Showing posts with label Blackwater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blackwater. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Turkey, Sarin, Company, Russia, Hersh

Whose Sarin Now?  Turkey and the company

          Just about everything is confirmed now except why Seymour Hersh is called "Cy".
          The plane crash in the Indian Ocean has kept a great deal of news out, but the Syrian victory is pretty much accomplished which is why Syria hasn't been covered much lately. 
          The whole "mass gassings," we learn, despite the tentative wording of the interview, was accomplished by funding from Saudi Arabia and another of those rich oil countries, recruitment and money laundering through Libya (remember that evil Gaddafi?) and the use of RAT tunnels (the Company loves terms like that, "let's run it through the rat') from Turkey to Syria.  The gas used was launched by missiles not owned by Syria and was not the type that the government possessed.  We mentioned that here at the time, but why not mention it again, just for the sheer joy of it?
          Meanwhile, Israel has managed to cause all sorts of trouble without being noticed.
          Russia did not attack Georgia, btw., Georgia attacked Russia and Russia moved in and protected the few Russian ethnics in Georgia right along the border.  We put a big ship there.  Wow. 
          Now, Russian ethnics in Ukraine in Donetsk have occupied the government and voted to secede and join Russia.  So have a couple other provinces.  They are reacting to persecution to "Ultra-Nationalist" and pro-western elements in Ukraine that have taken over the government in Kiev.  We sent a big ship there.
          Senile McCain doesn't like it, but he was asked if he wanted us to go to war with Russia.  He didn't answer, just said his hero was Teddy Roosevelt. 
          With all this unreported activity by the CIA, some people might be led to believe that it was in on the assassination of JFK.  One does not mean the other.  Al Sharpton, once an undercover agent for the FBI will tell you that.  
          Well, have fun everyone.  I've had enough of this right now.
          Here is the interview with Hersh:


Sy Hersh Reveals Potential Turkish Role in Syria Chemical Strike That Almost Sparked U.S. Bombing

