IMPEACH DICK CHENEY
--- 2009 --- After being lulled into the morning corporate media hype concerning Vice President Dick Cheney's trip to George Washington Hospital for a routine check up on his blood clot in his leg, and, perhaps with a bit of prodding from the weak-kneed House Democratic leadership, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich postponed yesterday's noon press conference where he was to introduce three articles of impeachment against Cheney. Kucinich delayed until 5:00 pm the press conference on his impeachment bills. The delay was due to what the media indicated was a mid-morning Cheney medical emergency and not a routine visit. The corporate media, as they have in the past, manufactured the importance of the Cheney doctor visit to switch attention away from the Kucinich announcement. As always, Fox News lead the way, in coordination with Cheney's office (Cheney and Fox News Managing Editor Brit Hume are close friends), and then MS-NBC and CNN followed their lead.
Kucinich's bill, which has no co-sponsors and has been criticized by the ever suspect Rahm Emmanuel, the House's chief Democratic caucus policy maker, contains three articles of impeachment against Cheney.
Article I - In his conduct while Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of Vice President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests.
Article II - In his conduct while Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of Vice President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda in order to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests.
Article III - In his conduct while Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of Vice President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States, and done so with the United States proven capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining the national security of the United States.
Several of the supporting reasons for the impeachment articles run counter to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other neo-con doctrines, which have been embraced by Emmanuel and his colleagues. These include:
- Cheney actively and systematically seeking to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United1 States about an alleged threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
- Cheney pressured the intelligence community to change their findings to enable the deception of the citizens and Congress of the United States although Preceding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq
Cheney was fully informed that no legitimate evidence existed of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
- Cheney subverted the national security interests of the United States by setting the stage for the loss of more than 3300 United States service members; the loss of 650,000 Iraqi citizens since the United States
invasion; the loss of approximately $500 billion in war costs which has increased our Federal debt; the loss of military readiness within the United States Armed Services due to overextension, lack of training and lack of equipment; the loss of United States credibility in world affairs; and the decades of likely blowback created by the invasion of Iraq.
- Cheney actively and systematically sought to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. In particular, Cheney ignored Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary No. 044-02, issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency, which challenged the credibility of information gleaned from captured al Qaeda leader al-Libi. The DIA report also cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy: ‘‘Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.’’
- Despite no evidence that Iran has the intention or the capability of attacking the United States and despite the turmoil created by United States invasion of Iraq, the Vice President has openly threatened aggression against Iran.
- Cheney's deception upon the citizens and Congress of the United States that enabled the failed United States invasion of Iraq forcibly altered the rules of diplomacy such that the Vice President’s recent belligerent actions towards Iran are destabilizing and counterproductive to the national security of the United States.
Ever since the House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974, successor Democratic-run Houses have been reluctant to support impeachment articles against Republican Presidents. House Banking Committee Chairman Henry Gonzalez had not support from the Democratic leadership for his five articles of impeachment against George H. W. Bush for malfeasance involving the first war against Iraq in 1991. There are definite similarities between Gonzalez's articles and the current situation which led to the current war in Iraq:
Article I - George Herbert Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution. U.S. soldiers in the Middle East are overwhelmingly poor white, black, and Mexican-American, and their military service is based on the coercion of an system that has denied viable economic opportunities to these classes of citizens. Under the Constitution, all classes of citizens are guaranteed equal protection, and calling on the poor and minorities to fight a war for oil to preserve the lifestyles of the wealthy is a denial of the rights of these soldiers. In all of this George Herbert Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
Article II - In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has violated the U.S. Constitution, federal law and the United Nations Charter by bribing, intimidating and threatening others, including the members of the United Nations Security Council, to support belligerent acts against Iraq. In all of this George Herbert Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
Article III - In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prepared, planned, and conspired to engage in a massive war against Iraq employing methods of mass destruction that will result in the killing of tens of thousands of civilians, many of whom will be children. This planning includes the placement and potential use of nuclear weapons, and the use of such indiscriminate weapons and massive killings by serial bombardment, or otherwise, of civilians violates the Hague Conventions of 1907 [I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XIII] and 1923, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 [I, II, III, IV] and Protocol I thereto, the Nuremberg Charter, the Genocide Convention and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. In all of this George Herbert Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
Article IV - In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has committed the United States to acts of war without congressional consent and contrary to the United Nations Charter and international law. From August, 1990, through January, 1991, the President embarked on a course of action that systematically eliminated every option for peaceful resolution of the Persian Gulf crisis. Once the President approached Congress for a declaration of war, 500,000 American soldiers' lives were in jeopardy -- rendering any substantive debate by Congress meaningless. The President has not received a declaration of war by Congress, and in contravention of the written word, the spirit, and the intent of the U.S. Constitution has declared that he will go to war regardless of the views of Congress and the American people. In failing to seek a declaration of war, and in declaring his intent to violate the Constitution in disregarding the acts of Congress -- including the War Powers Resolution -- George Herbert Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
Article V - In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has planned, prepared, and conspired to commit crimes against the peace by leading the United States into aggressive war against Iraq in violation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Charter, other international instruments and treaties, and the Constitution of the United States. In all of this George Herbert Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
On December 8, 2006, Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney introduced articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush:
Article I - FAILURE TO PRESERVE, PROTECT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION In violation of the oath of office, which reads: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” George Walker Bush, in his conduct while President of the United States has demonstrated a pattern of abuse of office and of executive privilege, and disregard for the Constitution itself. This conduct includes the following:
Manipulating Intelligence and Lying to Justify War. In violation of the separation of powers under the Constitution and his subsequent obligation to share intelligence with the Congress, George Walker Bush, while
serving as President of the United States of America, in preparing the invasion of Iraq, did withhold intelligence from the Congress, by refusing to provide Congress with the full intelligence picture that he was being given, by redacting information by, for example, removing portions of reports such as the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief, and actively manipulating the intelligence on Iraq’s alleged weapons programs by pressuring the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies to provide intelligence such that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” as revealed in the “Downing Street Memo.” To this end, President George Walker Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld created the Office of Special Plans inside the Pentagon to override existing intelligence reports by providing unreliable evidence that supported the claim that Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction posed an imminent threat to the United States of America. By justifying the invasion of Iraq with false and misleading statements linking Iraq to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and falsely asserting that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program for which it was importing aluminum tubes and uranium, these assertions being either false, or based on “fixed” intelligence, with the intent to misinform the people and their representatives in Congress in order to gain their support for invading Iraq, denying both the people and their representatives in Congress the right to make an informed choice, George Walker Bush, President of the United States, did commit and was guilty of high crimes against the United States of America.
Article II - ABUSE OF OFFICE AND OF EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE. In violation of his oath to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States,” George Walker Bush, in his conduct while President of the United States, has consistently demonstrated disregard for that oath by obstructing and hindering the work of Congressional investigative bodies and by seeking to expand the scope of the powers of his office.
Article III - FAILURE TO ENSURE THE LAWS ARE FAITHFULLY EXECUTED In violation of his duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States of America to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” George Walker Bush, during his tenure as President of the United States, has violated the letter and spirit of laws and rules of criminal procedure used by civilian and military courts, and has violated or ignored regulatory codes and practices that carry out the law.
The principles of such Democratic Representatives as Henry Gonzalez, Cynthia McKinney, and Dennis Kucinich to holding Republican Presidents to their oaths of office have consistently and systematically been derailed and derided by successive House Democratic leaders, from Tom Foley and Lee Hamilton to Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Rahm Emmanuel.
Y'ALL gotta start thinking on a different level- like the CIA does. We're through the looking glass. Here white is black and black is white." Welcome to the New, "New Middle East" 2nd edition....
From David Halevy in Time Magazine in 1982, to Barbara Newman, and from
USCFL to local Lebanese and other International creepy actors and seedy players,
Mr. Elie Hobeika bore the brunt for 20 years, single-handedly, of a skilled Disinformation
Machine,like no other. In other words, during Times of WAR,and in "Peace Times"
of the NEOCONS,MOSSAD,(FDDC),& DOD's OSP,CIA,... THE TRUTH is the first Victim, in Lebanon and way Beyond.
"The significance of this masterpiece is not only the divulsion of facts, but the focus it's made on the covert cooperation between the parties who are skillfully playing enemies .... ".
It takes very little courage to go to war. It takes a lot of courage not to go to war.
For forty years, Seymour Hersh has been America’s leading investigative reporter. His latest scoop? The White House’s secret plan to bomb Iran...
"Rolling Stone" 04/02/07 -- -- - On May 29th, 1975, an aide to then-White House chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld sat down with a yellow legal pad and in careful longhand sketched out a list of possible responses to a damaging investigative report in The New York Times. "Problem," the aide wrote. "Unauthorized disclosure of classified national security information by Sy Hersh and the NYT." He then laid out five options, ranging from the most ominous (an FBI investigation of the newspaper and a grand jury indictment) to the least offensive ("Discuss informally with NYT" and "Do nothing"). Number three on the list, however, read, "Search warrant: to go after Hersh papers in his apt."
The note's author? A viper-mean Beltway apparatchik named Dick Cheney, who was making his name doing damage control for the Republican White House after the Watergate disaster. Coming so soon after Nixon was burned at the public stake for similar targeting of political enemies, the Cheney memo was proof that the next generation of GOP leaders had emerged from the Watergate scandal regretting only one thing: getting caught.
This year, an almost identical note in Cheney's same tight-looped, anal script appeared as a key piece of evidence in the trial of another powerful White House aide, Scooter Libby. The vice president's handwritten ruminations on how best to dispose of an Iraq War critic named Joe Wilson are an eerie reminder of how little has changed in America in the past three decades. Then as now, we have been dragged into a bloody massacre in the Third World, paying the bill for the operation with the souls and bodies of the next generation of our young people. It is the same old story, and many of the same people are once again in charge.
But some of the same people are on the other side, too. In the same week that Libby was convicted in a Washington courthouse, Seymour Hersh outlined the White House's secret plans for a possible invasion of Iran in The New Yorker. As amazing as it is that Cheney is still walking among us, a living link to our dark Nixonian past, it's even more amazing that Hersh is still the biggest pain in his ass, publishing accounts of conversations that seemingly only a person hiding in the veep's desk drawer would be privy to. "The access I have -- I'm inside," Hersh says proudly. "I'm there, even when he's talking to people in confidence."
America's pre-eminent investigative reporter of the last half-century, Hersh broke the story of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and was on hand, nearly four decades later, when we found ourselves staring back at the same sick face in the mirror after Abu Ghraib. At age seventy, he clearly still loves his job. During a wide-ranging interview at his cramped Washington office, Hersh could scarcely sit still, bouncing around the room like a kindergartner to dig up old articles, passages from obscure books and papers buried in his multitudinous boxes of files. A hopeless information junkie, he is permanently aroused by the idea that corruption and invisible power are always waiting to be uncovered by the next phone call. Somewhere out there, They are still hiding the story from Us -- and that still pisses Hersh off.
During the Watergate years, you devoted a great deal of time to Henry Kissinger. If you were going to write a book about this administration, is Dick Cheney the figure you would focus on?
Absolutely. If there's a Kissinger person today, it's Cheney. But what I say about Kissinger is: Would that we had a Kissinger now! If we did, we'd know that the madness of going into Iraq would have been explained by something -- maybe a clandestine deal for oil -- that would make some kind of sense. Kissinger always had some back-channel agenda. But in the case of Bush and this war, what you see is what you get. We buy much of our fuel from the Middle East, and yet we're at war with the Middle East. It doesn't make sense.
