Unthinking CIA Tool?

Friday, August 19th, 2011

With everything else going on in the world, particularly in the financial realm, the ongoing situation in Libya might have escaped your notice. There’s good news there, though: the tide seems to have turned. It’s no longer a matter of stalemate between the National Transitional Council’s forces and those still loyal to Muamman Qaddafi, but rather of a steady advance by the former on Qaddafi’s capital of Tripoli, and elsewhere. The German newsmagazine Focus (Gaddafi just about to jump) is among those publications bringing us these good tidings, including a quote from one of US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent speeches, “I think we can agree that Gaddafi’s days are numbered.” (You say “Gaddafi,” I say “Qaddafi.”)

My problem, though, is with something in their lede: “He is said to have concrete plans for an escape to Tunisia.”

Think about it just a little: what sort of sense does that make? Tunisia – the next door country! And one that had it’s own successful revolution, during which the revolutionaries on more than one occasion expressed their frustration that they were fighting not only against the ruling regime, but also against its supporter and bankroller over the border in Tripoli!

No, although it does seem that Qaddafi is destined sooner or later for that classic “dustbin of history,” the alleged imminent flight to Tunisia does not add up. What’s more, your favorite Middle East expert and mine, Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, has this post just out laying out in detail just how ridiculous the whole Tunisia idea is, and further speculating that what that really is, is something “from US intelligence for psy-ops purposes,” i.e. a fake story whose real purpose is to try to draw further defections from Qaddafi’s inner circle.

Now, it was NBC that was the recipient of this “scoop” originally, and indeed the Focus article does give credit – but then repeats that report. I can understand a US television network passing on questionable information from American intelligence sources hook, line & sinker, but what is the problem with Focus? What happened to those days past when anything coming to Germany from the intelligence services of the “American imperialists” was automatically suspect?

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CIA Torture Prison in Poland: Ex-President, Premier Face Indictment

Friday, August 6th, 2010

PressEurop yesterday came forward with an obscure piece of news from Poland that may nonetheless soon resonate internationally. Citing an article in that day’s edition of the mainstream Polish national daily Rzeczpospolita, they noted that no less than Polish ex-President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, his ex-premier Leszek Miller, and an “ex-head of intelligence,” one Zbigniew Siemiątkowski, were facing the prospect of going before a State Tribunal on war crimes charges stemming from the secret prison they allegedly allowed the American CIA to set up in their country back when the “War on Terror” was at its height, and which might well have been the scene for prisoner torture.

Good work, that, although the PressEurop editors did somehow miss within that Rzeczpospolita piece the credit that journal was willing to give to its arch-rival Gazeta Wyborcza for actually getting the scoop, in the form of this article which appeared the day before the Rzecz report. Also, Zbigniew Siemiątkowski was not “head of intelligence” but rather Minister of the Interior; and there is another ex-Minister of the Interior who is under investigation in this connection as well, one Krzysztof Janik.

In any event, the combined reporting from Poland’s two most-respected national dailies provides a fascinating glimpse into a story with explosive potential that still is being treated as a Top Secret matter by the prosecutorial authorities involved. As the Gazeta piece reminds us, the first indication the world had that something funny was going on in Europe was the reporting in the Washington Post of early 2005 that alleged the existence of CIA-run “black site” prison facilities in European countries. The Council of Europe then took that as a cue to investigate on its own, and soon concluded that such installations were in place in Romania, Lithuania, and Poland. When questioned at the time, Polish authorities were noticeably unhelpful, eventually admitting only that yes, there was an airport in the northeastern Polish wilderness that the government had made available for CIA flights. (more…)

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Boris Pasternak and the CIA

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

The Danish daily Morgenavis-Jyllandsposten (famous for those “Danish cartoons” a few years back) and its Moscow correspondent Niels Jürgensen have what looks like to be an exclusive concerning an interesting slice of Cold War history: CIA stood behind Pasternak’s Nobel Prize. That would be the Nobel Prize for Literature for the year 1958, awarded to the Russian author Boris Pasternak basically on the strength of his magnum opus, the novel Doctor Zhivago.

You’re probably more aware of this work in the form of the 1965 movie, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. I never saw it myself (nor, alas, have read the book yet), but am given to understand that the film played up the lovey-dovey aspects of the tale so that the sharp criticisms it contained of the take-over of power in Russia by the Bolsheviks of 1917 and their rule since then were pushed somewhat to the margins. But it was just that criticism, from a native writer of note, that made the publication of Doctor Zhivago in the West, and especially its winning its author a Nobel Prize, such a propaganda coup against the Soviet Union back during those intense Cold War days. (more…)

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Pakistan Behind the Taliban

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Information is Denmark’s leading mainstream commentary newspaper, and now its writers have responded to the recent report of President Bush approving American military actions within Pakistan without any need for permission from or warning to the Pakistani authorities with a pair of analyses: USA moves the terror-war to Pakistan, by Graham Usher, and USA’s war against terror lies in ruins, by Martin Burcharth. (more…)

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