Was Turkey behind last year’s Syrian chemical weapons attack? That is the question raised in a new exposé by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh on the intelligence debate over the deaths of hundreds of Syrians in Ghouta last year. The United States, and much of the international community, blamed forces loyal to the Assad government, almost leading to a U.S. attack on Syria. But Hersh reveals the U.S. intelligence community feared Turkey was supplying sarin gas to Syrian rebels in the months before the attack took place — information never made public as President Obama made the case for launching a strike. Hersh joins us to discuss his findings.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: As Syria continues to remove its chemical weapons arsenal under the monitoring of the United Nations, a new article by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh questions what happened last year in the Syrian city of Ghouta, when hundreds of Syrians died in a chemical weapons attack. The United States and much of the international community blamed forces loyal to the Assad government, and the incident almost led the U.S. to attack Syria. But according to Hersh, while President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were making the case for U.S. strikes, analysts inside the U.S. military and intelligence community were privately questioning the administration’s central claim about who was behind the chemical weapons attack.
According to Hersh, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page "talking points" briefing on June 19th which stated the Syrian rebel group al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell. According to the DIA, it was, quote, "the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort." The DIA document went on to state, quote, "Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria." A month before the DIA briefing was written, more than ten members of al-Nusra were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin.
Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh now joins us from Washington, D.C. His latestpiece is headlined "The Red Line and the Rat Line." It was just published in theLondon Review of Books.
Sy Hersh, welcome back to Democracy Now! Lay out what you have found.
SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, you just laid out part of it. I think the most important thing about the document is that—as you know, I was on this show, and the London Review did a piece that I wrote, months ago, questioning just the whole issue of "Whose Sarin?"—was the title. It wasn’t clear. This doesn’t mean we know exactly what happened in eastern Ghouta. What we do know—I’m talking about the military, the Pentagon and the analysts—is that the sarin that was recovered wasn’t the kind of sarin that exists in the Syrian arsenal. It just raises a grave question about one of the basic elements of the president’s argument for planning to go to war. The real point of the Shedd document, and the reason I wrote so much about it, is because when I did that piece months ago, the White House said they know of no such document, and there’s no—they have no information about sarin being in the hands of al-Nusra or other radical groups or jihadist groups inside Syria.
Here’s what’s scary about it. What’s scary about it is the military community—I know that the Southern Command, etc., were very worried about this possibility. The war is going badly for some of these jihadist groups. They obviously—more than al-Nusra, other groups obviously have the capacity now to manufacture sarin, with the help of Turkey, and the fear is that as the war goes bad, some of this sarin—you can call it a strategic weapon, perhaps; when used right, it can kill an awful lot of people very quickly—is going to be shipped to their various units outside of Syria. In other words, they’re going to farm out the chemicals they have, who knows where—northern Africa, the Middle East, other places—and then you have a different situation that we are confronting in terms of the war on terror. That’s the reality.
Meanwhile, the White House’s position, again, with this article, once again, even though we—this document they claim no longer existed, we ran a big chunk of it. Clearly, I have access to it. They are still insisting, "We know of no such document." This head-in-the-sand approach really has to do with something I write about in the article. I quote people as saying, once the president makes a decision, it’s almost impossible to change—to get it changed. The president decided that the Syrians did it, and we’re justified in thinking that and continuing to think that, no other option exists. And so, he’s predicated a foreign policy which is a head-in-the-sand policy, because, meanwhile, we have a serious problem with these kind of weapons, particularly as Syria gets rid of the weapons. The only people inside Syria with those weapons are the wackos. And so, there we are.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the rat line?
SEYMOUR HERSH: The rat line is an informal designation of a—the CIA is—there’s a lot of very competent people in the CIA. I give it a hard time, but you’ve got to acknowledge a very—a lot of very bright people still work there, and they know what they’re doing. During the Iranian war, when—during when Cheney and Bush were deeply involved in trying to find out whether there was a secret underground nuclear facility inside Iran—they absolutely believed it—we would send in Joint Special Operation Command teams undercover from Pakistan, from wherever, through routes that the CIA had known for smuggling and moving cash. They would use those rat lines to go in.
And the rat line in this case is, very early in 2012, when this—I don’t know why, but maybe because of the hubris over what—the victory we thought we had in Libya ousting Gaddafi, which is a mess of its own, we set up a covert, a very secret operation inside Libya to funnel arms through Turkey into the Syrian opposition, including all sides—those who were secular, those who had legitimate grievances against the Assad government, and the other groups sponsored by the Saudis and Qataris, who are really trying to create a Wahhabi or Salafist government in Syria, take it over. And this was a very secret operation. It went for a long time. It only ended when the consulate in Benghazi was overrun. And it was done without—as I write, without telling Congress. And the reason we even know about it, there was a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi that was published a few months back raising questions about security, etc., the same issues Republicans constantly talk about, but there was a secret annex to the report that described this process of funneling stuff. And it was done with money, actually, from the Turks, from the Saudis and the Qataris. We sort of used their money, and we funneled—to use it to buy weapons and funnel it. The CIA was deeply involved in this.
In effect, you could almost say that, in his own way, Obama—you can call it shrewd or brilliant. He was almost channeling Saudi Arabia and Qatari and the Turks to get something done we wanted done, which was to have the opposition defeat Bashar al-Assad. And that’s what it was. It was a long-running operation. It only ended—and, by the way, when it ended with the—when we shut it down after Benghazi was overrun, we suddenly saw all kinds of crazy weapons be showing up, including MANPADS, the shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles. We showed—they were suddenly showing up inside—inside Syria in the hands of various jihadist groups. So, clearly, the rat line we set up after we shut it down had a life of its own, which is often that happens in these kind of operations.
AMY GOODMAN: After the Syria talks concluded earlier this year, Secretary of State John Kerry renewed his backing of the departure of Bashar al-Assad and said the United States is prepared to increase support for the rebel opposition.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: No one has done more to make Syria a magnet for terrorists than Bashar al-Assad. He is the single greatest magnet for terrorism that there is in the region. And he has long since, because of his choice of weapons, because of what he has done, lost any legitimacy. ... I will just say to you that lots of different avenues will be pursued, including continued support to the opposition and augmented support to the opposition.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Secretary of State John Kerry. Sy Hersh, your response?
SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, by this time, they knew from the Joint Chiefs of Staff—they knew that the British had come to us with sarin that had been analyzed at their laboratory and that—we share a laboratory on chemical and biological warfare issues with Britain, place called Porton Down. It’s their chemical warfare facility. And we, Americans, share that in terms of analyzing international problems when it comes to chemical and biological warfare. So it’s a lot of—we have a lot of confidence in the British competence. And so, the Brits came to us with samples of sarin, and they were very clear there was a real problem with these samples, because they did not reflect what the Brits know and we know, the Russians knew, everybody knew, is inside the Syrian arsenal. They have—professionals armies have additives to sarin that make it more persistent, easier to use. The amateur stuff, they call it kitchen sarin, sort of a cold phrase. You can make sarin very easily with a couple of inert chemicals, but the sarin you make isn’t very—isn’t as lethal as a professional military-grade sarin and doesn’t have certain additives. So, you can actually calibrate what’s in it. They came to us, very early, within six, eight days, 10 days, of the August 21, last year’s terrible incident inside—near Damascus, when hundreds were killed. And it was overwhelming evidence.
And so, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by its chairman, Martin Dempsey, an Army officer of many years of experience—he was commander of the Central Command, covered the Middle East—they did go to the president, and they raised questions. They let him know the problems. And they also talked about the fact that the military was, I can say, unhappy. Military people tend to be—when you give them an assignment, they’ll do it, but often they see the risk more than civilian leaders. The first—the president wanted a wave of bombing, and the military came up with a list of a number of targets—I think 21, 31, something like that, targets—runways and other stuff. And they were told by the White House—I don’t know who—that they wanted something that would create more pain for Bashar. So then, the next thing you know, they’re coming back with a massive bombing attack, two air wings of B-52 bombers dropping 2,000-pound bombs, hitting power nodes, electricity nodes, etc., the kind of attack that would cause an awful lot of damage to civilian infrastructure. And that was an awful lot for the Joint Chiefs, and they really raised that question with the president.
And as I write, I don’t think there’s any other issue that would have forced him to stop as he did. The notion of we’re going to suddenly go back and sign a chemical disarmament treaty with the Syrians, that the Russians had been talking about, that had been raised a year earlier, and we didn’t bite them. He clearly jumped on it then. And he—look, you’ve got to give the president credit. As much as he wanted to and as much as he talked about it, when faced with reality, he backed down. He didn’t say why. But, you know, we don’t expect—we have learned not to expect very much credibility on foreign policy issues. Unfortunately, the fact that we don’t get straight talk from the top means that the bureaucracy can’t do straight talk. If you’re inside the bureaucracy, you can’t really tell the White House something they don’t want to know.
SEYMOUR HERSH: That’s—yes, go ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: Sy, I want to talk Turkey for a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: In your piece, you mention the leaked video of a discussion between the Turkish prime minister, Erdogan, and senior officials of a false flag operation that would justify Turkish military intervention in Syria. This is Erdogan’s response to the leaked recording.
PRIME MINISTER RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: [translated] Today they posted a video on YouTube. There was a meeting at the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Syria, on the tomb of Suleyman Shah. And they even leaked this on YouTube. This is villainous. This is dishonesty.
AMY GOODMAN: Turkey briefly imposed a ban on YouTube following the leaked recording. Sy Hersh, could you explain what the Erdogan administration’s support for the rebels, the Turkish support for the rebels, has consisted of and where the U.S. now stands on this?
SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, where we stand on it now is that there’s not much we can do about it, because—well, let me just tell you what we know. What we do know, that Turkey is—that al-Nusra groups have been inside Turkey buying equipment. There’s also reports that they’ve also received some training from the Turkish intelligence services, which is very—is headed by a man named Fidan, who is very known. There’s reports, wonderful report in The Wall Street Journal recently about Fidan’s closeness not only to Erdogan, the prime minister and the leader of Turkey, but also to the most radical units. And so is Erdogan. They’re all supporting—if they have a choice, they’re supporting the more fundamental groups inside Syria. And so, we know they supply training. We know also there’s a—there’s, I guess you could call it, another rat line. There’s a flow—if you’re going to send the chemicals that, when mixed together, meddled together, make sarin, they flow—that flow comes from inside Turkey. A sort of a paramilitary unit known as the gendarmy—Gendarmerie and theMIT [Milli Istihbarat Teskilati] both are responsible for funneling these things into radical groups. There’s actually a flow of trucks that brings the stuff in. And so, Turkish involvement is intense.
And I can tell you, and as I wrote in this article, the conclusion of many in the intelligence community—I can’t say it’s a report, because they didn’t write a report about it—the conclusion was, based on intercepts we have, particularly after the event, was that there were elements of the Turkish government that took credit for what happened in eastern Ghouta, with the point being that this sarin attack crossed Obama’s famous red line. If you know, Obama had said in the summer of 2012, there’s a red line that, if they cross in terms of using chemicals or doing too much, the opposition, he will bomb to stop Bashar. And so, Turkey was dying, trying, repeatedly in the spring—there’s a lot of evidence there were some attacks in the spring. The U.N. knows this, although they don’t say it. I write about that, too, in the article. And also, the American community knew. That’s the reason why that secret report I wrote about, the talking paper, was written. We knew that the radicals were—had used—the jihadist groups had access to nerve agent and had used it against Syrian soldiers in March and April. Those incidents that were always described by our government as being the responsibility of the rebels, with high confidence, it’s just not so. And the report makes it clear. We have had a huge problem before the August attack in—near Damascus. We knew about this potential for months before. We just—it’s the kind of information, for some reason, it doesn’t fit with what the administration wanted to hear, so it just never got out. And that—
AMY GOODMAN: Sy, on Sunday, the website EA WorldView published a pieceheadlined "There is No Chemical Weapons Conspiracy—Dissecting Hersh’s 'Exclusive' on Insurgents Once More." The author, Scott Lucas, questioned the claim that rebels could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack last August, given the range and scale of the operation. He wrote, quote, "Reports on the day and subsequently indicated that 7-12 sites were attacked with chemical agents at the same time. In other words, whoever was responsible for the attacks launched multiple surface-to-surface rockets with chemical payloads against opposition-held towns in East Ghouta and one town in West Ghouta, near Damascus. [The chemical] attacks were ... followed by ... heavy conventional attacks." The author, Scott Lucas, says that you fail to ask questions about whether anyone, apart from the regime, would have the ability to carry out such an extensive operation. Sy?
SEYMOUR HERSH: [inaudible] first article on—we’re past that. We now know. Actually, The New York Times even ran a retraction, of sorts. You had a—it was like reading Pravda. But if you read the article carefully, The New York Times had run a series of articles after the event saying that the warheads in question that did the damage came from a Syrian army base, something like nine kilometers, six miles, away. And at that time, there were a number of analysts, a group from MIT[Massachusetts Institute of Technology], led by Ted Postol, who used to be a science adviser to the CNO, the chief of naval operations, clearly somebody with a great deal of background and no bias. He did a series of studies with his team that concluded that the warheads probably didn’t go more than one or two, at most, kilometers—two kilometers, 1.2 miles. And we now know from the U.N. report—a man named Ake Sellstrom, who ran the U.N. investigation, he’s concluded the same thing: These missiles that were fired were fired no more than a mile.
They were—one looks—just from the footage one saw, they were homemade. They didn’t fit any of the nomenclature of the known weapons. And don’t think we don’t have a very good picture of what the Syrians have in terms of warheads. They have a series of warheads that can deliver chemical weapons, and we know the dimensions of all of them. And none of these weapons fit that. And so, you have a U.N. report. You have this independent report saying they were—went no more than one or two kilometers. And so, I don’t know why we’re talking about multiple-launch rockets. These are homemade weapons. And it seems very clear to most observers—as I say, even to the U.N. team that did the final report—the U.N., because of whatever rules they have, wasn’t able to say that—who fired what. They could just say—they just could describe the weapons and never make a judgment. But I can tell you, I quote somebody from inside that investigation unit who was very clear that the weapons fired were homemade and were not Syrian army. This is asked and answered; these are arguments that go on. This is—I assume it’s a blog. I don’t know the—I don’t know the blog.
SEYMOUR HERSH: But this has been going—yes?
AMY GOODMAN: And Turkey’s interest, if it were the case, in pushing the red line and supporting an attack that would be attributed to Assad—their interest in getting the U.S. to attack Syria?
SEYMOUR HERSH: Oh, my god, totally of great interest, because Erdogan has put—the prime minister of Turkey has put an enormous amount of effort and funds and others, including his intelligence service, in the disposable in the—he and Bashar are like, you know, at loggerheads. He wants to see him go. And he’s been on the attack constantly, supporting the most radical factions there. And also, I must say he’s also supporting the secular factions, the people who seriously want to overthrow Bashar and don’t want to see a jihadist regime; they just want to see a government that’s not controlled by one family, you know? But there’s no question Turkey has a deep investment in this. And it’s going badly. It’s very clear now that the Syrian army has the upper hand and is essentially—the war is essentially over. I know, I don’t like to—in terms of getting rid of Bashar, that’s no longer a done deal. There’s going to be some outpost, perhaps, in areas near Turkey where there will be various factions. They’ll be under pressure from the Syrian army all the way. But, essentially, this is a losing card we have. We don’t like to admit it, but that’s it. Bashar has held on. And whatever that means—
AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Washington, [D.C.]. We will have a link to your latest piece in the London Review of Books, headlined "The Red Line and the Rat Line." This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, 20 years ago today, the genocide in Rwanda began. We’ll go to Kigali. Stay with us.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jeremy and US v. Terrorism and Blackwater

The same day the interview with John Galtung appeared, so did the one with Jeremy Scahill.  Now there is a guy with guts.  He used to report live from Baghdad when Bush the Lesser was busy destroying the people and the civilization in order to show up his daddy.

Many of us were glad he made it out alive.

Blackwater has changed its name and moved overseas, but it is still the same scam and illegal operation it was before.  In fact, under Obama, it seems to have gotten worse.

Anyway, here it is, unexpurgated:

The Nation: Docs Reveals Blackwater-Linked Companies Provided Intel & Security to Multinationals Like Monsanto, Chevron

"Blackwater’s Black Ops"—that’s the title of an explosive new article in The Nation magazine that reveals how entities closely linked with the private security firm Blackwater have provided security and intelligence services to a range of powerful corporations over the past several years. The companies include Monsanto, Chevron, Deutsche Bank and others. Blackwater has also provided intelligence and training services to foreign governments, including Jordan, the Canadian military and the Dutch police. We speak with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. [includes rush transcript]
Jeremy Scahill, Puffin Foundation writing fellow at the Nation Institute and the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Rush Transcript

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AMY GOODMAN: "Blackwater’s Black Ops"—that’s the title of an explosive new article in The Nation magazine that reveals how entities closely linked with the private security firm Blackwater have provided security and intelligence services to a range of powerful corporations over the past several years. The companies include Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

Blackwater has also provided intelligence and training services to foreign governments, including the Kingdom of Jordan, the Canadian military and the Dutch police. In 2007, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto worked with Blackwater when she returned to Pakistan to campaign for the general elections. Bhutto was assassinated in December of 2007.

The new revelations come from documents obtained by The Nation. They show that Blackwater’s work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center. Both companies are owned by Blackwater’s owner and founder, Erik Prince.

Today also marks the third anniversary of the Nisoor Square massacre, when Blackwater guards gunned down seventeen Iraqi civilians and wounded twenty in a fifteen-minute shooting spree in Baghdad.

For more, we’re joined now from New York by investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. He’s a Puffin Foundation writing fellow at the Nation Institute. He’s a Democracy Now! correspondent and author of the book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His new article in online at

Jeremy, welcome to Democracy Now! How did you get a hold of these documents?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, Amy, as you know, journalists who do this kind of sensitive work have an obligation to protect their sources, so I’m not going to go into any detail about where these documents came from because of ethical obligations that I have as an investigative journalist to protect my sources. And we’re living in a climate right now where there is really a war against whistleblowers and others, so I prefer to leave it at that.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what you found. Tell us how many documents you got and what’s in them.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I was provided with an extensive array of documents that included internal company emails from various entities controlled by Erik Prince, including Total Intelligence Solutions, the Terrorism Research Center, Blackwater itself, documents that not only relate to these corporations that you mentioned—Monsanto, Disney, Chevron and the rest—but also documents that relate to some very powerful people that were veteran CIA operatives that worked on lethal CIA programs before coming to Blackwater.

Among them was Cofer Black, the former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, the man who after 9/11 told Congress that the gloves had come off, in terms of the tactics that the United States was using in the so-called war on terror. Another figure was Rob Richer, who is the former deputy director of operations at the CIA, and Enrique "Ric" Prado, who is a twenty-four-year CIA veteran and was a veteran paramilitary operative in the CIA’s Special Operations Group, the most lethal of the CIA entities.

And in terms of Ric Prado, what is significant about him is that Prado and Erik Prince were the two figures that set up the CIA assassination program that Blackwater was at the center of. And what the documents that I obtained show is that Ric Prado, beginning in 2007, took the network of foreign operatives that Blackwater had developed for the CIA’s assassination program, operatives that Ric Prado describes in the documents I obtained as "deniable," and therefore a "big plus" to clients that would want to hire them, and attempted to offer this network of deniable assets around the world to the Drug Enforcement Administration. And in fact, he emailed an eighteen-year veteran of the DEA who had recently come to work for Erik Prince and asked that executive if the DEA would be interested in such a network. And this eighteen-year DEA agent, who now was working for the Blackwater network of companies, told Prado that there could be interest in that and actually gave him the name of the special agent in charge of the Special Operations Division, which is a very secretive entity within the Department of Justice that’s controlled by the DEA. And this executive also suggested that attachés for the DEA in Mexico, in Colombia, in Thailand and elsewhere may also be interested. Now, I haven’t been able to confirm whether or not this network was activated and, if it was, for what purpose, but this is very, very explosive.

