Saturday, April 30, 2011

NCIS Struck Early? Why and How Libyan Rebel Leader Spent Much of Past 20 Years in Suburban Virginia: What Happens When CIA/Military Intelligence Rules

I'd like to kick this essay off by quoting from a portion of today's Down With Tyranny:

Fascism is a rebellion or revolt by the elite to preserve their social economic status. This is the primary reason fascism begins during periods of economic turmoil. While the large number of followers of fascism such as Hitler's Brown Shirts came from the middle and lower classes, the elite of German society controlled the party. It was only after Hitler assured the prominent business leaders of his opposition to socialism and unions that he gained power. (From Glen Yeardon's and John Hawkin's book The Nazi Hydra In America about how fascism is a top-down revolution (just the way our teabagger commotion has been))
Paul Krugman underlines what is happening to the lower classes (most of the unemployed) who are no longer being served by their government:
. . . the Fed’s policy is to do nothing about unemployment because Ron Paul is now the chairman of the House subcommittee on monetary policy.

So much for the Fed’s independence. And so much for the future of America’s increasingly desperate jobless.

Ellen Brown puts an even finer point to the financial crisis which may have even been exacerbated by the Fed in its quest to solve the bankers' problems:
Bottom line: "If the Fed were actually a federal agency, the government could issue U.S. legal tender directly, avoiding an unnecessary interest-bearing debt to private middlemen who create the money out of thin air themselves. Among other benefits to the taxpayers. a truly "federal" Federal Reserve could lend the full faith and credit of the United States to state and local governments interest-free, cutting the cost of infrastructure in half, restoring the thriving local economies of earlier decades." . . .
When there are no rules in force anymore (not to mention, laws flouted), power does as it pleases.

The CIA (according to the statutory provision in its charter) was prohibited from engaging in law enforcement or internal security functions (50 U.S.C. 403-3(d)(1)), and although this was repeatedly violated (Operation CHAOS) by the Republican administrations in control of the government under Nixon and Ford, it was finally renewed by Congress after a fairly thorough investigation by the Church Committee in 1975, which was concerned about the dangers of the CIA operating a domestic secret police against which the prohibition of the charter sought to guard. No one even thinks about this charter today in light of the quick passage and later renewal of the suspect "terrorist-inspired" Patriot Act, which essentially rendered the original act's provisions moot. Today, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DCI), head of the intelligence community, establishes the priorities for the collection and dissemination of intelligence information gathered in the U.S as well as other unknown activities. And this very powerful position is now destined to be occupied by the Bush-connected military General who ran losing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. (that were never declared by Congress) and never saw any intelligence information that he couldn't ignore if it pleased his superiors. And General Petreus' recent promotion to Director of the CIA has been brought to us by a "progressive" ("new" progressive, I might add) Democratic President. Who'd a thunk it then? Many books and articles have been written documenting that JFK was probably murdered (and it's not even a secret, folks) by a powerful group that detested his progressive policies and eventually decided they must stop him from investigating the CIA/FBI/Office of Naval Intelligence ties to the Bay of Pigs military fiasco (remember the pictures of Oswald that came out in the news initially (and then disappeared) with him in front of the known CIA headquarters in New Orleans (as well as his ties to the FBI, State Department, and Fair Play for Cuba propagandists)?), which had embarrassed JFK so thoroughly in his progressive foreign policy stewardship and infuriated the Pentagon when he couldn't be pressured into providing the air cover for the CIA-led group of "terrorists."

Libyan Rebel Leader Spent Much of Past 20 Years in Suburban Virginia Chris Adams McClatchy Newspapers

