Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cause and Effect In The 'Terror War'

By Glenn Greenwald
Tuesday, Dec 29, 2009 06:40 EST
Courtesy of The Salon Media Group

"In all their alleged allegedness, this Administration has an allergy to the concept of war, and thus to the tools of war, including strategy and war aims" -- Supreme Tough Guy Warrior Mark Steyn, National Review, yesterday.

"The White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.'s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president’s decision, announced Tuesday, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan" -- New York Times, December 4, 2009.

"In the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen" -- New York Times, yesterday.


Actually, if you count our occupation of Iraq, our twice-escalated war in Afghanistan, our rapidly escalating bombing campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen, and various forms of covert war involvement in Somalia, one could reasonably say that we're fighting five different wars in Muslim countries -- or, to use the NYT's jargon, "five fronts" in the "Terror War" (Obama yesterday specifically mentioned Somalia and Yemen as places where, euphemistically, "we will continue to use every element of our national power"). Add to those five fronts the "crippling" sanctions on Iran many Democratic Party luminaries are now advocating, combined with the chest-besting threats from our Middle East client state that the next wars they fight against Muslims will be even "harsher" than the prior ones, and it's almost easier to count the Muslim countries we're not attacking or threatening than to count the ones we are. Yet this still isn't enough for America's right-wing super-warriors, who accuse the five-front-war-President of "an allergy to the concept of war."

In the wake of the latest failed terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines, one can smell the excitement in the air -- that all-too-familiar, giddy, bipartisan climate that emerges in American media discourse whenever there's a new country we get to learn about so that we can explain why we're morally and strategically justified in bombing it some more. "Yemen" is suddenly on every Serious Person's lips. We spent the last month centrally involved to some secret degree in waging air attacks on that country -- including some that resulted in numerous civilian deaths -- but everyone now knows that this isn't enough and it's time to Get Really Serious and Do More.

For all the endless, exciting talk about the latest Terrorist attack, one issue is, as usual, conspicuously absent: motive. Why would a young Nigerian from a wealthy, well-connected family want to blow himself up on one of our airplanes along with 300 innocent people, and why would Saudi and Yemeni extremists want to enable him to do so? When it comes to Terrorism, discussions of motive have been declared more or less taboo from the start because of the dishonest equation of motive discussions with justification -- as though understanding the reasons why X happens is to posit that X is legitimate and justifiable. Causation simply is; it has nothing to do with issues of morality, blame, or justification. Yet all that is generally permitted to be said in such situations is that Terrorists try to harm us because they're Evil, and we (of course) are not, and that's generally the end of the discussion.

Despite that taboo, evidence always ends up emerging on this question. As numerous reports have indicated, the Al Qaeda group in the Arabian Peninsula has said that this attempted attack is in "retaliation" for the multiple, recent missile attacks on Yemen in which numerous innocent Muslim civilians were killed, as well as for the U.S.'s multi-faceted support for the not-exactly-democratic Yemeni government. That is similar to reports that Nidal Hasan was motivated to attack Fort Hood because "he was upset at the killing of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan." And one finds this quote from an anonymous Yemeni official tacked on to the end of this week's NYT article announcing the "widening terror war" in Yemen -- as though it's just an afterthought:

"The problem is that the involvement of the United States creates sympathy for Al Qaeda. The cooperation is necessary -- but there is no doubt that it has an effect for the common man. He sympathizes with Al Qaeda."

As always, the most confounding aspect of the reaction to the latest attempted terrorist episode is the professed confusion and self-righteous innocence that is universally expressed. Whether justified or not, we are constantly delivering death to the Muslim world. We do not see it very much, but they certainly do. Again, independent of justification, what do we think is going to happen if we continuously invade, occupy and bomb Muslim countries and arm and enable others to do so? Isn't it obvious that our five-front actions are going to cause at least some Muslims -- subjected to constant images of American troops in their world and dead Muslim civilians at our hands, even if unintended -- to want to return the violence? Just look at the bloodthirsty sentiments unleashed among Americans even from a failed Terrorist attempt. What sentiments do we think we're unleashing from a decade-long (and continuing and increasing) multi-front "war" in the Muslim war?

There very well may be some small number of individuals who are so blinded by religious extremism that they will be devoted to random violence against civilians no matter what we do, but we are constantly maximizing the pool of recruits and sympathy among the population on which they depend. In other words, what we do constantly bolsters their efforts, and when we do, we always seem to move more in the direction of helping them even further. Ultimately, we should ask ourselves: if we drop more bombs on more Muslim countries, will there be fewer or more Muslims who want to blow up our airplanes and are willing to end their lives to do so? That question really answers itself.

Attack Yemen?

By Congressman Ron Paul
Courtesy Of "Information Clearing House"

Congressman Ron Paul gives his thoughts on Yemen, the attempted airline bombing, the motivations of Al Qaeda, the radicalization of the Middle East, and the negation of our liberties to government provided "security."

“The bigger the problem and the more the fear is built up, the more they take away our personal liberties and turn us all into zombies and the American people go along with it and say as long as it makes us safer I guess it’s OK to go along but it’s time the American people woke up and started realizing that there’s a bit of propaganda going on and quite possibly this incident will not only undermine our personal liberties but will also accelerate our intervention and the violence occurring in the Middle East,”

Posted December 29, 2009

Israel Rules

By Paul Craig Roberts
December 29, 2009
Courtesy of "Information Clearing House"

On Christmas eve when Christians were celebrating the Prince of Peace, the New York Times delivered forth a call for war. “There’s only one way to stop Iran,” declared Alan J. Kuperman, and that is “military air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Kuperman is described as the “director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin,” but his Christmas eve call to war relies on disinformation and contradiction, not on objective scholarly analysis.

For example, Kuperman contradicts the unanimous report of America’s 16 intelligence agencies, the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Russian intelligence with his claim that Iran has a nuclear weapon program. Astonishingly, it does not occur to Kuperman that readers might wonder how an academic bureaucrat in Austin, Texas, has better information than these authorities.

Kuperman is so determined to damn President Obama’s plan to have other countries enrich Iran’s uranium for Iran’s nuclear energy program and medical isotopes that Kuperman commits astounding blunders. After claiming that Iran has a “bomb program,” Kuperman claims that “Iran’s uranium contains impurities” and that Ahmadinejad’s threat “to enrich uranium domestically to the 20 percent level . . . is a bluff, because even if Iran could further enrich its impure uranium, it lacks the capacity to fabricate the uranium into fuel elements.”

What was the New York Times op ed editor thinking when he approved Kuperman’s article? Iran, Kuperman writes, needs “90 percent enriched uranium” to have weapons-grade material, but cannot reach 20 percent or even make fuel elements for its nuclear energy. So, how is Iran going to produce a bomb? Yet, Kuperman writes that “we have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.”

