The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts
Story 1: The Coming Wipe Out Election of 2014 Drowns Democrats in Defeat and Obama’s Failed Presidency — Republicans Will Control Senate With 56 Senators and House With 250 Representatives — Jobs –Obamacare–Budgets — Scandals (JOBS) Were The Issues — Big Losers: The Washington Political Elitist Establishment (PEEs) and Mainstream Media — Real Winners: Independents and Tea Party Patriots — Balance The Budget and Enforce Immigration Law and Deport The 30-50 Illegal Aliens Now Or You Are Next! — Videos
The Ventures Live: Wipe Out
• Glenn Beck Discusses 2014 Midterm Elections • Hannity • 10/28/14
Will Republicans win control the Senate?
Scathing Immigration Report – Illegal Immigration Laura Ingraham Weighs In – O’Reilly
Officials say suspect in killings of California deputies was deported twice
Mexican Man Who was Deported Twice Kills 2 Cops and 1 Civilian in California.
Suspect in Killing of Deputies Was Twice Deported
Deputy killed, three others hurt in California shooting spree
Suspect in Sacramento deputy shootings now in custody
Illegal alien kills two California sheriff deputies
Confirmed — illegal alien drug dealer cop killer deported twice
Sheriff’s officials have identified the suspect as Marcelo Marquez, but the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said in a statement Saturday that his name actually is Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte.
Glenn Beck On Tea Party Vs Republican Party – O’Reilly
Poll shows independents growing in US
Poll Record High 42 Percent Americans Identify As Independents
Most Political Independents Ever In USA
Reason’s Nick Gillespie on the Rise of the Independent Voter
Dan Mitchell Discussing the Tipping Point when America Becomes a Failed Welfare State
5 Facts About Govt Spending: Nick Gillespie at Reason Weekend 2012
“Politicians are like criminals in Batman comics. They’re a superstitious, cowardly lot. And the minute that they know they’re going to lose elections because they’re spending too much money, they will find their inner cheapskate and start [spending less],” said Reason’s Nick Gillespie during his speech at the Reason Weekend event in Las Vegas. In “5 Unacknowledged, Unexpected, and Unavoidable Facts about Government Spending and the Economy,” Gillespie says politicians such as President Obama and John Boehner are in denial. Influential economists like Paul Krugman and Lawrence Summers correctly diagnose debt as a problem even as they prescribe more debt as the cure. Gillespie argues that: • We’re spending too much. Two wars, entitlement growth, and a massive stimulus are the results of a spending frenzy over the last decade. • We’ve got too much debt. Every level of government is in over their heads. The literal and figurative bankruptcies of cities such as Stockton, California and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania are the canaries in the coal mine. • Debt overhang kills growth. The latest studies are clear: excessive debt, sustained over long periods of time, hurts economic growth. Beyond the cost of higher interest rate payments, increasingly higher debt loads — which Gillespie calls “a ziggurat of doom” — promises to reduce opportunities for everyone. • Spending growth is driven by entitlements. Since the Great Society programs of the 1960s, the government has switched from providing infrastructure and basic services, to being a national insurance broker. The consequences of this are dire because, as statistician Nate Silver notes, “most of us don’t much care for our insurance broker.” • Trust in government is at historic lows. This kind of distrust is an inevitable result of a mismanaged economy. Yet it’s also cause for optimism. Public discontent sow the seeds of reform, allowing the possibility of meaningful fiscal reform. Gillespie’s talk, in which he also sketches solutions to long-term economic malaise, is followed by audience Q&A.
Eight Reasons Why Big Government Hurts Economic Growth
Free Markets and Small Government Produce Prosperity
Want Less Corruption? Shrink the Size of Government
TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism
This interview was filmed February 10, 1999. What are the elements of the libertarian movement and how does one of its most illustrious proponents, Milton Friedman, apply its tenets to issues facing the United States today? Milton Friedman, Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences discusses how he balances the libertarians’ desire for a small, less intrusive government with environmental, public safety, food and drug administration, and other issues.
TAKEOVER: “The Rise Of The Tea Party”
The Tea Party Continuing the Revolution in American Thought
Tea Party America (BBC Documentary)
Yaron Brook at Tea Party Patriots Summit
Will Hunting had it right 14 years ago
George Carlin – It’s a big club and you ain’t in it
George Carlin – Voting
Independments Walk Out of
The Democratic and Republican Parties
The Ventures – Walk Don’t Run
Independent and Tea Party Patriot Candidates
And New Third Party Are In The Pipeline
The Ventures – PIPELINE
U.S. Voters Divided on Party Better to Control Congress
U.S. registered voters do not have a clear preference on whether the country would be better off if Republicans (29%) or Democrats (27%) controlled Congress, with 40% saying it would be the same regardless of which party is in power. In the 2006 Democratic and 2010 Republican “wave” elections, voters had a clear preference for the party that won. Today’s views are most similar to the 2002 elections, which saw more modest change in the party composition of Congress.
The 2006 and 2010 elections were contested at a time when one party had control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, and voters were more likely to think the country would benefit from shifting control of Congress away from the majority party than keeping it with that party. In 2002, as now, party control was divided, with the president’s party having control of one house of Congress but not the other. The blurred lines of accountability could explain why voters did not more clearly show a preference for which party controlled Congress in 2002 or this year. But other aspects of Americans’ current mood look more like they did in 2006 and 2010 — and in other years, such as 1982 and 1994, in which there were major shakeups in congressional membership — than in 2002. These include their subpar ratings of the job performance of the president and of Congress, and their low satisfaction with the direction of the country as a whole.
The president’s party typically loses seats in midterm elections, but those losses tend to be greater when Americans’ approval ratings of the president, and of Congress, are relatively poor, and when Americans are not satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. In years like 1986, 1998 and 2002, when Americans were generally upbeat about the state of the nation, there tended to be less change in the membership of Congress in the midterm elections. Importantly, though these key indicators are still low on an absolute basis, most of the current updates are a bit more positive than what Gallup measured earlier this year. For example, congressional job approval has averaged 14% so far in 2014
and has not been as high as the current 20% since just before the 2012 elections. Also, the current 27% satisfied with the way things are going in the United States exceeds the 2014 average to date of 23%
; satisfaction was last at this level in July 2013. President Barack Obama’s job approval rating, 44% in the Oct. 29-Nov. 2 poll, is nominally more positive, but not significantly different from, the 42% he has averaged in Gallup Daily tracking over the past week
. Americans’ improving economic confidence
may be one reason the current national mood indicators are a bit more positive than they have been. And while the level of improvement is not enough to fundamentally erase the Republicans’ advantage going into Tuesday’s elections, it does suggest the negative climate that has been providing the wind at the GOP’s back may not be quite strong as it was a few months, or even weeks, ago. Implications
The national political climate, as measured by several key indicators of Americans’ satisfaction with current conditions in the country and how the nation is being governed, usually gives a strong sense of which way a midterm election will go. And this year, with a Democratic president in office and Americans in a generally negative mood, the fundamentals point to 2014 being a better year for the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Indeed, the general consensus among political experts is that the Republicans will increase their majority in the House of Representatives and could win control of the Senate. And though the key indicators are about as negative this year as they have been in past wave elections, 2014 may not see the same level of shakeup in Congress as was the case in 2006, 2010 and other years. The key variable working against a 2014 wave may be that divided party control in Washington already exists when it did not in 1994, 2006 and 2010, and thus, frustrated voters this year have no clear way to act on their frustration by changing the party composition of the federal government. With Obama in office for two more years and little chance of Republicans losing their House majority, divided government should still be in place regardless of which party has the Senate majority, and the way the nation is governed over the next two years may not materially change. Survey Methods
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 29-Nov. 2, 2014, with a random sample of 1,832 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For results based on the total sample of 1,590 registered voters, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
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Story 1: The Select Committee on Benghazi Will Never Answer The Most Important Questions — Why Was The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) In Benghazi, Libya and What Were They Doing? — Shipping Arms Through Turkey To The Syrian Rebels — Free Syrian Army, Al Nustra, Islamic State — Al Qaeda Arms Deal Gone Bad — Congress and Obama Arms Our Enemies To Kill Christians — The War on Christians! — Videos
The Tyrant’s Liars Club
Benghazi Select Committee Holds First Public Hearing Trey Gowdy On The Record
Watch Live: Select Committee on Benghazi Holds First Hearing
President Obama announces bipartisan House and Senate support of his plan to arm rebels in Syria
Islamic State: Obama’s plan to arm Syrian rebels approved
Rand Paul Lambasts White House, Congress for Arming Syrian Rebels
General: Benghazi ‘Botched Arms Deal’ To Muslim Brotherhood And Al Qaeda
Chairman Gowdy’s Questioning in First Benghazi Select Committee Hearing
Trey Gowdy Demands Answers On Benghazi
Rand Paul Destroys Hillary Clinton Over Benghazi-Gate During Capitol Hill Press Conference
Chaffetz: Clinton’s Top Aides Involved In Benghazi Documents Scrub
Hillary allies secretly removed Benghazi documents damaging to her ahead of ARB probe
Obama Admin Lied To Us! They Knew Who Attack Us In Benghazi, Libya On 9-11!!
RUSH: Benghazi Cover-Up Blown Wide Open And Nobody’s Talking About It
CIA Arming Syrian Rebels With Missiles, Taxpayer Dollars
Congress Passes War Funding To Support Obama’s ISIS Fight
The Benghazi Select Committee: Many Questions Remain Unanswered
Patrick Cockburn on the rise of the Islamic State
The Rise of ISIS: US Invasion of Iraq, Foreign Backing of Syrian Rebels Helped Fuel Jihadis’ Advance
Patrick Cockburn: U.S. Turns Blind Eye As Saudis Fund Jihadists in Syrian Conflict (2 of 2)
Syria – Who are Jabhat al-Nusra? – Truthloader
Who are ISIS? – Truthloader
Thousands of Surface To Air Missiles Are Missing In Libya
Libya rebels discover Gaddafi’s huge tank store in Tripoli ready for battle
The largest arms depot in Africa ( Alqaha)been taking over by Libyan freedom fighters
Benghazi, Arms for Rebels & Obama Lies About Syrian Chemical Weapons
FSA rebels shoot down SAA aircraft with 9K38 “Igla” MANPADS
Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front): Reports on Terror Group from CNN & Al-Jazeera… Purpose Explained!
13 Hours – Full Interview of the Three Benghazi Survivors – Fox News
Benghazi – The Truth Behind The Smokescreen – Bret Baier Reporting
Glenn Beck Why Obama Hid the Truth of Benghazi
Rep. Trey Gowdy blasts Jay Carney and Ambassador Susan Rice: I want to know why we were lied to!
Susan Rice Caught Lying About Benghazi – Rep. Trey Gowdy Whistleblower Questioning
Treason Exposed! Obama Used Benghazi Attack to Cover Up Arms Shipments to Muslim Brotherhood
CIA Pressuring Agents With Knowledge Of Benghazi To Keep Silent
SYRIA CNBC: Benghazi Is Not About Libya But An Operation To Put Arms & Men In Syria
Retired Lt Gen Jerry Boykin suspects US Was Running Guns To Syrian Rebels Via Benghazi
SYRIA Rand Paul “Maybe We Were Facilitating Arms Leaving Libya Going Through Turkey Into Syria”
Rand Paul Blasts Stupid Senate for Wanting to Arm Syrian al-Qaeda Fighters
Sen. Rand Paul: ‘Worldwide War on Christianity’ Ignored by Obama, Media
House Votes to Arm Syrian Rebels; CR Passes (Updated) (Video)
After voting to give President Barack Obama the authority to arm and train Syrian rebels, the House passed legislation Wednesday to fund the government until Dec. 11, moving the bill to avoid a government shutdown and address Islamic State organizations to the Senate.
House lawmakers voted 319-108 to pass the continuing resolution, with 143 Democrats joining 176 Republicans in support of the measure. 55 Democrats and 53 Republicans voted against the bill.
A vote on the spending bill, which will continue government spending through Dec. 11 at a $1.012 trillion level, was delayed last week so lawmakers could attach a request from the president to give him Title 10 authority to fight the Islamic State group.
That authority would allow the Obama administration to equip Syrian rebels for the intended purpose of fighting ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also referred to as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Obama praised the House and urged the Senate to follow suit on the legislation, which he reiterated is not an authorization for the use of U.S. troops in Syria.
“Today’s vote is another step closer to having the authorization to train and equip vetted elements of the moderate Syrian opposition so they can defend themselves against, and ultimately push back on, ISIL forces,” he said in a statement
Just before the CR vote, lawmakers voted 273-156 to adopt the Syrian rebel amendment. 159 Republicans and 114 Democrats voted for the proposal, while 85 Republicans and 71 Democrats voted against it.
As voting on the amendment took place, members stared at the board in the House chamber showing who was voting for the amendment and who was voting against it. Despite a tally that was never really close, it was a dramatic vote.
Much of the debate on the CR turned into a debate on the proposal to arm Syrian rebels, and, more broadly, the specter of another war in the Middle East. In fact, the CR has become such a proxy for the Syria amendment that the Club for Growth, a conservative group opposed to the spending bill, withdrew its key vote on the legislation, explaining that the vote was now largely driven by foreign policy.
But if it were true that foreign policy was driving decisions on the CR, then it was the memories of past foreign policy decisions largely driving this current debate.
Liberal Democrats and some conservative Republicans worried on the House floor that this initial authorization was the first step of a larger military entanglement.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., a staunch opponent of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said the six-hour debate on the amendment reminded her of “the failure to have a thorough and robust debate in the wake of 9/11,” which, she said resulted in an overly broad authorization that was a “blank check for perpetual war.”
Other members voted against the amendment because they worried of an opposite effect. Louisiana Republican John Fleming expressed concern that the authorization was “little more than an incremental strategy, not unlike the one used in Vietnam.”
“History warns of the dangers of such approaches,” Fleming said. “By moving hesitantly in piecemeal fashion, the enemy has more time to learn, adapt and get stronger. This is a recipe for a stalemate and failure.”
Many other lawmakers expressed concern over the stated strategy of arming the Free Syrian Army. They said there was no guarantee those rebels would always be allies of the United States, or that they wouldn’t simply use their U.S.-supplied weapons to take down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad instead of ISIL.
The Obama administration says there will be a thorough vetting process before any Syrian rebel is handed a weapon, but, by Wednesday, many lawmakers remained less than convinced. California Republican Dana Rohrabacher called the administration’s plan “wishful thinking, not realistic planning.”
But congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle insisted the authority was needed.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said earlier Wednesday that Obama deserved the support of Democrats in what she acknowledged was a “war vote,” but a proposal that was “discrete” and “short-term.”
“It is not pleasant, it’s not easy,” Pelosi later said on the House floor. “It’s hard. But it really is necessary for the House to approve this.”
Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said ISIL was already threatening U.S. allies in the Middle East and in Europe. ”And if left unchecked,” he said, “it will surely threaten us here at home.”
The ranking Democrat on the Armed Services panel, Adam Smith of Washington, argued that arming Syrian rebels would deny ISIL a “safe-haven,” and Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon of California, who sponsored the amendment, said there was “no doubt” that any strategy to defeat ISIL would need to include a Syria component.
The plan to arm Syrian rebels is a middle-of-the-road response to the rise of ISIL. It isn’t an Authorization for the Use of Military Force, as the amendment explicitly indicates, and it won’t, by itself, dismantle terrorists in the region. But it’s not nothing.
Speaker John A. Boehner appealed to his conference by arguing this was a first step toward defeating ISIL, saying Congress had a responsibility to give the president this authority. While hetold reporters Tuesday there’s “a lot more” the U.S. needed to be doing to address ISIL, the Ohio Republican said there was “no reason not to do what the president asked us to do.”
Already, GOP leaders seem to be indicating that the House may soon consider a new authorization for use of military force for the Middle East, with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthytelling reporters on Monday that, “after November,” there may be an “opportunity” to debate a larger military authorization.
As for the CR itself, the 10-week extension, if it is — as expected — agreed to by the Senate and signed by the president, will force lawmakers to return after the midterm elections and begin work on a more permanent spending solution. Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said he was hopeful the House and Senate could work out an omnibus package similar to the one lawmakers worked out in January 2014.
“It is my sincere hope that if this CR is enacted, we can use the coming months wisely to craft agreement on all 12 bills by Dec. 11,” said the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Nita M. Lowey of New York. “There is absolutely no reason to punt our responsibilities into the new year and new Congress.”
Conservatives had pushed for a longer CR — one that would fund the government until, say, March 1, 2015 — so that a new Congress, perhaps one with a Senate under Republican control, could set the spending levels. Conservatives also voiced concern over extending the Export-Import Bank until June 30, 2015. They wanted to simply let the credit agency expire.
But the reauthorization until June 30 seemed to scare Democrats more than Republicans. Democrats are showing unease that they won’t have a must-pass bill in June to which they can attach another extension of the Ex-Im Bank, and they worry that decoupling the agency from a spending bill will ultimately kill it.
Democrats seemed to understand, however, that holding up the CR over the length of extension on such an inside-the-Beltway issue would not be politically advantageous just before an election.
Passing the CR allows both Republicans and Democrats to get back to their districts early and campaign for about six weeks before the midterms. While the House is scheduled to be in session next week, most aides expect McCarthy to cancel the remaining legislative days before November and send everyone to the campaign trail early.
Clinton insiders screened Benghazi documents before ARB probe, official says
BY ED MORRISSEY
Just how unfettered was that “unfettered access” promised by the State Department to the Accountability Review Board in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack two years ago? According to one of the four officials punished and then cleared by State for the failures that led to the death of four men, a weekend housecleaning operation kept the ARB from seeing some of the most explosive documentation related to the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell told Sharyl Attkisson that the operation was supervised by advisers within Hillary Clinton’s inner circle, in this Daily Signal exclusive:
As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to “separate” damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story. …
When he arrived, Maxwell says he observed boxes and stacks of documents. He says a State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though the office director technically worked for him, Maxwell says he wasn’t consulted about her weekend assignment.
“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisors.
“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ”
Not long afterward, two people high up the State Department chain arrived to check on the operation. Attkisson describes them as “close confidants” of Hillary Clinton, probably from Maxwell’s own description, although neither are named in Attkisson’s report. Maxwell says that both of them accompanied him into another office with a fourth person, where they personally vetted more documents:
Maxwell says after those two officials arrived, he, the office director and an intern moved into a small office where they looked through some papers. Maxwell says his stack included pre-attack telegrams and cables between the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and State Department headquarters. After a short time, Maxwell says he decided to leave.
“I didn’t feel good about it,” he said.
Don’t expect that this will disappear as quietly. Maxwell says that members of the select House committee on Benghazi have already deposed him on this weekend filing session, including both chair Trey Gowdy and Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz told Attkisson that he is “100% confident the Benghazi Select Committee is going to dive deep on that issue.”
The ARB has insisted all along that they conducted a thorough and independent probe, a claim at which Maxwell scoffs on both counts in Attkisson’s report. This could let them off the hook, though. If State conspired to hide evidence from them, it will give the ARB an opening to withdraw their report — which would be a PR move entirely, since the ARB had no authoritative status otherwise — and give Congress even more validation for pursuing this in select-committee form. If Maxwell testifies to this in open session and the BSC finds one or more corroborating witnesses, it will put this right back front and center. And we may still yet hear from the unnamed advisers, too, as to what their orders were, and who gave them.
Benghazi Post-Attack Satellite Revelations
Benghazi, Libya showing the locations of the U. S. Consulate and CIA Annex on the outskirts of town
Perplexing questions yet remain surrounding the attacks in Benghazi that killed U.S. Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Satellite images taken before and AFTER the attacks, which anyone can view on Google Earth, show evidence of the attacks at both the Consulate and CIA Annex. They help clarify conditions on the ground at the time.
Google Earth (GE) is an incredibly useful online tool. With it, armchair sleuths at home can uncover important details about news events that get overlooked by the big shot mainstream media.
Such is the case with the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
Geography and News Events
Google Earth provides two unique capabilities to the armchair sleuth:
- A scalable geographic look at any place on Earth and its surroundings
- A history of images of that place to investigate its background and history
Most important for investigating the Benghazi attacks is that the most current GE satellite image of both the Consulate and CIA Annex were taken on 9/17/2012, just 6 days after the attack.
GE’s image history is used to go back and forth between before and after images to identify evidence of the attacks visible from space.
For the attack on the CIA Annex this is particularly important because Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed when hit by mortar fire while defending the Annex from a rooftop position.
The U.S. Consulate
Plainly visible on the satellite image of the Consulate complex are the burned out remains of two vehicles, the charred remains of burnt furniture next to one of the vehicles and the couch and other things tossed into the swimming pool by either the terrorists or looters.
