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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Iraq, Israel, Syria, and the US War on Islam

5:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the ever intrepid, Pepe Escobar…

Meet a moderate Syrian insurgent

Hi, my name is Mostafa and I’ll be your moderate insurgent today. I’m addressing you all because we badly need your help. We could have started a Facebook page, like We Need Your Weapons or something, or ask the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to make a YouTube video, but I prefer to speak straight to your heart.

Our Supreme Commander, the blessed General Salim Idriss, has acknowledged we are now receiving many new weapons from many friendly Arab countries, which helped us “destroy more than 90 armored vehicles” of the Syrian regime. And Amrika helped us to get the guns, of course. But we need more.

Your President Mr Obama told the Blessed King of Saudi Arabia last Friday that he is committed to providing more support for us. Your Secretary of State Mr Kerry said on Saturday there must be more support for us “in order to have an impact on the ground”. Your CIA said they will make sure only moderate insurgents get the weapons, and not the bad guys.

But your Congress is blocking our weapons. Oh people from Congress!

Don’t be such a spoiler! We have such a brotherhood of nations here. People from 29 different countries! OK, there are a lot of Salafis, a bit hot headed. But for us they are all brothers. In fact most of us are moderate insurgents…

Let’s look at some of the recent spillover effects from the Syrian Fiasco…

First, from the UN Envoy to Iraq, today…

UN: Iraq and Syrian conflicts merging

Iraq’s escalating violence can no longer be separated from the civil war in neighbouring Syria because “the battlefields are merging,” the UN envoy to Iraq warned yesterday.

Martin Kobler told the UN Security Council that Iraqi armed groups have an increasingly active presence in Syria. As a result, he said, the Syrian conflict is no longer just spilling over into Iraq, but Iraqis are reportedly taking arms against each other inside Syria, he said.

“These countries are interrelated,” Kobler stressed. “Iraq is the fault line between the Shia and the Sunni world and everything which happens in Syria, of course, has repercussions on the political landscape in Iraq.”

Kobler said the last four months have been among the bloodiest in Iraq in the last five years with nearly 3,000 people killed and over 7,000 injured. He said the perpetrators are taking advantage of the ongoing political stalemate in the country and the Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011 and has killed over 93,000 people.

Kobler did not give any figures of Iraqis killed in fighting in Iraq but warned that the violence in both countries “could easily spiral out of control if not urgently addressed”.

What’s critically important, he said, is to address the roots of the conflict in Iraq and find a political solution to the civil war in Syria…

Now, it seems Kuwait is wading into the fracas…

Money, guns flowing from Kuwait to Syria’s most radical rebel factions

Syrian rebels have a new source of weapons and cash from inside Kuwait, and their benefactors in the oil-rich state are sending the aid to the most militant and anti-West factions involved in the fight to topple Bashar al-Assad.

The role of Saudi and Qatari governments and individuals in the funding and arming of Islamist fighters in Syria has been well known since the civil war began more than two years ago. But now, guns and money are flowing from private sources and Salafist-controlled NGOs based in Kuwait, and they are going to rebel factions aligned with Al Qaeda.

“We are collecting money to buy all these weapons, so that our brothers will be victorious,” hard-core Sunni Islamist Sheikh Shafi’ Al-Ajami announced on Kuwaiti television last month, listing the black-market prices of weapons, including heat-seeking missiles, anti-aircraft guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Days later, Al-Ajami addressed a small throng outside the Lebanese Embassy in Kuwait and gleefully described slitting the throat of a Shiite Muslim in Syria…

Btw, those ‘Rebels’ are getting mighty brazen…

…Rebel fighters from an unidentified faction have crossed the “disengagement line” between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, capturing an unmanned army post and sparking a clash with Israeli patrols nearby.

The rebels are speculated to have taken the post to provoke Syrian troops to return fire against them across the ceasefire line, sparking an Israeli retaliation. The rebels fled the base before the Israeli troops arrived.

A precautionary tale… Don’t mess with the Kurdish ladies…!

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by CTuttle

“It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”

7:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

My only regret of living here in the tropics is having to get up at two in the morning, to catch ‘Up’…!

Now, there was a flurry of news and views, all across Asia and the Middle East, that bears noting…

In Afghanistan, with the sudden halt in joint ISAF operations

Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”

Why did you write No Worse Enemy: The Inside Story of the Chaotic Struggle for Afghanistan?

I’d been travelling to Helmand for five years, first in 2007 with the Brits, then later mostly with the U.S. Marines, covering every major operation since the war in the south was taken seriously.

Despite new troops, extra resources and new polices, it kept getting worse.

