Friday, April 30, 2010

Israel's choice: Make peace or disappear

Israel's choice: Make peace or disappear
By Tzvia Greenfield

The student senate at Berkeley University in California recently passed a resolution calling for divestment from Israel. Prof. Judith Butler, the feminist theoretician, expounded to the enthusiastic audience on her new "Jewish" vision, which calls for renouncing the State of Israel. In this way, the intellectual elites once again expressed their strong belief in the theological principle whose basis is opposition to Western culture.

For these intellectuals, the Palestinians' struggle against Israel symbolizes the heroic uprising of the rejected and oppressed against the conquerors who have deprived them of their humanity and delegitimized their local narratives. And in this mythological and theological arena, there is no chance whatsoever of holding a sane debate based on facts and common sense.

Treating Israel as the worst representative of Western colonialism is particularly ironic given the Jewish people's minuscule size and Europe's virulent anti-Jewish history. Neither Russia's control of the Chechens, Irish grievances against the British or Basque grievances against the Spanish evoke the harsh criticism that Israel does. Perhaps because it does not pay to confront the Russians, while Britain and Spain really do offer their minorities democratic equality and full civil rights.

Israel, on the other hand, continues to control the Palestinians and the territories by force. And in order to maintain its Jewish identity, it also has no intention whatsoever of granting them equal civil rights. One does not have to be a critical intellectual to understand that this internal contradiction, in a state that considers itself advanced, Western and democratic, is untenable.

There is thus no way to avoid a solution that chooses one of two options - either withdrawing from all of the West Bank and establishing an independent state for the Palestinians, or granting full rights to everyone who lives under Israeli control, Palestinians as well as Jews. In that case, of course, Israel would lose its Zionist identity as the state of the Jewish people - and if it is even possible for Palestinians and Jews to live together after 100 years of hatred, the Jewish residents of Palestine would immediately turn into an insignificant minority that is at the mercy of the millions of Muslim Arabs round about.

A development of this kind, which would destroy the Zionist project, would cause most Jewish residents of the former Israel to abandon their country and try to find new solutions for themselves on an individual basis - assuming, of course, that what happened before the Holocaust would not repeat itself, and that the millions of new Jewish refugees would be able to find safe havens for themselves in the democratic countries of the West. A horrific scenario like this would take the entire Jewish people back to its historic situation of weakness and victimization, and it is hard to imagine it could take place without a tremendous upheaval.

Yet another terrifying possibility, of course, is that Israel would consciously renounce its own self-definition as a Western democracy. It would then gradually turn into a dictatorship that defines itself as Jewish. It would use armed force to continue to control all the territory west of the Jordan River, and would continue to deny the Palestinians' right to either freedom or equality. A choice of that kind would destroy Israel as a modern state, and accordingly also its ability to defend itself and to develop as a secure, flourishing, 21st-century society.

In this case as well, it is clear that most of the country's intelligentsia, and indeed anyone with initiative, would leave Israel. Israel would remain with its religious population and its rightists - some of whom are capable of defending it, but most of whom are devoid of high-level development and management skills. The Israeli-Jewish dictatorship would thus suffer from a substantive weakness that would eventually lead to its defeat at the hands of its Muslim enemies.

It is sad to think that this process has apparently already started: The collapse of education and higher learning, together with the political corruption and the tremendous growth of those sectors that are not prepared to share the social, economic and military burden, is encouraging the more talented and diligent Israelis to leave the sinking Jewish ship....

Even if treating Israel as the country that embodies the ultimate evil in fact expresses a new and ugly incarnation of traditional anti-Semitism, which always viewed the Jews as the representative of all the world's ills, the truth is still simple, but difficult to face: An Israel that does not allow the Palestinian situation to be resolved has effectively announced its own inexorable death, via the gradual destruction of the resources of knowledge and talent that have enabled it to develop and defend itself until now. In order to save Israel, we must immediately separate from the territories and their inhabitants.
Israel is frightened of defining itself. Lack of defined borders is the physical representation of this fear, inability to choose between one state and two state is the mental representation of this fear. Those who want neither two-state nor one-state because of a logic already laid out by many commentators that does not need re-elaboration here, harbor a hope that things will resolve themselves by events, never mind how they happen or what the hardship, that see the remainder of the Palestinians both within and without the Green Line somehow ending up somewhere else. Few will say so in so many words, but that`s how it is. Would even Jabotinsky have enjoyed the spectacle of today`s East Jerusalem and teenage settlers displacing Arab refugee families from their homes in our name? Ms Greenfield is right about such a path, Einstein was right, Yishayahu Leibowitz was right, but who`s listening?

RIDICULOUS....! I am pissed that you would characterize those of us Jews who don't think like you do as somehow enabling another holocaust or opposing Jews and Israelis who defend themselves....

That's what infuriates me about conservative Jews. These big bearded, torah tapping phonies just assume that the poor Israelis are just trying to protect themselves and those evil Arabs always try to kill them....

No one is listening to you anymore. Israelis are just as capable of committing atrocities as anyone else, including Nazis. It's ironic that many conservative Jews implore us to remember the holocaust while encouraging the very same thing to be done to those dirty, less than human Arabs....

Luckily, most of us Jews know how to think for ourselves and aren't fooled by our backward, outdated relics who bleat and whine about protecting Israel. Newsflash: Israel has become immensely powerful. We must monitor them as we monitor those with power to make sure that they don't abuse it, as they have done for decades in Lebanon and Palestine and most recently in Gaza....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Peace that could happen (but won't)

Peace that could happen (but won't)
By Noam Chomsky

The fact that the Israel-Palestine conflict grinds on without resolution might appear to be rather strange. For many of the world's conflicts, it is difficult even to conjure up a feasible settlement. In this case, it is not only possible, but there is near universal agreement on its basic contours: a two-state settlement along the internationally recognized (pre-June 1967) borders - with "minor and mutual modifications," to adopt official United States terminology before Washington departed from the international community in the mid-1970s.

The basic principles have been accepted by virtually the entire world, including the Arab states (who go on to call for full normalization of relations), the Organization of Islamic States (including Iran), and relevant non-state actors (including Hamas). A settlement along these lines was first proposed at the United

Nations Security Council in January 1976 by the major Arab states. Israel refused to attend the session. The US vetoed the resolution, and did so again in 1980. The record at the General Assembly since is similar.

There was one important and revealing break in US-Israeli rejectionism. After the failed Camp David agreements in 2000, President Bill Clinton recognized that the terms he and Israel had proposed were unacceptable to any Palestinians. That December, he proposed his "parameters": imprecise, but more forthcoming. He then stated that both sides had accepted the parameters, while expressing reservations.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Taba, Egypt, in January 2001 to resolve the differences and were making considerable progress. In their final press conference, they reported that, with a little more time, they could probably have reached full agreement. Israel called off the negotiations prematurely, however, and official progress then terminated, though informal discussions at a high level continued leading to the Geneva Accord, rejected by Israel and ignored by the US.

A good deal has happened since, but a settlement along those lines is still not out of reach - if, of course, Washington is once again willing to accept it. Unfortunately, there is little sign of that.

Substantial mythology has been created about the entire record, but the basic facts are clear enough and quite well documented.

The US and Israel have been acting in tandem to extend and deepen the occupation. In 2005, recognizing that it was pointless to subsidize a few thousand Israeli settlers in Gaza, who were appropriating substantial resources and protected by a large part of the Israeli army, the government of Ariel Sharon decided to move them to the much more valuable West Bank and Golan Heights.

Instead of carrying out the operation straightforwardly, which would have been easy enough, the government decided to stage a "national trauma", which virtually duplicated the farce accompanying the withdrawal from the Sinai desert after the Camp David agreements of 1978-79. In each case, the withdrawal permitted the cry of "Never Again", which meant in practice: we cannot abandon an inch of the Palestinian territories that we want to take in violation of international law. This farce played very well in the West, though it was ridiculed by more astute Israeli commentators, among them that country's prominent sociologist, the late Baruch Kimmerling.

After its formal withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel never actually relinquished its total control over the territory, often described realistically as "the world's largest prison". In January 2006, a few months after the withdrawal, Palestine had an election that was recognized as free and fair by international observers. Palestinians, however, voted "the wrong way", electing Hamas. Instantly, the US and Israel intensified their assault against Gazans as punishment for this misdeed. The facts and the reasoning were not concealed; rather, they were openly published alongside reverential commentary on Washington's sincere dedication to democracy. The US-backed Israeli assault against the Gazans has only been intensified since, thanks to violence and economic strangulation which is increasingly savage.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, always with firm US backing, Israel has been carrying forward longstanding programs to take the valuable land and resources of the Palestinians and leave them in unviable cantons, mostly out of sight. Israeli commentators frankly refer to these goals as "neo-colonial". Ariel Sharon, the main architect of the settlement programs, called these cantons "Bantustans", though the term is misleading: South Africa needed the majority black work force, while Israel would be happy if the Palestinians disappeared, and its policies are directed to that end.

