Tag Archives: Obama Administration

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.

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:

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[8 January 2015]

“The ISIS Leader Does Not Exist”: The US Military’s Stunning Conspiracy Theory Emerges From The Archives

By Tyler Durden
January 20, 2015
Zero Hedge

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Alleged ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Having noted that voter angst has been riled, propagandized, and fear-mongered to the point at which the most pressing priority for Congress is to ‘fix’ terrorism, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that we discover – deep down in the archives – that giving the public someone to ‘hate’ as opposed to something may have been an entire fiction. As The New York Times exposed in 2007Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, the titular head of the Islamic State, according to Brigadier General Kevin Bergner – the chief American military spokesman at the time – never existed (and was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima).

Via The New York Times (2007),

For more than a year, the leader of one the most notorious insurgent groups in Iraq was said to be a mysterious Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi.

As the titular head of the Islamic State in Iraq, an organization publicly backed by Al Qaeda, Baghdadi issued a steady stream of incendiary pronouncements. Despite claims by Iraqi officials that he had been killed in May, Baghdadi appeared to have persevered unscathed.

On Wednesday, a senior American military spokesman provided a new explanation for Baghdadi’s ability to escape attack: He never existed.

Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, the chief American military spokesman, said the elusive Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima.

The ruse, Bergner said, was devised by Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who was trying to mask the dominant role that foreigners play in that insurgent organization.

The ploy was to invent Baghdadi, a figure whose very name establishes his Iraqi pedigree, install him as the head of a front organization called the Islamic State of Iraq and then arrange for Masri to swear allegiance to him. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, sought to reinforce the deception by referring to Baghdadi in his video and Internet statements.

The evidence for the American assertions, Bergner announced at a news briefing, was provided by an Iraqi insurgent: Khalid Abdul Fatah Daud Mahmud al-Mashadani, who was said to have been captured by American forces in Mosul on July 4.

According to Bergner, Mashadani is the most senior Iraqi operative in Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. He got his start in the Ansar al-Sunna insurgent group before joining Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia more than two years ago, and became the group’s “media emir” for all of Iraq. Bergner said that Mashadani was also an intermediary between Masri in Iraq and bin Laden and Zawahiri, whom the Americans assert support and guide their Iraqi affiliate.

“Mashadani confirms that al-Masri and the foreign leaders with whom he surrounds himself, not Iraqis, made the operational decisions” for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Bergner said.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and a Middle East expert, said that experts had long wondered whether Baghdadi actually existed. “There has been a question mark about this,” he said.

Nonetheless, Riedel suggested that the disclosures made Wednesday might not be the final word on Baghdadi and the leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Even Mashadani’s assertions,Riedel said, might be a cover story to protect a leader who does in fact exist.

“First, they say we have killed him,” Riedel said, referring to the statements by some Iraqi government officials. “Then we heard him after his death and now they are saying he never existed. That suggests that our intelligence on Al Qaeda in Iraq is not what we want it to be.”

American military spokesmen insist they have gotten to the truth on Baghdadi.Mashadani, they say, provided his account because he resented the role of foreign leaders in Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. They say he has not repudiated the organization.

Read more here…

Ironman 3 anyone?

*  *  *

So he was a ghost back then…. is he a ghost again, a propaganda test-tube baby designed purely to put a face on ISIS and the biggest bogeyman of the current global anti-terrorist mania, so necessary to boost global QE in lieu of a world war (for now)?

It’s certainly easier for an average joe to ‘hate’ a demonic leader than an amorphous ‘thing’ called ‘Radical Islam’ – just ask President Obama.

The coming fight over wages in the US

By Jerry White
January 19, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Amidst general proclamations of “economic recovery” in the United States, there is a nervousness coming from some sections of the corporate and political elite over the consequences of the real state of social relations in the country—above all, extraordinary levels of social inequality. Several leading newspapers and think tanks have pointed to the long-term stagnation of wages and the lack of social mobility, especially among young workers, as the catalyst for a potentially explosive eruption of class conflict in 2015.

In a January 17 blog entry, “Driving the Obama Tax Plan: The Great Wage Slowdown,” New York Times columnist David Leonhardt writes, “Wages and incomes for most Americans have now been stagnant for 15 years. They rose at a mediocre pace for much of President Bush’s tenure in the 2000s, before falling sharply during the financial crisis that dominated the end of his presidency.” Leonhardt claims that Obama “helped break the back of the crisis”; however he adds that “the recovery on his watch has been decidedly mediocre, too — especially in terms of paychecks.”

What is involved is a historic restructuring of class relations in the United States. Leonhardt notes, “There is little modern precedent for a period of income stagnation lasting as long as this one. Official records don’t exist before World War II. But the best estimate is that the Great Depression may be the only other modern time in which incomes for most households in the United States have grown so slowly—or not at all—for so long.”

