For decades, America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been relying on its partner’s money in discrete and covert operations; the money of the Saudi oil-rich kingdom.
Citing several current and former US officials, the New York Times reported on Jan. 23 that from the very beginning of the US operations against the Assad government in Syria, Saudi money was largely the supporter.
The most recent example of this ‘close bond’ between the US and Saudi Arabia has came to light in the New York Times article, which reported that US President Barack Obama knew well the US could rely on Saudi money when, in 2013, he secretly gave the CIA the green light to arm militant groups in Syria that were fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Code-named Timber Sycamore, the deal stipulates that the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money and the CIA takes the lead in training the rebels on AK-47 assault rifles and tank-destroying missiles.
In 2012, the US repeatedly claimed that the Timber Sycamore program was designed to deliver what it claimed to be ‘non-lethal’ aid, yet months later, Obama gave his approval for the CIA to begin directly arming and training the rebels from a base in Jordan, amending the Timber Sycamore program to allow lethal assistance.
Also, the NY Times report noticeably underlines that such a long intelligence relationship helps explain why the United States has been reluctant to openly criticize Saudi Arabia for its human rights abuses, its treatment of women and its support for the extreme ideology Wahhabism, that has inspired many of the very terrorist groups.
In the latest violation which brought uproar across the Muslim world in particular, Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, for challenging the oppression of the royal family and demanding human rights, yet the Obama administration did not publically condemn the action. Also, another form of Saudi human rights abuses to which the US has had no clear condemnation is its war on Yemen that has so far claimed the lives of more than 8,270 people including women and children.
The CIA covert operations in Syria began in 2013, in which more than 10,000 Wahhabi terrorists were armed, funded and trained. The trainings were taking place inside Jordan’s territories, and estimates have put the total cost of the ops at several billion dollars.
“They understand that they have to have us, and we understand that we have to have them,” said Mike Rogers, the former Republican congressman who was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when the CIA operation began.
The operation was described as part of the so-called “counterterrorism” program. On this note, a former State Department counterterrorism adviser and the author of a book on the Islamic State, William McCants points out “The more that the argument becomes, ‘We need them as a counterterrorism partner,’ the less persuasive it is. If this is purely a conversation about counterterrorism cooperation, and if the Saudis are a big part of the problem in creating terrorism in the first place, then how persuasive of an argument is it?”
Even though the biggest contributor was Saudi Arabia, yet its allies also had their share in the game. According to the NY Times, when Obama signed off on arming the rebels in the spring of 2013, the Qataris, Turkish and Saudis had been funneling weapons into Syria for more than a year. The Qataris had even smuggled in shipments of Chinese-made FN-6 shoulder-fired missiles over the border from Turkey.
In the “free and democratic system” being pushed upon all other states in the world by the United States and its Western allies, journalists are increasingly unhappy about the repressions they’ve been facing over the last decade, along with constant surveillance and the demand to cooperate with intelligence services. That is why German-speakers have even coined a special term for the Western media – Lügenpresse or “lying press”. It’s no wonder that the credibility of the most famous Western media outlets recently has hit a new low.
Since the days of Richard Nixon no American president was as hostile to the media as Barack Obama – this was stated by the former editor-in-chief of the Washington Post, Leonard Downie in a report that he drafted on the dire situation of the freedom of speech in the United States. According to this report, the Obama Administration has been routinely spying on journalists, while punishing harshly all sorts of whistleblowers. Moreover, the members of the administration feel personally offended when a critical article about its actions appears somewhere in the media. In order to prevent such perceived slights, government officials are being accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 that in the first 90 years of its existence was used only three times to convict foreign spies. Yet, in the period from 2009 to 2013 eight US officials went to jail on accusations of providing journalists with the information that could lead to a major scandal. As for US journalists, Leonard Downie notes, they are living in the atmosphere of constant fear, under a sense of being monitored daily.
Despite promises to put an end to the “excessive secrecy” that was imposed by the Bush Administration, Obama has only expanded it further still. It happens so that even the documents that pose no threat to national security whatsoever are being classified today in the West as “Top Secret” to ensure that reporters never get access to them. Since October 2011, civil servants in all US government bodies are being officially encouraged to spy on their colleagues, while employees of federal departments since 2012 are forced to regularly report their contacts with the press, as well as to inform superiors about “suspicious behavior” of their colleagues. The former head of the CIA, Michael Hayden, stated that these measures were adopted to “prevent any contact.” Even the employees of media outlets obedient to Washington, such as the Associated Press and Fox News have been targeted by the Obama Administration.
There’s growing evidence that suggests that Operation Mockingbird, launched by the CIA in the 1950s, has never ceased to exist. The main objective of this operation was to influence both the US and foreign media through agents that were planted among genuine journalists. When the operation was made official, US authorities had more than three thousand permanent and contracted agents of the CIA in hundreds of Western media outlets. And it seems that nothing has changed since those days, since the Western media spreads disinformation, produces propaganda and whitewashes anything that might harm the well-being of Western elites.
But the worst part is that it’s not simply the American media that has been destroyed, since the European media has suffered a similar fate. How else can the bias of the European press be explained?
The Western media is usually tasked with targeting specific individuals who dare oppose Washington. It will suffice to recall the rigid disinformation campaign against Saddam Hussein and the so-called “weapons of mass destruction” that never existed in the first place. Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi was subjected to a similar treatment, and now we are hearing revelations made by Hillary Clinton that regime change in Libya was carried out in the best interests of Washington, since Gaddafi had considerable oil and gold reserves at his disposal. A similar propaganda campaign has been launched by the United States against Syria, and especially Russia in light of the Ukrainian crisis. Even the revelations made by the French journalist Laurent Bravard or the speech given by the Director of French Military Intelligence Christophe Gomart in front of the National Assembly of France were ignored by the absolute majority of Western media sources.
The total control of the media by Western intelligence services has become painfully obvious recently. A while ago a German journalist contributing to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Dr Udo Ulfkotte, admitted that all authors are receiving gifts in the form of expensive watches, exotic tours, or stays in luxurious hotels. One can easily live a life of the rich and famous if he’s writing good things about NATO and demonizes Russia. In his book, published under the title Gekaufte Journalisten (Corrupt Journalists), Udo Ulfkotte says that those who write as they were told to, especially those “inspired” by the CIA or other Western intelligence services, are enjoying full protection and regular promotions. The utter and complete control over the Fourth Estate (as the press is usually referred to) exercised by intelligence services and oligarchs has turned the Western press into a political fifth column. As for those people who do not agree with this state of affairs, they simply have no say in the West.
It is impossible to publish facts in the West not simply because of the rigid censorship, but due to the fact that the better part of media outlets are owned by a small group of wealthy individuals. The world’s media, as well as the leading centers of Europe are being dominated by the Wall Street and the City of London, and none of these people, even if they understand the danger of obeying the orders of the few, dare to speak up against the actions of the US. For this reason European media outlets are facing a serious crisis these days.
The extensive amount of pressure that media is forced to live under has become so distinct and apparent that some Western reporters have decided to revolt against the system. A while ago, an American economist and author Paul Craig Roberts noted that we are a witnessing a complete decomposition of Western journalism, while journalists are forced to lie or simply give up their chosen profession.
According to the data published by the Insurge Intelligence project it’s not the media alone that is being used for propaganda purposes, but also search engines like Google as well. While bypassing the democratic norms and laws, Western intelligence agencies are influencing policies and public opinions in the United States and other states, to ensure “information superiority”. It is therefore not surprising that in 2015 the US took 49th place in the World Press Freedom Index, along with El Salvador, Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger.
Martin Berger is a Czech-based freelance journalist and analyst.
The New York Times has exposed a long-standing CIA partnership with Saudi Arabia, whose latest endeavor is a program to arm Syrian rebels authorized by President Obama in early 2013. Under the “Timber Sycamore” program the Saudis provide funding and purchase weapons for Syrian rebels, while the CIA trains them in secret camps in Jordan.
The Saudi-CIA partnership dates back many years, and involves the British secret service. During the years when Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, the Saudis poured money into the Afghan mujahedeen as it fought Soviet forces, matching U.S. funding dollar for dollar. The mujahedeen funding was run through CIA-managed bank accounts in Switzerland. Those accounts were said to be part of the “Al Yamamah” program, dating to 1985, in which the British and the Saudis used an oil-for-arms barter deal to create massive offshore “black” accounts, including in the Cayman Islands, to bankroll and arm a wide array of global insurgencies. These accounts provided a major source of funds in the Afghan war against the Soviets.
This revelation by NYT adds additional weight to the allegations made in a book by Mike Springmann, former head of the US visa section in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from1987-1989. In Visas for al-Qaeda: CIA Handouts that Rocked the World, Springmann details how, “during the 1980s, the CIA recruited and trained Muslim operatives to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later, the CIA would move those operatives from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and then to Iraq, Libya, and Syria, traveling on illegal US visas. These US-backed and trained fighters would morph into an organization that is synonymous with jihadist terrorism: al-Qaeda.”
In an exclusive interview with Sputnik News, Springmann shared his first-hand experience of issuing US visas to would-be terrorists, a flagrant violation of US law.
“I know. I was there. I issued the visas,” Springmann told Sputnik News.
Upon his arrival at Jeddah, Springmann found that, as a visa officer, he was expected to winnow over a hundred applications a day, separating them into “issuances,” “refusals,” and what he later termed, “free passes for CIA agents.”
“One day,” Springmann recalls, “Eric Qualkenbush, the [then] CIA Base Chief, stopped me while I was walking on the consulate’s huge compound. He had a request. Could I issue a visa to one of his agents, an Iranian whose family owned an Oriental rug store? Eric said, ‘Mike, make it look good (wink, wink). We want him in Washington for consultations.’”
Springmann told Sputnik News he had almost daily battles with Jay Freres, the Consul General, along with several other CIA officials, who would consistently demand visas for people that law and regulation would ordinarily require him to refuse. He also had running fights with applicants who told him to approve their visas or they would complain to Freres, and have him overruled.
Most of these that Springmann now considers ‘unsavory types’ did, in fact, receive visas to go to the USA for training, debriefing, and other purposes. In enabling their passage, American government officials violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as many regulations codified in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual, says Springmann. As a purported guardian of US immigration principles, he objected to the blatant violations of law and regulation. His objections fell on deaf ears.
Springmann details that eventually he came to realize that his Consular Section job duty in Jeddah was primarily to secure visas for CIA agents, i.e., foreigners recruited by American case officers.
“As I later learned to my dismay, the visa applicants were recruits for the war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union’s armed forces. Further, as time went by, the fighters, trained in the United States, went on to other battlefields: Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.”
But why would the CIA rely on a “genuine” state department visa employee when they could have easily planted one of their own into the Consular Section? According to Springmann, “at Jeddah, to the best of my knowledge, out of some twenty US citizens assigned to the consulate, only three people, including myself, worked for the Department of State. The rest were CIA or NSA officials or their spouses.”
The explanation to the above question was simple if cynical, Springmann told Sputnik News : it had to be an arms-length operation, to avoid exposure of the CIA program and to blame visa violations, if they became known, on “incompetent” office clerks, including himself.
The Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency collaborated in sending innocent workers like Springmann to Jeddah, a location that handled some forty-five-thousand visa applications annually. If a visa officer processed the paperwork and didn’t ask awkward questions about the applicants, that officer would keep his job. If the visa officer strictly followed the law, resisting illegal pressure to overlook those who did not have a legitimate reason for traveling to the United States, that employee “wasn’t with the program” and could be exposed to dismissal as an incompetent, an occurrence that eventually happened to the author.
“My name was on the visa plate that stamped applications to enter the United States, making me personally responsible for my actions,” he said. “In our spook-ridden Jeddah consulate, I sometimes found it was a daily battle to do my job,” he remarked, offering examples of two such battles.