Kissinger's genius, if you will, was that he figured out a way to get out. His problem was that, like this president, he had a president who could only see victory ahead. With Kissinger, you have to give him credit: He had such difficulties with Nixon getting the whole peace package through, but he did it. Right now, a lot of people on the inside know it's over in Iraq, but there are no plans for how to get out. You're not even allowed to think that way. So what we have now is a government that's in a terrible mess, with no idea of how to get out. Except, as one of my friends said, the "fail forward" idea of going into Iran. So we're really in big trouble. Real big trouble here.
Is what's gone on in the Bush administration comparable or worse than what went on in the Nixon administration?
Oh, my God. Much worse. Bush is a true radical. He believes very avidly in executive power. And he also believes that he's doing the right thing. I think he's a revolutionary, a Trotsky. He's a believer in permanent revolution. So therefore he's very dangerous, because he's an unguided missile, he's a rocket with no ability to be educated. You can't change what he wants to do. He can't deviate from his policy, and that's frightening when somebody has as much power as he does, and is as much a radical as he is, and is as committed to democracy -- whatever that means -- as he is in the Mideast. I really do believe that's what drives him. That doesn't mean he's not interested in oil. But I really think he thinks democracy is the answer.
A lot of people interpreted your last article in "The New Yorker" as a prediction that we're going into Iran. But you also make clear that the Saudis have reasons to keep us from attacking Iran.
I've never said we're going to go -- just that the planning is under way. Planning is planning, of course. But in the last couple of weeks, it has become nonstop. They're in a position right now where the president could wake up and scratch his, uh --
His nose, and say, "Let's go." And they'd go. That's new. We've made it closer. We've got carrier groups there. It's not about going in on the ground. Although if we went in we'd have to send Marines into the coastal areas of Iran to knock out their Silkworm missile sites.
So the notion that it would just be a bombing campaign isn't true at all?
Oh, no. Don't forget, you'd have to take out a very sophisticated radar system, and a guidance system for their missiles. You'd have to knock out the ability of the Iranians to get our ships.
So this is the "fail forward" plan?
I think Bush wants to resolve the Iranian crisis. It may not be a crisis, but he wants to resolve it.
The other implication of your piece is that we went into Iraq as a response to Sunni extremism, and now we are realigning ourselves with Sunni extremists to fight the Shiites. Is it really that simple? Are we really that stupid?
From what I gather, there's no real mechanism in the administration for looking at the downside of things. In the military, when they do a major study, they say something like "We give it to you with the pluses and minuses." They usually show it to you warts and all. But these guys in the White House don't want the warts. They just want the good side. I don't think they know all of the consequences.
This seems to be something that Bush has in common with Nixon: the White House ignoring everyone and seeking to become a government unto itself.
One of the things this administration has shown us is how fragile democracy is. All of the institutions we thought would protect us -- particularly the press, but also the military, the bureaucracy, the Congress -- they have failed. The courts . . . the jury's not in yet on the courts. So all the things that we expect would normally carry us through didn't. The biggest failure, I would argue, is the press, because that's the most glaring.
In the Nixon years, you had the press turning against the Vietnam War after the Tet Offensive, you had Watergate, you had all these reasons why the press became involved in bringing the Nixon administration to an end. But it hasn't performed that function in Bush's case. Why do you think that is?
I don't know. It's very discouraging. I've had conversations with senior people at my old newspaper, the Times, who know that there are serious problems there. It's not that they shouldn't run the stories that they run. They run stories that represent the government's view, because there are people at the Times who have access to senior people in the government. They see the national security adviser, they see Condoleezza Rice, and they have to reflect their view. That's their job. What doesn't get reported is the other side. What I always loved about the Times when I worked there is that I could write what the kiddies down the line said. But that doesn't happen now. You're not getting broad, macro coverage from the White House that represents anything like opposition. And there is opposition -- the press just doesn't know how to deal with it.
But why isn't there more of an uproar by the public at atrocities committed by American troops? Have people become inured to those stories over the years?
I just think it's because they are Iraqis. You have to give Bill Clinton his due: When he bombed Kosovo in 1999, he became the first president since World War II to bomb white people. Think about it. Does that mean something? Is it just an accident, or is it an inevitable byproduct of white supremacy? White man's burden? You tell me what it is, I don't know.
You talk a lot about the similarities between Iraq and Vietnam: how Lynndie England is the new Lt. Calley, how it's lower-middle-class white kids from America killing nonwhite people overseas. Yes, there's this similarity -- but why is this same kind of war happening again? Is this a pattern that's built into the way our government works?
I don't know. Why would you go to war when you don't have to go to war? It takes very little courage to go to war. It takes a lot of courage not to go to war.
I once had a friend -- this was thirty years ago -- from a major university. He studied the scientific problem the government had of detecting underground missile tests in Russia. It took him a couple of years, but he solved the problem. At that point the Joint Chiefs of Staff was against any treaty with the Russians on testing, because we couldn't detect when they cheated. My friend attended a meeting of the Joint Chiefs and demonstrated conclusively that there was a technical way of monitoring missile explosions inside Russia, even without being on-site. But when the meeting was over, the Joint Chiefs just issued a sigh and said, "Well, we better go back to a political objection to the treaty now." Where there had been a scientific objection to a treaty, now there was a political objection. So you begin to see that pushing for peace is very hard. There is safety in bombing, rather than negotiating. It's very sad.
Did America learn anything from Vietnam? Was there a lesson in the way that war ended that could have prevented this war from starting?
You mean learn from the past? America?
No. We made the same dumb mistake. One of the arguments for going into Vietnam was that we had to stop the communist Chinese. The Chinese were behind everything -- we saw them and North Vietnam as one and the same. In reality, of course, the Chinese and the Vietnamese hated each other -- they had fought each other for 1,000 years. Four years after the war ended, in 1979, they got into a nasty little war of their own. So we were totally wrong about the entire premise of the war. And it's the same dumbness in this war, with Saddam and the terrorists.
On the other hand, I would argue that some key operators, the Cheney types, they learned a great deal about how to run things and how to hide stuff over those years.
From the press?
Oh, come on, how hard is it to hide things from the press? They don't care that much about the straight press. What these guys have figured out is that as long as they have Fox and talk radio, they're OK in the public opinion. They control that hard. It kept the ball in Iraq in the air for a couple of years longer than it should have, and it cost Kerry the presidency. But now it's over -- Iraq's done. A lot of the conservatives who promoted the war are now very much against it. Some of the columnists in this town who were beating the drums for that war really owe an apology. It's a sad time for the American press.
What can be done to fix the situation?
[Long pause] You'd have to fire or execute ninety percent of the editors and executives. You'd actually have to start promoting people from the newsrooms to be editors who you didn't think you could control. And they're not going to do that.
What's the main lesson you take, looking back at America's history the last forty years?
There's nothing to look back to. We're dealing with the same problems now that we did then. We know from the Pentagon Papers -- and to me they were the most important documents ever written -- that from 1963 on, Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon lied to us systematically about the war. I remember how shocked I was when I read them. So . . . duh! Nothing's changed. They've just gotten better at dealing with the press. Nothing's changed at all....
* Al-Akhbar report of FEB. 8th to confirm this story, Re Victor BOUT,
who is a "ROGUE" sub-contractor , a cut-out for Israeli and AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE... See below. Russian-Israeli Mafia Networks....
That's why the FSB knows so much about Lebanon's assassinations and
"has" demanded to disclose to the UN the 10 countries who are NOT
cooperating with Serge Brammertz , the UN commissioner.
الحريري في دبي: استذكار يلامس الأسرار
بين خبر توقيع الأمانة العامة للأمم المتحدة نظام المحكمة الدولية، وارتقاب الذكرى السنوية الثانية لجريمة 14 شباط 2005، ثمة حضور قوي جداً في دبي، لرفيق الحريري، كما للفريق الوارث له بعد اغتياله. ذلك أن ذاكرة الأوساط الخليجية، وخصوصاً ذاكرة الأوساط اللبنانية في دبي، زاخرة بالمعلومات والتفاصيل والأسرار والقراءات. والأهم أن جزءاً من هذه الذاكرة يعيد إلقاء الضوء على ما سبق، فيما جزء آخر يشي ببعض المستور من أحداث اليوم.
أوساط خليجية واسعة الاطلاع، لا تنفك تسأل الآتي من بيروت، عن طبيعة الائتلاف الذي اسمه «فريق 14 آذار». ما الذي يجمع بين شخصياته؟ كيف تبدلت اقتناعات مكوناته؟ وكيف الرهان على استقرار مثل هذه الطبيعة الهجينة، وبالتالي استمرارها؟
وتكرّ لائحة الاستذكار: تروي الأوساط نفسها أنه عام 2003 كان الحريري رئيساً للحكومة في لبنان، وكان في دبي سباق سنوي للقوارب. دارت الاتصالات والمساعي، لترسو على رغبة متبادلة بين المنظمين هنا وبين أهل السرايا الكبيرة في بيروت، ليكون السباق المذكور برعاية الحريري. أجريت الترتيبات اللازمة وبدأت التحضيرات. فجأة خرج أحد اللبنانيين العاملين في دبي بمعركة شرسة للحؤول دون حصول المناسبة، طارحاً رفضه ورفض من يمثّل للفكرة، ومصرّاً على ألا يكون السباق برعاية الحريري، بل برعاية إميل لحود بالذات. وذلك على خلفية دعم رئيس الجمهورية في معركته ضد رئيس حكومته، عام 2003 وعام 2004 وفي السنوات التي تليهما. وكانت كلفة الرعاية، وبالتالي استبدالها، نحو 250 ألف دولار، أكد «المدافع الرئاسي» استعداد فريقه لتوفيرها... وتروح الأوساط نفسها تسترجع الوثائق التي في حوزتها عن الواقعة، والرسائل المتبادلة والمواقف المثبتة بأقلام المعنيين وتواقيعهم... قبل أن تختم بمغزى «السالفة»، وخلاصتها أن اللبناني نفسه الذي خاض المعركة لمصلحة لحود ضد الحريري قبل أقل من أربعة أعوام، تحوّل بعد سنة ونيف فقط، مرشحاً على لائحة حريرية شمالية بامتياز، وهو نفسه اليوم ناطق حزبي مفوّه، من مسيحيي فريق 14 آذار، متخصص في قصف لحود وتمديده غير الشرعي.
يسأل أهل دبي عن مثل تلك المفارقات، قبل أن يعرضوا لاغتيال الحريري. يتحفّظون عن التحليل والاستنتاج، لكنهم لا ينسون يوم 14 كانون الأول 2004. كان رئيس الحكومة الراحل قد خرج لتوه من السرايا، بعد اقتراعه مع فريقه للتمديد للحود، وبعد الصراع على تأليف الحكومة الأولى لنصف العهد الجديد. في ذلك النهار اختار الحريري أن يحل ضيفاً في دبي على المنتدى الاقتصادي العربي. وقف خطيباً، وفي الصف الأول من الحضور الرئيس الأميركي السابق بيل كلينتون، وخلفه حشد من أعضاء مراكز الدراسات في واشنطن. حوّل الحريري كلمته من تطورات بيروت الى أحداث بغداد، التي كانت تتحضّر لانتخاباتها العامة «الأميركية» الأولى. ووسط مفاجأة الجميع، أطلق الحريري سلسلة انتقادات للإدارة الأميركية للملف العراقي، وخصوصاً لقانون الانتخابات المجحف في حق «بعض» الجماعات العراقية. فمال أحد الجالسين في الصف الثاني خلف كلينتون الى أذن جاره هامساً: الأكيد أن ثمة من لن يعجبه هذا الكلام في واشنطن...