Sections of the ruling class are well aware that these conditions are building up to the eruption of social struggle. Leonhardt cites a new report by the Democratic Party-aligned Center for American Progress, in which its coauthors—Bill Clinton’s former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and British Labour Party Financial Minister Ed Balls—warn, “When democratic governments and market systems cannot deliver such prosperity to their citizens, the result is political alienation, a loss of social trust, and increasing conflict across the lines of race, class, and ethnicity…”

Leonhardt, following the line of Summers and Balls, presents the historic decline of wages in the United States as the outcome of cosmic economic forces—globalization, disparities in education, technological change and the like—divorced from any analysis of the policies of the ruling class and its political representatives. While counseling his readers that “no politician, of either party, can quickly alter the basic forces behind the great wage slowdown,” he hails a number of paltry proposals of the Obama administration as a significant step toward resolving the growth of social inequality.

In fact, the slashing of wages has been the deliberate policy of successive Democratic and Republican administrations over the last three and a half decades, starting with the administrations of Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan. Responding to the globalization of production and the long-term decline of American capitalism, the ruling class went on the offensive: a systematic campaign that involved the destruction of tens of millions of industrial jobs, wage cutting and union busting on the one hand, and the encouraging of the most reckless forms of financial parasitism on the other.

This process has vastly accelerated under Obama. Beginning with the forced bankruptcy and restructuring of the auto industry in 2009, which led to the halving of wages for tens of thousands of new hires, the Obama administration exploited chronically high levels of unemployment to transform American workers into a highly exploited and cheap labor workforce, hired and fired at will, with no job security, guaranteed hours or wages and benefits.

As a result, the proportion of labor’s share of the gross domestic product—in the form of wages, benefits and government outlays for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—is now at the lowest level since the Second World War. At the same time, the share of the GDP siphoned off by corporate profits is at the highest postwar level.

With consummate cynicism, Obama, in his State of the Union address tomorrow, is expected to call on Congress to pass a tax increase on capital gains and the biggest financial firms to fund tax credits for childcare and college tuition assistance. The effort is a gigantic political fraud, since the president knows that the Republican-controlled Congress will not pass any of these proposals.

What is most striking about the proposals to deal with wage stagnation is their paucity. Even if the Obama administration passed its meager tax proposal, this would do nothing to reverse the historic decline of working-class living standards. Every other proposal, including talk about “profit-sharing” and “employee stock ownership,” is aimed at further tying the fate of the working class to American capitalism and the struggle for market share and profits.

In its efforts to forestall independent action from the working class over wages, the ruling class is also seeking to mobilize the right-wing, pro-corporate trade unions. Earlier this month, the AFL-CIO—which has been instrumental in suppressing the class struggle and driving down wages in the name of increasing the profits and international competitive position of American capitalism—held a “National Summit on Raising Wages” in Washington, DC.

The keynote address, delivered by Democratic president hopeful Elizabeth Warren, was filled with demagogy about social inequality and Wall Street greed, along with obsequious praise for the trade union functionaries she was addressing. In her empty fulminations, the Massachusetts senator avoided any criticism of the Obama administration itself, which has funneled trillions of dollars to the banks as part of the greatest transfer of wealth in American history.

The emergence of a movement by workers in the United States and throughout the world to fight for better living standards is inevitable. Young workers and students in particular confront a future of economic insecurity worse than their parents or even grandparents.

To successfully carry out this fight, the working class must be armed with a clear perspective and strategy. This means the formation of independent rank-and-file committees, organized in opposition to the trade unions, which are modern-day businesses run by businessmen, absolutely dedicated to the defense of the capitalist system and the subordination of the working class to the Democratic Party.

The experiences of the working class over the last three and a half decades have shown that such a fight, however, involves a struggle not just against this or that greedy employer or political administration but the entire economic and political system of capitalism.

In other words, this is a political struggle, which will require uniting the working class—black, white, immigrant and native-born, young and old, in the United States and internationally—on the basis of a common revolutionary perspective and program. The capitalist system has failed and must be replaced with socialism, the rational organization of the world economy on the basis of democratic control and production for human need, not private profit.

Local Syria ceasefires: The way out of a US policy dead end?

Local ceasefires can be successful, but first the United States must free itself from entangling regional alliances

By Gareth Porter
January 18, 2015
Middle East Eye, January 16, 2015

 

Photo: Even Islamic State fighters concluded a local ceasefire deal – with a civil society organisation in Aleppo (AFP)

US contradictions between the Obama administration’s policy in Syria and realities on the ground have become so acute that US officials began last November discussing a proposal calling for support of local ceasefires between opposition forces and the Assad regime in dozens of locations across Syria.