“Two Pakistanis came to me for a visa. According to their story, they were traveling on a Commerce Department– organized trade mission to an automotive parts exhibition in the United States. However, they couldn’t name the trade show or identify the city in which it would be held. I denied their visa request. Within sixty minutes, Paul Arvid Tveit called and demanded visas for these same Pakistanis. I explained the reasons for my refusal, citing § 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Foreign Affairs Manual. Ignoring the law and regulation, Tveit went to Justice Stevens and the visas were issued.”
“Then, a political officer demanded a visa for a Sudanese who was a refugee from his own country and unemployed in Saudi Arabia. Following the letter and the spirit of the law, I refused. She immediately went to Justice, and a visa was issued. When I later asked Justice why he authorized a visa to someone with no ties to the Sudan or the kingdom, he replied simply ‘national security,’ a phrase without legal definition.”
The dubious games played by the CIA in the name of “national security” are common in many Foreign Service posts, Springmann contends. “In a subsequent conversation with Celerino Castillo, a former Drug Enforcement Agency official, I learned that the CIA’s involvement in the visa process was a successful program of long-standing in Latin America, he stated, adding that, it was also “I presume, a model for Saudi Arabia. South of the border the Agency would slip passports and applications from its contacts into packages sent to the local US consulate or embassy by travel agents. Sandwiched between legitimate applications, ‘Agency assets’ would not be carefully examined by consular officers and would thus get a free ride to the United States.”
A Visa for the Blind Sheikh
Likewise, Springmann says, it was a CIA “consular officer” at Khartoum in Sudan who issued a tourist visa to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, later linked to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The “blind” Sheikh had been on a State Department terrorist watch list when he was issued the visa, entering the United States by way of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Sudan in 1990.
Springmann believes the sheikh attempted to obtain a US visa from him via a proxy. The author states that he turned the application down.
The former state department employee pointed out to his superiors that, according to US law, passport and visa crimes are federal offenses, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum prison sentence is increased to 15 years if the offense is connected to drug trafficking, and to 20 years if connected to terrorism.
In a chance meeting, Joe Trento, a journalist at the Public Education Center in Washington, DC, put into perspective for Sprigmann what had been really going on with the CIA in Jeddah.
“It wasn’t a garden variety visa fraud as I had once thought, but something much more serious: it was a ‘visas for terrorists program,’ set up to recruit and train (in the United States) murderers, war criminals, and human rights violators for combat in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. These men became the founding members of al-Qaeda, the Arab-Afghan Legion.”
“Former President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski, began the campaign to assemble these goons to engage in blowing things up and shooting things down, preferably with Soviet soldiers inside.”
But the Saudis and other regional players in the “jihad” did not want those “saddle-tramps” on their soil, fearing that they would eventually use their newly acquired skills to promote “regime change” at home. That explains the reason many of these recruits were sent to the US, Springmann says, where there were up to 52 induction and training centers, the primary one in Brooklyn, New York City.
During his two years in Jeddah, Springmann says, he wrangled daily with intelligence officers who staffed and ran the US consulate.
“These were the people who arranged for recruiting and training what were then the mujahedeen, who later became al-Qaeda, who then transformed themselves into ISIS. I saw, but didn’t recognize, their start at Jeddah. We’ve all seen their later development and what happens when the intelligence services control foreign policy and diplomacy: the people they assembled aided the breakup of Yugoslavia, the destruction of Iraq, the collapse of Libya, and the savaging of Syria.”
Springmann attempted to protest the illegal visa practices at the highest levels of government for over 20 years, but was repeatedly stonewalled. During that time, he says, the Arab-Afghan Legion, created by the CIA to undermine the Soviet Union, has been marching from strength to strength.
US Role as State Sponsor of Terrorism Implied in US Congressional Research Service Report on Syria Conflict
The implication of a report written for the US Congress is that the United States is a state sponsor of terrorism in Syria. At the same time, the report challenges widely held beliefs about the conflict, including the idea that the opposition has grass-roots support and that the conflict is a sectarian war between Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect and the majority Sunnis.
Written in October 2015, the report was prepared by the Congressional Research Service, an arm of the United States Library of Congress. The Congressional Research Service provides policy and legal analysis to committees and members of the US House and Senate.
Titled “Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and US Response,” the report reveals that:
1. The Syrian conflict is between Islamists and secularists, not Sunnis and Alawites.
Media reports often emphasize the dominant Sunni character of the rebels who have taken up arms against the Syrian government, while depicting the Syrian government as Alawite-led. What is almost invariably overlooked is that the largest Sunni fighting force in Syria is the country’s army. Yes, the rebels are predominantly Sunni, but so too are the Syrian soldiers they’re fighting. As Congress’s researchers point out, “most rank and file military personnel have been drawn from the majority Sunni Arab population and other (non-Alawite) minority groups” (p. 7). Also: “Sunni conscripts continue to fight for Assad” (p. 12). Rather than being a battle between two different sects, the conflict is a struggle, on the one hand, between Sunni fundamentalists who want to impose their version of Islam on Syrian politics and society, and on the other hand, Syrians, including Sunnis, who embrace a vision of a secular, non-sectarian government.
2. The Syrian Opposition Coalition is dominated by Islamists and is allied with foreign enemies of Syria.
According to the report, the Syrian National Council (whose largest member is the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood) is the “largest constituent group” of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC). The SOC is based “in Turkey and considered to be close to foreign opponents of Assad.” (p. 14) The Muslim Brotherhood seeks to base political rule on the Quran, which it sees as divinely inspired, rather than on a secular constitution.
3. “Political opposition coalitions appear to lack…grass roots support” (p. 27).
This is consistent with the findings of a public opinion poll taken last summer by a research firm that is working with the US and British governments. That poll found that Assad has more support than the forces arrayed against him.
The survey, conducted by ORB International, a company which specializes in public opinion research in fragile and conflict environments, found that 47 percent of Syrians believe that Assad has a positive influence in Syria, compared to only 35 percent for the Free Syrian Army and 26 percent for the SOC. An in-country face-to-face ORB poll conducted in May 2014 arrived at similar conclusions. That poll found that more Syrians believed the Assad government best represented their interests and aspirations than believed the same about any of the opposition groups. 
According to the poll, only six percent believed that the “genuine” rebels represented their interests and aspirations, while the ‘National Coalition/transitional government,” a reference to the SOC, drew even less support, at only three percent.
Assad has repeatedly challenged the notion that he lacks popular support, pointing to his government surviving nearly five years of war against forces backed by the most powerful states on the planet. It’s impossible to realistically conceive of his government’s survival under these challenging circumstances, he argues, without its having the support of a sizeable part of its population. 
4. A moderate opposition doesn’t exist. The United States is trying to build one to act as its partner.
The report refers to US efforts to create partners in Syria, a euphemism for puppets who can be relied upon to promote US interests.
“Secretary of Defense Carter described the ‘best’ scenario for the Syrian people as one that would entail an agreed or managed removal of Assad and the coalescence of opposition forces with elements of the remaining Syrian state apparatus as U.S. partners ….” (emphasis added, pp. 15-16).
Also: The Pentagon “sought to…groom and support reliable leaders to serve as U.S partners…” (emphasis added, p. 23).
To create partners, the United States is engaged in the project of building a “moderate” opposition. According to the report:
“On June 18, Secretary of Defense Carter said, ‘…the best way for the Syrian people for this to go would be for him to remove himself from the scene and there to be created, difficult as it will be, a new government of Syria based on the moderate opposition that we have been trying to build…” (emphasis added, footnote, p. 16).
In the report summary the researchers write that US strategy seeks to avoid “inadvertently strengthening Assad, the Islamic State, or other anti-U.S. armed Islamist groups” (emphasis added.) What’s left unsaid is that armed Islamist groups that are not immediately anti-U.S. may be looked upon favorably by US strategy. However, that “political opposition coalitions…appear to lack grass-roots support,” and that Washington can’t rely on an already-formed moderate opposition but needs to build one, shows that the set of rebels on which the US can rely to act as US partners who will rule with elements of the existing Syrian state in a post-Assad Syria is virtually empty. The conclusion is substantiated by the failure of a now-abandoned Pentagon program to train and equip vetted rebel groups. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the top American commander in the Middle East, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that despite the Pentagon spending $500 million training and equipping “moderate” rebels, only “four or five” were “in the fight.”  As the Wall Street Journal observed in late December, moderate rebels don’t exist. They’ve either been absorbed into Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrah al-Sham and ISIS—the extremist terrorist groups which dominate the opposition—or were Islamist militants all along. 
5. The United States is arming sectarian terrorists indirectly and possibly directly and covertly.
The report points out that not only has the Pentagon openly trained and equipped rebels, but that the United States has also covertly armed them. According to the Congress’s researchers:
“Then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a September 2013 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Administration was taking steps to provide arms to some Syrian rebels under covert action authorities” (p. 23).
“Secretary Hagel said, ‘it was June of this year that the president made the decision to support lethal assistance to the opposition….we, the Department of Defense, have not been involved in this. This is, as you know, a covert action’” (footnote, p.23).
If the United States was prepared to overtly arm some rebel groups, why is it covertly arming others? A not unreasonable hypothesis is that it is arming some rebel groups covertly because they have been designated as terrorist organizations. To be sure, a number of press reports have revealed that rebels who have received training and arms from the United States are operating with terrorist groups in Syria. According to the Wall Street Journal, “insurgents who have been trained covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency…are enmeshed with or fighting alongside more hard-line Islamist groups, including the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate” . Another report from the same newspaper notes that “al-Nusra has fought alongside rebel units which the U.S. and its regional allies have backed” . A third report refers to collaboration between “CIA-backed Free Syrian army factions and extremist elements such as Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham” . Let’s be clear. Anyone who is enmeshed with and fighting alongside Al-Qaeda is a terrorist.
According to Congress’s researchers, weapons the US furnished to selected groups have made their way to jihadists. “Some Syrian opposition groups that have received U.S. equipment and weaponry to date have surrendered or lost these items to other groups, including to extremist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra” (p. 23).
When you consider that, as The Washington Post reported, “the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years”  and that, at best, there are 700, and more likely only 70 “moderate” rebels in Syria , then the bulk of the large rebel force the CIA has trained and equipped is very likely made up of Islamist extremists. Concealing this shameful reality from the US public is probably the principal reason the program is covert.
6. Washington wants to contain ISIS, but not eliminate it, in order to maintain military pressure on the Syrian government.
Based on the US coalition’s less than vigorous air campaign against ISIS, many observers have questioned whether the United States is at all serious about eliminating ISIS just yet, and is simply trying to contain it, to keep pressure on the Syrian government. For example, veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk says: “I don’t think the U.S. is serious. Very occasionally, you can hear the rumble of American bombs. But they’re certainly not having much effect.” 
One day, soon after Russia began air operations in Syria, journalist Patrick Cockburn noted that “Russian planes carried out 71 sorties and 118 air strikes against Islamic fighters in Syria over the past two days compared to just one air strike by the US-led coalition – and this single strike, against a mortar position, was the first for four days.”  After ISIS captured Palmyra, and pushed into Aleppo, the US coalition did nothing to push back the ISIS advance, leading even rebels to question “the U.S.’s commitment to containing the group.”  Assad too has expressed scepticism about whether the United States is serious about destroying ISIS, pointing to the terrorist organization’s continued successes in Syria, despite the US coalition’s presumed war against it. “Since this coalition started to operate,” observed the Syrian president, “ISIS has been expanding. In other words, the coalition has failed and it has no real impact on the ground.” 
A tepid approach to fighting ISIS in Syria would fit with US president Barack Obama’s stated goal of degrading the Al-Qaeda offspring organization. Destroying it may be an ultimate goal, to be achieved after ISIS has served the purpose of weakening the Syrian government. But for now, the United States appears to be willing to allow ISIS to continue to make gains in Syria. The Congressional Research Service report concurs with this view: It concludes that “U.S. officials may be concerned that a more aggressive campaign against the Islamic State may take military pressure off the” Syrian government (p. 19).
