shure wrote:Why Top Secret America Misfires - A Conversation with Coleen Rowley
Date of conversation: March 20, 2011
A conversation with Coleen Rowley concerning "Why Top Secret America Misfires" - The Washington Post's indepth story on "Top Secret America" researched by Dana Priest & William M. Arkin - Intelligence Failures, - Media Failures - New York Times Bill Keller - Huffington Post Arianna Huffington - September 11, 2001 - The Lies that Led to the Iraq war - Valerie Plame, Plamegate, Joe Wilson YellowCake, Niger - Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg - Wikileaks - Bradley Manning - Bush laws - CIA, FBI, DIA, Rumsefeld, Cheney, Tenet, Rice, Mueller, Freeh, Perle, Powell, Condoleezza Rice - 9/11 Foreknowledge - Afghanistan - Libya - Middle East Protests - NSA Illegal Wiretapping on America - False Data - War on Terrorism - Out of Control Agencies - Defense Spending - Security - Freedom - Liberty - Corruption...
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http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn ... index.html
Sunday, Apr 10, 2011 09:11 ET
The Washington Post's dependence on the government it covers
By Glenn Greenwald
The Washington Post this morning published a lengthy article detailing the fortune -- and now the trouble -- generated for its parent company, The Washington Post Co., as a result of its acquisition of Kaplan Higher Ed. While The Post continues to lose money, Kaplan -- particularly its sprawling network of for-profit "universities" which the company began building in 2000 -- generates huge profits for the company, profits on which the Post Co. depends almost completely for its sustainability.
Indeed, the newspaper has become little more than a side vanity project for the Post Co. and the Graham family
which continues to dominate it; it is now, at its core, in the business of profiting off of lower-income students who pay for diplomas, often obtained via online classes. "The fate of The Post Co. has become inextricably linked with that of Kaplan, where revenue climbed to $2.9 billion in 2010, 61 percent of The Post Co.'s total," the article detailed; "the company is more dependent than ever on a single business,' [CEO Donald] Graham wrote in last year's annual report, adding that the newspaper had never accounted for as large a share of overall company revenue as Kaplan does today."
The article is largely devoted to recounting the corruption and abuses which pervade the for-profit education industry in general and Kaplan in particular (saddling poor people with debt in exchange for nothing of real value). But what I found most notable is how dependent is this industry -- including The Washington Post Co. -- on staying in the good graces of the Federal Government.
Because these schools target low-income students, the vast majority of their income is derived from federal loans. Because there have been so many deceptive practices and defaults, the Federal Government has become much more aggressive about regulating these schools and now play a vital role in determining which ones can thrive and which ones fail.
Put another way, the company that owns The Washington Post is almost entirely at the mercy of the Federal Government and the Obama administration -- the entities which its newspaper ostensibly checks and holds accountable. "By the end of 2010, more than 90 percent of revenue at Kaplan’s biggest division and nearly a third of The Post Co.’s revenue overall came from the U.S. government." The Post Co.'s reliance on the Federal Government extends beyond the source of its revenue; because the industry is so heavily regulated, any animosity from the Government could single-handedly doom the Post Co.'s business -- a reality of which they are well aware:The Post Co. realized there were risks attached to being dependent on federal dollars for revenue -- and that it could lose access to that money if it exceeded federal regulatory limits.
"It was understood that if you fell out of grace [with the Education Department], your business might go away," said Tom Might, who as chief executive of Cable One, a cable service provider that is owned by The Post Co., sat in at company-wide board meetings.
Beyond being reliant on federal money and not alienating federal regulators, the Post Co. desperately needs favorable treatment from members of Congress, and has been willing to use its newspaper to obtain it:Graham has taken part in a fierce lobbying campaign by the for-profit education industry. He has visited key members of Congress, written an op-ed article for the Wall Street Journal and hired for The Post Co. high-powered lobbying firms including Akin Gump and Elmendorf Ryan, at a cost of $810,000 in 2010. The Post has also published an editorial opposing the new federal rules, while disclosing the interests of its parent company.
The Post is hardly alone among major media outlets in being owned by an entity which relies on the Federal Government for its continued profitability. NBC News and MSNBC were long owned by GE, and now by Comcast, both of which desperately need good relations with government officials for their profits. The same is true of CBS (owned by Viacom), ABC (owned by Disney), and CNN (owned by TimeWarner). For each of these large corporations, alienating federal government officials is about the worst possible move it could make -- something of which all of its employees, including its media division employees, are well aware. But the Post Co.'s dependence is even more overwhelming than most.
How can a company which is almost wholly dependent upon staying in the good graces of the U.S. Government possibly be expected to serve as a journalistic "watchdog" over that same Government? The very idea is absurd. The whole point of the First Amendment's free press guarantee is that adversarial journalism is possible only if journalists are independent of political power. Yet the U.S. now has exactly the opposite dynamic: most major media outlets are owned by corporations that are anything but independent of government: they are quite dependent upon political officials for their profit in countless ways. We have anything but an independent press, which is another way of saying we have anything but a free press.
If you tell journalists that they are restrained in adversarial reporting by such motivations, they will vehemently deny it and perhaps even believe their denials. Media self-censorship is rarely overt; these journalists thus do not typically receive memos instructing them to lavish political officials with favorable treatment and avoid alienating them (though sometimes that's exactly how they receive those dictates). But that's because such instructions are unnecessary. Any employees who thrive in large corporations do so by learning what's in their employer's interests and acting dutifully to promote those interests. No corporate employee can remain for long if their actions subvert their employer's core interests.
So inextricably linked are these media corporations and government officials that it's a cultural merger; the prevailing corporate ethos is that it is far better to be viewed favorably by those with political power than unfavorably. Why would any employee of these corporations -- including their journalists, editors, and producers -- possibly want to do something (such as alienating political officials) that is so plainly at odds with the financial needs of their corporate employers?
There are many well-documented reasons why the American media is so deferential to political power. Currying favor with political officials is how they secure scoops, leaks and access. Because media stars are now as wealthy and celebrated as the politically powerful whom they cover, they identify on socioeconomic and cultural grounds with these political officials; media stars are far more integrated into the halls of political power than they are outside of them. Whereas independent journalists are constitutionally inclined to scorn the powerful, employees of large corporations -- by their nature -- tend to be people who are revere institutional authority and are talented at flattering and accommodating those in power. And, as Jack Goldsmith recently argued, many establishment journalists are driven by what he bizarrely celebrated as "patriotism," by which he means fealty to American political officials and their actions.
But one crucial factor driving this decisively non-adversarial journalistic posture is that the large corporations which own these media outlets need desperately to maintain good relations with the political class. How could you possibly be a journalist at The Washington Post -- knowing that for your corporate employer "if you fell out of grace [with the Education Department], your business might go away" and that your boss is spending huge amounts of his time and money currying favor with federal officials -- and not have it affect what you write? I don't doubt that there are isolated reporters and editors who bracket out such considerations, but on the whole, the wholesale dependence of these companies on the Federal Government goes a long way toward explaining why the nation's major media outlets are so eager to please -- rather than check and expose -- those who wield the greatest political power.
More: Glenn Greenwald
elpuma wrote:The "Deep State" behind U.S. democracy
In his book The Road to 9/11, now available in French, Professor Peter Dale Scott traces back the history of the "Deep State" in the United States, that is to say the secret structure that steers defense and foreign policy behind the facade of democracy. His analysis lifts the veil on the group that organised the September 11 attacks and which finances itself through international trafficking networks. Regarded as a reference book, The Road to 9/11 already features as recommended reading at military-diplomatic academies.
VoltaireNet: Professor Scott, as your work is not as widely known as it ought to be in French-speaking countries, could you please start by defining what “Deep politics” is, and explain the distinction between what you call the “Deep state” and the “Public state”?
