Archive for the ‘Al Qaeda’ Category

The US-NATO Preemptive Nuclear Doctrine: Trigger a Middle East Nuclear Holocaust to Defend “The Western Way of Life” by Michel Chossudovsky

February 12, 2008

The US-NATO Preemptive Nuclear Doctrine: Trigger a Middle East Nuclear Holocaust to Defend “The Western Way of Life” by Michel Chossudovsky

Dandelion Salad

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, February 11, 2008

What the Western allies face is a long, sustained and proactive defence of their societies and way of life. To that end, they must keep risks at a distance, while at the same time protecting their homelands.

International terrorism today aims to disrupt and destroy our societies, our economies and our way of life. …

These different sources of [Islamist] propaganda and/or violence vary in their intellectual underpinnings, sectarian and political aims, … . But what they have in common is an assault on the values of the West – on its democratic processes and its freedom of religion…

Notwithstanding the common perception in the West, the origin of Islamist terrorism is not victimhood, nor an inferiority complex, but a well-financed superiority complex grounded in a violent political ideology.

If the irrational and fanatical [Islamist organizations] get out of hand, there is a risk that, … the rise of fundamentalisms and despotisms will usher in a new, illiberal age, in which the liberties that Western societies enjoy are seriously jeopardized.

The threats that the West and its partners face today are a combination of violent terrorism against civilians and institutions, wars fought by proxy by states that sponsor terrorism, the behaviour of rogue states, the actions of organised international crime, and the coordination of hostile action through abuse of non-military means.

Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership”.

Group report by former chiefs of staff General John Shalikashvili, (US), General Klaus Naumann (Germany), Field Marshal Lord Inge (UK), Admiral Jacques Lanxade (France) and Henk van den Breemen (The Netherlands), published by the Netherlands based Noaber Foundation, December 2007, (emphasis added)

The controversial NATO sponsored report entitled Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership“. calls for a first strike use of nuclear weapons. The preemptive use of nukes would also be used to undermine an “increasingly brutal World” as a means to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction:

“They [the authors of the report] consider that nuclear war might soon become possible in an increasingly brutal world. They propose the first use of nuclear weapons must remain “in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction”. (Paul Dibb, Sidney Morning Herald, 11 February 2008)

The group, insists that the option of first strike of nuclear weapons is “indispensable, since there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world.” (Report, p. 97, emphasis added):

Nuclear weapons are the ultimate instrument of an asymmetric response – and at the same time the ultimate tool of escalation. Yet they are also more than an instrument, since they transform the nature of any conflict and widen its scope from the regional to the global. …

…Nuclear weapons remain indispensable, and nuclear escalation continues to remain an element of any modern strategy.

Nuclear escalation is the ultimate step in responding asymmetrically, and at the same time the most powerful way of inducing uncertainty in an opponent’s mind. (Ibid, emphasis added)

The Group’s Report identifies six key “challenges”, which may often result as potential threats to global security:

Demography. Population growth and change across the globe will swiftly change the world we knew. The challenge this poses for welfare, good governance and energy security (among other things) is vast.

Climate change. This greatly threatens physical certainty, and is leading to a whole new type of politics – one predicated, perhaps more than ever, on our collective future.

Energy security continues to absorb us. The supply and demand of individual nations and the weakening of the international market infrastructure for energy distribution make the situation more precarious than ever.

There is also the more philosophic problem of the rise of the irrational – the discounting of the rational. Though seemingly abstract, this problem is demonstrated in deeply practical ways. [These include] the decline of respect for logical argument and evidence, a drift away from science in a civilization that is deeply technological. The ultimate example is the rise of religious fundamentalism, which, as political fanaticism, presents itself as the only source of certainty.

The weakening of the nation state. This coincides with the weakening of world institutions, including the United Nations and regional organizations such as the European Union, NATO and others.

The dark side of globalization … These include internationalized terrorism, organized crime and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but also asymmetric threats from proxy actors or the abuse of financial and energy leverage. (Ibid)

Deterrence and Pre-emption

According to the Report, a new concept of deterrence is required directed against both State and non-state actors, This “new deterrence” is based on pre-emption as well as on the ability to “restore deterrence through [military] escalation”. In this context, the Report contemplates, what it describes as:

escalation dominance, the use of a full bag of both carrots and sticks—and indeed all instruments of soft and hard power, ranging from the diplomatic protest to nuclear weapons.” (Report, op city, emphasis added).

Iran

In much the same terms as the Bush administration, the NATO sponsored report states, without evidence, that Iran constitutes “a major strategic threat”:

“An Iranian nuclear weapons capability would pose a major strategic threat – not only to Israel, which it has threatened to destroy, but also to the region as a whole, to Europe and to the United States. Secondly, it could be the beginning of a new multi-polar nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.” (Report, op. cit., p. 45)

Careful timing? The controversial NATO sponsored report calling for a preemptive nuclear attack on Iran was released shortly after the publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report entitled Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities. The latter denies Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The NIE report, based on the assessments of sixteen US intelligence agencies, refutes the Bush administration’s main justification for waging a preemptive nuclear war on Iran. The NIE report confirms that Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.”

“These findings constitute a damning indictment of the Bush administration’s relentless fear-mongering in relation to an alleged nuclear threat from Iran. They demonstrate that just as in the buildup to the war against Iraq five years ago, the White House has been engaged in a systematic campaign to drag the American people into another war based on lies.” (See Bill van Auken, 24 January 2008)

It should be noted that this recently declassified intelligence ( pertaining to Iran contained in the 2007 NIE report) was known by the White House, the Pentagon and most probably NATO since September 2003. Ironically, US military documents confirm that the Bush Administration initiated its war preparations against Iran in July 2003, two months prior to the confirmation by US intelligence that Iran did not constitute a nuclear threat.

The July 2003 war scenarios were launched under TIRANNT: Theater Iran Near Term.

The justification for TIRANNT as well as for subsequent US war plans directed against Iran ( which as of 2004 included the active participation of NATO and Israel), has always been that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and plans to use them against us.

Following the publication of the 2007 NIE in early December, there has been an avalanche of media propaganda directed against Tehran, essentially with a view to invalidating the statements of the NIE concerning Tehran’s nuclear program.

Moreover, a third sanctions resolution by the UN Security Council, was initiated with a view to forcing Iran to halt uranium enrichment. The proposed UNSC resolution, which is opposed by China and Russia includes a travel ban on Iranian officials involved in the country’s nuclear programs, and inspections of shipments to and from Iran “if there are suspicions of prohibited goods” (AFP, 11 February 2008). Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy together with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, have been calling for a unified EU sanctions regime against Iran.

Contradicting the US national intelligence estimate (NIE), Bush’s most recent speeches continue to portray Iran as a nuclear threat:

“I feel pretty good about making sure that we keep the pressure on Iran to pressure them so they understand they’re isolated, to pressure them to affect their economy, to pressure them to the point that we hope somebody rational shows up and says, okay, it’s not worth it anymore,” Bush said.

Threat to “The Western Way of Life”

The Western media is involved in a diabolical disinformation campaign, the purpose of which is to persuade public opinion that the only way to “create a nuclear free World” is to use nuclear weapons on a preemptive basis, against countries which “threaten our Western Way of Life.”

The Western world is threatened. The NATO report, according to Paul Dibb: “paint(s) an alarming picture of the threats confronting the West, arguing that its values and way of life are under threat and that we are struggling to summon the will to defend them.”(Dibb, op cit)

A preemptive nuclear attack — geographically confined to Middle East (minus Israel?)– is the proposed end-game. The attack would use US tactical nuclear weapons, which, according to “scientific opinion” (on contract to the Pentagon) are “harmless to the surrounding civilian population because the explosion is underground”. (See Michel Chossudovsky The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear Holocaust, Global Research, 17 February 2006)

B61-11 bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads Made in America, with an explosive capacity between one third to six times a Hiroshima bomb, are presented as bona fide humanitarian bombs, which minimize the dangers of “collateral damage”.

These in-house “scientific” Pentagon assessments regarding the mini-nukes are refuted by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS):

Any attempt to use a [B61-11 bunker buster nuclear bomb] in an urban environment would result in massive civilian casualties. Even at the low end of its 0.3-300 kiloton yield range, the nuclear blast will simply blow out a huge crater of radioactive material, creating a lethal gamma-radiation field over a large area ” (Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons by Robert W. Nelson, Federation of American Scientists, 2001 ).

Professor Paul Dibb is a former Australian Deputy Secretary of Defense., who has over the years also occupied key positions in Australia’s defense and intelligence establishment. Dibb carefully overlooks the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons in a conventional war theater. According to Dibb, NATO preemptive nuclear doctrine, which replicates that of the Pentagon, constitutes a significant and positive initiative to “halt the imminent spread of nuclear weapons”. .

“They [the group] believe that the West must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the imminent spread of nuclear weapons.”

Never mind the nuclear holocaust and resulting radioactive contamination, which would spread Worldwide and threaten, in a real sense, the “way of life”.

There is no “way of life” in a World contaminated with deadly radioactive material. But this is something that is rarely discussed in the corridors of NATO or in strategic studies programs in Western universities.

Nukes: Just Another Tool in the Military Toolbox

What is frightening in Professor Dibb’s article is that he is not expressing an opinion, nor is he analyzing the use of nuclear weapons from an academic research point of view.

In his article, there is neither research on nuclear weapons nor is there an understanding of the complex geopolitics of the Middle East war. Dibb is essentially repeating verbatim the statements contained in NATO/Pentagon military documents. His article is a “copy and paste” summary of Western nuclear doctrine, which in practice calls for the launching of a nuclear holocaust.

The stated objective of a Middle East nuclear holocaust is “to prevent the occurrence of a nuclear war”. An insidious logic which certainly out- dwarfs the darkest period of the Spanish inquisition…

Neither NATO nor the Pentagon use the term nuclear holocaust. Moreover, they presume that the “collateral damage” of a nuclear war will in any event be confined geographically to the Middle East and that Westerners will be spared…

But since their in-house scientists have confirmed that tactical nuclear weapons are “safe for civilians”, the labels on the bombs have been switched much in the same way as the label on a packet of cigarettes: “This nuclear bomb is safe for civilians”

The new definition of a nuclear warhead has blurred the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons:

‘It’s a package (of nuclear and conventional weapons). The implication of this obviously is that nuclear weapons are being brought down from a special category of being a last resort, or sort of the ultimate weapon, to being just another tool in the toolbox,” (Japan Economic News Wire, op cit)

This re-categorization has been carried out. The ” green light” for the use of tactical nuclear weapons has been granted by the US Congress. . ” Let’s use them, they are part of the military toolbox.”

We are a dangerous crossroads: military planners believe their own propaganda. The military manuals state that this new generation of nuclear weapons are “safe” for use in the battlefield. They are no longer a weapon of last resort. There are no impediments or political obstacles to their use. In this context, Senator Edward Kennedy has accused the Bush Administration for having developed “a generation of more useable nuclear weapons.”

Russia and China

Who else constitutes a threat to ” the Western way of life”?

Nukes are also slated to be used against Russia and China, former enemies of the Cold War era.

This post Cold War logic was first revealed, when the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was leaked to The Los Angeles Times in January 2002. The NPR includes China and Russia alongside the rogue states as potential targets for a first strike nuclear attack. According to William Arkin, the NPR “offers a chilling glimpse into the world of nuclear-war planners: With a Strangelovian genius, they cover every conceivable circumstance in which the president might wish to use nuclear weapons-planning in great detail.” (Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2002)

“Decapitate Their Leadership and Destroy their Countries as Functioning Societies”

The use of nukes against “rogue states”, including Iran and North Korea (which lost more than a quarter of its population in US bombings during the Korean war) is justified because these countries could act in an “irrational” way. It therefore makes sense to “take em out” before they do something irrational. The objective is: “decapitate their leadership and destroy their countries as functioning societies”:

“One line of reasoning is that so-called rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea, are sufficiently irrational to risk a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the US or its allies, such as Israel and South Korea.

The supposition here is that deterrence – that is, threatening the other side with obliteration – no longer works. But even the nasty regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang must know that the US reserves the right to use its overwhelming nuclear force to decapitate the leadership and destroy their countries as modern functioning societies. (Dibb, op cit., emphasis added)

Use nuclear weapons to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.

But of course, lest we forget, America’s nuclear arsenal as well as that of France, Britain and Israel are not categorized as “weapons of mass destruction”, in comparison with Iran’s deadly nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

Bin Laden’s Nuclear Program

Now comes the authoritative part of the NATO sponsored report: We need to use nukes against bin Laden, because Islamic “fanatics” can actually make a nuclear weapons or buy them from the Russians in the black market.

The Report calls for a first strike nuclear attack directed against Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, which has the ability, according to expert opinion, of actually producing small nuclear bombs, which could be used in a Second 9/11 attack on America: .

The second line of reasoning [contained in the NATO sponsored report] is more difficult to refute. It argues that extreme fanatical terrorists, such as al-Qaeda, cannot be deterred because (a) they do not represent a country and therefore cannot be targeted and (b) they welcome death by suicide. So, we have to shift the concept of nuclear deterrence to the country or regime supplying the terrorists with fissile material.

Nuclear weapons require materials that can be made only with difficulty. Once these materials are obtained by terrorists, however, the barriers to fabricating a weapon are much lower. In that sense the nuclear threat today is greater than it was in the Cold War and it seems the terrorists cannot be deterred.( Dibb, op cit, emphasis added)

The alleged nuclear threat by Al Qaeda is taken very seriously. The Bush administration has responded with overall defense spending (budget plus war theater) in excess of one trillion dollars. This massive amount of public money has been allocated to financing the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT).

Confirmed by Pentagon documents, this military hardware including aircraft carriers, fighter jets, cruise missiles and nuclear bunker buster bombs, is slated to be used as part of the “Global War on Terrorism”. In military jargon the US is involved in asymmetric warfare against non-State enemies. (The concept of Asymmetric Warfare was defined in The National Defense Strategy of the United States of America (2005)

“The American Hiroshima”

The US media has the distinct ability to turn realities upside down. The lies are upheld as indelible truths. The “Islamic terrorists” have abandoned their AK 47 kalashnikov rifles and stinger missiles; they are not only developing deadly chemical and biological weapons, they also have nuclear capabilities.

The fact, amply documented, that Al Qaeda is supported by the CIA and Britain’s MI6 is beside the point.

The nuclear threat is not directed against the Middle East but against the USA, the perpetrators and architects of nuclear war are bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, which is planning to launch a nuclear attack on an American city:

“U.S. government officials are contemplating what they consider to be an inevitable and much bigger assault on America, one likely to kill millions, destroy the economy and fundamentally alter the course of history,…

According to captured al-Qaida leaders and documents, the plan is called the “American Hiroshima” and involves the multiple detonation of nuclear weapons already smuggled into the U.S. over the Mexican border with the help of the MS-13 street gang and other organized crime groups. (World Net Daily, 11 July 2005, emphasis added)

The New York Times confirms that an Al Qaeda sponsored “American Hiroshima” “could happen” .

“Experts believe that such an attack, somewhere, is likely.” (NYT, 11 August 2004)

According to the Aspen Strategy Group which is integrated among others, by Madeleine Albright, Richard Armitage, Philip D. Zelikow, Robert B. Zoellick, “the danger of nuclear terrorism is much greater than the public believes, and our government hasn’t done nearly enough to reduce it.”:

If a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon, a midget even smaller than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, exploded in Times Square, the fireball would reach tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit. It would vaporize or destroy the theater district, Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal and Carnegie Hall (along with me and my building). The blast would partly destroy a much larger area, including the United Nations. On a weekday some 500,000 people would be killed. (NYT, 11 August 2004)

“Threaten them with a devastating [nuclear] attack”

According to professor Dibb, nuclear deterrence should also apply in relation to Al Qaeda, by holding responsible the governments which help the terrorists to develop their nuclear weapons capabilities:

“Ashton Carter, a former US assistant secretary for defense, has recently argued, the realistic response is to hold responsible, as appropriate, the government from which the terrorists obtained the weapon or fissile materials and threaten them with a devastating [nuclear] strike. In other words, deterrence would work again. (Dibb, op cit)

The real nuclear threat is coming from bin Laden. The objective is to “to do away with our way of life”:

None of this is to underestimate the impact of a nuclear weapon being detonated in an American city. It could be catastrophic, but it is highly unlikely to threaten the very survival of the US. To believe otherwise risks surrendering to the fear and intimidation that is precisely the terrorists’ stock in trade.

General Richard Myers, another former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, has claimed that if [Islamic] terrorists were able to kill 10,000 Americans in a nuclear attack, they would “do away with our way of life”. But Hiroshima and Nagasaki incurred well over 100,000 instant deaths and that did not mean the end of the Japanese way of life. (Ibid, emphasis added)

In an utterly twisted and convoluted argument, professor Dibb transforms the US-NATO threat to wage a nuclear war on Iran into an Al Qaeda operation to attack an American city with nuclear weapon.

Dibb presents the US-NATO menace to trigger what would result in a Middle East nuclear holocaust as a humanitarian operation to save American lives. By implication, the Al Qaeda sponsored “American Hiroshima” would be supported by Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. and this in turn would immediately provide a juste cause (casus belli) for retaliation against Iran

What a nuclear attack on a US city would mean, however, is an understandable American retaliation in kind. So, those countries that have slack control over their fissile nuclear materials and cozy relations with terrorists need to watch out. A wounded America would be under enormous pressure to respond in a wholly disproportionate manner.

And then we would be in a completely changed strategic situation in which the use of nuclear weapons might become commonplace. Ibid, emphasis added).

Dick Cheney’s Second 9/11

The insinuation that Al Qaeda is preparing an attack on America has been on the lips of Vice President Dick Cheney for several years now. Cheney has stated on several occasions since 2004, that Al Qaeda is preparing a “Second 9/11″: .

In August 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney is reported to have instructed USSTRATCOM, based at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, to draw up a “Contingency Plan”, “to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States”. (Philip Giraldi, Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear War, The American Conservative, 2 August 2005)

Dick Cheney’s “Contingency Plan” was predicated on the preemptive war doctrine. Implied in the “Contingency Plan” was the presumption that Iran would be behind the attacks.

The Pentagon in a parallel initiative has actually fine-tuned its military agenda to the point of actually envisaging a Second 9/11 scenario as a means to providing the US administration with a “credible” justification to attack Iran and Syria:

Another [9/11 type terrorist] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets [Iran and Syria]” (Statement by Pentagon official, leaked to the Washington Post, 23 April 2006, emphasis added)

Meanwhile,. the US Congress is concerned that an “American Hiroshima” could potentially damage the US economy:

“What we do know is that our enemies want to inflict massive casualties and that terrorists have the expertise to invent a wide range of attacks, including those involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons. … [E]xploding a small nuclear weapon in a major city could do incalculable harm to hundreds of thousands of people, as well as to businesses and the economy,…(US Congress, House Financial Services Committee, June 21, 2007).

As far as sensitizing public opinion to the dangers of US sponsored nuclear war, there is, with a few exceptions, a scientific and intellectual vacuum: No research, no analysis, no comprehension of the meaning of a nuclear holocaust which in a real sense threatens the future of humanity. This detachment and lack of concern of prominent intellectuals characterizes an evolving trend in many universities and research institutes in the strategic studies, the sciences and social sciences.

Academics increasingly tow the line. They remain mum on the issue of a US sponsored nuclear war. There is a tacit acceptance of a diabolical and criminal military agenda, which in a very sense threatens life on this planet. The US-NATO doctrine to use nukes on a preemptive basis with a view to “saving the Western World’s way of life” is not challenged in any meaningful way either by academics or media experts in strategic studies.

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Waterboarding for God and Country By Ray McGovern

February 11, 2008

Waterboarding for God and Country By Ray McGovern

Dandelion Salad

By Ray McGovern
10/02/08 “ICH

After one spends 45 years in Washington, high farce does not normally throw one off balance. I found the past few days, however, an acid test of my equilibrium.

I missed the National Prayer Breakfast—for the 45th time in a row. But, as I drove to work I listened with rapt attention as President George W. Bush gave his insights on prayer:

“When we lift our hearts to God, we’re all equal in his sight. We’re all equally precious…In prayer we grow in mercy and compassion…. When we answer God’s call to love a neighbor as ourselves, we enter into a deeper friendship with our fellow man — and a deeper relationship with our eternal Father.”

Vice President Dick Cheney skipped Thursday’s prayer breakfast in order to put the final touches on the speech he gave later that morning to the Conservative Political Action Conference. Perhaps he felt he needed some extra time to devise careful words to extol “the interrogation program run by the CIA…a tougher program for tougher customers, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11,” without conceding that the program has involved torture.

But there was a touch of defensiveness in Cheney’s remarks, as he saw fit repeatedly to reassure his audience yesterday that America is a “decent” country.

After all, CIA Director Michael Hayden had confirmed publicly on Tuesday that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and two other “high-value” detainees had been waterboarded in 2002-2003, though Hayden added that the technique has since been discontinued.

An extreme form of interrogation going back at least as far as the Spanish Inquisition, waterboarding has been condemned as torture by just about everyone—except the hired legal hands of the Bush administration.

On Wednesday President Bush’s spokesman Tony Fratto revealed that the White House reserves the right to approve waterboarding again, “depending on the circumstances.” Fratto matter-of-factly described the process still followed by the Bush administration to approve torture—er; I mean, “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding:

“The process includes the director of the Central Intelligence Agency bringing the proposal to the attorney general, where the review would be conducted to determine if the plan would be legal and effective. At that point, the proposal would go to the president. The president would listen to the determination of his advisers and make a decision.”


Dissing Congress

Cheney’s task of reassuring us about our “decency” was made no easier Thursday, when Attorney General Michael Mukasey stonewalled questions from the hapless John Conyers, titular chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Conyers tried, and failed, to get straight answers from Mukasey on torture.

Conyers referred to Hayden’s admission about waterboarding and branded the practice “odious.” But Mukasey seemed to take perverse delight in “dissing” Conyers, as the expression goes in inner city Washington. Sadly, the tired chairman took the disrespect stoically.

He did summon the courage to ask Attorney General Mukasey directly, “Are you ready to start a criminal investigation into whether this confirmed use of waterboarding by U.S. agents was illegal?”

“No, I am not,” Mukasey answered.

Mukasey claimed “waterboarding was found to be permissible under the law as it existed” in the years immediately after 9/11; thus, the Justice Department could not investigate someone for doing something the department had declared legal. Got that?

Mukasey explained:

“That would mean the same department that authorized the program would now consider prosecuting somebody who followed that advice.”

Oddly, Mukasey himself is on record saying waterboarding would be torture if applied to him. And Michael McConnell, Director of National Intelligence, was even more explicit in taking the same line in an interview with Lawrence Wright of New Yorker magazine. McConnell told Wright that, for him:

“Waterboarding would be excruciating. If I had water draining into my nose, oh God, I just can’t imagine how painful! Whether it’s torture by anybody else’s definition, for me it would be torture.”

Okay, it would be torture if done to you, Mike; how about if done to others? Sadly, McConnell, too, missed the prayer breakfast and the president’s moving reminder that we are called “to love a neighbor as ourselves.” Is there an exception, perhaps, for detainees?

