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American Resistance To Empire

What Was The True Mission In Iraq, To Create Chaos Or To Contain It?

Accusations Emerge That the U.S. Is Aiding ISIS – The Latest “Conspiracy Theory” Circulating in Iraq

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My belief is, we will, in fact be greeted as liberators.

– Dick Cheney on NBC’s Meet the Press, March 16, 2003

But that enmity for the United States circulates beyond the militias that once fought U.S. soldiers, surfacing also in parliamentary debates and Iraqi media reports and even at the highest ranks of the national armed forces that the United States is aiding.

“Everybody knows that the Americans are dropping supplies to Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Abed al-Maliki, a senior Iraqi army commander based in the city of Samarra, about 80 miles north of Baghdad, using another term for the Islamic State.

What’s more, he said, during some of the fiercest fighting around Samarra last year, U.S. Special Operations forces dropped behind enemy lines to assist Islamic State militants.

“They came in with parachutes, and they were helping to bomb the city,” he said.

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State, he contended, are probably just a cover for efforts to support the group.

“It’s just a show,” he said, sitting in the city’s army command headquarters. “If the Americans want to finish something, they will finish it. If they wanted to liberate Iraq, they could.”

– From the Washington Post article, In Fight for Tikrit, U.S. Finds Enemies on Both Sides of the Battle Lines, March 27, 2015

How do you know your foreign policy is a complete and total destructive nightmare? When the country you supposedly “liberated” not only turns into a horrific war zone, but all sides fighting accuse you of helping the enemy. This seems to be precisely what is happening in Iraq at the moment.

Just last week, I was shocked to read in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. military was preparing to coordinate action against ISIS in Tikrit, alongside Iranian backed militias. I highlighted this in the post, Can’t Make This Up – U.S. Providing Aid in Fight Against ISIS in Iraq Alongside Iranian Troops. Here’s the key excerpt:

The U.S. has started providing Iraq with aerial intelligence in the stalled battle to oust Islamic State from Tikrit, drawing the American military into closer coordination with Iranian-backed militias spearheading the offensive. 

Military officials said they aren’t working directly with Iran. But the intelligence will be used to help some 20,000 Iranian-backed Shiite militia fighters who make up the bulk of the force that has been struggling for weeks to retake the strategic city.

Incredibly, only a few days later, we learn from the Washington Post that one of the most popular “conspiracy theories” circulating in Iraq at the moment is that the U.S. is directly supplying and aiding ISIS in Iraq. Significantly, these accusations aren’t just emerging from random corners of the internet, but from senior military figures within the Iraqi army. Can’t make this up indeed.

From the Washington Post:

 As American forces open another front of battle in Iraq, they find themselves on the same side as an array of armed groups that not only consider the United States an enemy but also accuse it of actively supporting Islamic State militants.

Since the U.S.-led coalition planes launched their first airstrikes in the Islamic State-held city of Tikrit on Wednesday night, threats and accusations from ­Shiite militias who were leading the battle there have grown. Several of the Iranian-backed groups accused coalition aircraft of bombing a headquarters for pro-government fighters in the city on Friday, promising retribution.

The claim was the latest in a long string of accusations leveled at the United States since its first airstrikes against the Islamic State in August. Rumors of coalition planes dropping weapons supplies to Islamic State militants and attacking pro-government fighters are now widely held beliefs in a country where conspiracy theories are rife.

But that enmity for the United States circulates beyond the militias that once fought U.S. soldiers, surfacing also in parliamentary debates and Iraqi media reports and even at the highest ranks of the national armed forces that the United States is aiding.

“Everybody knows that the Americans are dropping supplies to Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Abed al-Maliki, a senior Iraqi army commander based in the city of Samarra, about 80 miles north of Baghdad, using another term for the Islamic State. 

What’s more, he said, during some of the fiercest fighting around Samarra last year, U.S. Special Operations forces dropped behind enemy lines to assist Islamic State militants.

“They came in with parachutes, and they were helping to bomb the city,” he said.

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State, he contended, are probably just a cover for efforts to support the group.

“It’s just a show,” he said, sitting in the city’s army command headquarters. “If the Americans want to finish something, they will finish it. If they wanted to liberate Iraq, they could.”

When such accusations appear in the Iraqi media, they are normally accompanied by an image from an Islamic State video from Kobane in Syria last year, showing the militants displaying a load of weapons accidently dropped from a U.S. plane — an incident the United States acknowledged.

Whoops, sorry, our mistake! At this point, who doesn’t have access to hundreds of millions of U.S. weaponry?

Visiting U.S. officials are left to fend off questions about whether they support the group. The topic was the first to be broached in questions when Gen. John Allen, special envoy for the coalition to counter the Islamic State, met with Iraqi journalists in January.

