Bridgegate versus Benghazi – A Story of a Press Corps worthy of Pravda

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The truth is, Pravda is more honest today, but I am referring to the Pravda of the bad old days of the Soviet Union, when it was the laughingstock of the country.

The media had created a maelstrom with the Bridgegate scandal. Editorial writers are weighing in all over the country on the fate of Governor Christie. And yet compared to the real scandals of the nation this sensationalism is an anthill. Our press is doing the equivalent of what Pravda and Izvestia did to Stalin’s enemies when he liquidated them.

Just this morning, the State Department confirmed that Sufian bin Qumu, a former Guantanamo detainee, was one of the planners’ of the attack in Benghazi and that Al Q’aeda was behind it. The president of Libya told us this on December 13, 2012 and the New York Times said so on the 11th based upon US government sources. On September 26th, 2012 The Daily Beast outlined the case emphatically.

So we have a Gitmo detainee who should obviously not have been released and confirmation of what the press initially published. We have a President who knowingly lied. We have a SecState who knowingly lied. We have a UN ambassador who is now the National Security Advisor who knowingly lied.

All of them blamed an obscure video. Hillary even filmed an apology to the Pakistani people for the video that was aired in the country, God knows why.

4 Americans died in a premeditated attack by terrorists.

Robert Gates account, it was “low level” White House staffers who were trying to give the orders to the military, which never came. Remember, the President claimed that he went up to the White House personal quarters at 5:30 after speaking with Panetta  and did not come down until the next morning. In the middle of a crisis. The victims of Benghazi fought for hours afterwards and help never came. The US Ambassador’s body was dragged through the streets.

Hillary then stood before Congress and shouted ” The fact is; we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?” This was over one year after the attack when the facts had established without a doubt. Crickets.

The White House is still hiding witnesses and punishing those who testified before Congress. The FBI case, which was announced shortly after the attack was a farce.

All of these facts have been established. The trail of crumbs is clear. There has been great malfeasance at the very top of our government. But somehow, it’s all about a 4 day lane closure 24/7. 20 to 30 times the coverage of Benghazi and growing by the day.

Our press and media being in the tank has reached a new low. Joe Stalin would be proud.

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This is not Iraq, and this is not Afghanistan,” Obama said.

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This is not Pakistan. This is not Somalia. This is not Yemen. This is not Libya; he should have continued.

We are waging war all through Western Asia and Africa. mainly against terrorists but we also took on Muammar Ghadaffi and now Bashar al Assad; the legitimate leaders of their respective countries.

We are still waiting on the case against Ghadaffi and for honest answers on the impending anniversary of the Benghazi massacre.

For a president who pledged to push the “reset” button, Mr. Obama has become the most warlike leader our country has ever known. In May he declared the “War on Terror”, which he had renamed “contingency operations”, over. Now he wants to go once again to war.

He drew a red line in the sand and then redrew it again and yet we still do not have a compelling case nor a desired end state for an operation in Syria.

The Syrians, Iranians, and Russians have promised a wider war should we act. Russian destroyers have been located to the Mediterranean near Syria to back this threat up, and the Iranians have promised missile strikes on Israel. We are in a high stakes poker game and Mr. Obama is the mark.

In the background the Saudi Arabians and Gulf Arabs are supporting some form of moderate resistance in Syria to counter Iran, but are unable to rein in the Islamist extremists. There is a tri-polar political conflict between the Sunni moderates; the Islamists and the neo-Iranian Empire. And then comes the ROW (Rest of World).

In reading the political history of the Ottoman Empire in the late 1700’s and 1800’s one can begin to understand the complexities and importance of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Ottomans balanced constantly changing relationships very similar to today.

The dream of empire by Napoleon in Egypt and the changing alliances of the Ottomans with the British Empire, the Tsar, and Napoleon, especially with the fates of subject peoples such as the Greeks, Moldovans, Armenians, Bulgarians, Syrians, etc in constant play required that the Sultanate despite is decrepitude and corruption be upheld.

Now,  200 years later the chronological snobbery of the new great powers is leading to an even more volatile end state. Under the Sultan, Shia and Christian and Sunni were allowed to practice their faiths but now we have a state of religious civil war at hand. Egypt narrowly missed being drawn into the maelstrom. Libya is in constant tribal conflict.

