Tag Archives: Bush Administration

Document Shows CIA Reaction to Finding No WMD in Iraq

By David Swanson, teleSUR
July 10, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

unnamedThe National Security Archive has posted several newly available documents, one of them an account by Charles Duelfer of the search he led in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, with a staff of 1,700 and the resources of the U.S. military.

Duelfer was appointed by CIA Director George Tenet to lead a massive search after an earlier massive search led by David Kay had determined that there were no WMD stockpiles in Iraq. Duelfer went to work in January 2004, to find nothing for a second time, on behalf of people who had launched a war knowing full well that their own statements about WMDs were not true.

The fact that Duelfer states quite clearly that he found none of the alleged WMD stockpiles cannot be repeated enough, with 42% of Americans (and 51 percent of Republicans) still believing the opposite.

A New York Times story last October about the remnants of a long-abandoned chemical weapons program has been misused and abused to advance misunderstanding. A search of Iraq today would find U.S. cluster bombs that were dropped a decade back, without of course finding evidence of a current operation.

Duelfer is also clear that Saddam Hussein’s government had accurately denied having WMD, contrary to a popular U.S. myth that Hussein had pretended to have what he did not.

The fact that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their team knowingly lied cannot be overemphasized. This group took the testimony of Hussein Kamel regarding weapons he’d said had been destroyed years ago, and used it as if he’d said they currently existed. This team used forged documents to allege a uranium purchase. They used claims about aluminum tubes that had been rejected by all of their own usual experts. They “summarized” a National Intelligence Estimate that said Iraq was unlikely to attack unless attacked to say nearly the opposite in a “white paper” released to the public. Colin Powell took claims to the U.N. that had been rejected by his own staff, and touched them up with fabricated dialogue.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that, “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even nonexistent.”

On January 31, 2003, Bush suggested to Blair that they could paint an airplane with U.N. colors, fly it low to get it shot at, and thereby start the war. Then the two of them walked out to a press conference at which they said they would avoid war if at all possible. Troop deployments and bombing missions were already underway.

When Diane Sawyer asked Bush on television why he had made the claims he had about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, he replied: “What’s the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger.”

Duelfer’s newly released internal report on his hunt, and that of Kay before him, for the figments of propagandists’ imagination refers to “Saddam Hussein’s WMD program,” which Duelfer treats as an on-again, off-again institution, as if the 2003 invasion had just caught it in one of its naturally cyclical low tides of non-existence. Duelfer also describes the nonexistent program as “an international security problem that vexed the world for three decades,” — except perhaps for the part of the world engaged in the largest public demonstrations in history, which rejected the U.S. case for war.

Duelfer openly states that his goal was to rebuild “confidence in intelligence projections of threat.” Of course, having found no WMDs, he can’t alter the inaccuracy of the “projections of threat.” Or can he? What Duelfer did publicly at the time and does again here is to claim, without providing any evidence for it, that “Saddam was directing resources to sustain the capacity to recommence producing WMD once U.N. sanctions and international scrutiny collapsed.”

Duelfer claims that former Saddam yes men, rigorously conditioned to say whatever would most please their questioner, had assured him that Saddam harbored these secret intentions to start rebuilding WMD someday. But, Duelfer admits, “there is no documentation of this objective. And analysts should not expect to find any.”

So, in Duelfer’s rehabilitation of the “intelligence community” that may soon be trying to sell you another “projection of threat” (a phrase that perfectly fits what a Freudian would say they were doing), the U.S. government invaded Iraq, devastated a society, killed upwards of a million people by best estimates, wounded, traumatized, and made homeless millions more, generated hatred for the United States, drained the U.S. economy, stripped away civil liberties back home, and laid the groundwork for the creation of ISIS, as a matter not of “preempting” an “imminent threat” but of preempting a secret plan to possibly begin constructing a future threat should circumstances totally change.

This conception of “preemptive defense” is identical to two other concepts. It’s identical to the justifications we’ve been offered recently for drone strikes. And it’s identical to aggression. Once “defense” has been stretched to include defense against theoretical future threats, it ceases to credibly distinguish itself from aggression. And yet Duelfer seems to believe he succeeded in his assignment.

US government covered up 14,000 photos documenting CIA secret prisons

By Thomas Gaist
June 29, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The US government has concealed the existence of some 14,000 images documenting the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) network of secret “black site” torture and interrogation centers established after September 11, according to unnamed US officials who spoke to the Washington Post.

The existence of the photographs was known to the US military prosecutors involved in ongoing military commission cases against four alleged terrorists for at least several months prior to the publication of the media reports on Saturday, according to the Post.

The photos had never been brought forward during more than three years of hearings in the cases of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and three other alleged participants in the September 11 attacks.

After a brief attempt to conduct their trials in a New York federal court, the accused are again standing before military-run commissions established to deny basic democratic rights to “enemy combatants” captured by the US government as part of the so-called global war on terror.

Images from black sites in Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, Lithuania, Romania and possibly others are included in the photo cache, which the Obama administration still refuses to release.

The photos, now under review by US officials, include images of naked prisoners taken during transportation to the torture sites. There are also reportedly photos of a wooden board used for waterboarding detainees at a black site in Afghanistan as well as photos of the small confinement boxes which a number of detainees were forced into for hours on end.

The concealment of the photos has prompted calls for the suspension of the commissions, pending an official investigation into the images.

In spite of ferocious efforts waged continuously by both the Bush and Obama administrations to suppress investigation of the torture programs, the basic facts are more or less known. More than 100 individuals are confirmed to have been “rendered” to secret prisons between 2002 and 2006. Individuals without any remote connection to Jihadist organizations were detained and tortured for years as a result of mistaken identity.

Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen, underwent prolonged torture and confinement in Afghanistan before being dumped by CIA officers in rural Albania after proving to his captors that his name was very similar to, but not the same as, that of the man they had intended to interrogate.

At least five of the detainees disappeared to black sites by the CIA have been confirmed to have been killed as a result of being subjected to the “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

The total number of victims may be much higher. The CIA organized more than 1,200 flights to and from locations on the European continent between 2002 and 2006, as part of its rendition and torture operations, according to a 2007 report approved by the European Union’s main legislature.

A slow trickle of detainees have been quietly released or transferred without explanation. Two Tunisians held at a CIA black site in Afghanistan for over a decade were flown back to Tunisia for release on June 15, traveling on board a US military plane. An unknown number of other detainees held by US forces at black sites were handed over to the Afghan government last December.

The refusal of the US government to release the photos, along with their secrecy in the first place, are serious crimes in themselves. As part of the cover up, the Obama administration continues to hold dozens of “enemy combatants” who have been cleared for release as early as 2009.

The collaboration of European governments in the operation of the secret torture network has also been covered up. Details of the European role in the torture network were subject to heavy redaction in the already heavily redacted Senate torture report.

