Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Anser Mehmood, Uzma Mehmood & the Mehmood Children, living in Pakistan

Here is the first letter I've decided to write.

Mr. and Mrs. Anser and Uzma Mehmood and the Mehmood Children living in Pakistan,

Forgive me for my delaying in responding, I have recently come across your letter dated 8.23.02 to PBS and thought you deserved a public response to your questions.

You asked:

Are there any same elements amongst American people reading this?

Does this not reflect the prevailing conditions in the USA?

I believe you deserve to know that many in America have read this quote, but your question asks an important question: Are any sane elements reading it and using it to guide their actions?

I believe that Attorney Fitzgerald may have read the quote, but I do not know for sure.

Your question springs from, I believe, how you were treated while in New Jersey. I cannot speak for those who treated you the way that you were treated.

I do know that Americans have been silent, as have I, when we should have spoken out.

Our leaders did threaten many with jail time if we spoke out. But this is no excuse, given what has happened to you.

Given what has happened since 2002, and the unfolding litigation against the Vice President's chief of staff, it appears as though the tide has turned.

There are now forces at work to find out exactly what happened not only in the United States, but also at the hands of military personnel and CIA officers around the globe, not just in Iraq or Pakistan.

I am sorry that it has taken me this long to respond, and I am still unsure what to say or do.

All I can offer you is what I originally wrote in late 2001: The words about being wary of what leaders can do. We are looking for ways to strengthen our constitution and ensure this does not happen again.

But those are hollow promises.

In my view, America ignored the lessons of the Nazis in Germany, and willingly went along with the charades. We did let this happen again.

Yet, people like Ambassador Wilson, Valerie Plame, Scott Ritter, LtCol Schaeffer, Barbra Steisand and others spoke out despite the threats.

Unfortunately, talking alone does not put tyranny where it belongs: Accountable to the rule of law, in jail, and sanctioned.

We've seen the outrage over the photos and torture in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Afghanistan. It will be a matter for the courts to adjudicate what is to happen.

I share your frustration that it appears as though many people appear to have thrown up their hands and let "whatever happen" happen. It doesn't give one much inspiration in America.

Also, despite the world speaking out, the US remains somewhat reluctant to put itself under the rule of law. In my view, rather than taking a break after the non-sense in Iraq, the US is doing the same in Syria: Making up non-sense to justify lawless pressure. It is striking, given you live in Pakistan, that nobody would presume that the Pakistanis would cause harm in India, but this same presumption is not given to Syria in re Lebanon.

I agree with the sentiments of your letter than the Caesar quote would describe what George Bush has done after 9-11. And the nation allowed him to do so.

How do I know? Because I wrote the quote you are referring to.

So, to restate your questions and respond to them:

Are there any same elements amongst American people reading this?

Sane people recognized the quote as a commentary on 2001-era America. The problem was that the decision makers and "leaders" put themselves above the law, lied about what was going on in Iraq, and then made up things.

In turn, the Congress, relying on those lies, granted the President the authority to engage in combat operations.

In short, it was the very problem in the quote which precipitated the problems: The citizenry, fearful of some nebulous risk, refused to assert its rights against tyranny; and went along with unlawful action in Iraq.

But this excuse doesn't do anything to address your concerns or how you were treated. I am sorry that I didn't do anything until now. Perhaps if you or others have thoughts on "what might be done" I'd be willing to listen.

Does this not reflect the prevailing conditions in the USA?

As of 2005, I would answer your question: "Yes, the quote still reflects what is going on, although things are starting to improve."

The greatest consolation has been that the US citizenry has been given access to the Downing Street Memo, and the Fitzgerald indictment against Mr. Libby, the Vice President's Chief of Staff, appears to be holding some to account.

However, there is a far larger problem, which I must confess has been rather baffling. Despite the change in public perception of the events in Iraq, the US Department of Defense continues to create excuses to not look into issues.

We continue to have threats against military personnel for speaking out about what has happened.

DoD also has a larger problem: Why did it's military officers, despite the laws of war, not refuse to obey what appear to be unlawful orders?

I have no answer, but suspect that the same pressure put on Valerie Plame was put on other officers. This needs to be correct.

We also have another problem: That of local law enforcement that willingly going along with this non-sense, and they too, not asserting the rule of law over tyrants.

But, the problem is more fundamental, because the Congress passed laws permitting this abuse to occur without swift sanctions. Here we are in 2005 still "not sure" what happened in Abu Ghraib, and still having not accountability for the abuse committed on people like you.

It is unfortunate that despite the lessons of WWII and the Holocaust, the American Department of Defense wasn't willing to stand up to unlawful orders and refuse to go along with what, I argue, are unlawful orders. In turn, despite the SS in Germany under Hitler, the world, as many Americans do, can only sit with stunning disbelief as the local law enforcement justified intrusions, intimidation, and threats against those who dared to use their mind.

What is most absurd is that at a time when this nation's leadership claimed "they want to know if the public finds problems," the same leadership actively rebuffed information about their own violations of the law, and were quick to threaten those like Ambassador Wilson for daring to interject sanity.

Just as you were held on the basis of suspicion, so too is the Syrian government being held to standards of intrusion based on suspicion. It is ironic that despite the lesson of Iraq, the US continues to be able to wave a magic wand and get the world to impose sanctions on the basis of accusations, not evidence. If only American leaders were as willing to subject themselves to the same levels of intrusion that they might wish to impose on Syria.

You were treated harshly for something that is regularly selectively enforced. The arrogant law enforcement in America are all too happy to rebuff information, and make up stories to justify "whatever they want to do," and they will lie to avoid the consequences for misconduct.

It is unfortunate that you have lost much for something we might consider a rather technical violation that could have easily have been resolved in another way.

I am not one to condone violations of the law; at the same time I am frustrated that this Congress has passed absurd laws which do more to inspire contempt and hatred of America than anything else. We do not inspire confidence in the rule of law when we ignore those laws abroad, and pass laws to undermine our liberties at home.

What is most absurd about your situation is that members of Congress are now being indicted for committing far greater crimes: Money laundering and insider stock trading. And the indictments have reached the Vice President's office. Hopefully, the accountability will not end.

It is unfortunate that the Congress wasn't willing to first subject its own members to the same intrusions and abuses you were subjected before permitting these measures to be imposed on you and others.

I am comforted that not all is lost. In light of the tragic events in Pakistan, it is comforting to know that India and Pakistan appear to have put down their differences to focus on larger issues. This is a great lesson.

I would hope that the United States recognize there will be similar opportunities in the future and would hope that there is something America can do to make Amends to you and others in your position who have been abused.

That will take time. Right now, America is somewhat lost for leadership. Despite the clear laws, we have a sense of "Not being all that clear what to do next." Our President appears to be rather confused, quite a change from the days of 2001 when it was very clear which drums he was beating.

Please know that there are people who have read your letter, share your sentiments, and are working to ensure that Attorney Fitzgerald is given the support he needs to make things right.

But it will take time, and we hope that those of you have been harmed might offer some encouragement to those who are attempting to resolve these matters.

I do not speak for the United States, and my comments should not be considered official US policy. However, know that there are people who do recognize your sentiments, and are doing what they can to turn things around.

Unfortunately, it takes time. Sadly, until things are remedied, there will be others who will be abused as you were. It is not right.

I wish I had a magic wand, or could simply write a comment in a blog and make it all stop. I wrote a comment a few years ago, and the world did change.

Perhaps with perseverance things can be fixed and put right.

Your sentiments are well stated, and I am sorry that there was not something that I could have done or said in a more timely matter. I am glad that you and your family are together safe in Pakistan, and wish you well and peace.

Rest assured that I will look for your name and read your letter from time to time as a reminder of what you said and what happened. I will not forget your remarks or comments.

With thoughts of you and your family,


Read more . . .

Iraq Torture: Army officers accuse Rummy of lying

DoD has a problem: More officers are coming forward calling Rumsfeld a liar.

Will Congress look into the allegations, or look for another excuse to keep its head in the sand?

* * *

If Able Danger is any guide, Congress will speak out. To make that happen, you need to let your friends know: The officers in your military are getting muzzled and threatened to be quiet about war crimes.

What Libby was doing is widespread within DoD. Many do not want to be held accountable for what they did. And they're smearing others, like Valerie Plame, LtCol Schaeffer, Sibel Edmonds, and Capt. Fishback to avoid the consequences for violations of the law.

* * *

Army Capt. Ian Fishback learned ethics at West Point: There are laws of war, and military officers who obey unlawful orders can be court martialed.

Fishback and other Army officers contend the civilian leadership has been lying to Congress: The abuse in Iraq was systematic, and was directed from the senior levels.

These anecdotes are consistent with the documents from Guantanamo: That the JCS was fully aware of the problems, and that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Army CID were both present during the abuse.

