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Terrorism Breeds Terrorism
“We have to find a way to stop the cycle of violence and terrorism”
The “t” word, that very loaded term much used and much abused, and how foreign occupation, imperialism and state oppression, and official military and contracted mercenary terrorism by governments and their agents, which for the victims of this violence is certainly “terrorism” (violence on civilians for a political and economic agenda), breeds the reaction of group and individual terrorism, and then ….a cycle of violence that gets repeated over and over again. As it is said, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
How to break this cycle?
We do not advocate or condone what is known as terrorism, target killing of innocent people for political and economic agenda against an alleged enemy, in any form, and this website is a humble attempt to identify some of the issues about various forms and kinds of political violence, oppression, tyranny, and terrorism.
One key issue is the claim of the state that they alone have a monopoly over legitimate violence, and any one challenging their power and violence is illegitimate, but did not the writing of Locke and Rousseau declare that man has “natural rights” and among those rights was the right of the people to overthrow their leaders if they betray the trust of just rule, if they betray the “social contract” to safeguard those natural rights of all men?
Is not this enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution?
Did those Englishmen think that the American rebels were terrorists or freedom fighters?
Was not the US Civil War fought, among other reasons, to correct the obvious contradiction between American hollow rhetoric and the real practice of preserving man’s “natural rights?”
Then read the declaration and writings of the “Anti Imperialist League” (Mark Twain was a member) who were against the political movement for an American ‘Imperial Empire’ in places like the Philippines.
And then there was the civil rights movement, and has it ended?
And now here we are, in the age that some neo-conservatives, after a new “Pearl Harbor like event,” called the “New American Century,” and in the age of what Bob Woodward describes in his book, “Obama’s Wars,” and in the age of the materialistic, militaristic ‘American Empire’ that Chalmers Johnson describes so well in his trilogy:
<>Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire
<>The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic
<>Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic.
What are we going to do now?
What kind of world do we want for our children and grandchildren?
To understand the realities we face is the beginnings of change.
NOTE: The opinions are of the authors cited themselves, and our posting of the articles is not necessarily an endorsement of those opinions and arguments, but rather for purposes of continual intellectual investigation, research and reflection.
See updates and information about the
Norway Oslo 2011Terrorist Conservative Christian Anti-Muslim Crusader > HERE
NOTE: he is one of 12 members of a secret right-wing anti-multicultural, anti-Marxist, anti-feminist, anti-Islamic society,
the ‘Knights Templar’
founded in London in April 2002.
Anders Behring Breivik: Norway Bomber, Terrorist, Mass Murderer, Christian Crusader
WikiLeaks releases CIA paper on U.S. as ‘exporter of terrorism’
Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, August 26, 2010; 12:43 PM
The United States has long been an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret CIA analysis released Wednesday by the Web site WikiLeaks. And if that phenomenon were to become a widely held perception, the analysis said, it could damage relations with foreign allies and dampen their willingness to cooperate in “extrajudicial” activities, such as the rendition and interrogation of terrorism suspects.
That is the conclusion of the three-page classified paper produced in February by the CIA’s Red Cell, a think tank set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet to provide “out-of-the-box” analyses on “a full range of analytic issues.”
Titled “What If Foreigners See the United States as an ‘Exporter of Terrorism’?,” the paper cites Pakistani American David Headley, among others, to make its case that the nation is a terrorism exporter. Headley pleaded guilty this year to conducting surveillance in support of the 2008 Lashkar-i-Taiba attacks in Mumbai, which killed more than 160 people. The militant group facilitated his movement between the United States, Pakistan and India, the agency paper said.
Such exports are not new, the paper said. In 1994, an American Jewish doctor who had emigrated from New York to Israel years earlier opened fire at a mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian worshippers. The rampage by Baruch Goldstein, a member of the militant group Kach founded by the late Meir Kahane, helped trigger a wave of bus bombings by the extremist Palestinian group Hamas in 1995, the paper noted.
As WikiLeaks disclosures go, this paper pales in comparison to the organization’s recent releases. Last month the group published 76,000 classified U.S. military records and field reports on the war in Afghanistan. That disclosure prompted criticism that the information put U.S. troops and Afghan informants at risk, along with demands from the Pentagon that the documents be returned. WikiLeaks says it is still planning to release 15,000 more Afghan war records that it has been reviewing to redact names and other information that could cause harm.
CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the significance of the paper: “These sorts of analytic products – clearly identified as coming from the Agency’s ‘Red Cell’ – are designed simply to provoke thought and present different points of view.”
While counterterrorism experts focus on threats to the homeland, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups “may be increasingly looking for Americans to operate overseas,” the paper said.
And if the made-in-America brand becomes well-known, foreign partners may become balky, perhaps even requesting “the rendition of U.S. citizens” they deem to be terrorists. U.S. refusal to hand over its citizens could strain alliances and “in extreme cases . . . might lead some governments to consider secretly extracting U.S. citizens suspected of foreign terrorism from U.S. soil.”
For you information
Encyclopedia of Horrors:
State Terrorism and the United States
State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism
By Frederick H. Gareau
(Clarity Press, 2004)
Kim Petersen, DissidentVoice
May 19, 2007
In his book, State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism, former Florida State University professor Frederick H. Gareau has produced a compelling indictment against the United States as the foremost perpetrator of global terrorism. State Terrorism and the United States is based on the reports from truth commissions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. Gareau included a chapter on the three Indonesian massacres to incorporate Asia into the globality of state terrorism, of which the US is the major proponent.
Gareau explains that US terrorism is ideologically based in the Root Doctrine of 1921, which aligns the US with right wing juntas and dictatorships (although not exclusively as the US alliance with the Khmer Rouge illustrates) to fight communism. As part of this fight, the US established the School of the Americas, which trained/indoctrinated recruits from many countries in counterinsurgency techniques (i.e., terrorism), techniques that serve US plutocratic interests. Thus, it was not surprising that many of the leaders of right wing groups and regimes that terrorized the civilian populace in Central and South Ixachilan (colonially known as Central and South America)1 were alumnae of the School of the Americas.
The crimes of the state terrorist agents run the gamut from rape to torture to disappearances (the latter being murder which deprives the victimsâ€™ family and friends of closure). In some cases the terrorism was so full blown that it was genocidal, as with the spree of massacres against the Mayan people of Guatemala and communists in Indonesia. The scorched earth campaign in Guatemala forced the Mayan peasants to remain continually on the move to evade the stateâ€™s killers.
In South Africa, racism and apartheid were prominent societal features supported by state terrorism.
The commonality among the terrorism wreaked in South Africa and Central and South Ixachilan countries is that state terrorism was wreaked by the ancestors and progeny of European colonialists. The deeply involved guiding force/partner in these evil enterprises was the colonially spawned US.
The truth commissions evidenced state terrorism against its own citizens. As Gareau details, the terrorism was waged overwhelmingly by right-wing groups and the victims were overwhelmingly Original Peoples, the poor, and left-wing groups. The commissions were designed to elicit the truth of what had happened and achieve closure over a dark chapter in the national history.
But the US “national interest” went beyond colluding with ex-pat Europeans amenable to Washingtonâ€™s will. Gareau describes the three massacres that occurred within the Indonesian archipelago. The first massacre was genocidal in that it attempted to wipe out the entirety of one group in society: those identified as communists and their sympathizers. Also genocidal in intent, the second and third massacres were directed against the East Timorese people. Gareau claims there was an “obvious parallel between the crimes committed by the Indonesian army in East Timor and those committed by Serbs in Kosovo,”2 yet Washingtonâ€™s reaction was decidedly different, as would be expected by the Root doctrine.
US support for state terrorism was demonstrated by increased aid, particularly military aid (insofar as one can apply the word aid to military goods and services) and supply of armaments. Gareau points to how US “aid” helped apartheid South African regimes develop a nuclear bomb and it had a muted response to the Israeli nuclear weapons program. This is US “aid” directed to genocidal regimes engaged in multiple human rights violations. Gareau points out that when a foreign government was not to US government (there was only a difference in degree of support for state terrorism abroad by Democratic or Republican administrations, not in policy) liking, the US attempted to strangle the economy, as was done against the Salvador Allende government in Chile.
Gareau helps define terrorism. He exposes a contradiction in the “similarity between the doctrine or philosophy of counterinsurgency and that of counter-terrorism as embraced by the Bush administration â€¦ Both rationalize the use by ‘our sideâ€™ of what are said to be the terrorist tactics of the adversary.”
He, also, reveals a paradox for those who wage a counterinsurgency, e.g., American troops in the “war on terrorism”: the use of guerrilla tactics by counterinsurgents “could make them heroes in the double sense that they not only risked their lives to save the values for which their country purportedly stood, but that they sacrificed their own integrity for doing so.”
The US role in state terrorism has become more direct. In its “war on terrorism” (in fact, a war of terrorism), the US has defined Islamic terrorists as enemy number one, supplanting the communists of the Cold War period. Pre-emption (or prevention) has become a US policy, where the US regime can decide to attack an “enemy” that it determines to be a threat. Gareau points out that this constitutes the international crime of aggression. In promoting the “war on terrorism,” the US military industrial complex continues to run at full throttle despite the demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.
What or who is a terrorist? Obviously, it is a person or organization that commits terrorism. This label should be applied equally to all who commit terrorism. While, by the preponderance of evidence detailed, the US is clearly the worldâ€™s major proponent of state terrorism (the most lethal form of terrorism, as Gareau states), Gareau never refers to the US as a “terrorist state,” nor does he prefix the US government as “terrorist.” Gareau deals with the gruesomeness and immorality of terrorism in a scholarly, dispassionate fashion. If he had maintained such dispassion equitably throughout his book for all terrorists, it would have been of little consequence, but Gareau refers to al Qaeda as a “terrorist group,” even though it practices a much less lethal form of retail terrorism. While not detracting from the value of State Terrorism and the United States, this does inject a bias into an otherwise excellent work.
Gareau concludes splendidly by calling upon a truth commission for Washington, to cast light on the dark secrets hidden by corporate media collusion in the crimes of the US state. The American people need to know about their governmentâ€™s encyclopedia of horrors.
If one supports the rights of Original Peoples and opposes colonialism and imperialism, then it seems only logical for progressives to refuse the language of colonialism and imperialism. â†‘
As a truth commission would likeliest reveal, the commission of crimes in Serbia was preponderantly caused by US state terrorism in Serbia. See Media Lens, “Disappearing Genocide: The Media and the Death Of Slobodan Milosevic,” Dissident Voice, 21 March 2006 and Dru Oja Jay, “Peace from Above,” The Dominion, 22 March 2006.
Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: email@example.com
State Terrorism and the United States:
From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism
Summary of the Book
This study exposes the support that administrations in Washington have given right-wing dictatorships that committed terrorism especially during the cold war and war on terrorism. It offers a critique of this latter war, and the study’s portrayal of the earlier war serves as necessary background for understanding and evaluating the latter war. It rejects the narrow definition of terrorism insisted on by Washington that exempts terrorism committed by governments (state terrorism) from the definition, and for political reasons restricts the term solely to the private terrorism committed by private individuals or non-governmental organizations. Every one of the six truth commission reports used in the study—one each for El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa and two with remarkably similar conclusions for Guatemala— found that the governments were responsible for the great preponderance of terrorism and other acts of repression that occurred in their respective countries, much more so than the guerrillas. In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Chile the governments were found to be guilty of over 90 percent of the acts of terrorism and other acts of repression. Sponsored by the United Nations, successor governments to those that committed state terrorism, or the Catholic Archdiocese of Guatemala City, each of these reports is based on thousands of interviews mostly with surviving victims or their families and friends. All of the truth commission reports charged that the state terrorists committed unimaginable, unspeakable acts of cruelty and terrorism, what the truth commission for Argentina characterized as an “encyclopedia of horror.” Advertised as a defense against communism and sometimes swayed by other motives— racism in South Africa and Guatemala and anti-Semitism in Argentina— the basic motive for the state terrorists was discovered to be the preservation of the status quo and the prevention of social change. They hunted down, tortured, terrorized, and murdered peasants, workers, students, teachers, priests, and nuns. The truth commission for Guatemala sponsored by the United Nations found the government of that country guilty of genocide. With some exceptions, a compliant national media engaged in self-censorship, even passing on the government inspired lies that held the guerrillas, not the government, responsible for the bulk of the atrocities. This and other evidence suggest that the so-called war on terrorism is a partial war that fails to target the main perpetrators, the state terrorists. The incomplete definition insisted on by Washington shields it from being accused of being a supporter of terrorism.
Washington’s support for state terrorist regimes typically has taken the form of training their troops in “counterinsurgency,” now “counter-terrorism,” and by providing funds and loans, military equipment, and diplomatic backing. The study indicates that Washington helped the Saddam Hussein regime and the apartheid regimes in South Africa successfully develop weapons of mass destruction. Saddam used poison against the Kurds and the Iranians. The racists in Pretoria produced six nuclear weapons, which they destroyed, following a request from Washington, before handing over the government to Nelson Mandela. In order to assure the continuing Kuwaiti financing of Saddam’s war of aggression against Iran (1980-1988), the Reagan administration put the American flag on the ships of the sheikdom to protect them from Iran. This administration also became a co-belligerent in Saddam’s “oil war,” sinking half of the Iranian navy. It is arguable that without this aid Saddam would have been defeated and deposed by Iran in 1988.
The support for Saddam by the Reagan administration and by that of the elder Bush in its early years puts in perspective Washington’s later moral claims for initiating wars against the dictator. Support for Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war also serves the reader as an introduction to what is to come, as Washington’s policy shifted from supporting dictators/oppressors in the cold war to supporting them in the war against terrorism. The intended enemy in the first period was communism/social change, whereas in the later period it was often to contain the type of Islam exemplified by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The study indicates that the administration of the younger Bush has followed this new paradigm in Algeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Its support in Uzbekistan is for a dictator who persecutes Islam, and in Russia it supports an authoritarian president who attacks Muslim Chechens, freedom fighting terrorists. Support for terrorist governments in Colombia has been rationalized by the cold war, the war against drugs, and now the latter plus the war on terrorism. The study adds to the indictment against Washington by references to statistical studies and to the opposition of the Bush administration to the International Criminal Court.
The study critiques the way the Bush administration has conducted the war on terrorism, arguing that it should be carried on without resort to war. Renamed “defense against terrorism,” it would concentrate on the home front and international cooperation. Pre-emption and counter proliferation would be rejected as forms of aggression, and Washington would join the International Criminal Court. The study questions the validity of the reasons given by the Bush administration for invading Iraq in 2003, and it finds that war to be immoral, illegal, and counterproductive. It has alienated large sections of the world population, most especially the Arabs and the Muslims. Aid to Israel, especially military aid, is a major reason for the terrorism directed at the United States, volatile fuel that feeds Arab and Islamic hatred. Israel remains the number one recipient of Washington’s economic and military largess, receives Washington’s diplomat support and intelligence, and is the beneficiary of a strange silence meant to shield public knowledge of the existence of the Israeli stockpile of nuclear weapons. The study recommends that Washington terminate all military aid to Israel as well as aid to Colombia, Uzbekistan, and other countries that are currently committing or sponsoring state terrorism. It recommends that a truth commission be established to investigate and to advertise Washington’s support for state terrorism so that the American public will know what has been done in its name.
Here is truth dripping blood and gore. Given the stakes this is the kind of book we ought to have again and again until it is finally impressed on the American people what its government is doing in its name, while hypocritically proclaiming loudly the virtues of freedom and democracy
The body of the book is formed by six case studies of US perpetration of and complicity in repression and terrorism in El Salvado, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Indonesia. Sadly, this repression almost unexceptionally has come to pass when the poor and repressed majority has organized to redress the privileged economic elite, often under cover of the Cold War against communism; today more commonly under the cloak of the war on terrorism. Gareau also takes brief but sweeping inventories of similar terror in Cambodia, Iraq, Colombia, Nicaragua, the Congo, Iran and elsewhere. Orwell would fully understand a US State Department list of state sponsors of terror conspicuously missing the United States itself.
Gareau gives lie to the “romantic notion” that the attacks of September 11 were prompted by a pathogical hatred of the United States and its freedoms. It is more accurate, he says, to see them as a response to widespread and similar activity in which the US has been much more intimately involved. It is critical to understand this history as the first step in contrition and thusly to preventing future repeats.
In each of the six case studies, Gareau asks and answers three main questions: did the government being studied commit state terrorism? how much of the terror was perpetrated by the state, and how much by private guerrillas? And, was the country that committed terror upon its own citizens supported by the United States?
Under US diplomatic cover, 95% of the 75,000 killed in El Salvador between 1980 and 1991 were killed by government forces at the same time the US provided El Salvador $6 billion in aid.
In the 1950s successive governments in Guatemala instituted the beginnings of successful reform measures aimed at aiding the poor and disenfranchised. Intolerable to US business interests, in response the CIA trained and supplied an invasion force that deposed President Arbenz in 1954 in a watershed in the history of the country which engendered the bloody repression that followed. An estimated 200,000 were killed between 1962 and 1996, about 93% of them by government forces. The United States provided massive aid to Guatemala during this reign of terror.
At the direct behest of Nixon and Kissinger in 1973, on September 11 no less, the duly elected and popular Marxist President Salvador Allende of Chile was assassinated. Installed in his stead was General Pinochet who “disappeared” 3-4,000 and ruled with an iron fist of terror for three decades, with wide support from the United States.
These are typical of US foreign policy as documented herein, and continue in the Bush adminstration’s war on terror which Gareau says is illegal, immoral, overly belligerent and counterproductive.
Gareau’s closes the book with suggested remedies that include calling it a defense rather than a war against terrorism; treating terrorism as a criminal rather a military matter and responding to it as such; more active US participation in international agencies such as the International Criminal Court and the International Atomic Energy Commission; quitting US support of terror in all its guises; adopting a negotiable rather than a unilateral posture vis-a-vis terrorism; making US amends as far as possible to victims of terror it has supported in the past; and establishing a truth commission for the United States so its citizens can know what has been done in their names.
This is an important book. I can’t think of a topic more important especially in this day and age and especially to Americans. That they are largely unaware of this history is inexplicable. Would they want to remedy this character defect, this book would help.
This is a concise book that covers one of today’s biggest topics: terrorism.
In the millions of hours of TV coverage, and the millions of words in countless newspaper articles, we seldom get a clear picture of state terrorism in the world, and what role the United States really plays in combatting, supporting, and instituting it. Gareau uses a number of case studies to determine the extent of US involvement in countries like El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, and he briefly covers other ‘hot spots’ like Cambodia, Nicaragua, and of course, Iraq.
The information is not ‘secret’. Certainly, the media has covered these areas over the years, usually supporting a very familiar line. However, the reality on the ground is something quite different than the various US administrations have described in all of their lofty rhetoric about combatting terror, about ‘why do they hate us?’, and about eliminating imminent threats.
The book also looks to current events in an evaluation on the Bush II administration’s ‘War on Terror’. Gareau’s summation is anything but laudatory for the ‘counterterror’ being carried out by the US and its allies and proxies. The behavior of the world’s dominant superpower is often arrogant and bullying, and it’s nothing new to Bush II. The case studies stretch back to at least the 1950s, with US involvement in the hemisphere stretching back a century in some cases.
There’s been a very close link between US support and aid and state terrorism in a number of the cases, and some of the shorter bits on other countries and regions echoes this as well. (See Holly Sklar’s ‘Washington’s War on Nicaragua’ for an overview on that ‘successful’ job of ‘spreading democracy’.)
The purpose is to illustrate what the United States has done, is doing, and is capable of doing when its interests are at stake and when a lofty goal is announced. Communism, Drugs, and Terrorism are excellent pretexts for widening America’s sphere of influence and ensuring that clients and potential clients do not step out of line. ‘Counterterror’ becomes a code word for state terror, and when we’ve achieved our ‘goals’, we like to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, sometimes leaving a trail of misery behind (Central America).
Highly recommended for anyone interested in current affairs. A stark look at the ‘War on Terror’ will reveal something about ourselves, and much about a media, intellectual community, and government that is dedicated to hypocrisy and to state terror when it achieves the ‘right’ goals.
Using evidence from various truth commissions, Professor Gareau, of Florida State University, presents detailed country studies. In El Salvador in 1980-91, 75,000 people were killed, of whom the government, its army, the National Guard and its death squads, killed 95%. The US gave El Salvador’s state $6 billion, supporting the terror.
In Guatemala in 1962-96, the state’s forces killed more than 90% of the 200,000 people killed. In Chile after the coup of 11 September 1973, the state, again, killed more than 95% of those killed. In Argentina in 1976-83, 8,960 were killed. In Colombia in 1986-95, 45,000 were killed, again 95% by the army and death squads.
Between 1980 and 1988 the South African state killed 1.5 million people in neighbouring countries. Indonesia’s army killed at least 1.5 million people in 1965, 1975 and 1999: the US state supported elections on the back of these massacres.
In every case, the US state backed the state terrorism before, during and after it was committed. Gareau cites three studies proving that the more a state violated its citizens’ rights, the more US aid it received.
This was state terrorism, not even-handed civil wars with half the violence committed by one side and half by the other. It was counter-revolutionary murder by US-equipped, US-trained armed forces against people with hardly any means of self-defence.
Why this one-sided ferocity? US military training teaches recruits to use pre-emptive terrorism – `do it to them before they do it to us’. It tells recruits that the enemy will torture and kill them, take no prisoners and show no respect for the laws of war.
Gareau sums up, “Washington has the right, indeed the duty, to defend the United States against terrorism. The question arises as to how it should do this. … the way the Bush administration has chosen … is immoral, illegal, overly belligerent, and in many ways counterproductive.”
This account of US interventions shows that its brutal and lawless occupation of Iraq is no aberration. Hopes that, this time, US intervention will bring democracy and independence are self-deception and delusion.
How America Gets Away With Murder:
Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against
By Michael Mandel (Author)
“Exciting, original, and completely convincing … This book is essential reading for anybody who wants to understand how the law really works in international affairs, and it throws a great deal of light on those international affairs themselves.” –Edward S. Herman “This closely reasoned and carefully documented study is sad and grim, and necessary. Unless its lessons are heeded by citizens of the rich and powerful states, the fate of the world will be left to the whim of those with the guns and the faith to enforce their will.” –Noam Chomsky
The US has claimed the moral high ground in its recent wars. But how is this position tenable if those wars were in fact illegal?
Through a thorough exploration of the recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, and the attempts of the US to legitimise them, Michael Mandel casts a critical eye on the claims the US makes for its wars – “humanitarian intervention” and “self-defence” – and unpacks the complex moral and legal issues underpinning recent US military action. Michael Mandel shows how international law is a malleable entity which the US can bend in its favour, but even then there are many times when it goes against the law and fights wars illegally.
Mandel also explores the recent war crimes trials of those who lose their battle with the US, and the trial of Slobodan Milosevic in particular. Mandel argues that the trials are not actually about ending war crimes, or impunity for war crimes, but about selectively punishing “the usual suspects” as part of the imperial strategy of the great powers – primarily the United States. Mandel also highlights how hypocritical such trials are – Milosevic is tried with great ceremony for his crimes, while America is not. In fact, Mandel shows how these tribunals shield America and its allies from responsibility for what is termed “collateral damage”, but what is in reality murder on a vast scale.
Michael Mandel writes that former U.S. secretary of state Cyrus Vance and former British foreign secretary David Owen presided over a peace process for Bosnia in the early 1990’s attempting to make all the ethnic groups in the country feel that they had all their rights and safety. An agreement was reached in early 1992. Everybody supported the deal except the Bosnian Muslims, who were encouraged by the Bush Sr. administration to hold out for more. Almost four years of horrific civil war followed. The U.S. succeeded in convincing its allies at long last in 1995 to bomb the Bosnian Serbs and pressured the Bosnian Muslims to the negotiating table at Dayton and an agreement was signed. Bhoutros Bhoutros Ghali noted later that the old Vance-Owen plans were more or less the same as the 1995 Dayton accords. The whole point of the exercise from the U.S. point of view was to undermine the leadership of its West European allies in reaching a peaceful settlement, maneuvering them to playing second fiddle,, while U.S. military power eventually solved the problem. In 1992 Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, undermining attempts to get the Bosnian Serbs to compromise, announced suddenly his belief that the Serbs in Bosnian and Belgrade should be treated as war criminals.. This is the same man Mandel notes, who was a key state dept. planner while such Nuremberg style offenses took place as the U.S. slaughter of 600,000 Cambodians in 1969-75, U.S. support for the slaughter of 200,000 in East Timor,U.S. support for the terrorist contras and the death squads which slaughtered tens of thousands in Central America in the 80’s, the deliberate destruction of Iraq’s vital civilian infrastructure by U.S. bombing during the first Gulf War, etc. etc. .Journalists were full of dubious atrocity stories, circulated by the PR firm Rudder Finn, in the pay of the Izetbegobic govt. For instance Roy Gutman wrote in Newsday about a supposed Bosnian Serb Death camp at Brcko. He claimed that 3000 people were slaughtered there, many by having their throats slit. However, years later, the commander of this death camp was only convicted at the Hague of 12 counts of murder and only 66 bodies were found, almost all with pistol shots. Similarly Omarska was claimed to be a death camp reminiscent of the Nazis, but its commander, Dusko Tadic, ended up being charged with only 9 counts of murder. Srebrencia, everybody’s favorite Serb massacre could only yield about 2000 bodies. The tribunal investigators conceded that some of the bodies showed signs of having been engaged in combat before death. Mandel estimates about 4000 dead in this case when estimating the alleged “missing” bodies. He notes that these are all terrible atrocities, but hardly the Nazi-style acts that liberals and leftists sobbed over. Bosnian Muslims were convicted by the Hague tribunal too for running the sort of torture and rape camps accused of the Serbs. In August 1995,under cover of U.S. air strikes on the Bosnian Serbs, and with U.S. air and logistical support, the Croatian army murdered and looted and raped, as hundreds of thousands of Serbs were ethnically cleansed from its province of Krajina. The Croatian commander of this operation was indicted by the tribunal in 2001 but of course, no U.S. officials will ever be.
In the Kosovo situation, the author portrays the real motives of the U.S. as being about asserting its military hegemony in solving European problems. Richard Perle praised the war because it was launched without UN approval.The U.S. called Kosovo Liberation Army actions terrorist in early 1998 but denounced the Serbs as engaging in “state terrorism” in their “retaliation” against the KLA. UN and other reports during 1998, as the author shows, are full of citations of KLA atrocities and less those of Serbs. Michael Ignatiev while traveling with his hero Holbrooke wrote that the KLA seemed to be attempting to provoke Serb atrocities and thus to give the U.S. led NATO an excuse to intervene.
At Racak in Jan 1999, William Walker proclaimed a Serb massacre. This is the same guy, Mandel notes, who was U.S. ambassador to the death squad regime in El Salvador who had played down the murder by a U.S. trained battalion in that country in November 1989 of six Jesuits, their cook and her daughter.. The leader of the Finnish forensics team, under heavy pressure from Walker, claimed that a particular pathological test had been done which discredited Serb claims that the dead Albanians had been engaged in combat. However, the author says that this pathologist later admitted to him that that test had not actually been done at Racak. Members of the team broke off from the leader and conducted their own investigation which rebutted U.S. claims. Only twenty two bodies were found, all but one of them adult male and all but one of them shot from far away, not the 45 bodies of men, women and children Clinton claimed had been machined gunned in a ditch
He goes on to show how the U.S., when the Serbs accepted the principle of an international peacekeeping force in Kosovo, tried to raise the bar higher to avoid a peaceful settlement by demanding that the Serbs accept an all NATO occupation force that would have access to all of Yugoslavia-obviously as a sovereign govt. they would not accept this. He notes that despite the wild claims such as William Cohen’s 100,000 killed after March 24th (when the bombing began and the escalation in Serb violence and refugee flight not coincidently occurred), only 2,250 or so Albanian bodies were actually found afterwards. The Hague tribunal eventually gave up trying to prove Milosevic committed genocide in Kosovo.
The bulk of this book is about the Balkans but he has other interesting stuff. He shows that U.S. effort to block UN action in Rwanda in 1994 was motivated by a desire to block an action in which it had no imperial interest. He shows clearly that U.S. has committed the supreme international crime of aggression many times and has an interesting discussion about the concept of wars of self-defense. He notes in Eastern Europe, most of the people strongly opposed their govt’s support for the Iraq war. He shows how the U.S. sabotaged any possibility of getting Bin Laden in its demands on the Taliban after 9-11 and how the cutoff of medical and food aid during the bombing of Afghanistan seems to have killed as much as 20,000; he quotes the NYT as reporting that 600 people in three particular villages died because of such a situation.
The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States
“‘This work, based on extensive interviews with decision makers in three countries, contributes both to our historical understanding and our current policy debate.’ Francis Fukuyama, author of America at the Crossroads ‘This book is outstanding and important.’ Nikki Keddie, author of Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution”
In this era of superheated rhetoric and vitriolic exchanges between the leaders of Iran and Israel, the threat of nuclear violence looms. But the real roots of the enmity between the two nations mystify Washington policymakers, and no promising pathways to peace have emerged. This book traces the shifting relations among Israel, Iran, and the United States from 1948 to the present, uncovering for the first time the details of secret alliances, treacherous acts, and unsavory political maneuverings that have undermined Middle Eastern stability and disrupted U.S. foreign policy initiatives in the region.
Trita Parsi, a U.S. foreign policy expert with more than a decade of experience, is the only writer who has had access to senior American, Iranian, and Israeli decision makers. He dissects the complicated triangular relations of their countries, arguing that America’s hope for stability in Iraq and for peace in Israel is futile without a correct understanding of the Israeli-Iranian rivalry.
Parsi’s behind-the-scenes revelations about Middle East events will surprise even the most knowledgeable readers: Iran’s prime minister asks Israel to assassinate Khomeini, Israel reaches out to Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War, the United States foils Iran’s plan to withdraw support from Hamas and Hezbollah, and more. This book not only revises our understanding of the Middle East’s recent past, it also spells out a course for the future. In today’s belligerent world, few topics, if any, could be more important.
Trita Parsi has written a compelling book, cutting thorough ideological and political propaganda emanating from the three countries he has focused on (US, Israel, and Iran), and going right through the core issues involving geopolitical and regional hegemony aspirations of the three governments. What is fascinating is that Parsi reveals that such political calculations transcend the particular ideology of the governments in these three countries. Whether it is Likud or Labor in Israel, Democrats or Republicans in the US, or The former Shah’s regime or the reformists or hardliners of the Islamic government in Iran, the decision making process remarkably follows more or less the same logic, and the same priorities are at play. When a shift in policy takes place, Parsi reveals that again the political faction of the government involved is irrelevant. In fact, amazingly, the very same people who were advocating one set of policies, often advance a diametrically opposite set a few years later. Parsi underlines this point by revealing how Israeli Labor leaders, the late Itzhak Rabin and Shimon Perez were lobbying the Reagan administration to disregard virulent rhetoric from Iran and try to open up channels of communication with them, while just a few years later these two men were warning about the Iranian menace in every domestic and international speech. He points out how the neo-conservatives dominating the Bush administration were the very same people who were advocating supporting Iran in the Iran-Iraq war and opening channels in the eighties in the Reagan administration. And how the former hostage takers in Iran are now mostly leading liberals advocating negotiations and moderation in Iranian policies.
Parsi narrates this story in a linear historical context, starting his book from 1948 when Israel was created all the way to present day (summer of 2007). The central theme of the book is that before 1991, Iran and Israel were natural allies, while afterwards (which was coincident with the fall of Soviet Union and defeat of Iraqi President Saddam Hossein’s invasion of Kuwait and his subsequent weakenining) the two countries became rivals and perceived each other as threats.
The main shortcoming of the book as I see it, is that while Parsi underlies the geopolitical underpinnings of the triangular relationship of Iran, Israel and the US, very little is mentioned in terms of economic reasons for these “treacherous” alliances and rivalries. What corporations or industries benefit from continued hostilities between Iran and the US and which ones benefit, and how much influence and clout each has on the direction of the US policies? Who benefits in Iran for continued belligerence towards Israel or towards the US, and who is hurt, and how much influence they have on the Iranian government? Some economic analysis is given for Israel’s attitude towards Iran: Oil investments and sales from Iranian side, and military sales and training from the Israeli side when relations were good; and an Arab-Israeli common market in the Middle East (which would exclude Iran) when relations were bad. But these economic incentives are treated as secondary at best. I wish more and deeper economic analysis was presented from Iranian and American, as well as Israeli perspectives.
All in all I recommend this book strongly and advise that anyone, right-wingers who advocate military action against Iran (Israeli or American) or moderates advocating political dialog and negotiated approach should educate themselves by reading this book before further opining on US or Israel policies vis-a-vis Iran.
Based on exclusive interviews, new information, and gritty investigative work, Trita Parsi’s book provides the evidence anyone on President George W. Bush’s team should look at to rationally understand why confrontation between the US and Iran is NOT inevitable.
This masterpiece demonstrates fresh analysis and keeps up with Dr. Parsi’s proven credibility here in Washington for objectively and (at times) unconventionally calling out developments in the US-Iranian relationship, regardless of which neoconservatives or pro-war hawks might cringe.
Treacherous Alliance is tightly written and readable for all levels of the public who are moderately informed and interested in foreign policy. Academics will mine through the numerous exclusive quotes provided and timeless high-level quotes obtained, as well as the many pages of footnotes (and even leaked documents!) for those looking to do spinoff research and analysis.
At a time when drumbeats by DC policy dead-enders persist for a new military confrontation with Iran, finally a credible, air-tight book arrives to preempt their arguments for the next global disaster.
For those who don’t read Dr. Parsi’s book, fortunately the major American and international news outlets, including CNN, BBC, and al-Jazeera are on to him and host him as a frequent guest expert.
This book deserves a Pulitzer.
