Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Death Squad International: New Operation Condor Revelations

An Italian judicial investigation into the transnational snatch-and kill program known as Operation Condor has brought to light new evidence of U.S. government foreknowledge and probable complicity in these murderous operations.

According to information posted last Friday by the National Security Archive, newly declassified documents,

... show that the U.S. government had detailed knowledge of collaboration between the Peruvian, Bolivian and Argentine secret police forces to kidnap, torture and "permanently disappear" three militants in a Cold War rendition operation in Lima in June 1980--but took insufficient action to save the victims.

The new documents,

... address what has become known as "the case of the missing Montoneros," a covert operation by a death squad unit of Argentina's feared Battalion 601 to kidnap three members of a militant group living in Lima, Peru, on June 12, 1980, and render them through Bolivia back to Argentina. (A fourth member, previously captured, was brought to Lima to identify his colleagues and then disappeared with them.) "The present situation is that the four Argentines will be held in Peru and then expelled to Bolivia where they will be expelled to Argentina," a U.S. official reported from Buenos Aires four days after Esther Gianetti de Molfino, María Inés Raverta and Julio César Ramírez were kidnapped in broad daylight in downtown Lima. "Once in Argentina they will be interrogated and then permanently disappeared."

Operation Condor, the brainchild of Chile's murderous Pinochet regime was launched in 1975 as a covert program that targeted leftists for elimination; a planned political genocide that claimed tens of thousands of lives. By the time of its official launch, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay Peru and Uruguay were collaborating in the project.

The program became infamous for its terrorist operations when Chilean agents and anti-Castro exiles affiliated with Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles' fascist group CORU (Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations), planted a bomb under the car of former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and detonated it in September 1976 on Washington's Embassy Row, killing the outspoken Pinochet opponent and his colleague, Ronni Moffitt.

The Chilean Condor operative, Michael Vernon Townley, an American ex-pat with links to the Chilean fascist group Patria y Libertad and long-suspected of being a CIA asset, was later apprehended by the FBI as the organizer and bomb maker for the attack. Though convicted for the murders in federal court Townley was freed by authorities and remains to this day, in a U.S. Witness Protection Program.

Shortly after Letelier's assassination, Bosch and Posada conspired to blow up Cubana Airline Flight 455 on October 6, 1976, killing all 73 passengers on board.

Operation Condor drew from a seemingly inexhaustible pool of neofascists, anti-Castro terrorists, drug traffickers and military/intelligence operatives, many of whom were trained by the Pentagon at its infamous School of the Americas, and by the CIA at the Agency's Camp Peary facility near Williamsburg, Virginia. As such, Condor bears a striking resemblance to today's "extraordinary rendition" program and, similarly, utilized an unaccountable network of paramilitary "specialists," corporate cut-outs and dodgy characters to do the dirty work.

According to the Archive's latest revelations,

Peru's former military ruler, General Enrique Morales Bermudez, has admitted authorizing the Montonero kidnappings but continues to deny that Peru was a member of Operation Condor. But a secret CIA report, dated August 22, 1978, and titled "A Brief Look at Operation Condor" described Condor as "a cooperative effort by intelligence/security services in several South American countries to combat terrorism and subversion. The original members included services from Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia. Peru and Ecuador recently became members." (Emphasis added) A Chilean intelligence document confirms that Peru formally joined Operation Condor in March 1978.

A State Department cable dated several weeks after the kidnapping stated that "there seems to be little doubt that the Peruvian army, acting in concert with its Argentine counterpart, resorted to the kinds of illegal repressive measures more familiar in the Southern Cone" than Peru.

Italian judge Luisianna Figliolia, issued a 250-page court filing last December, indicting Morales, his military deputy Pedro Richter Prada as well as 138 other military officers from Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay involved the kidnapping, torture and "disappearance" of 25 Latin Americans who had dual Italian citizenship. The indictments followed a six-year probe by investigative magistrate Giancarlo Capaldo who referenced hundreds of declassified documents provided by the Archive's Southern Cone project.

"These documents provide hard evidence of Condor crimes," according to project director Carlos Osorio, "that almost 30 years later still demand the resolution of justice."

Battalion 601: The CIA's Handmaid

Argentina's Battalion 601 was tasked by the ruling junta to "internationalize" the battle against Marxism beyond national borders. A Foreign Task Force (GTE) coordinated through the State Intelligence Agency (SIDE), was created for this express purpose. Commanded by Gen. Carlos Guillermo Suárez Mason, a graduate of the U.S. Army's School of the Americas and a hard-line Nazi with links to Operation Gladio, Suárez Mason was later tied to international narcotrafficking networks throughout Europe and Latin America.

Suárez Mason was a key proponent of the crusade to "fight the first battle of World War III" in Central America. Indeed, much of the funding that flowed into the coffers of the so-called Nicaraguan "resistance" from Southern cone "dirty warriors" were derived from illicit narco-profits; a by-product of Argentina's involvement in the 1980 Bolivian putsch that installed Gen. Luis Garcia Mesa as president in La Paz. The coup had been financed by drug lord Roberto Suárez. (see "The CIA, Paramilitarism & Narcotrafficking: The Colombian Connection," for details of Bolivia's "Cocaine Coup.")

At the Fourth Congress of the Latin American Anti-Communist League in 1980, an affiliate of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), Suárez Mason argued for the need to develop the anticommunist struggle in Central America, especially in light of the 1979 overthrow of the corrupt Somoza dictatorship by the Sandinistas.

During the early 1980s WACL was directed by former U.S. Gen. John Singlaub, a key figure in the illegal arming of the Contra network. During Singlaub's watch WACL provided some $8 million for the initial cost of stationing Argentine advisors in Central America. According to Uruguayan journalist Samuel Blixen, the money may have come from secret funds managed by the CIA. A strong argument in favor of this scenario stems from the fact that years before the U.S. was publicly committed to overthrowing the Sandinistas, Argentine GTE operatives had created an extensive financial- and money-laundering network inside the United States. Blixen reports:

Leandro Sánchez Reisse is the only member of the External Task Force of Batallion 601 who has confessed the link between the Argentine advisors and drug trafficking to finance undercover operations. ...

Sánchez Reisse revealed that General Suárez Masón and the section of the army under his command received drug money...to fund counterinsurgency efforts in Central America. He explained that two businesses in Miami, one called Argenshow, dedicated to contracting singers for Latin American tours, and another called Silver Dollar, in reality a pawn shop, managed by Raúl Guglielminetti, were the two locations for transferring money. He admitted that Silver Dollar and Argenshow had channelled US$30mn in drug money sent via Panama to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. The money, he said, ended up in the hands of the Nicaraguan contras. He also revealed that since the mid-80s the CIA was fully informed of the two Florida businesses and that it gave its approval to the money laundering operations. ("The Double Role of Drug Trafficking in State Terrorism and Militarized Democracy," in Democracy, Human Rights, and Militarism in the War on Drugs in Latin America, TNI, Cedib and Inforpress Centroamericana, Guatemala, April 1997)

Yet despite overwhelming evidence of Peru's participation in Operation Condor, the program's links to international narcotics syndicates during General Morales' collaboration with Suárez Mason, President Alan García, a staunch U.S. ally in the "war on drugs," denounced the Italian indictments as an "affront to Peru's sovereignty."

The U.S. State Department has not commented on the case.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Welcome to Kosovo! The World's Newest Narco State

Last Sunday's unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, former warlord/commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), heralds the birth of a new European narco state.

The illegal dismemberment of Serbia, completing the U.S./EU/NATO destruction of Yugoslavia, is proclaimed by ruling elites and their sycophants as an exemplary means to bring "peace and stability" to the region. This provocative move, outside the framework of international law, threatens any sovereign state with similar treatment should they deviate from the "Washington consensus."

Far from bringing "peace" let alone "stability," an "independent" Kosovo will serve as a militarized outpost for Western capitalist powers intent on spreading their tentacles East, further encircling Russia by penetrating the former spheres of influence of the Soviet Union.

Led by dodgy characters and war criminals such as Hashim Thaci and Agim Ceku, "independent" Kosovo is a gangster state governed by thugs with ties to Albanian drug trafficking syndicates and al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda, the KLA and Western Intelligence

Al-Qaeda's service to the CIA and other Western intelligence services is well-documented. Beginning in 1998 and perhaps earlier, the London-based cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, the "emir" of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group al-Muhajiroun began a recruitment drive for aspiring mujahideen for the "holy war" in Kosovo at London's notorious Finsbury Park Mosque.

