Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #502 Curve Ball

Record­ed March 13, 2005
MP3 Side 1 | Side 2

Tak­ing its title from the intel­li­gence code-name of an Iraqi defec­tor who pro­vid­ed the US with bogus intel­li­gence about Iraq’s WMD’s, this show exam­ines the Iraq war and the “War on Ter­ror” in the con­text of proxy war waged against the US by the Under­ground Reich. It turned out that the cen­ter­piece of US intel­li­gence on Iraqi WMD’s was a defec­tor from Ahmed Cha­l­abi’s Iraqi Nation­al Con­gress. Pur­port­ing to have first hand knowl­edge of the mobile biowar­fare labs that Sad­dam alleged­ly pos­sessed, the defec­tor (code-named “Curve­ball”) was at all times in the hands of Ger­man intel­li­gence. The BND (Ger­man intel­li­gence and the suc­ces­sor to the Gehlen spy out­fit) rebuffed US attempts at inter­view­ing Curve­ball in per­son. The US went to war over intel­li­gence pro­vid­ed by a source to which they nev­er had direct access! It is unclear whether Ger­man intel­li­gence told the US about the doubts they alleged­ly had about the source. This pro­gram asks whether the US may have been duped into an inva­sion that will pit it against the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tions of the world in a long, cost­ly war that will ulti­mate­ly result in this coun­try’s demise. It is worth not­ing that such a gam­bit would not have required a great deal of skill. Lur­ing the Bush admin­is­tra­tion into such an act would have been no more dif­fi­cult than set­ting out a pot of hon­ey in front of a hun­gry bear. It is also worth not­ing that Ahmed Cha­l­abi (whose orga­ni­za­tion pro­vid­ed Curve­ball to the Ger­mans) is a reput­ed Iran­ian spy. The Ira­ni­ans may have helped the Ger­mans lure the US into depos­ing their ene­my Sad­dam. In addi­tion, the pro­gram exam­ines the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the A.Q. Khan nuclear smug­gling ring may also be an exam­ple of the Under­ground Reich’s use of the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion of the world as proxy war­riors. Much of the pro­gram focus­es on Osama bin Laden’s address just before the US elec­tions of 2004, in which he com­pared Bush’s poli­cies with his own goals and con­clud­ed that Bush was fur­ther­ing his (bin Laden’s) aims.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Exam­i­na­tion of bin Laden’s goal of bank­rupt­ing the US econ­o­my and Bush’s actions that are accom­plish­ing that goal; more infor­ma­tion about the pres­ence of Ger­mans in the A.Q. Khan smug­gling ring; a stun­ning pro­pos­al by US diplo­mat­ic offi­cials that would pro­vide for an alliance between the US and the Islam­o­fas­cist Mus­lim Broth­er­hood (the par­ent orga­ni­za­tion of Al Qae­da); review of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s Bank Al Taqwa and its links to the events of 9/11.

1. The broad­cast begins with dis­cus­sion of the indi­vid­ual from whom the pro­gram derives its title—the Iraqi turn­coat code-named “Curve­ball.”
Curve­ball pro­vid­ed some of the key “infor­ma­tion” which the U.S. used to jus­ti­fy the inva­sion of Iraq—the now thor­ough­ly dis­cred­it­ed sto­ry about Iraq’s mobile germ war­fare labs. As it turns out, the CIA nev­er had access to this indi­vid­ual. “The Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s pre­war claims that Sad­dam Hus­sein had built a fleet of trucks and rail­road cars to pro­duce anthrax and oth­er dead­ly germs were based chiefly on infor­ma­tion from a now-dis­cred­it­ed Iraqi defec­tor code-named ‘Curve­ball,’ accord­ing to cur­rent and for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cials.”

(“Iraqi Defec­tor’s Tales Bol­stered U.S. for War” by Bob Dro­gin and Greg Miller; Los Ange­les Times; 3/28/2004; p. 1.)

2. As it turns out, Curve­ball was at all times in the hands of the BND—the Ger­man fed­er­al intel­li­gence ser­vice and suc­ces­sor to the Gehlen spy out­fit. Through­out the run-up to the inva­sion of Iraq, Mr. Emory voiced his opin­ion that the Under­ground Reich was lead­ing the U.S. into a trap, in which Amer­i­ca would find itself in a long, drain­ing war against the Mus­lim peo­ples of the “Earth Island.” The infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed here about Curve­ball dove­tails nice­ly with Mr. Emory’s pre­war analy­sis. “U.S. offi­cials nev­er had direct access to the defec­tor and did­n’t even know his real name until after the war. Instead, his sto­ry was pro­vid­ed by Ger­man agents, and his file was so thick with details that Amer­i­can offi­cials thought it con­firmed long-stand­ing sus­pi­cions that the Iraqis had devel­oped mobile germ fac­to­ries to evade arms inspec­tions.” (Ibid.; pp. 1–2.)

3. “Curve­ball” turned out to be an appro­pri­ate moniker for this indi­vid­ual. His sto­ry was not only dis­in­for­ma­tion, but also dis­in­for­ma­tion that may have been delib­er­ate­ly fed to the U.S. by Ahmed Cha­l­abi’s group. In light of alle­ga­tions that Cha­l­abi was con­nect­ed to Iran­ian intel­li­gence, one must won­der if Iran may also have been delib­er­ate­ly feed­ing Curve­bal­l’s b.s. to the U.S. This would not have required a great deal of guile on the part of the Ger­mans and/or Ira­ni­ans: it would have been like set­ting out a pot of hon­ey in the path of a maraud­ing, hun­gry bear. “Curve­bal­l’s sto­ry has since crum­bled under doubts raised by the Ger­mans and the scruti­ny of U.S. weapons hunters, who have come to see his code name as par­tic­u­lar­ly apt, giv­en the prob­lems that beset much of the pre­war intel­li­gence col­lec­tion and analy­sis. U.N. weapons inspec­tors hypoth­e­sized that such trucks might exist, offi­cials said. They then asked for­mer exile leader Ahmed Cha­l­abi, a bit­ter ene­my of Hus­sein, to help search for intel­li­gence sup­port­ing their the­o­ry.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

4. Curve­ball appeared right on time, pro­vid­ing the U.S. (through his Ger­man han­dlers) with just what they want­ed to hear. “Soon after, a young chem­i­cal engi­neer emerged in a Ger­man refugee camp and claimed that he had been hired out of Bagh­dad Uni­ver­si­ty to design and build bio­log­i­cal war­fare trucks for the Iraqi army. Based large­ly on his account, Pres­i­dent Bush and his aides repeat­ed­ly warned of the shad­owy germ trucks, dubbed ‘Win­neba­gos of Death’ or ‘Hell on Wheels’ in news accounts, and they became a cru­cial part of the White House case for war, includ­ing Sec­re­tary of State Col­in L. Pow­ell’s dra­mat­ic pre­sen­ta­tion to the U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil just weeks before the war.” (Idem.)

5. As it turned out, Curve­ball was the broth­er of one of Cha­l­abi’s top aides. Again, Cha­l­abi has been alleged to be a cat’s paw for Iran­ian intel­li­gence. “Only lat­er, U.S. offi­cials said, did the CIA learn that the defec­tor was the broth­er of one of Cha­l­abi’s top aides, and begin to sus­pect that he might have been coached to pro­vide false infor­ma­tion. Part­ly because of that, some U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials and con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tors fear that the CIA may have inad­ver­tent­ly con­jured up and then chased a phan­tom weapons sys­tem. David Kay, who resigned in Jan­u­ary as head of the CIA-led group cre­at­ed to find illic­it weapons in Iraq, said that of all the intel­li­gence fail­ures in Iraq, the case of Curve­ball was par­tic­u­lar­ly trou­bling. ‘This is the one that’s damn­ing,’ he said. ‘This is the one that has the poten­tial for caus­ing the largest hav­oc in the sense that it real­ly looks like a lack of due dili­gence and care in going for­ward.” (Idem.)

6. “Kay said in an inter­view that the defec­tor ‘was absolute­ly at the heart of a mat­ter of intense inter­est to us.’ But Curve­ball turned out to be an ‘out-and-out fab­ri­ca­tor,’ he added. . . .” (Idem.)

7. “. . . U.S. and British intel­li­gence offi­cials have acknowl­edged since major com­bat end­ed in Iraq that lies or dis­tor­tions by Iraqi oppo­si­tion groups in exile con­tributed to numer­ous mis­judg­ments about Iraq’s sus­pect­ed weapons pro­grams. Cha­l­abi’s Iraqi Nation­al Con­gress is blamed most often, but the rival Iraqi Nation­al Accord and var­i­ous Kur­dish groups also were respon­si­ble for send­ing dubi­ous defec­tors to West­ern intel­li­gence, offi­cials say. . .” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

8. As not­ed here, the BND refused CIA requests to inter­view Curve­ball in per­son. Why?! ” . . . In this case, Ger­many’s Fed­er­al Intel­li­gence Ser­vice, known as the BND, repeat­ed­ly reject­ed CIA requests to meet Curve­ball, say­ing it need­ed to pro­tect its source. But U.S. and Ger­man offi­cials said the BND fur­nished its file on the defec­tor to U.S. author­i­ties and at times had him answer spe­cif­ic ques­tions from U.S. intel­li­gence. . . .” (Idem.)