By contrast, Moscow has pursued a more vigorous war against ISIS, and for an obvious reason. Unlike Washington, it seeks to prop up its Syrian ally, not give ISIS room to weaken it. It should be additionally noted that Russia’s military operations in Syria are legal, carried out with the permission of the Syrian government. By contrast, the US coalition has brazenly flouted international law to enter Syrian airspace without Damascus’s assent. It has, in effect, undertaken an illegal invasion and committed a crime of aggression, compounded by its training and arming of terrorists.
The report says that in the absence of grass-roots support for political opposition coalitions in Syria, the United States is relying on a number of tactics to pressure the current government in Syria to step down, including:
• Keeping ISIS alive as a tool to sustain military pressure on Damascus.
• Arming jihadist groups indirectly and (we can assume) directly (albeit covertly) to pressure Assad.
• Seeking to create a moderate opposition that will act as a US partner.
• Trying to co-opt parts of the existing Syrian state to take a partnership role in governing a post-Assad Syria.
The implication of points 1 and 2 is that the United States—as the trainer of, and supplier of arms, to rebels who are enmeshed with and fighting alongside Al-Qaeda in Syria, and in keeping ISIS alive, in order to use these terrorist organizations to achieve its political goal of installing a US-partner government in Syria—is a state sponsor of terrorism.
3. “President al-Assad: Russia’s policy towards Syria is based on values and interests, the West is not serious in fighting terrorists,” Syrian Arab News Agency, December 11, 2015, http://sana.sy/en/?p=63857
4. Philip Shishkin, “U.S. weighs talks with Russia on military activity in Syria,” The Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2015.
5. Stuart Rollo,“Turkey’s dangerous game in Syria,” The Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2015.
6. Anne Barnard and Michael R. Gordon, “Goals diverge and perils remain as U.S. and Turkey take on ISIS,” The New York Times, July 27, 2015.
7. Farnaz Fassihi, “U.N. Security Council unanimously votes to adopt France’s counterterrorism resolution,” The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2015.
8. Sam Dagher, “Syria’s Bashar al-Assad Tries to Force the West to Choose Between Regime, Islamic State,” The Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2015.
9. Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, “Secret CIA effort in Syria faces large funding cut,” The Washington Post, June 12, 2015.
10. Robert Fisk, “Is David Cameron planning to include al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra in his group of 70,000 moderates?”, The Independent, December 1, 2015.
11. Thomas Walkom, “Journalist Robert Fisk explains why Canada should abandon ISIS war,” The Toronto Star, September 25, 2015.
12. Patrick Cockburn, “Russia in Syria: Air strikes pose twin threat to Turkey by keeping Assad in power and strengthening Kurdish threat,” The Independent, October 28, 2015.
13. Raja Abdulrahim, “Islamic State advances further into Syria’s Aleppo province,” The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2015.
14. “President Assad’s interview with Russian media outlets, Syrian Arab News Agency, September 16, 2015 http://sana.sy/en/?p=54857
Coercive Engineered Migration: Zionism’s War on Europe (Part 2 of an 11 Part Series)
During the 1920s General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Josef Stalin formulated what he considered to be the essential contribution of Lenin to Marxist political economy. Leninism, he wrote, is Marxism in the era of proletarian revolution. Since 1989 proletarian and national liberation revolutions throughout the world have been overturned by a general, global counter-revolutionary upsurge. It is a counter-revolutionary upsurge that has seen the onslaught of US colour revolutions, which seek to do away with the bourgeois nation-state itself, the last barrier to the total exploitation of the world by the global corporate and financial elite.
In this essay we have argued that the contemporary form of this counter-revolutionary ideology, of this imperial drive for global domination, is Zionism. One could therefore assert that Zionism is imperialism in the age of capitalist counter-revolution. In other words, Zionism is the very form of contemporary Western imperialism. Therefore, unlike Russian and Chinese imperialism, Western imperialism or Zionism has both a religious and ethnic dimension. Zionism is a Messianic and racist ideology based on Talmudic Judaism.
Zionism, through its control of Western finance capitalism, is striving for global governance. Lenin, writing in 1915, described as ‘indisputable’ the fact that ‘development is proceeding towards monopolies, hence, towards a single world monopoly, towards a single world trust’. But Lenin also pointed out that this drive towards unipolar global power would also intensify the contradictions in the global economy. A cogent example of this today is the low-intensity covert war currently being waged by the United States/Israel against Germany: The Western imperial alliance is turning on itself.
However, no people’s resistance to Zionism can be mounted if the empire continues to outsmart its opponents. The aforementioned General Barnett understands his enemies well. He used to teach Marxism in Harvard university and has written a book comparing the African policies of the German Democratic Republic and the Socialist Republic of Romania. In his book Blueprint For Action, he points out that the father of Fourth Generation Warfare is Mao Tse Tung. Imperial grand strategy is now waging war using techniques developed during the Chinese revolution, one of the greatest anti-colonial struggles in history. The key for anti-imperialist resistance today is, therefore, to understand how to turn the tools of imperialism against imperialism.
Marxism is a useful and indispensable tool but is insufficient for an full understanding of the complexities of the information age in the context of imperial strategy and tactics. Barnett and many other US and Israeli military strategists are keen students of social psychology, and in particular General Boyd’s OODA Loop Theory. The OODA stands for observation, orientation, decision, action. According to Boyd, decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can thereby “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage.
One could see this psychology at work during the Arab Spring. The rigid ideological orientation of the average ‘leftist’ saw the uprisings in Tunisia as proof that people were rebelling against a US-backed dictator and his ‘neo-liberal’ regime. This interpretation was reinforced by strategically placed ‘critics’ of US-foreign policy in the news station of Zionism’s ancillary regime, Qatar, while the initial indifference of the Western press confirmed the interpretation of the Tunisian revolt as a genuine, grass roots uprising against US imperialism.
US and Israeli strategists were capable of doing this through their deep understanding of ‘leftist’ discourse. They also understood that the ‘anti-globalisation’ form of the protest movement would fool genuine critics of US imperialism, thereby impeding their ability to react to the US-orchestrated revolutions in a rational manner.
In the Arab Spring, inverted Marxian dialectics, Systems Theory, Psychology, Military Science and Utility Theory were waged against a feckless and discombobulated anti-war movement who would repeat the sound bites of ‘popular uprising’ and the ‘defeat of US imperialism in the Middle East’ implanted in their minds by one of the most impressive and successful US/Israeli geostrategic operations in modern history.
On the eve of NATO’s bombing of Libya, the BBC predictably called upon an old reliable ‘critic of US foreign-policy’ Noam Chomsky. The veteran American philosopher agreed that the West had a “duty” to “stop the massacres” in Libya thus ensuring there would be no moral outrage among the so-called anti-war movement. The invitation of Noam Chomsky by the Zionist-controlled BBC shows the importance for British intelligence of ideologically disarming potential ‘leftist’ opponents in the run-up to meticulously planned wars of aggression, disguised as ‘humanitarian interventions’.
Given Chomsky’s anarchist ideology, the very ideology instrumentalised by the CIA in colour revolutions, the BBC knew he would go along with their fake ‘popular uprising’ in Benghazi, thus providing justification to wage ‘humanitarian’ warfare in support of the ‘revolution’.
In 2013, a massive military destablisation of Brazil was undertaken by US NGOs, operating under the guidance of the CIA, in order to weaken the popularity of a government moving far too close to Russia and China in the eyes of Washington. Again, the CIA’s ‘Vinegar revolution‘ received full support from most ‘leftist’ quarters. Once again, military geostrategy had triumphed over anti-imperialist analysis.
The current refugee crisis proves that US/Israeli military geostrategy is running circles around its opponents, who, instead of identifying the culprits who are using human beings as weapons, are unwittingly collaborating with Zionism’s plan to inundate Europe with migrants for the purposes of fomenting civil war in the European peninsula, in a desperate effort to prevent Eurasian integration, a prospect inimical to what the Pentagon refers to as ‘full spectrum dominance’, US/Zionist global hegemony.
Those who have joined in the chorus of welcoming the refugees/migrants are unwitting participants in an extension of Zionism’s neo-colonial wars in Africa and the Middle East. They are also complicit in the endorsement and cover-up of a modern slave trade. Opposing imperialism requires study of the logic of its geostrategic operations. Imperialism’s deliberate flooding of Europe with a Wahhabised lumpen-proletariat from a war-torn Southern Hemisphere will not help the cause of labour, the cause of human freedom. Rather, it will contribute to prevent the unification of the European-peninsula with Russia and Asia. It will contribute towards the further colonisation and destruction of independent African and Middle Eastern nations such as Eritrea and Syria.
An example of Marxist Leninist parties’ inability to deal with imperialism’s weaponization of migrants comes from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist). Their argument in favour of immigration is sound under normal circumstances but they fail to address the problem of when immigration becomes a tool of imperialism, a specific geopolitical strategy aimed at destabilizing both the country of origin and the destination of the migrant.
The recent resolution of the CPGBML is worth reproducing here in full:
This party firmly believes that immigration is not the cause of the ills of the working class in Britain, which are solely the result of the failings of the capitalist system.
Immigration and asylum legislation and controls under capitalism have only one real goal: the division of the working class along racial lines, thus fatally weakening that class’s ability to organise itself and to wage a revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of imperialism.
These controls have the further effect of creating an army of ‘illegal’ immigrant workers, prey to super exploitation and living in dire conditions as an underclass, outside the system, afraid to organise and exercising a downward pull on the wages and conditions of all workers.
The scourge of racism, along with all other ills of capitalism, will only be finally abolished after the successful overthrow of imperialism. But since immigration can no more be abolished under capitalism than can wage slavery, our call should not be for the further control and scapegoating of immigrants, but the abolition of all border controls, as part of the wider fight to uproot racism from the working-class movement and build unity among workers in Britain, so strengthening the fight for communism.
The problem here is that no distinction is made between immigration into imperialist countries and immigration into semi-colonial type countries. For example, Syria has been forced to close its borders due to the passage of terrorists in the service of imperialism. In such circumstances, it would be ludicrous to condemn the Syrian government for erecting fences to protect its borders. Similarly, Hungary, a small country which has just taken modest steps towards escaping from the clutches of US imperialism under the control of the IMF, has decided to erect fences to protect its borders from what it perceives as an attempt by US imperialism to destablize the country. Under these conditions, such a decision is entirely justified. The CPGBML argues correctly that “the scourge of racism, along with all other ills of capitalism, will only be finally abolished after the successful overthrow of imperialism.” The erection of fences in Hungary is part of that fight against imperialism, when migrants are clearly being used as weapons of imperialist strategy against recalcitrant nation-states.
The fact that Zionism is using the refugee crisis to further its imperialist agenda does not mean, however, that all refugees in the world are being used for this purpose. Rather, just as in the Arab Spring where the social inequalities of capitalism were used by imperialism to further the cause of capitalism, so are many refugees coming from the Middle East and Africa being used for the same purpose.
Throughout the world Homo sapiens is being supplanted by homo economicus: a vacuous, brain-washed, rootless cosmopolitan, a deterritorialised and acculturated nomad, hopelessly blown hither and thither by the exigencies of capital. Meanwhile, Zionism continues to stoke up the incessant and utterly fraudulent ‘War on Terror’, with omnipresent mass surveillance of the “nations” (goyim) while at the same time Jews are being encouraged by the Israeli regime to leave Europe for settlement on Arab lands, ruined and depopulated by Zionism’s wars.
The ‘refugee crisis’ is indubitably one more step towards the creation of a Greater Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu recently told the Israeli National News that Israel must become a “world power”.
To politically correct pundits, Victor Orban’s fence might appear inhumane and xenophobic, but at this moment in history the concrete choice presented to us is between temporary fences designed to protect nations from imperialism or Zionist walls built to imprison humanity.