GE shows us that the U.S. Consulate is located on the outskirts of Benghazi in a very open area surrounded by an orchard and soccer field. Contrary to news reports, GE tells us it is in a narrow rectangular shaped property about 300 feet wide and 800 feet long.
The property is surrounded by trees with no visible wall. It was built as a residence. It has two gates.
The back gate has no defenses whatsoever.
The consulate has three main buildings and a guardhouse at the front gate. The front gate has been fortified with barriers since October of 2011. Those barriers are the only visible signs of increased security at the Consulate. The unprotected back gate opens onto Fourth Ring Road, one of the main streets circling Benghazi.
Its three main structures are the consulate building, a detached Ambassador’s residence with saferoom where Ambassador Stephens was found; and a nearby guard barracks near the front gate.
GE history reveals the main consulate building, detached residence and swimming pool were a lonely patch of dirt in August of 2007 and that they were under construction in June of 2009. Little has changed since then.
During the consulate attack Navy SEAL Woods and others came from the CIA Annex, fought their way to consulate, rescued staff and recovered the body of Sean Smith. They took them back to the CIA Annex from the consulate.
The CIA Annex
CIA Annex showing where mortar rounds struck building tops and grounds
Line of sight, the CIA Annex complex is located about a mile from the consulate next to what appears to be a large warehouse with many buildings.
The annex is within a thick wall surrounding a 300 X 400 foot rectangle. It is better fortified and much more defensible than the consulate. It is also closer to civilian targets.
The annex took mortar fire. Mortar strikes show up as distinct smudges on the satellite image near the red dots. Navy SEALs Doherty and Woods were killed by one of the rooftop mortar strikes.
GE history reveals the annex was built some time after June 28th, 2009.
From satellite images it is easy to see why Ambassador Stephens would be seriously concerned about consulate security, especially given all the al Qaeda activity in area and previous attacks.
The consulate, originally built as someone’s house, was barely modified after it was acquired by the U.S. government. It is not even clear from satellite imagery that it had a surrounding wall. Its unguarded back gate opens onto a main Benghazi street and is easily penetrable.
The Annex is better protected and was successfully defended against a physical breach, albeit at the cost of Doherty and Woods who gave their lives defending the annex from a rooftop position.
Woods and Doherty probably deserve the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroic efforts.
Armchair sleuthing reveals this immutable fact… the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, one of the most dangerous places in the world, was woefully under-protected at the time of the attacks. The warning signs of another inevitable attack were all present. Those up the chain of command had been told.
Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith and the others didn’t stand a chance.
Someone MUST be held accountable!
Intrigue Surrounding The Secret CIA Operation In Benghazi Is Not Going Away
In May CNN’s Jake Tapper argued that the CIA’s presence in Benghazi, where four Americans were killed in an attack on September 11, 2012, should be scrutinized.
Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) agreed, saying: “There are questions that must be asked of the CIA and this must be done in a public way.”
The Agency, for its part, doesn’t want anyone knowing what it was doing in the Libyan port city.
On Thursday Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston of CNN reported that the CIA “is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.”
Sources told CNN that 35 Americans were in Benghazi that night — 21 of whom were working out of the annex — and that several were wounded, some seriously.
One source said: “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation.”
Among the questions are whether CIA missteps contributed to the security failure in Benghazi and, more importantly, whether the Agency’s Benghazi operation had anything to do with reported heavy weapons shipments from the local port to Syrian rebels.
In short, the CIA operation is the most intriguing thing about Benghazi.
Here’s what we know:
At about 9:40 p.m. local time on Sept. 11, a mob of Libyans attacked a building housing U.S. State Department personnel. At 10:20 p.m. Americans arrived from a CIA annex located 1.2 miles away, to help the besieged Americans. At 11:15 p.m. they fled with survivors back to the secret outpost.
Armed Libyans followed them and attacked the annex with rockets and small arms from around midnight to 1:00 a.m., when there was a lull in the fighting.
Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL and CIA security contractor, was with a team of Joint Special Operations Command military operators and CIA agents in Tripoli at the time of the attack. When they received word of the assault on the mission, Doherty and six others bribed the pilots of small jet with $30,000 cash for a ride to Benghazi.
At about 5:15 a.m., right after Doherty’s group arrived, the attackers began shooting mortars at the annex, leading to the death of Doherty and fellow former Navy SEAL and CIA contractor Tyrone Woods.
At 6 a.m. Libyan forces from the military intelligence service arrived and subsequently took more than 30 Americans — only seven of whom were from the State Department — to the Benghazi airport.
So the CIA’s response to go to the mission where Ambassador Christopher Stevens was located, after being held back for 20 minutes, saved American lives but also ended up exposing the annex.
And according to Paula Broadwell, the mistress of David Petraeus when he was CIA director, the CIA may have provided an impetus for the attack by holding prisoners: “Now I don’t know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back.”‘
At its heart a CIA operation’
The top-secret presence and location of the CIA outpost was first acknowledged by Charlene Lamb, a top official in the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, during Congressional testimony in October.
Representatives Jason Chaffetz and Darrell Issa immediately called a point of order when Lamb exposed the location of the annex, and asked for the revelation to be stricken from the record.
“I totally object to the use of that photo,” Chaffetz. said. “I was told specifically while I was in Libya I could not and should not ever talk about what you’re showing here today.”
In November The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. mission in Benghazi “was at its heart a CIA operation.”
In January, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that the CIA was leading a “concerted effort to try to track down and find and recover … MANPADS [man-portable air defense systems]” looted from the stockpiles of toppled Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
The State Department “consulate” served as diplomatic cover for the previously-hidden annex.
Weapons from Benghazi to Syria
Also in October we reported the connection between Ambassador Stevens, who died in the attack, and a reported September shipment of SA-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles (i.e. MANPADS) and rocket-propelled grenades from Benghazi to Syria through southern Turkey.
That 400-ton shipment — “the largest consignment of weapons” yet for Syrian rebels — was organized by Abdelhakim Belhadj, who was the newly-appointed head of the Tripoli Military Council.
In March 2011 Stevens, the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan rebels, worked directly with Belhadj while he headed the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
Stevens’ last meeting on Sept. 11 was with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and a source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi “to negotiate a weapons transfer in an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists.”
Syrian rebels subsequently began shooting down Syrian helicopters and fighter jets with SA-7s akin to those in Qaddafi’s looted stock. (The interim Libyan government also sent money and fighters to Syria.)
What did the CIA know?
Collectively these details raise the question of what the CIA knew, given that Agency operatives in Libya were rounding up SA-7s, ostensibly to destroy them, while operatives in southern Turkey were funneling weapons to the rebels.
The State Department told CNN that it was not involved in any transfer of weapons to other countries, but it “can’t speak for any other agencies.”
Ambassador Stevens certainly would have known if the new Libyan government was sending 400 tons of heavy weapons to Turkey from Benghazi’s port.
Just like the CIA would know if those the weapons arrived in Turkey and began showing up in Syria.
Journalist Damien Spleeters created this sourced map, drawing info shared on social media such as YouTube, that gives an idea of the MANPADS presence in Syria.
We’ve added red tag noting the Turkish port, Iskenderun, where the massive SA-7 shipment docked.
And this map of nearby Turkish highways shows that the heavy weapons could have been transported from the port to the Syrian city of Aleppo in three hours.
Other intriguing details
This week Nancy Youssef of McClatchy reported that Ambassador Stevens twice turned down offers for additional security, despite specifically asking for more men in cables to the State Department.
Right after the attack American Matthew VanDyke, who fought with Libyan rebels during their revolution, told us he suspected that extremist groups in the nearby mountains — who felt marginalized by the new Libyan government — “saw their opportunity to pounce.”
In May Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kent.) told CNN: “I’ve actually always suspected that, although I have no evidence, that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya going through Turkey into Syria. … Were they trying to obscure that there was an arms operation going on at the CIA annex? I’m not sure exactly what was going on, but I think questions ought to be asked and answered.”
So now that the White House has released more than 100 pages of Benghazi emails, and the State Department’s role during and after the attack have been probed ad nauseam, the only thing to explore is “whatever [the CIA] was doing.”
UN has testimony showing Syrian rebels used sarin gas
WW3 UPDATE – U.S. Intelligence: Rebels Used Sarin Gas
U.N. Strong Suspicions That Syrian Rebels Used Sarin Gas
Syria Gas Attack – ‘Eyes Twitching, Noses Foaming’ (CNN, 30Aug13)
Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra Caught with Sarin Gas inside Turkey
Seymour Hersh: Obama “Cherry Picked” Intel on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike (1 of 2)
Seymour Hersh: Obama “Cherry Picked” Intel on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike (2 of 2)
Sy Hersh Reveals Potential Turkish Role in Syria Chemical Strike That Almost Sparked U.S. Bombing
U.S. Ship Finishes Neutralizing Syria’s Worst Chemical Arms: Pentagon
Syrian Sarin gas chemicals destroyed.
The Red Line and the Rat Line
Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels
In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.＊ Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.
For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’
The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’ (Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: ‘No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.’)
Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention. The others, including the ringleader, Haytham Qassab, for whom the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 25 years, were released pending trial. In the meantime the Turkish press has been rife with speculation that the Erdoğan administration has been covering up the extent of its involvement with the rebels. In a news conference last summer, Aydin Sezgin, Turkey’s ambassador to Moscow, dismissed the arrests and claimed to reporters that the recovered ‘sarin’ was merely ‘anti-freeze’.
The DIA paper took the arrests as evidence that al-Nusra was expanding its access to chemical weapons. It said Qassab had ‘self-identified’ as a member of al-Nusra, and that he was directly connected to Abd-al-Ghani, the ‘ANF emir for military manufacturing’. Qassab and his associate Khalid Ousta worked with Halit Unalkaya, an employee of a Turkish firm called Zirve Export, who provided ‘price quotes for bulk quantities of sarin precursors’. Abd-al-Ghani’s plan was for two associates to ‘perfect a process for making sarin, then go to Syria to train others to begin large scale production at an unidentified lab in Syria’. The DIA paper said that one of his operatives had purchased a precursor on the ‘Baghdad chemical market’, which ‘has supported at least seven CW efforts since 2004’.
A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN’s activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March in Khan Al-Assal, a village near Aleppo. In its final report in December, the mission said that at least 19 civilians and one Syrian soldier were among the fatalities, along with scores of injured. It had no mandate to assign responsibility for the attack, but the person with knowledge of the UN’s activities said: ‘Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.’
In the months before the attacks began, a former senior Defense Department official told me, the DIA was circulating a daily classified report known as SYRUP on all intelligence related to the Syrian conflict, including material on chemical weapons. But in the spring, distribution of the part of the report concerning chemical weapons was severely curtailed on the orders of Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. ‘Something was in there that triggered a shit fit by McDonough,’ the former Defense Department official said. ‘One day it was a huge deal, and then, after the March and April sarin attacks’ – he snapped his fingers – ‘it’s no longer there.’ The decision to restrict distribution was made as the joint chiefs ordered intensive contingency planning for a possible ground invasion of Syria whose primary objective would be the elimination of chemical weapons.
The former intelligence official said that many in the US national security establishment had long been troubled by the president’s red line: ‘The joint chiefs asked the White House, “What does red line mean? How does that translate into military orders? Troops on the ground? Massive strike? Limited strike?” They tasked military intelligence to study how we could carry out the threat. They learned nothing more about the president’s reasoning.’
In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.
Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August, the day Parliament voted against Cameron’s bid to join the intervention, the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The French air force – a crucial player in the 2011 strikes on Libya – was deeply committed, according to an account in Le Nouvel Observateur; François Hollande had ordered several Rafale fighter-bombers to join the American assault. Their targets were reported to be in western Syria.
By the last days of August the president had given the Joint Chiefs a fixed deadline for the launch. ‘H hour was to begin no later than Monday morning [2 September], a massive assault to neutralise Assad,’ the former intelligence official said. So it was a surprise to many when during a speech in the White House Rose Garden on 31 August Obama said that the attack would be put on hold, and he would turn to Congress and put it to a vote.
At this stage, Obama’s premise – that only the Syrian army was capable of deploying sarin – was unravelling. Within a few days of the 21 August attack, the former intelligence official told me, Russian military intelligence operatives had recovered samples of the chemical agent from Ghouta. They analysed it and passed it on to British military intelligence; this was the material sent to Porton Down. (A spokesperson for Porton Down said: ‘Many of the samples analysed in the UK tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.’ MI6 said that it doesn’t comment on intelligence matters.)
The former intelligence official said the Russian who delivered the sample to the UK was ‘a good source – someone with access, knowledge and a record of being trustworthy’. After the first reported uses of chemical weapons in Syria last year, American and allied intelligence agencies ‘made an effort to find the answer as to what if anything, was used – and its source’, the former intelligence official said. ‘We use data exchanged as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The DIA’s baseline consisted of knowing the composition of each batch of Soviet-manufactured chemical weapons. But we didn’t know which batches the Assad government currently had in its arsenal. Within days of the Damascus incident we asked a source in the Syrian government to give us a list of the batches the government currently had. This is why we could confirm the difference so quickly.’
The process hadn’t worked as smoothly in the spring, the former intelligence official said, because the studies done by Western intelligence ‘were inconclusive as to the type of gas it was. The word “sarin” didn’t come up. There was a great deal of discussion about this, but since no one could conclude what gas it was, you could not say that Assad had crossed the president’s red line.’ By 21 August, the former intelligence official went on, ‘the Syrian opposition clearly had learned from this and announced that “sarin” from the Syrian army had been used, before any analysis could be made, and the press and White House jumped at it. Since it now was sarin, “It had to be Assad.”’
The UK defence staff who relayed the Porton Down findings to the joint chiefs were sending the Americans a message, the former intelligence official said: ‘We’re being set up here.’ (This account made sense of a terse message a senior official in the CIA sent in late August: ‘It was not the result of the current regime. UK & US know this.’) By then the attack was a few days away and American, British and French planes, ships and submarines were at the ready.
The officer ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of the attack was General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs. From the beginning of the crisis, the former intelligence official said, the joint chiefs had been sceptical of the administration’s argument that it had the facts to back up its belief in Assad’s guilt. They pressed the DIA and other agencies for more substantial evidence. ‘There was no way they thought Syria would use nerve gas at that stage, because Assad was winning the war,’ the former intelligence official said. Dempsey had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. Last April, after an optimistic assessment of rebel progress by the secretary of state, John Kerry, in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that ‘there’s a risk that this conflict has become stalemated.’
Dempsey’s initial view after 21 August was that a US strike on Syria – under the assumption that the Assad government was responsible for the sarin attack – would be a military blunder, the former intelligence official said. The Porton Down report caused the joint chiefs to go to the president with a more serious worry: that the attack sought by the White House would be an unjustified act of aggression. It was the joint chiefs who led Obama to change course. The official White House explanation for the turnabout – the story the press corps told – was that the president, during a walk in the Rose Garden with Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, suddenly decided to seek approval for the strike from a bitterly divided Congress with which he’d been in conflict for years. The former Defense Department official told me that the White House provided a different explanation to members of the civilian leadership of the Pentagon: the bombing had been called off because there was intelligence ‘that the Middle East would go up in smoke’ if it was carried out.
The president’s decision to go to Congress was initially seen by senior aides in the White House, the former intelligence official said, as a replay of George W. Bush’s gambit in the autumn of 2002 before the invasion of Iraq: ‘When it became clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, Congress, which had endorsed the Iraqi war, and the White House both shared the blame and repeatedly cited faulty intelligence. If the current Congress were to vote to endorse the strike, the White House could again have it both ways – wallop Syria with a massive attack and validate the president’s red line commitment, while also being able to share the blame with Congress if it came out that the Syrian military wasn’t behind the attack.’ The turnabout came as a surprise even to the Democratic leadership in Congress. In September the Wall Street Journal reported that three days before his Rose Garden speech Obama had telephoned Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, ‘to talk through the options’. She later told colleagues, according to the Journal, that she hadn’t asked the president to put the bombing to a congressional vote.
Obama’s move for congressional approval quickly became a dead end. ‘Congress was not going to let this go by,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Congress made it known that, unlike the authorisation for the Iraq war, there would be substantive hearings.’ At this point, there was a sense of desperation in the White House, the former intelligence official said. ‘And so out comes Plan B. Call off the bombing strike and Assad would agree to unilaterally sign the chemical warfare treaty and agree to the destruction of all of chemical weapons under UN supervision.’ At a press conference in London on 9 September, Kerry was still talking about intervention: ‘The risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting.’ But when a reporter asked if there was anything Assad could do to stop the bombing, Kerry said: ‘Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week … But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.’ As the New York Times reported the next day, the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards had first been discussed by Obama and Putin in the summer of 2012. Although the strike plans were shelved, the administration didn’t change its public assessment of the justification for going to war. ‘There is zero tolerance at that level for the existence of error,’ the former intelligence official said of the senior officials in the White House. ‘They could not afford to say: “We were wrong.”’ (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The Assad regime, and only the Assad regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that took place on 21 August.’)
The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)
In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)
The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.
The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’
Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,’ the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels. On 28 November 2012, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reported that the previous day rebels near Aleppo had used what was almost certainly a manpad to shoot down a Syrian transport helicopter. ‘The Obama administration,’ Warrick wrote, ‘has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.’ Two Middle Eastern intelligence officials fingered Qatar as the source, and a former US intelligence analyst speculated that the manpads could have been obtained from Syrian military outposts overrun by the rebels. There was no indication that the rebels’ possession of manpads was likely the unintended consequence of a covert US programme that was no longer under US control.
By the end of 2012, it was believed throughout the American intelligence community that the rebels were losing the war. ‘Erdoğan was pissed,’ the former intelligence official said, ‘and felt he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money and the cut-off was seen as a betrayal.’ In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability. ‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond in March and April.’
There was no public sign of discord when Erdoğan and Obama met on 16 May 2013 at the White House. At a later press conference Obama said that they had agreed that Assad ‘needs to go’. Asked whether he thought Syria had crossed the red line, Obama acknowledged that there was evidence such weapons had been used, but added, ‘it is important for us to make sure that we’re able to get more specific information about what exactly is happening there.’ The red line was still intact.
An American foreign policy expert who speaks regularly with officials in Washington and Ankara told me about a working dinner Obama held for Erdoğan during his May visit. The meal was dominated by the Turks’ insistence that Syria had crossed the red line and their complaints that Obama was reluctant to do anything about it. Obama was accompanied by John Kerry and Tom Donilon, the national security adviser who would soon leave the job. Erdoğan was joined by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s foreign minister, and Hakan Fidan, the head of the MIT. Fidan is known to be fiercely loyal to Erdoğan, and has been seen as a consistent backer of the radical rebel opposition in Syria.
The foreign policy expert told me that the account he heard originated with Donilon. (It was later corroborated by a former US official, who learned of it from a senior Turkish diplomat.) According to the expert, Erdoğan had sought the meeting to demonstrate to Obama that the red line had been crossed, and had brought Fidan along to state the case. When Erdoğan tried to draw Fidan into the conversation, and Fidan began speaking, Obama cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ Erdoğan tried to bring Fidan in a second time, and Obama again cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ At that point, an exasperated Erdoğan said, ‘But your red line has been crossed!’ and, the expert told me, ‘Donilon said Erdoğan “fucking waved his finger at the president inside the White House”.’ Obama then pointed at Fidan and said: ‘We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria.’ (Donilon, who joined the Council on Foreign Relations last July, didn’t respond to questions about this story. The Turkish Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to questions about the dinner. A spokesperson for the National Security Council confirmed that the dinner took place and provided a photograph showing Obama, Kerry, Donilon, Erdoğan, Fidan and Davutoğlu sitting at a table. ‘Beyond that,’ she said, ‘I’m not going to read out the details of their discussions.’)
But Erdoğan did not leave empty handed. Obama was still permitting Turkey to continue to exploit a loophole in a presidential executive order prohibiting the export of gold to Iran, part of the US sanctions regime against the country. In March 2012, responding to sanctions of Iranian banks by the EU, the SWIFT electronic payment system, which facilitates cross-border payments, expelled dozens of Iranian financial institutions, severely restricting the country’s ability to conduct international trade. The US followed with the executive order in July, but left what came to be known as a ‘golden loophole’: gold shipments to private Iranian entities could continue. Turkey is a major purchaser of Iranian oil and gas, and it took advantage of the loophole by depositing its energy payments in Turkish lira in an Iranian account in Turkey; these funds were then used to purchase Turkish gold for export to confederates in Iran. Gold to the value of $13 billion reportedly entered Iran in this way between March 2012 and July 2013.