Nonetheless, it is known that Poland, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania all hosted secret prisons directly run by the CIA, while a broader circle of some 20 European states ran sites in close collaboration with the CIA.

Security personnel from the British government were directly involved in CIA torture sessions. Other collaborating governments received millions in US government money paid out by the CIA, including more than $1 million paid to Lithuania for the right to set up a single detention center.

At least three of the agency’s black sites, located in Poland, Romania and Morocco, were established from the CIA branch office in Frankfurt, Germany. The Frankfurt office, previously a “sleepy” logistics outpost for the agency, suddenly received millions of dollars’ worth of budget increases under orders from the White House, beginning in 2002.

Instead of being punished, the bureaucrats who oversaw the programs, including current CIA Director John Brennan, are now ensconced in powerful offices at the highest levels of government.

Documentation proving that the Obama administration has dismantled the vast array of resources, camps and personnel networks involved has not been forthcoming.

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark Joins Lawsuit against Bush, Cheney, Et Al for Illegal War in Iraq

By Claire Bernish
June 19, 2015
Antimedia,  June 16, 2015

 

A lawsuit against members of the Bush administration for their role in the invasion of Iraq recently received noteworthy support from an internationally prominent group of lawyers—including a former U.S. attorney general. The group is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the class action suit on grounds that the U.S.-led war was an illegal act of aggression in violation of international guidelines as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II.

Iraqi mother Sundus Saleh filed the lawsuit on May 27 against former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, stating they “broke the law in conspiring and committing the crime of aggression against the people of Iraq.” Her complaint filed to the court reads:

Defendants planned the war against Iraq as early as 1998; manipulated the United States public to support the war by scaring them with images of ‘mushroom clouds’ and conflating the Hussein regime with al-Qaeda; and broke international law by commencing the invasion without proper legal authorization. More than sixty years ago, American prosecutors in Nuremberg, Germany convicted Nazi leaders of the crimes of conspiring and waging wars of aggression. They found the Nazis guilty of planning and waging wars that had no basis in law and which killed millions of innocents.[emphasis added]

It should be noted as well that the Nuremberg Tribunal’s findings were specifically quoted in the suit, which has been undertaken as a pro bonocase by Comar Law, based in San Francisco:

[These] are charges of the utmost gravity. War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences […] affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”[emphasis added in the lawsuit]

Saleh’s previous attempt to sue the Bush administration in the California court system was met with resistance from the government—including Obama administration lawyers—and was ultimately dismissed using the terms of the Westfall Act, which grants immunity to federal employees who act “within the scope of their employment.”

But the amicus brief submitted on Saleh’s behalf by the group of attorneys—including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the former president of the National Lawyers Guild, a founding board member of the International Commission for Labor Rights, and the co-chair of the International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild, among others—states that the previous court was “forbidden” to use Westfall protections to dismiss the charges because the Nuremberg Tribunal established “norms” that prohibit “the use of domestic laws as shields to allegations of aggression […] National leaders, even American leaders, do not have the authority to commit aggression and cannot be immune from allegations they have done so.” [emphasis added]

A second amicus brief was also filed by the nonprofit Planethood Foundation—a compelling action in itself, considering the organization was established in 1996 by the sole surviving Nuremberg chief prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz. This brief cautions that “those in positions of power” should not be allowed to subvert their influence to escape responsibility for their crimes. This brief cites the U.N. statement given after Nuremberg proceedings that, “planning, initiating, or waging a war of aggression is a crime against humanity for which individuals as well as states shall be tried before the bar of international justice.” [emphasis added]

The significance of these briefs cannot be overstated amidst increasing international attention on the case. Calls to charge the Bush administration for war crimes have grown intense as recent reports estimate well over one million people have died as a result of the Iraq war.

Hopefully, there will be an appropriate answer from the federal appeals court for Saleh’s lawsuit; because, as  Inder Comar told Truthout,

“This is a horror that continues to play itself out, daily, in Iraq; the architects of such chaos have yet to be meaningfully questioned as to their role in this unmitigated tragedy.”

Inder Comar is the Attorney of Sundus Saleh.

Corporate Media Doublethink and the Bush-PNAC-9/11-Iraq Connection

By Prof. James F. Tracy
May 25, 2015
Global Research

 

Bush-Cheney-Wolfowitz“Doublethink,” George Orwell famously remarked, “means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

The corporate news media similarly tend toward selective recall when approaching and interpreting crucial facts of national and world history. A recent example involves John Ellis “Jeb” Bush’s tentative May 10 admission that he would not have embarked on the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq had he possessed the information that his brother’s presidential administration willfully kept from the American public.

In fact, such information is but one small facet in an edifice of high crimes and subterfuge, including the George W. Bush regime’s complicity in the false flag terror attacks of September 11, 2001, or what one might otherwise term the Bush-PNAC-9/11-Iraq connection.

pnac.org

In the midst of controversy surrounding Jeb Bush’s acknowledgement, major news media almost uniformly chose to toss the elder Bush brother’s involvement in the neoconservative Project for a New American Century as a signatory to its “Statement of Principles” down the memory hole.

As many will recall, PNAC’s 2000 document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” issued one year before the September 11 events, proclaimed how “the process of [foreign policy] transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”

“A SECRET blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure ‘regime change’ even before he took power in January 2001,” Neil Mackay observed in the Scottish Sunday Herald on the first anniversary of 9/11.

The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a ‘global Pax Americana’ was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld’s deputy), George W Bush’s younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney’s chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America’s Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The plan shows Bush’s cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

The PNAC document supports a ‘blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests’.

This “American grand strategy” must be advanced for “as far into the future as possible”, the report says. It also calls for the US to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars” as a “core mission”.

The historical amnesia is evident in a LexisNexis search for “Project for a New American Century” and “Jeb Bush” that yields almost no mention in print news media of the eerily prophetic, even incriminating document in the overall coverage of Bush’s admittance.

Cable news channel MSNBC was the only news outlet to (unintentionally) link PNAC to Bush’s disclosure. The reference was made by Salon.com‘s Joan Walsh on the May 14 segment of Chris Matthew’s Hardball program. The exchange is prefaced by Matthews’ remark concerning Bush’s difficulty distinguishing “himself from the ideology that took us into Iraq.”

During an exchange between Matthews, Walsh, Buzzfeed‘s McKay Coppins, and The Nation‘s Ben Goldberger concerning Bush’s present slew of “neocon” foreign policy advisors, Matthews curiously feigns ignorance of Bush’s PNAC involvement.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: We were all supposed to answer hypothetical questions. Knowing what we know now, what would you have done? I would have not engaged, I would not have gone into Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I would not have gone into Iraq. It took [Bush] a while to say that … McKay, tell me why he`s had this hard time to separate himself from the ideology that took us into Iraq.