Cat Out of Bag

When torture first came up during his interview with the New Yorker, McConnell was more circumspect, repeating the obligatory bromide “We don’t torture,” as former CIA Director George Tenet did in five consecutive sentences while hawking his memoir on 60 Minutes on April 29, 2007. As McConnell grew more relaxed, however, he let slip the rationale for Mukasey’s effrontery and the administration’s refusal to admit that waterboarding is torture. For anyone paying attention, that rationale has long been a no-brainer. But here is McConnell inadvertently articulating it:

“If it is ever determined to be torture, there will be a huge penalty to be paid for anyone engaging in it.”

Like death. Even Alberto Gonzales could grasp this at the outset. That explains the overly clever, lawyerly wording in the Jan. 25, 2002 memorandum for the president drafted by the vice president’s lawyer, David Addington, but signed by Gonzales. Addington/Gonzales argued that the president’s determination that the Geneva agreements on prisoners of war do not apply to al-Qaeda and the Taliban:

“Substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 2441)…enacted in 1996…

“Punishments for violations of Section 2441include the death penalty…

“[I]t is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441. Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution.”
MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT, January 25, 2002, p. 2

Mike McConnell needs to get his own lawyers to bring him up to date on all this. For that memorandum was quickly followed by an action memorandum signed by George W. Bush on Feb. 7, 2002. The president’s memo incorporated the exact wording of Addington/Gonzales’ bottom line; to wit, the U.S. would “treat the detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of [Geneva]. (emphasis added)

That provided the loophole through which then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and then-CIA director George Tenet and their subordinates drove the Mack truck of torture. Even the Bush-administration-friendly editorial page of the Washington Post saw fit on Friday to declare torture “illegal in all instances,” adding that “waterboarding is, and always has been, torture.”

Waterboarding has been condemned as torture for a very long time. After WW-II Japanese soldiers were hanged for the “war crime” of waterboarding American soldiers.

Patriots and Prophets

Patriots and prophets have made it clear from our earliest days that such abuse has no place in America.

Virginia’s Patrick Henry insisted passionately that “the rack and the screw,” as he put it, were barbaric practices that had to be left behind in the Old World, or we are “lost and undone.” Attorney General Mukasey, for his part, recently refused to say whether he considers the rack and the screw forms of torture, dismissing the question as hypothetical.

As for prophets, George Hunzinger of Princeton Theological Seminary has awakened enough religious folks to form the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, a coalition of 130 religious organizations from left to right on the political spectrum. Hunzinger puts it succinctly: “To acknowledge that waterboarding is torture is like conceding that the sun rises in the east,” adding:

“All the dissembling in high places that makes these shocking abuses possible must be brought to an end. But they will undoubtedly continue unless those responsible for them are held accountable…. A special counsel is an essential first step.”

Sadly, Hunzinger and his associates have been unable to overcome the pious complacency of the vast majority of institutional churches, synagogues, and mosques in this country and their reluctance to exercise moral leadership.

How It Looks From Outside

Sometimes it takes a truth-telling outsider to throw light on our moral failures.

South African Methodist Bishop Peter Storey, erstwhile chaplain to Nelson Madela in prison and longtime outspoken opponent of apartheid, has this to say to those clergy who might be moved to preach more than platitudes:

“We had obvious evils to engage; you have to unwrap your culture from years of red, white, and blue myth. You have to expose and confront the great disconnect between the kindness, compassion, and caring of most American people and the ruthless way American power is experienced, directly or indirectly, by the poor of the earth. You have to help good people see how they have let their institutions do their sinning for them.

“All around the world there are those who long to see your human goodness translated into a different, more compassionate way of relating with the rest of this bleeding planet.”

Mukasey’s thumbing his nose at Conyers’ committee yesterday was simply the most recent display of contempt for Congress on the part of the Bush administration. The Founders expected our representatives in Congress to be taken seriously by the executive branch, and expected that Members of Congress would hold senior executives accountable—to the point of impeaching them, when necessary, for high crimes and misdemeanors.

That used to worry those officials and put a brake on more outlandish behavior. Not any more.

No Worries, George

One reads George Tenet’s memoirs with some nostalgia for the days of a modicum of congressional oversight, and with a strong sense of irony—as he confesses concern that Congress might one day hold him and others accountable for taking liberties with national and international law.

It seems likely that then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington counseled Tenet that his concerns were quaint and obsolete and, alas, they may have been right, the way things have been going. But Tenet apparently entertained lingering misgivings—perhaps even qualms of conscience.

In the immediate post-9/11 period, Tenet says he told the president “our only real ally” on the Afghan border was Uzbekistan, “where we had established important intelligence-collection capabilities.” We now know from UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray that those “collection capabilities” included the most primitive methods of torture, including boiling alleged “terrorists” alive.

Tenet adds that he stressed the importance of being able to detain unilaterally al-Qaeda operatives around the world. His worries shine through the rather telling sentences that follow:

“We were asking for and we would be given as many authorities as CIA ever had. Things could blow up. People, me among them, could end up spending some of the worst days of our lives justifying before congressional overseers our new freedom to act.” At the Center of the Storm, p. 177-178

Tenet need not have worried. He would be shielded from accountability by a timid Congress as well as an arrogant White House able to arrogate unprecedented power to itself and to shield those it wished to protect.

Setting the Tone

It was President George W. Bush who set the tone from the outset. After his address to the nation on the evening of 9/11, he assembled his top national security aides in the White House bunker—the easier, perhaps, to foster a bunker mentality. Among them was counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, who quoted the president in his memoir:

“I want you to understand that we are at war and we will stay at war until this is done. Nothing else matters. Everything is available for the pursuit of this war. Any barriers in your way, they’re gone. Any money you need, you have it. This is our only agenda…

“I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” Against All Enemies, Free Press, 2004

Clarke, of course, took his book’s title from the oath of office we all swore as military officers and/or senior government officials: “To defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

John Ashcroft, head of the Department of Justice at the time, fell in lockstep with the thrust of the president’s comment dismissing any concern with international law—or, as would quickly be seen, domestic law, as well. With the enthusiastic assistance of David Addington, the affable Ashcroft assembled a cabal of Mafia-like lawyers whose imaginative legal opinions on torture, warrantless eavesdropping, and other abuses mark them forever as “domestic enemies” of the Constitution.

Add Mukasey to this distinguished roster.

Torture: the Hallmark

What is not widely known is that Justice Department-approved torture was first applied on an American citizen, John Walker Lindh, who was captured in Afghanistan in late November 2001. The White House and corporate press immediately sensationalized Lindh as “the American Taliban.”

Jesselyn Radack, a conscientious legal advisor in the Justice Department’s Professional Responsibility Advisory Office, which gives ethics advice to Department attorneys, insisted that Lindh be advised of his rights before any interrogation. Instead, he was tortured mercilessly during the first few days of his internment and denied medical care.

Lindh had had the foolishness and bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; i. e., in a large group of prisoners rounded up by CIA and Army paramilitary forces—too large a group, it turned out.

A spontaneous uprising took place, and CIA paramilitary officer Johnny “Mike” Spann, who had questioned Lindh just minutes before, was shot dead. Outraged, Spann’s colleagues applied “frontier justice,” totally ignoring the Constitutional cautions of Ms. Radack.

The Department of Justice moved quickly to fire Radack for her principled stand. But she had the presence of mind to save emails providing chapter and verse of the difficult exchanges in which she had insisted on respect for Lindh’s rights as an American citizen. Newsweek carried the story briefly, but neither Congress nor anyone else in the media showed much interest.

Radack’s book recounting this experience, The Canary in the Coalmine: Blowing the Whistle in the Case of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, is available on line at: http://www.patriotictruthteller.net/.

Against this backdrop, together with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, Patrick Henry’s warning remains a challenge for our time: Are we “lost and undone?” I think not; but we had better get it together soon, for, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., cautioned, “There is such a thing as too late.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He was an Army intelligence officer before joining the CIA where he had a 27-year career as an analyst. He is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

A shorter version of this article appeared on Consortiumnews.com.

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There Is No “War on Terror”

February 8, 2008

There Is No “War on Terror”

By Edward S. Herman
and David Peterson

Edward S. Herman’s ZSpace Page
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 One of the most telling signs of the political naiveté of liberals and the Left in the United States has been their steadfast faith in much of the worldview that blankets the imperial state they call home.  Nowhere has this critical failure been more evident than in their acceptance of the premise that there really is something called a “war on terror” or “terrorism”[1]—however poorly managed its critics make it out to be—and that righting the course of this war ought to be this country’s (and the world’s) top foreign policy priority.   In this perspective, Afghanistan and Pakistan rather than Iraq ought to have been the war on terror’s proper foci; most accept that the U.S. attack on Afghanistan from October 2001 on was a legitimate and necessary stage in the war.  The tragic error of the Bush Administration, in this view, was that it lost sight of this priority, and diverted U.S. military action to Iraq and other theaters, reducing the commitment where it was needed.

Of course we expect to find this line of criticism expressed by the many former supporters who have fled from the sinking regime in Washington.[2]  But it is striking that commentators as durably hostile to Bush policies as the New York Times‘s Frank Rich should accept so many of the fundamentals of this worldview, and repeat them without embarrassment.  Rich asserts that the question “
Who lost Iraq? is but a distraction from the more damning question, Who is losing the war on terrorism?”  A repeated theme of Rich’s work has been that the Cheney – Bush presidency is causing “as much damage to fighting the war on terrorism as it does to civil liberties.”  Even in late 2007, Rich still lamented the “really bad news” that, “Much as Iraq distracted America from the war against Al Qaeda, so a strike on Iran could ignite Pakistan, Al Qaeda’s thriving base and the actual central front of the war on terror.”[3]

 

Other expressions of faith in something called the “war on terror” abound. Thus in a long review of several books in which she urged “[r]evamping our approach to terrorism” and “recapturing hearts and minds” around the world, Harvard’s Samantha Power, a top lieutenant in the humanitarian brigade, wrote that “most Americans still rightly believe that the United States must confront Islamic terrorism—and must be relentless in preventing terrorist networks from getting weapons of mass destruction.  But Bush’s premises have proved flawed….”[4]   Most striking was Power’s expression of disappointment that “millions—if not billions—of people around the world do not see the difference between a suicide bomber’s attack on a pizzeria and an American attack on what turns out to be a wedding party”—the broken moral compass residing within these masses, of course, who fail to understand that only the American attacks are legitimate and that the numerous resultant casualties are but “tragic errors” and  “collateral damage.”[5]  

 

Like Samantha Power, the What We’re Fighting For statement issued in February 2002 by the Institute for American Values and signed by 60 U.S. intellectuals, including Jean Bethke Elshtain, Francis Fukuyama, Mary Ann Glendon, Samuel Huntington, Harvey C. Mansfield, Will Marshall, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Michael Novak, Michael Walzer, George Weigel, and James Q. Wilson, declared the war on terror a “just war.”   “Organized killers with global reach now threaten all of us,” it  is asserted in one revealing passage. “In the name of universal human morality, and fully conscious of the restrictions and requirements of a just war, we support our government’s, and our society’s, decision to use force of arms against them.”[6]  The idea that “killers with global reach” who are far more deadly and effective than Al Qaeda could be found at home doesn’t seem to occur to these intellectuals.  And like Power, they also make what they believe a telling distinction between the deliberate killing of civilians, as in a suicide bombing, and “collateral damage”-type casualties even in cases where civilian casualties are vastly larger and entirely predictable, though not specifically intended.[7]  Throughout these reflections, the purpose is to distinguish our murderous acts from theirs.  It is the latter that constitute a “world-threatening evil…that clearly requires the use of force to remove it.”[8]  

 

In the same mode, Princeton University international law professor Richard Falk’s early contributions to The Nation after 9/11 found a “visionary program of international, apocalyptic terrorism” behind the events.  “It is truly a declaration of war from the lower depths,” Falk wrote, a “transformative shift in the nature of the terrorist challenge both conceptually and tactically….There is no indication that the forces behind the attack were acting on any basis beyond their extraordinary destructive intent….We are poised on the brink of a global, intercivilizational war without battlefields and borders….”  Some weeks later, in a nod to “just war” doctrine, Falk argued that the “destruction of both the Taliban regime and the Al Qaeda network…are appropriate goals….[T]he case [against the Taliban] is strengthened,” he added, “to the degree that its governing policies are so oppressive as to give the international community the strongest possible grounds for humanitarian intervention.”[9]  

 

Peter Beinart, a liberal-leaning former editor of the New Republic and the author of the 2006 book The Good Fight: Why Liberals-and Only LiberalsCan Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again, wrote in the aftermath of Cheney – Bush’s 2004 re-election: “Today, the war on terrorism is partially obscured by the war in Iraq, which has made liberals cynical about the purposes of U.S. power.  But, even if Iraq is Vietnam, it no more obviates the war on terrorism than Vietnam obviated the battle against communism.  Global jihad will be with us long after American troops stop dying in Falluja and Mosul.  And thus, liberalism will rise or fall on whether it can become, again, what [Arthur] Schlesinger called ‘a fighting faith’.”[10]

 

Even David Cole and Jules Lobel, authors of a highly-regarded critique of Cheney – Bush policies on “Why America Is Losing the War on Terror,” take the existence of its “counterterrorism strategy” at face value; this strategy has been a “colossal failure,” they argue, because it has “compromised our spirit, strengthened our enemies and left us less free and less safe.”  The U.S. war in Iraq “permitted the Administration to turn its focus from Al Qaeda, the organization that attacked us on 9/11, to Iraq, a nation that did not.  The Iraq war has by virtually all accounts made the United States, the Iraqi people, many of our allies and for that matter much of the world more vulnerable to terrorists.  By targeting Iraq, the Bush Administration not only siphoned off much-needed resources from the struggle against Al Qaeda but also created a golden opportunity for Al Qaeda to inspire and recruit others to attack US and allied targets.  And our invasion of Iraq has turned it into the world’s premier terrorist training ground.”[11]  

 

Elsewhere, appearing at a forum in New York City sponsored by the Open Society Institute to discuss his work, David Cole made the remarkable assertion that “no one argued” the post-9/11 U.S. attack on Afghanistan was “not a legitimate act of self-defense.”  No less remarkable was Cole’s statement shortly thereafter that the United States’ “holding [of prisoners] at Guantanamo would not have been controversial practice had we given them hearings at the outset,” because, as Cole explained it, such hearings “would have identified those people as to whom we had no evidence that they were involved with Al Qaeda and then they would be released.”[12] 

 

Cole’s first remark ignores the UN Charter, which allows an attack on another state in self-defense only when an imminent attack is threatened, and then only until such time as the Security Council acts on behalf of the threatened state.  But given the absence of such urgency and the absence of  a UN authorization,  and given that the hijacker bombers of 9/11 were independent terrorists and not agents of  a state, the October 2001 U.S. war on Afghanistan was a violation of the UN Charter and a “supreme international crime,” in the language of the Judgment at Nuremberg.[13]  Would Cole have defended Cuban or Nicaraguan or Iraqi bombing attacks on Washington D.C. as legitimate acts of self-defense at any juncture in the past when the United States was attacking or sponsoring an attack on these countries?  We doubt it.  Cole also seems unaware that the United States attacked after refusing the Afghan government’s offer to give up bin Laden upon the presentation of evidence of his involvement in the crime.[14] Furthermore, the war began long after bin Laden and his forces had been given time to exit, and was fought mainly against the Taliban government and Afghan people, thousands of whom were killed under targeting rules that assured and resulted in numerous “tragic errors” and can reasonably be called war crimes.

 

Given the illegality and immorality of this war—now already well into its seventh year—the killing of people in Afghanistan cannot be regarded as “legitimate”—and neither can the taking of prisoners there under any conditions.  Cole’s second remark also ignores the modes of seizure of prisoners, some turned over in exchange for cash bounties; or their treatment in Afghanistan, en route to Guantanamo, and in rendition facilities, apart from delays in or absence of  “hearings at the outset.”  Last, Cole is wrong even on the alleged general agreement on the legitimacy of this act of  “self-defense” in Afghanistan.  Despite the domestic hysteria in the United States at the time, a number of  lawyers here contested its legitimacy .[15]  Furthermore, a series of opinion polls in 37 different countries by Gallup International in late September 2001 found that in no less than 34 of these countries, majorities opposed a U.S. military attack on Afghanistan, preferring instead to see the events of September 11 treated as crimes (i.e., non-militarily), with extradition and trial for the alleged culprits.  The three countries where opinion ran against the majority in the other 34 were the United States (54%), India (72%), and Israel (77%).  Otherwise, it appears that significant and sometimes overwhelming majorities of the world’s population were opposed to the U.S. resort to war.[16]

 


What War on Terror?

 

But talk of the “failure” of the war on terror rests on the false premise that there really is such a war.   This we reject on a number of grounds.  First, in all serious definitions of the term,[17] terror is a means of pursuing political ends, an instrument of struggle, and it makes little sense to talk about war against a means and instrument. Furthermore, if the means consists of  modes of political intimidation and publicity-seeking that use or threaten force against civilians, a major problem with the alleged “war” is that the United States and Israel also clearly use terror and support allies and agents who do the same. The “shock and awe” strategy that opened the 2002 invasion-occupation of Iraq was openly and explicitly designed to terrorize the Iraq population and armed forces. Much of the bombing and torture, and the attack that destroyed Falluja, have been designed to instill fear and intimidate the general population and resistance.  Israel’s repeated bombing attacks, ground assaults, and targeted assassinations of Palestinians are also designed to create fear and apathy, that is, terrorize.  As longtime Labour Party official Abba Eban admitted years ago, Israel’s bombing of  Lebanon civilians was based on “the rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that afflicted populations [i.e., civilians deliberately targeted] would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities.”[18]  This was a precise admission of the use of  terrorism, and surely fits Israeli policy in the years of the alleged “war on terror.”  Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has also acknowledged an intent to attack civilians, declaring in March 2002 that “The Palestinians must be hit and it must be very painful: we must cause them losses, victims, so that they feel the heavy price.”[19]

 

The United States and Israel actually engage in big-time terror, like strategic bombing, helicopter attacks, torture on a continuing basis, and large-scale invasions and invasion threats, not lower-casualty-inflicting actions like occasional plane hijackings and suicide bombings.   This has long been characterized as  the difference between wholesale and retail terror, the former carried out by states and on a large scale, the latter  implemented by individuals and small groups, much smaller in scale, and causing fewer civilian victims than its wholesale counterpart.[20]  Retail terrorists don’t maintain multiple detention centers in which they employ torture (at the height of its state terror activities in the 1970s the Argentinian military maintained an estimated 60 such centers, according to Amnesty International;[21] the United States today, on land bases and naval vessels and in client state operated facilities, uses dozens of such centers).

 

Furthermore, retail terror is often sponsored by the wholesale terrorists—notoriously, the Cuban refugee network operating out of the United States for decades, the U.S.-supported Nicaraguan contras, Savimbi’s UNITA in Angola in the 1980s, backed by both South Africa and the United States, the South Lebanon Army supported by Israel for years, and the Colombian rightwing death squads still in operation, with U.S. support.  Thus, a meaningful war on terror would surely involve attacks on the United States and Israel as premier wholesale terrorists and sponsors, a notion we have yet to find expounded by a single one of the current war-on-terror proponents.

 

In short, one secret of  the widespread belief that the United States and Israel are fighting—not carrying out—terror is the remarkable capacity of the Western media and intellectual class to ignore the standard definitions of terror and the reality of who does the most terrorizing, and thus to allow the Western political establishments to use the invidious word to apply to their targets. We only retaliate and engage in “counter-terror”—our targets started it and their lesser violence is terrorism.

 

A second and closely related secret of the swallowing of war-on-terror propaganda is the ability of the swallowers to ignore the U.S. purposes and program. They never ask: Is the United States simply responding to the 9/11 attack or do its leaders have a larger agenda for which they can use 9/11 terrorism as a cover?  But this obvious question almost answers itself: Documents of the prior decade show clearly that the Bush team was openly hoping for another “Pearl Harbor” that would allow them to go on the offensive and project power in the Middle East and across the globe.  In the rightfully infamous words of the Project for the New American Century (2000), “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”[22]  The huge military forces that have been built up in this country conveniently permit this power-projection by threat and use of force, and their buildup and use has had bipartisan support, reflecting in large measure the power and objectives of the military establishment, military contractors, and transnational corporations. The military buildup was not for defensive purposes in any meaningful sense; it was for power-projection, which is to say, for offense.

 

In this connection we should point out that at the time of 9/11 in the year 2001, Al Qaeda was considered by most experts to be a small non-state operation, possibly centered in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan, but loosely sprawled across the globe, and with at most only a few thousand operatives.[23]  It is clear that such a small and diffuse operation called for an anti-crime and intelligence response, not a war.  Of course a war could be carried out against the country which was their principal home, but given the lags involved and the threat that a war, with its civilian casualties and imperialist overtones, would possibly strengthen Al Qaeda, the quick resort to war in the post-9/11 period suggests covert motives, including vengeance and taking advantage of  9/11 for power-projection.  And while a war could be launched against Afghanistan and an attack made on Al Qaeda headquarters, this was hardly a war on terror.  Nor could the huge military buildup that ensued  have been based on a fight in Afghanistan or against tiny Al Qaeda.[24]

 

It is also notable that there has been no attempt by the organizers of the war on terror  to try to stop terrorism at its source by addressing the problems that have produced the terrorists and provided their recruiting base. In fact, for the organizers and their supporters in the “war on terror,” raising the question of “why” is regarded as a form of apologetics for terror, and they are uninterested in the question, satisfied with clichés about the terrorists envy, hatred of freedom, and genetic or religious proclivities. This is consistent with the view that getting rid of terror is not their aim, and that in fact they need the steady flow of  resisters-terrorists which their actions produce to justify their real purpose of  power projection virtually without limit.  Failure to end terrorism is not a failure of the “war on terror,” it is a necessary part of its machinery of operation.   

 

In short, the war on terror is an intellectual and propaganda cover, analogous—and in many ways a successor—to the departed “Cold War,” which in its time also served as a cover for imperial expansion. Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Indonesia, Zaire (and many others) were regularly subverted or attacked on the ground of an alleged Soviet menace that had to be combated. That menace was rarely applicable to the actual cases, and the strained connection was often laughable. With that cover gone, pursuing terrorists is proving to be an admirable substitute, as once again a gullible media will accept that any targeted rebels are actual or potential terrorists and may even have links to Al Qaeda. The FARC rebels in Colombia are terrorists, but the government-supported rightwing paramilitaries who kill many more civilians than FARC are not and are the beneficiaries of U.S. “counter-terrorism” aid.  Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, on the other hand, which does not kill civilians, is accused of  lack of cooperation in the U.S. “counter-terrorism” program, and is alleged to have “links” to U.S. targets such as Iran and Cuba, which allegedly support terrorists.[25] Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, and other torture-prone states are “with us” in the war on terror; states like Venezuela, Iran and Cuba are not with us and are easily situated as terrorist or “linked” to terrorist states.