A Portuguese court of appeals has ordered the extradition of a former CIA officer who was convicted in absentia for her alleged role in the rendition of a suspected terrorist.
Sabrina De Sousa could face four years in jail.
The dual American and Portuguese citizen traveled to Lisbon in April with her husband. When she attempted to fly to the Indian state of Goa to visit her ailing mother in October, she set off a travel-alert indicating she was wanted in Italy. Authorities then arrested her and seized the dual citizen’s American and Portuguese passports.
De Sousa was charged in 2005 for her alleged role in the kidnapping of suspected terrorist and Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. More than 20 other Americans including CIA officials were also convicted in the operation.
After Omar’s release, the cleric said he had been snatched off the streets of Milan after leaving his apartment on Feb. 17, 2003. He said he was thrown into a van, and flown to Egypt where he underwent torture including beatings and electrocution.
Judge Sergio Silocchi reads the sentence of the appeal trial on a CIA-led kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect, Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, at the Milan’s court, Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010.
At the time, De Sousa was registered in Italy as a State Department official at the U.S. Consulate in Milan. However, she was actually a CIA officer.
She maintains that she was chaperoning her son’s ski trip the day Omar was taken. She also says the operation was approved and carried out by higher-ranking CIA officials, who had the backing of Italy’s intelligence community.
She admits she was a translator for the team that led the capture and coordinated with Italian authorities.
Following her charges, De Sousa sued the CIA and the Justice Department for not invoking diplomatic immunity on her behalf. Later in 2009, 23 Americans also were convicted by Italian courts in absentia. None has served prison terms.
During an interview Friday with the Washington Post, De Sousa said she plans to appeal the ruling to Portugal’s Supreme Court.
“I am really shocked,” De Sousa told the Post. “From what I understood, extradition was off the table because it was a trial in absentia. I was not served or told of the charges against me and had zero opportunity to defend myself adequately because the U.S. did not acknowledge the rendition took place and the evidence was classified. Italy also covered all pertinent evidence with ‘state secrets.’”
It is now openly discussed even in mainstream media the fact that Turkey has been intimately involved in fomenting and supporting the war on Syria, with its ultimate goal being the overthrow of the Syrian government and its replacement by a compliant proxy aligned with Turkish President Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood. That this is no longer a ‘conspiracy theory’ but a conspiracy fact not only vindicates my analysis over the last four years, but it also brings to the fore the nefarious role of a NATO member in stoking a brutal and bloody war for its own ends.
Beyond just the war itself, Turkey has been implicated in a wide variety of crimes (some constituting war crimes) which cast Ankara in a very bad light: a supporter of terrorism, a criminal government engaging in acts of aggression against its neighbors and other world powers, the repression of journalists and others who have brought the truth to the light of day, among many others. Taken in total, it becomes clear that under President Erdogan Turkey has become a belligerent actor with delusions of hegemony and a complete disregard for human rights and sovereignty.
But how exactly has this transformation happened? What has been proven regarding Turkish government actions that make it so clear that the regime in Ankara is criminal in nature?
Cataloging Turkish Crimes
The criminality of the Erdogan government can be roughly broken down into the following categories: aggression against sovereign states, material support for international terrorism, and systematic violation of human rights. Naturally, there are many other crimes that would also be included in a full and completing accounting of Ankara’s illegal actions including, but not limited to, corruption, promoting and tacitly supporting fascist gangs, and many others. But it is the support for international terrorism that rises above all others to thrust Turkey into the spotlight as one of the single most important supporters of the global scourge of terrorism.
Turkey’s central role in each and every aspect of terrorism in Syria must be the starting point of any analysis of Turkey’s grave crimes. President Erdogan has not been shy about calling for regime change in Syria, but his position has been far more than merely rhetorical; Erdogan’s government has played a very direct role in the sponsorship, arming, facilitation and military backing of everyone from the Free Syrian Army to Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh).
In 2012, the New York Times confirmed that the CIA was sending weapons and other military materiel into the hands of anti-Assad forces from the Turkish side of the border, using their connections with the Muslim Brotherhood to do so. However, it has also come to light that Turkish intelligence has been front and center in the ongoing campaign to arm and resupply the terror groups such as the al-Nusra Front and others. This fact was exposed by Can Dündar, the editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet, who now faces a potential life sentence at the behest of President Erdogan, who himself called for Dündar to receive multiple life sentences.
What is the reason for the attack on Dündar and other opposition journalists? The Cumhuriyet, one of the most widely read Turkish dailies, published video footage confirming the widespread allegations that Turkish trucks, ostensibly loaded with humanitarian supplies, were actually filled with arms bound for terror groups fighting against Assad, and that those trucks were operated by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT). But it goes much further than that.
Turkey has been directly involved on the ground in Syria both in active military and support roles. In fact, transcripts of wiretaps obtained by Cumhuriyet, and presented in Turkish courts, along with shocking video footage, have confirmed what numerous eyewitnesses have stated: Turkish security forces have been directly involved in shelling and support operations for Nusra front and other jihadi groups in and around Kassab, Syria, among other sites. This is a crucial piece of information because it explains just why those terror groups were able to successfully capture that region in 2014, and recapture it this year. Eyewitnesses in Kassab have confirmed what Syrian soldiers speaking on condition of anonymity had reported, namely that Turkish helicopters and heavy artillery were used in support of Nusra and the other terror groups during both the 2014 and the current campaign.
Of course this policy of alliance with anti-Assad terrorists has been part of Turkey’s modus operandi since the beginning of the conflict. In 2012, Reuters revealed that Turkey, “set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border… ‘It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,’ said a Doha-based source.”
This information was confirmed by Vice President Joe Biden in his spectacular foot-in-mouth speech at Harvard University where he stated:
Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends… [and] the Saudis, the Emirates, etcetera. What were they doing?… They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied, [they] were al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis who were coming from other parts of the world.
But one must guard against the false notion that somehow Turkey’s role has been merely as auxiliary in Syria, as a supporter, but not leader, of the terrorist factions wreaking havoc on the Syrian battlefield. Instead, it is now an inescapable fact, even acknowledged by some high-ranking military and intelligence officials, that Turkey has been the principal financier and supporter of the Islamic State and the other jihadist groups.
According to the UK Independent, President Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan, along with a number of other close associates, have been directly benefiting from the illicit oil trade with the Islamic State. The paper noted that, “Bilal Erdogan… is one of three equal partners in the BMZ group, a major Turkish oil and marine shipping company, which both the Russian and Syrian governments have accused of purchasing oil from ISIS… Bilal Erdogan has been directly involved in the oil trade with ISIS… Turkey downed a Russian jet on 24 November specifically to protect his oil smuggling business.”
In fact, Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi explained that “All of the oil was delivered to a company that belongs to the son of Recep [Tayyip] Erdogan. This is why Turkey became anxious when Russia began delivering airstrikes against the IS infrastructure and destroyed more than 500 trucks with oil already. They’re importing not only oil, but wheat and historic artefacts [sic] as well.”
So it seems that Erdogan and his clique are involved not simply in fomenting war and terrorism in Syria, but also in its plunder, with complex smuggling networks being directly tied to the Turkish President himself. Indeed, just such smuggling networks have been uncovered throughout Asia, tying Turkey into the broader international architecture of terrorism trafficking.
In late 2014 and early 2015, a human trafficking ring was exposed by Chinese authorities. It was revealed that at least ten Turks were responsible for organizing and facilitating the border crossings of a number of Uighurs (Chinese Muslims from Xinjiang), at least one of whom was a wanted Uighur terrorist with others being “radicalized potential terrorists.” These individuals were likely part of a previously documented trend of Uighur extremists traveling to the Middle East to train and fight with the Islamic State and/or other terror groups.
In fact, precisely this trend was exposed two months earlier in September 2014 when Reuters reported that Beijing formally accused militant Uighurs from Xinjiang of having traveled to Islamic State-controlled territory to receive training. Further corroborating these accusations, the Jakarta Post of Indonesia reported that four Chinese Uighur jihadists had been arrested in Indonesia after having traveled from Xinjiang through Malaysia. Other, similar reports have also surfaced in recent months, painting a picture of a concerted campaign to help Uighur extremists travel throughout Asia, communicating and collaborating with transnational terror groups such as IS.
Now, with these latest revelations regarding Turkish nationals being involved in the trafficking of extremists, it seems an invaluable piece of the terrorist transit infrastructure has been exposed. Indeed my assertions above (initially made here in early February 2015) have been substantiated by Syria’s ambassador to China, quoted at length by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his piece Military to Military which notes the following:
[Syria’s ambassador to China Imad Moustapha explained that] ‘China regards the Syrian crisis from three perspectives,’ he said: international law and legitimacy; global strategic positioning; and the activities of jihadist Uighurs, from Xinjiang province in China’s far west. Xinjiang borders eight nations… and, in China’s view, serves as a funnel for terrorism around the world and within China. Many Uighur fighters now in Syria are known to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – an often violent separatist organisation that seeks to establish an Islamist Uighur state in Xinjiang. ‘The fact that they have been aided by Turkish intelligence to move from China into Syria through Turkey has caused a tremendous amount of tension between the Chinese and Turkish intelligence,’ Moustapha said. ‘China is concerned that the Turkish role of supporting the Uighur fighters in Syria may be extended in the future to support Turkey’s agenda in Xinjiang. We are already providing the Chinese intelligence service with information regarding these terrorists and the routes they crossed from on travelling into Syria’ [emphasis added].
Moustapha’s concerns were echoed by a Washington foreign affairs analyst who has closely followed the passage of jihadists through Turkey and into Syria. The analyst, whose views are routinely sought by senior government officials, told me that ‘Erdoğan has been bringing Uighurs into Syria by special transport while his government has been agitating in favour of their struggle in China. Uighur and Burmese Muslim terrorists who escape into Thailand somehow get Turkish passports and are then flown to Turkey for transit into Syria.’ He added that there was also what amounted to another ‘rat line’ that was funnelling Uighurs – estimates range from a few hundred to many thousands over the years – from China into Kazakhstan for eventual relay to Turkey, and then to IS territory in Syria [emphasis added]. ‘US intelligence,’ he said, ‘is not getting good information about these activities because those insiders who are unhappy with the policy are not talking to them.’ He also said it was ‘not clear’ that the officials responsible for Syrian policy in the State Department and White House ‘get it’. IHS-Jane’s Defence Weekly estimated in October that as many as five thousand Uighur would-be fighters have arrived in Turkey since 2013, with perhaps two thousand moving on to Syria. Moustapha said he has information that ‘up to 860 Uighur fighters are currently in Syria.’
It has become clear that Turkey is now unmistakably a major supporter of international terrorism, with Syria being merely the proving ground for a stable of terror groups directly or indirectly working with Erdogan’s government. This is further evidenced by the now documented and verified fact that the Erdogan government was directly involved in the transfer of chemical weapons into the hands of ISIS.
As Turkish MP Eren Erdem explained before the Turkish parliament and to international media, “There is data in this indictment. Chemical weapon materials are being brought to Turkey and being put together in Syria in camps of ISIS which was known as Iraqi Al Qaeda during that time.” Erdem noted that according to an investigation launched (and abruptly closed) by the General Prosecutor’s Office in Adana, Turkish citizens with ties to the intelligence community took part in negotiations with ISIS-linked and Al-Qaeda-linked militants to sell sarin gas for use in Syria. The evidence of these allegations came in the form of wiretapped phone conversations similar to those published earlier this year by Cumhuriyet.
Taken in total, the case against Erdogan’s government is damning. At the same time, one must also note Erdogan’s grave crimes against his own people.
As noted already, Can Dündar and his colleagues at Cumhuriyet have been targeted by Erdogan’s state for their disclosure of Ankara’s dealings with the terrorists of Syria. Just a few weeks ago Dündar, along with Cumhuriyet’s Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul, were charged in a Turkish court with “spying” and “divulging state secrets.” This should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Turkey’s track record when it comes to opposition journalism.
