Panetta: Obama Can Unilaterally Use Military to Protect ‘National Interests’

June 14, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News

Monday, June 13, 2011

 

(CNSNews.com) – CIA Director Leon Panetta, who President Barack Obama has nominated to be secretary of Defense, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that he believes the president can unilaterally use military force, without congressional authorization to “protect our national interests.”

Panetta’s claim of broad unilateral presidential power to initiate U.S. military action absent an attack or imminent threat to the United States came in response to a question from Sen. John McCain—who said he agreed with Panetta.

The U.S. is now involved militarily in Libya even though Congress has never authorized that involvement.

“Does it worry you if the Congress begins to tell the commander in chief as to exactly … what the president can or cannot do in any conflict?” asked McCain.

“Senator, I believe very strongly that the president has the constitutional power as commander in chief to take steps that he believes are necessary to protect this country and protect our national interests,” said Panetta. “And obviously, I think it’s important for presidents to consult, to have the advice of Congress. But in the end, I believe he has the constitutional power to do what he has to do to protect this country.”

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution says Congress “shall have Power … to declare War, grant letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”  At the constitutional convention in 1787, James Madison of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts proposed that the word “declare” war be inserted in place of “make” war in this passage so that it would leave the president the limited power to “repel sudden attacks.”  Madison’s proposal was adopted.

Madison notes from the Constitutional Convention clearly indicate that the drafters of the Constitution meant to deny the president the power to initiate military action by the United States except when necessary for self-defense. “The Executive should be able to repel and not to commence war.”

President Barack Obama expressed this same interpretation when he was a presidential candidate. On Dec. 20, 2008, he told the Boston Globe: “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

However, with the ongoing Libyan operation, President Obama has maintained that he does not need explicit congressional authorization because he has sufficient authority as commander-in-chief to attack Libya, even though he admits that Libya did not attack the United States nor did it pose any direct military threat.

Instead, Obama contends that the civil war currently underway there threatens regional stability and thus endanger U.S. national interests in the region. Obama also contends that his administration has sufficiently consulted with Congress by briefing key members on the details of the operation, arguing that in doing so he has secured congressional consent for the attacks.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) told Panetta that while there was no question about the president’s authority to defend the country in case of an attack or to fulfill treaty obligations, a “unilateral” military decision such as Obama’s attacks on Libya “needs to be subject to the review and direction of the Congress.”

Panetta said it was “very important” for the president to consult with Congress after he takes military action, saying that “hopefully” Congress will agree that military action is necessary.

“[O]nce those [military] decisions are made, in order for those decisions to be sustained,  that it’s very important to work with the  Congress and seek the best advice and counsel of the Congress and hopefully get the Congress’ support for those actions,” said Panetta.

Critics of American involvement in the NATO-led attacks on Libya have argued that Obama lacks the constitutional authority to commit U.S. forces there, claiming that while the president is commander and chief, he must first seek congressional authorization before deploying any military forces, except in the case of an attack on the United States.

 

 

Is the U.S. Government Planning War to Quell the Tide of Economic Unrest?

May 28, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News, World News

Gary D. Barnett
LewRockwell.com
May 27, 2010

In my opinion and in a word: Yes!

Headlines:

– “READY FOR WAR,” “U.S. Military told to get ready in Korea Standoff, Obama orders commanders to prepare ‘to deter future aggression.’” By Drudge and MSNBC

– “U.S. Begins Massive Military Build Up Around Iran, Sending Up To 4 New Carrier Groups In Region” by Tyler Durden

– “Clinton: Korea Must Face ‘Consequences’ For Sunken Warship”

– Homeland Security, Northeast Intelligence Network: “The Syrian Missile Crisis: Threat of War Very Real”

– “The Expanding U.S. War in Pakistan” by Jeremy Scahill

– “Yemen, Latest War Front?” by CBS News

These are but a very few of the recent headlines about more U.S. war, but the Iranian and Korean situations are the most dangerous, and the threats against Iran I think the most real.

United States wars are virtually all wars of aggression, so it is quite evident that U.S. wars are “fought” for reasons other than self-defense. That means there are ulterior motives involved that are not related to moral behavior, but instead to nefarious intent. This is a disturbing revelation, and one little understood by the American masses. It is one however, that if more understood, could literally blow the lid off the notion that the purposeful buildup of the military–industrial complex is for the defense of this nation! This thought scares the life out of those in power who need to keep the populace scared to death at all times in order to propagate their crimes.

Our economy, as is the case for much of the rest of the world’s economies, is currently imploding. Since all major economies in the world are based on valueless, un-backed, and worthless money, this situation should have been evident to the mainstream long ago. Of course the failing economy is just one piece of the puzzle, but it is most definitely the most important piece. With a so-called vibrant economy over the past decade or so, even though it was based on lies and deceit, and was a complete sham, the general population was easy to control during these so-called “prosperous” times. With the real economy now being exposed for the fraud that it is, and the real risks becoming more evident, the once complacent citizen is now becoming angry. Because of this, the evil U.S. federal government must find a new method of fooling the masses into believing in “their” government and country. War is the obvious answer, as war solidifies the putrid and false nationalistic worship of the peasants more than any other ploy.

In my opinion, any bad economic news, any exposure of the current economic fraud, any sovereign government risk of collapse, any higher unemployment or excessive price inflation, will anger the majority and vastly escalate the government’s need to start another war. It cannot afford to let the situation get out of hand, as there are many more of us than there are of them, so whatever becomes necessary in the mind of government in order for it to effect its manipulation and control over the people will be implemented. If that is a purposely orchestrated and unnecessary war, then so be it.

