Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Google and Israeli intelligence enthusiastically cooperated in hopes of overthrowing Syria’s government in efforts that have led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees, according to a trove of emails recently organized for release by WikiLeaks.
One email stated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s fall could lead to a religious war in the region, “which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies.”
The email, as well as a separate one describing a secret high-level effort within Google to assist the State Department in regime change for Syria, is one of the Clinton-linked emails organized by WikiLeaks into a searchable database announced last week.
These help paint a picture of the Democratic front-runner as a zealous advocate of covert activities to overthrow foreign leaders opposed by U.S. elites. Clinton is shown in a file photo as she parried GOP attacks during a House hearing in October on the 2012 killing of U.S. personnel at Benghazi, a process that was easier for her than apparent because she secretly shared certain goals with her interrogators, as described below.
The mainstream media for the most part have ignored the remarkable email revelations from recent days contained in Clinton's emails from 2009 to 2013 as secretary of state.
Only a handful of alternative and mostly web-based commentary sites have covered the story so far. Yet the emails help connect the dots from her 2003 support of the Iraq invasion as a senator to the vast suffering from regime change in Libya and Syria, including such collateral results as the refugee migration to Europe and blowback by terrorists dispersed there.
The de facto news blackout on the stories by United States media suggests also why WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange are so widely reviled by government officials and their allies in the media.
WikiLeaks enables whistleblowers to bypass many control mechanisms to suppress sensitive matters normally covered only in partial fashion by foreign policy decision-makers and their most friendly news outlets, which now include tech giants like Google (the best known subsidiary of the new parent company Alphabet).
Today's column — describing the shocking contents of the recent Clinton emails — builds on the first part of our new WikiLeaks series: Noted Swedish Journalist, Assange Critic Exposed As Police Agent, published March 20, 2016.
That segment reported how Martin Fredriksson, a prize-winning Swedish journalist known for his left-wing, pro-NATO and anti-WikiLeaks commentary, was revealed this month to have been a paid agent of Säpo, Sweden's security service.
Fredriksson, with roots also in the high-tech community, also advocated against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and urged Sweden's chapter of Amnesty International to avoid supporting Sweden's relentless pursuit of Assange for questioning regarding sex misconduct complaints arising in 2010.
The third part of our series will examine the dubious legality of Sweden's crusade against Assange, which has caused a United Nations panel last month to find that Assange's political asylum in Ecuador's London embassy since June 2012 as arbitrary detention as a violation of human rights.
Assange has denied any crime in the sexual complaints.
Also, he has accused Sweden (whose flag is shown at left) of mounting a trumped up probe so it can extradite him to the United States to face reprisal for publishing hacked emails embarrassing to United States and other diplomats. U.S. authorities have not commented on whether they have filed secret charges (as Assange claims) against him and his colleagues working for the pro-transparency site WikiLeaks.
Hillary Clinton and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt share a joke at Google headquarters at Mountain View, CA, July 21, 2014
The Clinton Emails
For years, the conservative transparency group Judicial Watch has pushed for release of Clinton records, particularly after its litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) helped show that Clinton had followed the pattern of several Republican predecessors in using a private email system as secretary of state instead of relying exclusively on a government-administered system.
Helped by many favorable court rulings, Judicial Watch has obtained and released tens of thousands of Clinton emails and has pressured for more disclosures, including those that she and her staff deleted because the emails were, according to Clinton and her team, personal and otherwise not relevant to government business.
At a Judicial Watch conference last September, President Tom Fitton (portrayed in our Justice Integrity Project photo) led its conservative panelists in arguing that Clinton deserved criminal prosecution for maintaining the private email system mishandling what should have been classified information.
That critique parallels other harsh attacks alleging that the presumed Democratic 2016 presidential nominee has been hiding corrupt financial/political communications relating to her family's Clinton Foundation and other misconduct or malfeasance, including the State Department's actions regarding security in 2012 for its Benghazi consulate.
Clinton and her defenders have denied the allegations. Among the mitigating factors they have noted is that her system did not traffic in messages that had been deemed classified and that most of the disputed messages were communications to her and not by her. Most important, they have disputed innuendos that the ongoing FBI probe of the matter is a criminal investigation, that it targets her or her close aides, or that it is likely to result in charges that would thwart her presidential race.
Our view (reported many times here) is that the attacks on Clinton by Judicial Watch and most other conservatives have failed to provide a full and accessible account to the public. The reasons? The attacks have been politically motivated to damage Clinton and her Democratic colleagues, including President Obama and former UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
Therefore, the attacks on Clinton have whitewashed or ignored many major deceits, actions, mistakes and disasters caused by Republican or conservative allies in a largely bipartisan foreign policy. In that policy, the Obama administration has until recently secretly sought to overthrow dictators in Libya and Syria in a goal congruent with both the human rights rhetoric of "neo-liberal interventionists" but approved also (and in many instances implemented by) "neo-conservatives" held over by Obama from the Bush administration in positions at the CIA, Pentagon, and State Department.
Our reporting documenting these themes includes this editor's book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters, and such Justice Integrity Project columns last year as Clinton's Benghazi Hearing Creates Fireworks On Partisan Claims and, regarding a Judicial Watch conference focused on Clinton, Watchdogs Decry 'Corrupt' DC Actions On Hillary, Immigration, IRS Issues.
The WikiLeaks Searchable Site
On March 16, WikiLeaks unveiled a website on Clinton's emails. The site enables the public bypass some of the partisan considerations and search more easily important material.
