One shouldn’t be surprised, I guess, that some wannabe-journalist bloggers are auditioning before possible mainstream employers by attacking investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh for writing agroundbreaking article implicating Syrian jihadist rebels and Turkish intelligence in the lethal use of Sarin on Aug. 21 outside Damascus.
From a sampling of these defenses of Official Washington’s old conventional wisdom – blaming the Syrian government – the chief attack line against Hersh is to repeat the initial U.S. government claim of a widespread strike involving multiple rockets.
he thinking then was that only the Syrian government had the capability to launch such a widespread assault. But this claim is outdated. The United Nations inspectors who fanned out across the Ghouta suburb of Damascus recovered only two suspicious rockets – and one was found to be clean of Sarin or any other chemical agent.
The one Sarin-laden rocket, which struck in the Zamalka/Ein Tarma neighborhood, was found to be crudely made and had a maximum range of about 2 to 3 kilometers, meaning that it would have been launched from rebel-controlled areas, not from a government zone.
But conventional wisdom is a difficult thing to shake once many “very important people” have embraced its certainties. Such VIPs don’t like to admit that they were suckered and there are always some aspiring operatives who hope to earn some brownie points by attacking anyone who deviates from the “group think.”
That’s what we’re seeing now as the Obama administration’s case against the Syrian government collapses, not that it was ever very sturdy. There is desperation across Official Washington to try to prop the old narrative back up.
The flimsiness of the administration’s indictment was always apparent. The U.S. “Government Assessment” of the attack, published Aug. 30, was a four-page white paper making unsubstantiated allegations against the Syrian government. No verifiable evidence was presented either then or since then.
The point of the “Government Assessment” itself was to avoid the standard requirement of a National Intelligence Estimate preceding a U.S. military assault on a sovereign country. NIEs represent the consensus view of the 16 intelligence agencies. NIEs also require inclusion of footnotes revealing any dissents.
I was told at the time that there was widespread concern within the U.S. intelligence community that we were witnessing another rush to judgment. Yet, to keep those doubts secret, the Obama administration cobbled together this new creation, a “Government Assessment,” that left out the dissents.
The small package of material released on Aug. 30 did, however, include one significant footnote attached to a map and offering an explanation for why there may have been an initial belief of a more widespread attack.
The footnote read: “Reports of chemical attacks originating from some locations may reflect the movement of patients exposed in one neighborhood to field hospitals and medical facilities in the surrounding area. They may also reflect confusion and panic triggered by the ongoing artillery and rocket barrage, and reports of chemical use in other neighborhoods.”
In other words, even the White House’s white-washing white paper offered a contradictory explanation to what the administration was claiming about the number of neighborhoods struck by the chemical attack of Aug. 21, i.e., victims from one location may have rushed to clinics in other neighborhoods, creating the false impression of a more widespread attack.
More significantly, however, the four-page “Government Assessment” of the case against the Syrian government contained not a single piece of evidence that could be checked independently. It was filled with “we assess” this and “we assess” that. To this day, the Obama administration has not released a shred of evidence that could be examined and evaluated.
Instead, the propaganda approach has been the old tactic of repeating an unproven assertion again and again, knowing that if a charge is declared with sufficient certitude often enough, the weak-minded will simply begin treating it as accepted wisdom. That’s especially easy when the target of the accusations has been thoroughly demonized as is the case with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The ‘Vector Analysis’
The only publicly available evidence implicating the Syrian government was a “vector analysis” produced by Human Rights Watch and the New York Times retracing the flight paths of the two recovered rockets to where their azimuths intersected 9.5 kilometers away at a Syrian military base.
When this analysis was touted last September – including a front-page story in the Times – it was considered the “slam-dunk” proof of the Syrian government’s guilt. Pretty much everyone in the U.S. news media, including many ambitious bloggers, climbed onto the bandwagon and laughed at anyone who wasn’t onboard.
However, the “vector analysis” soon fell apart. First, the rocket that struck Moadamiya, south of Damascus, had clipped a building on the way down so the UN calculation of its azimuth was highly unreliable. Plus, the rocket was found to contain no Sarin, making its inclusion in the vectoring to two Sarin-laden rockets nonsensical.
Even more devastating to the HRW-NYT analysis was the fact that when leading rocket scientists analyzed the capabilities of the home-made device that landed in Zamalka, they concluded that it had a maximum range of about 2 to 3 kilometers.U.S. intelligence experts, such as former CIA analyst Larry Johnson, also noted that the two recovered rockets were not part of the Syrian military’s Order of Battle.
With the “vector analysis” discredited, the New York Times then waited until the Christmas holidays to grudgingly acknowledge – deep in a story, deep inside the paper – that it had been snookered again, an embarrassing replay of its infamous “mushroom cloud” report in 2002 on Iraq’s “aluminum tubes” supposedly showing that Saddam Hussein was building nuclear centrifuges. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Backs Off its Syria-Sarin Analysis.”]
