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Paul Rigby
10-26-2008, 06:49 AM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10692

What “incredibly tough” foreign policy actions is Obama preparing?

by Patrick Martin

Global Research, October 25, 2008
wsws.org - 2008-10-22


In remarks made over the weekend in Seattle, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden warned that Barack Obama, if elected president, would be compelled to take deeply unpopular actions in both domestic and foreign policy within months of taking office.

In closed-door gatherings with two audiences of Democratic Party insiders and fundraisers, Biden forecast a major international crisis in the first six months of an Obama administration.

He compared Obama to John F. Kennedy, the last senator to be elected president. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy," Biden said. "The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Watch. We're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

Biden mentioned the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and Russia as potential points of conflict, but did not spell out the exact nature of such a crisis, observing, "I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate." He made it clear that Obama would respond forcefully: "They're going to want to test him. And they're going to find out this guy's got steel in his spine."

The most politically significant portion of Biden's remarks came when he admitted that the decisions of an Obama-Biden administration were likely to be deeply unpopular, and he called on the Democratic Party regulars to stand behind the new president even when public opinion turned against him.

"He's going to need help," Biden said. "He's going to need you—not financially to help him—we're going to need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not going to be apparent initially, it's not going to be apparent that we're right."

He continued, "There are going to be a lot of you who want to go, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don't know about that decision.' Because if you think the decision is sound when they're made, which I believe you will when they're made, they're not likely to be as popular as they are sound. Because if they're popular, they're probably not sound."

Here is the voice of a longtime representative of the financial aristocracy, voicing his contempt for public opinion—"if decisions are popular, they're probably not sound"—and warning his wealthy audience that the new Obama-Biden administration will have to defy public opinion to carry out its policies. Biden's language suggests that the ferocity of the new administration's response will shock not only public opinion, but even its own supporters.

In that context, one must point out Biden's suggestions that nuclear weapons might play a role in one or more of the potential crises. A nuclear-armed Korean Peninsula could lead to "Japan as a nuclear power," he said, which could push China into expanding its nuclear weaponry. The Pakistan-Afghanistan border is "crawling with Al Qaeda" and "Pakistan is already bristling with nuclear weapons, all of which can hit Israel." Biden also noted Iran's alleged drive to build a nuclear weapon.

Foreign policy journals and pundits linked to the Democratic Party have undoubtedly been discussing many such doomsday scenarios, and Biden's language suggests that the use of the US nuclear arsenal, the world's largest, is under consideration by those who are formulating the foreign and military policy of an Obama-Biden administration.

Biden himself has been one of the most hawkish on foreign policy among leading congressional Democrats, backing the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and advocating a US-led military intervention in Darfur. During the Democratic presidential primary campaign, he was the most vociferous of all the candidates in denouncing antiwar protest groups seeking a cutoff of funds for the war in Iraq.

Biden's expectation of widespread popular hostility to an Obama administration applies not only to foreign and military policy, but to domestic policy. He told the Seattle audience, "I promise you, you all are going to be sitting here a year from now going, ‘Oh my God, why are they there in the polls, why is the polling so down, why is this thing so tough?' We're going have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years."

The Democratic candidate did not spell out the exact nature of these "incredibly tough decisions," other than to refer to the financial and economic crisis and two wars being bequeathed by the Bush administration to its successor.

In the wake of these blunt and ominous comments, there have been disingenuous attempts to explain them away from both parties.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain seized on the suggestion that foreign enemies might seek to test an inexperienced President Obama, citing his own military and foreign policy expertise going back more than 50 years. Right-wing pundits went further, suggesting, as one put it, that "Biden is forecasting inaction by Obama in the face of testing by a dictator."

This interpretation is preposterous, especially given Biden's own record as a fervent supporter of US military intervention. Obama's selection of the Delaware senator as his running mate was itself an effort to reassure the political establishment of his commitment to defend the interests of American imperialism by military force.

The Obama campaign sought to shrug off Biden's remarks as a mere historical generalization, triggered by the Obama-Kennedy analogy, not a prediction of impending crisis. A campaign spokesman said Biden was referring to Kennedy's confrontation with Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev in summit talks in Vienna, a few months after he took office—although these talks took place after a US military provocation—the invasion of Cuba by US-trained exiles who were defeated at the Bay of Pigs.

An Obama administration would not be an "innocent abroad," picked on by dictators out to "test the mettle" of a US president. American imperialism continues from administration to administration, Democratic or Republican. If elected, Obama will take office heading the world's largest military machine, engaged in violent provocations in dozens of countries, any of which could flare up unexpectedly, especially under the impact of the deepening world economic crisis.

Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination by presenting himself as the more consistent antiwar candidate, and the Democratic ticket in public pledges to end the war in Iraq and adopt a less militaristic stance. But behind closed doors, before select audiences of the financial and political elite, Biden has given a glimpse of the real perspective of the Democratic wing of American imperialism.

Paul Rigby
10-26-2008, 11:45 AM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10692

What “incredibly tough” foreign policy actions is Obama preparing?

by Patrick Martin

Global Research, October 25, 2008
wsws.org - 2008-10-22

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Washington-Think-Tank-Cult-by-Cheryl-Biren-Wrigh-081025-140.html

October 25, 2008 at 06:32:25

Headlined on 10/25/08:

Washington Think-Tank Cultivating 'Last Resort' Against Iran and Priming Next President

by Cheryl Biren-Wright


Preventive - a seemingly innocuous word has been getting a lot of play in recent publications and conferences sponsored by Washington think tanks - perhaps nowhere more than at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).

Generally we don’t expect death, destruction and illegality to rest on the preventive side of the equation. Then again, after March 19, 2003, perhaps we should. When WINEP uses the word preventive they mean "preventive military action." More precisely - a military attack on another country, in this case Iran that is neither in self-defense nor in response to an immediate threat of attack.

The likelihood of a military strike against Iran either by the United States or Israel has been debated for years waxing and waning with the geopolitical climate. What is not in question is the steady effort by some to lay the ground work for such an action.

The Washington Institute founded by Martin Indyk, a former research director for AIPAC, seeks to "bring scholarship to bear on the making of U.S. policy" in the Middle East. Among its programs is the Presidential Study Group "charged with drafting a blueprint for the next administration’s Middle East policy." WINEP’s board of advisors includes noted figures such as Richard Perle, R. James Woolsey and until 2001 Paul Wolfowitz.

Michael Eisenstadt, a senior fellow and director of WINEP’s Military and Security Studies Program wrote a three-page article in September 2006 entitled "Iran: The Complex Calculus of Preventive Military Action." Eisenstadt discussed the factors that would be in play if the U.S. took preventive military action to "thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions."

He tackled first the matter of congressional authorization for a planned attack on Iran. He referred to it as "consulting Congress." Quickly bypassing Congress’ constitutional power to declare war citing precedence, Eisenstadt laid out two options. 1. Inform a select group of members of Congress prior to launching a strike, but compromise public support for "subsequent actions." 2. Allow Congress to openly debate the "merits of military action" and seek a joint resolution, but preclude surprise and risk defeat.

Bearing in mind WINEP’s mission to use scholarship to assist in policy making, it is worth noting a glaring omission. Mr. Eisenstadt made no room for discussion of the UN Charter ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1945 thereby making it the law of our land. It requires that member nations refrain from the threat or use of force and that if a dispute is not settled it shall be referred to the Security Council which will make recommendations.

While the Charter allows for military action in self-defense and the issue of a preemptive attack in the face of "imminent danger" has been a point of contention in recent years, no strong case for an "imminent" attack was even put forth in the article. What Eisenstadt was considering was a preventive strike to "thwart ambitions."

To minimize national backlash - a rally around the flag in Iran – Eisenstadt recommended that the U.S. engage in a "high-profile information campaign" to convince the Iranian people that an attack on their country is in their best interest. The article concluded that while seeking diplomacy, military prevention should be on the table.

In summer 2007, Eisenstadt published another article on preventive action "The Complex Calculus of Preventive Military Action." Along with the title the article was, with a few exceptions, the same as the one he authored in 2006.

In 2006, his reason was "faltering diplomacy" over Iran’s nuclear program. In 2007, he pointed to Bush administration claims that Iran was supplying IED’s that were being used against U.S. forces in Iraq. This was a big news item at the time. What was not big news was that proof of those claims never fully materialized.

Both articles shared an important statement, "[One] should not dismiss the possibility that the intelligence picture concerning Iran’s nuclear program could change rapidly." And change it did. In December 2007, the key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran were made public. Among the findings: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program."

Thus began the campaign to discredit the 2007 NIE on Iran.

Bending, conspiring, duping and ruining our day

The first to let his fingers fly was Norman Podhoretz. Writing for the Commentary, he penned an article in June 2007 entitled "The Case for Bombing Iran." On September 11, his book World War IV: The Long Struggle against Islamofascism was released.
Hours after the key judgments of the NIE were made public, he accused the intelligence community of "bending over backward" to dispute what he claimed is universally believed - that Iran is "hell-bent on developing nuclear weapons." He continued, "But, I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again."

Patrick Clawson, WINEP’s deputy director for research offered his own spin. He asked "how much does weaponization matter?" and claimed that the findings only suggest a change in sequence by Tehran. For good measure, Clawson lamented about the U.S. intelligence community’s "poor track record."

Next up: Kenneth Timmerman. Writing for Newsmax, Timmerman cited the publication’s alleged sources in Tehran and claimed that "Washington has fallen for ‘a deliberate disinformation campaign’ cooked up by the Revolutionary Guards."

Timmerman viciously attacked Thomas Fingar, chair of the National Intelligence Council, and others involved in preparing the NIE all the while quoting himself from the book he authored that was released a few weeks earlier entitled Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender. It’s unclear whether he was suggesting Dr. Fingar was a traitor, a saboteur or just a wimp.

James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation urged readers not to be misled by the NIE. Despite the NIE’s high confidence that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program, Phillips warned of the danger of "disinformation or misinformation." His answer was that it was "Time for Team B." He said the president should establish an independent panel of experts to examine the evidence assembled in the NIE. Either the U.S. intelligence agencies' experts were not expert enough for Mr. Phillips’ liking or their findings were not to his liking.

Podhoretz, Timmerman and Phillips are all members of The Committee on the Present Danger co-chaired by WINEP’s advisory board member, R. James Woolsey.

When committed to your hand – double down.

With the November 2007 NIE in mind would Michael Eisenstadt, for the third year, reintroduce the Complex Calculus? In June 2008, it resurfaced. This time primarily as an annex to a 45-page publication called Agenda: Iran. The Last Resort: Consequences of Preventive Action against Iran coauthored with colleague Patrick Clawson.

The authors assert that the study does not advocate military action – the time is not right and they don’t know the level of target intelligence available to the U.S. The Last Resort does lay out the "prerequisites for a successful policy of preventive action should the United States decide to go this route." A precursory look finds they favor prevention over deterrence while only feigning interest in diplomacy. Undoubtedly what it does is provide that all important blueprint for a preventive strike not only militarily, but politically.

There is no hiding the resentment the authors have for the release of the NIE findings. They blame lack of support for preventive action by allies and even Iranians on the intelligence community "seemingly soft-pedaling Iran’s nuclear ambitions."

The article speaks to the proper conditions both in the U.S. and Iran for a preventive strike to be accepted and successful. One scenario they describe is if Iran were to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In January 2007 John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN and perennial cheerleader for bombing Iran, in a conference call reportedly with members of AIPAC, expressed disappointment that Iran had not withdrawn from the NPT in response to the UN Security Council Resolution passed the month before. "I actually hoped they would. That kind of reaction," he told them "would produce a counter-reaction that actually would be more beneficial to us."

Smoking-gun evidence presents a dilemma for the authors. Striking in the absence of it would create a challenge militarily in terms of target intelligence and could evoke sympathy for Iran. Attacking Iran in the presence of smoking-gun proof, they report, could be "tantamount to going to war with a nuclear Iran." And, waiting for it "may amount to de facto acquiescence in a nuclear-armed Iran." The language is familiar.

"The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Condoleezza Rice, September 8, 2002.

"Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." Pres. George W. Bush, October 7, 2002.

Nuclear facilities are not the only targets Eisenstadt and Clawson consider worthy of bombing. They also eye Iran’s oil infrastructure. They admit it may result in soaring oil prices and poor economic growth, but quickly add those problems are "not clearly the greater evil."

They also suggest coupling strikes on nuclear facilities with strikes on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard and the Ministry of Intelligence. This combined with the prospect that repeated strikes may be required, preventive military action begins to emerge as a widespread military campaign.

Also discussed is an Israeli strike versus U.S. strike. While Israel may be more disposed to taking preventive action, they say, it will likely engender more international criticism. They question the effectiveness of an Israeli-led strike versus one led by the U.S. military. Given that many will conclude that the U.S. at the very least gave the green light, they offer a few suggestions including the U.S. preempting a strike by Israel or proposing a joint U.S.-Israel action.

Prevention, they say, would involve a significant risk of retaliation by the Iranians and may only delay the nuclear program most likely requiring future military action. Not mentioned are casualties or financial burdens. When discussing deterrence they employ phrases like "catastrophic failure" and the "deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions." What is clearly not acceptable in connection to a policy of deterrence is a resultant "ambiguous nuclear weapons capability."

Taking the Show on the Road

Eisenstadt’s call for a high-profile information campaign was not limited to targeting Iranians. On July 3, 2008, he participated in a conference call with reporters held simultaneously in Washington, D.C., London, Brussels and Jerusalem.