Blockading Gaza by land and sea
One step towards cantonization and the undermining of hopes for Palestinian national survival is the separation of Gaza from the West Bank. These hopes have been almost entirely consigned to oblivion, an atrocity to which we should not contribute by tacit consent. Israeli journalist Amira Hass, one of the leading specialists on Gaza, writes that
The restrictions on Palestinian movement that Israel introduced in January 1991 reversed a process that had been initiated in June 1967. Back then, and for the first time since 1948, a large portion of the Palestinian people again lived in the open territory of a single country - to be sure, one that was occupied, but was nevertheless whole ... The total separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank is one of the greatest achievements of Israeli politics, whose overarching objective is to prevent a solution based on international decisions and understandings and instead dictate an arrangement based on Israel's military superiority ...

Since January 1991, Israel has bureaucratically and logistically merely perfected the split and the separation: not only between Palestinians in the occupied territories and their brothers in Israel, but also between the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and those in the rest of the territories and between Gazans and West Bankers/Jerusalemites. Jews live in this same piece of land within a superior and separate system of privileges, laws, services, physical infrastructure and freedom of movement.
The leading academic specialist on Gaza, Harvard scholar Sara Roy, adds:
Gaza is an example of a society that has been deliberately reduced to a state of abject destitution, its once productive population transformed into one of aid-dependent paupers ... Gaza's subjection began long before Israel's recent war against it [December 2008]. The Israeli occupation - now largely forgotten or denied by the international community - has devastated Gaza's economy and people, especially since 2006 ... After Israel's December [2008] assault, Gaza's already compromised conditions have become virtually unlivable. Livelihoods, homes, and public infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed on a scale that even the Israel Defense Forces admitted was indefensible.

In Gaza today, there is no private sector to speak of and no
industry. Eighty percent of Gaza's agricultural crops were destroyed and Israel continues to snipe at farmers attempting to plant and tend fields near the well-fenced and patrolled border. Most productive activity has been extinguished ... Today, 96% of Gaza's population of 1.4 million is dependent on humanitarian aid for basic needs. According to the World Food Programme, the Gaza Strip requires a minimum of 400 trucks of food every day just to meet the basic nutritional needs of the population. Yet, despite a March [22, 2009] decision by the Israeli cabinet to lift all restrictions on foodstuffs entering Gaza, only 653 trucks of food and other supplies were allowed entry during the week of May 10 [that year], at best meeting 23% of required needs. Israel now allows only 30 to 40 commercial items to enter Gaza compared to 4,000 approved products prior to June 2006.
It cannot be stressed too often that Israel had no credible pretext for its 2008-9 attack on Gaza, with full US support and illegally using US weapons. Near-universal opinion asserts the contrary, claiming that Israel was acting in self-defense. That is utterly unsustainable, in light of Israel's flat rejection of peaceful means that were readily available, as Israel and its US partner in crime knew very well. That aside, Israel's siege of Gaza is itself an act of war, as Israel of all countries certainly recognizes, having repeatedly justified launching major wars on grounds of partial restrictions on its access to the outside world, though nothing remotely like what it has long imposed on Gaza.

One crucial element of Israel's criminal siege, little reported, is the naval blockade. Peter Beaumont reports from Gaza that, "on its coastal littoral, Gaza's limitations are marked by a different fence where the bars are Israeli gunboats with their huge wakes, scurrying beyond the Palestinian fishing boats and preventing them from going outside a zone imposed by the warships". According to reports from the scene, the naval siege has been tightened steadily since 2000. Fishing boats have been driven steadily out of Gaza's territorial waters and toward the shore by Israeli gunboats, often violently without warning and with many casualties. As a result of these naval actions, Gaza's fishing industry has virtually collapsed; fishing is impossible near shore because of the contamination caused by Israel's regular attacks, including the destruction of power plants and sewage facilities.

These Israeli naval attacks began shortly after the discovery by the BG (British Gas) Group of what appear to be quite sizeable natural gas fields in Gaza's territorial waters. Industry journals report that Israel is already appropriating these Gazan resources for its own use, part of its commitment to shift its economy to natural gas. The standard industry source reports:
Israel's finance ministry has given the Israel Electric Corp (IEC) approval to purchase larger quantities of natural gas from BG than originally agreed upon, according to Israeli government sources [which] said the state-owned utility would be able to negotiate for as much as 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Marine field located off the Mediterranean coast of the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip.

Last year the Israeli government approved the purchase of 800 million cubic meters of gas from the field by the IEC ... Recently the Israeli government changed its policy and decided the state-owned utility could buy the entire quantity of gas from the Gaza Marine field. Previously the government had said the IEC could buy half the total amount and the remainder would be bought by private power producers.
The pillage of what could become a major source of income for Gaza is surely known to US authorities. It is only reasonable to suppose that the intention to appropriate these limited resources, either by Israel alone or together with the collaborationist Palestinian Authority, is the motive for preventing Gazan fishing boats from entering Gaza's territorial waters.

There are some instructive precedents. In 1989, Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans signed a treaty with his Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas granting Australia rights to the substantial oil reserves in "the Indonesian Province of East Timor". The Indonesia-Australia Timor Gap Treaty, which offered not a crumb to the people whose oil was being stolen, "is the only legal agreement anywhere in the world that effectively recognizes Indonesia's right to rule East Timor", the Australian press reported.

Asked about his willingness to recognize the Indonesian conquest and to rob the sole resource of the conquered territory, which had been subjected to near-genocidal slaughter by the Indonesian invader with the strong support of Australia (along with the US, the UK, and some others), Evans explained that "there is no binding legal obligation not to recognize the acquisition of territory that was acquired by force," adding that "the world is a pretty unfair place, littered with examples of acquisition by force".

It should, then, be unproblematic for Israel to follow suit in Gaza.

A few years later, Evans became the leading figure in the campaign to introduce the concept "responsibility to protect" - known as R2P - into international law. R2P is intended to establish an international obligation to protect populations from grave crimes. Evans is the author of a major book on the subject and was co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which issued what is considered the basic document on R2P.

In an article devoted to this "idealistic effort to establish a new humanitarian principle", the London Economist featured Evans and his "bold but passionate claim on behalf of a three-word expression which (in quite large part thanks to his efforts) now belongs to the language of diplomacy: the 'responsibility to protect.'"

The article is accompanied by a picture of Evans with the caption "Evans: a lifelong passion to protect". His hand is pressed to his forehead in despair over the difficulties faced by his idealistic effort. The journal chose not to run a different photo that circulated in Australia, depicting Evans and Alatas exuberantly clasping their hands together as they toast the Timor Gap Treaty that they had just signed.

Though a "protected population" under international law, Gazans do not fall under the jurisdiction of the "responsibility to protect", joining other unfortunates, in accord with the maxim of Thucydides - that the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must - which holds with its customary precision.

Obama and the settlements
The kinds of restrictions on movement used to destroy Gaza have long been in force in the West Bank as well, less cruelly but with grim effects on life and the economy. The World Bank reports that Israel has established "a complex closure regime that restricts Palestinian access to large areas of the West Bank ... The Palestinian economy has remained stagnant, largely because of the sharp downturn in Gaza and Israel's continued restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement in the West Bank."

The World Bank "cited Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints hindering trade and travel, as well as restrictions on Palestinian building in the West Bank, where the Western-backed government of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas holds sway." Israel does permit - indeed encourage - a privileged existence for elites in Ramallah and sometimes elsewhere, largely relying on European funding, a traditional feature of colonial and neo-colonial practice.

All of this constitutes what Israeli activist Jeff Halper calls a "matrix of control" to subdue the colonized population. These systematic programs over more than 40 years aim to establish defense minister Moshe Dayan's recommendation to his colleagues shortly after Israel's 1967 conquests that we must tell the Palestinians in the territories: "We have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads."

Turning to the second bone of contention, settlements, there is indeed a confrontation, but it is rather less dramatic than portrayed. Washington's position was presented most strongly in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's much-quoted statement rejecting "natural growth exceptions" to the policy opposing new settlements. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with President Shimon Peres and, in fact, virtually the whole Israeli political spectrum, insists on permitting "natural growth" within the areas that Israel intends to annex, complaining that the US is backing down on George W Bush's authorization of such expansion within his "vision" of a Palestinian state.

