— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for May, 2015

The New Cold War: A Tale of Continuity and Change???

As I wrote last year, the “Cold War is well and truly over, but a new kind of ideological contest is being waged between the West (the US and its allies) and today’s up-and-coming superpowers, Russia and China. This New Cold War once again appears to divide the world into two opposing camps. In one corner the US is furiously attempting to cling to its preeminent role in global affairs (it is only six years since Professor Michael Mandelbaum argued for America acting as the world’s government in his polemic The Case for Goliath). In the other, China is casually laying the groundwork for its coming greatness and Russia is securing its immediate neighborhood (or its “near abroad” if you will). The current crisis in the Ukraine is but the latest battleground in this contest, following Syria and Libya. The successful elimination of Muammar Gaddafi and his regime in Libya led directly to the as-yet inconclusive armed attempt to remove Bashar al-Assad from Damascus. This link between Libya’s “assisted rebellion” and Syria’s “staged insurrection” was made abundantly clear by means of the influx of Libyan arms and fighters into Assad’s homeland”.[1]  In fact, I had already written about a New Cold War as long ago as 2011, when I posited that the so-called “Arab Awakening” had laid the groundwork for a “the beginning of a New Cold War between the U.S. and Russia”.[2]  While last year, I reasoned that the “New Cold War between the West and Russia has now moved to Ukraine, where the US, operating behind-the-scenes, has successfully escalated a crisis, functioning as a veritable proxy-conflict, that seems to have been motivated by NATO’s desire to expand into Ukraine via the EU”.[3]

But now, the American-German freelance journalist, historian and economic researcher William Engdahl has published a piece that argues persuasively that the New Cold War is really nothing but the continuation of the Cold War of yesteryear. Engdahl relates how President Putin revealed as much during a recent television event. The main Russian national TV station, Rossiya 1 aired a documentary “on the events of the recent period including the annexation of Crimea”, featuring Putin himself, on 26 April. Engdahl explains as follows: in the documentary “Putin stated bluntly that in his view the West would only be content in having a Russia weak, suffering and begging from the West, something clearly the Russian character is not disposed to. Then a short way into his remarks, the Russian President stated for the first time publicly something that Russian intelligence has known for almost two decades but kept silent until now, most probably in hopes of an era of better normalized Russia-US relations. Putin stated that the terror in Chechnya and in the Russian Caucasus in the early 1990’s was actively backed by the CIA and western Intelligence services to deliberately weaken Russia. He noted that the Russian FSB foreign intelligence had documentation of the US covert role without giving details. What Putin, an intelligence professional of the highest order, only hinted at in his remarks, I have documented in detail from non-Russian sources. The report has enormous implications to reveal to the world the long-standing hidden agenda of influential circles in Washington to destroy Russia as a functioning sovereign state, an agenda which includes the neo-nazi coup d’etat in Ukraine and severe financial sanction warfare against Moscow”.[4]

Engdahl goes on quoting his own book Amerikas Heiliger Krieg (to be published in English shortly as The Lost Hegemon): “Not long after the CIA and Saudi Intelligence-financed Mujahideen had devastated Afghanistan at the end of the 1980’s, forcing the exit of the Soviet Army in 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself some months later, the CIA began to look at possible places in the collapsing Soviet Union where their trained “Afghan Arabs” could be redeployed to further destabilize Russian influence over the post-Soviet Eurasian space. They were called Afghan Arabs because they had been recruited from ultraconservative Wahhabite Sunni Muslims from Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and elsewhere in the Arab world where the ultra-strict Wahhabite Islam was practiced. They were brought to Afghanistan in the early 1980’s by a Saudi CIA recruit who had been sent to Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden. With the former Soviet Union in total chaos and disarray, George H.W. Bush’s Administration decided to “kick ‘em when they’re down,” a sad error. Washington redeployed their Afghan veteran terrorists to bring chaos and destabilize all of Central Asia, even into the Russian Federation itself, then in a deep and traumatic crisis during the economic collapse of the Yeltsin era. In the early 1990s, Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton, had surveyed the offshore oil potentials of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and the entire Caspian Sea Basin. They estimated the region to be “another Saudi Arabia” worth several trillion dollars on today’s market. The US and UK were determined to keep that oil bonanza from Russian control by all means. The first target of Washington was to stage a coup in Azerbaijan against elected president Abulfaz Elchibey to install a President more friendly to a US-controlled Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, “the world’s most political pipeline,” bringing Baku oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey and the Mediterranean”.[5]

