Sunday, November 30, 2008

Double Cover [3]: What Is A False Flag Attack?

We continue our look at mainstream coverage of the Mumbai attacks:

Michael Evans of the Times:
The group that claimed to be behind last night’s attacks on Bombay -- the Deccan Mujahideen — has not hitherto been heard of in India, let alone in the outside world.
Boston Globe:
An e-mail message to Indian media outlets taking responsibility for the attacks said the militants were from a group called Deccan Mujahedeen. The word "Deccan" refers to a plateau in southern India, and "Mujahedeen" refers to holy warriors. Almost universally, analysts and intelligence officials said that name was unknown.

Deccan is a neighborhood of the Indian city of Hyderabad. The word also describes the middle and south of India, which is dominated by the Deccan Plateau. But the combination of the two words, said Gohel, is a "front name. This group is nonexistent."

"It's even unclear whether it's a real group or not," said Bruce Hoffman, a professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the author of the book "Inside Terrorism."
Somini Sengupta for the New York Times:
A group calling itself the Deccan Mujahedeen said it had carried out the attacks. It was not known who the group is or whether the claim was real.
Al Jazeera:
the Indian media, citing unidentified police investigators, reported on Friday that three alleged attackers had confessed to being members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based group which aims to end Indian rule in Kashmir.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which means army of God, had earlier denied any role in the attacks.

The Hindu newspaper said interrogation of the suspects revealed that Lashkar operatives had left Karachi in Pakistan in a merchant ship early on Wednesday and went ashore at Mumbai on a small boat before splitting up into teams to attack multiple locations.
The Indian navy, stepping up patrols on the country's western coast after the attack, was questioning the crew of the MV Alpha, a ship they detained with the help of the Indian coast guard, British authorities said. The authorities said they believe the attacks originated from this ship, which they believe is from Karachi, Pakistan.

The British authorities also said three speedboats -- carrying weapons and militants -- traveled along the Indian coast from the ship to Mumbai and launched the attack.

However, Karachi police said have no evidence the attackers departed from their city, Waseem Ahmad, the police chief, said.

All Signs Point To Al Qaeda

Michael Evans of the Times:
The multiple attacks on Westerners in Bombay last night showed all the signs of an al-Qaeda strategy — picking on vulnerable Western “soft targets” but not in a country where there would be maximum security.
Michael Evans of the UK Times:
Bombay has been targeted before when 180 people died during a bomb attack on the railway station in 2006, but that incident was put down to militants, not al-Qaeda, and the Indian government suspected that the attackers had links to Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI.

This attack, however, involving the taking of Western hostages made it more likely that the operation’s masterminds were from the core leadership of al-Qaeda, which is based in the lawless tribal regions close to the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.
[A] British security official told the AP on condition of anonymity that the attack doesn't look to have been directed by al-Qaida's core leadership, which has been weakened by the deaths of several leaders and key operatives in recent months.

Al-Qaida's core leadership is believed to be fewer than 100 people now, said Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside Al-Qaida" and a terrorism expert at the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore.
Boston Globe:
Christine Fair, senior political scientist and a South Asia expert at the RAND Corporation, was careful to say that the identity of the terrorists could not yet be known. But she insisted the style of the attacks and the targets in Mumbai suggested the militants were likely to be Indian Muslims and not linked to Al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba, another violent South Asian terrorist group.

"There's absolutely nothing Al Qaeda-like about it," she said of the attack. "Did you see any suicide bombers? And there are no fingerprints of Lashkar. They don't do hostage-taking and they don't do grenades."

Timing And Motive

Keith Bradsher and Somini Sengupta for the International Herald Tribune:
The suspicions raised by the attack seemed a blow to relations between India and Pakistan, which had been recovering from a low earlier this year after India blamed the Pakistani intelligence agency for abetting the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan.
A CNN report said the attacks came just after Asif Ali Zardari, the new Pakistani president, went farther than any of his predecessors in expressing a desire for better ties with India. Zardari was quoted as saying he would even like to see the two nuclear powers jointly fight terrorism.


"We condemn these attacks and the loss of innocent life," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.


The Israeli defense establishment Thursday avoided stating explicitly if the attack on Chabad House in Mumbai was planned or coincidental. One scenario raised was that the terrorists arrived there randomly while fleeing after an exchange of gunfire with Mumbai police. It is also possible that Chabad was targeted as part of an attack in which hotels were "marked" as points for the abduction and murder of Western tourists, centrally American and British citizens.
Israeli forces were believed to be involved in the rescue attempt at the Jewish centre. "The Israelis are the ones who are running the show," one diplomatic source told AFP.
Israel sent a number of intelligence officers to India Thursday to assist in analyzing the major terrorist attack on Mumbai.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday offered India security, intelligence and humanitarian aid in dealing with the situation.

It appears the Indian government is not interested in high profile security assistance from Israel. Throughout the day, the Homefront Command prepared to send an aid delegation to India, but efforts were halted when it became clear that Mumbai was not enthusiastic about the prospect.


Daily Express [UK]:
A police source [...] suggested that the attack could have been revenge for the killing of Rashid Rauf, a British Al Qaeda chief blown up by the US last week.
That's a good one. I'd take that bet!

This carefully planned and coordinated assault could have been revenge for an alleged killing that happened (if it did happen) just four days earlier.

Yes! Exactly! Now I understand!!


the series continues here:
Double Cover [4]: Beyond Ridiculous

Double Cover [1]: Nothing Can Ever Be The Same
Double Cover [2]: What Is A Commando Raid?

To comment on this post, please click here and join the Winter Patriot community.

Double Cover [2]: What Is A Commando Raid?

Coordinated Terror Attacks

Here are some brief snippets from more-or-less randomly selected mainstream news reports pertaining to the Mumbai attacks. I have added the emphasis.

New York Times:
Coordinated terrorist attacks struck the heart of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, on Wednesday night, killing dozens in machine-gun and grenade assaults on at least two five-star hotels, the city’s largest train station, a Jewish center, a movie theater and a hospital.
The NYT has a map showing where the attacks took place -- 13 locations in all.

Who Was Caught By Surprise?

Michael Evans of the [UK] Times:
British security and intelligence sources said there had been increasing concern, particularly in the United States, that a “terrorist spectacular” was on the cards. [...] The Americans have been expecting an atrocity partly because of the recent CIA success in eliminating figures in al-Qaeda, using Predator unmanned drones, firing Hellfire missiles at hideouts in the tribal regions of Pakistan. About a dozen al-Qaeda figures have been killed this year.
Spy agencies around the world were caught off guard by the deadly attack, in which gunmen sprayed crowds with bullets, torched landmark hotels and took dozens of hostages.

"We have been actively monitoring plots in Britain and abroad and there was nothing to indicate something like this was about to happen," a British security official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work.

Britain is the former colonial power in India and Pakistan and closely monitors terrorist suspects in those countries.
"This type of terrorism is spreading, through Pakistan and now India, but we were all surprised by such a large-scale attack like this," said Wajid Hassan, Pakistan's High Commissioner in London. "This is no coincidence that this type of attack happened so soon after the bombing of the Marriott Hotel. People from all countries are being paid to fight this al-Qaida war. This is a war that goes beyond any nationality."

