Archive for the ‘Black Ops’ Category

Moles Wanted

May 22, 2008

In preparation for the Republican National Convention, the FBI is soliciting informants to keep tabs on local protest groups

Moles Wanted

By Matt Snyders

They were looking for an informant to show up at

They were looking for an informant to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors.

Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.

Once he arrived home from the Hennepin County Courthouse, where he’d been served a gross misdemeanor for spray-painting the interior of a campus elevator, the lanky, wavy-haired University of Minnesota sophomore flipped open his phone and checked his messages. He was greeted by a voice he recognized immediately. It belonged to U of M Police Sgt. Erik Swanson, the officer to whom Carroll had turned himself in just three weeks earlier. When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn’t in trouble.

Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.

“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect personality—they kept saying I was friendly and personable—for what they were looking for.”

What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”

Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.

“I’ll pass,” said Carroll.

For 10 more minutes, Mazzola and Swanson tried to sway him. He remained obstinate.

“Well, if you change your mind, call this number,” said Mazzola, handing him her card with her cell phone number scribbled on the back.

(Mazzola, Swanson, and the FBI did not return numerous calls seeking comment.)

Carroll’s story echoes a familiar theme. During the lead-up the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the NYPD’s Intelligence Division infiltrated and spied on protest groups across the country, as well as in Canada and Europe. The program’s scope extended to explicitly nonviolent groups, including street theater troupes and church organizations.

There were also two reported instances of police officers, dressed as protestors, purposefully instigating clashes. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD orchestrated a fake arrest to incite protestors. When a blond man was “arrested,” nearby protestors began shouting, “Let him go!” The helmeted police proceeded to push back against the crowd with batons and arrested at least two. In a similar instance, during an April 29, 2005, Critical Mass bike ride in New York, video footage captured a “protestor”—in reality an undercover cop—telling his captor, “I’m on the job,” and being subsequently let go.

Minneapolis’s own recent Critical Mass skirmish was allegedly initiated by two unidentified stragglers in hoods—one wearing a handkerchief over his or her face—who “began to make aggressive moves” near the back of the pack. During that humid August 31 evening, officers went on to arrest 19 cyclists while unleashing pepper spray into the faces of bystanders. The hooded duo was never apprehended.

In the scuffle’s wake, conspiracy theories swirled that the unprecedented surveillance—squad cars from multiple agencies and a helicopter hovering overhead—was due to the presence of RNC protesters in the ride. The MPD publicly denied this. But during the trial of cyclist Gus Ganley, MPD Sgt. David Stichter testified that a task force had been created to monitor the August 31 ride and that the department knew that members of an RNC protest group would be along for the ride.

“This is all part of a larger government effort to quell political dissent,” says Jordan Kushner, an attorney who represented Ganley and other Critical Mass arrestees. “The Joint Terrorism Task Force is another example of using the buzzword ‘terrorism’ as a basis to clamp down on people’s freedoms and push forward a more authoritarian government.”

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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.

Alleged Trainer Of 9/11 Hijackers a CIA Informant

November 27, 2007

Alleged Trainer Of 9/11 Hijackers a CIA Informant
Sakka attempts to plug holes in 9/11 official story, claims Hanjour did not pilot Flight 77

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

digg_title = ‘Alleged Trainer Of 9/11 Hijackers a CIA Informant’; digg_bodytext = ‘The man who claims to have trained six of the 9/11 hijackers is a paid CIA informant according to Turkish intelligence specialists, who also assert that Al-Qaeda is merely the name of a secret service operation designed to foment a strategy of tension around the world.’;

The man who claims to have trained six of the 9/11 hijackers is a paid CIA informant according to Turkish intelligence specialists, who also assert that Al-Qaeda is merely the name of a secret service operation designed to foment a strategy of tension around the world.

In a London Times report, Louai al-Sakka, now incarcerated in a high-security Turkish prison 60 miles east of Istanbul, claims that he trained six of the 9/11 hijackers at a camp in the mountains near Istanbul from 1999-2000.

Sakka was imprisoned in 2005 after being caught making bombs that he planned to use to blow up Israeli vessels. Sakka asserts that he is a leading Al-Qaeda operative, having directed insurgency attacks in Iraq and also the beheading of Briton Kenneth Bigley in October 2004.

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.

“But, as with many things in the world of Al-Qaeda, there might be smoke and mirrors,” reports the Times. “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.”

However, when one considers what other experts have said about Sakka, it appears that his intentions towards “western agencies” are anything but deceptive – since Turkish intelligence analysts concluded that Sakka has been a CIA asset all along.

Prominent Turkish newspaper Zaman reported that Sakka was hired as a CIA informant in 2000, after receiving a large sum of money from the agency. This would explain why he was “captured” but then released on two separate occasions by the CIA during the course of 2000.

Sakka was later captured by Turkish intelligence but again ordered to be released after which he moved to Germany to assist the alleged 9/11 hijackers.

Shortly before 9/11, Sakka was allegedly hired by Syrian intelligence – to whom he gave a warning that the attacks were coming on September 10th, 2001.

In his book At the Center of the Storm, former CIA director George Tenet writes, that “a source we were jointly running with a Middle Eastern country went to see his foreign handler and basically told him something big was about to go down.”

“This is very likely a reference to Sakra, since no one else comes close to matching the description of telling a Middle Eastern government about the 9/11 attacks one day in advance, not to mention working as an informant for the CIA at the same time. Tenet’s revelation strongly supports the notion that Sakra in fact accepted the CIA’s offers in 2000 and had been working with the CIA and other intelligence agencies at least through 9/11 ,” writes 9/11 researcher Paul Thompson, who was also interviewed for the London Times article.

Were the alleged “interrogations” of Sakka on behalf of the CIA merely a smokescreen to enable instructions to be passed on? This is certainly the view of Turkish intelligence experts, who go further and conclude that “Al-Qaeda” as a whole is merely a front group for western intelligence agencies used to foment a “strategy of tension” around the world.

Is Sakka still in the employ of western intelligence agencies? His apparent effort to plug the holes in the official 9/11 story is fascinating.

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 (Hani Hanjour) “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.

Exactly how “adept” one has to be to pull off maneuvers that would be impossible for veteran crack fighter pilots is not explored in the Times report.

Coup D’État Rumblings in Venezuela by Stephen Lendman

November 19, 2007

Coup D’État Rumblings in Venezuela by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, November 19, 2007

The Bush administration tried and failed three prior times to oust Hugo Chavez since its first aborted two-day coup attempt in April, 2002. Through FOIA requests, lawyer, activist and author Eva Golinger uncovered top secret CIA documents of US involvement that included an intricate financing scheme involving the quasi-governmental agency, National Endowment of Democracy (NED), and US Agency for International Development (USAID). The documents also showed the White House, State Department and National Security Agency had full knowledge of the scheme, had to have approved it, and there’s little doubt of CIA involvement as it’s always part of this kind of dirty business. What’s worrying now is what went on then may be happening again in what looks like a prelude to a fourth made-in-Washington attempt to oust the Venezuelan leader that must be monitored closely as events develop.

Since he took office in February, 1999, and especially after George Bush’s election, Chavez has been a US target, and this time he believes credible sources point to a plot to assassinate him. That information comes from Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh, president of the Hugo Chavez International-Foundation for Peace, Friendship & Solidarity (HCI-FPFS) in a November 11 press release. Sankoh supports Chavez as “a man of peace and flamboyant champion of human dignity (who persists in his efforts in spite of) growing US blackmail, sabotage and political blasphemy.”

HCI-FPFS sources revealed the plot’s code name – “Operation Cleanse Venezuela” that now may be unfolding ahead of the December 2 referendum on constitutional reforms. According to Sankoh, the scheme sounds familiar – CIA and other foreign secret service operatives (including anti-Castro terrorists) aiming to destabilize the Chavez government by using “at least three concrete subversive plans” to destroy the country’s social democracy and kill Chavez.

It involves infiltrating subversive elements into the country, inciting opposition within the military, ordering region-based US forces to shoot down any aircraft used by Chavez, employing trained snipers with shoot to kill orders, and having the dominant US and Venezuelan media act as supportive attack dogs. Chavez is targeted because he represents the greatest of all threats to US hegemony in the region – a good example that’s spreading. Venezuela also has Latin America’s largest proved oil reserves at a time supplies are tight and prices are at all-time highs.

Sankoh calls Washington-directed threats “real” and to “be treated seriously” to avoid extending Bush’s Middle East adventurism to Latin America. He calls for support from the region and world community to denounce the scheme and help stop another Bush administration regime change attempt.

More information on a possible coup plot also came from a November 13 Party for Socialism and Liberation article headlined “New US plots against the Venezuelan Revolution.” It states Tribuna Popular (the Communist Party of Venezuela) and Prensa Latina (the Latin American News Agency) reported: “Between Oct. 7 and Oct 9, high-ranking US officials met in Prague, Czech Republic, with parts of the Venezuelan opposition (where they were) urged to convene social uprisings, sabotage the economy and infrastructure, destroy the food transportation chain and plan a military coup.” It said Paul Wolfowitz and Madeleine Albright attended along with Humberto Celli, “a well-known coup-plotter from the Venezuelan party Accion Democratica.”

The article further reported Tibisay Lucena, The National Electoral Council chairman, said the Venezuelan corporate media was “stoking a mood of violence amongst right-wing students” through a campaign of agitprop, and Hermann Escarra from the “pro-coup” Comando Nacional de la Resistencia openly incited “rebellion” last August and then called for constitutional changes to be stopped “through all means possible.”

The Venezuelan news agency, Diaria VEA, also weighed in saying “anonymous students planned on committing acts of destabilization” as the December 2 vote approaches. Venezuelan Radio Trans Mundial provided proof with a recorded video of a youth dumping gasoline into an armored vehicle, ramming metal barricades into police on top of other vehicles, and knocking them from their roofs and hoods onto the ground.

The Threat of Street Protest Violence

For weeks, protests with sporadic violence have been on Venezuela’s streets as anti-Chavistas use middle and upper class students as imperial tools to destabilize the government and disrupt the constitutional process. The aim is to discredit and oust the Chavez government and return the country to its ugly past with Washington and local oligarchs in charge and the neoliberal model reinstated.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Nicolas Maduro, weighed in on this on November 8. He accused Washington of meddling by staging violent Caracas street protests against proposed constitutional reforms to extend the country’s participatory social democracy. Referring to a November 7 shootout at Caracas’ Central University, he said: “We don’t have any doubt that the government of the United States has their hands in the scheme that led to the ambush yesterday” that Chavez calls a “fascist offensive.” Several students were wounded on the streets from a clash between pro and anti-Chavez elements.

“We know the whole scheme,” Maduro added, and he should as it happened before in 2002, again during the disruptive 2002-03 oil management lockout, and most often as well when elections are held to disrupt the democratic process. These are standard CIA operating tactics used many times before for 50 years in the Agency’s efforts to topple independent leaders and kill them. Chavez understands what’s happening, and he’s well briefed and alerted by his ally, Fidel Castro, who survived over 600 US attempts to kill him since 1959. He’s now 81 and very much alive but going through a difficult recovery from major surgery 15 months ago.

Chavez has widespread popular support throughout the region and from allies like Ecuador’s Raphael Correa and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega who expressed his “solidarity with the revolutionary people of Venezuela and our friend Hugo Chavez, who is being subjected to aggression from a counterrevolution fed by the traitors from inside the country and by the empire (referring to the US).” He compared the situation to his own country where similar efforts are being “financed by the United States Embassy” in Managua to support elements opposed to his Sandinista government even though it’s very accommodative to Washington.

Even Brazil’s Lula chimed in by calling Chavez’s proposed reforms consistent with Venezuela’s democratic norms, and he added: “Please, invent anything to criticize Chavez, except for lack of democracy.”

Constitutional Reform As A Pretext for Protests

Washington’s goal from all this is clear, but why now? Last July, Chavez announced he’d be sending Venezuela’s National Assembly (AN) a proposed list of constitutional reforms to debate, consider and vote on. Under Venezuelan law, the President, National Assembly or 15% of registered voters (by petition) may propose constitutional changes. Under articles 342, 343, 344 and 345, they must then be debated three times in the legislature, amended if needed, and then submitted to a vote that requires a two-thirds majority to pass. Finally within 30 days, the public gets the last word, up or down, in a national referendum. It represents the true spirit of democracy that’s unimaginable in the US where elitists control everything, elections are a sham, and the people have no say.

That was true for Venezuela earlier, but no longer. In its history, there have been 26 Constitutions since its first in 1821, but none like the 1999 Bolivarian one under Chavez that’s worlds apart from the others. It created a model participatory social democracy that gave all citizens the right to vote it up or down by national referendum and then empowered them (or the government) later on to petition for change.

On August 15, Chavez did that by submitting 33 suggested amendment reforms to the Constitution’s 350 articles and explained it this way: The 1999 Constitution needed updating because it’s “ambiguous (and) a product of that moment. The world (today) is very different from (then). (Reforms are) essential for continuing the process of revolutionary transition” to deepen and broaden Venezuelan democracy. That’s his central aim – to create a “new geometry of power” for the people along with more government accountability to them.

Proposed reforms will have little impact on the nation’s fundamental political structure. They will, however, change laws with regard to politics, the economy, property, the military, the national territory as well as the culture and society and will deepen the country’s social democracy.

The National Assembly (AN) completed its work on November 2 adding 25 additional articles to Chavez’s proposal plus another 11 changes for a total of 69 articles that amend one-fifth of the nation’s Constitution. The most important ones include:

– extending existing constitutional law that guarantees human rights and recognizes the country’s social and cultural diversity;

– building a “social economy” to replace the failed neoliberal Washington Consensus model;

– officially prohibiting monopolies and unjust consolidation of economic resources;

– extending presidential terms from six to seven years;

– allowing unlimited presidential reelections so that option is “the sovereign decision of the constituent people of Venezuela” and is a similar to the political process in countries like England, France, Germany and Australia;

– strengthening grassroots communal councils, increasing their funding, and promoting more of them;

– lowering the eligible voting age from 18 to 16;

– guaranteeing free university education to the highest level;

– prohibiting foreign funding of elections and political activity;

– reducing the work week to 36 hours to promote more employment;

– ending the autonomy of Venezuela’s Central Bank to reclaim the country’s financial sovereignty the way it should be everywhere; today nearly all central banks are controlled by private for-profit banking cartels; Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul wants to end that status in the US and correctly explains the Federal Reserve Bank is neither federal nor does it have reserves; it’s owned and run by Wall Street and the major banks;

– adding new forms of collective property under five categories: public for the state, social for citizens, collective for people or social groups, mixed for public and private, and private for individuals or private entities;

– territorial redefinition to distribute resources more equitably to communities instead of being used largely by economic and political elites;

– prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination and enacting gender parity rights for political candidates;

– redefining the military as an “anti-imperialist popular entity;”

– in cases where property is appropriated for the public good, fair and timely compensation to be paid for it;

– protecting the loss of one’s home in cases of bankruptcy; and

– enacting social security protection for the self-employed.

The National Assembly also approved 15 important transitional dispositions. They relate to how constitutional changes will be implemented if approved until laws are passed to regulate them. One provision is for the legislature to pass 15 so-called “organic laws” that include the following ones:

– a law on “popular power” to govern grassroots communal councils (that may number 50,000 by year end) that Chavez called “one of the central ideas….to open, at the constitutional level, the roads to accelerate the transfer of power to the people (in an) Explosion of Communal (or popular) Power;” five percent of state revenues will be set aside to fund it;

– another promoting a socialist economy for the 21st century that Chavez champions even though he remains friendly to business; and

– one relating to the country’s territorial organization; plus others on education, a shorter workweek and more democratic changes.

Under Venezuelan law, and in the true spirit of democracy, these proposed changes will be for citizens to vote up or down on December 2. The process will be in two parts reversing an earlier decision to do it as one package, yea or nay. One part will be Chavez’s 33 reforms plus 13 National Assembly additions, and the other for the remaining 23 articles.

Coup D’Etat Rumblings Must Be Taken Seriously

Now battle lines are drawn, opposition forces are mobilized and events are playing out violently on Venezuela’s streets. The worst so far was on November 7 when CNN falsely reported “80,000″ anti-Chavez students demonstrated “peacefully” in Caracas to denounce “Hugo Chavez’s attempts to expand his power.” The actual best estimates put it between 2000 and 10,000, and long-time Latin American expert James Petras calls the protesters “privileged middle and upper middle class university students,” once again being used as an imperial tool.

In their anti-government zeal, CNN and other dominant media ignore the many pro-Chavez events writer Fred Fuentes calls a “red hurricane” sweeping the country. An impressive one was held on November 4 when the President addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters who participated in an 8.5 kilometer Caracas march while similar pro-reform rallies took place at the same time around the country. They’re the start of a “yes” campaign for a large December 2 turnout that’s vital as polls show strong pro-reform support by a near two to one margin.

In an effort to defuse it, orchestrated opposition turned violent and officials reported eight people were injured in the November 7 incident. No one was killed, but one was wounded by gunfire when at least “four (masked) gunmen (who looked like provocateur plants, not students) fir(ed) handguns at the anti-Chavez crowd.” In an earlier October demonstration, opposition students clashed with police who kept them from reaching the National Assembly building and a direct confrontation with pro-Chavez supporters that might have turned ugly.

It did on November 7 when violence erupted between pro and anti-government students, but it wasn’t as reported. Venezuelan and US corporate media claimed pro-Chavez supporters initiated the attack. In fact, they WERE attacked by elements opposing the President. They seized this time to act ahead of the referendum to disrupt it and destabilize the government as prelude to a possible planned coup.

One pro-Chavez student explained what happened. She and others were erecting posters supporting a “yes” referendum vote when they were attacked with tear gas and crowds yelling they were going to be lynched. Avila TV had the evidence. Its unedited footage showed an opposition student mob surrounding the School of Social Work area where pro-Chavez students hid for safety. They threw Molotov cocktails, rocks, chairs and other objects, smashed windows, and tried to burn down the building as university authorities (responsible for security) stood aside doing nothing to curtail the violence. Another report was that corporate-owned Univision operatives posing as reporters had guns and accompanied the elements attacking the school in an overt act of complicity by the media.

The pattern now unfolding on Caracas streets is similar to what happened ahead of the April, 2002 aborted coup attempt, and Petras calls it “the most serious threat (to the President) since” that time. The corporate media then claimed pro-government supporters instigated street violence and fired on “unarmed” opposition protesters. In fact, that was later proved a lie as anti-Chavez “snipers” did the firing as part of the plot that became the coup. A similar scheme may now be unfolding in Caracas and on other campuses around the country as well.

In his public comments, Foreign Minister Maduro accused the major media and CNN of misrepresenting events and poisoning the political atmosphere. It’s happening in Venezuela and the US as the dominant media attacks Hugo Chavez through a campaign of vilification and black propaganda.

US Corporate Media on the Attack

On November 12, The Venezuela Information Office (VIO) reported that growing numbers of “US print newspapers lodged attacks against Venezuela” using “outdated cold-war generalizations” and without explaining any of the proposed democratic changes. Among others, they came from the Houston Chronicle that claimed:

– constitutional reforms will “eliminate the vestiges of democracy” in Venezuela when, in fact, they’ll strengthen it, and the people will vote them up or down;

– Chavez controls the electoral system when, in fact, Venezuela is a model free, fair and open democracy that shames its US equivalent. The Chronicle falsely said reforms will strip people of their right to due process. In fact, that’s guaranteed under article 337 that won’t be changed.

VIO also reported on a Los Angeles Times editorial comparing Chavez to Bin Laden. It compounded that whopper by claiming reforms will cause a global recession due to higher oil prices that, of course, have nothing to do with changes in law. In another piece, the LA Times inverted the truth by falsely claiming a public majority opposes reforms. Then there’s the Miami Herald predicting an end to freedom of expression if changes pass and the Washington Post commenting on how high oil prices let Chavez buy influence.

The Post then ran an inflamatory November 15 editorial headlined “Mr. Chavez’s Coup” if which it lied by saying November 7 student protesters “were fired on by gunmen (whom) university officials later ‘identified’….as members of government-sponsored ‘paramilitary groups’ when, in fact, there are no such groups. The editorial went on to say Chavez wants to “complete his transformation into an autocrat (to be able to) seize property….dispose of Venezuela’s foreign exchange reserves….impose central government rule on local jurisdictions and declare indefinite states of emergency” as well as suspend due process and freedom of information. Again, misinformation, deliberate distortion and outright lies from a leading quasi-official US house organ.

Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal weighed in as well with its lead anti-Chavez attack dog and all-round character assassin extraordinaire, Mary Anastasia O’Grady. This writer has tangled with her several times before and earlier commented how one day she’ll have a serious back problem because of her rigid position of genuflection to the most extreme hard-right elements she supports. Her latest November 12 column was vintage O’Grady and headlined “More Trouble for Chavez (as) Students and former allies unite against his latest power grab.”

Like most of her others, this one drips with vitriol and outrageous distortions like calling Chavez a “dictator” when, in fact, he’s a model democrat, but that’s the problem for writers like O’Grady. Absent the facts, they use agitprop instead. O’Grady writes: “Mr. Chavez has been working to remove any counterbalances to his power for almost nine years (and) has met strong resistance from property owners, businesses, labor leaders, the Catholic Church and the media.” Now add opposition well-off students. Omitted is that the opposition is a minority, it represents elitist interests, and Chavez has overwhelming public support for his social democracy and proposed reform changes including from most students O’Grady calls “pro-Chavez goons.”

Once again, she’s on a rampage, but that’s her job. She claims the absurd and people believe her – like saying the media will be censored, civil liberties can be suspended, and government will be empowered to seize private property. He’s a “demagogue,” says O’Grady, waging “class warfare,” but opposition to reform “has led to increased speculation (his) days are numbered.” Wishing won’t make it so, and O’Grady uses that line all the time.

The New York Times is also on the attack in its latest anti-Chavez crusade. It’s been a leading Chavez critic for years, and Simon Romero is its man in Caracas. On November 3, he reported “Lawmakers in Venezuela Approve Expanded Power for Chavez (in a) constitutional overhaul (to) enhance (Chavez’s) authority, (allow) him to be reelected indefinitely, and (give) him the power to handpick rulers, to be called vice-presidents, (and) for various new regions to be created in the country….The new amendments would facilitate expropriations of private property (and allow state) security forces to round up citizens (stripped of their) legal protections” if Chavez declares a state of emergency – to make him look like Pakistan’s Musharraf when he’s mirror opposite.

Romero also quoted Jose Manuel Gonzales, president of Venezuela’s Fedecamaras (chamber of commerce), saying “Venezuelan democracy was buried today” and anti-Chavez Roman Catholic church leaders (always allied with elitists) calling the changes “morally unacceptable.” Then on November 8, Romero followed with an article titled “Gunmen Attack Opponents of Chavez’s Bid to Extend Power” and implied they were pro-Chavez supporters. Again false. Still more came on November 10 headlined “Students Emerge as a Leading Force Against Chavez” in an effort to imply most students oppose him when, in fact, these elements are a minority.

His latest so far is on November 17 titled “Chavez’s Vision Shares Wealth and Centers Power” that in fairness shows the President addressing a huge crowd of supporters in Maturin on November 16. But Romero spoiled it by calling his vision “centralized, oil-fueled socialism (with) Chavez (having) significantly enhanced powers.” Then he quotes Chavez biographer Alberto Barrera Tyszka who embarrassed himself and Romero saying the President is seizing and redirecting “power through legitimate means (and this) is not a dictatorship but something more complex,” the ‘tyranny’ of popularity.” In other words, he’s saying democracy is “tyranny.” The rest of the article is just as bad with alternating subtle and hammer blow attacks against a popular President’s aim to deepen his socially democratic agenda and help his people.

Romero’s measured tone outclasses O’Grady’s crudeness that’s pretty standard fare on the Journal’s notorious opinion page. He’s much more dangerous, however, with a byline in the influential “newspaper of record” because of the important audience it commands.

One other notable anti-Chavez piece is in the November 26 issue of the magazine calling itself “the capitalist tool” – Forbes. It shows in its one-sided commentary and intolerance of opposing views. The article in question, headlined “Latin Sinkholes,” is by right wing economist and long-time flack for empire, Steve Hanke. In it, he aims right at Chavez with outrageous comments like calling him a “negative reformer (who) turned back the clock (and) hails Cuba, the largest open-air prison in the Americas, as his model. His revolution’s enemy is the marketplace.” He then cites a World Bank report saying “Venezuela is tied with Zimbabwe as this year’s champion in smothering economic freedom,” and compounds that lie with another whopper.

Point of fact – Venezuela and Argentina have the highest growth rates in the region and are near the top of world rankings in recent years. Following the devastating oil management 2002-03 lockout, Venezuela’s economy took off and grew at double digit rates in 2004, 05 and 06 and will grow a likely 8% this year. Hanke, however, says “Venezuela’s economic performance under Chavez has been anemic (growing) at an average rate of only 2% per year. In the same article, he aims in similar fashion at Ecuador’s Raphael Correa calling him “ruthlessly efficient (for wanting to) pull off a Bolivarian Revolution in Ecuador.” Hanke and most others in the dominant media are of one mind and never let facts contradict their opinions. Outliers won’t be tolerated even when it’s proved their way works best.

There’s lots more criticism like this throughout the dominant media along with commentators calling Chavez “a dictator, another Hitler (and) a threat to democracy.” Ignoring the rules of imperial management has a price. This type media assault is part of it as a prelude for what often follows – attempted regime change.