March 28, 2011 WASHINGTON - The new leader of Libya's opposition military spent the past two decades in suburban Virginia but felt compelled — even in his late-60s — to return to the battlefield in his homeland, according to people who know him. Khalifa Hifter was once a top military officer for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, but after a disastrous military adventure in Chad in the late 1980s, Hifter switched to the anti-Gadhafi opposition. In the early 1990s, he moved to suburban Virginia, where he established a life but maintained ties to anti-Gadhafi groups. Late last week, Hifter was appointed to lead the rebel army, which has been in chaos for weeks. He is the third such leader in less than a month, and rebels interviewed in Libya openly voiced distrust for the most recent leader, Abdel Fatah Younes, who had been at Gadhafi's side until just a month ago. At a news conference Thursday, the rebel's military spokesman said Younes will stay as Hifter's chief of staff, and added that the army — such as it is — would need "weeks" of training. According to Abdel Salam Badr of Richmond, Va., who said he has known Hifter all his life — including back in Libya — Hifter - whose name is sometimes spelled Haftar, Hefter or Huftur - was motivated by his intense anti-Gadhafi feelings. "Libyans — every single one of them — they hate that guy so much they will do whatever it takes," Badr said in an interview Saturday. "Khalifa has a personal grudge against Gadhafi... That was his purpose in life." According to Badr and another friend in the U.S., a Georgia-based Libyan activist named Salem alHasi, Hifter left for Libya two weeks ago. AlHasi, who said Hifter was once his superior in the opposition's military wing, said he and Hifter talked in mid-February about the possibility that Gadhafi would use force on protesters. "He made the decision he had to go inside Libya," alHasi said Saturday. "With his military experience, and with his strong relationship with officers on many levels of rank, he decided to go and see the possibility of participating in the military effort against Gadhafi." He added that Hifter is very popular among members of the Libyan army, "and he is the most experienced person in the whole Libyan army." He acted out of a sense of "national responsibility," alHasi said. "This responsibility no one can take care of but him," alHasi said. "I know very well that the Libyan army especially in the eastern part is in desperate need of his presence." Omar Elkeddi, a Libyan expatriate journalist based in Holland, said in an interview that the opposition forces are getting more organized than they were at the beginning up the uprising. Hifter, he said, is "very professional, very distinguished," and commands great respect. Since coming to the United States in the early 1990s, Hifter lived in suburban Virginia outside Washington, D.C. Badr said he was unsure exactly what Hifter did to support himself, and that Hifter primarily focused on helping his large family.

And once again, why Petreus, a Bush-made military guy at the CIA? Or did I stutter?