Junk Heap of Bad Evidence
So, with the “slam-dunk evidence” of the “vector analysis” consigned to the giant junk heap of false claims used to justify wars, what was left to support the U.S. government’s indictment of the Syrian regime? Nothing that could be checked out and verified. That, in turn, has left the bloggers defending the Assad-did-it charge recycling old claims that have previously been discarded, such as the notion of multiple rockets carrying Sarin.
Despite the glaring weaknesses of the U.S. government’s case, these blogosphere defenders of the old conventional wisdom are dissecting Hersh’s exposé looking for tiny points to criticize rather than joining in a demand that the Obama administration finally lay whatever evidence it thinks it has on the table.
Nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died because of false and fabricated intelligence disseminated about Iraqi WMD in 2002-03. Yet, almost no one in Official Washington was held accountable.
A decade later, the process came very close to repeating itself. The United States nearly went to war again on what was highly dubious information. If the U.S. political/media establishment is so inept at dealing with reality in such life-or-death situations, a major overhaul of the system is desperately needed.
There are other dangerous implications from Hersh’s article, including the possibility that Syrian jihadists in the Nusra Front with close ties to al-Qaeda have developed the capability to manufacture and deploy Sarin, a powerful chemical weapon that can kill hundreds of people in a matter of minutes.
If that is the case, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry owe it to the public to recant their rush to judgment of last summer and refocus U.S. intelligence on this clear and present danger. Sure, it’s not what Obama and Kerry want to do – admit they misled the people about the certainty of the U.S. government’s case against Assad – but they have a responsibility to put their egos aside and assess what is possibly an actual terrorist threat.
Despite his role in deceiving the world, President Obama does deserve some credit for veering away from another catastrophe at the last moment. Obama accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to have Syria’s government surrender all its chemical weapons, even as Assad continued to deny a role in the Aug. 21 attack.
But the mystery of who gassed the Ghouta suburb of Damascus – killing hundreds of people – is one that deserves a serious examination. If – as Sy Hersh reports – the U.S. government has evidence revealing collaboration between radical jihadists in Syria and Turkish intelligence, that should be revealed regardless of the political discomfort it might cause.
Since terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, victims’ loved ones, injured survivors, and members of the media have all tried without much success to discover the true nature of the relationship between the 19 hijackers – 15 of them Saudi nationals – and the Saudi Arabian government. Many news organizations reported that some of the terrorists were linked to the Saudi royals and that they even may have received financial support from them as well as from several mysterious, moneyed Saudi men living in San Diego.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied any connection, and neither President George W. Bush nor President Obama has been forthcoming on this issue.
But earlier this year, Reps. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., were given access to the 28 redacted pages of the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry (JICI) of 9/11 issued in late 2002, which have been thought to hold some answers about the Saudi connection to the attack.
"I was absolutely shocked by what I read," Jones told International Business Times. "What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me. I cannot go into it any more than that. I had to sign an oath that what I read had to remain confidential. But the information I read disappointed me greatly."
The public may soon also get to see these secret documents. Last week, Jones and Lynch introduced a resolution that urges President Obama to declassify the 28 pages, which were originally classified by President George W. Bush. It has never been fully explained why the pages were blacked out, but President Bush stated in 2003 that releasing the pages would violate national security.
While neither Jones nor Lynch would say just what is in the document, some of the information has leaked out over the years. A multitude of sources tell IBTimes, and numerous press reports over the years in Newsweek, the New York Times, CBS News and other media confirm, that the 28 pages in fact clearly portray that the Saudi government had at the very least an indirect role in supporting the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attack. In addition, these classified pages clarify somewhat the links between the hijackers and at least one Saudi government worker living in San Diego.
Former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who chaired the Joint Inquiry in 2002 and has been beating the drum for more disclosure about 9/11 since then, has never understood why the 28 pages were redacted. Graham told IBTimes that based on his involvement in the investigation and on the now-classified information in the document that his committee produced, he is convinced that “the Saudi government without question was supporting the hijackers who lived in San Diego…. You can't have 19 people living in the United States for, in some cases, almost two years, taking flight lessons and other preparations, without someone paying for it. But I think it goes much broader than that. The agencies from CIA and FBI have suppressed that information so American people don't have the facts."
Jones insists that releasing the 28 secret pages would not violate national security.
“It does not deal with national security per se; it is more about relationships,” he said. “The information is critical to our foreign policy moving forward and should thus be available to the American people. If the 9/11 hijackers had outside help – particularly from one or more foreign governments – the press and the public have a right to know what our government has or has not done to bring justice to the perpetrators."
It took Jones six weeks and several letters to the House Intelligence Committee before the classified pages from the 9/11 report were made available to him. Jones was so stunned by what he saw that he approached Rep. Lynch, asking him to look at the 28 pages as well. He knew that Lynch would be astonished by the contents of the documents and perhaps would join in a bipartisan effort to declassify the papers.
