Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bolton, Eagleburger and Rodman's warning about Kosovo

(Note: I think that there is an American saying which says that even a broken watch is correct once every 12 hours. So please spare us the ad hominems about the authors of this piece - what matters is not who they are/were but what they say; or, if you prefer, that even they are saying what they say. In other words, recognizing Kosovo is something which even a patented nutcase like Bolton has second thoughts about. VS)

Warning light on Kosovo

By John Bolton, Lawrence Eagleburger and Peter Rodman

The Bush administration has indicated its readiness to recognize a unilateral declaration of independence by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, a province of the Republic of Serbia that since 1999 has been under United Nations administration and NATO military control.

Such a declaration may take place as early as February. American recognition would be over Serbia's objections, without a negotiated solution between Serbia and Kosovo's Albanians, and without modification by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 1244, which reaffirms Serbian sovereignty in Kosovo while providing for the province's "substantial autonomy." U.S. recognition may be joined by that of some members of the European Union, which has been under heavy diplomatic pressure from Washington, though several EU states and a number of countries outside Europe have said they would reject such action.

Attempting to impose a settlement on Serbia would be a direct challenge to the Russian Federation, which opposes any Kosovo settlement not accepted by Belgrade.

We believe an imposed settlement of the Kosovo question and seeking to partition Serbia's sovereign territory without its consent is not in the interest of the United States. The blithe assumption of American policy — that the mere passage of nine years of relative quiet would be enough to lull Serbia and Russia into reversing their positions on a conflict that goes back centuries — has proven to be naive in the extreme.

We believe U.S. policy on Kosovo must be re-examined without delay, and we urge the Bush administration to make it clear that pending the results of such re-examination it would withhold recognition of a Kosovo independence declaration and discourage Kosovo's Albanians from taking that step.

Current U.S. policy relies on the unconvincing claim that Kosovo is "unique" and would set no precedent for other troublespots. Of course every conflict has unique characteristics. However, ethnic and religious minorities in other countries already are signaling their intention to follow a Kosovo example. This includes sizeable Albanian communities in adjoining areas of southern Serbia, Montenegro, and especially the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as the Serbian portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Recognition of Kosovo's independence without Serbia's consent would set a precedent with far-reaching and unpredictable consequences for many other regions of the world. The Kosovo model already has been cited by supporters of the Basque separatist movement in Spain and the Turkish-controlled area of northern Cyprus. Neither the Security Council nor any other international body has the power or authority to impose a change of any country's borders.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current policy is the dismissive attitude displayed toward Russia's objections. Whatever disagreements the United States may have with Moscow on other issues, and there are many, the United States should not prompt an unnecessary crisis in U.S.-Russia relations. There are urgent matters regarding which the United States must work with Russia, including Iran's nuclear intentions and North Korea's nuclear capability. Such cooperation would be undercut by American action to neutralize Moscow's legitimate concerns regarding Kosovo.

If the U.S. moves forward with recognizing Kosovo, Moscow's passivity cannot be taken for granted. It may have been one thing in 1999 for the United States and NATO to take action against Yugoslavia over the objections of a weak Russia.

Today, it would be unwise to dismiss Russia's willingness and ability to assist Serbia. On an issue of minor importance to the United States, is this a useful expenditure of significant political capital with Russia?

Our Kosovo policy is hardly less problematic for our friends and allies in Europe. While some European countries, notably members of the EU, may feel themselves obligated to join us in recognizing Kosovo's independence, a number of those countries would do so reluctantly because of Washington's inflexibility and insistence. No more than the United States, Europe would not benefit from an avoidable confrontation with Russia.

Even if Kosovo declared itself an independent state, it would be a dysfunctional one and a ward of the international community for the indefinite future. Corruption and organized crime are rampant. The economy, aside from international largesse and criminal activities, is nonviable. Law enforcement, integrity of the courts, protection of persons and property, and other prerequisites for statehood are practically nonexistent. While these failures are often blamed on Kosovo's uncertain status, a unilateral declaration of independence recognized by some countries and rejected by many others would hardly remedy that fact.

The result would be a new "frozen conflict," with Kosovo's status still unresolved. The risk of renewed violence would further impede Kosovo's development. Moreover, heightened tensions might require reinforcing the U.S. presence in Kosovo when we can least afford it due to other commitments.

Serbia has made great strides in democratic development and economic revitalization since the fall of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Current policy with respect to Kosovo risks complete reversal of these gains. Faced with a choice between Western partnership and defense of their sovereign territory and constitution, there is little doubt what Serbia would decide.

The current positive trend could falter in the face of political radicalization and possible internal destabilization. Serbia's relations with countries that had recognized Kosovo would be impaired. Serbia would inevitably move closer to Russia as its only protector.

We do not underestimate the difficulty and complexity of the Kosovo question nor do we suggest the status quo can endure indefinitely. As with thorny questions elsewhere, viable and enduring settlements should result from negotiation and compromise. Such an outcome has been undermined by a U.S. promise to the Kosovo Albanians that their demands will be satisfied if they remain adamant and no agreement is reached with Belgrade. Such a promise cannot be justified by the claim, often heard from proponents of independence, that the Albanians' "patience" is running out, so independence must be granted without delay. This is nothing less than appeasing a threat of violence.

A reassessment of America's Kosovo policy is long overdue. We hope a policy that would set a very dangerous international precedent can still be averted if that reassessment begins now. In the meantime, it is imperative that no unwarranted or hasty action be taken that would turn what is now a relatively small problem into a large one.

John Bolton is former permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations. Lawrence Eagleburger is former U.S. secretary of state. Peter Rodman is former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Leo Panitch, Chalmers Johnson and Tom Engelhardt on the reasons for the inevitable US economic collapse

Tom Dispatch 's Tomgram: Chalmers Johnson, How to Sink America

Within the next month, the Pentagon will submit its 2009 budget to Congress and it's a fair bet that it will be even larger than the staggering 2008 one. Like the Army and the Marines, the Pentagon itself is overstretched and under strain -- and like the two services, which are expected to add 92,000 new troops over the next five years (at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion per 10,000), the Pentagon's response is never to cut back, but always to expand, always to demand more.

After all, there are those disastrous Afghan and Iraqi wars still eating taxpayer dollars as if there were no tomorrow. Then there's what enthusiasts like to call "the next war" to think about, which means all those big-ticket weapons, all those jets, ships, and armored vehicles for the future. And don't forget the still-popular, Rumsfeld-style "netcentric warfare" systems (robots, drones, communications satellites, and the like), not to speak of the killer space toys being developed; and then there's all that ruined equipment out of Iraq and Afghanistan to be massively replaced -- and all those ruined human beings to take care of.

You'll get the gist of this from a recent editorial in the trade magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology:

"The fact Washington must face is that nearly five years of war have left U.S. forces worse off than they have been in a generation, yes, since Vietnam, and restoring them will take budget-building unlike any in the past."

Even on the rare occasion when -- as in the case of Boeing's C-17 cargo plane -- the Pentagon decides to cancel a project, there's Congress to remember. Contracts and subcontracts for weapons systems, carefully doled out to as many states as possible, mean jobs, and so Congress often balks at such cuts. (Fifty-five House members recently warned the Pentagon of a "strong negative response" if funding for the C-17 is excised from the 2009 budget.) All in all, it adds up to a defense menu for a glutton.

Already, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said that 2009 funding is "largely locked into place." The giant military-industrial combines -- Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon -- have been watching their stocks rise in otherwise treacherous times. They are hopeful. As Ronald Sugar, Northrop CEO, put it: "A great global power like the United States needs a great navy and a great navy needs an adequate number of ships, and they have to be modern and capable" -- and guess which company is the Navy's largest shipbuilder?

