Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hypocritical Crackpot Republicans Blame Obama (And Hillary) For ISIS Terrorism In Paris


When I heard that the refugee camp in Calais had gone up in flames Friday night during the terrorist attack in Paris I had two competing thoughts-- attacking the fleeing Syrian refugees was part of the ISIS plan, or that neo-Nazis from Le Pen's Front National found themselves some defenseless targets who couldn't fight back. There were around 6,000 people living there, trying to make their way to the U.K. Would rightists be so inhuman as to set a refugee camp on fire? France is in the middle of a regional election campaign and the front-running candidate in the Calais region is none other than Marine Le Pen, leader of the fascist party who hopes to be elected president of France in 2017.

Here in America, our own home-grown terrorists neo-fascists haven't set any refugees on fire yet but they have certainly been exploiting the horrors of Friday night's attacks in Paris, Ted Cruz and Trump, of course, more than the rest. They're beating up on President Obama for somehow not preventing the tragedy in France, while forgetting Bush didn't even bother to pursue bin-Laden (while Obama's administration sent him to the bottom of the Indian Ocean) and, apparently, forgetful that warnings about a certain tragedy much closer to home were willfully ignored by Cheney and Bush not very long ago. Just a few days ago, Chris Whipple, executive producer and writer of Showtime's The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs, writing for Politico, reminded Americans-- with startling new evidence-- how the Bush Administration-- which Ted Cruz was a part of-- ignored warnings from the CIA and others about the imminent dangers that are now known as 9/11.
"Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." The CIA’s famous Presidential Daily Brief, presented to George W. Bush on August 6, 2001, has always been Exhibit A in the case that his administration shrugged off warnings of an Al Qaeda attack. But months earlier, starting in the spring of 2001, the CIA repeatedly and urgently began to warn the White House that an attack was coming.

By May of 2001, says Cofer Black, then chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, “it was very evident that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard and lots of Americans were going to die.” “There were real plots being manifested,” Cofer’s former boss, George Tenet, told me in his first interview in eight years. “The world felt like it was on the edge of eruption. In this time period of June and July, the threat continues to rise. Terrorists were disappearing [as if in hiding, in preparation for an attack]. Camps were closing. Threat reportings on the rise.” The crisis came to a head on July 10. The critical meeting that took place that day was first reported by Bob Woodward in 2006. Tenet also wrote about it in general terms in his 2007 memoir At the Center of the Storm.

...The drama of failed warnings began when Tenet and Black pitched a plan, in the spring of 2001, called “the Blue Sky paper” to Bush’s new national security team. It called for a covert CIA and military campaign to end the Al Qaeda threat—“getting into the Afghan sanctuary, launching a paramilitary operation, creating a bridge with Uzbekistan.” “And the word back,” says Tenet, “‘was ‘we’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.’” (Translation: they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.) Black, a charismatic ex-operative who had helped the French arrest the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, says the Bush team just didn’t get the new threat: “I think they were mentally stuck back eight years [before]. They were used to terrorists being Euro-lefties—they drink champagne by night, blow things up during the day, how bad can this be? And it was a very difficult sell to communicate the urgency to this.”

That morning of July 10, the head of the agency’s Al Qaeda unit, Richard Blee, burst into Black’s office. “And he says, ‘Chief, this is it. Roof's fallen in,’” recounts Black. “The information that we had compiled was absolutely compelling. It was multiple-sourced. And it was sort of the last straw.” Black and his deputy rushed to the director’s office to brief Tenet. All agreed an urgent meeting at the White House was needed. Tenet picked up the white phone to Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. “I said, ‘Condi, I have to come see you,’” Tenet remembers. “It was one of the rare times in my seven years as director where I said, ‘I have to come see you. We're comin' right now. We have to get there.’”

Tenet vividly recalls the White House meeting with Rice and her team. (George W. Bush was on a trip to Boston.) “Rich [Blee] started by saying, ‘There will be significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months. The attacks will be spectacular. They may be multiple. Al Qaeda's intention is the destruction of the United States.’" [Condi said:] ‘What do you think we need to do?’ Black responded by slamming his fist on the table, and saying, ‘We need to go on a wartime footing now!’”

...Tenet, who is perhaps the agency’s most embattled director ever, can barely contain himself when talking about the unheeded warnings he says he gave the White House. Twirling an unlit cigar and fidgeting in his chair at our studio in downtown Washington, D.C., he says with resignation: “I can only tell you what we did and what we said.” And when asked about his own responsibility for the attacks on 9/11, he is visibly distraught. “There was never a moment in all this time when you blamed yourself?” I ask him. He shifts uncomfortably in his chair. “Well, look, there … I still look at the ceiling at night about a lot of things. And I'll keep them to myself forever. But we're all human beings."
One of the first candidates for Congress Blue America has endorsed this cycle is the Mayor of Garden Grove in Orange County, Bao Nguyen, not the kind of guy to align himself with reactionaries and fascists like Le Pen, Trump and Cruz. Literally, while I was writing this post, thinking about the burning camp in Calais, he sent me this message: "I am a former refugee whose family was separated to escape Vietnam illegally, while eight months in utero, from the terrors of communist oppression. As a child, I was frequently asked whether I was from the North or the South, and on occasion, I was called 'Viet Cong' or 'gook.'

"I stand in solidarity with the victims of the terrors of war and violence, no matter their race or creed. My roots run deep, always yearning for freedom, where they meet the roots of our great nation-- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. God bless America!"