Further Venezuela Information Office (VIO) Clarification of Facts on the Ground

On November 15, VIO issued an alert update to dispel media inaccuracies “about Venezuela’s constitutional reforms and the student protests” accompanying them. They’re listed below:

– Caracas has a student population of around 200,000; at most 10,000 participated in the largest protest to date, and VIO estimates it was 6000;

– the major media ignore how the government cooperates with students and made various accommodations to them to be fair to the opposition;

– Venezuelan police have protected student protesters, and article 68 of the Constitution requires they do it; it affirms the right of all Venezuelans to assemble peacefully;

– in addition, student protest leaders linked to opposition parties were granted high-level meetings with government officials to present their concerns;

– on November 1, their student representatives met with directors of the National Electoral Council (CNE) and presented a petition to delay the referendum;

– on November 7, they again met with National Tribunal of Justice officials and presented the same petition;

– on November 12, Minister of Interior and Justice Minister, Pedro Carreno, met 20 university presidents to assure them the government respects university autonomy and their students’ right to assemble peacefully;

– VIO reported what really happened at another November 1 protest after students met with CNE officials; some of them then tried to chain themselves to the building while others charged through police lines and injured six officers; in addition, one student had 20 liters of gasoline but never got to use it criminally; after the incident, the CNE president, Tibisay Lucena, issued a public statement expressing his disappointment about this kind of response to the government’s good faith efforts; and

– VIO said students and university presidents from across the nation filed a document with the Supreme Court on November 14 supporting constitutional reform. Chief justice Luisa Estela Morales praised their coming and said the court’s doors are open to anyone wanting to give an opinion. The dominant media reported nothing on this. It also ignored the government’s 9000 public events throughout the country in past weeks to explain and discuss proposed reforms and that a hotline was installed for comments on them, pro or con.

– finally, when protests of any kind happen in the US, police usually attack them with tear gas, beatings and mass arrests to crush their democratic spirit and prevent it from being expressed as our Constitution’s First and most important amendment guarantees. In Venezuela, the spirit of democracy lives. It never existed in the US, and we want to export our way to everyone and by force if necessary.

Here’s a November 15 breaking news example of our way in action. At 8:00AM, 12 FBI and Secret Service agents raided the Liberty Dollar Company’s office in Evansville, IN and for the next six hours removed two tons of legal Ron Paul Dollars along with all the gold, silver and platinum at the location. They also took all location files and computers and froze Liberty Dollar’s bank accounts in an outrageous police state action against a legitimate business. This move also seems intended to impugn the integrity of a presidential candidate gaining popularity because he defies the bellicose mainstream and wants more people empowerment.

Chavez champions another way and answered his critics at a November 14 Miraflores Presidential Palace press conference where he denounced them for lying about his reform package. He explained his aim is to strengthen Venezuela’s independence and transfer power to the people, not increase his own. “For many years in Venezuela,” he said, “they weakened the powers of the state as part of the neoliberal imperial plan….to weaken the economies of countries to insure domination. While we remained weak, imperialism was strengthened,” and he elaborated.

He then continued to stress his most important reform “is the transfer of power to the people” through an explosion of grassroots communal, worker, student and campesino councils, formations of them into regional and national federations, and the formation of “communes (to) constitute the basic nucleus of the socialist state.” Earlier Chavez stated that democratizing the economy “is the only way to defeat poverty, to defeat misery and achieve the largest sum of happiness for the people.” He’s not just saying this. He believes and acts on it, and that’s why elitists target him for removal even though he wants equity for everyone, even his critics, and business continues to thrive under his government. But not like in the “good old” days when it was all one-way.

Venezuelan Business is Booming – So Why Complain?

Business in Venezuela is indeed booming, and in 2006 the Financial Times said bankers were “having a party” it was so good. So what’s the problem? It’s not good enough for corporate interests wanting it all for themselves and nothing for the people the way it used to be pre-Chavez. Unfair? Sure, but in a corporate-dominated world, that’s how it is and no outliers are tolerated. Thus Hugo Chavez’s dilemma.

Last June, Business Week (BW) magazine captured the mood in an article called “A Love-Hate Relationship with Chavez – Companies are chafing under the fiery socialist. But in some respects, business has never been better.” Writer Geri Smith asked: “Just how hard is it to do business in Venezuela” and then exaggerated by saying “hardly a day passes without another change in the rules restricting companies.” Hardly so, but what is true is new rules require a more equitable relationship between government and business. They provide more benefits to the people and greater attention to small Venezuelan business and other commercial undertakings like an explosion of cooperatives (100,000 or more) that under neoliberal rules have no chance against the giants.

Nonetheless, the economy under Chavez is booming, and business loves it even while it complains. It’s because oil revenues are high, Chavez spends heavily on social benefits, and the poor have seen their incomes more than double since 2004 when all their benefits are included. The result, as BW explains: “Sales of everything from basics” to luxury items “have taken off….and local and foreign companies alike are raking in more money than ever in Venezuela.” In addition, bilateral trade has never been higher, but American business complains it’s caught in the middle of a Washington – Caracas political struggle.

The article continues to show how all kinds of foreign business is benefitting from cola to cars to computer chips. Yet, it restates the dilemma saying “As Chavez continues his socialist crusade, there are signs of rising discontent,” and it’s showing up now on the country’s streets with the latest confrontation still to be resolved, one way or another.

Events Are Ugly and Coming to A Head

Through the dominant media, Washington and Venezuelan anti-Chavez elements are using constitutional reform as a pretext for what they may have in mind – “to arouse the military to intervene” and oust Chavez, as Petras notes in his article titled “Venezuela: Between Ballots and Bullets.” He explains the opposition “rich and privileged (coalition) fear constitutional reforms because they will have to grant a greater share of their (considerable) profits to the working class, lose their monopoly over market transactions to publicly owned firms, and see political power evolve toward local community councils and the executive branch.”

Petras is worried and says “class polarization….has reached its most extreme expression” as December 2 approaches: “the remains of the multi-class coalition embracing a minority of the middle class and the great majority of (workers) is disintegrating (and) political defections have increased (including 14) deputies in the National Assembly.” Add to them former Chavez Defense Minister, Raul Baduel, who Petras believes may be “an aspirant to head up a US-backed right-wing seizure of power.”

The situation is ugly and dangerous, and lots of US money and influence fuels it. Petras puts it this way: “Venezuelan democracy, the Presidency of Hugo Chavez and the great majority of the popular classes face a mortal threat.” An alliance between Washington, local oligarchs and elitist supporters of the “right” are committed to ousting Chavez and may feel now is their best chance. Venezuela’s social democracy is on the line in the crucial December 2 vote, and the entire region depends on it solidifying and surviving.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on www.TheMicroEffect.com Mondays at noon US Central time.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendma

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Venezuela: The struggle for a united socialist party by Federico Fuentes

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Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History

October 5, 2007

Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History

Global Research, October 4, 2007

 

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PART 1

      In recent months and even years, the United States and it’s close allies have been stepping up efforts to display Iran in a very negative light, labeling it as a terrorist nation bent on developing nuclear weapons to use against Israel and other allies of the United States in the Middle East, and possibly further outside of the region, or to deliver those nuclear weapons to the hands of terrorists hoping to use them against the United States and its allies.

      If a war takes place with Iran, orchestrated by Israel, the United States and other allies, then there will be a massive transformation of not only the Middle East as a whole, but the entire geo-political structure of the world. Simply stated, if a war on Iran occurs, everything changes. So, it is extremely important and necessary to analyze the process of building the case for a war with Iran, as well as the current stance of the Iranian government, the historical relationship between Iran and the West, namely the United States and Britain and how far along these war preparations have already come to the point where there is currently a “secret war” taking place within Iran’s borders being directed by the West, namely, the United States.

      As the United States is the sole superpower and empire in the world today, most commentators focus primarily just on relations between America and Iran to explain the current situation developing between the two countries, usually not going further back than just a few years, and as far back as the mainstream media will tell the story is to 1979, when Iran had a revolution, in which they threw out the Shah of Iran, who was backed by the Americans and British, and replaced that form of secular government with a religious one. However, as important as this event was between Iranian and American relations, it is important to go further back to truly understand the dynamic relations that the United Kingdom, and later, the United States (the Anglo-American alliance) have had with Iran. It is important to understand history so that we don’t repeat it. So, it is important to note that the United States only became a global superpower after World War 2, which left it the only major country in the world not devastated by the war. As the European and Asian countries lay in ruins, America built up its power and saw fit to expand its influence across the globe, for the first many decades in the guise of deterring the spread of Communism by the Soviet Union, the other great power in the world. However, in decades to come, the United States asserted itself an imperial status, and in 1989, at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was left as the sole superpower in the world, and saw fit to maintain that status. But before the Second World War, it was the United Kingdom, or Great Britain that was the predominant world power, having exerted its influence throughout the entire globe.

      It is during this period to which I will return to help identify the origins and causes of the current conflict between the Anglo-Americans (Britain and the United States), and Iran, as well as other great powers. Iran has often played the part of an imperial and hegemonic battleground between great nations and empires, and clearly, not much has changed.

Imperial Rumblings and the Road to World War

      As the old British colonial system began to collapse in the late 18th Century, notably with the American Revolutionary War against the British colonialists from 1775-1783, the necessity for a new system of empire was drastically needed. This opportunity arose in the early 19th Century, as William Engdahl put it in his book, A Century of War, in the year 1820, “Acting on the urgings of a powerful group of London shipping and banking interests centered around the Bank of England, and Alexander Baring of Baring Brothers merchant bankers, parliament passes a statement of principle in support of the concept advocated several decades earlier by Scottish economist Adam Smith: so-called ‘absolute free trade’.”1 He continued by explaining this concept; “If they [the British] dominated world trade, ‘free trade’ could only ensure that their dominance would grow at the expense of other less-developed trading nations.” Citing the commentary of American economist Henry C. Carey, considered to be very influential in shaping President Lincoln’s domestic economic policies Engdahl further noted that, “The class separations of British society were aggravated by a growing separation of a tiny number of very wealthy from the growing masses of very poor, as a lawful consequence of ‘free trade’.”2 Engdahl further commented, “Britain’s genius has been a chameleon-like ability to adapt that policy to a shifting international economic reality. But the core policy has remained – Adam Smith’s ‘absolute free trade,’ as a weapon against sovereign national economic policy of rival powers”, and that “at the end of the 19th Century, another debate arose regarding how exactly to maintain Britain’s empire which led to the formation of what was termed ‘Informal Empire’, allowing the dispersal of British funds around the world in an aim of creating financial dependence, on which Engdahl mused, “The notion of special economic relationships with ‘client states,’ the concept of ‘spheres of influence’ as well as that of ‘balance-of-power diplomacy,’ all came out of this complex weave of British ‘informal empire’ towards the end of the last century.”3

      However, in world politics at the time, the British Empire was not the sole imperial force in the world, as there were several other Empires across Europe and Asia, notably, the Russian and Ottoman Empires. Iran, in this era, was referred to as Persia, and in fact, there had been a few wars between Russia and Persia in the early part of the 19th Century. However, in the later half of the Century, the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire was in its decline. In 1875, an anti-Ottoman revolt began in its controlled territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which has been said, “Indeed, the immediate cause for the 1875 revolt was the crop failure of the previous year and the unrelenting pressure of the tax farmers.”4 This area of Eurasia has been especially pertinent throughout the history of empires, as Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor in the Jimmy Carter administration has noted, as he was the man behind the US strategy of supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1979, which drew in the Soviet Union, delivering to them “their Vietnam”, and ultimately leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and thusly, the multi-polar world.5 Brzezinski, in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, which outlines a blueprint for the global strategy that should be taken by the United States as the world’s sole superpower, in which he states, “Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power.”6  So, “[t]he spreading of the war in the Balkans increased the complexity of the problem facing the great powers. No longer was it merely a question of arranging a satisfactory settlement in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Now Serbia and Montenegro were belligerents, while in Bulgaria the large-scale atrocities had so aroused European public opinion that the restoration of Turkish rule no longer was feasible. The English were particularly sensitive to the “Bulgarian Horrors” because they had fought the Crimean War to preserve the Ottoman Empire.”7 Further, “The remainder of the year 1876 was characterized by intense diplomatic activity. The most important consequences were the Reichstadt Agreement reached by Russia and Austria on July 8, the Russian ultimatum to Turkey which resulted in an armistice on October 31, and the international conference held in Constantinople in December, 1876, and January, 1877,” and then “Finally, on April 24, 1877, after nearly two years of futile negotiations, Russia declared war upon Turkey.” One year later, in 1878, the Ottoman Empire lost the war against Russia.

      It was at this time, as Engdahl points out, “British banking and political elites had begun to express first signs of alarm over two specific aspects of the impressive industrial development in Germany”, and that, “The first was the emergence of an independent, modern German merchant and military naval fleet,” and “The second strategic alarm was sounded over an ambitious German project to construct a railway linking Berlin with, ultimately, Baghdad, then part of the Ottoman Empire.”8 Engdahl further pointed out that, “In both areas, the naval challenge and the construction of a rail infrastructure linking Berlin to the Persian Gulf, oil figured as a decisive, if still hidden, motive for both the British and German sides.” On top of this, “Russia’s oil fields, including those in Baku, were challenging Standard Oil’s supremacy in Europe. Russia’s ascendancy in natural resources disrupted the strategic balance of power in Europe and troubled Britain.”9 Standard Oil was of course the American oil monopoly controlled by the Rockefeller family, which was later broken up into successive companies which have changed names over the years and merged with other large multinational oil companies, so that today the spawn of Standard Oil’s empire now is with ExxonMobil, the largest oil corporation in the world, Esso, which merged with Exxon, Chevron, Amoco, which merged with British Petroleum, Marathon Oil and ConocoPhillips.

      So, there were significant Anglo-American and European interests in Persian and Middle Eastern oil, which were being threatened by Russia, not to mention each other, and further, “The first to try to establish a Middle East oil industry was Baron Julius de Reuter, founder of Reuters News Service. He approached the shah of Iran in 1872. Reuter secured a notorious ‘exclusive concession’ to develop a railroad, plus all riparian mining and mineral rights in the country, including oil, for the next 70 years.” However, this deal broke down due to frustrations with the shah, “and the London investment market quickly dismissed Persia as a completely unreliable kingdom for investment.” But with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, “Some capitals wanted to dominate the soon-to-be dismantled territories as their own spheres of interest. Some merely wanted to prevent others from doing so. A few wanted to see new, friendly nations emerge in the aftermath of Turkey’s disintegration.” As it was further pointed out in Edwin Black’s book, Banking on Baghdad, “as the nineteenth century drew to a close, Turkish Mesopotamia and indeed the entire extended Middle East suddenly catapulted in importance – especially to England,” and he further explained, “as the twentieth century opened for business, the world needed much more oil. Petroleum was no longer just to illuminate lanterns, boil stew, and lubricate moving parts. Modern armies and navies demanded vast new supplies of fuel and petroleum by-producers.”10

      Edwin Black noted in his book that, “As England’s fleet needed oil, the prospects for finding it were troubling. Baku’s [Russia’s] petroleum industry was certainly expanding and by century’s end represented more than half the world’s supply. It had already surpassed even Standard Oil, which was suffering under legal restraints and now controlled only 43 percent of the world market. Russian oil was dominant in Europe. Royal Dutch Shell – still majority Dutch-owned- was also emerging. Germany had secured control over the vast fields of Romania. But Britain’s new source of supply could not be controlled by any potential adversaries, such as Russia, expanding into eastern Europe, Germany, threatening to sever the British Empire, or Holland, which even then was fighting the bloody Boer War with England in South Africa,” and Black continues, “The most logical candidate for new supply was, of course, the Persian Gulf. Britain could have chosen the United States or Mexico or Poland as a trusted new supplier. But Persia had been within the sphere of British influence since the days of the East India Company. Persia was halfway to India. Persia it was.”11 So, the British had their eyes set on Persia, and “In 1900, Australian mining entrepreneur William D’Arcy heard of the opportunity and stepped forward to take the risk. D’Arcy’s own representative had suggested to the Persians that ‘an industry may be developed that will compete with that of Baku.’ After paying several thousand pounds to all the right go-betweens, D’Arcy secured a powerful and seemingly safe concession.” In 1908, at the discovery of vast oil reserves in Persia, “a new corporation named the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was created. Excitement on London’s financial markets could barely be contained. All available shares were purchased within 30 minutes. Britain was now assured of an abundant supply of Mideast Petroleum.”12

      Shortly before this took place, “In 1889, a group of German industrialists and bankers, led by Deutsche Bank, secured a concession from the Ottoman government to build a railway through Anatolia from the capitol, Constantinople. This accord was expanded ten years later, in 1899, when the Ottoman government gave the German group approval for the next stage of what became known as the Berlin-Baghdad railway project,”13 and this was not taken lightly by other powers as, “This railroad line was not seen by the European powers as a mere industrial improvement battering transportation in the region, but also as a profound German military threat and oil asset – a land check to England’s naval supremacy.”14 At this time, a senior British military adviser to the Serbian army, R.G.D. Laffan, stated, “A glance at the map of the world will show how the chain of States stretched from Berlin to Baghdad. The German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, Turkey. One little strip of territory alone blocked the way and prevented the two ends of the chain from being linked together. That little strip was Serbia [. . . ] Serbia was really the first line of defense of our eastern possessions. If she were crushed or enticed into the ‘Berlin-Baghdad’ system, then our vast but slightly defended empire would soon have felt the shock of Germany’s eastward thrust.”15 Of this, Engdahl commented, “Thus it is not surprising to find enormous unrest and wars throughout the Balkans in the decade before 1914,” and that “Conveniently enough, the conflict and wars helped weaken the Berlin-Constantinople alliance, and especially the completion of the Berlin-Baghdad rail link.”16

      During this time, especially in the beginning of the 20th Century, Britain saw Germany as its greatest imperial threat. “By 1914, Germany’s fleet had risen to second place, just behind Britain’s and gaining rapidly.”17 Further, “Britain sought with every device known, to delay and obstruct progress of the railway, while always holding out the hope of ultimate agreement to keep the German side off balance. This game lasted until the outbreak of war in August 1914.”18 With this rising German threat to British hegemony in the Gulf region, “Many in the British establishment had determined well before 1914 that war was the only course suitable to bring the European situation under control. British interests dictated, according to her balance-of-power logic, a shift from the traditional ‘pro-Ottoman and anti-Russian’ alliance strategy of the nineteenth century, to a ‘pro-Russian and anti-German’ alliance strategy.”19 Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, in Bosnia, Austria declared war on Serbia, with the backing of Germany, and Russia mobilized to support Serbia. A few days later, Britain declared war on Germany, and the First World War broke out.

      In the lead up to this period, much more developments were taking place with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC). Anglo-Persian, still a new company in the petroleum business, was not as well organized and did not yet have the global reach that its main competitors, Standard Oil and Royal Dutch Shell, had. As the British were eyeing far-off foreign oil fields, they began to lean towards favoring the Shell Company, as it was already by this time far-reaching. So a project was undertaken with the aim of remaking Shell in a British fashion, which at that time, was still under the control of the Dutch. As Anglo-Persian noticed the British governments move towards Shell, they saw their presence in Persia soon being phased out, so they attempted to reform themselves, “So Anglo-Persian purchased an existing network. The Europaische Petroleum Union (EPU) was an amalgam of continental oil distribution arms, mainly controlled by German concerns. EPU owned an operating subsidiary in Britain. The subsidiary controlled both an international oil shipping division, the Petroleum Steamship Company, and a domestic consumer sales agency, the Homelight Oil Company. [ . . . ] The EPU subsidiary’s name was British Petroleum Company, with its first name descriptive only of its operating territory, not its true ownership, which was mainly German.”20 After World War 1 began, British Petroleum was seized by the British government for being ‘enemy property,’ and in 1917 Anglo-Persian bought the seized property from the British government, thus making British Petroleum distinctly British.

      An agreement was signed in 1916, named the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was “a secret tripartite collection of letters, complete with colored maps, agreeing to carve up the Mideast after the war. Baghdad and Basra [Middle and Lower Iraq] were decreed British spheres of influence, while oil-rich Mosul and Syria would be French, with Russia exercising a privilege over its frontiers with Persia.”21 As Black noted in his book, “The India Office in London expressed the thinking succinctly in a telegram to Charles Hardinge, the British viceroy of India: ‘What we want is not a United Arabia: but a weak and disunited Arabia, split up into little principalities so far as possible under our suzerainty [authority] – but incapable of coordinated action against us, forming a buffer against the Powers in the West’.”22 The British were the most adamant about maintaining control in the region, as “After 1918, Britain continued to maintain almost a million soldiers stationed throughout the Middle East. The Persian Gulf had become a ‘British Lake’ by 1919.”23

A British Vision for World Order and the Road to Another World War

      After World War 1, and with the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, Britain saw to maintain its grasp of the vast oil reserves of the Middle East, “The ink on the Versailles treaty had barely dried when the powerful American oil interests of the Rockefeller Standard Oil companies realized they had been skillfully cut out of the spoils of war by their British alliance partners. The newly carved Middle East boundaries, as well as the markets of postwar Europe, were dominated by British government interests through Britain’s covert ownership of Royal Dutch Shell and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company [British Petroleum].”24 In fact, the make-up of Royal Dutch Shell was comprised between two parent companies, “Royal Dutch in the Netherlands, controlling 60 percent, and Shell Transport in the United Kingdom, controlling 40 percent.”25

      å In 1920, the San Remo agreement was signed in which “the French and British had divided up the Middle East for its oil.”26 In March of 1921, a large meeting took place with many top British experts in Near East affairs, which convened in Cairo, Egypt. The meeting’s purpose was to outline the political divisions in Britain’s newly obtained territories, and it was headed by Britain’s secretary of state for colonial affairs, Winston Churchill, and included the participation of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). It was at this meeting that it was decided that “Mesopotamia was renamed Iraq and given to the son of Hashemite Hussain ibn Ali of Mecca [Saudi Arabia], Feisal bin Hussain. British Royal Air Force aircraft were permanently based in Iraq and its administration was placed under the effective control of Anglo-Persian Oil Company officials,” and by this time, the British citizen in control of Royal Dutch Shell, Henry Deterding, through the company, “had an iron grip on the vast oil concessions of the Dutch East Indies, on Persia, Mesopotamia (Iraq) and most of the postwar Middle East.”27

      Spending the next years under the auspices of British control, the rest of the world, namely Europe, went through drastic changes. As the Soviet Union grew in power, so too did another European country, Germany. In 1933, Hitler and the Nazi party came to power and in 1939, invaded Poland, igniting World War 2. In 1940, Hitler had to make a choice about strategy against the British, and as William Shirer stated in book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, “There was of course another alternative open to the Germans. They might bring Britain down by striking across the Mediterranean with their Italian ally, taking Gibraltar at its western opening and in the east driving on from Italy’s bases in North Africa through Egypt and over the canal to Iran, severing one of the Empire’s main life lines.”28 This strategy was corroborated by Black, who stated, “All attention now focused on where Hitler could find the extra fuel he needed: on the gargantuan oil fields of Iraq and Iran. A 1941 War Cabinet strategy report concluded, ‘Oil is, of course, Germany’s main economic objective both in Iraq and Iran (Persia).”29

      Hitler pursued a strategy of supporting the self-determination and nationalism of the Arab and Middle Eastern countries in order to gain their favour, and he did so by supporting the Palestinians, which set the pace for all other conflicts in the region. (What else is new?) Members of the Reich began holding meetings with senior Iraqi leaders. The Nazi strategy in the region reflected the strategy by the British years earlier, with Lawrence of Arabia, who led Arab nations in fighting against the Ottomans in the name of their autonomy. Now, Hitler was supporting this same idea, to gain access to Mideast oil for its war effort, “Nonetheless, der Fuhrer still viewed Arab nationalism as a mere means to an end, that is, as a stepping-stone to the Nazi conquest and domination of the entire Middle East.”30 On April 3, 1941, a coup d’état occurred in Iraq, in which pro-Hitler forces took power, and “almost simultaneously, neighboring Syria, the anticipated gateway for the Nazi invasion, exploded with Reich propaganda, supported by Gestapo agents and specially trained Arab Nazis.”31 It was further pointed out that, “The coup in Baghdad threatened British interests for at least three reasons: it severed the vital air link, and a supplemental land route, between India and Egypt. It endangered the vital oil supply from the northern Iraq oilfields upon which British defense of the Mediterranean depended. Finally, an Arab nationalist success in Iraq could prove contagious and subvert Britain’s tenuous political position in Egypt and Palestine.”32 The new Iraqi government attempted to attack British forces at an airfield in Habbaniya, but engaged in a battle they were unable to win, “By mid-May 1941, the British had occupied Basra [Southern Iraq] thereby asserting their rights under the 1930 treaty, lifted the siege of Habbaniya and at least temporarily forestalled Axis intervention.” As the British neared Iraq, the leader of the Iraqi pro-Arab nationalist government fled to Persia, and Britain retook Iraq.

      T.E. Lawrence in 1941, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, which stated, “The people of England have been led in Iraq into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from disaster.” The response from Prime Minister Winston Churchill was, “You do not need to bother too much about the long term future in Iraq. Your immediate task is to get a friendly Government set up in Baghdad.”33

      In August of 1941, Germany invaded Russia, and the pre-World War 1 British strategy of being ‘pro-Russia’ and ‘anti-German’ again ensued. Through the Lend-Lease program, America was sending in supplies through Persia (Iran), into Russia to help with the war effort against Nazi Germany. However, “While officially neutral, Persia had friendly ties with Germany and was home to many German nationals. [The Iranian King] Reza Shah Pahlavi’s refusal to expel the German nationals, coupled with their more strategic concerns, prompted an Anglo-Soviet invasion in August 1941.”34 The British invaded Persia from their bases in Iraq, invading the South of Iran, and the Russians invaded from the North. The Shah who was in power at the time was, after a speedy overthrow of Iran by British and Russian tanks and infantry, exiled to South Africa, and “The British and Soviet troops met in Tehran [the Iranian capital] on 17 September and effectively divided the country between them for the rest of the war. A Tri-Partite Treaty of Alliance between Britain, Russia and Persia, signed in January 1942, committed the Allies to leaving Persia at the end of the war.”