There should be nothing surprising in all this, especially for those of us who have read Chalmers Johnson's Nemesis, The Last Days of the American Republic, the final volume of his Blowback Trilogy. Published in 2007, it is already a classic on what imperial overstretch means for the rest of us. The paperback of Nemesis is officially out today, just as global stock markets tumble. It is simply a must-read (and if you've already read it, then get a copy for a friend). In the meantime, hunker in for Johnson's latest magisterial account of how the mightiest guns the Pentagon can muster threaten to sink our own country. (For those interested, click here to view a clip from a new film, "Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony," in Cinema Libre Studios' Speaking Freely series in which he discusses military Keynesianism and imperial bankruptcy.) Tom

Going Bankrupt

Why the Debt Crisis Is Now the Greatest Threat to the American Republic
By Chalmers Johnson

The military adventurers of the Bush administration have much in common with the corporate leaders of the defunct energy company Enron. Both groups of men thought that they were the "smartest guys in the room," the title of Alex Gibney's prize-winning film on what went wrong at Enron. The neoconservatives in the White House and the Pentagon outsmarted themselves. They failed even to address the problem of how to finance their schemes of imperialist wars and global domination.

As a result, going into 2008, the United States finds itself in the anomalous position of being unable to pay for its own elevated living standards or its wasteful, overly large military establishment. Its government no longer even attempts to reduce the ruinous expenses of maintaining huge standing armies, replacing the equipment that seven years of wars have destroyed or worn out, or preparing for a war in outer space against unknown adversaries. Instead, the Bush administration puts off these costs for future generations to pay -- or repudiate. This utter fiscal irresponsibility has been disguised through many manipulative financial schemes (such as causing poorer countries to lend us unprecedented sums of money), but the time of reckoning is fast approaching.

There are three broad aspects to our debt crisis. First, in the current fiscal year (2008) we are spending insane amounts of money on "defense" projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States. Simultaneously, we are keeping the income tax burdens on the richest segments of the American population at strikingly low levels.

Second, we continue to believe that we can compensate for the accelerating erosion of our manufacturing base and our loss of jobs to foreign countries through massive military expenditures -- so-called "military Keynesianism," which I discuss in detail in my book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. By military Keynesianism, I mean the mistaken belief that public policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy capitalist economy. The opposite is actually true.

Third, in our devotion to militarism (despite our limited resources), we are failing to invest in our social infrastructure and other requirements for the long-term health of our country. These are what economists call "opportunity costs," things not done because we spent our money on something else. Our public education system has deteriorated alarmingly. We have failed to provide health care to all our citizens and neglected our responsibilities as the world's number one polluter. Most important, we have lost our competitiveness as a manufacturer for civilian needs -- an infinitely more efficient use of scarce resources than arms manufacturing. Let me discuss each of these.

The Current Fiscal Disaster

It is virtually impossible to overstate the profligacy of what our government spends on the military. The Department of Defense's planned expenditures for fiscal year 2008 are larger than all other nations' military budgets combined. The supplementary budget to pay for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not part of the official defense budget, is itself larger than the combined military budgets of Russia and China. Defense-related spending for fiscal 2008 will exceed $1 trillion for the first time in history. The United States has become the largest single salesman of arms and munitions to other nations on Earth. Leaving out of account President Bush's two on-going wars, defense spending has doubled since the mid-1990s. The defense budget for fiscal 2008 is the largest since World War II.

Before we try to break down and analyze this gargantuan sum, there is one important caveat. Figures on defense spending are notoriously unreliable. The numbers released by the Congressional Reference Service and the Congressional Budget Office do not agree with each other. Robert Higgs, senior fellow for political economy at the Independent Institute, says: "A well-founded rule of thumb is to take the Pentagon's (always well publicized) basic budget total and double it." Even a cursory reading of newspaper articles about the Department of Defense will turn up major differences in statistics about its expenses. Some 30-40% of the defense budget is "black," meaning that these sections contain hidden expenditures for classified projects. There is no possible way to know what they include or whether their total amounts are accurate.

There are many reasons for this budgetary sleight-of-hand -- including a desire for secrecy on the part of the president, the secretary of defense, and the military-industrial complex -- but the chief one is that members of Congress, who profit enormously from defense jobs and pork-barrel projects in their districts, have a political interest in supporting the Department of Defense. In 1996, in an attempt to bring accounting standards within the executive branch somewhat closer to those of the civilian economy, Congress passed the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act. It required all federal agencies to hire outside auditors to review their books and release the results to the public. Neither the Department of Defense, nor the Department of Homeland Security has ever complied. Congress has complained, but not penalized either department for ignoring the law. The result is that all numbers released by the Pentagon should be regarded as suspect.

In discussing the fiscal 2008 defense budget, as released to the press on February 7, 2007, I have been guided by two experienced and reliable analysts: William D. Hartung of the New America Foundation's Arms and Security Initiative and Fred Kaplan, defense correspondent for They agree that the Department of Defense requested $481.4 billion for salaries, operations (except in Iraq and Afghanistan), and equipment. They also agree on a figure of $141.7 billion for the "supplemental" budget to fight the "global war on terrorism" -- that is, the two on-going wars that the general public may think are actually covered by the basic Pentagon budget. The Department of Defense also asked for an extra $93.4 billion to pay for hitherto unmentioned war costs in the remainder of 2007 and, most creatively, an additional "allowance" (a new term in defense budget documents) of $50 billion to be charged to fiscal year 2009. This comes to a total spending request by the Department of Defense of $766.5 billion.

But there is much more. In an attempt to disguise the true size of the American military empire, the government has long hidden major military-related expenditures in departments other than Defense. For example, $23.4 billion for the Department of Energy goes toward developing and maintaining nuclear warheads; and $25.3 billion in the Department of State budget is spent on foreign military assistance (primarily for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Republic, Egypt, and Pakistan). Another $1.03 billion outside the official Department of Defense budget is now needed for recruitment and reenlistment incentives for the overstretched U.S. military itself, up from a mere $174 million in 2003, the year the war in Iraq began. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently gets at least $75.7 billion, 50% of which goes for the long-term care of the grievously injured among the at least 28,870 soldiers so far wounded in Iraq and another 1,708 in Afghanistan. The amount is universally derided as inadequate. Another $46.4 billion goes to the Department of Homeland Security.

Missing as well from this compilation is $1.9 billion to the Department of Justice for the paramilitary activities of the FBI; $38.5 billion to the Department of the Treasury for the Military Retirement Fund; $7.6 billion for the military-related activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and well over $200 billion in interest for past debt-financed defense outlays. This brings U.S. spending for its military establishment during the current fiscal year (2008), conservatively calculated, to at least $1.1 trillion.

Military Keynesianism

Such expenditures are not only morally obscene, they are fiscally unsustainable. Many neoconservatives and poorly informed patriotic Americans believe that, even though our defense budget is huge, we can afford it because we are the richest country on Earth. Unfortunately, that statement is no longer true. The world's richest political entity, according to the CIA's "World Factbook," is the European Union. The EU's 2006 GDP (gross domestic product -- all goods and services produced domestically) was estimated to be slightly larger than that of the U.S. However, China's 2006 GDP was only slightly smaller than that of the U.S., and Japan was the world's fourth richest nation.

A more telling comparison that reveals just how much worse we're doing can be found among the "current accounts" of various nations. The current account measures the net trade surplus or deficit of a country plus cross-border payments of interest, royalties, dividends, capital gains, foreign aid, and other income. For example, in order for Japan to manufacture anything, it must import all required raw materials. Even after this incredible expense is met, it still has an $88 billion per year trade surplus with the United States and enjoys the world's second highest current account balance. (China is number one.) The United States, by contrast, is number 163 -- dead last on the list, worse than countries like Australia and the United Kingdom that also have large trade deficits. Its 2006 current account deficit was $811.5 billion; second worst was Spain at $106.4 billion. This is what is unsustainable.

It's not just that our tastes for foreign goods, including imported oil, vastly exceed our ability to pay for them. We are financing them through massive borrowing. On November 7, 2007, the U.S. Treasury announced that the national debt had breached $9 trillion for the first time ever. This was just five weeks after Congress raised the so-called debt ceiling to $9.815 trillion. If you begin in 1789, at the moment the Constitution became the supreme law of the land, the debt accumulated by the federal government did not top $1 trillion until 1981. When George Bush became president in January 2001, it stood at approximately $5.7 trillion. Since then, it has increased by 45%. This huge debt can be largely explained by our defense expenditures in comparison with the rest of the world.

