Micheal Scheuer’s Non-Interwention. com
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I have kept quiet about former-CIA Director John Brennan’s ongoing, near-hysterical tirades against President Trump and the Republicans for two reasons. First, I thought that the critical response was pretty strong and coming from commentators whose words command a large audience. Second, I had my say in this space when Brennan was nominated to the post of CIA Director.
On 1 June 2018, however, I read Brennan’s OpEd in the New York Times. It is an egregious piece of propaganda and faux nostalgia. It also infused with the author’s overweening — and thoroughly baseless – sense of self-righteousness and personal heroism. Two items in the article particularly caught my eye. The first was Brennan’s claim that he is a “non-partisan”, which is true only in the sense of his own willingness to do anything for anybody who will improve his official position and, so, his financial position. The second was his claim that in the Oval Office of four past presidents he had heard the presidents “dismiss the political concerns of their advisers, saying, “I don’t care about my politics, it’s the right thing to do.’” (1)
The latter statement rings hilariously and viciously false to anyone who worked in the Clinton administration to prepare operations for the CIA to capture or the U.S. military to kill Osama bin Laden. Clinton, I happen to know, had ten chances in 1998-1999 to try to end the bin Laden problem and refused each opportunity when it was presented to him.
I never understood why Clinton refused every anti-UBL operational opportunity. Did he honestly believe that Americans would damn him if some Afghan and Arab civilians were killed in an attack on bin Laden that was meant to defend them and the republic, an explanation that he gave to an Australian audience on 10 September 2011?
But now, in the swirl of events that will, pray God, culminate in the annihilation of the republic’s bipartisan governing elite, I wonder if there was more to it than simply Clinton’s personal hubris and moral cowardice, and if that more could be money, Arab money.
The main commonality in the decision-making about whether to conduct an attack on bin Laden in the 1998-1999 period was that the decision was made by a small, closed group of people: Clinton, Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, DCI George Tenet, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger – who later stole probably UBL-pertinent documents from the National Archive — and, on each occasion, John Brennan. Brennan was in close and frequent contact with Tenet from his then-senior post on the Arabian Peninsula. There are, for example, messages to the White House from him, and the then-U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, pleading that an operation to capture bin Laden in Qandahar, scheduled for May-June, 1998, be canceled because the Saudi leaders had pledged to end the bin Laden problem. This and other such episodes are noted in the 2013 piece appended below.
Based on this commonality, and the fact that these men were protecting what the Saudi king and his advisers had determined to the kingdom’s interests, could it be that another factor influenced the bin-Laden-protecting decisions of Clinton, Tenet, Clarke, Berger, and Brennan. It is well-known, after all, that the Saudis and their fellow Gulf Arab monarchs amply reward foreigners who forfeit their own nation’s interests and protect theirs’. We also know that Brennan resolutely defended the Saudis’ refusal to assist in anti-UBL operations – even sending a message to CIA HQs telling the UBL unit to lay off asking for Saudi help because the requests “offended” them – and was never once directed by Clinton, Tenet, Berger, or Clarke to knock-off his sycophant approach to the Saudis and push them hard to assist in preventing bin Laden from killing more Americans. (2)
Could these men have been acting in this manner because they knew what side of their bread the Gulf tyrants were buttering? I do not know, but I do wonder, and there may be a clue. In February-March, 1999, Clinton was presented with numerous, high-quality chances to kill bin Laden – using U.S. military assets — when he was visiting a hunting camp in Afghanistan’s southern desert. The camp belonged to and was inhabited by a group of UAE princes, who heartily welcomed bin Laden to their accommodations with some regularity. Each attack opportunity was sent to the White House, and each was turned down or responded to with silence. Eventually, the camp was closed and bin Laden disappeared from the scene.
Not long afterwards, a memo written by Richard Clarke found its way to CIA. In it was a checklist of items that he had recently discussed – apparently via telephone — with the Crown Prince of the UAE. In one of the items, Clarke noted that he had, with Clinton’s permission, warned the UAE leader that U.S. intelligence knew about the princes’ desert hunting camp and also knew that bin Laden was in the area He added that it might be best for the princes not be in the area. The camp closed almost immediately after the conversation that Clarke memorialized. Shortly afterward, CIA’s Counterterrorism Center learned that the UAE Crown Prince was about to purchase more than $8 billion worth of the export model of a U.S. fighter-plane, I think the F-16.
