Category Archives: Secret Wars

The West Point Professor Who Contemplated a Coup

The article is titled Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column. It’s a dense treatise, totaling some 184 pages in length, including 776 footnotes. But the central thrust of the article is a bold claim: A group of U.S. legal scholars is helping ISIS undermine America from within. . . .

To suppress this “fifth column”—which is his actual term for fellow academics with whom he disagrees—Bradford offers a range of options. First, he suggests introducing loyalty oaths and firing “disloyal scholars.” Next, he recommends charging them with material support of terrorism and even treason. He even suggests treating these American academics as “unlawful enemy combatants,” a legal term used to deny Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters the protections of U.S. and international law. . . .

Yes, even “the law schools that employ them”—presumably places like Harvard and Yale—could be legitimate military targets. So, too, could their homes, where their families and children live. Even a journalist like myself could be a lawful military target if I happen to quote one of these professors, Bradford argues:

Further, the infrastructure used to create and disseminate CLOACA propaganda—law school facilities, scholars’ home offices, and media outlets where they give interviews—are also lawful targets given the causal connection between the content disseminated and Islamist crimes incited.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/west-point-william-bradford/403009/

Why are we droning exactly?

WHY ARE WE DRONING, EXACTLY?

Honest question here. The policy is so magnificently, impossible, devastatingly reprehensible, it’s hard to imagine the dynamics within the military bureaucracy which support it.

Here are my guesses escalating up the conspiracy spectrum:

1. Some soldiers and officers are looking for job security in their specialty. They enjoy blowing things up, and can’t hear anything else above the sound of their awesomeness.

2. As I’ve written before, when the military has two ways of solving a problem, it’ll choose the way that involves paying large sums of money to a military industry.

3. There are psychopathic people in this world (including a world leader or two) who openly preach death to all Arabs. Droning is part of that campaign.

4. Someone is promoting an inter-civilizational conflict, either because “war is the health of the state,” or because they want the Middle East in turmoil.

Other guesses welcome.

PM’s daughter blows whistle on 54 nations that helped US w/ illegal detention & torture

open quoteThe 54 countries which were co-opted in the sweeping CIA drive against terrorism include the usual suspects such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Libya which have poor or non-existent legal systems, judicial oversight, and human rights. But it also includes western countries such as Australia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Spain, and Italy, some of which are fierce advocates of civil liberties and human rights.

India is not among the countries named in the report. The list of 136 detainees does not include any Indians, nor were any apprehended in India. A majority of them were detained in Pakistan in raids and many of them are Pakistanis, confirming the country’s reputation as a terrorist haven.close quote (Read more)

US officially recognises Somalia’s government

Hillaryopen quoteSecretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the news on Thursday at a meeting in Washington with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

He took office in 2012 after the first vote of its kind since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

“Today is a milestone, it is not the end of the journey, but it is an important milestone towards that end,” Mrs Clinton said after talks with Mr Mohamud.close quote (Read more)

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Somalia was better off stateless:

Better Off Stateless: Somalia Before and After Government Collapse

Stateless in Somaliaopen quotePeter Leeson drawing on statistical data from the United Nations Development Project, World Bank, CIA, and World Health Organization. Comparing the last five years under the central government (1985–1990) with the most recent five years of anarchy (2000–2005), Leeson finds these welfare changes:

* Life expectancy increased from 46 to 48.5 years. This is a poor expectancy as compared with developed countries. But in any measurement of welfare, what is important to observe is not where a population stands at a given time, but what is the trend. Is the trend positive, or is it the reverse?
* Number of one-year-olds fully immunized against measles rose from 30 to 40 percent.
* Number of physicians per 100,000 population rose from 3.4 to 4.
* Number of infants with low birth weight fell from 16 per thousand to 0.3 — almost none.
* Infant mortality per 1,000 births fell from 152 to 114.9.
* Maternal mortality per 100,000 births fell from 1,600 to 1,100.
* Percent of population with access to sanitation rose from 18 to 26.
* Percent of population with access to at least one health facility rose from 28 to 54.8.
* Percent of population in extreme poverty (i.e., less than $1 per day) fell from 60 to 43.2.
* Radios per thousand population rose from 4 to 98.5.
* Telephones per thousand population rose from 1.9 to 14.9.
* TVs per 1,000 population rose from 1.2 to 3.7.
* Fatalities due to measles fell from 8,000 to 5,600.close quote

