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Petraeus recipe for battling ISIS: US-protected rebel enclaves in Syria, surge in Iraq

RT | September 22, 2015

To achieve victory in the Middle East, the US needs to establish and protect rebel enclaves in Syria, and launch another “surge” in Iraq, former CIA director and retired US Army general David Petraeus told a Senate panel.

This was the first public appearance for the retired general and former spymaster, following his April sentencing for revealing classified information to his mistress.

Describing Syria as a “geopolitical Chernobyl… spewing instability” all over the Middle East, Petraeus urged the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) to endorse a policy that would “stop the Syrian air force from flying” and establish safe areas where civilians and anti-government rebels could be protected by US airpower and advisers. Meanwhile, all the elements of the surge were once again required in Iraq, but this time around the Iraqis would have to provide the ground troops, he said.

Petraeus echoed the official position of the State Department that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was to blame for the rise of Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL), blaming the government’s “barrel bombs” rather than IS for most of the civilian deaths in Syria. The general pushed for the creation of US-backed protected areas where civilians and militia opposed to the government could shelter under the coalition air umbrella. Eventually, he said, US advisers could be deployed there as boots on the ground.

“This is a very complicated military activity, but it is doable,” Petraeus told lawmakers.

Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA in November 2012, following the revelations that he had shared classified information with his biographer – and lover – Paula Broadwell. As part of a plea bargain with the government, he was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine.

The ex-general began his testimony with an apology, calling what he did a “serious mistake” and a “violation of the trust placed in me.” The panel, chaired by Arizona Republican John McCain, repeatedly thanked Petraeus for his military service and commended him on the apology.

Without bringing up the Broadwell scandal at all, McCain praised Petraeus as a “distinguished” leader and argued his 2007 testimony was critical to securing Senate support for the ‘surge’ strategy that “defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq, brought security to the Iraqi people, and created the possibility for meaningful political reconciliation.”

Both Republicans and Democrats on the panel were eager to hear Petraeus’s prescriptions for salvaging the US war effort against Islamic State. A yearlong air campaign by the 60-nation coalition, at the cost of $4 billion, has not dislodged the self-proclaimed Caliphate, while the handful of US-trained Syrian fighters were ambushed and scattered by Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Petraeus argued that the “train and equip” program was impossible to abandon, since the US strategy in the region absolutely depended on having a Sunni Arab fighting force. Asked whether there was anyone inside Syria actually available to train, he said that many moderate rebels “drifted” to Islamist groups like Al-Nusra, because they had resources and were fighting against the Assad government. Peeling off these low-ranking members could work, he said, just as it did in Iraq.

Arguing that working with the government in Damascus would damage US credibility among the Sunnis, Petraeus called for lawmakers to resist the Russian effort to “force” the US into an alliance with president Bashar al-Assad. If Russia really wanted to fight ISIS, it could have joined the US-led coalition and asked to be integrated into the air war, Petraeus said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin recently proposed a coordinated international effort against IS, but rebuffed speculation that Russian forces would engage in combat operations in Syria.

“We are providing Syria with quite strong support in terms of equipment, training of military servicemen and weapons,” Putin said. “We are considering various options, but so far what you are talking about is not on the agenda.”

Petraeus did caution against the rush to overthrow Assad, noting that Syria “could actually get worse” if there was no plan for the aftermath.

During Petraeus’s testimony before the SASC, it was reported that retired Marine General John Allen, head of the anti-IS coalition, would be stepping down in November. Sources within the Obama administration told Bloomberg that Allen made the decision out of concern for his wife’s poor health.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel and the NSA Scandal

By Kevin MacDonald | Occidental Observer | June 19, 2013

Steve Sailer has an article on the tie-in between Israeli high tech firms and the NSA spying on American citizens (“Does Israel Have a Backdoor to US Intelligence?“). It’s always seemed very suspicious that Amdocs, an Israeli firm, was responsible for billing for US phone companies, and that two Israeli firms, Narus and Verint, are involved in wiretapping AT&T and Verizon for the NSA. It’s also not surprising that, as noted by James Bamford in his April 2012 article for Wired,  someone with close connections to Israel secretly gave software designed by NSA to Israel:  “the advanced analytical and data mining software the NSA had developed for both its worldwide and international eavesdropping operations was secretly passed to Israel by a mid-level employee, apparently with close connections to the country.” Bamford’s source describes him as “a very strong supporter of Israel.”

This is likely yet another example of a long list of American Jews who are credibly believed to have spied for Israel, including pretty much the entire roster of prominent neocons (Perle, Wolfowitz, Stephen Bryen, Douglas Feith, and Michael Ledeen; see here, p. 47ff)—none of whom, with the exception of Jonathan Pollard, have been convicted, and many of whom, like the person mentioned here, have never been indicted.  And given this long list, it is certainly reasonable to think that Israel is using its connections with the NSA to mine US data for its own purposes. In fact, it would be silly to think otherwise.