وتتابع أوساط دبي كلامها على لبنان والحريري، لتكشف أن ثمة فعلاً ما كان موضع اتصالات واستفسارات بين جهات خليجية رسمية، ولجنة التحقيق الدولية في جريمة 14 شباط 2005. هل صحيح، إذاً، أن بعض دول المنطقة معني بلائحة الدول العشر غير المتعاونة مع اللجنة في تحقيقاتها؟ تسارع الأوساط نفسها الى النفي، كاشفة أن المسألة الوحيدة التي كانت موضع بحث جدي في هذا السياق، هي تلك المتعلقة بإحدى المافيات الأوروبية، وخصوصاً بأحد زعمائها من مالكي شبكة طائرات مشبوهة، وذلك في إطار التدقيق في طريقة انتقال سيارة الـ«ميتسوبيشي» الآثمة، من اليابان الى لبنان، عبر إحدى دول الخليج. وبذلك تؤكد الأوساط نفسها صدقية التحقيق الذي كانت «الأخبار» أول من أشار إليه في تحقيق نشرته قبل أسابيع. لكن الأهم أن الأوساط نفسها تؤكد بذلك أن نظرية دخول مافيا دولية ما، على خط اغتيال الحريري، على الأقل لجهة نقل السيارة الجانية، هي إحدى الحلبات التي يحاول التحقيق سبرها.
ولا تنسى الأوساط الخليجية نفسها التعليق ختاماً على نهج الحكم في بيروت اليوم: هل يعقل أن يبادر بعض جهات السلطة اللبنانية اليوم، ومن خارج القنوات الرسمية والقانونية، الى الطلب بإلحاح من جهات خليجية رسمية، مراقبة أنشطة بعض اللبنانيين المقيمين على أراضي الأخيرة، لمجرد أن هؤلاء من المعارضين للفريق الحاكم في لبنان؟ هل يعقل أن تبلغ المطالبة أحياناً حد الإصرار على استدعاء هؤلاء أو التضييق عليهم أو إفهامهم بضرورة التخلي عن اقتناعاتهم المعارضة والامتناع عن دعمهم للسياسيين المعارضين؟ وهل هذا ما يحصل فعلاً؟ تؤكد الأوساط نفسها في دبي أن الطلبات فعلاً قد وُجّهت وتُوجّه كل يوم، غير أن السلطات الرسمية في الدول الخليجية لم تتجاوب معها، ولم تلبِّ مطالب أهل السلطة في لبنان لحسن الحظ، وهو ما يسجل حقاً لمصلحة أنظمة هذه الدول، وما يجب أن يسجل على سلطة بيروت. لكن الأكيد أن أشخاص هذه السلطة يملكون مناعة ما، حيال كل تسجيلات الماضي والحاضر، فماذا عن المستقبل؟
Richard Chichakli, a Syrian-born naturalized American citizen who lives in Dallas.... helps run Bout's many air-cargo companies. Chichakli, an accountant, calls himself a former business associate of Bout and his ''friend and brother.''
Victor BOUT told me that he is frequently warned by the United States about assassination plots against him.?
Whether BOUT and CHICHAKLI the SYRIAN worked independently or for the K.G.B. or for the C.I.A. or for the MOSSAD... (I was told all three)...
The emirate of Sharjah, with its notorious ''airport of convenience'' for planes registered in countries like the Central African Republic and Liberia. It was here that he met Chichakli, who was the founding director of Sharjah's free-trade zone. (Chichakli says he is a nephew of the former president of Syria and the son of a former Syrian under secretary of defense; he also did a stint in the U.S. Army and ''trained in aviation and intelligence,'' he told me. He agreed that he seemed overqualified for his work as a Dallas C.P.A.....) I.E. "CIA".
Behind us sat four Israeli men who may or may not have been listening. Chichakli, who says he speaks Hebrew, said they were waiting for a phone call to confirm a deal for diamonds....
Victor Bout, by most accounts the world's largest arms trafficker, had agreed to meet me in the lounge of the Renaissance Hotel in Moscow, a monolithic post-Soviet structure populated by third-tier prostitutes and men in dark suits. Bout's older brother, Sergei, waited with me, as did Richard Chichakli, a Syrian-born naturalized American citizen who lives in Dallas. Sergei helps run Bout's many air-cargo companies. Chichakli, an accountant, calls himself a former business associate of Bout and his ''friend and brother.''
As we waited, Chichakli tried to discourage me from pressing Bout about his connections, suggesting that there were some things I didn't want to know. ''They'll put you on your knees before they execute you,'' he said. Then he nodded toward the doorway. ''Here he comes. Does he look like the world's largest arms dealer to you?''
Bout, who is 36, six feet tall and somewhat expansive in girth, nimbly made his way through the crowded lounge. He didn't shake my hand as much as grip it, with a firm nod. Icy blue eyes like chips of glass punctuated a baby face. We sat on one of the lounge's dingy couches, and he placed a thick folder of papers on his lap.
''Look, here is the biggest arms dealer in the world,'' Chichakli said, half mocking me and half mocking Bout. Bout opened his blazer. ''I don't see any guns,'' he said with a shrug. Then Sergei raised his arms. ''None here either.'' (Both spoke excellent English.) ''Maybe I should start an arms-trafficking university and teach a course on U.N. sanctions busting,'' Victor Bout said. The brothers looked at each other and laughed.
No one in the lounge seemed to be paying attention to Bout. Behind us sat four Israeli men who may or may not have been listening. Chichakli, who says he speaks Hebrew, said they were waiting for a phone call to confirm a deal for diamonds.
Bout leaned forward. ''I woke up after Sept. 11 and found I was second only to Osama.'' He put his hand on the papers. The truth, he said, was much bigger than his personal story. ''My clients, the governments,'' he began. Then, ''I keep my mouth shut.''
Later he said, ''If I told you everything I'd get the red hole right here.'' He pointed to the middle of his forehead.
The world of the arms trafficker often feels like the script of a bad Hollywood thriller come to life. At times you are tempted to laugh at the B-movie dialogue and cloak-and-dagger intrigue. But the political and financial stakes are high. And, as a Western intelligence agent in Moscow told me, this isn't celluloid, and the dangers are of a much more complicated sort.
In the summer of 1999, faced with multiple conflicts in West and Central Africa, the National Security Council authorized electronic surveillance of government and militia leaders in war zones like northeast Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Every morning, N.S.C. officials cross-referenced transcripts of overheard telephone conversations with American satellite imagery and with field reports by British spies on the ground. The documentation was massive, without obvious patterns, until, finally, astute analysts noticed that every conflict had something in common: Victor Bout.
The name surfaced in various permutations, and always in one of three contexts: airplanes, diamond transport or weapons shipments. Gayle Smith, the N.S.C.'s top Africanist, whose staff uncovered the Bout connection, sent an e-mail message to her fellow N.S.C. members: ''Who is this guy? Pay close attention to this. He's all over the place.''
An answer was provided by a C.I.A. aviation expert from Langley, who showed up at the White House with covert photographs shot at various African jungle airstrips between 1996 and 1999. The photos, according to a former White House official who studied them, show different Antonovs and Ilyushins, Russian cargo planes built to land on (and escape from) almost any surface.
In the pictures, the planes' bellies are open. African militiamen in fatigues are off-loading crates of weapons. One photo shows a younger Bout standing before one of the planes. The White House official said the planes were traced to Bout.
''Bout was brilliant,'' Gayle Smith said recently. ''Had he been dealing in legal commodities, he would have been considered one of the world's greatest businessmen. He's a fascinating but destructive character. We were trying to bring peace, and Bout was bringing war.''
C.I.A. and MI6 agents on the ground in Africa first picked up Bout's scent in the early 1990's, when his fleet of planes began crisscrossing the continent. In the early days, they transported gladiolas; later, frozen chickens and then diamonds, mining equipment, Kalashnikov assault rifles, bullets, helicopter gunships and even, Bout says, U.N. peacekeepers, French soldiers and African heads of state. The names of the men Bout came to count as his personal friends and customers included Massoud, Mobutu, Savimbi, Taylor, Bemba. It was not until the summer of 2000 that the N.S.C. realized it had stumbled on not only the most prolific arms trafficking operation in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan but probably the best connected (and protected) private-weapons transport and brokering network in the world. Smith and others took their information to Richard C. Clarke, then the chief of counterterrorism for the N.S.C. ''Get me a warrant,'' Clarke responded.
But because Bout's reputed crimes were committed outside United States borders, the N.S.C. had no U.S. law to use on him. Instead, the N.S.C. initiated an operation that drew on the resources of intelligence agencies in at least seven countries and sparked cabinet-level diplomacy on four continents. Belgium issued its own warrant for Bout's arrest a year later -- not for arms trafficking but for crimes related to money laundering and diamond smuggling. In the end, the pursuit failed. Victor Bout is still at large, a fugitive from international justice. But unlike Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, he lives in plain sight -- in Moscow, under the apparent protection of a post-Communist system that has profited from his activities as much as he has.
He has also evaded journalists, U.N. investigators and watchdog organizations like Human Rights Watch. Until now, the only publicly available photo of him was secretly taken by a Belgian journalist in March 2001 on an airstrip in Congo. His only statements have been brief denials of his role in arms trafficking. He walked out of a CNN interview in March 2002. That same month, six weeks after a Los Angeles Times article connected Bout to shipments of arms and recruits to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, he released a statement in which he described himself as a father, husband, entrepreneur -- and a scapegoat. Since then, he has been silent.
Though Bout denies his involvement in arms trafficking, he has been persistently and publicly linked to weapons shipments, charges supported by paper and money trails, confessions, eyewitness accounts and multiple intelligence reports. The longer Bout has remained out of the reach of international law, the bigger his legend has grown. In many ways, he is now the public face of a giant international criminal structure.
In the eight months between the time I first asked Bout for an interview and when he finally granted it, I came to understand the general shape of the political and criminal twilight that conceals the commerce of arms trafficking. In June, I laid out some of what I believed in a letter. Two days later, Bout called and asked me to come to Moscow.
Flowers, that's where it all started,'' Chichakli said. It was midnight, and we had moved on from the hotel lounge to an Italian restaurant in downtown Moscow full of people drinking vodka and eating pasta and pizza. Bout ordered a carrot juice and an arugula salad. ''He's a vegetarian,'' Chichakli said. ''He's an ecologist. He believes in saving the rain forest.''
Bout nodded. ''I've been given a chance to reinvent myself.'' It was not immediately clear why he had chosen to see me. He seemed intrigued by his legend, yet wanted simultaneously to fan it and diminish it.
Over the previous 10 years, he explained, whenever he accompanied one of his planes into the remote jungles of Africa, he spent time photographing wildlife and studying isolated African tribes. ''In the middle of nowhere, you feel alive, you feel part of nature.'' His favorite authors, he told me, were the New Age novelists Paulo Coelho and Carlos Castaneda. ''What I really want to do now is to take one of my helicopters to the Russian Arctic north and make wildlife films for National Geographic and the Discovery channel.'' When Chichakli leaned forward, I noticed that the label on his tie said ''Unicef.'' He gestured toward Bout. ''He gives Unicef money.'' We all laughed; I suspect for different reasons.
Chichakli began rehearsing Bout's career for my benefit. He struck his first business deal in 1992, when he was 25. He bought three Antonov cargo planes for $120,000 and then brokered their services for long-haul flights from Moscow, leasing the planes both ''wet'' (with a crew) and ''dry'' (plane only). His maiden voyage was to Denmark.
''I never had investors,'' Bout said. But where does a 25-year-old Russian get that kind of start-up money? I asked. ''It was never difficult finding money,'' he said, refusing to say more.
In 1993, he moved his operations to the United Arab Emirates, a critical trade and transportation hinge between Asia, Africa and Europe. Newly rich Russians eager to spend their dollars had begun to flock to Dubai to shop duty-free. ''They bought everything from pencils to cars to electronics to Ikea furniture,'' Bout said. ''I saw a gap in the transport market and flew it all back for a premium.'' Business really started to boom when he began filling his planes with South African gladiolas. ''Vic bought a day-old flower for $2 and sold it in Dubai for $100,'' Chichakli said. ''Twenty tons per flight. It's better than printing money.''