It could not be made any clearer that, as with the US invasion of Iraq, a military attack on Iran has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. An “Iranian nuke” is just another canard behind which hides an undeclared agenda.

One wonders about Kuperman’s non-proliferation credentials. How does a wanton military attack on a country encourage non-proliferation? Aren’t America’s bullying, threats and acts of war more likely to encourage countries to seek nuclear weapons?

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the United States has wars ongoing in Iraq where the ancient Chaldean Christian community was destroyed--not by Saddam Hussein but by the neoconservatives’ illegal invasion of Iraq--in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yeman, and Sudan. The US initiated a war, which it lost, between its puppet ruler in the former Soviet province of Georgia and Russia.

The US, the world’s greatest supporter of terrorism, is the main financier of terrorist groups that stage attacks within Iran, and US money succeeded in financing protests against President Ahmadinejad’s re-election and in dividing the ruling Islamic clerics. It was American money, weapons, and diplomatic cover that enabled the Israeli war crimes against the Lebanese people during 2006 and against Palestinian civilians in Gaza during 2008-2009, crimes documented in the Goldstone Report.

Iran has never interfered in US internal affairs, but the US has a long record of interfering in Iranian affairs. In 1953 the US overthrew Iran’s popular prime minister, Mohammed Mosaddeq and installed a puppet who tortured Iranians who desired political independence.

Despite this and other American offenses against Iran, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly expressed Iran’s interest to be on friendly terms with the United States, only to be repeatedly rebuffed. The US wants war with Iran in order to expand US world hegemony.

One might expect a non-proliferation expert to take history into account, but Kuperman fails to do so. Kuperman also has nothing to say about Israel’s, India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Unlike Iran, none of these countries are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel, India, and Pakistan all developed their nuclear weapons in secret, and many experts believe Israel had American help, an act of treason. All three countries have been rewarded by Washington despite their perfidy. Why is Kuperman concerned about Iran, which submits to the IAEA inspections, but is unconcerned with Israel, a country that has never permitted a single inspection?

The answer is that the Israel Lobby, the US military-security complex, and the “Christian” Zionists have succeeded in demonizing Iran. Every real expert knows that an Iranian nuclear weapon would have no function other than deterring an attack on Iran. Ever since the US lost its monopoly on nuclear weapons, after using them offensively and pointlessly against a defeated Japan, nuclear weapons have served no purpose other than deterrence.

The US has no conflicting economic interests with Iran. Iran is simply a supplier of oil, an important one. A US attack on Iran, such as the one advocated by Kuperman, would most likely shut down oil flows to the West through the Strait of Hormuz. This might benefit refiners, who sell gasoline to the West and could charge enormous prices, but no one else would benefit.

Adding to the war cry are congregations of fake Christians. A great number of them, organized by someone’s money under the banner, “Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-free Iran,” has written to Congress demanding sanctions against Iran that amount to an act of war. The roll call includes the “Christian” Zionist John Hagee, who, according to reports, denigrates Jesus Christ and preaches to his illiterate congregation that it is God’s will for Americans to fight and die for Israel, the oppressor of the Palestinian people.

Among the signatories of the “Christians” demanding an act of war against Iran, are Dr. Pat Robertson, president of Christian Broadcasting Network, Nixon-era criminal Chuck Colson, and Richard Land, president of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention. Obviously, for southern baptists ethics means murdering Islamists, and religious liberty excludes everyone but “Christian” Zionists.

It is a simple matter for an educated person to make fools of these morons who profess to be Christians. However, these morons have vast constituencies numbering in the tens of millions of Americans. There are, in fact, more of them than there are intelligent, informed, moral, and real Christian Americans.

The votes of the morons will prevail.

In the second decade of the 21st century, America’s Zionist wars against Islam will expand. America’s wars in behalf of Israel’s territorial expansion will complete the bankruptcy of America. The Treasury’s bonds to finance the US government’s enormous deficits will lack for buyers. Therefore, the bonds will be monetized by the Federal Reserve. The result will be rising rates of inflation. The inflation will destroy the dollar as world reserve currency, and the US will no longer be able to pay for its imports. Shortages will appear, including food and gasoline, and “Superpower America” will find itself pressed to the wall as a third world country unable to pay its debts.

America has been brought low, both morally and economically, by its obeisance to the Israel Lobby. Even Jimmy Carter, a former President of the United States and Governor of Georgia recently had to apologize to the Israel Lobby for his honest criticisms of Israel’s inhumane treatment of the occupied Palestinians in order for his grandson to be able to run for a seat in the Georgia state senate.

This should tell the macho super-power American tough guys who really runs “their” country.

Israel vs. America

The Dark Side of the ‘Special Relationship’

By Justin Raimondo,
October 21, 2009
Courtesy of Anti-War

A silent battle has been raging right under our noses, a fierce underground struggle pitting the U.S. against one of its closest allies. For all its newsworthiness, the media has barely noticed the story – except when it surfaces, briefly, like a giant fin jutting above the waves. The aggressor in this war is the state of Israel, with the U.S., its sponsor and protector, playing defense. This is the dark side of the "special relationship" – a battle of spy vs. spy.

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard – now serving a life sentence – stole secrets so vital that an attempt by the Israelis to get him pardoned was blocked by a massive protest from the intelligence and defense communities. Bill Clinton wanted to trade Pollard for Israeli concessions in the ongoing "peace process," and he was only prevented from doing so by a threat of mass resignations by the top leadership of the intelligence community.

The reason for their intransigence: among the material Pollard had been asked by his Israeli handlers to steal was the U.S. attack plan against the Soviet Union. According to Seymour Hersh, then-CIA director Bill Casey claimed Tel Aviv handed over the information to Moscow in exchange for relaxation of travel restrictions on Soviet Jews, who were then allowed to emigrate to Israel.

The Pollard case is emblematic – but it was just the beginning of a years-long effort by U.S. counterintelligence to rid themselves of the Israeli incubus. Law enforcement was – and presumably still is – convinced Pollard was very far from alone, and that a highly placed "mole" had provided him with key information. In his quest to procure very specific information, Pollard knew precisely which documents to look for – knowledge he couldn’t access without help from someone very high in government circles.

In addition, the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted a phone conversation between an Israeli intelligence officer and his boss in Tel Aviv, during which they discussed how to get hold of a letter by then-secretary of state Warren Christopher to Yasser Arafat. The Washington spy suggested they use "Mega," but his boss demurred: "This is not something we use Mega for," he averred.

The search for Mega and his underlings continues to this day, as U.S. counterintelligence attempts to rip up what appears to be a vast Israeli spy operation by its very deep roots. That’s why they went after Ben Ami Kadish, who handed over U.S. secrets to Tel Aviv and shared a handler with Pollard, and why they indicted Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two top officials of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group. That’s why they were listening on the other end as Jane Harman promised an Israeli agent to intervene in the Rosen-Weissman case. And now a new front has been opened up in this subterranean war with the arrest of Stewart David Nozette, a top U.S. scientist who worked for the Pentagon, had access to the most closely guarded nuclear secrets, and was the lead scientist in the search for water on the moon.