9. One of the key ques­tions con­cerns whether the BND com­mu­ni­cat­ed their doubts about Curve­ball before the March 20th inva­sion date. ” . . . One focus of the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions is whether the CIA should have known Curve­ball was not cred­i­ble. A for­mer U.S. offi­cial who has reviewed the clas­si­fied file said the BND warned the CIA last spring [2003] that it had ‘var­i­ous prob­lems with the source.’ Die Zeit, a Ger­man newsweek­ly, first report­ed the warn­ing last August. The offi­cial said the BND sent the warn­ing after Pow­ell first described the biowar­fare trucks in detail to the U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil on Feb. 5, 5003. It’s unclear whether the Ger­man warn­ing arrived before the war began on March 20 last year.” (Idem.)

10. Read the next para­graph care­ful­ly: it appears that the Ger­mans were pass­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion to a U.S. intel­li­gence estab­lish­ment that very much want­ed to hear just what the Ger­mans were telling them. ” ‘You can imag­ine the con­ster­na­tion it kicked off,’ the offi­cial said. ‘It sug­gest­ed that what [the Ger­mans had] been pass­ing to us was false. They were back­ing away.’ Mark Mans­field, a CIA spokesman, declined to com­ment Fri­day on that charge or ques­tions about the case. An offi­cial at BND head­quar­ters in Berlin, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, also declined to answer ques­tions. ‘We believed that Iraq had these mobile bio­log­i­cal facil­i­ties,’ the offi­cial said.. . .” (Idem.)

11. Oth­ers from the Cha­l­abi camp were pro­vid­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion on the mobile biowar­fare labs. ” . . . Kay said the debrief­ing files on the pair [of Iraqi defec­tors sup­port­ing Curve­bal­l’s alle­ga­tions] showed that they nev­er had direct con­tact with the biowar­fare trucks. ‘None of them claimed to have seen them,’ he said. ‘They said they were aware of the mobile pro­gram. They had heard there was a mobile pro­gram.’ CIA files showed that anoth­er Iraqi defec­tor, an engi­neer who had worked with Curve­ball, specif­i­cal­ly denied that they had worked on such facil­i­ties, Kay said. Pow­ell did not cite that defec­tor.” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

12. Oth­ers in Cha­l­abi’s camp but­tressed Curve­bal­l’s claims. “The CIA acknowl­edged last month that a fourth defec­tor whom Pow­ell cit­ed at the U.N., a for­mer major in Iraq’s intel­li­gence ser­vice, had lied when he said that Bagh­dad had built mobile research lab­o­ra­to­ries to test bio­log­i­cal agents. The Pen­tagon’s Defense Intel­li­gence Agency twice debriefed that defec­tor in ear­ly 2002 and report­ed his claims. But it then con­clud­ed that he did not have first­hand infor­ma­tion and prob­a­bly was coached by Cha­l­abi’s exile group. . . .” (Idem.)

13. It appears that Curve­ball was thrown in the CIA’s direc­tion by a Cha­l­abi out­fit that had long been pitch­ing bat­ting prac­tice to the weapons inspec­tors. ” . . . The inspec­tors long had relied on intel­li­gence from sym­pa­thet­ic gov­ern­ments and dis­si­dent groups. Cha­l­abi had lob­bied Wash­ing­ton for years to over­throw Hus­sein and claimed that he had spies inside the Bagh­dad regime. In Decem­ber 1997, Rit­ter said, he and his deputy, a for­mer British army major attached to the U.N. team, flew to Lon­don to ask Cha­l­abi for help. They met for three hours over din­ner at Cha­l­abi’s May­fair res­i­dence with the influ­en­tial Iraqi exile and Ahmed Allawi, who head­ed intel­li­gence oper­a­tions for the Iraqi Nation­al Con­gress.” (Ibid.; p. 7.)

14. ” ‘Cha­l­abi out­lined what he could do for us,’ Rit­ter recalled. ‘His intel­li­gence guy out­lined their sources and said he had peo­ple inside the gov­ern­ment. They told us they had the run of Iraq. Just tell them what we need­ed. So we out­lined the gaps in our under­stand­ing of the Iraqi pro­gram, includ­ing the mobile bioweapons labs. Basi­cal­ly, we gave them a shop­ping list.’ ‘They began feed­ing us infor­ma­tion,’ Rit­ter said. ‘We got hand-drawn maps, hand­writ­ten state­ments and oth­er stuff flow­ing in. At first blush, it looked good. But noth­ing panned out. Most of it just regur­gi­tat­ed what we’d giv­en them. And the data that was new nev­er checked out.’ ” (Ibid.; pp. 7–8.)

15. The pre­cise cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing Curve­bal­l’s appear­ance in Ger­many in 1998 remain mys­te­ri­ous. “Haider Musawi, an INC media liai­son in Bagh­dad, said in a tele­phone inter­view Sat­ur­day that he could not con­firm the meet­ings had occurred. Asked about INC ties to Curve­ball, he replied, ‘I real­ly can’t think of such a defec­tor.’ U.S. offi­cials say Curve­ball appar­ent­ly showed up in Ger­many in 1998, but it is unclear how he got there. [Ital­ics are Mr. Emory’s.] [The Times] was unable to ascer­tain Curve­bal­l’s real name or his cur­rent loca­tion. What is clear is that by 2000, Curve­ball had pro­vid­ed a vast array of con­vinc­ing detail about the illic­it pro­gram he claimed to man­age. . . . ‘We did­n’t find any­thing.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 8.)

16. ” . . . Dur­ing the sum­mer, Kay’s inves­ti­ga­tors vis­it­ed Curve­bal­l’s par­ents and broth­er in Bagh­dad, as well as his for­mer work sites. They deter­mined that he was last in his class at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bagh­dad, not first as he had claimed. They learned he had been fired from his job and jailed for embez­zle­ment before he fled Iraq. ‘He was wrong about so much,’ Kay recalled. ‘Phys­i­cal descrip­tions he gave for build­ings and sites sim­ply did­n’t match real­i­ty. Things start­ed to fall apart.’ Cha­l­abi now a mem­ber of the Iraqi Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil, retains strong sup­port in the White House. He was a guest of First Lady Lau­ra Bush at the pres­i­den­t’s State of the Union address last Jan­u­ary, and his orga­ni­za­tion still receives sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars a month from the Pen­ta­gon to help col­lect intel­li­gence in Iraq. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 9.)

17. Next, the broad­cast sets forth the alle­ga­tions about Cha­l­abi’s hav­ing ties to Iran­ian intel­li­gence. With a Shi­ite major­i­ty that was active­ly sup­pressed by Sad­dam Hus­sein, Iraq would have made a tempt­ing tar­get to the Ira­ni­ans. They might well have decid­ed to do what they could to pre­cip­i­tate a U.S. inva­sion of Iraq, it’s old ene­my. “Ahmad Cha­l­abi, the Iraqi leader accused by the CIA of pass­ing US secrets to Tehran, claimed to have close links with Iran­ian intel­li­gence sev­en years ago, accord­ing to a for­mer UN weapons inspec­tor. Scott Rit­ter, who before the war insist­ed that Sad­dam Hus­sein did not have sig­nif­i­cant weapons stocks, made the claim to Andrew Cock­burn, a Wash­ing­ton-based jour­nal­ist and the author of a biog­ra­phy of the oust­ed Iraqi dic­ta­tor.”
(“Iraqi Accused by CIA Made Claim in 1997, Says For­mer Inspec­tor” by Julian Borg­er; The Guardian; 5/26/2004; p. 1.)

18. ” ‘When I met [Mr. Cha­l­abi] in Decem­ber 1997 he said he had tremen­dous con­nec­tions with Iran­ian intel­li­gence,’ Mr. Rit­ter said, accord­ing to an arti­cle by Mr. Cock­burn pub­lished today in the Guardian. ‘He said that some of his best intel­li­gence came from the Ira­ni­ans and offered to set up a meet­ing for me with the head of Iran­ian intel­li­gence.’ Mr. Cha­l­abi has repeat­ed­ly denied pass­ing secrets to the Ira­ni­ans and has denounced the alle­ga­tions made by US intel­li­gence offi­cials as a CIA ‘smear.’ He also denied pro­vid­ing false infor­ma­tion about weapons of mass destruc­tion to the US. . . .” (Idem.)