Sponsoring the call was The Israel Project (TIP). According to its website, TIP "provides journalists, leaders and opinion-makers accurate information about Israel" influencing "hundreds of millions of people around the world." Its board of advisors includes 22 members of the U.S. Congress (12 Senators and 10 Representatives).

Eisenstadt said that he was somewhat pessimistic about the prospects of successful diplomacy. He then repeated to the 100-plus reporters the fear-eliciting conclusion from the Last Resort that not acting militarily could result in catastrophe and the deaths of millions of people.

Mark Summers, a reporter based in Bahrain, asked whether talk of preventive measures was premature given the findings of the U.S. intelligence community. Eisenstadt responded, "To be honest, to be fair, I think that the NIE was carefully couched."

A Former CIA Analyst Weighs in on the Last Resort

Ray McGovern, who during his 27-years in the CIA had the opportunity to chair NIE’s, had strong words about Eisenstadt’s approach.

"One way to look at the Eisenstadt paper [the Last Resort] and briefing is as a surrogate NIE. They fulfill the function of an Estimate nicely for administration’s purposes not unlike the Office of Special Plans setup by Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith in the Pentagon to come up with the "correct" answers before and during Iraq. It’s an old stratagem; one of the best examples was Team B which played up the Soviet threat starting in the ‘70s."

McGovern who has advocated for a "Memorandum to Holders" of the previous estimate - an update to the 2007 NIE - added sharply "If you can’t get the answers you want from the $50 billion intelligence bureaucracy, make sure they do nothing and create something off on the side to provide what you want."

On preventive military action, McGovern doesn’t hold back. "Preventive military action is a war crime. It’s a war of aggression defined by Nuremberg as the supreme international crime." Referring to the Last Resort he said "I’m sure it’s being shown to whomever will digest it into words for the president as ‘this is probably the considered view of the experts’ on Iran."

Next Stop on the Preventive Action Tour: Christians United for Israel (CUFI)

In late July 2008, WINEP’s Patrick Clawson joined controversial pastor John Hagee’s CUFI for their Washington-Israel Summit. Ali Gharib, a Washington-based journalist, discussed Clawson’s role in an article he wrote. Clawson sat on the panel "Iran: Eye of the Storm." This panel was closed to the press so Gharib attended instead with a participant’s pass.

He reported "Clawson elicited laughter from the crowd with his statement that some Iranian leaders are quite happy to be suicidal. Many of them are not rational." He also claimed "Iran is spending at least $200 million a year financing, training, and arming every terror group that is killing Israelis in the pursuit of eliminating the state of Israel."

However, during the Q&A session when questioned about possible Iranian retaliation to a U.S. strike, Gharib writes that Clawson responded by saying, "The history, so far, is of blood-curdling threats, and [then] nothing happens."

It seems in a brassy attempt to sell the preventive action product, Clawson points to heinous actions by an irrational regime and then when asked about Iranian retaliation, he claims that same group might not respond at all to an attack on its homeland.

Shifting Focus to Arabs and Americans

For years, the focus on preventing a "nuclear Iran" was based on the perceived threat to the state of Israel as demonstrated in Patrick Clawson’s presentation at the Christians United for Israel conference. But in September, a noticeable shift began to emerge from the thinkers at the Washington Institute.

On September 11, 2008, Clawson wrote "Don’t Make Iran an Israeli Issue" published in The Jewish Daily Forward. After reminding readers of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he wrote "Lately, however, the public discussion has been focused too much on the specific threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to Israel." He reasserted that claim, but then added how it would also be a "menace" to its "Arab neighbors and to American and Western interests."

Seeking no cover, he explains "[If] we want to figure out how to move Russia and China to do more, we are more likely to persuade these governments by emphasizing the risk of proliferation rather than the threat to Israel."

To Bomb or Not to Bomb

Two weeks later, Clawson and Eisenstadt hosted a panel at The Washington Institute called "Bombing Iran or Living with Iran’s Bomb." It was based on a publication of the same title written by Kassem Ja’afar for the Transatlantic Institute in Brussels, an organization established in 2004 by the American Jewish Committee.

Isaac Ben-Israel, a member of the Knesset and retired major general in the Israeli Defense Forces spoke directly to the question of prevention versus deterrence. He concluded that the "chosen strategy" would be prevention. "The reason" he said "is not only because I am speaking as an Israeli and we all know the policy of Iran towards Israel calling to destroy Israel or to wipe it out of the map every two days or so, it’s not that reason by itself. It is much deeper than this."

Ben-Israel then shifted to Clawson’s new call to action. He stated that because Iran is neither Arab nor Sunni a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran is "frightening not only Israel but those Arab leaders, what we call the moderate Arab states in the Middle East." He spoke of proliferation and Iran exporting the Shi’a revolution.

He predicted in the face of a military conflict, despite heavy losses, "Israel will survive and Iran will go back to the Stone Ages." He warned that Iranian nuclear capability is the main concern because once they have that it’s just "a few months away" from having a bomb and that "I think will depend only on their good will, if you believe they have a good will."

Kassem Ja’afar, former diplomatic advisor to the government of Qatar and author of "Bombing Iran or Living with Iran's Bomb" spoke next. What Ja’afar said is perhaps more reflective of the concerns of the U.S. and Israel governments than a fear of attack. According to Ja’afar "[Very] simply Iran wants to be recognized as a regional super power…because it wants to have a dominant effect on the policies of the region, on the wealth of the region, and the strategic position of the region vis-à-vis the world."

This is unacceptable, he said, because of the ideological and strategic dimensions. Strategic dimensions like "oil and the Gulf and the maritime routes throughout the Middle East." In his publication he describes in great detail the military assets that Israel and the U.S. would bring to the table if there were a preventive attack writing U.S. involvement into the picture as a given.

Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst brought some cold reality to the discussion. Because of the absence of unclassified intelligence, he has seen "people coming out with strike plans" in Op-Ed’s that "range from rubbish to irresponsible," casting a disapproving look at one or more of the panelists which included in addition to Kassem Ja’afar and Isaac Ben-Israel, Michael Eisenstadt and Patrick Clawson.

He continued "The fact is that these are extraordinarily complex and they involve far more than simply counting targets...This is much more of a chainsaw than a scalpel." He did offer "What we have and what Israel does not have is the ability to persist. We have the ability to do the damage assessment. We have the ability to do re-strikes."
During the Q&A, Clawson and Eisenstadt remained focused on the issue of a preventive attack on Iran. Clawson asked Isaac Ben-Israel "What do you think the international community and Israel would do in the aftermath of this strike to prevent Iran from rebuilding?"

Ben-Israel responded nonchalantly "If we fail we have to come back five years later and do the same again...The alternative is, do we want for Iran to have a bomb? The alternative is worse."

Michael Eisenstadt asked Kassem Ja’afar, "What might the Arabs be willing to do to help either the United States or Israel with preventive military action?" Ja’afar’s answer in a nutshell, "I frankly don’t think the Arabs can do much at all."

Deputy Director of National Intel Gives WINEP a Presidents Daily Brief – Say What?!

Ray McGovern was on to something when he spoke about WINEP and the Last Resort serving as a surrogate NIE. Seems the Washington Institute for Near East Policy may have the best seat in town when it comes to access to U.S. intelligence.

McGovern thought it "bizarre that McConnell’s [Director of National Intelligence] principal deputy Donald Kerr briefed WINEP some 5 or 6 months ago....and a CIA nuclear weapons expert also briefed WINEP."

That CIA analyst may have been Michael Leiter, Acting Director of the National Counterterrorism Center who paid WINEP a visit in February 2008 to discuss the "looming challenges in the war on terror." Ray believes that this level of interaction by the agency with WINEP is "Very irregular."

On May 29, 2008, Donald Kerr, the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence delivered a remarkable presentation to WINEP.
Speaking at a program entitled Emerging Threats, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Middle East, Kerr explained that the Presidents Daily Brief (PDB) was one of their most privileged documents read by only a handful of people and delivered to the president by either the Director of National Intelligence or himself. He added "They are based on some of our best collection capabilities, coupled with our most exacting analysis."

Then Donald Kerr announced "This evening, I’m going to give you a notional view of some of the issues that will be raised in the Oval Office PDB on January 21, 2009."

"We’ll give you a snapshot of where things stand now and some of the overarching thoughts as to potential future developments...Iran, for example, continues to provide weapons, funding, and training support to certain Iraqi Shi’a militants designed to increase Tehran’s influence over Iraq and ensure the United States suffers setbacks."

He offered intelligence analysis on the potential state of Iran when the next president takes office. The level of authenticity or sincerity is not clear, but it would be improper for someone in his capacity to fabricate information about such a sensitive matter. Certainly no heavily guarded secrets were shared, but the presentation did appear to be tailored to his audience. With Congress fighting for more access to intelligence information it does seem "very irregular" that a think tank with a clearly pro-Israel viewpoint that regularly discusses a military attack on Iran would be hand-fed information of any level directly from the ODNI.

What follows are highlights, including a jab at the NIE, from Kerr’s prepared speech on his mock PDB on Iran:

"The regime has become more authoritarian …Despite rising oil income, Iran’s economy is plagued by high inflation and unemployment…Iran’s foreign activities constitute a direct and immediate threat to American interests.

Iran is pursuing a range of efforts to undermine U.S. influence…The U.S. military continues to find caches of Iranian-made weapons in Iraq, including rockets, small arms, and explosively formed penetrator devices, including some manufactured in the past year.

We must also talk about the nuclear issue. Over the past year, we have gained important new insights into Iran’s activities related to nuclear weapons, and in November 2007, the Intelligence Community published a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iranian intentions and capabilities...we also judged that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons design and weaponization activities…But given that the halted activities were part of an unannounced secret program that Iran attempted to hide, we do not know whether it has been restarted since our last assessment…A number of countries in the region have recently expressed renewed interest in nuclear power."

These remarks fit like a glove to WINEP’s Last Resort hand.

A Q&A followed with at least one member of WINEP pretending he was the president, pushing the envelope in his questions to Donald Kerr to the great amusement of the audience. But, there was no joke about the information he was trying to elicit – target intelligence on Iran.

Michael Stein asked "Do you know exactly where those production facilities are and how we can target them or what kind of weaponry will produce the result we want? I would hope also that you have some boots on the ground and you’ve done some mapping for us and can give us precise directions of where to go and what to do. And, finally, at what point would you suggest to me that the Iranians have gone too far in this development and that I better do something about it before we pass the point of no return? [Laughter, applause.]

You can read Donald Kerr’s response to those questions here as well as questions posed by R. James Woolsey, Martin Gross and others.

Priming the Incoming President

Mentioned earlier was WINEP’s Presidential Study Group that "drafts a blueprint for the next administration’s Middle East policy." One of the task forces is the "Future of the U.S.-Israeli Relations." This group convened several times throughout 2007 and 2008 including a retreat with ten Israeli counterparts.

Their final product is a Statement on "How to Deepen U.S.-Israel Cooperation on the Iranian Nuclear Challenge." It states that Iran’s nuclear weapons capability "hovers above all other items on the U.S.-Israel agenda."

Among the declarations of the Statement:

"We have an abiding commitment to the survival and security of Israel, so the potential threat to Israel of an Iranian nuclear bomb is a major concern of ours as well."

"Americans should recognize that deterrence is, in Israeli eyes, an unattractive alternative to prevention, because, if deterrence fails, Israel would suffer terribly."

"[The] U.S.-Israel relationship has come under unprecedented attack. Some of these critics argue that Israel has manipulated the U.S. government to act counter to the American national interest, which – if properly understood – would see Israel as a liability... We reject that critique."

The Task Force recommends that the new president’s policy options should include coercive options and preventive military action against Iran. They ask the president to use his position to convey directly to the American people that Iran’s "nuclear ambitions are likely to trigger a surge of nuclear proliferation…The central argument is that preventing Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability is not special pleading for America’s ally Israel – it is vital to America’s own security."

Included among the signatories to this Statement are advisors to Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. They include Dennis Ross, Obama’s senior advisor on Middle East affairs. Ross served as co-convener of this task force and is a consultant to WINEP. Other foreign policy advisors to Sen. Obama who signed in support of this Statement are Richard Clarke, Susan Rice, and Anthony Lake. R. James Woolsey, advisor to Sen. McCain and advisor to WINEP signed as well.
Worth noting is the cover of the publication that displays a photograph with U.S. and Israeli flags waving behind a line of uniformed men and women armed with what I am told by a veteran are AR-15's, M-16's and AK-47's.

Considering the working relationship with advisors to both presidential candidates, the exchange of information with members of the intelligence community and even a special visit in October 2007 by Vice President Dick Cheney, there is little doubt that the Washington Institute for Near East Policy will continue to live up to its mission to draft and shape U.S. policy in the Middle East - a policy that assigns a high priority to a preventive military attack on Iran.

Paul Rigby
10-26-2008, 05:54 PM
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Washington-Think-Tank-Cult-by-Cheryl-Biren-Wrigh-081025-140.html

October 25, 2008 at 06:32:25

Headlined on 10/25/08:

Washington Think-Tank Cultivating 'Last Resort' Against Iran and Priming Next President

by Cheryl Biren-Wright

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10689

"October Surprise": Preparing for "Something Unexpected”?

by Dr. Judith H. Young

Global Research, October 26, 2008


At a news conference on October 22, 2008, U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama was asked about a comment by his Vice Presidential running mate Joe Biden that Obama could expect to be tested within six months of the new presidential term by a “generated” international crisis that will force him to make unpopular decisions. Obama said the Delaware senator has occasionally engaged in "rhetorical flourishes," but the essential point was that the new President could expect to be challenged no matter who wins.