In fact, in December 2014, the Turkish police raided the offices of the Zaman newspaper, one of the most popular in the country, alleging that Zaman was responsible for “launching an armed terror organization.” The authorities detained the Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı , as well as the head of the Samanyolu Media Group, Hidayet Karaca, along with a producer, scriptwriter and director.
The Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) and the Turkey Journalists’ Labor Union (TGS) released a joint statement in condemnation of the raids and the ongoing repression of journalists by the Erdogan government, noting that “Almost 200 journalists were previously held in prison on charges of being a member of a terror organization, violating their right to a fair trial. Journalists are now being detained once again. These developments mean that freedom of the press and opinion is punished in Turkey, which takes its place in the class of countries where the press is not free.”
International organizations too expressed their outrage at this blatant violation of freedom of the press. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its regional group the European Federation of Journalists (EFL), stated that, “We are appalled by this brazen assault on press freedom and Turkish democracy… One year after the exposure of corruption at the heart of government, the authorities appear to be exacting their revenge by targeting those who express opposing views… This latest act demonstrates that the authorities’ contempt for journalism has not diminished.”
Of course, Ankara’s war on freedom of speech, and the media generally, is not relegated to established media outlets such as Zaman and Cumhuriyet, but also to citizen media and social media as well. In response to the leaking of recordings on Twitter documenting corruption among Erdogan cronies and political elites within his Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdogan attacked the social media platform, and his government immediately moved to restrict access to Twitter.
Erdogan even went so far as to suggest a total ban on all social media sites, including Facebook and YouTube, saying that “The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.” This sort of megalomaniacal rhetoric has become the norm for Erdogan, who sees himself as less a president and more a sultan or absolute monarch.
The famous words of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg succinctly and matter-of-factly state that the waging of aggressive war is “essentially an evil thing… to initiate a war of aggression… is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” This is undeniably true. But what happens when one is engaged in an international campaign to destroy a neighboring country through war? What happens when one country enables and participates in the destruction of another? What happens when one country will stop at nothing to come out victorious in a war it is not officially involved in, but covertly manages, and from which it directly benefits? Are these not simply different forms of the same crime, the supreme crime, as it were?
Let’s face it, Turkey is now a mafia state ruled by a criminal regime. It is also a NATO member state. Perhaps now the pernicious illusion of NATO as military alliance defending justice, human rights, and the rule of law can finally be put to rest. While the propagandists will continue the charade, Turkey has permanently exposed the US-NATO-GCC-Israel for the warmongers they are in Syria and around the world. Let’s just hope the world notices.
Iran’s lawmakers introduce an urgent bill, demanding compensation from the US for “the damages which it has inflicted” on the country since 1953.
The MPs, irked by recent moves in the US for appropriation of Iran’s frozen assets, presented the bill Monday with a single urgency status, meaning it will be discussed immediately in parliament.
“In order to redeem the rights of the Iranian nation, the Administration is obliged to take necessary legal measures on receiving compensations and damages from the American government in proportion to its role in the following cases,” the draft bill said, listing the cases in 11 entries.
On top of the list, the bill demands restitution from the US over loss of lives and property damage resulting from the CIA-led 1953 coup which toppled the government of Mohammad Mosaddeq and restored the shah as an absolute dictator.
The US should also pay compensation for more than 223,000 Iranians killed and about 600,000 others injured “due to American intelligence, political and military cooperation” with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in his 1980-1988 war on Iran, it said.
The bill further seeks damages over US support for MKO and other terrorist groups in assassinating and kidnapping Iranians and hijacking the country’s flights as well as Washington’s sanctions on Tehran and blockade of its assets.
The MPs have also cited the US government complicit in Saudi killing of Iranian pilgrims in 1987 and deaths of several hundred others during the Hajj stampede in Mina in September and demanded compensation.
The motion comes in the wake of recent measures taken in the US to appropriate Iranian assets frozen in bank accounts in the country.
The US Supreme Court is reportedly considering a case filed by over 1,300 Americans pressing to receive billions of dollars of the Iranian money in awarded damages over two bombings in Beirut and Saudi Arabia in 1983 and 1996.
The Obama administration has reportedly urged the court not to overturn the decisions of US circuit and appeals courts to award the plaintiffs.
In 2012, President Barack Obama issued an executive order blocking all of the Central Bank of Iran’s assets held in the US in order to prevent Tehran from repatriating them.
At the same time, Congress passed a law which included a provision making it easier for the Americans to use Iranian funds frozen in the US.
“The American government’s move to lay hands on Iran’s blockaded assets amounts to theft and we are working to answer it,” Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said on Monday.
On Thursday, US media said each of the 53 hostages held during the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran by Iranian students would receive compensation under a spending bill passed last Friday.
The U.S. establishment writers on Russia are one and all “presstitutes” and when you put their writings together, back to back, in 40 pages or so as Johnson’s Russia List has so kindly done in its Christmas Eve issue, the result is an astounding propaganda barrage.
For those of you in the general public who are, likely as not, unfamiliar with this Internet resource, Johnson’s Russia List is an Internet digest published roughly six days a week year round and focused on Russia, now with a separate section on Ukraine.
The JRL is a project domiciled at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University and operated by Richard Johnson who founded it something like 20 years ago. Its banner tells us that it receives partial funding from George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, partly from the Carnegie Corporation, New York, neither of which may be considered neutral in matters concerning Russia, quite the contrary.
But further funding comes from the voluntary contributions of subscribers, of whom there are perhaps 600, mostly American academics and university centers having an interest in Russian affairs. Appearing in JRL is an ambition of a great many wannabe experts and authorities in the field, mostly but not exclusively political scientists and journalists.
As an institution seeking to be fair-handed in purveying news and opinion about Russia, the JRL has been in the cross-hairs of activists on both sides of the highly divisive pro- and anti-Putin camps. About a year ago one of the most outspoken Russia-bashers, liberal economist Anders Aslund, publicly broke with JRL for what he saw as going easy on Putin in its selection of material. Alternative media commentators like Michael Averko have hit out at JRL for the opposite alleged abuse. In Johnson’s defense, one might argue he chooses selon le marché, i.e., from what is being published.
Undeniably, U.S. and U.K. scholars and pundits are lopsided in their bias against Putin and Russia. Nevertheless, even within the scope of this allowance for what there is to choose from and the presumed desire to run his shop straight down the middle, the Dec. 24 issue of the Johnson’s Russia List was a doozy. The count was 14 articles or transcripts of video events slamming Russia and Putin to zero articles holding any other view.
And among the publishers or hosts of the 14 entries being republished in JRL are not just heavy guns in the media wars but also would-be temples of learning: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the European Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Policy magazine, the Center for European Policy Analysis, the American Council on Foreign Relations, The Moscow Times, the Kennan Institute, The National Review, Forbes.com and Home Box Office.
Putin’s personality figures large in nearly all of these essays and discussions as the sole explanation for all the turns in Russian foreign and domestic policy. This is entirely in keeping with the ad hominem argumentation that has become the norm in political discussions generally in the U.S.
Joseph Stalin, with his no man, no issue philosophy of governance must be chuckling, wherever he is, over how this view has caught on in what passes today for polite society.
The phenomenon is something I felt acutely this past spring in its McCarthy-ite form when I appeared as one of three participants in the Euronews hosted talk show The Network. The subject of the day was the assassination of Kremlin critic and opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot down within proximity of the Kremlin walls a few days earlier.
We were discussing media coverage of that event and who was to blame for politically motivated crimes in Russia, when a fellow panelist, Elmar Brok, the chairman of the European Parliament’s committee on foreign relations, who was irritated by my insistence that Russian media gave a great many different takes on the news and was anything but monolithic, said in an aside to me that was picked up by the microphones and later went on air: “How much is the Kremlin paying you?”
Not being a hardened politician like Brok, stunned by the way a senior official of the E.U. could stoop to such low-life viciousness, and naively believing that Europe’s most watched news station would not broadcast crude libel, I said nothing in response and the talk moved on.
Having just come back a week ago from Moscow, where my stay was picked up by a Kremlin-funded institution, I now can give a fairly precise answer to MEP Brok’s impertinent and malicious question: for three years of occasional guest appearances as interviewee and panelist on the Cross Talk program of Russia Today, I have been paid three nights in a five-star hotel in downtown Moscow, lavish buffet breakfasts, a tour of the Kremlin and a seat at the banquet dinner celebration of Russia Today’s 10 years on air where Vladimir Putin was the keynote speaker.
For this token of respect by my hosts at RT, I am duly grateful. Yet, I know full well that it is not to be compared with the lavish hospitality bestowed on attendees at the annual Kremlin-organized gatherings of the Valdai Discussion Club to which many senior U.S. academics, Angela Stent, of Georgetown University, to name one, Robert Legvold of Columbia and Tufts, to name another, have been invited regularly notwithstanding the fact that most are hostile, at best agnostic to the “Putin regime” in their public writings and appearances.
Now that I have “come clean” about Kremlin blandishments that have come my way, I turn to my political opponents who have a monopoly on Thursday’s JRL and ask how much they are benefiting in terms of grants, professional promotions and access to the high and mighty in Washington for publicly supporting the propaganda lines of State Department handouts. I wouldn’t dream of accusing them of being on the CIA payroll…
Put another way and avoiding rhetorical questions, I assert plainly that the Establishment writers on Russia are one and all “presstitutes” and when you put their writings together, back to back, in 40 pages or so as JRL has so kindly done in the Christmas Eve issue, the result is an astounding propaganda barrage.
From these collected rants by some very well known “authorities,” I have chosen the one piece which presents itself as sort of scholarly. In this it stands apart from the slapstick humor of Richard Haass and Kimberley Marten in the transcript of an HBO airing and from the rehash of analyses of the fatal weaknesses in the Putin regime that constitute the bulk of the writings of other essayists.
Unlike the others, Kirk Bennett’s article would appear to break new ground. In “Russia and the West. The Myth of Russia’s Containment: Has the West always had it in for Russia? Hardly,” we are treated to an historical analysis intended to debunk what the author identifies as a key Kremlin propaganda line. It tries to refute Vladimir Putin’s assertions in several speeches that the West has always been an opponent of Russia, whether out of envy or fear.
This victimization narrative of the Kremlin, in the view of the author, and of the great majority of U.S. international relations experts, is used to whip up patriotic fervor in the broad Russian population and underpin a regime that is undergoing great strain from economic hardships and stagnation, as well as from the international isolation that followed its annexation of Crimea.
The author starts out in paragraph two citing the Russian poet Fyodor Tyutchev to show us he is no carpetbagging political scientist, that Russian studies are in his blood. Indeed, as we see through his text to the end, he has read his Russian and European history.
That is his strong point, compared to many of the other loudmouths in the articles republished by Johnson’s Russia List. It is also his weak point: he has read Russian history but he has not researched or written it. This is not an accusation, but a mere statement of the facts.
Bennett is introduced to us as a “former U.S. Foreign Service officer who spent most of his career working on post-Soviet issues.” For an historical overview like the article in question that goes back almost 300 years, he is clearly something of a lightweight.
Bennett’s article appeared originally in The American Interest, the publication founded and run by the key popularizer of neoconservative philosophy, Francis Fukuyama. Bennett otherwise has recently published in the online platform of The American Center for a European Ukraine, which should explain where he is coming from politically and to whom he is reaching out.
In effect, Bennett is just one more American thinker who presumes that he understands Russian history and Russian national interest vastly better than the Russians themselves do. In this regard, my best advice to him and to his followers is to sit down with a couple of books written by Dominic Lieven, a scion of one of the great families in the Russian Baltics who is presently a visiting professor at Yale University and who spent more than 25 years as professor of Russian history at the London School of Economics.