The NYTimes, The Washington Post, and the LATimes have completely ignored the Israeli connection, and you certainly won’t hear about it on FOX news. So, as often happens, one must read Israeli papers. Haaretz (but not neocon The Jerusalem Post) has several articles on the Israeli connection. On the PRISM program that collects data from companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and AOL:

The data, gathered by the U.S. National Security Agency’s PRISM surveillance program, came from email accounts, Internet chats, browsing and search histories. The aim was to amass a database through which the NSA could learn whether terror suspects had been in contact with people in the United States.

In contrast to similar cases revealed in the past, the program involved thorough and continuous collection of data, even when no particular person or communications had aroused the authorities’ suspicions. …

Behind the scenes are a host of Israeli companies that have almost certainly taken part in the program as suppliers of technology. They may yet find themselves in the maelstrom, warns Nimrod Kozlovski, head of Tel Aviv University’s program for cyber studies.

“The exposure of PRISM underscores the feeling that communications networks and Internet companies have become the main tool for governments to gather information,” he says. “It is critical for the United States at all times to put a wall of separation between the government and commercial enterprises in order to quiet concerns that it has secret relationships with these companies.”

The concern is not just that the local government is spying on its citizens but that the manufacturers themselves have the ability to spy from afar.

Telecommunications systems almost always feature components that can be operated remotely so that software can be updated and routine maintenance chores can be conducted. … But these same systems can be used to penetrate the user country’s communications network as well. With the United States at the center of the world’s Internet traffic that problem is magnified. (“In U.S. snooping affair, Israeli firms at risk “)

Right. It’s quite possible that Gen. Keith Alexander is telling the truth when he says that the NSA is not mining these data on American citizens, but there’s nothing to stop the Israelis from doing so. The assumption must be that Israel has access to American’s emails and internet usage—very useful for all kinds of reasons, including providing ammunition for those who would destroy anti-Zionists, providing insider information in financial transactions, stealing technology, etc. When someone like Gen. David Petraeus, who had been targeted by the ADL for his statements on Israel,  is suddenly compromised by leaked emails to his mistress, it’s not surprising  that people are wondering at the involvement of the Lobby.

The  Haaretz article continues:

Israeli companies are particularly vulnerable to such suspicions [of spying] because they have such close ties to the country’s security establishment.

“Graduates of the IDF’s technology units and those who have worked in other security bodies have created business opportunities for themselves based in no small part on their previous employment,” said Udi Shani, a former Defense Ministry director general, at the Herzliya Conference last March.

That’s one way to say it. But it’s also quite reasonable that the MOSSAD decided to allow its programmers to use the technology created for MOSSAD’s Unit 8200 and then set up companies that would be able to secure foreign contracts which would be impossible for MOSSAD itself to secure for obvious reasons. Indeed, “Hanan Gefen, a former commander of the unit, told Forbes magazine in 2007 that Comverse’s technology was directly influenced by the technology of 8200.”

MOSSAD doesn’t seem too worried about its technology falling into the hands of its ex-employees. In other words, these companies are likely to be MOSSAD operations in all but name.

And in the U.S., because of the power of the Israel Lobby, there would be no outcry in the media, from politicians, or even from the defense establishment when an Israeli company is awarded a contract to do the spying for the NSA. James Petras says as much:

The domestic spy apparatus operates with impunity because of its network of powerful domestic and overseas allies. The entire bi-partisan Congressional leadership is privy to and complicit with its operations. Related branches of government, like the Internal Revenue Service, cooperate in providing information and pursuing targeted political groups and individuals. Israel is a key overseas ally of the National Security Agency, as has been documented in the Israeli press (Haaretz, June 8, 2013). Two Israeli high tech firms (Verint and Narus) with ties to the Israeli secret police (MOSSAD), have provided the spy software for the NSA and this, of course, has opened a window for Israeli spying in the US against Americans opposed to the Zionist state. The writer and critic, Steve Lendman points out that Israeli spymasters via their software “front companies” have long had the ability to ‘steal proprietary commercial and industrial data” with impunity . And because of the power and influence of the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish organizations, Justice Department officials have ordered dozens of Israeli espionage cases to be dropped. The tight Israeli ties to the US spy apparatus serves to prevent deeper scrutiny into its operation and political goals – at a very high price in terms of the security of US citizens. In recent years two incidents stand out: Israeli security ‘experts’ were contracted to advise the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security in their investigation and ‘Stasi-like’ repression of government critics and environmental activists (compared to ‘al Queda terrorists’ by the Israelis) – the discovery of which forced the resignation of OHS Director James Powers in 2010. In 2003, New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevy appointed his lover, an Israeli government operative and former IDF officer, to head that state’s ‘Homeland Security Department and later resigned, denouncing the Israeli, Golan Cipel, for blackmail in late 2004. These examples are a small sample illustrating the depth and scope of Israeli police state tactics intersecting in US domestic repression.