The openness of these plans and the blatant steps being taken by the federal government to protect its power are disturbing to say the least. Even with this openness however, most are still in the dark. Since 2001, our civil rights have been for the most part destroyed. Laws have been enacted that allow the government to capture and hold indefinitely any citizen it deems a risk, and without the possibility of charge or trial. Legislation to open and construct holding camps [see here] has been proposed and plans to implement this process are being prepared for today. Martial Law is now not just a possibility but a probability. This government in my opinion is at the same time preparing for both Martial Law and war to quell the tide of possible civil unrest due to economic instability or collapse. This is astounding, as both ends of the spectrum are being covered by Leviathan’s planned course of action. This should frighten all of us!

This time around the false flag event(s) leading to another war should immediately be scrutinized and brought to light, and those who expose the forthcoming government and neo-con lies should not be considered conspiracy nuts, but rather truth-tellers and heroes. I am warning you in advance, as so many others have done before me, that the next war will be pre-planned and calculated. The federal government’s actions are no longer hidden, and the motive for its criminal and murderous behavior is there for all to see. Obviously, those who now rule over us are confused and dazed, but they are nonetheless prepared to do what is necessary to keep their position of power intact. This government will not consider the means, but only the ends, so that justification will then become more palatable to those so easy to fool.

The dangers of this situation are tremendous. A war with Iran will upset not only the entire Middle East, but the whole world. The terrorism risk due to blowback will increase dramatically; this in and of itself helping the guilty government to perpetuate the crime, all the while gaining even more power and authority over us. Not only will many more innocents abroad be murdered, but many more Americans will also have to die as fodder for the cause of the elite.

These situations are not accidental but designed, and they are designed so that the few can survive in luxury, while the rest of us suffer. When will the common man come to the realization that government in a now totalitarian society like ours is not of the people, by the people, and for the people, but that people are of the government, by the government, and for the government? Only when all individuals are sovereign and free, and in total control of the State will this paradigm shift back to its original design.

Bombs kill 14 civilians in southern Afghanistan

August 13, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News, World News

Aug 13 02:30 AM US/Eastern
By NOOR KHAN
Associated Press Writer
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) – Two separate roadside blasts in southern Afghanistan killed 14 civilians, including three children, underscoring the high price paid by ordinary people in the conflict with the Taliban, officials said Thursday.

Officials blamed the blasts on Taliban militants, who have made roadside bombings their primary weapons.

According to figures from the U.S.-based Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, the number of incidents from IEDs soared to 828 last month, the highest level of the war and more than twice as many as in July 2008. The majority of the victims in such attacks have been civilians.

A blast on a road in the Gereshk district of Helmand province ripped through a vehicle carrying a family on Wednesday, killing 11 people, including two women and nine men, said Daud Ahmadi, the spokesman for the provincial governor.

A 6-year-old girl survived the bombing, Ahmadi said.

“The Taliban are planting these bombs on the main roads, which are killing our civilians,” Ahmadi said.

In the neighboring Kandahar province, three children were killed after they started playing with another bomb, which they had found on side of the road west of the provincial capital, police official Mohammad Shah Khan said.

The victims were between 8 and 12-years-old, he said.

Southern Afghanistan is the center of the Taliban-led insurgency, where thousands of additional U.S. troops were deployed this year to try and reverse the militant’s gains and create conditions for next weeks presidential elections.

The Real Grand Chessboard and the Profiteers of War

August 13, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News

by Prof. Peter Dale Scott

Global Research, August 11, 2009

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Dwight David Eisenhower, “Military-Industrial Complex Speech,” 1961, [1]

My observation is that the impact of national elections on the business climate for SAIC has been minimal. The emphasis on where federal spending occurs usually shifts, but total federal spending never decreases. SAIC has always continued to grow despite changes in the political leadership in Washington.” Former SAIC manager, quoted in Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, “Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow.” Vanity Fair, March 2007[2]

“We make American military doctrine” Ed Soyster, MPRI[3]

The Myth of the Grand Chessboard: Geopolitics and Imperial Folie de Grandeur

In the Road to 9/11 I summarized the dialectic of open societies: how from their energy they expand, leading to a higher level of more secretive corporations and agencies, which eventually weaken the home country through needless and crushing wars.[4] I am not alone in seeing America in the final stages of this process, which since the Renaissance has brought down Spain, the Netherlands, and Great Britain.

Much of what I wrote summarized the thoughts of writers before me like Paul Kennedy and Kevin Phillips. But there is one aspect of the curse of expansion that I underemphasized: how dominance creates megalomanic illusions of insuperable control, and how this illusion in turn is crystallized into a prevailing ideology of dominance. I am surprised that so few, heretofore, have pointed out that from a public point of view these ideologies are delusional, indeed perhaps insane. In this essay I will argue however that what looks demented from a public viewpoint makes sense from the narrower perspective of those profiting from the provision of private entrepreneurial violence and intelligence.

The ideology of dominance was expressed for British rulers by Sir Halford Mackinder in 1919: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World.”[5] This sentence, though expressed after the power of Britain had already begun to decline, accurately articulated the anxieties of imperial planners who saw themselves playing “the Great Game,” and who thus in 1809 sacrificed an entire British army of twelve thousand men in the wilderness of Afghanistan.

