Wikileaked Hillary Clinton email #12166, dated July 25, 2012, shows Jared Cohen of Google Ideas working with al-Jazeera to develop a list of defecting Syrian officers and to encourage further defections. Quote:

Please keep close hold, but my team is planning to launch a tool on Sunday that will publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from. Our logic behind this is that while many people are tracking the atrocities, nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition. Given how hard it is to get information into Syria right now, we are partnering with Al-Jazeera who will take primary ownership over the tool we have built, track the data, verify it, and broadcast it back into Syria

Cohen's email was sent to William J. Burns, Deputy Secretary of State; Jacob J. Sullivan, national security advisor to Hillary Clinton; and Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation in the State Department. Sullivan forwarded Cohen's email to Clinton, who forwarded it to her aide Monica Hanley.

Previously, al-Jazeera hosted exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders who had given al-Qaeda free rein over Egypt. Also, the US support for extremists in Syria got so bad that a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff defected to Russia to try to stop it.

Jared Cohen has a reputation as a loose cannon, "doing things the CIA cannot do", with White House and State Department support. Interestingly, Hamas allowed him to travel to Gaza for reasons that the people at Stratfor were not aware of.

A former US Army psyops officer named Scott Bennett has published a report titled "Shell Game" alleging that data on al-Qaeda's finances are hidden from US intelligence and military by US government officials at the highest levels. It opens with an executive summary alleging that:

  • unnamed members of the intelligence community are committing treason.
  • unnamed people responsible for "intentional" intelligence failures.
  • Union Bank of Switzerland banker Brad Birkenfeld was jailed for reporting terrorist funding to US intelligence agencies.
  • Booz Allen Hamilton fired Bennett for reporting terrorist finance issues up the chain of command.
  • Edward Snowden turned traitor after seeing what happened to Birkenfeld.
  • Bennett predicted the Benghazi attack.
  • The Department of Justice attempted to assassinate a whistleblower.

Bennett ties together so many big claims that the report is difficult to believe. I almost stopped reading at this point. The report opens like a crime novel, not a report. The facts are buried under layers of rhetoric. Stripping that away, Bennett makes a number of notable specific claims. These claims include:

About Booz:

  • Booz Allen Hamilton ran the terrorist finance investigation unit of the US Central Command. It was called the Optimus Foundation and stationed in Fort MacDill. Bennett worked there.
  • BAH antiterrorist officials include Mike Maravilla, William Lubliner, Troy Hensely, and Bob Thompson.

About Bennett

  • Bennett worked counterterrorism and psyops at the State Department before he joined the Army, and was given a "VIP" flight to Florida on the executive jet of Eric Olson, head of US Special Operations Command.
  • Shortly after arriving in Florida, Bennett was arrested off-base by MPs, interrogated for 12 hours, and beaten by Detective Edward Garcia and Lt. Col. Martin Mitchell. The supposed justification for the arrest was a failure to properly register privately owned firearms that he had declared.
  • Mitchell distributed "BOLO" wanted posters of Bennett to every US military post showing his picture and describing him as an Army intelligence officer investigating al-Qaeda's money supply. Bennett describes this as an attempt to have him killed by supposing that the information would reach al-Qaeda through a spy.
  • The Army made some kind of policy change "due to negative stigma given to Psychological Operations by another defense contractor named Mike Furlong", a former coworker of Bennet.
  • Bennett forecasted the Benghazi attack in report written two years before the incident on the subject of the Furlong-inspired psych policy change and a prediction of its strategic impact.
  • After writing the psych report, Bennett was prosecuted by the Department of Justice for the earlier gun incident. Bennett claims that this is the first time in US history that the military has surrendered its jurisdiction to civilian authorities.
  • Assistant US Attorney Sara Sweeney "invented all kinds of exaggerations, had me followed by Secret Service, and engaged in the same illegal harassment which the Justice Dept. had employed against Senator Ted Stevens", and Special Assistant US Attorney Timothy Goins dressed in a US Air Force uniform to give the jury the impression that the military supported the prosecution.
  • Bennett is selling a book titled Conspiracy, Torture, and Betrayal at US Central Command. It is self-published on Lulu and the single review is not good.

About the DoJ:

  • Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant AG Lanny Breuer formerly worked for UBS and suppressed attempts to prosecute the company.
  • The DoJ "assassination attempt" against Birkenfeld was in the form of writing a letter to UBS claiming that Birkenfeld was giving away proprietary banking information. The letter was forged in the name of an Islamic "international banking friend" in London. The letter came from the CIA substation in Bern.
  • Bennett suspects DoJ attorneys Kevin O'Connor and Kevin Downing of being behind the forgery against Birkenfeld, and alleges that the two have connections to Rudy Giuliani and an Abdullah Azziz named as an al-Qaeda financier in Matt Taibbi's article Too Big To Jail. There is no one by that name in Taibbi's article, but it does mention Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi of the SAAR Foundation. Bennett also calls the Golden Chain the "Golden Triangle".