 

If Al Qaeda didn’t exist the United States would have had to create it, and of course it did create it back in the 1980s, as a means of  destabilizing the Soviet Union. Al Qaeda’s more recent role  is a classic case of “blowback.”  It is also a case of resistance to power-projection, as Al Qaeda’s terrorist activities switched from combating a Soviet occupation, to combating U.S. intervention in Saudi Arabia, Palestine and elsewhere.  It was also spurred by lagged resentment at being used by the United States for its Soviet destabilization purposes and then abandoned.[26]

 

While U.S. interventionism gave Al Qaeda a strong start, and while it continues today to facilitate Al Qaeda recruitment, it has also provoked resistance far beyond Al Qaeda, as in Iraq, where most of the resistance has nothing to do with Al Qaeda and in fact has widely turned against it. If as the United States projects power across the globe this produces resistance, and if this resistance can be labeled “terrorists,” then U.S. aggression and wholesale terror are home-free!  Any country that is willing to align with the United States can get its dissidents and resistance condemned as “terrorists,” with or without links to Al Qaeda, and get U.S. military aid. The war on terror is a war of superpower power-projection, which is to say, an imperialist war on a global scale.

 

The issue of who terrorizes whom is hardly new. Back in 1979, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism featured the U.S. terror gulag in great detail, and even had a frontispiece showing the flow of economic and military aid from the United States to 26 of the 35 countries using torture on an administrative basis in that era. Herman’s The Real Terror Network of 1982 also traced out a U.S.-sponsored terror gulag and showed its logical connection to the growth of the transnational corporation and desire for friendly state-terrorists who would produce favorable climates of investment (recall Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s statement to U.S. oil companies back at the time of his 1972 accession to power: “We’ll pass laws you need—just tell us what you want.”[27]). But these works were ignored in the mainstream and could hardly compete with Claire Sterling’s The Terror Network, which traced selected retail terrorisms—falsely—to the Soviet Union.  This fit the Reagan-era “war on terror” claims, which coincided with the Reagan era support of Israel’s attack on Lebanon and subsequent  “iron fist” terrorism there, Reagan’s support of the Argentine military regime, Suharto, Marcos, South Africa, the Guatemalan and Salvadoran terror regimes, Savimbi, the Cuban terror network, and the Nicaraguan contras.

 

This historical record of  U.S. terrorism and support of terrorism occasionally surfaces in the mainstream, but is brushed aside on the ground that the United States has taken a new course, so that long record can be ignored.  In a classic of this genre, Michael Ignatieff, writing in the New York Times Magazine, claimed that this was so because President George Bush said so!  “The democratic turn in American foreign policy has been recent,” he wrote, adding that at long last, the current George Bush has “actually risked his presidency on the premise that Jefferson might be right.”[28] This capacity to ignore history, and the institutional underpinning of that history, complements the mainstream media and intellectuals’ ability to take as a premise that the United States is virtuous and in its foreign dealings is trying to do good or is just defending itself against bad people and movements who for no good reason hate us. As noted, the amazing definitional systems in use are de facto Alice-in-Wonderland: Terrorism is anything I choose to target and so designate.

 

Two novelties of the Bush era projection of power and wholesale terrorism are their brazenness and scope.  Past U.S. employment of torture, and of gulags in which to hold and work-over alleged or possible terrorists or resisters, were more or less sub rosa, the cruelties and violations of  international law and U.S. involvement kept more or less plausibly deniable. The Bush team is open about them, calling for legalization of torture and their other violations of  international law, which they rationalize by heavy-handed redefinitions of  “torture” and claims of the inapplicability of international law to their new category of “enemy combatants.”[29] Bush also brags in public about the extension of the U.S. killing machine to distant places and the extent to which declared enemies have been removed, implicitly by killing, obviously without hearing or trial.  On September 17, 2001, Bush signed a “classified Presidential Finding that authorized an unprecedented range of covert operations,” the Washington Post later reported, including “lethal measures against terrorists and the expenditure of vast funds to coax foreign intelligence services into a new era of cooperation with the CIA.”[30] And in his State of the Union speech of 2003, Bush asserted that “more than 3,000 suspected terrorists” had been arrested across the globe “and many others have met a different fate—Let’s put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.[31] As Chris Floyd has pointed out, this represents the work of  a “universal death squad,”[32] the authorization and accomplishments of which were barely acknowledged in the mainstream media.

 

U.S. state-terrorism has also been broadened in scope and is a facet of globalization.  In accord with the principles of globalization, there has been a major increase in the privatization of  terrorism.  Blackwater Worldwide is only the best known of mercenary armies in Iraq that now outnumber regular armed force members, and who are free from some of the legal constraints of the armed forces in how they treat the local population. The global American gulag of secret prisons and torture centers to which an unknown number of people have been sent, held without trial, worked over and sometimes killed as well as tortured, is located in many countries: The “spider’s web” first described by a Council of Europe investigation identified landings and takeoffs at no fewer than 30 airports on four different continents;[33] and earlier research by Human Rights First estimated that the United States was operating dozens of major and lesser known detention centers as part of its “war on terror”: These included the obvious cases of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq, the U.S. Air Force base at Bagram in Afghanistan, Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, and other suspected centers in Pakistan, Jordan, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean,  and on U.S. Navy ships at sea.[34]  Still others are operated by client and other states at the torture-producing end of the “extraordinary rendition” chain (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Morocco).  Given the vastness of this U.S. enterprise, surely we are talking about tens-of-thousands of prisoners, a great many picked-up and tortured based on rumor, the inducement of bonus payments, denunciations in vendettas, and accidents of name or location.[35] We know that a great majority of those imprisoned in sweeps in Iraq were taken without the slightest information on wrong-doing even on aggressor-occupier terms.[36] There is strong anecdotal evidence that suggests that the same is true in Afghanistan.

 

Another notable feature of  the “war on terror” is the extent to which this mythical war has been advanced via the UN and the “international community,” the UN’s work in particular serving as an extension of U.S. policy.  This has been in marked contrast to their treatment of open aggression and violations of the UN Charter’s prohibition of aggressive war.  Time and again the United States and Israel have violated this fundamental international law during the past decade, and they are clearly the global leaders in state-terrorism that many observers believe to be the main force inspiring a global resistance and spurring on various forms of Islamic terrorism, including Al Qaeda.  But instead of focusing on the causal wars and state-terrorism, following the U.S. lead the UN and international community have focused on the lesser and derivative terrorism, and taken the “war on terror” at face value.  In other words, they have once again assumed the role of servants of U.S. policy, in this instance helping the aggressor states and wholesale terrorists struggle against the retail terror they inspire.

 

We can trace this pattern at least as far back as October 1999 (almost two years before 9/11), when the Security Council adopted Resolution 1267 “on the situation in Afghanistan.”  This Resolution deplored that the “Taliban continues to provide safe haven to Usama bin Laden,” and it demanded that the “Taliban turn over Usama bin Laden without further delay to appropriate authorities in a country where he has been indicted.”  1267 also created the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee to manage this effort to squeeze the Taliban and anyone linkable to either of them.[37]  At the time, bin Laden had been indicted by a U.S. Federal Court for his alleged involvement in the August 1998 suicide bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing some 250 people; Al Qaeda had also been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State.  “The international community has sent a clear message,” President Bill Clinton announced.  “The choice between co-operation and isolation lies with the Taliban.”  But the Taliban complained that “This unfair action was taken under the pressure of the United States….So far, there has not been any evidence of Osama’s involvement in terrorism by any one”—essentially the same retort that the Taliban made to Bush White House demands after 9/11 that the Taliban surrender bin Laden.[38]  1267 thus extended key components of the 1996 U.S. Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s category of states designated “not cooperating with U.S. anti-terrorism efforts” beyond U.S. borders to the level of internationally-enforceable law.

 

Only four days after 1267, the Council adopted companion Resolution 1269 “on the responsibility of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security.”  1269 condemned the “practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation,” and stressed the “vital role” of the UN “in combating terrorism.”[39]  Similarly, Resolution 1373, adopted shortly after the 9/11 attacks and just days before the United States launched its war to remove the Taliban, greatly expanded the UN’s involvement in the U.S. “war on terror,” creating the Counter-Terrorism Committee to manage the fight against terrorism and criminalizing all forms of support for individuals and groups engaged in terrorism.  Like 1267 and, later, 1540 (April 24, 2004), which created a committee to prevent “non-State actors” from acquiring “weapons of mass destruction,”[40] the Security Council adopted each of these resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, on the basis of which the Council is to supposed to respond to “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression.”

 

All of this vigilance with respect to “terrorism,” and the notion that “non-State actors” and “terrorists” of the Al Qaeda variety deserve this intense UN concern, stands in dramatic contrast with the treatment of literal aggression, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, and genocidal actions such as the U.S.-U.K.-UN “sanctions of mass destruction” that killed possibly a million Iraqi civilians during the years between the first and second wars against Iraq, ca. 1991-2003.[41]  Yet, in his report In larger freedom (March, 2005), Kofi Annan argued that “It is time to set aside debates on so-called ‘State terrorism’.  The use of force by States is already thoroughly regulated under international law.  And the right to resist occupation must be understood in its true meaning.  It cannot include the right to deliberately kill or maim civilians.”[42] 

 

 But these comments contain a major falsehood and reflect serious pro-state-terrorism and anti-resistance bias—there is no “thorough” regulation of state-terrorism, and in fact there is none at all, as evidenced by the fact that the United States and its allies have been able to attack  three countries in a single decade (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq) without the slightest impediment from Kofi Annan’s United Nations,[43] but also in each case with the UN’s ex post facto assent.  Note also Annan’s failure to suggest that states should not have the “right to deliberately kill or maim civilians,” a concern that he exhibits only as regards resisters to state violence and occupation.  This despite the fact that in their recent and ongoing wars the United States and its allies have killed, maimed, starved, and driven from their homes vastly more civilians than has Al Qaeda or all of the world’s retail terrorists combined.  Note also that within the targeted countries, political leaders have been captured by these aggressors, and subjected to trial by tribunals—but never the leadership of the great powers.  In pursuing their enemies to the farthest reaches of the earth, they continue to enjoyed complete impunity.[44]  

 

 

Concluding Note

 

In sum, the war on terror is a political gambit and myth used to cover over a U.S. projection of power that needed rhetorical help with the disappearance of the Soviet Union and Cold War. It has been successful because U.S. leaders could hide behind the very real 9/11 terrorist attack and pretend that their own wars, wholesale terrorist actions, and  enlarged support of  a string of countries—many authoritarian and engaged in state terrorism—were somehow linked to that attack and its Al Qaeda authors. But most U.S. military actions abroad since 9/11 have had little or  no connection with Al Qaeda; and you cannot war on a method of  struggle, especially when you, your allies and clients use those methods as well.

 

It is widely argued now that the war on terror has been a failure. This also is a fallacy, resting on the imputation of  purpose to the war’s organizers contrary to their actual aims—they were looking for and found the new “Pearl Harbor” needed to justify a surge of  U.S. force projection across the globe. It appears that Al Qaeda is stronger now than it was on September 11, 2001; but Al Qaeda was never the main target of the Bush administration.  If Al Qaeda had been, the Bush administration would have tried much more seriously to apprehend bin Laden, by military or political action, and it would not have carried out policies in Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere that have played so well into bin Laden’s hand—arguably, policy responses that bin Laden hoped to provoke. If Washington really had been worried at the post-9/11 terrorist threat it would have followed through on the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations for guarding U.S. territory (ports, chemical plants, nuclear facilities, airports and other transportation hubs, and the like).[45] The fact that it hasn’t done this, but instead has adopted a cynical and politicized system of terrorism alerts, is testimony to the administration’s own private understanding of the contrived character of the war on terror and the alleged threats that we face.

 

Admittedly, the surge in power projection that 9/11 and the war on terror facilitated has not been a complete and unadulterated success.  But the “war on terror” gambit did enable this surge to come about, and it should be recognized that  the invasion-occupation of Iraq was not a diversion, its conquest was one of the intended objectives of this war. That conquest may be in jeopardy, but looked at from the standpoint of  its organizers, the war has achieved some of the real goals for which it was designed; and in this critical but seldom appreciated sense it has been a  success. It has facilitated two U.S. military invasions of foreign countries, served to line-up many other states behind the leader of the war, helped once again to push NATO into new, out-of-area operations,  permitted a further advance in the U.S. disregard of international law, helped bring about quasi-regime changes in some major European capitals, and was the basis for the huge growth in U.S. and foreign military budgets. While its destabilization of the Middle East has possibly benefited Iran, it has given Israel a free hand in accelerated ethnic cleansing, settlements, and more ruthless treatment of  the Palestinians, and the United States and Israel still continue to threaten and isolate Iran.

 

Furthermore, with the cooperation of the Democrats and mass media, the “war on terror” gave the “decider” and his clique the political ability to impose an unconstitutional, rightwing agenda at home, at the expense of  the rule of law, economic equality, environmental and other regulation, and social solidarity.  The increased military budget and militarization of U.S. society, the explosive growth in corporate “counter-terrorism” and “homeland security” enterprises, the greater centralization of power in the executive branch, the enhanced inequality, the unimpeded growth of the prison-industrial complex, the more rightwing judiciary, and the failure of  the Democrats to do anything to counter these trends since the 2006 election, suggests that the shift to the right and to a more militarized society and expansionist foreign policy may have become permanent features of life in the United States.  Is that not a war on terror success story, given the aims of  its creators?

 

 

 

  —- Endnotes —-

 

 


[1] We will use the phrases ‘war on terror’ and ‘war on terrorism’ interchangeably.  Nor are we aware of any nuance in meaning to be gained by distinguishing one phrase from the other.  This caveat also holds for the similar phrase ‘global war on terror’.  (Etc.) 

[2] See, e.g., Francis Fukuyama, America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy (Yale University Press, 2006).  Along with 24 others that included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Lewis Libby, Paula Dobriansky, and Norman Podhoretz, Fukuyama was a founding member of the Project for the New American Century, whose efforts to “rally support for the cause of American global leadership” and a “Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity” the world continues to suffer beneath.—See the Project’s “Statement of Principles,” June 3, 1997.

[3] Frank Rich, Where Were You That Summer of 2001?” New York Times, February 25, 2007; The Wiretappers That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” January 8, 2006; and Noun + Verb + 9/11 + Iran = Democrats’ Defeat?” New York Times, November 4, 2007.

[4] Samantha Power, “Our War on Terror,” New York Times Book Review, July 29, 2007.—Power also used this review to lavish praise on the recently updated The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (University of Chicago Press, 2007), assembled by U.S. Army General David Petraeus et al., the current commander of the U.S.-led Multinational Force in occupied Iraq, along with critical input from members of the humanitarian brigades, including Sarah Sewall, a colleague of Power’s at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

[5] Note that Samantha Power implies that an “American [bombing] attack on what turns out to be a wedding party” is a unique and excusable “error.”  This is false.  It was not even the only wedding party bombed in Iraq and Afghanistan by U.S. forces, and the notable feature of both U.S. wars in these countries is the lavish use of devastatingly powerful explosives in places where civilian casualties are certain.  In Afghanistan, the United States has bombed every kind of civilian infrastructure—dams, telephone exchanges, schools, power stations, bridges, trucks on roads, mosques, Al Jazeera radio, and even the well-marked Red Cross facilities in Kabul. It has also used cluster bombs on a massive scale. In his exhaustive analysis of civilian casualties, Marc W. Herold states that the 3,000-3,400 civilian deaths resulting from U.S. bombing in the period October 7, 2001 – March 2002 can be explained best by “the low value put upon Afghan civilian lives by U.S. military planners and the political elite, as clearly revealed by their willingness to bomb heavily populated areas.”  He concludes that “the U.S. bombing campaign which began on the evening of October 7th, has been a war upon the people, the homes, the farms and the villages of Afghanistan, as well as upon the Taliban and Al Qaeda.”  (Marc W. Herold, “A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan,” Revised Edition, March 2002.)  This bombing war relied heavily on people like Samantha Power and the media to keep the ruthlessly anti-civilian character of this war out of public sight.  (Also see Tom Engelhardt, ‘Accidents’ of War: The Time Has Come for an Honest Discussion of Air Power,” TomDispatch, July 9, 2007.)

[6] What We’re Fighting For: A Letter from America, Institute for American Values, February, 2002. This document is also reproduced in David Blankenhorn et al., The Islam/West Debate: Documents from a Global Debate on Terrorism, U.S. Policy, and the Middle East (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), pp. 21-40.

[7] For a critique of this notion of civilian deaths as “collateral damage,” a legal ploy by which Americans distinguish the “unintended” deaths caused by their “far more terrifying violence” from the “premeditated” deaths caused by enemies, see Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity (Pluto Press, 2004), pp. 46-56.

[8] In their discussion “A Just War?” the Institute for American Values asserted: “Although in some circumstances, and within strict limits, it can be morally justifiable to undertake military actions that may result in the unintended but foreseeable death or injury of some noncombatants, it is not morally acceptable to make the killing of noncombatants the operational objective of a military action.” They continued: “On September 11, 2001, a group of individuals deliberately attacked the United States….Those who died on the morning of September 11 were killed unlawfully, wantonly, and with premeditated malice – a kind of killing that, in the name of precision, can only be described as murder….Those who slaughtered more than 3,000 persons on September 11 and who, by their own admission, want nothing more than to do it again, constitute a clear and present danger to all people of good will everywhere in the world, not just the United States.  Such acts are a pure example of naked aggression against innocent human life, a world-threatening evil that clearly requires the use of force to remove it.”  (What We’re Fighting For: A Letter from America, Institute for American Values, February, 2002.)    

[9] Richard Falk, “A Just Response,” The Nation, October 8, 2001; and “Defining a Just War,” The Nation, October 29, 2001.—To his credit, Falk was under no illusions that the Cheney – Bush regime would heed any limits on the use of force.

[10] Peter Beinart, “A Fighting Faith,” New Republic, December 13, 2004 (as posted to the Free Republic website).  Also see his The Good Fight: Why Liberals-and Only LiberalsCan Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again (HarperCollins, 2006).

[11] David Cole and Jules Lobel, “Why We’re Losing the War on Terror,” The Nation, September 24, 2007.  Also see their Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror (The New Press, 2007), esp. Ch. 5, “The Costs of Overreaching,” pp. 129-146. 

[12]OSI Forum—Less Safe, Less Free,” Open Society Institute, November 14, 2007. —David Cole’s own words were: “I just don’t see anybody around the world who has questioned the notion that the United States has the right to respond to the attacks that we suffered [on September 11, 2001] by going to Afghanistan.  There are people who say it wasn’t the best policy.  But no one argued it was not a legitimate act of self-defense.”  And: “If you have the right to go to waryou have the right to kill the people you’re fighting againstsurely you have the right to hold them for the duration of that conflict.  So that’s not a controversial issue.  And holding them at Guantanamo would not have been controversial practice had we given them hearings at the outset.  Which, for one, would have identified those people as to whom we had no evidence that they were involved with Al Qaeda  and then they would be releasedand then we wouldn’t have the problem of innocent people being held at Guantanamo.”  (Our transcription picks-up Cole’s remarks beginning at approximately the 49:35 minute mark of the full-length audio clip.) 

[13] “The charges in the Indictment that the defendants planned and waged aggressive wars are charges of the utmost gravity. War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”  See Final Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals (September 30, 1946), specifically “The Common Plan or Conspiracy and Aggressive War,” from which this passage derives.

[14] According to Radio Voice of Shari’ah in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of Balkh province in northern Afghanistan, “senior officials” of the Taliban released a statement as early as September 13, 2001 in which they “honestly asked America to give clear and substantial evidence for what it considers Usamah to be responsible for, and the [Taliban] will hand him over to one of the Islamic courts of the world in order to be tried. The stance of the [Taliban] is clear in this regard. Otherwise, nobody can accuse others by bringing false and groundless allegations.” In the same statement, the Taliban “condemn” the events of 9/11, calling them “against the welfare and interests of the world.”  The Taliban also “expresses its sympathy for the American people,” adding that it “expects the USA not to resort to irreparable measures before discovering the facts.”  (“Afghan Taleban ready to hand Bin-Ladin to Islamic court if USA provides evidence – radio,” BBC Monitoring Central Asia, September 13, 2001.)  News of this and subsequent offers communicated by Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the Taliban’s foreign minister, and by Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban’s ambassador to Pakistan, were reported by Reuters, The Herald (Glasgow), the New York Times, the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe, and The Independent (London).  But as the record makes clear, no one will ever know how genuine these offers really werethe Bush White House categorically rejected them, and the offers died there.

[15] Among the professors of law at U.S. universities who contested the legality of the U.S. war on Afghanistan are Marjorie Cohn, currently president of the National Lawyers Guild, Michael Ratner, now president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Francis Boyle, Brian Foley, Jordan Paust, and John Quigley.

[16] See “Gallup International poll on terrorism in the U.S. (figures),” Gallup International, late September, 2001.  Also see Abid Aslam, “Polls Question Global Support for Military Campaign,” Inter-Press Service, October 8, 2001; and David Miller, “World Opinion Opposed the Attack on Afghanistan,” Sterling Media Research Center, Scotland, November 21, 2001 (as posted to the Religion-online website).  Miller noted that “When polling companies do ask about alternatives [to the war-option], support for war falls away.”  Hence, he added, this was the reason why so much news media coverage systematically distorts the facts away from informing people about real alternatives and the real impact of the war on Afghanistan.  In Pakistan, a case with great resonance today, a Gallup International poll sponsored by Newsweek in the early days after the start of the U.S. war found that “Eighty-three percent of Pakistanis surveyed say they side with the Taliban, with a mere 3 percent expressing support for the United States.”  (“Shifting Sympathies,” Newsweek Web Exclusive, October 18, 2001.) 

[17] Here we are content to cite two definitions of terrorism.  (1) “[V]violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;” and that “appear to be intended – (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping….”  (United States Code, Title 18, Part I, Ch. 113B, Section 2331, 1984.)  And (2) “Any action…that is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”  (A more secure world: Our shared responsibility. Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats (New York: United Nations, 2004), par. 164(d).)

[18] Abba Eban, “Morality and Warfare,” Jerusalem Post, August 16, 1981.

[19] In Matt Rees, “Streets Red With Blood,” Time Magazine, March 10, 2002. 

[20] See, e.g., Edward S. Herman, The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda (South End Press, 1982), esp. Ch. 2, “The Semantics and Role of Terrorism,” pp. 21-45; and with Gerry O’Sullivan, The “Terrorism” Industry: The Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror (Pantheon Books, 1989), esp. Ch. 3, “The Western Model and Semantics of Terrorism,” pp. 37-51.

[21] Oscar Alfredo González and Horacio Cid de la Paz, Testimony on Secret Detention Camps in Argentina (Amnesty International, 1980).

[22] Thomas Donnelly et al., Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century, Project for the New American Century, September, 2000, p. 51, col. 1.—Also see n. 2, above.

[23] The last major “terrorism” report by the U.S. Department of State prior to 9/11 was Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000 (April 30, 2001).  Within its Appendix B, “Background Information on Terrorist Groups,” the entry for “al-Qaida” stated that the group “May have several hundred to several thousand members,” adding that “Bin Ladin…is said to have inherited approximately $300 million that he uses to finance the group.”  In the Congressional Research Services’ last major assessment of “Near Eastern Terrorism” published the day before 9/11, the CRS reported that “Bin Ladin is estimated to have about $300 million in personal financial assets with which he funds his network of as many as 3,000 Islamic militants.”  (Kenneth Katzman, Terrorism: Near Eastern Groups and State Sponsors, 2001, Congressional Research Service, September 10, 2001, p. 13.) 

