March 21, 2017
Via Miami Herald
By Carol Rosenberg
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba
The man serving life in a federal penitentiary as the “20th hijacker” in the Sept. 11 attacks wants to testify at the 9/11 trial and has written the military judge offering his services.
“I am willing to fully testify on the 9/11 case,” Zacarias Moussaoui wrote in broken English in January, “even if I was charge on the death penalty case as it incriminate me.” It is handwritten and signed “Slave of Allah.”
He also signs it “Enemy Combatant,” which he is not. Moussaoui, 48, is a convict serving life at the SuperMax prison in Florence, Colorado. He pleaded guilty in 2005 in a federal court in Virginia to six conspiracy charges related to the 9/11 attacks.
“My take is he would like to be in the spotlight and is bored in solitary,” former Moussaoui defense attorney Edward MacMahon said after reviewing a filing for the Miami Herald. “ ‘Slave of Allah’ is how he signs all of his filings.”
A review of filings on the Pentagon’s war-court website shows Moussaoui has at least three times written Army Col. James L. Pohl, the judge in the Sept. 11 mass-murder case with no trial date.
The first docketed letter arrived at war-court judiciary headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, on Nov. 12, 2015 in an envelope from the U.S. penitentiary. It had a Purple Heart postage stamp.
James Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Emerging Threats at NATO – now that’s a lovely title – recently gave a talk at a private club in London on the Islamic State/Daesh. Shea, as many will remember, made his name as NATO’s spokesman during the NATO war on Yugoslavia in 1999.
After his talk Shea engaged in a debate with a source I very much treasure. The source later gave me the lowdown.
According to Saudi intelligence, Daesh was invented by the US government – in Camp Bacca, near the Kuwait border, as many will remember — to essentially finish off the Shiite-majority Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad.
Military Training in Iraq Fails, Militants Stronger, US Officials Say
It didn’t happen this way, of course. Then, years later, in the summer of 2014, Daesh routed the Iraqi Army on its way to conquer Mosul. The Iraqi Army fled. Daesh operatives then annexed ultra-modern weapons that took US instructors from six to twelve months to train the Iraqis in and…surprise! Daesh incorporated the weapons in their arsenals in 24 hours.
In the end, Shea frankly admitted to the source that Gen David Petraeus, conductor of the much-lauded 2007 surge, had trained these Sunnis now part of Daesh in Anbar province in Iraq.
Saudi intelligence still maintains that these Iraqi Sunnis were not US-trained – as Shea confirmed – because the Shiites in power in Baghdad didn’t allow it. Not true. The fact is the Daesh core – most of them former commanders and soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s army — is indeed a US-trained militia.
True to form, at the end of the debate, Shea went on to blame Russia for absolutely everything that’s happening today – including Daesh terror.
March 20, 2017
RT 26 September 2016
US weapons are being delivered to Jabhat Al-Nusra by governments that Washington supports, a militant commander told the German media, adding that American instructors were in Syria to teach how to use the new equipment.
“Yes, the US supports the opposition [in Syria], but not directly. They support the countries that support us. But we are not yet satisfied with this support,” Jabhat al-Nusra unit commander Abu Al Ezz said in an interview with Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper from the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo.
According to the commander, the militants should be receiving more “sophisticated weapons” from their backers to succeed against the Syrian government.
“The fight is difficult. The regime is strong and gets support from Russia,” he explained.
Al Ezz said that Jabhat Al-Nusra “won battles thanks to TOW rockets. Due to these rockets, we reached a balance with the regime. Our tanks came from Libya via Turkey, joined by the [BM-21] multiple rocket launchers,” he said.
The government forces have an advantage because of aircraft and missile launchers, but “we have the American-made TOW missiles, and the situation in some areas is under control,” Al Ezz added.
When asked if the TOW missiles were initially intended for Jabhat Al-Nusra or if the group obtained them from the moderate Free Syrian Army, the jihadist clarified:
“No, the missiles were given to us directly.”