Senior Netanyahu cabinet members have gone further. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced that "the current Israeli government will not accept in any way the freezing of legal settlement activity in Judea and Samaria". The term "legal" in US-Israeli parlance means "illegal, but authorized by the government of Israel with a wink from Washington". In this usage, unauthorized outposts are termed "illegal," though apart from the dictates of the powerful, they are no more illegal than the settlements granted to Israel under Bush's "vision" and Obama's scrupulous omission.

The Obama-Clinton "hardball" formulation is not new. It repeats the wording of the Bush administration draft of the 2003 Road Map, which stipulates that in Phase I, "Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)." All sides formally accept the Road Map (modified to drop the phrase "natural growth") - consistently overlooking the fact that Israel, with US support, at once added 14 "reservations" that render it inoperable.

If Obama were at all serious about opposing settlement expansion, he could easily proceed with concrete measures by, for example, reducing US aid by the amount devoted to this purpose. That would hardly be a radical or courageous move. The first George W Bush administration did so (reducing loan guarantees), but after the Oslo accord in 1993, president Clinton left calculations to the government of Israel. Unsurprisingly, there was "no change in the expenditures flowing to the settlements," the Israeli press reported. "[Prime minister] Rabin will continue not to dry out the settlements," the report concludes. "And the Americans? They will understand."

Obama administration officials informed the press that the Bush measures are "not under discussion", and that pressures will be "largely symbolic". In short, Obama understands, just as Clinton and Bush.

American visionaries
At best, settlement expansion is a side issue, rather like the issue of "illegal outposts" - namely those that the government of Israel has not authorized. Concentration on these issues diverts attention from the fact that there are no "legal outposts" and that it is the existing settlements that are the primary problem to be faced.

The US press reports that "a partial freeze has been in place for several years, but settlers have found ways around the strictures ... [C]onstruction in the settlements has slowed but never stopped, continuing at an annual rate of about 1,500 to 2,000 units over the past three years. If building continues at the 2008 rate, the 46,500 units already approved will be completed in about 20 years ... If Israel built all the housing units already approved in the nation's overall master plan for settlements, it would almost double the number of settler homes in the West Bank."

Peace Now, which monitors settlement activities, estimates further that the two largest settlements would double in size: Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim, built mainly during the Oslo years in the salients that subdivide the West Bank into cantons.

"Natural population growth" is largely a myth, Israel's leading diplomatic correspondent, Akiva Eldar, points out, citing demographic studies by Colonel (res) Shaul Arieli, deputy military secretary to former prime minister and incumbent Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Settlement growth consists largely of Israeli immigrants in violation of the Geneva Conventions, assisted with generous subsidies. Much of it is in direct violation of formal government decisions, but carried out with the authorization of the government, specifically Barak, who is considered a dove in the Israeli spectrum.

Correspondent Jackson Diehl derides the "long-dormant Palestinian fantasy," revived by President Abbas, "that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees". He does not explain why refusal to participate in Israel's illegal expansion - which, if serious, would "force Israel to make critical concessions" - would be improper interference in Israel's democracy.

Returning to reality, all of these discussions about settlement expansion evade the most crucial issue about settlements: what the US and Israel have already established in the West Bank. The evasion tacitly concedes that the illegal settlement programs already in place are somehow acceptable (putting aside the Golan Heights, annexed in violation of Security Council orders) - though the Bush "vision", apparently accepted by Obama, moves from tacit to explicit support for these violations of law. What is in place already suffices to ensure that there can be no viable Palestinian self-determination. Hence, there is every indication that even on the unlikely assumption that "natural growth" will be ended, US-Israeli rejectionism will persist, blocking the international consensus as before.

Subsequently, Netanyahu declared a 10-month suspension of new construction, with many exemptions, and entirely excluding Greater Jerusalem, where expropriation in Arab areas and construction for Jewish settlers continues at a rapid pace. Hillary Clinton praised these "unprecedented" concessions on (illegal) construction, eliciting anger and ridicule in much of the world.

It might be different if a legitimate "land swap" were under consideration, a solution approached at Taba and spelled out more fully in the Geneva Accord reached in informal high-level Israel-Palestine negotiations. The accord was presented in Geneva in October 2003, welcomed by much of the world, rejected by Israel, and ignored by the United States.

Washington's 'evenhandedness'
Obama's June 4, 2009, Cairo address to the Muslim world kept pretty much to his well-honed "blank slate" style - with little of substance, but presented in a personable manner that allows listeners to write on the slate what they want to hear. CNN captured its spirit in headlining a report "Obama Looks to Reach the Soul of the Muslim World." Obama had announced the goals of his address in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. "'We have a joke around the White House,' the president said. 'We're just going to keep on telling the truth until it stops working and nowhere is truth-telling more important than the Middle East." The White House commitment is most welcome, but it is useful to see how it translates into practice.

Obama admonished his audience that it is easy to "point fingers ... but if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security".

Turning from Obama-Friedman Truth to truth, there is a third side, with a decisive role throughout: the US. But Obama omitted that participant in the conflict. The omission is understood to be normal and appropriate, hence unmentioned: Friedman's column is headlined "Obama Speech Aimed at Both Arabs and Israelis." The front-page Wall Street Journal report on Obama's speech appears under the heading "Obama Chides Israel, Arabs in His Overture to Muslims." Other reports are the same.

The convention is understandable on the doctrinal principle that though the US government sometimes makes mistakes, its intentions are by definition benign, even noble. In the world of attractive imagery, Washington has always sought desperately to be an honest broker, yearning to advance peace and justice. The doctrine trumps truth, of which there is little hint in the speech or the mainstream coverage of it.

Obama once again echoed Bush's "vision" of two states, without saying what he meant by the phrase "Palestinian state". His intentions were clarified not only by the crucial omissions already discussed, but also by his one explicit criticism of Israel: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop." That is, Israel should live up to Phase I of the 2003 Road Map, rejected at once by Israel with tacit US support, as noted - though the truth is that Obama has ruled out even steps of the first Bush administration variety to withdraw from participation in these crimes.

The operative words are "legitimacy" and "continued". By omission, Obama indicates that he accepts Bush's vision: the vast existing settlement and infrastructure projects are "legitimate", thus ensuring that the phrase "Palestinian state" means "fried chicken".

Always even-handed, Obama also had an admonition for the Arab states: they "must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities". Plainly, however, it cannot be a meaningful "beginning" if Obama continues to reject its core principles: implementation of the international consensus. To do so, however, is evidently not Washington's "responsibility" in Obama's vision; no explanation given, no notice taken.

On democracy, Obama said that "we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election" - as in January 2006, when Washington picked the outcome with a vengeance, turning at once to severe punishment of the Palestinians because it did not like the outcome of a peaceful election, all with Obama's apparent approval judging by his words before, and actions since, taking office.

Obama politely refrained from comment about his host, President Hosni Mubarak, one of the most brutal dictators in the region, though he has had some illuminating words about him. As he was about to board a plane to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the two "moderate" Arab states, "Mr Obama signaled that while he would mention American concerns about human rights in Egypt, he would not challenge Mr Mubarak too sharply, because he is a 'force for stability and good' in the Middle East ... Mr Obama said he did not regard Mr Mubarak as an authoritarian leader. 'No, I tend not to use labels for folks,' Mr Obama said. The president noted that there had been criticism 'of the manner in which politics operates in Egypt,' but he also said that Mr Mubarak had been 'a stalwart ally, in many respects, to the United States.'"

When a politician uses the word "folks", we should brace ourselves for the deceit, or worse, that is coming. Outside of this context, there are "people", or often "villains", and using labels for them is highly meritorious. Obama is right, however, not to have used the word "authoritarian", which is far too mild a label for his friend.

Just as in the past, support for democracy, and for human rights as well, keeps to the pattern that scholarship has repeatedly discovered, correlating closely with strategic and economic objectives. There should be little difficulty in understanding why those whose eyes are not closed tight shut by rigid doctrine dismiss Obama's yearning for human rights and democracy as a joke in bad taste.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Safari Club and the ‘Islamic Bomb’

[ This tells the story of the Safari Club, the secret organization created by the CIA to circumvent the Congress of the United States. It could be accurately described as the "secret government" of the United States. This secret government is basically a privatized facsimile of the real government with its own financing and intelligence arms, but most of them are not American citizens. "Retired" American intelligence and military men and their Saudi and Pakistani counterparts have joined with this organization, where they have been implementing the covert American foreign policy for thirty years or more. When stories refer to shady mercenary types as "Blackwater," they are usually referring to the Safari Club mercenaries. Some people call them "al CIAda."]