"He came back to me about a week ago and told me that he, too, was very shocked by what he read,” Jones said. “I told him we need to join together and put in a resolution and get more members on both sides of the aisle involved and demand that the White House release this information to the public. The American people have a right to know this information."
A decade ago, 46 senators, led by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., demanded in a letter to President Bush that he declassify the 28 pages.
The letter read, in part, "It has been widely reported in the press that the foreign sources referred to in this portion of the Joint Inquiry analysis reside primarily in Saudi Arabia. As a result, the decision to classify this information sends the wrong message to the American people about our nation's antiterror effort and makes it seem as if there will be no penalty for foreign abettors of the hijackers. Protecting the Saudi regime by eliminating any public penalty for the support given to terrorists from within its borders would be a mistake.... We respectfully urge you to declassify the 28-page section that deals with foreign sources of support for the 9/11 hijackers."
All of the senators who signed that letter but one, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), were Democrats.
Lynch, who won the Democratic primary for his congressional seat on that fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001, told IBTimes that he and Jones are in the process of writing a “Dear Colleague” letter calling on all House members to read the 28 pages and join their effort.
"Once a member reads the 28 pages, I think whether they are Democrat or Republican they will reach the same conclusion that Walter and I reached, which is that Americans have the right to know this information," Lynch said. “These documents speak for themselves. We have a situation where an extensive investigation was conducted, but then the Bush [administration] decided for whatever purposes to excise 28 pages from the report. I'm not passing judgment. That was a different time. Maybe there were legitimate reasons to keep this classified. But that time has long passed.”
Most of the allegations of links between the Saudi government and the 9/11 hijackers revolve around two enigmatic Saudi men who lived in San Diego: Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan, both of whom have long since left the United States.
In early 2000, al-Bayoumi, who had previously worked for the Saudi government in civil aviation (a part of the Saudi defense department), invited two of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, to San Diego from Los Angeles. He told authorities he met the two men by chance when he sat next to them at a restaurant.
Newsweek reported in 2002 that al-Bayoumi’s invitation was extended on the same day that he visited the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles for a private meeting.
Al-Bayoumi arranged for the two future hijackers to live in an apartment and paid $1,500 to cover their first two months of rent. Al-Bayoumi was briefly interviewed in Britain but was never brought back to the United States for questioning.
As for Basnan, Newsweek reported that he received monthly checks for several years totaling as much as $73,000 from the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, and his wife, Princess Haifa Faisal. Although the checks were sent to pay for thyroid surgery for Basnan’s wife, Majeda Dweikat, Dweikat signed many of the checks over to al-Bayoumi’s wife, Manal Bajadr. This money allegedly made its way into the hands of hijackers, according to the 9/11 report.
Despite all this, Basnan was ultimately allowed to return to Saudi Arabia, and Dweikat was deported to Jordan.
Sources and numerous press reports also suggest that the 28 pages include more information about Abdussattar Shaikh, an FBI asset in San Diego who Newsweek reported was friends with al-Bayoumi and invited two of the San Diego-based hijackers to live in his house.
Shaikh was not allowed by the FBI or the Bush administration to testify before the 9/11 Commission or the JICI.
Graham notes that there was a significant 9/11 investigation in Sarasota, Fla., which also suggests a connection between the hijackers and the Saudi government that most Americans don’t know about.
The investigation, which occurred in 2002, focused on Saudi millionaire Abdulaziz al-Hijji and his wife, Anoud, whose upscale home was owned by Anoud al-Hijji’s father, Esam Ghazzawi, an adviser to Prince Fahd bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the nephew of Saudi King Fahd.
The al-Hijji family reportedly moved out of their Sarasota house and left the country abruptly in the weeks before 9/11, leaving behind three luxury cars and personal belongings including clothing, furniture and fresh food. They also left the swimming-pool water circulating.
Numerous news reports in Florida have said that the gated community’s visitor logs and photos of license tags showed that vehicles driven by several of the future 9/11 hijackers had visited the al-Hijji home.
Graham said that like the 28 pages in the 9/11 inquiry, the Sarasota case is being “covered up” by U.S. intelligence. Graham has been fighting to get the FBI to release the details of this investigation with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and litigation. But so far the bureau has stalled and stonewalled, he said.
Lynch said he didn’t know how the Obama administration would respond to the congressional resolution urging declassification, if it passes the House and Senate.
“But if we raise the issue, and get enough members to read it, we think we can get the current administration to revisit this issue. I am very optimistic,” he said. “I’ve talked to some of my Democratic members already, and there has been receptivity there. They have agreed to look at it.”
Obama administration officials declined to comment on the congressional resolution or on the classification of these documents.
