Weekly Round Up for October 17

The ‘Obvious’ Silence of the Times, China’s Pipelineistan War, Mujahedin’s Penetration of Tajikistan

The other day our friend Metem brought to my attention a story that had made it to the Project Censored list, ‘US Funds & Supports Taliban.’ Here are two excerpts from the introduction which are related to our coverage of the mysterious helicopter activities in northern Afghanistan.

NYT1017In a continuous flow of money, American tax dollars end up paying members of the Taliban and funding a volatile environment in Afghanistan. Private contractors pay insurgents with the hope of attaining the very safety they are contracted to provide. Concurrently, US soldiers pay at checkpoints run by suspected insurgents in order to get safe passage. In some cases, Afghan companies run by former Taliban members, like President Hamid Karzai’s cousin, are protecting the passage of American soldiers. The funding of the insurgents, along with rumors of American helicopters ferrying Taliban members in Afghanistan, has led to widespread distrust of American forces. In the meantime, the US taxpayer’s dollar continues to fund insurgents to protect American troops so they can fight insurgents.

Ahmad Rate Popal is a grand example of how those who controlled Afghanistan under Taliban rule are still controlling Afghanistan today and being paid by US tax dollars. Popal, who served as interpreter at one of the ruling Taliban’s last press conferences, is greatly increasing his wealth through the US war in Afghanistan. In 1988, he was charged with conspiring to import heroin into the United States. He was released from prison in 1997. Popal’s cousin is Afghanistan’s President Karzai. Popal and his brother Rashid (who pleaded guilty in 1996 to a separate heroin charge) control the Watan Group in Afghanistan, which is a consortium engaged in many different fields of business. One of Watan’s enterprises is to protect convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies. Popal is one example of the virtual carnival of improbable characters and shady connections, with former CIA officials and ex-military officers in Afghanistan joining hands with former Taliban members and mujahideen to collect US government funds in the name of the war effort.

Okay, that’s what the article is about but it isn’t what got my attention. Here is what I’m getting at:

An example of these contracts are those granted to the NCL Holdings in Afghanistan run by Hamed Wardak, the young American son of Afghanistan’s current defense minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak. NCL is a small firm that was awarded a US military logistics contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite the fact that the firm only operates in Afghanistan, Wardak incorporated NCL in the United States early in 2007, due to his connections there.

On NCL’s advisory board is Milton Bearden, a well-known former CIA officer who in 2009 was introduced by Senator John Kerry as “a legendary former CIA case officer and a clearheaded thinker and writer.” Bearden is an incredible asset to a small defense contracting firm. Wardak was able to get a contract for Host Nation Trucking despite having no apparent trucking experience. The contract is aimed at handling the bulk of US trucking in Afghanistan, bringing supplies to bases and remote outposts throughout Afghanistan. At first the contract was small, but very quickly it expanded by 600 percent, making it a gargantuan contract worth $360 million. NCL had struck pure contracting gold. These profits, which only go to a very select and well-connected portion of the Afghan people, build a large amount of distrust from Afghan citizens toward American troops and those connected to them.

And, this is the part where Project Censored for whatever reason didn’t go one step further:

Since our initial search of corporate media coverage on this issue in February 2010, finding zero coverage at that time, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have covered part of the story on their front pages. Both mentioned President Hamid Karzai’s cousin, and both acknowledged that in all likelihood money is making its way to the Taliban. Neither paper mentioned the US connection, Milton Bearden. The Washington Post covered the story on March 29, 2010, and mentioned the Nation magazine article. The New York Times story came out on June 6, 2010, acknowledging the corruption, but included the news that President Obama was addressing the issue with President Karzai. That the two stories came out two months apart, and that the US links are left out, led to the decision at Project Censored to keep this important story in the top censored stories list for the year.

Way back when, I wrote a couple of pieces on a few of these personalities that have been totally, and intentionally, overlooked by the mainstream media and  the like. Do you remember our piece on General Wardak, his son Hamed Wardak, ex CIA operative with a fairly dubious history, and an ex- congressman in the ‘laundering’ business? Let me refresh your memory:

RittAs 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 always are 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.

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?’

Please do me a favor and read the brief piece here

After that piece I wrote a much longer related piece (okay, much much longer; the usual ‘Sibel length’!) which introduced you further to General Wardak, his son-Hamed Wardak, and Ex CIA operative, Milton Bearden. Again, a few excerpts follow:

BeardOnce upon a time there was man named Milton Bearden, commonly referred to as Milt. He spent his early years in the state of Washington where his father worked on the Manhattan Project. After a few years with the US Air Force he joined the CIA in 1964.