Petreus, A Threat to CIA Analysis Ray McGovern April 28, 2011 The news that President Barack Obama has picked Gen. David Petraeus to be CIA director raises troubling questions, including whether the commander most associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will tolerate objective analysis of those two conflicts. What if CIA analysts assess the prospects of success in those two wars as dismal and conclude that the troop “surges” pushed so publicly by Petraeus wasted both the lives of American troops and many billions of taxpayer dollars? Will CIA Director Petraeus welcome such critical analysis or punish it? The Petraeus appointment also suggests that the President doesn’t value getting the straight scoop on these key war-related issues. If he did, why is he giving the CIA job to a general with a huge incentive to gild the lily regarding the “progress” made under his command? Petraeus already has a record as someone who looks at skeptical CIA analysts as gnats to be swatted away before they bite. That is why he relegated them to strap-hanger status during the key decision-making process in late 2009 on what to do about Afghanistan. When Obama expressed doubts about the value of a major escalation in Afghanistan, Petraeus assured him that he and his generals had it all figured out, that 33,000 additional troops would do the trick. CIA analysts weren’t even assigned to do a formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which normally is a de rigueur step before making any significant presidential decision like a large-scale escalation of a war. Remarkably, no NIE was prepared before the President’s decision to up U.S. troop levels to 100,000 in late 2009. To his credit, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, who became Director of National Intelligence in August 2010, insisted that two NIEs be prepared last fall — one on Afghanistan and one on Pakistan. The one on Afghanistan concluded that the U.S. could not prevail without a firm decision by Pakistan to interdict the Taliban along the border with Afghanistan. The one on Pakistan said, in the vernacular, there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that the Pakistanis would make such a decision. Ergo? The sobering conclusions of the NIEs were supported by a treasure trove of 92,000 documents written mostly by U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2009 and released by WikiLeaks on July 25, 2010. This more granular reporting laid bare the brutality and fecklessness of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan — particularly the forlorn hope that the Pakistanis will change their strategic outlook and help pull the U.S. chestnuts out of the Afghan fire. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Afghan War Leaks Expose Costly Folly.”] Good Luck Persuading Pakistan Perhaps the most explosive revelations disclosed the double game being played by the Pakistani Directorate for Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). Der Spiegel reported: “The documents clearly show that this Pakistani intelligence agency is the most important accomplice the Taliban has outside of Afghanistan.” The documents revealed that ISI envoys not only are present when insurgent commanders hold war councils, but also give specific orders to carry out assassinations — including, according to one report, an attempt on the life of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in August 2008. Former Pakistani intelligence chief, Gen. Hamid Gul, is depicted as an important source of aid to the Taliban and even, in another report, as a “leader” of the insurgents. The reports show Gul ordering suicide attacks and describe him as one of the most important suppliers of weaponry to the Taliban. Though the Pakistani government has angrily denied U.S. government complaints about Gul and the ISI regarding secret ties to the Taliban and even to al-Qaeda, the evidence certainly raises serious questions regarding what the Pakistanis have been doing with the billions of dollars that Washington has given them. No matter. In 2009, President Obama decided to bless Gen. Petraeus’s “counterinsurgency” campaign, with U.S. Special Forces kicking down Afghan doors at night, drones terrorizing alleged “militants,” and whole villages destroyed in order to “save” them from the Taliban – a truly strange way to go about winning hearts and minds. Back stateside, U.S. intelligence analysts looked on with dismay. Those with some gray in their hair were reminded of similar failed tactics and warped intelligence assessments of the U.S. military command in Vietnam. The Ghost of Westmoreland Past As I watched Petraeus perform, I often saw the ghost of Army Gen. William Westmoreland against whom charges of deliberate distortion and dishonesty were proven once intelligence analysts had their day in a post-Vietnam-War court of law — literally. Back in 1967, in order to demonstrate “progress” in the war, Westmoreland ordered his intelligence officers not to go higher than 299,000 for the total count of Communists under arms in South Vietnam. The fear was that if journalists did some basic arithmetic, the body counts and “war of attrition” would all be proven a sham. All the U.S. intelligence agencies except the Army’s agreed that the actual number was almost twice that, and were soon proven tragically right during the country-wide Tet offensive in late January to early February 1968. So, what is Petraeus’s actual estimate of the number of Taliban his forces face in Afghanistan? Is there no such estimate – or is it too secret or too embarrassing to reveal? As for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence does have an estimate of 50 to 100 — no, not thousand, just 50 to 100. Moreover, little serious thought seems to have been given to the daunting challenge of the resupply of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In Vietnam, resupply was a piece of cake compared to the challenge of getting supplies through Pakistan, over the Khyber Pass, and into Afghanistan. At home, Americans grouse about having to pay $4 a gallon for gasoline. It costs $400 to get a gallon into a U.S. Army or Marine vehicle inside Afghanistan. Aside from the obscene expense, the long supply lines are extremely vulnerable — not only to attack from folks who don’t want U.S. troops in their country, but also to the caprice of Pakistani officials who can choke off the supply routes at will. Last weekend, for example, a large crowd protesting U.S. drone strikes demanded that the attacks end in one month or demonstrators would cut off a key supply route for Western troops in Afghanistan. The two-day protest clogged up a major road used by trucks to ferry supplies across the border. "We will block NATO supplies from Karachi to Khyber everywhere if drone attacks are not stopped in one month," said Imran Khan, a former Pakistani cricket star-turned-politician, to the crowd of protesters. Progress in Afghanistan? But the core problem of Petraeus as CIA director is that his reputation is inextricably tied to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and whether they are judged successes or failures. Put differently, will CIA Director Petraeus demand that his analysts see the glass half full rather than half empty, just as he has as the commander of those conflicts? In March, Gen. Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Afghan War, “While the security progress achieved over the past year is significant, it is also fragile and reversible.” Thus, he insisted, it would be unwise to abandon the mission. If the “fragile but reversible” formulation has a familiar ring, you may recall that Petraeus lifted it out of the cliché cabinet several times in early 2008 to characterize security progress in Iraq. The general clearly finds the line a convenient, one-size-fits-all sound bite. So far, Congress and the Fawning Corporate Media have let him get away with it. Are we to expect that once Petraeus takes the helm at CIA, the career analysts will still be able to call the war in Afghanistan a fool’s errand? If the new CIA director insists on seeing progress – however “fragile and reversible” – will vulnerable analysts risk his wrath by contradicting him? We’ll know, I suppose, as soon as we hear that sound bite showing up in the CIA's analytic assessments. For now, we already know that Petraeus’s professional optimism is not shared among rank-and-file analysts at CIA. And the grim statistics continue to build. Just this week, the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan passed the 6,000 mark, with 43,184 the official figure for the number wounded. An additional 54,592 have required medical evacuation from combat. Thus, about 104,000 U.S. troops — a conservative minimum not including the walking wounded, those with traumatic brain injury, attempted or successful suicides, and civilian contractors — are casualties of these long wars. Against this background, I find it hard to believe that President Obama would fritter away his best chance to get an unvarnished assessment — without fear or favor — from intelligence specialists with career protection for “telling it like it is,” the views of the boss notwithstanding. The conundrum is hardly unprecedented. Think back to the 1980s and the challenges faced by honest analysts trying to report on the Contra war in Nicaragua, even as it was being run by the boss, then-CIA Director William Casey. Finding ‘Intelligence’ on Iran Iran will continue to loom large as a target for intelligence analysis during Petraeus’s tenure at CIA. What is disconcerting on that front is that Petraeus has been eager to serve up “intelligence” to portray Iran in the worst light. One rather strange but instructive example comes to mind. It involves a studied, if disingenuous, effort to blame all the troubles in southern Iraq on the “malignant” influence of Iran. On April 25, 2008, Joint Chiefs Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, told reporters that Gen. Petraeus in Baghdad would give a briefing “in the next couple of weeks” providing detailed evidence of “just how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability.” Petraeus’s staff alerted U.S. media to a major news event in which captured Iranian arms in Karbala would be displayed and then destroyed. Investigative reporter Gareth Porter noted at the time that the idea was to fill the airwaves with spectacular news framing Iran as the culprit in Iraq for several days, with the aim of “breaking down congressional and public resistance to the idea that Iranian bases supporting the meddling would have to be attacked.” There was a small problem, however. When American munitions experts went to Karbala to inspect the alleged cache of Iranian weapons, they found nothing that could be credibly linked to Iran. Adding to Washington’s chagrin, the Iraqis announced that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had formed his own Cabinet committee to investigate the U.S. claims and attempt to “find tangible information and not information based on speculation.” Ouch! The embarrassment for Petraeus might have been greater, but the U.S. media conveniently forgot the promised briefing. After all, the general has long been a darling of the FCM. U.S. media suppression of this episode was a telling reminder of how difficult it is to get unbiased and accurate information on touchy subjects like Iran. The NIE That Stopped a War Another key question is whether, as CIA director, Petraeus will be able to summon the integrity to face down the neocons and others who are determined to magnify the “threat” from Iran and increase pressure for military action to nip Iran’s nuclear program in the bud. There has been growing pressure to jettison the unanimous judgment, reached “with high confidence” by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, that Iran had stopped the work on a nuclear weapon in mid-2003. Despite strong pressure from Washington’s influential neoconservatives to water down that key judgment, the leaders of the intelligence community have remained firm — so far — and reaffirmed that judgment earlier this year. In a section of his memoir, former President George W. Bush laments that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran had tied his hands “on the military side.” Bush added this (apparently unedited) kicker: “But after the NIE, how could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?” Not even Vice President Dick Cheney could persuade Bush to continue driving the pro-war-on-Iran juggernaut forward with its tires punctured by the NIE. The avuncular Cheney has made it clear that he was disappointed in his protégé. On Aug. 30, 2009, Cheney told “Fox News Sunday” that he was isolated among Bush advisers in his enthusiasm for war with Iran.
And why would this be so? My guess is that at that point the CIA/Bush squad realized it needed further propaganda to neutralize the NIE. And it's getting it.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the 1960s and then a CIA analyst for 27 years. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Please read the whole essay for more eye-openers about exactly what the choice of Petreus as CIA Director brings us. It's dinner time for me (but who can eat after that?). How about some of Ashley's baked flounder with asparagus? Yummy. ______________________

2 comments:

Tom Harper said...

"While the large number of followers of fascism such as Hitler's Brown Shirts came from the middle and lower classes, the elite of German society controlled the party. It was only after Hitler assured the prominent business leaders of his opposition to socialism and unions that he gained power."

That does sound eerily similar to our current state of affairs, doesn't it.

Suzan said...

Ahem, yep!

Thanks for the comment, Tom!

S