Peter Dale Scott: The term “Deep state” comes from Turkey. They invented it after the wreck of a speeding Mercedes in 1996 in which the passengers were a Member of Parliament, a beauty queen, a local senior police captain, and an important drug trafficker in Turkey who was also the head of a criminal paramilitary organization – the Grey Wolves – that went around killing people. And it became very obvious in Turkey that there were a covert relationship between the police who officially were looking for this man – even though a policeman was there with him in the car – and these people who committed crimes on behalf of the state. The state that you commit crimes for is not a state that can show its hand to the people, it’s a hidden state, a covert structure. In Turkey, they called it the Deep state,  and I had been talking about deep politics for a long time so I used the term in The Road to 9/11. This is why I have defined deep politics as all those political practices and arrangements, deliberate or not, which are usually repressed rather than acknowledged. So the term “Deep state” – coming from Turkey – is not mine.
It refers to a parallel secret government, organized by the intelligence and security apparatus, financed by drugs, and engaging in illicit violence, to protect the status and interests of the military against threats from intellectuals, religious groups, and occasionally the constitutional government. In this book, I adapt the term somewhat to refer to the wider interface in America between the public, the constitutionally established state, and the deep forces behind it of wealth, power, and violence outside the government. You might call it the back door of the Public state, giving access to dark forces outside the law. The analogy with Turkey is not perfect, because what we see today in America is less a parallel structure than a wide zone or milieu of interaction between the public state and unseen dark forces, as I expound in my latest book The American War Machine. But this interaction is significant, and we need a name, such as Deep state, to describe it.
VoltaireNet: Your critically acclaimed book, The Road to 9/11, was published in 2007 under the Bush regime in the United States. In November 2010, you have published your latest body of work, The American War Machine, two years after Obama’s electoral victory; in your opinion, did the influence of the Deep state decrease in favor of the Public state after Mr. Obama’s election, or did it stay the same or even increase?
Peter Dale Scott: After almost two years of the Obama presidency, I have to conclude, regretfully, that the influence of the deep state, or more accurately what in my new book I call the American war machine, has continued to increase, just as it has under every US president since Kennedy. A key sign is the extent to which Obama, despite his campaign rhetoric, has continued to expand the scope of secrecy in US government, and especially to punish whistle-blowers: his campaign against Wikileaks and Julian Assange, who has not been charged yet with any crime, is without precedent in US history. I suspect that Washington’s fear of publicity is related to its awareness that US war policies are increasingly at odds with reality. In Afghanistan Obama appears to have capitulated to the efforts of General Petraeus and other generals to ensure that US troops do not begin to withdraw from combat in 2011, as originally foreseen when in 2009 Obama authorized a troop increase. Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, reports that during that protracted administration debate over whether to escalate in Afghanistan, CIA Director Leon Panetta advised Obama that “no Democratic president can go against military advice… So just do it. Do what they say.” Obama recently told US troops in Afghanistan that “you’re achieving your objectives, you will succeed in your mission.” This echo of earlier, fatuously optimistic statements from Petraeus explains why there were no realistic appraisal of the war’s progress inside the White House in December 2010, as was originally mandated.
Like Johnson before him, the president is now trapped in a quagmire war he dare not lose, and which threatens to spread to both Pakistan and Yemen, if not further. I suspect that the deep forces dominating both political parties are now so powerful, so affluent, and above all so invested in the profits from war-making, that a president is farther than ever from challenging this power – even as it becomes more and more clear that America’s era of world dominance, like Britain’s before it, is drawing to a close.
In addition Obama, without debate or review, has extended the domestic state of emergency proclaimed after 9/11, with its drastic limitations of civil rights (see below). In September 2010 the FBI raided the homes or offices of nonviolent human rights workers in Minneapolis and Chicago, citing a recent Supreme Court ruling that nonviolent first amendment speech and advocacy was a crime if "coordinated with" or "under the direction of" a foreign group designated as "terrorist." It is worth noting that, in nine years, Congress has not once met to discuss the State of Emergency declared by George W. Bush in response to 9/11, a State of Emergency that remains in effect today. Former Congressman Dan Hamburg and I appealed publicly in 2009, both to President Obama to terminate the emergency, and to Congress to hold the hearings required of them by statute. But Obama, without discussion, extended the 9/11 Emergency again on September 2009, and again a year later. Meanwhile Congress has continued to ignore its statutory obligations.
One Congressman explained to a constituent that the provisions of the National Emergencies Act have now been rendered inoperative by COG ("Continuity of Government"), a secret program to deal with running the state in the event of national emergency. The COG program was partially implemented on 9/11 by Dick Cheney, one of its main designers on a committee operating outside regular government since 1981. (See below for more details about COG). If it’s true that the National Emergencies Act have been rendered inoperative by COG, this would indicate that the constitutional system of checks and balances no longer applies, and also that secret decrees now override public legislation.
VoltaireNet: In this context, why doesn’t the U.S. Congress fulfill its legal obligations in overseeing the limitation of the secret powers of the Deep state – a limitation implemented after the Watergate scandal? What were the consequences of Nixon’s impeachment and the subsequent strengthening of Congress oversight on the secret operations of the United States intelligence agencies?
Peter Dale Scott: Nixon’s Vietnam strategy consisted of attempting to gain the other hand by making strategic deals with both the Soviet Union and China. This produced violent opposition from both hawks and doves in a deeply divided nation; and I believe that hawks from both the CIA and Pentagon were part of the engineered Watergate crisis that led to his resignation. In the aftermath, doves in the 1974 “McGovernite Congress” achieved a number of reforms in the name of more public politics, abolishing a state of emergency that had survived since the Korean War, and establishing Congressional and legal restraints on the CIA and other aspects of secret government. These reforms in turn immediately produced a concerted mobilization to overturn them, and restore the status quo ante. Underlying this political debate was a disagreement in the nation’s leadership between so-called “traders” and “Prussians,” as to whether America, in the wake of the Vietnam fiasco, should strive to return to its former role as a preeminent trading nation, or whether it should respond to the Vietnam defeat by a further buildup of its armed forces.
This struggle was simultaneously a struggle between moderates and militarists for control of the Republican Party. This culminated in the demise of Nixon and the gradual redirection of United States foreign policy in the Ford presidency from peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union towards plans for the weakening and destruction under Ronald Reagan of what Reagan called “the evil empire.” Thus in October 1975, the highly probable involvement of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in the palace revolution known by historians as “The Halloween Massacre” meant the defeat of Nelson Rockefeller’s moderate Republicanism, and its gradual replacement by the hard-edged anti-communism of Ronald Reagan. Essentially, it meant the reorganization of Ford’s team toward the demise of détente, along with America’s huge defense budgets in the 1980’s and again today.
Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, then heading the White House staff of President Gerald Ford and controlling the Department of Defense, played a key part in securing the ultimate triumph of the Prussians, by demoting Henry Kissinger and appointing George H.W. Bush as head of the CIA, where he arranged for a new, more alarmist estimate of the Soviet threat (which explains the correlated skyrocketing of defense budgets, and the demise of détente). Since then, we have observed an increasing influence of what Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex (in his farewell address of January 17th, 1961) on the United States’ political economy.
Today we have a new extended state of emergency, and Congressional oversight has become almost defunct. For example, legally mandated congressional oversight of the CIA’s covert operations has been successfully evaded by the creation in 1981 of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pentagon, which simply incorporates CIA personnel into its operations. JSOC, now known as the Special Operations Command, has become the locus of covert Pentagon operations, of the sort conducted under General Stanley McChrystal, before he was appointed the US commander in Afghanistan.
VoltaireNet: In the last question, you briefly invoked the important role played by Georges Bush Sr. in the demise of détente – a détente promoted by Henry Kissinger. Mr. Bush was the CIA head for a brief period though. Did the replacement of George H.W. Bush by the more moderate Admiral Stansfield Turner at the CIA increase the control of the secret operations led by different elements of the American Deep state?