19. In FTR#412, Mr. Emory pre­sent­ed infor­ma­tion sug­gest­ing that the Bush admin­is­tra­tion was delib­er­ate­ly work­ing to sub­vert the U.S. econ­o­my. Osama bin Laden has been work­ing in a sim­i­lar direc­tion. Recall that it has long been Mr. Emory’s view that the Under­ground Reich is pulling the strings of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, as well as the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and Al Qae­da. In that con­text, it is inter­est­ing to exam­ine a speech Osama bin Laden released [via video­tape] just before the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. In this speech, bin Laden hints fair­ly direct­ly that Bush is fol­low­ing his agen­da. Again, it is Mr. Emory’s view that both the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and Al Qae­da are serv­ing as pup­pets of the Under­ground Reich. “Osama bin Laden boast­ed that the inva­sion of Iraq has bogged down the Unit­ed States in a hope­less war that advances al Qaeda’s recruit­ment goals and bin Laden’s aim of bank­rupt­ing the U.S. econ­o­my, accord­ing to a trans­la­tion of the full text of the ter­ror­ist lead­er’s remarks on a video­tape that sur­faced last week. ‘The thinkers and per­cep­tive ones from among the Amer­i­cans warned Bush before the war’ about the dan­gers of invad­ing Iraq, bin Laden said on the tape, accord­ing to a U.S. gov­ern­ment tran­script released yes­ter­day. ‘But the dark­ness of the black gold [oil] blurred his vision. . . . The war went ahead, the death toll rose, the Amer­i­can econ­o­my bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threat­ened his future. . . .’ ”
(“Bin Laden Lauds Costs of War to U.S.” by John Mintz; Wash­ing­ton Post; 11/1/2004; p. 1.)

20. ” . . . On the tape, the Sau­di mil­lion­aire brags that he is suc­ceed­ing beyond his dreams in desta­bi­liz­ing the U.S. econ­o­my and bank­rupt­ing the U.S. gov­ern­ment, assert­ing that Pres­i­dent Bush is eas­i­ly manip­u­lat­ed into tak­ing mil­i­tary and secu­ri­ty steps that harm Amer­i­can inter­ests. The results of the U.S. war in Iraq, he said, ‘have been by the grace of Allah, pos­i­tive and enor­mous, and have by all stan­dards exceed­ed all expec­ta­tions. The pol­i­cy of the White House that demands the open­ing of war fronts to keep busy their var­i­ous corporations—whether they be work­ing in the field of arms or oil or reconstruction—has helped al Qae­da to achieve these enor­mous results,’ bin Laden said. ‘And so it has appeared to some ana­lysts and diplo­mats that the White House and we are play­ing as one team toward the eco­nom­ic goals of the Unit­ed States, even if the inten­tions dif­fer.’ [Ital­ics are Mr. Emory’s].” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

21. It is essen­tial to note that bin Laden’s boasts would be emp­ty, but for the insane tax cuts that the Bush admin­is­tra­tion has imple­ment­ed. Bin Laden’s forces would not have suc­ceed­ed in the ongo­ing bank­rupt­ing of the U.S., were it not for the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s fis­cal poli­cies. ” . . . Bin Laden also sug­gest­ed that the huge sums of mon­ey Wash­ing­ton spends on home­land secu­ri­ty and the mil­i­tary serve his agen­da of weak­en­ing the U.S. econ­o­my. All that we have men­tioned has made it easy for us to pro­voke and bait this admin­is­tra­tion,’ bin Laden said. ‘All that we have to do is to send two muja­hed­din to the far­thest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is writ­ten ‘al Qae­da’ in order to make the gen­er­als race there, to cause Amer­i­ca to suf­fer human, eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal loss­es, with­out their achiev­ing for it any­thing of note oth­er than some ben­e­fits for their pri­vate com­pa­nies.’ He added: ‘We are con­tin­u­ing this pol­i­cy in bleed­ing Amer­i­ca to the point of bank­rupt­cy.’ ” (Ibid.; pp. 2–3.)

22. Again, note that it is Bush’s insane eco­nom­ic poli­cies, in com­bi­na­tion with bin Laden’s tac­tics that are bank­rupt­ing the Unit­ed Staes. “He not­ed remarks by coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts that al Qaeda’s expens­es in attack­ing Amer­i­ca are a tiny frac­tion of the cost of Wash­ing­ton’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism efforts. ‘Every dol­lar of al Qae­da defeat­ed a mil­lion [U.S.] dol­lars . . . besides the loss of a huge num­ber of jobs. ‘As for the size of the eco­nom­ic deficit, it has reached record, astro­nom­i­cal num­bers esti­mat­ed to total more than a tril­lion dol­lars. Even more dan­ger­ous and bit­ter for Amer­i­ca is that the muja­hed­din recent­ly forced Bush to resort to emer­gency funds to con­tin­ue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is evi­dence of the suc­cess of the bleed-until-bank­rupt­cy plan.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

23. Dur­ing the run-up to the Iraq war, Mr. Emory pro­duced a num­ber of pro­grams advanc­ing his work­ing hypoth­e­sis that the Under­ground Reich was manip­u­lat­ing the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tions of the “Earth Island” (the Arabs in par­tic­u­lar) in order to serve as proxy war­riors against the U.S., Britain and Israel. (For more about this, see FTR#‘s 394, 395, 396, 404, 413, 450.) In this con­text, the pro­gram presents more infor­ma­tion about the Ger­man links to (and ori­gins of) the A.Q. Khan nuclear smug­gling ring that pro­vid­ed Pak­istan, Libya, Iran and North Korea with much of their nuclear capa­bil­i­ty. This should be viewed against the recent saber-rat­tling between the U.S. and Iran. Is this anoth­er exam­ple of the U.S. being lured into a proxy war sit­u­a­tion? “Recent advances in an inter­na­tion­al inves­ti­ga­tion into the nuclear smug­gling net­work cen­tered on Abdul-Qadeer Khan, the Pak­istani sci­en­tist, have boost­ed hopes of uncov­er­ing the truth about Iran’s nuclear pro­gram. Mr. Khan has admit­ted help­ing the nuclear pro­grams of Iran, Libya and North Korea over more than 15 years—but there are big gaps in inves­ti­ga­tors’ under­stand­ing of what was sup­plied and to whom. . . .”

(“Fresh Clues on Smug­gling Net­work Could Help Lift Lid on Tehran’s Secret Nuclear Pro­gramme” by Stephen Fidler; The Finan­cial Times; 3/12/2005; p. 1.)

24. “Inves­ti­ga­tors have known for more than a year that ear­ly con­tacts were made between Iran and the net­work in 1987. But the sig­nif­i­cance of the doc­u­ment was that it showed the net­work offered to pro­vide Iran with the where­with­al to man­u­fac­ture and cast ura­ni­um met­al, an abil­i­ty Iran would need only if build­ing a nuclear weapon. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

25. For more about the Ger­man link to the nuclear smug­gling ring, see FTR#‘s 336, 395, 450.) “Nuclear ana­lysts said the doc­u­ment might have encour­aged Pak­istan’s first pub­lic admis­sion this week that the net­work sup­plied Iran with cen­trifuges, rul­ing out that it sup­plied oth­er, even more incrim­i­nat­ing, tech­nolo­gies. The doc­u­ment emerged out of a 1987 meet­ing in Dubai, attend­ed by three Iran­ian offi­cials, Mr. Tahir and his uncle, a man named Mohamed Farouq, west­ern diplo­mats said. As many as three Euro­peans may have attend­ed, includ­ing pos­si­bly a Ger­man engi­neer, now dead, called Heinz Mebus. . . .” (Idem.)

26. Just as the U.S. was lured into the Iraqi inva­sion under the aus­pices of bad intel­li­gence and some fun­da­men­tal illu­sions about the nature of the Mid­dle East, so, too it may be in the process of being lured into a friend­ly rela­tion­ship with the Islam­o­fas­cist Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. An ally of the Third Reich, the Broth­er­hood is explic­it­ly fas­cist. Like a num­ber of neo-fas­cist move­ments (includ­ing the Ital­ian Allean­za Nationale and the Ger­man NPD) the Broth­er­hood is attempt­ing to use demo­c­ra­t­ic means to achieve pow­er, where it is deemed fea­si­ble. This should not lure the U.S. into a false sense of secu­ri­ty, how­ev­er. Nazi pro­pa­gan­da min­is­ter Joseph Goebbels was quite explic­it about the Nazis’ will­ing­ness to use demo­c­ra­t­ic means to achieve pow­er, as well as their unwill­ing­ness to allow oth­ers to use demo­c­ra­t­ic means to remove them from pow­er. It would be pru­dent to view the Broth­er­hood’s demo­c­ra­t­ic pre­ten­sions in light of Goebbels’ remarks. Bear­ing in mind Mr. Emory’s views on Under­ground Reich manip­u­la­tion of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, it is inter­est­ing to con­sid­er the arti­cle that fol­lows. It may be that the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s attempts at fos­ter­ing democ­ra­cy in the Mid­dle East may result in the ascen­sion of Islam­o­fas­cist gov­ern­ments in those coun­tries.