The programme quickly became a cash cow for corrupt politicians and traders in Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. ‘The middlemen did what they always do,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Take 15 per cent. The CIA had estimated that there was as much as two billion dollars in skim. Gold and Turkish lira were sticking to fingers.’ The illicit skimming flared into a public ‘gas for gold’ scandal in Turkey in December, and resulted in charges against two dozen people, including prominent businessmen and relatives of government officials, as well as the resignations of three ministers, one of whom called for Erdoğan to resign. The chief executive of a Turkish state-controlled bank that was in the middle of the scandal insisted that more than $4.5 million in cash found by police in shoeboxes during a search of his home was for charitable donations.
Late last year Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz reported in Foreign Policy that the Obama administration closed the golden loophole in January 2013, but ‘lobbied to make sure the legislation … did not take effect for six months’. They speculated that the administration wanted to use the delay as an incentive to bring Iran to the bargaining table over its nuclear programme, or to placate its Turkish ally in the Syrian civil war. The delay permitted Iran to ‘accrue billions of dollars more in gold, further undermining the sanctions regime’.
The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdoğan exposed politically and militarily. ‘One of the issues at that May summit was the fact that Turkey is the only avenue to supply the rebels in Syria,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘It can’t come through Jordan because the terrain in the south is wide open and the Syrians are all over it. And it can’t come through the valleys and hills of Lebanon – you can’t be sure who you’d meet on the other side.’ Without US military support for the rebels, the former intelligence official said, ‘Erdoğan’s dream of having a client state in Syria is evaporating and he thinks we’re the reason why. When Syria wins the war, he knows the rebels are just as likely to turn on him – where else can they go? So now he will have thousands of radicals in his backyard.’
A US intelligence consultant told me that a few weeks before 21 August he saw a highly classified briefing prepared for Dempsey and the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, which described ‘the acute anxiety’ of the Erdoğan administration about the rebels’ dwindling prospects. The analysis warned that the Turkish leadership had expressed ‘the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response’. By late summer, the Syrian army still had the advantage over the rebels, the former intelligence official said, and only American air power could turn the tide. In the autumn, the former intelligence official went on, the US intelligence analysts who kept working on the events of 21 August ‘sensed that Syria had not done the gas attack. But the 500 pound gorilla was, how did it happen? The immediate suspect was the Turks, because they had all the pieces to make it happen.’
As intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks were gathered, the intelligence community saw evidence to support its suspicions. ‘We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’ Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack. ‘Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.’ Erdoğan’s problems in Syria would soon be over: ‘Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria, or at least that was the idea. But it did not work out that way.’
The post-attack intelligence on Turkey did not make its way to the White House. ‘Nobody wants to talk about all this,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘There is great reluctance to contradict the president, although no all-source intelligence community analysis supported his leap to convict. There has not been one single piece of additional evidence of Syrian involvement in the sarin attack produced by the White House since the bombing raid was called off. My government can’t say anything because we have acted so irresponsibly. And since we blamed Assad, we can’t go back and blame Erdoğan.’
Turkey’s willingness to manipulate events in Syria to its own purposes seemed to be demonstrated late last month, a few days before a round of local elections, when a recording, allegedly of a government national security meeting, was posted to YouTube. It included discussion of a false-flag operation that would justify an incursion by the Turkish military in Syria. The operation centred on the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the revered Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, which is near Aleppo and was ceded to Turkey in 1921, when Syria was under French rule. One of the Islamist rebel factions was threatening to destroy the tomb as a site of idolatry, and the Erdoğan administration was publicly threatening retaliation if harm came to it. According to a Reuters report of the leaked conversation, a voice alleged to be Fidan’s spoke of creating a provocation: ‘Now look, my commander, if there is to be justification, the justification is I send four men to the other side. I get them to fire eight missiles into empty land [in the vicinity of the tomb]. That’s not a problem. Justification can be created.’ The Turkish government acknowledged that there had been a national security meeting about threats emanating from Syria, but said the recording had been manipulated. The government subsequently blocked public access to YouTube.
Barring a major change in policy by Obama, Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian civil war is likely to go on. ‘I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdoğan’s continued support for the rebels, especially now that it’s going so wrong,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The answer was: “We’re screwed.” We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdoğan, but Turkey is a special case. They’re a Nato ally. The Turks don’t trust the West. They can’t live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests. If we went public with what we know about Erdoğan’s role with the gas, it’d be disastrous. The Turks would say: “We hate you for telling us what we can and can’t do.”’
Seymour M. Hersh
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10 September, Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government, and made it clear he was prepared to back up his earlier public warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’: ‘Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people,’ he said. ‘We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.’ Obama was going to war to back up a public threat, but he was doing so without knowing for sure who did what in the early morning of 21 August.
He cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.’ Obama’s certainty was echoed at the time by Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, who told the New York Times: ‘No one with whom I’ve spoken doubts the intelligence’ directly linking Assad and his regime to the sarin attacks.
But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”’
The complaints focus on what Washington did not have: any advance warning from the assumed source of the attack. The military intelligence community has for years produced a highly classified early morning intelligence summary, known as the Morning Report, for the secretary of defence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; a copy also goes to the national security adviser and the director of national intelligence. The Morning Report includes no political or economic information, but provides a summary of important military events around the world, with all available intelligence about them. A senior intelligence consultant told me that some time after the attack he reviewed the reports for 20 August through 23 August. For two days – 20 and 21 August – there was no mention of Syria. On 22 August the lead item in the Morning Report dealt with Egypt; a subsequent item discussed an internal change in the command structure of one of the rebel groups in Syria. Nothing was noted about the use of nerve gas in Damascus that day. It was not until 23 August that the use of sarin became a dominant issue, although hundreds of photographs and videos of the massacre had gone viral within hours on YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites. At this point, the administration knew no more than the public.
Obama left Washington early on 21 August for a hectic two-day speaking tour in New York and Pennsylvania; according to the White House press office, he was briefed later that day on the attack, and the growing public and media furore. The lack of any immediate inside intelligence was made clear on 22 August, when Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the State Department, told reporters: ‘We are unable to conclusively determine [chemical weapons] use. But we are focused every minute of every day since these events happened … on doing everything possible within our power to nail down the facts.’ The administration’s tone had hardened by 27 August, when Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, told reporters – without providing any specific information – that any suggestions that the Syrian government was not responsible ‘are as preposterous as suggestions that the attack itself didn’t occur’.
The absence of immediate alarm inside the American intelligence community demonstrates that there was no intelligence about Syrian intentions in the days before the attack. And there are at least two ways the US could have known about it in advance: both were touched on in one of the top secret American intelligence documents that have been made public in recent months by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor.
On 29 August, the Washington Post published excerpts from the annual budget for all national intelligence programmes, agency by agency, provided by Snowden. In consultation with the Obama administration, the newspaper chose to publish only a slim portion of the 178-page document, which has a classification higher than top secret, but it summarised and published a section dealing with problem areas. One problem area was the gap in coverage targeting Assad’s office. The document said that the NSA’s worldwide electronic eavesdropping facilities had been ‘able to monitor unencrypted communications among senior military officials at the outset of the civil war there’. But it was ‘a vulnerability that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces apparently later recognised’. In other words, the NSA no longer had access to the conversations of the top military leadership in Syria, which would have included crucial communications from Assad, such as orders for a nerve gas attack. (In its public statements since 21 August, the Obama administration has never claimed to have specific information connecting Assad himself to the attack.)
The Post report also provided the first indication of a secret sensor system inside Syria, designed to provide early warning of any change in status of the regime’s chemical weapons arsenal. The sensors are monitored by the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that controls all US intelligence satellites in orbit. According to the Postsummary, the NRO is also assigned ‘to extract data from sensors placed on the ground’ inside Syria. The former senior intelligence official, who had direct knowledge of the programme, told me that NRO sensors have been implanted near all known chemical warfare sites in Syria. They are designed to provide constant monitoring of the movement of chemical warheads stored by the military. But far more important, in terms of early warning, is the sensors’ ability to alert US and Israeli intelligence when warheads are being loaded with sarin. (As a neighbouring country, Israel has always been on the alert for changes in the Syrian chemical arsenal, and works closely with American intelligence on early warnings.) A chemical warhead, once loaded with sarin, has a shelf life of a few days or less – the nerve agent begins eroding the rocket almost immediately: it’s a use-it-or-lose-it mass killer. ‘The Syrian army doesn’t have three days to prepare for a chemical attack,’ the former senior intelligence official told me. ‘We created the sensor system for immediate reaction, like an air raid warning or a fire alarm. You can’t have a warning over three days because everyone involved would be dead. It is either right now or you’re history. You do not spend three days getting ready to fire nerve gas.’ The sensors detected no movement in the months and days before 21 August, the former official said. It is of course possible that sarin had been supplied to the Syrian army by other means, but the lack of warning meant that Washington was unable to monitor the events in Eastern Ghouta as they unfolded.
The sensors had worked in the past, as the Syrian leadership knew all too well. Last December the sensor system picked up signs of what seemed to be sarin production at a chemical weapons depot. It was not immediately clear whether the Syrian army was simulating sarin production as part of an exercise (all militaries constantly carry out such exercises) or actually preparing an attack. At the time, Obama publicly warned Syria that using sarin was ‘totally unacceptable’; a similar message was also passed by diplomatic means. The event was later determined to be part of a series of exercises, according to the former senior intelligence official: ‘If what the sensors saw last December was so important that the president had to call and say, “Knock it off,” why didn’t the president issue the same warning three days before the gas attack in August?’
The NSA would of course monitor Assad’s office around the clock if it could, the former official said. Other communications – from various army units in combat throughout Syria – would be far less important, and not analysed in real time. ‘There are literally thousands of tactical radio frequencies used by field units in Syria for mundane routine communications,’ he said, ‘and it would take a huge number of NSA cryptological technicians to listen in – and the useful return would be zilch.’ But the ‘chatter’ is routinely stored on computers. Once the scale of events on 21 August was understood, the NSA mounted a comprehensive effort to search for any links to the attack, sorting through the full archive of stored communications. A keyword or two would be selected and a filter would be employed to find relevant conversations. ‘What happened here is that the NSA intelligence weenies started with an event – the use of sarin – and reached to find chatter that might relate,’ the former official said. ‘This does not lead to a high confidence assessment, unless you start with high confidence that Bashar Assad ordered it, and began looking for anything that supports that belief.’ The cherry-picking was similar to the process used to justify the Iraq war.
*The White House needed nine days to assemble its case against the Syrian government. On 30 August it invited a select group of Washington journalists (at least one often critical reporter, Jonathan Landay, the national security correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, was not invited), and handed them a document carefully labelled as a ‘government assessment’, rather than as an assessment by the intelligence community. The document laid out what was essentially a political argument to bolster the administration’s case against the Assad government. It was, however, more specific than Obama would be later, in his speech on 10 September: American intelligence, it stated, knew that Syria had begun ‘preparing chemical munitions’ three days before the attack. In an aggressive speech later that day, John Kerry provided more details. He said that Syria’s ‘chemical weapons personnel were on the ground, in the area, making preparations’ by 18 August. ‘We know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons.’ The government assessment and Kerry’s comments made it seem as if the administration had been tracking the sarin attack as it happened. It is this version of events, untrue but unchallenged, that was widely reported at the time.
An unforeseen reaction came in the form of complaints from the Free Syrian Army’s leadership and others about the lack of warning. ‘It’s unbelievable they did nothing to warn people or try to stop the regime before the crime,’ Razan Zaitouneh, an opposition member who lived in one of the towns struck by sarin, told Foreign Policy. The Daily Mail was more blunt: ‘Intelligence report says US officials knew about nerve-gas attack in Syria three days before it killed over 1400 people – including more than 400 children.’ (The number of deaths attributable to the attack varied widely, from at least 1429, as initially claimed by the Obama administration, to many fewer. A Syrian human rights group reported 502 deaths; Médicins sans Frontières put it at 355; and a French report listed 281 known fatalities. The strikingly precise US total was later reported by the Wall Street Journal to have been based not on an actual body count, but on an extrapolation by CIA analysts, who scanned more than a hundred YouTube videos from Eastern Ghouta into a computer system and looked for images of the dead. In other words, it was little more than a guess.)
Five days later, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence responded to the complaints. A statement to the Associated Press said that the intelligence behind the earlier administration assertions was not known at the time of the attack, but recovered only subsequently: ‘Let’s be clear, the United States did not watch, in real time, as this horrible attack took place. The intelligence community was able to gather and analyse information after the fact and determine that elements of the Assad regime had in fact taken steps to prepare prior to using chemical weapons.’ But since the American press corps had their story, the retraction received scant attention. On 31 August the Washington Post, relying on the government assessment, had vividly reported on its front page that American intelligence was able to record ‘each step’ of the Syrian army attack in real time, ‘from the extensive preparations to the launching of rockets to the after-action assessments by Syrian officials’. It did not publish the AP corrective, and the White House maintained control of the narrative.
So when Obama said on 10 September that his administration knew Assad’s chemical weapons personnel had prepared the attack in advance, he was basing the statement not on an intercept caught as it happened, but on communications analysed days after 21 August. The former senior intelligence official explained that the hunt for relevant chatter went back to the exercise detected the previous December, in which, as Obama later said to the public, the Syrian army mobilised chemical weapons personnel and distributed gas masks to its troops. The White House’s government assessment and Obama’s speech were not descriptions of the specific events leading up to the 21 August attack, but an account of the sequence the Syrian military would have followed for any chemical attack. ‘They put together a back story,’ the former official said, ‘and there are lots of different pieces and parts. The template they used was the template that goes back to December.’ It is possible, of course, that Obama was unaware that this account was obtained from an analysis of Syrian army protocol for conducting a gas attack, rather than from direct evidence. Either way he had come to a hasty judgment.
The press would follow suit. The UN report on 16 September confirming the use of sarin was careful to note that its investigators’ access to the attack sites, which came five days after the gassing, had been controlled by rebel forces. ‘As with other sites,’ the report warned, ‘the locations have been well travelled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the mission … During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.’ Still, the New York Times seized on the report, as did American and British officials, and claimed that it provided crucial evidence backing up the administration’s assertions. An annex to the UN report reproduced YouTube photographs of some recovered munitions, including a rocket that ‘indicatively matches’ the specifics of a 330mm calibre artillery rocket. The New York Times wrote that the existence of the rockets essentially proved that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack ‘because the weapons in question had not been previously documented or reported to be in possession of the insurgency’.
Theodore Postol, a professor of technology and national security at MIT, reviewed the UN photos with a group of his colleagues and concluded that the large calibre rocket was an improvised munition that was very likely manufactured locally. He told me that it was ‘something you could produce in a modestly capable machine shop’. The rocket in the photos, he added, fails to match the specifications of a similar but smaller rocket known to be in the Syrian arsenal. The New York Times, again relying on data in the UN report, also analysed the flight path of two of the spent rockets that were believed to have carried sarin, and concluded that the angle of descent ‘pointed directly’ to their being fired from a Syrian army base more than nine kilometres from the landing zone. Postol, who has served as the scientific adviser to the chief of naval operations in the Pentagon, said that the assertions in the Times and elsewhere ‘were not based on actual observations’. He concluded that the flight path analyses in particular were, as he put it in an email, ‘totally nuts’ because a thorough study demonstrated that the range of the improvised rockets was ‘unlikely’ to be more than two kilometres. Postol and a colleague, Richard M. Lloyd, published an analysis two weeks after 21 August in which they correctly assessed that the rockets involved carried a far greater payload of sarin than previously estimated. The Times reported on that analysis at length, describing Postol and Lloyd as ‘leading weapons experts’. The pair’s later study about the rockets’ flight paths and range, which contradicted previous Times reporting, was emailed to the newspaper last week; it has so far gone unreported.
The White House’s misrepresentation of what it knew about the attack, and when, was matched by its readiness to ignore intelligence that could undermine the narrative. That information concerned al-Nusra, the Islamist rebel group designated by the US and the UN as a terrorist organisation. Al-Nusra is known to have carried out scores of suicide bombings against Christians and other non-Sunni Muslim sects inside Syria, and to have attacked its nominal ally in the civil war, the secular Free Syrian Army (FSA). Its stated goal is to overthrow the Assad regime and establish sharia law. (On 25 September al-Nusra joined several other Islamist rebel groups in repudiating the FSA and another secular faction, the Syrian National Coalition.)
The flurry of American interest in al-Nusra and sarin stemmed from a series of small-scale chemical weapons attacks in March and April; at the time, the Syrian government and the rebels each insisted the other was responsible. The UN eventually concluded that four chemical attacks had been carried out, but did not assign responsibility. A White House official told the press in late April that the intelligence community had assessed ‘with varying degrees of confidence’ that the Syrian government was responsible for the attacks. Assad had crossed Obama’s ‘red line’. The April assessment made headlines, but some significant caveats were lost in translation. The unnamed official conducting the briefing acknowledged that intelligence community assessments ‘are not alone sufficient’. ‘We want,’ he said, ‘to investigate above and beyond those intelligence assessments to gather facts so that we can establish a credible and corroborated set of information that can then inform our decision-making.’ In other words, the White House had no direct evidence of Syrian army or government involvement, a fact that was only occasionally noted in the press coverage. Obama’s tough talk played well with the public and Congress, who view Assad as a ruthless murderer.
Two months later, a White House statement announced a change in the assessment of Syrian culpability and declared that the intelligence community now had ‘high confidence’ that the Assad government was responsible for as many as 150 deaths from attacks with sarin. More headlines were generated and the press was told that Obama, in response to the new intelligence, had ordered an increase in non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition. But once again there were significant caveats. The new intelligence included a report that Syrian officials had planned and executed the attacks. No specifics were provided, nor were those who provided the reports identified. The White House statement said that laboratory analysis had confirmed the use of sarin, but also that a positive finding of the nerve agent ‘does not tell us how or where the individuals were exposed or who was responsible for the dissemination’. The White House further declared: ‘We have no reliable corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.’ The statement contradicted evidence that at the time was streaming into US intelligence agencies.
Already by late May, the senior intelligence consultant told me, the CIA had briefed the Obama administration on al-Nusra and its work with sarin, and had sent alarming reports that another Sunni fundamentalist group active in Syria, al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), also understood the science of producing sarin. At the time, al-Nusra was operating in areas close to Damascus, including Eastern Ghouta. An intelligence document issued in mid-summer dealt extensively with Ziyaad Tariq Ahmed, a chemical weapons expert formerly of the Iraqi military, who was said to have moved into Syria and to be operating in Eastern Ghouta. The consultant told me that Tariq had been identified ‘as an al-Nusra guy with a track record of making mustard gas in Iraq and someone who is implicated in making and using sarin’. He is regarded as a high-profile target by the American military.
On 20 June a four-page top secret cable summarising what had been learned about al-Nusra’s nerve gas capabilities was forwarded to David R. Shedd, deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. ‘What Shedd was briefed on was extensive and comprehensive,’ the consultant said. ‘It was not a bunch of “we believes”.’ He told me that the cable made no assessment as to whether the rebels or the Syrian army had initiated the attacks in March and April, but it did confirm previous reports that al-Nusra had the ability to acquire and use sarin. A sample of the sarin that had been used was also recovered – with the help of an Israeli agent – but, according to the consultant, no further reporting about the sample showed up in cable traffic.
Independently of these assessments, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assuming that US troops might be ordered into Syria to seize the government’s stockpile of chemical agents, called for an all-source analysis of the potential threat. ‘The Op Order provides the basis of execution of a military mission, if so ordered,’ the former senior intelligence official explained. ‘This includes the possible need to send American soldiers to a Syrian chemical site to defend it against rebel seizure. If the jihadist rebels were going to overrun the site, the assumption is that Assad would not fight us because we were protecting the chemical from the rebels. All Op Orders contain an intelligence threat component. We had technical analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, weapons people, and I & W [indications and warnings] people working on the problem … They concluded that the rebel forces were capable of attacking an American force with sarin because they were able to produce the lethal gas. The examination relied on signals and human intelligence, as well as the expressed intention and technical capability of the rebels.’
There is evidence that during the summer some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were troubled by the prospect of a ground invasion of Syria as well as by Obama’s professed desire to give rebel factions non-lethal support. In July, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, provided a gloomy assessment, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee in public testimony that ‘thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces’ would be needed to seize Syria’s widely dispersed chemical warfare arsenal, along with ‘hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers’. Pentagon estimates put the number of troops at seventy thousand, in part because US forces would also have to guard the Syrian rocket fleet: accessing large volumes of the chemicals that create sarin without the means to deliver it would be of little value to a rebel force. In a letter to Senator Carl Levin, Dempsey cautioned that a decision to grab the Syrian arsenal could have unintended consequences: ‘We have learned from the past ten years, however, that it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state … Should the regime’s institutions collapse in the absence of a viable opposition, we could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control.’
