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FTR #1181 Terror, The Afghanistan War and the American Deep State, Part 1

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FTR #1181 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: With Pres­i­dent Biden hav­ing announced the with­draw­al of U.S. com­bat forces from Afghanistan, we con­tem­plate the events that led to that involve­ment, espe­cial­ly ter­ror­ist inci­dents cul­mi­nat­ing in the 9/11 attack.

We rely on research done by the bril­liant, ven­er­a­ble Peter Dale Scott.

We begin by not­ing how cyn­i­cal the Deep State can be, act­ing with a com­plete dis­re­gard for Amer­i­can com­bat mil­i­tary per­son­nel: ” . . . . Just how sub­or­di­nat­ed offi­cial pol­i­cy could become to deep state needs was demon­strat­ed in Novem­ber 2001, when Cheney, at the request of [Pakistan’s head of state] Mushar­raf and the ISI [Pakistan’s pri­ma­ry intel­li­gence ser­vice], approved secret air­lifts to fer­ry sur­round­ed Pak­istani and high-lev­el al-Qae­da fight­ers out of Afghanistan, to safe­ty in Pak­istan. . . .”

In the tri­al of Ramzi Yousef, a lay-out of the ter­ror sce­nario that became the 9/11 attacks was on Youse­f’s lap­top, yet was nev­er brought to light.

Like­wise, the name of Khalid Shaikh Mohamed–dubbed the mas­ter­mind of the 9/11 and cur­rent­ly the focal point of ongo­ing legal proceedings–was all but omit­ted from Youse­f’s tri­al, despite his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the abort­ed “Oper­a­tion Bojin­ka” plot to blow up a num­ber of air­lin­ers over the Pacif­ic.

In our series, we note the exclu­sion of key par­tic­i­pants in the mur­der of extrem­ist Rab­bi Meir Kahane, which per­mit­ted co-con­spir­a­tors to par­tic­i­pate in the first World Trade Cen­ter attack in 1993 and Nairo­bi U.S. Embassy bomb­ings in 1998.

Among the prob­a­ble motives for these key, dead­ly omis­sions is the use of these Al-Qae­da, Mus­lim-Broth­er­hood derived ter­ror­ist ele­ments as proxy war­riors in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chech­nya and Uzbek­istan.

“. . . . In Triple Cross, Peter Lance, who does not men­tion KSM’s escape from Qatar, focus­es instead on the way that, lat­er in the same year, U.S. fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors kept his name out of the tri­al of Ramzi Yousef in con­nec­tion with the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing: “Assis­tant U.S. Attor­neys Mike Gar­cia and Diet­rich Snell pre­sent­ed a riv­et­ing, evi­dence-dri­ven case . . . and char­ac­ter­ized the mate­r­i­al retrieved from Ramzi’s Toshi­ba lap­top as ‘the most dev­as­tat­ing evi­dence of all. . . .’ . . . While Yousef’s lap­top . . . con­tained the full details of the plot lat­er exe­cut­ed on 9/11, not a word of that sce­nario was men­tioned dur­ing tri­al . . . . Most sur­pris­ing, dur­ing the entire sum­mer-long tri­al, the name of the fourth Bojin­ka con­spir­a­tor, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed . . . . was men­tioned by name only once, in ref­er­ence to a let­ter found in [Yousef’s apart­ment] . . . .”

Illus­trat­ing the machi­na­tions of what Pro­fes­sor Scott terms “The Amer­i­can Deep State” are the inter­ac­tions between Big Oil, Sul­li­van & Cromwell, the Dulles broth­ers and the Eisen­how­er admin­is­tra­tion to desta­bi­lize the Mossad­eq regime in Iran.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: A let­ter writ­ten by Sul­li­van & Cromwell attor­ney John Fos­ter Dulles in the 1930s to a British col­league, cel­e­brat­ing car­tels and the tri­umph of inter­na­tion­al busi­ness­men in over­com­ing bar­ri­ers to geopo­lit­i­cal maneu­ver­ing erect­ed by “nation­al­ist” politi­cians; col­lab­o­ra­tion by the “Sev­en Sis­ters” of Big Oil (Stan­dard Oil of New Jer­sey [now Exxon], Stan­dard Oil of New York [now Mobil], Stan­dard Oil of Cal­i­for­nia [now Chevron], Gulf Oil, Tex­a­co, Roy­al Dutch Shell and Anglo-Iran­ian [now BP] in con­trol­ling the inter­na­tion­al oil busi­ness; a coop­er­a­tive effort by the Sev­en Sis­ters to suc­cess­ful­ly reduce Iran­ian oil pro­duc­tion from 241 mil­lion bar­rels a year in 1950 to 10.6 mil­lion bar­rels a year in 1952 in order to desta­bi­lize pre­mier Mossad­eq; Pro­fes­sor Scott’s point that the CIA’s over­throw of Mossad­eq in 1953 rep­re­sent­ed a “Deep State” real­iza­tion of the goal of the oil car­tel; the role of ARAMCO in the stran­gling of Iran­ian oil pro­duc­tion, off­set­ting the drop in Iran­ian pro­duc­tion by increas­ing its own; change of a Jus­tice Depart­ment suit against Big Oil from a crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ing to a civ­il suit pros­e­cut­ed by the Depart­ment of State; the pre­dictable res­o­lu­tion of that suit in favor of big oil; the fact that the oil car­tel was rep­re­sent­ed in that suit by Sul­li­van & Cromwell and John Fos­ter Dulles was in charge of the State Depart­ment; the fact that John Fos­ter Dulles’ broth­er and Sul­li­van & Cromwell asso­ciate Allen was in charge of the CIA at the same time and over­saw the removal of Mossad­eq; Allen Dulles’ suc­cess­ful gam­bit to side­step Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er by secur­ing British Prime Min­is­ter Harold MacMil­lan as an exec­u­tive author­i­ty to dis­patch U‑2 flights..

The pro­gram con­cludes with delin­eation of U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­tec­tion of Jihadist ele­ments so that they could be used as proxy war­riors in ongo­ing covert oper­a­tions.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­tec­tion for Ali Mohamed, an al-Qae­da oper­a­tive who dou­bled as a Spe­cial Forces oper­a­tive train­ing muja­hadeen for com­bat oper­a­tions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chech­nya among oth­er places; FBI agent John Zent’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the RCMP in Van­cou­ver, lead­ing to Mohamed’s release from cus­tody; Mohamed’s train­ing of muja­hadeen at the Al-Kifah Refugee Cen­ter in Brook­lyn; the assas­si­na­tion of extrem­ist Rab­bi Meir Kahane by trainees of Mohamed’s includ­ing El Sayyid Nosair; the FBI and New York Police Department’s cov­er-up of the par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Kahane killing of Nosair/Mohamed asso­ciates; the even­tu­al par­tic­i­pa­tion of some of those asso­ciates in the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing; the FBI’s sab­o­tage of New York Coun­ty Dis­trict Attor­ney Robert Morgenthau’s attempts to widen the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Al-Kifah milieu; the cen­tral role of Ali Mohamed’s Al-Kifah trainees in the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing.

1. We begin by not­ing how cyn­i­cal the Deep State can be, act­ing with a com­plete dis­re­gard for Amer­i­can com­bat mil­i­tary per­son­nel:

The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy by Peter Dale Scott; Copy­right 2015 by Peter Dale Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; ISBN 978–1‑442‑1424‑8; p. 78.