Coincidence? Who knows, though I am not a believer in coincidences. But there may be a way to ferret out the truth. There is a brilliant and startlingly industrious gentleman named Charles Ortel who is now minutely investigating the finances of the Clinton Presidential Library and the Clinton Foundation and its various sub-organizations. There also are reports that FBI officers in Little Rock, Arkansas, are pursuing the same targets. Perhaps one or the other will find some a record of a transaction involving those institutions that is pertinent to the coincidence of the UAE’s $8 billion-plus purchase of F-16s and the decisions of Clinton, Clarke, Berger, Tenet, and Brennan to ignore the chance to kill bin Laden for what they apparently thought was the unworthy goal of saving American lives.
Beyond pure avarice, apparent criminality, and worship for Obama, could it be that the mere possibility of finding a document showing Arabs rewarding their favorite Americans is fueling John Brennan’s stuck-pig like, holier-than-thou squealing? It is, I think, worth finding out.
–1.) New York Times, 1 June 2018
–2.) I am not suggesting that these five men knew that the al-Qaeda attacks on the USS Cole (October, 2000) and then the 9/11 raid were coming. From my own experience, I doubt it, but there still are many smart people working to resolve this issue. I am asserting, however, that these five men refused to take any of the ten CIA-provided chances to kill bin Laden, and, in doing so, they could not have done anything more important to protect bin Laden in his Afghan lairs because they knew only the CIA was able to provide such capture/kill-opportunities.
John Brennan as CIA chief would serve his own interests, not America’s
France’s recent interventions in Mali and Somalia underscore the accelerating ability of Al-Qaeda-in-the-Islamic-Mahgreb (AQIM) and its Africa-based allies to threaten the continent’s nation-states, as well as access to natural resources—oil, strategic minerals, and uranium—that are essential to the French, U.S., and other Western economies. The growing power and geographical reach of AQIM mirrors the growth of all components of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups, save possibly the central component in Afghanistan-Pakistan. The bottom line here is that sixteen years after Al-Qaeda and its allies began their religious war, the United States and the West confront an Islamist enemy that is larger, better armed, smarter, and far more geographically dispersed than ever before.
Now, that paragraph merits a fuller and more data-supported explanation, but for now, let’s look at one of the men—John Brennan—who for nearly 15 years has ensured both that the above-described growth in the Islamists’ power has occurred, and that most Americans have no idea that a still-growing part of the Muslim world is at war with the United States.
This month, President Obama nominated John Brennan to be the next CIA chief. Mr. Brennan was a longtime Agency officer and held a number of senior appointments there. He also has held a number of senior positions outside the Agency in the nation’s national security apparatus. One might argue that all of these positions were based on Mr. Brennan’s unvarying willingness to say “Yes, my genius leader” to anything his boss of the moment said was a good idea. It also has been said that he was thoroughly detested inside the Agency while working for DCI George Tenet—primarily because his first question on the proposal of a covert operation to protect Americans was always was “How will this impact on Director Tenet’s reputation”—and for fully supporting the CIA’s overwhelmingly successful rendition program while Messrs. Clinton and Bush were in power, and then damning the Agency for the program and helping to destroy it when he snuggled up to President Obama and his consistently anti-CIA party. Indeed, there was a popular joke inside CIA in the 1990’s which ran something like: “Question: Why is George Tenet never photographed from behind? Answer: Because they have not found a way to dislodge John Brennan’s nose.”
Now, it surely would be unfair to deny any nominee a job because of how people reacted to his performance as professional sycophant or because of off-color humor made at his expense. But there are at least four substantive reasons to deny Mr. Brennan the job of heading the CIA. The following are those reasons, and one would think that if the Senate does not ask him about them, it will have failed to do its job.