The 9/11 Families United for Justice Against Terrorism (JASTA), an activist group comprised of the attack victims, has been calling for the declassification of the 28 pages for more than a decade. The group plans to contact Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, this week to urge her to introduce a similar resolution in the Senate.
Sharon Premoli, a 9/11 survivor who was on the North Tower's 80th floor when the plane hit and is a JASTA member, says Jones and Lynch “share our objectives of seeking the truth behind 9/11 and bringing to justice those who bankrolled the attacks.”
Premoli said it was a “miracle” that she survived 9/11. “I found myself buried under dust and on top of a dead body,” she said. “It makes me angry that I still don’t know what happened or who was supporting these hijackers. The veil of secrecy must be lifted for the families, the survivors and for the American people.
Tamerlan Tsarnev, the accused Boston bomber who was killed, heard voices.
Slain suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev said he heard voices in his head and believed in the concept of influencing others by way of “majestic mind control,” according to a new report.
Journalists at The Boston Globe published this weekend the result of a five-month investigation into the Tsarnaev family, and their report reveals new, never-before-released information about the 26-year-old Chechen boxer who, along with his younger brother Dzhokhar, is accused of orchestrating a terror attack at last April’s Boston Marathon race which killed three and left hundreds injured.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died during a shootout with police days after the event, and his brother is currently awaiting trial in federal court in Massachusetts. With the high-profile terrorist case likely a long way from being settled, little attention has been paid to the story in the months since the dust cleared after the event.
Sally Jacobs, David Filipov, and Patricia Wen of the Globe have spent nearly half a year probing the Tsarnaevs’ past, and with their latest report they raise new questions about the brothers - particularly regarding the mental state of the supposed mastermind, Tamerlan.
“He believed in majestic mind control, which is a way of breaking down a person and creating an alternative personality with which they must coexist," Donald Larking, a 67-year-old man who attended a Boston mosque with the older brother, told the Globe.
Larking said that once he befriended the older Tsarnaev, the two quickly shared their thoughts on conspiracy theories and politics.
“He felt the US should not get involved in other people’s affairs and should stick to its own business,”Larking told the paper. “He did not like the country’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq at all.”
Then before long, Tsarnaev opened up even more.
“As their relationship grew closer, Tamerlan confided in Larking his troubling secret about the voice inside his head,” the Globe reported. “Tamerlan told him that he had been hearing the voice for some time, and that he had a theory of what might be afflicting him.”
“You can give a signal, a phrase or a gesture, and bring out the alternate personality and make them do things. Tamerlan thought someone might have done that to him,” Larking explained.
Others close to the bombing suspect knew about this secret too, but little was seemingly done to treat Tamerlan. He confided to his mother that it “felt like two people” were inside of him, and Larking said those voices got louder with time.
“He was torn between those two people,” said Larking. “He said that several times. And he did not like it.”
A family acquaintance told the Globe that he also believed Tsarnaev was suffering from a form of schizophrenia, which could have been exasperated by his frequent marijuana use and the physical toll of boxing. Tsarnaev’s parents did little to get their son treatment, however, and instead sought assistance for themselves. Anzor Tsarnaev, the boys’ father, reportedly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder that developed after he fled embattled Chechnya “and often woke up screaming or weeping in the middle of the night." He, along with wife Zubeidat, made visits to a psychiatrist.
Their research, the Globe reporters say, “Establishes that the brothers were heirs to a pattern of violence and dysfunction running back several generations.”
Tamerlan's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, worked (works?) for a Chechen rebel aid group out of his father-in-law's house. His father-in-law, Graham Fuller, was a key CIA figure during the Reagan Administration.
John Armstrong, a JFK researcher, wrote a very compelling book, Harvey and Lee. You can read or download a PDF file here. The book makes the case that there were two Oswalds who, from a young age, were groomed by the CIA for an undercover operation, putting agents behind the Iron Curtain. Why two Oswalds? Read the book.
This is a collection of photos of "Lee Harvey Oswald" at various stages of his life. As you can see, the Oswalds on the top row aren't a great match with the ones on the bottom row. But if you only knew Oswald, say, as a guy working in the Book Depository you wouldn't know about someone being Oswald at the same time at, say, a firing range or test-driving a car.
(A tip of the hat to George Bailey for the link to the various doppelgangers.)
I always wonder which conspiracy theories are allowed and which are publicly condemned. And which are ignored.
The grandest conspiracy theory, and the one most beaten back by Officialdom, is the JFK assassination. Even fifty years later most Americans believe there was some kind of conspiracy to kill Kennedy. But the official guardians of reality in the media continue to berate any rational discussion on it. The fact is, and has been known for decades, that someone was impersonating Oswald in Mexico City six weeks before the assassination, trying to connect Oswald to both the Soviet embassy and the Cuban consulate. There's pictures of the guy, who is definitely not the Oswald arrested for JFK's murder. Common sense says that someone impersonating a nobody (and trying to implicate him as part of a conspiracy with foreign enemies) who becomes a somebody six weeks later by allegedly assassinating the President indicates a conspiracy.
