Archive for the ‘Michael Scheuer’ Category

Media Kiss Brass as America’s Enemies Grow Stronger – GOPUSA

With massive leaks of classified information, some of them stemming from undiscovered moles in the intelligence community, the media continue treating former officials of the CIA and NSA who have presided over this debacle with honor and respect.

The Business Insider article, 7 things the CIA looks for when recruiting people, is one of the worst examples of this obsequiousness. It is a plug for a book by former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. Hayden was once photographed with former CIA/NSA analyst Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow after disclosing classified information that helped our enemies. Snowden posted the photograph on his Twitter page.

Hayden cant be personally faulted for Snowdens betrayal, but the series of leaks from the intelligence community certainly has cast doubt over hiring practices within the CIA and the NSA. Ironically, this is the subject that Business Insider wanted to know more about. In a video interview with the publication, Hayden explains what the Central Intelligence Agency looks for in a candidate. He listed the following characteristics as being attractive in a candidate: a second language, life experience, success, foreign travel and living in a foreign country.

He failed to mention love of country and living a moral lifestyle. He did say that the CIA goes to college fairs looking for candidates, and We go to Arab-American week up in Dearborn, Michigan. He explained, Have a big tent up there where we talk to Americans of Arab descent. We recruit just like any other enterprise.

The recruitment of Muslims during an age of terror involving radical Islamic terrorism is obviously problematic. But the idea of recruiting college students is also questionable. I asked former CIA intelligence officer Michael Scheuer who was behind the most recent leak of classified information from the CIA and he suggested it might be a product of our rotten educational system that offers nothing in civic education or loyalty to the country.

Scheuer, who ran the Osama bin Laden unit and retired in 2004 after a 22-year career, told me in an interview that when he joined the agency he was interrogated over potential background problems such as homosexuality and narcotics. By contrast, Obamas CIA director John Brennan said he joined the agency after voting for the Communist Party USA ticket and got accepted anyway. Under Brennan, Scheuer noted, the CIA held a month-long celebration of LGBT nonsense. He added, Theyve staffed the whole agency with it. The Obama administration definitely salted our security services and military services with people who felt like the Democrats are their protectors. The implication is that these people may be behind the anti-Trump leaks coming out of the intelligence community.

The intelligence community is spared serious scrutiny for the obvious reason that journalists depend on their anonymous sources for news, leads and tips. In this case, the name of the game is taking down Donald Trump. But they could take America down with him.

Hayden wrote his own anti-Trump piece, Donald Trump Is Undermining Intelligence Gathering, for the March 9, 2017 New York Times. Interestingly, his book thanks Vernon Loeb, formerly of The Washington Post, for proposing that Hayden write his book. Loeb was supposed to be his collaborator but took a job with the Houston Chronicle instead. Loeb had covered the CIA and the Pentagon for the Post before becoming its metro editor.

With people like Hayden so clueless about the failures of U.S. intelligence in the age of terror, we have to wonder if the Trump administration will seek major changes and budget cuts in the intelligence community, which spends $50 billion a year.

Since President Trump first expressed reservations about the work of the intelligence community, the problems have only gotten worse. Scheuer told me that the recent CIA leak gives terrorists the ability to evade hacking tools that were used on their methods of communication.

But rather than examine the hiring practices at the CIA and other agencies, the House and Senate intelligence committees are mostly looking at allegations launched by anonymous sources from within the intelligence community against Trump and his Russian connections. These leaks appear to be the fulfillment of what Scheuer alluded tothe revenge of the Democratic staffers and sexual minorities put in place by the Obama administration. They have taken the offensive against Trump in order to protect their privileged positions.

Going beyond this dreadful possibility, the leaks could be a way to divert attention away from moles for Russia or China in the CIA and other agencies. This would be a classic case of communist-style disinformation.

Meanwhile, we can expect more damaging leaks, leading to possible terrorist attacks or blindness regarding the nuclear capabilities or intentions of countries like North Korea and Iran.

If this traitorous conduct within the intelligence community continues, and Congress spends its time on other matters, the only alternative Trump might have is to drastically cut the intelligence communitys $50 billion budget. Perhaps that would get their attention.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.

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Media Kiss Brass as America’s Enemies Grow Stronger – GOPUSA

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March 17, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Media Kiss Brass as America’s Enemies Grow Stronger – Accuracy In Media

With massive leaks of classified information, some of them stemming from undiscovered moles in the intelligence community, the media continue treating former officials of the CIA and NSA who have presided over this debacle with honor and respect.

The Business Insider article, 7 things the CIA looks for when recruiting people, is one of the worst examples of this obsequiousness. It is a plug for a book by former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. Hayden was once photographed with former CIA/NSA analyst Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow after disclosing classified information that helped our enemies. Snowden posted the photograph on his Twitter page.

Hayden cant be personally faulted for Snowdens betrayal, but the series of leaks from the intelligence community certainly has cast doubt over hiring practices within the CIA and the NSA. Ironically, this is the subject that Business Insider wanted to know more about. In a video interview with the publication, Hayden explains what the Central Intelligence Agency looks for in a candidate. He listed the following characteristics as being attractive in a candidate: a second language, life experience, success, foreign travel and living in a foreign country.

He failed to mention love of country and living a moral lifestyle. He did say that the CIA goes to college fairs looking for candidates, and We go to Arab-American week up in Dearborn, Michigan. He explained, Have a big tent up there where we talk to Americans of Arab descent. We recruit just like any other enterprise.

The recruitment of Muslims during an age of terror involving radical Islamic terrorism is obviously problematic. But the idea of recruiting college students is also questionable. I asked former CIA intelligence officer Michael Scheuer who was behind the most recent leak of classified information from the CIA and he suggested it might be a product of our rotten educational system that offers nothing in civic education or loyalty to the country.

Scheuer, who ran the Osama bin Laden unit and retired in 2004 after a 22-year career, told me in an interview that when he joined the agency he was interrogated over potential background problems such as homosexuality and narcotics. By contrast, Obamas CIA director John Brennan said he joined the agency after voting for the Communist Party USA ticket and got accepted anyway. Under Brennan, Scheuer noted, the CIA held a month-long celebration of LGBT nonsense. He added, Theyve staffed the whole agency with it. The Obama administration definitely salted our security services and military services with people who felt like the Democrats are their protectors. The implication is that these people may be behind the anti-Trump leaks coming out of the intelligence community.

The intelligence community is spared serious scrutiny for the obvious reason that journalists depend on their anonymous sources for news, leads and tips. In this case, the name of the game is taking down Donald Trump. But they could take America down with him.

Hayden wrote his own anti-Trump piece, Donald Trump Is Undermining Intelligence Gathering, for the March 9, 2017 New York Times. Interestingly, his book thanks Vernon Loeb, formerly of The Washington Post, for proposing that Hayden write his book. Loeb was supposed to be his collaborator but took a job with the Houston Chronicle instead. Loeb had covered the CIA and the Pentagon for the Post before becoming its metro editor.

With people like Hayden so clueless about the failures of U.S. intelligence in the age of terror, we have to wonder if the Trump administration will seek major changes and budget cuts in the intelligence community, which spends $50 billion a year.

Since President Trump first expressed reservations about the work of the intelligence community, the problems have only gotten worse. Scheuer told me that the recent CIA leak gives terrorists the ability to evade hacking tools that were used on their methods of communication.

But rather than examine the hiring practices at the CIA and other agencies, the House and Senate intelligence committees are mostly looking at allegations launched by anonymous sources from within the intelligence community against Trump and his Russian connections. These leaks appear to be the fulfillment of what Scheuer alluded tothe revenge of the Democratic staffers and sexual minorities put in place by the Obama administration. They have taken the offensive against Trump in order to protect their privileged positions.

Going beyond this dreadful possibility, the leaks could be a way to divert attention away from moles for Russia or China in the CIA and other agencies. This would be a classic case of communist-style disinformation.

Meanwhile, we can expect more damaging leaks, leading to possible terrorist attacks or blindness regarding the nuclear capabilities or intentions of countries like North Korea and Iran.

If this traitorous conduct within the intelligence community continues, and Congress spends its time on other matters, the only alternative Trump might have is to drastically cut the intelligence communitys $50 billion budget. Perhaps that would get their attention.

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Media Kiss Brass as America’s Enemies Grow Stronger – Accuracy In Media

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March 15, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

The Bushes: Unfriends – Sri Lanka Guardian

A lesson from two George Bushes: Never give the elite the benefit of the doubt

by Michael Scheuer

And thus the community perpetually retains a supreme power of saving themselves from the attempts and designs of anybody, even of their legislators, whenever they shall be so foolish, or so wicked, as to lay and carry on designs against the liberties and properties of the subject.John Locke, Second Treatise, Chapter 13 (1)

General revolts and rebellions of a whole people never were encouraged now or at any time. They were always provoked.Edmund Burke, 1777 (2)

( March 7, 2017, Boston, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sentiment is human weakness that always is an obstacle to clear thinking, or at least it always is in my case. I have always given George H.W. Bush and and George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt because I thought both were patriots and decent men. The former flew more than 50 combat missions during World War II, and the latter seemed sadly trapped in, and manipulated by, a nest of Neoconservative and Israel-First cretins. Since early in 2016, however, I have come to see how stupid and blinding it is to let sentiment hide the clearly visible truth that the Bushes are not Americas friends.

The elder Bush was a disaster for America, his only accomplishment being that he kept the White House from the Democrats for a 4-year term. He is the author and first implementer of the totalitarian idea of a New World Order, which began what is now nearly 30 years of constant war for the United States. He laid the ground work for the current confrontation with Russia by greatly expanding NATO and unleashing Western greed to suck anything economically worth having out of the former USSR; he added countries to NATO that are irrelevant to U.S. security but sit right on Russias border; he squandered most of what President Reagan had accomplished; he fought an unnecessary, half-fought, unwon, and Islamist-benefiting war against Iraq; and he ran a reelection campaign against the whore-loving buffoon Bill Clinton that looked like it should have been in one of the lesser Marx Brothers movies. Finally, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Bush refused to endorse Trump, and his closest confidants suggested he preferred Hillary Clinton. Revalidating the McCain Rule that great physical courage does not connote even moderate brainpower or commonsense, it was all downhill for George H.W. Bush after the second Great War ended. Sadly, that decline ended up by delivering the United States to the malevolent hands and minds of Clinton and Obama, as well as to those of his son.

George W. Bush outdid his Dad in terms of negative accomplishments, his only accomplishment being that he kept the White House from the Democrats for eight years, and even that success was minimal as his performance allowed the presidency of the execrable Obama. The younger Bush picked up his fathers interventionist mantle and waged a effeminate war against al-Qaeda, a genuine enemy of the United States, and a half-witted, small-footprint, losing, and utterly unnecessary war in Iraq, a war whose negative impact on U.S. interests has yet to be fully seen. Then, after his silence during Obamas eight years of military and cultural interventionism, pathological lying and racism, and Constitution-shredding, he joins his Dad, and his clueless yet extraordinarily arrogant bother Jeb, to publicly and clandestinely oppose Trump as Republican presidential contender, Republican candidate, president-elect, and president. Most recently, George W. Bush has been out hawking a book of his paintings and hobnobbing with Michelle Obama and other such mindless, virago-like Democratic women and celebrities, and mindlessly basking in the praise of these racist and authoritarian Amazons who would gladly spit on his grave.

As if this long record of Bush anti-Americanism was not enough, George W. Bush this week took the time to instruct President Trump to avoid adopting an isolationist tendency because it would be dangerous to national security. By avoiding unnecessary interventions and wars and minding its own business, Bush said, the United States creates a vacuum that is generally filled with people who dont share the ideology, the same sense of human rights and human dignity and freedom that we do. (3)

Well, God bless George the Younger. In his reliably bumbling way, he has allowed Americans to see in the 30 words quoted above that the intent of post-1945 U.S. foreign policy has not been to defend them and their republic but to use the taxes and children of American workers to endlessly intervene abroad to rid the world of people and governments that dont share our ideology and who do not have the same sense [of] freedom we do. Bush is not referring here to the ideology and sense of freedom possessed by Americans, but rather to those that the internationalist/globalist/interventionist elites, like the Bushes, Clintons, Obamas, most European leaders, Bill Gates, George Soros, and untold numbers of other rich and highly educated people, want to impose on all peoples including Americans so they can rule people as they see fit and without the possibility popular resistance.

Coincidentally, as this piece was being completed, the younger Bushs war buddy, Tony Blair, published a piece in theNew York Timeswhich calls on centrist progressives to hold their ground and defeat the populists and nationalists. Today, the Globalist-shill Blair wrote,

a distinction that often matters more than traditional right and left isopen vs. closed.The open-minded see globalization as an opportunitybut one with challenges that should be mitigated; the closed-minded see the outside world as a threat. This distinction crosses traditional party lines and thus has no organizing base, no natural channel for representation in electoral politics. ..

So this leaves a big space in the center. For the progressive wing of politics, the correct strategy is to make the case for building a new coalition out from the center. To do so, progressives need to acknowledgethe genuine cultural anxieties of those voters who have deserted the cause of social progress: on immigration, the threat of radical Islamism and the difference between being progressive and appearing obsessive on issues like gender identity.

The center needs to develop a new policy agenda that shows people they will get support to help them through the change thats happening around them. At the heart of this has to bean alliance between those driving the technological revolution, in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, and those responsible for public policy in government.At present, there is a chasm of understanding between the two. There will inevitably continue to be a negative impact on jobs from artificial intelligence and big data, but the opportunities to change lives for the better through technology are enormous.

Any new agenda has tofocus on these opportunities for radical change in the way that government and services like health care serve people. This must includehow weeducate, skill and equip our work forces for the future;how we reform tax and welfare systems to encourage more fair distribution of wealth; and how we replenish our nations infrastructures and invest in the communities most harmed by trade and technology. (4)

I added the italics to Blairs words to make the point that the Western and global elites have not a clue about what is going on all around them, and what is increasingly likely to happen to them. For Blair, there is not a mortal divide between those who believe progressive government is the answer, and those who know that progressive government, if fully developed and entrenched, will be the greatest slave master in history. No, Blair sees the divide as being between the open-minded progressives and the close-minded hay seeds who have deserted the cause of social progress and cannot understand that progressives know what is best for them, a prescription that includes unlimited immigration; suppression of religion, nation-states, and nationalism; more intrusive government control of their lives through improved government services; and, naturally, larger taxes and welfare payments to ensure a more fair distribution of wealth, which, as always, means more money given to groups that are generally composed of the scum of the earth and will always vote for those that pledge to keep them forever on the dole.

Throughout history, watching the demise of those who speak about and treat the great mass of people as if they are inferior human beings, and who are then utterly shocked when they find the inferiors bayonets in their bellies, always has been a most enjoyable experience. Blair, the Bushes, the Clintons, the Obamas, the Gates-Soros-Davos billionaires, and the rest of the Globalist clique are blithely and arrogantly striding down a path marked Pointy Ended Road, their trip having been blessed, ironically, by the applause-craving and hell-on-earth-creating Bishop of Rome. They will arrive at that roads dead end, hopefully soon, to find that the great unwashed understand all too well that progressives intend to impose a global tyranny on formerly free peoples, and they will be shocked to find themselves in a fight to their well-merited deaths. No cavalry will come to their aid, of course, because such forces always are composed of the children of the people they mean to rob of their wages and property, and then enslave.

Michael F. Scheuer (born 1952) is a former CIA intelligence officer, American blogger, author, foreign policy critic, and political analyst. He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown Universitys Center for Peace and Security Studies. http://non-intervention.com

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March 7, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

US intel agencies deliberately sank Flynn, don’t care about national security ex-CIA officer – RT

Theres a war in Washington Donald Trump is facing a conflict not just with the media, but also with his own intelligence community. Now that the military lobby is infiltrating positions of power, and as the CIA struggles to get its influence back, what kind of shift are we going to see in the corridors of power? Will the intelligence community keep leaking data, or will they rally behind the new leader? We ask former CIA intelligence officer, former head of the CIAs Bin Laden Unit Michael Scheuer.

Sophie Shevardnadze: Michael Scheuer, veteran CIA officer, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you with us. Sir, American spy agencies are withholding secret information from the president and his administration – and that’s according to sources in Washington cited by The Wall Street Journal. An intelligence official also told the Observer paper that the good stuff is kept from the White House. Are parts of the intelligence community engaged in a battle against the President?

Michael Scheuer: The intelligence community in the U.S. of course, has been completely politicised under two people: first under George Bush by keeping a Democrat named George Tenet in charge of the CIA, and he staffed the agency with pro-Democratic people, and, certainly, Mr. Obama staffed it full of Democratic operatives, people who are indebted to the Democratic party. Immigrants, hispanics, transgender people, homosexuals – people who have more affinity for Democrats than for America or for the Republican party. So, it is a problem, although, I think, probably it’s a bit overblown.

SS: So, you think them being indebted to Bush and Obama because they gave them job at CIA, they would go into a battle against president?

MS: Not so much against Bush, but in favor of George Tenet who is a Democratic party operative. The glow of support for the Democratic party from the people they’ve put in there is very strong one, and the feel for the need their protection from the people who were sent into the agency and into different intelligence community organisations is very strong. But I think that, again, I think it’s overblown, and I think the president will sort it out. He may well have to purge some people of the organisations for being too partisan.

SS: President Trump has accused the FBI and NSA of illegally leaking information to the press, giving out sensitive information like candy – are intelligence agencies deliberately trying to harm Trumps Cabinet?

MS: At least, in the case of General Flynn it seems to be the case, because the only place that information could’ve come from was from NSA collecting or the FBI collecting intelligence. Now, it’s not per se illegal to collect against the American citizen, as long as it’s done passively and what I mean is they were surely collecting against the Russian Ambassador, that’s fair game. But, generally, if they collect what an American is saying, it’s not released and it’s redacted, so, clearly, they meant to do Flynn harm and, unfortunately they did.

SS: The NSA intercepted the calls between Trump officials, then the FBI ordered to collect as much information as possible – according to the New York Times once again. Now are American intelligence agencies just spying on their own administration?

MS: I think, it’s probably a mistake to take anything the NYT says with any bid of faith in what they’re saying. They’re clearly out to destroy this presidency, it’s only a month old, and I think the President can handle the press, simply by going over their head in news conferences and twitter and videos and things like that. The real problem, though, is cleaning out the government of Democratic apparatchiks and people who are more inclined to want to cooperate with the world rather than protecting America first.

SS:Trump is saying that the leakers are going to pay a big price. The Justice Department is already looking into these leaks. Is it possible to identify the leakers in this case – and what happens to them if they are uncovered?

MS: The tenets of the espionage law certainly cover that, as they should’ve covered Mrs. Clinton and hopefully they still will. Can they find them? There’s a good chance they can find them. The problem we usually have is that they don’t prosecute. But if they prosecuted a few people, I think that will persuade others not to do this. Certainly, it’s a crime, certainly it’s a blow against U.S. security. A lot of these people don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between their duty to their country and their duty to their political party.

SS:The New York Times, and the Washington Post, CNN have all reported on Trumps campaign contacts with Russian officials – nevertheless theres been no evidence, like we’ve said so far, so far of the Trump team colluding with Moscow. The FBI has been investigating a scandalous Russia dossier for months but hasnt been able to confirm any of the explosive claims – why does this Russia issue continue to be pedaled, if the allegations are just not adding up?

MS: Russia is a big boogeyman for the U.S., always has been. You have to remember that people who run our foreign policy, the neoconservatives – not only they are extremely pro-Israel to the point where they should be members of Knesset, but they join the Israelis in many ways in their hatred for Russians, and so, it’s just a matter of hate. I think, Mr. Trump won the day already with central part of the United States, where most working people live, when he said “I will try to get along with Russia and Mr. Putin. I see no reason for the first step to be animosity” – which seems to be fairly liberal approach to deal with superpower. I don’t know what more to say than that. Russia, there’s a gene in the American character, because of the Cold War that immediately, it’s hackles up once the word “Russia” is mentioned. If Putin and Trump can smooth things over and work, if not closely, at least..

SS: Yeah, I mean, Obamas CIA Director John Brennan warned Trump against embracing Russia, saying the President does not understand the threat Moscow poses – why is mending ties with Russia considered to be a threat among both the Republican and Democrat establishment?

