Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for the ‘terrorism’ Category

Kill Chain

Posted by Charles II on May 18, 2015

On Book TV, Andrew Cockburn in his book Kill Chain gives a realistic assessment of what drones can and cannot do (see here for an unrealistic estimate).

* We were warned by Pentagon whistleblower Tom Christie that drones only hit 21% of their targets (current accuracy may be better)
* A study of intercepting illegal border crossers in the US showed that a spotter in a Cessna outperformed five drones
* A large part of the push to drones is financial
* Drone imaging is not good enough to tell the difference between a young teen and an adult man, or between a woman and a man, especially in low light
* Targeted assassination doesn’t work. According to a study in Iraq by Rex Rivolo, attacks increased after leaders were killed. The replacements for leaders are often their relatives, intent on revenge and, of course, any collateral damage improves recruiting.
* Liberals are very keen on drones as a means of limiting casualties. However, drones terrorize and disrupt whole societies, since civilians know they are being constantly watched. Therefore, even as tools of reconnaissance, they have problems.

I recommend listening to Cockburn.

Posted in Afghanistan, drones, Iraq, terrorism | Leave a Comment »

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something true/updated x3

Posted by Charles II on May 12, 2015

So is Sy Hersh’s story in the London Review of Books on the raid at Abbottabad in which Osama bin Laden was killed fiction? Is it old news, or even plagiarized? Is it true at all? Is it news at all? Or are a lot of people missing the point entirely?

The answer is that it depends… on what one is looking for in journalism, in what one calls journalism, and so on. Let’s dispose of the plagiarism one first. Raelynn Hillhouse did, indeed, write blog posts in 2011 calling into question the Administration’s story, and laying out a counternarrative that at the very least resembles that of Sy Hersh. She has accused him of doing either fiction or plagiarism. If he were doing fiction, then her own work, which she has presented as fact must be fiction; clearly she doesn’t think so and–whatever her politics–she has some serious journalistic and academic chops (“R.J. Hillhouse, a former professor, Fulbright fellow and novelist whose writing on intelligence and military outsourcing has appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times”). This claim of hers might be wrong, but it’s not fiction.

So is Hersh plagiarizing? Hillhouse states that “I trust my sources–which were clearly different than his.” If Hersh’s sources were different, then it’s clearly not plagiarism.

So, perhaps it’s old news, news that Hillhouse reported on her blog in 2011, but (according to The Intercept) that only made it to the New Zealand Herald. [It also made it into The Telegraph, but was not followed up on.] But if news never makes it out into the mainstream so that it can be discussed, can it be said to have been reported? The answer has to be “no.”

Next we get to the question of whether it is true. Here we have to be careful. The articles that I have read attacking Hersh’s reporting are problematic at best. One by Max Fisher, is filled with invective and largely devoted to attacking Hersh’s reporting on planning for an attack on Iran and chemical weapons in Syria. With regard to Abbottabad, it claims that Hersh alleges “a spectacular international conspiracy,” which is clearly false. Hersh is talking about an assassination conducted with maximum deniability and involving only a handful of players. International, yes. Spectacular, no. Nor a conspiracy: just the ordinary grubby dealings of an imperial state that can’t stop meddling.

If we focus on the few specifics that Fisher raises about Hersh’s reporting on the Abbottabad raid, the criticism comes down to this:

* “his allegations are largely supported only by two sources [ISI chief Asad Durani and a U.S. official], neither of whom has direct knowledge of what happened, both of whom are retired, and one of whom is anonymous”
* “His other two sources are anonymous ‘consultants’ who are vaguely described as insiders.”

Criticism of sourcing is fair. But, first, Fisher completely mischaracterized the latter two sources, who are very specifically described as “longtime consultants to the Special Operations Command.” That’s specific enough to Google and come up with an idea of what kind of person fits the description, like Colonel Jose Baez and Brian Hayes (not that either one is likely to be Hersh’s source).

