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Philip Giraldi

Saudi Arabia and Israel Know They Cannot Defeat Iran, Want to Drag the US into an Uncontainable War

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There is considerable confusion about what is occurring in the Middle East, to include much discussion of whether Israel and Saudi Arabia have formally agreed to combine forces to increase both military and economic pressure on Iran, which both of them see as their principal rival in the region. During the past week, a classified message sent by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to all its diplomatic missions worldwide that appears to confirm that possibility was obtained and leaked by senior reporter Barak Ravid of Israel’s highly respected Channel 10 News.

The cable instructs Israeli diplomats to take coordinated steps designed to discredit the activities of the Iranian government. It states, in edited-for-brevity translation, that overseas missions should contact their host countries to emphasize that the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri over Iranian attempts to take over his country “illustrate once again the destructive nature of Iran and Hezbollah and their danger to the stability of Lebanon and the countries of the region;” that the argument that having Hezbollah in the Lebanese government provides stability is false and only serves to “promote the interests of a foreign power – Iran;” and that the launch of a ballistic missile from Yemen against Saudi Arabia confirms the need for “increased pressure on Iran and Hezbollah on a range of issues from the production of ballistic missiles to regional subversion."

The Foreign Ministry message has been interpreted as “proof” that Israel and Saudi Arabia are coordinating to provoke a war against Iran as Israel is taking positions in support of Saudi claims, to include those relating to the confused conflict taking place in Yemen. My own take is, however, somewhat different. Having seen literally hundreds of similar U.S. State Department messages, I would regard the Israeli cable as consisting of specific “talking points” for use with foreign governments. Though it is clear that Tel Aviv and Riyadh have been secretly communicating over the past two years regarding their perception of the Iranian threat, it would be an exaggeration to claim that they have a coordinated position or some kind of alliance since they differ on so many other issues. They do, however, have common interests that are in this case aligned regarding the Iranians since both Israel and Saudi Arabia aspire to dominance in their region and only Iran stands in their way.
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America’s ‘Allies’ Are Setting Up Another Trap for US in the Middle East

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Whatever their plans, the stakeholders in the Middle East must remember that clever plans to remake the Middle East have hitherto been remarkable for their inability to anticipate countermoves by opposing forces.

Tension is increasing all across the Middle East and the United States is again falling into a trap set up by its so-called allies to act against its own interests by getting deeply involved in what might turn out to be an escalating conflict. The recent victories by the Syrian Army and its Russian allies, which suggest that the active phase of the Syrian civil war will soon be drawing to a close, means that the perennial unrest in the region will be shifting gears and possibly leading to new conflict in areas that have until now been quiet. The lack of any real American policy for the region will enable the Saudis and Israelis, who have hegemonistic dreams of their own, to manipulate a casus belli, quite likely starting in Lebanon, where Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri recently resigned his office and fled to Saudi Arabia, claiming that he was fearing for his life due to his resistance to Iran’s influence over his country.

Hariri headed a coalition pulled together in 2016 that included nearly all of Lebanon’s main parties, including Hezbollah. It took office in a political deal that made Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian who has an understanding with Hezbollah, president. The inclusion of Hezbollah and the presence of a friendly Aoun was seen as a victory for Iran.

The Hariri resignation was certainly carried out in collusion with Riyadh, to include the damning of Iranian influence as his reason for leaving. It suggests that the Saudis and Israelis, who have been hyperbolically claiming that Tehran is about to take control of much of the Middle East, are feeling confident enough to move towards some kind of showdown with the Mullahs. As a first step, expected deteriorating sectarian interaction between Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims in Lebanon will eliminate any possibility of a bipartisan and functioning government, providing a pretext for foreign intervention to stabilize the situation.
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The Rise of MEK/NCRI in Washington: Pay Off The Right People and You Are No Longer A Terrorist

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If you want to change a group of terrorists who have killed American overseas into something that appears to be much more benign, all you have to do is pay off the right people in Washington. With enough money, you can even open a nice plush lobbying office on Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia, not too far from the White House and Capitol Hill.

