| Len Bracken: 9-11 was carried out by US/Saudi/Israeli intelligence!

9-11 was carried out by US/Saudi/Israeli intelligence – Len Bracken ~ John Robles, The Voice of Russia.

The events of 9-11-2001 continue to be the subject of intense debate and speculation due to the US Governments failure to provide the people of the world with a plausible or believable explanation namely: why two steel framed skyscrapers collapsed and were pulverized into dust as they imploded into their own footprints at free-fall speed from a lateral impact that they were designed to withstand, why building 7 also collapsed due to “office fires” and how a 767 disappeared into a two meter in diameter hole in the Pentagon without damaging the lawn or even second floor windows. Attacks of this nature have been classified as “an indirect defensive attack” by author Len Bracken and in this case saw the United States attacking itself. For those who think these are all “conspiracy theories” Len Bracken cites Machiavelli as one figure who actually documented such tactics man many years ago. He spoke to the Voice of Russia about these matters and more blaming 9-11 on a group originally calling itself the Safari Club.

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Hello, this is John Robles, I’m speaking with Mr. Len Bracken, he is the author of six books including the “Shadow Government: 9-11 and State Terror”, he is also a specialist in international affairs and international relations, and an accredited journalist. This is part 3 of an interview in progress.

Part 1

Part 2

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Robles: Do you think is really possible that a government could kill 3,000 of its own citizens as a pre-text to bring about a hyper-security state and a condition of endless war?

Bracken: Right. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, which probably will make the Gestapo look like some kind of Utopian Paradise when it’s all over.

Robles: You think it’s possible, you think that’s realistic?

Bracken: Yeah, I do think it’s possible, I think that, you know, you had people like Samuel Huntington with his book ‘The Clash of Civilizations‘, there seems to be have been this idea that they would start this “War on Terror” to pick up where the Cold War left off.

And of course a lot of this all goes back to the thing that you brought up before, which is this Project for a New American Century. And of course, Bamford came back in another book called “The Pretext for War” where goes into a great detail about how misleading it was for the Bush Administration to try to link 9-11 to Iraq, and of course, a lot of this goes back to the thing that you brought up before which is this Project for a New American Century, so many of the people that were a part of that, are tied to (How can I put it?) neoconservatives around Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago, who believe in the “noble lie” that can justify any kind of action.

Robles: Len, I was wondering if you could tell me anything about an article which appeared, I believe it was in Newsweek, somewhere around the 15th of September (2001), and they said that the Pentagon had been forewarned, somewhere in this article, which went into… tied into other warnings that were apparently received by other officials and, for example, Condoleezza Rice and the Mayor of San Francisco and some other officials who apparently did not fly that day. Do you know anything about that?

Bracken: Right, the article in the September, 15th issue of Newsweek talked about many of the hijackers receiving training at secure US military installations but it also mentioned that senior Pentagon officials were told not to fly, and to cancel all airplane travel reservations on the day before the 9-11 attacks.

This was in the article and when fellow researchers of mine spoke with one of the authors of the article, a very senior journalist, he denied that this information was actually in the article. And then my friend in turn said: “Hey, it’s right here, you can see with your own eyes that this is what it says” and then he said “Well, then that’s not true”. So he denied the veracity of his own article.

Now with regard to some of the training, probably the most notorious example involves a 24th year air force veteran, by the name of Lieutenant Colonel Steve Butler who was essentially the Dean of Students at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California and he said that one of the hijackers and its, this Saeed Alghamdi (difficult name to pronounce) was actually trained at his institute and main others as well and that this Saeed Alghamdi was actually one of the three hijackers who took flight trainings at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Then, of course, Colonel Butler was actually chastised and given some kind of disciplinary action on the basis of having made accusations, disciplinary measures were taken against him because he accused President Bush of knowing about the impending attacks and doing nothing.

Here is a quote from the letter that he wrote on May, 26th 2002 in theMonterey County Herald: “Of course President Bush knew about the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism.”

Robles: Len, can you tell us a little bit of the background about the.. I believe, what was the official name of this school in Monterey? This was the school where they used to train spies. Can you give us some details on that?

Bracken: It was founded in 1946 with the first name being the Military Intelligence Service Language School, now it is called the Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center in Monterey, most people refer to it as the Defense Language Institute.

Robles: How many of these terrorists were there and what were they studying? English?

Bracken: My understanding is that there was at least one, this Saeed Alghamdi, could have been more and they were studying English as a second language.

Robles: Why would they need it?

Bracken: You know, that’s a good question. I guess that they probably spoke some English but not well enough to further their fight training or whatever else they were doing.