Normally, when there's an allegation of mistreatment, NCIS and CID have their internal command inspectors enter the arena, conduct a report. But this report doesn't disappear. It's sent directly to the JCS, the Joint Staff. They work directly for the Secretary of Defense.

* * *

Which leads us to Fishback's allegations.

DoD, as they have done with LtCol Schaeffer in re Able Danger hope to paint Fishback as a lone malcontent.

There's one small problem. There are numerous photos and other reports confirming what the many officers are saying.

LtCol Schaeffer realized that he had to get an attorney; but DoD efforts to discredit him failed when others came forward.

* * *

America lost its way after 9-11. And the laws of war got thrown out the window.

It's a good thing Harriet Miers nomination got withdrawn. No sense in having more of the "green light for torture" infecting the Supreme Court.

What's going to happen with the laws of war, torture, and American military personnel?

Hopefully, Fitzgerald will get Cheney to spring a leak or two. Then again, why stop there. Why not call in the entire JCS and have them explain to the court why the documents from Abu Ghraib said one thing, but the President said something else to the Congress.

It looks like there are many war criminals in DC. Those who obeyed those unlawful orders aren't innocent.

* * *

Millions of Germans wanted the world to believe "they didn't know." In 2005, this excuse isn't going to work.

Especially when Fitzgerald has Cheney's notations on the documents from both Libby and Rumsfeld. If that's not enough, there's the small matter with GCHQ.

NSA, you're still not off the hook. Many of you know exactly what's going on, and continue to follow unlawful orders.

* * *

Look to Fishback's example. Your strength is in numbers.

The American public, when it finds out, will have no mercy.

We have 280 million, and a long memory.

Choose wisely.

Others already have.

* * *

If you're not willing to follow the laws of war, then shut down the service academies, stop wasting money teaching people things you will not enforce, and don't cry when the enemy violates the laws of war we ignore.

There's no sense inviting people to volunteer to learn things, only to discredit their good names for doing exactly what you've taught them to do: Follow the law.

* * *

Other links

Coverup of war crimes.

Where were the military commanders when this was happening?

Newsweek article listed above incorrectly reports that the guidance was vague. The laws of war and SECDef Guidance are clear. More of the selective research and memory problem.

Don't forget the floating torture ships.

More evidence of a military training, disciple problem.

Will the CIA be given the power to torture American civilians stateside?

American Psychiatric Association wants to ethically work with torture. British Medical Association calls this absurd.

With the problems listed above, where is the DoD IG and can we really have confidence the troops can have their concerns reviewed without getting smeared like Valerie Plame [Vice President Cheney's Libby was indicted] or LtCol Schaefer [Able Danger]?

Getting no response from West Point on his ethical questions, Fishback had to go to Human Rights Watch to get some assistance and advice on what to do. That's the same as a command and control problem, on top of the "playing stupid about Rummy's SECDEF guidance" which is clearly promulgated.

Read more . . .

Syria: US credibility problems before the UN

It's interesting to contrast the different approaches the international community takes to how countries may or may not be involved in the domestic affairs of their neighbors.

One standard is applied for US allies; a different standard applies when the US has a predetermined agenda. This is not different than what we saw in Iraq and the argument about WMD.

* * *

It is curious to contrast the arguments surrounding Pakistan and Syria.

Both have been accused of being behind internal instability in their neighbors.

Pakistan "would never" be involved with it's neighbor's affairs; while Syria is not afforded that same presumption of non involvement.

However, we are asked to believe that it is "beyond reasonable discourse" to think about Pakistani involvement in the Indian explosions; while at the same time, we are told that "it is reasonable" to assume Syrian involvement in the Lebanese Primer minister assassination.

Pakistan is given a free pass; while Syria is presumed guilty without evidence.

Why the double standard?

* * *

One of the arguments against Pakistan's involvement in the Indian explosions is that it would be "not in the interests of Pakistan to do so. There are more important issues. Pakistan would never do anything to jeopardize support and goodwill."

Curiously this "they would never do that"-argument is not given the same weight when discussing the allegations of Syrian involvement in the Hairari assassination.

* * *

If we are to believe that "Pakistan wouldn't do this" then why can we not also be open to the same argument about the Syrians?

On the contrary, "despite all hat we don't know," the US asserts the Syrians must be held to account.

Yet, where are the same claims about "the Pakistanis being held to account" for what happened in India?

The answer is that, like Syria, Pakistan has no vested interest in instability in a neighboring country.

* * *

It is of concern when the US asks the world to take speedy action. We've seen the US doctor information about Iraq.

The goal of the US is to shut off the debate, and get action.

* * *

We need to understand why the arguments "against Pakistani involvement in India" are not also applicable to the arguments "against Syrian involvement in the Lebanese prime minister assassination."

* * *

Either one nation does or does not have an interest in regional stability;

Either one nation is involved in a neighbor's domestic affairs, or they are not;

Either one nation is involved in the violence in another region, or they are not.

* * *

There are two standards: One for Pakistan in re Indian explosions; and a second standard for Syria in re the Lebanese prime minister assassination.

* * *

The word needs to understand why there are two standards in the Pakistani and Syrian situations.

* * *

The world needs to understand why the US, as it did in Iraq, is pressing for a timeline without evidence.

What does the US want the world to agree to without considering the evidence?

Why is Pakistan assumed to "have no role in the Indian explosions," but the Syrians are assumed to have the opposite.

* * *

It is curious to contrast the Syrian relationship with Lebanon; and the Pakistani relationship with India.

When it is in the US interests to provide assistance to an ally like Pakistan, the world doesn't want to consider the potential of Pakistani involvement in Indian internal affairs.

But when it serves the US interests to do the opposite with Syria, despite no evidence, many are willing to hold Syria to account for something the US or Martians cold have easily have been involved with.

* * *

Why is it "out of the question" for Pakistan to be involved in the Indian explosion; but it is "within the bounds of acceptable debate" to conclude the opposite when looking at whether Syria was or was not involved in the assassination in Lebanon?

Two standards. Two levels of evidence.

one argument cannot be discussed; while the second argument, never debated, is asserted as evidence of a conclusion.

Both arguments are flawed. One asks that we not consider the potential; the second demands us to assume a conclusion without evidence.

That is not prudent, nor is it consistent, nor is it a compelling legal argument.

* * *

Why are we commanded to ignore one potential risk or augment; but in a second situation commanded that the unproven argument is proof of something that has been simply asserted?

Two standards, two agendas.

The same United States.

No surprise.

* * *

UN imposes requirement on Syria to cooperate, but doesn't dare demand the US to cooperate with its own prosecutor, 9-11 investigation, or the Able Danger review.

Can't have the same standard imposed on tyrants, can we?

Read more . . .

Cheney's trial problems

There's been some rumblings that Fitzgerald and others in DoJ want Cheney to testify in open Court. Cheney's legal team counters that there's privilege.

Small problem, this is an excuse and the Congress should take note.

If there was privilege, it should have been asserted from the outset, not when the Vice President realizes that he may be the subject of the inquiry.

Cheney has already provided information to Fitzgerald's initial questions. There is no reason that the Vice President cannot, as have others, provide testimony in open court.

President Reagan, despite being President, did later testify in open court in 1992 about the Iran-Contra affair.

It remains to be seen why the formerly cooperative Vice President suddenly finds the need to remain silent.

If he's got nothing to hide, then let's hear what he has to say.

If he wants to assert the 5th Amendment, he's free to do so; but it would be prudent for the Congress to ask why the Vice President made many trips to the CIA, but now "doesn't want to testify in open court for fear of self-incrimination."

Time to check with the files in GCHQ and Number 10. Perhaps Mr Cheney can be given a history lesson on the rule of law.

* * *

The larger problem Cheney has is that, now that the Grand Jury is "over" for purposes of going after Libby, there are now two tracks for the Downing Street-Iraq investigation.

One is the continuing grand jury review into the Vice President; the second is the open trial.

Think of this as a double punch. One is open and obvious; the second is uncertain.

Cheney's team has to deal with both: One they can see, the second they have no clue about.

This is why the Vice President is going to lose. He's going to make more mistakes.

And Fitzgerald has already caught him. The question will be whether Cheney comes clean now, or digs himself deeper.

My bet is Cheney will do what Libby did and bluff.

He's going to lose: The documents already exist outside his control, and no matter what he does, he's already caught.

Vice President Cheney, you have two options: You can either testify, or you can make things more difficult for yourself.

Either way, you're in trouble. And there's nothing you can do.

* * *

UN willing to impose requirement on Syrian President to produce any document, why can't the US impose this requirement on its own leaderhip?

Oh, that's right: "The double standards-argument" which the arrogant Americans like to drool about.

* * *

The Roman Empire, whatever happened to that?

Oh, that's right: The world woke up and decided to try something else. "Civilized" living and that sort.

Not good enough for Americans?

Read more . . .