"A dark portrait of America-- impotent against Islamic State militants, vulnerable against shadowy, undocumented refugees, and isolated in a world of fraying alliances-- emerged from the Republican presidential field on Saturday as candidates seized on the Paris attacks to try to elevate terrorism into a defining issue in the 2016 election," wrote Patrick Healy for the NY Times.
Leading Republicans like Donald J. Trump, Ben Carson and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called on the Obama administration to halt plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, warning that the Islamic State would leverage the Paris attacks to add recruits and raise money, said the United States needed to move immediately to assemble a stronger coalition to fight the militants.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida urged Americans to transform their “mind-set” and recognize that “an organized effort to destroy Western civilization” is underway. And Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Americans and President Obama should accept that ground troops-- up to 10,000 of them-- would be needed as part of any coalition of Middle Eastern and European countries to fight the Islamic State.

The Republicans also broadly agreed that the Paris attacks should be the catalyst for a new military strategy against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which has claimed responsibility for the carnage on Friday. “This will be coming to America,” Mr. Cruz warned. “ISIS plans to bring these acts of terror to America.”

...The most striking aspect of the remarks by the Republicans were the ominous tones and foreboding language that emphasized a kind of fortress-America outlook. Even candidates like Mr. Kasich tempered their previous support for accepting more refugees and migrants from Syria and other countries from the Middle East, reflecting fears that extremists would try to slip through any open door. (A Syrian passport was reportedly found on the body of one of the attackers in Paris.)

...The toughest language came from Mr. Cruz, who is widely viewed as rising in the Republican field after a pair of well-received debate performances. He argued, for instance, that the United States must be willing to accept civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq in order to defeat the Islamic State through intensified airstrikes.

“It will not be deterred by targeted airstrikes with zero tolerance for civilian casualties, when the terrorists have such utter disregard for innocent life,” Mr. Cruz said on Friday night. On Saturday, in an appearance on Fox and Friends, he went on to castigate the president for not being willing, in his view, to go to every length to fight terrorists. “I recognize Barack Obama does not wish to defend this country.”

Mr. Rubio, who is also ascending in the polls, also framed the Paris attacks as a matter of leadership.

“The problem is this president finds himself in a political box, a domestic political box where on the one hand he knows this is something we need but on the other hand he’s restrained by his desire to not be a president that gets us re-engaged in another Middle Eastern conflict,” he said in an interview. “But this is not a Middle Eastern conflict alone.”

As much as the Republicans were adamant that Mr. Obama had not done enough in the fight against the Islamic State, most of them were still tentative about committing more American ground troops to that effort.

Never heard any of these hypocrites criticize Bush or Cheney for "dithering" (the word Kasich used to describe President Obama) when he could have prevented 9/11. Did you?

This morning, at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald pointed out who the actual culprits who empowered ISIS are (spoiler: not Ed Snowden, who right-wingers are trying to blame). Greenwald was "surprised just by how quickly and blatantly-- how shamelessly-- some of them jumped to exploit the emotions prompted by the carnage in France to blame Snowden: doing so literally as the bodies still lay on the streets of Paris. At first, the tawdry exploiters were the likes of crazed ex-intelligence officials (former CIA chief James Woolsey, who once said Snowden “should be hanged by his neck until he is dead” and now has deep ties to private NSA contractors, along with Iran–obsessed Robert Baer); former Bush/Cheney apparatchiks (ex-White House spokesperson and current Fox personality Dana Perino); right-wing polemicists fired from BuzzFeed for plagiarism; and obscure Fox News comedians (Perino’s co-host).

...[T]here’s the desperation to prevent people from asking how and why ISIS was able to spring up seemingly out of nowhere and be so powerful, able to blow up a Russian passenger plane, a market in Beirut, and the streets of Paris in a single week. That’s the one question western officials are most desperate not to be asked, so directing people’s ire to Edward Snowden and Apple is beneficial in the extreme.

The origins of ISIS are not even in dispute. The Washington Post put it simply: “almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes.” Even Tony Blair-- Tony Blair-- admits that there’d be no ISIS without the invasion of Iraq: “‘I think there are elements of truth in that,’ he said when asked whether the Iraq invasion had been the ‘principal cause’ of the rise of ISIS.” As the New Yorker‘s John Cassidy put it in August:

By destroying the Iraqi state and setting off reverberations across the region that, ultimately, led to a civil war in Syria, the 2003 invasion created the conditions in which a movement like ISIS could thrive. And, by turning public opinion in the United States and other Western countries against anything that even suggests a prolonged military involvement in the Middle East, the war effectively precluded the possibility of a large-scale multinational effort to smash the self-styled caliphate.

Then there’s the related question of how ISIS has become so well-armed and powerful. There are many causes, but a leading one is the role played by the U.S. and its “allies in the region” (i.e., Gulf tyrannies) in arming them, unwittingly or (in the case of its “allies in the region”otherwise, by dumping weapons and money into the region with little regard to where they go (even U.S. officials openly acknowledge that their own allies have funded ISIS). But the U.S.’s own once-secret documents strongly suggest U.S. complicity as well, albeit inadvertent, in the rise of ISIS, as powerfully demonstrated by this extraordinary 4-minute clip of Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan with Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency:

Given all this, is there any mystery why “U.S. officials” and the military-intelligence regime, let alone Iraq War-advocating hacks like Jim Woolsey and Dana Perino, are desperate to shift blame away from themselves for ISIS and terror attacks and onto Edward Snowden, journalism about surveillance, or encryption-providing tech companies? Wouldn’t you if you were them? Imagine simultaneously devoting all your efforts to depicting ISIS as the Greatest and Most Evil Threat Ever, while knowing the vital role you played in its genesis and growth.

The clear, overwhelming evidence-- compiled above-- demonstrates how much deceit their blame-shifting accusations require. But the more important point of inquiry is to ask why they are so eager to ensure that everyone but themselves receives scrutiny for what is happening. The answer to that question is equally clear, and disturbing in the extreme.

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