Robles: Do you think it is still possible that these people are still around today? Do you think any of the hijackers are still alive?

Bracken: It is entirely possible but certainly the idea that people they said who committed these attacks probably were not the ones who did it. Because many of these people have been found still alive, yet the government said that they died in the attacks.

Robles: So who did it then?

Bracken: I go back to what I said before; I think it was a massive operation, massive intelligence operation involving several governments.

Robles: Do you think it is possible they were drones?

Bracken: I take all of the above approach to the technical questions; I think we should consider everything. I don’t think we are not going to get definitive answers on any of them. That’s not very satisfying but I think that that’s the reality.

I just go back to sort of my theory, I think it was an indirect defensive attack with United States attacking itself.

It’s a very interesting thing about conspiracies, in his discourses Machiavelli talks about six types of conspiracies and he says that an attack against one’s own country is actually very easy to do and so you have it from a figure no less than Machiavelli, saying that, you know, someone in a position of power decides to attack his own country, that he certainly would be able to do that with relative ease.

It might be interesting to include, you know, when people talk about conspiracy theories and try to dismiss this type of thinking. These things have been around for a long time and you have political analysts of the stature of Machiavelli presenting his classifications of types of conspiracies actually.

Robles: Back to the language school, I believe the person you mentioned wrote a letter to some newspaper.

Bracken:Right. It was in May 26, 2002 inMonterey County Herald, I have portion of it here at hands and he said: “Of course President Bush knew about the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism.”

So that was written by a 24-year veteran of the air force, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Butler who was the Dean of Students at the Defense Language Institute who said that Saeed Alghamdi, and perhaps other hijackers were students at the Institute.

Robles: He “neededthis war on terrorism”, why do think that is?

Bracken: I think its feeling the vacuum created by the end of the Cold War, you had to have something to sustain the Defense Industrial Complex, which is sort of, to say it more accurately, it’s probably a Military Intelligence Complex at this point, you might even call it a Military Intelligence Pharmaceutical Complex because a lot of drugs are being given to people that are involved in those operation, I believe.

Robles: Whether they are branch outing the pharmaceuticals or intelligence or military, I don’t think it’s important, it is the same shadow government, if you want to call them that.

Bracken: That was the title of book but unfortunately, I don’t have the definitive list of those responsible, we can always keep looking but it’s hard to really know exactly who is pulling the strings, who are the puppet masters?

Robles: Now, Len, your theory. What is your gut feeling, what is your theory who is behind this? What do you think really happened? In your gut, in your heart? Who do you think really did this?

Bracken: I think it’s agroup, a sort of amorphous group, called the Safari Club. And this Safari Club started back in the 70s when they had the Church Committee looking into activities of the CIA.

It comprises Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States primarily, could bring in other intelligence agencies, conceivably Pakistan in this event.

So the Safari Club came into being in order to prosecute just these kinds of things that would never be allowed by the parliaments and the Congress of the United States, the legislative bodies.

So that’s my gut, that it was some kind of group, we’ll call it the Safari Club, go back to the historical precedent, maybe it’s no longer called that, probably it has another name, it is very easy to change names. But I think it was an alliance of intelligence forces in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.

Robles: This is even beyond Black operations, isn’t it? I don’t even think that Black Operations Command would allow something like that to happen?

Bracken: I think it’s in part a Black Opbut then it has a broader strategic… tactically a Black Op but strategically starting a massive war against terror.

Of course, you mentioned Al-Qaeda, and it was not long after the 2005, 7/7 bombings in London, that Robin Cook who was the former Foreign Secretary of Great Britain said that Al-Qaeda doesn’t really exist, and that it is just a database for the CIA and then he passed away shortly after saying that.

Robles: I have heard thatrecently Al-Qaeda stands for “CIA Terrorist Database”, isn’t that correct?

Bracken: Well, that’s what Robin Cook said. The former Foreign secretary of Great Britain said that.

Robles: Well, Al-Qaeda was begun, we know, in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union, Osama bin Laden got his start in that war, Osama bin Laden had a CIA code name of Tom Osman when he toured US military installations and was privy to weapons demonstrations and things like that. Many people probably don’t know that.

The man who came up with that information Orlin Grabbe, he is no longer with us, he was forced to live in South America or some place after publishing that information, he died a few years ago.

So Saudi controlling Al-Qaeda, the US funding controlling Al-Qaeda and now let’s look at Syria, 426 children killed as a pre-text for another aggressive military attack. What do you think about Syria?