Milt was CIA’s chosen man for their operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact, from 1986 to 1989, when our country was supporting the Mujahideen, he was one of their main men on the ground, working with this coalition of the Taliban, the Saudis and their main man Bin Laden, and the Pakistani ISI. The Director of the CIA, William Casey, was the one who appointed Milt Bearden for this task. Here is Milt’s own words describing his importance in a not very unusual ex-CIA conceited manner:

Milt’s cushy CIA retirement and all those glowing medals must not have been enough, for he then engaged in frenzied marketing and self promotion to get himself entrenched in almost all major US networks and newspapers as a consultant, writer, advisor, and of course as a trusted source - a CIA source to provide quotes and information for scripts at the snap of a finger. He coauthored a book with New York Times reporter James Risen called The Main Enemy. Whether this kind of business arrangement, where a commonly used source partners up with a reporter, presents a conflict of interest or even could be called incestuous, is everyone else’s call.

Most interestingly Mr. Bearden seemed to have lured in the American mainstream media by presenting himself as an outspoken critique of the Bush White House Intelligence policies after the September 11 terrorists’ attack. He suddenly became a major spokesperson on ‘how we created this monster called Osama Bin Laden,’ and the nasty radical Taliban. And the mainstream media couldn’t get enough of him. Ironically, he happened to be the man after William Casey and Neocons’ Jeane Kirkpatrick’s own hearts in creating the Bin Laden monster, bolstering the radical Taliban brand of Islamism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and kosherizing all dirty deeds as means to justify the end(s). He didn’t get those medals or promotions for nothing!

Our General Wardak disappeared from the Afghan scene at the beginning of the civil war in the 1990s. He brought his family to the United States where he settled comfortably with enough wealth from undetermined sources, and he enrolled his son, Hamed, in Georgetown University.

The Karzai brothers took a great interest in Wardak Junior, and he enjoyed the benefits of the Karzais’ flashy and high-flying friends. After the September 11 Terror Attacks, the Karzais made Hamed the Vice President of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce, which was founded by Mahmood Karzai. As I mentioned briefly in my piece, our Neocon Ex-Congressman Don Ritter happens to be the co-founder of this organization. Hamed was also appointed to an advisor’s post with President Karzai’s first Finance Minister, Ashraf Ghani. No small accomplishment for the barely 30 year old Hamed!

Hamed Wardak’s most productive venture in tapping into the US Defense Sector Pot(s) of Gold began with joining a Washington DC contracting firm, Technologists Inc., founded by Aziz Azimi, who happened to be a very close buddy of Qayum Karzai. Here is a further detail on this by e-Ariana:

“Hamed Wardak’s new alliances proved extraordinarily advantageous as George W. Bush launched his “war on terror,” particularly with Khalilzad and Strmecki enjoying direct access to Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office.”

Do you want to check out the kind of contracts, the kind of millions, we are talking about with Technologists Inc.? Here is one for you:

Technologists, Inc., Rosslyn, Va., was awarded on Jan. 5, 2009, a $96,090,519 firm fixed price contract for the construction of an Afghanistan National Police National Training Center. Work will be performed in Maydan Wardak, Afghanistan, and is expected to be completed by Mar. 31, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Oct. 1, 2008, and 13 bids were received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Afghanistan, is the contracting activity (W917PM-09-C-0005).

That’s right. Just one of these contracts is worth nearly $100 million for connected Afghan carpetbaggers cashing in on wars suffered by ordinary American tax payers and US soldiers.

Here is one of our characters who hasn’t made an appearance for several pages: Milt Bearden, the EX-CIA Rambo in Afghanistan in the 80s, the US media darling on Osama Bin Laden, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban…you name it, the shrewd self promoter with books and movies:

Milt Bearden must have been pretty familiar with our General Wardak since he was on the ground in Afghanistan serving his masters at the CIA and the Whitehouse, including the great advocator of ‘use any means,’ our Godmother of Neocons, Jeane Kirkpatrick. Operation Cyclone must certainly have brought him in contact with involved Taliban Generals, including our General, Osama Bin Laden, and other key ISI operators, and his dealings must certainly have included the major heroin operations tapped into to further fund these ‘freedom fighters.’ In fact, our Spook dealt extensively with Hekmatyar, who is considered one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Heroin Operator in Afghanistan - which supplies 90% of the world’s Heroin:

One U.S. official who had considerable dealings with Mr. Hekmatyar was Milt Bearden, who during the Soviet occupation ran the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's covert program in Afghanistan. He says Mr. Hekmatyar struck him as "quirky and paranoid."

