SAUDI ARABIA AND CIA BEHIND TERROR BOMBINGS IN SOUTHERN RUSSIA?

By Bill Van Auken

Back-to-back terrorist bombings in the southern Russian city of Volgograd killed at least 32 people over the weekend and left nearly 70 more wounded, many seriously, in the space of less than 24 hours. The shocking attacks have led to a massive security crackdown throughout the country

The first of the two suicide bomb attacks took place on Sunday at Volgograd’s main train station, killing at least 17 people and wounding over 40 more. The attack was timed for the peak travel period on the eve of the New Year, Russia’s most important holiday. Authorities reported that the bomb was detonated in a crowd in front of the station’s metal detectors. The Moscow Times identified a suspect in the suicide bombing as Pavel Pechyonkin, a paramedic with an ambulance service who converted to Islam and left home to join Dagestani Islamist militants.

Monday’s bomb ripped through a packed trolley-bus during morning rush hour, throwing bodies, body parts and clothing onto the city street. Fifteen were reported killed in this second bombing, with nearly another 30 injured.

Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee, told the media that the two bombs appeared nearly identical, suggesting a common source for the attacks. Referring to the trolley-bus bomb, he said: “Like the bomb at the railway station, it was packed with shrapnel. Since the strike elements are identical in the two bombs, it confirms the theory that the two attacks are linked. It is possible they were prepared in the same place.”

While no group has claimed responsibility for the two bombings, the suicide bomber identified in the train station attack had declared his allegiance to the Caucasus Emirate, an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group active in Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia and elsewhere in the region. The organization has claimed responsibility for previous mass terror attacks, including the March 2010 Moscow metro bombings that killed at least 40 people and the February 2011 suicide bombing at Moscow’s international airport that left another 37 dead.

Volgograd was itself the scene of one of the most recent previous terrorist attacks last October, in which a woman from Dagestan blew herself up on a bus, killing seven people.

Dokka Umarov, the self-declared emir of the Caucasus Emirate, issued a video in July calling upon his followers to “do their utmost” to derail the Sochi Olympics with a new round of attacks.

The stated aim of the organization is to create a separate Muslim state across the North Caucasus. The region was thrown into turmoil with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism in 1991. Since then, it has seen two wars in Chechnya (1994-1996 and 1999-2006), which claimed the lives of some 80,000 people, most of them civilians.

Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, the site of the massive battle that turned the tide against Nazi Germany in World War II 70 years ago, was placed on virtual lockdown in the wake of the bombings, as security measures were implemented throughout the country in advance of New Year’s celebrations. In Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second city, a planned fireworks display was cancelled.

The bombings triggered calls for a law-and-order crackdown from sections of the Russian media, as well as anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant agitation. Police dispersed a demonstration organized by Russian nationalists in Volgograd in the wake of Monday’s attacks, telling protesters that they were only creating another target for terrorist attacks.

Pravda.ru quoted a former colonel in the Russian Federal Security Bureau as saying, “We need to do what Americans do. We have to keep tabs on each and every person. This technology that Snowden exposed—prevention and control—has a real effect.”

Komsomolskaya Pravda, a pro-government tabloid, carried a piece calling for not only the death penalty for those accused of organizing terrorist attacks, but the jailing of their families as well. “We are left with no choice apart from declaring zero tolerance regarding terrorists and members of their families,” the article stated.

The latest attacks have triggered assurances from the government of President Vladimir Putin that it can secure the Winter Olympic games set to take place within six weeks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, about 435 miles south of Volgograd. Plans call for the deployment of some 30,000 police and troops and turning the town of 345,000 into a sealed-off fortress, with a security zone extending 60 miles along the Black Sea coast and 25 miles inland.

The bombings elicited statements of “solidarity” and condolences from the Obama administration in Washington as well as the governments of David Cameron and François Hollande in London and Paris.

For its part, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the attacks in Russia were of the same character as those carried out in the US, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and other countries. It likewise implicitly called attention to the backing given by those declaring their “solidarity” with Moscow for the terrorist elements unleashed against the governments of Libya and Syria.

“The position of some politicians and political strategists, who are still trying to divide terrorists as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ones, depending on current geopolitical aims, is becoming evidently mischievous,” the ministry stated. “Terrorism is always a crime and the punishment for it must be inevitable.”

There has been open speculation in the Russian press that the latest terror attacks are the work of US-backed regimes in the Middle East in retaliation for Moscow’s diplomatic success in diverting Washington from a direct military intervention to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

“There is no doubt that the Salafist regimes of the Persian Gulf, primarily Saudi Arabia, have been supporting Islamic terrorism in Russia,” wrote Kirill Benediktov in Izvestiya. “Russia is now strong enough to afford unfriendly measures towards the regimes that have been using the Wahhabi fifth column in order to destabilize the situation in our country.”

It is estimated that at least 400 Russian Islamists, most of them from the North Caucasus, are currently fighting with the US-backed “rebels” in Syria. The Putin government has warned that their return to Russia poses a threat of even more terrorist attacks.

The bombings have called renewed attention to the discussion held last July between Putin and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the intelligence chief of the US-backed monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which has served as the main base of support for the Islamist insurgents in Syria.

According to a transcript of the discussion leaked to the media, Bandar demanded that the Russian government terminate all support for the Assad regime in Syria. In return, he offered a joint energy strategy to prop up oil prices and other inducements.

Most critically, the Saudi prince told Putin he could ensure that no terrorist attacks would disrupt the Sochi Olympics.

“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year,” said Bandar. “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”

At the time, Bandar claimed to be speaking not only for the Saudi monarchy, but also for its chief ally, the United States.

Putin rejected the proposed deal, declaring Saudi support for the Russian Islamists unacceptable. He reportedly vowed that Russia would strike a “massive military blow” against terrorist training camps. Some analysts interpreted the remark as a threat of military action against Saudi Arabia itself.

Given that the Saudi prince claimed to be able to turn North Caucasus terrorism on and off like a faucet, the obvious question raised by the latest bombings is whether the Saudi monarchy, acting either in concert with the CIA or independently, has now given the green light for the kind of horrific attacks seen in Volgograd, in retaliation for the reversals suffered by their proxies in Syria.

WHY DID THE CIA LET A CRAZED AL-QAEDA MOB KILL AMERICA’S AMBASSADOR?

  • Moment by moment, the atrocity that’s sent the U.S. into a frenzy of suspicion and recrimination   

  • The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked on September 11, 2012   

  • A group of armed jihadists attacked the building and set it alight   

  • Four people died in the attack, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens

By Tony Rennell | Daily Mail

Fumbling in the dark, the American ambassador hurriedly pulled on bullet-proof body armour over his blue trousers and T-shirt. A shrill warning siren was sounding and the crash of gunshots could be heard, getting closer by the second.

‘Follow me, sir,’ urged a diplomatic bodyguard, gripping his M4 assault rifle, shouldering an additional pump-action shotgun and looking anxiously around him as they set out along blacked-out corridors. ‘We are under attack.’

It was 9.40pm in the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the second city of strife-torn Libya, a country trying to re-build itself in the aftermath of civil war and the ousting and killing of its mad dictator, Colonel Gaddafi.

Under fire: An armed jihadist waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012

Under fire: An armed jihadist waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012

 

The year was 2012 and the date hugely significant for the American and Arab worlds alike — September 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 attack by Islamic terrorists on the Twin Towers in New York.

To mark it, one of the many rogue militia armies that were now ripping Libya apart as the so-called Arab Spring turned sour fired up a mob to launch a murderous assault on this vulnerable U.S. outpost.

It was an attack that would not only cost American lives, but bring embarrassment and humiliation to the Obama White House that it has not been able to shrug off.

Heavily armed and flying the black flags of Al Qaeda, the terrorists arrived en masse at the eight-acre Mission Compound, whose outer defences — manned by local guards of doubtful loyalty — collapsed all too easily in the initial onslaught. A rocket-propelled grenade took out the front door of the ambassadors’ residence, and they were in.

As men poured through the opening, the safety of Ambassador Chris Stevens — who had flown into Benghazi for a week of talks with political leaders, businessmen and officials in the hope of bringing some peace and order to the troubled and violent city — was top priority for the handful of special agents of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service who were guarding him.

Tragedy: Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff were killed in Libya on September 11th last year

Tragedy: Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff were killed in Libya on September 11th last year

 

 

Stevens, 52, was a highly respected Arabist, a top-notch diplomat and an acknowledged friend of Libya. He believed fervently that with U.S. help the country would flourish.

But in Libya’s political and religious ferment, that made him a target. The Benghazi mission was a nervy place to be.

It had been set up in a hurry in response to the fast-moving political situation, with the result that basic security measures were far short of the norm in U.S. establishments in the Middle East.

Shockingly, Washington knew this. Just weeks earlier, agents on the ground in Libya had sent an emergency message detailing their fears that the post was under-manned, under-gunned and under-resourced, and was not capable of withstanding a major terrorist attack.

There were, for example, no sprinklers, smoke hoods and anti-fire foam. But nothing had been done, and it was now too late.