–1) 1996: When, in December, 1995, the Agency set up a unit to dismantle al-Qaeda and capture or help the U.S. military kill Osama bin Laden, one of that unit’s first actions was to ask Mr. Brennan—who was then what George Tenet has described as “CIA’s senior officer on the Arabian Peninsula”—to secure from the Saudi intelligence service some very basic information and documents about bin Laden. The Saudis did not respond, and so the bin Laden unit sent frequent messages to Mr. Brennan asking him to secure the data. When we finally received a response from Mr. Brennan, it was to tell us that he would no longer pass the bin Laden unit’s requests to the Saudis because they were annoyed by them. DCI George Tenet backed Mr. Brennan’s decision, and when I resigned from CIA in November 2004, the Saudis had not delivered the requested data.
–Comment: I speak on this from firsthand experience, as I was the chief of the bin Laden unit at the time. The messages from Mr. Brennan refusing to push the Saudis on bin Laden are in the archives of several government agencies, but, more important, they are in the archive of the 9/11 Commission. (NB: I know the documents are there because I supplied them to the Commission.) In the latter archive, the messages have been fully redacted to protect the CIA sources and methods and so ought to be easily available to the Senators and to the media via a Freedom of Information request.
–2) May, 1998: For most of the year between May, 1997, and May, 1998, the bin Laden unit—with fine support from too few other Intelligence Community agencies—prepared an operation to capture Osama bin Laden using CIA assets. During the preparatory work, none of the bin Laden’s unit’s bin-Laden-specific information requests to the Saudis were answered, and given Mr. Brennan’s above-noted attitude, the unit was not ever sure the requests were passed to the Saudi intelligence service. Just before the capture operation was to be attempted, Mr. Brennan convinced Wyche Fowler—then U.S. ambassador in Riyadh—and DCI George Tenet that the U.S. government should cancel the capture operation. Although the Saudis had yet to lift a finger to assist U.S. efforts to counter bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and because it is the merest commonsense to know that Afghans never obey orders from any foreigner, Mr. Brennan, Ambassador Fowler, and DCI Tenet all assured then-National Security Adviser, Mr. Sandy Berger, that the capture operation should be canceled. Mr. Berger cancelled the operation, only to demand—through his assistant for terrorism Richard Clarke—that the operation immediately be restarted 75 days later when bin Laden’s al-Qaeda destroyed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania.
–Comment: I also speak on this issue from first-hand experience, as I was the chief of the bin Laden unit at the time, and also traveled in early May 1998, with DCI Tenet and the then-chief of CIA’s Near East Division to hear Mr. Brennan explain why this ludicrous reliance on the thoroughly unhelpful and often obstructive Saudis was a better way to protect Americans than by using CIA’s capabilities. Again, however, it is more important to note that the papers documenting this entire episode—including notes from Mr. Brennan, Ambassador Fowler, and DCI Tenet to Mr. Berger urging the cancellation of the capture operation—are in the archives of several government agencies, but, more important, they are in the archive of the 9/11 Commission. (NB: I know the documents are there because I supplied them to the Commission.) The latter archive the messages have been fully redacted to protect the CIA sources and methods and so ought to be easily available to the Senators and to the media via a Freedom of Information request.
–3) May, 2010: In a speech at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), John Brennan told Americans it is incorrect to attribute the words “jihad” or “jihadists” to the war being waged on America by bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and their allies. In the Obama administration, Mr. Brennan explained, we refuse to “describe our enemy as ‘jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community….” Brennan said it would be “counterproductive” for the United States to use the term, as it would “play into the false perception” that the “murderers” leading war against the West are doing so in the name of a “holy cause. Moreover, describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism—that the United States is somehow at war against Islam.” Bearing out Mr. Brennan’s testimony about the Obama administration’s position are a host of government documents—including Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points on the recent death of four U.S. officials in Benghazi, Libya—which refer to al-Qaeda or other Islamist militants not as “Muslims” or “Islamists” but in the Orwellian and deceiving term “Violent Extremists.” And, not surprisingly, the Committee on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) last week validated that Messrs. Brennan and Obama are following its orders by claiming that the word “Islamist is a stealth slur. It exists as a piece of coded language.”