Friday, October 28, 2005

Iran Puzzle: Applying the lessons of the WH ruse over Iraq WMD

There's talk about what to do after Iraq.

There's an interesting disconnect in the arguments about Iran

Despite protesting US accusations about Iran developing a nuclear weapon, Iran's president couldn't have spoken out at a worse time.

The issue isn't that the statement was issued, but that the timing couldn't have been worse. At the very time that the US hopes to build off the momentum in Iraq and Syria, the last thing the Iranians needed to do was to increase concerns over their nuclear program.

The Iranians have denied developing nuclear weapons.

* * *

There are two issues. First, is the statement linked with an imminent threat of nuclear weapons.

Second, and for the debate team to review, how do the recent Iranian president statements squqre with other Iranian leadership's comments about Isreal.

* * *

The lesson of Iraq's WMD issue, in light of Libby's indictment and finding no WMD, is that the White House will spin things to justify taking forceful action.

* * *

With respect to Iran, we need to apply the lessons of Iraq: Just because someone talks about doing something, it doesn't mean that they are actually developing, nor do they have, an imminent capability to act on that threat.

Iranian leaders have already discussed using nuclear weapons against Israel. THe question in 2005, is do we take their 2001 statements, with the 2005 staements in a different light.

* * *

Our concern is that although it is dangerous to infer the Iranians have nuclear weapons, its important to know their intention relative to actual capabilites.

The WH may spin, but taking about wiping Isreal off the map is different than actually having nuclear weapons or a program to do so.

Read more . . .

Thoughts in wake of Fitzgerald Statement on Libby Indictment

Given the many blogspots in this blog in re Fitzgerald, it would be useful to share some thoughts on what we actually know.

* * *

Later, it will be interesting to compare the preliminary guesses with

  • A. what we finally find out in re impeachment or subsequent Congressional investigations, if any, in the to decision to go to war against Iraq; and

  • B. what lessons, if any, we might glean to improve the system of checks and balances prior to declaring war;

  • C. what original questions raised can be answered, or lead to additional issues;

  • D. how the indictments and subsequent please then bounce back to allegations of attorney misconduct before the Grand Jury; and

  • E. how the original forecasts squre with what both Fitgerald/Grand Jury and House Judiciary Committee subsequently find; then assess reasons for the disconnects, and apply those lessons to other situations.

  • F. how the lessons learned from this situation will be applied to other situations where the media is making statements about US government assessments, as they are doing in Syria and Iran.

    * * *

    Focus of investigation

    Fitzgerald said that, unlike what some might believe, the prosecutor doesn’t hope to start with an alleged crime and then find facts to support or reject that conclusion. Rather, they take the opposite approach of understanding the facts, and then finding out what happened.

    However, it appears the prosecutor’s approach is at odds with how the intelligence community and the investigators approach issues. Often times they’ll couch the incoming information in terms of a specific allegation; and then reject or accept the information not on the basis of whether it is a fact, but whether it is linked with a specific crime.

    Rather than take the prosecutor’s approach of letting the facts lead where they may, it appears some agents require that the incoming information be linked to a specific allegation.

    However, this puts the incoming witness in the position of acting as an adjudicator, when they may not have all the information.

    Please ask the training officials to emphasize this disconnect; and ask to what extent through DoJ OPR and DoJ IG the extent to which agents are directing witnesses and informants to couch information in terms of a specific allegation.

    It is disturbing to find out that the public is required to know the statutes better than the agents who receive the information; and that there are significant hurdles to get information into the databases or before the prosecutor. Whether that information once it is in the database is retrievable is clearly another matter.

    * * *

    Impact on intelligence

    Indeed, realizing that the Vice President’s chief of staff was involved in the leaking of a name to unauthorized personnel is troubling. Some have speculated what impact that this would have on those in the intelligence community.

    How does this affect people who may wonder whether they want to put their lives on the line?

    Bluntly, why should someone bother to put their life on the line when the risk of exposure isn’t from the enemy, but from one’s own government?

    Moreover, for any nation to collectively suggest that their way of life is worth fighting for, all the while their own personnel go out of their way to put their own agents at risk is absurd.

    For a nation to assert that its way of life is worth asserting, then the conduct of all in leadership positions must be consistent with those principles were are trying to assert; not going out of the way to undermine those like Wilson who dare to assert the rule of law and facts over lawlessness.

    Yes, this incident leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth. Who are these people to talk about a great way of life, when their own citizens, in the name of seeing a political agenda, justify in their own minds conduct which is contrary to that way of life.

    There’s a lot of sensitive information that floats in and out of the White House. If they’re not willing to preserve it, then why should people risk their lives to get that information before them?

    Yes, behavior like this does burn bridges. We’re not in the business of being stuck in a particular career, nor beholden to a specific political machine that justifies this conduct, regardless the interests of the state, or whether that conduct cannot be proven to be a crime.

    We have two issues: What is the enemy capable of doing; and what are our own forces willing to do. It’s hard enough to attempt to do the right thing when the enemy is there, either known or unknown; but it’s a real kick in the teeth to find out your own side is willing to do the same thing as the enemy.

    A simple view is: Go find someone else that is stupid enough to fight both for principles not practiced, and then take it from all sides, even your own. ON top of that, even if you were to choose to stick with the system you run the chance of being treated as a public fool for simply asserting the rule of law.

    Sibel Edmonds, LtCol Schaeffer are but two examples of people doing their job, and then getting shafted by the system. Feel free to explain that to the new recruits you have at the next career day in Maryland.

    * * *

    Counter espionage

    The issue of where Fitzgerald’s support was located in DoJ was downplayed. However, Fitzgerald specifically thanked those in the counter intelligence division. This implies that the office wasn’t simply there, but there were active interactions with the Grand Jury and Fitzgerald.

    * * *

    Baseball analogy

    Fitzgerald talked about throwing dust up before the umpire’s eyes. If this analogy applies to Libby, then the issue is: OK, now we’ve got indictments that suggest that Libby was throwing stand before the umpire.

    The next step is to ask: What was Libby trying to do, why, and was there are larger pattern.

    Clearly, Libby made statements that he believed would be accepted. Despite the prospects of 30 years in jail for 5 felony counts, he believed what he was doing was acceptable.

    The next step is to ask what was the larger issue he was trying to advance, what agenda was being advanced, and who else knew about it.

    Why was he doing it?

    Did he know it was illegal?

    I do have a problem when the Grand Jury finds that Libby may have committed a crime on obstruction of justice; but then says nothing on intent in re disclosure.

    This means, because of secrecy, that Congress, the media, and other investigators would have to re=develop this information.

    Wonderful. More delays.

    Curious how its so easy to smear someone in the CIA, but then it takes forever to get public knowledge of what is to be done to kick someone.

    And DC wonders why people roll their eyes when they hear about the "big DC-solution" to something. "Oh, we can't talk about that, it might affect the election."

    Brilliant, that's why we have elections: To have accountability; not to "use the election" as the basis to do nothing.

    Yes, this does leave one with a bitter taste in the mouth: "This is the best that civilized people can do; and we wonder why people disagree with the US at the UN?" Get real. Major credibility problem.

    * * *

    Alleged perjury, but then no finding on intent

    There’s a disconnect in the case that Congress needs to understand: How could someone engage in a course of conduct that amounts to perjury; but then have no finding against them in terms of intent to achieve the result.

    This doesn’t mean that Libby did or didn’t intend to do something. Rather, there’s a disconnect on why someone would be indicted for a course of conduct amounting to obstruction, but then there be nothing in terms of intent to achieve some other objective or outcome. Libby must have done this for some reason; and that larger objective needs to be probed, regardless the non-statement by the Grand Jury on this larger issue.

    In my view, if someone is lying about what they did or didn’t say; then they are knowingly part of something and that action of lying to the Grand Jury shows they are knowledgeable of something, an interest, or perusing with some sort of intent to achieve an outcome.

    * * *

    Disconnect on DoD FOIA in re Able Danger and Cooperation with Grand Jury

    More broadly, it’s troubling that despite the ability to find witnesses in the Able Danger/LtCol Schaeffer case, that we have trouble getting the agencies to provide responses. However, Fitzgerald says that they were cooperative with the Grand Jury.

    Why is the Grand Jury given better assistance, but matters related to fact finding in re Able Danger get a yawn?

    Why are people like Michael Brown given assistance with a new job, but LtCol Schaeffer is left hanging in the wind, has lost his security clearance, and DIA and others wont talk about the pictures and maps hanging on the walls?

    * * *


    The unsettled issue is: Why did Libby do what he did; what was his purpose; and why would he lie. Regardless what the court does or doesn’t find, it’s reasonable to presume there’s been a course of conduct that’s been inconsistent and with the intent to delay the knowledge of something.

