Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Friends-Enemies-Both? Our Foreign Policy Riddle // The Three-Decade US-Mujahideen Partnership Still Going Strong

Muj1In the last few weeks I’ve been reading and talking about the latest developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus. I am planning to post a few updates on the status of the score board in this region (pipeline rivalries, military base ‘erection’ scores- and what-not). Meanwhile, as I am dealing with all this I keep ending up with riddle-like situations. And instead of trying to solve or get out of these riddles, I’m going to give up and instead share one of them with you, my blogosphere friends.

Our enemies’ enemies are our friends. Many of our nation’s enemies are the enemies of our enemies, so that makes them what? Friends? Enemies? It depends? Both? And what would all this make our ‘real’ foreign policy makers? Enemies? Friends? Both? What?

Seriously! Think about it.

By now we all know, or should know, about our government and mainstream media’s past almost romantic relationship with the Mujahideen, Taliban-al Qaeda, during the 80s. Back then, in the 80s, they were fighting the Soviets, they were the enemies of our enemies, thus, our beloved friends, our trusted, financed and backed allies. Here are a few excerpts from what I wrote and quoted on this topic a while back:

Now let’s go back and search U.S. press coverage of Afghanistan’s ‘Freedom Fighters’ during the 80s and try to find any coverage related to these U.S. backed and supported operations’ intersection with the global narcotics trade. Are there any? I’m afraid we know the answer to this question. Here is further coverage based on the report by FAIR:

The press coverage of this era was overwhelmingly positive, even glowing, with regard to the guerrillas’ conduct in Afghanistan. Their unsavory features were downplayed or omitted altogether…Virtually all papers favored some amount of U.S. military support; and there was near unanimous agreement that the guerrillas were “heroic,” “courageous” and above all “freedom fighters.“”

According to the L.A. Times (6/23/86): “The Afghan guerrillas have earned the admiration of the American people for their courageous struggle…. The rebels deserve unstinting American political support and, within the limits of prudence, military hardware.“”

And here the axis of U.S. Government-U.S. Press- and the information spin or black-out:

Another problem was direct manipulation of reporting by the U.S. government, which was supporting the Mujahiddin guerrillas during both the Carter and Reagan administrations. (Indeed, we now know that U.S. aid to the Mujahiddin was secretly begun in July 1979, six months before the Soviets invaded–International Politics, 6/00.) This press manipulation began early in the conflict. In January 1980, the New York Times (1/26/80) reported that the State Department had “relaxed” its accuracy code for reporting information on Afghanistan. As a result, the Carter administration generated “accounts suggesting Soviet actions for which the administration itself has no solid foundation.“”

During the 80s our ‘real’ foreign policymakers couldn’t care less about adjectives such as extremists, terrorists, fanatics, anti-west…They were the beloved enemies of our enemies, and we’d do anything to support and use them. And this wasn’t necessarily about we the people of the US or our benefits or our best interests. After all, in the end the American people were the ones to pay the price for those unholy alliances where we selected, trained and backed the evildoer Bin Laden, our enemies’ enemy, thus, our beloved friend:

Our enemies’ enemies were our friends. Many of our nation’s enemies were the enemies of our enemies back then, so that made them our beloved friends.

Muj2Now, you may say, ‘that was a long time ago, it had to do with the Cold War, and it is simply not fair to criticize and judge based on this particular example…’And, I’d say, okay. Let’s fast forward. Let’s look at what we did with these same groups, in the 90s, after the wall came down and the Soviet empire collapsed.

The problem is this: without the Cold War excuse our foreign policymakers had a real hard time justifying our joint operations and terrorism schemes in the resource-rich ex Soviet states with these same groups, so they made sure they kept these policies unwritten and unspoken, and considering their grip on the mainstream media, largely unreported. Now what would your response be if I were to say, on the record, and if required, under oath:

Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned, financed and help execute every single major terrorist incident by Chechen rebels (and the Mujahideen) against Russia

Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned, financed and help execute every single uprising and terrorism related scheme in Xinxiang (aka East Turkistan and Uyghurstan)

Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned and carried out at least two assassination schemes against pro Russia officials in Azerbaijan

Those of you who are truly familiar with our real history and foreign policy making past would yawn, and say, ‘but of course. That has been our modus operandi for many decades.’ Unfortunately, the great majority would either be shocked if open minded, or shake their head in disbelief and write it off as another ‘conspiracy theory;’ well, thanks to our mainstream media.

You may remember one of these foreign policy makers from my State Secrets Privilege Gallery and my under oath testimony in the Krikorian case. Here is a quote from Graham A. Fuller, former Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Council on Intelligence:

‘The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.’

And this goes to the heart of our ‘real’ foreign policy practices showing our ‘real’ stand on Taliban years after the end of the Cold War and the first World Trade Center bombing:

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher – former White House Special Assistant to President Reagan and now Senior Member of the House International Relations Committee – declared that ‘this administration has a covert policy that has empowered the Taliban and enabled this brutal movement to hold on to power’. The assumption is that ‘the Taliban would bring stability to Afghanistan and permit the building of oil pipelines from Central Asia through Afghanistan to Pakistan’. US companies involved in the project included UNOCAL and ENRON. As early as May 1996, UNOCAL had officially announced plans to build a pipeline to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through western Afghanistan.

And Chechens are good friends since they are the enemies of our enemy, Russia:

From the mid-1990s, bin Laden funded Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab to the tune of several millions of dollars per month, sidelining the moderate Chechen majority. US intelligence remained deeply involved until the end of the decade. According to Yossef Bodanksy, then-Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in ‘yet another anti-Russian jihad, ‘seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces’. US Government officials participated in ‘a formal meeting in Azerbaijan’ in December 1999 ‘in which specific programmes for the training and equipping of mujahidin from the Caucasus, Central/South Asia and the Arab world were discussed and agreed upon’, culminating in ‘Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US “private security companies”… to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing jihad for a long time.’ The US saw the sponsorship of ‘Islamist jihad in the Caucasus’ as a way to ‘deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism’.

Okay, so the partnership and joint operations between our operatives and the Mujahideen (including the Taliban & al Qaeda) continued after the Cold War, and even after the first World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers, and the 1998 Embassy Bombings. On one hand we were declaring these people as our enemies, on the other hand, in Central Asia-Caucaus-Balkans and Xinxiang, they were the enemies of our enemies , thus our good partners and dear old friends. Except, by this time, the majority of us had stopped considering the Russians and Chinese enemies, instead they were viewed as mere competitors. And with that, the riddle slightly changes here:

Our competitors’ enemies were our friends. Many of our nation’s enemies were willing to become the enemies of our competitors, so that made them our dear friends.

You’d think after the September 11 Terrorist Attacks our foreign policy makers would seriously rethink their past M.O. and cease certain friendships and unholy alliances, despite the severe monetary consequences for a handful in the oil and MIC industries. But no. That doesn’t appear to be the case. And, as always, you won’t get the ‘real’ stories on this from the MSM. Here is a recent example:

Persistent accounts of western forces in Afghanistan using their helicopters to ferry Taleban fighters, strongly denied by the military, is feeding mistrust of the forces that are supposed to be bringing order to the country.

One such tale came from a soldier from the 209th Shahin Corps of the Afghan National Army, fighting against the growing insurgency in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. Over several months, he had taken part in several pitched battles against the armed opposition.

“Just when the police and army managed to surround the Taleban in a village of Qala-e-Zaal district, we saw helicopters land with support teams,” he said. “They managed to rescue their friends from our encirclement, and even to inflict defeat on the Afghan National Army.”

This story, in one form or another, is being repeated throughout northern Afghanistan. Dozens of people claim to have seen Taleban fighters disembark from foreign helicopters in several provinces. The local talk is of the insurgency being consciously moved north, with international troops ferrying fighters in from the volatile south, to create mayhem in a new location.Helicopters are almost exclusively the domain of foreign forces in Afghanistan – the international military controls the air space, and has a virtual monopoly on aircraft. So when Afghans see choppers, they think foreign military.

“Our fight against the Taleban is nonsense,” said the soldier from Shahin Corps. “Our foreigner ‘friends’ are friendlier to the opposition.”

Muj3Let’s take a look at certain important northern neighbors in Afghanistan where our ‘real’ policymakers have been facing…hmmm… frustration, thus, in need of friends to get back at those who’ve been causing this…hmmmmm… frustration:

Previously close to Washington (which gave Uzbekistan half a billion dollars in aid in 2004, about a quarter of its military budget), the government of Uzbekistan has recently restricted American military use of the airbase at Karshi-Khanabad for air operations in neighboring Afghanistan.

