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The Iraq War’s Known Unknowns

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | January 26, 2016

There is a lot more than meets the eye in the newly revealed Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence briefing of Sept. 5, 2002, which showed there was a lack of evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – just as President George W. Bush’s administration was launching its sales job for the Iraq War.

The briefing report and its quick demise amount to an indictment not only of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld but also of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers, who is exposed once again as a Rumsfeld patsy who put politics ahead of his responsibility to American soldiers and to the nation as a whole.

In a Jan. 24 report at Politico entitled “What Donald Rumsfeld Knew We Didn’t Know About Iraq,” journalist John Walcott presents a wealth of detail about the JCS intelligence report of Sept. 5, 2002, offering additional corroboration that the Bush administration lied to the American people about the evidence of WMD in Iraq.

The JCS briefing noted, for example: “Our knowledge of the Iraqi (nuclear) weapons program is based largely – perhaps 90% – on analysis of imprecise intelligence.”

Small wonder that the briefing report was dead on arrival in Rumsfeld’s in-box. After all, it proved that the intelligence evidence justifying war was, in Rumsfeldian terms, a “known unknown.” When he received it on Sept. 5 or 6, the Defense Secretary deep-sixed it – but not before sending it on Sept. 9 to Gen. Richard Myers (who he already knew had a copy) with a transparently disingenuous CYA note: “Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD. It is big. Thanks.”

Absent was any notation such as “I guess we should tell the White House to call off its pro-war sales campaign based on Iraq possessing WMD since we don’t got the goods.” Without such a direct instruction, Rumsfeld could be sure that Gen. Myers would not take the matter further.

Myers had already proven his “company man” mettle by scotching a legal inquiry that he had just authorized to provide the armed forces with guidance on permitted interrogation techniques. All that it took to ensure a hasty Myers retreat was a verbal slap-down from Rumsfeld’s general counsel, William James Haynes II, as soon as Haynes got wind of the inquiry in November 2002. (More on that below.)

The more interesting story, in my view, is not that Rumsfeld was corrupt (yawn, yawn), but that so was his patsy, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, the country’s top uniformed military officer at the time. Myers has sported a well-worn coat of blue Teflon up until now.

Even John Walcott, a member of the Knight-Ridder team that did the most responsible pre-Iraq-War reporting, lets the hapless Myers too easily off the hook in writing: “Myers, who knew as well as anyone the significance of the report, did not distribute it beyond his immediate military colleagues and civilian boss, which a former aide said was consistent with the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.”

Principal Military Adviser to the President

That “former aide” is dead wrong on the last point, and this is key. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs works directly for two bosses: the President of the United States, whom he serves as the principal military adviser, and the Secretary of Defense. The JCS Chairman has the statutory authority – indeed, the duty – to seek direct access to the President to advise him in such circumstances, bearing on war or peace.

Indeed, in his 2009 memoir, Eyes on the Horizon, Gen. Myers himself writes, “I was legally obligated to provide the President my best military advice — not the best advice as approved by the Secretary of Defense.”

But in reality, Myers wouldn’t and he didn’t. And that – quite simply – is why Rumsfeld picked him and others like him for leading supporting roles in the Pentagon. And so the Iraq War came – and, with it, catastrophe for the Middle East (with related disorder now spreading into Europe).

Could Gen. Myers have headed off the war had he had the courage to assert his prerogative to go directly to President Bush and tell him the truth? Sad to say, with Bush onboard as an eager “war president” and with Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld intimidating the timid Secretary of State Colin Powell and with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and CIA Director George Tenet fully compliant, it is not likely that Myers could have put the brakes on the rush to invade Iraq simply by appealing to the President.

After all, the JCS briefing coincided with the start of the big sales pitch for the Iraq War based on alarming claims about Iraq possessing WMD and possibly developing a nuclear bomb. As White House chief of staff Andrew Card explained the September timing of the ad campaign, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”

Just three days after the date of the JCS intelligence report depicting the shallowness of the intelligence on the issue of WMD in Iraq, the White House, with the help of The New York Times and other “mainstream media,” launched a major propaganda offensive.

On Sept. 8, 2002, a New York Times front-pager – headlined “US Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts” by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon – got the juggernaut rolling downhill to war. Their piece featured some aluminum tubes that they mistakenly thought could be used only for nuclear centrifuges (when they were actually for conventional artillery). Iraq’s provocative behavior, wrote the Times, has “brought Iraq and the United States to the brink of war.”

Or as NSC Advisor Rice summed it up on the Sunday talk shows later that day, “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

But it was clear the fix was in even earlier. The British “Downing Street Minutes” of July 23, 2002, show that Tenet told his British counterpart, Richard Dearlove, that – as Dearlove described the message to Prime Minister Tony Blair – that “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

However, despite the obstacles, Richard Myers, like so many of us, took a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. For many of us who wore the uniform and took “duty, honor, country” seriously, it is hard to give Myers a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to blame for the Iraq War.

No matter the odds against success, his duty was to go directly to the President and make the case. If he was rebuffed, he should have quit and gone public, in my view. (How long has it been since anyone of high rank has quit on principle?)

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs quitting over plans for an unnecessary war? Not even The New York Times and The Washington Post – as fully in the tank as they were for the Iraq War – would have been able to suppress that story in 2002. And, had Myers gone public he might have succeeded in injecting slippery grease under the rollout of Card’s “new product.”

Imagine what might have happened had Myers gone public at that point. It is all too easy to assume that Bush and Cheney would have gotten their war anyway. But who can tell for sure? Sometimes it takes just one senior official with integrity to spark a hemorrhage of honesty. However the outcome would have turned out at least Myers would been spared the pain of looking into the mirror every morning – and thinking back on what might have been.

A Modern Rumsfeld General

This was not the first time that Myers, who served as JCS chairman from 2001 to 2005, was derelict in duty by playing the toady. He had acquiesced in Bush’s and Rumsfeld’s approval of torture in February 2002, even before going along with a gross violation of international law – launching the attack on Iraq absent any imminent threat and without the required approval by the UN Security Council.

On torture, the seldom mentioned smoking gun was a two-page executive memorandum signed by George W. Bush on Feb. 7, 2002, in which the President declared that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees. Instead, they would be treated “humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva,” the memo said, using vague and permissive language that, in effect, opened the door to torture and other abuses. Gen. Myers was one of eight addressees.

On May 11, 2009 Myers was in Washington peddling his memoir Eyes on the Horizon and spoke at a Harvard Business School Alumni dinner. I seldom go to such affairs, but in this case I was glad I had paid my dues, for here was a unique opportunity to quiz Myers. I began by thanking him for acknowledging in his book “the Geneva Conventions were a fundamental part of our military culture.” Then I asked what he had done when he received Bush’s Feb. 7, 2002 memorandum unilaterally creating exceptions to Geneva.

“Just read my book,” Myers said. I told him I had, and cited a couple of sentences from my copy: “You write that you told a senior Pentagon official, Douglas Feith, ‘I feel very strongly about this. And if Rumsfeld doesn’t defend the Geneva Conventions, I’ll contradict him in front of the President.’ Did you?”

Myers claimed that he had fought the good fight before the President decided. But there was no tinge of regret. The sense the general left with us was this: if the President wanted to bend Geneva out of shape, what was a mere Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to do?

Pushing my luck, I noted that a Senate Armed Services Committee report, “Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody,” had been issued just two weeks earlier (on April 23, 2009). It found that Myers had abruptly aborted an in-depth legal review of interrogation techniques that all four armed services had urgently requested and that he authorized in the fall of 2002. They were eager to get an authoritative ruling on the lawfulness of various interrogation techniques – some of which were already being used at Guantanamo.

Accordingly, Myers’s legal counsel, Navy Captain Jane Dalton, had directed her staff to initiate a thorough legal and policy review of interrogation techniques. It had just gotten under way in November 2002 when Rumsfeld’s general counsel, William James Haynes II, ordered Myers to stop the review.

