June 8, 2009
FAS Project on Government Secrecy s Secrecy News
An Inspector General review (pdf) of the State Department Office of the Historian (HO) last month confirmed that there were serious management defects in the Office and recommended reassignment of its Director as well as other changes.
The Office of the Historian is responsible for production of the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, which is the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy and one of the most important vehicles for declassification of historical records.
Allegations of mismanagement and declining performance had surrounded the Office for years until the Chairman of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee, Prof. Wm. Roger Louis, resigned last December to dramatize his concerns that the FRUS series was “at risk.” (See “State Dept: Crisis in the Foreign Relations Series,” Secrecy News, December 11, 2008).
“In varying degrees, nearly 75 percent of the present HO employees interviewed … were critical of the way the office is run,” the IG reported. “They alleged favoritism, cronyism, a lack of transparency, lack of interest in the FRUS, disparagement of the staff, suspicion, an absence of leadership, and, in general, the creation of an unhappy workplace.”
With plummeting employee morale and departures of experienced staff historians, “something in HO is very wrong,” the Inspector General concluded. “HO is suffering from, and has for some time been handicapped by, serious mismanagement for which the director must be held accountable…. Despite any mitigating factors that may exist in favor of the director, this situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
“It is a devastating indictment,” said Prof.…Continue reading
Posted June 3, 2009
This may be the shortest lived Diary on Kos history, begun only one week ago, mainly in response to the banishment of Tocque DeVille. I endeavor not to stray beyond the barricades of the Rules, but if I too face exile, all I ask of Kos and Meteor Blades before the guillotine is pulled is as much thoughtful consideration of these issues as I have given them…
In The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein relates how nations brutalized by the Chicago School’s savage capitalism and the Dirty War juntas enforcing it have recovered and developed a healthy immunity against more eviscerating shock therapy:
Any strategy based on exploiting the window of opportunity opened by a traumatic shock relies heavily on the element of surprise… in North America, the September 11 attacks were, at first pure event, raw reality, unprocessed by story, narrative or anything that could bridge the gap between reality and understanding. Without a story, we are, as many of us were after September 11, intensely vulnerable to those people who take advantage of chaos for their own ends. As soon as we have a new narrative that offers perspective on the shocking events, we become reoriented and the world begins to make sense again.
That psychology pertains on both the individual and societal levels: a trauma that is never dealt with openly, but suppressed in the subconscious, festers, reinforcing crippling habits and sabotaging recovery. Maybe it is our reigning paradigm of dogmatic… Continue reading
Guest Editorial by Sibel Edmonds
May 22, 2009
"In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows
how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill…we do not ask for the
handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one." — Plato
During the campaign, amid their state of elation, many disregarded Presidential
Candidate Senator Barack Obama’s past record and took any criticism of these
past actions as partisan attacks deserving equally partisan counterattacks.
Some continued their reluctant support after candidate Obama became grand finalist
and prayed for the best. And a few still continue their rationalizing and defense,
with illogical excuses such as ‘He’s been in office for only 20 days, give the
man a break!’ and ‘He’s had only 50 days in office, give him a chance!’ and
currently, ‘be reasonable – how much can a man do in 120 days?!’ I am going
to give this logic, or lack of, a slight spicing of reason, then, turn it around,
and present it as: If ‘the man’ can do this much astounding damage, whether
to our civil liberties, or to our notion of democracy, or to government integrity,
in ‘only’ 120 days, may God help us with the next [(4 X 365) - 120] days.
I know there are those who have been tackling President Obama’s changes on
change; they have been challenging his flipping, or rather flopping, on issues
central to getting him elected. While some have been covering the changes… Continue reading
11 May 2009
Lalit K Jha
Press Trust Of India
May 11, 2009
WASHINGTON: In a new revelation, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has said
that the CIA of the United States and his country’s ISI together
created the Taliban.
"I think it was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and CIA created
them together," Zardari told the NBC news channel in an interview.
In the interview, which was given to the NBC on May 7, Zardari also accused
the US of supporting the military rule of Pervez Musharraf who was alleged to
be taking sides of the Taliban.
He disagreed with the popular belief in the US that the Pakistan military and
intelligent services still have sympathies for the Taliban.
"I think General Musharraf may have had a mindset to run head and hand
with the hound but certainly not on our watch. We don’t have a tough process
at all," Zardari said.
