Tuesday, January 8, 2008
When Gandhi was asked his opinion of Western civilization he said it would be a good idea. But that oft-cited quote, is misleading, assuming as it does that civilization is an unmitigated blessing.
Civilized people, we are told, live peacefully and cooperatively with their fellows, sharing the necessary labour in order to obtain the leisure to develop arts and sciences. And while that would be a good idea, it is not a good description of what has been going on in the so-called advanced cultures during the past 8,000 years.
Civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths. All civilizations, our own included, have been based on slavery and “warfare.” Incidentally, the latter term is a euphemism for mass murder.
The prevailing recipe for civilization is simple:
1) Use lies and brainwashing to create an army of controlled, systematic mass murderers;
2) Use that army to enslave large numbers of people (i.e. seize control of their labour power and its fruits);
3) Use that slave labour power to improve the brainwashing process (by using the economic surplus to employ scribes, priests, and PR men). Then go back to step one and repeat the process.
Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, injure, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse. The inventor of civilization — the first tribal chieftain who successfully brainwashed an army of controlled mass murderers—was almost certainly a genetic psychopath. Since that momentous discovery, psychopaths have enjoyed a significant advantage over non-psychopaths in the struggle for power in civilizational hierarchies — especially military hierarchies.
Military institutions are tailor-made for psychopathic killers. The 5% or so of human males who feel no remorse about killing their fellow human beings make the best soldiers. And the 95% who are extremely reluctant to kill make terrible soldiers — unless they are brainwashed with highly sophisticated modern techniques that turn them (temporarily it is hoped) into functional psychopaths.
In On Killing, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has re-written military history, to highlight what other histories hide: The fact that military science is less about strategy and technology, than about overcoming the instinctive human reluctance to kill members of our own species. The true “Revolution in Military Affairs” was not Donald Rumsfeld’s move to high-tech in 2001, but Brigadier Gen. S.L.A. Marshall’s discovery in the 1940s that only 15-20% of World War II soldiers along the line of fire would use their weapons: “Those (80-85%) who did not fire did not run or hide (in many cases they were willing to risk great danger to rescue comrades, get ammunition, or run messages), but they simply would not fire their weapons at the enemy, even when faced with repeated waves of banzai charges” (Grossman, p. 4).
Marshall’s discovery and subsequent research, proved that in all previous wars, a tiny minority of soldiers — the 5% who are natural-born psychopaths, and perhaps a few temporarily-insane imitators—did almost all the killing. Normal men just went through the motions and, if at all possible, refused to take the life of an enemy soldier, even if that meant giving up their own. The implication: Wars are ritualized mass murders by psychopaths of non-psychopaths. (This cannot be good for humanity’s genetic endowment!)
Marshall’s work, brought a Copernican revolution to military science. In the past, everyone believed that the soldier willing to kill for his country was the (heroic) norm, while one who refused to fight was a (cowardly) aberration. The truth, as it turned out, was that the normative soldier hailed from the psychopathic five percent. The sane majority, would rather die than fight.
The implication, too frightening for even the likes of Marshall and Grossman to fully digest, was that the norms for soldiers’ behaviour in battle had been set by psychopaths. That meant that psychopaths were in control of the military as an institution. Worse, it meant that psychopaths were in control of society’s perception of military affairs. Evidently, psychopaths exercised an enormous amount of power in seemingly sane, normal society.
How could that be? In Political Ponerology, Andrzej Lobaczewski explains that clinical psychopaths enjoy advantages even in non-violent competitions to climb the ranks of social hierarchies. Because they can lie without remorse (and without the telltale physiological stress that is measured by lie detector tests) psychopaths can always say whatever is necessary to get what they want. In court, for example, psychopaths can tell extreme bald-faced lies in a plausible manner, while their sane opponents are handicapped by an emotional predisposition to remain within hailing distance of the truth. Too often, the judge or jury imagines that the truth must be somewhere in the middle, and then issues decisions that benefit the psychopath. As with judges and juries, so too with those charged with decisions concerning who to promote and who not to promote in corporate, military and governmental hierarchies. The result is that all hierarchies inevitably become top-heavy with psychopaths.
So-called conspiracy theorists, some of whom deserve the pejorative connotation of that much-abused term, often imagine that secret societies of Jews, Jesuits, bankers, communists, Bilderbergers, Muslim extremists, papists, and so on, are secretly controlling history, doing dastardly deeds, and/or threatening to take over the world. As a leading “conspiracy theorist” according to Wikipedia, I feel eminently qualified to offer an alternative conspiracy theory which, like the alternative conspiracy theory of 9/11, is both simpler and more accurate than the prevailing wisdom: The only conspiracy that matters is the conspiracy of the psychopaths against the rest of us.
