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Review of PBS Frontline’s The War Behind Closed Doors

By Hadding Scott | Occidental Quarterly | November 8, 2015

While I was in the midst of trying to publicize the Jewish instigation and the folly of invading Iraq in early 2003 as an occasional writer of scripts for American Dissident Voices,  PBS Frontline presented a rather helpful documentary called The War Behind Closed Doors, written by Michael Kirk, and coproduced by Michael Kirk and Jim Gilmore.

The introduction to The War Behind Closed Doors is quite promising, with Frontline’s narrator stating: “Over two decades, they had served three presidents, and argued for one big idea, that the United States must project its power and influence throughout the world. This is the story of how they set out to change American foreign policy in the days immediately after the tragedy of September 11th.” Then, to be more specific about what that means, the intro includes a clip of former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack saying: “And it does seem very clear that this group seized upon the events of September 11th to resurrect their policy of trying to go after Saddam Hussein and a regime-change in Iraq.” This was a documentary that would clarify who was responsible for the drive for war against Iraq: Neoconservatives — which meant that that the war was not fundamentally about oil.

The documentary describes the path to invasion of Iraq (which seemed imminent but had not yet occurred when the program aired on 20 February 2003) as a struggle between Neoconservatives (also calling themselves “Neo-Reaganites” or “hawks”) led by Paul Wolfowitz, and “pragmatists” or “realists” ostensibly led by Colin Powell. The Neoconservative position was that Saddam Hussein’s government must be destroyed, while the pragmatists, without disputing the Neoconservatives’ provocative claims about Saddam Hussein, advocated containment as the appropriate response.

Brent Scowcroft (a pragmatist who had been an advisor to George H.W. Bush) is shown explaining to an interviewer that George H.W. Bush had deliberately left Saddam Hussein in power in 1991, contrary to what the Neoconservatives had wanted, because it was desirable to preserve a balance of power between Iraq and Iran, and because overthrowing Saddam Hussein might lead to various negative consequences — reasons that in hindsight make excellent sense.

The interviewer, and some other Jewish commentators in the documentary — Kenneth Pollack and Richard Perle — speak as if the goal of the 1991 war had been to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but Scowcroft is adamant that it was not.

LOWELL BERGMAN: I thought we had two interests. One was to evict the Iraqi army from Kuwait, but the other really was to get Saddam out—

BRENT SCOWCROFT: No.

LOWELL BERGMAN: —of power.

BRENT SCOWCROFT: No, it wasn’t.

LOWELL BERGMAN: Well, either covertly or overtly.

BRENT SCOWCROFT: No. No, it wasn’t. That was never — you can’t find that anywhere as an objective, either in the U.N. mandate for what we did or in our declarations, that our goal was to get rid of Saddam Hussein. [PBS Frontline transcript]

The widespread belief that the goal of the 1991 war had been to eliminate Saddam Hussein was supported by the hyperbolic propaganda that had been used. The comparisons of Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler started in the mass-media. In late 1990 President Bush joined the trend by comparing Saddam Hussein (unfavorably) to Hitler, because of the supposed brutality of the Iraqi troops in Kuwait (AP, 2 November 1990).  There was a tendency to see everything in terms of this Hitler comparison, from “He gassed his own people!” to  supposedly unprovoked invasions of neighboring states. Given that President George H.W. Bush had engaged in and never repudiated that kind of crazed propaganda, the first Bush Administration would necessarily be seen as having failed to fulfill a moral imperative when, ultimately, they did the practical thing by leaving Saddam Hussein in power.

In fact, George H. W. Bush did call for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and then refrained from supporting such an effort, as the Neocons have charged. This can be seen either as disingenuous war-rhetoric or as vacillation between the influences of the pragmatists (Scowcroft) and the Neoconservatives (Wolfowitz), or as a combination of the two.

