.

The citizens’ tribunal, set up by a platform of Mexicans discontented with the Calderón administration, which has less than a month to go, has collected individual and collective complaints and is preparing a list of charges to put to the popular vote from next Sunday Nov. 18.

The list is made up of 11 headings, such as violation of individual rights, establishment and promotion of a state ofgeneralised violence, job elimination and reduction of workers’ rights, impoverishment and lack of attention to social problems, as well as permissiveness towards and fostering of corruption.

Since Oct. 18, when it was launched, the movement has received 78 complaints, 27 of them from Mexico City, nine from the neighbouring state of Mexico and eight from the southeastern state of Veracruz – the last two afflicted by escalating violence involving drug cartels fighting to supply the lucrative U.S. market.

“Calderón’s complicity in this bloody and warlike ruse to control Mexico’s resources is the payment he had to make to govern a vulnerable and occupied country,” Vigueras told IPS, alluding to the war against drugs launched by the president shortly after taking office in December 2006.

The campaign has left over 90,000 dead, at least 14,000 disappearedand some 250,000 people displaced from their homes, according to human rights organisations, journalists’ estimates and the offices of state attorney generals.

These appalling statistics, blamed by the government on the cartels, are the main basis of people’s discontent with Calderón, who will hand over the presidency on Dec. 1 to Enrique Peña of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000.

A total of 309 people have signed up on the tribunal’s web page to take part in the jury.

The tribunal argues that “there are known and sufficient reasons to doubt the fulfilment of the oath sworn by Mr. Calderón on Dec. 1, 2006,” referring to his promise to respect and enforce the constitution.

The charges, presented under any of the 11 categories, will form the basis of a legal action to be put to the popular vote.

Citizens will be able to register their vote individually on the web page, or collectively at polling stations set up in public squares on Sunday Nov. 18, or at neighbourhood, family, workplace, sporting or cultural meetings held to attract voters.

Spanish teacher David Porcayo filed a complaint.

“Now I’m just another unemployed person, thanks to Calderón, who has performed poorly as president and has not worked for the good of the country, as the law demands,” Porcayo, a bilingual teacher with a master’s degree in literature from the University of Georgia in the U.S., told IPS.

In Temixco, 95 kilometres south of Mexico City, Porcayo has a school to teach Spanish to foreign visitors since 2006, and runs a tour company with his brothers.

“But because of the ‘war on drugs’ and the violence it unleashed, university students from the United States have stopped coming. The universities no longer allow their students and professors to take my courses in Spanish, literature and history because of the violence and insecurity that is rife in our state (Morelos),” he said.

“Due to the impunity that prevails in Mexico, we know it will be very difficult to bring criminal charges against Calderón and those who are really responsible, beginning with our neighbours and their globalised barons,” said Vigueras, co-author of the book “Mexico: País de las maravillas” (Mexican Wonderland).

Calderón has already faced international charges. In November 2011 a group of activists presented a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate the Mexican president and his ministers of public security, Genaro García, and national defence, Guillermo Galván, as well as the head of the navy, Mariano Saynez, to determine their degree of responsibility for the violence that is devastating the country.

The petition also includes Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa cartel, the most powerful drug trafficking organisation in Mexico.

The plaintiffs argue that the ICC should investigate rights violations committed by soldiers, including killings of civilians in military detention, forced disappearances and torture, as well as attacks by drug traffickers on hospitals and rehabilitation centres, and mass murders of migrants.

“We know he is not the first president to have behaved in this way, but we are determined to establish, de facto, the right and the obligation provided in the constitution to sue the president when, as a society, we think the commitment he made has not been properly fulfilled,” the Citizen’s Tribunal says.

Calderón is reaching the end of his six-year term with a 49 percent approval rating, lower than that of his predecessors, according to a poll whose results were released Monday Nov. 12 by the BGC consultancy and the newspaper Excelsior.

Mexico’s Knights Templar Gang Bids Farewell to President Calderon

Knights Templar ‘narcomanta’ addressed to President Calderon

Mexico’s Knights Templar Gang Bids Farewell to President Calderon

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A series of banners  reportedly left by the Knights Templar gang in three Mexican states wish outgoing president Felipe Calderon well for the future, continuing the group’s penchant for public relations.

On the morning of November 14, banners, or “narcomantas,” signed by the Knights Templar gang were discovered throughout the states of Guerrero, Michoacan and Guanajuato, reported Reforma (via El Diario). All of the narcomantas were addressed to the outgoing president, Felipe Calderon, who is set to leave office on December 1.

Following is InSight Crime’s partial translation of the message:

“Message to Mr President Felipe Calderon … we have never agreed with the way in which you treated us. Your intentions may have been good, but not your actions.