The site is here, illustrated by a WikiLeaks graphic (also shown above), and with this explanation:
On March 16, 2016 WikiLeaks launched a searchable archive for 30,322 emails & email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton's private email server while she was Secretary of State.
The 50,547 pages of documents span from 30 June 2010 to 12 August 2014. 7,570 of the documents were sent by Hillary Clinton. The emails were made available in the form of thousands of PDFs by the U.S. State Department as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. The final PDFs were made available on February 29, 2016.
As a sign of timid and time-pressured state of mainstream media, academic and think tank commentators, the major reporting arising from the WikiLeaks site as of this writing appears to be several alternative media sites. The first was the online and generally conservative Washington Examiner and reported by Rudy Takala March 19 under the headline Clinton email reveals: Google sought overthrow of Syria's Assad.
Others included the Russian news sites RT and Sputnik, and the Western alternative media sites Liberty Blitzkrieg (republished by Zero Hedge), Sign of the Times, and Antimedia.
The lack of coverage could be because there's nothing much to report. Or, it could because relatively few want to risk antagonizing others and seeming unpatriotic or otherwise non-conformist during a partisan period of widespread fears regarding terrorism and job security. Among those who might be miffed by overly aggressive and otherwise wrong-headed commentary might be Democrats, Republicans, backers of national security and pro-Israeli policies, as well as Google -- with the latter a necessary platform partner of all media, large, small and alternative.
Take a look at the documents and summaries. Decide for yourself.
Reputed Israelis Interest In Overthrowing Syria's Government
On March 19, the Russian news service Sputnik reported (via Global Research), Hillary Clinton’s Emails. A Sunni-Shiite War Would be Good for Israel and the West: Senior Israeli Intelligence Official.
The column began: The intelligence service of Israel considers a potential Sunni-Shiite war in Syria a favorable development for the country and the West, according to an email archive of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (shown in an official photo), released by WikiLeaks.
The column continued:
The author of the email, forwarded by Clinton in July 2012, argued that Israel is convinced Iran would lose “its only ally” in the Middle East if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad collapses. “The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies,” an email stated.
In addition, the author underscored that a potential Sunni-Shiite war would delay the Iranian nuclear program.”In the opinion of this [Israeli intelligence] individual, such a scenario would distract and might obstruct Iran from its nuclear activities for a good deal of time,” the email said.
The Israeli intelligence also considered the possible Sunni-Shiite war as a factor that could contribute to the collapse of the government in Iran. “In addition, certain senior Israeli intelligence analysts believe that this turn of events may even prove to be a factor in the eventual fall of the current government of Iran,” the email said.
In Signs of the Times (SOTT), blogger Brandon Martinez published an extensive analysis under the headline: Puppet Masters: Wikileaks 2012 Killary email: Secure Israeli hegemony, destroy Syria. He began:
Hilary Clinton candidly outlined US plans to overthrow Assad as a prelude to weakening Iran in a 2012 email released by Wikileaks. Clinton argued that this criminal policy of regime change in Syria was being pursued in large part to help Israel isolate Iran and thereby weaken Tel Aviv's other regional foes like Hezbollah and Hamas by strategically cutting them off "from [their] Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles."
Clinton noted, Martinez wrote, that the operation in Syria was in part designed to curtail Iran's nuclear program so that Israel could maintain its "nuclear monopoly" and thereby continue to dominate the region militarily. "The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad," Clinton wrote.
Clinton further said:
Iran's nuclear program and Syria's civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about — but cannot talk about — is losing their nuclear monopoly.
Later in the email Clinton bluntly opined: "Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel's security, it would also ease Israel's understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly." She then stated that the U.S. would achieve this by arming Syrian rebels:
Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, U.S. diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition. ... Arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.
Years later, our view here in U.S. v. Russia Proxy War In Syria Creates High Stakes For You suggested a serious threat to Americans from developments in Syria last fall.
Fortunately, Obama appears to have found the strength to resist the war escalations many of his advisors had been urging through the years, as reported in a revealing, 20,000-word overview by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic: The Obama Doctrine.
Google's Jared Cohen, Regime Change Enthusiast
Not surprisingly, the Clinton email trove contains many other sensitive items about the Clinton years, including the intersection of State Department policies and major communications companies, that appear to be off the radar screen for most of the nation's thought leaders, including reporters, academics and think tanks heavily dependent on donation or other good relations with those involved.
Few are more important than the company once known as Google, which is not only a newsmaker, prospective business partner and philanthropist, but also controls almost any entity's search results based on its secret algorithms. Importantly also: Google executives, much like other social media kingpins, heavily overlap with top government national security officials (such as CIA and NSA) and global financiers in such elite and sometimes secret entitles as the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, and Council on Foreign Relations.
Jared Cohen, born in 1981, is president of Jigsaw, formerly known as "Google Ideas." It is now under the Alphabet corporate umbrella after a corporate reorganization last year shown in a graphic courtesy of Wikimedia but is still too small a part of the Alphabet colossus to have a separate box on the chart.
A Jigsaw promotional video introduced by Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmitt describes the company's services as including help for investigative reporters and those subject to hacking attack.
An adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Cohen previously served as a member of the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff and as an advisor to the Bush administration's Condoleezza Rice and later Hillary Clinton. He focused heavily on counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, Middle East/South Asia, Internet freedom, and fostering opposition in repressive countries, including a 2006 book on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
He left the State Department in September 2010 to lead Google's "ideas" unit beginning the next month.
Cohen became close to then-Google CEO Schmidt (shown in a file photo at left), with whom he co-authored a book, The New Digital Age: Re-shaping the Future of People, Nations and Business.