Contrary to Fisher’s assertion, the retired intelligence official Hersh sourced seemed to have very direct knowledge of the “walk-in” who told the US about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad and about military discussions regarding the raid and about diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. This suggests he was at very high levels. Someone like Leon Panetta. Suppose, just for a moment, that Panetta was Hersh’s source. Would that change how people are reacting to the story?

There is at least one other CIA source in the story, used to corroborate the meeting with Pasha, that Fisher didn’t notice. Hersh also mentions one or more sources, “from inside Pakistan,” who might include “A Pakistani with close ties to the senior leadership of the ISI.”

So, is Hersh’s sourcing adequate? I don’t know. But Fisher apparently did not read Hersh closely enough to understand what it was.

Now, in addition, Fisher asks questions, like
* “Hersh’s entire narrative turns on a secret deal, in which the US promised Pakistan increased military aid and a “freer hand in Afghanistan.” In fact, the exact opposite of this occurred, with US military aid dropping and US-Pakistan cooperation in Afghanistan plummeting…”
* “Why, for example, would the Pakistanis insist on a fake raid that would humiliate their country and the very military and intelligence leaders who supposedly instigated it?”
* “why would Pakistan bother with the ostentatious fake raid at all, when anyone can imagine a dozen simpler, lower-risk, lower-cost ways to do this?”
* “why would the US cut a secret deal with Pakistan to allow that country a “freer hand” in Afghanistan”

To paraphrase Fisher, “raising questions about [Hersh’s] story is not the same as proving a spectacular [failure of journalism].” That anyone even regards these questions as logical inconsistencies makes one wring one’s hands about the capacity of journalists to analyze stories. Yet Joshua Keating not just bit, but swallowed Fisher’s screed whole. Again, there’s little that can even be addressed. For example, Keating says,

Hillhouse’s claim didn’t get much coverage other than an article in the Telegraph [in 2011] by Pakistan correspondent Rob Crilly, who didn’t exactly endorse her premise. (Crilly blasted Hersh’s article yesterday, calling it “utterly devoid of facts” and likely to appeal to the “soft minded.”

I read Crilly’s original piece. It may not endorse Hillhouse’s claims, but it doesn’t exactly discredit them either. If, as Crilly now says, the story is junk, why did Crilly publish his piece on 2011?

Keating says that Hersh’s article claims that,

… the documents seized from his compound were fabricated in order to make him appear to have been active up until his death.

This seems to be a hasty misreading of what Hersh said. What Hersh said was that

These claims [of bin Laden’s direct involvement in operations] were fabrications: there wasn’t much activity for bin Laden to exercise command and control over.

I don’t see where Hersh says that the documents were phony. However, his source asks some questions about 175 pages of documents that were released:

The retired official disputed the authen[ti]city of the West Point materials…

The questions that the source asks are good. Why are these documents being processed by a contractor with no CIA analysis and before the information contained in the documents could have been acted upon? It’s all very irregular.

Keating also says,

[NYT correspondent Carlotta] Gall concluded that at least some in the country’s spy service [ISI] knew where the terrorist mastermind was. But this is very different from Hersh’s much bolder assertion that the Pakistani agency was keeping him under house arrest and the whole raid was staged.

Keating links Carlotta Gall, who actually says:

Finally, on a winter evening in 2012, I got the confirmation I was looking for. According to one inside source, the ISI actually ran a special desk assigned to handle Bin Laden. It was operated independently, led by an officer who made his own decisions and did not report to a superior. He handled only one person: Bin Laden.

This is not the entire ISI, as Keating implies, but a small compartment within it. This is important, because it’s difficult to keep secrets that are widely held, but–as Iran-Contra demonstrated– easy to keep secrets that are closely held. It is entirely possible that we didn’t notify the Pakistani government of the raid, all the while being in close contact with elements of the ISI and the military.