From hearing media accounts of NSA spying, the only data on Americans that are collected are the times of phone calls and the identities of the parties in the phone call. But, as noted above, the data collected go well beyond that to include “email accounts, Internet chats, browsing and search histories.” Another Israeli company mentioned in the Haaretz article with very broad-based spying capabilities is NICE, yet another Israeli company with close ties to the Israeli government. NICE “has technology that is used to monitor some 1.5 billion people. In a brochure published by the company itself, it describes how its system can analyze conversations (including technology to make transcripts of phone calls), and gather and analyze data from public sites. With these tools it can build an intelligence file from millions of communications.” NICE’s website describes itself:

NICE solutions capture interactions, transactions and video surveillance from multiple sources, including telephones, CCTV video feed, emergency services radio communications, emails, chat, social media, and more.

In other words, pretty much all communications can be monitored and, if you represent a threat to the people with access to these operations, you must assume that you are being monitored. (I know of no evidence that the NSA employs NICE.)  Although the company claims that its operations are aimed at “customers, criminals and terrorists, or fraudsters,” it’s not at all far-fetched to be suspicious that the information obtained could be used in a very wide range of operations, including insider information on financial affairs. Sailer suggests that fear of having conversations recorded may account for the concentration of elites in urban centers like Washington, DC and New York, and he pointedly links to  his previous article on Jewish wealth, implying that insider information is a key to Jewish wealth. However, even voice conversations are susceptible to NICE’s technology. And the other side of the coin is that it would not be at all surprising to learn that Jewish trading networks are privy to information obtained by companies like NICE.

The situation with the NSA is yet another example of what it means to have a Jewish elite in the  U.S.: Jewish  spies who deliver vital computer  programs to Israel are not indicted. And despite a long history of aggressive spying against the U.S., the NSA hires Israeli firms to do its data collection, with nary a word heard in Congress or the media about the obvious problems that  presents.

It’s good to be king.

June 23, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

CIA whistleblower imprisoned despite prosecutor’s promise

RT | May 30, 2013

The former CIA analyst who spoke out against the agency’s use of torture says he’s been deemed a “threat to public safety” and is serving his prison sentence in a crowded jail cell despite being promised admission to a federal work camp.

John Kiriakou, 48, has been at Loretto Federal Correctional Institution near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since February after he took a plea deal offered by the federal government. He was facing decades in prison if convicted under the charge initially lobbed by the US Department of Justice, violating the Espionage Act, but the government allowed him last year to plead guilty to a single count of disclosing information that identified a covert agent in exchange for a lesser sentence.

Kiriakou made headlines in 2007 when he spoke at length to reporters at ABC News about the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of waterboarding as an interrogation tool against suspected terrorists. Prior to the interview he spent several years working for the agency abroad following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, serving as head of counterterrorism operations in Pakistan before leaving the CIA and condemning his country’s use of torture. Now three months into his prison sentence, the website Firedoglake has published the first of Kiriakou’s “Letters from Loretto.”

I arrived here on February 28, 2013 to serve a 30-month sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection act of 1982. At least that’s what the government wants people to believe. In truth, this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official US government policy,” Kiriakou writes. “But that’s a different story. The purpose of this letter is to tell you about prison life.

Despite being told by prosecutors and the presiding judge that he’d serve his sentence in Loretto’s Federal Work Camp, Kiriakou says he has been held at the main facility because the Bureau of Prisons deemed him a “threat to the public safety.”

My cell is more like a cubicle made out of concrete block. Built to hold four men, mine holds six. Most others hold eight,” he writes.

Kiriakou says he volunteered to teach fellow prisoners as part of Loretto’s GED program, but his counselor dismissed his request. He now works as a janitor in the prison’s chapel and makes just over five dollars a month.

In regards to the other inmates, Kiriakou says he’s been largely accepted into the prison.

My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hitman. The Aryans whispered that I was a ‘Muslim hunter,’ but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile, the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write communication appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good,” he writes.

Elsewhere, Kiriakou says that Loretto’s Special Investigative Service, “the prison version of every police department’s detective bureau,” tried to convince him that a fellow inmate, allegedly the uncle of an accused terrorist, was told to kill him.

But the more I thought about it, the more this made no sense. Why would the uncle of the Times Square bomber be in a low-security prison?” he writes.

In the meantime, SIS told him that I had made a call to Washington after we met, and that I had been instructed to kill him! We both laughed at the ham-handedness by which SIS tried to get us to attack each other. If we had, we could have spent the rest of our sentences in the SHU – solitary. Instead, we’re friendly, we exchange greetings in Arabic and English, and we chat,” he says.