COPPINS: Well, it`s — I have a story coming out tonight where I talk to a half dozen former George W. Bush officials, neocon hawks, very pro- Iraq war at the time and still are. And they breathe two issues. One — I mean, it`s obvious that there`s still a lot of pressure from neoconservatives and Iraq hawks who don`t want him to, you know, wholly disown the Iraq [sic].

The other issue is that they — and they were all asking this question, when he was asked, you know, to put out a list of his foreign policy advisers, he came out this lengthy, kind of unwieldy list of 24 policy advisers — [sic]

MATTHEWS: But it had a few hard rights in it.

COPPINS: It had a lot of neoconservatives. And actually, I`m told that he had to scramble at the last minute to add people from the new generation. Initially, it was all –

MATTHEWS: So, what do you think he is? Do you think he`s his brother or his dad?

COPPINS: I think he`s probably, in his heart, angling more toward his dad, but I think there`s still many political pleasures within his party and, frankly, familiar pressures to not disown him.

MATTHEWS: The weird about [sic] this is the father/son thing?

WALSH: Yes, to both of them.

MATTHEWS: He railed against his father. We all know W. was the rebel, in a way that may have sort of led us into the war. We don`t know this psychological stuff.

WALSH: Right. We can`t get inside his brain.

But I mean, I think you`re making a great point. This may well be what he thinks. We don`t know what he thinks. But he was an early signatory to the project for a new American century document.

MATTHEWS: “W” was?

WALSH: No. Jeb was. Jeb was.

There are a lot of people in his orbit. Dick Cheney never said he made a mistake. They would do it all over again. They knew that WMD was a pretext in the first place.

MATTHEWS: Whose sales speech, Ben? It`s going to be an issue in the campaign. It`s the reason that Barack Obama is president over Hillary Clinton. We all know that central fight that he had, she wasn`t willing to push away the war issue. He was. He was clean [Emphasis added].

The almost complete erasure of the Bush-PNAC-9/11-Iraq connection in the broader public discourse surrounding Bush’s admission may seem like yet another short-lived episode in US politics. Yet the omission demonstrates a type of censorship that is now at least as ideological as it is deliberate, particularly among professional journalists who tacitly recognize their roles in the political censorial process. “To know and not to know,” Orwell noted,

to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies … to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself.

Upon over a half century of unexplained political assassinations and phony wars on communism, drugs, and now “terror,” Western political leaders today appear scarcely interested in even explaining their policies, frequently because of the willful historical shorthand practiced by the journalistic institutions dependent on upholding the same political and ideational bulwark.

Overlooking the Bush-PNAC-9/11-Iraq connection requires an informational system akin to that of 1984; one committed to a relentless forgetting of the inner party’s profound criminality.

When Torturers Walk

Negative Culpability

By Jeffrey St. Clair
March 21, 2015
Counter Punch

 

Here’s what we learned from the release of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s use of torture: the Agency tortured some people, in the President’s flippant phrase. More than a few people it turns out, though we probably will never know exactly how many. The techniques of torture were brutal, even sadistic. Though, again, the most barbarous measures have been redacted from public disclosure. The CIA learned almost nothing of value from these heinous crimes. More strikingly, the Agency didn’t expect to pry out any fresh intelligence. Instead, what the torturers wanted most desperately was to extract false confessions, writhing accounts of fantastical ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, linking Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, that could be used retroactively to justify a phony war. Thus does one crime feast on another.

But here’s the rub. We still know much less than we know about the government’s torture program. And that’s not just because two-thirds of the CIA report remains sequestered at Langley. Why? To protect sources and methods? Hardly. You can find those easily enough in any book on the Spanish Inquisition. The techniques haven’t changed that much in five centuries. Just add a few jolts of electricity.

While the CIA wants to keep the details of its torture methods cloaked in mystery, the agency was very happy to let the fact that it was torturing prisoners of its covert operations slip out. Partly this was intended to send a message to the agency’s enemies, that terrible torments were going to be inflicted on the bodies and minds of anyone would stood in its way: from Jihadis to Edward Snowden, if they could just lay their hands on him.

But, and here’s where the psychology gets a little tricky, the Agency also wanted the existence of its torture program to leak out to the American public, to whet the growing appetite for vengeance and, perhaps, to distract attention from the agency’s record of massive blunders. And, by all accounts, the ploy worked. In the befouled moral consciousness of post-911, a stout majority of Americans, 59 percent in a recent poll, support the CIA’s torture program. Many of those back the use of torture even though they know it is totally ineffective as a means of intelligence gathering. In other words, they crave blood, and virtually any Muslim’s blood will do, regardless of culpability.

The declassified sections of the CIA report provide a grisly glimpse at the torture of 119 prisoners, many of them kidnapped. The agency now admits that at least 27 of those torture victims were absolutely innocent—though it is important to note that none of the others were proved to have committed crimes more serious than the ones committed against them. One of those guiltless men was tortured to death, KillingTrayvons1that is: murdered by his American captors. In another case, the CIA nabbed the wrong guy off of a busy street, then tortured him until his mind snapped. A bystander was killed during this botched operation.

Aside from a few editorial boards and human rights groups, no one seems too distraught by the ghastly revelations, veiled as they are. Perhaps this is a kind of twisted sign of imperial maturity, the country finally coming to terms with its own true character. Only the most gullible seem to cling to the naïve notion that torture is “un-American.” This is, after all, the nation that has happily funded the School of the Americas for decades, where graduate seminars are offered in the finer points of torture and assassination for the butchers of Latin
America.

Still it’s possible to briefly mourn the loss of American innocence. In his 1987 film Full-Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick devoted the first half of his film to a harrowing depiction of basic training for Marine recruits at Parris Island. Here the young soldiers are forced to endure a sadistic regime of ridicule, humiliation and abuse, aimed at de-humanizing them, stripping them of basic notions of morality and their capacity for human empathy. This kind of official debasement is what it took to compel young Americans in the late 1960s to torch peasant huts, machine-gun farmers in rice paddies or drop napalm on women and children.

These days that dehumanization process takes place in the lecture halls of Yale, Georgetown and the University of Chicago, where the architects of torture and rendition learn the bureaucratic tools and legalisms of their trade. These are the same species of managerial elites who consult the novels of Charles Dickens in order to learn new ways to punish the poor. Austerity, of course, is a kind of system-wide torture by other means.

We now know no one will be held to account for these egregious acts. There will be no naming of names. No disciplinary actions. No terminations. No prosecutions. Indeed, one of the CIA’s most notorious torturers, an officer who fetishized the waterboard, was promoted to lead the Agency’s “global jihad unit.” This is what John Keats might have described as Negative Culpability, where the perpetrators of some of the most vile crimes in American history simply dissolve into the mist of the system.