Cohen remains a senior advisor to Schmidt, 60, an early leader in network integration, an early backer of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, and now the leader of the Pentagon's high tech advisory counsel. Forbes Magazine this month calculated Schmidt's net worth as $10.8 billion, ranking him No. 100 in a chart of the world's richest persons.
The gist of one Clinton email disclosure is that she received via staff a July 2012 email from Cohen in which he informed three of her top staffers that he would use his capabilities at Google to help organize dissidents seeking to overthrow Syria's President Bashar Assad, shown in a file photo.
"Please keep close hold, but my team is planning to launch a tool ... that will publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from," Cohen wrote.
"Our logic behind this is that while many people are tracking the atrocities, nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition," said Cohen, who added that Google planned secretly to give the tool to Middle Eastern media.
"Given how hard it is to get information into Syria right now, we are partnering with Al-Jazeera who will take primary ownership over the tool we have built, track the data, verify it, and broadcast it back into Syria," Cohen continued, according to an account first reported in detail by the Washington Examiner's Rudy Takala.
"Please keep this very close hold and let me know if there is anything [else] you think we need to account for or think about before we launch. We believe this can have an important impact," Cohen said. He addressed the message to Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Alec Ross, a senior Clinton advisor shown in a file photo, and Clinton's deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan.
Later, Sullivan forwarded Cohen's plan to Clinton and described it as "a pretty cool idea."
"Is this a technology company or the CIA?" wrote commentator Michael Krieger on Liberty Blitzkrieg, republished on Zero Hedge. "This sounds like a pretty huge deal, so you’d think the American media would be all over it. Not quite. In fact, the only story I’ve seen emanating from the U.S. press was published by the Washington Examiner." He continued:
Julian Assange, who founded the secret-leaking website WikiLeaks, has for years referred to Cohen as Google’s “director of regime change.” I want to once again stress the fact that the U.S. media has completely ignored this story. In fact, the only other detailed article I could find on the topic was published earlier today at RT, from which we learn the following nugget, also courtesy of Wikileaks:
In June 2010, when Syria was a country still at peace, Cohen traveled to the Arab Republic with Alec Ross. “I’m not kidding when I say I just had the greatest frappuccino ever at Kalamoun University north of Damascus,” he tweeted. Ross, in a more serious mood, tweeted: “This trip to #Syria will test Syria’s willingness to engage more responsibly on issues of#netfreedom.”
In an email dated September 24, 2010, entitled ‘1st known case of a successful social media campaign in Syria’, and which was later forwarded to Hillary Clinton, Ross wrote: “When Jared and I went to Syria, it was because we knew that Syrian society was growing increasingly young (population will double in 17 years) and digital and that this was going to create disruptions in society that we could potential harness for our purposes.”
Krieger sadly and aptly concluded:
Six years later and take a look at Syria. These are the breathtakingly disastrous results you achieve when the U.S. government and Google formulate U.S. foreign policy together behind closed doors.
Finally, for those of you who remain unaware of the instrumental role the U.S. government and it’s allies played in the creation of ISIS, I leave you with the following excerpts from last year’s post: "Additional Details Emerge on How U.S. Government Policy Created, Armed, Supported and Funded ISIS."
The US anti-Assad strategy in Syria, in other words, bolstered the very al-Qaeda factions the U.S. had fought in Iraq, by using the Gulf states and Turkey to finance the same groups in Syria. As a direct consequence, the secular and moderate elements of the Free Syrian Army were increasingly supplanted by virulent Islamist extremists backed by U.S. allies.
An Assange Appraisal
We conclude with an overview by Julian Assange, which he drew from his time as a controversial if not notorious distributor to selected mainstream media partners of government secrets submitted by whistleblowers to his team.
A certain irony exists, to be sure, in the repeated complaints by Clinton critics seeking to thwart her presidential run on the basis that she did not use a State Department system for her emails when so many government sites have been hacked. There is no evidence so far that Clinton's private system was ever hacked.
But our purpose right now is broader than that kind of petty partisanship. Google's Schmidt and Cohen interviewed Assange in 2011 for their book while he was under house arrest for sex misconduct allegations brought in Sweden under murky circumstances. Assange's impressions follow from the segment of his book When Google Met Wikileaks entitled, Google Is Not What It Seems.
The WikiLeaks' publisher described the special relationship between Google, Hillary Clinton and the State Department — and what that means for the future of the internet:
Whether it is being just a company or “more than just a company,” Google’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly enmeshed within the foreign-policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower.
As Google’s search and internet service monopoly grows, and as it enlarges its industrial surveillance cone to cover the majority of the world’s population, rapidly dominating the mobile phone market and racing to extend internet access in the global south, Google is steadily becoming the internet for many people.70 Its influence on the choices and behavior of the totality of individual human beings translates to real power to influence the course of history.
More important even than these abstract concepts, hundreds of thousands of Middle East deaths and millions of refugees have occurred because of foreign policies endorsed by nearly all of the score of 2016 presidential candidates from both the Democratic and Republican Party. This suffering was explored this week in Hillary Clinton never met a war she didn't like by Michael Collins.
Bottom line: Despite trillions of dollars in U.S. spending (an estimated $6 trillion for Middle East wars), news coverage of the Clinton email trove focuses primarily on the partisan political dimension.
Yes, partisan. In fact, little difference exists between the parties and candidates on life and death issues.