Haynes “wanted to keep it much more close-hold,” Dalton told the Senate committee, so she ordered her staff to stop the legal analysis. She testified that this was the only time in her career that she had been asked to stop working on a request that came to her for review.

I asked Gen. Myers why he halted the in-depth legal review. “I stopped the broad review,” Myers replied, “but I asked Dalton to do her personal review and keep me advised.” When Senate committee members asked him about stopping the review, Myers could not remember.

On Nov. 27, 2002, shortly after Haynes told Myers to stop Dalton’s review despite persisting legal concerns in the military services – Haynes sent Rumsfeld a one-page memo recommending that he approve all but three of 18 techniques requested by the interrogators in Guantanamo.

Techniques like stress positions, nudity, exploitation of phobias (like fear of dogs), deprivation of light, and auditory stimuli were all recommended for approval. On Dec. 2, 2002, Rumsfeld signed Haynes’s recommendation, adding a handwritten note referring to the use of stress positions: “I stand for 8-10 hours a day.  Why is standing limited to 4 hours?”

A Different JCS Chairman

Other JCS chairmen have not been as compliant as Myers was. For instance, a decade after Myers acceded to Bush’s rush to war in Iraq, JSC Chairman Martin Dempsey smelled a rat when Secretary of State John Kerry – along with neocons, liberal hawks and the mainstream media – rushed toward full-scale war on Syria by pinning the blame on President Bashar al-Assad for the fatal sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.

Comparisons can be invidious, but Dempsey is bright, principled, and no one’s patsy. It did not take him long to realize that another “regime change” scheme was in play with plans to get the U.S. directly involved in a shooting war with Syria. As more intelligence came in, the sarin attack increasingly looked like a false-flag attack carried out by radical jihadists to draw the U.S. military in on their side.

This new war could have started by syllogism: (a) get President Barack Obama to draw a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in Syria; (b) stage a chemical attack that would be quickly blamed on Assad for violating the red line; and (c) mousetrapping Obama into making good on his threat of “enormous consequences.”

That Obama pulled back at the last minute was a shock to those who felt sure they had found a way to destroy the Syrian army and clear the way for Assad’s violent removal – even if the result would have been a likely victory for Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State. After all, neocon/liberal-hawk thinking has long favored “regime change” whatever the consequences, as the wars in Iraq and Libya have demonstrated.

But Gen. Dempsey became a fly in the regime-changers’ ointment. In contrast to Myers, Dempsey apparently saw the need to go directly to the President to head off another unnecessary war. The evidence suggests that this is precisely what he did and that he probably bypassed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the process since time was of the essence.

Dempsey had already told Congress that a major attack on Syria should require congressional authorization and he was aware that the “evidence” adduced to implicate the Syrian government was shaky at best. Besides, according to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, British intelligence told the JCS that they had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the Aug. 21 attack and it did not match the sarin known to be in Syrian army stocks.

Actually, it is no secret that Dempsey helped change President Obama’s mind between when Kerry spoke on the afternoon of Aug. 30, accusing Damascus of responsibility and all but promising an imminent U.S. attack on Syria, and when Obama announced less than a day later that he would not attack but rather would seek authorization from Congress.

On the early afternoon of Aug. 31, Obama was unusually explicit in citing Dempsey as indicating why there was no need to rush into another war. Obama said, “the [JCS] Chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive: it will be effective tomorrow, next week, or one month from now.”

The failure to stampede Obama and the U.S. military into a bombing campaign against Syria was a major defeat for those who wanted another shot at a Mideast “regime change,” primarily the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies who still hold sway inside the State Department as well as Washington’s top think tanks and the mainstream U.S. news media – not to mention the Israelis, Saudis, Turks and others who insist that “Assad must go.”

Not surprisingly, on Sept. 1, 2013, as the plans to bomb, bomb, bomb Syria were shoved into a drawer at the Pentagon, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were in high dudgeon – particularly at Dempsey’s audacity in putting the kibosh on their clearly expressed desire to attack Syria post-haste.

(By happenstance, I was given a personal window into the widespread distress over the outbreak of peace, when I found myself sharing a “green room” with some of the most senior neocons at CNN’s main studio in Washington. [See Consortiumnews.com’sHow War on Syria Lost Its Way.”]

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing ministry of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the Sixties and then for 27 years as a CIA analyst. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

January 26, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Support Our Troops – Indict Their Leaders

By Michael Smith | Legalalienate | November 11, 2013

As usual on Veteran’s Day, we are urged to honor our “heroes” and salute their martial courage, while ignoring the murderous imperial role they play in “fighting for their country.”

This really cannot be done. A professional army is by definition an organized band that kills on command. This can only be justified on the grounds that its mission is purely defensive, designed to repel invasion of the national territory the troops are sworn to protect and defend.

But this is hardly the role of the U.S. armed forces today, when Washington maintains hundreds of major military bases around the world, and thousands of smaller military installations, all of them dedicated to maintaining an economic and political status quo increasingly protested by popular majorities seeking a freer, more democratic world. In short, in spite of its multicultural and bi-gender facade, the U.S. military is an anti-democratic force. And there is nothing heroic about suppressing democracy.

Yes, our troops often display spectacular physical courage under fire. But so did soldiers defending Nazism and Communism, Japanese soldiers defending a brutal empire, and Confederate soldiers fighting to preserve chattel slavery. We do not ordinarily consider these soldiers heroes, no matter how great their martial courage, because we rate the missions they were sent on as illegitimate or evil.

We cannot have it both ways. If military service is value neutral, then it does not matter what cause soldiers fight for, we must salute their courage under fire. But if the value of physical courage is inextricably bound up with the legitimacy of the mission a soldier is sent on, then we must withhold hero status from imperial soldiers who fight – not to defend us from evil – but merely to preserve and extend the hegemony of empire. In the latter case, their bravery is stained and diminished by the ignoble cause they have been commanded to serve.

Actually, these days a soldier does not even have to demonstrate physical courage to be designated a hero. Cheap praise is heaped on our soldiers merely for being in the military, quite apart from anything they may do on a field of battle. This is directly related to a steady decline in public support for imperial military missions, which the architects of empire resist by equating anti-war sentiment with hostility to soldiers. “Support our troops” actually means “support the mission,” no matter how illegitimate.

This we must not do. The grotesque barbarity displayed at Abu Ghraib – hardly ancient history – was neither heroic, nor accidental. In fact, it was deliberately sanctioned policy, extensively pre-tested by Israel, to associate all resistance to foreign invasion with sexual humiliation. In short, it was an attempt to make legitimate heroism impossible for Iraqis, to stain public memory of resistance with images of utter disgrace. To invoke “support our troops” in this context is to embrace complete moral degeneracy.

A better option would be to widely publicize and critique the civilian leaders who craft such policies, and degrade our troops in the name of honoring them. “Support our troops – dispatch Donald Rumsfeld to jail,” should have been a national slogan years ago. Today, we have just as much reason to call for the same for Barack Obama – our first African-American president, who overthrew a Libyan government with the highest standard of living in Africa, leaving the country to the mercy of murderous and plundering gangs.

Service? Honor? Respect? What have any of these words to do with the role of the U.S. military in the world today? What is honorable about occupying Afghanistan in the service of a government so corrupt it makes the Taliban seem preferable? How is respect cultivated by mass murder of civilians by drones? What kind of “service” is involved in establishing an international network of torture centers in defiance of international law and basic morality?

Yes, let’s honor our troops, not by continuing the atrocities that degrade them, but by abolishing the imperial military and developing a real national defense policy to replace it.