The theories are stoked by U.S. involvement in the wider region, where Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia are battling for influence against Shiite Iran. While the United States has backed the same side as Saudi Arabia in conflicts in Syria and Yemen, in Iraq it finds itself on the other side of the battle.

A wildly popular trailer for an Iraqi TV program launched last year that mocked the Islamic State played off that speculation. It showed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hatching out of an egg after a marriage between characters representing Israel and America.

If this is how Iraqis greet their liberators, I don’t want to be invited to the party they throw for enemies.

Seriously though, it doesn’t even matter if these accusations are true or not. What matter is that Iraq is a total disaster zone, and everyone suffering from the chaos knows full well the U.S. government is responsible. Over the past decade, the clowns running American foreign policy have gone from promising the world that the Iraqis would greet U.S. soldiers as liberators, to all sides accusing the USA of aiding the enemy; whether that enemy be the Iraqi army, Iranian backed militias, or ISIS.

This is not a recipe for success. Unless of course, success is determined by the ability to create as much chaos and death overseas as possible via a divide and conquer strategy in which all combatants attempt to slay each other using weapons purchased from American defense companies. In that case, the Iraq war can be defined as a resounding success.

America’s Complicated Pro-Wahhabi, Iran Friendly, Mideast Policy

Layout 1A look at America’s complicated collage of a Mideast policy

new zealand herald

 

WASHINGTON (AP) ” The United States’ engagement in the volatile and unpredictable Middle East got more complicated this week, as American and Iranian negotiators sought a historic nuclear agreement while the U.S. provided intelligence for a Saudi-led air campaign against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

The two efforts, diplomatic and military, underscore the sometimes conflicting and oftentimes country-by-country alliances that are guiding U.S. policy in the region. The collage is largely framed by America’s difficult relationship with Iran.

Despite severing diplomatic ties 36 years ago, the adversaries recently have found some means of direct and indirect cooperation. Beyond the nuclear talks, they are both helping Iraq’s government fight Islamic State extremists.

At the same time Washington and Tehran are locked in a proxy war in Syria, where the U.S. is arming insurgents battling the Iran-backed government. A reverse conflict could be emerging in Yemen, where Washington is assisting the military intervention by Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia against Iran-supported Shiite rebels.

A look at several crises in the Middle East and how the Obama administration is approaching matters:
NUCLEAR TALKS:

President Barack Obama’s biggest national security goal is reaching a diplomatic agreement that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But achieving such a goal through negotiation, and not through military or economic pressure, means it requires cooperation from the Islamic Republic.

Secretary of State John Kerry is leading the U.S. in talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, hoping to reach an outline of a deal over the next several days that would curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

But Obama has said a deal could lead to a “better path” that includes greater trade ties, foreign investment, cultural exchange, scientific partnerships and jobs for young Iranians. The prospect of a nuclear accord and even the tiniest steps toward U.S.-Iranian rapprochement are prompting deep concern and even opposition among America’s traditional allies in the neighborhood.

Israel has lobbied aggressively against the deal in the United States, claiming it would pave the way for an Iranian nuclear arsenal. Saudi Arabia has threatened to explore greater nuclear technology of its own. Other Sunni governments want greater U.S. commitment to their defense. And all have spoken gravely of the implications of what they see as Washington cozying up to Tehran.

Hoping to ease their concerns, the U.S. has emphasized repeatedly it isn’t shifting alliances.

IRAQ:

In Iraq, the U.S. and Iran actively support a common ally.

American airstrikes started this week to help Iraqi troops retake the northern city of Tikrit from Islamic State extremists. Until recently, the Iraqis there were fighting side-by-side with Shiite militias and Iranian special forces. But they withdrew as a condition of the U.S. air intervention, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin told a congressional panel Thursday.

Although the Americans and Iranians share the common goal of defeating Islamic State extremists, they differ on tactics. Washington has cited reports of human rights abuses by Iranian-backed militias and criticized the Iranian-led operation in Tikrit for lacking precision firepower, proper command from the Iraqi government and a coherent plan for maneuvering ground forces against a dug-in enemy.

Both sides deny that they are actively coordinating military strategy, though U.S. officials have spoken of working with the Iraqis as a go-between to “deconflict” operations. The dynamic has unsettled Sunni Arab states likes Saudi Arabia.

___

SYRIA:

In Syria, the U.S. and Iran are on a clearer collision course. While each again speaks of combating the Islamic State group, they clash on their views of the Syrian government and the country’s four-year rebellion.

The U.S. is arming and training a primarily Sunni force described as moderate, working with Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan. The rebels have the double objective of defeating the terrorists and ousting President Bashar Assad from power.

On the other side, the Iranians are providing military assistance to Assad’s army and Hezbollah forces fighting the rebellion, and have deployed special forces of their own to help out.