. . . . Just how sub­or­di­nat­ed offi­cial pol­i­cy could become to deep state needs was demon­strat­ed in Novem­ber 2001, when Cheney, at the request of [Pakistan’s head of state] Mushar­raf and the ISI [Pakistan’s pri­ma­ry intel­li­gence ser­vice], approved secret air­lifts to fer­ry sur­round­ed Pak­istani and high-lev­el al-Qae­da fight­ers out of Afghanistan, to safe­ty in Pak­istan. (“Cheney took charge. . . . The approval was not shared with any­one at State, includ­ing Col­in Pow­ell, until well after the event. . . . Clear­ly the ISI was run­ning its own war against the Amer­i­cans.”) . . . .

2. In the tri­al of Ramzi Yousef, a lay-out of the ter­ror sce­nario that became the 9/11 attacks was on Youse­f’s lap­top, yet was nev­er brought to light.

Like­wise, the name of Khalid Shaikh Mohamed–dubbed the mas­ter­mind of the 9/11 and cur­rent­ly the focal point of ongo­ing legal proceedings–was all but omit­ted from Youse­f’s tri­al, despite his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the abort­ed “Oper­a­tion Bojin­ka” plot to blow up a num­ber of air­lin­ers over the Pacif­ic.

In our series, we note the exclu­sion of key par­tic­i­pants in the mur­der of extrem­ist Rab­bi Meir Kahane, which per­mit­ted co-con­spir­a­tors to par­tic­i­pate in the first World Trade Cen­ter attack in 1993 and Nairo­bi U.S. Embassy bomb­ings in 1998.

Among the prob­a­ble motives for these key, dead­ly omis­sions is the use of these Al-Qae­da, Mus­lim-Broth­er­hood derived ter­ror­ist ele­ments as proxy war­riors in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chech­nya and Uzbek­istan.

The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy by Peter Dale Scott; Copy­right 2015 by Peter Dale Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; ISBN 978–1‑442‑1424‑8; p. 74.

. . . . In Triple Cross, Peter Lance, who does not men­tion KSM’s escape from Qatar, focus­es instead on the way that, lat­er in the same year, U.S. fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors kept his name out of the tri­al of Ramzi Yousef in con­nec­tion with the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing:

“Assis­tant U.S. Attor­neys Mike Gar­cia and Diet­rich Snell pre­sent­ed a riv­et­ing, evi­dence-dri­ven case . . . and char­ac­ter­ized the mate­r­i­al retrieved from Ramzi’s Toshi­ba lap­top as ‘the most dev­as­tat­ing evi­dence of all. . . .’ . . . While Yousef’s lap­top . . . con­tained the full details of the plot lat­er exe­cut­ed on 9/11, not a word of that sce­nario was men­tioned dur­ing tri­al . . . . Most sur­pris­ing, dur­ing the entire sum­mer-long tri­al, the name of the fourth Bojin­ka con­spir­a­tor, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed . . . . was men­tioned by name only once, in ref­er­ence to a let­ter found in [Yousef’s apart­ment] . . . .”

3. Illus­trat­ing the machi­na­tions of what Pro­fes­sor Scott terms “The Amer­i­can Deep State” are the inter­ac­tions between Big Oil, Sul­li­van & Cromwell, the Dulles broth­ers and the Eisen­how­er admin­is­tra­tion to desta­bi­lize the Mossad­eq regime in Iran.

The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy by Peter Dale             Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; Copy­right 2015 by Pete Dale Scott; ISBN 978–1‑4422–1424‑8; pp.18–20.     

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: A let­ter writ­ten by Sul­li­van & Cromwell attor­ney John Fos­ter Dulles in the 1930s to a British col­league, cel­e­brat­ing car­tels and the tri­umph of inter­na­tion­al busi­ness­men in over­com­ing bar­ri­ers to geopo­lit­i­cal maneu­ver­ing erect­ed by “nation­al­ist” politi­cians; col­lab­o­ra­tion by the “Sev­en Sis­ters” of Big Oil (Stan­dard Oil of New Jer­sey [now Exxon], Stan­dard Oil of New York [now Mobil], Stan­dard Oil of Cal­i­for­nia [now Chevron], Gulf Oil, Tex­a­co, Roy­al Dutch Shell and Anglo-Iran­ian [now BP] in con­trol­ling the inter­na­tion­al oil busi­ness; a coop­er­a­tive effort by the Sev­en Sis­ters to suc­cess­ful­ly reduce Iran­ian oil pro­duc­tion from 241 mil­lion bar­rels a year in 1950 to 10.6 mil­lion bar­rels a year in 1952 in order to desta­bi­lize pre­mier Mossad­eq; Pro­fes­sor Scott’s point that the CIA’s over­throw of Mossad­eq in 1953 rep­re­sent­ed a “Deep State” real­iza­tion of the goal of the oil car­tel; the role of ARAMCO in the stran­gling of Iran­ian oil pro­duc­tion, off­set­ting the drop in Iran­ian pro­duc­tion by increas­ing its own; change of a Jus­tice Depart­ment suit against Big Oil from a crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ing to a civ­il suit pros­e­cut­ed by the Depart­ment of State; the pre­dictable res­o­lu­tion of that suit in favor of big oil; the fact that the oil car­tel was rep­re­sent­ed in that suit by Sul­li­van & Cromwell and John Fos­ter Dulles was in charge of the State Depart­ment; the fact that John Fos­ter Dulles’ broth­er and Sul­li­van & Cromwell asso­ciate Allen was in charge of the CIA at the same time and over­saw the removal of Mossad­eq; Allen Dulles’ suc­cess­ful gam­bit to side­step Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er by secur­ing British Prime Min­is­ter Harold MacMil­lan as an exec­u­tive author­i­ty to dis­patch U‑2 flights..

4. The pro­gram con­tin­ues with delin­eation of U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­tec­tion of Jihadist ele­ments so that they could be used as proxy war­riors in ongo­ing covert oper­a­tions.

The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy  by Peter Dale Scott; Copy­right 2015 by Peter Dale Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; ISBN 978–1‑442‑1424‑8; pp. 50–54.

Key Points of Dis­cus­sion and Analy­sis Include: U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­tec­tion for Ali Mohamed, an al-Qae­da oper­a­tive who dou­bled as a Spe­cial Forces oper­a­tive train­ing muja­hadeen for com­bat oper­a­tions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chech­nya among oth­er places; FBI agent John Zent’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the RCMP in Van­cou­ver, lead­ing to Mohamed’s release from cus­tody; Mohamed’s train­ing of muja­hadeen at the Al-Kifah Refugee Cen­ter in Brook­lyn; the assas­si­na­tion of extrem­ist Rab­bi Meir Kahane by trainees of Mohamed’s includ­ing El Sayyid Nosair; the FBI and New York Police Department’s cov­er-up of the par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Kahane killing of Nosair/Mohamed asso­ciates; the even­tu­al par­tic­i­pa­tion of some of those asso­ciates in the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing; the FBI’s sab­o­tage of New York Coun­ty Dis­trict Attor­ney Robert Morgenthau’s attempts to widen the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Al-Kifah milieu; the cen­tral role of Ali Mohamed’s Al-Kifah trainees in the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing.