[24] According to conservative estimates on global military trends in the annual Yearbook published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, whereas the last Clinton budget for fiscal year 2001 devoted $345 billion to military account, by fiscal year 2006, Bush’s fifth, this had increased to at least $529 billion (i.e., both in constant 1985 dollars).  The SIPRI Yearbook 2007 reports that “U.S. outlays…increased by 53 percent…between 2001 and 2006, primarily as a result of allocations of $381 billion for military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.”  World military expenditure in 2001 was $839 billion, but by 2006 was “estimated to have reached $1204 billion in current U.S. dollars,” an increase of “37 percent between 1997 and 2006.”  The primary driver of these huge increases: The mythical Global War on Terror which, in reality, has witnessed the most aggressive U.S. and allied military expansion in history.  (See SIPRI Yearbook 2002 Summary, pp. 12-13; and SIPRI Yearbook 2007 Summary, pp. 12-13.)

[25] See, e.g., Larry Birns and Michael Lettieri,  “Washington May Soon Try to Pin the Venezuelan Uranium Tail on the Iranian Nuclear Donkey,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, May 9, 2006; and Larry Birns and Tiffany Isaacs, “Chávez Could Fuel U.S. Propaganda Campaign with Upcoming Bilateral talks with Kim Jong Il, If Misguided Strategy Is Adopted,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, July 16, 2006.

[26] See Chalmers Johnson, Abolish the CIA!,” TomDispatch, November 5, 2004.  Also see Johnson’s Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, 2nd. Ed. (Metropolitan Books, 2004). 

[27] “Philippines: A government that needs U.S. business,” Business Week, November 4, 1972.

[28]  Michael Ignatieff, Who Are Americans to Think That Freedom Is Theirs to Spread?”  New York Times Magazine, June 26, 2005 (as posted to the Harvard University website).

[29] See, e.g., Marjorie Cohn, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law (PoliPoint Press, 2007).

[30] Dana Priest, “Foreign Network at Front of CIA’s Terror Fight,” Washington Post, November 18, 2005.

[31] George W. Bush, “President Delivers ‘State of the Union’,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, January 28, 2003.

[32] Chris Floyd, “Sacred Terror,” Moscow Times, December 8, 2005 (as posted by the Information Clearing House).

[33] Dick Marty et al., Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states (Doc. 10957), Council of Europe, June 12, 2006,.  Annex, “The global ‘spider’s web’.”  Also see Christos Pourgourides et al., Enforced Disappearances (Doc. 10679), Council of Europe, September 19, 2005; and Dick Marty et al., Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states: Second report (AS/Jur/2007/36), Council of Europe, June 7, 2007.

[34] Deborah Pearlstein et al., Ending Secret Detentions, Human Right First, June, 2004.

[35] Also see Deborah Pearlstein and Priti Patel, Behind the Wire: An Update to Ending Secret Detentions, Human Rights First, March, 2005; and Guantanamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power, Amnesty International, May 13, 2005. 

[36] Based on interviews that it conducted in late 2003 and early 2004 with U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq, a confidential report that the International Committee of the Red Cross used to highlight prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and other prisons run by the occupying forces is reputed to have estimated that “70 percent to 90 percent of prisoners had been wrongly arrested”—and, we might add, this is assuming that the occupying forces had any right to arrest anybody.  See Peter Slevin, “System Failures Cited for Delayed Action on Abuses,” Washington Post, May 20, 2004; and R. Jeffrey Smith, “Army Report Warned in November About Prison Problems,” Washington Post, May 30, 2004.

[37] Resolution 1267 (S/RES/1267), October 15, 1999. 

[38] Anthony Goodman, “UN sanctions on Taliban to surrender Bin Laden force,” The Independent, October 16, 1999; “Taleban slams U.N. sanctions over Osama bin Laden,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, October 16, 1999.—Among the body of statements attributed to bin Laden over many years are several that identify the United Nations with the United States precisely because, in his view, various agencies of the UN have aligned themselves with the U.S. “war on terror.”

[39] Resolution 1269 (S/RES/1269), October 19, 1999.  Barbara Crossette, “U.N. Council in Rare Accord: Fight Terrorism,” New York Times, October 20, 1999.

[40] Resolution 1373 (S/RES/1373), September 28, 2001; Resolution 1540 (S/RES/1540), April 28, 2004.

[41] John Mueller and Karl Mueller, “Sanctions of Mass Destruction,” Foreign Affairs, May/June, 1999.—These authors noted that economic sanctions (i.e., warfare) have been “deployed frequently, by large states rather than small ones, and may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history….The destructive potential of economic sanctions can be seen most clearly, albeit in an extreme form, in Iraq….No one knows with any precision how many Iraqi civilians have died as a result, but various agencies of the United Nations, which oversees the sanctions, have estimated that they have contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths….If the U.N. estimates of the human damage in Iraq are even roughly correct,…it would appear that…economic sanctions may well have been a necessary cause of the deaths of more people in Iraq than have been slain by all so-called weapons of mass destruction throughout history.”

[42] Kofi Annan, In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all (A/59/2005), United Nations, March 21, 2005, par. 91.

[43] In the case of Operation Allied Force, the U.S.-led NATO bloc’s 1999 aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Kofi Annan had quietly advocated on behalf of war for as many as nine months in advance of it.—See, e.g., Kofi Annan, “Secretary-General Reflects on Intervention” (SG/SM/6613), Ditchley Foundation Lecture, United Kingdom, June 26, 1998; and Kofi Annan, “Secretary-General Calls for Unconditional Respect for Human Rights of Kosovo Citizens” (SG/SM/6878), NATO Headquarters, Belgium, January 28, 1999.  As Annan delivered these lectures in the context of NATO’s threats of war, we hardly believe that they can be taken as calls for NATO to stand down. 

[44] In the Legality of Use of Force cases (1999 – 2004), brought by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia against ten of the members of NATO that attacked it in 1999, the International Court of Justice ruled that as the defendant-powers refused to recognize the ICJ’s jurisdiction in the cases brought before it by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the ICJ “manifestly lacks jurisdiction to entertain Yugoslavia’s Application” and “cannot therefore indicate any provisional measure whatsoever”—that is, lacking jurisdiction, it cannot issue an injunction or rule on the legality of NATO’s use of force.  (See, e.g., Yugoslavia v. United States of America, June 2, 1999.  Each of the other nine cases wound up the same.)

[45] The 9/11 Commission Report, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, July 22, 2004, esp. Ch. 12, “What To Do? A Global Strategy,” and Ch. 13, “ How To Do It? A Different Way of Organizing the Government.”  As recently as the first week of January 2008, former Commission co-chairs Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton complained about the CIA’s withholding of evidence and obstruction of the Commission’s inquiry.  See “Stonewalled by the C.I.A.,” New York Times, January 2, 2008.

None Dare Call It Treason

January 28, 2008
None Dare Call It Treason
Who is stealing our nuclear secrets – and why are they being shielded by the authorities?
by Justin Raimondo

The Valerie Plame case is, by journalistic standards, ancient history, and naturally any follow-up on a once-important story is considered bad form. Yet there is an interesting – and rather scary – new twist to the narrative. It turns out that Scooter Libby and friends weren’t the first to “out” CIA agent Plame, whose alleged employer, a company known as Brewster Jennings, was really a cover for a CIA unit investigating nuclear proliferation issues.

The London Times reveals that a former top U.S. State Department official tipped off Turkish agents about Brewster Jennings’ CIA connection, according to Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator assigned to produce English-language transcripts of intercepted conversations of Turkish targets – in this case recordings of Turkish embassy officials and a top State Department official discussing, among other things, Brewster Jennings’ relationship to the CIA.

As the Times reports, the recordings were made “between the summer and autumn of 2001. At that time, foreign agents were actively attempting to acquire the West’s nuclear secrets and technology. Among the buyers were Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s intelligence agency, which was working with Abdul Qadeer Khan, the ‘father of the Islamic bomb,’ who in turn was selling nuclear technology to rogue states such as Libya.”

Plame and her unit were onto a black market nuclear network, run as a cooperative effort by the intelligence agencies of Pakistan, Turkey, and Israel. Accordingly, the Turks were lured into hiring Brewster-Jennings as “consultants,” but when the high U.S. official learned of this, says Edmonds, he “contacted one of the foreign targets and said … you need to stay away from Brewster Jennings because they are a cover for the government. The target … immediately followed up by calling several people to warn them about Brewster Jennings. At least one of them was at the ATC [American Turkish Council]. This person also called an ISI person to warn them.”

The Israeli connection is what’s interesting about this covert operation, because it involves U.S. citizens, high government officials who have been part of an ongoing investigation that dates back to at least 1999, the earliest year mentioned in the AIPAC indictment. As Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay of McClatchy News Service reported in 2004:

“Several U.S. officials and law-enforcement sources said yesterday that the scope of the FBI probe of Pentagon intelligence activities appeared to go well beyond the [Larry] Franklin matter.

“FBI agents have briefed top White House, Pentagon, and State Department officials on the probe. Based on those briefings, officials said, the bureau appears to be looking into other controversies that have roiled the Bush administration, some of which also touch [Douglas] Feith’s office.

“They include how the Iraqi National Congress, a former exile group backed by the Pentagon, allegedly received highly classified U.S. intelligence on Iran; the leaking of the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters; and the production of bogus documents suggesting that Iraq tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons from the African country of Niger. Bush repeated the Niger claim in making the case for war against Iraq.

“‘The whole ball of wax’ was how one U.S. official privy to the briefings described the inquiry.”

The whole ball of wax is a pretty tall order, but surely a major part of it is this nuclear black market business that Edmonds has clear evidence of. Edmonds has been subjected to an unprecedented gag order, imposed by a judge in the name of preserving “state secrets” – yet what is being preserved, apparently, aren’t state secrets at all but the knowledge that our nuclear secrets are being stolen and sold to the highest bidder with the active collaboration of high U.S. government officials. A whole gallery of top figures has been fingered by Edmonds, who hasn’t mentioned any names yet has managed to identify the guilty parties by posting their photos on a Web site associated with her case.

The lack of coverage of this amazing – and quite frightening – story in the U.S. media is easily explained: anything having to do with the activities of Israeli intelligence in this country is sure to sink beneath the radar, although the London Times and a good number of international news outlets have picked up the details. What isn’t so easily explained is the cover-up of criminal activities, including treason, by our very own Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Times, seeking corroboration of Edmonds’ story, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, asking for a particular document:

“One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file.”

Who is protecting what I called this treasonous camarilla from prosecution – and why have successive investigations into a number of activities by the same cabal of government officials been closed down, repeatedly, over the years?

As Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark point out in their new book, Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy, the network associated with Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan continues to operate in Europe, the Gulf, and Southeast Asia through a series of front companies. They cite a study produced by the BND, Germany’s intelligence agency, that found Pakistan is procuring nuclear-related materials and technology far in excess of its needs, leading experts to suspect they’re funneling their nuclear assets into a global black market operation. The chilling conclusion of the authors ought to send shivers down your spine:

“Most alarming was the finding that hundreds of thousands of components amassed by Khan had vanished since he had been put out of operation. In other words, Pakistan has continued to sell nuclear weapons technology (to clients known and unknown) even as Musharraf denies it – which means either that the sales are being carried out with his secret blessing or that he is no more in control of Pakistan’s nuclear program than he is of the bands of jihadis in his country.”

The Pakistanis think they are above reproach, at least publicly, by the U.S. authorities, and this strange immunity may have lethal consequences for us all:

“In 2001, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, had proof that Osama bin Laden had received in person two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists at his secret HQ in Afghanistan. Both had become Islamist radicals in retirement.

“According to the son of one of them, bin Laden told them he had succeeded in acquiring highly enriched uranium from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and he wanted their help to turn it into a bomb. Amazed, they explained that while they could help with the science of fissile materials, they were not weapons designers.

“Soon afterwards, a secret army audit discovered evidence that 40 canisters of highly enriched uranium (HEU), the feedstuff for a nuclear bomb, were missing from the Kahuta enrichment labs outside Islamabad after A.Q. Khan retired. Dr. Muhammad Shafiq ur-Rehman, an insider who is the son of one of Khan’s former key aides, revealed: ‘They could only account for 80 out of a supposed 120 canisters.'”

Okay, so let’s see where this brings us: an underground network of spies and corrupt public officials is selling nuclear secrets worldwide, and al-Qaeda may very well have gotten its hands on enough lethal materials to make roughly 1,000 “dirty” bombs. Not only that, but the public officials and Washington insiders connected to this network are being protected from prosecution. The case files that document their treason have been withheld, and possibly destroyed.

Our brain-dead media, our kept pundits, and the “mainstream” outlets that determine if and when a news story is “legitimate” have systematically ignored the allegations of Sibel Edmonds, in spite of numerous endorsements of her credibility from two respected U.S. senators, the FBI’s Office of the Inspector General, and numerous current and former FBI agents who share her frustration with the shameless cover-up of this important case. It is absolutely outrageous that not a single major news organization in the U.S. has bothered to examine the charges made by Edmonds – especially when it is known that Islamist groups are still planning attacks on Western targets.

None Dare Call It Treason was the title of a ubiquitous right-wing screed of the 1960s, remembered more for its high camp value than for anything the author had to say, but I’ve always wanted to use it as the title of a column. Now that I’ve managed to do it, it doesn’t seem half as funny anymore.

Is it really time to consider moving to, say, a Pacific atoll and waiting out the catastrophe looming just down the road a bit? I never thought I’d say that, being temperamentally and ideologically opposed to “dropping out,” but one wonders, in the face of such a massive cover-up of this appalling danger to our immediate safety, if that isn’t the only alternative.

“We Can’t Afford to Let Them Spill the Beans” Edmonds on Grossman by Gary Leupp

January 28, 2008

“We Can’t Afford to Let Them Spill the Beans” Edmonds on Grossman by Gary Leupp

Dandelion Salad

by Gary Leupp
Dissident Voice
January 28th, 2008
Sibel Edmonds on Marc Grossman

I am not one to easily embrace conspiracy theories, and in particular have found the idea that 9-11 was somehow an inside job too incredible for serious consideration. On the other hand, there are some very fishy aspects to some officials’ behavior pertaining to the attacks. Justin Raimondo has made a very good case for the fact that Mossad agents posing as “Israeli art students” were tracking al-Qaeda operatives in the U.S. before 9/11.

Over 120 Israelis were detained after 9/11, some failing polygraph tests when asked about their involvement in intelligence gathering. But they were not held or charged with any illegal activity but rather deported. As former FBI translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has revealed, there was a curious failure of the government before 9/11 to act upon intelligence pertaining to an al-Qaeda attack. Most importantly Edmonds, defying the gag order that former Attorney General Ashcroft imposed on her in 2002, is implicating Marc Grossman, formerly the number three man in the State Department, in efforts to provide US nuclear secrets to Pakistan and Israel. She suggests this was done through Turkish and Pakistani contacts, including the former head of Pakistan’s ISI who funneled funds to Mohamed Atta! Now there’s a conspiracy for you.

Edmonds claims that during her time at the FBI (September 20, 2001 to March 22, 2002) she discovered that intelligence material had been deliberately allowed to accumulate without translation; that inept translators were retained and promoted; and that evidence for traffic in nuclear materials was ignored. More shockingly, she charges that Grossman arranged for Turkish and Israeli Ph.D. students to acquire security clearances to Los Alamos and other nuclear facilities; and that nuclear secrets they acquired were transmitted to Pakistan and to Abdul Qadeer Khan, the “father of the Islamic bomb,” who in turn was selling nuclear technology to Libya and other nations.

She links Grossman to the former Pakistani military intelligence chief Mahmoud Ahmad, a patron of the Taliban, who reportedly arranged for a payment of $100,000 to 9/11 ringleader Atta via Pakistani terrorist Saeed Sheikh before the attacks. She suggests that he warned Pakistani and Turkish contacts against dealings with the Brewster Jennings Corp., the CIA front company that Valerie Plame was involved in as part of an effort to infiltrate a nuclear smuggling ring. All very heady stuff, published this month in The Times of London (and largely ignored by the U.S. media).

She does not identify Grossman by name in the Times article, but she has in the past, and former CIA officer Philip Giraldi does so in an extremely interesting article in the American Conservative. From that and many other sources, I come up with the timeline that appears below.

But first, some background on Grossman. A graduate of UC Santa Barbara and the London School of Economics, he was a career Foreign Service officer from 1976 when he began to serve at the US embassy in Pakistan. He continued in that post to 1983, when he became the Deputy Director of the Private Office of Lord Carrington, the Secretary General of NATO. From 1989 to 1992 he was Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Turkey, and from 1994 to 1997, US Ambassador to Turkey. As ambassador he strongly supported massive arms deals between the US and Ankara.

Thereafter he was Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, responsible for over 4,000 State Department employees posted in 50 sites abroad with a program budget of $1.2 billion to 2000. In 1999 he played a leading role in orchestrating NATO’s 50th anniversary Summit in Washington, and helped direct US participation in NATO’s military campaign in Kosovo that same year. As Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from the beginning of George W. Bush’s administration to January 2005, he played a bit role in the Plame Affair, informing “Scooter” Libby of Plame’s CIA affiliation.

Grossman is close to the American Turkish Council (ATC) founded in 1994 as a sister organization to the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). Its founders include neoconservatives involved in the Israel-Turkey relationship, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, as well as Henry Kissinger, Brent Snowcroft and former congressman Stephen Solarz. (Perle and Feith had earlier been registered lobbyists for Turkey through Feith’s company, International Advisors Inc. Perle was at one point making $600,000 per year from such activity). Edmonds says this is “an association in name and in charter only; the reality is that it and other affiliated associations are the US government, lobbyists, foreign agents, and Military Industrial Complex.” (M. Christine Vick of Grossman’s Cohen Group serves on the Board of Advisors.) Grossman is also close to the American Turkish Association (ATA), and regularly speaks at its events.

Both ATA and ATC have been targets of FBI investigations because of their suspected ties with drug smuggling, but Edmonds claims she heard wiretaps connecting ATC with other illegal activities, some related to 9/11. The CIA has investigated it in connection with the smuggling of nuclear secrets and material. Valerie Plame and the CIA front group Brewster Jennings were monitoring it when Bush administration officials leaked her identity in July 2003. Edmonds, Giraldi, and researchers Christopher Deliso and Luke Ryland accuse him of suspiciously enriching himself while in government service. Nevertheless he was awarded the Foreign Service’s highest rank when President Bush appointed him to the rank of Career Ambassador in 2004, and received Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award the following year.

A dual Israeli-American national, Grossman has promoted the neocon agenda of forcing “regime change” in the Middle East. “[T]he time has come now,” he declared on the eve of the Iraq invasion, “to make a stand against this kind of connection between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. And we think Iraq is a place to make that stand first . . . the great threat today is the nexus between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.” But he has not been as conspicuous a war advocate as Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Libby, Bolton, and some others. (Perle and Feith, one should note, were also deeply involved in lobbying activities on behalf of Turkey as well as Israel in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Edelman was ambassador to Turkey 2003-05 where, chagrined by the Turkish failure to enthusiastically support the US occupation of Iraq, he deeply offended his hosts.) Grossman seems less an ideologue driven to make the world safer for Israel than a corrupt, amoral, self-aggrandizing opportunist. Anyway, here is an incomplete chronology of his alleged wrongdoing, along with other relevant details.

2001

As newly appointed Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Grossman assists Turkish, Israeli and other moles — mainly Ph.D. students — godfathering visa and arranging for security clearances to work in sensitive research facilities, including the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico. FBI taps his phone 2001-2, finds he is receiving bribes (one for $15,000). Edmonds states: “I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of 2½ years. There are almost certainly more.”

Between August and September: Grossman warns his Turkish associates seeking to acquire nuclear secrets that Brewster Jennings (for whom CIA agent Valerie Plame works) is a CIA front.

Sept. 4: Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad, the chief of Pakistan ’s intelligence service (ISI) arrives in US, meets with Grossman and other U.S. officials.

Sept. 10: Report by Amir Mateen in Pakistani newspaper Dawn ( Karachi ): “[Ahmad] also held long parleys with unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon. But the most important meeting was with Mark Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. US sources would not furnish any details beyond saying that the two discussed ‘matters of mutual interests.’”

Sept. 11: Gen. Ahmad is having breakfast in Washington with Congressman Porter Goss (R-Fla.) and Senator Bob Graham (D) when attacks occur.

(Goss had had 10 years in clandestine operations in CIA and later — September 22, 2003-May 5, 2006 — heads the organization. Graham and Goss later are the co-chairs of the joint House-Senate investigation that proclaimed there was “no smoking gun” as far as President George W. Bush having any advance knowledge of September 11.)

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, FBI arrests people suspected of being involved with the attacks — including four Turkish and Pakistani associates of key targets of FBI’s counterintelligence operations. Sibel heard the targets tell Grossman: “We need to get them out of the U.S. because we can’t afford for them to spill the beans.” Grossman facilitates their release from jail and suspects immediately leave US without further investigation or interrogation.

Sept. 12-13: Meetings between Ahmad and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Armitage threatens to bomb Pakistan “back to the Stone Age” unless it cooperates in US attack on Afghanistan. Ahmad also meets Secretary of State Colin Powell. Agreement on Pakistan’s collaboration is secured.

Sept. 20: Sibel Edmonds, a 32-year-old Turkish-American, hired as a translator by the FBI.

According to Edmonds, she overheard an agent on a 2000 wiretap discussing with Saudi businessmen in Detroit “nuclear information that had been stolen from an air force base in Alabama,” and stating: “We have a package and we’re going to sell it for $250,000.” She also claims she listened to recordings of a high official (Grossman) receiving bribes from Turkish officials.

Early October: Indian intelligence reports that Gen. Ahmad had in summer of 2001 ordered Saeed Sheikh (convicted of the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl) to wire US$100,000 from Dubai to one of hijacker Mohamed Atta’s two bank accounts in Florida. FBI confirms story, reported on ABC news.

Oct. 7: US-led Coalition begins air strikes against Taliban.

Oct. 8: Gen. Ahmad, Taliban supporter and an opponent of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, forced to retire from his post as director-general of ISI.

Late Oct.: Pakistani government arrests three Pakistani nuclear scientists, all with close ties to Khan, for their suspected connections with the Taliban.

2002

Early March: Edmonds sends faxes to Senators Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy on the Judiciary Committee, is called in for polygraph test; Department of Justice inspector general’s report states “she was not deceptive in her answers.”

March: Grossman keynote speaker at ATC conference.

March 22: Edmunds fired, allegedly for shoddy work, security breaches.

Oct. 27: Edmonds appears on CBS’ 60 Minutes program.

Dec: Grossman visits Turkey, approves $3 billion US aid to Turkey for the Iraq Cooperation deal.

2003

March 3: In interview for Dutch television, Grossman says, “[T]he time has come now to make a stand against this kind of connection between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. And we think Iraq is a place to make that stand first . . . the great threat today is the nexus between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.”

May 29: Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff “Scooter” Libby asks Grossman for information about news report about the secret envoy sent by the CIA to Africa in 2002. Grossman requests a classified memo from Carl Ford, the director of the State Department’s intelligence bureau, and later orally briefs Libby on its contents.

Mid-June: Powell and his deputy secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy of the Grossman memo.

June 10: Grossman asks the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) for a briefing on the Niger uranium issue, and specifically the State Department’s opposition to the continuing White House view that Iraq had tried to buy yellow cake. The resulting memo is dated the same day, and drawn from notes on the February 19 meeting at the CIA on the Wilson mission and other sources. Memo is classified “Top Secret,” and contains in one paragraph, separately marked “(S/NF)” for “Secret/No dissemination to foreign governments or intelligence agencies,” two sentences describing in passing Valerie “Wilson’s” identity as a CIA operative and her role in the inception of the Wilson trip to Niger. This June 10 memo reportedly does not use her maiden name Plame.

June 17-July 9: Senate Judiciary Committee holds unclassified hearings on Edmunds’ allegations.

June 19: letter from Senior Republican Senator, Charles Grassley, and Senior Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine concerning Edmonds’ allegations.

July 14: Robert Novak reveals Plame’s CIA identity.

July 22: Edmonds files suit against the Department of Justice, the FBI, and several high-level officials, alleging that she was wrongfully terminated from the FBI in retaliation for reporting criminal activities committed by government employees.

Aug. 13: letter from two senators to Attorney General Ashcroft concerning Sibel Edmonds’ allegations.

Aug. 15: 600 victims of the 9/11 attacks file suit (Burnett v. Al Baraka Investment & Dev. Corp.), request from Edmonds deposition providing evidence for US government foreknowledge of 9-11 attacks.

Sept. 22: Goss made CIA Director (resigns May 5, 2006).

Oct. 18, 2002: Attorney General John Ashcroft invokes the State Secrets Privilege (requested not by Justice Department but by State department) in order to prevent disclosure of the nature of Edmonds’ work on the grounds that it would endanger national security, and asked that her wrongful termination suit be dismissed, in effect placing Edmonds under a gag order.

Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Ca.) expresses outrage at gag order, promises that a Democratic majority in Congress would conduct hearings. (This has not been done.)

Oct. 28: Letter from two senators to FBI Director Robert Mueller concerning Sibel Edmonds’ allegations.

Dec. 11, 2003, Attorney General Ashcroft again invoking the State Secrets Privilege, files a motion calling for Edmonds’ deposition in Burnett v. Al Baraka case be suppressed and for the entire case to be dismissed. The judge, seeking more information, orders government to produce any unclassified material relating to the case. In response, Ashcroft submits further statements to justify the use of the State Secrets Privilege.

Dec: Grossman back in Turkey to approve Turkey ’s eligibility to participate in tenders for Iraq’s reconstruction.

2004

Grossman achieves Foreign Service’s highest rank when President Bush appoints him to rank of Career Ambassador.

Patrick Leahy calls for investigation; Sen. Orrin Hatch, Republican Chairman of the Senate, blocks it.

May 13: Ashcroft retroactively classifies all material that had been provided to Senate Judiciary Committee in 2000 relating to Edmond’s lawsuit, as well as the senators’ letters that had already been posted on-line by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

June 23: POGO files lawsuit against Justice Department for classifying material it had published; Justice Department fails to get the case dismissed.

July 6: Edmonds suit dismissed on state secrets grounds.

July: Edmonds files appeal. On same day, Inspector General releases unclassified summary of a highly classified report on an investigation that had concluded “that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services. . . Rather than investigate Edmonds’ allegations vigorously and thoroughly, the FBI concluded that she was a disruption and terminated her contract.”

August: Edmonds founds the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) to address US security weaknesses.

December: Grossman the key speaker at an ATC Conference held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

2005

Grossman receives Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award.

January: Grossman quits his government job. Eric Edelman, another former ambassador to Turkey, takes job of Under Secretary of Defence for Policy.

January: Pakistani nuclear engineer A.Q. Khan confesses to having been involved in a clandestine international network of nuclear weapons technology proliferation from Pakistan to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

Feb. 5: Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf announces he has pardoned Khan. US response is mild.

March: Grossman made vice-chairman of Cohen Group.

Feb. 18: Justice Department under new attorney general backs away from claim that documents posted by POGO were classified.

April 21: In the hours before the hearing of her appeal, three judges issued a ruling that barred all reporters and the public from the courtroom. During the proceedings, Edmonds was not allowed into the courtroom for the hearing.

May 6: Edmonds’ case dismissed, no reason provided, no opinion cited.

May 14: In open letter, Edmonds states the governments wants to silence here to “protect certain diplomatic relations” and to “protect certain U.S. foreign business relations.” Says the “foreign relations” mentioned in the gag order “are not in the interest of, or of benefit to, the majority of Americans, but instead serve and protect a small minority.”

June 20: Edmonds writes: “(In) April 2001, a long-term FBI informant/asset who had been providing the bureau with information since 1990, provided two FBI agents and a translator with specific information regarding a terrorist attack being planned by Osama Bin Laden. For almost four years since September 11, officials refused to admit to having specific information regarding the terrorists’ plans to attack the United States. The Phoenix Memo, received months prior to the 9/11 attacks, specifically warned FBI HQ of pilot training and their possible link to terrorist activities against the US. Four months prior to the terrorist attacks the Iranian asset provided the FBI with specific information regarding the ‘use of airplanes’, ‘major US cities as targets’, and ‘Osama Bin Laden issuing the order.’ Coleen Rowley likewise reported that specific information had been provided to FBI HQ.”

July 20: Unidentified as a “retired state department official” Grossman tells AP that a classified State Department memo disputed the legitimacy of administration claims that Iraq sought to acquire uranium from Niger, also contained a few lines about Plame Wilson’s CIA employment, marked as secret.

August 5: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) petitioned for the Supreme Court of the United States to review the lower courts’ application of the State Secret Privilege in both lawsuits. The ACLU claims that the courts conflated the State Secrets Privilege and the Totten rule.

Sept. 28: Washington Post cites unnamed former administration source (Grossman) as stating that the outing of Plame was “Clearly . . . meant purely and simply for revenge.”

Oct. 28: In Patrick Fitzgerald’s indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Grossman is the Under Secretary of State mentioned as giving information about Plame to Libby.

November: Grossman attends lavish Turkish Ottoman Dinner Gala, receives award from Turkish lobby group, the Assembly of American Turkish Association (ATAA) in Chicago.

Nov. 28: the Supreme Court declined to review the decisions made in the Edmonds case.

2006

March: Grossman the key speaker at the ATC annual conference.

June: Grossman key speaker at MERIA Conference, discussing Turkey’s importance to US and Israel.

Sept. 2006: a documentary about Sibel Edmonds’ case called Kill The Messenger (”Une Femme à Abattre”) premiers in France. (watch film here)

2007

January 24: Grossman first to testify in Libby trial. Says he informed Libby of Plame’s involvement “in about 30 seconds of conversation” in June 2003.

November: Grossman subpoenaed by defense in AIPAC trial.

Nov. 26: Grossman, now Vice Chairman of the consulting firm the Cohen Group, attends a major Security Conference in Riga, Latvia.

2008

January: Edmonds posts, without comment, photos of current and former officials and Turkish associates on website: Richard Perle, Eric Edelman, Marc Grossman, Brent Snowcroft, Larry Franklin, Ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Roy Blunt (R-Mo), Dan Burton (R-Ind.), Tom Lanton (D-Ca.), Bob Livingston (ex-House Speaker, R-La.), Stephen Solarz (D-NY), Graham Fulle (RAND), David Makovsky (WINEP), Martin Markovsky (WINEP), Yusuf Turani (president in exile of Turkmenistan), Prof. Sabri Sayari (Columbia University, WINEP), Mehmet Eymur (former head of Turkish counter-terrorism).

Jan. 6: The Times of London carries story, “For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets.” States that a high official “was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives.” Claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials — including household names — who were aiding foreign agents.

“If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials.”

Jan. 22: White House issues statement declaring its intention to approve sale of nuclear secrets to Turkey; Joshua Frank writes on January 25, “It appears the White House has been spooked by Edmonds and hopes to absolve the US officials allegedly involved in the illegal sale of nuclear technology to private Turkish ‘entities’.” Frank identifies Grossman as one of these officials.

* * * * *

Edmonds is tirelessly and fearlessly campaigning for Congressman Waxman, now chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to hold hearings. She says that FBI agents and even former Turkish intelligence officials are willing and able to validate her charges. But the congressman hesitates, perhaps fearing the storm of indignation that explosive evidence will produce in a country sick of its politicians, the lying neocons, and the war. Should they discover that, while disseminating disinformation about foreign nukes in order to fearmonger and build support for aggressive war, some of these officials were actually peddling nuclear secrets — committing treason while receiving honors for their patriotic service — the response could be explosive.

The Office of Special Plans under Abram Shulsky and Douglas Feith cherry-picked the intelligence vetted through the New York Times to terrify people into supporting an attack on Iraq. Democratic leaders have in the past urged an investigation of that spooky office, but furnished the opportunity since November 2006, they have declined to hold hearings. The Italian parliament conducted a study of the Niger uranium hoax, fingering neocon Michael Ledeen as a key suspect in forging documents designed to provide a casus belli before the Iran attack. Congress does nothing to follow up. In effect they are saying that the administration has a right to lie to the people. The presidential pardon granted Libby is a clear statement that it’s okay to punish whistleblowers like Joseph Wilson. The Supreme Court refuses to hear Edmonds’ appeal. It seems that all three branches of government compete to coddle the most unscrupulous and lawless officials, while marginalizing or punishing honest citizens who expose the rot.

The publication of the National Intelligence Estimate undercutting the administration’s case for attacking Iran indicates that there are in the US intelligence community persons alarmed by the administration’s lies and efforts to justify more aggression based on lies. It enrages the neocons who, with Norman Podhoretz in the lead, have been praying for Bush to bomb Iran. The arrest and conviction of Feith subordinate Larry Franklin shows that within the FBI there are forces disturbed at the close connections between the neocons, Israeli intelligence, and the Israel lobby and are willing to take action against lawbreaking. But Feith and Perle have both been investigated before, Perle for discussing classified information with Israeli Embassy staff in an FBI-monitored phone call in Washington in 1970. But the cases dropped for apparent political reasons. Perhaps the Grossman story will gain some traction. Maybe it will prove egregious enough that the tide will turn. Maybe Bush’s last year of office will see the neocons’ thorough exposure, humiliation and defeat.

Or maybe Waxman, Rep. Conyers and others in positions to honestly confront this most mendacious of administrations will continue to dither, feeding the assumption of the most vicious, cynical and corrupt that they are indeed above the law. And earning the contempt of those naïve enough to expect serious congressional oversight of a rogue regime.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu. Read other articles by Gary.

The Pakistan Conundrum

January 17, 2008

The Pakistan Conundrum

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080116_the_pakistan_conundrum/

Posted on Jan 16, 2008

By Scott Ritter

The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhuto has prompted much instant analysis and ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ by observers of that volatile region. Early assessment’s agree that public sentiment in Pakistan has turned decisively against both President Pervez Musharraf and the Islamic Parties who oppose him (and from the ranks of which the alleged assassins were recruited).  President Musharraf himself has given weight to such assessments by reaffirming Pakistani sovereignty (he would treat any unilateral American military incursion into the Northwest Frontier as an invasion which he would oppose by force) and by projecting his own personal political vulnerability (he expects opposition parties to make gains in the coming elections, and if the newly empowered majority seeks to impeach him, he will resign).

President Musharraf’s pro-American posturing and the material support Pakistan has provided in the so-called ‘Global War on Terror’ have been decidedly unpopular among the majority of the Pakistani population. Islamabad has always tried to tread lightly when it came to an American military presence on Pakistani soil.  The quick ‘victory’ of the U.S.-led Northern Alliance over the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan allowed inconvenient American military bases in Pakistan to be transferred to the newly conquered territory inside Afghanistan.  However, continued resistance in Afghanistan from the Taliban and al-Qaida, who depend on support networks throughout the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan, have prompted the United States to pressure Pakistan’s government to crack down, and even in some cases to allow direct action on Pakistani soil, either in the form of the CIA or a military intervention.

President Musharraf has acted against pro-Taliban militants in the Northwest Frontier, but with negligible results.  Indeed, much of the Islamic militancy in Pakistan today has been stirred up by the regime’s continued support of American-inspired operations in Pakistan.  Pervez Musharraf’s recent statement opposing unilateral American military intervention in Pakistan sends a clear signal that the ongoing opposition in Pakistan to continued support of U.S. military activity targeting Pakistanis has resonated politically.

The political unrest created by Musharraf’s ongoing support of the U.S. ‘Global War on Terror’ prompted the Pakistani Dictator to seek stability by firing Pakistani Supreme Court Justices he disagreed with, and to suspend the Constitution.  Both actions have left him vulnerable to impeachment if political opposition parties are able to assemble a viable majority in the Parliament in upcoming elections expected in February.  Musharraf has indicated he will not be a political pawn in any resultant call for accountability.  The question remains whether or not Musharraf will resign and depart Pakistan as a political exile, or resign and reassert himself as Dictator, or resign and throw his support behind a new military dictatorship which will enable him to remain in Pakistan as a behind-the-scenes power broker.

Some would scoff at the notion that Musharraf would seek to re-impose military dictatorship in the face of a growing demand for democracy and the rule of law.  While Pakistan plays lip service to the notion of Parliamentary democracy, the reality is that it is first and foremost a Muslim nation born more from a call for Islamic identity than a desire to embrace the Magna Carta-driven democracy of its colonial masters, the British.

The secular nature of Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship disguises the fact that Pakistan as a nation was birthed in an environment of Islamic national identity.  Pakistan from its inception was supposed to bring together the Muslim populations of the former British Indian colony into a viable nation state.  While many of those who oversaw the formation of the new governmental structure were moderate, even secular lawyers trained in the British tradition, the overwhelming population of what was to become Pakistan traced their loyalty to a system of local elders and religious figures who more often than not referred to Shar’ia, or Islamic law, when pronouncing decisions of government.  This duality is reflected in the resolution passed by Pakistan’s early leaders on the eve of what was to become the country’s constitutional convention. It proclaimed: “Sovereignty under the entire universe belongs to Allah Almighty alone,” and characterized Islamic values as essential in any new government.

But Pakistan is no homogeneous Islamic state.  Its roots are deeply seated in tribal, familial and ethnic realities that most non-Pakistani observers are ill-equipped to comprehend.  An illustration of this can be found simply by noting that Benazir Bhutto, the martyred symbol of democratic reform, in reality sat at the head of a political party, the PPP, which was born not from Pakistani society in general, but rather from the ranks of the 700,000-strong Bhutto tribe.  The Bhuttos, an ethnic Sindhi group, possess an insularity that belies the image of democratic reform embraced by Benazir Bhutto herself.  An ongoing rift within the PPP over Bhutto’s successor illustrates this:  Benazir’s husband, Zardari, together with her son, Bilawal, have claimed the leadership of the party, citing a controversial and challenged ‘will’ which emerged following Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.  Neither Zardari nor Bilawal are considered to be part of the Bhutto tribe, because Zardari is of Baluchi heritage and the son is traditionally linked to the family tree of the father.  It is not the history of corruption that surrounds Zardari, or the inexperience of Bilawal (a student in the UK), which the Bhutto tribe finds objectionable, but simply the fact that a political party founded by, and for, the Bhuttos is now in the hands of someone outside the tribe.

Pakistan’s population of 170 million people is comprised of three major ethnic groups, the Punjabi, Pashtun and Sindhi, who account for some 44%, 16% and 14% of the population respectively.  Indian Muslin immigrants, or Mujahirs, make up about 8% of the population, while the Baluchi make up another 4%.  The remaining population is divided among other minorities, including the Kasmiri and the various tribes which make up Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier.  There are also some 3 million Afghan refugees still residing in Pakistan today, a tragic remnant from the time of the Soviet invasion and occupation of that land.  Pakistan’s historical roots, when it was divided into an eastern and western state, led in part to three major wars (in 1948, 1965 and 1971) and several minor skirmishes between Pakistan and India.  The historical turmoil surrounding the creation of Pakistan, as well as the inconsistent ability of its federal system to hold together the wide variety of ethnic and religious groups brought together to form the country, combined to create a system imbued with a spirit of distrust between the various ethnicities.  The animosities created by this distrust are manifest in Pakistan’s special intelligence service, which was formed to better deal with not only threats from abroad, but also threats from within.  The highly politicized nature of this intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, or ISI, has only caused further intrigue and uncertainty for the nation.

The Pakistani ISI played an instrumental role in using Islam as a tool during its struggle against India, as well as its opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.  The Makhtab al-Khidamat, or MAK, was one of many Islamic organizations which were funded and supported by the ISI.  Operating out of bases inside Pakistan, the MAK was founded in 1984 by Abdullah Yussuf Azzam, a Palestinian Islamic scholar and theologian, and a Saudi follower, Osama Bin Laden.  using money provided by Bin Laden, and working closely with the Pakistani ISI, Azzam and the MAK established a base of operations in the Northwest Frontier city of Peshawar, a scant 15 miles from the historic Khyber Pass into Afghanistan.  Azzam and the MAK put into operation a system of logistics and communication between the Northwest Frontier and Afghanistan which provided material and financial support to the Afghan Mujahadeen fighting the Soviet Army.  The MAK was also able to funnel a few Arab Mujahadeen into Afghanistan, although this number never rose above a few hundred.  With the assassination of Azzam in 1989, the leadership of the MAK was transferred to Osama Bin Laden, who in 1988 formed an alliance with the head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman al-Zawahiri which today is known as al-Qaida.

The links between Osama Bin Laden and the Pakistani ISI were deep.  The MAK lines of communication between Peshawar and Afghanistan, established during the struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, were continued and strengthened during the 1990’s, this time as part of the al-Qaida organization, with the full knowledge and support of the ISI.  Pakistan had been taken aback by the violent infighting between the various Afghan Mujahadeen forces in the aftermath of the Soviet defeat and withdrawal in 1989.  In an effort achieve stability in Afghanistan, the ISI supported the rise of the Taliban, and with it the support to the Taliban by the Arab Mujahadeen of Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaida.  Pakistan was one of only three nations to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

The al-Qaida-Taliban connection was also seen by the ISI as a means of maintaining contacts with Saudi and other Gulf Arab sources of funds needed to sustain not only stability inside Afghanistan, but also to promote instability inside Indian-occupied Kashmir.  Training camps set up by al-Qaida in Afghanistan to recruit and prepare foreign Mujahadeen for operations worldwide were supported by the ISI as a means of training covert operatives for activity in Kashmir.  al-Qaida and its Arab funders returned the favor by assisting the ISI in establishing mirror-image facilities inside Pakistan which were used to train paramilitary forces for operations in Kashmir.  In 1999 Pakistan sent a large force of paramilitary operatives across the border into Kashmir disguised as Kashmiri rebels.  This gambit failed, and in doing so exposed the reality that the ISI was heavily involved in training Islamist extremists to do their bidding, both in Kashmir as well as Afghanistan.

The support provided by the ISI to Osama Bin Laden was extensive.  When American cruise missiles struck al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan in 1998, in retaliation for the terror bombings carried out against the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, among the casualties were Pakistani ISI agents working with al-Qaida.  After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Pakistan was forced to reconsider its public support of the Taliban.  The ISI made an effort to convince the Taliban to turn Osama Bin Laden over to a neutral third party so he could be tried for the 9/11 attacks, but this offer was rebuked by the Taliban leadership.  The collapse of the Taliban as a military force was so rapid in the fall/winter of 2001 that when a large number of al-Qaida forces were surrounded in the northern Afghan city of Konduz, a large number of ISI agents and operatives were trapped with them.  One of the secret annals of the Afghan War is the story of how the Pakistani Government negotiated with the United States to permit the evacuation by air of several hundred Pakistani ISI personnel who had been working with al-Qaida in Afghanistan.  It is alleged that in addition to the Pakistani evacuees, numerous high-level al-Qaida fighters were likewise withdrawn, in particular those with intimate knowledge of the ISI activities involving Kashmir and the Central Asian republics.

The ISI also plays an important role in the internal politics of Pakistan, monitoring various ethnic and tribal groups who are deemed to be questionable in terms of their absolute loyalty to Pakistan, or at least the Pakistan supported by the ISI.  In doing so, the ISI has established relationships with all the major tribal and ethnic groups, and is thus able to play one off against the other in a giant game of divide and conquer.  One of the targets of the ISI was, and is, the PPP Party of Benazir Bhutto.  The intelligence agency had made use of its considerable links with the Islamist elements of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier to generate an Islamic opposition to the return to power of Benazir Bhutto, and there is good reason to believe that the ISI was involved, either directly or indirectly, in her assassination.

The unfortunate reality of Pakistan today is that it is a barely functioning nation state.  Federalism, designed to bring together a disparate band of ethnic groups and religious movements, is failing.  Democracy, the dream of western-trained lawyers, is foreign to the majority of the population, which largely continues to defer to tribal elders and religious leaders.  The nefarious activities of the Pakistani ISI only highlight the reality that Pakistan, today, is not only an untrustworthy member of the erstwhile ‘global coalition against terrorism,’ but actually a deep-rooted supporter and instigator of the very violence the United States has sworn to oppose since 9/11.  Far from being a close ally, the truth is that, if anything, Pakistan is the personification of the enemy we have supposedly pledged to defeat.

Does this mean that the appropriate policy direction of the United States should be to wage war against Pakistan, as we have against the Taliban in Afghanistan?  Absolutely not.  If anything, the experience of Afghanistan shows that without a doubt the policies embraced by the Bush administration in pursuing its ‘Global War on Terror’ were fundamentally flawed.  In the cause and effect world of reality, as opposed to the ‘never-never’ land of neoconservative fantasy, any continued push against Pakistan in the name of the ‘Global War on Terror’ would be extremely counterproductive.  Let’s not forget that they have the bomb.

The fact of the matter is that the chief enemy in America’s fight against terrorism, Osama Bin Laden, is a mere propaganda source who is given more legitimacy the more we pursue him.  The continued instability in Afghanistan caused by the ongoing American and NATO occupation is the source of much of Pakistan’s current problems.  If we truly want to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, we would do well to withdraw from Afghanistan, and work with Iran, Pakistan and the former Soviet Central Asian republics, as well as the Taliban, to bring a sense of normalcy back to this tortured country.  In doing so, it would become self-evident to all parties that any continued role on the part of Osama Bin Laden would be self-defeating, and he would be dealt with appropriately by those best equipped to do so.

This, of course, is the last policy direction being pursued by any of the candidates seeking election to the office of President of the United States.  The bravado of the respective candidate’s ‘hunt Osama down until he is brought to justice’ rhetoric is as empty as their promises to seek stability inside Pakistan, for the two are inherently contradictory policy directions.  To pursue one is to fail on the other.  But, as has been the case with Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran beforehand, one would be foolish to believe that the people of the United States, let alone those they seek to elect to higher office, would deign to formulate policy with the reality of the region in question, and not the American domestic political dynamic, in mind.  Today, in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, America flounders in a sea of uncertainty and sorrow.  Sadly, there is no good reason to believe that any future Captain of our Ship of State will be any more successful in navigating the challenges of the Pakistan Conundrum.