How Many Attackers Were There?

Al Jazeera:
An estimated 100 armed men launched what India police called "terrorist attacks" on 10 locations in India's financial centre.
The identity of the attackers remained a mystery. CNN-IBN quoted police sources as saying they believed there were some 26 gunmen, most of them young.

What Happened?

Police say the attackers came by boats to the waterfront near the Gateway of India monument.

Nine suspects have been arrested in connection with the attacks, and seven are fishermen, police said. Police also found a boat loaded with explosives near the Taj Mahal, also located on the waterfront.

The gunmen hijacked cars -- including a police van -- and split into at least three groups to carry out the attacks, police said.

One group headed toward the Cafe Leopold, a popular hangout for Western tourists, firing indiscriminately at passers-by on the street. They then opened fire and lobbed grenades at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, a Victorian building.

As police rushed to the scene of the attacks, gunmen attacked the Cama Hospital.

Two other groups attacked the Oberoi and Taj Mahal, police said.
The gunmen appear to have come ashore at the Sassoon Docks, not far from the Leopold. They moved on to the train station, the old Victoria Terminus, and then opened fire on Cama and Albless Hospital — where some of their earlier victims encountered a second round of gunfire. At one point, the gunmen hijacked a police vehicle and opened fire on journalists and spectators gathered near a famous theater, the Metro Cinema.

Witnesses and security camera video of the gunmen built a portrait of them as young men dressed in jeans and trendy T-shirts, bearing rucksacks and guns. It remained unclear who they were, what they wanted, or how many survived.

Who Were The Targets?

Boston Globe:
Several witnesses said the gunmen demanded to see passports from cornered guests, separating American and British tourists from the others.
"I guess they were after foreigners, because they were asking for British or American passports," said Rakesh Patel, a British witness who lives in Hong Kong and was staying at the Taj Mahal hotel on business. "They had bombs."
New York Times:
Rakesh Patel, a British businessman who escaped the Taj, told a television station that two young men armed with a rifle and a machine gun took 15 hostages, forcing them to the roof.

The gunmen, dressed in jeans and T-shirts, “were saying they wanted anyone with British or American passports,” Mr. Patel said.
Al Jazeera:
Witnesses at the hotels that were targeted said the attackers had singled out British and American citizens.

"They kept shouting: 'Who has US or UK passports?'" Ashok Patel, a British citizen who fled from the Taj Mahal hotel, said.

Several European legislators, visiting Mumbai ahead of a European Union-India summit, were among those inside the Taj when it was besieged.
Guests who escaped recounted how the gunmen had methodically tried to round up US and British citizens.

"They said they wanted anyone with British and American passports," said one Briton, Rakesh Patel.
New York Times:
Alex Chamberlain, a British citizen who was dining at the Oberoi, told Sky News television that a gunman ushered 30 to 40 people from the restaurant into a stairway and, speaking in Hindi or Urdu, ordered everyone to put up their hands.

"They were talking about British and Americans specifically. There was an Italian guy, who, you know, they said: 'Where are you from?' and he said he's from Italy and they said 'fine' and they left him alone. And I thought: 'Fine, they're going to shoot me if they ask me anything' — and thank God they didn't," he said.
Alex Chamberlain, a sports website director, escaped from the hotel through a fire exit. The militants ordered everyone upstairs, told them to put their hands up and asked if there were any British or Americans, he said. "My friend said to me: 'Don't be a hero, don't say you are British'."
Alex Chamberlain, a Briton who works for Indian Premier League cricket, was in the Oberoi hotel when the attackers opened fire. Chamberlain said that a group of about 40 people was "marched up like sheep" to the roof by a "young guy with a submachine gun, who was about 22 or 23."

The gunmen then asked if any of the hostages were British or American, Chamberlain told

"My Indian friend told me, 'don't be a hero' and 'tell him you're Italian' and that kind of stuff," Chamberlain said.
"They told everybody to stop and put their hands up and asked if there were any British or Americans," Alex Chamberlain, a British guest at the Oberoi/Trident hotel, said after fleeing his captors via a fire escape.

"My friend said to me, 'don't be a hero, don't say you are British.'"
Al Jazeera:
They just fired randomly at people and then ran away.
-- Nasim Inam, at Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus
At least three top Indian police officers — including the chief of the anti-terror squad — were among those killed, said A.N. Roy, a top police official.

What Is A Commando Raid?

Somini Sengupta for the New York Times:
Even by the standards of terrorism in India, which has suffered a rising number of attacks this year, the assaults were particularly brazen in scale and execution. [...] Unlike previous attacks in India this year, which consisted of anonymously planted bombs, the assailants on Wednesday night were spectacularly well-armed and very confrontational. In some cases, said the state’s highest-ranking police official, A. N. Roy, the attackers opened fire and disappeared.
Boston Globe:
Security officials and analysts agreed that the assaults represented a marked departure in scope and ambition from other recent terrorist attacks in India, which targeted local people rather than foreigners and hit single rather than multiple targets.

The Mumbai assault, by contrast, was "uniquely disturbing," said Sajjan Gohel, a security specialist in London, because it seemed directed at foreigners, involved hostage-taking, and was aimed at multiple "soft, symbolic targets." The attacks "aimed to create maximum terror and human carnage and damage the economy," he said by phone.

How Much Planning Was Involved?

Boston Globe:
Although Mumbai has been the scene of several terrorist attacks in recent years, analysts said Wednesday's assaults required a previously unseen degree of reconnaissance and planning. The scale and synchronization of the attacks pointed to the probable involvement of experienced commanders, some observers said, suggesting possible foreign involvement.
State media Press Trust of India, citing Union Cabinet Minister Kapil Sibal, reported the gunmen had worked for months to prepare, even setting up "control rooms" in the two luxury hotels that were targeted.
The Times:
Indian officials said that it was too early to say which [group] carried out last night’s attacks, but the scale, complexity and targets suggested that it was the work of an Islamist group.
It may indeed have been the work of an Islamist group. But to my eye, the scale, the complexity and the targets -- combined with the reporting -- suggested that it was something else entirely.


the series continues here:
Double Cover [3]: What Is A False Flag Attack?

Double Cover [1]: Nothing Can Ever Be The Same

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Double Cover [1]: Nothing Can Ever Be The Same

The Mumbai terrorist attacks began Wednesday evening and I've been reading about the situation -- and thinking hard -- ever since. The most noteworthy feature so far is the prevalence of unsubstantiated assertions that make no sense at all. I haven't been doing a systematic survey of the world's media -- just grabbing stories from wherever they pop up -- and every item I've stumbled across has been contaminated with spin. Or at least that's the way it strikes me.

Then again, maybe it's become impossible for terrorism -- and news of terrorism -- to strike me any other way. I've seen too much, I've been lied to too many times, to ever take anything at face value -- except the occasional (accidental?) admission of horrors committed by unrepentant (audacious!) perpetrators.

Now that we know the geniuses at the Pentagon have conceived and implemented a worldwide program of fomenting terrorism, nothing can ever be the same.