The relationship between Uzbekistan and the United States began to deteriorate after the so-called “colour revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine (and to a lesser extent Kyrgyzstan). When the U.S. joined in a call for an independent international investigation of the bloody events at Andijon, the relationship took an additional nosedive, and President Islam Karimov changed the political alignment of the country to bring it closer to Russia and China, countries which chose not to criticise Uzbekistan’s leaders for their alleged human rights violations.

In late July 2005, the government of Uzbekistan ordered the United States to vacate an air base in Karshi-Kanabad (near Uzbekistan’s border with Afghanistan) within 180 days. Karimov had offered use of the base to the U.S. shortly after 9/11. It is also believed by some Uzbeks that the protests in Andijan were brought about by the U.K. and U.S. influences in the area of Andijan. This is another reason for the hostility between Uzbekistan and the West.

And this to sweeten the deal, or is it turning it into a rather strong vinegar, at least for the ones who count in making and implementing our unwritten and unspoken foreign policy practices:

The leaders of Uzbekistan and China on Wednesday said they had signed deals aimed at increasing cooperation on energy and regional security. Speaking ahead of an annual meeting of the Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Tashkent, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Uzbek President Islam Karimov pledged closer ties, particularly on nuclear fuel.

“One of the question we discussed was that of long-term and stable cooperation in the field of … uranium. It’s necessary to work in such a way to develop natural uranium and uranium fields,” Hu told reporters.

Although the leaders said they had signed a number of agreements regarding the purchase of energy from Uzbekistan, including uranium and natural gas, they declined to provide specifics details on the deals.

Okay, so you get the general picture on Uzbekistan. Right?

Next, let’s take a quick look at Turkmenistan:

Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world to Russia, Iran and the United States in natural gas reserves. The Turkmenistan Natural Gas Company (Türkmengaz), under the auspices of the Ministry of Oil and Gas, controls gas extraction in the country. Gas production is the most dynamic and promising sector of the national economy. Turkmenistan’s gas reserves are estimated at 3.5-6.7 mcubic meters and its prospecting potential at up to 21 trillion cubic meters. In 2010 Ashgabat started a policy of diversifying export routes for its raw materials.

China is set to become the largest buyer of gas from Turkmenistan over the coming years as a pipeline linking the two countries, through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, reaches full capacity. In addition to supplying Russia, China and Iran, Ashgabat took concrete measures to accelerate progress in the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan and India pipeline (TAPI). Turkmenistan has previously estimated the cost of the project at $3.3 billion. On May 21st, president Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov unexpectedly signed a decree stating that companies from Turkmenistan will build an internal East-West gas pipeline allowing the transfer of gas from the biggest deposits in Turkmenistan (Dowlatabad and Yolotan) to the Caspian coast. The East-West pipeline is planned to be around 1000 km long and have a carrying capacity of 30 bn m³ annually, at a cost of between one and one and a half billion US dollars.

And, this is the latest to truly pi.. off our ‘real’ foreign policy beneficiaries:

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has announced the discovery of yet another gas field on the right bank of the Amu Darya River in Turkmenistan, holding in excess of 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas.

Separately, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow inaugurated a new compressor station at the Bagtiyarlyk fields, estimated by Chinese engineers to hold 1.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

These fields feed the Turkmenistan-China pipeline, which traverses Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and was opened in December 2009 with a projected capacity of 40 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) by 2015, with some of that volume being consumed in southern Kazakhstan. (See Gas pipeline gigantism, Asia Times Online, July 17, 2008.)

In June this year, Ashgabad and Beijing agreed to increase Turkmen exports to China above the agreed level; the new compressor station will eventually raise the existing capacity to 22 bcm/y from the 6 bcm/y estimate of Chinese consumption of Turkmenistan-sourced gas for 2010.

And here, a brief snapshot of where Tajikistan stands:

Tajikistan is ready to further improve its cooperation in various fields with China, and make joint efforts to ensure the continued success of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), President Emomali Rakhmonov said in a recent interview with Chinese media.

The establishment of a friendly relationship with China was one of the great achievements that Tajikistan had made since its independence nearly 15 years ago, he said in his interview shortly ahead of the summit of the SCO heads of state to be held in Shanghai.

He mentioned in particular the opening of the Karasu pass on the Tajik-Chinese border.

“It is an important event in the history of the Tajik-Chinese relations, since it was the first time that the two countries were linked by motor traffic,” Rakhmonov said.

Trade between the two countries was developing rapidly and China’s influence on the Tajik economy was also growing, he said.

The president expressed satisfaction with the Tajik-Chinese trade volume which was increasing every year. In 2005, bilateral trade between the two countries had doubled from the previous year, he said.

And finally, if you’ve been following the recent turmoil and elections in Kyrgyzstan, you’d know that things haven’t been looking up for US business and bases over there:

In a surprise result which underscores what remains an extremely divided electorate in Kyrgyzstan, the parliamentary vote has led to the victory of the nationalist Fatherland Party (Ata-Jurt) and a very unclear road to a coalition government.

A Fatherland dominated government might bode ill for the Obama Administration’s designs on keeping a military base in Kyrgyzstan, as the party has spoken out against extending the US lease on the base past 2011.

Things certainly haven’t been looking up for our MIC, Oil, and related mega companies in that part of the world. And this kind of situation puts our ‘real’ foreign policy makers in their ‘enemies-of-our-enemies’ are needed mode. And when that happens the rest will follow: contracts for our good ole Mujahideen friends, convenient terrorism related incidents and pipeline sabotages right and left, a more aggressive control of the opium trade to finance unwritten-unspoken foreign policy practices …

In the coming days I’ll be posting more updates and brief (not like this one!) commentaries and analysis on this topic, meanwhile, let’s round up our confusing but pretty much on target foreign policy riddle for the post 9/11 decade:

Our competitors’ enemies are our friends. Our nation’s government designated terrorist enemies are willing to become our competitors’ enemies, and that makes them our foreign policymakers’ convenient good friends while they remain our nation’s enemies. And that, my friend, makes our real foreign policy makers our (?)…

I’ll leave the solving and perfection of the above riddle to you. Please keep them coming.

# # # #

Zio-Nazi Israel's New Loyalty Oath - by Stephen Lendman

Since inception, Israel's democracy was illusory, but of late it's further eroded. The Cabinet's October 10 adopted Law of Citizenship amendment requires all non-Jews wanting it to pledge loyalty to "the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," its latest anti-democratic measure.

Voting 22 - 8, it evoked protests from Israeli artists, writers and intellectuals in front of Tel Aviv's Independence Hall against "the continuous erosion of Israeli democracy." Actress Hana Maron quoted Israel's Declaration of Independence saying:

"I will read this again: '(the state of Israel) will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.' This makes me want to cry. What has become of us?"

Author Sefi Rachlevsky said:

"a country that invades the sacred space of the citizen's conscience, and punishes him for opinions and beliefs that are not in line with the authorities ceases to be a democracy and becomes a fascist state."

Defying the Cabinet's edict, Rachlevsky read excepts from a document titled "the declaration of independence from fascism," stating:

"We, citizens of Israel....have gathered here to announce that we shall not be citizens of the country purporting to be the state of Israel."

Professor Gavriel Solomon compared today's Israel to 1935 Germany, saying:

"the idea of Judenrein (Jew free zone) or Arabrein is not new....Some might say 'how can you compare us to Nazis?' I am not talking about the death camps, but about the year 1935. There were no camps yet but there were racist laws. And we are heading forward toward these kinds of laws. The government is clearly declaring our incapacity for democracy."

Solomon referred to the Nuremberg Laws, explained in a previous article, accessed through the following link:

Among other provisions, they:

-- protected "German Blood and German Honour;"

-- prevented marriage or sexual relations between Jews and Aryans;

-- denied rights and citizenship to anyone with Jewish blood;

-- banned Jews from holding professional jobs to exclude them from education, politics and industry;

-- segregated Jews from Aryans; and

-- effectively denied Jews all rights, in what became a prelude to genocide, what Palestinians (and to a lesser degree Israeli Arabs) have incrementally endured for decades by racist laws, persecution, land theft, dispossession, exclusion, isolation, mass imprisonment, torture, targeted assassinations, violence, and slaughter.

Israel's direction mirror's 1930s Germany, especially under a Netanyahu/Lieberman/Shas coalition and most extremist ever Knesset, flouting democratic freedoms one law or edict at a time. Lieberman and other extremists called the new measure a first step to loyalty legislation they want enacted as well as other anti-democratic laws to be considered in the Knesset's winter session. A forthcoming article addresses them.

On October 11, Haaretz writer Carlo Strenger headlined, "Stranger than Fiction/Loyalty oath is not about Arabs, it's about hatred of liberal values," calling the measure "bad, harmful and useless," Labor Party Minister Isaac Herzog warning that it moves incrementally toward fascism.