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR #1181 Terror, The Afghanistan War and the American Deep State, Part 1”

  1. Here’s a pair of recent sto­ries that, tak­en togeth­er, serve as a warn­ing that the US isn’t out of Afghanistan yet, and if there are any attempts to keep the US involved in that con­flict they are prob­a­bly going to have to be pret­ty sig­nif­i­cant:

    First, the US just release the intel­li­gence assess­ment of the ‘Russ­ian Afghan boun­ties’ sto­ry from July of 2020. It sounds like the ‘Afghan boun­ties’ claim had the lev­el of cred­i­bil­i­ty that it appeared to have when the sto­ry first broke last year. Which is to say very lit­tle cred­i­bil­i­ty. Recall how the ‘Russ­ian boun­ties’ appeared to be exclu­sive­ly based on the tes­ti­monies of pris­on­ers and leaked for the pri­ma­ry pur­pose of stalling a US with­draw­al. Well, while the new­ly released US intel­li­gence assess­ment does­n’t state that the sto­ry was con­coct­ed and trumped up for the pur­pose of keep­ing the US in Afghanistan, the assess­ment cer­tain­ly does­n’t do any­thing to dis­miss those sus­pi­cions either:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    U.S. Intel Walks Back Claim Rus­sians Put Boun­ties on Amer­i­can Troops

    It was a huge elec­tion-time sto­ry that prompt­ed cries of trea­son. But accord­ing to a new­ly dis­closed assess­ment, Don­ald Trump might have been right to call it a “hoax.”

    Adam Rawns­ley, Spencer Ack­er­man, and Asaw­in Sueb­saeng
    Updat­ed Apr. 15, 2021 8:54PM ET / Pub­lished Apr. 15, 2021 11:11AM ET

    It was a block­buster sto­ry about Russia’s return to the impe­r­i­al “Great Game” in Afghanistan. The Krem­lin had spread mon­ey around the long­time cen­tral Asian bat­tle­field for mil­i­tants to kill remain­ing U.S. forces. It sparked a mas­sive out­cry from Democ­rats and their #resis­tance ampli­fiers about the trea­so­nous Russ­ian pup­pet in the White House whose admi­ra­tion for Vladimir Putin had endan­gered Amer­i­can troops.

    But on Thurs­day, the Biden admin­is­tra­tion announced that U.S. intel­li­gence only had “low to mod­er­ate” con­fi­dence in the sto­ry after all. Trans­lat­ed from the jar­gon of spy­world, that means the intel­li­gence agen­cies have found the sto­ry is, at best, unproven—and pos­si­bly untrue.

    “The Unit­ed States intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty assess­es with low to mod­er­ate con­fi­dence that Russ­ian intel­li­gence offi­cers sought to encour­age Tal­iban attacks on U.S. and coali­tion per­son­nel in Afghanistan in 2019 and per­haps ear­li­er,” a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said.

    “This infor­ma­tion puts a bur­den on the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment to explain its actions and take steps to address this dis­turb­ing pat­tern of behav­ior,” the offi­cial said, indi­cat­ing that Biden is unpre­pared to walk the sto­ry back ful­ly.

    Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the Biden team announced a raft of sanc­tions on Thurs­day. But those sanc­tions, tar­get­ing Russia’s sov­er­eign debt mar­ket, are prompt­ed only by Russia’s inter­fer­ence in the 2020 elec­tion and its alleged role in the Solar­Winds cyber espi­onage. (In con­trast, Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials said that their assess­ment attribut­ing the breach of tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny Solar­Winds to hack­ers from Russia’s For­eign Intel­li­gence Ser­vice was “high con­fi­dence.”)

    “We have not­ed our con­clu­sion of the review that we con­duct­ed on the boun­ties issue and we have con­veyed through diplo­mat­ic, intel­li­gence, and mil­i­tary chan­nels strong, direct mes­sages on this issue, but we are not specif­i­cal­ly tying the actions we are tak­ing today to that mat­ter,” a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial told reporters in ref­er­ence to the boun­ty claims.

    Accord­ing to the offi­cials on Thursday’s call, the report­ing about the alleged “boun­ties” came from “detainee reporting”–raising the specter that some­one told their U.S.-aligned Afghan jail­ers what they thought was nec­es­sary to get out of a cage. Specif­i­cal­ly, the offi­cial cit­ed “infor­ma­tion and evi­dence of con­nec­tions to crim­i­nal agents in Afghanistan and ele­ments of the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment” as sources for the intel­li­gence community’s assess­ment.

    With­out addi­tion­al cor­rob­o­ra­tion, such report­ing is noto­ri­ous­ly unre­li­able. Detainee report­ing from a man known as Ibn Shaikh al-Libi, extract­ed from tor­ture, infa­mous­ly and bogus­ly fueled a Bush admin­is­tra­tion claim, used to invade Iraq, about Sad­dam Hus­sein train­ing al Qae­da to make poi­son gas.

    The senior Biden offi­cial added on Thurs­day that the “dif­fi­cult oper­at­ing envi­ron­ment in Afghanistan” com­pli­cat­ed U.S. efforts to con­firm what amounts to a rumor.

    When asked whether Moscow put boun­ties on Amer­i­can forces in Afghanistan, press sec­re­tary Jen Psa­ki said at a press brief­ing on Thurs­day that the Biden admin­is­tra­tion “felt the reports were enough of a cause for con­cern that we want­ed our intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty to look into this report as a part of this over­all assess­ment.”

    Psa­ki reit­er­at­ed the intel­li­gence community’s low-to-mod­er­ate con­fi­dence in its assess­ment about pos­si­ble Russ­ian boun­ties but said that U.S. intel­li­gence had “high con­fi­dence” in a sep­a­rate assess­ment that Russ­ian mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers “man­age inter­ac­tion with indi­vid­u­als in Afghan crim­i­nal net­works” and that the “involve­ment of this... unit is con­sis­tent with Russia’s encour­ag­ing attacks against U.S. and coali­tion per­son­nel in Afghanistan.”

    “I am unsur­prised that the review led to a murky deter­mi­na­tion of low to mod­er­ate con­fi­dence. While it is clear that Rus­sia and oth­er adver­saries have been pro­vid­ing assis­tance to their prox­ies in Afghanistan, iden­ti­fy­ing type and amount of such assis­tance with great speci­fici­ty has been the per­sis­tent chal­lenge,” Jason Camp­bell, an Afghanistan pol­i­cy offi­cial in the Oba­ma Pen­ta­gon, told The Dai­ly Beast.

    There were rea­sons to doubt the sto­ry from the start. Not only did the ini­tial sto­ries empha­size its basis on detainee report­ing, but the boun­ties rep­re­sent­ed a qual­i­ta­tive shift in recent Russ­ian engage­ments with Afghan insur­gents. Russ­ian oper­a­tives have long been sus­pect­ed of mov­ing mon­ey to var­i­ous Afghan mil­i­tants: an out-of-favor for­mer Tal­iban offi­cial told The Dai­ly Beast on the record that Rus­sia gave them cash for years. But the Rus­sians had not been sus­pect­ed of spon­sor­ing attacks on U.S. forces outright–an esca­la­tion that risked con­fronta­tion with the U.S., and occur­ring long after it could have made a dif­fer­ence in the war.

    As well, there seemed to be no “causative link” to any actu­al U.S. deaths, in the judg­ment of Gen. Frank McKen­zie, the senior U.S. gen­er­al for the Mid­dle East and South Asia. For­mer U.S. diplo­mats and intel­li­gence offi­cers told The Dai­ly Beast last sum­mer that they viewed the boun­ties account skep­ti­cal­ly. One retired diplo­mat sus­pect­ed “some­one leaked this to slow down the troop with­draw­al.”

