“In the late 1950s, US relations with Communist China were virtually nonexistent. Trade had been tightly controlled since China’s intervention in North Korea in 1950, and, to deny Beijing any advantage from commercial or financial transactions, the Secretary of the Treasury issued strict regulations prohibiting the import of goods that originated in or had passed through Communist China. There were rarely any exceptions, even for pandas. In 1958, one frustrated animal importer tried a different tactic. He took his case to the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), Allen Dulles……….”
Chi Chi was apparently a somewhat naughty Panda, just like that other Chi Chi. Yes, once there was a “Chi Chi the Go Go Dancer“, actually there were probably several of them. Including one in the wilder days of San Francisco, when Herb Caen and the Go Go people reigned.
But she/they didn’t come from China and no doubt wasn’t Allen (or John Foster) Dulles’ type. But given the alleged history of the current CinC of the country, anything is possible again, even in the era of Pompeo the Dour…..
(We can always think of something cute and warm and fuzzy that comes from North Korea or Iran. But what can that be?)
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Ahmed Chalabi died this week. His death has allowed the Western media to re-iterate, and almost certainly exaggerate again, his singular role in pushing the American-British, Bush-Blair, 2003 invasion of Iraq.
We are to believe that one man, an Iraqi exile with possible unsavory connections, fooled the huge American intelligence community (remember when CIA chief George Tenet said finding WMD in Iraq was a Slam Dunk). He also supposedly fooled the less-massive British intelligence machine: MI6 and James Bond and George Smiley and the rest of the possible characters.
Gone are Donald Rumsfeld’s snarky comments about Old and New Europe. Gone are Dick Cheney’s claim of fictional meetings between Saddam Hussein agents with Al-Qaeda operatives in Czecho-Slovakia. Gone are the silly allegations of “mushroom cloud” and “smoking gun”. Gone are the allegations of Yellow Cake from Niger and the outing of uncooperative CIA agents.
Gone are the huge no-bid contracts for well-connected U.S companies and Persian Gulf contractors. Gone is any talk about millionaire American private military and building contractors who made their fortunes in the Iraq war, on the backs of dead and crippled American boys and girls and Iraqi victims. Gone is the talk about a billion-dollar Baghdad embassy that was used as a cash cow for corrupt Americans and their Gulf partners.
Chalabi was one exaggerator, perhaps one liar among many in the early years of this century. Not all of them were Arabs. Chalabi’s death seems convenient for many in the West.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday
“The CIA paid torture teachers James Mitchell and Bruce Jesser more than $80 million. As they now live out their wildest dreams, their barbarity has cost the U.S. far more. Call them the houses that torture built: Two sprawling luxury homes purchased by the CIA-contracted psychologists at the center of the scathing Senate report. James Elmer Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen are not the first Americans to employ waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” against our enemies. But they are almost certainly the only ones to get rich doing it. They did so by employing what is widely dismissed as “voodoo science”…………..”
And I had almost come to think that we are among the last barbarians left. Some of us, a few actually, behead others, a few slit throats, some blow themselves up among others (mostly the victims are of us) and kill hundreds, some sentence dissidents to public flogging. All rather primitive methods of inflicting death and/or pain by both Jihadi terrorists and repressive regimes. But these are old tried and true methods dating back deep into history, to long before Rome, Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Islam. The cruel but unimaginative methods of execution and inflicting pain of the Muslim and Arab worlds.
Then we have the more imaginative, or more scientific methods of inflicting pain and causing death. That is the more civilized method. From the Nazis of Germany/Austria to the French in Algeria to Abu Ghraib and to the alleged CIA and the private contractor Gulag that spreads across the globe. From rectal (or anal) feeding to waterboarding to lengthy sleep deprivation to psychological torture to gas chambers to forced starvation, all the way back to the burning of people alive and to the fires and knives of the Inquisition. The more civilized methods of the non-Muslim West. I should not mention the odd questionable prison injections that cause convicts to die slowly and unusually painfully in some God-fearing states. But I just did.
Houses of glass are everywhere………..
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday ………..
“The CIA torture report lists ‘rectal feeding’ as a legitimate means of nourishing detainees. But the practice has no scientific backing, and is nothing but a torture method. There is enough contained in the newly-released Senate report on CIA torture practices to shock anyone’s conscience. News that CIA interrogators threatened violence against the children or parents of detainees, made them stand in stress positions on broken feet, and deprived them of sleep for up to a week at a time is appalling on its face. One needs no medical expertise to parse the horrors described. But what of “rectal feeding”? At first blush, this practice may have the appearance of legitimacy in cases where detainees refused to eat or drink. One man was put in a head-down position and Ensure was instilled into his rectum……………”
Does one hijacking deserves another? They say in the West that the Wahabbi Jihadis have hijacked Islam. So the solution is to have the torturers and their enablers hijack America and her traditions and values. To move her closer (and lower) to the level of the terrorists……….
How did it come down to this?
From the bright America of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and John Kennedy to this? To the recent American regimes of prevalent KGB-style domestic espionage and imaginative external torture? To the sorry lot of the past fourteen years of Bush, Cheney, and whoever calls the shots for Obama?
During the cold war, a favorite criticism of the Soviet Union was its all-powerful untouchable apparatus of internal espionage. The West allegedly won the Cold War, or did it? Can we say that after the disclosures of widespread spying on American citizens and their private correspondence and communications? The Allies won the war against the Nazis, but Western regimes are now using methods of torture for which they tried Nazis and others after the war. There is a difference in the extent of the torture. So it is a difference between “widespread torture” and “mass torture” as done by totalitarian regimes.
Could it be this new for-profit approach to national security of these past few years? The system that hires unaccountable “private contractors” and torturers and creates a chance of deniability? A deliberate alibi for officials at a cost of millions to the treasury paid to these private contractors? The modern legal equivalent of Mafia “hit men” pretending to be patriotic while inflicting unusual pain for a lot of money?
Would Messrs Bush, Cheney, their accommodating Counselors, and those in the Obama White House who condoned the practice accept to be “rectally fed”?
Can anyone imagine “rectal feeding” condoned under any American president that preceded Bush, Obama, and possibly one of the Clintons? Not even Reagan and Nixon, who were perceived as tough but had some honorable limits.
Normally you would consider the U.S. Senate as a sane place where grown-ups would impose some limits on such un-American behavior. But even that window will not be there anymore. It will be closed come January. The crazies look ready to control the asylum.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“Many a man would face his gun and many a man would fall………..
The man who shot Liberty Valance, he shot Liberty Valance, he was the bravest of them all………. ” The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
“Robert O’Neill is facing a backlash from ex-comrades angered by his disputed version of events at the al-Qa’ida chief’s Pakistan compound in March 2011 and his decision to go public. There are now three different versions circulating of who delivered the fatal shot that killed American’s public enemy number one during the raid, conducted by more than 20 commandos. Jonathan Gilliam, a former Seal, condemned the actions and motives of Mr O’Neill, who draws on his special forces experience in his well-paid appearances as a motivational speaker…………..”
This is the era of the whistleblowers and the tattlers and opportunists. Some do it, blow the whistle, for personal reasons, some do it for principled reasons. Everybody is now entitled to their brief television interview, perhaps their book, and maybe their movie based on the book. From former top cabinet members to former Navy Seal members. Everybody wants to be Captain America, except for the ones who are dead and those who choose not to talk.
He sure doesn’t seem to live up to the image that has been publicized about the Navy Seals . But then neither do the leading politicians and others who publish selective secrets after leaving office.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Interesting the reactions of the political elites, classes, and opinion-ators in the United States to two different famous whistleblowers:
- Edward Snowden was a young techie contracted by the NSA to handle secret data and information.
- Leon Panetta is a former Democrat Congressman, former White House Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton, former head of the CIA, and former Secretary of Defense. Former jack of all trades in the Democratic Party.
- Both men had access to top secret information. Panetta also had access to detailed ‘elite’ information and insight about the inner workings of the intelligence and national security apparatus.