On Friday, March 13, 1998 a London rally for the jihad was backed by some 50 local Islamist organizations. According to Christopher Deliso,

...the Albanian Islamic Society of London, headed by Kosovar Sheik Muhammed Stubla, was lobbying and raising money for the KLA's campaign. ... In contradiction to the KLA leadership's claims about secularism, the Kosovar sheik specifically defined the militant group as "an Albanian Islamic organisation which is determined to defend itself, its people, its homeland, and its religion with all its capabilities and by all means." ... The chief bank account for fundraising was in the London branch of terrorist-linked Habibsons Bank of Pakistan. (The Coming Balkan Caliphate, Westport: Praeger Security International, 2007, p. 43)

In 2005, in the wake of the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks in London, it was revealed that Bakri, a probable asset of Britain's MI6, was the "spiritual" force behind the deadly attacks.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed reports that,

The reluctance to take decisive action against the leadership of the extremist network in the UK has a long history. According to John Loftus, a former Justice Department prosecutor, Omar Bakri and Abu Hamza, as well as the suspected mastermind of the London bombings Haroon Aswat, were all recruited by MI6 in the mid-1990s to draft up British Muslims to fight in Kosovo. American and French security sources corroborate the revelation. The MI6 connection raises questions about Bakri's relationship with British authorities today. Exiled to Lebanon and outside British jurisdiction, he is effectively immune to prosecution. ("Sources: August terror plot is a 'fiction' underscoring police failures," The Raw Story, Monday, September 18, 2006)

Before fleeing, Bakri defended the actions of his young dupes by proclaiming, "We don't make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity."

The current "secular" Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, when he served as KLA warlord was identified in media reports as having operational links to the al-Qaeda network. Such reports are not surprising when one considers that for earlier U.S./NATO "service" in Bosnia, bin Laden himself was rewarded a Bosnian passport by the "democratic" government of former Nazi and Islamist ideologue, Alija Izetbegovic.

As the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets streamed into Kosovo, often from Albania with the active assistance of narcotrafficking gangsters under NATO supervision, they replenished the ranks of Thaci's terrorist army.

Michel Chossudovsky writes,

Mercenaries financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had been fighting in Bosnia. And the Bosnian pattern was replicated in Kosovo: Mujahadeen mercenaries from various Islamic countries are reported to be fighting alongside the KLA in Kosovo. German, Turkish and Afghan instructors were reported to be training the KLA in guerrilla and diversion tactics. ... According to a Deutsche Press-Agentur report, financial support from Islamic countries to the KLA had been channelled through the former Albanian chief of the National Information Service (NIS), Bashkim Gazidede. "Gazidede, reportedly a devout Moslem who fled Albania in March of last year [1997], is presently [1998] being investigated for his contacts with Islamic terrorist organizations." ("Kosovo 'freedom fighters' financed by organised crime," World Socialist Web Site, 10 April 1999)

These links are hardly casual. On the contrary, as Peter Dale Scott avers,

The closeness of the KLA to al-Qaeda was acknowledged again in the Western press, after Afghan-connected KLA guerrillas proceeded in 2001 to conduct guerrilla warfare in Macedonia. Press accounts included an Interpol report containing the allegation that one of bin Laden's senior lieutenants was the commander of an elite KLA unit operating in Kosovo in 1999. This was probably Mohammed al-Zawahiri. (The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007, p. 169)

Agim Ceku another "Prime Minister," committed massive war crimes in the Croatian region of Krajina when employed by the Croatian army as a brigadier general. As a key planner of Operation Storm, Ceku's forces massacred Serbs and presided over the largest ethnic cleansing during NATO's Yugoslavian destabilization campaign. Some 250,000 Serbs fled for their lives as Ceku's black-uniformed shock troops, many adorned with symbols of the Nazi Ustasha puppet regime during World War II were driven from Croatia.

According to Gregory Elich,

The invasion of Krajina was preceded by a thorough CIA and DIA analysis of the region. According to Balkan specialist Ivo Banac, this "tactical and intelligence support" was furnished to the Croatian Army at the beginning of its offensive. ... Two months earlier, the Pentagon contracted Military Professional Resources, Inc (MPRI) to train the Croatian military. According to a Croatian officer, MPRI advisors "lecture us on tactics and big war operations on the level of brigades, which is why we needed them for Operation Storm when we took the Krajina." Croatian sources claim that U.S. satellite intelligence was furnished to the Croatian military. Following the invasion of Krajina, the U.S. rewarded Croatia with an agreement "broadening existing cooperation" between MPRI and the Croatian military. U.S. advisors assisted in the reorganization of the Croatian Army. Referring to this reorganization in an interview with the newspaper Vecernji List, Croatian General Tihomir Blaskic said, "We are building the foundations of our organization on the traditions of the Croatian home guard" -- pro-Nazi troops in World War II. ("The Invasion of Serbian Krajina," Emperors Clothes, no date)

Following on the heels of this sterling "victory," Ceku became KLA commander in 1999 and "Prime Minister" in 2006. There is an outstanding Interpol warrant for his arrest according to Michel Chossudovsky.

The KLA: "Trained-up fierce" by Germany's KSK

As in Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia, the Kosovo Liberation Army was secretly armed by America and Germany and remains what it has always been, a creature of Western intelligence services.

Christopher Deliso observes,

In 1996, Germany's BND established a major station in Tirana...and another in Rome to select and train future KLA fighters. According to Le Monde Diplomatique, "special forces in Berlin provided the operational training and supplied arms and transmission equipment from ex-East German Stasi stocks as well as Black uniforms." The Italian headquarters recruited Albanian immigrants passing through ports such as Brindisi and Trieste, while German military intelligence, the Militaramschirmdienst, and the Kommando Spezialkräfte Special Forces (KSK), offered military training and provisions to the KLA in the remote Mirdita Mountains of northern Albania controlled by the deposed president, Sali Berisha.

In 1996, BND Chief Geiger's deputy, Rainer Kesselring, the son of the Nazi Luftwaffe general responsible for the bombing of Belgrade in 1941 that left 17,000 dead, oversaw KSK training of Albanian recruits at a Turkish military base near Izmir. (The Coming Balkan Caliphate, Westport: Praeger Security International, 2007, pp. 37-38)

Hypocritically, while Washington had officially designated the KLA a "terrorist organization" funded by the heroin trade, the Clinton administration was complicit with their German allies in the division of the Serb province along ethnic and religious lines.

By 1998, the KLA took control of between 25 to 40 percent of the province before Serb forces wrested the KLA-held areas back. Facing imminent defeat, the Kosovo Liberation Army and allied mujahideen fighters appealed to Washington, citing the imminent danger of "ethnic cleansing" by the Serbs. Laughable on the face of it, Albanians constitute fully 90 percent of Kosovo's population, and in fact, it was the Serbs, Roma and Jews who were being brutalized by KLA hit squads, their homes torched, their churches and synagogues sacked. It was the dismantling of the KLA's terrorist infrastructure by the Yugoslav People's Army that was the trigger that prompted direct military intervention by NATO in 1999.

As in Iraq, the 78 day U.S. bombing campaign targeted critical civilian infrastructure in Serbia: bridges, factories, power plants, electrical transmission hubs, communications centers. Throughout Serbia and Kosovo itself, the U.S. scattered tons of radioactive depleted uranium munitions and tens of thousands of cluster bombs. The U.S. attack, ostensibly to "protect" Kosovo's population from Serb depredations caused some 800,000 civilians to flee NATO's devastating raids.

For Washington, drunk on the illusion that its policies had hastened the collapse of a bureaucratized and rotten Soviet system, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia would again represent the triumph of the so-called "free market" and "democracy" under the umbrella of a new international order administered by World Bank/IMF "reforms": Francis Fukuyama's short-lived "end of history." While on the opposite pole of the same ideological dead end, political Islam's tactical alliance with the West was a means to establish a bridgehead for penetration into Europe via dodgy Saudi, Kuwaiti and Gulf "charities" in pursuit of their quixotic quest of establishing a "divine" (Islamicized) capitalist order rising from the ashes of a decadent West.

Two heads, same poisonous snake.

The KLA's Links to the International Heroin Trade

In Kosovo, Hashim Thaci's KLA served as the militarized vanguard for the Albanian mafia whose "15 Families" control virtually every facet of the Balkan heroin trade. Kosovar traffickers ship heroin originating exclusively from Asia's Golden Crescent. At one end lies Afghanistan where poppy is harvested for transshipment through Iran and Turkey; as morphine base it is then refined into "product" for worldwide consumption. From there it passes into the hands of the Albanian syndicates who control the Balkan Route.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported,

Until the war intervened, Kosovars were the acknowledged masters of the trade, credited with shoving aside the Turkish gangs that had long dominated narcotics trafficking along the Balkan Route, and effectively directing the ethnic Albanian network.