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ten Explosive U.S. Government Secrets about Israel

Absent greater transparency, Americans should assume the worst

By Grant F. Smith | IRmep

In 1968 Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms wrote urgently to Attorney General Ramsey Clark and President Lyndon B. Johnson that some highly enriched uranium fueling Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor was stolen from America. LBJ reportedly uttered, “Don’t tell anyone else, even [Secretary of State] Dean Rusk and [Defense Secretary] Robert McNamara.” The FBI immediately launched a deep investigation into the inexplicably heavy losses at the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation NUMEC in Pennsylvania and the highly suspicious activities and Israeli connections of the Americans running it. The CIA was tasked to find out what was going on in Israel, and compiled thousands of documents about the incident. (PDF) Although CIA officials in a position to now unofficially went on record claiming a diversion had occurred, for decades the CIA has thwarted declassification and release of the LBJ memos. On October 18, 2013 the only appeals panel with the power to overrule the CIA—the Inter-agency Security Classification Appeals Panel ISCAP—sent notification that Americans are not yet ready to know the contents of the memos (ISCAP decision PDF). This denial of public release of decades-old secrets concerning U.S.-Israel relations is far from unique.  Although the Obama administration promised unprecedented transparency, it has emasculated the public’s ability to give informed consent on a wide range of key foreign policy issues. A review of ten particularly toxic U.S. secrets about Israel suggests stakeholders should start assuming the worst but most logical explanation.

In 2006 former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously told reporters at an Iraq war briefing “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” Bush administration secrecy and Rumsfeld’s pithy quotes failed to quell gradual public awareness that the ill-fated invasion was launched on purposely fabricated pretexts. And yet the Iraq debacle could have been avoided if Americans had been better informed over time how government truly functions through greater access to the fourth category left unmentioned by Rumsfeld:  “unknown knowns.”

“Unknown knowns” are the paradigm-shifting bits of information known only by a select few in government but kept from their fellow American citizens because they would reveal indefensible, secret policies and institution-level corruption that favor a special interest. By locking “unknown knowns” under heavy guard in document archives, covering them in secrecy classification stamps and making an example out of whistleblowers who release them without authorization, busy bureaucrats with the highest security clearances maintain a vast and growing trove of “unknown knowns.” Historians and watchdog organizations are continually thwarted in their mandate to contextualize and educate the public about relevant past events that could deeply inform the governed—and ultimately improve governance. Senator Carl Schurz said, “My country right or wrong, if right, to be kept right, and if wrong, to be set right.” “Unknown knowns” obliterate the public’s ability to execute the latter two-thirds of that sage advice.

Even the passage of time does not guarantee “unknown knowns” ever become “known knowns.” Under current government records preservation guidelines—particularly for information that researchers are not actively seeking to declassify— some “unknown knowns” quietly become “unknown unknowns” as they decay, are physically destroyed, erased or “lost.” Many knowledgeable former officials take their secrets to the grave. As a product of the ill-gotten power and influence of the Israel lobby, the pile of “unknown knowns” about U.S.-Israel policy is particularly large. Curious Americans who rightfully question official narratives about the U.S.-Israel “special relationship” have often requested “known unknowns” under the Freedom of Information Act.  Former government insiders who know firsthand about explosive secrets often seek their public release to alert others using the Mandatory Declassification Review, even requesting documents by name, subject, location, author and date. After such “unknown knowns” (like the LBJ memos) are unsuccessfully sought for decades by multiple researchers, well-warranted suspicions arise about the reasons behind the impermeable government wall of refusal. The following ten US-Israel policy “unknown knowns” suggest the Israel lobby’s ongoing corrupt power is the only possible explanation for why they are still secret.

1. Henry Morgenthau Jr’s Israel policy is the stuff of legend in accounts about the birth of Israel. Some researchers claim that FDR’s former Treasury Secretary was present at the original 1945 meeting of American Zionists with Jewish Agency executive director David Ben-Gurion to set up the massive Haganah smuggling network to steal, illegally buy and smuggle surplus WWII arms from the U.S. to Jewish fighters in Palestine. (report PDF) This was the first major broadly organized Israel lobby challenge to U.S. sovereignty. It successfully overrode American policy enshrined in neutrality and arms export laws.  Others claim Morgenthau was also instrumental in the illicit financing Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program in direct opposition to policy set by American presidents.

The FBI’s dusty 10,000 page file on Morgenthau, numbered 105-HQ-188123 (the 105 code signifies “foreign counterintelligence”) including intercepts to Morgenthau from Israel, could finally clear up many of these allegations, especially when compared to current research. Although the FBI—after a process that began in 2010—in September 2013 claims it has fully declassified the Morgenthau file, censors have blanked out nearly every page with a paint-roller of black ink (sample PDF). How do high officials with strong ties to Israel and its lobby who are politically appointed to the U.S. Treasury Department flout U.S. laws with their own foreign-coordinated foreign policy movements? The FBI and Justice Department do not believe Americans are quite yet ready to know.

2. Eisenhower and the Lavon Affair.  In 1954, the Israeli government launched its “Operation Susannah” false flag terrorist attack on U.S. facilities in Egypt.  Israel’s operatives were quickly arrested when bombs exploded prematurely.  The operation’s utter failure resulted in a political crisis known as the Lavon Affair.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower, periodically swarmed by American Zionist Council lobbyists urging him to send money and arms to Israel, must have learned some very hard lessons about U.S.-Israel relations from the incident. Yet the Eisenhower presidential archive—which is not subject to FOIA—has never released anything revelatory about the administration’s reaction to the attempted false flag attack. A narrow request for such files yielded only a single non-specific declassified opinion that the commander-in-chief believed the Israelis were “fanatics.” (National Security Council PDF) Yet the false flag operation‘s objective, attacking to keep U.S. troops stationed in the Suez Canal Zone to respond to “Egyptian militants,” seemed entirely rational to Israel, and possibly to some of its U.S. supporters who struggled for years afterwards to minimize the importance of the affair. Today Eisenhower library archivists claim that huge quantities of Eisenhower’s papers are still “unprocessed,” but may hold some private reflections or lessons learned.

3. Israeli theft of nuclear material from NUMEC. In 2013, the CIA continues to resist release of thousands of files about the NUMEC diversion by referring to CIA Deputy Director for Operations John H. Stein’s secret decision in 1979 (2013 FOIA denial PDF).  Stein claimed that release of even a few of CIA’s closely-held files—especially if they were compared with Science Advisor of the Interior Commission Henry Meyer’s blunt allegations (PDF) to Congressman Morris Udall in 1979 that NUMEC was an Israeli smuggling front—was impossible “because of the need to have a coordinated Executive Branch position and our desire to protect a sensitive and valuable liaison equity.” In plain English, that appears to mean Americans still cannot have official CIA confirmation of the uranium theft because the U.S. president would have to drop the ongoing nonsense of “strategic ambiguity” and forgo intelligence Israel is funneling to America.

4. FBI files of Israeli (but not Russian) spies Russia’s dashing red-headed spy, Anna Chapman, was arrested in 2010 and sent packing back to Russia. Any interested American can now watch Chapman’s moves in surveillance videos and read the FBI counterintelligence files. Not so with most of Israel’s top spies who targeted American economic, nuclear and national defense infrastructure. The United States are still crawling with Israeli spies (our “constant companion” according to intelligence expert Jeff Stein). The 2010 revelations of nuclear equipment smuggling from Telogy (prohibited export smuggling PDF) in California and Stewart Nozette’s 1998-2008 Israel Aerospace Industries-funded penetrations of classified U.S. information storehouses around Washington reveal that while Israeli spying has never stopped, secret prosecution strategies now emphasize quietly rolling up Israeli operations via industry regulators, fines and penalties or isolating and entrapping American spies on lesser charges but steering around their Israeli handlers.