Behind the apparent insanity of contemporary history, is the actual insanity of psychopaths fighting to preserve their disproportionate power. And as that power grows ever-more-threatened, the psychopaths grow ever-more-desperate. We are witnessing the apotheosis of the overworld—the criminal syndicate or overlapping set of syndicates that lurks above ordinary society and law just as the underworld lurks below it. In 9/11 and the 9/11 wars, we are seeing the final desperate power-grab or “endgame” (Alex Jones) of brutal, cunning gangs of CIA drug-runners and President-killers; money-laundering international bankers and their hit-men, economic and otherwise; corrupt military contractors and gung-ho generals; corporate predators and their political enablers; brainwashers and mind-rapists euphemistically known as psy-ops experts and PR specialists—in short, the whole sick crew of certifiable psychopaths running our so-called civilization. And they are running scared. It was their terror of losing control that they projected onto the rest of us by blowing up the Twin Towers and inciting temporary psychopathic terror-rage in the American public.
Why does the pathocracy fear it is losing control? Because it is threatened by the spread of knowledge. The greatest fear of any psychopath is of being found out. As George H. W. Bush said to journalist Sarah McClendon, December 1992, “If the people knew what we had done, they would chase us down the street and lynch us.” Given that Bush is reported to have participated in parties where child prostitutes were sodomized and otherwise abused, among his many other crimes, his statement to McClendon should be taken seriously.
Psychopaths go through life knowing that they are completely different from other people. They quickly learn to hide their lack of empathy, while carefully studying others’ emotions so as to mimic normalcy while cold-bloodedly manipulating the normals.
Today, thanks to new information technologies, we are on the brink of unmasking the psychopaths and building a civilization of, by and for the normal human being — a civilization without war, a civilization based on truth, a civilization in which the saintly few rather than the diabolical few would gravitate to positions of power. We already have the knowledge necessary to diagnose psychopathic personalities and keep them out of power. We have the knowledge necessary to dismantle the institutions in which psychopaths especially flourish — militaries, intelligence agencies, large corporations, and secret societies. We simply need to disseminate this knowledge, and the will to use it, as widely as possible.
Above all, we need to inform the public about how psychopaths co-opt and corrupt normal human beings. One way they do this, is by manipulating shame and denial — emotions foreign to psychopaths but common and easily-induced among normals.
Consider how gangs and secret societies (psychopaths’ guilds in disguise) recruit new members. Some criminal gangs and satanist covens demand that candidates for admission commit a murder to “earn their stripes.” Skull and Bones, the Yale-based secret society that supplies the CIA with drug-runners, mind-rapists, child abusers and professional killers, requires neophytes to lie naked in a coffin and masturbate in front of older members while reciting the candidate’s entire sexual history. By forcing the neophyte to engage in ritualized behaviour that would be horrendously shameful in normal society, the psychopaths’ guild destroys the candidate’s normal personality, assuming he had one in the first place, and turns the individual into a co-opted, corrupt, degraded shadow of his former self — a manufactured psychopath or psychopath’s apprentice.
This manipulation of shame has the added benefit of making psychopathic organizations effectively invisible to normal society. Despite easily available media reports, American voters in 2004 simply refused to see that the two major-party presidential candidates had lain naked in a coffin masturbating in front of older Bonesmen in order to gain admission to Skull and Bones and thus become members of the criminal overworld. Likewise, many Americans have long refused to see that hawkish elements of the overworld, operating through the CIA, had obviously been the murderers of JFK, MLK, RFK, JFK Jr., Malcolm X, ChÈ, AllendÈ, Wellstone, Lumumba, Aguilera, Diem, and countless other relatively non-psychopathic leaders. They refuse to see the continuing murders of millions of people around the world in what amounts to an American holocaust. They refuse to see the evidence that the psychopaths’ guilds running America’s most powerful institutions use the most horrific forms of sexualized abuse imaginable to induce multiple-personality-disorder in child victims, then use the resulting mind-control slaves as disposable drug-runners, prostitutes, Manchurian candidates, and even diplomatic envoys. And of course they refuse to see that 9/11 was a transparently obvious inside job, and that their own psychopath-dominated military-intelligence apparatus is behind almost every major terrorist outrage of recent decades.
All of this psychopathic behaviour at the top of the social hierarchy is simply too shameful for ordinary people to see, so they avert their gaze, just as wives of husbands who are sexually abusing their children sometimes refuse to see what is happening in plain view. If deep, deep denial were a river in Egypt, American citizens’ wilful blindness would be more like the Marianas Trench.
But thanks to the power of the internet, people everywhere are waking up. The only obvious non-psychopath among Republican presidential candidates, Ron Paul, also happens to be the only candidate in either party with significant grassroots support.
If “love” is embedded in the Revolution Ron Paul heralds, that is because Dr. Paul — a kindly, soft-spoken physician who has delivered more than 4,000 babies — implicitly recognizes that government is the invention and tool of psychopaths, and therefore must be strictly limited in scope and subjected to a rigorous system of checks and balances, lest the psychopath’s tools, fear and hatred, replace love as the glue that binds society together.
The decline in militarism since World War II in advanced countries, the spread of literacy and communications technology, and the people’s growing demands for a better life, together represent a gathering force that terrifies the pathocracy, (those alternately competing-then-cooperating gangs of psychopaths who have ruled through lies, fear and intimidation since the dawn of so-called civilization).