Kosovar bosses "orchestrated the traffic, regulated the rate and set the prices," according to journalist Leonardo Coen, who covers racketeering and organized crime in the Balkans for the Italian daily La Repubblica.

"The Kosovars had a 10-year head start on their cousins across the border, simply because their Yugoslav passports allowed them to travel earlier and much more widely than someone from communist Albania," said Michel Koutouzis, a senior researcher at Geopolitical Drug Watch who is regarded as Europe's leading expert on the Balkan Route.

"That allowed them to establish very efficient overseas networks through the worldwide Albanian diaspora -- and in the process, to forge ties with other underworld groups involved in the heroin trade, such as Chinese triads in Vancouver and Vietnamese in Australia," Koutouzis told The Chronicle. (Frank Viviano, "KLA Linked to Enormous Heroin Trade," Wednesday, May 5, 1999, Page A-1)

It is hardly an accident that the meteoric rise of the Kosovar families to the top of the narcotrafficking hierarchy coincided with the KLA's sudden appearance in the area in 1997.

As Peter Klebnikov observed,

As the war in Kosovo heated up, the drug traffickers began supplying the KLA with weapons procured from Eastern European and Italian crime groups in exchange for heroin. The 15 Families also lent their private armies to fight alongside the KLA. Clad in new Swiss uniforms and equipped with modern weaponry, these troops stood out among the ragtag irregulars of the KLA. In all, this was a formidable aid package. It's therefore not surprising, say European law enforcement officials, that the faction that ultimately seized power in Kosovo -- the KLA under Hashim Thaci -- was the group that maintained the closest links to traffickers. "As the biggest contributors, the drug traffickers may have gotten the most influence in running the country," says Koutouzis. ("Heroin Heroes," Mother Jones, January/February 2000)

As is well-known, U.S. destabilization programs and covert operations rely on far-right provocateurs and drug lords (often interchangeable players) to facilitate the dirty work. Throughout its Balkan operations the CIA made liberal use of these preexisting narcotics networks to arm the KLA and provide them with targets.

The rest is history, as they say.

Kosovo Today

Has anything changed in the intervening years? Hardly. In fact, the vise-like grip of the Albanian mafia over narcotics, human trafficking and arms smuggling has cemented the "15 Families" place atop Europe's hierarchy of crime, an essential arm of the capitalist deep state.

Considering NATO and the UN's lofty mandate to bring "peace and stability" to the region through "democracy promotion" and "institution building," what does the balance sheet reveal?

According to regional experts the outlook for Kosovo is grim. The economy is in shambles, unemployment hovers near 50 percent, a population of young people with "criminality as the sole career choice" populate a society tottering on the brink of collapse where the state is dominated by organized crime.

According to former New York Times reporter David Binder, citing a 124-page investigation by the Institute for European Policy commissioned by the German Bundeswehr,

"It is a Mafia society" based on "capture of the state" by criminal elements. ("State capture" is a term coined in 2000 by a group of World Bank analysts to describe countries where government structures have been seized by corrupt financial oligarchies. This study applied the term to Montenegro's Milo Djukanovic, by way of his cigarette smuggling and to Slovenia, with the arms smuggling conducted by Janez Jansa). In Kosovo, it says, "There is a need for thorough change of the elite."

Fat chance that happening anytime soon! Binder reports:

In the authors' definition, Kosovan organized crime "consists of multimillion-Euro organizations with guerrilla experience and espionage expertise." They quote a German intelligence service report of "closest ties between leading political decision makers and the dominant criminal class" and name Ramush Haradinaj, Hashim Thaci and Xhavit Haliti as compromised leaders who are "internally protected by parliamentary immunity and abroad by international law." They scornfully quote the UNMIK chief from 2004-2006, Soeren Jessen Petersen, calling Haradinaj "a close and personal friend." UNMIK, they add "is in many respects an element of the local problem scene."

The study sharply criticizes the United States for "abetting the escape of criminals" in Kosovo as well as "preventing European investigators from working." This has made Americans "vulnerable to blackmail." It notes "secret CIA detention centers" at Camp Bondsteel and assails American military training for Kosovo (Albanian) police by Dyncorp, authorized by the Pentagon. ("Kosovo Auf Deutsch," Balkan Analysis, November 18, 2007)

As we can readily observe in other climes, the interpenetration of the state by criminal elites serve as the preferred mechanism to cement a "public-private partnership" founded on corruption, maintained by brute force solely for purposes of resource extraction, pipeline politics, military bases and the geopolitical advantage gained over "market" rivals.

As the U.S. Embassy burns in Belgrade, all in all, its another "Mission Accomplished" moment for the United States.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The CIA, Paramilitarism & Narcotrafficking: the Colombian Connection

The National Security Archive has released a treasure-trove of declassified documents that provide explosive new information on CIA and U.S. military collaboration with far-right narcotraffickers and paramilitary gangs in Colombia.

Released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, the documents confirm what has long been suspected by activists and researchers: the CIA and the Pentagon, as part of a joint U.S.-Colombian task force charged with bringing drug lord Pablo Escobar to ground, were linked to one of Colombia's most notorious paramilitary leaders and drug kingpins, Fidel Castaño.

According to Michael Evans, director of the National Security Archive's Colombia Documentation Project,

...the U.S.-Colombian Medellin Task Force, known as "the Bloque de Búsqueda or 'Search Block,' was sharing intelligence information with Fidel Castaño, paramilitary leader of Los Pepes (Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar or 'People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar'), a clandestine terrorist organization that waged a bloody campaign against people and property associated with the reputed narcotics kingpin.

The killing of Pablo Escobar is the subject of popular cultural lore -- and disinformation. Witness the success of Mark Bowden's 2001 book, Killing Pablo, "a work that drew heavily on classified sources and interviews with former U.S. and Colombian officials," according to the Archive.

Evans goes on to inform us that,

The collaboration between paramilitaries and government security forces evident in the Pepes episode is a direct precursor of today's "para-political" scandal. The Pepes affair is the archetype for the pattern of collaboration between drug cartels, paramilitary warlords and Colombian security forces that developed over the next decade into one of the most dangerous threats to Colombian security and U.S. anti-narcotics programs. Evidence still concealed within secret U.S. intelligence files forms a critical part of that hidden history.

According to Garry Leech, writing in the New York-based Colombia Journal:

The para-politics scandal has its roots in allegations made following the March 2006 congressional and municipal elections that paramilitary leaders had worked closely with right-wing pro-Uribe candidates in northern Colombia to ensure their victory at the polls. The scandal escalated dramatically following the seizure of a laptop belonging to [United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia] AUC commander Rodrigo Tovar, also known as "Jorge 40." The laptop was not delivered to authorities as part of the demobilization process; it was discovered in the possession of Tovar’s right-hand man when he was arrested in early 2006.

According to Colombia's attorney general's office, the laptop contained evidence that unemployed peasants in northern Colombia were paid to impersonate paramilitary fighters and to participate in the demobilization process while real paramilitaries continued committing crimes. These crimes, according to information on the laptop, included the killing of 558 individuals in just one region of northern Colombia during the cease-fire. The laptop also contained evidence of paramilitary links to local and national politicians as well as to state security forces. It is the information found on Tovar's laptop that spawned the para-politics investigation, not confessions or evidence obtained under the Justice and Peace Law.

It has long been known that the CIA and related U.S. intelligence agencies have utilized narcotraffickers and far-right paramilitary gangs as intelligence assets and "special warfare groups," particularly when the Agency and their local allies targeted left-wing political forces for extermination.

In Argentina for example, during the "dirty war" that followed the 1976 neofascist coup d'etat by the Argentine military, the CIA directly collaborated with Propaganda Due (P2) Nazis connected with José López Rega's notorious Triple A (Argentine Anticommunist Alliance) death squad in the transcontinental snatch-and-kill program known as Operation Condor.

Modeled after the CIA's Phoenix Program in Southeast Asia and NATO's European-wide Operation Gladio, Operation Condor was a cross-border alliance amongst the military elites of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Its reach was global and Condor operatives carried out murders, bombings and "disappearances" of tens of thousands of left-wing activists deemed "terrorists."

According to researcher John Dinges CIA and U.S. military support for Condor extended far beyond casual contact amongst "sister" agencies.