Obama held the news conference following a meeting with his national security advisers, who include long standing globalist asset Zbignew Brezezinski. He denied the meeting with his advisors had been called because of political damage stemming from Biden's remarks, in my view a classic ploy for calling more attention to it. [1]

Colin Powell, former Secretary of State (2001-2005), echoed Biden’s warning by referring to an unknown crisis that will come a day or two after the inauguration:

I would start with talking to the American people and talking to the world and conveying a new image of American leadership, a new image of America’s role in the world. The problems will always be there and there's going to be a crisis which will come along on the 21st, 22nd of January that we don't even know about right now. So I think what the President has to start to do is to start using the power of the Oval Office and the power of his personality to convince the American people and convince the world that America is solid, that America is going to move forward, we are going to fix our economic problems, we're going to meet our overseas obligations. [2]

John McCain and Madeleine Albright added to the furor. Albright called Biden’s statement “a statement of fact,” in that one always has to be prepared “for something unexpected.” [3] McCain raised the specter of nuclear war as he resumed his attack against Obama’s judgment by warning that the next president "won't have time to get used to the office." [4]

Alternative news analysts speculated on the import of these simultaneous warnings by public figures, including their possible relation to a new false flag:

Albright, like Biden and Powell, is an insider minion, so she may know something is up. It is rather suspect that all these voices are saying basically the same thing: Obama will be “tested,” either by an [al-Qaeda] attack, a war or confrontation in the Middle East – read Iran, or Russia….Hopefully, the ACLU’s [Freedom of Information Act request regarding the combat unit deployed domestically as of 10/1/2008] will turn up more information on the emerging police state control grid going online. Unfortunately, we are but one “terrorist event” away from this system being used to identify, track, trace, and round up the opposition. If we are to believe Joe Biden, Colin Powell, and Madeleine Albright, this event may happen as soon as the end of January, 2009. [5]

There has also been wide speculation about an imminent false flag, to be blamed on al-Qaeda, as an “October surprise” designed to influence the outcome of the election. The two scenarios, a staged event before the voting and another manufactured crisis following inauguration, are not mutually exclusive. In this article I argue for both occurring, as part of a multi-phased shock and awe campaign designed to move us into full scale martial law with the help of Barak Obama as the new national savior in a time of peril.

In my view, an October surprise consisting of a staged event in Obama’s home state, such as a dirty nuke detonated in Chicago, is a hypothesis worth exploring. Such an attack would be designed in part to focus attention on Obama as the global elite’s U.S. President of choice. In a crisis such as urban “terrorism,” the propaganda machine could spring into action to spin Obama’s popular appeal in a time of crisis as well as his argument that the Republicans have failed miserably in not apprehending bin Laden seven years after 9/11.

I believe an urban attack would in fact be but step one in a broader psyop by the globalists to condition the public to accept Obama as a new protective father figure to replace George Bush as part of their final push for a full blown police state on a global scale. This possibility brings into bold relief Colin Powell’s reference (in answering fellow Council of Foreign Relations spin-meister Tom Brokaw’s query about how to respond to the post-inaugural crisis Powell had warned about) to the “power of the President’s personality to convince the American people that America is solid.” As Naomi Klein has revealed in her work on the shock doctrine of disaster capitalism, in the CIA’s basic interrogation manual declassified in 1963, a window of opportunity is highlighted in which torture reduces its victim to a state of traumatized disorientation and childlike regression, creating an opening for the interrogator to be transformed into a protective father figure. This is one of the classic tactics of tyrants across the planet. In the view of Klein and others, it was used after the shock of 9/11 to permit George Bush and others to offer a narrative on the shocking events allowing the profoundly disoriented victims to make sense of the trauma. Hence the extraordinary power of the mind control matrix known as the War on Terror. (See also my discussion of psychological control techniques in my two-part article “Deconstructing the Power of the Global Elite”). [6]

My core argument is that the globalists’ final battle plan for world dominance is as follows: the current economic implosion that they themselves engineered, its ongoing exploitation to advance their agenda for worldwide financial and economic control, and finally, additional engineered crises designed to enable full-blown martial law as part of an international police state under their power.

I do not believe the globalists want to see riots or other forms of protest on any major scale in the U.S. because of the huge number of guns still in the hands of the populace and because of their uncertainty about the ability (and willingness) of their forces to prevail in armed conflict with Americans. They worry, in my view, that things could become similarly messy in other parts of the globe. Another mass trauma on the scale of 9/11 – or several back-to-back mass traumas involving large numbers across the globe - would be far more efficient for implementing and justifying worldwide full scale martial law, with its attendant confiscation of guns and detention of dissidents.

There is growing recognition of the commonplace use of false flag operations as a cold-blooded tool, even in so-called democracies, for promoting agendas that serve the interests of the power elite at the price of massive suffering for the common man. The most recent evidence of this criminal culture of death was a revelation by renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in July 2008 that Bush administration officials had recently held a meeting in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran. The discussion addressed the idea of disguising Navy seals to look like Iranians, put them on specially built boats that look like Iranian PT boats, and start a fake attack on them in the Straits of Hormuz.

Look, is it high school? Yeah. Are we playing high school with, you know, 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah, we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran. [7]

The prospect of an October surprise has already factored into the 2008 campaign, including warnings of another al-Qaeda terrorist attack both from U.S. intelligence sources and allegedly from al Qaeda itself. [8] An alternative press article on October 24 expresses its alarm as follows:

The chatter surrounding the probable entrance of Bin laden or Al-Qaeda to impact the election is widespread…. The fact that the media is hyping the inevitability of an “October surprise” should be a cause for concern, especially when allied to reports of police departments across the country ‘preparing for possible civil unrest and riots’ [during the election]. [9]

The term “October surprise” stems from the 1980 election campaign between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter to refer to last-minute sensations with the potential to reshape a Presidential race. Such a sensation occurred in the last Presidential campaign in 2004. Going into the final weekend of the campaign, Democratic candidate John Kerry had a good chance of winning. Then an alleged Osama bin Laden videotape was issued: Bush went on to beat Kerry and both men attributed the result to the influence of the tape.

In adding my voice to the widespread speculation about the spate of warnings of coming crises, I again proffer the hypothesis of a staged terrorist attack as an imminent October surprise going into the final weekend of the current campaign. In Part II of this work, forthcoming shortly at my blogs and YouTube channel, I will offer specific arguments for my choice of Chicago as a likely location for this new 9/11.
NOTES

1. Jennifer Loven, “Obama brushes aside GOP criticism of his tax plans,” Yahoo! News, October 21, 2008: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081022/ap_on_el_pr/obama

2. Alex Johnson, “Powell endorses Obama for President, “ msnbc.com, October 19, 20008

3. CNN, October 22, 2008. Cf. “Albright Agrees with Biden: Terrorists Will Test Obama,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD_EAe1N9-M

4. Staff Writers, “McCain raises specter of nuclear war,” Moon Township, Pennsylvania (AFP), Oct 22, 2008

5. Kurt Nimmo, “ACLU Files FOIA On Brigade Deployed in U.S.,” Infowars, October 22, 2008 www.infowars.com

6. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Company, New York, 2007; Judith H. Young, Ph.D., “Deconstructing the Power of the Global Elite: Brute Force, the Power to Hurt, and Psychological Control,” Global Research, October 9, 2008 http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10493

7. Faiz Shakir, “EXCLUSIVE: To Provoke War, Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians And Shoot At Them,” Think Progress, July 31, 2008 http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/31/cheney-proposal-for-iran-war/

8. Eli Lake, “Spies Warn That Al Qaeda Aims for October Surprise,” The New York Sun, September 22, 2008; “Al-Qaida Threatens 'October Surprise' Attack,” Newsmax.com, September 22, 2008; “In video, al-Qaeda vows more US attacks,” 9/19/08, CNN.com/world; “Terrorist advocate endorses McCain: An al-Qaeda supporter has called for a pre-election attack in the US to help Republican candidate John McCain win the presidency,” Press TV, October 22, 2008; William Bratton & R.P. Eddy, “Osama Bin Laden wants a vote, so beware a late October surprise,” New York Daily News, Opinions, 10/21/08

9. Paul Joseph Watson, “Clarke: Bin Laden to Influence U.S. Election,” Prison Planet, October 24, 2008. infowars.com

Paul Rigby
10-30-2008, 07:54 PM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10689

"October Surprise": Preparing for "Something Unexpected”?

by Dr. Judith H. Young

Global Research, October 26, 2008

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10749

The Elections and the Responsibility of the Intellectual to Speak Truth to Power: Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama and Support Nader/McKinney

by Prof. James Petras

Global Research, October 30, 2008


The presidential elections in the US, once again, provide an acid test of the integrity and consequential conduct of US intellectuals. If it is the duty and responsibility of the public intellectual to speak truth to power, the recent statements of most of our well-known and prestigious public pundits have failed miserably. Instead of highlighting, exposing and denouncing the reactionary foreign and domestic policies of Democratic Party candidate Senator Barack Obama, they have chosen to support him, ‘critically, offering as excuses that even ‘limited differences’ can result in positive outcomes,and that ‘Obama is the lesser evil’ and ‘creates an opportunity for a possibility of change.’

What makes these arguments untenable is the fact that Obama’s public pronouncements, his top policy advisers, and the likely policymakers in his government have openly defined a most bellicose foreign policy and a profoundly reactionary domestic economic policy totally in line with Paulson-Bush-Wall Street. On the major issues of war, peace, the economic crisis and the savaging of the US wage and salaried class, Obama promises to extend and deepen the policies which the majority of Americans reject and repudiate.

Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama

1. Obama publicly and repeatedly promises to escalate the US military intervention in Afghanistan, increasing the number of US troops, expanding their operations and engaging in systematic cross-border attacks. In other words, Obama is a greater warmonger than Bush.

2. Obama publicly has declared that his regime will extend the ‘war against terrorism’ by systematic, large-scale ground and air attacks on Pakistan, thus escalating the war to include villages, towns and cities deemed sympathetic to the Afghan resistance.

3. Obama opposes the withdrawal of US troops in Iraq in favor of redeployment; the relocation of US troops from combat zones to training and logistical positions, contingent on the military capability of the Iraqi Army to defeat the resistance. Obama opposes a clearly defined deadline to withdraw US forces from Iraq because US troops in Iraq are essential to pursuing his overall policies in the Middle East, which include military confrontations with Iran, Syria and Southern Lebanon.

4. Obama has declared his unconditional support for the position of the pro-Israel Lobby and the colonial expansionist and bellicose policies of the Jewish state. He has promised to back Israeli military attacks whatever the cost to the US. His abject servility to Israel was evident in his speech at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington 2008. Top advisers who have long and notorious links to the top echelons of the principle Zionist propaganda mills and the Presidents of the Leading Jewish American Organizations wrote the speech and formulate his Middle East policy.

5. Obama has promised to attack Iran if it continues to process uranium for its nuclear programs. Twice, just weeks before the elections, Obama’s running mate Joseph Biden spelled out a series of ‘points of conflict’ (including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and North Korea) emphasizing that Obama ‘would respond forcefully’. Obama’s senior Middle East advisers include leading Zionists like Dennis Ross, closely linked to the ‘Bipartisan Policy Center’, which published a report serving as a blueprint for war with Iran. Obama’s proposed offer to negotiate with Iran is little more than a pretext for issuing an ultimatum to Iran to surrender its sovereignty or face massive military assault.

6. Obama unconditionally supports Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians and the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the leading cause of Middle East hostility, warfare and the discredit of US policy in the region. With three dozen Israel-Firsters among his leading campaign organizers, top policy advisers, speech writers and among the likely candidates for cabinet positions, there is virtually no hope of ‘influencing from within’ or ‘applying popular pressure’ to change Obama’s slavish submission to the Zionist Power Configuration. By supporting Obama, the “progressive intellectuals” are, in effect, allies of his Zionist mentors.

7. On the domestic front, Obama’s key economic advisers have impeccable Wall Street credentials. He gave unquestioning and immediate endorsement to Treasury Secretary Paulson’s $700 billion dollar taxpayer bailout of the richest investment banks in the US. Obama has failed to challenge Paulson or the banks over the use of Federal funds for buyouts and acquisitions instead of loans and credit to producers and homeowners. Obama’s backing of Paulson and the Wall Street bailout is matched by his meager proposals to suspend mortgage foreclosures for a three-month period, pending re-negotiations of interest payments. Obama proposes to escalate transfers of government funds to mismanaged financial institutions and bankrupt capitalist corporations, in efforts to save failed capitalism rather than pursue any new large-scale, long-term public investment programs which will generate well-paid employment for workers.

8. Obama’s economic team has openly declared their embrace and practice of ‘free market’ ideology and opposition to any effort to engage in large-scale injections of government funds in publicly-owned productive activity and social services in the face of wide-spread private sector failure, corruption and collapse.

9. Obama embraces failed private sector health plans, run and controlled by corporate insurance companies, conservative medical and hospital associations and Big Pharma. He publicly rejects a universal national health program modeled after the successful Federal Medicare program in favor of inefficient, state-subsidized private for profit plans that are costly and beyond the means of over one third of US families.

10. Obama is and continues to be an advocate for Big Agro and its highly subsidized and profitable ethanol program, which has increased food prices for millions in the US and for hundreds of millions in the world.

11. Obama advocates continuing the criminal embargo on Cuba, hostile confrontation with Venezuela’s populist President Chavez and other Latin American reformers and the duplicitous policy of promoting protectionism at home and free market access to Latin America. His key policy advicers on Latin America propose cosmetic changes in style and diplomacy but unrelenting support for re-asserting US hegemony.