Immediately after the 1991 war, Paul Wolfowitz (as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy) authored a set of military guidelines that would justify preventive war — in other words, war against a state that had not attacked and was not threatening to attack, but might attack someday if not attacked first. Recall that in 1981 the State of Israel had been condemned by the UN Security Council for “preventive war” in its attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor, with the Reagan Administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick,  also voting to condemn. The President of the Security Council, Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, explained:

The reasons on which the Government of Israel bases its contention are as unacceptable as the act of aggression it committed. It is inadmissible to invoke the right to self-defense when no armed attack has taken place. The concept of preventive war, which for many years served as justification for the abuses of powerful States, since it left it to their discretion to define what constituted a threat to them, was definitively abolished by the Charter of the United Nations. [Security Council Official Records, S/PV.2288 19 June 1981]

Wolfowitz was now advocating that the government of the United States adopt the uninhibited belligerence of the State of Israel, using military strikes to maintain hegemony against merely suspected (or perhaps imagined) threats.

Information about the Wolfowitz Doctrine was leaked to the news media by people within the administration who opposed it, and it became a source of embarrassment. Dick Cheney was ordered to rewrite Wolfowitz’s guidelines in a way that eliminated the option of unilateral preventive war.

Neoconservative William Kristol however commends the Wolfowitz Doctrine, declaring that Wolfowitz was “ahead of his time.” The narrator explains: “One day there would be a more receptive president, and another opportunity.”

That more receptive president was not Bill Clinton.

The narrator implies that George W. Bush was chosen as the likely successor to Bill Clinton as early as 1998, and that a group of “foreign-policy wisemen” including Wolfowitz on one hand and Colin Powell on the other, attempted to groom him for that position.

This period, when the struggle for the mind of George W. Bush occurred, shows most clearly that invading Iraq was not the idea of George W. Bush. William Kristol states that Bush was not immediately supportive of the Neoconservatives’ aggressive foreign policy: “I wouldn’t say that if you read Wolfowitz’s defense policy guidelines from 1992 and read most of Bush’s campaign speeches and his statements in the debates, you would say, ‘Hey, Bush has really adopted Wolfowitz’s worldview.’” Thus the pragmatists initially prevailed over the Neoconservatives, so that George W. Bush, in the period before the election, was advocating a reduced role for American military forces in the world.

The narrator says that Bush’s foreign policy during the first few months of his administration was “stalled between the two competing forces” — stalled between the Neocons and the pragmatists. Kristol indicates that this continued until the 9-11 attacks: “I think you could make a case that on September 10th, 2001, that it’s not clear that George W. Bush was in any fundamental way going in our direction on foreign policy.”

A pivotal moment, following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, came when Bush delivered a speech that evening that included the line: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

The War Behind Closed Doors treats this as a highly important utterance. Obviously it is important, since rumors that some government harbors or supports terrorists are easy to generate, and were in fact generated. The narrator says: “The hawks welcomed the president’s phrase, ‘those who harbor’ terrorism.” Richard Perle is quoted praising the speech.

David Frum, Bush’s Canadian-born Jewish speechwriter, also praises the speech:

Within 48 hours, he had made the two key decisions that have defined the war on terror. First, this is a war, not a crime. And second, this war is not going to be limited to just the authors of the 9/11 attack but to anyone who assisted them and helped them and made their work possible, including states. And that is a dramatic, dramatic event. And that defines everything.

What Frontline fails to mention is that it was Frum who insisted on that crucial line in Bush’s speech. One week before PBS Frontline aired its documentary, The Nation magazine had already revealed that detail:

It was not, alas, “a war speech.” It did, though, contain the line about making “no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” And Frum cannot resist informing us he had been the one to insert that thought into every draft of the speech. [David Corn, “Who’s in Charge?” The Nation, 13 February 2003; emphasis added]

This casts a very interesting light on another comment from Frum about the speech: “When he laid down those principles, I don’t know whether he foresaw all of their implications, how far they would take him. I don’t know if he understood fully and foresaw fully the true radicalism of what he had just said.”