One-time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been rightly blamed for the ill-conceived and badly bungled “regime change” in Libya in 2011 that eventually led to her mishandling of the resulting blowback in Benghazi, but one of her greatest failings just might have involved the piece of paper she signed when she removed the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK) group from the State Department list of “designated terrorist organizations” in September 2012.

How is it possible that the bad judgment demonstrated in the Libyan fiasco that created a failed state, a humanitarian disaster, a migrant crisis, armed terrorists, and ultimately produced the murder of the US ambassador and three other Americans compare with a signature on a piece of paper? It is because that signature put in place one of the elements that will most likely in the near future lead to a far more disastrous war for the United States than was Libya. MEK, now labeled the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has become a principal voice of the war party that is now seeking to attack Iran, a role similar to that played by Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress in his disseminating of lies in the lead up to the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The tale of the rehabilitation and rise of MEK/NCRI is a subset of the ongoing corruption of America’s political culture, best illustrated by the fact that even national security is now up for sale, enabling a terrorist group to transform itself into a “resistance movement” and eventually be labeled “freedom fighters.”
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Mutual Assured Destruction: Missile Defense Might be a Lie

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Sometimes it is possible to read or view something that completely changes the way one looks at things. I had that experience last week when I read an article at Lobelog entitled “A Plea for Common Sense on Missile Defense,” written by Joe Cirincione, a former staffer on the House Armed Services Committee who now heads the Ploughshares Fund, which is a Washington DC based global foundation that seeks to stop the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The article debunks much of the narrative being put out by the White House and Pentagon regarding missile defense. To be sure, it is perfectly reasonable to mistrust anything that comes out of the federal government justifying war given its track record going back to the War of 1812. And the belligerent posture of the United States towards Iran and North Korea can well be condemned based on its own merits, threatening war where there are either no real interests at stake or where a diplomatic solution has for various reasons been eschewed.

But the real reason why the White House gets away with saber rattling is historical, that the continental United States has not experienced the consequences of war since Pancho Villa invaded in 1916. This is a reality that administration after administration has exploited to do what they want when dealing with foreign nations: whatever happens “over there” will stay “over there.”

Americans consequently do not know war except as something that happens elsewhere and to foreigners, requiring only that the U.S. step in on occasion and bail things out, or screw things up depending on one’s point of view. This is why hawks like John McCain, while receiving a “Liberty” award from Joe Biden, can, with a straight face, get away with denouncing those Americans who have become tired of playing at being the world’s policeman. He describes them as fearful of “the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, [abandoning] the ideals we have advanced around the globe, [refusing] the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism.”
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Sputnik and RT Under Investigation

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Somehow everything keeps coming back around to Russia. In one of its recent initiatives, the Justice Department (DOJ) appears to be attacking the First Amendment as part of the apparent bipartisan program to make Vladimir Putin the fall guy for everything that goes wrong in Washington. In the past month, the DOJ has revealed that the FBI is investigating Russian owned news outlets Sputnik News and RT International and has sent letters to the latter demanding that one of its business affiliates register as a foreign agent by October 17th. The apparent line of inquiry that the Bureau is pursuing is that both are agencies of the Russian government and that both have been spreading disinformation that is intended to discredit the United States government and its institutions. This alleged action would make them, in the DOJ view, a propaganda arm of a foreign government rather than a news service. It also makes them subject to Department of the Treasury oversight under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.

Sputnik, which is owned by a Russian government media group headed by Putinconsigliere Dimitri Kiselyov, has been under investigation due to the accusations made by a fired broadcaster named Andrew Feinberg. Feinberg, the former Sputnik White House correspondent, reportedly took with him a thumb drive containing some thousands of internal business files when he left his office. He has been interviewed by the FBI, has turned over his documents, and has claimed that much of the direction over what the network covered came from Moscow.

RT America, more television oriented than Sputnik, operates through two business entities: RTTV America and RTTV Studios. The Department of Justice has refused to identify which of the businesses has been targeted by a letter calling for registration under FARA, but it is believed to be RTTV America, which provides both operational support of the broadcasting as well as the production facilities. Both companies are actually owned by Russian-American businessman Alex Yazlovsky, though the funding for them presumably comes from the Russian government.
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More on Imran Awan - Where Are All Those Congressional Emails?

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I wrote 
an article on the strange case of Imran Awan about two months ago. To summarize it briefly, Awan, his two brothers and wife, naturalized U.S. citizens born in Pakistan living in the Washington DC area, found employment as IT administrators in the House of Representatives working for as many as 80 Democratic Party congressmen. Even though they may have had little actual training in IT, they insinuated themselves into the system and were paid in excess of $5 million over the course of ten years, chief-of-staff level pay, while frequently not even showing up for work. They even brought into the arrangement a frequent no-show Pakistani friend whose prior work history consisted of getting recently fired by McDonald’s.

Along the way, their security files were never reviewed. They were involved in bankruptcies, bank fraud and other criminal activity, but their troublesome behavior was never noticed. They were on bad terms with their father and step-mother, which including forging a document to cheat their step-mother of an insurance payment and even holding her “captive” so she could not see their dying father. Their father even changed his last name to dissociate himself from them.

Imran Awan, the leader of the group, worked particularly for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who was, at the time, also the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Though he had no clearance and was not supposed to work with classified material, he and his family obtained password access to congressional files and Imran himself was able to enter Wasserman-Schultz’s own personal iPad computer which linked to the server used by the Democratic National Committee.

As of February 2016, the Awans came under suspicion by the Capitol Hill Police for having set up an operation involving double billing as well as the possible theft and reselling of government owned computer equipment. It was also believed that they had somehow obtained entry to much of the House of Representatives’ computer network as well as to other information in the individual offices’ separate computer systems that they were in theory not allowed to access. It was also believed that Imran sent “massive” quantities of stolen government files to a remote personal server. It may have been located in his former residence in Lorton, Virginia. The police began an investigation and quietly alerted the congressmen involved that there might be a problem. Most stopped employing the Awan family members and associates, but Wasserman-Schultz kept Imran on the payroll until the day after he was actually arrested.
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The USS Liberty Wins One!

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On June 8th 1967 the United States Navy intelligence ship the U.S.S. Liberty was attacked in international waters by aircraft and vessels belonging to Israel. Thirty-four sailors, Marines and civilians were killed in the attack. The deliberate Israeli air and sea onslaught sought to sink the clearly identified intelligence gathering ship and kill all its crew. It was in truth the worst attack ever carried out on a U.S. Naval vessel in peace time. 

In addition to the death toll, 171 more of the crew were wounded in the two-hour assault, which was clearly intended to destroy the intelligence gathering vessel operating in international waters collecting information on the ongoing fighting between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The Israelis, whose planes had their Star of David markings covered up so Egypt could be blamed, attacked the ship repeatedly from the air and with torpedo boats from the sea. When one Israeli pilot hesitated, refusing to attack what was clearly an American ship, he was instructed to proceed anyway.

Most Americans are completely unaware that a United States naval vessel was once deliberately targeted and nearly sunk by America’s “greatest friend and ally” Israel. The attack was followed by a comprehensive cover-up that demonstrated clearly that at least one president of the United States even back nearly fifty years ago valued his relationship with the state of Israel above his loyalty to his own country.
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Iran, Again...Will Israel Start a New War?

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When politicians are feeling the heat, they start a war and their popularity goes up even if the war is unnecessary or completely ridiculous. Donald Trump, the presidential candidate who promised that he would not take the nation into another Middle Eastern war, did so when he launched a fifty-nine cruise missile barrage against a Syrian Air Base even before he knew for sure what had happened on the ground. It was totally stupid but proved to be popular, even among talking heads and Congressmen, some of whom described his action as “presidential” in the best sense of the word.