According to the Department of Defense, it is fighting a war on terror which requires, or allows, it to perpetrate (or con others into perpetrating) acts of "terrorism" which can then be used as pretexts for war against the "terrorist groups" thus "exposed".

This is not a new tactic. It has been used often and very successfully, by Americans both at home and abroad, and by foreign nationals both ancient and modern.

But now, in post-9/11 America, it is official policy.

Darkness Visible

How do we know this? Chris Floyd wrote about it in 2002 for the Moscow Times:
This column stands foursquare with the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, when he warns that there will be more terrorist attacks against the American people and civilization at large. We know, as does the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, that this statement is an incontrovertible fact, a matter of scientific certainty. And how can we and the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, be so sure that there will be more terrorist attacks against the American people and civilization at large?

Because these attacks will be instigated at the order of the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense.

This astonishing admission was buried deep in a story which was itself submerged by mounds of gray newsprint and glossy underwear ads in last Sunday's Los Angeles Times. There – in an article by military analyst William Arkin, detailing the vast expansion of the secret armies being massed by the former Nixon bureaucrat now lording it over the Pentagon – came the revelation of Rumsfeld's plan to create "a super-Intelligence Support Activity" that will "bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception." According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, the new organization – the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)" – will carry out secret missions designed to "stimulate reactions" among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to "counterattack" by U.S. forces.

In other words – and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan – the United States government is planning to use "cover and deception" and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people. Let's say it again: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and the other members of the unelected regime in Washington plan to deliberately foment the murder of innocent people – your family, your friends, your lovers, you – in order to further their geopolitical ambitions.

For P2OG is not designed solely to flush out terrorists and bring them to justice – a laudable goal in itself, although the Rumsfeld way of combating terrorism by causing it is pure moral lunacy. (Or should we use the Regime's own preferred terminology and just call it "evil"?) No, it seems the Pee-Twos have bigger fish to fry. Once they have sparked terrorists into action – by killing their family members? luring them with loot? fueling them with drugs? plying them with jihad propaganda? messing with their mamas? or with agents provocateurs, perhaps, who infiltrate groups then plan and direct the attacks themselves? – they can then take measures against the "states/sub-state actors accountable" for "harboring" the Rumsfeld-roused gangs. What kind of measures exactly? Well, the classified Pentagon program puts it this way: "Their sovereignty will be at risk."

The Pee-Twos will thus come in handy whenever the Regime hankers to add a little oil-laden real estate or a new military base to the Empire's burgeoning portfolio. Just find a nest of violent malcontents, stir 'em with a stick, and presto: instant "justification" for whatever level of intervention/conquest/rapine you might desire. And what if the territory you fancy doesn't actually harbor any convenient marauders to use for fun and profit? Well, surely a God-like "super-Intelligence Support Activity" is capable of creation ex nihilo, yes?

The Rumsfeld-Bush plan to employ murder and terrorism for political, financial and ideological gain does have historical roots (besides al Qaeda, the Stern Gang, the SA, the SS, the KGB, the IRA, the UDF, Eta, Hamas, Shining Path and countless other upholders of Bushian morality, decency and freedom). We refer of course to Operation Northwoods, oft mentioned in these pages: the plan that America's top military brass presented to President John Kennedy in 1963, calling for a phony terrorist campaign – complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans – to provide "justification" for an invasion of Cuba, the Mafia/Corporate fiefdom which had recently been lost to Castro.

Kennedy rejected the plan, and was killed a few months later. Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods, but on a far grander scale, with resources at his disposal undreamed of by those brass of yore, with no counterbalancing global rival to restrain him – and with an ignorant, corrupt president who has shown himself all too eager to embrace any means whatsoever that will augment the wealth and power of his own narrow, undemocratic, elitist clique.

There is genuine transgression here, a stepping-over – deliberately, with open eyes, with forethought, planning, and conscious will – of lines that should never be crossed. Acting in deadly symbiosis with their supposed enemies, the terrorist mafias, Bush and his cohorts are plunging the world into an abyss, an endless night of black ops, retribution, blowback, deceit, of murder and terror – wholesale, retail, state-sponsored, privatized; of fear and degradation, servility, chaos: the perversion of all that's best in us, of all that we've won from the bestiality of our primal nature, all that we've raised above the mindless ravening urges and impulses still boiling in the mud of our monkey brains.

It's not a fight for freedom; it's a retreat into darkness.

And the day will be a long time coming.

Into The Dark

The darkness has been descending quickly. Chris Floyd wrote this column in early 2005:
More than two years ago, we wrote here of a secret Pentagon plan to foment terrorism: sending covert agents to infiltrate terrorist groups and goad them into action – i.e., committing acts of murder and destruction. The purpose was two-fold: first, to bring the terrorist groups into the open, where they could be counterattacked; and second, to justify U.S. military attacks on the countries where the terrorists were operating – attacks which, in the Pentagon's words, would put those nations' "sovereignty at risk." It was a plan that countenanced – indeed, encouraged – the deliberate murder of innocent people and the imposition of U.S. military rule anywhere in the world that American leaders desired.

This plan is now being activated.

In fact, it's being expanded, as the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh revealed last week. Not only will U.S.-directed agents infiltrate existing terrorist groups and provoke them into action; the Pentagon itself will create its own terrorist groups and "death squads." After establishing their terrorist "credentials" through various atrocities and crimes, these American-run groups will then be able to ally with – and ultimately undermine – existing terrorist groups.

Top-level officials in the Pentagon, the U.S. intelligence services and the Bush administration confirmed to Hersh that the plan is going forward, under the direction of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld – just as we noted here in November 2002. Through a series of secret executive orders, George W. Bush has given Rumsfeld the authority to turn the entire world into "a global free-fire zone," a top Pentagon adviser says. These secret operations will be carried out with virtually no oversight; in many cases, even the top military commanders in the affected regions will not be told about them. The American people, of course, will never know what's being done in their name.

The covert units – including the Pentagon-funded terrorist groups and hit squads – will be operating outside all constraints of law and morality. "We're going to be riding with the bad boys," one insider told Hersh. Another likened it to the palmy days of the Reagan-Bush years: "Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador? We founded them and we financed them. The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren't going to tell Congress about it." Indeed, we reported here last summer that Bush has already budgeted $500 million to fund local paramilitaries and guerrilla groups in the most volatile areas of the world, a measure guaranteed to produce needless bloodshed, destruction and suffering for innocent people already ravaged by conflict.

Incredibly, as Hersh notes, the Bushists are now openly citing a sinister role model for their campaign: Britain's brutal repression of the Mau Mau in Kenya during the 1950s, when British forces set up concentration camps, created their own terrorist groups and killed thousands of innocent civilians in putting down an "insurgency" against their colonial rule. And in fact, Rumsfeld and other Bush officials increasingly talk of combating not just terrorism but a "global insurgency" – as if the whole world is now an American colony, filled with recalcitrant "natives" rising up against their rightful masters.

The activation of the Pentagon terrorist operation is part of Bush's second-term expansion of the "war on terror." Despite some obfuscating rhetoric about "diplomacy," the Bush regime is pressing ahead with a hard-line strategy aimed at opening new military fronts in the "global free-fire zone." Any dissenting voices within the government are being ruthlessly purged. The Pentagon's secret forces are set for operations in at least 10 countries, and Bush insiders "repeatedly" told Hersh that "Iran is the next strategic target."