Since nuclear weapons have made war obsolete, the pathocracy is terrified that its favourite social control mechanism — ritualized mass slaughter — is increasingly unavailable. And if war was the great human tragedy, the pathocrats’ pathetic attempt at a war-substitute — the transparently phoney “war on terror” — is repeating it as sheerest farce.
Truly, we are witnessing the twilight of the psychopaths. Whether in their death throes they succeed in pulling down the curtain of eternal night on all of us, or whether we resist them and survive to see the dawn of a civilization worthy of the name, is the great decision in which all of us others, however humbly, are now participating.
About the writer:
Dr. Kevin Barrett, co-founder of the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Alliance for 9/11 Truth, link, has taught English, French, Arabic, American Civilization, Humanities, African Literature, Folklore, and Islam at colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay area, Paris, and Madison, Wisconsin. Barrett became a 9/11 truth activist in 2004 after reading David Griffin's The New Pearl Harbor and conducting follow-up research that convinced him Griffin had accurately summarized evidence indicating 9/11 was an inside job.
In the summer of 2006, Republican state legislators and Fox newscasters demanded that Barrett be fired from his job teaching an introductory Islam class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but the University refused to buckle, and Barrett got high marks from his students. He has appeared in several documentary films, lectures widely on 9/11 and hosts three radio programs on three different patriot networks.
Meanwhile, Hermann Bellinghausen reports for La Jornada Jan. 2 on further attacks against Zapatista support bases by followers of the ironically-named Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPDDIC), which the EZLN charges is a paramilitary group. On Dec. 29, Zapatista supporter Pablo Silvano Jiménez was shot and wounded by an OPDDIC gunman apparently backed up by Chaipas state police officers in the community of Betel Yochiv, near the settlement of Agua Clara. On Dec. 27, Zapatista supporter Julio Hernández Gómez was attacked with machetes by OPDDIC militants at Cascadas de Agua Azul.
A federal judge forbade the Navy on Thursday from using a powerful form
of sonar within 12 miles of the California coast and slapped other
restrictions on naval war exercises in a ruling that could have
repercussions in the Pacific Northwest.
U.S. District Judge Florence Marie-Cooper said noise from the Navy's
midfrequency sonar far outstrips levels at which federal rules require
ear protection for humans on the job. Whales' hearing is extremely
"The court is persuaded that the (protection) scheme proposed by the
Navy is grossly inadequate to protect marine mammals from debilitating
levels of sonar exposure," Marie-Cooper wrote in her ruling.
The Navy offered to reduce the sonar's intensity when whales approached
within about 1,100 yards and power down further before shutting the
sonar off when the creatures got within 200 yards. The judge ordered
sonar shut off when marine mammals are within 2,200 yards.
By the Navy's own estimate, it would harass or harm marine mammals, as
prohibited by the Endangered Species Act, about 170,000 times, the judge
said. The Navy said the series of 14 exercises would temporarily deafen
whales 8,000 times and cause permanent injuries in more than 400 cases.
Environmental groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council,
brought suit as part of a campaign to rein in sonar use, which they
contend violates several federal laws. They had sought a ban on naval
exercises out to 25 miles from shore.
The Navy argued that it must train sailors against a new generation of
quiet submarines that can't be detected by traditional "passive" sonar,
but are picked up by the midfrequency version.
The service said exercises off Southern California are important because
they give sailors training around undersea mountain ranges like those
where they might chase subs elsewhere in the world.
"Despite the care the court took in crafting its order, we do not
believe it struck the right balance between national security and
environmental concerns," said Jeff Davis, a Navy spokesman at the
The judge also required the Navy to watch for marine mammals for an hour
before using the sonar, among other conditions.
The restrictions could affect the debate in the Northwest over
protecting Puget Sound orcas and other marine mammals.
However, different species are at risk off Southern California. There,
beaked whales sometimes disappear underwater for up to an hour. Orcas
are usually easier to spot.
succeeded in penetrating Allied communications systems, and they could
monitor Allied message traffic from within. But sometimes they did
more than that.
On several occasions "the communists were able, by communicating on
Allied radio nets, to call in Allied artillery or air strikes on
That is just one passing observation (at p. 392) in an exhaustive
history of American signals intelligence (SIGINT) in the Vietnam War
that has just been declassified and released by the National Security
From the first intercepted cable -- a 1945 message from Ho Chi Minh to
Joseph Stalin -- to the final evacuation of SIGINT personnel from
Saigon, the 500-page NSA volume, called "Spartans in Darkness," retells
the history of the Vietnam War from the perspective of signals
The most sensational part of the history (which was excerpted and
disclosed by the NSA two years ago) is the recounting of the 1964 Gulf
of Tonkin Incident, in which a reported North Vietnamese attack on U.S.
forces triggered a major escalation of the war. The author demonstrates
that not only is it not true, as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara
told Congress, that the evidence of an attack was "unimpeachable," but
that to the contrary, a review of the classified signals intelligence
proves that "no attack happened that night."