As for bin Laden being under house arrest, what Gall (ibid) describes is even more disturbing:

Bin Laden did not rely only on correspondence. He occasionally traveled to meet aides and fellow militants, one Pakistani security official told me. “Osama was moving around,” he said, adding that he heard so from jihadi sources. “You cannot run a movement without contact with people.” Bin Laden traveled in plain sight, his convoys always knowingly waved through any security checkpoints.

In other words, the ISI had the capacity to control his movements. For a time, he was undoubtedly useful (Gall, ibid):

Bin Laden rejected Akhtar’s request for help and urged him and other militant groups not to fight Pakistan but to serve the greater cause — the jihad against America. He warned against fighting inside Pakistan because it would destroy their home base.

That must have been very convenient for the Pakistani government. However, at some point, regardless of how one thinks the raid happened, bin Laden’s worth to Pakistan diminished (as al Qaeda weakened and was displaced by the Taliban) or the risks he posed rose, as the Americans discovered his presence. At that point, Pakistan had to give him up. Is it so difficult to believe that Pakistan told the U.S., we won’t resist an assassination of bin Laden, as long as you make it look as if we were not responsible.

Is it difficult to believe that the crash of the helicopter made impossible the plan to grab bin Laden, send him out of town, and kill him under circumstances that wouldn’t look like the ISI had been hiding him and had also ratted him out?

And is it difficult to believe that then, when the Administration’s story made it clear not only that the ISI knew where bin Laden was but that they had also ratted him out, it created a serious rift between the US and Pakistan that resulted in a suspension of aid?

These are the kind of answers that seem pretty obvious to me, but not so much to Fisher.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the editors of the main English-language paper Dawn takes Hersh seriously.

Maybe Hersh is wrong. But I think that if one doesn’t enter the fray with a pre-determined conclusion in mind, what he has written is at least plausible.

And, I think that the most important part of the story hasn’t been recognized. For me, the basic story that the ISI knew where bin Laden was and to some degree stood aside for the US assassination was likely to be true from the start. But who among our leaders was lying, and to what degree? The answers Hersh gives are uncomfortable. I think that may be why so many people who know better are so exercised that they aren’t exercising judgment in examining the story.

______________
Updates

Phillip Carter also challenges Hersh. Again, the article is marred by attitude:

Many of the actual details in the piece, such as the reported obliteration of Bin Laden’s corpse by gunfire, shred any remaining credibility the article might have.

This is not refutation.

Pakistan’s military fell asleep at the switch multiple times, allowing Bin Laden to live near Pakistan’s version of West Point

Gall (see above) makes it clear that it wasn’t neglect, but collusion.

[His sources are]at least two degrees of separation from the small teams in the Defense Department and CIA who led the operation

This is a useful piece of information. However, if my guess that his main source is at the general level of Leon Panetta is correct, then it might be irrelevant.

[skipping over some]

Hersh goes on to dispute the fact that Bin Laden was then buried at sea, suggesting that his body may have been thrown out of the SEALs’ helicopter on the way out of Pakistan, and that the entire burial at sea was concocted as a cover story. This too goes too far, reflecting a more vivid imagination that sees secrets in the shadow of truth, where no reporting or evidence exists.

Journalists are trying without success to get the logs of the USS Carl Vinson:

Although the Obama administration has pledged to be the most transparent in American history, it is keeping a tight hold on materials related to the bin Laden raid. In a response to separate requests from the AP for information about the mission, the Defense Department said in March that it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden’s body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden’s body on the Vinson.

The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden’s body if he were killed.

The Defense Department also refused to confirm or deny the existence of helicopter maintenance logs and reports about the performance of military gear used in the raid. One of the stealth helicopters that carried the SEALs to Abbottabad crashed during the mission and its wreckage was left behind. People who lived near bin Laden’s compound took photos of the disabled chopper.

The AP is appealing the Defense Department’s decision

This is not helping Carter’s case.
_______________
Carlotta Gall has commented:

Among other things, Hersh contends that the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan’s military-intelligence agency, held Bin Laden prisoner in the Abbottabad compound since 2006, and that “the C.I.A. did not learn of Bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the U.S.”