Iran has long been a focus of the small clique of "global dominationists" – led by Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and their acolytes – who engineered the invasion of Iraq. This group is determined to "whack Iran," as one insider put it, and they're not at all discouraged by the debacle in Iraq; indeed, to them it's a rousing success. Their first objective – openly stated years ago, before Bush took office – was the overthrow of Saddam's regime and the planting of a U.S. "military footprint" in Iraq. This has now been done. The fact that it has plunged the Iraqi people into a hell of violence, chaos, terror and extremism is of no real concern to the clique. Their lofty rhetoric about "freedom" and "liberation" is meaningless sham, shuck and jive for the rubes. By the admission of the clique's own publications, they seek strategic control over the world's energy resources in order to preserve and expand American geopolitical and economic hegemony in the new century. Everything else – including the security of the American people, put at increasing risk by the clique's reckless policies – is of secondary importance.

U.S. forces are already conducting military reconnaissance inside Iran in preparation for strikes on alleged nuclear weapons facilities, Hersh reports. The Pentagon is feverishly updating war plans for a "maximum ground and air invasion of Iran," incorporating the new staging areas now available in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, while employing an Iranian terrorist group, MEK, to launch covert ops and terrorist acts against Tehran. MEK was once given sanctuary by Saddam Hussein, who used the group as a brutal enforcer against Kurd and Shiite insurgents. Now Bush, "riding with the bad boys," has embraced the MEK murderers as his own.

In their ignorance and arrogance, the Bushists will almost certainly strike at Iran – despite the fact that even Iranian dissidents support the effort to make their nation a nuclear power and would join the mullahs in retaliation. The result will be a conflict far surpassing the horror and magnitude of the Iraq disaster.

In our original report on the Pentagon's terror scheme, we wrote: "Bush and his cohorts are plunging the world into an abyss, an endless night of murder and terror – wholesale, retail, state-sponsored, privatized; of fear and degradation, servility, chaos, and the perversion of all that's best in us." Now the night has come. Now the United States stands openly – even proudly – for terrorism, torture and the Hitlerian principle of aggressive war. America has fallen into the pit – and the hopes of the world go with it.

And It Makes Me Wonder ...

This deliberate crossing of the line -- or diving into the pit, as you prefer -- has demolished any shred of "plausible deniability" the CIA and its clandestine operations may once have enjoyed.

And now, whenever we see terrorist acts -- especially attacks such as these: spectacular multi-pronged assaults that seem to come from nowhere, which are claimed by groups nobody has ever heard of -- we always have to wonder. And for every detail that doesn't make sense, a dozen suspicions arise.


the series continues here: Double Cover [2]: What Is A Commando Raid?

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Land For Nukes: Dying Of Sadness

Do you want the truth? Can you handle the truth? There's more than enough here to make you weep and scream, from Chris Floyd:
Britain and America cut a secret deal: land for nukes. London sliced off a sliver of its imperial dominions and gave it to Washington, in exchange for a price reduction on some sleek new nuclear missiles. Together, the two great democracies then drove the inhabitants of the sliver from their homes by force, dumping them into poverty-ridden exile hundreds of miles away. Washington built an imperial outpost on the stolen land, a military base which it used to "project dominance" over strategic regions in Central Asia and the Middle East. Later, the outpost became yet another link in Washington's chain of "black sites" -- secret prisons where captives snatched without charges or due process could be hidden from the world and tortured.

This is the story of the Chagos Archipelago, a chain of small islands in the Indian Ocean whose inhabitants were forced from their land forty years ago to make way for a military base on the island of Diego Garcia. The base, built and staffed largely by the Americans but operated jointly with the British, has been the launching pad for countless air strikes against Iraq (in two wars) and Afghanistan. It has also served as one of the sinister way stations in America's global gulag. In return for its use of the ethnically cleansed land, Washington graciously knocked off $14 million from the price tag of some Polaris nuclear missiles that Britain craved, in its never-ending struggle to retain some crumbs of its own, now-faded "projection of dominance" on the world stage.
Chris's site gets hacked a lot, and it's having trouble again lately, so it probably won't hurt if I post big excerpts here.
For years, American and British officials conducted a careful, deliberate campaign of deceit to "justify" the theft of the land. But finally, a series of British courts ruled that the seizure had been illegal and that the Chagossian people had a right to return to their homes. In a desperate bid to avert justice, the government of Tony Blair invoked the "royal prerogative" to quash the rulings. When the courts found the government had improperly applied this nebulous but draconian power, it appealed to the Law Lords.

Late last month, the Lords delivered their decision: by the slim margin of 3-2, they upheld the government, and denied the Chagossian's right to return to their homes. The ruling contained these chilling words from Lord Hoffman: ""The right of abode is a creature of the law. The law gives it and the law may take it away." Even though the judges acknowledged that the initial theft had been wrong, the "law" -- in the form of arbitrary decisions by a government acting in the name of an unelected monarch -- had papered over that festering injustice, and the cover must be left undisturbed. Thus in quiet, measured, respectable tones, the Magna Carta is cast aside. But what of that? As we have seen in the United States in the past few years, that ancient, crumbling document now has all the force of a wad of tissue paper.
You should know more about this. We all should. John Pilger's "Stealing a Nation" is a powerful video documentary record of a long and very shameful episode. I posted it here last summer; it's not available in the same form anymore (but see below!)

In Pilger's words, which I quoted at the time:
There are times when one tragedy, one crime, tells us how our whole system works, behind its democratic facade, and helps us understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful, and how governments often justify their actions with lies.
Often? How often? Approximately always??

Floyd again, introducing Pilger's latest:
The court's ruling was lost in the great global media roar over the U.S. elections. But John Pilger was there with the Chagossians when the decision was handed down, and he gives this report (from
I went to the Houses of Parliament on 22 October to join a disconsolate group of shivering people who had arrived from a faraway tropical place and were being prevented from entering the Public Gallery to hear their fate. This was not headline news; the BBC reporter seemed almost embarrassed. Crimes of such magnitude are not news when they are ours, and neither is injustice or corruption at the apex of British power.

Lizette Talatte was there, her tiny frail self swallowed by the cavernous stone gray of Westminster Hall. I first saw her in a Colonial Office film from the 1950s which described her homeland, the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, as a paradise long settled by people "born and brought up in conditions most tranquil and benign." Lizette was then 14 years old. She remembers the producer saying to her and her friends, "Keep smiling, girls!." When we met in Mauritius, four years ago, she said: "We didn't need to be told to smile. I was a happy child, because my roots were deep in Diego Garcia. My great-grandmother was born there, and I made six children there. Maybe only the English can make a film that showed we were an established community, then deny their own evidence and invent the lie that we were transient workers."