But Syria represents a new Karbala, a call to the front lines for Sunni vs. Shia.

But this time the dark shadows of modern warfare overhang everything. Chemical warfare, air strikes, and heavy artillery generate massive casualties very rapidly. Syria is tearing itself apart with the help of a wide range of outside enablers. A dictator willing to use all means at his disposal is fighting to hang on.

And in Washington and Moscow and the West there is no clearly iterated reason for our involvement. We cannot abide the use of chemical weapons except when we can, as we did with Saddam Hussein’s use of poison gas versus the Iranians and his own people.

Mr. Obama means well, but the sad fact remains that the down side in getting involved in Syria is much greater than the up side.

 

Reading the Hieroglyphics in Egypt

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The world’s press is focused today on Cairo, where hundreds are dead in the crackdown by the military on the Muslim Brotherhood. Our government is at cross purposes and complicating this is a visceral hatred of the Obama Administration, and by extension, our government, by a vast majority of Egyptians.

In this country some cry for a complete cutoff of American aid and on the other side there is silence in the face of what must realistically be called a massacre.

But we must remember that there is a much larger game in play. It involves Iran and radical Sunni Islam. It is a battle for power. Part of it is being played in Syria, where the civil war has spilled into Lebanon and Iraq. Part of it is the continued attempts at destabilization in the Gulf States. Part of is the destabilization of states as far away from each other as Yemen and Afghanistan and Iraq. It also affects Israel.

Much of this is about a new Persian Empire. Iran with the support of Russia has been behind Shiite resistance in a number of states including Bahrain. The Muslim faith has been manipulated in the interests of temporal power time and again, and the vision of a new Persepolis still resonates in Qom and Teheran. The Salafist dream of a new caliphate is in direct conflict with this.

Events in Egypt play against the backdrop of the Syrian civil war, where the opposition has been recently reinforced by heavy weaponry from the Gulf. Remember the 20,000 M-16’s that disappeared from a Kuwaiti arsenal? They are now in play, but we don’t yet know where. Hezbollah has doubled down in Syria and the Sunnis in Lebanon are commuting to the war. Iraqi Shiites fighting in Lebanon are called Iran’s Foreign Legion. Former Egyptian president Morsi lent his support to radical Egyptian imam’s calls for volunteers.  Iran cannot afford to lose for it will affect their power everywhere.

The Western powers are dithering in their support of the rebels. The Sunni states are not. Disorder in Egypt is antithetical to their strategic interests.

The Iranian government is waging a proxy war on many fronts. Five years into our own administration, our Middle Eastern policy is incoherent and does not seem to recognize this. The Iranians have their fingers in many pies and the enemy of one’s enemy is one’s friend whether it is supporting the Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan or shipping arms to terrorists in Sinai and to Hamas in Gaza. The art of war can be ecumenical at times. Instability in Egypt, Jordan and other states is to the advantage of Iran.

What is certainly forming is a major Sunni – Shia conflict driven by Iranian expansionism. The Israeli fears of the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran also factor in for it is not just the Israelis, but all of Iran’s neighbors who have now become nervous. This ups the ante in Egypt even more.

The King of Saudi Arabia spoke forcefully today in support of the Army in Egypt. Stability in the heart of the Arab world is paramount in the face of multiple threats. Reuters reports this morning that the Muslim Brotherhood has been behind a persecution of Copts and other Christians in the country with 62 churches, schools, monasteries and other buildings burned down along with hundreds of businesses and hundreds dead.

What we are seeing in Egypt is the reaction to the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to create an Islamist state in the face of the opposition of the overwhelming majority of the people.

I spoke last night with a friend whose family is at the heart of the Egyptian establishment. His cousins, nephews, nieces and friends were in Tahrir square when the Mubarak regime fell. The are a mix of secular and religious Muslims, but they are all Egyptian nationalists with a very international perspective. They are clued in at every level to the events of the past 2 years.