27. ” . . . Some fed­er­al agents wor­ry that the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood has dan­ger­ous links to ter­ror­ism. But some U.S. diplo­mats and intel­li­gence offi­cials believe its influ­ence offers an oppor­tu­ni­ty for polit­i­cal engage­ment that could help iso­late vio­lent jihadists. ‘It is the pre­em­i­nent move­ment in the Mus­lim world,’ said Gra­ham E. Fuller, a for­mer CIA offi­cial spe­cial­iz­ing in the Mid­dle East. ‘It’s some­thing we can work with.’ Demo­niz­ing the Broth­er­hood ‘would be fool­hardy in the extreme,’ he warned.”

(“In Search of Friends Among the Foes: U.S. Hopes to Work with Diverse Group” by John Mintz and Dou­glas Farah; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 9/11/2004; p. A01.)

28. “The Broth­er­hood’s his­to­ry and the chal­lenges it pos­es to U.S. offi­cials illus­trate the com­plex­i­ty of the polit­i­cal front in the cam­paign against ter­ror­ism three years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. FBI agents and finan­cial inves­ti­ga­tors probe the group for ter­ror­ist ties and legal vio­la­tions, while diplo­mats simul­ta­ne­ous­ly dis­cuss strate­gies for co-opt­ing at least its mod­er­ate wings. In both sec­tors of the U.S. gov­ern­ment, the Broth­er­hood often remains a mys­tery. The Brotherhood—of al-Ikhwan al-Mus­limun, as it is know in Arabic—is a sprawl­ing and secre­tive soci­ety with fol­low­ers in more than 70 coun­tries. It is ded­i­cat­ed to cre­at­ing an Islam­ic civ­i­liza­tion that harks back to the caliphates of the 7th and 7th cen­turies, one that would seg­re­gate women from pub­lic life and scorn non­be­liev­ers.” (Idem.)

29. “In some nations—Egypt, Alge­ria, Syr­ia, Sudan—the Broth­er­hood has foment­ed Islam­ic rev­o­lu­tion. In the Pales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries, the Broth­er­hood cre­at­ed the Islam­ic Resis­tance Move­ment, or Hamas, which has become known for its sui­cide bomb­ings of Israelis. Yet is also a sophis­ti­cat­ed and diverse orga­ni­za­tion that appeals to many Mus­lims world­wide and some­times advo­cates peace­ful per­sua­sion, not vio­lent revolt. Some of its sup­port­ers went on to help found al Qae­da, while oth­ers launched one of the largest col­lege stu­dent groups in the Unit­ed States. For decades the Broth­er­hood enjoyed the sup­port of the gov­ern­ment of Sau­di Ara­bia and its oil bil­lions, which helped the group expand in the Unit­ed States.” (Ibid.; pp. 1–2.)

30. It is dis­turb­ing to note that the Broth­er­hood is a dom­i­nant force in the Amer­i­can Islam­ic com­mu­ni­ty: “Past and present Mus­lim Broth­er­hood sup­port­ers make up the U.S. Islam­ic com­mu­ni­ty’s most orga­nized force. They run hun­dreds of mosques and dozens of busi­ness­es engag­ing in ven­tures such as real estate devel­op­ment and bank­ing. They also helped set up some of the lead­ing Amer­i­can Islam­ic orga­ni­za­tions that defend the rights of Mus­lims, pro­mote Mus­lim civic activism and seek to spread Islam. For years, fed­er­al agents paid lit­tle heed to the Broth­er­hood, but after Sept. 11, they noticed that many leads went back to the Broth­er­hood. ‘We see some sort of nexus, direct or indi­rect, to the Broth­er­hood, in ongo­ing cas­es,’ said Den­nis Lormel, until recent­ly a top FBI coun­tert­er­ror­ism offi­cial. The archi­tect of the Sept. 11 strikes, Khalid Sheik Mohamed, told U.S. inter­roga­tors that he was drawn to vio­lent jihad after join­ing the Broth­er­hood in Kuwait at age 16 and attend­ing its desert youth camps, accord­ing to the report released in July by the nation­al com­mis­sion that inves­ti­gat­ed the attacks.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

31. The arti­cle refers to Bank Al Taqwa: “Broth­er­hood rad­i­cals in Ger­many and Spain are sus­pect­ed of orga­niz­ing logis­ti­cal sup­port for the al Qae­da cell that car­ried out the attacks. West­ern gov­ern­ments sub­se­quent­ly shut down a huge bank­ing net­work in Switzer­land, Liecht­en­stein and the Bahamas that was set up by a lead­ing Broth­er­hood fig­ure, cit­ing its numer­ous finan­cial ties to al Qae­da and oth­er ter­ror­ists. The founder, Youssef Nada, denies wrong­do­ing.” (Idem.)

32. The sto­ry also touch­es on the March 20, 2002 Oper­a­tion Green Quest raids. Note that there are sig­nif­i­cant evi­den­tiary trib­u­taries run­ning between the Broth­er­hood, Bank Al Taqwa, the GOP and the tar­gets of the Oper­a­tion Green Quest raids. “In March 2002, fed­er­al agents in North­ern Vir­ginia raid­ed a clus­ter of Mus­lim think tanks, com­pa­nies and foun­da­tions run most­ly by men who sym­pa­thized with the Broth­er­hood in Iraq and else­where in the 1960’s. No charges have result­ed, but U.S. offi­cials stat­ed in court ear­li­er this year that they are pur­su­ing ter­ror­ist financ­ing alle­ga­tions. Mem­bers of the group, known for their rel­a­tive polit­i­cal mod­er­a­tion, say they end­ed Broth­er­hood ties years ago and deny wrong­do­ing. In a 42-count indict­ment in July, the gov­ern­ment alleged that an Islam­ic char­i­ty, the Texas-based Holy Land Foun­da­tion for Relief and Devel­op­ment, fun­neled $12.4 mil­lion to a des­ig­nat­ed ter­ror­ist group, Hamas. The indict­ment said the Holy Land Foun­da­tion was ‘deeply involved with a net­work of Mus­lim Broth­er­hood orga­ni­za­tions ded­i­cat­ed to fur­ther­ing the Islam­ic fun­da­men­tal­ist agen­da espoused by Hamas.’ The Holy Land Foun­da­tion denies wrong­do­ing. . . .” (Idem.)


10 comments for “FTR #502 Curve Ball”

  1. Heh, it turns out that Mitt Rom­ney’s con­ven­tion speech was the first GOP speech since 1952 not to include any men­tion of war. While that might seem like a good sign that we’ve entered an era of peace and pros­per­i­ty, it’s not.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 31, 2012, 1:50 pm
  2. AAAAND here we go. They could­n’t even wait until Octo­ber 2. Ladies and Gents, your Octo­ber Sur­prise:

    Mon­day, Oct 1, 2012 08:30 AM CDT
    GOP’s Octo­ber sur­prise?
    Source reveals “Jim­my Carter Strat­e­gy” to make Oba­ma seem weak on defense in cam­paign’s final month

    By Craig Unger

    Accord­ing to a high­ly reli­able source, as Mitt Rom­ney and Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma pre­pare for the first pres­i­den­tial debate Wednes­day night, top Repub­li­can oper­a­tives are primed to unleash a new two-pronged offen­sive that will attack Oba­ma as weak on nation­al secu­ri­ty, and will be based, in part, on new intel­li­gence infor­ma­tion regard­ing the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. Ambas­sador Chris Stevens on Sept. 11.

    The source, who has first­hand knowl­edge of pri­vate, high-lev­el con­ver­sa­tions in the Rom­ney camp that took place in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., last week, said that at var­i­ous times the GOP strate­gists referred to their new oper­a­tion as the Jim­my Carter Strat­e­gy or the Octo­ber Sur­prise.

    He added that they planned to release what they hoped would be “a bomb­shell” that would make Libya and Obama’s for­eign pol­i­cy a major issue in the cam­paign. “My under­stand­ing is that they have come up with evi­dence that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion had pos­i­tive intel­li­gence that there was going to be a ter­ror­ist attack on the intel­li­gence.”

    The source described the Repub­li­cans as chortling with glee that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion “def­i­nite­ly had intel” about the attack before it hap­pened. “Intel­li­gence can be grad­ed in dif­fer­ent ways,” he added, “and some­times A and B don’t get con­nect­ed. But [the Rom­ney cam­paign] will try to paint it to look like Oba­ma had advance knowl­edge of the attack and is weak on ter­ror­ism.”

    He said they were jubi­lant about their new strat­e­gy and said they intend­ed to por­tray Oba­ma as a help­less, Jim­my Carter-like pres­i­dent and to equate the tragedy in Libya with Pres­i­dent Carter’s failed attempt to res­cue Amer­i­can hostages in Iran in 1980. “They are so excit­ed about it,” he said. “Over and over again they talked about how it would be just like Jim­my Carter’s failed raid. They feel it is going to give them a last-minute land­slide in the elec­tion.”