Unlike its treatment of information requests about Russian spies, the FBI and Justice Department have denied every individual FOIA request for the files of major Israeli spies. Access to Rafael Eitan’s many harmful exploits against U.S. targets are banned from release unless Eitan personally waives his privacy rights (FOIA denial). The FBI claimed it can no longer find files about deceased nuclear espionage mastermind Avraham Hermoni, even though his name appears across many previously released NUMEC files  (FOIA denial PDF). Flooding from Hurricane Sandy is the excuse the FBI gives for not being able to find files on spy-for-Israel Ben Ami-Kadish (Flood FOIA denial PDF).  One might argue it is merely a series of unfortunate events that keeps Israeli spy files out of public hands, except that the Justice Department has now issued a blanket ban on declassifying any files about the FBI’s decades-long counterintelligence tango with Israel’s Mossad. (Justice Department blanket denial PDF).

The results of the Justice Department’s kid-glove approach to Israel propagates into mandatory counterintelligence reports to Congress. Although Israel unambiguously ranked as a top economic and national defense intelligence threat in past assessments of agencies like the Office of National Counterintelligence Executive, because criminal prosecution strategies toward Israel (through not Iran, Russia or China) have been undermined from within, Israel has disappeared from the most current reports.

 5. Jonathan J. Pollard’s most heinous crime. Israel’s only American spy ever to do serious time in jail—despite the best efforts of his many American and Israeli supporters to spring him—once confidently claimed before he was convicted that “…it was the established policy of the Department of Justice not to prosecute U.S. citizens for espionage activities on behalf of Israel.” Many believe it was only Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger’s classified briefing to sentencing Judge Aubry Robinson that made Pollard the near sole exception to that curious rule.

Some Pentagon insiders and national security reporters believe Pollard’s sentence was so harsh because Israel used stolen U.S. intelligence as “trade goods” with the Soviet Union to increase Russian émigrés to Israel. As Pollard’s sentence draws to a close, few know exactly what Weinberger told Robinson that caused him to deliver a life sentence. The recent partial releases of a CIA damage assessment and a DIA video about Pollard shed little light.

In 2010, the Department of Defense disclaimed all ownership of the still-classified “Weinberger declaration” passing the FOIA ball to the Justice Department’s Criminal Division (FOIA transfer PDF).  In a novel approach, the Executive Office of US Attorneys now claims that it cannot find its own copy but that FOIA does not require EOUSA FOIA officers to travel two blocks to the DC District Court to retrieve a sealed copy of the memorandum for review (FOIA denial PDF) or even ask DOD for a copy.  The National Archives and Records Administration Office of Government Information Services OGIS agrees that there is no “duty for agencies to retrieve records that are not physically present in their own files.” Although the 2008 case of Ben-Ami Kadish proves the Pollard espionage ring was much larger than was publicly disclosed in the late 1980s, the FBI has also not allowed release of its Jonathan Pollard investigation files (FOIA denial PDF) for overdue public review of how the investigation might have—like many others—been short-circuited by the Department of Justice because it involved Israel.

6. Wiretap of AIPAC pushing for a US war on Iran. When AIPAC executives Keith Weissman and Steven J. Rosen dialed up Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler in 2004, they were determined to leverage purloined classified U.S. national defense information into a story that Iran was engaged in “total war” against the US in Iraq. FBI special agents played audio intercepts of their pitch to AIPAC’s legal counsel and AIPAC promptly fired the pair to distance itself from activities it had long supported. Rosen and Weisman were later indicted under the Espionage Act, although the case was later quashed under an intense Israel lobby pressure campaign shortly after President Obama entered office.

What exactly did AIPAC’s two officials tell the Washington Post in its unrelenting drive to gin up a U.S. war with Iran? A decade later, the U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t believe the American public is entitled to hear a tape long ago played to AIPAC’s lawyer Nathan Lewin, even as AIPAC continues to agitate for more wars. (MDR denial PDF)

  7. Niger uranium forgery underwriters. Although Ike may or may not have worried much about the implications of Operation Susannah, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee certainly did. A secret memo touched off years of Senate and Justice Department investigations into Israel lobbying over fears that American operatives might engage in other overseas clandestine provocations aimed at duping the U.S. into ill-advised conflicts that would benefit Israel (the short memo references the Lavon affair twice). The Iraq war proves those fears were well-founded.

Many have long suspected that the Niger uranium forgeries, fake documents the Bush administration trumpeted to falsely accuse Iraq of buying uranium from Africa for nuclear weapons, were chartered by American neoconservatives in order to provide a pretext they desperately needed for war. Perhaps the FBI’s investigation into the matter definitively proves it. However, despite years of requests for the 1,000 pages of that investigation, the FBI after initially duly proceeding with a FOIA, has now suddenly clammed up. (Niger uranium denial PDF)

8. Israel lobbyists embedded in the Treasury and Justice Departments. Israel lobbying organizations have been very effective at embedding their operatives in key positions across the Federal government, such as Stuart Levey in the Treasury Department’s economic warfare unit, or former AIPAC director Tom Dine as a contractor at the floundering US government-funded Arabic-language broadcaster Alhurra. It used to be possible to get a phone directory or conduct a comprehensive audit of which key political appointees (and the people they brought in) were running critical divisions of federal agencies by obtaining detailed Office of Personnel Management and other public records. Not anymore. (FOIA response PDF) Leveraging heightened post-911 sensitivities, the US Treasury Department now claims the same protections against disclosure formerly enjoyed only by intelligence agency employees.

Since the 1940s, the U.S. Department of Justice has earned a reputation as a place where Israel lobby criminal investigations go to die.  Justice is also where an AIPAC official like Neil Sher can while away a few years on pet projects at taxpayer expense before moving on to more lucrative outside work. DOJ also routinely denies files about its past official decisions not to pursue criminal cases on the basis that doing so could jeopardize privacy, ongoing investigations, or factors underlying its coveted “prosecutorial discretion” (e.g. charging the disenfranchised but not powerful insiders for wrongdoing). Like Treasury, it is now almost impossible to survey and produce an organization chart of the Israel lobby’s political appointees embedded at high and mid-level Justice Department posts or the biographies of the staff  and contractors they bring in with them.

9. Unclassified IDA report about US charities funding the Israeli nuclear weapons program. Sensitive reports need not be classified for the government to hang on to them indefinitely. In 1987 the Institute for Defense Analyses delivered an unclassified report to the Department of Defense titled “Critical Technology Issues in Israel.” The study implicates the Israeli Weizmann Institute for Science and Technology in nuclear weapons research, raising deep questions about the group’s U.S. tax-exempt charitable fundraising and U.S. commitment to enforce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Department of Defense withheld the IDA report from release on the basis of FOIA exemptions covering trade secrets and “intra-agency communications protected by the deliberative process privilege,” among others. (FOIA denial PDF)

10. Justification for NSA funneling raw intelligence on Americans to Israel. If former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has taught Americans anything, it is that “unknown knowns” are usually even worse than many might have first imagined. Some careful observers knew about massive NSA surveillance, while others alerted the public about the danger of “backdoor” U.S. intelligence flows to Israel. But who ever suspected the NSA was shipping wholesale raw intercepts gathered on Americans to Israel under a secret deal struck in 2009? No government that wholly denies such relevant information can claim legitimacy via consent of the governed. There can be little doubt why these ten files are kept closed: it serves the Israel lobby. The means by which this closure is sustained is also no secret.  The millions of dollars that line politician’s pockets, promote media pundits and quietly spirit political appointees into key gatekeeper positions maintain closed files and prevent informed public debate.