___

YEMEN:

The picture is similarly complicated in Yemen.

The U.S. is providing intelligence and logistical help for the Saudi-led airstrikes against the Houthi rebels who’ve seized the capital and much of the country, driving out the president. The Saudis and their Arab partners may now be planning a ground invasion.

But the Iranians are unhappy, and the threat of another wider war is clear. Despite the U.S’s auxiliary role, Tehran is blaming Washington for the attacks. And it is calling the intervention a “dangerous step” that will fuel terrorism. The Iranians only acknowledge giving the Houthi rebels humanitarian support, not the advanced weaponry that the Saudis and others claim is being provided.

The U.S. is in an uncomfortable position, tied by its alliances to Sunni Arab states and conviction that Yemen’s rightful government should be restored. But it doesn’t want a protracted war that draws Iran in deeper, takes attention away from Yemen’s highly active al-Qaida branch and other threats to the United States, or becomes a factor in U.S.-Iranian nuclear discussions.

Although Kerry “commended” Saudi Arabia’s action in a telephone call with Arab foreign ministers Thursday, he then discussed the situation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the nuclear talks. Details of that conversation were kept private.

US Policy Is Driving Force Behind the Call To Jihad

[A very strong case is made that it is US foreign policy which fuels Islamist anger and drives the call to “jihad.”  American policy has been humiliating to every Muslim since 2001, in particular, the policies of torture, secret renditions and drone assassinations, all of which have been designed to destroy the collective psyche of all Muslim males.  

Murder by drone and rendition have demonstrated to every Muslim family that none of them are safe in their beds, or in their homes anymore.  What more reason would a sensible young man need than this, to drive him to take-up arms against the American aggressors?   Yemen hosted a US drone/counter-insurgency base, allegedly used to “hunt al-Qaeda,” which was probably the driving force in Yemen’s destabilization.  The more the US and the Saudis bombed Yemen, the greater grew the unrest of all sectarian derivations. 

The ease of recruitment for ISIS (and the Middle Eastern radicals in general) is a pretty direct measure of the effectiveness of US psychological warfare.  The more we humiliate Muslims, the more jihadis answer the call to battle. 

But, I would argue that that has been the objective of the entire war on terror since its inception…find those who would be jihadis and kill them all.  It doesn’t matter to the Pentagon/CIA that they are feeding the cycle that they have been fighting to stop?  Instead of trying to kill the Muslim world to get all the survivors to “LIKE” us, we should try to disengage long enough for the Arabs to fight among themselves and settle their tribal/religious feuds which we had no right to interfere with, at all.]

Smith College religion professor, historian says US should stay out of Middle East battles

MASS live

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By Diane Lederman | dlederman@repub.com

 

Smith College religion professor Suleiman A. Mourad believes the United States should not be involved in the Middle East. (Diane Lederman/The Republican)

 

NORTHAMPTON – This week, Saudi Arabia took on rebels in Yemen, the latest action in the escalating conflict in the Middle East. It’s a confusing muddle of alliances.

As the New York Times reports the United States is supporting the Saudi campaign to dislodge Iranian-backed Houthi rebels but in Iraq and Syria, the United States is on the same side as Iran in the fight against the Islamic State.

And while some Congress debate whether to send in ground troops, Smith College religion professor Suleiman A. Mourad believes the United States should not be involved.

In fact anger against the United States is fueling the antagonism and serves as a recruiting tool for Isis and other extremists.

Mourad, who also studies jihad, explained some of the roots of the conflict and the reasons he believes that it needs to play out there without United States intervention.

He doesn’t think the warring parties are ready or able to talk to each other nor does he see any diplomat in the United States able to bring the parties to the table.

In fact, he said the United States is hated abroad. A native of Lebanon he returned recently and said the level of animosity between Sunnis and Shia towards the United States was extreme.

Middle Eastern leaders don’t trust or respect the United States.

The wars between Sunnis and the Shia – different sects within the Muslim community with different customs – have both modern and historical roots.
According to the BBC, most of the Muslims are Sunnis – estimates suggest the figure is somewhere between 85 to 90 percent.

Historically, Sunnis consider themselves as the orthodox or traditional form of Islam where the Shia the political faction, according to the BBC.

“There are historical grievances historical reasons that speak to the current grievances,” Mourad said, much in the way slavery here is linked to issue of race in America.

He said at the same time, some Shia are aligned with some Sunnis and vice versa. Also he said Shias in Yemen are different than the Shias of Iran. “They don’t have a common history. There’s much animosity.”

Each political leader has his own agenda and uses the rebel groups to support that just as long they don’t topple their own regime. “Every dictator has interests.”