    Rarely dis­cussed was the main rea­son to believe the sto­ry: the CIA actu­al­ly did fund Afghan gueril­las to kill Russ­ian forces dur­ing the Sovi­et occu­pa­tion of Afghanistan of the 1980s.

    The Pen­ta­gon said at the time that its mas­sive intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus, which includes both bat­tle­field intel­li­gence and the world’s most sophis­ti­cat­ed sur­veil­lance net­work, did not gen­er­ate the boun­ties sto­ry. In Sep­tem­ber, McKen­zie said that the intel­li­gence remained uncor­rob­o­rat­ed. “It just has not been proved to a lev­el of cer­tain­ty that sat­is­fies me,” he told NBC News.

    In the weeks fol­low­ing the exis­tence of the uncor­rob­o­rat­ed Russ­ian-boun­ty intel first break­ing in The New York Times last sum­mer, then-Pres­i­dent Trump would repeat­ed­ly demand in closed-door meet­ings that who­ev­er leaked the infor­ma­tion be found, pun­ished, or even “locked up,” accord­ing to sources and for­mer admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials with knowl­edge of what tran­spired at the time.

    The ini­tial set of Times boun­ty arti­cles caught a num­ber of senior White House staffers off-guard at first, who scram­bled to fig­ure out what was going on. One of the then-pres­i­den­t’s ini­tial instincts was, nat­u­ral­ly, that this was relayed to the press to make him look bad, and he would tell five indi­vid­u­als close to him that it fur­ther con­vinced him that the Unit­ed States should pull its forces out of Afghanistan.

    But in var­i­ous meet­ings at the White House and in pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions that fol­lowed that sum­mer, Trump would con­tin­ue to spec­u­late on how or why this could have end­ed up in the media, three peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter said. At times, he said he believed it was done by offi­cials who want­ed Joe Biden to win the 2020 elec­tion, or who want­ed to stay and fight in Afghanistan “for­ev­er.” He demand­ed to know who in the CIA or intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty could have pos­si­bly done this to him.

    At at least one point that sum­mer, Trump men­tioned that he’d heard that the intel could have been “total­ly pho­ny” or man­u­fac­tured because it could have been drawn from intel sources who did­n’t know what they were talk­ing about, mak­ing up wild tales, or say­ing any­thing after some­one had “kicked the crap out of them.”

    That last spec­u­la­tion sur­prised, or some­what con­fused, two of the sources who were famil­iar with the com­ment at the time, if only because Trump had repeat­ed­ly said for years that tor­ture “absolute­ly works” and that the Unit­ed States should revive water­board­ing and oth­er bru­tal mea­sures against ter­ror sus­pects. “It real­ly sound­ed like the [then-]president was just grab­bing for any­thing he could say,” one of these peo­ple recalled. “He was told by admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials that the report­ing was based on unver­i­fied claims, and he spun from that, I think.”

    ...

    ———–

    “U.S. Intel Walks Back Claim Rus­sians Put Boun­ties on Amer­i­can Troop­s­The Dai­ly Beast” by Adam Rawns­ley, Spencer Ack­er­man, and Asaw­in Sueb­saeng; The Dai­ly Beast; 04/15/2021

    “But on Thurs­day, the Biden admin­is­tra­tion announced that U.S. intel­li­gence only had “low to mod­er­ate” con­fi­dence in the sto­ry after all. Trans­lat­ed from the jar­gon of spy­world, that means the intel­li­gence agen­cies have found the sto­ry is, at best, unproven—and pos­si­bly untrue.

    Yes, the ‘Russ­ian boun­ties’ report was based on pris­on­er accounts. ONLY pris­on­er accounts, which is why there are so many con­cerns about the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the report. ‘Detainee report­ing’ is noto­ri­ous­ly unre­li­able. It’s part of what peo­ple were sus­pi­cious about in the first place and why the aggres­sive push­ing of this ques­tion­ably sourced report had the appear­ance of stunt to force then-pres­i­dent Trump into post­pon­ing the announced with­draw­al:

    ...
    Accord­ing to the offi­cials on Thursday’s call, the report­ing about the alleged “boun­ties” came from “detainee reporting”–raising the specter that some­one told their U.S.-aligned Afghan jail­ers what they thought was nec­es­sary to get out of a cage. Specif­i­cal­ly, the offi­cial cit­ed “infor­ma­tion and evi­dence of con­nec­tions to crim­i­nal agents in Afghanistan and ele­ments of the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment” as sources for the intel­li­gence community’s assess­ment.

    With­out addi­tion­al cor­rob­o­ra­tion, such report­ing is noto­ri­ous­ly unre­li­able. Detainee report­ing from a man known as Ibn Shaikh al-Libi, extract­ed from tor­ture, infa­mous­ly and bogus­ly fueled a Bush admin­is­tra­tion claim, used to invade Iraq, about Sad­dam Hus­sein train­ing al Qae­da to make poi­son gas.

    ...

    There were rea­sons to doubt the sto­ry from the start. Not only did the ini­tial sto­ries empha­size its basis on detainee report­ing, but the boun­ties rep­re­sent­ed a qual­i­ta­tive shift in recent Russ­ian engage­ments with Afghan insur­gents. Russ­ian oper­a­tives have long been sus­pect­ed of mov­ing mon­ey to var­i­ous Afghan mil­i­tants: an out-of-favor for­mer Tal­iban offi­cial told The Dai­ly Beast on the record that Rus­sia gave them cash for years. But the Rus­sians had not been sus­pect­ed of spon­sor­ing attacks on U.S. forces outright–an esca­la­tion that risked con­fronta­tion with the U.S., and occur­ring long after it could have made a dif­fer­ence in the war.

    As well, there seemed to be no “causative link” to any actu­al U.S. deaths, in the judg­ment of Gen. Frank McKen­zie, the senior U.S. gen­er­al for the Mid­dle East and South Asia. For­mer U.S. diplo­mats and intel­li­gence offi­cers told The Dai­ly Beast last sum­mer that they viewed the boun­ties account skep­ti­cal­ly. One retired diplo­mat sus­pect­ed “some­one leaked this to slow down the troop with­draw­al.”
    ...

    All in all, this sto­ry is fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion that there is sig­nif­i­cant resis­tance inside the Pen­ta­gon to leav­ing Afghanistan and efforts will be made to keep the US in that con­flict. And that brings us to the fol­low­ing arti­cle describ­ing the behind-the-scenes lob­by­ing efforts under­way by the Pen­ta­gon to con­vince Pres­i­dent Biden to stay in Afghanistan. Efforts that ulti­mate­ly failed, in part due to Biden’s expe­ri­ence deal­ing with this exact same kind of behind-the-scenes lob­by­ing by the Pen­ta­gon to keep the US in Afghanistan while serv­ing as Barack Oba­ma’s vice pres­i­dent.