Engdahl elaborates as follows: “From the mid-1990s, bin Laden paid Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab the handsome sum of several million dollars per month, a King’s fortune in economically desolate Chechnya in the 1990s, enabling them to sideline the moderate Chechen majority. US intelligence remained deeply involved in the Chechen conflict until the end of the 1990s. According to Yossef Bodansky, then Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in ‘yet another anti-Russian jihad, seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces’. Bodansky revealed the entire CIA Caucasus strategy in detail in his report, stating that US Government officials participated in, ‘a formal meeting in Azerbaijan in December 1999 in which specific programs for the training and equipping of Mujahideen from the Caucasus, Central/South Asia and the Arab world were discussed and agreed upon, culminating in Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US ‘private security companies’. . . to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing Jihad for a long time . . . Islamist Jihad in the Caucasus as a way to deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism’. The most intense phase of the Chechen wars wound down in 2000 only after heavy Russian military action defeated the Islamists. It was a pyrrhic victory, costing a massive toll in human life and destruction of entire cities. The exact death toll from the CIA-instigated Chechen conflict is unknown. Unofficial estimates ranged from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or missing, mostly civilians. Russian casualties were near 11,000 according to the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers”.[6]

Shamil Basayev “was a key part of the CIA’s Global Jihad. In 1992, he met Saudi terrorist Ibn al-Khattag in Azerbaijan. From Azerbaijan, Ibn al-Khattab brought Basayev to Afghanistan to meet al-Khattab’s ally, fellow-Saudi Osama bin Laden. Ibn al-Khattab’s role was to recruit Chechen Muslims willing to wage Jihad against Russian forces in Chechnya on behalf of the covert CIA strategy of destabilizing post-Soviet Russia and securing British-US control over Caspian energy. Once back in Chechnya, Basayev and al-Khattab created the International Islamic Brigade (IIB) with Saudi Intelligence money, approved by the CIA and coordinated through the liaison of Saudi Washington Ambassador and Bush family intimate Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Bandar, Saudi Washington Ambassador for more than two decades, was so intimate with the Bush family that George W. Bush referred to the playboy Saudi Ambassador as “Bandar Bush,” a kind of honorary family member. Basayev and al-Khattab imported fighters from the Saudi fanatical Wahhabite strain of Sunni Islam into Chechnya. Ibn al-Khattab commanded what were called the “Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya,” his own private army of Arabs, Turks, and other foreign fighters. He was also commissioned to set up paramilitary training camps in the Caucasus Mountains of Chechnya that trained Chechens and Muslims from the North Caucasian Russian republics and from Central Asia. The Saudi and CIA-financed Islamic International Brigade was responsible not only for terror in Chechnya. They carried out the October 2002 Moscow Dubrovka Theatre hostage seizure and the gruesome September 2004 Beslan school massacre. In 2010, the UN Security Council published the following report on al-Khattab and Basayev’s International Islamic Brigade: ‘Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was listed on 4 March 2003. . . as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” Al-Qaida. . . The Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was founded and led by Shamil Salmanovich Basayev (deceased) and is linked to the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM). . . and the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR). . . On the evening of 23 October 2002, members of IIB, RSRSBCM and SPIR operated jointly to seize over 800 hostages at Moscow’s Podshipnikov Zavod (Dubrovka) Theater. In October 1999, emissaries of Basayev and Al-Khattab traveled to Usama bin Laden’s home base in the Afghan province of Kandahar, where Bin Laden agreed to provide substantial military assistance and financial aid, including by making arrangements to send to Chechnya several hundred fighters to fight against Russian troops and perpetrate acts of terrorism. Later that year, Bin Laden sent substantial amounts of money to Basayev, Movsar Barayev (leader of SPIR) and Al-Khattab, which was to be used exclusively for training gunmen, recruiting mercenaries and buying ammunition'”.[7]  Next, Engdahl concludes in an acerbic fashion that the “Afghan-Caucasus Al Qaeda ‘terrorist railway’, financed by Saudi intelligence, had two goals. One was a Saudi goal to spread fanatical Wahhabite Jihad into the Central Asian region of the former Soviet Union. The second was the CIA’s agenda of destabilizing a then-collapsing post-Soviet Russian Federation”.[8]