Others:

  • Edward Snowden personally observed CIA communications regarding the operation against Birkenfeld and turned traitor because of it.
  • In 2009, Hillary Clinton agreed to jail Birkenfeld and release two Uighur terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for "the US being given preferential status on a Swiss financial treaty." This treaty is likely the US-Switzerland tax information exchange treaty of 2009 The detainees are likely Arkin Mahmud and Bahtiyar Mahnut who were transferred to Switzerland in February 2010 (according to Wikipedia).
  • Birkenfeld's information was not known to the Optimus Foundation, the National Counterterrorism Center, Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Operations Coordination Center, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, SOCOM, JSOC, CENTCOM, CAPOC, or EUCOM.
  • Senator Carl Levin personally suppressed Birkenfeld's report on al-Qaeda's finances from reaching Army intelligence. The evidence is that Birkenfeld claims to have given Levin this information, and it did not spread any further.
  • President Obama personally suppressed Birkenfeld's information as repayment for campaign contributions from Robert Wolf. No evidence is presented.

Overall conclusions:

Bennett does not seem like a reliable source. The report is written like a work of fiction. The most sweeping stuff is most likely bullshit.

The most serious allegations, in the sense of being able to take them seriously, hinge on the presumption of Birkenfeld having this information about al-Qaeda financing.

[Edit Feb 11] Regarding the naming of "Fort MacDill", from a comment to WaPo in 2009:

FYI, yello, if you Google "Fort MacDill" with quotes around it, you get 160 hits, the gist of which are that Fort MacDill is the informal nickname of the two Army headquarters based inside the larger MacDill AFB complex. One is CENTCOM, Central Command, Gen. Petraus's outfit, the unit with jurisdiction over the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters. The other is SOCOM, Special Operations Command, one of Clancy's great loves. ... It would appear that Clancy did his homework so well he knew the special "insider" nickname of CENTCOM and SOCOM. Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 29, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

A bunch of financial data from HSBC was leaked to a consortium of journalists. What they have released so far includes this scrap of information about Abdul-Karim Dan Azoumi which is small enough that I will copy it in full:

Abdoul-Karim Dan-Azoumi is the owner of Badica, the largest diamond exporter in the Central African Republic (CAR). An October 2014 United Nations report by a panel of experts branded Dan-Azoumi’s company a key financial backer of the rebel Seleka group which has been fighting government forces in the CAR conflict that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians. The United Nations alleged that fees paid by Dan-Azoumi’s companies to Séléka rebels in order to illegally export diamonds allowed the rebels to remain armed. Dan-Azoumi lives in Antwerp, Belgium’s diamond capital.

Dan-Azoumi became an HSBC client in 2000. He was linked to five bank accounts. Two of them were associated with a client account under the name of “Kampala Holdings S.A.,” which lists Dan-Azoumi as beneficial owner. The maximum amount in the account in 2006/2007 was $467,592. The other three bank accounts belonged to a numbered client account, which was closed in 2006. He was linked to “32618 BG” alongside another individual. HSBC bank communications explain that the bank closed the account for the benefit of an offshore account that was going to have Dan-Azoumi as beneficial owner.

So according to this report, this guy was a key financier of al-Qaeda's invasion of the Central African Republic (mentioned earlier and earlier). Neither this guy or his company appear in a web search, and I cannot find this supposed United Nations report. Al-Qaeda had been involved in the West African diamond trade in the 1990s, as described in Douglas Farah's book Blood From Stones.

From J.M. Berger:

ISIS has released a video that appears to show Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kassasbeh being burned alive.

Quick thoughts:

  • 1. Jordan is where much of ISIS was trained. By the USA. Expect this to end if it hasn't already. They might spread around some incriminating information about this training.
  • 2. Retaliation is the default reaction, but Jordan is on leashes by the USA and its own public which is far more pro-terrorist than the leadership. The fact that a Jordanian was killed is going to anger and split the public unless they fall for ISIS propaganda that it was his fault for opposing Islam.
  • 3. If Jordan wanted to invade Syria to rout ISIS, there is nothing to stop them. There is no border anymore.

Predictions:

  • Limited retaliatory airstrikes
  • Civil disturbances in Jordan if the retaliation goes beyond limited airstrikes
  • Increased Jordanian cooperation with Iraq, and possibly Iran
  • Drop in Jordanian respect for US
  • Increased distance from Israel (afraid of Iran, wants Assad gone) and the Gulf Arab states (funding ISIS)
  • Weaker Jordanian pro-Western monarchy. It has already lost the public and is losing allies.