Asked about the influential role of the Pakistan army, Zardari said he is in
control of everything in the country, including the military.
"The Parliament has final say. It’s the Parliament form of government,
and I am a product of the Parliament," he said.
Earlier, Zardari in an another interview had said that India was not a "threat"
to his country and that Pakistan had moved some of its forces from its Indian
border to western frontier to eliminate Taliban in its tribal belt.
May 11, 2009 “New Karala” — Washington, May 11: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has alleged that elusive Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was a US operator who had tried to destabilise his late wife Benazir Bhutto’s government back in 1989.
Meet the Press transcript here.
In fact, as premier Bhutto had “warned America about Osama bin Laden in 1989 with a call to then US president George H. Bush”, Zardari said on NBC’s Meet the Press programme Sunday.
“She rang senior Bush and asked of him: ‘Are you destabilizing my government?’
because he (apparently referring to bin Laden) paid the then opposition $10
million to overthrow the first woman elected (prime minister) in an Islamic
country,” Zardari added.
“So, we knew that he was your operator,” said Zardari responding to a question about bin Laden’s whereabouts.
“You’ll have been there (in Afghanistan) for eight years. (So) you tell
me. You lost him in Tora Bora, I didn’t, I was in prison,” he countered
when asked where bin Laden was before hurling the allegation at Washington.
Asked if Pakistan was actively looking for bin Laden, Zardari replied: “The world is looking for him and we are part of the world look-out brigade.”
Zardari also reiterated his belief that bin Laden is dead. “I have a strong feeling and I have reason to believe that because I’ve asked my counterparts in the American intelligence… Continue reading
May 10, 2009
by Andy Worthington
The Arabic media is ablaze with the news that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the emir of an Afghan training camp — whose claim that Saddam Hussein had been involved in training al-Qaeda operatives in the use of chemical and biological weapons was used to justify the invasion of Iraq — has died in a Libyan jail. So far, however, the only English language report is on the Algerian website Ennahar Online, which reported that the Libyan newspaper Oea stated that al-Libi (aka Ali Abdul Hamid al-Fakheri) “was found dead of suicide in his cell,” and noted that the newspaper had reported the story “without specifying the date or method of suicide.”
This news resolves, in the grimmest way possible, questions that have long been asked about the whereabouts of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, perhaps the most famous of “America’s Disappeared” — prisoners seized in the “War on Terror,” who were rendered not to Guantánamo but to secret prisons run by the CIA or to the custody of governments in third countries — often their own — where, it was presumed, they would never be seen or heard from again.
The emir of the Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan, al-Libi was one of hundreds of prisoners seized by Pakistani forces in December 2001, crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Most of these men ended up in Guantánamo after being handed over (or sold) to US forces by their Pakistani allies, but al-Libi was, notoriously, rendered to Egypt by the CIA to be tortured on behalf of the US government.…Continue reading
28 April 2009
by Rachel Williams
Three British Muslims were today cleared of helping the 7 July bombers choose
their targets by carrying out a reconnaissance mission in London seven months
before the attacks that killed 52 people and injured almost 1,000.
A jury at Kingston crown court unanimously found Waheed Ali, 25, Sadeer Saleem,
28, and Mohammed Shakil, 32, all from Beeston, Leeds, not guilty of conspiring
with the four bombers to cause explosions, after deliberating for eight days.
They are the only people to be charged over the attacks in 2005, which prompted
the biggest criminal investigation in British history — more than 18,450
statements were taken and at least 37,000 exhibits were collected.
Ali and Shakil were, however, convicted of conspiracy to attend a place used
for terrorist training. They were about to board a flight to Pakistan when they
were arrested in 2007. The pair will be sentenced tomorrow afternoon.
The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, welcomed those guilty verdicts, which she
said "clearly demonstrated the determined stance the UK takes against those
suspected of involvement in terrorism".
As the verdicts were read out, Ali smiled broadly, Saleem wiped his eyes and
Shakil leant forward, mouthing "thank you" to the jury. The trio had
been retried after a jury failed to reach a verdict on the charges relating
to the 7 July attacks last year after about three weeks of deliberations.
Survivors of the attacks and family members of those who died said today’s
verdicts strengthened the case for an independent inquiry into the bombings.…
April 27, 2009
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) — Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari said on Monday
that the whereabouts of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden remained a mystery and
there was a suspicion that he could be dead.