The two books in question are Russia Against Napoleon (2012) and The End of Tsarist Russia (2015). Both present the history of momentous periods from a novel perspective, Russia’s own, based on extensive work in the Russian historical archives. Together they sweep into the dust bin most of the simplistic remarks of Bennett about the nature of Russian-European relations since the Eighteenth Century up to 1917.
For example, Lieven explains at length the competing imperialisms, European and Russian of the Nineteenth Century, which were underpinned not only by Russia’s Panslavism, but by Pan-Germanism and by myths to justify Anglo-Saxon world hegemony, which put the powers at odds and which spread widely the denigration of Russia that survives to our day in the West.
From Lieven’s archival research and detailed attention to the advice the Russian rulers received from their senior advisers, both in 1812-1815 and in 1906-1917, both from generals and civilians, it is clear that the Putin narrative on Russian history which Bennett tries to shoot down had far wider acceptance among serious, well-educated Russians and far more subtlety to it than Bennett can imagine.
But Bennett’s problem is not just his average-level consumer’s as opposed to scholar’s knowledge of Russian history. It extends to current events. Bennett distorts present realities. Yes, he is right that Vladimir Putin from time to time plays the “victimization” card, just as from time to time, more generally, the Russian President invokes nationalism.
The simple fact is that in Russia, just as in most Western countries including the United States, nationalism has broad resonance and popular understanding, playing as it does to the heartstrings, whereas Realpolitik, which is the dominant approach to policy behind Putin’s thinking, is seen as cold and unfeeling by the public, too cerebral, so is held back from the addresses to the nation that Bennett cites.
It would be more appropriate to describe Vladimir Putin’s characterization of Russia’s talking partners on the international stage as “Frenemies.” Anyone paying close attention to his major speeches knows that he is never excited, least of all does he engage in “tirades” over the conduct of this or that country in its relations to Russia because the underlying expectation of Putin is that all countries are in permanent competition for their own advantage and only alignment of interests can ensure genuine meeting of minds and common action. Personalities as such count for almost nothing.
Contrary to the facile generalization of Bennett, Vladimir Putin has always followed a foreign policy that had a plan A, of joining NATO or otherwise entering into a shared security platform with the West, and a default position plan B of going it alone, as we now see today after the sharp confrontation over Ukraine.
It will be interesting to see in the days ahead if David Johnson has the courage of his convictions and publishes my indictment of his latest harvest of anti-Russian invective.
Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of the American Committee for East West Accord. His most recent book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015. It is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon.com and affiliated websites.
Western media are reporting headline claims that “new evidence supports claims about Syrian state detention deaths”, saying that “a leading rights group has released new evidence that up to 7,000 Syrians who died in state detention centres were tortured, mistreated, or executed”, noting that this information is a moral wakeup call and demanding that officials being held to account should be “central to peace efforts.”
However, as is usually so, not everything is quite as it seems. So let’s take a look at the facts.
First the timing.
As has been commonplace the timing of the reports like these have almost always coincided with important diplomatic meetings or just after important UN resolutions are passed.
For example, beginning in mid-March claims began to pour in that Assad had been using chlorine bombs against his opponents. Media reports would cite the fact that only 2 months later the government had already been accused of using chlorine 35 times. What they failed to mention however was that no claims were made for an entire 7 months before this. So what changed after these 7 months?
Well, a UN resolution was passed condemning the use of chlorine, that’s what.
The government’s alleged chlorine campaign “began just over a week after the UN security council passed a resolution under chapter 7 of the UN charter condemning its use,” the Guardian would report. For more than half of a year no claims are made and then a week after a UN resolution is passed, all of a sudden a total of 35 are made in just under 2 months.
If Assad was really using chlorine, why would he wait a full 7 months only to use it at the exact time that it would prove to be the most disastrous for him?
This, coupled with the fact that former OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) inspectors admit that there was insufficient evidence to prove the use of chlorine, let alone assign blame for who did it.
And further troubling still is that the claims came from the “White Helmets” “civil defense group”, who have been notorious for producing false claims against the Syrian government. In actuality the White Helmets are part of a slick propaganda campaign aimed at mobilizing support for foreign intervention and calling for a “no-fly zone” to oust the president. They have financial links to Western-backed NGOs who relentlessly work towards furthering the US agenda in the region, and are themselves embedded with al-Qaeda and ISIS. Their primary function is to demonize the Syrian government while acting as al-Qaeda’s clean-up crew, both literally and in terms of propaganda, as one video shows them waiting to clean up dead bodies moments after al-Qaeda commits summary executions against unarmed civilians. They have produced numerous fake videos, fake photos, and fake narratives in order to manipulate public opinion towards their bias.(1)
Needless to say, their words aren’t credible.
In terms of the the Caesar photos, they too are published days before an important Syrian peace conference between the US and Russia, further raising questions as to whether the timing has anything to do with helping Syrian detainees or everything to do with political impact.
As noted by Human Rights Investigations, a previous report of the photos was done by Carter-Ruck and Co. Solicitors of London and published through CNN and the Guardian in January of 2014. The Carter-Ruck report claims that the 55,000 images available show 11,000 dead detainees. However, according to the recent HRW report only 28,707 of the photos are ones that they have “understood to have died in government custody” while the remaining 24,568 are of dead soldiers killed in battle. That is, half of the alleged “torture victims” are actually dead soldiers.
Of the remaining half (6,786), HRW maintains that they “understand” the photos are of dead detainees, this is where the media is getting the “7,000” figure from, yet they themselves admit later on that they were only “able to verify 27 cases of detainees whose family members’ statements regarding their arrest and physical characteristics matched the photographic evidence.”
So, in other words, half of the original batch of photos aren’t torture victims, while of the other half only 27 can be verified by HRW.
There is also reason to doubt the reliability of these 27 cases.
Previous reports of the photos also coincided with important diplomatic events like the 2014 Geneva II conferences. However, at that time, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay admitted that the reports were unverified: “the report… if verified, is truly horrifying.” While it was admitted by outlets like Reuters that they were unable “to determine the authenticity of Caesar’s photographs or to contact Caesar” while Amnesty International notes that they too “cannot authenticate the images.”
One wonders what happened during this time that allowed HRW to do what these others could not just a year prior.
Leaving that aside however, let’s say that they are true, that they do prove that the Syrian government tortured 27 individuals, and that holding the officials “to account should be central to any peace efforts.”
It follows then that the major offenders should be held to account. Namely the United States.
Of the top 10 recipients of US foreign aid programs in 2014, all of them practice torture while at least half of them are reportedly doing so on a massive scale, according to leading human rights organizations.
For example, according to the UN torture in Afghanistan’s prisons continues to be widespread, while according to Human Rights Watch in Kenya police “tortured, raped, and otherwise abused and arbitrarily detained at least 1,000 refugees between mid-November 2012 and late January 2013.”
The worst abuses of torture in government detention centers however were in Nigeria, which received $693 million of US taxpayer money. There, according to Amnesty, nearly 1,000 people died in military custody in only the first 6 months of 2013. This means that “Nigeria’s military has killed more civilians than (Boko Haram) militants did” within the same time frame. Recently, the Nigerian army, instead of fighting Boko Haram has massacred upwards of 1,000 Muslims belonging to a peaceful movement opposed to extremism.
In terms of Israel, by far the leading recipient with $3.1 billion, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel accused the government of torturing and sexually assaulting Palestinian children suspected of minor crimes, while also keeping detainees in cages outside during winter. “The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones, and 74 per cent experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation.”
Not to mention our own widely publicized torture program.
According to the official narrative, the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programs began under Bush after 9/11 and were considered “rogue elements” and “aberrations” to normal CIA practice, they were approved at the highest levels of government, but were eventually ended under Obama in 2009.
Yet as leading international security scholar Dr. Nafeez Ahmed found in a recent and thorough investigation “Obama did not ban torture in 2009, and has not rescinded it now. He instead rehabilitated torture with a carefully crafted Executive Order that has received little scrutiny.”
It demanded interrogation techniques be brought in line with the US Army Field Manual, which is in compliance with the Geneva Convention. However, the manual was revised in 2006 to include 19 forms of interrogation and the practice of extraordinary rendition. “A new UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) review of the manual shows that a wide-range of torture techniques continue to be deployed by the US government,” Ahmed notes, “including isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, chemically-induced psychosis, adjustments of environmental and dietary rules, among others.”
In his book “Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation” the highly renowned Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alfred McCoy shows that from the 1950s onward the CIA spent billions “improving” interrogation techniques.
At the start, the emphasis was on electroshock, hypnosis, psychosurgery, and drugs, including the infamous use of LSD on unsuspecting soldiers, yet they proved ineffective. It was later found that sensory disorientation and “self-inflicted pain”, such as forcing a subject to stand for many hours with arms outstretched, were far more effective means of breaking individuals; the exact torture techniques it has been shown the US still employs to this day.(2)
The CIA found that by using only the deprivation of the senses, a state akin to psychosis can be induced in just 48 hours.
They found that the KGB’s most devastating torture technique of all was not crude physical beatings, but simply forcing victims to stand for days on end. “The legs swelled, the skin erupted spreading legions, the kidneys shut down, and hallucinations began” explains McCoy, “all incredibly painful.”
Refined through decades of practice, “the CIA’s use of sensory deprivation relies on seemingly banal procedures: heat and cold, light and dark, noise and silence, feast and famine,” yet this combines to form “a systematic attack on the sensory pathways of the human mind” for devastating effect.
These are not “aberrations”, but instead the fruition of over half a century’s work in the experimentation of the science of cracking the code of the human mind, of the perfection of psychological torture into its most sophisticated forms.
“With the election and re-election of President Barak Obama, the problem of torture has not, as many of us have once hoped, simply disappeared, wiped away by sweeping executive orders,” McCoy explains, “Instead it is now well into a particularly sordid second phase, called impunity.”
Simply put, impunity is the political process of legalizing illegal acts.
“In this case, torture.”(3)
Instead of ending, US torture “continues to be deployed by the US government” in its most destructive forms.
It has been re-packaged and rehabilitated, codifying into law, and vanished from the general public consciousness.
Furthermore, not only does the US engage in torture on a mass scale, it and its allies as well “outsource” their torture to various regimes, utilizing their intelligence and security services to do their dirty work for them.
It was recently revealed by numerous Libyan dissidents that the UK government had entangled itself in a deep and sordid relationship with Muammar Gaddafi that amounted to “a criminal conspiracy”, as heard before the UK high court.
A conspiracy where the UK had become “enmeshed in illegality” and involved in “rendition, unlawful detention and torture.”
The victims claim that British intelligence routinely blackmailed them, threatened their families with unlawful imprisonment and abuse if they did not cooperate. Information was extracted through torture in prisons in Tripoli and fed into the British court systems as secret evidence that could not be challenged.
Yet this merely represents a wider trend whereby Western governments commit horrendous crimes in collusion with foreign states, and then use those same acts as justification for aggression against them.
The United States attempted to justify the invasion of Iraq on non-existent WMD’s after it had supplied the same weapons to the country decades prior to wage war on Iran.
As well it was Gaddafi’s alleged brutality and use of torture that was invoked to justify the devastating attack on Libya that has left the country in shambles and overrun with suffering and terrorism.
And so too with Syria.
Not only is the United States by degrees of magnitude more culpable for the crime of torture, it also was intimately involved in offshoring its crimes to Syrian jails.
A key participant in the CIA’s covert rendition program, Syria was one of the “most common destinations for rendered subjects.”
So while torture in Syria is all too real, what is commonly left out is 3 little words: “with our support.”
First we utilize, exploit, and propagate the atrocities, and then proceed to bask in our own moral righteousness as we denounce others for the crimes that we helped commit, utilizing them to justify further atrocities and aggression for shortsighted geopolitical aims.
If “officials being held to account” are really “central to any peace effort” in regards to torture, we know exactly where to find them: right here at home in Washington and London.