MS: The Republicans, because they’re run by the neoconservatives and the Israeli first lobby in this country and they will always be excessively pro-Israeli and excessively anti-Russian, that’s no way around that until people like Senator Graham and Senator McCain either pass away or retire. Mr. Brennan, of course, is a Democratic apparatchik, more and more you read that he’s probably in the pay of the Saudis, which would not surprise me… I tend to think that he was just playing politics, there seems to be some kind of a plan to make the operation of the presidency under Mr. Trump impossible, by the Democrats, by the New York Times, by some members of the government, the intelligence community. Mr. Trump has a big hill to climb now.

SS: Trumps top officials arent that much in favour of closer ties between Moscow and Washington – whos going to have the final say in this regard, the president, or his cabinet? What’s your take?

MS: Mr. Trump is going to have the final say, mam. I think, if we’ve heard anything in the past two years is that Mr. Trump has the way – he listens, he talks to very important and very respected, very knowledgeable people, and he makes his own decision. We’ve seen, if he falls out with someone, as in the case of General Flynn, who got fired not for what he did but for trying to cover it up or trying to lie about it – Trump will carry the day. I think, it’s so important for foreigners to realise that the great bulk of the American public, notwithstanding what the New York Post and the Washington Times and CNN and all those other people say, the bulk of the American people actually enjoys seeing a president make a decision, actually, like he has a job to do, and not just pontificate about his own personal ideas.

SS: While its the Russians who are blamed for all US security breaches lately – Ex-Navy officer Hal Martin – the NSA contractor dubbed the second Snowden – has been arrested for major theft of govt data. Martin stole 50 thousand gigabytes of information which he openly stored in his home, he had classified papers lying around in his car.. How did the NSA miss this massive breach, once again?

MS: Well, again, after 911 the intelligence community in the U.S. expanded to the extremely large extent, and they subcontracted vetting processes, clearance processes to companies that actually didn’t do a very good job about it. So, Snowden was able to do what he did, and he got away, he got to Russia and he helped the Russians. He should certainly be brought home and punished for that, but there certainly was the security breakdown on our side, also.

SS: Martin worked for the same NSA contractor Snowden did and obviously the NSA didnt find about the security breach right away – does that mean the government may simply be unaware of other violations in its system?

MS: I think, without a doubt. When you choose not to use your military to win wars that you’re involved in – as was the case in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we didn’t a tenth… the world didn’t see a tenth or a twentieth of American military power applied. The default position is to go to the intelligence agencies to do things that intelligence agencies are not equipped to do, whether it’s military operations or law enforcement operation. The result of that default was to expand the intelligence community and bloat it, and they certainly were not prepared for the security side of that expansion.

SS: In his final days in office Obama has dramatically expanded the reach of American government surveillance – giving 17 agencies the right to spy on citizens. Why did he choose to leave this kind of power to the Trump administration last minute? Do you support the move?

MS: I think he probably realises that because of his 8 years in power, the situation inside the U.S., the law enforcement situation and terrorism situation is out of control, as it is in Europe. He wanted to, I don’t know, wanted to expand these capabilities… but Trump will get blamed for using them. I think you’ve seen that if Trump does something that Obama did, no one knows that Obama did it, like the immigration ban – he followed Obama’s example. So Obama, here, in the U.S., is a useless man who accomplished nothing, and, indeed hurt the U.S., but he’s treated in a some ways as a saint. Mr. Trump is going to have to just man up and shoulder that theme. Again, though, if you don’t win your war with your military, with your conventional forces, you must rely on the intelligence community, and the more the intelligence community is relied on, the more tools it needs, and therefore, this kind of surveillance will become necessary, as someone has to defend the Republic.

SS: As he was taking office there were reports – once again, in the New York Times – that Trump was planning to restructure the intelligence community – because its become too bloated and politicised – does it need this overhaul?

MS: Yes, it does. It is way too big and there’s too few qualified people from the intelligence community of this size in the U.S.. Our education system has so broken down that we don’t train people to love their country anymore, we don’t teach them American history. We teach them not to be the U.S. citizens but citizens of the world, and so, they lack, I think, in many cases a killer instinct which is key in the intelligence work and again, its especially key when your leaders are too cowardly to apply military force against enemies that threaten the country.

SS: Obama has loosened political oversight over the CIA – at the same time, with the government officials expecting the agency to support their political ideas – do you think the agency needs more control from the elected government or can it be trusted to be left alone?

MS: The Agency, mam… one of the biggest things that I have been surprised by, is the idea that Agency is ever left alone. The Agency is palsied by lawyers, you can barely go down the hall to use men’s room without permission from a lawyer. What you need most of all is for people to stop appointing party apparatchicks, like John Brennan, like Mike Morell, like George Tenet, to position where they can create a situation that’s more like a social experiment – how much can we make this agency diverse and multicultural rather than how can we make this Agency an instrument for successfully promoting and supporting American foreign policy.

SS: An example of the way the CIA politicised intelligence is for example the false evidence it presented to launch the Iraq war. If the intelligence is compiled according to policy, and not the other way around, does this mean the White House acts on the intelligence it wants to hear, not on what is actually happening?

MS:To be fair, mam, I think the entire world thought that there were some kind of WMDs in Iraq. The problem I had with the whole process is that most of the information about WMDs in Iraq came from people who wanted to overthrow Saddam but couldn’t do it by themselves. I think the Agency has just come out of working in four different resistance situations – Nicaragua and Namibia, Cambodia and Afghanistan – and the one thing you learn very quickly was unless you could corroborate from other sources what the resistance was telling you, you would end up acting on false information, and I think, that’s largely what’s happened here. The information wasn’t good and George Bush and Dick Cheney were dying to go to war with Iraq, event to extent of ignoring the main enemy, which was then Al-Qaeda and now it’s the Islamic State.

SS:Yeah, but my question is – all of this, does this still mean that the White House acts on the intelligence it wants to hear, not what’s really going on?

MS: I can’t tell you, mam, under Mr. Trump how that will work out, but the one thing I did see, I went to work under Reagan administration, and ended up under Bush’s’ administration, the Junior Bush, the second Bush, and what I saw was the general politicisation of the American foreign policy-making, national security policy, to bend the information to fit the political needs of the President at the time. Not killing Osama Bin Laden, for example, was purely a political decision, so mr. Clinton wouldn’t look bad if it went wrong… I think it’s a process that needs to be undone. I’m not smart enough to know how to do that, but what you’re looking at is not a concern in American foreign policy for the protection of the Republican, but for the protection of the President.

SS: The CIA conducts its own covert military operations, it operates a targeted killing programme – and sometimes its actions overlap with those of the Pentagon. In Syria the different CIA-backed and Pentagon-backed rebels groups ended up fighting each other. Is there a competition between the military and the intelligence – or can the two operate as a united front?

MS: There’s probably some competition to the extent that CIA is doing military activities, that they have been ordered to do, which normally would fall to the military. So, there’s probably, some resentment on part of the military, but the military also, in a lot of cases, doesn’t want to do these things. I doesn’t want to go after people and capture them, it doesn’t want to do the waterboarding, it doesn’t want to do other kinds of activities, that unfortunately, are necessary in this day and age. The other point that I would make is that the American military is an extraordinarily slow and cumbersome organisation. When we had to invade Afghanistan after 9/11 for example, the CIA was on the ground, had built tents, had the coffee warmed, before any military got there.

SS: While the military lobbies for perpetual war, can Trumps ideas of less American involvement and making deals with other powers will outweigh the hawkish opposition?

MS: I certainly hope so, mam. I think, Mr. Trump has a great opportunity to let Mr. Putin, if he’d like to, to have to deal with the Arabs for the next 50 years, I think that would be wonderful thing, for example. Whether he can pull it off or not – I don’t know. The American Congress is really owned, more or less, by the Israelis, less by the Israelis than by Jewish American citizens here in the U.S. They say, you know, “jump”, and the American Congress almost to a person says: “how high?”. That’s a very hard nut to crack. I think Mr. Trump needs to do that, or we will be engaged in endless and ultimately bankrupting wars in the Middle East for no purpose. It does not matter to the U.S. for example, who rules in Kabul. It does matter to Russia, I think, but it doesn’t matter for us.

SS:You believe the conflict in Syria is one that US has no interest in – do you think the new administration will give up its ambitions in the Syrian campaign?

MS: Do I think or do I hope? I certainly hope they do, I certainly think any common sense review of what’s going on in Syria – I think that war is going to be 6 years old next month? The only Americans who have been killed have been people who wanted to be on the ground, messing around on the battlefield, whether they were NGO people or journalists, and a few U.S. soldiers because Obama re-intervened there. It doesn’t matter for us who rules in Damascus or in Baghdad. Let the parts fall where they may. Ultimately, that’s heading towards a Sunni-Shia war which could do nothing but benefit the U.S.

SS: America is conducting anti-terror campaigns in Yemen, in Libya, its aiding troops in Iraq, it’s still present in Afghanistan – you want the US to pull out, end its interventions, but is it that easy? I mean, can the US just leave Afghanistan and have the Taliban take over, doesnt it have a responsibility to stay there now?

MS: No. We have no responsibility for anything. Our responsibility was to destroy the people that attacked us in 9/11 – Osama Bin Laden is dead, Al-Qaeda is at least dormant or semi-dormant for the moment. We always have the power to go back and do it again and do it the right way, which is overwhelming it with an indiscriminate military force. Right now, what we’ve tried to do is impose values, sordid Western values on Afghans, who are Muslims, and sincere Muslims, and want no part of it. It’s a never-ending battle. We could stay there forever and we would never change a thing in Afghanistan. That’s just the beginning of wisdom for one part of the country. I think it would apply to Yemen or any other Muslim country. We have nothing to offer that they want. The only way we can impose it is by a bayonet.

SS: The Washington-Tehran track is heating up right now. Trumps team wants a review of the nuclear deal, its imposing new restrictions, while Tehran is growing more defiant. How far can these tensions spike? Is a US-Iran military conflict now in the cards once again?

MS: It certainly sounds like it does. I hope it isn’t. The Iranians are no threat to the U.S., they are threat to Israel, they are a threat to the Saudis – let the regional powers settle their problem. There’s 1.6 billion Muslims, a small portion of that are Shia – if the Sunnis can’t defend themselves against the enemy that’s infinitesimally smaller than they are, then they deserve to get defeated. But, who cares who rules in Tehran? Even if they have a nuclear weapon, which they will get, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t from their perspective – they are still not going to represent the power that Russia, Great Britain or the U.S. represents. They still get smashed in any attempt to take us on in any meaningful way.

SS: Now, I know that your book, your analysis has been quoted by Bin Laden himself, as well as ISIS – is this strange kind of acknowledgement flatter you or makes you uneasy?

MS: No, it flatters me in a sense that they see American who understands and listens to what they say. Osama Bin Laden would’ve been a great western politician in a sense that he stayed on message. He basically said “we don’t give a damn how you treat your women, what your women wear, whether you drink whiskey, if you vote, if you have freedoms or liberties – we want you to stop intervening in our country”, and that’s what I wrote. I wrote that in 1999, the Agency suppressed it for 2 years, 2,5 years, it was published in 2002, I think. It was right then, it is right now. As long as we intervene, we are the glue that holds together the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the rest of them. I’m not sure they would stop fighting us entirely, but it would be much-much more manageable and also they would turn to their other enemies – the tyrannical Arab states, the Israelis, other people in the region. And it’s better for those people to get killed than for Americans to be attacked and killed.

SS: Alright. Mr. Scheuer, thank you for this wonderful interview, we were talking to Michael Scheuer, veteran CIA officer, who used to head the Agency’s Bin Laden unit, discussing the CIA’s role in the American power balance and its influence on a country’s politics. That’s it for this edition of SophieCo, I will see you next time.

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February 28, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Why Do So Many Americans Fear Muslims? Decades of Denial About America’s Role in the World. – The Intercept

Theres been lotsofattention-grabbing opposition to Trumps Muslim ban executive order, from demonstrations to court orders. But polls make it clearpublic opinion ismuch more mixed.Standard phone polls show small majorities opposed, while web and automated polls find small majorities continue to support it.

What surprises me about the poll results isnt that lots of Americans like the ban but thatso manyAmericans dont. Regular people have lives to lead and cant investigate complicated issues in detail. Instead they usually take their cues from leaders they trust.Andgiven what politicians across the U.S. political spectrum say about terrorism, Trumps executive ordermakes perfect sense. There are literally no national-level Americanpoliticians telling a story that would help ordinary people understand why Trumps goalsare both horrendously counterproductive and morally vile.

Think of it this way:

On February 13, 1991 during the first Gulf War, the U.S. dropped two laser-guided bombs on the Amiriyah public air raid shelter in Baghdad. More than400 Iraqi civilians were incinerated or boiled alive. For years afterward visitors to a memorial there wouldmeet a woman with eight children who had died during the bombing; she was living in the ruined shelter because she could not bear to be anywhere else.

Now, imagine that immediately after the bombing Saddam Hussein had delivered a speech on IraqiTV in which he plaintively asked Why do they hate us? without ever mentioning the fact that Iraq was occupying Kuwait. And even Saddams political opponents would only mumble that this is a complicated issue. And most Iraqis had no idea that their country had invaded Kuwait, and that there were extensive United Nation resolutions and speeches by George H.W. Bush explaining the U.S.-led coalitions rationale for attacking Iraq in response. And that the few Iraqis who suggested there might be some kind of relationshipbetween Husseins invasion of Kuwait and the Amiriyah bombing were shouted down by politicians saying these Iraq-hating radicals obviously believed that Americas slaughter of 400 people wasjustified.

If that had happened, wed immediately recognize that Iraqi political culture was completely insane, and that it would cause them to behave in dangerously nutty ways. But thats exactly what U.S. political culture is like.

Interiors from a building in Amiriya district, a residential area on Baghdads western outskirts, after an Allied bombing on an air raid shelter by US bombers, Gulf War, Feb. 14 1991.

Photo: Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images

In an interviewlast Marchwith Anderson Cooper, Donald Trump tried to puzzle out whats behindthe terrorism directed at the U.S. I think Islam hates us, Trump learnedly opined. Theres a tremendous hatred there, weve got to get to the bottom of it.

In Islam itself? asked Cooper. Trump responded, Youre going to have to figure that out. Youll get another Pulitzer.

During Trumps speech at the CIA right after his inauguration, he expressed the same bewilderment. Radical Islamic terrorism,pondered Trump. This is something nobody can even understand.

John F. Kelly, now Trumps head of the Department of Homeland Security, is similarly perplexed,saying in a 2013 speechthat I dont know why they hate us, and I frankly dont care, but they do hate us and are driven irrationally to our destruction.

Say what you want about the tenets of this worldview, but at least its an internally consistent ethos: Were surrounded by lunatics who want to murder us for reasons that are totally inscrutable to rational people like us but obviously have something to do with them being Muslims.

Meanwhile, in private, the non-crazy members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment arent confusedat all. They understand quite well that Islamist terrorism is almost wholly blowback from the foreign policy theyve designed.

Richard Shultz, a professor at Tufts whose career has long been intertwined with the national security state,has writtenthat A very senior [Special Operations Forces] officer who had served on the Joint Staff in the 1990s told me that more than once he heard terrorist strikes characterized as a small price to pay for being a superpower. That small price, of course, is the deaths of regular Americans, and is apparently well worth it.

The 9/11 Commission reportquietly acknowledged,hundreds of pages in, that Americas policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world. A senior official in the George W. Bush administration later put it more bluntlyto Esquire: That without the post-Gulf War sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden might still be redecorating mosques and boring friends with stories of his mujahideen days in the Khyber Pass.

Intelligence professionals were quite aware that an invasion of Iraq would take the conditions that led to 9/11 and make them far worse. The British Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war published aFebruary, 2003 assessmentby British intelligence of the consequences of an invasion of Iraq, which would occur one month later. The threat from Al Qaida will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq, the UKs Joint Intelligence Committee told Tony Blair, and the worldwide threat from other Islamist terrorist groups and individuals will increase significantly.

The CIA had the same perspective. Michael Scheuer, who for several years ran the section of the Agency that tracked bin Laden,wrote in 2004that U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Ladens only indispensable ally.

For its part, the Defense Departments Science Board concluded in a2004 reportthat Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

A Palestinian woman reacts amid destroyed buildings in the northern district of Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip during a humanitarian truce on July 26, 2014.

Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

When Barack Obamatook office, he had two choices.

First, he could tell the truth: That the U.S. has acted with extraordinary brutality in the Middle East, that this had been the main motivation for most Islamist terrorism against us, and if we continued the same foreign policy Americans would be killed indefinitelyin intermittent attacks. Then we could have had an open, informed debate about whether we like our foreign policy enough to die for it.

Second, Obama could continue trying to run the Middle Eastwithout public input, but in a more rational way than the Bush administration.

Obviously he went with the second choice, which demanded several different forms of political correctness.

Most importantly, Obama pretended that the U.S. has never done anything truly wrong to others, and can enjoy the benefits of power without any costs. This is the most pernicious and common form of political correctness, but is never called that because the most powerful people in America love it.

But Obama also engaged in something more akin to whatsgenerally called political correctness, by contendingthat Islam hasnothingto do with terrorism. But it does just not in the way that Frank Gaffney and Pamela Geller would tell you.

Religion and nationalism have always been similar phenomena, and Islam sometimes functions as a formof nationalism. Andlike all nationalisms, it has a crazy, vicious right wing thats empowered by outside attacks on members of the nation. The right loves to jeer at Obama forcalling Islama religion of peace, and they should not because Islam specifically isnt a religion of peace but because there is really no such thing, just as there is no nationalism of peace. Its true religions and nationalism canbring out the best in people, but they also bring out the worst (sometimes in the same person for the same reasons).

But Obama could never say anything like that, because he knew the U.S. needs the governments of Muslim-majority countrieslike Saudi Arabia and Egypt to keep the rest of the Middle Eastin line.

This amalgam of political correctness made it impossible for the Obama administration ever to tell a story about terrorism that made any sense. For instance, in his2009 speech in Cairo, he declared, It is easier to blame others than to look inward and then went on to demonstrate that truism.

His description of wrongs done by the U.S. was vague to the point of meaninglessness: tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims. Also, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world.

Obama then explained that Violent extremists have exploited these tensions. So 19 people were motivated to fly jetliners into buildings by tensions? If thats the only story that non-Muslim Americans hear, theyllrationally be terrified of Islam.

In 2010, Obamas counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, emitted a similar bland puree of words at a press conference whenquestioned by Helen Thomasabout Umar FaroukAbdulmutallab, the failedunderwear bomber. Their exchange went like this:

THOMAS: And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.

BRENNAN: Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents [They] attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that [theyre] able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.

THOMAS: And youre saying its because of religion?

BRENNAN: Im saying its because of an al Qaeda organization that uses the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.

THOMAS: Why?

BRENNAN: I think this is a, uh, long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.

At his sentencing, Abdulmutallabexplained his motivationin less time than it took Brennan to say there wasntenough time to explain:

[I pledged] to attack the United States in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel and in retaliation of the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Palestine, especially in the blockade of Gaza, and in retaliation for the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond, most of them women, children, and noncombatants.

To be fair, there is one situation in whichAmerican officials have lost the mushmouth and drawn a direct connection between a country killing Mideastern civilians and terrorist retaliation: when that country is Russia. William Burns, formerly Obamas Deputy Secretary of State, recently and accurately proclaimed that Russias bloody role in Syria makes the terrorist threat far worse. John Kirby, an Obama State Department spokesman, warned that Russias brutalization of Syria would lead toattacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.

Russias response to our friendly observation was about the same as ours when Russia told us before the invasion of Iraq that it would cause a wave of terror.

Trump supporters demonstrate against a ruling by a federal judge in Seattle that grants a nationwide temporary restraining order against the presidential order to ban travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, at Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport on February 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

That brings us back to President Trump and his executive order on immigration.

Trumps story about why its necessary is, factually speaking, garbage. But a normal human being can at least understand it and its moral: These incomprehensible foreigners are all potential psychotics, weve got to keep them out. Under these circumstances, who cares that no one from any of these seven countries has killed any Americans yet? Theyre all part of a huge morass of ticking time bombs.

By contrast, the Democratic, liberal perspective laid out by Obama makes no sense at all. Weve never done anything particularly bad in the Middle East, yet some people over there want to come here and kill us because theyve been exploited by violent extremists whove perverted Islam and gotta run, theres no time to explain.

Regular people couldsense that anyone mouthing this kind of gibberishwashiding something, even if they didnt realize that Obama was trying to keep the U.S. empire running rather than concealing his secret faith inIslam.