Coming next: Gross irregularities and suspected security state intervention in Sweden's sexual investigation of Julian Assange
Related News Coverage
Crusade Against WikiLeaks
Justice Integrity Project, Noted Swedish Journalist, Assange Critic Exposed As Police Agent, Andrew Kreig, March 20, 2016. A prize-winning Swedish journalist known for his left-wing, pro-NATO and anti-WikiLeaks commentary was revealed this month to have been a paid agent of Säpo, his nation's security service. Martin Fredriksson, winner of a major investigative reporting prize in 2014 for his work exposing right-wing groups opposed to NATO, has been secretly paid for years by Säpo, the Swedish Security Service, according to news reports based on his own admissions.
In deep intrigue that resembles a spy novel, Fredriksson's story undermines conventional wisdom on both sides of the Atlantic that journalists work independently from power centers, including government agencies. The tale is timely, especially because of Sweden's ongoing persecution of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange and new WikiLeaks revelations.
Guardian, Julian Assange is in arbitrary detention, UN panel finds, Esther Addley, Owen Bowcott, Jessica Elgot, Paul Farrell, and David Crouch, Feb. 4, 2016. A United Nations panel has decided that Julian Assange’s three-and-a-half years in the Ecuadorian embassy amount to “arbitrary detention,” leading his lawyers to call for the Swedish extradition request to be dropped immediately. A Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed that the UN panel, due to publish its findings on Friday, had concluded that Assange was “arbitrarily detained.” The WikiLeaks founder sought asylum from Ecuador in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations, which he denies.
Hillary Clinton's Policies On Libya Intervention
OpEdNews, "Hillary Clinton never met a war she didn't like," commentator Michael Collins (shown in file photo) interviewed by Joan Brunwasser, March 21, 2016. The presidential primaries represent a choice between tragedy and real opportunity. A Republican tragedy is guaranteed through the impending nomination of Donald Trump. The man is never wrong, even when everybody knows the truth. The Trump tragedy is guaranteed, win or lose. If he wins, we face the possibility that he might actually get elected.
If he loses the nomination, the outcome will be just as tragic. That tragedy presumes the likely Clinton nomination. An imploded Republican party with either Republican loyalists or Trump supporters sitting on the sidelines guarantees a Clinton victory.
Let's look at the essence of her public record. She voted for the Iraq invasion, the very worst foreign policy decision imaginable and the cause of over a million deaths. She either knew or should have known that the Bush White House lacked any real evidence to support the invasion. More recently, as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, Clinton was instrumental in formulating and implementing the programs to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the legitimate President of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad. Not one of these nations posed an imminent threat to the security of the United States and she knew it.
The current totals for lives lost in Libya and Syria as a result of the Clinton-supported chaos and mayhem is 100,000 people in Libya and 250,000 people in Syria. She didn't kill anyone with her own hands but her aggressive policies to create civil wars to oust Gaddafi and Assad destroyed the societies of the two nations and got a lot of people killed and injured. Libya is a failed state now. Syria has 11,000,000 displaced people with its infrastructure destroyed. I don't know exactly how many wars you need to support to acquire the label 'war monger' but I am quite sure that war efforts with 350,000 dead in Libya and Syria meets the requirement.
Telesur, How Hillary Clinton Lied Her Way to War in Libya, Mohamed Hemish, March 18, 2016. Declassified emails released in January and February reveal that Hillary Clinton was one of the main instruments in spreading chaos and extremism in Libya when the U.S. secretary of state personally pushed for the ousting of late Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. Hillary Clinton played an integral role in the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi and the destruction of the Libyan nation. Clinton’s emails reveal that she and her staff were aware that civilians they claimed to be protecting were not actually in danger from government forces.
Less than a month ahead of the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, a resolution which authorized a no-fly zone to protect civilians on March 17, 2011, Hillary's assistant, Huma Abedin (shown in a photo), in an email dated Feb. 21, 2011, stated: “Based on numerous eyewitness reports, it is the Embassy's assessment that the government no longer controls Benghazi. This is likely the case for Ajdabiyah as well."
Crucially, this email was written at a time when Clinton was aware that no government crackdown was taking place in either Benghazi or Ajdabiyah.
Clinton Emails Revealing Israeli, Google Interest In Assad Overthrow
Google's Jared Cohen at West Point, Feb. 26, 2014 (Eric Schmidt photo via Instagram)
Washington Examiner, Clinton email reveals: Google sought overthrow of Syria's Assad, Rudy Takala, March 19, 2016. Google in 2012 sought to help insurgents overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad (shown below), according to State Department emails receiving fresh scrutiny this week. Messages between former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's team and one of the company's executives detailed the plan for Google to get involved in the region.
Signs of the Times, Puppet Masters: Wikileaks 2012 Killary email: Secure Israeli hegemony, destroy Syria, Brandon Martinez, March 19, 2016. Hilary Clinton candidly outlined US plans to overthrow Assad as a prelude to weakening Iran in a 2012 email released by Wikileaks. The full email [now released and accessible] is so incriminating that I will re-print the whole thing here:
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05794498 Date: 11/30/2015
The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.
Negotiations to limit Iran's nuclear program will not solve Israel's security dilemma. Nor will they stop Iran from improving the crucial part of any nuclear weapons program — the capability to enrich uranium. At best, the talks between the world's major powers and Iran that began in Istanbul this April and will continue in Baghdad in May will enable Israel to postpone by a few months a decision whether to launch an attack on Iran that could provoke a major Mideast war.
Iran's nuclear program and Syria's civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about — but cannot talk about — is losing their nuclear monopoly. An Iranian nuclear weapons capability would not only end that nuclear monopoly but could also prompt other adversaries, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to go nuclear as well. The result would be a precarious nuclear balance in which Israel could not respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today. If Iran were to reach the threshold of a nuclear weapons state, Tehran would find it much easier to call on its allies in Syria and Hezbollah to strike Israel, knowing that its nuclear weapons would serve as a deterrent to Israel responding against Iran itself.