December 13, 2007

Waterboarding Our Democracy

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20071211_scheer_dec_12_waterboarding_our_democracy/

Posted on Dec 11, 2007

By Robert Scheer

When the CIA destroyed those prisoner interrogation videotapes, was it also destroying the truth about 9/11?  After all, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, the basic narrative of what happened on that day—and the definition of the enemy in this war on terror that George W. Bush launched in response to the tragedy—comes from the CIA’s account of what those prisoners told their torturers.  The commission was never allowed to interview the prisoners, or speak with those who did, and was instead forced to rely on what the CIA was willing to relay. 

On the matter of the existence of the tapes, we know the CIA lied, not only to the 9/11 Commission but to Congress as well.  Given that the Bush administration has for six years refused those prisoners any sort of public legal exposure, why should we believe what we’ve been told about what may turn out to be the most important transformative event in our nation’s history?  On the basis of what the CIA claimed the tortured prisoners said, President Bush launched a “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), an endless war that threatens to bankrupt our society both financially and morally. 

How important to the 9/11 Commission Report were those “key witnesses”?  Check out the disclaimer on Page 146 about the commission’s sourcing of the main elements laid out in its narrative:

Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members. … Assessing the truth of statements by these witnesses … is challenging.  Our access to them has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogation took place.  We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked.  Nor were we allowed to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting.  We were told that our requests might disrupt the sensitive interrogation process.

Videos were made of those “sensitive” interrogations, which were accurately described as “torture” by one of the agents involved, John Kiriakou, in an interview with ABC News.  Yet when the 9/11 Commission and federal judges specifically asked for such tapes, they were destroyed by the CIA, which then denied their existence. 

Of course our president claims he knew nothing about this whitewash, and he may be speaking the truth, since plausible deniability seems to be the defining leadership style of our commander in chief.  But what about those congressional leaders who were briefed on the torture program as early as 2002?  That includes Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi, who has specialized in heartfelt speeches condemning torturers in faraway places like China.

Pelosi press aide Brendan Daly told me that The Washington Post report on her CIA briefing was “overblown” because Pelosi, then the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, thought the techniques described, which the CIA insists included waterboarding, were merely planned and not yet in use.  Pelosi claimed that “several months later” her successor as the ranking Democrat, Jane Harman, D-Calif., was advised that the techniques “had in fact been employed.” Harman wrote a classified letter to the CIA in protest, and Pelosi “concurred.” Neither went public with her concerns.

Harman told The Washington Post, “I was briefed, but the information was closely held to just the Gang of Four.  I was not free to disclose anything.” The “Gang of Four” is an insider reference to the top members of the House and Senate intelligence committees and not to the thugs who ran Mao’s China during the Cultural Revolution.

Not only did the congressional Gang of Four fail to inform the public about the use of torture by our government, but it also kept the 9/11 Commission in the dark.  Pelosi testified before the commission on May 22, 2003, but uttered not a word of caution about the methods used.  However, more than two years later, on Nov. 16, 2005, Pelosi stated correctly that on the basis of her “many years on the intelligence committee,” she knew that “[t]he quality of intelligence that is collected by torture is … uncorroborated and it is worthless.”

Having admired Pelosi for decades, I hope I am missing something here.  If she and the others in the know have another version of these events it’s time to come clean.  As matters now stand, they not only concealed torture but, more significantly, they abetted the waterboarding of our democracy.

The Global Impact of Bush’s War Crimes in Iraq: King Midas in Reverse by Walter C. Uhler

November 28, 2007

The Global Impact of Bush’s War Crimes in Iraq: King Midas in Reverse by Walter C. Uhler

by Walter C. Uhler
The Smirking Chimp
Nov 26 2007

Journalist Robert Fisk recently explained the Bush/Cheney abomination in the Middle East quite succinctly, when he asserted: “The world in the Middle East is growing darker and darker by the hour. Pakistan. Afghanistan. Iraq. “Palestine”. Lebanon. From the borders of Hindu Kush to the Mediterranean, we – we Westerners that is – are creating (as I have said before) a hell disaster. Next week, we are supposed to believe in peace in Annapolis, between the colorless American apparatchik and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister who has no more interest in a Palestinian state than his predecessor Ariel Sharon.” [Robert Fisk, “Darkness falls on the Middle East,” Independent.co.uk, 24 Nov. 2007]

On Friday, November 23rd, a bomb exploded in a pet market in central Baghdad. It followed a “brazen attack against U.S.-backed Sunni fighters on the southern belt of Baghdad” and a mortar and rocket attack on the Green Zone a day earlier that constituted “the biggest attack against the U.S.-protected area in weeks.” [Bushra Juhi, “Twin bombings Kill at Least 26 in Iraq,” Associated Press, 23 Nov. 2007]

You might keep such information in mind whenever you hear dishonest Republicans and feckless Democrats shy away from the awful truth about the “hell disaster” in Iraq and the Middle East.

And the awful truth is this: During the seven months preceding the Bush administration’s reckless, immoral, illegal and incompetent invasion of Iraq, the architects of that criminal war — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle — lied repeatedly about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and links to al Qaeda, grossly exaggerated both the welcome American troops would receive and the ease with which democracy could be established in Iraq, while fraudulently understating the projected costs of their evil venture. In a word, our “MBA President” and his cronies failed to exercise due diligence with the American people.

Yet, while these criminals were preparing to commit their crime, critics of the proposed invasion were struggling to be heard, struggling to penetrate the herd mentality of the mainstream news media – which, except for some reporters at Knight Ridder, found itself shocked and awed by the administration’s war mongering propaganda. As we now know, post-invasion facts on the ground vindicated the critics, not only for doubting the Bush administration’s bogus claims about Iraq’s WMD and links to al Qaeda, but also for questioning the very need for preemptive (actually preventive) war and the very feasibility of forcing democracy at gunpoint.

Unfortunately, more than 31,000 American soldiers have been killed or wounded in the course of executing Bush’s criminal plans. Add to that figure “at least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan…[now] found with signs of brain injuries.” [Gregg Zoroya, “Combat Brain Injuries Multiply,” USA Today, Nov. 23, 2007]

Moreover, although some 3,875 soldiers have died in Iraq since March 2003, 6,256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 alone. According to CBS News, the suicide rate among veterans is double that of the civilian population and veterans aged 20 through 24 – those caught up in Bush’s war – had the highest suicide rates among all veterans. Finally, consider that almost 8,000 soldiers deserted the US Army during fiscal years 2006 and 2007.

Beyond such casualties, Bush’s war has strained the U.S. Army to the breaking point. As Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey recently observed, “The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply.” According to Senator Jack Reed and security analyst Michele A. Flournoy, “Roughly half of the 2000 and 2001 West Point classes have already decided to leave the Army” citing multiple, back-to-back combat tours as the primary reason. Moreover, “roughly half of the U.S. Army’s equipment is in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the harsh environment and the high tempo of operations are wearing out equipment at up to 9 times the normal rate.”

Then, there’s the exorbitant cost of Bush’s war of choice. According to Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, when the hidden costs of Bush’s war are considered, the total economic cost has exceeded $1.5 trillion. The surge in the price of oil, from approximately $37 per barrel at the beginning of the war to over $90 in recent weeks, constitutes a major portion of those hidden, but very real costs.

Finally, citizens of the United States have seen their liberties subverted by the Bush administration in the name of national security. Through the abuse of signing statements, the use of torture and the embrace of illegal wiretapping the Bush administration has moved America creepily closer to those horrid dictatorships its citizens once derided.

Yet, the costs to the United States constitute mere chump change when compared with the price paid by Iraqis. Life in Iraq during Bush’s reign of terror has been far worse than life was during the last years of Saddam’s brutal regime. Consider the national humiliation associated with America’s successful invasion, its brutal occupation and its degrading torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

According to Robert Dreyfuss and Tom Engelhardt, “There are, by now, perhaps a million dead Iraqis, give or take a few hundred thousand. If a typical wounded-to-dead ratio of 3:1 holds, then you’re talking about up to 4 million war, occupation, and civil-war casualties. Now, add in the estimated 2-2.5 million who went into exile, fleeing the country, and another estimated 2.3 million who have had to leave their homes and go into internal exile as Iraqi communities hand neighborhoods were ‘cleansed.’”

As columnist Cesar Chelala recently wrote in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “One child dies every five minutes because of the war, and many more are left with severe injuries. Of the estimated 4 million Iraqis who have been displaced in Iraq or lest the country, 1.5 million are children.” Quoting from an assessment by 100 British and Iraqi doctors, Chelala adds: “sick or injured children, who could otherwise be treated by simple means, are left to die in the hundreds because they don’t have access to basic medicines and other resources. Children who have lost hands, feet and limb are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated.”

Chronic shortages in electricity persist. And, as Bobby Cain Calvan of McClatchy Newspapers reported on November 18th, “the percentage of Iraqis without access to decent water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since the start of the U.S.-led war…The portion of Iraqis lacking decent sanitation…[has been] even worse – 80 percent.” Yet, the horrors in Iraq have been grossly underreported by America’s mainstream news media. As Dahr Jamail concludes in his new book, Beyond the Green Zone, “If the people of the United States had the real story about what their government has done in Iraq, the occupation would already have ended.” [p. 291]

One might ask how Bush and his co-conspirators are able to sleep at night, given all this blood and carnage on their hands. Why do they remain in office? Why haven’t they been impeached? Why haven’t they been thrown in prison?

But, then, one also might ask why the many conservative scholars and pundits who got everything so wrong — especially those despicable neo-cons – still fill opinion pages and the airwaves with their vile excuses for yet more war. Their latest con is to argue that the surge is working. Some dishonest clowns even mention the word “victory.”

Of course, they spew yet more propaganda designed to maintain or bolster the 70 percent of Republicans who still support Bush’s criminal war. (How different are they from Hitler’s die-hard supporters during World War II?) For example, one of the more obnoxious and consistently wrong neo-cons, Charles Krauthammer, waxed euphoric in his November 23rd column about just how well the surge was going in Iraq.

Yet, the 23rd was the day of the pet market blast, which had followed the previous day’s “brazen attack” in the southern belt of Baghdad and the rocket attack on the Green Zone. Those attacks prompted two reporters from the Los Angeles Times to suggest that “insurgents appeared intent on sending a message to U.S. and Iraqi officials that their recent expressions of optimism on the nation’s security were premature.”

But, then, consider the source. This is the very same Krauthammer who wrote in November 2001: [T]he way to tame the Arab street is not with appeasement and sweet sensitivity but with raw power and victory….The elementary truth that seems to elude the experts again and again…is that power is its own reward. Victory changes everything, psychology above all. The psychology in the [Middle East] is now one of fear and deep respect for American power. Now is the time to use it.” [Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism, p 93]

Tell me, Mr. Krauthammer, how’s the “fear and deep respect” playing out in the Middle East and the world in November 2007? How stupid could you be? And why are you still employed by the Washington Post?

The Post’s Thomas Ricks provides a more honest assessment. “I just got back from Baghdad last week, and it was clear that violence has decreased. But it hasn’t gone away. It is only back down to the 2005 level – which to my mind is kind of like moving from the eighth circle of hell to the fifth….I’ve interviewed dozens of officers and none were willing to say we are winning. What they were saying is that at least now, we are not losing.” [Editor & Publisher, Nov. 24, 2007] Yet, if you recall that, on May 12, 2004, General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, told a Senate committee, “There is no way to militarily lose in Iraq. There’s also no way to militarily win in Iraq,” you might want to question why we’re still there.

Anthony Cordesman recently published a more realistic appraisal of the surge. Titled, “Violence versus Political Accommodation: The True Elements of Victory in Iraq,” Cordesman credits the surge for playing a secondary role in reducing violence in Iraq. But he cautions: “It is still far from clear that US success against al Qaeda in the rest of central Iraq has brought stability and security to any mixed area where there is serious tension and violence. If anything, the fact that the ’surge’ has not halted the pace of Iraqi displacements and has often created a patchwork of Arab Shiite versus Arab Sunni divisions in towns and areas that extend far beyond Baghdad, has laid the ground for further struggles once the US is gone.” [p. 11]

Cordesman adds: “Most of Southern Iraq is now under the control of competing local and regional Shiite gangs,” which have become the “equivalent of rival mafias.” [p. 13]

More significantly, Cordesman concludes: “The US cannot win the war; it can only give Iraq’s central government and those leaders interested in national unity and political accommodation the opportunity to do so.” [p. 10] [N]o amount of American military success can – by itself – have strategic meaning.” [p. 13]

Finally, those who propagandize that the “surge” is working are advised to contemplate the work of MIT economist Michael Greenstone. As summarized in the December issue of The Atlantic, Greenstone has examined the financial markets in Iraq, especially the market for Iraqi state bonds. He found that “from the start of the surge earlier this year until September, there was a ’sharp decline’ in the price of Iraqi state bonds, signaling a ‘40% increase in the market’s expectation that Iraq will default’ on its obligations.”

The Atlantic article goes on to note: “Since the bonds are sold on international markets (hedge funds hold a large portion), where the profit motive eliminates personal and political bias, the trajectory of bond prices may be the most accurate indicator available for assessing America’s military strategy. And the data suggest that ‘the surge is failing to pave the way toward a stable Iraq and may in fact be undermining it.” [The Atlantic Dec. 2007, p. 26]

Consequently, were we merely limiting ourselves to the catastrophes that has bedeviled both the United States and Iraq as a consequence of Bush’s war, we’d be forced to conclude that Bush’s national security policy has the touch of King Midas in reverse. Everything Bush touches turns to shit!

Unfortunately, as serious pre-war scholars and critics feared and predicted, Bush’s King Midas touch in reverse has extended far beyond Iraq and the United States. Simply recall their warnings about the war’s impact on the price of oil, their fears that such a war might undermine US efforts against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, their concern that Bush’s invasion might inflame hatred of America throughout the Muslim world, their suspicions that Iran might be the principal beneficiary of a US-led invasion that placed Iraqi Shiites in power and their worries about how a destabilized Iraq might provoke intervention by it neighbors, Iran, Syria and Turkey, and thus embroil the entire region.

Thanks to the perverse King Midas touch of the Bush administration, Iran has indeed emerged as the most influential player in Iraq and Turkey is poised to invade Iraqi Kurdistan. Moreover, as Anne Applebaum has written in the Washington Post: [T] he collateral damage inflicted by the war on America’s relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized.”

In support of Ms. Applebaum’s assertion, simply recall the words uttered to Condoleezza Rice in October 2007 by Tanya Lokshina, chairwoman of the Demos Center for Information and Research, a Russian human rights organization: The United States had “lost the high moral ground.” “The American voice alone doesn’t work anymore…The Russians are not influenced by it.” [Steven Lee Myers, New York Times Oct. 15, 2007]

Finally, mention also must be made of another catastrophe feared and predicted by the pre-war critics of Bush’s invasion, one which now looms on the horizon: the destabilization of nuclear armed Pakistan. As Robert Parry wrote in September 2002, “One reason a war with Iraq might increase, rather than decrease, the danger to the American people is that the invasion could spread instability across the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world…[impacting] most notably the dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan.”

As Parry observed: “Today, even as Musharraf cooperates with the U.S. war on terror, his regime is confronted by pro-al Qaeda factions both inside and outside his government. Many past and present Pakistani military officers continue to sympathize with the fundamentalists.” [Robert Parry, “Bush’s Nuclear Gamble,” [consortiumnews.com, September 30, 2002]

As if describing Bush’s reverse Midas touch in Pakistan, Juan Cole has observed: “The pressure the Bush administration put on the Pakistani military government to combat Muslim militants in that country weakened the legitimacy of [military dictator Pervez] Musharraf, whom the Pakistani public increasingly viewed as an oppressive American puppet.” Not content with such long-term undermining of its client dictator, the Bush administration then “brokered a deal whereby [Benazir] Bhutto was allowed to return to Pakistan.” But, “the huge explosion that greeted Bhutto in her home turf of Karachi…suggests that her arrival is hardly the remedy for Pakistan’s instability.” [Cole, Salon.com Oct. 24, 2007]

Thus, given its profoundly devastating King Midas touch that has rippled around the world, one can confidently predict that the Bush administration will further embolden militant Muslims and secure its legacy as the worst presidency in U.S. history by attacking Iran, thereby bringing America’s staggering and tottering empire crashing to the ground. Like Lenin, during the pre-revolutionary period in Tsarist Russia, it would be tempting to say, “the worse, the better” for America. Except: (1) I don’t believe the loss of empire will prompt Americans to wake up and (2) America’s fervent Bush-supporting crackpot Christians, seeing evidence for their long awaited Rapture and End Times in the calamities actually wrought by Bush, already have a stranglehold on Lenin’s dictum.

(More about such crackpot Christians in a future article).

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Al-Qaeda kingpin: I trained 9/11 hijackers

November 27, 2007

Al-Qaeda kingpin: I trained 9/11 hijackers &#150

From his Turkish jail, a senior terrorist claims a key role in atrocities around the world

IN a small windowless cell lit by a single light bulb, Louai al-Sakka sits isolated from the world and fellow inmates for 24 hours a day.

His concrete box is in the bowels of Kandira, a high-security F-type prison 60 miles east of Istanbul, which was built to house Turkey’s most dangerous criminals.

The prison has been criticised by human rights groups such as Amnesty International. The guards control everything, including the cell’s light switch.

Sakka’s only visitor is Osman Karahan, a lawyer who shares his fervent support for militant Islamic jihad.

Since being convicted as an Al-Qaeda bomb plotter last year, Sakka has decided to reveal his alleged role in some of the key plots of recent years, providing a potential insight into the unanswered questions surrounding them. His story is also one of a globetrotting terrorist in an organisation that is truly multinational.

He is an enigma and, despite his involvement in three terrorist outrages involving British citizens, he is virtually unknown in this country.

By his own account he is a senior Al-Qaeda operative who was at the forefront of the insurgency in Iraq, took part in the beheading of Briton Kenneth Bigley and helped train the 9/11 bombers. He has been jailed in connection with the bombing of the British consulate in Istanbul.

Certainly, the intelligence services have shown a keen interest in the 34-year-old Syrian who says he was in Iraq alongside Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the notorious insurgent who was killed last year in a United States air-strike.

But, as with many things in the world of Al-Qaeda, there might be smoke and mirrors. Some experts believe that Sakka could be overstating his importance to the group, possibly to lay a false track for western agencies investigating his terrorist colleagues.

Over the past three weeks The Sunday Times has conducted a series of interviews with Sakka through his lawyer. We were given a number of documents including a memoir in Arabic of his life.

So who is the mysterious Al-Qaeda operative in the concrete cell and what do his claims tell us about the terrorist network and his role within it?

He was travelling under the Turkish name Erkan Ozer – one of his 16 false identities – when he was arrested in the southeastern town of Diyarbakir in August 2005. His downfall was as a result of a nighttime explosion that caused a fire in his apartment a week earlier. When fire-fighters reached the blaze they found a do-it-yourself bomb factory with vats of hydrogen, bags of aluminium powder and 6kg of plastic explosives.

Sakka had been planning to sink Israeli cruise ships off the Turkish coast using motorised dinghies. Despite having plastic surgery to disguise his face, he was easily identified by the Turkish authorities.

Police later discovered documents linking him to the Istanbul suicide bombings that killed at least 27 people after trucks exploded outside the British consulate, the HSBC bank and two synagogues. The court indictment described him as “a senior member of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation tasked with special high-level missions”. It said he had met Osama Bin Laden, who had told him to organise attacks in Turkey.

But was this all? Last week his lawyer claimed his scope was much wider. “He was the nnumber one networker for Al-Qaeda in Europe, Iran, Turkey and Syria,” Karahan said.

According to the documents provided by Karahan, Sakka grew up in the ancient city of Aleppo, Syria, the son of a wealthy factory owner, and followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming the general manager of a company that sold one of Syria’s most popular washing-up liquids. But he was drawn to the Islamic cause from a young age, according to his memoir.

His politics were shaped by the conflict between President Hafez al-Assad, the former Syrian dictator, and the Muslim Brotherhood, an underground Islamic group. When Sakka was nine, Assad quelled an uprising by the brotherhood in the town of Hama by killing an estimated 10,000 people.

“Like any other Muslim boy he was deeply affected by these events,” says his memoir.

When the Bosnian war opened a new front for jihadists in the early 1990s, Sakka left his job and headed for the conflict. He stayed in Turkey initially and established the “mujaheddin service office”, which provided medical support for Bosnia and later the two Chechen wars.

It soon became clear that more than medical help was needed. Sakka set up intensive physical training programmes in the Yalova mountain resort area, near Istanbul, to prepare the scores of young men heading for the conflicts. The memoir claims the volunteers came from Europe, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Gulf, North Africa and South America.

The Chechens needed trained fighters. Sakka was telephoned by Ibn al-Khattab, the late militia leader controlling the foreign fighters against the Russians. Khattab requested that Sakka’s trainees should be sent on to Afghanistan for military training because “conditions are tough”.

This brought Sakka into contact with Abu Zubaydah, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda member, who ran a large terrorist training camp near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sakka was later to be sentenced in ab-sentia for involvement in the foiled Jordanian millennium bomb attacks in 2000 along with Zubaydah.

One of Sakka’s chief roles was to organise passports and visas for the volunteers to make their way to Afghanistan through Pakistan. His ability to keep providing high-quality forged papers made Turkey a main hub for Al-Qaeda movements, his lawyer says. The young men came to Turkey pretending to be on holiday and Sakka’s false papers allowed them to “disappear” overseas.

Turkish intelligence were aware of unusual militant Islamic activity in the Yalova mountains, where Sakka had set up his camps. But they posed no threat to Turkey at the time.

But a bigger plot was developing. In late 1999, Karahan says,a group of four young Saudi students went to Turkey to prepare for fighting in Chechnya. “They wanted to be good Muslims and join the jihad during their holidays,” he said.

They had begun a path that was to end with the September 11 attacks on America in 2001. They were: Ahmed and Hamza al-Ghamdi who hijacked the plane that crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center; their companion Saeed al-Ghamdi whose plane crashed in a Pennsylvanian field; and Nawaf al-Hazmi who died in the Pentagon crash.

They undertook Sakka’s physical training programme in the mountains and later were joined by two of the other would-be hijackers: Majed Moqed, who also perished in the Pentagon crash, and Satam al-Suqami, who was in the first plane that hit the north tower.

Moqed and Suqami had been hand-picked by Al-Qaeda leaders in Saudi Arabia specifically for the twin towers operation, Sakka says, and were en route to Afghanistan. Sakka persuaded the other four to go to Afghanistan after plans to travel to Chechnya were aborted because of problems crossing the border. “Sakka [told Zubaydah] he liked the four men and recommended them,” said Karahan.

Before leaving, all six received intensive training together, forming a cell led by Suqami, which was similar to the Hamburg group run by Mohammed Atta, another ringleader in the 9/11 attacks.

At one point, Sakka claims the entire group were arrested by police in Yalova after their presence raised suspicions. They were interrogated for a day but eventually released because there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

Some of Sakka’s account is corroborated by the US government’s 9/11 Commission. It

found evidence that four of the hijackers – whom Sakka says he trained – had initially intended to go to Chechnya from Turkey but the border into Georgia was closed. Sakka had prepared fake visas for the group’s travel to Pakistan and arranged their flights from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. The group of four went to the al-Farouq camp near Kandahar and the other two to Khaldan, near Kabul, an elite camp for Al-Qaeda fighters.

