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Crimeans Keep Saying No to Ukraine

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | March 22, 2015

A central piece of the West’s false narrative on the Ukraine crisis has been that Russian President Vladimir Putin “invaded” Crimea and then staged a “sham” referendum purporting to show 96 percent support for leaving Ukraine and rejoining Russia. More recently, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland claimed that Putin has subjected Crimea to a “reign of terror.”

Both elements have been part of the “group think” that dominates U.S. political and media circles, but this propagandistic storyline simply isn’t true, especially the part about the Crimeans being subjugated by Russia.

Consistently, over the past year, polls conducted by major Western firms have revealed that the people of Crimea by overwhelming numbers prefer being part of Russia over Ukraine, an embarrassing reality that Forbes business magazine has now acknowledged.

An article by Kenneth Rapoza, a Forbes specialist on developing markets, cited these polls as showing that the Crimeans do not want the United States and the European Union to force them back into an unhappy marriage with Ukraine. “The Crimeans are happy right where they are” with Russia, Rapoza wrote.

“One year after the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea, poll after poll shows that the locals there — be they Ukrainians, ethnic Russians or Tartars are all in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine,” he wrote, adding that “the bulk of humanity living on the Black Sea peninsula believe the referendum to secede from Ukraine was legit.”

Rapoza noted that a June 2014 Gallup poll, which was sponsored by the U.S. government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors, found that 82.8 percent of Crimeans said the March 16 referendum on secession reflected the views of the Crimean people. In the poll, when asked if joining Russia would improve their lives, 73.9 percent said yes and only 5.5 percent said no.

A February 2015 poll by German polling firm GfK found similar results. When Crimeans were asked “do you endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea,” 93 percent gave a positive response, with 82 percent saying, “yes, definitely.” Only 2 percent said no, with the remainder unsure or not answering.

In other words, the West’s insistence that Russia must return Crimea to Ukraine would mean violating the age-old U.S. principle of a people’s right of self-determination. It would force the largely ethnic Russian population of Crimea to submit to a Ukrainian government that many Crimeans view as illegitimate, the result of a violent U.S.-backed coup on Feb. 22, 2014, that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

The coup touched off a brutal civil war in which the right-wing regime in Kiev dispatched neo-Nazi and other extremist militias to spearhead a fierce “anti-terrorism operation” against resistance from the ethnic Russian population in the east, which – like Crimea – had supported Yanukovych. More than 6,000 Ukrainians, most of them ethnic Russians, have been killed in the fighting.

Despite this reality, the mainstream U.S. news media has misreported the crisis and distorted the facts to conform to U.S. State Department propaganda. Thus, many Americans believe the false narrative about Russian troops crushing the popular will of the Crimean people, much as the U.S. public was misled about the Iraq situation in 2002-03 by many of the same news outlets.

Or, as Forbes’ Rapoza put it: “At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule. Unless we are all to believe that the locals polled by Gallup and GfK were done so with FSB bogey men standing by with guns in their hands.” (The FSB is a Russian intelligence agency.)

The GfK survey also found that Crimeans considered the Ukrainian media, which has been wildly anti-Russian, unreliable. Only 1 percent said the Ukrainian media “provides entirely truthful information” and only 4 percent said it was “more often truthful than deceitful.”

So, the people at the frontline of this conflict, where Assistant Secretary Nuland, detected a “reign of terror,” say they are not only satisfied with being restored to Russia, which controlled Crimea since the 1700s, but don’t trust the distorted version of events that they see on Ukrainian TV.

Practical Reasons

Some of the reasons for the Crimean attitudes are simply pragmatic. Russian pensions were three times larger than what the Ukrainian government paid – and now the Ukrainian pensions are being slashed further in compliance with austerity demands from the International Monetary Fund.

This month, Nuland boasted about those pension cuts in praising the Kiev regime’s steps toward becoming a “free-market state.” She also hailed “reforms” that will force Ukrainians to work harder and into old age and that slashed gas subsidies which had helped the poor pay their heating bills.

Last year, the New York Times and other U.S. news outlets also tossed around the word “invasion” quite promiscuously in discussing Crimea. But you may recall that you saw no images of Russian tanks crashing into the Crimean peninsula or an amphibious landing or paratroops descending from the skies. The reason was simple: Russian troops were already in Crimea.

The Russians had a lease agreement with Ukraine permitting up to 25,000 military personnel in Crimea to protect the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. About 16,000 Russian troops were on the ground when the Feb. 22, 2014 putsch occurred in Kiev – and after a crisis meeting at the Kremlin, they were dispatched to prevent the coup regime from imposing its control on Crimea’s people.

That Russian intervention set the stage for the March 16 referendum in which the voters of Crimea turned out in large numbers and voted overwhelmingly for secession from Ukraine and reintegration with Russia, a move that the Russian parliament and President Putin then approved.