There have been plenty of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and anyone who doubts the official story has been branded mentally ill and/or somehow unpatriotic. But as noted here, there is plenty to question about the backgrounds of the hijackers and no discussion erupts in the mainstream media.
The most embraced conspiracy theory in the past fifty years has been Watergate, and by conspiracy I mean the accepted story, that Nixon conspired to spy on the Democrats and then tried to cover things up. It's worth noting that almost every player in the Watergate scandal was connected with our intelligence services, from the burglars (some of whom were wandering around in Dealey Plaza a decade earlier), to those who gave testimony, and even to the official historian of the event, Bob Woodward, who had top secret clearance working at the Pentagon only a few years prior to Watergate.
I bring this up because Seymour Hersh, famed for many investigative reporting coups, has just announced that the whole story surrounding the death of bin Laden was fake. Hersh said this in an interview with Britain's Guardian, which has been the home of Glenn Greenwald and the continuing Snowden saga.
Hersh's first coup was his investigation of My Lai, where he exposed Lieutenant Calley and the slaughter in a Vietnamese hamlet. But how complete was his expose? Most people came away from that story wringing their hands about man's inhumanity to man, or demonizing the individual Americans, like Calley, who were involved in the incident. But a fuller understanding of that incident can be found in Douglas Valentine's The Phoenix Program, which details this in the context of the secret war waged by the CIA in Vietnam. So years later the question should be did Seymour Hersh make full revelations of My Lai, or was he performing what has become known in intelligence circles as a "modified limited hangout", revealing as much as necessary while helping to cover up the bigger story, that the CIA was destroying hundreds of villages this very way during the Vietnam War? If the latter, then Hersh has been less an investigative reporter than a coverup artist for the CIA.
Hersh wrote a particularly bad book on JFK called The Dark Side of Camelot, filled with lots of hearsay and innuendo smearing JFK while ignoring facts pointing to the CIA's murder of Kennedy. This is not an uncommon occurance. Many reporters and writers who seem to be doing the CIA's handiwork have come out periodically with books about "the dark side" of John Kennedy while avoiding any blame for the CIA's role in his murder and coverup. (There are two fine essays, "The Media and the Assassination" and "The Posthumous Assassination of John F. Kennedy", about CIA assets obscuring government involvement in the JFK assassination and the periodical attacks on Kennedy. Both can be found in the book The Assassinations.)
Even if one concludes that Hersh has been a CIA asset over the years while acting to the world as an investigative reporter, why would he say that the whole Osama story was a fake? As is the case in these spy vs. spy media eruptions in the press, it always helps to ask the age-old question: "Cui bono?"
So who benefits from Hersh's story? (Note that I don't even address whether or not it's true. In the greater scheme of things it's unimportant if Osama died during that raid or died five years earlier. Osama's career as a boogeyman justifying American military involvement in Afghanistan were over.) I don't know, but I think that looking at the location of the story, in The Guardian, can provide clues. It's the same source as Greenwald and Snowden.
At the height of the Cold War the world, when it was Us versus Them, the scorecard was easier to decipher. But sabotaging US interests when they diverge from CIA interests get more complicated. One example was the CIA flying a U-2 over the Soviet Union, against Presidential orders, which sabotaged peace talks between the Soviet Union and the US at the end of the Eisenhower years. Another obvious example is the murder of JFK. On reflection it's pretty clear that elements within the CIA wanted to and did sabotage Nixon. After President Carter had his CIA Director put a number of loose cannons out to pasture there was full-fledged mutiny run against the President which has become known as The October Surprise, which begat Iran-contra. It's not surprising that over the next twelve years that former CIA Director George H. W. Bush was either President or Vice President.
So who benefits? I can definitely say who doesn't benefit. Obama. And Obama seems to have been the target of the Greenwald/Snowden revelations, never mind that our government intelligence apparatus has been spying on American citizens over the last sixty years (at least). The Echelon program, for example, has been in place since the nineties. The intrusive spy programs were put in place during the post-9/11 days under George W. Bush. Nevertheless, the tone and direction of Snowden's revelations points very much to President Obama. Likewise, if Obama oversaw the raid on Osama's compound, and it were all a lie, then Obama again gets the blame.
But notice that both things laid at Obama's feet were under the control of our intelligence services. To understand the dynamics of Washington DC one must understand that the CIA has had its own agenda, and has been very much in control of events, especially international events, since the U-2 incident. When a President is consonant with CIA goals it's smooth sailing. When a President isn't in sync with our intelligence interests, things get interesting.
The agency eavesdropped on civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Whitney Young as well as boxing champion Muhammad Ali, New York Times journalist Tom Wicker and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald.