And because a coherentnarrative always beats the complete absence of astory, no one should be surprised that many Americans find Trumps fantasy of inexplicable Muslim hatredpersuasive. The only way to conclusively beat it will be with a coherent, complicated, true story like this:

America has done hideous things to countries across the Middle Eastfor decades, such as bomb a civilian air raid shelter, burning the silhouette of a mother trying to protect her baby onto its walls. It was inevitable that some people would seek revenge. This doesnt mean that their brutality is justified, any more than the slaughter at Amiriyah was justified by Saddam Husseins invasion of Kuwait. It just means that humans are humans, violence begets violence, and Americans will always be in danger unless we change our foreign policy.

We must welcome immigrantsfrom the Middle Eastboth for moral and pragmatic reasons. Morally, the U.S. invasion of Iraq is what sent the region spiraling into catastrophe; only psychopaths set someones home on fire and then lock them inside. There are already three million Muslim American citizens. If the government keeps bombing the Middle Eastwhile making it clear that it genuinely hates Muslims, thatwill onlyspur to action more troubled weirdos likeOmar Mateen who was born in Queens, a few miles away from Donald Trumps childhood home.

And wed better get started with this story soon, because it may not be true forever. Israel has done an exemplary job turning a solvable, straightforward fight over land into a religious war that may no longer have any solution. Were making similar strides in transforming a conflict that was 90 percent political, where there can be compromise, into a religious conflict where there cant.

This can be seen, on the one hand, in ISIS propaganda. Bin Laden generally just talked about kicking the U.S. out of the Middle East and said thingslike, Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe. The ISIS magazine Dabiq cheerfully tells usthat We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.

On the other hand, Donald Trump is president of the United States and Steve Bannon is his chief strategist. Bannon straightforwardly believes, as he told a conference at the Vatican in 2014, that were in a war of immense proportions thats part of the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam. To win, Bannon says, we must form the church militant an archaic term for the Christian church on earth regarded as engaged in a constant warfare against its enemies, the powers of evil.

So its quite possible ISIS and the Trump administration can successfully collaborate on getting what they both want: a totally unnecessary, civilizational war. To stop them we have to end ourtruckling equivocation about terrorism, and start telling the truth while theres still time.

Top Photo: During a memorial service in Baghdad, Iraqis gather around a bomb hole in the ceiling of the Al-Amariya shelter in 2003, where more than 400 people were killed in a U.S.-led missile attack during the Gulf War. Iraqis opened a new memorial center outside the Al-Amariya shelter to mark the 12 year anniversary of the attack.

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Why Do So Many Americans Fear Muslims? Decades of Denial About America’s Role in the World. – The Intercept

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February 18, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Al-Qaeda Is Already Exploiting Trump’s Hawkish Foreign Policy to Help Recruit – AlterNet

Photo Credit: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula propaganda outlet Al-Malahem

Al-Qaeda’s most extreme branch is using the Trump administration’s bloody first military raid in order to recruit more fighters. The leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is based in Yemen, released an audio recording in which he called President Trump a “fool,” according to the Associated Press.

“The White House’s new fool has received a painful blow at your hands in his first outing on your land,” proclaimed Qassim al-Rimi, the head of the extremist group.

Al-Rimi said the U.S. raid killed 25 people, including 11 women and children. (Media reportsclaim even higher numbers of casualties.) The U.S. government identified a Navy SEAL who lost his life, William Ryan Owens, and al-Rimi claimed more were wounded or killed.

Among the civilian victimswas 8-year-old Nawar al-Awlaki, the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and extremist propagandist with links to al-Qaeda who was killed in an Obama administration drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, who was also a U.S. citizen, was killed in a drone attack two weeks after his father.

The Trump administration’s first raid “caused more anger and hatred toward America,” explained a Yemeni government employee quoted in the Chicago Tribune. “America has no right to carry out any military action in our country,” he added. “This is a serious violation for our country’s sovereignty and is totally unacceptable.”

The attack has fueled anger at the U.S. throughout Yemen, where for nearly two years, the U.S. has supported a destructive Saudi bombing campaign that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people and plunged the poorest country in the Middle East intofamine.

This catastrophic U.S.-backed war has likewise amounted to a shot of adrenaline for AQAP, empowering and enrichening it after a 14-year covert U.S. drone war against the extremist group. The Trump administration, with its extremeanti-Muslim prejudices, has only continued to ramp up military intervention in Yemen, in alliance with Saudi Arabia.

AQAP is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous affiliates of the global Salafi jihadist organization. It claimed credit for the January 2015 attack on the office of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The latest AQAP propaganda audio recording is just one of the many ways in which the U.S.’s so-called war on terror has actually helped strengthen the extremist groups it purports to be fighting. Al-Qaeda has long openly used U.S. military atrocities for recruitment purposes. It taps into widespread anger at bellicose American foreign policy to attract militants to its violent sectarian cause.

In the September 2011 issue of its propaganda magazine Inspire, AQAP acknowledged, “America’s subtle hatred for Islam drastically helps us.” (This is reminiscent of ISIS propaganda in which the genocidal group explicitly says it hopes to destroythe “Grayzone,” or space in which Muslims are accepted in Western societies.)

The Inspire issue marked the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which it described as “the greatest operation in the history of mankind.” AQAPrejoiced at how the multi-trillion-dollar costs of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have exacerbated the government deficit and hurt the American economy. The extremist group also boasted that U.S. wars in the Middle East had essentially played into the hands of al-Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden. Its magazine quoted Michael Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer turned staunch critic of the war on terror, who recalled, “Basically Bin Ladin said jump and Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney said how high?”

Anti-Iranian sentiment and sectarian bigotry against the Shia sect of Islam also pervades AQAP’s propaganda. The Trump administration has ramped up tensionagainst Shia-majority Iran, Sunni extremists’ biggest enemy, and is pushing for war with the major Middle Eastern power.

A hyper-belligerent U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, like that of former President George W. Bush, threatens to further strengthen Salafi jihadist groups in the region. President Trump has made every indication that he will continue down this path.

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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February 15, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Will Latest Foreign Policy Executive Orders Drive the Country to More War? – Tenth Amendment Center

In the wee hours of the morning on Nov 9, 2016, as the returns from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania indicated a Trump victory, a wave of shock crashed over American politics. Then there was a second wave of astonishment in the wake that election night victory: the realization all the power the political left and right spent years ceding to the presidency to shape the American economy, culture, and politics might now turn on them.

One such vested power is the authority to send Americans into war zones.

It has been rumored that President Trump will establish safe zones in Syria; he intimated as much during his campaign. A draft of an executive order establishing safe zones was released a few weeks ago:

Establishment of Safe Zones to Protect Vulnerable Syrian Populations. Pursuant to the cessation of refugee processing for Syrian nationals, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, is directed within 90 days of the date of this order to produce a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third-country resettlement.

Although that provision was removed from the final EO Trump signed relating to refugees, it seems unlikely the idea is dead and it certainly wasnt excluded because the president and his advisors decided it was outside of executive authority.

The fact that such an executive order was even entertained raises two immediate concerns.

First, it creates opportunities for mistakes that only increase the likelihood of war with Syria, the various factions in the region, and other countries that have a stake in Syrias future. Second, that any president can send Americans into a war zone with very little oversight is a terrible indication of how much extra-constitutional power has been ceded to the president.

Safe zones increase the opportunities for mistakes that can lead to larger wars.

Yet, the American officials advocating for safe zones fundamentally misunderstand the nature of Americas problems with Middle Eastern countries. According to Dr. Michael Scheuer an expert on the Middle and the former CIA analyst once responsible for following Osama Bin Laden there are six answers to the question Why do they hate us?

Summarily, the problem is one of regional conflict and American intervention. Safe zones will not deal with the sources of the problem because a lack of safe zones isnt the problem. Setting up safe zones will only perpetuate the violence. What if an American plane or ground troop kills a Syrian civilian or a foreign soldier? It becomes more likely that locals, the Syrian government, or the foreign government will respond by escalating attacks on Americans. This will increase an American willingness to do something, like increasing an American military presence and activities.

An American safe zone in Syria cannot account for the multitude of factors that are leading to violence in Syria.

Stated differently, when all decisions are left up to one person, the likelihood of misdiagnosing the problem and implementing the wrong remedy are increased.

Let us put this scenario into economic terms. If a government raises the minimum wage above the market clearing price, it will, by the laws of economics, lead to unemployment. In response to calls to do something about the unemployment, the government can only raise taxes, borrow money, or print money. Any of these three responses will be ruinous to an economy; people will then call for more government intervention. The government intervention perpetuates more intervention.

The two scenarios above both show the dangers of government intervention. In both cases, the central planners suffer from the Hayekian Knowledge Problem. Very simply, the knowledge problem means that one person or a group of people cannot possibly know all the factors that shape all the interactions in society. Its best to leave the decisions to the individuals or groups who are most familiar with the situation.

Applying this to our question of executive orders and safe zones, the people and government of Syria should be the ones to discover the solution to their problems rather than outsiders imposing artificial boundaries. (NB: the United States government has actually played a role in destabilizing the Syrian government. So, an immediate military extrication from Syria is an important first step).

The second concern is that a president thinks he is empowered to sign such a sweeping executive order because Congress has allowed so much power to be amassed by one office.

Fifteen years after Congress voted to give President Bush an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against those responsible for 9/11, that authority has never been revisited. Presidents Bush, Obama, and now Trump will be using that wide-ranging authority. While a handful of members of Congress made efforts to reexamine the AUMF, there is very little interest in taking a stand. This is rightly a congressional prerogative, but while the Congress dithers the presidential powers and the use of executive orders will grow.

If Congress will not act to defend the constitution then the states must step in. The state legislatures must do so even contrary of the federal governments wishes how else is the Tenth Amendment to be enforced?

P.A. Deacon is a freelance blogger from Washington D.C.

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February 13, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Michael Scheuer – Wikispooks

Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA employee. In his 22-year career, he served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (aka “Alec Station”), from 1996 to 1999, the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorist Center. He then worked again as Special Advisor to the Chief of the bin Laden unit from September 2001 to November 2004.

Scheuer resigned in 2004. He is currently a news analyst for CBS News and a terrorism analyst for the Jamestown Foundation’s online publication Global Terrorism Analysis.[1] He also makes radio and television appearances and teaches a graduate-level course on Al-Qaeda at Georgetown University. He also participates in conferences on terrorism and national security issues, such as the New America Foundation’s December 2004 conference, “Al Qaeda 2.0: Transnational Terrorism After 9/11.” [2]

Scheuer is now known to be the anonymous author of both Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and the earlier anonymous work, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America.[3]

Osama bin Laden stated in his September 7, 2007 message:

His next book, planned for publication in 2008, is Marching Towards Hell: America and Islam After Iraq.

Not much is known about his personal history, though Scheuer was an analyst at the CIA and not a covert field operations officer. During a recent C-SPAN interview, he mentioned that he is a graduate of Canisius College. He also received a Ph.D. in British Empire-U.S.-Canada-U.K. relations from the University of Manitoba.[4]

In the 9/11 Commission Report, Scheuer is featured in Chapter 4, where his name is given only as “Mike”. He is portrayed as being occasionally frustrated with his superiors’ failure to aggressively target bin Laden.

One of the theses of his most recent book, Imperial Hubris, a New York Times bestseller, was that from bin Laden’s perspective, the U.S. was attacked on 9/11 and will continue to be attacked because of a number of grievances against the U.S. and other western countries. These grievances include: U.S. support of Israel and its indifference to the Palestinians, presence of U.S. and western troops on the Arabian Peninsula, occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. and its allies, the U.S. support of countries that oppress Muslims (such as Russia, India and China), U.S. political pressure on Arab states to keep oil prices low and U.S. support for tyrannical governments.

Scheuer describes his thesis this way: “Imperial Hubris is overwhelmingly focused on how the last several American presidents have been very ill-served by the senior leaders of the Intelligence Community. Indeed, I resigned from an Agency I love in order to publicly damn the feckless 9/11 Commission, which failed to find any personal failure or negligence among Intelligence Community leaders even though dozens of serving officers provided the commissioners with clear documentary evidence of that failure.” [6]

In a videotape released around September 7, 2007 apparently by Osama bin Laden, he personally recommended that anyone who wants to understand why the United States is losing the war against him should read Imperial Hubris.

His first book, published under the pseudonym “Anonymous”, is an analysis of the public discourse available on al Qaeda’s ideology and strategy. In it, Scheuer explores the bin Laden phenomenon and its implications for U.S. security. He began the book in 1999 as an unclassified manual for counterterrorism officers. Due to the secrecy agreement he signed as an employee of the CIA, the book is based solely on unclassified intelligence or material available from open sources such as media reports. His main thesis in the work is that the view of bin Laden as a lunatic is a form of “myopia” that limits Western military thinkers’ ability to respond to the bin Laden phenomenon. He writes that “the West’s road to hell lies in approaching the bin Laden problem with the presumption that only the lunatic fringe could oppose what the United States is trying to accomplish through its foreign policy toward the Muslim world. Bin Laden’s philosophy is slowly harnessing the two most powerful motivating forces in contemporary international affairs: religion and nationalism.” (p. 27).

Scheuer describes his thesis: “[T]he crux of my argument is simply that America is in a war with militant Islamists that it cannot avoid; one that it cannot talk or appease its way out of; one in which our irreconcilable Islamist foes will have to be killed, an act which unavoidably will lead to innocent deaths; and one that is motivated in large measure by the impact of U.S. foreign policies in the Islamic world, one of which is unqualified U.S. support for Israel.” [7] The book also documents a number of areas in which Scheuer believed Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein cooperated. [8]

Scheuer participated in the following exchange on the FOX News program The O’Reilly Factor:

From The O’Reilly Factor, 19 January 2006[10]

Michael Scheuer entered into the controversy surrounding the Mearsheimer and Walt paper on the “Israel Lobby”. He said to NPR that Mearsheimer and Walt are basically right. Israel, according to Scheuer, has engaged in one of the most successful campaigns to influence public opinion in the United States ever conducted by a foreign government. Scheuer said to NPR that “They [Mearsheimer and Walt] should be credited for the courage they have had to actually present a paper on the subject. I hope they move on and do the Saudi lobby, which is probably more dangerous to the United States than the Israeli lobby.”[5]

In February, 2005, Scheuer gave an interview in which he discussed, among other things, Israeli lobbying in the United States.[6] In the interview, the following exchange took place:

In the Republican Presidential Debate on May 15, 2007, presidential candidate Ron Paul stated that American foreign policy was a “contributing factor” in anti-Americanism in the Middle East. Rudy Giuliani denounced this as “absurd” and that he’d never heard such a thing before. In an interview on May 18, Michael Scheuer defended Paul, stating: “I thought Mr. Paul captured it the other night exactly correctly. This war is dangerous to America because it’s based, not on gender equality, as Mr. Giuliani suggested, or any other kind of freedom, but simply because of what we do in the Islamic World because “we’re over there,” basically, as Mr. Paul said in the debate.”[9]

On May 24, 2007, Ron Paul and Scheuer held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. about the causes that led up to 9/11, American foreign policy and its implications on terrorism, security and Iraq.[10] Paul and Scheuer argued that Rudy Giuliani is wrong on security and foreign policy and provided documentation about the unintended consequences of interventionism – known to many in the intelligence world as blowback – and assigned Giuliani a reading list of foreign policy books, including Dying to Win, Blowback, Imperial Hubris and the 9/11 Commission Report.[11]

On Larry King Live, September 7, 2007, Scheuer alluded to the Fox News Republican Debate of Sept 5, 2007, where a Fox News moderator accused Ron Paul of taking “marching orders” from Al Qaeda. Scheuer said, “The truth of the matter is that it is all of the Democrats and the Republicans, except perhaps for Mr. Paul and Mr. Kucinich, who are marching to Osama Bin Laden’s drum.” Larry King Live

Thomas Joscelyn of Weekly Standard wrote a highly critical piece on Scheuer and an interview Scheuer did on Chris Matthews Hardball. [11] Joscelyn wrote:

Scheuer wrote about the relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda in his 2002 book (see above, 2002). Yet when interviewed in 2004 he stated that he had found no evidence of a Saddam/al-Qaeda connection. Tim Russert asked Scheuer to explain the seeming contradiction on Meet the Press (30 November 2004):

Scheuer explains more fully in the revised edition of his 2002 book the exhaustive study of the evidence of Iraq-al-Qaeda cooperation that eventually led him to the conclusion that there was no relationship between the two forces:

In a Washington Post editorial on Sunday, April 29, 2007 (Page B01) entitled “NOW HE TELLS US – Tenet Tries to Shift the Blame. Don’t Buy It.”, Scheuer strongly criticized George Tenet’s behavior before and after both 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Scheuer also points out untruths in the way Tenet recounted his role in those situations.

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Michael Scheuer – Wikispooks

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Interviews – Michael Scheuer | The Torture Question …

Scheuer was a CIA agent who worked on national security issues related to Islamic extremism from 1985 until his retirement in 2004. He formed the CIA unit responsible for trying to capture Osama bin Laden and headed it from December 1995 to June 1999. Scheuer was also involved in setting up the CIA’s rendition program in which terrorist suspects are taken to a third country for interrogation. Critics argue that rendition is “outsourcing torture,” but Scheuer defends the program. He says the primary point was to get terrorist suspects who were planning an imminent attack on U.S. interests off the streets and to incarcerate them in a country willing to accept them. Those countries had to provide the U.S. with a guarantee that the suspects would be treated lawfully. “I worked in covert action for 20 years, and there was no covert action program I was involved in that was ever more scrutinized by lawyers,” he says. Here, Scheuer also describes the CIA’s perspective in its turf battles with the FBI over what to do with captured terrorist suspect Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi. “I think you have to decide what’s in the best interest of America,” he says. ” Why bother putting him through the court system in the United States when you might be able to save American lives by using him in another manner?” This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 21, 2005.

Did we know a lot about [Osama bin Laden] and [Al Qaeda] in the summer of 2001?

There was never a terrorist group which we knew more about in terms of goals, organization, method of operation, personnel than Al Qaeda. And that was not only true in 2001, but by the summer of 1998, we had accumulated an extraordinary array of information about this group and about its intentions.

And how much of what we gathered came from interrogation?

None, basically. Let me speak firsthand, what I know. Until June of 1999, the information we had gathered was either from assets that were run, penetrations that were run by the Central Intelligence Agency, signals intelligence and intelligence, which is always very important, from people who walk into you at various places around the world and deliver something. They always want something. They want protection; they want money; they want relocation.

And they say in the intelligence business the worst thing is a walk-in and the best thing is a walk-in. And fortunately we had several walk-ins who were stellar and helped to fill in many gaps. So those were the three things that we got the best information from.

So somebody like [Jamal] al-Fadl?

Yes.

I guess the FBI was basically living with him and extracting information from him.

Well, initially Jamal al-Fadl was agency operation, and he gave us information that was startling, not only because of its detail, but because it began to flesh out the information we had already gathered on Osama bin Laden. And so he was as tremendous. We were very lucky. Sometimes you have to work hard, and you get lucky, and Jamal al-Fadl was a stroke of luck for us.

And then shortly thereafter, within four or five months, a friendly intelligence service elsewhere in the Middle East had a similar person who they said was driving them crazy because he was giving them a lot of information that they couldn’t understand, and they asked us to take a look at it. And it corroborated basically what Jamal al-Fadl said. And both packages corroborated most of what we had collected before those two people appeared.

Again, by 1998 there was no question that Al Qaeda was a group unlike any other we had ever seen.

So when we get down into this territory of actionable intelligence, strategic versus tactical, help me understand the agency’s perspective and the FBI’s perspective.

Well, the FBI was in a tough position, because the FBI, when it goes overseas, has to obey the laws of the countries they’re in, whether they’re in France or Ghana or Malaysia. The agency is obligated only to obey the laws of the United States. We’re statutorily empowered to break any other law in the world in the defense of American interests and citizens.

So our view of how things are done is necessarily different and statutorily different than the FBI does. The FBI always likes to build a case and arrest somebody and put them in jail in the United States. Well, it doesn’t work that way overseas. And so the FBI was always in a position where they would like to arrest someone, but another police force, especially in the Third World, doesn’t allow the FBI to come into the country and run the show. And you know from the way American law works, when someone is arrested, the FBI officer involved has to be able to testify in court that he was there when it happened, and the man was not abused; the man was not roughed up; the man was not deprived or tortured or anything like that. So it very seldom happens that that can be done in a Third World country.