Bracken: It’s just a crime; it’s like a slow motion crime. My heart goes out to everyone who is faced with this “foreign intervention”, I wrote a general theory of Civil War, I would say that this is not a Civil war; this is most clearly a foreign intervention using the irregular troops to do it.

Robles: Non-state actors, right?

Bracken: Right.

Robles: President Assad, he said himself there are tens of thousands, he said, there are “tens of thousands” of imported foreign mercenary quote/unquote “jihadists”, I don’t know if you want to call them jihadists because, I mean, obviously they have economic interests and they are in their being paid, he said tens of thousands, it’s almost beyond belief. And most people don’t believe it, most people say, “Ah, it’s some conspiracy theory, it can’t happen”, especially with what they are fed in the US media. The US media, even if they know this, many US reporters, they know this information but they can’t talk about it because they will lose their jobs.

Bracken:There is an interesting connection… and we do depend on Russian media to a large extent to bring us some news, but there is an interesting tie-in between 9-11 and Syria and that is in the person of Thierry Meyssan who wrote the “Big Lie”, which was probably the first book about 9-11 saying that it was an inside job and he has been doing some great reporting as well with his Voltaire Network about the events in Syria.

Robles: Len, let me ask you a question, a personal question, do you ever get afraid for your safety? Have you been threatened, have you been watched?

Bracken:Yeah, yeah. I get some warnings. And I try my best to walk a fine line, and we say what we can say, of course, here in the United States we have libel laws for the most part, I just addressed my accusations towards the collective statesmen, you know, you have to be very careful, well this is verbatim, my warning was that: “I had to be very careful with what I write”, and I try to be very careful.

Robles: Who gave you that warning? Can you tell us?

Bracken: I can tell you that the same verbatim words were spoken to me twice by two different people in the course of one week when I was writing the book in the summer of 2002 and my apartment was opened, I would come home two days in a row and the front door would be open.

So I was given these very direct, but not too ominous messages, I would have to say that (How can I put it?), I was scared but, you know, I survived. I don’t think I’m particularly brave, I’m not particularly brave, I would not be the first one to say that there is a lot of other people out there who have gone further with all of this and I think about somebody like a family member named Beverly Eckert who died in a plane crash herself, and she was one of those people who did not accept the money, and was trying to get to the bottom of what really happened.

That was part 3 of an interview in progress Len Bracken. You can find the rest of this interview on our website at Voiceofrussia.com. Thanks for listening and as always I wish you the best wherever you may be.

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| The Hijacking of Mandela’s Legacy!

The hijacking of Mandela’s legacy ~ Pepe Escobar, RT.

Beware of strangers bearing gifts. The “gift” is the ongoing, frantic canonization of Nelson Mandela. The “strangers” are the 0.0001 percent, that fraction of the global elite that’s really in control (media naturally included).

It’s a Tower of Babel of tributes piled up in layer upon layer of hypocrisy – from the US to Israel and from France to Britain.

What must absolutely be buried under the tower is that the apartheid regime in South Africa was sponsored and avidly defended by the West until, literally, it was about to crumble under the weight of its own contradictions. The only thing that had really mattered was South Africa’s capitalist economy and immense resources, and the role of Pretoria in fighting “communism.”Apartheid was, at best, a nuisance.

Mandela is being allowed sainthood by the 0.0001% because he extended a hand to the white oppressor who kept him in jail for 27 years. And because he accepted – in the name of “national reconciliation” – that no apartheid killers would be tried, unlike the Nazis.

Among the cataracts of emotional tributes and the crass marketization of the icon, there’s barely a peep in Western corporate media about Mandela’s firm refusal to ditch armed struggle against apartheid (if he had done so, he would not have been jailed for 27 years); his gratitude towards Fidel Castro’s Cuba – which always supported the people of Angola, Namibia and South Africa fighting apartheid; and his perennial support for the liberation struggle in Palestine.

Young generations, especially, must be made aware that during the Cold War, any organization fighting for the freedom of the oppressed in the developing world was dubbed “terrorist”; that was the Cold War version of the “war on terror”. Only at the end of the 20th century was the fight against apartheid accepted as a supreme moral cause; and Mandela, of course, rightfully became the universal face of the cause.

It’s easy to forget that conservative messiah Ronald Reagan – who enthusiastically hailed the precursors of al-Qaeda as “freedom fighters” – fiercely opposed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act because, what else, the African National Congress (ANC) was considered a “terrorist organization” (on top of Washington branding the ANC as “communists”).

 

The same applied to a then-Republican Congressman from Wyoming who later would turn into a Darth Vader replicant, Dick Cheney. As for Israel, it even offered one of its nuclear weapons to the Afrikaners in Pretoria – presumably to wipe assorted African commies off the map.