The NSA also monitored the overseas phone calls of two prominent US senators - Democrat Frank Church and Republican Howard Baker.
Many of those targeted were considered to be critics of US involvement in the Vietnam War.
In 1967 the strength of the anti-war campaign led President Lyndon Johnson to ask US intelligence agencies to find out if some protests were being stoked by foreign governments.
The NSA worked with other spy agencies to draw up the "watch lists" of anti-war critics, tapping their phone calls.
The programme continued after Richard Nixon entered the White House in 1969. US Attorney General Elliot Richardson shut down the NSA programme in 1973, just as the Nixon administration was engulfed in the Watergate scandal.
The latest revelations come as the NSA is embroiled in fresh controversy over its surveillance programmes.
US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden recently exposed far-reaching electronic surveillance of phone records and internet traffic by the agency.
Researchers Matthew Aid and William Burr, who published the documents on Wednesday, said the spying abuses during the Vietnam War era far surpassed any excesses of the current programme.
"As shocking as the recent revelations about the NSA's domestic eavesdropping have been, there has been no evidence so far of today's signal intelligence corps taking a step like this, to monitor the White House's political enemies," they wrote.
Sibel Edmunds has some interesting findings on the evidence that the US says proves that Syria used sarin against its own population. You can follow her links and look at the videos yourself.
Key findings are:
(1) Most the footage is of children.
(2) There is almost a total absence of adult corpses next to the bodies of the children.
(3) There is almost a total absence of parents, especially mothers, coming to claim the bodies of the dead children.
(4) There is virtually an absence of the sound of ambulances in the background of the videos.
(5) The testimonies being used against the Syrian government include those of individuals claiming to have smelled the chemical that was used whereas sarin is an odorless gas.
(6) The testimonies that most the victims were found in their homes are at odds with the claims by the same people that most the victims could not be identified.
(7) The same footage is used for videos with different scenarios.
(8) There is different footage that proves that the bodies were being arranged and moved around for display and specifically for filming; for example we see the body of a little boy in a red shirt that was filmed in Zamalka and then in filmed again among different bodies in Jobar and the inanimate bodies of at least nine of the children that filmed in Kafarbatna also oddly appear at makeshift morgue in Al-Majr a few hours later.
(9) The same couple appears as parents looking for their children in two different videos and each time they claim a different child as theirs among the corpses.
(10) The same groups that have been involved with posting and disseminating the videos that the US Intelligence Community has selected have also tried to pass pictures of Egyptian civilians killed in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square as Syrian victims.
(11) Children that are still breathing in Zamalka are just filmed and left alone without medical treatment.
(12) In one video, where it is stated that all the bodies are those of the dead, it can be seen that some of the corpses are being injected by syringes with an unknown liquid.
(13) There is no knowledge or evidence that public funerals took place for the large number of victims that surpasses 1,460 people.
(14) In breach of all cultural norms and last rites, no public announcements about the dead or their funerals were made.
(15) There is no more than 500 people in all the videos, even when all the bodies that appear in different videos are added to the count.
(16) In two videos of the same location with a difference of about one hour and forty minutes the entire medical teams changes in the middle of an emergency.
(17) The identities of the dead have largely been left unknown, especially by the anti-government groups archiving and disseminating their pictures.
(18) In the footage of one burial only eight people are buried and three of them are not even covered in the “compulsory” ritual shrouds.
As a result these questions emerge:
(1) Why such a high rate of dead children?
(2) Why are the bodies of children being displayed with a virtual absence of adult corpses?
(3) When adult corpses are seen, why are the unusually segregated?
(4) Where were the parents?
(5) If the parents died with their children, why are the bodies of adults virtually absence, especially with the bodies of the children?
(6) If the parents were not killed, then where are they? Why are they not looking for their children?
(7) According to the cultural norms and gender scripts of Syrian society, children are almost always found with their mothers. So why is there a relative absence of women and specifically mothers in the US Intelligence Community’s nominated videos?
(8) How was it possible that all these children died alone?
(9) There was virtually no outdoor movement in East Ghouda after the attack. How were all the bodies transported to the burial sites without anyone noticing?
(10) What was being injected into the dead bodies? Do you need to give medication to corpses at a makeshift morgue?
Daniel Hopsicker has done a lot of good investigative work on 9/11. Here are some things you might have missed:
Before discussion about 9/11 was squeezed—in a pincer movement worthy of Hitler’s Panzer divisions—between the so-called “official story” and the subsequent campaign of disinformation that gave conspiracy a bad name, there were some promising avenues of investigation where definitive answers might still be possible.
Here are a few that remain at the top of my list. There are many others.
On the 12th anniversary of the Sept 11 attack there has still been no official investigation into the murders of almost 3000 people that day. The Joint Congressional Intelligence Committee investigation, which met in secret, delivered a report famously containing 28 blank pages.