From his conversations with friends and family he said 80% of the people oppose the Brotherhood vehemently. The Brotherhood attempted to change the government, the courts and the constitution as soon as they took power. The country has fallen into crisis because of the instability at the top. Ordinary citizens are fearful of Brotherhood thugs.

He also said that over 50 soldiers and police have been killed in the past 2 days. The army has been seizing Brotherhood weapons caches all over Cairo and elsewhere which include heavy weapons. They have been arresting Chechen, Afghan and Pakistani Islamist soldiers in Cairo. There is a lot more going on than is being reported in the Western press.

It has been reported that the Israelis and Egyptian Army have been working very closely to contain Islamic radicals in the Sinai who can move towards either Cairo or Tel Aviv if not contained. Again, these are mainly foreign fighters.

Egypt has had a taste of the Brotherhood for almost exactly one year, and that was enough. The Muslim Brotherhood is a violent organization. Members have staged numerous terrorist attacks against Egyptian leaders, including the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. Evidence of a parallel fighting force and the hard-line tactics used by Morsi to accrete power had the country on edge for months. North Africa is awash in weapons from Libya. Conditions for a civil war were ripe.

The evidence so far in Egypt indicates the overwhelming sentiment that the Army is the savior of the country. General al Sisi commands the respect of the vast majority of Egyptians and is beholden to no one, especially our government. He is governing the country together the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar University, considered one of the most important Islamic leaders, and the Coptic Pope, Tawadros II. This is seen as a unity government despite the resignation of Mohammed El Baradei.

The Syrian war is spilling into Iraq and Lebanon. Libya is still a seething cauldron. We cannot afford instability in Egypt as well. And remember, as the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan there may be thousands of Islamist warriors willing to move on to the next jihad.

The Muslim Brotherhood will not go easily, but they will nonetheless go. Egypt does not want an Islamist state. They do not want religious repression. The Egyptian people do not identify with extremism. And they do not want our meddling or manipulation or incompetence. They want and need our humanitarian aid.

Our foreign policy has been playing checkers while the real game of chess has been ignored.

 

 

Yumpin Yemeni!

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Way back in the day when our ethnic groups used to self deprecate, Jumpin Jiminey was was an exclamation used by the Nordic ethnic groups. Today, in our great excitement, it seems our defense and political leaders have pulled the emergency handle on Yemen.

It seems that the NSA overheard a conference call between Ayman al Zahawari and his contacts in Yemen, Iraq, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, and elsewhere. He basically told them to “do something” from the news reports. Al Q’aeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been a special concern of the United States ever since Anwar al Awlaki decamped there, running much of the global organizations recruiting efforts.

Al Awlaki was the magical connection between 9/11 and the Ft. Hood bombings and the London bombings.He conducted a high-profile radicalization program in the UK from 2002-2004 before moving to Yemen to further the goals of Al Q’aeda. He recruited hundreds of  fighters and was one of our most dangerous enemies. It was a good thing that a Hellfire missile found him and sent him on his way to Allah.

He was hiding out in his family’s traditional tribal area of Yemen; Shabwa, which was one of the areas of the Aden Protectorate at the time where the British military fought a low-grade war for many years in the 1950’s and 60’s, primarily against the communists and the tribes associated with Gamal Nasser’s pan-Arabist movement. A perverse coincidence but indicative of the culture of warfare.

South Yemen is a land of treachery and vendetta and home-grown terrorism long before the was an Al Q’aeda. During the Emergency the two major rebel organizations fought each other and the British, tossing hand grenades into British children’s parties and in on case blowing up an airliner full of civilians. Shabwa was a major center of insurgency. Today it is no different.

Nasir al Wuhayshi, the leader of AQAP is from Mukayras not far from al Awlaki’s Shabwa. he was ignored for the most part by intelligence services in favor of al Awlaki and other high value targets. He was Bin Laden’s secretary, probably the person closest to the terrorist mastermind for the longest period of time. Bin Laden’s Boswell, if you will.

Now he is the head terrorist in charge in the wildest, most violent corner of the world. It is a country with a little bit of oil and a useful port and that’s about it. AQAP is much more interested in infiltrating Saudi Arabia next door, but it is a safe haven for the bomb makers.

al Wuhayshi’s family connections as well as al Awlaki’s are vital to AQAP. They extend  into the very heart and soul of Yemeni identity. The al Awlaki clan is among the most powerful in south Yemen. And underlying all of this is the hatred between North and South Yemen.