He also said that when Jabhat Al-Nusra was “besieged, we had officers from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and America here… Experts in the use of satellites, rockets, reconnaissance and thermal security cameras.”
The journalist asked specifically if the US instructors were really present among the jihadists’ ranks and Al Ezz replied:
Candidate Donald Trump offered a sharp break from his predecessors. He was particularly critical of neoconservatives, who seemed to back war at every turn.
Indeed, he promised not to include in his administration “those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.” And he’s generally kept that commitment, for instance rejecting as deputy secretary of state Elliot Abrams, who said Trump was unfit to be president.
Substantively candidate Trump appeared to offer not so much a philosophy as an inclination. Practical if not exactly realist, he cared more for consequences than his three immediate predecessors, who had treated wars as moral crusades in Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. In contrast, Trump promised: “unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct.”
Yet so far the Trump administration is shaping up as a disappointment for those who hoped for a break from the liberal interventionist/neoconservative synthesis.
The first problem is staffing. In Washington people are policy. The president can speak and tweet, but he needs others to turn ideas into reality and implement his directives. It doesn’t appear that he has any foreign policy realists around him, or anyone with a restrained view of America’s international responsibilities.
Rex Tillerson, James Mattis and H. R. McMaster are all serious and talented, and none are neocons. But all seem inclined toward traditional foreign policy approaches and committed to moderating their boss’s unconventional thoughts. Most of the names mentioned for deputy secretary of state have been reliably hawkish, or some combination of hawk and centrist—Abrams, John Bolton, the rewired Jon Huntsman.
Trump appears to be most concerned with issues that have direct domestic impacts, and especially with economic nostrums about which he is most obviously wrong. He’s long been a protectionist (his anti-immigration opinions are of more recent vintage). Yet his views have not changed even as circumstances have. The Chinese once artificially limited the value of the renminbi, but recently have taken the opposite approach. The United States is not alone in losing manufacturing jobs, which are disappearing around the world and won’t be coming back. Multilateral trade agreements are rarely perfect, but they are not zero sum games. They usually offer political as well as economic benefits. Trump does not seem prepared to acknowledge this, at least rhetorically. Indeed he has brought on board virulent opponents of free trade such as Peter Navarro.
The administration’s repudiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was particularly damaging. Trump’s decision embarrassed Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who had offered important economic concessions to join. More important, Trump has abandoned the economic field to the People’s Republic of China, which is pushing two different accords. Australia, among other U.S. allies, has indicated that it now will deal with Beijing, which gets to set the Pacific trade agenda. In this instance, what’s good for China is bad for the United States.
Capt. David Lausman speaks on the deck of U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington in 2012. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)
By Craig Whitlock
March 14, 2017
The Washington Post
The Justice Department unsealed a fresh indictment Tuesday charging eight Navy officials — including an admiral — with corruption and other crimes in the “Fat Leonard” bribery case, escalating an epic scandal that has dogged the Navy for four years.
Among those charged were Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, a senior Navy intelligence officer who recently retired from a key job at the Pentagon, as well as four retired Navy captains and a retired Marine colonel. The charges cover a period of eight years, from 2006 through 2014.
The Navy personnel are accused of taking bribes in the form of lavish gifts, prostitutes and luxury hotel stays courtesy of Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor who has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy of tens of millions of dollars.
The indictment lists page after page of bribes allegedly provided to the defendants including $25,000 watches, $2,000 boxes of Cohiba cigars, $2,000 bottles of cognac and $600-per-night hotel rooms.
According to the charging documents, Francis also frequently sponsored wild sex parties for many officers assigned to the USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the Navy’s 7th Fleet, and other warships.
During a port visit by the Blue Ridge to Manila in May 2008, for example, five of the Navy officers attended a “raging multi-day party, with a rotating carousel of prostitutes,” at the Shangri-La Hotel, according to the indictment. The group allegedly drank the hotel’s entire supply of Dom Pérignon champagne and rang up expenses exceeding $50,000, which Francis covered in full.
On another port visit by the Blue Ridge to Manila in February 2007, Francis allegedly hosted a sex party for officers in the MacArthur Suite of the Manila hotel. During the party, “historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts,” according to the indictment.
Instead of directly deploying thousands of additional ground troops into Iraq or Syria, the sort of precipitous escalation that might get Congress voting on the war, the Trump Administration appears to have decided that the solution is to send thousands of US ground troops to Kuwait, and let the commanders in Iraq and Syria just take what they want.
Early reports of this strategy emerged Wednesday, when officials said there were considerations of sending around 1,000 troops into Kuwait for this operation. Just two days later, the figure was up to at least 2,500, with signs that it is continuing to grow all the time.
While President Obama was micromanaging the escalations, particularly in Iraq, where every couple of weeks another hundred or two troops would be sent, the Trump Administration appears to be throwing the troops into a big pile and leaving the deployments up to the commanders.
This adds credence to the sense that President Trump is going to be a bit more hands-off on his escalations, giving the military commanders additional leeway on actions, and even on troop levels, which is likely to raise further questions about what those commanders intend to do in the war, if they no longer have to get permission first.
The United States has been growing progressively insane for a long time. For my generation, the realization descended upon us in the 1960s when the military/security complex convinced Americans that if we permitted Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh to unify Vietnam, the dominoes would fall until the Communist World Revolution had us in its grip. This despite the fact that Stalin had killed off the Trotskyist world revolutionaries and declared “Socialism in one country.”
Nationalists in the West’s colonies, such as Vietnam and Cuba, misinterpreted the talk about making the world safe for self-determination as applying to them. Ho Chi Minh helped the US against Japan during World War 2. His requests for US help for Vietnamese independence from France were cold-shouldered by the Truman administration. He did not turn against the US until Washington turned against him. http://www.historynet.com/ho-chi-minh-and-the-oss.htm
America’s participation in the Vietnam War lasted for a decade or thereabouts. The extraordinary carnage and war crimes served no interest other than the power and profit of the military/security complex and the paranoia of the arbiters of US foreign policy.
No lesson learned, we have spent the entirety of the 21st century to date repeating the mistake. This time it is stateless Muslim terrorists who somehow were merged in official US propaganda into the governments of seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa. After 17 years of murdering women, children, and village elders, destroying the infrastructure of countries, and bombing weddings, funerals, children’s soccer games, schools and hospitals, Washington has surpassed its criminal record in Vietnam.
The folly of the Vietnam War was not explicated for us until the war’s aftermath. However, the folly of our 21st century crusade against evil was presented to us in monthly installments as the folly unfolded by Lewis Lapham’s articles in Harper’s and later in the Lapham Quarterly. These essays have been collected together in a book, Age of Folly: America Abandons Its Democracy (Verso, 2016).
Lapham is one of the remaining “men of letters” who date from a time when some Americans still existed who preferred the red pill to the blue pill. In the 21st century, awareness has been out of fashion, and there were few to learn from Lapham’s demonstrations of our folly.
Lapham’s book should be titled “Our Age of Folly.” As I read Lapham, every age has been one of folly, and America has been abandoning its democracy from day one, if America ever had a democracy to abandon.
By Daniel Larison
March 8, 2017
The American Conservative
U.S. forces in Syria are now trying to keep different parts of the “coalition” from killing each other:
The deployment is “fraught with risk,” said Robert Ford, who served as the Obama administration’s last ambassador to Syria until 2014. He is now with the Washington-based Middle East Institute and teaches at Yale University.
“That’s not a small policy change. It is a huge policy change,” he said. “We have never in our Syrian policy ever put U.S. personnel in between warring Syrian factions or to maintain a local cease-fire.”