At least, though, there was a specially built safe haven at the heart of the main residence building, and it was into this room that the bodyguard bundled Stevens and an aide, 34-year-old Sean Smith, a communications wizard, and locked all three of them in behind its steel mesh gate, with a sense of relief.

‘Package and one guest secure, hunkered down,’ he reported on his hand-held radio to colleagues manning a command centre in a neighbouring barracks building.

All the three could do was wait until rescue arrived. They could only hope that help would reach them before the murderous bunch now ransacking the residence did.

What happened next was, for all the courage of the men involved, a catalogue of disaster and death. The events of that night have now been told for the first time in a new gung-ho, all-guns-blazing account.

As foreign governments debate the merits of strikes on the Assad regime in Syria, the book is a timely reminder of how American intervention in Middle Eastern trouble spots seems doomed to backfire, however well intentioned. In the eyes of fundamentalists in those regions, the U.S. is Satan — an enemy to be attacked and humiliated at any cost.

As Ambassador Stevens sat on the floor in the safe room making calls on his BlackBerry to local leaders pleading in vain for their help, he must have felt his dream of a free, regenerated and peaceful Libya going up in smoke.

Literally smoke, because by now the building was on fire, deliberately set alight by the dozens of armed intruders, some of whom had now reached the safe room and were peering menacingly through the grille.

Inside, the three Americans lay low, quiet and out of sight. The bodyguard — unnamed in the book for security reasons and identified only as Agent A — panned his gun sight at one screaming balaclavaed head after another as they appeared at the grille but held his fire rather than reveal their presence in what was now becoming a rapidly heating oven rather than a haven.

A stifling heat built up within the safe room, as clouds of black, acrid smoke crept in. On his knees, the bodyguard crawled through the choking darkness to what was now the only possible exit — a small iron-grilled window in the adjoining bathroom.

With great difficulty, he heaved it open and pulled himself out onto the roof of the building, signalling to Stevens and Smith to follow, believing they were right behind him. He coughed repeatedly to clear his soot-caked lungs and then stretched his arm back through the window to haul the other two out.

No hand came to meet his. There was no sign of either of them.  They were lost in the choking smoke.

Bravely Agent A — his hands already scorched, his lungs hardly able to draw breath — plunged back into the smoke and flames to find them, not just once but five, six times. Each time he re-emerged to gasp a few lungfuls of air, bullets cracked around him from gunmen on the ground.

Good work: Christopher Stevens was a pro-Libya ambassador who believed the country could stabilise and develop with the help from the U.S.

Good work: Christopher Stevens was a pro-Libya ambassador who believed the country could stabilise and develop with the help from the U.S.

 

Frantic at having failed in a diplomatic guard’s number one priority, he yelled into his radio. ‘I don’t have the ambassador,’ he shouted at the embassy compound’s control centre.

The agents there were under siege too, barricaded in and surrounded by hostile fire. Now they gathered their strength, cleared the area outside the control centre with a grenade and then charged out, shooting at anyone who lingered.

Three of them made it across open ground to the residence and onto the roof where a distressed Agent A was still trying to rescue the Ambassador and his aide.

Soaking their shirts in water and wrapping them round their faces, they took over the search for the missing men, both by now certainly unconscious inside the smoke-filled safe room, their lives hanging in the balance.

Mercifully, help was at last coming.

A mile away was a heavily-fortified building used by the CIA for covert intelligence-gathering in Benghazi.  Half the staff there were Special Forces veterans — now racing to the embassy, battering their way through road blocks and hails of hostile gunfire in armoured Mercedes 4x4s.

Equipped with full battle kit, they took back control of the Mission Compound, forcing the marauders out. But for how long?

In the streets outside, more gunmen, dissidents and demonstrators were massing, chanting their bloodlust like hyped-up fans at a football match.

‘Today we have attacked the infidels and avenged the honour of Islam,’ a voice screamed through a microphone. ‘Let’s go and finish the job!’

Meanwhile, back inside the safe room, the lifeless body of Sean Smith had at last been found and was  carried out. But there was still no sign of Ambassador Stevens.

What if he had been captured? Visions of America’s diplomatic envoy being held for ransom, tortured, beheaded on film even — all recent fates of U.S. citizens who had fallen into jihadist hands — flashed through anxious minds. The search went on.

The mob, though, was pushing at the gates again, firing bullets into the compound, eager for a battle, hundreds of them against a dozen Americans. They swarmed into the grounds in the darkness. U.S. snipers fired, leaving casualties strewn on the manicured lawns, but still the mob came on, an unstoppable tide of hate.

There was no choice left for the Americans. They had to retreat or die.

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was set alight on the evening of September 11, and the armed group returned the following day, with deadly results

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was set alight on the evening of September 11, and the armed group returned the following day, with deadly results

 

Leaving without having found Ambassador Stevens was a terrible decision for the diplomatic service agents. Even supposing the man it was their job to protect was dead, there was the gut-wrenching prospect of his body falling into terrorist hands and being dragged through the streets, U.S. pride trampled in the dust.

But that thought had to be put aside. Escape was the only option. Cramming into armoured Land Cruisers, they pushed their way out of the compound and down roads filled with heavily armed men.

They exchanged machine gun fire with the mob and swerved to avoid volleys of grenades. The tyres were torn to shreds as they screamed round corners flat out until they screeched into the safety of the CIA base.

It was over, a chance now to tend their wounds . . . or was it?

The insurgents had not given up. If anything, they were more enraged and more determined than ever at having let their quarry get away.

They surrounded the CIA outpost in alarming numbers wielding machine guns and grenade launchers. As explosions rocked its walls, it was in real danger of being overrun.

The defence line was paper thin — just a handful of American snipers in vantage points on the roof as overhead, a U.S. Predator drone cruising backwards and forwards sent back to the defenders vivid images of the sheer scale of the attack being mounted against them.

Not even the seven-man hit squad of trained commandoes that had finally made it by air from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, the capital city, to back up the Americans in Benghazi could swing the situation in their favour.

Short of all 34 of them dying where they stood in a last-ditch Alamo defence, they would have to get out.

Frantically, nervous CIA agents shredded classified files and took sledgehammers to computers and hard drives brimming with secrets, anxious that nothing should fall into enemy hands.

As preparations were made to break out of the compound, another furious attack began, this time with an even deadlier weapon — mortars.

Perched up on a roof, two former Navy Seals, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were picking off the attackers with their Mk 46 automatics when a mortar shell hit their position. Woods died instantly, his friend Doherty seconds later, killed by another mortar round. Shrapnel cut down other defenders.

Dawn was breaking, and in the early morning light the next onslaught could well be final.

The battle was about to be lost, Americans slaughtered, their nation humbled. But the Libyan army saved the day. As the sun rose, Special Forces soldiers from its Military Intelligence section came barrelling in with orders to get the Americans out of the country as quickly as possible. The terrorist mob was driven back.

As the Muslim morning call to prayer echoed around Benghazi, 32 weary survivors packed themselves and crate-loads of CIA equipment into a convoy of vehicles and drove under escort to the airport for a rapid exit from this place of destruction and death. They carried with them the bodies of Smith, Doherty and Woods.

Destruction: The consulate was completely destroyed in the attack - a raid which Washington had been warned could come, and that the resources were not there to protects it should it happen

Destruction: The consulate was completely destroyed in the attack – a raid which Washington had been warned could come, and that the resources were not there to protects it should it happen

 

But what of Ambassador Stevens? He had choked to death in the flames of his residence, his body unrecovered by his team.

At the now deserted Mission Complex, looters wandered into the still burning remains of the ambassador’s home. Abandoned weapons, furniture, iPods, mobile phones, the ambassador’s clothes, his luggage, cigars, bottles of water — everything was carried off in triumph.

Eventually they forced their way into the safe room — and there was Stevens’s blackened body. It was carried out, laid on the ground, propped up to be photographed and the pictures flashed around the world to be gawped at.

Much worse indignities could well have been heaped on it. Twenty years earlier, the corpse of an American soldier had been dragged through Mogadishu in Somalia. The photograph was seen all over the world.

Instead, local Libyan men — dressed in jeans and football shirts rather than the jihadists’ uniform of dark shirts and combat trousers — lifted the ambassador’s body into a car to rush it to Benghazi’s main hospital. There doctors worked for 90 minutes in a desperate attempt to resuscitate him.

It was a futile task, but the fact that it was attempted at all in the circumstances is a surprise.

Even now there were Libyans who wanted to distance themselves from the terrorists and send a message to Washington that not everyone in that benighted country was its enemy.

Stevens’s remains were taken to the airport, loaded on a plane and, along with the other three bodies and the survivors, flown out. The Benghazi raid was over — but its aftermath haunts U.S. foreign policy.

In a speech paying tribute to those who died, President Barack Obama was emphatic that the U.S. would not be deterred from its global mission. But his John Wayne confidence in America as the world’s policeman has now backfired.

His allies edge away from intervention in Syria, and U.S. voters show an understandable reluctance for their country’s soldiers and diplomats to put their lives at risk in far off desert nations.