      The British and Russians made the former Shah’s son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the new Shah of Iran, with a pro-Western view. After the end of World War 2, the West’s (namely the Anglo-American) enemy was now the Soviet Union, their former Ally against Hitler. At the end of World War 2, the United States had the upper-hand of all the great powers of the world, as it suffered little damage compared to the European and Asian countries, so it was necessary for Britain to maintain a strong alliance with America if it wanted to maintain its global reach. It was no longer the era after WW1, where Britain was able to push aside US interest in the Middle East and elsewhere, now, they had to be allied interests, in an Anglo-American alliance. Iran had never decreased in strategic importance, both for its oil, and for its position in relation to the Soviet Union, being directly below it. According to the agreement signed between Britain, the Soviet Union and Iran during the war, the Anglo-Russian forces were to leave in a period of 6 months after the end of the war. America was closely watching the relations between the Soviet Union and Iran post-war, “Another indication of Soviet intentions was Moscow’s support of independence and autonomy movements in northern Iran.”35 Soviet leader Josef Stalin began grandstanding, speaking for autonomy for certain nations, which was taken by the West as an inclination toward Soviet expansion. Clearly, the USSR and Stalin were pursuing similar strategies in Persia that England was pursuing at the end of the First World War in the area east of Persia, of creating a ‘weak and disunited’ region, making it easier to be dominated by great powers. Further, “Moscow radio broadcasts criticized Anglo-Iranian Oil Company concessions in Khuzestan [Western Iranian province] and accused British authorities of obstructing the Tudeh-dominated trade union.” Soviet supported autonomy in Azerbaijan [North of Persia] was backfiring, and eventually Iranians moved toward a more pro-American stance.

The Anglo-American Alliance vs. Democracy

      In the early 1950s, Mohammed Mossadeq was elected to the Iranian Parliament, and as leader of the Nationalists, and was subsequently appointed by the Shah as Prime Minister of Iran in 1951. In 1953, “the CIA and the British SIS orchestrated a coup d’etat that toppled the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh. The prime minister and his nationalist supporters in parliament roused Britain’s ire when they nationalised the oil industry in 1951, which had previously been exclusively controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company [British Petroleum]. Mossadegh argued that Iran should begin profiting from its vast oil reserves.”36 The Anglo-Persian Oil Company had changed its name to Anglo-Iranian Oil in 1935, but was still an arm of British imperialism, so when Mossadeq made the suggestion of nationalizing Iranian oil for the Iranians, he committed the ultimate sin in the eyes of the international imperialist powers, and threatened their control over the supplies of Iranian oil, so in their eyes, he had to go. Thus, “Britain accused him [Mossadeq] of violating the company’s legal rights and orchestrated a worldwide boycott of Iran’s oil that plunged the country into financial crisis. The British government tried to enlist the Americans in planning a coup, an idea originally rebuffed by President Truman. But when Dwight Eisenhower took over the White House, cold war ideologues – determined to prevent the possibility of a Soviet takeover – ordered the CIA to embark on its first covert operation against a foreign government.” The Guardian newspaper went on to report that, “A new book about the coup, All the Shah’s Men, which is based on recently released CIA documents, describes how the CIA – with British assistance – undermined Mossadegh’s government by bribing influential figures, planting false reports in newspapers and provoking street violence. Led by an agent named Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, the CIA leaned on a young, insecure Shah to issue a decree dismissing Mossadegh as prime minister. By the end of Operation Ajax, some 300 people had died in firefights in the streets of Tehran.” After the violent overthrow of a democratic government, who did the Brits and Americans rely on to take back the government for their strategic interests? Well, the answer is simple, the same person they relied upon to hold it for them when they invaded in 1941, the Shah of Iran, whose father was deposed and exiled in the 1941 invasion, and as the Guardian noted, “The crushing of Iran’s first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship under the Shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms.”

      As the National Security Archives note, “On the morning of August 19, 1953, a crowd of demonstrators operating at the direction of pro-Shah organizers with ties to the CIA made its way from the bazaars of southern Tehran to the center of the city. Joined by military and police forces equipped with tanks, they sacked offices and newspapers aligned with Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and his advisers, as well as the communist Tudeh Party and others opposed to the monarch. By early afternoon, clashes with Mosaddeq supporters were taking place, the fiercest occurring in front of the prime minister’s home. Reportedly 200 people were killed in that battle before Mosaddeq escaped over his own roof, only to surrender the following day.”37 Further, it was reported that, “The CIA, with help from British intelligence, planned, funded and implemented the operation. When the plot threatened to fall apart entirely at an early point, U.S. agents on the ground took the initiative to jump-start the operation, adapted the plans to fit the new circumstances, and pressed their Iranian collaborators to keep going. Moreover, a British-led oil boycott, supported by the United States, plus a wide range of ongoing political pressures by both governments against Mosaddeq, culminating in a massive covert propaganda campaign in the months leading up to the coup helped create the environment necessary for success.” This is very reminiscent of what was done during the 1941 coup in Iraq, where a pro-German group came to power, simultaneously with a massive Nazi propaganda campaign being unleashed in neighboring Syria. It continued, “However, Iranians also contributed in many ways. Among the Iranians involved were the Shah, Zahedi and several non-official figures who worked closely with the American and British intelligence services. Their roles in the coup were clearly vital, but so also were the activities of various political groups – in particular members of the National Front who split with Mosaddeq by early 1953, and the Tudeh party – in critically undermining Mosaddeq’s base of support.”

      The New York Times ran a special story examining the recently released documents pertaining to the CIA/MI6 (SIS) coup in 1953, in which they state, “Britain, fearful of Iran’s plans to nationalize its oil industry, came up with the idea for the coup in 1952 and pressed the United States to mount a joint operation to remove the prime minister,” and that, “The C.I.A. and S.I.S., the British intelligence service, handpicked Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and covertly funneled $5 million to General Zahedi’s regime two days after the coup prevailed.”38 It further revealed that, “Iranians working for the C.I.A. and posing as Communists harassed religious leaders and staged the bombing of one cleric’s home in a campaign to turn the country’s Islamic religious community against Mossadegh’s government.” Here, we see a clear example of the Anglo-Americans using covert intelligence agents to incite violence and even commit acts of terrorism.

      In an interview with Amy Goodman, of the Democracy Now! radio program, Stephen Kinzer, author of the book, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup And The Roots of Middle East Terror, was discussing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, of which he said, “So the Iranian oil is actually what maintained Britain at its level of prosperity and its level of military preparedness all throughout the ’30s, the ’40s, and the ’50s. Meanwhile, Iranians were getting a pittance, they were getting almost nothing from the oil that came out of their own soil. Naturally, as nationalist ideas began to spread through the world in the post-World War II era, this injustice came to grate more and more intensely on the Iranian people. So they carried Mossadegh to power very enthusiastically. On the day he was elected prime minister, Parliament also agreed unanimously to proceed with the nationalization of the oil company. And the British responded as you would imagine. Their first response was disbelief. They just couldn’t believe that someone in some weird faraway country–which was the way they perceived Iran–would stand up and challenge such an important monopoly. This was actually the largest company in the entire British Empire.”39 And as it was pointed out, Anglo-Iranian Oil later changed its name to the corporation we know today as British Petroleum, or BP, one of the three largest oil corporations in the world, after ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell. Further, “The crushing of Iran’s first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship under the Shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms.”

      Clearly, Royal Dutch Shell also had interests related to Iran, as William Engdahl explained in his book, in the lead up to the conflict between the Anglo-Americans and Iran, in which Mossadegh began the process of nationalization of oil, “Mossadegh went to Washington in a vain effort to enlist American help for his country’s position. The major political blunder made by Mossadegh was his lack of appreciation of the iron-clad cartel relationship of Anglo-American interests around the vital issue of strategic petroleum control. U.S. ‘mediator’ W. Averill Harriman had gone to Iran, accompanied by a delegation packed with people tied to Big Oil interests, including State Department economist Walter Levy. Harriman recommended that Iran accept the British ‘offer.’ When Mossadegh went to Washington, the only suggestion he heard from the State Department was to appoint Royal Dutch Shell as Iran’s management company.”40 Engdahl continues, “Britain’s Secret Intelligence Services [MI6] had convinced the CIA’s Allen Dulles and his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who then convinced Eisenhower, that the overthrow of Mossadegh was indispensable.”41

      Under the imposed dictatorship of the Shah, a new agency named the SAVAK was created, “Formed under the guidance of United States and Israeli intelligence officers in 1957, SAVAK developed into an effective secret agency,”42 which was responsible for torturing political dissidents, assassinations and jailing thousands of political prisoners. The SAVAK’s brutality and actions became synonymous with the Shah’s reign, itself, as they were his secret police.

Bilderberg and the OPEC War

      On October 6, 1973, the Yom Kippur War broke out in the Middle East, in which Egypt and Syria invaded Israel. However, there is much about this war that is not commonly known. The supposed “hero” that came out of this war was Henry Kissinger, but in reality, he was anything but. William Engdahl’s account of the Yom Kippur War and the subsequent ‘oil shock’, was described by the former Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Zaki Yamani, as being “the only accurate account I have seen of what really happened with the price of oil in 1973,” as written on the back of his book, A Century of War. As Engdahl states, “The entire constellation of events surrounding the outbreak of the October War was secretly orchestrated by Washington and London, using the powerful secret diplomatic channels developed by Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.”43 It continues, “Kissinger effectively controlled the Israeli policy response through his intimate relation with Israel’s Washington ambassador, Simcha Dinitz. In addition, Kissinger cultivated channels to the Egyptian and Syrian side. His method was simply to misrepresent to each party the critical elements of the other, ensuring the war and its subsequent Arab oil embargo.”

      As John Loftus, former prosecutor with the U.S Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit, who had received unprecedented access to top-secret CIA and NATO archives, pointed out in his book, The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People, that, “As one source admitted, Nixon’s staff had at least two days’ advance warning that an attack was coming on October 6,” and that no one warned Israel until the morning of the attack.44 It continued, “Whatever the motive, during September and October 1973 the Nixon White House turned a blind eye toward [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat’s plans for a consolidated sneak attack against the Jews. Not one word of the NSA’s [National Security Agency’s] information leaked out until the morning of the attack.” Further, it was revealed that, “A few hours before the invasion, the White House belatedly alterted Tel Aviv [Israel] that the nation was in deep trouble. An attack was coming on both fronts, but the White House insisted that the Israelis do nothing: no preemptive strikes, no firing the first shot. If Israel wanted American support, Kissinger warned, it could not even begin to mobilize until the Arabs invaded.”45 Engdahl further pointed out, “The war and its aftermath, Kissinger’s infamous ‘shuttle diplomacy,’ were scripted in Washington along the precise lines of the Bilderberg [secretive international economic think tank] deliberations in Saltsjobaden the previous May, some six months before the outbreak of the war. Arab oil-producing nations were to be the scapegoats for the coming rage of the world, while the Anglo-American interests responsible stood quietly in the background.”46 John Loftus further explained, “A number of intelligence sources we interviewed about the Yom Kippur War, including several Israelis, insist that Kissinger had set up the Jews. He sat on the NSA’s information, disappeared on the day of the invasion, and waited three days before convening the Security Council at the UN.”47 Recent revelations have revealed that “Newly released documents show that former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger delayed telling President Richard Nixon about the start of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 to keep him from interfering,” and that “after Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on October 6, 1973, the Israelis informed Kissinger at 6 a.m., about 3 and a half hours passed before he spoke to Nixon.”48

      As Engdahl pointed out, Germany attempted to maintain neutrality in the conflict, and refused the United States to ship weapons to Israel through Germany, so that Germany itself, could avoid the repercussions of the oil embargo placed by the Arab oil-producing countries on those who supported Israel in the war, in which the OPEC countries [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] raised the price of oil by 400%. However, the US refused to allow Germany to be neutral in the Middle East conflict, “But significantly, Britain was allowed to clearly state its neutrality, thus avoiding the impact of the Arab oil embargo. Once again, London had skillfully maneuvered itself around an international crisis that it had been instrumental in precipitating.” Then, Engdahl mentions how, “One enormous consequence of the ensuing 400 percent rise in OPEC oil prices was that investments of hundreds of millions of dollars by British Petroleum [formerly Anglo-Iranian Oil], Royal Dutch Shell and other Anglo-American petroleum concerns in the risky North Sea could produce oil at a profit. It is a curious fact that the profitability of these new North Sea oilfields was not at all secure until after the OPEC price rises. Of course, this might have only been a fortuitous coincidence.”49

      It is also highly ‘coincidental’ to notice that at the 1973 Bilderberg meeting, at which Engdahl describes this plan as being formulated, American participants included, other than Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the author of The Grand Chessboard, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser and architect of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan through funding the Afghan Mujahideen (later to be known as Al-Qaeda), E.G. Collado, the Vice President of Exxon Corp. at the time, as well as Walter Levy, an oil consultant who was also among the American delegation that visited Iran in the lead-up to the 1953 coup, George Ball, ex-deputy secretary of state, from the Netherlands there was Gerrit A. Wagner, the President of Royal Dutch Shell, the Chairman of the Bilderberg meeting was Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who was married to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, the principal shareholder of Royal Dutch Shell (isn’t called ‘Royal Dutch’ for nothin’), and from Great Britain, Sir Eric Drake, the Chairman of British Petroleum and Sir Denis Greenhill, a director of British Petroleum.50 Although, again, I’m sure it was all just a coincidence, because these particular oil companies and the vast and powerful interests behind them would never be involved in any nefarious activities, unless of course you include coups, imperialism and war.

      As Engdahl further elaborates, the White House attempted to send an official to the U.S Treasury with the aim of getting OPEC to lower the price of oil, however, “he was bluntly turned away. In a memo, the official stated, ‘It was the banking leaders who swept aside this advice and pressed for a “recycling” program to accommodate higher oil prices,” and so the Treasury established a secret deal with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), which was put in place and finalized by Henry Kissinger, and “Under the terms of agreement, a sizeable part of the huge new Saudi oil revenue windfall was to be invested in financing the U.S government deficits. A young Wall Street investment banker with the leading London-based Eurobond firm of White Weld & Co., David Mulford, was sent to Saudi Arabia to become the principal ‘investment adviser’ to SAMA; he was to guide the Saudi petrodollar investments to the correct banks, naturally in London and New York. The Bilderberg scheme was operating just as planned.”51

      Engdahl further points out that, “Following a meeting in Teheran [Iran] on January 1, 1974, a second price increase of more than 100 percent brought OPEC benchmark oil prices to $11.65. This was done on the surprising demand of the Shah of Iran, who had been secretly put up to it by Henry Kissinger. Only months earlier, the Shah had opposed the OPEC increase to $3.01 for fear that this would force Western exporters to charge more for the industrial equipment the Shah sought to import for Iran’s ambitious industrialization.”52

Enter The Peanut Farmer, the Trilateralists and Brzezinski’s Arc of Crisis

      After the Nixon and Ford administrations, both in which Henry Kissinger played a part of great influence, came the Jimmy Carter administration. However, what most people do not know is that this administration was largely dominated by a group of people who were all members of the Trilateral Commission, another secretive international think tank institution, often considered to be the sister group of Bilderberg. In fact, it was founded in 1973 by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was present at the 1973 Bilderberg meeting, and influential banker David Rockefeller, who was also a founding member of the Bilderberg Group, and “The Commission’s purpose is to engineer an enduring partnership among the ruling classes of North America, Western Europe and Japan.”53 It was also said that, “Trilateralists cautioned that ‘in many cases, the support for human rights will have to be balanced against other important goals of world order’.”54 Much of the membership of the Trilateral Commission overlaps with that of Bilderberg, besides individuals such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller, were George Ball and Henry Kissinger, and other Trilateral Commission members included George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.55 As the Trilateral Commission was being formed in 1973, Brzezinski and a few others chose to invite a man by the name of Jimmy Carter to join, who accepted and became an active member of the Commission, attending all their meetings,56 and when Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he appointed 25 other members of the Trilateral Commission into his administration, including his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.57

      In the 70s, the Shah of Iran, which was at the time a secular [non-religious] nation, was stepping up the process of industrializing the country of Iran. At this time, Europe, especially at the behest of Germany and France, was pursuing greater cooperation and integration, and in doing so, created the European Monetary System (EMS), under which the nine European Community member states made the decision to have their central banks work together to align their currencies to one another. This would allow for greater competition between the Anglo-American dominated ‘petrodollar monetary system’ and the rising European Community, which was still feeling the effects of the OPEC oil shock. Part of the agreement between Germany and France was to develop an agreement with OPEC countries in the Middle East to exchange high-technology and equipment for a stable-priced oil supply. The Anglo-Americans saw this as a threat to their hegemony over the oil market, and so, “Carter had unsuccessfully sought to persuade the Schmidt [German] government, under the Carter administration’s new Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act, to abandon export of virtually all nuclear technology to the developing sector, [underdeveloped countries, i.e. Iran] on the false argument that peaceful nuclear plant technology threatened to proliferate nuclear weapons, an argument which uniquely stood to enhance the strategic position of the Anglo-American petroleum-based financial establishment.”58 This effort to persuade Germany was to no avail, so the Anglo-Americans had to pursue a more drastic policy change.

      This policy formed when, “In November 1978, President Carter named the Bilderberg group’s George Ball, another member of the Trilateral Commission, to head a special White House Iran task force under the National Security Council’s Brzezinski. Ball recommended that Washington drop support for the Shah of Iran and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeni. Robert Bowie from the CIA was one of the lead ‘case officers’ in the new CIA-led coup against the man their covert actions had placed into power 25 years earlier.”59 This is further corroborated by author and journalist, Webster Tarpley in his book, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, in which he stated, “Carter and Brzezinski had deliberately toppled the Shah of Iran, and deliberately installed [Ayatollah] Khomeni in power. This was an integral part of Brzezinski’s ‘arc of crisis’ geopolitical lunacy, another made-in-London artifact which called for the US to support the rise of Khomeni, and his personal brand of fanaticism, a militant heresy within Islam. U.S. arms deliveries were made to Iran during the time of the Shah; during the short-lived Shahpour Bakhtiar government at the end of the Shah’s reign; and continuously after the advent of Khomeni.”60 The Defense and Foreign Affairs Daily reported in their March 2004 edition that, “In 1978 while the West was deciding to remove His Majesty Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi from the throne, [Ayatollah] Shariatmadari was telling anyone who would listen not to allow ‘Ayatollah’ Ruhollah Khomeini and his velayat faghih (Islamic jurist) version of Islam to be allowed to govern Iran. Ayatollah Shariatmadari noted: ‘We mullahs will behave like bickering whores in a brothel if we come to power … and we have no experience on how to run a modern nation so we will destroy Iran and lose all that has been achieved at such great cost and effort’.”61 This was exactly the point of putting them in power, as it would destabilize an industrializing country, and as William Engdahl further pointed out, “Their scheme was based on a detailed study of the phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism, as presented by British Islamic expert, Dr. Bernard Lewis, then on assignment at Princeton University in the United States. Lewis’ scheme, which was unveiled at the May 1979 Bilderberg meeting in Austria, endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeni, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an ‘Arc of Crisis,’ which would spill over into the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.”62

      Bernard Lewis’ concept was also discussed in a 1979 article in Foreign Affairs, the highly influential seasonal journal of international relations put forward by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the pre-eminent policy think tank in the United States, whose leadership and many members also share membership with the Trilateral Commission and Bilderberg Group. The article stated, “The ‘arc of crisis’ has been defined as an area stretching from the Indian subcontinent in the east to the Horn of Africa in the west. The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus [central point] of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism. Moreover, national, economic and territorial conflicts are aggravated by the intrusion of religious passions in an area which was the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and by the exposure, in the twentieth century, to two competing appeals of secular modernization: Western and communist,” and further stated, “Against the background of these basic facts, postwar American policy in the Middle East has focused on three major challenges: security of the area as against Soviet threats to its integrity and independence, fair and peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and safe access to its oil.”63

      In May of 2006, US Vice President Dick Cheney was making some remarks at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia Luncheon in honor of Bernard Lewis, the conceptualist behind the ‘arc of crisis’ strategy, at which he stated, “I’m delighted, as always, to see Henry [Kissinger]. He’s a frequent visitor to the White House. He was among those who joined us a couple of weeks ago in hosting a lunch for President Hu Jintao of China. And as Henry mentioned, he and I go back a long ways to the Ford Administration, when he was Secretary of State and I was White House Chief of Staff — the old days, when I had real power. (Laughter.) But Henry and I remain close friends,” and he continued, “Henry and I share an appreciation for history, and I know he would agree, as I do, with a very astute observer who once said that history ‘is the collective memory, the guiding experience of human society, and we still badly need that guidance.’ Those are the words of Dr. Bernard Lewis, a man who first studied the Middle East some 70 years ago.” Then, Cheney went on to say, “I had the pleasure of first meeting Bernard more than 15 years ago, during my time as [George HW Bush’s] Secretary of Defense […] Since then we have met often, particularly during the last four-and-a-half years, and Bernard has always had some very good meetings with President Bush.”64

      William Engdahl continued in his examination of the 1979 revolution/coup in Iran, of which he said, “The coup against the Shah, like that against Mossadeq in 1953, was run by British and American intelligence, with the bombastic American, Brzezinski, taking public ‘credit’ for getting rid of the ‘corrupt’ Shah, while the British characteristically remained in the background. During 1978, negotiations were under way between the Shah’s government and British Petroleum for renewal of the 25-year oil extraction agreement. By October 1978, the talks had collapsed over a British ‘offer’ which demanded exclusive rights to Iran’s future oil output, while refusing to guarantee purchase of the oil. With their dependence on British-controlled export apparently at an end, Iran appeared on the verge of independence in its oil sales policy for the first time since 1953, with eager prospective buyers in Germany, France, Japan and elsewhere.”65 The strategy was to have “religious discontent against the Shah [which] could be fanned by trained agitators deployed by British and US intelligence,” and so “As Iran’s domestic economic troubles grew [as a result of the British refusing to buy Iranian oil in a strategy of economic pressure], American ‘security’ advisers to the Shah’s Savak secret police implemented a policy of ever more brutal repression, in a manner calculated to maximize popular antipathy to the Shah. At the same time, the Carter administration cynically began protesting abuses of ‘human rights’ under the Shah,” and the strategy even entailed using the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), which “gave the Ayatollah Khomeni a full propaganda platform inside Iran during this time. The British government-owned broadcasting organization refused to give the Shah’s government an equal chance to reply.”66 Further, “during the Christmas season of 1979, one Captain Sivash Setoudeh, an Iranian naval officer and the former Iranian military attaché before the breaking of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran [in 1979], was arranging arms deliveries to [Ayatollah] Khomeni out of a premises of the US Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Virginia.”67

      With the successful revolution/coup in Iran in 1979, the Shah was exiled to Egypt, and back in the United States, Bilderberg and Trilateral Commission co-founder and international banker David Rockefeller was approached by Princess Ashraf, the sister of the deposed Shah, who was suffering from cancer, and “she was turning for help to the man who ran one of the leading U.S. banks [Chase Manhattan – now, JP Morgan Chase], one which had made a fortune serving as the Shah’s banker for a quarter century and handling billions of dollars in Iran’s assets. Ashraf’s message was straightforward. She wanted Rockefeller to intercede with Jimmy Carter and ask the President to relent on his decision against granting the Shah refuge in the United States,” and further, “The new Iranian government also wanted Chase Manhattan to return Iranian assets, which Rockefeller put at more than $1 billion in 1978, although some estimates ran much higher.”68 And so, “a public campaign by Rockefeller – along with [Henry] Kissinger and former Chase Manhattan Bank Chairman John McCloy – to find a suitable home in exile for the Shah” was undertaken, and “Rockefeller also pressed the Shah’s case personally with Carter when the opportunity presented itself. On April 9, 1979, at the end of an Oval Office meeting on another topic, Rockefeller handed Carter a one-page memo describing the views of many foreign leaders disturbed by recent U.S. foreign policy actions, including Carter’s treatment of the Shah.” According to a Time Magazine article in 1979, “Kissinger concedes that he then made telephone calls to ‘three senior officials’ and paid two personal visits to [Secretary of State] Vance to argue that a U.S. visa should be granted the Shah. He expressed that view volubly in private conversations with many people, including journalists. He said that the last of his direct pleas was made in July. He and Rockefeller then sought to find asylum elsewhere for the Shah. Rockefeller found a temporary residence in the Bahamas, and Kissinger persuaded the government of Mexico to admit the Shah on a tourist visa.”69 Eventually their efforts were successful, as it was further revealed, “The late Shah had friends at Chase Manhattan Bank and in the highest echelons of trilateral power. David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger played instrumental roles in arranging the Shah’s exile and shaping US policy toward Iran.”70

      The Shah later recounted his experience of the 1979 Revolution, saying “I did not know it then – perhaps I did not want to know – but it is clear to me now that the Americans wanted me out. Clearly this is what the human rights advocates in the State Department wanted … What was I to make of the Administration’s sudden decision to call former Under Secretary of State [and Bilderberg member] George Ball to the White House as an adviser on Iran? … Ball was among those Americans who wanted to abandon me and ultimately my country,” and as Engdahl notes, “the new Khomeni regime had singled out the country’s nuclear power development plans and announced cancellation of the entire program for French and German nuclear reactor construction.”71 Following this, Iran cut off its oil exports to the world, coinciding with Saudi Arabia cutting its oil production drastically and British Petroleum cancelled major oil contracts, which resulted in soaring oil prices.