While the Middle East was under the control of such leaders as Saddam Hussein, the militant factions were squelched but as those leaders were toppled the militant groups were able to emerge.
And what makes the modern conflict unprecedented is how widespread the uprisings are. The battle “across the Muslim world is unprecedented.”

He said the modern day Sunni militant movements began in the 1960s-1970s with the ideas of Sayyid Qutb of Egypt and Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan being put into practice.

They believed that Muslims rulers “were in the pockets of the West.:” And he said those militant ideologues were in “pursuit of a great Islam” and urged Muslims to jihad and unity.

Later there was a split where one group wanted a less militant approach and instead advocated for activism. The idea was “to just do activism to take control of the Sunnis. Teach ideas to ultimately unify Islam.”

But with such things as the overthrow of the Shah in Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini becoming the supreme leader and the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, these militants groups realized they had power and could demonstrate that militarism could achieve their goals.

Isis too feels like it has power with the attention it garners with the beheadings of Americans or its connection to attacks in France at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine in January.

“(In their minds) It puts them on equal footing with the west,” Mourad said. And if “we are equal to the West, we can defeat the West.”

Each regime, meanwhile, in the Middle East has its own agenda but leaders are not able or willing right now to talk about what that is and how to meet their needs. Some take advantage of groups like Isis to push for their respective interests and agendas.

So the wars have to play out until they are willing to talk. Meanwhile he said, “We have no business being (there.)”

He said the Iranians during the overthrow of the Shah said, “America is Satan” and wanted to destroy the country. That hatred has only worsened as the United States has gotten more involved in the battles of the countries in the Middle East.

Doing To The Entire Islamic World What We Have Done To Iraq

Instability in the Islamic world

The Hindu

G PARTHASARATHY

Three major developments require careful attention. These are the emergence of the ISIS, the growing Persian-Arab and sectarian Shia-Sunni tensions, and the possibility of a negotiated end to the Iranian nuclear impasse. All this is occurring amidst the fall in global oil and gas prices, which is imposing a strain on the economies of countries in the Persian Gulf.

American subversion

The entire polity of what is known as the ‘Greater Middle East’ (extending from Pakistan to Turkey) has been destabilised by American-led subversion and invasions in Iraq, Syria and Libya, to oust secular but authoritarian governments, without having viable alternatives in sight. In Syria, American-supported destabilisation efforts have led to millions fleeing their homes and the emergence of diverse groups embroiled in a seemingly neverending civil war. The invasion of Iraq has led to Shia-Sunni bloodletting that has spread across the entire region. Libya has been fragmented by similar intervention and has emerged as another centre of Shia-Sunni conflict. More importantly, the intervention in Syria has led to the emergence of the Islamic State of Levant (ISIS). It now controls large parts of Syria and northern Iraq and has made inroads in Libya while establishing links with religious extremists in Nigeria, Somalia and elsewhere.

The world has seldom, if ever, seen a group as fanatical, revivalist and ruthless as the ISIS, which has drawn thousands of armed cadres, not just from Arab and Islamic countries but from across Europe and America. Its practices include arbitrary killing of non-Muslims and Shias. It forcibly takes non-Muslim women as slaves, extorts payment of jiziya tax by non-Muslims, and practises beheading and crucifixion. The only other recent case of similar behaviour was by the Afghan Taliban which persecuted Shias and required Hindus to display their identity by sporting yellow scarves/armbands.

Another barbaric trait the two share is the destruction of ancient shrines, artefacts, statues and art. If the Taliban vandalised and dynamited the historic Bamiyan Buddha statues, the ISIS destroyed or sold the priceless ancient treasures of Nimrud, Tikrit and Mosul.

The Sunni Arab alliance

The escalating tensions in the Greater Middle East have resulted in a Sunni Arab Alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, facing off a Shia, Iranian-led grouping, including Iraq and Syria. We also have the strange situation of Iran and the US making common cause, to assist Iraqi security forces to drive out the ISIS from the Sunni majority Tikrit, Mosul and across the Anbar province. The US provides the air power, while the Iranian Revolutionary Guards train, arm, equip and fight alongside the Iraqi Shia militia.

Yet another strange meeting of minds is that of Israel and the Sunni Arab leadership from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. While the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US congress in Washington to voice his opposition to an agreement being negotiated between the US, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany, on the one hand, and Iran on the other, to end sanctions against Iran, the Sunni Arab countries launched a diplomatic offensive to get the US to scuttle the proposed deal.

Quite obviously chary of an Iranian ‘Shia bomb’, Saudi Arabia and its Arab Gulf partners held discussions with the US Secretary of State John Kerry on March 4 and voiced their reservations about a prospective US-led Iranian nuclear deal. The Saudis simultaneously fear not only an American-Iranian rapprochement, but also the prospects of the growing ISIS presence along their borders and in the Arab world. They know that the US is no longer dependent on them for oil supplies. The Americans, in fact, now have oil and gas reserves to meet current levels of demand for 85 years. Saudi Arabian oil is no longer vital for meeting the US’ energy needs.