Yet, as another part of its false reporting, the New York Times claimed that Putin denied that Russian troops had operated inside Crimea – when, in fact, he was quite open about it. For instance, on March 4, 2014, almost two weeks before the referendum, Putin discussed at a Moscow press conference the role of Russian troops in preventing the violence from spreading from Kiev to Crimea. Putin said:

“You should note that, thank God, not a single gunshot has been fired there. … Thus the tension in Crimea that was linked to the possibility of using our Armed Forces simply died down and there was no need to use them. The only thing we had to do, and we did it, was to enhance the defense of our military facilities because they were constantly receiving threats and we were aware of the armed nationalists moving in. We did this, it was the right thing to do and very timely.”

Two days after the referendum, which recorded the 96 percent vote in favor of seceding from Ukraine and rejoining Russia, Putin returned to the issue of Russian involvement in Crimea. In a formal speech to the Russian Federation, Putin justified Crimea’s desire to escape the grasp of the coup regime in Kiev, saying:

“Those who opposed the [Feb. 22] coup were immediately threatened with repression. Naturally, the first in line here was Crimea, the Russian-speaking Crimea. In view of this, the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol turned to Russia for help in defending their rights and lives, in preventing the events that were unfolding and are still underway in Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkov and other Ukrainian cities.

“Naturally, we could not leave this plea unheeded; we could not abandon Crimea and its residents in distress. This would have been betrayal on our part.”

But to make it appear that Putin was denying a military intervention, the Times and other U.S. news outlets truncated Putin’s statement when he said, “Russia’s Armed Forces never entered Crimea.” The Western press stopped there, ignoring what he said next: “they were there already in line with an international agreement.”

Putin’s point was that Russian troops based in Crimea took actions that diffused a possibly violent situation and gave the people of Crimea a chance to express their wishes through the ballot. But that version of events didn’t fit with the desired narrative pushed by the U.S. State Department and the New York Times. So the problem was solved by misrepresenting what Putin said.

But the larger issue now is whether the Obama administration and the European Union will insist on forcing the Crimean people – against their will – to rejoin Ukraine, a country that is rapidly sliding into the status of a failed state and a remarkably cruel one at that.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

March 22, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eight Great Reads at the Journal of 9/11 Studies

By Kevin Ryan | Dig Within | March 22, 2015

Journalof911StudiesThis summer will mark the ninth anniversary of the Journal of 9/11 Studies. In that time, my co-editors and I have published over 150 peer-reviewed articles and letters addressing various aspects of the 9/11 crimes. Although it’s been hard, thankless work at times, the job of co-editor has also been rewarding and I’ve learned a great deal.

Through publishing articles in mainstream journals, I’ve learned that our peer-review process is at least as rigorous as that of others. At our Journal, submissions often fail to pass the editor’s initial assessment and are never reviewed. Of those remaining, dozens have failed to make it through the peer-review process to become published. It’s definitely a disappointment when that happens but it’s important that whatever we publish lives up to certain standards. The end result is a treasure-trove of reliable research, freely available on the web.

For example, here are six articles and two letters that should be widely read.

Intersecting Facts and Theories on 9/11, by Joseph P. Firmage

This short article was published in August 2006. It presents a comparison of competing theories for what happened on 9/11 with respect to known facts. The comparison clearly shows that the “create a new reality” theory, in which U.S. officials were involved in the attacks, is by far more sensible than other possibilities.

118 Witnesses: The Firefighter’s Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers, by Graeme MacQueen

This highly influential article focuses on eyewitness testimonies to the World Trade Center (WTC) destruction. The testimonies were collected by New York City officials after 9/11 and then kept secret for nearly four years. Professor MacQueen delves into these explosive eyewitness accounts in a way that makes clear why officials did not want the public to see them.

Extremely high temperatures during the World Trade Center destruction, by Steven E. Jones, et.al

This lucid article from January 2008 was a breakthrough in 9/11 research. Establishing the WTC thermite theory on a firm grounding of experimental evidence, it set the stage for a series of scientific articles that were published in multiple journals. In the future, this breakthrough article may be seen as one of the greatest contributions to forensic science.

Obstacles to Persuasion: Lessons from the Classroom, by Mark Vorobej

This article from December 2008 is from a professor of philosophy who examined the responses of university students as they were exposed to alternative explanations for 9/11. In a five-week segment of his course on Argumentation Theory, Professor Vorobej was able to lead his students to objectively examine 9/11 from different perspectives while fostering further, constructive debate.

Falsifiability and the NIST WTC Report: A Study in Theoretical Adequacy, by Anonymous and F. Legge

In March 2010, we published this examination of the scientific principle of falsifiability in light of U.S. government reports on the WTC destruction. This often-overlooked article is well constructed and provides detail on why the official reports failed to meet some of the most critical requirements of the scientific method.

Letter on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, by Lorie Van Auken

A series of nine letters was published on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The letters came from leading researchers, activists, and legal experts around the world. Perhaps the most compelling contribution was that of Lorie Van Auken, whose husband Kenneth was killed in the north tower on 9/11.

Letter to the Royal Society from Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, from the Board of Directors, AE911Truth

In June 2012, we published a letter that was sent from the board of directors of AE911Truth to Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society in England. The letter emphasized how the official account for what happened at the WTC was in direct contradiction to the laws of motion described by one of the Royal Society’s most famous members—Sir Isaac Newton.