As a post-script indicating that the Jihad in Afghanistan has long shadows that can still be seen today, I would now like to quote the Fast Company’s reporter Neal Ungerleider on “Chechnya’s Instagram Insurgency”. A few weeks ago, Ungerleider posited that the “continuing anti-Russian insurgency in Chechnya briefly returned to American newspapers after the Boston Marathon bombings, thanks to the Tsarnaev brothers’ roots in the Caucasian Mountain region, but it’s nothing new. Over the past decade, a rebellion against Russian rule has taken on an increasingly jihadist cast as local rebels such as the Caucasus Emirate forged alliances with international militant Islamist forces. Pictures of Chechnyan fighters and casualties have become an unexpected hot currency on Instagram’s jihadist underground, where Al-Qaeda and Taliban sympathizers eagerly swap pictures and propaganda. In fact, Anti-Russian jihadist rebels in Chechnya and neighboring regions, along with Islamist sympathizers worldwide, have increasingly turned to Instagram to disseminate propaganda and martyr photographs. A cursory search of the photo-sharing service’s #jihad tag found numerous graphics which appeared to be of Chechen or neighboring Dagestani origin; because Instagram does not normally share the national origin of users, it was impossible to confirm. However, captions to many photos found were written in Russian and other photos portrayed Chechen volunteers who died in the conflict in Syria. However, very few of these Chechnyan fighter pictures appear to be posted from Chechnya, judging from the extremely well-trafficked #chechnya hashtag and the Russian-language #Чечня́ hashtag, which are filled with innocuous food shots (Chechnyans apparently love sushi), self-portraits, landscapes, and the other usual Instagram fodder (albeit with more memorials to war victims and 19th century anti-Russian rebels than an American might expect to come across in their Instagram feed). Instead, Chechnyan rebel pictures are posted and traded like baseball cards among members of an underground jihadist subculture. Virtually no Instagram accounts exclusively feature Chechnyan rebel picture and propaganda; they are instead mixed-and-matched with content from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many other troubled lands”.[9]

[1] C. Erimtan, “The New Cold War redux and its Islamic dimension” Op-Edge (22 May 2014). http://rt.com/op-edge/160772-new-cold-war-islamic/.

[2] C. Erimtan, “The Arab Awakening and the never-ending Cold War” Hürriyet Daily News (22 June 2011). http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=the-arab-awakening-and-the-never-ending-cold-war-2011-06-22.

[3] C. Erimtan, “The New Cold War redux and its Islamic dimension”.

[4] William Engdahl, “What if Putin is Telling the Truth?” NEO (15 May 2015). http://journal-neo.org/2015/05/15/what-if-putin-is-telling-the-truth/.

[5] William Engdahl, “What if Putin is Telling the Truth?”.

[6] William Engdahl, “What if Putin is Telling the Truth?”.

[7] William Engdahl, “What if Putin is Telling the Truth?”.

[8] William Engdahl, “What if Putin is Telling the Truth?”.

[9] Neal Ungerleider, “Virtual Jihad: Chechnya’s Instagram Insurgency” The Fast Company (14 May 2015). http://www.fastcompany.com/3009705/virtual-jihad-chechnyas-instagram-insurgency.