FBI Agent [Robert] Scherrer said he learned that the CIA provided [Chilean intelligence agency] DINA with the computer systems and training that he presumed were used in the Condor data bank. ... The intelligence services were to communicate by telex and by a continent-wide radio network -- infrastructure elements that were also provided by the United States. The telex system was given the name "Condortel" ... A powerful military radio network provided by the U.S. military, whose central transmitter was located in the Panama Canal Zone, was also used for Condor communications. ... There were no restrictions, however, on the use of the radio transmitters by the Latin American military, and that ... intelligence agencies would have access to the system and with simple codes could have used it as the infrastructure for a continent-wide communications system. (The Condor Years, New York: The New Press, 2004, pp. 121, 122, 123)

In 1980, Condor-linked Bolivian military officers, drug lords and neo-Nazis, staged what came to be known as the "Cocaine Coup." Though Gen. Luis Garcia Meza was the front-man for the junta, drug kingpin Roberto Suarez was the power behind the throne.

Among the thugs employed by Argentine military intelligence whose "technical expertise" was essential to the coup's success and the horrors that followed, was the notorious Gladio operative Stefano Delle Chiaie and his sidekick, Pier Luigi Pagliani, described by the U.S. Embassy in La Paz as a "terrorist torture freak."

After the putsch, Interior Minister Luis Arce Gómez put together a Special Security Service led by Delle Chiaie and escaped Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie working in close collaboration with other Nazis known as the Fiances of Death.

Under the control of drug lord Suarez, this unsavory crew instructed Bolivian soldiers in torture techniques and provided protection for the booming cocaine trade. According to Martin A. Lee and Kevin Coogan in a 1985 Village Voice article, one of Delle Chiaie's confidantes claimed the Italian fascist served as a middleman between the Bolivian army's cocaine barons and the Sicilian mafia.

Fast-forward and a similar phenomenon emerges in Colombia. According to Peter Dale Scott,

Drug trafficking and right-wing terrorist activity have been linked in Colombia for at least thirty years. The evidence suggests that the Colombian state security apparatus, in conjunction with the CIA, has had continuing contact with this right-wing nexus and may even have played an organizing role. The story goes back to the Alianza Anticomunista Americana in the 1970s, an international network centered in Argentina that targeted revolutionaries with the assistance of CIA-trained Cuban American terrorists. Left-wing sources have claimed that the AAA operated in Colombia as part of the state security apparatus, and with CIA assistance. (Drugs, Oil, and War, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003, p. 85)

We now know with the release of declassified CIA and U.S. Embassy documents that this was indeed the case. More importantly, the documents provide confirmation that CIA "anti-narcotics interdiction efforts" do not target the drug trade per se, but only those criminal gangs who have run afoul of wider U.S. geostrategic interests in resource rich Colombia. In other words, U.S. policy in the area amounts to a protected drug traffic for allies engaged in anti-left counterinsurgency operations. Contextually, while the U.S. military and the CIA were targeting Escobar's Medellin cartel, they were collaborating via Los Pepes, with the equally brutal and substantially larger Cali syndicate to bring his organization down.

Michael Evans informs us:

An Embassy post-mortem cable on the Escobar affair, written less than a month after his death, similarly reported that "any substantiation of Cali-police complicity in the activities of Los Pepes would have seriously damaged the Bloque's credibility in their efforts against Escobar." (Document 30)

More importantly, U.S. military intelligence doubted that the Gaviria government was sincere about cracking down on Castaño's gang, questioning whether it made sense to target a group that shared a common enemy: leftist Colombian guerrilla groups. One briefing document prepared by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in the midst of the Pepes episode concluded that the Colombian government's willingness to pursue Pepes military chief Castaño "may depend more on how his paramilitary agenda complements Bogota's counterinsurgent objectives rather than on his drug trafficking activities." (Document 16)

During the 1990s and contemporaneously, CIA operations, now under the flag of the Clinton-Bush Plan Colombia has facilitated precisely this policy. While Fidel disappeared and is presumed dead, his brother Carlos Castaño took over operations and united Colombia's paramilitary gangsters under the banner of the AUC, a hydra-headed monster notorious for its targeting of left-wing activists, peasant organizers and union militants.

Since the 1980s, over 4,000 union leaders and activists have been assassinated by Colombia's anti-union killing machine, often with the connivance of U.S. multinational corporations such as Chiquita Brands, Coca-Cola, Drummond Coal Company and Occidental Petroleum.

And, as on-going investigations by Daniel Hopsicker and Bill Conroy reveal, CIA and corporate America's collaboration with neofascist narcotics syndicates and death squads are an enduring feature of the capitalist deep state.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Oops, Sorry: FBI E-Mail Snooping "A Technical Glitch"

Today's New York Times reports that the FBI's Engineering Research Facility (ERF) gained access to e-mail messages from an entire computer network rather than the single e-mail address approved by the secretive FISA court.

Under color of a "national security investigation" the incident was described as "a technical glitch" and "apparent miscommunication" with an unnamed internet provider.

Doubtless the guilty party is one of the telecom giants seeking retroactive immunity via BushCo's "Protect America Act" -- an onerous piece of corporatist flotsam solely designed to alleviate industry anxieties that outraged citizens would actually defend their rights through the courts.

Claiming that Bureau spies noticed a "surge" in the e-mail activity they were monitoring, the FBI alleges the provider "had mistakenly set its filtering equipment to trap far more data than a judge had actually authorized."

Times' reporter Eric Lichtblau avers,

The episode is an unusual example of what has become a regular if little-noticed occurrence, as American officials have expanded their technological tools: government officials, or the private companies they rely on for surveillance operations, sometimes foul up their instructions about what they can and cannot collect.

The problem has received no discussion as part of the fierce debate in Congress about whether to expand the government's wiretapping authorities and give legal immunity to private telecommunications companies that have helped in those operations.

Nor would we expect there to be any "discussion," let alone a "fierce debate" in Congress when it comes to protecting Americans' fourth amendment rights. Treated as mere "technical glitches" best left to "experts," our masters demand we change the channel and move along.

But we will not "move along" as we reflect here on earlier examples of FBI "technical glitches" -- or worse -- that led directly to the 9/11 attacks; the alleged trigger for the imposition of the Bush crime family's police state agenda and the "retroactive immunity" granted their Saudi and capitalist paramours:

From the Center for Cooperative Research's Complete 9/11 Timeline:

January 15-Early February 2000: Suspected Advance Man Helps 9/11 Hijackers Settle in San Diego
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar arrive in Los Angeles and stay there for two weeks. Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected al-Qaeda advance man and possible Saudi agent, arrives in Los Angeles and visits the Saudi Consulate there. According to Newsweek, "Law-enforcement officials believe al-Bayoumi may [have] a closed-door meeting with Fahad al Thumairy, a member of the consulate's Islamic and Culture Affairs Section." [NEWSWEEK, 7/28/2003] (In March 2003, al Thumairy is stripped of his diplomatic visa and barred from entry to the US, reportedly because of suspected links to terrorism. [WASHINGTON POST, 11/23/2003]

The FBI's "best source" in San Diego says that al-Bayoumi "must be an intelligence officer for Saudi Arabia or another foreign power." A former top FBI official working on the al-Bayoumi investigation claims: "We firmly believed that he had knowledge [of the 9/11 plot], and that his meeting with them that day was more than coincidence." [NEWSWEEK, 7/28/2003]

Former senator Bob Graham (D-FL), whose Congressional investigation was blocked by the Bush regime and the FBI to protect "ally" Saudi Arabia, informs us:

The FBI did not even canvass its own counterterrorism sources, among whom was the informant in San Diego who knew both of the men [Alhazmi and Almihdhar] and had housed one of them. Had the Bureau simply sent a directive to all its field offices, telling them to check the two names with their sources, it is quite possible they would have come across vital information and been able to interdict the attack. Thus was lost the twelfth such opportunity. (Intelligence Matters, New York: Random House, 2004, p. 75) [emphasis added]

Was an electronic "driftnet" necessary prior to 9/11? After all, a Bureau mole had penetrated the plot and yet, the FBI failed to act. Why?

Investigative journalists Greg Palast and David Pallister writing in The Guardian tell us:

FBI and military intelligence officials in Washington say they were prevented for political reasons from carrying out full investigations into members of the Bin Laden family in the US before the terrorist attacks of September 11.

FBI documents shown on BBC Newsnight last night and obtained by the Guardian show that they had earlier sought to investigate two of Osama bin Laden's relatives in Washington and a Muslim organisation, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), with which they were linked.

The FBI file, marked Secret and coded 199, which means a case involving national security, records that Abdullah bin Laden, who lived in Washington, had originally had a file opened on him "because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth -- a suspected terrorist organisation".

But the FBI files were closed in 1996 apparently before any conclusions could be reached on either the Bin Laden brothers or the organisation itself. High-placed intelligence sources in Washington told the Guardian this week: "There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis".