Speaking to international media, Zardari said U.S. officials had told him that
they had no trace of the al Qaeda chief, although they habitually say he is
most likely in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s own intelligence agencies were no wiser, either, Zardari said.
"There is no news," the president said. "They obviously feel
that he does not exist anymore but that’s not confirmed, we can’t confirm that."
Al Jazeera aired excerpts of an audio recording in March in which the speaker’s
voice sounded like earlier messages from bin Laden, who has eluded all efforts
to catch him since al Qaeda carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the
Bin Laden, if he is still alive, turned 52 on March 10, but he is known to
suffer from ill-health.
There have been reports that he had died of natural causes in the past, but
they have never been corroborated, and security analysts believe intelligence
agencies monitoring jihadi websites on the Internet would have picked up some
(Reporting by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Dean Yates)
Source URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090427/ts_nm/us_pakistan_zardari_binladen
April 22, 2009
By Chris Floyd
With the release of the U.S. Senate’s report on the Bush Administration torture
program, it is now incontrovertibly clear — and officially established
by the highest, most respectable Establishment institutions — that George
W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and a host of other top officials deliberately,
willingly, and with malice aforethought, established a system of interrogation
using brutal techniques that they knew were against the law. Hence the need
for the torture memos that attempted to give retroactive legal cover for atrocities
that were already taking place at the orders of the White House and the Pentagon.
They were also told repeatedly that these tortures were ineffective at producing
What’s more, it is now undeniable that they began this program long before
they had captured even one "high-profile al Qaeda detainee," and that
they were using these heinous techniques not in a desperate bid to save the
nation from further attacks — which has long been their preening, self-serving
claim — but instead to produce spurious data about the non-existent link
between Iraq and al Qaeda. In other words, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald
Rumsfeld ordered their minions to beat and torment captives in order to get
them to say something a — anything — that could then be used to
"justify" a war of aggression that these grand statesmen had been
planning long before the September 11 attacks.
You cannot disentangle the torture program from the war… Continue reading
April 23, 2009
Let Sibel Edmonds Speak
Sibel gave a 75-min interview to Electric Politics on April 10. You can listen
to it here.
Mizgin has an overview of the interview here.
A partial transcript follows:
Heroin, money-laundering and terrorism
Sibel Edmonds: First of all, it has been documented in the past several decades, the importance of narcotics in the Turkish economy, but also the role of Turkish MIT – that is Turkish Intelligence – and the military having an active role. But you’re also looking at the increased role of certain Central Asian countries and the Caucuses, and if you look at some of these regimes, these are the regimes that we have been supporting. Their economies also have become dependent on narcotics, because they have become a major transit – and in some places, for certain countries such as Azerbaijan, they have become major production centers.
After they shut down the casinos in Turkey – around 1998 – many of the large casinos in Turkey which were used to launder a lot of money, that also had to do with the narcotics, they actually moved and relocated to Azerbaijan, and there were several that went to Kazakhstan. So if you go through some of those Central Asian countries and you look at the list of the casinos, and you look at the ownership, you will see mainly Turkish ownership, and these are Turkish holding companies that relocated in 1998 to those countries.
George Kenney:… Continue reading
April 21, 2009
by Glenn Greenwald
Blue Dog Rep. Jane Harman — once the most vigorous Democratic cheerleader
of Bush’s NSA warrantless eavesdropping program — is rip-roarin’ angry today.
Apparently, her private conversations were eavesdropped on by the U.S. Government!
This is a grave outrage that, as she told Andrea Mitchell just moments ago,
demands a probing investigation:
That’s what I asked Attorney General Holder to do — to release any tapes,
I don’t know whether they were legally made or not, of my conservations about
this matter . . . and to hope that he will investigate whether other members
of Congress or other innocent Americans might have been subject to this same
treatment. I call it an abuse of power in the letter I wrote him this morning.
. . .
I’m just very disappointed that my country — I’m an American citizen just
like you are — could have permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power
in recent years. I’m one member of Congress who may be caught up in it, and
I have a bully pulpit and I can fight back. I’m thinking about others who have
no bully pulpit, who may not be aware, as I was not, that someone is listening
in on their conversations, and they’re innocent Americans.
So if I understand this correctly — and I’m pretty sure I do — when the U.S.
Government eavesdropped for years on American citizens with no warrants and
in violation of… Continue reading
America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite’s rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs.