Nozette’s case is interesting because of his impressive resume: he held top positions with the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and NASA, and he served on the White House National Space Council under George H.W. Bush. From 1989 until March 2006, he held "Q" clearance, which means he had access to "critical nuclear weapon design information" and vital information concerning 20 "special access programs" – secrets only a very few top government officials had knowledge of.

In other words, this wasn’t just some mid-level schmuck who wanted to sell out his country for cash: he was one of the big boys – the principal author of the Clementine biostatic radar experiment, which allowed U.S. scientists to discover water on the moon – a kind of J. Robert Oppenheimer figure, whose singular contributions to the U.S. space program and its military applications granted him security clearances available to a very select few.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint [.pdf] alleging espionage is terse, vague in parts, and brimming with implication. Taking their cues from the Department of Justice press release, most news reports state, "The complaint does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed any offense under U.S. laws," leaving out the last three words in the DOJ’s sentence: "in this case."

In this particular case, it’s true, prosecutors are going after Nozette for violations that occurred while they were reeling him in, with a federal agent pretending to be a Mossad officer offering him money (not very much, by the way) in exchange for secrets. The real question, however, is what caused them to zero in on Nozette? A Washington Times piece cites Kenneth Piernick, a former senior FBI agent, who opined:

“He must have made some kind of attempt, which triggered the FBI’s interest in him. They cut in between him and whoever he was trying to work with and posed as an intelligence officer, agent, or courier to handle the issue, and then when he delivered what he intended to deliver to that person, his contact was likely an undercover FBI agent or [someone from] another U.S. intelligence service.”

Yet Nozette may have made more than a mere "attempt." The affidavit alleges that, from 1998 to 2008, he served as a consultant to "an aerospace company wholly owned by the government of Israel," during which time "approximately once a month representatives of the aerospace company proposed questions, or taskings, to Nozette." He answered these questions, and, in return, received regular payments totaling $250,000.

This indicates the Feds had been on to Nozette for quite some time, and with good cause. The affidavit also notes that, at the beginning of this year, he traveled to "a different foreign country" in possession of two computer "thumb" drives, which seemed to have mysteriously disappeared upon his return some three weeks later. What was on the drives – and who were the recipients?

In 2007, federal authorities raided the offices of Nozette’s nonprofit company, the Alliance for Competitive Technology (ACT), purportedly because ACT, having procured several lucrative government contracts, had defrauded the federal government by overcharging. The affidavit cites an anonymous colleague of Nozette who recalled the scientist said that if the U.S. government ever tried to put him in jail he would go to Israel or another foreign country and “tell them everything” he knows.

Perhaps the real reason for the raid, however, had to do with the FBI’s growing suspicion – if not certainty – he was funneling U.S. secrets to Tel Aviv. ACT is a curious creation, a "nonprofit" group that nevertheless generated over half a million dollars last year according to documents filed with the IRS, with over $150,000 in salary and benefits paid out to Nozette. But it wasn’t just about money. ACT’s mission statement reads like a spy’s dream come true:

"The Alliance for Competitive Technology … has been created to serve the national and public interest by conducting scientific research and educational activities aimed at expanding the utilization of National and Government Laboratory resources. The National Laboratories possess significant technology, technologists, and resources, of great potential value to growing U.S. industrial organizations, both small and large. Recent changes in national policy (the Stevenson-Wydler Act of 1986 and the NASA Technology Utilization Program) have sanctioned the pursuit of technology transfer from these organizations. However, the capabilities and resources present in National Laboratories are often difficult to access by small and medium sized organizations with limited resources. ACT will research the best mechanisms to facilitate this transfer through focused research on technology transfer mechanisms, and educational and instructive programs on technology transfer from National Laboratories. In addition, ACT will enable U.S. organizations to utilize the resources of National Laboratories through existing established mechanisms (e.g., the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Technology Affiliates Program).Transfer of commercially valuable technology is significantly enhanced by such direct support of private sector efforts."

In short: ACT is all about technology transfer – from the U.S. to Israel. This, as is well-known, is one of the favored activities of the Israeli intelligence services, which regularly pilfer the latest American technology (especially military applications) to such an extent that a General Accounting Office investigation once characterized the effort as "the most aggressive espionage operations against the U.S. of any U.S. ally."

ACT had contracts with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, Va., and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. It is hardly a leap of faith to conclude that vital data flowing from these projects was fed directly into the waiting maw of the Mossad.

Nozette was a key figure in developing and promoting the "Star Wars" ballistic missile defense system. His colleague in the "High Frontier" movement – and the official director of ACT – is one Klaus Heiss, like Nozette an enthusiast [.pdf] of space colonization (who also has some strong views on other subjects).

Contacted by an FBI agent masquerading as an Israeli intelligence agent, Nozette didn’t blink when told his lunch companion was from the Mossad: "Good," he said. "Happy to be of assistance." This was well before the issue of money was raised. Later in the conversation, Nozette boasted of his top-level security clearances and the range and depth of his knowledge of U.S. secrets, adding, "I don’t get recruited by the Mossad every day. By the way, I knew this day would come." Questioned further by the undercover agent, Nozette said, "I thought I was working for you already. I mean, that’s what I always thought [the foreign company] was – just a front."

Which it no doubt was.

Nozette agreed to be a regular "asset," yet he clearly felt his position was increasingly precarious. He inquired about the right of return and raised the possibility that he might go to Israel. He wanted a passport as part of his payment, in addition to the few thousand dollars the FBI was putting in a post office "dead drop" for him on receipt of stolen secrets.

Well, then, so what? Don’t all nations, even allies, spy on each other? What’s the significance of this particular case?

On the surface, our relationship with Israel is encompassed by the terms of the "special relationship," which has so far consisted of the U.S. giving unconditional support to Tel Aviv’s every action, no matter how brutal [.pdf] or contrary to our interests – and tolerating, to a large degree, its extensive covert operations on U.S. soil (or, at least, keeping quiet about them). On a deeper level, however, the tensions in this one-way love affair have frayed the specialness of the relationship almost to the breaking point.

This is not just due to the election of Barack Obama, who is widely perceived in Israel as being biased against the Jewish state. These tensions arose during Bush’s second term, when U.S. policy began to perceptibly tilt away from Tel Aviv. A particularly telling blow to U.S.-Israeli relations was the decision by the U.S. to clamp down on visa requirements for Israelis entering the U.S.: potential visitors from Israel are now required to undergo an interview, restrictions on their length of stay have been extended, and admission to the U.S. is no longer assured.