Unlike the first reviewer who obviously didn’t even skim the book, I would attest that this revealing and insightful book is brimming with historical facts, anecdotes, and analysis that simply can not be found elsewhere. (The author interviewed dozens of high-ranking Israeli, American, and Iranian officials inside Israel and Iran – the analysis never comes across as conjecture)
The basic premise of the book, based on over 130 first-hand interviews with the highest ranking officials in all three countries, is that the basic geo-political and national interest concerns of Iran and Israel have guided their foreign policy from one of convergence to divergence.
It further paints a clear picture of why the conventional wisdom regarding the dominance of an ideological driving force in their bilateral dealings is a false one – and shows how it can and has lead to miscalculations in the United States’ foreign policy in the region.
The book is also a very easy read for those unfamiliar with the intricacies of international relations yet manages to provide a ton of new facts and anecdotes for even the most ardent student of modern middle eastern political history.
I highly recommend this book to any and all who are curious about Iran and Israel’s role in the middle east over the next few decades, particularly with the heightened tensions that seem to point to a military conflict in the near term.
A Twentieth-century History [Hardcover]
Marilyn B. Young (Editor)
Bombing Civilians examines a crucial question: why did military planning in the early twentieth century shift its focus from bombing military targets to bombing civilians? From the British bombing of Iraq in the early 1920s to the most recent policies in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, Bombing Civilians analyzes in detail the history of indiscriminate bombing, examining the fundamental questions of how this theory justifying mass killing originated and why it was employed as a compelling military strategy for decades, both before and since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
–This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Marilyn B. Young is a professor of history at New York University. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow; is the author of numerous books, including The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990; and co-edited Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam (The New Press). Yuki Tanaka is Research Professor at Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University. Since the mid-1980s he has been concentrating his research on war crimes and is the author of several books, including Japan’s Comfort Women and Hidden Horrors.
This is a remarkable collection of essays on various aspects of mass bombing of civilians in wartime. It has plenty of information about the strategy and tactics of aerial warfare – especially the destruction of Germany and Japan. It won’t appeal to those who think anything the USA did/does to protect its interest is justifiable but anyone looking for clear, well argued analysis about this ongoing issue will find plenty to digest – it is well referenced but not written for academics only. Readers who enjoy it might like to look at Higher than Heaven (1995) by Rick Tanaka and Tony Barrell
Legacy of Terror by Air
Skulls – Legacy of Khmer Rouge
Former Khmer Rouge cadres have repeatedly suggested that the tribunal should also take into account the events that led up to the Khmer Rouge’s rise to power in 1975 and hold former US leaders, including former national security adviser Henry Kissinger, accountable for their role in the illegal carpet-bombing of Cambodia during Washington’s conflict with Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. Those suggestions have been batted back out of hand, however. Many Cambodians wonder whether the UN-led tribunal isn’t yet another instance of outside interference in their country’s internal affairs, staged more in the interest of superpower politics than real reconciliation. Truth and justice, they fear, will only be a small part of the tribunal’s final verdict.
USA foreign policy in action: A predator drone (guided missile, etc) war against targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc, etc, and by proxy, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, many others.
Collateral damage causes problems
The caption on bottom of the image shows proportion of civilians vs. militants killed last year in drone attacks in Pakistan. The figure has crossed over 1000 deaths in total during the first quarter of 2010.
Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians.
Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.
Some have said the ratio is 50 civilians to 1 militant.
Successful strategy for building friends?
A recent poll by Gallup Pakistan asked respondents what they consider to be the biggest threat to the nation of Pakistan. The results make interesting reading –
11% answered – Taliban
18% answered – India
59% answered – USA
The negative attitude towards the USA in part reflects the growing anger over the death and injury of civilians from ‘Drone’ rocket attacks launched by American forces.
Only 9% of those polled supported the drone attacks.
People chant anti-American slogans and burn an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama in Jalalabad, south Afghanistan, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 during a protest against the recent killings of 10 civilians allegedly by the coalition forces in Kunar province. The head of a presidential delegation investigating the deaths of 10 people in eastern Afghanistan concluded Wednesday that civilians, including schoolchildren, were killed in an attack involving foreign troops, disputing NATO reports that the dead were insurgents. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
7:29 a.m. ET, 12/30/09
Pakistani Poll results: On drone attacks
Question: Do you favour or oppose drone attacks by the United States against Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan?
|On the threat from the Taliban vs the USA and India
Question: Some people believe that the (Pakistani) Taliban are the greatest threat to the country, some believe India is the greatest threat, whereas some believe US is the greatest threat. Who do you think is the greatest threat for Pakistan?
And coming soon to your neighborhood,
Armed with heat-seeking cameras, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles would hover hundreds of feet in the air, gathering intelligence and watching suspects.
Using Human Rights to Sell War
Since the end of the Cold War, the idea of human rights has been made into a justification for intervention by the world’s leading economic and military powers—above all, the United States—in countries that are vulnerable to their attacks. The criteria for such intervention have become more arbitrary and self-serving, and their form more destructive, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan to Iraq. Until the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the large parts of the left was often complicit in this ideology of intervention—discovering new “Hitlers” as the need arose, and denouncing antiwar arguments as appeasement on the model of Munich in 1938.
Jean Bricmont’s Humanitarian Imperialism is both a historical account of this development and a powerful political and moral critique. It seeks to restore the critique of imperialism to its rightful place in the defense of human rights. It describes the leading role of the United States in initiating military and other interventions, but also on the obvious support given to it by European powers and NATO. It outlines an alternative approach to the question of human rights, based on the genuine recognition of the equal rights of people in poor and wealthy countries.
Timely, topical, and rigorously argued, Jean Bricmont’s book establishes a firm basis for resistance to global war with no end in sight.
About the Author
Jean Bricmont is professor of theoretical physics at the University of Louvain, Belgium. He is the author of Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science (with Alan Sokal) and other political and scientific publications.
The adoption of the humanitarian war rationale has had a particularly damaging effect on what remains of the Left in Western countries; one of the basic tenets for Leftists should have been to oppose imperial wars, and it has been disconcerting to witness the adoption of the human rights lingo to either co-cheerlead wars, accept portions of the rationale for war or simply to demonstrate unreflective muddled thinking. Jean Bricmont’s book, Humanitarian Imperialism, is a clearly written guide through this moral maze, an unmasking of tendentious interpretation of history, and an antidote to the principal malaise afflicting our times: hypocrisy. It is an important contribution to help the Left to assess critically history, and to break through an intellectual logjam surrounding the so-called humanitarian wars.
In this brilliant book, French scientist Jean Bricmont exposes the liberal lie of humanitarian imperialism, showing that imperialism is never humanitarian.
Throughout the last century, the USA and its allies, principally Britain, constantly attacked progressive forces, upholding by force the unjust world order under which we live, attacking workers seeking justice and national sovereignty. The USA is the organ-grinder, Britain the monkey.
The key example is the Soviet Union, which was always forced to defend itself against aggression. As Bricmont notes, defending the Soviet Union, “The leftist discourse on the Soviet Union, especially on the part of Trotskyists, anarchists, and a majority of contemporary communists, usually fails to recognize that aspect of things in its eagerness to denounce Stalinism. But insofar as a large part of Stalinism can be considered a reaction to external attacks and threats (imagine again a regular series of September 11 attacks on the United States), the denunciation amounts to a defense of imperialism that is all the more pernicious for adopting a revolutionary pose.”
Bricmont defends workers’ nationalism, pointing out, “the `nationalism’ of a people that wants to protect advantages gained in decades of struggle for progress is not comparable to the nationalism of a great power that takes the form of military intervention at the other end of the earth. Moreover, if it is true that national sovereignty does not necessarily bring democracy, there can be no democracy without it.” Nations that lose sovereignty lose their democracy.
When peoples defend their national sovereignty against an aggressor, they are upholding international law. But for Britain to follow the USA into endless wars would militarise our foreign and domestic policies, destroy civil liberties and waste billions on the military, with no end to terrorism.
If Britain instead practised non-intervention and peaceful cooperation, and respected other nations’ rights to self-determination and national sovereignty, we would free billions of pounds to invest in our industries and services.
Terrorism Made in the USA
by Sheldon Richman
June 11, 2010, The future of freedon foundation
It’s a perilous world, as our so-called leaders love to remind us. And for a change they’re right. It is a perilous world. But guess who is most responsible for the peril to Americans? Those very same “leaders” and a long line of predecessors.
Moreover, they — along with anyone else who takes time to examine the matter — know that they create the greatest dangers Americans face. They just don’t care. They have bigger fish to fry than keeping Americans safe. Besides, the dangers they create provide excuses for more power.
Let’s just say what many people already know: the “war on terrorism” produces terrorists. No half-intelligent person could think that U.S. treatment of the Muslim world could have any effect other than to produce violent, vengeful anti-Americanism. Even in the government-friendly mainstream media you will find the facts, though you’ll have to connect the dots yourself.
When you treat people like they are worthless, or help others to treat them that way, some of those people will get mad and vow to get even. If desperate enough they will even be willing to give their lives to the cause.
Isn’t this already obvious? For over 50 years U.S. administrations, for the sake of geopolitical hegemony and preferential access to resources, have treated much of the Muslim world like personal property. They’ve backed brutal dictators, subverted governments, and invaded and occupied countries as it suited their agenda of “world leadership.” The program included defying the will of the Iranian people (1953), backing the repressive Saudi monarchy and the Egyptian and Iraqi dictatorships, financing Israel’s wars against Lebanon and oppression of the Palestinians, and so much more. It was bad enough that England and France had betrayed the trust of the Arabs after World War I and turned the Middle East into a colonial playground, with all the humiliation and repression that implies. The U.S. government then compounded the crime by picking up the mantle of empire after World War II. Power and oil were the reasons. Were the brutalized and mortified people supposed to be grateful to the West?
We kid ourselves when we pretend that history began on Sept. 11, 2001. Can anyone say with a straight face that before that date America was minding its own business according to the noninterventionist guidelines set out by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson? Read some history. Or does American exceptionalism mean not having to know anything before dropping bombs on people and torturing detainees?
The Muslims who wish Americans ill have never been mysterious about their grievances. Osama bin Laden’s fatwa against the United States is online. Read it for yourself. It was issued in 1996, soon after U.S.-financed Israel conducted one of its regular onslaughts against the Lebanese. What are his specific grievances? American troops stationed near Muslim holy places in Saudi Arabia. The 1990s killer U.S. embargo on Iraq. U.S. sponsorship of Israel’s domination of the Palestinians and its neighbors. “Terrorising you, while you are carrying arms on our land, is a legitimate and morally demanded duty,” he wrote.
You don’t need to take bin Laden’s word for it. Bush administration officials acknowledged that U.S. policy creates more terrorists than it kills. Bush strategist Paul Wolfowitz himself said that occupying Iraq permitted U.S. troops to leave Saudi Arabia, where they had created so much hostility to America. Correct: American policy manufactures terrorism.
With impunity the U.S. government fires missiles from pilotless drones into Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere, killing innocents. Its occupation forces leave death and misery in their wake. Gen. Stanley McChrystal concedes that in Afghanistan “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.” And in the latest incident, Israel killed nine aid volunteers (including an American citizen) on the high seas while enforcing a cruel blockade of Gaza, the latest mistreatment of Palestinians. How can this not come back to haunt us, Israel’s financiers?
U.S. policy — no matter who’s in power — couldn’t be better tailored to recruit terrorists. We can keep pretending we are innocent victims. Or we can finally put the responsibility where it belongs: in Washington, D.C.
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine. Visit his blog “Free Association” at www.sheldonrichman.com. Send him email.
Terror Made in the U.S.A.
By KAY JOHNSON Garden Grove Monday, Oct. 29, 2001
Ask Nguyen Huu Chanh about bombs and, for a second, a smile flickers across his face. In fact, bombings are one of the favorite topics�and hobbies�of this self-styled commander in chief of the Government of Free Vietnam. He readily describes the bombs his supporters threw at the Vietnamese embassies in Bangkok and Phnom Penh, and the one they claim to have planted in Hanoi’s airport. Chanh’s favorite subject, however, is the destruction yet to come. The next attack will be “a very important target” inside Vietnam itself, he says. “Our bombs use an electronic system, a new design,” he boasts. “And I control the code.”
|Government of Free Vietnam
||Cambodian Freedom Fighters
|LED BY: Green-card holder Nguyen Huu Chanh, 51
HEADQUARTERS: Garden Grove, California
MEMBERS: Group claims to have trained up to 100,000 supporters at secret bases along Vietnam’s border
AIMS: To topple Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party
|LED BY: Cambodian- American accountant Chhun Yasith, 45
HEADQUARTERS: Long Beach, California
MEMBERS: Group claims to have 500 in America and up to 20,000 supporters in Cambodia
AIMS: To overthrow Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, whom it calls a dictator
Chanh, 51, is Vietnam’s most-wanted terrorist, a globe-trotting rabble-rouser sought by police in his homeland and in the Philippines, where three of his associates were recently arrested with bombmaking materials. He may not be in the same league as Osama bin Laden, but his Free Vietnam movement, which has waged a low-level three-year war against the communist government of Vietnam, is suspected in half a dozen attacks on Vietnamese targets in Europe and Asia. What’s most striking about Chanh is where he operates: from a suburban office complex in Garden Grove, California. Chanh immigrated to the U.S. in 1982 and, despite George W. Bush’s war on terrorism, he feels no need to hide in his adopted country.
But Chanh’s California dreaming and Free-Vietnam scheming haven’t gone completely unnoticed. Earlier this month, U.S. federal agents arrested Free Vietnam operative Vo Van Duc, 41, for involvement in a failed June attempt to blow up the Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok with two fertilizer bombs. Duc was charged in Los Angeles last week with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction abroad and he could face life in prison. He could also be extradited to Thailand, where three of his accused accomplices in the attack are already in custody. Chanh says Duc was acting on his own. But in August, he openly bragged to TIME of having planned several past incidents, including one foiled in 1999, when authorities in southern Vietnam arrested 38 people with explosives and plans to blow up national monuments.
|A REBEL GROUP’S RAP SHEET
|The Free Vietnam organization has admitted to or been blamed for several attacks:1999 Vietnamese police arrest 38 members and seize 37 kg of explosives in connection with plot to bomb statues of communist hero Ho Chi Minh and disrupt national festivalsAUGUST 2000Free Vietnam believed to be behind fire in Vietnameseembassy compound in LondonAPRIL 2001 Homemade bomb explodes at Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh, injuring a guard. Free Vietnam says it was behind attack
JUNE 2001 Three members arrested for allegedly planting two bombs at Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok
SEPTEMBER 2001Philippine police charge three suspected members for allegedly plotting to bomb Vietnamese embassy in Manila
Hanoi officially welcomed Duc’s arrest, but said it’s not enough. Vietnam wants the U.S. to go a step further and shut down Chanh’s group as part of its declared war on international terrorism. “The U.S. and all governments should have a consistent attitude to terrorist activities,” Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh says pointedly.
As TIME reported earlier this year, Free Vietnam isn’t the only group of exiles accused of exporting terror from U.S. shores. In Long Beach, California, a storefront accountancy office doubles as the headquarters of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, where Cambodian-born Chhun Yasith is busy plotting to overthrow his home country’s government. On the walls are maps with arrows and circles marking battle plans, and they’re not just pipe dreams. Eight people were killed last November when CFF forces armed with B-40 rockets attacked Phnom Penh. Government forces repelled the attack. In June, 30 alleged rebels, including two Cambodian-born U.S. citizens, were given prison sentences ranging from three years to life for that assault. Last week 28 more went on trial. Yet, Yasith isn’t discouraged and says his next coup attempt is coming soon. “We’re going to take the whole country this time,” he insists. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Yasith seems an unlikely guerrilla: he wears gold rings and, when not planning coups, he prepares neighbors’ tax returns. Yet Cambodia takes the CFF very seriously and is demanding that U.S. authorities arrest Yasith�or at least make him stop. “The U.S. asks for help from everyone regarding terrorism,” complains Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith. “But so far it has a two-track policy.”
Why has the U.S. tolerated these groups for so long? The federal Neutrality Act forbids conspiring to overthrow a friendly government, and Washington has diplomatic relations with both Vietnam and Cambodia; Chanh and Yasith could face three years in prison. But diplomats say that Vietnam and Cambodia haven’t offered Washington proof that they are involved in terror acts. Their own admissions could be dismissed as mere boasting.
The cold war may be over for most people, but the exiles say they still have “advisers” within the U.S. government. Yasith even claims to have had meetings inside the Pentagon. The State Department hotly denies that claim�and any link with the exile groups. U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Kent Wiedemann describes Yasith as “delusional” and says the FBI is actively gathering evidence against the CFF.
So far, though, neither of the troublesome exiles say they’re feeling heat. Yasith spends his nights making calls to Thailand and Cambodia, marshaling his “secret army,” confident that U.S. authorities are winking and looking the other way. “They’ve never given me a red light,” Yasith says. “That means there’s a green light.” But everyone’s world changed on Sept. 11�and the trouble with green lights is they can always turn red.
Terrorism Made in USA:
A Look at US Foreign Policy
that Doesn’t Make the News
Terrorism Made in USA: A Look at US Foreign Policy that Doesn’t Make the News
By El Bicho
On October 6, 1976, a passenger plane with 73 people aboard crashed into the ocean just near Barbados. Two explosions brought the airliner down, four men, CIA trained, were responsible for this heinous act. Two of them sit behind bars; the other two roam free amongst us still touting the line that they will never surrender.
Terrorism Made in USA gives us a chance to hear the other side of the story about Latin America and what dealings the U.S. had going on south of the border. Posada Carriles is the man this documentary revolves around. He was trained by the CIA on taxpayer money to keep governments of Latin America in line with U. S. interests. Carriles, along with others such as Orlando Bosch, have become in the eyes of many Latin Americans terrorists equal to Bin Laden himself.
After the Second World War the fear of communism spread further than the revolution itself. This fear and the ideas behind it worked its way to Central and South America, prompting the U.S. to secure its backyard anyway it could. Back in the early ’50s the fear was all too real with Khrushchev pounding his fist and threatening, “We will bury you!” Bomb shelters were the latest home accessories next to televisions. There was a “Red” behind every banana leaf and they were out to invade the U.S. starting with Cuba.
This is where Mr. Posada Carriles was from. Coming from a poor upbringing, he joined Fulgencio Batista’s secret police force. Batista was the de facto ruler of Cuba from the early ’40s until the overthrow of his government on January 1, 1959. Fidel Castro’s peasant-led revolution, “26th of July Movement,” had taken over and the communist revolution sat on the back porch of the U.S. homeland. Cubans who had worked with the Batista administration and American business were terrified that they would face severe consequences for their actions as the communists took control.
Landing on American shores, they angrily gathered on the east coast of Florida, in cities such as Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. A melting pot of hatred towards Castro brewed in the packed Latino sections of these cities, a prime incubator for soldiers of the “cold war.” Here the CIA went looking for those who wanted to fight back against Castro and his ilk. Posada Carriles was one of those men. After being trained by the CIA he was tested on the beaches of the Bay of Pigs, then he went to Venezuela where he formed that country’s police force, the notorious DISIP. Murder and torture was his trademark, and he brought this wherever he went.
With interviews from eyewitnesses and survivors of the tortures and pains inflected by Carriles, director Angel Palacios explores the horrors left in the wake of men like this who proudly exclaim what they have done, reminding us that they will not stop until Castro and his commie buddies are all eliminated. Palacios doesn’t have to uncover anything because these people think they are doing the right thing. Even if it means killing innocent people who truly have nothing to do with this political chess game. The viewer will see how people such as Carriles and Bosh operated and grew like a small army and extended hand of the United States and how the Department of Commerce created a division called the “Global Deceives,” whose sole purpose was to find out what countries were working with Castro’s Cuba financially and to undermine them.
This documentary holds nothing back, and you hear directly from the perpetrators of these crimes in their own words as they were interviewed back when they were first apprehended. This movie will get you asking questions about what our role was in the world back in the ’50s and ’60s and what are role is and should be today. Watching this you see how true the old saying is about one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.
Posada Carriles – Terrorism Made in USA is one for any fan of history. Facts and truths are clearly given and there is no dispute about the evils these men have done. The fact that Castro is a bastard and has killed thousands shouldn’t mean that we have to stoop to his level to defeat him. Hugo Chavez is now taking Castro’s place on the world stage and South American countries have started going socialist on us.
So, these “black ops” plans for change south of the border really haven’t produced what our government actually wanted. And what happens if we start talks with Chavez and Castro, will these so called freedom fighters that we have trained and supplied turn on us? Do we have to fear another Oklahoma City bombing? Blowback is a bitch and this movie will show you where it could come from if we open up relations with Cuba again. If you are interested on how we do things in the shadows, Terrorism Made in USA is worth watching.
Side note: Guess where Orlando Bosch was on the day J.F.K was killed? Sitting on a curb in Dealey Plaza waiting for the President’s car to come by, and Mr. Bosch was no fan of President Kennedy by any means. Hmmm….interesting.
Written by Fumo Verde
2010 © Associated Content, All rights reserved.
9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, [First Edition]
byWebster Griffin Tarpley
A bombshell, brilliant book – I strongly recommend 911 Synthetic Terror. Should be required reading for all honest truth seekers. — Judy Andreas, Rense.com, March 18, 2006
Can’t stop reading; 9/11 Synthetic Terror is brilliantly written. Delivers a devastating judgment. Congratulations! I endorse it wholeheartedly. — Andreas von Buelow, Author of The CIA and 9/11.
September 11 was the true face of corporatized terror, said Tarpley on the “unanswered questions” of the socalled Official Story. — Mark Johnson, New York Magazine, March 27, 2006. –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
The thesis of Webster Tarpley’s 911 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA has been enthusiastically received with its working model of the 9/11 plot: a rogue network of moles, patsies, and a commando cell in the privatized intelligence services, backed by corrupt political and corporate media elites.
Buttressed by historical examples like the Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Gunpowder Plot, this model makes it clear how such a monstrous false-flag or self-terror exploit is possible even under a largely benign government. That paradox is the incredibility gap that has made most Americans reject the evidence about 9/11 as paranoid fantasy.
Tarpley brings decades of expertise to the 9/11 issue. Already in 1978 he had exposed the terrorist Red Brigades as patsies of Italy’s fascist P2 shadow government, and 9/11 is on the same pattern. The forthright subtitle, Made in USA, is backed up by an analysis of key figures who behave like moles working for the rogue network or parallel government.
9/11 Synthetic Terror highlights the salient points of sheer physical impossibility of the official 9/11 conspiracy theory. It then analyzes the psychological traits which make Anglo-American society gullible to artificial enemy images and unable to grasp the truth of 9/11.
Understanding how synthetic terror works, we see the weakness of the muddled “blowback” theories of terrorism and the spurious leads to Pakistan or Saudi Arabia that have marred many critiques of 9/11. Tarpley’s model makes it clear that figures like Osama bin Laden are patsies or double agents who were selected for their ethnic coloring as the basis for launching a “Clash of Civilizations,” and it is absurd to imagine that such tools of US intelligence agencies could turn around and infiltrate or overwhelm US defenses unaided.
9/11 Synthetic Terror is also firmly grounded in Great Power geopolitics. It shows that the wars on the Islamic world, the Soviet-Afghan, Kosovo and Chechen conflicts, as well as US-UK-NATO synthetic terror incidents like 9/11, Beslan or 3/11 in Madrid, have been contrived to continue the Cold War, in pursuit of the centuries-long campaign for Anglo hegemony over Eurasia and the world.
For a principled refutation of the 9/11 propaganda myth in all its parts, Tarpley’s work is indispensable.
“Posada Carriles: Terrorism Made in the USA.”
The documentary, “Posada Carriles: Terrorism Made in the USA.” will be shown at the Peace Center, 202 Harvard Dr SE, Albuquerque, NM at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, February 24, 2010. The 90 minute film documents the deplorable acts of terrorism against Cuba committed by Cuban born Luis Posada Carriles, a monster created by the CIA. Although he candidly admits his role in bombings, murder,…
American CIA behind all of this Terrorism
across the world
Debate that Dr.Latif Yahia took part in, the Title of the debate was “One man’s Freedom figher is another man’s terrorist”. The debate took place in Trinity College Dublin-Irland on 4th April 2007. http://www.latifyahia.com
Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat
By MARK MAZZETTI
Published: September 24, 2006
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
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The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.
An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.
The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.
More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document’s general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.
Officials with knowledge of the intelligence estimate said it avoided specific judgments about the likelihood that terrorists would once again strike on United States soil. The relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism, and the question of whether the United States is safer, have been subjects of persistent debate since the war began in 2003.
National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative documents that the intelligence community produces on a specific national security issue, and are approved by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence. Their conclusions are based on analysis of raw intelligence collected by all of the spy agencies.
Analysts began working on the estimate in 2004, but it was not finalized until this year. Part of the reason was that some government officials were unhappy with the structure and focus of earlier versions of the document, according to officials involved in the discussion.
Previous drafts described actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, and some policy makers argued that the intelligence estimate should be more focused on specific steps to mitigate the terror threat. It is unclear whether the final draft of the intelligence estimate criticizes individual policies of the United States, but intelligence officials involved in preparing the document said its conclusions were not softened or massaged for political purposes.
Frederick Jones, a White House spokesman, said the White House “played no role in drafting or reviewing the judgments expressed in the National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism.” The estimate’s judgments confirm some predictions of a National Intelligence Council report completed in January 2003, two months before the Iraq invasion. That report stated that the approaching war had the potential to increase support for political Islam worldwide and could increase support for some terrorist objectives.
Documents released by the White House timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks emphasized the successes that the United States had made in dismantling the top tier of Al Qaeda.
“Since the Sept. 11 attacks, America and its allies are safer, but we are not yet safe,” concludes one, a report titled “9/11 Five Years Later: Success and Challenges.” “We have done much to degrade Al Qaeda and its affiliates and to undercut the perceived legitimacy of terrorism.”
That document makes only passing mention of the impact the Iraq war has had on the global jihad movement. “The ongoing fight for freedom in Iraq has been twisted by terrorist propaganda as a rallying cry,” it states.
The report mentions the possibility that Islamic militants who fought in Iraq could return to their home countries, “exacerbating domestic conflicts or fomenting radical ideologies.”
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee released a more ominous report about the terrorist threat. That assessment, based entirely on unclassified documents, details a growing jihad movement and says, “Al Qaeda leaders wait patiently for the right opportunity to attack.”
The new National Intelligence Estimate was overseen by David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats, who commissioned it in 2004 after he took up his post at the National Intelligence Council. Mr. Low declined to be interviewed for this article.
The estimate concludes that the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups to include a new class of “self-generating” cells inspired by Al Qaeda’s leadership but without any direct connection to Osama bin Laden or his top lieutenants.
It also examines how the Internet has helped spread jihadist ideology, and how cyberspace has become a haven for terrorist operatives who no longer have geographical refuges in countries like Afghanistan.
In early 2005, the National Intelligence Council released a study concluding that Iraq had become the primary training ground for the next generation of terrorists, and that veterans of the Iraq war might ultimately overtake Al Qaeda’s current leadership in the constellation of the global jihad leadership.
But the new intelligence estimate is the first report since the war began to present a comprehensive picture about the trends in global terrorism.
In recent months, some senior American intelligence officials have offered glimpses into the estimate’s conclusions in public speeches.
“New jihadist networks and cells, sometimes united by little more than their anti-Western agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge,” said Gen. Michael V. Hayden, during a speech in San Antonio in April, the month that the new estimate was completed. “If this trend continues, threats to the U.S. at home and abroad will become more diverse and that could lead to increasing attacks worldwide,” said the general, who was then Mr. Negroponte’s top deputy and is now director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
For more than two years, there has been tension between the Bush administration and American spy agencies over the violence in Iraq and the prospects for a stable democracy in the country. Some intelligence officials have said the White House has consistently presented a more optimistic picture of the situation in Iraq than justified by intelligence reports from the field.
Spy agencies usually produce several national intelligence estimates each year on a variety of subjects. The most controversial of these in recent years was an October 2002 document assessing Iraq’s illicit weapons programs. Several government investigations have discredited that report, and the intelligence community is overhauling how it analyzes data, largely as a result of those investigations.
The broad judgments of the new intelligence estimate are consistent with assessments of global terrorist threats by American allies and independent terrorism experts.
The panel investigating the London terrorist bombings of July 2005 reported in May that the leaders of Britain’s domestic and international intelligence services, MI5 and MI6, “emphasized to the committee the growing scale of the Islamist terrorist threat.”
More recently, the Council on Global Terrorism, an independent research group of respected terrorism experts, assigned a grade of “D+” to United States efforts over the past five years to combat Islamic extremism. The council concluded that “there is every sign that radicalization in the Muslim world is spreading rather than shrinking.”
How the war on terror
made the world a more terrifying place
New figures show dramatic rise in terror attacks worldwide since the invasion of Iraq
By Kim Sengupta and Patrick Cockburn
Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Innocent people across the world are now paying the price of the “Iraq effect”, with the loss of hundreds of lives directly linked to the invasion and occupation by American and British forces.
An authoritative US study of terrorist attacks after the invasion in 2003 contradicts the repeated denials of George Bush and Tony Blair that the war is not to blame for an upsurge in fundamentalist violence worldwide. The research is said to be the first to attempt to measure the “Iraq effect” on global terrorism. It found that the number killed in jihadist attacks around the world has risen dramatically since the Iraq war began in March 2003. The study compared the period between 11 September 2001 and the invasion of Iraq with the period since the invasion. The count – excluding the Arab-Israel conflict – shows the number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to 5,420. As well as strikes in Europe, attacks have also increased in Chechnya and Kashmir since the invasion. The research was carried out by the Centre on Law and Security at the NYU Foundation for Mother Jones magazine.
Iraq was the catalyst for a ferocious fundamentalist backlash, according to the study, which says that the number of those killed by Islamists within Iraq rose from seven to 3,122. Afghanistan, invaded by US and British forces in direct response to the September 11 attacks, saw a rise from very few before 2003 to 802 since then. In the Chechen conflict, the toll rose from 234 to 497. In the Kashmir region, as well as India and Pakistan, the total rose from 182 to 489, and in Europe from none to 297.
Two years after declaring “mission accomplished” in Iraq President Bush insisted: “If we were not fighting and destroying the enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people.”
Mr Blair has also maintained that the Iraq war has not been responsible for Muslim fundamentalist attacks such as the 7/7 London bombings which killed 52 people. “Iraq, the region and the wider world is a safer place without Saddam [Hussein],” Mr Blair declared in July 2004. Announcing the deployment of 1,400 extra troops to Afghanistan earlier this week – raising the British force level in the country above that in Iraq – the Prime Minister steadfastly denied accusations by MPs that there was any link between the Iraq war an unravelling of security elsewhere.
Last month John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence in Washington, said he was “not certain” that the Iraq war had been a recruiting factor for al-Qa’ida and insisted: “I wouldn’t say that there has been a widespread growth in Islamic extremism beyond Iraq, I really wouldn’t.”
Yet the report points out that the US administration’s own National Intelligence Estimate on “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” – partially declassified last October – stated that “the Iraq war has become the ’cause célèbre’ for jihadists … and is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.”
The new study, by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, argues that, on the contrary, “the Iraq conflict has greatly increased the spread of al-Qa’ida ideological virus, as shown by a rising number of terrorist attacks in the past three years from London to Kabul, and from Madrid to the Red Sea.
“Our study shows that the Iraq war has generated a stunning increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and civilian lives lost. Even when terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal attacks in the rest of the world have increased by more than one third.”
In trying to gauge the “Iraq effect”, the authors had focused on the rate of terrorist attacks in two periods – from September 2001 to 30 March 2003 (the day of the Iraq invasion) and 21 March 2003 to 30 September 2006. The research has been based on the MIPT-RAND Terrorism database.
The report’s assertion that the Iraq invasion has had a far greater impact in radicalising Muslims is widely backed security personnel in the UK. Senior anti-terrorist officials told The Independent that the attack on Iraq, and the now-discredited claims by the US and British governments about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, had led to far more young Muslims engaging in extremist activity than the invasion of Afghanistan two years previously.
Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of the Secret Service (MI5) said recently: “In Iraq attacks are regularly videoed and the footage is downloaded into the internet.
“Chillingly, we see the results here. Young teenagers are being groomed to be suicide bombers. The threat is serious, is growing and will, I believe, be with us for a generation.”
In Afghanistan the most active of the Taliban commanders, Mullah Dadullah, acknowledged how the Iraq war has influenced the struggle in Afghanistan.
“We give and take with the mujahedin in Afghanistan”, he said. The most striking example of this has been the dramatic rise in suicide bombings in Afghanistan, a phenomenon not seen through the 10 years of war with the Russians in the 1980s.
The effect of Iraq on various jihadist conflicts has been influenced according to a number of factors, said the report. Countries with troops in Iraq, geographical proximity to the country, the empathy felt for the Iraqis and the exchange of information between Islamist groups. “This may explain why jihadist groups in Europe, Arab countries, and Afghanistan were more affected by the Iraq war than other regions”, it said.
Russia, like the US, has used the language of the “war on terror” in its actions in Chechnya, and al-Qa’ida and their associates have entrenched themselves in the border areas of Pakistan from where they have mounted attacks in Kashmir, Pakistan and India.
Statistics for the Arab-Israel conflict also show an increase, but the methodology is disputed in the case of Palestinian attacks in the occupied territories and settler attacks on Palestinians.
* The US is joining the Iraqi government in a diplomatic initiative inviting Iran and Syria to a “neighbours meeting” on stabilising Iraq, the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday. The move reflects a change of approach by the Bush administration, which previously had resisted calls to include Iran and Syria in such talks.
October 30, 2009
Chief of Pakistani- Pashtun Movement in Pakistan Hakimullah Mehsud has blamed the controversial American private firm Blackwater [Xe Services] for the bomb blast in Peshawar which killed over 117 [Pakistani] people, local news agency NNI reported Thursday.