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Despite this, the US wreaked death and destruction upon the country in an attempt to establish a favorable state:

Blowback in Somalia open quotein many cases they were chopping their head off and taking the head to the Americans or whoever. And telling them, ‘We killed this guy.’”close quote

US extends drone strikes to Somalia

U.S. played central role in disastrous 2006 Ethiopian invasion of Somalia

U.S. Expanding Secret Military Activities

US AFRICOM Launches Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia

Novye Aldi massacre

Wikipedia:

open quoteThe Novye Aldi massacre was a notorious crime in which Russian federal forces summarily executed dozens of people in the Novye Aldi (Aldy) suburb of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, in the course of a “mopping-up” (zachistka) operation conducted there on February 5, 2000, soon after the end of the battle for the city. As a result of a deadly rampage by the special police forces at least 60[1] and up to 82[2] local civilians were killed and at least six women were raped. Numerous houses were also burned and civilian property was stolen in an organized manner.[3]close quote

When U.S. drones kill civilians, Yemen’s government tries to conceal it

open quoteThe Yemeni government initially said that those killed were al-Qaeda militants and that its Soviet-era jets had carried out the Sept. 2 attack. But tribal leaders and Yemeni officials would later say that it was an American assault and that all the victims were civilians who lived in a village near Radda, in central Yemen. U.S. officials last week acknowledged for the first time that it was an American strike.

“Their bodies were burning,” recalled Sultan Ahmed Mohammed, 27, who was riding on the hood of the truck and flew headfirst into a sandy expanse. “How could this happen? None of us were al-Qaeda.”

More than three months later, the incident offers a window into the Yemeni government’s efforts to conceal Washington’s mistakes and the unintended consequences of civilian deaths in American air assaults. In this case, the deaths have bolstered the popularity of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network’s Yemen affiliate, which has tried to stage attacks on U.S. soil several times.

Furious tribesmen tried to take the bodies to the gates of the presidential residence, forcing the government into the rare position of withdrawing its assertion that militants had been killed.close quote (Read more)

Petraeus mistress claims Benghazi “embassy” was a secret CIA prison

open quotehe CIA has dismissed as “baseless” and “uninformed” claims made by the former lover of ex-agency chief David Petraeus that Libyan militants were held in secret US prisons prior to the deadly Benghazi consulate attack.

Paula Broadwell, the biographer whose affair with Petraeus led to his abrupt resignation Friday, alleged that the assault, in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed, was an attempt to free men being detained in a covert CIA annex.close quote (Read more)

The Terrifying Background of the Man Who Ran a CIA Assassination Unit

open quoteA federal investigation alleged Enrique Prado’s involvement in seven murders, yet he was in charge when America outsourced covert killing to a private company.

It was one of the biggest secrets of the post-9/11 era: soon after the attacks, President Bush gave the CIA permission to create a top secret assassination unit to find and kill Al Qaeda operatives. The program was kept from Congress for seven years. And when Leon Panetta told legislators about it in 2009, he revealed that the CIA had hired the private security firm Blackwater to help run it. “The move was historic,” says Evan Wright, the two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist who wrote Generation Kill. “It seems to have marked the first time the U.S. government outsourced a covert assassination service to private enterprise.”