Peter Dale Scott: No, it did not. It has been the contrary, because some of the key men who were squeezed out after Turner’s appointment found themselves a new home working for the so-called Safari Club, an off-the-books secret organization uniting the intelligence chiefs of several countries – including France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran – to supplement CIA actions with other anti-communist operations in Africa and the Third World over which the US Congress had no control. Then in 1978, Zbigniew Brzezinski – who was not part of the Safari Club – engineered an end run around Turner by organizing a special unit in the White House under Robert Gates, the current Secretary of Defense who was a junior CIA operative at the time. Under Brzezinski’s guidance, CIA officers contrived with the Iranian agency SAVAK to send Islamist agents to Afghanistan, destabilizing the country in a way which led to the 1980 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.
The succeeding decade of covert CIA involvement in Afghanistan was crucial in converting that country into a centre for poppy culture, heroin trafficking, and jihadist Islamism. About the narcotics, there are some very good books about the CIA written a few years ago – one by Tim Weiner and one by John Prados. But because they talked to some CIA officers who showed them only a few recently declassified CIA documents – particularly Weiner – they don’t talk about the drugs. The narcotic connection is so deep its not mentioned in released CIA documents. But the collaboration of the CIA under William Casey with the drug-dealing Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) fostered the creation of a huge Afghan narco-economy, whose destabilizing consequences help explain why NATO soldiers, Afghans and Pakistanis are dying there today.
The BCCI was a huge global drug-laundering bank. It was corrupting – with its budgets, with its resources – leading politicians, presidents, prime ministers all over the world. And some of that money – it’s not much talked about, but it is true – was reaching politicians in the United States – politicians of both parties, which is one of the main reasons why we didn’t get a congressional investigation of BCCI. There was actually a Senate report that came out, under the names of one Republican, Hank Brown, and one Democrat, John Kerry. And Brown congratulated Kerry on having the courage to write that report when so many people in his party were affected by the BCCI. The latter was a big factor in creating the connexions with people like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who was probably the leading heroin trafficker in the world during the 1980’s. He also became the leading recipient of CIA largesses supplemented by an equal amount of Saudi Arabian money. There’s something terribly wrong in a situation like this!
VoltaireNet: At the outcome of the presidential campaign of 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected in part on his pleas for a decrease in military spending and expanding détente with the Soviet Union. This did not happen in the four years of his presidency. Could you explain to us why? Did Zbigniew Brzezinski – whom you mentioned in the previous question – play any role in this then-unexpected hawkish foreign policy?
Peter Dale Scott: The media presented Carter as a populist candidate, a peanut farmer from the South. But the deep reality was that Carter had been prepared for the presidency by Wall Street, and particularly by the Trilateral Commission that was funded by David Rockefeller, and directed by Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski, a passionately anti-Soviet Pole, then became Carter’s national security adviser; and from the outset overruled Secretary of State Cyrus Vance repeatedly in pursuit of a more vigorous anti-Soviet foreign policy. In this Brzezinski went against the stated goals of the Trilateral Commission, of which President Carter had been a member. The underlying idea of the Trilateral Commission was a rather attractive picture of a multipolar world in which America would mediate between the Second World, which was the Soviet block, and the Third World, which was what we used to call in those days the underdeveloped or lesser developed countries… By the way I hate that term, because I lived in Thailand: in some ways they are very much more developed than we are!
When he was elected, Carter nominated a genuine trilateralist, Cyrus Vance, the Secretary of State, and he had as his National security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was determined to use the Deep state to inflict as much damage on the Soviet Union as he could. A lot of things which are thought of as the successes of the Reagan regime clearly had their origins under Brzezinski. And it was a total repudiation of what trilateralism stood for. Carter – the poor man – was elected promising cuts in the defence budget, and before he had left, he had committed the Defense Department to huge increases which we associate with the Reagan administration but were initiated before.
As a consequence, under the surface a massive campaign for increased defense spending, mobilized by wealthy military industrialists through the Committee on the Present Danger, brought public opinion to reinforce Brzezinski’s push for a more militant U.S. presence and policy, particularly in the Indian Ocean.
VoltaireNet: After being a very influential man under President Gerald Ford, Dick Cheney – allied with his mentor Donald Rumsfeld and Vice-president George Bush senior – has been since the onset of the Reagan presidency one of the key men in the development of the ultra-secret so-called “Continuity of Government” (COG) program. Could you explain to us what that program is? Has it ever been implemented, even partially?
Peter Dale Scott: From the beginning of the Reagan presidency in 1981, arrangements were made for a secret group outside government to work on so-called “Continuity of Government” or COG plans for running the state in the event of national emergency. Initially this was an extension of existing plans for a response to a nuclear attack which would decapitate the United States’ leadership, but before Reagan retired the terms were modified by his Executive Order 12686 of 1988 to cover any emergency.
The COG is another thing which we associate with Reagan but actually began under Carter, although Carter may have never been aware of it. The latter did create FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has always been charged with being the infrastructure for this COG planning. What is kind of shocking is that the COG plans were extreme plans, but that Congress didn’t know about them in the 1980’s. Only a small group of people – including Oliver North, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld – were secretly assigned to work on them by a 1981 top secret executive order from Reagan. The COG issue was first publicly brought up in 1987 during the Iran-Contra hearings, when congressman Jack Brooks asked Oliver North: “Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?” Congressman Brooks further added: “I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency that would suspend the American constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was an area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.” Senator Inouye, the Chairman of this congressional commission, answered: “May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I’m certain arrangements can be made for an executive session” What Congressman Brooks was asking about was “continuity of government” (COG), and those arrangements for an executive session were never made.
Cheney and Rumsfeld – two key figure of the COG program – continued to participate in these very expensive plans and exercises for the next two decades, even though by the late 1990’s both men were corporate executives with no official government connection whatsoever. Reportedly the new target replacing the Soviet threat was terrorism, but some journalists have claimed that from the early 1980’s on there were major plans to deal with the kind of anti-war protests which (in the mind of Oliver North and those like him) had been responsible for the American defeat in Vietnam.
It is not disputed that on 9/11 COG plans were implemented, along with an officially proclaimed state of emergency that is still in effect after nine years, ignoring a post-Watergate law calling for either approval or termination of an emergency by Congress. The COG plans are a closely kept secret, but there were reports in the 1980’s that these involved warrantless surveillance and detention, and a permanent militarization of government. To some extent these changes have clearly been put in place since 9/11.
There is no way to determine how many of the constitutional changes since 9/11 can be traced to COG planning. However we do know that new COG planning measures were still being introduced in 2007, when President Bush issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51/HSPD-20). This Directive set out what FEMA later called “a new vision to ensure the continuity of our Government,” and was followed in August by a new National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan. NSPD-51 also nullified PDD 67, Richard Clarke’s COG directive of a decade earlier; and it referred to new “classified Continuity Annexes” which shall “be protected from unauthorized disclosure.”
Under pressure from his 911Truth constituents, Congressman Peter DeFazio of the Homeland Security Committee twice requested to see these Annexes. His request was denied. DeFazio then requested a second time, in a letter signed by the Chair of his committee. The request was denied one more time. Again, as I said in the second question, this would indicate that the constitutional system of checks and balances no longer applies, and also that secret decrees now override public legislation.
VoltaireNet: In The Road to 9/11 as well as in The American War Machine you assert in a very well-documented fashion that the 9/11 Commission - whose members were nominated by and worked directly under the control of President George W. Bush – covered up what happened on that fateful day, especially when it comes to Cheney’s actions on that particular morning. Could you say more about this?
Peter Dale Scott: Bush initially resisted any review of 9/11, until Congress imposed a 9/11 Commission in response to an effective political campaign by the victims’ families. (Editor’s note: See documentary 9/11 Press for Truth Kean & Hamilton, the two chairmen of the Commission promised publicly to be guided by the families’ unanswered questions, such as who the alleged hijackers were and how three buildings in the World Trade Center collapsed, one of them without being hit by a plane. These and other questions were in the end not addressed at all. Meanwhile the Commission received a great deal of conflicting testimony and repeatedly revised accounts.