The “Strategy of Tension” in the Cold War Period, by Daniele Ganser

In May 2014, Swiss historian Daniele Ganser contributed this updated version of a previously published article. Dr. Ganser’s article provides important historical perspective for considering what happened on 9/11. His conclusion, based on historical fact, is that objections to U.S. government or military involvement in 9/11 are based on unsupportable, a priori arguments.

These eight papers are just a sampling of the wide-range of peer-reviewed research and commentary available at the Journal of 9/11 Studies. If you want to learn more about that fateful day through an evidence-based approach, the Journal is a great resource. For anyone interested in contributing, we continue to seek out new perspectives that have not yet been expressed. Guidelines for submission are published at the website.

March 22, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Egyptian detainees complain of torture

Mada Masr | March 22, 2015

The Freedom to the Brave group published on Saturday a leaked letter from detainees in the Abu Zaabal Prison in which they complain they were subjected to torture and beating over the past few days.

“All the political prisoners were tortured and the cells were raided by masked central security forces which created panic,” the letter read. “We were attacked with batons and dogs, which led to several injuries and others passed out due to tear gas.”

Fifteen detainees were reportedly taken from their cells and tortured for three hours in front of the others. They were stripped of their clothes and forced to utter profanities, the detainees claimed.

The letter was written by detainees who were arrested on the fourth anniversary of the January 25 revolution for staging protests.

According to Ali Halabi, an activist who has been following the case of the January 25 detainees, it all began when prison forces attacked Ahmed Gamal Zeyada, a journalist, and other detainees tried to protect him.

“After that the cells were raided by masked forces with dogs and they destroyed the property of detainees as well as torturing them,” he told Mada Masr.

The detainees were then kept in the disciplinary room in their underwear for four days.

Reports of torture weren’t limited to Abu Zaabal Prison, but similar cases in Borg al-Arab Prison were reported as well. According to families of detainees, attacks go well beyond verbal assaults, which even the families are subjected to.

“The detainees and even their families are treated badly during visiting hours,” Mostafa al-Attar, brother of detainee Karim al-Attar told Mada Masr. “As soon as we arrive at the prison, security forces start treating us like sheep, ordering us to move from one place to another using profanities.”

Attar said that the detainees are held in confined spaces and are subjected to searches every few days, when their blankets may be burned and possessions destroyed.

“We know they are subjected to much more than that,” Attar said. “They don’t tell us, but they always look broken and they often cry suddenly.”

Kamal Abbas, member of the National Council for Human Rights, told Mada Masr that the council has received numerous reports from different prisons, especially Abu Zaabal and the appeals prisons. Such information includes forcing detainees to stand for hours.

The National Council for Human Rights issued a report last week saying that the Interior Ministry is hindering their visits to prisons, adding that it is prepared to join the prosecution in Shaimaa al-Sabbagh’s case.

“The Interior Ministry has been deliberately obstructing our visit to the prisons for over four months,” Abbas said, “and it denies any reports of torture.”

The council is required to obtain approval for visits from the general prosecution, and the Interior Ministry is required to arrange the visits.

However, Abbas says these rules are ineffective. “Is it realistic for the Ministry of Interior to facilitate a visit for us to ascertain whether or not it is torturing detainees?” he asked.

Abbas explained that the council has long called on previous and current governments to abide by the constitution, which stipulates that visits are by notification and not authorization.

The council’s last visit, Abbas said, was to the January 25’s fourth anniversary detainees. He confirms they had been subjected to torture and beating when they arrived at the prison.

Mada Masr contacted media and human rights officials at the Interior Ministry for comment to no avail.

March 22, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

The Golden Age of Black Ops

Special Ops Missions Already in 105 Countries in 2015

By Nick Turse | TomDispatch | January 20, 2015

In the dead of night, they swept in aboard V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Landing in a remote region of one of the most volatile countries on the planet, they raided a village and soon found themselves in a life-or-death firefight. It was the second time in two weeks that elite U.S. Navy SEALs had attempted to rescue American photojournalist Luke Somers. And it was the second time they failed.

On December 6, 2014, approximately 36 of America’s top commandos, heavily armed, operating with intelligence from satellites, drones, and high-tech eavesdropping, outfitted with night vision goggles, and backed up by elite Yemeni troops, went toe-to-toe with about six militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. When it was over, Somers was dead, along with Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher due to be set free the next day. Eight civilians were also killed by the commandos, according to local reports. Most of the militants escaped.

That blood-soaked episode was, depending on your vantage point, an ignominious end to a year that saw U.S. Special Operations forces deployed at near record levels, or an inauspicious beginning to a new year already on track to reach similar heights, if not exceed them.

During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed to 133 countries — roughly 70% of the nations on the planet — according to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bockholt, a public affairs officer with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). This capped a three-year span in which the country’s most elite forces were active in more than 150 different countries around the world, conducting missions ranging from kill/capture night raids to training exercises.  And this year could be a record-breaker. Only a day before the failed raid that ended Luke Somers life — just 66 days into fiscal 2015 — America’s most elite troops had already set foot in 105 nations, approximately 80% of 2014’s total.

Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans. Unlike the December debacle in Yemen, the vast majority of special ops missions remain completely in the shadows, hidden from external oversight or press scrutiny. In fact, aside from modest amounts of information disclosed through highly-selective coverage by military media, official White House leaks, SEALs with something to sell, and a few cherry-picked journalists reporting on cherry-picked opportunities, much of what America’s special operators do is never subjected to meaningful examination, which only increases the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences.

The Golden Age

“The command is at its absolute zenith. And it is indeed a golden age for special operations.” Those were the words of Army General Joseph Votel III, a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, as he assumed command of SOCOM last August.

His rhetoric may have been high-flown, but it wasn’t hyperbole. Since September 11, 2001, U.S. Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way, including their numbers, their budget, their clout in Washington, and their place in the country’s popular imagination. The command has, for example, more than doubled its personnel from about 33,000 in 2001 to nearly 70,000 today, including a jump of roughly 8,000 during the three-year tenure of recently retired SOCOM chief Admiral William McRaven.

Those numbers, impressive as they are, don’t give a full sense of the nature of the expansion and growing global reach of America’s most elite forces in these years. For that, a rundown of the acronym-ridden structure of the ever-expanding Special Operations Command is in order. The list may be mind-numbing, but there is no other way to fully grasp its scope.

The lion’s share of SOCOM’s troops are Rangers, Green Berets, and other soldiers from the Army, followed by Air Force air commandos, SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen and support personnel from the Navy, as well as a smaller contingent of Marines. But you only get a sense of the expansiveness of the command when you consider the full range of “sub-unified commands” that these special ops troops are divided among: the self-explanatory SOCAFRICA; SOCEUR, the European contingent; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC, which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; SOCSOUTH, which conducts missions in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean; SOCCENT, the sub-unified command of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Middle East; SOCNORTH, which is devoted to “homeland defense”; and the globe-trotting Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC — a clandestine sub-command (formerly headed by McRaven and then Votel) made up of personnel from each service branch, including SEALs, Air Force special tactics airmen, and the Army’s Delta Force, that specializes in tracking and killing suspected terrorists.

And don’t think that’s the end of it, either. As a result of McRaven’s push to create “a Global SOF network of like-minded interagency allies and partners,” Special Operations liaison officers, or SOLOs, are now embedded in 14 key U.S. embassies to assist in advising the special forces of various allied nations.  Already operating in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Poland, Peru, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, the SOLO program is poised, according to Votel, to expand to 40 countries by 2019. The command, and especially JSOC, has also forged close ties with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency, among others.

Shadow Ops

Special Operations Command’s global reach extends further still, with smaller, more agile elements operating in the shadows from bases in the United States to remote parts of Southeast Asia, from Middle Eastern outposts to austere African camps. Since 2002, SOCOM has also been authorized to create its own Joint Task Forces, a prerogative normally limited to larger combatant commands like CENTCOM. Take, for instance, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) which, at its peak, had roughly 600 U.S. personnel supporting counterterrorist operations by Filipino allies against insurgent groups like Abu Sayyaf.  After more than a decade spent battling that group, its numbers have been diminished, but it continues to be active, while violence in the region remains virtually unaltered.

A phase-out of the task force was actually announced in June 2014.  “JSOTF-P will deactivate and the named operation OEF-P [Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines] will conclude in Fiscal Year 2015,” Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee the next month. “A smaller number of U.S. military personnel operating as part of a PACOM [U.S. Pacific Command] Augmentation Team will continue to improve the abilities of the PSF [Philippine Special Forces] to conduct their CT [counterterrorism] missions…”  Months later, however, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines remained up and running. “JSOTF-P is still active although the number of personnel assigned has been reduced,” Army spokesperson Kari McEwen told reporter Joseph Trevithick of War Is Boring.

Another unit, Special Operations Joint Task Force-Bragg, remained in the shadows for years before its first official mention by the Pentagon in early 2014.  Its role, according to SOCOM’s Bockholt, is to “train and equip U.S. service members preparing for deployment to Afghanistan to support Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan.”  That latter force, in turn, spent more than a decade conducting covert or “black” ops “to prevent insurgent activities from threatening the authority and sovereignty of” the Afghan government. This meant night raids and kill/capture missions — often in concert with elite Afghan forces — that led to the deaths of unknown numbers of combatants and civilians. In response to popular outrage against the raids, Afghan President Hamid Karzai largely banned them in 2013.

U.S. Special Operations forces were to move into a support role in 2014, letting elite Afghan troops take charge. “We’re trying to let them run the show,” Colonel Patrick Roberson of the Afghanistan task force told USA Today. But according to LaDonna Davis, a spokesperson with the task force, America’s special operators were still leading missions last year. The force refuses to say how many missions were led by Americans or even how many operations its commandos were involved in, though Afghan special operations forces reportedly carried out as many as 150 missions each month in 2014. “I will not be able to discuss the specific number of operations that have taken place,” Major Loren Bymer of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan told TomDispatch. “However, Afghans currently lead 96% of special operations and we continue to train, advise, and assist our partners to ensure their success.”