In addition, some of the most important information we get from people who are captured comes in either hardcopy documents or documents on a laptop or a Palm Pilot or a floppy disk or a CD-ROM. Again, for American courts, the FBI officer has to swear that he was there when that information was picked up, and he had, if you will, rode herd on it over the whole process. It was never tampered with; it was never changed; it was never added to or subtracted from.

Both of those almost always are a non-starter in the Third World. The Kuwaiti police or the Kuwaiti intelligence service are not going to let the FBI knock the door in and go in and make sure the chain of custody is correct. So because that’s so impossible overseas, the FBI M.O. is seldom, I would say, applicable. And that devolves the issue to the Intelligence Service: How do you take care of these people? How do you get these people off the street?

And then we move into an area where the CIA is the lead agency. And you have to, a lot of times, improvise ways of trying to find people you can put away.

Describe for me, if you will, the political environment and the way that it felt different, if it did to you, post-9/11.

There was a tremendous amount of rhetoric about — I remember the [CIA’s] chief of [counterterrorism], Cofer Black, saying he wanted bin Laden’s head brought to him on ice, or we want flies on their eyes. There’s a lot of that kind of warrior rhetoric that came out. But at the end of the day, the U.S. intelligence community is palsied by lawyers, and everything still depends on whether the lawyers approve it or not.

So there was some broadening of the target set in terms of people who could be captured. But generally speaking, the rendition program, which I presume is what you’re talking about, remained the same as it was since it was devised in 1995.

It isn’t only what I’m talking about. I’ve read and talked to the lawyers of the Department of Justice, the lawyers at the White House, the lawyers at the Defense Department, the JAGs [judge advocates general] — everybody — about this notion of a new legal paradigm, a much broader war powers [resolution] for the president of the United States; a broader definition of torture, for example; a much more aggressive view of what to do, whether to follow Geneva or not, all of those kinds of broader issues. Did you feel that shift in any way?

There was a small broadening in what you could do in terms of trying to get someone to talk, but none of them ever approached what anyone would describe as torture. Sleep deprivation and that sort of thing was broadened, but in terms of what you see in Hollywood, of thumbscrews and the Chinese water torture and that kind of thing, it just didn’t happen.

And I think a big part of the reason it didn’t happen is the agency has long held that torture gets you virtually nothing. People tell you what you want to hear, or they tell you information that’s accurate but very dated, and ultimately ties you in knots and doesn’t move the process ahead anywhere.

Is that the view inside the agency [about] interrogation?

I think so. Yes, we were eager to talk to these people, clearly. But yesterday and today, there’s kind of three tiers of importance. The most important thing in ’95 and as we talk in July of 2005 is to get these people off the street. That’s the single most important thing, the idea, of course, being to protect America and Americans.

The second most important is to grab, when they’re arrested, whatever paper, hardcopy documents or electronic media they have with them, because in that media is going to be information they never expected the Central Intelligence Agency to be reading.

The third thing is to talk to them. But anything we get in the third level is gravy, for several reasons. First of all, Al Qaeda has trained their fighters that they have only two end points. One is to be a martyr on the battlefield and die, and he’ll go to heaven. The other one is to be a martyr in the prison of the United States or one of its allies, and God will be just as happy with that. So they’re ready to die. The jihad doesn’t stop because they’re in jail.

The second thing is we’re very confident, through captured documents and manuals, that these people are trained to dissemble under interrogation or, as we mentioned earlier, to tell you a lot of very true and accurate information, but stuff that’s dated and won’t advance the cause.

And the third thing is [people] too often forget that most of these people grew up in police states. They’re used to being roughed up by the police with no concern at all for human rights or physical security, and so they’re very tough individuals. And there’s nothing that we’re going to do that’s going to approach what the Saudis would do, for example, to a prisoner.

So on that basis, the talking to them is probably the least important of the goals.

So now let’s take the moment where we’ve decided to go to Afghanistan. I’ve heard stories of CIA guys walking around cherry-picking high-value terrorists I guess, HVTs, and saying: “These are our guys. We need to talk to them. We recognize them. We’ve heard about them.” Give me the CIA’s rules of the road at that moment, in just the fog of the early war in Afghanistan.

As I saw it, the goal remained the same: We wanted to pay attention to the most senior people we could find, because the goal was to find people within circles that might have knowledge of forthcoming attacks on the United States and/or information leading to the location of [Ayman] al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, take your pick. And so we were, I think, focused on that, finding those levels of people.

For the rest of the people, they turned the game over to the amateurs. The people who went to Gitmo, as far as I understand, were the people who were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The military and the FBI took people to various places and tried to debrief them as if everybody on the battlefield in Afghanistan would have knowledge of the next 9/11 attack, whereas most of the people that were picked up in Afghanistan were insurgent fighters, guys who might be able to tell you about the organization of Al Qaeda’s insurgent arm, what kind of weapons they were trained on. But none of them, virtually none of them, had any knowledge whatsoever useful to either a) preventing an attack on America, or b) locating al-Zawahiri and bin Laden.

And you knew that going in.

Well, we did know it going in, but it’s been a very hard sell in the United States government to say: “Listen, Al Qaeda is not a traditional terrorist group. Seventy-five percent of Al Qaeda does insurgency. The people you’re going to pick up on the ground in Afghanistan fighting American forces in the Northern Alliance are not the guys that have anything to do with the East Africa bombings, the [USS] Cole or 9/11. And so don’t waste your time. Put them in a prison camp, but they’re not going to help you stop the next 9/11.” But that’s a really hard sell in Washington, because bureaucratically Al Qaeda has to fit in the terrorist category because that’s the category that’s available. There’s no other one.

So it’s a very difficult thing for an intelligence officer to convince his masters that they really need to think in new ways bureaucratically.

Now, there’s a story that gets told about Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, [who] apparently ran a training camp for Al Qaeda. [He] gets swept up in the war. The FBI has him, and a couple of other guys are debriefing him and getting what they can and making a case about it. And the way the story goes, there’s some Washington wrangling, and he is [taken by the CIA to another country for interrogation]. Tell me what you know [about] that story.

Yeah, well, that could be true, but I don’t know for sure one way or another. But the real point to make is that once we have him, who cares about a case? What you want from that individual is to try to get information that will lead you to another success either on the battlefield or in some other way. And debriefing someone in order to build a case is a very constricting exercise, because you want to know information, but you only want to know information that makes your case work. And once you have that, in my experience, the FBI won’t let you talk to anyone.

So I think you have to decide what’s in the best interest of America. Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was in the senior echelon of Al Qaeda’s leaders. He was under arrest; he was not going anywhere. Why bother putting him through the court system in the United States when you might be able to save American lives by using him in another manner? If there is a contest between the FBI and the CIA, it’s primarily over that kind of issue, that what are you after here, just another scalp, just another guy in the maximum-security prison in Denver or Colorado or wherever it is, or are you trying to unravel this enemy? And so there’s always a conflict there.

So did they take Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi? I have to tell you, I don’t know. I hope they did, because I think he’d be much more valuable in CIA hands than in FBI hands.

So now let’s talk a little bit about rendition, understanding that it starts in ’95, continues on through 2001. Is it any different after Sept. 11 as a program, as an idea, as an anything, than it was in 1995?

I think it is, and I think we spoke earlier about it. The ability to interrogate people using U.S. officers, using intelligence officers is new, because primarily in the past, we had been the broker between the entity that arrested an individual and the entity that was going to take him and try him. Physical contact, even conversational — it almost never occurred. And I think what that reflects is the lack of importance we attached to interrogation at that point. We wanted him off the street, and we wanted his documents.

If something came from the interrogation by another country, we’re happy to have it, but we didn’t expect much from it.

Does interrogation become more important after 9/11?

Well, sure. I don’t know if it becomes more important, but it becomes more of the responsibility of the agency. The politicians want the interrogation to be done by U.S. intelligence officers instead of by a Middle Eastern service or a European service, or whoever is going to incarcerate the person. And so it changes in that manner. I’m not sure if it’s a change for the better or not, but it was a change mandated from above.

And the political pressure to get more actionable information — we need it, we need it, we’ve got to have it.

Yeah. There’s certainly that push after 9/11 — understandably so. And there’s certainly within the agency a desire to do all we could to further the defense of America.

We haven’t done this yet, but define what rendition meant post-9/11.

I think it means the same thing as it did before 9/11. [Rendition] is to identify individuals whom we knew were either ready to participate in an attack on the United States or was involved in planning an attack. The emphasis again, from ’95 to ’05, is to get that person off the street.

The second emphasis, again, [that] is extraordinarily important is hardcopy documents and electronic documents. The importance of interrogation, of interviewing, interrogation, questioning, rises after 9/11 because policy-makers at the NSC [National Security Council], at the White House, around the community begin to insist that U.S. intelligence officers do the interrogation rather than letting third countries do it.

Why?

There’s a natural tendency to want your own people to do things. You sometimes think they do them better; they’re smarter. There’s an element of condescension in it, the assumption that an American can do anything better than an Egyptian or a Pakistani. And also a great thirst to have information that we could smack Al Qaeda and the Taliban with. So there are a combination of things resulting in more U.S. intelligence officers being directly involved in the interrogation.

So the common understanding — that is, the kind of general sense of rendition — is guys are somehow grabbed, cherry-picked off the Bagram Air Force Base warehouse and ghosted, put on an airplane, a Gulfstream V, and sent into never-never land forever, never to be heard from again. How close is that to reality?

I don’t think it’s all that close to reality. I think the numbers are small. The question, of course, of whether they’re held forever and ever after 9/11 is not an issue that has anything to do with the Central Intelligence Agency; it has to do with the people we work for. CIA, after all, is a service organization. The direction was find, apprehend and hold senior members of Al Qaeda and try to find out what they know about coming attacks against the United States.

Salute, do your job, but at the end of the day, the problem remains: What does the United States government want to do with these people? And if there’s a problem — and there is, if you read the media — the problem is not with the agency; the problem is with the politicians who have decided that that’s the program they want to execute.

So I think there’s many people in the agency that are concerned with just this question. When we set up the program, we said: “Listen, we’re not jailers. We don’t have arrest authority. Where do you want these people taken?” The NSC at that time said, “Well, over to you.” And we said: “No, you don’t get it. We don’t do these things.” And they said, “Over to you.” And so we had to design a program that would accommodate the inability to bring these people to the United States.

Why couldn’t they come to the United States?

Primarily because the way they were taken was not consonant with legal processes in the United States. And the National Security Council apparently decided that they didn’t want to go through the trouble of working with the Congress to find ways to bring them to the United States as prisoners of war, as enemy combatants, whatever.

And so the agency was left with a situation where we had direction to take these people off the street and break up Al Qaeda cells, but we also had to find places where they could be arrested and then places where they could be taken for incarceration. So it was a very difficult process, but we did it admirably. The American people today, though it’s hard to believe, are very much safer because the agency has been involved in this practice for the past 10 years.

So help me practically understand what it means to take people off the streets, put them somewhere.

Once we had the assignment from Mr. [Samuel] Berger and Mr. [Richard] Clarke and the president in ’95, we had to address ourselves to what is the universe of Al Qaeda people? Senior operators that we know through intelligence are either engaged in preparing an attack against the United States or will participate in an attack when it comes.

So the first thing you do is identify that set, that universe. Then, because we could not bring those people to the United States, we had to meet several requirements. First, we had to identify a person who was worth incarcerating. Second, that person had to be in a country that was willing to help us arrest him. Third, that person had to be wanted in a third country in a legal process. Either a warrant had to be issued for him, or he had been tried in absentia.

… For example, if we found an Al Qaeda member of X nationality in country Y, we would first have to persuade country Y to arrest him and then persuade country X to accept him from country Y. And really, the agency’s role was a brokering role, trying to mediate between those two. And that’s what renditions were about. And that’s how they were done. It wasn’t just reaching out and grabbing someone. Lord knows there are hundreds of Al Qaeda people we would have liked to take off the street, but we couldn’t do it because we couldn’t make them fit into the mold of acceptable operations.

And post-9/11, is there anything different about that program?

There is, because now the U.S. government is willing to hold these people at its various incarceration sites around the world. You can pick them up. If you identify them, you still have to build a case that satisfies the lawyers. The lawyers are involved in every step of this process. I worked in covert action for 20 years, and there was no covert action program I was involved in that was ever more scrutinized by lawyers, not only at the agency, but at DOJ — Department of Justice — and NSC. You still have to build a legal case against them. Prove that they’re bad guys, and then you can pick them up.

But still we’re in this position where kind of the horse is out of the barn. These guys now are very much aware that every aspect of the American government is chasing them, so they’re much harder to find, identify and pick up than they were before 9/11. So although we have rules of engagement that are a little bit broader, the target is tougher because it’s more cognizant of the need to hide.

And I think the perception is that once you get one of these high-value terrorists — and because you’re the CIA you know they are high-value terrorists in a lot of cases — they will be treated to much harsher, more draconian, more whatever methods.

I think that certainly is the perception, and I think the manner in which they are treated probably is different from the way someone is treated if he’s arrested for stealing in a store here in the United States. But again, I don’t really have a quarrel with people being upset with that process. What I have a quarrel with is that the agency really has nothing to do with that. That’s been decided, approved and blessed by numerous lawyers in the United States government. And at the end of the day, I think agency officers would prefer to see these people treated as prisoners of war, because the results of interrogation are not monumentally important. We come back to the primary things, getting them off the street and getting their documents.

The one thing that is worthwhile, strangely enough, is to engage these people in discussions with no physical attributes at all. Al Qaeda is generally a middle-class and an upper-middle-class organization, men from good families, men who have had education, at least high school, many BAs and many with graduate degrees. And they are extraordinarily proud of the work they’re doing. And they’re also very cognizant of being a part of Islamic history and resisting the infidel.

And probably some of the best intelligence we have gotten from these men is by having officers who know a lot about what they’re up to and how it fits into the course of Islamic history. In just discussing with them the context in which they have lived and worked, you gain a very significant amount of information and insight into their motivation, into their mind-set, into their dedication, into their patience and perseverance. And I think maybe that’s probably the most important part of talking to these people.

… It probably is really hard, even in the post-9/11 period, to find places to put them.

I think that’s fair enough. And also you’re faced with shooting yourself in the foot, because the information you get from them is probably worth having, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the pain you get from the rest of the world. If they were treated as we treated Japanese prisoners of war, German prisoners of war, let the Red Cross come in and see them in their little stockades, I think we’d be better off. I think the American people would then realize what a tremendous boon to their interests the rendition program has been.

One of the great problems, of course, in detaining people like this is how long you detain them.

That’s exactly right. The agency kind of has made that point repeatedly along the course of events, because incarceration basically makes them harder. Guantanamo from the very beginning has been training the toughest, most dedicated and probably the most healthy battalion of mujahideen that there ever existed, because those people are going to go back to their societies, and they’re going to be heroes. They got captured by the Americans, they withstood the interrogation and the imprisonment, and now they’re back, and they’re going to go back to fighting.

We’ve seen, I think, about a dozen cases of Afghans and Pakistanis who were released from Guantanamo who have turned up fighting the Americans on the battlefield again.

You mean because they’ve been radicalized —

No. Simply because they have no perception that they’re doing anything wrong. One of the great mistakes Americans make is that somehow these people are going to be contrite when we capture them. And the FBI is constantly surprised by — they offer an Islamic militant deal if he’ll rat out someone, and the guy says to him: “What? I’m proud of this. I want my parents to know that I helped to blow up the East African embassies or helped to almost destroy the Cole.” So it’s a whole different mind-set. …

[It’s been reported that al-Libi] and others have been taken to Egypt, taken to Morocco, taken to Jordan. Do we know that that’s actually happened, that the agency has taken people into those places?

I’ve explained to you, no one can be moved to a third country unless that country has an outstanding legal process for them. In the media it’s often portrayed that if an Al Qaeda person is captured, the agency wants to take him to the place where he’ll be tortured the most. And that’s a crock. Because of what the lawyers and the U.S. government have decided, people can be picked up if they’re wanted somewhere in the world.

And it happens that Al Qaeda, being a Muslim organization, is made up mostly of people from Muslim countries. And so if you’re going to do this, you’re going to have to deal with Saudis, Kuwaitis, Jordanians, Algerians, Moroccans, Egyptians. There’s not many people in the government of Ireland that are going to want a lot of Egyptian terrorists coming to Dublin for incarceration. It doesn’t work that way.

Are you saying definitively as you know that the agency is not taking Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other guys to countries we know do bad stuff because we statutorily or culturally can’t do it, and we’re letting other countries do it, and we’re turning a blind eye toward that?

No, I’m not saying that at all. And I can only speak for the period that I was in charge. We took people to the countries of their origin in the Middle East if those countries had a legal process outstanding for them and were willing to take them. Now, in every case, the lawyers at the CIA, the NSC and the DOJ insisted that we get a guarantee from the government who was accepting the person that that person would be treated according to the laws of that country, not to the laws of the United States, but to the laws of take your pick — Morocco, Egypt, Jordan.

So yes, people were taken to those countries. But again, that’s the way the system was set up. That’s the way the legal system in our government wanted it run. …

I talked to somebody [who] said a lot of times, high-ranking guys know that the Egyptians are very sophisticated about a certain kind of torture, that there is torture in Morocco or Jordan. So an environment can be created almost anywhere, in Pakistan, that feels like Egypt — the picture on the wall, the music out the window. Can you imagine such a thing?

Yeah, I can imagine all kinds of things. But I have to tell you that in my experience working with Middle Eastern services, whether they’re Egyptians or Moroccans, and in for a long time, for almost 20 years, torture is never the first option. The first option is relentless questioning, re-questioning, questioning again and checking what was said.

I’m not going to be a fool and tell you that there’s no physical part involved in this, but the Egyptians and the Jordanians are not thugs; they’re professional intelligence officers with a different set of rules of engagement than we have. But the idea that they get any useful information from torturing people is probably greatly exaggerated.

I worked with a particular Middle Eastern country for the better part of 15 years, and the people who were working the issue at the start were working it at the end. The people who were working it on the U.S. side who were working with the end are sitting across from you at the moment.

The value that other services put on expertise is astounding. America has no use for expertise. We are all supposed to be generalists. It’s generally a career killer if you choose to be an expert.

So it’s very easy to assume that it’s bamboo under the fingertips and electronic juice applied to various parts of your body. But it’s much more sophisticated than that. The people who do the questioning are knowledgeable to the point that they are the peer of the person that they have in custody.

[How effective is the military at gathering intelligence?]

I think to make the point, the military was given a job that was not really their job. And part of the emphasis on this need for actionable intelligence comes from a bipartisan imperative among American leaders not to use their military to its full power, not to kill a lot of people or suffer any casualties. So instead, we’ve reduced the intelligence process to try to find the silver bullet, the one piece of intelligence from one of these captives that will allow us to kill bin Laden and make all of this bad stuff go away. It’s an endeavor not only to gather information, but [to] prevent us from looking bad if you believe that using our military ruthlessly is a bad thing.

And so we talk to the gomers that come out of Afghanistan who are insurgent fighters as if they were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed potentially. And to turn that over to the military, which you said was a blunt instrument, results in things like Abu Ghraib or some of the things that happened in Guantanamo.

I personally don’t think that any of those things are irredeemable evil. They’re stupid. They’re not going to result in any intelligence. And they certainly degraded the prisoners. But it all goes back to a mind-set that there is a piece of information out there that’s going to make this nightmare stop, and we can wake up and go ahead with morning in America. And it’s not going to happen. But politicians are not convinced of that yet.

You’re a man who lived and breathed information, sifting it, understanding it, trying to get it. Do you think Gitmo is the environment to get any information?

Well, if you’re looking for the right information, Gitmo in a sense was an opportunity that’s been lost. We put together in Gitmo for the first time … people who knew about Al Qaeda’s insurgent organization. What those people should have been was a laboratory for us to find out about how insurgents are trained, what weapons they’re trained to use. Are they trained in celestial navigation? What kind of combat medicine? To assemble almost an order of battle, information packet, so the military will know when they go on the field to fight insurgents how the enemy is organized.

Instead we spent the entire time to today looking for the guy who is the cousin of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who knows what’s going after 9/11. So I think it’s a mistake. It’s a mistake because of the questions we didn’t ask. We had a good audience for information, a good mass of people to gather information we needed, but not about the next 9/11, about the men we’re fighting now on the ground in Afghanistan and in Iraq, for example, the insurgents.

So when Secretary of Defense [Donald] Rumsfeld called them “the worst of the worst,” what does that mean to you?