In the secret world of spooks spying on one another, the U.S.-Israeli relationship is increasingly adversarial, while in the diplomatic-political realm, it has nearly reached the point of open hostilities. This is thanks to the objective conditions that determine relations among nations: in the post-Cold War world, Israel necessarily became much less of an asset to the U.S. In the post-9/11 world, as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have so trenchantly pointed out, it is an outright liability.

Our self-sacrificial policy of unconditional support for Israel has earned us implacable enemies in the Arab world and granted our adversaries a priceless propaganda prize – and the growing awareness of this disability is something the Israelis no doubt find disturbing. The distortion of our foreign policy by the power of the Israel lobby is also being widely noted, and this is their real Achilles heel.

In this case, too, the Lobby will no doubt rush to exert their influence to downgrade Nozette’s crime and even depict him as an innocent victim of entrapment. Defenders of the AIPAC duo conjured a vast "anti-Semitic" conspiracy within the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI to explain the alleged persecution of Rosen and Weissman, and the same tactics are bound to be trotted out in this instance.

That is nonsense. The FBI didn’t just pick Nozette arbitrarily and conjure his crimes out of thin air. Their target was already deeply involved with the Israelis, and this is what brought him to their attention in the first place.

The nature and extent of Israeli spying in the U.S. is not a subject you’ll see the "mainstream" media very often touch with so much as a 10-foot pole, but when it does the results can be ominously disturbing. I, for one, haven’t forgotten Carl Cameron’s four-part series on Israeli spying in the U.S., broadcast by Fox News in December 2001. According to Cameron, his sources in law enforcement told him the Israelis had been following the 9/11 hijackers and had foreknowledge of their plans but somehow neglected to tell us. And then there were those dancing Israelis, leaping for joy at the sight of the Twin Towers burning…

This is the dark side of the "special relationship," so dark that hardly anyone wants to acknowledge it, let alone consider its implications.


If you do nothing else today, go and check out my interview with Matt Cockerill of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL). It was truly an enjoyable half hour or so for me: we touched on everything from the history of the libertarian movement to the evolution of the peace movement to bright future promised by activist groups like YAL – which is, by the way, the fastest growing and most active segment of organized libertarianism.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Stop, Look, Listen

Before We Jump Into The Abyss

By Justin Raimondo,
November 11, 2009
Courtesy Of Anti-War

We hear daily reports that President Obama has made this or that decision about how many more troops to send to the Afghan front; the numbers vary. This Reuters report headlines "four options" the president is considering, but then names only three: sending 15,000, 30,000, or 40,000. Is the fourth option getting the heck out of that hellhole, before we destabilize the entire region?

No way, no how. The numbers may change, but what doesn’t vary is the fact that this is quite obviously a political and not a military decision: it’s all about what’s happening in Washington, and not about what’s occurring on the ground in Afghanistan and environs. And the Washington political culture, which sees government action as the cure-all for society’s ills, is not about to take inaction as the cure for anything. We must "do something" – even if it means playing right into al-Qaeda’s hands.

America’s leaders never knew what hit them on 9/11, and they still don’t. The U.S. response was to launch a conventional war against nation-states – Afghanistan, then Iraq – when neither of these constituted the real enemy.

Now we are inching into Pakistan, which is rapidly being destabilized by our efforts. Seymour Hersh’s latest report from that country draws a dark portrait of a nation on the brink, with President Asif Ali "10 Percent" Zardari sitting atop a volcano – one that could erupt in a nuclear-powered explosion that sets the world aflame.

With the Pakistani military and civilian establishment seething with resentment at the imperiousness of their American patrons and overlords, and the corruption of an entire society feeding into a fundamentalist backlash, the whole country seems ready to come apart at the seams – and this, ironically, is the latest rationale for massive U.S. intervention.

It doesn’t seem to matter that our intervention caused the initial disruption – more action on the part of Washington is always the answer to every problem. The harder we press the Pakistanis, the more they resent us and the closer we come to pushing them into a religious-nationalist reaction and the possibility of a military coup – a coup, I might add, in which the resulting government would be no more favorable to our efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere than, say, the former regime of Mullah Omar. Pakistani military officers in the know urge us to negotiate with the Taliban, but Washington is deaf to their pleas. Even now, according to Hersh, we are making arrangements to seize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event it’s in danger of falling into Islamist hands.

Our continuing and deepening alliance with India – the only country not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty with which we’re engaged in nuclear commerce – rightly troubles Islamabad. Indeed, it is their main concern, quite apart from the growing Islamist insurgency within their own borders. Pakistan and India have fought two wars over the disputed region of Kashmir – yet another legacy of British imperialism we must now bear the brunt of – and U.S. actions have done nothing to tamp down the growing tensions. Kashmir, which is overwhelmingly Muslim and pro-Pakistani, is no more a part of India than is South Dakota; despite that, we treat New Delhi’s claim on a par with Islamabad’s – yet another reason for the Pakistanis to resent their "Big Uncle" in Washington.

We can’t withdraw from Afghanistan, say the warbots, because that will leave nuclear-armed Pakistan easy prey for Osama bin Laden and his confreres. This argument is nonsensical in several respects, the most obvious being its circularity: our deepening involvement has fueled the recent surge in support for the Pakistani Taliban insurgents, whose attacks on government installations (including the central military headquarters) have underscored the essential weakness of the current regime. More U.S. interference cannot strengthen the government’s position, only weaken it – yet we barrel ahead, oblivious to the quicksand in which we and our allies are sinking.

The frantic behind-the-scenes machinations to secure Pakistan’s nukes have the disturbing aura of a self-fulfilling nightmare: the more we assert our presence and advertise our primacy, the more likely it is that the whole delicate fabric will come apart in our hands.

Bin Laden’s boys don’t need a "safe haven" to launch attacks on the U.S.: 9/11, and, more recently, the Ft. Hood massacre, taught us that. But we refuse to learn. We’re still fighting this war the old way, and we don’t even see the enemy. Oh, we rail against bin Laden and are supposedly still trying to capture him, yet all our mighty efforts are aimed at proxies: the Taliban, their Pakistani allies, and states that allegedly "harbor" terrorists. What’s needed is the kind of precision that only superior intelligence-gathering capabilities can provide us with. Instead, we go wading into southern Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan armed with a blunderbuss, when what we really need is a well-sharpened stiletto.

The president is taking a long time to make his decision about what course to follow in Afghanistan, and I, for one, am glad of it. The White House realizes the vastness of the stakes and is understandably reluctant to rush right in without at least preparing its political allies for a most unpromising fight. Nevertheless, the only option that makes any sense – ending the "Af-Pak" misadventure before it gets out of hand and shifting to an intelligence-based covert offensive – is not on the table.