U.S. military involvement in Syria continues to increase without debate or authorization from Congress. This traces back to the original decision under Obama to expand the illegal war on ISIS into Syria, but the latest escalation is Trump’s responsibility. Neither the Obama nor the Trump administration has ever had to justify a policy of trying to fight a war alongside mutually antagonistic forces, and neither of them has ever been forced to do so by Congress or anyone else. The president has no authority to deploy U.S. forces into Syria, and especially not to act as a buffer between forces of an allied government and proxy forces inside Syria, but we can be certain that there will be no serious opposition to it. Most members of Congress aren’t willing to criticize a war that still has broad support, and they don’t want to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities in any case.
It is questionable whether the latest deployment can even achieve its immediate goal:
Meanwhile, the U.S. presence in the area does not appear to have ended the fighting. Battles continued west of Manbij on Wednesday, according to both sides. A video posted on social media Wednesday morning showed U.S.-armed Arab fighters allied to the Kurds using an antitank missile to destroy a military vehicle belonging to the Arab fighters allied to Turkey.
President George W. Bush was allowed to continue with a routine visit to a school when the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11, 2001. Remarkably, members of the Secret Service and other personnel responsible for protecting the president failed to evacuate him from the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, after they learned that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and it became clear that America was under attack.
As the nation’s leader, Bush should have been considered a likely target for terrorists. Furthermore, his schedule had been publicized in advance and so terrorists could have found out where he would be on September 11.
And yet, after arriving there shortly before 9:00 a.m. on September 11, Bush was allowed to stay at the Booker Elementary School until around 9:35 a.m.–almost 50 minutes after the first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center and over 30 minutes after the second hijacked plane hit the Trade Center. He left the school just two or three minutes before a third attack occurred, when the Pentagon was struck.
The Secret Service’s failure to promptly evacuate Bush from the school is particularly baffling in light of the accounts of some key officials who were with the president that morning, in which these men recalled being worried that the school would be attacked. There were even concerns that terrorists might crash a plane into it. The failure to evacuate the school is also alarming in that it left hundreds of people there–not just the president–potentially in danger.
It would be wrong to attribute the inaction of the Secret Service to incompetence. Agents who were in Sarasota for Bush’s visit to the city were highly skilled individuals. They arranged extensive security measures for the visit, and they acted with great urgency and professionalism as they protected Bush after he left the school. They appear to have only failed to adequately protect the president for a period of about 40 minutes in the middle of the 9/11 attacks, after he arrived at the school.
We need to consider, therefore, whether the inaction of the Secret Service at this critical time is evidence of something sinister. Could efforts have been made to somehow put the agents in Sarasota into a state of paralysis? They might, for example, have been tricked into thinking the reports they received about the terrorist attacks in New York were simulated, as part of a training exercise.
The inaction of the Secret Service could in fact be evidence that, in contradiction to the official narrative of 9/11, rogue individuals in the U.S. government were involved in planning and perpetrating the terrorist attacks on September 11.
NO ONE CALLED THE PRESIDENT ABOUT THE FIRST CRASH DURING THE DRIVE TO THE SCHOOL
On the morning of September 11, 2001, President Bush was scheduled to visit the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, where he planned to take part in a reading demonstration, and then talk to parents and teachers about his education policies. 
His motorcade left the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, where he’d spent the previous night, at around 8:39 a.m. on September 11 and headed to the school. At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  Numerous people in the motorcade, including White House officials, military officers, and journalists, learned about the crash as they were being driven to the school.  But no one called the president to tell him what had happened.
Bush was first informed about the crash at around 8:55 a.m., when he arrived at the school. Navy Captain Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, ran up to him and said, “Mr. President, the Situation Room is reporting that one of the World Trade Center towers has been hit by a plane.” “This is all we know,” she added. 
(Administrator’s note: Bush admits he SAW the plane hit the first tower. How did he see that unless the Mossad agents who were filing the attack were sending him the live feed? )
Bush was told about the crash again by Karl Rove, his senior adviser, as he was shaking hands with members of the official greeting party outside the school.  He has recalled thinking at the time that the incident must have been “a terrible accident.” 