Who was really making the big decisions for which Frum liked to give Bush so much credit? Frum had put words into Bush’s mouth and then said that he was not sure that Bush had understood the implications. The picture that we get, by adding just a bit of information that Frontline had omitted, is that George W. Bush was pushed into belligerent posturing by his Jewish advisors.

The pragmatists continued to push the idea of going after terrorists rather than governments; Powell for example spoke of “persuading” governments that might be harboring terrorists. But the fact that the President had already talked about going after governments had created an expectation that was difficult to oppose.

Meanwhile the false notion that Iraq was unfinished business was revived. (Obviously such an evil man must be doing evil things.) The notion that Iraq was somehow a “state sponsor of terrorism” (having been taken off the list of state sponsors of terrorism by the Reagan Administration in 1982, but reinstated amid the war-propaganda of 1990) was bandied about.

Dick Cheney is a favorite target for leftist critics of the War on Terror, and for the John Birch Society, who want a scapegoat that allows them to avoid saying anything critical of Jews. Very often, Cheney is represented as a key “Neocon.” In fact Cheney had worked with the Neoconservatives at various times since the days of “Team B” during the Ford Administration. But William Kristol described Cheney’s position at the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency thus: “Cheney is a complicated figure and, obviously, a very cautious and reticent figure, so hard to know what he thinks in his heart of hearts. I think he had feet in both camps, so to speak.” In other words, Cheney was not initially committed to the Neoconservative position on Iraq.

George W. Bush adopted the doctrine of preventive war that had been advocated by “the brains” of the Neoconservative outfit, Paul Wolfowitz (see here, p. 41ff, for a portrait of Wolfowitz’s Jewish identity and connections). From this, given 15 years of demonization-propaganda against Saddam Hussein and a little nudging from Jews like David Frum who were positioned to influence George W. Bush, the invasion of Iraq followed.

At the time when The War Behind Closed Doors aired, the Neoconservatives were getting their way and enjoying practically unanimous support for their project, and perhaps it was overconfidence that motivated William Kristol to claim for his Neoconservative movement such unequivocal responsibility for the imminent war. There was always obfuscation about who had agitated for war, with many habitually blaming the oil industry or other economic interests, because such explanations fit their leftist theory about how the world works. It was extremely useful that PBS Frontline documented that it was in fact Neoconservatives who spent more than a decade agitating for that war, and also, if it did not explain exactly who these Neoconservatives were, at least gave some indications about who they were not.

There are however some negative aspects to The War Behind Closed Doors, the worst of them being the propaganda spouted by Jewish television-host Ted Koppel’s Jewish son-in-law, Kenneth Pollack, who also happened to be a former CIA analyst, a sometime member of the National Security Council and various think-tanks, and author of a pro-war book, The Threatening Storm, that was especially influential with liberals. (Pollack had excellent liberal credentials, having served in the Clinton administration; he was also indicted for spying on behalf of Israel, but the indictment was dropped under less than convincing circumstances.) Although supposedly giving an expert outsider’s perspective on the Neoconservatives’ agitation for war, and seeming to criticize the Neoconservatives in some ways, the most important part of what Pollack said really supported the Neoconservatives’ project. I suspected that Pollack was Jewish when I first saw the program in 2003 because of the general thrust of what he was saying, but now it is confirmed.

In the section of PBS Frontline’s The War Behind Closed Doors about Bill Clinton, Pollack promotes the idea that Saddam Hussein really was developing WMDs behind the backs of the UN’s weapons-inspectors, and tries to portray the clashes in the 1990s between Iraqi officials and the UN’s inspectors as the expression of some kind of psychological strategy on Saddam Hussein’s part for undermining “containment.” Frontline should have pointed out that there was no direct evidence for any ongoing WMD-program. It was all speculation, based, as Pollack says, on the fact that the Iraqis gave the inspectors trouble. But the friction between inspectors and Iraqi authorities was easily explained with the fact that the inspection-team, infiltrated by agents of the CIA, appeared to have been used to try to orchestrate a coup:

But one of the problems is, is that you have a situation, in June of 1996, where the United States is fomenting a coup against Saddam Hussein, a coup based upon Special Republican Guard units. At the same time, you have an UNSCOM inspection, UNSCOM 150, which is in Iraq, creating a confrontation by inspecting Special Republican Guard sites.  [Scott Ritter, PBS Frontline: Spying on Saddam, 27 April 1999].