He also says that his cell was ransacked by prison officials in a shake-down after correcting a guard who mispronounced his name.

Lesson learned: [Corrections officers] can treat us like subhumans but we have to show them faux respect even when it’s not earned,” he says.

Kiriakou is expected to finish his sentence in August 2015. Before going to Loretto, he said at an event in Washington, “I never tortured anybody, but I’m heading to prison while the torturers and the lawyers who papered over it and the people who deceived it and the men who destroyed the proof of it–the tapes– will never face justice.”

In 2012, Kiriakou was indicted on one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, three counts of violating the Espionage Act, and one count of making false statements. He pleaded to the IIPA violation last October, prompting then-CIA director David Petraeus to hail the conviction.

This case yielded the first IIPA successful prosecution in 27 years, and it marks an important victory for our Agency, for our Intelligence Community, and for our country,” Petraeus said. “Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws.” Petraeus resigned two months later after it was revealed that he had an extramarital affair with his biographer.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chomsky Acknowledges the Neocons as the Dominant Force in Pushing for Iraq War

By Stephen J. Sniegoski | The Passionate Attachment | March 7, 2012

Thanks to the efforts of the indefatigable James Morris, a seeming transformation of the view of the illustrious Noam Chomsky was revealed, which, if not equivalent to the change that Saul of Tarsus underwent while on the road to Damascus, was significant nonetheless. Morris seems to have a knack for ferreting out the unknown views of the famous, as was illustrated in his 2010 email exchange with General David Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command, in which he was able to reveal the latter’s close relationship with neocon Max Boot and his ardent desire to propitiate the pro-Zionist Jewish community at a time when it was generally thought that Petraeus was critical of the negative effects of the intimate U.S.-Israeli relationship on America’s position in the Middle East.

The Chomsky revelation took place while the latter was a guest on Phil Tourney’s “Your Voice Counts” program on Republic Broadcasting Network from 2:00 pm to 3:00pm Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, February 24, 2013. While Chomsky is a strong and very knowledgeable critic of Israel, he also has been (at least, was before this program) a stringent critic of the idea that the neocons have any significant impact on American Middle East policy. Rather, he presents a somewhat nebulous, quasi-monolithic, corporate elite, which includes the oil interests, as determining American policy in that region—as it does everywhere else in the globe—for its own economic interests. In what has been Chomsky’s view, Israel only serves as an instrument for American imperialism; that it too might benefit from American policies is, presumably, only an incidental by-product.

Chomsky was quite impressive on the program as he demonstrated extensive knowledge of the USS Liberty issue, which is a major issue of the program, since Tourney was a seaman on that ill-fated ship that was deliberately attacked by Israeli planes and gunboats during the Six Day War in June 1967, causing the deaths of 34 U.S. seamen and wounding 171 others out of a crew of 297.

Chomsky included an injection of his standard theme that Israel became a valuable strategic asset to the United States with the 1967 war when it wrecked Nasser and secular Arab nationalism in general, thus aiding America’s conservative client states, such as Saudi Arabia.

Listener phone calls were restricted to the last 15 minutes. Consequently, James Morris wasn’t able to get on the program until the last five minutes when he tried to get Chomsky to address the issue of the connection between the neocons and Israel. Morris cited then-Secretary of State Powell’s reference to the “JINSA crowd” (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) as the primary force for the war on Iraq within the Bush Administration. Morris went on to say that the neocons were a leading element of the Israel lobby.

After Morris made these statements, Chomsky amazingly blurted out that he “agreed completely” with him regarding the importance of the neocons—describing the neocons as “tremendously important.” Chomsky acknowledged that the neoconservatives had been the “dominant force” in the Bush administration, and that they had “pushed through” the Iraq war over many objections even from within the government. What Chomsky had said about the importance of the neocons was radically different from his usual portrayal of a monolithic corporatist dominance of U.S. Middle East policy. Chomsky even seemed to agree that the neocons held positions that diverged from those of the traditional foreign policy establishment—Morris had earlier mentioned Scowcroft and Brzezinski as opponents of the neocons.

What Chomsky said pertaining to the neocons being the leading force for the Iraq war is essentially identical to my position in “The Transparent Cabal.” And it is not only the opposite of what it appeared that he used to hold but what his protégé Norman Finkelstein continues to expound, as I discuss in my article, “Norman Finkelstein and Neocon Denial.”

Finkelstein denies that the neocons were a factor in causing the U.S. to go to war—and has nothing to do with my book, describing it as conspiracist—but he does not seem to realize that his position contrasts with that of his mentor. Since the two are quite close, it would seem that Chomsky has not even expressed this new view to Finkelstein in private conversation. When Finkelstein finds out that his mentor holds that the neocons were the “dominant force” for war with Iraq, one wonders if he will then charge him with believing in a conspiracy.