      For those who find this strategy of the British and Americans engineering the Iranian Revolution in 1979 far-fetched and implausible, in as much as on the face of it, it seemed to work against the interests of the United States and Britain, all that is needed is a quick glance at another precedent of this activity, and you need not look further than east of Iran’s border, to Afghanistan, in the very same year, 1979. Under Brzezinski’s “Arc of Crisis” strategy, developed by Bernard Lewis and presented at the 1979 Bilderberg meeting, Afghanistan was a key target in the crosshairs of the Trilateral Administration of Jimmy Carter. In an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked a poignant question, “The former director of the CIA [and current Secretary of Defense], Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?” to which Brzezinski replied, “Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.” The interviewer then posed the question, “Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?” to which Brzezinski very diplomatically responded, “It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.”72

      The interviewer, on a continual role of asking very pertinent and important questions, stated, “When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?” which provoked Brzezinski’s response, saying, “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.” When asked whether or not he regretted supporting Islamic fundamentalism, which fostered the rise of terrorism (including the creation of Al-Qaeda), Brzezinski revealingly responded, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?” Clearly, this was a veiled description of the strategy of “Arc of Crisis” that was imposed during that time, in fact, that very year; where Anglo-American interests (strategic or economic) were threatened, the “Arc of Crisis” was to be introduced, in an organized effort to destabilize the region. In the case of Afghanistan, it was imposed under strategic interests, being Afghanistan’s relevance to and relationship with the Soviet Union; in the case of Iran, it was largely economic interests, such as the end of the British Petroleum contract, and move towards using Iranian oil for the benefit of the Iranians in industrializing the country, that motivated the implementation of the “Arc of Crisis” in that country.

Saddam and Iraq’s New Role in the Anglo-American Alliance

      In 1980, a war broke out between Iraq and Iran, which lasted until 1988. However, there is a lot more to this war, as there is to most conflicts, than is widely understood. Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq when this war broke out, however, it is first necessary to go back several years, when Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq in order to better understand the story of the Iran-Iraq War. In 2003, Reuters News Agency reported that, “If the United States succeeds in shepherding the creation of a post-war Iraqi government, a former National Security Council official says, it won’t be the first time that Washington has played a primary role in changing that country’s rulers,” as “Roger Morris, a former State Department foreign service officer who was on the NSC [National Security Council] staff during the Johnson and Nixon administrations, says the CIA had a hand in two coups in Iraq during the darkest days of the Cold War, including a 1968 putsch that set Saddam Hussein firmly on the path to power,” and that, “in 1963, two years after the ill-fated U.S. attempt at overthrow in Cuba known as the Bay of Pigs, the CIA helped organize a bloody coup in Iraq that deposed the Soviet-leaning government of Gen. Abdel-Karim Kassem.”73 Further, “Kassem, who had allowed communists to hold positions of responsibility in his government, was machine-gunned to death. And the country wound up in the hands of the Baath party. At the time, Morris continues, Saddam was a Baath operative studying law in Cairo, one of the venues the CIA chose to plan the coup,” and “In fact, he claims the former Iraqi president castigated by President George W. Bush as one of history’s most ‘brutal dictators’ was actually on the CIA payroll in those days.”

      The article continued, “In 1968, Morris says, the CIA encouraged a palace revolt among Baath party elements led by long-time Saddam mentor Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, who would turn over the reins of power to his ambitious protégé in 1979,” and that, “Morris, who resigned from the NSC staff over the 1970 U.S. invasion of Cambodia, says he learned the details of American covert involvement in Iraq from ranking CIA officials of the day, including Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson, Archibald Roosevelt.” It’s also interesting to note that it was Teddy Roosevelt’s other grandson, Kermit Roosevelt, who was pivotal in organizing and orchestrating the 1953 coup in Iran, so it is likely that Morris’ assertions are correct, as Archibald Roosevelt would have a very keen understanding of the highly covert elements of CIA operations.

      However, this is not the only source on this important story, as the Indo-Asian News Service reported in 2003, that “American intelligence operatives used him [Saddam] as their instrument for more than 40 years, according to former US intelligence officials and diplomats,” and that, “While many have thought that Saddam Hussein became involved with US intelligence agencies from the 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts date back to 1959 when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi prime minister General Abd al-Karim Qasim.”74 The article continued, “In July 1958, Qasim had overthrown the Iraqi monarchy [which was put into power by the British]. According to US officials, Iraq was then regarded as a key buffer and strategic asset in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. For example, in the mid-1950s, Iraq was quick to join the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact which was to defend the region and whose members included Turkey, Britain, Iran and Pakistan. Little attention was paid to Qasim’s bloody and conspiratorial regime until his sudden decision to withdraw from the pact in 1959,” and so, “The assassination was set for October 7, 1959, but it was completely botched. One former CIA official said the 22-year-old Saddam lost his nerve and fired too soon, killing Qasim’s driver and only wounding Qasim in the shoulder and arm. Qasim, hiding on the floor of his car, escaped death, and Saddam Hussein, whose calf had been grazed by a fellow would-be assassin, escaped to Tikrit, thanks to CIA and Egyptian intelligence agents. He then crossed into Syria and was transferred by Egyptian intelligence agents to Beirut.” From there, “the CIA paid for Saddam Hussein’s apartment and put him through a brief training course. The agency then helped him get to Cairo. During this time Saddam made frequent visits to the American Embassy where CIA specialists such as Miles Copeland and CIA station chief Jim Eichelberger were in residence and knew him. In February 1963, Qasim was killed in a Baath Party coup. Morris claimed that the CIA was behind the coup.”

      Newsmax also reported this story, stating that directly after the coup, “the agency quickly moved into action. Noting that the Baath Party was hunting down Iraq’s communists, the CIA provided the submachine gun-toting Iraqi National Guardsmen with lists of suspected communists who were then jailed, interrogated, and summarily gunned down, according to former U.S. intelligence officials with intimate knowledge of the executions,” and that, “A former senior CIA official said: ‘It was a bit like the mysterious killings of Iran’s communists just after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. All 4,000 of his communists suddenly got killed’.”75 Another report of this came out through Consortium News, which wrote a story about the confessions of a retired CIA official, James Critchfield, who explained that, “In 1959, a young Saddam Hussein, allegedly in cahoots with the CIA, botched an assassination attempt on Iraq’s leader, Gen. Abdel Karim Qassim. Hussein fled Iraq and reportedly hid out under the CIA’s protection and sponsorship,” and “By early 1963, Qassim’s policies were raising new alarms in Washington. He had withdrawn Iraq from the pro-Western Baghdad Pact, made friendly overtures to Moscow, and revoked oil exploration rights granted by a predecessor to a consortium of companies that included American oil interests.”76 It further reported that, “It fell to Critchfield, who was then in an extended tenure in charge of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia division, to remove Qassim. Critchfield supported a coup d’etat in February 1963 that was spearheaded by Iraq’s Baathist party. The troublesome Qassim was killed, as were scores of suspected communists who had been identified by the CIA,” and that “The 1963 coup also paved the way for another momentous political development. Five years later, Saddam Hussein emerged as a leader in another Baathist coup. Over the next decade, he bullied his way to power, eventually consolidating a ruthless dictatorship that would lead to three wars in less than a quarter century.”

      So, jump ahead to 1980, when Saddam Hussein was still a US puppet, and when the Iran-Iraq War began. The Iran-Iraq War “followed months of rising tension between the Iranian Islamic republic and secular nationalist Iraq. In mid-September 1980 Iraq attacked, in the mistaken belief that Iranian political disarray would guarantee a quick victory.”77 However, Dr. Francis Boyle, an international law professor who also has a PhD in political science from Harvard, and former board member of Amnesty International, wrote an article for Counterpunch in which he stated that, “There were several indications from the public record that the Carter Administration tacitly condoned, if not actively encouraged, the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September of l980,” and that, “Presumably the Iraqi army could render Iranian oil fields inoperable and, unlike American marines, do so without provoking the Soviet Union to exercise its alleged right of counter-intervention.”78 Boyle continued, “The report by columnist Jack Anderson that the Carter Administration was seriously considering an invasion of Iran to seize its oil fields in the Fall of l980 as a last minute fillip to bolster his prospects for reelection was credible.” In 1981, Carter lost his re-election to Ronald Reagan, and “At the outset of the Reagan Administration, Secretary of State Alexander Haig and his mentor, Henry Kissinger, devoted a good deal of time to publicly lamenting the dire need for a ‘geopolitical’ approach to American foreign policy decision-making, one premised on a ‘grand theory’ or ‘strategic design’ of international relations,” and Boyle continued, “Consequently, Haig quite myopically viewed the myriad of problems in the Persian Gulf, Middle East, and Southwest Asia primarily within the context of a supposed struggle for control over the entire world between the United States and the Soviet Union. Haig erroneously concluded that this global confrontation required the United States to forge a ‘strategic consensus’ with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Sheikhdoms and Pakistan in order to resist anticipated Soviet aggression in the region.”

      As the National Security Archive reported, “Initially, Iraq advanced far into Iranian territory, but was driven back within months. By mid-1982, Iraq was on the defensive against Iranian human-wave attacks. The U.S., having decided that an Iranian victory would not serve its interests, began supporting Iraq: measures already underway to upgrade U.S.-Iraq relations were accelerated, high-level officials exchanged visits, and in February 1982 the State Department removed Iraq from its list of states supporting international terrorism,” and that “Prolonging the war was phenomenally expensive. Iraq received massive external financial support from the Gulf states, and assistance through loan programs from the U.S. The White House and State Department pressured the Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financing, to enhance its credit standing and enable it to obtain loans from other international financial institutions. The U.S. Agriculture Department provided taxpayer-guaranteed loans for purchases of American commodities, to the satisfaction of U.S. grain exporters.”79 The Archive, which draws all their information from declassified government documents which they have available for all to see on their site, further stated, “The U.S. restored formal relations with Iraq in November 1984, but the U.S. had begun, several years earlier, to provide it with intelligence and military support (in secret and contrary to this country’s [America’s] official neutrality) in accordance with policy directives from President Ronald Reagan,” and it continued, “By the summer of 1983 Iran had been reporting Iraqi use of using chemical weapons for some time. The Geneva protocol requires that the international community respond to chemical warfare, but a diplomatically isolated Iran received only a muted response to its complaints.”

      The Archive further explained that, “The U.S., which followed developments in the Iran-Iraq war with extraordinary intensity, had intelligence confirming Iran’s accusations, and describing Iraq’s “almost daily” use of chemical weapons, concurrent with its policy review and decision to support Iraq in the war,” and that “The intelligence indicated that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces, and, according to a November 1983 memo, against ‘Kurdish insurgents’ as well”. The Archives further reveal that, “Donald Rumsfeld (who had served in various positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, including as President Ford’s defense secretary, and at this time headed the multinational pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co.) was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. His December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish ‘direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein,’ while emphasizing ‘his close relationship’ with the president. Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and the U.S.’s efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq’s oil; its facilities in the Persian Gulf had been shut down by Iran, and Iran’s ally, Syria, had cut off a pipeline that transported Iraqi oil through its territory. Rumsfeld made no reference to chemical weapons, according to detailed notes on the meeting.” This was the incident in which the now-infamous photo of Donald Rumsfeld (who was George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense until 2007) shaking hands with Saddam Hussein was taken.

      It was further reported that, “The CIA/Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] relation with Saddam intensified after the start of the Iran-Iraq war in September of 1980. During the war, the CIA regularly sent a team to Saddam to deliver battlefield intelligence obtained from Saudi AWACS surveillance aircraft to aid the effectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces, according to a former DIA official, part of a U.S. interagency intelligence group,” and that “This former official said that he personally had signed off on a document that shared U.S. satellite intelligence with both Iraq and Iran in an attempt to produce a military stalemate. ‘When I signed it, I thought I was losing my mind,’ the former official told UPI.”80 The article continued, “A former CIA official said that Saddam had assigned a top team of three senior officers from the Estikhbarat, Iraq’s military intelligence, to meet with the Americans,” and that “the CIA and DIA provided military assistance to Saddam’s ferocious February 1988 assault on Iranian positions in the al-Fao peninsula by blinding Iranian radars for three days.”

      On top of all this, the London Independent reported in 2002 that, “Iraq’s 11,000-page report to the UN Security Council lists 150 foreign companies, including some from America, Britain, Germany and France, that supported Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program,” and it continued, “British officials said the list of companies appeared to be accurate. Eighty German firms and 24 US companies are reported to have supplied Iraq with equipment and know-how for its weapons programs from 1975 onwards.”81 The article further stated that, “From about 1975 onwards, these companies are shown to have supplied entire complexes, building elements, basic materials and technical know-how for Saddam Hussein’s program to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction,” which would have included the weapons used against the Iranians and Kurds in the north of Iraq, which constituted war crimes.

Iran Contra: The Double Standard Status Quo

      Also during the Iran-Iraq War, “On November 25, 1986, the biggest political and constitutional scandal since Watergate exploded in Washington when President Ronald Reagan told a packed White House news conference that funds derived from covert arms deals with the Islamic Republic of Iran had been diverted to buy weapons for the U.S.-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua,” and that “In the weeks leading up to this shocking admission, news reports had exposed the U.S. role in both the Iran deals and the secret support for the Contras, but Reagan’s announcement, in which he named two subordinates — National Security Advisor John M. Poindexter and NSC [National Security Council] staffer Oliver L. North — as the responsible parties, was the first to link the two operations.”82 As the National Security Archive reported, “Of all the revelations that emerged, the most galling for the American public was the president’s abandonment of the long-standing policy against dealing with terrorists, which Reagan repeatedly denied doing in spite of overwhelming evidence that made it appear he was simply lying to cover up the story,” and further, “Iran-Contra was a battle over presidential power dating back directly to the Richard Nixon era of Watergate, Vietnam and CIA dirty tricks. That clash continues under the presidency of George W. Bush, which has come under frequent fire for the controversial efforts of the president, as well as Vice President Richard Cheney, to expand Executive Branch authority over numerous areas of public life.”

      As Webster Tarpley wrote in his book, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, of which the chapter covering the Iran-Contra Affair relies primarily upon exposing George Bush’s intimate relationship with and involvement in the Affair, that Iran-Contra involved, “the secret arming of the Khomeni regime in Iran by the U.S. government, during an official U.S.-decreed arms embargo against Iran, while the U.S. publicly denounced the recipients of its secret deliveries as terrorists and kidnappers – a policy initiated under the Jimmy Carter presidency and accelerated by the Reagan-Bush administration,” in which George H.W. Bush was Vice President.83 As Tarpley put it, “many once-classified documents have come to light, which suggest that Bush organized and supervised many, or most, of the criminal aspects of the Iran-Contra adventures,”84 and that, “With the encouragement of Bush, and the absence of opponents to the scheme, President Reagan signed the authorization to arm the Khomeni regime with missiles, and keep the facts of this scheme from congressional oversight committees,” and further, an official report on the situation stated, “The proposal to shift to direct U.S. arms sales to Iran . . . was considered by the president at a meeting on January 17 which only the Vice President [Bush], Mr. Regan, Mr. Fortier, and VADM Poindexter attend. Thereafter, the only senior-level review the Iran initiative received was during one or another of the President’s daily national security briefings. These were routinely attended only by the President, the Vice President, Mr. Regan, and VADM Poindexter.”85

      Now, I will again briefly recount the information I provided regarding the Carter administration having a hand in the coup / Revolution in Iran in 1979, which installed the Islamic government of Ayatollah Khomeni, as I feel it is a very important point to address, largely because it is a very uncommon understanding of that event in history, as it is predominantly seen in historical context as being against the interests of the United States, and as being a disastrous situation for the US; seen as a radical Islamic revolt against America and all it ‘stands’ for. However, taking into consideration of all the other information provided thus far, it does not appear to be a very ‘radical’ or implausible understanding of that event, as similar support for and creation of radical Islamist movements is well documented, such as that which took place the same year as the revolution/coup in Afghanistan, under the same strategy of “Arc of Crisis”, and now, also taking into consideration the facts of the Iran-Contra Affair, which was one of the largest constitutional scandals in United States history and received great public attention.

      This scandal, however, was largely covered up in the official investigation done by Congress, and the facts of George Bush’s involvement, was not widely known by any means, which is no surprise considering the fact that one prominent Congressman who was investigating the Iran-Contra Affair was a man by the name of Dick Cheney, the current Vice President, who, while sitting on the investigative committee, did not apply blame to the Executive branch [President’s administration] of government for its violation of the Constitution, but instead saw fit to blame Congress for “unjustly” investigating and questioning Presidential authority.86 Most of the evidence of this important event was revealed over the years since it occurred, however, the blame was all placed on two individuals, the “fall guys”, John Poindexter and Oliver North.

      Oliver North now has his own show on Fox News,87 and Poindexter briefly worked in the George W. Bush administration, as Director of the Information Awareness Office, a large surveillance and tracking and “Big Brother” program, of which the New Yorker described as, “weird”, saying, “The Information Awareness Office’s official seal features an occult pyramid topped with mystic all-seeing eye, like the one on the dollar bill. Its official motto is ‘Scientia Est Potentia,’ which doesn’t mean ‘science has a lot of potential.’ It means ‘knowledge is power.’ And its official mission is to ‘imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness’,” and further, “the Office’s main assignment is, basically, to turn everything in cyberspace about everybody—tax records, driver’s-license applications, travel records, bank records, raw F.B.I. files, telephone records, credit-card records, shopping-mall security-camera videotapes, medical records, every e-mail anybody ever sent—into a single, humongous, multi-googolplexibyte database that electronic robots will mine for patterns of information suggestive of terrorist activity”88… my God.

      The Iran-Contra Affair entailed illegally sending arms to the Khomeni government in Iran, America’s “supposed” enemy, and using that money to fund Contras, also known as terrorist organizations, in Nicaragua, which were responsible for killing many innocent civilians and orchestrating terror attacks. Incidentally, the arms were being sold to Iran at the same time that the same organization, the CIA, was providing intelligence and directions (not to mention weapons) to Iraq in its war against Iran. So, in effect, the United States, through its covert military/intelligence operations, was arming both sides of the Iran-Iraq War. Again, sounds a lot like the “Arc of Crisis” strategy. And just the very fact that they were arming the Khomeni regime warrants a closer look at the events surrounding Khomeni’s rise to power.

      As an aside, it is also very interesting to note some other individuals who were implicated in Iran-Contra (although not publicly), but since the event documentation has come about which suggests larger roles for a variety of people, including Robert Gates, who is currently the new Secretary of Defense (after Rumsfeld left), a former director of the CIA in the George H.W. Bush administration and the person who, in his memoirs, discussed the fact that the CIA helped instigate the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Other prominent names to note are Elliott Abrams, who was President Reagan’s senior State Department official for Latin America in the mid-1980s, at the height of Iran-Contra, and was later indicted for providing false testimony, and accepted his guilt, however, when Bush Sr. was President, Abrams was pardoned, and today, serves as Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy in the Bush Jr. administration. David Addington worked close with Cheney on the Congressional investigation as a staffer, and currently is Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney. Others, with some affiliation to Iran-Contra were Michael Ledeen, who is currently a prominent neoconservative with close ties to the Bush administration and a strong advocate of regime change in Iran, John Bolton, who was more recently George W. Bush’s Ambassador to the United Nations,also a strong advocate of war with Iran, Manuchehr Ghorbanifar, who more recently was used as an important source for the Pentagon on Iranian affairs, John Negroponte, who was in past years Bush’s Ambassador to Iraq, and was Director of National Intelligence, the head intelligence position in the United States, and is currently Deputy Secretary of State under Condoleezza Rice, and Otto Reich, who briefly served as Bush Jr’s assistant secretary of state for Latin America.89

Notes

1 Engdahl, William. “A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order”.

Pluto Press: 2004, Pages 2-3.
2 Ibid. Page 4.
3 Ibid. Pages 5-6.
4 Stavrianos, L.S. “The Balkans Since 1453”.

Rinehart and Winston: 1963, “Revolt in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

http://www.serbianunity.net/culture/history/berlin78/index.html#Revolt%20in%20Bosnia
5 Blum, Bill. “The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan: Interview with Zbigniew  Brzezinski”.

Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html
6 Brzezinski, Zbigniew. “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic  Imperatives”.

Basic Books: 1997, Page xiii.
7 Stavrianos, L.S. “The Balkans Since 1453”.

Rinehart and Winston: 1963, “Constantinople Conference”.

http://www.serbianunity.net/culture/history/berlin78/index.html#Constantinople%20Conference
8 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 11.
9 Black, Edwin. “Banking on Baghdad: Inside Iraq’s 7,000-Year History of War, Profit,  and Conflict”.

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: 2004, Page 107.
10 Ibid. Page 114.
11 Ibid. Pages 115-116.
12 Ibid. Page 126
13 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 22.
14 Black, Edwin, op cit., Page 118.
15 Laffan, R.D.G. “The Serbs: The Guardians of the Gate”.

Dorset Press: 1989, Pages 163-64
16 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 24.
17 Ibid. Page 16
18 Ibid. Page 24
19 Ibid. Pages 29-30
20 Black, Edwin, op cit., Page 204-205.
21 Ibid. Page 196
22 Ibid. Pages 196-197.
23 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 40-41.
24 Ibid. Page 58.
25 Black, Edwin, op cit., Page 223.
26 Ibid. Page 245
27 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 59-60.
28 Shirer, William L. “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany”

Fawcett Crest: 1992, Page 994.
29 Black, Edwin, op cit., Pages 307-308.
30 Ibid. Page 314
31 Ibid. Page 319
32 Porch, Douglas. “The Other ‘Gulf War’ – The British Invasion of Iraq in 1941”.

Center for Contemporary Conflict: December 2, 2002.

http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/rsepResources/si/dec02/middleEast.asp
33 Palast, Greg. “Armed Madhouse”.

Penguin Group: 2006, Page 79.
34 BBC. “Fact File: Persia Invaded”.

WW2 People’s War: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/timeline/factfiles/nonflash/a1130121.shtml?sectionId=3&articleId=1130121
35 Samii, Bill. “World War II — 60 Years After: The Anglo-Soviet Invasion Of Iran And  Washington-Tehran Relations”.

Payvand’s Iran News: May 7, 2005.

http://www.payvand.com/news/05/may/1047.html
36 Luce, Dan De. “The spectre of Operation Ajax”.

The Guardian: August 20, 2003.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,12858,1022065,00.html
37 Gasiorowski, Mark J., and Malcolm Byrne. “Mohammad Mosaddeq and  the 1953 Coup in Iran”.

The National Security Archive: June 22, 2004.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB126/index.htm
38 Risen, James. “Secrets of History: The C.I.A in Iran.”

The New York Times: 2000.

http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-index.html
39 Goodman, Amy. “50 Years After the CIA’s First Overthrow of a Democratically  Elected Foreign Government We Take a Look at the 1953 US Backed Coup in  Iran”.

Democracy Now!: August 25th, 2003

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/08/25/1534210
40 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 96.
41 Ibid. Page 97
42 Library of Congress Country Studies: “Iran: SAVAK”. December, 1987:
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ir0187
43 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 135-136.
44 Loftus, John and Mark Aarons. “The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western  Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People”.

St. Martin’s Griffin: 1994, Page 309.
45 Ibid. Page 310.
46 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 136.
47 Loftus, John and Mark Aarons, op cit., Pages 310-311.
48 Reuters. “Book says Kissinger delayed telling Nixon about Yom Kippur War”

Haaretz: April 5, 2007.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/845041.html
49 Ibid. Pages 136-137
50 Ibid. Pages 286-287
51 Ibid. Page 137
52 Ibid. Page 138
53 Sklar, Holly. “Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World  Management.”

South End Press: 1980, Pages 1-2.
54 Ibid. Page 30.
55 Ibid. Pages 99-109.
56 Ibid. Page 202
57 Ibid. Pages 91-92
58 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 169-170.
59 Ibid. Page 171
60 Tarpley, Webster G. “George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography”.

Executive Intelligence Review: 1992, Page 353.
61 Peters, Alan. “Role of US Former Pres. Carter Emerging in Illegal Financial Demands  on Shah of Iran”.

Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily: Volume XXII, No. 46 Monday, March 15, 2004

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1516436/posts
62 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 171.
63 Lenczowski, George. “The Arc of Crisis: Its Central Sector”.

Foreign Affairs: Spring, 1979

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19790301faessay9917/george-lenczowski/the-arc-of-crisis-its-central-sector.html
64 Cheney, Dick. “Vice President’s Remarks at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia  Luncheon Honoring Professor Bernard Lewis”.

White House: May 1, 2006.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/05/20060501-3.html
65 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 171.
66 Ibid. Page 172
67 Tarpley, Webster G, op cit., Page 354.
68 Parry, Robert. “David Rockefeller & October Surprise Case”.

Consortium News: April 15, 2005

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2005/041505.html
69 Time. “Who Helped the Shah How Much?”

Time Magazine: December 10, 1979

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,912546-2,00.html
70 Sklar, Holly, op cit., Page 569.
71 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 172-173.
72 Blum, Bill. “The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan: Interview with Zbigniew  Brzezinski”.

Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html
73 Morgan, David. “Ex-U.S. official says CIA aided Baathists”.

Reuters News Agency: April 20, 2003.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/ex_us_officials_says_cia_aided_baathists.html
74 IANS. “Flash Back: How the CIA found and groomed Saddam”.

Indo-Asian news Service: April 16, 2003.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/how_the_cia_found_and_groomed_saddam.html
75 Newsmax Wires. “Saddam Key in Early CIA Plot”.

United Press International: April 11, 2003.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/4/10/205859.shtml
76 Meldon, Jerry. “A CIA Officer’s Calamitous Choices.”

Consortium News: May 15, 2003

http://www.consortiumnews.com/Print/051503a.html
77 Battle, Joyce. “Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980- 1984”.

National Security Archive: February 25, 2003.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/
78 Boyle, Francis A. “US Policy Toward the Iran/Iraq War”.

Counter Punch: December 14, 2002.

http://www.counterpunch.org/boyle1214.html
79 Battle, Joyce. “Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980- 1984”.