The other thing, Amy, that I think is really important on this CIA angle is that at one point, in one of the documents I obtained, we find that Blackwater set up a pricing chart for its services to hire people like Enrique "Ric" Prado or Cofer Black or Rob Richer to work for your private corporation or if you’re a wealthy individual. And among the services, you could pay more than $33,000 to have Ric Prado set up a—lead a four-man countersurveillance team or counterintelligence team in the United States. You could pay $250,000 to have Prado set up a safehouse for you, plus expenses. And these services were also offered in places around the globe, in North Africa, in China, Japan, Russia, throughout Latin America. So essentially what you had is CIA-type services literally being offered at a price tag, a specific price tag, being put on them. And perhaps the most interesting among them is that for $5,000 a day you could hire Cofer Black, Rob Richer or Ric Prado to represent your interests in front of national decision makers.

AMY GOODMAN: You also write, Jeremy Scahill, about what happened on this—well, three years ago—this is the third anniversary of the Nisoor Square massacre—what Blackwater did in response, the Blackwater operatives who opened fire and killed seventeen Iraqis.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, the Nisoor Square massacre was the single greatest massacre of Iraqi civilians that we know about that was committed by a US force in Iraq. And what happened is that after the Nisoor Square massacre, Blackwater engaged in a rebranding campaign, where they attempted to shake the Blackwater name. They now call themselves Xe Services or the US Training Center.

And what I think was most fascinating, in terms of this rebranding, as far as the documents I obtained, was—is that in January of 2008, Cofer Black, who was the vice chair of Blackwater and the chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions, Blackwater’s CIA, flew to Zürich, Switzerland, and he met with Kevin Wilson, who was the head of global security for Monsanto. And I actually talked to Kevin Wilson. I called him on the phone and reached him, and he seemed pretty surprised that I knew about the meeting, but he did confirm, ultimately, that he met with Cofer Black. And he told me that Cofer Black had informed him that Blackwater and Total Intelligence were totally separate entities. But if you see the email that Cofer Black sent after meeting with Kevin Wilson, he sent it to Erik Prince at Prince’s Blackwater email address and to Ric Prado at his Blackwater email address, and he told them that he had discussed with Kevin Wilson Blackwater becoming the intel arm, the intelligence arm, of Monsanto and that they had discussed using Blackwater/Total Intelligence operatives to infiltrate animal rights groups. Of course, Monsanto is at the center of many protests globally by farmers’ organizations, by animal rights activists, by environmental rights activists. You discussed earlier in the headlines this issue of hiring companies to spy in the state of Pennsylvania. So when I asked Monsanto about that, they said that no such discussion took place, but they did acknowledge that they hired Total Intelligence Solutions beginning in '08 and all the way up—working for Monsanto all the way up until earlier this year, in 2010. And they said that one of the things that they were doing for them was to monitor activists' blogs and websites on behalf of Monsanto.

The Disney corporation hired Blackwater to scout movie locations in Morocco. And in that case, Rob Richer, former senior CIA officer, and Cofer Black, both of them reactivated their contacts in Morocco from their CIA days and used those sources as a way to build a sort of report for Disney.

Deutsche Bank had them prepare—had Blackwater/Total Intelligence and the Terrorism Research Center prepare a report on countersurveillance tactics in China. And the Blackwater network of companies advised Deutsche Bank that they should not be—that they should not bring any electronic equipment when they go into China and that their executives should beware of female Chinese agents trying to get too close to them. And at one point, the analyst for Blackwater says, "If women aren’t coming onto you in the United States and they start coming onto you in China, well, then, you know something is suspicious."

Perhaps what is going to be most eye-raising for some in Pakistan about what I’ve reported is the idea that Benazir Bhutto worked with Blackwater in the months leading up to her death. There’s an email that I obtained from Rob Richer, the former deputy director of operations at CIA working for Blackwater at the time, where it is revealed that American security has been hired by Bhutto. And richer writes back—and I think it’s important to quote this exactly as he said it—he writes to the other analysts for Blackwater and Total Intelligence Solutions, and he says, "We need to watch this carefully from a number of angles. If our name surfaces, the Pakistani press reaction will be very important. How that plays through the Muslim world will also need tracking." Richer wrote, quote, "We should be prepared to [sic] a communique from an affiliate of Al-Qaida if our name surfaces," meaning Blackwater. "That will impact the security [profile]." There’s a word missing there, or there’s a typo. "We should be prepared to"—what—"a communique." It’s unclear. And the missing word or the typo there will dictate, of course, the full meaning of that message, because Benazir Bhutto was assassinated two months later. So I’m sure that this bears much further scrutiny by the Bhutto family and the Pakistani government. This really needs to be investigated, what role Blackwater had in Benazir Bhutto’s security operations.

AMY GOODMAN: You also mention Blackwater working for Chevron Corporation, a company we’ve both investigated together, Jeremy.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, it looks like Chevron was a subscriber, in some form, to the intelligence services provided by Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center. Blackwater—or, excuse me, Chevron is listed on one of the documents that I obtained that shows the list of top ten vendors for the Total Intelligence Solutions and Terrorism Research Center for their client base. But there were no specifics about what the company—the companies, Blackwater-affiliated companies, did for Chevron. That’s also the case with some of the other companies on there. And I think one of the reasons why I wanted to put this out is that I’m hoping that other journalists are going to follow up on this and really press the issue—just exactly what was Blackwater doing, particularly after the Nisoor Square massacre, for all of these powerful multinational corporations?

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break and come back. Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill is our guest. He has an explosive piece at It’s called "Blackwater’s Black Ops." Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: We’re finishing up with our guest Jeremy Scahill, independent journalist, and the piece in The Nation magazine, "Blackwater’s Black Ops." As we wrap up on this third anniversary of the Nisoor Square massacre, Jeremy, I wanted to go back to Ric Prado and the losing the secure phone line.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. There was a flurry of emails at one point in October of 2009. Clearly, someone from the CIA had contacted Blackwater and was asking them to account for their secure telephone unit. These are telephone units that are encrypted and allow conversations that cannot be penetrated or eavesdropped on, and they’re used regularly, the more current version of it—they’re called STEs—are used regularly by the NSA or the CIA, by the President himself. And, you know, clearly, the—Blackwater had been issued one of these telephones because of its covert work for the CIA, of course, the CIA assassination program, that lasted at least from '04 to ’06 involving Blackwater. And various Blackwater officials are emailing around, and they can't account for it. And people are saying, "I have no dog in this fight. I’ve left the company."

And then Ric Prado, who had left Blackwater and started his own covert operations shop called Constellation Security Group, Constellation Security Consulting—Ric Prado emails, finally, to kind of say, "Well, I’ll take care of this." And he says, "Have the OGA point of contact contact me." OGA, of course, is parlance for the CIA. It means "other government agency." Prado’s company, I think, Constellation, needs to be investigated, because he writes in these documents that he carried out operations in Mali, in North Africa, potentially involving Chad and Congo. We know, of course, that there’s increased CIA and Joint Special Operations Command activity happening on the African continent. And the role of this company, of this man who is a twenty-four-year veteran of the CIA, a paramilitary for the CIA, his company, his new company, needs to be investigated because it appears as though he’s taken some of Blackwater’s covert CIA business with him into his new company that he himself has started and now runs.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Jeremy, you’re talking about Constellation Consulting Group, or CCG. We want to thank you very much for being with us, Jeremy Scahill. The piece is explosive. It’s at Interesting you raise the issue of Blackwater spying for Monsanto, because tomorrow on Democracy Now! from here in Bonn, we’re going to speak with Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, who took on Blackwater in a big way.

    PERCY SCHMEISER: The Parliament in Cape Town of South Africa, and coming out of the Assembly, one of Monsanto’s representatives from Johannesburg ran face-to-face into us, and he lost his cool, and he said to my wife and myself—and he shook his fist in our face and said, "Nobody stands up to Monsanto. We are going to get both of you, somehow, some day, and destroy you both." Phone calls my wife would receive: "You better watch it. We’re going to get you." They would come into our driveway and watch what my wife would be doing all day. They would use their vehicles and sit on the roads alongside of our farmland, watch us all day long, to try and intimidate us and to put fear into us.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, took on Monsanto Corporation in a big way. You’ll hear his story tomorrow here on Democracy Now!, as we continue to broadcast from Bonn, Germany, where the thirtieth anniversary of the Right Livelihood Awards is being held.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Wikileaks Wins Award -- Blackwater Hides

Here is the announcement along with a slew of comments.

First, however, I forgot to mention that the New York Times felt it had a real breaking news story that Blackwater had moved to the United Arab Emirates.  No kidding?

Jeremy Scahill reported that over two months ago.  Eric Prince, a major donor to the Republican party, relocated there as the Emirates has no extradition arrangement with the United States.  So, all the people who need to prosecute or sue him, forget it.  It also helps him with his taxes.

Jeremy was one of the reporters in Iraq when it was not safe at all.  He reported for Democracy Now at the time.  He also wrote a definitive book of Blackwater and private contractors.

I do have to share a remark he recently made in the context of the idiotic nonsense over the new center in New York.  He suggested that 9:10 and 9:12 be removed from clocks because they were too close to the hallowed 9:11.

On to Wikileaks:

August 19, 2010

Julian Assange wins Sam Adams Award for Integrity

The award is judged by a group of retired senior US military and intelligence personnel, and past winners. This year the award to Julian Assange was unanimous.
Previous winners and ceremony locations:
Coleen Rowley of the FBI; in Washington, D.C.
Katharine Gun of British intelligence; in Copenhagen, Denmark
Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; in Washington, D.C.
Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; in New York City
Sam Provance, former sergeant, U.S. Army, truth-teller about Abu Ghraib; in Washington, D.C.
Frank Grevil, major, Danish army intelligence, imprisoned for giving the Danish press documents showing that Denmark’s prime minister disregarded warnings that there was no authentic evidence of WMDs in Iraq; in Copenhagen, Denmark
Larry Wilkerson, colonel, U.S. Army (retired), former chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, who has exposed what he called the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal”; in Washington, D.C.
Not sure yet where this year's award ceremony will be held, but I'll be there.
Posted by craig on August 19, 2010 12:15 PM in the category Afghanistan


Congratulations to Assange - this is a richly deserved recognition.
Posted by: Jon at August 19, 2010 12:33 PM

Great to see you back to blogging after a few days - how's the house coming on?
Posted by: John E at August 19, 2010 1:43 PM

