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Posts Tagged ‘Washington Times’

How Morsi Took Power in Egypt

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Earlier this year, most analysts in Egypt assessed Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi as the key figure in that country’s politics and President Mohamed Morsi as a lightweight, so it came as a surprise when Morsi fired Tantawi on Aug. 12, 2012.

This matters because Tantawi would have kept the country out of Islamist hands while Morsi is speedily moving the country in the direction of applying Islamic law. If Morsi succeeds at this, the result will have major negative implications for America’s standing in the region.

Tantawi, then the effective ruler of Egypt, had handpicked Morsi to become president, seeing him as the safest option, someone who could be manipulated or (if necessary) replaced. Toward this end, Tantawi instructed the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) to approve Morsi as a candidate, despite his arrest on Jan. 27, 2011, for “treason and espionage,” his time in prison, and despite the SCC having excluded other Muslim Brotherhood candidates, especially the rich, charismatic, and visionary Khairat El-Shater, on the basis of their own imprisonment. Tantawi wanted the obscure, inelegant, and epileptic Morsi to run for president because Shater was too dangerous and another Brotherhood candidate, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fettouh, too popular.What happened?

Sometimes after Morsi became president on June 30, Tantawi openly signaled his intent to overthrow him via a mass demonstration to take place on Aug. 24. His mouthpiece Tawfik Okasha openly encouraged a military coup against Morsi. But Morsi acted first and took several steps on Aug. 12: he annulled the constitutional declaration limiting his power, dismissed Tantawi, and replaced him with Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the head of military intelligence.

Morsi, in brief, pre-empted the impending military coup d’état against him. Tarek al-Zomor, a leading jihadi and Morsi supporter, acknowledged that “choosing Sissi to replace Tantawi was to stop a coup,” publicly acknowledging Morsi’s urgent need to act before Aug. 24. Hamdi Kandil, one of Egypt’s most prominent journalists, rightly characterized Morsi’s act as “a civilian coup.”

They missed one hidden factor: Brotherhood-oriented military officers turn out to have been far more numerous and powerful than previously realized: they both knew about the Aug. 24 plot plan and helped Morsi to beat it. If it was long apparent that some officers had an outlook sympathetic to the Brotherhood, the extent of their network has only just come out in the three months since the coup. How did Morsi pull it off? How did the lamb slaughter the butcher? Why did so many analysts not see this coming?

For example, we now know that Major General Abbas Mekheimar, the army officer assigned to oversee the purge of officers with Brotherhood or other Islamist affiliations, himself is aligned with the Brotherhood or perhaps a member of it. As for Sissi, while the Brotherhood denies his direct membership, one of its leaders says he belongs to its informal “family” – which makes sense, seeing that high-ranking public figures best advance its agenda when not formal members. His position as head of military intelligence gave him access to information about Tantawi’s Aug. 24 planned coup and historian Ali Al-Ashmawi found that Sissi tracked military officials loyal to Tantawi and had them discharged.

Where does this leave matters? Tantawi and company are safely pensioned off, and (unlike Hosni Mubarak) are not going to jail. Sissi’s military has retreated to roughly the same position that Tantawi’s military occupied before Mubarak’s overthrow in Feb. 2011, which is to say it is allied with the president and following his leadership without being fully subordinate to him. It retains control over its own budget, its promotions and dismissals, and its economic empire.

But the military leadership lost the direct political power that it enjoyed for 1½ years in 2011-12. In retrospect, this network should not be a great surprise, for it has a precedent: the Brotherhood had infiltrated the military in the 1940s, standing behind the “Free Officers” movement that overthrew King Farouq in 1952. After having been shut out in the period 1954-74, the Muslim Brotherhood then rebuilt its network of officers in ways invisible and unknown to outside observers, including ourselves. One top Brotherhood figure,Tharwat al-Kharabawi, now acknowledges that some of the organization’s members “became high-ranking leaders in the military.”

Morsi’s future is far from assured. Not only does he face competing factions of Islamists but Egypt faces a terrible economic crisis. Morsi’s power today unquestionably brings major short-term benefits for himself and the Brotherhood; but in the long term it will likely discredit Brotherhood rule.

In short, following thirty years of stasis under Mubarak, Egypt’s political drama has just begun.

Originally published at the Washington Times and DanielPipes.org on Nov. 14, 2012.

Benghazi’s Tough Questions

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

The story of how the Obama Administration failed to secure a U.S. consulate and then failed to send in support while it was under attack may turn out to be the biggest scandal of this administration. But that will only happen if Benghazigate is the subject of a thorough and rigorous investigation. And that means basing stories on facts or on reliable reports, rather than on speculation and internet rumors that no one would take seriously in any other context.

I have received dozens of emails in the last few days claiming that General Ham was fired for trying to go ahead with a rescue operation. The story appeared in the Washington Times. The source for the Times’ story was an anonymous comment on Tiger Droppings, a forum for LSU football fans, from someone in Louisiana working in “Self Employed/Restaurants/Catering” who claimed that the story came “from someone inside the military”.

Now for all I know this story is true, but an anonymous comment on a football fan forum is not enough to run with a major story. It’s certainly not enough to start treating it as an established fact.

That comment has gone beyond the Washington Times and is being sourced in various outlets all of whom are reporting a story based on an anonymous comment on an internet forum.

On October 20th, Clare Lopez wrote a column raising various questions about Benghazi and suggesting that Ambassador Stevens may have been involved in a weapons smuggling operation moving Libyan weapons into Syria. Lopez’s column raised some questions, a lot of them, but provided no proof and no truly credible connection between Stevens and the transfer of Libyan weapons to Syrian Jihadists. Nor did that theory come with a motive for why the consulate was attacked.

Nevertheless large numbers of people have now taken it as a fact that Stevens was involved in running Libyan guns to Syria without any actual evidence to verify that as a fact. Many repeat Lopez’s suggestion that the warehouses behind the consulate stored guns meant for Syria as a statement of fact. To many people, it seems “right” and it may be true, it may not be true. The difference between the two is actual evidence.

I am not attacking Lopez, she was doing what many of us were doing in the days and weeks after the attack. I have run plenty of speculative pieces, some that were right, some that were wrong, it’s in the nature of the business to do that. The problem only begins when a speculative piece is treated as fact and when speculations begin to be used as evidence when they are only questions, not answers.

Was Stevens being set up to be used in a prisoner exchange for the Blind Sheik? It’s an interesting theory, but if Obama had really wanted to release the Blind Sheik, he would extradited him to Egypt and after waiting two months, the Egyptian government would have released him. Furthermore if the goal was to take an American hostage, then there were easier and safer ways to take Stevens than an armed attack on a consulate.

Obama might have personally benefited from a hostage crisis involving a U.S. ambassador, but it’s more likely that he would taken a hit and his entire policy on Libya would have become subject to the same scrutiny that the entire Benghazi cover-up has sought to avoid. It would have been a desperate move at a time when he didn’t see any reason for desperation and believed that he would easily win the election.

That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for all this to have taken place. Logic only takes you so far and often events are the result of bad and stupid decisions. So nothing can really be ruled out, but its plausibility can be challenged. And should be challenged because through those questions and counter-questions we can come closer to the truth.

Was Stevens involved in running guns to Libya? It’s possible, but almost somewhat unnecessary. The Saudis, Turks and Qataris had taken the lead in running guns to the groups of Jihadists that they were linked to. They really didn’t Stevens to “help” them out in their own backyard. A similar story that claims Stevens was acting as a representative for the Saudis does not make a great deal of sense. The Saudis really didn’t need an American ambassador to act as their agent in the Arab world.

The American role in the weapons pipeline was a wink and a nod to the shipments. The diplomats would pretend to see to it that the weapons were going to “moderate” rebels and that nothing too heavy was being shipped to them. Then when it turned out that the Jihadists were getting heavy weapons, there would be some plausible deniability on the table.