Legal expert Mordechai Kremnitzer said it accomplishes nothing except to make Israeli Arabs feel unwanted. Others stressed Israel's deteriorating image in world opinion. Supporters, however, see the measure as a step "toward ensuring loyalty to the state by legislation," singling out Arab citizens "whom Avigdor Lieberman is alienating and insulting almost every day, and Palestinians who want to gain Israeli citizenship."

Others (including MKs Benny Begin and Dan Meridor) noted the "strange alliance" between Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our home) secular ultranationalists and Shas, the major ultra-Orthodox party. Why are they cooperating and allied with other hard right parties? Perhaps it's less fear of Israel's enemies and more about:

"a visceral hatred for the Western values and the liberal ethos. They all hate freedom; they all hate the idea of critical, open discourse, in which ideas are discussed according to their merit. They keep criticizing what they see as the liberal bias of the media and academia, and they have sustained attempts to curtail freedom at the universities."

Lieberman is a notorious racist, representing Israel's most extreme hard right, a man critics denounce as espousing hatred for Arabs, democracy, and the rule of law. A previous article on him can be accessed through the following link:

For decades, Shas only pretended to support democracy, believing, in fact, that citizens have no right to think freely and critically. "(T)hey believe that only their spiritual leader, Ivadia Yossef, must determine what is right and what is wrong."

Moreover, secular and religious extremists want Israeli Arabs and Palestinians denied all rights; that is, what few remain, most others aren't allowed by a nation affording them solely to Jews.

As a result, Strenger says Minister Herzog is wrong believing "fascism lurks at the fringes of Israeli society. It is now in the mainstream. After all, even the majority of Likud ministers" backed the outrageous amendment.

"Israel is now facing a fateful question: will it remain a liberal democracy, or is it on the way to becoming a totalitarian ethnocracy?"

In fact, Israel was never a democracy, granting rights solely to Jews. A more accurate consideration is whether Israeli extremists will erode all freedoms, demand universal unquestioned loyalty, ban free expression and dissent, suppress all civil liberties by edict, and perhaps usurp dictatorial powers with no elections except the kinds despotic states hold.

Strenger is right, however, saying "Israel has embarked on a slippery slope; and we cannot know where it will end....It is a truly terrible tragedy" that enlightenment ideals and liberal values are being "gradually erase(d).." Growing fascism is "burying" what remains of Israeli democracy, so flawed it may easily be toppled.

Discussing the Citizen Law amendment, a Haaretz October 10 editorial sharply criticized Labor chairman Ehud Barak, saying he's turned the party into a "weak, crumbling entity devoid of any of its own staked-out positions....It has become nothing more than a tool of the extreme right" and is now irrelevant.

A same day Gideon Levy article headlined, "The Jewish Republic of Israel," saying the Cabinet measure risks it becoming a "theocracy like Saudi Arabia....Remember this day. It's the day Israel change(d) its character." It may also change its name, affecting all Israeli citizens.

"From now on, we will (openly) be living in a new, officially approved, ethnocratic, theocratic, nationalistic and racist country." Calling Labor a "doormat" and Netanyahu Yisrael Beinteinu's leader, a virtual Lieberman stooge, today's loyalty oath will be tomorrow's law, "threatening to drown the remnants of democracy" for a new Israel "no one really understands, but it certainly won't be a democracy."

The Netanyahu/Lieberman/Shas cabal deplores it. But who can explain "the complacency of the masses," minority protests notwithstanding. In contrast, public opinion shows "almost no one....feel(s) affected."

Real democracies don't demand loyalty oaths. "Only Israel. And it is being done either to provoke the Arab minority more and push them (toward less) loyalty so one day (it will be easier to) get rid of them," as well as scuttle any chance for peace, though practically none exists anyway. One way or other, Israel's current direction endangers everyone, including Jews who'll end up losers like Arabs.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The White Noise of War

In the high-vaulted main hall of Union Station in Washington, DC, the sound of a drone attack interrupts the morning rush hour. A dozen people suddenly freeze in place. Some point up into the air. Others crouch with hands over their heads in a vain attempt at self-protection. The commuters on their way to and from the trains pause to look at the stationary figures. After a minute or so, the leaf-blower sound of the drone attack cuts off, and the figures crumple to the ground, crying out in pain. As the cries of the victims fade, two attendants cover the bodies with blood-stained sheets.

A banner unfolds. A chant begins. The commuters in Union Station receive their termination notices. "You are a child living in Miranshah, Pakistan," reads one of these flyers. "Your house is adjacent to a militant compound. A 'kill chain' comprised of U.S. officials mandates that a pilotless drone aircraft should fire on the building where you live. On August 23rd, 2010, a CIA drone-operated Hellfire missile kills you, two other children, and four women."

This mock drone attack (you can see the video here)--along with others in San Francisco, Boston, and Madison--takes place on the anniversary of the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Many commuters walk by the scene and pay scant attention to the five-minute performance. This is, after all, Washington, DC: Protests, civil disobedience, and political street theater are a feature of the landscape.

But there's another, more disturbing reason for the indifference. On October 7, we entered our tenth year of the Afghanistan War. The air war, the Pentagon pronouncements, the daily invocations of patriotism: These have all combined to create a white noise that drowns out the voices of opposition at home and abroad. This white noise of war is a drone sound that makes others duck and cover but renders Americans dangerously complacent.

So far, the Obama administration's policies have been part of the problem, not the solution. The president authorized a surge in troops on the ground and asked Congress to increase the money we're paying for that war. At the same time, the administration has dramatically increased the frequency of drone attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan — from two to three a week to five attacks every week in September.

These drone attacks aren't the pinpoint strikes the Pentagon would like us to believe. We are killing as many as 50 civilians for every extremist leader targeted. Anti-American sentiment has surged in Pakistan and throughout the Muslim world. According to a recent New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow poll, nearly nine out of 10 people in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) oppose the U.S. military pursuing al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their region and "nearly 70 percent of FATA residents instead want the Pakistani military alone to fight Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the tribal areas."

The hearts and minds have spoken. But they can't be heard above the white noise of war.

This poll was conducted before a U.S. gunship mistakenly killed three Pakistani soldiers in an attack on a military outpost in Pakistan. The United States apologized. But Pakistanis remain outraged.

"Why should NATO only acknowledge its mistake in the killing Frontier Corps personnel?" asks the English-language Pakistani newspaper, The Nation. "Does the state of Pakistan not value the lives of its civilians? Surely the Pakistan government should have responded to this half-baked apology with a demand for a proper apology for all the NATO intrusions into FATA which have killed Pakistani citizens?" Pakistan temporarily closed its borders to NATO transport for the Afghanistan War. Too bad Islamabad reopened the border, writes Foreign Policy In Focus blogger Russ Wellen — it was a perfect opportunity for Washington to begin "in earnest to back away from the crime scene that has become Afghanistan."

What outrages Pakistan barely registers here in the United States. According to a Gallup poll from last month, the issue of war — including the fear of war — ranked as the most important issue facing the United States for only three percent of respondents. "National security" and "war in Iraq" scored even lower. And this data is remarkably consistent going back to March. A politically savvy president would shift the money from areas of relative indifference (war) to areas of relative obsession (jobs and the economy).

Today, of course, everyone is focused on the mid-term elections and the prospects of a big Republican win . "Whereas Obama seemed to do all the right things in his quest for the presidency, he seemed to make all the wrong moves as chief executive," writes FPIF columnist Walden Bello in Lessons of the Obama Debacle. "His prioritizing of health care reform, a massively complex task, has been identified as a key blunder. This decision certainly contributed to the debacle. But other important factors related mainly to his handling of the economic crisis, a primary concern of the electorate, were perhaps more critical."

That economic crisis will continue to dominate the second half of Obama's term. It won't be easy to push through job-creation policies in the face of Republican obstructionism (and Democratic wishy-washiness). Hamstrung on domestic policy, he could still act boldly in the global realm, creating a foreign policy legacy that could stand beside health care reform. Ending the Afghanistan War, alongside the troop withdrawals from Iraq, could be that legacy. Such courageous acts could create a buzz for Barack Obama, perhaps even enduring applause, that would qualify, finally, as a fitting substitute for the white noise of war.

Bases East and West

Local resistance to U.S. military bases has long been a challenge to alliances and military strategies alike. In Colombia, this resistance has risen as high as the Constitutional Court, which recently declared the latest U.S.-Colombian base deal invalid. Washington isn't concerned that the ruling will affect counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics programs.

"Many of the most pernicious aspects of the military base agreement — especially regarding U.S. intentions for extraterritorial uses of the bases in the region - were not contained in the accord itself, but in U.S. budget and planning documents," write FPIF contributors John Lindsay-Poland and Susana Pimiento in U.S. Base Deal for Colombia: Back to the Status Quo. "It may be that strong opposition to the agreement chastened these ambitions. But scrapping the base agreement will not necessarily neutralize such regional interventionist plans."