The CIA declined to comment for this article. Spokesmen for the DIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said they were not aware of the report to Shedd and, when provided with specific cable markings for the document, said they were unable to find it. Shawn Turner, head of public affairs for the ODNI, said that no American intelligence agency, including the DIA, ‘assesses that the al-Nusra Front has succeeded in developing a capacity to manufacture sarin’.
The administration’s public affairs officials are not as concerned about al-Nusra’s military potential as Shedd has been in his public statements. In late July, he gave an alarming account of al-Nusra’s strength at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. ‘I count no less than 1200 disparate groups in the opposition,’ Shedd said, according to a recording of his presentation. ‘And within the opposition, the al-Nusra Front is … most effective and is gaining in strength.’ This, he said, ‘is of serious concern to us. If left unchecked, I am very concerned that the most radical elements’ – he also cited al-Qaida in Iraq – ‘will take over.’ The civil war, he went on, ‘will only grow worse over time … Unfathomable violence is yet to come.’ Shedd made no mention of chemical weapons in his talk, but he was not allowed to: the reports his office received were highly classified.
A series of secret dispatches from Syria over the summer reported that members of the FSA were complaining to American intelligence operatives about repeated attacks on their forces by al-Nusra and al-Qaida fighters. The reports, according to the senior intelligence consultant who read them, provided evidence that the FSA is ‘more worried about the crazies than it is about Assad’. The FSA is largely composed of defectors from the Syrian army. The Obama administration, committed to the end of the Assad regime and continued support for the rebels, has sought in its public statements since the attack to downplay the influence of Salafist and Wahhabist factions. In early September, John Kerry dumbfounded a Congressional hearing with a sudden claim that al-Nusra and other Islamist groups were minority players in the Syrian opposition. He later withdrew the claim.
In both its public and private briefings after 21 August, the administration disregarded the available intelligence about al-Nusra’s potential access to sarin and continued to claim that the Assad government was in sole possession of chemical weapons. This was the message conveyed in the various secret briefings that members of Congress received in the days after the attack, when Obama was seeking support for his planned missile offensive against Syrian military installations. One legislator with more than two decades of experience in military affairs told me that he came away from one such briefing persuaded that ‘only the Assad government had sarin and the rebels did not.’ Similarly, following the release of the UN report on 16 September confirming that sarin was used on 21 August, Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, told a press conference: ‘It’s very important to note that only the [Assad] regime possesses sarin, and we have no evidence that the opposition possesses sarin.’
It is not known whether the highly classified reporting on al-Nusra was made available to Power’s office, but her comment was a reflection of the attitude that swept through the administration. ‘The immediate assumption was that Assad had done it,’ the former senior intelligence official told me. ‘The new director of the CIA, [John] Brennan, jumped to that conclusion … drives to the White House and says: “Look at what I’ve got!” It was all verbal; they just waved the bloody shirt. There was a lot of political pressure to bring Obama to the table to help the rebels, and there was wishful thinking that this [tying Assad to the sarin attack] would force Obama’s hand: “This is the Zimmermann telegram of the Syrian rebellion and now Obama can react.” Wishful thinking by the Samantha Power wing within the administration. Unfortunately, some members of the Joint Chiefs who were alerted that he was going to attack weren’t so sure it was a good thing.’
The proposed American missile attack on Syria never won public support and Obama turned quickly to the UN and the Russian proposal for dismantling the Syrian chemical warfare complex. Any possibility of military action was definitively averted on 26 September when the administration joined Russia in approving a draft UN resolution calling on the Assad government to get rid of its chemical arsenal. Obama’s retreat brought relief to many senior military officers. (One high-level special operations adviser told me that the ill-conceived American missile attack on Syrian military airfields and missile emplacements, as initially envisaged by the White House, would have been ‘like providing close air support for al-Nusra’.)
The administration’s distortion of the facts surrounding the sarin attack raises an unavoidable question: do we have the whole story of Obama’s willingness to walk away from his ‘red line’ threat to bomb Syria? He had claimed to have an iron-clad case but suddenly agreed to take the issue to Congress, and later to accept Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical weapons. It appears possible that at some point he was directly confronted with contradictory information: evidence strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan, and take the criticism sure to come from Republicans.
The UN resolution, which was adopted on 27 September by the Security Council, dealt indirectly with the notion that rebel forces such as al-Nusra would also be obliged to disarm: ‘no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer [chemical] weapons.’ The resolution also calls for the immediate notification of the Security Council in the event that any ‘non-state actors’ acquire chemical weapons. No group was cited by name. While the Syrian regime continues the process of eliminating its chemical arsenal, the irony is that, after Assad’s stockpile of precursor agents is destroyed, al-Nusra and its Islamist allies could end up as the only faction inside Syria with access to the ingredients that can create sarin, a strategic weapon that would be unlike any other in the war zone. There may be more to negotiate.
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For President Barack Obama (and thus America), foreign policy in every way remains a disaster. The latest incident? In swapping five Taliban leaders for a U.S. soldier who was held prisoner in Afghanistan for five years, Obama may have just exchanged somecertifiably bad guys for…a deserter from the U.S. Army. CNN’s Jake Tapper explains:
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At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl, and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika Province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.
This is all completely apart from the question of whether exchanging prisoners for prisoners is a good idea while the U.S. still has over 30,000 troops in Afghanistan (and more than 100 detainees in Gitmo). And once again, yesterday, Susan Rice—she of Benghazi talking points fame—was making spurious claims on Sunday talk shows. She emphasized that Bergdahl had been“captured” on the battlefield, which may not be exactly right. Or even at all right.
I caught a few minutes of MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier today and co-host Mika Brzezinski cautioned that whatever else we know about the five-for-one prisoner deal (which involves the Taliban going to Qatar, where they will be monitored by the government there for at least a year), we don’t know everything. Which is likely accurate and besides the point: Leaving aside the Obama administration’s constant invocations about its super-fantastic dedication to transparency, this White House has managed to make itself toxic to increasing swaths of the public and drive faith in its best intentions and ability to cross the street through the floor.
Here’s hoping that after more than a dozen years of poorly conceived and executed wars—and declining public support for the idea of America as globocop—that official foreign policy will start to appreciate the idea that we cannot undertake large and small-scale military interventions lightly.
The Gitmo detainees swapped for Bergdahl: Who are they?
Together with the announcement that U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released after nearly five years of captivity came the news that five detainees at Guantanamo Bay were being transferred to Qatar.
A plane carrying the detainees left the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo, Cuba, after the announcement that Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2009, had been exchanged for the five men.
Saturday’s transfer was brokered through the Qatari government, a senior Defense official said. According to senior administration officials, Qatar agreed to take custody of the detainees and provide assurances they would not pose a threat to the United States, including a one-year ban from travel out of Qatar.
Two senior administration officials confirmed the names of the five released detainees as Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Nori, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammad Nabi Omari.
They were mostly mid- to high-level officials in the Taliban regime and had been detained early in the war in Afghanistan, because of their positions within the Taliban, not because of ties to al Qaeda.
CNN profiled them two years ago, when their names first surfaced as candidates for a transfer as part of talks with the Taliban:
Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa
Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban’s rule. He hails from the same tribe as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and was captured in January 2002. Khairkhwa’s most prominent position was as governor of Herat province from 1999 to 2001, and he was alleged to have been “directly associated” with Osama bin Laden. According to a detainee assessment, Khairkhwa also was probably associated with al Qaeda’s now-deceased leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi. He is described as one of the “major opium drug lords in western Afghanistan” and a “friend” of Karzai. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl
Fazl commanded the main force fighting the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in 2001, and served as chief of army staff under the Taliban regime. He has been accused of war crimes during Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s. Fazl was detained after surrendering to Abdul Rashid Dostam, the leader of Afghanistan’s Uzbek community, in November 2001. He was wanted by the United Nations in connection with the massacre of thousands of Afghan Shiites during the Taliban’s rule. “When asked about the murders, he did not express any regret,” according to the detainee assessment. He was alleged to have been associated with several militant Islamist groups, including al Qaeda. He was transferred into U.S. custody in December 2001 and was one of the first arrivals at Guantanamo, where he was assessed as having high intelligence value.
Mullah Norullah Noori
Noori served as governor of Balkh province in the Taliban regime and played some role in coordinating the fight against the Northern Alliance. Like Fazl, Noori was detained after surrendering to Dostam, the Uzbek leader, in 2001. Noori claimed during interrogation that “he never received any weapons or military training.” According to 2008 detainee assessment, Noori “continues to deny his role, importance and level of access to Taliban officials.” That same assessment characterized him as high risk and of high intelligence value.
Abdul Haq Wasiq
Wasiq was the deputy chief of the Taliban regime’s intelligence service. His cousin was head of the service. An administrative review in 2007 cited a source as saying that Wasiq was also “an al Qaeda intelligence member” and had links with members of another militant Islamist group, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. Wasiq claimed, according to the review, that he was arrested while trying to help the United States locate senior Taliban figures. He denied any links to militant groups.
Mohammad Nabi Omari
Omari was a minor Taliban official in Khost Province. According to the first administrative review in 2004, he was a member of the Taliban and associated with both al Qaeda and another militant group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. He was the Taliban’s chief of communications and helped al Qaeda members escape from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Omari acknowledged during hearings that he had worked for the Taliban but denied connections with militant groups. He also said that he had worked with a U.S. operative named Mark to try to track down Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
The bizarre tale of America’s last known POW
For five years, soldiers have been forced to stay silent about the disappearance and search for Bergdahl. Now we can talk about what really happened.
It was June 30, 2009, and I was in the city of Sharana, the capitol of Paktika province in Afghanistan. As I stepped out of a decrepit office building into a perfect sunny day, a member of my team started talking into his radio. “Say that again,” he said. “There’s an American soldier missing?”
There was. His name was Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, the only prisoner of war in the Afghan theater of operations. His release from Taliban custody on May 31 marks the end of a nearly five-year-old story for the soldiers of his unit, the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. I served in the same battalion in Afghanistan and participated in the attempts to retrieve him throughout the summer of 2009. After we redeployed, every member of my brigade combat team received an order that we were not allowed to discuss what happened to Bergdahl for fear of endangering him. He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth.
And that the truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.
On the night prior to his capture, Bergdahl pulled guard duty at OP Mest, a small outpost about two hours south of the provincial capitol. The base resembled a wagon circle of armored vehicles with some razor wire strung around them. A guard tower sat high up on a nearby hill, but the outpost itself was no fortress. Besides the tower, the only hard structure that I saw in July 2009 was a plywood shed filled with bottled water. Soldiers either slept in poncho tents or inside their vehicles.
The next morning, Bergdahl failed to show for the morning roll call. The soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Blackfoot Company discovered his rifle, helmet, body armor and web gear in a neat stack. He had, however, taken his compass. His fellow soldiers later mentioned his stated desire to walk from Afghanistan to India.
The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey later wrote that “[w]hether Bergdahl…just walked away from his base or was lagging behind on a patrol at the time of his capture remains an open and fiercely debated question.” Not to me and the members of my unit. Make no mistake: Bergdahl did not “lag behind on a patrol,” as was cited in news reports at the time. There was no patrol that night. Bergdahl was relieved from guard duty, and instead of going to sleep, he fled the outpost on foot. He deserted. I’ve talked to members of Bergdahl’s platoon—including the last Americans to see him before his capture. I’ve reviewed the relevant documents. That’s what happened.
Our deployment was hectic and intense in the initial months, but no one could have predicted that a soldier would simply wander off. Looking back on those first 12 weeks, our slice of the war in the vicinity of Sharana resembles a perfectly still snow-globe—a diorama in miniature of all the dust-coated outposts, treeless brown mountains and adobe castles in Paktika province—and between June 25 and June 30, all the forces of nature conspired to turn it over and shake it. On June 25, we suffered our battalion’s first fatality, a platoon leader named First Lieutenant Brian Bradshaw. Five days later, Bergdahl walked away.
His disappearance translated into daily search missions across the entire Afghanistan theater of operations, particularly ours. The combat platoons in our battalion spent the next month on daily helicopter-insertion search missions (called “air assaults”) trying to scour villages for signs of him. Each operations would send multiple platoons and every enabler available in pursuit: radio intercept teams, military working dogs, professional anthropologists used as intelligence gathering teams, Afghan sources in disguise. They would be out for at least 24 hours. I know of some who were on mission for 10 days at a stretch. In July, the temperature was well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit each day.
These cobbled-together units’ task was to search villages one after another. They often took rifle and mortar fire from insurgents, or perhaps just angry locals. They intermittently received resupply from soot-coated Mi-17s piloted by Russian contractors, many of whom were Soviet veterans of Afghanistan. It was hard, dirty and dangerous work. The searches enraged the local civilian population and derailed the counterinsurgency operations taking place at the time. At every juncture I remember the soldiers involved asking why we were burning so much gasoline trying to find a guy who had abandoned his unit in the first place. The war was already absurd and quixotic, but the hunt for Bergdahl was even more infuriating because it was all the result of some kid doing something unnecessary by his own volition.
On July 4, 2009, a human wave of insurgents attacked the joint U.S./Afghan outpost at Zerok. It was in east Paktika province, the domain of our sister infantry battalion (3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry). Two Americans died and many more received wounds. Hundreds of insurgents attacked and were only repelled by teams of Apache helicopters. Zerok was very close to the Pakistan border, which put it into the same category as outposts now infamous—places like COP Keating or Wanat, places where insurgents could mass on the Pakistani side and then try to overwhelm the outnumbered defenders.
One of my close friends was the company executive officer for the unit at Zerok. He is a mild-mannered and generous guy, not the kind of person prone to fits of pique or rage. But, in his opinion, the attack would not have happened had his company received its normal complement of intelligence aircraft: drones, planes, and the like. Instead, every intelligence aircraft available in theater had received new instructions: find Bergdahl. My friend blames Bergdahl for his soldiers’ deaths. I know that he is not alone, and that this was not the only instance of it. His soldiers’ names were Private First Class Aaron Fairbairn and Private First Class Justin Casillas.
Though the 2009 Afghan presidential election slowed the search for Bergdahl, it did not stop it. Our battalion suffered six fatalities in a three-week period. On August 18, an IED killed Private First Class Morris Walker and Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen during a reconnaissance mission. On August 26, while conducting a search for a Taliban shadow sub-governor supposedly affiliated with Bergdahl’s captors, Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss was shot in the face and killed. On September 4, during a patrol to a village near the area in which Bergdahl vanished, an insurgent ambush killed Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews and gravely wounded Private First Class Matthew Martinek, who died of his wounds a week later. On September 5, while conducting a foot movement toward a village also thought affiliated with Bergdahl’s captors, Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey stepped on an improvised land mine. He died the next day.
It is important to name all these names. For the veterans of the units that lost these men, Bergdahl’s capture and the subsequent hunt for him will forever tie to their memories, and to a time in their lives that will define them as people. He has finally returned. Those men will never have the opportunity.
Bergdahl was not the first American soldier in modern history to walk away blindly. As I write this in Seoul, I’m about 40 miles from where an American sergeant defected to North Korea in 1965. Charles Robert Jenkins later admitted that he was terrified of being sent to Vietnam, so he got drunk and wandered off on a patrol. He was finally released in 2004, after almost 40 hellish years of brutal internment. The Army court-martialed him, sentencing him to 30 days’ confinement and a dishonorable discharge. He now lives peacefully with his wife in Japan—they met in captivity in North Korea, where they were both forced to teach foreign languages to DPRK agents. His desertion barely warranted a comment, but he was not hailed as a hero. He was met with sympathy and humanity, and he was allowed to live his life, but he had to answer for what he did.
The war was already absurd and quixotic, but the hunt for Bergdahl was even more infuriating because it was the result of some kid doing something unnecessary by his own volition.
I believe that Bergdahl also deserves sympathy, but he has much to answer for, some of which is far more damning than simply having walked off. Many have suffered because of his actions: his fellow soldiers, their families, his family, the Afghan military, the unaffiliated Afghan civilians in Paktika, and none of this suffering was inevitable. None of it had to happen. Therefore, while I’m pleased that he’s safe, I believe there is an explanation due. Reprimanding him might yield horrible press for the Army, making our longest war even less popular than it is today. Retrieving him at least reminds soldiers that we will never abandon them to their fates, right or wrong. In light of the propaganda value, I do not expect the Department of Defense to punish Bergdahl.
He’s lucky to have survived. I once saw an insurgent cellphone video of an Afghan National Police enlistee. They had young boys hold him down, boys between the ages of 10 and 15, all of whom giggled like they were jumping on a trampoline. The prisoner screamed and pleaded for his life. The captors cut this poor man’s head off. That’s what the Taliban and their allies do to their captives who don’t have the bargaining value of an American soldier. That’s what they do to their fellow Afghans on a regular basis. No human being deserves that treatment, or to face the threat of that treatment every day for nearly five years.
But that certainly doesn’t make Bergdahl a hero, and that doesn’t mean that the soldiers he left behind have an obligation to forgive him. I just hope that, with this news, it marks a turning point for the veterans of that mad rescue attempt. It’s done. Many of the soldiers from our unit have left the Army, as I have. Many have struggled greatly with life on the outside, and the implicit threat of prosecution if they spoke about Bergdahl made it much harder to explain the absurdity of it all. Our families and friends wanted to understand what we had experienced, but the Army denied us that.
I forgave Bergdahl because it was the only way to move on. I wouldn’t wish his fate on anyone. I hope that, in time, my comrades can make peace with him, too. That peace will look different for every person. We may have all come home, but learning to leave the war behind is not a quick or easy thing. Some will struggle with it for the rest of their lives. Some will never have the opportunity.
And Bergdahl, all I can say is this: Welcome back. I’m glad it’s over. There was a spot reserved for you on the return flight, but we had to leave without you, man. You’re probably going to have to find your own way home.
3:42 PM, MAY 31, 2014 • BY THOMAS JOSCELYN
The Obama administration announced today that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban for several years, has been freed from his captors. Reading the stories of his newfound freedom it is impossible not to feel joy for Bergdahl and his family. NBC News reports that Bergdahl held up a sign once he was on board an American helicopter that read, “SF?” The operators quickly confirmed that they were in fact U.S. Special Forces: “Yes, we’ve been looking for you for a long time.”
“On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal,” President Obama said in a statement. The president rightly noted: “Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield.”
Unfortunately, America is not the only party in this war that is committed to leaving no man behind. So are the Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked groups. But the president did not say who America exchanged for Bergdahl: five of the most dangerous Taliban commanders in U.S. custody.
The Taliban has long demanded that the “Gitmo 5” be released in order for peace talks to begin in earnest. The Obama administration has desperately sought to engage the Taliban as American forces are drawn down in Afghanistan, but those talks have gone nowhere to this point. At first, the administration set preconditions for the talks, including that the Taliban break its relationship with al Qaeda. When it became clear that this was a non-starter, the administration decided to make the Taliban’s desired break with al Qaeda a goal, and no longer a precondition, for its diplomacy.
There is little hope that the peace talks will be more successful now. But the president seems to believe that Bergdahl’s exchange for the Gitmo 5 (who are reportedly being transferred to Qatar) may break the ice. “While we are mindful of the challenges, it is our hope Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery could potentially open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground,” Obama said in his statement.
The Obama administration says that security measures have been put into place to make sure that the Gitmo 5 do not pose a threat to American national security. Let’s hope that is true; it certainly has not been the case with many ex-Gitmo detainees in the past.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has profiled these jihadists previously on multiple occasions, and what follows below is culled from these accounts.
There are good reasons why the Taliban has long wanted the five freed from Gitmo. All five are among the Taliban’s top commanders in U.S. custody and are still revered in jihadist circles.
Two of the five have been wanted by the UN for war crimes. And because of their prowess, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) deemed all five of them “high” risks to the U.S. and its allies.
The Obama administration wants to convince the Taliban to abandon its longstanding alliance with al Qaeda. But these men contributed to the formation of that relationship in the first place. All five had close ties to al Qaeda well before the 9/11 attacks. Therefore, it is difficult to see how their freedom would help the Obama administration achieve one of its principal goals for the hoped-for talks.
Here are short bios for each of the five Taliban commanders. All quotes are drawn from declassified and leaked documents prepared at Guantanamo.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Taliban army chief of staff): Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites.” Fazl “was associated with terrorist groups currently opposing U.S. and Coalition forces including al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and an Anti-Coalition Militia group known as Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami.” In addition to being one of the Taliban’s most experienced military commanders, Fazl worked closely with a top al Qaeda commander named Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, who headed al Qaeda’s main fighting unit in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and is currently detained at Guantanamo.