Because of this, Americans should proceed assuming the worst conceivable, most logical explanation for any given U.S.-Israel “unknown known” is correct—until proven otherwise.  Under this guideline, it is prudent to believe that LBJ—properly warned by his intelligence services and advisors that Israel was stealing the most precious military material on earth from America—was simply too marinated in Israel lobby campaign cash to faithfully uphold his oath of office. It is similarly reasonable to believe the Justice Department and FBI won’t release Israeli spy files because Americans would finally understand that, despite massive ongoing harm to America, political appointees in the Justice Department thwart warranted prosecutions.  DOJ finds it much easier to stay “on message” through a long line of lobby-approved but mostly bogus “Islamic terrorism cases” (many made via sketchy undercover informants goading members of targeted minority communities into “terror” plots). According to its own records, every time it tried to uphold the law in the 1940s the DOJ suddenly found itself internally and externally swarmed by Israel lobbyists with inexhaustible financial war chests and legal experts working to quash warranted prosecutions in secret coordination with Israel.  The DOJ now likely believes it can never win against Israel lobby generated media and political agitation when it moves to prosecute, and has now simply given up.

It is logical to assume that Israel was found selling out America to the Soviets in Pollard’s case, since little else explains the unusually harsh impact of Weinberger’s secret memo.  It is similarly likely that the FBI’s AIPAC wiretaps would, if released today, accurately reveal Rosen and Weissman to be what they actually were—unregistered foreign agents operating on behalf of and in ongoing contact with the Israeli government rather than legitimate domestic lobbyists.  It is similarly more productive to assume that at least one neoconservative operative with strong ties to the involved entities in Italy—such as Michael Ledeen—served as barker to the Italian sideshow that disseminated forged documents.

According to documents released by Edward Snowden, the transfer of raw NSA intercepts on American citizens to Israel was authorized under a secret doctrine that “the survival of the state of Israel is a paramount goal of US Middle East policy.” This “prime directive” was probably a secret because it is a blank check obligating American blood and treasure to a cause American citizens never approved via advise and consent. But why did the Obama administration—even as it dismissed espionage charges against AIPAC staff in 2009—so deeply betray American privacy?  Under “unknown known” doctrine, most would assume that like LBJ before him, Obama sold out America because his Israel lobby handlers secretly demanded and paid for it on behalf of a foreign country.  What other goodies Obama doled out to Israel in exchange for help gaining the highest office remain to emerge.

The official process for obtaining official public disclosure of “known unknowns”—the Freedom of Information Act—does not function when the stakes in disclosure are high and Israeli interests are involved. Agencies (and ISCAP) correctly perceive government credibility is at stake when there is real openness, and that bona fide transparency would positively impact how government behaves. Visibly corrupt federal government officials and institutions are counting on continued secrecy to accumulate illegitimate power by undermining public accountability.

October 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Should We Fall Again for ‘Trust Me’?

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | September 3, 2013

In a dazzling display of chutzpah, the White House is demanding that Congress demonstrate blind trust in a U.S. intelligence establishment headed by James Clapper, a self-confessed perjurer.

That’s a lot to ask in seeking approval for a military attack on Syria, a country posing no credible threat to the United States. But with the help of the same corporate media that cheer-led us into war with Iraq, the administration has already largely succeeded in turning public discussion into one that assumes the accuracy of both the intelligence on the apparent Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria and President Barack Obama’s far-fetched claim that Syria is somehow a threat to the United States.

Here we go again with the old political gamesmanship over ”facts” as a prelude to war, a replay of intelligence trickery from Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin to Iraq’s nonexistent WMD. Once more, White House officials are mounting a full-court press in Congress, hoping there will be enough ball turnovers to enable the administration to pull out a victory, with the corporate media acting as hometown referees.

And in the weekend talk shows, Secretary of State John Kerry, team co-captain in this transparent effort to tilt the playing field, certainly had his game face on. Kerry left little doubt that he KNOWS that the Syrian government is guilty of launching a chemical weapons attack on suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21. How do we know he knows? Simple: It’s “Trust me” once again.

Did you not watch Kerry’s bravura performance before the TV cameras on Friday when he hawked the dubious evidence against the Syrian government? Someone should tell Kerry that using the word “know” 35 times does not suffice to dispel well-founded doubts and continuing ambiguities about the “intelligence,” such as it is. The administration’s white paper, issued to support Kerry’s “knowledge,” didn’t provide a single verifiable fact that established Syrian government guilt. [See Consortiumnews.com’sA Dodgy Dossier on Syrian War.”]

But with his bravado, Kerry’s ploy was obvious – to sweep aside serious questions about the evidence and move the discussion simply to one of how much punishment should be inflicted on Syria. “So now that we know what we know, the question … is: What will we do?” Kerry said Friday.

But, Mr. Kerry, please not so fast with your attempt to do an Iraq War number on us. Frankly, asking us to simply trust you (especially after your 2002 vote for President George W. Bush’s Iraq War resolution) is too much to ask. Given the disease of prevarication circulating like a virus among top intelligence officials, one would have to have been “born yesterday” (to use one of Harry Truman’s expressions) to take you at your word.

And, there are hopeful signs that Congress, which has been fooled more than once before, may see through this latest rush to judgment. “Yes, I saw the classified documents,” Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, told The Hill newspaper. “They were pretty thin.”

Some lawmakers are even stating another obvious point; i.e., that even with congressional approval, a military strike on Syria would be not only an international crime, but also unconstitutional because of the Constitution’s supremacy clause making treaties the supreme law of the land.

Under the United Nations Treaty, signatories like the U.S. pledge not to use – or even threaten to use – military force against another nation without U.N. Security Council approval or unless already attacked or in imminent danger of attack. None of those conditions apply here.

So, even if the “intelligence” against Syria were air-tight (which it isn’t) and if Congress approves a use-of-force resolution, the U.S. Constitution still requires that we abide by the U.N. Treaty and obtain Security Council approval. How can lawyers like Obama and Kerry ignore such basics?

There are also other options for punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if there’s real evidence that he was complicit in the Aug. 21 attack. Like other leaders accused of war crimes, he can be indicted by the International Criminal Court or subjected to a special war-crimes tribunal. Yet, instead of following those legal strategies, which are specifically designed for these sorts of situations, President Obama proposes punishing one alleged war crime by committing another.

Intelligence? A Sow’s Ear

But there remains the key question of establishing the Assad government’s guilt and whether the Obama administration’s “high-confidence” assessment about that point is justified. It is a time-honored (or, better, time-dishonored) custom for White House officials bent on war to distort or even manufacture “intelligence” to justify their aims, especially after they’ve gone public with their “knowledge.”

On this point, I can say – “with high confidence” – that the White House is at it again, perpetrating another fraud on Congress and the American people. And most of the U.S. mainstream press has elbowed past the many questions about the quality of the intelligence and has moved on to discussing whether President Obama will “win” or “lose” the congressional vote, whether partisanship will spill over into foreign policy hurting America’s “credibility” to look tough.

Was it just a little over a decade ago that we watched President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney create out of whole cloth intelligence to “justify” war on Iraq while the U.S. press corps mostly acted as stenographers and cheerleaders? Mistakes are forgivable; fraud is not; neither is cowardice in the face of a misguided rush to war. And the fact that not a single senior Bush administration official was held accountable compounds the problem.

Since many Americans, malnourished as they are by the corporate media, need to be reminded, let’s say it again: The pre-Iraq “intelligence” was not mistaken; it was fraudulent. And, sad to say, then-CIA Director George Tenet and his malleable managers were willing accomplices in that fraud. You need not take my word for it.

Just five years ago, in June 2008, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, announced the conclusions of a five-year committee investigation into pre-Iraq War intelligence approved by a bipartisan majority of 10-5 (Republican Senators Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe voting with the Democratic majority). Emphasizing the committee’s conclusion that the Bush administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence, Rockefeller declared, “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

Pressure on Intelligence Analysts

My former CIA analyst colleague, Paul R. Pillar, who, as National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East before the attack on Iraq, experienced up-front and personal the extreme pressure that intelligence analysts feel when a president has decided to make war, addressed this problem recently in “The Risk of Distorting Intelligence.” Pillar pointed out that an Associated Press story on the Obama administration’s preparation of the public for a military strike on Syria included these statements:

“The White House ideally wants intelligence that links the attack [with chemical weapons] directly to Assad or someone in his inner circle, to rule out the possibility that a rogue element of the military act[ed] without Assad’s authorization. That quest for added intelligence has delayed the release of the report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence laying out evidence against Assad. … The CIA and the Pentagon have been working to gather more human intelligence tying Assad to the attack.”