    The source, how­ev­er, said he was dubi­ous about the tac­tic. “To me, it is indica­tive that they have lost touch with a huge por­tion of the elec­torate,” he said.


    UPDATE (11:45 am EST): A Sun­day, Sep­tem­ber 30 Wall Street Jour­nal arti­cle by Rom­ney him­self sug­gests that the Karl Rove fac­tion of Romney’s camp, led by neo­con­ser­v­a­tive for­eign pol­i­cy advis­er Dan Senor may have won out. “These devel­op­ments are not, as Pres­i­dent Oba­ma says, mere ‘bumps in the road.’ “ Rom­ney wrote. “They are major issues that put our secu­ri­ty at risk. Yet amid this upheaval, our coun­try seems to be at the mer­cy of events rather than shap­ing them.”

    Com­ing just days before the pres­i­den­tial debates, which most observers thought would be focused on the state of the econ­o­my, Romney’s arti­cle strong­ly sug­gests he may well turn the sub­ject to Libya.

    THIS is our Octo­ber Surpise?! They’ve “come up with evi­dence”? Per­haps this is just the Ear­ly Octo­ber Sur­prise and there’s some­thing more lat­er because this seems atyp­i­cal­ly inept for some­thing with Rove’s back­ing. The implic­it stance on all of this is that Rom­ney would have had a “stronger” response or some­thing. And what would that be? Anoth­er war? Because that’s exact­ly what Amer­i­cans want. I real­ize that Rove loves the whole “attack them on their great­est strength” tac­tic and wants to neu­tral­ize the boost Oba­ma gets from the death of bin Laden and it’s true that Karl does­n’t have much to work with when Mit­tens is the can­di­date but still...this whole scheme just sounds unusu­al­ly lame. Is there more to this or is Karl los­ing his touch?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 1, 2012, 2:54 pm
  3. Posted by Terry | October 2, 2012, 5:18 am
  4. Now that we’ve learned that Beng­hazi is worse than Water­gate, big­ger than 9/11, pos­si­bly God’s Wrath, and over­all the biggest scan­dal in Amer­i­can his­to­ry Darth Vad­er felt the need to chime in too:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Cheney Slams Oba­ma Over Beng­hazi: We Were ‘Ready To Go On 9/11’ (VIDEO)
    Tom Kludt 11:24 AM EDT, Tues­day May 14, 2013

    Con­tin­u­ing his intense crit­i­cism of Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney on Mon­day said that the secu­ri­ty fail­ures in Beng­hazi, Libya were a stark con­trast to Amer­i­ca’s readi­ness on Sept. 11, 2001.

    “In my past expe­ri­ence when we got into these sit­u­a­tions — espe­cial­ly after 9/11 — we were always there, locked and loaded, ready to go on 9/11,” Cheney told Fox News Chan­nel com­men­ta­tor Sean Han­ni­ty in a phone inter­view. “We have spe­cial­ly-trained units that prac­tice this sort of thing all the time. They are very good at it and they are chomp­ing at the bit to go.”

    Cheney won­dered why Amer­i­can forces weren’t “deployed and ready to go to take action in any of those areas in the Mid­dle East or North Africa.”

    “It makes no sense,” Cheney said.

    For­mer Defense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates, who served under Cheney, mocked the notion that the U.S. could have imple­ment­ed a swift response to the attack in Beng­hazi, say­ing Sun­day that the sug­ges­tion reveals a “car­toon­ish impres­sion of mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties and mil­i­tary forces.”

    In Cheney’s defense, he was­n’t kid­ding about the Bush admin­is­tra­tion being “ready to go on 9/11”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 14, 2013, 1:13 pm
  5. @Pterrafractyl–

    As you undoubt­ed­ly recall, I pre­dict­ed this grim cir­cus as the Arab Spring was unfold­ing.

    Peo­ple still haven’t fig­ured out that that was an “op” by the GOP/Underground Reich ele­ment of the U.S. intel­li­gence sys­tem.


    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | May 14, 2013, 2:33 pm
  6. Regard­ing the pos­si­ble NATO strike on the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment for alleged use of chem­i­cal weapons, it’s worth recall­ing that the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment madea very sim­i­lar claim about the use of sarin gas by the rebel forces near Dam­as­cus back in March. It’s also worth recall­ing how lit­tle cred­i­bil­i­ty the US has on the world stage right now on these types of mat­ters with the Snow­den Affair still drip­ping away and the mem­o­ry of the Iraq War WMD-lies still etched in our col­lec­tive psy­ches. So if there does­n’t end up being some pret­ty com­pelling evi­dence that this was, indeed, an attack by the Assad regime it’s hard to see how this does­n’t end up becom­ing per­ceived as a staged NATO inter­ven­tion by a large swathe of the glob­al audi­ence. The fog of war and moral clar­i­ty are sort of incom­pat­i­ble.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 26, 2013, 7:25 pm
  7. @Pterrafractyl–

    Indeed! If Oba­ma does­n’t react, then he looks weak, not enforc­ing the “line” that should­n’t get crossed.

    If he does order mil­i­tary action, then the whole Mid­dle East quick­sand in which we are sink­ing becomes that much more lethal.

    There was a good piece in the New York Times a cou­ple of days ago about the Syr­i­an rebels, who kid­napped a pho­tog­ra­ph­er.

    Tal­iban, Al Qae­da knock-offs.

    And very, very sophis­ti­cat­ed. I would­n’t believe a word any of those groups said, nor would I put it past them to stage some sort of provo­ca­tion.

    I not­ed in my series about the so-called Arab Spring that Lee Har­vey Oba­ma would end up get­ting destroyed through this.

    Good piece in today’s New York Times about the Egypt­ian peo­ple accus­ing the U.S. of a pro-Broth­er­hood con­spir­a­cy.

    Imag­ine that! The U.S. sup­port­ing the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood!

    Note that, in FTR #749, John Lof­tus con­curred that the Arab Spring “was us”–a U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tion.

    I said as much.

    As with Syr­ia, Oba­ma would be damned if he did and damned if he did­n’t in Egypt.

    Sort of an Under­ground Reich coin flip–heads they win and tails you lose.

    Cer­tain­ly, there was a mil­i­tary coup in Egypt, although he can’t admit it or court the cer­tain­ty of a manda­to­ry cut-off of U.S. mil­i­tary aid.

    As is, he is being blamed by the Broth­er­hood for not back­ing “democ­ra­cy” and by the oppo­si­tion for not back­ing them.

    No way would I want to be Pres­i­dent!

    As this dooms­day sce­nario unfolds, no one should lose sight of the fact that the Pres­i­dent does not con­trol for­eign or nation­al secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy.

    The 50th anniver­sary of JFK’s objec­tive les­son in such affairs informs us of the dynam­ic.



    Posted by Dave Emory | August 26, 2013, 9:28 pm
  8. Adding to the mys­tery of the Syr­i­an gas attack, just days before the attack, UN weapons inspec­tors were arriv­ing in Khan al-Asar, near Alle­po, to inves­ti­gate the two alleged attacks that took place on March 19th, when the gov­ern­ment and rebels both claimed attacks by the oth­er side using sarin. It’s nev­er a good time to use chem­i­cal weapons, but the tim­ing of this lat­est attack seems incred­i­bly bad:

    U.N. Chem­i­cal-Weapons Experts Arrive in Syr­ia: Are They on a Fool’s Errand?
    By Aryn Bak­er / Beirut @arynebaker Aug. 19, 2013

    After a six-month delay, U.N. chem­i­cal-weapons experts have final­ly arrived in Syr­ia to find out what exact­ly hap­pened in Khan al-Asal, near the city of Alep­po, on March 19, when 31 peo­ple died in what appears to have been a chem­i­cal-weapon attack. The inves­tiga­tive team will stay for at least a week, vis­it­ing Khan al-Asal as well as two oth­er sites, which are thought to have been hit by sim­i­lar attacks, though for secu­ri­ty rea­sons their loca­tions have not been revealed.

    In Khan al-Asal, the gov­ern­ment claimed that “ter­ror­ists” — its blan­ket term for anti­regime rebels — had fired a “mis­sile con­tain­ing a chem­i­cal sub­stance” at the vil­lage in retal­i­a­tion for res­i­dents’ sup­port of the gov­ern­ment, and asked for a U.N. inves­ti­ga­tion. The rebels accused the gov­ern­ment of attack­ing its own peo­ple in order to smear the oppo­si­tion and echoed the call for an impar­tial inves­ti­ga­tion. The inves­ti­ga­tion team, includ­ing weapons experts from the Organ­i­sa­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons, has been on stand­by since April, wait­ing on nego­ti­a­tions about the kind of access Dam­as­cus is will­ing to per­mit. Inves­ti­ga­tors may final­ly be in Syr­ia, but they are unlike­ly to reach the kind of clo­sure that the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, the gov­ern­ment, the rebels or even the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty seek.