The bomb, exploded at a crowded market at Chowk Yadgar [in Peshawar, Pakistan] on Wednesday [28 October 2009], also injured more than 250 [Pakistani] people.
Hakimullah Mehsud told media that if Pakistani-Pashtuns can carry out attacks in Islamabad and target Pakistan Army’s headquarters, then why they should target general public.
He claimed that American security agency Blackwater [Xe Services] and Pakistani agencies are involved in attacks in public places to [maliciously] blame the militants.
When asked that the people also think that the militants are involved in such attacks, the Pakistani-Pashtun leader was quoted as saying: “Our war is against the [PPP-ANP-MQM-JUIF corrupt and tyrannical] government and the security forces [of Pakistan] and not against the [Pakistani] people. We are not involved in blasts.”
Azam Tariq, the Pakistani-Pashtun spokesman, who was accompanying Hakimullah [Mehsud], warned that those [corrupt] media organizations [Geo News TV, ARY News TV, Dawn News TV, Dunya News TV, Samaa TV, Express News TV, Aaj TV, Business Plus TV, Channel 5 TV, Indus News TV, News One TV, PTV, Radio Pakistan, and other corrupt mercenary media of Pakistan] could be targeted which are [illegally and maliciously] defaming Pakistani-Pakhtoons.
Information Minister of Northwest Frontier Province [NWFP] Iftikhar Hussain and the Pakistan Army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas had [falsely, fraudulently and maliciously] blamed militants [without any legal evidence or prosecutable proof] for the Peshawar blast, [wrongly] saying that the militants are facing defeat in South Waziristan tribal region and are now targeting the people.
Pakistan Car Bomb Toll Passes 100
LONDON, UK, 29 October 2009 (BBC) – The head of the Pakistani-Pakhtoon Movement has denied responsibility for the [U.S. drone-missile or bomb] attack [of 28 October 2009 in Peshawar, Pakistan].
Hakimullah Mehsud told the BBC that the latest attack was orchestrated by the Americans and Pakistani intelligence agencies “to malign the name of the Pakistani-Pakhtoons”.
“If we are able to attack sensitive installations… as well as the [Pakistan Army] General Headquarters [GHQ], then why would we need to attack ordinary people?” he asked in brief telephone interview.
“Our war is only against the [corrupt and tyrannical PPP-ANP-MQM-JUIF] government and the security forces [of Pakistan]. The common people are not part of it”, he replied.
Pakistan Car Bomb Toll Passes 100
LONDON, UK, 29 October 2009 (BBC) – The head of the Pakistani-Pakhtoon Movement has denied responsibility for the [U.S. drone-missile or bomb] attack [of 28 October 2009 in Peshawar, Pakistan].
Hakimullah Mehsud told the BBC that the latest attack was orchestrated by the Americans and Pakistani intelligence agencies “to malign the name of the Pakistani-Pakhtoons”.
“If we are able to attack sensitive installations… as well as the [Pakistan Army] General Headquarters [GHQ], then why would we need to attack ordinary people?” he asked in brief telephone interview.
“Our war is only against the [corrupt and tyrannical PPP-ANP-MQM-JUIF] government and the security forces [of Pakistan]. The common people are not part of it”, he replied.
The BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad [Pakistan] says that Mr. [Hakimullah] Mehsud’s denial of Pakistani-Pashtuns’ involvement is likely to be met with much scepticism, even though an increasing number of people do not rule out the involvement of U.S. security agencies in attacks in the country.
Can American War Criminal Hillary Rodham Clinton Control U.S. CIA in illegally Occupied Afghanistan?
Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan
November 23, 2009
At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.
The Rachel Maddow Show : The Nation‘s Jeremy Scahill on the revelation that Blackwater bribed local Iraqis following the Nisour Square massacre.
Arms Spending & Proliferation
Tom Engelhardt: Armed drone aircraft in Afghanistan and Pakistan are only the latest wonder weapon to promise us the world.
Jeremy Scahill: Inside sources reveal that the firm works with the US military in Karachi to plan targeted assassinations and drone bombings, among other sensitive counterterrorism operations.
Jeremy Scahill: Top Blackwater staff authorized attempted bribes of Iraqi officials in the wake of the 2007 Nisour Square massacre, the New York Times has reported.
Jeremy Scahill: Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Carol Shea-Porter argue that since Adam Hermanson died while working on a Defense Department contract, the DoD is obliged to investigate.
The source, who has worked on covert US military programs for years, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has direct knowledge of Blackwater’s involvement. He spoke to The Nation on condition of anonymity because the program is classified. The source said that the program is so “compartmentalized” that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.
The White House did not return calls or email messages seeking comment for this story. Capt. John Kirby, the spokesperson for Adm. Michael Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Nation, “We do not discuss current operations one way or the other, regardless of their nature.” A defense official, on background, specifically denied that Blackwater performs work on drone strikes or intelligence for JSOC in Pakistan. “We don’t have any contracts to do that work for us. We don’t contract that kind of work out, period,” the official said. “There has not been, and is not now, contracts between JSOC and that organization for these types of services.”
The previously unreported program, the military intelligence source said, is distinct from the CIA assassination program that the agency’s director, Leon Panetta, announced he had canceled in June 2009. “This is a parallel operation to the CIA,” said the source. “They are two separate beasts.” The program puts Blackwater at the epicenter of a US military operation within the borders of a nation against which the United States has not declared war–knowledge that could further strain the already tense relations between the United States and Pakistan. In 2006, the United States and Pakistan struck a deal that authorized JSOC to enter Pakistan to hunt Osama bin Laden with the understanding that Pakistan would deny it had given permission. Officially, the United States is not supposed to have any active military operations in the country.
Blackwater, which recently changed its name to Xe Services and US Training Center, denies the company is operating in Pakistan. “Xe Services has only one employee in Pakistan performing construction oversight for the U.S. Government,” Blackwater spokesperson Mark Corallo said in a statement to The Nation, adding that the company has “no other operations of any kind in Pakistan.”
A former senior executive at Blackwater confirmed the military intelligence source’s claim that the company is working in Pakistan for the CIA and JSOC, the premier counterterrorism and covert operations force within the military. He said that Blackwater is also working for the Pakistani government on a subcontract with an Islamabad-based security firm that puts US Blackwater operatives on the ground with Pakistani forces in counter-terrorism operations, including house raids and border interdictions, in the North-West Frontier Province and elsewhere in Pakistan. This arrangement, the former executive said, allows the Pakistani government to utilize former US Special Operations forces who now work for Blackwater while denying an official US military presence in the country. He also confirmed that Blackwater has a facility in Karachi and has personnel deployed elsewhere in Pakistan. The former executive spoke on condition of anonymity.
His account and that of the military intelligence source were borne out by a US military source who has knowledge of Special Forces actions in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When asked about Blackwater’s covert work for JSOC in Pakistan, this source, who also asked for anonymity, told The Nation, “From my information that I have, that is absolutely correct,” adding, “There’s no question that’s occurring.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me because we’ve outsourced nearly everything,” said Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, when told of Blackwater’s role in Pakistan. Wilkerson said that during his time in the Bush administration, he saw the beginnings of Blackwater’s involvement with the sensitive operations of the military and CIA. “Part of this, of course, is an attempt to get around the constraints the Congress has placed on DoD. If you don’t have sufficient soldiers to do it, you hire civilians to do it. I mean, it’s that simple. It would not surprise me.”
The Counterterrorism Tag Team in Karachi
The covert JSOC program with Blackwater in Pakistan dates back to at least 2007, according to the military intelligence source. The current head of JSOC is Vice Adm. William McRaven, who took over the post from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC from 2003 to 2008 before being named the top US commander in Afghanistan. Blackwater’s presence in Pakistan is “not really visible, and that’s why nobody has cracked down on it,” said the source. Blackwater’s operations in Pakistan, he said, are not done through State Department contracts or publicly identified Defense contracts. “It’s Blackwater via JSOC, and it’s a classified no-bid [contract] approved on a rolling basis.” The main JSOC/Blackwater facility in Karachi, according to the source, is nondescript: three trailers with various generators, satellite phones and computer systems are used as a makeshift operations center. “It’s a very rudimentary operation,” says the source. “I would compare it to [CIA] outposts in Kurdistan or any of the Special Forces outposts. It’s very bare bones, and that’s the point.”
Blackwater’s work for JSOC in Karachi is coordinated out of a Task Force based at Bagram Air Base in neighboring Afghanistan, according to the military intelligence source. While JSOC technically runs the operations in Karachi, he said, it is largely staffed by former US special operations soldiers working for a division of Blackwater, once known as Blackwater SELECT, and intelligence analysts working for a Blackwater affiliate, Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), which is owned by Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince. The military source said that the name Blackwater SELECT may have been changed recently. Total Intelligence, which is run out of an office on the ninth floor of a building in the Ballston area of Arlington, Virginia, is staffed by former analysts and operatives from the CIA, DIA, FBI and other agencies. It is modeled after the CIA’s counterterrorism center. In Karachi, TIS runs a “media-scouring/open-source network,” according to the source. Until recently, Total Intelligence was run by two former top CIA officials, Cofer Black and Robert Richer, both of whom have left the company. In Pakistan, Blackwater is not using either its original name or its new moniker, Xe Services, according to the former Blackwater executive. “They are running most of their work through TIS because the other two [names] have such a stain on them,” he said. Corallo, the Blackwater spokesperson, denied that TIS or any other division or affiliate of Blackwater has any personnel in Pakistan.
The US military intelligence source said that Blackwater’s classified contracts keep getting renewed at the request of JSOC. Blackwater, he said, is already so deeply entrenched that it has become a staple of the US military operations in Pakistan. According to the former Blackwater executive, “The politics that go with the brand of BW is somewhat set aside because what you’re doing is really one military guy to another.” Blackwater’s first known contract with the CIA for operations in Afghanistan was awarded in 2002 and was for work along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
One of the concerns raised by the military intelligence source is that some Blackwater personnel are being given rolling security clearances above their approved clearances. Using Alternative Compartmentalized Control Measures (ACCMs), he said, the Blackwater personnel are granted clearance to a Special Access Program, the bureaucratic term used to describe highly classified “black” operations. “With an ACCM, the security manager can grant access to you to be exposed to and operate within compartmentalized programs far above ‘secret’–even though you have no business doing so,” said the source. It allows Blackwater personnel that “do not have the requisite security clearance or do not hold a security clearance whatsoever to participate in classified operations by virtue of trust,” he added. “Think of it as an ultra-exclusive level above top secret. That’s exactly what it is: a circle of love.” Blackwater, therefore, has access to “all source” reports that are culled in part from JSOC units in the field. “That’s how a lot of things over the years have been conducted with contractors,” said the source. “We have contractors that regularly see things that top policy-makers don’t unless they ask.”
According to the source, Blackwater has effectively marketed itself as a company whose operatives have “conducted lethal direct action missions and now, for a price, you can have your own planning cell. JSOC just ate that up,” he said, adding, “They have a sizable force in Pakistan–not for any nefarious purpose if you really want to look at it that way–but to support a legitimate contract that’s classified for JSOC.” Blackwater’s Pakistan JSOC contracts are secret and are therefore shielded from public oversight, he said. The source is not sure when the arrangement with JSOC began, but he says that a spin-off of Blackwater SELECT “was issued a no-bid contract for support to shooters for a JSOC Task Force and they kept extending it.” Some of the Blackwater personnel, he said, work undercover as aid workers. “Nobody even gives them a second thought.”
The military intelligence source said that the Blackwater/JSOC Karachi operation is referred to as “Qatar cubed,” in reference to the US forward operating base in Qatar that served as the hub for the planning and implementation of the US invasion of Iraq. “This is supposed to be the brave new world,” he says. “This is the Jamestown of the new millennium and it’s meant to be a lily pad. You can jump off to Uzbekistan, you can jump back over the border, you can jump sideways, you can jump northwest. It’s strategically located so that they can get their people wherever they have to without having to wrangle with the military chain of command in Afghanistan, which is convoluted. They don’t have to deal with that because they’re operating under a classified mandate.”
In addition to planning drone strikes and operations against suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan for both JSOC and the CIA, the Blackwater team in Karachi also helps plan missions for JSOC inside Uzbekistan against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, according to the military intelligence source. Blackwater does not actually carry out the operations, he said, which are executed on the ground by JSOC forces. “That piqued my curiosity and really worries me because I don’t know if you noticed but I was never told we are at war with Uzbekistan,” he said. “So, did I miss something, did Rumsfeld come back into power?”
Pakistan’s Military Contracting Maze
Blackwater, according to the military intelligence source, is not doing the actual killing as part of its work in Pakistan. “The SELECT personnel are not going into places with private aircraft and going after targets,” he said. “It’s not like Blackwater SELECT people are running around assassinating people.” Instead, US Special Forces teams carry out the plans developed in part by Blackwater. The military intelligence source drew a distinction between the Blackwater operatives who work for the State Department, which he calls “Blackwater Vanilla,” and the seasoned Special Forces veterans who work on the JSOC program. “Good or bad, there’s a small number of people who know how to pull off an operation like that. That’s probably a good thing,” said the source. “It’s the Blackwater SELECT people that have and continue to plan these types of operations because they’re the only people that know how and they went where the money was. It’s not trigger-happy fucks, like some of the PSD [Personal Security Detail] guys. These are not people that believe that Barack Obama is a socialist, these are not people that kill innocent civilians. They’re very good at what they do.”
The former Blackwater executive, when asked for confirmation that Blackwater forces were not actively killing people in Pakistan, said, “that’s not entirely accurate.” While he concurred with the military intelligence source’s description of the JSOC and CIA programs, he pointed to another role Blackwater is allegedly playing in Pakistan, not for the US government but for Islamabad. According to the executive, Blackwater works on a subcontract for Kestral Logistics, a powerful Pakistani firm, which specializes in military logistical support, private security and intelligence consulting. It is staffed with former high-ranking Pakistani army and government officials. While Kestral’s main offices are in Pakistan, it also has branches in several other countries.
A spokesperson for the US State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), which is responsible for issuing licenses to US corporations to provide defense-related services to foreign governments or entities, would neither confirm nor deny for The Nation that Blackwater has a license to work in Pakistan or to work with Kestral. “We cannot help you,” said department spokesperson David McKeeby after checking with the relevant DDTC officials. “You’ll have to contact the companies directly.” Blackwater’s Corallo said the company has “no operations of any kind” in Pakistan other than the one employee working for the DoD. Kestral did not respond to inquiries from The Nation.
According to federal lobbying records, Kestral recently hired former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, who served in that post from 2003 to 2005, to lobby the US government, including the State Department, USAID and Congress, on foreign affairs issues “regarding [Kestral’s] capabilities to carry out activities of interest to the United States.” Noriega was hired through his firm, Vision Americas, which he runs with Christina Rocca, a former CIA operations official who served as assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs from 2001 to 2006 and was deeply involved in shaping US policy toward Pakistan. In October 2009, Kestral paid Vision Americas $15,000 and paid a Vision Americas-affiliated firm, Firecreek Ltd., an equal amount to lobby on defense and foreign policy issues.
For years, Kestral has done a robust business in defense logistics with the Pakistani government and other nations, as well as top US defense companies. Blackwater owner Erik Prince is close with Kestral CEO Liaquat Ali Baig, according to the former Blackwater executive. “Ali and Erik have a pretty close relationship,” he said. “They’ve met many times and struck a deal, and they [offer] mutual support for one another.” Working with Kestral, he said, Blackwater has provided convoy security for Defense Department shipments destined for Afghanistan that would arrive in the port at Karachi. Blackwater, according to the former executive, would guard the supplies as they were transported overland from Karachi to Peshawar and then west through the Torkham border crossing, the most important supply route for the US military in Afghanistan.
According to the former executive, Blackwater operatives also integrate with Kestral’s forces in sensitive counterterrorism operations in the North-West Frontier Province, where they work in conjunction with the Pakistani Interior Ministry’s paramilitary force, known as the Frontier Corps (alternately referred to as “frontier scouts”). The Blackwater personnel are technically advisers, but the former executive said that the line often gets blurred in the field. Blackwater “is providing the actual guidance on how to do [counterterrorism operations] and Kestral’s folks are carrying a lot of them out, but they’re having the guidance and the overwatch from some BW guys that will actually go out with the teams when they’re executing the job,” he said. “You can see how that can lead to other things in the border areas.” He said that when Blackwater personnel are out with the Pakistani teams, sometimes its men engage in operations against suspected terrorists. “You’ve got BW guys that are assisting… and they’re all going to want to go on the jobs–so they’re going to go with them,” he said. “So, the things that you’re seeing in the news about how this Pakistani military group came in and raided this house or did this or did that–in some of those cases, you’re going to have Western folks that are right there at the house, if not in the house.” Blackwater, he said, is paid by the Pakistani government through Kestral for consulting services. “That gives the Pakistani government the cover to say, ‘Hey, no, we don’t have any Westerners doing this. It’s all local and our people are doing it.’ But it gets them the expertise that Westerners provide for [counterterrorism]-related work.”
The military intelligence source confirmed Blackwater works with the Frontier Corps, saying, “There’s no real oversight. It’s not really on people’s radar screen.”
In October, in response to Pakistani news reports that a Kestral warehouse in Islamabad was being used to store heavy weapons for Blackwater, the US Embassy in Pakistan released a statement denying the weapons were being used by “a private American security contractor.” The statement said, “Kestral Logistics is a private logistics company that handles the importation of equipment and supplies provided by the United States to the Government of Pakistan. All of the equipment and supplies were imported at the request of the Government of Pakistan, which also certified the shipments.”
Who is Behind the Drone Attacks?
Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated, the United States has expanded drone bombing raids in Pakistan. Obama first ordered a drone strike against targets in North and South Waziristan on January 23, and the strikes have been conducted consistently ever since. The Obama administration has now surpassed the number of Bush-era strikes in Pakistan and has faced fierce criticism from Pakistan and some US lawmakers over civilian deaths. A drone attack in June killed as many as sixty people attending a Taliban funeral.
In August, the New York Times reported that Blackwater works for the CIA at “hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft.” In February, The Times of London obtained a satellite image of a secret CIA airbase in Shamsi, in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan, showing three drone aircraft. The New York Times also reported that the agency uses a secret base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to strike in Pakistan.
The military intelligence source says that the drone strike that reportedly killed Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, his wife and his bodyguards in Waziristan in August was a CIA strike, but that many others attributed in media reports to the CIA are actually JSOC strikes. “Some of these strikes are attributed to OGA [Other Government Agency, intelligence parlance for the CIA], but in reality it’s JSOC and their parallel program of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] because they also have access to UAVs. So when you see some of these hits, especially the ones with high civilian casualties, those are almost always JSOC strikes.” The Pentagon has stated bluntly, “There are no US military strike operations being conducted in Pakistan.”
The military intelligence source also confirmed that Blackwater continues to work for the CIA on its drone bombing program in Pakistan, as previously reported in the New York Times, but added that Blackwater is working on JSOC’s drone bombings as well. “It’s Blackwater running the program for both CIA and JSOC,” said the source. When civilians are killed, “people go, ‘Oh, it’s the CIA doing crazy shit again unchecked.’ Well, at least 50 percent of the time, that’s JSOC [hitting] somebody they’ve identified through HUMINT [human intelligence] or they’ve culled the intelligence themselves or it’s been shared with them and they take that person out and that’s how it works.”
The military intelligence source says that the CIA operations are subject to Congressional oversight, unlike the parallel JSOC bombings. “Targeted killings are not the most popular thing in town right now and the CIA knows that,” he says. “Contractors and especially JSOC personnel working under a classified mandate are not [overseen by Congress], so they just don’t care. If there’s one person they’re going after and there’s thirty-four people in the building, thirty-five people are going to die. That’s the mentality.” He added, “They’re not accountable to anybody and they know that. It’s an open secret, but what are you going to do, shut down JSOC?”
In addition to working on covert action planning and drone strikes, Blackwater SELECT also provides private guards to perform the sensitive task of security for secret US drone bases, JSOC camps and Defense Intelligence Agency camps inside Pakistan, according to the military intelligence source.
Mosharraf Zaidi, a well-known Pakistani journalist who has served as a consultant for the UN and European Union in Pakistan and Afghanistan, says that the Blackwater/JSOC program raises serious questions about the norms of international relations. “The immediate question is, How do you define the active pursuit of military objectives in a country with which not only have you not declared war but that is supposedly a front-line non-NATO ally in the US struggle to contain extremist violence coming out of Afghanistan and the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan?” asks Zaidi, who is currently a columnist for The News, the biggest English-language daily in Pakistan. “Let’s forget Blackwater for a second. What this is confirming is that there are US military operations in Pakistan that aren’t about logistics or getting food to Bagram; that are actually about the exercise of physical violence, physical force inside of Pakistani territory.”
JSOC: Rumsfeld and Cheney’s Extra Special Force
Colonel Wilkerson said that he is concerned that with General McChrystal’s elevation as the military commander of the Afghan war–which is increasingly seeping into Pakistan–there is a concomitant rise in JSOC’s power and influence within the military structure. “I don’t see how you can escape that; it’s just a matter of the way the authority flows and the power flows, and it’s inevitable, I think,” Wilkerson told The Nation. He added, “I’m alarmed when I see execute orders and combat orders that go out saying that the supporting force is Central Command and the supported force is Special Operations Command,” under which JSOC operates. “That’s backward. But that’s essentially what we have today.”
From 2003 to 2008 McChrystal headed JSOC, which is headquartered at Pope Air Force Base and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where Blackwater’s 7,000-acre operating base is also situated. JSOC controls the Army’s Delta Force, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, as well as the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron. JSOC performs strike operations, reconnaissance in denied areas and special intelligence missions. Blackwater, which was founded by former Navy SEALs, employs scores of veteran Special Forces operators–which several former military officials pointed to as the basis for Blackwater’s alleged contracts with JSOC.
Since 9/11, many top-level Special Forces veterans have taken up employment with private firms, where they can make more money doing the highly specialized work they did in uniform. “The Blackwater individuals have the experience. A lot of these individuals are retired military, and they’ve been around twenty to thirty years and have experience that the younger Green Beret guys don’t,” said retired Army Lieut. Col. Jeffrey Addicott, a well-connected military lawyer who served as senior legal counsel for US Army Special Forces. “They’re known entities. Everybody knows who they are, what their capabilities are, and they’ve got the experience. They’re very valuable.”
“They make much more money being the smarts of these operations, planning hits in various countries and basing it off their experience in Chechnya, Bosnia, Somalia, Ethiopia,” said the military intelligence source. “They were there for all of these things, they know what the hell they’re talking about. And JSOC has unfortunately lost the institutional capability to plan within, so they hire back people that used to work for them and had already planned and executed these [types of] operations. They hired back people that jumped over to Blackwater SELECT and then pay them exorbitant amounts of money to plan future operations. It’s a ridiculous revolving door.”
While JSOC has long played a central role in US counterterrorism and covert operations, military and civilian officials who worked at the Defense and State Departments during the Bush administration described in interviews with The Nation an extremely cozy relationship that developed between the executive branch (primarily through Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) and JSOC. During the Bush era, Special Forces turned into a virtual stand-alone operation that acted outside the military chain of command and in direct coordination with the White House. Throughout the Bush years, it was largely General McChrystal who ran JSOC. “What I was seeing was the development of what I would later see in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Special Operations forces would operate in both theaters without the conventional commander even knowing what they were doing,” said Colonel Wilkerson. “That’s dangerous, that’s very dangerous. You have all kinds of mess when you don’t tell the theater commander what you’re doing.”
Wilkerson said that almost immediately after assuming his role at the State Department under Colin Powell, he saw JSOC being politicized and developing a close relationship with the executive branch. He saw this begin, he said, after his first Delta Force briefing at Fort Bragg. “I think Cheney and Rumsfeld went directly into JSOC. I think they went into JSOC at times, perhaps most frequently, without the SOCOM [Special Operations] commander at the time even knowing it. The receptivity in JSOC was quite good,” says Wilkerson. “I think Cheney was actually giving McChrystal instructions, and McChrystal was asking him for instructions.” He said the relationship between JSOC and Cheney and Rumsfeld “built up initially because Rumsfeld didn’t get the responsiveness. He didn’t get the can-do kind of attitude out of the SOCOM commander, and so as Rumsfeld was wont to do, he cut him out and went straight to the horse’s mouth. At that point you had JSOC operating as an extension of the [administration] doing things the executive branch–read: Cheney and Rumsfeld–wanted it to do. This would be more or less carte blanche. You need to do it, do it. It was very alarming for me as a conventional soldier.”
Wilkerson said the JSOC teams caused diplomatic problems for the United States across the globe. “When these teams started hitting capital cities and other places all around the world, [Rumsfeld] didn’t tell the State Department either. The only way we found out about it is our ambassadors started to call us and say, ‘Who the hell are these six-foot-four white males with eighteen-inch biceps walking around our capital cities?’ So we discovered this, we discovered one in South America, for example, because he actually murdered a taxi driver, and we had to get him out of there real quick. We rendered him–we rendered him home.”
As part of their strategy, Rumsfeld and Cheney also created the Strategic Support Branch (SSB), which pulled intelligence resources from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA for use in sensitive JSOC operations. The SSB was created using “reprogrammed” funds “without explicit congressional authority or appropriation,” according to the Washington Post. The SSB operated outside the military chain of command and circumvented the CIA’s authority on clandestine operations. Rumsfeld created it as part of his war to end “near total dependence on CIA.” Under US law, the Defense Department is required to report all deployment orders to Congress. But guidelines issued in January 2005 by former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone stated that Special Operations forces may “conduct clandestine HUMINT operations…before publication” of a deployment order. This effectively gave Rumsfeld unilateral control over clandestine operations.
The military intelligence source said that when Rumsfeld was defense secretary, JSOC was deployed to commit some of the “darkest acts” in part to keep them concealed from Congress. “Everything can be justified as a military operation versus a clandestine intelligence performed by the CIA, which has to be informed to Congress,” said the source. “They were aware of that and they knew that, and they would exploit it at every turn and they took full advantage of it. They knew they could act extra-legally and nothing would happen because A, it was sanctioned by DoD at the highest levels, and B, who was going to stop them? They were preparing the battlefield, which was on all of the PowerPoints: ‘Preparing the Battlefield.’”
The significance of the flexibility of JSOC’s operations inside Pakistan versus the CIA’s is best summed up by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Every single intelligence operation and covert action must be briefed to the Congress,” she said. “If they are not, that is a violation of the law.”
Blackwater: Company Non Grata in Pakistan
For months, the Pakistani media has been flooded with stories about Blackwater’s alleged growing presence in the country. For the most part, these stories have been ignored by the US press and denounced as lies or propaganda by US officials in Pakistan. But the reality is that, although many of the stories appear to be wildly exaggerated, Pakistanis have good reason to be concerned about Blackwater’s operations in their country. It is no secret in Washington or Islamabad that Blackwater has been a central part of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that the company has been involved–almost from the beginning of the “war on terror”–with clandestine US operations. Indeed, Blackwater is accepting applications for contractors fluent in Urdu and Punjabi. The US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, has denied Blackwater’s presence in the country, stating bluntly in September, “Blackwater is not operating in Pakistan.” In her trip to Pakistan in October, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dodged questions from the Pakistani press about Blackwater’s rumored Pakistani operations. Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, said on November 21 he will resign if Blackwater is found operating anywhere in Pakistan.
The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that Blackwater “provides security for a US-backed aid project” in Peshawar, suggesting the company may be based out of the Pearl Continental, a luxury hotel the United States reportedly is considering purchasing to use as a consulate in the city. “We have no contracts in Pakistan,” Blackwater spokesperson Stacey DeLuke said recently. “We’ve been blamed for all that has gone wrong in Peshawar, none of which is true, since we have absolutely no presence there.”
Reports of Blackwater’s alleged presence in Karachi and elsewhere in the country have been floating around the Pakistani press for months. Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist who rose to fame after his 1997 interview with Osama bin Laden, claimed in a recent interview that Blackwater is in Karachi. “The US [intelligence] agencies think that a number of Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders are hiding in Karachi and Peshawar,” he said. “That is why [Blackwater] agents are operating in these two cities.” Ambassador Patterson has said that the claims of Mir and other Pakistani journalists are “wildly incorrect,” saying they had compromised the security of US personnel in Pakistan. On November 20 the Washington Times, citing three current and former US intelligence officials, reported that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, has “found refuge from potential U.S. attacks” in Karachi “with the assistance of Pakistan’s intelligence service.”
In September, the Pakistani press covered a report on Blackwater allegedly submitted by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to the federal interior ministry. In the report, the intelligence agencies reportedly allege that Blackwater was provided houses by a federal minister who is also helping them clear shipments of weapons and vehicles through Karachi’s Port Qasim on the coast of the Arabian Sea. The military intelligence source did not confirm this but did say, “The port jives because they have a lot of [former] SEALs and they would revert to what they know: the ocean, instead of flying stuff in.”
The Nation cannot independently confirm these allegations and has not seen the Pakistani intelligence report. But according to Pakistani press coverage, the intelligence report also said Blackwater has acquired “bungalows” in the Defense Housing Authority in the city. According to the DHA website, it is a large residential estate originally established “for the welfare of the serving and retired officers of the Armed Forces of Pakistan.” Its motto is: “Home for Defenders.” The report alleges Blackwater is receiving help from local government officials in Karachi and is using vehicles with license plates traditionally assigned to members of the national and provincial assemblies, meaning local law enforcement will not stop them.
The use of private companies like Blackwater for sensitive operations such as drone strikes or other covert work undoubtedly comes with the benefit of plausible deniability that places an additional barrier in an already deeply flawed system of accountability. When things go wrong, it’s the contractors’ fault, not the government’s. But the widespread use of contractors also raises serious legal questions, particularly when they are a part of lethal, covert actions. “We are using contractors for things that in the past might have been considered to be a violation of the Geneva Convention,” said Lt. Col. Addicott, who now runs the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas. “In my opinion, we have pressed the envelope to the breaking limit, and it’s almost a fiction that these guys are not in offensive military operations.” Addicott added, “If we were subjected to the International Criminal Court, some of these guys could easily be picked up, charged with war crimes and put on trial. That’s one of the reasons we’re not members of the International Criminal Court.”
If there is one quality that has defined Blackwater over the past decade, it is the ability to survive against the odds while simultaneously reinventing and rebranding itself. That is most evident in Afghanistan, where the company continues to work for the US military, the CIA and the State Department despite intense criticism and almost weekly scandals. Blackwater’s alleged Pakistan operations, said the military intelligence source, are indicative of its new frontier. “Having learned its lessons after the private security contracting fiasco in Iraq, Blackwater has shifted its operational focus to two venues: protecting things that are in danger and anticipating other places we’re going to go as a nation that are dangerous,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”
About Jeremy Scahill
Jeremy Scahill, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, is the author of the bestselling Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, published by Nation Books. He is an award-winning investigative journalist and correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!. more…
International Law The First Casualty
of the Drone War
A comprehensive legal analysis of
U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan
ZMag | By Max Kantar | 12 December 2009
ABSTRACT. This report utilizes well-established principles of both treaty and customary international law as a measuring stick for attempting to determine the legal and moral legitimacy of the covert U.S. policy of using drones to attack targets in Pakistan. This analysis is unique in that it uses both broad assessments as well as pertinent individual case studies with the purpose of chronicling the details of several drone attacks over a period of 45 months in the interest of legal evaluation. Drawing from a vast collection of reliable press reports, independent human rights testimonies, and the most prominent, mainstream studies, this report is quite possibly the most comprehensive analysis on the topic to date and likely the first of its kind to appear in the wake of the US-Pakistan drone controversy.
For nearly four years, the United States has been using unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as “drones,” to repeatedly bomb targets in Pakistan.1 The drone strikes, operated primarily by the CIA, are reportedly launched with the intention of killing top al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders and holding the Pakistani government accountable. Since the Obama administration has taken office, the U.S. campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan has markedly intensified, consistent with the trends established in the final eight months President Bush’s second term. Although the bombings of Pakistan fall into a much broader strategic U.S. policy in the region, it is the purpose of this analysis to focus solely on the legal implications and human costs of the drone strikes in Pakistan.
First I will review the existing reports entailing the legal status—combatant or noncombatant—of those killed in U.S. attacks. Secondly, I will provide a brief and basic overview of the laws of war and their immediate applicability regarding the protection of civilians and noncombatants in international armed conflicts in accordance with the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Additional Protocols of 1977, and customary international law. Third, I will examine several case studies of various U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan in order to determine whether or not international law is being observed by United States. Fourth, I will briefly evaluate the fundamental legal credibility underlying the attacks using both the existing analyses provided by legal scholars and rights groups and well-established principles of law rooted in the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Fifth, using the available body of documentary evidence compiled by independent journalists, human rights groups, strategic analysts, media reports, and legal experts, as well as taking into consideration the basic tenets of international law in the context of the U.S. attacks, I will juxtapose the substance of U.S. actions with fundamental American legal standards with the purpose of establishing an appropriate technical classification for the United States’ drone policy in Pakistan. Lastly, I will conclude this analysis with a few final remarks addressing unanswered questions while also making some basic recommendations.
I am going to argue the position that the United States is in violation of international law on several counts in regards to its bombings of Pakistan. Drawing on highly relevant and uncontroversial legal precedents established by the International Criminal Court, I will argue that strict adherence to even the most elementary standards of international law would require criminal prosecution of several high-level Bush and Obama administration officials ranging from the state department to the CIA.
Casualty Reports and Assessments
The most cited and controversial report to date on the casualty results of U.S. drone strikes is the April 2009 report published by Pakistan’s leading English daily, The News.2 The report was authored by Amir Mir who is known by leading American strategic analysts as “a well-regarded Pakistani terrorism expert.”3 The report, relying on internal Pakistani government sources, alleges that from January 14, 2006 to April 8, 2009, U.S. drone bombings killed 687 civilians and 14 al-Qaeda operatives, amounting to a ratio of nearly 50 civilians killed for every al-Qaeda operative killed, or a 94% civilian death rate. Out of 60 total strikes, only 10 hit any al-Qaeda targets. The sources attributed the failed drone attacks to “faulty intelligence information” which resulted in the “killing [of] hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children.” It goes on to detail the numbers of deaths, the statuses of the victims, and the dates of specific attacks, all within annual and monthly time frames.