The proposal surfaced in two articles in Foreign Policy magazine and in a column by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. Their appearance indicated that the idea was under serious consideration by administration officials. In fact, the proposal may even have played a role in a series of four White House meetings during the week of 6-13 November to discuss Syria policy, one of which Obama himself presided over.

Ignatius, who usually reflects the views of senior national security officials, suggested that the administration has nothing better to offer than the proposal. And Robert Ford, who served as US ambassador to Syria until last May and is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, told David Kenner of Foreign Policy that he believes the White House “is likely to latch onto” the idea of local ceasefires “in the absence of any other plan they’ve been able to develop”.

The proposal also appears to parallel the thinking behind the efforts of new United Nations peace envoy Steffan de Mistura, who has called for the creation of what he calls “freeze zones” – meaning local ceasefires that would allow humanitarian aid to reach civilian populations.

The fact that the proposal is being taken seriously is especially notable, because it does not promise to achieve the aims of existing policy. Instead, it offers a way out of a policy that could not possibly deliver on the results it promised.

But the implication of such a policy shift would be a tacit acknowledgement that the US cannot achieve its previous stated goal of unseating the Assad regime in Syria. The Obama administration would certainly deny any such implication, at least initially, for domestic political as well as foreign policy reasons, but the policy would refocus on the immediate need of saving lives and promoting peace, rather than on unrealistic political or military ambitions.

US Syrian policy lurched from Obama’s abortive plan to launch an air war against the Assad regime in September 2013 to the idea that the US would help train thousands of “moderate” Syrian opposition fighters to resist the threat from Islamic State (IS) in September 2014.  But the “moderate” forces have no interest in fighting IS. And in any case, they have long-ceased to be a serious rival of IS and other jihadi forces in Syria.

It was no accident that the alternative policy surfaced in November, just as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had been completely routed from its bases in the north by IS forces. Post columnist Ignatius, whose writing is almost always informed by access to senior national security officials, not only mentioned that rout as the context in which a proposal was presented in Washington, but quoted from three messages the desperate FSA commander under attack sent to the US military, requesting air support.

The author of the paper that appears to have struck a chord in Washington, Nir Rosen, is a journalist whose depth of knowledge of human realities on the ground in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, is unmatched. His personal encounters with the people and organisations that fought in those conflicts, recounted in his 2010 book, Aftermath, reveal nuances of motives and calculations that can be found nowhere else in the literature.

Rosen now works for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, which was active in bringing about the local ceasefire in Homs, considered the most significant such achievement so far. Rosen gave Robert Malley, the senior NSC official responsible for Syria, a 55-page, single-spaced report, making the case for a policy of supporting the negotiation of local ceasefires, which also calls for “freezing the war as it is”.  The report is based on the twin premises that neither side can defeat the other militarily, and that the resulting stalemate strengthens the Islamic State and its jihadi allies in Syria, according to James Traub’s story in Foreign Policy.

Negotiating local deals under the conditions of the Syrian war is devilishly difficult, as an examination of 35 different local deals by researchers at the London School of Economics and the Syrian NGO Madani shows. Most of the deals were prompted by the Syrian regime’s strategy of besieging opposition enclaves, which meant the regime’s forces were hoping to impose terms that were nothing less than surrender. Sometimes local pro-government militias frustrated potential deals, because of a combination sectarian score-settling and because they were gaining corrupt economic advantages from the sieges they were imposing. (In other cases, however, the pro-government NDF militias lent their support to local deals.)

The Syrian regime ultimately recognised that its interests lay in a successful deal in Homs, but the researchers found that the farther military commanders were from the location of fighting, the more they clung to the idea that military victory was still possible. The primary source of pressure for ceasefire, not surprisingly, was from the civilians, who suffered the consequences of the conflict most heavily. The study observes that the larger the ratio of civilians to fighters in the opposition enclave the stronger the commitment to a ceasefire.

Both the LSE-Madani study and the Integrity Research paper say that international support in the form of both mediators and truce monitors would help establish both clearer arrangements and legal commitments for ceasefire, safe passage and opening routes of humanitarian assistance. Homs is an example of a deal where the UN actually plays a positive role in influencing the implementation of the truce, according to Integrity.

The small steps toward peace and reconciliation that the local truces represent are highly vulnerable unless they lead to a comprehensive process. Even though the challenge from IS is a shadow over the entire process, it is an approach that is likely to be more effective than escalating foreign military involvement. And surprising as it may seem, the LSE-Madani study reveals that even IS concluded a ceasefire deal with a civil society organisation in Aleppo.

But even if the Obama administration recognises the advantages of the proposal of the local ceasefire approach for Syria, it cannot be assumed that it will actually carry out the policy. The reason is the heavy influence of its relations with its main regional allies on Washington. Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar would all reject a policy that would allow a regime they regard as an Iranian ally to persist in Syria. Unless and until the United States can figure out a way to free its Middle East policy from its entangling regional alliances, its policy in Syria will be confused, contradictory and feckless.

– Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian writing on US national security policy.  His latest book, “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” was published in February 2014.

Europe’s terror attacks: The blowback from Western intervention

By Bill Van Auken
January 17, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of January 7 in Paris, police across Europe have launched a wave of arrests, rounding up dozens of alleged Islamist militants, many of whom have reportedly traveled to and from Syria, where the US and its allies have fomented a bloody civil war.

Amid press reports of imminent plots being disrupted, it is evident that European security officials were well aware of who the alleged plotters were and had been closely following their movements and activities.

The media, throwing itself into the state-backed campaign to terrorize the public, fails to ask the most obvious questions. How is it, for example, that these individuals were able to freely travel to a foreign war zone, fight there, and then return, no questions asked?

The most obvious answer is that they enjoyed the acquiescence, if not direct support, of elements within the state itself. They were left alone until now because they were deemed to be useful.

For nearly four years, Washington and its Western European allies—France first among them—have politically orchestrated and helped finance and arm a war for regime-change in Syria in which Islamist fighters, like the men who carried out the mass killing at the offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, have served as the principal ground troops.

Weapons, foreign fighters and money have been sent into Syria largely through Turkey, where the CIA set up a secret station to coordinate these operations. Much of the arms and aid flowing to the imperialist-backed “rebels” have come from Washington’s key Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Two organizations have emerged as the preeminent armed opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: the Al Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a split-off that has been condemned by Al Qaeda itself for its excessive brutality.

German reporter Jürgen Todenhöfer, the first Western journalist to travel through ISIS-held areas in Syria since the outset of the latest US-led war in the region, reported last month that fully 70 percent of those fighting to overthrow Syria’s Assad regime are foreign fighters, funneled into the country from throughout the Middle East, Chechnya, Western Europe, North America and elsewhere. According to a recent US government estimate, as many as 1,000 foreign fighters are joining these militias each month.

The death toll in Syria approaches 200,000. Terrorist attacks, mass executions and other crimes have for years been carried out there by the same elements that committed the killings in Paris, without a word of protest from the official circles now promoting the “Je suis Charlie” campaign. They were doing the West’s dirty work.

With the entry of ISIS into Iraq last summer, however, today’s imperialist crimes collided with those of yesterday, creating a serious crisis. The debacle suffered by the Iraqi army at the hands of ISIS was the product of nearly nine years of US war and occupation that ravaged the country, claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, turned millions into refugees, and provoked an intense Shia-Sunni sectarian conflict.

Washington and its allies moved quickly to exploit this crisis, organizing a bombing campaign in both Iraq and Syria and sending thousands of US troops back into Iraq. Yesterday’s proxy forces in the war for regime-change in Syria were transformed into today’s enemies in the revived “war on terror.” This is the political context for the attack in Paris and the warnings of threatened attacks elsewhere.

This is hardly a new story. US imperialism has for over half a century given its support to Islamist forces, with the aim of combating secular nationalist movements and regimes bent on asserting control over the region’s oil wealth or cementing close ties with the Soviet Union.

The most famous example is Afghanistan, where the CIA, working in close collaboration with Pakistani intelligence, sponsored a war by Islamist fundamentalist forces to overthrow a Soviet-backed government in Kabul. The forces that would later emerge as Al Qaeda played a key role in this operation.

Since then, virtually all those designated as prominent targets and suspects in the “war on terror” are individuals well known to the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

There are the 9/11 attacks themselves, in which the principal hijackers enjoyed close ties to the government of Saudi Arabia, Washington’s key ally in the Arab world. More than 13 years after the event, the US government has refused to declassify 28 pages from a report produced by a congressional investigation into the September 11 events that deal with Saudi financing for the attacks. Key organizers of the attack were under direct surveillance by the CIA, but were allowed to enter, leave and re-enter the US freely, without even possessing proper visas. Once in the US, they were allowed to train as commercial jet aircraft pilots.

Then there is the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim cleric who was assassinated in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Now blamed for a host of alleged plots, including providing direction to the Paris gunmen, al-Awlaki had intimate ties with the American state. He became the first imam to conduct a prayer service for Muslim congressional staff members at the US Capitol in 2002. Months after the 9/11 attacks, he was brought to the Pentagon to speak on easing tensions between Muslims and the US military.

More recently, in the case of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the key suspect in the attack, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was not only under surveillance by the FBI, but was targeted for recruitment as an informant against the Muslim community. Tsarnaev, who was killed four days after the bombing, was allowed to travel freely to and from southern Russia, meeting with Islamists fighting the Moscow government. Moscow itself warned US authorities about his activities not once, but twice.