    Accord­ing to this report, the Pen­ta­gon was hop­ing to once again con­vince the new pres­i­dent to only with­draw troops when secu­ri­ty con­di­tions are met, which is basi­cal­ly a license to occu­py the coun­try for­ev­er. But Biden remained res­olute and deter­mined to order a Sept 11, 2021 with­draw­al date no mat­ter the con­di­tions on the ground. So Biden appears to have drawn a line in the sand indi­cat­ing that dete­ri­o­rat­ing secu­ri­ty con­di­tions on the ground will NOT be used as a pre­text for keep­ing US troops in the coun­try. So if there’s going to be any more ‘intel­li­gence assess­ment’ like the ‘Russ­ian boun­ties’ stunt intent on chang­ing Biden’s mind, it’s going to have to be one hel­lu­va intel­li­gence assess­ment:

    The New York Times

    Debat­ing Exit From Afghanistan, Biden Reject­ed Gen­er­als’ Views

    Over two decades of war, the Pen­ta­gon had fend­ed off the polit­i­cal instincts of elect­ed lead­ers frus­trat­ed with the grind of Afghanistan. But Pres­i­dent Biden refused to be per­suad­ed.

    By Helene Coop­er, Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger
    April 17, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Biden used his dai­ly nation­al secu­ri­ty brief­ing on the morn­ing of April 6 to deliv­er the news that his senior mil­i­tary lead­ers sus­pect­ed was com­ing. He want­ed all Amer­i­can troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniver­sary of the attacks on New York and the Pen­ta­gon.

    In the Oval Office, Defense Sec­re­tary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Mil­ley, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, want­ed to make cer­tain. “I take what you said as a deci­sion, sir,” Gen­er­al Mil­ley said, accord­ing to offi­cials with knowl­edge of the meet­ing. “Is that cor­rect, Mr. Pres­i­dent?”

    It was.

    Over two decades of war that spanned four pres­i­dents, the Pen­ta­gon had always man­aged to fend off the polit­i­cal instincts of elect­ed lead­ers frus­trat­ed with the grind of Afghanistan, as com­man­ders repeat­ed­ly request­ed more time and more troops. Even as the num­ber of Amer­i­can forces in Afghanistan steadi­ly decreased to the 2,500 who still remained, Defense Depart­ment lead­ers still cob­bled togeth­er a mil­i­tary effort that man­aged to pro­tect the Unit­ed States from ter­ror­ist attacks even as it failed, spec­tac­u­lar­ly, to defeat the Tal­iban in a place that has crushed for­eign occu­piers for 2,000 years.

    The cur­rent mil­i­tary lead­er­ship hoped it, too, could con­vince a new pres­i­dent to main­tain at least a mod­est troop pres­ence, try­ing to talk Mr. Biden into keep­ing a resid­ual force and set­ting con­di­tions on any with­draw­al. But Mr. Biden refused to be per­suad­ed.

    The two Pen­ta­gon lead­ers stood before Mr. Biden near the same Res­olute Desk where Pres­i­dent George W. Bush reviewed plans in 2001 to send in elite Spe­cial Oper­a­tions troops to hunt for Osama bin Laden only to see him melt over the bor­der into Pak­istan. It was the same desk where Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma decid­ed on a surge of forces in 2009, fol­lowed by a rapid draw­down, only to dis­cov­er that the Afghan mil­i­tary was not able to defend itself despite bil­lions of dol­lars in train­ing. It was there that Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump declared that all Amer­i­can troops were com­ing home — but nev­er car­ried through a plan to do so.

    There would be no con­di­tions put on the with­draw­al, Mr. Biden told the men, cut­ting off the last thread — one that had worked with Mr. Trump — and that Mr. Austin and Gen­er­al Mil­ley hoped could stave off a full draw­down.

    They were told, Zero meant zero.

    In that moment, the war — which had been debat­ed across four pres­i­dents, pros­e­cut­ed with thou­sands of com­man­do raids, cost 2,400 Amer­i­can fatal­i­ties and 20,000 injured, with progress nev­er quite being made — began its final chap­ter. It will be over, Mr. Biden has promised, by the 20th anniver­sary of the attacks that stunned the world and led to more than 13,000 airstrikes.

    How this last chap­ter of the Amer­i­can adven­ture in Afghanistan will end is a sto­ry that remains to be writ­ten.

    For Mr. Biden, the specter of heli­copters evac­u­at­ing the strand­ed, as hap­pened in Viet­nam in 1975, or Amer­i­can hostages being exe­cut­ed by Islamist mil­i­tants clad in black, as hap­pened in Syr­ia in 2014, looms large. “We’ve seen this movie before,” Mr. Austin warned the pres­i­dent dur­ing one of sev­er­al meet­ings at the White House before Mr. Biden made his deci­sion.

    But Mr. Biden had sat through hun­dreds of brief­in­gs on Afghanistan dur­ing his years as a sen­a­tor, a vice pres­i­dent, a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and a pres­i­dent-elect. Few if any of the advis­ers who joined him for four big Afghanistan pol­i­cy debates could tell him any­thing that he had not heard before.

    For the pres­i­dent, it came down to a sim­ple choice, accord­ing to offi­cials with knowl­edge of the debate: Acknowl­edge that the Afghan gov­ern­ment and its frag­ile secu­ri­ty forces would need an Amer­i­can troop pres­ence to prop them up indef­i­nite­ly, or leave.

    “No one wants to say that we should be in Afghanistan for­ev­er, but they insist now is not the right moment to leave,” Mr. Biden said in announc­ing his deci­sion on Wednes­day. “So when will it be the right moment to leave? One more year? Two more years? Ten more years?”

    The sto­ry of how Mr. Biden decid­ed to end the Amer­i­can war in Afghanistan should sur­prise no one who has spent more than 10 min­utes in his com­pa­ny over the past two decades. Yes, he had joined 97 oth­er sen­a­tors on Sept. 14, 2001, to vote in favor of going to war in Afghanistan. He had even been in favor of the Iraq war the next year.

    But Mr. Biden turned on both endeav­ors and told any­one who would lis­ten, in expos­i­to­ry speech­es that some­times last­ed for hours. In 2008, dur­ing vis­its to Afghanistan as chair­man of the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee, he “found con­fu­sion at all lev­els about our strat­e­gy and objec­tives,” Robert M. Gates, the for­mer defense sec­re­tary, wrote in a mem­oir, “Duty.” Mr. Biden was so frus­trat­ed with the Afghan lead­er­ship, Mr. Gates added, that he once threw down his nap­kin and walked out of a din­ner with Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai.

    As vice pres­i­dent, Mr. Biden clashed with the Pen­ta­gon, includ­ing Mr. Gates, and Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton about troop lev­els in the coun­try, argu­ing for bring­ing them down to a min­i­mal coun­tert­er­ror­ism force. (He lost that bat­tle.) And Mr. Biden was furi­ous, Mr. Oba­ma report­ed in his mem­oir, at gen­er­als who were try­ing to force a deci­sion to com­mit addi­tion­al troops with leaks say­ing that if more were not sent, the result would be mis­sion fail­ure.

    Mr. Oba­ma wrote that Mr. Biden used a vivid epi­thet and warned him about gen­er­als who “are try­ing to box in a new pres­i­dent.” The vice pres­i­dent leaned for­ward, putting his face “a few inch­es from mine and stage-whis­pered, ‘Don’t let them jam you,’ ” Mr. Oba­ma recalled.

    Indeed, a qui­et lob­by­ing cam­paign by top Pen­ta­gon offi­cials and region­al com­man­ders to keep a small coun­tert­er­ror­ism force in Afghanistan for a few more years, if not longer, start­ed soon after Mr. Biden took office in Jan­u­ary.