It is in these circumstances that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was received at Riyadh airport on March 3 by King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince Mukri and the entire Saudi cabinet. This was a rare honour for a head of government, especially from a bankrupt country that has survived on Saudi and American doles for decades. Interestingly, barely a month earlier, the chairman of Pakistan’s joint chiefs of staff committee Gen Rashad Mahmoud, the seniormost military officer in Pakistan’s Nuclear Command Authority which has operational command and control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, visited Saudi Arabia.

Old ties

Pak-Saudi nuclear links go back to the 1990s when AQ Khan paid visits to Saudi Arabia, following a visit to the Kahuta nuclear and missile facilities by the Saudi defence minister, Prince Salman. Interestingly, Pakistan tested, for the first time, a nuclear capable missile, Shaheen 3, with a range of 2,750 km, capable of striking targets beyond India, just after Sharif’s visit to Riyadh. This missile could be an asset to target Iran from Saudi Arabia. The already complicated situation in the Greater Middle East could become more tense if Pakistan agrees to send troops to guard Saudi Arabia’s frontiers, or provides the desert kingdom a ‘Sunni nuclear shield’ to counter Iran. Given the tensions on its borders with India, Afghanistan and Iran, it remains to be seen how Pakistan responds to Saudi requests for military assistance, conventional and nuclear.

New Delhi has just gone through a significant effort in building viable security architecture with neighbouring Indian Ocean island-states. There is now need for careful consideration of the impact of recent developments across the Islamic world on India’s security, and the welfare of its nationals in the Arab Gulf states.

The author is a former High Commissioner to Pakistan

Qatari Emir Warns Arab Coalition To Stay Away From Africa–Bombing Yemen Is OK

Qatari emir rejects military solution in Libya

ahram online

Speaking at the Arab League summit, Qatar’s emir backs military offensive against Yemen but warns against intervention in Libya

Hana Afifi

Qatar

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, right, attends a meeting of Arab heads of state, in Sharm el Sheik, South Sinai, Egypt, Saturday, March 28, 2015 (Photo: AP)

Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani told the Arab League summit on Saturday that his country believes “there is no military solution” in war-torn Libya.

Tamim called for a political solution to the Libyan crisis through the participation of all political forces.

Libya is currently divided between an internationally recognised government in the east and Islamist-oriented rebels that control the capital Tripoli and other parts of the country.

Addressing the ongoing crisis in Yemen, where a Saudi-led military offensive has been targeting Houthi rebel sites with airstrikes since Thursday, the emir called for respect for the country’s legitimate regime.

He called on the rebel militias to stand down in order to allow for the completion of a political solution that would gurantee security and stability for the Yemeni population.

He said that Qatar is ready to offer any needed support to achieve these ends.

The emir said that both the Houthi rebels, who are Shia Muslims, and Houthi ally and former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, violated the process of the search for a political solution and the legitimacy of the regime of President Hadi.

This led, according to the emir, to to the rise of phenomenon that had not been present before in Yemen: “sectarian politics.”

The Qatari head of state stressed the importance of good relations with neighbour Iran, which some critics accuse of arming the Houthi rebels.

Tamim said Iran is part of the Islamic umma, calling on Tehran to respect neighbouring countries’ sovereignty.

“The multiplicity of sects and doctrines is part of our Arab identity, and should not be used as a reason for intervention in our internal affairs,” he said.

No room for Assad in Syria resolution

The Qatari leader also expressed his opposition to allowing the regime of Bashar Al-Assad to be part of the political solution to the Syrian crisis.

“A political solution means that the people make their own choices,” he stated.

He said the Syrian regime had wreaked havoc in the embattled country, accusing it of carrying out “the most brutal forms of savage killings.”

“When will we move, us Arabs, to end this tragedy?” he said.

The Syrian conflict has claimed at least 215,000 lives and displaced half of the country’s population since 2011.

The Qatari emir also said that the Palestinian issue is at the forefront of the challenges in the region.

“Reaching a fair and comprehensive settlement” is a must for peace and security, he said, calling for the implementation of the two-state solution.

“Israel is continuing its aggression against the Palestinian people,” said the emir.

He called on the UN Security Council to “carry out its ethical and legal responsibility to end the Israeli occupation.

He also called on Arab countries and the international community to pressure Israel to achieve that goal.

The Qatari ruler also said that solidarity with Iraq is an Arab responsibility , calling for a comprehensive political solution to resolve the region’s sectarian troubles.