It’s the same in Israel. For those who have not been following developments there, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been under pressure due to an ongoing investigation for corruption. One of the truly great things about Israel is that while they have a lot of corrupt politicians, just like everywhere else, they actually investigate, indict, prosecute, convict and send them to jail.

The betting is that Netanyahu will soon be in prison, so he has been responding in the time-honored fashion by threatening his neighbors and hinting at the possibility of increased military action and even war. If there is a war going on, he believes, probably correctly, that no one will want to remove him.
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The Tale of the Brothers Awan

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There has been surprisingly little media follow-up on the story about the July 25th Dulles Airport arrest of House of Representatives’ employed Pakistani-American IT specialist Imran Awan, who was detained for bank fraud while he was allegedly fleeing to Pakistan. The mainstream media somewhat predictably produced minimal press coverage before the story died. The speed at which the news vanished has prompted some observers, including Breitbart, to sound the alarm over a suspected cover-up of possible exposure of classified information or even espionage that just might be part of the story that we are now calling Russiagate.

To be sure, the tale is a strange one with plenty of unsavory links. Thirty-seven year old Awan, his wife, sister-in-law and two brothers Abid and Jamal worked as IT administrators, full and part-time, for between 30 and 80 congressmen, all Democrats, including former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. They did not have security clearances and it is not even certain that they were in any way checked out before being hired. Nor were their claimed skills at IT administration confirmed as their work pattern reportedly turned out to consist more of absences than time spent in the House offices. One congressional IT staffer described them as “ghost employees.”

At one point, Imran brought into the House as a colleague one Rao Abbas, someone to whom he owed money, best distinguished by his being recently fired by McDonald’s. Abbas lived in the basement of a house owned by Imran’s wife as a rental property. He may have had no qualifications at all to perform IT but the congressmen in question did not seem to notice. Abbas wound up working, on the rare occasions that he went into the building, in the office of Congressman Patrick Murphy, who was at the time a member of the House Intelligence Committee as well as forFlorida Congressman Theo Deutch. He was paid $250,000.
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Groupthink at the CIA

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Long ago, when I was a spear carrying middle ranker at CIA, a colleague took me aside and said that he had something to tell me “as a friend,” that was very important. He told me that his wife had worked for years in the Agency’s Administrative Directorate, as it was then called, where she had noticed that some new officers coming out of the Career Trainee program had red tags on their personnel files. She eventually learned from her boss that the tags represented assessments that those officers had exceptional potential as senior managers. He added, however, that the reverse appeared to be true in practice as they were generally speaking serial failures as they ascended the bureaucratic ladder, even though their careers continued to be onward and upward on paper. My friend’s wife concluded, not unreasonably, that only genuine a-holes had what it took to get promoted to the most senior ranks.

I was admittedly skeptical but some recent activity by former and current Directors and Acting Directors of CIA has me wondering if something like my friend’s wife’s observation about senior management might indeed be true. But it would have to be something other than tagging files, as many of the directors and their deputies did not come up through the ranks and there seems to be a similar strain of lunacy at other US government intelligence agencies. It might be time to check the water supply in the Washington area as there is very definitely something in the kool-aid that is producing odd behavior.

Now I should pause for a moment and accept that the role of intelligence services is to identify potential threats before they become active, so a certain level of acute paranoia goes with the job. But at the same time, one would expect a level of professionalism which would mandate accuracy rather than emotion in assessments coupled with an eschewing of any involvement in the politics of foreign and national security policy formulation. The enthusiasm with which a number of senior CIA personnel have waded into the Trump swamp and have staked out positions that contradict genuine national interests suggests that little has been learned since CIA Director George Tenet sat behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in the UN and nodded sagaciously as Saddam Hussein’s high crimes and misdemeanors were falsely enumerated.
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