- For more on this, see Vanessa Beeley’s great reports, “‘White Helmets’: New Breed of Mercenaries and Propagandists, Disguised as ‘Humanitarians’ in Syria”, 21st Century Wire, Pt. 1: http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/09/01/white-helmets-new-breed-of-mercenaries-and-propagandists-disguised-as-humanitarians-in-syria/, Pt. 2: http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/09/01/white-helmets-new-breed-of-mercenaries-and-propagandists-disguised-as-humanitarians-in-syria/, & overview with interview: http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-propaganda-war-in-syria-report-ties-white-helmets-to-foreign-intervention/209435/.
- Alfred McCoy, Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation.
- Alfred McCoy giving a lecture on his book “Torture and Impunity” at Madison’s Overture Center, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgazW9sRrW4.
Glenn Greenwald has written an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times. In this editorial he asserts that American spies are motivated primarily by the desire to thwart terrorist plots. Such that their inability to do so (i.e., the attacks in Paris) coupled with the associated embarrassment motivates a public relations campaign against Ed Snowden. Greenwald further concludes that recent events are being opportunistically leveraged by spy masters to pressure tech companies into installing back doors in their products. Over the course of this article what emerges is a worldview which demonstrates a remarkable tendency to accept events at face value, a stance that’s largely at odds with Snowden’s own documents and statements.
For example, Greenwald states that American spies have a single overriding goal, to “find and stop people who are plotting terrorist attacks.” To a degree this concurs with the official posture of the intelligence community. Specifically, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence specifies four topical missions in its National Intelligence Strategy: Cyber Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterproliferation, and Counterintelligence.
Yet Snowden himself dispels this notion. In an open letter to Brazil he explained that “these [mass surveillance] programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”
And the public record tends to support Snowden’s observation. If the NSA is truly focused on combatting terrorism it has an odd habit of spying on oil companies in Brazil and Venezuela. In addition anyone who does their homework understands that the CIA has a long history of overthrowing governments. This has absolutely nothing to do with stopping terrorism and much more to do with catering to powerful business interests in places like Iran (British Petroleum), Guatemala (United Fruit), and Chile (ITT Corporation). The late Michael Ruppert characterized the historical links between spies and the moneyed elite as follows: “The CIA is Wall Street, and Wall Street is the CIA.”
The fact that Greenwald appears to accept the whole “stopping terrorism” rationale is extraordinary all by itself. But things get even more interesting…
Near the end of his article Greenwald notes that the underlying motivation behind the recent uproar of spy masters “is to depict Silicon Valley as terrorist-helpers for the crime of offering privacy protections to Internet users, in order to force those companies to give the U.S. government ‘backdoor’ access into everyone’s communications.”
But if history shows anything, it’s that the perception of an adversarial relationship between government spies and corporate executives has often concealed secret cooperation. Has Greenwald never heard of Crypto AG, or RSA, or even Google? These are companies who at the time of their complicity marketed themselves as protecting user privacy. In light of these clandestine arrangements Cryptome’s John Young comments that it’s “hard to believe anything crypto advocates have to say due to the far greater number of crypto sleazeball hominids reaping rewards of aiding governments than crypto hominid honorables aiding one another.”
It’s as if Greenwald presumes that the denizens of Silicon Valley, many of whose origins are deeply entrenched in government programs, have magically turned over a new leaf. As though the litany of past betrayals can conveniently be overlooked because things are different. Now tech vendors are here to defend our privacy. Or at least that’s what they’d like us to believe. In the aftermath of the PRISM scandal, which was disclosed by none other than Greenwald and Snowden, the big tech of Silicon Valley is desperate to portray itself as a victim of big government.
You see, the envoys of the Bay Area’s new economy have formulated a convincing argument. That’s what they get paid to do. The representatives of Silicon Valley explain in measured tones that tech companies have stopped working with spies because it’s bad for their bottom line. Thus aligning the interests of private capital with user privacy. But the record shows that spies often serve private capital. To help open up markets and provide access to resources in foreign countries. And make no mistake there’s big money to be made helping spies. Both groups do each other a lot of favors.
And so a question for Glenn Greenwald: what pray tell is there to prevent certain CEOs in Silicon Valley from betraying us yet again, secretly via covert backdoors, while engaged in a reassuring Kabuki Theater with government officials about overt backdoors? Giving voice to public outrage while making deals behind closed doors. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before during an earlier debate about allegedly strong cryptography. Subtle zero-day flaws are, after all, plausibly deniable.
How can the self-professed advocate of adversarial journalism be so credulous? How could a company like Apple, despite its bold public rhetoric, resist overtures from spy masters any more than Mohammad Mosaddegh, Jacobo Árbenz, or Salvador Allende? Doesn’t adversarial journalism mean scrutinizing corporate power as well as government power?
Methinks Mr. Greenwald has some explaining to do. Whether he actually responds with anything other than casual dismissal has yet to be seen.
We work so hard to establish ourselves and to get where we are and to have somebody (Jonathan Pollard) screw it up… and then have Jewish organizations line up behind this guy and try to make him out a hero of the Jewish people, it bothers the hell out of me…
— Admiral Sumner Shapiro, US Navy Rear Admiral who served as Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence (1978-82), Washington Post, 6/16/2008
We … feel obligated to go on record with the facts regarding Pollard in order to dispel the myths that have arisen from the clever public relations campaign… aiming at transforming Pollard from greedy, arrogant betrayer of the American national trust into Pollard committed Israeli patriot.
— Sumner Shapiro, William Studeman, John Butts and Thomas Brooks, former Directors of Naval Intelligence cited in Ronald Olive, Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How one of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice, Annapolis Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 248.
Over two decades ago, Harvard political science professor, Samuel Huntington, argued that global politics would be defined by a ‘clash of civilizations’. His theories have found some of the most aggressive advocates among militant Zionists, inside Israel and abroad.
During the past month, the Israeli regime has been slaughtering and wounding thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. The Israeli state terrorists, who commit mass murder in Palestine, are part of a movement that sees an inevitable mortal final battle between Zionism and the Islamic and Western world.
Many Western democratic leaders have questioned Huntington’s prognosis and discreetly refuted the Zionist belief that different faiths and cultures cannot live and work together.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, leading Western Zionist ideologues have argued that, while liberal values should be reaffirmed, the US and EU leaders must recognize ‘malign global Islamic trends’. Influential Western Zionist journalists and ideologues, who dominate the mass media, argue that ‘hardline Islamism’ is on the rise, even in previously moderate Muslim countries like Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh… These ideologues (for example Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times ) systematically avoid commenting on the rise of hardline Zionism in its most racist form in Israel and the conversion of formerly moderate Zionist organizations into willing accomplices of Israeli state terror against a captive people.
Together, these developments in Israel and among the major Zionist organizations in the US and the European Union have limited the space for critics of the ‘clash of civilizations’ dogma.
State terror assaults, such as those taking place daily in Palestine, incite tensions between Zionists and non-Zionists – and that is their intent. Larger structural and systemic forces are at work and are driving Zionist radicalization. One of the most pernicious is the way in which wealthy US and EU Zionist individuals and organizations, in particular the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, have used their economic power to spread the most intolerant forms of Judaism into the rest of the Western World.
The effects are now visible in the major political institutions and media of the US, England and the Continent. Previously, France was held up as an example of a successful multi-cultural nation – a dubious assumption as any historian of colonial France can testify. But that image is rapidly changing. Influential Zionists have fomented widespread Islamophobia and authored legislation restricting free speech which has outlawed criticism of Israel as ‘anti-Semitism’.
French civil libertarians have noted that political and social space has increasingly narrowed for ‘non-Zionists’, especially for anyone critical of Israel’s state terrorism. In other words, there is immense pressure in France to ‘keep quiet’ or self-censor in the face of Zionist racist brutality – so much for Les Droits de L’Homme et Du Citoyen.
For over a decade, Zionist influence, especially from Israel’s far-right Netanyahu regime, has eroded the French version of ‘moderate Zionism’, replacing it with a more doctrinaire, exclusivist and authoritarian version. World-wide condemnation of Israel’s massacre of over 4,000 entrapped Palestinians in Gaza, the world largest prison camp, led the Netanyahu regime to resort to a virulent Zionist version of ‘identity politics’ to rally support for the slaughter – or enforce silence among the horrified. Israeli Cabinet ministers recently denounced US President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as ‘anti-Semites’ for their administration’s negotiations over Iran. Numerous prestigious rabbis have blessed the killing of unarmed Palestinians. A prominent Israeli jurist, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked urged the killing of Arab women so they would not give birth to ‘little snakes’. Israeli-Jewish judges have exonerated Israeli soldiers, police, and settlers for killing Palestinian children – even unarmed teenage Arab girls hysterical over their brutal humiliation. And world public opinion is ordered to ‘move along, look away, nothing for you to see here…’
All the major overseas Jewish organizations have marched in step. In the United States, a country with a democratic constitution and centuries-old Bill of Rights, self-styled ‘mainstream Zionists’ have defended Israeli spies and criminals, as well as un-extraditable swindlers, and organized nation-wide networks of university, professional and business organizations to demand the firing of colleagues and to suppress free speech and free assembly of Israel’s critics.
First and foremost, major Zionist organizations and leaders have stoked the fire of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racist rhetoric, which has become commonplace in the mass media and among Republican candidates engaged in the current Presidential nomination campaign.
The convergence of these developments in Israel and among the Zionist power configuration in North America, Europe and the Middle East is fueling the idea of a ‘clash of civilizations’.
The ideological marriage of Herzl and Huntington is fast eroding the former reality of Jewish and non-Jewish integration and intermingling across the globe. The alternative to a plural civilization is more primitive and brutal injustice, violence and death.
Contemporary Manifestations of Zionist Power: The Release of the Most Damaging Spy-Traitor in US History
On November 20, 2015, former Naval Intelligence Analyst, Jonathan Pollard, the American-Jewish spy for Israel, was freed by the Obama regime under Zionist pressure after repeated refusals by three Republican and one Democratic President and over the objections of the heads of all 27 major US intelligence agencies. The significance of this release has to be viewed against the history of Pollard’s crimes.
Fabricating Lies to Justify Obama’s Release of Pollard
The mass media and the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (AIPAC, ADL, etc…), claim that 1) Pollard committed espionage against US security for ‘altruistic reasons’ — a deep concern for Israel’s security and because US intelligence agencies had refused to share crucial information with Israel’s intelligence counterparts (out of anti-Semitism), 2) the information Pollard handed over had no lasting harm and did not endanger US security, and 3) Pollard’s punishment was ‘excessive’, his ‘repentance’ was sincere and his example precluded any future Israeli espionage activity against the US. These assertions are completely false.
Pollard was a mercenary, spying against the US out of greed. He lived a decadent, expensive lifestyle and had demanded the Israelis pay him a total package of over $250,000 for his work. The Israeli Embassy was known to have paid Pollard, a US Naval Analyst, to spy against the United States government. Court records reveal that he collected over $50,000 for ‘expenses’ during his espionage career, including expensive jewelry, and a monthly stipend of $2500. Court records furthermore reveal that he offered to sell additional secret documents to Pakistan, Apartheid South Africa, Australia, Russia and some Middle East countries. He collected dozens of box-loads of confidential documents, many of which had nothing to do with the ‘security of Israel’, but were deemed essential to US global security, including a top secret ten volume set of National Security Agency high level codes exposing the most advanced means and methods of espionage and the main targets of intelligence collection. Some of his ‘vacuumed-up’ treasure trove included the identity of US intelligence operatives and assets in Warsaw pact countries and the Soviet Union. The 27 US intelligence agencies have consistently opposed Pollard’s release because his sale of this information to the Israelis led to the capture and execution of US operatives after Israel handed over this top-secret information to the Soviet Union in exchange for allowing Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel in massive numbers. Needless to say, this treason crippled US intelligence operations and led to deaths. US military and intelligence officials view Pollard as having ‘blood on his hands’. So much for the ‘altruistic American Zionist keen on helping insecure, little Israel.’ Years of Zionist propaganda and lobbying have obscured this aspect of Pollard’s crimes.