The logic of impunity for the torturers doesn’t just let government criminals off the hook; it sanctifies the crimes they committed and enshrines torture as a legitimate mechanism to enforce the American imperial enterprise. There can be no regrets when you aspire to dictate your terms to the rest of the world.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net.

 

US Spin on Middle East Violence Must Change

Obama’s Admission Not Enough

By Ramzy Baroud
February 25, 2015
Counter Punch

 

unclesam_lind_pdTruly, US President Barack Obama’s recent call to address the root causes of violence, including that of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) and al-Qaeda was a step in the right direction, but still miles away from taking the least responsibility for the mayhem that has afflicted the Middle East since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“The link is undeniable,” Obama said in a speech at the State Department on 19 February “When people are oppressed and human rights are denied – particularly along sectarian lines or ethnic lines – when dissent is silenced, it feeds violent extremism. It creates an environment that is ripe for terrorists to exploit.”

Of course, he is right. Every word. However, the underlying message is also clear: it’s everyone else’s fault but ours. Now, that’s hardly true, and Obama, once a strong critic of his predecessor’s war, knows it well.

Writing at MSNBC.com, Sarah Leah Whitson went a step further. In “Why the fight against ISIS is failing,” Whitson, criticised the anti-IS alliance for predicating its strategy on militarily defeating the group, without any redress of the grievances of oppressed Iraqi Sunnis, who, last year welcomed IS fighters as “liberators”.

“But let’s not forget how Iraq got to that point,” she wrote, “with the US-led Iraq war that displaced a dictator but resulted in an abusive occupation and destructive civil war, leaving more than a million dead.”

Spot on, well, almost. Whitson considered “displacing of a dictator,” as a plus for the US war, as if the whole military venture had anything to do with overcoming dictatorship. In fact, the “abusive occupation and destructive civil war” was very much part of the US strategy of divide and conquer. Many wrote about this to the extent that that the argument itself is in fact, history.

At least, however, both arguments are a significant departure from the pseudo-intellectualism that has occupied the larger share of mainstream media thinking about terrorism and violence. Not only does the conventional wisdom in US media blame the bloody exploits of IS on the region itself, as if the US and western interventionism are not, in anyway, factors, at least worth pondering. (In fact, for them US intervention is a force of good, rarely self-seeking and exploitative.) Worse, no matter how they unravel the argument, Islam somehow ends up being the root of all evil – a reductionist, silly and irresponsible argument, to say the least.

Also a dangerous one, for it infers the kind of conclusions that will constantly point the arrow to the direction of a self-destructive foreign policy, the kind that has set the Middle East ablaze in the first place.

But that is not your everyday diatribe. The constant injection of all sorts of bizarre arguments, like that of Graeme Wood’s recent piece in the Atlantic, is aimed at creating distractions, blaming religion and its zealots for their “apocalyptic” view of the world. Wood’s argument, designed to be a methodical and detached academic examination of the roots of IS is misconstrued at best, disingenuous at worst.

“That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfilment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succour if it stays true to the Prophetic model,” Wood concluded with the type of liberal positivism that has become as galling as religious zeal.

Mohamed Ghilan, an Islamic law scholar dissected Wood’s argument with integrity based on real, authentic knowledge of both Islam and the Middle East region. “An analysis of what ISIS is about and what it wants that looks to Islam as a causal source of their behaviour is not only misguided, but also harmful,” he wrote.

“It obscures the root causes for why we have an ISIS, an al-Qaeda, an Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and any of the other groups that have risen and continue to arise. It creates further confusion and contributes to a rising Islamophobic sentiment in the West. And when given the guise of academic rigor, it accomplishes all of this rather perniciously.”

Indeed, the age-old ailment of hallow, lacking writing about the complex and involved reality in the Middle East persists, even after 25 years of full American military engrossment in the region.

Since the first Iraq war (1990-91) until this day, America’s mainstream intellectuals and journalists refuse to accept the most prevalent truth about the roots of the current crisis; that military intervention is not a virtue, that war begets chaos and violence, that military invasion is not a harbingers of a stable democracy, but invite a desperately violent polices predicated on winning, regardless of the cost.

Nonetheless, that very admission came from former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who, by virtue of his previous position should indeed be able to assess the link between the US war on Iraq and the current upheaval. Although he rightly blamed regional powers for exasperating the conflict, he laid the blame where it surly belongs: the Iraq war, invasion and the way the occupation was handled afterwards. “I was against this invasion and my fears have been founded. The break-up of the Iraqi forces poured hundreds if not thousands of disgruntled soldiers and police officers onto the streets,” he said.

That was indeed the backbone of the initial home-grown resistance in Iraq, which forced the US to shift strategy by igniting the powder keg of sectarianism. The hope then was that the “disgruntled soldiers” of Iraqi resistance would be consumed in a civil war inferno involving Sunni-based resistance against Shiite-based militias, themselves working for or allied with the US and US-imposed Shiite government in Baghdad.

“The aim of creating democracy without the existing institutions ushered in corrupt sectarian governments,” Annan said. For Annan, the war and invasion come first, followed by the sectarian-mismanagement of Iraq, also by the Americans, an admission that is rarely echoed by US officials and media as demonstrated by the obstinately deficient media coverage.

One is rarely proposing to ignore existing fault lines in Middle Eastern societies, standing sectarianism, fundamentalism, brewing, unresolved conflicts, and of course the monster of authoritarianism and corruption. None of this should be unheeded, if indeed a peaceful future is to be made possible. On the other hand, the argument that desperately seeks every possible pretence – from blaming Islam and believers of some strange apocalypse to everyone else but the US and its allies – is a poor attempt at escaping a heavy moral, but also political responsibly.

The danger of that argument lies in the fact that its promoters don’t mind seeing yet another war, like the one that was visited upon the Middle East a decade or so ago, the one that wrought al-Qaeda to the region, and orchestrate

Ramzy Baroud – www.ramzybaroud.net – is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

 

CIA whistleblower calls for prosecution of officials responsible for torture

By Tom Hall
February 17, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

John Kiriakou, the only CIA officer in prison for the torture program is the whistleblower who exposed it

John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent who helped reveal the agency’s use of waterboarding in a 2007 interview, was released from prison on February 3 after serving a two-year sentence.

Kiriakou was convicted in 2013 on trumped-up charges of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which he said was retaliation for “blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official US government policy.”

In an interview with Russia Today last week, Kiriakou called for the prosecution of those responsible for CIA torture, declaring, “no one went to jail but me.”

“But what really bothers me, is that there is no prosecution of CIA officers who obviously violated the law; those CIA officers who were conducting interrogations in which prisoners were killed.” Kiriakou said. “I have no idea why there is no outrage, and why those officers are not being prosecuted.”

Kiriakou said he was proud to have helped expose torture by the government, despite the great cost to him personally. “You know, I really do believe that it was worth it. I’m proud to have played a role, however small, in the outline of torture in the United States.”