Several other important Vietnam War-era episodes are elucidated by the
contribution of SIGINT, including the Tet Offensive, the attempted
rescue of U.S. prisoners of war from Son Tay prison, and more.
The author, Robert J. Hanyok, writes in a lively, occasionally florid
style that is accessible even to those who are not well-versed in the
history of SIGINT or Vietnam.
The 2002 study was released in response to a Mandatory Declassification
Review request filed by Michael Ravnitzky. About 95% of the document
was declassified. (Unfortunately, several of the pages were poorly
reproduced by NSA and are difficult to read. A cleaner, clearer copy
will need to be obtained.)
See "Spartans in Darkness: American SIGINT and the Indochina War,
1945-1975" by Robert J. Hanyok, Center for Cryptologic History,
National Security Agency, 2002:
Some background on the Tonkin Gulf Incident from the National Security
Archive with links to related documents may be found here:
6 Jan 2008
Open Steve Coll's aptly titled book, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, at almost any page and you're likely to find something that makes a mockery of the film Charlie Wilson's War. There, on p. 90, for instance, is the larger-than-
I could go on, starting perhaps with the president Casey served, Ronald Reagan, who declared the Afghan anti-Soviet fighters his CIA director was running, partly with Saudi money, to be "the moral equal of our founding fathers." None of this was exactly secret information, or even hard to find, at the time that the movie Charlie Wilson's War was being made -- which makes it a top candidate for the most politically bizarre, consciously dumb film of our era.
Two well-known entertainment-
Coll's book was published in 2004. Chalmers Johnson's Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire came out in 2000, 18 months before the attacks of 9/11. Its prescient analysis made it a prophetic text -- and propelled it onto bestseller lists after the 9/11 attacks (and "blowback," a CIA term of trade, into popular culture). Even though he wrote that book well before those towers came down, Johnson saw clearly that, while "American policies helped ensure that the Soviet Union would suffer the same kind of debilitating defeat in Afghanistan as the United States had in Vietnam… in Afghanistan the United States also helped bring to power the Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic movement." Even more important, he noted that the "mujahideen, who only a few years earlier the United States had armed with ground-to-air Stinger missiles, grew bitter over American acts and policies…" -- with consequences that were, even then, becoming apparent and would soon enough culminate in a horrific blowback from a CIA-run operation that had been deemed a great success.
Thank heavens, then, that Chalmers Johnson, whose magisterial book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (the final volume of his Blowback Trilogy) will be appearing in paperback this month, puts a little history back into Charlie Wilson's War in his own inimitable manner. Tom
Imperialist PropagandaSecond Thoughts on Charlie Wilson's War
By Chalmers Johnson
I have some personal knowledge of Congressmen like Charlie Wilson (D-2nd District, Texas, 1973-1996) because, for close to twenty years, my representative in the 50th Congressional District of California was Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham, now serving an eight-and-a-
half year prison sentence for soliciting and receiving bribes from defense contractors. Wilson and Cunningham held exactly the same plummy committee assignments in the House of Representatives -- the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee plus the Intelligence Oversight Committee -- from which they could dole out large sums of public money with little or no input from their colleagues or constituents.
Both men flagrantly abused their positions -- but with radically different consequences. Cunningham went to jail because he was too stupid to know how to game the system -- retire and become a lobbyist -- whereas Wilson received the Central Intelligence Agency Clandestine Service's first "honored colleague" award ever given to an outsider and went on to become a $360,000 per annum lobbyist for Pakistan.
In a secret ceremony at CIA headquarters on June 9, 1993, James Woolsey, Bill Clinton's first Director of Central Intelligence and one of the agency's least competent chiefs in its checkered history, said: "The defeat and breakup of the Soviet empire is one of the great events of world history. There were many heroes in this battle, but to Charlie Wilson must go a special recognition.
" One important part of that recognition, studiously avoided by the CIA and most subsequent American writers on the subject, is that Wilson's activities in Afghanistan led directly to a chain of blowback that culminated in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and led to the United States' current status as the most hated nation on Earth.
On May 25, 2003, (the same month George W. Bush stood on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln under a White-House-
prepared "Mission Accomplished" banner and proclaimed "major combat operations" at an end in Iraq), I published a review in the Los Angeles Times of the book that provides the data for the film Charlie Wilson's War. The original edition of the book carried the subtitle, "The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History -- the Arming of the Mujahideen." The 2007 paperbound edition was subtitled, "The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times." Neither the claim that the Afghan operations were covert nor that they changed history is precisely true.
In my review of the book, I wrote,
"The Central Intelligence Agency has an almost unblemished record of screwing up every 'secret' armed intervention it ever undertook. From the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953 through the rape of Guatemala in 1954, the Bay of Pigs, the failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba and Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, the 'secret war' in Laos, aid to the Greek Colonels who seized power in 1967, the 1973 killing of President Allende in Chile, and Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra war against Nicaragua, there is not a single instance in which the Agency's activities did not prove acutely embarrassing to the United States and devastating to the people being 'liberated.' The CIA continues to get away with this bungling primarily because its budget and operations have always been secret and Congress is normally too indifferent to its Constitutional functions to rein in a rogue bureaucracy. Therefore the tale of a purported CIA success story should be of some interest.