    Mil­i­tary offi­cials who had become frus­trat­ed with deal­ing with Mr. Trump, an unpre­dictable pres­i­dent who often blind­sided them with tweets stat­ing that Amer­i­can troops would be com­ing home from one mil­i­tary engage­ment or anoth­er, said the chance to deal with a pres­i­dent who would actu­al­ly fol­low a pol­i­cy process before announc­ing a deci­sion was a wel­come one. But they also knew from the start that the meth­ods they had employed with Mr. Trump were like­ly to no longer work.

    The Defense Depart­ment had fend­ed off an effort by Mr. Trump to abrupt­ly pull out all remain­ing U.S. troops by last Christ­mas. Mr. Trump even­tu­al­ly ordered the force cut rough­ly in half — to 2,500, the small­est pres­ence in Afghanistan envi­sioned by Amer­i­can coun­tert­er­ror­ism plan­ners, from 4,500.

    In the new pres­i­dent, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials and top com­man­ders were hold­ing on to the hope that because Mr. Biden had cam­paigned dur­ing the Oba­ma years to keep a small coun­tert­er­ror­ism force in Afghanistan (as opposed to 100,000 troops), they might have a more sym­pa­thet­ic ear.

    Short­ly after Mr. Austin was sworn in on Jan. 22, two days after the inau­gu­ra­tion, he, Gen­er­al Mil­ley and two top mil­i­tary offi­cers — Gen. Austin S. Miller, the com­man­der of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and Gen. Ken­neth F. McKen­zie Jr., the head of the military’s Cen­tral Com­mand, were in lock step in rec­om­mend­ing that about 3,000 to 4,500 troops stay in Afghanistan.

    The Pentagon’s behind-the-scenes effort got a lift from a con­gres­sion­al­ly appoint­ed pan­el led by a friend of all four men: Gen. Joseph F. Dun­ford Jr., a retired four-star Marine gen­er­al who was also a for­mer top com­man­der in Afghanistan and past chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On Feb. 3, it rec­om­mend­ed that the Biden admin­is­tra­tion should aban­don the May 1 exit dead­line nego­ti­at­ed with the Tal­iban and instead reduce Amer­i­can forces fur­ther only as secu­ri­ty con­di­tions improved.

    The report by the Afghanistan Study Group, a bipar­ti­san pan­el exam­in­ing the peace deal reached in Feb­ru­ary 2020 under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, found that with­draw­ing troops based on a strict time­line, rather than how well the Tal­iban adhered to the agree­ment to reduce vio­lence and improve secu­ri­ty, risked the sta­bil­i­ty of the coun­try and a poten­tial civ­il war once inter­na­tion­al forces left.

    The pan­el said that experts told it that 4,500 Amer­i­can troops, the num­ber in Afghanistan last fall, was the right fig­ure.

    But send­ing addi­tion­al troops to Afghanistan went against every­thing Mr. Biden had advo­cat­ed over the years. Even before he was elect­ed, his staff had begun exam­in­ing force lev­els in Afghanistan, and, more impor­tant, what they could accom­plish. There were teams of for­eign pol­i­cy spe­cial­ists, all out of pow­er for a num­ber of years, look­ing anew at Afghanistan — and ask­ing the ques­tion of what would hap­pen if all Amer­i­can troops were pulled out.

    The Pen­ta­gon effort received anoth­er set­back when Mr. Biden’s new direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence, Avril D. Haines, con­veyed intel­li­gence assess­ments that the nexus of ter­ror­ism had shift­ed from Afghanistan to Africa and oth­er havens. That raised the ques­tion: Was the Unit­ed States mass­ing its forces for a 2001 threat or a 2021 threat?

    But Ms. Haines and the new­ly con­firmed C.I.A. direc­tor, William J. Burns, were also clear that if Mr. Biden decid­ed to pull out, there would be costs to intel­li­gence col­lec­tion. On Wednes­day, pre­sent­ing the government’s annu­al threat assess­ment to the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, Mr. Burns said: “When the time comes for the U.S. mil­i­tary to with­draw, the U.S. government’s abil­i­ty to col­lect and act on threats will dimin­ish. That is sim­ply a fact.”

    There was anoth­er wor­ry cir­cu­lat­ing in the White House, the Pen­ta­gon and intel­li­gence agen­cies. They feared that once the Unit­ed States left, it was only a mat­ter of time — maybe months, maybe years — until Kab­ul fell. The dis­cus­sion, one par­tic­i­pant said, remind­ed him of accounts he had read of the deci­sion-mak­ing over troops exit­ing Viet­nam in 1973. Then, the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion was seek­ing a “decent inter­val,” to use the phrase at the time, before the fall of the Saigon gov­ern­ment. It turned out the inter­val was a lit­tle more than two years, before peo­ple were evac­u­at­ed from a rooftop 46 years ago, cap­tured in a pho­to­graph that came to sym­bol­ize the fail­ure.

    The par­tic­i­pant said the dis­cus­sions on Afghanistan in the con­text of the col­lapse of South Viet­nam were eerie.

    But Mr. Biden argued that if Kab­ul were to be attacked, there was not much a mere 3,000 Amer­i­can troops in the coun­try could do about it. And as long as they were there, wouldn’t the Afghan gov­ern­ment have lit­tle rea­son to become self-reliant for its own defense?

    As the pol­i­cy debate extend­ed into March, Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials said they grew alarmed at news reports that sug­gest­ed the lengthy debate meant that troops would stay.

    At meet­ings of the North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion in Brus­sels on March 23 and 24, Sec­re­tary of State Antony J. Blinken sought to put allies on notice that they should start think­ing about how to con­duct with­drawals of their own troops in Afghanistan, a com­bat dis­en­gage­ment that the Pen­ta­gon describes as a “mil­i­tary ret­ro­grade oper­a­tion.” Such move­ments often — as they are now — require send­ing addi­tion­al troops to make sure that the depart­ing forces can get out safe­ly.

    For Pen­ta­gon offi­cials, it was start­ing to become clear that their efforts would fall short this time. But offi­cials insist­ed that through­out the process, Mr. Biden heard them out.

    “What I can tell you is this was an inclu­sive process, and their voic­es were heard and their con­cerns tak­en into con­sid­er­a­tion as the Pres­i­dent made his deci­sion,” Mr. Austin told reporters in Brus­sels on Wednes­day, refer­ring to the gen­er­als.

    “But now that the deci­sion has been made, I call upon them to lead their forces through this effort, through this tran­si­tion,” Mr. Austin said. “And know­ing them all very well, as I do, I have every con­fi­dence that they will in fact lead their forces through this effort.”

    Amer­i­can offi­cials said on Sat­ur­day that orders for the remain­ing troops to start leav­ing could be issued in the next few days. If they face no threats from the Tal­iban, the forces could be com­plete­ly with­drawn well before the Sept. 11 dead­line, the offi­cials said.

    ...

    ———-

    “Debat­ing Exit From Afghanistan, Biden Reject­ed Gen­er­als’ Views” By Helene Coop­er, Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger; The New York Times; 04/17/2021

    “Amer­i­can offi­cials said on Sat­ur­day that orders for the remain­ing troops to start leav­ing could be issued in the next few days. If they face no threats from the Tal­iban, the forces could be com­plete­ly with­drawn well before the Sept. 11 dead­line, the offi­cials said.