The Safari Club and the ‘Islamic Bomb’

Recorded August 28, 2005

Since 9/11, there has been a height ened level of dis cus sion on the pos si bil ity of nuclear ter ror ism, par tic u larly in light of the A.Q. Khan net work and the smug gling of nuclear tech nol ogy from Pak istan to a num ber of other coun tries. This broad cast sets forth infor­ma tion that demon strates the com plic ity of the Safari Club in the devel op ment of the “Islamic Bomb.” An out sourc ing of U.S. intel li gence func tions to Saudi Ara bia and (to a lesser extent) Pak istan, the net work was the prin ci pal ele ment in the CIA’s sup port net­work for the Mus lim mujahideen that drove the Sovi ets out of Afghanistan. Of course, it was that con flict that spawned Osama bin Laden as a war rior. In this pro gram, the devel op ment of the Pak istani “Islamic Bomb” by the A.Q. Khan net work is seen as a quid pro quo for Pak istani and Saudi help in fight ing the Sovi ets. In addi tion to the fact that the Saudis were in effec tive to con trol of the A.Q. Khan network’s oper a tions, the show demon strates that CIA assets asso ci ated with that net work were allowed to oper ate in the United States until well after 9/11!

Pro gram High lights Include: The impor tant role of the BCCI in the financ ing of the A.Q. Khan network’s oper a tions (the BCCI milieu is deeply involved in the events in, and around, 9/11); U.S. pres sure on British inves ti ga tors to aban don their inves ti ga tion of the A.Q. Khan net work; the oper a tions of Nazir Ahmed Vaid, an appar ent CIA asset whose oper­a tions on behalf of the A.Q. Khan net work con tin ued in the United States until after 9/11; the George W. Bush administration’s relax ing of sanc tions imposed on Pak istan by the Clin ton admin is tra tion because of its efforts at pro­mot ing the spread of nuclear tech nol ogy; the par tic i pa tion by the Theodor Shackley/Thomas Clines/Edwin Wil son net­work in the Afghan Mujahideen sup port effort.

1. The broad cast begins by pre sent ing back ground infor ma tion on the Safari Club. That infor ma tion is con tained in FTR#522. Under writ ten by Saudi Ara bia, the Safari Club entailed the out sourc ing of U.S. intel li gence oper a tions to the Saudis and other coun tries. It is in the con text of the Safari Club that the Saudi-funded Islamic Devel op ment Bank under took much of the financ ing of the A.Q. Khan net work and its devel op ment of the Islamic bomb.

“The same lead er ship that pro mul gated the Safari Club—the Saudi royals—also strongly funded and sup ported the Islamic Devel op ment Bank. Begun in 1973, the IDB now has 55 mem ber states, with Saudi Ara bia dom i nat ing, with 27.33 per cent of the bank’s fund ing. As a com par i son, Egypt con tributes 9.48% and Pak istan just 3.41% of the bank’s total cap i tal. It was through the bank’s sci en tific and eco nomic devel op ment efforts that huge amounts were fun neled into Pak istan, which ended up in the hands of A.Q. Khan and his now-infamous nuclear bomb-building syndicate.”

(Pre lude to Ter ror; by Joseph Trento; Copy right 2005 by Joseph J. Trento; Car roll & Graf [HC]; ISBN 0–7867-1464–6; p. 313.)

2. U.S. involve ment with the A.Q. Khan network’s devel op ment of the Islamic bomb was a quid pro quo for Pak istani coop er a tion with the covert war against the Sovi ets in Afghanistan—the same war that spawned Osama bin Laden.

“The effort that began prior to the Soviet inva sion of Afghanistan—and that Pres i dent Carter’s National Secu rity Adviser warned was a seri ous effort to build the first Islamic bomb—was delib er ately ignored by Carter in order to secure Saudi and Pak istani coop er a tion for the anti-Soviet effort in Afghanistan. Like almost every thing about the anti-Soviet effort, the Rea gan admin is tra tion expanded on it; and the CIA directly assisted the Pak istani nuclear effort by allow ing Pak istani nation als to pro cure hard ware for the pro gram in vio la tion of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”


3. In RFA’s 4, 29, 30—avail able from Spitfire—we exam ined the pri va tized intel li gence net work devel oped to extend U.S. intel li gence oper a tions beyond the over sight of Con gress. Uti liz ing the tal ents of Edwin Wil son and Frank Ter pil, this net work was oper ated prin ci pally by Theodore Shack ley and Thomas Clines, two of the lead ing fig ures in CIA covert oper a tions through out much of the agency’s exis tence. This net work was deeply involved with the Afghan sup­port effort. It should be noted that the elder George Bush was deeply involved with the Wilson-Shackley-Clines oper a­tions, as well as the Safari Club. As we saw in FTR#522, the Safari Club, in turn, sub sumed the oper a tions of the Wilson-Shackley-Clines net work to a con sid er able extent.

“ ‘There was noth ing more impor tant than prop ping up a free Afghanistan. One of the things I did was try to get the Afghan king, then liv ing in exile in Italy, to come back to Afghanistan so we could build a new gov ern ment,’ Tom Clines recalled. Although he was out of the CIA and offi cially retired, ‘I was try ing to do my part in keep ing Afghanistan in our col umn. . . .Shack ley was work ing with the Royal fam i lies in the Gulf . . . all were con tribut ing to the effort in the early 1980’s.’”



“Clines con ceded that the off-the-books intel li gence oper a tions had been melded into the Afghan war effort. ‘We worked for who was help ing the United States the most. The Saudis worked very closely with us.’ Clines recalled how Bernard Houghton, who had run Nugan Hand Bank in Saudi Ara bia until it ran out of money, played a key role, work ing with Prince Turki and the Saudi GID.”


5. Out of the enor mous amounts of money the Saudis and the Safari Club chan neled to the Afghan mujahideen sup­port effort, the Pak ista nis diverted a large sum in order to under write the cost of their nuclear network.

“What many peo ple do not know was that the Safari Club had made a deal with Pak istan at the expense of the Afghan peo ple. The Safari Club was run by the Saudis. It was a club to serve their pur poses through the CIA. Shack ley and Wil son were not mem bers; only nations could belong. Shack ley and Wil son were men who served the club in exchange for power, influ­ence, and money. Pak istani Intel li gence would han dle all the money going to facil i tate the proxy war against the Sovi ets. That meant that hun dreds of mil lions of dol lars from the United States and Saudi Ara bia were being run through Pak istan with no account abil ity. ‘Unfor tu­nately,’ said Robert Crow ley, ‘the Pak ista nis knew exactly where their cut of the money was to go.’ Where the money went was into an Islamic nuclear-weapons pro gram sup ported by Saudi Ara bia and accepted by the United States.”

(Ibid.; p. 314.)

6. Despite U.S. claims to the con trary, this coun try did not inter dict the A.Q. Khan net work. On the con trary, the U.S. blocked British attempts at inter dict ing A.Q. Khan’s operations

“Dur ing the early 1990’s, British Cus toms began look ing closely at the United States—Pakistan nuclear net work. One of their top agents was an Arabic-speaking Mus lim who trav eled the world track ing down A.Q. Khan’s net work. The British soon learned that the United States had no inter est in shut ting down the net work, which had been oper at ing for years. The Mus lim cus­toms agent, whose iden tity must be pro tected for his own safety, was actu ally con fronted by Khan in Dubai, where the agent had traced a num ber of Khan’s front com pa nies. The agent tes ti fied in a trial involv ing asso ciates of Khan’s that the father of the Pak istani bomb con­fronted the Mus lim cus toms agent and called him ‘a trai tor to Mus lim peo ple’ for uncov er ing the nuclear net work that was sup ply ing weapons equip ment to Libya, Iran, Malaysia, and North Korea.”



“A top French Intel li gence offi cial, who asked that his name be with held from pub li ca tion, described the U.S.—Pakistani cover-up of the Khan net work as hav ing ‘an impor tant prece­dent. Just as the U.S. allowed Israel to develop nuclear weapons, under pres sure from the Saudis, the U.S. allowed Pak istan to be Saudi Arabia’s proxy as the first Islamic nuclear state. The Saudis put up the cash and have clean hands as Pak istan builds the bomb for its sup­posed defense against India over Kash mir . . . but my coun try and the British received no coop er a tion start ing in the 1980’s when we dis cov ered traces of Khan’s net work. The U.S. did not want to dis cuss it.’”

(Ibid.; pp. 314–315.)

8. The U.S. actu ally shipped some of the hard ware to A.Q. Khan’s operation!

“A senior source in the British gov ern ment, who asks not to be named, con firms that Khan ran the net work and that parts for the nuclear-weapons pro gram came from the United States. Khan’s daugh ter, attend ing school in Eng land, was being tutored, and at the ends of faxes deal ing with logis tics for her edu ca tion, Khan would some times write, in his own hand, items he needed for the nuclear program.”

(Ibid.; p. 315.)