When Moqed and Suqami returned to Turkey, Sakka employed his skills as a forger to scrub out the Pakistani visa stamps from their passports. This would help the Arab men enter the United States without attracting suspicion that they had been to a training camp.

Sakka’s lawyer said: “Just like there is money laundering, there is also terrorist laundering and Turkey was the centre of this.”

According to Sakka, Nawaf al-Hazmi was a veteran operative who went on to pilot the plane that hit the Pentagon. Although this is at odds with the official account, which says the plane was flown by another hijacker, it is plausible and might answer one of the mysteries of 9/11.

The Pentagon plane performed a complex spiral dive into its target. Yet the pilot attributed with flying the plane “could not fly at all” according to his flight instructors in America. Hazmi, on the other hand, had mixed reviews from his instructors but they did remark on how “adept” he was on his first flight.

Paul Thompson, author and 9/11 researcher, said Sakka’s account was credible. “I think there is a lot more about the history of the hijackers that needs to be found out and Sakka’s claim may resume the debate about just how much was known about them before 9/11,” he said.

Sakka’s mountain trainees, meanwhile, had spread out to a number of countries where they carried out terrorist attacks. He claims this is why he was charged with a string of crimes committed by his associates. He was given a 15-year sentence in Jordan for the millennium bomb attacks, the death penalty for an an assassination attempt on Syria’s military intelligence chief and has been charged in Saudi Arabia for an explosives plot.

In effect, he had become a free-lance operative aiding a series of groups without necessarily agreeing with their targets. His links with Al-Qaeda, however, remained strong after the 9/11 attacks.

His lawyer says the Al-Qaeda leadership valued a number of his skills. “But most important,” he added, “was that Sakka was incredibly secretive. Al-Qaeda tested him many times, but he never once revealed a secret.”

The US invasion of Afghani-stan in late 2001 threw many of the Al-Qaeda camps into disarray. Many of the group’s fighters are thought to have fled across the border to seek safety in Iran.

According to Sakka’s account, one of those fighters was Zar-qawi. The precise movements of the Jordanian, who is thought to have been wounded fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghani-stan, have always been a matter of speculation.

Sakka’s initial role in the insurgency was to help foreign fighters enter Iraq. He took his family to live in Falluja, which was emerging as the hub of the foreign fighters’ resistance to the occupying forces.

He later told a court: “We held out for 70 days. They destroyed vast quarters of the city. It wouldn’t have been possible for them to enter before doing so. We ran out of ammunition and had to pull out.”

A month before the fall of Falluja, Sakka claims that he was part of the group that killed Kenneth Bigley, the British hostage. He describes himself as the “diplomat” who negotiated on behalf of the insurgents and says he presided over the court that resolved to execute him. He says Bigley’s body is buried in Falluja with his passport and confession video.

Today Sakka remains a controversial figure. The British Foreign Office says it has interviewed Sakka in jail about the Bigley murder. He provided a map of where Bigley was buried but the Foreign Office says they could not find the body. In Turkey, police sources claim Sakka may have become clinically insane or perhaps be an egoma-niac who has overstated his role.

The Sunday Times has spoken to a number of Al-Qaeda experts who say that many elements of his story ring true, but they are impossible to verify conclusively. Evan Kohlmann, an investigator for the 9/11 Finding Answers Foundation, said: “When [Sakka] was in Falluja there were several high-ranking Turkish guys there. It is also true that for a number of conflicts that Al-Qaeda has been involved in, Turkey is a very important through stop and a lot of fighters have travelled through there with the assistance of local people.”

Swift justice

Gordon Brown’s plans to double the detention period for terror suspects face further opposition with a report showing that America needs just 48 hours to file charges in Al-Qaeda cases.

The report by Justice, the human rights group, will say this week that Brown’s plans to extend precharge detention to 56 days are untenable.

It says: “No western democracy faces a greater threat of terrorism than the US. Despite this, the proven ability of US law enforcement to charge suspects in complex terror plots within 48 hours of arrest without resort to exceptional measures shows that UK proposals to extend precharge detention are both unjustified and unnecessary.”

The report emphasises the importance of FBI phone tap evidence and Brown is considering whether such intercept evidence should be allowed in Britain.

Eric Metcalfe, the Justice report’s author, said: “From Guantanamo Bay to rendition to torture, the US has done a lot of things badly wrong in the fight against terrorism.

“But in the rush to extend precharge detention here in the UK, we sometimes overlook what they are doing right.”

Radio support

AN Islamic radio station has been broadcasting good-luck messages to some of Britain’s most dangerous terrorists.

Wellwishers were urged by extremist websites to use Radio Ramadan to send their messages of support to inmates at Belmarsh high-security prison in southeast London, including Abu Hamza al-Masri, the cleric serving seven years for inciting murder, and the failed 21/7 London bombers.

One extremist website, Islambase.co.uk, said in a forum that the “brothers in Belmarsh” had access to radios and listened to the station every night. A posting on the forum read: “The messages have been received in Belmarsh.”

Tariq Abbasi, who was responsible for the station, confirmed that messages were aired for inmates. He had a licence issued by Ofcom to broadcast from the Greenwich Islamic Centre in Plumstead during Ramadan, which ended six weeks ago.

INVASION – A COMPARISON OF SOVIET AND WESTERN MEDIA PERFORMANCE

November 26, 2007
november 20, 2007

INVASION – A COMPARISON OF SOVIET AND WESTERN MEDIA PERFORMANCE

By: Nikolai Lanine and Media Lens

Introduction

The writer Simon Louvish once told the story of a group of Soviets touring the United States before the age of glasnost. After reading the newspapers and watching TV, they were amazed to find that, on the big issues, all the opinions were the same. “In our country,” they said, “to get that result we have a dictatorship, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. So what’s your secret? How do you do it?” (Quoted, John Pilger, Tell Me No Lies, Random House, 2004, p.9)

It’s a good question, one being asked by Nikolai Lanine who served with the Soviet Army during its 1979-1989 occupation of Afghanistan, but who now lives and works as a peace activist in Canada. Lanine has spent several years trawling through Soviet-era newspaper archives comparing the propaganda of that time with modern Western media performance.

If the claims of modern professional journalism are to be believed, the similarities should be few and far between. Soviet-era media such as Pravda (meaning, ironically, “The Truth”) are a byword for state-controlled mendacity in the West. Thus Simon Jenkins commented in the Times in the 1980s: “There is a smack of Pravda about this pious self-censorship.” (Jenkins, ‘A new name on the tin mug of scandal,’ The Times, March 19, 1989)

Doris Lessing, recent winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, wrote in 1992:

“Even five, six years ago, Izvestia, Pravda and a thousand other Communist papers were written in a language that seemed designed to fill up as much space as possible without actually saying anything. Because, of course, it was dangerous to take up positions that might have to be defended. Now all these newspapers have rediscovered the use of language. But the heritage of dead and empty language these days is to be found in academia, and particularly in some areas of sociology and psychology.” (Lessing, ‘Questions you should never ask a writer,’ New York Times, October 13, 2007. Originally published June 26, 1992)

This standard Western association of thought control with totalitarian societies is a red herring. In fact, thought control is far more characteristic of ‘democratic’ societies – where state violence is no longer an option, propaganda comes into its own.

After all, it is a remarkable fact that our society never discusses the possibility that a corporate media system monitoring a society dominated by large corporations might be something other than free, open and honest. Consider Lessing’s analysis in the light of these comments from media analyst Danny Schechter:

“We are bombarded with information, although if you look closely, most of it has a similar grammar, a similar focus and similar sources, all revolving around institutions and topics that most viewers admit in survey after survey they don’t really understand.” (Schechter, The More You Watch The Less You Know, Seven Stories Press, 1997, p.43)

Verbiage “designed to fill up as much space as possible without actually saying anything”, in other words, because it is “dangerous to take up positions that might have to be defended”.

How “dangerous”? David Barsamian recently asked Noam Chomsky why one regular New York Times commentator refused to recognise blindingly obvious truths embarrassing to US power. Chomsky responded:

“If he wrote that, then he wouldn‘t be writing for the New York Times. There is a certain discipline that you have to meet. In a well-run society, you don’t say things you know. You say things that are required for service to power.” (Chomsky, What We Say Goes, Penguin, 2007, p.2)

We are very grateful to Nikolai Lanine for agreeing to co-author this piece and for his hard work over several months in making it possible. All quotations from the Soviet press archives were translated from the original by him. We are also grateful to Noam Chomsky who originally put us in touch with Nikolai.

A Humanitarian War of Self-Defence

Inspired by the success of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, US-backed Afghan militants – including future founders of the Taliban movement – stepped up their attacks on Afghan government forces in the late 1970s.

Fearful of the “threat to the security of [the Soviet] southern boarders”(Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, Secrets of the Afghan War, 1991, p.48) and concerned that the conflict might spread to neighbouring Soviet republics – and so risk radicalising their dominantly Muslim populations (accounting for more than 20% of the Soviet population) – the Soviet government invaded. The invasion was a straightforward act of aggression, an attempt to crush a perceived threat to Soviet security and power.

Inevitably, the Soviet government portrayed its invasion as an act of humanitarian intervention initiated at the “request of the [Afghan] government”. (Pravda, April 27, 1980) The aim was “to prevent the establishment of… a terrorist regime and to protect the Afghan people from genocide”, and also to provide “aid in stabilising the situation and the repulsion of possible external aggression”. (Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, p.48)

Once the “terrorists” had been defeated, Afghanistan would be left to become “a stable, friendly country”. The invasion, then, was in the best interests of the Afghan people – the focus of the Soviet government’s benevolent concern.

The Soviet media presented the invasion essentially as a peacekeeping operation intended to prevent enemy atrocities. Krasnaya Zvezda [Red Star], a major Soviet military newspaper, reported in May 1985:

“Since the establishment of this [Soviet] base, [the Mujahadeen]’s predatory extortions, violence, [and] reprisals have stopped; and poor peasants are [now] working the land peacefully.” (Krasnaya Zvezda, May 1, 1985)

The same paper noted:

“Before the arrival of the Soviet soldiers here, [the area] was literally swarming with [insurgents]… [who] were ruthlessly killing… everyone, who was desperately longing for a new life… However, Soviet soldiers arrived, and life in the district has started normalising.” (Krasnaya Zvezda, October 27, 1985)

Voenni Vestnik [Military Bulletin] took it for granted that “…[Soviet] paratroopers are protecting peaceful [Afghan] citizens”. (Voenni Vestnik #4, 1983)

This, of course, was a reversal of the truth that the Soviet superpower was killing large numbers of civilians and causing great suffering to the population.

Pravda insisted that the Afghan army had conducted military operations “at the demand of the local population” and because of “the danger to lives and property of citizens” posed by the resistance. (Pravda, February 7, 1988)

Military personnel constantly echoed government claims that intervention was required “to help the hapless Afghan people to defend their freedom, their future”. (Krasnaya Zvezda, January 5, 1988)

The invasion was also portrayed as an act of self-defence to prevent a “neighboring country with a shared Soviet-Afghan border… [from turning] into a bridgehead for… [Western] aggression against the Soviet state”. (Izvestiya, January 1, 1980) Soviet intervention was also a response to unprovoked violence by Islamic fundamentalists (described as “freedom fighters“ in the West), who, it was claimed, planned to export their fundamentalist struggle across the region “’under the green banner of Jihad’, to the territory of the Soviet Central-Asian republics”. (Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, p.45) The Soviet public were told they faced a stark choice: either fight the menace abroad, or do nothing and later face a much greater threat on home soil that would, geopolitically, “put the USSR in a very difficult situation”. (Sovetskaya Rossia [Soviet Russia], February 11, 1993)

This theme was endlessly stressed by the Soviet media system – Soviet forces were “not only defending Afghan villages. They keep the peace on the borders of [our] homeland”. (Pravda, April 2, 1987) The goal was “peace and security in the region, and also the security of the southern border of the USSR”. (Mezhdunarodnyi Ezhegodnik, 1981, p.224) The unquestioned assumption was that Soviet forces had no option but to act “pre-emptively” in “self-defence”.

Reading Soviet propaganda on these themes inevitably recalls Tony Blair’s famous assertion:

“What does the whole of our history teach us, I mean British history in particular? That if when you’re faced with a threat you decide to avoid confronting it short term, then all that happens is that in the longer term you have to confront it and confront it an even more deadly form.” (ITN News at 6:30, January 31, 2003)

To this day, many former Soviet military and media commentators continue to reinforce similar claims. Former top Soviet military adviser in Afghanistan, General Mahmut Gareev, writes in his book “My Last War” (1996) that the “situation in Afghanistan was of great importance” for the security of the Soviet state (p.363). The “high political, military and strategic interests of the USSR demanded certain actions and decisions”. (p.36) The Soviet leadership was “aware that events in the south of the country were exceptionally important and had great significance for the security of the Soviet state. It was impossible not to react”. (p.35-36)

After the 1979 invasion, the Afghan insurgency repeatedly launched attacks on border areas, including rocket strikes on Soviet towns. Ignoring the fact that these attacks were a +response+ to Soviet aggression, the Soviet media described them as “provocative criminal acts against the Soviet territory”. (Izvestiya, April 20, 1987)

For Democracy And Human Rights – America And Britain Attack

In near-identical fashion, the British and American governments have presented their invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as acts of self-defence which also happen to be in the best interests of the Afghan and Iraqi populations.

In 2001, the then UK defence secretary Geoff Hoon insisted that, in Afghanistan, Britain “was acting in self-defence against Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qa’ida network”. (Ben Russell, ‘Parliament – terrorism debate,’ The Independent, November 2, 2001)

As with the Soviet media, the self-defensive, humanitarian intent behind both invasions are staples of much US-UK media reporting. On the April 12, 2005 edition of the BBC’s Newsnight programme, diplomatic editor Mark Urban discussed the significance of a lessening of Iraqi attacks on US forces since January:

“It is indeed the first real evidence that President Bush’s grand design of toppling a dictator and forcing a democracy into the heart of the Middle East could work.” (Urban, Newsnight, BBC2, April 12, 2005)

When George Bush declared: “we are not conquerors; we’re liberators”, he could have been quoting one of the top Soviet generals in Afghanistan, who said:

“We didn’t set ourselves the task of conquering anyone: we wanted to stabilise the situation.” (Varennikov, CNN Interview, 1998)

In April 2002, Rory Carroll wrote in the Guardian:

“Whoever is trying to destabilise Afghanistan is doing a good job. The broken cities and scorched hills so recently liberated are rediscovering fear and uncertainty.” (Carroll, ‘Blood-drenched warlord’s return,’ The Observer, April 14, 2002)

The point being that, for Carroll, as for George Bush, Afghanistan really had been “liberated” by the world’s superpower.

The New York Times wrote in September 2007:

”Military statistics show that U.S. forces have made some headway at protecting the Iraqi population, but there are questions over whether the gains can be sustained.” (Michael R. Gordon, ‘Assessing the “surge”,’ New York Times, September 8, 2007)

Even in reporting that a large proportion of world opinion wants to see the US leave Iraq, the BBC managed to boost the claimed humanitarian intent:

“Some 39% of people in 22 countries said troops should leave now, and 28% backed a gradual pull-out. Just 23% wanted them to stay until Iraq was safe.” (Most people ‘want Iraq pull-out,’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/ hi/middle_east/6981553.stm, September 7, 2007)

The idea that Iraq might not be safe until US-UK troops leave, is unthinkable to many Western journalists, as it was to Soviet journalists.

In some cases, Western reporting perhaps even surpassed Soviet propaganda. As US tanks entered Baghdad on April 9, 2003, ITN’s John Irvine declared:

“A war of three weeks has brought an end to decades of Iraqi misery.” (ITN Evening News, April 9, 2003)

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States were in response to decades of US-UK violence, and support for violence, in the Middle East. For what it’s worth, Osama bin Laden specifically cited Western oppression in Palestine, Western sanctions against Iraq, and US bases in Saudi Arabia, as reasons for the attacks. And yet, as in the Soviet case, US-UK aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq was justified as a response to attacks that were “unprovoked”. Blair even cited the 9/11 attacks as evidence to this effect on the grounds that the attacks had taken place long before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In both the West and the USSR, the occupations were, and are, presented as fundamentally well-intentioned acts motivated by rational fears and humanitarian aspirations.

In Accordance With International Law

According to the Soviet government, the 1979 invasion was justified by international law (Pravda, December 31, 1979; Gareev, 1996, p.40) and was “in complete accordance with… the 1978 Soviet-Afghan Treaty”. (Izvestiya, January 1, 1980) The Soviet state had to honour its obligations “to provide armed support to the Afghan national army”. (Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, p.47)

In 1988, Izvestiya quoted general Boris Gromov, the commander of Soviet troops in Afghanistan:

“We came to Afghanistan at the end of 1979 at the request of the lawful government [of Afghanistan] and in accordance with the agreement between our countries based on the… Charter of the United Nations.” (Izvestiya, July 2, 1988)

Soviet journalists consistently supported these claims. Pravda and Izvestiya wrote in 1980 that Soviet forces were in Afghanistan “at the request of the [Afghan] government with the only goal to protect the friendly Afghan people” (Pravda, March 16, 1980) and “to help [this] neighbouring country… to repel external aggression”. (Izvestiya, January 3, 1980)

Such views were frequently expressed by Soviet elites and mainstream journalists. The 1980 issue of International Annual: Politics and Economics, published by the Soviet Academy of Science, observed that the Afghan government “repeatedly asked the USSR” to provide “military aid”. The “Soviet government granted the [Afghan] request, and the limited contingent of Soviet troops was sent into the country,” Mezhdunarodnyi Ezhegodnik noted (1980, p.208). Such actions were entirely in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter and Article 4 of the [Soviet-Afghan] Treaty of December 5, 1978, Ezhegodnik added. (1981, p.224)

Soviet leaders and commentators criticised and debated, not the fundamental +illegality+ of the invasion, but the merit of the +strategies+ for achieving its goals.

Soviet Chief of General Staff Ogarkov argued in 1979 (before the invasion), that the decision to send troops to Afghanistan was “inexpedient” because the initial invasion force of 75,000 was insufficient to the task, which was to “stabilise the situation in Afghanistan.” It was “impossible to achieve this goal with such a [small] force”, he claimed. (Quoted, Lyahovsky & Zabrodin, 1991, p.59). General Gareev, a top Soviet advisor to the Afghan armed forces, argued in his memoirs that “from the military point of view, it was perhaps more advisable to conduct a more massive and powerful invasion of Afghanistan”. (Gareev, 1996, pp.45-46)

In the 1980s, the invasion was seen by many Russians as a “mistake” rather than a crime. The attack was deemed legal and well-intentioned, but poorly executed and at excessive cost to the +Soviets+ – a view that is commonly held to this day. Apart from extremely rare exceptions describing Soviet “participation in the Afghan war” as “criminal” (Trud [Labour] newspaper, January 22, 1992), the invasion has almost never been described as an act of Soviet aggression.

When the US and UK governments talk of their “just cause” in Afghanistan they are essentially repeating the Soviet newspaper Izvestiya which quoted an Afghan official declaring that the Soviet and Afghan soldiers were fighting “for a just cause and happy new life for all Afghan people”. (Izvestiya, January 14, 1986)

Similarly, and almost exactly echoing Izvestiya, an Observer editorial commented in October 2006:

“The UK has responsibilities to the elected democratic government of Iraq, under a UN mandate. Britain must honour its commitments to its partners in Baghdad and in Washington.” (Leader, ‘Blair should heed the general’s reality check,’ The Observer, October 15, 2006)

While the manifest illegality of the 2003 Iraq invasion is presented by newspapers like the Observer as a kind of initial teething problem rendered irrelevant by a subsequent “UN mandate“, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan takes a different view:

“The Security Council’s mandate was for us to help the Iraqi people. I don’t think one can say that the Security Council sanctioned the occupation of Iraq, it merely noted the occupation of Iraq and asked the UN to help the Iraqi people…“ (Mark Disney, On The Edge, August 2007)

The only US/UK responsibility under international law is to leave.

Closely echoing Soviet performance, the US-UK media essentially never challenge the fundamental and obvious illegality of both invasions, focusing also on “mistakes”. Reviewing the situation in Iraq, Timothy Garton Ash wrote in the Guardian:

“… the question being asked here [Washington], even by staunch Republicans who share the president’s goals, is: why has the Bush administration been so incompetent?” (Garton Ash, ‘Iraq’s government has failed, but America’s isn’t doing so well either,’ The Guardian, September 6, 2007)

For Garton Ash, as for most Guardian commentators, the key issue is “incompetence”, not the supreme criminality that is the waging of a war of aggression.

On August 20, 2007, the New York Times website linked to an article titled, ‘The Good War, Still to Be Won,’ with the synopsis: “We will never know just how much better the fight in Afghanistan might be going if it had been managed more competently over the past six years.” (New York Times, August 20, 2007)

This closely echoes Soviet media performance on the 1979 invasion, where there was also close to zero recognition of the illegality of the invasion, as described reflexively in the Western media at the time. Ironically, contemporary US-UK media are closely matching the Soviet propaganda they ridiculed in the 1970s and 1980s.

To their credit, the Soviet media did at least, on occasion, +mention+ the issue of international law. In their book, The Record Of The Paper, Howard Friel and Richard Falk note that in the seventy editorials on Iraq that appeared in the New York Times from September 11, 2001, to March 21, 2003, the words ‘UN Charter’ and ‘international law’ never appeared. (Friel and Falk, The Record Of The Paper: How The New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy, Verso, 2004, p.15)

We asked Hugh Sykes, a BBC journalist reporting from Baghdad, for his opinion on the issue of legality in relation to the invasion of Iraq. Sykes replied:

“The Americans et al always say they are here ‘at the invitation of the democratically elected Iraqi government’.

“It certainly WAS an illegal occupation before the elections in 2005, but is it still illegal?

“I tend not to put phrases like that into reports because I think I should stick to reporting events and providing analysis when asked.” (Email to Media Lens, September 9, 2007)

Imagine a comparable comment from a BBC journalist in the 1980s:

‘The Soviets et al always say they are here ‘at the invitation of the democratically elected Afghan government’. It certainly WAS an illegal occupation before… but is it still illegal?’

In fact, of course, Western reporters were never in doubt about the truth of the Soviet invasion. When we conducted a search of newspaper archives, we found, for example, dozens of media references in the 1980s to the Soviet “puppet government” in Kabul. The New York Times commented in 1988:

“Soviet troop withdrawal will leave behind a puppet Government whose ministries are laced with Soviet ‘’advisers.’” (A.M. Rosenthal, ‘The great game goes on,’ New York Times, February 12, 1988)

In February 1990, Tony Allen-Mills reported for the Independent:

“Many former freedom fighters have made their peace with the puppet government left behind by the departing Soviet army.” (Allen-Mills, Out of Kabul: ‘Why pride must not come before a Najibullah fall,’ The Independent, February 19, 1990)

By contrast, the same newspaper reported of the Taliban in June 2006:

“Their focus is the ‘puppet’ government of Mr Karzai and its complicity in what is portrayed as the Western military persecution of ordinary Afghans.” (Tom Coghlan, ‘Karzai questions Nato campaign as Taliban takes to hi-tech propaganda,’ The Independent, June 23, 2006)

Readers will search long and hard before they find an example of a news reporter describing the current Afghan government as a “puppet government” without the use of inverted commas.