The Other Bin Laden Story or the Hersh Factor

‘The story of the killing of Osama bin Laden broke four years ago. From the day – May 2nd, 2011 – that US President Barack Obama revealed the news, there have been varying accounts of exactly what happened, including a few cracks in the official narrative.However, most of the media have told Washington’s version of the story, as did Hollywood.But now that version of the story has been challenged by one of America’s best known investigative journalists, Seymour Hersh.He reported that it was not a case of the CIA tracing Bin Laden to that compound outside Abbottabad. According to Hersh, a Pakistani intelligence officer gave up Bin Laden, he did it for the reward money and the Pakistani government not only knew that the raid was coming but had, in fact, been keeping the al-Qaeda leader prisoner for nearly five years.Hersh’s journalism came under immediate attack and the most vociferous response did not come from the Obama administration or Congress, but the US press corps. We are going to examine why that is. Why, with a story that has been murky from the beginning, is there such a reluctance in the American media to even entertain the account of a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has broken some of the biggest scandals the US has seen in the last 50 years? What are Seymour Hersh’s critics defending? The government they report on? Their own journalism? Or is it a bit of both? Helping us answer these questions are: Cora Currier, a journalist from The Intercept; Patrick L. Smith, from Salon; Philip Ewing, from Politico; and the author Imtiaz Gul (25 May 2015)’ .

Seymour Hersh writes thusly: “It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? He was hiding in the open. So America said. The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders – General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI – were never informed of the US mission. This remains the White House position despite an array of reports that have raised questions, including one by Carlotta Gall in the New York Times Magazine of 19 March 2014. Gall, who spent 12 years as the Times correspondent in Afghanistan, wrote that she’d been told by a ‘Pakistani official’ that Pasha had known before the raid that bin Laden was in Abbottabad. The story was denied by US and Pakistani officials, and went no further. In his book Pakistan: Before and after Osama (2012), Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, wrote that he’d spoken to four undercover intelligence officers who – reflecting a widely held local view – asserted that the Pakistani military must have had knowledge of the operation. The issue was raised again in February, when a retired general, Asad Durrani, who was head of the ISI in the early 1990s, told an al-Jazeera interviewer that it was ‘quite possible’ that the senior officers of the ISI did not know where bin Laden had been hiding, ‘but it was more probable that they did [know]. And the idea was that, at the right time, his location would be revealed. And the right time would have been when you can get the necessary quid pro quo – if you have someone like Osama bin Laden, you are not going to simply hand him over to the United States.’ This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources: that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false”.[1]

Last November, RT reported that “[t]wo former US Navy SEALs that took part in the raid at Osama bin Laden’s compound three years ago have told opposing versions of who ultimately killed the Al-Qaeda founder. The dispute over events is now materializing as both seek the spotlight. As RT previously reported, former SEAL Team Six member Rob O’Neill – who was referred to only as “the shooter” in an Esquire magazine interview detailing the 2011 mission – went public this week as the person responsible for shooting Bin Laden three times in the forehead. Now Rob [O’Neill] is set to appear in a Fox News series scheduled to air later this month where he will again be presented as the primary shooter. In O’Neill’s version of events, as told to Esquire in 2013, the “point man” in the Abbottabad, Pakistan raid tackled two women as “the shooter” advanced, killing Bin Laden in another room. Yet his claims are disputed by another SEAL who came forward in 2012 with his own account of the raid. In ‘No Easy Day’, Mark Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym ‘Mark Owen’, said the first person to enter bin Laden’s room, the “point man,” was the SEAL to kill Bin Laden”.[2]

Now, who killed Bambi and how did all come about???  In the Columbia Journalism Review Trevor Timm writes that “Seymour Hersh has done the public a great service by breathing life into questions surrounding the official narrative of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Yet instead of trying to build off the details of his story, or to disprove his assertions with additional reporting, journalists have largely attempted to tear down the messenger. Barrels of ink have been spilled ripping apart Hersh’s character, while barely any follow-up reporting has been done to corroborate or refute his claims—even though there’s no doubt that the Obama administration has repeatedly misinformed and misled the public about the incident. Even less attention has been paid to the little follow-up reporting that we did get, which revealed that the CIA likely lied about its role in finding bin Laden, which it used to justify torture to the public”.[3]

[1] Seymour M. Hersh, “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” LRB (21 May 2015). http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n10/seymour-m-hersh/the-killing-of-osama-bin-laden.

[2] “Navy SEALs publicly clash over who killed bin Laden” RT (07 November 2014). http://rt.com/usa/203267-osama-seal-kill-dispute/.

[3] Trevor Timm, “The media’s reaction to Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden scoop has been disgraceful” CJR (15 May 2015). http://www.cjr.org/analysis/seymour_hersh_osama_bin_laden.php.

Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition

Ever since the term astroturfing started gaining prominence and the Tea Bag Movement making headway, the Koch Brothers also achieved a measure of notoriety . . . they became notorious as the people behind all the bad ideas, funding any and every kind of initiative bound to have a detrimental effect on the world we live in. Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films tried exposing the brothers for what they are: ‘Billionaires David and Charles Koch have been handed the ability to buy our democracy in the form of giant checks to the House, Senate, and soon, possibly even the Presidency . . . The last time we exposed the Koch Brothers’ dealings to the world we here at Brave New Films wound up in their crosshairs. They produced online ad campaigns attacking us, but, it takes more than a banner ad to slow us down. We’ve reissued Koch Brothers Exposed in an updated version, Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition, to shine a light on them. We’ve delved even deeper into where their money is going, who their money is hurting, and how much they are making during this whole process leading up to the 2014 Elections. Two years ago when we made this film very few people knew who the Koch Brothers were or what the Koch Brothers were doing. But now, we so strongly believe that everyone should know what is happening [and] that with your help and donations we are able to offer the film for free. We want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to see the truth’.

Palmyra Falls: IS FTW?!?!?

(20 May 2015)

From Beirut, Reuters’ Sylvia Westall and Tom Perry report that “Islamic State insurgents stormed the historic Syrian city of Palmyra on Wednesday [, 20 May], fighting off pro-government forces who withdrew after evacuating most of the civilian population, state television said. The capture of Palmyra is the first time the al Qaeda offshoot has taken control of a city directly from the Syrian army and allied forces, which have already lost ground in the northwest and south to other insurgent groups in recent weeks. The central city, also known as Tadmur, is built alongside the remains of a oasis civilisation whose colonnaded streets, temple and theatre have stood for 2,000 years. Islamic State has destroyed antiquities and ancient monuments in neighbouring Iraq and is being targeted by U.S.-led air strikes in both countries. Syria’s antiquities chief called on the world to save its ancient monuments and state television said Islamic State fighters were trying to enter the city’s historical sites”.[1]

Originally re-discovered in 1678, scholars usually describe Palmyra as a “caravan city” and the “brief seat of an empire” . . . “As the Romans expanded their frontiers during the 1st and early 2nd centuries AD to occupy the eastern Mediterranean shores, the Seleucid dynasty failed. Tadmor [the Arabic name for Palmyra] became stranded between the Latin realms to the west and those of the Parthians to the east. The oasis used this situation to its advantage, keeping the east–west trade routes open and taking the role of middleman between the two clashing superpowers. The influence of Rome grew, and the city they dubbed Palmyra (City of Palms) became a tributary of the empire and a buffer against rivals to the east. The Palmyrenes were permitted to retain considerable independence, profiting also from rerouted trade following the defeat of the Petra-based Nabataeans by Rome. The emperor Hadrian visited in AD 129 and declared Palmyra a ‘free city’, allowing it to set and collect its own taxes. In 212, under the emperor Caracalla (himself born of a Syrian mother), Palmyra became a Roman colony. In this way, its citizens obtained equal rights with those of Rome and exemption from paying imperial taxes. Further wealth followed and Palmyra spent lavishly, enlarging its great colonnaded avenue and building more and larger temple”.[2]  The expression “brief seat of an empire” primarily refers to the reign of Queen Zenobia, who succeeded her husband Odainat who had been Rome’s ‘Corrector of the East’. Zenobia declared independence from Rome in 267 AD. The Roman “[E]mperor [Gallienus, r. 253-68] dispatched an army to deal with the rebel queen. Zenobia met the Roman force in battle and defeated it. She then led her army against the garrison at Bosra, then the capital of the Province of Arabia, and successfully invaded Egypt. With all of Syria and Palestine and part of Egypt under her control, Zenobia declared her independence from Rome and had coins minted in Alexandria bearing her image and that of her son [Vabalathus], who assumed the title of Augustus, or emperor. Claiming to be descended from Cleopatra, Zenobia was, it seems, a woman of exceptional ability and ambition”.[3]  The rebel queen was eventually defeated and taken as a hostage to Rome by Emperor Aurelian (r. 270-5) in the year 271 AD.[4]