Pillar adds, “When one hears that policy-makers want not just intelligence on a particular subject but intelligence that supports a particular conclusion about that subject, antennae ought to go up. A ‘quest’ for conclusion-bolstering material is fundamentally different from an open-minded use of intelligence to inform policy decisions yet to be made. It is instead a matter of making a public (and Congressional) case to support a decision already made.”

This was the kind of highly politicized “policy kitchen” in which intelligence analysts and other officials were pressured to serve as cooks whipping up the frothy broth labeled “Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons,” lauded by Secretary of State Kerry on Friday. The manner in which it was issued shows it to be a “policy statement,” NOT an “intelligence summary,” as widely described in the media. And, clearly, there were too many cooks involved.

In contrast to key past issuances of similarly high political sensitivity, the “Government Assessment” released on Friday does not appear under the letterhead of the Director of National Intelligence as was the case, for example, with the official statement issued on Sept. 28, 2012, “on the intelligence related to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.”

This break in customary practice may have been simply a function of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper being in such bad odor among those lawmakers who still care about truth. Clapper has confessed to telling Congress, under oath, “clearly erroneous” things about the  National Security Agency’s surveillance abuses.

Thus, the administration runs some risk in trotting out Clapper this week to testify before the intelligence and national security committees of Congress. Perhaps the White House has decided it has to rely on Clapper’s demonstrated gift for lying with a straight face (though sweaty pate); or it may be counting on short-term memory loss on the part of the many superannuated and/or distracted members of Congress.

Clapper’s Record

Well before Obama appointed him Director of National Intelligence three years ago, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper showed himself to be a subscriber to the George Tenet doctrine of compliant malleability, having helped Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld falsify the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Did no one tell Obama about Clapper’s key role in the cooking of intelligence before the Iraq War?

Rumsfeld handpicked Clapper to be the first civilian director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), where he served during the crucial period of September 2001 to June 2006. NGA’s responsibilities included analysis of satellite imagery – the most capable and likely collection resource to discover weapons of mass destruction facilities in Iraq or to verify Iraqi “defector” reports of hidden WMD caches.

So why didn’t NGA point out the absence of WMD evidence or note the many discrepancies in the stories being told by the “defectors” – many of whom were coached by the pro-invasion Iraqi National Congress? The answer: Clapper knew which side his bread was buttered on. Instead of speaking truth to power, he not only fell in with the Tenet school of obeisance, but also glommed onto Donald Rumsfeld’s aphorism: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Working for Rumsfeld, Clapper’s job, pure and simple, was to stifle any untutored-to-the-ways-of-Washington analyst who might ask unwelcome questions like: Could the reason there is not a trace of Iraqi WMD in any of the satellite imagery be that there is none there – and that the Pentagon’s favorite “defectors” are lying through their teeth?

When no WMD caches were found, it was Clapper who suggested, without a shred of evidence, that Saddam Hussein had sent the phantom WMD to Syria, a theory that also was pushed by neocons both to deflect criticism of their false assurances about Iraq’s WMD and to open a new military front against another Israeli nemesis, Syria.  (It appears that time may have finally come.)

On more substantive issues – like the key one, “why they hate us” – Clapper has advanced some imaginative theories about what makes terrorists tick. It’s “self-radicalization,” you see. Clapper promoted this bedeviling concept while a nominee for the post of Director of National Intelligence, which he – having played fast and loose with the truth, aside – still occupies.

At his nomination hearing Clapper was asked by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, about lessons drawn from the investigation of Army Major Nidal Hasan, the psychiatrist sentenced to death last week for killing 13 people at Fort Hood. Clapper responded that “self-radicalization” is a “daunting challenge. … I don’t have the answer to the challenge; identification of self-radicalization may not lend itself to detection by intelligence agencies. … It’s almost like detecting tendencies for suicide ahead of time.”

Still Far From a Silk Purse

If intelligence community leaders have any pride left, they may also have been embarrassed by how last Friday’s “Government Assessment” fit the old bureaucratic image of a camel as the arch-typical horse designed by committee. Seldom have my intelligence alumni colleagues and I seen a more meandering, repetitive, fulsome document. Full of verisimilitude, the document nonetheless includes this key acknowledgment: “Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence can take short of confirmation.”

It seems a safe bet that during the next two weeks’ testimony before the various national security committees of the Senate and House, Kerry and Clapper will claim that additional intelligence has “confirmed” what until now has been simply the “assessments” of the U.S. government. Let’s hope that lawmakers have the good sense to ask for actual evidence that can withstand independent scrutiny.

Colin Powell’s meretricious U.N. speech on Feb. 5, 2003, was at least well crafted and persuasively presented. In a same-day assessment, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) gave him an A for presentation, while almost flunking him (with a C-minus) for substance. In our Memorandum for the President that day, we urged that the discussion be widened beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we saw no compelling reason and from which we believed the unintended consequences were likely to be catastrophic.

If President Obama would let us in the door, we would tell him the same thing today, since he has surrounded himself with a menagerie of “tough guys and gals” as well as some neocons and neocons-lite. Before Kerry went on TV Friday, VIPS had already warned Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey “there are serious problems with the provenance and nature of the ‘intelligence’ that is being used to support the need for military action.” Those problems remain.

Tonkin Gulf

From my own personal life experience, there was another good example of how the prostitution of intelligence works: When the Tonkin Gulf incident (used to “justify” the Vietnam War) took place 49 years ago, I was a journeyman CIA analyst in what Condoleezza Rice has called “the bowels of the agency.” As an intelligence analyst responsible for Russian policy toward Southeast Asia and China, I worked very closely with those doing analysis on Vietnam and China.

At the time, the U.S. had about 16,000 troops in South Vietnam, but there was mounting political pressure to dramatically expand the U.S. troop levels to prevent a Communist victory. President Lyndon Johnson feared that Republicans would blame him for “losing Vietnam” the way some tarred Harry Truman for “losing China.” So the Gulf of Tonkin incident – North Vietnamese allegedly firing on a U.S. destroyer in international waters – offered Johnson the chance both to look tough and to get a congressional carte blanche for a wider war.

Those of us in intelligence – not to mention President Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy – knew full well that the evidence of any North Vietnamese attack on the evening of Aug. 4, 1964, the so-called “second” Tonkin Gulf incident, was highly dubious.

But it fit the President’s purposes. The North Vietnamese could be presented as aggressors attacking a U.S. ship on a routine patrol in international waters. To make the scam work, however, the American people and members of Congress had to be kept in the dark about the actual facts of the case, all the better to whip them into a war frenzy.

Only years later was the fuller story revealed. During the summer of 1964, President Johnson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were eager to widen the war in Vietnam. They stepped up sabotage and hit-and-run attacks on the coast of North Vietnam. Defense Secretary McNamara later admitted that he and other senior leaders had concluded that the seaborne attacks “amounted to little more than pinpricks” and “were essentially worthless,” but they continued.

Concurrently, the National Security Agency was ordered to collect signals intelligence from the North Vietnamese coast on the Gulf of Tonkin, and the coastal attacks were seen as a helpful way to get the North Vietnamese to turn on their coastal radars. The destroyer USS Maddox, carrying electronic spying gear, was authorized to approach as close as eight miles from the coast and four miles from offshore islands, some of which already had been subjected to intense shelling by clandestine attack boats.