    These are issues which Congress and the public are going to have to decide whether they want to look into in terms of impeachment. We already know that, in light of the revelations about the Downing Street Memo, that more than fifty [50] percent of the public thinks that if Bush lied about WMD then he should be impeached.

    Whether Congressional inaction on that issue then translates into a vote against the RNC remains to be seen.

    Fundamentally, why would Libby throw sad if there was no problem or no issue; why would he commit acts that warrant an indictment with the expectation that he not get caught. We still don’t know what happened with the original case, and conduct with the leaking.

    The question Congress is going to have to decide is whether to pick up the pieces as they find them and probe; or whether the public and the media are going to do this on their own outside Congress and the Grand Jury process.

    * * *


    What we do know is that evidence that may or may not have been brought before the Grand Jury will not see the light of day.

    But the issue isn’t simply one of crimes, but what the voters need to know to make an informed decision.

    All the information that doesn’t get released in trial will never see the light of day, unless Congress chooses to pursue this.

    My view: Libby and Cheney were part of a larger effort to discredit those who opposed the decision to invade Iraq; and that they were part of an effort to provide false information to Congress.

    If this situation isn’t addressed, then we’re bound to have the same thing happen with both Syria and Iran.

    * * *


    The lesson of the day is that its OK to lie if you do it in politics, just don’t do it to the grand jury.

    In other words, if you as a private citizen have an interaction with a US federal, state, or local government official in a non official hearing, you can presume that they will lie if they believe it is in their interests: Feign stupidity about who they know, what they’re done, or whether they’re supposed to do or not do something.

    Law enforcement, court officials, and other elected officials now have another green light to lie to their constituents or those they serve. The grand jury can’t find the evidence of wrongdoing, so there’s little to believe the public is going to have the time to dig through it.

    The safest bet when dealing with Americans is to assume they’re lying. This introduces inefficiencies into contracts and the market. However, there are other options.

    Read more . . .

  • Wednesday, October 26, 2005

    Libby's Code Word: Aspen

    One of the things that Libby said in a memo to Miller related to the Aspens of Colorado.

    There's been some speculation what, if anything, Libby meant by this reference to Aspens.

    Some have speculated that this relates to the Aspen Institute in Colorado which mentions various operations.

    We’re wondering if the actual reference isn't so much with the institute, but a specific report that Miller may have read when she had access to Libby's data. Recall, Miller stated she had some sort of classification.

    Here's a sample of an Aspen Institute report, Aspen Institute referenced here, and a summary lecture.

    We're not satisfied with Miller's response in that [a] her credibility is shot; and [b] more fundamentally, we don't know, for sure, what Libby was trying to communicate.

    We’re wondering if Aspen is related to some other efforts which Libby and Miller were jointly engaged in the Aspen Institute:

  • Was the reference to a specific report from the Aspen Institute which Miller and Libby discussed, or outlined various assumptions about which way the world should go in the Middle East?

  • Was the time in jail a diversion so that other efforts could be fully executed to achieve specific objectives in an Aspen Institute report?

  • How does the specific report which Libby and Miller may be talking about compare or contrast with what is from PNAC in re US role in post cold war?

  • Was the Aspen comment a reference to the Institute, a system of communication, a report, or an approach to collect information and discuss findings, then make recommendations, and finally execute various options?

  • Was Aspen a signal that the diversion was over?

  • Was there a specific amount of time required to accomplish something, and when Libby found out that it had been accomplished, the Aspen comment went out?

  • Was Bolton's visit to Miller of significance to any of the Aspen Institute reports?

  • How much time is required to destroy documents, secure files, or remove equipment from remote NSA archiving locations overseas; how does this timeframe compare with the time that Miller sat in jail?

    * * *

    Let's consider Miller's role in this entire Iraq-WMD: It was as a mouthpiece.

    Was Libby, underestimating the backlash at Miller while she was in prison, thinking he could use Miller again as part of a ruse to go after Syria and Iran?

    Let's consider the four topics which Libby mentioned in the letter:
    Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program.

    How do these stack up against the various reports which Libby, the Aspen institute, or people within the NSC published in re the ruse WMD efforts and PNAC?

    What's caught my eye is that the referenced subjects are singular [Iranian program] and plural [elections; suicide bombers, not "insurgents"; and biological threats].

    Both biological threats and Iranian program are inconsistent with the Aspen Institute: The forecast was either a general threat of WMD [plural biological] or a specific program in Iran [in contrast with the 2003 assertions that the Iraqis had specific WMD, not simply programs as later argued].

    Libby's comments highlight what's changed after 2005 in light of the Downing Street Memo: The specific threat of WMD to a specific location is not a credible basis for war; rather, the White House fell back on the general argument of "WMD programs in Iraq".

    * * *

    Notice the phrase again:
    Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program.
    Look at the commas.

    Notice that the phrase isn't four elements, but actually three:

  • Iraq
  • Biological
  • Iran

    Iraq is broadly defined in terms of events that are subsequent to the issues related to Miller's jailing.

    Of interest: Syria's not on the list, despite the US effort to pin the assassination on the Syrians.

    If the US fails to persuade the UN to take action on the Melis report, is Syria being set up as the "biological threat" as was Iraq with WMD?

    How is bird flu, pandemics, and military involvement in quarantines fitting in with this "biological" perspective?

    * * *

    Let's consider the note itself. There are three options:

  • 1. Libby wrote the note with the expectation that it would be not publicized.

  • 2. Libby wrote it in code believing that it could be publicized;

  • 3. Libby wrote it in code with the belief that the meme would be private, but would be publicized.

  • 4. The words and phrase was put in there with the expectation that the confidential/private note would actually be publicized later.

    * * *

    There's a problem with all four of them. Why would Libby bother to write a code when he would later be able to talk to Miller directly?

    Is it possible that the letter was simply what it was: A note made without knowledge what Fitzgerald knew about Cheney's notes?

    * * *


    Ford's testimony from 2002 would have to be calibrated relative to what was said in re Iraq.

    Was the 2002-Ford-information relied on for Iraq-related arguments; and would Ford's statements on Syria be under question in light of what we know about Iraq's actual status?

    How does Ford fit in with Zuhair and Miller in terms of "sexing up the evidence" and "spinning the WMD angle" as we have seen in the Downing Street Memo?

    Also, notice the dates in the Syria-related information: The dates bring back memories of the Number10 dossier: the information was old, valid at the time, but things had changed.

    If Syria truly has a "threat", why was Iraq invaded first; and not go after Syria first? It's far easier to invade a "real threat" of Syria from NATO-ally-Turkey, than a bogus threat from the south of Iraq.

    Conversely, how do these types of 1990's analysis compare with the Iraq situation in terms of

  • the reliability of the reports,
  • the authorship/source of analysis,
  • the degree to which the CIA-DIA-NSA was relying on these academic studies and private contractors for analysis through the analysis-subcontracts,
  • what the inspectors like Ritter were finding, and
  • the basis for war in Iraq?

    Putting aside the political pressure on the CIA analysts, if the existing contracting-based-system of analysis by US contractors to analyze data has been undermined, then we have to ask questions about the fundamental assumptions academics and non-government sources are using to assess the real threats posed by Syria.

    * * *

    There are two ends of the intelligence pipe: The analysts and the decision maker.

    In the absence of a "cleaning house" [of not just the CIA, but this apparent disconnect between what was on the ground and what was in the report], then the same flawed system that was used to justify in the minds of the policymakers of lying to Congress is still in place.

    Which brings us back to the relationship between the contractors, the Aspen institute, PNAC, and the Senior Executive Service supporting DoD, NSA, DoJ, and CIA.

    The flawed nexus which existed prior to invading Iraq remains, ready for Fitzgerald to comb.

    * * *

    WE believe Libby intended the phrase to be an openly available comment which would see the light of day.

    However, here's the key: The remarks were made without Libby's knowledge of what Fitzgerald did or didn't know; and were made with the expectation that Fitzgerald would not indict Libby; and that additional efforts could be employed to mobilize the nation to put pressure on nations other than Iraq.

    However, Miller's jail release has muddied the waters in that Libby can no longer be confident he'll be part of the team that will move beyond Iraq.

    * * *

    It appears as though Libby's message was intended to simply signal that Libby wanted the existing relationship to continue: That the US would manipulate the media and public to venture beyond Iraq.

    It appears Libby envisioned that Miller would only disclose what they had agreed in terms of "I forget" or "I can't remember" on the assumption that that would be an air-tight argument. Recall, Novak made a deal and hasn't gotten much scrutiny.

    It appears as though Libby did not calculate that there would be something that would discredit both Miller and Libby's versions of what happened in re Plame.

    Thus, we conclude based on the expectation that this memo is linked with anticipated continued work in re Syria and Iran, that Libby and Miller jointly agreed to confine their comments to a specific number of predetermined items that they assumed would be airtight.

    This clearly fell apart when Libby and Miller were surprised with the Cheney written memo.