This report has since been cited and endorsed by several relevant and mainstream commentators, despite the fact that it has been largely ignored, or at best, marginalized and down-played, by the mainstream media in the United States. Most notably, in a meeting with Congress this past May, former senior counterinsurgency advisor to the U.S. Army, David Kilcullen, told the U.S. government to “call off the drones” noting that “since 2006, we’ve killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we’ve killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area.” In a New York Times article4 just weeks later, Kilcullen co-authored an editorial with Andrew Exum—a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a former Army officer who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan—in which they cited the casualty ratio and figures from The News’ April 2009 report as evidence of the lack of precision in the drone policy.5
The Brookings Institution published an analysis of the U.S. drone policy in Pakistan last July.6 The analysis, written by Senior Fellow, Daniel Byman, concluded that despite the difficulty in determining exact numbers of civilian casualties, it was likely that “more than 600 civilians” have been killed by U.S. attacks at the time of writing. “That number suggests,” the report continued, “that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.” This assessment is highly significant for multiple reasons. The centrist Brookings Institution is arguably the most powerful and influential think tank in the United States, as noted by the authoritative Think Tank Index magazine. Brookings also routinely garners by far the most media citations annually.7 To say the least, it is quite noteworthy that the most mainstream and establishment think tank in the United States has gone on record saying that 90% of those killed in U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have been innocent civilians.
Two of America’s leading counterterrorism experts, Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, are the authors of the most recent analysis of casualties resulting from U.S. drone strikes.8 In their analysis, Bergen and Tiedemann attempt to calculate the numbers of people killed by U.S. drone strikes from January 2006 to October 19, 2009. For documentation, the authors rely on “accounts from reliable media organizations with substantial reporting capabilities in Pakistan.”9 Bergen and Tiedemann ultimately conclude that between 757-1,012 people have been killed by U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, of which 252-316 (33-31%) are thought to have been civilians. The Bergen-Tiedemann analysis, while ambitious and certainly of some limited value, does in fact contain multiple, glaring errors. The report cites two drone strikes (January and October) for the year 2006 and concludes that no known civilians were killed in either attack. For the January attack, the authors claim that 18 al-Qaeda/Taliban militants were killed by the drone strike and cite a CNN report to justify their conclusions.10 However, the CNN report cited by the authors is dated July 29, 2008 and explicitly states that the respective al-Qaeda operative—whom the article is about—was not killed in 2006 (despite inaccurate reports at the time) but rather is thought to have been killed over two years later in 2008.11 While the July 2008 CNN report cited by Bergen and Tiedemann in fact makes no mention of civilian deaths nor does it provide a casualty total for the January 2006 attack, it has long since been conceded that each of the 18 killed in the January 2006 strike have been identified as civilians and no al-Qaeda operatives were among the dead.12
In regards to the October 2006 strike in Bajaur province, the only citation provided by the authors is either inaccessible or nonexistent; however, it’s irrelevant because the Pakistani newspaper, DAWN, covered the strike in detail at the time and it subsequently contradicts the authors’ assertions that the 80+ people killed were militants.13 When the Bergen-Tiedemann findings are adjusted to correct their mistakes for casualties in 2006, the civilian death toll becomes 352-416 or 46-41% (respectively) of the total body count.
Furthermore, there appear to be significant gaps in the authors’ calculations of the range of civilians likely to have been killed in drone strikes launched in the year 2009. For example, in appendix 1, each drone strike documented details the number of people killed for each of the following groups: Al Qaeda/Taliban leaders, Al-Qaeda/Taliban (lower-level militants), and “others” which includes civilians and often times, the total number killed in the particular attack. In the list of strikes and casualties for the year of 2009, the total number of “others” exceeds considerably the range of civilian deaths cited by the authors for the same time period (see appendix 2) even when the total of the “others” is derived after subtracting the corresponding tallies of militants and militant leaders (when the distinction is made). This suggests that the authors are willing to, at times, assume that unconfirmed, or rather, unidentified victims14 may be included in the possible range of militants killed but not in the corresponding civilian totality. These assumptions undermine the validity of Bergen and Tiedemann’s calculations for the year 2009 (of militant-civilian ratios) and subsequently suggest that the number of civilian casualties in 2009 may be significantly higher than conveyed by the numbers produced by Bergen and Tiedemann. This problem is compounded by the fact that of the 43 drone strikes launched in 2009 (up to October 19) in 12 cases, the number of people killed, as well as the legal status of the victims, was “unknown”—due to no fault of the authors—and therefore could not be factored into the ratio calculations at all.
For the years 2007 and 2008, the authors’ findings, classifications, and citations appear to be consistent with the available documentary record. The rate of “unknown” casualties is also much lower for these periods. It is worth noting that for 2008, according to the Bergen-Tiedemann analysis, nearly 60% of the casualties were found to have likely been civilians.
Overall, the Bergen-Tiedemann analysis—especially when adjusted for its demonstrable factual errors for drone strikes in 2006—reveals that a very large number of those killed by U.S. drone strikes are in fact civilian noncombatants (between 41-46%). Moreover, when one considers the aforementioned gaps in the Bergen-Tiedemann findings as well as the ambiguity and obscurity entailed in a considerable number of media reports regarding the legal status of the victims, it seems reasonable to conclude that the civilian death toll may indeed be considerably higher, as suggested by the other analyses cited here. Either way, it is apparent that civilians are being killed a rate close to that of suspected low-level militants, if not significantly higher.
In addition, it is important to note that many Pakistanis have since been killed by drone strikes in the months following the publication of both the Brookings analysis and the Bergen-Tiedemann casualty report. Many more have been killed—likely well over two hundred—in the seven months that have passed since the Mir report was published in The News.
Due to both the covert nature of the U.S. attacks as well as the difficulty of verifying testimonies, events, and reports from Pakistan’s often tumultuous tribal regions, it is virtually impossible to confirm or establish exact casualty numbers of militants and civilians. Many of the media reports cited in the Bergen-Tiedemann analysis, for example, are problematic due to the fact that reported casualty numbers and legal statuses of the victims are quite often derived solely from the statements of government officials who, as Bergen and Tiedemann openly concede, are more than likely to make sweeping claims that only militants, and no civilians, were killed in any given strike.15 Yet in spite of these difficulties, observers have every reason to suspect and reasonably conclude that, as all of the aforementioned reports suggest, civilians are being killed a rate close to that of suspected low-level militants, if not at a rate that greatly exceeds the numbers of suspected militants and leaders killed. Furthermore, it is a matter of zero controversy that the intended targets—high-level leaders of al-Qaeda/Taliban—are rarely killed; of the roughly 1,000 people killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, only about twenty were leaders of militant organizations.
The U.S. government essentially has a policy of not speaking publicly about the drone attacks in Pakistan, except of course, when on extremely rare occasions, they hit their “high value” targets. Officials do routinely claim though, that the attacks are “very precise and [are] very limited in terms of collateral damage.”16 However when asked for evidence to back up their claims—perhaps just a list of civilian casualties to prove their assertions—officials always refuse. One of the leading investigative journalists in the U.S., Gareth Porter, writes that the government’s “refusal to share…even the most basic data on the bombing attacks…suggests that managers of the drone attacks programs have been using the total secrecy surrounding the program to hide abuses and high civilian casualties.”17 Indeed, if the attacks are in fact minimizing civilian casualties, why wouldn’t the government produce evidence to set the record straight? Surely releasing such information is not a matter of security; the government regularly brags about the fifteen or so al-Qaeda leaders they have killed. The truth is, of course, that by all informed and independent accounts, the drone attacks are killing a very significant number of innocent and defenseless civilians. Until the government—or anyone else for that matter—provides evidence to contradict the existing documentary record, interested parties will have to reject unqualified, unsubstantiated, and self-serving claims that the U.S. attacks are minimizing civilian killings.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the international community considerably expanded on the system of international humanitarian law specifically applicable to states, largely—though not exclusively—with the purpose of officially criminalizing the wartime actions and practices of the Nazis. The primary achievement of these efforts has been the establishment of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which serve as the bedrock of international humanitarian law. In the decades following the war, the international community continued to expand on and codify the laws of war and the basic inalienable rights of all peoples. In 1977 two amendment protocols were added to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, known as Additional Protocol I and II, respectively.18 Just over a decade prior to these amendments, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and was enshrined into the system of international law in March of 1976.19
The Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions relates specifically to the “Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts” and is widely understood to represent customary international law. It has been a key document—perhaps the key document—in the International Criminal Tribunal prosecutions of war criminals in regards to conflicts in Sierra Leone, the Former Yugoslavia, and The Democratic Republic of Congo.
It should be noted that while the United States is a signatory to the Additional Protocols of 1977 it has not yet acted to ratify them. With a handful of exceptions aside, virtually the entire world—168 states—has ratified the Protocols, including every European state. Despite having actively been involved in drafting the Protocols along with every other major world power, the U.S. refused, and presumably continues to refuse ratification on the basis that, Protocol I in particular, “legitimize[s] groups involved in wars of national liberation,”[20. “Geneva Conventions,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2009
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2009 Microsoft Corporation.] a claim that, even if it were true—the Protocols were designed strictly to protect all civilian populations—it is not morally clear why that would be undesirable, especially given the revolutionary history of the Americans.20
Furthermore, it is generally accepted—even by the United States—that the principles and provisions outlined in the Additional Protocols fundamentally reflect customary international law, applicable to all states regardless of circumstance.21 The applicability of customary law has been reaffirmed by the Statute of the International Court of Justice which states that The Court in its rulings and deliberations “shall apply [among other sources] international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law.”22 Likewise, in an official declaration and appeal on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Additional Protocols, the International Committee of the Red Cross clearly stated that the 1977 amendments largely “already form a set of rules of customary law valid for every State, whether or not it is party to the Protocols” (emphasis added).23 This principle of universal customary international law—specifically as it applies to the Protocols—was also reaffirmed yet again as recently as ten years ago by the highest criminal court in the world when the ICC ruled on the principle of discrimination—a core provision and theme in Protocol I—and its universal and longstanding applicability “in all armed conflicts.”24
It is also of considerable significance that the Additional Protocols of the Geneva Conventions have been absolutely vital in their role in helping to bring war criminals to justice in international prosecutions that were indeed supported by the United States, most notably in the case of the Former Yugoslavia.25 Even momentarily putting aside the universal principle of customary international law, certainly all would agree that if it is proper to convict some war criminals on the basis of the provisions in the Protocols, then it is appropriate that the respective principles should apply to all parties in all armed conflicts. It is for these reasons that I will argue that the basic provisions and principles in the Additional Protocols in actuality do apply to the United States and its drone policy specifically. Likewise, I will also argue that the major breaches of international law—those cited and reviewed in this analysis—committed by the U.S. in its drone attacks indeed constitute violations of universal customary international humanitarian law in accordance with the opinion of the International Committee for the Red Cross.26
In the forthcoming case studies of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, I will focus attention primarily on the following Articles of Additional Protocol I: Article 17 (Role of the civilian population and of aid societies), Article 51 (Protection of the civilian population), Article 52 (General Protection of civilian objects), Article 53 (Protection of cultural objects and places of worship), and Article 57 (Precautions in attack).27 These Articles and the fundamental provisions and principles which they largely—if not entirely—represent, reflect the well-established and generally uncontroversial rules of customary international humanitarian law.28 In these instances for the sake of concision and clarity, I will cite the aforementioned Articles from Protocol I. It stems from these presumptions then that in the following case studies it is to be assumed that invocations of the most basic principles in Protocol I constitute customary international humanitarian law.
As a matter of clarification, the case studies reviewed here have been selected not for their uniqueness, but precisely for their relative, practical equivalence in relation to other U.S. attacks on Pakistani targets. While it is true that some cases have been specifically chosen to illustrate certain violations, on the whole the selected cases are, more or less, typical of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.
After evaluating the impending case studies in the context of these Articles, I will briefly introduce Article 6 of Additional Protocol II and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with the purpose of establishing a slightly different though highly relevant framework for evaluating the principle presupposition underlying the legal rationale for the U.S. attacks.
Case Study #1
The first case study selected is the September 8, 2008 missile attack on a North Waziristan village. The drones fired at least five missiles at a religious school founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani—a Taliban leader (who was formerly financed by the CIA) and the official target of the U.S. attack. At least 17 people were killed with some estimates reaching as high as 23.29 Of those killed, at least eight were children. Haqqani’s wife, sister, and sister-in-law were all killed as well. Roughly twenty were wounded, most of which were women and children according to doctors on the scene. Haqqani was not present at the time of the bombing.30
This attack clearly constitutes a violation of Article 51(2) which states that “the civilian population…shall not be the object of attack.” Even if we accept the claim that the target of the attack was legitimate, the strike was launched directly at a school—by definition, probably containing children—which is obviously a civilian center. Under Article 52(3) the law clearly states that “in case of doubt whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes such as…a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed NOT to be so used.”
Firing several powerful missiles into one building is definitively indiscriminate in terms of distinguishing between military and civilian targets. Article 51(4) clearly prohibits attacks which fail to discriminate between military and civilian objects and targets. It states that “an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated” is prohibited.
It also seems evident that the U.S. planners of the bombings did not take the necessary precautions required by Article 57 to make certain that civilians would not be the object of attack. Section 2 of Article 57 states that “those who plan or decide upon an attack” must take “all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of the attack with a view to avoiding…[or] minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life….” Planners of the military action must “do everything feasible to verify that the objectives to be attacked are neither civilians nor civilian objects….” No evidence was or has since been produced that would suggest any such precautions were taken in earnest. It should be further noted that the documentary record of U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan reveals a disturbing trend of inadequate and insufficient efforts to comply with this aspect of international law. In the next case study I will take a closer look at these trends in particular.
Case Study #2
In one of the earliest drone attacks in Pakistan, the U.S. fired several missiles—as many as ten—into the village of Damadola, located in the Bajaur tribal area on January 13, 2006. According to The Washington Post, “the target was a dinner celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.” The individual whom the U.S. was hoping to kill was Ayman al-Zawahiri, an al-Qaeda deputy. The CIA had reportedly received some evidence—possibly derived from an interrogation of another al-Qaeda operative—that al-Zawahiri was going to be attending the holiday dinner.31 This case study will deal with two major aspects of apparent legal violations, namely those of indiscriminate attacks and the failure to take the required precautions in carrying out the attack.
Initially, U.S. and Pakistani officials declared that up to four members of al-Qaeda were killed in the bombings. ABC News could hardly contain its euphoria over the killings and declared the Muslim holiday gathering to be a “terror summit.”32 When the dust settled after the blasts, at least three houses were totally destroyed and at least 18 people were killed, with some reports putting the death toll as high as 22.33 By all accounts, five children and five women were among the dead while 14 of the dead were likely from the same family.34 Furthermore, it has since been confirmed that the “terror summit” was nothing of the sort, with U.S. and Pakistani officials later admitting that “none of those al-Qaeda leaders” previously alleged to have “perished in the strike” were in fact killed, noting that “only local villagers were killed.”35
This attack constitutes a flagrant violation of several Articles of Protocol I and customary law in general. A home hosting a religious holiday dinner is not of military character and could not qualify as a military objective unless it was clear that the home itself was “by [its] nature, location, purpose, or use [making] an effective contribution to military action” in accordance with Article 52(2). If it is true that U.S. planners of the attack struck the home with the intent of killing Ayman al-Zawahiri, this would also constitute a major breach of the principle of discrimination. According to Article 51(5) an attack is considered indiscriminate when “bombardment by any methods or means…treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village, or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians and civilian objects.” Also indiscriminate is “an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life…which would be excessive in relation to the…direct military advantage.”
It appears that the U.S. attack, by the first definition of an indiscriminate attack hardly even rises to the level of indiscrimination; while militants likely may have been known to frequent the area, there was no reported distinct military objective in the immediate area which was attacked. Undoubtedly, CIA operatives were certainly aware of the fact that bombing a civilian object which might or might not contain a “high value target” would absolutely be expected to cause “incidental loss of civilian life,” though one could hardly call such killings “incidental” in light of the predictable and well-understood consequences of such an undertaking. In a public statement summarizing its letter of concern to then-President Bush, Amnesty International arrived at similar conclusions:
“…the fact that air surveillance, witnessed by local people, took place for several days before the attack indicates that those ordering the attack on the basis of this information were very likely to have been aware of the presence of women and children and others unconnected with political violence in the area of the attack.”36
The attack seems to fall unambiguously into the category of Article 51(2) which states that “the civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack” under any circumstance. Given the apparent level of practical information likely to have been possessed by the planners of the attack prior to the actual strike, the bombing appears to constitute a willful and direct attack on civilians. The next case study will review this particular principle more closely. For the moment though, I will continue forward on to the second major aspect of legal accountability in the current case study.
From the reports cited above it appears that the “evidence” possessed by the CIA regarding the supposed presence of Ayman al-Zawahiri at the dinner party stemmed from “from the interrogation of another al-Qaeda leader, Abu Faraj al-Libi, who had been captured eight months earlier.” It is almost certain that al-Libi was tortured into providing such information,37 which according to Pakistani intelligence, turned out to be totally false rather than just “slightly off.”38 In this context it appears quite likely that U.S. planners did not even begin to approach their minimal obligations required by all forms of law to, as it is stated in Article 57(4) “take all reasonable precautions to avoid losses of civilian lives and damage to civilian objects.” Section 2 makes clear that planners of the attack must “do everything feasible to verify that the objectives to be attacked are neither civilians nor civilian objects.” Commanders are required under the same section to “refrain from deciding to launch any attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life….” A small bit of information provided from one man (likely under considerable duress) clearly does not constitute “doing everything feasible to verify” the information, and more importantly, to verify that civilians would not be in the line of fire. If this could not be verified or guaranteed to a reasonable degree, the strike should not have been permitted. The obvious fact, as noted above, is that bombing entire houses to ostensibly kill one or more individuals inside, simply cannot be a lawful discriminatory attack unless it is absolutely clear that only lawful military targets are inside and that the physical object of attack is being used for military objectives.
In all of the casualty reports cited in this paper, the primary explanation provided for the overwhelming civilian death toll in comparison with alleged actual targets is the use of poor and unreliable evidence by the attackers. When reviewing the numerous media reports of individual drone attacks, the issue of unsubstantiated and sloppy evidence is a constantly reoccurring theme. Several mainstream press reports have surfaced over the past several months which suggest that the CIA is essentially playing Russian roulette with the lives of Pakistani people living in the tribal areas. In their June analysis of U.S. drone policy, TIME magazine wrote that “tribesmen have told TIME of agents who drop microchips near targets; the drones can lock onto these to guide their missiles or bombs with pinpoint precision.”39 The Guardian has reported similar findings, citing local testimony as well as a Taliban video capturing a young man confessing to dropping microchips at random houses in exchange for payment from the CIA.40 While some officials have written off the confession as “extremist propaganda” journalist Gareth Porter cites a “knowledgeable” internal Washington source who says that “the Guardian article is consistent with past CIA intelligence-gathering methods” in the region. The source told Porter, “We buy everything. Everything is paid for.”41
The Guardian was also told by “a former CIA officer who served Waziristan [a tribal area in Pakistan] in 2006″ that “the CIA recruits a network of paid, and sometimes unwitting, informers” mostly comprised of “poor local men.”42 TIME describes similar findings through its own “reports from Waziristan.”
TIME goes on to report that the “thermal cameras” on which drone operators rely to verify their targets, “are notoriously imperfect. Even under ideal conditions, images can be blurry.” In perhaps the most chilling revelation, TIME writes that “in one of several stills from drone video seen by TIME, it’s hard to tell if a group of men is kneeling in prayer or [if] the men are militants in battle formation.” As one top security official told TIME, “the basic problem with all aerial reconnaissance is that it’s subject to error.”43
These findings suggest systematic and egregious violations of Article 57 of Protocol I regarding “Precautions in attack.” Taking all feasible precautions prior to carrying out military actions in order to ensure the protection of civilians and noncombatants is universally recognized as a fundamental principle of customary international law as well.44
Regrettably, such reports also coincide well with the documentary record of the bombings which reveal functionally methodological patterns of a total lack of precaution being taken over and over again in the U.S. campaign of drone strikes. Purchasing data seems inherently unreliable in itself, especially when those being paid and solicited are some of the most poor and desperate people in the world. The use of microchips is also inherently unreliable and insufficient as a means of taking precautions and verifying targets to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian objects, as is unequivocally obligatory by all interpretations of international humanitarian law. Coupled with the reportedly poor visibility of the drones’ thermal cameras, these practices are a virtual recipe for indiscriminate attacks and attacks on individual civilians and civilian populations, quite possibly constituting serious war crimes or crimes against humanity. Based upon available reports and evidence, as well as the tangible results of numerous U.S. attacks over an extended period of time it appears quite apparent that even minimal precautions—let alone “all reasonable precautions” which is required by law—are not being undertaken by U.S. planners. This suggests a callous disregard not only for well-established international law, but for innocent civilian life—including children—in Pakistan on the part of the United States government. There is no doubt that U.S. officials are certainly aware of the predictable consequences of their actions and the risks to civilian life that are being taken by those planning and carrying out the drone attacks.
Case Study #3
Case Study #3 will first address the principle of discrimination using a May 2008 bombing which successfully killed an alleged al-Qaeda target. Next, using as examples, two additional attacks, (October 2006 & October 2009) as well as the aforementioned May 2008 strike, I will briefly look at the role the U.S. attacks are playing in disrupting the then-Pakistani peace process.
On May 14, 2008 two hellfire missiles were fired into the Damadola area killing 12-15 people—possibly more—and injuring an untold number of others. The presumed target of the strike, Abu Suleiman al-Jazairi, “a highly experienced Algerian militant,” was killed in the attack.45 The buildings attacked by the drone included a two-story compound where “militants” were thought to be having dinner and the home of a local “militant commander.” Pakistani security officials “presume[d] that all those present there [had] been killed.” By all accounts, women and children were among the dead although the exact number is unknown.
This attack is unlike the previous case studies only in that it actually succeeded in hitting its target. The same principles apply in terms of the failure of the U.S. attackers to distinguish between military and civilian objects and targets. Like the previous case studies, the May 14, 2008 strike (henceforth “the May 2008 strike”) represents a clear violation of sections 4 and 5 of Article 51 which prohibits attacks that treat military and civilian objects as one in the same. Article 50(3) states that “the presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character.” The May 2008 strike has since proven to have killed perhaps over a dozen people—including women and children who under the law enjoy the highest protections against attack—in the process of assassinating one man.
In 1999, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia rejected the defendant, Stanislav Galic’s claims that the presence of military targets within a civilian center essentially justifies an indiscriminate attack. The Court ruled authoritatively that it is unlawful to “target” military objectives within a civilian area when the attacker could reasonably “expect excessive civilian causalities to result from the attack.” Citing a specific example, The Court ruled that
“Although the number of soldiers present at the game was significant, an attack on a crowd of approximately 200 people, including numerous children would clearly be expected to cause incidental loss of life and injuries to civilians excessive in relation to the direct and concrete military advantage anticipated.”
Likewise, it could easily be said for the May 2008 strike, as well as many other U.S. drone strikes, that
“Although the number of militants present in the [immediate] area was significant, an attack on buildings with at least fifteen people, including numerous women and children inside would clearly be expected to cause incidental loss of life and injuries to civilians excessive in relation to the direct and concrete military advantage anticipated.”
According to the same ruling, a strike can only be carried out if the “military character of a target has been ascertained.” It is not clear that U.S. planners were able to ascertain that the target of the May 2008 strike was of military character. Although it is unlikely, assuming that planners did in fact (incorrectly) ascertain the military character of the target, the strike is prohibited from being carried out if it is “expected to cause incidental loss of life, injury to civilians” and so forth. Also applicable to the earlier case studies, the International Criminal Court officially has taken the position civilian deaths of this kind can hardly be considered “incidental.” The ruling of the Trial Chamber deserves full quotation:
“…indiscriminate attacks, that is to say, attacks which strike civilians or civilian objects and military objectives without distinction, may qualify as direct attacks against civilians. It notes that indiscriminate attacks are expressly prohibited by Additional Protocol I. This prohibition reflects a well-established rule of customary law applicable in all armed conflicts (emphasis added).”
Thus, according to the Additional Protocols of the Geneva Conventions, well-established customary international law, and the ruling of the highest court in the world, indiscriminate attacks—the defining characteristic of U.S. drone strikes—which kill or injure civilians are not to be considered “accidental” or “unintentional” but rather “direct attacks against civilians.” Under the law, such attacks fall into the same category as a suicide bombing in the sense that it is by definition, nondiscriminatory and thereby considered to be plainly an attack on civilians. This reflects the principle of proportionality as it applies to discrimination.46
The second aspect of the May 2008 strike that needs to be addressed is the timing of the attack. According to a report issued in the prominent Pakistani newspaper, DAWN, which consistently provides reliable coverage from the tribal areas, “significantly, the missile strike came while a prisoner exchange was taking place between the government and militant commander, Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan.” The article goes on to quote a “militant spokesman, Maulvi Muhammad Omar” who observed that “the missile strike was an attempt by the United States to derail the peace process between militants and the government.”47 In itself, the timing may or may not have been incidental and the assertion that the U.S. was attempting to “derail” potential peace agreements could be equally subject to suspicion. However, the specific timing of such an attack turned out not to be an isolated incident. In at least two other known cases U.S. drones attacked tribal area people and infrastructure in what appears to have been an attempt to sabotage ceasefire/neutrality agreements with area militants and the government of Pakistan.
In late October of 2006 the U.S. attacked a religious seminary in the same area of Bajaur province in Damadola on precisely “the day the government was expected to sign a peace agreement with militants in Bajaur replicating the September 5 truce reached with militants in North Waziristan.” The attack predictably destroyed the possibility of the truce. DAWN reported that had the peace agreement been signed, it
“would have resulted in the grant of a pardon to the two most wanted militants, Maulana Faqir Mohammad and Maulvi Liaqat. Both had been charged with harboring and providing shelter to Al Qaeda operatives.”
Lending more credibility to the notion that the U.S. attacks were aimed at squashing a potential truce between the Pakistani government and the tribal area militants is the fact that there was no ostensible, declared, or even suspected “high value target” present at the scene of the October bombing. In fact, the strike was arguably the most blatant attack—and the most deadly—on a civilian population that the U.S. has carried out in Pakistan thus far. It has been confirmed that 82 people were killed in the strike on the religious school. While most of the victims were young male students in their early twenties “12 of them were said to be children in their early teens.”48 The fact that there was zero conceivable military advantage to the attack is further evidence that the strike may have been carried out for purely political reasons.
In another similar, more recent example, on October 21, 2009, a U.S missile strike in South Waziristan killed twelve people, likely including several children while maiming at least two girls, aged four and six.49 The strike was politically significant because, according to AP reports, “it hit territory controlled by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a militant leader the [Pakistani] army has coaxed into remaining neutral during the [army’s] offensive against the Mehsud faction in South Waziristan.”Pakistan’s military incursion into South Waziristan has been widely recognized as a policy derived from heavy and escalating U.S. pressure to confront tribal area militant strongholds in service of U.S. interests in occupied Afghanistan.The AP article goes on to report that the government of Pakistan “considers Bahadur, along with militant leader Maulvi Nazir of South Waziristan, lesser priorities because they focus on battling U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, not targets inside Pakistan.”50 Combined with the aforementioned examples, this fact lends serious credibility to the notion that the U.S. government indeed had a very strategic interest in using violence to destroy any neutrality agreements between Bahadur controlled militants and the Pakistani government. Furthermore it is not clear that any significant militant leader was being specifically targeted in the strike. A suspected al-Qaeda explosives expert, Abu Musa al Masri, was initially reported to have been killed in the attack, but U.S. intelligence officials have been admittedly unable to confirm this claim. It is worth noting that al Masri has been falsely reported dead on at least two prior occasions as well.51
Lastly, when considering the regional events which have unfolded in the months and years that have passed since the May 2008 strike and the October attacks of 2006 and 2009, it is not unrealistic or irrational to suspect that the U.S. indeed was pursuing a very real interest in blocking any sort of settlement between tribal militants and the Pakistani government. While it is not the purpose of this analysis to explore the entire geopolitical context of US-Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, it is certainly beyond reasonable debate that in the past several months—indeed since the Obama administration took office—the U.S. has strongly pushed and pressured the government of Pakistan to wage massive counterinsurgency campaigns against suspected militant strongholds in areas under Pakistani authority and sovereignty, as was seen, for example, in the Pakistani Army’s ruthless operation in the SWAT Valley in April and May of 2009, as well as the army’s incursion into South Waziristan which was launched in mid-October of 2009.
The purpose of raising questions in these cases regarding the purpose of individual U.S. attacks is to determine the legal implications of the nature of the strikes. If indeed the United States attacked on one or more occasions targets in Pakistan with the purpose of inflaming tensions between militants and the government in order to sabotage attempts at establishing a truce or ceasefire, the U.S. is potentially guilty of severe violations of the most fundamental rules of international law in making “the civilian population…the object of attacks,” in the pursuit of a political goal (Section 2 of Article 51). Nonetheless, regardless of the political purpose of the attacks reviewed in this particular case study, it appears that serious violations of international law were likely committed by the U.S. in terms of discrimination and proportionality, possibly amounting to serious war crimes.
Case Study #4
Case Study #4 contains accounts of two separate drone attacks. They have been grouped together in the interest of concision, and on the basis that the two incidents are characteristically similar and represent uniquely worrying developments in U.S. drone policy.
On Tuesday, May 19, 2009 three travelers passed through the village of Khaisor in North Waziristan. In keeping with traditional tribal area hospitality, local villagers served them a meal. Upon finishing their food, the travelers promptly moved on and left the village. These travelers happened to be members of the Taliban. U.S. drones, which routinely conduct surveillance flights of the area, apparently made note of the presence of the three Taliban men. At 4:30 a.m. the following morning (May 20th) a drone bombed the homes of the villagers who fed the men, ultimately “killing 14 women and children and two elders, [and] wounding 11.”52
It is almost certain that drone operatives were aware that the three militants had indeed left the area long before the strike was launched. If the drone operatives were keeping such close surveillance on the area as to notice the otherwise insignificant occurrence of three traveling men passing through the village, it is likely that they took note of the militants’ quick departure as well. The fact that the U.S. attacked the village the following day, well after the travelers had left, suggests that the bombing was intended to punish the villagers for feeding the ‘enemy’ by bombing their homes, in a clear attack on civilian noncombatants including several children. The attack was further likely meant to intimidate locals into not providing any hospitality or aid to suspected militants in the future.
There is no doubt that the Khaisor strike constitutes a flagrant violation of Article 51(2) which plainly rejects any notion that civilians may under any circumstance be the object of attack. More specific to this case, Article 51(6) explicitly forbids the use of violence against civilians as a means of revenge or intimidation: “Attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals are prohibited.” Article 52(1) goes on to say that “civilian objects shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals.”
Just less than one month later (June 18th) in Raghzai, South Waziristan, a U.S. drone fired two missiles into a compound, killing one person. Immediately, locals rushed to the scene to rescue wounded survivors. The drone, still hovering over the area, seized the opportunity and fired an additional two missiles at the villagers who were attempting to attend to the wounded, killing 12 more people, 13 in all.53 It was suspected that “Taliban commander,” Wali Mohammed, may have been the initial target of the attack. Mohammed was reportedly not in the compound.54
This attack is significant for its deliberate targeting of local people who hurried to the site of the attack in an attempt to provide aid and assistance to those who were wounded in the initial strike. It again appears that drone operatives may have bombed and killed hospitable local villagers in an attempt to both punish and intimidate the general civilian population for its own purposes. Not only are attacks which are leveled against civilian noncombatants expressly prohibited under all circumstances, but moreover, international law—by both treaty and custom—specifically prohibits attacks on noncombatants seeking to provide aid to the wounded. Article 17(1) states that “the civilian population and aid societies…shall be permitted, even on their own initiative, to collect and care for the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked, even in invaded or occupied territories. No one shall be harmed prosecuted, convicted, or punished for such humanitarian acts.” It is reasonable to conclude, based on the available evidence that both the attacks of May 20th and June 18th likely constitute considerable breaches of fundamental principles and provisions of all standards of international law which are applicable in all armed conflicts.
Case Study #5
On Tuesday, June 23, 2009, hundreds of Pakistanis attended a funeral in the Makeen district of South Waziristan for a suspected Taliban leader who was killed in a drone strike earlier that morning. Towards the end of the funeral as people were giving their last prayers, three missiles were fired from at least two U.S. drones directly into the crowd of mourners. Various reports put the death toll at roughly 70-80 people. Conservative estimates suggest that at least 35 of the dead were local villagers, among them ten children between the ages of 5-10 years old and four local tribal elders. Doctors told journalists and reporters that “most of the injured brought to them were [elderly] people.”55 According to one report at least 45 civilians were killed.56 Another account suggested that “mostly civilians were killed in the strikes.”57 Every report agrees on the fact that no prominent or significant militant leader was harmed in the attack.
By all standards, the missile strikes on the funeral constitute, at best, both a disproportionate attack and a categorical failure to discriminate between military and civilian objects and targets, which as noted in Case Study #3, legally qualifies as a direct attack on civilians. Worse yet, it seems beyond controversy that the U.S. attack violates Article 53(a) which prohibits all parties from committing “any acts of hostility directed against [among other things]…places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples.” Article 53(c) also prohibits “[making] such objects the object of reprisals.”
These prohibitions on attacking places of worship render any claims of the June 24th funeral strike being a legitimate attack null and void, regardless who might have been in attendance. No reasonable standard of what constitutes a military objective or military character could possibly be applied to an unsuspecting crowd of mourners and worshippers praying at a funeral.