It was more dangerous for me and the troops I was with, Afghan security forces didn’t seem to be improving, and perhaps most importantly, locals were not being won over but instead were complaining of civilian casualties, damage to their homes, being inconvenienced and disrespected, or preyed upon by the Afghan police.

Yet in the second half of 2010, statements from Kabul, Washington and London kept talking of progress, goals being met and the Taliban being on their last legs.

This was the exact opposite of what I had been seeing, so I felt that I had to write this book

Et Tu, Brute…? Crocker: Taliban Infiltration Worse Than US Will Admit

Now, It’s rather amusing that neocons luminaries, such as Ross Douthat: It’s not about the video, and, Jennifer Rubin, recognize the problem, but can’t see the forest for the trees…

White House dumps false cover story on embassy attacks?

For a week various Obama administration figures, including the White House press secretary, have insisted that the attacks on U..S. embassies in the Middle East were a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video. But that excuse has not held up to even superficial scrutiny… {…}

I’m not sure what that even means. But in any case, the administration, perhaps recognizing their cover story on the attacks was blown, is now backpedaling fast.

There is all the more reason now to get to the bottom of this, to hold hearings and for the president himself to answer questions. If it is now conceded that this was more than a spontaneous uprising the questions remain: Was there an intelligence failure? And is the president’s purported Middle East policy a flop?

Jennifer did cite Foggy Bottom’s and the WH’s frantic back-pedaling…

Ms. Nuland…

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by CTuttle

Mum’s The Word…

4:52 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Apparently, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is in full panic mode over a planned PBS Frontline exposé and a Dana Priest three part Wapo investigation of the vast expansion of private contractors in our Intelligence apparatus. So much so, that the director of communications for the ODNI, Art House, sent out a internal memo to public affairs officers in the intelligence community.

As Marc Ambinder quoted…

I briefed the IC Deputies Committee this afternoon regarding the forthcoming Dana Priest articles in the Washington Post covering the growth of the Defense Department and Intelligence Community infrastructure since 2001. I was asked to share the briefing with the IC PAOs as part of our preparation for publication.

I reported to you last January on this planned series, culminating two years of work. Ms Priest advises that the most likely publication target is mid-July.


While we can’t predict specific content, we anticipate the following themes:

· The intelligence enterprise has undergone exponential growth and has become unmanageable with overlapping authorities and a heavily outsourced contractor workforce.

· The IC and the DoD have wasted significant time and resources, especially in the areas of counterterrorism and counterintelligence.

· The intelligence enterprise has taken its eyes off its post-9/11 mission and is spending its energy on competitive and redundant programs.

Interestingly, it would seem that the NSA is concerned as well…

From Cryptome… (4 pg. PDF)

Attention: All Companies Registered in the NSA
Acquisition Resource Center
Subject: Public Advertising and Disclosure of Information

(V) Recently, NSA Prime Contractors, and Subcontractors to NSA Prime Contractors, have published personnel recruiting advertisements/ announcements in public sources to include, but not limited to, television, radio, and particularly internet sources such as Craig’s List, Facebook, Twitter, and Internet web pages. The publication of these advertisements/ announcements make this a good opportunity to remind our industry partners (Prime Contractors and their subcontractors) of their contractual obligation, as noted in the below MPOAS clauses, not to reveal their NSA affiliation without the prior written approval of the Contracting Officer. This obligation applies to both Requests for Proposals (RFP) and Contracts, and regardless of whether the disclosure medium would be verbal, in writing, or posted to a web page/internet site. In accordance with these clauses, the Contractor: a) shall not disclose any information concerning sponsorship of the RFP/Contract, or b) the nature of the Government’s interest in and application of the subject matter of such RFP or Contract, unless the type of information is expressly allowed to be disclosed by Agency-specific provisions and clauses, or by written approval of the cognizant Contracting Officer.

This subject is not new and has been highlighted many times in the past…

Here’s Emptywheel hosting Tim Shorrock, Author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, on a FDL Book Salon…

…Just as importantly, though, he places that all in the larger context. It’s not just about Bush and Cheney ignoring laws and spying on citizens (though it is that). It’s that, in the name of fighting terrorism, the Bush Administration is creating a monstrous new Intelligence-Industrial Complex in which intelligence contractors and the government collaborate–with little oversight–to snoop at home and abroad.

This is not an easy book. As a book focusing on corporations, it often reads like a mind-numbing list of mergers and acquisitions, revolving doors, and interlocking boards. That, and when I contemplated the implications of the book, it made me sick to my stomach.