    To begin with, the team’s objec­tive is only to deter­mine whether or not chem­i­cal weapons were used, not how and not by whom. Even under the best cir­cum­stances — unfet­tered access, imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the attack — the find­ings were like­ly to be dis­ap­point­ing. Who wouldn’t want to be able to point a fin­ger when it comes to the deploy­ment of a weapon that is uni­ver­sal­ly abhorred? Six months on, the cir­cum­stances are sig­nif­i­cant­ly less than ide­al — phys­i­cal traces of the agents are like­ly to have dis­ap­peared by now, forc­ing inves­ti­ga­tors to depend on avail­able med­ical records and inter­views with sur­vivors, both of which are vul­ner­a­ble to manip­u­la­tion.


    Ear­ly accounts of the attack sug­gest­ed chlo­rine gas, but sub­se­quent reports from West­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies, based on inter­views with vic­tims that were smug­gled out by rebels, indi­cat­ed nerve agents like sarin, the gas used by mem­bers of Japan­ese cult Aum Shin­rikyo to attack com­muters in Tokyo in 1995. But after six months and a hot sum­mer, nei­ther sub­stance will remain, Zan­ders says. Chlo­rine would have dis­si­pat­ed imme­di­ate­ly. Sarin, which evap­o­rates at the same rate of water, can leave a dis­tinct chem­i­cal sig­na­ture as it breaks down, a reli­able indi­ca­tion of its one­time pres­ence in the area. That said, it would be impos­si­ble to ascer­tain whether evi­dence of such trace ele­ments points to a weaponized form of sarin or sim­ply an explo­sion at a tox­ic chem­i­cal depot. Foren­sic experts inves­ti­gat­ing the Tokyo attack were able to find traces of sarin gas at an Aus­tralian farm owned by the Japan­ese cult 18 months lat­er, but they couldn’t con­firm whether it came from a lab exper­i­ment or large-scale pro­duc­tion.

    What­ev­er the results of this lim­it­ed inves­ti­ga­tion, things are unlike­ly to sub­stan­tial­ly change in Syr­ia as a result. A year ago U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma warned that the use of chem­i­cal weapons by the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment would be a “red­line” for U.S. inter­ven­tion. But like the mean­ing of coup in regards to the Egypt­ian military’s role in the country’s cur­rent cri­sis, the deploy­ment of such an accu­sa­tion will be cal­i­brat­ed to suit polit­i­cal imper­a­tives.

    Even if it were some­how proved that the regime had used chem­i­cal weapons in a lim­it­ed man­ner six months ago, as some intel­li­gence agen­cies attest, would Oba­ma real­ly be will­ing to up the ante in a war that has already proved to be a red­line for the Amer­i­can pub­lic? “As long as they keep body count at a cer­tain lev­el, we won’t do any­thing,” an Amer­i­can intel­li­gence admit­ted to For­eign Pol­i­cy in a recent inter­view. And what if the inves­ti­ga­tion were to point to the pos­si­bil­i­ty that rebel fight­ers deployed chem­i­cal weapons? For­mer CIA sec­ond-in-com­mand Michael Morell has already expressed fears of Syria’s vast arse­nal of chem­i­cal weapons falling into rebels’ hands as one rea­son to go slow­ly in the pur­suit of regime change. The Syr­i­an government’s weapons, he said in an inter­view with the Wall Street Jour­nal, “are going to be up for grabs and up for sale” like they were in Libya, with poten­tial­ly dis­as­trous results. The U.N. inves­ti­ga­tion into chem­i­cal-weapons use in Syr­ia sets an impor­tant prece­dent, but it’s unlike­ly to answer the big ques­tions. If any­thing, it will only pose more dif­fi­cult ones.

    Here’s an ear­li­er report on those March 19th attacks:

    Syria’s Civ­il War: The Mys­tery Behind a Dead­ly Chem­i­cal Attack
    By Aryn Bak­er @arynebakerApril 01, 2013

    Reports on bomb­ings in Syr­ia these days have become rou­tine. But when Moham­mad Sab­bagh, an indus­tri­al­ist from Alep­po, heard about the attack near his home­town on March 19, the details stopped him cold. Sur­vivors and wit­ness­es of what was being described by the gov­ern­ment news agency as a chem­i­cal attack said they smelled some­thing like chlo­rine. And as the own­er of Syria’s only chlo­rine-gas man­u­fac­tur­ing plant, Sab­bagh knew that if chlo­rine was involved, it most like­ly came from his fac­to­ry.

    The attack killed 31 peo­ple, includ­ing 10 sol­diers, and wound­ed scores more. In the imme­di­ate after­math, the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment and the oppo­si­tion trad­ed accu­sa­tions. The gov­ern­ment claimed that “ter­ror­ists,” its term for the rebels that have been fight­ing the regime for two years, had fired a “mis­sile con­tain­ing a chem­i­cal sub­stance” at the vil­lage of Khan al-Asal in retal­i­a­tion for their sup­port of the gov­ern­ment. Kasem Saad Eddine, spokesper­son for the oppo­si­tion mil­i­tary coun­cil of Alep­po, accused the gov­ern­ment of attack­ing its own peo­ple in order to smear the oppo­si­tion. “The regime is try­ing to hide its crime by accus­ing the FSA,” he tells TIME, refer­ring to the Free Syr­i­an Army, the loose con­fed­er­a­tion of rebel groups fight­ing the gov­ern­ment. Eddine also accused the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment of launch­ing a sec­ond chem­i­cal attack near Dam­as­cus, caus­ing an unspec­i­fied num­ber of casu­al­ties. What­ev­er the case, the attack at Khan al-Asal marks a chill­ing evo­lu­tion in a war that has already tak­en 70,000 lives and dis­rupt­ed, per­haps per­ma­nent­ly, mil­lions more. If it turns out that the gov­ern­ment has used chem­i­cal weapons, inter­na­tion­al demands for armed inter­ven­tion will increase. If the rebels used them, the esca­la­tion in tac­tics indi­cates that the war is about to become even blood­i­er.

    The U.N. has acqui­esced to a Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment request to send an inves­ti­ga­tion team to Khan al-Asal; it is expect­ed to arrive on site this week. The team will be head­ed by Ake Sell­strom, a vet­er­an chem­i­cal-weapons inspec­tor from Swe­den who was instru­men­tal in inves­ti­gat­ing and dis­man­tling Iraq’s chem­i­cal- and bio­log­i­cal-weapons pro­grams in the 1990s. It is not yet clear if the U.N. team will inves­ti­gate oth­er accu­sa­tions of chem­i­cal-weapons use in Syr­ia, nor is it clear how much access it will have. The final details for the trip will be worked out in the com­ing days. The team’s man­date is lim­it­ed to a tech­ni­cal inves­ti­ga­tion, which means it will only be able to ascer­tain whether or not chem­i­cal weapons were used, not who used them — a frus­trat­ing out­come for those seek­ing clar­i­ty. Nev­er­the­less, the find­ings could be a strong indi­ca­tion of who might have been behind the attacks. The Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment is believed to pos­sess one of the biggest stock­piles of chem­i­cal weapons in the world, includ­ing nerve agents Sarin and VX, as well as mus­tard gas, though it has repeat­ed­ly said it would nev­er use such weapons against its own peo­ple. The oppo­si­tion, though it also says it would nev­er use chem­i­cal weapons, does have access to at least one item that could be used in a chem­i­cal attack: Sabbagh’s chlo­rine gas.

    In August rebel forces took Sabbagh’s fac­to­ry by force, as part of a sweep that also net­ted them an elec­tric­i­ty sta­tion and a mil­i­tary air­port about 30 km from Alep­po. Sab­bagh, who has since fled Alep­po for Beirut, says his fac­to­ry is now occu­pied by Jab­hat al-Nus­ra, a mil­i­tant group with strong ties to al-Qae­da that has been des­ig­nat­ed a ter­ror­ist group by the U.S. He knows this because his site man­ag­er has struck a deal with the rebels — they sup­ply 200 L of fuel a day to keep the gen­er­a­tor run­ning so that the valves of his $25 mil­lion fac­to­ry don’t freeze up. The fac­to­ry isn’t oper­a­tional any­more, but this way at least, says Sab­bagh, it might be one day in the future. In the mean­time, he has no idea what has hap­pened, if any­thing, to the 400 or so steel bar­rels of chlo­rine gas he had stored in the com­pound. The yel­low tanks, which hold one ton of gas each, are used for puri­fy­ing munic­i­pal water sup­plies. “No one can know for cer­tain, but if it turns out chlo­rine gas was used in the attack, then the first pos­si­bil­i­ty is that it was mine. There is no oth­er fac­to­ry in Syr­ia that can make this gas, and now it is under oppo­si­tion con­trol,” he says.