    * * *

    WE conclude that Libby and Miller are most likely going to be viewed by the Grand Jury as having been but a few of the players in a larger conspiracy to unlawfully take the United States into war, commit war crimes, and then retaliate against witnesses like Joseph Wilson for stating the truth.

    Libby's message confirms that there was a set of agreements and discussions between Libby, Miller, and others related to a more expansive US role and cooperating between the US government and media in orchestrating Aspen Institute and PNAC objectives.

    Unfortunately, this expected "post Jail cooperation" would not materialize once the NYT woke up to what was going on; and the public began to raise questions about Miller's credibility; and the fuller conspiracy was known.

    WE conclude the Fitzgerald grand jury will expand its coverage and look into not only what has happened; but what is already underway as far as unfolding plans for Syria, Iraq, and North Korea.

    The court would want to review not only actions in re Iraq, but how the subsequent contract efforts and plans developed by CIA and NSA contractors would fit in with this larger effort.

    Most troubling to the court would be the apparent expectation by the White House that, despite no WMD, the country would continue to go along with foreign adventures more disconnected from lawful activity.

    Thus, Able Danger is but one of the programs that Fitzgerald will review; and DoD has likely other ongoing operations in conjunction with MI5, MI6, and the NSA to fabricate additional propaganda and intimidate those who speak out, as they did with Wilson.

    It appears Fitzgerald does have specific information from the intelligence community that not only looks back at what happened with Iraq, but what is already in the works in re Iran, Syria, and other to be discovered objectives.

    The allegedly corrupt and criminal enterprise that Fitzgerald found in re Plame is not simply a retrospective look at data; rather, that system remains in place, and going forward, continues to issue contracts, review reports, and lay the ground work for other illegal adventures.

    The scope of the Fitzgerald grand jury will go into the civilian contractors, the NSA files, and dig into the very nervous personnel who continue to wonder what they were really signing up for when they decided to be an analyst in a black program.

    Congratulations: You have failed the Jack Anderson test. What you've done is now on the cover of the Washington Post, despite assurances by Libby and others in the White House that this would never see the light of day.

    As always, know that although you may destroy the information, there remain records outside your control.

    It is time to cooperate, or you will be indicted.

    Choose wisely.

    It is going to get far worse.

    * * *

    Given the likely reluctance from NSA and CIA to cooperate in identifying the ongoing analysis and propaganda efforts, we have taken the liberty to let the blogosphere know of the key phrases to look for:

    Search term: Descriptive summary

    These are the budgeting documents used in open sources to hide money. They are loaded in Congressional Staff packages.

    You want to look for contractors who have been issued funding, but despite problems with execution of those funds, the money stays in that program element.

    When you get your hands on the descriptive summary, your job is to start going down the IP-lists for those listed contractors.

    Know that although an IP is publicly available, there are parameters within Google and other search engines that prevent some from showing up. You're going to have to use your workarounds on Google to find which contractor IP-data is available, which are blocked.

    For example: DoJ's IP numbers, although they are publicly available are not searchable. You'll have to develop your own workarounds to figure out why this is done.

    Here is a sample IP from DOJ that has problems with Google: 204.255.127.XXX This has the following designators:

    The digits after "host" match the last digits after 204.255.127.XXX, in the X.

    * * *

    Once you form a map of these IPs from the descriptive summary, you'll have to do what's called a relationship analysis, showing the patterns of communications between the NSA and CIA contractors.

    This is not all that hard to do. The problem NSA and CIA have is that they don't realize that, despite their cloaking, all this data is publicly available and still open for your review.

    * * *

    You'll want to compare the traffic and message traffic times along the key program milestones within NSA and CIA black programs.

    This isn't as hard to do as you think. Each time NSA and CIA have a program milestone in support of these unlawful efforts overseas, they still have to engage in message traffic. The spikes will give you indications as to which personnel, from which location, were involved in the meetings.

    NSA may have already destroyed the data. But where you can find this is in the civilian cache files that are in violation of the NSA OPSEC requirements. All you have to do is find a single violation, then backtrack, and pull like a thread along each of the disconnects.

    Before the NSA finally closes out a report, there is still data that is in violation. Your job is to find the data transmissions that were done just prior to the final resolution.

    Even the testing messages will work; and if you go back to the old data prior to the formal program being in place, that will work just fine.

    * * *

    To find the NSA OPSEC violations, you need to look for the Defense Plant Representative visits for the site security managers. They have checklists that go over prior to contract award the status of these inspections.

    Most likely the Auditors will have destroyed these files. However, know that Army CID, Air Force OSI, and the NAVY NCIS have files going back 25 years in DC warehouses and around the country.

    Your job will be to find, by name, the specific program manager and program focal point who visited and was trained on the NSA OPSEC training. You can do this by looking for the Temporary Duty Travel [TDY] records available at the Columbus DFAS.

    Once you get this list of personnel, all you have to do is start calling them back. Know that because they have made mistakes, and you will find them, that their stories are not going to add up, just as they did with the Plame-Libby-Miller mistakes.

    * * *

    Remember, all you have to do is find one error. Then the rest of it will come unglued.

    The OPSEC inspection reports you can get from the plant representative will have information on when the files were destroyed; when the audit was done; any corrections that were made; and they type of testing done.

    Also, you'll want to look for the program designation of PATE which stands for performance analysis testing and evaluation. This is the shadow contractor that follows the prime and ensures that there are no bugs in the original system.

    The key isn't that the program was or wasn't under PATE. The key is to know that there is a second line of evidence, outside CIA and NSA control, that is already saved with a contractor, and they have a second set of eyes to review the coding in the original software.

    * * *

    The next step is to take these OPSEC errors, and then star piecing together the visits, who was involved, and start grinding down on them:

    How were they informed of their authority

    What rules were they given to follow on the legality of what they were doing

    The game NSA and CIA play is that they have alot of pieces broken apart, and then these are brought together under the umbrella.

    The goal of the grand jury is to follow the pieces from the errors, and find the central hub or overlaying organization.

    This has since been disbanded; but all the people who were making these pieces still exist. All you have to do is follow these pieces like an Christmas Tree, from the roots, to the star at the top.

    * * *

    Libby doesn't know it, but he spilled the beans on how to find all the information needed to see who else is involved, what they did, and what orders they were following when they decided to make up things, and violate the laws of war and Geneva Conventions.

    Good luck.

    Read more . . .

  • Fitzgerald Grand Jury Extension

    This late in the game, and FBI agents are still doing interviews.

    I don't see things getting wrapped up this quickly.

    Warning: The following is just a guess and not based on anything.

    * * *

    Other links:

    Grand Jury Discovery: Exploiting weaknesses in Joint Staff.

    Grand Jury Discovery: Expoliting fissures in White House.

    * * *

    It appears as though there is something that is sparking a new line of questions.

    I don't see the new information getting vetted this quickly.

    Fitzgerald has outlined the work for the court; made a capable showing that they were working quickly; and that they've run across a new set of issues that warrant further probing and review.

    Given the revelations in 2003 which appear to be contradicted by events in 2005, I suspect that there are a number of things which Fitzgerald has presented to the court that warrant an appropriate extension of the Grand Jury.

    This isn't to say that the deadline has changed. Rather, that the still unresolved issues are far wider than originally outlined.

    Also, I am not convinced that the initial letters issued is the end of the matter. There appear to be some questions and issues above and beyond what was originally raised when the grand jury was empaneled.

    Fitzgerald believes there is additional information warranting the House Judiciary Committee to review, however this information is still be developed as we speak.

    The scope of the WMD ruses in 2003 are getting explored. If someone has stated to the grand jury certain assumptions about "who knew what about Plame" [for purposes of suggesting that everyone knew about her identify], but this week FBI agents are asking questions about "who knew," it appears as though the line of questioning is related to what was the scope of the plan, if any, to downplay the concerns that her identity was new.

    What is striking is that "what everyone knew" would seem to have been something that would have already been looked at 2 years ago, and not something that they would just happen to think about in the last hours of a grand jury.

    There's another issue getting explored related to what public statements were organized to discredit concerns that Plame's name was or wasn't used; and how was the testimony before the Grand Jury tipping one way or the other based on these apparent misstatements about who knew of Plame's cover status.

    Because of the timing of these interviews, the issue Fitzgerald is looking at is what effort, if any, was organized to protect the President, and downplay the seriousness of the issues; to what extent, if any, the President was part of these mitigation efforts and plans.

    I do not think that the latest FBI interviews are related to some new findings about the original leaking; but they are part of what Fitzgerald would need to present to justify a specific decision.

    The issue becomes: What decision, absent these FBI interviews, would not be possible by this Friday?

    The decisions is whether to expand the discovery into a wider effort to not only insulate the President from the ruses about Iraq; but his knowledge of those plans, and allegations that his public statements were contrary to the actual plans in place he may have known to exist.