However, with all the human pain that you caused us … we want to say that we learned a lot and recognize that we, as a rebel body, have also caused the Federal Police (PFP) injuries, well deserved ones. We … wanted respect, but you would turn to look at  us. It would have been nice for Michoacan if you with … the power that you had, had treated your people with love and true justice.

We apologize for everything, and as we are not going to see you governing in December, we wish for you, your family and your cabinet, in the words of Vicente Fernandez [an iconic Mexican singer], “that everything goes well.” Sincerely, the Knights Templar.”

InSight Crime Analysis

The Knights Templar, a splinter group of the Familia Michoacana who first announced their arrival on Mexico’s criminal scene in March 2011, have been intent on casting themselves as protectors of the people who follow a strict ethical code, despite their involvement in criminal activities such as murder and drug trafficking. This quasi-moralism was espoused in an August video address by the group’s leader Servando Gomez Martinez, alias “La Tuta,” whereby he stressed that the sole purpose of the gang was to “help the people … and keep our country free of people causing terror.”

These most recent messages conform to this public relations drive and also display the group’s willingness to show a degree of respectfulness toward the government, in spite of what the gang perceives to be its failings. La Tuta, for example, expressed his thanks to Mexico’s armed forces in his video.

Curiously, the message to Calderon strikes a very mixed tone. Though it condemns his inability to provide the people with justice, it somewhat surprisingly offers an apology, though it is unclear exactly what for. In light of this, it is likely that the gang believes that with these tactics it can eschew the spotlight of the state’s offensive against organized crime and garner favor with the people it claims to help.

Indeed, the Knights Templar appear to have achieved the latter to some extent. A recent Associated Press report highlighted how the gang funds community and public works in areas of Michoacan, having largely supplanted the state as an authority in certain parts. This has enabled them also to overtake the Familia as the principal criminal group in Michoacan.

Despite their efforts to try and gain the government’s favor, however, Michoacan has been the site of numerous security surges against the gang this year, more recently in August when 15,000 federal troops were sent to seven states, including Michoacan. Given the group’s focus on public relations, it seems likely they will take a similar approach when the new administration of Enrique Peña Nieto arrives next month.

Hizb ut-Tahrir Terrorists charged: Attack on Moscow railroad foiled

[Tajik religious authority Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda has explained that Hizb ut-Tahrir isWestern-sponsored and that it wants to ‘remak[e] Central Asia.”  Moscow is slowly winding-up this Western-sponsored terrorist organization, which has been tasked with remaking a “Greater Central Asia” in the same way that “AQI, AQAP, AQIM,” or ‘Al-Qaeda in the Levant ” (Al-Qaeda In Iraq, Arabian Peninsula, the Magreb, or Lebanon) have provided the “juice” to destabilize the Middle East and North Africa in George Bush’s “Greater Middle East” plan.  The Kremlin could expose the American hand in all of this for the world to see, but the world does not want to see that the “great American hope” is behind all international terrorism.  Everyone would prefer to continue our sleepwalk into the “dustbin of history.’]

Terrorists charged: Attack on Moscow railroad foiled

Detained activists of the banned terrorist organization

Detained activists of the banned terrorist organization

Nine nationals of Russia and Tajikistan have officially been charged with organization of activities for the banned terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, or Islamic Party of Liberation, says the Russia’s Internal Ministry.

The terrorist group activists are also accused of illegal possession of explosives, explosive devices and ammunition.

Five of the suspects are leaders of the Russian and Moscow branches of the organization, which was labeled terrorist by the Supreme Court in 2003 and prohibited throughout the country.

Earlier this week, 18 activists of the group were arrested for allegedly recruiting volunteers in Moscow’s mosques and distributing extremist literature. During a search in the suspects’ apartments, police found guns, 10 grenades, and guides to recruiting people and promoting radical Islam. In addition, the law enforcers seized what was believed to be incomplete counterfeit notes for $1 million and 2 million euro.

Russian law enforcers found traces of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Russia back in early 2010, the Internal Ministry’s press service told Interfax. It was discovered that the group’s members were recruiting youths from Russia’s North Caucasus region and Central Asia. The activists were also issuing printing materials urging an overflow of the constitutional power in Russia and the creation of Islamic state caliphate in the country’s European part.

Investigators discovered that that the organization was also preparing a terrorist attack on a Moscow railroad. Terrorists planned to blow up a passenger train on November 4, 2010 – when Russia celebrates the Unity Day.The attack, thwarted by the law enforcers, was meant to become an intimidation action, the ministry’s press service pointed out.

Five organizers of the plotted terrorist act were arrested and sentenced by court to jail term.

Russia’s Council of Muftis has praised the law enforcers’ efforts in providing security in the country. Muslim organizations, clerics and employees of mosques in Moscow are doing their best “to prevent any illegal actions, particularly those aimed at undermining stability and safety,” the council said in a statement on Friday, as cited by Itar-Tass.