On this count, my own reporting tracks with Hersh’s. Beginning in 2001, I spent nearly 12 years covering Pakistan and Afghanistan for The Times.

I do not recall ever corresponding with Hersh, but he is following up on a story that many of us assembled parts of.

I cannot confirm Hersh’s bolder claims — for example, that two of Pakistan’s top generals, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the former army chief, and Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the director of the ISI, had advance knowledge of the raid. But I would not necessarily dismiss the claims immediately. Hersh’s scenario explains one detail that has always nagged me about the night of Bin Laden’s death.

Hersh’s claim that there was little or no treasure trove of evidence retrieved from Bin Laden’s home rings less true to me.

I would guess that certain people are going to start walking back some of their more reckless comments.
________________________
Thanks to Jo6pac, the following post from Pat Lang’s shop, in which FB ali which used open source technique to try to flesh out Hillhouse’s post. It’s very interesting. An excerpt or two:

The Saudi motive behind this request [sanctuary for bin Laden in exchange for calling off al Qaeda from attacking Pakistan] presumably had to do with their internal imperatives. The bin Ladens are a very rich and influential family in Saudi Arabia. Osama and al Qaeda, and their goals, are supported by a large number of religious Saudis (even though the royal family considers them enemies). If bin Laden were to be hunted down and killed by the Americans in the tribal badlands of Pakistan, it would give the regime a black eye in the view of many of its people as well as being a serious blow to the bin Laden clan. It made sense to the Saudis to get Osama bin Laden into a safe hideout while at the same time neutralizing him as a functioning jihadi.

The cover story finally agreed upon was that the US had carried out a drone strike on the house (though none would in fact take place). This would account for the night-time explosions at the house, and, more importantly, provide an explanation to give to the Saudis for bin Laden’s sudden and unfortunate demise (his body having been almost obliterated by the bombs!). The US’s agreement was simply a ruse, however, in order to keep the Pakistanis cooperating; having rejected the drone option because it did not allow a definitive claim of the operation’s success, the US administration had no intention of going through with this cover story.

As for the fallout from the operation, it was, as expected, mainly on US-Pakistan relations. If the US had the intention of making it easier for the Pakistanis by fudging the site of the raid, the crashed helicopter’s tail sticking up from bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound ended that option. This stark evidence of the US incursion left the US with no option but to (in Hillhouse’s apt phrase) throw the Pakistanis under the bus.

Posted in Pakistan, terrorism | 8 Comments »

Mexican federal police orchestrated the assassination of 43 students, probably with the collaboration of the army

Posted by Charles II on December 16, 2014

Proceso has a story out on this. The English version by the Guardian says this:

Mexican federal authorities had real-time information of an attack on a group of student teachers by corrupt local police, but did nothing to stop the disappearance and probable massacre of 43 people, according to new evidence published by the news magazine Proceso.

But this is not quite what Proceso says. Anabel Hernandez and Steve Fisher write:

The attack was orchestrated and executed by the Federal Police, with complicity or open collaboration with the Army.

Federal forces participated in the attack against the students of the normal (college) of Ayotzinapa in the night of last 26 Sept in Iguala, Guerrero, during which attack three students died and 43 were disappeared in a series of actions known in real time by the federal government.

Deep in The Guardian’s article, they get around to saying what Hernandez and Fisher said, calling it a “contentious claim.”

What is with the Guardian, that it can’t get its Latin American coverage right? And what is with the US government that surely knows that the government of Pena Nieto is engaged in terrorism?