Addendum: The news says Jordan killed an ISIS prisoner in retaliation. Unconfirmed reports have that Jordan was already attacking ISIS (which would explain why their pilot was shot down) and that the prisoner was killed a month ago and everyone knew it, both of which suggest that this measured response may be as much as Jordan will openly do at this time.


[Edit Feb 7] There are reports of limited airstrikes as originally predicted, so I was wrong about being wrong.

The Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami (DMI) Trust is one of several suspects whom authors have accused of funding the September 11 attacks of 2001, yet were found innocent in their trials. There have been several cases like this in the US and Europe where either the authors were working from bad information or their good information was inadmissible in court or the defendants had bought really good lawyers or judges. The past leaders of DMI have included al-Qaeda organizer Hassan al-Turabi, and Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf Qaradawi was an early advisor. This is enough evidence to bomb them, but not to win a conviction in a court of law.

DMI's lawyers declare the company's complete innocence:

In 2010, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed all claims against the two companies, ruling that the plaintiffs had shown nothing to indicate that they ever did anything more or less than engage in routine banking services ...

On April 16, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the rulings of the Southern District, holding that DMI Trust and DMI S.A. did nothing more than, at most, providing routine banking services to persons later deemed to be suspected of connections to terrorism, and thus that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim against DMI Trust or to establish jurisdiction over DMI S.A.

Dismissal at district court

I was unable to find the first dismissal on the Southern District web site. Google was unable to find any mention of "Dar" or "Maal" there. I did find the ruling elsewhere. Here is the entirety of the ruling as regards DMI:

Defendant Dar Al?Maal?Al?Islami Trust ("DMI Trust") is alleged to be part of a network of financial institutions that provide money laundering, and financial and banking services on behalf of al Qaeda. Plaintiffs allege that DMI Trust knowingly maintained accounts for al Qaeda front charities, including AHIF thereby facilitating the funding of al Qaeda. Defendant is also alleged to have actively sponsored al Qaeda through the actions undertaken by its purported subsidiaries. Mere allegations that defendant provided routine banking services, and of wrongful conduct committed by independent subsidiaries, are insufficient to subject DMI Trust to liability in this litigation. Its motions to dismiss are, therefore, granted.

This sounds like the plaintiffs failed to show that the subsidiaries were acting under direction from above or that the directors of DMI were part of the same conspiracy. The judge was George B. Daniels and the case In Re Terrorist Attacks.

Appeals court ruling

The appeals court ruling is available and it is an interesting read that explains the difficulties in applying tort laws to those who support terrorists. The judges in the appeals decision were Jose Cabrenes, Reena Raggi, and Jed Rakoff. Cabrenes is also a FISA court judge, and Rakoff is a district court judge from the Southern District of New York sitting by designation.

  • In dismissing O'Neill's claim under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 USC § 1350 which covers any "violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States", the court finds that "plaintiffs’ ATS claims are without merit because no universal norm against 'terrorism' existed under customary international law". In other words, the court ruled that 9/11 was not a war crime.
  • In forbidding torts of aiding and abetting, the court cited Rothstein v. UBS AB, a decision by Jed Rakoff and upheld by Amalya Kearse, which held that UBS bank had no civil liability for violating sanctions against Iran. This appears to be well supported by the lack of the plaintiffs' showing proximate cause, by the federal aiding-and-abetting statute 18 USC §2 referring specifically to crimes against the United States and not to civil torts, and by a Supreme Court finding in Central Bank of Denver v. First Interstate Bank of Denver that "Congress has not enacted a general civil aiding and abetting statute․."
  • O'Neill's claim of extrajudicial killings under the Torture Victims Prevention Act was rejected on finding that the TVPA was written to apply to "individuals" meaning natural persons and not corporations. This is also well supported.

Seymour Hersh has a new article on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Summary of key points:

  • The Muslim Brotherhood's Al-Nusra group has had a sarin production program supported by Saudi and Turkish suppliers.
    • By the spring of 2013, Turkey's military intelligence and state police were directly involved in the Muslim Brotherhood's sarin production program.
    • The US Defense Intelligence Agency produced a report on al-Nusra's sarin production on June 20, 2013. An earlier Hersh report names DIA deputy director David R. Shedd as a recipient of the report.
      • The DIA firmly and clearly denies that this report exists.
        • Hersh quotes from the report.
    • The DIA produced a daily situational report on Syria titled "SYRUP" that used to include information on activities related to chemical weapons production.
      • According to "a former senior Defense Department official" White House chief of staff Denis McDonough "severely curtailed" the distribution of information on chemical warfare after reading a SYRUP report on the use of chemical weapons in March and April 2013.
  • A "person with knowledge of the UN’s activities" reported that United Nations investigators found that Muslim Brotherhood forces were responsible for the the March 19 sarin attack near Aleppo (mentioned earlier), but were under a mandate not to assign blame and the news did not get out because it was not what their sponsors wanted to hear.
    • Two sources report that by the time of a May 2013 meeting with President Erdogan and Hakim Fidan, President Obama knew that a chemical weapons attack was a false flag and that Turkish intelligence was involved.
  • British analysts at Porton Down found that the sarin used in the August 21 attack on al-Ghutah (mentioned earlier and earlier) did not match any sarin in Syrian stores.
    • President Obama had ordered a large-scale airstrike on Syria in retaliation for the attack, and he cancelled the order when the information came in from Porton Down. Britain and France had planned to participate in the airstrike.
    • "a former senior US intelligence official" claims to "know" that "some in the Turkish government" called for a false flag chemical weapons attack to push the US further into war against Syria.
    • A US intelligence report in late July or early August predicted that Turkey was likely to do something to instigate a US attack on Syria.
    • According to "the former intelligence official", "intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks" confirmed that Turkey was responsible for the attack.
      • These intercepts were blocked from reaching the White House.
  • The US funneled arms to Muslim Brotherhood / al-Qaeda forces through Libya.
    • The Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi includes a "highly classified" annex mentioning an agreement between Presidents Obama and Erdogan to arm MB/AQ forces in Syria.
    • Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provided the funding.
    • "The operation was run by David Petraeus."
    • "The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation."
    • "The [Benghazi] consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms".
    • The same "former intelligence official" is the source of all of this information.

In my opinion, there is way too much reliance on one anonymous "former senior US intelligence official" but it all has an air of believability. There are also signs of counterintelligence problems with apparently multiple people shutting off the flow of information about Muslim Brotherhood sarin production.

I wonder if this guy from a few days ago got an advance copy of the Hersh report.

Edit: The National Security Council denies the story, calling the former intelligence official's claims "completely fabricated".

Saudi Arabia has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood. This is quite interesting considering the closeness between the two: the Brotherhood ideology is based on Saudi Wahhabism, its financiers include essentially every Saudi billionaire, Russia claims the monarchy runs the Brotherhood/al-Qaeda operations in Central Asia, and I once read an opinion that described the Brotherhood being founded as the branch of Saudi intelligence in Egypt. The Saudis are apparently serious about it. If true, this is "soft power" working.

In other news, Virginia's legislature passed a resolution praising the Muslim Brotherhood. This is also "soft power" working.

CAR WTF

Feb. 11th, 2014 05:52 pm

The latest news from the Central African Republic is the retaliatory ethnic cleansing of Muslims by everyone else. Considering the recent history, it's odd that this is actually getting into the mainstream media and that this violence is being allowed by the powers that be.

The "Seleka" "rebel" alliance swept across the country in an instant and deposed the then-existing government. The only resistance they met was a South African peacekeeping force which they defeated by sending human waves until the South Africans ran out of ammo and surrendered. Western reaction: it's the middle of Africa, so nobody cares. Local reaction: every neighbouring country immediately recognized Seleka as the legitimate government.

Then we started getting reports from Christian missionaries who said that the "rebel" alliance was actually foreign fighters from al-Qaeda killing everyone, and the old Seleka commanders were only figureheads. This was allowed to go on for a year with all media considering that this was not news. There were rare reports of "bandits" or "highwaymen" appearing deeper into the rural areas as time went on, but these were reported as crime stories and not considered as part of the war.

Then there was a report that 20% of the country's population had fled their homes to escape the Muslims. Finally, the French sent peacekeepers to the country. Tens of thousands of refugees headed to the airport expecting the French to protect them. The French ignored them. Seleka's commanders were honored guests, even as the refugees accused them of war crimes. The French were there for the sole purpose of disarming the "anti-machete" militias fighting against Seleka. These militias had been threatening to recapture the capitol before the French arrived. So that became the stable state of affairs for a few months.

Very suddenly, the head of Seleka surrenders the country and Chad removes thousands of Muslim foreign fighters as "refugees". A new non-Muslim leader is appointed, and the survivors of the war start ethnically cleansing Muslims wherever they can find them. The peacekeepers are sitting back and letting it happen. With the foreign fighters out of the area, the targets are going to be the locals who were there before the war and may not have had any part in it.

It seems like foreign powers were involved and backroom deals were made at every major shift in power. Somebody financed and armed Seleka. Somebody convinced the other African governments to support Seleka and give no aid to the old CAR gov. Somebody convinced the French that disarming the local militia was a good idea. Somebody convinced the French and the world community to make a 180-degree shift in their policy toward the country. Somebody decided to allow the foreign fighters to escape rather than trying them for war crimes or at least identifying them. Somebody decided to let the victors have their bloodletting. None of this was done in public.

Rumour has it that the old CAR government, before the invasion, had just made a mining deal with China. This little bit of possibly non-information is the closest thing I have to a piece of the puzzle.

Malik Obama is a big-time terrorist financier. Obama as in that Obama; he is the US President's brother. This confirms earlier rumours emanating from the Egyptian Supreme Court. As an interesting side note, the tax-exempt status for Malik's terrorist-funding "charity" was rushed by IRS agent Lois Lerner, who Republicans have accused of blocking tax-exempt status for their organizations.

Mohamed Morsi immediately allied with al-Qaeda upon taking power in Egypt. His own aides appear to have bugged him for the Mukhabarat. Remember everyone saying he was a moderate? Remember everyone saying that his liberal and secular Egyptian opponents were misinformed tools of the American right wing? That was al-Qaeda propaganda to support their conquest of Egypt. The question arises of how it was able to spread so well.

Here's a third big story: Have you seen either of these items in your newspaper or on TV? Try looking. I see one article in the Jerusalem Post, and everything else is a Republican or Christian blog.

Barry Rubin has an article that is as notable for what he did not write as for what he did. Quoting:

Some high-ranking defense department officials – for example, one on the secretary of defense's level – were pressured to fire anti-Muslim Brotherhood people. I know of at least five such incidences.

This is five big stories. Name some names.

I was asked to participate in a contract and co-direct a project for the federal government, and my paper was to be on the idea that all Islamists posed a threat.

Here is another big story: the federal government is paying friends of important people to do the job of the Army War College. This used to be called "embezzlement". It also gives the contractors a financial incentive to write what the officials want to hear, leading to the production of bad advice. In short, it's a scandal.

To my surprise, I was told that my paper was rejected.

By whom? On what grounds? Where can I read the paper online?

Isn't it true, I said on the phone, that I was to have co-direction of this project? The response was yes it was, nevertheless, a more junior member of the press could not prevail.

Who was the more senior member of the press? Where can I read that person's paper? Did either member of the press disclose that they were being paid by a branch of the US government at this time? Were they employed by a press agency, was the agency aware of this arrangement, and did the agency disclose this arrangement to the public?

In another incident, a high-ranking CIA official posited a paper that the Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat, only al-Qa'ida was, and U.S. policy should therefore depend on the Brotherhood.

Name the name! Who was this idiot? When was the paper submitted? How did the first point lead to the second?

In another case, a U.S. official made a statement at a public function that neither Hizballah nor Hamas posed a threat to U.S. interests.

Who was he? When did this take place? If this was a public function, there should be a news article about it.

By 2013, this sprouted in a few people's arguments that Iran could be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

Who are "a few people"? Are they employed in any government agency? Do they have any influence in government?

The theoretical situation to government officials was thus clear: If you wanted to make some money in Washington, you would have to toe the line that the Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat. If sanctions ended against the Muslim Brotherhood or Islamists, including Iran, this could also lead to trillions of dollars in potential trade deals.

Some capitalists want to aid our enemies to enrich themselves? That's big news if you can prove it. Give us names, dates, documents, evidence!

The al-Jazeera news network is housing exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders at its own expense. Remember hearing that they are unbiased? Remember hearing that they are the only trustworthy source of news in the Middle East, that you should think happy thoughts when you see their name, that the allegation of their alignment with extremists was unfounded? We even kept hearing that after 2010 when it was learned that al-Jazeera's then-director Wadah Khanfar had previously been the director of a Muslim Brotherhood front group, the International Islamic Federation of Student Organisations. Now they are giving literal and material support to the MB. For an analogy, if we found the heads of the KKK living rent-free in the Fox News building (insert "we already did" joke here), wouldn't that raise questions of bias? Now what does this say about everyone who was flogging al-Jazeera?

Glenn Greenwald has promoted al-Qaeda leader Anwar Awlawki, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and he has agreed to be the keynote speaker at a convention of CAIR, aka these guys. He is also gay, which only matters because all of the above think he should be killed for that reason and he supports them. Now what does this say about everyone who has been flogging Greenwald as a serious journalist whose judgement should be trusted?

At a lower profile but also in the news recently, Max Blumenthal became a serious journalist by blaming the Jews collectively for two drunk racist Americans he found in Jerusalem. That somehow gave him credibility. After a few more years of bashing the Jews for daring to live on their own land, Blumenthal condemned the Jews as "non-indigenous" to Judea and told them to "be part of the Arab world" (i.e., convert to Islam) or die. Now what does this say about the "academics" and "journalists" who have been flogging Max Blumenthal?

"Redskins" was a name that certain Native Americans tribes called themselves, which, combined with the lack of the word's use as a pejorative, makes the current controversy over the name nonsensical. Similarly, Crayola changed the name of its "Indian Red" crayon color because it was supposedly offensive to Native Americans to name a crayon color after a pigment from India.

Summary of 60 Minutes interviews on Benghazi:

  • from "Morgan Jones", commander of the guards at the Benghazi consulate:
    • Al-Qaeda was openly flying its flag in the city.
    • The guards at the consulate were incompetent.
    • The guards were unarmed.
    • Repeated requests to get new guards were denied.
  • from Lt. Col. Andy Wood, chief of security at the Benghazi consulate:
    • Al-Qaeda had published their intent to attack the Benghazi consulate months earlier, and had followed this up with additional planning intercepted by US intelligence.
    • State and DoD were informed, repeatedly, with increasing urgency, that al-Qaeda's plans to attack the consulate in Benghazi were in the final stages of preparation.
    • In desperation, Wood had called for abandoning the city.
    • Wood personally left Benghazi three months before the attack.
  • from Greg Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Libya:
    • Hicks had made two official requests for more security forces and was denied.
    • During the attack, Hicks asked the defense attache what military help could be expected and was told that none was coming.
    • (Note: Hicks was demoted for previously speaking to the press, making him one of the few people punished after the Benghazi attack)
  • from unidentified sources:
    • Diplomatic staff had sent numerous "detailed cables" to Washington requesting more security, with one mentioning that "the al Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings".
    • A CIA "quick reaction force" was ordered to stand down and allow the attack to proceed. They ignored the orders and are credited with saving five lives.

[Edit Nov 8:] The Washington Post found differences between the report "Morgan" gave to CBS and the one he gave to the Blue Mountain mercenary group. The Post also revealed his real name, Dylan Davies. A "State Department" employee using a fake name means he's a covert agent, or at least that it would be harmful to US interests for his real name to be released. This could be another Plame Affair. Davies denied having written the Blue Mountain report. CBS has apologised for the 60 Minutes report after the NYT reported that Davies's report to the FBI corresponded more closely to the Blue Mountain report than to what he had said in the CBS interview. It is well worth noting that Davies is was selling a book that is was being published by CBS's subsidiary Simon and Schuster. [Edit #2:] The book has been recalled.

The Telegraph has reported that "Darryl Davies" flew out of Libya "hours before the attack was launched".

The reporting on the controversy seems driven to make us look at anything other than the fact that this was an al-Qaeda attack and the allegations by everyone else that the leadership in Washington ignored requests for more security from its people in Libya. [Edit #2: Here's an example, and note also the disruption and redirection by user 'djchefron' of any attempt to raise the relevant issues.] 60 Minutes had two other witnesses and they are all the top officials there after Ambassador Stevens, but all of their testimony is being dismissed because one of them seems to have made up a story about sneaking back into the compound and killing a terrorist to sell his book. Breitbart may have solved this last year: The State Department had issued "Rules of Engagement for Libya" that forbid the standard use of Marines, necessitating the hiring of mercenaries, and also forbid the guards from carrying arms. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed off on the plan, so admitting that it did not work would be politically damaging to her. This explains the freakout from the partisan Democratic blogs whenever anyone suggests that the State Department should have known that the place was vulnerable to attack. They are planning to run her in 2016.

In a side note, Clare Lopez notes a discrepancy in the timeline: the State Department claims "everything is calm at 8:30PM", while five witnesses told the Associated Press that al-Qaeda had begun setting up roadblocks at 8:00 PM, an hour and forty minutes before the attack began. The Turkish diplomat who left the compound at 8:30 would probably have noticed something and failed to notify the Americans. Then again, according to the 60 Minutes interviews, the presence of al-Qaeda in Benghazi would not have been unusual.

[end of Nov 8 edit.]


Other Benghazi-related information:

Egyptian Supreme Court judge Tahani al-Gebali claims that one of Obama's brothers is a top figure in the Muslim Brotherhood. (The link calls her a former Chancellor and current advisor; other websites say she is the sitting vice chair.) This means absolutely nothing since a man is not his brother and the President is separated from his family socially, geographically, and ideologically; his father was an atheist, IIRC. There is also a loose connection between this brother and the IRS maybe-scandal.

The wingnutosphere is tying the story to a vague claim by Saad al-Shater that his father, jailed Muslim Brotherhood figure Khairat al-Shater, has information that could land Obama in prison. Curiously, the CIA was very interested in talking to the senior al-Shater. There is no sign that the two stories are connected and al-Shater's information has not been released, supposing it exists. I'm still waiting for Manuel Noriega's information that would send the elder Bush to prison.

€Wagn3r hacked into some US Army intelligence officers' email accounts and claims to have found evidence of the US having "staged" the chemical weapons attack in Syria. The evidence arises during a conversation between Col. Anthony J. "Jamie" MacDonald and Eugene "Gene" P. Furst discussing how intelligence contracts are funded. Gene breaks the conversation to say:
By the way, saw your latest success, my congratulations. Good job.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrian-activists-accuse-government-of-deadly-chemical-attack-near-damascus/2013/08/21/aea157e6-0a50-11e3-89fe-abb4a5067014_story.html

This is a link to the article on the chemical weapons attack. Jamie replies:

As you see I'm far from this now, but I know our guys did their best.

The second message of interest is from Jamie's wife Jennifer MacDonald to a Mary Shapiro. Speaking of the attack in Syria, she writes:

Tony comforted me. He said the kids weren't hurt, it was done for cameras.

Neither email exchange includes the word "staged", let alone "well staged". So the evidence released by an anti-American hacker does not say what the hacker says it does? Colour me shocked. Maybe something is hidden in one of the base64 sections that I haven't been able to open yet (this should help).

Both of the emails have alternate explanations that are just as believable and better fit Occam's razor by producing a less complicated story. For the first, they could be talking about intelligence gathering and/or building a story for the media. For the second, Tony lied to his wife to make her feel better and to shut her up. We need more evidence to say that anything has been proven either way.

Could the attack have been staged? Faking atrocities is a standard Muslim Brotherhood tactic. The Brotherhood in Syria has gone above this and held up their own Christian and Shiite massacre victims as Sunni victims of the Syrian secularists. (Examples: the Houla massacre and the Zayn al-Abidin Mosque bombing.) The Serbians claimed the Brotherhood was doing this back in Bosnia, with rumours of Serbian exiles recognizing their family members as the victims in the TV news reports of Serbian massacres of Bosnian Muslims. I didn't believe it at the time, but I'm starting to think they deserved a closer look.

Pretending that 1,400 people died in a nerve gas attack is more difficult to do. A real attack of that size would produce hospital and morgue records, graves, many families with missing members across all age groups (not only military-age males gone off to camp), many survivors suffering permanent brain damage, etc. All of this would need to be falsified. This would not be impossible, but it would be difficult and unlikely to hold up to scrutiny. Syria is a place where it would be difficult for that scrutiny to meet the evidence, and Middle East diplomacy is an area where honest scrutiny is in short supply.

My thoughts: as opposed to last time, I have no information. It sure looks like an attack took place and signs point to Syrian regime responsibility, but these signs all come from the pro-war media. As for whether this justifies a war (if true), the question is more complicated than it seems. Syria can claim that a chemical weapons attack is justified by the previous use of chemical weapons and acts of genocide by the Muslim Brotherhood.

From the rumour mill:

  • A report from Yahya Ababneh blames the attack on the Saudis, allegedly citing locals from the area. There are enough details to warrant scrutiny, repeat as above. Knowing nothing, it's just as easy to say he might have been rolled by Syrian/Iranian disinformation.
  • There was a report that the NSA had intercepted Syrian central command asking its officers in the field who the hell had ordered them to use chemical weapons. I can't find the link.
  • There are reports on right-wing blogs that Israeli intelligence intercepted Bashir Assad personally ordering the attack. That would seal it if true, but their sources are news articles that refer to Assad as a figurehead in describing the attack as being conducted by his forces.

Update: The rumour mill churned out a new one. In two articles, Yossef Bodansky is calling the attack a false flag done by the Muslim Brotherhood. His claims are:

  • A week before the attack, US, Turkish, and Qatari intelligence discussed an upcoming "war-changing development". Immediately following the attack, they would provide Muslim Brotherhood forces in the north of Syria with 400-1000 tons of weapons and ammunition.
  • A few days before the attack, US and Jordanian intelligence sent a small army of 650 men into Syria from Jordan where they got bogged down and started begging for American air support.
  • Two days before the attack, the local Muslim Brotherhood forces in al-Ghutah defected and appeared on state TV calling for the people to support Assad.
  • After the attack, Syrian forces raided Jobar and found precursor chemicals for producing sarin along with gas masks and laboratory equipment.

I haven't made up my mind about Bodansky. He says a lot of things that cannot be verified from publicly available information, but that cannot be discredited either. He was certainly in a position to know such things twenty years ago when he was head of the Republican congressional delegation's task force on terrorism, and there's a good chance that he made enough connections to still be in a position to know these things.

The WSJ reports that the CIA has been refusing to arm the "Free Syrian Army" "rebels" because they're fucking al-Qaeda. If Bodansky is correct about the arms shipments beginning after the attack, then the WSJ's information is old and it shows that somebody ordered the floodgates be opened over the CIA's objections.