He also recounted the subhuman conditions he faced while in federal prison, about which he is planning to write a book. “American prisoners aren’t even fed human-grade food,” he said. “And the medical care was even worse. There were almost a half a dozen deaths of prisoners when I was there in prison, and almost every one of those deaths was preventable.”

News reports from Kiriakou’s time in prison allege that he also faced harassment from the prison administration for posting on the liberal news site Firedoglake, in which he published an open letter to Edward Snowden urging him not to cooperate with the FBI and declaring that the FBI “is the enemy; it’s part of the problem, not the solution.”

Kiriakou’s 2007 interview with ABC News was the first time that the use of waterboarding by the CIA was publicly confirmed by a government agent, and earned him the enmity of the political establishment. With characteristic vindictiveness, the Obama administration indicted Kiriakou on trumped-up charges in 2012, including three counts of espionage under the WWI-era Espionage Act, which would have carried a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.

Although the espionage charges were dropped, Kiriakou pled guilty to a lesser charge out of concern for the well-being of his family, who were reduced to subsisting on food stamps as a result of skyrocketing legal expenses. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He now faces a further three months of house arrest and another three years of probation.

Kiriakou was a 14-year veteran of the CIA and the head of counterterrorism in Pakistan at the time of the September 11 attacks. He oversaw the raid which captured Abu Zubaydah a few months later in March 2002, the first high-profile capture of an alleged Al Qaeda operative, who was then falsely described by the Bush administration as an Al Qaeda “mastermind” and the group’s third-highest ranking operative. Zubaydah was severely wounded in the operation, and at some point had his left eye removed by CIA agents.

It was Zubaydah’s case that Kiriakou’s 2007 interview centered on. Basing himself on an internal CIA cable, Kiriakou admitted that the agency had once waterboarded Zubaydah, describing the practice as official government policy. In fact, that cable turned out to be false, and it has since been revealed that Zubaydah was waterboarded a total of 81 times in CIA “black sites.”

Moreover, last fall’s Senate torture report, which mentioned Zubaydah a total of 1,001 times, revealed that the agency used him as a “guinea pig” for developing its “enhanced interrogation” techniques after 9/11. Zubaydah’s lawyer says that he is the only detainee known to have been subjected to all of them. One procedure, developed after it was discovered that Zubaydah had a fear of bugs, involved locking him in a tiny “confinement box” filled with insects. His lawyer says that Zubaydah has suffered permanent brain damage from his ordeal and can no longer even recognize his parents.

The Obama administration finally admitted in 2011 that Zubaydah was neither a top Al Qaeda leader, nor a member of Al Qaeda, nor even “formally” identified with the organization. Nevertheless, the administration refuses to release him from Guantanamo Bay, where is held to this day without charges. Zubaydah’s unimportance was practically admitted by Kiriakou in his 2007 interview, when he told ABC News that “we didn’t go after him because he was Abu Zubaydah. We went after him because he just happened to be in Pakistan and we thought there was a chance we could catch him.”

While Kiriakou struck an ambivalent tone during his 2007 interview, defending the effectiveness of waterboarding in obtaining information, he has since become a public opponent of the federal government’s torture program. In 2010 he wrote an autobiography, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIAs War on Terror, which contained a damning exposure of the policies pursued by Washington under the guise of the “War on Terror.” The book release was delayed for two years by the CIA, and one of the charges tacked onto his 2012 trial was that he had allegedly lied to the CIA’s Publications Review Board while attempting to receive clearance for his book.

Last week, Reporters without Borders released its Press Freedom Index for 2014, in which the United States sunk to 49th place in the global ranking, directly below countries such as El Salvador and Burkina Faso. Reporters Without Borders justified their decision on the basis of the US government’s continued witch-hunting of whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, the vindictive hounding of journalists such as James Risen and Julian Assange, and the wanton attacks on journalists by riot police during the violent crackdown of protests in Ferguson, Missouri last fall.

The Obama administration, which came into office on a wave of anti-war sentiment and promising the most transparent presidency in history, has not charged a single government official for war crimes stemming from the so-called “War on Terror.” Meanwhile, Obama has indicted seven whistleblowers on espionage charges, more than twice as many as all previous administrations combined.

Last month a federal court convicted former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling on six counts of unauthorized disclosure of state secrets for revealing details of the government’s campaign of sabotage and assassination against Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen. Risen, a respected Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who himself was threatened with a lengthy prison sentence for refusing to disclose his sources as part of the investigation, denounced Obama last August as the “greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

The author also recommends:

Whistleblower who exposed CIA nuclear sabotage operation convicted under Espionage Act
[28 January 2015]

Former CIA agent responsible for torture revelations sentenced to prison
[28 January 2013]

Dick Cheney and the Worship of Torture

The Will to Bend and Break

By Thomas Larson
February 11, 2015
Counter Punch, February 10, 2015

 

Dick-Cheney-3“I knew what I was doing,” Harry Truman said after the atomic bombs he ordered dropped not once but twice on Japanese cities—140,000 people dead in Hiroshima that night; 80,000 three days later in Nagasaki; many thousands more, slowly of radiation sickness. “I have no regrets,” Truman boasted. “Under the same circumstances, I would do it again.”

This, too, was Dick Cheney’s response to December’s Senate Torture Report. It’s “full of crap,” he said. About the program’s infamous twelve enhanced interrogation techniques, he said they were “authorized and approved.” He, like Truman, has “no regrets.” Given the chance, he’d “do it again.” And, he claimed, he hadn’t done anything that hadn’t already been done to the 3000 who died and the thousands who were terrorized on 9/11. (Of all the potential spokespeople for the Bush regime’s torture program—Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, and others—only Cheney manned up for the interview rounds, framing the debate his way: the program worked.) Underneath his justifications we hear Orwell’s double-speak. Cheney’s certainly not the first to twist the language as an argumentative tool.

“Making all-out war saves Americans lives,” General Curtis LeMay said following the Tokyo saturation bombing of March 9/10, 1945, the firestorm incinerating more than 100,000 civilian lives. Much later, in a moment of clarity, he added, “If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.” Americans have a genius for these prevarications. “The U.S. bomber is the most humane of all weapons.” “We must destroy the village in order to save it.” “Work on the dark side, if you will.” “Gitmo saves lives.” Down the marbled hallways of CIA headquarters in Langley, you hear echo, “The lawyers all signed off. So, too, the attorneys general. There’s no time for an ethical debate.”

It’s well to remember that the United States is a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Its definition begins “Torture is any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.” Violations of these protocols should result in criminal prosecution.