"According to the author of Charlie Wilson's War, the exception to CIA incompetence was the arming between 1979 and 1988 of thousands of Afghan mujahideen ("freedom fighters"). The Agency flooded Afghanistan with an incredible array of extremely dangerous weapons and 'unapologetically mov[ed] to equip and train cadres of high tech holy warriors in the art of waging a war of urban terror against a modern superpower [in this case, the USSR].'
"The author of this glowing account, [the late] George Crile, was a veteran producer for the CBS television news show '60 Minutes' and an exuberant Tom Clancy-type enthusiast for the Afghan caper. He argues that the U.S.'s clandestine involvement in Afghanistan was 'the largest and most successful CIA operation in history,' 'the one morally unambiguous crusade of our time,' and that 'there was nothing so romantic and exciting as this war against the Evil Empire.' Crile's sole measure of success is killed Soviet soldiers (about 15,000), which undermined Soviet morale and contributed to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the period 1989 to 1991. That's the successful part.
"However, he never once mentions that the 'tens of thousands of fanatical Muslim fundamentalists' the CIA armed are the same people who in 1996 killed nineteen American airmen at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, blew a hole in the side of the U.S.S. Cole in Aden Harbor in 2000, and on September 11, 2001, flew hijacked airliners into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon."
Where Did the "Freedom Fighters" Go?
When I wrote those words I did not know (and could not have imagined) that the actor Tom Hanks had already purchased the rights to the book to make into a film in which he would star as Charlie Wilson, with Julia Roberts as his right-wing Texas girlfriend Joanne Herring, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gust Avrakotos, the thuggish CIA operative who helped pull off this caper.
What to make of the film (which I found rather boring and old-fashioned)
? It makes the U.S. government look like it is populated by a bunch of whoring, drunken sleazebags, so in that sense it's accurate enough. But there are a number of things both the book and the film are suppressing. As I noted in 2003,
"For the CIA legally to carry out a covert action, the president must sign off on -- that is, authorize -- a document called a 'finding.' Crile repeatedly says that President Carter signed such a finding ordering the CIA to provide covert backing to the mujahideen after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. The truth of the matter is that Carter signed the finding on July 3, 1979, six months before the Soviet invasion, and he did so on the advice of his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in order to try to provoke a Russian incursion. Brzezinski has confirmed this sequence of events in an interview with a French newspaper, and former CIA Director [today Secretary of Defense] Robert Gates says so explicitly in his 1996 memoirs. It may surprise Charlie Wilson to learn that his heroic mujahideen were manipulated by Washington like so much cannon fodder in order to give the USSR its own Vietnam. The mujahideen did the job but as subsequent events have made clear, they may not be all that grateful to the United States."
In the bound galleys of Crile's book, which his publisher sent to reviewers before publication, there was no mention of any qualifications to his portrait of Wilson as a hero and a patriot. Only in an "epilogue" added to the printed book did Crile quote Wilson as saying, "These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world. And the people who deserved the credit are the ones who made the sacrifice. And then we fucked up the endgame." That's it. Full stop. Director Mike Nichols, too, ends his movie with Wilson's final sentence emblazoned across the screen. And then the credits roll.
Neither a reader of Crile, nor a viewer of the film based on his book would know that, in talking about the Afghan freedom fighters of the 1980s, we are also talking about the militants of al Qaeda and the Taliban of the 1990s and 2000s. Amid all the hoopla about Wilson's going out of channels to engineer secret appropriations of millions of dollars to the guerrillas, the reader or viewer would never suspect that, when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, President George H.W. Bush promptly lost interest in the place and simply walked away, leaving it to descend into one of the most horrific civil wars of modern times.
Among those supporting the Afghans (in addition to the U.S.) was the rich, pious Saudi Arabian economist and civil engineer, Osama bin Laden, whom we helped by building up his al Qaeda base at Khost. When bin Laden and his colleagues decided to get even with us for having been used, he had the support of much of the Islamic world. This disaster was brought about by Wilson's and the CIA's incompetence as well as their subversion of all the normal channels of political oversight and democratic accountability within the U.S. government. Charlie Wilson's war thus turned out to have been just another bloody skirmish in the expansion and consolidation of the American empire -- and an imperial presidency. The victors were the military-industrial complex and our massive standing armies. The billion dollars' worth of weapons Wilson secretly supplied to the guerrillas ended up being turned on ourselves.
An Imperialist Comedy
Which brings us back to the movie and its reception here. (It has been banned in Afghanistan.
) One of the severe side effects of imperialism in its advanced stages seems to be that it rots the brains of the imperialists. They start believing that they are the bearers of civilization, the bringers of light to "primitives" and "savages" (largely so identified because of their resistance to being "liberated" by us), the carriers of science and modernity to backward peoples, beacons and guides for citizens of the "underdeveloped world."