9. Next, the pro gram details some of the his tory and back ground of the Pak istani nuclear effort:

“Pakistan’s quest for nuclear weapons had begun some fif teen years ear lier. Shortly after tak­ing office in 1972, Pak istani Prime Min is ter Zul fiker Ali Bhutto expressed his deter mi na tion to develop a nuclear capa bil ity. His pur pose was two fold: to off set the inher ent threat posed by Pakistan’s much larger neigh bor and avowed enemy, India; and to make his coun try a leader of the Islamic world. After India det o nated its first atomic weapon on the Pak istani bor der in 1974, Bhutto pushed his nuclear pro gram into high gear. To lead the effort, he tapped Abdul Qadeer Khan, an accom plished met al lur gist and busi ness man with a strong desire for wealth. To finance his ambi tious pro gram, Bhutto turned to his country’s oil-rich ally, Saudi Ara bia, and to Libya. China also pledged assis tance. By 1976, when George Bush served as CIA Direc tor, U.S. intel li gence esti mates reported, in a secret CIA report on Pak istan, that Pak istan was engaged in ‘a crash pro gram to develop nuclear weapons.’”


10. As men tioned above, the U.S. “signed on” with the Pak istani nuke pro gram after the start of the Soviet inva sion of Afghanistan.

“In 1979, while await ing exe cu tion fol low ing his over throw, Bhutto wrote in his mem oirs that his goal as prime min is ter had been to put the ‘Islamic Civ i liza tion’ on an even foot ing with ‘Chris t ian, Jew ish and Hindu Civ i liza tions’ by cre at ing a ‘full nuclear capa bil ity’ for the Islamic world. The man who over threw Bhutto, Gen eral Muham mad Zia ul Haq, car ried on that effort. In April 1979, when Pres i dent Zia refused to halt work on the ‘Islamic Bomb,’ Pres i dent Jimmy Carter cut off Amer i can eco nomic and mil i tary aid to Pak istan. Just eight months later, how­ever, fol low ing the Soviet Union’s inva sion of Afghanistan, Carter struck the ulti mate Faus t ian bar gain in order to win Zia’s approval for using Pak istan as a base of oper a tions for the mujahideen. Zia’s for tunes fur ther improved fol low ing the 1980 elec tion of Ronald Rea gan and George H.W. Bush.”

(Ibid.; pp. 315–316.)


“With the covert U.S. war in Afghanistan inten si fy ing, the Pak istani dic ta tor gained sig nif i cant advan tage and used it. In addi tion to win ning large eco nomic and military-aid pack ages for his coun try, he extracted a promise from the Reagan-Bush admin is tra tion that there would be no U.S. inter fer ence in Pakistan’s ‘inter nal affairs.’ That meant no com plaints about Zia’s dic ta to r ial rule and no obstruc tion of his efforts to build an Islamic Bomb. To keep up appear ances, Zia pub licly main tained that he was not devel op ing nuclear weapons. How ever, in 1983, a secret State Depart ment brief ing memo revealed that there was ‘unam bigu ous evi dence’ that Pak­istan was ‘actively pur su ing a nuclear weapons devel op ment pro gram’ and that China was pro vid ing tech no log i cal assis tance. At the time, U.S. law pro hib ited pro vid ing assis tance to any coun try that was import ing cer tain nuclear-weapons tech nol ogy. The Reagan-Bush admin is tra­tion sim ply ignored the leg is la tion, argu ing that cut ting off aid to Pak istan would harm U.S. national interests.”

(Ibid.; p. 316.)

12. Texas Con gress man Char lie Wil son was a major backer of the Afghan mujahideen and actively encour aged the Pak ista nis to con tinue to develop their nuclear program.

“Through out the 1980’s, Con gress man Char lie Wil son, the for mer Ed Wil son asso ciate, act ing in con cert with the CIA, repeat edly blocked Con gres sional efforts to halt Amer i can fund ing of Pak istan in order to pro tect a key ally in the covert Afghan war. Wil son went so far as to tell Zia, ‘Mr. Pres i dent, as far as I’m con cerned you can make all the bombs you want.’ Zia pri vately assured the con gress man that Pakistan’s nuclear pro gram was peace ful and that it would never build a deliv ery sys tem. ‘The truth was the Amer i cans had lit tle choice,’ [Dawud] Salahud din said. ‘Zia was wor shipped by the mujahideen. He was the only for eign leader who attracted uni ver sal admi ra tion amongst them, even though they were well aware that his ISI [Inter Ser vice Intel li gence] guys were tak ing what the Afghans fig ured was a 60-percent cut on all that was being sent to them. None of that took any glow off Zia’s halo. He was the only one to open his coun try to the Afghan resis tance, allowed train ing camps, and there were always more Afghan refugees in Pak istan than in Iran. The Ira ni ans did noth ing of the sort or the scale in the mil i tary sphere. . . .The guy was almost saint-like for the resistance.’”

(Ibid.; pp. 316–317.)

13. Amer i can com plic ity with the pro gram was assisted by Pak istani pres i dent Zia’s equiv o ca tion about the goals of their nuclear pro gram, which he main tained were peaceful.

“Zia con tin ued to deceive the United States about his nuclear-weapons ambi tions. In the mid-1980’s, he flatly told the U.S. Ambas sador to the United Nations, Ver non Wal ters, that Pak­istan was not build ing a bomb. When senior State Depart ment offi cials later con fronted him about the mis rep re sen ta tion, Zia told them, ‘It is per mis si ble to lie for Islam.’ He even tu ally gave up the pre tense, telling Time mag a zine in 1987 that ‘Pak istan has the capa bil ity of build­ing the bomb.’”

(Ibid.; p. 317.)


“By 1985, the Saudi royal fam ily had suc ceeded in draw ing the United States into an Islamic morass. Over the years, the Wah habi sect, a rad i cal form of anti-Western Islam, had increas­ingly caused the high-living royal fam ily polit i cal prob lems at home. To deal with this, the royal fam ily gave the Wah habi lead ers free rein and paid lip ser vice to their dia tribes against the West and Israel. But after the fall of the Pea cock Throne in Iran, reli gious divi sions sur faced within the royal fam ily, con tribut ing to a schiz o phre nia in Saudi Arabia’s for eign pol icy: with one hand the Saudis sup ported the sec u lar Sad dam Hus sein against the Islamic regime in Iran, and with the other they dis patched Osama bin Laden and oth ers as mem bers of Saudi Intel li­gence to work with the most rad i cal Islamic ele ments fight ing to secure con trol of Afghanistan. The anti-Communist Reagan-Bush pol icy mak ers focused only on the goal of weak en ing the Soviet Union, ignor ing the threat of rad i cal Islam.”


15. The Pak istani nuclear effort was sub si dized through the BCCI—a vehi cle for much of the covert oper at ing of the 1980s. Cur rent FBI direc tor Robert Mueller led the offi cial “inves ti ga tion” into BCCI, and cov ered up much of what was there to be discovered.

“The efforts by the Saudis, Rea gan, Casey, and Bush to desta bi lize the Soviet Union through the war in Afghanistan car ried a huge price in terms of both money and the num ber of Afghan lives lost. Hun dreds of mil lions of dol lars poured into Pak istani Intel li gence from the United States, with almost no con trol on how the funds were spent. The same BCCI bank accounts being used to fund the Afghan resis tance were also used to fund the Pak istani nuclear-bomb pro gram, accord ing to a Sen ate report on BCCI.”



“The Reagan-Bush pol icy vio lated both Amer i can law and inter na tional non pro lif er a tion treaties. But this type of vio la tion was not unprece dented: the United States had allowed covert aid to Israel to help with their nuclear-weapons pro gram in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. In 1964, Lyn don John son had given James Angle ton per mis sion to assist Israel in fur­ther devel op ing its nuclear-weapons pro gram. Now the Rea gan admin is tra tion was lev el ing the play ing field. The Saudis claimed that Israel had directly aided India in devel op ing its pro­gram and had thus cre ated a dan ger ous imbal ance in the region. Allow ing Pak istan to develop a weapon, but not to deploy it, seemed like a work able com pro mise and, the Saudis argued, the only solu tion. The 1979 memo from Zbig niew Brzezin ski to Pres i dent Carter—had warned that the price of lur ing the Sovi ets might include aban don ing efforts to stop nuclear pro lif er a­tion in Pak istan. Just six years later, the Reagan-Bush team played a huge role in mak ing the first Islamic nuclear weapon possible.”

(Ibid.; pp. 317–318.)

17. CIA Soviet ana lyst Melvin Good man was among those few Amer i can intel li gence ana lysts who noted that we were back ing the wrong Islamic groups in Afghanistan. Arms dealer Sarkis Soghan lian (deeply involved with the Bush-Reagan-Safari Club clan des tine oper a tions of the 1980’s) main tains that the A.Q. Khan net work was at all times directed by the Saudis.