Update #2: Via [personal profile] mindstalk, German intelligence intercepted a phone call where a Hezbollah commander informed an Iranian contact that Assad had personally ordered the attack. The US claims to have a separate intercept of "a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21".


Update #3: Pierre Piccin da Prata claims he overheard Free Syrian Army soldiers taking responsibility for the attack while he was being held for ransom at a FSA base. He says he cannot release any more details of what he heard until a second witness, Domenico Quirico of La Stampa, goes through the "magistrate" in Italy, which sounds suspicious.

Side note: I find it interesting that Quirico was captured and held for ransom by the FSA almost immediately upon entering Syria under FSA protection, after he had previously been captured and released by anti-Ghadafi forces in Libya. It's almost as if the same people are calling the shots in both wars, and that payment of a ransom, bribe, or blackmail will result in a repeat of the demand. Who could have imagined? On a darker note, I wonder if certain people in Europe are arranging for their own underlings to get captured as a mechanism to justify funding al-Qaeda through ransom money, or if they're too dumb to understand what they're doing in paying the ransoms. It has the same effect.


Update #4: Signs point to Syrian responsibility in al-Ghutah gas attack

The Revolutionary Communist Party (note the sign), the Workers World Party (note the signs), the Occupy movement, and the Muslim Brotherhood are mobilizing in support of Trayvon Martin's right to beat up any untermensch he feels like attacking because he is of a superior race.

(For anyone who missed the trial, we learned from the prosecution's witnesses that Martin confronted Zimmerman, Martin started the fight, Martin was the one beating Zimmerman while Zimmerman was calling for help, Martin had racist motivations, Zimmerman did not, Zimmerman was telling the truth this whole time, and everything you've heard from the press against Zimmerman was wrong. The defense only had to show up.)

Beware of disinformation. All of these groups lie their lips off as a standard tactic and justify it as a way to hasten the revolution, and all four are competent at getting their propaganda into the mainstream culture.

Why is the MB involved? My guess is political strategy, making inroads into other groups. Next guess is someone is paying them.

One thing that's interesting is that these groups have international networks and also tend to take curious positions on international issues that would coincide with what fronts for hostile foreign intelligence agencies would be expected to say. It's curious. I'd love to have a look at their financial records.

The NYT's Ben Hubbard finally broke through the English-language media's curtain of misinformation on Syria. Choice quotes:

Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by [religious] lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists ...

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of ...

The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion ...

... the failure of more mainstream rebel groups to secure regular arms supplies has allowed Islamists to fill the void and win supporters. [NOTE: This means the US, Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have been deliberately arming the Islamists and deliberately not arming the "more mainstream rebel groups".]

Meanwhile every other news source is copying and pasting reports from one guy in England who is simply relaying messages from the Islamists. I've been able to figure out what's going on by reading between the lines of the bad information we've been getting, hearing the rebels announce openly and often that their goal is to exterminate the Alawites and Christians, and discovering that the people "massacred by Assad's forces" often were Assad's forces and pro-Assad civilians. This is the first time I've seen someone in a major media outlet put it all together.

EoZ has the one-line conclusion: "There aren't any pro-Western rebels in Syria. None."

A few years ago there was a kerfuffle about FBI training materials being bigoted against Islam. Examples were given of training materials that were in fact bigoted against Islam, and the one person responsible for those specific materials was fired while a few people on the right claimed without evidence that the Obama administration was censoring rational discussion about the motives of Islamic terrorists.

Now we have this quote from Steven Emerson:

"Numerous experts on Islamic terrorism like myself -- and I had given 143 lectures at the FBI, CIA -- were banned from speaking to any U.S. government counterterrorism conferences," Mr. Emerson told The Washington Times. "Instead, these agencies were ordered to invite Muslim Brotherhood front groups." [punctuation added to make the quote easier to read]

Emerson was one of the first journalists to report on al-Qaeda operating in the United States, back in 1994 before anybody knew there was a wider organization with a name. He approaches the subject from a journalist's perspective, gathering evidence and reporting plainly what the facts are. If they've blacklisted Steven Emerson and his work -- which is mostly the collection, publication, and analysis of primary source documents -- then the Obama administration has in fact banned the unbiased rational study of plain facts about Islamic terrorist organizations.

I am reminded of the saying that the American military in Vietnam did not have ten years of experience fighting the Communists, but one year of experience repeated ten times over. Now our people are forbidden from acquiring that one year of experience.


Potentially related: Ex-CIA officer Clare Lopez reports that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the US government at key points to control the flow of information about Islamic terrorism. Her conclusions are questionable, but she cites her sources.

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