During the 1960s and 1970s British governments, Labour and Tory, tricked and expelled the entire population of the Chagos Archipelago, more than 2,000 British citizens, so that Diego Garcia could be given to the United States as the site for a military base. It was an act of mass kidnapping carried out in high secrecy. As unclassified official files now show, Foreign Office officials conspired to lie, coaching each other to "maintain" and "argue" the "fiction" that the Chagossians existed only as a "floating population." On 28 July 1965, a senior Foreign Office official, T.C.D. Jerrom, wrote to the British representative at the United Nations, instructing him to lie to the General Assembly that the Chagos Archipelago was "uninhabited when the United Kingdom government first acquired it."...

"To get us out of our homes," Lizette told me, "they spread rumors we would be bombed, then they turned on our dogs. The American soldiers who had arrived to build the base backed several of their big vehicles against a brick shed, and hundreds of dogs were rounded up and imprisoned there, and they gassed them through a tube from the trucks' exhaust. You could hear them crying. Then they burned them on a pyre, many still alive."

Lizette and her family were finally forced on to a rusting freighter and made to lie on a cargo of bird fertilizer during a voyage, through stormy seas, to the slums of Port Louis, Mauritius. Within months, she had lost Jollice, aged eight, and Regis, aged ten months. "They died of sadness," she said. "The eight-year-old had seen the horror of what had happened to the dogs. The doctor said he could not treat sadness."
Floyd's piece, "Dying of Sadness in the Shadow of Empire ", concludes:
For the Chagossians, the fight goes on. They will next appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, but that seems a forlorn course. Even if, after what would doubtless be years of legal manuevering, they received a favorable verdict -- what then? Would any U.S. president -- even one famously committed to hope and change -- dismantle a major American military outpost just because some prissy Europeans told him to?

Especially a base of such strategic importance. For it seems that bombing and torturing people are not the only uses the Anglo-American defenders of civilization have for the Diego Garcia base. Although the base itself takes up only a fraction of the archipelago, the United States and Britain insist that they must have a 100-mile exclusion zone around the facility -- which is why it is not only the natives of Diego Garcia proper who are barred from their homes, but all the Chagossians as well.

As David Simon points out in the Guardian, this is a highly unusual demand; if it was applied to the several U.S. bases in Britain, for example, it would require the removal of 60 million people from their homes. What else are the Americans and Britons doing at Diego Garcia that requires such a ring-fence of secrecy? One possible clue might lie in the fact that neither Britain and the United States recognize Diego Garcia as part of the African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty, which both nations signed in 1996. It seems clear that one or both of the powers are either keeping nuclear weapons at the site, or wish to be able to put them there at any time -- in preparation for, say, a strike on Iran or some other state gone "rogue".

In any case, it is highly likely that Washington and London will be able to drag out the case until the Chagossians die off or dwindle into whispering insignificance, like so many of the "recalcitrant tribes" who have stood athwart the various agendas of our ever-civilized Anglo-American elites.
And here's the video:

John Pilger: Stealing A Nation

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Thankful At Last / Apologies

The post I wrote yesterday could have been read in a very different way than it was intended, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of my readers took it the wrong way.

It was a Thursday, and I woke up in the usual bad mood. My first thought was: "We're all still complicit in the most horrible crimes. And they're still going on." Then I shuffled off to the bathroom.

Then I realized it was Thanksgiving, and that I had to work all day and teach in the evening. Beautiful.

I was (am) ticked about Obama choosing to leave Bob Gates in charge of the Pentagon. I was (am) ticked about how many people are still in denial about who Barack Obama is, and what he wants, and who he's working for -- even though he has told us as clearly as possible, over and over. I was (am) stunned about the Mumbai attacks, and I was pressed for time. But the blog needed something new.

I was thinking: "Happy Thanksgiving? Thanks for what? Thanks for nothing!" And I wrote a post to that effect.

I didn't realize until much later, after a long burst of hard work and a series of errands, that I do have a large number of things to be thankful for. But they all seem hollow because they aren't shared blessings.

I'm thankful to still have a home. I'm thankful to have a mostly-functional family. Not everyone can say either of these things, let alone both.

I'm thankful to still have a job. Not everyone can say that.

I'm especially thankful to have a job that engages my mind to such a degree that I can occasionally forget, for a moment or two, that we're all still complicit in the most horrible crimes. Not everyone can say that, either.

I'm thankful that my emotions still work. Sad news and sad songs still make me cry -- like a little kid, sometimes. That's rare in adults. But I still have it, along with my thinning gray hair.

I'm thankful to play music. Somehow I left all my guitars in the closet for almost 20 years, but I've got them out again now, and I play them all as often as I can. Last night I practiced acoustic and steel, and taught electric and bass. My classical guitar is in the shop. I am thankful to have all these different guitars, and to be able to play them all. I'm even thankful for the intolerable old man who drilled music theory into my head, against my will, for six long years.

But these are all private blessings. I can't share them with my friends, or my neighbors; some of them I can't even share with my family. And it feels rude -- unconscionably selfish -- to be thankful for so many things that so many other people don't have, and that I can't give them.

After figuring all this out, and settling down a bit, and overcoming some of my anger, I began to realize that I had left something off the list -- something I do share with my friends; something I can share with anyone who wants some.

I'm talking now about my blog, and our community blog, and the group of people, from all over the world, who have congregated around them. It's not the largest group that ever gathered around a blog; and it's not the largest blog either -- so what?

I am thankful to have readers who come back; who care about people they have never even met; who have valuable insights and questions about the world and who value my opinions about it; who leave me comments and send me email and tell me things I never would have thought of myself, some of which make me think, learn, and weep.

Without you, the rest of it would be intolerable. And if my angry post yesterday gave you a different idea, I apologize.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Clueless By Design

In the New York Times, Peter Baker and Thom Shanker report:
President-elect Barack Obama has decided to keep Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in his post [...] Democrats close to the transition said Tuesday.
They note that this
will be the first time a Pentagon chief has been carried over from a president of a different party[.]
How audacious!

Is this Change you can Believe in? Or Change you can Hope for?

As an aid to understanding this non-transition, the NYT piece quotes Loren B. Thompson, Chief Operating Officer of the Lexington Institute.

According to Thompson's biography, he
holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.
As Source Watch has noted, Thompson has been quoted in major media, downplaying atrocities committed in Iraq by American troops.

He told the Christian Science Monitor:
You could probably construct an empirical case that US forces are exhibiting more restraint in their treatment of Iraqi civilians than has ever been seen in past wars of similar scale and duration. Almost all of the atrocities that have been alleged involve small units deliberately disobeying rules of engagement and the orders of senior officers.
We know this is not true.

He told the San Francisco Chronicle:
When you look at the circumstances of whom we send and what we expect them to do, it's surprising we don't have more of those cases.
If this is true, it's a powerful indictment. War apologists like to say, in one way or another:
It's a war: What do you expect? Wars inevitably produce atrocities. Get over it.
On the other hand, if all wars produce atrocities, then they shouldn't be waged casually, or on false pretenses, should they?

Regarding the Obama team's decision to keep Robert Gates in charge of the Pentagon, Loren B. Thompson told the New York Times:
I really can’t begin to understand from a political point of view how Barack Obama, a person who got the nomination because he ran against the Iraq war, can keep around the guy who’s been in charge of it for the last two years.
There are plenty of political observers who do understand it, of course, and some who saw it coming a long time ago. But the New York Times cannot possibly quote any of them --- any of us.