It means what it always means: He doesn’t have a clue about what he’s fighting or why he’s fighting it. They continue to believe that they think that we’re being fought because we love freedom and liberty, instead of what we do in the Islamic world. And they’re going to go to their graves, and maybe taking the nation with them, believing that nonsense.

Are they an enemy that needs to be defeated? Absolutely. But, like any other enemy, you’d better understand them, or they’re going to whip you. And we’re getting whipped.

Originally posted here:

Interviews – Michael Scheuer | The Torture Question …

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January 30, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Media Kiss Brass as America’s Enemies Grow Stronger – GOPUSA

With massive leaks of classified information, some of them stemming from undiscovered moles in the intelligence community, the media continue treating former officials of the CIA and NSA who have presided over this debacle with honor and respect. The Business Insider article, 7 things the CIA looks for when recruiting people, is one of the worst examples of this obsequiousness. It is a plug for a book by former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. Hayden was once photographed with former CIA/NSA analyst Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow after disclosing classified information that helped our enemies. Snowden posted the photograph on his Twitter page. Hayden cant be personally faulted for Snowdens betrayal, but the series of leaks from the intelligence community certainly has cast doubt over hiring practices within the CIA and the NSA. Ironically, this is the subject that Business Insider wanted to know more about. In a video interview with the publication, Hayden explains what the Central Intelligence Agency looks for in a candidate. He listed the following characteristics as being attractive in a candidate: a second language, life experience, success, foreign travel and living in a foreign country. He failed to mention love of country and living a moral lifestyle. He did say that the CIA goes to college fairs looking for candidates, and We go to Arab-American week up in Dearborn, Michigan. He explained, Have a big tent up there where we talk to Americans of Arab descent. We recruit just like any other enterprise. The recruitment of Muslims during an age of terror involving radical Islamic terrorism is obviously problematic. But the idea of recruiting college students is also questionable. I asked former CIA intelligence officer Michael Scheuer who was behind the most recent leak of classified information from the CIA and he suggested it might be a product of our rotten educational system that offers nothing in civic education or loyalty to the country. Scheuer, who ran the Osama bin Laden unit and retired in 2004 after a 22-year career, told me in an interview that when he joined the agency he was interrogated over potential background problems such as homosexuality and narcotics. By contrast, Obamas CIA director John Brennan said he joined the agency after voting for the Communist Party USA ticket and got accepted anyway. Under Brennan, Scheuer noted, the CIA held a month-long celebration of LGBT nonsense. He added, Theyve staffed the whole agency with it. The Obama administration definitely salted our security services and military services with people who felt like the Democrats are their protectors. The implication is that these people may be behind the anti-Trump leaks coming out of the intelligence community. The intelligence community is spared serious scrutiny for the obvious reason that journalists depend on their anonymous sources for news, leads and tips. In this case, the name of the game is taking down Donald Trump. But they could take America down with him. Hayden wrote his own anti-Trump piece, Donald Trump Is Undermining Intelligence Gathering, for the March 9, 2017 New York Times. Interestingly, his book thanks Vernon Loeb, formerly of The Washington Post, for proposing that Hayden write his book. Loeb was supposed to be his collaborator but took a job with the Houston Chronicle instead. Loeb had covered the CIA and the Pentagon for the Post before becoming its metro editor. With people like Hayden so clueless about the failures of U.S. intelligence in the age of terror, we have to wonder if the Trump administration will seek major changes and budget cuts in the intelligence community, which spends $50 billion a year. Since President Trump first expressed reservations about the work of the intelligence community, the problems have only gotten worse. Scheuer told me that the recent CIA leak gives terrorists the ability to evade hacking tools that were used on their methods of communication. But rather than examine the hiring practices at the CIA and other agencies, the House and Senate intelligence committees are mostly looking at allegations launched by anonymous sources from within the intelligence community against Trump and his Russian connections. These leaks appear to be the fulfillment of what Scheuer alluded tothe revenge of the Democratic staffers and sexual minorities put in place by the Obama administration. They have taken the offensive against Trump in order to protect their privileged positions. Going beyond this dreadful possibility, the leaks could be a way to divert attention away from moles for Russia or China in the CIA and other agencies. This would be a classic case of communist-style disinformation. Meanwhile, we can expect more damaging leaks, leading to possible terrorist attacks or blindness regarding the nuclear capabilities or intentions of countries like North Korea and Iran. If this traitorous conduct within the intelligence community continues, and Congress spends its time on other matters, the only alternative Trump might have is to drastically cut the intelligence communitys $50 billion budget. Perhaps that would get their attention. Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org. VN:D [1.9.6_1107] Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast) Media Kiss Brass as Americas Enemies Grow Stronger, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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March 17, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Media Kiss Brass as America’s Enemies Grow Stronger – Accuracy In Media

With massive leaks of classified information, some of them stemming from undiscovered moles in the intelligence community, the media continue treating former officials of the CIA and NSA who have presided over this debacle with honor and respect. The Business Insider article, 7 things the CIA looks for when recruiting people, is one of the worst examples of this obsequiousness. It is a plug for a book by former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. Hayden was once photographed with former CIA/NSA analyst Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow after disclosing classified information that helped our enemies. Snowden posted the photograph on his Twitter page. Hayden cant be personally faulted for Snowdens betrayal, but the series of leaks from the intelligence community certainly has cast doubt over hiring practices within the CIA and the NSA. Ironically, this is the subject that Business Insider wanted to know more about. In a video interview with the publication, Hayden explains what the Central Intelligence Agency looks for in a candidate. He listed the following characteristics as being attractive in a candidate: a second language, life experience, success, foreign travel and living in a foreign country. He failed to mention love of country and living a moral lifestyle. He did say that the CIA goes to college fairs looking for candidates, and We go to Arab-American week up in Dearborn, Michigan. He explained, Have a big tent up there where we talk to Americans of Arab descent. We recruit just like any other enterprise. The recruitment of Muslims during an age of terror involving radical Islamic terrorism is obviously problematic. But the idea of recruiting college students is also questionable. I asked former CIA intelligence officer Michael Scheuer who was behind the most recent leak of classified information from the CIA and he suggested it might be a product of our rotten educational system that offers nothing in civic education or loyalty to the country. Scheuer, who ran the Osama bin Laden unit and retired in 2004 after a 22-year career, told me in an interview that when he joined the agency he was interrogated over potential background problems such as homosexuality and narcotics. By contrast, Obamas CIA director John Brennan said he joined the agency after voting for the Communist Party USA ticket and got accepted anyway. Under Brennan, Scheuer noted, the CIA held a month-long celebration of LGBT nonsense. He added, Theyve staffed the whole agency with it. The Obama administration definitely salted our security services and military services with people who felt like the Democrats are their protectors. The implication is that these people may be behind the anti-Trump leaks coming out of the intelligence community. The intelligence community is spared serious scrutiny for the obvious reason that journalists depend on their anonymous sources for news, leads and tips. In this case, the name of the game is taking down Donald Trump. But they could take America down with him. Hayden wrote his own anti-Trump piece, Donald Trump Is Undermining Intelligence Gathering, for the March 9, 2017 New York Times. Interestingly, his book thanks Vernon Loeb, formerly of The Washington Post, for proposing that Hayden write his book. Loeb was supposed to be his collaborator but took a job with the Houston Chronicle instead. Loeb had covered the CIA and the Pentagon for the Post before becoming its metro editor. With people like Hayden so clueless about the failures of U.S. intelligence in the age of terror, we have to wonder if the Trump administration will seek major changes and budget cuts in the intelligence community, which spends $50 billion a year. Since President Trump first expressed reservations about the work of the intelligence community, the problems have only gotten worse. Scheuer told me that the recent CIA leak gives terrorists the ability to evade hacking tools that were used on their methods of communication. But rather than examine the hiring practices at the CIA and other agencies, the House and Senate intelligence committees are mostly looking at allegations launched by anonymous sources from within the intelligence community against Trump and his Russian connections. These leaks appear to be the fulfillment of what Scheuer alluded tothe revenge of the Democratic staffers and sexual minorities put in place by the Obama administration. They have taken the offensive against Trump in order to protect their privileged positions. Going beyond this dreadful possibility, the leaks could be a way to divert attention away from moles for Russia or China in the CIA and other agencies. This would be a classic case of communist-style disinformation. Meanwhile, we can expect more damaging leaks, leading to possible terrorist attacks or blindness regarding the nuclear capabilities or intentions of countries like North Korea and Iran. If this traitorous conduct within the intelligence community continues, and Congress spends its time on other matters, the only alternative Trump might have is to drastically cut the intelligence communitys $50 billion budget. Perhaps that would get their attention.

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March 15, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

The Bushes: Unfriends – Sri Lanka Guardian

A lesson from two George Bushes: Never give the elite the benefit of the doubt by Michael Scheuer And thus the community perpetually retains a supreme power of saving themselves from the attempts and designs of anybody, even of their legislators, whenever they shall be so foolish, or so wicked, as to lay and carry on designs against the liberties and properties of the subject.John Locke, Second Treatise, Chapter 13 (1) General revolts and rebellions of a whole people never were encouraged now or at any time. They were always provoked.Edmund Burke, 1777 (2) ( March 7, 2017, Boston, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sentiment is human weakness that always is an obstacle to clear thinking, or at least it always is in my case. I have always given George H.W. Bush and and George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt because I thought both were patriots and decent men. The former flew more than 50 combat missions during World War II, and the latter seemed sadly trapped in, and manipulated by, a nest of Neoconservative and Israel-First cretins. Since early in 2016, however, I have come to see how stupid and blinding it is to let sentiment hide the clearly visible truth that the Bushes are not Americas friends. The elder Bush was a disaster for America, his only accomplishment being that he kept the White House from the Democrats for a 4-year term. He is the author and first implementer of the totalitarian idea of a New World Order, which began what is now nearly 30 years of constant war for the United States. He laid the ground work for the current confrontation with Russia by greatly expanding NATO and unleashing Western greed to suck anything economically worth having out of the former USSR; he added countries to NATO that are irrelevant to U.S. security but sit right on Russias border; he squandered most of what President Reagan had accomplished; he fought an unnecessary, half-fought, unwon, and Islamist-benefiting war against Iraq; and he ran a reelection campaign against the whore-loving buffoon Bill Clinton that looked like it should have been in one of the lesser Marx Brothers movies. Finally, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Bush refused to endorse Trump, and his closest confidants suggested he preferred Hillary Clinton. Revalidating the McCain Rule that great physical courage does not connote even moderate brainpower or commonsense, it was all downhill for George H.W. Bush after the second Great War ended. Sadly, that decline ended up by delivering the United States to the malevolent hands and minds of Clinton and Obama, as well as to those of his son. George W. Bush outdid his Dad in terms of negative accomplishments, his only accomplishment being that he kept the White House from the Democrats for eight years, and even that success was minimal as his performance allowed the presidency of the execrable Obama. The younger Bush picked up his fathers interventionist mantle and waged a effeminate war against al-Qaeda, a genuine enemy of the United States, and a half-witted, small-footprint, losing, and utterly unnecessary war in Iraq, a war whose negative impact on U.S. interests has yet to be fully seen. Then, after his silence during Obamas eight years of military and cultural interventionism, pathological lying and racism, and Constitution-shredding, he joins his Dad, and his clueless yet extraordinarily arrogant bother Jeb, to publicly and clandestinely oppose Trump as Republican presidential contender, Republican candidate, president-elect, and president. Most recently, George W. Bush has been out hawking a book of his paintings and hobnobbing with Michelle Obama and other such mindless, virago-like Democratic women and celebrities, and mindlessly basking in the praise of these racist and authoritarian Amazons who would gladly spit on his grave. As if this long record of Bush anti-Americanism was not enough, George W. Bush this week took the time to instruct President Trump to avoid adopting an isolationist tendency because it would be dangerous to national security. By avoiding unnecessary interventions and wars and minding its own business, Bush said, the United States creates a vacuum that is generally filled with people who dont share the ideology, the same sense of human rights and human dignity and freedom that we do. (3) Well, God bless George the Younger. In his reliably bumbling way, he has allowed Americans to see in the 30 words quoted above that the intent of post-1945 U.S. foreign policy has not been to defend them and their republic but to use the taxes and children of American workers to endlessly intervene abroad to rid the world of people and governments that dont share our ideology and who do not have the same sense [of] freedom we do. Bush is not referring here to the ideology and sense of freedom possessed by Americans, but rather to those that the internationalist/globalist/interventionist elites, like the Bushes, Clintons, Obamas, most European leaders, Bill Gates, George Soros, and untold numbers of other rich and highly educated people, want to impose on all peoples including Americans so they can rule people as they see fit and without the possibility popular resistance. Coincidentally, as this piece was being completed, the younger Bushs war buddy, Tony Blair, published a piece in theNew York Timeswhich calls on centrist progressives to hold their ground and defeat the populists and nationalists. Today, the Globalist-shill Blair wrote, a distinction that often matters more than traditional right and left isopen vs. closed.The open-minded see globalization as an opportunitybut one with challenges that should be mitigated; the closed-minded see the outside world as a threat. This distinction crosses traditional party lines and thus has no organizing base, no natural channel for representation in electoral politics. .. So this leaves a big space in the center. For the progressive wing of politics, the correct strategy is to make the case for building a new coalition out from the center. To do so, progressives need to acknowledgethe genuine cultural anxieties of those voters who have deserted the cause of social progress: on immigration, the threat of radical Islamism and the difference between being progressive and appearing obsessive on issues like gender identity. The center needs to develop a new policy agenda that shows people they will get support to help them through the change thats happening around them. At the heart of this has to bean alliance between those driving the technological revolution, in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, and those responsible for public policy in government.At present, there is a chasm of understanding between the two. There will inevitably continue to be a negative impact on jobs from artificial intelligence and big data, but the opportunities to change lives for the better through technology are enormous. Any new agenda has tofocus on these opportunities for radical change in the way that government and services like health care serve people. This must includehow weeducate, skill and equip our work forces for the future;how we reform tax and welfare systems to encourage more fair distribution of wealth; and how we replenish our nations infrastructures and invest in the communities most harmed by trade and technology. (4) I added the italics to Blairs words to make the point that the Western and global elites have not a clue about what is going on all around them, and what is increasingly likely to happen to them. For Blair, there is not a mortal divide between those who believe progressive government is the answer, and those who know that progressive government, if fully developed and entrenched, will be the greatest slave master in history. No, Blair sees the divide as being between the open-minded progressives and the close-minded hay seeds who have deserted the cause of social progress and cannot understand that progressives know what is best for them, a prescription that includes unlimited immigration; suppression of religion, nation-states, and nationalism; more intrusive government control of their lives through improved government services; and, naturally, larger taxes and welfare payments to ensure a more fair distribution of wealth, which, as always, means more money given to groups that are generally composed of the scum of the earth and will always vote for those that pledge to keep them forever on the dole. Throughout history, watching the demise of those who speak about and treat the great mass of people as if they are inferior human beings, and who are then utterly shocked when they find the inferiors bayonets in their bellies, always has been a most enjoyable experience. Blair, the Bushes, the Clintons, the Obamas, the Gates-Soros-Davos billionaires, and the rest of the Globalist clique are blithely and arrogantly striding down a path marked Pointy Ended Road, their trip having been blessed, ironically, by the applause-craving and hell-on-earth-creating Bishop of Rome. They will arrive at that roads dead end, hopefully soon, to find that the great unwashed understand all too well that progressives intend to impose a global tyranny on formerly free peoples, and they will be shocked to find themselves in a fight to their well-merited deaths. No cavalry will come to their aid, of course, because such forces always are composed of the children of the people they mean to rob of their wages and property, and then enslave. Michael F. Scheuer (born 1952) is a former CIA intelligence officer, American blogger, author, foreign policy critic, and political analyst. He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown Universitys Center for Peace and Security Studies. http://non-intervention.com

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March 7, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

US intel agencies deliberately sank Flynn, don’t care about national security ex-CIA officer – RT