Before we jump into an abyss from which there is no extrication, we need to stop, look, and listen: stop the war, look at the damage we have already done to the societies we’ve invaded, and listen to what our enemies are saying before we undertake to engage them in battle.

Bin Laden has said more than once [.pdf] that he intends to draw us deeper and deeper into hostile territory, where, bankrupt and besieged, we’ll be caught flat-footed as al-Qaeda strikes once again deep within our own territory. Mocking us, the destroyer of the twin towers has observed that he has only to hang a scarecrow in some distant field and label it "al-Qaeda," and the Americans come running with their armies of occupation. In the meantime, however, as he put it in another message,

"As for the delay in carrying out similar operations in America, this was not due to failure to breach your security measures. Operations are under preparation, and you will see them on your own ground once they are finished, God willing."

Our government’s actions aren’t protecting us; instead, we are endangered as never before. Rather than defeating the enemy, our foreign policy has only empowered him. That is the record since 9/11, and if we don’t stop, look, and listen, we are headed for catastrophe sooner rather than later.


Well, our new, more subtle approach to fundraising seemed to work for a while. On the first day we garnered around $6,000 in contributions, the best we’ve done in quite a while. The second day, however, wasn’t so great – about half that, roughly. So it looks like I’m going to have to throw subtlety to the winds – it never was my shtick, anyway – and start up with my usual hectoring.

Okay, look: the comprehensive daily coverage of international affairs provided on this Web site doesn’t come free. Oh, I know, you don’t have to pay to get our content – you’re most definitely not dealing with Rupert Murdoch here. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have costs. Everyone does. Those costs aren’t all that great. $70,000 per quarter is peanuts when we’re talking about running an organization that reaches a million-plus readers every month. Talk about efficiency: we’re reaching more readers per dollar than the evil Murdoch and his minions could ever conceive of in their wildest dreams. And we’re doing it with no organizational or institutional support: we have no big donors, there’s no highfalutin’ think-tank behind us, and we’re not beholden to any political party or faction. Here you get the facts, without the spin, about what is going on in the world and how it affects you.

Whatever contribution you make, it’s a small price to pay for the truth about U.S. foreign policy, so please let us go back to the subtle approach. It’s so much less intrusive than our traditional table-banging method. You know we deserve your support – and now is the time to give it. Contribute today!

Read more by Justin Raimondo

US Foreign Policy and The Cult Of ‘Expertise’

Americans want our rulers to mind their own business abroad – and good luck with that!

By Justin Raimondo,
December 07, 2009
Courtesy Of Anti-War

The news that Americans want the U.S. government to mind its own business when it comes to foreign affairs has our Washington elite in a panic. The explanatory notes accompanying a new Pew poll [.pdf] describe the "rise in isolationist sentiment" that started during George W. Bush’s second term and continues in the age of Obama. The agonized hand-wringing is all too apparent in the use of the "isolationist" epithet and even in the way the question was asked: should the U.S. "mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own"? Forty-nine percent – the highest proportion "in nearly half a century of polling" – answered yes. And that’s not all: a gob-smacking 76 percent agreed the U.S. should "concentrate more on our own national problems and building up our strength and prosperity here at home," as opposed to "think[ing] in international terms."

The poll took samples from two groups: common, ordinary, everyday people (i.e., you and me) and members of the Council on Foreign Relations, an elite group of foreign policy-oriented intellectuals, policy wonks, and high muckamucks. The elite group disagreed sharply with the general public’s view on virtually every important question: for example, none of the CFR members thought we should mind our own business – a policy that would go against the group’s history and orientation, which has always been pronouncedly interventionist.

Founded by disciples of Cecil Rhodes, who sought to reestablish the fading glory of the British empire by using the U.S. as Britain’s cat’s-paw, the CFR doesn’t just represent the views of the American Establishment – it is the Establishment. And that Establishment is committed irrevocably to the idea that America’s destiny is to inherit the mantle of world leadership: in the CFR’s view, the question is not whether we ought to police the world, but rather how to go about it. The American public, on the other hand, is sick to death of endless war – the inevitable result of assuming "world leadership" – and is increasingly diverging from elite opinion when it comes to the pressing foreign policy issues of the day.

For example, as this poll shows, when it comes to Afghanistan, the latest theater in which the interventionist drama is being played out, the gulf between the elites and the public is wide, and getting deeper: 50 percent of the CFR group support Obama’s Afghan "surge," while among the hoi polloi the number drops to 32 percent. Asked if the United States should be the "most assertive" world leader, only 19 percent of the general public agrees, but when it comes to the CFR, the numbers turn around: 62 percent want the "most assertive" role for the U.S.

None of this is really all that new. If I recall correctly, the last time this poll was taken, back in 2005, a "rising isolationism" was similarly conjured by the chattering classes, who took the opportunity to deride the "turning inward" of the American people – who were depicted as basking in their uninformed parochialism and refusing to take up their "duty" to police the world (and, yes, I wrote about it at the time). The dreaded "isolationist" wave, it seems, is always about to crash down on the heads of our busybody elites, whose penchant for interventionism has brought us such a painful harvest of bankruptcy and blowback. The elites are always looking over their shoulders and worrying that, one day, peasants with pitchforks will storm the castle, demanding their heads – and, if the Pew poll numbers are correct, it looks like that day may not be far off.

How do we account for the huge gap between the people and those who make policy in their name?

To begin with, we have an entire class of people whose jobs, social prestige, and livelihoods are directly tied to our foreign policy of global intervention. These people are naturally inclined to favor militarism and meddling in the affairs of other nations. This group, while small in numbers, wields an outsized influence when it comes to such matters, and it can successfully defy popular opinion for quite a long time.

It manages to hornswoggle the public with a number of scams, notably the cult of expertise, which Americans have traditionally been suckers for, and never more so than today, when confusion over the sheer complexity of some of the foreign policy issues being raised makes people particularly vulnerable to the argument from authority.

Will our intervention in Pakistan shore up the faltering government or quicken the destabilization already taking place? Does Iran have the technological capacity to make nuclear weapons? What about the alleged threat posed by a "resurgent" Russia? Ordinary human beings throw up their hands in despair when confronted with such heady topics, but if you’re a member of the Council on Foreign Relations you likely already have a well-honed position on these and other equally weighty matters – one that is probably counterintuitive to the ordinary American. Oh, but that supposedly just proves how uninformed we plebeians are, and how wise our interventionist betters.

The cult of expertise is being used to maximum effect by the Obamaites as they prepare to bog us down in the Afghan quagmire for the next five to 10 years: that’s why it supposedly took 92 days for the One to reach a decision on the Afghan escalation issue, as he conducted an extended foreign policy seminar-and-debating-society at the highest reaches of his administration. The whole charade – as if withdrawal was ever an option! – fits in with the self-described "pragmatism" of the Obama administration, which abjures general principles and affects a brisk "just the facts" get-the-job-done air – a method and style that neatly evades the question of whether the job should be done at all.

Another trick that allows the foreign policy elite to get away with pursuing a course so out of sync with the general population is elite control of the political system. As we never cease reminding the rest of the world, America is a democracy, and the people get to vote for – or vote out – their leaders. However, when both candidates – and there are usually only two major applicants for the job – advocate variations on the same interventionist themes, then the "choice" presented to voters is strictly limited, and in fact nearly meaningless.

Remember that President Obama was supported by a great number of people who mistakenly thought he embodied an alternative to the belligerent militarism of the Bush years. Now they are confronted with a "war president" who, in escalating a conflict begun by his predecessor, says he’s determined to "finish the job."

A third method used to get around the common sense "isolationism" of the American people is interventionist control of the "mainstream" media – which can be counted on to act as a megaphone for government officials and the interests that back them. While the tendency of Americans to want to stay out of foreign entanglements might apply in most cases, in some instances people are ready to make an exception if specific grounds can be found ("weapons of mass destruction," the presence of al-Qaeda, or perhaps both of these together) to make an exception.

This is why, in the case of Iran, when asked in the Pew poll if that country posed a threat to the U.S., the non-elites were more willing to use force than the elites. The War Party has already expended a lot of time, energy, and money on demonizing the Iranians and presenting Tehran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program as a threat to the U.S. and its allies. When it comes to Pakistan, however, it is the non-elites who are more skeptical of U.S. intervention in case that country’s nukes should prove insecure, and it is the CFR types who most want to crack down on the alleged threat emanating from Islamabad. Given enough time, and a shift of focus, however, the media will construct as fearsome a narrative regarding Pakistan as any concocted in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

The portrait painted by the Pew poll is of an increasingly isolated – and anxious – elite whose foreign policy views are nearly the opposite of the overwhelming majority of Americans. Our Brahmins face a crisis of confidence, one that could very well be followed by a crisis of legitimacy – and that is what they fear most of all.

This crisis is exacerbated not only by the increasing failure of our foreign policy to do what it is supposed to do – that is, protect Americans from harm – but by a number of relatively recent developments that undermine their methods of suppressing majority "isolationist" sentiment.

The first and most obvious is the Internet, which has not only bypassed the "mainstream" media and, indeed, driven it into near-bankruptcy, but which has also delivered a body blow to the cult of the "experts." After all, who is an "expert," and why are they so called? Well, because they generally have credentials and, therefore, are given a platform by the media to expound on matters they supposedly know everything about. Yet with the advent of the Internet, the significance of this "mainstream" platform is radically reduced. Add to this the wide availability of previously obscure knowledge – thanks be to the gods of Google! – and credentialism is thrown out the window. Today, an unknown writer can take to the Internet, set up a blog, and – perhaps – become the go-to source for this or that specialized branch of knowledge. An alternative crop of experts has arisen, which rivals the old crowd and indeed seems to be fast surpassing them, at least so far as influence over the public is concerned.

Yet the elite stranglehold on our foreign policy continues, in large part due to the iron grip of the interventionists on the two-party system. Our present conundrum – a president elected to office largely on the strength of his "antiwar" stance, who is now taking us into a wider and more difficult war than his warlike predecessor ever conceived – is an eloquent testament to this cruel fact.

If the leadership of both major parties sees Afghanistan as a "war of necessity," then the War Party can relax – because the restive public will have no one to turn to even as it rejects the policies put forward by the elites. This is why the policymakers can continue to ignore the rising rebellion against interventionism roiling the American street and continue talking only to themselves.

In their view, ordinary Americans don’t matter: only politicians, lobbyists, and other policy wonks matter. But this Marie Antoinette attitude can only take them so far before they run the risk of revolution.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Chief Industry: War

The Economy May Be Collapsing, But The War Business Is Booming

By Justin Raimondo,
November 18, 2009
Courtesy Of Anti-War

We often hear the complaint that America doesn’t make anything anymore: that is, our economy seems driven not by producing actual things, but utterly intangible creations such as credit default swaps and securitized sub-prime mortgages. Our once-bustling factories are rusted relics. Entire industries have collapsed. Ghost towns have sprung up where cities once thrived, like mushrooms sprouting in a cemetery. Baffled Americans, who – mistaking debt for wealth – thought they lived in the wealthiest country in the world, struggle to define what is happening. Old words like "correction," contraction," and "recession" give way to talk of a second Great Depression, and, in this context, the question "What does America make anymore?" is raised with renewed vigor.

While our factories have long since moved abroad, where wages are lower and regulation is lax, and our crippled industries are in Dr. Obama’s economic intensive care unit, on life support and awaiting last rites, America’s number-one export – representing, by far, our single largest capital investment – is our overseas military presence. What Chalmers Johnson referred to as our "empire of bases" is the framework of an international economic system in which the division of labor is roughly as follows: while Asia is the factory of the world, South America the farmland, and Europe increasingly a theme park/museum, the U.S. role is that of world gendarme.

What do you mean we don’t make anything? What about wars? We make plenty of those: Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan and perhaps Iran – the Globo-Cop business is booming.

Before the big crash of 2008, you’ll recall, in the glory days of the bubble years, our elites were all atwitter with a vague, glowing vision of the new economic reality, which touted the alleged benefits of "globalization." More than just the traditional free-market prescription of free trade, this concept envisioned extending the reach and influence of Western finance capital over the entire globe. At the end of this road – at "the end of history," as Francis Fukuyama famously put it – we would fall into the all-encompassing embrace of the emerging world state and live happily ever after.

This ever-upward-and-onward Panglossian view, which identified growing Western domination of the global economy with the march of progress itself, was the underlying rationale of an increasingly aggressive policy of U.S. military and political intervention worldwide. We said we were fighting for civilization as we bombed some of the oldest cities in Balkans, and when" humanitarian" interventionism gave way to a more Roman concept of America’s role in the world – the dividing line being, roughly, 9/11/01 – still we invoked the defense of universal values as the ultimate justification for occupation and mass murder. We unhesitatingly identified ourselves and our interests with the advent of modernity and took up the old Kiplingesque burden of empire with alacrity.

This kind of hubris, however, has since gone out of fashion. The trauma of Iraq and an economic downturn have tamped down our crusading fever; a new appeal is needed in order to buttress the global economic and political order our ruling elites once thought they had in their grasp. At a time when the whole rationale for our endless "war on terrorism" is being challenged, a more pragmatic course is called for.

As Republicans resist the extensive new social programs advanced by the Obama administration, including healthcare as yet another entitlement, and popular awareness of the national debt reaches new heights of anxiety, there is one way out: more spending on the military. Here is a measure the thoroughly neoconized Republicans can support wholeheartedly – especially if the money is being spent in their districts. This satisfies White House strategists, who seek a way out of a growing political impasse, and also the economic gurus at Obama’s ear, who believe government spending can create new jobs and kick-start the economy.