Such attitudes are normally accompanied by a racist ideology that proclaims the intrinsic superiority and right to rule of "white" Caucasians. Innumerable European colonialists saw the hand of God in Darwin's discovery of evolution, so long as it was understood that He had programmed the outcome of evolution in favor of late Victorian Englishmen. (For an excellent short book on this subject, check out Sven Lindquist's "Exterminate All the Brutes.")
When imperialist activities produce unmentionable outcomes, such as those well known to anyone paying attention to Afghanistan since about 1990, then ideological thinking kicks in. The horror story is suppressed, or reinterpreted as something benign or ridiculous (a "comedy"), or simply curtailed before the denouement becomes obvious. Thus, for example, Melissa Roddy, a Los Angeles film-maker with inside information from the Charlie Wilson production team, notes that the film's happy ending came about because Tom Hanks, a co-producer as well as the leading actor, "just can't deal with this 9/11 thing."
Similarly, we are told by another insider reviewer, James Rocchi, that the scenario, as originally written by Aaron Sorkin of "West Wing" fame, included the following line for Avrakotos: "Remember I said this: There's going to be a day when we're gonna look back and say 'I'd give anything if [Afghanistan] were overrun with Godless communists'.
" This line is nowhere to be found in the final film.
Today there is ample evidence that, when it comes to the freedom of women, education levels, governmental services, relations among different ethnic groups, and quality of life -- all were infinitely better under the Afghan communists than under the Taliban or the present government of President Hamid Karzai, which evidently controls little beyond the country's capital, Kabul. But Americans don't want to know that -- and certainly they get no indication of it from Charlie Wilson's War, either the book or the film.
The tendency of imperialism to rot the brains of imperialists is particularly on display in the recent spate of articles and reviews in mainstream American newspapers about the film. For reasons not entirely clear, an overwhelming majority of reviewers concluded that Charlie Wilson's War is a "feel-good comedy" (Lou Lumenick in the New York Post), a "high-living, hard-partying jihad" (A.O. Scott in the New York Times), "a sharp-edged, wickedly funny comedy" (Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times). Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post wrote of "Mike Nichols's laff-a-minute chronicle of the congressman'
s crusade to ram funding through the House Appropriations Committee to supply arms to the Afghan mujahideen"; while, in a piece entitled "Sex! Drugs! (and Maybe a Little War)," Richard L. Berke in the New York Times offered this stamp of approval: "You can make a movie that is relevant and intelligent -- and palatable to a mass audience -- if its political pills are sugar-coated. "
When I saw the film, there was only a guffaw or two from the audience over the raunchy sex and sexism of "good-time Charlie," but certainly no laff-a-minute. The root of this approach to the film probably lies with Tom Hanks himself, who, according to Berke, called it "a serious comedy." A few reviews qualified their endorsement of Charlie Wilson's War, but still came down on the side of good old American fun. Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mail, for instance, thought that it was "best to enjoy Charlie Wilson's War as a thoroughly engaging comedy. Just don't think about it too much or you may choke on your popcorn." Peter Rainer noted in the Christian Science Monitor that the "Comedic Charlie Wilson's War has a tragic punch line." These reviewers were thundering along with the herd while still trying to maintain a bit of self-respect.
The handful of truly critical reviews have come mostly from blogs and little-known Hollywood fanzines -- with one major exception, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times. In an essay subtitled "'Charlie Wilson's War' celebrates events that came back to haunt Americans," Turan called the film "an unintentionally sobering narrative of American shouldn't-have" and added that it was "glib rather than witty, one of those films that comes off as being more pleased with itself than it has a right to be."
My own view is that if Charlie Wilson's War is a comedy, it's the kind that goes over well with a roomful of louts in a college fraternity house. Simply put, it is imperialist propaganda and the tragedy is that four-and-a-half years after we invaded Iraq and destroyed it, such dangerously misleading nonsense is still being offered to a gullible public. The most accurate review so far is James Rocchi's summing-up for Cinematical: "Charlie Wilson's War isn't just bad history; it feels even more malign, like a conscious attempt to induce amnesia."
" ... UPDATE: I have made some changes to the list. I have removed Lantos, despite what I have heard being confirmed by Sibel's gallery of people. I have added Kissinger too.
I have also added some extra points of information for some of the players some of the players (I will fill out the rest as time permits). And, I have added some names to the "phrases group."
Richard Perle: Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, under Bush. Member of JINSA, WINEP, PNAC, Co-Chair and Director of Hollinger (think Conrad Black). See also Hutchison Whampoa. See also Trireme Partners LLP.
Doug Feith: Defense Undersecretary of Defense for Policy during the Bush administration's first term. Lost his security clearances in 1982 for allegations of passing classified NSC documents to the Israeli embassy. Headed the Office of Special Plans (OSP) to cook up intel for the Iraq war. Founded Feith & Zell law firm, major client Northrup Grumman. Also started a lobbying company, International Advisors, Inc., major client, Turkey. Perle joined him in this venture.