Under the close supervision of Commission director, Philip Zelikow, a man with a government security background, the The 9/11 Commission Report ignored some conflicts altogether and reconciled others in a way many critics have challenged. The Report attributed the lack of response that day to a systemic chaos and breakdown, ignoring Cheney’s own statements elsewhere that he played a dominant role that day, and ignoring also important conflicts in and authoritative challenges to his own testimony.
One topic the Commission and Report explicitly did not investigate was the implementation of COG plans on 9/11 (p.555, note 9). Nor did they say anything about Cheney’s terrorism task force of May 2001, which has been cited as a source for a June 1st 2001 JCS order, modifying the conditions for the military interception of hijacked planes. To arrive at their reduced account of Cheney’s responsibility on that day, the Commission also flagrantly overlooked eyewitness accounts at odds with their chronology, notably by Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.
VoltaireNet: One of the most fascinating aspects of The Road to 9/11 – and there are many – analyzes the geo-strategic decisions set up by the Deep state within the U.S. since the Carter presidency, in Central Asia as well as in the Middle East in relations to the oil/gas/drugs/military and weapons industries. In your latest book, The American War Machine, you analyze the roots of this oil/gas/drugs shadowy pattern, tracing them even before the creation of the CIA – which is a very interesting view. Given that the “War on Terror” is still going on, (albeit under new names such as pacification, democratization, etc.) and that it is currently spreading in over 60 countries across the globe (mainly through secret operations), what are the real goals – as well as the origins – of this war?
Peter Dale Scott: At the outset of the “War on Terror”, it was very clear that strategic advisers to both parties, as well as in think-tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations, were concerned about the U.S. need to preserve its historic dominance over the global petroleum markets. They produced documents pushing for increased U.S. military strength in the Persian Gulf region, and for military plans to deal with Saddam Hussein in particular. Now the "War on Terror" has continued to expand, as we are told that Salafi militants have predictably moved to new areas, notably Yemen and Somalia, to plan their retaliations. So the “War on Terror” has become a test of the current U.S. global strategic posture calling for “Full-spectrum dominance” as defined in the Pentagon’s Joint Vision 2020: “The ability of U.S. forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations.”
Driving all of these escalations since World War Two has been a defense lobby funded originally by the military-industrial complex, and now also by a half dozen right-wing foundations with unlimited funds. Over time the personnel have migrated from one group to the next – the American Security Council, the Committee on the Present Danger, the Project for the new American Century, and now the Center for Security Policy (CSP).  But the goals have expanded over the years, from maximizing the American military presence to also shrinking individual liberties, to forestall the resurgence of any future U.S. antiwar movement. (I discuss the growth of this defense faction in my most recent book, The American War Machine)
Increasingly this agenda smacks of McCarthyism if not fascism. A number of groups are feeding an anti-Muslim hysteria reminiscent of the anti-communist hysteria in the 1950s, and calling for an apparently endless war against Islam. For example the CSP recently published a document, Shariah, The Threat to America,  proclaiming sharia to be “the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time,” with dire warnings of “stealth jihad” and “demographic jihad.”
VoltaireNet: This “War on Terror” – whose real goals are far from being openly admitted by NATO member-state governments – was initiated in Afghanistan in late 2001. There, some powerful local warlords formerly allied with the United States during the USSR-led war in Afghanistan in the 1980’s are currently appearing as major players in the “AfPak” war zone. Let’s focus on the example of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; public opinion in the countries which are part of NATO does not seem to be remotely aware of who he is. Could you remind us of who Mr. Hekmatyar is? Can you tell us to what extent he symbolizes the danger generated by U.S. foreign policies which – due to a lack of congressional oversight and public scrutiny – led to a major increase in the global drug trade (in this particular case, heroin)?
Peter Dale Scott: With few assets of its own in Afghanistan, the U.S. decided to conduct its anti-Soviet Operation Cyclone there through the resources of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In turn Pakistan, fearful of authentic Afghan nationalists’ claims on its own border territories, directed the bulk of the U.S. and Saudi assistance to two extremists with little power base inside Afghanistan – Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar, a Ghilzai Pashtun from the non-Pashtun north, was first trained in violent resistance under Pakistani guidance; and is said to have been the only Afghan leader who explicitly recognized the Durand Line defining the Afghan-Pakistan border. Both Sayyaf and Hekmatyar compensated for their lack of indigenous support by cultivating and exporting opiates in the 1980s, again with ISI support. For the same reason both men worked with the foreign mujahideen – the antecedents of what is now called Al Qaeda – who flocked to Afghanistan in this period; and Hekmatyar in particular is said to have developed a close relationship with Osama bin Laden. This influx of Wahhabi and Deobandi fundamentalists weakened Afghanistan’s traditional Sufi-dominated version of Islam.
In the course of the anti-Soviet campaign Hekmatyar’s forces murdered supporters of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the chief threat to Hekmatyar’s ISI-backed plans to dominate post-Soviet Afghanistan. After the Soviet withdrawal the CIA (against State Department advice) also used Hekmatyar as an instrument to block a government of national reconciliation, leading to a civil war in the 1990s which killed thousands of people. Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Hekmatyar has led his own faction fighting for U.S. withdrawal; but allegedly he is more open than the Taliban to joining a Karzai-led coalition government. Senior defense officials in Washington, such as Michael Vickers, still refer to Operation Cyclone as the “most successful covert action” in CIA history. It seems not to concern them that the CIA’s program helped generate and unleash Al Qaeda – the new post-Soviet rationale for defense budgets – and Afghanistan’s current role as the world’s major source for heroin and hashish.
VoltaireNet: In conclusion, given the disastrous financial, economic, political, social crisis and even the moral situation in the United States as in many parts of the world, are you still confident in the future? Do you see some encouraging signs towards a greater influence of what you call in your book the “Prevailable will of the people” in the political decision-making process - a process which is more oligarchic than ever?
Peter Dale Scott: It is said that we should view every crisis as an opportunity. Certainly America’s crisis, which is also the world’s, ought to be the occasion for far-reaching reforms of the market capitalist processes that have created such huge gaps between the very rich and the very poor. Unfortunately these processes have also made traditional politics and modes of mobilization even more ineffective than they were before.
I argue in The Road to 9/11 that major social change is possible when oppression leads to the formation of a united public opinion – or what I called a prevailable will of the people – to oppose it. I pointed to examples such as the civil rights movement in the American south, or the Polish movement Solidarity. Technological developments such as the Internet have made it easier than before for people to unite, both nationally and internationally. But technology has also refined instruments of top-down surveillance and repression, making successful activist mobilization more difficult than before. So the future is very uncertain; one can say only that the present global system is more unstable than it has been, and that some kind of showdown is likely to change it.
I do believe however that this is a very exciting time in which to live. Young people should continue as they have been to join the movements for social change, and to create new venues for global exchange. And above all, there is no excuse for despair.
VoltaireNet: Thank you very much, Professor Scott, for these enlightening answers. We rejoice over the release of the first translation in French of The Road to 9/11, one of your most important works, and we congratulate you for its appraisal by a French retired high-ranking general. We wish your critically-acclaimed latest effort, The American War Machine, the attention and respect it deserves from the general public.
Born in Montreal in 1929, Peter Dale Scott is a former diplomat, a poet and a writer. He is also Professor emeritus of English literature at the University of California, Berkely. Known for his anti-war stance and his criticism of U.S. foreign policy dating back to the Vietnam War, Peter Dale Scott is an author and political analyst hailed by critics and acknowledged by his peers, including Daniel Ellsberg known as the "man who toppled Nixon".
hanshan wrote:JackRiddler wrote:What is the shape of Top Secret America? Who are its authorities and policy-makers? How much is it "under control"? How many independent players are involved? Where do the private and parapolitical and cross-institutional networks and formal and private fusion points fit in? How can we really find out its form empirically, beyond relying on its statements and whatever it is willing to release via FOIA (or whatever gets leaked)? Are there ways to cast a light and see its shadow? Is there a driver or drivers? Etc.