A year on, the Benghazi raid is the focus of bitter contention in the U.S., where accusations are made by senators and conspiracy theorists alike that the Obama administration covered up — and continues to obscure — failings that led to an ambassador and three other Americans dying in such horrendous circumstances.

Why was the attack not anticipated by intelligence sources? Why were warnings ignored that the mission building was inadequate for its job?

Was the response from Washington on the night in question bungled? What precisely did the President know and when? Or did he sleep though the whole thing?

The questions seem even more pointed in the light of allegations that the survivors have allegedly been silenced.

Under this continuing cloud of suspicion, the damage caused by the insurgents in Benghazi that fearful night may sadly end up running far deeper than even the most hardened jihadist fanatic could have imagined.

A TIMELINE OF CIA ATROCITIES

By Steve Kangas

The following timeline describes just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA. (1)

CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: “We’ll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.” The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination. These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be “communists,” but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.

This scenario has been repeated so many times that the CIA actually teaches it in a special school, the notorious “School of the Americas.” (It opened in Panama but later moved to Fort Benning, Georgia.) Critics have nicknamed it the “School of the Dictators” and “School of the Assassins.” Here, the CIA trains Latin American military officers how to conduct coups, including the use of interrogation, torture and murder.

The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. (2) Former State Department official William Blum correctly calls this an “American Holocaust.”

The CIA justifies these actions as part of its war against communism. But most coups do not involve a communist threat. Unlucky nations are targeted for a wide variety of reasons: not only threats to American business interests abroad, but also liberal or even moderate social reforms, political instability, the unwillingness of a leader to carry out Washington’s dictates, and declarations of neutrality in the Cold War. Indeed, nothing has infuriated CIA Directors quite like a nation’s desire to stay out of the Cold War.

The ironic thing about all this intervention is that it frequently fails to achieve American objectives. Often the newly installed dictator grows comfortable with the security apparatus the CIA has built for him. He becomes an expert at running a police state. And because the dictator knows he cannot be overthrown, he becomes independent and defiant of Washington’s will. The CIA then finds it cannot overthrow him, because the police and military are under the dictator’s control, afraid to cooperate with American spies for fear of torture and execution. The only two options for the U.S at this point are impotence or war. Examples of this “boomerang effect” include the Shah of Iran, General Noriega and Saddam Hussein. The boomerang effect also explains why the CIA has proven highly successful at overthrowing democracies, but a wretched failure at overthrowing dictatorships.

The following timeline should confirm that the CIA as we know it should be abolished and replaced by a true information-gathering and analysis organization. The CIA cannot be reformed — it is institutionally and culturally corrupt.

1929

The culture we lost — Secretary of State Henry Stimson refuses to endorse a code-breaking operation, saying, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.”

1941

COI created — In preparation for World War II, President Roosevelt creates the Office of Coordinator of Information (COI). General William “Wild Bill” Donovan heads the new intelligence service.

1942

OSS created — Roosevelt restructures COI into something more suitable for covert action, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Donovan recruits so many of the nation’s rich and powerful that eventually people joke that “OSS” stands for “Oh, so social!” or “Oh, such snobs!”

1943

Italy — Donovan recruits the Catholic Church in Rome to be the center of Anglo-American spy operations in Fascist Italy. This would prove to be one of America’s most enduring intelligence alliances in the Cold War.

1945

OSS is abolished — The remaining American information agencies cease covert actions and return to harmless information gathering and analysis.

Operation PAPERCLIP – While other American agencies are hunting down Nazi war criminals for arrest, the U.S. intelligence community is smuggling them into America, unpunished, for their use against the Soviets. The most important of these is Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s master spy who had built up an intelligence network in the Soviet Union. With full U.S. blessing, he creates the “Gehlen Organization,” a band of refugee Nazi spies who reactivate their networks in Russia.

These include SS intelligence officers Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg (who massacred Jews in the Holocaust), Klaus Barbie (the “Butcher of Lyon”), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked with Eichmann) and SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny (a personal friend of Hitler’s). The Gehlen Organization supplies the U.S. with its only intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next ten years, serving as a bridge between the abolishment of the OSS and the creation of the CIA. However, much of the “intelligence” the former Nazis provide is bogus. Gehlen inflates Soviet military capabilities at a time when Russia is still rebuilding its devastated society, in order to inflate his own importance to the Americans (who might otherwise punish him). In 1948, Gehlen almost convinces the Americans that war is imminent, and the West should make a preemptive strike. In the 50s he produces a fictitious “missile gap.” To make matters worse, the Russians have thoroughly penetrated the Gehlen Organization with double agents, undermining the very American security that Gehlen was supposed to protect.

1947

Greece — President Truman requests military aid to Greece to support right-wing forces fighting communist rebels. For the rest of the Cold War, Washington and the CIA will back notorious Greek leaders with deplorable human rights records.

CIA created — President Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. The CIA is accountable to the president through the NSC — there is no democratic or congressional oversight. Its charter allows the CIA to “perform such other functions and duties… as the National Security Council may from time to time direct.” This loophole opens the door to covert action and dirty tricks.

1948

Covert-action wing created — The CIA recreates a covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination, led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities include “propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”

Italy — The CIA corrupts democratic elections in Italy, where Italian communists threaten to win the elections. The CIA buys votes, broadcasts propaganda, threatens and beats up opposition leaders, and infiltrates and disrupts their organizations. It works — the communists are defeated.

1949

Radio Free Europe — The CIA creates its first major propaganda outlet, Radio Free Europe. Over the next several decades, its broadcasts are so blatantly false that for a time it is considered illegal to publish transcripts of them in the U.S.

Late 40s

Operation MOCKINGBIRD — The CIA begins recruiting American news organizations and journalists to become spies and disseminators of propaganda. The effort is headed by Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham is publisher of The Washington Post, which becomes a major CIA player. Eventually, the CIA’s media assets will include ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Copley News Service and more. By the CIA’s own admission, at least 25 organizations and 400 journalists will become CIA assets.

1953

Iran – CIA overthrows the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh in a military coup, after he threatened to nationalize British oil. The CIA replaces him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran, whose secret police, SAVAK, is as brutal as the Gestapo.

Operation MK-ULTRA — Inspired by North Korea’s brainwashing program, the CIA begins experiments on mind control. The most notorious part of this project involves giving LSD and other drugs to American subjects without their knowledge or against their will, causing several to commit suicide. However, the operation involves far more than this. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, research includes propaganda, brainwashing, public relations, advertising, hypnosis, and other forms of suggestion.

1954

Guatemala — CIA overthrows the democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in a military coup. Arbenz has threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 years.

1954-1958

North Vietnam — CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA’s continuing failure results in escalating American intervention, culminating in the Vietnam War.

1956

Hungary — Radio Free Europe incites Hungary to revolt by broadcasting Khruschev’s Secret Speech, in which he denounced Stalin. It also hints that American aid will help the Hungarians fight. This aid fails to materialize as Hungarians launch a doomed armed revolt, which only invites a major Soviet invasion. The conflict kills 7,000 Soviets and 30,000 Hungarians.

1957-1973

Laos — The CIA carries out approximately one coup per year trying to nullify Laos’ democratic elections. The problem is the Pathet Lao, a leftist group with enough popular support to be a member of any coalition government. In the late 50s, the CIA even creates an “Armee Clandestine” of Asian mercenaries to attack the Pathet Lao. After the CIA’s army suffers numerous defeats, the U.S. starts bombing, dropping more bombs on Laos than all the U.S. bombs dropped in World War II. A quarter of all Laotians will eventually become refugees, many living in caves.

1959

Haiti — The U.S. military helps “Papa Doc” Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the “Tonton Macoutes,” who terrorize the population with machetes. They will kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.

1961

The Bay of Pigs — The CIA sends 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro’s Cuba. But “Operation Mongoose” fails, due to poor planning, security and backing. The planners had imagined that the invasion will spark a popular uprising against Castro -– which never happens. A promised American air strike also never occurs. This is the CIA’s first public setback, causing President Kennedy to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles.

Dominican Republic — The CIA assassinates Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator Washington has supported since 1930. Trujillo’s business interests have grown so large (about 60 percent of the economy) that they have begun competing with American business interests.

Ecuador — The CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man.

Congo (Zaire) — The CIA assassinates the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba. However, public support for Lumumba’s politics runs so high that the CIA cannot clearly install his opponents in power. Four years of political turmoil follow.

1963

Dominican Republic — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Juan Bosch in a military coup. The CIA installs a repressive, right-wing junta.

Ecuador — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows President Arosemana, whose independent (not socialist) policies have become unacceptable to Washington. A military junta assumes command, cancels the 1964 elections, and begins abusing human rights.

1964

Brazil — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco will create Latin America’s first death squads, or bands of secret police who hunt down “communists” for torture, interrogation and murder. Often these “communists” are no more than Branco’s political opponents. Later it is revealed that the CIA trains the death squads.

1965

Indonesia — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Sukarno with a military coup. The CIA has been trying to eliminate Sukarno since 1957, using everything from attempted assassination to sexual intrigue, for nothing more than his declaring neutrality in the Cold War. His successor, General Suharto, will massacre between 500,000 to 1 million civilians accused of being “communist.” The CIA supplies the names of countless suspects.