As for the gunmen killed last week in Paris, it is acknowledged that they had been under surveillance by not only French, but also US and British intelligence.

How is it that those under surveillance by and in direct contact with police and intelligence agencies are the authors of one terrorist attack after another? The possibility of deliberate provocation can by no means be excluded. It is impossible to say for certain in each of these events whether some form of CIA skullduggery was involved, with events allowed to transpire, carried out by individuals known to the state, either through acts of omission or commission by the authorities.

The media’s attempt to present those involved in these acts of terrorism as mysterious and unknown individuals is fraudulent. On Friday, they reported in succession the mass arrests in Paris and the rollout of new US plans to fund and train Syrian “rebels.” There was no examination of the connection between these developments.

After the first decade of the “global war on terrorism,” in which Al Qaeda was portrayed as an existential threat, these same forces were employed as proxies in Western-backed wars for regime-change against secular Arab governments, first in Libya and then Syria. Now, their actions are once again being exploited to promote war abroad and repression at home.

Ultimately, attacks like the one carried out on Charlie Hebdo are the product of decades of imperialist intervention in the Middle East. The wars that have devastated one country after another have unleashed a wave of violence that cannot but spill beyond the region. Meanwhile, Washington and its allies promote and work with the very forces involved in these attacks.

Behind whitewash of CIA spying: The trail leads to the White House

By Thomas Gaist and Patrick Martin
January 17, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Only a day after the final CIA whitewash of its unconstitutional spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, documents released by the agency reveal that the Obama White House knew in advance that CIA operatives had been ordered to investigate the legislative panel, which has legal responsibility for overseeing the agency.

An Accountability Board appointed by CIA Director John Brennan handed down its official finding Wednesday that the five CIA operatives who broke into Senate Intelligence Committee computers and read staff email were acting in good faith and that their spying was “reasonable.”

The five-member panel included former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, former White House Counsel Bob Bauer and three unnamed CIA officials (so much for accountability!). The panel rejected the findings of the agency’s own Inspector General, David Buckley, prepared last July, which condemned the spying on the Senate committee and referred it to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.

Along with the Accountability Board report, however, the CIA was also compelled to release a redacted version of Buckley’s report, which it had been fighting to keep secret, opposing Freedom of Information Act requests from several news organizations.

One attachment to the Buckley report is a memorandum from one of the five CIA operatives, a lawyer for the agency, which makes the remarkable admission about Brennan’s prior consultation with the White House before the intrusion into the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computer system.

This was a special computer system set up by the CIA itself to handle some six million pages of documents on torture in CIA secret prisons between 2002 and 2007, which became the basis for the 6,300-page report prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the 512-page summary released to the public—again in redacted form—last month.

At some point during 2013, the CIA learned that the Senate committee staff had obtained a copy of an internal document dubbed the “Panetta report.” This was a summary of the evidence of CIA torture, prepared for then-director Leon Panetta in 2012 that undercut the CIA’s official pretense that it had never tortured prisoners at “black sites” in Europe and Asia.

CIA Director Brennan ordered an investigation into how the document came into the hands of the Senate committee staff, and then met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to brief him on the plan. Following this meeting (whose contents remains top secret), Brennan called the CIA attorney who was part of the group of five investigating the Senate committee, and told him to use “whatever means necessary” to find the source of the leak.

“The conversation with McDonough came after Brennan first issued the directive, but before he reiterated it to a CIA attorney leading the probe,” the internal CIA report states.

This is nothing short of a smoking gun, demonstrating direct involvement of the Obama White House in actions which Senate Democrats publicly condemned as unconstitutional and illegal. Obama himself was more than likely consulted, given the sensitivity of the issue and his own close ties to Brennan, the head of counterterrorism at the White House before he was named CIA director.

McDonough and Obama are known to have an extremely close relationship, particularly on national security matters, as demonstrated by reports at the time of Obama’s decision, in August 2013, to pull back on plans for air strikes on Syria. After initially approving the military action, Obama went for a walk with McDonough, during which the two discussed the order to attack Syria and agreed it should be rescinded. No other White House or Pentagon officials were involved in the process.

The memorandum from the CIA lawyer suggests that he was well aware that discussing the spying on the Senate with the White House could be a political bombshell if it was subsequently revealed. He wrote of his conversation with Brennan: “I cautioned that discussing this matter with the WH, at this stage, was problematic, as it could later be viewed as WH interference in a potential criminal investigation.”

The memorandum continues:

“I repeatedly counseled the Director, as well as [redacted] and [the Director of the Office of Congressional Affairs], that it was unwise to ask the WH for direction as to a possible criminal investigation… If the WH were to order the inquiry stopped, it could constitute an act in furtherance of obstruction of justice. At the least, it could be interpreted that way by Congressional critics and the press. Merely consulting with the WH would place the director in a bad light, making it appear that he was politicizing a potential criminal matter.”