In Japan, meanwhile, Okinawans continue to resist the best-laid plans of Tokyo and Washington. For the last three years, the residents of the Okinawan town of Takae have prevented Japanese construction teams from building helipads that the U.S. military wants in exchange for closing a nearby jungle warfare training center. "Over 10,000 locals, mainland Japanese, and foreign nationals have participated in a non-stop sit-in outside the planned helipad sites," writes FPIF contributor Jon Mitchell in Postcard from…Takae. "So far, they've managed to thwart any further construction attempts. At small marquee tents, the villagers greet visitors with cups of tea and talk them through their campaign, highlighting their message with hand-written leaflets and water-stained maps."

The Okinawan base issue is not going away any time soon. "The controversy will also likely play a large role in the November election for governor of Okinawa," writes FPIF contributor Greg Chaffin in Okinawa and the Changing U.S.-Japan Alliance. "The incumbent, Hirokazu Nakaima, faces former Ginowan City mayor, Yoichi Iha. Iha strongly opposes the relocation plan as well as to the continued operation of the Futenma base at all. Nakaima, bending to popular opposition to relocation, has at times harshly criticized Tokyo over its actions on the matter, but without declaring categorical opposition to the base. With Naoto Kan retaining leadership of the DPJ and thereby the prime ministership, the stage has been set for a major domestic political show-down between Tokyo and the local Okinawan governments, and the crisis over Futenma will likely recur in the coming months." You can also read a 60-Second Expert version of this policy report.

. . .

Foreign Policy In Focus is a network for research, analysis and action that brings together more than 700 scholars, advocates and activists who strive to make the United States a more responsible global partner. It is a project of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington.

The Institute for Policy Studies is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice and the environment in the U.S. and globally. It works with social movements to promote democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate and military power.

Pepe Escobar, Pipelineistan's New Silk Road - China’s Pipelineistan “War” Anteing Up, Betting, and Bluffing in the New Great Game

Future historians may well agree that the twenty-first century Silk Road first opened for business on December 14, 2009. That was the day a crucial stretch of pipeline officially went into operation linking the fabulously energy-rich state of Turkmenistan (via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) to Xinjiang Province in China’s far west. Hyperbole did not deter the spectacularly named Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan’s president, from bragging, “This project has not only commercial or economic value. It is also political. China, through its wise and farsighted policy, has become one of the key guarantors of global security.”

The bottom line is that, by 2013, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong will be cruising to ever more dizzying economic heights courtesy of natural gas supplied by the 1,833-kilometer-long Central Asia Pipeline, then projected to be operating at full capacity. And to think that, in a few more years, China’s big cities will undoubtedly also be getting a taste of Iraq’s fabulous, barely tapped oil reserves, conservatively estimated at 115 billion barrels, but possibly closer to 143 billion barrels, which would put it ahead of Iran. When the Bush administration’s armchair generals launched their Global War on Terror, this was not exactly what they had in mind.

China’s economy is thirsty, and so it’s drinking deeper and planning deeper yet. It craves Iraq’s oil and Turkmenistan’s natural gas, as well as oil from Kazakhstan. Yet instead of spending more than a trillion dollars on an illegal war in Iraq or setting up military bases all over the Greater Middle East and Central Asia, China used its state oil companies to get some of the energy it needed simply by bidding for it in a perfectly legal Iraqi oil auction.

Meanwhile, in the New Great Game in Eurasia, China had the good sense not to send a soldier anywhere or get bogged down in an infinite quagmire in Afghanistan. Instead, the Chinese simply made a direct commercial deal with Turkmenistan and, profiting from that country’s disagreements with Moscow, built itself a pipeline which will provide much of the natural gas it needs.

No wonder the Obama administration’s Eurasian energy czar Richard Morningstar was forced to admit at a congressional hearing that the U.S. simply cannot compete with China when it comes to Central Asia’s energy wealth. If only he had delivered the same message to the Pentagon.

That Iranian Equation

In Beijing, they take the matter of diversifying oil supplies very, very seriously. When oil reached $150 a barrel in 2008 -- before the U.S.-unleashed global financial meltdown hit -- Chinese state media had taken to calling foreign Big Oil “international petroleum crocodiles,” with the implication that the West’s hidden agenda was ultimately to stop China’s relentless development dead in its tracks.

Twenty-eight percent of what’s left of the world’s proven oil reserves are in the Arab world. China could easily gobble it all up. Few may know that China itself is actually the world’s fifth largest oil producer, at 3.7 million barrels per day (bpd), just below Iran and slightly above Mexico. In 1980, China consumed only 3% of the world’s oil. Now, its take is around 10%, making it the planet’s second largest consumer. It has already surpassed Japan in that category, even if it’s still way behind the U.S., which eats up 27% of global oil each year. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China will account for over 40% of the increase in global oil demand until 2030. And that’s assuming China will grow at “only” a 6% annual rate which, based on present growth, seems unlikely.

Saudi Arabia controls 13% of world oil production. At the moment, it is the only swing producer -- one, that is, that can move the amount of oil being pumped up or down at will -- capable of substantially increasing output. It’s no accident, then, that, pumping 500,000 bpd, it has become one of Beijing’s major oil suppliers. The top three, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce, are Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Angola. By 2013-2014, if all goes well, the Chinese expect to add Iraq to that list in a big way, but first that troubled country’s oil production needs to start cranking up. In the meantime, it’s the Iranian part of the Eurasian energy equation that’s really nerve-racking for China’s leaders.

Chinese companies have invested a staggering $120 billion in Iran's energy sector over the past five years. Already Iran is China’s number two oil supplier, accounting for up to 14% of its imports; and the Chinese energy giant Sinopec has committed an additional $6.5 billion to building oil refineries there. Due to harsh U.N.-imposed and American sanctions and years of economic mismanagement, however, the country lacks the high-tech know-how to provide for itself, and its industrial structure is in a shambles. The head of the National Iranian Oil Company, Ahmad Ghalebani, has publicly admitted that machinery and parts used in Iran’s oil production still have to be imported from China.

Sanctions can be a killer, slowing investment, increasing the cost of trade by over 20%, and severely constricting Tehran’s ability to borrow in global markets. Nonetheless, trade between China and Iran grew by 35% in 2009 to $27 billion. So while the West has been slamming Iran with sanctions, embargos, and blockades, Iran has been slowly evolving as a crucial trade corridor for China -- as well as Russia and energy-poor India. Unlike the West, they are all investing like crazy there because it's easy to get concessions from the government; it's easy and relatively cheap to build infrastructure; and being on the inside when it comes to Iranian energy reserves is a necessity for any country that wants to be a crucial player in Pipelineistan, that contested chessboard of crucial energy pipelines over which much of the New Great Game in Eurasia takes place. Undoubtedly, the leaders of all three countries are offering thanks to whatever gods they care to worship that Washington continues to make it so easy (and lucrative) for them.

Few in the U.S. may know that last year Saudi Arabia -- now (re)arming to the teeth, courtesy of Washington, and little short of paranoid about the Iranian nuclear program -- offered to supply the Chinese with the same amount of oil the country currently imports from Iran at a much cheaper price. But Beijing, for whom Iran is a key long-term strategic ally, scotched the deal.

As if Iran’s structural problems weren’t enough, the country has done little to diversify its economy beyond oil and natural gas exports in the past 30 years; inflation’s running at more than 20%; unemployment at more than 20%; and young, well educated people are fleeing abroad, a major brain drain for that embattled land. And don’t think that’s the end of its litany of problems. It would like to be a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) -- the multi-layered economic/military cooperation union that is a sort of Asian response to NATO -- but is only an official SCO observer because the group does not admit any country under U.N. sanctions. Tehran, in other words, would like some great power protection against the possibility of an attack from the U.S. or Israel. As much as Iran may be on the verge of becoming a far more influential player in the Central Asian energy game thanks to Russian and Chinese investment, it’s extremely unlikely that either of those countries would actually risk war against the U.S. to “save” the Iranian regime.

The Great Escape

From Beijing’s point of view, the title of the movie version of the intractable U.S. v. Iran conflict and a simmering U.S. v. China strategic competition in Pipelineistan could be: “Escape from Hormuz and Malacca.”

The Strait of Hormuz is the definition of a potential strategic bottleneck. It is, after all, the only entryway to the Persian Gulf and through it now flow roughly 20% of China’s oil imports. At its narrowest, it is only 36 kilometers wide, with Iran to the north and Oman to the south. China’s leaders fret about the constant presence of U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups on station and patrolling nearby.