And now, in the 21st century the Caliph has captured Zenobia’s city in an effort to unseat Bashar al-Assad. Westall and Perry relate that the “attack [on Palmyra] is part of a westward advance by Islamic State that is adding to pressures on the overstretched military and allied militia. The group holds tracts of land in the north and east and is now edging towards the more heavily populated areas along its western flank. In the east, U.S. special forces carried out a ground assault on Saturday [, 16 May] against Islamic State and killed a militant believed to be in charge of the group’s financial operations . . . Islamic State supporters posted pictures on social media showing what they said were gunmen in the streets of Palmyra, which is the location of one of Syria’s biggest weapons depots as well as army bases, an airport and a major prison”.[5]

[1] Sylvia Westall and Tom Perry, “Islamic State seizes ancient Palmyra city from Syrian forces” Reuters (21 May 2015). http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/05/20/mideast-crisis-syria-northeast-idINKBN0O52AH20150520.

[2] “Palmyra History” Lonely Planet. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/syria/palmyra/history.

[3] “Palmyra History”.

[4] “Zenobia” Livius. http://www.livius.org/person/zenobia/.

[5] Sylvia Westall and Tom Perry, “Islamic State seizes ancient Palmyra city from Syrian forces”.

With All Due Respect: Michael Morrell

‘2015, May 13 — Mark Halperin and John Heilemann are joined by Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on “With All Due Respect” on Bloomberg Television’.

More Known Knowns: Bush Lied and Morell’s Book

And in another quasi-revelation, following my earlier post about the Defense Intelligence Agency’s newly published documents regarding the Obama administration’s knowledge of the background of the Benghazi attack, MSNBC has now told the American audience as well as the people all around the world that Bush, Jr. really lied when he spoke about Saddam’s WMD . . . as related by Mother Jones, “Michael Morell, a longtime CIA official who eventually became the agency’s deputy director and acting director. During the preinvasion period, he served as Bush’s intelligence briefer. Appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball on Tuesday night [19 May], Morell made it clear: The Bush-Cheney administration publicly misrepresented the intelligence related to Iraq’s supposed WMD program and Saddam’s alleged links to Al Qaeda”.[1]

In Mother Jones, David Corn explains that “[h]ost Chris Matthews asked Morell about a statement Cheney made in 2003: ‘We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons’. Here’s the conversation that followed: MATTHEWS: Was that true? MORELL: We were saying— MATTHEWS: Can you answer that question? Was that true? MORELL: That’s not true”.[2]  The conversation continued thus: “MATTHEWS: So you’re briefing the president on the reasons for war, they’re selling the war, using your stuff, saying you made that case when you didn’t. So they’re using your credibility to make the case for war dishonestly, as you just admitted. MORELL: Look, I’m just telling you— MATTHEWS: You just admitted it. MORELL: I’m just telling you what we said— MATTHEWS: They gave a false presentation of what you said to them. MORELL: On some aspects. On some aspects”.[3]  Corn then picks up the thread, declaring:  “And there’s more. Referring to the claims made by Bush, Cheney, and other administration officials that Saddam was in league with Al Qaeda, Morell noted, ‘What they were saying about the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda publicly was not what the intelligence community’ had concluded. He added, ‘I think they were trying to make a stronger case for the war’. That is, stronger than the truth would allow. Morell’s remarks support the basic charge: Bush and Cheney were not misled by flawed intelligence; they used the flawed intelligence to mislead”.[4]

Other than that, Morell also just wrote a book that he is trying to sell . . .

(11 May 2015)

[1] David Corn, “George W. Bush’s CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public” Mother Jones (19 May 2015). http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/michael-morell-bush-cheney-iraq-war.

[2] David Corn, “George W. Bush’s CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public”.

[3] David Corn, “George W. Bush’s CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public”.

[4] David Corn, “George W. Bush’s CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public”.