These economic geniuses are the latter-day followers of John Maynard Keynes, an economist who believed we could end unemployment and fight our way out of economic malaise by having the government hire workers to dig ditches and then fill them back up again. They didn’t necessarily have to produce anything of value, as long as they went through the motions. All government has to do is "prime the pump," and this will set in motion a process ending in full employment. You can build hospitals or pyramids, it doesn’t matter; military spending will do. In this scenario, we are back to when James Baker was asked to justify the first Gulf war, and he replied, "Jobs, jobs, jobs."

Anything to rev the "economic engine" and otherwise conflate an overused metaphor with a rather more complex reality.

The Obama administration, the Federal Reserve, and the titans of Big Business and Big Labor all face a common problem: how to re-inflate the economic bubble that burst with such a loud bang last year. So far, nothing has worked. The more they pump the economy full of air – i.e., rapidly depreciating dollars – the faster it seems to deflate. The various "stimuli" applied to the patient seem to wear off quickly. The one politically feasible "solution" to this problem is bipartisan support for greatly increased military operations worldwide. What better stimulus than a foreign policy of perpetual war?

In the heyday of the American Imperium, the deal with our vassals was this: we provided a market for their cheap imports and agreed to keep trade barriers down – as long as they took our side and, in many cases, allowed a substantial U.S. military presence on their soil. Yet this system was unsustainable. The problem with having a worldwide empire, as Garet Garrett, the mid-20th-century conservative critic of globalism, put it, is that "everything goes out and nothing comes in."

What the American empire, at its height, aspired to was the creation of a de facto world state [.pdf], with Washington as its capital. What this nascent global government lacked, however, were the two essential items in any government’s toolbox:

(1) The power to levy taxes. Earlier empires exacted tribute from their vassals, but in the American empire the exact opposite principle holds sway: our vassals exact tribute from us, in the form of "foreign aid," including massive military aid.

(2) A central bank, in this case a world central bank, with the power to monetize government debt and re-inflate the economic bubble on a world scale, regulating and "fine-tuning" a fully globalized economy.

As it is, the whole system rests on massive U.S. government debt. In exchange for policing the globe and keeping the "peace," our rulers depend on foreigners buying U.S. debt securities. This is the Achilles heel of the American giant.

As we await Obama’s decision on how many fresh troops to send to the Afghan front, a grand compromise is in the making. Its terms will be as follows: the GOP, for ideological reasons, gives critical support to Obama’s foreign policy initiatives, particularly when it comes to Afghanistan and Pakistan, while the Democratic majority pushes through successive economic stimuli, including generous handouts to their various constituencies: Wall Street, the unions, and the growing underclass. The twin engines of the Keynesian perpetual motion machine will thus be kept whirring – until the bill comes due.


I’ve been contributing regularly to The Hill in the form of brief comments on "The Big Question" of the day. Yesterday’s topic: "Which issue will be more important to voters in 2010 – the deficit or jobs?" Here is my answer.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

The Lap Bomber Mystery

A Case That Just Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

By Justin Raimondo,
December 28, 2009
Courtesy Of Anti-War

It just wouldn’t be Christmas in the age of terror if we didn’t have a visitation, ostensibly from al-Qaeda, now would it? ‘Tis the season, and all that. Recall Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," arrested on December 22, 2001, for trying to blow up American Airlines flight 63, coming into Miami from Paris. As in the current case involving one Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, the explosive used was PETN, also known as pentaerythritol: Reid, like Umar, was subdued by passengers and airline attendants, and, to add yet another touch of déjà vu, Reid’s stunt led to the imposition of the take-off-your-shoes rule at airport security, just as Umar’s midair antics have now inspired the Transportation Safety Authority to inaugurate a spate of new regulations: nothing in your lap, please, and no getting up from your seat for a solid hour before landing.

Also please note the timing: the Reid incident occurred at a volatile moment, right after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and just as the Bush administration was ramping up to invade both Afghanistan and Iraq. Umar, the lap bomber – so called because he apparently had his explosive device hidden in his pants – also leaps onto the international stage at a sensitive time, when President Obama is launching a major offensive in Afghanistan and the US has "assisted" Yemen in its air strikes on the alleged al-Qaeda stronghold in that country – where Umar, we’re told, received "training" and the actual explosive device.

Yes, the parallels are certainly eerie – but so what? After all, these terrorists are seemingly a simple-minded lot, if the behavior and demeanor of, say, Richard Reid is any indication. How many different explosive substances are available for such a "job," and, at any rate, what else can one expect from the TSA in response except a bunch of useless and needlessly intrusive regulations that have little relevance to what happened? And, of course, the US, it seems, is always launching some new attack or military campaign, somewhere, so the timing is pure chance. Right?

What’s more, the pattern fails when we take into account our own mindset, eight years after the Shoe-na’bomber affair: back then, we were all too frightened out of our wits to really question anything the government told us, and the news media reported. We took it all at face value, and trusted in the gods that we wouldn’t all be blown to smithereens in the next attack, which – for all we knew – could have come at any time.

Eight years later, our mental processes have been quickened, through bitter experience, and a growing cynicism which leads us to notice – and question – several seeming anomalies, such as: why, when Umar’s own father – a prominent banker – contacted the US embassy, and met with the CIA as well as the Nigerian intelligence agency, and warned them his son might pose a danger, was Umar allowed on a plane entering the US? Authorities tell us that he was in a database, consisting of over half a million people, said to pose a risk, but not on the "no fly" list, in spite of his own father’s warning.

How could this happen? Inquiring minds want to know.

Another break in the Shoe’na-bomber pattern is Umar himself, whose life of wealth and privilege stands in stark contrast to Reid’s. While Reid was the poor son of a jailbird, a nobody with an apparently limited mental capacity, Umar is the son of Dr. Umaru Mutallab, former economics minister in the Nigerian government and one of the country’s most prominent bankers: schooled at the exclusive British International School in Lome, Togo, and an aspiring mechanical engineer, he had a bright future ahead of him, and if any single word could be used to characterize his life prior to the Christmas day incident, it would be access.

Access not only to the best schools and opportunities, and to his posh London digs, but also access to planes without the proper documents, as one Kurt Haskell, who was on the same flight with Umar, testifies:

“I was on this flight today and am thankful to be alive. My wife and I were returning from an African safari and had this connecting flight through Amsterdam. I sat in row 27, which was 7 rows behind the terrorist. I got to see the whole thing take place and it was very scary. Thanks to a few quick acting people I am still alive today.