And lest you think that that’s where the special forces organizational chart ends, Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan has five Special Operations Advisory Groups “focused on mentoring and advising our ASSF [Afghan Special Security Force] partners,” according to Votel. “In order to ensure our ASSF partners continue to take the fight to our enemies, U.S. SOF must be able to continue to do some advising at the tactical level post-2014 with select units in select locations,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Indeed, last November, Karzai’s successor Ashraf Ghani quietly lifted the night raid ban, opening the door once again to missions with U.S. advisors in 2015.

There will, however, be fewer U.S. special ops troops available for tactical missions.  According to then Rear-, now Vice-Admiral Sean Pybus, SOCOM’s Deputy Commander, about half the SEAL platoons deployed in Afghanistan were, by the end of last month, to be withdrawn and redeployed to support “the pivot in Asia, or work the Mediterranean, or the Gulf of Guinea, or into the Persian Gulf.”  Still, Colonel Christopher Riga, commander of the 7th Special Forces Group, whose troops served with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan near Kandahar last year, vowed to soldier on. “There’s a lot of fighting that is still going on in Afghanistan that is going to continue,” he said at an awards ceremony late last year.  “We’re still going to continue to kill the enemy, until we are told to leave.”

Add to those task forces the Special Operations Command Forward (SOC FWD) elements, small teams which, according to the military, “shape and coordinate special operations forces security cooperation and engagement in support of theater special operations command, geographic combatant command, and country team goals and objectives.” SOCOM declined to confirm the existence of SOC FWDs, even though there has been ample official evidence on the subject and so it would not provide a count of how many teams are currently deployed across the world.  But those that are known are clustered in favored black ops stomping grounds, including SOC FWD Pakistan, SOC FWD Yemen, and SOC FWD Lebanon, as well as SOC FWD East Africa, SOC FWD Central Africa, and SOC FWD West Africa.

Africa has, in fact, become a prime locale for shadowy covert missions by America’s special operators. “This particular unit has done impressive things. Whether it’s across Europe or Africa taking on a variety of contingencies, you are all contributing in a very significant way,” SOCOM’s commander, General Votel, told members of the 352nd Special Operations Group at their base in England last fall.

The Air Commandos are hardly alone in their exploits on that continent. Over the last years, for example, SEALs carried out a successful hostage rescue mission in Somalia and a kidnap raid there that went awry.  In Libya, Delta Force commandos successfully captured an al-Qaeda militant in an early morning raid, while SEALs commandeered an oil tanker with cargo from Libya that the weak U.S.-backed government there considered stolen. Additionally, SEALs conducted a failed evacuation mission in South Sudan in which its members were wounded when the aircraft in which they were flying was hit by small arms fire. Meanwhile, an elite quick-response force known as Naval Special Warfare Unit 10 (NSWU-10) has been engaged with “strategic countries” such as Uganda, Somalia, and Nigeria.

A clandestine Special Ops training effort in Libya imploded when militia or “terrorist” forces twice raided its camp, guarded by the Libyan military, and looted large quantities of high-tech American equipment, hundreds of weapons — including Glock pistols, and M4 rifles — as well as night vision devices and specialized lasers that can only be seen with such equipment. As a result, the mission was scuttled and the camp was abandoned. It was then reportedly taken over by a militia.

In February of last year, elite troops traveled to Niger for three weeks of military drills as part of Flintlock 2014, an annual Special Ops counterterrorism exercise that brought together the forces of the host nation, Canada, Chad, France, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Senegal, the United Kingdom, and Burkina Faso.  Several months later, an officer from Burkina Faso, who received counterterrorism training in the U.S. under the auspices of SOCOM’s Joint Special Operations University in 2012, seized power in a coup.  Special Ops forces, however, remained undaunted. Late last year, for example, under the auspices of SOC FWD West Africa, members of 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, partnered with elite Moroccan troops for training at a base outside of Marrakech.

A World of Opportunities

Deployments to African nations have, however, been just a part of the rapid growth of the Special Operations Command’s overseas reach.  In the waning days of the Bush presidency, under then-SOCOM chief Admiral Eric Olson, Special Operations forces were reportedly deployed in about 60 countries around the world. By 2010, that number had swelled to 75, according to Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post.  In 2011, SOCOM spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told TomDispatch that the total would reach 120 by the end of the year. With Admiral William McRaven in charge in 2013, then-Major Robert Bockholt told TomDispatch that the number had jumped to 134. Under the command of McRaven and Votel in 2014, according to Bockholt, the total slipped ever-so-slightly to 133. Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel noted, however, that under McRaven’s command — which lasted from August 2011 to August 2014 — special ops forces deployed to more than 150 different countries.  “In fact, SOCOM and the entire U.S. military are more engaged internationally than ever before — in more places and with a wider variety of missions,” he said in an August 2014 speech.