Henry Kissinger (He is not shown in Sibel's gallery, but I believe him to be on of the MIA photos)
And a few phrases for you folks to play around with (in no particular order):
Shanghai Cooperation Organization
American Turkish Council
WINEP ... "
I have tried getting someone in broadcast and print media to run this story. My sources did not include Edmonds, but because of the sensitive nature of the information, I was concerned that she would go to jail anyway, unless I proved she was not a source - which would require me to reveal my sources.
I thought if I approached a big enough news outlet, the pressure generated by the public response would spare Edmonds jail time and I would not be pressured to reveal sources - something I would not have done anyway. Even a former high ranking CIA officer offered to byline the article with me if that would help sell a broadcaster/publication on running the story. No one was interested.
That the Times ran these allegations (she is under a state secrets gag folks, so it is not like she is gagged for lying) is encouraging. But that they omitted all names from the allegations is unethical. The point of a free press is not to protect the powerful against the weak, but to protect the public from the powerful. The Times was willing to stick a toe in, but was not willing to risk upsetting a foreign government (This is, after all, a British paper).
There are more names, including members of Congress and people serving in the FBI. This is what happens when basic government services as well as the most sensitive government functions are outsourced to the global marketplace.
Or did anyone think that a company like Northrop Grumman takes an oath to protect states secrets from other, higher paying, clients? What about Lockheed Martin? How about Halliburton? If these companies are only concerned about the bottom line, then what stops them from doing business and selling secrets if these activities would benefit their bottom line? By the way, I am not alleging that Lockheed Martin or Halliburton have engaged in such things. I am simply using those two companies as an example.
Now consider this corporate-government model and the revolving door between corporations and Government. Consider too that companies (small and large) make donations to a particular candidate's election coffers. Can you now start to understand the scope of the damage possible, and likely, done? ... "
6 Jan 2008
The Sunday Times
A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear weapons secrets.
Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency’s Washington field office.
She approached The Sunday Times last month after reading about an Al-Qaeda terrorist who had revealed his role in training some of the 9/11 hijackers while he was in Turkey.
Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.
Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan.
The name of the official – who has held a series of top government posts – is known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims.
However, Edmonds said: “He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives.”
She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials – including household names – who were aiding foreign agents.
“If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials,” she said.
Her story shows just how much the West was infiltrated by foreign states seeking nuclear secrets. It illustrates how western government officials turned a blind eye to, or were even helping, countries such as Pakistan acquire bomb technology.
The wider nuclear network has been monitored for many years by a joint Anglo-American intelligence effort. But rather than shut it down, investigations by law enforcement bodies such as the FBI and Britain’s Revenue & Customs have been aborted to preserve diplomatic relations.
Edmonds, a fluent speaker of Turkish and Farsi, was recruited by the FBI in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Her previous claims about incompetence inside the FBI have been well documented in America.
She has given evidence to closed sessions of Congress and the 9/11 commission, but many of the key points of her testimony have remained secret. She has now decided to divulge some of that information after becoming disillusioned with the US authorities’ failure to act.
One of Edmonds’s main roles in the FBI was to translate thousands of hours of conversations by Turkish diplomatic and political targets that had been covertly recorded by the agency.
A backlog of tapes had built up, dating back to 1997, which were needed for an FBI investigation into links between the Turks and Pakistani, Israeli and US targets. Before she left the FBI in 2002 she heard evidence that pointed to money laundering, drug imports and attempts to acquire nuclear and conventional weapons technology.
“What I found was damning,” she said. “While the FBI was investigating, several arms of the government were shielding what was going on.”
The Turks and Israelis had planted “moles” in military and academic institutions which handled nuclear technology. Edmonds says there were several transactions of nuclear material every month, with the Pakistanis being among the eventual buyers. “The network appeared to be obtaining information from every nuclear agency in the United States,” she said.
They were helped, she says, by the high-ranking State Department official who provided some of their moles – mainly PhD students – with security clearance to work in sensitive nuclear research facilities. These included the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico, which is responsible for the security of the US nuclear deterrent.
In one conversation Edmonds heard the official arranging to pick up a $15,000 cash bribe. The package was to be dropped off at an agreed location by someone in the Turkish diplomatic community who was working for the network.
The Turks, she says, often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, because they were less likely to attract suspicion. Venues such as the American Turkish Council in Washington were used to drop off the cash, which was picked up by the official.
Edmonds said: “I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of 2½ years. There are almost certainly more.”
The Pakistani operation was led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chief.
Intercepted communications showed Ahmad and his colleagues stationed in Washington were in constant contact with attachés in the Turkish embassy.
Intelligence analysts say that members of the ISI were close to Al-Qaeda before and after 9/11. Indeed, Ahmad was accused of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks.
The results of the espionage were almost certainly passed to Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist.
Khan was close to Ahmad and the ISI. While running Pakistan’s nuclear programme, he became a millionaire by selling atomic secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea. He also used a network of companies in America and Britain to obtain components for a nuclear programme.
Khan caused an alert among western intelligence agencies when his aides met Osama Bin Laden. “We were aware of contact between A Q Khan’s people and Al-Qaeda,” a former CIA officer said last week. “There was absolute panic when we initially discovered this, but it kind of panned out in the end.”