    Fitzgerald has developed a line of evidence that is above and beyond the original scope of the inquiry, indictments will be returned, but the fact finding will broaden into allegations which the House Judiciary Committee will eventually have to wrestle with.

    There are lines of evidence indicating that there was a wider effort underway to sell the war; that the inconsistencies between the witnesses have given the prosecutor sufficient grounds to broaden the inquiry; and that the conduct is not isolated to the State Department, DoD, or White House.

    Local law enforcement, DoJ personnel, and NSA personnel in the intelligence community will have a role in providing additional information; and that the existing information Fitzgerald has is that the efforts to intimidate government officials like Wilson and Plame is very wide and warrants a better understanding.

    Fitzgerald has reviewed the existing security standards not just within the White House, State, CIA, and DoD, but is aware of a broader pattern of conduct that moved without regard to these standards when it came to issues of fact finding, information gathering, decision making in issues related to leadership, oversight, follow-up, and corrections.

    In short, it appears as though the systemic flaws which appear to have failed in re 9-11 are known to be a pervasive pattern of conduct that is not simply bad government, but is a consistent pattern of malfeasance. These problems were not addressed within the political process, but their entrenched existence appears to have blossomed into criminal conduct.

    Bluntly, where Congress fails in its checks and balances, Fitzgerald shows us there are capable prosecutors to impose discipline. One is through the nudging of policy, the second is the far shaper edge of the law.

    What is clear is that DoD and the Grand Jury have had access to information showing that public statements about what was or was not done both prior to engaging in combat operations, and when holding prisoners is contrary to what was actually in the record.

  • Possible allegations of perjury by Senior Military Personnel [GITMO official records do not match what DoD and the Joint Chiefs have asserted before Congress].

    There will be a additional, if not more, rounds of indictments after this week.

    Fitzgerald discussed with the court issues related to the bounds of the inquiry, and what would be an acceptable timeframe to gather additional information related to this wider pattern of conduct.

    Fitzgerald wants to have confidence that the court is going to back his decision to continue to probe into these patterns of conduct; and that he has a specific line of inquiry in mind, and has presented to the court sufficient evidence to warrant the courts support for the extension.

    Read more . . .

  • Syria: Is American ready to apply the lessons of Iraq?

    It's one thing to analyze what went wrong in Iraq.

    It's quite another to pause and see if we aren't doing the same with Syria.

    There are many saying "we should have asked these questions with Iraq." Well, now's your chance to apply the lessons from Syria to Iraq.

    I thought I'd share some comments and thoughts about Syria. The more I look at the US pressure on Syria, the more I see a common pattern with what happened in Iraq.

    It got me thinking: What might we have done in Iraq had we known what we know in 2005?

    Clearly, we can't turn back the clock, but we can apply these lessons to new situations like Syria.

    * * *

    There’s open discussion about accountability for the Press in re WMD, Judith Miller, and the leaking of a CIA agent’s name.

    In theory, the reflection would translate into public discussion, application.

    The issue, at the time, was that there were problems with information not being reliable, and that the State was advocating action.

    This reflection is all well and good, but is meaningless if the lessons aren’t immediately applied to other situations.

    Specifically, I argue that these lessons learned about the run up to the war in Iraq need to be applied to Syria in how the US is similarly drumming up public support for action.

    My concern is, despite the public discussion about the lessons learned in Iraq, these lessons are not being applied to American policies in re Syria.

    First, what’s needed is a quick overview of the lessons from Iraq.

    Second, an application of those lessons to Syria.

    Third, a demonstration that the lessons from Iraq, if applied to Syria, would adjust the debate and arrive at new points for analysis.

    Fourth, what is to be done differently?

    * * *

    In short, we have the same players and environment we had in 2002. The only difference is that we've got a mess in Iraq, as opposed to an ongoing debate.

    The players haven't changed since 2002; they've simply moved around. The only one that has been removed from the screne is Secretary Powell. All the others involved with Iraq are still in a position to influence the decisions and lobbying.

    We have the same consultants, same system that grinds down whistleblowers, and the same ineffectual IG process that rubber stamps what the SES does or doesn't want held to account.

    This is the same system and risks which occurred prior to Ambassador Wilson getting smeared.

    Despite all that we now know, America has learned, despite the lawless invasion of Iraq, that America can claim the moral high ground despite there being no high ground or morality.

    In short, the same bacterial soup which fermented into the Iraq disaster has simply had more time to mutate into other creatures when it comes to Syria.

    Overall, the media's public debate at the NYT over what went wrong seems too narrow to Judith Miller. Rather, we need to have a larger recognition that the key issues with Iraq are still getting in the way of covering Syria:

  • Witnesses have no credibility

  • Support for plans are based on innuendo

  • The arguments for specific policies are overstated, and not credibly linked with facts

  • The vacuum of facts is being used as proof of something which cannot be specified, yet some assert to know the right policy or course of action

  • The level of evidence is questionable

  • Despite the weakened White House position over the Fitzgerald indictments, those in the know continue to face real risks of retribution and retalation for speaking out aginst what apepars to have already been set in motion.

    * * *

    The lessons from Iraq are still emerging. But what we do know is that the White House will focus on outcomes without regard to facts or arguments.

    Second, it is clear that the White House will organize information to suit its arguments, even going so far as to overplay information.

    Third, the White House, even when given contrary evidence, will still continue to pursue a policy, however flawed or devoid of legal foundation.

    Fourth, the White House will find the key decision makers, whether they be in the media, non-governmental organizations, or other branches of government, to influence through any means.

    Fifth, those who do not tow the line will be ignored, blacklisted, smeared, and retaliated against.

    * * *

    Syria, in light of the Iraq lessons, appears to be another Iraq.

    It appears the White House, regardless the actual facts, wants to paint Syria as primarily responsible for the events in Lebanon. This argument is problematic.

    First, to suggest that a government like Syria, that has control over a region, must there for have knowledge of all events in that region, is flawed. If we were to apply that argument to 9-11, then all the events surrounding the WTC attacks would, because they are on US soil, be directly responsible of the American government.

    This may be true in the United States; but the issue isn’t whether one can, by simply pointing to an umbrella, assert that all events in Lebanon, because of Syrian presence, are subject to Syrian control.

    Second, we already know that the Syrians were aware the United States was looking for a reason to invade. Why would the Syrians do something that would antagonize the US?

    Third, if we were to presume that the parties that knew of the communications were also involved, would ask that we not apply this argument to the Americans and British in re the Echelon. If Echelon was working, then because the US and UK failed to act on what they most likely knew, we could argue that the US and UK were just as likely as the Syrians to be aware of what may have been planned.

    Fourth, presuming the Syrians, because of their intelligence network in Lebanon, knew the likely impact if the Syrians were linked to any instability, it doesn’t seem plausible that the Syrians would take action without regard to the backlash. Rather, it’s more likely that the Syrians were surprised by the attack, and stayed in Lebanon because of the unstable situation.

    * * *

    To call for sanctions on Syria at this point, with mere allegations, would ask that any country that wanted to allege anything about the US, would be justified in leading an embargo of the United States.

    * * *

    I see nothing before me that specifically links the events in the Hariri assassination to specific Syrian involvement.

    * * *

    It appears the US pressure on Syria started around the time the US pressure on Iraq started, and that these ruse-WMD efforts were not isolated to Iraq, but part of a larger reframing of the regional arguments in re the US role in the region..

    I believe, if the US doesn’t get sanctions, the US will highlight other efforts.

    * * *

    It doesn’t appear as though the basis for the Security Council discussions are any more factual that the Powell briefings, yet the discussion continues.

    We should be hearing alarms going off saying, “Remember what they did at the Security Council with Iraq, and those bogus WMD photos. We’ve had no sanctions on the US for that action; there’s no reason to believe they won’t do the same with Syria.”

    * * *

    Keep in mind the double standards on arguments. Some would assert that to suggest the US is doing the same thing with Syria as it did with Iraq is inconceivable. Yet, look where we are with Iraq: Inconceivably, despite no evidence of WMD, the Congress voted to authorize the US of force.

    Inconceivably, the Congress was given information that was fabricated and it deferred to the President the decision on whether to go to war or not.

    Inconceivably, despite no legal foundation, the US has avoided sanctions.

    Inconceivably, when an Ambassador spoke out about the ruses, his wife who happened to be a CIA agent had her name leaked by the White House.

    Inconceivably, we are asked to believe, in the vacuum of sanctions or indictments, that what happened in Iraq could not happen again.

    * * *

    At this point, just as the Iraqis did prior to the US invasion, I expect that no amount of Syrian cooperation will be good enough for the US.

    No matter what the Syrians do or do not do, the US is going to change the rules, demand more information, and work to grind down the Syrians just as it did with Iraq.