    To Faris al-She­habi, head of the Alep­po Cham­ber of Indus­try and a strong gov­ern­ment sup­port­er, it was obvi­ous from Day One that the rebels had their eyes on the gas. “Why else would they cap­ture a fac­to­ry in the mid­dle of nowhere? For the sniper posi­tions?” he asks sar­cas­ti­cal­ly while meet­ing TIME in Beirut, where he is trav­el­ing for busi­ness. “We warned back then that chem­i­cal com­po­nents were in the hands of ter­ror­ists, but no one lis­tened.”

    The inves­ti­ga­tion, when it starts, will be hob­bled by the pas­sage of time. Accord­ing to a chem­i­cal-weapons expert famil­iar with such inquiries, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty over the tele­phone, the inves­ti­gat­ing team will exam­ine soil, air and oil sam­ples tak­en from the blast site. It is unclear whether the team will have access to sur­vivors (who prob­a­bly bear lit­tle traces of the chem­i­cals so long after the attack) or to autop­sy reports. But ini­tial assess­ments based upon body counts, pho­tos and video footage tak­en at the hos­pi­tal after the attack seem to rule out nerve agents or mus­tard gas. “Look­ing at the death rate rel­a­tive to the num­ber of peo­ple exposed, it couldn’t have been a weaponized nerve agent,” says the expert. “And mus­tard gas rubs off on who­ev­er touch­es it, but you don’t see the med­ical per­son­nel tak­ing addi­tion­al pro­tec­tive mea­sure when they treat the patients. So it’s pret­ty like­ly it was some­thing else.”

    A doc­tor who treat­ed vic­tims imme­di­ate­ly after the attack, and who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, said few of the patients had vis­i­ble wounds. Most suf­fered from severe cramps, vom­it­ing, headaches and trou­bled breath­ing. Those who died did so right after breath­ing the gas, he says. “Our staff are not used to deal­ing with such cas­es, it was the first time we treat­ed some­thing like it.” Sev­er­al hours after the attack, two doc­tors returned to the blast site to warn peo­ple away. The smell, described as “rot­ting garbage,” was still there.

    As unlike­ly a delib­er­ate use by the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment of a nerve gas might be, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the near cer­tain­ty of an inter­na­tion­al reac­tion, few believe that the oppo­si­tion has the where­with­al to make even crude chem­i­cal weapons. “It’s a ques­tion of capa­bil­i­ties,” says Greg Thiel­mann, a chem­i­cal-weapons expert at the Wash­ing­ton-based Arms Con­trol Asso­ci­a­tion. “Even if they had chem­i­cals, where would they get access to a deliv­ery sys­tem?” More like­ly, he says, the mass poi­son­ings were a “side effect of a high explo­sive device that released a chem­i­cal in the vicin­i­ty.”


    And here’s a time­line that makes it pret­ty clear how unclear this sit­u­a­tion is:

    Chem­i­cal weapons, devel­op­ments in Syr­ia
    August 22, 2013 11:47

    Below are events that have led to charges by the Syr­i­an oppo­si­tion that gov­ern­ment troops unleashed chem­i­cal weapons on civil­ians near Dam­as­cus this week.


    - July 23: The Syr­i­an regime acknowl­edges for the first time that it has a chem­i­cal weapons stock­pile and threat­ens to use it in case of a West­ern mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion, but nev­er against its own peo­ple.

    - August 20: US Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma says the Unit­ed States would regard any recourse by Dam­as­cus to its dead­ly arse­nal as cross­ing a “red line”.

    - Decem­ber 3: NATO warns Syr­ia against using chem­i­cal weapons, as a US offi­cial says that Syr­ia has begun mix­ing chem­i­cals that could be used to make sarin gas, a dead­ly nerve agent.

    - Decem­ber 24: Russ­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov says it would be “polit­i­cal sui­cide” for Syr­i­an Pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad to use chem­i­cal weapons against the armed oppo­si­tion, and says he does not believe he would.


    - Jan­u­ary 30: The Israeli air force ham­mers a mil­i­tary com­plex near Dam­as­cus sus­pect­ed of hold­ing chem­i­cal agents, say­ing it fears their trans­fer to Lebanese Shi­ite mil­i­tant group Hezbol­lah, accord­ing to a US offi­cial.

    - March 19: The gov­ern­ment and rebel forces accuse each oth­er of using chem­i­cal weapons for the first time.

    - March 20: Oba­ma warns the Dam­as­cus regime any use of chem­i­cal weapons against civil­ians would be a “game-chang­er”.

    - April 8: UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon says a UN inspec­tion team is in near­by Cyprus and ready to deploy. Syr­ia rejects the mis­sion as pro­posed by Ban.

    - April 25: The White House says that Syr­ia has prob­a­bly used chem­i­cal weapons against rebel forces on a “small scale,” while empha­sis­ing that US spy agen­cies are still not 100 per­cent sure.

    - May 10: US Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry says there is “strong evi­dence” that the regime has used chem­i­cal weapons against rebels.

    - May 18: Assad denies that his forces have used chem­i­cal weapons.

    - June 4: UN inves­ti­ga­tors say they have “rea­son­able grounds” to believe that both sides in Syr­ia have employed chem­i­cal weapons, on four occa­sions. France says it “is clear” that Assad’s regime is using sarin gas.

    - June 13: The White House says a “red line” has been crossed and accus­es the Syr­i­an regime of using chem­i­cal weapons.

    - June 14: The Krem­lin says the US accu­sa­tions are “uncon­vinc­ing”. Dam­as­cus calls them “lies”. Britain says it agrees with the US assess­ment. NATO says Dam­as­cus must let the UN inves­ti­gate.

    - July 9: Rus­si­a’s ambas­sador to the UN says Moscow has proof that rebels used sarin gas in the north­ern town of Khan al-Assal on March 19. The White House says it has seen no such proof.

    - July 23–24: Two senior UN chem­i­cals weapons experts hold talks in Dam­as­cus.

    -August 14: UN announces the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment has for­mal­ly accept­ed “the modal­i­ties essen­tial for coop­er­a­tion to ensure the prop­er, safe and effi­cient con­duct” of an inspec­tion mis­sion.

    It says the inspec­tors led by Swedish arms expert Aake Sell­stroem will inves­ti­gate three sites of alleged chem­i­cal attacks for a peri­od of at least two weeks.

    - August 18: UN inspec­tors arrive in Dam­as­cus.

    - August 21: The Syr­i­an oppo­si­tion accus­es the regime of killing more than 1,300 peo­ple with chem­i­cal weapons near Dam­as­cus, and posts grim video images to the Inter­net. The gov­ern­ment denies using chem­i­cal weapons.

    - August 22: The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty and human rights organ­i­sa­tions call on UN experts in Syr­ia to probe the charges of a chem­i­cal weapons attack on civil­ians.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 27, 2013, 11:10 am
  9. @Dave: Ted Cruz just gave a great exam­ple of the dou­ble bind the Oba­ma Admin­stra­tion is going to find itself in when nego­ti­at­ing with Con­gress:
    Accord­ing to Cruz, “...the only jus­ti­fi­able rea­son for U.S. mil­i­tary forces to be engaged is to pro­tect our nation­al secu­ri­ty and sad­ly, that has been the miss­ing vari­able from this administration’s approach from the begin­ning as they allowed Assad to slaugh­ter over 100,000 of his peo­ple”:

    Ted Cruz: Don’t Inter­vene In Syr­ia
    Igor Bobic 3:32 PM EDT, Tues­day August 27, 2013

    Count Sen. Ted Cruz (R‑TX) as a dove on Syr­ia.

    The Lone Star State con­ser­v­a­tive said Mon­day that Amer­i­ca should­n’t inter­vene in Syr­ia in the wake of a dead­ly chem­i­cal weapons attack in the coun­try last week.

    “The Unit­ed States Armed Forces doesn’t exist to be a police­man for the world and I cer­tain­ly hope the reac­tion isn’t lob­bing some cruise mis­siles in to dis­agree with Assad’s mur­der­ous actions,” Cruz said on Fox News.

    “The focus should be the only jus­ti­fi­able rea­son for U.S. mil­i­tary forces to be engaged is to pro­tect our nation­al secu­ri­ty and sad­ly, that has been the miss­ing vari­able from this administration’s approach from the begin­ning as they allowed Assad to slaugh­ter over 100,000 of his peo­ple,” he added.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 27, 2013, 12:37 pm
  10. It’s worth not­ing that when George W. Bush said he was­n’t con­cerned about how his­to­ry will judge him, he was speak­ing for him­self. Oth­ers are filled with plen­ty of con­cern

    TPM Livewire
    Fed­er­al Appeals Judge Com­pares Peo­ple Who Say Bush Lied To Rise Of Nazis

    By Bren­dan James
    Pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 9, 2015, 10:40 AM EST

    A fed­er­al appeals judge wrote in a col­umn pub­lished on Sun­day that peo­ple who accuse for­mer Pres­i­dent George W. Bush of lying about the Iraq War are ped­dling myths like those that led to the rise of Hitler.