Posted in corruption, Mexico, terrorism | Comments Off on Mexican federal police orchestrated the assassination of 43 students, probably with the collaboration of the army

Speaking of Avi Schlaim…

Posted by Charles II on September 7, 2014

Speaking of Avi Schlaim, he has a new column in The Guardian:

Five days after reaching a ceasefire with Hamas to end the latest round of fighting in Gaza, the Israeli cabinet decided to appropriate 988 acres of land on the West Bank, near the place where three Israeli teenagers were recently abducted and murdered, to make way for another illegal Jewish city. This is the biggest land grab in three decades. As the justice minister, Tzipi Livni, pointed out: “It was a decision that weakens Israel and damages its security.” What it proves, if further proof is needed, is that Israel’s leaders are determined to prevent a two-state solution to the conflict.

What did Israel gain by unleashing the deadly firepower of the IDF against the caged population of this tiny coastal enclave? Virtually nothing. Israel had in fact provoked this crisis by its violent crackdown against Hamas activists on the West Bank following the murder of the three teenagers. Hamas rocket attacks – the ostensible reason for the war – were a response to Israel’s aggressive security measures.

Hamas had more solid reasons for rejoicing…. Despite the intense military pressure, Hamas’s spirit did not break and its popularity skyrocketed.

it is time to remove from Hamas the terrorist tag. This is a powerful weapon in the propaganda war but useless in the quest for peace. Hamas is indeed guilty of terrorism but it is also a legitimate political actor, having won a fair and free election in 2006.

Israel’s policy towards Gaza since the unilateral disengagement in 2005 has consisted of the systematic violations of international humanitarian law, duplicitous diplomacy and large doses of brute military force. With chilling cynicism, Israeli generals speak of their periodic incursions into Gaza as “mowing the lawn”. This policy has manifestly failed to procure the security that Israel’s citizens deserve. The writing is on the wall. A new and more constructive policy is desperately needed.

Realistically, there are only two roads before Israel. The first, the one it is on, is to commit genocide and remove the Palestinians from both Gaza and the West Bank, hurling them into one of the unstable states in the region (like Syria) that is unable to protect its borders. The second, the one that most of Israel’s friends have been imploring it to take, is to stop trying to solve political problems with military hardware: negotiate a real and just settlement with the Palestinians that will end the hardship in the Occupied Territories and put the Palestinians on the road to prosperity and self-determination. When the average Palestinian says, Israel behaves justly and with concern for us as human beings, would-be terrorists will have no purchase on Palestinian society.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, terrorism | 2 Comments »

Read these

Posted by Charles II on August 13, 2014

Blame Turkey for arming ISIS.

[This is not to say Turkey is primarily to blame. This sounds like a narrative to blame Turkey for something the US either approved or acceded to.]

How US destroyed Iraq

Patrick Cockburn on ISIS.

And especially this:

In the face of these failures Iraq’s Shia majority is taking comfort from two beliefs that, if true, would mean the present situation is not as dangerous as it looks. They argue that Iraq’s Sunnis have risen in revolt and Isis fighters are only the shock troops or vanguard of an uprising provoked by the anti-Sunni policies and actions of Maliki. Once he is replaced, as is almost certain, Baghdad will offer the Sunnis a new power-sharing agreement with regional autonomy similar to that enjoyed by the Kurds. Then the Sunni tribes, former military officers and Baathists who have allowed Isis to take the lead in the Sunni revolt will turn on their ferocious allies. Despite all signs to the contrary, Shia at all levels are putting faith in this myth, that Isis is weak and can be easily discarded by Sunni moderates once they’ve achieved their goals. One Shia said to me: ‘I wonder if Isis really exists.’

Unfortunately, Isis not only exists but is an efficient and ruthless organisation that has no intention of waiting for its Sunni allies to betray it. In Mosul it demanded that all opposition fighters swear allegiance to the Caliphate or give up their weapons. In late June and early July they detained between 15 to 20 former officers from Saddam Hussein’s time, including two generals. Groups that had put up pictures of Saddam were told to take them down or face the consequences. ‘It doesn’t seem likely,’ Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadists, said, ‘that the rest of the Sunni military opposition will be able to turn against Isis successfully. If they do, they will have to act as quickly as possible before Isis gets too strong.’