For the torturer, the practice is as much physical as psychological. You promise an agonizing death and deliver blows that fall just short of that finality. Impending attack at Antietam or on the beaches of Normandy is torturous. But the actual ensuing warfare ends with your death or your survival and, mercifully, the terror is over. The threat and the act of torture is true enslavement, as though you’ve signed an irrevocable contract. The horror is that it’s never over, that you are indefinitely detained and cannot leave the killing field.

Torture is not for the masses of soldiers or civilians. It’s done away from population centers—at black sites, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib. Treatment is individualized, like Winston Smith’s fear of rats in 1984. Torture gains its power from being hidden, denied, misrepresented, and subject to the chain of command, despite international treaties and moral pledges. How, if it was so secret, did the U.S. treatment of al-Qaeda combatants in Guantanamo deter al-Qaeda combatants on the “battlefield”? Answer: it didn’t, and it wasn’t.

Bush and Cheney demanded the legalization of certain forms of torture to justify the invasion of Iraq and to link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein. It was lawyered by “legal mercenaries” John Yoo and Jay Bybee in the “Torture Memos.” There, they argued that to qualify as being tortured victims must endure “intense” near-fatal experiences such as organ failure, brain damage, or broken limbs. Thus, lesser forms like enforced standing or waterboarding were allowed. Ostensibly the program was about getting “actionable” intelligence, which the Senate report said was unjustified and unnecessary. Why do it then?

In one sense, it’s the Bill Clinton defense: done because we can. In another sense, it’s done to prove, as Mark Danner posits, that the victim didn’t know what his interrogators had convinced themselves he did know. This is a strange idea. It says that the torturer is also a victim. He must learn he’s wrong when he doesn’t get the outcome he wants from the cattle prod. He must fail most of the time. Say, that didn’t work. Let me try again, a bit longer, harder, differently. With such a high likelihood of failure, the idea must be grounded in a lie, in denial, or in a sociopathic mindset. I think the latter gets it: the inability to feel others’ pain. Perhaps the inability to feel pain period. Which is where Dick Cheney and his heart enters in.

The torturer-in-chief indeed has a heart. It’s an organ assembled by modern cardiology. Many times over. Three heart attacks (1978, 1984, 1988) followed by quadruple bypass surgery. Another myocardial infarction, with coronary stenting, during the 2000 Florida recount. Six months later, Cheney was implanted with a cardio-verter defibrillator. (No trouble during his VP reign.) A fifth heart attack came in 2010 when he was fitted with a left ventricular assist device, a computerized blood-pumping turbine, called the “gear.”

These feats of medical science add up to resurrection. Cheney is unlike most heart patients who, after so many attacks, should have died. He suffered but he didn’t expire. He’s unkillable, a kind of bizarre fitness torturers seek in their subjects. Indeed, Cheney’s deathlessness undergirds his persona. If you listen to any reporter-cowling interview he’s ever given, you’ll feel his armor, the model prisoner, impervious to interrogation. Like some suburban vampire, Cheney appears robotic, the epitome of the “undead.”

Deathless? Resurrected? Words we associate with Cheney’s opposite, Jesus Christ, and what the telling of his crucifixion has taught us about suffering. First, we need to rethink the origin of this origin tale. It is rooted not only in the Bible. In fact, if all we had to go on was the Bible, we wouldn’t know Jesus’ pain. Christ’s death, as gloriously painful as it’s supposed to have been, harvesting centuries of repentance, is rendered passively: “they crucified him”’ “that he might be crucified”’ “he was crucified.” Jesus seems to have been as pious in life as he was in dying. Such poor reporting is one reason for the bloodlust of Mel Gibson’s Passion.

But we do feel the crucifixion, thanks (if that’s the right word) to filmmakers, writers, and painters. For example, in Matthias Grunewald’s 1512-1516 Isenheim Altarpiece. There, on the cross, the slumping tautness of the body’s muscles, the ribs bulging under the evaporating skin, reveals the sting of his three-day expiration. His nailing-up was murderous, during which, presumably, he lost consciousness and died.

This death is the core myth of the Jesus propagandists: Christ died for our sins. And the cross, its commemoration everyone is forced to remember. Yet, in God Is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens proposes that Jesus did not die for our sins or our benefit. “The action of a man who volunteers to die for his fellow creatures,” Hitchens writes, “is universally regarded as noble. The extra claim not to have ‘really’ died makes the whole sacrifice tricky and meretricious. . . . Those who say ‘Christ died for my sins,’ when he did not really ‘die’ at all, are making a statement that is false in its own terms.”

His death was not death and his suffering was not torture. Compared to those in Andersonville or Bergen-Belsen, compared to thousands of altar boys repeatedly penetrated by the filthy members of Roman Catholic priests, Christ’s pain was real but brief. Six hours. Taken down, he rose. He walked on water. He ascended. He sits next to God. He became God. He made out. That’s not death. That’s a reward of sorts.

The point—torture is death’s opposite. Torture is a paradox—dying while not dying, the seeming or promised liberation of an end, never arriving. Dead, the pain is—or should be—over. Not so in Christian hell. You are killed again and again. Your punishment is to be resurrected in death so death becomes an eternity spent dying. While alive, you try to outlast your torturer. If you do, you are redeemed. This is the lesson of Louis Zamperini in Unbroken or Primo Levi in Survival in Auschwitz: they faced it, stay focused, got stronger in spirit as the flesh withered, and, years later, could say, each alone, with some luck, was responsible for his endurance.

And, as I said, torture is redemptive for the interrogators. The act of being waterboarded (Abu Zubaydah, 83 times; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 183 times) or electrocuted, sleep-deprived or isolated in darkness, bathed in ice water or mock-executed, redeems the war criminals who practice the art. How? Next time, your friendly bully announces, I’ll hold back. I’ll do only so much. But remember, I could always do more. Way more. I’m sparing you the worst, believe me. I’m letting you live. Letting you live is the cessation and reinvigoration of torture. It’s a gift. Holding back, he self-anoints and parlays his “humanity.” No wonder victims side with their oppressors.

From where does such a system stem? From religion, from religious institutions, from Jews and Christians and their ordinances. (I realize there is more to religion than my damnation of their violent origins. My point is to reinterpret the core myths and show that the victims’ suffering has been ordered.) Torture, religions argue, is what God commands, what God employs, most often, willy-nilly. Isaac’s head on the block; Job’s body smote with boils; Jesus’ bloodletting on the cross. And note what’s common to all three:

a) God the father orders it and intervenes to stop it only when the ghastliness is felt by the victim as abject abandonment;

b) each man, bewildered by why he has to suffer such wrath, believes he has done something to deserve it;

c) religions built on these spectacles place torture at the center of their narratives; those who create and follow the story must worship its creators and followers.