From Benghazi to Damascus: Hitherto Unknown Knowns

The somewhat unlikely news source that is Fox News reported the other day that the conservative, non-partisan educational foundation Judicial Watch, Inc. has obtained hitherto secret documents that reveal quite a few things. On their dedicated website, the organization reveals that it “obtained more than 100 pages of previously classified ‘Secret’ documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of State revealing that DOD almost immediately reported that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was committed by the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-linked ‘Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman’ (BCOAR), and had been planned at least 10 days in advance. Rahman is known as the Blind Sheikh, and is serving life in prison for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other terrorist acts. The new documents also provide the first official confirmation that shows the U.S. government was aware of arms shipments from Benghazi to Syria.  The documents also include an August 2012 analysis warning of the rise of ISIS and the predicted failure of the Obama policy of regime change in Syria. The documents were released in response to a court order in accordance with a May 15, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against both the DOD and State Department seeking communications between the two agencies and congressional leaders ‘on matters related to the activities of any agency or department of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or classified annex in Benghazi’.”.[1]

(18 May 2015)

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton came out triumphantly screaming that “[t]hese documents are jaw-dropping. No wonder we had to file more FOIA lawsuits and wait over two years for them. If the American people had known the truth – that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other top administration officials knew that the Benghazi attack was an al-Qaeda terrorist attack from the get-go – and yet lied and covered this fact up – Mitt Romney might very well be president. And why would the Obama administration continue to support the Muslim Brotherhood even after it knew it was tied to the Benghazi terrorist attack and to al Qaeda? These documents also point to connection between the collapse in Libya and the ISIS war – and confirm that the U.S. knew remarkable details about the transfer of arms from Benghazi to Syrian jihadists”.[2]

[1] “Judicial Watch: Defense, State Department Documents Reveal Obama Administration Knew that al Qaeda Terrorists Had Planned Benghazi Attack 10 Days in Advance” Judicial Watch (18 May 2015). https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-defense-state-department-documents-reveal-obama-administration-knew-that-al-qaeda-terrorists-had-planned-benghazi-attack-10-days-in-advance/.

[2] “Judicial Watch: Defense, State Department Documents Reveal Obama Administration Knew that al Qaeda Terrorists Had Planned Benghazi Attack 10 Days in Advance“.

Alex Winter On The Deep Web, Silk Road and the Dread Pirate Roberts

‘Alex Winter rose to prominence in the 1980s, starring in hit films like Lost Boys and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He later turned to writing, producing and directing, and has since directed Downloaded, the acclaimed documentary about the rise and fall of Napster, as well as his most recent effort, Deep Web, the Untold Story of Bitcoin and the Silk Road. In this interview, Winter and The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur discuss:

– The origins of the Deep Web and Darknet as a haven for government agents, dissidents, activists and artists

– The parallels between the rise and fall of Napster and Silk Road

– How the Silk Road became the eBay of virtual drug sales

– The mix of libertarian absolutists, anti-drug warriors and high tech mercenaries who drove the Deep Web’s growth

– How manipulation by corrupt cops and DEA agents could have brought down the Silk Road

– The government’s “weird” case claiming accused Silk Road administrator Matt Ulbricht is the notorious “Dread Pirate Roberts”

– Are government investigators technologically incompetent or just lying to us?

– Cenk’s decisive guilty or not guilty vote in Ross Ulbricht’s criminal case (14 May 2015)’.

Last February, Nicky Woolf from New York writes in the Guardian that “Ross Ulbricht faces up to life in prison after being found guilty of ‘aiding and abetting the distribution of drugs over the internet’ and other charges”.[1]  And in an attempt to present a somewhat fair picture of the case, Woolf adds that “Ulbricht had conceded that he created Silk Road, which his defence team had said was intended as a ‘freewheeling, free-market site’ where all but a few harmful items could be sold. They argued that the ‘economic experiment’ became too stressful for him, so he handed it to others before being lured back. Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht’s lawyer, had tried to raise questions in jurors’ minds about whether someone else had been operating Silk Road, such as [Mark Karpelès, the founder of bitcoin exchange Mt Gox], who was never charged and has denied involvement. Although a federal agent told jurors he had been investigating Karpelès, the judge, Katherine Forrest, struck out much of that testimony as improper. Ulbricht faces up to life in prison and a minimum term of 20 years. His sentencing was scheduled for 15 May, although his defence team signalled he would appeal”.[2]  But Alex Winter, who describes himself as “Filmmaker, actor, dad, etc. Made these (among other things): @DeepWebMovie @DownloadedDoc” on his twitter-page, in his movie seems to spin quite another tale.[3]

[1] Nicky Woolf, “Silk Road’s ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ convicted of running online drug marketplace” The Guardian (05 Feb 2015). http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/04/silk-road-ross-ulbricht-convicted-drug-charges.