Congratulations to Mr. Assange!! Open disclosure is an essential precondition for democracy since for a meaningful public debate to take place one has to be made aware of the facts. But it is not just democracy that benefits from the disclosures in wikileaks, but human rights and civil liberties as well. Again, well done Mr. Assange, and well done Craig Murray for so eloquently bringing your issues to the public eye.
Posted by: Roderick Russell at August 19, 2010 2:57 PM
Shame on the British government for cowering in the face of Washington's threats to Assange.
Posted by: james kenyon at August 19, 2010 3:14 PM

Assange has put lives at risk by revealing classified documents containing details about informers. In my view he has been gravely irresponsible and deserves not an award but a stiff jail sentence.
Posted by: Abe Rene at August 19, 2010 4:56 PM

Assange for the Nobel Peace Prize too.
You kept that award quiet Craig. Well done.
How is the house refit going. Are you knackered? And will we get the 'after' photos having had the 'before' set?
Posted by: somebody at August 19, 2010 5:44 PM

Posted by: somebody at August 19, 2010 5:45 PM

Is Julian Assange a hero or an intelligence operative.
Here's Webster Tarpley's analysis:
Posted by: at August 19, 2010 5:46 PM

Abe Rene
Lives are always at risk when the war mongers get their way. Not only are they at risk, they're lost on a daily basis often in staggering numbers and attended by horrendous injuries for those who manage to survive.
However, I'm sure a stiff jail sentence for Assange will ensure the war mongers can sleep safer in their beds.
Posted by: Renee at August 19, 2010 5:47 PM

John Pilger on "Why Wikileaks must be Protected":
Abe Rene, here's a paragraph:
"On 31 July, the American celebrity reporter Christiane Amanpour interviewed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the ABC network. She invited Gates to describe to her viewers his "anger" at WikiLeaks. She echoed the Pentagon line that "this leak has blood on its hands," thereby cueing Gates to find WikiLeaks "guilty" of "moral culpability." Such hypocrisy coming from a regime drenched in the blood of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq – as its own files make clear – is apparently not for journalistic enquiry."
The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
Posted by: dreoilin at August 19, 2010 6:25 PM

Yes! What excellent news.
thanks for reporting this, and good to see a post from you. What a list of fine people you share this award with. I hope your new home is coming along well.
Abe Rene
(if that really was you), Wikileaks did check the material before they released, and withheld a substantial proportion to prevent people being put at risk.
Posted by: Clark at August 19, 2010 6:29 PM

OK, so it's great to have someone like Assange, Wikileaks, and of course Craig Murray. But so what..we know most of this shit anyway and when was the last time we did anything about what these people bring to our attention.
Posted by: cid at August 19, 2010 7:19 PM

I applaud the stated aims of Wikileaks and support them 100%. And Julian Assange is clearly a bright, techno-savvy young man - but a young man with a burning ambition.
According to John Young of Cryptome (and the original front-man for Wikileaks who resigned over its astronomical fund-raising ambitions), the market for illicit, classified and otherwise confidential information is vast - and VERY lucrative indeed.
Unfortunately, big-money potential, burning ambition, and the explosive emotionally-charged nature of Wilileaks recent leaks (and potentially of those it allegedly holds in reserve) is a combination that is manna from heaven for the Spooks.
Have a look at:
For a disturbing alternative view of the Wikileaks saga. It expands on the Webster Tarpley analysis refered to at 5:45 above.
As for Abe Rene - yet another believer in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy - and an angry one too it seems. Oh dear.
Posted by: Sabretache at August 19, 2010 7:38 PM

some of us do a little, some do more. Craig does a lot. But just knowing helps - we bear witness. That the Powers That Be know this influences their decisions.
Posted by: Clark at August 19, 2010 7:56 PM

Well done to Julian Assange, keep it coming. The public should be able to make decisions on fact not fiction... I would love to say "the truth sets you free" and mean it... unfortunately for some of my friends round the world its landed them in prison for subversion...though perhaps their minds remain free...
Posted by: Carol at August 19, 2010 7:56 PM

Clark: yes, it is me. Sabretache: I ceased to believe in the tooth fairy a few decades ago. Bush and Rumsfeld's screw-up over the bad planning as well as the questionable decisions to go to war (especially Iraq) in the first place is no reason for Assange to release a great deal of material most which he admits he has not thoroughly read, let alone vetted. Most imprtantly, disclosure is not his decision to make. The informers who risk their lives do so on the understanding that anything they say will be completely secure. So I would say to Assange as would Col. Nathan Jessup to Lt. Kaffee in "A few good men", but with justice: "You put people in danger. Sweet dreams, son."
Posted by: Abe Rene at August 19, 2010 8:40 PM

Like the wiki leaks thing was not endorsed by the Good ole Obama Administration and those monkeys at the CIA. Leak?? my butt. Just grooming the sheep
Posted by: Ishmael at August 19, 2010 8:42 PM

Obama, the drone-firing Peace Laureate should hand over his Nobel Prize to Assange and apologize for embarrassing it. Thank you, Julian.
Posted by: Tony at August 19, 2010 9:04 PM