Back to Syria. It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel's leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests.
Speaking on CNN's Amanpour show last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak argued that "the toppling down of Assad will be a major blow to the radical axis, major blow to Iran.... It's the only kind of outpost of the Iranian influence in the Arab world...and it will weaken dramatically both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza."
Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel's security, it would also ease Israel's understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly. Then, Israel and the United States might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that military action could be warranted. Right now, it is the combination of Iran's strategic alliance with Syria and the steady progress in Iran's nuclear enrichment program that has led Israeli leaders to contemplate a surprise attack — if necessary over the objections of Washington. With Assad gone, and Iran no longer able to threaten Israel through its, proxies, it is possible that the United States and Israel can agree on red lines for when Iran's program has crossed an unacceptable threshold. In short, the White House can ease the tension that has developed with Israel over Iran by doing the right thing in Syria.
The rebellion in Syria has now lasted more than a year. The opposition is not going away, nor is the regime going to accept a diplomatic solution from the outside. With his life and his family at risk, only the threat or use of force will change the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's mind.
The Obama administration has been understandably wary of engaging in an air operation in Syria like the one conducted in Libya for three main reasons. Unlike the Libyan opposition forces, the Syrian rebels are not unified and do not hold territory. The Arab League has not called for outside military intervention as it did in Libya. And the Russians are opposed.
Libya was an easier case. But other than the laudable purpose of saving Libyan civilians from likely attacks by Qaddafi's regime, the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region. Syria is harder. But success in Syria would be a transformative event for the Middle East. Not only would another ruthless dictator succumb to mass opposition on the streets, but the region would be changed for the better as Iran would no longer have a foothold in the Middle East from which to threaten Israel and undermine stability in the region.
Unlike in Libya, a successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States. Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, U.S. diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition. It will take time. But the rebellion is going to go on for a long time, with or without U.S. involvement.
The second step is to develop international support for a coalition air operation. Russia will never support such a mission, so there is no point operating through the UN Security Council. Some argue that U.S. involvement risks a wider war with Russia. But the Kosovo example shows otherwise. In that case, Russia had genuine ethnic and political ties to the Serbs, which don't exist between Russia and Syria, and even then Russia did little more than complain. Russian officials have already acknowledged they won't stand in the way if intervention comes.
Arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach. As long as Washington's political leaders stay firm that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed, as they did in both Kosovo and Libya, the costs to the United States will be limited. Victory may not come quickly or easily, but it will come. And the payoff will be substantial. Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action on the frozen peace talks with Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon would be cut off from its Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles. All these strategic benefits and the prospect of saving thousands of civilians from murder at the hands of the Assad regime (10,000 have already been killed in this first year of civil war).
With the veil of fear lifted from the Syrian people, they seem determined to fight for their freedom. America can and should help them — and by doing so help Israel and help reduce the risk of a wider war.
Selected Updates on Clinton Email Controversies
Washington Post, Tracing the Hillary Clinton email scandal, Robert O'Harrow Jr., March 27, 2016. Hillary Clinton's email problems began in her first days as secretary of state. Frustrated that she wasn’t allowed to take her personal BlackBerry into her own office, she and her aides pushed for a solution that would enable her to use the device in the secure area.
Washington Post, ‘It’s been a secretive, bungled investigation': Conservative group goes after Benghazi panel, Elise Viebeck, March 24, 2016. A committee spokesman promised a "virtually unprecedented level of transparency" once the final report and witness transcripts are released.
U.S.-Israeli Ties On Foreign Policy
Unz Review, AIPAC is coming to town: The annual grovel begins next week, Philip Giraldi (shown below left in a file photo), March 15, 2016. Philip Giraldi, Ph.D., a frequent contributor to the American Conservative, is a former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases.
This year AIPAC, which has an annual budget of $70 million and more than 200 employees, is expecting 16,000 supporters and two thirds of Congress. It will be featuring a keynote speech by Hillary Clinton, which should be fascinating.
As Hillary and her husband Bill already constitute a fully owned subsidiary of the Israel Lobby and New York financial services interests, which often amount to the same thing, her attendance might be regarded as de rigueur.
Donald Trump will also be speaking at AIPAC, for the first time. Trump has rattled Israel’s friends in the U.S. by calling for an even handed role by Washington in Middle East peace negotiations and through his insistence that he does not need the money from Jewish mega-donors to run his campaign and “can’t be bought.” But he has also said “First of all, there’s nobody…that’s more pro-Israel than I am."
There are several things that can be done to address the wildly asymmetrical situation with Benjamin Netanyahu (shown in a file photo) and AIPAC.
First, it must be recognized that the United States and Israel are actually two separate countries with very little in the way of common interests. The notion that they have many mutual concerns is largely a myth. AIPAC, the principal purveyor of the myth, is an agent of Israel and should be compelled to register with the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, which would require it to maintain transparency in terms of who funds it. It should also be stripped of its tax exemption as it is demonstrably not an educational foundation. Taking those two steps would enable the American public to understand just exactly what AIPAC represents.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) via Common Dreams, Reporting (or Not) the Ties Between US-Armed Syrian Rebels and Al Qaeda’s Affiliate, Gareth Porter, Ph.D., March 21, 2016. A crucial problem in news media coverage of the Syrian civil war has been how to characterize the relationship between the so-called “moderate” opposition forces armed by the CIA, on one hand, and the Al Qaeda franchise Al Nusra Front (and its close ally Ahrar al Sham), on the other. But it is a politically sensitive issue for US policy, which seeks to overthrow Syria’s government without seeming to make common cause with the movement responsible for 9/11, and the system of news production has worked effectively to prevent the news media from reporting it fully and accurately.