Why not? Because we're not part of the established order? Because we might tell too much of the truth?


Heather Wokusch, at Atlantic Free Press, writes an open letter to the president-elect:
To be honest, Obama, you lost me when you voted for the PATRIOT Act reauthorization in 2006. You lost me again when you voted for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) amendment in 2008. And you lost me every single time you voted for yet more war funding.

Don't even get me started on your vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

I cast a ballot for you in November ...
And so did millions of others.

And now we will all get what they deserve.


In honor of the cluelessness around us, and in recognition of the day when we celebrate our genocide against the people who lived in North America before it was "discovered", I've made a list of all the things that we -- as Americans and as citizens of the world -- have to be thankful for today:
Our so-called enemies may have a shorter list.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Torturing Democracy: A Documentary That Could Put Dick Cheney Out Of Our Misery

Torturing Democracy, an expose of how and why America came to be involved in open large-scale torture of prisoners (many of whom were simply shepherds captured by mountain tribesmen and sold into captivity), is now available for viewing online.

As Scott Horton reported last month, PBS can't find a time slot for this Frontline documentary until January 21, 2009 -- the day after Bush and Cheney are scheduled to leave office.

Horton has reported more recently that this documentary could help to provide "A Ticket to The Hague for Dick Cheney". Why? Because it has the power to change the minds of influential people in denial.

Horton explains:
Gene Burns is one of the nation’s most popular talk radio hosts. For years he has dismissed accounts of torture; America, he has said, does not torture. But last night, after watching Torturing Democracy and realizing that he had not understood how important and serious an issue torture had become, Burns abruptly changed his tune. Here’s a transcript of his remarks.
I now believe that some international human rights organization ought to open an investigation of the Bush Administration, I think focused on Vice President Dick Cheney, and attempt to bring charges against Cheney in the international court of justice at The Hague, for war crimes. Based on the manner in which we have treated prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, and the manner in which we have engaged in illegal rendition–that is, surreptitiously kidnapping prisoners and flying them to foreign countries where they could be tortured by foreign agents who do not follow the same civilized standards to which we subscribe.

I’ve always said that I’ve thought that even at Guantánamo Bay the United States was careful to stay on this side of torture. In fact, you may recall that on a couple of occasions we got into a spirited debate on this program about waterboarding, and whether waterboarding was torture. And I took the position that it was not torture, that it was simulated drowning, and that if that produced information which preserved our national security, I thought it was permissible.

And then I saw Torturing Democracy.

And I’m afraid, now that I have seen what I have seen, that I was wrong about that. It looks to me, based on this documentary, as if in fact we have engaged in behavior and practices at Guantánamo Bay, and in these illegal renditions, that are violations of the international human rights code.

And I believe that Dick Cheney is responsible. I believe that he was the agent of the United States government charged with developing the methodology used at Guantánamo Bay, supervising it for the administration, and indulging in practices which are in fact violations of human rights.
A large part of the population still credits the Bush Administration’s absurd claim that it never embraced or applied torture to detainees as a matter of policy. Two recent documentaries, Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side (for which I was both a consultant and interviewee) and Sherry Jones’s PBS feature Torturing Democracy investigate the administration’s policies and conduct. Both draw from decision-makers inside the administration and soldiers on the frontline.

The administration did its best to spike both films. Taxi was to be aired on the Discovery Channel, but with Discovery Communications then in the process of going public and facing sensitive SEC clearances, executives apparently decided not to risk provoking the anger of the White House. As I reported elsewhere, PBS also found that it had no network space for Torturing Democracy until January 20, 2009 — the day the Bush Administration decamps from Washington.

Why was the administration so concerned about these two films? The conversion of Gene Burns supplies the answer. No one who sits through these films, I believe, will be able afterwards to accept the official version of events. George Bush has good reason to be afraid of too many Americans watching these documentaries.
George Bush is not the only one who has good reason to be afraid of too many Americans watching these documentaries. And that, in my opinion, is good incentive to watch them -- and to spread the word about them!

So here are those links again:
Torturing Democracy
Taxi to the Dark Side

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Rashid Rauf's Family Says Reports Of His Death By US Air Strike Are False

Family members of Rashid Rauf are disputing the widely-reported claim that he was killed in a US missile strike in Pakistan on Saturday, and it would be altogether fitting and proper if they were correct. None of the other news that has been widely reported about Rashid Rauf and the so-called "Liquid Bombers" has stood up to serious scrutiny, either. Rarely if ever in human history has more been done with less.

Airports still enforce restrictions which were put in place in August 2006, after twenty-five people were arrested in Britain, supposedly because they had been plotting to create explosives from hydrogen peroxide and other common household liquids while aboard transatlantic flights, destroying multiple airliners more or less simultaneously in a spectacular attack which would rival or exceed 9/11.

Depending on what report you were reading at the moment, Rashid Rauf was described as the messenger or the mastermind, or the bomb-making expert, or perhaps only the messenger's friend: in any event it was clear that Rashid Rauf was the al Qaeda connection in the Liquid Bomb plot, so-called.

Rauf's arrest in Pakistan had precipitated all the police action in the UK, we were told, although the date and place and means of that arrest were all sketchy, and reports on all of the above tended to differ. Somehow -- the mechanism was never clear -- Rashid Rauf had managed to send a message to his alleged co-conspirators in Britain, telling them to go ahead with their plot immediately, or so we were told.

The police in the UK had intercepted the message and tracked down the would-be recipients, according to the tale. How Rauf had sent a message like that from captivity remained a mystery to some.

Others wondered how the alleged plotters could possibly go ahead with their plan, considering that they had not yet made any bombs or bought any tickets, and that most of them hadn't even applied for passports yet. Surely, if he were the mastermind, Rashid Rauf would have known all this. Wouldn't he?

And then the details of the alleged plot were leaked to the British newspapers, and they didn't make any sense. The process the alleged plotters were supposedly going to use to create their so-called bomb would have taken far longer than the flight would be in the air, and would have required far more space and equipment than they possibly could have had.

So a second round of conflicting details was leaked, to the New York Times this time, and the NYT published an article that was so hot that the NYT itself refused to distribute it in Britain. British readers were also barred from reading the piece online, unless they knew where else they could find such a thing. The technical details of the alleged plot were different than they had originally been reported. And once again, the plot as described was impossible.

Of the twenty-five British suspects originally arrested, one was released immediately, and twelve more were released without any charges having been laid. Eight of the others were charged with conspiracy to commit murder by detonating explosives on aircraft. After a very lengthy trial, in which yet another impossible plot was described as evidence, a British jury refused to convict any of them of that charge. Even though the judge told the jury he would accept a 10-2 or 11-1 decision, the jury could not reach a verdict on seven of the defendants -- but they did aquit the other one.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, Rashid Rauf was charged with terrorism and brought to court but the police hadn't prepared a case against him, so his case was delayed -- several times. Finally they got to court and it turned out that Rashid Rauf had been charged with possession of hydrogen peroxide for the purposes of terrorism. Apparently the peroxide in Rashid Rauf's possession was allegedly intended to be used in the creation of the liquid bombs that were supposedly going to knock down all those airplanes. But once again the story didn't make any sense. How could hydrogen peroxide in Pakistan blow up planes headed from Heathrow to the USA? And why wouldn't British terrorists in Britian buy their bomb-making ingredients from British sources? Would they really need to obtain hydrogen peroxide from an al Qaeda mastermind? The Pakistani judge dismissed the charges.