And anyone looking to the 9/11 Commission for answers had already been disillusioned, even before they issued “findings,“ because they were charged only with identifying what might have been done differently to prevent a future attack.
The FBI’s ballyhooed 4000-man “largest investigation in history” lasted just a little more than three weeks, until someone—we still don’t know who—mailed letters sprinkled with anthrax, changing the focus of the FBI investigation.
Days later, in an order describing the investigation of the terrorist hijackings as "the most exhaustive in its history," FBI Agents were ordered to curtail their investigation of the Sept. 11 attack. Officials said Robert Mueller, newly-sworn in head of the FBI, believed that his agents had a broad understanding of the events of Sept. 11.
"The investigative staff has to be made to understand that we're not trying to solve a crime now," said one law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It was now time to move on."
The order was said to have met with resistance from FBI agents who believed that continued surveillance of suspects might turn up critical evidence to prove who orchestrated the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Before all the breathless talk about missiles and holograms and termites in the World Trade Center took center stage, there had still been a few promising avenues of investigation where definitive answers might be possible without resorting to stadium-sized white noise generators.
According to a flurry of stories between Sept 15 and 17 in the Washington Post, Newsweek, and Knight Ridder newspapers,as many as six of the terrorists, including ringleader Mohammed Atta, received training at U.S. military facilities.
"U.S. military sources have given the FBI information that suggests five of the alleged hijackers of the planes used in Tuesday's terror attacks received training at secure U.S. military installations in the 1990’s," Newsweek reported. Newsweek also reported that three of the hijackers received training at the Pensacola Naval Station in Florida.
"We always, always, always trained other countries' pilots,” a former Navy pilot told Newsweek about his years on the base. “When I was there two decades ago, it was Iranians. The Shah was in power. Whoever the country du jour is, that's whose pilots we train."
Florida Senator Bill Nelson, with an Air Force background, faxed an indignant note to Attorney General Ashcroft demanding to know if it were true. Several weeks later, I called Nelson’s office in Washington, hoping to learn more about thecountry du jour.
"In the wake of those reports we asked about the Pensacola Naval Air Station but we never got a definitive answer from the Justice Department," said a spokesman for Sen. Nelson. "We asked the FBI for an answer ‘if and when’ they could provide us one. Their response to date has been that they are trying to sort through something complicated and difficult."
The Senator had received no reply to his request. "Speaking for Senator Nelson," concluded the spokesman, "we still do not know if three of the terrorists trained at one time in Pensacola or not."
Knight Ridder newspapers reported that Mohamed Atta attended International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. Another terrorist, Abdulaziz Alomari, attended Aerospace Medical School at Brooks Air Force base in Texas. And Saeed Alghamdi had been to the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California.
Official denial was swift, but strangely worded. "Some of the FBI suspects had names similar to those used by foreign alumni of U.S. military courses," said the Air Force in a statement. "However, discrepancies in their biographical data, such as birth dates 20 years off, indicate we are probably not talking about the same people."
"Probably not talking about the same people" does not quite strike the note of certitude we should expect in an investigation into the murder of 3000 more-or-less vaporized human beings. But it was enough for Newsweek, the Washington Post and Knight Ridder to all drop the story.
I didn’t drop the story. I'm funny that way. And several weeks later I reached a Major in the Air Force's Public Affairs Office. She was familiar with the question, she said, because she had read the initial Air Force denial to the media.
"Biographically, they're not the same people," she explained. "Some of the ages are twenty year off."
I told the Major I was only interested in Atta. Was she saying that the age of the Mohamed Atta who attended the Air Force's International Officer's School at Maxwell Air Force Base was different than the reported age of the terrorist Mohamed Atta?
Um, er, no, the Major admitted. Still, she persisted. "Mohamed is a very common name."
I offered that if the Registrar of the International Officer's School provided the name and address of the Mohamed Atta who had attended there, I would call and confirm that he was still alive, just to relieve the Air Force of that burden.
"I don't think you're going to get that information," the Major replied.
She was right. I didn’t.
Still, I pressed her again, probably to the point of rudeness, to provide a few specifics. And I was rewarded when she told me, in exasperation: “I do not have the authority to tell you who (which terrorists) attended which schools.”
It is hard to read this as anything but a back-handed confirmation that somewhere in the Defense Dept, even though she didn’t have the authority to release it, there exists a list with names of Sept. 11 terrorists who received training at U.S. military bases.
Gaining admittance to the International Officer’s School at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery would have required Atta to be extremely well-connected with a friendly Arab government.
I learned just how well-connected after finding the resume of an International Officer’s School graduate from the United Arab Emirates, Colonel and Staff Pilot Mohammed Ahmed Hamel Al Qubaisi, (shown in photo in recent posting as UAE Ambassador to Singapore) posted on the Internet.