MinM wrote:There are several threads that relate to this PDS interview...
http://www.rigorousintuition.ca/board2/ ... 33&t=26119
http://www.rigorousintuition.ca/board2/ ... =8&t=22237
http://www.rigorousintuition.ca/board2/ ... =8&t=25157
http://www.rigorousintuition.ca/board2/ ... 82#p355182
MinM wrote:DCI #12 | Admiral Stansfield Turner
http://www.rigorousintuition.ca/board2/ ... 33&t=26119
rigorousintuition.ca :: View topic - Obama's Trilateral Connection
rigorousintuition.ca :: View topic - Burn After Readingwordspeak2 wrote:Yeah, didn't Turner pirge the Agency of its most corrupt elements post-Church Committee? (only to have them restored under Reagan//Bush?)JackRiddler wrote:Indeed, Stansfield Turner fired a reported 800 employees of the CIA's covert action ("Operations") division, in October 1977.
If I may...JackRiddler wrote:.
In fact, Turner's move was probably the decisive step in the consolidation and subsequent dominance of what Trento calls "the Rogue CIA" and what I sometimes refer to as "the Bush mob," also the Enterprise model (privatized CIA) or extended Iran/Contra brotherhood.
Those 800 were fired, but they were not exposed. In an atmosphere of reaction and resentment with regard to the recent cultural rebellions and exposures of CIA crime, and with the late 1970s alliance of neoliberal ideologists and the cultural right wing ramping up to take open power in the imminent "Reagan Revolution," firing the men who were presumably responsible for a long series of assassinations, massacres and coups like "the Bay of Pigs thing," Chile in 1973 and the six-nation Condor atrocity initiative just prior to Carter's election amounted to an invitation and challenge to them, to collectively enter the private sector and reorganize to seize power. As their figurehead they chose Bush, who had just acted as their champion while in office at Langley, and with the October Surprise operation they stormed back into Washington as the hidden rider on the Reagan horse. (Reagan was shot six weeks after his inauguration.)
This was a metastasis of the long-running trend at CIA, which always prided itself on keeping its work hidden and deniable thanks to proprietaries and false-front corporations and contractors for dirty work, and where the operators had always rewarded themselves with side business. Now, however, the bulk of the former covert operations wing had been thrown straight into a new center in the private sector, operating with the same cover as before, understanding themselves as the permanent secret government and with their people or friends in the key positions in official government, but without need to report to the government at all; and with sufficient anger and feelings of betrayal to justify anything they chose to do. (Watch out, America haters and crypto-commies and hippie feminist druggie academics and Soviet-loving liberal reformers, it's payback time!)
The Iran-Contra revelations of the "Enterprise" exposed a small portion of the resulting new culture and metastasized structure of covert power. I believe a mere list of these 800 would turn up a lot of familiar names and tell us much about the history of the last three decades, and no doubt blaze trails to Afghanistan, 9/11 and Iraq. Of course, there's no need to overdo it as something completely new, and of course most of the systemic realities and pressures of capitalist development and of a state in perpetual low-intensity crisis would have been similar without Turner's move, which only catalyzed the particular mob who took over the upper-middle levels of a cryptocracy. This was the same generation that was forged in "the Bay of Pigs thing," but now in the post-Sixties, post-Nixon, post-Carter reaction, a time of consolidation and triumphalism...
Democratic Underground - DCI Stansfield Turner was unable to guarantee Agency compliance w/HSCA - Democratic Underground
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/world ... nted=print
Article archived here with link to original and copyright attribution, for strictly non-commercial purpose of advancing discussion, education and debate.
May 14, 2011
Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder
By MARK MAZZETTI and EMILY B. HAGER
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.
The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.
Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.
The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest in their crowded labor camps or were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.
The U.A.E.’s rulers, viewing their own military as inadequate, also hope that the troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran, the country’s biggest foe, the former employees said. The training camp, located on a sprawling Emirati base called Zayed Military City, is hidden behind concrete walls laced with barbed wire. Photographs show rows of identical yellow temporary buildings, used for barracks and mess halls, and a motor pool, which houses Humvees and fuel trucks. The Colombians, along with South African and other foreign troops, are trained by retired American soldiers and veterans of the German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, according to the former employees and American officials.
In outsourcing critical parts of their defense to mercenaries — the soldiers of choice for medieval kings, Italian Renaissance dukes and African dictators — the Emiratis have begun a new era in the boom in wartime contracting that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And by relying on a force largely created by Americans, they have introduced a volatile element in an already combustible region where the United States is widely viewed with suspicion.
The United Arab Emirates — an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state — are closely allied with the United States, and American officials indicated that the battalion program had some support in Washington.
“The gulf countries, and the U.A.E. in particular, don’t have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help,” said one Obama administration official who knew of the operation. “They might want to show that they are not to be messed with.”
Still, it is not clear whether the project has the United States’ official blessing.
Legal experts and government officials said some of those involved with the battalion might be breaking federal laws that prohibit American citizens from training foreign troops if they did not secure a license from the State Department.
Mark C. Toner, a spokesman for the department, would not confirm whether Mr. Prince’s company had obtained such a license, but he said the department was investigating to see if the training effort was in violation of American laws. Mr. Toner pointed out that Blackwater (which renamed itself Xe Services ) paid $42 million in fines last year for training foreign troops in Jordan and other countries over the years.
The U.A.E.’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, declined to comment for this article. A spokesman for Mr. Prince also did not comment.
For Mr. Prince, the foreign battalion is a bold attempt at reinvention. He is hoping to build an empire in the desert, far from the trial lawyers, Congressional investigators and Justice Department officials he is convinced worked in league to portray Blackwater as reckless.
He sold the company last year, but in April, a federal appeals court reopened the case against four Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
To help fulfill his ambitions, Mr. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, obtained another multimillion-dollar contract to protect a string of planned nuclear power plants and to provide cybersecurity.
He hopes to earn billions more, the former employees said, by assembling additional battalions of Latin American troops for the Emiratis and opening a giant complex where his company can train troops for other governments.
Knowing that his ventures are magnets for controversy, Mr. Prince has masked his involvement with the mercenary battalion. His name is not included on contracts and most other corporate documents, and company insiders have at times tried to hide his identity by referring to him by the code name “Kingfish.” But three former employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements, and two people involved in security contracting described Mr. Prince’s central role.
The former employees said that in recruiting the Colombians and others from halfway around the world, Mr. Prince’s subordinates were following his strict rule: hire no Muslims.
Muslim soldiers, Mr. Prince warned, could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims.
A Lucrative Deal
Last spring, as waiters in the lobby of the Park Arjaan by Rotana Hotel passed by carrying cups of Turkish coffee, a small team of Blackwater and American military veterans huddled over plans for the foreign battalion. Armed with a black suitcase stuffed with several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of dirhams, the local currency, they began paying the first bills.
The company, often called R2, was licensed last March with 51 percent local ownership, a typical arrangement in the Emirates. It received about $21 million in start-up capital from the U.A.E., the former employees said.
Mr. Prince made the deal with Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates. The two men had known each other for several years, and it was the prince’s idea to build a foreign commando force for his country.
Savvy and pro-Western, the prince was educated at the Sandhurst military academy in Britain and formed close ties with American military officials. He is also one of the region’s staunchest hawks on Iran and is skeptical that his giant neighbor across the Strait of Hormuz will give up its nuclear program.