Expanded by Karl Haushofer and other Germans into the alleged “science” of geopolitics, this doctrine helped to inspire Hitler’s disastrous Drang nach Osten, which in short order terminated the millenary hopes of the Nazi Third Reich. One might have thought that by now the lessons of Napoleon and Hitler would have subdued all illusions that any single power could command the “World Island,” let alone the world.

Kissinger for one appears to have learned this lesson, when he wrote that: “By geopolitical, I mean an approach that pays attention to the requirements of equilibrium.”[6] But (largely because of his commitment to equilibrium in world order) Kissinger was swept aside by events in the mid-1970s, leading to the triumph of the global dominance mindset, as expressed by thinkers like Zbigniew Brzezinski.[7]

Brzezinski himself has recognized how his gratuitous machinations in Afghanistan in 1978-79 produced the responses of al Qaeda and jihadi terrorism. Asked in 1998 whether he regretted his adventurism, Brzezinski replied:

“Regret what? The secret operation was an excellent idea. It drew the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? On the day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, saying, in essence: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.’”

Nouvel Observateur: “And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?”

Brzezinski: “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”

When he was asked whether Islamic fundamentalism represented a world menace, Brzezinski replied, “Nonsense!”[8]

In some ways, the post-Afghanistan Brzezinski has become more moderate in his expectations from U.S. power: he notably warned against the Gulf War in 1990 and also Vice-President Cheney’s agitations when in office for some kind of preemptive strike against Iran. But he has never retracted the Mackinderite rhetoric of his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard, which revives the illusion of “controlling” the Eurasian heartland:

For the first time ever, a non-Eurasian power has emerged not only as a key arbiter of Eurasian power relations but also as the world’s paramount power. The defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union was the final step in the rapid ascendance of a Western Hemisphere power, the United States, as the sole and, indeed, the first truly global power.” (p. xiii)

“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… Now a non-Eurasian power is preeminent in Eurasia – and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.” (p.30)

“To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” (p.40)[9]

This kind of brash talk is not unique to Brzezinski. Its call for unilateral dominance echoed the 1992 draft DPG (Defense Planning Guidance) prepared for Defense Secretary Cheney by neocons Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis “Scooter” Libby: “We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”[10] It is echoed both in the 2000 PNAC Study, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” and the Bush-Cheney National Security Strategy of September 2002 (NSS 2002).[11] And it is epitomized by the megalomanic JCS strategic document Joint Vision 2020, “Full-spectrum dominance means the ability of U.S. forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations.”[12]

Such overblown rhetoric is out of touch with reality, dangerously delusional, and even arguably insane. It is however useful, even vital, to those corporations who have become accustomed to profiting from the Cold War, and who faced deep cuts in U.S. defense and intelligence spending in the first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They are joined by other groups (discussed below) that also have a stake in preserving the dominance mindset in Washington. These include the new purveyors of privatized military services, or what can be called entrepreneurial violence, in response to defense budget cuts.

The Real Grand Chessboard: Those Profiting from Enduring Violence

The delusional grandiosity of Brzezinski’s rhetoric is inherent above all in the false metaphor of his book title. “Vassals” are not chess pieces to be moved effortlessly by a single hand. They are human beings with minds of their own; and among humans an unjust excess of power is certain to provoke not only resentment but ultimately successful resistance. One can see this easily in Asia, from the evolution of anti-Americanism in Iran to the Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT) in Central Asia: although still ostensibly nonviolent, HT’s rhetoric is now more and more aggressively anti-American.[13]

The notion of a single chess player is equally false, especially in Central Asia, where dominant states (the U.S., Russia, and China) and local states are all alike weak. Here major multinational corporations like BP and Exxon are major players. In countries like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan they dwarf both local state power and also the U.S. governmental presence, whether official or covert. The true local powers are apt to be two which governments are notoriously inept at controlling: first, the “agitated Muslims” which Brzezinski insanely derided, and second, illicit trafficking, above all drug trafficking.[14]

Ultimately however Brzezinski is not constrained by his chess metaphor. The goal of a chess game is to win. Brzezinski’s goal is quite different: to exert permanent restraints on the power of China and above all Russia. He has thus sensibly opposed destabilizing moves like a western strike on Iran, while supporting the permanent containment of Russia with a ring of western bases and pipelines. (In 1995 Brzezinski flew to Azerbaijan and helped negotiate the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline linking Azerbaijan to Turkey.)[15]

As I have argued elsewhere, Brzezinski (though he no doubt thinks to himself in terms of strategy) thus promotes a policy that very much suits the needs of the oil industry and its backers. These last include his patrons the Rockefellers, who first launched him into national prominence.[16]

In March 2001 the biggest oil majors (Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco, and Shell) had their opportunity to design the incoming administration’s energy strategies, including Middle East policy, by participating secretly in Vice-President Cheney’s Energy Task Force.[17] The Task Force, we learned later, developed a map of Iraq’s oil fields, with the southwest divided into nine “Exploration Blocks.” One month earlier a Bush National Security Council document had noted that Cheney’s Task force would consider “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.”[18] Earlier the oil companies had participated in a non-governmental task force calling for “an immediate policy review toward Iraq including military, energy, economic and political/diplomatic assessments.”[19]

Of course, oil companies were not alone in pushing for military action against Iraq. After 9/11, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith established the Pentagon’s neocon Office of Special Plans (OSP), which soon “rivalled both the C.I.A. and the Pentagon’s own Defense Intelligence Agency, the D.I.A., as President Bush’s main source of intelligence regarding Iraq’s possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection with Al Qaeda.”[20] Neocon influence in the Administration, supported by Lewis Libby in Vice-President Cheney’s office, trumped the skepticism of CIA and DIA: these two false charges against Saddam Hussein, or what one critic called “faith-based intelligence,” became briefly the official ideology of the United States. Some, notably Dick Cheney, have never recanted.