These known facts should have been brought to bear on Pollack’s statements.

The Newsweek of 24 February 2003, four days after this documentary aired, quoted Saddam Hussein’s son, General Hussein Kamel, as telling an interrogator in 1995: “All weapons — biological, chemical, missile, nuclear — were destroyed.” Pollack, with his positions in government as a supposed expert on Iraq, should have known about this.

It is the major fault of The War Behind Closed Doors that it allows Pollack’s claims in support of the WMD accusation to go undisputed.  Pollack admitted after the invasion that he had been wrong (“I made a mistake based on faulty intelligence.”  New York Times Magazine, 24 October 2004), but it is worse than being wrong: he was either a liar or incompetent. The failure to challenge Pollack’s statements is a crucial omission in PBS Frontline’s presentation, because the proposition that Saddam Hussein had been 100% successful in circumventing weapons-inspections was essential to the argument for war. Add the claim that weapons-inspections were not working (and probably could not work) to the premise that Saddam Hussein is “another Hitler,” and it becomes self-evident that one must go to war.

November 9, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Crying of Flight 655: The Washington Post and the White-Washing of a War Crime

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | October 16, 2013

Here’s how Washington Post foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher tells the story – virtually unknown here in the United States – of the downing of Iran Air Flight 655, which occurred 25 years ago during the Iran-Iraq War:

Toward the end of the war, on July 3, 1988, a U.S. Navy ship called the Vincennes was exchanging fire with small Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy kept ships there, and still does, to protect oil trade routes. As the American and Iranian ships skirmished, Iran Air Flight 655 took off from nearby Bandar Abbas International Airport, bound for Dubai. The airport was used by both civilian and military aircraft. The Vincennes mistook the lumbering Airbus A300 civilian airliner for a much smaller and faster F-14 fighter jet, perhaps in the heat of battle or perhaps because the flight allegedly did not identify itself. It fired two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 290 passengers and crew members on board.

Fisher – who based his post on a new TIME magazine piece noting a number of valid Iranian grievances with the West – writes that the “horrible incident” helped cement Iranian enmity toward the United States government, but intimates that the whole episode was just a random mistake, an innocent fluke, albeit with tragic and long-lingering consequences. To this end, he quotes notorious war propagandist Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institute’s Saban Center, presumably because Pollack was the most egregious serial fabricator Fisher could find with a quick Google search of “Iran Air Flight 655” and “accident.”

Quoting from Pollack’s 2004 compendium of conventional wisdom and glaring inaccuracies, “The Persian Puzzle,” Fisher adds, “The shoot-down of Iran Air flight 655 was an accident, but that is not how it was seen in Tehran. The Iranian government assumed that the attack had been purposeful… Tehran convinced itself that Washington was trying to signal that the United States had decided to openly enter the war on Iraq’s side.”

Fisher recounts this story in order to explain why Iranian officials and diplomats might not view their American counterparts as trustworthy interlocutors when it comes to diplomacy over its nuclear program. He writes, “If Iran believes that the United States is so committed to its destruction that it would willingly shoot down a plane full of Iranian civilians, then Tehran has every incentive to assume we’re lying in negotiations.”

Yet, both Pollack’s explanation and Fisher’s insinuation grossly decontextualize and sanitize the American role in the later stage of the Iran-Iraq War in general, and the destruction of Flight 655 in particular. To claim that – in mid-1988, no less – Tehran had to somehow “convince itself” that the Reagan administration was merely attempting to enter the war as a combatant, in aggressive and lethal support of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, is bizarre. Iran didn’t have to invent such a scenario; it was already an established fact.