How the CIA made Google

How the CIA made Google

Inside the secret network behind mass surveillance, endless war, and Skynet— part 1

Medium .net Medium News

By Nafeez Ahmed

INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, breaks the exclusive story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. Seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, Google was merely the first among a plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority.’

The origins of this ingenious strategy trace back to a secret Pentagon-sponsored group, that for the last two decades has functioned as a bridge between the US government and elites across the business, industry, finance, corporate, and media sectors. The group has allowed some of the most powerful special interests in corporate America to systematically circumvent democratic accountability and the rule of law to influence government policies, as well as public opinion in the US and around the world. The results have been catastrophic: NSA mass surveillance, a permanent state of global war, and a new initiative to transform the US military into Skynet.

THIS IS PART ONE. READ PART TWO HERE.


This exclusive is being released for free in the public interest, and was enabled by crowdfunding. I’d like to thank my amazing community of patrons for their support, which gave me the opportunity to work on this in-depth investigation. Please support independent, investigative journalism for the global commons.


In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, western governments are moving fast to legitimize expanded powers of mass surveillance and controls on the internet, all in the name of fighting terrorism.

US and European politicians have called to protect NSA-style snooping, and to advance the capacity to intrude on internet privacy by outlawing encryption. One idea is to establish a telecoms partnership that would unilaterally delete content deemed to “fuel hatred and violence” in situations considered “appropriate.” Heated discussions are going on at government and parliamentary level to explore cracking down on lawyer-client confidentiality.

What any of this would have done to prevent the Charlie Hebdo attacks remains a mystery, especially given that we already know the terrorists were on the radar of French intelligence for up to a decade.

There is little new in this story. The 9/11 atrocity was the first of many terrorist attacks, each succeeded by the dramatic extension of draconian state powers at the expense of civil liberties, backed up with the projection of military force in regions identified as hotspots harbouring terrorists. Yet there is little indication that this tried and tested formula has done anything to reduce the danger. If anything, we appear to be locked into a deepening cycle of violence with no clear end in sight.

As our governments push to increase their powers, INSURGE INTELLIGENCE can now reveal the vast extent to which the US intelligence community is implicated in nurturing the web platforms we know today, for the precise purpose of utilizing the technology as a mechanism to fight global ‘information war’ — a war to legitimize the power of the few over the rest of us. The lynchpin of this story is the corporation that in many ways defines the 21st century with its unobtrusive omnipresence: Google.

Google styles itself as a friendly, funky, user-friendly tech firm that rose to prominence through a combination of skill, luck, and genuine innovation. This is true. But it is a mere fragment of the story. In reality, Google is a smokescreen behind which lurks the US military-industrial complex.

The inside story of Google’s rise, revealed here for the first time, opens a can of worms that goes far beyond Google, unexpectedly shining a light on the existence of a parasitical network driving the evolution of the US national security apparatus, and profiting obscenely from its operation.

The shadow network

For the last two decades, US foreign and intelligence strategies have resulted in a global ‘war on terror’ consisting of prolonged military invasions in the Muslim world and comprehensive surveillance of civilian populations. These strategies have been incubated, if not dictated, by a secret network inside and beyond the Pentagon.

Established under the Clinton administration, consolidated under Bush, and firmly entrenched under Obama, this bipartisan network of mostly neoconservative ideologues sealed its dominion inside the US Department of Defense (DoD) by the dawn of 2015, through the operation of an obscure corporate entity outside the Pentagon, but run by the Pentagon.

In 1999, the CIA created its own venture capital investment firm, In-Q-Tel, to fund promising start-ups that might create technologies useful for intelligence agencies. But the inspiration for In-Q-Tel came earlier, when the Pentagon set up its own private sector outfit.

Known as the ‘Highlands Forum,’ this private network has operated as a bridge between the Pentagon and powerful American elites outside the military since the mid-1990s. Despite changes in civilian administrations, the network around the Highlands Forum has become increasingly successful in dominating US defense policy.

Giant defense contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton and Science Applications International Corporation are sometimes referred to as the ‘shadow intelligence community’ due to the revolving doors between them and government, and their capacity to simultaneously influence and profit from defense policy. But while these contractors compete for power and money, they also collaborate where it counts. The Highlands Forum has for 20 years provided an off the record space for some of the most prominent members of the shadow intelligence community to convene with senior US government officials, alongside other leaders in relevant industries.

I first stumbled upon the existence of this network in November 2014, when I reported for VICE’s Motherboard that US defense secretary Chuck Hagel’s newly announced ‘Defense Innovation Initiative’ was really about building Skynet — or something like it, essentially to dominate an emerging era of automated robotic warfare.