More about the three: Abraham (who hears voices in his head and is convinced of divine agency), Job (whose fate is a roll of the dice, a wager, from God to Satan), and Jesus (whose father has piled on, and Christians believe this literally, the sins of all previous, current, and subsequent human beings so that Jesus, his son, forever feels those sins in some timeless burn while he’s nailed up, which is judged a good thing because such endless agony is proof of God’s love.) Abraham, Job, and Jesus seem childlike to me—in accepting the Father-God’s reasons even though they know, they must know, the wrong being done to them.

What’s striking here is that these three are not enemy combatants. They are the so-called beloved charges of a paternal authority who justifies his action on the suspected failure of his subjects’ faith: they’ve not been faithful enough; they’ve sinned; and they need to be called out. And this even though each, prior to the fall, we are told, evinces exemplary faith. Like Job of whom God, his torturer, first said to Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Like Billy Budd who shouts to the man who decrees he must hang, “God bless Captain Vere.” None groks why he’s been singled out and blames his pride as the cause. To be saved, each one learns, is to have faith in the torturer’s “good intentions” while his body rejects that explanation. Need we be reminded that these tests of belief form the foundational tales that mystify religious thinking.

Speaking of sustenance. Listen again to James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, and the portion (I give just a taste of it from Part III) in which Father Arnall preaches to the boys at Catholic school, “my dear little brothers in Christ.” First he gives an unctuously ceremonial pep talk, then for pages and pages, he hails with Ciceronian elegance, the mighty tableaux of ceaseless torment. For me, Joyce captures the sound of hell in Arnall’s voice and is worthy of the long quotation.

The torment of fire is the greatest torment to which the tyrant has ever subjected his fellow creatures. Place your finger for a moment in the flame of a candle and you will feel the pain of fire. But our earthly fire was created by God for the benefit of man, to maintain in him the spark of life and to help him in the useful arts whereas the fire of hell is of another quality and was created by God to torture and punish the unrepentant sinner. Our earthly fire also consumes more or less rapidly according as the object which it attacks is more or less combustible so that human ingenuity has even succeeded in inventing chemical preparations to check or frustrate its action. But the sulphurous brimstone which burns in hell is a substance which is specially designed to burn for ever and for ever with unspeakable fury. Moreover our earthly fire destroys at the same time as it burns so that the more intense it is the shorter is its duration: but the fire of hell has this property that it preserves that which it burns and though it rages with incredible intensity it rages for ever.

Hell: created by God to torture the unrepentant sinner. A fire that preserves what it burns. Only God in his supreme wickedness could devise such renewable terror—the apotheosis of penance.

We’re fond of saying that any garden-variety fascist has a heart as cold or as dead as Dick Cheney’s heart. I don’t think the simile works. His remodeled heart is anything but dead. It is dear to the jackal’s boot, to Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” “a love of the rack and the screw.” Torture is the brute’s love. Cheney’s ticker is warmed by the adrenalin he feels, impaling others. In his self-defense, Cheney always avoids invoking God: he wants the credit.

We can’t know for certain what Christ’s crucifixion was like, even though the four preferred gospel authors who weren’t there wrote the story of what happened anyway. Still, his conversion to sudden doubt may have merged loyalty and betrayal: so, he may have thought, my enduring this punishment is the road to father’s approval. This depravity and my willingness to take it is the key to knowing what the Sky God desires, the only way to praise him, praise worthy of him: I do as he says.

Indeed, I imagine (indulge me: this is a psychological scenario, not presented as fact) those post-9/11 nights of George W. Bush, worried sick that if he didn’t do as Cheney said, he, Bush, would invite another attack; he’d be wrong, weak, removed from office, snuffed out by a poison dart or a ricin-coated aspirin. Just a small vial of Cheney’s threat was inquisition enough for Bush to redeem himself and do as he was told. And Cheney, the wise torturer, redeemed him: good President. You need not suffer.

When you do not do as you’re told, you are complicit: you self-inflict; you prolong what you need not endure. This Cheney realized was Bush’s gutlessness, soon transformed into camera-ready grit, standing with bullhorn among the twin towers’ ruin. And isn’t that the ultimate weapon—to play your victim’s most vulnerable weakness (“I knew what I was doing”) so that you might bend him, like Christ in his toughest hour, to your will.

Thomas Larson—critic, memoirist, and journalist—is the author of The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reading and Writing Personal Narrative. He is a staff writer for the San Diego Reader and teaches in the MFA program in creative nonfiction at Ashland University.

 

Testimony of Moussaoui in civil suit implicates Saudi monarchy as principle sponsor of Al Qaeda

By Niles Williamson
February 5, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Zacarias Moussaoui provided testimony last October implicating high-ranking members of the Saudi monarchy in funding and supporting al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the years before the attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

This remarkable testimony was submitted this week in a brief filed against a motion to dismiss a longstanding civil lawsuit against the Saudi government for its involvement in the attacks. The brief was submitted on the behalf of relatives of individuals killed in the attacks. The testimony was featured in a lead New York Times article on Wednesday, with much of the material posted on the Times web site.

Moussaoui gave his testimony to lawyers representing the plaintiffs at the Florence, Colorado federal supermax prison. He sent a letter last year to Judge George B. Daniels of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, who is hearing the case, indicating that he wished to testify about what he knew about Saudi connections to Al Qaeda.

He is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to being a coconspirator in the September 11 attacks. Moussaoui was detained by the FBI in Minnesota approximately one month before the attacks on charges of an immigration violation after flight instructors and the flight school he was attending raised suspicions about his intentions.

Moussaoui told the lawyers that he had been responsible for creating an electronic database of Al Qaeda’s financial records for the years 1998 to 1999. He remarked that many of the financial transactions during this time were “between Saudi bank, okay, and a Pakistani bank.”

He told the lawyers that his main task in compiling the financial records was to “create a database of donation to see how much money was being given to Al Qaeda.”

Asked by the lawyers if he remembered any of the individuals donors identified in the database, Moussaoui listed a number of leading members of the Saudi monarchy who were “known within the circle of mujahedeen.” He stated further that “it was all the—the people of importance used to—donate money to bin Laden, that’s my understanding.”

Among the donors Moussaoui recalled were Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a billionaire investment magnate who is one of the wealthiest men in the world; Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, who resigned his position as the director of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency ten days before the 9/11 attacks; Prince Mohammed bin Faisal Al Saud, a leading Saudi banker with banks in Bahrain, Niger, Egypt and Pakistan; and Princess Haifa Al Faisal Al Saud, wife of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Ambassador to the US from 1983 to 2005 and director of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency from 2012 to 2014.

All of these figures have close ties to sections of the American state and intelligence apparatus.

Moussaoui reported that the money coming from the Saudi royals was vital to maintain the organization. “I mean, without the money of the – of the Saudi you will have nothing,” he told the lawyers later in his testimony.