With Singapore to the North and Indonesia to the south, the Strait of Malacca is another potential bottleneck if ever there was one -- and through it flow as much as 80% of China’s oil imports. At its narrowest, it is only 54 kilometers wide and like the Strait of Hormuz, its security is also of the made-in-USA variety. In a future face-off with Washington, both straits could quickly be closed or controlled by the U.S. Navy.

Hence, China’s increasing emphasis on developing a land-based Central Asian energy strategy could be summed up as: bye-bye, Hormuz! Bye-bye, Malacca! And a hearty welcome to a pipeline-driven new Silk Road from the Caspian Sea to China’s Far West in Xinjiang.

Kazakhstan has 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves, but its largest oil fields are not far from the Chinese border. China sees that country as a key alternative oil supplier via future pipelines that would link the Kazakh oil fields to Chinese oil refineries in its far west. In fact, China’s first transnational Pipelineistan adventure is already in place: the 2005 China-Kazakhstan oil project, financed by Chinese energy giant CNPC.

Much more is to come, and Chinese leaders expect energy-rich Russia to play a significant part in China’s escape-hatch planning as well. Strategically, this represents a crucial step in regional energy integration, tightening the Russia/China partnership inside the SCO as well as at the U.N. Security Council.

When it comes to oil, the name of the game is the immense Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline. Last August, a 4,000-kilometer-long Russian section from Taishet in eastern Siberia to Nakhodka, still inside Russian territory, was begun. Russian Premier Vladimir Putin hailed ESPO as “a really comprehensive project that has strengthened our energy cooperation.” And in late September, the Russians and the Chinese inaugurated a 999-kilometer-long pipeline from Skovorodino in Russia’s Amur region to the petrochemical hub Daqing in northeast China.

Russia is currently delivering up to 130 million tons of Russian oil a year to Europe. Soon, no less than 50 million tons may be heading to China and the Pacific region as well.

There are, however, hidden tensions between the Russians and the Chinese when it comes to energy matters. The Russian leadership is understandably wary of China’s startling strides in Central Asia, the former Soviet Union’s former “near abroad.” After all, as the Chinese have been doing in Africa in their search for energy, in Central Asia, too, the Chinese are building railways and introducing high-tech trains, among other modern wonders, in exchange for oil and gas concessions.

Despite the simmering tensions between China, Russia, and the U.S., it’s too early to be sure just who is likely to emerge as the victor in the new Great Game in Central Asia, but one thing is clear enough. The Central Asian “stans” are becoming ever more powerful poker players in their own right as Russia tries not to lose its hegemony there, Washington places all its chips on pipelines meant to bypass Russia (including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline that pumps oil from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia) and China antes up big time for its Central Asian future. Whoever loses, this is a game that the “stans” cannot but profit from.

Recently, our man Gurbanguly, the Turkmen leader, chose China as his go-to country for an extra $4.18 billion loan for the development of South Yolotan, his country’s largest gas field. (The Chinese had already shelled out $3 billion to help develop it.) Energy bureaucrats in Brussels were devastated. With estimated reserves of up to 14 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, the field has the potential to flood the energy-starved European Union with gas for more than 20 years. Goodbye to all that?

In 2009, Turkmenistan’s proven gas reserves were estimated at a staggering 8.1 trillion cubic meters, fourth largest in the world after Russia, Iran, and Qatar. Not surprisingly, from the point of view of Ashgabat, the country’s capital, it invariably seems to be raining gas. Nonetheless, experts doubt that the landlocked, idiosyncratic Central Asian republic actually has enough blue gold to supply Russia (which absorbed 70% of Turkmenistan’s supply before the pipeline to China opened), China, Western Europe and Iran, all at the same time.

Currently, Turkmenistan sells its gas to: China via the world's largest gas pipeline, 7,000 kilometers long and designed for a capacity of 40 billion cubic meters per year, Russia (10 billion cubic meters per year, down from 30 billion per year until 2008), and Iran (14 billion cubic meters per year). Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad always gets a red-carpet welcome from Gurbanguly, and the Russian energy giant Gazprom, thanks to an improved pricing policy, is treated as a preferred customer.

At present, however, the Chinese are atop the heap, and more generally, whatever happens, there can be little question that Central Asia will be China’s major foreign supplier of natural gas. On the other hand, the fact that Turkmenistan has, in practice, committed its entire future gas exports to China, Russia, and Iran means the virtual death of various trans-Caspian Sea pipeline plans long favored by Washington and the European Union.

IPI vs. TAPI All Over Again

On the oil front, even if all the “stans” sold China every barrel of oil they currently pump, less than half of China’s daily import needs would be met. Ultimately, only the Middle East can quench China’s thirst for oil. According to the International Energy Agency, China’s overall oil needs will rise to 11.3 million barrels per day by 2015, even with domestic production peaking at 4.0 million bpd. Compare that to what some of China’s alternative suppliers are now producing: Angola, 1.4 million bpd; Kazakhstan, 1.4 million as well; and Sudan, 400,000.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia produces 10.9 million bpd, Iran around 4.0 million, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 3.0 million, Kuwait 2.7 million -- and then there’s Iraq, presently at 2.5 million and likely to reach at least 4.0 million by 2015. Still, Beijing has yet to be fully convinced that this is a safe supply, especially given all those U.S. “forward operating sites” in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman, plus those roaming naval battle groups in the Persian Gulf.

On the gas front, China definitely counts on a South Asian game changer. Beijing has already spent $200 million on the first phase in the construction of a deepwater port at Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province. It wanted, and got from Islamabad, “sovereign guarantees to the port’s facilities.” Gwadar is only 400 kilometers from Hormuz. With Gwadar, the Chinese Navy would have a homeport that would easily allow it to monitor traffic in the strait and someday perhaps even thwart the U.S. Navy’s expansionist designs in the Indian Ocean.

But Gwadar has another infinitely juicier future role. It could prove the pivot in a competition between two long-discussed pipelines: TAPI and IPI. TAPI stands for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, which can never be built as long as U.S. and NATO occupation forces are fighting the resistance umbrella conveniently labeled “Taliban” in Afghanistan. IPI, however, is the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, also known as the “peace pipeline” (which, of course, would make TAPI the “war pipeline”). To Washington’s immeasurable distress, last June, Iran and Pakistan finally closed the deal to build the “IP” part of IPI, with Pakistan assuring Iran that either India or China could later be brought into the project.

Whether it’s IP, IPI, or IPC, Gwadar will be a key node. If, under pressure from Washington, which treats Tehran like the plague, India is forced to pull out of the project, China already has made it clear that it wants in. The Chinese would then build a Pipelineistan link from Gwadar along the Karakorum highway in Pakistan to China via the Khunjerab Pass -- another overland corridor that would prove immune to U.S. interference. It would have the added benefit of radically cutting down the 20,000-kilometer-long tanker route around the southern rim of Asia.

Arguably, for the Indians it would be a strategically sound move to align with IPI, trumping a deep suspicion that the Chinese will move to outflank them in the search for foreign energy with a “string of pearls” strategy: the setting up of a series of “home ports” along its key oil supply routes from Pakistan to Myanmar. In that case, Gwadar would no longer simply be a “Chinese” port.

As for Washington, it still believes that if TAPI is built, it will help keep India from fully breaking the U.S.-enforced embargo on Iran. Energy-starved Pakistan obviously prefers its “all-weather” ally China, which might commit itself to building all sorts of energy infrastructure within that flood-devastated country. In a nutshell, if the unprecedented energy cooperation between Iran, Pakistan, and China goes forward, it will signal a major defeat for Washington in the New Great Game in Eurasia, with enormous geopolitical and geo-economic repercussions.

For the moment, Beijing’s strategic priority has been to carefully develop a remarkably diverse set of energy-suppliers -- a flow of energy that covers Russia, the South China Sea, Central Asia, the East China Sea, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. (China’s forays into Africa and South America will be dealt with in a future installment of our TomDispatch tour of the globe's energy hotspots.) If China has so far proven masterly in the way it has played its cards in its Pipelineistan “war”, the U.S. hand -- bypass Russia, elbow out China, isolate Iran -- may soon be called for what it is: a bluff.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is Obama Does Globalistan. He may be reached at

Copyright 2010 Pepe Escobar

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meltdown of Team Obama. White House in Crisis

Washington has not witnessed so much top level White House intrigue since October 20, 1973, when a Saturday night saw President Nixon fire the Watergate independent counsel, the U.S. attorney general, and the deputy attorney general in the "Saturday Night Massacre." Just ten days earlier, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after being charged with accepting bribes while governor of Maryland.

In the case of President Obama, the senior firings are not happening during a single nght but the recent involuntary sudden departures of the White House chief of staff and national security adviser, along with what WMR can confirm from multiple sources is a president who is suffering from Nixonian levels of paranoia, depression, and schizophrenia, has some top-level administration officials considering the first-ever invocation of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment -- the involuntary removal of the president from office. The White House meltdown has the Washington political circuit buzzing under the surface.