Dominican Republic — A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country’s elected leader. The revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.

Greece — With the CIA’s backing, the king removes George Papandreous as prime minister. Papandreous has failed to vigorously support U.S. interests in Greece.

Congo (Zaire) — A CIA-backed military coup installs Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator. The hated and repressive Mobutu exploits his desperately poor country for billions.

1966

The Ramparts Affair — The radical magazine Ramparts begins a series of unprecedented anti-CIA articles. Among their scoops: the CIA has paid the University of Michigan $25 million dollars to hire “professors” to train South Vietnamese students in covert police methods. MIT and other universities have received similar payments. Ramparts also reveals that the National Students’ Association is a CIA front. Students are sometimes recruited through blackmail and bribery, including draft deferments.

1967

Greece — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government two days before the elections. The favorite to win was George Papandreous, the liberal candidate. During the next six years, the “reign of the colonels” — backed by the CIA — will usher in the widespread use of torture and murder against political opponents. When a Greek ambassador objects to President Johnson about U.S. plans for Cypress, Johnson tells him: “Fuck your parliament and your constitution.”

Operation PHEONIX — The CIA helps South Vietnamese agents identify and then murder alleged Viet Cong leaders operating in South Vietnamese villages. According to a 1971 congressional report, this operation killed about 20,000 “Viet Cong.”

1968

Operation CHAOS — The CIA has been illegally spying on American citizens since 1959, but with Operation CHAOS, President Johnson dramatically boosts the effort. CIA agents go undercover as student radicals to spy on and disrupt campus organizations protesting the Vietnam War. They are searching for Russian instigators, which they never find. CHAOS will eventually spy on 7,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations.

Bolivia — A CIA-organized military operation captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara. The CIA wants to keep him alive for interrogation, but the Bolivian government executes him to prevent worldwide calls for clemency.

1969

Uruguay — The notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione arrives in Uruguay, a country torn with political strife. Whereas right-wing forces previously used torture only as a last resort, Mitrione convinces them to use it as a routine, widespread practice. “The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect,” is his motto. The torture techniques he teaches to the death squads rival the Nazis’. He eventually becomes so feared that revolutionaries will kidnap and murder him a year later.

1970

Cambodia — The CIA overthrows Prince Sahounek, who is highly popular among Cambodians for keeping them out of the Vietnam War. He is replaced by CIA puppet Lon Nol, who immediately throws Cambodian troops into battle. This unpopular move strengthens once minor opposition parties like the Khmer Rouge, which achieves power in 1975 and massacres millions of its own people.

1971

Bolivia — After half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Torres. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed.

Haiti — “Papa Doc” Duvalier dies, leaving his 19-year old son “Baby Doc” Duvalier the dictator of Haiti. His son continues his bloody reign with full knowledge of the CIA.

1972

The Case-Zablocki Act — Congress passes an act requiring congressional review of executive agreements. In theory, this should make CIA operations more accountable. In fact, it is only marginally effective.

Cambodia — Congress votes to cut off CIA funds for its secret war in Cambodia.

Wagergate Break-in — President Nixon sends in a team of burglars to wiretap Democratic offices at Watergate. The team members have extensive CIA histories, including James McCord, E. Howard Hunt and five of the Cuban burglars. They work for the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), which does dirty work like disrupting Democratic campaigns and laundering Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions. CREEP’s activities are funded and organized by another CIA front, the Mullen Company.

1973

Chile — The CIA overthrows and assassinates Salvador Allende, Latin America’s first democratically elected socialist leader. The problems begin when Allende nationalizes American-owned firms in Chile. ITT offers the CIA $1 million for a coup (reportedly refused). The CIA replaces Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who will torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders and the political left.

CIA begins internal investigations — William Colby, the Deputy Director for Operations, orders all CIA personnel to report any and all illegal activities they know about. This information is later reported to Congress.

Watergate Scandal — The CIA’s main collaborating newspaper in America, The Washington Post, reports Nixon’s crimes long before any other newspaper takes up the subject. The two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, make almost no mention of the CIA’s many fingerprints all over the scandal. It is later revealed that Woodward was a Naval intelligence briefer to the White House, and knows many important intelligence figures, including General Alexander Haig. His main source, “Deep Throat,” is probably one of those.

CIA Director Helms Fired — President Nixon fires CIA Director Richard Helms for failing to help cover up the Watergate scandal. Helms and Nixon have always disliked each other. The new CIA director is William Colby, who is relatively more open to CIA reform.

1974

CHAOS exposed — Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh publishes a story about Operation CHAOS, the domestic surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and civil rights groups in the U.S. The story sparks national outrage.

Angleton fired — Congress holds hearings on the illegal domestic spying efforts of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s chief of counterintelligence. His efforts included mail-opening campaigns and secret surveillance of war protesters. The hearings result in his dismissal from the CIA.

House clears CIA in Watergate — The House of Representatives clears the CIA of any complicity in Nixon’s Watergate break-in.

The Hughes Ryan Act — Congress passes an amendment requiring the president to report nonintelligence CIA operations to the relevant congressional committees in a timely fashion.

1975

Australia — The CIA helps topple the democratically elected, left-leaning government of Prime Minister Edward Whitlam. The CIA does this by giving an ultimatum to its Governor-General, John Kerr. Kerr, a longtime CIA collaborator, exercises his constitutional right to dissolve the Whitlam government. The Governor-General is a largely ceremonial position appointed by the Queen; the Prime Minister is democratically elected. The use of this archaic and never-used law stuns the nation.

Angola — Eager to demonstrate American military resolve after its defeat in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger launches a CIA-backed war in Angola. Contrary to Kissinger’s assertions, Angola is a country of little strategic importance and not seriously threatened by communism. The CIA backs the brutal leader of UNITAS, Jonas Savimbi. This polarizes Angolan politics and drives his opponents into the arms of Cuba and the Soviet Union for survival. Congress will cut off funds in 1976, but the CIA is able to run the war off the books until 1984, when funding is legalized again. This entirely pointless war kills over 300,000 Angolans.

“The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence” — Victor Marchetti and John Marks publish this whistle-blowing history of CIA crimes and abuses. Marchetti has spent 14 years in the CIA, eventually becoming an executive assistant to the Deputy Director of Intelligence. Marks has spent five years as an intelligence official in the State Department.

“Inside the Company” — Philip Agee publishes a diary of his life inside the CIA. Agee has worked in covert operations in Latin America during the 60s, and details the crimes in which he took part.

Congress investigates CIA wrong-doing — Public outrage compels Congress to hold hearings on CIA crimes. Senator Frank Church heads the Senate investigation (“The Church Committee”), and Representative Otis Pike heads the House investigation. (Despite a 98 percent incumbency reelection rate, both Church and Pike are defeated in the next elections.) The investigations lead to a number of reforms intended to increase the CIA’s accountability to Congress, including the creation of a standing Senate committee on intelligence. However, the reforms prove ineffective, as the Iran/Contra scandal will show. It turns out the CIA can control, deal with or sidestep Congress with ease.

The Rockefeller Commission — In an attempt to reduce the damage done by the Church Committee, President Ford creates the “Rockefeller Commission” to whitewash CIA history and propose toothless reforms. The commission’s namesake, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, is himself a major CIA figure. Five of the commission’s eight members are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations, a CIA-dominated organization.

1979

Iran — The CIA fails to predict the fall of the Shah of Iran, a longtime CIA puppet, and the rise of Muslim fundamentalists who are furious at the CIA’s backing of SAVAK, the Shah’s bloodthirsty secret police. In revenge, the Muslims take 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Afghanistan — The Soviets invade Afghanistan. The CIA immediately begins supplying arms to any faction willing to fight the occupying Soviets. Such indiscriminate arming means that when the Soviets leave Afghanistan, civil war will erupt. Also, fanatical Muslim extremists now possess state-of-the-art weaponry. One of these is Sheik Abdel Rahman, who will become involved in the World Trade Center bombing in New York.

El Salvador — An idealistic group of young military officers, repulsed by the massacre of the poor, overthrows the right-wing government. However, the U.S. compels the inexperienced officers to include many of the old guard in key positions in their new government. Soon, things are back to “normal” — the military government is repressing and killing poor civilian protesters. Many of the young military and civilian reformers, finding themselves powerless, resign in disgust.

Nicaragua — Anastasios Samoza II, the CIA-backed dictator, falls. The Marxist Sandinistas take over government, and they are initially popular because of their commitment to land and anti-poverty reform. Samoza had a murderous and hated personal army called the National Guard. Remnants of the Guard will become the Contras, who fight a CIA-backed guerilla war against the Sandinista government throughout the 1980s.

1980

El Salvador — The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter “Christian to Christian” to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D’Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.

1981

Iran/Contra Begins — The CIA begins selling arms to Iran at high prices, using the profits to arm the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan vows that the Sandinistas will be “pressured” until “they say ‘uncle.’” The CIA’s Freedom Fighter’s Manual disbursed to the Contras includes instruction on economic sabotage, propaganda, extortion, bribery, blackmail, interrogation, torture, murder and political assassination.