Up until now, for the sake of evaluating the substance and results of the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan, I have been tacitly assuming that the drone strikes are legitimate under international law as long U.S. operatives take proper precautions and distinguish between civilian and military objects. Virtually all mainstream commentary in the United States—critical or otherwise—on U.S. drone policy functions with the fundamental presupposition that the U.S. government has the right to target and kill suspected leaders of militant organizations at its own discretion.
In an official public statement on January 31, 2006, Amnesty International summarized and expanded upon a letter it wrote to then-President George W. Bush regarding recent drone strikes in Bajaur [Tribal] Agency. In the letter, Amnesty expressed its concern that “a pattern of killings carried out with [the drones] appeared to reflect a U.S. government policy condoning extrajudicial executions.” The letter reiterated to the President that “extrajudicial executions are strictly prohibited under international human rights law. Anyone accused of an offence, however serious, has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and to have their guilt or innocence established in a regular court of law in a fair trial.”
While making note of the close security and intelligence relationship shared by the U.S. and Pakistan, Amnesty International observed the fact “that the USA believed they knew the location of suspects, [which] suggest[s] that it may have been possible to attempt to arrest the suspects in order to bring them to trial” rather than simply making assassination attempts. “The failure to attempt such arrest,” AI continued, “points to a policy of elimination of suspects and a deliberate disregard of the duty to prosecute in a fair process.”58 Although Amnesty was making reference to one particular attack, the same principles clearly could apply to all U.S. attempts at targeted killings of “high value targets” in Pakistan.
In addition to international human rights law, extrajudicial assassinations are prohibited in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United States has ratified. Article 6(1) states that “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life” (emphasis added). The subsequent Section of Article 6 further stipulates that the “penalty [of death] can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.”59
Also reflecting clear standards of international law is Article 6(2) of Additional Protocol II. The following provisions reflect principles similar to those outlined in the ICCPR and are specifically applicable if the U.S. in its drone strikes in Pakistani territory is perceived to be working in concert with the government of Pakistan. Section 2(d) reaffirms that “anyone charged with an offence is presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.” Section 2(e) of Article 6 stipulates that “anyone charged with an offence shall have the right to be tried in his presence.”60
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Philip Alston, has also criticized the drone strikes on the basis that “drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” Alston, who is also a professor of law at New York University and co-chair of the law school’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, has repeatedly called on U.S. administrations to disclose both the details of the drone program and the subsequent legal basis under which the program is being operated. So long as the U.S. government refuses to openly discuss its drone assassination policy, Alston says, “you have the really problematic bottom line that the CIA is running a program that is killing significant numbers of people and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international laws.”61
In the past, several U.S. administrations have attempted to legally justify their authority to arbitrarily assassinate people on the grounds that longstanding executive orders banning extrajudicial executions do not apply to anyone declared to be an “enemy commander.”62 This interpretation has no legal significance or acceptance among independent human rights groups, the International Court of Justice, the ICRC, the United Nations Council for Human Rights, or any other legitimate authority on international law. In fact, such an interpretation is virtually indistinguishable from the Bush administration’s claim that those whom the U.S. declare to be “enemy combatants” are not entitled to human rights protections and Prisoner of War status guaranteed to them under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Of course, these legal distortions have since been widely discredited, even rejected as illegitimate by David Petraeus, the Commanding General of the “Multi-National Force” in Iraq under former President Bush.63 The prohibition on extrajudicial executions is a core principle of both treaty law and customary law. U.S. drone attacks in this sense differ from the obviously illegal act of shooting a suspect on his knees in the back of the head with handgun only in that U.S. attacks often kill defenseless civilians at high rates, who often have no meaningful relation to any military conflict.
In this analysis of U.S. drone policy towards Pakistan I have reviewed the most prominent and mainstream casualty reports, numerous independent accounts compiled by journalists and human rights workers, and have generally drawn from an extremely diverse, credible, and international collection of media reports chronicling the details of several drone attacks over a period of 45 months. Using a broad range of international legal conventions, protocols, covenants, customs, and high court rulings, I have sought in earnest to determine the legal status of U.S. actions and policy. Based upon these uncontroversial and universal standards of law it appears beyond any reasonable legal objection that the United States in its nearly four year policy of bombing Pakistan with unmanned aerial vehicles is guilty of a very large amount of war crimes, including failure to take proper precautions in the interest of protecting civilian life, failing to discriminate between military and civilian objects, disproportionate attacks, extrajudicial executions, committing acts of hostility and violence against places of worship, direct attacks on the civilian population and individual civilians, willful attacks on civilians seeking to provide assistance to the wounded, and making civilian objects the object of attack and reprisal.
Furthermore, using the official legal standards of the United States government as articulated in the U.S. code—legislation which has passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate—it appears that the drone strikes would be technically classified as “international terrorism” which refers to “activities [transcending national boundaries] that— involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State…or that appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction [or] assassination….”64
Recalling the judgment of the International Criminal Court which ruled that indiscriminate attacks qualify as direct attacks against civilians and recognizing the nature of the strikes reviewed in Case Studies 3-5 in particular, it is the opinion of this analysis that the actions of the U.S. government in respect to its bombing campaign in Pakistan appear to have been often intended to intimidate or coerce civilian populations and to influence the conduct of the Pakistani government through violence. It is also certain that indiscriminate attacks, direct attacks on civilians, and extrajudicial assassinations would be clear violations of the criminal laws of the United States or of any other State.
This report has generally avoided the potential issues of aggression and violation of sovereignty due to the widespread belief, both in the United States and Pakistan, that the Pakistani government while publicly opposing most drone attacks has indeed privately given the U.S. the green light to carry out such attacks. However, even if the allegations are true, it is unclear if the consent of the government of Pakistan has any substantial effect on the U.S. policy. Also, it is notable that according to public opinion polls, the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis, 76%, are opposed to the U.S. strikes, with 80% entirely opposed to U.S. involvement in Pakistan’s internal struggle against terrorism.65 The argument could certainly be made that the U.S. strikes do in fact constitute a violation of the Charter of the United Nations under Article 2(4) as well as a violation of the principles of the Nuremburg Tribunal which not only prohibits the crime of aggression but declares it to be “the supreme international crime.”
Nevertheless, the documentary evidence of the nature, practice, and results of U.S. bombings juxtaposed with well-established principles of international law suggests the near-certainty of the commission of many war crimes over a sustained period of time on the part of the United States government. In light of these implications, it is the opinion of this analysis that the U.S. government should declare an immediate and unconditional moratorium on drone strikes and “targeted killings” of any kind, in Pakistan or elsewhere. It is also the opinion of this analysis that an independent fact-finding commission should be appointed by the United Nations to gather data and testimonies in order to investigate these allegations further. In the United States, representative government bodies should immediately take measures to declassify CIA and State Department documents regarding existing legal memos on the use of targeted killings and all other relevant information concerning the human costs of the drone policy. Congress might also subpoena officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations and the Central Intelligence Agency to testify under oath to this end. If indeed it is determined by either Congress or the UN fact finding commission that abuses and violations have likely taken place, those responsible should be charged and tried in the International Criminal Court, in accordance with reasonably analogous precedents and the basic guidelines of international law.
Max Kantar is an independent writer and Michigan based human rights activist. He frequently writes on U.S. foreign policy, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, social justice, and mainstream American media coverage. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (military aircraft without people inside them) which are operated by computer remote control. The drones are capable of carrying several Hellfire missiles and multiple 500-pound laser-guided bombs. Drones are also used extensively for surveillance purposes. In the case of US strikes in Pakistan, the drones are guided and monitored from Creech Air Force base in the state of Nevada. It is not matter of certainty where the actual drones are launched from. Although it was previously assumed that the drones were being launched from military bases in Afghanistan, Senator Diane Feinstein told a U.S. Senate hearing in February that the drones were being flown from an air base inside Pakistan. ↩
- Amir Mir, “60 drone hits kill 14 al-Qaeda men, 687 civilians,” The News, April 10, 2009, http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=21440. ↩
- Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, “The Drone War,” The New Republic, June 3, 2009, http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2009/drone_war_13672. ↩
- David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum, “Death From Above, Outrage Down Below,” New York Times, May 17, 2009. ↩
- It should be noted though that the authors did express reservations about the certainty or lack thereof regarding the casualty numbers provided in the April report published in The News. However, given Kilcullen’s repeated endorsement of the April report, readers might reasonably attribute this mild reservation to Exum. ↩
- Daniel L. Byman, “Do Targeted Killings Work?,” Brookings, July 14, 2009, http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2009/0714_targeted_killings_byman.aspx. ↩
- “About Brookings,” Brookings, http://www.brookings.edu/about/reputation.aspx. See the reports linked for Think Tank Index and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. ↩
- Peter Bergen & Katherine Tiedemann, “Revenge of the Drones: An Analysis of Drone Strikes in Pakistan,” The New America Foundation, October 19, 2009, http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/revenge_drones. ↩
- The media organizations consistently and exclusively cited by Bergen and Tiedemann include (in their own words) “reports in the New York Times, Washington Post, (sic.) ↩
- CNN, “Official: Al Qaeda weaons expert likely killed in U.S. airstrike,” July 29, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/07/29/pakistan.strike/index.html. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Craig Whitlock, “The New Al-Qaeda Central,” The Washington Post, September 9, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/08/AR2007090801845.html. ↩
- Anwarullah Khan, “82 die as missiles rain on Bajaur: Pakistan owns up to strike; locals blame US drones,” DAWN, October 31, 2006, http://www.dawn.com/2006/10/31/top1.htm. Note: In regards to the title which suggests that the Pakistani government may have been responsible for carrying out the strike, this claim has since been categorically abandoned by the Pakistani government. It is now a matter of zero controversy that US drones were indeed responsible for the attack, just as the locals had been saying all along. Bergen and Tiedemann also are apparently unaware of this development as they noted reservations about the identity of the attacker. For clarification: Christina Lamb, “US carried out madrasah bombing,” The Sunday Times, November 26, 2006, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article650044.ece. ↩
- ‘Unconfirmed’ or ‘unidentified’ in this instance refers to the legal status (rather than the name) of those killed in drone attacks. ↩
- Bergen & Tiedemann, “Revenge of the Drones.” See appendix 2. It is worth mentioning that for 2009, and generally speaking, a considerable majority of the media reports cited relies heavily, if not exclusively, on statements from government sources. Such information should be reviewed with general skepticism for the reason that, as virtually every independent observer has acknowledged, civilian casualties are inevitable in drone strikes due to, among other factors, the poorly constructed tribal infrastructure, systematically unreliable intelligence, the civilian nature of the areas surrounding suspected compounds, and the civilian nature of many of the objects attacked by drones (such as homes). ↩
- CNN, “U.S. airstrikes in Pakistan called ‘very effective,’” May 18, 2009, http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/18/cia.pakistan.airstrikes/. ↩
- Gareth Porter, “US-Pakistan: CIA Secrecy on Drone Attacks Data Hides Abuses,” Inter Press Service News Agency, June 12, 2009, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=47196. ↩
- International Humanitarian Law – Treaties and Documents, “Geneva Conventions of 1949 & Additional Protocols,” International Committee of the Red Cross, http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/CONVPRES?OpenView. Any reference made to the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols henceforth can be cross checked or reviewed here where the full text of all four conventions and all three protocols can be accessed. ↩
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm. Any reference made to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights henceforth can be cross checked or reviewed here where the full text of the Covenant can be accessed. ↩
- It is widely understood that the fear of “legitimizing national liberation movements” had much to do with Palestinian nationalism (the PLO) and resistance to US-backed Israeli occupation. It is also likely that this object stemmed largely in part from longtime US fears of what postwar planners called “radical third world nationalism,” meaning quite literally, popular movements in poor countries aimed at improving the living standards of the poor majority at the expense of catering to foreign investors. ↩
- “Geneva Conventions,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia. ↩
- “Statute of the Court,” International Court of Justice, http://www.icj-cij.org/documents/index.php?p1=4&p2=2&p3=0. ↩
- Cornelio Sommaruga, “Appeal by the International Committee of the Red Cross on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Additional Protocols of 1977,” International Review of the Red Cross, http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/57JNUX. ↩
- “The Prosecutor v. Stanislav Galic: Judgment and Opinion,” Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, December 12, 2003 (http://sim.law.uu.nl/sim/caselaw/tribunalen.nsf/6c3f0d5286f9bf3cc12571b500329d62/31f622000d199e48c12571fe004be26e?OpenDocument). See the second heading, “Attack on Civilians as a Violation of the Laws or Customs of War” and correspondingly, section 57. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- International Committee of the Red Cross, “List of customary rules of international humanitarian law,” March 31, 2005, http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/customary-law-rules-291008. ↩
- To be clear, until otherwise stated, all following references to “Articles” of international law in respect to the case studies should be assumed to be derived from Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. ↩
- International Committee of the Red Cross, “List of customary rules of international humanitarian law.” ↩
- Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, “U.S. attack on Taliban kills 23 in Pakistan,” New York Times, September 9, 2008. ↩
- “Civilian deaths in Pakistan attack,” Al Jazeera English, September 8, 2009, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2008/09/2008985226998512.html. ↩
- Whitlock, “The New Al-Qaeda Central.” ↩
- Habibullah Khan and Brian Ross, “U.S. Strike Killed Al-Qaeda Bomb Maker,” ABC News, January 18, 2006, http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=1517986. ↩
- Christina Lamb, “Airstrike misses Al-Qaeda Chief,” The Sunday Times, January 15, 2006, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article788673.ece. ↩
- Imtiaz Ali in Damadola and Massoud Ansari, “Pakistan fury as CIA airstrike on village kills 18,” The Daily Telegraph, January 15, 2006, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/1507895/Pakistan-fury-as-CIA-airstrike-on-village-kills-18.html. ↩
- Whitlock, “The New Al-Qaeda Central.” ↩
- Amnesty International, “Pakistan: US involvement in civilian deaths,” January 31, 2006, http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGASA330022006. ↩
- It has been well documented by Human Rights Watch as well as others that Pakistani security forces routinely torture prisoners and detainees. It is simply rational to assume that a fairly high-level al-Qaeda operative like al-Libi was also tortured into providing, what turned out to be, false information. ↩
- Whitlock, “The New Al-Qaeda Central.” ↩
- Bobby Ghosh and Mark Thompson, “The CIA’s Silent War in Pakistan,” TIME, June 1, 2009. ↩
- Declan Walsh, “Mysterious ‘chip’ is CIA’s latest weapon against al-Qaida targets hiding in Pakistan’s tribal belt,” The Guardian, May 31, 2009. ↩
- Porter, “US-Pakistan: CIA Secrecy on Drone Attacks Data Hides Abuses.” ↩
- Walsh, “Mysterious ‘chip’ is CIA’s latest weapon….” ↩
- Ghosh and Thompson, “The CIA’s Secret War….” ↩
- ICRC, “List of customary rules of international humanitarian law.” ↩
- Jason Burke, “Al-Qaeda chief dies in missile air strike,” The Guardian, June 1, 2008. ↩
- “The Prosecutor v. Stanislav Galic: Judgment and Opinion,” Netherlands Institute of Human Rights. Again, see the second heading, “Attack on Civilians as a Violation of the Laws or Customs of War” and correspondingly, section 57. ↩
- Anwarullah Khan, “12 killed in drone attack on Damadola,” DAWN, May 15, 2008, http://www.dawn.com/2008/05/15/top5.htm. ↩
- Khan, “82 die as missiles rain on Bajaur: Pakistan owns up to strike; locals blame US drones.” ↩
- Hussain Afzal and Nahal Toosi, “Missile strike could complicate Pakistan battle,” Associated Press, October 21, 2009, http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/10/21/missile-strike-could-complicate-pakistan-battle/ (accessed November 15, 2009). ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Bill Roggio, “Al Qaeda commander reported killed in US airstrike,” The Long War Journal, October 21, 2009, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/10/al_qaeda_commander_r_1.php (accessed November 15, 2009). ↩
- Kathy Kelly, “Visitors and Hosts in Pakistan,” The Huffington Post, June 9, 2009, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-kelly/visitors-and-hosts-in-pak_b_213472.html. ↩
- Kathy Kelly, “Now We See You, Now We Don’t,” The Huffington Post, June 25, 2009, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-kelly/now-we-see-you-now-we-don_b_220578.html. ↩
- Pir Zubair Shah, “Pakistan Says U.S. Drone Kills 13,” New York Times, June 19, 2009. ↩
- Mushtaq Yusufzai, Irfan Burki and Malik Mumtaz, “No prominent militant killed in drone attack,” The News, June 25, 2009, http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=22926. ↩
- “‘US Drone’ hits Pakistan funeral,” Al Jazeera English, June 24, 2009, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/06/20096244230395712.html. ↩
- “Missile attacks kill 50 in South Waziristan,” DAWN, June 24, 2009, http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/04-suspected-us-drone-strikes-swaziristan-qs-03. ↩
- Amnesty International, “Pakistan: US involvement in civilian deaths.” ↩
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” See note 19 for link. ↩
- International Humanitarian Law – Treaties and Documents, “Geneva Conventions of 1949 & Additional Protocols,” International Committee of the Red Cross. See note 13 for link. ↩
- Agence France-Presse, “US Drone Strikes May Break International Law: UN,” CommonDreams.org, October 28, 2009, http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/10/28 (accessed November 15, 2009). ↩
- Bergen and Tiedemann, “The Drone War.” ↩
- Scott Horton, “Petraeus: Bush Administration Violated Geneva Conventions,” Harper’s Magazine, June 1, 2009, http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/06/hbc-90005079. ↩
- Find Law, “Cases and Codes: US Code,” http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/uscodes/. Search Title 18, Section 2331. ↩
- Jane Perlez, “Pakistanis Continue to Reject U.S. Partnership,” New York Times, September 30, 2009. ↩
U.S. Guilty of War Crimes and Sabotaging Government’s Peace Efforts in Pakistan
ZMag | By Max Kantar | 12 December 2009
International Law: The First Casualty of the Drone War
A comprehensive legal analysis of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan
Remote controlled mayhem ie Drones does not win wars.
By William S. Lind Droning On
When TAC asked me for a piece on military drones, I had to consider which variety of drone was most important: the drone aircraft, the drones who operate the aircraft, or the drones back in the Pentagon who think drive-by shootings can win wars.
Drone aircraft are simply model airplanes. It would be easy enough to construct one from parts picked up at a toy store. Kitbash a small video camera that can broadcast an image—some model trains now have one in the engine cab—onto a remote-controlled model aircraft big enough to carry it, and you have a useful military drone. (Paintballers take note.) In fact, you have the most useful type of military drone, a reconnaissance drone. For millennia, commanders have wanted nothing quite so much as an ability to see over the next hill. A simple drone can do that nicely.
In the Pentagon, “simple” is a bad word because it implies cheap. The Pentagon is not a military headquarters; it is a bank. Its main mission is to add to the money flow. Simple systems do that poorly. Therefore, American military drones have grown rapidly in complexity and cost, far beyond what a company or battalion commander needs to see over the next hill. The Predator is perhaps the most famous of a growing family of drone aircraft. Not only does it take pictures, it also carries air-to-ground missiles it can shoot with great precision out of the night sky at gatherings of Taliban fighters, compounds serving as IED factories, and Afghan wedding parties.
What’s wrong with that? Yes, we have to say “sorry” when a Predator turns a wedding into multiple funerals. But who would not want to be able to strike enemy targets swiftly and silently with no risk to an American pilot? Is this not military technology at its best?
To answer these questions, we must grasp a basic fact about war that the American military cannot understand, namely that there is more to it than putting firepower on targets. American military doctrine—with the exception of the Marine Corps—is Second Generation doctrine, sometimes called firepower/attrition warfare. Derived from French Army doctrine of the interwar years, it reduces war to putting fire on targets in a contest of mutual attrition: think Verdun. The French summarized it as “the firepower conquers, the infantry occupies.” Seen from the perspective of that doctrine, Predators firing missiles are entirely a plus. Other than those pesky wedding parties, they have no negatives. Remember, high cost is another benefit.
The problem, as the French discovered in 1940 when they faced a Third Generation German army with a doctrine of maneuver warfare, is that Second Generation doctrine is deeply flawed. War is the most complex of all human endeavors. It can seldom be reduced to a mere contest in mutual attrition. Col. John Boyd, USAF, America’s greatest military theorist, observed:
When I was a young officer, I was told that if you have land superiority, air superiority, and sea superiority, you win. Well, in Vietnam, we had land, air, and sea superiority, and we lost. So there is obviously something more to it.
Boyd went on to explore and explain what that “more” is. He posited that war is fought on three levels: physical, mental, and moral. The physical level, where Second Generation focuses, is the weakest. The moral level, on which guerrilla war centers, is the most powerful. And the mental level, the basis of maneuver warfare, lies somewhere in between.
The primacy of the moral level carries over from classical guerrilla warfare into Fourth Generation war, the type of war we are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, thanks to those wonderful Predators, in Pakistan. The defining characteristic of Fourth Generation is that it is multi-sided and many of the parties are not states. Some nonstate entities may fight for political goals, but many do not. Instead, their goals may range from martyrdom to loot to impressing the local girls. In the Fourth Generation, war moves beyond Clausewitz’s politics carried on by other means. For many of the entities waging such wars, the moral level replaces the political. It is power on the moral level that brings recruits, money, good press, and, perhaps, victory.
In Fourth Generation wars, one of the most important factors on the moral level is what Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld calls the power of weakness. A state, especially a major power such as the United States, is incomparably stronger physically than its Fourth Generation enemies. The U.S. military has the fanciest weapons in the world, including the Predator. The Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the like are armed mostly with light weapons of World War II design. Our troops have the latest body armor, excellent medical care if they are wounded, and base camps with all the comforts of home. Our opponents fight in bathrobes and flipflops, usually die or are captured if wounded, and live the life of scavengers.
To themselves and onlookers, they are David and the U.S. is Goliath. In the 3,000 or so years that the biblical story has been told, how many listeners have identified with the giant?
Here we begin to see why Osama should have on his cave wall a picture of the Predator with the line under it, “Our best weapon.” Maybe he does. Perhaps no other weapon so well represents the conflict between al-Qaeda’s David and the American Goliath. The Predator strikes in the night with no warning. Its missiles can instantly pulverize an entire mud-brick compound. There is no defense against it other than hiding. If by a miracle our opponents shoot one down, they do us no injury. The drone operator sits in air-conditioned comfort in Tampa or some similar garden spot. With the Predator and with airstrikes generally, Americans fight from a safe distance. Like the Trojan hero Paris, who was an archer, we appear to be cowards.
Seen from John Boyd’s physical/ mental/moral vantage point, the Predator is a stunning success physically. It may terrify our enemies mentally. But on the moral level, it is a boomerang. Those on the receiving end say, “I’m going to get back at the murdering cowards no matter what it costs.” Their families, friends, fellow tribesmen, and co-religionists around the world have the same reaction. The Predator calls forth its low-tech, Fourth Generation counterpart and nemesis, the suicide bomber.
Here we see the broader failing in the American military, an error that had its origin in the idea that war is a firepower-based attrition contest, but has since taken on a life of its own. That is the assumption, usually unstated but now so widespread that it underlies everything the Pentagon does, that wars’ outcomes are determined by technology. The fact that complex technology is a great justifier of higher budgets may not be irrelevant to this notion’s popularity.
Van Creveld’s book Technology and War, a historical survey, concludes that very few wars have been decided by technology. Boyd sums up the reason: “Weapons don’t fight wars, people do, and they use their minds.”
One consequence of this fact is that most high-tech weapons systems have simple, low-tech counters. A classic example comes from the “McNamara Line” in the Vietnam War, a collection of high-tech sensors in the jungles that was supposed to pick up any Viet Cong movements. One sophisticated sensor was designed to detect human odors. The VC countered it by hanging buckets of urine in trees.
The Taliban’s most successful counter to the Predator is of similar simplicity. They make sure that when they gather and thus provide a good target, they have plenty of women and children around. In effect, they say, “Go ahead, make my day.”
Because complex weapons are expensive, they are usually in service for a long time, sometimes decades. Soon after their introduction, most if not all of their operating characteristics are known, especially in the age of the Internet. Our opponents can invent and deploy generations of simple countermeasures during the lifetime of one high-tech system. They are “outcycling us,” in Boydian terms: they can go through many cycles of observing, orienting, deciding, and acting against our systems while the systems go through only a single cycle. Boyd argued that there are few more certain prescriptions for defeat.
In contrast, simple systems, such as those our Fourth Generation opponents rely on, can go through many Boyd cycles in a comparatively short time. We see this face on display in Iraq and Afghanistan with the deadly weapon we face, the Improvised Explosive Device. Our opponents continually and rapidly invent and deploy new generations of IED, with new warhead designs, triggering mechanisms, and camouflage techniques. The U.S. has a multibillion-dollar top-priority program to counter them, most of it focused on high-tech solutions. (Again, think budget justification.) It has had small successes, but if you ask many of our troops what their mission is, they reply, “Driving around and waiting to get blown up.”
The disadvantageous time factor—no factor is more critical in war; Napoleon said, “I may lose a battle, but I will never lose a minute”—is compounded in hi-tech systems by the fact that their designers are engineers, few of whom have any understanding of war. War and engineering are not merely different, they are opposite in nature. A river cannot think how to counter an engineer who is building a bridge across it. War, in contrast, is continually shaped in unexpected ways by what soldiers call “the independent, hostile will of the enemy.” That means the other guy keeps doing things you never imagined. Complex weapons systems cannot deal with situations not envisioned by their designers. A striking example of their problem surfaced shortly after a U.S. Aegis cruiser shot down an Iranian passenger aircraft over the Persian Gulf. Aegis,a shipboard anti-aircraft and anti-missile system, is one of the most expensive weapons systems in the American military inventory. We have spent, and continue to spend, tens of billions of dollars for ships that carry Aegis as their main armament. A designer of the Aegis system wrote to the Naval Institute Proceedings to exculpate his creation, saying, “Of course, it was never designed to deal with ambiguity.” The independent, hostile will of the enemy means that ambiguity is a constant companion in war.
Ambiguity, deception, surprise, camouflage, and ambush have characterized war since its prehistoric beginnings and always will. Complex, high-technology weapons systems have trouble with all of them. They work best in clean, simple environments, like the carefully contrived “tests” the Pentagon uses to convince Congress to keep the money flowing.
Air and sea warfare are comparatively clean and simple, and high technology plays an important role there. The land warfare environment, in contrast, is vastly “dirtier.” Nowhere is it more so than in Fourth Generation wars, where the line between military and civilian is blurred to the vanishing point. In that endlessly complex setting, high-technology systems often trip over their own numerous feet even before the enemy has had a go at them. Just ask one of our company or battalion commanders what he thinks of our wonderful, computerized command and control system. One told me that it required him to submit more than 100 reports per day. Several years ago, I was in a meeting in which a retired general extolled the contribution his part of that system had made to “victory” in Iraq. The commander of the famous “Thunder Run” into downtown Baghdad said the first thing he did was turn it off.
The Pentagon’s financially self-serving belief that technology wins wars has come to grief in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, just as it did in Vietnam. In the early days of that war, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was interviewed by the French journalist Régis Debray, who asked him what the French experience in Vietnam meant for the Americans. McNamara replied that what had happened to the French could never happen to the Americans. It was not a matter of bravery, he said, but of technology.
In contrast, John Boyd argued that for winning wars, people are most important, ideas come second, and hardware comes third. The Pentagon stints our people to feed its hardware programs, while the pursuit of technological solutions to every problem stifles creative thinking about tactics and doctrine. The American military promotion system washes out the combat leaders, who tend to have rough edges, in favor of bureaucrats and managers who can run big weapons programs and testify smoothly before Congress. In pursuit of the foxfire of victory through technology, America has forgotten the basics of war.
While the Predator and other drones in the air are killing Taliban, the drones in the Pentagon are killing us.
William S. Lind is director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation in Washington, D.C.
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by Jacques R. Pauwels
February 9, 2010
In the night of February 13-14, 1945, the ancient and beautiful capital of Saxony, Dresden, was attacked three times, twice by the RAF and once by the USAAF, the United States Army Air Force, in an operation involving well over 1,000 bombers. The consequences were catastrophic, as the historical city centre was incinerated and between 25,000 and 40,000 people lost their lives. Dresden was not an important industrial or military centre and therefore not a target worthy of the considerable and unusual common American and British effort involved in the raid. The city was not attacked as retribution for earlier German bombing raids on cities such as Rotterdam and Coventry, either. In revenge for the destruction of these cities, bombed ruthlessly by the Luftwaffe in 1940, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and countless other German towns big and small had already paid dearly in 1942, 1943, and 1944. Furthermore, by the beginning of 1945, the Allied commanders knew perfectly well that even the most ferocious bombing raid would not succeed in “terrorizing [the Germans] into submission,” so that it is not realistic to ascribe this motive to the planners of the operation. The bombing of Dresden, then, seems to have been a senseless slaughter, and looms as an even more terrible undertaking than the atomic obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is at least supposed to have led to the capitulation of Japan.
In recent times, however, the bombing of countries and of cities has almost become an everyday occurrence, rationalized not only by our political leaders but also presented by our media as an effective military undertaking and as a perfectly legitimate means to achieve supposedly worthwhile objectives. In this context, even the terrible attack on Dresden has recently been rehabilitated by a British historian, Frederick Taylor, who argues that the huge destruction wreaked on the Saxon city was not intended by the planners of the attack, but was the unexpected result of a combination of unfortunate circumstances, including perfect weather conditions and hopelessly inadequate German air defenses. However, Taylor’s claim is contradicted by a fact that he himself refers to in his book, namely, that approximately 40 American “heavies” strayed from the flight path and ended up dropping their bombs on Prague instead of Dresden. If everything had gone according to plan, the destruction in Dresden would surely have been even bigger than it already was. It is thus obvious that an unusually high degree of destruction had been intended. More serious is Taylor’s insistence that Dresden did constitute a legitimate target, since it was not only an important military centre but also a first-rate turntable for rail traffic as well as a major industrial city, where countless factories and workshops produced all sorts of militarily important equipment. A string of facts, however, indicate that these “legitimate” targets hardly played a role in the calculations of the planners of the raid. First, the only truly significant military installation, the Luftwaffe airfield a few kilometres to the north of the city, was not attacked. Second, the presumably crucially important railway station was not marked as a target by the British “Pathfinder” planes that guided the bombers. Instead, the crews were instructed to drop their bombs on the inner city, situated to the north of the railway station. Consequently, even though the Americans did bomb the station and countless people perished in it, the facility suffered relatively little structural damage, so little, in fact, that it was again able to handle trains transporting troops within days of the operation. Third, the great majority of Dresden’s militarily important industries were not located downtown but in the suburbs, where no bombs were dropped, at least not deliberately.
It cannot be denied that Dresden, like any other major German city, contained militarily important industrial installations, and that at least some of these installations were located in the inner city and were therefore wiped out in the raid, but this does not logically lead to the conclusion that the attack was planned for this purpose. Hospitals and churches were also destroyed, and numerous Allied POWs who happened to be in the city were killed, but nobody argues that the raid was organized to bring that about. Similarly, a number of Jews and members of Germany’s anti-Nazi resistance, awaiting deportation and/or execution, were able to escape from prison during the chaos caused by the bombing, but no one claims that this was the objective of the raid. There is no logical reason, then, to conclude that the destruction of an unknown number of industrial installations of greater or lesser military importance was the raison d’être of the raid. The destruction of Dresden’s industry – like the liberation of a handful of Jews – was nothing more than an unplanned “by-product” of the operation.
It is frequently suggested, also by Taylor, that the bombing of the Saxon capital was intended to facilitate the advance of the Red Army. The Soviets themselves allegedly asked their western partners during the Yalta Conference of February 4 to 11, 1945, to weaken the German resistance on the eastern front by means of air raids. However, there is no evidence whatsoever that confirms such allegations. The possibility of Anglo-American air raids on targets in eastern Germany was indeed discussed at Yalta, but during these talks the Soviets expressed the concern that their own lines might be hit by the bombers, so they requested that the RAF and USAAF would not operate too far to the east. (The Soviets’ fear of being hit by what is now called “friendly fire” was not unwarranted, as was demonstrated during the raid on Dresden itself, when a considerable number of planes mistakenly bombed Prague, situated about as far from Dresden as the Red Army lines were.) It was in this context that a Soviet general by the name of Antonov expressed a general interest in “air attacks that would impede enemy movements,” but this can hardly be interpreted as a request to mete out to the Saxon capital – which, incidentally, he did not mention at all – or to any other German city the kind of treatment that Dresden received on February 13-14. Neither at Yalta, nor at any other occasion, did the Soviets ask their Western Allies for the kind of air support that presumably materialized in the form of the obliteration of Dresden. Moreover, they never gave their approval to the plan to bomb Dresden, as is also often claimed. In any case, even if the Soviets would have asked for such assistance from the air, it is extremely unlikely that their allies would have responded by immediately unleashing the mighty fleet of bombers that did in fact attack Dresden.
In order to understand why this is so, we have to take a close look at inter-Allied relations in early 1945. In mid- to late January, the Americans were still involved in the final convulsions of the “Battle of the Bulge,” an unexpected German counter-offensive on the western front which had caused them great difficulties. The Americans, British, and Canadians had not yet crossed the Rhine, had not even reached the western banks of that river, and were still separated from Berlin by more than 500 kilometers. On the eastern front, meanwhile, the Red Army had launched a major offensive on January 12 and advanced rapidly to within 100 kilometers of the German capital. The resulting likelihood that the Soviets would not only take Berlin, but penetrate deep into Germany’s western half before the war ended, greatly perturbed many American and British military and political leaders. Is it realistic to believe that, under those circumstances, Washington and London were eager to enable the Soviets to achieve even greater progress? Even if Stalin had asked for Anglo-American assistance from the air, Churchill and Roosevelt might have provided some token assistance, but would never have launched the massive and unprecedented combined RAF-USAAF operation that the bombing of Dresden revealed itself to be. Moreover, attacking Dresden meant sending hundreds of big bombers more than 2,000 kilometers through enemy airspace, approaching the lines of the Red Army so closely that they would run the risk of dropping their bombs by mistake on the Soviets or being fired at by Soviet anti-aircraft artillery. Could Churchill or Roosevelt be expected to invest such huge human and material resources and to run such risks in an operation that would make it easier for the Red Army to take Berlin and possibly reach the Rhine before they did? Absolutely not. The American-British political and military leaders were undoubtedly of the opinion that the Red Army was already advancing fast enough.