He wasn’t kidding.  Just over two months into fiscal 2015, the number of countries with Special Ops deployments has already clocked in at 105, according to Bockholt.

SOCOM refused to comment on the nature of its missions or the benefits of operating in so many nations. The command would not even name a single country where U.S. special operations forces deployed in the last three years.  A glance at just some of the operations, exercises, and activities that have come to light, however, paints a picture of a globetrotting command in constant churn with alliances in every corner of the planet.

In January and February, for example, members of the 7th Special Forces Group and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment conducted a month-long Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) with forces from Trinidad and Tobago, while troops from the 353rd Special Operations Group joined members of the Royal Thai Air Force for Exercise Teak Torch in Udon Thani, Thailand. In February and March, Green Berets from the 20th Special Forces Group trained with elite troops in the Dominican Republic as part of a JCET.

In March, members of Marine Special Operations Command and Naval Special Warfare Unit 1 took part in maneuvers aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens as part of Multi-Sail 2014, an annual exercise designed to support “security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.” That same month, elite soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines took part in a training exercise code-named Fused Response with members of the Belizean military. “Exercises like this build rapport and bonds between U.S. forces and Belize,” said Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Heber Toro of Special Operations Command South afterward.

In April, soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group joined with Honduran airborne troops for jump training — parachuting over that country’s Soto Cano Air Base.  Soldiers from that same unit, serving with the Afghanistan task force, also carried out shadowy ops in the southern part of that country in the spring of 2014.  In June, members of the 19th Special Forces Group carried out a JCET in Albania, while operators from Delta Force took part in the mission that secured the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.  That same month, Delta Force commandos helped kidnap Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspected “ringleader” in the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, while Green Berets deployed to Iraq as advisors in the fight against the Islamic State.

In June and July, 26 members of the 522nd Special Operations Squadron carried out a 28,000-mile, four-week, five-continent mission which took them to Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Japan, among other nations, to escort three “single-engine [Air Force Special Operations Command] aircraft to a destination in the Pacific Area of Responsibility.” In July, U.S. Special Operations forces traveled to Tolemaida, Colombia, to compete against elite troops from 16 other nations — in events like sniper stalking, shooting, and an obstacle course race — at the annual Fuerzas Comando competition.

In August, soldiers from the 20th Special Forces Group conducted a JCET with elite units from Suriname.  “We’ve made a lot of progress together in a month. If we ever have to operate together in the future, we know we’ve made partners and friends we can depend upon,” said a senior noncommissioned officer from that unit.  In Iraq that month, Green Berets conducted a reconnaissance mission on Mount Sinjar as part an effort to protect ethnic Yazidis from Islamic State militants, while Delta Force commandos raided an oil refinery in northern Syria in a bid to save American journalist James Foley and other hostages held by the same group.  That mission was a bust and Foley was brutally executed shortly thereafter.

In September, about 1,200 U.S. special operators and support personnel joined with elite troops from the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Finland, Great Britain, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Slovenia for Jackal Stone, a training exercise that focused on everything from close quarters combat and sniper tactics to small boat operations and hostage rescue missions. In September and October, Rangers from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment deployed to South Korea to practice small unit tactics like clearing trenches and knocking out bunkers. During October, Air Force air commandos also conducted simulated hostage rescue missions at the Stanford Training Area near Thetford, England.  Meanwhile, in international waters south of Cyprus, Navy SEALs commandeered that tanker full of oil loaded at a rebel-held port in Libya.  In November, U.S. commandos conducted a raid in Yemen that freed eight foreign hostages.  The next month, SEALs carried out the blood-soaked mission that left two hostages, including Luke Somers, and eight civilians dead. And these, of course, are only some of the missions that managed to make it into the news or in some other way onto the record.

Everywhere They Want to Be

To America’s black ops chiefs, the globe is as unstable as it is interconnected. “I guarantee you what happens in Latin America affects what happens in West Africa, which affects what happens in Southern Europe, which affects what happens in Southwest Asia,” McRaven told last year’s Geolnt, an annual gathering of surveillance-industry executives and military personnel.  Their solution to interlocked instability? More missions in more nations — in more than three-quarters of the world’s countries, in fact — during McRaven’s tenure. And the stage appears set for yet more of the same in the years ahead. “We want to be everywhere,” said Votel at Geolnt.  His forces are already well on their way in 2015.

“Our nation has very high expectations of SOF,” he told special operators in England last fall. “They look to us to do the very hard missions in very difficult conditions.”  The nature and whereabouts of most of those “hard missions,” however, remain unknown to Americans. And Votel apparently isn’t interested in shedding light on them.  “Sorry, but no,” was SOCOM’s response to TomDispatch’s request for an interview with the special ops chief about current and future operations. In fact, the command refused to make any personnel available for a discussion of what it’s doing in America’s name and with taxpayer dollars.  It’s not hard to guess why.