They said the restrictions became worse after the Bush administration took over this year. The intelligence agencies had been told to "back off" from investigations involving other members of the Bin Laden family, the Saudi royals, and possible Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan.

"There were particular investigations that were effectively killed." ("FBI claims Bin Laden inquiry was frustrated. Officials told to 'back off' Saudis before September 11," The Guardian, November 7, 2001)

I could continue with this line of inquiry but I think my point is clear. There were political reasons why pre-9/11 investigations were halted at the highest levels and they had nothing to do with preparing the ground for any alleged "inside job."

For reasons of state (read: unlimited profits for the oil multinationals and preparations for the coming invasion of Iraq) the gangsters occupying the White House could care less whether or not the Afghan-Arab database al-Qaeda would attack the American people. Why would they?

Before 9/11, the U.S. and NATO were utilizing their intelligence assets in the Balkans, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Bosnian al-Mujahid Brigade, as well as criminal syndicates and dodgy charities funded by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait -- allied with al-Qaeda and international drug trafficking networks -- for offensive action against neighboring Macedonia.

Is it any different today? The national security state's "Protect America Act" is an oxymoronic exercise in deceit and mendacity by propaganda specialists well-schooled in the black arts of deception. Commenting on the "unintentional" error on the part of its internet spies, FBI spokesman Michael Kortan told The New York Times, "The system worked exactly the way it's designed."

I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Valentine's Day Gift for Boeing

Forget chocolate hearts and cute cards, on February 14, the Bush regime handed aerospace giant, The Boeing Company, an even better gift when U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Jose, California dismissed a lawsuit brought by victims of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" torture program against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen International Trip Planning.

Citing public and confidential statements filed by CIA Director Michael Hayden alleging that "proceeding with this case would jeopardize national security and foreign relations," Ware dismissed the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Ware claimed that "at the core of plaintiffs' case against defendant Jeppesen are 'allegations' of covert U.S. military or CIA operations in foreign countries against foreign nationals -- clearly a subject matter which is a state secret," the San Francisco Chronicle tells us.

Despite massive documentary evidence, and the CIA's own admission of the program's existence in public testimony before Congress, once again, Bush consigliere's have resorted to the so-called "state secrets privilege" to deny victims of a U.S. Government program to "disappear" and torture alleged "terrorists" recourse to compensation under U.S. law.

Ben Wizner, the ACLU attorney representing the plaintiffs said he expects to appeal Ware's ruling. In a press release Wizner declared:

The court's decision allows the government to engage in torture, declare it a state secret, and thereby escape any legal scrutiny for its actions. Government officials are quite willing to discuss the CIA's detention and interrogation of other prisoners, most notably the six Guantánamo detainees charged this week with capital murder. Apparently, the government believes such activities are state secrets only when that claim will help the administration avoid accountability for illegal programs, but not when it will help seek the death penalty for alleged terrorists. Depriving torture victims of their day in court to prevent disclosure of information that the entire world already knows only compounds the brutal treatment our clients endured.

The ruling is more extraordinary, if you'll pardon the pun, given the fact that top managers of Jeppesen, a dodgy outfit headquartered in the San Jose Silicon Valley, boasted of the company's role in CIA black operations. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Sean Belcher, a technical writer newly hired by the firm in 2006 said,

...he attended a breakfast for new employees on Aug. 11, 2006, and heard a welcoming speech from Bob Overby, a company director. While describing Jeppesen's work, Belcher said, Overby told the employees, "We do all the extraordinary rendition flights." Later, he said, Overby added that these were "the torture flights," and explained, "Let's face it, some of these flights end up this way."

Belcher also quoted Overby as saying that the flights paid well and that the government spared no expense. Belcher said he quit his job five days later.

"The government spared no expense," words that should be carved in stone. Given the nature of the firm's criminal activities, its involvement in organizing CIA "ghost flights" -- kidnapping, illegal detention, torture -- a damning admission such as this by a company director should land Mr. Overby and the rest of Jeppesen's corporate pirates in a federal penitentiary if America were a normal country, which of course it isn't.

As the CIA's booking agent, Jeppesen, working with tiny charter airlines that are no more than Company cut-outs handle the logistical and navigational details for the torture flights, designing flight plans, obtaining flight clearance to fly over other countries, ground-crew arrangements, even hotel reservations for the pilots and the other facilitators of human rights abuse. As Boeing says on its website, "From Aachen to Zhengzhou, King Airs to 747s, Jeppesen has done it all."

On its website, Jeppesen International, in an Orwellian burst of chutzpah, declares:

Trust. The key ingredient in any International Trip Planning relationship. Just like the trust pilots place in Jeppesen's Worldwide Instrument Charting, you can count on caring, professional people who work with you personally to ensure your needs are met.

How were Khaled al-Masri's "needs met" by such "caring, professional people"?

Writing in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer tells us:

Masri, who is a Muslim, was arrested at the border while crossing from Serbia into Macedonia by bus. He has alleged in court papers that Macedonian authorities turned him over to a C.I.A. rendition team. Then, he said, masked figures stripped him naked, shackled him, and led him onto a Boeing 737 business jet. Flight plans prepared by Jeppesen show that from Skopje, Macedonia, the 737 flew to Baghdad, where it had military clearance to land, and then on to Kabul. On board, Masri has said, he was chained to the floor and injected with sedatives. After landing, he was put in the trunk of a car and driven to a building where he was placed in a dank cell. He spent the next four months there, under interrogation.

Jeppesen International Trip Planning: a "full-service" company for our post-9/11 world where neither laws nor human rights pose any obstacle to the naked exercise of state power.

Friday, February 15, 2008

U.S. Troops Raid Baghdad Headquarters of Iraq's Democratic, Secular Opposition

New York's World War 4 Report informs us that on February 12, U.S. occupation forces raided the headquarters of the Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC), a democratic, secular alternative to the U.S. occupation and reactionary fundamentalist trends in that war-scarred nation.

Spearheaded by the radical Worker-Communist Party of Iraq and other left forces, the IFC was founded in 2005 by trade unions, women's organizations, neighborhood assemblies and student groups around two non-negotiable demands: an end to the American occupation and a secular state for Iraq.

Since its launch, the IFC has earned support and respect from workers, trade unionists, women and secular Iraqis in general; no small feat in a region riven by sectarian hatreds fanned by "Coalition" occupiers, al-Qaeda killers and Sunni and Shia death squads linked to the puppet government.

Needless to say, the IFC's great "crime" in Washington's view, is the group's determined struggle against all moves by the Bush regime and giant oil multinationals to "privatize" (steal) Iraq's vast petroleum reserves.

The IFC's Anti-Oil Law Front joined with leaders of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) and staged a mass demonstration in Basra that brought thousands of oil workers and citizens onto the streets last July 16, with simultaneous protests in Amara and Nassiryya. IFOU president Hassan Jumaa, a member of the IFC's central council, announced that the union will shut down the pipeline leading from southern oil fields if the law is "approved" (rubber-stamped). Despite threats against anti-privatization activists and the murder of union militants, the law remains stalled in Iraq's puppet parliament.

But fighting against well-heeled resource thieves and their Bushist minions isn't the IFC's only front.

With a budding theocracy backed-up by U.S. firepower, dozens, if not hundreds of women have turned up dead in Iraqi morgues or ditches, the IFC has launched a broad campaign against so-called "honor killings" and the thugs and gangsters who murder women under color of sharia law.

As a civil resistance group, the IFC has not taken up arms against U.S. occupying troops and believe instead, that a broad, democratic movement against the occupation is first and foremost, the political task of Iraqi's themselves.

They are not pacifists however, and have fielded an armed Safety Force that maintain strict "no go" areas in mixed Shia-Sunni Baghdad neighborhoods where Islamist militias and shadowy death squads are stopped from plying their awful trade. Believing firmly in the maxim that "the best defense is self-defense," the Safety Force has branched out into new sectors of the sprawling city.

According to Bill Weinberg,

The Safety Force is increasingly made up of trade unionists, a growing pillar of support for the IFC. In November 2006, the General Federation of Trade Unions-Iraq (GFTU-I) merged with the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI), already an IFC member organization. Workers from both groups have volunteered for the SF.

Needless to say, because of their socialist principles and an uncompromising willingness to defend themselves against Baghdad's gruesome killerati, the IFC have been targeted by American "liberators" and their quisling allies in the Iraqi Army and police. Weinberg writes,

July 4, 2007 saw the Fred Hampton-style execution of the leader of a popular citizen's self-defense force in Baghdad. According to the Iraq Freedom Congress, the group Abdelhussein Saddam was associated with, a unit of US Special Forces troops and Iraqi National Guards raided his home in Baghdad's Alattiba neighborhood at 3:00 AM, throwing grenades in before them--and opening fire without warning at him and his young daughter. The attackers took Saddam, leaving the girl bleeding on the floor. Two days later, his body was found in the morgue at Yarmouk Hospital.