12. Obama has not proposed, nor do his free market advisers and billionaire financial backers envision, any comprehensive plan or strategy to get us out of the deepening recession. On the contrary, the course of piecemeal measures presented by Obama are internally inconsistent: Fiscal austerity is incompatible with job creation; bailing out Wall Street drains funds from productive investment; and pursuing new wars undermine domestic recovery.

CONCLUSION

The intellectuals who, in the name of ‘realism’, support a politician who publicly and openly embraces new wars, billionaire bailouts and for profit, private sector-run health programs are repudiating their own claims as ‘responsible critics’. They are what C. Wright Mills called ‘crackpot realists’, abdicating their responsibility as critical intellectuals. In purporting to support the ‘lesser evil’ they are promoting the ‘greater evil’: The continuation of four more years of deepening recession, colonial wars and popular alienation. Moreover, they are allies of the mass media, major parties and the legal system which has marginalized or outright excluded the alternative candidates, Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney, who do speak out and oppose the war, the pro-Wall Street bailouts and propose genuine large-scale public investment in the domestic economy, a universal single payer health program, sustainable and pro-environment economic policies and large-scale, long-term income redistributive policies.

What is crass and unacceptable is the argument of these intellectuals, (an insignificant pimple on the Democratic donkey’s rear-end) that for a single moment believe that their ‘critical support’ of the Obama political machine will open space for radical ideas. The Zionists and civilian militarists totally control Obama’s war policy in the Middle East: There will be no space for peace with Iran, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq. Wall Street controls the Obama’s financial policy: There will be no space for some Cambridge progressive to sneak in a handout for families losing their homes.

If multi-million trade union treasuries have spent a hundred million dollars on each presidential campaign have failed to secure a single piece of progressive legislation in over 50 years, isn’t it delusional for our progressive ‘public intellectuals’ to imagine that they, in their splendid organizational isolation, can ‘pressure’ President Obama to renounce his advisers, backers and public defense of military escalation, to see his way to peace with Iran and to promote social justice for our workers and unemployed?

Paul Rigby
10-30-2008, 08:41 PM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10692

What “incredibly tough” foreign policy actions is Obama preparing?

by Patrick Martin

Global Research, October 25, 2008
wsws.org - 2008-10-22

On the need for a unifying action:

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10758

VIDEO: FOX NEWS: " We Need Another 9/11"

Columnist Stu Bykofsky: We need another 9/11

Broadcast on Fox News (August 2007), columnist Stu Bykofsky claims that America needs a new 9/11 to unite the American people, because they have "forgotten" who the enemy is.

He also claims that "there will be another 9/11", and Fox News Anchorman concurs:

"Does this columnist have a valid point?"

"its going to take a lot of dead people to wake people up."

"Another attack on America is inevitable"

Paul Rigby
10-30-2008, 08:57 PM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10749

The Elections and the Responsibility of the Intellectual to Speak Truth to Power: Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama and Support Nader/McKinney

by Prof. James Petras

Global Research, October 30, 2008

http://www.counterpunch.org/frank10302008.html

October 30, 2008

What Happens After Election Day?

Memo to Progressives for Obama

By Joshua Frank


Unless John McCain has a bombshell of a scandal to drop on Barack Obama at the 11th hour, this election is beginning to look like it's in the bag for the Democrats. The Republicans will finally be kicked out of the White House and peace and calm will slowly return to Washington.

At least that's the message reverberating across the progressive landscape these days. One can almost hear a collective sigh of relief. Darth Cheney will be gone. Karl Rove will be forced to recoil, and President Bush can retire in ignorant bliss to his ranch in Crawford.

Ahhhh…

It is certainly comforting to believe the stars have aligned and progressive values are about to flood the Beltway. Barack Obama has campaigned on "Hope" and "Change" and we all but believe the guy is actually going to deliver on his varied promises.

But believing is what's caused so many to fall victim to Obama fever. You know the signs: they send you emails from MoveOn.org (claiming you're to blame for Obama's fictional loss) and hope-filled rants from Norman Solomon. They talk about Obama as if he's the next messiah, their wardrobe consists of more than two Obama shirts that they'll wear every day leading up to the election. They have a "Change" sign in their window and one in their front yard. It's as if they've become more or less Obama-zombies, just in time for Halloween.

No question the Obama strategists have accomplished what they set out to do. Just look at all they've achieved thus far: antiwar activists have exchanged their slogans for pro-Obama refrains despite the fact that their candidate inflates the alleged threat of Iran, wants to put more troops in Afghanistan and won't pull out of Iraq anytime soon.

Environmentalists have come out for Obama in large numbers, even though he thinks coal can be clean and nuclear energy can be safe. No big deal that he wants to drill baby drill off our coastal shores. At least the guy believes in global warming.

Or take the civil rights champions who have few qualms about his rabid support for FISA and the PATRIOT Act or social justice activists who aren't overly concerned that Obama condones the execution of convicts who have never murdered. Economic progressives, who would be the first to say the economic I.V. pumped into the Wall Street bloodline was hastily passed and rips off tax-payers, are the first to defend Obama's economic platform. No matter he supported the bailout without reservation. No matter his team of economic hit men includes a whole slew of Clintonite neoliberals like Robert Rubin. Obama is still their guy.

All of this wouldn't bother me much if it weren't for the overt hypocrisy so many progressives, and a few radicals, are exhibiting with their blind support for Obama. It's one thing to embrace pragmatic voting and lesser-evilism on the grounds that we don't really live in a true democracy. It's quite another to be excited about the prospect of electing a man who doesn't stand for the issues you do, and is in fact campaigning against them.

What will happen if Obama wins the electorate? Progressive Group Number One seems to believe he'll magically move left once inaugurated and is only running to the right in order to win the election. That position is a non sequitur and not worthy of real discussion as it's based on wishful thinking.

Progressive Group Number Two knows Obama is pretty damn conservative but is planning on voting "strategically," arguing that change comes in baby steps, yet they assure us they'll apply pressure once Obama's elected to get the little toddler strolling. A friend, who happens to be a professor at a large university, recently told me that he plans on coercing Obama by pressuring elected members of congress. He'll be "making a stink" and "scene," he assured me.

What a relief.

"The forces arrayed against far-reaching progressive change are massive and unrelenting. If an Obama victory is declared next week, those forces will be regrouping in front of our eyes -- with right-wing elements looking for backup from corporate and pro-war Democrats," Norman Solomon recently wrote in an article advising progressives to vote against their interests. "How much leverage these forces exercise on an Obama presidency would heavily depend on the extent to which progressives are willing and able to put up a fight."

Does Solomon even understand what it means to "put up a fight"? And what's with the notion that progressives will "apply pressure" once Obama wins? They have no cash and he's already going to receive most of their votes. What are they going to do to pressure him, poke him in his ribs? Cause a stink by farting through the halls of Congress? Obama may actually listen to us if he thought progressives were considering to vote for a guy like Ralph Nader, which is the point Nader seems to be making by campaigning in swing states this week. Nader knows how to put up a real fight, one not mired in hypotheticals and fear-mongering, so he's pressuring Obama where it matters most.

Of course, such a direct confrontation to Obama's backward policies ruffles the slacks of many devout liberals. But that is the point. Progressives are not flush with cash and as we all should know, flashing the almighty buck is usually the best way to grab a politician's attention. But the only thing we have at our immediate disposal now is votes. These crooks need us to get elected. Obama already has the majority of left-wing support shored up despite his resistance to embrace our concerns. Imagine if he had to earn our votes instead of receiving our support without having to do a thing for it?

So let's prepare for what's ahead. Obama may win next Tuesday, but what will happen to the movements that have been sidelined in order to help get the Democrats elected? What will become of the environmental movement after January 20? Will it step up to oppose Obama's quest for nuclear power and clean coal? Will the antiwar movement work to force Obama to take a softer approach toward Iran? Will they stop the troop increase in Afghanistan?

These are but a few of the questions I'd like progressive supporters of Obama to answer. I've yet to hear exactly how they will pressure an Obama administration. In fact, I don't think they will. George W. Bush will be gone and that will be enough for most. Progressives faced a similar confrontation in 1992 when Bill Clinton took office, but without much of a fight we saw neoliberalism take hold in the form of NAFTA and we endured the Telecommunications Act, Welfare Reform, a forest plan written by the logging industry, the dismantling of Glass-Steagall, the Iraq Liberation Act, and much much more.

What makes the Democrats believe that they even deserve our support now? President Bush has indeed been bad, but his most egregious policies were upheld and supported by the majority of Democrats. They gave Bush the green light to whack Saddam while they controlled the Senate. They supported the PATRIOT Act (Obama voted for its reconfirmation), the War on Terror, Bush's increased Pentagon budget, a no-strings Wall Street bailout and two awful Supreme Court confirmations. You may also remember that two years ago we ushered Democrats back into office with the belief that they might actually fight Bush on Iraq. Instead we've had nothing but complicity, with Democrats time and again supporting increased war funds.

I hope I'm not alone in saying that we deserve more than lofty rhetoric about "action" and "hope." We deserve a program for real progressive change -- the kind Democrats and Barack Obama will not bring as long as we give them our unconditional support.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the brand new book Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press in July 2008. He can be reached at: brickburner@gmail.com

Peter Lemkin
10-30-2008, 09:12 PM
Paul, you've made abundantly clear, that we Americans only have a Hobson's choice for President. There is a difference - but not a significant one on many [all too many] important matters. It is depressing in the extreme, and only a real angry awaking of the sleeping and mind-contolled public will begin to reverse the tide.....as things are now going, we are going to be 'washed away' - and take much of the rest of the Planet down with us. We must have some hope and do what we can. I have some flicker of hope the financial collapse might awaken some - lets hope it is not too late.

Paul Rigby
10-30-2008, 10:04 PM
Paul, you've made abundantly clear, that we Americans only have a Hobson's choice for President. There is a difference - but not a significant one on many [all too many] important matters. It is depressing in the extreme, and only a real angry awaking of the sleeping and mind-contolled public will begin to reverse the tide.....as things are now going, we are going to be 'washed away' - and take much of the rest of the Planet down with us. We must have some hope and do what we can. I have some flicker of hope the financial collapse might awaken some - lets hope it is not too late.

Sorry to seem so gloom-laden, Pete, but I'm afraid I can't find many grounds for buying into Obamamania. Would that I could. The outstanding Chris Floyd today offered a characteristically excellent meditation on the subject, through the medium of Anglo-American support for the death squads of Columbia:

http://www.chris-floyd.com/

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Incentivizing Murder: Plan Colombia and the Bitter Fruits of Empire

By Chris Floyd


The War on Drugs meets the War on Terror, and the result, inevitably, is stone-cold murder: Colombia Killings Cast Doubt on War Against Insurgents (NYT):


Colombia’s government, the Bush administration’s top ally in Latin America, has been buffeted by the disappearance of ...dozens of young, impoverished men and women whose cases have come to light in recent weeks. Some were vagrants, others street vendors and manual laborers. But their fates were often the same: being catalogued as insurgents or criminal gang members and killed by the armed forces.

Prosecutors and human rights researchers are investigating hundreds of such deaths and disappearances, contending that Colombia’s security forces are increasingly murdering civilians and making it look as if they were killed in combat, often by planting weapons by the bodies or dressing the corpses in guerrilla fatigues.

With soldiers under intense pressure in recent years to register combat kills to earn promotions and benefits like time off and extra pay, reports of civilian killings are climbing, prosecutors and researchers say, pointing to a grisly facet of Colombia’s long internal war against leftist insurgencies.

The wave of recent killings has also heightened focus on the American Embassy here, which is responsible for vetting Colombian military units for human rights abuses before they can receive aid. A study of civilian killings by Amnesty International and Fellowship of Reconciliation, two human rights groups, found that 47 percent of the reported cases in 2007 involved Colombian units financed by the United States.


....Even before the most recent disappearances and killings, prosecutors and human rights groups were examining a steady increase in the reports of civilian killings since 2002, when commanders intensified a counterinsurgency financed in no small part by more than $500 million a year in American security aid.

But more than 100 claims of civilian deaths at the hands of security forces have emerged in recent weeks alone, from nine different parts of Colombia. Cases have included the killing of a homeless man, a young man who suffered epileptic seizures and a veteran who had left the army after his left arm was amputated.

This is the imposthume of much greed and graft, and of the geopolitical power games played by the bipartisan elite in Washington. Any half-sentient person has known for years that the Clinton-Bush policy of lavishing endless cash and weaponry on the right-wing death squads in Colombia -- those in uniform and out -- has incentivized the murder of countless innocent civilians. Anyone who has opposed the Colombian elite, or stood up for the poor and the working people -- even if they have nothing to do with FARC or the narco freebooters, even if, indeed, they have also opposed their depredations also -- has long been at risk of sudden "disappearance" or gruesome death; the serial execution of union organizers, going back for many years, is just one example.


“We are witnessing a method of social cleansing in which rogue military units operate beyond the law,” said Monica Sánchez, a lawyer at the Judicial Freedom Corporation, a human rights group in Medellín. The group says it has documented more than 60 “false positives” — the chilling term for cases of civilians who are killed and then presented as guerrillas, with weapons or fatigues — in the department, or province, of Antioquia...

The civilian killings have increasingly opened the United States to criticism because it is required to make sure Colombian military units have not engaged in human rights violations before supplying them with aid.

“If we are receiving aid and vetting from a government in Washington that validates torture, then what kind of results can one expect?” asked Liliana Uribe, a human rights lawyer in Medellín who represents victims’ families.