As James Bamford describes it in Body of Secrets: “The twin missions of the Maddox were in a sense symbiotic. The vessel’s primary purpose was to act as a seagoing provocateur — to poke its sharp gray bow and the American flag as close to the belly of North Vietnam as possible, in effect shoving its 5-inch cannons up the nose of the Communist navy. In turn, this provocation would give the shore batteries an excuse to turn on as many coastal defense radars, fire control systems, and communications channels as possible, which could then be captured by the men … at the radar screens. The more provocation, the more signals…

“The Maddox’ mission was made even more provocative by being timed to coincide with commando raids, creating the impression that the Maddox was directing those missions and possibly even lobbing firepower in their support. … North Vietnam also claimed at least a twelve-mile limit and viewed the Maddox as a trespassing ship deep within its territorial waters.”

On Aug. 2, 1964, an intercepted message ordered North Vietnamese torpedo boats to attack the Maddox. The destroyer was alerted and raced out to sea beyond reach of the torpedoes, three of which were fired in vain at the destroyer’s stern. The Maddox’s captain suggested that the rest of his mission be called off, but the Pentagon refused. And still more commando raids were launched on Aug. 3, shelling for the first time targets on the mainland, not just the offshore islands.

Early on Aug. 4, the Maddox captain cabled his superiors that the North Vietnamese believed his patrol to be directly involved with the commando raids and shelling. That evening at 7:15 (Vietnam time) the Pentagon alerted the Maddox to intercepted messages indicating that another attack by patrol boats was imminent.

What followed was panic and confusion. There was a score of reports of torpedo and other hostile attacks, but no damage and growing uncertainty as to whether any attack actually took place. McNamara was told that “freak radar echoes” were misinterpreted by “young fellows” manning the sonar, who were “apt to say any noise is a torpedo.”

This did not prevent McNamara from testifying to Congress two days later that there was “unequivocal proof” of a new attack. And based largely on that, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf resolution allowing Johnson to escalate the war with intense aerial bombardments and the dispatch of more than a half million U.S. troops, 58,000 who would die along with estimates of several million Vietnamese and other people of Indochina.

Meanwhile, in ‘the Bowels’

However, by the afternoon of Aug. 4, 1964, the CIA’s expert analyst on North Vietnam (let’s call him “Tom”) had concluded that probably no one had fired on the U.S. ships. He included a paragraph to that effect in the item he wrote for the Current Intelligence Bulletin, which would be wired to the White House and other key agencies and appear in print the next morning.

And then something unique happened. The Director of the Office of Current Intelligence, a very senior officer whom Tom had never before seen, descended into the bowels of the agency to order the paragraph deleted. He explained: “We’re not going to tell LBJ that now. He has already decided to bomb North Vietnam. We have to keep our lines open to the White House.”

“Tom” later bemoaned — quite rightly: “What do we need open lines for, if we’re not going to use them, and use them to tell the truth?”

The late Ray S. Cline, who as Deputy Director for Intelligence was the current-intelligence director’s boss at the time of the Tonkin Gulf incident, said he was “very sure” that no attack took place on Aug. 4. He suggested that McNamara had shown the President unevaluated signals intelligence that referred to the (real) earlier attack on Aug. 2 rather than the non-event on the 4th. There was no sign of remorse on Cline’s part that he didn’t step in and make sure the President was told the truth.

Though we in the bowels of the agency knew there was no Aug. 4 attack – and so did some of our superiors – everyone also knew, as did McNamara, that President Johnson was lusting for a pretext to strike the North and escalate the war. And, like B’rer Rabbit, nobody said nothin’.

Let’s hope that, this time on Syria, at least one or two senior intelligence or policy officials will find a way to get the truth out – heeding their own conscience and oath to support and defend the Constitution – rather than succumb to the ever-present temptation to give priority to being part of the President’s “team.”

Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served in CIA from the administrations of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush, including as drafter and briefer of the President’s Daily Brief under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Should We Fall Again for ‘Trust Me’?

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 | , , , , | Comments Off on US military funded, oversaw detention and torture sites during Iraq invasion

Rumsfeld’s Papers: The Perennial Anti-Syrian

Yitzhak Shamir (R) meets with Ronald Reagan (L) in the oval office at the White House. (Photo: Al-Akhbar)
By Sabah Ayoub | Al Akhbar | June 28, 2012

In the second installment of “Rumsfeld’s Lebanon Papers,” Al-Akhbar publishes the minutes of his meetings with the Israeli prime minister and defense minister at the end of 1983.

Rumsfeld does not request anything from the Israelis, nor does he interrogate them like he does with Lebanese and Arab counterparts. His meetings with the Israelis are closer to deliberations concerning common interests.

In the published documents going back to the period between 2001 and 2006, the most noteworthy seems to be a memo written following the 11 September 2001 attacks.

In the memo, Rumsfeld explains his “war on terror” strategy and its main objectives to former US President George W. Bush.

It spells out five main steps in the war, including “Syria out of Lebanon.” This came true four years later following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on 14 February 2005.

Rumsfeld Engineers a Lebanese Propaganda Campaign Against Syria

Following a shuttle diplomacy tour of the Middle East, Rumsfeld presented the results of his visit to five Democratic and Republican congressmen, in a breakfast meeting on 24 January 1984.

Rumsfeld spoke about “state-sponsored terrorism,” “those who don’t share our values,” and “the radical wing” (terms that would be later heard in the Bush era).

The US envoy warned about “the radical wing” gaining ground in the Arab world, which is made up of Syria, Iran, Libya, and South Yemen.

He tried to convince the participants of the necessity of keeping US forces in Lebanon. “If we decide as a country […] that we can thus use only diplomatic and economic means to pursue mid- to long-range US goals, we will have effectively yielded the field to those who don’t share our values,” he said.

He was asked about the reason why US troops should remain in Lebanon although it is not geographically strategic and in circumstances that makes them easy targets for the Soviets and their proxies.

Rumsfeld replied that a pullout from Lebanon “would almost surely bring down the constitutional government.”

In addition, “Jordan is convinced that they are next on the
Syrian list” at a time when King Hussein is being considered as a “linchpin of a rejuvenated peace process with Israel.”

“Syria, virtually the only Soviet card in the Middle East, will have proved that standing up to the US pays dividends,” he maintained. Although he said it was “clear that Assad desires to maintain a line of contact with the West.”

“The IDF remains only 23 kilometers from Damascus,” said Rumsfeld.

On the other hand, a memo dated 3 February 1984, shows Rumsfeld preparing a secret propaganda campaign to support the implementation of the US’s new plans regarding Lebanon’s security.

Rumsfeld said that “Syria and Syrian factions in Lebanon have been winning the public relations battle.” He insisted that the Amin Gemayel government must “unambiguously demonstrate to the world” that they are seeking reconciliation.

Rumsfeld suggested that “this might include publicized requests” by Gemayel for PSP leader Walid Jumblatt and Amal leader Nabih Berri to come to the Presidential Palace and meet with him.

He proposed that Gemayel gives “a public speech well in advance of any possible military step” to say the government has made an offer for national reconciliation but that “Syria and factional leaders” are the ones blocking it.

“In short there needs to be a concentrated public effort to demonstrate that it is Syria that is blocking the political reconciliation process [and] the formation of the GNU [Government of National Unity] […], that is conducting the infiltration into the city of Beirut, [and] that is maintaining artillery within the range of Beirut for political intimidation,” Rumsfeld explained.

He proposed that the idea of Lebanon’s inability to confront Syria on its own, therefore it will need US and/or Israeli support, and the only solution remaining is military.

Yitzhak Shamir: The Lebanese Are Too Soft

“Something must be done to ‘liberate’ Beirut,” Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told US envoy Donald Rumsfeld in a meeting held on 16 January 1983. By “liberate” Shamir meant getting rid of what he called the terrorists. But how?