The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) was the only socialist country in the Middle East, primarily because of the union movement when it was called Aden under the British. It had a history of intrigue and violence that would make a great movie.

So you have North Yemen, formerly run by the sheikhs and traditional in nature and South Yemen, which was ruled for 20 years under a radical Marxist, xenophobic regime. And in the hinterlands, the tribes, who never changed.

Many reporters are now writing about losing Yemen. This is absurd. We never had Yemen to begin with. Our strategic interest is to, as the British did, suppress piracy and to keep Al Q’aeda bottled up like bees in a jar. Cut off their travel options. Let them trash their own country and forget about them. And if they ever try to pull something, lay waste to them.

Look Imam! I’m on top of the World!

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The afternoon’s UK Independent reports exclusively that Iran is now sending 4,000 troops to Syria to support Bashar al Assad. Al Jazeera reports that Egypt has cut diplomatic ties and is demanding a “no fly” zone. Assad has received crucial backing from Russia and Iran and China, and with his victory in al Qusayr and support from Hezbollah  is now going for the jugular.

Lebanon is being dragged even further into the war but the Sunnis have no leadership.

In the meantime the United States has promised small arms and the U.K. and France are pleading poverty.

What we are about to see is the triumph of authoritarianism. The West is weak and dissolute while the axis of Russia, China, Iran, and even Venezuela has grown more powerful. This is not just about Sunni – Shia, but about geopolitics writ large. The same alliance that challenged the Bush Administration is in place to put the Middle East oil patch in “check”.

Turkey is self absorbed. Israel is threatened and while Hamas has been kicked to the curb for the time being by Iran, the Sunni Ummah will be outraged and will not sit still. And most of our government is now on summer hours and being run by rank amateurs.

Despite the promising election results in Iran this morning nothing has changed. The country is run by the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guard, Assad’s most important supporters. Iranian officers are rumored to have replaced many of the senior defectors from the Assad regime.

Unless there is a decisive punch thrown soon on behalf of the rebels they will have lost. Hezbollah will have been strengthened. Assad will be completely beholden to Iran and Russia, and Iran will have extended its naked power to the Mediterranean.

With the threat to accelerate to building 30 bombs per month, the mullahs in Qom will feel unassailable, much like Jimmy Cagney in Public Enemy. “Look Imam! I’m on top of the world!” And this time we are living with a geopolitical power structure that lets the bad guys win.

Iran is winning in Syria and we are screwing it up

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If you haven’t noticed, Hezbollah has changed the tide of the Syrian civil war. Their troops with the Government forces took back Qusair, a key junction for supplying the rebel forces. More than 50 people were killed, including many civilians as artillery shells dropped on the town at a rate of over 50 per minute.

Qusair is 6 miles from the Lebanese border, where fighting has been going on in Tripoli for at least 3 weeks. On the other side of Syria, central Iraq and especially Anbar province have become a Wild West. The country had its highest kill rate since 2008 in May with over 1,00 killed in car bombings, political assassinations, and minor massacres. Factions are jockeying for position and the Sunni/Shiite struggle is raising its head again. Prime Minister Maliki is seen as weak and a tool of the Iranians. Iraq has, despite several warnings from the United States, been allowing unfettered transit both by land and air of arms shipments from Iran to Bashar al Assad’s forces and to Hezbollah.

The Russians have now raised the stakes even higher for the West by shipping advanced anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria. Those systems will directed specifically at NATO and Israel’s first line air forces.

Hezbollah has gone all in with Assad, their closest ally, now. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, broadcast a television message to his supporters and the world that the alliance of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran was the new paradigm in the Middle East. “According to the Iranian Kayhan newspaper, the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah entered he Syrian civil war “in response to the injunctions” of Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei.”

The spillover into Tripoli and Hezbollah’s involvement have effectively dragged Lebanon into the war. A war most Lebanese have no taste for.