Read PART 1 and PART 2 HERE

Pentagon Forcing Nurses/Doctors To Participate In Torturous Forced Feedings

guantanamo forced feeding source

Pentagon Panel Proposes Sweeping Changes that Could Impact Guantanamo Force-Feeding

vice

By Jason Leopold

A federal committee that advises the Secretary of Defense on health policy has recommended that the Pentagon allow military healthcare workers to bow out of performing medical procedures that would violate their profession’s code of ethics, or their religious and moral beliefs. Personnel that decline to participate in the procedures should not face retribution.

The recommendation is one of more dozen suggested changes to military medical ethical policies contained in a sweeping 104-page report drafted by the Defense Health Board’s medical ethics subcommittee and quietly released last week. If the Pentagon accepts the committee’s guidance, it could potentially have a huge impact on the operations at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where hunger-striking detainees are routinely force-fed by Navy nurses who have been accused of violating their medical code of ethics.

Since the onset of the global war on terror, the military has been blamed for gross violations of standard medical ethical principles to avoid the infliction of harm by forcing doctors and nurses to participate not only in the widely condemned practice of force-feeding of detainees, but also in interrogations where prisoners were abused and tortured.

The military’s medical ethical practices came under intense scrutiny in 2013 during the height of a mass hunger strike at Guantanamo where dozens of detainees were restrained and forced to ingest a liquid nutritional supplement through their nostrils. Detainees, through their attorneys, said the tube feedings, administered by nurses, were extremely painful and dehumanizing. Professional medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, rebuked the practice, noting that it “violates core ethical values of the medical profession.” The United Nations said it was a breach of international law. Military officials defended the medical procedure, saying it’s Guantanamo’s policy to administer force-feeds as a last resort in order to prevent detainees who refuse to eat from dying.

In January, VICE News obtained a two-page document in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that contained the first known acknowledgement by the US military that force-feeding people who are capable of making informed decisions about their own health is a violation of medical ethics and international law.

Some military medical personnel who have objected to participating in the procedures faced the threat of a dishonorable discharge. Such is the case of a former Guantanamo Navy nurse who last year declined to continue force-feeding detainees. The nurse now faces the possibility of being kicked out of the Navy and the loss of pension and benefits for refusing to abide by the orders.

But the medical ethics subcommittee’s new policy proposals advise the Pentagon against punishing doctors and nurses who choose to opt out of medical procedures if they believe the practices are unethical or immoral. The Defense Health Board, whose members include Retired Gen. Richard Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during George W. Bush’s presidency, unanimously approved the report last month.

‘A mechanism should exist to excuse healthcare workers from participating in force feedings.’

Department of Defense (DOD) “leadership, particularly the line commands, should excuse health care professionals from performing medical procedures that violate their professional code of ethics, State medical board standards of conduct, or the core tenets of their religious or moral beliefs,” one of the recommendations states. “However, to maintain morale and discipline, this excusal should not result in an individual being relieved from participating in hardship duty.”

The subcommittee also noted, “If the operation is illegal, every military member of every specialty has an obligation to do all in his or her power to stop it or refuse participation.”

The panel found that the DOD does not have an explicit code of ethics for healthcare professionals, and recommended that the Pentagon formulate and regularly update an “overarching code of military medical ethics based on accepted codes from various healthcare professions.”

It’s unclear what lead the committee to undertake the review. A Defense Health Board spokeswoman told VICE News the military health officials decided a “proactive evaluation” on issues of “dual loyalty would assist in improving knowledge, understanding, and performance when medical personnel are faced with such challenges.”

In May 2011, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs requested that the Defense Health Board review “medical professional practice policies and guidelines” and come up with recommendations for two questions in particular:

  • How can military medical professionals most appropriately balance their obligations to their patients against their obligations as military officers to help commanders maintain military readiness?
  • How much latitude should military medical professionals be given to refuse participation in medical procedures or request excusal from military operations with which they have ethical reservations or disagreement?

But Dr. Adil Shamoo, a biochemistry professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine and the chair of the Defense Health Board’s medical ethics subcommittee, said the review “basically just went dormant because someone didn’t want us to continue.”

Then, in January 2013, just a month before the Guantanamo hunger strike began, Jessica Wright, then the acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, tasked the subcommittee to revamp its review.

Shamoo told VICE News that he believes the most plausible explanation for the revamping was that the critical media coverage about the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo “was the motivator.”

“To me that makes the most sense,” he said, adding that the committee didn’t start working until August 2013, a couple of months after Senator Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that said the force-feeding policies “are out of step with international norms, medical ethics, and the practices of US Bureau of Prisons.”

The committee obtained testimony from 20 experts on medical ethics, including many who have been harshly critical about Guantanamo’s detainee operations. The group also met confidentially with active duty and retired US military personnel who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We in the subcommittee discussed Guantanamo a great deal,” Shamoo said.