“He sees the logic of war dominating the region, and this thinking explains his near-obsessive efforts to build up his armed forces,” said a November 2009 cable from the American Embassy in Abu Dhabi that was obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
For Mr. Prince, a 41-year-old former member of the Navy Seals, the battalion was an opportunity to turn vision into reality. At Blackwater, which had collected billions of dollars in security contracts from the United States government, he had hoped to build an army for hire that could be deployed to crisis zones in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He even had proposed that the Central Intelligence Agency use his company for special operations missions around the globe, but to no avail. In Abu Dhabi, which he praised in an Emirati newspaper interview last year for its “pro-business” climate, he got another chance.
Mr. Prince’s exploits, both real and rumored, are the subject of fevered discussions in the private security world. He has worked with the Emirati government on various ventures in the past year, including an operation using South African mercenaries to train Somalis to fight pirates. There was talk, too, that he was hatching a scheme last year to cap the Icelandic volcano then spewing ash across Northern Europe.
The team in the hotel lobby was led by Ricky Chambers, known as C. T., a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who had worked for Mr. Prince for years; most recently, he had run a program training Afghan troops for a Blackwater subsidiary called Paravant.
He was among the half-dozen or so Americans who would serve as top managers of the project, receiving nearly $300,000 in annual compensation. Mr. Chambers and Mr. Prince soon began quietly luring American contractors from Afghanistan, Iraq and other danger spots with pay packages that topped out at more than $200,000 a year, according to a budget document. Many of those who signed on as trainers — which eventually included more than 40 veteran American, European and South African commandos — did not know of Mr. Prince’s involvement, the former employees said.
Mr. Chambers did not respond to requests for comment.
He and Mr. Prince also began looking for soldiers. They lined up Thor Global Enterprises, a company on the Caribbean island of Tortola specializing in “placing foreign servicemen in private security positions overseas,” according to a contract signed last May. The recruits would be paid about $150 a day.
Within months, large tracts of desert were bulldozed and barracks constructed. The Emirates were to provide weapons and equipment for the mercenary force, supplying everything from M-16 rifles to mortars, Leatherman knives to Land Rovers. They agreed to buy parachutes, motorcycles, rucksacks — and 24,000 pairs of socks.
To keep a low profile, Mr. Prince rarely visited the camp or a cluster of luxury villas near the Abu Dhabi airport, where R2 executives and Emirati military officers fine-tune the training schedules and arrange weapons deliveries for the battalion, former employees said. He would show up, they said, in an office suite at the DAS Tower — a skyscraper just steps from Abu Dhabi’s Corniche beach, where sunbathers lounge as cigarette boats and water scooters whiz by. Staff members there manage a number of companies that the former employees say are carrying out secret work for the Emirati government.
Emirati law prohibits disclosure of incorporation records for businesses,
which typically list company officers, but it does require them to post company names on offices and storefronts. Over the past year, the sign outside the suite has changed at least twice — it now says Assurance Management Consulting.
While the documents — including contracts, budget sheets and blueprints — obtained by The Times do not mention Mr. Prince, the former employees said he negotiated the U.A.E. deal. Corporate documents describe the battalion’s possible tasks: intelligence gathering, urban combat, the securing of nuclear and radioactive materials, humanitarian missions and special operations “to destroy enemy personnel and equipment.”
One document describes “crowd-control operations” where the crowd “is not armed with firearms but does pose a risk using improvised weapons (clubs and stones).”
People involved in the project and American officials said that the Emiratis were interested in deploying the battalion to respond to terrorist attacks and put down uprisings inside the country’s sprawling labor camps, which house the Pakistanis, Filipinos and other foreigners who make up the bulk of the country’s work force. The foreign military force was planned months before the so-called Arab Spring revolts that many experts believe are unlikely to spread to the U.A.E. Iran was a particular concern.
An Eye on Iran
Although there was no expectation that the mercenary troops would be used for a stealth attack on Iran, Emirati officials talked of using them for a possible maritime and air assault to reclaim a chain of islands, mostly uninhabited, in the Persian Gulf that are the subject of a dispute between Iran and the U.A.E., the former employees said. Iran has sent military forces to at least one of the islands, Abu Musa, and Emirati officials have long been eager to retake the islands and tap their potential oil reserves.
The Emirates have a small military that includes army, air force and naval units as well as a small special operations contingent, which served in Afghanistan, but over all, their forces are considered inexperienced.
In recent years, the Emirati government has showered American defense companies with billions of dollars to help strengthen the country’s security. A company run by Richard A. Clarke, a former counterterrorism adviser during the Clinton and Bush administrations, has won several lucrative contracts to advise the U.A.E. on how to protect its infrastructure.
Some security consultants believe that Mr. Prince’s efforts to bolster the Emirates’ defenses against an Iranian threat
might yield some benefits for the American government, which shares the U.A.E.’s concern about creeping Iranian influence in the region.
“As much as Erik Prince is a pariah in the United States, he may be just what the doctor ordered in the U.A.E.,” said an American security consultant with knowledge of R2’s work.
The contract includes a one-paragraph legal and ethics policy noting that R2 should institute accountability and disciplinary procedures. “The overall goal,” the contract states, “is to ensure that the team members supporting this effort continuously cast the program in a professional and moral light that will hold up to a level of media scrutiny.”
But former employees said that R2’s leaders never directly grappled with some fundamental questions about the operation. International laws governing private armies and mercenaries are murky, but would the Americans overseeing the training of a foreign army on foreign soil be breaking United States law?
Susan Kovarovics, an international trade lawyer who advises companies about export controls, said that because Reflex Responses was an Emirati company it might not need State Department authorization for its activities.
But she said that any Americans working on the project might run legal risks if they did not get government approval to participate in training the foreign troops.
Basic operational issues, too, were not addressed, the former employees said. What were the battalion’s rules of engagement? What if civilians were killed during an operation? And could a Latin American commando force deployed in the Middle East really be kept a secret?
The first waves of mercenaries began arriving last summer. Among them was a 13-year veteran of Colombia’s National Police force
named Calixto Rincón, 42, who joined the operation with hopes of providing for his family and seeing a new part of the world.
“We were practically an army for the Emirates,” Mr. Rincón, now back in Bogotá, Colombia, said in an interview. “They wanted people who had a lot of experience in countries with conflicts, like Colombia.”
Mr. Rincón’s visa carried a special stamp from the U.A.E. military intelligence branch, which is overseeing the entire project, that allowed him to move through customs and immigration without being questioned.
He soon found himself in the midst of the camp’s daily routines, which mirrored those of American military training. “We would get up at 5 a.m. and we would start physical exercises,” Mr. Rincón said. His assignment included manual labor at the expanding complex, he said. Other former employees said the troops — outfitted in Emirati military uniforms — were split into companies to work on basic infantry maneuvers, learn navigation skills and practice sniper training.
R2 spends roughly $9 million per month maintaining the battalion, which includes expenditures for employee salaries, ammunition and wages for dozens of domestic workers who cook meals, wash clothes and clean the camp, a former employee said. Mr. Rincón said that he and his companions never wanted for anything, and that their American leaders even arranged to have a chef travel from Colombia to make traditional soups.
But the secrecy of the project has sometimes created a prisonlike environment. “We didn’t have permission to even look through the door,” Mr. Rincón said. “We were only allowed outside for our morning jog, and all we could see was sand everywhere.”
The Emirates wanted the troops to be ready to deploy just weeks after stepping off the plane, but it quickly became clear that the Colombians’ military skills fell far below expectations. “Some of these kids couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn,” said a former employee. Other recruits admitted to never having fired a weapon.
As a result, the veteran American and foreign commandos training the battalion have had to rethink their roles. They had planned to act only as “advisers” during missions — meaning they would not fire weapons — but over time, they realized that they would have to fight side by side with their troops, former officials said.
Making matters worse, the recruitment pipeline began drying up. Former employees said that Thor struggled to sign up, and keep, enough men on the ground. Mr. Rincón developed a hernia and was forced to return to Colombia, while others were dismissed from the program for drug use or poor conduct.
And R2’s own corporate leadership has also been in flux. Mr. Chambers, who helped develop the project, left after several months. A handful of other top executives, some of them former Blackwater employees, have been hired, then fired within weeks.