We have been in a steady economic decline for decades. The Canadian political philosopher John Ralston Saul detailed this decline in his 1992 book “Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.” David Cay Johnston exposed the mirage and rot of American capitalism in “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill),” and David C. Korten, in “When Corporations Rule the World” and “Agenda for a New Economy,” laid out corporate malfeasance and abuse. But our universities and mass media, entranced by power and naively believing that global capitalism was an… Continue reading
April 1, 2009
By Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque – Chris-floyd.com
Here’s a purely hypothetical scenario. Let’s say you were a dedicated imperial militarist who believed that your country’s security, prestige and financial interests could best be served by war and the ever-present threat of war. Let’s say you had some really hot and juicy operations going on, endless deadly conflicts that were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into your war machine and entrenching national policy even more deeply in the militarist philosophy — the machtpolitik – that you believe in.
But there’s a problem. The general public — the cow-like herd out there that doesn’t understand grand strategy the way you and your fellow elites do — is growing weary, and wary, of your Long War. The national treasury is bankrupt, the national infrastructure is rotting, the nation’s communities are dying; millions of people are out of work, losing their homes, losing their dreams, spiraling down into want, privation and despair. Yet you have big plans to escalate the war, expand your war machine, and maintain the global dominance that you believe is the right and natural role for your special nation — and its elites. What to do? How to galvanize the truculent, self-absorbed herd into enthusiastically supporting your vital agenda once more?
Well, here’s one purely hypothetical approach you might try. You goad and provoke violent extremist groups into retaliating against your attacks, your civilian-slaughtering invasions and incursions into their territory. Being unable to confront directly your… Continue reading
March 21, 2009
UN envoy Richard Falk, who
wrote the foreword for David Ray Griffin’s New Pearl Harbor, and has
also praised Peter Dale Scott’s book, The Road to 9/11, was yesterday
quoted by Haaretz
speaking out strongly against Israel’s attacks in Gaza as war crimes;
A United Nations human rights investigator said on Thursday that Israel’s offensive against Hamas in densely populated Gaza appeared to constitute a war crime of the “greatest magnitude.”
Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the Geneva Conventions required warring forces to distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians.
“If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law”
Falk’s assessment is bolstered by statements from IDF soldiers, recently debriefed in Tel Aviv. This was covered last night by UK’s Channel 4;
IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent – 19/03/2009
During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive.
The soldiers are graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Tivon. Some of their statements made on Feb. 13 will appear Thursday and Friday in Haaretz. Dozens of graduates of… Continue reading
It’s not the bonuses. It’s that AIG’s counterparties are getting paid back in
By Eliot Spitzer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG’s bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring
the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG’s counterparties getting
paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?
For the answer to this question, we need to go back to the very first decision
to bail out AIG, made, we are told, by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson,
then-New York Fed official Timothy Geithner, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein,
and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last fall. Post-Lehman’s collapse, they feared
a systemic failure could be triggered by AIG’s inability to pay the counterparties
to all the sophisticated instruments AIG had sold. And who were AIG’s trading
partners? No shock here: Goldman, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JPMorgan
Chase, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and on it goes. So now we know
for sure what we already surmised: The AIG bailout has been a way to hide an
enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money
It all appears, once again, to be the same insiders protecting themselves against
sharing the pain and risk of their own bad adventure. The payments to AIG’s
counterparties are justified with an appeal to the sanctity of contract. If
AIG’s contracts turned out to be shaky, the theory goes, then the whole edifice
of the financial system would collapse.…
Listen to Seymour Hersh’s entire speech regarding US Death Squads.
In a “Great Conversations” event this week at the University of Minnesota, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh may have made a little more news than he intended by talking about new alleged instances of domestic spying by the CIA, and about an ongoing covert military operation that he called an “executive assassination ring.” He went on to say: “Yuh. After 9/11, I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen. … Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command — JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. … “Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s… Continue reading
March 12, 2009
“There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government — in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.” – Charles Freeman.
For a one-hour introduction to the Israel Lobby; please check out this excellent Dutch documentary on the controversy that erupted following the publication of Mearsheimer and Walt’s academic paper, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, in its condensed form at the London Review of Books (The book which then followed is highly recommended.);
Charles Freeman’s statement as published by the Wall Street Journal (!);
Charles Freeman, a veteran diplomat slated to become the top U.S. intelligence analyst, withdrew from consideration Tuesday. He released a statement denouncing the “Israel Lobby” for “character assassination.” Here is the text of the statement.… Continue reading