Friday, 27 January 2006

Hamas, Son of Israel

The Israelis birthed and nurtured their Islamist nemesis

by Justin Raimondo

Amid all the howls of pain and gnashing of teeth over the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, one fact remains relatively obscure, albeit highly relevant: Israel did much to launch Hamas as an effective force in the occupied territories. If ever there was a clear case of "blowback," then this is it. As Richard Sale pointed out in a piece for UPI:

"Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years. Israel 'aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),' said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic [and International] Studies. Israel's support for Hamas 'was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,' said a former senior CIA official."

Middle East analyst Ray Hanania concurs:

"In addition to hoping to turn the Palestinian masses away from Arafat and the PLO, the Likud leadership believed they could achieve a workable alliance with Islamic, anti-Arafat forces that would also extend Israel's control over the occupied territories."

In a conscious effort to undermine the Palestine Liberation Organization and the leadership of Yasser Arafat, in 1978 the government of then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin approved the application of Sheik Ahmad Yassin to start a "humanitarian" organization known as the Islamic Association, or Mujama. The roots of this Islamist group were in the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, and this was the seed that eventually grew into Hamas – but not before it was amply fertilized and nurtured with Israeli funding and political support.

Begin and his successor, Yitzhak Shamir, launched an effort to undercut the PLO, creating the so-called Village Leagues, composed of local councils of handpicked Palestinians who were willing to collaborate with Israel – and, in return, were put on the Israeli payroll. Sheik Yassin and his followers soon became a force within the Village Leagues. This tactical alliance between Yassin and the Israelis was based on a shared antipathy to the militantly secular and leftist PLO: the Israelis allowed Yassin's group to publish a newspaper and set up an extensive network of charitable organizations, which collected funds not only from the Israelis but also from Arab states opposed to Arafat.

Ami Isseroff, writing on MideastWeb, shows how the Israelis deliberately promoted the Islamists of the future Hamas by helping them turn the Islamic University of Gaza into a base from which the group recruited activists – and the suicide bombers of tomorrow. As the only higher-education facility in the Gaza strip, and the only such institution open to Palestinians since Anwar Sadat closed Egyptian colleges to them, IUG contained within its grounds the seeds of the future Palestinian state. When a conflict arose over religious issues, however, the Israeli authorities sided with the Islamists against the secularists of the Fatah-PLO mainstream. As Isseroff relates, the Islamists

"Encouraged Israeli authorities to dismiss their opponents in the committee in February of 1981, resulting in subsequent Islamisation of IUG policy and staff (including the obligation on women to wear the hijab and thobe and separate entrances for men and women), and enforced by violence and ostracization of dissenters. Tacit complicity from both university and Israeli authorities allowed Mujama to keep a weapons cache to use against secularists. By the mid 1980s, it was the largest university in occupied territories with 4,500 students, and student elections were won handily by Mujama."

Again, the motive was to offset Arafat's influence and divide the Palestinians. In the short term, this may have worked to some extent; in the longer term, however, it backfired badly – as demonstrated by the results of the recent Palestinian election.

The Hamas infrastructure of mosques, clinics, kindergartens, and other educational institutions flourished not only because they were lavishly funded, but also due to being efficiently run. Sheik Yassin and the future leaders of Hamas acquired a reputation for "clean" governance and good administrative practices, which would greatly aid them – especially in comparison to the PLO, which was widely perceived as corrupt. Indeed, "clean government" – and not the necessity of armed struggle – was the main theme of their successful election campaign.

The response of Israel and the U.S. has been shock, horror – and a stated refusal to deal with any government dominated by Hamas. U.S. congressional leaders – who unhelpfully passed a resolution prior to the Palestinian poll that demanded Hamas be banned from running – are now calling the entire "peace process" into question. Yet no one acknowledges that the victory of the Suicide Bombers Party demonstrated, in practice, an ancient principle expressed, I believe, by no less an authority than the Bible (Galatians 6:7):

"Be not deceived. God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Full story...

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

International Terrorism Does Not Exist

It's all a con, wake up and smell the charred corpses!

General Leonid Ivashov was the Chief of Staff of the Russian armed forces when the September 11, 2001, attacks took place. This military man, who lived the events from the inside, offers an analysis which is very different to that of his American colleagues. As he did during the Axis for Peace 2005 conference, he now explains that international terrorism does not exist and that the September 11 attacks were the result of a set-up. What we are seeing is a manipulation by the big powers; this terrorism would not exist without them. He affirms that, instead of faking a "world war on terror", the best way to reduce that kind of attacks is through respect for international law and peaceful cooperation among countries and their citizens.

As the current international situation shows, terrorism emerges where contradiction aggravate, where there is a change of social relations or a change of regime, where there is political, economic or social instability, where there is moral decadence, where cynicism and nihilism triumph, where vice is legalized and where crime spreads.

It is globalization what creates the conditions for the emergence of these extremely dangerous phenomena. It is in this context that the new world geo-strategic map is being designed, that the resources of the planet are being re-distributed, that borders are disappearing, that international law is being torn into pieces, that cultural identities are being erased, that spiritual life becomes impoverished...

The analysis of the essence of the globalization process, the military and political doctrines of the United States and other countries, shows that terrorism contributes to a world dominance and the submissiveness of states to a global oligarchy. This means that terrorism is not something independent of world politics but simply an instrument, a means to install a unipolar world with a sole world headquarters, a pretext to erase national borders and to establish the rule of a new world elite. It is precisely this elite that constitutes the key element of world terrorism, its ideologist and its "godfather". The main target of the world elite is the historical, cultural, traditional and natural reality; the existing system of relations among states; the world national and state order of human civilization and national identity.

Today's international terrorism is a phenomenon that combines the use of terror by state and non-state political structures as a means to attain their political objectives through people's intimidation, psychological and social destabilization, the elimination of resistance from power organizations and the creation of appropriate conditions for the manipulation of the countries' policies and the behavior of people.

Terrorism is the weapon used in a new type of war. At the same time, international terrorism, in complicity with the media, becomes the manager of global processes. It is precisely the symbiosis between media and terror, which allows modifying international politics and the exiting reality.

In this context, if we analyze what happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States, we can arrive at the following conclusions: 1. The organizers of those attacks were the political and business circles interested in destabilizing the world order and who had the means necessary to finance the operation. The political conception of this action matured there where tensions emerged in the administration of financial and other types of resources. We have to look for the reasons of the attacks in the coincidence of interests of the big capital at global and transnational levels, in the circles that were not satisfied with the rhythm of the globalization process or its direction.
Unlike traditional wars, whose conception is determined by generals and politicians, the oligarchs and politicians submitted to the former were the ones who did it this time.

2. Only secret services and their current chiefs ­ or those retired but still having influence inside the state organizations ­ have the ability to plan, organize and conduct an operation of such magnitude. Generally, secret services create, finance and control extremist organizations. Without the support of secret services, these organizations cannot exist ­ let alone carry out operations of such magnitude inside countries so well protected. Planning and carrying out an operation on this scale is extremely complex.

3. Osama bin Laden and "Al Qaeda" cannot be the organizers nor the performers of the September 11 attacks. They do not have the necessary organization, resources or leaders. Thus, a team of professionals had to be created and the Arab kamikazes are just extras to mask the operation.
The September 11 operation modified the course of events in the world in the direction chosen by transnational mafias and international oligarchs; that is, those who hope to control the planet's natural resources, the world information network and the financial flows. This operation also favored the US economic and political elite that also seeks world dominance.

The use of the term "international terrorism" has the following goals:

Hiding the real objectives of the forces deployed all over the world in the struggle for dominance and control;

Turning the people's demands to a struggle of undefined goals against an invisible enemy;

Destroying basic international norms and changing concepts such as: aggression, state terror, dictatorship or movement of national liberation;

Depriving peoples of their legitimate right to fight against aggressions and to reject the work of foreign intelligence services;

Establishing the principle of renunciation to national interests, transforming objectives in the military field by giving priority to the war on terror, violating the logic of military alliances to the detriment of a joint defense and to favor the anti-terrorist coalition;

Solving economic problems through a tough military rule using the war on terror as a pretext. In order to fight in an efficient way against international terrorism it is necessary to take the following steps:

To confirm before the UN General Assembly the principles of the UN Charter and international law as principles that all states are obliged to respect;

To create a geo-strategic organization (perhaps inspired in the Cooperation Organization of Shanghai comprised of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) with a set of values different to that of the Atlantists; to design a strategy of development of states, a system of international security, another financial and economic model (which would mean that the world would again rest on two pillars);

To associate (under the United Nations) the scientific elites in the design and promotion of the philosophical concepts of the Human Being of the 21st Century.

To organize the interaction of all religious denominations in the world, on behalf of the stability of humanity's development, security and mutual support.

General Leonid Ivashov

General Leonid Ivashov is the vice-president of the Academy on geopolitical affairs. He was the chief of the department for General affairs in the Soviet Union's ministry of Defense, secretary of the Council of defense ministers of the Community of independant states (CIS), chief of the Military cooperation department at the Russian federation's Ministry of defense and Joint chief of staff of the Russian armies.

Full story...

The life and death of an Iraq veteran who could take no more

Apologies if things are quiet round here at the moment, my life off this screen is taking up more time than usual at the moment.

Anyway, the article below is worth reading because it shows you the effect that war has on the poor bastards sent to die in it. If we made the politicians and their friends fight the wars then there would be none. They hide behind their security while the lives of young innocent men are ruined by the obscenity we call "war" the ones who love it have never experienced it. War sucks and if something doesn't happen soon our world will be engulfed in a war the likes of which we cannot even imagine.

By his own admission Douglas Barber, a former army reservist, was struggling. For two years since returning from the chaos and violence of Iraq, the 35-year-old had battled with his memories and his demons, the things he had seen and the fear he had experienced. Recently, it seemed he had turned a corner, securing medical help and counselling.

But last week, at his home in south-eastern Alabama, the National Guardsman e-mailed some friends and then changed the message on his answering machine. His new message told callers: "If you're looking for Doug, I'm checking out of this world. I'll see you on the other side." Mr Barber dialled the police, stepped on to the porch with his shotgun and - after a brief stand-off with officers - shot himself in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The death of Mr Barber is one of numerous instances of Iraqi veterans who have taken their own lives since the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in spring 2003. Concern is such that the Pentagon has recently instigated new procedures for monitoring the mental health of returning troops. But his story would not have been told but for a group of determined activists and a British journalism student who was among the handful of people the reservist e-mailed just minutes before he killed himself.

Craig Evans, 19, a student at Bournemouth University, was working on a project about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and had been in regular contact with Mr Barber. But the e-mail message he received on Monday 16 January told him something was terribly wrong. It read: "I have nothing to live for any more - I am going to be checking out of this world." Mr Evans said he tried to contact the US embassy and some of Mr Barber's friends in the US to alert them to what he suspected might happen. "I e-mailed him back and wrote, 'I am going to ring you, don't do anything stupid'.It was an effort in vain: within an hour Mr Barber had used his shotgun to end to his torment.

Mr Evans said: "Doug said he wasn't the same person when he got back [from Iraq] - he was paranoid, had lost his social skills, his marriage was over, he couldn't walk down the street without worrying something was going to blow up. I made a promise to him that I would do everything I could to get his story out there."

Mr Barber was a member of the 1485th Transportation Company of the Ohio National Guard and was called up for active duty in February 2003. He arrived in Iraq in summer 2003, when the initial invasion had been completed and just as the insurgency was gathering strength.

He spent seven months in Iraq, driving trucks and trying to avoid the deadly perils that confronted him. He was haunted by the deaths of his colleagues and by the fear and desperation he saw in the faces of Iraqis. Like many reservists pushed into the front line, Mr Barber said he was not properly trained.

"It was really bad - death was all around you, all the time. You couldn't escape it," he said in an interview after he returned to Alabama with the campaign group Coalition for Free Thought in Media. "Everybody in Iraq was going through suicide counselling because the stress was so high. It was at such a magnitude, such a high level, that it was unthinkable for anyone to imagine. You cannot even imagine it." He was opposed to the war but felt obliged to go because he believed that without the experience his opinion would be invalid.

Friends said that when Mr Barber returned things started to fall apart and he split from his wife of 11 years. He had been prescribed clonazepam, an anti-anxiety drug that can cause depression. One friend of more than 13 years, Rick Hays, a minister from Indiana, said: "He was a really good guy, pretty level-headed ... He liked to have fun. But when he came back from Iraq the difference in him was so sad."

Full story...

Monday, 9 January 2006

New call to impeach Blair over Iraq

How many more people have to say it before those supine so-called "representatives" of the people in Houses of Parliament decide to act?

Tony Blair should be impeached over the Iraq war, according to one of Britain's most senior former soldiers.

General Sir Michael Rose, who commanded UN forces in Bosnia, accused the prime minister of taking the country to war on what turned out to be "false grounds", saying it is something "no one should be allowed to walk away from".

Despite publicly insisting that his aim was to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, Mr Blair "probably had some other strategy in mind", said Gen Rose.

He makes the call for Mr Blair's impeachment in a documentary by the former BBC correspondent and former independent MP Martin Bell.

Gen Rose told Bell he would have resigned his commission rather than take troops to war on the flimsy basis offered by Mr Blair.

And he said: "The politicians should be held to account, and my own view is that Blair should be impeached.

"That would prevent politicians treating quite so carelessly the subject of taking a country into war."

He added to that criticism on the Today programme, saying: "Certainly from a soldier's perspective there can't be any more serious decision taken by a prime minister than declaring war.

"And then to go to war on what turns out to be false grounds is something that no one should be allowed to walk away from."

The general described Mr Blair's actions in the run-up to war as "somewhere in between" getting the politics wrong and actually acting illegally.

"The politics was wrong, that he rarely declared what his ultimate aims were, as far as we can see, in terms of harping continually on weapons of mass destruction when actually he probably had some other strategy in mind," he said.

"And secondly, the consequences of that war have been quite disastrous both for the people of Iraq and also for the west in terms of our wider interests in the war against global terror."

Gen Rose is one of a number of retired soldiers taking part in a documentary by the former war correspondent Bell, entitled Iraq: The Failure Of War.

Full story...

Friday, 6 January 2006

Blair Criminalizes His Critics

by John Pilger

On Christmas Eve, I dropped in on Brian Haw, whose hunched, pacing figure was just visible through the freezing fog. For four and a half years, Brian has camped in Parliament Square with a graphic display of photographs that show the terror and suffering imposed on Iraqi children by British policies. The effectiveness of his action was demonstrated last April when the Blair government banned any expression of opposition within a kilometer of Parliament. The High Court subsequently ruled that, because his presence preceded the ban, Brian was an exception.

Day after day, night after night, season upon season, he remains a beacon, illuminating the great crime of Iraq and the cowardice of the House of Commons. As we talked, two women brought him a Christmas meal and mulled wine. They thanked him, shook his hand, and hurried on. He had never seen them before. "That's typical of the public," he said. A man in a pinstriped suit and tie emerged from the fog, carrying a small wreath. ""I intend to place this at the Cenotaph and read out the names of the dead in Iraq," he said to Brian, who cautioned him: "You'll spend the night in cells, mate." We watched him stride off and lay his wreath. His head bowed, he appeared to be whispering. Thirty years ago, I watched dissidents do something similar outside the walls of the Kremlin.

As night had covered him, he was lucky. On Dec. 7, Maya Evans, a vegan chef aged 25, was convicted of breaching the new Serious Organized Crime and Police Act by reading aloud at the Cenotaph the names of 97 British soldiers killed in Iraq. So serious was her crime that it required 14 policemen in two vans to arrest her. She was fined and given a criminal record for the rest of her life.

Freedom is dying.

Eighty-year-old John Catt served with the RAF in the Second World War. Last September, he was stopped by police in Brighton for wearing an "offensive" T-shirt, which suggested that Bush and Blair be tried for war crimes. He was arrested under the Terrorism Act and handcuffed, with his arms held behind his back. The official record of the arrest says the "purpose" of searching him was "terrorism" and the "grounds for intervention" were "carrying placard and T-shirt with anti-Blair info" (sic).

He is awaiting trial.

Such cases compare with others that remain secret and beyond any form of justice: those of the foreign nationals held at Belmarsh prison, who have never been charged, let alone put on trial. They are held "on suspicion." Some of the "evidence" against them, whatever it is, the Blair government has now admitted, could have been extracted under torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. They are political prisoners in all but name. They face the prospect of being spirited out of the country into the arms of a regime that may torture them to death. Their isolated families, including children, are quietly going mad.

And for what? From Sept. 11, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2005, a total of 895 people were arrested in Britain under the Terrorism Act. Only 23 have been convicted of offenses covered by the Act. As for real terrorists, the identity of two of the July 7 bombers, including the suspected mastermind, was known to MI5, and nothing was done. And Blair wants to give them more power. Having helped to devastate Iraq, he is now killing freedom in his own country.

Consider parallel events in the United States. Last October, an American surgeon, loved by his patients, was punished with 22 years in prison for founding a charity, Help the Needy, which helped children in Iraq stricken by an economic and humanitarian blockade imposed by America and Britain. In raising money for infants dying from diarrhea, Dr. Rafil Dhafir broke a siege that, according to UNICEF, had caused the deaths of half a million under the age of five. The then attorney general of the United States, John Ashcroft, called Dr. Dhafir, a Muslim, a "terrorist," a description mocked by even the judge in his politically motivated travesty of a trial.

The Dhafir case is not extraordinary. In the same month, three U.S. Circuit Court judges ruled in favor of the Bush regime's "right" to imprison an American citizen "indefinitely" without charging him with a crime. This was the case of Joseph Padilla, a petty criminal who allegedly visited Pakistan before he was arrested at Chicago airport three and a half years ago. He was never charged, and no evidence has ever been presented against him. Now mired in legal complexity, the case puts George W. Bush above the law and outlaws the Bill of Rights. Indeed, on Nov. 14, the U.S. Senate effectively voted to ban habeas corpus by passing an amendment that overturned a Supreme Court ruling allowing Guantanamo prisoners access to a federal court. Thus, the touchstone of America's most celebrated freedom was scrapped. Without habeas corpus, a government can simply lock away its opponents and implement a dictatorship.

A related, insidious tyranny is being imposed across the world. For all his troubles in Iraq, Bush has carried out the recommendations of a messianic conspiracy theory called the Project for a New American Century. Written by his ideological sponsors shortly before he came to power, it foresaw his administration as a military dictatorship behind a democratic façade: "the cavalry on a new American frontier" guided by a blend of paranoia and megalomania. More than 700 American bases are now placed strategically in compliant countries, notably at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels and encircling the Middle East and Central Asia. "Preemptive" aggression is policy, including the use of nuclear weapons. The chemical warfare industry has been reinvigorated. Missile treaties have been torn up. Space has been militarized. The powers of the president have never been greater. The judicial system has been subverted, along with civil liberties. The former senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who once prepared the White House daily briefing, told me that the authors of the PNAC and those now occupying positions of executive power used to be known in Washington as "the crazies." He said, "We should now be very worried about fascism."

In his epic acceptance of the Nobel Prize in Literature on Dec. 7, Harold Pinter spoke of "a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed." He asked why "the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought" of Stalinist Russia was well known in the West while American state crimes were merely "superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged."

A silence has reigned. Across the world, the extinction and suffering of countless human beings can be attributed to rampant American power, "but you wouldn't know it," said Pinter. "It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."

To its credit, the Guardian in London published every word of Pinter's warning. To its shame, though unsurprising, the state television broadcaster ignored it. All that Newsnight flatulence about the arts, all that recycled preening for the cameras at Booker prize-giving events, yet the BBC could not make room for Britain's greatest living dramatist, so honored, to tell the truth.

For the BBC, it simply never happened, just as the killing of half a million children by America's medieval siege of Iraq during the 1990s never happened, just as the Dhafir and Padilla trials and the Senate vote, banning freedom, never happened. The political prisoners of Belmarsh barely exist; and a big, brave posse of Metropolitan police never swept away Maya Evans as she publicly grieved for British soldiers killed in the cause of nothing, except rotten power.

Bereft of irony, but with a snigger, the BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce introduced, as news, a Christmas propaganda film about Bush's dogs. That happened. Now imagine Bruce reading the following: "Here is delayed news, just in. From 1945 to 2005, the United States attempted to overthrow 50 governments, many of them democracies, and to crush 30 popular movements fighting tyrannical regimes. In the process, 25 countries were bombed, causing the loss of several million lives and the despair of millions more." (Thanks to William Blum's Rogue State, Common Courage Press, 2005).

The icon of horror of Saddam Hussein's rule is a 1988 film of petrified bodies in the Kurdish town of Halabja, killed in a chemical weapons attack. The attack has been referred to a great deal by Bush and Blair and the film shown a great deal by the BBC. At the time, as I know from personal experience, the Foreign Office tried to cover up the crime at Halabja. The Americans tried to blame it on Iran. Today, in an age of images, there are no images of the chemical weapons attack on Fallujah in November 2004. This allowed the Americans to deny it until they were caught out recently by investigators using the Internet. For the BBC, American atrocities simply do not happen.

In 1999, while filming in Washington and Iraq, I learned the true scale of bombing in what the Americans and British then called Iraq's "no-fly zones." During the 18 months to Jan. 14, 1999, U.S. aircraft flew 24,000 combat missions over Iraq; almost every mission was bombing or strafing. "We're down to the last outhouse," a U.S. official protested. "There are still some things left [to bomb], but not many." That was six years ago. In recent months, the air assault on Iraq has multiplied; the effect on the ground cannot be imagined. For the BBC, it has not happened.

The black farce extends to those pseudo-humanitarians in the media and elsewhere, who themselves have never seen the effects of cluster bombs and air-burst shells, yet continue to invoke the crimes of Saddam to justify the the nightmare in Iraq and to protect a quisling prime minister who has sold out his country and made the world more dangerous. Curiously, some of them insist on describing themselves as "liberals" and "left of center," even "anti-fascists." They want some respectability, I suppose. This is understandable, given that the league table of carnage of Saddam Hussein was overtaken long ago by that of their hero in Downing Street, who will next support an attack on Iran.

This cannot change until we, in the West, look in the mirror and confront the true aims and narcissism of the power applied in our name: its extremes and terrorism. The traditional double standard no longer works; there are now millions like Brian Haw, Maya Evans, John Catt, and the man in the pinstriped suit, with his wreath. Looking in the mirror means understanding that a violent and undemocratic order is being imposed by those whose actions are little different from the actions of fascists. The difference used to be distance. Now they are bringing it home.

Full story...

Thursday, 5 January 2006

A History of America's National Reconnaissance Office

Part II

by Trowbridge H. Ford

While America's National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) was busily occupied in designing and building rockets, spacecrafts, and the like for the National Aeronics and Space Administration's effort to beat the Soviets in putting a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s - President Kennedy's lasting legacy - it was also continuing its own intelligence work, what was increasingly signal intelligence (SIGINT) from satellites. By the time JFK was assassinated, Washington had successfully completed the Mercury Project, the program to have man successfully circumnavigate the globe, and recover not only the astronauts but also the space crafts - what required a half dozen missions to effect.

It had all started when the newly created NRO launched the 84-pound Discoverer XIV space satellite on August 18, 1960 from Vandenberg AFB in California - what was able to collect as much coverage as four year's of U-2 flights - whose twenty-four pound rolls of film did, indeed, determine that the Soviets only had four operational ICBMs, ending for all reasonable purposes CIA's paranoia about the "missile gap". While officials at the NRO claim that the agency itself was created to perform this task, it was formed to prevent the collection of intelligence, especially that relating to the Soviets, from again being compromised and corrupted by the Agency's HUMINT - what had happened with the 'downing' of Gary Powers' U-2 over the USSR on May Day 1960.

Now the task for the NRO was to help land a man on the moon, and safely bring him back to earth (Apollo Project) - what NRO director Brockway McMillan was almost completely involved in. Of course, the agency's very existence was still Washington's most closely guarded secret, so McMillan's role was completely attributed to his being an Air Force undersecretary at the Pentagon. It was in this capacity that the most cultured administrator functioned on its Planning Board - what determined which missions with NASA would occur, and whether they would have a military or civilian purpose - while leaving the NRO's day-to-day functioning to gung-ho Brigadier General Jack Ledford, the director of special operations at Air Force Headquarters in Washington.

Ledford's normal duties required things like collecting the take from Corona satellites, and seeing to the testing of more conventional intelligence aircraft, especially the A-12s and later the SR-71 (codenamed Oxcart). These planes were intended to fly at yet greater altitudes and speeds - up to Mach 3 - to find early warning radars deep within the Soviet Union, and to avoid its ever increasing air defenses. It was while pilot Ken Collins was testing one variation of the A-12 over Area 51 in Nevada on May 24, 1963 that it went into a fatal spin, and crashed. Though Collins managed to parachute to safety, the NRO and the Pentagon were so panicked that the public would find big bits of the plane, and determine a lot of what the agency was up to that director McMillan suggested that it be immediately found, and blown up to prevent discovery.

Actually, the remains of the plane were strewn all over Robin Hood's barn, so there was no need of panic. Instead teams of searchers methodically retrieved every bit of the plane they could find, but the experience figured large when Ledford had to figure out what to do with Captain Glenn Hyde's deadly revealing U-2 aircraft after the assassination of JFK turned sour when Texas Governor was also nearly murdered.

While CIA's Porter Goss was keeping a muzzle on the press from Key West's Public Information Office, Ledford apparently ordered the destruction of the downed plane, lying on the bottom of the Florida Straits, after the hoax at the expense of Castro and Khrushchev had proven the last thing the plotters wanted. The destruction of the damning evidence - what ended up with there only being "minor debris" left from the flight - seemed just what the most delicate crisis called for. This way there would never be any damaging evidence to be recovered by anyone in future.

Still, Ledford's problems with the Dallas foul-up were nowhere near finished. Thanks to his connections inside the Pentagon, all the other services had been brought into the plot, and their role had to be defused as quickly and as well as possible - especially Lee Harvey Oswald's apparent role as somebody's spy, and how the various military services were going to take advantage of the President's assassination by attacking Cuba, and forcing a general confrontation with Moscow.

As Major Al Haig, military assistant to Secretary of the Army Cyrus Vance, partially described in Inner Circles, Defense Intelligence Agency claims that Oswald might well have been working for Cuba had to be destroyed (pp. 115-6), and Operation Americas, the Latin American armada to oust Castro, had to be changed into defensive maneuvers off Colombia's north coast. CIA chief of counterintelligence James Angleton had to hush up claims from Mexico City that the KGB had recruited Oswald as an assassin when he visited there in September, and close down E. Howard Hunt's Second Naval Guerrilla Operation's plans to attack Cuba from Honduras. Ledford had to erase Oswald's connections to its operations, and the military's plans domestically to take advantage of what he had apparently done in Dallas.

The mere mention that Oswald had defected to the USSR in 1959, and that communist literature was found among his belongings after he was arrested foreclosed any real possibility of his being considered an American agent, and military intelligence kept mum about the cable sent by the Fourth Army Command in Texas on the evening after the assassination to the U.S. Strike Command, a joint army and air force attack unit, at McDill AFB in Florida that Oswald had defected to Cuba, and that he was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party - what was intended to trigger action. Ledford, it seems, was the one who stopped the intended reaction.

Similarly, Oswald's service in the Marines was made out to be decidedly below par, concentrating on his alleged performance with a rifle, instead of his being rather special. After basic training, Oswald attended school to become a radar operator and an air traffic-controller. He scored so well as an Aviation Electronics Operator - seventh out of a class of 30 - that he was assigned to Marine Air Control Squadron One at Atsugi AFB outside Tokyo, the home base of the U-2 flights over the Soviet Union, and the illegal storage depot of America's atomic weapons in the country. Oswald, according to Anthony Summers in The Kennedy Conspiracy, knew everything about what was going on there (p. 114ff.) - what, it seems, led air force intelligence to recruit and train him as a deep penetration agent of the USSR.

At this point, Oswald's military record becomes most murky, and the hand of someone in the Pentagon seems to be the cause. Oswald was apparently giving cause for being dismissed from the service so that he could defect more effectively to Moscow - what was dressed up after the assassination to make it look as if he were just a growing undesirable. He was court-martialed twice but the convictions did nothing to slow his advancement. There were unsubstantiated claims about him deliberately wounding himself, and contracting a serious venereal disease. Then the Pentagon was most unclear about his security status, what he was being paid, and where he was serving. "In the controversy over the alleged assassin's true colors," Summers concluded, "this period is pivotal."

Matters became even worse when James Banford got round to recounting the Dallas assassination and the Warren Commission in Body of Secrets: How America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World (p. 130ff.) "That Friday was slow in the NSA Sigint Command Center," Bamford wrote. There is no mention of the downing of Hyde's U-2 flight, and the disappearance of the pilot - what had taken the super powers to the brink of nuclear war when Maj. Rudolf Anderson Jr.'s U-2 was shot down over Cuba during the midst of the Missile Crisis. Even when NSA did a massive review of all its SIGINT intercepts, there was still nothing about Hyde's whereabouts and recovering the plane, even if it was the result of an accident, but plenty about Oswald and his associates. (p. 132ff.)

More important, Ledford arranged, it seems, for Captain Hyde to have apparently died a hero while providing him with a new identity as one - what covered up the whole mess since he was no longer available to answer troubling questions. In May 1964, Hyde's wife, holding infant son Joe Glenn III, was awarded his Distinguished Flying Cross for displaying "heroism while participating in aerial flights on Jan. 19", the citation read, and what seems to have been on January 19, 1963 since he was supposedly dead a year later when NSA McGeorge Bundy tasked the NRO to make sure that the Soviets were honoring the terms of the Missile Crisis settement despite the bad-mouthing they were receiving about LBJ regarding KGB involvement in the assassination from former Kennedy confidant Charles Bartlett. (For details, see Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, "One Hell of a Gamble", p. 348ff.)

Yet, he apparently took part in the aerial surveillance on January 19, 1964 when he was officially dead as there were no least bit threatening flights on the previous January 19th, ones during which he "obtained information of vital importance to the security of the United States." (Quoted from The LaGrange Daily News, May 4, 1964, p. 1.) In January 1963, Soviet-American relations were the best in years, Khrushchev having just sent Castro a conciliatory letter to patch up the long-term relationship with the island after the crisis, hardly what would merit the DFC for observing high in the sky. The point was reiterated when there was no mention of any such flight when Hyde received a Fifth Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal for "meritorious achievement participating in aerial flight as an aircraft commander between July 9 and Aug. 29, 1963, on Oct. 18, 1963, and on Nov. 5, 1963." (Quoted from ibid.)

For good measure about Hyde's well-being, there was no mention of any Purple Heart - what any member of the Armed Forces automatically receives for being killed or wounded in any action against an enemy of the United States or by an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which American forces are or have been engaged.

While Ledford was helping extract the NRO from an imbroglio with Cuba which might well have resulted in a large-scale war with the Soviets because of the cock-up surrounding the JFK assassination, the agency shifted the action to the Far East where the Johnson administration was reassessing its objectives because of the rapidly deteriorating situation there, and fully committed to giving its communists a most bloody nose because of its frustrations over Castro.

In February 1964, Washington started Operation Plan 34A, a program of covert operations against North Vietnam. "Through 1964," Neil Sheehan wrote in the paperback edition of The Pentagon Papers - a most belated article entitled "The Covert War" - "the 34 A operations ranged from flights over North Vietnam by U-2 spy planes and kidnappings of North Vietnamese citizens for intelligence information, to parachutting sabotage and psychological-warfare teams into the North, commando raids from the sea to blow up rail and highway bridges and the bombardment of North Vietnamese coastal installations by PT boats." (p. 238)

The NRO's reconnaissance flights, code-named Yankee Team, gathered photographic intelligence which led to a fleet of T-28 fighter bombers, carrying Laotian Air Force markings, and piloted by Air America and Laotian pilots, which attacked regularly Pathet Lao troops in Laos, and North Vietnamese targets. "An average of four flights per week have covered the bulk of Oplan 34-A targets," State Department Assistant Secretary of State Marshall Green reported on November 7, 1964.

The program was the brain-child of the Pentagon's Lt. Colonels Al Haig, and Dewitt Smith - what Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson had ordered after a distressing trip to South Vietnam right after the JFK assassination. "Make a list is what we did, starting out, as was the style of the Pentagon in those days, with the actions least likely to rock the boat," Haig explained most disingenuously in Inner Circles. "They were mostly recommendations to shore up the existing effort in the South." (p. 137) After a year of such "routine" recommendations, though, the clueless President Johnson could not no longer stomach them, exclaiming heatedly to the General Johnson: "Bomb, bomb, bomb. That's all you know." (Quoted from George C. Herring, LBJ and Vietnam, p.11.)

On March 17th, National Security Action Memorandum 288 was adopted, calling for US forces to be ready to initiate a full range of Laotian and Cambodian "Border Control actions", and "Retaliatory Actions" against North Vietman on 72 hours' notice, "and to be in a position on 30 days' notice to initiate the program of 'Graduated Overt Military Pressure' against North Vietnam...." (Quoted from Robert J. McMahon, ed., Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, p. 208.)

To trigger such a response against the North, the destroyer USS Maddox, filled with electronic spying equipment, intruded into North Vietnamese waters at the end of July, hoping to provoke a military response by the edgy North Vietnamese. In February, the USS Craig had carried out the first of these DeSoto missions, but it had come up empty handed because Hanoi did not want to provide the Americans with a pretext for expanding the war at its expense. This Desoto mission was combined with South Vietnamese commando raids on the North Vietnamese islands of Hon Me and Ngu in order to increase the possibilities of a serious incident - what would provoke a retaliatory action against the North.

Despite the fact that the vessels appeared to be working together, and the Maddox was clearly trying to provoke trouble, the North Vietnamese still were most cautious in their reponse until the American ship came within easy range of Hon Me which was still clearing up the damage done by the South Vietnamese commandos. By the time the Sigint operators on the destroyer determined from North Vietnamese naval messages that its ships were finally preparing to attack, the destroyer was safely out of range, its three torpedo boats allegedly firing one torpedo each at the disappearing target.

Instead of forgetting about the missions, though, as SOD Robert McNamara considered them useless, a beefed-up mission took place on August 3rd, with the USS Turner Joy joining the Maddox, and the South Vietnamese using a four-boat raiding party which shelled a radar station and a security post on the North Vietnamese mainland. In the ensuing melee the next morning, the American vessels "...issued more than twenty reports of automatic weapons fire, torpedo attacks, and other hostile action. But in the end, no damage was sustained, and serious questions arose as to whether any such attack actually took place." (Quoted from Banford, p. 299.)

While the reports created a controversy down to the present day about what really happened, they were just another hoax to justify aggressive action - what the 'downing' of Hyde's U-2 had been intended for. As Banford indicated but did not adequately explain, an NSA analyst was relying upon intercepts they had already received from the NRO about the earlier imminent attack, the first one, upon the destroyer - one message from North Vietnamese naval headquarters in Haiphong giving a patrol boat its position, and another for patrol boats and if possible a torpedo boat to prepare for military operations - which were passed on to the captain of the Maddox.

Little wonder that when McNamara was questioned about the legitimacy of taking the fight to the North, he reponded that there was 'unequivocal proof': "...the highly secret NSA intercept reports sent to the Maddox on August 4 as a warning." (Quoted from ibid.) While Ledford's people had apparently resent them to bolster the cause, the recycled intercepts worked for the Pentagon, the White House, and Congress - resulting in passage of the Tonkin Gulf resolution, giving LBJ complete power to conduct the war - and NRO's operational chief was duly rewarded for his services, receiving the Distinguished Service Medal when he took his leave from office early the next year.

While the expanded war in Vietnam greatly increased tactical operations by the NRO's fixed-wing components, it soon created devastating leaks by NSA's Robert Lipka, an army clerk assigned to shredding its highly secret intercepts at Fort Meade. As with B. F. Mitchell in the Gary Powers affair, the youthful Lipka became totally cynical because of what he saw, deciding that since his colleagues manipulated evidence for their own, selfish purposes, he could do likewise. In September 1965, he walked into the Soviet Embassy in Washington, and volunteered his services to the KGB resident. During the next two years, Lipka provided the residency through 50 contacts with so much material about America's conduct of the war - for which he received $27,000 - that the KGB was obliged to assign Oleg Kalugin the job of reducing it to manageable proportions.

And Washington did not learn of Lipka's betrayals until after the Cold War was over. When his term of service ended in 1967, he simply returned to civilian life, apparently only contacting the Soviets, on occasion, in the hope of obtaining from them more money because of the intelligence he had provided. And while assessing the American failure in Vietnam has resulted in almost endless volumes, almost nothing in them is about communist spying, particulary Lipka's, though it, along with a lack of concern about security, seems most important in helping explain the defeat - as Lt. Gen. Charles R. Myer, a SIGINT officer who twice served in Vietnam, explained: "The enemy might disappear from a location just before a planned U. S. attack. B-52 bomber strikes did not produce expected results because the enemy apparently anticipated them." (Quoted from ibid., p. 304.)

In fact, Banford never mentioned Lipka's spying, though he went to great lengths to describe the consequences of the spying by another walk-in in October 1967 - that of John Walker aka James Harper whose disclosures were so helpful in capturing the USS Pueblo off North Korea shortly thereafter. When Banford got the chance to talk to the KGB chief of station in Washington at the time, Boris A. Solomatin, he asked him if Walker was responsible for the failure of Operation Rolling Thunder. "Walker is not responsible for your failures in bombing in North Vietnam," the former KGB Major General replied. (p. 307) The information handed over by Walker, according to Solomatin, was never supplied to the North Vietnamese or any other Soviet allies - a claim that his former subordinate Kalugin understandably denied but failed to explain in a direct way - and Banford was willing to let it go at that!

The fact that the Soviets neither pressured Lipka to stay on at NSA nor offered considerable sums to make the prospect more attractive indicates that Moscow had learned enough from his two years of spying to require no more, as Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin indicated in a amazing footnote in The Sword and the Shield: "A later analysis by the Centre singled out 200 documents from NSA, the CIA, State Department and other federal agencies as of particular value. Mitrokhin's notes, alas, give no details of their contents." (n. 12, p. 611) To help cover up the inexplicable failure, Andrew still volunteered falsely that Mitrokhin had identified Lipka " a KGB agent." (p. 18)

The documents obviously gave Moscow all it needed to know about American's conduct of the war in Vietnam, its modus operandi - what other agents, particularly Viet Cong ones, could use and expand upon in combating the Americans - and the absence of notes by Mitrokhin speaks volumes about the inadequacy of his archive. Viet Cong SIGINT prevented very few surprises from the air because of advance warning, and on the ground because of poor security of communications by American forces. If Lipka's take - apparently the most successful of the American spies, despite the hoopla about agents like Ames and Hanssen, did not merit special analysis - whose did?

And the fact was underlined when Andrew claimed that American prosecutors were holding Mitrokhin in reserve when Lipka was finally tried in Philadelphia in May 1997 for the spying he had committed 30 years earlier. While it was quite clear that the FBI started a surveillance of him by an agent feigning to be a KGB agent in May 1993 - months before the Bureau started acting on Mitrokhin's leads - after his former wife had charged that he had worked for the Soviets while at NSA, and had gotten the goods on him by paying a demanded $10,000 for previous services rendered to the KGB, US authorities tried to make out that Mitrokhin, "the mystery witness", had gotten Lipka to confess. It was all eyewash to make Mitrokhin feel better about having defected, and the public better about Lipka escaping death, as he was only sentenced to 18 years in prison with time off for good behavior.

It would have been a far different result if the NSA had come clean about what he had betrayed - what Kalugin would not recall the content of because of its sheer volume, and Mitrokhin, it seems, had amazingly not gone to the trouble of making notes of, making one wonder if he ever saw anything. Of course, for NSA to have done so would have shown the public just how crucial - even at this late date - his leaks had been to America's withdrawal, and Vietnam's fall to the communists. By the time Lipka left the Agency, the CIA had even concluded that carrying to war to the North (Operation Rolling Thunder) had been a decided failure, stiffening the enemy's resistance while only achieving limited results.

To make sure that the public did not get wind of why the war in Vietnam was escalated, and still going so badly, Washington revived in November 1967 the allegations about the Tonkin Gulf attacks being fakes to make sure that NRO's liberties during them did not resurface. With the national consensus about the war's wisdom breaking down, and Senator Fulbright looking into holding Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings about what had gone wrong, John White, a naval officer on the USS Pine Island, took great umbrage at The New Haven Register's editorial, claiming that the anti-war movement was just helping the enemy. White responded by stating that the "attacks" were fabricated. "I learned this by speaking with the chief sonarman of the Maddox," he wrote on the front page of June 1976 issue of The National Exchange, "who was in the sonar room during the 'attack'." White added that he was also the best source under the circumstances.

Once White had sent a copy of his letter to Fulbright, the former naval officer's claims started getting national coverage on tv, in newspapers around the globe, and in a documentary,
ultimately obliging him to give testimony about the affair for Fulbright's committee in Washington. White claimed that he had seen secret messages from the Maddox, first describing the attack, and then another one stating that it might have all been a mistake because of its malfunctioning sonar. Several months later, back at Long Beach, California, White testified that he met the chief sonarman responsible for the secret reports, and he claimed that no torpedoes had been fired during the second incident. White's testimony helped persuade Fulbright to hold hearings on the matter in January 1968.

The hearings turned out to be a fiasco because White could not remember enough details of the messages, and the name of the chief sonarman and his whereabouts. This was when support for the war was breaking down - Martin Luther King was marching on Washington to protest a war which Robert Kennedy stated was unwinable - and the hearings could have speeded its end. Hawkish SOD McNamara had now turned into a dove, and had resigned because the Joint Chiefs would not agree to a bombing halt, and to fight the war with just the troops there then.

Instead of White identifying the chief sonarman, and his coming forward to testify, the field was left open to sonar personnel who had been on the Maddox, and they completely destroyed White's basic claim. And he later made no attempt to find the chief petty officer after staff on the Fulbright committee informed him that it had been informed that he did exist, and that he had told another seaman the same story. Of course, it would it would have been a far different matter if White, who claimed to have seen all the SIGINT, had stated that the NRO had deliberately recycled the intercepts before the first confrontation in order to provoke the second, crucial one.

By this time Dr. Alexander Flax was well entrenched as NRO's director, having taken over from Dr. McMillan in October 1965 when the Gemini Project for preparing men and space vehifcles for landing and returning from the moon (Apollo Project), and LBJ's ground war in Vietnam were well underway. Flax was an excellent administrator who needed no operational commander like General Ledford - able to keep the Apollo mission on course with NASA, while still developing reconnaissance vehicles, especially satellites, for the NRO, and seeing that its capability was used most effectively in the field. This was no small feat, given the fact that LBJ's prominent hawks, especially SOD McNamara and NSA McGeorge Bundy, were beginning to seek a negotiated settlement in Vietnam, and the American public was starting to speak out against the war.

While historians have generally tried to veil the cause of these unexpected results by stressing underestimations of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese strength throughout, the Johnson administration knew that something was terribly wrong - i. e., the enemy simply knew too much about what was going on - and assigned the Bureau, then the CIA, and NSA to intensify efforts to discover possible spying. The Bureau initiated Operation COINTELPRO - a program to discredit communists and radicals opposed to the war, and what I became a target of after I wrote President Johnson, criticising its expansion after he had run in the 1964 election as the peace candidate. CIA followed suit in July 1968 with MH/CHAOS, keeping tabs on the actions by America's political activists. (See the article in the Archive about my confessions as a college teacher for more.) And NSA expanded its Operation SHAMROCK - getting all the transmitters of diplomatic telegrams to hand them over to American authorities.

The NRO's assignments in these matters was to intensify efforts to win the war in Vietnam before its support at home collapsed - no small duties given the scope of potential opposition, especially among the scientific community and the social elite. The crisis occurred in the spring of 1967 when LBJ was faced with the dilemma of whether to go all out to win the war, as the Joint Chiefs recommended, or a order a bombing halt and consider rolling back search and destroy missions, as McNamara urged. The fat was in the fire when Johnson seriously entertained, thanks to support from leading scientists, that an elaborate electronic barrier be constructed across the Demilitarized Zone in lieu of the bombing.

To counter the threat, Flax arranged with the CIA's new Director Richard Helms Operation Phoenix, the program, started under William Colby in June 1967, to eliminate the Viet Cong's infrastructure - its alleged organization of spies and political commissars - using all kinds of special forces, and NRO intelligence. During the next five years, it killed around 35-40,000 suspected Vietnamese terrorists with secret ambushes, daring assauts, and surprise assassinations - the forerunner of todays "war on terrorism". The purpose of the operation was to terrorize the Vietnamese into submission.

Then the United States Intelligence Board tasked NSA to check on all individuals dealing with Castro, alleging that they could be engaged in drug-trafficking, plotting the President's assassination, and aiding and abetting the communist enemy. The White House apparently believed that Hanoi was somehow funding opposition to the war through Havana, and it wanted all the information that could be gleaned, especially by satellites, about people like former CIA agent Stanley Sheinbaum, former Green Beret veteran Donald Duncan, the backers, organizers and writers of Ramparts magazine, Congressmen George Brown, Phillip Burton, Don Edwards, John Dow, Benjamin Rosenthal, John Conyers and others, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Jane Fonda, etc. NRO's role in all this was most troubling as it indicated that apparent law-biding citizens were engaged in treason and espionage.

NSA, NRO and the country would pay a high price for these illegal liberties.

While the content of what cameras and eavesdropping devices, as microwave communications became more common, gleaned during satellite flights over the USSR and other strategically important locations are almost impossible to determine, we do know that it was the most highly prized information that the United States possessed, and what it went to the greatest lengths to protect. And this was no small achievement, given the fact that the NRO is by far the largest funded intelligence agency in America, but thanks to the fact that its operations are almost all Special Access Programs (SAPs) where any oversight is at a premium, no one on the outside really knows for sure what it is doing.