National Security Archive: February 25, 2003.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/
80 Newsmax Wires. “Saddam Key in Early CIA Plot”.

United Press International: April 11, 2003.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/4/10/205859.shtml
81 Paterson, Tony. “Leaked Report Says German and US Firms Supplied Arms to  Saddam”.

The Independent: December 18, 2002.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1218-06.htm
82 Byrne, Malcolm, et al. “The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On.”

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm
83 Tarpley, Webster G., op cit., Page 385.
84 Ibid. Page 386
85 Ibid. Pages 408-409
86 Byrne, Malcolm, et al. “The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On.”

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm
87 FoxNews. “War Stories With Oliver North”.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,50566,00.html
88 Hertzberg, Hendrik. “Too Much Information.”

The New Yorker: December 9, 2002.

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/12/09/021209ta_talk_hertzberg
89 Byrne, Malcolm, et al. “The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On.”

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm

Global Research Articles by Andrew G. Marshall

9/11 Blame Game: CIA Falls on Its Sword Again by Kurt Nimmo

August 24, 2007

9/11 Blame Game: CIA Falls on Its Sword Again by Kurt Nimmo


by Kurt Nimmo
Global Research, August 23, 2007

If 3,000 people had not died on September 11, 2001, a report released by the CIA’s inspector general would be laughable. “A CIA report released Tuesday blames the top leadership of the agency for major lapses in fighting al-Qaida and outlines how intelligence officials missed numerous opportunities to thwart two hijackers prior to the Sept. 11 attacks,” reports NBC. “The 19-page executive summary, written by the CIA’s inspector general, finds extensive fault with the actions of former director George Tenet and other CIA leaders.”And what, pray tell, are these “major lapses” in “fighting al-Qaida,” the mostly smoke and mirrors terrorist organization named after a mujahideen database?

“Tenet and the agencies under his supervision lacked a comprehensive strategic plan to counter al-Qaida prior to Sept. 11.” In fact, as Dan Rather reported, Osama was admitted to a Pakistani hospital on September 10, 2001. “If the CBS report by Dan Rather is accurate and Osama had indeed been admitted to the Pakistani military hospital on September 10, 2001, courtesy of America’s ally, he was in all likelihood still in hospital in Rawalpindi on the 11th of September, when the attacks occurred,” writes Michel Chossudovsky, citing mainstream news reports. “In all probability, his whereabouts were known to US officials on the morning of September 12, when Secretary of State Colin Powell initiated negotiations with Pakistan, with a view to arresting and extraditing bin Laden.” In the months leading up to Osama’s hospital visit, the CIA head of station at the American Hospital in Dubai, UAE, paid Osama a visit. Le Figaro reported:

Dubai… was the backdrop of a secret meeting between Osama bin Laden and the local CIA agent in July [2001]. A partner of the administration of the American Hospital in Dubai claims that “public enemy number one” stayed at this hospital between the 4th and 14th of July. While he was hospitalized, bin Laden received visits from many members of his family as well as prominent Saudis and Emiratis. During the hospital stay, the local CIA agent, known to many in Dubai, was seen taking the main elevator of the hospital to go [up] to bin Laden’s hospital room. A few days later, the CIA man bragged to a few friends about having visited bin Laden. Authorized sources say that on July 15th, the day after bin Laden returned to Quetta [Pakistan], the CIA agent was called back to headquarters. In the pursuit of its investigations, the FBI discovered “financing agreements” that the CIA had been developing with its “Arab friends” for years. The Dubai meeting is, so it would seem, within the logic of “a certain American policy.’”

Of course, we are not supposed to know about this “certain American policy,” although it is common knowledge, at least to readers of Le Figaro and the London Times.

The CIA would have us believe Tenet and “other CIA leaders” were clueless—and maybe they were. However, as Chossudovsky noted in November, 2003, the hospital mentioned above “is directly under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani Armed Forces, which has close links to the Pentagon. U.S. military advisers based in Rawalpindi. work closely with the Pakistani Armed Forces. Again, no attempt was made to arrest America’s best known fugitive, but then maybe bin Laden was serving another ‘better purpose’. Rumsfeld claimed at the time that he had no knowledge regarding Osama’s health…. Needless to say, the CBS report is a crucial piece of information in the 9/11 jigsaw. It refutes the administration’s claim that the whereabouts of bin Laden are unknown. It points to a Pakistan connection, it suggests a cover-up at the highest levels of the Bush administration.”

But, for the neocons, ever aware of the feeblemindedness of the average American (except when it comes to football scores), such refutations are less than meaningless, as such a “report” can be splashed across corporate media headlines and few challenge the bankrupt and wholly transparent premise that the CIA was out to lunch on September 11, 2001. In fact, the CIA was squarely in the driver’s seat.

Moreover, if the CIA was indeed interested in hunting down and smoking out Osama and his dour cave-dwelling patsy terrorists, they may have asked General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of Pakistan’s military intelligence, the ISI—responsible, at the behest of the CIA, for creating “al-Qaeda” in the first place—as he was in Washington at the time of the attacks, brunching it up with then Republican Congress critter Porter Goss and Democratic critter Bob Graham. It is said they were discussing Osama. In fact, as the Guardian reported at the time, Ahmad had a bagman, one Omar Sheikh, deliver $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, or somebody who claimed to be Atta.

Small world, no?

Sure it is—and I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in purchasing.

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Kurt Nimmo

Inside the Data Mine

August 13, 2007

Inside the Data Mine

http://www.truthdig.com/dig/item/20070809_inside_the_data_mine/

Posted on Aug 9, 2007

By Onnesha Roychoudhuri

On April 20, 2007, former Qwest telecommunications CEO Joseph Nacchio was found guilty on 19 of 42 counts of insider trading. “For anyone who has ever made a call in Qwest territory, the term ‘convicted felon Joe Nacchio’ has a nice ring to it,” U.S. prosecutor Troy Eid told the press. The mood was fairly universal. One securities lawyer pitched in: “The government has another notch in their belt. They’ve had a tremendous winning streak in these corporate crime cases.”

But it would have been more accurate to qualify the statement by saying that the government has had a tremendous winning streak in the corporate crime cases it chooses to pursue. We now know that the Securities and Exchange Commission has chosen not to pursue charges of insider trading in the case of a Wall Street executive named John J. Mack because of his “political clout.” And while former U.S. Attorney William Leone led the case against Qwest, he was one of the unfortunate attorneys on the Department of Justice’s “purge list,” replaced by none other than Bush-nominated Troy Eid, a former co-worker of Jack Abramoff at the firm Greenberg Traurig.

In the wake of the Enron scandal, Nacchio’s verdict could be seen as the continuing triumph of an efficient and unbiased judicial system—one working to protect the people’s interests against unbridled business tycoons. But the insidious environment of purges and selective prosecution based on cronyism necessitates a more critical view.  To celebrate Nacchio’s verdict in such a simplistic light would miss a far more interesting story about what telecommunications success and failure signify in a post-September 11th world.

Delving into Joseph Nacchio and Qwest’s story reveals a company with close ties to the White House—ties that appear to have been temporarily severed when, according to Nacchio and his legal team at Qwest, the company refused to participate in the government’s data-mining program—making it the only big telecommunications company that didn’t take part. Nacchio claims that secret government contracts he was expecting were never delivered after his refusal to participate in the National Security Agency program, resulting in skewed profit claims.

While currently under new leadership, wooing back government contracts, and finally turning a profit, Qwest will have to struggle to maintain a competitive edge in an industry of telecommunications giants. These giants have received favorable treatment from the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. Parallel to this success have come news reports that these ever-merging entities—notably AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon—are participating in domestic data-mining programs.

In an amoebic dance, SBC, AT&T, Bell South, Cingular, MCI and Verizon have all coupled and re-coupled, forming a terrain redolent of the days of Ma Bell. Comedian Stephen Colbert, with deadpan delivery, traced the acrobatics in his January 2007 TV primer explaining why Cingular changed its name to AT&T:

As you no doubt remember, Cingular was co-owned by BellSouth and SBC, which had been Southwestern Bell and Ameritech, which before that had been Illinois Bell, Wisconsin Bell, Michigan Bell, Ohio Bell, and Indiana Bell. … A couple of years ago Cingular bought AT&T Wireless and renamed it Cingular, but then SBC bought AT&T and changed its own name to AT&T. Then that new AT&T bought BellSouth, changing its name to AT&T, making it only logical to change Cingular into AT&T.

These mergers are even more conspicuous due to the number that have been approved in just the past three years. 2005 alone saw enough mergers to leave Americans with only two major telecommunications companies: Verizon and AT&T. Colbert cites the most recent and highly contested AT&T/BellSouth merger that combined the country’s two largest telecommunications companies. Despite the massive scope of the merger, when the Department of Justice conducted its regulatory analysis it concluded that there were no major antitrust issues.

In contrast to companies such as AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon, Qwest has encountered significant roadblocks in its expansion efforts, causing telecommunications experts to ask pointed questions about differing treatment from the Department of Justice, the FCC and the SEC. Specifically:  Is there government retribution? The question gains clout in light of the recent U.S. attorney scandal and the selective prosecution that the Bush administration has been practicing.

The ties between the telecommunications industry and the White House have grown even deeper since the Sept. 11 attacks, making it impossible to understand data mining or the telecommunications industry without exploring this relationship.

A Tap Without a Wire

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the NSA was significantly downsized and defunded. Seeking a new raison d’être and a new way to remain financially relevant, the NSA decided to go commercial. Back in June of 2000, the agency released a statement announcing that it was pursuing a “government-industry partnership for information technology infrastructure services.” Or: outsourcing. On Sept. 1, 2001, just 10 days before the terrorist attacks, Government Executive magazine investigated the transformation in an online article:

Beginning in November, hundreds of National Security Agency technology specialists will walk out the doors … ending their careers as federal workers. But nearly all will return the next day to do the same jobs they did before, as contractors under the largest outsourcing ever conducted by an intelligence agency. … One of the largest IT outsourcing pacts in government, … NSA’s Project Groundbreaker contract reflects a growing recognition by agencies that private companies can provide better IT support at lower prices than federal workers can.

With the recent communications revolution and the downsizing of the NSA, former NSA Director (now Director of CIA) Michael Hayden made it his goal to “get the technology of the global telecommunications revolution inside this agency.” To do that, Hayden brought new executives into the NSA, including Harry Gatanas, a military and intelligence veteran turned business executive. Gatanas told the press: “Really, nothing is sacred. If it’s not a core competency, then we’ll look at the potential of outsourcing it.”

That sentiment echoes the NSA’s December 2000 “Transition Report”, unveiling “Groundbreaker,” which refers to “the decision to outsource routine information technology functions.” The NSA mission is said to require the agency to “live on the network.” Almost a year before Sept. 11, the report stated that “NSA will be a legal but also a powerful and permanent presence on a global telecommunications infrastructure where protected American communications and targeted adversary communications will coexist.”

Even back in 2000, the NSA recognized the possible conflicts with Fourth Amendment rights. “The Fourth Amendment is as applicable to eSIGINT [electronic signals intelligence] as it is to the SIGINT [signals intelligence] of yesterday and today. The Information Age will however cause us to rethink and reapply procedures, policies and authorities born in an earlier electronic surveillance environment. …”

By December 2000, the NSA had already claimed that its new mission was “well under way.” In a statement reminiscent of Vice President Cheney’s nostalgia for the days of broader executive power, the NSA proclaimed, “This new model for eSIGINT … in the Information Age may require a restatement and endorsement of the policies and authorities that empowered NSA in the Industrial Age.” After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, concerns about Fourth Amendment violations were swept aside with the “national security” argument, providing a broad-spectrum justification for any possible constitutional violations. 

Data Mining Begins

Upon reading an article in USA Today alleging government spying on American communications, Philadelphia resident Norman LeBoon wondered if communications on his Verizon land line were being shared with the government. After a string of e-mails, LeBoon says he finally reached “Ellen” in customer service, who had this to say: “I can tell you, Mr. LeBoon, that your records have been shared with the government, but that’s between you and me. … They [Verizon] are going to deny it because of national security. The government is denying it and we have to deny it, too. Around here we are saying that Verizon has ‘plausible deniability.’ ”

LeBoon is part of a class-action suit against the major telecommunications companies brought by lawyers Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer. Their case is remarkable not only in that it references such blatant admissions by Verizon employees, but also because the two lawyers claim to have evidence that AT&T was approached by the National Security Agency before 9/11 as part of the aforementioned Project Groundbreaker, which gave the government access to an unprecedented amount of the personal data of American citizens.

The data-mining program has been aided in no small part by the recent spree of telecommunications mergers that have gone through with little or no regulations thanks to cursory reviews by the Department of Justice.

Apart from the instances in which Verizon employees told customers of the program’s existence, the size of the program and the number of businesses involved make it impossible for it to be completely obscured from the public. The technology installed in cooperative telecommunications companies is designed to sift through massive quantities of consumer communications. One such provider of data-mining technology to the government is Narus. The company puts AT&T at the top of its list of customers, but Narus has also been publicly connected directly to the NSA. Whistle-blower Mark Klein, a retired AT&T employee, has provided documents showing that Narus’ technology was to be installed in a San Francisco facility at the behest of an NSA agent. The vice president of marketing for the company, Steven Bannerman, notes that the technology “enables network operators to spot viruses and identify human targets, such as spammers or potential terrorists.”

While the equipment includes law-enforcement features that prevent searches in any data apart from court-approved targets, the use of those features is optional, leaving no formalized regulation of targeting.

The point of data mining is that you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, searching instead for relationships and patterns in data. Lee Tien, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, explains, “The idea is to take advantage of the fact that huge amounts of transactional data are produced every day in the course of our routine day-to-day lives and that each person is going to be leaving footprints.”

Despite the ominous scope of a program targeting the daily routines of everyday Americans, President Bush has assured the nation that the government is not “mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.”

In May 2006, former NSA analyst Ira Winkler wrote a heated rebuttal to Bush’s assurances in Computer World:

They claim that the NSA is not receiving any personally identifying information. Frankly, you have to be a complete moron to believe that. … By simply tying numbers together—and intelligence discipline of traffic analysis—I assure you I can put together a portrait of your life. I’ll know your friends, your hobbies, where your children go to school, if you’re having an affair, whether you plan to take a trip and even when you’re awake or asleep. Give me a list of whom you’re calling and I can tell most of the critical things I need to know about you.

When you start to understand the scope of the program, you realize why the Bush administration balked at the notion of obtaining a warrant for each individual whose information it intended to search. In order for data mining to be a thorough program, for the NSA to, as Hayden put it, “live on the network,” the government needs to have blanket access to telecommunication companies across the country. The problem for the program began when one company, Qwest, refused to comply. 

On May 11, 2006, USA Today reported that Qwest CEO Nacchio and his lawyers asked the government to take its request to the FISA court, or to get a letter of authorization from the attorney general’s office. When the government refused, Qwest refused to grant access to its customers’ records, leaving the data-mining program with a Qwest-size hole in its database—including portions of 14 states in the West and Northwest. There were bound to be repercussions. As USA Today’s Leslie Cauley writes:

The NSA, which needed Qwest’s participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard. Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies. It also tried appealing to Qwest’s patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest’s refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled. In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest’s foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

This was no minor threat. In the telecommunications world, companies cannot remain competitive without the government contracts that keep them afloat. Market analysts of government business at INPUT recently released a report stating that the Department of Defense is the “leading spender on telecommunications products and services in the federal government. This situation is contrary to the general rule that civilian agencies outspend the DoD on information technology.”

Tracking Qwest

The famed ego of Joe Nacchio, not a well-liked character, has made him something of a notorious Denver personality. The tough guy from New Jersey with oversize britches was finally ousted from Qwest and subjected to a three-year-long Department of Justice investigation that ended with Nacchio facing 42 counts of insider trading. A mini-Enron of sorts, but with one substantial difference: Nacchio claims that he was anticipating secret government contracts that were never delivered.

He had reason to believe something would be coming his way.

In early 2001, President Bush appointed him chairman of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee—a group that works to keep the president up to date on national security issues that involve telecommunication infrastructure. A Denver telecommunications analyst, Donna Jaegers, recalls a meeting with Nacchio in which he was “gaga” over the possibility of certain government contracts. It was while he was serving on the committee that Nacchio allegedly inflated the value of Qwest. And it was also while he was on the committee, claims Nacchio lawyer Herbert Stern, that Nacchio was approached by the government with a request to access private telephone records of Qwest customers. 

As the story goes, Nacchio refused. While the refusal may be due, in part, to an altruistic defense of consumer privacy, there also existed the very real threat of privacy lawsuits for handing over consumer information without appropriate warrants. To wit, AT&T, Verizon and a handful of other companies are currently facing some $5 billion in damage claims if found guilty of violating telecommunications laws.

After making the initial statement about his client’s refusal to participate in the data-mining program, Stern has remained mum, refusing all press inquiries.

In an interview, Cliff Stricklin, a prosecutor from Stern’s opposition, simply grins and urges me to look up a legal strategy called “graymail.”

Graymail: (n.) a maneuver used by the defense in a spy trial whereby the government is threatened with the revelation of national secrets unless the case against the defendant is dropped.

In other words: Take me to court and I’ll reveal state secrets. Nacchio’s defense team ended up making the secret contracts a minor part of his defense due to rulings from the judge in closed sessions regarding classified information. It is likely that this defense will resurface in his appeal or his upcoming defense against the SEC’s charges of accounting fraud.

Twenty-six years into a career at AT&T, Nacchio was thought to be next in line to former AT&T Chairman Robert Allen. When he was passed up, he went his own way, building Qwest into a competitor to his former employer. As former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman told a local reporter, “Nacchio used to be part of George W. Bush’s team, but now the Justice Department is trying to take all of his money and freedom.” History repeats itself: Nacchio is once again a disgruntled former employee and he’s not going down without a fight. It’s a good old-fashioned grudge match with cocky foes threatening to air the others’ dirty laundry.

Graymail may not be a remarkably unique concept, but the sudden evaporation of this close, security-level relationship and the timing of the Justice Department’s investigation are suggestive of government retribution. Bruce Afran, one of the lawyers leading the class-action suit against AT&T and Verizon for their participation in the government’s data-mining program, has followed the Nacchio case closely. When pressed during an interview, Afran chooses his words carefully: “We can’t ignore that Nacchio has been the only one to refuse to participate in the program, and that he was then indicted.” Afran explains that, because chief executives are paid in shares or options, they’re always selling shares. “Whenever you want to take revenge on an uncooperative CEO, all you need to do is charge him with insider trading,” says Afran, referring to a strategy commonly known as “selective prosecution.” He pauses, sips from his coffee, leans in a bit, and says, “As a lawyer, I think this is clearly a pretext for punishing him for failing to go along with their [the government’s] program.”

Even if you don’t buy that Nacchio’s indictment for insider trading is payback for his refusal to participate in the president’s data-mining program, Nacchio’s former company, Qwest, has taken some hard knocks in the business world. Knocks that, given the soaring stocks and the unprecedented merger success of other companies implicated in data mining, become all the more salient. 

When I tried to meet with a legal adviser of Qwest, I encountered Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs. Toevs thanked me for repeatedly “reaching out” in my requests for an interview regarding the harsh regulations the Justice Department has imposed on Qwest deals. When I tried to sidestep Toevs by sending direct e-mails to two Qwest employees, I got another e-mail from Toevs thanking me again for my attempt to reach out to his team, again refusing, and wishing me safe travel home.

Curiously, the three Denver reporters I spoke to told me how helpful Toevs had been. “Perhaps,” one reporter told me outside of Nacchio’s hearing, “they don’t want to talk about the bad luck they’ve had.” With a new CEO leading the company slowly out of debt, it’s likely Qwest is interested in leaving the past behind—and avoiding rehashing any unpleasantries that could hurt its chances of winning government contracts. One telecommunications expert who agreed to speak only without being identified summed up the past two years of mergers like this: “It’s as if AT&T and Verizon can’t lose.” It is widely acknowledged that Qwest has not been so lucky—becoming fodder in the D.C. rumor mill. Celebrated intellectual property and trade regulation lawyer Gary Reback heard a rumor from some D.C. lawyers and lobbyists that Qwest was being disadvantaged for not participating in the data-mining program.

In 2003, Qwest announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire most of the assets of a small, bankrupt company called Allegiance. The Department of Justice agreed to the deal, but only if stringent conditions were met—divestiture of every single piece of Allegiance’s network that was inside of Qwest’s territory. After a long period of bidding, Qwest ended up losing the deal to another company. In 2005, Qwest tried again to expand its holdings by merging with MCI. Qwest and Verizon were engaged in a bidding war—if you can call it that—for MCI, with Qwest consistently offering MCI a higher bid—in the end, $9.9 billion to Verizon’s $8.45 billion. Yet, Verizon somehow won out.

Qwest’s CEO Dick Notebaert was irate, releasing this press statement: “Qwest maintains that it would be better for the industry to have three major telecom companies—SBC-AT&T, Qwest-MCI and Verizon. … It’s a public policy issue, I don’t think we want a duopoly.” The loss of the deal was confusing to Notebaert, who referred to the bidding process as “permanently skewed against Qwest.” MCI, for its part, did not go into detail about why it chose Verizon over Qwest, telling the press only that they were “under pressure from some of its business customers to accept Verizon” and that, apparently, “Some had requested rights to end their contracts with MCI if it merged with Qwest.” Whatever the reason, it had to be more compelling than a billion and a half dollars.

When the Department of Justice reviewed the massive Verizon/MCI merger, and the earlier SBC/AT&T mergers, it did not require divestiture of any lines. A distinct contrast with the restrictions the Justice Department had leveled on the much smaller Qwest/Allegiance deal. Indeed, Comptel, which represents competitive telecommunications policy interests, argued against the mergers in part because of the Justice Department’s failure to follow its previous ruling in the Verizon/MCI and SBC/AT&T mergers. 

Rebuilding the Telecommunications Empire

While other telecommunications companies have consolidated with a hefty push from the Justice Department, Qwest has fought an uphill battle to remain afloat. This is in direct contrast to the department signing off on the $86-billion merger of AT&T and BellSouth without so much as a single regulatory condition.

The merger created the largest company in America and one of the largest companies in the world, but when the Department of Justice conducted its regulatory analysis, it concluded that there were no real antitrust issues. This came as quite a shock to those in the FCC who were used to the Department of Justice at least paying lip service to modest regulations in order to keep the merger machinery running without undue questioning. The merger was opposed not only by consumer interest groups but other telecommunications companies that rely on the special-access circuits controlled by a vanishing number of telecom giants like AT&T. Companies like Broadwing and XO need access to shared circuits in order to support business customers and survive a situation in which they could effectively be muscled out by monopolistic control.

Larry Strickling, former chief of the FCC Common Carrier Bureau, and Broadwing executive says that the outcomes of the MCI/Verizon deal and the AT&T/SBC deal “struck people as very odd and counter to standard DoJ analysis and interpretation.” After those mergers went through, the floodgates were opened.

Says Strickling: “The company that I worked for at the time of those two mergers is Broadwing, and Broadwing was quite concerned about those mergers. We, along with a lot of other companies, were trying to push both the DoJ and FCC to perform traditional antitrust analysis and require certain divestitures as part of the deal and obviously we were not successful in convincing either agency to do its job.”

When asked about the DoJ’s differing standards for requiring divestiture of lines for Qwest but not Verizon, Strickling simply says, “It was an aberration, but we’re coming to expect more and more aberrations these days.”

Despite these concerns, the Department of Justice continues to assert that it sees absolutely no problem with the merger. While it’s no secret that there is a highly anti-regulatory administration in the White House, the fact that the DoJ has been so intractable in the face of such opposition signals that there may be more than free-market fundamentalism behind the push.

Both FCC officials (one Republican and one Democrat) I spoke with made it clear that the DoJ’s behavior in pushing through the merger had left them in a difficult position—not to mention a tense negotiation. Without a proper DoJ analysis, FCC officials have been left holding the bag.

The pressure only increases as the number of telecommunications companies has dwindled. 2005 saw the unions of SBC/AT&T and Verizon/MCI. With the BellSouth/AT&T merger, consumers are left with AT&T, Verizon and the comparatively tiny Qwest. Government contracts with telecommunication companies are a multibillion-dollar business with both telecoms and politicians eager to remain in each other’s good graces; it’s a tightknit old-boys network of governmental officials and telecom executives.

It comes as no surprise, then, that two of the companies implicated by the USA Today article for participation in data mining were AT&T and Verizon, headed by (recently retired) Ed Whitacre and Ivan Seidenberg, respectively. The two have close ties to the White House and contributed heavily to Bush’s re-election campaign. The timing of the contributions is important as both Whitacre and Seidenberg sought substantial mergers during Bush’s second term, for which Whitacre raised at least $200,000 and Seidenberg at least $100,000—far outstripping their year-2000 contributions.

Since Bush’s re-election, the telecommunications industry has experienced a scale of mergers and consolidation that hasn’t been seen since the days of Ma Bell. The Department of Justice (headed by longtime Bush ally Alberto Gonzales) has fallen into line, taking an increasingly hands-off position on antitrust reviews (except, of course, for Qwest). Indeed, more than hands-off, the DoJ antitrust division has been working to promote legislation that would make it easier for the newly merged AT&T to control various markets. In an April 30, 2007, letter, the DoJ antitrust division contacted Wisconsin state Sen. Jeffrey Plale (though it spelled his name incorrectly as “Pale”), expressing support for a bill that would make it easier for AT&T to enter the market with its new video service—effectively eliminating municipal cable franchises and putting the approval process in the hands of the state.

As mentioned before, government contracts provide critical telecommunications revenue. Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s technology and liberty program, says it is through government contracts that the White House is able to throw its weight around. “I presume that there’s some payment that’s being made for the construction of facilities providing connections between the offices and the NSA. But the more important money here are these huge contracts with the federal government.” It seems that, in addition to contracts, pushes for favorable litigation are also afforded.