Beyond training Iraqi troops, providing intelligence and shipping arms to Iraq, and facilitating the use of chemical weapons against Iranian civilians, by 1987 the U.S. military was also helping Iraq “carry out long-range strikes against key Iranian targets, using U.S. ships as navigational aids,” according to Barry Lando in his book, “Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush.”

As one senior U.S. officer told ABC’s Nightline, “We became forward air controllers for the Iraqi Air Force.”

In July 1987, the CIA began a reconnaissance program, code-named Eager Glacier, that, as reported by John Barry in Newsweek some years later, “sent spy planes and helicopters flying over Iranian bases… Navy SEALs, manning Mark III patrol boats, were stationed on two giant floating barges, and special operations helicopter units first the Little Birds of the army’s Delta Task Force 160, later joined by the specially built gunship Warriors of Task Force 118–roamed the gulf by night.”

The purpose of this kind of American firepower in the Persian Gulf was clear. Lando writes, “Their mission was to destroy any Iranian gunboats they could find. Other small, swift American vessels, posing as commercial ships, lured Iranian naval vessels into international waters to attack them. The Americans often claimed they attacked the Iranian ships only after the Iranians first menaced neutral ships plying the Gulf. In some cases however, the neutral ships which the Americans claimed to be defending didn’t even exist.”

By August 1987, the U.S. Navy was conducting direct military attacks on Iranian aircraft and sea vessels. In early August, the Financial Times reported that “a carrier-borne F-14 Tomcat fighter unleashed two missiles at an Iranian jet spotted on its radar which had flown too close for comfort to an unarmed US surveillance aircraft.” On September 23 of that year, the Washington Post reported, “U.S. Navy commandos yesterday boarded and captured the Iranian navy ship that was attacked by American helicopters Monday in the Persian Gulf,” killing three Iranian sailors. An additional 26 Iranian crew members were detained. The same day, “the U.S. frigate involved in the attack fired warning shots at an Iranian hovercraft as it sped toward U.S. warships gathered near the disabled Iranian vessel, officials said.”

A few weeks later, in early October, three Iranian ships were sunk by the U.S. Navy; later that month the Americans attacked two Iranian oil platforms. In April 1988, not only did a U.S. warship fire missiles at Iranian jets over the Persian Gulf, but two more oil platforms were destroyed and at least six Iranian ships were either crippled or sunk by American naval forces.

Fifteen years after these events, the International Criminal Court determined that “the actions of the United States of America against Iranian oil platforms on 19 October 1987 (Operation Nimble Archer) and 18 April 1988 (Operation Praying Mantis) cannot be justified as measures necessary to protect the essential security interests of the United States of America.”

Then, on July 3, 1998, shortly after taking off from Bandar Abbas, the Dubai-bound Iran Air Flight 655 was blown out of the sky on the orders of U.S. Navy Commander William C. Rogers III of the USS Vincennes, a Ticonderoga class AEGIS guided missile cruiser. The two surface-to-missiles fired at the Iranian Airbus A300B2, a commercial flight that traveled along the same route every morning, obliterated the aircraft in broad daylight, killing all 290 civilians on aboard, including 66 children under the age of 12.

U.S. government white-washing was swift.

In a statement issued soon after the attack, U.S. President Ronald Reagan called the incident “a terrible human tragedy,” but justified it as “a proper defensive action by the U.S.S. Vincennes” after “the aircraft failed to heed repeated warnings.”

Reporting on the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 an Associated Press report claimed on July 3, 1988 that the “Pentagon said U.S. Navy forces in the gulf sank two Iranian patrol boats and downed an F-14 fighter jet in the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday during an exchange of fire.” Iran disputed this version of events, insisting that plane attacked had been a civilian airliner and that nearly 300 civilians on board had been killed in the assault. AP noted, “U.S. Navy officials in the gulf denied the Iranian claim.”

In reaction to Iranian statements, President Reagan reportedly quipped, “Well, I don’t go by what the Iranians say, ever.”

