Podcast Show #41

The Boiling Frogs Presents Gould-Fitzgerald

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Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald join us to talk about their recently released book, Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire. They discuss the origins of the Taliban and the array of armed groups in AfPak that are lumped together as “Taliban” by US media and politicians. Gould-Fitzgerald talk about Pakistan’s double play, the struggle for oil and gas that is the basis for the conflict, pipeline politics, the confused or even lack of strategy in the senseless costly war, the current corruption ridden puppet regime in Afghanistan, Obama administration’s drone-mania, their 8-point plan for ending the US occupation, and more!

GFPaul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, began their experience in Afghanistan when they were the first American journalists to acquire permission to enter behind Soviet lines in 1981 for CBS News and produced a documentary, Afghanistan Between Three Worlds, for PBS. In 1983 they returned to Kabul with Harvard Negotiation project director Roger Fisher for ABC Nightline and contributed to the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. They continued to research, write and lecture about the long-term run-up that led to the US invasion of Afghanistan. They are featured in an award winning documentary by Samira Goetschel. Titled, Our own Private Bin Laden which traces the creation of the Osama bin Laden mythology in Afghanistan and how that mythology has been used to maintain the “war on terror” approach of the Bush administration. Their latest book Crossing Zero: The AFPAK War at the Turning Point of American Empire published by City Lights in March 2011 focuses on the nuances of the Obama administration's evolving military and political strategy, those who have been chosen to implement it, and the long-term consequences for the U.S. and the region.

Here are our guests Elizabeth Gould & Paul Fitzgerald unplugged!

*For the history of democracy in Afghanistan, and a detailed recounting of the US support for the Mujahiddin during the 1980′s Soviet occupation, creating some of the “blowback” seen in the current US occupation, listen to Peter B Collins’ recent interview of the Gould-Fitzgerald duo here.

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Updates & Weekly Round Up for March 14

‘What’s up with the Boiling Frogs?!’ and A Few Noteworthy Articles

I want to start this update with a major ‘Thank You’ to those of you who’ve been helping us with our fundraising campaign. Last Thursday we made it to 500 donations supporting Boiling Frogs Post and the team. Those of you who’ve been wondering about the absence of new posts: Please check out my fundraising message, and read it again. A lot of hard work and time went into the first four months of BFP operations in order to establish the purpose, mission, and a track record for what this site intends to be.

In order to produce solid articles, editorials, analyses, and in depth interviews we need our readerships’ support. Without that we cannot afford to spend the required time and resources. We all have personal, family, financial, medical…obligations to fulfill. I do. Our team member journalists, analysts, radio host, and researchers do. As you can see, this is not one of the gazillion sites where headlines from here and there are posted with the addition of two-liner rants. Neither is it a place where personal gossip and chats form the general site content.

A thoroughly-researched, carefully written and edited editorial piece such as this one takes me an average of 12 hours, and far more is required for more complex investigative analyses. In addition to one hour of interview conducted, Peter B Collins and I have to take the time to research and read the articles and books (including the reviews) written by our guests, coordinate and schedule the interview, and afterwards edit and publish. So this is work; a fair amount of work requiring a fair amount of time. Like some of you, I am a parent; a mother to a 19 month old handful. Like many of you I have to help support myself and my family. This applies to all our team members.

Now back to our fundraising campaign. We are about to begin our 4th week, and we hope to reach the needed level to pursue this site, and do so in full force. I certainly hope that we do. What if we don’t; at least for this round? Well, then I will have to do as much as humanly possible with very limited resources and time. We may start offering Podcast interviews every other week, instead of every week. We will still have editorial pieces and other articles, but not as many or as frequent as we’d like. Or maybe in a few months we’ll have to offer this site only to those who’ve been and are willing to be supportive. I don’t know. At this point I’m hoping that we make it, and we’ll continue from where we left off for as long as we can, for as long as we have your support.

Noteworthy Articles & Links

Here is decent coverage of the ongoing power struggle in Turkey by Spiegel:

Is Erdogan Strong Enough to Take on the Generals?
Daniel Steinvorth

The Generals Last week's arrest of military brass amid allegations of a plot against the Turkish government have dealt a serious blow to the country's secular elite. But some are asking if Prime Minister Erdogan has bitten off more than he can chew.

Four-star General Cetin Dogan, 69, has a fondness for luxury. Shortly before his retirement, the army veteran, who until five years ago was the commander of the First Army of the Turkish armed forces and a feared hawk, bought a three-story beach villa in the resort town of Bodrum on the Aegean Sea, where he intended to spend his golden years.

But that vision is not likely to materialize, at least not for the foreseeable future. Last Monday, police officers with Turkey's counter-terrorism force TEM searched Dogan's dream house. The general himself was arrested in Istanbul, where he was taken away in handcuffs. No one had ever treated him like that before.