Shamir said that they “must support Gemayel” politically. On the ground, they must get rid of terrorist targets in Beirut and its suburbs, in a manner similar to the attack on what he called an Iranian Revolutionary Guard training camp in Bekaa that led to 30 persons being killed.

He stressed that Beirut must be cleaned up and that US-Israeli allies must be protected because they are in constant danger.

Shamir warned that Hafez al-Assad will prepare for the “grand war” on Israel after taking control of the PLO. “Syria must also accept the principle that Lebanese territory could not be used by the PLO or the Iranians for terrorist purposes,” he maintained.

Rumsfeld also relayed to Shamir that Gemayel was unhappy with Israeli involvement in attempts to create a Druze “mini-state” in the Chouf region. The Israeli PM replied by saying that the Lebanese side must cooperate better.

He held that “[US] Ambassador [and special envoy to the Middle East Philip] Habib had previously stressed the importance of intelligence cooperation but there had been no results.”

“Gemayel had to realize [that the Druze] wanted to have their piece of the political cake and they had a considerable fighting force to back up their position,” Rumsfeld added.

The both agreed on saying that the Lebanese are “too soft” and “have become accustomed to depending on the support of others.”

On 17 November 1983, Rumsfeld met with the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens to discuss the Lebanese and Syrian conflicts.

Strategically, they agreed on the “necessity for both the US and Israel to bolster [Amin] Gemayel’s position in every possible way” to realize the “shared US-Israeli goals for Lebanon.”

Arens believed that “if the US withdraws its Marines [from Beirut], then Gemayel would be finished” and warned of a prolonged war with Hafez al-Assad in Lebanon.

“If the worst case eventuates, you will take Amin Gemayel out of Beirut and we will end up having to stay in South Lebanon,” Arens continued.

The Israeli Defense Minister indicated that the Lebanese forces will not “fall apart. Their morale is indeed poor and they are upset about what they see as President Gemayel’s mistakes in his not being sufficiently pro-Christian, pro-Israeli, and strong enough in standing up to the Muslims in general and Syrians in particular.”

“Gemayel wants it both ways. He wants to attack us publicly while telling us privately that he needs our help. He wants to tell the Syrians that he detests the Israelis but has to keep the agreement in order to get rid of us, while telling us privately to back him up,” Arens maintained.

Syria Out of Lebanon

On 30 September 2001, just 19 days after the attacks on New York and Washington DC, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sent a memo to President George W. Bush elaborating his “strategic thoughts” on the “war on terrorism,” which should be implemented without haste.

He begins by defining the general framework of the war plans, arguing that “the US strategic theme should be aiding local peoples to rid themselves of terrorists and to free themselves from regimes that support terrorism.”

Practically, “US Special Operations Forces and intelligence personnel should make allies of Afghanis, Iraqis, Lebanese, Sudanese, and others who would use US equipment, training, financial, military, and humanitarian support to root out and attack the common enemies.”

The second practical suggestion was to conduct “some air strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets” in Afghanistan soon.

“We should avoid as much as possible creating images of Americans killing Muslims until we have set the political stage that the people we are going after are the enemies of the Muslims themselves,” he stressed.

One of the main goals of the war “would be to persuade or compel States to stop supporting terrorism. The regimes of such States should see that it will be fatal to host terrorists who attack the US as was done on September 11.”

“If the war does not significantly change the world’s political map, the US will not achieve its aim,” he maintained.

He concluded that the US government “should envision a goal along these lines:
– New regime in Afghanistan and another key State (or two) that supports terrorism,
– Syria out of Lebanon.
– Dismantlement or destruction of WMD capabilities [in two countries whose names have been removed].
– End of [name removed] support to terrorism.
– End of many other countries’ support or tolerance of terrorism.”

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Comments Off on Rumsfeld’s Papers: The Perennial Anti-Syrian

Afghan and Iraqi Victims of Torture by U.S. Military Seek Justice From International Human Rights Tribunal

By Steven Watt | Human Rights Program | March 20, 2012

After being shut out of U.S. courts, yesterday we filed a case with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on behalf of three Afghans and three Iraqis who were tortured while held by the American military at detention centers in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Pictured above are Sherzad Kamal Khalid, left, and Thahe Mohammed Sabbar, in front of the White House during a visit to the U.S. in November 2005.)

The men are part of a group that in 2005 sued then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and three senior military officials in federal court for their torture and abusive treatment. Because that case was dismissed on immunity grounds before reaching the merits, we are taking their case to the IAHCR, an independent human rights body of the Organization of American States. Our petition, the equivalent of a federal legal complaint, asks the commission to conduct a full investigation into the human rights violations and seeks an apology on behalf of the six men from the U.S. government.

Between 2003 and 2004, the men were imprisoned in U.S.-run detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq, where, the petition charges, they were subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment including severe and repeated beatings, cutting with knives, sexual humiliation and assault, mock executions and prolonged restraint in excruciating positions. None of the men were ever charged with a crime.

Because a remedy for these men has been denied in American courts, these courageous men are seeking to hold the U.S. government accountable on the world stage.

One of the victims, Ali Hussein, was only 17 years old when he was detained by the U.S. military in August 2003. He was held for four weeks at Abu Ghraib prison and other locations throughout Iraq. Hussein, who is now a law student, was shot in the neck and back before being arrested. He was denied food, water and pain medication for almost two days after he was shot.. He said that military personnel refused to provide him medical care for several hours, and when the bullets were eventually removed, the procedure was done without anesthetic. You can read more about the abuse that Hussein and the other plaintiffs suffered here.

In a statement yesterday, Hussein said, “I think that I and the many others who suffered unfairly at the hands of the American government deserve justice. We want America to admit that what happened to us was wrong and should never be allowed to happen again to anyone anywhere.”

As our petition highlights, “[t]he U.S. government’s own reports document that the torture and inhumane treatment that the petitioners were subjected to was not an aberration; on the contrary, it was widespread and systemic throughout the U.S.-run detention facilities in the two countries. These same reports also document that the torture and inhumane treatment of detainees were the direct result of policies and practices promulgated and implemented at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Despite these reports and petitioners’ and other detainees’ credible allegations of torture and inhumane treatment, the U.S. government has failed to conduct any comprehensive criminal investigation, has not held accountable those responsible, and has not provided any form of redress to the petitioners and the many other victims and survivors of U.S. torture and abuse.”

A district court dismissed the federal case, Ali v. Rumsfeld, on the grounds that constitutional protections do not apply to foreigners in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and Iraq and that the American officials were immune from lawsuits stemming from actions taken “within the scope of their official duties.” In his March 2007 ruling, Judge Thomas A. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia called the case “appalling,” and noted that “the facts alleged in the complaint stand as an indictment of the humanity with which the United States treats its detainees.” The D.C. appeals court upheld the dismissal last June.

The Ali v. Rumsfeld decision is not unique. It is one of several lawsuits in which victims and survivors of torture have been denied their day in American courts. These cases include Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, a lawsuit against a flight logistics company that facilitated CIA “torture flights” across the globe; El-Masri v. Tenet, a lawsuit brought by a man abducted and sent to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan; and Padilla v. Rumsfeld, a lawsuit brought by a U.S. citizen who was unlawfully detained and abused on U.S. soil (this case is currently pending appeal).

Despite U.S. court’s dismissal of these cases, that the United States tortured and abused many men in pursuit of its so-called “war on terror” is not in dispute. As Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the U.S. Army’s official investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and testified before Congress on his findings in May 2004, has stated publicly: “[t]here is no longer any doubt as to whether the [Bush] Administration committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

Although, to date, no high-ranking government officials have yet been held to account for their actions, yesterday’s filing with the IACHR seeks to do just that and to ensure that the government respects basic human rights, including the right of everyone to be free from torture and inhumane treatment.

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments