The Syrian Civil War and the UN five years in

It’s been a while since we heard anything about the evils of the Syrian government. There is only so much media bandwidth for moral condemnation, and much of that has been taken up by Russia and ISIS (and in America, Iran). Although a lot of money has been spent vilifying Syria, usually in very discreet ways, it has slipped from the limelight as Washington becomes increasingly persuaded that the way to break-up Syria is to drop Assad as a casus belli and adopt ISIS instead.

The most official body charged with investigating Syrian war crimes is the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. That the UN feels the need to include the words ‘independent’ and ‘international’ in the Commissions’s formal title shows how sensitive it is to accusations of Western influence, but these fears cannot be allayed by nomenclature. It doesn’t help that of the five founding Commissioners one was a Turk who had completed a PhD in America (and who even spun her resignation into anti-Assad propaganda), another is an American whose employment history prior to joining the UN is unknown, while a third commissioner and the chairman have both held positions at American universities. Turkey and America, of course, are two long-standing belligerents in Syria’s proxy war.

The Commission itself was born out of a UN resolution, but not one derived from the Security Council or the General Assembly. It was a consequence of S-17/1, passed by the UN Human Rights Council, which currently counts amongst its rotating members Qatar and Saudi Arabia, two notorious systematic human rights abusers who also happen to be the two key backers of the Islamist paramilitaries inside Syria (and also Iraq, and also Yemen). This was not an auspicious start.

The resolution, and by obligation the Commission, took as read that there were “continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, [and the] torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including of children.” This followed on from an earlier fact-finding mission dispatched by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, a man who was previously Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States (Jordan being yet another opponent of the Syrian government). It’s worth pointing out the Human Rights Council could have made the same condemnation, almost word-for-word, as regards the US inside Iraq, or Saudi Arabia generally, of Qatar, or of Bahrain, of Israel, or any number of Western proxies. That it didn’t is another suggestion of institutional bias.

The Syrian Civil War is now in its fifth year, and the Commission has grown quiet. Its communications have been few. Nevertheless, its chair continues to present the crimes of the insurgents as lesser in scale, intent, and effect than that of the government, even going so far as to refute the idea that anti-government forces have any strategy to indiscriminately shell or bomb civilian areas. At the same time, the Commission has highlighted the use of “barrel bombs” by the Syrian Air Force. Barrel bombs are a crude aerial munition “increasingly employed… to reduce the cost of the protracted aerial campaigns while increasing its ability to extend them over more restive areas. It also allowed them to expand the fleet of aircraft used in assault operations to include transport helicopters.”

After Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was officially destroyed (as well as the architecture which housed them) barrel bombs were adopted by the opponents of the Syrian government as a new and media-friendly way to emphasise Assad’s immorality. All news outlets have carried the story (here’s the BBC). Yet while the Commission’s report accepts these weapons are the consequence of a shortage of materiel, its Chairman continues to maintain that Damascus retains a “proven ability to conduct information led and precise attacks on military objectives.” How, exactly? If Paulo Pinheiro is referring to ground operations, I would dearly like to know how keen he’d be to see his son pick up an assault rifle and storm an apartment block.

Whatever the aims of the Syrian Air Force, in the hands of the UN HRC (as with Amnesty International and countless other organisations) the barrel bomb was another attempt at a “red line” triggering Western intervention. Its opinion that “area bombardment is prohibited by international humanitarian law” is a gross simplification (see Protocol I of the Geneva Convention, added 1977), but even if it were not, it’s hopelessly one-sided to indict Syria while ignoring the historical and ongoing bombardments committed by other countries.

The only other comment recently offered by the Commission has been to welcome the release of three “human rights defenders”, Hussein Ghrer, Maen Darwish, and Hani Al-Zaytani, who worked for the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression in Damascus. They were arrested in February 2012 on charges of “publicizing terrorist attacks” and “promoting terrorist activities”. They were released this summer. I have no knowledge of the facts of the case, or of the provenance of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression in Damascus, but it is worth pointing out the law in our own country (and many others) is even more draconian, as the number of putative jihadis inside HMP Belmarsh testifies. Again, this has not met with any interest from the UN Human Rights Council.

The Commission’s most significant communication this year was the 64-page report it delivered this February. The report was originally expected to deal with allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government, allegations which Western media had reported as fact for a number of years, in broadcasts which sometimes resembled blatant propaganda. As regards these alleged CW attacks, most notably the attacks at Al Ghouta and Khan Al Assan, the Commission confined itself to two paragraphs and the following conclusion:

“The Commission’s evidentiary threshold was not met with regard to the perpetrator for these incidents.”

That was it. All those news reports, all those column inches, those hours of tv reportage and political debate, the rise from anonymity of bloggers like Brown Moses, have been swept under the carpet by a single sentence. Events, dear boy, events.

For those, like me, who believed the CW attacks were never anything more than anti-Syrian propaganda, the report is as close to vindication as we are ever likely to get, at least until the victims turn up in later life as unscathed survivors. I haven’t seen a UN chemical weapons report as deliberately equivocal since the Iran-Iraq War. If the Commission cannot bring itself to account for these incidents, at least its most neutral Commissioner has gone off-message to hint at the truth.  For now, the villain de jour is ISIS, and ironically it is ISIS which the West has seized on to justify its long-awaited bombing of the Syrian army – which in turn is the chief opponent of the Islamic State. I haven’t seen foreign policy as perverse as this since the Cold War.

More EMP nonsense about Iran

In my last blog I mentioned that US Senator Ron Johnson (a former plastics executive) was concerned Iran had developed an Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb, or EMP. The chief problem with this ridiculous claim is that no EMP has ever been developed, as far as we know. It is the stuff of science fiction, although Boeing recently announced it was attempting to produce one for the USAF. Whether this turns out to be a feasible weapon remains to be seen, but I’m sure they will spend a lot of tax dollars finding out.

Johnson’s EMP claims, while wildly unfounded, are now being echoed by other American hawks. Senator Ted Cruz is now also adamant that “the single greatest threat to the United States if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon is an Electromagnetic Pulse. A nuclear weapon detonated in the atmosphere over the Eastern seaboard could kill tens of millions of Americans.”

Not content with how the earlier Johnson-Moniz exchange ended (Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was being grilled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the dangers of Iranian WMD), Cruz went on the offensive from the get-go, claiming Moniz had no idea what EMPs were, and that he hadn’t read the relevant briefing papers.

Moniz is a nuclear physicist and long-time MIT professor with a PhD from Stanford in theoretical physics, and is considered one of the foremost scientific experts in his field. Cruz got quite cross when Moniz felt unable to share his fears, because an EMP weapon remains a speculative what-if even for America’s military, which is the most lavishly funded in human history. Which makes the recent Boeing leak appear rather timely for the military industrial complex, doesn’t it?

It seems some thought and planning has gone into sinking Obama’s deal with Iran, and that an Iranian EMP was settled on as the line to take. Whoever decided that deeply implausiable angle must have had a lot of money on the table. Little wonder that this same week former President Jimmy Carter called the US “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery.”

Syria: Chemical Weapons Finger Points Yet Again At The Islamists

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights is a one-man London-based outfit which has made and conveyed allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses against the Syrian government since the outset of the Syrian Civil War. In a conflict that has seen the Saudi and Qatar spend a fortune in anti-Assad propaganda (just as they did during Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait), it can be safely assumed that the SOHR is on somebody’s payroll. I have long suspected that SIS was funding it, because it clearly doesn’t have very much money (the Observatory is run out of a two-bed terrace in Coventry) and our spooks have nowhere near the budgets the Emiratis do. I feel encouraged in this suspicion by the fact that now we are taking military action against the Syrian opposition (albeit in a dodgy, illicit, non-parliamentary way), the SOHR has finally started to report incidents in which non-government forces have done something wrong.

Towards the end of June Islamic State troops used chemical shells against Kurdish YPG fighters south of Tal Brak, and also against a residential neighbourhood in the nearby city of Al Hasakah. The SOHR also tell us the claims are backed up by doctors’ testimony and laboratory analysis, although such claims have proved almost worthless in the past. We don’t have any casualty figures either, but simply to shift the allegations of chemical weapons use from Assad to the Islamists constitutes a remarkable roll-back.

It would be nice to think that SIS have suddenly decided to do something in Syria that actually benefits both Britain and Syria, but in reality our foreign policy now calls for twice as much propaganda. No, three times. Vauxhall now has to vilify both sides in the Syrian Civil War while marketing a non-existent moderate opposition at the same time. Jesus, can’t we just back Assad and stop helping Gulf monarchies to destroy a soverign country? The Syrians have voted him in, he’s promised reform, and he’s the best hope peace has. Anyone in the Foreign Office who can’t see that is a bloody zealot. The collective denial of that institution never ceases to amaze me. It’s like Iraqi WMD all over again.

NB Lebanese television first reported that anti-government forces were using CW against the Kurds in 2013.

 

Able Seaman William McNeilly: Entrapped by MI5?

It’s only May, but Able Seaman William McNeilly is already leading the pack for Worst Whistleblower of the Year Award. McNeilly is – or was – a Royal Navy sailor assigned to one of our Vanguard-class nuclear deterrent submarines. He went on leave, tried unsuccessfully to get his self-authored report published in the national press (it was two days before the election), then went AWOL. It finally started to circulate in the national press after it was picked up by the (Scottish) Sunday Herald.

Essentially, McNeilly maintains that the Vanguard subs are poorly maintained, insufficiently secure, easy to infiltrate and not-fit-for-purpose. With the sardonic wit characteristic of the British military, his report was summarised by one anonymous ARRSE poster thus:

“So all a terrorist needs to do to access the missile control centre of a nuclear sub is to join the Royal Navy. I bet they are kicking theirselves over not figuring that one out.”

But broadly speaking, McNeilly might have a point. The secrecy which has long shrouded our Vanguard subs may be wholly necessary for reasons of national security, but equally, that self-same secrecy would also cloak severe levels of incompetence and inadequacy. One does wonder sometimes. Even so, McNeilly’s whistle-blowing is distinctly unconvincing. He has committed very serious breaches of secrecy and protocol for a report that isn’t really any more damning than a bad editorial. My initial impression, when I first heard the story, was that McNeilly is a young and not especially worldly man, who went on shore leave and desperately wanted an excuse not to go back. So this report is his excuse.

But this is a far murkier story than that. Instead of embracing anonymity, McNeilly went public from the gate. He even posted his passport and RN ID card on the net.

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Looks old for 25, doesn’t he?

Specifically, McNeilly posted it on Scribd, which, nudged by the security services, promptly took it down, as it did his report (whistleblowers take note). Wikileaks, still a far more reliable channel for this sort of thing, has snatched and uploaded it all here. The report has gone through three revisions, and in the last  McNeilly also trumpeted how he had been able to take three flights unmolested since he went public. So that’s all a bit weird. Where he lost me, however, was here (I’ve bolded the key bits):

“This [my report] contains references to CB8890: The instructions for the safety and security of the Trident II D5 strategic weapon system. I’m sure all the Strategic Weapon System (SWS) personnel are scratching their heads and wondering how I’m writing this on my personnel laptop and referencing a book, which is contained within a safe in the Missile Control Centre (MCC). The MCC is the compartment used to control the launch of the nuclear missiles. It can only be accessed by people on the access list, and no personnel electronics are allowed. I was on the access list but how could I have gotten a copy of every single chapter on to my phone? A hidden camera? No. Smuggled the book out then filmed it? No. What I did was walk into a room were no recording devices are allowed. I sat down; took my Samsung Galaxy SII (white) out of my pocket, and recorded the entire book word for word.

That doesn’t sound like whistleblower to me. That sounds like a spy.

Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, both in my opinion genuine whistleblowers, released huge amounts of information. In fact the number of documents leaked by Snowden is in fact so large it is extremely difficult to quantify. But despite repeated (and dishonest) assertions to contrary, none of it got anybody killed; none of it “aided the enemy”; none of it even put anyone in danger. Consider the context too. With Manning and Snowden, their government was doing something illegal; their military and intelligence apparatus was facilitating that illegality; and the spooks and the generals were lying routinely lying to both the public and the politicians about it. McNeilly’s case is drastically different. The Vanguard subs are legal, and the secrecy that surrounds them is entirely justified.

Now consider this: in 2012, Petty Officer Edward Devenny (also from Northern Ireland, as is William McNeilly) was entrapped by MI5 agents posing as Russian spies. Over three months they ploughed him with drink and offerered him a number of inducements to provide classified information. Devenny, whose service record was until then pretty exemplary, eventually succumbed. When he was tried, it emerged that one of the things “Dima” and Vladimir” wanted him to do was use his mobile phone to record some classified manuals inside the sub. McNeilly, for reasons which defy any explanation other than espionage, has done exactly the same thing.

McNeilly’s long statement reminded me very much of the stereotypical defector. He exaggerates his importance, experience, and knowledge; he boasts of his intelligence; he complains of his mistreatment; he repeatedly insists that he isn’t interested in money; he avers that deep down he is loyal to his country and his branch of service – in fact he is doing this for the greater good. This is pretty much a bullet-point list of the attitudes struck by your stereotypical defector, and with good reason: they are pampered and pressured into believing this garbage by their handlers.

During Devenny’s trial, it emerged he was hugely suspicious he was being entrapped. This isn’t surprising, considering every Vanguard sailor knows it’s something MI5 and the MOD police occasionally attempt. In fact this is public knowledge, and has been ever since Chapman Pincher started writing counter-intelligence manuals. Devenny even told the officers entrapping him he believed that was exactly what they were doing. But the Security Service persisted, and eventually, after a night on the booze, Devenny crossed the line and took some snaps.

Reading McNeilly’s statement it is all but too apparent that someone – and almost certainly our own people – had been buttering him up. Perhaps they posed as concerned liberals, and lured him into “doing a Snowden” with offers of money and fame. Or they may have faked being foreign spies, as with Devenny, in which case McNeilly realised last-minute what was going on, and has re-styled himself as a whistleblower to furnish himself with a nobler motivation. One or the other. But if the story tells us anything, it’s that MI5’s Ulster office has very little to do these days. Either that or Northern Irish submariners are inherently inclined to treachery – but that is something I would stridently deny, having a touch of the Orangeman in my lineage.

(Incidentally, if counter-intelligence officers entrap a serviceman like this, and then agree with him to keep his crime a secret, they have an agent for life – and that’s how Lee Harvey Oswalds are made.)

 

Amerithrax, Deep State policing, and conspiracy theory

For four years former FBI Agent Richard L Lambert was nominally in charge of the Amerithrax investigation. Lambert now claims he has been dissmissed from his current job (senior counterintelligence officer at the Energy Department) because of his continued insistence that the Bureau deliberately mishandled the case. He is now suing the FBI, and for those who haven’t been paying attention, his court filings comprise a series of explosive revelations.

Richard Lambert, in his FBI days.

Richard Lambert, in his FBI days.

Those with long memories will recall that one week after 9/11, somebody started using the US postal service to send anthrax to unsuspecting and seemingly random journalists and politicians. As well as anthrax, the envelopes contained letters which identified the acts as Islamist terrorism (“Allah is great”, “death to America”, “death to Israel”, etc). Thus a bridge was established between this Islamist terrorism and WMD. This link became the keystone of the entire war on terror, and ultimately provided the rationale for invading Iraq. As I make clear in my biography of David Kelly, Dark Actors, the claims that Iraq possessed WMD always tended to centre around biological WMD (and specifically anthrax), because bioweapons are the easiest WMD to make, and can be produced with the least infrastructure, thus making them the hardest WMD to detect. Amerithrax, as this news story was called, helped point 9/11 very quickly to Iraq. By October corporate media was blaming Baghdad.

The anthrax accompanying this came from US military labs.

The anthrax accompanying this came from US military labs.

9/11 brought conspiracy theory to the fore. Hundreds of millions of people believed it was an inside job, a false flag operation to enable the next chapter of American foreign policy. Their numbers have doubtlessly dwindled, but the Truth movement, as it tends to call itself, is still going strong. It has been met with something that has not yet been named, but might be described as the New Orthodoxy. Essentially this was an elite and anti-populist tendency to a) brand all those who doubt the corporate media as conspiracy theorists whilst b) classifying conspiracy theory as a dangerous, destablizing, anti-Semitic force. Notable proponents of this New Orthodoxy in the UK are David Aaronovitch (see Voodoo Histories) and Nick Cohen (“Conspiracy theories led to the calamitous movements of communism and nazism.”) In the US, the legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who happens to be the husband of Samantha Power, argued that conspiracy theory is a catalyst for anti-state violence, and that the government should infiltrate conspiracy theory groups (Sunstein classes the 9/11 ‘Truthers’ as domestic extremists). Closer to home, Cambridge University’s Leverholme-funded Conspiracy and Democracy project may provide an institutional example of the New Orthodoxy (“Are conspiracy theories destroying democracy?”), although I hope not.

I don’t think the Truth movement has proven that 9/11 was an inside job. But Amerithrax was. It is possible to be incredibly specific about strains of anthrax – because they are bacterial, they have DNA. Additionally, there are the processing treatments the anthrax in these letters recevied, which reduces the number of sources even further. This anthrax was a very finely ground, dry powder, with every granule given an anti-static polyglass coating, and electrocharged to aid aerial dispersal. It was a designer bioweapon. The Bureau found it could only have been produced by the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, or the private sector Batelle Memorial Institute at Ohio.

Faced with this incontrovertible evidence, the guy the FBI evenutally went after was a harmless, community-minded, Roman Catholic juggler and Celtic music afficianado with thirty six years’ service as a biodefence researcher at USAMRIID in Maryland. Military scientists can be a very prickly bunch (I’ve met dozens of them) but Bruce Ivins seems to have been well regarded by almost everyone he worked with. The FBI let him know he was their chief suspect and the Bureau followed him, overtly and covertly, with great scrutiny.

The pressure must have been immense. From released transcripts, which make for tragic reading, its clear that his questioners leant on him hard. His children were bribed to testify against him, even if they could only provide the most circumstantial evidence. They refused. Ivins, who suffered from depression, was also seeing a counsellor, who did not refuse these inducements. Her co-operation with the FBI was not only a fundamental breach of patient confidentiality, it amounted to asking leading and incriminating questions during their therapy sessions, something I suspect Ivins came to realise. Ivins was also, according to some of the agents involved, a closet crossdresser (much like J. Edgar Hoover). Distressed and disturbed, he killed himself with a Tylenol overdose as a consqeuence of FBI harassment on the 29th of July, 2008. More than 200 of his co-workers attended his memorial.

I often thought of Ivins when I was writing the biography of David Kelly. The Oxfordshire scientist may have been mistreated by the state, but it was nothing compared to what the FBI did to Ivins.

Bruce Ivins RIP.

Bruce Ivins RIP.

“They took an innocent man, a distinguished scientist, and smeared his reputation, dishonored him, questioned his children and drove him to take his life,” one anonymous colleague told ABC News. “He just didn’t have the swagger, the ego to pull off that kind of thing, and he didn’t have the lab skills to make the fine powder anthrax that was used in the letters.”

(One might also wonder about the wisdom of letting a dangerous bioterrorist know full well they’re your chief suspect, but then that’s exactly what Agent Lambert did with the previous suspect, Steven Hatfill. Either Lambert’s team never wanted to build a viable case, and/or they believed themselves, from the outset, to be working against a highly organized conspiracy that involved elements of the intelligence community.)

As soon as Ivins committed suicide the FBI and the Department of Justice promptly announced that he was the Amerithrax terrorist and closed the case. Scrabbling for a likely motive, the Feds said Ivins held a patent on an anthrax vaccine he had developed, and hoped to make money from the resulting scare. This was nonsense: Ivins had helped develop it, but the money went to the US Military. In fact the entire case against Ivins was ridiculous and dishonest. The catalogue of lies, distortions, and errors is extensive, and far too long to go into here, but many decent people have made comprehensive rebuttals here, here and here.

Lambert says he is still sitting on a wealth of classified information, but the gist of his filings thus far make clear that he was ordered to make Ivins the chief suspect, and that head office repeatedly denied him staff and support to pursue any other avenues. He says the FBI hid vast amounts of evidence that showed Ivins was innocent, while leaking tangential pointers that Ivins could be guilty as definitive fact.

So, these are explosive revelations, but they will suprise few who have followed the case. After all, the argument for flase flag operations is not hard for certain quarters to morally support. For example: you want to start a war, you have accepted there will be a “blood price”, and you understand there is a risk of failure. Based on those terms, why should you shrink from paying that blood price before the war formally begins? Otherwise you might not get to have your war at all. When we understand what false flags are, when our media can acknowledge their existence, these operations will become far less effective. Perhaps one day we will mature.

In the meantime it is surely self-evident that the rise of conspiracy theory is not destroying democracy, but a symptom of its decline. The lessons of Bruce Ivins and Amerithrax are obvious, but I am not aware of a single MSM personality prepared to acknowledge them.

Yes we have no WMD: Iraq in 2014

Ah, the undying spectre of Iraqi WMD. It cannot be found. It cannot be killed. It cannot be destroyed. It cannot be stopped. It will sail forever, like the Marie Celeste, a phantom ship that docks at no port, a tale that is told whenever there is something to be gained by the telling. It was a legend, a myth, a neocon narrative that was years in the making: for thirteen years, from 1990 to 2003, hawks, hacks and liberals alike spent money and lives building it into something that would shape the destiny of nations. Lies like that do not disappear overnight, even with deserts scoured and palaces in ruins, even with a million dead. They drift like ghosts, cropping up here and there, revenants of what may be the biggest disinformation effort in human history. So guess who’s telling the Iraqi WMD story now? Iraq.

With ISIS in the ascendancy, Nouri al-Maliki’s government is now telling the world that these encroaching Islamist rebels have seized WMD sites in Muthanna and Mosul, and so they are now in possession of deadly WMD-related materials. Except, of course, they aren’t.

The Al Muthanna State Establishment (MSE) is 45 miles north west of Baghdad. It developed binary CW burster charges for R-400 “dumb” bombs in the eighties. Production was cancelled in 1988, after which it concentrated on research, although apparently there was still enough material around in the summer of 1990 to refill a stock of R-400s. But that was the last time there was ever any WMD at Al Muthanna. Still, the BBC have dutifully reported Baghdad’s claim that ISIS are now in control of facility where some 2,500 “degraded” rockets filled with nerve agent payloads.

It’s the usual nonsense. UNSCOM went there, UNMOVIC went there, the ISG went there, several times each, and god knows who else. UNSCOM spent about two years there in the early nineties, demolishing buildings and destroying material. According to the CIA:

“Between 1992 and 1994 and again in 1996, the Chemical Destruction Group oversaw destruction of 30,000 pieces of ordnance, 480,000 litres of chemical agents, and more than 2 million litres of chemical precursors. Eventually, most of the facilities at the complex the Iraqi’s destroyed and sold for scrap.”

Want to know what these “degraded rockets” look like? Here’s what they looked like in 2004:

Al Muthanna 1Al Muthanna 2That place is like the armoury of Ozymandias. Charles Duelfer described it a year later as “a wasteland full of destroyed chemical munitions, razed structures, and unusable war-ravaged facilities.” And sampling performed during the ISG revealed no traces of CW agents – unsurprisingly. Perhaps, in the areas that UNSCOM deemed unsafe to exploit, there may have been some spare explosive or usable munition left in some forgotten corner, which were lifted by looters and used as IEDS in the post-invasion insurgency, and indeed one or two seem to have cropped up, but nothing CW-related. Iraq had declared or destroyed its WMD arsenal, in its totality, by the summer of 1991.

So what does Maliki want? The same thing politicians have always wanted when they complain of WMDs in the Middle East: American airstrikes. There is no such thing as irony when it comes to issues of survival. But considering Obama wants to plough $500m into funding “moderate” Syrian rebels, who are at the very least ISIS-affiliated, I doubt he will be in a big hurry to offer the Iraqis any truly decisive help. I am reminded of US foreign policy during the Iran-Iraq war, when it armed both sides. Or when Washington first funded the Kurdish Peshmerga of Mustafa Barzani to rise up against Saddam in 1972, even though it knew they would fail and die in their tens of thousands.

“Covert action should not be confused with missionary work,” was how Kissinger put it, when later hauled up before the 40 Committee.

Indeed. It is only through the assumption that some sort of self-interested covert agenda is in place that US foreign policy in the Middle East begins to make any sense at all. No wonder that Arabs are such vociferous conspiracy theorists (or so we are told). In the absence of any genuine national sovereignty, vortexes of conspiracy prevail.

I wonder how long it will be before the next Middle East WMD story. Days, hours?