He also recounted an instance in which he traveled to the Saudi embassy in Islamabad and was flown by private jet to Riyadh. There he says he personally delivered letters from bin Laden to Prince Adbullah, later the king of Saudi Arabia; Prince Bandar; Prince Salman, the current Saudi king; and Al-Waleed bin Talal. Returning to Pakistan on a private jet he delivered two letters from Prince Turki to bin Laden.

Moussaoui recalled another instance in Pakistan in which he met with an individual from the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, DC’s Islamic Affairs Department named Abu Omar Muawiya. He claims that they discussed a plot to shoot down Air Force One with a stinger missile that would be smuggled into the country through the Saudi embassy. He told the lawyers that the plan was never put into action because Moussaoui was arrested before he could travel to Washington.

In his testimony, Moussaoui also implicated members of Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, the Senior Council of Ulema, as donors to Al Qaeda. Bin Laden was operating Al Qaeda, according to Moussaoui, “with the express advice and consent and directive of the Ulema.”

Moussaoui’s account broadly conforms to what is already known about the open secret of the 9/11 attacks: that they were largely financed by one of the US’s chief allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, headed by a monarchical family that has had close ties to the state apparatus, and in particular the Bush administration.

Almost all of the alleged hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens. The official 9/11 Commission Report, which largely whitewashes the many unanswered questions about the circumstances that led up to the attacks, documents some of the ties. Two of the hijackers in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon were allowed to freely travel into the US, where they met with an individual with ties to Saudi intelligence and a supply of money from Saudi Arabia.

The Bush administration also organized a flight out of the US for high-ranking members of the Saudi ruling class, including members of the bin Laden family, in the days after the September 11 attacks.

Affidavits were also submitted on Monday in support of continuing the civil suit by former Senators Bob Kerrey and Bob Graham as well as former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, calling for further investigations into Saudi ties to Al Qaeda and the September 11 attacks. Kerrey and Lehman served on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which produced the 9/11 Commission Report.

Graham was the co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the activities of the intelligence community leading up to the attack. He has demanded the publication of 28 still classified pages from the report published by the Inquiry in 2002 that implicate Saudi Arabia as a chief financier of the attacks.

Both the Bush and the Obama administrations have obstructed the release of the classified 28 pages.

The author also recommends: Obama administration continues to block report on Saudi financing of 9/11 attacks

New Senate Intelligence Committee chair moves to suppress CIA torture report

By Patrick Martin
January 24, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The new Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, sent a letter last week to the White House demanding the Obama administration return all copies of the full report on CIA torture whose executive summary was made public last month.

The letter to Obama asked that “all copies of the full and final report in the possession of the executive branch be returned immediately,” according to several press reports. The request is unprecedented in relations between the legislative and executive branch, where historically it is usually the legislature seeking more information and the executive branch declining to provide it.

In this case, the legislative branch is seeking to recall (and likely suppress) copies of a report which the new majority in the Senate regards as too critical of the CIA and too revealing of the methods employed by the intelligence agency in its brutal interrogations of prisoners at secret “black site” facilities in Europe and Asia, as well as at Guantanamo Bay.

The Senate Intelligence Committee produced a 6,900-page report on the CIA torture program, which still remains completely secret. The 512-page executive summary was released last month, albeit with extensive redactions, along with dissenting opinions by the Republican minority on the panel and by the CIA itself.

While official Washington and the corporate-controlled media have largely shelved the report, after an initial flurry of publicity, the executive summary has become a best seller with the American public. When a small publisher brought out the executive summary as a paperback book December 31, the entire 50,000-copy press run was sold out the first day, making a second press run necessary to meet the demand.

Senator Burr did not give any public explanation for seeking the return of copies of the full report, but press accounts suggested that he was seeking to put the document out of reach of requests under the Freedom of Information Act, which applies to the executive branch but not to Congress.

The White House, the CIA, the FBI and other executive branch agencies have occasionally been forced to divulge documents under court order following FOIA lawsuits filed by news organizations or civil liberties groups.

Restricting the number of copies circulating in Washington would also make it less likely that the document would be leaked to the press.

Burr has defended the brutal practices employed by CIA interrogators, including waterboarding, sadistic beatings, sodomizing prisoners through “rectal rehydration”, and lengthy sleep deprivation. He has also denounced the Intelligence Committee report’s conclusion that CIA officials lied to both Congress and the White House about the torture program and its results.

The Republican senator has adamantly opposed any investigation into CIA crimes since he joined the Intelligence Committee. He was once quoted saying that he opposed any public hearings of any kind on the activities of the US intelligence apparatus, on grounds of “national security.”

In his letter to Obama, Burr said that he considered the report “to be highly classified and a committee sensitive document,” and insisted that it “should not be entered into any executive branch system of records.”

Burr also indicated he would return to the CIA an internal CIA document, dubbed the “Panetta review.” This document was a 1,000-page internal review of the torture program prepared for Leon Panetta, then the director of the CIA, in 2010. According to those who have read it, the Panetta review contradicts the public posture of the CIA that the torture program was consistent with international law and effective in gaining intelligence on future terrorist attacks.

Senate committee staff came across the Panetta review in the course of the examination of more than 6 million pages of CIA material on the torture program. The agency had intended to withhold this document from the committee, even though the panel is supposed to exercise legislative oversight over the operations of the intelligence agencies, and the Panetta review was clearly relevant to the committee investigation.

The Panetta review became the occasion for further CIA crimes, as the agency assigned a group of five agents to find out how the Senate committee staff had gained access to the document. These agents conducted surveillance of the Senate panel’s computer system, including email exchanges. Senator Dianne Feinstein, then the committee’s chairman, denounced this surveillance as illegal and unconstitutional in a speech last March on the floor of the Senate.

CIA Director John Brennan initially denied the spying on the Senate committee had taken place but was later forced to admit it and issue an apology to the committee. The whole matter was then swept under the rug, with a CIA review panel deciding earlier this month that no charges would be brought against any of the five agents.

Now the new Republican chairman of the committee plans to return the Panetta review to the CIA, burying the issue for good.

Several Democratic members of the Intelligence Committee publicly opposed Burr’s actions. Feinstein issued a statement January 20 saying, “I strongly disagree that the administration should relinquish copies of the full committee study, which contains far more detailed records than the public executive summary.”

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said returning the document would “aid defenders of torture who are seeking to cover up the facts and rewrite the historical record.”

However, these Democrats all accepted the countless redactions demanded by the CIA in the executive summary, with the support of the White House, and have rubber-stamped Obama’s decision that neither the CIA torturers nor the White House and Justice Department officials who approved the torture program would be prosecuted.

Feinstein, Wyden & Co. agreed from the very beginning to focus the investigation solely on the CIA itself, and leave out President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other top officials who ordered and sanctioned torture and created the spurious legal rationales for it.

 

The author also recommends:

Behind whitewash of CIA spying: The trail leads to the White House
[17 January 2015]

Washington buries the CIA torture report
[8 January 2015]