In the upside-down world of the CIA, the “criminal investigation” was being conducted by the agency, the “crime” was the Senate staff obtaining the Panetta review, and “obstruction of justice” would be any effort to prevent the CIA from spying on the Senate. Nonetheless, the use of such language is extraordinary, and goes far to explain the frenzied efforts of both the CIA and the Obama White House to block the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture and all other associated documents.

It should be pointed out here that McDonough, who had advance warning from Brennan that the CIA was spying on the Senate committee, was later designated by Obama to “mediate” disputes between the agency and the committee over the declassification of the torture report. Throughout this process, McDonough sided with the CIA. Members of the Senate committee complained that the White House backed CIA demands for redaction of even the pseudonyms given to CIA agents, including those who directly perpetrated acts of torture.

In response to the final whitewash of the CIA by the Accountability Board, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was chairman of the Intelligence Committee during the preparation of the torture report, issued a statement declaring, “I continue to believe CIA’s actions constituted a violation of the constitutional separation of powers.”

Feinstein said she was “disappointed that no one at the CIA will be held accountable,” but was conspicuously silent about the role played by the White House in both the cover-up of CIA torture and the intrusion into the Senate committee’s computers.

The Brennan-McDonough meeting sheds new light on the July 2014 declaration of the Obama Justice Department that it “had no prosecutorial interest” in the CIA spying on the Senate committee. Any such prosecution would have had to follow a trail that led straight to the highest officials in the White House.

Both the circumstances behind the obstruction of the Senate report on CIA torture, and the report itself, reveal criminality at the highest levels of the state—under both the Bush and the Obama administrations. Yet no one has been held accountable, and the entire matter has been almost entirely dropped by the media.

The authors also recommend:

CIA torture: American democracy in shambles
[11 December 2014]

The Most-Censored News Story of 2014 Was ____What?_____.

By Eric Zuesse
January 14, 2015
Global Research

 

censoredThere is only one ongoing news story that’s being systematically censored out of virtually all U.S. news media. This has been the finding from a first-of-its-kind test of virtually all U.S. news media that report national and international news. The most-censored news story during 2014 will be identified here.

The method that I employed in order to determine how heavily the U.S. press censors out a particular news story is: Throughout 2014 I constantly submitted original news reports, regarding specifically the topics that were (and still are) most widely considered by journalists (and often also by historians, and by other interested segments of the American public) to be the most puzzling and the least coherently explained and reported ongoing news stories in the American press. Prominent recent examples of such news stories are (and most of the examples that are being cited here come from my own news reports on them, my actual tests of these stories, as was summarized by me in mid-2014 here, and so that’s where you’ll find the details on these ongoing heavily-censored stories):

Barack Obama’s zero prosecutions of bank CEOs who were implicated by Senator Carl Levin’s Committee, and by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice, and by other federal investigations, into the cause of the 2008 economic collapse and the resulting soaring Federal Government (i.e., taxpayer) indebtedness (bailouts) in order to recover from this collapse, which was clearly caused by an explosion in mortgage-backed-securities frauds, though none of the implicated CEOs — the people who were in command and who were making billions from these MBS frauds — was prosecuted for it;

Obama’s zero prosecutions also of the individuals who participated in America’s illegal torture program after 9/11, including George W. Bush and possibly also Barack Obama himself (as being an accessory-after-the-fact for his covering up their crimes, if not possibly even as his being a continuer of some of those crimes);

The failure of any of the State Department’s Environmental Impact studies of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline to calculate, or even to employ investigators who possessed scientific backgrounds relevant to the calculation of, the likely impact that the proposed pipeline would have on raising the Earth’s mean temperature during coming centuries and millennia — the commonly called “global warming” impact of the pipeline, if built and used — and the amount of sheer corruption which was involved in those Federal studies;

The massacre in Odessa Ukraine on 2 May 2014 of opponents of the coup that the U.S. had carried out via the State Deportment, CIA and other agencies, which coup had overthrown (on 22 February 2014) the Russia-friendly, democratically elected, Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych;

The subsequent U.S.-sponsored Ukrainian ethnic cleansing program which has been carried out since then by the U.S.-backed new Ukrainian regime in order to eliminate the voters in the area of Ukraine called Donbass, which had voted 90% for Yanukovych and which voters therefore presented the threat of possibly electing out-of-office the Obama-installed leaders and thus of restoring a Russia-friendly person to Ukraine’s Presidency.

Those news stories are the main contestants that I have come up with as having been possibly the most-censored news story of 2014. I tested also other ongoing but under-reported news stories (by submitting, to virtually all national U.S. news media, the news reports I did regarding all of the various contesting ongoing suppressed news stories), but the few ongoing news stories, that are listed here, provide some sense of the sorts of news events and stories which I was testing, throughout this past year.