Unlike Watergate and the Iran-contra scandal, however, the corporate media is refusing to report on the breakdown of the Obama administration and the internecine political warfare within the Executive Office of the President.

The "Ulsterman" Diary

Like Watergate, the rumors about Obama's mental health, his lack of interest in the routine tasks of the presidency, and his mistaken belief that the crowds who see him on the campaign trail automatically adore him, are emanating from a "Deep Throat," a former White House staffer who is providing detailed information on the chaos and in-fighting in the White House to a blogger who goes by the name of "Ulsterman." Ulsterman has conducted a number of background interviews with the former Obama staffer over the past few weeks, publishing them in a series. WMR has independently confirmed with Washington insiders, some with high-level contacts in the White House, that most of the information in the interviews is correct.

The latest leak from the former White House official has Obama offering Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the vice presidential position in 2012. However, Clinton has no intention of taking the job and may well quit as Secretary of State after the mid-term election, especially if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates leaves earlier than his announced departure of next year and the Democrats suffer a big defeat at the polls on Nov. 2. It is known that Gates does not like the new National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and was not happy that National Security Adviser James Jones was fired earlier than his own planned departure date.

The other Ulsterman interviews are as follows:

White House Insider On Obama: The President Is Losing It Sep. 7

White House Insider Part 2: The President needs to grow up. Sep. 15

White House Insider: What The Hell Have We Done? Sep. 18

White House Insider: The Clintons Are Going For It. Sep. 21

White House Insider: Pelosi and Obama at War Oct. 7

Another similarity to the Watergate crisis is the usual "pre-crisis presence" of Washington Post influence peddler and original "Deep Throat" conjurer Bob Woodward. Woodward's new book, Obama's Wars, quoted Jones as calling Obama's advisers "water bugs," an utterance that resulted in Jones's early firing by Obama.

Rahm Emanuel's firing came after he and Mrs. Obama had a major argument, and the First Lady told Emanuel he had to go "for a reason." Mrs. Obama reportedly flatly told Emanuel he was "no longer welcome at the White House." The "Emanuel-running-for-Chicago-mayor" story was mere window dressing to cover up the meltdown in the White House leadership. The top-level White House resignations, just before a critical mid-term election, are unprecedented even by Watergate standards. The October 1973 White House instability was one year before the 1974 mid-terms, an election that still saw the Republicans suffer tremendous losses in the Congress.

As with "Deep Throat" and other past White House leakers, there is as much speculation on who has been speaking to Ulsterman as there is on the earth-shattering revelations coming out of his or her interviews. The leaker's information indicates that he or she was relatively high-ranking with access to the inner workings of the Oval Office. The following have all left the White House, some abruptly:

  • Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff. Resigned effective October 1, 2010.
  • Retired General James Jones, National Security Adviser. Resignation announced on October 8, 2010.
  • Ellen Moran, Communications Director, left in April 2009, however, the leaks indicate the Obama "Deep Throat" had more recent access to the Oval Office. Moran is now chief of Staff to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
  • Van Jones, special adviser for "Green Jobs." Left in September 2009, again, too early to have been privy to later inside information.
  • Mark Lippert, deputy national security adviser. Left in October 2009 and went from reserve to active status in the US Navy. Lippert was a "pick-up basketball" partner of Obama during the campaign.
  • David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General. Resigned in February 2010.
  • Greg Craig, White House Counsel. Craig was forced to announce his resignation in November 2009. Although November 2009 was also possibly too early for Craig to be the source, he is a consummate Washington insider who may continue to be privy to information from within the Oval Office and West Wing.
  • Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Resigned in June 2010. Like Craig, a strong possibility.
  • Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence. Resigned in May 2010. Would have had classified access to White House operations although he did not work in the White House.
  • Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Resigned in September 2010.
  • Larry Summers, Director of National Economic Council. Resignation not to take effect until after November 2 election.

There are also reports that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has been told to look for another job. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced his decision to leave but with James Jones's early dismissal, Gates may move up his departure from the Pentagon. David Axelrod plans to leave as early as March 2011 to work, as he has stated, on Obama's re-election campaign from Chicago.

Obama's depression and paranoia and Hillary's intentions

WMR has learned that Obama's paranoia and severe depression over his correct belief that certain interests are out to get him have been mitigated by First Lady Michelle Obama and domestic policy adviser Valerie Jarrett. Mrs. Obama has been telling Obama that he should forgo a second term because he is "too good for the American people" and he has a future role on a "bigger world stage."

It is also being reported from White House sources that Hillary Clinton plans to run against Obama in 2012, something WMR previously reported. The reports that Obama has offered Mrs. Clinton the vice presidential position in 2012 is both an attempt at defusing the reports that Clinton, backed by her husband Bill Clinton, are planning a primary challenge to Obama and an attempt to send a message to Biden, who is considered by Obama to be working with the forces arrayed against him.

On August 27, 2010, WMR reported on the Obama-Clinton intrigue: "Informed sources in Washington, DC have told WMR that President Obama has been personally told by a delegation of top Democratic Party financiers that unless he radically changes his economic policies they will bolt from him for another Democratic candidate in 2012. The Democratic money moguls conveyed the warning to Obama in Martha's Vineyard, where the president and his family are spending their vacation. There are various factions within the Democratic Party that see different scenarios to bail out what many Democrats see as an administration in deep trouble with the electorate. One would have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton move up to replace Vice President Joe Biden on the 2012 ticket with Senator John Kerry becoming Secretary of State. However, WMR has been told that Clinton personally loathes Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and may not want to be part of the 2012 president ticket playing second fiddle to Obama. WMR has also learned that Obama's reported 'severe narcissism' has a number of his cabinet officials and top Democratic fundraisers perplexed. Obama's refusal to change course because of his ego was discussed at the recent annual Bohemian Grove conclave in northern California, which brings together influential businessmen and politicians from both parties. Top U.S. business leaders openly complained about Obama's economic policies, with some stating that Obama is, for the business community, the worst president in anyone's lifetime. They also complained about White House gatekeepers like Emanuel and policy advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod who are preventing access to the Oval Office.

Although such complaints could be expected from Republican businessmen, we have learned that top Democratic businessmen at the Bohemian Grove have told Jarrett, Obama's chief liaison to them, that all she does is shake them down" for campaign contributions and that the uncertainty on the costs for Obama programs on health care and taxes has prevented the hiring of workers.

WMR has also learned that rather than change course, the White House staff, who are keenly reading anything that is critical of the president, are more interested in exacting revenge for criticism than in changing course. 'The White House staff are voracious readers who are obsessed with favorable coverage,' one source said.

The Obama administration's interest in a favorable public image over all other interests has a number of Democrats running for re-election privately miffed. One change many Democratic politicians and fundraisers would like to see is the replacement of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner with someone with more gravitas and a better handle on fixes for the plummeting economy."

On January 7, 2010, WMR reported: "WMR has also learned of a schism that has opened up between Obama's political team of Emanuel, Jarrett, David Axelrod, and White House pollsters and focus group specialists who meet at the White House every Wednesday and the national security team of National Security Adviser Jim Jones, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The national security team is convinced that the political team is only focused on the 2012 re-election campaign and not on pressing national security issues. Brawls have reportedly broken out between the two groups with Emanuel looking for ways to threaten Jones, Gates, and Clinton with retaliation if their criticisms of the political team continues."

Now that Jones is out, Gates is going -- maybe sooner than reported -- and Clinton is contemplating leaving and challenging Obama in 2012, the national security team under Biden's close friend Donilon is now in the hands of a veteran Democratic political team. But the political team has also taken major hits, with Emanuel gone, Axelrod leaving next year, and White House General Counsel Greg Craig having left last January. New Chief of Staff Rouse is a protege of former Senator Tom Daschle and is considered close to Biden's circle.

Donilon's wife, Cathy Russell, is Biden's chief of staff and his brother, Mike Donilon, a long-time Democratic campaign consultant who advised Bill Clinton in his 1992 presidential campaign, is counselor to the vice president.

John O. Brennan, Obama's deputy national security adviser for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism, is also under pressure to resign. Brennan, after retiring as interim chief of the National Counter-terrorism Center at the CIA in 2005, became CEO of The Analysis Corporation. Brennan's firm's employees were among those cited in rifling through Obama's State Department passport files in January 2008. It was never ascertained what information was gleaned from Obama's files and possibly those of his mother, grandfather, and grandmother. However, WMR has learned that Obama's past is curently of interest to individuals linked closely to the CIA.