    IF they face not threats from the Tal­iban, coali­tion forces could be com­plete­ly with­drawn well before the Sept 11 dead­line. It’s the kind of opti­mistic pre­dic­tion that rais­es the ques­tion: so what hap­pens if there ARE threats from the Tal­iban? Or at least threats attrib­uted to the Tal­iban via intel­li­gence assess­ments? What hap­pens to the with­draw­al plans then?

    ...
    The sto­ry of how Mr. Biden decid­ed to end the Amer­i­can war in Afghanistan should sur­prise no one who has spent more than 10 min­utes in his com­pa­ny over the past two decades. Yes, he had joined 97 oth­er sen­a­tors on Sept. 14, 2001, to vote in favor of going to war in Afghanistan. He had even been in favor of the Iraq war the next year.

    But Mr. Biden turned on both endeav­ors and told any­one who would lis­ten, in expos­i­to­ry speech­es that some­times last­ed for hours. In 2008, dur­ing vis­its to Afghanistan as chair­man of the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee, he “found con­fu­sion at all lev­els about our strat­e­gy and objec­tives,” Robert M. Gates, the for­mer defense sec­re­tary, wrote in a mem­oir, “Duty.” Mr. Biden was so frus­trat­ed with the Afghan lead­er­ship, Mr. Gates added, that he once threw down his nap­kin and walked out of a din­ner with Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai.

    As vice pres­i­dent, Mr. Biden clashed with the Pen­ta­gon, includ­ing Mr. Gates, and Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton about troop lev­els in the coun­try, argu­ing for bring­ing them down to a min­i­mal coun­tert­er­ror­ism force. (He lost that bat­tle.) And Mr. Biden was furi­ous, Mr. Oba­ma report­ed in his mem­oir, at gen­er­als who were try­ing to force a deci­sion to com­mit addi­tion­al troops with leaks say­ing that if more were not sent, the result would be mis­sion fail­ure.

    Mr. Oba­ma wrote that Mr. Biden used a vivid epi­thet and warned him about gen­er­als who “are try­ing to box in a new pres­i­dent.” The vice pres­i­dent leaned for­ward, putting his face “a few inch­es from mine and stage-whis­pered, ‘Don’t let them jam you,’ ” Mr. Oba­ma recalled.
    ...

    “Don’t let them jam you.” That was the warn­ing Biden had for Barack Oba­ma. And it’s that fear of get­ting ‘jammed’ by the gen­er­als into main­tain­ing the occu­pa­tion that appears to be ani­mat­ing the Biden admin­is­tra­tion’s rapid with­draw­al with­out con­di­tions. Because now it’s Biden’s turn to get jammed.

    So what would it take to ‘jam’ Biden on this issue? It’s the kind of ques­tion a whole lot of dif­fer­ent actors have to be ask­ing them­selves at this point. And based on what we’ve seen in those two arti­cle excerpts, it’s going to take more than just a new ver­sion of the ‘Russ­ian boun­ties’ sto­ry. It’s a good news/bad news sit­u­a­tion: it does­n’t sound like it’s going to be easy to con­vince Biden to stay in Afghanistan. But it does­n’t have to be easy. Dif­fi­cult, wild schemes that involve a lot of may­hem could poten­tial­ly work too.

    It points towards one of the dark ironies of this moment for the peo­ple of Afghanistan: while doom obvi­ous­ly looms for those fac­ing the bru­tal­i­ty of the Tal­iban, it’s this peri­od right before the Tal­iban is allowed to bru­tal­ly take com­plete con­trol that could end up being the most pre­car­i­ous.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 20, 2021, 4:05 pm
  2. In light of Pres­i­dent Biden’s announced US pull-out from Afghanistan, and the result­ing incen­tive this announce­ment gives to any actors who want to see the US remain in Afghanistan to do some­thing that will force the US to reverse this deci­sion and remain in the coun­try, it’s worth not­ing a sto­ry from a few months ago that large­ly slipped through the cracks:

    Cole James Bridges, a US sol­dier sta­tioned out of Fort Stew­art, Geor­gia, was arrest­ed in Jan­u­ary for com­mu­ni­cat­ing with indi­vid­u­als he thought were mem­bers of the ISIS. Bridges passed along what are described as detailed instruc­tions on tac­tics and man­u­als and advice about attack­ing the 9/11 memo­r­i­al and oth­er tar­gets in New York City. So this was a planned attack on the 9/11 memo­r­i­al around the same time the US is plan­ning on pulling out of Afghanistan by the 20th anniver­sary of 9/11. And while it would osten­si­bly have been an attack by ISIS, this is where the often-neb­u­lous nature of ter­ror attack attri­bu­tions could serve as an argu­ment for why the US must remain in Afghanistan, at least for a while longer to avenge the new attack. Accord­ing to the charges, Bridges dia­grammed spe­cif­ic mil­i­tary maneu­vers to help ISIS kill US troops, includ­ing the best way to for­ti­fy an encamp­ment to repel an attack by US Spe­cial Forces and how to wire cer­tain build­ings with explo­sives to kill the US troops. So Bridges thought he was pro­vid­ed ISIS with the kind of tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion the group would need to cause a mass casu­al­ty event in the Mid­dle East tar­get­ing US troops...exactly the kind of event that could delay a US with­draw­al.

    It turns out Bridges was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with an FBI employ­ee instead if ISIS, so the attacks on the 9/11 memo­r­i­al or US troops in the Mid­dle East he was try­ing to orches­trate remain should hope­ful­ly be avoid­ed. But that rais­es the obvi­ous ques­tion: how many oth­er rad­i­cal­ized ‘Cole Bridges’ are there in the US mil­i­tary look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties to net­work with jihadists and arrange for mass casu­al­ty events? Well, we can at least par­tial­ly answer the ques­tion: it’s was­n’t JUST Cole Bridges look­ing to net­work with jihadist and arrange for attacks on US troops. Recall how Ethan Melz­er was arrest back in June on charges of being a mem­ber of the Atom­waf­fen-affil­i­at­ed Satan­ic neo-Nazi “Order of the Nine Angles” group and com­mu­ni­cat­ing his unit’s over­seas assign­ment with a mem­ber of al Qae­da for the pur­pose of facil­i­tat­ing ambush attacks on his unit. Why did Melch­er want to orches­trate an al Qae­da ambush attack on his own mil­i­tary unit? In order to help keep the US fight­ing in the Mid­dle East for anoth­er decade. Doing so would mean “I’ve died suc­cess­ful­ly”, in Melcher’s own words.

    There there’s the two ‘Booga­loo Bois’ — Michael Robert Solomon, 30, of North Car­oli­na, and Ben­jamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of Min­neso­ta — who were arrest­ed in Sep­tem­ber for try­ing to sell weapons to Hamas. What the the motive for this alliance? A shared anti-US stance. Hamas is the ene­my of the US gov­ern­ment and there­fore the friend of the ‘Booga­loo’ move­ment. How many mem­bers of the US mil­i­tary share these deep anti-US sen­ti­ments? Remem­ber Booga­loo mem­ber Steven Car­ril­lo, an active mem­ber of the air­force who killed a fed­er­al offi­cer in order to spark a civ­il war? How many more Steven Car­ril­lo’s are there? How many more far right rad­i­cals are there in the US mil­i­tary who view ISIS, or the Tal­iban, as the friend­ly ‘ene­my of their ene­my’?