Mullah Norullah Noori (senior Taliban military commander): Like Fazl, Noori is “wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.” Beginning in the mid-1990s, Noori “fought alongside al Qaeda as a Taliban military general, against the Northern alliance.” He continued to work closely with al Qaeda in the years that followed.
Abdul Haq Wasiq (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence): Wasiq arranged for al Qaeda members to provide crucial intelligence training prior to 9/11. The training was headed by Hamza Zubayr, an al Qaeda instructor who was killed during the same September 2002 raid that netted Ramzi Binalshibh, the point man for the 9/11 operation. Wasiq “was central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. and Coalition forces after the 11 September 2001 attacks,” according to a leaked JTF-GTMO threat assessment.
Khairullah Khairkhwa (Taliban governor of the Herat province and former interior minister): Khairkhwa was the governor of Afghanistan’s westernmost province prior to 9/11. In that capacity, he executed sensitive missions for Mullah Omar, including helping to broker a secret deal with the Iranians. For much of the pre-9/11 period, Iran and the Taliban were bitter foes. But a Taliban delegation that included Kharikhwa helped secure Iran’s support for the Taliban’s efforts against the American-led coalition in late 2001. JTF-GTMO found that Khairkhwa was likely a major drug trafficker and deeply in bed with al Qaeda. He allegedly oversaw one of Osama bin Laden’s training facilities in Herat.
Mohammed Nabi (senior Taliban figure and security official): Nabi “was a senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles.” Nabi “had strong operational ties to Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) groups including al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), some of whom remain active in ACM activities.” Intelligence cited in the JTF-GTMO files indicates that Nabi held weekly meetings with al Qaeda operatives to coordinate attacks against U.S.-led forces.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
The best biography of George Washington yet
Ron Chernow’s extraordinary new book paints the first president as a man in a struggle to contain his emotions
Two unforgettable images run through Ron Chernow’s great book, “Washington: A Life,” and they have nothing to do with cherry trees or wooden teeth or silver dollars thrown across the Potomac.
The first is the image of a gallows. It appears early in the narrative, when Colonel George Washington of the Virginia Militia, seeking to terrify his untutored, undisciplined, ragamuffin soldiers into obedience, builds a 40-foot-high gibbet. Soon after, he sentences 14 of his men to death for desertion and insubordination. Though he will eventually spare 12 from the noose, he will still punish them with absolutely fierce and shocking floggings, an average of 600 lashes per prisoner. “Washington made a point of hanging people in public,” Ron Chernow writes, “to deter others.” It is an expression of “his blazing temper.” It is also a result of his experience as explorer and soldier in the Virginia wilderness, “which darkened his view of human nature.” His lifelong practice will be to see “people as motivated more by force than kindness.” When he hangs his first man, the year is 1756, Virginia is still a British colony, and Washington is 24 years old.
These gallows will recur. They are what novelists call a “through-line” or motif, a pattern of figures within a story. To a historian they are that and more. They are a kind of portal into Washington’s famously elusive, enigmatic character.
Gallows and nooses were, of course, an ordinary part of Washington’s time and world. To hang a disobedient solider — or rebel — was commonplace in 18th century warfare. The British government routinely punished treason this way, with the additional flourish of disemboweling the offender while he was still alive, and then decapitating him. When Benjamin Franklin cautions the Continental Congress that “we must all hang together, or we will all hang separately,” only the first part of his famous sentence is metaphorical.
FORMER OFFICER: SOLDIERS WERE ‘THREATENED’ IF THEY QUESTIONED BERGDAHL STORY
by CHARLIE SPIERING
A former U.S. officer who served in Afghanistan with Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl claims that soldiers were threatened by U.S. authorities if they questioned his story.
After he was captured, Bergdahl said on a video from his captors that he lagged behind on patrol, although other sources in the military suggested anonymously that he walked away from his post.
“Not only has this nebulous non-story been put out for years but you know these soldiers of 4th Brigade 25th Infantry Division were threatened with legal repercussions if they spoke about Bergdahl. Everybody officially mandated silencing of what we saw has been so frustrating,” Bethea explained on BBC World Service Radio today.
Bethea served in Sgt. Bergdahl’s unit, and was an infantry officer in the U.S. Army from 2007 to 2014
CNN’s Jake Tapper also reported that many of Bergdahl’s fellow troops signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him.
Bethea explained that now he was safe, more soldiers would be trying to tell the truth of his disappearance.
BBC interviewed Bethea after he wrote an article for the Daily Beast, asserting that Bergdahl was a deserter.
“He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth,” he wrote. “And that the truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”
Bethea admitted that it would probably be unlikely that Bergdahl would face a court martial, because it would cast doubt on the deal the United States made with the Taliban to secure his release.
“I would at least like to see an official statement on what happened,” he said, referring to the Department of Defense.
Bergdahl is currently at an American military hospital in Germany, where he is being evaluated.
Bethea said that he would reserve judgement whether or not Bergdahl betrayed his country.
“I’m not going to call the guy a traitor just because it sounds like a stronger or harsher word than deserter,” Bethea said, admitting that he didn’t know what happened to him after he was captured.
AWOL and Desertion
By Rod Powers
Many people confuse the terms, AWOL and Desertion. Some people believe that AWOL is when someone is absent for less than 30 days, and someone absent from the military for 30 days or more is a deserter. That’s not quite true.
Unauthorized absence from the military fall under three articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ): Article 85, Desertion,Article 86, AWOL, and Article 87, Missing Movement. Of the three, Desertion is the most serious offense.
A military member has violated Article 87 if he/she is ordered to be on a ship or an aircraft, or deploy with a unit on a certain date and time, and then fails to show up. It doesn’t matter if the member failed to show up through intention or because of neglect, but it is required that the member knew about the movement. A viable defense would be that the member missed the movement through physical inability (as long as that physical inability wasn’t a result of misconduct or neglect). The possible punishment is more severe if the member missed the movement on purpose. It’s not uncommon for Missing Movement to be charged in conjunction with AWOL or Desertion, depending on the circumstances.
AWOL, or “Absent without Leave,” is usually called “Unauthorized Absence” (or UA) by the Navy and Marine Corps, and AWOL by the Army and Air Force. The use of “UA” by the Navy/Marine Corps and “AWOL” by the Army/Air Force is historical. Prior to enactment of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 1951 the services were governed by separate laws. However, its official title under the current UCMJ is “AWOL” (a rose by any other name is still a rose). It simply means not being where you are supposed to be at the time you are supposed to be there. Being late for work is a violation of Article 86. Missing a medical appointment is a violation. So is disappearing for several days (or months, or years). The maximum possible punishments, which I’ll discuss later in this article, depends on the exact circumstances of the absence.
Did you know that desertion can result in the death penalty? It’s true. The maximum punishment for desertion during “time of war” is death. However, since the Civil War, only one American servicemember has ever been executed for desertion — Private Eddie Slovik in 1945.
The offense of desertion, under Article 85 carries a much greater punishment than the offense of AWOL, under Article 86. Many people believe that if one is absent without authority for 30 days or more, the offense changes from AWOL to desertion, but that’s not quite true.
The primary difference between the two offenses is “intent to remain away permanently,” or if the purpose of the absence is to shirk “important duty,” (such as a combat deployment).
If one intends to return to “military control” someday, one is guilty of AWOL, not desertion, even if they were away for 50 years. Conversely, if a person was absent for just one minute, and then captured, he could be convicted of desertion, if the prosecution could prove that the member intended to remain away from the military permanently.
If the intent of the absence was to “shirk important duty,” such as a combat deployment, then the “intent to remain away permanently” to support a charge of desertion is not necessary. However, Such services as drill, target practice, maneuvers, and practice marches are not ordinarily “important duty.” “Important duty” may include such duty as hazardous duty, duty in a combat zone, certain ship deployments, etc. Whether a duty is hazardous or a service is important depends upon the circumstances of the particular case, and is a question of fact for the court-martial to decide.
More About AWOL and Desertion
|Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
|ART. 85. DESERTION
(a) Any member of the armed forces who–
(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;
(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or
(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another on of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States;
is guilty of desertion.
(b) Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently is guilty of desertion.
(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.
Note: For specific details concerning this offense, including elements of proof, maximum punishments, and detailed explanation, see Punitive Articles of the UCMJ.
Next Article > ART. 86. ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE >
The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio
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Civilisation (1969) Part 1 of 13 – The Skin of Our Teeth [HD]
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John McCain moves to start World War 3 in Ukraine
Why Ukraine matters to the U.S. & Russia
MUST SEE! World War 3 is upon us!
Build up to WW3 – RUSSIAN TROOPS in Uneasy Standoff with UKRAINE TROOPS in CRIMEA
The Road to World War 3: Ukraine, Russia and American Imperialism
WORLD WAR ONE (1 / 10): Call to Arms
WORLD WAR ONE (2 / 10): Under the Eagle
WORLD WAR ONE (3 / 10): Global War
WORLD WAR ONE (4 / 10): Ultimate Jihad
WORLD WAR ONE (5 /10): Shackled To A Corpse
WORLD WAR ONE (6 / 10): Breaking the Deadlock
WORLD WAR ONE (7 /10): Blockade
WORLD WAR ONE (8 / 10): Revolution
WORLD WAR ONE (9 / 10): Germany’s Last Gamble
WORLD WAR ONE (10 /10): Endless War
The Guns of August
The Guns of August is a documentary that follows the book by the same title by author, Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989), an eminent American historian. She received the first of her two Pulitzer prizes for this 1962 masterpiece on World War I. The documentary was made in 1965. Barbara Tuchman was highly respected for her ability to present complex subjects and present them with clarity. Until I read the previous review, I have never heard of anyone accusing her of hating Germany or its people or of her book being anti-German propaganda. But there are pictures of shot civilians and movies of smoldering ruins. Then again, there are people who claim the Holocaust never took place and is just anti-Nazi propaganda… Facts: On August 3 1914, Germany declared war on France. The German invasion plan for France called for an attack through Belgium, instead of through the heavily defended Franco-German border. Belgium was neutral and its neutrality was protected by treaty with Great Britain. The Germans attacked on August 3rd. The next day, August 4th, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Germany warned Belgium that they only wanted to reach France and if Belgium complied, there wouldn’t be any trouble. Despite its small army, Belgium chose to protect its sovereignty and its honor and paid for it. Liège, Aarschot, Andenne, Tamines, Dinant, and Leuven, where the worst of the German depredations occurred.
World War I: American Legacy
Blood and Oil: The Middle East in World War I
Promises and Betrayals – Middle East – History Channel Documentary
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Story 1: President Obama’s State of the Union 2014 Address — The Young and The Jobless Betrayed By Obama — Videos
Watch the State of the Union – 2014
State of the Union 2014 Address: President Obama’s Full Speech – New York Times
Obama Urges Immigration Reform | State of the Union 2014
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS – OBAMA wants to REBUILD the PEOPLES TRUST
State of the Union 2014 Address: Obama on Raising the Minimum Wage – New York Times
Frank Luntz State of the Union Focus Group on The Kelly File – Jan. 28, 2014
Rand Paul Sotu Reaction. Rand Paul State Of The Union Reaction
Sen. Ted Cruz Reaction to the State of the Union Address
FULL SPEECH: Tea Party Response to 2014 State of the Union – Senator Mike Lee
Gohmert’s Reaction to The 2014 State of the Union
Watch the Republican Response to the 2014 State of the Union
Maximum Rage Over The Minimum Wage
Glenn Beck: Obama Became America’s First Dictator During State of the Union 2014
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ANTARCTIC RESCUE BEGINS ON THE ICE-BOUND SHIP – BBC NEWS
All passengers airlifted from stranded Antarctic ship Akademik Shokalskiy
Frozen Out: 98% of Stories Ignore That Ice-bound Ship Was On Global Warming Mission
A group of climate change scientists were rescued by helicopter Jan. 2, after being stranded in the ice since Christmas morning. But the majority of the broadcast networks’ reports about the ice-locked climate researchers never mentioned climate change.
The Russian ship, Akademic Shokalskiy, was stranded in the ice while on a climate change research expedition, yet nearly 98 percent of network news reports about the stranded researchers failed to mention their mission at all. Forty out of 41 stories (97.5 percent) on the network morning and evening news shows since Dec. 25 failed to mention climate change had anything to do with the expedition.
In fact, rather than point out the mission was to find evidence of climate change, the networks often referred to the stranded people as “passengers,” “trackers” and even “tourists,” without a word about climate change or global warming.
Chris Turney, the expedition’s leader, is a professor of climate change at the University of South Wales. According to Turney’s personal website, the purpose of the expedition is to “discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south.”
Twenty-two crew members stayed with the ship for the time being, as the scientists and researchers were rescued. According to CNN, the ship has enough supplies for “a very long time.”
Three rescue attempts had been thwarted by growing levels of sea ice and weather conditions.
“Outside, blizzard conditions packing an abnormal amount of ice in to the area for this time of the year, summer in the Antarctic,” ABC News Correspondent Gio Benitez reported on “Good Morning America” Dec. 31.
On Jan. 2, all 52 passengers were airlifted to a nearby Australian icebreaker ship which had tried, and failed, to plow through the ice and free the Akademic Shokalskiy, on Dec. 30. “Good Morning America” said on Dec. 30, that “the ice could be as thick as 13 feet.”
According to Fox News, Turney admitted “we’re stuck in our own experiment.” They reported on Dec. 30, that a statement from the Australasian Antarctic Expedition said, “Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up.”
There was only one news story out of 41 that mentioned climate change. That was CBS “This Morning” Dec. 30. “Despite being frozen at a standstill, the team’s research on climate change and Antarctic wildlife is moving forward,” CBS News Correspondent Don Dahler said. That night, all three evening news programs still failed to make any mention of the group’s climate change research.
The MRC’s Business and Media Institute was unable to view a copy of CBS “Sunday Morning” for Dec. 29, so that broadcast had to be excluded from the tally.
Before their ship got stuck in ice, the researchers were following the trail of the explorer Douglas Mawson, who was stranded in Antarctica for more than a year, beginning in December 1912, according to the website about the expedition.
Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mike-ciandella/2014/01/02/frozen-out-98-stories-ignore-ice-bound-ship-was-global-warming-missi#ixzz2pHVy2JVs
MSM Glosses Over Irony Of Global Warming Scientists Trapped In Antarctic Ice
Somewhere far, far to the south where it is summer, a group of global warming scientists are trapped in the Antarctic ice. If you missed the irony of that situation, it is because much of the mainstream media has glossed over that rather inconvenient bit of hilarity. As an example here is an Associated Press story that avoids mentioning the real mission of the scientists aboard the icebound Russian ship:
The Snow Dragon icebreaker came within 7 miles (11 kilometers) of the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been stuck since Christmas Eve, but had to retreat after the ice became too thick, said expedition spokesman Alvin Stone.
The Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been on a research expedition to Antarctica, got stuck Tuesday after a blizzard’s whipping winds pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place. The ship wasn’t in danger of sinking, and there are weeks’ worth of supplies for the 74 scientists, tourists and crew on board, but the vessel cannot move.
So what was the exact mission of these scientists? AP is rather vague about this reporting only:
The scientific team on board the research ship — which left New Zealand on Nov. 28 — had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson’s century-old voyage to Antarctica when it became trapped. They plan to continue their expedition after they are freed, expedition leader Chris Turney said.
Um, there is a bit more to the expedition than merely following in the footsteps of a century-old voyage. But what that mission really is, AP won’t say. If AP is vague about the mission’s purpose, Reuters provides even less information.
Since the MSM isn’t forthcoming as to the real purpose of those scientists traveling to Antarctica, we turn to Whats Up With That for more insight:
The expedition is being led by Chris Turney, “climate scientist”, who has “set up a carbon refining company called Carbonscape which has developed technology to fix carbon from the atmosphere and make a host of green bi-products, helping reduce greenhouse gas levels.” The purpose of the expedition is “to discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south.”
It seems they found out what the “environmental changes taking place in the south.” are.
Finally, National Geographic bluntly states the mission purpose:
…The current crop of explorers are hoping to document some of the same data and compare them to Mawson’s numbers, “using the twist of modern technology,” Turney told National Geographic earlier this month.
As may be expected, global warming might play a role in this, he suggests, particularly with respect to melted ice in the East Antarctic.
Ah, so now we see why the MSM reluctance to flat out state why the scientists are in the Antarctic. Anything to avoid an inconvenient (but accurate) headline like this:
GLOBAL WARMING SCIENTISTS TRAPPED IN ANTARCTIC ICE
Ship stuck in Antarctica awaits rescue: A ship remains stranded in Antarctica as rescue crews battle treacherous ice to reach it. CNN’s Isa Soares reports.
Libtard “Global Warming” Update: The Ice Thickens; Stranded Ship In Antarctic Awaits New Rescue Plan
52 People Trapped in Antarctica Ring in New Year 2014
Ship trapped in Antarctica
Research Ship Trapped in Antarctic Ice
Antarctica’s Ice on the Move – Antarctica’s Climate Secrets
Global Warming Hoax Explained
Nigel Farage confronts Barroso on global warming scam (State of the Union 2013)
Global Warming or a New Ice Age: Documentary Film
Global cooling was a conjecture during the 1970s of imminent cooling of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere along with a posited commencement of glaciation. This hypothesis had little support in the scientific community, but gained temporary popular attention due to a combination of a slight downward trend of temperatures from the 1940s to the early 1970s and press reports that did not accurately reflect the scientific understanding of ice age cycles. In contrast to the global cooling conjecture, the current scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth has not durably cooled, but undergone global warming throughout the twentieth century.
Concerns about nuclear winter arose in the early 1980s from several reports. Similar speculations have appeared over effects due to catastrophes such as asteroid impacts and massive volcanic eruptions. A prediction that massive oil well fires in Kuwait would cause significant effects on climate was quite incorrect.
The idea of a global cooling as the result of global warming was already proposed in the 1990s. In 2003, the Office of Net Assessment at the United States Department of Defense was commissioned to produce a study on the likely and potential effects of a modern climate change, especially of a shutdown of thermohaline circulation. The study, conducted under ONA head Andrew Marshall, modelled its prospective climate change on the 8.2 kiloyear event, precisely because it was the middle alternative between the Younger Dryas and the Little Ice Age. The study caused controversy in the media when it was made public in 2004. However, scientists acknowledge that “abrupt climate change initiated by Greenland ice sheet melting is not a realistic scenario for the 21st century”.
Currently, the concern that cooler temperatures would continue, and perhaps at a faster rate, has been observed to be incorrect by the IPCC. More has to be learned about climate, but the growing records have shown that the cooling concerns of 1975 have not been borne out.
As for the prospects of the end of the current interglacial (again, valid only in the absence of human perturbations): it isn’t true that interglacials have previously only lasted about 10,000 years; and Milankovitch-type calculations indicate that the present interglacial would probably continue for tens of thousands of years naturally. Other estimates (Loutre and Berger, based on orbital calculations) put the unperturbed length of the present interglacial at 50,000 years. Berger (EGU 2005 presentation) believes that the present CO2 perturbation will last long enough to suppress the next glacial cycle entirely.
As the NAS report indicates, scientific knowledge regarding climate change was more uncertain than it is today. At the time that Rasool and Schneider wrote their 1971 paper, climatologists had not yet recognized the significance of greenhouse gases other than water vapor and carbon dioxide, such as methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons. Early in that decade, carbon dioxide was the only widely studied human-influenced greenhouse gas. The attention drawn to atmospheric gases in the 1970s stimulated many discoveries in future decades. As the temperature pattern changed, global cooling was of waning interest by 1979
The Great Global Warming Swindle Full Movie
World’s climate warming faster than feared, scientists say
Scientists say the world’s climate is warming faster than feared because previous predictions were too “optimistic” and overestimated the cooling impact of clouds
By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney
As the planet marked its fourth hottest year on record, a study published in the journal Nature found increasing levels of carbon dioxide will lead to thinner ocean clouds and reduce their cooling impact, causing temperature rises of at least 5.6F (3C) over the course of the century.
The team of scientists said the findings show some climate models have been too “optimistic” and previous estimates of a minimum temperature rise of only 2.7F (1.5C) could now be discounted. The optimistic models did not properly assess the impact of water evaporation, which sometimes rises only a short distance into the atmosphere and causes updraughts that reduce cloud cover, the study found.
”These models have been predicting a lower climate sensitivity but we believe they’re incorrect,” Professor Steven Sherwood, from the University of New South Wales, told The Sydney Morning Herald.