Following the attack on Flight 655, Admiral William J. Crowe Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlined what he called the “threatening flight profile” of the airplane the U.S. Navy ship had blown up. He told reporters that the Iranian plane had been “outside the prescribed commercial air corridor,” that it “headed directly for Vincennes,” that “there were electronic indications on Vincennes that led it to believe that the aircraft was an F-14” and that the plane was “decreasing in altitude as it neared the ship.”

Crowe also maintained that the Vincennes, which, according to the Washington Post at the time, “was equipped with the most sophisticated radar and electronic battle gear in the Navy’s surface arsenal,” was “outside of Iranian territorial waters” when it fired at the Iranian aircraft.

“We do have some eyewitness reports that saw the vague shape of the aircraft when the missile hit,” Crowe told reporters, “and it looked like it disintegrated.” He also defended Commander Rogers’ actions as “logical”, saying, “The commanding officer conducted himself with circumspection and, considering the information that was available to him, followed his authorities and acted with good judgment at a very trying period and under very trying circumstances.”

The official story was that the crew of the Vincennes mistook the massive, lumbering Airbus for a small, supersonic F-14 Tomcat making attack maneuvers.

The following day, July 4, Reagan issued a report to Congress in which he stated the USS Vincennes had been “operating in international waters of the Persian Gulf” and that following “indications that approximately a dozen Iranian small boats were congregating to attack merchant shipping, the Vincennes sent a Mark III Lamps Helicopter on investigative patrol in international airspace to assess the situation.” The helicopter, Reagan claimed, was fired upon and returned to the ship.

Reagan further declared, “The actions of U.S. forces in response to being attacked by Iranian small boats were taken in accordance with our inherent right of self-defense.” These actions included the downing of Flight 655, which, he said, was “believed to be a hostile Iranian military aircraft.”

In a press briefing on the White House lawn the same day, Reagan claimed that the Iranian airliner had been “lowering its altitude,” indicating an aggressive posture, at the time it was shot down.

The next day, the New York Times editorialized that “while horrifying, it was nonetheless an accident,” concluding, “The onus for avoiding such accidents in the future rests on civilian aircraft: avoid combat zones, fly high, acknowledge warnings.”

At the time, a report by Norman Solomon in Extra! revealed how the U.S. “government’s public relations spin quickly became the mass media’s: A tragic mishap had occurred in the Persian Gulf, amid puzzling behavior of the passenger jet. Blaming the victim was standard fare, as reporters focused on the plight of U.S.S. Vincennes commander Capt. Will Rodgers III, whose picture appeared on tabloid covers (7/5/88) with bold headlines: “Captain’s Anguish” (Newsday) and “Captain’s Agony” (New York Post).”

Naturally, if the Iranian military had blown up a Pan Am flight taking off from Dubai, protestations of self-defense probably wouldn’t find many sympathetic ears in the United States; fewer still would empathize with the personal trauma of murderer who gave the order.

Ten days later, on July 13, 1988, Assistant Secretary of State Richard S. Williamson continued to insist that the Vincennes was “at the time of the incident, in international waters.” The next day, speaking in defense of American actions before the United Nations Security Council, Vice President George H.W. Bush declared, “One thing is clear, and that is that the USS Vincennes acted in self-defense.”

Iran’s allegations that the warship was far too technologically advanced to make such a catastrophic mistake were dismissed by the American government. When questioned about the incident, Bush announced, “I will never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don’t care what the facts are!”

Nearly all of these claims made by U.S. military and government officials about why Flight 655 was fired upon were lies, and the subsequent investigation was effectively one big cover-up, reports in Newsweek and by Nightline later revealed.

There had been no merchant vessel in distress and no helicopter was ever dispatched from the Vincennes, let alone fired upon. The warnings by Vincennes radio operators had not been broadcast to air traffic control frequencies. There had been no visual confirmation of an approaching or attacking aircraft. Iran Air Flight 655 – with its nearly 300 passengers aboard – was well within its flight corridor, flying comfortably at 12,000 feet and steadily climbing. It had been in the air less than seven minutes. At the time it was hit, it was gradually turning away from where the Vincennes was located. It would have landed in Dubai about twenty minutes later. As John Barry reported in 1992:

Captain [Mohsen] Rezaian of Iran Air was calmly reporting to Bandar Abbas that he had reached his first checkpoint crossing the gulf. He heard none of the Vincennes’s warnings. His four radio bands were taken up with air-control chatter. “Have a nice day,” the tower radioed. “Thank you, good day,” replied the pilot. Thirty seconds later, the first missile blew the left wing off his aircraft.