Thus, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that our Ex-Spook took an interest in our General’s son, and translated this interest into a close business partnership when our young and chubby Hamed Wardak got closer and closer to big Pots of Gold in Washington DC and his father made it to the Defense Minister position in Afghanistan.

After Hamed Wardak left Technologists Inc. to go further in tapping the US Defense Contractor Gold Pots, and to set up various other front businesses in Afghanistan, many of which happen to be in security sectors, he formed a new front organization, Campaign for a US-Afghan Partnership. Guess who he appointed as the top man for the Board of this ambigious organization? That’s right, none other than our ex-spook, media supplier, Milton Bearden. Check out his glowing background listed on Hamed Wardak’s organization’s website: click here. What exactly this organization does, no one really knows, which should go as another credit to our Mr. Bearden’s CIA background in keeping things convoluted and secretive.

Rumors from the Ex-CIA community in the DC area point to another highly lucrative Wardak company paid by US tax payers, NCL, in Kabul, and hint that their buddy Milt may have been playing a major role there. Because of Mr. Bearden’s cozy relationships no one in the media has been looking for these deeper engagements and lucrative partnerships between him and Hamed Wardak.

You can read the entire piece on Bearden-Wardak and more here. Come on Project Censored! Why not talk about this ex spook’s intimate relationship with the New York Times?! Not only has he been their revered source, but he is the partner of their top reporter. How could James Risen partner up with him (financially, in the publicity arena…), and still he and others use Bearden as their valued source and in many cases as their only source?! As for The Washington Post: this would fall within the coverage area of our infamous Walter Pincus. Yes, I’m talking about the long ago exposed Pincus from Operation Mockingbird, and the father of Pincus Junior who happens to be an attorney for the infamous Black Water (aka XE and several other nicknames).

………………………………………………………..

Operation Tajikistan

OpTajLast week I wrote a piece on the latest developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus which briefly covered the  Mysterious Helicopter Activities in Northern Afghanistan. Using a tad of common sense we checked out the strategically important neighbors in this region where these officially denied (vehemently, that is) mysterious activities took place, and one of the three countries of interest was Tajikistan. Here are a few related articles dealing with our topic and Tajikistan.

Also last week Asia Times ran the following convoluted piece on Tajikistan. The piece is filled with speculations, interpretations, and even wild guesses:

Tajikistan struggles to quell militants

As Tajik government forces continue a security sweep to crush armed groups in the eastern mountains after losing 25 soldiers in an ambush, analysts are divided on the reasons for this resurgence in militant activity.

Enquiries by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) indicate that the resistance is coming from local paramilitary forces led by guerrilla leaders from Tajikistan's 1992-97 civil war.

Claims by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, IMU, a militant group allied with the Taliban, that it was behind the attack are probably not entirely accurate but may contain a grain of truth, as the IMU has contacts with the Tajik groups and may have sent emissaries to encourage them to rise up.

And here is another opinion: [Read more...]

Updates & Weekly Round Up for January 2

Boiling Frogs Updates, Lithuania & CIA Black Sites, the Case of Mysterious Helicopters in Afghanistan & More

And here we are: 2010. Hope you had a pleasant and peaceful holiday season, and Happy New Year to all of you.

ElaChristmas2009

I had a fairly quiet and peaceful few days: fireplace, music, and trying to catch up with my reading - which means juggling 3 or 4 books simultaneously. Of course everything, almost every minute, was centered around my now 17-month old daughter (thus, the picture ;-). I also was able to read one fiction book; from beginning to end, and that was so very refreshing. I know some of you are frowning and thinking: why in the world would she consider reading fiction refreshing?! Fair enough. I say refreshing because for the last…many years I’ve been busy reading, and reading, only nonfiction, and mainly political and legal books. Although needed, enlightening, and highly informative, they are mostly…how should I put it…GRIM; high dosages of realism, but nonetheless grim. So in a way it felt liberating to grab a fiction work guiltlessly and immerse myself in a so-not-real world of fiction. What did I read? Well, I won’t tell you, because the label of ‘shallow-book-reader’ may be used against me one day!!

Our production team will start their work on our video project on January 11.  I think we should have our first experimental piece up by early February, if not sooner. I also know they’ll be reading this last sentence and jump to e-mail me with ‘How is that for a little pressure?!!!’ Truly exciting.

Next Friday I’ll post our interview with Dan Ellsberg; a great interview (due to Dan, not me!).I am really looking forward to your reaction. We covered several interesting issues, and you’ll find out if Dan Ellsberg believes he was conned into voting for President Obama, and whether that makes Obama a con man. You see, very interesting, indeed!

As usual there have been so many disasters, scandals, and hot developments, and only one of me to go over as many as possible, leave out those overly-covered, dispose of the ones not worthy of getting side-tracked on, ignore the few put out there as partisan baits, and save many for another day(s). Here are a few to ponder and hopefully exchange views on:

CIA Black Sites: As if there’s ever been any other color associated with the CIA!

BlackSiteTowards late December the Lithuanian Parliament finally released its findings into a probe of CIA dark activities in Lithuania, and confirmed that the agency operated two ‘Black Sites’ inside the Lithuanian Capital City Vilnius.

The probe also confirmed that at least five CIA planes landed in the city and that Lithuania’s spy agencies didn’t let their border guards inspect those planes. Lithuania’s government is still denying that they were informed of these activities in advance, and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius called it a “matter of great concern.” Of course, so far the US government has declined to provide any confirmation or comments.

Last August a little bit of description of these sites and the treatment given to these detainees were published in an article:

Their transformations took place in a sensory cocoon: aboard a CIA aircraft, shackled in place, deprived of sight and sound by blindfolds, headsets and hoods.

The prisoners' arrival -- almost always in diapers -- was engineered to achieve that end

They were stripped, shaved and shoved against walls the moment they arrived. What came next was an escalating menu of interrogation options, culminating in a method used in the Inquisition -- waterboarding -- to make them think they would drown.

Follow-up sessions would start with the prisoner standing with his back against a wall and a towel or collar to prevent whiplash wrapped around his neck. He could be thrown against the wall just once "to make a point, or 20 to 30 times consecutively."

Prisoners so abhorred the repeated slamming that they would remain in so-called stress positions, such as painful kneeling postures, for hours to avoid a return to the wall, according to one Dec. 30, 2004, memo that amounts to a CIA blueprint for breaking a detainee's will.

The purpose, of course, was to make them talk. The Bush administration said the United States was in danger of additional assaults after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. CIA interrogators were under orders to get a lot of information, fast. Whether the harsh interrogation methods were necessary to gather the intelligence is still a matter of dispute.

The only glimpse?

The secret overseas "black sites" where the CIA conducted the interrogations are empty now, if not already dismantled. They were never examined by a congressional committee, nor inspected by the international Red Cross.

The black sites not only imprisoned men but reduced them to a near helpless state. The aim, as outlined in one document, was to teach every detainee "to perceive and value his personal welfare, comfort and immediate needs more than the information he is protecting."

I don’t have to go any further on the human rights abuses and shameful conduct in not only the ‘black’ facilities in Lithuania, but many others we’ve known about, such as those in Thailand, Poland, and Romania, and others that haven’t been publicized - yet.

Based on Wikipedia, Black Sites are defined as: In military terminology, a black site is a location at which a black project is conducted. Recently, the term has gained notoriety in describing secret prisons operated by the CIA, generally outside of U.S. territory and legal jurisdiction. It can refer to the facilities that are controlled by the CIA used by the US government in its war on terror to detain alleged unlawful enemy combatants.

In August 2007, the New Yorker reported that the CIA has operated black site secret prisons by the direct Presidential order of Bush right after 9/11, and that extreme psychological interrogation measures based at least partially on the Vietnam-Era Phoenix Program were used on detainees. These included sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, keeping prisoners naked indefinitely and photographing them naked to degrade and humiliate them, and forcibly administering drugs by suppositories to further break down their dignity. According to Mayer's report, CIA officers have taken out professional liability insurance, fearing that they could be criminally prosecuted if what they have already done became public knowledge.

Okay, there you have the CIA and its Black Projects, Black Operations, Black Sites, Black Budget…Has there ever been any shade other than dark, any color other than black associated with this filthy hornets’ nest thriving in the swamps of our foreign policies? Really, has there ever?

Speaking of these black measures of black operations in black sites brings to mind our conduct in Vietnam, and with that, the following:

CIA & the Vicious Cycle of Offenses-Defenses-Offenses-Defenses-Offenses…

The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan continues to rise. The latest attack in Helmand province this week killed at least 8 civilians, and at least three of those victims were children. [Read more...]