”The net effect of [climate change] is you have less cloud cover.”
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The study comes amid a controversy in Australia over claims by Maurice Newman, Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s top business adviser, who said the world had been taken “hostage to climate change madness”.
Mr Newman said the climate change establishment, led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, remained “intent on exploiting the masses and extracting more money”.
“The scientific delusion, the religion behind the climate crusade, is crumbling,” he wrote in The Australian. “Global temperatures have gone nowhere for 17 years… If the IPCC were your financial adviser, you would have sacked it long ago.”
Mr Newman, a former chairman of the Australian Stock Exchange, was criticised by the opposition and pilloried by scientists, who said he was expressing “flat earth” views and should be sacked.
“His piece is a mix of common climate change myths, misinformation and ideology,” said Professor David Karoly, from the University of Melbourne, in an article in The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I would not choose a person who believes that the Earth is flat to advise Australian shipping or airline businesses on how to plan routes to travel around the world. It is clearly not sensible to have a person who believes that climate change science is a delusion as leader of the prime minister’s Business Advisory Council.”
Mr Abbott, who is something of a climate change sceptic, once claimed that “climate change is “absolute crap”, though he later said he accepts it is “real”.
Since winning a federal election last September, he has moved to scrap Labor’s tax on carbon emissions and instead proposes to address climate change by paying polluters to reduce emissions, though critics say the plan is underfunded and will not achieve its reduction targets.
The debate comes as Australia in 2013 marked its hottest year since reliable recordings began in 1910. The world’s driest continent also recorded its hottest day, hottest month, hottest winter’s day and hottest summer.
The run of warmer weather began late in 2012 and was so great that Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology last year changed its official weather forecasting map to include new colours – deep purple and pink – for areas with temperatures above 50C (122F).
Globally, according to figures released in December by the United States National Climatic Data Center, 2013 was set to be the fourth hottest year in 134 years of records behind 2010, 2005 and 1998.
Meteorologists said it was the hottest year on record for a non-El Niño year.
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“Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson reinstated
A & E lifts suspension on ‘Duck Dynasty’
‘This Week’ Roundtable: ‘Duck Dynasty’ Debate
‘Duck Dynasty’ Reversal Shows GLAAD Has an Expiration Date
A few years ago, I couldn’t imagine a network disregarding GLAAD’s recommendations
By Brandon Ambrosino
Phil v. The Gays. With which will we side? Or rather, against which will we side? This is the question that society demands we answer. Are we anti-Phil or anti-gay or anti-GLAAD or anti-A&E or anti- … ?
Perhaps no other word sums up the Duck Dynasty fiasco as aptly as the word “anti.”
Whenever I hear that someone is anti-this or that, I immediately think of the old quip about MADD – are there any mothers for drunk driving? – and ask myself if anyone is really in favor of the particular thing being protested. Since GLAAD has recently taken a hard-line stance against Phil Robertson’s “anti-gay” comments, I’ve been asking myself a similar question about defamation: Who among us is for it? Most of us are decidedly against defamation, although we choose not to publicly participate in institutional demonstrations to prove how against it we are. But, of course, GLAAD is an institution, and therefore their criticism reverberates at systemic levels.
Founded in 1985 in the wake of the AIDS crisis, GLAAD was formed to protest skewed coverage of LGBT issues and “to put pressure on media organizations to end homophobic reporting.” The original name was an acronym for “Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,” and although the organization has recently rebranded itself by deciding that the letters G-L-A-A-D aren’t actually going to stand for anything any more, their reputation for protesting defamatory speech is well known both within and without the LGBT community.
It goes without saying that GLAAD has done a great deal of good for the LGBT community, and for that they deserve our applause and honor. As they noted in their announcement heralding their name change, their work continues to educate and influence the greater culture. Historically they’ve been a symbol of inclusion and tolerance, and they’ve worked tirelessly to infuse these values into our controlling media discourses. Frankly, though, I don’t think their hasty reaction to Phil Robertson displayed our LGBT community’s best values.
Before many of us even learned that Phil Robertson was interviewed by GQ, GLAAD had already convinced us that Phil’s words were vile and offensive, and called upon A&E “to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.” (I still wonder how many of us – commentators included – have read the actual story in GQ.) A&E offered its own kneejerk response to GLAAD’s kneejerk response, and placed Phil on “indefinite” hiatus, which then prompted some Evangelicals to offer up their own kneejerk response which had something to do with the freedom of speech and now – did I hear this correctly? – Chick-fil-A. In the end, after carefully reviewing all of the responses, A&E issued a final response explaining their decision to lift Phil’s suspension, which resulted in yet another predictable response from GLAAD. I’m not sure how we do it, but we manage to craft responses to our opponents without ever having actual conversations with them.
It isn’t shocking that a conservative Christian duck-hunter from Louisiana has opinions that GLAAD deemed “anti-gay,” and it isn’t shocking that A&E immediately kowtowed to GLAAD at the first drop of the word “homophobic.” What is shocking, however, is that A&E lifted Phil’s hiatus in spite of the fact that they knew GLAAD wasn’t going to be happy about it. A few years ago, I couldn’t imagine a network disregarding GLAAD’s recommendations. A&E is certainly setting a precedent – which makes me wonder about where we are today with queer politics.
In the ’80s and ’90s, GLAAD was necessary, if only because top media outlets needed to be reminded that journalistic ethics applied to AIDS coverage, too. But in 2014, how necessary is GLAAD? I don’t mean to suggest that the organization isn’t doing some good for our world – as I’ve already noted, they are! But as America edges closer and closer to unqualified and full inclusion of LGBT persons, I wonder if an organization whose raison d’etre is to find and shame instances of discrimination isn’t just a bit archaic.
If our goal is to progress beyond defamation against LGBT persons, then that means GLAAD has a sell-by date. To put it in a different, albeit cheekier way: Defamation is good for GLAAD’s business. To bankrupt our society of LGBT defamation would certainly put GLAAD out of work. It’s hard for me to imagine I’m the only one who’s wondered about this. In fact, GLAAD’s recent name-change only confirms that their leadership has been reexamining and revising their purposes moving forward. Again, I’m not suggesting our world doesn’t need GLAAD: There certainly is a place for them. But A&E’s latest reversal should make us question what exactly that place is.
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God Is Behind Going Duck Crazy — Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson Suspended From Show For Expressing Views On Gays — Will Not Inherit The Kingdom of God — I’m With Phil — Photos & Videos
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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Pronk Pops Show 185: January 2, 2014
The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts
The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio
Segment 0: God Is Behind Going Duck Crazy — Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson Suspended From Show For Expressing Views On Gays — Will Not Inherit The Kingdom of God — I’m With Phil — Photos & Videos
I am Second® – The Robertsons
Duck Dynasty : Phil’s Way of Life
Duck Dynasty: Unknown Facts About The Robertsons
The Best of Uncle Si
Duck Dynasty : Si Struck
Duck Dynasty: Si’s New Toy
Duck Dynasty: Si’s Dating Tips
Duck Dynasty : Hey
Uncle Si Robertson “ICY STARE” HILARIOUS DUCK DYNASTY ( 720P HD )
Duck Commanders Phil and Willie Robertson Interview – CONAN on TBS
The Robertson’s of Duck Dynasty Talk About How Their Faith in Jesus Turned Around Their Lives!!
Duck Commander Phil Robertson Talks About Why This Country Needs More Jesus
Duck Commander Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty spoke to the congregation of Saddleback church in July on why people need Jesus and why the founders would agree — and I gotta say it was awesome. I watched it last night and knew I had to post it for you guys. Duck Commander’s message is really simple, that people need to love God and love each other and he delivers it beautifully. He really is a fantastic preacher.
‘Duck Dynasty’ star: Homosexuality wrong
Phil Robertson Duck Dynasty Suspended GQ Anti-Gay -Black Racist Comments Suspension
‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Makes Shocking ‘Gay is Sin’ Comment
Duck Dynasty dared to mention Jesus
‘Duck Dynasty’ star slammed over anti-gay rant
By Andrea Morabito
Phil Robertson, patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” clan, is being slammed for controversial comments he made about homosexuality in an interview in the January issue of GQ.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me,” Robertson told the magazine. “I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
When the reporter asked Robertson what he found sinful, he said “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
The self-proclaimed Bible-thumper then went on to paraphrase Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
On Wednesday, GLAAD called Robertson’s statements “vile” and “littered with outdated stereotypes.”
“Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.
“Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
An A&E spokesman had no comment, but Robertson released his own statement responding to the controversy.
“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior,” he said. “My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.
“However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
“Duck Dynasty” has been a ratings phenomenon for A&E, drawing 11.8 million viewers to its fourth season premiere last August, the most-watched nonfiction series telecast in cable history.
Its fifth season premieres on Jan. 15.
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Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Meet the Press
Cardinal Dolan: Catholic Church Opposes Obamacare Because ‘It’s Excluding The Unborn’
Cardinal Dolan on lawsuit over contraception
Obama Administration, Catholic Leaders Clash Over Contraception Mandate
Catholic Bishops: We Will Not Comply With The “Coercive” HHS Abortion Mandate
Cardinal Dolan, Immigrants & Columbus Citizens Foundation Donation
NY’s Dolan Elevated to Cardinal in Rome Ceremony
Catholic Institutions Sue Over Obamacare
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Segment 1: Pope Francis Attacks Unfettered Capitalism in Apostolic Exhortation or “The Joy of the Gospel” — Instead of Out of Control Government Spending and Government Failures — Videos
‘This Week': Pope Francis’ Economic Critique
Pope Francis on the joy of the Gospel
RCE: Sort out your financial empire – other topics addressed – glass house attitude !!!
Pope Francis unveils new vision for Catholics
Pope Francis: Unfettered Capitalism Is Tyranny
Pope Francis Goes Off On Capitalism
Is Pope Francis Anti Capitalism
Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’
November 26, 2013
by Joshua Holland
Earlier this month, Laurie Goodstein reported forThe New York Times that Pope Francis’ softer rhetoric on hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage were causing conservative Catholics no small amount of chagrin.
It looks like they can expect more cognitive dissonance, according to this report in The Guardian…
Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.
The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.
In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”.
He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.
“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”
In a sense, the new pope is just grappling with the reality he faces. Polls show that American Catholics, at least, agree with the pontiff’s position that the church focuses too much on social issues. And Francis recently commissioned a survey of Catholics around the world to see where they fall on these questions.
Meanwhile, Dominic Barton, the Managing Director of McKinsey & Co., writes in today’s Wall Street Journal: ”In 2012, the top 1% of earners in the US collected 19.3% of the country’s total household income–an all-time high… The disparity is growing rapidly as well. Incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% from 2009 to 2012, compared to just 0.4% for the remaining 99%.”
Pope Francis’ new document, Evangelii Gaudium: 9 things to know and share
BY JIMMY AKIN
Pope Francis has just released a new document titled Evangelii Gaudium.
It is his first apostolic exhortation, and it is devoted to the theme of the new evangelization.
Here are 9 things to know and share . . .
1) What does “Evangelii Gaudium” mean?
It’s Latin for “The Joy of the Gospel.”
2) What is an apostolic exhortation?
It’s a papal document that, as the name suggests, exhorts people to implement a particular aspect of the Church’s life and teaching.
Its purpose is not to teach new doctrine, but to suggest how Church teachings and practices can be profitably applied today.
Some apostolic exhortations are devoted to the pastoral challenges faced in particular parts of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas). Others are devoted to particular themes.
Previous apostolic exhortations include:
- Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi (on evangelization today)
- John Paul II’s Christifideles Laici (on the role of the laity)
- John Paul II’s Redemptoris Custos (on St. Joseph)
- Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis (on the Eucharist)
- Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini (on the Word of God)
3) How much authority does an apostolic exhortation have?
It is one of the more important papal documents—more important, for example, than a Wednesday audience or a homily.
As it is of a pastoral nature rather than a doctrinal or legal nature, though, it is ranked lower than an encyclical or an apostolic constitution.
As with everything official that the pope writes, it is to be taken very seriously.
4) What leads a pope to write an apostolic exhortation?
Frequently, apostolic exhortations are written after a meeting of the Synod of Bishops.
The Synod of Bishops is a group that gathers selected bishops from across the world to discuss a particular subject.
At the synod, the bishops write a document making recommendations for the pope. It is then given to him for his reflection, and he may then write an apostolic exhortation based on the bishops’ recommendations.
Exhortations that come about in this way are called “post-synodal” apostolic exhortations because they are written after (“post-”) a meeting of the synod.
There does not have to be such an exhortation. Sometimes they hold a meeting of the synod of bishops, but no apostolic exhortation is released.
Also, not all apostolic exhortations are written after a synod, though. Sometimes the pope may decide to write one on his own, without a synod being held on the subject. This was the case with John Paul II’s Redemptoris Custos.
5) Why did Pope Francis write Evangelii Gaudium?
It was written in response to the most recent meeting of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in October, 2012.
It was devoted to the subject of the new evangelization, so that is the subject of Evangelii Gaudium.
This synod took place before Pope Francis was elected in March 2013.
It sometimes happens that a synod is held and the pope who presided over it leaves office before the exhortation is released. His successor may then choose to go forward with the project.
For example, the 2005 synod on the Eucharist was held under John Paul II, but he had passed on before an exhortation was released. Benedict XVI then took the document that the bishops had prepared and had an exhortation written.
(Usually, the pope does not draft the document himself, but it is drafted based on his decisions, and he has final approval over what it says.)
Pope Francis’s decision in this case is similar to his decision to release the encyclical Lumen Fidei, which was primarily drafted by Pope Benedict, but which he completed.
Unlike that case, though, Pope Francis contributed much, much more to this document.
With Lumen Fidei, he did not add very much to what Pope Benedict had written. Evangelii Gaudium, by contrast, is much more a “Francis document.” It regularly emphasizes the distinctive thought and themes of the new pope.
6) What is Pope Francis’ main message in Evangelii Gaudium?
As suggested by the name, the principal theme involves the need for a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to the entire world.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who presented the document at a Vatican press conference, summarized its main message this way:
If we were to sum up Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium in a few words, we could say that it is an Apostolic Exhortation written around the theme of Christian joy in order that the Church may rediscover the original source of evangelization in the contemporary world.
Pope Francis offers this document to the Church as a map and guide to her pastoral mission in the near future.
It is an invitation to recover a prophetic and positive vision of reality without ignoring the current challenges.
Pope Francis instills courage and urges us to look ahead despite the present crisis, making the cross and the resurrection of Christ once again our “the victory banner” (source).
7) What particularly noteworthy things does the pope have to say in the document?
There is a mountain of them.
The document is 51,000 words long, which means that it is the length of a novel and takes at least 5 hours to read.
There are numerous important things that the pope says, some of which I will endeavor to unpack in future blog posts.
However, Archbishop Fisichella offers a summary of seven main themes that it covers:
The following seven points, gathered together in the five chapters of the Exhortation, constitute the fundamental pillars of Pope Francis’ vision of the new evangelization:
1. the reform of the Church in a missionary key,
2. the temptations of pastoral agents,
3. the Church understood as the totality of the People of God which evangelizes,
4. the homily and its preparation,
5. the social inclusion of the poor,
6. peace and social dialogue,
7. and the spiritual motivations for the Church’s missionary action.
The cement which binds these themes together is concentrated in the merciful love of God which goes forth to meet every person in order to manifest the heart of his revelation: The life of every person acquires meaning in the encounter with Jesus Christ and in the joy of sharing this experience of love with others.
YOU CAN READ THE FULL DOCUMENT HERE.
8) Can you give a specific example of something notable he says?
Sure. It’s hard to pick just one!
Pro-lifers will be heartened to read what he has to say concerning unborn children and abortion:
213. Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us.
Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this.
Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative.
Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right.
It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development.
Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems.
Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.
Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual”.
214. Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question.
I want to be completely honest in this regard.
This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”.
It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.
On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty.
Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?
9) Is there an extra significance to the document?
It will take time to fully process the significance of the document, but one this is immediately clear: This document is not something that Pope Francis delegated to others and allowed to be written on auto-pilot. It contains far too much of his own thought and themes for that.
This means that Pope Francis was closely involved in the writing of this document, and that shows that he cares—powerfully—about the theme of evangelization.
This demolishes the wrongheaded claims that Pope Francis doesn’t take the task of evangelization seriously.
On the contrary, it’s one of the highest priorities of his pontificate.
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/pope-francis-new-document-evangelii-gaudium-9-things-to-know-and-share/#ixzz2lszGOH94
‘Not to share wealth with poor is to steal': Pope slams capitalism as ‘new tyranny’
Pope Francis has taken aim at capitalism as “a new tyranny” and is urging world leaders to step up their efforts against poverty and inequality, saying “thou shall not kill” the economy. Francis calls on rich people to share their wealth.
The existing financial system that fuels the unequal distribution of wealth and violence must be changed, the Pope warned.
“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” Pope Francis asked an audience at the Vatican.
The global economic crisis, which has gripped much of Europe and America, has the Pope asking how countries can function, or realize their full economic potential, if they are weighed down by the debts of capitalism.
“A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules,” the 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, said.
“To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which has taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits”, the pope’s document says.
He goes on to explain that in this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which has become the only rule we live by.
Inequality between the rich and the poor has reached a new threshold, and in his apostolic exhortation to mark the end of the “Year of Faith”, Pope Francis asks for better politicians to heal the scars capitalism made on society.
“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Francis wrote in the document issued Tuesday.
His calls to service go beyond general good Samaritan deeds, as he asks his followers for action“beyond a simple welfare mentality”.
“I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor,” Francis wrote.
A recent IRS report shows that the wealth of the US’s richest 1 percent has grown by 31 percent, while the rest of the population experienced an income rise of only 1 percent.
The most recent Oxfam data shows that up to 146 million Europeans are at risk of falling into poverty by 2025 and 50 million Americans are currently suffering from severe financial hardship.
“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems,” he wrote.
Named after the medieval saint who chose a life of poverty, Pope Francis has gone beyond general calls for fair work, education, and healthcare.
Newly-elected Pope Francis has stepped up the fight against corrupt capitalism that has hit close to home – he was the first Pope to go after the Vatican bank and openly accused it of fraud and shady offshore tax haven deals.
In October, Pope Francis removed Vatican bank head Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, after revelations of alleged mafia money laundering and financial impropriety.
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Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935), known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign and the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title which was used for the 1962 film based on his World War I activities.
Lawrence was born illegitimate in Tremadog, Wales, in August 1888 to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner, a governess who was herself illegitimate. Chapman had left his wife and first family in Ireland to live with Sarah Junner, and they called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence. In the summer of 1896 the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where in 1907–10 young Lawrence studied history at Jesus College, graduating with First Class Honours. He became a practising archaeologist in the Middle East, working at various excavations with David George Hogarth and Leonard Woolley. In 1908 he joined the Oxford University Officer Training Corps, undergoing a two-year training course. In January 1914, before the outbreak of World War I, Lawrence was co-opted by the British Army to undertake a military survey of the Negev Desertwhile doing archaeological research.
Lawrence’s public image resulted in part from the sensationalised reportage of the revolt by an American journalist, Lowell Thomas, as well as from Lawrence’s autobiographical account, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922). In 1935, he was fatally injured in a motorbike crash in Dorset.
T. E. Lawrence’s birthplace, Gorphwysfa, now known as Snowdon Lodge.
Lawrence was born on 16 August 1888 in Tremadog, Caernarfonshire (nowGwynedd), Wales, in a house named Gorphwysfa, now known as Snowdon Lodge.His Anglo-Irish father, Thomas Robert Tighe Chapman, who in 1914 inherited the title of Westmeath in Ireland as seventh Baronet, had left his wife Edith for his daughters’governess Sarah Junner. Junner’s mother, Elizabeth Junner, had named as Sarah’s father a “John Junner — shipwright journeyman”, though she had been living as an unmarried servant in the household of a John Lawrence, ship’s carpenter, just four months earlier.
Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner did not marry, but were known as Mr and Mrs Lawrence. They had five sons, of whom Thomas Edward was the second eldest. From Wales the family moved to Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway, then Dinard in Brittany, then to Jersey. In 1894–96 the family lived at Langley Lodge (now demolished), set in private woods between the eastern borders of the New Forest and Southampton Water in Hampshire. Mr Lawrence sailed and took the boys to watch yacht racing in the Solent off Lepe beach. By the time they left, the eight-year-old Ned (as Lawrence became known) had developed a taste for the countryside and outdoor activities.