There were other American naval vessels in the area at the time, none of which mistook the Iranian commercial airliner for a jet fighter, but were unable to act quickly enough to save Flight 655. “A few miles away, on the bridge of the Montgomery, crewmen gaped as a large wing of a commercial airliner, with an engine pod still attached, plummeted into the sea,” Barry reported. “Aboard the USS Sides, 19 miles away, Captain [David] Carlson was told that his top radar man reckoned the plane had been a commercial airliner. Carlson almost vomited, he said later.”

Vincennes commander Rogers was himself known to other naval officers as especially trigger-happy. Captain Carlson, who commanded the Sides, a frigate in the same Surface Action Group as the Vincennes, later said that the Flight 655 disaster “marked the horrifying climax to Rogers’ aggressiveness.”

According to the subsequent government review of the downing of Flight 665, and particularly its Aegis targeting system and the “complex network of radar and computers” onboard the Vincennes, TIME magazine reported that “blame fell not on the machines but on the men who were operating them.”

Nevertheless, not a single member of the crew of the Vincennes received official reprimand or opprobrium from the U.S. Navy or government. Moreover, in what can only be described as an act of staggering hubris, following the end of their deployment in 1989, all crew members aboard the Vincennes were awarded combat-action ribbons, while both Commander Rogers and Lieutenant Commander Scott Lustig, the ship’s tactical coordinator for air warfare, were specifically granted the Navy’s Legion of Merit medal for “meritorious service” and “heroic achievement.”

Rogers was honored “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer… from April 1987 to May 1989,” while Lustig received his citation for his “ability to maintain his poise and confidence under fire,” enabling him to “quickly and precisely complete the firing procedure.”

Iran’s only act of retaliation or retribution for the downing of Flight 655 was bringing forth a legal case for responsibility and restitution. The International Court of Justice awarded the victims of the attack $61 million in compensation for unwarranted loss of life. The U.S government has still never officially apologized to the Iranian people for this heinous crime.

Last year, the Iranian Foreign Ministry Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement in commemoration of the tragedy. “This inhumane crime is clear proof of the innocence of the Iranian nation,” it read, “and (provides) clear evidence that the United States is not committed to any international legal and ethical principles and norms, and (it) will remain in the historical memory of the Iranian nation.”

The Washington Post‘s Max Fisher concludes his column, writing, “Americans might not know about Flight 655. But Iranians surely do — they can hardly forget about it.”

While he – and TIME’s Michael Crowley – should be commended for reminding (or informing) their readership about the events of July 3, 1988 and its implications today, they should also remember that telling only part of the story – and allowing American aggression, dishonesty and denial to be dismissed uncritically as an “accident” – does a great disservice to the truth.

The 290 innocent victims deserve better.

October 17, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Humanitarian Buffer Zones in Syria — How misinformation obscures the Israel lobby’s influence on U.S. foreign policy

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | October 15, 2012

A recent Russia Today report offers an insight into how misinformation on the internet helps to obscure the influence of the Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy. In an October 11 report on the widening Syria conflict, the Russian television channel’s website cited an interview with an independent journalist regarding news of the establishment of so-called humanitarian buffer zones on Syrian territory. According to the RT report, citing Nile Bowie, the idea originated with “US hawks”:

“The US think-tank – the Brookings Institute – in March 2012 published a report entitled ‘Assessing Regime Change Options in Syria,’ where they specifically cite the creation of a buffer zone or a humanitarian corridor as a means to base certain rebel groups in the region [and] to project force towards the Syrian government in an attempt to topple it. So that appears to be what is playing out at the moment.”