Many journalists were eager to promote the OSP doctrines. Judith Miller of the New York Times wrote a series of articles on Saddam’s WMD, relying, like OSP itself, on the propaganda of Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi.[21] Miller’s book collaborator Laurie Mylroie went even further, arguing that “Saddam was not only behind the ’93 Trade Center attack, but also every anti-American terrorist incident of the past decade, from the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania to the leveling of the federal building in Oklahoma City to September 11 itself.”[22] Many of these advocates, notably Feith, Libby, and Mylroie, had links to Israel, which as much as any oil company had reasons to wish for U.S. armies to become established militarily in Central Asia.[23]

Private Military Contractors (PMCs), Whose Business is Violence for Profit

The inappropriateness of a military response to the threat of terrorism has been noted by a number of counterterrorism experts, such as retired U.S. Army colonel Andrew Bacevich:

the concept of global war as the response to violent Islamic radicalism is flawed. We ought not be in the business of invading and occupying other countries. That’s not going to address the threat. It is, on the other hand, going to bankrupt the country and break the military.[24]

Because of budgetary constraints, America has resorted to uncontrollable subordinates to represent its public power in these remote places. I shall focus chiefly in this essay on one group of these, the so-called Private Military Contractors (PMCs) who are authorized to commit violence in the name of their employers. These corporations are reminiscent of the marauding condottieri or private mercenary armies contracted for by the wealthy city states of Renaissance Italy.[25]

With the hindsight of history, we can see the contribution of the notoriously capricious Condottieri to the violence they are supposedly hired to deal with. Some, when unemployed, became little more than predatory bandits. Others, like the celebrated Farinata whom Dante placed in the Inferno, turned against their native cities. Above all, the de facto power accumulated by the condottieri meant that, with the passage of time, they came to dictate terms to their ostensible employers.[26] (They were an early example of entrepreneurial violence, and the most common way of avoiding their path of destruction was “to buy reprieve by offering bribes.”[27])

To offset the pressure on limited armed forces assets, Donald Rumsfeld escalated the increasing use of Private Military Contractors (PMCs) in the Iraq War. At one point as many as 100,000 personnel were employed by PMCs in the US Iraq occupation. Some of them were involved in controversial events there, such as the Iraq Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and the killing and burning of four contract employees in Fallujah. The license of the most controversial firm, Blackwater, was terminated by the Iraqi government in 2007, after eight Iraqi civilians were gratuitously killed in a firefight that followed a car bomb explosion.[28] (After much negative publicity, Blackwater renamed itself in 2009 as Xe Worldwide.)

Insufficiently noticed in the public furor over PMCs like Blackwater was the difference in motivation between them and the Pentagon. Whereas the stated goal of Rumsfeld and the armed forces in Iraq was to end violence there, the PMCs clearly had a financial stake in its continuation. Hence it is no surprise that some of the largest PMCs were also political supporters for pursuing the ill-conceived “War on Terror.”

Blackwater was the most notorious example; Erik Prince, its founder and sole owner, is part of a family that figures among the major contributors to the Republican Party and other right-wing causes, such as the Council for National Policy. His sister once told the press that “my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party.”[29]

Private Intelligence Companies and the Provision of Violence

Blackwater has attracted the critical attention of the American Mainstream Media. But it was a mere knight on the grand chessboard, albeit one with the ability to influence the moves of the game. Far less noticed has been given to Diligence LLC. Diligence, a more powerful company, that unlike Blackwater interfaced heavily with Wall Street, “set up shop in Baghdad [in July 2003] to provide security for companies involved in Iraqi reconstruction. In December, it established a new subsidiary called Diligence Middle East, and expanded its services to include screening, vetting and training of local hires, and the provision of daily intelligence briefs for its corporate clients.”[30]

Certainly the political clout of Diligence outshone and outlasted Blackwater’s. Two of its founding directors (Lanny Griffiths and Ed Rogers) were also founders of the influential Republican lobbying team Barbour Griffiths and Rogers (later renamed BGR). Haley Barbour, the senior founder of BGR, also served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997.

Diligence LLC was licensed to do business in Iraq as a private military contractor (PMC). But it could be called a Private Intelligence Contractor (PIC), since it is virtually a CIA spin-off:

Diligence was founded by William Webster, the only man to head both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mike Baker, its chief executive officer, spent 14 years at the CIA as a covert field operations officer specializing in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. Whitley Bruner, its chief operating officer in Baghdad, was once the CIA station chief in Iraq.[31]

Its partner in Diligence Middle East (DME) is New Bridge Strategies, whose purpose has been described by the New York Times as “a consulting firm to advise companies that want to do business in Iraq, including those seeking pieces of taxpayer-financed reconstruction projects.”[32] Its political clout was outlined in the Financial Times:

New Bridge was established in May [2003] and came to public attention because of the Republican heavyweights on its board – most linked to one or other Bush administration [officials] or to the family itself. Those include Joe Allbaugh, George W. Bush’s presidential campaign manager, and Ed Rogers and Lanny Griffith, former George H.W. Bush aides.[33]

The firm of Barbour, Griffith and Rogers was the initial funder of Diligence, which shares an office floor with BGR and New Bridge in a building four blocks from the White House. The Financial Times linked the success of New Bridge in securing contracts to their relationship to Neil Bush, the President’s brother.[34] When Mack McLarty, Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff, resigned, he became a director of Diligence, and also joined Henry Kissinger to head, until 2008, Kissinger McLarty Associates.