“By the mid-1980’s, so much money was flow ing through the Pak istani ISI that the CIA did not have a han dle on where it ws going, accord ing to Melvin Good man, a for mer CIA ana lyst on the Soviet Union. ‘They were fund ing the wrong Islamic groups . . . ‚’ said Good man, ‘and had lit tle idea where the money was going or how it was being spent.’ Sarkis Soghana lian, who prof ited from pro vid ing arms for the secret-aid pro gram, put it bluntly: ‘As in Iraq, the U.S. did not want to get its hands dirty. So the Saudis’ money and the U.S. money was han dled by ISI. I can tell you that more than three quar ters of the money was skimmed off the top. What went to buy weapons for the Afghan fight ers was peanuts.’ Accord ing to Soghana lian, the funds were first laun dered through var i ous BCCI accounts before being dis bursed to ISI and into an elab o rate net work run by A.Q. Khan. ‘Khan’s net work was con trolled by the Saudis, not Khan and not Pak istan,’ Soghana lian said. [Empha sis added.] ‘The Saudis were in on every major deal includ ing Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Malaysia.’”

(Ibid.; p. 318.)


“After two decades of silence on Pakistan’s nuclear-proliferation net work, the CIA went pub lic in 2004, tak ing credit for uncov er ing the net work. After A.Q. Khan’s bizarre con fes sion, apol­ogy, and sub se quent par don (‘There was never any kind of autho riza tion for these activ i ties by the gov ern ment,’ Khan said on Pak istani tele vi sion. ‘I take full respon si bil ity for my actions and seek your par don’), the CIA claimed it had suc cess fully exposed Pakistan’s nuclear efforts. In fact, Khan’s net work was only the tip of a huge nuclear-technology iceberg.”

(Ibid.; pp. 318–319.)

19. Recent claims by the CIA that they had “uncov ered” and “inter dicted” the A.Q. Khan net work are as disin gen u ous as Khan’s pre pos ter ous pub lic procla ma tion that he alone—and not the Pak istani government—was respon si ble for the oper a tion. That’s right, A.Q. Khan was a “lone nut!”

“The truth of how much the CIA and the pri vate intel li gence net work knew in the 1980’s and what their actual role might have been is sug gested by a pair of crim i nal cases—one in Lon don and one in Hous ton. In each case, the defen dant received very kind treat ment from author i­ties, who allowed the nuclear-proliferation net work to con tinue operating.”

(Ibid.; p. 319.)

20. Much of the rest of the pro gram is devoted to a chill ing dis cus sion of the myr iad oper a tions of Nazir Ahmed Vaid, one of the A.Q. Khan network’s prin ci pal oper a tives. In addi tion to the fact that Vaid’s oper a tions appear to have been con ducted while he func tioned as a CIA asset, it is vitally impor tant to note that his U.S.-based activ i ties were allowed to con tinue after 9/11!! The George W. Bush admin is tra tion turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear efforts as yet another quid pro quo—this one in exchange for Pakistan’s “coop er a tion” in “the war on ter ror.” As was the case with much of the rest of the Khan network’s efforts, Vaid’s activ i ties were also con ducted through the BCCI, to a cer tain extent.

“In June 1984, the U.S. fed eral agents arrested Nazir Ahmed Vaid, a thirty-three-year-old Pak­istani, as he attempted to smug gle out of Hous ton fifty high-speed elec tronic switches of a kind used to trig ger nuclear bombs. At the time of the arrest, U.S. Cus toms agents seized sev­eral let ters directly link ing Vaid to S.A. Butt, the direc tor of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Com mis­sion. Butt was already well known to U.S. and Euro pean arms con trol offi cials as ‘they key oper a tive in Pakistan’s suc cess ful attempts in Europe in the 1970’s to obtain the tech nol ogy and resources for the enrich ment of ura nium and the repro cess ing of plu to nium.’ Vaid report­edly offered to pay for the switches in gold, later deter mined to have been sup plied by BCCI. U.S. fed eral offi cials, how ever, never informed the pros e cu tors that the let ters con nected Vaid to the Pak istani bomb pro gram. Instead, a very spe cial deal was worked out.”


21. Note the evi dence of U.S. com plic ity in Vaid’s activities!!

“Vaid ulti mately pleaded guilty to one count of ille gally attempt ing to export the switches, known as kry trons, with out a license. U.S. Dis trict Judge James DeAnda sen tenced Vaid to five years’ pro ba tion, the min i mum pos si ble sen tence. At Vaid’s sen tenc ing, both Judge DeAnda and the pros e cu tor agreed that Vaid was not a for eign agent. DeAnda described him sim ply as a busi ness man ‘try ing to expe dite what he thought was a busi ness deal.’ Just three weeks later, Vaid was deported. Accord ing to reporter Sey mour Hersh, Arnold Raphel, who served as the U.S. Ambas sador to Pak istan, later revealed that there had been a ‘fix in’ on the Vaid case and that the CIA had arranged for the mat ter to be han dled quietly.”

(Ibid.; pp. 319–320.)


“Because of his con vic tion and depor ta tion, Vaid was pro hib ited from return ing to the United States. His name appears on a U.S. Bureau of Immi gra tion and Cus toms Enforce ment (ICE) data base of banned indi vid u als. Nev er the less, accord ing to an ICE spokesman, Vaid has entered the coun try more than a half dozen times dur ing the past sev eral years. By sim ply drop ping his last name and becom ing ‘Nazir Ahmed,’ Vaid ‘fraud u lently’ obtained mul ti ple visas from the U.S. State Depart ment, accord ing to ICE.”

(Ibid.; p. 320.)


“Dur ing his recent visits—some after the Sep tem ber 11, 2001, attacks—Vaid has estab lished, in Texas, a string of com pa nies with for eign affil i a tions. Three in par tic u lar stand out. On July 22, 2002, Vaid, using the name Nazir Ahmed, and his brother, Mohammed Iqbal Vaid, incor po­rated Najood Trad ing, Inc., and Idafa Invest ments, Inc. The sole share holder in Majood is a com pany of the same name based in Dubai, United Arab Emi rates. The Emi rates are known to have been used as a trans ship ment point by the Khan net work. The Dubai com pany iden ti fies itself as being engaged in, among other things, ‘Build ing Ser vice Mate ri als Trad ing, Con struc­tion Mate ri als Trad ing, Roof ing Mate ri als & Acces sories.’ The direc tors of the Texas com pany are ‘Nazir Ahmed’ and Ahmed Ali, whose address is the same as that of the Dubai par ent company.”



“The sole share holder in Idafa Invest ments is an Islamic invest ment firm of the same name based in Mum bai, India. The Web site for the par ent com pany iden ti fies it as a broad-based invest ment advi sory and man age ment firm that oper ates on Quranic prin ci ples. The founder of the Indian com pany is listed as Ashraf Abdul-Haq Moham edy. One of the direc tors of the Texas com pany is Ashraf Abdul hak [sic] Moham edy. The oth ers are Mohamed Ashraf Abdul hak Moham edy, Moham mad [sic] Vaid, and ‘Nazir Ahmed.’ The Indian company’s Web site pro vides a link to Islamic Quest, an orga ni za tion ‘estab lished to present the cor rect posi tion of Islam to Non-Muslims.’ The con tact per son for Islamic Quest is listed as Ashraf Abdul haq Mohemedy.”



“Mohammed Vaid signed the incor po ra tion papers for both Majood and Idafa on the same day, July 19, 2002, and before the same notary pub lic. On that same day, and before the same notary. ‘Nazir Ahmed’ signed the incor po ra tion papers for yet another com pany, MEC Enter­prises (USA), Inc. (The sig na ture above the printed words ‘Nazir Ahmed’ appears to read sim­ply ‘Vaid.’) The sole share holder in the com pany is MEC Engi neer ing is a met als machin ing and man u fac tur ing com pany. Its many ‘func tions,’ as listed on its Web site, include: ‘Tanks Ves sels & Shells,’ ‘Phar ma ceu ti cal Machiner ies & Equip ment,’ ‘Waste Water Treat ment,’ and ‘Engi neer­ing Pipeline Con struc tion.’ The own ers of MEC Engi neer ing are Abdul Qavi Qureshi and Abdul Majid Qureshi. The direc tors of the Texas sub sidiary, MEC Enter prises, are ‘Nazir Ahmed’ and Mohammed Aslam Qureshi of Karachi.”

(Ibid.; p. 321.)


“As recently revealed, Khan’s mid dle man, B.S.A. Tahir, helped estab lish a sub sidiary of a Malaysian metal machin ing com pany and used it to man u fac ture parts for high-speed cen­trifuges for enrich ing ura nium. The parts were trans shipped through Tahir’s Dubai-based front com pa nies to end users such as Libya.”