On the southern border of Syria the Israelis bombed a convoy carrying heavy armaments destined for Hezbollah with massive corollary explosions on the outskirts of Damascus as Assad threatened to retaliate against Israel. News of Syrian rebels begging for  Israeli assistance in providing surgical support of wounded rebels is being touted in the Syrian press as evidence of Israeli involvement rather than as humanitarian aid.

At Turtle Bay, the Russian government has been obstructing and obfuscating the case against the Assad regime for over 2 years now.

And in the background the Gulf Arab states and Iran have been supporting the Sunni and Shia factions respectively with hundreds of millions of dollars in arms.

With the entry of Hezbollah and Russian support, Assad is on a roll. Our Secretary of State, John Kerry and Senators such as John McCain are like deer caught in the headlights with no clue what to do as our president dithers. The same is true in Europe. Leadership is clueless.

And in the meantime, Iran is ready to install Saeed Jalili as their next strong man upon the orders of the Supreme Council. Mr. Jalili has been the fox in the henhouse on Iran’s nuclear negotiations for the last several years. He has lied every step of the way, and with news of Iran’s desire to develop up to 30 nuclear warheads per year according to an Israeli MP, the Iranian government is clearly reaching for the matches to light the gasoline.

Israel has been on edge for the last 5 years. In the Fall of 2008 as the election went down to the wire, President Bush was rumored to have reined in Israel’s plan to strike at Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Our country revised its MOP (Massive Ordnance Penetrator) program to deliver bombs that could go deeper and more destructively in order to stave off what would be a necessary Israeli nuclear strike on secret Iranian weapons facilities.

The STUXNET virus which was revealed through a White House leak was directed at this program. And now Mr. Jalili wants to build 30 warheads per year.

So what are our next steps? The risk of an Iranian nuclear option has all of the Gulf States and Israel on edge. The risk of a pan Iranian empire from  the Afghan border, where they are interfering,  to the shores of the Mediterranean is real and present.

Our government and our people are tired of war. Only this morning did I receive the news of another Green on Blue attack which killed an American Colonel and of another VBIED attack  which killed a young LT and and an SPC.

And yet we are looking at the Megiddo spoken of in the Bible. Sunni vs Shiite. Damascus, one of the oldest cities in history, is partially destroyed and now the specter of nuclear weapons has risen.

There is a weird confluence of interests. The West, Israel and the Gulf States desire to rein in Iranian interests. Turkey and Lebanon must stabilize their borders.

if Iran wins in this conflict, the world is fundamentally changed, doubtfully for the better. The nexus of crazy wins.

So what is next? Do we have the thinkers and doers to find a solution?

 

 

 

A Simple Proposition

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This morning the debate over the NSA’s PRISM program is all over the internet and news. It has entered the general national conversation as we debate privacy in the age of data mining and the monetization of information obtained from internet users, cell phones, and other communications media.

At the same time, the issue of government overreach and deception is being investigated in the Fast & Furious, Benghazi, AP/Rosen, and IRS scandals.

Trust in government is plummeting as a result. It would seem that the concerns of the Tea Party and Occupy movements are dovetailing into perhaps the greatest fear of our own government and its intentions in our history.

We are being told by the most secretive President in our history “trust me” just as his administration has displayed reckless abandon with the law.

And we now find that the use of the PRISM program was expanded even further than originally intended with no public scrutiny.

The NSA and other organizations such as Google use huge screening tools to scour the various nets for keywords such as “bomb” or “allahu akhbar” (in any language of one’s choosing) or “secret Bat plan”. These key word searches amass incredible amounts of data which is almost impossible to process in real time.  The exception is of course active programs such as specific searches on specific organizations or individuals.

Most of the data ends up in a huge data dump somewhere. However, there is the question of why it is being collected in the first place.

So, perhaps we can collectively send the data miners a message. I would propose that at 1:00PM Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, anyone who reads this to e mail or text a message using what you think would be a probable code word. It doesn’t even have to be at that time.

During World War II and even today, airplanes eject “chaff” to confuse enemy radar and targeting systems. Why not use digital chaff?

Because even the NSA and GCHQ in England don’t have the storage space for billions upon billions of messages should enough people participate. Pass the word. If they want to analyze our data try analyzing this.