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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Lebanon: The case for American involvement in the Harari assassination

عربي Welcome to Hollywood East. A wealthy businessman gunned down. Why is there a case to be made that the Americans were behind the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri assassination?

[21Oct05: Analysis of the UN Report on the Assassination.]

لم يكن البحث ضمن الصفحات المكتوبة باللغة (أو اللغات) التي اخترتها مجدياً، إليك نتائج البحث العالمية عن

في عربي

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  • Mehlis Investigation Discredited

    Mehlis relied on discredited witness.

    Mehlis cites as his source for these officials’ names – the crux of his report’s allegations - a single anonymous Syrian living in Lebanon purportedly in contact with Syrian officers posted there.

    . . . UN sources cited by the respected German newsmagazine Der Spiegel on 22nd October identified Mehlis’ central source as Zuheir al-Siddiq, a criminal convicted of fraud and embezzlement, who had clearly lied in his testimony, contradicting himself several times.

    . . . [There's more at the article]

    [T] he background of the UN report’s author, Detlev Mehlis . . . raises disturbing questions about the integrity of the UN investigation, and indeed about the wider role and motives of the US and British governments.

    . . . [But it gets worse: Regieme Change in Syria ]

    According to Syria expert Joshua Landis, an assistant professor in Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University currently on a Fulbright Scholarship in Damascus, informed sources confirmed that “Steven Hadley, the director of the US National Security Council, called the President of the Italian senate to ask if he had a candidate to replace Bashar al-Asad as President of Syria.” Regime change, the end-goal of US policy in Syria, has been lent a new lease of life by the politics of the Hariri assassination.

  • Echelon

    Echelon is the worldwide electronic monitoring system that the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand use to share information. Echelon was the system that intercepted Russian fighter transmissions in re KAL 007.

    There is a problem in Lebanon. If Echelon truly was working, then there would be full intercepts of the preparations for the assassination.

    The answer is not that Echelon fails or doesn't exist. Conversely, the Americans need to explain why, despite 9-11 and the Senate Intelligence hearings, was there no warning given.

    Either the Americans, after identifying the weaknesses in re 9-11, have fixed Echelon and it is working; or there was no problem with Echelon prior to 9-11. Either way, there's no excuse why the Americans didn't know about what was going on.

    On the contrary, because there was no warning given in re the assassination, but the Echelon is fully capable of intercepting the preparation, we need to ask: Why would so much be available that isn't used; and, more troubling, why would the Americans want to blame Syria for something the Americans were in a position to do something about: Either stop, dissuade, or provide a warning.

    It remains unclear why Echelon has fallen down on the job. It is far more likely that Echelon picked up the preparations, but nothing was done. Why? It serves American interests to have a high profile Lebanese businessman gunned down.

    American Track Record

    Before we can credibly make an allegation that the US government was behind the assassination, it is useful to compare the events in Lebanon to 9-11. In both cases, the American government has some explaining to do.

    Track record of making allegations after the event not supported by evidence

    It is interesting that despite all that isn’t known the US pulled out the Ambassador. Strange, if they know so quickly the Syrians are behind it, surely they would’ve picked up some transmissions through Echelon.

    Why wasn’t the all-knowing Echelon used to deter the attack?

    Why would the US know enough to point the finger at Damascus only after the attack?

    Strange how the US wants to believe that it has learned and things are going better in the intelligence community. One would think that if the US was so outraged about the 9-11 attack that there would have been better coordination between US interests and Echelon prior to the assassination in Lebanon.

    Yet, are we to believe that despite the pre-Iraq-invasion bungling, hearings, and post 9-11-attack mea culpas, that US intelligence capabilities in the entire Middle East remain poor? Oh, where is Osama bin Ladin and why is that bounty now $50M USD?

    Track record of knowing things but doing nothing

    The US apparently knew enough to pull out their Ambassador, but not enough prior to the attack that something was going to happen. Surely, the US isn’t behind the attack, as they would’ve given notice to the Lebanese Prime Minister.

    Prior to 9-11, the US had 52 warnings through the FAA that there was a problem. Nothing got done to prevent 9-11.

    Track record of making up information

    Recall that Echelon was also used as the “proof” that the Iraqis had WMD. Small problem, those tapes that Powell presented to the UN prior to the invasion proved to be fabrications. In a similar vein, it’s possible the US could fabricate information linking someone to a convenient scapegoat.

    What is most telling are the explosives. There are certain residues in the explosives. It remains to be understood where this is traced. In the world of plausible deniability, if the US wanted to blame someone, they would make sure that the residue does not trace to anything in the United States.

    Quick to insinuate while ignoring information and evidence

    Again, notice that despite not knowing any facts about the origin of the explosives, the US has already withdrawn its Ambassador. How does the US know there is a link to Syria without looking at the origin of the explosives?

    Surely, the US isn’t in the mode of making allegations, all the while ignoring evidence as was done in re [a] the underbelly of the aircraft that collided with the world trade center; or [b] the strange explosions in front of the aircraft just prior to collision with both towers.

    Then again, why expect the US to do anything based on facts. Despite the flight training in Pensacola, the United States government still sends in FBI agents to keep the locals quiet about the 9-11 preparation on the NAVY base.