Sputnik via Global Research, Hillary Clinton’s Emails. A Sunni-Shiite War Would be Good for Israel and the West: Senior Israeli Intelligence Official, Staff report, March 19, 2016. The intelligence service of Israel considers a potential Sunni-Shiite war in Syria a favorable development for the country and the West, according to an email archive of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, released by WikiLeaks.
Liberty Blitzkrieg, Clinton Emails Reveal Google’s Role in Attempting to Oust Syria’s Assad, Michael Krieger, March 21, 2016.
Zero Hedge, Clinton Emails Reveal Google’s Role In Attempting To Oust Syria's Assad, Tyler Durden, March 21, 2016.
Corporate Antimedia, Wikileaks Drops Hillary Email Bomb That Could End Her Campaign but FB Censored It, Michaela Whitton, March 21, 2016. On Wednesday, a major archive containing over 30,000 of Hillary Clinton’s emails were released. Though the State Department began releasing the emails in May last year — after a Freedom of Information Act request — it is the first time the messages have been made easily available in a searchable format, courtesy of WikiLeaks.
Huffington Post, AIPAC Head Gives Emotional Apology For Donald Trump Attack On Obama, Jessica Schulberg, March 22, 2016. But the group was silent on Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims. Without identifying him by name, leadership from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday condemned Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump for his attack on President Barack Obama — and the audience members who rewarded the candidate with raucous applause.
Trump delivered an impromptu jab at the president Monday night during AIPAC’s annual policy conference. “With President Obama in his final year — yeah!” he began, pausing to allow audience members to clap, cheer, whistle and laugh for nearly 30 seconds. “He may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel, believe me, believe me. And you know it and you know it better than anybody,” Trump continued, to more applause. The following morning, AIPAC president Lillian Pinkus denounced the episode, saying it ran counter to their conference theme of “Come together.”
As she continued to read, Pinkus began to choke up, visibly angered by Trump’s words, and by the applause they evoked. “There are people in our AIPAC family who were deeply hurt last night, and for that we are deeply sorry. We are disappointed that so many people applauded a sentiment that we neither agree with or condone,” she said.
Assange On Google Leadership
Wikileaks, Google Is Not What It Seems, Julian Assange (shown in a file photo). In this extract from Assange's book When Google Met Wikileaks, the WikiLeaks' publisher described the special relationship between Google, Hillary Clinton and the State Department — and what that means for the future of the internet.
Eric Schmidt is an influential figure, even among the parade of powerful characters with whom I have had to cross paths since I founded WikiLeaks. In mid-May 2011 I was under house arrest in rural Norfolk, about three hours’ drive northeast of London. The crackdown against our work was in full swing and every wasted moment seemed like an eternity. It was hard to get my attention. But when my colleague Joseph Farrell told me the executive chairman of Google wanted to make an appointment with me, I was listening.
In some ways the higher echelons of Google seemed more distant and obscure to me than the halls of Washington. We had been locking horns with senior US officials for years by that point. The mystique had worn off. But the power centers growing up in Silicon Valley were still opaque and I was suddenly conscious of an opportunity to understand and influence what was becoming the most influential company on earth. Schmidt had taken over as CEO of Google in 2001 and built it into an empire.
I was intrigued that the mountain would come to Muhammad. But it was not until well after Schmidt and his companions had been and gone that I came to understand who had really visited me.
The stated reason for the visit was a book. Schmidt was penning a treatise with Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, an outfit that describes itself as Google’s in-house “think/do tank.” I knew little else about Cohen at the time.
In fact, Cohen had moved to Google from the U.S. State Department in 2010. He had been a fast-talking “Generation Y” ideas man at State under two U.S. administrations, a courtier from the world of policy think tanks and institutes, poached in his early twenties. He became a senior advisor for Secretaries of State Rice and Clinton. At State, on the Policy Planning Staff, Cohen was soon christened “Condi’s party-starter,” channeling buzzwords from Silicon Valley into U.S. policy circles and producing delightful rhetorical concoctions such as “Public Diplomacy 2.0.”
Attacks On Clinton
Justice Integrity Project, Clinton's Benghazi Hearing Creates Fireworks On Partisan Claims, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 22, 2015. A Republican-led House committee investigating the 2012 deaths of four Americans in Libya focused heavily Oct. 22 on a prosecution-style attack on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for misleading comments and poor judgment. But it failed to address the major remaining secrets from the Obama administration's Libyan policies or to score significant new damage to the witness. Led by Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina (shown in file photo), the seven Republicans on a special House committee used much of the all-day hearing to grill Clinton in detail on her email correspondence as key to her priorities in failing to protect a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans from being killed from attackers in Benghazi.
Yet Clinton effectively parried most of their arguments by noting that the vast bulk of her information and decision-making from 2009 to 2013 involved non-email communications and that she and her top staff relied entirely on security professionals at the State Department. Democrats on the committee also noted that the CIA and Department of Defense held heavy response and other security duties for the ambassador but that the committee has not investigated CIA and defense personnel but instead focused almost entirely on the Democratic presidential front-runner, her personal staff, and friends. Gowdy had denied that the committee has a prosecution mentality, a claim undercut by his aggressive tone mirrored by his colleagues, especially Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Rep. Mike Pompeo. The CNN screenshot at left comes while Pompeo was demanding a "yes or no" answer from Clinton.