Excessive Punishment or Excessive Leniency?
Far right Israeli Cabinet Ministers and liberal American Jews, supporters and opponents of Pollard, pundits and editorialists argue that the life imprisonment given to Pollard was out of proportion to the crime of treason. They claim that, after 30 years, he was ‘overdue’ for release.
The severity of the punishment is determined by the crime and the damage caused. In case of treason and espionage committed by US officials, (especially for money), the sentence is always severe. The leaders of the John Anthony Walker Naval spy ring were given multiple life sentences in 1985 and there are many other similar cases.
Among the documents Pollard handed over to his Israeli handlers (operating out of the Israeli Embassy), was US intelligence on strategic installations in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. No doubt, this provided Israel with strategic coordinates to bomb major security facilities in those countries as well as facilitated their brutal invasion and occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s. Pollard’s treachery led to the death of thousands of civilian lives in Lebanon and facilitated the wars in Iraq and Syria. The damage to those countries and to innocent people would not have been considered by the judge in Pollard’s life sentence – but it must be considered here, in understanding the enormity of his crimes. Pollard has boasted that he was operating out of a ‘racial imperative’ to protect Israel.
Pollard did not serve a life sentence. In fact, while in prison he became an Israeli citizen, a salaried officer in the Israeli armed forces and, after divorcing his American wife (who had also engaged in espionage for pay and served several years in prison), he re-married a Canadian-Israeli woman. This sheds a different light on the ‘severity’ of a life sentence for treason.
Pollard did not serve this ‘life sentence’. He was paroled in November 2015 (to the cheers of his adoring Jewish-American fans) demonstrating the wealth and power of American Zionists and their ability to buy the support of US politicians, domestic and foreign notables and the entire Israeli-Jewish political spectrum-and push aside the objections of the heads of the three major US armed services and intelligence agencies.
Israeli public opinion overwhelmingly supports Pollard and regards him as a ‘role model’ for other US Zionists in official positions. Contrary to Israeli lies, several other major Israeli spy operations occurred in the US after Pollard, including the case involving AIPAC officials, Rosen and Weissman, and Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin during George W. Bush’s administration.
In stark contrast to the freeing of an Israeli spy responsible for endangering the security of thousands of US operatives abroad and millions of innocent civilians, two authentic American political prisoners, who have fought for the rights of minorities, rot in jail with no prospect of freedom. Leonard Peltier, a Native American leader has spent 38 years in the highest security prison and Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American leader from Philadelphia, whose 33 years in prison have been on death row or brutal solitary confinement. Both were framed by perjured evidence in a parody of justice, which has revolted millions around the world. Neither threatened US security. Over the years, numerous witnesses, legal authorities and academics have testified regarding the miscarriage of justice that characterized their ‘show trials’ and have pleaded for their humanitarian release.
Unlike Pollard, and despite decades of worldwide campaigns for their release, Peltier and Abu-Jamal will probably die entombed in prison. Unlike Pollard, their cases were never about treason, selling information and greed. They have worked hard for justice within their communities, hence earning the hatred of the police state. They fought to serve their oppressed American communities, rather than an oppressive and racist Israeli elite – determined to oppress and erase the native Palestinian population.
The decisive factor has been the political power of Pollard’s supporters, the US Zionist Power Configuration, which leads President Obama and 430 US members of Congress by the nose. Through their media connections, they can lie about Pollard’s case and his motives. They can minimize the consequences of his treason and twist the arms of obedient politicians to support a traitor. Despite the fact that scores of high-ranking US intelligence and military officials have repeatedly attested to the damage inflicted by Pollard on the US, campaign finance hungry politicians recite the Zionist line that Pollard’s treason did not warrant a harsh sentence!
Beyond the immediate shame of a US president caving in to Israeli pressure with regard to this spy, there is the issue of the flagrant double standard:
Why do Israeli spies (or American Zionist traitors) evoke the unconditional support of the entire US Zionist apparatus? Why do thousands of rabbis, hundreds of movie executives and media moguls and scores of billionaires (talk about the 0.01%!) campaign on behalf of this arrogant, greedy thief? Why does Pollard merit a totally different standard of justice, in stark contrast to the vast majority of American minorities – who can rot in dungeons even when clearly innocent? Why does a self-described Israeli (who renounced his US citizenship in jail), who sold vital national secrets to fund a decadent life-style and for what he described as a ‘race imperative’ merit such favors while hundreds of thousands of poor US citizens are routinely denied leniency – let alone mercy? Clearly, the interests of Israel, a foreign regime, carry much greater weight within the US judicial system than millions of American minorities…
Cyber Crimes of Our Times: Billionaire Israeli Swindlers and the Chinese Military
For over three years, the Obama administration, the NSA and the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter have fed their media mouthpieces breathless denunciations against China for cyber-theft. Every week, there are lurid stories about the theft of confidential US industrial, military and political intelligence committed by the Chinese. The Obama regime has followed up his charges of ‘cybertheft” by threatening to confront China in the South China Sea, apply sanctions and raise the military ante in the Pacific against the world’s most dynamic economic superpower.
Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland (Nudelman-Kaplan) has claimed that Chinese cyber theft is a top national security threat requiring an immediate military-security response. US officials have provided no evidence that Chinese officials, at any level, are involved in espionage. Moreover, they have presented no proof that cyber theft is a policy of the Chinese government! There has been no evidence that these alleged thefts have damaged US companies or security interests. Nevertheless, US hostility toward China has been justified by unproven accusations and are used to increase the possibility of a major confrontation.
Contrasted with the ‘allegations’ against the Chinese, three ‘Israeli businessmen’ have been officially charged by US prosecutors with running a multi-billion dollar cyber-hacking scam within the US over the past five years. Dubbed the biggest financial hack in US history, the story hardly made headlines in the US media and was conveniently buried by subsequent ‘terror attacks’ in Europe.
The case is instructive. Three Israelis (one a US-Israeli dual citizen) hacked-attacked ten of the largest US financial institutions, including JP Morgan Chase and Fidelity Investments, as well as the Wall Street Journal … downloading protected information on over 100 million Americans – the biggest hack-attack in US history. Gery Shalon, Ziv Orenstein and Joshua Samuel Aaron employed hundreds of employees in Israel and elsewhere running a mega-cybercriminal enterprise.
According to the Financial Times (11/11/2015, p1), “the hacks took place from 2012 to mid-2015 and were aimed at aiding stock market manipulation that generated tens of millions of dollars.” In addition to selling ‘pumped-up’ stocks to millions of customers of the companies they had hacked, Shalom et al. launched cyber attacks to launder millions (more likely billions) for illegal drug and counterfeit software dealers, malicious malware distributors, illegal online casinos and an illegal ‘bitcoin exchange’ known as ‘Coin.mx.’ Someone within the financial security apparatus of the US government (white collar crime unit) must have tipped them off. They are safe in Israel; the Netanyahu regime has yet to act on a US extradition order, although they are reportedly under ‘house arrest’ in their villas.
In contrast to the on-going bellicose rhetoric, which Washington has directed against China’s alleged hackers, Washington has been ‘very reluctant’ to press the issue of extraditing the cyber-thieves with its ‘special partner’ in Tel Aviv.
Israeli super-hackers launched virulent attacks against major US financial institutions and American investors with apparent impunity, following the practice of Israeli info-tech operatives who have raided US military, technology and industrial sites for years.
While the US sends air squadrons and an armada of warships to Chinese waters over a few sand-bars, and brays about arresting Chinese researchers (who it later released with no charges) for alleged cyber-theft, it cannot persuade its ‘closest strategic ally’, Israel, to hand over a trio of formally charged swindlers. Instead, the US increased its annual $3 billion in military aid and provides an open market for Israeli ‘security’ products based on stolen US technology!
The reason for the differential response is not the nature of the ‘crimes’ – it is who commits the crimes! Israeli dominance of US politics via the unconditional support of its US Zionist power configuration ensures impunity for Israeli citizens, including the ability to delay or postpone the extradition of notorious multi-billion cyber thieves! Washington feels free to accuse China, without proof of official Chinese complicity, despite overwhelming evidence, while it cannot persuade its close ‘friend’ Israel to extradite criminals. Netanyahu, backed by his Israeli-Jewish public will decide if, when and where to extradite. When it comes to shielding Israeli or American-Israeli criminals from American justice, Israel treats its ally in Washington like an enemy.
Zionist political clout is evident in Washington’s judicial leniency toward other mega-swindlers with ties to Israel. Michael Milken contributed millions of (swindled) dollars to Israeli and US Zionist programs and won a ‘get out of jail’ card despite his conviction for major financial scams. He served 2 years out of a 10-year sentence and was granted a ‘humanitarian release’ because he was ‘dying’ of extensive terminal metastatic prostate cancer. So far, Michael’s quarter century of miraculous remission from ‘terminal metastatic prostate cancer’ constitutes a first in the annals of urologic cancer! He has gone on to re-constitute his fortune and prominence, while welfare mothers who took a few extra dollars rot in jail.
Ivan Boesky, another uber-Zionist and mega-donor to Israel was a swindler of gargantuan proportions. He raked in hundreds of millions a year. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to a mere 42 months in prison. He was out in less than 24 months, thanks to the support of ….
Marc Rich, a mega- billionaire rogue trader who broke US sanctions against trading with enemies, was also a self-described agent for the Israeli Mossad. Despite having been convicted in absentia in US courts for fraud, (he had skipped bail for Switzerland), President ‘Bill’ Clinton pardoned the ‘absentee felon’ in absentia– a historical first for a criminal who had never spent a day in jail. Mrs. Rich’s $100,000 donation to the Hilary Clinton New York senatorial campaign probably did little to influence the President’s sense of mercy…..
However, ‘Bernie’ Madoff, a $50 billion dollar swindler’ who gave huge amounts of illicit earnings to Zionist charities and projects in Israel was convicted and sentenced to over 100 years in prison. Unlike the above mentioned ‘untouchables’, Madoff will never breathe free again because he made the unforgivable mistake of mostly swindling other Jews, ardent Zionists and even ripping off a number of pro-Israel foundations. His differential treatment stems from his poor choice of victims rather than the crimes… Otherwise he might now be enjoying a comfortable villa in Israel rather than a cold cell in Pennsylvania.
Israeli capacity to manipulate and influence the American judicial process is based on 52 powerful front organizations – organized in the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations. This situation has made a mockery of the American court system and feeds the cynicism and bitterness of the average American. Zionist officials and allies occupy strategic position within the White House and judiciary.
Through their influence in the mass media, they converted a grotesque mercenary spy, like Jonathan Pollard, into an altruistic, Israeli-Jewish patriot, celebrated throughout Israel and within US Zionist circles. Veteran American intelligence and military officials who opposed his release have been painted with the broad brush of ‘anti-Semite’. The formidable Zionist power configuration, nurtured and financed by mega-swindlers, successfully secured his release. Zionist dominance essentially guarantees that the US will treat an indicted Israeli cyber-thief with extreme tact, supplicating the Israeli government for their extradition, while going ballistic over an alleged Chinese hacker.
Few progressive web sites or even the micro-Marxist journals confront these issues, more out of moral cowardice (self-censorship) than ignorance. Instead they bleat general clichés and ‘radical rhetoric’ about ‘US imperialism’ and the ‘rise of the right’ without identifying the precise social and political identity of the forces who move national policy. In a word, the Zionist Power Configuration gets more than a ‘free ride’. Across the political spectrum it continues to campaign on behalf of Israeli spies and Zionist financial swindlers. This corruption of the American judicial system and the betrayal of American trust have far-reaching consequences and undermine efforts to effectively address major national problems.