The world's top 10 military spenders and the approximate amounts each country currently budgets for its military establishment are:

1. United States (FY08 budget), $623 billion
2. China (2004), $65 billion
3. Russia, $50 billion
4. France (2005), $45 billion
5. United Kingdom, $42.8 billion
6. Japan (2007), $41.75 billion
7. Germany (2003), $35.1 billion
8. Italy (2003), $28.2 billion
9. South Korea (2003), $21.1 billion
10. India (2005 est.), $19 billion

World total military expenditures (2004 est.), $1,100 billion
World total (minus the United States), $500 billion

Our excessive military expenditures did not occur over just a few short years or simply because of the Bush administration's policies. They have been going on for a very long time in accordance with a superficially plausible ideology and have now become entrenched in our democratic political system where they are starting to wreak havoc. This ideology I call "military Keynesianism" -- the determination to maintain a permanent war economy and to treat military output as an ordinary economic product, even though it makes no contribution to either production or consumption.

This ideology goes back to the first years of the Cold War. During the late 1940s, the U.S. was haunted by economic anxieties. The Great Depression of the 1930s had been overcome only by the war production boom of World War II. With peace and demobilization, there was a pervasive fear that the Depression would return. During 1949, alarmed by the Soviet Union's detonation of an atomic bomb, the looming communist victory in the Chinese civil war, a domestic recession, and the lowering of the Iron Curtain around the USSR's European satellites, the U.S. sought to draft basic strategy for the emerging cold war. The result was the militaristic National Security Council Report 68 (NSC-68) drafted under the supervision of Paul Nitze, then head of the Policy Planning Staff in the State Department. Dated April 14, 1950, and signed by President Harry S. Truman on September 30, 1950, it laid out the basic public economic policies that the United States pursues to the present day.

In its conclusions, NSC-68 asserted: "One of the most significant lessons of our World War II experience was that the American economy, when it operates at a level approaching full efficiency, can provide enormous resources for purposes other than civilian consumption while simultaneously providing a high standard of living."

With this understanding, American strategists began to build up a massive munitions industry, both to counter the military might of the Soviet Union (which they consistently overstated) and also to maintain full employment as well as ward off a possible return of the Depression. The result was that, under Pentagon leadership, entire new industries were created to manufacture large aircraft, nuclear-powered submarines, nuclear warheads, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and surveillance and communications satellites. This led to what President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address of February 6, 1961: "The conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience" -- that is, the military-industrial complex.

By 1990, the value of the weapons, equipment, and factories devoted to the Department of Defense was 83% of the value of all plants and equipment in American manufacturing. From 1947 to 1990, the combined U.S. military budgets amounted to $8.7 trillion. Even though the Soviet Union no longer exists, U.S. reliance on military Keynesianism has, if anything, ratcheted up, thanks to the massive vested interests that have become entrenched around the military establishment. Over time, a commitment to both guns and butter has proven an unstable configuration. Military industries crowd out the civilian economy and lead to severe economic weaknesses. Devotion to military Keynesianism is, in fact, a form of slow economic suicide.

On May 1, 2007, the Center for Economic and Policy Research of Washington, D.C., released a study prepared by the global forecasting company Global Insight on the long-term economic impact of increased military spending. Guided by economist Dean Baker, this research showed that, after an initial demand stimulus, by about the sixth year the effect of increased military spending turns negative. Needless to say, the U.S. economy has had to cope with growing defense spending for more than 60 years. He found that, after 10 years of higher defense spending, there would be 464,000 fewer jobs than in a baseline scenario that involved lower defense spending.

Baker concluded:

"It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment."

These are only some of the many deleterious effects of military Keynesianism.

Hollowing Out the American Economy

It was believed that the U.S. could afford both a massive military establishment and a high standard of living, and that it needed both to maintain full employment. But it did not work out that way. By the 1960s, it was becoming apparent that turning over the nation's largest manufacturing enterprises to the Department of Defense and producing goods without any investment or consumption value was starting to crowd out civilian economic activities. The historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr., observes that, during the 1950s and 1960s, between one-third and two-thirds of all American research talent was siphoned off into the military sector. It is, of course, impossible to know what innovations never appeared as a result of this diversion of resources and brainpower into the service of the military, but it was during the 1960s that we first began to notice Japan was outpacing us in the design and quality of a range of consumer goods, including household electronics and automobiles.

Nuclear weapons furnish a striking illustration of these anomalies. Between the 1940s and 1996, the United States spent at least $5.8 trillion on the development, testing, and construction of nuclear bombs. By 1967, the peak year of its nuclear stockpile, the United States possessed some 32,500 deliverable atomic and hydrogen bombs, none of which, thankfully, was ever used. They perfectly illustrate the Keynesian principle that the government can provide make-work jobs to keep people employed. Nuclear weapons were not just America's secret weapon, but also its secret economic weapon. As of 2006, we still had 9,960 of them. There is today no sane use for them, while the trillions spent on them could have been used to solve the problems of social security and health care, quality education and access to higher education for all, not to speak of the retention of highly skilled jobs within the American economy.

The pioneer in analyzing what has been lost as a result of military Keynesianism was the late Seymour Melman (1917-2004), a professor of industrial engineering and operations research at Columbia University. His 1970 book, Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War, was a prescient analysis of the unintended consequences of the American preoccupation with its armed forces and their weaponry since the onset of the Cold War. Melman wrote (pp. 2-3):

"From 1946 to 1969, the United States government spent over $1,000 billion on the military, more than half of this under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations -- the period during which the [Pentagon-dominated] state management was established as a formal institution. This sum of staggering size (try to visualize a billion of something) does not express the cost of the military establishment to the nation as a whole. The true cost is measured by what has been foregone, by the accumulated deterioration in many facets of life by the inability to alleviate human wretchedness of long duration."

In an important exegesis on Melman's relevance to the current American economic situation, Thomas Woods writes:

"According to the U.S. Department of Defense, during the four decades from 1947 through 1987 it used (in 1982 dollars) $7.62 trillion in capital resources. In 1985, the Department of Commerce estimated the value of the nation's plant and equipment, and infrastructure, at just over $7.29 trillion. In other words, the amount spent over that period could have doubled the American capital stock or modernized and replaced its existing stock."

The fact that we did not modernize or replace our capital assets is one of the main reasons why, by the turn of the twenty-first century, our manufacturing base had all but evaporated. Machine tools -- an industry on which Melman was an authority -- are a particularly important symptom. In November 1968, a five-year inventory disclosed (p. 186) "that 64 percent of the metalworking machine tools used in U.S. industry were ten years old or older. The age of this industrial equipment (drills, lathes, etc.) marks the United States' machine tool stock as the oldest among all major industrial nations, and it marks the continuation of a deterioration process that began with the end of the Second World War. This deterioration at the base of the industrial system certifies to the continuous debilitating and depleting effect that the military use of capital and research and development talent has had on American industry."

Nothing has been done in the period since 1968 to reverse these trends and it shows today in our massive imports of equipment -- from medical machines like proton accelerators for radiological therapy (made primarily in Belgium, Germany, and Japan) to cars and trucks.

Our short tenure as the world's "lone superpower" has come to an end. As Harvard economics professor Benjamin Friedman has written:

"Again and again it has always been the world's leading lending country that has been the premier country in terms of political influence, diplomatic influence, and cultural influence. It's no accident that we took over the role from the British at the same time that we took over… the job of being the world's leading lending country. Today we are no longer the world's leading lending country. In fact we are now the world's biggest debtor country, and we are continuing to wield influence on the basis of military prowess alone."

Some of the damage done can never be rectified. There are, however, some steps that this country urgently needs to take. These include reversing Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthy, beginning to liquidate our global empire of over 800 military bases, cutting from the defense budget all projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States, and ceasing to use the defense budget as a Keynesian jobs program. If we do these things we have a chance of squeaking by. If we don't, we face probable national insolvency and a long depression.

Chalmers Johnson is the author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, just published in paperback. It is the final volume of his Blowback Trilogy, which also includes Blowback (2000) and The Sorrows of Empire (2004).