Without question, the most-censored news story of 2014, as determined by this test — a test that I have been constantly carrying out ever since the May 2nd massacre that the new Ukrainian Government perpetrated in Odessa — is precisely the Ukrainian news story: it’s the winner of my contest. This ongoing news story started with the February 22nd coup, then included the May 2nd massacre which led to Donbass’s secession from Ukraine, and it finally is continuing with this ethnic cleansing of Donbass. The purpose of the May 2nd massacre was, in fact, to terrify the pro-Russians in Ukraine’s southeast — especially in Donbass, the most pro-Russian area — so as to precipitate the secession of Donbass, so that there would then be an excuse for the Ukrainian Government to bomb it and so to get rid of the residents there, whose overwhelming votes had clearly made Yanukovych Ukraine’s President. The Obama regime doesn’t want the people there; it wants only the land on which they live. It needs this in order to be able to place nuclear missiles there, aimed against next-door Russia. The Obama Administration’s game-plan is to keep the land, and to kill the people who are living on it.

This sequence of events has been major news, and it’s been thoroughly suppressed in the U.S.

I have found that, whereas I was able to place, at some mainstream and some alternative-news sites, even news reports about President Obama’s violations of his publicly stated policy-commitments, and other such ‘controversial’ matters, only around a half-dozen news-media accepted even a single one of my numerous news-reports about the Ukrainian coup and its aftermaths — events that might even lead to a World War III, and that therefore are unquestionably important news events, which the public in a democracy ought to know about.

Not even President Obama’s promise in which he privately assured the assembled CEOs of Wall Street, at the beginning of his Administration, that he would not prosecute any of them, but instead would protect all of them from being prosecuted — and his following through with that secret promise — not even this protection by him of the mega-bank CEOs, has been as heavily censored out of the American press as has been the Ukrainian story.

Consequently, America’s press-lords are even more determined and united to suppress the reality in Ukraine than they are to suppress the reality about America’s 2008 economic crash and the resulting bailouts and soaring federal debt. There is something about the Ukrainian story that has caused virtually all owners of America’s news media to be determined to prohibit the American public from knowing the reality there. (See here how much in fear of losing their jobs the reporters throughout the West are, and how they are kept in line by their publishers and by the editors whom their publishers hire.)

This finding is, itself, like all of my news reports and commentaries, being distributed free of charge to virtually all U.S. national-news media (print, TV, and radio). The few media that will publish it are likely to be the same ones that have carried one or more of my news reports about the situation in Ukraine (and that’s fewer than ten). As regards all other American news media: those are the ones that are covering-up this important matter — not reporting it to their readers, viewers, and listeners.

It’s clear that they have been covering it up, because they certainly have been informed of the numerous events in this ongoing news-story about Ukraine after May 2nd: I and other investigative journalists have been submitting honest and well-researched and well-written news stories to them throughout that time regarding this U.S.-initiated and backed Ukrainian ethnic-cleansing program.

There is, for some reason, virtual unanimity among the owners of America’s press, that America’s public must be prohibited from knowing about the America Government’s operation in Ukraine. Perhaps one reason why this ongoing news story is so heavily censored is that the entire issue taking place in Ukraine could lead to something that might be far larger and potentially far more dangerous than merely a local ethnic-cleansing campaign. And Americans would then pay close attention to it. The importance of this news story is why it is being suppressed.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Obama administration continues to block report on Saudi financing of 9/11 attacks

By Tom Carter
January 14, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Even after more than thirteen years, a cloud of secrecy hangs over the events of September 11, 2001.

At every opportunity, the American political establishment cites the terrorist attacks that took place on that date as justification for military aggression abroad and the buildup of a police state at home. Immediately after the attacks, a “war on terror” was declared that continues to this day. Official remembrances of the attacks have taken on the character of state rituals. However, the US government continues to obstruct the release to the public of factual information about the events of 9/11.

On January 7, current and former members of Congress as well as families of victims held a press conference to demand the publication of 28 pages that remain classified from a December 2002 congressional report entitled “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Activities Before and After the Terrorists Attacks of September 2001.”

These pages were classified by the Bush administration at the time the report was released. The January 7 press conference called attention to the fact that the Bush and Obama administrations have obstructed the release of these redacted pages ever since.

“The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11 and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” former Democratic Senator Bob Graham noted at the press conference. Graham was the co-chair of the inquiry and he co-authored the report in question, so he speaks from first-hand knowledge of the report’s contents.

“While the 28 pages are maybe the most important and the most prominent, they are by no means the only example of where information that is important to understanding the full extent of 9/11 has also been withheld from the American people,” Graham added. “This is not a narrow issue of withholding information at one place, in one time,” he continued. “This is a pervasive pattern of covering up the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11, by all of the agencies of the federal government, which have access to information that might illuminate Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11.”