1983

Honduras — The CIA gives Honduran military officers the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983, which teaches how to torture people. Honduras’ notorious “Battalion 316″ then uses these techniques, with the CIA’s full knowledge, on thousands of leftist dissidents. At least 184 are murdered.

1984

The Boland Amendment — The last of a series of Boland Amendments is passed. These amendments have reduced CIA aid to the Contras; the last one cuts it off completely. However, CIA Director William Casey is already prepared to “hand off” the operation to Colonel Oliver North, who illegally continues supplying the Contras through the CIA’s informal, secret, and self-financing network. This includes “humanitarian aid” donated by Adolph Coors and William Simon, and military aid funded by Iranian arms sales.

1986

Eugene Hasenfus — Nicaragua shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots. The airplane belongs to Southern Air Transport, a CIA front. The incident makes a mockery of President Reagan’s claims that the CIA is not illegally arming the Contras.

Iran/Contra Scandal — Although the details have long been known, the Iran/Contra scandal finally captures the media’s attention in 1986. Congress holds hearings, and several key figures (like Oliver North) lie under oath to protect the intelligence community. CIA Director William Casey dies of brain cancer before Congress can question him. All reforms enacted by Congress after the scandal are purely cosmetic.

Haiti — Rising popular revolt in Haiti means that “Baby Doc” Duvalier will remain “President for Life” only if he has a short one. The U.S., which hates instability in a puppet country, flies the despotic Duvalier to the South of France for a comfortable retirement. The CIA then rigs the upcoming elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. However, violence keeps the country in political turmoil for another four years. The CIA tries to strengthen the military by creating the National Intelligence Service (SIN), which suppresses popular revolt through torture and assassination.

1989

Panama — The U.S. invades Panama to overthrow a dictator of its own making, General Manuel Noriega. Noriega has been on the CIA’s payroll since 1966, and has been transporting drugs with the CIA’s knowledge since 1972. By the late 80s, Noriega’s growing independence and intransigence have angered Washington… so out he goes.

1990

Haiti — Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. After only eight months in power, however, the CIA-backed military deposes him. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. As popular opinion calls for Aristide’s return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.

1991

The Gulf War — The U.S. liberates Kuwait from Iraq. But Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, is another creature of the CIA. With U.S. encouragement, Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. During this costly eight-year war, the CIA built up Hussein’s forces with sophisticated arms, intelligence, training and financial backing. This cemented Hussein’s power at home, allowing him to crush the many internal rebellions that erupted from time to time, sometimes with poison gas. It also gave him all the military might he needed to conduct further adventurism — in Kuwait, for example.

The Fall of the Soviet Union — The CIA fails to predict this most important event of the Cold War. This suggests that it has been so busy undermining governments that it hasn’t been doing its primary job: gathering and analyzing information. The fall of the Soviet Union also robs the CIA of its reason for existence: fighting communism. This leads some to accuse the CIA of intentionally failing to predict the downfall of the Soviet Union. Curiously, the intelligence community’s budget is not significantly reduced after the demise of communism.

1992

Economic Espionage — In the years following the end of the Cold War, the CIA is increasingly used for economic espionage. This involves stealing the technological secrets of competing foreign companies and giving them to American ones. Given the CIA’s clear preference for dirty tricks over mere information gathering, the possibility of serious criminal behavior is very great indeed.

1993

Haiti — The chaos in Haiti grows so bad that President Clinton has no choice but to remove the Haitian military dictator, Raoul Cedras, on threat of U.S. invasion. The U.S. occupiers do not arrest Haiti’s military leaders for crimes against humanity, but instead ensure their safety and rich retirements. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the country’s ruling class.

EPILOGUE

In a speech before the CIA celebrating its 50th anniversary, President Clinton said: “By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage.”

Clinton’s is a common defense of the CIA: namely, the American people should stop criticizing the CIA because they don’t know what it really does. This, of course, is the heart of the problem in the first place. An agency that is above criticism is also above moral behavior and reform. Its secrecy and lack of accountability allows its corruption to grow unchecked.

Furthermore, Clinton’s statement is simply untrue. The history of the agency is growing painfully clear, especially with the declassification of historical CIA documents. We may not know the details of specific operations, but we do know, quite well, the general behavior of the CIA. These facts began emerging nearly two decades ago at an ever-quickening pace. Today we have a remarkably accurate and consistent picture, repeated in country after country, and verified from countless different directions.

The CIA’s response to this growing knowledge and criticism follows a typical historical pattern. (Indeed, there are remarkable parallels to the Medieval Church’s fight against the Scientific Revolution.) The first journalists and writers to reveal the CIA’s criminal behavior were harassed and censored if they were American writers, and tortured and murdered if they were foreigners. (See Philip Agee’s On the Run for an example of early harassment.) However, over the last two decades the tide of evidence has become overwhelming, and the CIA has found that it does not have enough fingers to plug every hole in the dike. This is especially true in the age of the Internet, where information flows freely among millions of people. Since censorship is impossible, the Agency must now defend itself with apologetics. Clinton’s “Americans will never know” defense is a prime example.

Another common apologetic is that “the world is filled with unsavory characters, and we must deal with them if we are to protect American interests at all.” There are two things wrong with this. First, it ignores the fact that the CIA has regularly spurned alliances with defenders of democracy, free speech and human rights, preferring the company of military dictators and tyrants. The CIA had moral options available to them, but did not take them.

Second, this argument begs several questions. The first is: “Which American interests?” The CIA has courted right-wing dictators because they allow wealthy Americans to exploit the country’s cheap labor and resources. But poor and middle-class Americans pay the price whenever they fight the wars that stem from CIA actions, from Vietnam to the Gulf War to Panama. The second begged question is: “Why should American interests come at the expense of other peoples’ human rights?”

The CIA should be abolished, its leadership dismissed and its relevant members tried for crimes against humanity. Our intelligence community should be rebuilt from the ground up, with the goal of collecting and analyzing information. As for covert action, there are two moral options. The first one is to eliminate covert action completely. But this gives jitters to people worried about the Adolf Hitlers of the world. So a second option is that we can place covert action under extensive and true democratic oversight. For example, a bipartisan Congressional Committee of 40 members could review and veto all aspects of CIA operations upon a majority or super-majority vote. Which of these two options is best may be the subject of debate, but one thing is clear: like dictatorship, like monarchy, unaccountable covert operations should die like the dinosaurs they are.

FIRST SYRIA REBELS ARMED AND TRAINED BY CIA ‘ON WAY TO BATTLEFIELD’

During a meeting at the White House, the president assured Senator John McCain that after months of delay the US was meeting its commitment to back moderate elements of the opposition.

Mr Obama said that a 50-man cell, believed to have been trained by US special forces in Jordan, was making its way across the border into Syria, according to the New York Times.

The deployment of the rebel unit seems to be the first tangible measure of support since Mr Obama announced in June that the US would begin providing the opposition with small arms.

Congressional opposition delayed the plan for several weeks and rebel commanders publicly complained the US was still doing nothing to match the Russian-made firepower of the Assad regime.

Mr McCain has been a chief critic of the White House’s reluctance to become involved in Syria and has long demanded that Mr Obama provide the rebels with arms needed to overthrow the regime.

He and Senator Lindsey Graham, a fellow Republican foreign policy hawk, emerged from the Oval Office meeting on Monday cautiously optimistic that Mr Obama would step up support for the rebels.

“There seems to be emerging from this administration a pretty solid plan to upgrade the opposition,” Mr Graham said.

He added that he hoped the opposition would be given “a chance to speak directly to the American people” to counter US fears that they were dominated by al-Qaeda sympathisers.

“They’re not trying to replace one dictator, Assad, who has been brutal… to only have al-Qaeda run Syria,” Mr Graham said.

The US announced in June, following the first allegations the Assad regime had used chemical weapons, that it would send light arms to the rebels but refused to provide anti-aircraft missiles and other heavy weapons.

American concerns were born partly out of the experience of Afghanistan in the 1980s, when CIA weapons given to the anti-Russian mujahideen were later used by the Taliban.

CIA CLOSES OFFICE THAT DECLASSIFIES HISTORICAL MATERIALS

The Historical Collections Division is the latest casualty of sequester cuts. The office handling Freedom of Information Act requests will take over the work.

By Ken Dilanian

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WASHINGTON — The budget ax has fallen on a CIA office that focused on declassifying historical materials, a move scholars say will mean fewer public disclosures about long-buried intelligence secrets and scandals.

The Historical Collections Division, which has declassified documents on top Soviet spies, a secret CIA airline in the Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crisis and other major operations, has been disbanded. The office that handles Freedom of Information Act requests will take over the work.

CIA officials said they closed the Historical Collections Division to accommodate federal budget cuts that the White House and Congress proposed last year to create pressure for a deficit reduction deal. No deal materialized, so across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester were imposed.

“As a result of sequestration, elements of one program office were moved into a larger unit to create efficiencies, but CIA will continue to perform this important work,” said Edward Price, a CIA spokesman.

