The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

The Saudis Aren’t Going Anywhere | LobeLog

It may be true that the rulers of Saudi Arabia are unhappy over some aspects of U.S. policy toward Syria, Iran and Egypt, but it does not follow that they will therefore seek to detach the kingdom from its longstanding security alliance with the United States. To understand why, it is useful to review the history of the U.S.-Saudi relationship and examine the reality of the security partnership today to evaluate whether Saudi Arabia would really consider recasting its international security ties. [more]

The US ratified the Chemical Weapons Treaty. But Syria did not. In the same way that Israel didn’t sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Why do we expect Syria to abide by the former when we don’t require Israel to abide by the latter? Marcy Wheeler

Prince Bandar and the Destruction of Syria | Pepe Escobar

Moscow won’t drop Damascus. Period. At the same time, as Bandar threatened, Geneva II seems more unlikely to happen than the Obama administration ceasing to drone Yemen to death.

The name of the game, in practice, remains Syria as the new Afghanistan, with the House of Saud in control of all aspects of jihad (with Washington “leading from behind”). Deadly historic irony also applies; instead of clashing with the Soviet Union, now the Saudis clash with the Russian federation. Bandar is simultaneously the new Weaponizer-in-Chief, as well as Liberator-in-Chief of Syria. The Comeback Spy is not accounting for future, inevitable, ghastly blowback; what’s alarming is that the Obama administration is right behind him.

CIA Gun-running: Qatar-Libya-Syria | Phil Greaves

A report from CNN’s Jake Tapper has reintroduced “Benghazi-Gate” to the US media spotlight. The report claims that “dozens” of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi on the night of the attack, and the CIA is going to great lengths to suppress details of them and their whereabouts being released. The report alleges that the CIA is engaged in “unprecedented” attempts to stifle employee leaks, and “intimidation” to keep the secrets of Benghazi hidden, allegedly going as far as changing the names of CIA operatives and “dispersing” them around the country.

One suspects this has a single and defined purpose – to hide the CIA’s culpability in supplying arms to known extremists in Libya and Syria. Moreover, the CNN report alludes to the CIA supplying “surface-to-air missiles” from Benghazi to rebels in Syria, but this may only be the tip of the iceberg. The report goes on to state: (PG emphasis)

Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings. The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress. It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.

Although Saudi Arabia have recently been kindly given “the Syrian card” by the United States – with Prince Bandar once again becoming “Prince of the Jihad,” it has become common knowledge that since the onset of the Syrian crisis, it was Qatar at the forefront of supplying arms and funds to both the political and militant elements of the so-called “opposition”. This has undoubtedly included tacit support of the dominant radical elements among the plethora of brigades on the ground in Syria; with Jabhat al Nusra being the most obvious beneficiary of Qatari largesse. Earlier this year it was reported that the CIA had been in direct “consultation” with the Qatari Monarchys’ network of arms smugglers – run primarily from the Emir’s palace in Doha. Accordingly, it seems certain that both the CIA and Qatari intelligence were involved in an operation to ship arms stockpiles from “rebels” in Libya; to the “rebels” in Syria: both varieties of which are inextricably linked to Al Qaeda affiliates and radical Salafi-Jihadi militants.

A New York Times report from 30 March 2011 reveals that the CIA had been active in Libya “for weeks”, to “gather information for [NATO] airstrikes, and to contact and ‘vet’ the rebels battling “Gaddafi’s forces”. The New York Times report also states that Obama had signed a presidential finding in the weeks previous, which gave authority to the CIA to arm and fund the rebels. Furthermore, the Independent revealed in March 2011 that Obama had requested Saudi Arabia supply arms to the Libyan militants. Obama had also given his blessing for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to ship arms into Benghazi, urging them to supply non-US manufactured arms to avert suspicion – in violation of the No-Fly Zone and arms embargo he helped to enforce, and all in total violation of the US Constitution and International Law. [must read]

Report: Kerry Threatens to Stop Venezuela Gas Trade Over Snowden | Antiwar

The Obama Administration has apparently been ratcheting up the threats against the Venezuelan government in the wake of their offer of asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden, threatening huge economic and diplomatic retaliation.

Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly called Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Elias Jaua to announce that a number of Venezuelan officials’ visas were being revoked, and that this was just the beginning.

Kerry also is said to have told Jaua that the US was considering suspending the sale of gasoline and oil byproducts to Venezuela. Though the Venezuelan government is a huge exporter of crude oil to the United States, it is increasingly reliant on the US for refining capabilities.

In most of the world, this is considered mutually beneficial trade, but for the US, the prospect of using it as a weapon to really stick it to Venezuela is too good to pass up. That halting the trade is likely to be much more damaging to the US than Venezuela is likely not considered.

But remember:
Obama: US will not engage in ‘wheeling and dealing’ over Edward Snowden | guardian.co.uk

US Mulls Attacking Syria | Antiwar

Again.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey confirmed that the Obama Administration is discussing the prospect of attacking Syria, and that the Pentagon has provided President Obama with several options for “kinetic strikes.”

Dempsey insisted that the momentum of the ongoing Syrian Civil War has shifted in favor of the Assad government, while hawkish Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) railed about the administration not having attacked Syria long ago.

McCain and Dempsey clashed when Dempsey suggested that a US invasion can sometimes making situations worse. McCain blasted him for opposing the 2007 surge in Iraq, insisting that it proved that US escalations were “right” and any opposition to them was wrong.

President Obama’s promises to arm rebels and the new talk of invasion have sparked concern from some in Congress that the rebels’ ties to al-Qaeda are concerning and that the administration doesn’t have specific exit strategies despite their eagerness to get involved in new conflicts. The administration seems reluctant to address that criticism publicly, and is relying on hawks to shout down any opposition to war in general.

US Promises Israel: New Iranian President Will Be Met With Hostility

Last month, US officials were greeting the election of Reformist candidate Hassan Rohani as Iran’s next president as a hopeful sign, while simultaneously patting themselves on the back and taking credit for his election.

But if Rohani was really the candidate the US wants, they have a funny way of showing it, as US diplomats are now reassuring Israelis that the US will treat Rohani with intense hostility, and will up the sanctions and threats against Iran going forward.

The promises appear designed to assuage Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fears that Rohani’s election has spoiled his assorted war plans and has been railing about the need to threaten Iran more often every chance he gets.

Austrian paper Die Presse revealed that the US Ambassador in Austria, William Eacho, was responsible for spreading the (false) information about Snowden being on board Bolivia President Evo Morales’ Falcon out of Russia - leading to the denial of overflying rights in France, Spain, Portugal an Italy. Eacho - a former CEO of a food distribution company with no diplomatic experience whatsoever - was appointed by Obama to go to Vienna in June 2009. Why? Because he was a top Obama fundraiser. … Eacho did little to disprove those who sustain that the NSA really needs to ‘analyze’ every phone call, email and tweet on the planet - otherwise they could never obtain such pearls of intelligence as pinpointing Snowden on Evo’s plane. As for the astonishing incompetence of accumulated European intelligence agencies, that was already a given. Yet they were certainly very competent to logistically support countless extraordinary rendition CIA flights during the Bush years. No flight - much less a presidential one - was ‘grounded’ then. Pepe Escobar, Snowden: towards an endgame

The leading whistleblower of all time: Philip Agee | William Blum

Before there was Edward Snowden, William Binney and Thomas Drake … before there was Bradley Manning, Sibel Edmonds and Jesselyn Radack … there was Philip Agee. What Agee revealed is still the most startling and important information about US foreign policy that any American government whistleblower has ever revealed.

Philip Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 – a pioneering work on the Agency’s methods and their devastating consequences – appeared in about 30 languages around the world and was a best seller in many countries; it included a 23-page appendix with the names of hundreds of undercover Agency operatives and organizations.

Under CIA manipulation, direction and, usually, their payroll, were past and present presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, “our minister of labor”, “our vice-president”, “my police”, journalists, labor leaders, student leaders, diplomats, and many others. If the Agency wished to disseminate anti-communist propaganda, cause dissension in leftist ranks, or have Communist embassy personnel expelled, it need only prepare some phoney documents, present them to the appropriate government ministers and journalists, and – presto! – instant scandal.

Agee’s goal in naming all these individuals, quite simply, was to make it as difficult as he could for the CIA to continue doing its dirty work.

A common Agency tactic was writing editorials and phoney news stories to be knowingly published by Latin American media with no indication of the CIA authorship or CIA payment to the media. The propaganda value of such a “news” item might be multiplied by being picked up by other CIA stations in Latin America who would disseminate it through a CIA-owned news agency or a CIA-owned radio station. Some of these stories made their way back to the United States to be read or heard by unknowing North Americans.

Wooing the working class came in for special treatment. Labor organizations by the dozen, sometimes hardly more than names on stationery, were created, altered, combined, liquidated, and new ones created again, in an almost frenzied attempt to find the right combination to compete with existing left-oriented unions and take national leadership away from them.

In 1975 these revelations were new and shocking; for many readers it was the first hint that American foreign policy was not quite what their high-school textbooks had told them nor what the New York Times had reported.

“As complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere, an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British ‘case officer’ operates … All of it … presented with deadly accuracy,” wrote Miles Copeland, a former CIA station chief, and ardent foe of Agee. (There’s no former CIA officer more hated by members of the intelligence establishment than Agee; no one’s even close; due in part to his traveling to Cuba and having long-term contact with Cuban intelligence.)

In contrast to Agee, WikiLeaks withheld the names of hundreds of informants from the nearly 400,000 Iraq war documents it released.

In 1969, Agee resigned from the CIA (and colleagues who “long ago ceased to believe in what they are doing”).

While on the run from the CIA as he was writing Inside the Company – at times literally running for his life – Agee was expelled from, or refused admittance to, Italy, Britain, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. (West Germany eventually gave him asylum because his wife was a leading ballerina in the country.) Agee’s account of his period on the run can be found detailed in his book On the Run (1987). It’s an exciting read.

Shamming into Syria | Chris Floyd

When I saw the news on June 13 that Bill Clinton had joined with John McCain in blasting Obama’s “inaction” on Syria and calling for direct U.S. military intervention in the conflict, I knew we would soon hear the other shoe dropping. And lo, just hours later, pat it came, with that reliable old house organ of the power structure, the New York Times, portentously reporting that “intelligence” had “confirmed” the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government — the flashing “red line” that Obama had declared would be the trigger for more American intervention.

One day later, the New York Times reported that the White House will now supply the rebels with arms — yet another loose, uncontrollable flood of weaponry washing through the most volatile region on earth, guaranteeing more death, more ruin, more terrorism, more needless suffering not only on the Syrian killing grounds, but far beyond as well — exactly as we saw in the Libyan intervention. And no doubt the Sunni militants in Iraq — currently killing dozens of people weekly in the sectarian hell created by the American invasion — will love the U.S. ordnance they’ll soon be getting from their al Qaeda allies in the forefront of the Syrian rebel campaign.

The move by Clinton, the progressive’s beloved “Big Dawg,” move was obviously part of a sham operation to “force” poor, peace-loving Obama into significantly ramping up American military involvement in Syria. (And the sight of this self-infatuated gasbag — with the blood of half a million sanction-murdered Iraqi children on his hands – now demanding more bloodshed for innocent people was truly sickening. Especially the “reasoning” he gave for urging action, despite that fact that intervention is opposed by 85 percent of the American people: if Obama failed to help kill more people in Syria, Clinton said, he would end up “looking like a wuss.” Yes, that really is the level of intellect that drives policy at the highest reaches of the American power structure. Yes, they really are juvenile neurotics with third-rate minds obsessed with their illusory “manhood,” which can apparently be expressed only by the large-scale slaughter of human beings and military domination of the whole earth. Christ Jesus, boys — ain’t you ever heard of Viagra? Bob Dole can get it for you wholesale. You really don’t have to kill people just to get it up.)

For months, Obama has been playing this rope-a-dope game, stringing along both the rabid interventionists and the remaining “progressives” who still believe, against all evidence, in the president’s good intentions. But now the time has come to up the ante. Why?