    Lau­rence H. Sil­ber­man, a fed­er­al appel­late judge appoint­ed by Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan, wrote in the Wall Street Jour­nal that the idea the Bush admin­is­tra­tion “lied us into Iraq” has gone from “anti­war slo­gan to jour­nal­is­tic fact.”

    “[I]t is one thing to assert, then or now, that the Iraq war was ill-advised,” he wrote. “It is quite anoth­er to make the hor­ren­dous charge that Pres­i­dent Bush lied to or deceived the Amer­i­can peo­ple about the threat from Sad­dam.”


    “I am remind­ed of a sim­i­lar­ly base­less accu­sa­tion that helped the Nazis come to pow­er in Ger­many: that the Ger­man army had not real­ly lost World War I, that the sol­diers instead had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by politi­cians,” he wrote.

    While it’s hard to know what words to use to describe Judge Lau­rence Silberman’s argu­ment, the word ‘big’ might come to mind. Still, it’s pret­ty clear that Sil­ber­man has some fond feel­ings about the Bush II admin­is­tra­tion so it will be inter­est­ing to see if he shares any more of them while Jeb Bush pre­pares for his 2016 run. Sil­ber­man no doubt has a lot more fond feel­ings to share about the Bush­es:

    The par­ti­san “mas­ter­mind” in charge of Bush’s intel probe
    When­ev­er there’s a vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy, Judge Lau­rence Sil­ber­man keeps turn­ing up.
    Michelle Gold­berg
    Tues­day, Feb 10, 2004 8:06 PM UTC

    Judge Lau­rence Sil­ber­man, George Bush’s nom­i­nee to co-chair the com­mis­sion inves­ti­gat­ing U.S. intel­li­gence on Iraq, knows quite a bit about the murky inter­sec­tion between facts and ide­ol­o­gy. The senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Wash­ing­ton has been near the febrile cen­ter of the largest polit­i­cal scan­dals of the past two decades, from the rumored “Octo­ber sur­prise” of 1980 and the Iran-con­tra tri­als to the char­ac­ter assas­si­na­tion of Ani­ta Hill and the impeach­ment of Pres­i­dent Clin­ton. When­ev­er right-wing con­spir­a­cies swing into action, Sil­ber­man is there.

    A vet­er­an of the Richard Nixon and Ronald Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tions who is close to Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney, Sil­ber­man has a rep­u­ta­tion as a fierce ide­o­logue who doesn’t let his judi­cial respon­si­bil­i­ties get in the way of his Repub­li­can activism. David Brock, the repen­tant for­mer right-wing jour­nal­ist and Sil­ber­man pro­tégé, describes his for­mer men­tor as “an extreme par­ti­san” who seems to rel­ish “the polit­i­cal wars.” Kevin Phillips, the for­mer Nixon staffer who authored the recent “The Bush Dynasty,” said on NPR on Mon­day, “In the past, Sil­ber­man has been more involved with coverups in the Mid­dle East than with any attempts to unrav­el them.” Ralph Neas, pres­i­dent of the lib­er­al advo­ca­cy group Peo­ple for the Amer­i­can Way, calls him “the most par­ti­san and most polit­i­cal fed­er­al judge in the coun­try” and says his appoint­ment is “stun­ning and dis­grace­ful.”

    Silberman’s pan­el, which is sup­posed to inves­ti­gate U.S. intel­li­gence on Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Afghanistan, won’t report its find­ings until March 2005, long after the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Sil­ber­man will be bal­anced on it by oth­er more mod­er­ate or more inde­pen­dent fig­ures, includ­ing co-chair Charles Robb, a for­mer Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor and Vir­ginia gov­er­nor; Repub­li­can Sen. John McCain; and Judge Patri­cia Wald, Silberman’s col­league on D.C. Cir­cuit Court, a woman he is said to hate.

    Yet Silberman’s place at the head of the com­mis­sion has already raised doubts about its cred­i­bil­i­ty, giv­en that Sil­ber­man has often behaved as if his para­mount role as a fed­er­al judge is to pro­tect Repub­li­cans, per­se­cute Democ­rats and slan­der any­one who dis­agrees.

    “My guess is that he’s on there for pro­tec­tion,” says Neas. “To pro­tect the pres­i­dent at all costs and to do what he’s done in the past with respect to pro­tect­ing Repub­li­can pres­i­dents from scruti­ny. I think he envi­sions him­self as a mas­ter­mind behind many right-wing ini­tia­tives, whether it’s help­ing guide Clarence Thomas through the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings or help­ing guide David Brock through all the anti-Clin­ton ini­tia­tives.”

    Besides his com­mit­ment to Repub­li­can pow­er, Sil­ber­man is known for his tem­per. Sev­er­al years ago, he told col­league Abn­er Mik­va, “If you were 10 years younger, I’d be tempt­ed to punch you in the nose.”

    “He’s very volatile,” says Brock, whose 2002 book, “Blind­ed by the Right,” was a mea cul­pa for his career as a con­ser­v­a­tive oper­a­tive. “He has cer­tain­ly made deri­sive com­ments about many jour­nal­ists and about his col­leagues on the bench. Those com­ments were intem­per­ate.”

    Of course, giv­en his own admit­ted trans­gres­sions, Brock him­self might not be con­sid­ered a reli­able source. Still, as a report on Sil­ber­man from the Alliance for Jus­tice, a lib­er­al group work­ing “to pro­mote a fair and inde­pen­dent judi­cia­ry,” points out, Sil­ber­man has nev­er sought to dis­prove or deny any of Brock’s charges that he worked behind the scenes to bring down Repub­li­can foes like Hill and Clin­ton. Sim­i­lar­ly, the report says, “None of Silberman’s friends and allies — those in a posi­tion to refute Brock’s charges and with an inter­est in doing so — have yet chal­lenged a sin­gle claim he made.”

    Silberman’s sojourn in the world of polit­i­cal scan­dal began dur­ing the run-up to the 1980 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion when, as a mem­ber of Ronald Reagan’s cam­paign staff, he, along with Robert C. McFar­lane, a for­mer staff mem­ber of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, and Richard V. Allen, Reagan’s chief for­eign pol­i­cy rep­re­sen­ta­tive, met with a man claim­ing to be an Iran­ian gov­ern­ment emis­sary. The Iran­ian offered to delay the release of the 52 Amer­i­can hostages being held in Tehran until after the elec­tion — thus con­tribut­ing to Carter’s defeat — in exchange for arms.

    A con­tro­ver­sy con­tin­ues to rage over whether the Rea­gan team made a bar­gain with the Ira­ni­ans, as alleged by Gary Sick, a for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil aide in the Ford, Carter and Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tions who now teach­es at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty. Yet no one denies that the meet­ing Sil­ber­man was at took place, and although Sil­ber­man has said the Iranian’s offer was imme­di­ate­ly reject­ed, none of the three Rea­gan oper­a­tives ever told the Carter admin­is­tra­tion what had hap­pened. McFar­lane, Allen and Sil­ber­man have all since insist­ed that they don’t know the name of the Iran­ian man they met with.

    After work­ing for Reagan’s elec­tion, Sil­ber­man was reward­ed with an appoint­ment to the D.C. Court of Appeals, the sec­ond most pow­er­ful court in the coun­try. After the Iran-con­tra scan­dal, he was part of a three-judge pan­el that vot­ed 2‑to‑1 to reverse Oliv­er North’s felony con­vic­tion. Vot­ing with him was David Sen­telle, a pro­tégé of Jesse Helms who accord­ing to Brock named his daugh­ter “Rea­gan” after the pres­i­dent who put him on the bench.

    In his book “Fire­wall: The Iran-Con­tra Con­spir­a­cy and Cov­er-Up,” Iran-con­tra spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Lawrence Walsh, a Repub­li­can who served as deputy attor­ney gen­er­al dur­ing the Dwight Eisen­how­er admin­is­tra­tion, described Sil­ber­man as “aggres­sive­ly hos­tile” dur­ing oral argu­ments. Walsh wrote that he regret­ted not mov­ing to dis­qual­i­fy him.

    The year after he ruled North inno­cent, Sil­ber­man joined in the right-wing cam­paign to defame Ani­ta Hill, who had accused Clarence Thomas, George H.W. Bush’s nom­i­nee to the Supreme Court, of sex­u­al harass­ment. It was dur­ing the attack on Hill that the Sil­ber­mans took Brock under their wing.


    For Silberman’s crit­ics, nam­ing him to get to the bot­tom of one of the most divi­sive polit­i­cal con­tro­ver­sies of our time is even more egre­gious than Bush’s attempt to put Hen­ry Kissinger in charge of the 9/11 inves­ti­ga­tion.

    “Even the word ‘chutz­pah’ does not describe this appoint­ment of Sil­ber­man,” Phillips said. “This is not brava­do, but arro­gance.”

    “Even the word ‘chutz­pah’ does not describe this appoint­ment of Sil­ber­man,” Phillips said. “This is not brava­do, but arro­gance.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 9, 2015, 6:10 pm

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