In his notorious 1990 visit to the US, now as a free man, Mandela duly praised Fidel, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Col. Gaddafi as his “comrades in arms”“There is no reason whatsoever why we should have any hesitation about hailing their commitment to human rights.” Washington/Wall Street was livid.

And this was Mandela’s take, in early 2003, on the by then inevitable invasion of Iraq and the wider war on terror; “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America.” No wonder he was kept on the US government terrorist list until as late as 2008.

From terrorism to sainthood

In the early 1960s – when, by the way, the US itself was practicing apartheid in the South – it would be hard to predict to what extent “Madiba” (his clan name), the dandy lawyer and lover of boxing with an authoritarian character streak, would adopt Gandhi’s non-violence strategy to end up forging an exceptional destiny graphically embodying the political will to transform society. Yet the seeds of “Invictus” were already there.

The fascinating complexity of Mandela is that he was essentially a democratic socialist. Certainly not a capitalist. And not a pacifist either; on the contrary, he would accept violence as a means to an end. In his books and countless speeches, he always admitted his flaws. His soul must be smirking now at all the adulation.

Arguably, without Mandela, Barack Obama would never have reached the White House; he admitted on the record that his first political act was at an anti-apartheid demonstration. But let’s make it clear: Mr. Obama, you’re no Nelson Mandela.

To summarize an extremely complex process, in the “death throes” of apartheid, the regime was mired in massive corruption, hardcore military spending and with the townships about to explode. Mix Fidel’s Cuban fighters kicking the butt of South Africans (supported by the US) in Angola and Namibia with the inability to even repay Western loans, and you have a recipe for bankruptcy.

The best and the brightest in the revolutionary struggle – like Mandela – were either in jail, in exile, assassinated (like Steve Biko) or “disappeared”, Latin American death squad-style. The actual freedom struggle was mostly outside South Africa – in Angola, Namibia and the newly liberated Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Once again, make no mistake; without Cuba – as Mandela amply stressed writing from jail in March 1988 – there would be “no liberation of our continent, and my people, from the scourge of apartheid”. Now get one of those 0.0001% to admit it.

In spite of the debacle the regime – supported by the West – sensed an opening. Why not negotiate with a man who had been isolated from the outside world since 1962? No more waves and waves of Third World liberation struggles; Africa was now mired in war, and all sorts of socialist revolutions had been smashed, from Che Guevara killed in Bolivia in 1967 to Allende killed in the 1973 coup in Chile.

Mandela had to catch up with all this and also come to grips with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of what European intellectuals called “real socialism.” And then he would need to try to prevent a civil war and the total economic collapse of South Africa.

The apartheid regime was wily enough to secure control of the Central Bank – with crucial IMF help – and South Africa’s trade policy. Mandela secured only a (very significant) political victory. The ANC only found out it had been conned when it took power. Forget about its socialist idea of nationalizing the mining and banking industries – owned by Western capital, and distribute the benefits to the indigenous population. The West would never allow it. And to make matters worse, the ANC was literally hijacked by a sorry, greedy bunch.

Follow the roadmap

John Pilger is spot on pointing to economic apartheid in South Africa now with a new face.

Patrick Bond has written arguably the best expose anywhere of the Mandela years – and their legacy.

And Ronnie Kasrils does a courageous mea culpa dissecting how Mandela and the ANC accepted a devil’s pact with the usual suspects.

The bottom line: Mandela defeated apartheid but was defeated by neoliberalism. And that’s the dirty secret of him being allowed sainthood.

Now for the future. Cameroonian Achille Mbembe, historian and political science professor, is one of Africa’s foremost intellectuals. In his book Critique of Black Reason, recently published in France (not yet in English), Mbembe praises Mandela and stresses that Africans must imperatively invent new forms of leadership, the essential precondition to lift themselves in the world. All-too-human“Madiba” has provided the roadmap. May Africa unleash one, two, a thousand Mandelas.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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| WTF! For 20 Years US Nuclear Launch Code Was 00000000!

For 20 Years the Nuclear Launch Code at US Minuteman Silos Was 00000000 ~ KARL SMALLWOOD – TODAYIFOUNDOUT.COM, Gizmodo.

Today I found out that during the height of the Cold War, the US military put such an emphasis on a rapid response to an attack on American soil, that to minimize any foreseeable delay in launching a nuclear missile, for nearly two decades they intentionally set the launch codes at every silo in the US to 8 zeroes.

We guess the first thing we need to address is how this even came to be in the first place. Well, in 1962 JFK signed the National Security Action Memorandum 160, which was supposed to ensure that every nuclear weapon the US had be fitted with a Permissive Action Link (PAL),basically a small device that ensured that the missile could only be launched with the right code and with the right authority.

There was particularly a concern that the nuclear missiles the United States had stationed in other countries, some of which with somewhat unstable leadership, could potentially be seized by those governments and launched. With the PAL system, this became much less of a problem.

Beyond foreign seizure, there was also simply the problem that many U.S. commanders had the ability to launch nukes under their control at any time. Just one commanding officer who wasn’t quite right in the head and World War III begins. As U.S. General Horace M. Wade stated about General Thomas Power:

I used to worry about General Power. I used to worry that General Power was not stable. I used to worry about the fact that he had control over so many weapons and weapon systems and could, under certain conditions, launch the force. Back in the days before we had real positive control [i.e., PAL locks], SAC had the power to do a lot of things, and it was in his hands, and he knew it.

To give you an idea of how secure the PAL system was at this time, bypassing one was once described as being “about as complex as performing a tonsillectomy while entering the patient from the wrong end.” This system was supposed to be essentially hot-wire proof, making sure only people with the correct codes could activate the nuclear weapons and launch the missiles.

However, though the devices were supposed to be fitted on every nuclear missile after JFK issued his memorandum, the military continually dragged its heels on the matter. In fact, it was noted that a full 20 years after JFK had order PALs be fitted to every nuclear device, half of the missiles in Europe were still protected by simple mechanical locks. Most that did have the new system in place weren’t even activated until 1977.

Those in the U.S. that had been fitted with the devices, such as ones in the Minuteman Silos, were installed under the close scrutiny of Robert McNamara, JFK’s Secretary of Defence. However, The Strategic Air Command greatly resented McNamara’s presence and almost as soon as he left, the code to launch the missile’s, all 50 of them, was set to 00000000.

Oh, and in case you actually did forget the code, it was handily written down on a checklist handed out to the soldiers. As Dr. Bruce G. Blair, who was once a Minuteman launch officer, stated:

Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel.

This ensured that there was no need to wait for Presidential confirmation that would have just wasted valuable Russian nuking time. To be fair, there was also the possibility that command centers or communication lines could be wiped out, so having a bunch of nuclear missiles sitting around un-launchable because nobody had the code was seen as a greater risk by the military brass than a few soldiers simply deciding to launch the missiles without proper authorization.

Dr. Blair, whose resume to date is far to long to write out here, is the one who broke this “8 zeros” news to the world in his 2004 article “Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark.” He also outlined the significant disconnect between the nation’s elected leaders and the military when it came to nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

Dr. Blair had previously made waves in 1977 when he wrote another article entitled “The Terrorist Threat to World Nuclear Programs“. He had first attempted to communicate the serious security problems at the nuclear silos to congressmen starting around 1973. When that information fell on mostly deaf earshe decided to outline it for the public in this 1977 article where he described how just four people acting in tandem could easily activate a nuclear launch in the silos he had worked in. Further, amongst other things, the PAL system McNamara had touted was barely in operation and thus launches could be authorised by anyone without Presidential authority. He also noted how virtually anyone who asked for permission to tour the launch facility was granted it with little to no background checks performed. It is, perhaps, not coincidence that the PAL systems were all activated and the codes changed the same year this article was published.

So to recap, for around 20 years, the Strategic Air Command went out of there way to make launching a nuclear missile as easy, and quick, as possible. To be fair, they had their reasons, such as the fact that the soldiers in the silos in the case of a real nuclear war may have needed to be able to launch the missiles without being able to contact anyone on the outside. That said, their actions were in direct violation of the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States, during a time of extreme nuclear tension. Further, not activating this safeguard and lax security ensured that with very little planning, someone with three friends who had a mind to, could have started World War III.

We don’t even think that could pass for a bad conspiracy theory film plot, but history is so often stranger than fiction!

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:

Bonus Facts:

  • Amazingly, if we were actually able to convert matter perfectly to energy with 1 kg of matter being completely annihilated, the energy produced from just that small amount of matter is about 42.95 mega tons of TNT. So an adult male weighing in at around 200 pounds has somewhere in the vicinity of 4000 megatons of TNT potential in their matter if completely annihilated.
  • This is about 80 times more energy than was produced by the largest ever detonated nuclear bomb, the Tzar Bomba, which itself produced a blast about 1,400 times more powerful than the combined explosions of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • To further illustrate, 1 megaton of TNT, when converted to kilowatt hours, makes enough electricity to power an average American home for about 100,000 years. It is also enough to power the entire United States for a little over 3 days. So 1 kg of some matter being completely annihilated would be able to power the entire United States for about four months. One average adult male then, when completely annihilated, would produce enough energy to power the U.S. for about 30 years. Energy crisis solved.
  • On a completely baffling scale, a typical supernova explosion will give off about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 megatons of TNT. *cowers in the corner*
  • This coded PAL system was actually proposed long before JFK issued his memorandum on the subject, back in 1953, where it was suggested they be fitted on Polaris submarines, an idea that was never implemented.
  • Today the PAL system has been significantly upgraded using the “Code Management System”, which was fully implemented in 2004 and supposedly overcomes many of the time efficiency problems inherent in the earlier system, while still maintaining the security that is what such a system is all about in the first place.

For 20 Years the Nuclear Launch Code at US Minuteman Silos Was 00000000


Karl Smallwood writes for the wildly popular interesting fact website TodayIFoundOut.com. To subscribe to Today I Found Out’s “Daily Knowledge” newsletter, click here or like them on Facebook here. You can also check ’em out on YouTubeThis post has been republished with permission from TodayIFoundOut.com. Image by rharrison under Creative Commons license.

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| Inside the never ending simulated Middle East War at the US National Training Centre!

Inside The Neverending Simulated Middle Eastern War At The U.S. National Training Center ~ , disinformation. 

simulated war

Venue visits the surreal Fort Irwin, arguably the Pentagon’s Universal Studios, where U.S. soldiers spend three weeks role-playing urban warfare in a mock city, complete with gruesome special effects, food markets filled with burqa-clad women, and gamer-style cards which instruct soldiers as to what injuries they must pretend to have:

Fort Irwin is a U.S. army base nearly the size of Rhode Island, located in the Mojave Desert about an hour’s drive northeast of Barstow, California. There you will find the National Training Center, at which all U.S. troops, from all the services, spend a twenty-one day rotation before they deploy overseas.

 

Sprawling and infernally hot in the summer months, the base offers free public tours twice a month of the simulated battlefields in which imaginary conflicts loop, day after day, without end. Picture paid actors shooting entire magazines full of blank rounds out of machine guns behind simulated Middle Eastern buildings in the Mojave desert.

 

Trucks began rolling down the streets, dodging a live goat and letting off round after round as insurgents fired RPGs (mounted on invisible fishing line above our heads) from upstairs windows; blood-covered casualties were loaded into an ambulance; and, in the episode’s climax, a suicide bomber blew himself up directly beneath us, showering our tour group with ashes.

 

Action is coordinated from above by a ring of walkie-talkie connected scenographers, including an extensive internal media presence, who film all of the simulations for later replay in combat analysis. The sense of being on an elaborate, extremely detailed film set is here made explicit.

During the Cold War, combat moved away from urban settings, and Fort Irwin’s desert sandbox became the stage for massive set-piece tank battles against the “Soviet” Blackhorse Cavalry. But, in 1993, following the embarrassment of the Black Hawk Down incident in Mogadishu, Fort Irwin hosted its first urban warfare exercise.

 

The vision is to expand the range of urban conditions into a “Decisive Action Training Environment,” in which U.S. military will continue to encounter “the world’s worst actors” [sic]—”guerrillas, criminals, and insurgents”—amidst the furniture of city life.

 

One soldier off-handedly remarked that he’d heard the village might be redesigned soon as a Spanish-speaking environment—before hastily and somewhat nervously adding that he didn’t know for sure, and, anyway, it probably wasn’t true.

 

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| Hubris reigniting Cold War as Russia refuses to renew arms agreement with US?

Russia says it will not renew arms agreement with U.S. ~ Reuters.

 

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Wed, Oct 10 2012

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will not renew a decades-old agreement with Washington on dismantling nuclear and chemical weapons when it expires next year, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

The death of the 1991 agreement, which had been renewed twice, is the latest in a series of hitches in relations between the United States and Russia and casts doubt on the future of the much-vaunted “reset” in relations between the Cold War-era foes.

“The basis of the program is an agreement of 1991 which, by virtue of the time when it was conceived, the way it was worked out and prepared, does not meet very high standards. The agreement doesn’t satisfy us, especially considering new realities,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, a veteran disarmament campaigner, was in Moscow in August to push for the renewal of the program, known as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which he helped launch.

The project, intended to dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union, was last ratified by Russia in 2006 and is due to expire in 2013. Aides said it had resulted in the deactivation of more than 7,650 strategic warheads.

Ryabkov said that Russia now had the finances to carry out its own programs and that Moscow was interested in continuing partnerships in third countries.

During his trip to Moscow Lugar said he had brought up the idea of Moscow and Washington working together to reduce Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, though he said response to the idea had been cool.

A number of bilateral agreements including the latest START nuclear arms treaty, put in force in February 2011, have built the foundation for the U.S.-Russia “restart” initiated by Washington when President Barack Obama took office in 2008.

That treaty lowers the ceilings on stocks of long-range weapons.

But recently ties have been strained, most notably by Moscow’s decision to close the office of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Moscow, which critics say is part of a broader Kremlin crackdown on pro-democracy groups.

(Reporting By Thomas Grove; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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| Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: 6 critical Foreign Policy Questions that WON’T be raised in the Presidential Debates!

Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell 
Six Critical Foreign Policy Questions That Won’t Be Raised in the Presidential Debates Peter Van Buren TomDispatch.com, + The Nation.

We had a debate club back in high school. Two teams would meet in the auditorium, and Mr. Garrity would tell us the topic, something 1970s-ish like “Resolved: Women Should Get Equal Pay for Equal Work” or “World Communism Will Be Defeated in Vietnam.” Each side would then try, through persuasion and the marshalling of facts, to clinch the argument. There’d be judges and a winner.

Today’s presidential debates are a long way from Mr. Garrity’s club. It seems that the first rule of the debate club now is: no disagreeing on what matters most. In fact, the two candidates rarely interact with each other at all, typically ditching whatever the question might be for some rehashed set of campaign talking points, all with the complicity of the celebrity media moderators preening about democracy in action. Waiting for another quip about Big Bird is about all the content we can expect.

But the joke is on us. Sadly, the two candidates are stand-ins for Washington in general, a “war” capital whose denizens work and argue, sometimes fiercely, from within a remarkably limited range of options. It was D.C. on autopilot last week for domestic issues; the next two presidential debates are to be in part or fully on foreign policy challenges (of which there are so many). When it comes to foreign—that is, military—policy, the gap between Barack and Mitt is slim to the point of nonexistent on many issues, however much they may badger each other on the subject. That old saw about those who fail to understand history repeating its mistakes applies a little too easily here: the last eleven years have added up to one disaster after another abroad, and without a smidgen of new thinking (guaranteed not to put in an appearance at any of the debates to come), we doom ourselves to more of the same.

So in honor of old Mr. Garrity, here are five critical questions that should be explored (even if all of us know that they won’t be) in the foreign policy-inclusive presidential debates scheduled for October 16 and 22—with a sixth bonus question thrown in for good measure.

1. Is there an end game for the global war on terror?

The current president, elected on the promise of change, altered very little when it came to George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror (other than dropping the name). That jewel-in-the-crown of Bush-era offshore imprisonment, Guantanamo, still houses over 160 prisoners held without trial or hope or a plan for what to do with them. While the U.S. pulled its troopsout of Iraq—mostly because our Iraqi “allies” flexed their muscles a bit and threw us out—the war in Afghanistan stumbles on. Drone strikes and other forms of conflict continue in the same places Bush tormented: YemenSomalia and Pakistan (and it’s clear that northern Mali is heading our way).

A huge national security state has been codified in a host of new or expanded intelligence agencies under the Homeland Security umbrella, and Washington seems able to come up with nothing more than a whack-a-mole strategy for ridding itself of the scourge of terror, an endless succession of killings of “Al Qaeda Number 3” guys. Counterterrorism tsar John Brennan, Obama’s drone-meister, has put it this way: “We’re not going to rest until al-Qaeda the organization is destroyed and is eliminated from areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Africa, and other areas.”

So, candidates, the question is: What’s the end game for all this? Even in the worst days of the Cold War, when it seemed impossible to imagine, there was still a goal: the “end” of the Soviet Union. Are we really consigned to the Global War on Terror, under whatever name or no name at all, as an infinite state of existence? Is it now as American as apple pie?

2. Do today’s foreign policy challenges mean that it’s time to retire the Constitution?

A domestic policy crossover question here. Prior to September 11, 2001, it was generally assumed that our amazing Constitution could be adapted to whatever challenges or problems arose. After all, that founding document expanded to end the slavery it had once supported, weathered trials and misuses as dumb as Prohibition and as grave as Red Scares, Palmer Raids, and McCarthyism. The First Amendment grew to cover comic books, nude art works, and a million electronic forms of expression never imagined in the eighteenth century. Starting on September 12, 2001, however, challenges, threats, and risks abroad have been used to justify abandoning core beliefs enshrined in the Bill of Rights. That bill, we are told, can’t accommodate terror threats to the Homeland. Absent the third rail of the Second Amendment and gun ownership (politicians touch it and die), nearly every other key amendment has since been trodden upon.

The First Amendment was sacrificed to silence whistleblowers and journalists. The Fourthand Fifth Amendments were ignored to spy on Americans at home and kill them with drones abroad. (September 30 was the first anniversary of the Obama administration’s firstacknowledged murder without due process of an American—and later his teenaged son—abroad. The U.S. has similarly killed two other Americans abroad via drone, albeit “by accident.”)

So, candidates, the question is: Have we walked away from the Constitution? If so, shouldn’t we publish some sort of notice or bulletin?

3. What do we want from the Middle East?

Is it all about oil? Israel? Old-fashioned hegemony and containment? What is our goal in fighting an intensifying proxy war with Iran, newly expanded into cyberspace? Are we worried about a nuclear Iran, or just worried about a new nuclear club member in general? Will we continue the nineteenth century game of supporting thug dictators who support our policies in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Libya (until overwhelmed by events on the ground), and opposing the same actions by other thugs who disagree with us like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Bashar Al Assad? That kind of policy thinking did not work out too well in the long run in Central and South America, and history suggests that we should make up our mind on what America’s goals in the Middle East might actually be. No cheating now —having no policy is a policy of its own.

Candidates, can you define America’s predominant interest in the Middle East and sketch out a series of at least semi-sensical actions in support of it?

4. What is your plan to right-size our military and what about downsizing the global mission?

The decade — and counting — of grinding war in Iraq and Afghanistan has worn the American military down to its lowest point since Vietnam. Though drugs and poor discipline are not tearing out its heart as they did in the 1970s, suicide among soldiers now takes that first chair position. The toll on families of endless deployments is hard to measure but easy to see. The expanding role of the military abroad (reconstruction, peacekeeping, disaster relief, garrisoning a long necklace of bases from Rota, Spain, to Kadena, Okinawa) seems to require a vast standing army. At the same time, the dramatic increase in the development and use of a new praetorian guard, Joint Special Operations Command, coupled with a militarized CIA and its drones, have given the president previously unheard of personal killing power. Indeed, Obama has underscored his unchecked solo role as the “decider” on exactly who gets obliterated by drone assassins.

So, candidates, here’s a two-parter: Given that a huge Occupy Everywhere army is killing more of its own via suicide than any enemy, what will you do to right-size the military and downsize its global mission? Secondly, did this country’s founders really intend for the president to have unchecked personal war-making powers?

5. Since no one outside our borders buys American exceptionalism anymore, what’s next? What is America’s point these days?

The big one. We keep the old myth alive that America is a special, good place, the most “exceptional” of places in fact, but in our foreign policy we’re more like some mean old man, reduced to feeling good about himself by yelling at the kids to get off the lawn (or simply taking potshots at them).

During the Cold War, the American ideal represented freedom to so many people, even if the reality was far more ambiguous. Now, who we are and what we are abroad seems so much grimmer, so much less appealing (as global opinion polls regularly indicate). In light of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and the failure to embrace the Arab Spring, America the Exceptional, has, it seems, run its course.

America the Hegemonic, a tough if unattractive moniker, also seems a goner, given theslow-motion defeat in Afghanistan and the never-ending stalemate that is the Global War on Terror. Resource imperialist? America’s failure to either back away from the Greater Middle East and simply pay the price for oil, or successfully grab the oil, adds up to a “policy” that only encourages ever more instability in the region. The saber rattling that goes with such a strategy (if it can be called that) feels angry, unproductive, and without any doubt unbelievably expensive.

So candidates, here are a few questions: Who exactly are we in the world and who do you want us to be? Are you ready to promote a policy of fighting to be planetary top dog—and we all know where that leads—or can we find a place in the global community? Without resorting to the usual “shining city on a hill” metaphors, can you tell us your vision for America in the world? (Follow up: No really, cut the b.s and answer this one, gentlemen. It’s important!)

6. Bonus Question: To each of the questions above add this: How do you realistically plan to pay for it? For every school and road built in Iraq and Afghanistan on the taxpayer dollar, why didn’t you build two here in the United States? When you insist that we can’t pay for crucial needs at home, explain to us why these can be funded abroad. If your response is we had to spend that money to “defend America,” tell us why building jobs in this country doesn’t do more to defend it than anything done abroad.

Now that might spark a real debate, one that’s long, long overdue.

October 11, 2012

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