Unfortunately, however, Chomsky still stops far short of the full truth. For in his response to Morris, he went on to maintain that the neocons are different from the Israel lobby—definitely implying, though not explicitly stating, that the neocons are not motivated by the interests of Israel. He quickly put forth two arguments for this contention. First, he claimed that the neocons are simply a mainstream force in American conservatism going back to the Reagan administration. Even if true, this would not necessarily preclude their being biased in favor of Israel. However, it is not true—the neocons did not just fit into existing mainstream conservatism, but altered it to fit their own goals.

As I bring out in “The Transparent Cabal” (with numerous citations from secondary sources, this being a rather conventional view), the neocon movement originated among liberal Democrats, mainly Jewish, who gravitated to the right in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In significant part, this reflected a concern that American liberalism was moving leftward in ways detrimental to Jewish interests. In foreign policy, this involved diminished support by American liberals for Israel—in line with the world left’s support for Third World movements that included the Palestinians—and the liberals’ turn against an anti-Communist foreign policy, as a reaction to the Vietnam imbroglio, at a time when the Soviet Union’s policies were exhibiting discrimination against Soviet Jewry and opposition to Israel in support of its Arab enemies. In opposing what they saw as liberalism’s move to the left, these proto-neoconservatives did not see themselves as becoming conservative, but were dubbed with the moniker “neoconservative” by left-wing social critic Michael Harrington, who intended it as a pejorative term, and the name soon stuck.

Neoconservatives basically wanted to return mainstream American liberalism to the anti-Communist Cold War positions exemplified by President Harry Truman (1945–1953), which had held sway through the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson (1963–1969). When this effort failed to achieve success, neocons would turn to Ronald Reagan in the 1980. Despite being newcomers to the conservative camp, neoconservatives were able to find significant places in the Reagan administration, especially in the national security and foreign policy areas, although at less than Cabinet-level status.

Neoconservatives, however, did not become traditional conservatives, but instead altered the content of conservatism to their liking. “The neoconservative impulse,” pro-neocon Murray Friedman maintains in his book “The Neoconservative Revolution,” “was the spontaneous response of a group of liberal intellectuals, mainly Jewish, who sought to shape a perspective of their own while standing apart from more traditional forms of conservatism.”[Quoted in “Transparent Cabal,” pp. 39-40]

In domestic policy, neoconservatives supported the modern welfare state, in contrast to the traditional conservatives, who emphasized small government, states’ rights, and relatively unfettered capitalism. Most importantly, they differed significantly from the conservative position on foreign policy. Although the American conservatives of the Cold War era were anti-Communist and pro-military, they harbored a strain of isolationism. Their interventionism was limited largely to fighting Communism, but not to nation-building and the export of democracy, the expressed goals of the neocons. Nor did traditional conservatives view the United States as the policeman of the world. Most significantly, traditional conservatives had never championed Israel.

While traditional conservatives welcomed neoconservatives as allies in their fight against Soviet Communism and domestic liberalism, the neocons in effect acted as a Trojan Horse within conservatism: they managed to secure dominant positions in the conservative political and intellectual movement, and as soon as they gained power, they purged those traditional conservatives who opposed their agenda, particularly as it involved Israel. Support for Israel and its policies had become, and remains, a veritable litmus test for being a member of the multitudinous political action groups and think tanks that comprise the conservative movement.

In his 1996 book, “The Essential Neoconservative Reader,” editor Mark Gerson, a neocon himself who served on the board of directors of the Project for the New American Century, jubilantly observed: “The neoconservatives have so changed conservatism that what we now identify as conservatism is largely what was once neoconservatism. And in so doing, they have defined the way that vast numbers of Americans view their economy, their polity, and their society.” [Quoted in “Transparent Cabal”, p. 42]

While in domestic policy Gerson’s analysis might not be completely accurate, it would seem to be so in US national security policy, as illustrated by the near unanimous Republican opposition in the US Senate to the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense because of his past statements critical of both US all-out support for Israel and its hardline position toward Iran (currently Israel’s foremost enemy) that might lead to war.

Now the fact that Cheney and Rumsfeld may not be motivated by a desire to aid Israel in their support for neocon Middle East policy, the Middle East policies they have supported have been formulated by those who identify with Israel. Since both of them have been closely associated with the neocons, Cheney more so than Rumsfeld, they were undoubtedly influenced by the pro-Israel neocons. Cheney even went so far as to serve on JINSA’s Advisory Board. And JINSA was set up in 1976 to put “the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship first.”

Moreover, as Vice President, Cheney specifically relied on advice from the eminent historian of the Middle East, Bernard Lewis, a right-wing Zionist and one of the neocons’ foremost gurus, who strongly advocated war against Iraq and other Middle Eastern states. (Barton Gellman, “Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency,” p. 231) Chomsky has said that “Bernard Lewis is nothing but a vile propagandist,” and he presumably means a propagandist for Israel.