Currently, his resume stated, he was a Defense Military Naval & Air Attaché at the United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington, after serving stints in his country’s Embassy & Security Division as Chief of Intelligence, and in the UAE’s Security Division/Air Force Intelligence & Security Directorate as Security Officer.
It’s safe to say that Mr. Al Qubaisi is pretty dialed-in in the UAE, and the furthermost thing from a terrorist. He’s a member of the Arab elite. It even looks like he’s a spook.
And so was Mohamed Atta.
Later I heard from the former wife of a CIA pilot who had worked on Maxwell Air Force Base. “I have a girlfriend who recognized Mohamed Atta when she saw his picture after the attack," she told us.
"She met him at a party at the Officer’s Club. And the reason she swears it was him here is because she didn’t just meet him and say hello. After she met him she went around and introduced him to the people with her. She knows it was him.”
She also said that Saudis were a highly visible presence at Mawell Air Force Base. “There were a lot of them living in an upscale complex in Montgomery. They were all gone the day after the attack.They had to get all of them out of here.”
I called them the “Magic Dutch Boys.” Rudi Dekkers and Arne Kruithof, two Dutch nationals, purchased the two flight schools that trained three of the four terrorist pilots to fly at the tiny Venice Airport, which has an extensive history of CIA involvement,.
When Mohamed Atta and his terrorist cell left Hamburg and moved to Florida, Rudi Dekkers and Wally Hilliard were in the middle of an aggressive European ‘marketing’ campaign, reported the local Venice Gondolier.
"The world is my working place," Dekkers boasted to the paper. His plans were so successful the makeup of the flight school had soon changed, and foreign nationals came to account for over 80 per cent of the students.
Yet Dekkers repeatedly stated Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi—the pilots who brought down the Word Trade Center—just "walked in" off the street into his school.
Dekker’s and Wally Hilliard’s flight schools (they had another 100 miles south in Naples, FL) were annually training four hundred foreign nationals, many if not most from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
Here's a rhetorical question: Does the CIA use foreign contractors to establish plausible deniability in covert operations?
But The New York Times never mentioned anything about it.
Prior to the Sept 11 attack press accounts of Dekkers’ business dealings revealed him to be a fast-talking con man. Afterwards, the hometown Venice Gondolier ran a headline saying he was no stranger to headlines.
"Huffman Aviation Inc. has had problems in the last few months with the city of Venice, Sarasota County and the state of Florida, but the school keeps flying," the paper reported.
Dekkers’ wasn’t paying his rent out at the airport.
"When Huffman Aviation paid three months of overdue rent last Friday, May 12th, company president Rudi Dekkers said the rent wouldn't be late again. "No, we won't have this any more," he said during an interview last Friday." A month later a headline read: “Huffman rent is late again.”
"Huffman Aviation Inc. is again on notice from the city to catch up on its rent payments or face eviction from the airport," the paper wrote on June 9th.
Nothing had changed by mid-July. "For the sixth straight month, Huffman Aviation Inc. has failed to pay its rent to the city on time."
Then, less than one month before 9/ 11, almost miraculously, Dekkers paid the rent.
While they received humiliating newspaper coverage for being deadbeats, Hilliard and Dekkers were launching a commuter airline. Planes and pilots for the venture, known as Florida Air, came from Richard Boehlke, a Gig Harbor, Washington man.
Boehlke was at the same time involved in the massive Mob bust-out in Portland, Oregon of Capital Consultants, a pension fund management company that lost $320 million dollars, much of it from the pension fund of the Laborers Union, called the biggest Mob-run union in America.
"Boehlke would do anything for money, he was so desperate," said an aviation executive who had witnessed Boehlke's descent. "I’m surprised he hasn’t skipped the country by now, what with all the trouble he’s gotten himself into farting around with those Mafia boys down in Portland."
A major recipient of the largesse of the busted-out Capital Consultants was Alvin Malnick, whom Readers Digest once called "Meyer Lansky’s heir as head of Organized Crime."
In “Welcome to TerrorLand” I dubbed him “Alvin of Arabia, because he moved to Saudi Arabia and converted to Islam while doing some business with the King.
There is also the little matter of the bust of Wally Hilliard's Lear jet with 43 lns of heroin in Orlando in late July of 2000, just a few weeks after Atta arrived to attend his flight school. The DEA Agents on the scene later went before a Federal Judge to make sure Hilliard didn't get his Learjet back by pleading he was an "innocent owner."
If you’re looking for connections between the 9/11 hijackers, drug traffickers, and international organized crime, you need look no further than Huffman Aviation.
Yet The New York Times never mentioned anything about it.
Author John Armstrong, who wrote the best book for understanding who killed JFK, Harvey and Lee (the entire thousand pages can be downloaded here for free), has an article about the divergent and simultaneous lives of two boys who used the identity "Lee Harvey Oswald". That article is here. Read it and if you find this interesting follow the other link for the entire book.