[Note: For those interested, click here to view a clip from a new film, "Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony," in Cinema Libre Studios' Speaking Freely series in which he discusses "military Keynesianism" and imperial bankruptcy. For sources on global military spending, please see: (1) Global Security Organization, "World Wide Military Expenditures" as well as Glenn Greenwald, "The bipartisan consensus on U.S. military spending"; (2) Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, "Report: China biggest Asian military spender."]

=>Finally - check out the excellent interview Scott Horton did with Chalmers Johnson.<=

Musharraf-Barak meeting 'shameful'

Press TV reports:

Pakistan's United Council of Action has criticized President Pervez Musharraf for meeting Israeli war minister Ehud Barak in France.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Senator Khurshid Ahmed, the council's parliamentary leader, termed the meeting a violation of Pakistan's principled position and said it tarnished the country's image in the Arab and Islamic world.

It is deplorable that President Musharraf invited Israeli minister to his hotel room in Paris where they held an hour-long meeting reportedly over Iran's nuclear program, the statement said.

He said that it was 'shameful' that President of Pakistan met a representative of a regime that has been founded based on the massacre and displacing of the native Palestinians and still continues bloodshed.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry confirmed media reports on Monday that Musharraf and Barak had met "by chance" last week in Paris.

Foreign ministry sources said Musharraf and Barak held two separate meetings, first at the Hotel Raphael. The following day, at Musharraf invitation, the two met again for an hour.

Barak reportedly expressed concern over the security of Pakistan's nuclear facilities, at the meeting.

Pakistan's United Council of Action, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, is a coalition of religious-political parties.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sadrists seek to end cease-fire


Influential members of Muqtada al-Sadr's movement have urged the anti-U.S. Shiite cleric not to extend a cease-fire when it expires next month, officials said Monday, a move that could jeopardize recent security gains.

The Iraqi Red Crescent Organization, meanwhile, gave a higher death toll than Iraqi officials from last week's devastating house explosion in the northern city of Mosul.

The relief organization said more than 60 people were killed and 280 wounded based on estimates from relatives who buried victims without officially registering them. Iraqi officials in Mosul maintain that nearly 40 were killed and more than 200 wounded.

Al-Sadr's August order for his feared Mahdi Army militia to freeze activities for six months was seen by U.S. commanders as a major factor in a nationwide reduction of violence.

But U.S. and Iraqi forces insisted they would continue to hunt down so-called rogue fighters who ignored the order. That has led to persistent friction inside the organization.

The maverick cleric has threatened not to renew the cease-fire unless the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki purges "criminal gangs" operating within security forces he claims are targeting his followers.

That was a reference to rival Shiite militiamen from the Badr Brigade who have infiltrated security forces participating in the ongoing crackdown against breakaway militia cells the U.S. has said were linked to Iran.

The political commission of al-Sadr's movement and some lawmakers and senior officials said they were urging him to follow through with his threat, pointing to recent raids against the movement in the southern Shiite cities of Diwaniyah, Basra and Karbala.

The group planned to send the message to al-Sadr's main office in the holy city of Najaf, two Sadrist legislators and a member of the political commission told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of retribution.

"We have demanded that the government purge these security organs and release our detainees," one official said. "We have not found any positive response so far from the government, so why then should we continue freezing the (Mahdi Army)?"

Al-Sadr's political commission is made up of the movement's most powerful officials whose opinion often reflects that of the cleric, although the officials stressed that he retains sole decision-making authority over the militia.

Underscoring the complaints, the military announced the arrest Monday of a man accused of gathering intelligence, using computers and forging documents as an associate of militia leaders involved in attacks on U.S.-led forces.

U.S. troops also detained 18 al-Qaida-linked militants in two days of operations ending Monday north of Baghdad.

Mahdi Army militiamen fought U.S. troops for much of 2004, and al-Sadr has tirelessly called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

His fighters were blamed for much of the retaliatory sectarian violence against Sunnis after the February 2006 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra, and the cease-fire has been credited with a dramatic drop in the group's signature attacks — execution-style killings and kidnappings.

The U.S. military has said an influx of some 30,000 additional American troops working more closely with Iraqi security forces and a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq are other major factors in the lull in violence.

But while major inroads have been made, Iraqis continue to face attacks, even in the capital, which is at the center of the security crackdown.

A roadside bomb struck a minibus carrying a coffin and mourners to a funeral in the predominantly Shiite southeastern neighborhood of New Baghdad, killing three passengers and wounding five, a police officer said.

The bomb apparently was meant for a police patrol but missed its target and blew up near the bus instead, a police officer said.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, a fire swept through the top four floors of Iraq's Central Bank building before dawn, engulfing the documents holding room as well as several offices of key officials, another police officer said.

The blaze broke out about 4 a.m. in the central bank governor's office, and an investigation was under way to determine the cause and extent of the damage, the officer said. He said firefighters had the flames under control after about four hours.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed to this report.

“We Can’t Afford to Let Them Spill the Beans”

Sibel Edmonds on Marc Grossman

I am not one to easily embrace conspiracy theories, and in particular have found the idea that 9-11 was somehow an inside job too incredible for serious consideration. On the other hand, there are some very fishy aspects to some officials’ behavior pertaining to the attacks. Justin Raimondo has made a very good case for the fact that Mossad agents posing as “Israeli art students” were tracking al-Qaeda operatives in the U.S. before 9/11.

Over 120 Israelis were detained after 9/11, some failing polygraph tests when asked about their involvement in intelligence gathering. But they were not held or charged with any illegal activity but rather deported. As former FBI translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has revealed, there was a curious failure of the government before 9/11 to act upon intelligence pertaining to an al-Qaeda attack. Most importantly Edmonds, defying the gag order that former Attorney General Ashcroft imposed on her in 2002, is implicating Marc Grossman, formerly the number three man in the State Department, in efforts to provide US nuclear secrets to Pakistan and Israel. She suggests this was done through Turkish and Pakistani contacts, including the former head of Pakistan’s ISI who funneled funds to Mohamed Atta! Now there’s a conspiracy for you.

Edmonds claims that during her time at the FBI (September 20, 2001 to March 22, 2002) she discovered that intelligence material had been deliberately allowed to accumulate without translation; that inept translators were retained and promoted; and that evidence for traffic in nuclear materials was ignored. More shockingly, she charges that Grossman arranged for Turkish and Israeli Ph.D. students to acquire security clearances to Los Alamos and other nuclear facilities; and that nuclear secrets they acquired were transmitted to Pakistan and to Abdul Qadeer Khan, the “father of the Islamic bomb,” who in turn was selling nuclear technology to Libya and other nations.

She links Grossman to the former Pakistani military intelligence chief Mahmoud Ahmad, a patron of the Taliban, who reportedly arranged for a payment of $100,000 to 9/11 ringleader Atta via Pakistani terrorist Saeed Sheikh before the attacks. She suggests that he warned Pakistani and Turkish contacts against dealings with the Brewster Jennings Corp., the CIA front company that Valerie Plame was involved in as part of an effort to infiltrate a nuclear smuggling ring. All very heady stuff, published this month in The Times of London (and largely ignored by the U.S. media).

She does not identify Grossman by name in the Times article, but she has in the past, and former CIA officer Philip Giraldi does so in an extremely interesting article in the American Conservative. From that and many other sources, I come up with the timeline that appears below.

But first, some background on Grossman. A graduate of UC Santa Barbara and the London School of Economics, he was a career Foreign Service officer from 1976 when he began to serve at the US embassy in Pakistan. He continued in that post to 1983, when he became the Deputy Director of the Private Office of Lord Carrington, the Secretary General of NATO. From 1989 to 1992 he was Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Turkey, and from 1994 to 1997, US Ambassador to Turkey. As ambassador he strongly supported massive arms deals between the US and Ankara.

Thereafter he was Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, responsible for over 4,000 State Department employees posted in 50 sites abroad with a program budget of $1.2 billion to 2000. In 1999 he played a leading role in orchestrating NATO’s 50th anniversary Summit in Washington, and helped direct US participation in NATO’s military campaign in Kosovo that same year. As Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from the beginning of George W. Bush’s administration to January 2005, he played a bit role in the Plame Affair, informing “Scooter” Libby of Plame’s CIA affiliation.