Abdelhussein had been the leader of the Safety Force, a civil patrol organized by the IFC civil resistance coalition to protect their communities. Like many IFC leaders, he had been an opponent of the Saddam Hussein regime, and was imprisoned for two years in the '90s. Head of the Safety Force since late last year, his death went unnoted by the world media.

Unfortunately his death, with a few notable exceptions was also largely ignored by the international left.

In the latest assault, Amjad Al-Jawhary, spokesperson for the Iraq Freedom Congress Media Centre tells us, occupying troops,

...made another attempt to eliminate the voice of freedom from Iraq by raiding the IFC headquarters in Baghdad today at 2:00 AM, when they forced themselves in, verbally and physically assaulted the guards and stood them out in the rain for several hours.

It is understood from the many previous incidents that these attempts are not to look for weapons or investigations regarding terrorist activities; but in fact they are to intimidate and eliminate any voice that objects the occupation and its puppets.

Ever since the formation of IFC, which has been always the voice of liberty in Iraq, the establishment of its Safety Force that was able to prevent crimes in the area where it operates, and the launch of the satellite TV [station], the occupying troops has never been at ease.

Nor will Washington ever be at ease when working people and just plain folks are determined to end the occupation, reclaiming both their country and their lives.

Isn't there a lesson here?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Deep State, Corporate Crime

Revelations in The Sunday Times by former FBI translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, that a covert network of nuclear proliferators and U.S. officials in league with "disgraced" Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, the American Turkish Council (ATC) and neoconservative hawks embedded within the Pentagon and State Department, have been shunned by the American media.

Ms. Edmonds' intriguing tale of reckless criminality exposed a daisy-chain of corruption linking American militarists, corporate lobbyists and influence-peddlers to what Turks call derin devlet, the deep state, a confluence of ultranationalist generals, businessmen, heroin kingpins, violent neofascists and state-connected Islamist terror gangs, some of whom may have been involved in planning the 9/11 attacks.

On January 22, according to the Brussels-based information clearing house, Info-Turk, 33 members of the ultra-right Ergenekon syndicate, including two retired generals, were taken into custody. The suspects were charged with organizing a clandestine group preparing to launch a violent campaign they hoped would precipitate a coup d'etat against the center-right government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Ergenekon, a shadowy nationalist front with ideological ties to the Nazi-inspired National Action Party (MHP) and drug trafficking Grey Wolves, are opposed to European Union-linked neoliberal "reforms" and the AKP's tentative Islamist social policies.

Prosecutors alleged that the organization planned a bombing campaign and series of attacks aimed at assassinating prominent writers, journalists and Kurdish dissidents. The 2007 assassination of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the murder of two Italian priests, and three Protestant missionaries have already been sourced to Ergenekon. By the time the conspirators were run to ground the next phase of the plot was in motion: a wave of strategic violence meant to sow chaos and terror.

Cold War Origins

Turks who experienced first hand rightist attacks and massacres during the 1970s are well-aware such brutal assaults, in concert with Turkish army crackdowns aided and abetted by CIA "technical assistance," often paved the way for military takeovers such as those in 1971 and 1980.

Yet most Americans are oblivious to the fact that the origins of Turkey's deep state have their roots in U.S. Cold War policies. Once the Third Reich was crushed, the victorious allies "rehabilitated" extreme nationalists, racists and outright Nazis for use as intelligence assets and ideological shock troops for America's shadow war against the Soviet Union. The forerunners of Turkey's violence-prone rightist gangs and murder squads can be situated, precisely, within the milieu of Operation Gladio, a European-wide network of CIA-trained paramilitary groups licensed to block the left, at whatever cost, from coming to power.

In Turkey, CIA-trained militants known as "counter-guerrillas" were drawn almost exclusively from a viper's nest of ultranationalist political parties, most notably the National Action Party (MHP) of Alpaslan Turkes, an admirer of Adolph Hitler. Viewed by Washington as a bulwark against the "communist menace," Turkes' MHP and the Grey Wolves formed the core of NATO's "stay behind" army.

Repression-Fueled Drug Trade

The Turkish military has been a veritable cash cow for U.S. multinational defense firms. According to the Federation of American Scientists arms sales to the Turkish Republic have amounted to more than $10 billion dollars.

While sums like this buy a lot of "juice" in Washington, the Pentagon's substantial aid for Turkey's murderous generals has meant that the amelioration of desperate economic and social conditions borne by Turkish working people is gridlocked, though it significantly contributed to the growth of the international narcotics trade.

Within the US governmental bureaucracy itself, intelligence agencies and special warfare elements have recurringly exploited, trained and even protected drug traffickers and their corrupt political allies to facilitate these [Gladio] types of anti-Communist and anti-subversive operations. ("Washington and the Politics of Drugs," Variant, Issue 11, Summer 2000)

Writing in Le monde diplomatique, on the havoc these policies wrecked in Turkey, Kendal Nezan observes:

In a report published on 28 January 1997, the Turkish government's chief inspector described how, in the juridical no-man's land of Kurdish south-eastern Turkey, the army's "special war" units were not just killing with impunity, but had also become involved in protection rackets, blackmail, rape and drug trafficking. The report also describes how the Turkish government handed over the security of a huge area -- around the towns of Siverek and Hilvan -- to the private army of tribal chief Sedat Bucak, a member of parliament close to the former prime minister, Tansu Çiller, who thus acquired the power of life and death over the area's inhabitants.

This warlord politician was, incidentally, the sole survivor of a road accident in November 1996 near Susurluk on the road from Izmir to Istanbul. He had been travelling together with a chief of police and a well-known far-right Turkish mafia boss, Abdullah Çatli, who had been implicated in the attempted assassination of the Pope, was sought by Interpol for drug trafficking, and was wanted by the Turkish state for the murder of seven left-wing militants. ("Turkey's Pivotal Role in the International Drug Trade," Le monde diplomatique, July 1998)

Çatli, a notorious member of the Grey Wolves and a close associate of the Italian fascist gangster, Stefano Delle Chiaie, Gladio's reputed operational chief in Italy, had deep connections to Turkish heroin smuggling networks and their godfather, Huseyin Baybasin. These are not mere "historical" anecdotes. Writing in The Guardian, Ian Cobain reveals,

Huseyin Baybasin never made any secret of the sort of man he was, nor about the way he made his fortune. He would chat happily to criminologists about his control over the river of opium which flows from Afghanistan, crossing his extended family's lands around the small town of Lice in south-east Turkey before being processed as heroin for markets in the west. It is one of the least-developed areas of Turkey and the Baybasin clan is enormous, straddling several international borders, and feared: many of its male members have long criminal records. ("Feared Clan who Made Themselves at Home in Britain, The Guardian, March 26, 2006)

Despite a long record as a major heroin kingpin, or perhaps because of it, Baybasin and his clan were allowed to settle in Britain where they continued running their trafficking empire while serving as informants for both MI5 and Customs & Excise, the British government branch investigating A.Q. Khan's illicit nuclear black market. With active deep state connections, Baybasin told The Guardian,

...he had received the assistance of Turkish embassies and consulates while moving huge consignments of drugs around Europe, and that Turkish army officers serving with Nato in Belgium were also involved. "The government kept all doors open for us," he said. "We could do as we pleased."

And Sibel Edmonds, describing the symbiotic relationship among terrorist groups, mafia gangs and international drug trafficking syndicates writes:

For al-Qaeda's network, Turkey is a haven for its sources of funding. Turkish networks, along with Russia's, are the main players in these fields; they purchase the opium from Afghanistan and transport it through several Turkic speaking Central Asian states into Turkey, where the raw opium is processed into popular byproducts; then the network transports the final product into Western European and American markets via their partner networks in Albania. The networks' banking arrangements in Turkey, Cyprus and Dubai are used to launder and recycle the proceeds, and various Turkish companies in Turkey and Central Asia are used to make this possible and seem legitimate. The al-Qaeda network also uses Turkey to obtain and transfer arms to its Central Asian bases, including Chechnya. ... The Turkish government, MIT and the Turkish military, not only sanctions, but also actively participates in and oversees the narcotics activities and networks. ("The Hijacking of a Nation," Part 2, November 29, 2006)

Given the endemic levels of corruption intrinsic to the narcotics trade, and the multi-tiered, one might say byzantine, relationships amongst transnational mafia structures stretching across the Balkans, through South-Central Asia and the Middle East, it is reasonable to assume that Khan's nuclear smuggling ring made liberal use of these old-boy networks. With historic roots in the criminal Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), with documented linkages to Pakistan's nuclear program, atomic espionage, as with drug trafficking provides proof positive that crime pays. Nowhere is this more apparent than among procurement specialists at the Pentagon.