    Yet, the key question as this point is: What is going to ensure the US does not, as it did in Iraq, get away with changing the standards on what is considered acceptable levels of cooperation.

    Recall the Americans continued to state, “Iraq knows what it needs to do,” leaving that as an open-ended requirement that the Iraqis comply.

    Well, the Iraqis, despite having no WMD, did comply; yet, this cooperation, no matter what was done, was never good enough.

    I fully expect the US to use some sort of technical violation or some ruse agreement as a trip wire to justify triggering a UN Security Council crisis, mandate, call for action, and resort to force.

    I fully expect the US to use doctored photos, shrills from its own party, and people form within the US to talk about vague threats from Syria, but there be no evidence.

    * * *

    Most of the arguments about Syria imply that Syria is behind the problems in Iraq.

    If this were true, then all the Americans would have to do is seal the Iraqi border with Syria and that would be the end of it.

    Apparently, Washington would rather put the responsibility for the security situation inside Iraq on those who are outside Iraq. If that logic were credible, why not blame the man on the moon for the state of affairs for the Katrina Hurricane.

    * * *

    Furthermore, if the Syrians were really behind the problems in Iraq, then the Syrians, with their single method of training, would have a single threat and common way of training the insurgents. In turn, if the Syrians were behind this single training strategy, the US should be in a position to effectively move against a single strategy.

    However, we see the opposite. The US, despite allegations that a single nation is behind the instability in Iraq, cannot effectively organize against this single training approach.

    Indeed, if we are to believe the mighty Echelon capabilities, then the same capability that should be able to confirm Syrian actions in Lebanon, should be able to confirm the Syrian actions in Iraq.

    But, curiously, despite Bolton’s’ acknowledgement that Echelon spies on Americans illegally, we have nothing specific from Echelon that links Syria to either Lebanon’s assassination or the training commands sent from Damascus to Baghdad.

    Echelon does pick things up. If there truly was a high priority in Iraq and concern with Syria, then those intercepts that were related to this clear threat would get first priority and the evidence would be before us.

    But we have the opposite. Despite the catalyst of 9-11, we have no increased effort on Damascus because there is no information that is real.

    * * *

    The US continues to build the case for war against Syria, just as it did with Iraq. Yet make no mistake, the same ruses we saw with Iraq are going on with Syria.

    If there were no ruses, then the US wouldn’t have had to wait for the UN report to assert a concern or call for action. Rather, it would have used Echelon to direct the investigation to specific credible information.

    We saw in the wake of KAL007 that the US can provide this information when it wants to.

    This time, the US thinks that it can simply ride the UN report and get the rest of the world to rally to that conclusion, despite the vacuum of evidence.
    * * *

    The issue becomes what is the US movement capable of doing, if the Syrians do not assent to some nebulous outcome the US wants.

    Furthermore, what could we expect to see in terms of demands, and what might the international community be asked to digest until there is something mirroring blind Syrian groveling to the Americans.

    We’ve already seen that the US is capable of doing anything including committing torture, drafting memos in the US authorizing torture, and then holding no leaders to account.

    We’ve also seen the US pick innocent civilians off the street, cut their clothes off, and then throw them into VIP transport to parts unknown.

    In short, the Americans are capable of doing anything and they view themselves as being above the law.

    The only thing the Americans require is self-approval that their actions, however unlawful, are serving some greater good.

    This is no different than what the Nazis did: Justifying invasions to help the locals. It was only when the locals resisted that the Nazis then self-justified using greater pressure and force to subdue the local population.

    * * *

    The issue becomes what is going to stop the Americans. I see nothing. The rule of law is meaningless. They do fabricate information, and they have shown no credible basis to believe that their approach to international policy is anything short of lawlessness.

    The Americans have a curious approach to the world. There is one set of rules that they impose on others, and the Americans will ignore those rules. What’s worse is the US will then retaliate against those who dare hold them to those standards.

    The Americans are not reliable, they will lie, and they have a strange sense of the rule of law. The law is there as a restraint on others; but that law does not apply to them. When they cannot compete for the hearts and minds, they will use that resistance as the self-justification to ignore the laws.

    In short, but for the different standard of living and the calendar, there is no difference between the American Republic and the Nazi War Machine. Both machines are willing to do what they view as self-justifying anything.

    * * *

    The issue becomes what is needed to have this debate about Syria that we should have had about Iraq.

    The time has come for people to dig out their concerns about Iraq, and ask themselves what has changed. I see nothing has changed.

    I do see the same system in place drumming the beats of war, with the same expectation that the masses will be manipulated to support that which they will not freely support absent that manipulation.

    We also need to ask what the Americans plan to do once they get control of Syria. They’ve made a mess of Iraq; why should we believe the Syrians are going to be in a better position in 2009 than they are in 2005?

    Is the US the only one that can define what is best for the Syrians?

    * * *

    Let’s consider the general concerns about Iraq that should be getting raised with Syria.

    We hear in 2005 that the Press should have been independent, asked more questions, and be willing to not rely on anonymous sources.

    let’s go one step further and ask why the Press isn’t asking the same critical questions that the congress said it needed in 2002?

    Where is the independence of the media in holding the same Administration that lied to us about Iraq to some credible level of accountability that we have been denied since the first days of BushCo?

    Let’s go down the list:

    Why should we believe the US wasn’t behind the assassination?

    Why should we believe the US argument that the Syrians are responsible for all things the US hasn’t been able to solve?

    Why should we believe the US government is not leaking bogus information about Syria to its friends in the media, with the full expectation that these media shills are manipulating the debate?

    Why would we believe the US has a plan of what it is going to do with Syria once it invades?

    How many years is the US willing to stick to a false story, grind down the Syrians, and use any effort the Syrians make resembling an act of self-respect as something that warrants the UN to authorize force?

    What evidence does the US have in Echelon and NSA files that has not been fabricated that would tell us what really happened?

    Why should we believe the US and UK, because of Echelon, didn’t know what was going on prior to the assassination but failed to intervene?

    Is it in the US’s interests to make the Syrians the ones who are to blame for something the US and UK may have orchestrated with the Israelis?

    Are we going to rely on the bogey man of Hitler as the excuse to grovel on the ground and blindly ignore the rule of law so that we can invade countries we accuse of resembling the ghosts of WWII?

    How many CIA officers does the White House plan to lake to Mr. Novak for publication if they speak out about what their concerns are with these apparently baseless charges against Syria?

    Will the grand jury that looks into this White House manipulation in re Syria be stationed in another town other than Chicago, or are we going to simply permit Fitzgerald to put Syria on the list of situations to investigate?

    * * *

    I’m all for being prudent. But what I’m not for is putting pressure on Fitzgerald to shut down this grand jury.

    Given what I’ve seen, I would applaud any effort to appoint a special counsel to investigate why, if we really had 9-11 reforms, where was Echelon when the Syrians were supposedly doing all this stuff.

    After 9-11, we were told never again. But we are asked to believe that that doesn’t apply when it comes to Syria.

    Someone messed up prior to 9-11. it appears that disaster was desired. I expect, in the end, we’ll find out that the Syrians didn’t have anything to do with this assassination, and that the Americans and UK either were involved, or know exactly what happened.

    * * *

    It’s time for the Senate intelligence Committee to get off its rear end, and demand that NSA give them the information about Syria: Either Echelon is working and we picked up something; or, like Able Danger, the US have evidence in the NSA files that show the US and UK were involved in the Assassination.

    At this juncture, it’s clear despite the lessons of 9-11 and the Able Danger programs, we’ve got a host of questions that aren’t getting asked or answered.

    I suspect the reason is that the media, despite its public self-beating, still hasn’t worked up to the fact that it has a credibility problem.

    there’s no use teaching our students and children about the benefits of democracy when American leaders are afraid of letting its citizens see whether this government is really performing.

    We saw in the wake of Katrina that despite Congressional oversight, things were botched. I fully expect to find out the same with Syria, but this time the RNC will be there pointing at the media saying, “Why didn’t you make us do the right thing?”

    * * *

    Congress needs to appoint a special counsel and find out what is wrong with the NSA. Either the NSA, despite 9-11, hasn’t reformed and missed the information from Syria; or NSA, as was done with Able Danger, is sitting on information that could put people in jail.

    It’s time to send a clear message to those in the NSA, DoD, and CIA that we as American citizens are going to dare to listen to them, and not let the White House brow beat them into silence as was done with Iraq.

    There are Scott Ritters, Sibel Edmonds, and a host of people willing to put their lives of the line to defend America.

    But we insult their service and bring discredit on this constitution when we ask them to sacrifice their integrity in the name of principles we do not practice.

    * * *

    Let’s get a serious debate about what really went wrong in the NYT with Judith Miller. Maybe if the Media is serious about finding out what went wrong with WMD and Iraq, we might have some real questions of the White House Press Corps about what is going on with Syria.