He said the agency remained committed to the “public interest mission” of declassifying significant historical documents.

But outside experts criticized the CIA for shutting down an office that academics, lawyers and historians use.

“This move is a true loss to the public,” said Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who frequently litigates against the CIA. He said the CIA office that handles Freedom of Information Act requests “is the most obstructionist and unfriendly of those I have dealt with during the last two decades.”

“This is very unfortunate,” said Robert Jervis, a Columbia University professor who chairs the CIA’s Historical Review Panel, which advises the agency on declassification. “There will be fewer releases. We shouldn’t fool ourselves.”

Because the CIA’s budget is classified, it’s unclear how much it has shrunk, or how much was saved by closing the Historical Collections Division.

Unlike the Pentagon, which has forced more than 600,000 civilian employees to take unpaid leave, the CIA has not told its civilian staff to take furloughs. It instead has cut spending on outside contractors, including those who handle much of the labor-intensive work of declassifying CIA documents.

Some of the declassification is required by law, so the Historical Collections Division, which focused on discretionary declassification involving topics that scholars found compelling, was the easiest target for trimming costs, Jervis said.

DRONE STRIKE SHOWS THAT SECRET CIA ATTACKS WILL CONTINUE DESPITE OBAMA PLEDGE FOR TRANSPARENCY

By: KIMBERLY DOZIER , Associated PressWASHINGTON – The drone attack that killed a Pakistan Taliban deputy leader this week was a clear signal that despite President Barack Obama’s promise last week of new transparency in the drone program, the CIA will still launch secret attacks on militants in north Pakistan and the administration will not have to tell anyone about it.

The CIA drone took off from Afghanistan on Wednesday and struck a compound in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas where the agency believed Waliur Rehman was staying. The Pakistani Taliban later confirmed the death of Rehman, believed to be one of the key planners behind the deadly suicide bombing against a CIA base in 2009.

But White House officials would not even confirm that the strike occurred, much less confirming Rehman’s death, although the president pledged in a national security speech only last week that he would be more transparent about U.S. counterterrorism actions.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday would only say broadly that Obama feels a responsibility to protect U.S. forces in the “Afghan war theater” — it includes Pakistan — and would use a “range of abilities” to provide those forces as much protection as possible.

Obama announced new “presidential policy guidelines” last week on the standards his administration has been using when deciding to launch lethal strikes, including a guideline to strike a target only if it presents an “imminent threat” to U.S. national security and only if the target cannot be captured. He also stated his preference for using the military, not the CIA, to carry out such strikes.

But he also indicated that the CIA would continue to control and run its secret drone programs in places like Pakistan and Yemen. While the CIA has permission from the Yemeni government to take strikes, it operates without permission from the Pakistani government, and the newly elected administration of Nawaz Sharif has demanded an end to the program that has killed more than 3,000 people since 2004.

The program has also eliminated dozens of key militants, including al-Qaida’s second-in-command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, last year.

Obama’s speech promising more transparency is not necessarily at odds with this week’s covert strike, according to Shamila Chaudhary, a former National Security Council staffer who worked on Pakistan.

“He’s codifying it, trying to set down in legal language” the counterterrorism program built during Obama’s first term, said Chaudhary, now at the New America Foundation.

“But Pakistan is still an exception,” she said. The fact that the American drone took out one of Pakistan’s enemies also probably helped mute Islamabad’s reaction, she added.

U.S. officials briefed on the drone program say the administration’s intent in the speech was to take the heat off the controversial drone strikes by promising future action would be done by the military when possible. The suggestion was that military strikes are more subject to publicly accessible congressional oversight. In fact, Congress is briefed on drone strikes by both the military and CIA but in closed, classified hearings.

But U.S. officials say they will continue to carry out drone strikes, launched from bases in neighboring Afghanistan or anywhere else al-Qaida and its affiliates operate and local governments can’t or won’t act. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the classified program publicly.

Guidelines for lethal force issued by the White House after the speech would seem to fit the Rehman case, stating that lethal action would only be taken against “a target that poses a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons,” where there is “near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday said Rehman was responsible for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan against NATO troops and as well as deadly attacks against Pakistani troops and civilians. Rehman was also thought to be a key player in the 2009 suicide attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan that killed seven Americans working for the CIA. Pakistani officials said the other three killed in the drone strike also were militants.

The White House guidelines also state that lethal strikes would only be taken after “an assessment that the relevant governmental authorities in the country where action is contemplated cannot or will not effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.” Sharif had indicated willingness to open peace talks with Rehman, which could have meant the man who helped carry out one of the deadliest attacks on the CIA would get away with it.

The drone strike also highlights the closing window of opportunity for the CIA to target high-level Taliban and al-Qaida-related militants while the agency still has tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops to protect its dozen-plus major bases around neighboring Afghanistan.

U.S. intelligence and military officers are also drawing down, and will be relying more on Afghan agencies and intelligence agents. That complicates the mission Obama says will not end with U.S. troop withdrawal: hunting the al-Qaida remnants responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on New York and Washington, and keeping them from launching new attacks.

“They’re still trying to come back,” said a senior coalition intelligence officer in an interview Wednesday from Afghanistan, describing the remote stronghold of al-Qaida in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, just across the Pakistan border. He said al-Qaida continues to support both Pakistan and Afghan branches of the Taliban with financial backing, and training in bomb-building and military tactics. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be identified.

NEW WEBSITE REVEALS EXTENT OF SECRET CIA FLIGHT NETWORK

rt.com

A team of academics have launched the world’s largest interactive database detailing suspected CIA rendition flights, many of which may have transported detainees to Guantanamo Bay.

Scotland is the only country so far which has raised any questions on the alleged rendition activity on home soil.

The Rendition Project is a product of a collaborative research between Dr. Ruth Blakely from the University of Kent and Dr. Sam Raphael from Kingston University, London.

Now anyone with an internet connection can understand, view, and track over 11,000 CIA flights detainees may have been aboard between 2001 and 2006 under the US rendition program, a murky operation of secret detention and torture.

“Our purpose is to shed as much light as possible on this system,” Blakely told RT.

Blakely’s team has compiled a unique database sourced from freedom of information requests, testimonies from detainees, Red Cross reports, courtroom evidence, flight records, and invoices.

The data is categorized into four subcategories- flights which definitely had a detainee on board, those which are suspected of having suspected terrorists on board, and ‘dummy’ or test flights, and other circuit flights, all on 122 different US-registered civilian aircraft.

“Our main aim was to try and map the global rendition system to try and provide a comprehensive a picture as possible how rendition took place, which countries were involved,” Blakely told RT.

Most information was already in the public domain, but Blakely hopes by making it web-accessible, the project will assist human rights investigators and lawyers to defend the rights of detainees who have been victims to unfair torture or questionable tactics.

The site will help reveal “how the CIA managed to hide individuals in this system as it transported them around the world to hold them in prisons where they could be tortured and interrogated,” said Blakely.

Abu Zubaydah. (Image from wikipedia.org)

Abu Zubaydah. (Image from wikipedia.org)

High profile detainee

Among those profiled on the website is Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi Arabian currently being held in custody at Guantanamo Bay, without any official legal charge brought against him. Zubaydah was first captured during the Bush administration, and in 2006 was transferred to Guantanamo.

The Rendition Project believes he was first caught in Bangkok, and may been on board eight different rendition flights, as he was transported around the globe to different CIA black spots.

A suspected terrorist, Zubaydah claims he was water boarded 83 times during August 2002 while he was held at a US detention site in Thailand.

A screenshot from the new database which lets users track flights by data, detainee, and location. Image from therenditionproject.org.uk

A screenshot from the new database which lets users track flights by data, detainee, and location. Image from therenditionproject.org.uk

‘Conclusive’ new proof

Blakely and her team believe they have found ‘conclusive’ new proof that CIA planes regularly landed at three Scottish airports under the rendition program.

Aberdeen, Inverness, and Wick were all allegedly used to carry out secret US missions, according to the website.

Blakely’s study shows evident that five flights landed at Wick, five at Inverness and three at Aberdeen, all allegedly part of the US missions.

During a question and answer session in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill acknowledged the allegation that his government took part in the rendition program.

In an almost empty chamber, Scottish Parliament member Patrick Harvey, a Scottish Green party co-convener, questioned Justice Secretary MacAskill about the alleged touch-downs.

A flight check-in area is pictured at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland, where 3 CIA Rendition flights allegedly landed. (AFP Photo / Scott Campbell)

A flight check-in area is pictured at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland, where 3 CIA Rendition flights allegedly landed. (AFP Photo / Scott Campbell)

“The Scottish government strongly opposes illegal rendition flights. No representations have been received by the Scottish government regarding these flights,” MacAskill answered.

Until there is hard and concrete evidence, according to MacAskill, Scotland will not make any formal accusations against the US or any other involved parties in the flights.

Blakely’s investigative team shows a flight which landed at Wick in 2004 was “flying to a secret prison and torture destinations.”