Votel now sits atop one of the major success stories of a post-9/11 military that has been mired in winless wars, intervention blowback, rampant criminal activity, repeated leaks of embarrassing secrets, and all manner of shocking scandals. Through a deft combination of bravado and secrecy, well-placed leaks, adroit marketing and public relations efforts, the skillful cultivation of a superman mystique (with a dollop of tortured fragility on the side), and one extremely popular, high-profile, targeted killing, Special Operations forces have become the darlings of American popular culture, while the command has been a consistent winner in Washington’s bare-knuckled budget battles.

This is particularly striking given what’s actually occurred in the field: in Africa, the arming and outfitting of militants and the training of a coup leader; in Iraq, America’s most elite forces were implicated in torture, the destruction of homes, and the killing and wounding of innocents;  in Afghanistan, it was a similar story, with repeated reports of civilian deaths; while in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia it’s been more of the same.  And this only scratches the surface of special ops miscues.

In 2001, before U.S. black ops forces began their massive, multi-front clandestine war against terrorism, there were 33,000 members of Special Operations Command and about 1,800 members of the elite of the elite, the Joint Special Operations Command. There were then also 23 terrorist groups — from Hamas to the Real Irish Republican Army — as recognized by the State Department, including al-Qaeda, whose membership was estimated at anywhere from 200 to 1,000. That group was primarily based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although small cells had operated in numerous countries including Germany and the United States.

After more than a decade of secret wars, massive surveillance, untold numbers of night raids, detentions, and assassinations, not to mention billions upon billions of dollars spent, the results speak for themselves. SOCOM has more than doubled in size and the secretive JSOC may be almost as large as SOCOM was in 2001. Since September of that year, 36 new terror groups have sprung up, including multiple al-Qaeda franchises, offshoots, and allies. Today, these groups still operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan — there are now 11 recognized al-Qaeda affiliates in the latter nation, five in the former — as well as in Mali and Tunisia, Libya and Morocco, Nigeria and Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen, among other countries. One offshoot was born of the American invasion of Iraq, was nurtured in a U.S. prison camp, and, now known as the Islamic State, controls a wide swath of that country and neighboring Syria, a proto-caliphate in the heart of the Middle East that was only the stuff of jihadi dreams back in 2001.  That group, alone, has an estimated strength of around 30,000 and managed to take over a huge swath of territory, including Iraq’s second largest city, despite being relentlessly targeted in its infancy by JSOC.

“We need to continue to synchronize the deployment of SOF throughout the globe,” says Votel. “We all need to be synched up, coordinated, and prepared throughout the command.” Left out of sync are the American people who have consistently been kept in the dark about what America’s special operators are doing and where they’re doing it, not to mention the checkered results of, and blowback from, what they’ve done. But if history is any guide, the black ops blackout will help ensure that this continues to be a “golden age” for U.S. Special Operations Command.

Copyright 2015 Nick Turse

March 22, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ukraine oligarchs ‘top cash contributors’ to Clinton Foundation prior to Kiev crisis

RT | March 22, 2015

From 2009 up to 2013, the year the Ukrainian crisis erupted, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is headquartered in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, a new report claims.

That places Ukraine as the leading contributor among foreign donators to the Clinton Foundation.

In 2008, Viktor Pinchuk, who made a fortune in the pipe-building business, pledged a five-year, $29-million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a program that works to train future Ukrainian leaders “to modernize Ukraine.” The Wall Street Journal revealed the donations the fund received from foreigners abroad between 2009-2014 in their report published earlier this week .

Several alumni of the program have already graduated into the ranks of Ukraine’s parliament, while a former Clinton pollster went to work as a lobbyist for Pinchuk at the same time Clinton was working in government.

The Pinchuk foundation said its donations to the Clinton-family organization were designed to make Ukraine “a successful, free, modern country based on European values.” It went on to remark that if Pinchuk was hoping to lobby the US State Department about Ukraine, “this cannot be seen as anything but a good thing,” WSJ quoted it as saying.

However, critics have pointed to some disturbing aspects regarding the donations, including the coincidence of the Ukrainian crisis, which began in November 2013, and the heavy amount of cash donations being made to the Clinton Foundation on behalf of wealthy Ukrainian businessmen. In any case, given that Hillary Clinton appears to be considering a possible run in the next presidential elections, more scrutiny will be devoted to her past work with the charity that bears the Clinton name.

First, as already mentioned, Clinton was serving as the US secretary of state at the time that the donations to her family’s charity were being made. Although it is true that the Clinton Foundation refused donations directly from foreign governments while Clinton was serving in the Obama administration, the door remained wide open to donations from public citizens like Pinchuk, who has advocated on behalf of stronger ties between Ukraine and the European Union.

Political connections in the Pinchuk family run deep. Not only did Viktor Pinchuk serve two terms as a Ukrainian parliamentarian, but his wife is the daughter of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

After being introduced to former US President Bill Clinton by Doug Schoen, a political analyst and pollster who has worked for both Clintons, Pinchuk and his wife began making donations to Clinton-family charities, WSJ reported.

During Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Department, Schoen began work as a congressional lobbyist for the Ukrainian oligarch. Schoen defended his lobbying activities, saying there was no connection to Pinchuk’s hefty donations.