Bout made his base the emirate of Sharjah, with its notorious ''airport of convenience'' for planes registered in countries like the Central African Republic and Liberia. It was here that he met Chichakli, who was the founding director of Sharjah's free-trade zone. (Chichakli says he is a nephew of the former president of Syria and the son of a former Syrian under secretary of defense; he also did a stint in the U.S. Army and ''trained in aviation and intelligence,'' he told me. He agreed that he seemed overqualified for his work as a Dallas C.P.A.)
By 1996, Bout was running the biggest of the emirate's 160 air-cargo companies, employing 1,000 air and land crew members. ''The idea was to create a network of companies in Central Africa, Southern Africa and the Emirates. I wanted to make a cargo and passenger airline like Virgin Atlantic.''
By 1997, Bout's operations had expanded to an abandoned airfield in Pietersburg, South Africa. He built a refrigeration facility in South Africa to freeze and store chickens, which cost a little over $1 a kilo in South Africa and sold for $10 in Nigeria. He talked openly about his early commercial exploits but was more reserved when it came to his personal life. ''It's painful to have your private life exposed,'' he said.
He was born, the record shows, to Russian parents in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on Jan. 13, 1967. A voracious reader of Russian classics, he attended the Soviet Military Institute for Foreign Languages in Moscow and then went to a Russian military college, earning a degree in economics. He speaks six languages fluently. (He told me he learned most of them ''traveling.'') He served in a military aviation regiment until 1991. Two of those years he spent in Mozambique, at the end of that country's civil war.
Bout is said to have been working for the K.G.B. in Angola when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Bout insists that he never had any connection with the K.G.B. and that he had only spent a couple of weeks in Angola. ''My mother cried when the newspapers connected me to the K.G.B.,'' he said. He was eager to show me a statement on what he said was the letterhead of the Federal Security Services -- formerly the K.G.B. -- dated October 2002. It says that the agency ''has no information regarding Mr. Bout's connections with the K.G.B.,'' a statement that means little in a country where anything, especially a document, can be bought.
4 Reflecting on his travels, Bout said he saw firsthand in Angola, Congo and elsewhere how Western donations to impoverished countries, often in the form of state-of-the-art industry, lead to the destruction of social and ecological balance, mutual resentment and eventually war. Philanthropy creates addiction, he said. ''Once countries give money, they control you.'' He admired the isolated Pygmy tribes he visited during his jungle runs, he said, because they lived in perfect harmony with their environment, immune from conflict and diseases like AIDS.
He also spoke glowingly of Congo's late president, Mobutu Sese Seko, and of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Afghan Northern Alliance commander, both of whom he said he knew intimately. He was attracted to Mobutu's common sense and Massoud's integrity. Combined, they would have made the perfect leader. They also made fine customers.
Starting in 1995, Bout expanded his air-freight operations to Ostend, Belgium, and later to Odessa, Ukraine. Eleven years earlier, Ostend had been a transit point for weapons in the Iran-contra operation, leaving behind a comfortable precedent and logistical mechanisms for arms traffickers. So did Belgium's lax arms-trafficking laws. From Sharjah and South Africa, and now from Ukraine and Ostend, Bout did indeed tap into what Africa and the Middle East needed. But it wasn't gladiolas and frozen chickens.
Most people think that controlling arms shipments is merely a matter of international diplomacy. That may have been true during the cold war, when traffickers were often subcontractors of the superpowers, feeding the proxy conflicts Washington and Moscow wanted fought. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the exclusive club of arms brokers metastasized. Some brokers still work at the behest of governments and intelligence agencies. But most are now entrepreneurial freelancers who sell weapons without regard for ideology, allegiance or consequence. They have only one goal in mind: profit.
''Victor Bout is a creature of the Yeltsin era, of disorganized crime, who adapted to live in the era of Putin and more organized crime,'' according to Jonathan M. Winer, deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement in the Clinton administration. In the wake of the cold war, to adapt meant to exploit the chaos. The Soviet Army's massive arsenal ended up in the hands of former Soviet republics. Desperate for hard currency, they sold off weapons the same way they sold off other resources and products they inherited from the defunct Soviet empire. ''Who owned what and who ran the fire sale was a free-for-all,'' Winer said.
Of all the republics outside of Russia, Ukraine got the most -- and most lethal -- weapons, enough conventional firepower, by many accounts, to sustain a million troops. The Ukrainian government made a public show of transferring its vast nuclear arsenal back to Russia. But between 1992 and 1998, it has been reported, $32 billion of large- and small-scale Ukrainian weaponry and ammunition, as well as other military property, simply disappeared.
''The Ukrainian military was turned into a tool for revenue by a generation of politicians who took advantage of the factories and used them to manufacture and ship weapons for money to anyone who wanted them,'' Winer said.
Representatives from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, the Taliban and Pakistan came calling. So, perhaps, did North Korea, by way of Pakistan, and Al Qaeda, through the Taliban. ''Whatever country has the worst governance but the best infrastructure becomes a honey pot,'' Winer said. ''In the 1980's, it was Central America. After the fall of the Soviet Union, it became Ukraine. There's concentrated power, resources in very few hands, no oversight, no separate functioning judiciary, a huge porous border, huge inherited military facilities, lots of airstrips, a bunch of old planes. Ukraine is the epicenter for global badness. It's worse than Pakistan. It's a one-stop-shopping infrastructure for anyone who wants to buy anything.''
5 Ukraine became the deepest and most reliable source of supply in the arms-trafficking underworld. What was missing was a way to move and sell the product. That's where Victor Bout and others came in. And the world was soon awash in weapons.
Last February, months before I met with Bout, I went to Kiev. The year before, Ukraine's president, Leonid Kuchma, had been caught personally directing illicit weapons sales. From 1998 to 2000, Kuchma's bodyguard, a former K.G.B. employee and Ukrainian intelligence officer named Mykola Melnychenko, had bugged the presidential office and then turned over tapes to an opposition member of Ukraine's Parliament. The tapes caught Kuchma apparently approving the sale of four world-class radar systems to Saddam Hussein for $100 million and ordering the director of Ukraine's intelligence agency to ''take care of'' a Ukrainian journalist who had been following the government's connections to illegal arms sales. Two months after that conversation, the journalist, Georgy Gongadze, vanished. His headless, acid-scorched corpse was found in a forest glade two months later. He was one of at least three Ukrainian journalists and five members of Parliament who died in the last few years under mysterious circumstances.
Before I left for Ukraine, I met with Melnychenko, who had taken refuge in the United States. He agreed to meet me at the information booth at Grand Central Terminal, and we moved on to the bar at Michael Jordan's restaurant to talk. A pale, nervous man, he seemed an unlikely candidate to try to topple the tyrannical Ukrainian president by himself. Had anyone put him up to the bugging, I asked? He shrugged: ''I'm an officer. I wanted to stop the crime.'' Asked if he knew Victor Bout, he at first said no, then yes and later, in a phone conversation, no again. Recently he said, ''I don't know him in person, but I know a lot about him.'' He told me that he is frequently warned by the United States about assassination plots against him.
Whether Melnychenko worked independently or for the K.G.B. or for the C.I.A. (I was told all three), the tapes are real, and ''Kuchmagate'' -- as the Ukrainian press has dubbed it -- provides a glimpse of the anatomy of the arms-trafficking underworld, of which state-sponsored arms trafficking is just one thread.
Arms traffickers inherited not only the Soviet Union's cold-war weapons supply but also its fully operational systems of clandestine transport, replete with money channels, people who understood how to use them and, most important, established shipping pipelines -- what Robert Gelbard, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement under President Clinton, calls ''the tubing.'' ''The tubing can carry different kinds of things,'' he told me, ''drugs, humans, money -- or weapons.'' Victor Bout was master of the tubing.
''By 2000, Victor Bout had become the McDonald's of arms trafficking -- he was the brand name,'' said Alex Vines, an arms investigator for Human Rights Watch who first picked up signs of Bout's operation in 1995. A conversation with a Kenyan diamond trader and mine operator named Sanjivan Ruprah offers insight into Bout's techniques. Ruprah was arrested in Belgium in February 2002, accused of money laundering, and later released. ''I met Victor to discuss airlifting a hundred tons of diamond mining equipment from South Africa to Kananga in the Congo to start a new diamond mine,'' Ruprah said by e-mail. (He said he was traveling in Africa, but wouldn't say in which country.)
Ruprah told U.S. investigators that in June 2002 he told Bout that the embattled Liberian president, Charles Taylor, was losing the fight for the Liberian north and asked him to arrange for an emergency delivery of weapons. In an interview with U.S. officials, Ruprah described how Bout offered to quickly fill Taylor's shopping list in exchange for a promise of future business in Liberia. Ruprah said that Bout told him he had a way around the U.N. embargo. Bout told him he had end-user certificates, required for any legal sale of weapons to a legitimate government. False certificates, which is what Bout had, can be bought from corrupt governments for as little as $50,000. Djibouti is a popular false destination; so is Peru, according to one well-known arms trafficker.
6 Bout told me the deal simply didn't happen. ''How do you think a plane can fly to Liberia, which is under U.N. embargo, without being tracked?'' he said. To illustrate, Chichakli opened his laptop and started a program that charts the myriad air-traffic control centers a plane is required to contact as it flies through one country's airspace into another's. For the sake of argument, they asked me to suggest an itinerary. ''From where?'' Bout asked.
I said Ostend, Belgium. Chichakli typed in the airport code for Ostend, OST. ''To where?'' Bout said. I suggested Monrovia, the war-ravaged capital of Liberia. Bout and Chichakli looked at each other. They hesitated. ''Monrovia, let's see,'' Chichakli said. ''Do you know the code, Victor?'' Bout shrugged, ''I have no idea.'' I watched as they tried to look as if they were struggling, typing in various permutations. Sergei finally gave them the code, ROB, for Roberts International in Monrovia.
Arms traffickers use what looks like legitimate business activity to disguise the smuggling. Weapons shopping lists are quietly passed through webs of people who fill orders, often for cash on delivery. Usually, the first link in the chain is military; bribes are paid to officials and officers to look the other way, or soldiers are paid to play warehouse stock clerks. Sometimes crates of weapons are labeled perishable fruit. Or waiting air crews switch cargo at ''refueling'' stops. A pilot might fly into an airport under one registration number and fly out under a different one.
Or he might start off on an openly planned flight from, say, Ostend to Peru, then double back and dogleg south to a war zone in West Africa. Payments are wired from a buyer's shell company into a seller's shell, often in money-laundering havens like the Isle of Man or the Caymans or Dubai, or money is wired to quasi-legitimate cargo companies. Sometimes weapons are simply traded for bags of cash or sockfuls of diamonds.
''Bout's procurement and logistics network is fully integrated, which made him so attractive and so successful,'' said Lee S. Wolosky, former director of transnational threats at the N.S.C. under both Clinton and Bush, who directed the U.S. campaign against Bout. ''Weaponry is harder to both get a hold of and to transport than women and drugs. There is really no one in the world who has put it all together the way he has.''
Often, traffickers simply assume that authorities won't bother to check their cargo. In late September 2001, two weeks after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, a Hungarian trading company in Budapest filed a request to ship Ukrainian cargo to an American firm based in Macon, Ga. No one had ever heard of the Ukrainian company with the vanilla name -- ERI Trading and Investment Company -- and for good reason. A Hungarian bureaucrat making a random inspection of the cargo discovered that the shipment included 300 Ukrainian surface-to-air (SAM) missiles and 100 launchers. SAM's are light, mobile and easily hidden, and American agents later feared that they were going to be distributed to terrorists near America's major airports. (The cargo wasn't permitted to take off; the American buyer was arrested in June.)