Another Private Intelligence Contractor or PIC is Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), an $8 billion corporation involved in defense, intelligence community, and homeland security contracting. In the words of veteran journalists Donald Barlett and James Steele,

SAIC has displayed an uncanny ability to thrive in every conceivable political climate. It 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.” SAIC represents, in other words, a private business that has become a form of permanent government….[SAIC] epitomizes something beyond Eisenhower’s worst nightmare—the “military-industrial-counterterrorism complex.”[35]

(Later their article made it clear that SAIC is not a unified bureaucracy, but more like a platform for individual entrepreneurship in obtaining contracts: “at SAIC your job fundamentally was to sell your high-tech ideas and blue-chip expertise to [any] government agency with money to spend and an impulse to buy.”)[36]

Before becoming Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates was a member of SAIC’s board of directors. SAIC personnel have also been recruited from CIA, NSA, and DARPA.

Scores of influential members of the national-security establishment clambered onto SAIC’s payroll, among them John M. Deutch, undersecretary of energy under President Jimmy Carter and C.I.A. director under President Bill Clinton; Rear Admiral William F. Raborn, who headed development of the Polaris submarine; and Rear Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, who served variously as director of the National Security Agency, deputy director of the C.I.A., and vice director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.[37]

SAIC helped supply the faulty intelligence about Saddam’s WMD that then generated ample contracts for SAIC in Iraq.

SAIC personnel were instrumental in pressing the case that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and that war was the only way to get rid of them. When no weapons of mass destruction were found, SAIC personnel staffed the commission set up to investigate how American intelligence could have been so disastrously wrong, including Gordon Oehler, the commission’s deputy director for review, a 25-year CIA veteran, Jeffrey R. Cooper, vice president and chief science officer for one of SAIC’s sub-units and Samuel Visner, a SAIC vice president for corporate development who had also passed through the revolving door and back to the NSA. David Kay, who later chaired the Iraq Survey Group (which showed that Hussein didn’t possess WMD, thereby proving that the war was launched under false pretenses), is also an SAIC shareholder and former director of SAIC’s Center for Counterterrorism Technology and Analysis.[38]

Needless to say, this SAIC-stuffed commission did not report that SAIC itself had been a big part of the problem. But according to Barlett and Steele, the same David Kay in 1998 told the Senate Armed Services Committee:

that Saddam Hussein “remains in power with weapons of mass destruction” and that “military action is needed.” He warns that unless America acts now “we’re going to find the world’s greatest military with its hands tied.”

Over the next four years, Kay and others associated with SAIC hammered away at the threat posed by Iraq. Wayne Downing, a retired general and a close associate of Ahmad Chalabi, proselytized hard for an invasion of Iraq, stating that the Iraqis “are ready to take the war … overseas. They would use whatever means they have to attack us.” In many of his appearances on network and cable television leading up to the war, Downing was identified simply as a “military analyst.” It would have been just as accurate to note that he was a member of SAIC’s board of directors and a company stockholder….

9/11 was a personal tragedy for thousands of families and a national tragedy for all of America, but it served the interests of private intellience and military contractors including SAIC. In the aftermath of the attacks, the Bush administration launched its “Global War on Terror” (GWOT), whose chief consequence has been to channel money by the tens of billions into companies promising they could do something—anything—to help. SAIC was ready. Four years earlier, anticipating the next big source of government revenue, SAIC had established the Center for Counterterrorism Technology and Analysis. According to SAIC, the purpose of the new unit was to take “a comprehensive view of terrorist threats, including the full range of weapons of mass destruction, more traditional high explosives, and cyber-threats to the national infrastructure.” In October of 2006 the company told would-be investors flatly that the war on terror would continue to be a lucrative growth industry.[39]

Barlett and Steele could have mentioned that SAIC senior analyst Fritz Ermarth, a long-time associate of Gates from his years in the CIA, is now an official of the Nixon Center. Commenting in 2003 on State Secretary Colin Powell’s briefing to the UN Security Council, Ermarth praised Powell for his charges (repeating one of Judith Miller’s false stories) about Saddam’s acquisition of aluminum tubing “for centrifuges and not rocketry.” Ermarth faulted Powell however for not mentioning two matters: Iraqi involvement in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 (a charge by Laurie Mylroie now generally discredited), and that “During the 1970s and 1980s…the USSR and its allies supported terrorists in Western Europe and in Turkey,” (alluding to the false charges, promoted at the time by Robert Gates and Claire Sterling, about Mehmet Ali Agça’s attempted assassination of Pope Paul II).[40]

I certainly do not wish to suggest that SAIC single-handedly created the will to fight in Iraq. The combined efforts of defense contractors, oil companies, PMCs and PICs created a mindset in which all those eager for power were caught up, including, I have to say, career-minded academics. In Iraq as in Afghanistan and Vietnam a generation earlier, a sure ticket to consultations in Washington was support for interventions that ordinary people could see would be disastrous.