Graham presented the issue as solely one of “incompetence” and the Obama administration’s desire to avoid the exposure of incompetence.

An organization of family members of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks called “9/11 Families United for Justice” is campaigning to have the 28 pages released. Terry Strada, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Center attacks, is a co-chair of the organization. “When former President George W. Bush classified the 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry,” she said at the press conference, “he effectively protected the people who gave financial and logistical aid to at least some of the 19 hijackers while they were here in this country.”

Even without the full declassification of the 28 pages, there is ample evidence that Saudi Arabia was principally involved in financing the September 11 attacks, though this evidence is covered up by the media and the US political establishment.

Previous reports and leaks have indicated that the classified 28 pages detail the case of two of the hijackers in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, Nawaf al-Hazami and Khalid al-Mihdhar. The pair flew to the US under their own names after attending an Islamist training camp in Malaysia that was monitored by the CIA. They were met in Los Angeles by Omar al-Bayoumi, an individual with ties to Saudi intelligence and, according to unclassified sections of the report, “seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia.”

Bayoumi met al-Hazami and al-Mihdhar at the Saudi consulate and took them to San Diego, where they moved in with an FBI informant in the months preceding the September 11 attacks. An associate of Bayoumi, Asama Bassnan, received checks from the then-Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, and his wife—money that was used to assist the hijackers.

While in San Diego, the pair had meetings with Anwar al-Awlaki, the cleric and US citizen who was assassinated by the Obama administration in September 2011. Al-Awlaki had his own strange ties with the US state, having attended a meeting with military officials at the Pentagon only months after the September 11 attacks, as part of a supposed “outreach” effort.

In October of last year, Zacarias Moussaoui—the so-called “20th hijacker” who is currently serving a life sentence in maximum security prison—released a letter to the Oklahoma Western District Court alleging that he was personally assisted by Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud. Moussaoui took flight lessons in Norman, Oklahoma along with Mohaned Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers.

According to Moussaoui, the Saudi prince financed his flight lessons “and was doing so knowingly for Osama bin Laden.”

Since coming to office, the Obama administration has worked to prevent a full public accounting of the ties between Saudi Arabia and the September 11 hijackers. In 2009, the administration intervened on behalf of the Saudi monarchy to block the release of documents gathered by the families of September 11 victims.

While the January 7 press conference has been almost entirely ignored by the mass media, the fact that the Obama administration is continuing to cover up a report proving that the September 11 attacks were financed by Washington’s ally is no ordinary matter. It calls into question the entire official “war on terror” narrative.

The Saudi connection to the September 11 attacks is only one of many unanswered questions regarding the involvement of sections of the US state in the terrorist attacks.

US intelligence agencies cultivated ties with Islamic fundamentalist groups such as Al Qaeda for decades before the September 11, 2001 attacks, including during the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-1989). During that war, President Ronald Reagan famously proclaimed that the jihadist militias in Afghanistan were “freedom fighters.”

Today, the US intelligence agencies still enjoy close ties with such groups, utilizing them as shock troops for its campaigns in Libya, Syria and elsewhere. Saudi Arabia remains a significant source of funding for these groups. (See “ISIS: The jihadist movement stamped ‘Made in America’”)

A majority of the September 11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi monarchy, a bastion of reaction, has been Washington’s principal client in the region since the 1950s.

In January 2002, the World Socialist Web Site published a four-part analysis entitled, “Was the US government alerted to the September 11 attacks?” Using material that was available at that time, the series reviewed the advance warnings the US intelligence agencies received, the information they had about the hijackers beforehand, the history of these agencies’ activity in the Middle East, and the conspicuous failures to investigate in the aftermath of the attacks.

That series concluded, “Certainly the least likely and least credible explanation of that day’s events is that the vast US national security apparatus was entirely unaware of the activities of the hijackers until the airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.”

The fact that the financing for the attacks came from Saudi Arabia—and the fact that the US government is still trying to cover it up—underscores the issues that were raised in that series of articles and places even more question marks over the official story.

Did the US intelligence agencies know, before the attacks, that Saudi Arabia was financing Al Qaeda? Was Saudi Arabia, in fact, financing Al Qaeda at the behest of sections of the American state and US intelligence agencies?

Senator Graham contends that the 28 still-classified pages demonstrate the “incompetence” of the intelligence agencies. The limited information that is available points not to incompetence, but to deliberate indifference or worse.

The author also recommends:

Was the US government alerted to September 11 attack?
[16 January, 2002]

The strange case of Zacarias Moussaoui: FBI refused to investigate man charged in September 11 attacks
[5 January, 2002]

US planned war in Afghanistan long before September 11
[20 November, 2001]