Spies Like Us

Melek Can Dickerson, a Turkish national employed by the FBI in its translation division, is married to U.S. Air Force Major Douglas Dickerson, formerly a military attaché in the Turkish capital of Ankara. As a weapons procurement specialist, Dickerson purchased arms for various Central Asian and Middle Eastern governments, including Turkey.

Melek Dickerson has been accused by Edmonds of mistranslating conversations relating to an FBI counterintelligence operation targeting members of the American Turkish Council, as well as corrupt Defense and State Department officials. Melek Can's translation work, as revealed by The Sunday Times, was a centerpiece of the Bureau's probe of the Turkish branch of the Khan nuclear black market, al-Qaeda and related drug trafficking syndicates.

Melek Can, a former ATC intern, maintained an on-going relationship with at least two of the surveillance targets; a fact she failed to disclose to Bureau superiors. Instead, she marked translations as "not pertinent" despite their significance to the FBI's nuclear espionage investigation. According to Vanity Fair the Dickersons' attempted to recruit Edmonds and her husband, Matthew, into the network:

Douglas asked if she and Matthew were involved with the local Turkish community, and whether they were members of two of its organized groups--the American-Turkish Council (ATC) and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA). 'He said the ATC was a good organization to belong to,' Matthew says. 'It could help to ensure that we could retire early and live well, which was just what he and his wife planned to do. I said I was aware of the organization, but I thought you had to be in a relevant business in order to join. ... 'Then he pointed at Sibel and said, "All you have to do is tell them who you work for and what you do and you will get in very quickly".' (David Rose, "An Inconvenient Patriot," Vanity Fair, September 2005)

While Sibel Edmonds was fired by the Bureau for uncovering a serious security breech at the agency, the Dickersons were allowed to quietly leave the country. According to security analyst John Stanton,

In 2002, Dickerson and his spouse Melek Can left the country for Belgium and a quiet post with NATO after Edmonds' exposed them as Turkish operatives or, perhaps, US counterintelligence operatives. Dickerson and his wife's activities remain a mystery. According to various reports, they were once stationed in Ankara, Turkey in the 1990s, and had contact with Douglas Feith and Marc Grossman. ("Sibel Edmonds Vindicated? FBI Reveals Investigation Continues," Cryptome.org, 24 October 2006)

And according to The Sunday Times, we now know that Marc Grossman may very well have been the State Department official who blew Valerie Plame's cover while taking down CIA front-company Brewster Jennings Associates during the CIA's parallel investigation of the Khan network.

Which brings us to the American Turkish Council's locus within the deep state.

Like AIPAC ... only on Steroids

The American Turkish Council was created in 1994 as the U.S. counterpart of the Turkish-U.S. Business Council (DEIK), described as a "bilateral business council" that aims to foster commercial relations between the United States and Turkey. Modeled after the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), ATC initially grew out of the "consolidation of the Turkish desk of the U.S. Chamber [of Commerce] with the American Friends of Turkey."

According to the ATC's website, the group describes itself as,

...dedicated to effectively strengthening U.S.-Turkish relations through the promotion of commercial, defense, technology, and cultural relations. Its diverse membership includes Fortune 500, U.S. and Turkish companies, multinationals, nonprofit organizations, and individuals with an interest in U.S.-Turkish relations. Guided by member interests, ATC strives to enhance the growing ties between the United States and Turkey by initiating and facilitating efforts to increase investment and trade between the two countries.

Quite an understatement to say the least!

According to its 2007 annual report, ATC board members include retired USAF Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, the board chairman and former national security adviser for George H. W. Bush; Executive Vice Chairman, George Perlman of Lockheed Martin; retired Ambassador John H. Holmes, ATC's President & CEO; John T. McAndrew of The Boeing Company; John R. Miller of Raytheon; Alan Colegrove of Northrop-Grumman Corporation; Richard K. Douglas of General Electric; retired U.S. Army M. General Elmer D. Pendleton, ATC's Senior Military Advisor; retired Turkish Vice Admiral Biren of Alarko Holding; Gregory Sauders of BP; Diana Sedney, Chevron; Ozer Baysal of Pfizer; Mitchell Haddad of Sikorsky Aircraft; and Selig A. Taubenblatt of Bechtel.

In other words, ATC's board is a veritable who's-who of the military-industrial-security complex!

"Juice" in Washington of course, isn't free and the American Turkish Council is no exception. The organization subdivides levels of influence according to a tried-and-true American method: cold hard cash: Golden Horn Members ($11,000 per year); Bosphorus Members ($4,000 per year); Marmara Members ($1,500 per year); Aegean Members (no fee listed).

But there's another side to ATC, one you won't find on their website. Retired USAF General Joseph W. Ralston, a member of both ATC's Advisory Board and the high-powered Washington lobbying firm, The Cohen Group, leveraged his position to obtain appointment as a Special Envoy countering "PKK terrorism." According to UK researcher Desmond Fernandes,

It seems reasonable to conclude that a new intensified phase of joint US-Turkey psychological warfare operations is under way. The US Embassy in Ankara, for instance, recently confirmed that General Joseph W Ralston (USAF, retired) had been appointed as Special Envoy for Countering the PKK with responsibility for coordinating US engagement with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to eliminate the PKK and other terrorist groups operating in northern Iraq and across the Turkey-Iraq border. "This appointment underscores the commitment of the United States to work with Turkey and Iraq to eliminate terrorism in all its forms".

If, as we are now informed, the Bush administration, in its wisdom, is committed to destroying the PKK additional questions arise. Will there be, as many Kurdish and human rights analysts contend, a resurgence of false flag operations? Will initiatives that seek to resolve the Kurdish question through military/paramilitary means, rather than through peaceful dialogue, be intensified? Will there be a resurgence of anti-terrorist abductions, disappearances, massacres, and torture sessions for Kurdish civilians, intellectuals, schoolchildren, students, journalists, politicians, lawyers and other perceived pro-Kurdish supporters in Turkey and northern Iraq? ("Turkey's US-backed War on Terror: A Cause for Concern?", Variant, Issue 27, Winter 2006)

We now have answers to Fernandes' rhetorical questions as January's take-down of Ergenekon coup plotters demonstrate. The appointment of ATC-linked General Ralston followed on the heels of Pentagon increasing "assistance" to the Turkish military via the U.S. International Military Training (IMET) courses conducted in 2001-2006. Congress has continued to approve IMET funding to the present day. Additionally, the Bush regime has approved Turkey as a recipient of the U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program in 2005, with current funding levels continuing apace.

One might reasonably ask: what role do ATC's high-powered advisors, coming from a host of U.S. multinational defense and security firms play in Washington's procurement largess, not to mention their role in squashing Sibel Edmonds' explosive revelations?

But we better move fast if answers are to be had. The Bush administration is seeking to legalize the secretive nuclear trade with Turkey. Perhaps because of on-going disclosures in The Sunday Times, Bush cronies would be handed retroactive immunity for their role in trading nuclear secrets for profit. January 22, ironically the same day the Ergenekon bust went down, the Bush Administration quietly announced that the president wants Congress to approve the sale of nuclear technology to Turkey.

According to the January 22 White House press release,

The Agreement was signed on July 26, 2000, and President Clinton approved and authorized execution and made the determinations required by section 123 b. of the Act (Presidential Determination 2000 26, 65 FR 44403 (July 18, 2000)). However, immediately after signature, U.S. agencies received information that called into question the conclusions that had been drawn in the required NPAS and the original classified annex, specifically, information implicating Turkish private entities in certain activities directly relating to nuclear proliferation. [emphasis added]

This, after all, is what lies at the heart of Sibel Edmonds' revelations that "private entities" were planting moles at U.S. nuclear installations, stealing deadly atomic secrets and then selling them to A.Q. Khan's proliferation network with hefty profits all around. Edmonds further avers that "several arms of the government were shielding what was going on" to protect neocon war criminals and Bush-Cheney corporate bag-men. After all is said and done, are these the debauched "state secrets" Sibel Edmonds is constrained from disclosing under threat of a prison term by the iniquitous Bush gang?

It seems clear, in order to get to the bottom of this black hole of corporate malfeasance and criminal complicity with Turkey's repressive generals and neofascist gangsters, the U.S. Congress needs to launch an investigation with subpoenas liberally delivered to all parties concerned, beginning with Brent Scowcroft and Marc Grossman.