"A government in Washington that validates torture" -- this is the crux of the matter. A government -- or rather, an entire political elite -- that validates torture, wars of aggression, cross-border "incursions," "black ops," a military empire of more than 700 bases all over the planet, and the slaughter of more than one million innocent lives on just one front of the "Terror War" alone, will indeed produce results like the ones we see in Colombia. It is inevitable, unavoidable -- it is precisely what the system is designed to do: put the power of life and death into the hands of brutal elites, who will in turn kowtow to Washington's political, financial, military, and ideological agendas.

The Republicans do this without the slightest qualm, proudly (as we noted here earlier), frankly, without any finesse and very little pretense. The Democrats wring their hands a bit over the "excesses" and "aberrations" of the system, and employ more nuanced justifications, more rhetorical gilding. But both parties are in full agreement on the need to maintain -- and expand -- this massive militarist empire.

II.
And yes, it will continue under Obama. And no, the American empire is not about to collapse any time soon, despite the economic catastrophe and the murderous botching of the Iraq and Afghanistan operations. As Princeton historian Arno Mayer notes this week in CounterPunch:


The United States may emerge from the Iraq fiasco almost unscathed. Though momentarily disconcerted, the American empire will continue on its way, under bipartisan direction and mega-corporate pressure, and with evangelical blessings. It is a defining characteristic of mature imperial states that they can afford costly blunders, paid for not by the elites but the lower orders. Predictions of the American empire's imminent decline are exaggerated: without a real military rival, it will continue for some time as the world's sole hyperpower.

But though they endure, overextended empires suffer injuries to their power and prestige. In such moments they tend to lash out, to avoid being taken for paper tigers. Given Washington's predicament in Iraq, will the US escalate its intervention in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia or Venezuela? The US has the strongest army the world has ever known. Preponderant on sea, in the air and in space (including cyberspace), the US has an awesome capacity to project its power over enormous distances with speed, a self-appointed sheriff rushing to master or exploit real and putative crises anywhere on earth.

The US spends more than 20% of its annual budget on defense, nearly half of the spending of the rest of the world put together. It's good for the big US corporate arms manufacturers and their export sales. The Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, purchase billions of dollars of state-of-the-art ordnance.

Underscoring that point, Jeff Huber notes at Military.com:


Iran's defense budget is less than one percent the size of ours. North Korea's entire gross domestic product is less than ten percent of our defense budget... Russia and China each spend ten percent or less on defense than we do. The Russians already lost the part they sit with trying to run with us in an arms race. The Chinese had sufficient ancient wisdom to learn from Russia's mistake rather than make it themselves. They're both so far behind now they'd never catch up, and they know it. They won't bleed themselves white economically trying to do the impossible.

We spend more money on defense than the rest of the world combined. We don't need a larger military. We don't need the one we have now. We don't need half of it.

But both McCain and Obama have pledged themselves to a massive enlargement of the American war machine. And they will still have vast resources to draw upon as they advance the cause of empire, as Arno notes:


The US economy, syncretic culture and Big Science are unequalled. Despite huge fiscal and trade deficits, and the Wall Street banking and insurance meltdown, which have unhinged its financial system and rippled across the global economy, overall the US economy remains robust and pacesetting in creative destruction. Never mind the social costs at home and abroad. But its shrinking industrial and manufacturing sectors may be the weakest link.

The US still holds a substantial lead in research, development and patents in cybernetics, molecular biology and neuroscience. This is facilitated by publicly, privately and corporately funded research universities and laboratories that establish outposts overseas as they draw in brains from around the globe...

The empire has extraordinary reserves of hard and soft power for persisting in its interventionism. The US has the wherewithal and will to stay a face-saving course in Iraq. There is a deficit of combat troops for large conventional ground operations and a strategic incoherence in the face of irregular warfare against insurgent, guerrilla and terrorist forces. But the deficit of soldiers will be remedied. Private contractors will raise armed and civilian mercenaries, preferably at cut-rate wages from third world dependencies.

Again, the point is not whether ordinary American citizens will thrive under such a system. For the most part, they will not. But their prosperity and security do not figure into the imperial power equations. They are irrelevant. (Although that's not to say that unruly temper in the herd must not be allayed from time to time, occasionally by genuine reforms that head off popular discontent, or, very often, by promises, feints, fine rhetoric and symbolic gestures evoking hope for change.)

And the sad fact is, once a nation gets a taste for empire, many of its people become emotionally invested in it (not to mention financially invested). As Arno puts it:

This American empire has significant family resemblances with past empires in its grab for critical natural resources, mass markets and strategic outposts. Americans know they have a considerable stake in the persistence of their imperium. Some social strata benefit more from its spoils than others. Still, it is profitable socially, culturally and psychologically, especially for its intelligentsia, liberal professions and media.

III.
The murder-for-bonuses scheme carried out by many American-trained and American-funded units in Colombia is just one more bitter fruit of the imperial tree. It was spawned by both the "War on Terror" and its twin in corruption, militarism, lawlessness and vast, needless suffering, the "War on Drugs," launched almost 40 years ago, and still going strong -- albeit without the slightest discernible effect on the level of drug use. As I noted in a column in the Moscow Times -- back in December 2001:


After all, as [the Bush Administration] tells us, the "war on terrorism" is just like "the war on drugs" – that is to say, a never-ending fount of profitable corruption for the ruthless, the murderous and the well-connected.

Certainly, the "war on drugs" makes little sense otherwise. We all know that if the ingestion of various arbitrarily chosen substances were no longer prosecuted, the level of violence, crime and repression in society would be reduced immeasurably. "Substance abuse" would then become what it is now for drugs like alcohol and nicotine: a matter of personal character and private consequence.

Crack addicts, for example, could have their nightly pipe in the safety of their own home, for the same price as a six-pack of beer, a carton of cigarettes or the latest Disney video. They wouldn't need to resort to crime to feed an expensive criminalized habit. And their resulting stupefaction would be no more harmful to the public good than that of millions of their fellow citizens sitting slack-jawed in front of the tube.

But decriminalization will never happen. Illegal drugs are simply too profitable for the various powerful criminal elements known as "mafias," "warlords" – and "intelligence agencies." For drug-running is the perfect way to fund your black ops – no budget restraints, no legal niceties, no pesky legislators looking over your shoulder....

Let's connect the dots. Drugs help stoke war. Defense firms sell the weapons of war – to governments, warlords, terrorists, whoever will pay. The investors and owners of defense firms – like, say, the Bush family and the bin Ladens [at that time recent partners in the Carlyle Group] – are directly enriched by war. And so the wars go on.

And they will keep going on, even if the bright sun of "pragmatic progressivism" rises on Inauguration Day 2009. Obama has rightly cited the murder of Colombian union activists as a cause for concern, even bringing it before a national television audience in the last debate. But again, this is a matter of nuance, of technocratic tinkering within the framework of the bipartisan consensus for empire. Obama has also supported the Colombian government in its Bush-style cross-border military incursions to "fight terrorism," and back the expansion of the "Merida Initiative," a Bush-created scheme that would essentially expand "Plan Colombia" -- with the "results" detailed in the New York Times story -- throughout Latin America, as the Council on Hemispheric Affairs reports:


Obama supports the extension of the Merida Initiative to create a more comprehensive regional security bloc within the Western Hemisphere. The Merida Initiative was proposed by President Bush as the keystone of his U.S.-Central America security plan, and is focused on the provision of military and police aid to Mexico (with much smaller amounts to Central American countries) to fight organized crime and drug cartels. It is a complete truism that the military and legal structures in Mexico and Central America have suffered from a history of corruption and human rights abuses, and critics of current U.S. policy argue that increasing military aid to the region only increases the capacity of local authorities to abuse power of an already deeply flawed law enforcement system. The Merida Initiative is in many ways similar to Plan Colombia, which provides military and police aid to fight narcotrafficking and organized crime there...

The Council goes on to note:


While the complete nature of Obama’s Latin American platform remains to be seen, there is no doubt that Obama’s stance on hemispheric affairs will differ from that of the Bush White House, but not so much from Clinton’s regional policy which was barely discernable from Reagan-era area policy.

That is a chilling conclusion indeed from this very mainstream, centrist organization, when one considers the murderous abomination that was "Reagan-era area policy" in Latin America. As I noted in the Moscow Times in June 2004:

Reagan willingly abetted the murder of countless thousands of innocent people throughout Central America, killed at the hands of U.S.-trained death squads and military units -- more than 200,000 civilians murdered in Guatemala alone, Consortiumnews.com reports. Many more were tortured and raped by U.S. proxies -- all this with the connivance of Reagan officials, who lied to Congress about the atrocities. One of these liars, Elliot Abrams, was convicted of perjury; but pardoned by George Bush I, he now directs Middle East policy for George Bush II. (For more, see Robert Parry's "Reagan and Guatemala's Death Files" and his "Reagan's Bogus Legacy.")

I don't believe this is the kind of "change" that most Americans are hoping for from an Obama administration. To be sure, Obama has talked about building his Latin American policies around the strengthening of civic structures, protection of human rights and nurturing the rule of law. These are good words; but then again, what American president has not claimed that his policies were designed to advance these noble pursuits? At the moment, Obama seems poised to take away with his right hand what he proffers with his left: bold words on human rights, but at the same time an extension of the murder-producing, elite-coddling "Plan Colombia" throughout the region.

We've said this many times before: within the American militarist empire as it now stands, there are spaces where factional differences among the elite can produce mitigations of the system's malign effects in various ways for a substantial number of people. This is not nothing, especially if you are one of those people. I don't believe in begrudging anyone's desire for relief, however partial and imperfect that relief might be. At the same time, it is clear that Obama fully accepts the logic, the structure and the overall agenda of the imperial system -- a system which inevitably, irresistibly generates atrocities on a mass scale.

Once you accept that -- and not only accept it, but even fight hard to take control of it, to make it yours -- then what won't you do? And how quickly and easily will you cast aside your mitigations if the needs of the system demand it? If you pick up a scepter still dripping with fresh blood, and wield it, will your hand not "incarnadine the multitudinous seas, making the green one red?"

Paul Rigby
10-31-2008, 06:41 AM
On the need for a unifying action:

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10758

VIDEO: FOX NEWS: " We Need Another 9/11"

Columnist Stu Bykofsky: We need another 9/11

Broadcast on Fox News (August 2007), columnist Stu Bykofsky claims that America needs a new 9/11 to unite the American people, because they have "forgotten" who the enemy is.

He also claims that "there will be another 9/11", and Fox News Anchorman concurs:

"Does this columnist have a valid point?"

"its going to take a lot of dead people to wake people up."

"Another attack on America is inevitable"

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10767

"A Second 9/11": An Integral Part of US Military Doctrine

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, October 31, 2008


For several years now, senior officials of the Bush administration including the President and the Vice President have intimated, in no certain terms, that there will be "a Second 9/11".

Quotations from presidential speeches and official documents abound. America is threatened:

"The near-term attacks ... will either rival or exceed the 9/11 attacks... And it's pretty clear that the nation's capital and New York city would be on any list..." (Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, December 2003)

"You ask, 'Is it serious?' Yes, you bet your life. People don't do that unless it's a serious situation." (Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, December 2003)

"... Credible reporting indicates that Al Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States in an effort to disrupt our democratic process... (Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, 8 July 2004)

"The enemy that struck on 9/11 is weakened and fractured yet it is still lethal and planning to hit us again." (Vice President Dick Cheney, 7 January 2006)

"We are still a nation at risk. Part of our strategy, of course, is to stay on the offense against terrorists who would do us harm. In other words, it is important to defeat them overseas so we never have to face them here. Nevertheless, we recognize that we've got to be fully prepared here at the homeland." (President George W. Bush February 8, 2006)

"Our main enemy is al Qaeda and its affiliates. Their allies choose their victims indiscriminately. They murder the innocent to advance a focused and clear ideology. They seek to establish a radical Islamic caliphate, so they can impose a brutal new order on unwilling people, much as Nazis and communists sought to do in the last century. This enemy will accept no compromise with the civilized world.... (President George W. Bush, CENTCOM Coalition Conference, May 1, 2007)

"[W]e now have capabilities in science and technology that raise the very realistic possibility that a small group of terrorists could kill not only thousands of people, as they did on September 11th, but hundreds of thousands of people. And that has changed the dimension of the threat we face." (Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary, Yale University, April 7, 2008.

We're fighting a war on terror because the enemy attacked us first, and hit us hard. ... Al Qaeda's leadership has said they have the right to "kill four million Americans,... For nearly six years now, the United States has been able to defeat their attempts to attack us here at home. Nobody can guarantee that we won't be hit again. ... (Vice President Dick Cheney, United States Military Academy Commencement, West Point, New York, May 26, 2008)

All these authoritative statements point in chorus in the same direction: The enemy will strike again!

"Second 9/11": Historical Background

The presumption of a Second 9/11 has become an integral part of US military doctrine. America is under attack. The US military must respond preemptively.

In the immediate wake of the invasion of Iraq (April 2003), various national security measures were put in place focusing explicitly on the eventuality of a second attack on America. In fact these procedures were launched simultaneously with the first stage of war plans directed against Iran in May 2003 under Operation Theater Iran Near Term (TIRANNT). (See Michel Chossudovsky, "Theater Iran Near Term" (TIRANNT), Global Research, February 21, 2007).

The Role of a "Massive Casualty Producing Event"

Former CENTCOM Commander, General Tommy Franks, in an magazine interview in December 2003, had outlined a scenario of what he described as "a massive casualty producing event" on American soil [a Second 9/11. Implied in General Franks statement was the notion and belief that civilian deaths were necessary to raise awareness and muster public support for the "global war on terrorism":

"[A] terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world - it may be in the United States of America - that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event." (General Tommy Franks Interview, Cigar Aficionado, December 2003)

Franks was obliquely alluding to a "Second 9/11" terrorist attack, which could be used to galvanize US public opinion in support of martial law.