Grossman is close to the American Turkish Council (ATC) founded in 1994 as a sister organization to the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). Its founders include neoconservatives involved in the Israel-Turkey relationship, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, as well as Henry Kissinger, Brent Snowcroft and former congressman Stephen Solarz. (Perle and Feith had earlier been registered lobbyists for Turkey through Feith’s company, International Advisors Inc. Perle was at one point making $600,000 per year from such activity). Edmonds says this is “an association in name and in charter only; the reality is that it and other affiliated associations are the US government, lobbyists, foreign agents, and Military Industrial Complex.” (M. Christine Vick of Grossman’s Cohen Group serves on the Board of Advisors.) Grossman is also close to the American Turkish Association (ATA), and regularly speaks at its events.

Both ATA and ATC have been targets of FBI investigations because of their suspected ties with drug smuggling, but Edmonds claims she heard wiretaps connecting ATC with other illegal activities, some related to 9/11. The CIA has investigated it in connection with the smuggling of nuclear secrets and material. Valerie Plame and the CIA front group Brewster Jennings were monitoring it when Bush administration officials leaked her identity in July 2003. Edmonds, Giraldi, and researchers Christopher Deliso and Luke Ryland accuse him of suspiciously enriching himself while in government service. Nevertheless he was awarded the Foreign Service’s highest rank when President Bush appointed him to the rank of Career Ambassador in 2004, and received Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award the following year.

A dual Israeli-American national, Grossman has promoted the neocon agenda of forcing “regime change” in the Middle East. “[T]he time has come now,” he declared on the eve of the Iraq invasion, “to make a stand against this kind of connection between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. And we think Iraq is a place to make that stand first . . . the great threat today is the nexus between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.” But he has not been as conspicuous a war advocate as Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Libby, Bolton, and some others. (Perle and Feith, one should note, were also deeply involved in lobbying activities on behalf of Turkey as well as Israel in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Edelman was ambassador to Turkey 2003-05 where, chagrined by the Turkish failure to enthusiastically support the US occupation of Iraq, he deeply offended his hosts.) Grossman seems less an ideologue driven to make the world safer for Israel than a corrupt, amoral, self-aggrandizing opportunist. Anyway, here is an incomplete chronology of his alleged wrongdoing, along with other relevant details.


As newly appointed Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Grossman assists Turkish, Israeli and other moles — mainly Ph.D. students — godfathering visa and arranging for security clearances to work in sensitive research facilities, including the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico. FBI taps his phone 2001-2, finds he is receiving bribes (one for $15,000). Edmonds states: “I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of 2½ years. There are almost certainly more.”

Between August and September: Grossman warns his Turkish associates seeking to acquire nuclear secrets that Brewster Jennings (for whom CIA agent Valerie Plame works) is a CIA front.

Sept. 4: Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad, the chief of Pakistan ’s intelligence service (ISI) arrives in US, meets with Grossman and other U.S. officials.

Sept. 10: Report by Amir Mateen in Pakistani newspaper Dawn ( Karachi ): “[Ahmad] also held long parleys with unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon. But the most important meeting was with Mark Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. US sources would not furnish any details beyond saying that the two discussed ‘matters of mutual interests.’”

Sept. 11: Gen. Ahmad is having breakfast in Washington with Congressman Porter Goss (R-Fla.) and Senator Bob Graham (D) when attacks occur.

(Goss had had 10 years in clandestine operations in CIA and later — September 22, 2003-May 5, 2006 — heads the organization. Graham and Goss later are the co-chairs of the joint House-Senate investigation that proclaimed there was “no smoking gun” as far as President George W. Bush having any advance knowledge of September 11.)

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, FBI arrests people suspected of being involved with the attacks — including four Turkish and Pakistani associates of key targets of FBI’s counterintelligence operations. Sibel heard the targets tell Grossman: “We need to get them out of the U.S. because we can’t afford for them to spill the beans.” Grossman facilitates their release from jail and suspects immediately leave US without further investigation or interrogation.

Sept. 12-13: Meetings between Ahmad and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Armitage threatens to bomb Pakistan “back to the Stone Age” unless it cooperates in US attack on Afghanistan. Ahmad also meets Secretary of State Colin Powell. Agreement on Pakistan’s collaboration is secured.

Sept. 20: Sibel Edmonds, a 32-year-old Turkish-American, hired as a translator by the FBI.

According to Edmonds, she overheard an agent on a 2000 wiretap discussing with Saudi businessmen in Detroit “nuclear information that had been stolen from an air force base in Alabama,” and stating: “We have a package and we’re going to sell it for $250,000.” She also claims she listened to recordings of a high official (Grossman) receiving bribes from Turkish officials.

Early October: Indian intelligence reports that Gen. Ahmad had in summer of 2001 ordered Saeed Sheikh (convicted of the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl) to wire US$100,000 from Dubai to one of hijacker Mohamed Atta’s two bank accounts in Florida. FBI confirms story, reported on ABC news.

Oct. 7: US-led Coalition begins air strikes against Taliban.

Oct. 8: Gen. Ahmad, Taliban supporter and an opponent of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, forced to retire from his post as director-general of ISI.

Late Oct.: Pakistani government arrests three Pakistani nuclear scientists, all with close ties to Khan, for their suspected connections with the Taliban.


Early March: Edmonds sends faxes to Senators Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy on the Judiciary Committee, is called in for polygraph test; Department of Justice inspector general’s report states “she was not deceptive in her answers.”

March: Grossman keynote speaker at ATC conference.

March 22: Edmunds fired, allegedly for shoddy work, security breaches.

Oct. 27: Edmonds appears on CBS’ 60 Minutes program.

Dec: Grossman visits Turkey, approves $3 billion US aid to Turkey for the Iraq Cooperation deal.


March 3: In interview for Dutch television, Grossman says, “[T]he time has come now to make a stand against this kind of connection between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. And we think Iraq is a place to make that stand first . . . the great threat today is the nexus between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.”

May 29: Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff “Scooter” Libby asks Grossman for information about news report about the secret envoy sent by the CIA to Africa in 2002. Grossman requests a classified memo from Carl Ford, the director of the State Department’s intelligence bureau, and later orally briefs Libby on its contents.

Mid-June: Powell and his deputy secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy of the Grossman memo.

June 10: Grossman asks the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) for a briefing on the Niger uranium issue, and specifically the State Department’s opposition to the continuing White House view that Iraq had tried to buy yellow cake. The resulting memo is dated the same day, and drawn from notes on the February 19 meeting at the CIA on the Wilson mission and other sources. Memo is classified “Top Secret,” and contains in one paragraph, separately marked “(S/NF)” for “Secret/No dissemination to foreign governments or intelligence agencies,” two sentences describing in passing Valerie “Wilson’s” identity as a CIA operative and her role in the inception of the Wilson trip to Niger. This June 10 memo reportedly does not use her maiden name Plame.

June 17-July 9: Senate Judiciary Committee holds unclassified hearings on Edmunds’ allegations.

June 19: letter from Senior Republican Senator, Charles Grassley, and Senior Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine concerning Edmonds’ allegations.

July 14: Robert Novak reveals Plame’s CIA identity.

July 22: Edmonds files suit against the Department of Justice, the FBI, and several high-level officials, alleging that she was wrongfully terminated from the FBI in retaliation for reporting criminal activities committed by government employees.

Aug. 13: letter from two senators to Attorney General Ashcroft concerning Sibel Edmonds’ allegations.

Aug. 15: 600 victims of the 9/11 attacks file suit (Burnett v. Al Baraka Investment & Dev. Corp.), request from Edmonds deposition providing evidence for US government foreknowledge of 9-11 attacks.

Sept. 22: Goss made CIA Director (resigns May 5, 2006).

Oct. 18, 2002: Attorney General John Ashcroft invokes the State Secrets Privilege (requested not by Justice Department but by State department) in order to prevent disclosure of the nature of Edmonds’ work on the grounds that it would endanger national security, and asked that her wrongful termination suit be dismissed, in effect placing Edmonds under a gag order.

Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Ca.) expresses outrage at gag order, promises that a Democratic majority in Congress would conduct hearings. (This has not been done.)

Oct. 28: Letter from two senators to FBI Director Robert Mueller concerning Sibel Edmonds’ allegations.

Dec. 11, 2003, Attorney General Ashcroft again invoking the State Secrets Privilege, files a motion calling for Edmonds’ deposition in Burnett v. Al Baraka case be suppressed and for the entire case to be dismissed. The judge, seeking more information, orders government to produce any unclassified material relating to the case. In response, Ashcroft submits further statements to justify the use of the State Secrets Privilege.

Dec: Grossman back in Turkey to approve Turkey ’s eligibility to participate in tenders for Iraq’s reconstruction.


Grossman achieves Foreign Service’s highest rank when President Bush appoints him to rank of Career Ambassador.

Patrick Leahy calls for investigation; Sen. Orrin Hatch, Republican Chairman of the Senate, blocks it.

May 13: Ashcroft retroactively classifies all material that had been provided to Senate Judiciary Committee in 2000 relating to Edmond’s lawsuit, as well as the senators’ letters that had already been posted on-line by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

June 23: POGO files lawsuit against Justice Department for classifying material it had published; Justice Department fails to get the case dismissed.

July 6: Edmonds suit dismissed on state secrets grounds.

July: Edmonds files appeal. On same day, Inspector General releases unclassified summary of a highly classified report on an investigation that had concluded “that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services. . . Rather than investigate Edmonds’ allegations vigorously and thoroughly, the FBI concluded that she was a disruption and terminated her contract.”

August: Edmonds founds the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) to address US security weaknesses.

December: Grossman the key speaker at an ATC Conference held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.


Grossman receives Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award.

January: Grossman quits his government job. Eric Edelman, another former ambassador to Turkey, takes job of Under Secretary of Defence for Policy.

January: Pakistani nuclear engineer A.Q. Khan confesses to having been involved in a clandestine international network of nuclear weapons technology proliferation from Pakistan to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

Feb. 5: Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf announces he has pardoned Khan. US response is mild.

March: Grossman made vice-chairman of Cohen Group.

Feb. 18: Justice Department under new attorney general backs away from claim that documents posted by POGO were classified.

April 21: In the hours before the hearing of her appeal, three judges issued a ruling that barred all reporters and the public from the courtroom. During the proceedings, Edmonds was not allowed into the courtroom for the hearing.

May 6: Edmonds’ case dismissed, no reason provided, no opinion cited.

May 14: In open letter, Edmonds states the governments wants to silence her to “protect certain diplomatic relations” and to “protect certain U.S. foreign business relations.” Says the “foreign relations” mentioned in the gag order “are not in the interest of, or of benefit to, the majority of Americans, but instead serve and protect a small minority.”

June 20: Edmonds writes: “(In) April 2001, a long-term FBI informant/asset who had been providing the bureau with information since 1990, provided two FBI agents and a translator with specific information regarding a terrorist attack being planned by Osama Bin Laden. For almost four years since September 11, officials refused to admit to having specific information regarding the terrorists’ plans to attack the United States. The Phoenix Memo, received months prior to the 9/11 attacks, specifically warned FBI HQ of pilot training and their possible link to terrorist activities against the US. Four months prior to the terrorist attacks the Iranian asset provided the FBI with specific information regarding the ‘use of airplanes’, ‘major US cities as targets’, and ‘Osama Bin Laden issuing the order.’ Coleen Rowley likewise reported that specific information had been provided to FBI HQ.”

July 20: Unidentified as a “retired state department official” Grossman tells AP that a classified State Department memo disputed the legitimacy of administration claims that Iraq sought to acquire uranium from Niger, also contained a few lines about Plame Wilson’s CIA employment, marked as secret.

August 5: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) petitioned for the Supreme Court of the United States to review the lower courts’ application of the State Secret Privilege in both lawsuits. The ACLU claims that the courts conflated the State Secrets Privilege and the Totten rule.

Sept. 28: Washington Post cites unnamed former administration source (Grossman) as stating that the outing of Plame was “Clearly . . . meant purely and simply for revenge.”

Oct. 28: In Patrick Fitzgerald’s indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Grossman is the Under Secretary of State mentioned as giving information about Plame to Libby.

November: Grossman attends lavish Turkish Ottoman Dinner Gala, receives award from Turkish lobby group, the Assembly of American Turkish Association (ATAA) in Chicago.

Nov. 28: the Supreme Court declined to review the decisions made in the Edmonds case.


March: Grossman the key speaker at the ATC annual conference.

June: Grossman key speaker at MERIA Conference, discussing Turkey’s importance to US and Israel.

Sept. 2006: a documentary about Sibel Edmonds’ case called Kill The Messenger (”Une Femme à Abattre”) premiers in France. (watch film here)


January 24: Grossman first to testify in Libby trial. Says he informed Libby of Plame’s involvement “in about 30 seconds of conversation” in June 2003.

November: Grossman subpoenaed by defense in AIPAC trial.

Nov. 26: Grossman, now Vice Chairman of the consulting firm the Cohen Group, attends a major Security Conference in Riga, Latvia.


January: Edmonds posts, without comment, photos of current and former officials and Turkish associates on website: Richard Perle, Eric Edelman, Marc Grossman, Brent Snowcroft, Larry Franklin, Ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Roy Blunt (R-Mo), Dan Burton (R-Ind.), Tom Lantos (D-Ca.), Bob Livingston (ex-House Speaker, R-La.), Stephen Solarz (D-NY), Graham Fulle (RAND), David Makovsky (WINEP), Martin Markovsky (WINEP), Yusuf Turani (president in exile of Turkmenistan), Prof. Sabri Sayari (Columbia University, WINEP), Mehmet Eymur (former head of Turkish counter-terrorism).

Jan. 6: The Times of London carries story, “For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets.” States that a high official “was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives.” Claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials — including household names — who were aiding foreign agents.

“If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials.”

Jan. 22: White House issues statement declaring its intention to approve sale of nuclear secrets to Turkey; Joshua Frank writes on January 25, “It appears the White House has been spooked by Edmonds and hopes to absolve the US officials allegedly involved in the illegal sale of nuclear technology to private Turkish ‘entities’.” Frank identifies Grossman as one of these officials.

* * * * *

Edmonds is tirelessly and fearlessly campaigning for Congressman Waxman, now chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to hold hearings. She says that FBI agents and even former Turkish intelligence officials are willing and able to validate her charges. But the congressman hesitates, perhaps fearing the storm of indignation that explosive evidence will produce in a country sick of its politicians, the lying neocons, and the war. Should they discover that, while disseminating disinformation about foreign nukes in order to fearmonger and build support for aggressive war, some of these officials were actually peddling nuclear secrets — committing treason while receiving honors for their patriotic service — the response could be explosive.

The Office of Special Plans under Abram Shulsky and Douglas Feith cherry-picked the intelligence vetted through the New York Times to terrify people into supporting an attack on Iraq. Democratic leaders have in the past urged an investigation of that spooky office, but furnished the opportunity since November 2006, they have declined to hold hearings. The Italian parliament conducted a study of the Niger uranium hoax, fingering neocon Michael Ledeen as a key suspect in forging documents designed to provide a casus belli before the Iran attack. Congress does nothing to follow up. In effect they are saying that the administration has a right to lie to the people. The presidential pardon granted Libby is a clear statement that it’s okay to punish whistleblowers like Joseph Wilson. The Supreme Court refuses to hear Edmonds’ appeal. It seems that all three branches of government compete to coddle the most unscrupulous and lawless officials, while marginalizing or punishing honest citizens who expose the rot.

The publication of the National Intelligence Estimate undercutting the administration’s case for attacking Iran indicates that there are in the US intelligence community persons alarmed by the administration’s lies and efforts to justify more aggression based on lies. It enrages the neocons who, with Norman Podhoretz in the lead, have been praying for Bush to bomb Iran. The arrest and conviction of Feith subordinate Larry Franklin shows that within the FBI there are forces disturbed at the close connections between the neocons, Israeli intelligence, and the Israel lobby and are willing to take action against lawbreaking. But Feith and Perle have both been investigated before, Perle for discussing classified information with Israeli Embassy staff in an FBI-monitored phone call in Washington in 1970. But the cases dropped for apparent political reasons. Perhaps the Grossman story will gain some traction. Maybe it will prove egregious enough that the tide will turn. Maybe Bush’s last year of office will see the neocons’ thorough exposure, humiliation and defeat.