Spy Consolidation

While it’s clear what telecoms get out of this cozy relationship, the real story is perhaps what the Bush administration is getting in return—apart from some campaign cash. With the president’s favored companies gobbling up the competition, the government’s spy program has access to a substantial amount of the telecommunications backbone—cable that is shared by multiple companies. As Steinhardt explains, “That means that the government can get access to the communications of customers from many different companies.” What Americans are facing is not only consolidation of telecommunications companies, but a consolidation of the government’s ability to spy on communication records.

In FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s press release announcing the merger, he cited national security as one of the critical justifications for approval: “The merger … will enhance national security by creating a stronger and more efficient U.S. supplier of critical communications capabilities.” Martin peppered his release with references to national security, conspicuously avoiding details. Another excerpt from the document states that “Broadband deployment to all Americans remains one of the highest objectives for us at the Commission. This deployment is critical to our nation’s competitiveness in the global economy and to our national security.” Neither of the Democratic commissioners, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, mentioned national security in their press releases regarding the merger.

Despite public concern about the security of consumer information, Martin emphasized that the merger will enhance national security “through the creation of a unified … network capable of providing efficient and secure government communication.” It’s notable that in a public FCC press release, Chairman Martin all but put the seal of approval on the new AT&T serving as the government’s secure network.

National security has been a recurring theme throughout these mergers. Lawyer Bruce Afran has studied the merger documents that Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth have exchanged with the FCC. He says, “All used national security concerns as a basis for justifying these mergers. It looks like they [the telecommunications companies] are signaling that this is the quid pro quo—we’ve done what you need for security purpose. Now you do what we need.”

In a June 2006 Senate judiciary subcommittee meeting on the BellSouth/AT&T merger, Sen. Herb Kohl’s (D-Wis.) opening remarks got straight to the point: “As the market consolidates, Government eavesdropping is possible merely with the assent of fewer and fewer large phone companies than before.” The Department of Justice has been so eager to muscle the mergers through that they have garnered a fair amount of attention—and with good reason.

To explain how egregious the Department of Justice has been in selectively regulating telecommunications mergers, it’s helpful to go back to the Nixon years. In 1974, something called the Tunney Act was signed into law, a response to a backroom deal in which, in exchange for campaign contributions, Richard Nixon’s DoJ squelched antitrust investigations into a huge telecommunications company called ITT. The smoking gun came in the form of an internal ITT memo leaked to The Washington Post. It was a transgression serious enough to have been included among the articles of impeachment against Nixon.

When the SBC/AT&T and MCI/Verizon deals were approved by the DoJ and FCC, with only minor conditions to address antitrust concerns, the independent judicial review mandated by the Tunney Act became important. A former employee of the American Antitrust Institute explains, “The DoJ was so sure that the judge would rubberstamp the deals that they gave the parties license to close the transaction before Tunney review was complete.” Indeed, AT&T and Verizon had already effectively merged with other corporations, whether or not the mergers were ultimately determined to be legal. In a November hearing, a testy federal judge named Emmet Sullivan challenged a confident Verizon lawyer who claimed that the Verizon merger was already closed and pleasing customers. “If the merger is closed,” said Sullivan, “why are we here then?”

The DoJ learned from its mistakes in heeding even the semblance of law, and when the proposed BellSouth/AT&T merger was announced, instead of a formal consent decree that requires Tunney review, the DoJ simply released a press statement claiming that it found no competitive issues in the largest merger in American history. It is, as antitrust experts have noted, a complete end run around the Tunney Act.

The Tunney Act, as a former employee of the American Antitrust Institute explains, is not important if the Justice Department is being vigorous in its enforcement of the laws. “When the DoJ starts being overly lax, the Tunney Act becomes more important. That’s the idea of the Tunney Act: to not let the Justice Department decide to give the store away. They’re getting pushbacks from the court because the court perceives that they’re not being tough enough on the parties.”

Where a concerned customer, or a journalist for that matter, can locate the status of the FCC negotiations over the AT&T/BellSouth merger is something of a mystery. Neither FCC official I met with in Washington would tell me whether the government data-mining programming was even being discussed. And while Democrats have since taken control of the House and Senate, there is currently no investigation into the relationship between telecommunications companies and the White House. Hard to imagine, considering how widely the relationship has been publicized. Bob Woodward made the direct relationship amply clear in his book “State of Denial”:

Over the years, [CIA Director George] Tenet had negotiated agreements with telecommunications and financial institutions to get access to certain telephone, Internet and financial. … Tenet personally made most of the arrangements with the various CEOs of the companies. They were very secret, among the most sensitive arrangements, and based largely on informal understandings. Tenet had been very good at this, playing the patriot card and asking CEOs to help on matters of national security.

Unchecked power

The FCC’s gridlock over the AT&T/BellSouth merger ended with approval. The so-called compromise was that AT&T vowed to support Net Neutrality, though FCC Chairman Martin made clear that he did not support the decision, releasing a statement stating that the order “does not mean that the commission has adopted an additional Net neutrality principle. We continue to believe such a requirement is not necessary … although AT&T may make a voluntary business decision, it cannot dictate or bind government policy. Nor does this order.” What rules AT&T follows are, it seems, up to the corporation. As per the FCC’s merger stipulation, AT&T has started selling a $10-per-month DSL service. The catch?  AT&T hasn’t advertised it, preferring that consumers pay the higher price for the same service.

While the legality of previous mergers is under review in court, the Justice Department is pushing to further accelerate merger reviews of favored deals. A draft of a merger policy document reads: “The staff is encouraged to be as aggressive as possible during the initial 15- or 30-day waiting period in attempting to identify transactions that do not require further investigation.” That kind of brazenness is mirrored by telecommunications leadership.

FCC commissioners, for example, worked with AT&T and BellSouth to try to negotiate conditions for the merger, but AT&T was resistant to accepting any regulations. Ask why it’s being so obstinate and you’ll get a fairly straightforward response in Washington. As telecommunications analyst and Capitol Hill veteran Jessica Zufolo put it, “This is a company that is very accustomed to getting their way.”

So close have the large telecommunications companies grown with the White House that, in a recent legal filing in New Jersey, AT&T and Cingular (co-owned by AT&T and BellSouth) made reference to their right to maintain the state secrets privilege. “To which we answer very simply that the state secrets privilege can only be invoked by the federal government,” says Anne Milgram, recently sworn in as New Jersey’s attorney general.

When the New Jersey attorney general’s office subpoenaed telecommunications companies in the state in order to find out whether they were sharing consumer information with the federal government, rather than receiving responses from the telecommunications companies it received notice from the Department of Justice, which sued the New Jersey attorney general’s office for even posing the question. Milgram says she has never heard of this before. “Why is it OK for the phone companies to give that information to the NSA but not OK for the state to ask for the information?”

Milgram’s voice, though calm, rises in pitch during an interview: “The NSA trusts the phone companies to give them that information, but won’t trust a state attorney general to get that information.”

One of the more telling on-the-record exchanges occurred in a June 2006 Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on the BellSouth/AT&T merger. Sen. Arlen Specter asked AT&T’s Whitacre whether the company provides customer information to the government. To which Whitacre responded only with a parroted, “I will tell you that we follow the law, we don’t break the law.” When you read the transcript, you can almost hear Specter’s blood pressure rise as he pushes back.

Specter: Are you declining to answer my question, Mr. Whitacre?

Whitacre: We follow the law, Senator.

Specter: Does AT&T provide customer information to any law enforcement agency?

Whitacre: We follow the law, Senator.

Specter: That is not an answer, Mr. Whitacre. You know that.

The exchange continues for pages until Specter gets fed up, telling Whitacre, “You said that. I don’t care to hear it again,” ultimately stating for the record that the response is contemptuous of the committee. And while Whitacre insists that AT&T protects consumer information, he also has to field questions about a recent AT&T policy change whereby confidential consumer information is now deemed the property of AT&T and can be used to “safeguard others.” A former policy assured consumers that their information would be released only by subpoena or court order. Whitacre’s response: “We wanted to make our policies easier to read.” One telecommunications analyst present noted that “Specter had smoke coming out of his ears … nobody refuses to answer questions raised in that situation unless they’ve got some pretty powerful backup.”

William Rogers, former secretary of state to Nixon, once stated that “the public should view excessive secrecy among government officials as parents view sudden quiet where youngsters are playing. It is a sign of trouble.” It is arguably true that, in the digital age, certain telecommunications mergers do stand to benefit the consumer. It is also a true that it has become more important for those in national security to work closely with telecommunications companies. But to muscle through a telecommunications monopoly and eradicate the Fourth Amendment and consumer rights of Americans under the guise of “national security” is without justification. The incredible silence with which both the telecommunications companies and White House have met inquiries not just from Americans in general and journalists, but from state attorneys General and other government officials, is certainly a sign of trouble.

This past April, the White House went back to Congress to ask for a revision of FISA laws. Without addressing the ongoing data-mining scandal, President Bush requested that “unintentionally” obtained information be saved and used for intelligence purposes. The revision would also require telecommunications companies to cooperate with investigations and prevent companies from being sued by consumers for sharing information. Not surprisingly, Bush is requesting that this legal protection apply retroactively to companies that have already cooperated with the government.

Research made possible in part by a Nation Investigative Fund grant.

Onnesha Roychoudhuri is a San Francisco-based writer. A former assistant editor of AlterNet.org, she has written for AlterNet, The American Prospect, MotherJones.com, In These Times, Huffington Post, Truthdig, PopMatters, and Women’s eNews. She can be reached at onneshatao(at symbol)gmail.com.

The Pentagon’s latest Big Lie By Mike Whitney

August 10, 2007

The Pentagon’s latest Big Lie By Mike Whitney

By Mike Whitney
08/08/07 “
ICH

The quality of Pentagon-propaganda is really deteriorating.

The War Dept.’s latest fraud appeared in this week’s newspapers under the ominous-sounding headline:

“US Kills Mastermind of Iraq Shrine”

The article is similar to hundreds of other stories we’ve seen in the passed few years boasting of the murder of an “alleged” terrorist kingpin whose evil deeds have prevented democracy from flourishing in Iraq.

Oh, please.

CNN: “Coalition troops killed the al Qaeda terrorist who masterminded the February 2006 attack on Samarra’s al-Askariya mosque and set off continuing violence and reprisal killings between Sunnis and Shiites, the U.S. military said Sunday.” Snip “Haitham Sabah al-Baderi, the al Qaeda emir of greater Samarra, was killed Thursday east of Samarra, said Rear Adm. Mark Fox during a news conference”. snip “Eliminating al-Baderi is another step in breaking the cycle of violence instigated by the attack on the holy shrine in Samarra,” Fox said. “We will continue to hunt down the brutal terrorists who are intent on creating a Taliban-like state in Iraq.” (CNN)

In truth, CNN has no idea who al-Baderi really was or whether he belonged to Al Qaida or not. They just jot down whatever the Pentagon spokesman tells them and then pass it off later as news. It’s the same with the rest of the media. They don’t care. They build their stories on statements from government officials and don’t bother looking for evidence. All they know is that al-Baderi is another unlucky victim in Bush’s war on terror who has been subsumed into the Pentagon’s propaganda war against the American people. That’s it.

So why bother publishing a crazy story like this? It doesn’t change public opinion on the war or convince people that al Qaida is the main enemy in Iraq. So what good is it? It’s just an attempt to show progress in a losing cause by holding up another enemy scalp.

But, that’s not public relations— it’s barbarism. Don’t the Pentagon big-wigs know that? They think the American people relish the idea of assassinating enemy “suspects” without any proof of wrongdoing or judicial oversight. But they’re wrong. People are sickened by it. Can’t they see that?

What is gained by fabricating another goofy story before the dust has even settled on the Tillman fiasco? Why not let the public fully-digest the last “Big Lie” before moving on to the next one?

Remember Tillman—the outspoken NFL star who figured out the war was a fake and started blasting the Bush administration’s lies?

Well, he took three bullets to the head—“gangland style”—in what the Pentagon dubbed “friendly fire”.

What a joke. Is the Pentagon trying to destroy what little credibility it has left?

Apparently.

THIS WEEK’S BIG LIE

I’ve done a lot of research on both bombings of the Golden Dome Mosque and I can tell you that THE MILITARY HAS NEVER CONDUCTED AN INVESTIGATION OF WHAT REALLY HAPPENED. Never. That means the CNN headline is just more empty blather. The few eyewitness accounts that appeared in Iraqi blogs and web sites strongly suggest that US Intelligence agencies and Iraqi troops from the Interior Ministry may have been involved. The theories connecting Al Qaida to the incident are pure speculation with no factual basis.

And yet, here’s what Bush said in a speech just days after the first bombing:

“Al Qaida terrorists and Sunni insurgents… blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam—the Golden Mosque of Samarra—in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq’s Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements; some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.”

How does Bush know who it was? He never ordered an investigation and he doesn’t have a crystal ball. If there’s proof—show us! Otherwise we should assume that he is just trying to blame someone else for his part in turning Iraq into a charnel house.

Those aren’t Al Qaida’s B-1 Bombers dropping cluster bombs and Daisy Cutters on Iraqi cities. And, that isn’t al-Baderi kicking down doors and dragging off civilians to be tortured in some god-forsaken hell-hole. Those are Bush’s planes and Bush’s troops! He’s the one who’s responsible.

Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote just a few months ago after the last bombing in Samarra:

“Less than 4 hours after the explosion, the Bush public relations team cobbled together a statement that the bombing was the work of Sunni extremists or al Qaida terrorists. But, they’ve never produced a scintilla of evidence to support their claims. It may be that the administration simply saw the bombing as an opportunity to twist the facts to suit their own purposes.

After all, the incident has been a propaganda-bonanza for the Bush team. They’ve used it to support their theory that Iraq is “the central battle in the war on terror” and that “we must fight them there if we don’t want to fight them over here”. It’s been used as one of the main justifications for the occupation; implying that the US military is needed as a referee to keep the warring factions from killing each other. It’s all just nonsense that’s designed to advance the administration’s political agenda.

If there had been an investigation, it would have shown whether or not the perpetrators were experts by the placement of the explosives. They might have found bomb-residue which could have determined the composition of the material used. Forensics experts could have easily ascertained whether the explosives came from Iraqi munitions-dumps (as suggested) or from outside the country (like the USA, perhaps?)

The incident may well have been a “false flag” operation carried out by US intelligence agencies to provoke sectarian violence and, thus, reduce the number of attacks on American troops. (That is what the vast number of Sunnis and Shiites believe)

In any event, as soon as the mosque was destroyed the media swung into action focusing all of its attention on sectarian violence and the prospect of civil war. The media’s incessant “cheerleading” for civil war was suspicious, to say the least.

In the first 30 hours after the blast, more than 1,500 articles appeared on Google News providing the government version of events without deviation and without any corroborating evidence; just fluff that reiterated the Pentagon’s account verbatim and without challenge.

1500! Now that’s a well-oiled propaganda system!

Most of the articles were “cookie cutter-type” stories which used the same buzzwords and talking points as all the others; no interviews, no facts, no second opinions; simple, straightforward stenography – nothing more.

The story was repeated for weeks on end never veering from the same speculative theory. Clearly, there was a push to convince the American people that this was a significant event that would reshape the whole context of the war in Iraq. In fact, the media blitz that followed was bigger than anything since 9-11; a spectacular display of the media’s power to manipulate public opinion.

There were a few articles that didn’t follow the party-line, but they quickly disappeared into a cyber-“black hole” or were dismissed as conspiracy theories. One report in AFP said that the bombing “was the work of specialists” and the “placing of explosives must have taken at least 12 hours”.

Ah-ha!

The article said: “Construction Minister Mohammed Jaafar said, ‘Holes were dug into the mausoleum’s four main pillars and packed with explosives. Then charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance.”

Of course, what does that prove? Perhaps, al Qaida has skilled explosives experts? But why not investigate? After all, if this was the “catalyzing event” which thrust the country towards civil war; why not have the FBI come in and take a look-around?

A professional team of investigators could have quickly determined whether highly-trained saboteurs were operating in the area. (which meant that American troops would be at greater risk) Isn’t that worth checking out?

Nope. The Pentagon did nothing. There was no effort at all to find out who might have been involved. It was an open and shut case; wrapped up before the dust had even settled in Samarra.

Very strange.

Apparently, there was at least one witness who was interviewed shortly after the bombing. He said that he heard cars running outside the mosque “the whole night until morning” but, he was warned “to stay in your shop and don’t leave until morning”.

At 6:30 AM the next morning, the vehicles outside the mosque left. 10 minutes later the bombs exploded.

None of the people living in the vicinity of the mosque were ever questioned. Likewise, the Construction Minister Mohammed Jaafar has never resurfaced in the news again. I expect that his comments in the newspaper may have had something to do with his sudden disappearance, but then maybe not. (Bush’s War on Perception the bombing of the Golden Mosque, Mike Whitney)

Here’s an excerpt from another article titled “Information Warfare, Psy-ops and the Power of Myth” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17078.htm

New Clues in the Bombing

New clues have surfaced in the case of the bombing of the Golden Mosque which suggests that the claims of the Bush administration are false. An article by Marc Santora, (“One Year Later, Golden Mosque still in Ruins”, New York Times) provides eyewitness testimony of what really took place one year ago:

“A caretaker at the shrine described what happened on the day of the attack, insisting on anonymity because he was afraid that talking to an American could get him killed. The general outline of his account was confirmed by American and Iraqi officials.

The night before the explosion, he said, just before the 8 p.m. curfew on Feb. 21, 2006, on the Western calendar, men dressed in commando uniforms like those issued by the Interior Ministry entered the shrine.

The caretaker said he had been beaten, tied up and locked in a room.

Throughout the night, he said, he could hear the sound of drilling as the attackers positioned the explosives, apparently in such a way as to inflict maximum damage on the dome”. (NY Times)

Clearly, if the men were men dressed in “commando uniforms like those issued by the Interior Ministry”, then the logical place to begin an investigation would be the Interior Ministry. But there’s never been an investigation and the caretaker has never been asked to testify about what he saw on the night of the bombing. However, if he is telling the truth, we cannot exclude the possibility that paramilitary contractors (mercenaries) or special-ops (intelligence) agents working out of the Interior Ministry may have destroyed the mosque to create the appearance of a nascent civil war.

Isn’t that what Bush wants—-to divert attention from the occupation and to show that the real conflict is between Shiites and Sunnis?

It’s unlikely that the mosque was destroyed by “Sunni insurgents or Al Qaida” as Bush claims. Samarra is predominantly a Sunni city and the Sunnis have nearly as much respect for the mosque as a cultural icon and sacred shrine as the Shiites.

The Times also adds, “What is clear is that the attack was carefully planned and calculated”.

True again. We can see from the extent of the damage that the job was carried out by demolition experts and not merely “insurgents or terrorists” with explosives. Simple forensic tests and soil samples could easily determine the composition of the explosives and point out the real perpetrators.

The Times even provides a motive for the attack: “Bad people used this incident to divide Iraq on a detestable sectarian basis.”

Bingo! The administration has repeatedly used the incident to highlight divisions, incite hostilities, and prolong the occupation.

The Times also notes the similarities between 9-11 and the bombing of the Golden Mosque: “I can describe what was done as exactly like what happened to the World Trade Center.”(NY Times)

In fact, the bombing of the Golden Mosque is a reenactment of September 11. In both cases an independent investigation was intentionally quashed and carefully-prepared narrative was immediately provided. The administration’s version of events has been critical in creating the rationale for an extended US military occupation of Iraq, but is it true.

Probably not. The so-called “deeply ingrained sectarian animosity between Sunnis and Shiites” has no historical precedent. It is an invention of propagandists in the intelligence services who intend to fragment the Iraqi state so that precious resources can be more easily controlled. “Divide and rule” continues to be the driving force behind America’s aggressive counterinsurgency strategy.

THE SECOND BOMBING OF THE GOLDEN DOME MOSQUE

Here’s excerpt from another article which outlines some of what we know about the second bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque a year later: (The Battle of Gaza, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17894.htm )

Graham Bowley (“Minarets on Shiites Shrine in Iraq Destroyed in Attack” NY Times) clarifies some of the important details of what took place at the site of the Mosque just prior to the second bombing. He says:

“Since the attack in 2006, the shrine had been under the protection of local — predominantly Sunni — guards. But American military and Iraqi security officials had recently become concerned that the local unit had been infiltrated by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq. A move by the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad over the last few days to bring in a new guard unit — predominantly Shiite — may have been linked to the attack today.”

No reference is made to the sudden and unexplained changing of the guards at the mosque in future accounts in the mainstream press. And, yet, that is the most important point. The minarets were blown up just days after the new guards took charge. They cordoned off the area, placed snipers on the surrounding rooftops, and then blew up the minarets in broad daylight.

The first explosion took place at 9:30 AM. Ten minutes later the second bomb was detonated.

Al Qaeda?

Not likely.

The Golden Dome mosque has been heavily guarded ever since it was blown up in 2006. The four main doors have been bolted shut and not a tile has been moved in over a year. The reason for this is that the Shiites consider it a “crime scene” which they intend to investigate more thoroughly when the violence subsides.

The Shiites never accepted the official US-version of events that “al Qaeda did it”. Many believe that US Special Forces were directly involved and that it was a planned demolition carried out by experts. There is considerable proof to support this theory including eye witness accounts from the scene of the crime as well as holes that were drilled in the floor of the mosque to maximize destruction. This was not a simple al Qaeda-type car-bombing but a technically-demanding demolition operation.

The damning information in the New York Times article has been corroborated in many other publications including an official statement from the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI). According to the AMSI, Prime Minister Nouri al Mailiki replaced the Sunnis who had been guarding the site for over a year with Shiite government forces from the Interior Ministry. Their statement reads:

“Security forces arrived yesterday afternoon from Baghdad Tuesday for the receipt of the task of protecting two tombs instead of the existing force there. Somehow they obtained a scuffle followed by gunfire lasted two hours over control of security forces coming from Baghdad.”

So, the Sunni guards were replaced (after a scuffle) with goons from the Interior Ministry. The next day the minarets blow up.

Coincidence?

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki immediately issued statement where he claimed that the al Qaeda was responsible for the attack. At the same time, however, he arrested all 12 of the guards he sent from the Interior Ministry.

Why? Was he afraid they would talk to the media?

The Association of Muslim Scholars said that “last year’s explosion happened after a severe political crisis between blocs involved in the political process to the occupation. After the elections, the establishment of the government was blocked at that time. It is quite similar to the political crisis faced by the government and parliament today”.

The AMSI is right. The destruction of the Golden Dome Mosque took place soon after the Iraqi parliament rejected the US-plan for dividing Iraq. (“Federalism”) This time, the parliament has voted-down the US-plan to transfer control of Iraq’s vast petroleum reserves to the American oil giants via the “oil laws”.

The AMSI sees the bombing as a desperate attempt by the US occupation to break the logjam in Parliament over the oil laws and to conceal the failures of the “surge” by inciting sectarian violence. The only difference this time is that the Shiite militias have been less responsive to US manipulation. In fact, Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr has tried to stop his Mahdi Army from attacking Sunni areas and he has decried the bombing as another plot by US-Israeli intelligence agents operating in Iraq. He said that the incident reveals “the hidden hand of the occupier.”

He added, “This is what the occupiers brought to Iraq: a disintegration plot and fanning the flames of sectarian violence. Destroying the Askariya shrine goes exactly with the insurgents’ beliefs.”

Among Shiites, there’s nearly unanimous agreement that the US was behind the bombing. Middle East expert Juan Cole reports on his blog-site “Informed Comment, that protests have broken out in India, Pakistan, the Caucasus, Bahrain, Iran and other locations where there are high concentrations of Shiites. The consensus view is that the minarets were blown up as part of a larger US-Israeli strategy for controlling the Middle East.

But why would the Bush administration want to unleash a fresh wave of sectarian violence when they can’t even establish security in Baghdad?

Here’s what the AMSI says:

“Sectarian violence is an effective means to enable the militias to fully impose their control on (Sunni) neighborhoods and cities as it did after the bombings of Samarra….The government is also trying to control the capital of Baghdad; seeking to extend its power over other cities that reject the occupation, especially the cities of Baquba and Samarra”.

This is what is gained by the bombings—further ethnic cleansing of the Sunni neighborhoods and greater control over the public through a campaign of terror. It’s all part of a broader neocon strategy that centers on “creative destruction” rather than the traditional US policy of “regional stability

Final Comment

The bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque is a psychological operation (psy-ops) that evolved from the theories of former Counselor at the State Dept, Philip Zelikow, (Zelikow was also executive director of the 9-11 Commission and author of the National Security Strategy NSS) Zelikow “is an expert in “the creation and maintenance of ‘public myths’ or ‘public presumptions’, which he defines as beliefs thought to be true although not necessarily known to be true with certainty, shared in common with the relevant political community. He has taken a special interest in ‘searing’ or ‘molding’ events that take on ‘transcendent’ importance and, therefore, retain there power even as the experiencing generation passes from the scene”. (“Thinking about Political History” Miller Center report; winter 1999)

“In the Nov-Dec 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs he co-authored an article called ‘Catastrophic Terrorism’ in which he speculated that if the 1993 bombing of the World Trade center had succeeded ‘the resulting horror and chaos would have exceeded our ability to describe it. Such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a watershed event in American history. ‘It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine America’s fundamental sense of security, as did the Soviet bomb test in 1949. The US might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force. More violence could follow, either future terrorist attacks or US counterattacks. Belatedly, Americans would judge their leaders negligent for not addressing terrorism more urgently”. (Wikipedia)

Zelikow’s theories help us understand how “catastrophic events” are being used to shape public consciousness and create a narrative that advances the political objectives of the people in power. The actual facts about the bombing of the shrine are have been intentionally suppressed while the prevailing theory—that we are fighting Al Qaida in Iraq—has been meticulously maintained with a solid wall of disinformation. The media has played a central role in this process by disseminating the official storyline from every outlet and newspaper without challenging the government’s “uncorroborated” assertions. This has had a deeply corrosive effect on American democracy.