Justice Integrity Project, Watchdogs Decry 'Corrupt' DC Actions On Hillary, Immigration, IRS Issues, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 15, 2015. U.S. capital leaders operate with unprecedented bipartisan corruption that threatens the American way of life, according to a Sept. 14 address several blocks from the Capitol Building by best-selling legal commentator and former New Jersey judge Andrew Napolitano. “Expose Congress for the weaklings they are and the president for the tyrant he is,” Napolitano told a Leadership Summit on Washington, DC Corruption and the Transparency Crisis. The Fox News commentator and former New Jersey judge drew from his most recent book, Suicide Watch, and two of his WND (World Net Daily) columns, What if Hillary doesn't care? and Will deceptive Hillary get a pass?
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch sponsored the one-day conference, which primarily documented misconduct allegations against Democrats. But many speakers like Napolitano also condemned Republican leaders for lack of integrity and effectiveness in exposing scandals involving Hillary Clinton, immigration, 9/11, and the Internal Revenue Service. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton (shown in a file photo) announced that new evidence shows an inexplicable and potentially criminal five-month gap in the official emails submitted recently on behalf of Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner and former secretary of state.
Yes! Magazine, More Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: This Time, They’re Coming for Your Democracy, Sarah van Gelder, March 18, 2016. Twelve years ago, John Perkins (shown in a file photo) published his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and it rapidly rose up The New York Times’ best-seller list. In it, Perkins describes his career convincing heads of state to adopt economic policies that impoverished their countries and undermined democratic institutions. These policies helped to enrich tiny, local elite groups while padding the pockets of U.S.-based transnational corporations.
Perkins was recruited, he says, by the National Security Agency (NSA), but he worked for a private consulting company. His job as an undertrained, overpaid economist was to generate reports that justified lucrative contracts for U.S. corporations, while plunging vulnerable nations into debt. Countries that didn’t cooperate saw the screws tightened on their economies. In Chile, for example, President Richard Nixon famously called on the CIA to “make the economy scream” to undermine the prospects of the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.
If economic pressure and threats didn’t work, Perkins says, the jackals were called to either overthrow or assassinate the noncompliant heads of state. That is, indeed, what happened to Allende, with the backing of the CIA. Perkins’ book has been controversial, and some have disputed some of his claims, including, for example, that the NSA was involved in activities beyond code making and breaking.
Perkins has just reissued his book with major updates. The basic premise of the book remains the same, but the update shows how the economic hit man approach has evolved in the last 12 years. Among other things, U.S. cities are now on the target list. The combination of debt, enforced austerity, underinvestment, privatization, and the undermining of democratically elected governments is now happening here. I couldn’t help but think about Flint, Michigan, under emergency management as I read The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. (Interview shown below.)
McClatchy News, Probe launched into Pentagon handling of NSA whistleblower evidence, Marisa Taylor, March 21, 2016. Office charged with protecting whistleblowers seeks Justice Department investigation; Case involves former NSA official Thomas Drake, who was prosecuted on charges of leaking information. Thomas Drake at National Press Club, photo by Noel St. John.
A federal watchdog has concluded that the Pentagon inspector general’s office may have improperly destroyed evidence during the high-profile leak prosecution of former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake.
The Office of Special Counsel, which is charged with protecting federal employees who provide information on government wrongdoing, said its review of the handling of the Drake case had determined that there is “substantial likelihood” that there had been “possible violations of laws, rules or regulations” in the destruction of the evidence. The counsel office’s review, which was made available to McClatchy, states the allegations had been “transmitted” to the Justice Department’s inspector general for further investigation and that the Justice Department had agreed to open a probe by June 1.
Tom Dispatch/Tomgram, A Case for Demilitarizing the Military, Gregory Foster, March 15, 2016. Introduction: In the war against the Islamic State, the Obama administration and the Pentagon have been engaged in the drip, drip, drip of what, in classic Vietnam terms, might be called “mission creep.” They have been upping American troop levels a few hundred at a time in Iraq and Syria, along with air power, and loosing Special Operations forces in combat-like operations in both countries. Now, it looks like top military commanders are calling for mission speed-up across the region. (In Libya, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it already seems to have begun.)
And keep in mind, watching campaign 2016, that however militaristic the solutions of the Pentagon and our generals, they are regularly put in the shade by civilians, especially the Republican candidates for president, who can barely restrain their eagerness to let mission leap loose. As Donald Trump put it in the last Republican debate, calling for up to 30,000 U.S. boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq, “I would listen to the generals.” That might now be the refrain all American politicians are obliged to sing. Similarly, John Kasich called for a new “shock and awe” campaign in the Middle East to “wipe them out.” And that’s the way it’s been in debate season -- including proposals to put boots on the ground big time from Libya and possibly even the Sinai peninsula to Afghanistan, bomb the region back to the stone age, and torture terror suspects in a fashion that would have embarrassed Stone Age peoples.
Put another way, almost 15 years after America’s global war on terror was launched, we face a deeply embedded (and remarkably unsuccessful) American version of militarism and, as Gregory Foster writes today, a massive crisis in civil-military relations that is seldom recognized, no less discussed or debated.
Pentagon Excess Has Fueled a Civil-Military Crisis, How Civilian Control of the Military Has Become a Fantasy, By Gregory D. Foster:
- Item: Two U.S. Navy patrol boats, with 10 sailors aboard, “stray” into Iranian territorial waters, and are apprehended and held by Iranian revolutionary guards, precipitating a 24-hour international incident involving negotiations at the highest levels of government to secure their release. The Pentagon offers conflicting reports on why this happened: navigational error, mechanical breakdown, fuel depletion -- but not intelligence-gathering, intentional provocation, or hormonally induced hot-dogging.