[2] Nicky Woolf, “Silk Road’s ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ convicted”.

[3] “Alex Winter” Twitter. https://twitter.com/alxwinter.

CrossTalk: The Yemen Proxy?

‘Yemen’s agony is without end. While the Saudi-led and American-backed military assault continues unabated, it remains unclear what Riyadh and Washington are really fighting for. Though one thing appears undeniable – Yemen is joining the ranks of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, and Somalia as places where warlords rule in conditions of anarchy. CrossTalking with Gareth Porter, Ross Harrison, and Massoumeh Torfeh (13 May 2015)’.

NATO Summit in Antalya: From the Ukraine to the Islamic State

On the verge of another electoral victory for the ruling AKP, its wily PM and divisive Prez, Turkey now hosts a two-day NATO summit on the Med (13-14 May 2015): “Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO would examine all possibilities against the “Islamic State” (IS) terror militia. The ministers have gathered in Antalya to plot strategy amid the continued civil war in Ukraine and instability throughout the Middle East, including in Syria and Iraq – countries that border Turkey – where IS controls broad swaths of territory”, as reported by a mixed bag of news agencies — Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP.[1]  The report continues that “[a]n international coalition has launched airstrikes against IS since August. US Secretary of State John Kerry said his NATO counterparts wanted to see a clearer defense agreement with Gulf Arab states to fight terror ahead of a summit that President Barack Obama will host at Camp David on Thursday [, 14 May] . . . Kerry also brought news of Tuesday’s lengthy talks with President Vladimir Putin, his first visit to Russia in over two years – since well before the start of fighting in Ukraine. He called for the full implementation of the Minsk Protocol, an agreement reached in February [2015] in the capital of Belarus by the parties to Ukraine’s civil war, to finally put an end to the conflict”.[2]

Good man Kerry told gathered reporters in Antalya that “We call on Russia to stop supporting the separatists and to withdraw all its forces from eastern Ukraine . . . I think that there is strong agreement among all the NATO members that this is a critical moment for action by Russia, by the separatists to live up to the Minsk agreement. This is an enormous moment of opportunity for the conflict there to find a path to certainty and resolution”. In addition to talking to the press, ‘The US secretary of state also met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin – who is [also] attending the talks though his country is not a NATO member – and the Turkish premier, former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’.[3]  But the gathered ministers also dealt with other geographic regions, such as Afghanistan and Georgia.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu, for his part, told the press that “Turkey is the only country which neighbors areas under Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq . . . This is not sustainable, and a big threat to Turkey. The summit will be an opportunity to share these views”.[4]  While, speaking in very Brzezinski-like terms, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute said that there is an “arc of instability” surrounding NATO territories in the east and south . . . that the “maybe failed state of Libya” acts as a funnel for illegal immigration from states such as northern Nigeria, Mali, Niger and Somalia, and literally saying that “You’ve got, to the east, to the southeast and to the south, pretty fundamental security challenges for NATO”.[5]

Meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Resolute Support Operational Partner Nations and Potential Operational Partner Nations. Foreign Ministers Meeting, Antalya, Turkey – 13 MAY 2015.

[1] “NATO foreign ministers in Turkey talk ‘Islamic State'” Deutsche Welle (13 May 2015). http://www.dw.de/nato-foreign-ministers-in-turkey-talk-islamic-state/a-18447462.

[2] “NATO foreign ministers in Turkey talk ‘Islamic State'”.

[3] “NATO foreign ministers in Turkey talk ‘Islamic State'”.

[4] “Focus on Islamic State and Libya as NATO foreign ministers meet” Reuters (12 May 2015). http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/12/us-nato-ministers-idUSKBN0NX1SW20150512.

[5] “Focus on Islamic State and Libya as NATO foreign ministers meet”.