Shamoo, who noted that he was not speaking on behalf of the subcommittee, said the “backbone” of the report is the two recommendations that say healthcare providers’ first loyalty is to the patient, and that the Department of Defense cannot force military medical personnel to participate in a procedure if it violates professional medical ethics, or is immoral.

“If something is not in the interest of the patient or will harm the patient or is immoral that will give moral force to that individual saying I cannot do it,” he said.

The context in the report for the recommended policies revolves around a lengthy discussion about ethical guidelines that were previously issued by medical organizations about force-feeding competent patients, and the role of physicians in the interrogation and torture of detainees.

Shamoo said if the Pentagon accepts the recommendations, it will likely go a long way toward helping the Navy nurse threatened with dishonorable discharge for objecting to the forced-feedings of Guantanamo captives.

The unnamed nurse, identified as a lieutenant who has spent 18 years in the Navy, was sent to the Naval Health Clinic New England in Rhode Island and now faces a possible administrative hearing before a three-officer board that will decide his fate.

“His case was part of our discussion,” Shamoo said. “My thinking is if the Department of Defense adopts our report, it will strengthen the nurse’s case of acquittal. If the protocols we recommended had been in place last year this nurse would not have had to face any ramifications from his decision.”

Capt. Tom Gresback, a Guantanamo spokesman, said he is unaware of any recent cases “of a medical provider refusing to participate in enteral feedings of a detainee at the detention facilities at Guantanamo.” He said it would be inappropriate to speculate as to how the Defense Health Board’s report, if accepted by the Pentagon, could affect the operations at the detention facility.

“Standard operating policy and procedure applicable to all facets of detention operations at Guantanamo Bay are in compliance with US law,” he said.

Ronald Meister, an attorney for the embattled nurse, told VICE News that the medical ethics committee “has recognized what we’ve been saying all along: that medical ethics in war is identical to medical ethics in peace.

“The Department of Defense has to ensure that ethics are complied with, that nurses principal commitment is to the patient and part of all that is excusing healthcare workers from performing medical procedures that violate their code of ethics,” he said.

Guantanamo’s former head of nursing, Commander Jane French, said in 2007 that medical personnel who objected to tube feedings would be excused and someone else would administer the procedures.

‘If the Department of Defense does not act on the recommendations and simply lets them sit, that will be a major indication that they have undermined military medicine.’

Shamoo said the medical ethics subcommittee discovered that French’s policy was not carried over by military officials who succeeded her.

“As much as it would have been nice [for the subcommittee] to say that we recommend that nurse X not be discharged from doing what we say is the right thing, I think this report is pretty much on point,” Meister said of the panel’s recommendations. “A mechanism should exist to excuse healthcare workers from participating in force feedings. This says the military has an obligation to excuse healthcare professionals from performing procedures that violates codes of ethics. That’s what we’re asking them to do in our case.”

Len Rubenstein, a medical ethicist at Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights, is one of the experts who spoke with the subcommittee. He told VICE News he emphasized that Department of Defense policies are inconsistent with ethical requirements.

“There’s been so much focus on how health professionals have breached their ethical duties, and that’s an important point in the war on terror but the focus needs to be to the degree to which the government agencies themselves required those breaches,” Rubenstein said.

He said he would have preferred if the committee went further in its report and tackled the hunger strike issues at Guantanamo directly, “because it is the most blatant conflict between military practice and civilian life practice.”

Still, Rubenstein said the subcommittee’s “simple principle that the Department of Defense must ensure that their first obligation is to the patient is extremely important and would require the Defense Department to alter its practices.

“I see this as a test for the Department of Defense,” Rubenstein continued. “It’s a test whether they will take seriously these recommendations and end the deviation from professional ethical standards and become part of mainstream American medicine. If the Department of Defense does not act on the recommendations and simply lets them sit, that will be a major indication that they have undermined military medicine.”

But even if the Pentagon accepts the subcommittee’s recommendations and overhauls military medical ethics, that likely won’t be enough to solve the hunger strike problem at Guantanamo. That’s an issue that Rubenstein said still needs to be addressed.

“You would basically have to change the policy on hunger strikes,” he said, referring to the protocols that dictate when and how detainees are force-fed. “That is the ultimate implication here. That’s the part of the test for the Department of Defense.”

The medical ethics committee’s report has to go through another layer of bureaucracy before a decision is made as to whether the Pentagon will accept some or none of the recommendations.

“The next step is for the Defense Health Agency’s internal ethics subject matter experts to thoroughly review [the] recommendations and develop a plan of action for leadership review and approval,” said Laura Seal, a spokeswoman at the Defense Department’s personnel and readiness office.

Ethical Guidelines and Practices for U.S. Military Medical Professionals

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