General Tommy Franks

The "terrorist massive casualty-producing event" was presented by General Franks as a crucial political turning point. The resulting crisis and social turmoil resulting from the civilian casualties would facilitate a major shift in US political, social and institutional structures, leading to the suspension of constitutional government. (See Michel Chossudovsky, Bush Directive for a "Catastrophic Emergency" in America: Building a Justification for Waging War on Iran? Global Research, June 24, 2007)

Operation Northwoods

The concept of "massive casualty producing event" is part of military planning. In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had envisaged a secret plan entitled "Operation Northwoods", to deliberately trigger civilian casualties among the Cuban community in Miami (i.e. "staging the assassination of Cuban living in the US") to justify an invasion of Cuba:

"We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," "We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington" "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation." (See the declassified Top Secret 1962 document titled "Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba" (See Operation Northwoods at http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NOR111A.html).

Operation Northwoods was submitted to President Kennedy. The project was not carried out.

Military Doctrine

General Franks was not giving a personal opinion regarding the role of civilian deaths. He was describing a central feature of a covert military-inteligence operation going back to Operation Northwoods.

The triggering of civilian deaths in the Homeland is used as an instrument of war propaganda. The objective is to turn realities upside down. The agressor nation is being attacked. the USA is a victim of war by the State sponsors of Islamic terrorism, when in reality it is the perpetrator of a large scale theater war in the Middle East.

The entire "Global War on Terrorism" construct is consistent with the logic of Operation Northwoods: Civilian casualties in America resulting from the September 11 attacks are used as "a war pretext incident" to galvanize public support for a military intervention in Afghanstan and Iraq.

As of 2005, the presumption of a Second 9/11 had become an integral part of military planning.

Statements emanating from the White House, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security point to a growing consensus on the necessity and inevitability of a second terrorist attack on a major urban area in the US.

In the month following the July 2005 London bombings, Vice President Cheney is reported to have instructed US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) to draw up a contingency plan "to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States". The "contingency plan" uses the pretext of a "Second 9/11" to prepare for a major military operation against Iran. (Philip Giraldi, Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear War , The American Conservative, 2 August 2005)

In April 2006, the Pentagon, under the helm of Donald Rumsfeld, launched a far-reaching military plan to "fight terrorism" around the World, with a view to retaliating in the case of a second major terrorist attack on America.

The presumption of the Pentagon project was that this presumed attack on America by an outside enemy would result in the loss of American lives, which in turn would be used to justify US military actions in the Middle East war theater. The covert support of US intelligence to Islamic terrorist organizations (the outside enemy) slated to carry out the attacks, was of course not mentioned.

Various "scenarios" of a second 9/11 attack on the Homeland were envisaged. According to the Pentagon a Second attack on America, would serve an important policy objective.

The three Pentagon documents consisted of an overall "campaign plan" plus two "subordinate plans". The second "subordinate plan" explicitly focused on the possibility of a "Second 9/11" and how a second major attack on American soil might provide "an opportunity" to extend the US led war in the Middle East into new frontiers:

"[It] sets out how the military can both disrupt and respond to another major terrorist strike on the United States. It includes lengthy annexes that offer a menu of options for the military to retaliate quickly against specific terrorist groups, individuals or state sponsors depending on who is believed to be behind an attack. Another attack could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets, according to current and former defense officials familiar with the plan. (Washington Post, 23 April 2006, emphasis added)

Martial Law

Since 2003, various procedures have been adopted regarding the enactment of Martial Law in the case of a so-called "National Catastrophic Emergency".

Under martial law, the military would take over several functions of civilian government including justice and law enforcement.

Initiatives in the area of Homeland Security outlined the precise circumstances under which martial law could be declared in the case of a second 9/11.

In May 2007, a major presidential National Security Directive was issued (National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive NSPD 51/HSPD 20) which explicitly envisaged the possibility of a Second 9/11:

NSPD 51 is tailor-made to fit the premises of both the Pentagon's 2006 "Anti-terrorist Plan" as well Vice President Cheney's 2005 "Contingency Plan". (See Michel Chossudovsky, Bush Directive for a "Catastrophic Emergency" in America: Building a Justification for Waging War on Iran?, Global Research, June 24, 2007). The directive establishes procedures for "Continuity of Government" (COG) in the case of a "Catastrophic Emergency". The latter is defined in NSPD 51/HSPD 20, as

"any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."

NSPD 51 is predicated on the notion that America is under attack and that the "Catastrophic Emergency" would take the form of a terror attack on a major urban area.

"Continuity of Government," or "COG," is defined in NSPD 51 as "a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency."

More recently, in May 2008, another National Security Presidential Directive was put forth by the White House entitled Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security (NSPD 59, HSPD 24).

NSPD59 complements NSPD 51. The new directive is not limited to KSTs, which in Homeland Security jargon stands for "Known and Suspected Terrorists", it includes various categories of domestic terrorists, the presumption being that these domestic groups are working hand in glove with the Islamists.

"The ability to positively identify those individuals who may do harm to Americans and the Nation is crucial to protecting the Nation. Since September 11, 2001, agencies have made considerable progress in securing the Nation through the integration, maintenance, and sharing of information used to identify persons who may pose a threat to national security." (NSPD 59)

NSPD 59 goes far beyond the issue of biometric identification, it recommends the collection and storage of "associated biographic" information, meaning information on the private lives of US citizens, in minute detail, all of which will be "accomplished within the law" (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, "Big Brother" Presidential Directive: "Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security", Global Research, June 2008).

NSPD is explicitly directed against American citizens, who are now categorized as potential terrorists.

While "conspiracy theorists" have been accused of cogitating regarding the possibility of a Second 9/11, most of the insinuations emanate from official US sources including the White House, the Pentagon and Homeland Security.

The fact that a "massive casualty producing events" could be used as part of a US foreign policy agenda is diabolical. The official statements are grotesque.

Bipartisan Consensus in the Presidential Election Campaign: "Al Qaeda will Strike Again"

While the presidential election campaign has avoided the issue of a Second 9/11, both candidates have acknowledged the dangers of a second attack. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have underscored their resolve to protect America against Al Qaeda:

[Question: Who's the enemy?] "Al Qaeda, the Taliban, a whole host of networks that are bent on attacking America, who have a distorted ideology, who have perverted the faith of Islam, and so we have to go after them." (Barack Obama in response to Bill O'Reilly, John Gibson News, September 5, 2008

"We have dealt a serious blow to al Qaeda in recent years. But they are not defeated, and they'll strike us again if they can." (John McCain, Acceptance Speech, September 5, 2008)

Mainstream Media Report: "The Need" for a Second 9/11

While the Washington Post leaked the substance of the Pentagon's classified documents pertaining to the "opportunity" of a Second 9/11, the issue has not been the object of mainstream commentary or analysis.

It is worth noting, however, that in an August 2007 Fox News interview, "A Second 9/11" was heralded as a means to create awareness and unite Americans against the enemy.

Broadcast on Fox News, Columnist Stu Bykofsky claimed that America "needs" a new 9/11 to unite the American people, because they have "forgotten" who the enemy is. He also claimed that "there will be another 9/11", and Fox New Anchorman John Gibson concurred. Civilian casualties would contribute to uniting the country and creating awareness:

"it’s going to take a lot of dead people to wake America up" said John Gibson. [emphasis added]

While Stu Bykofsky's controversial article in the Philadelphia Daily News (August 9, 2007) was, at the time, considered as outlandish, what Bykovsky was actually saying was not very different from The Pentagon's ploy (modeled on Operation Northwoods) concerning the role of massive casualty producing events in triggering "a useful wave of indignation".
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Transcript Fox News Network

THE BIG STORY WITH JOHN GIBSON

August 7, 2007, 5PM, EST

Columnist Comes Under Fire for Saying "We Need Another 9/11 Attack"


Anchorman: John Gibson

Interview with Columnist Stu Bykofsky

John Gibson: In big security, to save America we need another 9/11. That’s what one columnist is advocating as a way to unite America. Nearly 6 years after the heinous terror attacks he says we have forgotten our enemy. He says the Iraq war has divided the US, the Republicans and Democrats are on the attack over the war, we pulled together after 9/11 but he justifies his controversial statement by saying the united front just didn’t last. And now, bloggers are outraged. Some say the journalist should be fired from his job for suggesting we, quote, “need” another attack. So is this just a means to shock or offend or does this columnist actually have a valid point? Well, he’s here now live to explain: Philadelphia Daily news columnist Stu Bykofsky. So Stu, let me... let’s just say it again. What do you say America needs at this point?

Stu Bykofsky: Well, my thesis here is that we’re terribly divided, there’s disunity in this country, and as a divided country we’re weak. When I look back over what has pulled the country together over the past few years, 9/11 united the country and it remained united and we were all on the same team for at least a year or two.

John Gibson: Stu, but do you mean to say that we are going to be attacked again, we will be united again, there’s a sort of inevitability to that or that in order to achieve this unity we actually need to suffer?

Stu Bykofsky: Uh, John, I didn’t actually call for an attack on the United States. Uh, I can see where people read it that way but I didn’t actually say it. However, another attack on the United States is inevitable. I believe that, don’t you?

John Gibson: Yes, I do, actually, and I think that it’s going to take a lot of dead people to wake America up. I think the deal, Steve, Stu, I’m sorry...

Stu Bykofsky: It’s okay.

John Gibson: ...is the word “need”. If you say, well, it’s gonna happen and it, you know, Americans are gonna die because we’ve let down our guard – one thing – but when you say we “need” an attack it... especially has riled relatives of the dead.

Stu Bykofsky: John, uh, I can understand them being upset. Are you reading from the headline or from the text of my column which I don’t have in front of me?

John Gibson: Well, that’s a good point. Did you use the word “need” in the text or was it only the headline?

Stu Bykofsky: It’s the headline.

John Gibson: So you don’t actually, you don’t endorse the word “need”?

Stu Bykofsky: Uh, no, I don’t. There was a slight difference. Other people write headlines and it’s not exactly what I was trying to say.

John Gibson: Alright, so...

Stu Bykofsky: But, but if you look at the context...

John Gibson: But, but what you are trying to say is, is that, that somehow we have been, we’ve let down our guard, we’re fighting each other instead of the terrorists and that if we don’t get it together people are going to die.

Stu Bykofsky: That’s absolutely correct. We’re fighting like a group of rabid dogs and our attention should be turned elsewhere. And I also say that the primary reason for that in my opinion is the, uh, the war in Iraq which has been conducted so horribly by the administration.

John Gibson: Stu...

Stu Bykofsky: Not by our troops.

John Gibson: Yeah, okay, I don’t want to get you in further trouble. Stu, uh, what has been the reaction? Did the newspaper switchboard light up?

Stu Bykofsky: Uh, no, we don’t have a switchboard, John. Uh, yesterday when it appeared, the reaction was moderate because I think people in Philadelphia who have been reading me for a long time maybe know what to expect. Then it got posted somewhere outside of Philadelphia and this morning when I came in uh, there were well over a thousand e-mails and more kept coming in during the day. And a lot of calls...

John Gibson: A bunch want you fired, right?

Stu Bykofsky: Pardon?

John Gibson: A bunch of those e-mails want you fired, right?

Stu Bykofsky: Uh, a number of people told me that they were calling my editor and they were going to suggest that he fire me, yes. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

John Gibson: You standing by the column?

Stu Bykofsky: Oh, absolutely.

John Gibson: Stu Bykofsky, down in Philadelphia. Stu, thanks a lot.

(transcribed from original Video)

Dawn Meredith
10-31-2008, 01:24 PM
Paul, you've made abundantly clear, that we Americans only have a Hobson's choice for President. There is a difference - but not a significant one on many [all too many] important matters. It is depressing in the extreme, and only a real angry awaking of the sleeping and mind-contolled public will begin to reverse the tide.....as things are now going, we are going to be 'washed away' - and take much of the rest of the Planet down with us. We must have some hope and do what we can. I have some flicker of hope the financial collapse might awaken some - lets hope it is not too late.

Peter and Paul:

I am almost afraid to put this in print, but one thing about Obama has given me hope for sometime: The very thing that hurt him in the primaries. His former pastor. He sat in that church for 20 years. Wright spoke the truth about what really occurs in our country. The government bringing in crack is just one example. When he said "God DAMN America" he was referring to US imperialismn, not committing blasphemy. I think Obama knows a lot. Now what he can DO is entirely different. We all know that the president is a figurehead, but that said, W and Co accomplished a lot. All bad.
Let's get past 11/4 first. Then give the man sometime to morph into the combination of "the new deal and the new frontier", which is how he is sounding. Keep in mind JFK out cold -warriored Tricky Dick in the debates. But then look at all he did, and all that he attempted before the real powers took him out.

The big problem is that these bastards will not tolerate peace. War=big profits for the true powers. It's what it has always been about.
Which is why Dalton's Trumbo's brilliant book "Johnny Got His Gun" was banned in in the US for many decades.

I too fear another false flag psy op. Badly.