The facts above are basically correct. There is, however, a crucial omission. The report in question — actually entitled “Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” — was the work of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The Saban Center was established in 2002 when Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban pledged nearly $13 million to the Brookings Institution. As Saban told an Israeli conference in 2010, establishing think tanks — along with making donations to political parties and controlling media outlets — is one of “three ways to be influential in American politics.” The billionaire’s sole motivation for wanting to influence policy in Washington is no secret. “I’m a one-issue guy,” Saban famously told the New York Times, “and my issue is Israel.”

It’s also worth noting that at least one of the co-authors of “Saving Syria” appears to share Haim Saban’s overriding concern for Israel. In 2006, Kenneth Pollack, currently director of the Saban Center, was mentioned in the indictment against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman as one of the government officials who provided classified information on Iran to the then AIPAC employees charged with espionage.

Nile Bowie’s omission of the Israeli source of the regime change proposals for Syria appears to have been unintentional though. As recently as September 24, the Kuala Lumpur-based American journalist wrote about the pro-Israel connections of U.S. groups supporting the Malaysian opposition. So how did he miss the equally blatant Israeli connection behind the Saban Center’s blueprint for regime change in Damascus?

Bowie most likely learned of the Brookings report from “an alternative news blog based in Bangkok, Thailand covering geopolitics.” Run by a former U.S. marine by the name of Tony Cartalucci, the Land Destroyer blog (the second of ten sites linked to by Bowie’s blog) has written about “Assessing Options for Regime Change” perhaps more often than any other source. One of those pieces posted on October 3 entitled “Turkey Attempts to Trigger War Vs. Syria” even features an image of the Saban Center’s “Saving Syria.” The caption underneath the image, however, reads:

The Brookings Institution, Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” makes no secret that the humanitarian “responsibility to protect” is but a pretext for long-planned regime change.

Apart from the Saban Center logo in the image, there is no mention of the pro-Israel think tank in the piece. While a site search for “Brookings” yields eight pages of results, there appears to be only one post that refers to the “Saban Center.” A search for “Haim Saban” yields no results.

In short, as long as people continue to trust dubious “alternative” sources of news such as Land Destroyer Report, the key role of the Israel lobby in pushing regime change from Damascus to Kuala Lumpur will remain obscure.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

October 14, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pro-Israel Saban Center Proposes New Framework for Persian Gulf Security

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | July 3, 2012

In the Saban Center for Middle East Policy’s newest Middle East Memo, “Security in the Persian Gulf: New Frameworks for the Twenty-First Century,” Kenneth Pollack proposes “a new security architecture for the region.” According to a summary on the center’s site:

Pollack analyzes security arrangements in other parts of the world and focuses on two options: expanding the GCC and turning it into a formal military alliance and creating an arrangement modeled on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. In weighing each option, Pollack finds that the latter can better furnish a path toward peace and security.

Any consideration of how likely Pollack’s CSCE model would contribute to “peace and security” in the Persian Gulf requires an understanding of whose interests the author and his employer represent.

The Saban Center was established in 2002 with a pledge of nearly $13 million from the Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban to the Brookings Institution. Having once admitted to the New York Times, “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel,” Saban told an Israeli conference in 2010 that establishing think tanks was one of his “three ways to be influential in American politics” — along with making donations to political parties and controlling media outlets — so that he could “protect Israel, by strengthening the United States-Israel relationship.”

Before becoming a senior fellow at the Saban Center, Kenneth Pollack was a member of the U.S. National Security Council. While advising on American security, Pollack was mentioned in relation to the 2005 criminal indictment against Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman as one of the government officials who provided classified information to the two former AIPAC employees about Washington’s Iran policy. Presumably, all three were motivated, like Saban, by their overriding concern for the security of the Jewish state.

In light of Saban and Pollack’s profound concern for Israel’s security, “Security in the Persian Gulf” should be seen as yet another attempt to advance Israeli interests in the region by influencing American politics.

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments