Never forget the failure 4

We rightly celebrate heroism today on the anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11/2001 at the same time as we mourn.

It was a day of pride as well as grief. But it was also a day of failure and shame.

Whose failure? Whose shame?

Brandon J. Weichart writes at American Greatness:

The September 11, 2001 attacks were the result of an unmitigated intelligence failure. No, 9/11 was not an “inside job”, as many conspiracy theorists believe. Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network were responsible. But, the 9/11 plot did not happen in a vacuum.

In reality, America’s elephantine national security state had known of bin Laden and his network years before the horrific events of 9/11. Some of the most powerful people in the national security state routinely downplayed and ignored the threat al-Qaeda posed to the United States before 19 hijackers murdered 2,911 people in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

More troubling, though, is the fact that many of the same people who downplayed or ignored the threat of 9/11 and al-Qaeda were also intimately involved in nearly every foreign policy disaster of the last 18 years—from the Iraq War blunder to the inexcusable plot to frame President Donald Trump as a Russian agent.

The enduring failures of the national security state—from its inability to anticipate 9/11 in spite of clear warning signs, to advocating boneheaded Mideast policies—can be plotted in the career paths of individual members of the so-called deep state.

Consider John Brennan. Here is a man who was a self-described Communist when he joined the CIA in the Reagan Administration, at the height of Cold War against the Soviet Union. A supposed expert in U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, as well as a fluent Arabic speaker, Brennan eventually rose to the rank of CIA station chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (where he may or may not have converted to Islam).

While there, Brennan apparently developed a powerful case of “clientitis” (a term for when U.S. foreign policy experts become so involved in their regions of focus that they start substituting for U.S. national interests those of the countries they are observing).

Brennan routinely ignored calls from his colleagues to pressure his Saudi counterparts to hand over more information on bin Laden and the rising al-Qaeda terrorist network in the 1990s (al-Qaeda was, first and foremost, a political and religious movement consisting of and controlled mostly by Saudi nationals).

Things got so bad with Brennan that when the Clinton Administration considered using force either to kill or capture bin Laden in the 1990s, Brennan led the effort to stop it. Had Clinton followed through with his earlier promises of bringing bin Laden to justice, instead of listening to compromised bureaucrats like Brennan, 9/11 might have been avoided. Of course, it did not help that Clinton’s own CIA director, George Tenet, backed Brennan’s opposition to the proposed bin Laden raid.

When George W. Bush took office, inexplicably he chose to keep Tenet on as the director of central intelligence. Tenet, in turn, kept incompetents like Brennan in place (while either marginalizing or forcing out those few intelligence officials who actually took the al-Qaeda threat seriously, such as Richard Clarke and Michael Scheurer, the original head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit).

Sadly, Brennan would go on to enjoy a long career, even after 9/11. This is as much a failure of the permanent bureaucracy (which is supposedly a meritocracy) as it is of the political establishment for leaving people like Brennan atop the sprawling intelligence community and not demanding answers for how such “wise men” could have missed 9/11. In a bygone era, after enduring a catastrophic professional disaster, men like John Brennan would have been forced to resign.

Instead, Brennan got a promotion. Barack Obama elevated him to CIA director in his second term. Brennan’s short-sightedness and incompetence eventually calcified into outright hostility for the very democratic ideals that he was purportedly defending. For instance, when the American people began questioning the authority that our opaque intelligence services had assumed in the dark days following the 9/11 attacks, Brennan used the potent power of the CIA to spy on members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were charged with investigating reports that detainees in CIA custody may have been subjected to abuse.

Then, as the coup de grace to his otherwise disturbing career, Brennan oversaw one of the greatest abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He, along with several other fellow travelers in the national security state, concocted a counterintelligence investigation into Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

The investigation was based on innuendo and lies that Brennan knowingly (and wantonly) perpetuated, which claimed that Trump and key members of his presidential campaign were aided and abetted by the Kremlin to swing the 2016 presidential election in his favor. Other Obama national security officials, including former Undersecretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas, proudly proclaimed in 2017 that this cabal had “buried” the details of the investigation deep in the federal bureaucracy, so as to prevent Trump from using the power of his office to end the investigation.

Where was this zeal in the 1990s, when it came to an actual threat like al-Qaeda?

The trajectory of Brennan’s career is a perfect snapshot for the growth—and compounding failures—of the U.S. national security state since 9/11. Many of the same people who refused to accept that al-Qaeda was a threat, or who advanced equally disastrous policies in the Middle East, are the same individuals who launched a frightening covert, rolling, administrative coup against a duly elected president. Not only is our deep state painfully incompetent but it is also clearly corrupt.

How might the last 18 years have turned out if ignoramuses like Brennan, who downplayed al-Qaeda’s threat to the United States in the 1990s, and who had refused to pressure our Saudi “allies” into being more forthcoming with information about Osama bin Laden, had been fired for failing to anticipate 9/11? Instead of being fired, though, these bumbling bureaucrats were given more power and money to run roughshod over our democracy in the name of protecting us. They had no clue how to protect us before 9/11—and they were certainly clueless about how to protect us after that terrible day.

When Americans say, “We will never forget 9/11,” they should add: “Or how U.S. intelligence failed us!”

Will the guilty men and women ever be made to pay a price for their betrayal?

At the very least, may their names live in ignominy.

The word of the CIA 1

The CIA has concluded in a secret [!?] assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

(Words taken from the Washington Post whose report is to be found here.)

Donald Trump dismissed CIA claims that Russian hacks on Democratic emails were intended to help him win the presidency as “ridiculous”. He told Fox News Sunday that it was “another excuse” for Democrats and said he believed that rival politicians had spread the news. He’s not the only one with doubts – in a secret Capitol meeting last week, a senior FBI official refused to back the CIA’s claim. Russia has been named as the culprit in a number of hacks during the election that saw Democratic emails being leaked. But the FBI says there isn’t enough evidence to confirm Russia was pro-Trump, rather than just causing interference with the election.

(Words taken from the Daily Mail whose report is to be found here.)

The Obama man heading the CIA is John Brennan.

That great resource, Discover the Networks, reveals the following (inter alia) about John Brennan:

In September 2012, Brennan was involved in crafting the false talking points that then-Secretary of State Susan Rice gave regarding the 9/11/12 terrorist attack against a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Specifically, Rice claimed that according to the “best information at present”. the deadly attack was not premeditated, but rather, a “spontaneous reaction” to “a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.”

On January 7, 2013, President Obama nominated Brennan for the position of CIA director. …

At a May 21, 2013 CIA ceremony honoring the Agency officials killed in the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, several CIA officers who had survived those attacks were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) — despite the fact that they were: (a) leaving government service, and (b) still bound by previous NDAs which they had signed. Both before and after the May 21st NDAs, intelligence officials adamantly denied that anyone affiliated with the CIA had been asked to sign nondisclosure agreements regarding the events in Benghazi.

Perhaps the most notable of those denials came in a September 3, 2013 letter from CIA director Brennan to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers, in which Brennan responded to several specific questions that Rogers had previously posed (in a letter dated August 2, 2013) regarding whether or not the CIA officers who survived the Benghazi attacks were subsequently subjected to polygraphs or required to sign NDAs. Posing and answering several questions as a means of responding to Rogers’ queries, Brennan wrote:

Has any officer, either staff of contractor, been forced to undergo any polygraph because of their presence or their participation in any activity related to Benghazi attacks? Response: No.

Has any officer, either staff of contractor, been required to sign any non-disclosure agreement because of their presence at Benghazi or their participation in any activity related to the Benghazi attacks? Response: No.

According to sources familiar with the NDAs that were presented to the Benghazi survivors at the May 21, 2013 memorial service, the documents did not specifically mention the Benghazi attacks and thus were technically consistent with Brennan’s letter. But as a Weekly Standard analysis notes:

That’s a generous interpretation. The new NDAs were presented to Benghazi survivors after they had flown in from around the country (or world) to attend a CIA memorial for the Benghazi fallen at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia — where the attacks in Benghazi were the focus of the day. It’s hardly a leap to imagine that these NDAs, perhaps not even necessary, were intended to remind CIA officials a little more than six months removed from their service in Benghazi that the U.S. government would prefer that they not discuss what happened there.

In March 2014, Senator Dianne Feinstein — the head of a Senate Intelligence Committee that was involved in a multi-year probe (begun in 2009) of the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation measures on suspected terrorists during the Bush Administration — went to the Senate floor and angrily accused Brennan’s CIA of having hacked into the computers of her Committee staffers. In response, Brennan expressed dismay that “some members of the Senate” were making “spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts”. Moreover, he demanded an end to “outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and Congressional overseers”. And he told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell:

As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we do.” Brennan likewise told the media that “a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.

But according to the findings of a CIA inspector general’s report released on July 31, 2014, it was actually Brennan who was proved wrong. The report indicated that five CIA employees — two attorneys and three computer specialists — indeed had surreptitiously and unlawfully searched files and emails on the computers of the aforementioned Senate investigators. In response to the report, Brennan apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee leaders.

Committee members were infuriated, however. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado), for example, called for Brennan’s resignation, citing “the unprecedented hacking of congressional staff computers”, damaging leaks about the Committee’s investigations, and Brennan’s “abject failure to acknowledge any wrongdoing by the agency”.

By contrast, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama continued to support Brennan and had “not at all” lost faith in the CIA leader’s credibility. …

In a May 2012 teleconference, Brennan revealed some highly sensitive information that, in turn, was relayed to the press by one of the other parties to the call — Richard Clarke, former chief of counter-terrorism in the Clinton White House. This highly serious intelligence leak blew the cover of secrecy off of an active counterterrorism operation in which the British and Saudi intelligence agencies had successfully placed an operative deep inside al Qaeda’s organization in the Arabian Peninsula. Consequently, the initiative had to be terminated immediately, enraging America’s foreign intelligence allies.

… CNN reporter Tal Kopan found a striking admission from CIA Director John Brennan. When he first applied to join the CIA, and received his polygraph test, he was asked this standard question:

Have you ever worked with or for a group that was dedicated to overthrowing the US?

Remarking on this last week during a panel discussion at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual conference, Brennan said: “I froze…. This was back in 1980, and I thought back to a previous election where I voted, and I voted for the Communist Party candidate.” Brennan was responding to a question about barriers to recruiting diverse candidates for the intelligence agencies, including whether past records of activism could hurt someone applying for a clearance later in life.

Brennan called his support of the Communist Party a mere “indiscretion”, and reminded his audience that the Constitution grants free speech. He then remembered that he said to himself he could either lie and the polygraph machine would “go wacko” or tell the truth and face the consequences, including possibly being rejected for employment. He told the audience he voted for Gus Hall because while in college he was unhappy “with the system” and saw the “need for change”.

It is relevant to mention that John Brennan probably converted to Islam. (He has not confirmed this.) He is certainly highly protective of Islam.

In a March 2015 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Brennan refused to refer to the Islamic State (ISIS, a.k.a. ISIL) terror group as an “Islamic” entity. Said the CIA director: “Quite frankly I am amused at the debate that goes on [that] unless you call it what it is [Islamic terrorism], you don’t know what you’re fighting. And let’s make it very clear that the people who carry out acts of terrorism, whether it be Al Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant [ISIS], are doing it because they believe it is consistent with what their view of Islam is. It is totally inconsistent with what the overwhelming majority of Muslims throughout the world [believe]. And so by ascribing it as a Muslim terrorism or Islamic extremism — I think it does really give them the type of Islamic legitimacy that they are so desperately seeking, but which they don’t deserve at all. They are terrorists, they’re criminals. Many of them are psychopathic thugs, murderers, who use a religious concept and masquerade, mask themselves, in that religious construct. And I do think it does injustice to the tenets of religion when we attach a religious moniker to [ISIS]. The Muslims I know … The people I’ve worked with throughout the Middle East most of my career find just disgraceful that these individuals present themselves as Muslims.”

Considering all this, we would concede that John Brennan’s trustworthiness may be a little higher than Hillary Clinton’s.

And the reliability of reports that come out of John Brennan’s CIA may sometimes rise to the level of Susan Rice’s statements about the Benghazi attack.

A tale of Parrot and falcons 0

…. and Osama bin Laden.

It seems that bin Laden is not in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan, but in Iran. And it is possible he is being held captive there.

Ken Timmerman tells the story:

A new documentary film premiering at the prestigious Tribeca film festival in New York this week presents stunning new evidence that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is living in Iran, where the Iranian regime is sheltering him. 

The film, “Feathered Cocaine,” began as a simple documentary of the illicit trade in hunting falcons to Middle East desert sheikhs. But as filmmakers Thorkell (Keli) Hardarson and Örn Marino Arnarson delved deeper into their subject, they discovered a dark underworld in which terrorism and falcon smuggling met with astonishing regularity.

In March 2008, the filmmakers ventured into Afghanistan and the former Soviet republics along with Alan Parrot, the head of the Union for the Conservation of Raptors, a conservationist group that seeks to protect wild falcons, to interview a falcon smuggler they code-named “T-2.”

For three days, the team waited in a mountain village while the smuggler kept them under surveillance from afar. Satisfied that they hadn’t been followed, he granted them a 55-minute interview — only if they agreed to disguise his voice and his appearance. …

“T-2” told the filmmakers that he met bin Laden by chance in late November 2004 at a falcon-hunting camp in northeastern Iran.

“I met him five times after 2004,” he said. “The last time we met was in October 2007. Every time, it was in Iran.”  …

“Feathered Cocaine” includes excerpts from the footage with “T-2,” as well as interviews with lawyer John Loftus, former CIA clandestine officer Bob Baer, and others, including this reporter and former Washington Post reporter and terrorism expert Steve Coll.

Loftus revealed that “T-2” provided the filmmakers with the specific frequencies of small transmitters bin Laden had strapped to the backs of his hunting falcons so he could find them if they failed to return to base. Loftus said the CIA could use that information to track bin Laden and capture him, and that he offered it to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency and to the heads of other U.S. intelligence agencies at the request of the filmmakers, with no response. 

Last year, they approached “Rewards for Justice,” the State Department office that is offering a $50 million reward for information leading to bin Laden’s capture, but never received any acknowledgement of their information.

Speaking to a packed house after the Tribeca premier on Friday, Parrot was asked to speculate about why “T-2” agreed to talk to the filmmakers, because the details surely would allow bin Laden to guess his identity.

“I believe that bin Laden wanted ‘T-2’ to send a message through us,” Parrot said. “He wanted the world to know that he was in Iran, but that he couldn’t leave.”

In the movie, Parrot said the Iranian regime is giving bin Laden “a long leash” but is holding his family hostage in Tehran in the event bin Laden revealed his relationship to them. “This was confirmed by one of bin Laden’s sons last year,” Parrot said.

Omar bin Laden, who married a British woman and broke with his father before the 9/11 attacks, revealed in December 2009 that seven of his siblings were living in Tehran and seeking to leave the country.

The story of American-born falconer Alan Howell Parrot lies at the center of this extraordinary tale and lends it credibility. Parrot began breeding falcons and selling them to the king of Saudi Arabia and then to the president of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) in the late 1970s, and was a frequent guest at their royal palaces and elaborate hunting camps in the wilds of southern Afghanistan.

In the late 1990s, so was renegade Saudi financier Osama bin Laden. Parrot described the royal hunting camps “al-Qaida’s board room,” because they gave bin Laden the opportunity to spend weeks of quality time with wealthy backers from the U.A.E. and other gulf states.

Parrot alleges that bin Laden’s royal backers transferred “hundreds of millions of dollars” in cash to him during these hunting expeditions, as well as military equipment and off-road vehicles. The movie includes footage of a U.A.E. military C-130 transport plane landing at a makeshift airstrip in western Pakistan to deliver equipment to the hunting camps.

“I see bin Laden as a falcon smuggler,” Parrot states in the film, “and in that capacity I went after him. All the locals in Kandahar hated bin Laden because he stole all the falcons.”

If only that had been his worst crime!

Osama bin Laden could have been eliminated at one of those camps. The CIA was for doing it, but President Clinton decided against it.

After al-Qaida blew up two U.S. embassies in Africa in July 1998, the CIA also began hunting for bin Laden in earnest. Local agents in Afghanistan spotted him at a royal hunting camp near Kandahar in February 1999, according to an account that appeared in the final report of the 9/11 Commission.

CIA Director George Tenet asked the White House for permission to launch a cruise missile strike on the camp on Feb. 8, 1999, but soon ran into interference from an unusual source: Richard Clarke, the top counter-terrorism adviser to President Clinton.

As the 9/11 Commission report concluded, “policymakers were concerned about the danger that a strike would kill an Emirati prince or other senior officials who might be with bin Laden or close by,” so they called off the strike.

On March 7, 1999, Richard Clarke called Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the U.A.E. defense minister, to “express his concerns about possible associations between Emirati officials and bin Laden,” the 9/11 Commission report states.

It is not clear whether Clarke told Mohammed that U.S. intelligence had evidence that U.A.E. officials were with bin Laden in Afghanistan, but after the call, bin Laden and his patrons quickly dispersed and the camps were dismantled.

Clarke claims the CIA approved the tip-off call. However, former CIA official John Mayer III told the commission it was “almost impossible” for the CIA to have approved Clarke’s move.

“When the former bin Laden unit chief found out about Clarke’s call, he questioned CIA officials, who denied having given such a clearance,” the report states. “Imagery confirmed that, less than a week after Clarke’s phone call, the camp was hurriedly dismantled and the site was deserted.”