The CIA’s black sites in over 54 countries have been allegedly used to detain and torture suspected terrorists, and to hold them in custody before being transported to the prison at Guantanamo Bay and other torture and detention centers worldwide.

The EU parliament has previously called upon Poland, Lithuania, and Romania to reveal any ‘black sites’, or airports used to aid the CIA’s secret rendition program.

CIA-CONNECTED SAIC AWARDED GOVERNMENT “CYBER SECURITY” CONTRACT

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com
The police state brain trust – connected at the hip to the CIA – has merged with Homeland Security. “Science Applications International Corp. is joining the roster of companies involved in a program to protect U.S. infrastructure against cyber threats,” the UPI reports today. “SAIC said it has signed a memorandum of agreement with Homeland Security on joining the initiative. Northrop Grumman announced its participation earlier this week and that it is starting the security accreditation process which is required for the Homeland Security program.”

“SAIC… is the invisible hand behind a huge portion of the national security state – the one sector of the government whose funds are limitless and whose continued growth is assured every time a politician utters the word ‘terrorism,’” Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele wrote for Vantiy Fair in 2007.

The shadowy intelligence contractor’s “past and present board members are a who’s who of vested military brass, high-level intelligence operatives and politicians,” writes Pro Liberty. It shares a close relationship with the CIA and – along with Booz Hamilton and Lockheed Martin – dominates the private intelligence industry. Its largest customer is the NSA. SAIC’s relationship with the super-secret signals intelligence agency is described as symbiotic. It plays a key role in the war on terror and operates many of the Predator drones used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

During the reign of the Bush neocons under the aegis of a manufactured war on terror, SAIC – along with AT&T, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Verizon Communications, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, CACI International and many others – fashioned the high-tech police state now going into place. It is estimated that “some 70% of the personnel employed by U.S. intelligence agencies are now private contractors holding top secret and above security clearances,” Tom Burghardt wrote in 2008.

SAIC’s expertise and its involvement in the Department of Homeland Security’s misnamed “cyber security” operation is particularly worrisome now that the Obama administration has authorized “a new government program involving the interception of communications on Internet service providers, including AT&T—one of the key players in the NSA warrantless wiretapping program,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted last month. The initiative eschews the Fourth Amendment and provides transnational telecoms with immunity from prosecution for crimes against the Constitution and the republic.

The secretive and largely covert high-tech surveillance state apparatus was never intended for the likes of Osama bin Laden. It was built for the American people who are considered the real enemies of the national security state. This fact was underscored by former NSA crypto-mathematician and whistleblower William Binney. In 2012, Binney said the high-tech surveillance state now going online is not about foreign terrorists. It is about Americans “who could be a threat to national security” as defined by a centralized federal government. “Even if they think they aren’t doing something wrong, if their position on something is against what the administration has, then they could easily become a target,” Binney warned.

In March, we quoted Richard Davis, the director of the Arkansas State Fusion Center, who said the fusion center in Little Rock does not waste its time surveilling al-Qaeda and other supposed foreign terror threats. “We focus [on] domestic terrorism and certain groups that are anti-government. We want to kind of take a look at that and receive that information.”

Exploiting the government ginned-up ruse of cyber security, the NSA constructed its Utah Data Center near Bluffdale. Reports suggest the facility will store 5 zettabytes of data, the equivalent storage capacity of over three hundred billion iPhone 5s. NSA General Keith Alexander assured the public “we don’t hold data on U.S. citizens” and that the NSA staff “take protecting your civil liberties and privacy as the most important thing that they do, and securing this nation,” ostensibly from phantom terrorists and rogue hackers who dominate the government’s incessant propaganda campaign.

In April, the Republican-controlled House approved the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The White House claims it will veto the bill “unless more protections for privacy and civil liberties are added,” Fox News reports today. This supposed reluctance by the Obama administration is a ruse, of course. It is nothing more than an effort to persuade Americans and Congress that the federal government is protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In fact, Obama has signed an executive order directing “government officials to set voluntary standards to reduce cybersecurity risk and offer incentives to private companies to adopt them.”

Now that SAIC and the defense industry are working hand-in-hand with Homeland Security and the Pentagon to spy on the American people, we can expect finishing touches to be put on the national security state’s surveillance grid. It will rival by leaps and bounds anything previously imagined or accomplished under COINTELPRO and concurrent illegal operations by the CIA (including Operation CHAOS) and military intelligence.

A technologically advanced Stasi apparatus is designed for 24/7 surveillance of political enemies opposed to a worldwide authoritarian super-state. Its purpose is to reduce resistance to zero and ferret out, persecute, disappear and eliminate enemies of the state.

INTELLIGENCE ALERT OVER TERROR ATTACK ON U.S. CONSULATE IN MUMBAI

by Mateen Hafeez, The Times of India

MUMBAI: The Western Naval command headquarters has alerted the city police about the threat of a bomb attack on the US consulate here on July 21. The intelligence was shared with reference to an anonymous letter received by the consulate-general and American Centre in Kolkata, threatening to attack both places.

A copy of the single-page letter was passed on by Sanjay Kumar, command intelligence officer, western naval command. The letter has ‘Al-Jihad’ written on top, much like a logo or the name of an organization. It said US consulate officials are the targets and told the Americans to vacate the consulates. It also said, “We shall carry out blasts in public places and railway stations of Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai in July this year.”

It was unclear when the US consulate received the letter and why July 21 was chosen. Al-Jihad is not known to intelligence agencies but they are taking the threat seriously as terror outfits are known to hide under various names. The input has been shared with the Intelligence Bureau headquarters and its wings in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai.

The state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) also issued a terror alert, saying the Indian Mujahideen (IM) could target several places to avenge the conviction of and death penalty for its operative, Himayat Mirza Baig, in the German Bakery bomb blast case.

Amitesh Kumar, deputy inspector general of police, ATS, in a two-page alert stated, “In view of the death penalty to Himayat Baig in the German Bakery bomb blast case and the recent blast in Bangalore, retaliation cannot be ruled out. IM can possibly launch a fresh terror strike.”

Kumar said of the likely targets that need special attention are the ones that have already been reconnoitered by terrorists, as revealed during interrogation of the CIA spy-turned-Lashakar-e-Taiba loyalist, David Headley. A National Investigation Agency team had interrogated Headley in the US.

The places mentioned in the hit list of terrorists include the Nashik police academy, Deolali army cantonment, the Osho ashram, ABC Farm, Hard Rock Cafe, Oakwood Hotel, Koregaon Park Plaza, J M Road, North Main Road in Pune, Gold Adlabs, Hinjewadi, and the RSS headquarters in Nagpur.

A police officer said all the locations have been provided additional security. However, while security and intelligence agencies have been sending out terror alerts often, their credibility is in doubt. Many senior officers say they don’t even read the alerts. While intelligence agencies claim it’s their job to pass on information, several city police officers contend that the information given is often difficult to establish or act on.

WITH BAGS OF CASH, C.I.A. SEEKS INFLUENCE IN AFGHANISTAN

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG | The New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency.

All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.

“We called it ‘ghost money,’ ” said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. “It came in secret, and it left in secret.”

The C.I.A., which declined to comment for this article, has long been known to support some relatives and close aides of Mr. Karzai. But the new accounts of off-the-books cash delivered directly to his office show payments on a vaster scale, and with a far greater impact on everyday governing.

Moreover, there is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the C.I.A. sought. Instead, some American officials said, the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.

“The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan,” one American official said, “was the United States.”

The United States was not alone in delivering cash to the president. Mr. Karzai acknowledged a few years ago that Iran regularly gave bags of cash to one of his top aides.

At the time, in 2010, American officials jumped on the payments as evidence of an aggressive Iranian campaign to buy influence and poison Afghanistan’s relations with the United States. What they did not say was that the C.I.A. was also plying the presidential palace with cash — and unlike the Iranians, it still is.

American and Afghan officials familiar with the payments said the agency’s main goal in providing the cash has been to maintain access to Mr. Karzai and his inner circle and to guarantee the agency’s influence at the presidential palace, which wields tremendous power in Afghanistan’s highly centralized government. The officials spoke about the money only on the condition of anonymity.

It is not clear that the United States is getting what it pays for. Mr. Karzai’s willingness to defy the United States — and the Iranians, for that matter — on an array of issues seems to have only grown as the cash has piled up. Instead of securing his good graces, the payments may well illustrate the opposite: Mr. Karzai is seemingly unable to be bought.

Over Iran’s objections, he signed a strategic partnership deal with the United States last year, directly leading the Iranians to halt their payments, two senior Afghan officials said. Now, Mr. Karzai is seeking control over the Afghan militias raised by the C.I.A. to target operatives of Al Qaeda and insurgent commanders, potentially upending a critical part of the Obama administration’s plans for fighting militants as conventional military forces pull back this year.

But the C.I.A. has continued to pay, believing it needs Mr. Karzai’s ear to run its clandestine war against Al Qaeda and its allies, according to American and Afghan officials.

Like the Iranian cash, much of the C.I.A.’s money goes to paying off warlords and politicians, many of whom have ties to the drug trade and, in some cases, the Taliban. The result, American and Afghan officials said, is that the agency has greased the wheels of the same patronage networks that American diplomats and law enforcement agents have struggled unsuccessfully to dismantle, leaving the government in the grips of what are basically organized crime syndicates.