The influence of ideas per se was not the only factor that likely motivated Cheney. The fact that Cheney and his wife, Lynne, who was with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI—known as “neocon central”), had close personal and professional relations with the neocons also would have predisposed him to give his support to the neoconservatives and their agenda.

The same arguments would apply for Rumsfeld, with one additional one: a war on Iraq would give him the chance to demonstrate the value of his concept of a smaller, mobile, high tech American military. Rumsfeld held that a small, streamlined invasion force would be sufficient to defeat Iraq. As Bob Woodward writes in his book, “State of Denial”: “The Iraq war plan was the chess board on which Rumsfeld would test, develop, expand and modify his ideas about military transformation. And the driving concept was ‘less is more’ – new thinking about a lighter, swifter, smaller force that could do the job better. Rumsfeld’s blitzkrieg would vindicate his leadership of the Pentagon.”[“State of Denial,” p. 82]

For the neocons, Rumsfeld’s approach would not have the drawbacks of the conventional full-scale invasion initially sought by the military brass. The neocons feared that no neighboring country would provide the necessary bases from which to launch such a massive conventional attack, or that during the lengthy time period needed to assemble a large force, diplomacy might avert war or that peace forces in the U.S. might increase their size and political clout and do likewise. In short, it was this convergence on interests between the Rumsfeld and the neocons that made them so supportive of each other in the early years of the George W. Bush administration.

It must be acknowledged that the neocon Middle East war agenda did resonate with both Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s general positions on national security policy, but there is little reason to think that they would have come up with the specifics of the policy, including even the identification of Iraq as the target, if it had not been for their neocon associates, whose policy reflected their close identification with Israel. It should also be pointed out that in Chomsky’s usual presentation of an American foreign policy shaped by the corporate elite, the actual government officials who implemented the policy were not necessarily members of the corporate elite nor motivated by a desire to advance the interests of the corporate elite as opposed to the national interest of the United States. In order for any type of elite to be successful, it is essential that it attract significant numbers of people outside of itself, which Chomsky himself has discussed at length regarding the corporate elite. This is also the very purpose of the neoconservative network and the information that it disseminates.

Acknowledging as much as he did, it is hard to see how Chomsky can fail to discern that the neocons identify with Israel. The evidence is overwhelming. The following are a few examples of this connection.

The effort to prevent Chuck Hagel from becoming the Secretary of Defense has been spearheaded by the Emergency Committee for Israel, the creation of which in 2010 was in large part the work of leading neocon, Bill Kristol, and which claims “to provide citizens with the facts they need to be sure that their public officials are supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.” As Bill Kristol states: “We’re the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community.” Kristol had co-founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which promoted the war on Iraq. Kristol’s father, the late Irving Kristol, a godfather of neoconservatism, is noted for his identification with Israel. In 1973, he said: “Jews don’t like big military budgets. But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States . . . American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel.” [Congress Bi-Weekly (1973), published by the American Jewish Congress]

Noah Pollak, a contributor to “Commentary” magazine, is the Emergency Committee’s executive director and, while living in Israel for two years, was an assistant editor at the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center.

Eliot Cohen, a veteran neocon, was a founding signatory of the Project for the New American Century and advised the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. He coined the term “World War IV” for the war on terror. During the George Bush administration, he served on the Defense Policy Board in Bush’s first term and was closely affiliated with those neocons around Vice President Cheney. He is on the International Academic Advisory Board of the Began Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel, which is affiliated with Bar Ilan University, and is involved in contract work for the Israeli government.

Douglas Feith, who as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in George W. Bush’s first term set up and controlled the Office of Special Plans, which spread the most specious war propaganda, was closely associated with the right-wing Zionist group, the Zionist Organization of America. In 1997, he co-founded One Jerusalem, a group whose objective was “saving a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.” Before entering the Bush administration, Feith ran a small Washington-based law firm, which had one international office – in Israel. And the majority of the firm’s work consisted of representing Israeli interests.

Richard Perle has had very close personal connections with Israeli government officials, and has been accused of providing classified information to that country on a number of occasions. Perle not only expounded pro-Zionist views, but was a board member of the pro-Likud “Jerusalem Post” and had worked as a lobbyist for the Israeli weapons manufacturer Soltam.

Norman Podhoretz is considered a godfather, along with Irving Kristol, of the neoconservative movement. When editor of “Commentary” magazine, he wrote that “the formative question for his politics would heretofore be, ‘Is it good for the Jews?’” (“Commentary,” February 1972) In 2007, Podhoretz received the Guardian of Zion Award, which is given to individuals for their support for Israel, from Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Neocon Charles Krauthammer was the 2002 winner of the Guardian of Zion Award.