"…I was next to the terrorist when he checked in at the Amsterdam airport early on Christmas. My wife and I were playing cards directly in front of the check in counter. This is what I saw (and I relayed this to the FBI when we were held in customs):

"An Indian man in a nicely dressed suit around age 50 approached the check in counter with the terrorist and said ‘This man needs to get on this flight and he has no passport.’ The two of them were an odd pair as the terrorist is a short, black man that looked like he was very poor and looks around age 17(Although I think he is 23 he doesn’t look it). It did not cross my mind that they were terrorists, only that the two looked weird together. The ticket taker said ‘you can’t board without a passport.’ The Indian man then replied, ‘He is from Sudan, we do this all the time.’. I can only take from this to mean that it is difficult to get passports from Sudan and this was some sort of sympathy ploy. The ticket taker then said ‘You will have to talk to my manager,’ and sent the two down a hallway. I never saw the Indian man again as he wasn’t on the flight. It was also weird that the terrorist never said a word in this exchange. Anyway, somehow, the terrorist still made it onto the plane. I am not sure if it was a bribe or just sympathy from the security manager."

This goes way beyond weird, all the way to sinister. Perhaps we should take Janet Napolitano’s assurance that “right now we have no indication that it is part of anything larger” with a gargantuan grain of salt. Not only that, but maybe we should simply make a new rule, as follows: anything Madame Napolitano or any government official says about this or any other similar incident should be considered, at the outset, an outright lie. Assuming deception as the default, we might be better off believing the exact opposite. This argument is especially compelling in light of what Mr. Haskell has to say about the aftermath of the Christmas bomb attempt:

"FBI also arrested a different Indian man while we were held in customs after a bomb sniffing dog detected a bomb in his carry on bag and he was searched after we landed. This was later confirmed while we were in customs when an FBI agent said to us ‘You are being moved to another area because this area is not safe. Read between the lines. Some of you saw what just happened.’(The arrest of the other Indian man). I am not sure why this hasn’t made it into any news story, but I stood about 15-20 feet away from the other Indian man when he was cuffed and arrested after his search."

Why isn’t the "mainstream" media reporting this? Well, perhaps they just don’t know about it: or it could be they do know and have been asked to keep a lid on it by the authorities, not the first time such a thing has happened when it comes to the dissemination of "sensitive" information.

In any case, given the veracity of Haskell’s account, it is clear that, contrary to news reports, Umar was no "lone nut," but had at least one accomplice with him on board the plane. Furthermore, both of his accomplices – the one who got him on the plane without a passport, and the one nabbed by the bomb-sniffing dog – may have been Indians.

What India has to do with all this is sheer speculation. While India’s foreign intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), stands accused by Pakistanis of being behind much of the sectarian strife that riles the region, it’s unclear – to me, at least – what interest they would have in stirring the pot in faraway Yemen, the supposed source of the plot. If, however, it should suddenly be discovered that the "real" source of all this lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where Washington insists Osama bin Laden & Co. have set up their world headquarters, the Indian connection would make sense.

Haskell concludes his account as follows:

"What also didn’t make the news is that we were held on the plane for 20 minutes after it landed! A bomb could have gone off then. This wasn’t too smart of security to not let us off the plane immediately.

"You can see what time I am writing this as I am having a hard time sleeping tonight. Just thought some of you would like to know what I saw, Merry Christmas."

A telling note of authenticity there: clueless bureaucrats keep him on a plane that might be about to explode, and a Merry Christmas to all – and to all a good night!

No wonder the poor guy couldn’t sleep. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t sleep for a week. And if, somehow, I did manage to take a cat nap or two, I’d dream of Umar being led onto the plane, passport-less, escorted by his mysterious helpers, including several demonic figures lurking in the background, chortling and rubbing their hands together in gleeful anticipation.

We are asked to believe that a highly privileged young man, with everything to live for, was suddenly seized with a desire to commit suicide as an act of jihad: that he disappeared from his life of ease, on a street lined with Mercedes Benzes and Ferraris, in a fashionable district of London, and traveled to Yemen, where he received what may have been a defective bomb, which was sewn into his underwear by his jihadist trainers. This bomb then went undetected in Amsterdam airport, where the security arrangements are said to be tight (and a personal interview is conducted), and where he was let on a plane headed for the US in spite of explicit warnings given by his own father.

I’m not buying it, and, furthermore, in the context of Haskell’s testimony, another narrative seems just as likely: that this was a staged incident, a false flag operation, launched by those who have everything to gain by ramping up the atmosphere of hysteria and fear that regularly precedes America’s wars. This – admittedly speculative – scenario, of which I am equally skeptical, is buttressed, however, by the testimony of Jasper Schuringa – the passenger who leapt out of his seat on the other side of the plane, put out the fire, and secured Umar in a headlock – who says of the alleged terrorist:

“He was shaking. He didn’t resist anything. It’s just hard to believe that he was trying to blow up this plane. He was in a trance. He was very afraid.”

He didn’t resist? This hardly seems like the behavior one might expect of some fanatic jihadist bent on destruction and meeting those virgins in the afterlife.

The simplistic narrative that took shape as the news broke is already beginning to break up into something a bit more complicated, as additional information comes out, including this brief news item that just came across the wires:

"A passenger aboard the same Northwest Airlines flight that was attacked on Christmas Day was taken into custody here Sunday after becoming verbally disruptive upon landing, officials said.

"A law enforcement official said the man was Nigerian and had locked himself in the airliner’s bathroom. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

"Delta Air Lines spokeswoman Susan Elliott said crew members requested that security remove the man from Flight 253 after he became disruptive. The remaining 255 passengers got off safely, she said.

"Airport spokesman Scott Wintner said it was the same flight on which a man tried to set off an explosive on Christmas Day.

"’The pilot requested emergency assistance upon arrival,’ he said. Security and airline personnel are on edge since the attempted terror attack on Christmas Day, and the law enforcement official said that lesser incidents had been reported on other flights arriving in Detroit, but the incident with the Nigerian man had sparked the most concern."

Whether Nigerian, or Indian, something is up here, and it seems to have little to do with al-Qaeda, which – breaking its past habit of promptly taking "credit" – has yet to claim responsibility for the attempted attack. More grounds for suspicion: allegations that the Detroit incident was planned and carried out by al-Qaeda in Yemen can be traced back to "IntelCenter," a mysterious private contractor with a dubious reputation [.pdf] (see frames 89-100) that does business with the intelligence community.

Another shoe is bound to drop – the arrest of this other "Nigerian" may be it, along with the surprising news that Detroit, for some reason, seems to be the latest "terrorist" target – and when it does, I’m wondering how much closer to the truth we’ll get. One thing is certain, however, and it is this: look on the pronouncements of government officials with a very jaundiced eye.

Already Joe Lieberman and several Republicans are calling for more preemptive strikes on targets in Yemen, and it’s not hard to see that the US is very close to opening up yet another "front" in our eternal "war on terrorism." Deeper into the quagmire we go – and those demons in my dreamscape are chortling ever louder.

Read more by Justin Raimondo