The yea-saying of academics has approved even the privatization of intelligence which we have just been describing. According to political scientist Anna Leander,

Private firms not only provide, but also analyse intelligence. Private translators, analysts and ‘interrogators’ are hired, as illustrated by the involvement of Titan and CACI in Abu Ghraib. Even more directly, private firms are hired in to assess threats and risks and suggest what to do about them. This involves constructing a security picture as done for example, by Diligence LLC and SAIC, two firms specialised in intelligence gathering and analysis….. This privatisation of intelligence has direct consequences for the relation between PMCs and security discourses. It places the firms in a position where they are directly involved in producing these discourses. They provide a growing share of the information that forms the basis of decisions on whether or not something is a security concern.

Leander concludes that this privatization is beneficial: it “empower[s] a more military understanding of security which, in turn, empowers PMCs as particularly legitimate security experts.”[41]

Another political scientist, Chaim Kaufmann, has noted more critically that arguments for escalation and what he calls threat inflation against Iraq were not adequately disciplined by “the marketplace of ideas.” He gives five reasons for this failure, duly supported by other political scientists. But the obvious reason mentioned by Barlett and Steele – profit – is not mentioned.[42]

What we have been talking about until now is advocacy disguised as expertise. But overseas associates of Diligence LLC and its allies have also been accused of false-flag operations intended to provoke war.

The passage of the Patriot Act generated a new realm of profit for SAIC contractors — domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens – as well as new intelligence fusion centers to carry this out.

“As part of the Pentagon’s domestic security mission, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created the Counterintelligence Field Activity office in 2002 and filled its staff with contractors from Booz Allen, BAE systems, SAIC, and other suppliers of cleared personnel. CIFA, as we’ve seen, was used against people suspected of harboring ill will against the Bush administration and its policies….At present, there are forty-three current and planned fusion centers in the United States where data from intelligence agencies, the FBI, local police, private sector databases, and anonymous tipsters are combined and analyzed by counterterrorism analysts…. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the project “inculcates the project “inculcates DHS with enormous domestic surveillance powers.”[43]

These fusion centers, “which combine the military, the FBI, state police, and others, have been internally promoted by the US Army as means to avoid restrictions preventing the military from spying on the domestic population.” [44] Responding to such criticisms, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano stated in March 2009 that the mandate of fusion centers was not to launch independent domestic surveillance operations but connect the dots between lawfully obtained information already in fragmented “siloed” databases.[45] She did not mention that some of this information was from private and even anonymous sources.

One SAIC contractor, Neoma Syke, worked at such a fusion center, wearing two hats:

During 2003-2004, she was “working for SAIC” as a force protection analyst with “SAIC’s” 205th Military Intelligence Battalion. And while she was “a contractor for SAIC”, specifically, “SAIC’s” 205th Military Intelligence Battalion, apparently she served as Counterintelligence Watch Officer at USARPAC’s Crisis Action Center.[46]

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is a poet, writer, and researcher. His latest prose books are The Road to 9/11 (2007) and his reissued and expanded War Conspiracy (2008). His new book of poems (including political poems) is Mosaic Orpheus, from McGill-Queen’s University Press. Visit his website at http://www.peterdalescott.net/

Notes

[1] Dwight David Eisenhower, “Military-Industrial Complex Speech,” 1961,
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/eisenhower001.asp.

[2] Former SAIC manager, in Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, “Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow.” Vanity Fair, March 2007,
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703?currentPage=1.

[3] The Economist, July 8, 1999.

[4] Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007), 7-9.

[5] Halford J. Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality (New York: Holt, 1919).

[6] Henry Kissinger, in Colin S Gray, G R Sloan. Geopolitics, Geography, and Strategy (Portland: Frank Cass Publishers, 1999).

[7] For the events leading to the displacement of Kissinger see Scott, The Road to 9/11, 50-54, etc.

[8] Le Nouvel Observateur, January 15-21, 1998. In his relentless determination to weaken the Soviet Un ion, Brzezinski also persuaded Carter to end U.S. sanctions against Pakistan for its pursuit of nuclear weapons (David Armstrong and Joseph J. Trento, America and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise (Steerforth, 2007). Thus Brzezinski’s obsession with the Soviet Union helped produce, as unintended byproducts, both al Qaeda and the Islamic atomic arsenal.

[9] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (New York: basic Books), xiii, 30, 40.

[10] Memorandum of February 18, 1992, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb245/index.htm.

[11] For specific parallels to The Grand Chessboard, see Scott, Road to 9/11, 191-2.

[12] “Joint Vision 2020 Emphasizes Full-spectrum Dominance,” DefenseLink,
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=45289, emphasis added.

[13] Zeyno Baran, “Hizb-ut-Tahrir: Islam’s Political Insurgency,” Nixon Center, December 2004,
www.HizbutahrirIslamsPoliticalInsurgency.pdf.

[14] Brzezinski was so unafraid of Islamic jihadism that when National Security Adviser he convened a working group to deliberately stir up Muslim dissatisfaction inside the Soviet Union (Scott, Road to 9/11, 70-71).

[15] He has since taken credit for persuading President Aliyyev of Azerbaijan to commit to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Geopolitically Speaking: Russia’s `Sphere of Influence’ – Chechnya and Beyond,” Azerbaijan International, Spring 2000, p. 24,
http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/81_folder/81_articles/81_brzezinski.html.