Max Singer, co-founder of the neocon Hudson Institute and its former president, who pushed for the war on Iraq, has moved to Israel, where he is a citizen and has been involved with the Institute for Zionist Strategies, which advocates the need to better infuse Zionist ideology in the Jewish people of Israel.

The neocons’ support for Israel does not necessarily mean that they were deliberately promoting the interest of Israel at the expense of the United States. Instead, as I point out in “The Transparent Cabal,” they maintained that an identity of interests existed between the two countries – Israel’s enemies being ipso facto America’s enemies. However, it is apparent from their backgrounds that the neoconservatives viewed American foreign policy in the Middle East through the lens of Israeli interest, as Israeli interest was perceived by the Likudniks.

Despite this professed view of the identity of American and Israel interests, sometimes the neocons’ actions verged on putting Israel interests above those of the United States government. For example, some leading neocons—David Wurmser, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith—developed the “Clean Break” proposal outlining an aggressive policy for Israel intended to enhance its geostrategic position, which they presented in 1996 to then-incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One part of the plan was to get the United States to disassociate itself from peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine and simply let Israel treat the Palestinians as it saw fit. “Israel,” stated the report, “can manage it’s own affairs. Such self-reliance will grant Israel greater freedom of action and remove a significant lever of [US] pressure used against it in the past.” It was highly noteworthy that the neocons would devise a strategy to enable Israel to become free from adhering to the goals of their own country. [“Transparent Cabal,” p. 93]

In conclusion, while Chomsky’s change was far from being complete, his acknowledgement that the neoconservatives were the “dominant force” in driving the U.S. to the war on Iraq in 2003 is, nonetheless, very significant. Chomsky, who was voted the “world’s top public intellectual” in a 2005 poll, certainly influences many people, most particularly on the anti-war left, and his new view should make them rethink their belief that the war was all about oil. It is to be hoped that Chomsky’s words were not a one-time aberration and that he will not revert to his previous publicly-espoused position. Rather, it is to be hoped that he will now look more deeply into the neocons’ activities and thus discern their close connection to Israel.

Stephen J. Sniegoski is the author of The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel.

March 7, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US military funded, oversaw detention and torture sites during Iraq invasion

Press TV – March 7, 2013

The US military used veterans of its “dirty wars” in Latin America to set up secret detention and torture centers in Iraq and overseeing ‘some of the worst acts of torture’ during the US-led invasion of the country, a British daily reports.

Sectarian commando units, operating under direct supervision of American Special Forces veterans, who were involved in the so-called US counter-insurgency efforts against opponents of some of the most brutal Washington-backed dictatorships in Central America, “conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war,” The Guardian reports Thursday.

The principal US commanders of its detention and torture operations in Iraq, according to the report, were Colonel James Steel, who directly reported to then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and a retired colonel named James Coffman, who reported directly to General David Petraeus who later became the top American commander in Iraq and Afghanistan before his rise to directorship of the CIA spy agency.

Petraeus later resigned from his latest post after admitting to maintaining an extramarital affair with his biographer since he was a top US military commander.

The network of detention and torture centers in Iraq were funded “with millions of dollars of US funding,” the report insists.

“Coffman reported to Petraeus and described himself in an interview with the US military newspaper Star and Stripes as Petraeus’s ‘eyes and ears out on the ground’ in Iraq,” according to the daily.

“They worked hand in hand,” said Iraqi General Muntadher al-Samari, quoted in the report, which adds that he worked with Steele and Coffman for a year while the detention and torture centers were being set up.

“I never saw them apart in the 40 or 50 times I saw them inside the detention centers. They knew everything that was going on there … the torture, the most horrible kinds of torture,” General al-Samari added.

The daily says its probe of the US-sponsored detention and torture operations was triggered with the publication of classified US military logs by whistleblower group WikiLeaks, detailing “hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centers” run by US-funded sectarian commandos throughout Iraq.

The report further cites American and Iraqi sources as confirming that top US military commanders and officials, including Petraeus, were fully aware of the highly abusive detention and torture operations during the destructive US-led war in Iraq.

March 7, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Drone Boom

By VIJAY PRASHAD | CounterPunch | April 2, 2012

In 2010, the UN special representative on extrajudicial executions Philip Alston released a 29 page report on the growing use of deadly drone, or unmanned, aircraft by the United States. In a statement that accompanied the report, Alston described the political problem for the US, “I’m particularly concerned that the United States seems oblivious to this fact when it asserts an ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe. But this strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other states can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions.”

In the sedate chambers of the UN, such language is rare: it asserted that the continual US use of drones is not only a violation of current norms, but it is a threat to the architecture of conflict resolution and the rules of war. Alston wanted to convene a conference of the “key military powers” to consider new rules for the drones. No-one was interested.