One reason — noted by the Times — is the fact that the Syrian rebels are clearly in danger of losing, despite the best efforts of close American allies like the woman-hating, head-chopping, extremism-abetting religious tyrants in Saudi Arabia to keep the bloodshed going. Indeed, as As’ad AbuKhailil points out, the Saudi and Qatari gun-runners and paymasters of the predominantly Sunni rebels in Syria are increasingly using the conflict to foment a genocidal fury against Shiites and related sects across the Middle East. As in Iraq, Western intervention is fuelling a spiral of uncontrollable sectarian violence at a level unseen in the region for centuries, AbuKhalil notes. And American warmongers love to see Muslims killing each other, especially if it opens up new opportunities for war profiteering and oil deals, as in Libya and now in Syria. For example, just one day before the intelligence apparat “confirmed” chemical weapon use by Syria, the administration eased export restrictions to “help facilitate oil sales from rebel-controlled areas,” Reuters reports. One of life’s little coincidences, I reckon.

Equally coincidental, no doubt, is the fact that this intelligence “finding” comes just as Team Obama is reeling from revelations of the Orwell-surpassing cyber-panopticon it has imposed on the entire populace. What better distraction from domestic skullduggery than the ever-reliable foreign threat: “Look over yonder — WMDs!” Time to rally round the flag – and fill airtime and newsprint with endless blather and Pentagon propaganda about the noble humanitarian “surge” against Syria.

This is a momentous move — however juvenile and shallow and irredeemably stupid its perpetrators may be. Syria is not Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan, isolated regimes on the outskirts of the Middle East. It is in the very center of the powder keg. And it has powerful allies in Russia and Iran. Expanding the civil war there could draw those countries more directly into the conflict, as well as Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, even Turkey. The risk of a wider regional war — even a world war — is very real.

This is the reality we are now entering. It’s not just blasts of point-scoring partisan rhetoric ricocheting around Capitol Hill, cable news and Twitter. There is a real world out there beyond the various screens that transfix us all, sealing us in an abstract, virtual space of light and pixels. Real people will die from this decision, and from the ludicrous, sinister games played by the stunted power-seekers on every side of the increasingly savage conflict.

'Out of Control': Europe Furious over NSA Spying on EU Facilities | SPIEGEL ONLINE

"Elmar Brok, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in European Parliament added his opprobrium. ‘The spying has reached dimensions that I didn’t think were possible for a democratic country. Such behavior among allies is intolerable.’ The US, he added, once the land of the free, ‘is suffering from a security syndrome,’ added Brok, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats. 'They have completely lost all balance. George Orwell is nothing by comparison.'

Europeans are furious. Revelations that the US intelligence service National Security Agency (NSA) targeted the European Union and several European countries with its far-reaching spying activities have led to angry reactions from several senior EU and German politicians.

“We need more precise information,” said European Parliament President Martin Schulz. “But if it is true, it is a huge scandal. That would mean a huge burden for relations between the EU and the US. We now demand comprehensive information.”

Schulz was reacting to a report in SPIEGEL that the NSA had bugged the EU’s diplomatic representation in Washington and monitored its computer network (full story available on Monday). The EU’s representation to the United Nations in New York was targeted in a similar manner. US intelligence thus had access to EU email traffic and internal documents. The information appears in secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden, some of which SPIEGEL has seen.

The documents also indicate the US intelligence service was responsible for an electronic eavesdropping operation in Brussels. SPIEGEL also reported that Germany has been a significant target of the NSA’s global surveillance program, with some 500 million communication connections being monitored every month. The documents show that the NSA is more active in Germany than in any other country in the European Union.

EU and German politicians on Sunday, however, were reacting primarily to the revelations that the US had specifically targeted the 27-member bloc with its surveillance activities. “If these reports are true, then it is abhorrent,” said Luxembourgian Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. “It would seem that the secret services have gotten out of control. The US should monitor their own secret services rather than their allies.”

Asselborn characterized the operation as a breach of trust. “The US justifies everything as being part of the fight against terrorism. But the EU and its diplomats are not terrorists. We need a guarantee from the very highest level that it stops immediately.”

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