Crisis management in the White House

The White House team now consists of Biden's circle of Donilon and Rouse, the Obama circle of Michelle Obama, Jarrett, and an increasingly weakened Axelrod, and those in the middle who are not sure about the future of the administration.

Mrs. Obama and, to a lesser extent, Jarrett, have tried to smooth things over between people like Vice President Biden and chief of staff Pete Rouse on one hand and President Obama, who is detached from his duties, and, according to the former White House staffer who is talking to Ulsterman, extremely lazy, only interested in watching ESPN and discussing sports, and playing golf, and doing what he is most comfortable at: campaigning. Obama clearly wants to run again for president, citing the "adoring crowds" who greet him on the political stump. Mrs. Obama has reportedly told the president that "there are no more adoring crowds."

Last March, the annual report on the president's health contaned a reference to drinking. Obama's doctor urged him to "Continue smoking cessation efforts, a daily exercise program, healthy diet, moderation in alcohol intake. . ." WMR has been told by informed sources that Obama's drinking has, on occasion, been more than moderate.

Previously, WMR reported that Michelle has told the president that he can make more money after one term as president than Bill Clinton has made after two terms. Privately, the First Lady has made no secret of her dislike of her role as First Lady and the constraints it has put on her own ability to make money. In a book about French First Lady Carla Bruni, "Carla and the Ambitious," Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy reportedly said that Mrs. Obama told her that life in the White House is "hell." The White House staffer told "Ulsterman" that he was uncomfortable talking about the marital situation between the president and the First Lady, but WMR has previously reported on Obama's bi-sexuality, his activities with gay members of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ and an uptown Chicago bath house, in addition to his current controversial relationship with his personal trainer, Reggie Love, and a past short relationship with Larry Sinclair.

Obama's depression and lack of interest in his duties have senior administration officials and some Cabinet secretaries considering the invocation of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which deals with the involuntary removal of the president for physical or mental incapacity.

The first invocation of the Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is on the table

Section 4 has never been invoked. However, on two occasions it was almost invoked on President Reagan, after the March 30, 1981, assassination attempt against Reagan and in 1987 when Howard Baker took over as White House chief of staff from the fired Donald Regan. PBS reported that Baker's team was shocked over what they heard from Regan's staff: that "Reagan was 'inattentive, inept,' and 'lazy,' and Baker should be prepared to invoke the 25th Amendment to relieve him of his duties."

When asked by the Associated Press in March 1983 about White House plans to invoke Section 4 after his shooting in March 1981, President Reagan responded, "No one has ever mentioned such a thing to me." White House Chief of Dtaff James Baker III countered Reagan's statement by contending that Reagan must have forgot.

During the Bill Clinton impeachment episode, there was talk in the White House of creating the position of a White House psychiatrist who would be empowered to ascertain the mental fitness of the president to serve. Clinton's self-destructive sexual activities were cited as one reason for such a position. Lyndon Johnson's war-time depression and Richard Nixon's paranoia were also given as reasons for an "independent psychiatrist" on the White House staff. The issue returned during President George W. Bush's term of office with reports of alcoholism and depression.

1972 Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Thomas Eagleton (D-MO) was stepped down from the ticket after revelations that he had been treated for mental depression. Presidential candidate George McGovern was forced to replace Eagleton with Sargent Shriver.

A March 14, 1999, New York Times report addressed the issue of presidential psychological problems and quoted former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford as being against the idea of a White House shrink. Carter was opposed to a mandatory annual psychiatric evaluation as part of the annual physical examination of the president. He told the Times, "No -- You don't have a mandatory requirement in the law to check a President for athlete's foot," but he added, "I believe that mental illness should be considered with the same import as physical illness." Ford also opposed the idea of a presidential psychatrist, saying, "I don't see the need for someone in that discipline being assigned specifically to the White House medical office . . . I think I was normal. I think I am still normal. If I had any problem along that line develop, the White House can acquire the best almost instantaneously." Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) also voiced opposition, saying, "The signal to the world that the American President, the leader of the free world, is having to get advice as to his mental condition might destabilize a lot of things, including stock markets and negotiations."

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Carter national security adviser, not rejecting outright the idea of a presidential psychiatrist, said, "The psychiatrist would also probably have to sign a document obligating him to raise an alarm if he detected serious problems that could affect the President's ability to govern."

The present talk about invoking Section 4 has made Obama even more paranoid about his enemies, who he feels range from Biden and the Clintons to the banks and Wall Street.

Section 4 would allow Vice President Biden, along with a majority of either 'the principal officers of the executive departments," the Cabinet or "such other body as Congress may by law provide," to declare the President disabled by submitting a written declaration to the president of the Senate pro tem Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, Vice President Biden would become Acting President.

Section 4 is designed to be invoked if the president's incapacitation prevents him from discharging the duties of his office. A written declaration to that effect must be presented to Congress. The president may resume exercising the Presidential duties by sending a written declaration to the president of the Senate pro tem and the speaker of the House.

However, should the Vvce president and Cabinet remain unsatisfied with the president's condition, within four days of the president's declaration that he is fit, may submit another declaration that the president is incapacitated. The Congress must then assemble within 48 hours, if not already in session. Within 21 days of assembling or of receiving the second declaration by the Vice President and the Cabinet, a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress is required to affirm the President as unfit. Upon this finding by the Congress, Section 4 states that the vice president would continue to function as the "Acting President." If the Republicans win one or both houses of Congress on November 2, a lame duck Democratic-led Senate and House might have to deal with the invocation of Section 3, something that could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.

If Biden were to become president, he would have to nominate a vice president subject to a majority approval of the Senate and House of Representatives. Again, a lame duck Congress may find itself thrust into approving a vice presidential successor and Biden would likly want such a decision to fall to Democratic-led chambers rather than one or both being controlled by the Republicans. In such an event, Secretary of State Clinton, the senior Cabinet member, may find herself as the favorite. Current talk in the corporate media about Clinton being offered the vice presidential slot by Obama in 2012, and her rejection of such a scenario, may be part of a campaign to prepare the American people for a vice presidency, not under Obama, but under Biden.

Enter the CIA

In another eerie replay of the Watergate crisis, WMR has learned that the CIA has not sat by idly as the Obama White House has unraveled. WMR has previously reported on Obama's and his family's past links to the CIA. However, Langley appears ready to take advantage of the weakening position of Obama to bring about added uncertainty.

WMR has learned from a reliable intelligence source that the CIA has secretly contracted with a retired top CIA official who was a principal actor in the Iran-contra scandal, to uncover any information that could be damaging to Obama from his past. On the table are any documents and information on Obama's place of birth, his paternal parentage, and his past employment activities. By contracting outside the CIA's normal channels, the agency is seeking "plausible deniability" should documents or information damaging to Obama be uncovered and subsequently leaked to the media.

The retired CIA official has recently been active with a carve-out special Pentagon intelligence-gathering contract approved by his one-time boss at the CIA, then-CIA deputy director Robert Gates, now the defense secretary, and CIA Director Leon Panetta, President Clinton's White House chief of staff. There is at least $15 million of Pentagon funds unaccounted for in the CIA's off-the-books intelligence-gathering operation, reported to have officially been for counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The contractor firm has been involved in domestic and foreign intelligence operations for the CIA and FBI for at least 20 years, including monitoring labor strikes, investigating at least one U.S. Supreme Court nominee, and its linkage to the FBI corruption case involving Boston criminal syndicate boss James "'Whitey" Bulger.

The scenario of invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is a worst-case scenario but the mere fact that it is "on the table" provides an indication of the current dysfunctional situation in the White House. Democratic Party leaders are scrambling in anticipation of major losses on Nov. 2 in the Congress and state houses. President Obama may soon fund himself at the receiving end of senior Democratic Party elders who will bear a "shock therapy" message: "shape up or ship out."

Israeli high-tech, spies, and commandos merge in Cambridge firm

The arrest by the FBI of Elliot Doxer, a financial employee of the Cambridge-based Akamai Technologies, Inc. for trying to sell company secrets to officials of the Israeli Consulate in Boston has once again raised the profile of the firm that was also at the center of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

After first approaching the Israeli Consulate, Doxer made 62 "dead drops" with an undercover FBI agent who Doxer believed was an Israeli intelligence agent. The dead drops occurred between September 2007 and March 2009.

As is usually the case with Israeli espionage cases, the Justice Department documents filed in the case merely refer to Israel as "Country X." The Justice Department reportedly said "Country X," cooperated in the investigation of Doxer. However, the Justice Department does not indicate when "Country X's" cooperation began. The US Attorney's Office in Boston claims that Israeli consular officials cooperated with U.S. officials before accepting Doxer's offer, but it does not indicate when the cooperation actually began -- upon initital contact by Doxer or after a period of time subsequent to initial contact.