Or maybe Waxman, Rep. Conyers and others in positions to honestly confront this most mendacious of administrations will continue to dither, feeding the assumption of the most vicious, cynical and corrupt that they are indeed above the law. And earning the contempt of those naïve enough to expect serious congressional oversight of a rogue regime.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Gary.

Brother of murdered Turkish journalist blames USA for anti-Iranian "false flag" operation

(The following was sent to me by a reader to whom I am most grateful. VS)

The assassination of the leftist investigative journalist and columnist Ugur Mumcu in 1993 was seen by Turkey's secular establishment, media and armed forces as an opportunity to galvanize anti-Islamic feelings in general and anti-Iranian feelings in particular. The assassination was blamed on Iran, who allegedly used the (Turkish) Hizbullah as a pawn. In reality, the Sunni Hizbullah has very little in common with its namesake in Lebanon and it is an established fact that this group was used by Turkey's paramilitary establishment against the PKK during the 1990's.

Recently, news items on Hizbullah have once again started appearing in the Turkish media. There are grounds to interpret this as part of a subtle psychological operation to season the Turkish public opinion against Iran. If that proves to be the case, then the parallels between the Mumcu assassination and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Centre in Buenos Aires are quite striking.

Ugur Mumcu was assassinated by the US, claims his brother

Tevhid Haber, 26 January 2008

Renown journalist Ugur Mumcu was assassinated in Ankara on 24 January 1993. On the 15th anniversary of his assassination (24 January 2008), Ugur Mumcu's solicitor brother Ceyhan Mumcu said to Ulusal Kanal (National Channel) that he was definitely murdered by the US and that blaming Iran for this was a mere diversion. Ceyhan Mumcu has made the following call to the public: "Let's be careful from now on and do not claim that Ugur Mumcu was murdered by Iran. Although I've been reiterating this point frequently, unfortunately some people are still giving statements to the contrary to the press. According to my research, US took the decision to murder him in May 1992."

Ceyhan also said that over the last years of his life Ugur Mumcu was conducting a research on the activities of the US- and Israel-linked terror organization PKK.

Throughout his life he never wrote critical pieces on Iran; on the contrary, he once wrote about his esteem for Khomeini who said 'neither USA or USSR' and aimed for a completely independent Iran. "My brother was murdered due to his anti-imperialist and pro-independence stance" said Ceyhan.

(link to the original news item in Turkish:

US and Turkish Generals to discuss anti-Kurdish cooperation

(The following was sent to me by a reader to whom I am most grateful. VS)


"Turkey, US to discuss anti-PKK work, defense ties"

by Umit Enginsoy, Turkish Daily News, 29 January 2008
[emphasis added]

A top Turkish general will meet with his U.S. counterparts in Washington this week to review the military cooperation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and to discuss bilateral defense matters.

Gen. Ergin Saygun, deputy chief of the Turkish General Staff, will hold talks with Gen. James Cartwrigtht, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, later this week mainly to discuss intelligence sharing between the United States and the Turkish Armed Forces in the fight against PKK terrorists, officials said. Saygun is also expected to meet U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman and Gen. John Craddock, commander of U.S. forces in Europe (EUCOM) and supreme commander of NATO Allied Forces in Europe, as part of anti-PKK talks. EUCOM coordinates the U.S. military's intelligence-sharing mechanism with its Turkish counterparts.In the wake of the PKK's attacks on Turkish targets that escalated in September and early October, Ankara warned that it might send its army into neighboring northern Iraq where the PKK has bases. Opposing a unilateral and large-scale Turkish incursion into Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush pledged at a meeting with visiting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in early November last year to provide the Turkish military with actionable intelligence to conduct limited operations against specific PKK targets inside Iraqi territory.Since then Turkish fighter aircraft have repeatedly struck PKK positions in Iraq, including the terrorist group's headquarters on the Kandil mountain range, more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the two countries' border. The Turkish air strikes were conducted with the apparent blessing of Washington and Turkey's civilian and military leaders have praised "the United States' help against terrorism."

Defense cooperation:

Saygun, Cartwright and Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the coalition forces in Iraq, have been designated as point men in coordinating the U.S. and Turkish armed forces' anti-PKK work.Today and Wednesday, Saygun and Mary Beth Long, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security, will co-chair the annual meetings of the U.S.-Turkish High-Level Defense Group, a mechanism used by senior officials and generals to review the military and defense relationship of the two countries. The last round of talks was held in Ankara last year.The High-Level Defense Group's subcommittees discuss cooperation in the defense industry, regional issues and other defense matters. Amid disputes over Iraq's U.S.-led invasion in 2003, those meetings were put on hold for a few years but resumed in 2007. Saygun is scheduled to return to Turkey on Feb. 7 after visiting several U.S. bases throughout the country.

Listening to Caligula - reflexions on the Empire's fate

This morning I finally gathered the courage to sit down and listen to Caligula's speech to the Imperial Senate. I was prepared for the worst, but what I actually saw was even worse than what I had expected.

What should I have expected to hear from the most incompetent President in US history speaking in front of a Congress even more despised by the American people? Should I have had any hopes for at least some references to reality? I now see that this hope would have been quite misplaced.

Listening to Caligula one would think that all was well in the Empire and watching his barking seals jumping up and down after each triumphal pronouncement of the Emperor one could be forgiven for believing that we were just one minute away from finally reaching Communism, the 1000 year Reich or the 'end of history' (pick your choice - they all mean the same anyway). To give credit where credit is due, C-SPAN did a truly magnificent job of showing the appropriate person at the right time, the right angle of enthusiastically applauding Imperial Senators, etc. They would have made Goebbels proud, if not envious, of their skills.

For the first time I noted that each Imperial Senator's seat was flanked by a star of David on each side (check the video on YouTube if you missed that) and I wondered - is that a sign of support, or power, of vetting or of allegiance?

But my overwhelming thought watching all this buffoonery was that truly the scum of the earth had gathered under the Congress' dome and that there is no possibility at all to reform this system, to hope that the USA will change from within, or to 'vote them out of office'. To hold on to any such thought is, I think, the height of delusion. No, change can only from outside.

To paraphrase George Orwell, "if there is hope it lies in the aliens" (to use the American expression for non-Americans). The control of Caligula and his minions over this country is simply without limits and if the Emperors' speech yesterday shows us anything, it is that the US political 'reality' can exist in a vacuum in which facts, the reality on the ground, simply does not matter.

You can be the worst President in US history, the most hated man on earth, the most conspicuously stupid, ignorant and arrogant political leader on the face of the planet, but you will still get the Imperial Senate to give you more standing ovations than Hitler or Kim Il-Sung could ever hope for. The deafening silence which greeted this Kafkaesque performance in the US media and in the street is a sure sign that the vast majority of Americans have been brainwashed beyond repair by their corporate media.

Sure, some like Ron Paul or Cindy Sheehan, will object to every single thing Caligula said and denounce him for the fraud that he is. But they will also work within the system, hoping to change it from within. That is, I truly believe, an absolutely misguided and futile hope.

The US Empire is probably the most arrogant empire in history. No Empire I can think off was so deeply imbued with a messianic ideology defining its every policy (although the early Soviet Union and Nazi Germany came close). The 'manifest destiny' doctrine has now reached a quasi religious apotheosis which makes the US polity look more like some bizarre doomsday cult "a la Jim Jones" than like a normal imperial administration.

The Empire, in its final stages, is very much like a sinking "Titanic" with all its passengers dancing and drinking on the elegant decks and halls, sure of the omnipotence, impunity and invulnerability. The Islamic iceberg has already ripped the ship's hull, the freezing water is already gushing in, but the crew and passengers are still celebrating their magnificence, utterly oblivious to the almost inaudible sounds and tremors from below the deck which the music of their orchestra so successfully drowns.