But as in Ankara, Washington's derin devlet masters are impervious to quaint notions of public accountability.

Friday, February 8, 2008

InfraGard: The FBI's "New Patriotic Alliance" with Corporate Criminals

In the old days, before a band of radical citizens raided the Media, PA offices of the FBI and exposed the Bureau's COINTELPRO operations against the left, federal gumshoes "partnered" with a host of "patriotic" groups and vigilante outfits to keep the rabble in line.

With quaint monikers such as the American Defense Society, American Protective League, American Vigilant Intelligence Foundation and the Legion of Justice--fascist before the word was coined by that old corporatist himself, Benito Mussolini--spying, provocation and, when necessary, extreme violence, were the handmaids of the "100% Americanism" touted by the Bureau's cross-dressing Director and his acolytes.

Though times have changed, some verities are eternal. "Since the business of government is business," it stands to reason that the FBI and their hapless competitors over at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), would modernize the state's collaboration with our masters: an updated "public-private partnership" for the 21st century clampdown.

Enter InfraGard, a spiffy brand for a fully operational network of private "security" specialists and "select" citizens keen on defending the "homeland."

In an exclusive piece in The Progressive magazine, Matthew Rothschild drops a dime on this sinister crew. Boasting some 23,000 members nationwide, including some "350 of our nation's Fortune 500," Rothschild writes,

The members of this rapidly growing group ... receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does--and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to "shoot to kill" in the event of martial law.

Among the perks available to this exclusive club of corporate grifters, InfraGard members, "Gain access to an FBI secure communication network complete with VPN encrypted website, webmail, listservs, message boards, and much more." According to its website InfraGard,

is a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) program that began in the Cleveland Field Office in 1996. It was a local effort to gain support from the information technology industry and academia for the FBI's investigative efforts in the cyber arena. The program expanded to other FBI Field Offices, and in 1998 the FBI assigned national program responsibility for InfraGard to the former National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) and to the Cyber Division in 2003. InfraGard and the FBI have developed a relationship of trust and credibility in the exchange of information concerning various terrorism, intelligence, criminal, and security matters [emphasis added].

One might reasonably ask: whose security and what matters are being attended to here?

While "infrastructure protection" sounds innocuous enough, do safeguards "meet[ing] the challenges America face in protecting against criminal, terrorist, and intelligence threats," mean curtailing a citizens' right to know when one of InfraGard's tony "partners" cut safety corners down at the local petrochemical plant or introduce silent and sinister cyber-monitoring tools on the latest version of a popular web browser? Phyllis Schneck, chairwoman of the board of directors of the group's National Members Alliance and vice president of research integration at Secure Computing, told Rothschild "People are happy to be in the know."

Make that some people.

In November 2001, InfraGard members were apprized of a vague "terrorist" threat (one of an endless stream as the Bush regime cranked-up its fear factory into full-production mode) to California bridges and other critical infrastructure. Rothschild reports,

The alert went out to the InfraGard membership. Enron was notified, and so, too, was Barry Davis, who worked for Morgan Stanley. He notified his brother Gray, the governor of California.

"He said his brother talked to him before the FBI," recalls Steve Maviglio, who was Davis's press secretary at the time. "And the governor got a lot of grief for releasing the information. In his defense, he said, 'I was on the phone with my brother, who is an investment banker. And if he knows, why shouldn't the public know?'"

Indeed, but perhaps the governor, whose post would soon be "terminated" by Rovian agents of "new thinking," hadn't gotten the message: this was America's Year Zero, when "everything changed"...except the Bushist grab for loot and power.

If this isn't troubling enough, it gets worse...much worse. An InfraGard whistleblower who had attended a "partnership for protection" meeting told Rothschild,

"The meeting started off innocuously enough, with the speakers talking about corporate espionage," he says. "From there, it just progressed. All of a sudden we were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we'd be given specific benefits." These included, he says, the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out.

But that's not all.

"Then they said when--not if--martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn't be prosecuted," he says. ... "I have nothing to gain by telling you this, and everything to lose," he adds. "I'm so nervous about this, and I'm not someone who gets nervous."

But as Jeff Wells over at Rigorous Intuition, writing on the "new reality" of an America in terminal mode cautions, "The harder truth may be that this is our destination. And they're not coming for us; they're here already, and they've always had us."

InfraGard: like new pod people, they're here already...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

U.S. Militarism & the Drug Trade: the Afghan Dossier

In The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, whose 1972 edition the CIA tried to suppress, Alfred W. McCoy writes,

Although the drug pandemic of the 1980s had complex causes, the growth in global heroin supply could be traced, in large part, to two key aspects of U.S. policy: the failure of the DEA's interdiction efforts and the CIA's covert operations. By attacking heroin trafficking in separate sectors of Asia's extended opium zone in isolation, the DEA simply diverted heroin exports from America to Europe and shifted opium production from southern Asia to Southeast Asia and back again--raising both global consumption and production with each move. Moreover, the increasing opium harvest in Burma and Afghanistan, America's major suppliers were largely the product of CIA covert operations. [Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Brooklyn, NY: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991 edition, p. 440]

Fast-forward 30 years. Writing in today's Guardian, Patrick Wintour informs us:

Afghanistan's opium economy will take up to 20 years to eradicate and require a £1bn investment from world leaders, according to a government study published yesterday. ... Its conclusions came as the UN produced fresh figures on the opium trade. The UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) believes this year's crop will be similar to, or slightly lower than, last year's record harvest. ... In 2007 Afghanistan had more land growing drugs than Colombia, Bolivia and Peru combined.

This is the sad face of the "new" Afghanistan, "liberated" from the ISI-linked Taliban and hailed by the toxic Bush regime as the first "success" of its ballyhooed (and malign) "war on terror." Preoccupied with stoning uppity women, applying sharia "law" (fully the "moral equivalent" of Blackwater Christian Crusaders), censoring journalists or padding Dubai bank accounts with assets looted from the Afghan people, the puppet Karzai regime -- like the Taliban before it, and now -- have a limitless source of "product" on hand to fuel their rapacious appetite for boodle.

UNODC's chief, Antonio Maria Costa, commenting on the report warns, "Europe and other major heroin markets should brace themselves for the health and security consequences."

These consequences won't be long in coming.

The 102-page précis, compiled by the Department of International Development and the World Bank (dubious sources, to be sure), suggest what is needed to stem the flow of illicit drugs from the world's number one narco state are not more guns -- or U.S. Apache helicopter gunships -- but a concerted effort to rebuild Afghanistan's shattered economy.

But the likelihood of this happening any time soon, given America's propensity for shady alliances with far-right drug- and warlords, say in Colombia or Kosovo just for kicks, is virtually nil.

One might reasonably ask, what has become of the billions of dollars in "development" aid doled out by U.S., Asian and European taxpayers?

According to Anthony Fontenot and Ajmal Maiwandi, just about what one would expect from an American military and CIA "liberation" racket:

Amid the ruined mud-bricked buildings of a city that has been devastated by war and neglect, divided into sinister, heavily fortified, military compounds, and occupied by armed local and foreign mercenaries, stand randomly dispersed extravaganzas of glass-and-tile palaces: symbols of the plunder that currently provides the economic base for the "reborn" Kabul. One result of the so-called War on Terror in Afghanistan is that vast amounts of money are now pouring into luxury real estate. ["Capitol of Chaos: The New Afghanistan of Warlords and Infidels," in Evil Paradises, New York: The New Press, 2007, p. 69]

Yes, "luxury real estate." As if Kabul were a deranged subdivision in southern California, Afghan warlords and the local equivalent of the "Real Housewives of Orange County" loll in sumptuary excess. No matter that the masses of impoverished Afghan farmers and proletarians literally starve to death, their assets (such as they are in a society devastated by decades of war fought on behalf of foreign masters) expropriated by criminal gangs dressed to kill in Armani suits.

Fontenot and Maiwandi report:

As in many parts of the world dominated by chaos and the naked struggle for power, the eccentric Afghan aesthetic forged by businessmen, militia commanders, drug barons, and warlords represents the first signs of an emerging postwar order and pathology. ... a collage of generic international products fused with kitsch samplings of Afghan vernacular architecture and textile patterns, all of which reflect the schizophrenic psyche of a war-torn society. [op. cit. p. 75]

Such is the terminal logic of U.S. militarism, where CIA "specialists" and corporate mercenaries are the shock troops of a predatory capitalism gone wild. Like marauding Borg threatening to "assimilate" the entire planet to a cultural wasteland of shopping malls, the international drug traffic fuels an endless cycle of violence, where, in the immortal words of robber-baroness Leona Helmsley, "the little people" always pay the price.