In the summer of 1896 the Lawrences moved to 2 Polstead Road in Oxford, where, until 1921, they lived under the names of Mr and Mrs Lawrence. Lawrence attended the City of Oxford High School for Boys, where one of the four houses was later named “Lawrence” in his honour; the school closed in 1966. As a schoolboy, one of his favourite pastimes was to cycle to country churches and make brass rubbings. Lawrence and one of his brothers became commissioned officers in the Church Lads’ Brigade at St Aldate’s Church.
Lawrence claimed that in about 1905, he ran away from home and served for a few weeks as a boy soldier with the Royal Garrison Artillery at St Mawes Castle in Cornwall, from which he was bought out. No evidence of this can be found in army records.
Middle East archaeology
At the age of 15 Lawrence and his schoolfriend Cyril Beeson bicycled around Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, visited almost every village’s parish church, studied their monuments and antiquities and made rubbings of their monumental brasses. Lawrence and Beeson monitored building sites in Oxford and presented their finds to the Ashmolean Museum. The Ashmolean’s Annual Report for 1906 said that the two teenage boys “by incessant watchfulness secured everything of antiquarian value which has been found”. In the summers of 1906 and 1907 Lawrence and Beeson toured France by bicycle, collecting photographs, drawings and measurements of medieval castles.
From 1907 to 1910 Lawrence studied history at Jesus College, Oxford. In the summer of 1909 Lawrence set out alone on a three-month walking tour of crusader castles inOttoman Syria, in which he travelled 1,000 mi (1,600 km) on foot. Lawrence graduated with First Class Honours after submitting a thesis entitled The influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture—to the end of the 12th century based on his field research with Beeson in France, notably in Châlus, and his solo research in the Middle East.
On completing his degree in 1910, Lawrence commenced postgraduate research in medieval pottery with a Senior Demy, a form of scholarship, at Magdalen College, Oxford, which he abandoned after he was offered the opportunity to become a practising archaeologist in the Middle East. Lawrence was a polyglot whose published work demonstrates competence in French, Ancient Greek, and Arabic.
In December 1910 he sailed for Beirut, and on arrival went to Jbail (Byblos), where he studiedArabic. He then went to work on the excavations at Carchemish, near Jerablus in northern Syria, where he worked under D. G. Hogarth and R. Campbell Thompson of the British Museum. He would later state that everything that he had accomplished, he owed to Hogarth. As the site lay near an important crossing on the Baghdad Railway, knowledge gathered there was of considerable importance to the military. While excavating ancientMesopotamian sites, Lawrence met Gertrude Bell, who was to influence him during his time in the Middle East.
In late 1911, Lawrence returned to England for a brief sojourn. By November he was en route to Beirut for a second season at Carchemish, where he was to work with Leonard Woolley. Before resuming work there, however, he briefly worked with Flinders Petrie at Kafr Ammar inEgypt.
Lawrence continued making trips to the Middle East as a field archaeologist until the outbreak of the First World War. In January 1914, Woolley and Lawrence were co-opted by the British military as an archaeological smokescreen for a British military survey of the Negev Desert. They were funded by the Palestine Exploration Fund to search for an area referred to in the Bible as the “Wilderness of Zin“; along the way, they undertook an archaeological survey of the Negev Desert. The Negev was of strategic importance, as it would have to be crossed by any Ottoman army attacking Egypt in the event of war. Woolley and Lawrence subsequently published a report of the expedition’s archaeological findings, but a more important result was an updated mapping of the area, with special attention to features of military relevance such as water sources. Lawrence also visited Aqaba and Petra.
From March to May 1914, Lawrence worked again at Carchemish. Following the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, Lawrence did not immediately enlist in the British Army; on the advice of S.F. Newcombe he held back until October, when he was commissioned on the General List; and immediately posted to the intelligence staff in Cairo.
At the outbreak of the First World War Lawrence was a university post-graduate researcher who had for years travelled extensively within the Ottoman Empire provinces of the Levant (Transjordan and Palestine) and Mesopotamia (Syria and Iraq) under his own name. As such he had become known to the Ottoman Interior Ministry authorities and their German technical advisers, travelling on the German-designed, built, and financed railways during the course of his research.
The Arab Bureau of Britain’s Foreign Office conceived a campaign of internal insurgency against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East. The Arab Bureau had long felt it likely that a campaign instigated and financed by outside powers, supporting the breakaway-minded tribes and regional challengers to the Turkish government’s centralised rule of their empire, would pay great dividends in the diversion of effort that would be needed to meet such a challenge. The Arab Bureau had recognised the strategic value of what is today called the “asymmetry” of such conflict. The Ottoman authorities would have to devote from a hundred to a thousand times the resources to contain the threat of such an internal rebellion compared to the Allies’ cost of sponsoring it.
With his first-hand knowledge of Syria, the Levant, and Mesopotamia (not to mention having already worked as a part-time civilian army intelligence officer), on his formal enlistment in 1914 Lawrence was posted to Cairo on the Intelligence Staff of the GOC Middle East.The British government in Egypt sent Lawrence to work with the Hashemite forces in the Arabian Hejaz in October 1916.
During the war, Lawrence fought with Arab irregular troops under the command of Emir Faisal, a son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca, in extended guerrilla operations against the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire. Lawrence obtained assistance from the Royal Navy to turn back an Ottoman attack on Yenbu in December 1916. Lawrence’s major contribution to the revolt was convincing the Arab leaders (Faisal and Abdullah) to co-ordinate their actions in support of British strategy. He persuaded the Arabs not to make a frontal assault on the Ottoman stronghold in Medina but allow the Turkish army to tie up troops in the city garrison. The Arabs were then free to direct most of their attention to the Turks’ weak point, the Hejaz railway that supplied the garrison. This vastly expanded the battlefield and tied up even more Ottoman troops, who were then forced to protect the railway and repair the constant damage. Lawrence developed a close relationship with Faisal, whose Arab Northern Army was to become the main beneficiary of British aid.
Capture of Aqaba
In 1917, Lawrence arranged a joint action with the Arab irregulars and forces including Auda Abu Tayi (until then in the employ of the Ottomans) against the strategically located but lightly defended town of Aqaba. On 6 July, after a surprise overland attack, Aqaba fell to Lawrence and the Arab forces. After Aqaba, Lawrence was promoted to major, and the new commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Sir Edmund Allenby, agreed to his strategy for the revolt, stating after the war:
“I gave him a free hand. His cooperation was marked by the utmost loyalty, and I never had anything but praise for his work, which, indeed, was invaluable throughout the campaign. He was the mainspring of the Arab movement and knew their language, their manners and their mentality.”
Lawrence now held a powerful position, as an adviser to Faisal and a person who had Allenby’s confidence.
Battle of Tafileh
In January 1918, the battle of Tafileh, an important region southeast of the Dead Sea, was fought using Arab regulars under the command of Jafar Pasha al-Askari. The battle was a defensive engagement that turned into an offensive rout, and was described in the official history of the war as a “brilliant feat of arms”.Lawrence was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership at Tafileh, and was also promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
By the summer of 1918, the Turks were offering a substantial reward for Lawrence’s capture, with one officer writing in his notes; “Though a price of £15,000 has been put on his head by the Turks, no Arab has, as yet, attempted to betray him. The Sharif of Mecca [King of the Hedjaz] has given him the status of one of his sons, and he is just the finely tempered steel that supports the whole structure of our influence in Arabia. He is a very inspiring gentleman adventurer.”
Fall of Damascus
Lawrence was involved in the build-up to the capture of Damascus in the final weeks of the war. Much to his disappointment, and contrary to instructions he had issued, he was not present at the city’s formal surrender, arriving several hours after the city had fallen. Lawrence entered Damascus around 9am on 1 October 1918, but was only the third arrival of the day, the first being the 10th Australian Light Horse Brigade, led by Major A.C.N. ‘Harry’ Olden who formally accepted the surrender of the city from acting Governor Emir Said. In newly liberated Damascus—which he had envisaged as the capital of an Arab state—Lawrence was instrumental in establishing a provisional Arab government under Faisal. Faisal’s rule as king, however, came to an abrupt end in 1920, after the battle of Maysaloun, when the French Forces of General Gouraud, under the command of General Mariano Goybet, entered Damascus, destroying Lawrence’s dream of an independent Arabia.
During the closing years of the war he sought, with mixed success, to convince his superiors in the British government that Arab independence was in their interests. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain contradicted the promises of independence he had made to the Arabs and frustrated his work.
In 1918 he co-operated with war correspondent Lowell Thomas for a short period. During this time Thomas and his cameraman Harry Chase shot a great deal of film and many photographs, which Thomas used in a highly lucrative film that toured the world after the war.
[Lowell Thomas] went to Jerusalem where he met Lawrence, whose enigmatic figure in Arab uniform fired his imagination. With Allenby’s permission he linked up with Lawrence for a brief couple of weeks … Returning to America, Thomas, early in 1919, started his lectures, supported by moving pictures of veiled women, Arabs in their picturesque robes, camels and dashing Bedouin cavalry, which took the nation by storm, after running at Madison Square Gardens in New York. On being asked to come to England, he made the condition he would do so if asked by the King and given Drury Lane or Covent Garden … He opened at Covent Garden on 14 August 1919 … And so followed a series of some hundreds of lecture–film shows, attended by the highest in the land …”
Map presented by TE Lawrence to the Eastern Committee of the War Cabinet in November 1918
Lawrence returned to the United Kingdom a full Colonel. Immediately after the war, Lawrence worked for the Foreign Office, attending the Paris Peace Conference between January and May as a member of Faisal’s delegation. He served for much of 1921 as an advisor to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office.
On 17 May 1919 the Handley Page Type O carrying Lawrence on a flight to Egypt crashed at the airport of Roma-Centocelle. The pilot and co-pilot were killed; Lawrence survived with a broken shoulder blade and two broken ribs. During his brief hospitalisation, he was visited by King Victor Emanuel III.
In August 1919 Lowell Thomas launched a colourful photo show in London entitled With Allenby in Palestine which included a lecture, dancing, and music. Initially, Lawrence played only a supporting role in the show, but when Thomas realised that it was the photos of Lawrence dressed as a Bedouin that had captured the public’s imagination, he photographed him again, in London, in Arab dress.With the new photos, Thomas re-launched his show as With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia in early 1920; it was extremely popular. Thomas’ shows made the previously-obscure Lawrence into a household name.
In August 1922, Lawrence enlisted in the Royal Air Force as an aircraftman under the name John Hume Ross. At the RAF recruiting centre in Covent Garden, London, he was interviewed by a recruiting officer – Flying Officer W. E. Johns, later to be well known as the author of the Biggles series of novels. Johns rejected Lawrence’s application as he correctly believed “Ross” was a false name. Lawence admitted this was so and the documents he provided were false and left. But he returned some time later with an RAF Messenger, carrying a written order for Johns to accept Lawrence.
However, Lawrence was forced out of the RAF in February 1923 after being exposed. He changed his name to T. E. Shaw and joined the Royal Tank Corps in 1923. He was unhappy there and repeatedly petitioned to rejoin the RAF, which finally readmitted him in August 1925. A fresh burst of publicity after the publication of Revolt in the Desert (see below) resulted in his assignment to a remote base in British India in late 1926, where he remained until the end of 1928. At that time he was forced to return to Britain after rumours began to circulate that he was involved in espionage activities.
He purchased several small plots of land in Chingford, built a hut and swimming pool there, and visited frequently. This was removed in 1930 when the Chingford Urban District Councilacquired the land and passed it to the City of London Corporation, but re-erected the hut in the grounds of The Warren, Loughton, where it remains, neglected, today. Lawrence’s tenure of the Chingford land has now been commemorated by a plaque fixed on the sighting obelisk on Pole Hill.
He continued serving in the RAF based at Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, specialising in high-speed boats and professing happiness, and it was with considerable regret that he left the service at the end of his enlistment in March 1935.
Lawrence was a keen motorcyclist, and, at different times, had owned seven Brough Superior motorcycles. His seventh motorcycle is on display at the Imperial War Museum. Among the books Lawrence is known to have carried with him on his military campaigns isThomas Malory‘s Morte D’Arthur. Accounts of the 1934 discovery of the Winchester Manuscript of the Morte include a report that Lawrence followed Eugene Vinaver—a Malory scholar—by motorcycle from Manchester to Winchester upon reading of the discovery inThe Times.
At the age of 46, two months after leaving military service, Lawrence was fatally injured in an accident on his Brough Superior SS100motorcycle in Dorset, close to his cottage, Clouds Hill, near Wareham. A dip in the road obstructed his view of two boys on their bicycles; he swerved to avoid them, lost control, and was thrown over the handlebars. He died six days later on 19 May 1935. The spot is marked by a small memorial at the side of the road.
One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns, who consequently began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle dispatch riders through head injuries. His research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists.
Moreton estate, which borders Bovington Camp, was owned by Lawrence’s cousins, the Frampton family. Lawrence had rented and later bought Clouds Hill from the Framptons. He had been a frequent visitor to their home, Okers Wood House, and had for years corresponded with Louisa Frampton. With his body wrapped in the Union Flag, Lawrence’s mother arranged with the Framptons for him to be buried in their family plot at Moreton. His coffin was transported on the Frampton estate’s bier. Mourners included Winston and Clementine Churchill, E. M. Forster and Lawrence’s youngest brother, Arnold.
A bust of Lawrence was placed in the crypt at St Paul’s Cathedral, London and a stone effigy by Eric Kennington remains in the Anglo-Saxon church of St Martin, Wareham in Dorset.
Throughout his life, Lawrence was a prolific writer. A large portion of his output was epistolary; he often sent several letters a day. Several collections of his letters have been published. He corresponded with many notable figures, including George Bernard Shaw, Edward Elgar,Winston Churchill, Robert Graves, Noël Coward, E. M. Forster, Siegfried Sassoon, John Buchan, Augustus John and Henry Williamson. He met Joseph Conrad and commented perceptively on his works. The many letters that he sent to Shaw’s wife, Charlotte, are revealing as to his character.
In his lifetime, Lawrence published three major texts. The most significant was his account of the Arab Revolt, Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Two were translations: Homer‘s Odyssey, and The Forest Giant — the latter an otherwise forgotten work of French fiction. He received a flat fee for the second translation, and negotiated a generous fee plus royalties for the first.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom
14 Barton Street, London S.W.1, where Lawrence lived while writing Seven Pillars.
Lawrence’s major work is Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an account of his war experiences. In 1919 he had been elected to a seven-year research fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, providing him with support while he worked on the book. In addition to being a memoir of his experiences during the war, certain parts also serve as essays on military strategy, Arabian culture and geography, and other topics. Lawrence re-wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom three times; once “blind” after he lost the manuscript while changing trains at Reading railway station.
The list of his alleged “embellishments” in Seven Pillars is long, though many such allegations have been disproved with time, most definitively in Jeremy Wilson‘s authorised biography. However Lawrence’s own notebooks refute his claim to have crossed the Sinai Peninsula from Aqaba to the Suez Canal in just 49 hours without any sleep. In reality this famous camel ride lasted for more than 70 hours and was interrupted by two long breaks for sleeping which Lawrence omitted when he wrote his book.
Lawrence acknowledged having been helped in the editing of the book by George Bernard Shaw. In the preface to Seven Pillars, Lawrence offered his “thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Shaw for countless suggestions of great value and diversity: and for all the presentsemicolons.”
The first public edition was published in 1926 as a high-priced private subscription edition, printed in London by Herbert John Hodgsonand Roy Manning Pike, with illustrations by Eric Kennington, Augustus John, Paul Nash, Blair Hughes-Stanton and his wife Gertrude Hermes. Lawrence was afraid that the public would think that he would make a substantial income from the book, and he stated that it was written as a result of his war service. He vowed not to take any money from it, and indeed he did not, as the sale price was one third of the production costs. This, along with his “saintlike” generosity, left Lawrence in substantial debt.
Revolt in the Desert
Revolt in the Desert was an abridged version of Seven Pillars, which he began in 1926 and was published in March 1927 in both limited and trade editions. He undertook a needed but reluctant publicity exercise, which resulted in a best-seller. Again he vowed not to take any fees from the publication, partly to appease the subscribers to Seven Pillars who had paid dearly for their editions. By the fourth reprint in 1927, the debt from Seven Pillars was paid off. As Lawrence left for military service in India at the end of 1926, he set up the “Seven Pillars Trust” with his friend D. G. Hogarth as a trustee, in which he made over the copyright and any surplus income of Revolt in the Desert. He later told Hogarth that he had “made the Trust final, to save myself the temptation of reviewing it, if Revolt turned out a best seller.”
The resultant trust paid off the debt, and Lawrence then invoked a clause in his publishing contract to halt publication of the abridgment in the United Kingdom. However, he allowed both American editions and translations, which resulted in a substantial flow of income. The trust paid income either into an educational fund for children of RAF officers who lost their lives or were invalided as a result of service, or more substantially into the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Lawrence left unpublished The Mint, a memoir of his experiences as an enlisted man in the Royal Air Force (RAF). For this, he worked from a notebook that he kept while enlisted, writing of the daily lives of enlisted men and his desire to be a part of something larger than himself: the Royal Air Force. The book is stylistically very different from Seven Pillars of Wisdom, using sparse prose as opposed to the complicated syntax found in Seven Pillars. It was published posthumously, edited by his brother, Professor A. W. Lawrence.
After Lawrence’s death, A. W. Lawrence inherited Lawrence’s estate and his copyrights as the sole beneficiary. To pay the inheritance tax, he sold the U.S. copyright of Seven Pillars of Wisdom (subscribers’ text) outright to Doubleday Doran in 1935. Doubleday still controls publication rights of this version of the text of Seven Pillars of Wisdom in the USA. In 1936 Prof. Lawrence split the remaining assets of the estate, giving Clouds Hill and many copies of less substantial or historical letters to the nation via the National Trust, and then set up two trusts to control interests in T. E. Lawrence’s residual copyrights. To the original Seven Pillars Trust, Prof. Lawrence assigned the copyright in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, as a result of which it was given its first general publication. To the Letters and Symposium Trust, he assigned the copyright in The Mint and all Lawrence’s letters, which were subsequently edited and published in the book T. E. Lawrence by his Friends (edited by A. W. Lawrence, London, Jonathan Cape, 1937).
A substantial amount of income went directly to the RAF Benevolent Fund or for archaeological, environmental, or academic projects. The two trusts were amalgamated in 1986 and, on the death of Prof. A. W. Lawrence in 1991, the unified trust also acquired all the remaining rights to Lawrence’s works that it had not owned, plus rights to all of Prof. Lawrence’s works.
- Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an account of Lawrence’s part in the Arab Revolt. (ISBN 0-8488-0562-3)
- Revolt in the Desert, an abridged version of Seven Pillars of Wisdom. (ISBN 1-56619-275-7)
- The Mint, an account of Lawrence’s service in the Royal Air Force. (ISBN 0-393-00196-2)
- Crusader Castles, Lawrence’s Oxford thesis. London: Michael Haag 1986 (ISBN 0-902743-53-8). The first edition was published in London in 1936 by the Golden Cockerel Press, in 2 volumes, limited to 1000 editions.
- The Odyssey of Homer, Lawrence’s translation from the Greek. (ISBN 0-19-506818-1)
- The Forest Giant, by Adrien Le Corbeau, novel, Lawrence’s translation from the French, 1924.
- The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, selected and edited by Malcolm Brown. London, J. M Dent. 1988 (ISBN 0-460-04733-7)
- The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, edited by David Garnett. (ISBN 0-88355-856-4)
- Jeremy Wilson, T. E. Lawrence. Letters. (See Prospectus )
- Minorities: Good Poems by Small Poets and Small Poems by Good Poets, edited by Jeremy Wilson, 1971. Lawrence’s commonplace book includes an introduction by Jeremy Wilson that explains how the poems comprising the book reflected Lawrence’s life and thoughts.
- Lawrence In Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson. Doubleday, 2013.
Lawrence’s biographers have discussed his sexuality at considerable length, and this discussion has spilled into the popular press.
There is no reliable evidence for consensual sexual intimacy between Lawrence and any person. His friends have expressed the opinion that he was asexual, and Lawrence himself specifically denied, in multiple private letters, any personal experience of sex. While there were suggestions that Lawrence had been intimate with Dahoum, who worked with Lawrence at a pre-war archaeological dig in Carchemish, and fellow-serviceman R.A.M. Guy, his biographers and contemporaries have found them unconvincing.
The dedication to his book Seven Pillars is a poem titled “To S.A.” which opens:
- I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
and wrote my will across the sky in stars
To earn you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house,
that your eyes might be shining for me
When we came.