Dawn

Paul Rigby
10-31-2008, 09:18 PM
Peter and Paul:

I am almost afraid to put this in print, but one thing about Obama has given me hope for sometime: The very thing that hurt him in the primaries. His former pastor. He sat in that church for 20 years. Wright spoke the truth about what really occurs in our country. The government bringing in crack is just one example. When he said "God DAMN America" he was referring to US imperialismn, not committing blasphemy. I think Obama knows a lot. Now what he can DO is entirely different. We all know that the president is a figurehead, but that said, W and Co accomplished a lot. All bad.
Let's get past 11/4 first. Then give the man sometime to morph into the combination of "the new deal and the new frontier", which is how he is sounding. Keep in mind JFK out cold -warriored Tricky Dick in the debates. But then look at all he did, and all that he attempted before the real powers took him out.

The big problem is that these bastards will not tolerate peace. War=big profits for the true powers. It's what it has always been about.
Which is why Dalton's Trumbo's brilliant book "Johnny Got His Gun" was banned in in the US for many decades.

I too fear another false flag psy op. Badly.

Dawn

I sincerely hope you're right, Dawn, and that I've entirely misread the runes.

In which case, as you rightly note, they'll likely kill him.

Paul

Jan Klimkowski
11-04-2008, 10:21 PM
For millions & millions of Americans, Obama clearly represents hope of a better, cleaner, more honest politics.

Those of us who look at his backers and advisors, and the deep history of America, are pretty cynical about this. However, in a sense, that isn't the point of this election.

Probably for the first time since Camelot, many Americans feel they have a choice between the old Establishment and youthful idealism.

This means that Obama probably won't be stopped from winning by dirty electoral tricks. "Hangings chads" Mk 3 would not be tolerated. Obama wouldn't concede like Kerry. And if he did, there would be riots.

So, imo, Obama wins. And then his supporters, dreaming of a new America, have to be reminded that his new Camelot is an unrealizable dream, and the old order is still in charge - with Blackwater boots on.

To achieve this change of mindset, to persuade optimistic voters that their dream is impossible, and that their first instinct instead must be to surrender their liberties and destroy America's "enemies", a huge emotional trauma will have to be inflicted on the American psyche.

Tragically, I think this does mean a false flag or allowed atrocity (such as a nuclear bomb) on the American mainland. Or a brand new Crossfire on national TV, with Faux News having an already printed script on who to blame.

I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

Paul Rigby
11-04-2008, 10:27 PM
So, imo, Obama wins. And then his supporters, dreaming of a new America, have to be reminded that his new Camelot is an unrealizable dream, and the old order is still in charge - with Blackwater boots on.

To achieve this change of mindset, to persuade optimistic voters that their dream is impossible, and that their first instinct instead must be to surrender their liberties and destroy America's "enemies", a huge emotional trauma will have to be inflicted on the American psyche.

Tragically, I think this does mean a false flag or allowed atrocity (such as a nuclear bomb) on the American mainland. Or a brand new Crossfire on national TV, with Faux News having an already printed script on who to blame.

I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

My favoured target of old was San Francisco, chosen to get the liberals on-side; given the new context, I wonder about a major southern city with a decentish record of integration and black success - Atlanta, perhaps?

Paul

Dawn Meredith
11-06-2008, 06:18 PM
Well one thing Obama could do that would not cost tax payers a cent is to restore the Constitution to its pre-neo con beauty. Undo all the harm W and Darth Vadar did. Wishfull thinking? Perhaps, after all he did vote wrongly on the FISA bill.
I'd love to see him repeal Patriot Acts 1 and 2.
"You may say I'm a dreamer"...
Dawn

Linda Minor
11-09-2008, 02:49 PM
...
Let's connect the dots. Drugs help stoke war. Defense firms sell the weapons of war – to governments, warlords, terrorists, whoever will pay. The investors and owners of defense firms – like, say, the Bush family and the bin Ladens [at that time recent partners in the Carlyle Group] – are directly enriched by war. And so the wars go on.


http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a73_1205376092
Bush family touched by subprime crisis
By F William Engdahl

The severity of its liquidity problems indicates that the unfolding financial crisis is taking major parts of the US financial and political elite down with it. Carlyle Capital Corp Ltd, a subsidiary of one of the most influential US private equity funds and closely tied to the Bush family, is in default on several of its securities. Carlyle is an offshore subsidiary of the Washington-based Carlyle Group, one of the most politically powerful private equity firms of the past two decades.

Among the leading partners of the Carlyle Group in recent years have been George H W Bush, father of President George W Bush; James Baker III, the Bush family's attorney and fixer; and former British prime minister John Major.

Carlyle Capital reports it is attempting to convince lenders holding US$16 billion in securities not to liquidate the company's remaining collateral. The company is a listed mortgage-bond fund managed by the Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group already has loaned Carlyle Capital $150 million to cover debt obligations since July 2007. In the past several days it failed to meet margin calls with four banks.

The fear in the market according to informed reports is that its entire portfolio, recently valued at $21 billion, could be sold off in a distress sale, putting major downward pressure on all mortgage bonds globally. A collapse at Carlyle would hit the value of all fixed-income securities, which have already dropped sharply as banks pull back on their lending, and force a new global round of asset sales.

Margin calls

In the past days, Carlyle Capital admitted it had received "substantial additional margin calls and additional default notices from its lenders". It said lenders are selling off securities held as collateral. Margin calls are demanded when a creditor questions the ability of the borrower to repay.

Shares in the fund, which trades on Euronext Amsterdam, have been suspended after closing down nearly 60%. Carlyle Capital was a prime example of the financial engineering encouraged during the Federal Reserve's Alan Greenspan era by Washington. It had leveraged $670 million in equity by an alarmingly high 32 times to finance a $21.7 billion portfolio of highly rated mortgage-backed securities issued by US housing mortgage agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. To finance the deals it entered into repurchase agreements with banks where it posted the mortgage securities as collateral in exchange for cash. If the value of the security held as collateral falls, the lender has the right to ask for more collateral - a margin call - to secure the loan.

If the borrower does not meet the margin call by putting up more collateral, the lender may sell the security.

More worrisome is the fact that the Carlyle crisis does not derive from so-called subprime or bad-grade mortgage debt. The company held US government agency AAA-rated residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). Now Carlyle's lenders have issued margin calls in excess of $400 million. At the onset of the subprime crisis in September 2007, Carlyle was forced to go to Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund to get capital. Mubadala, the arm of Abu Dhabi that has invested in sectors as diverse as Libyan oil exploration and Ferrari, the Italian motor company, paid $1.35 billion for a 10% Carlyle stake.

And the Blackstone Group too?

Carlyle is by no means the only elite US private capital group in serious trouble. Blackstone Group, manager of the world's largest buyout fund, said fourth-quarter profit plunged 89% after a "meltdown" in the credit markets and warned that getting loans for takeovers will be difficult in 2008. Profit declined to $88 million from $808.1 million a year earlier.

Blackstone decided to list the private equity company on the stock market in June 2007 in a move some date as the last gasp of the huge securitization and private equity buyout mania of the past decade. Since June its stock has fallen 53%. More serious, it hasn't completed a takeover of more than $2 billion in five months and is struggling to close the $6.6 billion buyout of Dallas-based Alliance Data Systems Corp, a credit-card processor, announced in May 2007.

Blackstone and Carlyle led the recent "locust capitalism" (Heuschrecke)hostile takeover binge that triggered a major political backlash in Germany and elsewhere. That debt-financed takeover binge came to a halt with the eruption of the subprime securitization crisis last autumn. Blackstone has $102 billion in assets under management at present. The value of leveraged or debt-financed buyout (LBO) deals announced in the second half of 2007 plunged two-thirds from the first six months, according to data by Bloomberg.

Crisis spreads to US municipal debt market

The ongoing financial market crisis was nominally triggered by a crisis of confidence in the value of the most risky securities, subprime home mortgages in the US, mortgages often made by banks without checking the borrowers credit history or income. Because the securitization revolution was premised on the flawed illusion that by spreading risk throughout the global financial system, risk would disappear, once the weakest part began to collapse, confidence in the multi-trillion entire edifice of securitized debt began to collapse.

The process unravels over time, which is why most have the illusion of a localized crisis. In reality, centered in the US economic and financial sector, what is now underway is a crisis not even comparable to the 1930s Great Depression.

Now the normally high-quality debt of US local and state governments, so-called municipal debt, is getting hit. California, New York City and the owner of the World Trade Center site will replace their floating rate debt, sharply raising costs for local governments as the economic depression is slashing their tax revenues.

In February, interest rate yields on US tax-exempt municipal debt rose to the highest ever relative to Treasuries. The market is reacting to deteriorating finances at bond insurance companies and credit rating companies. States, cities and agencies are pulling out of the $330 billion floating rate or auction-rate market, where costs have doubled since January, and plan to sell about $22.5 billion of fixed-rate, tax-exempt bonds to raise capital at a significant penalty price.

Bond fund managers in New York and London tell us they have never seen such troubles in the municipal bond market before.

The market for floating rate or auction-rate municipal bonds in the US, once thought safe, entered crisis as losses tied to subprime mortgage bonds and related securities threatened so-called monoline bond insurers' AAA ratings, causing investors to avoid the bonds they had insured.

The same monoline insurers, specialized New York financial security insurance companies, had insured subprime mortgage securities and municipal debt. The monoline companies guarantee about half the $2.6 trillion of outstanding state and local government debt, some $1.2 trillion. Higher interest rate costs for states and local governments will aggravate local US fiscal crises as the depression spreads, creating a self-reinforcing downward spiral. The process is in its early stages yet.

F William Engdahl is the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, Pluto Press Ltd. Further articles can be found at his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.

(Copyright 2008 F William Engdahl.)

Linda Minor
11-09-2008, 03:36 PM
Peter and Paul:
...
We all know that the president is a figurehead, but that said, W and Co accomplished a lot. All bad. ...
Dawn

Obama kept reminding voters throughout the campaign that the U.S. government was spending $10 billion per month on the war in Iraq. The first question we have to ask is where did that money come from--was it in the military budget or the black budget? The second one is where did the money go? In the old days (say, pre-WWII) military logistics was performed within the military. The quartermaster corps was in charge of managing the money and doling it out in accordance with the budget, after being furnished proper receipts, etc.

Since Vietnam, our wars have become privatized. Investment banks like Carlyle raise money outside the Constitutional framework and budgetary process--outside the taxing power of the federal government--and international corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater contract with the military powers to provide services such as transportation, housing, food, weapons ad infinitum. Nobody really knows how this system really works because the people involved in the investment banks treat the information as classified financial information.

It appears to me that the fall-out in the housing market was directly related to the continuous rise in margin calls needed to buy the securities being pumped out by Wall Street to pay for the Iraq war. Wall Street bankers and lawyers were making a killing on fees alone every time these securities were sold; but they finally ran out of buyers for the derivative hedge fund securities and could no longer afford to pay the ever-increasing interest charges. It was a gamble Bush made when he lied us into that war, led no doubt by James A. Baker III and his network, who hated Saddam for not paying debts and accrued interest dating back to the BNL (BANCA NAZIONALE DEL LAVORO) scandal when the first Bush was president.

https://www.getgrowingforbusiness.com/mynews/financial-news-details.asp?news_id=210814

http://www.reuters.com/article/hotStocksNews/idUSN0641920220080306


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of U.S. mortgage real estate investment trusts plunged on Thursday after Carlyle Capital Corp Ltd (CARC.AS), a European firm that invests in mortgage-backed securities, failed to meet margin calls and received a notice of default.

Several mortgage REITs fell more than 20 percent and were among the top percentage losers on the New York Stock Exchange.

Carlyle Capital and the mortgage REITs invest in investment-grade mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae (FNM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac saw spreads widen against U.S. government debt for a fourth straight day on Wednesday.

Carlyle Capital, a Dutch-listed affiliate of private equity firm Carlyle Group (CYL.UL), said it had received margin calls totaling more than $37 million from seven financing parties on Wednesday and was unable to meet the demands for extra collateral to cover its market positions for four of them.

"We believe this news will pressure the stock of Annaly and MFA, who run a similar business model, given increased concern about tightening repo-lending standards across banks and brokers," said UBS analyst Omatayo Okusanya II, who covers the mortgage REITs Annaly Capital Management Inc (NLY.N) and MFA Mortgage Investments MFA.N.

Okusanya said that he did not believe Annaly and MFA would receive similar margin calls because they are not as heavily leveraged as Carlyle Capital.

Analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, which on Thursday downgraded Anworth Mortgage Asset Corp (ANH.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and MFA to "market perform," also removed Capstead Mortgage Corp CMO.N and Annaly from the firm's Best Ideas List, citing lower book values due to the lower value of the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bonds for all four of the companies. The analysts also said they believed the companies would have to carry more excess capital to lower leverage.

Anworth shares of were down 24 percent to $6.72 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Capstead was down 24.8 percent to $12.26, Deerfield Capital Corp DFR.N 24.4 percent to $2.17, Annaly 15.4 percent to $16.34, and MFA was off 14.6 percent to $7.42.

In Amsterdam, Carlyle Capital fell 58.3 percent.

(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas; editing by John Wallace and Gerald E. McCormick)

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE0DA1539F934A25751C0A9639582 60

U.S. Settles Suit by Bank
Published: February 17, 1995

The Justice Department said today that it was ending its opposition to settling a civil suit brought against the Department of Agriculture by Banca Nazionale del Lavoro of Rome.

The suit was an element in the welter of actions resulting from allegations and investigations over whether the Bush Administration had secretly armed Iraq and then tried to cover up its actions after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

The Department of Agriculture announced it had settled the suit, which had been brought in the United States Court of Federal Claims, by agreeing to pay the bank $400 million. B.N.L. sued the department to recover money it had lost when Iraq defaulted on payments in August 1990, shortly before the Persian Gulf war. B.N.L. had been assigned guarantees on the loans by the department's Commodity Credit Corporation.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE0D91739F933A25752C1A9659582 60


Figure in Bank Scandal Links Bush to Iraqi Loans
By NEIL A. LEWIS,
Published: November 10, 1993

An Atlanta banker who helped to secretly funnel more than $5 billion in loans that were used to arm Iraq in the mid-1980's told a Congressional committee today that everything he did was with the knowledge of the Governments of the United States, Italy and Britain.