Yesterday's speech was truly a historic moment. We witnessed an act of collective denial and folly: Caligula's last speech to the Imperial senate. It will, no doubt, go down in history as one of those baffling events which future generations will struggle to understand and to make sense of.

Hamas Warns of Israeli Conspiracy over Rafah Crossing

Al-Manar TV reports:

The Islamic Resistance Movement of Hamas has dismissed as an Israeli-led conspiracy PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's proposal to deploy his own, Western-trained forces at the Rafah crossing along with the EU monitors.

Palestinian Authority said Monday that it had reached a deal with Egypt to take control of the Gaza border. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri dismissed the proposal, calling it an "Israeli-led international conspiracy with the participation of some regional parties" which would exclude them from controlling the border. "We tell all parties that we will not allow the return of old conditions at the crossing," Abu-Zuhri said.

Interim Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad asked Hamas not to "interfere", saying "they should just simply get out of the way and allow this to happen''.

In Rafah, however, it was Hamas forces that were very much in control, working closely with Egyptian border guards and riot police to seal one of the three breaches and organize traffic at the other two. "There has been continuous and direct cooperation with Egyptian security officials over the last couple of days,'' said a Hamas security official. "They asked us to only allow trucks to enter and not civilian cars to make the operation as orderly as possible".

Hamas insists on having a say in the administration of the border, the opening of which has given it a tremendous lift among inhabitants of Gaza who have been sealed off from the outside world for the past two years. "Hamas affirms that the time of (Israeli) siege is over, and it will not allow any party to bring back our people to the cage,'' Abu Zuhri said.

Taher Nunu, another Hamas government spokesman, earlier said that "no one can exclude the (Hamas) government here from the crossing arrangements or any other issue. This is the legitimate government''.

Some form of agreement on who controls the border may come on Wednesday when a Hamas delegation will hold separate meetings with Egyptian officials in Cairo. A delegation of Hamas, representing the Islamic movement's politburo Chief and the government based in Gaza, will visit Egypt Wednesday for discussions over border crossing points, the Hamas spokesman said Monday. "The visit comes upon an Egyptian invitation and following contacts between the movement and the Egyptian leadership," Abu Zuhri said.

Representatives of the Palestinian Authority will not participate in the talks because they refuse to deal with Hamas. Abbas plans to run Gaza crossings but excluding Hamas in the process. Abbas' plan adopts a US-brokered deal, signed in November 2005, to open Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt borders with European Union monitoring as the third party and pro-Abbas security services taking control of the Palestinian side of the passages.

But Abu Zuhri said his movement endorses "a new mechanism and new arrangements to open the crossing," stressing that the international agreement on Rafah "was something from the past." "What we need is a Palestinian-Egyptian crossing point... Hamas will present its vision in this regard to Egypt," Abu Zuhri added.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger wants to deport Palestinians to the Sinai desert (UPDATES 1 and 2!)

Just listen to this loony:

This is not just some smiling lunatic speaking, no, this is nothing less than Yona Metzger the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, i.e. the head of the largest most numerous group of religious Jews in Israel. And that gentleman calmly proposes to commit a major crime against humanity (deportation). Interestingly, in the Haaretz article about this interview the editors only report on Metzger's crazy proposals, but stay well clear from calling them what they clearly are: a conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity.

I can just imagine the reaction in the world press if, say, Ahmadinejad proposed to deport all Israeli Jews to the Sinai desert. The one thing which I cannot decide is whether Metzger needs to be put in jail, in an insane asylum or to undergo an exorcism; I tend to lean towards the latter though - he is just too evil to be fully responsible for his actions.
UPDATE1: Guess what? This maniac is also a child molester. Check out the Yona Metzger entry in the The Awareness Center of The Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault (JCASA) website.

To think that this Khazar Satanist is the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel is rather frightening. If this is the kind of spiritual leader this nation is guided by, no wonder it uses all its power to keep the last racist regime on earth in power, that it created the biggest prison on the surface of the planet (Gaza) and that it violated more articles of international law and UN resolutions that any other country.

I look at the smiling face of this pedophile advocate of crimes against humanity and my heart goes out to the Palestinian people who have to deal with the rabid maniacs who follow this kind of 'spiritual leader' on a daily basis.
UPDATE2: This taken from an article in the Jerusalem Post: During a short verbal exchange Wednesday at the Ben-Gurion Airport Terminal, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger thanked President George W. Bush for the US's military intervention in Iraq."I want to thank you for your support of Israel and in particular for waging a war against Iraq," Metzger told Bush, according to the chief rabbi's spokesman. Bush reportedly answered that the chief rabbi's words "warmed his heart." Clearly, the good rebbe thinks that a war which already killed over a million people is a touching expression of support for the "Jewish state" and a great success.

Truly having vicious perverts like Metzger as a top 'spiritual leader' in the holy city of Jerusalem is the the abomination of desolation in a holy place (Mat 24:15) predicted by the holy prophet Daniel.

Heed my words, sooner or later these characters will blow up the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount with truly unimaginable consequences.

The State of the Union speech Bush should deliver tonight

Alas, we can be sure that the one he will deliver tonight will be far more boring and far less realistic.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The biggest threat to international security and peace: the "Gang of Four" - let's keep an eye on them!

There is the facade: organization like NATO, or the British Commonwealth, or the Arab League. And then there are the real alliances, the ones that matter when things get tough, when important decisions need to be made. Some of them are centered around a common project, such as the ECHELON countries, while others have almost no visible existence. As usual, these are less conspiracies than collusions. These alliances are informal, they can fluctuate and they can often involve countries which, at least in public, are often opposed to each other.

For years I have had my own list of truly dangerous countries, countries whose governments represent the biggest threat to international security and peace, and I have always tried to keep track of their behind-the-scenes actions. Here is my personal list of 'rogue states', in 'order of toxicity', if you wish:

1) Israel
2) Turkey
3) Pakistan
4) Saudi Arabia

I call them "the gang of four" (a tongue-in-cheek reference to another "gang of four" in China)

The US itself, which is mostly the unwitting (if powerful) puppet in the hands of these countries is really in a category of its own and should be included in this list more as the "conference room" and as a "relay" of the other four than as an actor in its own right (at least as long as the Neocons, having being successful in hijacking American sovereignty, remain in complete command of the USA).

Two countries of the Gang of Four, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, are undergoing an internal political crisis triggered by the deep disconnect there is between the ruling elites (prostitutes of the Empire) and not only their public opinion but even a good chunk of the elites themselves. This is not unlike what is now also taking place in Egypt.

Israel and Turkey are thus the most formidable ones among the others and they are the leaders of the gang; if there is a true 'axis of evil' is certainly the one linking Jerusalem to Ankara.

There are, of course, major differences between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. For one thing, only the Musharraf regime is truly on the verge of a total collapse and Pakistan itself, as a country, is in danger to fall apart into separate entities (one could even make the case that this has already happened). I observe no such thing in Saudi Arabia.

There have been some interesting moves by some Gang members recently.

Last week, it was Turks meeting with the Israelis, primarily to bolster intelligence cooperation. This week, Haaretz broke the story of a secret Barak-Musharraf meeting in Paris. Looks like three out of four Gang members are getting busy. All we need now is a meeting between any one of these three and the Saudis or their numerous trusted middlemen from the business world.

What could these consultations be all about? The Empire is certainly falling apart in many places: Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, South America, Lebanon, Russia, China - all slowly but inexorably slipping away from the imperial control. A huge, financial and economic crisis is looming and there is no foreseeable sign of a recovery, at least not for the USA. As the USA is becoming more and more disoriented from the multiple crises resulting from 8 years of Neocon rule, I expect the Gang of Four to become more and more active.

While it will be hard for us to know what they are up to, we will probably notice and increase of 'chatter' among the Gang members, in particular if Musharraf or Mubarak are violently thrown out of power at which point panic will set in and the remaining gang members will scramble for safety by cracking down on their internal and external enemies.

I ask all of you, my friends and readers, to please keep me informed (by email) if you come across any information about any activity, no matter how apparently small or routine, involving two or more of these Gang members.