“The first known U.S. com pany the Vaids set up fol low ing Nazir’s depor ta tion was Fina tra Com­mu ni ca tions, Inc. The com pany was incor po rated by a third party, Ameen M. Ali of Hous ton, in August 1996. The share hold ers were Mohammed Vaid, 20 per cent, and ‘Nazir Ahmed,’ 80 per­cent. Both listed res i den tial addresses in Hous ton. In 1999, the Vaids changed the name of the com pany to Fina tra Group of Companies.”



“Nazir Vaid also oper ates a branch of Fina tra in Pak istan. A 1997 arti cle in Pak istan & Gulf Econ o mist refers to ‘Nazir Ahmed Vaid’ as the chief exec u tive of Finatra’s Cyber cafe in Karachi, report edly the first such estab lish ment in Pak istan. The par ent of the Cyber-café is the Fina tra Group of Com pa nies, also based in Karachi. Fina tra Group con trols sev eral busi nesses, includ­ing a Web-hosting ser vice, and energy-generation com pany, phone and cell-phone men tal agen cies, and a pre paid call ing card dealer called Fina tra Com mu ni ca tions Pri vate Lim ited. In 1998, Fina tra Com mu ni ca tions signed a con tract with Pakistan’s offi cial phone com pany, Pak­istan Telecom mu ni ca tions Com pany Ltd., to pro vide pre paid phone-card ser vice in Pak istan. The ser vice also allows direct inter na tional dial ing. All of these busi nesses could be use ful to an intel li gence ser vice or a ter ror ist orga ni za tion. In 2004, U.S. Cus toms was plan ning to detain Vaid on his next trip to the United States after being warned by a reporter that Vaid was trav el ing freely between the U.S. and Pak istan. In the fall of 2004, a U.S. Cus toms agent inex plic a bly told Vaid’s son that there was a deten tion order out on his father. That inci dent raises major ques tions about Vaid’s rela tion ship with the United States government—and about secu rity in the Cus toms Service.”

(Ibid.; pp. 321–322.)

29. Again, note that Vaid was able to func tion in the U.S. after 9/11!

“Accord ing to an ICE spokesman, Vaid last left the United States on Novem ber 1, 2002. More than one CIA source said that Nazir Vaid is a CIA ‘asset.’ In a tele phone inter view, Vaid flatly denied work ing for U.S. or Pak istani Intel li gence. He also insists he is not engaged in the trade or ship ment of nuclear technology.”

(Ibid.; p. 322.)

30. The George W. Bush admin is tra tion was “shocked, shocked!” to learn of Pakistan’s Islamic bomb pro gram. Note that the Clin ton admin is tra tion had imposed sanc tions on Pak istan because of its nuclear activ i ties. The Bush admin is­tra tion lifted those sanc tions two weeks after 9/11!

“The George W. Bush admin is tra tion expresses shock at the fact that Pakistan’s declared Islamic Bomb pro gram became just that—a pan-Islamic nuclear-weapons super mar ket. This is the same Bush admin is tra tion that, in an eerily famil iar move—just two weeks after the ter ror­ist attacks on Sep tem ber 11, 2001—lifted the sanc tions that had been imposed by the Clin ton admin is tra tion on Pak istan because of its nuclear-weapons activ i ties. The Bush change was to win Islamabad’s assis tance in the new war in Afghanistan—the ‘war on ter ror ism.’ This is also the same admin is tra tion that—publicly, at least—accepts A.Q. Khan’s absurd con fes sion that he is respon si ble personally—and not as an agent of the Pak istani government—for dis sem i­nat ing nuclear weapons know-how to North Korea, Iran, and Libya.”



“The fact that the United States had pro tected the Islamic Bomb pro gram also emerged in the Edwin Wil son case. Dur ing the time Wil son was fugi tive, the for mer CIA front man sent the Rea gan White House and the CIA detailed infor ma tion about the Libyan nuclear pro gram. The mem o ran dum went from Wil son in Libya, through his lawyers, to Ted Shack ley and the National Secu rity Adviser. Wil son would later say he was never asked or ques tioned about what he had learned about the Libyan nuclear program. . . .”

(Ibid.; pp. 322–323.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cyberwar and Repression: Corporatist Synergy Made in Hell

Unfailingly, defense industry boosters and corporate media acolytes promote the disturbing hypothesis annunciated by former Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, that the nation is in peril.

In a February Washington Post op-ed, the latest version of the "grave and gathering danger" big lie repeated endlessly by former President Bush during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, McConnell claims that "the United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing."

Since leaving the secret state's employ, McConnell returned to his old beltway bandit firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, as a senior vice president in charge of the company's national security business unit, a position he held after "retiring" as Director of the National Security Agency back in 1996.

Critics, including security system design experts and investigative journalists, question the alarmist drumbeat that promises to dump tens of billions of federal dollars into the coffers of firms like McConnell's.

Indeed, Washington Technology reported two weeks ago that Booz Allen Hamilton landed a $20M contract to "foster collaboration among telecommunications researchers, University of Maryland faculty members and other academic institutions to improve secure networking and telecommunications and boost information assurance."

While we're at it, let's consider the deal that L-3 Communications grabbed from the Air Force just this week. Washington Technology reports that L-3, No. 8 on that publication's "2009 Top Ten" list of federal prime contractors, "will assist the Air Forces Central Command in protecting the security of its network operations under a contract potentially worth $152 million over five years."

Or meditate on the fact that security giant Raytheon's soaring first quarter profits were due to the "U.S. military demand for surveillance equipment and new ways to prepare soldiers for wars," MarketWatch reported Thursday.

Chump-change perhaps in the wider scheme of things, considering America's nearly $800B defense budget for FY2011, but fear sells and what could be more promising for enterprising security grifters than hawking terror that comes with the threat that shadowy "asymmetric" warriors will suddenly switch everything off?

As Bloomberg News disclosed back in 2008, both Lockheed Martin and Boeing "are deploying forces and resources to a new battlefield: cyberspace."

As journalist Gopal Ratnam averred, the military contractors and the wider defense industry are "eager to capture a share of a market that may reach $11 billion in 2013," and "have formed new business units to tap increased spending to protect U.S. government computers from attack."

Linda Gooden, executive vice president of Lockheed's Information Systems & Global Services unit told Bloomberg, "The whole area of cyber is probably one of the faster-growing areas" of the U.S. budget. "It's something that we're very focused on."

Lockheed's close, long-standing ties with the National Security Agency all but guarantee a leg up for the firm as it seeks to capture a large slice of the CYBERCOM pie.

The problem with a line of reasoning that U.S. efforts are primarily concerned with defending Pentagon networks reveals a glaring fact (largely omitted from media accounts) that it is the Pentagon, and not a motley crew of hackers, cyber-criminals or "rogue states" that are setting up a formidable infrastructure for launching future high-tech war crimes.

This is clearly spelled out in the DOD's 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). In that document Pentagon planners aver that CYBERCOM "will direct the operation and defense of DOD's information networks, and will prepare to, and when directed, conduct full spectrum cyberspace military operations. An operational USCYBERCOM will also play a leading role in helping to integrate cyber operations into operational and contingency planning."

The QDR promises to stand-up "10 space and cyberspace wings" within the Department of the Air Force that will work in tandem with Cyber Command.

Last week, Antifascist Calling reported how the mission of that Pentagon Command is primarily concerned with waging offensive operations against "adversaries" and that civilian infrastructure is viewed as a "legitimate" target for attack.

In that piece, I cited documents released by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), publicly available, though buried within a mass of Broad Agency Announcements, that solicited bids for contracts by the various armed service branches from private defense and security corporations for the design of offensive cyber weapons.

Accordingly, the Air Force Research Laboratory-Rome issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA-10-04-RIKA) February 25, for "Full Spectrum Cyber Operations Technology" that will address issues related to "the integration and better coordination of the day-to-day defense, protection, and operation of DoD networks as well as the capability to conduct full spectrum cyberspace military operations."

The BAA explicitly states that "research efforts under this program are expected to result in functional capabilities, concepts, theory, and applications ideally addressing cyber operations problems including projects specializing in highly novel and interesting applicable technique concepts will also be considered, if deemed to be of 'breakthrough' quality and importance."

Unsurprisingly, "technical information relevant to potential submitters is contained in a classified addendum at the Secret level to this BAA."

But the military aren't the only players leading the charge towards the development of highly-destructive cyberweapons. Indeed, the Cyber Conflict Research Studies Association (CCSA), a Washington, D.C. based think tank is top-heavy with former intelligence, military and corporate officials doing just that.

The group's board of directors are flush with former officers or consultants from the FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Air Force, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security and the CIA. Other board members are top officers in the spooky "public-private" FBI-affiliated spy outfit InfraGard, the Council on Foreign Relations as well as high-powered firms such as General Dynamics, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Goldman Sachs.