Abe Rene
Hmm - I wouldn't have gone that far but, now you mention it, your take on the issue would make a good Nathan Jessop (amoral, Orwellian "our business is saving lives", wouldn't bat an eye about killing if his childish sense of honour dictated - so long as it remained secret or he thought he would get away with it, massive ego, blind as a bat to the real issues) to Assanges Kaffee.
Nice one.
Posted by: Sabretache at August 19, 2010 9:16 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Assanges ask for the leaks to be vetted by the US Military then throw a hissy fit?
Don't get me wrong I'm all for disclosure but be careful about making this guy a saint. This is from the wikileaks twitter
"Pentagon wants to bankrupt us by refusing to assist review.Media won't take responsibility.Amnesty won't.What to do?" see "" Wikileaks whilst laudable is all about the ego of it's main man what with his never sleep in the same place twice crap. FFS have you read about the '1.4 gigabyte mystery file named "Insurance" on the WikiLeaks website' ? Have a look at
Guess it will all go the way of Google, remember "Do No Evil (unless the Chinese ask us to remove the references to a certain Square).
Posted by: Paul at August 19, 2010 9:52 PM

Abe Rene
"Assange has put lives at risk by revealing classified documents containing details about informers."
These informers, by collaborating with a foreign occupying armed force, are traitors to their own people. Is that really where your sympathy lies?
Posted by: Johan van Rooyen at August 19, 2010 10:53 PM

I can't find that Cryptome article from the Cryptome home page. Could you give a more specific reference please?
Posted by: Clark at August 19, 2010 10:53 PM

is this what you were referring to?
Posted by: Clark at August 19, 2010 11:00 PM

"These informers, by collaborating with a foreign occupying armed force, are traitors to their own people. Is that really where your sympathy lies?"
Informers are a very sensitive topic in Ireland, since we were bedevilled by them for centuries ... I remember being taught that at the age of 8 or 9. However, Julian Assange says they contacted the Pentagon beforehand, and asked them to indicate where sensitive names might be, and they received no reply. So their whining now is two-faced.
Posted by: dreoilin at August 19, 2010 11:42 PM

"John Young of Cryptome"
Is he not a one-man amateur operation?
"(and the original front-man for Wikileaks who resigned over its astronomical fund-raising ambitions)"
Assange argues that their safety, secrecy and online anonymity cost money. He says they need new staff to handle all the material they have -- which needs to be assessed and sometimes unencrypted. He claims they need people they can rely on, people who can be trusted, and they do a lot of background checks on potential employees. I imagine all that costs money.
I think his collaboration with Iceland can only be a good thing.
"The WikiLeaks advised proposal to build an international "new media haven" in Iceland, with the world's strongest press and whistleblower protection laws, and a "Nobel" prize for for Freedom of Expression, has unaminously passed the Icelandic Parliament."
Posted by: dreoilin at August 19, 2010 11:57 PM

as I understood it, Google got to supply search facilities to China by brokering a deal: the Chinese government wanted certain search results not to be displayed. Google negotiated that such results would be acknowledged with a notice reading "This information is withheld by the Chinese government" or something similar. So they negotiated a compromise that was better than nothing; the Chinese government would not have accepted Google otherwise.
Posted by: Clark at August 20, 2010 1:03 AM

I found the recent activities of Wikileaks most odd.
The US and UK governments being so corrupt must live in perpetual fear of leaks. So, how much better if they could publicise Wikileaks extensively and gather up the leaks and decide which to publish and which not to. Also they could quite easily find out the source.
Read this excellent article and see what I mean:
Hidden Intelligence Operation Behind the Wikileaks Release of "Secret" Documents?
The real story of Wikileaks has clearly not yet been told.
Posted by: Ruth at August 20, 2010 1:24 AM

nice post. thanks.
Posted by: cna training at August 20, 2010 3:37 AM

So when do you think Assange will publish documents that detail 911 being an inside job? Answer: never. They don't exist, you silly gooses.
I can't imagine how annoyed Assange gets with 911 Truthy Truthers bothering him all the time.
Posted by: Larry from St. Louis at August 20, 2010 5:30 AM

Is that the book 'How I got WTC7 Collapsed and Collected the Insurance' by Larry Silverstein?
Posted by: somebody at August 20, 2010 8:24 AM

I can't help but feel that a call to throw Assange in jail is specifically hawkish, pro-war. As has been said earlier in the thread, putting the truth-tellers in jail helps the amoral warmongers sleep soundly in their beds.
It does rather seem that WL have taken care to filter the material, along with the journalists with whom they worked. But if that is not enough for the conservatives here, what would be? To have had the material released to WL and then for it to be destroyed, or never released? Isn't that rather like telling Ellsberg he should not have released the Pentagon Papers - which were part of the building domestic pressure that ended the war against Vietnam?
Posted by: Jon at August 20, 2010 9:38 AM

Arthur Silber treats the issue of Wikileaks very well, as always. I find him one of the best and most honest bloggers.
Posted by: antidote at August 20, 2010 12:06 PM

Congrats, Julian
You deserved the award and I hope you get new ones every year.
Posted by: JOSE at August 20, 2010 1:22 PM

John Van Rooyen: 'traitor' is a loaded word. The people who work for the Americans are fighting the Taleban, who are Islamists who would impose a lunatic and oppressive regime, treat women as slaves, and give support to Al-Qaeda. My sympathies are certainly against them. Assange has high-handedly put people at risk and deserves punishment, not sympathy as far as I am concerned.
Posted by: Abe Rene at August 20, 2010 2:06 PM

I could give Abe Rene a long list of 'loaded' words connected to the illegal wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is from one of the doctors in the original group. Remember that they have been going at this for nearly seven years. I admire their tenacity throughout and their resistance to the cold water poured on them by the likes of Mangold and Aaronovitch, Blair's pals Rentoul and Campbell and even Gilligan recently. The cold water has ended up just muddying the water but has so far failed to silence those who call for justice.
Posted by: somebody at August 20, 2010 3:05 PM