This pipeline, a favor to U.S. and British oil companies, makes geopolitical but not economic sense; and is further destabilizing an already tense region. See Pepe Escobar, “Liquid War Across Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific: Postcard from Pipelineistan,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, http://japanfocus.org/-Pepe-Escobar/3149.

[16] Scott, Road to 9/11, 70-79.

[17] Dana Milbank and Justin Blum, “Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force,” Washington Post, November 16, 2005. This story noted that CEOs of three majors had falsely denied this: ” A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney’s energy task force in 2001 — something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress….In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate `to my knowledge,’ and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know. Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that ‘gave detailed energy policy recommendations’ to the task force.”

[18] Scott, Road to 9/11, 188-89; citing Linda McQuaig, Crude Dudes,” Toronto Star, September 20, 2004; Jane Mayer, “Contract Sport,” New Yorker, February 16-23, 2004.

[19] Scott, Road to 9/11, 189; “Strategy Energy Policy: Challenges for the 21st Century,” Report of the James A. Baker Institute of Public Policy and Council on Foreign Relations Task Force, 40, emphasis added.

[20] Seymour M. Hersh, “Selective Intelligence: Donald Rumsfeld Has His Own Special Sources. Are They Reliable?” New Yorker, May 6, 2003

[21] Michael Massing, “Now They Tell Us,” New York Review of Books, February 26, 2004, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16922.

[22] Peter Bergen, “Armchair Provocateur — Laurie Mylroie: The Neocons’ favorite conspiracy theorist,” Washington Monthly, December 2003,
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0312.bergen.html.

[23] For Israel links, see Michael Lind, Made in Texas (New York, Basic Books), 139 (Feith); John J. Mearsheimer, Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 166, etc. (Libby); Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (New York: Crown, 2006), 68-70 (Mylroie).

[24] Jon Wiener, “Obama’s Limits: An Interview With Andrew Bacevich,” Nation, August 28, 2008,
http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/350252/obama_s_limits_an_interview_with_andrew_bacevich.
Cf. Andrew Bacevich, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008). Michael Scheuer also argues that the campaign against terrorism took a big step backwards when the U.S. invaded Iraq. “Experts Fears ‘Endless’ Terror War,” MSNBC, July 9, 2005, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8524679. Peter Bergen agrees: “Many jihadists are so happy that the Bush administration invaded Iraq. Without the Iraq war, their movement—under assault from without and riven from within—would have imploded a year or so after Sept. 11″ (Bergen, “The Jihadists Export Their Rage to Book Pages and Web Pages,” Washington Post, September 11, 2005). So does Richard Clarke (Against All Enemies, 246): “Nothing America could have done would have provided al Qaeda and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country.”

[25] I am not the first to notice the analogy. See e.g. Thomas Jäger and Gerhard Kümmel, Private Military and Security Companies (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2007), 22; Eugene B. Smith, “The New Condottieri and US Policy: The Privatization of Conflict and Its Implications,” U.S. Army War College, Parameters, Winter 2002,
www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/02winter/smith.pdf, 104.

[26] Michael Mallett, Mercenaries and their Masters: Warfare in Renaissance Italy (Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1974), 22.

[27] Donald J. Kagay and L. J. Andrew Villalon (eds.), Crusaders, Condottieri, and Cannon (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002), 286.

[28] “Iraq Reviewing Security Firms After Blackwater Shooting,” FoxNews.com, September 18, 2007,
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,297153,00.html.

[29] “The former Betsy Prince — Edgar and Elsa’s daughter, Erik’s sister — married into the DeVos family, one of the country’s biggest donors to Republican and conservative causes. (`I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party,’ Betsy DeVos wrote in a 1997 Op-Ed in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.) She chaired the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and again from 2003 to 2005, and her husband, Dick, ran as the Republican candidate for Michigan governor in 2006. Erik Prince himself is no slouch when it comes to giving to Republicans and cultivating relationships with important conservatives. He and his first and second wives have donated roughly $300,000 to Republican candidates and political action committees” (Ben Van Heuvelen, “The Bush administration’s ties to Blackwater,” Salon, October 2, 2007, http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/10/02/blackwater_bush/).
Cf. Robert Young Pelton, Licensed to Kill, Hired Guns in the War on Terror (New York: Crown Books, 2006).

[30] David Isenberg , “Corporate Mercenaries – Part 2: Myths and mystery,” AsiaTimes, May 19, 2004, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/FE20Ak02.html.

[31] David Isenberg, “Myths and mystery,” Asia Times, 5/20/04. While in CIA, Bruner negotiated the deal for Ahmad Chalabi and the CIA to work together (Aram Roston, The Man Who Pushed America to War [New York: Nation Books, 2009], 76). Bruner later joined BGR and in 2007 became the full time chairman of BKI Strategic Intelligence. In 2004 Bruner participated with BGR and an Israeli PMC operative in a scheme to help re-elect George W. Bush. (Laura Rozen, “From Kurdistan to K Street,” Mother Jones, November 2008,
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/11/kurdistan-k-street).

[32] Douglas Jehl, “Washington Insiders’ New Firm Consults on Contracts in Iraq,” New York Times, September 30, 2003.

[33] Financial Times, 12/11/03. Ed Rogers, Diligence’s vice chairman, was one of George H.W. Bush’s top assistants when he was US president. On resigning from the White House, he negotiated a lucrative contract to act as lobbyist for the former Saudi intelligence chief and BCCI front man Kamal Adham, at a time when American and British prosecutors were preparing criminal cases against him. Rogers used Adnan Khashoggi as a go-between to secure the contract, which was canceled after White House criticism of it (Truell and Gurwin, False Profits, 362-64).