The US response was unsurprising: it was at war, and in war, such attacks are legal. Since the US has claims that its War on Terror has no identifiable battlefield, it feels emboldened to use its drones to attack targets in regions where it is not directly at war, such as Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and so on. It is this inflation that worried the UN. In March 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder dismissed Alston’s commitment to legality. He decreed it constitutional (in US terms) for his government to even kill its own citizens without judicial review in very specific circumstances (in mind was the New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in the deserts of Yemen, in 2011). President Obama signed a law on February 14, 2012 to extend drone use in the United States for commercial purposes (crop dusting, monitoring oil spills) and eventually for law enforcement. More, not less, drones are on the horizon.

The $5.9 billion drone industry looks to double its size. There is a Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus (co-chaired by Henry Cuellar and Buck McKeon). The US used to have fifty drones in the arsenal before 9/11, but the airforce now has 7,500 in use. Northwestern Michigan College has pioneered drone studies to prepare “pilots” for a lucrative career. A recently released Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan, 2009-2047 notes, the drones are essential “to increasing effects while potentially reducing cost, forward footprint and risk.” To reduce the risk to nothing, the Air Force has developed the X-47B which is not only unmanned but is also unpiloted. It is a robot, which will determine on its own where to go and what to strike. The Northwestern Michigan College graduates might face redundancy before they finish their degrees.

Since 2005, the US drones have killed 2175 people in Pakistan. Those killed are always characterized as “suspected militants.” There is little verification about their real identities. Court cases by civilian victims of the drone attacks, helped along by the campaigner Reprieve, have not been able to make much of a dent. In a rare case of flexing its sovereignty, the Pakistani parliament in late March called for an end to drone strikes, with a parliamentary committee asking the US to respect the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” of Pakistan. Pakistani noise has little impact on US policy. The drone attacks continue.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) has recent reported that the US has increased its use of drones in Yemen, despite the change of its president (from Saleh to his deputy Hadi). The US has consistently denied that its cruise missile killed forty-four civilians on December 17, 2009 in southern Yemen (eight families were wiped out by the attack). A Wikileaks-released cable tells us otherwise. General David Petraeus rushed to Sanaa, where he met Saleh who told him, “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.”

Subsequent to Saleh’s removal, the Yemeni parliament formed a commission to study that attack. A spokesperson for Sheikh Himir Al-Ahmar, the commission’s chairman and now Yemen’s deputy speaker, told the BIJ, “The families of the victims were indeed paid appropriate compensation by the Yemeni Government (according to the standard of compensations given out to victims in Yemen). The American authorities did not get involved in this process in any way.” The Americans like the “can’t confirm or deny” stance regarding what is taking place in plain sight. This is the reason that the Obama administration has blocked the requests by the ACLU to gain information on the CIA’s use of drones for targeted assassinations.

The US media is forced to report massacres when these are conducted by troops on the ground. The most recent story concerns the killing of sixteen Afghan civilians by Army Staff Sgt Robert Bales. Even here the story was followed with limited depth. As Alexander Cockburn reported this weekend,  it was Australia SBS’s Yalda Hakim who went beneath the surface and produced a remarkable report that suggested that Bales likely did not act alone in the villages of Alkozai and Najiban (a view supported by the investigation conducted by General Karimi for the Afghan president). At least reports of these massacres come to the press. Nothing of the kind happens when drones kill civilians. There is little consideration of drone strikes, and little anger at the murder of ordinary people by drones.

Drones create little global outrage. The drones have no names like Bales (and his confreres). Their pilots are faceless young people who sit in Nevada or upstate New York. They drink a Coke, play with their computers which send kill messages to their drones. They will have nightmares. With drones there are no stories. No narratives to create outrage. Just bodies of dead people. They have no history.

Last week, a US drone killed four people in Miranshah in northern Pakistan. The Pakistani authorities claim that these are Uzbek militants. There is no confirmation. They might have been anyone.

In the 1920s, Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, had a British base, from where RAF planes went out on frequent bombing raids against the Afghans and the Waziris. It was from Miranshah that Arthur “Bomber” Harris ran some of his most vicious sorties. A rather miserable T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) sat in his room on the base bemoaning his fate while Harris went on his celebrated runs. Lawrence had his own views on the bombings. “I have a bird,” he wrote. “It looks like a sparrow. It nests over my shelf of files. A dirty bird: I have brought in varnished fabric cover to shield the files from its droppings. A misanthropic bird; a solitary bird; a silent bird. It comes in at sunset & departs at dawn. Plop, plop. Our bombing machines can only drop six bombs, at full war load. This my sparrow puts the RAF to shame. Since sunset it has made eleven hits.” Lawrence had his eyes on the bird, and on the horizon. “Miranshah is busy,” he wrote as the bombers returned. “A moral operation is being carried out in the hills to the SW.”

April 2, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Drone Boom