“We were not seeking to use any leverage or any connections or anything of the sort relating to the foundation,” he said.

Schoen said he and Viktor Pinchuk met on several occasions with Clinton aides including Melanne Verveer, a Ukrainian-American who holds membership in the influential Council on Foreign Relations, as well as the Trilateral Commission.

The purpose of these meetings, according to Schoen, was to encourage the US government to pressure Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovich to release his jailed predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Whatever the case may be, Ukraine entered a period of severe crisis on November 21, 2013, when Yanukovich suspended plans for the implementation of an association agreement with the European Union. The announcement triggered mass protests that led to Yanukovich fleeing Kiev on February 22, 2014.

Social unrest eventually consumed the country, as the eastern part of the country attempted to gain more independence from Kiev. Recently, both sides have agreed to a tense ceasefire, hammered out last month in Minsk, Belarus by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany.

Read more: Putin in film on Crimea: US masterminds behind Ukraine coup, helped train radicals

March 22, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian Terrorists Ask Israel for Support, Welcome Netanyahu’s Victory

Prensa Latina | March 21, 2015

Damascus – Ringleaders of terrorist groups deployed on Syrian territory asked Israel to maintain its logistical and military support and send messages of congratulation for the recent election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As highlighted by the website HispanTV today, the congratulations were sent through Israeli lawmaker Mendi Safadi, who acts as a mediator between Tel Aviv and Syrian opposition armed groups.

“We received with great hope and joy the news of his victory,” said one of the congratulatory messages sent by Syrian terrorists to the Likud party, winner of the elections in which Netanyahu was reelected.

The website also quoted another message asking the Zionist prime minister to “build better relationships at all levels between Syrian anti-government armed groups and Tel Aviv.”

Among the groups that congratulated Netanyahu are Al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda branch in Syria), the Free Syrian Army and other extremist armed groups.

Israel provides military, logistic and, particularly, medical services, offering their hospitals to armed rebels wounded in combat, violating Resolution 2170 of the Convention on the Separation of Forces and UN Security Council’s resolutions to fight terrorism.

Since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011, Israel has invested nearly 10 million dollars in medical services for armed groups trying to overthrow the Syrian government.

March 22, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The holy grail of conspiracies

Xymphora | March 22, 2015

One of the most interesting areas of conspiracy theory is the possibility of the planting of false information by government authorities, for motives including confusing or embarrassing the conspiracy theorists, promoting government-sponsored conspiracy theories, or entrapment.

Is Matt DeHart Being Prosecuted Because FBI Investigated CIA for the Anthrax Leak?”:

“. . . there’s something odd about how this was allegedly leaked.

According to Buzzfeed, the anthrax investigation came in one unencrypted folder with the ag document and a document on drone targeting the source of which he thinks he knows (it would like have been a former colleague from the ANG).

How would it ever be possible that the same person would have access to all three of those things? While it’s possible the ag admission ended up in the government, even a DOJ investigation into such an admission would be in a different place than the FBI anthrax investigation, and both should be inaccessible to the ANG people working on SIPRNet.

That is, this feels like the Laptop of Death, which included all the documents you’d want to argue that Iran had an active and advanced nuclear weapons program, but which almost certainly would never all end up on the same laptop at the same time.

And, given DeHart’s belief reported elsewhere this was destined for WikiLeaks, I can’t help but remember the Defense Intelligence Agency report which noted that WikiLeaks might be susceptible to disinformation (not to mention the HB Gary plot to discredit WikiLeaks, but that came later).

This raises the possibility that the Wikileaks.org Web site could be used to post fabricated information; to post misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda; or to conduct perception management and influence operations designed to convey a negative message to those who view or retrieve information from the Web site

That is, given how unlikely it would be to find these juicy subjects all together in one folder, I do wonder whether they’re all authentic (though DeHart would presumably be able to assess the authenticity of the drone targeting documents).”

Unlike World Hero Guccifer, DeHart didn’t go looking for this stuff – it just appeared one day on his secret server.  There is an explanation in the BuzzFeed article for why he wasn’t suspicious at the combination of information:

“Matt says he thought of his fellow airmen, some of whom knew about the Shell. “I’m not going to say who I think it was, but there was a lot of dissatisfaction in my unit about cooperating with the CIA,” he says. Intelligence analysts with the proper clearance (such as Manning and others) had access to a deep trove of sensitive data on the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet, the classified computer network used by both the Defense and State departments.”

Thus, this could be:

  1. a completely legitimate and accurate compilation of various files assembled by someone with enough of a security clearance – and the Manning case shows that the complexities of the American classification system, a symptom of trying to juggle so many secrets while allowing access to the secrets by some in government, is a mess;
  2. a mix of true and false data, either by a mistake by the leaker, or an intentional government trick; or
  3. the planting of completely false information by the government or some private trickster.

I wouldn’t put the CIA high on the list of suspects for the anthrax attacks, but we know it is one of the jobs of the CIA to take the fall for various discovered wrongdoings by other parts of the American government (and never forget the obvious Zionist component to the anthrax conspiracy).

March 22, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | 2 Comments