But the banker, Christopher P. Drogoul, quickly found himself dismissed by some members of the House Banking Committee as unable to offer any proof for his allegations. Mr. Drogoul was the manager of the Atlanta branch of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, which processed the loans.

On Sept. 2, a week before going to trial in Federal court in Atlanta, Mr. Drogoul pleaded guilty to three felony charges in connection with his role in making the loans. He is to be sentenced this month; Government prosecutors say Federal sentencing guidelines dictate a prison term of 46 to 57 months.

Mr. Drogoul is being held in the Federal penitentiary in Atlanta and was accompanied to today's hearing by United States marshals.

The Drogoul trial was to have been the principal stage to play out accusations that the Administration of President George Bush secretly armed Iraq and then sought to cover up that policy after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

But today's appearance before the Banking Committee made clear that even if that is true -- and Mr. Bush has said it is not -- Mr. Drogoul is not in a position to provide proof.

One person who should know many of the details of the Bush Administration's involvement with the bank, which is essentially an arm of the Italian Government, is Renaldo Petrignani, Italy's Ambassador to the United States from 1981 to 1991. Although Mr. Petrignani was subpoenaed to appear at today's hearing, he did not attend because he is in Italy to answer a bribery charge apparently unconnected to Banca Nazionale del Lavoro.

Mr. Petrignani has denied the charge.

At today's hearing, Mr. Drogoul described numerous conversations with officials of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro's headquarters in Rome and others that led him to believe that his loans to Iraq were part of a larger scheme approved of by the governments in Washington, Rome and London.

"Behind me, sitting on my shoulders I had three governments for all my activities," he said.

Mr. Drogoul, 44, was arrested after a Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on the bank's Atlanta office in 1989. President Bush denied that his Administration secretly armed Iraq through the bank, and the Justice Department at that time charged Mr. Drogoul with defrauding his superiors in Rome.

In essence, the Bush Administration said Mr. Drogoul was the mastermind of the scheme, a stance greeted with widespread skepticism. As a Presidential candidate, Bill Clinton said he would have the matter investigated, and in August senior officials of the Clinton Administration said they agreed with the conclusions of the Bush Administration.

Representative Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of Brooklyn, summed up much of the reaction at today's hearing when he said that he believed it was highly plausible that Mr. Drogoul acted with the knowledge or approval of his superiors who may have wanted to help Iraq.

"But you don't deliver any specifics that show that to be the case," Mr. Schumer said, adding that all Mr. Drogoul's allegations were nothing more than informed speculation.

Mr. Drogoul said the answers probably existed in government files in Rome.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/congress/1992_cr/h920325wp.htm


Gonzalez's Iraq Expose
Hill Chairman Details U.S. Prewar Courtship

[Page: H1763]

(Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks and include extraneous matter.)

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I want to call to the attention of the House the extraordinary discussion which the chairman of the House Committee on Banking, finance and Urban Affairs, the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Gonzalez], has been having about the incredible pattern of misbehavior and coverup with regard to Iraq that has been perpetrated by this administration.

Just to quote briefly from the Washington Post article on last Sunday:

Almost every Monday for the past couple of months, Representative Henry B. Gonzalez has been setting the Bush administration's teeth on edge with fiery exposes about its courtship of Iraq before the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Gonzalez's special orders are full of excruciating detail that could haunt the White House before this election year is over.

The article in its entirety is as follows:

From the Washington Post, Mar. 22, 1992

[FROM THE WASHINGTON POST, MAR. 22, 1992]

Gonzalez's Iraq Expose--Hill Chairman Details U.S. Prewar Courtship

(BY GEORGE LARDNER, JR.)

Almost every Monday for the past couple of months, Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Tex.), the feisty chairman of the House Banking Committee, has been setting the Bush administration's teeth on edge with fiery exposes about its courtship of Iraq before the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

So far, hardly anyone has been listening. Gonzalez's `special orders'--as such uninterrupted speeches are called--are delivered to a virtually empty House floor. But they are full of excruciating detail--much of it classified `'secret' and `confidential'--that could haunt the White House before this election year is over.

Gonzalez's charges are simple and direct: Senior Bush administration officials went to great lengths to continue supporting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his unreliable regime long after it was prudent to do so.

U.S. officials insisted in 1989, for instance, on playing down the importance of a scandal involving an Atlanta-based bank and more than $5 billion in unauthorized loans to Iraq, including $900 million guaranteed by the U.S. government. They even intervened in the case to prevent indictment of the Central Bank of Iraq while the Persian Gulf War was raging.

Despite stiff opposition from some officials inside the administration, senior policymakers pushed ahead with $1 billion in fresh agricultural credits for Iraq under a Commodity Credit Corp. program. They also pressed for continued Export-Import Bank financing despite congressional sanctions and kept sharing intelligence information with Baghdad until a few weeks before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Then, in the wake of the gulf war when Congress began demanding more information about the prewar conduct of U.S. policy toward Iraq, administration officials tried to hide their embarrassment under a cloak of national security and created what Gonzalez has called a `coverup mechanism' to keep investigators at bay.

Administration officials strenuously contest the accusations of impropriety and illegality, but they plainly would rather not talk about them at all. So far, they have sent only muted complaints to Capitol Hill about Gonzalez, by way of the House Republican minority, even though, House aides say, the Texas congressman has plunked more classified documents into the Congressional Record than anyone since the Vietnam War.

`We have received no formal communication from the administration on the issue,' said a spokesman for House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.).

The centerpiece of the controversy is the scandal involving the Italian government-owned Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL). It broke open on Aug. 4, 1989, when FBI agents and Federal Reserve officials, tipped off by two bank executives, raided BNL's Atlanta branch and confiscated thousands of documents. The branch had become Iraq's principal source of credit in the United States between 1984 and 1989, a period in which Iraq's eight-year-long war with Iran had turned Saddam's regime into a cash-starved and unreliable debtor.

According to interviews with knowledgeable officials, records made public by Gonzalez and documents obtained from other sources, it was soon apparent that Iraq was involved in a massive fraud to pump billions of dollars in illegal loans and credits out of BNL-Atlanta, far above the amounts reported to the Federal Reserve.

About half of the money allegedly went to finance the purchase of U.S. farm products, including $900 million guaranteed by the Agriculture Department's Commodity Credit Corp., but investigators said much of the rest had helped fuel Iraq's military buildup.

U.S. Customs Service reports dated Sept. 21, 1989, and Oct. 20, 1989, pointed out that BNL was suspected of financing shipments of industrial machinery, military-type technology and various controlled chemicals to Iraq and providing loans `to various U.S. firms for the illegal export to Iraq of missile-related technology.'

Federal prosecutors in Atlanta anticipated quick indictments. In Washington, records show, Agriculture Department officials learned in early October 1989 that the evidence indicated their $1 billion-a-year CCC program for Iraq was riddled with corruption, including kickbacks and bribes demanded by Iraqi government agencies and questionable consulting fees for Iraqi front companies in the United States.

There were also allegations, still unresolved, that food shipments destined for Iraq under the loan program never got there and may have been diverted to other countries in exchange for cash or goods. Investigators say they now believe some food may have been traded for weapons or Soviet bloc military assistance.

[Page: H1764]

MORE CREDITS URGED

Despite that, Agriculture officials recommended an `interim' $400 million in additional food credits be granted Iraq under the CCC program, and this was approved by an interagency council Oct. 4, 1989, over the opposition of the Federal Reserve and Treasury representatives. A confidential State Department memo minimized the objections of the two agencies, saying they were made `at the behest' of the Office of Management and Budget, which State suggested was taking its role as `watchdog against scandal' too seriously.

But Iraq rejected the $400 million as insultingly low--Baghdad had received $1.1 billion the year before--and said such a relatively small amount would be `widely viewed as a U.S. vote of no confidence in Iraq debt policy.' On Oct. 6, according to a secret cable, Secretary of State James A. Baker III assured complaining Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz at a meeting here that he would `look into the matter immediately.'

BNL officials in Rome, faced with parliamentary demands for an investigation there, were also getting worried. On Oct. 19, 1989, according to a State Department cable, BNL's chairman and its director-general called on U.S. Ambassador Peter F. Secchia and `suggested that the matter should be raised to a political level.' They said they wanted to cooperate fully with U.S. authorities `while at the same time making it fairly clear they want to achieve some kind of damage control.'

Sometime that same month, President Bush stepped into the fray, issuing National Security Directive 26 (NSD-26). Gonzalez said the order has been withheld from his committee on grounds of executive privilege, but other documents show that it ordered `pursuit of improved economic and political ties with Iraq.' A report to Baker, dated Oct. 26, 1989, cited the directive in recommending approval `on foreign policy grounds' of a $1 billion CCC program for Iraq, to be paid in two installments in light of the BNL investigation.

The report warned that the bank fraud `may also involve several high Iraqi officials,' but emphasized; `Iraq is now our ninth largest customer for agricultural commodities. . . . Our ability to influence Iraqi policies in areas important to us, from Lebanon to the Middle East peace process, will be heavily influenced by the outcome of the CCC negotiations.'

BAKER CALLED YEUTTER

Baker called then-Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter and urged him to go forward with the $1 billion program. Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger made similar appeals to Treasury and OMB, explaining in one note that `the CCC program is important to our efforts to improve and expand our relationship with Iraq, as ordered by the President in NSD-26.'

The full $1 billion was approved at a high-level interagency council meeting on Nov. 8, 1989. According to a confidential memo, Treasury, the Federal Reserve and OMB still felt that `allegations of Iraqi wrongdoing in the BNL case, though not backed by evidence at this time, could eventually embarrass the administration.' But once again, the State Department representative invoked NSD-26 and said that `to abruptly terminate the [CCC] program would . . . clearly run counter to the president's intention.'

Alarmed by Baghdad's human rights abuses such as the gassing of Kurdish villages in northern Iraq, Congress later that month enacted limited sanctions against Iraq, prohibiting Export-Import Bank financing without a presidential waiver. The State Department quickly drafted one and Bush signed it Jan. 17, 1990, declaring that a prohibition on Ex-Im loan guarantees for Iraq--essentially a $200 million revolving credit line--would not be `in the national interest of the United States.'

Around that time, other documents show, prosecutors in Atlanta were planning to bring an indictment in February and wanted to arrange interviews abroad of some `essential witnesses,' especially in Turkey. The interviews never came about, for reasons that are not yet clear. Justice Department officials in Washington say they stepped into the case in February 1990 in view of its international implications. Not until a year later--on Feb. 28, 1991, the day after Bush ordered a cease-fire in the gulf war--were charges formally brought.

`It was a very complex case,' said Gerrilyn Brill, first assistant U.S. attorney in Atlanta. `There is no connection between any failure to meet our expected dates in the indictment and foreign policy considerations.'

Brill is in charge of the case because the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, Joe D. Whitley, appointed in the summer of 1990, disqualified himself. He came from a firm that represented Matrix-Churchill of Ohio, an Iraqi front company and machine tool manufacturer named in the indictment as one of the recipients of BNL loan money.

`It's just a matter of happenstance,' Laurence A. Urgenson, acting deputy assistant attorney general, said of Whitley's Matrix-Churchill connection. Urgenson, who worked closely on the case as chief of the Justice Department's criminal fraud section, said `people keep linking things together that don't link. You have no idea how unrelated the war was to what we were doing. We indicted the day we were finished.'

CREDITS FINALLY CUT

The Agriculture Department finally halted the CCC loan program in May 1990 as relations with Saddam were deteriorating, but by then, half the $1 billion in credits had already been used.

Documents indicate the cutoff came after a May 29 meeting of the National Security Council deputies committee. A secret State Department options paper prepared for the session listed other actions that could be taken against Iraq and noted that U.S. intelligence was still providing Baghdad `with limited information on Iranian military activity that would be missed.'

It is not clear when that intelligence-sharing relationship was terminated. A knowledgeable official said intelligence sharing was not discussed at the NSC meeting.

Months later, with the BNL indictment imminent, prosecutors wanted to name the Central Bank of Iraq as a defendant, a step they said would allow them to freeze $1.5 billion in Iraqi assets. Top lawyers from the State Department, the Federal Reserve and other agencies successfully opposed the move as a dangerous precedent that could invite similar action by other countries against the Fed.

In a separate memo, the State Department, apparently anticipating Saddam's downfall, expressed additional reservations, saying the Iraqi central bank `will be an important element in any reconstruction regime.' The memo also noted with apparent satisfaction that `contrary to press reports,' Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, was not on the list of those to be indicted. He has been named, instead, as an unindicted co-conspirator.

The 347-count indictment accused three officers of BNL-Atlanta, two of whom pleaded guilty last Friday, of conspiring with four Iraqi officials in what amounted to a rogue operation to defraud BNL of more than $5 billion without the knowledge or approval of higher-ups in the Italian bank. According to one Justice Department memo, the main defendant in the case, Christopher Drogoul, who ran BNL-Atlanta, has accused higher-ups in Rome of complicity, but prosecutors rejected his claims as `spurious.' The trial is set for June 1.

Simply stated, Mr. Speaker, this article shows a pattern of this administration courting Saddam Hussein, of overruling efforts within the administration to cut off aid to him and, in fact, helping to create the monster that caused us so much difficulty a year and a half ago.

END