The government moved quietly and the charges were reinstated. And another round of delays began. Finally -- after nearly another year -- the charges were dropped again. But Rashid Rauf remained in prison, pending resolution of an extradition request from the British.

Officially, Pakistan and the UK do not have an extradition treaty. But exceptions can always be made, especially if a quid pro quo is available. Officially, the British never requested Rashid Rauf's extradition on the Liquid Bomb case; they wanted him in connection with the stabbing murder of Rauf's uncle in Birmingham. Immediately after his uncle was killed, Rashid Rauf fled to Pakistan, so the story goes; and never since then has he been seen in Britain.

The British arrested a pair of human rights activists from Balochistan, where Pakistan is currently waging an unpublicized war of aggression. The Pakistani government would love to keep this story quiet; they wanted the two activists in exchange for Rashid Rauf. And the British allegedly wanted Rauf for questioning in connection with the plot he supposedly masterminded. So the deal was set ... but it didn't happen.

Not that it matters much, but I never thought it would. The British had been very lukewarm in their extradition requests, and rightly so, in my opinion. The so-called plot, including the purported al Qaeda connection, smelled bad even before the first arrests were announced, with politicians on both sides of the Atlantic delivering unprecedented loads of manure in the hours immediately before the story broke.

Rashid Rauf, it seemed to me, might be an agent provocateur, and I thought he would be a very dangerous witness to question in a court of law. So I thought it was easy to understand the reluctance of the British authorities to press too hard for his extradition.

And then he escaped from -- or was deliberately released by -- the policemen who were detailed to escort him to and from a court date, and who were utterly negligent about trying to recapture their man. Or else, depending on your sources, he may have been captured by Pakistani intelligence to keep him out of the normal justice system. The original reports indicated that Rashid Rauf had overpowered his guards; later it was reported that he had been allowed to go into a mosque to pray -- without supervision. The policemen who sat waiting for him to reappear didn't notify headquarters that they'd lost their man until six hours later. Five Pakistani policemen were arrested, and nine were sacked; but where was Rashid Rauf?

All the uncertainty, and all the obvious lying, came to a head on the weekend, when an unmanned US spy plane dropped a bomb on a mud house in North Waziristan, killing Rashid Rauf and four others, and injuring six more, according to reports in all the big media. But according to Rashid Rauf's family, the big media have it wrong again.

Rashid Rauf's wife, Umat-ul-Warood, has appealed to the Pakistani government for the return of her dead husband's body, in accordance with the Muslim tradition of burying the dead immediately. But the government says it doesn't know anything about it, as Pakistan's Online News reported:
Rashid Rauf's wife Umat-ul-Warood has urged Government to hand over dead body of her husband for burial, who died during a American drone attack on Saturday.

Sources informed here on Sunday, that the kin of Rashid Rauf (a Proclaimed Offender of London plane conspiracy case) arrived in Peshawar from Bahawalpur to receive the dead body.

On the other hand, Government sources has expressed their ignorance relating to the arrival of Rashid Rauf's relative to collect his dead body.
Now, according to the Guardian,
The family of Rashid Rauf, the British terror suspect who reportedly died last week in a US missile strike in Pakistan, have claimed he was not killed in the attack.

Speaking through Rauf's lawyer, Hashmat Malik, the family of Rauf's wife in Pakistan said that the body had not been handed over to them and the authorities were not responding to their questions.

Rauf's death had been revealed by unnamed Pakistani intelligence agents, the usual source of information on the casualties of American strikes in the country's wild tribal area.

"It's all a concocted story," said Malik. "We're sure that it is not Rashid Rauf."
The family says that prior to hearing that he was killed in a missile strike, they hadn't heard anything from Rashid since he "escaped from prison". And now, with the government refusing to hand over the body, they suspect that there is no body. The Guardian continues:
"There was no reason for him to be in North Waziristan, he has no link with al-Qaida or the Taliban," said Malik. "The entire family is hopeful that he is still alive. He might have met his death, but not through this strike."

The lawyer said that the family believed that if Rauf is dead, the Pakistani security agencies had killed him after his "escape".
But according to an AFP report, Rauf's lawyer doesn't believe Rashid Rauf is dead.
"We don't believe that this story is true... It is a fake story," lawyer Hashmat Ali Habib told BBC radio, adding: "We still believe that my client, Rashid, is alive."

He noted that requests for Rauf's body to be returned to his family had not been answered. "This is a new technique of the government to dispose of the cases like Rashid or other missing people," he said.
Hashmat Ali Habib is saying the government can remove the trail of the people it disappears by claiming they were killed by an American missile strike in the mountainous wild-lands. The Americans routinely refuse to confirm or deny reports that they are attacking inside Pakistan. So who's to know?

As the Guardian noted,
Rauf's death had been revealed by unnamed Pakistani intelligence agents, the usual source of information ...
Unnamed Pakistani intelligence agents are the usual source of information? Yes, indeed. How fortunate we are to have such a responsible and independent press!

For an overview of what I think is going on in this case, please see my piece from January, 2008: "Inadequate Deception: The Impossible Plots Of The Terror War".


thirty-eighth in a series

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Cossiga Spills More Beans On Our "Security Blanket"

Chris Floyd's site has been problematic lately; here is his most recent piece, in full (with a few comments):
Security Blanket: Western Democracy and the Strategy of Tension

by Chris Floyd | November 24, 2008

The idea that a democratic government would deliberately create fake "extremist groups" then send them out to foment violence and terrorism -- in order to discredit legitimate opposition to elite rule and to "justify" authoritarian powers -- has long been derided in "serious" circles as that worst of modern heresies: "conspiracy theory." Anyone advancing such a preposterous notion is instantly relegated to the ranks of the "lunatic fringe," and dismissed with varying degrees of contempt and condescension.

And the woeful fact that millions of the ruminants out there in the vast public herd swallow these wild tales and believe that their betters are up to no good is also widely deplored in the higher circles of public discourse. As any fully-accredited, perk-laden, sinecured think-tanker can tell you, democratic governments are led by men and women devoted to public service. Sure, there can be fierce disputes over policies and approaches and outcomes and ideologies and competence. Sure, some people may step over a line here and there in their pursuit of what they believe is the nation's best interests. But just as western democracies do not torture, do not launch aggressive wars, do not spy upon their own people or imprison them by the millions, they most assuredly do not create and support extremist groups and instigate acts of terror and chaos to advance authoritarian agendas.

It is indeed unfortunate that the general public is prey to these disturbing theories, which breed such a widespread distrust of the noble intentions and essential (if occasionally misguided or incompentently executed) goodness of our leading men and women. However, there is a very reasonable explanation for the credence given to these fringe beliefs:

They happen to be true.