    And note that we don’t actu­al­ly know yet if Cole James Bridges is like a a far right neo-Nazi ide­o­logue in addi­tion to be an aspir­ing mem­ber of ISIS. But that’s the thing about the ide­o­log­i­cal deep over­lap between the jihadist extrem­ists and oth­er far right extrem­ist: we don’t real­ly have to ask whether or not Bridges was a far right nut job too. If he was try­ing to join ISIS he was obvi­ous­ly a far right nut job. Mak­ing him one more in the long list of dan­ger­ous far right nut jobs found in the mil­i­tary. A list of dan­ger­ous far right nut jobs in the mil­i­tary who are going to be extra dan­ger­ous between now and when the US final­ly leaves Afghanistan:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    US sol­dier arrest­ed in plot to blow up NYC 9/11 Memo­r­i­al

    By LARRY NEUMEISTER
    Jan­u­ary 19, 2021

    NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. Army sol­dier was arrest­ed Tues­day in Geor­gia on ter­ror­ism charges after he spoke online about plots to blow up New York City’s 9/11 Memo­r­i­al and oth­er land­marks and attack U.S. sol­diers in the Mid­dle East, author­i­ties said.

    Cole James Bridges of Stow, Ohio, was in cus­tody on charges of attempt­ed mate­r­i­al sup­port of a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion — the Islam­ic State group — and attempt­ed mur­der of a mil­i­tary mem­ber, said Nicholas Biase, a spokesper­son for Man­hat­tan fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors.

    The 20-year-old sol­dier, also known as Cole Gon­za­les, was with the Third Infantry Divi­sion out of Fort Stew­art, Geor­gia, when he thought he was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the Islam­ic State online about the ter­ror­ism plots, Biase said.

    Unbe­knownst to Bridges, an FBI employ­ee was in on the chat as Bridges pro­vid­ed detailed instruc­tions on tac­tics and man­u­als and advice about attack­ing the memo­r­i­al and oth­er tar­gets in New York City, Biase said.

    “As we allege today, Bridges, a pri­vate in the U.S. Army, betrayed our coun­try and his unit when he plot­ted with some­one he believed was an ISIS sym­pa­thiz­er to help ISIS attack and kill U.S. sol­diers in the Mid­dle East,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York City’s FBI office.

    “For­tu­nate­ly, the per­son with whom he com­mu­ni­cat­ed was an FBI employ­ee, and we were able to pre­vent his evil desires from com­ing to fruition,” Sweeney said in a release.

    “Our troops risk their lives for our coun­try, but they should nev­er face such per­il at the hands of one of their own,” U.S. Attor­ney Audrey Strauss said.

    ...

    Accord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint in Man­hat­tan fed­er­al court, Bridges joined the U.S. Army in Sep­tem­ber 2019 and was assigned as a cav­al­ry scout in Fort Stew­art.

    At some point, he began research­ing and con­sum­ing online pro­pa­gan­da pro­mot­ing jihadists and their vio­lent ide­ol­o­gy, author­i­ties said.

    They said he expressed his sup­port for the Islam­ic State group and jihad on social media before he began com­mu­ni­cat­ing in Octo­ber with an FBI employ­ee who posed as an Islam­ic State group sup­port­er in con­tact with the group’s fight­ers in the Mid­dle East.

    Accord­ing to court papers, he expressed his frus­tra­tion with the U.S. mil­i­tary and his desire to aid the Islam­ic State group.

    The crim­i­nal com­plaint said he then pro­vid­ed train­ing and guid­ance to pur­port­ed Islam­ic State fight­ers who were plan­ning attacks, includ­ing advice about poten­tial tar­gets in New York City, includ­ing the 9/11 Memo­r­i­al.

    It said he also pro­vid­ed por­tions of a U.S. Army train­ing man­u­al and guid­ance about mil­i­tary com­bat tac­tics.

    Bridges also dia­grammed spe­cif­ic mil­i­tary maneu­vers to help the ter­ror­ist group’s fight­ers kill U.S. troops, includ­ing the best way to for­ti­fy an encamp­ment to repel an attack by U.S. Spe­cial Forces and how to wire cer­tain build­ings with explo­sives to kill the U.S. troops, the com­plaint said.

    This month, accord­ing to the com­plaint, Bridges sent a video of him­self in body armor stand­ing before an Islam­ic State flag, ges­tur­ing sup­port.

    A week lat­er, Bridges sent a sec­ond video in which he used a voice manip­u­la­tor and nar­rat­ed a pro­pa­gan­da speech in sup­port of the Islam­ic State group’s antic­i­pat­ed ambush of U.S. troops, the com­plaint said.

    ...

    ———-

    “US sol­dier arrest­ed in plot to blow up NYC 9/11 Memo­r­i­al” by LARRY NEUMEISTER; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 01/19/2021

    “The crim­i­nal com­plaint said he then pro­vid­ed train­ing and guid­ance to pur­port­ed Islam­ic State fight­ers who were plan­ning attacks, includ­ing advice about poten­tial tar­gets in New York City, includ­ing the 9/11 Memo­r­i­al.”

    How would an ISIS attack on the 9/11 memo­r­i­al impact the US’s will­ing­ness to pull out of Afghanistan? It would pre­sum­ably depend on the scale of the attack. But note how Bridges lit­er­al­ly pro­duced a pro­pa­gan­da video in Jan­u­ary in antic­i­pa­tion of the ISIS ambush on US troops he thought he was help­ing to orches­trate. So this ambush attack was planned for basi­cal­ly the end of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and/or begin­ning of the Biden admin­is­tra­tion. Tim­ing is every­thing. Even with ter­ror attacks:

    ...
    It said he also pro­vid­ed por­tions of a U.S. Army train­ing man­u­al and guid­ance about mil­i­tary com­bat tac­tics.

    Bridges also dia­grammed spe­cif­ic mil­i­tary maneu­vers to help the ter­ror­ist group’s fight­ers kill U.S. troops, includ­ing the best way to for­ti­fy an encamp­ment to repel an attack by U.S. Spe­cial Forces and how to wire cer­tain build­ings with explo­sives to kill the U.S. troops, the com­plaint said.

    This month, accord­ing to the com­plaint, Bridges sent a video of him­self in body armor stand­ing before an Islam­ic State flag, ges­tur­ing sup­port.

    A week lat­er, Bridges sent a sec­ond video in which he used a voice manip­u­la­tor and nar­rat­ed a pro­pa­gan­da speech in sup­port of the Islam­ic State group’s antic­i­pat­ed ambush of U.S. troops, the com­plaint said.

    ...

    How would such an attack on US troops in the Mid­dle East have impact­ed the Biden’s plans to with­draw from Afghanistan this year? At this point we have no idea where exact­ly this ambush was being planned but it’s not like ISIS does­n’t oper­ate in Afghanistan and it’s not like the with­draw­al of the US from Afghanistan was a sur­prise.

    To some extent, we have to ask just how strate­gic was Bridges being in his ter­ror schem­ing? Was he sim­ply out to join ISIS is rack up some ‘wins’ in the form of dead sol­diers? Or did he have some­thing more strate­gi­cal­ly sin­is­ter in mind, like Ethan Melch­er report­ed­ly had when he plot­ted an ambush attack on his own unit with the goal of keep­ing the US in fight­ing in the Mid­dle East for anoth­er decade? We don’t know what exact­ly he was think­ing, but we can be pret­ty con­fi­dent that Cole James Bridges prob­a­bly has­n’t been the only mem­ber of the mil­i­tary with sim­i­lar thoughts.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 21, 2021, 4:34 pm

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