Theres a war in Washington Donald Trump is facing a conflict not just with the media, but also with his own intelligence community. Now that the military lobby is infiltrating positions of power, and as the CIA struggles to get its influence back, what kind of shift are we going to see in the corridors of power? Will the intelligence community keep leaking data, or will they rally behind the new leader? We ask former CIA intelligence officer, former head of the CIAs Bin Laden Unit Michael Scheuer. Sophie Shevardnadze: Michael Scheuer, veteran CIA officer, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you with us. Sir, American spy agencies are withholding secret information from the president and his administration – and that’s according to sources in Washington cited by The Wall Street Journal. An intelligence official also told the Observer paper that the good stuff is kept from the White House. Are parts of the intelligence community engaged in a battle against the President? Michael Scheuer: The intelligence community in the U.S. of course, has been completely politicised under two people: first under George Bush by keeping a Democrat named George Tenet in charge of the CIA, and he staffed the agency with pro-Democratic people, and, certainly, Mr. Obama staffed it full of Democratic operatives, people who are indebted to the Democratic party. Immigrants, hispanics, transgender people, homosexuals – people who have more affinity for Democrats than for America or for the Republican party. So, it is a problem, although, I think, probably it’s a bit overblown. SS: So, you think them being indebted to Bush and Obama because they gave them job at CIA, they would go into a battle against president? MS: Not so much against Bush, but in favor of George Tenet who is a Democratic party operative. The glow of support for the Democratic party from the people they’ve put in there is very strong one, and the feel for the need their protection from the people who were sent into the agency and into different intelligence community organisations is very strong. But I think that, again, I think it’s overblown, and I think the president will sort it out. He may well have to purge some people of the organisations for being too partisan. SS: President Trump has accused the FBI and NSA of illegally leaking information to the press, giving out sensitive information like candy – are intelligence agencies deliberately trying to harm Trumps Cabinet? MS: At least, in the case of General Flynn it seems to be the case, because the only place that information could’ve come from was from NSA collecting or the FBI collecting intelligence. Now, it’s not per se illegal to collect against the American citizen, as long as it’s done passively and what I mean is they were surely collecting against the Russian Ambassador, that’s fair game. But, generally, if they collect what an American is saying, it’s not released and it’s redacted, so, clearly, they meant to do Flynn harm and, unfortunately they did. SS: The NSA intercepted the calls between Trump officials, then the FBI ordered to collect as much information as possible – according to the New York Times once again. Now are American intelligence agencies just spying on their own administration? MS: I think, it’s probably a mistake to take anything the NYT says with any bid of faith in what they’re saying. They’re clearly out to destroy this presidency, it’s only a month old, and I think the President can handle the press, simply by going over their head in news conferences and twitter and videos and things like that. The real problem, though, is cleaning out the government of Democratic apparatchiks and people who are more inclined to want to cooperate with the world rather than protecting America first. SS:Trump is saying that the leakers are going to pay a big price. The Justice Department is already looking into these leaks. Is it possible to identify the leakers in this case – and what happens to them if they are uncovered? MS: The tenets of the espionage law certainly cover that, as they should’ve covered Mrs. Clinton and hopefully they still will. Can they find them? There’s a good chance they can find them. The problem we usually have is that they don’t prosecute. But if they prosecuted a few people, I think that will persuade others not to do this. Certainly, it’s a crime, certainly it’s a blow against U.S. security. A lot of these people don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between their duty to their country and their duty to their political party. SS:The New York Times, and the Washington Post, CNN have all reported on Trumps campaign contacts with Russian officials – nevertheless theres been no evidence, like we’ve said so far, so far of the Trump team colluding with Moscow. The FBI has been investigating a scandalous Russia dossier for months but hasnt been able to confirm any of the explosive claims – why does this Russia issue continue to be pedaled, if the allegations are just not adding up? MS: Russia is a big boogeyman for the U.S., always has been. You have to remember that people who run our foreign policy, the neoconservatives – not only they are extremely pro-Israel to the point where they should be members of Knesset, but they join the Israelis in many ways in their hatred for Russians, and so, it’s just a matter of hate. I think, Mr. Trump won the day already with central part of the United States, where most working people live, when he said “I will try to get along with Russia and Mr. Putin. I see no reason for the first step to be animosity” – which seems to be fairly liberal approach to deal with superpower. I don’t know what more to say than that. Russia, there’s a gene in the American character, because of the Cold War that immediately, it’s hackles up once the word “Russia” is mentioned. If Putin and Trump can smooth things over and work, if not closely, at least.. SS: Yeah, I mean, Obamas CIA Director John Brennan warned Trump against embracing Russia, saying the President does not understand the threat Moscow poses – why is mending ties with Russia considered to be a threat among both the Republican and Democrat establishment? MS: The Republicans, because they’re run by the neoconservatives and the Israeli first lobby in this country and they will always be excessively pro-Israeli and excessively anti-Russian, that’s no way around that until people like Senator Graham and Senator McCain either pass away or retire. Mr. Brennan, of course, is a Democratic apparatchik, more and more you read that he’s probably in the pay of the Saudis, which would not surprise me… I tend to think that he was just playing politics, there seems to be some kind of a plan to make the operation of the presidency under Mr. Trump impossible, by the Democrats, by the New York Times, by some members of the government, the intelligence community. Mr. Trump has a big hill to climb now. SS: Trumps top officials arent that much in favour of closer ties between Moscow and Washington – whos going to have the final say in this regard, the president, or his cabinet? What’s your take? MS: Mr. Trump is going to have the final say, mam. I think, if we’ve heard anything in the past two years is that Mr. Trump has the way – he listens, he talks to very important and very respected, very knowledgeable people, and he makes his own decision. We’ve seen, if he falls out with someone, as in the case of General Flynn, who got fired not for what he did but for trying to cover it up or trying to lie about it – Trump will carry the day. I think, it’s so important for foreigners to realise that the great bulk of the American public, notwithstanding what the New York Post and the Washington Times and CNN and all those other people say, the bulk of the American people actually enjoys seeing a president make a decision, actually, like he has a job to do, and not just pontificate about his own personal ideas. SS: While its the Russians who are blamed for all US security breaches lately – Ex-Navy officer Hal Martin – the NSA contractor dubbed the second Snowden – has been arrested for major theft of govt data. Martin stole 50 thousand gigabytes of information which he openly stored in his home, he had classified papers lying around in his car.. How did the NSA miss this massive breach, once again? MS: Well, again, after 911 the intelligence community in the U.S. expanded to the extremely large extent, and they subcontracted vetting processes, clearance processes to companies that actually didn’t do a very good job about it. So, Snowden was able to do what he did, and he got away, he got to Russia and he helped the Russians. He should certainly be brought home and punished for that, but there certainly was the security breakdown on our side, also. SS: Martin worked for the same NSA contractor Snowden did and obviously the NSA didnt find about the security breach right away – does that mean the government may simply be unaware of other violations in its system? MS: I think, without a doubt. When you choose not to use your military to win wars that you’re involved in – as was the case in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we didn’t a tenth… the world didn’t see a tenth or a twentieth of American military power applied. The default position is to go to the intelligence agencies to do things that intelligence agencies are not equipped to do, whether it’s military operations or law enforcement operation. The result of that default was to expand the intelligence community and bloat it, and they certainly were not prepared for the security side of that expansion. SS: In his final days in office Obama has dramatically expanded the reach of American government surveillance – giving 17 agencies the right to spy on citizens. Why did he choose to leave this kind of power to the Trump administration last minute? Do you support the move? MS: I think he probably realises that because of his 8 years in power, the situation inside the U.S., the law enforcement situation and terrorism situation is out of control, as it is in Europe. He wanted to, I don’t know, wanted to expand these capabilities… but Trump will get blamed for using them. I think you’ve seen that if Trump does something that Obama did, no one knows that Obama did it, like the immigration ban – he followed Obama’s example. So Obama, here, in the U.S., is a useless man who accomplished nothing, and, indeed hurt the U.S., but he’s treated in a some ways as a saint. Mr. Trump is going to have to just man up and shoulder that theme. Again, though, if you don’t win your war with your military, with your conventional forces, you must rely on the intelligence community, and the more the intelligence community is relied on, the more tools it needs, and therefore, this kind of surveillance will become necessary, as someone has to defend the Republic. SS: As he was taking office there were reports – once again, in the New York Times – that Trump was planning to restructure the intelligence community – because its become too bloated and politicised – does it need this overhaul? MS: Yes, it does. It is way too big and there’s too few qualified people from the intelligence community of this size in the U.S.. Our education system has so broken down that we don’t train people to love their country anymore, we don’t teach them American history. We teach them not to be the U.S. citizens but citizens of the world, and so, they lack, I think, in many cases a killer instinct which is key in the intelligence work and again, its especially key when your leaders are too cowardly to apply military force against enemies that threaten the country. SS: Obama has loosened political oversight over the CIA – at the same time, with the government officials expecting the agency to support their political ideas – do you think the agency needs more control from the elected government or can it be trusted to be left alone? MS: The Agency, mam… one of the biggest things that I have been surprised by, is the idea that Agency is ever left alone. The Agency is palsied by lawyers, you can barely go down the hall to use men’s room without permission from a lawyer. What you need most of all is for people to stop appointing party apparatchicks, like John Brennan, like Mike Morell, like George Tenet, to position where they can create a situation that’s more like a social experiment – how much can we make this agency diverse and multicultural rather than how can we make this Agency an instrument for successfully promoting and supporting American foreign policy. SS: An example of the way the CIA politicised intelligence is for example the false evidence it presented to launch the Iraq war. If the intelligence is compiled according to policy, and not the other way around, does this mean the White House acts on the intelligence it wants to hear, not on what is actually happening? MS:To be fair, mam, I think the entire world thought that there were some kind of WMDs in Iraq. The problem I had with the whole process is that most of the information about WMDs in Iraq came from people who wanted to overthrow Saddam but couldn’t do it by themselves. I think the Agency has just come out of working in four different resistance situations – Nicaragua and Namibia, Cambodia and Afghanistan – and the one thing you learn very quickly was unless you could corroborate from other sources what the resistance was telling you, you would end up acting on false information, and I think, that’s largely what’s happened here. The information wasn’t good and George Bush and Dick Cheney were dying to go to war with Iraq, event to extent of ignoring the main enemy, which was then Al-Qaeda and now it’s the Islamic State. SS:Yeah, but my question is – all of this, does this still mean that the White House acts on the intelligence it wants to hear, not what’s really going on? MS: I can’t tell you, mam, under Mr. Trump how that will work out, but the one thing I did see, I went to work under Reagan administration, and ended up under Bush’s’ administration, the Junior Bush, the second Bush, and what I saw was the general politicisation of the American foreign policy-making, national security policy, to bend the information to fit the political needs of the President at the time. Not killing Osama Bin Laden, for example, was purely a political decision, so mr. Clinton wouldn’t look bad if it went wrong… I think it’s a process that needs to be undone. I’m not smart enough to know how to do that, but what you’re looking at is not a concern in American foreign policy for the protection of the Republican, but for the protection of the President. SS: The CIA conducts its own covert military operations, it operates a targeted killing programme – and sometimes its actions overlap with those of the Pentagon. In Syria the different CIA-backed and Pentagon-backed rebels groups ended up fighting each other. Is there a competition between the military and the intelligence – or can the two operate as a united front? MS: There’s probably some competition to the extent that CIA is doing military activities, that they have been ordered to do, which normally would fall to the military. So, there’s probably, some resentment on part of the military, but the military also, in a lot of cases, doesn’t want to do these things. I doesn’t want to go after people and capture them, it doesn’t want to do the waterboarding, it doesn’t want to do other kinds of activities, that unfortunately, are necessary in this day and age. The other point that I would make is that the American military is an extraordinarily slow and cumbersome organisation. When we had to invade Afghanistan after 9/11 for example, the CIA was on the ground, had built tents, had the coffee warmed, before any military got there. SS: While the military lobbies for perpetual war, can Trumps ideas of less American involvement and making deals with other powers will outweigh the hawkish opposition? MS: I certainly hope so, mam. I think, Mr. Trump has a great opportunity to let Mr. Putin, if he’d like to, to have to deal with the Arabs for the next 50 years, I think that would be wonderful thing, for example. Whether he can pull it off or not – I don’t know. The American Congress is really owned, more or less, by the Israelis, less by the Israelis than by Jewish American citizens here in the U.S. They say, you know, “jump”, and the American Congress almost to a person says: “how high?”. That’s a very hard nut to crack. I think Mr. Trump needs to do that, or we will be engaged in endless and ultimately bankrupting wars in the Middle East for no purpose. It does not matter to the U.S. for example, who rules in Kabul. It does matter to Russia, I think, but it doesn’t matter for us. SS:You believe the conflict in Syria is one that US has no interest in – do you think the new administration will give up its ambitions in the Syrian campaign? MS: Do I think or do I hope? I certainly hope they do, I certainly think any common sense review of what’s going on in Syria – I think that war is going to be 6 years old next month? The only Americans who have been killed have been people who wanted to be on the ground, messing around on the battlefield, whether they were NGO people or journalists, and a few U.S. soldiers because Obama re-intervened there. It doesn’t matter for us who rules in Damascus or in Baghdad. Let the parts fall where they may. Ultimately, that’s heading towards a Sunni-Shia war which could do nothing but benefit the U.S. SS: America is conducting anti-terror campaigns in Yemen, in Libya, its aiding troops in Iraq, it’s still present in Afghanistan – you want the US to pull out, end its interventions, but is it that easy? I mean, can the US just leave Afghanistan and have the Taliban take over, doesnt it have a responsibility to stay there now? MS: No. We have no responsibility for anything. Our responsibility was to destroy the people that attacked us in 9/11 – Osama Bin Laden is dead, Al-Qaeda is at least dormant or semi-dormant for the moment. We always have the power to go back and do it again and do it the right way, which is overwhelming it with an indiscriminate military force. Right now, what we’ve tried to do is impose values, sordid Western values on Afghans, who are Muslims, and sincere Muslims, and want no part of it. It’s a never-ending battle. We could stay there forever and we would never change a thing in Afghanistan. That’s just the beginning of wisdom for one part of the country. I think it would apply to Yemen or any other Muslim country. We have nothing to offer that they want. The only way we can impose it is by a bayonet. SS: The Washington-Tehran track is heating up right now. Trumps team wants a review of the nuclear deal, its imposing new restrictions, while Tehran is growing more defiant. How far can these tensions spike? Is a US-Iran military conflict now in the cards once again? MS: It certainly sounds like it does. I hope it isn’t. The Iranians are no threat to the U.S., they are threat to Israel, they are a threat to the Saudis – let the regional powers settle their problem. There’s 1.6 billion Muslims, a small portion of that are Shia – if the Sunnis can’t defend themselves against the enemy that’s infinitesimally smaller than they are, then they deserve to get defeated. But, who cares who rules in Tehran? Even if they have a nuclear weapon, which they will get, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t from their perspective – they are still not going to represent the power that Russia, Great Britain or the U.S. represents. They still get smashed in any attempt to take us on in any meaningful way. SS: Now, I know that your book, your analysis has been quoted by Bin Laden himself, as well as ISIS – is this strange kind of acknowledgement flatter you or makes you uneasy? MS: No, it flatters me in a sense that they see American who understands and listens to what they say. Osama Bin Laden would’ve been a great western politician in a sense that he stayed on message. He basically said “we don’t give a damn how you treat your women, what your women wear, whether you drink whiskey, if you vote, if you have freedoms or liberties – we want you to stop intervening in our country”, and that’s what I wrote. I wrote that in 1999, the Agency suppressed it for 2 years, 2,5 years, it was published in 2002, I think. It was right then, it is right now. As long as we intervene, we are the glue that holds together the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the rest of them. I’m not sure they would stop fighting us entirely, but it would be much-much more manageable and also they would turn to their other enemies – the tyrannical Arab states, the Israelis, other people in the region. And it’s better for those people to get killed than for Americans to be attacked and killed. SS: Alright. Mr. Scheuer, thank you for this wonderful interview, we were talking to Michael Scheuer, veteran CIA officer, who used to head the Agency’s Bin Laden unit, discussing the CIA’s role in the American power balance and its influence on a country’s politics. That’s it for this edition of SophieCo, I will see you next time.

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February 28, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Why Do So Many Americans Fear Muslims? Decades of Denial About America’s Role in the World. – The Intercept

Theres been lotsofattention-grabbing opposition to Trumps Muslim ban executive order, from demonstrations to court orders. But polls make it clearpublic opinion ismuch more mixed.Standard phone polls show small majorities opposed, while web and automated polls find small majorities continue to support it. What surprises me about the poll results isnt that lots of Americans like the ban but thatso manyAmericans dont. Regular people have lives to lead and cant investigate complicated issues in detail. Instead they usually take their cues from leaders they trust.Andgiven what politicians across the U.S. political spectrum say about terrorism, Trumps executive ordermakes perfect sense. There are literally no national-level Americanpoliticians telling a story that would help ordinary people understand why Trumps goalsare both horrendously counterproductive and morally vile. Think of it this way: On February 13, 1991 during the first Gulf War, the U.S. dropped two laser-guided bombs on the Amiriyah public air raid shelter in Baghdad. More than400 Iraqi civilians were incinerated or boiled alive. For years afterward visitors to a memorial there wouldmeet a woman with eight children who had died during the bombing; she was living in the ruined shelter because she could not bear to be anywhere else. Now, imagine that immediately after the bombing Saddam Hussein had delivered a speech on IraqiTV in which he plaintively asked Why do they hate us? without ever mentioning the fact that Iraq was occupying Kuwait. And even Saddams political opponents would only mumble that this is a complicated issue. And most Iraqis had no idea that their country had invaded Kuwait, and that there were extensive United Nation resolutions and speeches by George H.W. Bush explaining the U.S.-led coalitions rationale for attacking Iraq in response. And that the few Iraqis who suggested there might be some kind of relationshipbetween Husseins invasion of Kuwait and the Amiriyah bombing were shouted down by politicians saying these Iraq-hating radicals obviously believed that Americas slaughter of 400 people wasjustified. If that had happened, wed immediately recognize that Iraqi political culture was completely insane, and that it would cause them to behave in dangerously nutty ways. But thats exactly what U.S. political culture is like. Interiors from a building in Amiriya district, a residential area on Baghdads western outskirts, after an Allied bombing on an air raid shelter by US bombers, Gulf War, Feb. 14 1991. Photo: Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images In an interviewlast Marchwith Anderson Cooper, Donald Trump tried to puzzle out whats behindthe terrorism directed at the U.S. I think Islam hates us, Trump learnedly opined. Theres a tremendous hatred there, weve got to get to the bottom of it. In Islam itself? asked Cooper. Trump responded, Youre going to have to figure that out. Youll get another Pulitzer. During Trumps speech at the CIA right after his inauguration, he expressed the same bewilderment. Radical Islamic terrorism,pondered Trump. This is something nobody can even understand. John F. Kelly, now Trumps head of the Department of Homeland Security, is similarly perplexed,saying in a 2013 speechthat I dont know why they hate us, and I frankly dont care, but they do hate us and are driven irrationally to our destruction. Say what you want about the tenets of this worldview, but at least its an internally consistent ethos: Were surrounded by lunatics who want to murder us for reasons that are totally inscrutable to rational people like us but obviously have something to do with them being Muslims. Meanwhile, in private, the non-crazy members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment arent confusedat all. They understand quite well that Islamist terrorism is almost wholly blowback from the foreign policy theyve designed. Richard Shultz, a professor at Tufts whose career has long been intertwined with the national security state,has writtenthat A very senior [Special Operations Forces] officer who had served on the Joint Staff in the 1990s told me that more than once he heard terrorist strikes characterized as a small price to pay for being a superpower. That small price, of course, is the deaths of regular Americans, and is apparently well worth it. The 9/11 Commission reportquietly acknowledged,hundreds of pages in, that Americas policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world. A senior official in the George W. Bush administration later put it more bluntlyto Esquire: That without the post-Gulf War sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden might still be redecorating mosques and boring friends with stories of his mujahideen days in the Khyber Pass. Intelligence professionals were quite aware that an invasion of Iraq would take the conditions that led to 9/11 and make them far worse. The British Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war published aFebruary, 2003 assessmentby British intelligence of the consequences of an invasion of Iraq, which would occur one month later. The threat from Al Qaida will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq, the UKs Joint Intelligence Committee told Tony Blair, and the worldwide threat from other Islamist terrorist groups and individuals will increase significantly. The CIA had the same perspective. Michael Scheuer, who for several years ran the section of the Agency that tracked bin Laden,wrote in 2004that U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Ladens only indispensable ally. For its part, the Defense Departments Science Board concluded in a2004 reportthat Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states. A Palestinian woman reacts amid destroyed buildings in the northern district of Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip during a humanitarian truce on July 26, 2014. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images When Barack Obamatook office, he had two choices. First, he could tell the truth: That the U.S. has acted with extraordinary brutality in the Middle East, that this had been the main motivation for most Islamist terrorism against us, and if we continued the same foreign policy Americans would be killed indefinitelyin intermittent attacks. Then we could have had an open, informed debate about whether we like our foreign policy enough to die for it. Second, Obama could continue trying to run the Middle Eastwithout public input, but in a more rational way than the Bush administration. Obviously he went with the second choice, which demanded several different forms of political correctness. Most importantly, Obama pretended that the U.S. has never done anything truly wrong to others, and can enjoy the benefits of power without any costs. This is the most pernicious and common form of political correctness, but is never called that because the most powerful people in America love it. But Obama also engaged in something more akin to whatsgenerally called political correctness, by contendingthat Islam hasnothingto do with terrorism. But it does just not in the way that Frank Gaffney and Pamela Geller would tell you. Religion and nationalism have always been similar phenomena, and Islam sometimes functions as a formof nationalism. Andlike all nationalisms, it has a crazy, vicious right wing thats empowered by outside attacks on members of the nation. The right loves to jeer at Obama forcalling Islama religion of peace, and they should not because Islam specifically isnt a religion of peace but because there is really no such thing, just as there is no nationalism of peace. Its true religions and nationalism canbring out the best in people, but they also bring out the worst (sometimes in the same person for the same reasons). But Obama could never say anything like that, because he knew the U.S. needs the governments of Muslim-majority countrieslike Saudi Arabia and Egypt to keep the rest of the Middle Eastin line. This amalgam of political correctness made it impossible for the Obama administration ever to tell a story about terrorism that made any sense. For instance, in his2009 speech in Cairo, he declared, It is easier to blame others than to look inward and then went on to demonstrate that truism. His description of wrongs done by the U.S. was vague to the point of meaninglessness: tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims. Also, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Obama then explained that Violent extremists have exploited these tensions. So 19 people were motivated to fly jetliners into buildings by tensions? If thats the only story that non-Muslim Americans hear, theyllrationally be terrified of Islam. In 2010, Obamas counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, emitted a similar bland puree of words at a press conference whenquestioned by Helen Thomasabout Umar FaroukAbdulmutallab, the failedunderwear bomber. Their exchange went like this: THOMAS: And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why. BRENNAN: Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents [They] attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that [theyre] able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death. THOMAS: And youre saying its because of religion? BRENNAN: Im saying its because of an al Qaeda organization that uses the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way. THOMAS: Why? BRENNAN: I think this is a, uh, long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland. At his sentencing, Abdulmutallabexplained his motivationin less time than it took Brennan to say there wasntenough time to explain: [I pledged] to attack the United States in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel and in retaliation of the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Palestine, especially in the blockade of Gaza, and in retaliation for the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond, most of them women, children, and noncombatants. To be fair, there is one situation in whichAmerican officials have lost the mushmouth and drawn a direct connection between a country killing Mideastern civilians and terrorist retaliation: when that country is Russia. William Burns, formerly Obamas Deputy Secretary of State, recently and accurately proclaimed that Russias bloody role in Syria makes the terrorist threat far worse. John Kirby, an Obama State Department spokesman, warned that Russias brutalization of Syria would lead toattacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities. Russias response to our friendly observation was about the same as ours when Russia told us before the invasion of Iraq that it would cause a wave of terror. Trump supporters demonstrate against a ruling by a federal judge in Seattle that grants a nationwide temporary restraining order against the presidential order to ban travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, at Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport on February 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images That brings us back to President Trump and his executive order on immigration. Trumps story about why its necessary is, factually speaking, garbage. But a normal human being can at least understand it and its moral: These incomprehensible foreigners are all potential psychotics, weve got to keep them out. Under these circumstances, who cares that no one from any of these seven countries has killed any Americans yet? Theyre all part of a huge morass of ticking time bombs. By contrast, the Democratic, liberal perspective laid out by Obama makes no sense at all. Weve never done anything particularly bad in the Middle East, yet some people over there want to come here and kill us because theyve been exploited by violent extremists whove perverted Islam and gotta run, theres no time to explain. Regular people couldsense that anyone mouthing this kind of gibberishwashiding something, even if they didnt realize that Obama was trying to keep the U.S. empire running rather than concealing his secret faith inIslam. And because a coherentnarrative always beats the complete absence of astory, no one should be surprised that many Americans find Trumps fantasy of inexplicable Muslim hatredpersuasive. The only way to conclusively beat it will be with a coherent, complicated, true story like this: America has done hideous things to countries across the Middle Eastfor decades, such as bomb a civilian air raid shelter, burning the silhouette of a mother trying to protect her baby onto its walls. It was inevitable that some people would seek revenge. This doesnt mean that their brutality is justified, any more than the slaughter at Amiriyah was justified by Saddam Husseins invasion of Kuwait. It just means that humans are humans, violence begets violence, and Americans will always be in danger unless we change our foreign policy. We must welcome immigrantsfrom the Middle Eastboth for moral and pragmatic reasons. Morally, the U.S. invasion of Iraq is what sent the region spiraling into catastrophe; only psychopaths set someones home on fire and then lock them inside. There are already three million Muslim American citizens. If the government keeps bombing the Middle Eastwhile making it clear that it genuinely hates Muslims, thatwill onlyspur to action more troubled weirdos likeOmar Mateen who was born in Queens, a few miles away from Donald Trumps childhood home. And wed better get started with this story soon, because it may not be true forever. Israel has done an exemplary job turning a solvable, straightforward fight over land into a religious war that may no longer have any solution. Were making similar strides in transforming a conflict that was 90 percent political, where there can be compromise, into a religious conflict where there cant. This can be seen, on the one hand, in ISIS propaganda. Bin Laden generally just talked about kicking the U.S. out of the Middle East and said thingslike, Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe. The ISIS magazine Dabiq cheerfully tells usthat We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. On the other hand, Donald Trump is president of the United States and Steve Bannon is his chief strategist. Bannon straightforwardly believes, as he told a conference at the Vatican in 2014, that were in a war of immense proportions thats part of the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam. To win, Bannon says, we must form the church militant an archaic term for the Christian church on earth regarded as engaged in a constant warfare against its enemies, the powers of evil. So its quite possible ISIS and the Trump administration can successfully collaborate on getting what they both want: a totally unnecessary, civilizational war. To stop them we have to end ourtruckling equivocation about terrorism, and start telling the truth while theres still time. Top Photo: During a memorial service in Baghdad, Iraqis gather around a bomb hole in the ceiling of the Al-Amariya shelter in 2003, where more than 400 people were killed in a U.S.-led missile attack during the Gulf War. Iraqis opened a new memorial center outside the Al-Amariya shelter to mark the 12 year anniversary of the attack.