It would be a really good time to cut a deal with Putin, Assad, Abbas, and Rouhani, and get back to the business of repressing the really dangerous people in that part of the world. Too bad we don’t have a Congress intelligent enough to see this.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Iran, Iraq war, Russia, Syria, terrorism | 6 Comments »

No, sending troops to Iraq is not very smart

Posted by Charles II on August 8, 2014

Who is ISIL/ISIS and what do they want

Glenn Greenwald

Oil situation (caution: Ken Pollack

I have been too distressed by all of the warlust–in Ukraine, in Gaza, in Iraq–to put together a more substantive post. But, bottom line: I think that ISIS/ISIL wants us to put troops into Iraq. At the moment, they hold strong cards, though going after the Kurds will probably prove to be their undoing. Pollack has this interesting paragraph:

One possible mitigating factor is whether Baghdad would use the opportunity presented by the new civil war to revise its approach to oil contracting. So far, Baghdad has insisted on terms for its contracts with foreign oil firms that have significantly diminished their profitability. Many of the major oil companies signed these contracts only in the hope that they would later be able to secure more lucrative contracts if they demonstrated their commitment to Iraq. Some of these became so frustrated with Baghdad’s stubbornness that they pulled out of the south and began to shift their operations to Iraqi Kurdistan instead. Although Baghdad has been remarkably stubborn on this matter, the demands of waging the civil war might force it to reconsider as the only way to keep the major oil companies in Iraq and pumping the oil that is now vital to its war effort.

So…civil war–bug, or feature?

Posted in Iraq war, terrorism | Comments Off on No, sending troops to Iraq is not very smart

The NSA has met the enemy, and it is you

Posted by Charles II on September 25, 2013

Greenwald:

A well-known and highly respected Yemeni anti-drone activist was detained yesterday by UK officials under that country’s “anti-terrorism” law at Gatwick Airport, where he had traveled to speak at an event. Baraa Shiban, the project co-ordinator for the London-based legal charity Reprieve, was held for an hour and a half and repeatedly questioned about his anti-drone work and political views regarding human rights abuses in Yemen.

When he objected that his political views had no relevance to security concerns, UK law enforcement officials threatened to detain him for the full nine hours allowed by the Terrorism Act of 2000..
….
…perceiving drone opponents as “threats” or even “adversaries” is hardly new. Top secret US government documents obtained by the Guardian from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden characterize even the most basic political and legal opposition to drone attacks as part of “propaganda campaigns” from America’s “adversaries”.

The entry is part of a top secret internal US government website, similar in appearance to the online Wikipedia site. According to a June interview with Snowden in Hong Kong, the only individuals empowered to write these entries are those “with top secret clearance and public key infrastructure certificates”, special access cards enabling unique access to certain parts of NSA systems. He added that the entries are “peer reviewed” and that every edit made is recorded by user.

Also yesterday, the Libyan-American rapper Khaled Ahmed, better known by his stage name “Khaled M”, was removed from an airplane in the US without any explanation. …this was part of ongoing harassment he experiences when flying ….

Finally, Sarah Abdurrahman, an American Muslim and producer of the NPR program “On the Media”, was detained for 6 hours at the US border in Niagra Falls when returning from a vacation in Canada with her family (all US citizens).

The NSA is deep into policing political views. I happen to believe that drones are a lot less bad than, say, B-52s. But someone who believes that they represent illegal targeted assassination–and poorly targeted assassination at that– has a legitimate argument that deserves to be heard and not criminalized. Criminalizing dissent is the hallmark of totalitarianism.

Posted in abuse of power, NSA eavesdropping, terrorism, totalitarianism | 2 Comments »

Yes, remember 9/11… including the one in Chile

Posted by Charles II on September 11, 2013

No one who was over the age of 3 in September 2001 will forget our 9/11. And we shouldn’t. Al Qaida committed an outrageous act of butchery, targeting mostly civilians, purely to terrorizing Americans. This day, like December 7th, 1941, will live in infamy.