To bolster the force, R2 recruited a platoon of South African mercenaries, including some veterans of Executive Outcomes, a South African company notorious for staging coup attempts or suppressing rebellions against African strongmen in the 1990s.
The platoon was to function as a quick-reaction force, American officials and former employees said, and began training for a practice mission: a terrorist attack on the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, the world’s tallest building. They would secure the situation before quietly handing over control to Emirati troops.
But by last November, the battalion was officially behind schedule. The original goal was for the 800-man force to be ready by March 31; recently, former employees said, the battalion’s size was reduced to about 580 men.
Emirati military officials had promised that if this first battalion was a success, they would pay for an entire brigade of several thousand men. The new contracts would be worth billions, and would help with Mr. Prince’s next big project: a desert training complex for foreign troops patterned after Blackwater’s compound in Moyock, N.C.
But before moving ahead, U.A.E. military officials have insisted that the battalion prove itself in a “real world mission.”
That has yet to happen. So far, the Latin American troops have been taken off the base only to shop and for occasional entertainment.
On a recent spring night though, after months stationed in the desert, they boarded an unmarked bus and were driven to hotels in central Dubai, a former employee said. There, some R2 executives had arranged for them to spend the evening with prostitutes.
Mark Mazzetti reported from Abu Dhabi and Washington, and Emily B. Hager from New York. Jenny Carolina González and Simon Romero contributed reporting from Bogotá, Colombia. Kitty Bennett contributed research from Washington.
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn ... index.html
Friday, May 20, 2011 08:21 ET
The always-expanding bipartisan Surveillance State
By Glenn Greenwald
When I wrote earlier this week about Jane Mayer's New Yorker article on the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers, the passage I hailed as "the single paragraph that best conveys the prime, enduring impact of the Obama presidency" included this observation from Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin: "We are witnessing the bipartisan normalization and legitimization of a national-surveillance state." There are three events -- all incredibly from the last 24 hours -- which not only prove how true that is, but vividly highlight how it functions and why it is so odious.
First, consider what Democrats and Republicans just jointly did with regard to the Patriot Act, the very naming of which once sent progressives into spasms of vocal protest and which long served as the symbolic shorthand for Bush/Cheney post-9/11 radicalism:Top congressional leaders agreed Thursday to a four-year extension of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act, the controversial law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks that governs the search for terrorists on American soil.
The deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner calls for a vote before May 27, when parts of the current act expire. The idea is to pass the extension with as little debate as possible to avoid a protracted and familiar argument over the expanded power the law gives to the government. . . .
From its inception, the law's increased surveillance powers have been criticized by liberals and conservatives alike as infringements on free speech rights and protections against unwarranted searches and seizures.
Some Patriot Act opponents suggest that Osama bin Laden's demise earlier this month should prompt Congress to reconsider the law, written when the terrorist leader was at the peak of his power. But the act's supporters warn that al-Qaida splinter groups, scattered from Pakistan to the United States and beyond, may try to retaliate.
"Now more than ever, we need access to the crucial authorities in the Patriot Act," Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
This will be the second time that the Democratic Congress -- with the support of President Obama (who once pretended to favor reforms) -- has extended the Patriot Act without any changes. And note the rationale for why it was done in secret bipartisan meetings: to ensure "as little debate as possible" and "to avoid a protracted and familiar argument over the expanded power the law gives to the government." Indeed, we wouldn't want to have any messy, unpleasant democratic debates over "the expanded power the law gives to the government." Here we find yet again the central myth of our political culture: that there is too little bipartisanship when the truth is there is little in Washington but that. And here we also find -- yet again -- that the killing of Osama bin Laden is being exploited to justify a continuation, rather than a reduction, in the powers of the National Security and Surveillance States.
Next we have a new proposal from the Obama White House to drastically expand the scope of "National Security Letters" -- the once-controversial and long-abused creation of the Patriot Act that allows the FBI to obtain private records about American citizens without the need for a subpoena or any court approval -- so that it now includes records of your Internet activities:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 41_pf.html
White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity
The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual's Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.
The administration wants to add just four words -- "electronic communication transactional records" -- to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge's approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user's browser history. . .
Stewart A. Baker, a former senior Bush administration Homeland Security official, said the proposed change would broaden the bureau's authority. "It'll be faster and easier to get the data," said Baker, who practices national security and surveillance law. "And for some Internet providers, it'll mean giving a lot more information to the FBI in response to an NSL." . . .
To critics, the move is another example of an administration retreating from campaign pledges to enhance civil liberties in relation to national security. The proposal is "incredibly bold, given the amount of electronic data the government is already getting," said Michelle Richardson, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel.
The critics say its effect would be to greatly expand the amount and type of personal data the government can obtain without a court order. "You're bringing a big category of data -- records reflecting who someone is communicating with in the digital world, Web browsing history and potentially location information -- outside of judicial review," said Michael Sussmann, a Justice Department lawyer under President Bill Clinton who now represents Internet and other firms.
So first they conspire with the GOP to extend the Patriot Act without any reforms, then seek to expand its most controversial and invasive provisions to obtain the Internet activities of American citizens without having to bother with a subpoena or judicial approval -- "they" being the Democratic White House.
Most critically, the government's increased ability to learn more and more about the private activities of its citizens is accompanied -- as always -- by an ever-increasing wall of secrecy it erects around its own actions. Thus, on the very same day that we have an extension of the Patriot Act and a proposal to increase the government's Internet snooping powers, we have this:
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/05/19/1 ... _term=news
The Justice Department should publicly release its legal opinion that allows the FBI to obtain telephone records of international calls made from the U.S. without any formal legal process, a watchdog group asserts.
The nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation alleges in a lawsuit filed Thursday that the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel violated federal open-records laws by refusing to release the memo.
The suit was prompted in part by McClatchy's reporting that highlighted the existence of the memo and the department's refusal to release it. Earlier this year, McClatchy also requested a copy and was turned down.
The decision not to release the memo is noteworthy because the Obama administration -- in particular the Office of Legal Counsel -- has sought to portray itself as more open than the Bush administration was. By turning down the foundation's request for a copy, the department is ensuring that its legal arguments in support of the FBI's controversial and discredited efforts to obtain telephone records will be kept secret.
What's extraordinary about the Obama DOJ's refusal to release this document is that it does not reveal the eavesdropping activities of the Government but only its legal rationale for why it is ostensibly permitted to engage in those activities. The Bush DOJ's refusal to release its legal memos authorizing its surveillance and torture policies was unquestionably one of the acts that provoked the greatest outrage among Democratic lawyers and transparency advocates (see, for instance, Dawn Johnsen's scathing condemnation of the Bush administration for its refusal to release OLC legal reasoning: "reliance on 'secret law' threatens the effective functioning of American democracy" and "the withholding from Congress and the public of legal interpretations by the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) upsets the system of checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of government."
The way a republic is supposed to function is that there is transparency for those who wield public power and privacy for private citizens. The National Security State has reversed that dynamic completely, so that the Government (comprised of the consortium of public agencies and their private-sector "partners") knows virtually everything about what citizens do, but citizens know virtually nothing about what they do (which is why WikiLeaks specifically and whistleblowers generally, as one of the very few remaining instruments for subverting that wall of secrecy, are so threatening to them). Fortified by always-growing secrecy weapons, everything they do is secret -- including even the "laws" they secretly invent to authorize their actions -- while everything you do is open to inspection, surveillance and monitoring.