It is likely that the nuclear secrets stolen from the United States would have been sold to a number of rogue states by Khan.
Edmonds was later to see the scope of the Pakistani connections when it was revealed that one of her fellow translators at the FBI was the daughter of a Pakistani embassy official who worked for Ahmad. The translator was given top secret clearance despite protests from FBI investigators.
Edmonds says packages containing nuclear secrets were delivered by Turkish operatives, using their cover as members of the diplomatic and military community, to contacts at the Pakistani embassy in Washington.
Following 9/11, a number of the foreign operatives were taken in for questioning by the FBI on suspicion that they knew about or somehow aided the attacks.
Edmonds said the State Department official once again proved useful. “A primary target would call the official and point to names on the list and say, ‘We need to get them out of the US because we can’t afford for them to spill the beans’,” she said. “The official said that he would ‘take care of it’.”
The four suspects on the list were released from interrogation and extradited.
Edmonds also claims that a number of senior officials in the Pentagon had helped Israeli and Turkish agents.
“The people provided lists of potential moles from Pentagon-related institutions who had access to databases concerning this information,” she said.
“The handlers, who were part of the diplomatic community, would then try to recruit those people to become moles for the network. The lists contained all their ‘hooking points’, which could be financial or sexual pressure points, their exact job in the Pentagon and what stuff they had access to.”
One of the Pentagon figures under investigation was Lawrence Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst, who was jailed in 2006 for passing US defence information to lobbyists and sharing classified information with an Israeli diplomat.
“He was one of the top people providing information and packages during 2000 and 2001,” she said.
Once acquired, the nuclear secrets could have gone anywhere. The FBI monitored Turkish diplomats who were selling copies of the information to the highest bidder.
Edmonds said: “Certain greedy Turkish operators would make copies of the material and look around for buyers. They had agents who would find potential buyers.”
In summer 2000, Edmonds says the FBI monitored one of the agents as he met two Saudi Arabian businessmen in Detroit to sell nuclear information that had been stolen from an air force base in Alabama. She overheard the agent saying: “We have a package and we’re going to sell it for $250,000.”
Edmonds’s employment with the FBI lasted for just six months. In March 2002 she was dismissed after accusing a colleague of covering up illicit activity involving Turkish nationals.
She has always claimed that she was victimised for being outspoken and was vindicated by an Office of the Inspector General review of her case three years later. It found that one of the contributory reasons for her sacking was that she had made valid complaints.
The US attorney-general has imposed a state secrets privilege order on her, which prevents her revealing more details of the FBI’s methods and current investigations.
Her allegations were heard in a closed session of Congress, but no action has been taken and she continues to campaign for a public hearing.
She was able to discuss the case with The Sunday Times because, by the end of January 2002, the justice department had shut down the programme.
The senior official in the State Department no longer works there. Last week he denied all of Edmonds’s allegations: “If you are calling me to say somebody said that I took money, that’s outrageous . . . I do not have anything to say about such stupid ridiculous things as this.”
In researching this article, The Sunday Times has talked to two FBI officers (one serving, one former) and two former CIA sources who worked on nuclear proliferation. While none was aware of specific allegations against officials she names, they did provide overlapping corroboration of Edmonds’s story.
One of the CIA sources confirmed that the Turks had acquired nuclear secrets from the United States and shared the information with Pakistan and Israel. “We have no indication that Turkey has its own nuclear ambitions. But the Turks are traders. To my knowledge they became big players in the late 1990s,” the source said.
How Pakistan got the bomb, then sold it to the highest bidders
1965 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s foreign minister, says: “If India builds the bomb we will eat grass . . . but we will get one of our own”
1974 Nuclear programme becomes increased priority as India tests a nuclear device
1976 Abdul Qadeer Khan, a scientist, steals secrets from Dutch uranium plant. Made head of his nation’s nuclear programme by Bhutto, now prime minister
1976 onwards Clandestine network established to obtain materials and technology for uranium enrichment from the West
1985 Pakistan produces weapons-grade uranium for the first time
1989-91 Khan’s network sells Iran nuclear weapons information and technology
1991-97 Khan sells weapons technology to North Korea and Libya
1998 India tests nuclear bomb and Pakistan follows with a series of nuclear tests. Khan says: “I never had any doubts I was building a bomb. We had to do it”
2001 CIA chief George Tenet gathers officials for crisis summit on the proliferation of nuclear technology from Pakistan to other countries
2001 Weeks before 9/11, Khan’s aides meet Osama Bin Laden to discuss an Al-Qaeda nuclear device
2001 After 9/11 proliferation crisis becomes secondary as Pakistan is seen as important ally in war on terror
2003 Libya abandons nuclear weapons programme and admits acquiring components through Pakistani nuclear scientists
2004 Khan placed under house arrest and confesses to supplying Iran, Libya and North Korea with weapons technology. He is pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf
2006 North Korea tests a nuclear bomb
2007 Renewed fears that bomb may fall into hands of Islamic extremists as killing of Benazir Bhutto throws country into turmoil
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