The extraordinary expansion of state power has been legitimized by the deliberate misreading of “catastrophic events”. History, legal precedent and even cultural tradition have been brushed aside in an effort to rationalize a new order in which state repression, autocratic rule and aggressive war are deemed the requisite components of national security. The entire human experiment—dating back tens of thousands of years–is now conveniently divided into two parts: pre-9-11 and post 9-11.

The bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque has been used the same way as 9-11. A “unifying myth” has been build around a “catastrophic event” in a way that serves the overall goals of the political establishment. As we have seen, the facts don’t matter as long as the illusion that we are fighting terrorists is maintained. (According to Anthony H. Cordesman, an Iraqi specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, al Qaida’s attacks make up only 15 per cent of the total in Iraq though they launch 80-90 per cent of the suicide bombings”. Patrick Cockburn).In reality, the US is engaged in a brutal colonial war that has destroyed a sovereign nation that posed no threat to American national security. That obvious fact never finds its way into America’s “free press”.

The Bush administration and their enablers in the Pentagon’s “Dept. of Strategic Information” will continue to promote their threadbare narrative of “foreign fighters and terrorists” until the Iraq mission collapses and the troops are withdrawn.

Until then, many more lives will be sacrificed to preserve the myth of a war on terror. Haitham Sabah al-Baderi was one such victim. His assassination has helped to conceal the fact that 700,000 Iraqis have been butchered without cause in their own country by Bush’s army.FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

Bush’s War on Perception; the bombing of the Golden Mosque by Mike Whitney

The Battle of Gaza By Mike Whitney

The Black Sites

August 9, 2007

A Reporter at Large

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/13/070813fa_fact_mayer?printable=true

The Black Sites

A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program.

by Jane Mayer August 13, 2007

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In the war on terror, one historian says, the C.I.A. “didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

In the war on terror, one historian says, the C.I.A. “didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

Keywords
Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh;
Secret Interrogations;
Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.);
Al Qaeda;
Torture;
Pearl, Mariane;
Pearl, Daniel

In March, Mariane Pearl, the widow of the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, received a phone call from Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General. At the time, Gonzales’s role in the controversial dismissal of eight United States Attorneys had just been exposed, and the story was becoming a scandal in Washington. Gonzales informed Pearl that the Justice Department was about to announce some good news: a terrorist in U.S. custody—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Al Qaeda leader who was the primary architect of the September 11th attacks—had confessed to killing her husband. (Pearl was abducted and beheaded five and a half years ago in Pakistan, by unidentified Islamic militants.) The Administration planned to release a transcript in which Mohammed boasted, “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.”

Pearl was taken aback. In 2003, she had received a call from Condoleezza Rice, who was then President Bush’s national-security adviser, informing her of the same news. But Rice’s revelation had been secret. Gonzales’s announcement seemed like a publicity stunt. Pearl asked him if he had proof that Mohammed’s confession was truthful; Gonzales claimed to have corroborating evidence but wouldn’t share it. “It’s not enough for officials to call me and say they believe it,” Pearl said. “You need evidence.” (Gonzales did not respond to requests for comment.)

The circumstances surrounding the confession of Mohammed, whom law-enforcement officials refer to as K.S.M., were perplexing. He had no lawyer. After his capture in Pakistan, in March of 2003, the Central Intelligence Agency had detained him in undisclosed locations for more than two years; last fall, he was transferred to military custody in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. There were no named witnesses to his initial confession, and no solid information about what form of interrogation might have prodded him to talk, although reports had been published, in the Times and elsewhere, suggesting that C.I.A. officers had tortured him. At a hearing held at Guantánamo, Mohammed said that his testimony was freely given, but he also indicated that he had been abused by the C.I.A. (The Pentagon had classified as “top secret” a statement he had written detailing the alleged mistreatment.) And although Mohammed said that there were photographs confirming his guilt, U.S. authorities had found none. Instead, they had a copy of the video that had been released on the Internet, which showed the killer’s arms but offered no other clues to his identity.

Further confusing matters, a Pakistani named Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh had already been convicted of the abduction and murder, in 2002. A British-educated terrorist who had a history of staging kidnappings, he had been sentenced to death in Pakistan for the crime. But the Pakistani government, not known for its leniency, had stayed his execution. Indeed, hearings on the matter had been delayed a remarkable number of times—at least thirty—possibly because of his reported ties to the Pakistani intelligence service, which may have helped free him after he was imprisoned for terrorist activities in India. Mohammed’s confession would delay the execution further, since, under Pakistani law, any new evidence is grounds for appeal.

A surprising number of people close to the case are dubious of Mohammed’s confession. A longtime friend of Pearl’s, the former Journal reporter Asra Nomani, said, “The release of the confession came right in the midst of the U.S. Attorney scandal. There was a drumbeat for Gonzales’s resignation. It seemed like a calculated strategy to change the subject. Why now? They’d had the confession for years.” Mariane and Daniel Pearl were staying in Nomani’s Karachi house at the time of his murder, and Nomani has followed the case meticulously; this fall, she plans to teach a course on the topic at Georgetown University. She said, “I don’t think this confession resolves the case. You can’t have justice from one person’s confession, especially under such unusual circumstances. To me, it’s not convincing.” She added, “I called all the investigators. They weren’t just skeptical—they didn’t believe it.”

Special Agent Randall Bennett, the head of security for the U.S. consulate in Karachi when Pearl was killed—and whose lead role investigating the murder was featured in the recent film “A Mighty Heart”—said that he has interviewed all the convicted accomplices who are now in custody in Pakistan, and that none of them named Mohammed as playing a role. “K.S.M.’s name never came up,” he said. Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. officer, said, “My old colleagues say with one-hundred-per-cent certainty that it was not K.S.M. who killed Pearl.” A government official involved in the case said, “The fear is that K.S.M. is covering up for others, and that these people will be released.” And Judea Pearl, Daniel’s father, said, “Something is fishy. There are a lot of unanswered questions. K.S.M. can say he killed Jesus—he has nothing to lose.”

Mariane Pearl, who is relying on the Bush Administration to bring justice in her husband’s case, spoke carefully about the investigation. “You need a procedure that will get the truth,” she said. “An intelligence agency is not supposed to be above the law.”

Mohammed’s interrogation was part of a secret C.I.A. program, initiated after September 11th, in which terrorist suspects such as Mohammed were detained in “black sites”—secret prisons outside the United States—and subjected to unusually harsh treatment. The program was effectively suspended last fall, when President Bush announced that he was emptying the C.I.A.’s prisons and transferring the detainees to military custody in Guantánamo. This move followed a Supreme Court ruling, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which found that all detainees—including those held by the C.I.A.—had to be treated in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions. These treaties, adopted in 1949, bar cruel treatment, degradation, and torture. In late July, the White House issued an executive order promising that the C.I.A. would adjust its methods in order to meet the Geneva standards. At the same time, Bush’s order pointedly did not disavow the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that would likely be found illegal if used by officials inside the United States. The executive order means that the agency can once again hold foreign terror suspects indefinitely, and without charges, in black sites, without notifying their families or local authorities, or offering access to legal counsel.

The C.I.A.’s director, General Michael Hayden, has said that the program, which is designed to extract intelligence from suspects quickly, is an “irreplaceable” tool for combatting terrorism. And President Bush has said that “this program has given us information that has saved innocent lives, by helping us stop new attacks.” He claims that it has contributed to the disruption of at least ten serious Al Qaeda plots since September 11th, three of them inside the United States.

According to the Bush Administration, Mohammed divulged information of tremendous value during his detention. He is said to have helped point the way to the capture of Hambali, the Indonesian terrorist responsible for the 2002 bombings of night clubs in Bali. He also provided information on an Al Qaeda leader in England. Michael Sheehan, a former counterterrorism official at the State Department, said, “K.S.M. is the poster boy for using tough but legal tactics. He’s the reason these techniques exist. You can save lives with the kind of information he could give up.” Yet Mohammed’s confessions may also have muddled some key investigations. Perhaps under duress, he claimed involvement in thirty-one criminal plots—an improbable number, even for a high-level terrorist. Critics say that Mohammed’s case illustrates the cost of the C.I.A.’s desire for swift intelligence. Colonel Dwight Sullivan, the top defense lawyer at the Pentagon’s Office of Military Commissions, which is expected eventually to try Mohammed for war crimes, called his serial confessions “a textbook example of why we shouldn’t allow coercive methods.”

The Bush Administration has gone to great lengths to keep secret the treatment of the hundred or so “high-value detainees” whom the C.I.A. has confined, at one point or another, since September 11th. The program has been extraordinarily “compartmentalized,” in the nomenclature of the intelligence world. By design, there has been virtually no access for outsiders to the C.I.A.’s prisoners. The utter isolation of these detainees has been described as essential to America’s national security. The Justice Department argued this point explicitly last November, in the case of a Baltimore-area resident named Majid Khan, who was held for more than three years by the C.I.A. Khan, the government said, had to be prohibited from access to a lawyer specifically because he might describe the “alternative interrogation methods” that the agency had used when questioning him. These methods amounted to a state secret, the government argued, and disclosure of them could “reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage.” (The case has not yet been decided.)

Given this level of secrecy, the public and all but a few members of Congress who have been sworn to silence have had to take on faith President Bush’s assurances that the C.I.A.’s internment program has been humane and legal, and has yielded crucial intelligence. Representative Alcee Hastings, a Democratic member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said, “We talk to the authorities about these detainees, but, of course, they’re not going to come out and tell us that they beat the living daylights out of someone.” He recalled learning in 2003 that Mohammed had been captured. “It was good news,” he said. “So I tried to find out: Where is this guy? And how is he being treated?” For more than three years, Hastings said, “I could never pinpoint anything.” Finally, he received some classified briefings on the Mohammed interrogation. Hastings said that he “can’t go into details” about what he found out, but, speaking of Mohammed’s treatment, he said that even if it wasn’t torture, as the Administration claims, “it ain’t right, either. Something went wrong.”

Since the drafting of the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross has played a special role in safeguarding the rights of prisoners of war. For decades, governments have allowed officials from the organization to report on the treatment of detainees, to insure that standards set by international treaties are being maintained. The Red Cross, however, was unable to get access to the C.I.A.’s prisoners for five years. Finally, last year, Red Cross officials were allowed to interview fifteen detainees, after they had been transferred to Guantánamo. One of the prisoners was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. What the Red Cross learned has been kept from the public. The committee believes that its continued access to prisoners worldwide is contingent upon confidentiality, and therefore it addresses violations privately with the authorities directly responsible for prisoner treatment and detention. For this reason, Simon Schorno, a Red Cross spokesman in Washington, said, “The I.C.R.C. does not comment on its findings publicly. Its work is confidential.”

The public-affairs office at the C.I.A. and officials at the congressional intelligence-oversight committees would not even acknowledge the existence of the report. Among the few people who are believed to have seen it are Condoleezza Rice, now the Secretary of State; Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser; John Bellinger III, the Secretary of State’s legal adviser; Hayden; and John Rizzo, the agency’s acting general counsel. Some members of the Senate and House intelligence-oversight committees are also believed to have had limited access to the report.

Confidentiality may be particularly stringent in this case. Congressional and other Washington sources familiar with the report said that it harshly criticized the C.I.A.’s practices. One of the sources said that the Red Cross described the agency’s detention and interrogation methods as tantamount to torture, and declared that American officials responsible for the abusive treatment could have committed serious crimes. The source said the report warned that these officials may have committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions, and may have violated the U.S. Torture Act, which Congress passed in 1994. The conclusions of the Red Cross, which is known for its credibility and caution, could have potentially devastating legal ramifications.

Concern about the legality of the C.I.A.’s program reached a previously unreported breaking point last week when Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the intelligence committee, quietly put a “hold” on the confirmation of John Rizzo, who as acting general counsel was deeply involved in establishing the agency’s interrogation and detention policies. Wyden’s maneuver essentially stops the nomination from going forward. “I question if there’s been adequate legal oversight,” Wyden told me. He said that after studying a classified addendum to President Bush’s new executive order, which specifies permissible treatment of detainees, “I am not convinced that all of these techniques are either effective or legal. I don’t want to see well-intentioned C.I.A. officers breaking the law because of shaky legal guidance.”

A former C.I.A. officer, who supports the agency’s detention and interrogation policies, said he worried that, if the full story of the C.I.A. program ever surfaced, agency personnel could face criminal prosecution. Within the agency, he said, there is a “high level of anxiety about political retribution” for the interrogation program. If congressional hearings begin, he said, “several guys expect to be thrown under the bus.” He noted that a number of C.I.A. officers have taken out professional liability insurance, to help with potential legal fees.

Paul Gimigliano, a spokesman for the C.I.A., denied any legal impropriety, stressing that “the agency’s terrorist-detention program has been implemented lawfully. And torture is illegal under U.S. law. The people who have been part of this important effort are well-trained, seasoned professionals.” This spring, the Associated Press published an article quoting the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Silvestre Reyes, who said that Hayden, the C.I.A. director, “vehemently denied” the Red Cross’s conclusions. A U.S. official dismissed the Red Cross report as a mere compilation of allegations made by terrorists. And Robert Grenier, a former head of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, said that “the C.I.A.’s interrogations were nothing like Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo. They were very, very regimented. Very meticulous.” He said, “The program is very careful. It’s completely legal.”

Accurately or not, Bush Administration officials have described the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo as the unauthorized actions of ill-trained personnel, eleven of whom have been convicted of crimes. By contrast, the treatment of high-value detainees has been directly, and repeatedly, approved by President Bush. The program is monitored closely by C.I.A. lawyers, and supervised by the agency’s director and his subordinates at the Counterterrorism Center. While Mohammed was being held by the agency, detailed dossiers on the treatment of detainees were regularly available to the former C.I.A. director George Tenet, according to informed sources inside and outside the agency. Through a spokesperson, Tenet denied making day-to-day decisions about the treatment of individual detainees. But, according to a former agency official, “Every single plan is drawn up by interrogators, and then submitted for approval to the highest possible level—meaning the director of the C.I.A. Any change in the plan—even if an extra day of a certain treatment was added—was signed off by the C.I.A. director.”

On September 17, 2001, President Bush signed a secret Presidential finding authorizing the C.I.A. to create paramilitary teams to hunt, capture, detain, or kill designated terrorists almost anywhere in the world. Yet the C.I.A. had virtually no trained interrogators. A former C.I.A. officer involved in fighting terrorism said that, at first, the agency was crippled by its lack of expertise. “It began right away, in Afghanistan, on the fly,” he recalled. “They invented the program of interrogation with people who had no understanding of Al Qaeda or the Arab world.” The former officer said that the pressure from the White House, in particular from Vice-President Dick Cheney, was intense: “They were pushing us: ‘Get information! Do not let us get hit again!’ ” In the scramble, he said, he searched the C.I.A.’s archives, to see what interrogation techniques had worked in the past. He was particularly impressed with the Phoenix Program, from the Vietnam War. Critics, including military historians, have described it as a program of state-sanctioned torture and murder. A Pentagon-contract study found that, between 1970 and 1971, ninety-seven per cent of the Vietcong targeted by the Phoenix Program were of negligible importance. But, after September 11th, some C.I.A. officials viewed the program as a useful model. A. B. Krongard, who was the executive director of the C.I.A. from 2001 to 2004, said that the agency turned to “everyone we could, including our friends in Arab cultures,” for interrogation advice, among them those in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, all of which the State Department regularly criticizes for human-rights abuses.

The C.I.A. knew even less about running prisons than it did about hostile interrogations. Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of European operations at the C.I.A., and the author of a recent book, “On the Brink: How the White House Compromised U.S. Intelligence,” said, “The agency had no experience in detention. Never. But they insisted on arresting and detaining people in this program. It was a mistake, in my opinion. You can’t mix intelligence and police work. But the White House was really pushing. They wanted someone to do it. So the C.I.A. said, ‘We’ll try.’ George Tenet came out of politics, not intelligence. His whole modus operandi was to please the principal. We got stuck with all sorts of things. This is really the legacy of a director who never said no to anybody.”

Many officials inside the C.I.A. had misgivings. “A lot of us knew this would be a can of worms,” the former officer said. “We warned them, It’s going to become an atrocious mess.” The problem from the start, he said, was that no one had thought through what he called “the disposal plan.” He continued, “What are you going to do with these people? The utility of someone like K.S.M. is, at most, six months to a year. You exhaust them. Then what? It would have been better if we had executed them.”

The C.I.A. program’s first important detainee was Abu Zubaydah, a top Al Qaeda operative, who was captured by Pakistani forces in March of 2002. Lacking in-house specialists on interrogation, the agency hired a group of outside contractors, who implemented a regime of techniques that one well-informed former adviser to the American intelligence community described as “a ‘Clockwork Orange’ kind of approach.” The experts were retired military psychologists, and their backgrounds were in training Special Forces soldiers how to survive torture, should they ever be captured by enemy states. The program, known as SERE—an acronym for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape—was created at the end of the Korean War. It subjected trainees to simulated torture, including waterboarding (simulated drowning), sleep deprivation, isolation, exposure to temperature extremes, enclosure in tiny spaces, bombardment with agonizing sounds, and religious and sexual humiliation. The SERE program was designed strictly for defense against torture regimes, but the C.I.A.’s new team used its expertise to help interrogators inflict abuse. “They were very arrogant, and pro-torture,” a European official knowledgeable about the program said. “They sought to render the detainees vulnerable—to break down all of their senses. It takes a psychologist trained in this to understand these rupturing experiences.”

The use of psychologists was also considered a way for C.I.A. officials to skirt measures such as the Convention Against Torture. The former adviser to the intelligence community said, “Clearly, some senior people felt they needed a theory to justify what they were doing. You can’t just say, ‘We want to do what Egypt’s doing.’ When the lawyers asked what their basis was, they could say, ‘We have Ph.D.s who have these theories.’ ” He said that, inside the C.I.A., where a number of scientists work, there was strong internal opposition to the new techniques. “Behavioral scientists said, ‘Don’t even think about this!’ They thought officers could be prosecuted.”

Nevertheless, the SERE experts’ theories were apparently put into practice with Zubaydah’s interrogation. Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he was not only waterboarded, as has been previously reported; he was also kept for a prolonged period in a cage, known as a “dog box,” which was so small that he could not stand. According to an eyewitness, one psychologist advising on the treatment of Zubaydah, James Mitchell, argued that he needed to be reduced to a state of “learned helplessness.” (Mitchell disputes this characterization.)

Steve Kleinman, a reserve Air Force colonel and an experienced interrogator who has known Mitchell professionally for years, said that “learned helplessness was his whole paradigm.” Mitchell, he said, “draws a diagram showing what he says is the whole cycle. It starts with isolation. Then they eliminate the prisoners’ ability to forecast the future—when their next meal is, when they can go to the bathroom. It creates dread and dependency. It was the K.G.B. model. But the K.G.B. used it to get people who had turned against the state to confess falsely. The K.G.B. wasn’t after intelligence.”

As the C.I.A. captured and interrogated other Al Qaeda figures, it established a protocol of psychological coercion. The program tied together many strands of the agency’s secret history of Cold War-era experiments in behavioral science. (In June, the C.I.A. declassified long-held secret documents known as the Family Jewels, which shed light on C.I.A. drug experiments on rats and monkeys, and on the infamous case of Frank R. Olson, an agency employee who leaped to his death from a hotel window in 1953, nine days after he was unwittingly drugged with LSD.) The C.I.A.’s most useful research focussed on the surprisingly powerful effects of psychological manipulations, such as extreme sensory deprivation. According to Alfred McCoy, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, who has written a history of the C.I.A.’s experiments in coercing subjects, the agency learned that “if subjects are confined without light, odors, sound, or any fixed references of time and place, very deep breakdowns can be provoked.”

Agency scientists found that in just a few hours some subjects suspended in water tanks—or confined in isolated rooms wearing blacked-out goggles and earmuffs—regressed to semi-psychotic states. Moreover, McCoy said, detainees become so desperate for human interaction that “they bond with the interrogator like a father, or like a drowning man having a lifesaver thrown at him. If you deprive people of all their senses, they’ll turn to you like their daddy.” McCoy added that “after the Cold War we put away those tools. There was bipartisan reform. We backed away from those dark days. Then, under the pressure of the war on terror, they didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”

The C.I.A.’s interrogation program is remarkable for its mechanistic aura. “It’s one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever,” an outside expert familiar with the protocol said. “At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you’ve heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.”

The U.S. government first began tracking Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 1993, shortly after his nephew Ramzi Yousef blew a gaping hole in the World Trade Center. Mohammed, officials learned, had transferred money to Yousef. Mohammed, born in either 1964 or 1965, was raised in a religious Sunni Muslim family in Kuwait, where his family had migrated from the Baluchistan region of Pakistan. In the mid-eighties, he was trained as a mechanical engineer in the U.S., attending two colleges in North Carolina.

As a teen-ager, Mohammed had been drawn to militant, and increasingly violent, Muslim causes. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of sixteen, and, after his graduation from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro—where he was remembered as a class clown, but religious enough to forgo meat when eating at Burger King—he signed on with the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan, receiving military training and establishing ties with Islamist terrorists. By all accounts, his animus toward the U.S. was rooted in a hatred of Israel.

In 1994, Mohammed, who was impressed by Yousef’s notoriety after the first World Trade Center bombing, joined him in scheming to blow up twelve U.S. jumbo jets over two days. The so-called Bojinka plot was disrupted in 1995, when Philippine police broke into an apartment that Yousef and other terrorists were sharing in Manila, which was filled with bomb-making materials. At the time of the raid, Mohammed was working in Doha, Qatar, at a government job. The following year, he narrowly escaped capture by F.B.I. officers and slipped into the global jihadist network, where he eventually joined forces with Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan. Along the way, he married and had children.

Many journalistic accounts have presented Mohammed as a charismatic, swashbuckling figure: in the Philippines, he was said to have flown a helicopter close enough to a girlfriend’s office window so that she could see him; in Pakistan, he supposedly posed as an anonymous bystander and gave interviews to news reporters about his nephew’s arrest. Neither story is true. But Mohammed did seem to enjoy taunting authorities after the September 11th attacks, which, in his eventual confession, he claimed to have orchestrated “from A to Z.” In April, 2002, Mohammed arranged to be interviewed on Al Jazeera by its London bureau chief, Yosri Fouda, and took personal credit for the atrocities. “I am the head of the Al Qaeda military committee,” he said. “And yes, we did it.” Fouda, who conducted the interview at an Al Qaeda safe house in Karachi, said that he was astounded not only by Mohammed’s boasting but also by his seeming imperviousness to the danger of being caught. Mohammed permitted Al Jazeera to reveal that he was hiding out in the Karachi area. When Fouda left the apartment, Mohammed, apparently unarmed, walked him downstairs and out into the street.

In the early months of 2003, U.S. authorities reportedly paid a twenty-five-million-dollar reward for information that led to Mohammed’s arrest. U.S. officials closed in on him, at 4 A.M. on March 1st, waking him up in a borrowed apartment in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The officials hung back as Pakistani authorities handcuffed and hooded him, and took him to a safe house. Reportedly, for the first two days, Mohammed robotically recited Koranic verses and refused to divulge much more than his name. A videotape obtained by “60 Minutes” shows Mohammed at the end of this episode, complaining of a head cold; an American voice can be heard in the background. This was the last image of Mohammed to be seen by the public. By March 4th, he was in C.I.A. custody.

Captured along with Mohammed, according to some accounts, was a letter from bin Laden, which may have led officials to think that he knew where the Al Qaeda founder was hiding. If Mohammed did have this crucial information, it was time sensitive—bin Laden never stayed in one place for long—and officials needed to extract it quickly. At the time, many American intelligence officials still feared a “second wave” of Al Qaeda attacks, ratcheting the pressure further.

According to George Tenet’s recent memoir, “At the Center of the Storm,” Mohammed told his captors that he wouldn’t talk until he was given a lawyer in New York, where he assumed he would be taken. (He had been indicted there in connection with the Bojinka plot.) Tenet writes, “Had that happened, I am confident that we would have obtained none of the information he had in his head about imminent threats against the American people.” Opponents of the C.I.A.’s approach, however, note that Ramzi Yousef gave a voluminous confession after being read his Miranda rights. “These guys are egomaniacs,” a former federal prosecutor said. “They love to talk!”

A complete picture of Mohammed’s time in secret detention remains elusive. But a partial narrative has emerged through interviews with European and American sources in intelligence, government, and legal circles, as well as with former detainees who have been released from C.I.A. custody. People familiar with Mohammed’s allegations about his interrogation, and interrogations of other high-value detainees, describe the accounts as remarkably consistent.

Soon after Mohammed’s arrest, sources say, his American captors told him, “We’re not going to kill you. But we’re going to take you to the very brink of your death and back.” He was first taken to a secret U.S.-run prison in Afghanistan. According to a Human Rights Watch report released two years ago, there was a C.I.A.-affiliated black site in Afghanistan by 2002: an underground prison near Kabul International Airport. Distinctive for its absolute lack of light, it was referred to by detainees as the Dark Prison. Another detention facility was reportedly a former brick factory, just north of Kabul, known as the Salt Pit. The latter became infamous for the 2002 death of a detainee, reportedly from hypothermia, after prison officials stripped him naked and chained him to the floor of his concrete cell, in freezing temperatures.