Lawrence was never specific about the identity of “S.A.” There are many theories which argue in favour of individual men, women, and the Arab nation. The most popular is that S.A. represents (at least in part) his companion Selim Ahmed, “Dahoum”, who apparently died of typhus before 1918.
Although Lawrence lived in a period during which official opposition to homosexuality was strong, his writing on the subject was tolerant. In Seven Pillars, when discussing relationships between young male fighters in the war, he refers on one occasion to “the openness and honesty of perfect love” and on another to “friends quivering together in the yielding sand with intimate hot limbs in supreme embrace”. In a letter to Charlotte Shaw he wrote “I’ve seen lots of man-and-man loves: very lovely and fortunate some of them were.”
In both Seven Pillars and a 1919 letter to a military colleague, Lawrence describes an episode on 20 November 1917 in which, while reconnoitring Dera’a in disguise, he was captured by the Ottoman military, heavily beaten, and sexually abused by the local Bey and his guardsmen. The precise nature of the sexual contact is not specified. There have been allegations that the episode was an invention of Lawrence’s and (with some evidence) that the injuries Lawrence claims to have suffered were exaggerated. Although there is no independent testimony, the multiple consistent reports, and the absence of evidence for outright invention in Lawrence’s works, make the account believable to his biographers. At least three of Lawrence’s biographers (Malcolm Brown, John E. Mack, and Jeremy Wilson) have argued this episode had strong psychological effects on Lawrence which may explain some of his unconventional behaviour in later life.
There is considerable evidence that Lawrence was a masochist. In his description of the Dera’a beating, Lawrence wrote “a delicious warmth, probably sexual, was swelling through me”, and also included a detailed description of the guards’ whip in a style typical of masochists’ writing. In later life, Lawrence arranged to pay a military colleague to administer beatings to him, and to be subjected to severe formal tests of fitness and stamina. While John Bruce, who first wrote on this topic, included some other claims which were not credible, Lawrence’s biographers regard the beatings as established fact.
John E. Mack sees a possible connection between T.E.’s masochism and the childhood beatings he had received from his mother for routine misbehaviours. His brother Arnold thought the beatings had been given for the purpose of breaking T.E.’s will. Writing in 1997, Angus Calder noted that it is “astonishing” that earlier commentators discussing Lawrence’s apparent masochism and self-loathing failed to consider the impact on Lawrence of having lost his brothers Frank and Will on the Western front, along with many other school friends.
Awards and commemorations
Lawrence was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath and awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the French Légion d’Honneur, though in October 1918 he refused to be made a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. A bronze bust of Lawrence was placed in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral alongside the tombs of Britain’s greatest military leaders. An English heritage blue plaque marks Lawrence’s childhood home at 2 Polstead Road, Oxford, OX2, and another appears on his London home at 14 Barton Street Westminster, SW1. In 2002, Lawrence was named 53rd in the BBC‘s list of the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote.
In popular culture
- Lawrence was the subject of Terence Rattigan‘s controversial play Ross, which explored Lawrence’s alleged homosexuality. Ross ran in London in 1960–61, starring Alec Guinness, who was an admirer of Lawrence, and Gerald Harper as his blackmailer, Dickinson. The play had originally been written as a screenplay, but the planned film was never made. In January 1986 at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth on the opening night of the revival of Ross, Marc Sinden, who was playing Dickinson (the man who recognised and blackmailed Lawrence, played by Simon Ward), was introduced to the man that the character of ‘Dickinson’ was based on. Sinden asked him why he had blackmailed Ross, and he replied, “Oh, for the money. I was financially embarrassed at the time and needed to get up to London to see a girlfriend. It was never meant to be a big thing, but a good friend of mine was very close to Terence Rattigan and years later, the silly devil told him the story”.
- Alan Bennett‘s Forty Years On (1968) includes a satire on Lawrence; known as “Tee Hee Lawrence” because of his high-pitched, girlish giggle. “Clad in the magnificent white silk robes of an Arab prince … he hoped to pass unnoticed through London. Alas he was mistaken.” The section concludes with the headmaster confusing him with D. H. Lawrence.
- The character of Private Napoleon Meek in George Bernard Shaw‘s 1931 play Too True to Be Good was inspired by Lawrence. Meek is depicted as thoroughly conversant with the language and lifestyle of tribals. He repeatedly enlists with the army, quitting whenever offered a promotion. Lawrence attended a performance of the play’s originalWorcestershire run, and reportedly signed autographs for patrons attending the show.
- T. E. Lawrence’s first year back at Oxford after the Great War to write his Seven Pillars of Wisdom was portrayed by Tom Rooney in a play, The Oxford Roof Climbers Rebellion, written by Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte (premiered Toronto 2006). The play explores Lawrence’s political, physical and psychological reactions to war, and his friendship with poet Robert Graves. Urban Stages presented the American premiere in New York City in October 2007; Lawrence was portrayed by actor Dylan Chalfy.
- Lawrence’s final years are portrayed in a one-man show by Raymond Sargent, The Warrior and the Poet
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What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria
By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN
MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.
Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.
Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.
From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”
But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.
No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.
The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.
We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.
A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.
I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.
If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
Vladimir V. Putin is the president of Russia.
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In the summer of 2011, just weeks after civil war broke out in Syria, the Tehran Times released a report entitled, Iran, Iraq, Syria Sign Major Gas Pipeline Deal. The report provided details on how Iran planned to export its vast natural gas reserves to Europe through a pipeline that traversed both Iraq and Syria. This Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline would be the largest gas pipeline in the Middle East and would span from Iran’s gas-rich South Pars field to the Mediterranean coastline in Lebanon, via Iraq and Syria.
Syria’s strategic location, and its warm water port on the Mediterranean, have placed it near the center of a major effort by Western nations to pump cheap Middle East gas supplies to Europe and beyond.
Syrian President Assad has since rejected the Arab Gas Pipeline and has instead begun working closely with Iran on Iran’s proposed gas pipeline, dubbed the Islamic Pipeline. This proposed pipeline would obviously compete directly with the Arab Gas Pipeline and its goal of delivering Mideast natural gas to Europe.
But what about Russia? Why are they choosing to side with Syria despite the massive propaganda push by the West? Russia’s economy is predominantly based upon its enormous energy supplies. Much of Europe is dependent upon Russian oil and gas, and this dependency is growing. Russia has the world’s largest reserves of natural gas. Which country has the second largest reserves? Iran.
Iran, however, is isolated with no current ability to export its vast energy supplies to Europe. Russia has its eye on the potential profits of bringing Iranian oil and gas online for Europe. For this reason, (among a myriad of others) it has sought to solidify its relations with Iran. Of course, the most direct route for moving Iran’s energy supplies to Europe is right through the heart of Iraq and into Syria. So, it appears that Russia’s alliance with Syria has less to do with Syria and much more to do with the Iranian gas that may soon flow into Syria.
In the end, these conflicts in the Middle East are all about controlling the flow of energy resources.
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Russia is back. President Vladimir Putin wants the world to acknowledge that Russia remains a global power. He is making his stand in Syria.
The Soviet Union acquired the Tardus Naval Port in Syria in 1971 without any real purpose for it. With their ships welcomed in Algeria, Cuba or Vietnam, Tardus was too insignificant to be developed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lacked the funds to spend on the base and no reason to invest in it.
The Russian return to the Middle East brought them first to where the Soviet Union had its closest ties. Libya had been a major buyer of arms and many of the military officers had studied in the Soviet Union. Russia was no longer a global power, but it could be used by the Libyans as a counter force to block domination by the United States and Europeans.
When Gaddafi fell, Tardus became Russia’s only presence in the region. That and the discovery of vast gas deposits just offshore have transformed the once insignificant port into a strategic necessity.
Earlier at the United Nations, Russia had failed to realize that Security Council Resolution 1973 that was to implement a new policy of “responsibility to protect” cloaked a hidden agenda. It was to be turned from a no-fly zone into a free-fire zone for NATO. That strategic blunder of not vetoing the resolution led to the destruction of Gaddafi’s regime and cost Russia construction contracts and its investments in Libyan gas and oil to the tune of 10 billion dollars.
That was one more in a series of humiliating defeats; and something that Putin will not allow to happen again while he is president. Since his time as an officer in the KGB, he has seen the Soviet Empire lose half of its population, a quarter of its land mass, and most of its global influence. He has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as a “geopolitical catastrophe.”
In spite of all of the pressure from Washington and elsewhere to have him persuade Bashar Al-Assad to relinquish power, Putin is staying loyal to the isolated regime. He is calculating that Russia can afford to lose among the Arabs what little prestige that it has remaining and gain a major political and economic advantage in Southern Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean.
What Russia lost through the anti-Al-Assad alliance was the possibility to control the natural gas market across Europe and the means to shape events on the continent. In July 2011, Iran, Iraq, and Syria agreed to build a gas pipeline from the South Pars gas field in Iran to Lebanon and across the Mediterranean to Europe. The pipeline that would have been managed by Gazprom would have carried 110 million cubic meters of gas. About a quarter of the gas would be consumed by the transit countries, leaving seventy or so million cubic meters to be sold to Europe.
Violence in Iraq and the Syrian civil war has ended any hope that the pipeline will be built, but not all hope is lost. One possibility is for Al-Assad to withdraw to the traditional Aliwite coastal enclave to begin the partitioning of Syria into three or more separate zones, Aliwite, Kurdish, and Sunni. Al-Assad’s grandfather in 1936 had asked the French administrators of the Syrian mandate to create a separate Aliwite territory in order to avoid just this type of ethnic violence.
What the French would not do circumstance may force the grandson to accept as his only choice to survive. His one hundred thousand heavily armed troops would be able to defend the enclave.
The four or five million Aliwites, Christians, and Druze would have agricultural land, water, a deep water port and an international airport. Very importantly, they would have the still undeveloped natural gas offshore fields that extend from Israel, Lebanon, and Cyprus. The Aliwite Republic could be energy self-sufficient and even an exporter. Of course, Russia’s Gazprom in which Putin has a vital interest would get a privileged position in the development of the resource.
In an last effort to bring the nearly two year long civil war to an end, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov urged Syrian president Bashar al-Assad at the end of December to start talks with the Syrian opposition in line with the agreements for a cease fire that was reached in Geneva on 30 June. The Russians have also extended the invitation to the Syrian opposition National Coalition head, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib. The National Coalition refuses to negotiate with Al-Assad and Al-Assad will not relinquish power voluntarily.
The hardened positions of both sides leaves little hope for a negotiated settlement; and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has made it clear that only by an agreement among the Syrians will Russia accept the removal of Al-Assad. Neither do they see a settlement through a battlefield victory which leaves only a partitioning that will allow the civil war to just wind down as all sides are exhausted.
The Russians are troubled by what they see as a growing trend among the Western Powers to remove disapproved administrations in other sovereign countries and a program to isolate Russia. They saw the U.S involvement in the Ukraine and Georgia. There was the separation of Kosovo from Serbia over Russian objections. There was the extending of NATO to the Baltic States after pledging not to expand the organization to Russia’s frontier.
Again, Russia is seeing Washington’s hand in Syria in the conflict with Iran. The United States is directing military operations in Syria with Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia at a control center in Adana about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to the American air base in Incirlik. The Program by President Obama to have the CIA acquire heavy weapons at a facility in Benghazi to be sent to Turkey and onward to Syria is the newest challenge that Putin cannot allow to go unanswered. It was the involvement of Ambassador Chris Stevens in the arms trade that may have contributed to his murder; and the Russians are not hesitating to remind the United States and Europeans that their dealings with the various Moslem extremists is a very dangerous game.
The Russians are backing their determination to block another regime change by positioning and manning an advanced air defense system in what is becoming the Middle East casino. Putin is betting that NATO will not risk in Syria the cost that an air operation similar to what was employed over Libya will impose. Just in case Russia’s determination is disregarded and Putin’s bluff is called, Surface to surface Iskander missiles have been positioned along the Jordanian and Turkish frontiers. They are aimed at a base in Jordan operated by the United States to train rebels and at Patriot Missile sites and other military facilities in Turkey.
Putin is certain that he is holding the winning hand in this very high stakes poker game. An offshore naval task force, the presence of Russian air defense forces, an electronic intelligence center in latakia, and the port facilities at Tardus will guarantee the independence of the enclave. As the supplier of sixty percent of Turkey’s natural gas, Moscow does have leverage that Ankara will not be able to ignore; and Ankara well knows that gas is one of Putin’s diplomatic weapons.
When the Turks and U.S see that there is little chance of removing Al-Assad, they will have no option other than to negotiate a settlement with him; and that would involve Russia as the protector and the mediator. That would establish Russia’s revived standing as a Mediterranean power; and Putin could declare confidently that “Russia is back.” After that, the Russians will be free to focus upon their real interests in the region.
And what is Russia’s real interest? Of course, it is oil and gas and the power that control of them can bring.
Tartus is the second largest port city on the Syrian coast (after Latakia) and the largest city in Tartus Governorate with an estimated population of 118,000 inhabitants as of 2004. The majority of the population is ethnic Levantine Arab. However, there are about 3,000 people of Greek origin who reside mainly in the town of Al Hamidiyah just south of Tartus. Since the start of the Iraqi War, a few thousands Iraqi nationals now reside in Tartus.
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On September 22, 2008, Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said the nuclear-powered battlecruiser Peter The Great, accompanied by three other ships, sailed from the Northern Fleet’s base of Severomorsk. The ships will cover about 15,000n nautical miles (28,000 km) to conduct joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan navy. Dygalo refused to comment on Monday’s report in the daily Izvestia claiming that the ships were to make a stopover in the Syrian port of Tartus on their way to Venezuela. Russian officials said the Soviet-era base there was being renovated to serve as a foothold for a permanent Russian navy presence in the Mediterranean.
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The historic centre of Tartus consists of more recent buildings built on and inside the walls of the Crusader-era Templar fortress, whose moat still separates this old town from the modern city on its northern and eastern sides. Outside the fortress few historic remains can be seen, with the exception of the former cathedral of Notre-Dame of Tartus (Our Lady of Tortosa), from the 12th century. The church is now the site of a museum. Former President Hafez Assad and his predominantly Islamic administration had promised to return the site to the Christians as a symbol of deep Christianity in Syria, however he died before this promise was executed. Assad’s son, President Bashar Assad, has claimed to honor his father’s promise.
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Obama’s Syria War Is Really About Iran and Israel
The dirty little not-so-secret behind President Obama’s much-lobbied-for, illegal and strategically incompetent war against Syria is that it’s not about Syria at all. It’s about Iran—and Israel. And it has been from the start.
By “the start,” I mean 2011, when the Obama administration gradually became convinced that it could deal Iran a mortal blow by toppling President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a secular, Baathist strongman who is, despite all, an ally of Iran’s. Since then, taking Iran down a peg has been the driving force behind Obama’s Syria policy.
Not coincidentally, the White House plans to scare members of Congress into supporting the ill-conceived war plan by waving the Iranian flag in their faces. Even liberal Democrats, some of whom are opposing or questioning war with Syria, blanch at the prospect of opposing Obama and the Israel lobby over Iran.
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Item for consideration: a new column by the Syria analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the chief think tank of the Israel lobby. Andrew Tabler headlines his piece: “Attacking Syria Is the Best Way to Deal with Iran.” In it, he says:
At first glance, the festering Syria crisis seems bad news for diplomatic efforts to keep Iran from developing nuclear capabilities. In actuality, however, achieving U.S. objectives in the Syria crisis is an opportunity to pressure Iran into making hard choices not only in Syria, but regarding its nuclear program as well. More U.S. involvement to achieve its objectives in Syria will inevitably run counter to Tehran’s interests, be it to punish the Assad regime for chemical weapons use or to show support for the Syrian opposition in changing Assad’s calculus and forcing him to “step aside” at the negotiating table or on the battlefield.
Many in U.S. policymaking circles have viewed containing swelling Iranian influence in Syria and preventing Iran from going nuclear as two distinct policy discussions, as the Obama Administration only has so much “bandwidth” to deal with Middle East threats. But the recent deepening of cooperation between Tehran, Hezbollah and the Assad regime, combined with their public acknowledgement of these activities, indicates that they themselves see these activities as furthering the efficacy of the “resistance axis.”
Like every alliance, its members will only make hard policy choices if the costs of its current policies far outweigh the benefits. U.S. strikes on the Assad regime, if properly calibrated as part of an overall plan to degrade the regime, would force Tehran to become more involved in Syria in order to rescue its stalwart ally. This would be costly for Iran financially, militarily and politically. Those costs would make the Iranian regime and its people reassess aspirations to go nuclear.
Needless to say, such a strategy is bound to be counterproductive, since—by slamming Syria, never mind toppling Assad—Washington is likely to undermine doves and bolster hawks in Tehran and undermine the chances for successful negotiations with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, who’ll be speaking at the UN General Assembly later this month.
In fact, both Russia and Iran have signaled recently, in the wake of Syria’s obvious deployment and use of sarin gas and other deadly weapons that they might be getting ready to join the rest of the world in condemning Syria’s chemical warfare, and that makes it far more likely that the much-postponed US-Russia “Geneva II” peace conference on Syria might work. The hawkish Washington Post today notes Rouhani’s new administration in Tehran is softening its tone on Syria, and it reports that the new Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has acknowledged the Syria has erred, saying: “We believe that the government in Syria has made grave mistakes that have, unfortunately, paved the way for the situation in the country to be abused.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, while issuing scathing denunciations of the coming U.S. attack on Syria, has dropped broad hints that he might be willing to join with other nations if and when the United Nations weapons team concludes that Assad used nerve gas, suggesting that Russia might not block a UN Security Council resolution against Syria. In his much-reported interview with the Associated Press, Putin insisted on waiting for the UN report:
“If there is evidence that chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the U.N. Security Council. And it ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumors and information obtained by intelligence agencies through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that.”
Then, according to the Washington Post, Putin declared that he might join a UN-sponsored coalition on Syria:
He said he “doesn’t exclude” backing the use of force against Syria at the United Nations if there is objective evidence proving that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against its people. But he strongly warned Washington against launching military action without U.N. approval, saying it would represent an aggression. Russia can veto resolutions at the U.N. Security Council and has protected Syria from punitive actions there before.
But a change in tone on the part of Russia and Iran—the latter of whom the Obama administration still refuses to invite to Geneva II if and when it occurs—won’t mean a thing if the object of war with Syria is to send a message to Iran. As Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for Bloomberg, says, for Israel it’s all about Iran:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would prefer that Obama enforce his red line on chemical weapons use, because he would like to see proof that Obama believes in the red lines he draws. From Netanyahu’s perspective, Israel isn’t unduly threatened by Assad. Syria constitutes a dangerous, but ultimately manageable, threat.
Netanyahu believes, of course, that Iran, Syria’s primary sponsor, poses an existential threat to his country, and so would like the Iranians to understand very clearly that Obama’s red lines are, in fact, very red. As Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me last night, the formula is simple: “If the Iranians do not fear Obama, then the Israelis will lose confidence in Obama.”
In his round-robin television appearances on Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry—now the administration’s über-hawk—repeatedly said that bombing Syria would send a message to Iran. As he told Fox News on Sunday:
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“The fact is that if we act and if we act in concert, then Iran will know that this nation is capable of speaking with one voice on something like this, and that has serious, profound implications, I think, with respect to the potential of a confrontation over their nuclear program. That is one of the things that is at stake here.”
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« Previous Entries
The Balkanization of Syria Part 1
Published on Aug 5, 2013
Part 1 of an interview with Jeremy Salt on the Syrian conflict conducted by Susan Dirgham. Recorded in Melbourne on 29 July, 2013
Foreign Attempts to Divide Syria Through Sectarianism Part 2
Part 2 of an interview with Jeremy Salt on the Syrian conflict conducted by Susan Dirgham. Recorded in Melbourne on 29 July, 2013.
Syria, Academics and the Media Part 3
Published on Aug 5, 2013
Part 3 of an interview with Jeremy Salt on the Syrian conflict conducted by Susan Dirgham. Recorded in Melbourne on 29 July, 2013.
Syria, Education and Propaganda Part 4
Published on Aug 5, 2013
Part 4 of an interview with Jeremy Salt on the Syrian conflict conducted by Susan Dirgham. Recorded in Melbourne on 29 July, 2013.
The Role of the Media in Disinformation about Syria Part 5
Published on Aug 5, 2013
Part 5 of an interview with Jeremy Salt on the Syrian conflict conducted by Susan Dirgham. Recorded in Melbourne on 29 July, 2013.
Syria – A History of Cultural Diversity Part 6
Published on Aug 5, 2013
Part 6 of an interview with Jeremy Salt on the Syrian conflict conducted by Susan Dirgham. Recorded in Melbourne on 29 July, 2013.
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