Towards the end of January 1945, Roosevelt and Churchill prepared to travel to Yalta for a meeting with Stalin. They had asked for such a meeting because they wanted to make binding agreements about postwar Germany before the end of the hostilities. In the absence of such agreements, the military realities in the field would determine who would control which parts of Germany, and it looked very much as if, by the time the Nazis would finally capitulate, the Soviets would be in control of most of Germany and thus be able to unilaterally determine that country’s political, social, and economic future. For such a unilateral course of action, Washington and London themselves had created a fateful precedent, namely when they liberated Italy in 1943 and categorically denied the Soviet Union any participation in the reconstruction of that country; they did the same thing in France and Belgium in 1944. Stalin, who had followed his allies’ example when he liberated countries in Eastern Europe, obviously did not need or want such a binding inter-allied agreement with respect to Germany, and therefore such a meeting. He did accept the proposal, but insisted on meeting on Soviet soil, namely in the Crimean resort of Yalta. Contrary to conventional beliefs about that Conference, Stalin would prove to be most accommodating there, agreeing to a formula proposed by the British and Americans and highly advantageous to them, namely, a division of postwar Germany into occupation zones, with only approximately one third of Germany’s territory – the later “East Germany” – being assigned to the Soviets. Roosevelt and Churchill could not have foreseen this happy outcome of the Yalta Conference, from which they would return “in an exultant spirit.” In the weeks leading up to the conference, they expected the Soviet leader, buoyed by the recent successes of the Red Army and enjoying a kind of home-game advantage, to be a difficult and demanding interlocutor. A way had to be found to bring him down to earth, to condition him to make concessions despite being the temporary favourite of the god of war.
It was crucially important to make it clear to Stalin that the military power of the Western Allies, in spite of recent setbacks in the Belgian Ardennes, should not be underestimated. The Red Army admittedly featured huge masses of infantry, excellent tanks, and a formidable artillery, but the Western Allies held in their hands a military trump which the Soviets were unable to match. That trump was their air force, featuring the most impressive collection of bombers the world had ever seen. This weapon made it possible for the Americans and the British to launch devastating strikes on targets that were far removed from their own lines. If Stalin could be made aware of this, would he not prove easier to deal with at Yalta?
It was Churchill who decided that the total obliteration of a German city, under the noses of the Soviets so to speak, would send the desired message to the Kremlin. The RAF and USAAF had been able for some time to strike a devastating blow against any German city, and detailed plans for such an operation, known as “Operation Thunderclap,” had been meticulously prepared. During the summer of 1944, however, when the rapid advance from Normandy made it seem likely that the war would be won before the end of the year, and thoughts were already turning to postwar reconstruction, a Thunderclap-style operation had begun to be seen as a means to intimidate the Soviets. In August 1944, an RAF memorandum pointed out that “the total devastation of the centre of a vast [German] city…would convince the Russian allies…of the effectiveness of Anglo-American air power.”
For the purpose of defeating Germany, Thunderclap was no longer considered necessary by early 1945. But towards the end of January 1945, while preparing to travel to Yalta, Churchill suddenly showed great interest in this project, insisted that it be carried out tout de suite, and specifically ordered the head of the RAF Bomber Command, Arthur Harris, to wipe out a city in Germany’s east. On January 25 the British Prime Minister indicated where he wanted the Germans to be “blasted,” namely, somewhere “in their [westward] retreat from Breslau [now Wroclaw in Poland].” In terms of urban centres, this was tantamount to spelling D-R-E-S-D-E-N. That Churchill himself was behind the decision to bomb a city in Germany’s east is also hinted at in the autobiography of Arthur Harris, who wrote that “the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by much more important people than myself.” It is obvious that only personalities of the calibre of Churchill were able to impose their will on the czar of strategic bombing. As the British military historian Alexander McKee has written, Churchill “intended to write [a] lesson on the night sky [of Dresden]” for the benefit of the Soviets. However, since the USAAF also ended up being involved in the bombing of Dresden, we may assume that Churchill acted with the knowledge and approval of Roosevelt. Churchill’s partners at the top of the United States’ political as well as military hierarchy, including General Marshall, shared his viewpoint; they too were fascinated, as McKee writes, by the idea of “intimidating the [Soviet] communists by terrorising the Nazis.” The American participation in the Dresden raid was not really necessary, because the RAF was undoubtedly capable of wiping out Dresden in a solo performance. But the “overkill” effect resulting from a redundant American contribution was perfectly functional for the purpose of demonstrating to the Soviets the lethality of Anglo-American air power. It is also likely that Churchill did not want the responsibility for what he knew would be a terrible slaughter to be exclusively British; it was a crime for which he needed a partner.
A Thunderclap–style operation would of course do damage to whatever military and industrial installations and communications infrastructure were housed in the targeted city, and would therefore inevitably amount to yet another blow to the already tottering German enemy. But when such an operation was finally launched, with Dresden as target, it was done far less in order to speed up the defeat of the Nazi enemy than in order to intimidate the Soviets. Using the terminology of the “functional analysis” school of American sociology, hitting the Germans as hard as possible was the “manifest function” of the operation, while intimidating the Soviets was its far more important “latent” or “hidden” function. The massive destruction wreaked in Dresden was planned – in other words, was “functional” – not for the purpose of striking a devastating blow to the German enemy, but for the purpose of demonstrating to the Soviet ally that the Anglo-Americans had a weapon which the Red Army, no matter how mighty and successful it was against the Germans, could not match, and against which it had no adequate defenses.
Many American and British generals and high-ranking officers were undoubtedly aware of the latent function of the destruction of Dresden, and approved of such an undertaking; this knowledge also reached the local commanders of the RAF and USAAF as well as the “master bombers.” (After the war, two master bombers claimed to remember that they had been told clearly that this attack was intended “to impress the Soviets with the hitting power of our Bomber Command.”) But the Soviets, who had hitherto made the biggest contribution to the war against Nazi Germany, and who had thereby not only suffered the biggest losses but also scored the most spectacular successes, e.g. in Stalingrad, enjoyed much sympathy among low-ranking American and British military personnel, including bomber crews. This constituency would certainly have disapproved of any kind of plan to intimidate the Soviets, and most certainly of a plan – the obliteration of a German city from the air – which they would have to carry out. It was therefore necessary to camouflage the objective of the operation behind an official rationale. In other words, because the latent function of the raid was “unspeakable,” a “speakable” manifest function had to be concocted.
And so the regional commanders and the master bombers were instructed to formulate other, hopefully credible, objectives for the benefit of their crews. In view of this, we can understand why the instructions to the crews with respect to the objectives differed from unit to unit and were often fanciful and even contradictory. The majority of the commanders emphasized military objectives, and cited undefined “military targets,” hypothetical “vital ammunition factories” and “dumps of weapons and supplies,” Dresden’s alleged role as “fortified city,” and even the existence in the city of some “German Army Headquarters.” Vague references were also frequently made to “important industrial installations” and “marshalling yards.” In order to explain to the crews why the historical city centre was targeted and not the industrial suburbs, some commanders talked about the existence there of a “Gestapo headquarters” and of “a gigantic poison gas factory.” Some speakers were either unable to invent such imaginary targets, or were for some reason unwilling to do so; they laconically told their men that the bombs were to be dropped on “the built-up city centre of Dresden,” or “on Dresden” tout court. To destroy the centre of a German city, hoping to wreak as much damage as possible to military and industrial installations and to communication infrastructures, happened to be the essence of the Allied, or at least British, strategy of “area bombing.” The crew members had learned to accept this nasty fact of life, or rather of death, but in the case of Dresden many of them felt ill at ease. They questioned the instructions with respect to the objectives, and had the feeling that this raid involved something unusual and suspicious and was certainly not a “routine” affair, as Taylor presents things in his book. The radio operator of a B-17, for example, declared in a confidential communication that “this was the only time” that “[he] (and others) felt that the mission was unusual.” The anxiety experienced by the crews was also illustrated by the fact that in many cases a commander’s briefing did not trigger the crews’ traditional cheers but were met with icy silence.
Directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, the instructions and briefings addressed to the crews sometimes revealed the true function of the attack. For example, a directive of the RAF to the crews of a number of bomber groups, issued on the day of the attack, February 13, 1945, unequivocally stated that it was the intention “to show the Russians, when they reach the city, what our Bomber Command is capable of doing.” Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that many crew members understood clearly that they had to wipe Dresden from the map in order to scare the Soviets. A Canadian member of a bomber crew was to state after the war to an oral historian that he was convinced that the bombing of Dresden had aimed to make it clear to the Soviets “that they had to behave themselves, otherwise we would show them what we could also do to Russian cities.”
The news of the particularly awful destruction of Dresden also caused great discomfort among British and American civilians, who shared the soldiers’ sympathy for the Soviet ally and who, upon learning the news of the raid, likewise sensed that this operation exuded something unusual and suspicious. The authorities attempted to exorcize the public’s unease by explaining the operation as an effort to facilitate the advance of the Red Army. At an RAF press conference in liberated Paris on February 16, 1945, journalists were told that the destruction of this “communications centre” situated close to “the Russian front” had been inspired by the desire to make it possible for the Russians “to continue their struggle with success.” That this was merely a rationale, concocted after the facts by what are called “spin doctors” today, was revealed by the military spokesman himself, who lamely acknowledged that he “thought” that it had “probably” been the intention to assist the Soviets.
The hypothesis that the attack on Dresden was intended to intimidate the Soviets explains not only the magnitude of the operation but also the choice of the target. To the planners of Thunderclap, Berlin had always loomed as the perfect target. By early 1945, however, the German capital had already been bombed repeatedly. Could it be expected that yet another bombing raid, no matter how devastating, would have the desired effect on the Soviets when they would fight their way into the capital? Destruction wreaked within 24 hours would surely loom considerably more spectacular if a fairly big, compact, and “virginal” – i.e. not yet bombed – city were the target. Dresden, fortunate not to have been bombed thus far, was now unfortunate enough to meet all these criteria. Moreover, the British American commanders expected that the Soviets would reach the Saxon capital within days, so that they would be able to see very soon with their own eyes what the RAF and the USAAF could achieve in a single operation. Although the Red Army was to enter Dresden much later than the British and the Americans had expected, namely, on May 8, 1945, the destruction of the Saxon capital did have the desired effect. The Soviet lines were situated only a couple of hundred of kilometers from the city, so that the men and women of the Red Army could admire the glow of the Dresden inferno on the nocturnal horizon. The firestorm was allegedly visible up to a distance of 300 kilometers.
If intimidating the Soviets is viewed as the “latent,” in other words the real function of the destruction of Dresden, then not only the magnitude but also the timing of the operation makes sense. The attack was supposed to have taken place, at least according to some historians, on February 4, 1945, but had to be postponed on account of inclement weather to the night of February 13-14. The Yalta Conference started on February 4. If the Dresden fireworks had taken place on that day, it might have provided Stalin with some food for thought at a critical moment. The Soviet leader, flying high after the recent successes of the Red Army, would be brought down to earth by this feat of his allies’ air forces, and would therefore turn out to be a less confident and more agreeable interlocutor at the conference table. This expectation was clearly reflected in a comment made one week before the start of the Yalta Conference by an American general, David M. Schlatter:
I feel that our air forces are the blue chips with which we will approach the post-war treaty table, and that this operation [the planned bombing of Dresden and/or Berlin] will add immeasurably to their strength, or rather to the Russian knowledge of their strength.
The plan to bomb Dresden was not cancelled, but merely postponed. The kind of demonstration of military potency that it was supposed to be retained its psychological usefulness even after the end of the Crimean conference. It continued to be expected that the Soviets would soon enter Dresden and thus be able to see firsthand what horrible destruction the Anglo-American air forces were able to cause to a city far removed from their bases in a single night. Afterwards, when the rather vague agreements made at Yalta would have to be put into practice, the “boys in the Kremin” would surely remember what they had seen in Dresden, draw useful conclusions from their observations, and behave as Washington and London expected of them. When towards the end of the hostilities American troops had an opportunity to reach Dresden before the Soviets, Churchill vetoed this: even at that late stage, when Churchill was very eager for the Anglo-Americans to occupy as much German territory as possible, he still insisted that the Soviets be allowed to occupy Dresden, no doubt so they could benefit from the demonstration effect of the bombing.
Dresden was obliterated in order to intimidate the Soviets with a demonstration of the enormous firepower that permitted bombers of the RAF and the USAAF to unleash death and destruction hundreds of kilometers away from their bases, and the subtext was clear: this firepower could be aimed at the Soviet Union itself. This interpretation explains the many peculiarities of the bombing of Dresden, such as the magnitude of the operation, the unusual participation in one single raid of both the RAF and USAAF, the choice of a “virginal” target, the (intended) enormity of the destruction, the timing of the attack, and the fact that the supposedly crucially important railway station and the suburbs with their factories and Luftwaffe airfield were not targeted. The bombing of Dresden had little or nothing to do with the war against Nazi Germany: it was an American British message for Stalin, a message that cost the lives of tens of thousands of people. Later that same year, two more similarly coded yet not very subtle messages would follow, involving even more victims, but this time Japanese cities were targeted, and the idea was to direct Stalin’s attention to the lethality of America’s terrible new weapon, the atomic bomb. Dresden had little or nothing to do with the war against Nazi Germany; it had much, if not everything, to do with a new conflict in which the enemy was to be the Soviet Union. In the horrible heat of the infernos of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cold War was born.
 Frederick Taylor. Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945, New York, 2004, pp. 354, 443-448; Götz Bergander, Dresden im Luftkrieg. Vorgeschichte, Zerstörung, Folgen, Weimar, 1995, chapter 12, and especially pp. 210 ff., 218-219, 229;
“Luftangriffe auf Dresden“, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftangriffe_auf_Dresden, p. 9.
 See for example the comments made by General Spaatz cited in Randall Hansen, Fire and fury: the Allied bombing of Germany, 1942-45, Toronto, 2008, p. 243.
 Taylor, p. 416.
 Taylor, pp. 321-322.
 Olaf Groehler. Bombenkrieg gegen Deutschland, Berlin, 1990, p. 414; Hansen, p. 245; “Luftangriffe auf Dresden,” http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftangriffe_auf_Dresden, p.7.
 “Luftangriffe auf Dresden,” http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftangriffe_auf_Dresden, p. 7.
 Taylor, pp. 152-154, 358-359.
 Eckart Spoo, “Die letzte der Familie Tucholsky,” Ossietzky, No. 11/2, June 2001, pp. 367-70.
 Taylor, p. 190; Groehler, pp. 400-401. Citing a study about Yalta, the British author of the latest study of Allied bombing during World War II notes that the Soviets “clearly preferred to keep the RAF and the USAAF away from territory they might soon be occupying,” see C. Grayling, Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?, London, 2006, p. 176.
 Alexander McKee. Dresden 1945: The Devil’s Tinderbox, London, 1982, pp. 264-265; Groehler, pp. 400-402.
 See e.g. Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, Toronto, 2002, p. 98 ff.
 Ibid., p. 119.
 Richard Davis, “Operation Thunderclap,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 14:1, March 1991, p. 96.
 Taylor, pp. 185-186, 376; Grayling, p. 71; David Irving. The Destruction of Dresden, London, 1971, pp. 96-99.
 Hansen, p. 241.
 Arthur Travers Harris, Bomber offensive, Don Mills/Ont., 1990, p. 242.
 McKee, pp. 46, 105.
 Groehler, p. 404.
 Ibid., p. 404.
 The Americans preferred “precision bombing,” in theory if not always in practice.
 Taylor, pp. 318-19; Irving, pp. 147-48.
 Quotation from Groehler, p. 404. See also Grayling, p. 260.
 Cited in Barry Broadfoot, Six War Years 1939-1945: Memories of Canadians at Home and Abroad, Don Mills, Ontario, 1976, p. 269.
 Taylor, pp. 361, 363-365.
 See e.g. Hans-Günther Dahms, Der Zweite Weltkrieg, second edition, Frankfurt am Main, 1971, p. 187.
 Cited in Ronald Schaffer. “American Military Ethics in World War II: The Bombing of German Civilians,” The Journal of Military History, 67: 2, September 1980, p. 330.
 A. C. Grayling, for example, writes in his new book on Allied bombing that “it is recognized that one of the main motives for the atomb-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to demonstrate to the Russians the superiority in waponry that the United States had attained…In the case of Dresden something similar is regrettably true.”
The Myth of the Good War
The USA in World War II
James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002.
First published in October 2002. 264 Pages / Paperback/ $24.95.
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This book offers a fresh and provocative look at the role of the USA in World War II. It spent four months on the nonfiction bestseller lists in Europe when it was first published in Belgium in 2001. Since then it has been translated into French, German and Spanish.
Popular historian Jacques Pauwels attacks the widely held belief that World War II was the “good war,” the war in which America led the forces of democracy and freedom to victory over fascist dictatorship and Japanese militarism. He argues that the role of the USA in World War II was determined not by idealism, but by the interests of America’s corporations and by the country’s social, economic, and political leaders.
JACQUES R. PAUWELS has taught European history at the University of Toronto, York University, and the University of Western Ontario.
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by Prof. David Ray Griffin
June 25, 2010
There are many questions to ask about the war in Afghanistan. One that has been widely asked is whether it will turn out to be “Obama’s Vietnam.”1 This question implies another: Is this war winnable, or is it destined to be a quagmire, like Vietnam? These questions are motivated in part by the widespread agreement that the Afghan government, under Hamid Karzai, is at least as corrupt and incompetent as the government the United States tried to prop up in South Vietnam for 20 years.
Although there are many similarities between these two wars, there is also a big difference: This time, there is no draft. If there were a draft, so that college students and their friends back home were being sent to Afghanistan, there would be huge demonstrations against this war on campuses all across this country. If the sons and daughters of wealthy and middle-class parents were coming home in boxes, or with permanent injuries or post-traumatic stress syndrome, this war would have surely been stopped long ago.
People have often asked: Did we learn any of the “lessons of Vietnam”? The US government learned one: If you’re going to fight unpopular wars, don’t have a draft – hire mercenaries!
There are many other questions that have been, and should be, asked about this war, but in this essay, I focus on only one:
Did the 9/11 attacks justify the war in Afghanistan?
This question has thus far been considered off-limits, not to be raised in polite company, and certainly not in the mainstream media. It has been permissible, to be sure, to ask whether the war during the past several years has been justified by those attacks so many years ago. But one has not been allowed to ask whether the original invasion was justified by the 9/11 attacks.
However, what can be designated the “McChrystal Moment” – the probably brief period during which the media are again focused on the war in Afghanistan in the wake of the Rolling Stone story about General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, which led to his resignation – provides the best opportunity for some time to raise fundamental questions about this war. Various commentators have already been asking some pretty basic questions: about the effectiveness and affordability of the present “counterinsurgency strategy” and even whether American fighting forces should remain in Afghanistan at all.
But I am interested in an even more fundamental question: Whether this war was ever really justified by the publicly given reason: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
This question has two parts: First, did these attacks provide a legal justification for the invasion of Afghanistan? Second, if not, did they at least provide a moral justification?
I. Did 9/11 Provide Legal Justification for the War in Afghanistan?
Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, international law with regard to war has been defined by the UN Charter. Measured by this standard, the US-led war in Afghanistan has been illegal from the outset.
Marjorie Cohn, a well-known professor of international law, wrote in November 2001:
“[T]he bombings of Afghanistan by the United States and the United Kingdom are illegal.”2
In 2008, Cohn repeated this argument in an article entitled “Afghanistan: The Other Illegal War.” The point of the title was that, although it was by then widely accepted that the war in Iraq was illegal, the war in Afghanistan, in spite of the fact that many Americans did not realize it, was equally illegal.3 Her argument was based on the following facts:
First, according to international law as codified in the UN Charter, disputes are to be brought to the UN Security Council, which alone may authorize the use of force. Without this authorization, any military activity against another country is illegal.
Second, there are two exceptions: One is that, if your nation has been subjected to an armed attack by another nation, you may respond militarily in self-defense. This condition was not fulfilled by the 9/11 attacks, however, because they were not carried out by another nation:
Afghanistan did not attack the United States. Indeed, the 19 men charged with the crime were not Afghans.
The other exception occurs when one nation has certain knowledge that an armed attack by another nation is imminent – too imminent to bring the matter to the Security Council. The need for self-defense must be, in the generally accepted phrase, “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” Although the US government claimed that its military operations in Afghanistan were justified by the need to prevent a second attack, this need, even if real, was clearly not urgent, as shown by the fact that the Pentagon did not launch its invasion until almost a month later.
US political leaders have claimed, to be sure, that the UN did authorize the US attack on Afghanistan. This claim, originally made by the Bush-Cheney administration, was repeated by President Obama in his West Point speech of December 1, 2009, in which he said: “The United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks,” so US troops went to Afghanistan “[u]nder the banner of . . . international legitimacy.”4
However, the language of “all necessary steps” is from UN Security Council Resolution 1368, in which the Council, taking note of its own “responsibilities under the Charter,” expressed its own readiness “to take all necessary steps to respond to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.”5
Of course, the UN Security Council might have determined that one of these necessary steps was to authorize an attack on Afghanistan by the United States. But it did not.
Resolution 1373, the only other Security Council resolution about this issue, laid out various responses, but these included matters such as freezing assets, criminalizing the support of terrorists, exchanging police information
about terrorists, and prosecuting terrorists. The use of military force was not mentioned.6
The US war in Afghanistan was not authorized by the UN Security Council in 2001 or at anytime since, so this war began as an illegal war and remains an illegal war today. Our government’s claim to the contrary is false.
This war has been illegal, moreover, not only under international law, but also under US law. The UN Charter is a treaty, which was ratified by the United States, and, according to Article VI of the US Constitution, any treaty ratified by the United States is part of the “supreme law of the land.”7 The war in Afghanistan, therefore, has from the beginning been in violation of US as well as international law. It could not be more illegal.
II. Did 9/11 Provide Moral Justification for the War in Afghanistan?
The American public has for the most part probably been unaware of the illegality of this war, because this is not something our political leaders or our corporate media have been anxious to point out.8 So most people simply do not know.
If they were informed, however, many Americans would be inclined to argue that, even if technically illegal, the US military effort in Afghanistan has been morally justified, or at least it was in the beginning, by the attacks of 9/11. For a summary statement of this argument, we can turn again to the West Point speech of President Obama, who has taken over the Bush-Cheney account of 9/11. Answering the question of “why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place,” Obama said:
“We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women and children without regard to their faith or race or station. . . . As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda – a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam. . . . [A]fter the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden – we sent our troops into Afghanistan.”9
This standard account can be summarized in terms of three points:
1. The attacks were carried out by 19 Muslim members of al-Qaeda.
2. The attacks had been authorized by the founder of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, who was in Afghanistan.
3. The US invasion of Afghanistan was necessary because the Taliban, which was in control of Afghanistan, refused to turn bin Laden over to US authorities.
On the basis of these three points, our political leaders have claimed that the United States had the moral right, arising from the universal right of self-defense, to attempt to capture or kill bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network to prevent them from launching another attack on our country.
The only problem with this argument is that all three points are false. I will show this by looking at these points in reverse order.
1. Did the United States Attack Afghanistan because the Taliban Refused to Turn Over Bin Laden?
The claim that the Taliban refused to turn over Bin Laden has been repeatedly made by political leaders and our mainstream media.10 Reports from the time, however, show the truth to be very different.
A. Who Refused Whom?
Ten days after the 9/11 attacks, CNN reported:
“The Taliban . . . refus[ed] to hand over bin Laden without proof or evidence that he was involved in last week’s attacks on the United States. . . . The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan . . . said Friday that deporting him without proof would amount to an ‘insult to Islam.’”
CNN also made clear that the Taliban’s demand for proof was not made without reason, saying:
“Bin Laden himself has already denied he had anything to do with the attacks, and Taliban officials repeatedly said he could not have been involved in the attacks.”
Bush, however, “said the demands were not open to negotiation or discussion.”11
With this refusal to provide any evidence of bin Laden’s responsibility, the Bush administration made it impossible for the Taliban to turn him over. As Afghan experts quoted by the Washington Post pointed out, the Taliban, in order to turn over a fellow Muslim to an “infidel” Western nation, needed a “face-saving formula.” Milton Bearden, who had been the CIA station chief in Afghanistan in the 1980s, put it this way: While the United States was demanding, “Give up bin Laden,” the Taliban were saying, “Do something to help us give him up.”12 But the Bush administration refused.
After the bombing began in October, moreover, the Taliban tried again, offering to turn bin Laden over to a third country if the United States would stop the bombing and provide evidence of his guilt. But Bush replied: “There’s no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he’s guilty.” An article in London’s Guardian, which reported this development, was entitled: “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand Bin Laden Over.”13 So it was the Bush administration, not the Taliban, that was responsible for the fact that bin Laden was not turned over.
In August of 2009, President Obama, who had criticized the US invasion of Iraq as a war of choice, said of the US involvement in Afghanistan: “This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity.”14 But the evidence shows, as we have seen, that it, like the one in Iraq, is a war of choice.
B. What Was the Motive for the Invasion?
This conclusion is reinforced by reports indicating that the United States had made the decision to invade Afghanistan two months before the 9/11 attacks. At least part of the background to this decision was the United States’ long-time support for UNOCAL’s proposed pipeline, which would transport oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea region to the Indian Ocean through Afghanistan and Pakistan.15 This project had been stymied through the 1990s because of the civil war that had been going on in Afghanistan since the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
In the mid-1990s, the US government had supported the Taliban with the hope that its military strength would enable it to unify the country and provide a stable government, which could protect the pipeline. By the late 1990s, however, the Clinton administration had given up on the Taliban.16
When the Bush administration came to power, it decided to give the Taliban one last chance. During a four-day meeting in Berlin in July 2001, representatives of the Bush administration insisted that the Taliban must create a government of “national unity” by sharing power with factions friendly to the United States. The US representatives reportedly said: “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.”17
After the Taliban refused this offer, US officials told a former Pakistani foreign secretary that “military action against Afghanistan would go ahead . . . before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.”18 And, indeed, given the fact that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occurred when they did, the US military was able to mobilize to begin its attack on Afghanistan by October 7.
It appears, therefore, that the United States invaded Afghanistan for reasons far different from the official rationale, according to which we were there to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.
2. Has Good Evidence of Bin Laden’s Responsibility Been Provided?
I turn now to the second point: the claim that Osama bin Laden had authorized the attacks. Even if it refused to give the Taliban evidence for this claim, the Bush administration surely – most Americans probably assume – had such evidence and provided it to those who needed it. Again, however, reports from the time indicate otherwise.
A. The Bush Administration
Two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he expected “in the near future . . . to put out . . . a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking [bin Laden] to this attack.”19 But at a joint press conference with President Bush the next morning, Powell withdrew this pledge, saying that “most of [the evidence] is classified.”20 Seymour Hersh, citing officials from both the CIA and the Department of Justice, said the real reason why Powell withdrew the pledge was a “lack of solid information.”21
B. The British Government
The following week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a document to show that “Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001.” Blair’s report, however, began by saying: “This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama Bin Laden in a court of law.”22 So, the case was good enough to go to war, but not good enough to take to court. The next day, the BBC emphasized this weakness, saying: “There is no direct evidence in the public domain linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks.”23
C. The FBI
What about our own FBI? Its “Most Wanted Terrorist” webpage on “Usama bin Laden” does not list 9/11 as one of the terrorist acts for which he is wanted.24 When asked why not, the FBI’s chief of investigative publicity replied: “because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”25
D. The 9/11 Commission
What about the 9/11 Commission? Its entire report is based on the assumption that bin Laden was behind the attacks. However, the report’s evidence to support this premise has been disowned by the Commission’s own co-chairs, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton.
This evidence consisted of testimony that had reportedly been elicited by the CIA from al-Qaeda operatives. The most important of these operatives was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – generally known simply as “KSM” – who has been called the “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks. If you read the 9/11 Commission’s account of how bin Laden planned the attacks, and then check the notes, you will find that almost every note says that the information came from KSM.26
In 2006, Kean and Hamilton wrote a book giving “the inside story of the 9/11 Commission,” in which they called this information untrustworthy. They had no success, they reported, in “obtaining access to star witnesses in custody . . . , most notably Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”27 Besides not being allowed by the CIA to interview KSM, they were not permitted to observe his interrogation through one-way glass. They were not even allowed to talk to the interrogators.28 Therefore, Kean and Hamilton complained:
“We . . . had no way of evaluating the credibility of detainee information. How could we tell if someone such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed . . . was telling us the truth?”29
They could not.
Accordingly, neither the Bush administration, the British government, the FBI, nor the 9/11 Commission ever provided good evidence of bin Laden’s responsibility for the attacks.
E. Did Bin Laden Confess?
Some people argue, to be sure, that such evidence soon became unnecessary because bin Laden admitted his responsibility in a videotape that was discovered by the US military in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in November 2001. But besides the fact that bin Laden had previously denied his involvement many times,30 bin Laden experts have called this later video a fake,31 and for good reasons. Many of the physical features of the man in this video are different from those of Osama bin Laden (as seen in undoubtedly authentic videos), and he said many things that bin Laden himself would not have said.32
The FBI, in any case, evidently does not believe that this video provides hard evidence of bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11, or it would have revised its “Most Wanted Terrorist” page on him after this video surfaced.
So, to review the first two points: The Taliban said it would turn over bin Laden if our government would give it good evidence of his responsibility for 9/11, but our government refused. And good evidence of this responsibility has never been given to the public.
I turn now to the third claim: that, even if there is no proof that Osama bin Laden authorized the attacks, we have abundant evidence that the attacks were carried out by Muslims belonging to his al-Qaeda organization. I will divide the discussion of this third claim into two sections: Section 3a looks at the main support for this claim: evidence that Muslim hijackers were on the airliners. Section 3b looks at the strongest evidence against this claim: the collapse of World Trade Center 7.
3a. Evidence Al-Qaeda Muslims Were on the Airliners
It is still widely thought to have been established beyond question that the attacks were carried out by members of al-Qaeda. The truth, however, is that the evidence entirely falls apart upon examination, and this fact suggests that 9/11 was instead a false-flag attack – an attack that people within our own government orchestrated while planting evidence to implicate Muslims.
A. Devout Muslims?
Let us begin with the 9/11 Commission’s claim that the men who (allegedly) took over the planes were devout Muslims, ready to sacrifice their lives for their cause.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Atta and other hijackers had made “at least six trips” to Las Vegas, where they had “engaged in some decidedly un-Islamic sampling of prohibited pleasures.” The Chronicle then quoted the head of the Islamic Foundation of Nevada as saying: “True Muslims don’t drink, don’t gamble, don’t go to strip clubs.”33
The contradiction is especially strong with regard to Mohamed Atta. On the one hand, according to the 9/11 Commission, he was very religious, even “fanatically so.”34 This characterization was supported by Professor Dittmar Machule, who was Atta’s thesis supervisor at a technical university in Hamburg in the 1990s. Professor Machule says he knew his student only as Mohamed Al-Emir – although his full name was the same as his father’s: Mohamed Al-Emir Atta. In any case, Machule says that this young man was “very religious,” prayed regularly, and never touched alcohol.35
According to the American press, on the other hand, Mohamed Atta drank heavily and, one night after downing five glasses of Vodka, shouted an Arabic word that, Newsweek said, “roughly translates as ‘F–k God.’”36 Investigative reporter Daniel Hopsicker, who wrote a book about Atta, stated that Atta regularly went to strip clubs, hired prostitutes, drank heavily, and took cocaine. Atta even lived with a stripper for several months and then, after she kicked him out, she reported, he came back and disemboweled her cat and dismembered its kittens.37
Could this be the same individual as Professor Machule’s student Mohamed Al-Emir, who would not even shake hands with a woman upon being introduced, and who never touched alcohol? “I would put my hand in the fire,” said the professor, “that this Mohamed El-Amir I know will never taste or touch alcohol.” Could the Atta described by Hopsicker and the American press be the young man whom this professor described as not a “bodyguard type” but “more a girl looking type”?38 Could the man who disemboweled a cat and dismembered its kittens be the young man known to his father as a “gentle and tender boy,” who was nicknamed “nightingale”?39
We are clearly talking about two different men. This is confirmed by the differences in their appearance. The American Atta was often described as having a hard, cruel face, and the standard FBI photo of him bears this out. The face of the Hamburg student was quite different, as photos available on the Internet show.40 Also, his professor described him as “very small,” being “one meter sixty-two” in height41 – which means slightly under 5’4” – whereas the American Atta has been described as 5’8” and even 5’10” tall.42
One final reason to believe that these different descriptions apply to different men: The father of Mohamed al-Emir Atta reported that on September 12, before either of them had learned of the attacks, his son called him and they “spoke for two minutes about this and that.”43
There are also problems in relation to many of the other alleged hijackers. For example, the BBC reported that Waleed al-Shehri, who supposedly died along with Atta on American Flight 11, spoke to journalists and American authorities in Casablanca the following week.44 Moreover, there were clearly two men going by the name Ziad Jarrah – the name of the alleged hijacker pilot of United Flight 93.45
Accordingly, besides the fact the men labeled “the hijackers” were not devout Muslims, they may not have even been Muslims of any type.