[34] Ibid. Cf. Mother Jones, March/April 2004: “More recently, Bush scored a $60,000-a-year consulting deal from a top adviser to New Bridge Strategies, the firm set up by George W.’s ex-campaign manager to “take advantage of business opportunities” in postwar Iraq. His job description: taking calls for three hours a week.”

[35] “SAIC, which employs 44,000 people and took in $8 billion last year—sells brainpower, including a lot of the “expertise” behind the Iraq war….[SAIC is] a “stealth company” with 9,000 government contracts, many of which involve secret intelligence work” (Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, “Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow.” Vanity Fair, March 2007,
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703?currentPage=1).

[36] Barlett and Steele, “Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow.”

[37] Barlett and Steele, “Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow: “Mark A. Boster left his job as a deputy assistant attorney general in 1999 to join SAIC, and was already calling Justice three months later on behalf of his new employers—a violation of federal law. Boster paid $30,000 in a civil settlement.” Yet another PIC for a while was Interop, combining former CIA director James Woolsey and former FBI director Louis Freeh with former Mossad chief Danny Yatom (Rozen, “From Kurdistan to K Street).

[38] Charlie Cray, “Science Applications International Corporation,” CorpWatch, http://www.corpwatch.org/section.php?id=17; cf. Barlett and Steele, “Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow.”

[39] Barlett and Steele, “Washington’s $8 Billion Shadow.”

[40] Fritz W. Ermarth, “Colin Powell’s Briefing to the Security Council: Brief Comments from an Ex-Intelligence Officer,” In the National Interest, http://inthenationalinterest.com/Articles/Powell%27s%20UN%20Speech/Powell%27s%20UN%20speech%20ermarth.html. Ermarth’s remarks were also posted by Laurie Mylroie, “Fritz Ermarth, Iraq & Al Qaeda, In The National Interest,” February 5, 2003, www.mail-archive.com/sam11@erols.com/msg00040.html.

[41] Anna Leander, “The Power to Construct International Security: On the Significance of Private Military Companies,” Millennium – Journal of International Studies, 2005; 33; 803, emphasis added. At the time the Observer reported from ” sources in the Bush administration” an allegation that “members of the al-Qaeda network, detained and interrogated in Cairo, had obtained phials of anthrax in the Czech Republic” (“Iraq ‘behind US anthrax outbreaks,’” Observer, October 14, 2001, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/14/terrorism.afghanistan6).

[42] Chaim Kaufmann, “Threat Inflation and the Failure of the Marketplace of Ideas,” International Security (Summer 2004). http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/international_security/v029/29.1kaufmann.html. Neither SAIC nor Diligence is mentioned in his essay.

[43] Tim Shorrock, Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 344.

[44] Julian Assange, “The spy who billed me twice,” Wikileaks, http://wikileaks.org/wiki/The_spy_who_billed_me_twice. The March 2009 Army manual “US Army Concept of Operations for Police Intelligence Operations” contains phrases such as “It [fusion] does not have constraints that are emplaced on MI [Military Intelligence] activities within the US, because it operates under the auspice and oversight of the police discipline and standards.”

[45]  Phil Leggiere, “Napolitano Praises Fusion Centers.” HSToday, March 13, 2009, http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/7616/149/ .

[46] Assange, “The spy who billed me twice.”
Peter Dale Scott is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Peter Dale Scott

House approves $96.7 billion to fund wars

May 14, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News

Money to transfer Gitmo prisoners not included in war funds.

The US House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a 96.7-billion-dollar measure to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through October 1 as well as aid ally Pakistan.

Lawmakers passed the bill, which also included two billion dollars to prepare for fighting an influenza pandemic, by a lopsided 368-60 margin.

The measure did not include President Barack Obama’s request for 80 million dollars to close the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amid congressional concerns about what to do with the detainees there.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a 91.3 billion dollar version of the measure that includes the monies, but with tight restrictions forbidding their use to transfer or free any detainees on US soil.

After the full Senate votes, the two chambers will reconcile their rival versions to send a final bill to Obama.

The House bill includes 400 million dollars to help build up the Pakistani security forces’ ability to wage counterinsurgency warfare at a time when US lawmakers worry about the nuclear-armed ally’s stability.

And it includes another 600 million dollars in economic development aid to Pakistan and to improve education and democratic reforms there.

The spending measure includes 47.7 billion dollars to cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through October 1, and another 23 billion dollars to replace equipment damaged or worn out in the two conflicts.

Afghanistan would get about 980 million dollars for economic development and agriculture programs, to bolster national and provincial governments and democratic reforms.

Those monies would help Obama’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he announced March 27.

But the committee also attached a provision calling for a progress report in one year’s time on those two governments’ cooperation with US goals under the new approach.

“The president cannot wave a magic wand and end that war,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, a Democratic critic of the two wars.

“I have a profound doubt that he can succeed, not because of any problem with his policy but because I am dubious that there are the tools available in that region for us to succeed using any policy,” said Obey.

The supplemental measure also includes two billion dollars to prepare for fighting an influenza pandemic.

In addition, it includes 151 million dollars for economic and security assistance for Kenya, Somalia, southern Sudan and Zimbabwe, and 470 million to help Mexico in its war with illegal drug trafficking.

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