    Yet, JTTF can only send their goons into apartments so many times before the locals start taking photographs, writing down license plates, and comparing notes.

    To credibly be called a force that can enter without detection; you have to not be detected. They do so because they can’t get warrants and using intimidation violates the constitution, 42 USC 1983.

  • Looking for excuses

    The US has shown it will use any means to advance its agenda. It doesn’t necessary support democracy in Pakistan; and it doesn’t necessarily oppose drugs in Afghanistan; nor does it oppose the free flow of nuclear material if the US intervention might upset a more valuable ally on the whatever the US wants to use as the mantra this week-to justify what the US does.

    The US is short on combat troops. It remains to be seen which US ground forces are actually supporting the UAV’s flying over Iran. If the ground forces are still tied up in Iraq, then it seems more likely that the crews supporting the UAVs are actually Marine units supporting a Naval Carrier group.

    Rather than rely on ground forces to invade Iran, it’s more likely that the US will simply do what they did when Israel struck Iraq’s nuclear plants: A surgical air strike, most likely from the Gulf with Naval units off a carrier or out of Diego Garcia.

  • Removing roadblocks to American interests

    The US does have a nasty habit of removing people from power around the globe: Panama, Iran, Chile, and Vietnam.

    It remains to be understood which public relations firm remains on special contract to coordinate the “Death to Syria” chants at the funeral.

  • State competition

    The best way to demonstrate that the Syrians do not have control of Lebanon is for the US to sponsor an assassination. Forget the fact that the US cannot control Iraq; nor has clean hands in Afghanistan in re the drug lords.

    The US could very well hope to sew instability so the US could then arrive with the magic answer. Please, ignore the legacy in Iraq, Chile, and Somalia.

  • Business deals

    It remains to be seen what percentage of the deals in Lebanon US interests were excluded. Further investigation is required to determine what percent of the business deals US firms were excluded from; and whether there was anything to gain by removing a powerful businessman, leaving US firms better positioned to compete against Europe in rebuilding Lebanon.

    State of the US intelligence community

    It remains to be understood to what extent the US is behind the media effort to discredit Syria based on insinuation, and to what extent the American government thwarts independent reviews by Congress into NSA Echelon databases.

    They’ve had more than three year since 9-11 to get things right. If NSA is still bungling the job, then what may or may not happen in Damascus has little relevance to whether the US Government has a firm grasp on its intelligence assets.

    At worst, the US has always remained well in control of the intelligence community, even during pre-9-11. Consciously choosing to do nothing about the 52 warnings into FAA, and then retaining control so as to justify combining FBI and CIA despite the legacy of abuses which occurred in the 1970s. [Forget the fact that the communication problem was within the FAA and Rice was able to combine information from both the FBI and CIA at NSC’s DSP.]

    It remains unclear why despite worldwide coverage and “increased vigilance” after 9-11, Echelon didn’t pick up the preparations for the assassination; nor was there any warning or increased attention by the US Treasury for the Lebanese security forces for VIP protection.

    If we are to believe that Echelon is working [which works well enough to engage in domestic surveillance in the US against UN allies that speak out against the US], then are we to believe that things have really changed since 9-11?

    Surely, US policy makers don’t remain in the dark about compartmentalized units that selectively choose to elevate or not elevate using criteria not fully disclosed to Congressional leadership. It would do the Congress well to understand what failed in re Lebanon:

  • Modernization

    Why are we to believe that things have really changed in NSA and the intelligence community in re bottlenecks, if the information is there, but not acted upon; or, at worst, the information is not available at all?

  • Veracity

    Are we to believe that the representations policy makers give to Congress under oath are not supported by actual changes in practices?

  • Responsiveness

    Are there people within the Intelligence community that should know these things, but the system is breaking down; or did people actually know what was unfolding and fail to take any action to protect someone?

    If the US knows enough to withdraw the Ambassador it remains up to the Congress to know what other types of information the US collects but chooses not to act upon; or at worst, what information the US gleans and tells its analysts to go over again simply because there are other efforts in place to implement the plan which US analysts already know.


    There are too many holes in the story to suggest at this point the Syrians are behind the scheme. The US has far much more to gain.

    The US has an interest in pointing the finger at Syria. If it can paint the Syrian leadership as being behind the attack, the US could be hoping to isolate Syria and also exploit the public opinion in Lebanon. Things really haven’t changed since 9-11.

    What’s new: US is in Iraq, the US forces are stretched thin, and the US wants new excuses to topple more governments. It remains to be seen whether the US is behind the assassination. More broadly, it remains unclear how much further the US will stretch its military.

    It remains to be seen which media are threatened by JTTF not to look into the matters. If this assassination did occur despite NSA awareness, we can only wonder what other information they have that they continue to not pass on.

    Let’s hope Congress’s Joint Intelligence Committee looks into the matter: Why did NSA not pick up the preparations; where was Koza this time; were others like GCHQ’s Gunn in the know about the preparations; and did translators like Sibel Edmonds pick something up but were threatened-promoted if they kept silent?

    Don’t hold your breath. Congress has more important matters: New excuses to change the Constitution to get Arnold into the White House. The same producers. Just different lighting.

    Other links

    Deception with the Mehlis Commission Ref.

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