    Let’s ask the media again:

    How many American deaths over Syria do you want before the tough questions start getting asked?

    How many years of empanelling a grand jury do you want to spend standing outside the courtroom trying to guess what the prosecutor is trying to find?

    Wouldn’t it be easier to ask these questions now, rather than try to dig through the many months of leaks, rumors, and innuendo from a grand jury?

    If your sources have already shown they will lie, why do you offer them confidentiality?

    I say quit the non-sense over your access, and start talking about what the Americans do not want the public to know: The same non-sense that went on with Iraq is going on with Syria.

    The burden of proof is on the Americans to demonstrate otherwise. They’ve lost all basis to believe them.

    Or do you want another quote from someone that gets read on the airways, and then spend the next three years wondering what the quote means?

    Beware this leadership. It shows no inclination to respect you or the rule of law. It beats the drums of war to invoke the name of principles, but takes those principles with as much respect as a mother bear shows a hunter.

    Perhaps the real problem was that despite the explicitly quote you had in 2002, the analogy you had wasn’t in terms you may appreciate.

    Do you want a sports analogy. Think football. The team that you’re playing against is simultaneously changing the rules, bribing the referees, moving the cameras around, adjusting the lighting, they have a second team that is playing on another field that simulates all the problems, and they’re filing this illusory game as if it were real, and then showing those faked photos as a basis to disqualify the opponent that hasn’t done anything wrong.

    The only thing the opponent did wrong was believe the American team could be a credible force to oppose on the football field. The error is that America will do amazing things when it wants to, and also abysmally fail when the facts are known.

    Look to the lesson of Katrina to find out what Americans, when they are forced to deliver, can actually do when under the gun.

    Otherwise, assume all that they say and do is nothing but a ruse.

    You’d best spend your time looking for the other football fields where the staged violations are occurring. There are camera crews on the ground who know exactly what they are doing, and getting paid handsomely to contribute to another ruse for Syria.

    It’s up to you: Whether you want to use the lessons of Iraq, and carefully dig into what is going on with Syria; or whether you want to believe, despite no sanctions, America has remedied its ways.

    Katrina shows us that unless there are meaningful questions and real fact checking, the real situation is far different than what the Congress and American public are led to believe.

    * * *

    Ask yourself why is there a rush with Syria?

    Whose timeline are we really working on?

    All these years of problems, and suddenly the Americans decide that action must be taken now. What basis is there to believe that this deadline has any merit?

    Who wrote the speech for John Bolton to condemn the UN for its failure to address these issues?

    How many demonstrators does the White House plan to put in leg irons if they speak out, as they did with Iraq, over the issues in Syria?

    How many agents in the JTTF plan to intimidate American civilians for asking questions about whether the US has the plans in place to credibly resolve what is going on in Syria?

    How many theater goers does the US plan to investigate for attending movies that raise issues about the similarities between Syria, Iraq, and 9-11?

    How many people does the US plan to torture in Guantanamo for them speaking out about the abuses in Iraq that the poorly disciplined Americans are planning in Syria?

    Do you want to live in a country that beats itself up about mistakes it makes in Iraq, but then doesn’t ensure that those lessons are applied to Syria/

    If you don’t want to have answers to questions like this, why don’t you just volunteer for the military, and blindly follow orders. God knows America will defend your right to commit war crimes, and blame ghosts for the leadership problem.

    Be proud of living in a country that retroactively finds what went wrong, but does a poor job in ensuring that those lessons are applied in new situations.

    We already had Vietnam. Now we have Iraq.

    Perhaps you want Syria as well.

    * * *

    Let’s suppose the same thing in Iraq is unfolding with Syria and that the US persistence is related to a larger effort to dominate Syria.

    The issue some believe is, “How will the US achieve its objectives.” Perhaps if we take a step back and ask a more fundamental question, given what we have in Iraq [a mess, no security for the oil, and a problem with the world oil supplies], why is the US worried about Syria, when there are more pressing issues with Nigeria/

    What would explain this fascination with Syria and the Middle East?

    Would we not be better off if we spent more time ignoring the middle east and focusing on reliable sources of oil like in Russia?

    What if all the money that was spent on invading Iraq was used to invest in Russian oil exploration or in beefing up the security and lifestyle of the Nigerians who already provide us oil?

    What if the US, rather than getting into a catfight with Venezuela, simply put its hands out, accept the offer of assistance during Katrina, and as a way of showing our appreciation, do what we can to stabilize the Venezuelan borders from the regional drug trafficking?

    My point isn’t that the oil is or isn’t important. My point is that despite a known problem with oil, we’re now running into Syria. Who cares about Syria?!?

    We’ve got far higher priorities to face: Why should the US believe it is going to get needed support in the future when the world is facing a real problem affecting just an isolated region.

    It’s one thing to burn your bridges. It’s quite another to, over the sake of power, burn bridges simply because you want to continue with a policy that is devoid of legal foundation.

    I shall not accept the argument that the laws should be changed simply because, in hindsight, the players weren’t willing to stay within the confines of the law. If the law doesn’t matter, then the law doesn’t matter for all.

    But that’s not civilized society. That’s barbarism. Don’t ask your agents to take an oath to a constitution, but then kick them in the rear-end when they point out the problems with the SES leadership and its failure to look at this problem differently.

    I encourage everyone to rally ask the question: Why is Syria all that important in the big scheme of things. Other than the fact that the US invaded Iraq illegally and Syria is its neighbor, is there really something that is specific.

    I see nothing that is specific. I see the same hand waving we saw in 2002, but this time I do not see the questions about Syria that would’ve been asked about Iraq.

    Why now?

    What’s the rush?

    What’s the deadline?

    Why aren’t the other solutions to this problem acceptable?

    Are the requirements you’re imposing something you really want to agree to, or are you going to change the rules again?

    * * *

    So what are we going to do differently this time with Syria?

    What’s going to be done to make sure the US and UN Security Council are making sure that the debate is based on reality and facts, not accusations and a pre-determined policy?

    What role will Congress take in vetting this information?

    Will the American public, as it was with Iraq, be blackmailed as it was with the patriot Act to submit to the non-sense of be threatened with detention?

    I do not see a compelling argument that there is an imminent threat in Syria. If there is, then someone needs to explain why, despite this apparent threat, Iraq was invaded first.

    * * *

    Vietnam was based on a theory of dominoes. We didn’t use nuclear weapons because the Chinese might have retaliated.

    Bush and Blair are reported to have discussed which country, after Iraq, was on the list of WMD targets: Iran, Syria, or North Korea.

    Supposedly Iraq was the biggest threat. Fine, we’ve found out this big threat was an illusion. So why should we believe that the threats in Syria, Iraq, or North Korea are suddenly more pressing?

    Even if the US does take action, how will it support that effort?

    Clearly, the US could attack from the air as the Israelis did. But I ask you: Why the rush; what’s so imminent; and is there not another way?

    Why is there a group of people who are quick to use military force, even going so far as to fabricate evidence to justify using that force, and then lying about whether the threat was imminent or not?

    Isn’t it odd that we have this strange group of people floating around Washington, apparently with unfettered access to the media, yet this stuff just appears in the media without any vetting?

    Are the publishers and producers so moronic that they refuse to stand up to this non-sense?

    Let’s put yourself in the position of a producer. Your real client isn’t your reader or viewer, it’s the advertiser. Your job is to create stuff that the Advertisers will pay top dollar to sponsor. Whether your audience is or isn’t moronic you don’t care. Your goal is to get eyeballs.

    Well, why isn’t the eyeball-factor driving the producers to create content that actually addresses what people are concerned about? Last time I checked a majority of viewers don’t think we should be in Iraq; so why isn’t that same lack of public support then driving advertising revenues to encourage producers to ask the same about Syria?

    It’s up to the producers and publishers to explain. But I do know that in the end, the producers and publishers don’t care about the public. Their loyalty lies where the dollars come from, even if those dollars are moving on the basis of non-sense and illusions.

    * * *

    America enjoys getting lied to, because then the free citizens, when they realize they’ve been betrayed, will run to the lawyers and therapists in search of assistance.

    That means more dollars and contributions for the lobbyists to defend us from this insanity.

    Then again, wouldn’t it be simply smarter to do what makes sense: Ask the questions, weigh the evidence, and then really ask why we should believe them this time?

    If we had that, maybe we might have something called an American republic.

    Until then, we have the same non-sense as the Nazis in Hitler’s 1930s, except this time you’ve got a chorus of shills in the media trying to convince you otherwise.

    If you’re not afraid of the truth, then maybe its time to simply answer the questions for yourself: Yes, America, you are being lied to about Syria and your government is planning to do the same thing in Syria as it did with Iraq. The only difference is that this time, they’re going to make you believe you’re freely doing it based on evidence.

    It’s still an illusion. Just like America’s democracy and republic.

    Read more . . .