The cash does not appear to be subject to the oversight and restrictions placed on official American aid to the country or even the C.I.A.’s formal assistance programs, like financing Afghan intelligence agencies. And while there is no evidence that Mr. Karzai has personally taken any of the money — Afghan officials say the cash is handled by his National Security Council — the payments do in some cases work directly at odds with the aims of other parts of the American government in Afghanistan, even if they do not appear to violate American law.

Handing out cash has been standard procedure for the C.I.A. in Afghanistan since the start of the war. During the 2001 invasion, agency cash bought the services of numerous warlords, including Muhammad Qasim Fahim, the current first vice president.

“We paid them to overthrow the Taliban,” the American official said.

The C.I.A. then kept paying the Afghans to keep fighting. For instance, Mr. Karzai’s half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was paid by the C.I.A. to run the Kandahar Strike Force, a militia used by the agency to combat militants, until his assassination in 2011.

A number of senior officials on the Afghan National Security Council are also individually on the agency’s payroll, Afghan officials said.

While intelligence agencies often pay foreign officials to provide information, dropping off bags of cash at a foreign leader’s office to curry favor is a more unusual arrangement.

Afghan officials said the practice grew out of the unique circumstances in Afghanistan, where the United States built the government that Mr. Karzai runs. To accomplish that task, it had to bring to heel many of the warlords the C.I.A. had paid during and after the 2001 invasion.

By late 2002, Mr. Karzai and his aides were pressing for the payments to be routed through the president’s office, allowing him to buy the warlords’ loyalty, a former adviser to Mr. Karzai said.

Then, in December 2002, Iranians showed up at the palace in a sport utility vehicle packed with cash, the former adviser said.

The C.I.A. began dropping off cash at the palace the following month, and the sums grew from there, Afghan officials said.

Payments ordinarily range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, the officials said, though none could provide exact figures. The money is used to cover a slew of off-the-books expenses, like paying off lawmakers or underwriting delicate diplomatic trips or informal negotiations.

Much of it also still goes to keeping old warlords in line. One is Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek whose militia served as a C.I.A. proxy force in 2001. He receives nearly $100,000 a month from the palace, two Afghan officials said. Other officials said the amount was significantly lower.

Mr. Dostum, who declined requests for comment, had previously said he was given $80,000 a month to serve as Mr. Karzai’s emissary in northern Afghanistan. “I asked for a year up front in cash so that I could build my dream house,” he was quoted as saying in a 2009 interview with Time magazine.

Some of the cash also probably ends up in the pockets of the Karzai aides who handle it, Afghan and Western officials said, though they would not identify any by name.

That is not a significant concern for the C.I.A., said American officials familiar with the agency’s operations. “They’ll work with criminals if they think they have to,” one American former official said.

Interestingly, the cash from Tehran appears to have been handled with greater transparency than the dollars from the C.I.A., Afghan officials said. The Iranian payments were routed through Mr. Karzai’s chief of staff. Some of the money was deposited in an account in the president’s name at a state-run bank, and some was kept at the palace. The sum delivered would then be announced at the next cabinet meeting. The Iranians gave $3 million to well over $10 million a year, Afghan officials said.

When word of the Iranian cash leaked out in October 2010, Mr. Karzai told reporters that he was grateful for it. He then added: “The United States is doing the same thing. They are providing cash to some of our offices.”

At the time, Mr. Karzai’s aides said he was referring to the billions in formal aid the United States gives. But the former adviser said in a recent interview that the president was in fact referring to the C.I.A.’s bags of cash.

No one mentions the agency’s money at cabinet meetings. It is handled by a small clique at the National Security Council, including its administrative chief, Mohammed Zia Salehi, Afghan officials said.

Mr. Salehi, though, is better known for being arrested in 2010 in connection with a sprawling, American-led investigation that tied together Afghan cash smuggling, Taliban finances and the opium trade. Mr. Karzai had him released within hours, and the C.I.A. then helped persuade the Obama administration to back off its anticorruption push, American officials said.

After his release, Mr. Salehi jokingly came up with a motto that succinctly summed up America’s conflicting priorities. He was, he began telling colleagues, “an enemy of the F.B.I., and a hero to the C.I.A.”

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WHAT THE CIA’S CASH HAS BOUGHT FOR AFGHANISTAN

by Bill Van Auken

1 May 2013

The report Monday that the CIA regularly hands over sacks filled with hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai is only the latest episode in Afghanistan’s long and tragic encounter with US imperialism.

According to the New York Times, “For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month at the offices of the president.”

Following their White House meeting earlier this year, President Barack Obama and Karzai issued a joint statement declaring their intention to maintain US military forces in Afghanistan into the indefinite future under a Strategic Partnership Agreement. The two also proclaimed their respect for Afghan “sovereignty” and stated that their economic strategy for the country was “focused on investing in its human capital to lead the country’s institutions and to create an enabling environment for inclusive economic growth and investment.”

As the revelations about suitcases stuffed with American dollars make clear, the US has invested heavily in “human capital to lead the country’s institutions” and without a doubt has created an “enabling environment” for a collection of CIA stooges, warlords, drug traffickers and murderers to pillage Afghanistan and terrorize its people, while filling their bank accounts with money from Washington.

The same criminal methods employed by the Bush White House have been carried over lock, stock and barrel into the Obama administration.

But the CIA spigot has been open for much longer than that. The multi-million-dollar payoffs go back to the late 1970s, when the Democratic administration of President Jimmy Carter adopted a strategy of ensnaring the Soviet Union in “its own Vietnam” by fomenting and financing an Islamist insurgency against a Soviet-backed government in Kabul.

Working on the CIA payroll at the time was a young Hamid Karzai, who served as a go-between for the American intelligence agency, the Pakistani ISI and the mujahideen. At the time, he no doubt rubbed shoulders with Osama bin Laden, who was serving in a similar capacity.

In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal, the forces backed by the CIA carried out a protracted civil war that ended with the coming to power of the Pakistani-backed Taliban in 1996. This war was resumed under CIA auspices when Washington used the September 11, 2001 attacks as the pretext for invading and occupying Afghanistan. The agency began handing out suitcases full of cash once again to the Afghan warlords to contract their services as proxy troops in the US war for regime change.

Traveling in northern Europe on another money-gathering trip, Karzai made the improbable claim that the CIA cash wasn’t really that much and was being spent on “providing assistance to the wounded, the sick.”

In reality, whatever doesn’t go into the pockets and off-shore accounts of the Karzai family and its immediate periphery is still being used to pay off the warlords, including war criminals like Abdul Rashid Dostum, who, while on the CIA payroll, organized the massacre of thousands of Taliban prisoners near Mazar-i-Sharif in 2001. According to some reports, he alone has received up to $100,000 a month.

Until his assassination in 2011, the president’s half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was also on the CIA payroll, running a death squad known as the Kandahar Strike Force while playing a pivotal role in Afghanistan’s multi-billion-dollar heroin trade.

Also getting a share of the cash is the chief of Karzai’s National Security Council, Mohammed Zia Salehi, who was arrested in 2010 after a US-led investigation implicated him in smuggling money out of the country, heroin trafficking and the financing of the Taliban. Karzai and the CIA intervened, forcing his release within hours and terminating the investigation.

To keep this puppet regime of killers, drug dealers and kleptocrats in power, the US has waged the longest war in its history, claiming the lives of some 2,200 American and 1,000 other foreign occupation troops, while leaving tens of thousands suffering grievous wounds, both physical and mental. The cost of the war, CIA cash not included, reached some $60 billion a year in 2009.

For the Afghan people, the dead and wounded number in the millions since the CIA first began organizing military operations in the country nearly 35 years ago.

The huge amounts of money poured into the criminal US operations in Afghanistan have done nothing to aid the Afghan people. According to some estimates, ninety cents out of every dollar in the $20 billion in foreign aid spent there over the past decade has been lost to corruption.

More than half of the country’s families live in extreme poverty, while over one third suffer from hunger. One out of ten Afghan children die before they start primary school. Less than a quarter of the population has access to clean drinking water and a similar fraction among those over the age of 15 is able to read and write.

The slaughter of Afghan civilians continues on a daily basis. On Sunday, Karzai’s office issued a formal protest over the fatal shooting of four civilians by a US military convoy in the eastern province of Nangarhar. Earlier this month, a NATO air strike killed eleven children, aged between two months and seven years, in Kunar province near the border with Pakistan.

While a formal deadline for the withdrawal of foreign occupation troops has been set for the end of 2014, the Obama administration has no intention of ending the US military presence. Plans are being prepared to leave anywhere between 6,000 and 20,000 US troops behind to continue killing those who resist the rule of Karzai and his criminal clique.

This regime, installed against the will of the Afghan people, is a tool of a financial oligarchy in the US that is determined to advance its interests by militarily asserting its hegemony over Central Asia and its strategic energy reserves, while leaving working people in both Afghanistan and the US to pay the price.

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