But there was another September 11th when terrorists killed thousands. And an American president, in effect, ordered it:

DemocracyNow:

PETER KORNBLUH: Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger launched a preemptive strike against Salvador Allende [President of Chile in 1972]. They decided to stop him from being inaugurated as president of Chile. He hadn’t even set foot in the Moneda [Presidential] Palace, when Nixon and Kissinger just simply decided to change the fate of Chile. Nixon instructed the CIA to make the Chilean economy scream, to use as many men as possible. The first plan was to actually keep Allende from being inaugurated as president. And then, when that plan failed, after the assassination of the Chilean commander-in-chief that the United States was behind, General René Schneider [i.e., the US had Schneider assassinated because he refused to go along with a coup], Kissinger then went to Nixon and said, “Allende is now president. The State Department thinks we can coexist with him, but I want you to make sure you tell everybody in the U.S. government that we cannot, that we cannot let him succeed, because he has legitimacy. He is democratically elected. And suppose other governments decide to follow in his footstep, like a government like Italy? What are we going to do then? What are we going to say when other countries start to democratically elect other Salvador Allendes? We will—the world balance of power will change,” he wrote to Nixon in a secret document, “and our interests in it will be changed fundamentally.”

He [Nixon] had aides who were saying to him, “It’s unbecoming for the United States to intervene in a country where we are not—our national security interests are not threatened.” And he pushed them away. “Nope, we can’t—we can’t let this imitative phenomena—we have to stop Allende from being successful.” He had aides that came to him the day after the coup and said, “I’m getting reports that there’s 10,000 bodies in the streets. People are being slaughtered.” And he said, “Go tell Congress that this new military regime is better for our interests than the old government in Chile.” And we have this fabulous document of him talking to Pinochet, a meeting in 1976, in which his aides have told him, “You should tell Pinochet to stop violating human rights.” And instead he says to Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende. We want to support you, not hurt you.

Never forget when the terrorists came to America.

Never forget when they came from America.

Posted in Latin America, September 11, terrorism | Comments Off on Yes, remember 9/11… including the one in Chile

New York City goes Stasi. Will the US?

Posted by Charles II on August 26, 2013

This is not a new story, but new information has significantly changed its interpretation.

I wish it were an exaggeration to say that New York City has gone to a level of surveillance that compares with the Stasi. Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, writing in New York Magazine make that case:

The activities [Police Commissioner Ray] Kelly set in motion after 9/11 pushed deeply into the private lives of New Yorkers, surveilling Muslims in their mosques, their sporting fields, their businesses, their social clubs, even their homes in a way not seen in America since the FBI and CIA monitored antiwar activists during the Nixon administration. It was a proactive approach, but, in constitutional terms, a novel one.

To reinvent the Intelligence Division, Kelly called on David Cohen, a former senior CIA officer…

Cohen and [CIA operative Larry] Sanchez’s guiding idea was that if the NYPD had its own eyes and ears in the ethnic communities of the five boroughs, maybe things could be different. They needed to be in bookshops to spot the terrorist with his newly grown beard, or in restaurants to overhear friends ranting about America. If detectives infiltrated Muslim student groups, maybe they could identify young men seething with embryonic fanaticism.

Sanchez told colleagues that he had borrowed the idea from Israeli methods of controlling the military-occupied West Bank, the swath of land captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.

[Judge Charles] Haight ruled: “For the purpose of detecting or preventing terrorist activities, the NYPD is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public on the same terms and conditions as members of the public generally.”

To accomplish their goals, however, Cohen and Sanchez needed to go far beyond what the FBI could do. They needed to take a broad view of what was related to terrorist activity. As Sanchez would explain to Congress years later: “Part of our mission is to protect New York City citizens from becoming terrorists.