When I was alone with Bout and his brother, I put on the table a copy of an invoice for another weapons deal, obtained from European intelligence sources. The invoice, on the letterhead of San Air General Trading, one of Bout's Sharjah-based companies, was for two Russian MI-8T ''helicopter gunships,'' four missile launchers and three bomb launchers, all for $1,900,000, plus spare parts for an additional $90,000. The weapons were ostensibly for delivery to Ivory Coast, but in reality, the sources said, the destination was Liberia. Bout picked it up, stared at it and coolly declared it a forgery. ''Anyway, MI-8T's aren't gunships; they're cargo helicopters.'' After an uncomfortable silence, he added, ''Though they can be outfitted with rockets and the proper guns to make them into gunships.''
7 U.S. officials have connected Bout to both Alexander Islamov, a notorious Russian arms dealer, and Leonid Minin, a Ukrainian version of the same. I asked him if he had flown cargo for them. ''These are my clients,'' he said. ''But who cares? It's not my business to know what's on board. It's not the captain's job to open the crates and know what's inside.'' (In fact, a pilot considers it an almost religious duty to know what his plane is carrying.)
Then he changed his tack, abandoning his half-hearted denial that he moved weapons. O.K., he said, the point isn't whether or not he delivers weapons; the point is, what's wrong with it? ''Illegal weapons?'' he said. ''What does that mean? If rebels control an airport and a city, and they give you clearance to land, what's illegal about that?'' After all, he said, rebels become governments, which have a right to defend themselves. What Bout didn't say was that the people receiving the weapons are often under U.N. arms embargo. Or they are rebels slaughtering their way into power.
''The problem is the system,'' Bout argued. ''Arms is no different than pharmaceuticals. Actually, pharmaceuticals can be more dangerous than arms.''
Sergei was nodding in agreement. I said that coming from the mouth of a self-professed ecologist, humanist and admirer of Pygmies, that sounded at best like a cold rationalization. ''Look, killing isn't about weapons,'' Bout replied impatiently. ''It's about the humans who use them.''
Bout fell silent. His wit and his insider's perspective on international geopolitics suddenly coalesced into the cynical visage of a drug dealer peddling crack in a schoolyard. He was just a businessman selling his wares. Who was he to be the arbiter of good and evil?
On that, he was technically correct. He was different from a drug pusher in one crucial way: what he was doing might be repugnant and contributing to savagery, but it didn't necessarily make him a criminal. There is simply not a lot of law -- American, international or otherwise -- on arms trafficking. Since the mid-1990's, not one U.N. arms embargo has resulted in the conviction of an arms trafficker. The U.N. has no power to arrest. Interpol depends on the cooperation of local authorities. Astonishingly, despite having the toughest arms-trafficking laws in the world, the U.S. has not prosecuted a single case of arms trafficking. This is true partly by design. ''Governments create rules that allow arms deals to happen,'' said Lisa Misol, an arms researcher for Human Rights Watch. ''And traffickers rely on the fact that countries don't consider arms shipments originating somewhere else their problem.''
In other words, the most repugnant kind of commerce is usually not illegal. And if arms trafficking is not illegal, how can it be stopped? Why should it be stopped? When confronted by images of child soldiers in Liberia, the question seems naive, if not specious. But when it comes to weapons sales, the notion of ''national interest'' becomes a hall of mirrors. The top arms manufacturers -- and the U.S. sells more weapons than the rest of the world combined -- have a vested interest in keeping their product on the move, legally or otherwise. And aren't there also simply times when a government decides it's in its best interest, and its citizens' best interest, to let traffickers traffic? Governments are reluctant to restrain arms traffickers who might serve their own geopolitical or national-security interests in the future. ''It's the disposal problem,'' said Jonathan Winer. ''What do you do with people after you've trained them to be killers, traffickers, smugglers and criminals in the cause of a just war? Ask Manuel Noriega. He'd know.''
In Africa, by all accounts, Bout sold and delivered to anyone who could pay. But Afghanistan was different. He said that he helped arm only the Rabbani government, which was then clinging to power. ''I took sides because I knew what the Taliban was,'' Bout told me. ''Rabbani and Massoud were the only hope. I had a major pact with the Rabbani government. We sustained them. My aircraft was the last one out of Bagram air base before the Taliban came.''
In the mid-1990's, he flew four shipments a day into government-controlled Jalalabad, he said: weapons (probably from the former Soviet republics) and TV's and radios from Dubai.
8 In August 1995, 13 months before the Taliban took Kabul, Taliban aircraft intercepted one of Bout's Sharjah-based planes loaded with ammunition for the government. The MIG's forced the plane down in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. What happened next has become arms-trafficking folk lore. The plane and its cargo were seized, and the crew of seven imprisoned at the airport for over a year. Eventually, the story goes, the crew members overpowered their captors, started up Bout's plane, took off under heavy fire and escaped back to Sharjah.
Bout tells a different story about the escape. He flew to Kandahar a few times over the course of that year to negotiate his crew's release, he told me, but not alone. He was accompanied by officials from the Russian government. The negotiations failed. (The story up to this point has been reported.) The reality of the plane's escape, he went on, is more interesting than the lore and more politically fraught. ''Do you really think you can jump in a plane that's been sitting unmaintained on the tarmac for over a year, start up the engines and just take off?'' He paused. ''They didn't escape. They were extracted.''
By a Western government, I asked? ''No,'' Bout said, clearly agitated. Was it a Russian government operation? At first Bout didn't answer. Then he said: ''Until now you've been digging in a big lake with small spoons. There are huge forces. . . .'' He broke off midsentence. Then he explained that this incident revealed too much about the triangulated relationship between him, governments and his rogue clients. He said he was protecting himself and me.
Before September 2001, Russia was arming Massoud and the Northern Alliance with tons of weaponry, the former N.S.C. official told me. Many of the deliveries were made by Bout. ''Bout wanted to play a more clean game, to arm the American allies,'' Johan Peleman, a U.N. arms investigator, said. Bout flatly refused to discuss any such relationship.
Bout flew U.N. peacekeepers to East Timor and Somalia, and possibly to Sierra Leone. (''The U.N. always goes for the cheapest contracts,'' Peleman said.) In 1994, during the Rwandan genocide, Bout said, the French government asked him to help implement Operation Turquoise to halt the fighting and facilitate aid shipments to refugees. Bout told me that he flew in 2,500 elite French troops. He also told me that he extracted Mobutu from Congo.
''Bout is encouraged by Western intelligence agencies when it's politically expedient,'' a British arms investigator said.
The governments and rebel groups Bout supplied knew enough not to antagonize him, Gayle Smith, formerly of the N.S.C., told me. ''You wouldn't want to be on his bad side. He's wily; he's hard to catch. He was always several steps ahead. He would acquire anything and move it anywhere for anyone. While Victor Bout might be running arms to your opposition, you know he'll also ferry arms against a U.N. embargo for you.''
In February, I went to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa to meet a pilot I was told had flown planes into Liberia for Bout. As a major transport link between Europe and the Middle East, Odessa is the central smuggling tube in Europe and a favorite port of call for pilots and traffickers of all stripes.
The pilot was waiting for me in an icy wind at the top of the Odessa steps made famous in Eisenstein's film ''Battleship Potemkin.'' We nodded to each other, and I followed him to an empty cafe. He talked in a low voice, describing how planes sometimes landed and took off amid raging gunfire. The hulls of those planes were known to often be sheathed in lead to deflect bullets. He nodded at Bout's name. He said pilots earned $10,000 per shipment. He had quit a few months before after being strafed by machine-gun fire one too many times. Half an hour after we met, the pilot led me out and brusquely said goodbye.
He had reason to be nervous. Even hard-core arms traffickers shun the country. Earlier in the year, I met with the notorious Sarkis Soghanalian in the balmy Jordanian port city of Aqaba, where he spends his days sitting by the sea before an array of satellite and cellphones. A ziggurat-shaped Armenian-American with Arafat stubble and sausage-link fingers, he is both a longtime ally of American intelligence and an occasional target of law-enforcement agencies. Soghanalian was well known for, among many other things, being Saddam Hussein's major supplier of weapons during the Iran-Iraq war years. When I asked him for advice on navigating the former Soviet Union in general and Ukraine in particular, he shook his head and said he never did business there. ''No one can be trusted. They only work for money there.''
9 A U.S. government adviser in Kiev told me, ''Odessa's an open sewer and criminal outlet.'' Eight hundred shipping containers are off-loaded at the port every day. Among other contraband like cigarettes and bootleg pharmaceuticals and CD's, weapons are smuggled in and then transferred from ship to ship or ship to plane. ''We've had a hundred seizures of radioactive material over 10 years,'' the adviser said ''But we don't know what we're getting because we don't know what we're missing.''
In one sense, Odessa is merely the gateway to a weapons source potentially even more valuable. Fifty miles up the Dniester River from Odessa, in neighboring Moldova, the breakaway province of Trans-Dniester falls under the overlapping control of Ukrainian and Russian organized crime syndicates, a Bolshevik-style administration, the Russian Army and a private corporation named Sheriff. The Russian-speaking Trans-Dniestrians fought Romanian-speaking Moldova to a stalemate in a vicious war for independence in 1992, carving out a 250-mile-long wedge of land along Moldova's border with Ukraine. Its 600,000 people are destitute and isolated.
Frozen in a state of neither war nor peace, with zero international presence or accountability, there might be no other place on earth that better represents the overlapping interests of governments, organized-crime syndicates and arms traffickers like Victor Bout. Odessa is only 50 miles of good road away. ''Trans-Dniester is patrolled by the Odessa mafia,'' Eduard Hurvitz, Odessa's former mayor, told me. The enclave is so lawless that the United States Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova's capital, discourages its personnel from going there, and staying there overnight requires the ambassador's permission.
''We're a bastard child born unofficially, but we believe we're an official state,'' Vladimir Bodnar, Trans-Dniester's minister of defense, told me. Bodnar and I were sitting in the Parliament Building in Tiraspol, Trans-Dniester's grim and sparsely populated capital. The city is peppered with valorous Soviet statuary, including a colossal monument to Lenin outside the Parliament Building. Across the street was a gas station with a sign showing an outsize five-point sheriff's badge, the logo of the Sheriff Corporation, said to be controlled by Trans-Dniester's ex-Communist president, Igor Smirnov, a former Russian factory manager. Sheriff owns many businesses in Trans-Dniester. U.S. officials have linked Russian organized-crime groups to the smuggling of radiological materials and have little doubt that the trail leads back to Trans-Dniester.
Before the Soviet Union's collapse, Tiraspol was home to the Soviet 14th Army, which left behind 40,000 tons of weaponry, the largest arsenal in Europe. Russia had only begun to repatriate that weaponry by the time Trans-Dniester grabbed its quasi-independence. The lightly armed Trans-Dniestrians -- and the various criminals who controlled the territory -- refused to let the Russians leave with the remains. Or so Moscow says. Others disagree. ''The Russians could pull out tomorrow,'' said Mark Galeotti, an adviser to British intelligence on Russian organized crime. ''Smirnov is a puppet in the hand of Russian intelligence,'' said Ion Stavila, Moldova's deputy minister of foreign affairs.
At last count, stored in a complex of bunkers and berms and guarded by a skeleton crew of Russians are enough explosives to make two and a half Hiroshima bombs, tens of thousands of Kalashnikov assault rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition and huge numbers of antitank missiles, grenades and Scudlike rockets. Trans-Dniestrian factories may still produce weapons.