He then talked on the phone with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who was at the White House. She told him the plane that struck the World Trade Center was a commercial jetliner, not a light aircraft. But Bush still thought the crash was an accident and went ahead with the scheduled event.  At 9:02 a.m., he entered the second-grade classroom of teacher Sandra Kay Daniels to listen to the students reading. 
BUSH CONTINUED WITH THE READING EVENT AFTER BEING TOLD, ‘AMERICA IS UNDER ATTACK’
A minute later, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Bush was alerted to what had happened at around 9:05 a.m. to 9:07 a.m., when Andrew Card, his chief of staff, approached him and whispered in his ear: “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.” 
Despite receiving this devastating news, Bush carried on as if nothing was wrong. “In the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor,” author James Bamford commented, “he simply turned back to the matter at hand: the day’s photo op.”  Significantly, author Philip Melanson pointed out, “no [Secret Service] agents were there to surround the president and remove him instantly.” 
Bush listened to the children reading for five minutes, and then spent at least two minutes asking them questions and telling the school’s principal about the second crash.  He left the classroom shortly before 9:15 a.m.  He was still sticking closely to his schedule, which specified that he would conclude his participation in the reading demonstration at 9:15 a.m. 
By Daniel Larison
March 3, 2017
The American Conservative
Andrew Bacevich comments on Trump’s address to Congress:
For U.S. military leaders, for the national security apparatus as a whole, for defense contractors, and for the Congress itself, Trump was the bearer of good news. As commander-in-chief, he will observe the agreement forged by his immediate predecessors: When it comes to war and basic U.S. national security policy, there will be no accountability and no awkward questions.
There will be no inquiry into the misjudgments and failures that have saddled future generations with a six-trillion-dollar bill. There will be no postmortem. Except at the most trivial level, there will be no learning. There will, however, be more war.
Trump scarcely mentioned our ongoing wars and said nothing about the reasons for any of them. If his predecessors used absurd ideological justifications for unnecessary wars that were soon discredited, Trump didn’t even bother to offer any justification. America’s longest war in Afghanistan received no attention at all, and virtually no one in Congress or the media even noticed. The shameful U.S. role in enabling the wrecking and starving of Yemen naturally went unmentioned, just as it has been carefully neglected by almost everyone in Washington. Even though that role is likely to increase in the months ahead, the public isn’t going to be alerted to this, and most members of Congress have nothing to say about it.
Trump did talk about “extinguishing” ISIS, but except for generic references to working with allies he had nothing to say about how or at what cost that would be achieved. There was certainly no hint that Trump thinks the war needs its own Congressional authorization, and so the illegal war in Iraq and Syria will continue without any debate or vote in Congress. That suits the vast majority of the members very well, since they evidently have no desire to go on the record one way or the other. Obama bestowed on Trump a legacy of waging unauthorized wars, and he demonstrated that neither Congress nor the public cares very much if the president starts and escalates wars on his own. Perversely, this is the one area where Trump most needs to be restrained and checked by his opponents in Congress, and it is the one where he has so far encountered the least resistance.
Bacevich found the exploitation of Ryan Owens’ death to be as distasteful as I did. He saw it as a symptom of the larger problem with our political leaders:
I found myself squirming at the way that Trump and members of Congress collaborated in exploiting the memory of a recently deceased U.S. service member. They used a grieving widow for their own purposes.
Yet the moment captured something essential about where we find ourselves today—political leaders who make a show of respecting those who fight on our behalf while neglecting their own most fundamental responsibilities. I don’t know whether to attribute that neglect to cynicism, corruption, moral cowardice, or simply an absence of imagination. But I do know that it’s contemptible.
It is contemptible, but unfortunately it will continue for as long as the public tolerates such shoddy leaders that shirk their duties while sending Americans to fight in unnecessary and unwinnable wars.