- Edward Snowden was a mere grunt. He swore an oath to keep the information he handled secret. Being young and not glib with no access to high-powered legal counsel, he leaked the shocking information he had access to. Technically he broke the law, no doubt. Morally, many people believe he did his countrymen a great service and opened millions of eyes (he did open millions of eyes for sure). Either way, he did a version of “kiss and tell”, although unlike Panetta he did not do the kissing. So far all Snowden has gotten from his disclosure and flight is grief and exile.
- Leon Panetta, the more mature more glib man, waited until he left office, then he struck: he published a book and hit the TV trail. No doubt some of his accommodating former colleagues have approved his book. He is pushing his book all over the media, hoping to make a small fortune from it. I have not read the book, but reportedly he talks critically of American policy in Iraq and Syria. He is divulging information and insight he had heard and read during National Security sessions to make his political points. He is also doing a “kiss and tell”.
- Snowden was not involved in politics, as far as I know. Panetta is suspected by at least one person of being a Clinton partisan and of awaiting the restoration of Hillary to the White House. Someone wrote recently that he is trying to rewrite history.
- Oh, I left out that other confidante of presidents, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his “kiss and tell” book.
- So the moral is? If you want to blow the whistle on your employer, make sure you rise high enough within the hierarchy, then quit and do it.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“An Obama administration program sent a dozen Latin American youths to Cuba with the secret purpose of sparking political change. Starting in October 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development sent young Latin Americans from Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Peru to Cuba under the guise of health-care programming. They entered the country with the “perfect excuse” of providing HIV prevention training, but sought political actors to lead a potential revolution. The U.S. reportedly paid them as little as $5.14 an hour, and they were offered as little as 30 minutes of training on how to avoid Cuban intelligence officials. The youths sent encrypted emails that could have set off alarms and put them in obvious danger. Creative Associates, the contractor employed for the job…………..Alan Gross, who worked for the U.S. government’s U.S. Agency for International Development, has been jailed in Cuba since 2009……………..”
Bay of Piglets. We can surely call this newest attempt that. if they would lift the stupid blockade and allow the “freedom” of travel, there might be no need for all this.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
A Kenny G Holiday
“An American man who went missing in Iran more six years ago had been working for the CIA in what U.S. intelligence officials describe as a rogue operation that led to a major shake-up in the spy agency and his family receiving a secret, multimillion-dollar settlement. Bob Levinson, an ex-FBI agent, traveled to the Iranian Island of Kish in March 2007 to investigate corruption at a time when he was discussing the renewal of a CIA contract he had held for several years. He also inquired about getting reimbursed for the Iran trip by the agency before he departed, according to former and current U.S. intelligence officials. …………. But months after Levinson’s abduction, e-mails and other documents surfaced that suggested he had gone to Iran at the direction of certain CIA analysts who had no authority to run operations overseas…………….”
This has always seemed like a baffling case. I had thought there was something odd (rather fishy?) about Mr. Levinson’s case: it was never made clear who in Iran was holding him and why. For years both American and Iranian officials danced around the story of his disappearance gingerly, avoiding details. Odd that the Iranians, if they have him, did not announce it, given the series of assassinations of their scientists and academics in recent years. Given that they must have ‘interrogated’ him and got whatever he knows. And what about that odd picture in an ‘orange’ prison suit and chains and the brief message?
This story may explain part of the mystery, although it may be difficult convincing the Iranians that he was sent by “rogue” elements within the CIA. You see, Iranian officials are as ready to believe American officials as American officials are ready to believe Iranian officials. Hard to believe that the contempt is mutual, almost shocking, no?
Can there be more to this story, another angle not divulged? Some Iranians may think so. I suspect there is and I don’t even consider myself a conspiracy theorist. I just hope for his sake that it is not as bad as it can be.
“The rising power of leftists in South America made the election of Chile’s President Salvador Allende a threat to the United States, a journalist says. That was one of the reasons the CIA became involved, directly or indirectly, in the socialist leader’s assassination in 1973, author Carlos Bosso said in an interview published Sunday in the Santiago (Chile) Times. In his book, “The CIA in Chile,” Bosso said the CIA detected what it saw as “a strong increase” in Chileans voting for leftist political parties in the 1960s He cited an analysis of leftist guerrillas done by the CIA that said attempts by leftist groups to take over governments by violence “were not feasible anymore,” so the groups began getting involved in the continent’s political processes. That resulted in the election of Allende…………”
That was then. Now the gates have opened. Now they have several leftists to get rid of: Evo Morales (Bolivia), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Maduro (Venezuela), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), the Castros (the toughest ones, in Cuba). Then there are the softer leftists who in the old right-wing days would have been overthrown just as quickly: in Chile, Brazil…………
Neck of the woods
“The FBI is making a new push to determine how a woman who had an affair with retired Gen. David H. Petraeus when he was CIA director obtained classified files, part of an expanding series of investigations in a scandal that also threatens the career of the United States’ top military commander in Afghanistan. Senior law enforcement officials said that a late-night seizure on Monday of boxes of material from the North Carolina home of Paula Broadwell, a Petraeus biographer whose affair with him led to his resignation last week, marks a renewed focus by investigators on sensitive material found in her possession. “The issue of national security is still on the table,” one U.S. law enforcement official said. Both Petraeus and Broadwell have denied to investigators that he was the source of any classified information…………….”
The Petraeus media reports highlight the cultural differences between various parts of the world. Besides all the strange FBI investigations of a private affair and the house raids (at least one so far), there the broader issues. You’d think the FBI are the American equivalent of the Saudi Commission for the Propagation of Vice (the Religious Police,) the way they have undertaken to dismantle not only the professional lives but also the private lives of the people involved. All for being involved in a relationship that is not against the law. So let’s compare:
USA. Freedom of consensual liaisons between adult humans is guaranteed. But the remnants of that old Puritan Ethnic are hard to shake off. The shadow of John Winthrop hangs over many hooked up couples, whether they were in the back of a car in the old days or in a motel or a hotel, or at someone’s home. Americans concede that ‘it’ is part of life, even most Republicans concede that, but it is wise not to get caught doing it. If an aggrieved partner or rival doesn’t bloody you, then there is the brutal schadenfreude, which can and does ruin the ‘afterglow’. Then there is General Allen, who exchanged emails with some other chick. He called her ‘sweetheart’ and the Religious Police apparently interpreted that as tantamount to consensual sex. Shouldn’t these guys be catching terrorists, real or created or encouraged, rather than worry about emails and bedrooms? Then there are the and drug lords and traffickers , etc., etc.
- France. Sex is a red line in France, even if it often becomes public. It is not haram to have sex before, during, after, inside, outside, and around marriage. It is haram to meddle in it, ban it, moralize about it, or use it in politics. A general can have all the mistresses he wants, all the mistresses who are willing to seduce him, all who accept his “attentions”, all that he can afford, as long as he performs well in the field (field of battle or whatever it is French generals are supposed to do at the office). That is part of French-ness: the French Tea Party and the French Salafis would insist on it. French Evangelicals would insist on it. Even Marine Le Pen would insist on it.
- Britain. The Brits get really kinky and off the “beaten track” in their sex scandals of high officials. Quite interesting for a people known (perhaps mistakenly) for eschewing public sex. The mildest scandal involves at least hookers (i.e. prostitutes) and progresses to foreign spies, Russians, Chinese, Abominable Snowmen, and it degenerates and gets worse (or is it considered “better” over there).
- Middle East. Oh, never mind. Forget about it. In some ways we are more advanced: we have institutionalized it all. You can get thrown in prison or flogged publicly for being alone with a woman in a car or at the beach or even at a cafe in some countries. Yet a General Prince Bin Technocrat Al-Kleptocrat can lead his ‘private’ life as he pleases without, er, interruption. So can a Field Marshal Shaikh Bin Kleptocrat Al-Technocrat. But we also have our public solutions to the natural order of things. Polygamy, temporary marriages, part-time marriages, sex-only no-cohabitation no-responsibility marriages, and other creative “halal”, “kosher” if you prefer, sexual arrangements that take care of it all. We are, after all, more moral and holier than thou (that means you heathens).