As for the idea that BBC journalists avoid controversial “phrases” and merely “stick to reporting events“, the day after Sykes’ reply the BBC website observed:

“The surge was designed to allow space for political reconciliation…” (‘US surge “failure” says Iraq poll, BBC online, September 10, 2007; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6983841.stm)

It is not, in fact, less controversial to suggest that the massive increase in US violence “was designed to allow space for political reconciliation”, than it is to argue that the invasion was illegal.

Blaming ‘External Interference’

A striking feature of Soviet media performance on Afghanistan was its focus on “external interference” – primarily US in origin – and the role of this interference in fuelling the war.

In 1988, Pravda reported that Afghan president Najibula had criticised this ”interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan”. (Pravda, February 9, 1988) The newspaper failed to mention that the Soviet Union was itself guilty of illegal external “interference“. Instead, journalists blamed the West for ”pouring oil onto the fire of the Afghan conflict”. (Pravda, February 22, 1987) Ignoring the fact that much of the fighting in Afghanistan was in +response+ to the Soviet occupation, the media were also heavily critical of Iran and Pakistan.

Iran was criticised for “supporting the armed Islamic opposition” and for “sending its political emissaries and agents into the territory of Afghanistan”. (Spolnikov, 1990, pp.104-105) Russian journalist Andrei Greshnov, who worked as a TASS correspondent in Afghanistan for eight years in the 1980s, describes in his book “Afghanistan: Hostages of Time” (2006) how for several years, starting in the early 1980s, he was tasked with collecting information on Iranian Shia infiltration across the Afghan border near Herat. Iranian influence was very tangible in Western Afghanistan and widely confirmed by the testimony of Soviet soldiers interviewed (by Lanine) over the last 20 years.

We wonder how the Western media would have reacted if, in response to claims that Tehran had supported the Afghan insurgency and resisted their illegal invasion, Soviet officials had proposed bombing Iran. One can only guess at the level of Western outrage and horror at such a clear example of Soviet aggression, if an attack +had+ taken place. Presumably the press would never have tired of reminding us that the Soviets’ real goal in the region was control of oil.

The Soviet press also directed fierce criticism at Pakistan for training and aiding Afghan jihadis, and for providing “the bridgehead for an undeclared war against [Afghanistan]”. (Izvestiya, February 19, 1986) Readers were left with the impression that “external interference” and “terrorism” were the +only+ reasons for the continuing bloodshed, with Soviet troops acting in self-defence to bring “stability” to Afghanistan. In most reporting, the Soviet role in sustaining the conflict was not even a consideration.

The Soviet media heavily emphasised that weapons captured by Soviet and Afghan troops “were manufactured in the USA, UK, Italy, Iran, Pakistan”. (Izvestiya, July 7, 1987) These arms were “arriving from Iran [and] Pakistan” (Komsomolskaya Pravda, March 4, 1987), and “exploding and shooting in Afghanistan, killing children, women, soldiers…”. (Komsomolskaya Pravda, January 14, 1986)

Closely echoing Soviet government propaganda, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on October 25, 2007:

“Unfortunately the Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security by… supporting Shia militants in Iraq and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.” (‘US imposes new sanctions on Iran,’ BBC website, October 25, 2007)

As in the Soviet case, the US-UK media have heavily boosted the US-UK governments’ emphasis on “external interference“. A June 17, 2007, New York Times report observed:

“American forces have begun a wide offensive against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia on the outskirts of Baghdad.” (Thom Shanker and Michael Gordon, ‘GIs in Iraq open major offensive against al Qaeda,’ New York Times, June 17, 2007)

The BBC’s Andrew North emphasised the same alleged enemy:

“10,000 US and Iraqi troops are taking part in an operation against al-Qaeda.” (North, ‘US launches major Iraq offensive,’ BBC Online, June 19, 2007; http://news.bbc.co.uk/ go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/6766217.stm)

Occasional glimpses of truth defy the rhetoric. The Iraq Study Group Report, published in December 2006, concluded:

“Most attacks on Americans still come from the Sunni Arab insurgency… Al Qaeda is responsible for a small portion of the violence in Iraq, but that includes some of the more spectacular acts.” (The Iraq Study Group Report, December 6, 2006; www.usip.org/isg/iraq_study_group_report/ report/1206/iraq_study_group_report.pdf)

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the British army, said of Iraq in September, 2007:

“By motivation… our opponents are Iraqi nationalists, and are most concerned with their own needs – the majority are not bad people.” (Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Embrace returning troops, pleads army chief,’ The Guardian, September 22, 2007)

This was a remarkable comment – it is hard to recall any journalist ever contradicting government demonisation of the Iraqi resistance so completely. A more typical description was provided by senior ITN correspondent James Mates in June 2004, when he reviled the “determined and brutal terrorists” threatening Iraq, which was “now sovereign”. (ITN, 18:30 News, June 28, 2004) There is indeed hideous terrorism in Iraq, but British journalists generally find it simpler, more convenient, to include all insurgents in this category.

Reflexive demonisation of Iran is also, of course, a constant focus of media reporting. A New York Times article observed:

“U.S. Says Iranian Arms Seized in Afghanistan” (New York Times, April 18, 2007). These “new signs of interference by Iran have raised concerns about the obstacles to a stable and democratic postwar Iraq”. (‘U.S. warns Iran against interference,” The Sun, Baltimore, April 24, 2003)

In similar vein, the Observer reported in August:

“The conflict in Helmand has morphed way beyond that of crushing the Taliban. The nightmare scenario has unfolded: the Helmand valley has mutated into a geopolitical battleground for jihadists, a blooding ground for budding martyrs from across the globe.

“Convoys of Toyota Land Cruisers carrying holy warriors stream daily from Pakistan’s porous border to target British teenagers.” (Mark Townsend, ‘Afghan Conflict: ‘It’s bleak and ferocious, but is it still winnable?’, The Observer, August 19, 2007)

An Independent leader commented:

“There must be an acceptance also that the Taliban will never be utterly defeated until they are denied a safe haven in the western provinces of Pakistan.” (Leader, ‘Politicians must accept the reality on the ground,’ The Independent, August 14, 2007)

The point is not that external support for the resistance in Afghanistan and Iraq exists, as it certainly existed for insurgents fighting the Soviets in the 1980s. The point is that, in contemporary Western media, as in the Soviet case, the non-Western source of “external interference” is reflexively condemned as illegitimate, while the legitimacy of US-UK “external interference” is simply assumed.

Patriotism And ‘Backing Our Troops’

In their speeches, Soviet officials regularly affirmed the military’s “deep belief in the noble cause of helping the friendly nation” of Afghanistan (Pravda, 15 May 1988), stressing that Soviet advisors were working “shoulder to shoulder with… Afghans”. (Zhitnuhin, & Likoshin, 1990, p.169)

One Soviet journalist claimed of Soviet political advisors:

“They went to Afghanistan with a sincere belief in the high purpose of their mission. For most of them this belief grew into a conviction.” (Zhitnuhin, & Likoshin, p.171)

The steady supply of media stories lauding the motivation and heroism of the troops on the ground reflected the high status of the military in Soviet society. The writings of most “embedded” journalists who spent time with troops were full of admiration and respect for all ranks from privates to generals. Even Gennady Bocharov, whose book on Afghanistan is full of harsh criticism of the Soviet system, presents a sympathetic account of Soviet soldiers, and also of Gromov, the commander of the Soviet occupation. Bocharov describes Gromov as a “charming general” with “more compassion than any priest” who, nonetheless, “as a regular army man… carried out his inhuman mission in Afghanistan with precision and efficiency”. (Bocharov, 1990, p.142)

Similar sentiments expressed towards front-line troops are found throughout Greshnov’s book and provide a striking contrast to his harsh critique of the Soviet military leadership. He describes how, on one occasion, his bonding with Soviet troops left him speechless with emotion.

These ties were naturally reflected in reporting by most journalists that depicted fighting men as brave and selfless, in many cases justifiably. But, more generally, the media’s emphasis on the heroism of individual soldiers helped bury the hidden, deeper truths, namely: the illegality and appalling destructiveness of the invasion.

Western journalism is of course similarly full of patriotic praise for troops under fire. As US tanks arrived in Baghdad and US troops prepared to topple a statue of Saddam Hussein, ITN’s veteran correspondent, Mike Nicholson, was positively gleeful:

“They’ve covered his face in the Stars and Stripes! This gets better by the minute… Ha ha, better by the minute.” (Tonight with Trevor McDonald, ITV, April 11, 2003)

Nicholson was describing the completion of an appalling act of aggression, a war that had been launched illegally. And as we commented at the time, even the troops draping the US flag over the face of Saddam Hussein’s statue quickly understood that this was a deeply offensive and foolish act.

Thus, also, the BBC’s version of events in Iraq:

“You can marvel at the Americans’ can-do spirit… in the [US] sergeant’s case the will to carry on comes from a sense of responsibility towards the people of Iraq.” (Mark Urban, ‘”Can-do” spirit of US troops in Baghdad,’ Newsnight, May 17, 2007)

Another BBC journalist, Paul Wood, recently described his “journey through Iraq’s Sunni heartland with the soldiers of the 101st Airborne”. Wood concluded his article with these comments on the US forces:

“They must win here if they are to leave Iraq.

“Even if things are turning around, their local allies remain uncertain, the population divided, the casualties, although reduced, keep coming.

“There is much still to do.” (Wood, ‘Voyage into Iraq’s Sunni centre,’ BBC website, October 26, 2007; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7063603.stm)

Despite all the deceptions, false pretexts, evident illegality, and evident motive of control of oil, Wood presented the occupation as a peacekeeping operation. This is indistinguishable from the performance of the totalitarian Soviet press in the 1980s.

Timothy Richard, a former soldier with Iowa Army National Guard, who refused to deploy to Iraq and became a war resister, writes:

“The problem with the media’s perception in the US, is what I’ve come to call the ‘cult of the soldier’.” (Email to Lanine, August 10, 2007)

Richard says that the media followed the government’s lead in creating the slogan “Support our Troops”, so that even opponents of the war felt obliged to conform.

Soviet critics of the Afghan war were also accused of a shameful lack of patriotism and a failure to support the troops. Thus, in 1988, Izvestiya quoted general Gromov’s reference to “irresponsible” comments by people who “doubt the heroic deeds” of Soviet soldiers: “Nobody, not a single person in our country, has the right to ruin the faith of young people in the sanctity of the military biography that wasn’t lived in vain.” (Izvestiya, July 2, 1988)

Invisible Civilian Casualties

The Soviet media completely suppressed the devastating consequences of the occupation for the civilian population of Afghanistan. On occasions when the cost of the war was discussed, it focused on the cost to the Soviet Union. It is estimated that 1.5 million Afghans (Bradsher, 1999) and 15,000 Soviets (The New York Times, February 16, 1989) died during the nine years of fighting. But the Soviet media had little interest in Afghan casualties. Aside from a tiny number of dissidents, few voiced concern for a civilian population that bore the brunt of the suffering.

Even during Gorbachev’s semi-liberal reforms of the late 1980s, discussion of Afghan suffering was strictly prohibited. Andrei Greshnov describes how he repeatedly wrote about Afghan civilian casualties in the monthly classified reports submitted by all TASS journalists to the Soviet leadership in Moscow (it was of course important for decision makers to know the truth of the situation on the ground). Greshnov recalls:

“The government +knew+ the truth about the situation in Afghanistan, including about civilian casualties – I personally wrote about it. But such information was never allowed to reach the general public through the mainstream Soviet press.” (Phone interview with Lanine, August 8, 2007)

By contrast, Western journalists are largely unconstrained by state controls. And yet, in early January 2002, American writer Edward Herman estimated that media coverage afforded to the death of Nathan Chapman – the first and, at that point, sole US combat casualty of the invasion of Afghanistan – had exceeded coverage afforded to +all+ Afghan victims of bombing and starvation. CNN Chair Walter Isaacson is reported to have declared that it “seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan“. (Howard Kurtz, ‘CNN chief orders “balance” in war news,’ Washington Post, October 31, 2001)

The US-UK bombing of Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001. On September 19, 2001, the Guardian had reported forty deaths per day in Maslakh refugee camp to the west of Herat in Afghanistan, “many because they arrive too weak to survive after trying to hold out in their villages“ as the threat of bombing shut down all aid convoys. By January 2002, Maslakh contained 350,000 people, making it the largest refugee camp in the world at that time. Aid agencies reported that 100 people were dying every day in the camp.

Occasional references to this disaster did appear. Between September 2001 and January 2002, the Guardian and Observer mentioned Maslakh a total of five times – an average of once per month. A Lexis-Nexis database search in May 2005 showed that Maslakh had been mentioned 21 times over the previous four years in all UK national newspapers.

On October 29, 2004, the prestigious scientific journal, The Lancet, published a report by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, and Columbia University, New York: ‘Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey.’ (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/ article/PIIS0140673604174412/fulltext)

The authors estimated that almost 100,000 more Iraqi civilians had died than would have been expected had the invasion not occurred. The report was met with instant (and as it turns out, fraudulent) government dismissals, and a low-key, sceptical response, or outright silence, in the media. There was no horror, no outrage.

Our media search in November 2004, showed that the Lancet report had at that time not been mentioned at all by the Observer, the Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Star, the Sun and many others. The Express devoted 71 words to the report. A similar reception awaited the October 2006 Lancet study, which reported 655,000 excess deaths since the 2003 invasion.

This, however, does represent a difference from, and improvement over, Soviet media performance, which suppressed almost all discussion of civilian casualties. The Western media +does+ discuss casualties, but it consistently and heavily downplays the true cost of US-UK violence. As with the Soviet media, the concern is invariably for the cost to ‘us’. Also, the suffering is inevitably portrayed as unavoidable – alternative action would have resulted in far worse suffering, we are told – or the result of ‘mistakes’ rooted in benevolent intentions.

A further difference is that the Western media system is to an important extent responsive to media activism – rational criticism +does+ have an impact. However limited, this represents a valuable avenue for improving media performance.

The Cost of Leaving

In the 1980s, the continued presence of Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan was justified on the grounds that leaving would result in an even bloodier civil war. In his speech, published in Izvestiya on February 10, 1988, Gorbachev asked:

“Are military clashes going to intensify after the withdrawal of Soviet troops? It is hardly necessary to prophesy, but… such a development can be prevented if those who are now fighting against their brothers will take a responsible position and try, in practice, to join peaceful reconstruction.”

The Soviet leadership claimed that they would leave Afghanistan only on the condition that “external interference stops”(Pravda, January 7,1988) and that “the faster the pace of establishing peace on Afghan soil, the easier it will be for Soviet troops to leave”. (Izvestiya, February 10, 1988)

Again, the official position was echoed uncritically by the Soviet media. Writing of planned negotiations in Geneva on the future of Afghanistan, Pravda’s commentator Ovchinnikov stressed that “the cessation of external interference” in Afghanistan was a precondition that would “allow Soviet troops to withdraw”. He accused the US administration of avoiding positive solutions and stressed that the problem was “not the date of the beginning of the Soviet troops’ withdrawal but the date of the stopping of American aid to [the mujahideen]”. Ovchinnikov literally repeated the official line that Soviet soldiers “will leave Afghanistan with a sense of duty accomplished when external interference stops”. (Pravda, January 11, 1988)

The journal Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn commented:

“It is professed that as soon as we leave [Afghanistan], there will be a slaughter, slaughter, slaughter. My experience in Afghanistan indicates that, probably, there will be a civil war, [and] there will be fighting. This is an internecine war. When I was flying out of Afghanistan last year, I thought that after our withdrawal some part of NDPA would be wiped out by the vengeful Islamic movement.” (Prohanov, Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn [International Affairs] #7, 1988)

In similar vein, the Financial Times wrote in April: “this grim situation could easily get worse – if the Americans pulled out too quickly, or set a deadline for withdrawal that simply encouraged their foes to wait them out Iraq could tip into a full-scale civil war”. (Leader, ‘No easy way out of Iraq Congress should not set an arbitrary deadline for withdrawal,’ Financial Times, April 11, 2007)

By contrast, Moskovskie Novosti argued that the rationale for staying had not been the whole story:

“The withdrawal of the Soviet troops raised a lot of defence problems for Afghanistan, but also opened the road for the solution of political problems.” (Moskovskie Novosti, May 21, 1989)

The 2004 BBC documentary, The Power of Nightmares, featured a 1987 debate between a Soviet journalist and commentator Vladimir Pozner (mistakenly identified in the documentary as a “Soviet spokesman in the US”), and American intellectuals, including Richard Perle, then Assistant Secretary of Defense. Pozner commented:

“I believe that we can get out [of Afghanistan], provided that no more aid is given to what people here call ‘freedom fighters‘, and we call ‘counter-revolutionaries‘. I believe that’s possible, provided that the United States is also interested in the same.”

Perle responded:

“Well, it’s not very complicated. They arrived in a matter of days, on Christmas Eve in 1979; they could be home by Christmas Eve, if they decided to leave Afghanistan and let the Afghans decide their own future. If you leave, the problem of support to the mujaheddin solves itself.” (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/video1038.htm)

Not quite the American position with regards to its own occupations today.

Soviet And Western Media – Similarities And Differences

Western reviews of Soviet media performance generally patronise Soviet journalists as submissive, eager functionaries of a state propaganda machine. These analyses fail to take into account the extreme difficulty of reporting honestly from within a totalitarian system. Unlike Western journalists, Soviet reporters were extremely vulnerable and essentially powerless. In a society where everyone was “merely a cog in a gigantic state-party machine,” Bocharov writes, “journalists played the part of rivets. If the body of the machine vibrated, then every rivet had to vibrate with it. And not individually, but together”. (Bocharov, p.56)

Why did Russian journalists who had extensively covered the victims of US aggression in Vietnam just a few years earlier not try to expose the truth of Afghan suffering?

The fact is that some +did+ try. This is made clear in the writings of Soviet journalists, two of whom (Andrei Greshnov and Sergei Bukovsky) Lanine recently interviewed by phone and email. For these journalists to even ask awkward questions was to place their careers in jeopardy. Those who were openly critical faced far more serious consequences.

Radio Moscow news announcer Vladimir Danchev famously called Soviet troops in Afghanistan “invaders” and “occupiers”, and even called on Afghans to continue their resistance. Danchev was quickly taken off air, investigated by the KGB, and forced to undergo psychiatric treatment (relatively mild punishment that reflected international awareness of Danchev‘s plight. See: New York Times, May 27 and December 15, 1983).

Other Soviet journalists had little choice but to stick to the official line. In the 1980s, multiple layers of censorship strictly blocked all attempts to discuss Afghan civilian casualties. Bocharov describes (1990) how we was forbidden even from mentioning +Soviet+ casualties (p.53) – to refer to the deaths of Afghan civilians was unthinkable. Articles by Soviet journalists from Afghanistan “were edited mercilessly”, Bocharov writes:

“The final touches would be applied in Moscow” by the civilian and military censorship. (pp.51-52)

In an email to Lanine (July 22, 2007), Bukovsky recalled how, in 1988, he published an article exposing the role of senior military incompetence in the deaths of Special Forces soldiers. Such courageous expressions of defiance were so unusual that Bukovsky was convinced he would be arrested along with the senior military censor, who Bukovsky describes as a “decent officer” who “fought hard with” him “for every word” in the published article. After the piece was published on July 14, 1988, Bukovsky and his censor expected officials to arrive and arrest them.

The arrest never happened, but the military censor was officially reprimanded and fell out of favour with his superiors. Bukovsky was interrogated by military counter-intelligence and his loyalty challenged. He was also strongly criticised for quoting a Soviet officer to the effect that Afghan insurgents “never leave their dead and wounded behind” – a comment that contradicted the official depiction of the Mujahadeen as “foul, blood-thirsty rogues”. “I was [literally] spat at” for writing that, Bukovsky recalls.

The relationship of the Western media to centres of power is very different. By comparison with Soviet media workers who, Bocharov emphasises, “wrote what they were +ordered+ to [italics added]”, Western journalists have much greater freedom. And yet, crucially, the outcomes of media coverage on major themes – the illegality of launching wars of aggression, the fraudulence of alleged humanitarian motives, and the costs to civilian populations – are much the same. In both cases, a misinformed population was, and is, bombarded with “necessary illusions.”

Western media have presented the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan from within strikingly similar frameworks to those provided by the Soviet government and media:

‘We’ (US-UK and the USSR) are acting in self-defence, out of good intentions, at the request of foreign governments and/or to spread democracy, while our enemies commit acts of aggression against us and the people we are trying to help.

‘Our’ goal is stability and peace – our enemies strive to intimidate through terror.

‘We’ act according to international law – our enemies are criminal, murderous, morally indefensible and guilty of “external interference“.

‘Our’ attempts to promote ‘values’ abroad are noble because inherently superior – our enemies’ values are medieval, irrational or non-existent.

The most revealing similarity is that the Western media fail, just as the Soviet media failed, to ask the most crucial questions:

By what legal and moral +right+ did we invade in the first place?

Without exploring these fundamental issues, and without incorporating honest answers in frameworks of reporting, the media neglect their most important task – the task described by the courageous Israeli journalist Amira Hass: “to monitor power”.

Like the Soviet media, Western professional journalists adopt and echo government statements as their own, as self-evidently true, without subjecting them to rational analysis and challenge. As a result, they allow themselves to become the mouthpieces of state power. It is fundamentally the same role performed by the media under Soviet totalitarianism.

The consequences for the victims of Soviet and US-UK state power are also fundamentally the same.

Selected Bibliography

In Russian

Gareev, M.A. (1996). Moya Poslednyaya Voina (Afganistan bez Sovetskih Voisk). [My Last War (Afghanistan Without Soviet Troops)]. Moscow: Insan.

Greshnov, A. (2006). Afganistan: Zalozhniki Vremeni [Afghanistan: Hostages of Time], Moskva: Tovarishestvo Nauchnih Izdanii KMK.

Gromov, B.V. (1994). Ogranichenny Kontingent [The Limited Contingent]. Moscow: “Progress” Publishing Group.

Lyahovsky, A.A., & Zabrodin, V.M. (1991). Taini Afganskoi Voini [Secrets of the Afghan War]. Moscow: Planeta.

Spolnikov, V.N. (1990, c1989). Afganistan. Islamskaya Opozitsiya: Istoki i Tsel. [Afghanistan: Islamic Opposition [and its] Origins and Goals], Moscow: Nauka.

Zhitnuhin, A.P. & Likoshin, S.A. (ed.) (1990). Zvezda nad Gorodom Kabulom. [The Star over Kabul-city], Moscow: Molodaya Gvardiya [Young Guards]. (Chapter “The light on the summit” about Soviet advisers who worked in Afghanistan with Democratic Organization of Afghan Youth, p.169-)
In English
BBC Broadcast (2004). The Power of Nightmares. Part II: The Phantom Victory. Retrieved from www.informationclearinghouse.info/video1038.htm

Bocharov, G. (1990). Russian Roulette: Afghanistan Through Russian Eyes. NY: A Cornelia & Michel Bessie Book.

Bradsher, H.S. (1999). Afghan Communism and Soviet Intervention. Oxford [Oxfordshire]; New York: Oxford University Press.

Varennikov, V. (1998). CNN Interview for 1998 CNN’s “Cold War” series, Episode 20: Soldiers of God. www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/20/interviews/varennikov/

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