But Trans-Dniester is more than just the Wal-Mart of arms trafficking. Experts are concerned that terrorists -- or ambitious middlemen -- could find more sophisticated and dangerous things to buy. The Soviet military couldn't guarantee that all of the nuclear weapons had been removed. And hundreds of canisters of cesium-137, used by Soviet scientists to test the effects of nuclear war on plants, are unaccounted for. According to Russian documents I obtained, one 14th Army officer warned the Moldovans that in 1992 24 Alazan rockets in Trans-Dniester had been tipped with radioactive warheads. An adviser to British intelligence confirmed that some of the cesium is still inside Trans-Dniester.
10 In Moscow, over a drink, I asked Bout if he had been to Trans-Dniester. He shook his head no and shuddered. But British agents, who have tracked weapons from Trans-Dniester to the Balkans and beyond, have documented Bout's involvement there for years. ''It's clear that Ukrainian weapons Bout trafficked came through Trans-Dniester,'' Galeotti said. Not just things that have disappeared out of arsenals. Sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems to the Middle East. Vehicle-mounted and artillery systems. ''Large, high-tech kits. Flatbeds' and trainloads' worth. Bout's fingerprints are all over them.''
On the evening of my third day with Bout, the phone in my hotel room rang. A voice said, ''I understand we have things to talk about.'' At first I was taken aback, even amused, by the melodrama. But the voice was coldly sobering. ''Tomorrow, 1700 hours,'' the caller said. ''Go to the McDonald's on Pushkin Square. Buy two cups of coffee and sit at a table. I'll find you.'' Then he hung up.
At 5 p.m. I went to the McDonald's. It was vast, multitiered and crowded with Russian teenagers. Techno-pop was playing loudly. It was the perfect place for a private conversation.
I put two coffees on a random table and waited. At 5:02, I looked left and right into the crowd, then turned back. A man in his early 40's was in the seat across from me. ''Thank you for the coffee,'' he said.
The man didn't identify himself, but his knowledge of arms trafficking and its various players was expert. He told me that Bout was merely the public face of something much larger and that I was just getting through the surface and that to go further was very dangerous.
He alluded to two assassinations that had taken place 10 days before. Both victims were executives of a huge air-defense contractor involved in export of antiaircraft weapons and other systems.
He said to imagine the structure of arms trafficking in Russia like a mushroom. Bout was among those in the mushroom's cap, which we can see. The stalk is made up of the men who are really running things in Russia and making decisions. Looking from above, he said, you never see the stalk. Earlier, in Kiev, Grigory Omelchenko, the former chief of Ukrainian counterintelligence, had said that traffickers like Bout are either protected or killed. ''There's total state control.''
Said E.J. Hogendoorn, the former U.N. arms investigator: ''There was the sense that there were bigger and murkier forces involved in this. Bout's being protected by highly influential people.''
I began to understand why Bout was both eager to talk and reluctant. Cornered by multiple governments, selling off his assets and hounded by the press, he wanted to complain that he had merely become the fall guy for a criminalized -- and quasi-legal -- political structure much larger and more significant than Victor Bout. But if he revealed too much, he said, he would be perilous.
Between the summers of 2000 and 2001, Western intelligence agencies targeted Bout with listening devices. Agents eavesdropped on his phone conversations. The stakes were raised even further in early 2001, when the N.S.C. was shown materials that led it to believe Bout had sold planes to Ariana Afghan Airlines, the national flagship airline that had been taken over by the Taliban. U.S. intelligence was reporting daily Ariana flights from the Emirates to the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, and U.S. officials said that these aircraft may have been delivering weapons, gold and jihadis.
Though there was no evidence connecting Bout to actual weapons sales to the Taliban or Al Qaeda, the U.S. government became convinced that Bout was at least servicing the planes -- enough to make him an Al Qaeda accomplice. ''What we saw led us to think that Bout had something to do with terrorism,'' Lee Wolosky told me. ''It was handled by the part of the White House associated with terrorism. There were enough indicators that set off alarm bells. The U.S. government decided to act on that basis.''
11 The question was, act how? The U.S. government had no legal architecture to fight an arms network that operated across international borders in the political twilight. ''Big arms are the province of individual countries,'' Jonathan Winer said. ''But no country is configured to deal with it because its jurisdiction stops at the border.''
Said Lee S. Wolosky, the former director of transnational threats at the N.S.C.: ''Bout represented a post-cold-war phenomenon for which there was no framework to stop. No one was doing what he was doing. And there was no response. We needed to build a response.''
The N.S.C. consulted with officials in the British, South African and Belgian governments to find a way to shut Bout down and apprehend him. Intelligence agents tracked Bout's planes from Sharjah. Arms shipments were interdicted at airfields in Moldova, Slovakia and Uganda. Officials from the United Arab Emirates offered to capture Bout in Sharjah and hand him over to U.S. officials. At one point, an elite detachment was in place to make the arrest.
With Bout now under close surveillance, however, the White House made the last-minute call to pursue a classic narc strategy instead. It wanted to wait to see if Bout could take them higher up the arms-trafficking food chain.
In February 2001, the U.S. government sent a delegation to Brussels to ask prosecutors there to cooperate with their operation against Bout. The Belgians refused without explanation. Within a week of the meeting, the head of the U.S. delegation learned that Bout knew about the meeting. (Belgium did issue a warrant against Bout in February 2002, for money laundering in connection with diamonds. Bout was in Sharjah at the time, but fled to Russia before he could be apprehended.)
According to Clinton administration N.S.C. officials, from its first days the Bush administration didn't see transnational crime as a national-security issue, and it didn't share their fixation on Victor Bout. Condoleezza Rice instructed the N.S.C. to work the Bout problem diplomatically. ''Look but don't touch'' is how one former White House official put it to me.
After Sept. 11, Rice called off the Bout operation altogether. Moscow was not to be pressured on arms trafficking in general and Victor Bout in particular. The reasoning, according to a source who talked to Rice, was that they had ''bigger fish to fry.'' (Rice refused to comment for this article.)
My last night in Moscow, Bout drove me to a restaurant outside the city that specializes in wild game. He ordered a dish of roasted vegetables. After days of discussing his life's work and the charges against him, he appeared relaxed, as though he felt he had sufficiently justified himself and set the record straight. He had done neither, or course, but he seemed relieved to have talked. After a few vodkas, he turned philosophical. ''It's easy to make war, to play the political game,'' he mused. ''But to be at peace within yourself. . . .''
After dinner, we drove down a dirt track into the woods to a walled compound. Inside was an expensive private club for banya, the traditional Russian sauna. Bout told me that when Russian men negotiate or prepare for difficult conversations, they share a banya. They are naked, and after the heat, they are defenseless and cannot hide anything. ''If you don't have a good marriage or you want that kind of thing, then you can have the girl upstairs,'' he added.
Inside the hot box it was 170 degrees. A man in a towel pounded Bout and me with eucalyptus leaves. Then we submerged in an icy dunking pool. We repeated the cycle twice more. Afterward, we sat on a couch, and he talked about literature and his admiration of the Pygmies. He spoke of Massoud, his brilliance and dependability. But he also thought Massoud was naive, and this was why he was dead. There was a television suspended in a corner showing a wildlife channel. We sat for an hour, watching animals in the African veldt hunting and devouring one another.
Sitting there naked except for a narrow strip of towel, Bout seemed the personification not of the world community's inability to stop him but of its reluctance. Bout the trafficker seemed diminished in comparison to the larger hidden system. If he was indeed the public face of arms trafficking and if he couldn't be caught, or stopped, what, I wondered, does this say about the mammoth volume of amoral transport around the world, and the huge profits at stake for individuals and governments alike?
I remembered something Richard Chichakli had said that morning: ''Victor is the most politically connected person you have ever seen, but he's not here to change the world.''
One of the most valuable lessons is that change produced by US Assassinations , wars and chaos is a failed ideology. Moreover, change imposed from abroad without any consideration for domestic priorities only worsens the hatred for those behind the change....
Power has a price and that price, more often than not, is paid in blood. From the cruel world of organized CIA crimes, to the hidden encounters behind the Beirut curtains, from the ancient empires of Romans and Ottomans to the corridors of despotic powers in Washington DC & Tel AVIV, hired guns have ruthlessly pursued their trade of erasing foes and friends. Today's friends can be tomorrow's enemies and for the sake of continuation of power, or rather the protection of self-interests for entrenched feodal families, no sacrifice is big enough.
In the days since President George W. Bush fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, one figure is eerily missing from public view and public accounts of what occurred: Vice President Dick Cheney. As usual, America's de facto prime minister, and Chief Wars, Murders & Assassinations Architect, is either literally or metaphorically in an undisclosed location.
With Rumsfeld, Cheney was responsible for the 180- degree reversal in Bush's professed foreign policy - remember, Bush was the candidate who didn't believe in getting U.S. troops involved in "nation-building." As much as Rumsfeld, Cheney was architect of both the Iraq war and the deeper doctrine behind the war, Murders and assassinations - neoconservative assertion of America's unilateral military might. Cheney, along with Rumsfeld, signed the 1997 manifesto of the so-called Project for a New American Century, calling for the United States to police the world in the name of American style democracy....
A newly democratic Iraq, courtesy of U.S. shock, awe and mortal authority, was going to be the key to broader Middle East "piece", as Westernized Islam came to terms with American power and settled its conflict with Israel. This entire doctrine, along with Rumsfeld's career, died in the ashes of the Iraq civil war, Murders and assassinations of Cheney, OSP, & CIA.... etc.
But what of Cheney's career? You can't fire the vice president. But you can decide to give him greater or lesser authority. Has Cheney just gotten a big demotion? Was Rummy dumped over Cheney's strenuous objection? It's ALL faked strategy to get ready for the NEW WAR to come.
In short, will Rumsfeld's abrupt dismissal finally diminish Cheney's unprecedented dominance of Bush? Or did the always cunning vice president read the writing on the wall and decide that it was time for his good friend Rumsfeld to go?
We will probably not know the definitive answer until people start writing memoirs, and Dick Cheney is not in the habit of giving candid background interviews. But here are some clues.
The general premise in Washington is that James Baker is the big winner in the latest Republican power struggle, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the secondary gainer. Baker is an archrival to Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neocons.
Baker, who served both Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush and who now chairs a bipartisan panel with the Democrat Lee Hamilton charged with looking for a way out of Iraq, has a far a more traditional "realist" view of foreign policy. In the Middle East mess, he has said explicitly said that he believes in engaging enemies, meaning in this case Syria and Iran, a doctrine anathema to Cheney and company. The designated successor to Rumsfeld is Robert Gates, a close ally of Baker.
In all these respects, recent events seem a stunning setback for the vice president. But never count the wily Cheney out.
For one thing, Cheney has placed allies all over the government. Many of the people who actually run cabinet departments effectively report to him. Elliott Abrams, the ultra-hawk in charge of Middle East " Murders policy", is an Israeli agent first and is a Cheney man, second. So the Cheney apparatus has an institutional staying power that is unlikely to be rooted out.
For another, it's not as if Baker is going to pull a rabbit out of a hat. The bad news about the apparent receptivity to a different Iraq policy is that there is no easy solution in the wings, awaiting only regime- change in the United States murderous Government of GWB.
When the Baker-Hamilton Commission does release its long-awaited recommendations in January, after months of drum rolls, they could turn out to be just a series of policy options. Even a bold idea, such as U.S. pursuit of a broader regional settlement, would be far from self-executing.
It's clear that the plan to replace Rumsfeld was set in motion several weeks before the election, after multiple conversations, and that Bush I, Baker, Rice and Cheney were all players. My informed guess is that, when the time came for a decision, Cheney decided to be on the winning side, for now, for his fate will be similar to Ariel Sharon's very soon...
Although Baker is now a secondary power center in the Bush constellation, it is just not believable that Baker has displaced Cheney as the single most potent influence on Bush. The Oedipal complexities of Bush's awkward rift with his father make it unlikely that Baker is the new power behind the throne. You can see already Cheney's pushback against the Baker- Hamilton commission in the internal review of Iraq policy that the administration has begun, well in advance of the release of Baker's report.
Commissions come and go. Cheney's influence over war-making will be somewhat diluted by the presence of Robert Gates at the Pentagon. But the vice president remains the ultimate in-fighter.... just to save himself and his cronies from JUSTICE .
The "Demonization" of Muslims and the Battle for Energy Transportation routes,Pipelines, sources and Choke Points in Central Asia and the
Middle east .
Throughout history, " wars of religion" have served to obscure the economic and strategic interests behind the conquest and invasion of foreign lands. "Wars of religion" were invariably fought with a view to securing control over trading routes and natural resources.
The Crusades extending from the 11th to the 14th Century are often presented by historians as "a continuous series of military-religious expeditions made by European Christians in the hope of wresting the Holy Land from the infidel Turks." The objective of the Crusades, however, had little to do with religion. The Crusades largely consisted, through military action, in challenging the dominion of the Muslim merchant societies, which controlled the Eastern trade routes.
The "Just War" supported the Crusades. War was waged with the support of the Catholic Church, acting as an instrument of religious propaganda and indoctrination, which was used in the enlistment throughout Europe of thousands of peasants, serfs and urban vagabonds.
America's Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East
In the eyes of public opinion, possessing a "just cause" for waging war is central. A war is said to be Just if it is waged on moral, religious or ethical grounds.
America's Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East is no exception. The "war on terrorism" purports to defend the American Homeland and protect the "civilized world". It is upheld as a "war of religion", a "clash of civilizations", when in fact the main objective of this war is to secure control and corporate ownership over the region's extensive oil wealth, while also imposing under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank (now under the leadership of Paul Wolfowitz), the privatization of State enterprises and the transfer of the countries' economic assets into the hands of foreign capital. .
The Just War theory upholds war as a "humanitarian operation". It serves to camouflage the real objectives of the military operation, while providing a moral and principled image to the invaders. In its contemporary version, it calls for military intervention on ethical and moral grounds against "rogue states" and "Islamic terrorists", which are threatening the Homeland.
Possessing a "just cause" for waging war is central to the Bush administration's justification for invading and occupying both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Taught in US military academies, a modern-day version of the "Just War" theory has been embodied into US military doctrine. The "war on terrorism" and the notion of "preemption" are predicated on the right to "self defense." They define "when it is permissible to wage war": jus ad bellum.
Jus ad bellum serves to build a consensus within the Armed Forces command structures. It also serves to convince the troops that the enemy is "evil" and that they are fighting for a "just cause". More generally, the Just War theory in its modern day version is an integral part of war propaganda and media disinformation, applied to gain public support for a war agenda.
The Battle for Oil. Demonization of the Enemy
War builds a humanitarian agenda. Throughout history, vilification of the enemy has been applied time and again. The Crusades consisted in demonizing the Turks as infidels and heretics, with a view to justifying military action.
Demonization serves geopolitical and economic objectives. Likewise, the campaign against "Islamic terrorism" (which is supported covertly by US intelligence) supports the conquest of oil wealth. The term "Islamo-fascism," serves to degrade the policies, institutions, values and social fabric of Muslim countries, while also upholding the tenets of "Western democracy" and the "free market" as the only alternative for these countries.
The US led war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region consists in gaining control over more than sixty percent of the world's supplies of oil and natural gas. The Anglo-American oil giants also seek to gain control over oil and gas pipeline routes out of the region. (See table and maps below).
Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, possess between 66.2 and 75.9 percent of total oil reserves, depending on the source and methodology of the estimate. (See table below).
In contrast, the United States of America has barely 2 percent of total oil reserves. Western countries including its major oil producers ( Canada, the US, Norway, the UK, Denmark and Australia) control approximately 4 percent of total oil reserves. (In the alternative estimate of the Oil and Gas Journal which includes Canada's oil sands, this percentage would be of the the order of 16.5%. See table below).
The largest share of the World's oil reserves lies in a region extending (North) from the tip of Yemen to the Caspian sea basin and (East) from the Eastern Mediterranean coastline to the Persian Gulf. This broader Middle East- Central Asian region, which is the theater of the US-led "war on terrorism" encompasses according to the estimates of World Oil, more than sixty percent of the World's oil reserves. (See table below).
Iraq has five times more oil than the United States.
Muslim countries possess at least 16 times more oil than the Western countries.
The major non-Muslim oil reserve countries are Venezuela, Russia, Mexico, China and Brazil. (See table)
Demonization is applied to an enemy, which possesses three quarters of the world's oil reserves. "Axis of evil", "rogue States", "failed nations", "Islamic terrorists": demonization and vilification are the ideological pillars of America's "war on terror". They serve as a casus belli for waging the battle for oil.
The Battle for Oil requires the demonization of those who possess the oil. The enemy is characterized as evil, with a view to justifying military action including the mass killing of civilians. The Middle East Central Asian region is heavily militarized. (See map). The oil fields are encircled: NATO war ships stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean (as part of a UN "peace keeping" operation), US Carrier Strike Groups and Destroyer Squadrons in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian deployed as part of the "war on terrorism".
USS Enterprise Strike Group
The ultimate objective, combining military action, covert intelligence operations and war propaganda, is to break down the national fabric and transform sovereign countries into open economic territories, where natural resources can be plundered and confiscated under "free market" supervision. This control also extends to strategic oil and gas pipeline corridors (e.g. Afghanistan).
Demonization is a PSYOP, used to sway public opinion and build a consensus in favor of war. Psychological warfare is directly sponsored by the Pentagon and the US intelligence apparatus. It is not limited to assassinating or executing the rulers of Muslim countries, it extends to entire populations. It also targets Muslims in Western Europe and North America. It purports to break national consciousness and the ability to resist the invader. It denigrates Islam. It creates social divisions. It is intended to divide national societies and ultimately trigger "civil war". While it creates an environment which facilitates the outright appropriation of the countries' resources, at the same time, it potentially backlashes, creates a new national consciousness, develops inter-ethnic solidarity, brings people together in confronting the invaders.
It is worth noting that the triggering of sectarian divisions and "civil wars" is contemplated in the process of redrawing of the map of the Middle East, where countries are slated to be broken up and transformed into territories. The map of the New Middle East, although not official, has been used by the US National War Academy. It was recently published in the Armed Forces Journal (June 2006). In this map, nation states are broken up, international borders are redefined along sectarian-ethnic lines, broadly in accordance with the interests of the Anglo-American oil giants (See Map below). The map has also been used in a training program at NATO's Defense College for senior military officers.
Search for : The map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006, Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006).
The Oil Lies in Muslim Lands.
The oil lies in Muslim lands. Vilification of the enemy is part and parcel of Eurasia energy geopolitics. It is a direct function of the geographic distribution of the World's oil and gas reserves. If the oil were in countries occupied predominantly by Buddhists or Hindus, one would expect that US foreign policy would be directed against Buddhists and Hindus, who would also be the object of vilification..
In the Middle East war theater, Iran and Syria, which are part of the "axis of evil", are the next targets according to official US statements.
US sponsored "civil wars" have also been conducted in several other strategic oil and gas regions including Nigeria, the Sudan, Colombia, Somalia, Yemen, Angola, not to mention Chechnya and several republics of the former Soviet Union. Ongoing US sponsored "civil wars", which often include the channelling of covert support to paramilitary groups, have been triggered in the Darfur region of Sudan as well as in Somalia, Darfur possesses extensive oil reserves. In Somalia, lucrative concessions have already been granted to four Anglo-American oil giants.
"According to documents obtained by The Times, nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco [now part of BP], Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia's pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991. Industry sources said the companies holding the rights to the most promising concessions are hoping that the Bush Administration's decision to send U.S. troops to safeguard aid shipments to Somalia will also help protect their multimillion-dollar investments there." (America's Interests in Somalia, Global Research, 2002)
Globalization and the Conquest of the World's Energy Resources
The collective demonization of Muslims, including the vilification of Islam, applied Worldwide, constitutes at the ideological level, an instrument of conquest of the World's energy resources. It is part of the broader economic, political mechanisms underlying the New World Order.
NOTES PERTAINING TO THE TABLE ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF OIL RESERVES
Indicated are the world's main oil reserve countries. Countries with less than 0.1 % of total reserves are not indicated.
The Oil and Gas Journal figures indicated above are based on proven oil reserves including the bituminous oil fields (oil sands or tar sands). The World Oil figures indicate oil reserves without the tar sands. The difference between the two sets of figures largely pertains to the position of Canada and Venezuela. The tar-sands are considered by some experts as not recoverable with present technology and prices, although this issue is the object of heated debate.
Muslim countries are indicated in bold. Percentages are rounded up to first decimal.
*Canada appears according to this estimate as the Second Country in terms of the size of proven reserves, due to the size of its bituminous oil fields. The Oil & Gas Journal's oil reserve estimate above for Canada includes 4.7 billion barrels of conventional crude oil and condensate reserves and 174.1 billion barrels of oil sands reserves.
In other recognized estimates, where the oil sands are not accounted for, Canada's reserves are much lower (in billions of barrels):
BP notes that "the figure for Canadian oil reserves includes an official estimate of Canadian oil sands "under active development"." BP says of its data sources for oil reserves that "the estimates in this table have been compiled using a combination of primary official sources, third-party data from the OPEC Secretariat, World Oil, Oil & Gas Journal and an independent estimate of Russian reserves based on information in the public domain.
World Oil's Canadian oil reserve estimate "does not include 174 billion bbl [barrels] of oil sands reserves."
CIA Immune System Still Working
Lies have consequences . All those who helped President George W. Bush
launch a war of aggression--termed by Nuremberg "the supreme international
crime"--have blood on their hands and must be held accountable. This
includes corrupt intelligence officials. Otherwise, look for them to perform
the same service in facilitating war on Iran.
"They should have been shot," said former State Department intelligence
director, Carl Ford, referring to ex-CIA director George Tenet and his
deputy John McLaughlin, for their "fundamentally dishonest" cooking of
intelligence to please the White House. Ford was alluding to "intelligence"
on the menacing but non-existent mobile biological weapons laboratories in
Ford was angry that Tenet and McLaughlin persisted in portraying the labs as
real several months after they had been duly warned that they existed only
in the imagination of intelligence analysts who, in their own eagerness to
please, had glommed onto second-hand tales told by a con-man appropriately
dubbed "Curveball." In fact, Tenet and McLaughlin had been warned about
Curveball long before they let then-Secretary of State Colin Powell shame
himself, and the rest of us, by peddling Curveball's wares at the U.N.
Security Council on February 5, 2003.
After the war began, those same analysts, still "leaning forward,"
misrepresented a tractor-trailer found in Iraq outfitted with industrial
equipment as one of the mobile bio-labs. Former U.N. weapons inspector David
Kay, then working for NBC News, obliged by pointing out the equipment "where
the biological process took place... Literally, there is nothing else for
which it could be used."
George Tenet knows a good man when he sees him. A few weeks later he hired
Kay to lead the Pentagon-created Iraq Survey Group in the famous search to
find other (equally non-existent, it turned out) "weapons of mass
destruction." (Eventually Kay, a scientist given to empirical evidence more
than faith-based intelligence, became the skunk at the picnic when, in
January 2004, he insisted on telling senators the truth: "We were almost all
wrong--and I certainly include myself here." But that came later.)
On May 28, 2003, CIA's intrepid analysts cooked up a fraudulent six-page
report claiming that the trailer discovered earlier in May was proof they
had been right about Iraq's "bio-weapons labs." They then performed what
could be called a "night-time requisition," getting the only Defense
Intelligence Agency analyst sympathetic to their position to provide DIA
"coordination," (which was subsequently withdrawn by DIA). On May 29,
President George W. Bush, visiting Poland, proudly announced on Polish TV,
"We have found the weapons of mass destruction."
When the State Department's Intelligence and Research (INR) analysts
realized that this was not some kind of Polish joke, they "went ballistic,"
according to Ford, who immediately warned Colin Powell that there was a
problem. Tenet must have learned of this quickly, for he called Ford on the
carpet, literally, the following day. No shrinking violet, Ford held his
ground. He told Tenet and McLaughlin, "That report is one of the worst
intelligence assessments I've ever read."
This vignette--and several like it--are found in Hubris: The Inside Story of
Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War by Michael Isikoff and David
Corn, who say Ford is still angry over the fraudulent paper. Ford told the
"It was clear that they [Tenet and McLaughlin] had been personally involved
in the preparation of the report... It wasn't just that it was wrong. They
This, of course, was just one episode in the long drama of deliberate
perversion of intelligence to grease the skids for justifying the invasion
of Iraq--the most serious foreign policy blunder in our nation's 230-year
"Hubris," the overweening arrogance that brought down many a protagonist of
the Greek tragedies, is an aptly-chosen title for the revealing Isikoff/Corn
study. Some of the ground they cover is familiar to us Veteran Intelligence
Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), who well before the war started chronicling
the Bush administration's lies. What makes the book different is its
cumulative impact--the detailed, first-hand accounts of lie and cover-up,
lie and cover-up, ad nauseam .
Protagonists need a supporting cast. And many of the dramatis personae were
intelligence analysts--former colleagues of mine. The question lingers: How
could they allow themselves to be seduced into enlisting in the meretricious
march to mayhem in Iraq? Much of the answer (and much of the reason this
misguided war is allowed to continue) lies in the fact that those planning
and facilitating the war in Iraq are not fighting it. Unlike Vietnam, no one
"important" is being asked to put life and limb at risk; nor, generally
speaking, are their children. Interestingly, most of our troops come from
towns with populations of less than 10,000.
Theirs Not To Reason Why
Into the valley of death rode the 3,000. "U.S. Toll in Iraq Reaches 3,000"
screamed The Washington Post 's lead story on New Year's Day, which included
the Pentagon's count of more than 22,000 troops injured. As is known, the
Pentagon does not count dead Iraqis, but reputable estimates put that number
at about 650,000. As we pass this sad milestone, it behooves us to pause and
consider the enormity of what has been allowed to happen--and how to prevent
it from happening again. The House and Senate Intelligence committees in the
new Congress need to reinstitute genuine oversight, including a close look
at why so many intelligence officers cooperated in the dishonesty leading to
war. We owe that to the 25,000, not to mention the 650,000.
Start with Tenet and McLaughlin and include Alan Foley, the retired chief of
CIA's Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control
(WINPAC) and devotee of imaginative intelligence on bio-labs, uranium from
Niger, aluminum tubes and other artifices to justify an unnecessary war.
Most of the suspects owe their meteoric careers in large measure to Defense
Secretary Robert Gates who, as head of CIA analysis and later as CIA
director, institutionalized the politicization of CIA analysis more than 20
years ago, mostly by moving malleable managers up the pay scale.
Another beneficiary of Gates is George Tenet who, as staff director of the
Senate Intelligence committee in 1991, helped Gates overcome strong
opposition to his confirmation as director. It is a safe bet that Gates
returned the favor by recommending that Tenet be kept on as director when
George W. Bush became president in 2001.
Gates learned well at the knee of his original mentor, William Casey,
President Ronald Reagan's CIA director. They and those that followed had
remarkable success in perpetrating the dual crime of which, long ago,
Socrates was accused: making the worse case appear the better and corrupting
the youth. Thus, in September 2002 when Senate Intelligence committee
Democrats Dick Durban and Bob Graham insisted on a National Intelligence
Estimate on "weapons of mass destruction" before Congress voted for war,
George Tenet found himself the ultimate beneficiary of Robert Gates' finely
tuned Geiger counter for corruptibility. The pliant managers promoted
originally by Gates were happy to conjure up a formal estimate written to
the specifications of their frequent visitor, Vice President Dick Cheney.
Those who tell consequential lies need to be held accountable. That
includes, of course, Colin Powell. Congress needs to ask the former
Secretary of State why he decided to disregard the objections of his own
intelligence analysts and turned instead to faith-based intelligence for
war. He has expressed regret for his scandalous performance at the U.N., but
only because it put "a blot on my record." I would like to see him try that
out on Cindy Sheehan and 3,000 other bereaved mothers.
Powell and I grew up a mile from each other in the Bronx. There we had a
word for his forte, which remains a ubiquitous scourge in Washington. It
was both noun and verb: "brownnose." And it has nothing to do with skin
color. It was a familiar word before I learned "sycophant." Webster's
provides this meaning: "To ingratiate oneself with, to curry favor with;
from the implication that servility is equivalent to kissing the hinder
parts of the person from whom advancement is sought."
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D, Texas, put the effects of all this most succinctly in
a floor speech last year:
"This war was launched without an immediate threat to our families...
Radical 'know-it-all' ideologues here in Washington bent facts, distorted
intelligence and perpetrated lies designed to mislead the American people
into believing a third-rate thug had a hand in the 9/11 tragedy and was
soon to unleash a mushroom cloud."
Much is being said today about honoring the sacrifices of our fallen
soldiers. Perhaps the best way to do that is to find out who did the
misleading and hold them to account before they do it again.
[Ray McGovern was an Army infantry/intelligence officer before his 27-year
career as a CIA analyst. W. Patrick Lang, a retired Army colonel, served
with Special Forces in Vietnam, as a professor at West Point and as Defense
Intelligence Officer for the Middle East (DIA). Both are with Veteran
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.]
U.S. Special Forces teams sent overseas on secret spying missions have clashed with the CIA and carried out operations in countries that are staunch U.S. allies, prompting a new effort by the agency and the Pentagon to tighten the rules for military units engaged in espionage, according to senior U.S. intelligence and military officials.
Special Forces teams have sometimes launched missions without informing the CIA. Also In Europe. Also in Switzerland? Also Tom?
The spy missions are part of a highly classified program that officials say has better positioned the United States to track terrorist networks and capture or kill enemy operatives in regions such as the Horn of Africa, where weak governments are unable to respond to emerging threats.
But the initiative has also led to several embarrassing incidents for the United States, including a shootout in Paraguay and the exposure of a sensitive intelligence operation in East Africa, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. And to date, the effort has not led to the capture of a significant terrorism suspect.
Some intelligence officials have complained that Special Forces teams have sometimes launched missions without informing the CIA, duplicating or even jeopardizing existing operations. And they questioned deploying military teams in friendly nations - including in Europe - at a time when combat units are in short supply in war zones.
The program was approved by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and is expected to get close scrutiny by his successor, Robert M. Gates, who takes over today and has been critical of the expansion of the military's intelligence operations.
Senior officials at the CIA and the Pentagon defended the program and said they would urge Gates to support it. But they acknowledged risks for the United States in its growing reliance on Special Forces troops and other military units for espionage.
"We are at war out there and frankly we need all the help that we can get," said Marine Maj. Gen. Michael E. Ennis, who since February has served as a senior CIA official in charge of coordinating human intelligence operations with the military. "But at the same time we have to be very careful that we don't disrupt established relationships with other governments, with their liaison services, or [do] anything that would embarrass the United States."
Ennis acknowledged "really egregious mistakes" in the program, but said collaboration had improved between the CIA and the military.
"What we are seeing now, primarily, are coordination problems," Ennis said in an interview with The Times. "And really, they are fewer and fewer."
The issue underscores the sensitivity of using elite combat forces for espionage missions that have traditionally been the domain of the CIA.
After Sept. 11, the Bush administration gave expanded authority to the Special Operations Command, which oversees the Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and other elite units, in the fight against terrorism. At the same time, Rumsfeld, who lacked confidence in the CIA, directed a major expansion of the military's involvement in intelligence gathering to make the Pentagon less dependent on the agency.
Officials said this led to the secret deployment of small teams of Special Forces troops, known as military liaison elements, or MLEs, to American embassies to serve as intelligence operatives. Members of the teams undergo special training in espionage at Ft. Bragg and other facilities, according to officials familiar with the program.
The troops typically work in civilian clothes and function much like CIA case officers, cultivating sources in other governments or Islamic organizations. One objective, officials said, is to generate information that could be used to plan clandestine operations such as capturing or killing terrorism suspects.
Ennis said MLE missions were "low level" compared with those of the CIA. "The MLEs may come and go," he said, "but the CIA presence is there for the long term."
In a written response to questions from The Times, a spokesman for the Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., described MLEs as "individuals or small teams that deploy in support of (regional military commanders) in select countries, and always with the U.S. ambassador and country team's concurrence and support." But critics point to a series of incidents in recent years that have caused diplomatic problems for the United States.
In 2004, members of an MLE team operating in Paraguay shot and killed an armed assailant who tried to rob them outside a bar, said former intelligence officials familiar with the incident. U.S. officials removed the members of the team from the country, the officials said.
In another incident, members of a team in East Africa were arrested by the local government after their espionage activity was discovered.
"It was a compromised surveillance activity," said a former senior CIA official familiar with the incident. The official said members of the unit "got rolled up by locals and we got them out." The former official declined to name the country or provide other details.
He said it was an isolated example of an operation that was exposed, but that coordination problems were frequent. "They're pretty freewheeling," the former CIA official said of the military teams. He said that it was not uncommon for CIA station chiefs to learn of military intelligence operations only after they were underway, and that many conflicted with existing operations being carried out by the CIA or the foreign country's intelligence service.
Such problems "really are quite costly," said John Brennan, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. "It can cost peoples' lives, can cost sensitive programs and can set back foreign policy interests." Brennan declined to comment on specific incidents.
There have also been questions about where teams have been sent. Although conceived to bolster the U.S. presence in global trouble spots, the units have carried out operations in friendly nations in Europe and Southeast Asia where it is more difficult to justify, officials said.
On at least one occasion, a team tracked an Islamic militant in Europe. "They were trying to acquire certain information about a certain individual," said a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official declined to name the country, but said it was a NATO ally and that the host government was unaware of the mission.
Critics said such operations risked angering U.S. allies with a dubious prospect for payoff. In some countries where MLE teams are located, "There's not a chance … we're going to send somebody in there to snatch somebody unilaterally," said a government official who is familiar with the program.
At a time when the military is stretched thin, the official questioned the priority of using Special Forces for espionage, noting that the MLE program has not produced a significant success in terms of disrupting a plot or capturing a terrorist suspect.
"These are a highly trained, short-supply resource of the U.S. government," the official said. "What … are they doing there instead of Pakistan or Afghanistan?"
Gates, the former director of the CIA who is to run the Pentagon, has voiced concern over the military's encroachment on CIA missions. In an opinion piece published this year, Gates said that "more than a few CIA veterans, including me, are unhappy about the dominance of the Defense Dept. in the intelligence arena and the decline in the CIA's central role."
In response to such conflicts, the Bush administration previously designated the CIA director as the head of all U.S. human spying operations overseas, with CIA station chiefs serving as coordinators in specific countries.
Ennis, whose position at the CIA was created last year, said the agency and the Pentagon were developing a more rigorous system for screening proposed military intelligence operations.
"Like a pilot with a checklist," CIA station chiefs will be required to sign off on all aspects of a proposed military intelligence operation before it is allowed to proceed, Ennis said. The CIA station chief, he added, "would look at the risk in terms of embarrassment to the government. Do they have the right level of training to do what they claim that they want to do, and is this already being done somewhere else?"
Col. Samuel Taylor, director of public affairs for the Special Operations Command, dismissed the suggestion of coordination problems with other agencies, saying, "We have an excellent, effective and productive working relationship with the CIA."