The quote is from his e-book How to Get Away With Murder in America, which goes on to note that “in the past, the CIA was subject to oversight, however tenuous, from the president and Congress,” but that “President Bush’s 2001 executive order severed this line by transferring to the CIA his unique authority to approve assassinations. By removing himself from the decision-making cycle, the president shielded himself — and all elected authority — from responsibility should a mission go wrong or be found illegal. When the CIA transferred the assassination unit to Blackwater, it continued the trend. CIA officers would no longer participate in the agency’s most violent operations, or witness them. If it practiced any oversight at all, the CIA would rely on Blackwater’s self-reporting about missions it conducted. Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible.” None of this is new information, though I imagine that many people reading this item are hearing about it for the first time.

Isn’t that bizarre?

The bulk of Wright’s e-book (full disclosure: I help edit the website of Byliner, publisher of the e-book) tells the story of Enrique Prado, a high-ranking CIA-officer-turned-Blackwater-employee who oversaw assassination units for both the CIA and the contractor. To whom was this awesome responsibility entrusted? According to Wright’s investigation, a federal organized crime squad run out of the Miami-Dade Police Department produced an investigation allegedly tying Prado to seven murders carried out while he worked as a bodyguard for a narco crime boss. At the time, the CIA declared him unavailable for questioning; the investigation was shut down before he was arrested or tried.

There’s a lot more to the story — Wright’s e-book is almost 50 pages long — but this bit is of particular note:

The reporting on Prado’s activities at Blackwater produced no evidence that the firm’s employees had ever killed anyone on behalf of the CIA. But I spoke to Blackwater employees who insisted that they had. Two Blackwater contractors told me that their firm began conducting assassinations in Afghanistan as early as 2008. They claimed to have participated in such operations — one in a support role, the other as a “trigger puller.” The contractors, to whom I spoke in 2009 and 2010, were both ex-Special Forces soldiers who were not particularly bothered by assassination work, although they did question the legality of Blackwater’s involvement in it.

According to the “trigger puller,” he and a partner were selected for one such operation because they were Mexican Americans, whose darker skin enabled them to blend in as Afghan civilians. The first mission he described took place in 2008. He and his partner spent three weeks training outside Kabul, becoming accustomed to walking barefoot like Afghans while toting weapons underneath their jackets. Their mission centered on walking into a market and killing the occupant of a pickup truck, whose identity a CIA case worker had provided to them. They succeeded in their mission, he told me, and moved on to another. This contractor’s story didn’t completely fit with other accounts about Prado’s unit at Blackwater. The e-mail written by Prado and later obtained by the Times seemed to indicate that the unit wouldn’t use Americans to carry out actual assassinations. Moreover, two CIA sources insisted that the contractors I spoke to were lying. As one put it, “These guys are security guards who want to look like Rambo.”

When I asked Ed O’Connell, a former Air Force colonel and RAND analyst with robust intelligence experience in Afghanistan, to evaluate these contractors’ claims, he first told me they were almost certainly a “fantastical crock of shit.” But a year later, in 2011, after a research trip in Afghanistan for his firm Alternative Strategies Institute, O’Connell had changed his assessment. He told me, “Your sources seem to have been correct. Private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA.”

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Deadly Drone Strike on Muslims in the Southern Philippines

open quoteEarly last month, Tausug villagers on the Southern Philippine island of Jolo heard a buzzing sound not heard before. It is a sound familiar to the people of Waziristan who live along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, where the United States fights the Taliban. It was the dreaded drone, which arrives from distant and unknown destinations to cause death and destruction. Within minutes, 15 people lay dead and a community plunged into despair, fear and mourning.

The U.S. drone strike, targeting accused leaders in the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah organisations, marked the first time the weapon has been used in Southeast Asia. The drone has so far been used against Muslim groups and the Tausug are the latest on the list.

Just as in Pakistan and other theatres of the “war on terror”, the strike has provoked controversy, with a Filipino lawmaker condemning the attack as a violation of national sovereignty. This controversy could increase with the recent American announcement that it plans to boost its drone fleet in the Philippines by 30 per cent. The U.S. already has hundreds of troops stationed on Jolo Island, but until now, the Americans have maintained a non-combat “advisory” role.close quote (Read more)