And if that were not bad enough for the official story, there is no good evidence that these men were even on the planes – all the evidence for this claim falls apart upon examination. I will illustrate this point with a few examples.46
B. Passports at the Crash Sites
One of the purported proofs that the 19 men identified as the hijackers were on the planes was the reported discovery of some of their passports at crash sites. But the reports of these discoveries are not believable.
For example, the FBI claimed that, while searching the streets after the destruction of the World Trade Center, they discovered the passport of Satam al-Suqami, one of the hijackers on American Flight 11, which had crashed into the North Tower.47 But for this to be true, the passport would have had to survive the collapse of the North Tower, which evidently pulverized almost everything in the building into fine particles of dust – except the steel and al-Suqami’s passport.
But this claim was too absurd to pass the giggle test: “[T]he idea that [this] passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged,” remarked a British commentator, “would [test] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI’s crackdown on terrorism.”48 By 2004, the claim had been modified to say that “a passer-by picked it up and gave it to a NYPD detective shortly before the World Trade Center towers collapsed.”49 So, rather than needing to survive the collapse of the North Tower, the passport merely needed to escape from al-Suqami’s pocket or luggage, then from the plane’s cabin, and then from the North Tower without being destroyed or even singed by the giant fireball.
This version was no less ridiculous than the first one, and the other stories about passports at crash sites are equally absurd.
C. Reported Phone Calls from the Airliners
It is widely believed, of course, that we know that there were hijackers on the airliners, thanks to numerous phone calls from passengers and crew members, in which they reported the hijackings. But we have good reasons to believe that these calls never occurred.
Reported Calls from Cell Phones: About 15 of the reported calls from the airliners were said to have been made on cell phones, with about 10 of those being from United Flight 93 – the one that reportedly crashed in Pennsylvania. Three or four of those calls were received by Deena Burnett, who knew that her husband, Tom Burnett, had used his cell phone, she told the FBI, because she recognized his cell phone number on her Caller ID.
However, given the cell phone technology available in 2001, high-altitude cell phone calls from airliners were not possible. They were generally not possible much above 1,000 feet, and were certainly impossible above 35,000 or even 40,000 feet, which was the altitude of the planes when most of the cell phone calls were supposedly made. Articles describing the impossibility of the calls were published in 2003 and 2004 by two well-known Canadians: A. K. Dewdney, formerly a columnist for Scientific American, and economist Michel Chossudovsky.50
Perhaps in response, the FBI changed the story. In 2006, it presented a report on the phone calls from the planes for the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker. In its report on United Flight 93, it said that cell phones were used for only two of the calls, both of which were made when the plane, shortly before it crashed, had descended to a low altitude.51 These two calls were, in fact, the only two cell phone calls made from any of the airliners, the FBI report said.52 The FBI thereby avoided claiming that any high-altitude cell phone calls had been made.
But if the FBI’s new account is true, how do we explain that so many people reported receiving cell phone calls? Most of these people said that they had been told by the caller that he or she was using a cell phone, so we might suppose that their reports were based on bad hearing or faulty memory. But what about Deena Burnett, whose statement that she recognized her husband’s cell phone number on her Caller ID was made to the FBI that very day?53 If Tom Burnett used a seat-back phone, as the FBI’s 2006 report says, why did his cell phone number show up on his wife’s Caller ID? The FBI has not answered this question.
The only possible explanation seems to be that these calls were faked. Perhaps someone used voice morphing technology, which already existed at that time,54 in combination with a device for providing a fake Caller ID, which can be ordered on the Internet. Or perhaps someone used Tom’s cell phone to place fake calls from the ground. In either case, Tom Burnett did not actually call his wife from aboard United Flight 93. And if calls to Deena Burnett were faked, we must assume that all of the calls were – because if there had really been surprise hijackings, no one would have been prepared to make fake phone calls to her.
The Reported Calls from Barbara Olson:
This conclusion is reinforced by the FBI’s report on phone calls from American Flight 77 – the one that supposedly struck the Pentagon. Ted Olson, the US Solicitor General, reported that his wife, Barbara Olson (a well-known commentator on CNN), had called him twice from this flight, with the first call lasting “about one (1) minute,”55 and the second call lasting “two or three or four minutes.”56 In these calls, he said, she reported that the plane had been taken over by hijackers armed with knives and box-cutters.
But how could she have made these calls? The plane was far too high for a cell phone to work. And American Flight 77 was a Boeing 757, and the 757s made for American Airlines – the 9/11 Truth Movement learned in 2005 – did not have onboard phones.57 Whether or not for this reason, the FBI’s report to the Moussaoui trial did not endorse Ted Olson’s story. Its report on telephone calls from American Flight 77 did mention Barbara Olson, but it attributed only one call to her, not two, and it said that this call was “unconnected,” so that it lasted “0 seconds.”58
This FBI report allows only two possibilities: Either Ted Olson engaged in deception, or he, like Deena Burnett, was duped by faked calls. In either case, the story about Barbara Olson’s calls, with their reports of hijackers taking over Flight 77, was based on deception.
The alleged phone calls, therefore, do not provide trustworthy evidence that there were hijackers on the planes.
D. Autopsy Reports and Flight Manifests
The public has widely assumed, due to misleading claims,59 that the names of the alleged hijackers were on the flight manifests for the four flights, and also that the autopsy report from the Pentagon contained the names of the hijackers said to have been on American Flight 77. However, the passenger manifests for the four airliners did not contain the names of any of the alleged hijackers and, moreover, they contained no Arab names whatsoever.60 Also, as a psychiatrist who was able to obtain a copy of the Pentagon autopsy report through a FOIA request discovered, it contained none of the names of the hijackers for American Flight 77 and, in fact, no Arab names whatsoever.61
E. Failure to Squawk the Hijack Code
Finally, the public has been led to believe that all the evidence about what happened on board the four airliners supported the claim that they were taken over by hijackers. This claim, however, was contradicted by something that did not happen. If pilots have any reason to believe that a hijacking may be in process, they are trained to enter the standard hijack code (7500) into their transponders to alert controllers on the ground. This is called “squawking” the hijack code. None of the eight pilots did this on 9/11, even though there would have been plenty of time: This act takes only two or three seconds and it would have taken longer than this for hijackers to break into the pilots’ cabins: According to official account of United Flight 93, for example, it took over 30 seconds for the hijackers to break into the cockpit.62
F. False-Flag Attack
It appears, therefore, that 9/11 was the most elaborate example yet of a false-flag attack, which occurs when countries, wanting to attack other countries, orchestrate attacks on their own people while planting evidence to implicate those other countries. Hitler did this when he was ready to attack Poland, which started the European part of World War II; Japan did it when it was ready to attack Manchuria, which started the Asian part of that war.
In 1962, the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed false-flag attacks killing American citizens to provide a pretext for invading Cuba.63 This proposal was not put into effect because it was vetoed by President Kennedy. But in 2001, the White House was occupied by an administration that wanted to attack Afghanistan, Iraq, and several other predominantly Muslim countries,64 and so, it appears, evidence was planted to implicate Muslims.
3b. How the Collapse of WTC 7 Disproves the Al-Qaeda Theory
I turn now to the strongest evidence that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by insiders rather than foreign terrorists: the collapse of Building 7 of the World Trade Center, which is the subject of my most recent book, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 Is Unscientific and False.65
A. Mysterious Collapse
I speak of the “mysterious collapse” because the collapse of this building was, from the very beginning, seen as more mysterious than that of the Twin Towers. Given the fact that those two buildings were hit by planes, which started big fires, most people evidently thought – if wrongly – that the fact that these buildings came down was not problematic. But Building 7 was not hit by a plane, and yet it came down at 5:21 that afternoon.
This would mean, assuming that neither incendiaries nor explosives were used to demolish this building, that it had been brought down by fire alone, and this would have been an unprecedented occurrence.
New York Times writer James Glanz wrote, “experts said no building like it, a modern, steel-reinforced high-rise, had ever collapsed because of an uncontrolled fire.” Glanz then quoted a structural engineer as saying: “[W]ithin the structural engineering community, [Building 7] is considered to be much more important to understand [than the Twin Towers],” because engineers had no answer to the question, “why did 7 come down?”66
Moreover, although Glanz spoke of an “uncontrolled fire,” there were significant fires on only six of this building’s 47 floors, and these fires were visible at most for three to four hours, and yet fires have burned in other steel-frame skyscrapers for 17 and 18 hours, turning them into towering infernos without causing collapse.67 So why did Building 7 come down? FEMA, which in 2002 put out the first official report on this building, admitted that its “best hypothesis” had “only a low probability of occurrence.”68
B. Reasons to Suspect Explosives
By its “best hypothesis,” FEMA meant the best hypothesis it could suggest consistent with the fact that it, as a government agency, could not posit the use of incendiaries and explosives. Why might anyone think that incendiaries and explosives brought this building down?
Precedent: One reason is simply that, prior to 9/11, every collapse of a steel-frame high-rise building was brought about by explosives, often in conjunction with incendiaries, in the procedure known as “controlled demolition.” Collapse has never been produced by fires, earthquakes, or any other cause other than controlled demolition.
Vertical Collapse: Another reason to posit controlled demolition is that this building came straight down, collapsing into its own footprint. For this to happen, all of this building’s 82 steel columns had to fail simultaneously. This is what happens in the type of controlled demolition known as “implosion.” It is not something that can be caused by fires.
Simply seeing a video of the building coming down makes it obvious to anyone with knowledge of these things that explosives were used to bring it down. On 9/11 itself, CBS News anchor Dan Rather said:
“[I]t’s reminiscent of those pictures we’ve all seen . . . on television . . . , where a building was deliberately destroyed by well-placed dynamite to knock it down.”69
In 2006, a filmmaker asked Danny Jowenko, the owner of a controlled demolition company in the Netherlands, to comment on a video of the collapse of Building 7 without telling him what it was. (Jowenko had never heard that a third building had collapsed on 9/11.) After viewing the video, Jowenko said: “They simply blew up columns, and the rest caved in afterwards. . . . This is controlled demolition.” When asked if he was certain, he replied: “Absolutely, it’s been imploded. This was a hired job. A team of experts did this.”70
An organization called “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth,” which was formed in 2007, now has over 1,200 members. Many of them, as one can see by reading their statements, joined after they saw a video of Building 7’s collapse.71
In light of all of these considerations, a truly scientific investigation, which sought the truth about Building 7, would have begun with the hypothesis that it had been deliberately demolished.
C. NIST’s Report as Political, Not Scientific
However, this hypothesis did not provide the starting point for NIST – the National Institute of Standards and Technology – which took over from FEMA the responsibility for writing the official report on the destruction of the World Trade Center. Rather, NIST said:
“The challenge was to determine if a fire-induced floor system failure could occur in WTC 7 under an ordinary building contents fire.”72
So, although every other steel-frame building that has collapsed did so because explosives (perhaps along with incendiaries) were used to destroy its support columns, NIST said, in effect: “We think fire brought down WTC 7.” To understand why NIST started with this hypothesis, it helps to know that it is an agency of the Commerce Department, which means that all the years it was working on its World Trade Center reports, it was an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration.
Also, a scientist who had worked for NIST reported that by 2001 it had been “fully hijacked from the scientific into the political realm,” so that scientists working there had “lost [their] scientific independence, and became little more than ‘hired guns.’”73
One manifestation of NIST’s political nature may be the fact that it delayed its report on Building 7 year after year, releasing it only late in 2008, when the Bush-Cheney administration was preparing to leave office.
Be that as it may, NIST did in August of 2008 finally put out a report in the form of a draft for public comment. Announcing this draft report at a press conference, Shyam Sunder, NIST’s lead investigator, said:
“Our take-home message today is that the reason for the collapse of World Trade Center 7 is no longer a mystery. WTC 7 collapsed because of fires fueled by office furnishings. It did not collapse from explosives.”74
Sunder added that “science is really behind what we have said.”75
However, far from being supported by good science, NIST’s report repeatedly makes its case by resorting to scientific fraud. Two of the major types of scientific fraud, as defined by the National Science Foundation, are fabrication, which is “making up results,” and falsification, which means either “changing or omitting data.”76 I will begin with falsification.
D. NIST’S Falsification of Testimonial Evidence Pointing to Explosives
Claiming that it “found no evidence of a . . . controlled demolition event,”77 NIST simply omitted or distorted all such evidence, some of which was testimonial.
Two city officials, Barry Jennings of the Housing Authority and Michael Hess, the city’s corporation counsel, reported that they became trapped by a massive explosion in Building 7 shortly after they arrived there at 9:00 AM. NIST, however, claimed that what they called an explosion was really just the impact of debris from the collapse of the North Tower, which did not occur until 10:28. But Jennings explicitly said that they were trapped before either of the Twin Towers came down, which means that the explosion that he and Hess reported occurred before 9:59, when the South Tower came down. NIST rather obviously, therefore, distorted these men’s testimonial evidence.
Other people reported that explosions went off in the late afternoon, when the building started to come down. Reporter Peter Demarco of the New York Daily News said:
“[T]here was a rumble. The building’s top row of windows popped out. Then all the windows on the thirty-ninth floor popped out. Then the thirty-eighth floor. Pop! Pop! Pop! was all you heard until the building sunk into a rising cloud of gray.”78
NIST dealt with such testimonies by simply ignoring them.
E. NIST’s Omission of Physical Evidence for Explosives
NIST also ignored a lot of physical evidence that Building 7 was brought down by explosives.
Swiss-Cheese Steel: For example, three professors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute discovered a piece of steel from Building 7 that had melted so severely that it had holes in it, making it look like Swiss cheese.79 The New York Times, pointing out that the fires in the building could not have been hot enough to melt steel, called this “the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation.”80 The three professors, in a report included as an appendix to the 2002 FEMA report, said: “A detailed study into the mechanisms of this phenomenon is needed.”81
When NIST’s report on Building 7 appeared, however, it did not mention this mysterious piece of steel. It even claimed that no recovered steel from this building had been identified.82 And this was just the beginning of NIST’s omission of physical evidence.
Particles of Metal in the Dust: The nearby Deutsche Bank building was heavily contaminated by dust produced when the World Trade Center was destroyed. But the bank’s insurance company refused to pay for the clean-up, claiming that the dust in the bank was ordinary building dust, not dust that resulted from the destruction of the WTC. So Deutsche Bank hired the RJ Lee Group, a scientific research organization, to do a study, which showed that the dust in this building was WTC dust, with a unique chemical signature. Part of this signature was “[s]pherical iron . . . particles,”83 and this meant, the RJ Lee Group said, that iron had “melted during the WTC Event, producing spherical metallic particles.”84
Iron does not melt until it reaches 2,800°F (1,538°C), which is about 1,000 degrees F (540 degrees C) higher than the fires could have been. The RJ Lee study also found that temperatures had been reached “at which lead would have undergone vaporization”85 – meaning 3,180°F (1,749°C).86
Another study was carried out by scientists at the US Geological Survey. Besides also finding iron particles, these scientists found that molybdenum had been melted87 – even though its melting point is extremely high: 4,753°F (2,623°C).88
These two studies proved, therefore, that something had produced temperatures many times higher than the fires could have produced. NIST, however, made no mention of these studies. But even this was not the end of the physical evidence omitted by NIST.
Nanothermite Residue: A report by several scientists, including University of Copenhagen chemist Niels Harrit, showed that the WTC dust contained unreacted nanothermite. Whereas ordinary thermite is an incendiary, nanothermite is a high explosive. This report by Harrit and his colleagues did not appear until 2009,89 several months after the publication of NIST’s final report in November 2008. But NIST should have, as a matter of routine, tested the WTC dust for signs of incendiaries, such as ordinary thermite, and explosives, such as nanothermite.
When asked whether it did, however, NIST said that it did not. When a reporter asked Michael Newman, a NIST spokesman, why not, Newman replied: “[B]ecause there was no evidence of that.” “But,” asked the reporter, “how can you know there’s no evidence if you don’t look for it first?” Newman replied: “If you’re looking for something that isn’t there, you’re wasting your time . . . and the taxpayers’ money.”90
F. NIST’s Fabrication of Evidence to Support Its Own Theory
Besides omitting and distorting evidence to deny the demolition theory of Building 7’s collapse, NIST also fabricated evidence – simply made it up – to support its own theory.
No Girder Shear Studs: NIST’s explanation as to how fire caused Building 7 to collapse starts with thermal expansion, meaning that the fire heated up the steel, thereby causing it to expand. An expanding steel beam on the 13th floor, NIST claimed, caused a steel girder attached to a column to break loose. Having lost its support, this column failed, starting a chain reaction in which the other 81 columns failed, causing a progressive collapse.91 Ignoring the question of whether this is even remotely plausible, let us simply ask: Why did that girder fail? Because, NIST claimed, it was not connected to the floor slab with sheer studs. NIST wrote: In WTC 7, no studs were installed on the girders.92 Floor beams . . . had shear studs, but the girders that supported the floor beams did not have shear studs.93 This was a fabrication, as we can see by looking at NIST’s Interim Report on WTC 7, which it had published in 2004. That report, written before NIST had developed its girder-failure theory, stated that girders as well as the beams had been attached to the floor by means of shear studs.94
A Raging Fire on Floor 12 at 5:00 PM: Another case of fabrication is a graphic in NIST’s report showing that at 5:00 PM, there were very big fires covering much of the north face of Floor 12.95 This claim is essential to NIST’s explanation as to why the building collapsed 21 minutes later. However, if you look back at NIST’s 2004 report, you will find this statement:
“Around 4:45 PM, a photograph showed fires on Floors 7, 8, 9, and 11 near the middle of the north face; Floor 12 was burned out by this time.”96
Other photographs even show that the 12th floor fire had virtually burned out by 4:00. And yet NIST, in its final report, claims that fires were still raging on this floor at 5:00 PM.
G. NIST’s Affirmation of a Miracle
In addition to omitting, falsifying, and fabricating evidence, NIST affirms a miracle. You have perhaps seen the cartoon in which a physics professor has written a proof on a chalkboard. Most of the steps consist of mathematical equations, but one of them simply says: “Then a miracle happens.” This is humorous because one thing you absolutely cannot do in science is to appeal to a miracle, even implicitly. And yet that is what NIST does. I will explain:
NIST’S Denial of Free Fall: Members of the 9/11 Truth Movement had long been pointing out that Building 7 came down at the same rate as a free-falling object, at least virtually so.
In NIST’s Draft for Public Comment, put out in August 2008, it denied this, saying that the time it took for the upper floors – the only floors that are visible on the videos – to come down “was approximately 40 percent longer than the computed free fall time and was consistent with physical principles.”97
As this statement implies, any assertion that the building did come down in free fall would not be consistent with physical principles – meaning the laws of physics. Explaining why not, Shyam Sunder said:
“[A] free fall time would be [the fall time of] an object that has no structural components below it. . . . [T]he . . . time that it took . . . for those 17 floors to disappear [was roughly 40 percent longer than free fall]. And that is not at all unusual, because there was structural resistance that was provided in this particular case. And you had a sequence of structural failures that had to take place. Everything was not instantaneous.”98
In saying this, Sunder was presupposing NIST’s rejection of controlled demolition – which could have produced a free-fall collapse by causing all 82 columns to fail simultaneously – in favor of NIST’s fire theory, which necessitated a theory of progressive collapse.
Chandler’s Challenge: In response, high-school physics teacher David Chandler challenged Sunder’s denial of free fall, pointing out that Sunder’s “40 percent longer” claim contradicted “a publicly visible, easily measurable quantity.”99 Chandler then placed a video on the Internet showing that, by measuring this publicly visible quantity, anyone knowing elementary physics could see that “for about two and a half seconds. . . , the acceleration of the building is indistinguishable from freefall.”100
NIST Admits Free Fall: Amazingly, in NIST’s final report, which came out in November, it admitted free fall. Dividing the building’s descent into three stages, NIST described the second phase as “a freefall descent over approximately eight stories at gravitational acceleration for approximately 2.25 s[econds].”101 (“Gravitational acceleration” is a synonym for free fall acceleration.)
So, after presenting over 600 pages of descriptions, graphs, testimonies, photographs, charts, analyses, explanations, and mathematical formulae, NIST says, in effect: “Then a miracle happens.”
Why this would be a miracle was explained by Chandler, who said: “Free fall can only be achieved if there is zero resistance to the motion.”102 In other words, the upper portion of Building 7 could have come down in free fall only if something had suddenly removed all the steel and concrete in the lower part of the building, which would have otherwise provided resistance. If everything had not been removed and the upper floors had come down in free fall anyway, even for only a second or two, a miracle – meaning a violation of the laws of physics – would have happened.
That was what Sunder himself had explained the previous August, saying that a free-falling object would be one “that has no structural components below it” to offer resistance.
But then in November, while still defending the fire theory of collapse, NIST admitted that, as an empirical fact, free fall happened. For a period of 2.25 seconds, NIST admitted, the descent of WTC 7 was characterized by “gravitational acceleration (free fall).”103
Knowing that it had thereby affirmed a miracle, NIST no longer claimed that its analysis was consistent with the laws of physics. In its August draft, in which it had said that the collapse occurred 40 percent slower than free fall, NIST had said three times that its analysis was “consistent with physical principles.”104 In the final report, however, every instance of this phrase was removed. NIST thereby almost explicitly admitted that its report on WTC 7, by admitting free fall while continuing to deny that explosives were used, is not consistent with the principles of physics.
Conclusion about WTC 7: The science of World Trade Center 7 is, therefore, settled. This fact is reflected in the agreement by many hundreds of professionals with various forms of expertise – architects, engineers, firefighters, physicists, and chemists – that this building was deliberately demolished.
This truth has also recently been recognized by a symposium in one of our leading social science journals, which treats 9/11 as an example of what its authors call State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADs).105 Criticizing the majority of the academic world for its “blithe dismissal of more than one law of thermodynamics” that is violated by the official theory of the World Trade Center collapses, these authors also criticize the academy for its failure to protest when “Professor Steven Jones found himself forced out of tenured position for merely reminding the world that physical laws, about which there is no dissent whatsoever, contradict the official theory.”106
And now the world can see, if it will only look, that even NIST, in its final report, did not dissent: By admitting that Building 7 came down in free fall for over two seconds, while simultaneously removing its previous claim that its report was consistent with physical principles, NIST implicitly admitted that the laws of physics rule out its non-demolition theory of this building’s collapse. NIST thereby implicitly admitted that explosives were used.
H. Implications for the Al-Qaeda Theory of 9/11
And with that implicit admission, NIST undermined the al-Qaeda theory of 9/11. Why?
For one thing, the straight-down nature of the collapse of WTC 7 means that it was subjected to the type of controlled demolition known as “implosion,” which is, in the words of a controlled demolition website, “by far the trickiest type of explosive project,” which “only a handful of blasting companies in the world . . . possess enough experience . . . to perform.”107 Al-Qaeda terrorists would not have had this kind of expertise.
Second, the only reason to go to the trouble of bringing a building straight down is to avoid damaging nearby buildings. Had WTC 7 and the Twin Towers – which also came straight down, after initial explosions at the top that ejected sections of steel outward several hundred feet 108 – instead toppled over sideways, they would have caused massive destruction in Lower Manhattan, destroying dozens of other buildings and killing tens of thousands of people. Does anyone believe that, even if al-Qaeda operatives had had the expertise to make the buildings come straight down, they would have had the courtesy?
A third problem is that foreign terrorists could not have obtained access to the buildings for all the hours it would have taken to plant explosives. Only insiders could have done this.109
The science of the collapse of World Trade Center 7, accordingly, disproves the claim – which from the outset has been used to justify the war in Afghanistan – that America was attacked on 9/11 by al-Qaeda Muslims. It suggests, instead, that 9/11 was a false-flag operation to provide a pretext to attack Muslim nations.
In any case, the official rationale for our presence in Afghanistan is a lie. We are there for other reasons. Critics have offered various suggestions as to the most important of those reasons.110 Whatever be the answer to that question, however, we have not been there to apprehend the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Besides never being legally justified, therefore, the war in Afghanistan has never been morally justified.
This war, moreover, is an abomination. In addition to the thousands of US and other NATO troops who have been killed or impaired for life, physically and/or mentally, the US-led invasion/occupation of Afghanistan has resulted in a huge number of Afghan casualties, with estimates running from several hundred thousand to several million.111 But whatever the true number, the fact is that the United States has produced a great amount of death and misery – sometimes even bombing funerals and wedding parties – in this country that had already suffered terribly and that, even if the official story were true, had not attacked America. The fact that the official story is a lie makes our war crimes even worse.112
But there is a way out. As I have shown in this paper and even more completely elsewhere,113 the falsity of the official account of WTC 7 has now been demonstrated, leaving no room for reasonable doubt. In his inaugural address, President Obama said, “We will restore science to its rightful place,”114 thereby pledging that in his administration, unlike that of his predecessor, science would again be allowed to play a determinative role in shaping public policy. By changing his administration’s policy with regard to Afghanistan in light of the science of WTC 7, the president would not only fulfill one of his most important promises. He would also prevent the war in Afghanistan from becoming known as “Obama’s Vietnam.”115
David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books on various topics, including philosophy, theology, philosophy of science, and 9/11. His 2008 book, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé, was named a “Pick of the Week” by Publishers Weekly. In September 2009, The New Statesman ranked him #41 among “The 50 People Who Matter Today.” His most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False (2009). His next book will be Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory (September 2010). He wishes to thank Tod Fletcher, Jim Hoffman, and Elizabeth Woodworth for help with this essay.
1 For a few of the many times this issue has been raised, see Jeffrey T. Kuhner, “Obama’s Vietnam?” Washington Times, January 25, 2009 (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/25/obamas-vietnam); Juan Cole, “Obama’s Vietnam?” Salon.com, January 26, 2009 (http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/01/26/obama/print.html); John Barry and Evan Thomas, “Afghanistan: Obama’s Vietnam,” Newsweek, January 31, 2009 (http://www.newsweek.com/id/182650).
2 Marjorie Cohn, “Bombing of Afghanistan Is Illegal and Must Be Stopped,” Jurist, November 6, 2001 (http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forum/forumnew36.htm).
3 Marjorie Cohn, “Afghanistan: The Other Illegal War,” AlterNet, August 1, 2008 (http://www.alternet.org/world/93473/afghanistan:_the_other_illegal_war).
4 President Barack Obama, “The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ” Remarks at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, December 1, 2009 (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34231058).
5 “Security Council Condemns, ‘In Strongest Terms,’ Terrorist Attacks on United States,” September 12, 2001 (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2001/SC7143.doc.htm).
6 Brian J. Foley “Legal Analysis: U.S. Campaign Against Afghanistan Not Self-Defense Under International Law,” Lawyers Against the War (http://www.lawyersagainstthewar.org/legalarticles/foley3.html).
7 “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” US Constitution, Article VI, par. 2.
8 See Richard Falk and Howard Friel, The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy (London: Verso, 2007).
9 Obama, “The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan .”
10 For example, Robert H. Reid, writing for the Associated Press (“August Deadliest Month for US in Afghanistan,” Associated Press, August 29, 2009 [http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/latest-news/august-deadliest-month-for-us-in-afghanistan]), said the war “was launched by the Bush administration after the Taliban government refused to hand over Osama bin Laden for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.”
11 “White House Warns Taliban: ‘We Will Defeat You,’” CNN, September 21, 2001 (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/central/09/21/ret.afghan.taliban).
12 David B. Ottaway and Joe Stephens, “Diplomats Met with Taliban on Bin Laden,” Washington Post, October 29, 2001 (http://www.infowars.com/saved%20pages/Prior_Knowledge/US_met_taliban.htm).
13 “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand Bin Laden Over,” Guardian, October 14, 2001 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/14/afghanistan.terrorism5).
14 Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Obama Defends Strategy in Afghanistan,” New York Times, August 18, 2009 (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/us/politics/18vets.html?_r=1&th&emc=th).
15 See the two chapters entitled “The New Great Game” in Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), and Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin, 2004).
16 Rashid, Taliban, 75-79, 163, 175.
17 Quoted in Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002), 43.
18 George Arney, “U.S. ‘Planned Attack on Taleban,’” BBC News, September 18, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1550366.stm).
19 “Meet the Press,” NBC, September 23, 2001 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/specials/attacked/transcripts/nbctext092301.html).
20 “Remarks by the President, Secretary of the Treasury O’Neill and Secretary of State Powell on Executive Order,” White House, September 24, 2001 (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/sept11/president_026.asp).
21 Seymour M. Hersh, “What Went Wrong: The C.I.A. and the Failure of American Intelligence,” New Yorker, October 1, 2001 (http://web.archive.org/web/20020603150854/http://www.cicentre.com/Documents/DOC_Hersch_OCT_01.htm).
22 Office of the Prime Minister, “Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States,” BBC News, October 4, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/1579043.stm).
23 “The Investigation and the Evidence,” BBC News, October 5, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1581063.stm).
24 Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Most Wanted Terrorists: Usama bin Laden” (http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/terrorists/terbinladen.htm).
25 Ed Haas, “FBI says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11’” Muckraker Report, June 6, 2006 (http://web.archive.org/web/20061107114035/http://www.teamliberty.net/id267.html). For more on this episode, see David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink], 2008), Chap. 18.
26 See The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Authorized Edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), Chap. 5, notes 16, 41, and 92.
27 Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, with Benjamin Rhodes, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), 118.
28 Ibid., 122-24.
29 Ibid., 119.
30 David Ray Griffin, Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], 2009), 27-29.
31 Professor Bruce Lawrence interviewed by Kevin Barrett, February 16, 2007 (http://www.radiodujour.com/people/lawrence_bruce).
32 Griffin, Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? 16, 29-33.
33 Kevin Fagan, “Agents of Terror Leave Their Mark on Sin City,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 4, 2001 (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/10/04/MN102970.DTL).
34 The 9/11 Commission Report, 160.
35 “Professor Dittmar Machule,” Interviewed by Liz Jackson, A Mission to Die For, Four Corners, October 18, 2001 (http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/atta/interviews/machule.htm).
36 Evan Thomas and Mark Hosenball, “Bush: ‘We’re at War,” Newsweek, September 24, 2001 (http://www.newsweek.com/id/76065).
37 Daniel Hopsicker, Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta and the 9-11 Cover-Up in Florida (Eugene, OR: MadCow Press, 2004). See also Hopsicker, “The Secret World of Mohamed Atta: An Interview With Atta’s American Girlfriend,” InformationLiberation, August 20, 2006 (http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=14738). Many of the details are summarized in my 9/11 Contradictions, Chap. 15, “Were Mohamed Atta and the Other Hijackers Devout Muslims?” As I explain in that chapter, there were efforts to try to discredit Keller’s account by intimidating her into recanting and by claiming that she lived with a different man having the same first name, but these attempts failed.
38 “Professor Dittmar Machule.”
39 Kate Connolly, “Father Insists Alleged Leader Is Still Alive,” Guardian, September 2, 2002 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/sep/02/september11.usa).
40 “Photographs Taken of Mohamed Atta during His University Years,” A Mission to Die For, Four Corners (http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/atta/resources/photos/university.htm). Also, the differences between the (bearded) Atta in his passport photo, which is in the FBI’s evidence for the Moussaoui trial, and the Atta of the standard FBI photo, seem greater than can be accounted for by the fact that only the former Atta is bearded. The two photos can be compared at 911Review (http://911review.org/JohnDoe2/Atta.html).
41 “Professor Dittmar Machule.”
42 Thomas Tobin, “Florida: Terror’s Launching Pad,” St. Petersburg Times, September 1, 2002 (http://www.sptimes.com/2002/09/01/911/Florida__terror_s_lau.shtml); Elaine Allen-Emrich, “Hurt for Terrorists Reaches North Port,” Charlotte Sun-Herald, September 14, 2001 (available at http://www.madcowprod.com/keller.htm).
43 Connolly, “Father Insists Alleged Leader Is Still Alive.”
44 David Bamford, “Hijack ‘Suspect’ Alive in Morocco,” BBC, September 22, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1558669.stm). Although some news organizations, including the BBC itself, later tried to debunk this story, they failed, as I reported in The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008), 151-53.
45 See Jay Kolar, “What We Now Know about the Alleged 9-11 Hijackers,” in Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11 (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2008), 3-44, at 22-26; and Paul Thompson, “The Two Ziad Jarrahs,” History Commons (http://www.historycommons.org/essay.jsp?article=essayjarrah).
46 For types of evidence not discussed here, see Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, Chap. 8, “9/11 Commission Falsehoods about Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Pakistanis, and Saudis.”
47 “Ashcroft Says More Attacks May Be Planned,” CNN, September 18, 2001 (http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/09/17/inv.investigation.terrorism/index.html); “Terrorist Hunt,” ABC News, September 12, 2001 (http://911research.wtc7.net/cache/disinfo/deceptions/abc_hunt.html).
48 Anne Karpf, “Uncle Sam’s Lucky Finds,” Guardian, March 19, 2002 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,11209,669961,00.html). Like some others, this article mistakenly said the passport belonged to Mohamed Atta.
49 Statement by Susan Ginsburg, senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, at the 9/11 Commission Hearing, January 26, 2004 (http://www.9-11commission.gov/archive/hearing7/9-11Commission_Hearing_2004-01-26.htm). The Commission’s account reflected a CBS report that the passport had been found “minutes after” the attack, which had been stated by the Associated Press, January 27, 2003.
50 A. K. Dewdney, “The Cellphone and Airfone Calls from Flight UA93,” Physics 911, June 9, 2003 (http://physics911.net/cellphoneflight93.htm); Michel Chossudovsky, “More Holes in the Official Story: The 9/11 Cell Phone Calls,” Global Research, August 10, 2004 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO408B.html). For discussion of this issue, see Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, 112-14.
51 Greg Gordon, “Prosecutors Play Flight 93 Cockpit Recording,” McClatchy Newspapers, KnoxNews.com, April 12, 2006 (http://web.archive.org/web/20080129210016/http://www.knoxsingles.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=MOUSSAOUI-04-12-06&cat=WW).