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February 18, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Al-Qaeda Is Already Exploiting Trump’s Hawkish Foreign Policy to Help Recruit – AlterNet

Photo Credit: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula propaganda outlet Al-Malahem Al-Qaeda’s most extreme branch is using the Trump administration’s bloody first military raid in order to recruit more fighters. The leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is based in Yemen, released an audio recording in which he called President Trump a “fool,” according to the Associated Press. “The White House’s new fool has received a painful blow at your hands in his first outing on your land,” proclaimed Qassim al-Rimi, the head of the extremist group. Al-Rimi said the U.S. raid killed 25 people, including 11 women and children. (Media reportsclaim even higher numbers of casualties.) The U.S. government identified a Navy SEAL who lost his life, William Ryan Owens, and al-Rimi claimed more were wounded or killed. Among the civilian victimswas 8-year-old Nawar al-Awlaki, the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and extremist propagandist with links to al-Qaeda who was killed in an Obama administration drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, who was also a U.S. citizen, was killed in a drone attack two weeks after his father. The Trump administration’s first raid “caused more anger and hatred toward America,” explained a Yemeni government employee quoted in the Chicago Tribune. “America has no right to carry out any military action in our country,” he added. “This is a serious violation for our country’s sovereignty and is totally unacceptable.” The attack has fueled anger at the U.S. throughout Yemen, where for nearly two years, the U.S. has supported a destructive Saudi bombing campaign that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people and plunged the poorest country in the Middle East intofamine. This catastrophic U.S.-backed war has likewise amounted to a shot of adrenaline for AQAP, empowering and enrichening it after a 14-year covert U.S. drone war against the extremist group. The Trump administration, with its extremeanti-Muslim prejudices, has only continued to ramp up military intervention in Yemen, in alliance with Saudi Arabia. AQAP is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous affiliates of the global Salafi jihadist organization. It claimed credit for the January 2015 attack on the office of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. The latest AQAP propaganda audio recording is just one of the many ways in which the U.S.’s so-called war on terror has actually helped strengthen the extremist groups it purports to be fighting. Al-Qaeda has long openly used U.S. military atrocities for recruitment purposes. It taps into widespread anger at bellicose American foreign policy to attract militants to its violent sectarian cause. In the September 2011 issue of its propaganda magazine Inspire, AQAP acknowledged, “America’s subtle hatred for Islam drastically helps us.” (This is reminiscent of ISIS propaganda in which the genocidal group explicitly says it hopes to destroythe “Grayzone,” or space in which Muslims are accepted in Western societies.) The Inspire issue marked the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which it described as “the greatest operation in the history of mankind.” AQAPrejoiced at how the multi-trillion-dollar costs of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have exacerbated the government deficit and hurt the American economy. The extremist group also boasted that U.S. wars in the Middle East had essentially played into the hands of al-Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden. Its magazine quoted Michael Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer turned staunch critic of the war on terror, who recalled, “Basically Bin Ladin said jump and Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney said how high?” Anti-Iranian sentiment and sectarian bigotry against the Shia sect of Islam also pervades AQAP’s propaganda. The Trump administration has ramped up tensionagainst Shia-majority Iran, Sunni extremists’ biggest enemy, and is pushing for war with the major Middle Eastern power. A hyper-belligerent U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, like that of former President George W. Bush, threatens to further strengthen Salafi jihadist groups in the region. President Trump has made every indication that he will continue down this path. Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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February 15, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Will Latest Foreign Policy Executive Orders Drive the Country to More War? – Tenth Amendment Center

In the wee hours of the morning on Nov 9, 2016, as the returns from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania indicated a Trump victory, a wave of shock crashed over American politics. Then there was a second wave of astonishment in the wake that election night victory: the realization all the power the political left and right spent years ceding to the presidency to shape the American economy, culture, and politics might now turn on them. One such vested power is the authority to send Americans into war zones. It has been rumored that President Trump will establish safe zones in Syria; he intimated as much during his campaign. A draft of an executive order establishing safe zones was released a few weeks ago: Establishment of Safe Zones to Protect Vulnerable Syrian Populations. Pursuant to the cessation of refugee processing for Syrian nationals, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, is directed within 90 days of the date of this order to produce a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third-country resettlement. Although that provision was removed from the final EO Trump signed relating to refugees, it seems unlikely the idea is dead and it certainly wasnt excluded because the president and his advisors decided it was outside of executive authority. The fact that such an executive order was even entertained raises two immediate concerns. First, it creates opportunities for mistakes that only increase the likelihood of war with Syria, the various factions in the region, and other countries that have a stake in Syrias future. Second, that any president can send Americans into a war zone with very little oversight is a terrible indication of how much extra-constitutional power has been ceded to the president. Safe zones increase the opportunities for mistakes that can lead to larger wars. Yet, the American officials advocating for safe zones fundamentally misunderstand the nature of Americas problems with Middle Eastern countries. According to Dr. Michael Scheuer an expert on the Middle and the former CIA analyst once responsible for following Osama Bin Laden there are six answers to the question Why do they hate us? Summarily, the problem is one of regional conflict and American intervention. Safe zones will not deal with the sources of the problem because a lack of safe zones isnt the problem. Setting up safe zones will only perpetuate the violence. What if an American plane or ground troop kills a Syrian civilian or a foreign soldier? It becomes more likely that locals, the Syrian government, or the foreign government will respond by escalating attacks on Americans. This will increase an American willingness to do something, like increasing an American military presence and activities. An American safe zone in Syria cannot account for the multitude of factors that are leading to violence in Syria. Stated differently, when all decisions are left up to one person, the likelihood of misdiagnosing the problem and implementing the wrong remedy are increased. Let us put this scenario into economic terms. If a government raises the minimum wage above the market clearing price, it will, by the laws of economics, lead to unemployment. In response to calls to do something about the unemployment, the government can only raise taxes, borrow money, or print money. Any of these three responses will be ruinous to an economy; people will then call for more government intervention. The government intervention perpetuates more intervention. The two scenarios above both show the dangers of government intervention. In both cases, the central planners suffer from the Hayekian Knowledge Problem. Very simply, the knowledge problem means that one person or a group of people cannot possibly know all the factors that shape all the interactions in society. Its best to leave the decisions to the individuals or groups who are most familiar with the situation. Applying this to our question of executive orders and safe zones, the people and government of Syria should be the ones to discover the solution to their problems rather than outsiders imposing artificial boundaries. (NB: the United States government has actually played a role in destabilizing the Syrian government. So, an immediate military extrication from Syria is an important first step). The second concern is that a president thinks he is empowered to sign such a sweeping executive order because Congress has allowed so much power to be amassed by one office. Fifteen years after Congress voted to give President Bush an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against those responsible for 9/11, that authority has never been revisited. Presidents Bush, Obama, and now Trump will be using that wide-ranging authority. While a handful of members of Congress made efforts to reexamine the AUMF, there is very little interest in taking a stand. This is rightly a congressional prerogative, but while the Congress dithers the presidential powers and the use of executive orders will grow. If Congress will not act to defend the constitution then the states must step in. The state legislatures must do so even contrary of the federal governments wishes how else is the Tenth Amendment to be enforced? P.A. Deacon is a freelance blogger from Washington D.C.

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February 13, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Michael Scheuer – Wikispooks

Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA employee. In his 22-year career, he served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (aka “Alec Station”), from 1996 to 1999, the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorist Center. He then worked again as Special Advisor to the Chief of the bin Laden unit from September 2001 to November 2004. Scheuer resigned in 2004. He is currently a news analyst for CBS News and a terrorism analyst for the Jamestown Foundation’s online publication Global Terrorism Analysis.[1] He also makes radio and television appearances and teaches a graduate-level course on Al-Qaeda at Georgetown University. He also participates in conferences on terrorism and national security issues, such as the New America Foundation’s December 2004 conference, “Al Qaeda 2.0: Transnational Terrorism After 9/11.” [2] Scheuer is now known to be the anonymous author of both Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and the earlier anonymous work, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America.[3] Osama bin Laden stated in his September 7, 2007 message: His next book, planned for publication in 2008, is Marching Towards Hell: America and Islam After Iraq. Not much is known about his personal history, though Scheuer was an analyst at the CIA and not a covert field operations officer. During a recent C-SPAN interview, he mentioned that he is a graduate of Canisius College. He also received a Ph.D. in British Empire-U.S.-Canada-U.K. relations from the University of Manitoba.[4] In the 9/11 Commission Report, Scheuer is featured in Chapter 4, where his name is given only as “Mike”. He is portrayed as being occasionally frustrated with his superiors’ failure to aggressively target bin Laden. One of the theses of his most recent book, Imperial Hubris, a New York Times bestseller, was that from bin Laden’s perspective, the U.S. was attacked on 9/11 and will continue to be attacked because of a number of grievances against the U.S. and other western countries. These grievances include: U.S. support of Israel and its indifference to the Palestinians, presence of U.S. and western troops on the Arabian Peninsula, occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. and its allies, the U.S. support of countries that oppress Muslims (such as Russia, India and China), U.S. political pressure on Arab states to keep oil prices low and U.S. support for tyrannical governments. Scheuer describes his thesis this way: “Imperial Hubris is overwhelmingly focused on how the last several American presidents have been very ill-served by the senior leaders of the Intelligence Community. Indeed, I resigned from an Agency I love in order to publicly damn the feckless 9/11 Commission, which failed to find any personal failure or negligence among Intelligence Community leaders even though dozens of serving officers provided the commissioners with clear documentary evidence of that failure.” [6] In a videotape released around September 7, 2007 apparently by Osama bin Laden, he personally recommended that anyone who wants to understand why the United States is losing the war against him should read Imperial Hubris. His first book, published under the pseudonym “Anonymous”, is an analysis of the public discourse available on al Qaeda’s ideology and strategy. In it, Scheuer explores the bin Laden phenomenon and its implications for U.S. security. He began the book in 1999 as an unclassified manual for counterterrorism officers. Due to the secrecy agreement he signed as an employee of the CIA, the book is based solely on unclassified intelligence or material available from open sources such as media reports. His main thesis in the work is that the view of bin Laden as a lunatic is a form of “myopia” that limits Western military thinkers’ ability to respond to the bin Laden phenomenon. He writes that “the West’s road to hell lies in approaching the bin Laden problem with the presumption that only the lunatic fringe could oppose what the United States is trying to accomplish through its foreign policy toward the Muslim world. Bin Laden’s philosophy is slowly harnessing the two most powerful motivating forces in contemporary international affairs: religion and nationalism.” (p. 27). Scheuer describes his thesis: “[T]he crux of my argument is simply that America is in a war with militant Islamists that it cannot avoid; one that it cannot talk or appease its way out of; one in which our irreconcilable Islamist foes will have to be killed, an act which unavoidably will lead to innocent deaths; and one that is motivated in large measure by the impact of U.S. foreign policies in the Islamic world, one of which is unqualified U.S. support for Israel.” [7] The book also documents a number of areas in which Scheuer believed Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein cooperated. [8] Scheuer participated in the following exchange on the FOX News program The O’Reilly Factor: From The O’Reilly Factor, 19 January 2006[10] Michael Scheuer entered into the controversy surrounding the Mearsheimer and Walt paper on the “Israel Lobby”. He said to NPR that Mearsheimer and Walt are basically right. Israel, according to Scheuer, has engaged in one of the most successful campaigns to influence public opinion in the United States ever conducted by a foreign government. Scheuer said to NPR that “They [Mearsheimer and Walt] should be credited for the courage they have had to actually present a paper on the subject. I hope they move on and do the Saudi lobby, which is probably more dangerous to the United States than the Israeli lobby.”[5] In February, 2005, Scheuer gave an interview in which he discussed, among other things, Israeli lobbying in the United States.[6] In the interview, the following exchange took place: In the Republican Presidential Debate on May 15, 2007, presidential candidate Ron Paul stated that American foreign policy was a “contributing factor” in anti-Americanism in the Middle East. Rudy Giuliani denounced this as “absurd” and that he’d never heard such a thing before. In an interview on May 18, Michael Scheuer defended Paul, stating: “I thought Mr. Paul captured it the other night exactly correctly. This war is dangerous to America because it’s based, not on gender equality, as Mr. Giuliani suggested, or any other kind of freedom, but simply because of what we do in the Islamic World because “we’re over there,” basically, as Mr. Paul said in the debate.”[9] On May 24, 2007, Ron Paul and Scheuer held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. about the causes that led up to 9/11, American foreign policy and its implications on terrorism, security and Iraq.[10] Paul and Scheuer argued that Rudy Giuliani is wrong on security and foreign policy and provided documentation about the unintended consequences of interventionism – known to many in the intelligence world as blowback – and assigned Giuliani a reading list of foreign policy books, including Dying to Win, Blowback, Imperial Hubris and the 9/11 Commission Report.[11] On Larry King Live, September 7, 2007, Scheuer alluded to the Fox News Republican Debate of Sept 5, 2007, where a Fox News moderator accused Ron Paul of taking “marching orders” from Al Qaeda. Scheuer said, “The truth of the matter is that it is all of the Democrats and the Republicans, except perhaps for Mr. Paul and Mr. Kucinich, who are marching to Osama Bin Laden’s drum.” Larry King Live Thomas Joscelyn of Weekly Standard wrote a highly critical piece on Scheuer and an interview Scheuer did on Chris Matthews Hardball. [11] Joscelyn wrote: Scheuer wrote about the relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda in his 2002 book (see above, 2002). Yet when interviewed in 2004 he stated that he had found no evidence of a Saddam/al-Qaeda connection. Tim Russert asked Scheuer to explain the seeming contradiction on Meet the Press (30 November 2004): Scheuer explains more fully in the revised edition of his 2002 book the exhaustive study of the evidence of Iraq-al-Qaeda cooperation that eventually led him to the conclusion that there was no relationship between the two forces: In a Washington Post editorial on Sunday, April 29, 2007 (Page B01) entitled “NOW HE TELLS US – Tenet Tries to Shift the Blame. Don’t Buy It.”, Scheuer strongly criticized George Tenet’s behavior before and after both 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Scheuer also points out untruths in the way Tenet recounted his role in those situations.

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February 9, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed

Interviews – Michael Scheuer | The Torture Question …

Scheuer was a CIA agent who worked on national security issues related to Islamic extremism from 1985 until his retirement in 2004. He formed the CIA unit responsible for trying to capture Osama bin Laden and headed it from December 1995 to June 1999. Scheuer was also involved in setting up the CIA’s rendition program in which terrorist suspects are taken to a third country for interrogation. Critics argue that rendition is “outsourcing torture,” but Scheuer defends the program. He says the primary point was to get terrorist suspects who were planning an imminent attack on U.S. interests off the streets and to incarcerate them in a country willing to accept them. Those countries had to provide the U.S. with a guarantee that the suspects would be treated lawfully. “I worked in covert action for 20 years, and there was no covert action program I was involved in that was ever more scrutinized by lawyers,” he says. Here, Scheuer also describes the CIA’s perspective in its turf battles with the FBI over what to do with captured terrorist suspect Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi. “I think you have to decide what’s in the best interest of America,” he says. ” Why bother putting him through the court system in the United States when you might be able to save American lives by using him in another manner?” This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 21, 2005. Did we know a lot about [Osama bin Laden] and [Al Qaeda] in the summer of 2001? There was never a terrorist group which we knew more about in terms of goals, organization, method of operation, personnel than Al Qaeda. And that was not only true in 2001, but by the summer of 1998, we had accumulated an extraordinary array of information about this group and about its intentions. And how much of what we gathered came from interrogation? None, basically. Let me speak firsthand, what I know. Until June of 1999, the information we had gathered was either from assets that were run, penetrations that were run by the Central Intelligence Agency, signals intelligence and intelligence, which is always very important, from people who walk into you at various places around the world and deliver something. They always want something. They want protection; they want money; they want relocation. And they say in the intelligence business the worst thing is a walk-in and the best thing is a walk-in. And fortunately we had several walk-ins who were stellar and helped to fill in many gaps. So those were the three things that we got the best information from. So somebody like [Jamal] al-Fadl? Yes. I guess the FBI was basically living with him and extracting information from him. Well, initially Jamal al-Fadl was agency operation, and he gave us information that was startling, not only because of its detail, but because it began to flesh out the information we had already gathered on Osama bin Laden. And so he was as tremendous. We were very lucky. Sometimes you have to work hard, and you get lucky, and Jamal al-Fadl was a stroke of luck for us. And then shortly thereafter, within four or five months, a friendly intelligence service elsewhere in the Middle East had a similar person who they said was driving them crazy because he was giving them a lot of information that they couldn’t understand, and they asked us to take a look at it. And it corroborated basically what Jamal al-Fadl said. And both packages corroborated most of what we had collected before those two people appeared. Again, by 1998 there was no question that Al Qaeda was a group unlike any other we had ever seen. So when we get down into this territory of actionable intelligence, strategic versus tactical, help me understand the agency’s perspective and the FBI’s perspective. Well, the FBI was in a tough position, because the FBI, when it goes overseas, has to obey the laws of the countries they’re in, whether they’re in France or Ghana or Malaysia. The agency is obligated only to obey the laws of the United States. We’re statutorily empowered to break any other law in the world in the defense of American interests and citizens. So our view of how things are done is necessarily different and statutorily different than the FBI does. The FBI always likes to build a case and arrest somebody and put them in jail in the United States. Well, it doesn’t work that way overseas. And so the FBI was always in a position where they would like to arrest someone, but another police force, especially in the Third World, doesn’t allow the FBI to come into the country and run the show. And you know from the way American law works, when someone is arrested, the FBI officer involved has to be able to testify in court that he was there when it happened, and the man was not abused; the man was not roughed up; the man was not deprived or tortured or anything like that. So it very seldom happens that that can be done in a Third World country. In addition, some of the most important information we get from people who are captured comes in either hardcopy documents or documents on a laptop or a Palm Pilot or a floppy disk or a CD-ROM. Again, for American courts, the FBI officer has to swear that he was there when that information was picked up, and he had, if you will, rode herd on it over the whole process. It was never tampered with; it was never changed; it was never added to or subtracted from. Both of those almost always are a non-starter in the Third World. The Kuwaiti police or the Kuwaiti intelligence service are not going to let the FBI knock the door in and go in and make sure the chain of custody is correct. So because that’s so impossible overseas, the FBI M.O. is seldom, I would say, applicable. And that devolves the issue to the Intelligence Service: How do you take care of these people? How do you get these people off the street? And then we move into an area where the CIA is the lead agency. And you have to, a lot of times, improvise ways of trying to find people you can put away. Describe for me, if you will, the political environment and the way that it felt different, if it did to you, post-9/11. There was a tremendous amount of rhetoric about — I remember the [CIA’s] chief of [counterterrorism], Cofer Black, saying he wanted bin Laden’s head brought to him on ice, or we want flies on their eyes. There’s a lot of that kind of warrior rhetoric that came out. But at the end of the day, the U.S. intelligence community is palsied by lawyers, and everything still depends on whether the lawyers approve it or not. So there was some broadening of the target set in terms of people who could be captured. But generally speaking, the rendition program, which I presume is what you’re talking about, remained the same as it was since it was devised in 1995. It isn’t only what I’m talking about. I’ve read and talked to the lawyers of the Department of Justice, the lawyers at the White House, the lawyers at the Defense Department, the JAGs [judge advocates general] — everybody — about this notion of a new legal paradigm, a much broader war powers [resolution] for the president of the United States; a broader definition of torture, for example; a much more aggressive view of what to do, whether to follow Geneva or not, all of those kinds of broader issues. Did you feel that shift in any way? There was a small broadening in what you could do in terms of trying to get someone to talk, but none of them ever approached what anyone would describe as torture. Sleep deprivation and that sort of thing was broadened, but in terms of what you see in Hollywood, of thumbscrews and the Chinese water torture and that kind of thing, it just didn’t happen. And I think a big part of the reason it didn’t happen is the agency has long held that torture gets you virtually nothing. People tell you what you want to hear, or they tell you information that’s accurate but very dated, and ultimately ties you in knots and doesn’t move the process ahead anywhere. Is that the view inside the agency [about] interrogation? I think so. Yes, we were eager to talk to these people, clearly. But yesterday and today, there’s kind of three tiers of importance. The most important thing in ’95 and as we talk in July of 2005 is to get these people off the street. That’s the single most important thing, the idea, of course, being to protect America and Americans. The second most important is to grab, when they’re arrested, whatever paper, hardcopy documents or electronic media they have with them, because in that media is going to be information they never expected the Central Intelligence Agency to be reading. The third thing is to talk to them. But anything we get in the third level is gravy, for several reasons. First of all, Al Qaeda has trained their fighters that they have only two end points. One is to be a martyr on the battlefield and die, and he’ll go to heaven. The other one is to be a martyr in the prison of the United States or one of its allies, and God will be just as happy with that. So they’re ready to die. The jihad doesn’t stop because they’re in jail. The second thing is we’re very confident, through captured documents and manuals, that these people are trained to dissemble under interrogation or, as we mentioned earlier, to tell you a lot of very true and accurate information, but stuff that’s dated and won’t advance the cause. And the third thing is [people] too often forget that most of these people grew up in police states. They’re used to being roughed up by the police with no concern at all for human rights or physical security, and so they’re very tough individuals. And there’s nothing that we’re going to do that’s going to approach what the Saudis would do, for example, to a prisoner. So on that basis, the talking to them is probably the least important of the goals. So now let’s take the moment where we’ve decided to go to Afghanistan. I’ve heard stories of CIA guys walking around cherry-picking high-value terrorists I guess, HVTs, and saying: “These are our guys. We need to talk to them. We recognize them. We’ve heard about them.” Give me the CIA’s rules of the road at that moment, in just the fog of the early war in Afghanistan. As I saw it, the goal remained the same: We wanted to pay attention to the most senior people we could find, because the goal was to find people within circles that might have knowledge of forthcoming attacks on the United States and/or information leading to the location of [Ayman] al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, take your pick. And so we were, I think, focused on that, finding those levels of people. For the rest of the people, they turned the game over to the amateurs. The people who went to Gitmo, as far as I understand, were the people who were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The military and the FBI took people to various places and tried to debrief them as if everybody on the battlefield in Afghanistan would have knowledge of the next 9/11 attack, whereas most of the people that were picked up in Afghanistan were insurgent fighters, guys who might be able to tell you about the organization of Al Qaeda’s insurgent arm, what kind of weapons they were trained on. But none of them, virtually none of them, had any knowledge whatsoever useful to either a) preventing an attack on America, or b) locating al-Zawahiri and bin Laden. And you knew that going in. Well, we did know it going in, but it’s been a very hard sell in the United States government to say: “Listen, Al Qaeda is not a traditional terrorist group. Seventy-five percent of Al Qaeda does insurgency. The people you’re going to pick up on the ground in Afghanistan fighting American forces in the Northern Alliance are not the guys that have anything to do with the East Africa bombings, the [USS] Cole or 9/11. And so don’t waste your time. Put them in a prison camp, but they’re not going to help you stop the next 9/11.” But that’s a really hard sell in Washington, because bureaucratically Al Qaeda has to fit in the terrorist category because that’s the category that’s available. There’s no other one. So it’s a very difficult thing for an intelligence officer to convince his masters that they really need to think in new ways bureaucratically. Now, there’s a story that gets told about Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, [who] apparently ran a training camp for Al Qaeda. [He] gets swept up in the war. The FBI has him, and a couple of other guys are debriefing him and getting what they can and making a case about it. And the way the story goes, there’s some Washington wrangling, and he is [taken by the CIA to another country for interrogation]. Tell me what you know [about] that story. Yeah, well, that could be true, but I don’t know for sure one way or another. But the real point to make is that once we have him, who cares about a case? What you want from that individual is to try to get information that will lead you to another success either on the battlefield or in some other way. And debriefing someone in order to build a case is a very constricting exercise, because you want to know information, but you only want to know information that makes your case work. And once you have that, in my experience, the FBI won’t let you talk to anyone. So I think you have to decide what’s in the best interest of America. Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was in the senior echelon of Al Qaeda’s leaders. He was under arrest; he was not going anywhere. Why bother putting him through the court system in the United States when you might be able to save American lives by using him in another manner? If there is a contest between the FBI and the CIA, it’s primarily over that kind of issue, that what are you after here, just another scalp, just another guy in the maximum-security prison in Denver or Colorado or wherever it is, or are you trying to unravel this enemy? And so there’s always a conflict there. So did they take Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi? I have to tell you, I don’t know. I hope they did, because I think he’d be much more valuable in CIA hands than in FBI hands. So now let’s talk a little bit about rendition, understanding that it starts in ’95, continues on through 2001. Is it any different after Sept. 11 as a program, as an idea, as an anything, than it was in 1995? I think it is, and I think we spoke earlier about it. The ability to interrogate people using U.S. officers, using intelligence officers is new, because primarily in the past, we had been the broker between the entity that arrested an individual and the entity that was going to take him and try him. Physical contact, even conversational — it almost never occurred. And I think what that reflects is the lack of importance we attached to interrogation at that point. We wanted him off the street, and we wanted his documents. If something came from the interrogation by another country, we’re happy to have it, but we didn’t expect much from it. Does interrogation become more important after 9/11? Well, sure. I don’t know if it becomes more important, but it becomes more of the responsibility of the agency. The politicians want the interrogation to be done by U.S. intelligence officers instead of by a Middle Eastern service or a European service, or whoever is going to incarcerate the person. And so it changes in that manner. I’m not sure if it’s a change for the better or not, but it was a change mandated from above. And the political pressure to get more actionable information — we need it, we need it, we’ve got to have it. Yeah. There’s certainly that push after 9/11 — understandably so. And there’s certainly within the agency a desire to do all we could to further the defense of America. We haven’t done this yet, but define what rendition meant post-9/11. I think it means the same thing as it did before 9/11. [Rendition] is to identify individuals whom we knew were either ready to participate in an attack on the United States or was involved in planning an attack. The emphasis again, from ’95 to ’05, is to get that person off the street. The second emphasis, again, [that] is extraordinarily important is hardcopy documents and electronic documents. The importance of interrogation, of interviewing, interrogation, questioning, rises after 9/11 because policy-makers at the NSC [National Security Council], at the White House, around the community begin to insist that U.S. intelligence officers do the interrogation rather than letting third countries do it. Why? There’s a natural tendency to want your own people to do things. You sometimes think they do them better; they’re smarter. There’s an element of condescension in it, the assumption that an American can do anything better than an Egyptian or a Pakistani. And also a great thirst to have information that we could smack Al Qaeda and the Taliban with. So there are a combination of things resulting in more U.S. intelligence officers being directly involved in the interrogation. So the common understanding — that is, the kind of general sense of rendition — is guys are somehow grabbed, cherry-picked off the Bagram Air Force Base warehouse and ghosted, put on an airplane, a Gulfstream V, and sent into never-never land forever, never to be heard from again. How close is that to reality? I don’t think it’s all that close to reality. I think the numbers are small. The question, of course, of whether they’re held forever and ever after 9/11 is not an issue that has anything to do with the Central Intelligence Agency; it has to do with the people we work for. CIA, after all, is a service organization. The direction was find, apprehend and hold senior members of Al Qaeda and try to find out what they know about coming attacks against the United States. Salute, do your job, but at the end of the day, the problem remains: What does the United States government want to do with these people? And if there’s a problem — and there is, if you read the media — the problem is not with the agency; the problem is with the politicians who have decided that that’s the program they want to execute. So I think there’s many people in the agency that are concerned with just this question. When we set up the program, we said: “Listen, we’re not jailers. We don’t have arrest authority. Where do you want these people taken?” The NSC at that time said, “Well, over to you.” And we said: “No, you don’t get it. We don’t do these things.” And they said, “Over to you.” And so we had to design a program that would accommodate the inability to bring these people to the United States. Why couldn’t they come to the United States? Primarily because the way they were taken was not consonant with legal processes in the United States. And the National Security Council apparently decided that they didn’t want to go through the trouble of working with the Congress to find ways to bring them to the United States as prisoners of war, as enemy combatants, whatever. And so the agency was left with a situation where we had direction to take these people off the street and break up Al Qaeda cells, but we also had to find places where they could be arrested and then places where they could be taken for incarceration. So it was a very difficult process, but we did it admirably. The American people today, though it’s hard to believe, are very much safer because the agency has been involved in this practice for the past 10 years. So help me practically understand what it means to take people off the streets, put them somewhere. Once we had the assignment from Mr. [Samuel] Berger and Mr. [Richard] Clarke and the president in ’95, we had to address ourselves to what is the universe of Al Qaeda people? Senior operators that we know through intelligence are either engaged in preparing an attack against the United States or will participate in an attack when it comes. So the first thing you do is identify that set, that universe. Then, because we could not bring those people to the United States, we had to meet several requirements. First, we had to identify a person who was worth incarcerating. Second, that person had to be in a country that was willing to help us arrest him. Third, that person had to be wanted in a third country in a legal process. Either a warrant had to be issued for him, or he had been tried in absentia. … For example, if we found an Al Qaeda member of X nationality in country Y, we would first have to persuade country Y to arrest him and then persuade country X to accept him from country Y. And really, the agency’s role was a brokering role, trying to mediate between those two. And that’s what renditions were about. And that’s how they were done. It wasn’t just reaching out and grabbing someone. Lord knows there are hundreds of Al Qaeda people we would have liked to take off the street, but we couldn’t do it because we couldn’t make them fit into the mold of acceptable operations. And post-9/11, is there anything different about that program? There is, because now the U.S. government is willing to hold these people at its various incarceration sites around the world. You can pick them up. If you identify them, you still have to build a case that satisfies the lawyers. The lawyers are involved in every step of this process. I worked in covert action for 20 years, and there was no covert action program I was involved in that was ever more scrutinized by lawyers, not only at the agency, but at DOJ — Department of Justice — and NSC. You still have to build a legal case against them. Prove that they’re bad guys, and then you can pick them up. But still we’re in this position where kind of the horse is out of the barn. These guys now are very much aware that every aspect of the American government is chasing them, so they’re much harder to find, identify and pick up than they were before 9/11. So although we have rules of engagement that are a little bit broader, the target is tougher because it’s more cognizant of the need to hide. And I think the perception is that once you get one of these high-value terrorists — and because you’re the CIA you know they are high-value terrorists in a lot of cases — they will be treated to much harsher, more draconian, more whatever methods. I think that certainly is the perception, and I think the manner in which they are treated probably is different from the way someone is treated if he’s arrested for stealing in a store here in the United States. But again, I don’t really have a quarrel with people being upset with that process. What I have a quarrel with is that the agency really has nothing to do with that. That’s been decided, approved and blessed by numerous lawyers in the United States government. And at the end of the day, I think agency officers would prefer to see these people treated as prisoners of war, because the results of interrogation are not monumentally important. We come back to the primary things, getting them off the street and getting their documents. The one thing that is worthwhile, strangely enough, is to engage these people in discussions with no physical attributes at all. Al Qaeda is generally a middle-class and an upper-middle-class organization, men from good families, men who have had education, at least high school, many BAs and many with graduate degrees. And they are extraordinarily proud of the work they’re doing. And they’re also very cognizant of being a part of Islamic history and resisting the infidel. And probably some of the best intelligence we have gotten from these men is by having officers who know a lot about what they’re up to and how it fits into the course of Islamic history. In just discussing with them the context in which they have lived and worked, you gain a very significant amount of information and insight into their motivation, into their mind-set, into their dedication, into their patience and perseverance. And I think maybe that’s probably the most important part of talking to these people. … It probably is really hard, even in the post-9/11 period, to find places to put them. I think that’s fair enough. And also you’re faced with shooting yourself in the foot, because the information you get from them is probably worth having, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the pain you get from the rest of the world. If they were treated as we treated Japanese prisoners of war, German prisoners of war, let the Red Cross come in and see them in their little stockades, I think we’d be better off. I think the American people would then realize what a tremendous boon to their interests the rendition program has been. One of the great problems, of course, in detaining people like this is how long you detain them. That’s exactly right. The agency kind of has made that point repeatedly along the course of events, because incarceration basically makes them harder. Guantanamo from the very beginning has been training the toughest, most dedicated and probably the most healthy battalion of mujahideen that there ever existed, because those people are going to go back to their societies, and they’re going to be heroes. They got captured by the Americans, they withstood the interrogation and the imprisonment, and now they’re back, and they’re going to go back to fighting. We’ve seen, I think, about a dozen cases of Afghans and Pakistanis who were released from Guantanamo who have turned up fighting the Americans on the battlefield again. You mean because they’ve been radicalized — No. Simply because they have no perception that they’re doing anything wrong. One of the great mistakes Americans make is that somehow these people are going to be contrite when we capture them. And the FBI is constantly surprised by — they offer an Islamic militant deal if he’ll rat out someone, and the guy says to him: “What? I’m proud of this. I want my parents to know that I helped to blow up the East African embassies or helped to almost destroy the Cole.” So it’s a whole different mind-set. … [It’s been reported that al-Libi] and others have been taken to Egypt, taken to Morocco, taken to Jordan. Do we know that that’s actually happened, that the agency has taken people into those places? I’ve explained to you, no one can be moved to a third country unless that country has an outstanding legal process for them. In the media it’s often portrayed that if an Al Qaeda person is captured, the agency wants to take him to the place where he’ll be tortured the most. And that’s a crock. Because of what the lawyers and the U.S. government have decided, people can be picked up if they’re wanted somewhere in the world. And it happens that Al Qaeda, being a Muslim organization, is made up mostly of people from Muslim countries. And so if you’re going to do this, you’re going to have to deal with Saudis, Kuwaitis, Jordanians, Algerians, Moroccans, Egyptians. There’s not many people in the government of Ireland that are going to want a lot of Egyptian terrorists coming to Dublin for incarceration. It doesn’t work that way. Are you saying definitively as you know that the agency is not taking Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other guys to countries we know do bad stuff because we statutorily or culturally can’t do it, and we’re letting other countries do it, and we’re turning a blind eye toward that? No, I’m not saying that at all. And I can only speak for the period that I was in charge. We took people to the countries of their origin in the Middle East if those countries had a legal process outstanding for them and were willing to take them. Now, in every case, the lawyers at the CIA, the NSC and the DOJ insisted that we get a guarantee from the government who was accepting the person that that person would be treated according to the laws of that country, not to the laws of the United States, but to the laws of take your pick — Morocco, Egypt, Jordan. So yes, people were taken to those countries. But again, that’s the way the system was set up. That’s the way the legal system in our government wanted it run. … I talked to somebody [who] said a lot of times, high-ranking guys know that the Egyptians are very sophisticated about a certain kind of torture, that there is torture in Morocco or Jordan. So an environment can be created almost anywhere, in Pakistan, that feels like Egypt — the picture on the wall, the music out the window. Can you imagine such a thing? Yeah, I can imagine all kinds of things. But I have to tell you that in my experience working with Middle Eastern services, whether they’re Egyptians or Moroccans, and in for a long time, for almost 20 years, torture is never the first option. The first option is relentless questioning, re-questioning, questioning again and checking what was said. I’m not going to be a fool and tell you that there’s no physical part involved in this, but the Egyptians and the Jordanians are not thugs; they’re professional intelligence officers with a different set of rules of engagement than we have. But the idea that they get any useful information from torturing people is probably greatly exaggerated. I worked with a particular Middle Eastern country for the better part of 15 years, and the people who were working the issue at the start were working it at the end. The people who were working it on the U.S. side who were working with the end are sitting across from you at the moment. The value that other services put on expertise is astounding. America has no use for expertise. We are all supposed to be generalists. It’s generally a career killer if you choose to be an expert. So it’s very easy to assume that it’s bamboo under the fingertips and electronic juice applied to various parts of your body. But it’s much more sophisticated than that. The people who do the questioning are knowledgeable to the point that they are the peer of the person that they have in custody. [How effective is the military at gathering intelligence?] I think to make the point, the military was given a job that was not really their job. And part of the emphasis on this need for actionable intelligence comes from a bipartisan imperative among American leaders not to use their military to its full power, not to kill a lot of people or suffer any casualties. So instead, we’ve reduced the intelligence process to try to find the silver bullet, the one piece of intelligence from one of these captives that will allow us to kill bin Laden and make all of this bad stuff go away. It’s an endeavor not only to gather information, but [to] prevent us from looking bad if you believe that using our military ruthlessly is a bad thing. And so we talk to the gomers that come out of Afghanistan who are insurgent fighters as if they were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed potentially. And to turn that over to the military, which you said was a blunt instrument, results in things like Abu Ghraib or some of the things that happened in Guantanamo. I personally don’t think that any of those things are irredeemable evil. They’re stupid. They’re not going to result in any intelligence. And they certainly degraded the prisoners. But it all goes back to a mind-set that there is a piece of information out there that’s going to make this nightmare stop, and we can wake up and go ahead with morning in America. And it’s not going to happen. But politicians are not convinced of that yet. You’re a man who lived and breathed information, sifting it, understanding it, trying to get it. Do you think Gitmo is the environment to get any information? Well, if you’re looking for the right information, Gitmo in a sense was an opportunity that’s been lost. We put together in Gitmo for the first time … people who knew about Al Qaeda’s insurgent organization. What those people should have been was a laboratory for us to find out about how insurgents are trained, what weapons they’re trained to use. Are they trained in celestial navigation? What kind of combat medicine? To assemble almost an order of battle, information packet, so the military will know when they go on the field to fight insurgents how the enemy is organized. Instead we spent the entire time to today looking for the guy who is the cousin of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who knows what’s going after 9/11. So I think it’s a mistake. It’s a mistake because of the questions we didn’t ask. We had a good audience for information, a good mass of people to gather information we needed, but not about the next 9/11, about the men we’re fighting now on the ground in Afghanistan and in Iraq, for example, the insurgents. So when Secretary of Defense [Donald] Rumsfeld called them “the worst of the worst,” what does that mean to you? It means what it always means: He doesn’t have a clue about what he’s fighting or why he’s fighting it. They continue to believe that they think that we’re being fought because we love freedom and liberty, instead of what we do in the Islamic world. And they’re going to go to their graves, and maybe taking the nation with them, believing that nonsense. Are they an enemy that needs to be defeated? Absolutely. But, like any other enemy, you’d better understand them, or they’re going to whip you. And we’re getting whipped.

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January 30, 2017   Posted in: Michael Scheuer  Comments Closed


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