Demonstrating the interconnected nature of domestic surveillance, repression and military cyberwar operations, CCSA's Treasurer, Robert Schmidt, is currently a member of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Council on Domestic Intelligence and the secretive Intelligence and National Security Association (INSA). Additionally, Schmidt is the President/CEO of InfraGard and "leads the operational side of private sector involvement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's InfraGard program." How's that for a hat trick!

What that "operational side" entails has never been publicly disclosed by the organization, but as I wrote back in 2008, citing Matthew Rothschild's chilling piece in The Progressive, martial law is high on InfraGard's agenda.

Members on CCSA's board of directors, like others whirling through the revolving door between government and the private sector were/are officers or consultants to the FBI, NSA, DHS and other secret state intelligence agencies. Others were/are key advisers on the National Security Council or serve as consultants to industry-sponsored associations such as the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and INSA.

Dovetailing with research conducted by the Pentagon and their Intelligence Community partners, one CCSA study will explore "the full spectrum of military computer network operations, defined as computer network defense (CND), computer network exploit (CNE) and computer network attack (CNA), and examines the potential synergies and tradeoffs between those three categories."

As befitting research conducted by the Military-Industrial-Security-Complex (MISC), CCSA's study "will involve key academicians, strategists, military and intelligence community leaders and operational cyber practitioners to analyze key dilemmas of doctrine, organization, training, and planning, particularly with respect to integrating cyber warfare capabilities with kinetic operations."

Key questions to be answered, among others, include "How can cyberwarfare capabilities be best integrated with other military forces?" and "How can leaders and personnel for conducting cyberwarfare be trained, educated and grown?"

Clearly, these are not academic issues.

DARPA to the Rescue

The Pentagon's "blue sky" research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is chock-a-block with programs investigating everything from Neurotechnology for Intelligence Analysts to Operationally-Focused Systems Integration (OFSI) "that align DARPA technologies with explicit opportunities for military operational impact."

Certainly, given the precarious state of the global capitalist economy, the enfeebled nature of American democratic institutions, and with no end in sight to planet-wide imperial adventures to secure access to increasingly shrinking energy reserves and other strategic resources, technological "silver bullets" are highly sought-after commodities by corporate and military bureaucracies. Such technophilic preoccupations by the MISC all but guarantee that the "state of exception" inaugurated by the 9/11 provocation will remain a permanent feature of daily life.

Several, interrelated DARPA projects feed into wider Pentagon cyberwar research conducted by the Army, Navy and Air Force.

One component of this research is DARPA's National Cyber Range (NCR). The brainchild of the agency's Strategic Technical Office (STO), NCR is conceived as "DARPA's contribution to the new federal Comprehensive National Cyber Initiative (CNCI), providing a 'test bed' to produce qualitative and quantitative assessments of the Nation's cyber research and development technologies."

While DARPA claims that it is "creating the National Cyber Range to protect and defend the nation's critical information systems," a "key vision" behind the program "is to revolutionize the state of the art of test range resource and test automation execution."

While short on specifics, DARPA's "vision of the NCR is to create a national asset for use across the federal government to test a full spectrum of cyber programs."

Many of the military programs slated for testing at NCR are highly classified, including those that fall under the purview of Pentagon Special Access or black programs. As defense analyst William M. Arkin pointed out in Code Names, such programs are hidden under the rubric of Special Technical Operations that have their own "entire separate channels of communication and clearances." STO's "exist to compartment these military versions of clandestine and covert operations involving special operations, paramilitary activity, covert action, and cyber-warfare." Arkin identified nearly three dozen cyberwar programs or exercises back in 2005; undoubtedly many more have since come online.

As Aviation Week reported in 2009, "Devices to launch and control cyber, electronic and information attacks are being tested and refined by the U.S. military and industry in preparation for moving out of the laboratory and into the warfighter's backpack."

But as "with all DARPA programs," the agency "will transition the operation of the NCR at a later date to an operational partner. No decision has been made on who will operate the final range."

Amongst the private defense, security and academic "partners" involved in NCR's development are the usual suspects: scandal-tainted BAE Systems; General Dynamics-Advanced Information Systems; Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; Lockheed Martin; Northrop Grumman-Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems Division; Science Applications International Corporation; and SPARTA.

The aggressive nature of what has since evolved into CYBERCOM is underscored by several planning documents released by the U.S. Air Force. In a 2006 presentation to the Air Force Cyber Task Force, A Warfighting Domain: Cyberspace, Dr. Lani Kass unabashedly asserts: "Cyber is a war-fighting domain. The electromagnetic spectrum is the maneuver space. Cyber is the United States' Center of Gravity--the hub of all power and movement, upon which everything else depends. It is the Nation's neural network." Kass averred that "Cyber superiority is the prerequisite to effective operations across all strategic and operational domains--securing freedom from attack and freedom to attack."

Accordingly, she informed her Air Force audience that "Cyber favors the offensive," and that the transformation of the electromagnetic spectrum into a "warfighting domain" will be accomplished by: "Strategic Attack directly at enemy centers of gravity; Suppression of Enemy Cyber Defenses; Offensive Counter Cyber; Defensive Counter Cyber; Interdiction."

While the Pentagon and their embedded acolytes in academia, the media and amongst corporate grifters who stand to secure billions in contracts have framed CYBERCOM's launch purely as a defensive move to deter what Wired investigative journalist Ryan Singel has denounced as "Cyberarmaggedon!" hype to protect America's "cyber assets" from attack by rogue hackers, states, or free-floating terrorist practitioners of "asymmetric war," CYBERCOM's defensive brief is way down the food chain.

Indeed, "options for the Operational Command for Cyberspace" include the "scalability of force packages" and their "ease of implementation" and, as I wrote last week citing but two of the fourteen examples cited by the Senate, "research, development, and acquisition" of cyber weapons. This is attack, not defense mode.

Americans' Privacy: a Thing of the Past

Situating CYBERCOM under the dark wings of U.S. Strategic Command and the National Security Agency, is a disaster waiting to happen.

As we now know, since 2001 NSA under dubious Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) findings that are still classified, and the despicable 2008 FISA Amendments Act, the Executive Branch was handed the authority the spy on American citizens and legal residents with impunity.

During his confirmation hearing as Cyber Command chief on April 15, NSA Director Lt. General Keith Alexander sought to assure the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) that "this is not about the intent to militarize cyber-space. My main focus is on building the capacity to secure the military's operational networks."

He told the Senate panel that if called in to help protect civilian networks, both NSA and Cyber Command "will have unwavering dedication to the privacy of American citizens."

Alexander was far cagier however in his written responses in a set of Advanced Questions posed by the SASC.

While corporate media like the dutiful stenographers they are, repeated standard Pentagon boilerplate that the secret state has an "unwavering dedication" to Americans' privacy, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding answers and the release of the classified supplement.

Alexander stated in his written testimony that although "U.S. Cyber Command's mission will not include defense of the .gov and .com domains, given the integration of cyberspace into the operation of much of our critical infrastructure and the conduct of commerce and governance, it is the obligation of the Department to be prepared to provide military options to the President and SECDEF if our national security is threatened."

He also defended the statement that "DOD's mission to defend the nation 'takes primacy' over the Department of Homeland Security's role in some situations."

"Of greater concern" EPIC wrote in their brief, "may be the questions that Lt. Gen. Alexander chose to respond to in classified form. When asked if the American people are 'likely to accept deployment of classified methods of monitoring electronic communications to defend the government and critical infrastructure without explaining basic aspects of how this monitoring will be conducted and how it may affect them,' the Director acknowledged that the Department had a 'need to be transparent and communicate to the American people about our objectives to address the national security threat to our nation--the nature of the threat, our overall approach, and the roles and responsibilities of each department and agency involved--including NSA and the Department of Defense,' but then chose include that the rest of his response to that question in the 'classified supplement'."

"Most troubling of all" EPIC averred "is the classified nature of the responses to advance questions 27b) and 27c). After responding to the question of how the internet could be designed differently to provide greater inherent security by describing vague 'technological enhancements' that could enhance mobility and possibly security, Lt. Gen. Alexander responded to 'Is it practical to consider adopting those modifications?' and 'What would the impact be on privacy, both pro and con?' by referring the Senators to the 'classified supplement.' No answer to either question was provided in the public record."

But in considering these questions, perhaps the SASC should have referred to ex-spook McConnell's February Washington Post op-ed: "More specifically, we need to reengineer the Internet to make [it] more manageable. The technologies are already available from public and private sources and can be further developed if we have the will to build them into our systems and to work with our allies and trading partners so they will do the same."

Is this a great country, or what! It is a police state a la USSR of Stalin all over again.....