52 United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui, Exhibit Number P200054 (http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution/flights/P200054.html). These documents can be viewed more easily in “Detailed Account of Phone Calls from September 11th Flights” (http://911research.wtc7.net/planes/evidence/calldetail.html).
53 “Interview with Deena Lynne Burnett (re: phone call from hijacked flight),” 9/11 Commission, FBI Source Documents, Chronological, September 11, 2001, Intelfiles.com, March 14, 2008 (http://intelfiles.egoplex.com:80/2008/03/911-commission-fbi-source-documents.html).
54 William M. Arkin, “When Seeing and Hearing Isn’t Believing,” Washington Post, February 1, 1999 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/dotmil/arkin020199.htm). For discussion, see Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, 114-18.
55 FBI, “Interview with Theodore Olsen [sic],” 9/11 Commission, FBI Source Documents, Chronological, September 11, 2001Intelfiles.com, March 14, 2008, (http://intelfiles.egoplex.com:80/2008/03/911-commission-fbi-source-documents.html).
56 “America’s New War: Recovering from Tragedy,” Larry King Live, CNN, September 14, 2001 (http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0109/14/lkl.00.html).
57 See David Ray Griffin and Rob Balsamo, “Could Barbara Olson Have Made Those Calls? An Analysis of New Evidence about Onboard Phones,” Pilots for 9/11 Truth, June 26, 2007 (http://pilotsfor911truth.org/amrarticle.html).
58 See the graphic in Jim Hoffman’s “Detailed Account of Telephone Calls from September 11th Flights,” Flight 77 (http://911research.wtc7.net/planes/evidence/calldetail.html).
59 For claims about hijackers’ names on the flight manifests, see Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror (New York: Free Press, 2004), 13; George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 167-69; and my discussion in Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, 174-75. On claims about hijacker names on the Pentagon autopsy report, see Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts: An In-Depth Investigation by Popular Mechanics, ed. David Dunbar and Brad Reagan (New York: Hearst Books, 2006), 63, and my discussion of its claim in David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], 2007], 267-69.
60 See Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, 163, 174-75.
61 Thomas R. Olmsted, M.D. “Still No Arabs on Flight 77,” Rense.com, June 23, 2003 (http://www.rense.com/general38/77.htm).
62 See The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, 275-79.
63 See David Ray Griffin, Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2006), Chap. 1, “9/11 and Prior False Flag Operations.”
64 General Wesley Clark, Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire (New York: Public Affairs, 2003), 120, 130; “Gen. Wesley Clark Weights Presidential Bid: ‘I Think about It Everyday,’” Democracy Now! March 2, 2007 (http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/02/1440234); Joe Conason, “Seven Countries in Five Years,” Salon.com, October 12, 2007 (http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2007/10/12/wesley_clark); Gareth Porter, “Yes, the Pentagon Did Want to Hit Iran,” Asia Times, May 7, 2008 (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JE07Ak01.html).
65 David Ray Griffin, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 Is Unscientific and False (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], 2009).
66 James Glanz, “Engineers Have a Culprit in the Strange Collapse of 7 World Trade Center: Diesel Fuel,” New York Times, November 29, 2001 (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/29/nyregion/nation-challenged-site-engineers-have-culprit-strange-collapse-7-world-trade.html).
67 See FEMA, “High-Rise Office Building Fire, One Meridian Plaza, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania” (http://www.interfire.org/res_file/pdf/Tr-049.pdf), and “Fire Practically Destroys Venezuela’s Tallest Building,” Venezuela News, Views, and Analysis, October 18, 2004 (http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/741).
68 See FEMA, World Trade Center Building Performance Study (http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/fema403_ch5.pdf), Chap. 5, Sect. 6.2, “Probable Collapse Sequence,” at p. 31.
69 Rather’s statement is available on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nvx904dAw0o).
70 See “Danny Jowenko on WTC 7 Controlled Demolition,” YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=877gr6xtQIc), or, for more of the interview, “Jowenko WTC 7 Demolition Interviews,” in three parts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3DRhwRN06I&feature=related).
71 Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (http://www.ae911truth.org).
72 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, November 2008, Vol. 1 (wtc.nist.gov/NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR%201-9%20Vol%201.pdf), 330.
73 “NIST Whistleblower,” October 1, 2007 (http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/2007/10/former-nist-employee-blows-whistle.html).
74 Shyam Sunder, “Opening Statement,” NIST Press Briefing, August 21, 2008 (http://wtc.nist.gov/media/opening_remarks_082108.html).
75 Quoted in “Report: Fire, Not Bombs, Leveled WTC 7 Building,” USA Today, August 21, 2008 (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-08-21-wtc-nist_N.htm).
76 New Research Misconduct Policies, section headed “What is Research Misconduct?” National Science Foundation, Office of Inspector General (http://www.nsf.gov/oig/session.pdf). This document is undated, but internal evidence suggests that it was published in 2001.
77 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Vol. 1: 324.
78 Quoted in Chris Bull and Sam Erman, eds., At Ground Zero: Young Reporters Who Were There Tell Their Stories (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2002), 97.
79 Joan Killough-Miller, “The ‘Deep Mystery’ of Melted Steel,” WPI Transformations, Spring 2002 (http://www.wpi.edu/News/Transformations/2002Spring/steel.html).
80 James Glanz and Eric Lipton, “A Search for Clues in Towers’ Collapse,” New York Times, February 2, 2002 (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/02/nyregion/search-for-clues-towers-collapse-engineers-volunteer-examine-steel-debris-taken.html).
81 Jonathan Barnett, Ronald R. Biederman, and Richard D. Sisson, Jr., “Limited Metallurgical Examination,” FEMA, World Trade Center Building Performance Study, May 2002, Appendix C (http://wtc.nist.gov/media/AppendixC-fema403_apc.pdf), C-13.
82 “Questions and Answers about the NIST WTC 7 Investigation,” NIST, August 21, 2008, updated April 21, 2009). NIST has removed both versions of this document from its website, but Jim Hoffman’s website has preserved both the original (2008) version (http://911research.wtc7.net/mirrors/nist/wtc_qa_082108.html) and the updated (2009) version (http://911research.wtc7.net/mirrors/nist/wtc_qa_042109.html).
83 RJ Lee Group, “WTC Dust Signature,” Expert Report, May 2004 (http://www.nyenvirolaw.org/WTC/130%20Liberty%20Street/Mike%20Davis%20LMDC%20130%20Liberty%20Documents/Signature%20of%20WTC%20dust/WTCDustSignature_ExpertReport.051304.1646.mp.pdf), 11.
84 RJ Lee Group, “WTC Dust Signature Study: Composition and Morphology,” December 2003 (http://www.nyenvirolaw.org/WTC/130%20Liberty%20Street/Mike%20Davis%20LMDC%20130%20Liberty%20Documents/Signature%20of%20WTC%20dust/WTC%20Dust%20Signature.Composition%20and%20Morphology.Final.pdf), 17. This earlier (2003) version of the RJ Lee report contained much more information about melted iron than the 2004 version. For discussion, see Griffin, The Mysterious Collapse, 40-42.
85 RJ Lee Group, “WTC Dust Signature Study” (2003), 21.
86 WebElements: The Periodic Table on the Web (http://www.webelements.com/lead/physics.html).
87 Steven E. Jones et al., “Extremely High Temperatures during the World Trade Center Destruction,” Journal of 9/11 Studies, January 2008 (http://journalof911studies.com/articles/WTCHighTemp2.pdf), 4-5.
88 WebElements: The Periodic Table on the Web (http://www.webelements.com/molybdenum/physics.html).
89 Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, Kevin R. Ryan, Frank M. Legge, Daniel Farnsworth, Gregg Roberts, James R. Gourley, and Bradley R. Larsen, “Active Thermitic Material Observed in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,” The Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2009, 2: 7-31 (http://www.bentham.org/open/tocpj/openaccess2.htm).
90 Jennifer Abel, “Theories of 9/11,” Hartford Advocate, January 29, 2008 (http://www.ae911truth.org/press/23).
91 See The Mysterious Collapse, 150-55.
92 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Vol. 1: 346.
93 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, November 2008, Vol. 2 (http://wtc.nist.gov/NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR%201-9%20Vol%202.pdf), 462.
94 For documentation and discussion of NIST’s claim about the lack of girder shear studs, see Griffin, The Mysterious Collapse, 212-15.
95 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Vol. 2: 384, Figure 9-11.
96 Interim Report on WTC 7, NIST, June 2004 (http://wtc.nist.gov/progress_report_june04/appendixl.pdf), L-26. This contradiction is pointed out in a video, “NIST Report on WTC7 Debunked and Exposed!” YouTube, December 28, 2008 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFpbZ-aLDLY), at 0:45 to 1:57.
97 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Draft for Public Comment, Vol. 2 (http://wtc.nist.gov/media/NIST_NCSTAR_1-9_vol2_for_public_comment.pdf), 595.
98 “WTC 7 Technical Briefing” (video), NIST, August 26, 2008, at 1:03. NIST has removed this video and the accompanying transcript from the Internet. However, Nate Flach has made the video available at Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/11941571), and the transcript, entitled “NIST Technical Briefing on Its Final Draft Report on WTC 7 for Public Comment,” is available at David Chandler’s website (http://911speakout.org/NIST_Tech_Briefing_Transcript.pdf).
99 Ibid., at 1:01:45.
100 David Chandler, “WTC7 in Freefall – No Longer Controversial,” September 4, 2008 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVCDpL4Ax7I), at 2:45.
101 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Vol. 2: 607.
102 Chandler, “WTC7 in Freefall – No Longer Controversial,” at 3:27.
103 “Questions and Answers about the NIST WTC 7 Investigation.”
104 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Draft for Public Comment, Vol. 2: 595-96, 596, 610.
105 Symposium on State Crimes Against Democracy, American Behavioral Scientist 53 (February 2010): 783-939 (http://abs.sagepub.com/content/vol53/issue6).
106 Matthew T. Witt, “Pretending Not to See or Hear, Refusing to Signify: The Farce and Tragedy of Geocentric Public Affairs Scholarship,” American Behavioral Scientist 53 (February 2010): 921-39 (http://abs.sagepub.com/content/vol53/issue6), at 935.
107 “The Myth of Implosion” (http://www.implosionworld.com/dyk2.html).
108 See Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, 30-31.
109 As to how domestic terrorists could have gotten access, an answer becomes possible if we are aware that Larry Silverstein, who owned Building 7 and had recently taken out a lease on the rest of the World Trade Center, stood to make several billion dollars if it was destroyed in a terrorist attack, and that a brother and cousin of George W. Bush were principals of a company that handled security for the World Trade Center (Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking, 111).
110 Some have seen drug profits as central. Others have focused on access to oil, natural gas, and minerals. For example, economist Michel Chossudovsky, referring to the allegedly recent discovery of huge reserves of minerals and natural gas in Afghanistan, wrote: “The issue of ‘previously unknown deposits’ sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World’s most wealthy mineral economies . . . [whereas in reality] all this information was known in minute detail” (Michel Chossudovsky, “’The War is Worth Waging’: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas: The War on Afghanistan is a Profit Driven ‘Resource War,’” Global Research, June 17, 2010 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19769).
111 Dr. Gideon Polya, author of Body Count: Global Avoidable Mortality Since 1950, has estimated that there over four million Afghanis have died since the 2001 than would have died without the invasion; see “January 2010 – 4.5 Million Dead in Afghan Holocaust, Afghan Genocide,” January 2, 2010, Afghan Holocaust, Afghan Genocide (http://afghangenocide.blogspot.com).
112 On US-NATO war crimes in Afghanistan, see Marc W. Herold, “Media Distortion: Killing Innocent Afghan Civilians to ‘Save our Troops’: Eight Years of Horror Perpetrated against the People of Afghanistan,” Global Research, October 15, 2009 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15665).
113 See The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7, and, more recently, “Building What? How SCADs Can Be Hidden in Plain Sight,” 911Truth.org, May 27, 2010 (http://911truth.org/article.php?story=20100527162010811).
114 “Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address,” New York Times, January 20, 2009 (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/20/us/politics/20text-obama.html).
115 I wish to thank Tod Fletcher and Elizabeth Woodworth for considerable help with this essay.
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There’s the Freedom of Information Act, and then there’s Ventura’s way.
The official spin on numerous government programs is flat-out bullshit, according to Jesse Ventura. In this incredible collection of actual government documents, Ventura, the ultimate non- partisan truth-seeker, proves it beyond any doubt. He and Dick Russell walk readers through 63 of the most incriminating programs to reveal what really happens behind the closed doors. In addition to providing original government data, Ventura discusses what it really means and how regular Americans can stop criminal behavior at the top levels of government and in the media. Among the cases discussed:
• The CIA’s top-secret program to control human behavior
• Operation Northwoods—the military plan to hijack airplanes and blame it on Cuban terrorists
• The discovery of a secret Afghan archive—information that never left the boardroom
• Potentially deadly healthcare cover-ups, including a dengue fever outbreak
• What the Department of Defense knows about our food supply—but is keeping mum
Although these documents are now in the public domain, the powers that be would just as soon they stay under wraps. Ventura’s research and commentary sheds new light on what they’re not telling you—and why it matters.
About the Author
Jesse Ventura is the former governor of Minnesota and author of several bestselling books, including Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me! and American Conspiracies. Ventura is the host of the television show Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Venturaon truTV. He lives in Minnesota and Mexico.Dick Russell is a nationally respected activist, environmentalist, and author of critically acclaimed books, including, with Jesse Ventura, The New York Times bestsellers Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me! and American Conspiracies. He is also the author of On the Trail of the JFK Assassins and The Man Who Knew Too Much. Russell is a prolific publisher in many of the nation’s top magazines and has been a guest on many national TV and radio programs, including the Joan Rivers Show and NBC Nightly News. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars If you wanna know whats behind the scenes – you totally have to buy this book!, April 4, 2011
This review is from: 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read (Hardcover)
Who has read the book 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read will think twice if he or she gives furthermore blind faith to the mainstream media. With this book fiction should not be mistaken for facts, because every document is evidence and exposes the background on incidents. Truth about the backgrounds of the state power and different corporations, as well as about the CIA and the military. At the same time it becomes clear that democrats and Republicans work hand in hand, even when it seems that they are enemies.
It is shocking what has developed within the last 50 years under the cloak of a so-called democracy in the USA. Who could have written this book better as Jesse Ventura and Dick Russel? In my opinion nobody, because Ventura is not only the host of TruTV’s Conspiracy Theory, he is a former Navy Seal, was a governor of Minnesota and knows how the system runs. He put some tough questions to you because he is serious about the issues on which he wrote about. Dick Russell is also not unknown. He has already published 7 books. Only the book American Conspiracies, which he also wrote with Jesse Ventura, was seven weeks in the New York Times bestseller list in spring of 2010.
Many events which are describe in this book stand absolutely differently in the history books, above all in the history books of the schools or universities, or they were not mention. However who exactly reads notices that many events are like small jigsaw puzzle parts which can join together. If JFK, Vietnam and the gulf of Tonkin incident, operation Northwoods or 9/11 the declarations and documents in this book not only make somebody wonder they provide more evidence than the official government has ever offered. Questions over questions: Only the events on the 11th of September leave until this day still many unanswered questions. In consideration of the reports in the book 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read these questions become less. What also becomes less is the faith in the official theory and the book teaches us that a clear common sense and scientific facts and arguments mean more than officially given fictions and people who don’t want to get insult their intelligent anymore just have to read this book.
However, not only these subjects are discussed, also subjects about the machinations of the CIA or the brokers are addressed. I don’t wanna tell too much about the new book, but this must be said: Who only wants to hear what the mainstream media sells should not sell the book, because with this book you can find out what the media NOT shows to the public or what was censored there. In short: Here you can find out what the government doesn’t want you to read.
I give a buy recommendation for this book and I am sure that this book also becomes a best-seller.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars “REQUIRED READING” for American Citizens, April 5, 2011
This review is from: 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read (Hardcover)
Did you know that our government planned on intentionally killing our own soldiers and civilians to falsely justify an invasion of Cuba? That led to President Kennedy’s firing of the General who was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That came on the heels of “SIOP-62”; the “Single Integrated Operational Plan” was an actual military proposal for the total nuclear annihilation of the entire Communist bloc in 1962. It was formally presented to President Kennedy as a recommendation and he was so furious that he literally stormed out of the meeting in disgust.
Understanding our history is vital because informing us of the near catastrophes of the past also helps us avoid them going forward. So if you think that “false flag” attacks and the rounding up of innocent citizens are the realm of overzealous “conspiracy theorists,” then this book is a very important heads-up.
In “63 Documents,” Ventura & Russell team up successfully again in a no-holds-barred exposé of government corruption:
#1: Links between past government perpetrations and today’s political agendas, such as the CIA’s Secret Assassination Manual: “Maybe they should change the name to the CIA’s ‘Secret First Degree Murder Manual.’ How is it that we are allowed to kill other people if we’re not in a declared war with them?”
#2: Delves into a series of government, military, and corporate secrets. Many veterans of the first Gulf War suffer adverse health conditions, yet the government denies the validity of Gulf War Syndrome. “What’s it going to take for our leaders to consider the real cost of these endless wars?”
#3: A history of “shady” White Houses. Including an internal war “between Nixon and Richard Helms, director of the CIA… Time and again, the CIA thumbs its nose — even at Presidents. So who runs this agency if the President doesn’t?”
#4: The truth about the terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001. “The question that’s haunted me from day one is: “How come the world’s biggest military superpower was somehow oblivious to rogue airliners in American air space for more than an hour?”
#5: Examines the true facts behind the “War on Terror”– such as the CIA’s destruction of detainee torture videos.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Intersting Book., April 4, 2011
This review is from: 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read (Hardcover)
“63 Documents” is a very interesting book to read. What’s most interesting to me is the fact that they are real Governmental documents! No fluff or made up stuff. Just the facts.
Check out the video promo he made on youtube. Straight from the horses mouth
Imperialism: A Beginner’s Guide
An image of torture and execution from the Philippine–American War.
In waging its resistance to capitalist exploitation abroad, the worker’s movement has heavily involved itself in anti-imperialism in its actions and stances. In resisting this force, it is essential for us to have a coherent and consistent understanding of imperialism. What is it? What are its forms? What brought it about and how are we to resist it? These questions and more have been engaged in full by the classical theorists of Marxism-Leninism and expounded upon in detail. As such, we at do not pretend that we can summarize every aspect of this phenomena in adequate detail in only one article. Rather, this article is intended as a beginner’s guide to understanding imperialism in general terms. For more information, it is highly recommended that the reader consult the works of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Enver Hoxha on the topic, as well as other Marxist-Leninists who have engaged the subject of imperialism in our time. Imperialism: What is it?
To put it simply, imperialism is the highest evolution of the capitalist system beyond the borders of individual nation-states, allowing for the exploitation of workers and material resources trans-nationally. As capitalists consolidate their institutions and corporations into monopolies, fueling this expanding network of corporate conglomerates through the emergence of a finance industry which gives industrialists additional capital toward these ends, there is increased incentive to exploit material and human resources abroad. What imperialism does is create a means for powerful capitalists in some countries to expand their empire into others, benefitting from the labor power and raw materials which would otherwise belong to another nation-state utilized for that state’s own industry, leading to drastically higher profits for the imperialists.
Waterboarding by US Troops in the Philippines. They called it “the water cure.”
Imperialism as Capitalism’s Evolution
Imperialism is an inevitable evolution in a capitalist system. What drives this inevitability is the profit motive itself. Where the technology allows for the potential for reaping profits outside of the confines of national and state boundaries, where the need arises for commodities, for means of production and labor resources outside of the immediate surroundings of capitalists in their own country, the incentive to push beyond exists. As well, the existence of other imperialist powers works to encourage increasingly colonialist attitudes towards those countries that already exist in a subservient position to imperialist powers. Why sit idly by when there is a profit to be made, and why sit on their hands when their rivals might take the opportunity sooner? Imperialist War & Transnational Exploitation
This drive for colonies and client states has been a major motivation for war in post-feudal society. The early 20th century saw much in the way of imperialist competition over colonies and protectorates in Africa, Asia and Latin America by Germany, Great Britain, France, and other European countries.
Heroro survivors after an escape through the desert during Germany’s Herero & Namaqua Genocide.
It was in this context that the first genocides of the 20th century, those perpetrated by Germany against the Herero and Nama peoples, took place and set precedents for later genocides which would take place in that century. The drive for profits and power lead the leading capitalists to pour their funds into colonialist projects reaching over much of the face of the earth. The United States played its part in the imperialist blood-letting as well, committing troops to the Philippines in 1899 as well as utilizing the opportunities presented in World War I and World War 2 to expand its influence into Europe and elsewhere. Nationalism and Racism: Imperialism’s fig-leaves
In order to get their populations to go along with bloody acts of imperialism, nationalism and notions of racial superiority have been implemented to justify the domination of other peoples. In 1899, the same year as the United States began its involvement in the colonial domination of the Philipines, Rudyard Kipling published a poem entitled “The White Man’s Burden.” While there are those intellectuals who will defend Kipling for writing this as satire, the essential message of the poem is that imperialism is a positive mechanism for raising up backward and “savage” peoples. He writes:
Take up the White Man’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.
Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.
This argument, that imperialism endeavors to colonize peoples “for their own good” and is necessary to raise people up from “backwardness” has been used in many an imperialist war. In the United States, as an emerging bourgeois state was trying to capture land and mineral resources from lands occupied by indigenous peoples, the massacre of Native peoples in the process of manifest destiny was made out to be, in part, a means of “taming the wild man.” What followed after decades of massacre, the indoctrination and abuse of children through boarding schools, theft of land and betrayal of treaties was not an “uplifting” of native peoples, but their destruction. Now, as imperialism suggests war as a means of “spreading democracy” in “backward regions of the globe,” one must heed the lesson that imperialism is not about helping the colonized, lest that “help” be helping them into a shallow grave. National Liberation
In their defense against the bloody threat posed by imperialism, the workers and colonized peoples of the world have taken up one principle weapon to defending their lives, livelihoods and homelands from invasion and colonization. That force is national liberation, which comes as the result of a nation’s people organizing and fighting on behalf of their national sovereignty and independence from imperialist powers. It is national liberation movements that pose the greatest means of defense for peoples facing imperialist domination. When these movements continually exert pressure on invaders, from protests and strikes to taking up arms against their armies, national liberation movements sap energy from imperialist forces and make their occupations increasingly more costly. From the Eastern Front in World War II to decolonization in Africa and Asia, from Vietnam to Iraq, Afghanistan to Palistine and elsewhere, national liberation struggles have fought to throw off the chains of imperialism. While some collaborate and preach reformist non-solutions to the travesty of colonialist violence and conquest, there are those willing to sacrifice their lives for liberation.
Imperialism can and must be fought on more fronts than this. Workers of all countries should lend their voices and action to both resisting the implementation of imperialist programs and policies on behalf of their own nation (like, for instance, protesting against the latest imperialist war) and supporting the struggles of those who fight on the front lines against imperialist invasion in their own countries. This force, this solidarity of workers the world over against imperialism and colonialism, is a prime example of internationalism. Internationalism is the consummate thorn in the side of imperialism both in practical and ideological terms. It not only works to resist nationalism and racism, the ideological grease that lubricates imperialism’s gears, but it also brings the battle to imperialism’s doorstep.
We saw such internationalism in the US anti-war movement during Vietnam and see it manifested today in the modern anti-war movement and solidarity work to lend support to movements abroad fighting imperialism. Just as imperialism does everything in its power to break national liberation movements through violence and economic repression (blockades, etc) imperialism also works to battle efforts of solidarity with colonized peoples at home, as we have seen through notorious domestic surveillance programs like COINTELPRO and in the recent raids on peaceful anti-war activists by Obama’s FBI. Carry on the Struggle against Imperialism!
Imperialism is capitalism’s bloodiest and most hegemonic form. It is the most powerful and sadistic force arrayed against the workers of the world. It is a threat to us all, whether we are a Palestinian family fearing massacre at the hands of Israeli White Phosphorus attacks or an anti-war activist having the jack-boots of state-repression kicking down the door for daring to lend your voice to the cause of national liberation. This force is one that requires all of our work to resist, for there can be no peace nor justice in a world of the dominators and the dominated.
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- Categories Apartheid, Colonialism, Economic Exploitation, Economics, History, Imperialism, Imperialist War, International, Philippines, Science, Theory, United States History, Workers Struggle, World History
- Author The Red Phoenix
A Visual History of Water-Based Tortures
Waterboarding is not a new or modern technique; it is one of many water-based tortures with long and well-documented histories of use by religious officials, military officers, and civilians. Many of those uses have resulted in public trials and convictions. These pictures depict a variety of water-based tortures including but not exclusively waterboarding, to place current practices in a historical context.This chronology is far from complete; if you’re aware of other pictures of waterboarding please let us know
1478~1574: The Spanish Inquisition
“The toca, also called “tortura del agua”, consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning.”
1800s: A Common Scold
Scolding was a common punishment for antisocial women in early Europe and America. Water-based tortures were used to identify witches or inflict suffering on suspects as a trial by ordeal. Presuming that God would help the innocent by performing a miracle on their behalf, suspects would be mistreated to see if God (or Satan) would intercede.
1858: “Negro Convict Showered to Death”, Auburn State Prison, New York
In what Harper’s Weekly would call a “fearful picture of the mismanagement of our public institutions … a convict named More was, imprisoned in the State Prison at Auburn, was showered to death by the prison officials. … all the water that was in the tank — amounting to from three to five barrels, the quantity is uncertain — was showered upon him in spite of his piteous cries; a few minutes after his release from the bath he fell prostrate, was carried to his cell, and died in five minutes.” “The use of the shower-bath as a means of coercing criminals into submission to the orders of prison authorities began to be general about the year 1845.”
1956~1957: The Algerian Occupation
The French military used waterboarding against civilians suspected of cooperation with FLN in “Battle of Algiers“, including their fellow French citizens. In this video, Algerian journalist Henri Aleg talks about how he was tortured with “simulated drowning”.
1968: United States soldiers, Da Nang, Vietnam
On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier near Da Nang. The caption said the technique induced “a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk.” This picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier.
1980: Hissene Habre, Chad
Drawings by a human rights group in Chad show examples of waterboarding used in the 1980s by Chadian forces under the command of military ruler Hissene Habre, who was indicted in 2005 by a Belgian court for torture and crimes against humanity and faces prosecution in Senegal.
1980~2000: Latin America
Waterboarding and other water-based tortures such as “el submarino” — the submarine — were practiced against prisoners of both sides of the Peruvian Internal conflict. Similar interrogations were practiced in the Argentine Dirty War.
2002~2003: United States Central Intelligence Agency
“The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.” As depicted by ABC News, “Only Three Have Been Waterboarded by CIA“, November 02, 2007
This picture of US soldiers supervising the waterboarding of North Vietnamese prisoners was published in a US newspaper in 1968, resulting in an investigation and convictions. [Source: Bettmann / Corbis]In 2007, it will be reported that the CIA used the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding on at least three detainees. The Associated Press will claim the detainees are:
Abu Zubaida, who is captured in March 2002 and tortured around May 2002 (see March 28, 2002 and Mid-May 2002 and After).
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is captured in November 2002 (see Early October 2002 and (November 2002)).
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM), who is allegedly captured in early 2003 (see February 29 or March 1, 2003 and Shortly After February 29 or March 1, 2003). [Associated Press, 12/11/2007]
NBC News will report a list of three that includes Hambali, who is captured in August 2003 (see August 12, 2003 and Shortly After August 12, 2003). NBC’s list also mentions KSM and Zubaida, but does not mention al-Nashiri. [MSNBC, 9/13/2007] In a 2007 book, former CIA Director George Tenet will hint that slightly more than three may have been waterboarded, writing, “The most aggressive interrogation techniques conducted by CIA personnel were applied to only a handful of the worst terrorists on the planet, including people who had planned the 9/11 attacks…” [Tenet, 2007, pp. 242] ABC News will claim in September 2007, “It is believed that waterboarding was used on fewer than five ‘high-value’ terrorist subjects…” [ABC News, 9/14/2007] Prior to 2002, waterboarding was classified by the US government as a form of torture, and treated as a serious criminal offense. US soldiers were court-martialled for waterboarding captives as recently as the Vietnam War. The technique is said to simulate death by drowning. [New Yorker, 8/6/2007] In the 1600s, King James I of England wrote about the torture his government was using and stated that waterboarding was the most extreme form of torture used, worse than the rack and thumbscrews. [Harper’s, 12/15/2007] In 2007, it will be revealed that at least some of the interrogations of Zubaida and al-Nashiri were videotaped, and it is suspected by some that their waterboarding may have been taped (see Spring-Late 2002). These tapes will later be destroyed under controversial circumstances (see November 2005). A government official will later claim that waterboarding is no longer used after 2003. The CIA and US military will prohibit the use of waterboarding in 2006. [Associated Press, 12/11/2007]
Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Hambali, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaida
Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, Complete 911 Timeline
life-magazine-may22-1902-US soldiers waterboarding a detainee in the Philippines, durring the US- Philippine war, combating against the native insurgents defending againt USA occupation
for more see > http://torturebreedsterrorism.wordpress.com/
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“Waterboarding” is the latest name for a form of water torture going back to the Middle Ages in Europe, but condemned as illegal and immoral since the 1700s. Banned from Europe, water torture persisted in other parts of the world, including some European colonies, until the mid-20th century.
In the United States, water torture first appears as a means to terrorize slaves. It persists into the 20th century as a routine punishment for African American convict laborers in the Deep South. Most notoriously, it was used by U.S. soldiers on Philippine captives during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). After that war, the technique shows up sporadically in some domestic police departments as a way to force detainees to confess to a crime.1
The “water cure”: Here’s a description by 1st Lt. Grover Flint, 35th U.S. Infantry, of a typical field interrogation in the occupied Philippines:
A man is thrown down on his back and three or four men sit or stand on his arms and legs and hold him down, and either a gun barrel or a rifle barrel or a carbine barrel or a stick … is simply thrust into his jaws … as a gag. In the case of very old men I have seen their teeth fall out — I mean when it was done a little roughly. He is simply held down, and then water is poured onto his face, down his throat and nose …, and that is kept up until the man gives some sign of giving in or becomes unconscious.… A man suffers tremendously; there is no doubt about that. His suffering must be like that of a man who is drowning, but who can not drown.2
Soldiers and officers called this technique “the water cure,” after a type of alternative health care, popular in the 1800s, in which applying cold water to the body was considered therapeutic. By using this term to name an excruciating torture, the soldiers were making what ethicist Jonathan Glover calls a “cold joke” — a humorless witticism that distances the torturer from his own action by making nonsense of the victim’s suffering.
As far as I know, no one has yet uncovered the origin of the term “waterboarding.” But if it was coined by the men who practice it today, it probably also originates in a cold joke — possibly an attempt to call the torture an “extreme sport,” by analogy with snowboarding, sandboarding, dirtboarding, etc. [Update: Why we call it waterboarding]
Water torture and slavery: As mentioned, water torture probably made its first appearance in North America as a means to control African slaves. At least one slaveholder seems to have regarded it as an appropriate punishment for slaves considered too small or weak for whipping. The earliest reference I’ve seen is an oblique one, contained in an 1815 verse satire lampooning James Caller, a politician in Mississippi Territory. Believing himself surrounded by Indian warriors, Caller is seen promising God that, if spared, he will no longer starve or abuse his slaves: “Nor will I shave their heads, for small offence, / Nor pour on water, ’til deprived of sense.” The author adds that this water torture was “a mode of punishment adopted by [Caller], among his small slaves, for trivial offences: and to which a gentleman was an eye witness.”3
Modern innovations: Convict laborers in the post-Civil-War South — often black men arrested on trumped-up charges to fill labor quotas or to break strikes at southern mines — endured a loss of freedom identical to slavery, but under even more brutal conditions. Punishments included routine whippings and, what was considered worse, the “water cure,” which sometimes resulted in death. Atlanta industrialist Joel Hurt considered the “water cure” an improvement on whipping because the prisoner, if he didn’t die, could be returned to work immediately afterward.
Convict labor bosses used the tools available to them to develop variations on the water torture. In one of these, the victim was stripped naked and made to stand under an ice-cold shower until he collapsed with hypothermia. In another, he was stripped and tied to a chair, then a high-pressure water hose was turned on him, pounding his skin and filling his nose and mouth with water until he felt he was drowning.4
It’s difficult not to infer some continuity between this latter technique (used at Birmingham, Alabama mines) and the fire hoses turned on civil-rights demonstrators at the direction of Birmingham Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor in 1963.
“Waterboarding” is water torture. I hope this sketch makes plain that to refer to waterboarding as anything other than torture is to commit euphemism in the service of centralized power.
- Paul Kramer, “Annals of American History: The Water Cure,” The New Yorker, 25 Feb 2008.
- Storey, Moorfield, and Julian Codman, Secretary Root’s Record: “Marked Severities” in Philippine Warfare (G.H. Ellis Co., 1902). Contemporary exposé of war crimes in the Philippines, including the “water cure.”
- Wallach, Evan, “Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime,” Washington Post, 4 Nov 2007, p. B1. Opinion by a National Guard judge advocate general.
- Weiner, Eric, “Waterboarding: A Tortured History,” National Public Radio, 3 Nov 2007. Incorrectly picks the Philippine War as the first use of water torture in U.S. history.
1 The last reported episode of water torture by U.S. police occurred in 1983 in Texas. ↩
2 U.S. Senate Doc. 331, Hearings Before the Senate Committee on the Philippine Islands, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., 1902, vol. II, p. 1767; quoted in Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-hating and Empire-building (New American Library, 1980), p. 320. ↩
3 [Lewis Sewall], The Last Campaign of Sir John Falstaff the II.; or, The Hero of the Burnt-Corn Fight (St. Stephens, 1815), p. 13. ↩
4 Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (Anchor Books, 2009), pp. 71, 319, 347, 368. ↩