Dr. R J Hillhouse of The Spy Who Billed Me has been raising the alarm for years now as well…

From a July 26, 2007, DN interview…

Outsourcing Intelligence: Author R.J. Hillhouse on How Key National Security Projects Are Contracted to Private Firms

Author R.J. Hillhouse caused a stir in Washington last month when she revealed more than 50 percent of the National Clandestine Service has been outsourced to private firms. Now Hillhouse has exposed private companies are heavily involved in the nation’s most important and most sensitive national security document—the President’s Daily Brief. And there appears to be few safeguards from preventing corporations from inserting items favorable to itself or its clients into the President’s Daily Brief in order to influence the country’s national security agenda.

Back then it was only 50% of the Black Budget, now, it’s at 70%… If Jeremy Scahill is to believed…!

Let’s see what Frontline and Dana can expose…

by CTuttle

“I fell prey to a conspiracy…I was misquoted by the media.”

10:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Hmmm… Don’t you just love it when the truth just slips out

Q All right. And I want to talk, of course, about another issue that has come up and again — (inaudible) — about the phone security companies(sic) that have been operating in Iraq, in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan. Xe International, formerly known as Blackwater or Data Corp. Under what rules are they operating here in Pakistan?

SEC. GATES: Well, they’re operating as individual companies here in Pakistan in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Because they are theaters of war involving the United States, there are rules concerning the contracting companies. If they’re contracting with us or with the State Department here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the State Department and by ourselves.

Q Which were, of course, set aside by the government in Iraq.

SEC. GATES: Well, that was a long time ago.

Q Okay. But is there a separate set of rules in place right now?

SEC. GATES: I would say they are very stringent rules.


Pentagon backtracks after Gates ‘admits’ Blackwater operating in Pakistan

The Pentagon has gone into damage control mode after Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to confirm that security contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan.

The admission, quickly denied by Defense Department officials, has set fire to long-simmering rumors inside Pakistan about the involvement of for-profit contractors in the war against the Taliban.

Not just the Pentagon…

No Blackwater in Pakistan, says Malik

* Interior minister challenges those claiming Blackwater’s presence to prove it through documentary evidence

Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Saturday denied the presence of the Blackwater security agency in Pakistan, adding that US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has stated that he was misquoted by the media when they said that he had admitted to Blackwater’s presence in the country.

Talking to reporters after the hand-over ceremony of explosives scanners to Islamabad police at the Islamabad Sports Complex, he termed the reports regarding presence of Blackwater in the country “part of a conspiracy”.

Referring to the US defence secretary’s statement that Blackwater was operating as an individual company in Pakistan, Malik said Gates had told him, “I fell prey to a conspiracy…I was misquoted by the media”.

Challenged: Categorically ruling out the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan, he said, “I state again with full responsibility, and according to the available record, there is no Blackwater in the country. It is just hype being created by certain elements”.

Don’t believe the hype…

A senior minister from the NWFP Bashir Ahmed Bilour on Friday confirmed the presence of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, in the NWFP.

Bilour further disclosed that not only do Blackwater officials exist in the NWFP, they have also been imparting training to Pakistanis.

However, he added, that Blackwater is operating in a limited capacity in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira also acknowledged the presence of US security agencies in Pakistan after several months of denial.

Some more hype…

The US contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan at a secret CIA airfield used for launching drone attacks, according to a former US official, despite repeated government denials that the company is in the country.

The official, who had direct knowledge of the operation, said that employees with Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, patrol the area round the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan province.

He also confirmed that Blackwater employees help to load laser-guided Hellfire missiles on to CIA-operated drones that target al-Qaida members suspected of hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions, confirming information that surfaced in the US media in the summer.

Ironically that Guardian article was written prior to the Khost tragedy, also this Grey Lady article…

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids

…Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.

So tell me that after the Khost tragedy we’re not vowing revenge

CIA deaths prompt surge in US drone strikes

Beginning the day after the attack on a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, the agency has carried out 11 strikes that have killed about 90 people suspected of being militants, according to Pakistani news reports, which make almost no mention of civilian casualties. The assault has included strikes on a mud fortress in North Waziristan on January 6 that killed 17 people and a volley of missiles on a compound in South Waziristan last Sunday that killed at least 20.

“For the CIA, there is certainly an element of wanting to show that they can hit back,” said Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, an online publication that tracks the CIA’s drone campaign. Roggio, as well as Pakistani and American intelligence officials, said many of the recent strikes had focused on the Pakistani Taliban and its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, who claimed responsibility for the Khost bombing.

With a whole lot more to follow…

What the f*ck are we doing…?