- Item: The Pentagon, according to a Reuters exposé, has been consciously and systematically engaged in thwarting White House efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and release cleared detainees. Pentagon officials have repeatedly refused to provide basic documentation to foreign governments willing to take those detainees and have made it increasingly difficult for foreign delegations to visit Guantanamo to assess them. Ninety-one of the 779 detainees held there over the years remain, 34 of whom have been cleared for release.
- Item: The Pentagon elects not to reduce General David Petraeus in rank, thereby ensuring that he receives full, four-star retirement pay, after previously being sentenced on misdemeanor charges to two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine for illegally passing highly classified material (a criminal offense) to his mistress (adultery, ordinarily punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice) and lying to FBI officials (a criminal offense). Meanwhile, Private Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning continues to serve a 35-year prison sentence, having been reduced to the Army’s lowest rank and given a dishonorable discharge for providing classified documents to WikiLeaks that included incriminating on-board videos of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed up to 18 civilians, including two Reuters journalists, and wounded two children, and of a 2009 massacre in Afghanistan in which a B-1 bomber killed as many as 147 civilians, reportedly including some 93 children.
What do these episodes have in common? In their own way, they’re all symptomatic of an enduring crisis in civil-military relations that afflicts the United States.
Hyperbolic though it may sound, it is a crisis. The essence of the situation begins, but doesn’t end, with civilian control of the military, where direction, oversight, and final decision-making authority reside with duly elected and appointed civil officials. That’s a minimalist precondition for democracy. A more ideal version of the relationship would be civilian supremacy, where there is civically engaged public oversight of strategically competent legislative oversight of strategically competent executive oversight of a willingly accountable, self-policing military.
What we have today, instead, is the polar opposite: not civilian supremacy over, nor even civilian control of the military, but what could be characterized as civilian subjugation to the military, where civilian officials are largely militarily illiterate, more militaristic than the military itself, advocates for -- rather than overseers of -- the institution, and running scared politically (lest they be labeled weak on defense and security).
The Atlantic, The Obama Doctrine, Jeffrey Goldberg, Photographs by Ruven Afanador, March 15, 2016, April 2016 Issue. The U.S. president talks through his hardest decisions about America’s role in the world. If you are a supporter of the president, his strategy makes eminent sense: Double down in those parts of the world where success is plausible, and limit America’s exposure to the rest.
His critics believe, however, that problems like those presented by the Middle East don’t solve themselves — that, without American intervention, they metastasize.
Middle East Eye, Kerry sought missile strikes to force Syria's Assad to step down, Gareth Porter, March 14, 2016. Jeffrey Goldberg’s newly published book-length article on Barack Obama and the Middle East includes a major revelation that brings U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Syrian diplomacy into sharper focus: it reports that Kerry (shown in an official photo) has sought on several occasions without success over the past several months to get Obama’s approval for cruise missile strikes against the Syrian government.
That revelation shows that Kerry’s strategy in promoting the Syrian peace negotiations in recent months was based on much heavier pressure on the Assad regime to agree that President Bashar al-Assad must step down than was apparent.
It also completes a larger story of Kerry as the primary advocate in the administration of war in Syria ever since he became Secretary of State in early 2013. Goldberg reports that “on several occasions” Kerry requested that Obama approve missile strikes at “specific regime targets,” in order to “send a message” to Assad — and his international allies — to “negotiate peace.”
But Goldberg’s account makes it clear that Obama not only repeatedly rejected Kerry’s requests for the use of force, but also decreed at a National Security Council meeting in December that any request for the use of military force must come from his military advisers in an obvious rebuff to Kerry.
Catching Our Attention on other Global Intervention, Human Rights & Media Issues
BBC, Yemen conflict: Saudi Arabia to 'scale back' military operations, Staff report, March 17, 2016. Saudi Arabia has said its military coalition will scale back operations against rebels in Yemen. The US-backed coalition of mostly Arab states began air strikes a year ago in support of Yemen's internationally recognized government. A Saudi military spokesman (whose country's flag is shown at right) said that the coalition would continue to provide air support to Yemeni forces. The announcement came as the death toll from a strike on a market this week doubled to more than 100.
In January, a UN panel found that coalition air strikes had targeted civilians in Yemen and assessed that some attacks might constitute crimes against humanity. The Houthi rebels are fighting forces loyal to exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The fighting has killed more than 6,200 people, displaced millions and pushed the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of famine.
Consortium News, Putin Shuns Syrian ‘Quagmire,’ Ray McGovern, March 15, 2016. Gambling that President Obama will cooperate in seeking peace for Syria, Russian President Putin called back much of Russia’s military force dispatched to Syria last fall, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
Consortium News, Hillary’s Link to Honduran Violence, Marjorie Cohn, March 15, 2016. Little mentioned in the Democratic campaign is Hillary Clinton’s role in supporting a 2009 coup in Honduras that contributed to a human rights crisis, including the recent murder of a renowned environmental activist, writes Marjorie Cohn.
A critical difference between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is their position on whether children who fled violence in Central American countries, particularly Honduras, two years ago should be allowed to stay in the United States or be returned. Sen. Sanders states unequivocally that they should be able to remain in the U.S. Former Secretary of State Clinton disagrees. She would guarantee them “due process,” but nothing more. In 2014, Clinton told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, “It may be safer [for the children to remain in the U.S.],” but “they should be sent back.”