This dynamic threatens to entrench irreversible, absolute power for reasons that aren't difficult to understand. Knowledge is power, as the cliché teaches. When powerful factions can gather unlimited information about citizens, they can threaten, punish, and ultimately deter any meaningful form of dissent: J. Edgar Hoover infamously sought to drive Martin Luther King, Jr. to suicide by threatening to reveal King's alleged adultery discovered by illicit surveillance; as I described earlier today in my post on New York's new Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer was destroyed in the middle of challenging Wall Street as the result of a massive federal surveillance scheme that uncovered his prostitution activities. It is the rare person indeed with nothing to hide, and allowing the National Security State faction unfettered, unregulated intrusive power into the private affairs of citizens -- as we have been inexorably doing -- is to vest them with truly awesome, unlimited power.
Conversely, allowing government officials to shield their own conduct from transparency and (with the radical Bush/Obama version of the "State Secrets privilege") even judicial review ensures that National Security State officials (public and private) can do whatever they want without any detection and (therefore) without limit or accountability. That is what the Surveillance State, at its core, is designed to achieve: the destruction of privacy for individual citizens and an impenetrable wall of secrecy for those with unlimited surveillance power. And as these three events just from the last 24 hours demonstrate, this system -- with fully bipartisan support --- is expanding more rapidly than ever.
UPDATE: I confused the timing of the second incident I mentioned here: the White House's proposal to expand NSL's to include Internet records. That actually occurred last July. But I also neglected to include in this list the Obama White House's September demands that all ISP's and manufacturers of electronic communication devices (such as Blackberries) provide "backdoors" for government surveillance, so that bolsters the points I made here.
May 24, 2011
The Global Arms Bazaar
By LAWRENCE S. WITTNER
Despite the vast rivers of blood and treasure poured into wars over the centuries, the nations of the world continue to enhance their military might.
According to a recent report from the prestigious Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), world military expenditures grew to a record $1.63 trillion in 2010. Middle East nations alone spent $111 billion on the military, with Saudi Arabia leading the way.
Arms sales have also reached record heights. SIPRI's Top 100 of the world's arms-producing companies sold $401 billion in weaponry during 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available), a real dollar increase of eight percent over the preceding year and 59 percent since 2002.
These military companies do a particularly brisk business overseas, where they engage in fierce battles for weapons contracts. "There is intense competition between suppliers for big-ticket deals in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America," reports Dr. Paul Holtom, Director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program. Until recently, in fact, defense contractors scrambled vigorously to sell arms to Libya.
In numerous ways, the United States is at the head of the pack. Of the $20.6 billion increase in world military expenditures during 2010, the U.S. government accounted for $19.6 billion. Indeed, between 2001 and 2010, the U.S. government increased its military spending by 81 percent. As a result, it now accounts for about 43 percent of global military spending, some six times that of its nearest military rival, China.
U.S. weapons producers are also world leaders. According to SIPRI, 45 of its Top 100 weapons-manufacturers are based in the United States. In 2009, they generated nearly $247 billion in weapons sales—nearly 62 percent of income produced by the Top 100. Not surprisingly, the United States is also the world's leading exporter of military equipment, accounting for 30 percent of global arms exports in the 2006-2010 period.
Being Number 1 might be exciting, even thrilling, among children. But adults might well ask if the benefits are worth the cost. Are they?
Let's take a look at the issue of terrorism. Much of the last decade's huge military buildup by the United States was called for in the context of what President George W. Bush called the "War on Terror." And the costs, thus far, have been high, including an estimated $1.19 trillion that Americans have paid for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus thousands of Americans and vast numbers of Afghans and Iraqis who have been slaughtered. By contrast, the benefits are certainly dubious. Neither war resulted in the capture or killing of the terrorist mastermind, Osama bin Laden, who was tracked down in another country thanks to years of painstaking intelligence work and dispatched by a quick commando raid. Wouldn't Americans (and people in other lands) be a lot safer from terrorism with fewer wars and better intelligence?
Of course, there is also the broader national security picture. Even without terrorism, the world is a dangerous place. War is certainly a hardy perennial. Nevertheless, simply increasing national military spending does not make nations safer. After all, when one country engages in a military buildup, others—frightened by this buildup—often do so as well. The result of this arms race is all too often international conflict and war. Wouldn't nations be more secure if they worked harder at cooperating with one another rather than at threatening one another with military might? Even if they were not the best of friends, they might find it to their mutual advantage to agree to decrease their military spending by an equal percentage, thus retaining the current military balance among them. Also, they could begin turning over a broader range of international security issues to the United Nations.
Maintaining a vast military apparatus also starves other areas of a society. Currently, in the United States, most federal discretionary spending goes for war and preparations for war—and this despite an ongoing crisis over unemployment and a stagnating economy. Continuing this pattern, the Obama administration's proposed federal budget for fiscal 2012, while increasing military spending, calls for sharp cuts in funding for education, income security, food safety, and environmental protection. Even as congress wrestles with the thorny issue of priorities, huge numbers of teachers, firemen, health care workers, social workers, policemen, and others—told that government revenues are no longer sufficient to fund their services—are being dismissed from their jobs. Other public servants are having their salaries and benefits slashed. Social welfare institutions are being closed. Thus, instead of defending the home front in the United States, the immensely costly U.S. military apparatus is helping to gut it.
Ultimately, as many people have learned through bitter experience, militarism undermines both peace and prosperity. Perhaps it's time for government officials to learn this fact.
Dr. Lawrence S. Wittner is Professor of History at the State University of New York/Albany. His latest book is Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (Stanford University Press).
USA had illegal intelligence in Sweden
National News | 2011-05-23
Agents from the United States have operated in Sweden under false premises in order to spy on suspected terrorists. This is reported by Svenska Dagbladet.
The American agents were caught in the act by the Swedish security police SÄPO in 2009. Sweden protested to CIA and the two American agents left Sweden shortly afterwards. This has been kept secret at top level since then according to Svenska Dagbladet (SVD).
This case should not be confused with the supervisory unit at the US embassy in Stockholm which was knowned last year or leaked diplomatic reports from Wikileaks. The case here reveals instead until now totally unknown information about American illegal intelligence in Sweden.
SÄPO discovered the American agents during one of its own reconnaissance operations against suspected terrorists in Sweden. Suddenly Säpo discovered that there was a third unknown actor involved in the area who was interested in the suspected terrorists.
SÄPO revealed that it was two Americans. When SÄPO controlled them it turned out that they were American agents. It was clear that USA had broken against several rules in the relation between Sweden and USA.
"USA sees Sweden as a small colony"
The reactions in Sweden have been upset but not very surprised.
- CIA has for a long time done things on its own way without informing other countries. This behaviour is in their culture. This is a clear crime against international law and a violation of our sovereignty, says Ove Bring, professor in international law to SvD.se.
Social Democratic party leader Håkan Juholt demands that the government declares whether or not it has been aware of the fact that foreign agents have been detected on Swedish territory.
- If the claims are true, this is very serious. Then American authorities have acted outside the limits of the law. This is something that they cannot do, Juholt says to SvD.se.
Swedish writer Jan Guillou thinks that Sweden is too compliant with the United States.
- Sweden has shown in many was that the law does not apply for American intelligence in Sweden. (...) The United States think that they are our our bosses, they see Sweden as a small colony which has no say. We show them that they are right by saying 'oh, we are sorry to disturb.', says Jan Guillou to SvD.se.
Officials on both sides avoid commenting
SÄPO does not want to confirm nor deny:
- We never comment any current, passed, planned or claimed operations, says Anders Danielsson, chief of SÄPO to SVD.
When it comes to official US spokespersons, the answer is almost identical.
- We do not comment on security issues in detail, says the spokesman for the US embassy in Sweden Christopher Dunnett according to Dagens Nyheter.
The Swedish government is 'not yet' prepared to comment on this issue.
km artlu wrote:Why is this investigation and its dissemination empowered by the Post and PBS? Are not both of them infested by Mockingbird from its inception through to the present? I have some cognitive dissonance going on here.
Once again, this kind of thing provokes analogy to Cosa Nostra Five Families of 1950s New York City. Sporadic in-fighting would from time to time relieve oppression in certain neighborhoods, but neither faction in the dispute was ever on the side of regular folks.
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