He [Cohen] recruited young Middle Eastern officers who spoke Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu. They would be the ones raking the coals, looking for hot spots, and they became known as “rakers.”

The routine was almost always the same, whether they were visiting a restaurant, deli, barbershop, or travel agency. The two rakers would enter and casually chat with the owner. The first order of business was to determine his ethnicity and that of the patrons. This would determine which file the business would go into. A report on Pakistani locations, for instance, or one on Moroccans. Next, they’d do what the NYPD called “gauging sentiment.” Were the patrons observant Muslims? Did they wear traditionally ethnic clothes, like shalwar kameez? Were the women wearing hijabs?

If the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera was playing on the TV, the police would note it and observe how people were acting. Were they laughing, smiling, or cheering at reports of U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan? Did they talk Middle Eastern politics? If the business sold extremist literature or CDs, the officers would buy one or two. Was the owner selling fake I.D.’s or untaxed cigarettes? Police would note it. If customers could rent time on a computer, police might pay for a session and look at the computer’s search history. Were people viewing jihadist videos or searching for bomb-making instructions? Who was speaking Urdu?

On their way out, the rakers would look at bulletin boards. Was a rally planned in the neighborhood? The rakers might attend. Was there a cricket league? The rakers might join. If someone advertised a room for rent, the cops would tear off a tab with the address or phone number. It could be a cheap apartment used by a terrorist.

Surveillance turned out to be habit-forming. Cohen and Sanchez’s efforts also reached beyond the Muslim community. Undercover officers traveled the country, keeping tabs on liberal protest groups like [environmental awareness group] Time’s Up and the Friends of Brad Will [which protested police murders in Oaxaca, Mexico]. Police infiltrated demonstrations and collected information about antiwar groups and those that marched against police brutality. Detectives monitored activist websites and copied the contents into police files, including one memo in 2008 for Kelly that reported the contents of a website about a group of women organizing a boycott to protest the police shooting of Sean Bell, an unarmed black man killed the morning before his wedding….

The Demographics Unit had thousands of dollars to spend on meals and expenses …

That’s when [Lt. Hector] Berdecia realized that, in the hunt for terrorists, his detectives gravitated toward the best food.

And now, the lawyers in the Handschu case [which reined in police infiltration of legitimate political activism] have returned to court, arguing that Kelly and Cohen, in their effort to keep the city safe, have crossed constitutional lines. Regardless of the outcome, the NYPD’s programs are likely to join waterboarding, secret prisons, and NSA wiretapping as emblems of post-9/11 America, when security justified many practices that would not have been tolerated before.

No successes in stopping terrorism; indeed, no information garnered about a potential actual terrorist. Many thousands of people monitored and files created. Surveillance extended even to plainly domestic and plainly legitimate activist groups: the restrictions of Handschu circumvented by an appeal to anti-terrorism. CIA operatives designing surveillance of Americans.

And Ray Kelly could become the head of Homeland Security.

Posted in CIA, Constitutional crisis, fascism, impunity, terrorism | 2 Comments »

US ally Pervez Musharraf charged with murder of Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto

Posted by Charles II on August 22, 2013

Syed Fazl-e-Haider:

Pakistan’s former president and military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has been charged with the murder of former premier Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007.

An anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi, in an unprecedented move, on Tuesday indicted Musharraf on three counts during a brief hearing. He may get the death penalty or life imprisonment if found guilty.

“He was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder and facilitation for murder,” AFP reported public prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar as saying.

Six others were charged along with Musharraf, including four suspected militants and two senior police officials.

Ms Bhutto was killed on December 27, 2007, in a gun-and-bomb attack outside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh – the same park where prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in 1951. Twice-elected as prime minister (she held office from 1988-1990 and 1993-96), Ms Bhutto was killed after addressing an election rally in the garrison city.

Who could have predicted that one of the architects of the Taliban would be involved in terrorism?

Well, certainly not the US government, if you ask them.

Posted in Pakistan, terrorism | 1 Comment »

 
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