–Comment: No one expects clarity or complete honesty from a politician, but when a senior U.S. bureaucrat speaks in public to Americans—who are, after all, his/her employer—about their nation’s national security, one has a right to expect that the speaker at least be in honesty’s ballpark. Mr. Brennan’s words above are—when considered objectively—as close as it is possible to come to a complete lie. Far more than 90-percent of the references to “jihad” in the Koran and the Hadith—the verified collection of the Prophet Mohammad’s sayings and practices—are martial in nature, and the one Hadith that provided the basis for Mr. Brennan’s lie has never been verified, is not included in the authoritative/verified Hadith collections, and is mainly used to mislead Americans by such apologists for militant Islam as the leaders of CAIR, the Muslim Brotherhood, and academics like Georgetown’s Professor John Esposito. The Senate, one would think, should ask Mr. Brennan to explain his lie, as well as to explain why the administrations he has served as a senior adviser—those of Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama—have completely ignored the words spoken and written by Osama bin Laden and other Islamist leaders, even though there is a remarkably high correlation between the motivations and intentions they express and the actions they take in their religious war against America and its allies. A Senator might even find it appropriate to remind Mr. Brennan that the United States made a mistake similar to his in the 1920s when it ignored the motivations, intentions, and prescriptions for actions found in the words of former corporal in the Kaiser’s army.
–4.) 2013: Since May, 2011, when Osama bin Laden was marvelously killed through cooperation between the CIA and the U.S. Navy Seals, Mr. Brennan has consistently told Americas that the Obama administration’s policies have yielded a substantial reduction in the power, reach, and capabilities of al-Qaeda and its Islamist allies. To be fair, President Osama and Republican leaders repeatedly have said the same thing; most recently, President Osama said as much as he met Afghan President Karzai to finalize plans for America’s abject defeat in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul.
–Comment: During his confirmation hearings, the Senators should display two maps for Mr. Brennan. The maps should be simple and clear political maps of the world—no rivers or mountains to make viewing arduous. One should represent September 2001, and the other should represent Spring 2013. The one for 2001 will show al-Qaeda and its allies overwhelmingly domiciled in their Afghanistan stronghold, along with a scattering of small cells around the world. The map for 2013, on the other hand, will show al-Qaeda and other Islamists still active in Afghanistan, but also has having established other large enclaves—where training, arms caches, and operational planning can be easily accommodated—in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Palestine, across North Africa, Nigeria, and, as noted above, in northern Mali. Given that even a cursory comparison of the maps will show the Senators and all Americans that the post-9/11 al-Qaeda-Islamist movement has grown significantly in numbers and geographical reach, Mr. Brennan might reasonably be asked to explain why he, as well as the Clinton, Bush, and Osama administrations he served, have invariably misled Americans by asserting that the Islamist threat is receding.
The foregoing four points, I think, provide firm substantive ground on which to evaluate Mr. Brennan’s fitness to be chief of the CIA, and will allow his reputation for servile toadyism and deception to be left aside. I would also add that there are at least three children who deserve to hear Mr. Brennan’s answers. Let me explain.
In late 1995, I interviewed and hired a young Agency officer to work in the bin Laden unit. Over the next decade-plus, she and her colleagues in the unit and overseas succeeded in defining the motivations and leadership ability of Osama bin Laden; the organizational structure of al-Qaeda and its ties to other Islamist groups; al-Qaeda’s highly lethal intentions and capabilities; and provided the Clinton, Bush, and Osama administrations with at least 12 chances (May-1998-May, 2011) to capture or kill bin Laden—only the 12th of which was taken.
Over these years, the young woman I hired performed brilliantly, while having had three beautiful children who are now motherless because their Moma was killed by al-Qaeda at Khowst, Afghanistan, in December 2008, still trying to find Osama bin Laden after all the other chances she helped deliver to U.S. presidents were ignored. Those three children, as well as the mothers, children, wives, parents, husbands, and fathers of those intelligence officers and military personnel who have been killed and maimed in the war against al-Qaeda and Islamism deserve to hear Mr. Brennan explain those of his actions that helped keep bin Laden alive to kill so many Americans, as well as why he and his political masters have consistently lied to all Americans about the threat they face from the growing Islamist movement. I trust that those three motherless children—and the deceased CIA officer who bore them—will be front and center in the minds of the Senators when they question Mr. Brennan.
Image: John Brennan, a former senior CIA official under President George W. Bush, served as President Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor during his first term and then as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from March 8, 2013 until January 20, 2017. Photo source: investigaterussia.org. / selected by wg.pco