Doxer was only charged with a single count of wire fraud. The Justice Department is not alleging any wrongdoing by Israel.

According to court filings by the government, Doxer wrote an e-mail to the Israeli Consulate and stated: "I am a Jewish American who lives in Boston. I know you are always looking for information and I am offering the little I may have." Eventually, the information Doxer turned over to the FBI's undercover agent included a list of Akamai's clients, contracts with clients, a full list of Akamai employees, and details on access to the company's computer systems and physical spaces. Akamai provides Internet services.

The following is the US Attorney's press release on Doxer's arrest, with Israel not mentioned:



BOSTON, Mass. - An employee of a high technology company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts was arrested and charged today in federal court with secretly providing confidential business information over an 18-month period to a person he believed to be an agent of a foreign government.

ELLIOT DOXER, 42, of Brookline, Massachusetts, was charged in a Complaint with one count of wire fraud. Doxer worked in the finance department of Cambridge-based Akamai Technologies, Inc., a provider of Internet content delivery services. The Complaint alleges that on June 22, 2006, Doxer sent an email to a foreign country’s consulate in Boston stating that he was willing to provide any information he had access to, that might help the foreign country. It is alleged that in later communications, Doxer said his chief desire “was to help our homeland and our war against our enemies.” He also allegedly asked for $3,000 in light of the risks he was taking. The foreign government cooperated with the United States in the investigation.

The Complaint alleges that in September 2007, a U.S. federal agent posing undercover as an agent of the foreign country spoke to Doxer and established a “dead drop” where the agent and Doxer could exchange written communications. The Complaint further alleges that from September 2007 through March 2009, Doxer visited the “dead drop” at least 62 times to leave confidential business information, retrieve communications, or check for new communications.

The Complaint alleges that among the confidential business items Doxer provided the undercover agent were an extensive list of Akamai’s customers; some contracts between Akamai and various customers revealing contact, services, pricing, and termination date information; and a comprehensive list of Akamai’s employees that revealed their positions and full contact information. According to the Complaint, Doxer also broadly described Akamai’s physical and computer security systems and stated that he could travel to the foreign country and could support special and sensitive operations in his local area if needed.

The Complaint does not allege that any representative of any foreign government sought or obtained sensitive information in this case, nor does the Complaint charge any foreign government representative with wrongdoing.

If convicted, Doxer faces a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, a three-year term of supervised release, a $250,000 fine or twice the gain or loss, whichever is highest, and restitution to the victim.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Office and Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service made the announcement today. The case is being investigated by members of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Section and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Weinreb and Scott Garland respectively in Ortiz’s Antiterrorism and National Security Unit and Computer Crimes Unit. Akamai Technologies, Inc. cooperated fully in the investigation.

The details contained in the Complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case against Doxer makes little sense considering the fact that Akamai Technologies was co-founded by Daniel Lewin, a member if the Israeli "deep insertion" commando special unit, the Sayeret Matkal, also known as the General Command Reconnaissance Unit. The unit usually gathers intelligence deep within enemy territory. Lewin was a passenger on American Airline flight 11 and allegedly died when hijackers crashed the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Lewin was born in Denver but raised in Jerusalem. He also worked for IBM's research laboratory in Haifa and studies at Haifa Technion in Haifa, Israel and his official record includes four years of service with the Israeli Defense Force.

With Akamai's obvious connections to Israeli intelligence, why would Doxer believe the Israelis would pay him for information they could easily obtain directly from the firm?

The editor previously wrote about Lewin, Akamai, and American Airlines flight 11 in an expose of suspicious Israeli espionage activities before, during, and after the 9/11 attacks:

"Around 8:10 AM on September 11, 2001, American Airlines flight attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney, a 13-year veteran of the airline, used her cell phone to report to her supervisor at Logan Airport in Boston about the hijacking and murders occurring on her aircraft. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Memorandum written the same day stated that one of the hijackers assigned to seat 10B (reportedly Satam Al Suqami) shot and killed the passenger assigned to seat 9B. The passenger shot was reported to have been Daniel C. Lewin, an Israeli-American agent with the top secret Israeli anti-terrorist Unit 269 of the counter-terrorism Sayeret Matkal branch of the Israeli Defense Force.

Lewin also served as the chief technology officer of Akamai Technologies, Inc., a software company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The 911 Commission Report stated that Lewin was stabbed and not shot by Suqami. While Lewin and Israel were praised in the report no mention was made of Sweeney’s last words to her superiors.

The FAA Memo, which was later reported by the FAA to be alternately erroneous and a first draft, was eventually scrubbed from the FAA’s internal e-mail system. The original FAA memo stated:


September 11, 2001

On September 11, 2001, several commercial air carrier incidents, believed to be terrorist-related, occurred in various locations in the United States. As numerous U.S. passenger air carriers were involved, this has impacted many passengers as well as numerous persons on the ground in these various crash sites. The following is a summary of the events, which have occurred:

American Airlines Flight 11, departed today from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), bound for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The aircraft type was a Boeing 767-200 with eighty-one passengers, nine flight attendants and two crew in the cockpit, which totaled 92 persons on this flight. At approximately 9:18 AM, it was reported that the two crew members in the cockpit were stabbed. The flight then descended with no communication from the flight crew members. The American Airlines FAA Principle Security Inspector (PSI) was notified by Suzanne Clark of American Airlines Corporate Headquarters, that an on board flight attendant contacted American Airlines Operations Center and informed that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B at 9:20 AM.[60] The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin, shot by passenger Satam Al Suqami. One bullet was reported to have been fired. The flight headed in the direction of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). At 9:25 AM, this flight crashed directly into one of the towers at the World Trade Center. At 11:26 AM, a passenger manifest was obtained. The status of any selectees is as yet undetermined.

United Airlines Flight 93 departed this morning, from Newark International Airport (EWR) bound for San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The aircraft type is Boeing 757, confirmation pending. The flight consisted of thirty-eight passengers, two pilots and five crew members, which totaled 45 persons on this flight. Two selectee passengers (Christine Adams and Nicole Miller) were boarded on this flight with no unusual behavior noted per the air carrier personnel and screeners.[61] No cargo was on board this flight. One unit load device (ULD), was on board containing U.S. mail. At 9:42 AM, there was a report of a bomb threat on board this flight. Passengers’ screams were heard in the cabin. At 10:05 AM, the Illinois State Police received a 9-1-1 telephone call from a passenger on that flight, who reported that three hijackers were on board with knives and reportedly made a bomb threat. The three hijackers were reported to be rushing to the cockpit area. At 10:12 AM, the flight crashed near Sommerset, PA. This location is approximately 70-90 miles from Pittsburgh near Route 30.

United Airlines Flight 175, departed from Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), bound for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This aircraft type was a Boeing 767. There were no selectee passengers on this flight. The flight consisted of nine crew members and forty-seven passengers, which totaled fifty-six persons on this flight. At 9:30 AM, radar contact with FAA air traffic control was lost. At 9:45 AM, United Airlines reported that one flight attendant was stabbed and two crew members were killed. This flight crashed into the second World Trade Center Tower.

Page 2

American Airlines Flight 77, departed Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), destined for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This flight departed Gate D26 of the IAD mid-field terminal at 8:09 a.m., and was airborne at 8:21 AM. The aircraft type was a Boeing 757. Number of selectee passengers is unknown at this time; ramp personnel noticed two selectees checked bags on the ramp. One non-selectee passenger did not board due to confusion of gate location. This flight consisted of fifty-eight passengers and six flight crew members, which totaled sixty-four persons on this flight. There was no cargo being transported on this aircraft. There were a total of thirty-five checked bags. It is presumed that this flight crashed into the Pentagon located in Washington, DC at approximately 10:00 AM.

Additional information is continuously being gathered on each of the four incidents described above.

911/01 5:31 PM

[end quote]

Lewin founded Akamai while he was an MIT graduate student. He founded the firm in 1998 with MIT mathematics professor Frank Thomas Leighton. After 9/11, Akamai provided "free of charge" its web services to numerous government agencies that had problems handling spikes in Internet traffic. It is not known whether the information Doxer offered the Israelis included the list of government agencies receiving the post-9/11 free web services and what those services entailed. Nor has the FBI indicated whether e-mail, confidential or otherwise, sent to government agencies by witnesses to the events of 9/11 was retained by Akamai.

In 2006, retired Army Colonel Fran Trentley, the chief information officer for the White House Communications Agency and who supported Presidential travel missions, joined Akamai as Director of Operations and Delivery for the firm's public sector business services.

In 2006, Akamai established a Network Operations Command Center in Reston, Virginia that monitors global Internet traffic for U.S. government agencies. Akamai has contracts with Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services, the Transportation Security Administration, the Hawaii Federal Health Care Network, the website, and the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Hazards Program.