Ibrahim Firtina, 67, was also taken by surprise. The heavyset four-star general, with his bushy, Leonid Brezhnev-style eyebrows, was the commander of the 60,000-member Turkish Air Force, the pride of Anatolia, for four years. Like Dogan, he too was considered a member of the country's top military brass, an untouchable "pasha."

That was until last Monday, when police rang the doorbell at his villa in Ankara. When the pasha opened the door in his robe, his wife called out: "What do they want from you?" "You are under arrest," one of the officers said. "You have half an hour to say goodbye. Please take only a few essentials with you."

Arresting 'Golden Boy'

At about the same time, a special task force paid a visit to Özden Örnek, 67. The retired commander-in-chief of the Turkish navy, a man who was considered highly talented from an early age, a high flyer his wife affectionately referred to as "Golden Boy," was worshipped like a demigod while in office. Even after going into retirement, Örnek was fond of wearing sparkling, white uniforms in public. The police officers took him into custody while he was having breakfast. "Excuse us, Admiral, but we must arrest you now," they said politely.

As many of you are aware, significant cases and developments like this never have any coverage here in the US; thanks to the State Department. And when I say ‘significant’ I don’t mean only as a domestic issue in Turkey. These recent cases on Ergenekon have significant international implications, especially for the United States. Here is a fairly decent summary of Ergenekon for those of you who are not familiar with it: Link.

…………

Speaking of Turkey and related matters, the following articles are on the latest developments involving passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution in the US Congress:

U.S. vows bid to halt Armenian genocide measure
Reuters

ObamaMar14 The Obama administration on Friday sought to limit fallout from a resolution branding the World War One-era massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces as "genocide," and vowed to stop it from going further in Congress.

Turkey was infuriated and recalled its ambassador after a House of Representatives committee on Thursday approved the nonbinding measure condemning killings that took place nearly 100 years ago, in the last days of the Ottoman Empire.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, facing questions about the issue while traveling in Latin America, declared Congress should drop the matter now."The Obama administration strongly opposes the resolution that was passed by only one vote in the House committee and will work very hard to make sure it does not go to the House floor," she said in Guatemala City.

We should go ahead and add this to a very long list of Obama flips since taking office. Remember how Obama vowed to support the measure during the campaign, netting considerable support from Armenian-Americans as a result. Well, like everything else he had vowed, since his election he has reversed his stance on this issue too, and now vehemently opposes it. Surprised? I didn’t think so! [Read more...]

Podcast Show #11

The Boiling Frogs Presents Elizabeth Gould & Paul Fitzgerald

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Elizabeth Gould & Paul Fitzgerald discuss Afghanistan and how US foreign policy and military decisions are based on miscalculated and misunderstood Afghanistan politics, history, and culture. They talk about the ‘real’ history of Afghanistan; how the media misled the public by not laying out the fundamental facts about what was really going on, and the consequences; the differences between Pakistani Taliban and Afghani Taliban, and how our policy since 2001 has been emboldening them; the role of Pashtuns; and more!

Fitzgerald & Gould Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, began their experience in Afghanistan when they were the first American journalists to acquire permission to enter behind Soviet lines in 1981 for CBS News and produced a documentary, Afghanistan Between Three Worlds, for PBS. In 1983 they returned to Kabul with Harvard Negotiation project director Roger Fisher for ABC Nightline and contributed to the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. They continued to research, write and lecture about the long-term run-up that led to the US invasion of Afghanistan. They are featured in an award winning documentary by Samira Goetschel. Titled, Our own Private Bin Laden which traces the creation of the Osama bin Laden mythology in Afghanistan and how that mythology has been used to maintain the "war on terror" approach of the Bush administration. Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story published by City Lights, January 2009 chronicles their three-decade-focus on Afghanistan and the media.

Here are our guests Elizabeth Gould & Paul Fitzgerald unplugged!

Neocon Ex-Congressman & His ‘Laundering’ Business in Afghanistan

The Guessing Game on Our Next Clan for Afghanistan

As the bodies in Afghanistan are piling up and the number of wounded keeps escalating, while Washington is buzzing with the long-known but selectively-buried corrupt and criminal past and present of our installed government officials there, some are cashing in on both sides, and some are paving the way to the next pot(s) of gold reserved for carpetbaggers and war-profiteers in every war or conflict. In this game there are always a few known names and faces who are publicized and who draw the spotlight, and there are those who enjoy operating and profiting quietly without drawing deserved attention and needed scrutiny. That’s how Washington’s war and conflict machine works, and that’s the way our foreign policy decisions are influenced and made. I am going to introduce one such character as an introduction to my upcoming longer story on this same topic. Ladies and gentlemen please meet our Neocon Ex Congressman, Don Ritter, and be informed of his new lucrative ‘Laundering Business’ in Afghanistan.

DonRitterDon Ritter, former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania from 1979 until 1992, is known to have received positions and benefits due to his consistent and heavy involvement in Afghanistan related operations and activities, starting when Brzezinski’s vision was put in practice in 1979. He authored the "Material Assistance" to Afghanistan legislation in the Congress, created the Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan to promote such material assistance of all kinds to the Afghan resistance (including the Bin Laden Group), and held numerous meetings on Afghanistan with representatives of the State Department, CIA, and DIA to enhance U.S. assistance to the Mujahideen (which included now-evil Osama Bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistani ISI). These are only the ‘known’ activities of Mr. Ritter during his years in Congress. Now let’s look at what he’s been busy with since he left the Congress in 1992.

According to Mr. Ritter’s openly available biography, provided on various websites including Wikipedia, he founded and chaired the Afghanistan Foundation in 1996. He’s been living in Washington DC, and very interestingly, since the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, he has spent about one-third of his time in Afghanistan! Why? This is what he says when you ask him the question:

Since 2002, he has been active in developing a market economy in Afghanistan: personally as a businessman and investor in Afghan companies, and public policy wise in promoting’ free market policies of the Afghan government through organizations like the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and the Afghan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC).

So who are these Afghan this and Afghan that organizations? What do they really do? You could conduct tons of research, but rest assured you won’t find much outside the gobbledygook provided by founders and board members such as Ritter himself. Let’s start with the Afghan Foundation which was founded and operated by Don Ritter himself:

KhalilzadThe foundation has recently changed its name to Afghan-American Foundation; I guess it makes it less suspicious and more palatable to some. Ritter is the Chairman, and his long list of advisors and players includes known and infamous personalities: Qayum Karzai, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, and congressional figures including Duncan Hunter, Tom Davis, and Dana Rohrabacher, and several well-known names from the State Department. If you check their ‘Activities’ section you’ll get nothing but a handful of whitepaper and forum lists. That’s it for the Afghan Foundation.

MahmoodKarzaiNext, let’s quickly look at the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC). Don Ritter and Mahmood Karzai are the founding members. They say they are the leading organization facilitating U.S.-Afghan business, investment, and trade ties through their Matchmaking Conferences and related activities. That’s interesting to me because last time I checked we were sending Afghanistan arms and defense contracts, and the only major export they had, which happens to be pretty major, was their poppies. Maybe they are recruiting and sending tourists over there for some R & R!  Their board members and trustees include another Karzai brother, Mahmood Karzai, a dear friend of the Karzais and major Afghan Carpetbagger Mr. Aziz Azimi, and Dyn Corporation’s John A. Gastright, along with other US and Afghan war profiteers. For some reason I couldn’t find  the son of Abdul Rahim Wardak, current Defense Minister in Afghanistan who promotes himself as one of the founders and the Vice President, on the website of the organization.

As for the Afghan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC), I haven’t been able to locate their website. While mentioned in several newsletters and articles the links cited come back as invalid or take you directly to Ritter and the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce.

Let’s go back to Mr. Ritter’s entrepreneurial ventures in Afghanistan. His self aggrandizing website has this to say:

“Don is the U.S. investor and Chairman of the U.S. – Afghan company that built and operates the most modern laundry and dry cleaning plant in the region to serve the population of Kabul and execute military and government contracts. He is also currently engaged in building a mountain lodge tourism industry in the Panjshir Valley, a mini-mill for steel products for the Afghan construction boom in Herat, a business development services company in Kabul and an Afghan-American prime contractor to compete for large construction contracts.”

For the real juice on Mr. Ritter’s business dealings, my highly informed sources point me to Afghanistan’s current Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. The Afghan diaspora in DC name Wardak as one of the key figures in the highly lucrative Poppy & heroin market; albeit in hushed voices. I can’t fathom the feasibility and profitability of a laundry and dry-cleaning business in Afghanistan owned and operated by a Neocon former congressman. What is Mr. Ritter ‘laundering?’

Is Ritter focusing his business on laundering Karakul Hats?

KarakulHat

Or is he specializing in laundering Burkas?

Burka

Or is it Poppy Stained Salwars?

Salwar

The mainstream media has begun the farewell to their now-fading Karzai Man in Afghanistan as per instructions from their string holders in Washington. I’m sure you’ve seen the latest on President Karzai’s Heroin connection, a fact known by many for over a decade, and now loudly played up by the New York Times:

The brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.”

As they have done to previous Afghan heroes turned villains in the past, the MSM now have begun ousting the Karzai clan in a prelude to introducing our foreign policy makers’ new faces and puppets for the next round. Soon we’ll find out who they want us to cheer for, but meanwhile we can begin the guessing game since there seems to be little indicators buried here and there. I’d say take a closer look at current Defense Minister Wardak, the Afghan Carpetbaggers, and the greedy war profiteers behind the scenes in Washington DC, those such as Neocon Ex Congressman Don Ritter.

Stay tuned for my upcoming related tale!