In all likelihood, Mohammed was transported from Pakistan to one of the Afghan sites by a team of black-masked commandos attached to the C.I.A.’s paramilitary Special Activities Division. According to a report adopted in June by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, titled “Secret Detentions and Illegal Transfers of Detainees,” detainees were “taken to their cells by strong people who wore black outfits, masks that covered their whole faces, and dark visors over their eyes.” (Some personnel reportedly wore black clothes made from specially woven synthetic fabric that couldn’t be ripped or torn.) A former member of a C.I.A. transport team has described the “takeout” of prisoners as a carefully choreographed twenty-minute routine, during which a suspect was hog-tied, stripped naked, photographed, hooded, sedated with anal suppositories, placed in diapers, and transported by plane to a secret location.

A person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry, referring to cavity searches and the frequent use of suppositories during the takeout of detainees, likened the treatment to “sodomy.” He said, “It was used to absolutely strip the detainee of any dignity. It breaks down someone’s sense of impenetrability. The interrogation became a process not just of getting information but of utterly subordinating the detainee through humiliation.” The former C.I.A. officer confirmed that the agency frequently photographed the prisoners naked, “because it’s demoralizing.” The person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry said that photos were also part of the C.I.A.’s quality-control process. They were passed back to case officers for review.

A secret government document, dated December 10, 2002, detailing “SERE Interrogation Standard Operating Procedure,” outlines the advantages of stripping detainees. “In addition to degradation of the detainee, stripping can be used to demonstrate the omnipotence of the captor or to debilitate the detainee.” The document advises interrogators to “tear clothing from detainees by firmly pulling downward against buttoned buttons and seams. Tearing motions shall be downward to prevent pulling the detainee off balance.” The memo also advocates the “Shoulder Slap,” “Stomach Slap,” “Hooding,” “Manhandling,” “Walling,” and a variety of “Stress Positions,” including one called “Worship the Gods.”

In the process of being transported, C.I.A. detainees such as Mohammed were screened by medical experts, who checked their vital signs, took blood samples, and marked a chart with a diagram of a human body, noting scars, wounds, and other imperfections. As the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry put it, “It’s like when you hire a motor vehicle, circling where the scratches are on the rearview mirror. Each detainee was continually assessed, physically and psychologically.”

According to sources, Mohammed said that, while in C.I.A. custody, he was placed in his own cell, where he remained naked for several days. He was questioned by an unusual number of female handlers, perhaps as an additional humiliation. He has alleged that he was attached to a dog leash, and yanked in such a way that he was propelled into the walls of his cell. Sources say that he also claimed to have been suspended from the ceiling by his arms, his toes barely touching the ground. The pressure on his wrists evidently became exceedingly painful.

Ramzi Kassem, who teaches at Yale Law School, said that a Yemeni client of his, Sanad al-Kazimi, who is now in Guantánamo, alleged that he had received similar treatment in the Dark Prison, the facility near Kabul. Kazimi claimed to have been suspended by his arms for long periods, causing his legs to swell painfully. “It’s so traumatic, he can barely speak of it,” Kassem said. “He breaks down in tears.” Kazimi also claimed that, while hanging, he was beaten with electric cables.

According to sources familiar with interrogation techniques, the hanging position is designed, in part, to prevent detainees from being able to sleep. The former C.I.A. officer, who is knowledgeable about the interrogation program, explained that “sleep deprivation works. Your electrolyte balance changes. You lose all balance and ability to think rationally. Stuff comes out.” Sleep deprivation has been recognized as an effective form of coercion since the Middle Ages, when it was called tormentum insomniae. It was also recognized for decades in the United States as an illegal form of torture. An American Bar Association report, published in 1930, which was cited in a later U.S. Supreme Court decision, said, “It has been known since 1500 at least that deprivation of sleep is the most effective torture and certain to produce any confession desired.”

Under President Bush’s new executive order, C.I.A. detainees must receive the “basic necessities of life, including adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, necessary clothing, protection from extremes of heat and cold, and essential medical care.” Sleep, according to the order, is not among the basic necessities.

In addition to keeping a prisoner awake, the simple act of remaining upright can over time cause significant pain. McCoy, the historian, noted that “longtime standing” was a common K.G.B. interrogation technique. In his 2006 book, “A Question of Torture,” he writes that the Soviets found that making a victim stand for eighteen to twenty-four hours can produce “excruciating pain, as ankles double in size, skin becomes tense and intensely painful, blisters erupt oozing watery serum, heart rates soar, kidneys shut down, and delusions deepen.”

Mohammed is said to have described being chained naked to a metal ring in his cell wall for prolonged periods in a painful crouch. (Several other detainees who say that they were confined in the Dark Prison have described identical treatment.) He also claimed that he was kept alternately in suffocating heat and in a painfully cold room, where he was doused with ice water. The practice, which can cause hypothermia, violates the Geneva Conventions, and President Bush’s new executive order arguably bans it.

Some detainees held by the C.I.A. claimed that their cells were bombarded with deafening sound twenty-fours hours a day for weeks, and even months. One detainee, Binyam Mohamed, who is now in Guantánamo, told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that speakers blared music into his cell while he was handcuffed. Detainees recalled the sound as ranging from ghoulish laughter, “like the soundtrack from a horror film,” to ear-splitting rap anthems. Stafford Smith said that his client found the psychological torture more intolerable than the physical abuse that he said he had been previously subjected to in Morocco, where, he said, local intelligence agents had sliced him with a razor blade. “The C.I.A. worked people day and night for months,” Stafford Smith quoted Binyam Mohamed as saying. “Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and doors, screaming their heads off.”

Professor Kassem said his Yemeni client, Kazimi, had told him that, during his incarceration in the Dark Prison, he attempted suicide three times, by ramming his head into the walls. “He did it until he lost consciousness,” Kassem said. “Then they stitched him back up. So he did it again. The next time, he woke up, he was chained, and they’d given him tranquillizers. He asked to go to the bathroom, and then he did it again.” This last time, Kazimi was given more tranquillizers, and chained in a more confining manner.

The case of Khaled el-Masri, another detainee, has received wide attention. He is the German car salesman whom the C.I.A. captured in 2003 and dispatched to Afghanistan, based on erroneous intelligence; he was released in 2004, and Condoleezza Rice reportedly conceded the mistake to the German chancellor. Masri is considered one of the more credible sources on the black-site program, because Germany has confirmed that he has no connections to terrorism. He has also described inmates bashing their heads against the walls. Much of his account appeared on the front page of the Times. But, during a visit to America last fall, he became tearful as he recalled the plight of a Tanzanian in a neighboring cell. The man seemed “psychologically at the end,” he said. “I could hear him ramming his head against the wall in despair. I tried to calm him down. I asked the doctor, ‘Will you take care of this human being?’ ” But the doctor, whom Masri described as American, refused to help. Masri also said that he was told that guards had “locked the Tanzanian in a suitcase for long periods of time—a foul-smelling suitcase that made him vomit.” (Masri did not witness such abuse.)

Masri described his prison in Afghanistan as a filthy hole, with walls scribbled on in Pashtun and Arabic. He was given no bed, only a coarse blanket on the floor. At night, it was too cold to sleep. He said, “The water was putrid. If you took a sip, you could taste it for hours. You could smell a foul smell from it three metres away.” The Salt Pit, he said, “was managed and run by the Americans. It was not a secret. They introduced themselves as Americans.” He added, “When anything came up, they said they couldn’t make a decision. They said, ‘We will have to pass it on to Washington.’ ” The interrogation room at the Salt Pit, he said, was overseen by a half-dozen English-speaking masked men, who shoved him and shouted at him, saying, “You’re in a country where there’s no rule of law. You might be buried here.”

According to two former C.I.A. officers, an interrogator of Mohammed told them that the Pakistani was kept in a cell over which a sign was placed: “The Proud Murderer of 3,000 Americans.” (Another source calls this apocryphal.) One of these former officers defends the C.I.A.’s program by noting that “there was absolutely nothing done to K.S.M. that wasn’t done to the interrogators themselves”—a reference to SERE-like training. Yet the Red Cross report emphasizes that it was the simultaneous use of several techniques for extended periods that made the treatment “especially abusive.” Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has been a prominent critic of the Administration’s embrace of harsh interrogation techniques, said that, particularly with sensory deprivation, “there’s a point where it’s torture. You can put someone in a refrigerator and it’s torture. Everything is a matter of degree.”

One day, Mohammed was apparently transferred to a specially designated prison for high-value detainees in Poland. Such transfers were so secretive, according to the report by the Council of Europe, that the C.I.A. filed dummy flight plans, indicating that the planes were heading elsewhere. Once Polish air space was entered, the Polish aviation authority would secretly shepherd the flight, leaving no public documentation. The Council of Europe report notes that the Polish authorities would file a one-way flight plan out of the country, creating a false paper trail. (The Polish government has strongly denied that any black sites were established in the country.)

No more than a dozen high-value detainees were held at the Polish black site, and none have been released from government custody; accordingly, no first-hand accounts of conditions there have emerged. But, according to well-informed sources, it was a far more high-tech facility than the prisons in Afghanistan. The cells had hydraulic doors and air-conditioning. Multiple cameras in each cell provided video surveillance of the detainees. In some ways, the circumstances were better: the detainees were given bottled water. Without confirming the existence of any black sites, Robert Grenier, the former C.I.A. counterterrorism chief, said, “The agency’s techniques became less aggressive as they learned the art of interrogation,” which, he added, “is an art.”

Mohammed was kept in a prolonged state of sensory deprivation, during which every point of reference was erased. The Council on Europe’s report describes a four-month isolation regime as typical. The prisoners had no exposure to natural light, making it impossible for them to tell if it was night or day. They interacted only with masked, silent guards. (A detainee held at what was most likely an Eastern European black site, Mohammed al-Asad, told me that white noise was piped in constantly, although during electrical outages he could hear people crying.) According to a source familiar with the Red Cross report, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed that he was shackled and kept naked, except for a pair of goggles and earmuffs. (Some prisoners were kept naked for as long as forty days.) He had no idea where he was, although, at one point, he apparently glimpsed Polish writing on a water bottle.

In the C.I.A.’s program, meals were delivered sporadically, to insure that the prisoners remained temporally disoriented. The food was largely tasteless, and barely enough to live on. Mohammed, who upon his capture in Rawalpindi was photographed looking flabby and unkempt, was now described as being slim. Experts on the C.I.A. program say that the administering of food is part of its psychological arsenal. Sometimes portions were smaller than the day before, for no apparent reason. “It was all part of the conditioning,” the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry said. “It’s all calibrated to develop dependency.”

The inquiry source said that most of the Poland detainees were waterboarded, including Mohammed. According to the sources familiar with the Red Cross report, Mohammed claimed to have been waterboarded five times. Two former C.I.A. officers who are friends with one of Mohammed’s interrogators called this bravado, insisting that he was waterboarded only once. According to one of the officers, Mohammed needed only to be shown the drowning equipment again before he “broke.”

“Waterboarding works,” the former officer said. “Drowning is a baseline fear. So is falling. People dream about it. It’s human nature. Suffocation is a very scary thing. When you’re waterboarded, you’re inverted, so it exacerbates the fear. It’s not painful, but it scares the shit out of you.” (The former officer was waterboarded himself in a training course.) Mohammed, he claimed, “didn’t resist. He sang right away. He cracked real quick.” He said, “A lot of them want to talk. Their egos are unimaginable. K.S.M. was just a little doughboy. He couldn’t stand toe to toe and fight it out.”

The former officer said that the C.I.A. kept a doctor standing by during interrogations. He insisted that the method was safe and effective, but said that it could cause lasting psychic damage to the interrogators. During interrogations, the former agency official said, officers worked in teams, watching each other behind two-way mirrors. Even with this group support, the friend said, Mohammed’s interrogator “has horrible nightmares.” He went on, “When you cross over that line of darkness, it’s hard to come back. You lose your soul. You can do your best to justify it, but it’s well outside the norm. You can’t go to that dark a place without it changing you.” He said of his friend, “He’s a good guy. It really haunts him. You are inflicting something really evil and horrible on somebody.”

Among the few C.I.A. officials who knew the details of the detention and interrogation program, there was a tense debate about where to draw the line in terms of treatment. John Brennan, Tenet’s former chief of staff, said, “It all comes down to individual moral barometers.” Waterboarding, in particular, troubled many officials, from both a moral and a legal perspective. Until 2002, when Bush Administration lawyers asserted that waterboarding was a permissible interrogation technique for “enemy combatants,” it was classified as a form of torture, and treated as a serious criminal offense. American soldiers were court-martialled for waterboarding captives as recently as the Vietnam War.

A C.I.A. source said that Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding only after interrogators determined that he was hiding information from them. But Mohammed has apparently said that, even after he started coöperating, he was waterboarded. Footnotes to the 9/11 Commission report indicate that by April 17, 2003—a month and a half after he was captured—Mohammed had already started providing substantial information on Al Qaeda. Nonetheless, according to the person involved in the Council of Europe inquiry, he was kept in isolation for years. During this time, Mohammed supplied intelligence on the history of the September 11th plot, and on the structure and operations of Al Qaeda. He also described plots still in a preliminary phase of development, such as a plan to bomb targets on America’s West Coast.

Ultimately, however, Mohammed claimed responsibility for so many crimes that his testimony became to seem inherently dubious. In addition to confessing to the Pearl murder, he said that he had hatched plans to assassinate President Clinton, President Carter, and Pope John Paul II. Bruce Riedel, who was a C.I.A. analyst for twenty-nine years, and who now works at the Brookings Institution, said, “It’s difficult to give credence to any particular area of this large a charge sheet that he confessed to, considering the situation he found himself in. K.S.M. has no prospect of ever seeing freedom again, so his only gratification in life is to portray himself as the James Bond of jihadism.”

By 2004, there were growing calls within the C.I.A. to transfer to military custody the high-value detainees who had told interrogators what they knew, and to afford them some kind of due process. But Donald Rumsfeld, then the Defense Secretary, who had been heavily criticized for the abusive conditions at military prisons such as Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, refused to take on the agency’s detainees, a former top C.I.A. official said. “Rumsfeld’s attitude was, You’ve got a real problem.” Rumsfeld, the official said, “was the third most powerful person in the U.S. government, but he only looked out for the interests of his department—not the whole Administration.” (A spokesperson for Rumsfeld said that he had no comment.)

C.I.A. officials were stymied until the Supreme Court’s Hamdan ruling, which prompted the Administration to send what it said were its last high-value detainees to Cuba. Robert Grenier, like many people in the C.I.A., was relieved. “There has to be some sense of due process,” he said. “We can’t just make people disappear.” Still, he added, “The most important source of intelligence we had after 9/11 came from the interrogations of high-value detainees.” And he said that Mohammed was “the most valuable of the high-value detainees, because he had operational knowledge.” He went on, “I can respect people who oppose aggressive interrogations, but they should admit that their principles may be putting American lives at risk.”

Yet Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission and later the State Department’s top counsellor, under Rice, is not convinced that eliciting information from detainees justifies “physical torment.” After leaving the government last year, he gave a speech in Houston, in which he said, “The question would not be, Did you get information that proved useful? Instead it would be, Did you get information that could have been usefully gained only from these methods?” He concluded, “My own view is that the cool, carefully considered, methodical, prolonged, and repeated subjection of captives to physical torment, and the accompanying psychological terror, is immoral.”

Without more transparency, the value of the C.I.A.’s interrogation and detention program is impossible to evaluate. Setting aside the moral, ethical, and legal issues, even supporters, such as John Brennan, acknowledge that much of the information that coercion produces is unreliable. As he put it, “All these methods produced useful information, but there was also a lot that was bogus.” When pressed, one former top agency official estimated that “ninety per cent of the information was unreliable.” Cables carrying Mohammed’s interrogation transcripts back to Washington reportedly were prefaced with the warning that “the detainee has been known to withhold information or deliberately mislead.” Mohammed, like virtually all the top Al Qaeda prisoners held by the C.I.A., has claimed that, while under coercion, he lied to please his captors.

In theory, a military commission could sort out which parts of Mohammed’s confession are true and which are lies, and obtain a conviction. Colonel Morris D. Davis, the chief prosecutor at the Office of Military Commissions, said that he expects to bring charges against Mohammed “in a number of months.” He added, “I’d be shocked if the defense didn’t try to make K.S.M.’s treatment a problem for me, but I don’t think it will be insurmountable.”

Critics of the Administration fear that the unorthodox nature of the C.I.A.’s interrogation and detention program will make it impossible to prosecute the entire top echelon of Al Qaeda leaders in captivity. Already, according to the Wall Street Journal, credible allegations of torture have caused a Marine Corps prosecutor reluctantly to decline to bring charges against Mohamedou Ould Slahi, an alleged Al Qaeda leader held in Guantánamo. Bruce Riedel, the former C.I.A. analyst, asked, “What are you going to do with K.S.M. in the long run? It’s a very good question. I don’t think anyone has an answer. If you took him to any real American court, I think any judge would say there is no admissible evidence. It would be thrown out.”

The problems with Mohammed’s coerced confessions are especially glaring in the Daniel Pearl case. It may be that Mohammed killed Pearl, but contradictory evidence and opinion continue to surface. Yosri Fouda, the Al Jazeera reporter who interviewed Mohammed in Karachi, said that although Mohammed handed him a package of propaganda items, including an unedited video of the Pearl murder, he never identified himself as playing a role in the killing, which occurred in the same city just two months earlier. And a federal official involved in Mohammed’s case said, “He has no history of killing with his own hands, although he’s proved happy to commit mass murder from afar.” Al Qaeda’s leadership had increasingly focussed on symbolic political targets. “For him, it’s not personal,” the official said. “It’s business.”

Ordinarily, the U.S. legal system is known for resolving such mysteries with painstaking care. But the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program, Senator Levin said, has undermined the public’s trust in American justice, both here and abroad. “A guy as dangerous as K.S.M. is, and half the world wonders if they can believe him—is that what we want?” he asked. “Statements that can’t be believed, because people think they rely on torture?”

Asra Nomani, the Pearls’ friend, said of the Mohammed confession, “I’m not interested in unfair justice, even for bad people.” She went on, “Danny was such a person of conscience. I don’t think he would have wanted all of this dirty business. I don’t think he would have wanted someone being tortured. He would have been repulsed. This is the kind of story that Danny would have investigated. He really believed in American principles.”

Masters of Disaster: The Bush Gang Opens the Floodgates Again

August 9, 2007
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Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 09 August 2007

http://www.chris-floyd.com/Articles/Articles/Masters_of_Disaster%3A_The_Bush_Gang_Opens_the_Floodgates_Again/

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At first glance, the Washington Post story seems to be a rather routine piece about a turf war between state officials and the federal government over disaster planning. But upon closer examination, it turns out to be a doorway into the dark, fetid heart of the Bush Regime’s hell. As the Post’s Spencer Hsu reports:

A decision by the Bush administration to rewrite in secret the nation’s emergency response blueprint has angered state and local emergency officials, who worry that Washington is repeating a series of mistakes that contributed to its bungled response to Hurricane Katrina nearly two years ago.

State and local officials in charge of responding to disasters say that their input in shaping the National Response Plan was ignored in recent months by senior White House and Department of Homeland Security officials, despite calls by congressional investigators for a shared overhaul of disaster planning in the United States…

Federal officials…appear to be trying to create a legalistic document to shield themselves from responsibility for future disasters and to shift blame to states, [said Albert Ashwood, president of a national association of state emergency managers]. “It seems that the Katrina federal legacy is one of minimizing exposure for the next event and ensuring future focus is centered on state and local preparedness,” he said.


It’s just as disillusioned Bush appointee John DiIulio told us back in 2003 (before he was forced into a Stalinist-style recantation): There is no policy apparatus in the Bush Administration. There is no intent to actually govern the United States. There is only an authoritarian political machine dedicated to advancing its own agenda on behalf of a very narrow elite – and to covering its ass whenever the slightest inkling of its true nature gets out. “What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm,” DiIulio told Esquire’s Ron Suskind in the now-famous quote. “It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”

Of course, Professor DiIulio is, to put it bluntly, an educated fool, who honestly believed Bush’s pre-election talk of “compassionate conservatism,” who believed that the president was a man of “good heart,” full of “respect and decency toward others.” The learned Theban didn’t seem to realize that even Ted Bundy could appear warm and caring when it suited his purpose; it’s a trait shared by many psychopaths and sociopaths, and by countless leaders down through the centuries who tended their roses and enjoyed fine music and petted their children while ordering death, torture, ruin and repression on a monstrous scale.

This monstrous nature is on vivid display in the Post story on the disaster plan. As the piece clearly shows, the Bush Administration simply doesn’t care how many American citizens suffer and die – from natural disasters, from collapsing infrastructure, from lack of health care, from military aggression and the terrorism it engenders. The Bushists are willing to do whatever it takes to get their way – no matter what the cost in someone else’s blood and anguish.

The disaster plan double-dealing is of course just one more stream feeding the flood of moral corruption that’s drowning us. The waters seem to be rising faster than ever in recent weeks; to read the news every day is like taking blow after blow in the face — every hour a new outrage, or an old outrage refreshed and extended. The FISA debacle, the Justice Department scandals (political prosecutions, goon-squad raids on truth-tellers, etc.), the demented nuclear saber-rattling by Democratic candidates, the alarming spread of militant Christian extremism through the U.S. military under official auspices, the continuing war crime of air attacks on civilian centers in Iraq…and hanging over it all this week, the Dantean journey through the Bush Gulag in “The Black Sites,” Jane Meyer’s landmark New Yorker piece (well-limned here by Scott Horton, whom I drew heavily upon in the above listing.)

For those who have been following and chronicling the rise of the gulag since its inception (back in the days when its instigators and practitioners were still happy to brag to cheerleading newspapers about “taking the gloves off” and going to “the dark side”), there is not a lot that is new in Mayer’s piece. But she has brought it all together with devastating thoroughness and clarity.

Mayer mentions tellingly — but briefly — one key aspect of Bush’s torture chambers that has been largely overlooked: the key role played by a couple of psychologists in drawing up the sinister regimen (which was also based in part on KGB practices): CIA contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. Mark Benjamin of Salon has much more on this pair, who devoted their clinical skills to devising ways to destroy a captive’s mind — in the somewhat bizarre conviction that a destroyed mind can somehow produce useful intelligence. (Benjamin in turn drew on a 2005 piece by Mayer about Mitchell and the Bush Regime’s Mengelean use of medical personnel in interrogations.)

Mitchell and Jessen helped run the military’s SERE program, originally designed to teach American forces how to resist and survive torture inflicted on them by evil regimes or terrorists. But it turns out that the Rumsfeld Pentagon and its mad scientists were using U.S. soldiers as guinea pigs to help devise their own torture program. For years, the Pentagon flatly denied using SERE tactics on the captives in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, and in Afghanistan and Iraq. This was, of course, a lie. As Benjamin reports:

Until last month, the Army had denied any use of SERE training for prisoner interrogations. “We do not teach interrogation techniques,” Carol Darby, chief spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, said last June when Salon asked about a document that appeared to indicate that instructors from the SERE school taught their methods to interrogators at Guantánamo.

But the declassified DoD inspector general’s report described initiatives by high-level military officials to incorporate SERE concepts into interrogations. And it said that psychologists affiliated with SERE training — people like Mitchell and Jessen — played a critical role. According to the inspector general, the Army Special Operations Command’s Psychological Directorate at Fort Bragg first drafted a plan to have the military reverse-engineer SERE training in the summer of 2002. At the same time, the commander of Guantánamo determined that SERE tactics might be used on detainees at the military prison. Then in September 2002, the Army Special Operations Command and other SERE officials hosted a “SERE psychologist conference” at Fort Bragg to brief staff from the military’s prison at Guantánamo on the use of SERE tactics.


And Mayer notes:

The SERE program was designed strictly for defense against torture regimes, but the C.I.A.’s new team used its expertise to help interrogators inflict abuse. “They were very arrogant, and pro-torture,” a European official knowledgeable about the program said. “They sought to render the detainees vulnerable—to break down all of their senses. It takes a psychologist trained in this to understand these rupturing experiences.”

The use of psychologists was also considered a way for C.I.A. officials to skirt measures such as the Convention Against Torture. The former adviser to the intelligence community said, “Clearly, some senior people felt they needed a theory to justify what they were doing. You can’t just say, ‘We want to do what Egypt’s doing.’ When the lawyers asked what their basis was, they could say, ‘We have Ph.D.s who have these theories.’”


Like DiIulio, Mitchell and Jessen were not experts sought for their dispassionate advice in determining the best policy options for government officials. All the “experts” employed by the Bush Regime are just dupes (as in DiIulio’s case) or, as with the psychologists, willing stooges, brought in to act as window dressing for policies already decided upon. Bush and Cheney and their minions wanted to torture people — not only for the psychosexual kick these genuine perverts get from it but also because it was a central element in their drive to establish an authoritarian executive unfettered by any law. They could not, as a matter of “principle,” submit to the authority of the Geneva Conventions, American law or Constitutional precepts. They had plenty of scientists and practiced interrogators on hand to tell them that the KGB-SERE system was useless — indeed, counterproductive — in producing actionable intelligence. But they chose to listen only to those who told them what they wanted to hear, whose pseudo-science buttressed decisions they had already taken.

So of course the Bush Administration has shunned state and local emergency officials when drawing up a federal disaster plan. They are not interested in expert advice on the matter. They are not interested in the best policy options for protecting Americans from disaster and aiding them in the aftermath. As their response to Hurricane Katrina shows, they are only interested in milking a disaster for fat contracts to give to their cronies and exploiting it for political advantage. (In the case of New Orleans, this includes adopting policies to ensure that tens of thousands of the poorest refugees from the storm — almost all of them African-American — never return, making the city whiter, more suburban, more Republican.)

They don’t want to govern; they want to rule. They simply cannot be treated — on any issue whatsoever — as an ordinary government engaged in ordinary tussles over politics and policy. They are not a government in any traditional sense of the word. They are the criminal vanguard of a radical movement that is now holding the nation hostage. And any political “opposition” that does not recognize this fact is worse than useless; it is, as we’ve said before, complicit in the gang’s crimes.