We've written often here of the Pentagon's plan to foment terrorism where needed to achieve the goals of the "National Security State." This is but one of a staggering array of examples of the use of "the strategy of tension" by the "advanced" Western democracies of the modern world. This week came yet another. As Robert Mancini reports in the Guardian, the former president of Italy, Francesco Cossiga [photo], let a great many cats out of the bag when he gave some sage advice to Italy's current interior minister, Robert Maroni, on how to deal with the ongoing protests by students and professors over funding cuts for higher education.
Cossiga had previously let more than a few cats out of the same bag, when he said everybody on the inside knows that 9/11 was an inside job, planned and executed by the CIA and Mossad.

Chris Floyd continues:
As Mancini notes, Cossiga -- who had once been interior minister himself, as well as prime minister -- told the Quotidiano Nazionale [Italy's National Daily]:
"Maroni should do what I did when I was secretary of the interior. He should withdraw the police from the streets and the universities, infiltrate the movement with secret (provacateurs) agents, ready to do anything, and, for about 10 days, let the demonstrators devastate shops, set fire to cars and lay waste the cities. After which, strengthened by popular consent, the sound of ambulance sirens should be louder than the police cars. The security forces should massacre the demonstrators without pity, and send them all to hospital. They shouldn't arrest them, because the magistrates would release them immediately, but they should beat them up. And they should also beat up those teachers who stir them up. Especially the teachers. Not the elderly lecturers, of course, but the young women teachers.
Mancini notes that Cossiga's advice tracks closely with his own experience at the head of Italy's security organs in the 1970s:
For students of Italian political history, the interview is fascinating for the light it sheds on Cossiga's political views and in particular his activities between 1976 and 1978 when he too was interior minister, presiding over the police. In 1977, a demonstration by the Radical Party (partito radicale) was attacked by armed individuals who opened fire causing the death Giorgiana Masi, a 20 year-old girl.

Cossiga could not, or would not, explain what took place that day. More specifically, he was unable to shed light on whether the attackers came from within the police force....

Hence the interest in the recent interview, which sheds light on one of the most secretive periods of Italian history - the so-called "strategy of tension" that began with the 1969 bombing of Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura in Milan (carried out by the far-right and blamed on anarchists) through to the events at the G8 summit in Genoa in July 2001 where the mysterious right-wing "black-blok" group created the mayhem and destruction which brought forth the police violence against thousands of anti-globalisation protestors.
Yes, the story of terrorist creation, chaos and murder by Western governments is an old one -- especially in Italy, the epicenter of Operation Gladio, which I outlined in a Moscow Times column some years ago:
"You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force…the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security."

This was the essence of Operation Gladio, a decades-long covert campaign of terrorism and deceit directed by the intelligence services of the West – against their own populations.

Hundreds of innocent people were killed or maimed in terrorist attacks – on train stations, supermarkets, cafes, offices – which were then blamed on "leftist subversives" or other political opponents. The purpose, as stated above in sworn testimony by Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra, was to demonize designated enemies and panic the public into supporting ever-increasing powers for government leaders – and their elitist cronies.

First revealed by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in 1991, Gladio (from the Latin for "sword") is still protected to this day by its founding patrons, the CIA and MI6. Yet parliamentary investigations in Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have shaken out a few fragments of the truth over the years. These have been gathered in a new book, NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, by Daniele Ganser, as Lila Rajiva reports on

Originally set up as a network of clandestine cells to be activated behind the lines in case of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, Gladio quickly expanded into a tool for political repression and manipulation, controlled and funded by NATO and Washington. Using right-wing militias, underworld figures, government provocateurs and secret military units, Gladio not only carried out widespread terrorism, assassinations and electoral subversion in democratic states like Italy, France and West Germany, but also bolstered fascist tyrannies in Spain and Portugal, abetted the military coup in Greece, and aided Turkey's ferocious repression of the Kurds. All of this in the name of "preserving democracy" and "defending civilization."

Among the "smoking guns" unearthed by Ganser is a Pentagon document, Field Manual FM 30-31B, which detailed the methodology for launching terrorist attacks in nations that "do not react with sufficient effectiveness" against "communist subversion." Ironically, the manual states that the most dangerous moment comes when leftist groups "renounce the use of force" and embrace the democratic process. It is then that "US army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince Host Country Governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger." Naturally, these peace-throttling "special operations must remain strictly secret," the document warns.

Indeed, it would not do for, say, the families of the 85 people ripped apart by the August 2, 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station to know that their loved ones had been murdered by "men inside Italian state institutions and…by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence," as the Italian Senate concluded after its investigation in 2000.

The Bologna atrocity is an example of what Gladio's masters called "the strategy of tension" – fomenting fear to keep populations in thrall to "strong leaders" who will protect the nation from the ever-present terrorist threat. And as Rajiva notes, this strategy wasn't limited to Western Europe. It was applied – with gruesome effectiveness – in Central America by the Reagan-Bush administrations. During the 1980s, rightwing death squads, guerrilla armies and state security forces – armed, trained and supplied by the United States – murdered tens of thousands of people throughout the region, often acting with particular savagery at those times when peaceful solutions to the conflicts seemed about to take hold....
And as we have often noted here, similar operations -- the "El Salvador option," death squads, "High-Value Targeting," etc. -- have been an integral part of the Anglo-American subjugation of Iraq. Indeed, they are a pillar of the "counterinsurgency doctrine" proclaimed by the other president-in-waiting, David Petraeus, and now avidly embraced by the War Machine. As Tara McElvey reports in The American Prospect, the Pentagon is eager to apply "High-Value Targeting" and refinements of the "Phoenix Program" -- in which U.S. forces and local proxies murdered more than 20,000 people -- and the whole panoply of "psy-ops" to imperial imbroglios around the world, applying them "to Afghanistan, then Pakistan, the Philippines, Colombia, Somalia, and elsewhere."

It's true, of course, that the American people -- and Europeans, as well -- are showing signs of growing weariness and wariness of the heavy-handed security regimes their governments have imposed upon them. There also seems to be little enthusiasm for plowing ahead in the various killing fields opened up by their elites to reap the enormously profitable blood fruits of war. Public toleration for this extravagant adventurism will be even more diminished as the cratering of the global economy -- caused by the greed and deceit of those same elites -- continues to deepen.

But more war is exactly what we've been promised by our agents of change. More war, an even bigger War Machine, "tougher" security measures, national ID cards packed with personal data and tracking devices, more surveillance cameras, new "preventive detention" laws -- and more unbounded authority to use public money to bail out the elite. Yet how to make this happen in the current atmosphere of exhaustion and anxiety? How to catalyze the public into continuing to support the Security State? How to discredit the rising chorus of opposition to neocolonialism, elite cronyism, rampant militarism and growing authoritarianism?
It's not a tough question, really:
Elite elders like Francesco Cossiga know the answer: the strategy of tension. The Gladio way. Was this the kind of thing Joe Biden was talking about, when he said the "young president" would be tested by a crisis, and forced to take unpopular measures in response?

It seems our "interesting times" are going to continue unabated in this bold new era.
The 9/11 Denial Movement still sings refrains like "Nobody would ever do such a thing", and "Nobody would even think such a thing". But as Francesco Cossiga has admitted, all the national security insiders know it's standard practice ... besides which, the falsity of the official story was obvious from Day One.

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