To what extent was Stevens playing a role in this remains an open question. But it is unlikely that even the Obama Administration would have approved of weapons transfers to groups that had not, at least formally, repudiated Al Qaeda, the way that the LIFG had. Giving weapons to Al Qaeda would contradict the entire purpose of the Arab Spring which was to weaken Al Qaeda by empowering political Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Such weapons transfers would lead to terrorist attacks and suggesting that such attacks were calculated takes us into a whole other territory.

If weapons smuggling were taking place, then Al Qaeda linked militias were not likely in the same weapons pipeline as Islamist militias linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Or weren’t supposed to be. Which is to say that there might have been two weapons smuggling pipelines, one that was supposed to go to the Brotherhood’s militias and another going to Al Qaeda linked militias and that the mission was supposed to keep an eye on both pipelines only to discover that they were one and the same.

Then I could further speculate that reports from the Benghazi mission about the transfer of weapons to Al Qaeda linked militias were intercepted and passed along by a State Department Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer back to the militias which led to a coordinated attack on the mission to blind the American eye in Benghazi.

But all this is still speculation. It’s questions piled on questions, rather than answers. It’s a series of assumptions linked to other assumptions with too much distance between known facts and the final narrative. It might be true and it might not be.

The various Benghazi conspiracy theories may be true, in part or in whole, but we have to first look at the fact that the attack was not an isolated event, but part of a series of Islamist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities coinciding with September 11. The only reason that Benghazi is unique is because it was in a city run by Islamist militias with little police or military support available making it a soft target.

Claiming that the Benghazi attack was timed to go specifically after Stevens ignores the fact that there was a series of international attacks linked to a defining date. Stevens may have been a target, or he may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, we don’t really know and we can’t know until more actual facts come out.

There might have been both a local and a global motive, but for the moment the global motive is fact, the local motive is speculation.

Al Qaeda views American embassies as a natural target. It has been carrying out such attacks since 1998 without the need for extraordinary motives to justify them. That doesn’t mean that such motives can’t exist, but it means they aren’t strictly necessary to explain what happened.

Nor is a coverup of specific wrongdoing involving the Benghazi consulate required to explain the Obama Administration’s refusal to intervene in the attack. This is not an administration that is willing to offend Muslims to save American lives. For it to have taken action in Benghazi would have been more extraordinary than not taking action.

Let’s go back to the Battle of Ganjgal in 2009.where 5 Americans were killed because they were denied artillery support under the Rules of Engagement. That battle led to Dakota Meyer, a United States Marine, receiving a Medal of Honor. The Battle of Ganjgal in multiple reprimands for the officers who denied support, but it led to no changes in the way that things were done.

Here is a statement from the father of Lance Corporal Hunter Hogan, “The policies of this current administration and the rules of engagement are a huge factor with these casualty reports. The limited air and artillery support our men receive. The limited company level support such as motors, as well as the approval to return fire are hampering and adding to the danger they are in daily.”

Here is yet a third letter from a soldier serving in Afghanistan. “The soldiers of the U.S. never engage the enemy unless we know that we have will always have the tactical advantage in defending ourselves, that advantage is the use of close air support and air weapons team. To take those weapons away from us is to level the playing field for the enemy and thus exposing our soldiers to more danger… The very presence of aircraft over our foot patrols has also saved lives and now our chain of command is being told by our political leadership that this is now not allowed.”

If this is how our soldiers in a legitimate war zone have been treated, then what reason was there to expect any other outcome in Benghazi?

When all is said and done, we will likely find that the Battle of Benghazi had more in common with the Battle of Ganjgal than it did with any of the conspiracies. And that is one of the most important points that can be made.

The four Americans killed in Benghazi were not the first Americans to die because of a policy of appeasing Muslims. They will not be the last until the entire worldview of the decision makers is forced to change. It is important not to lose sight of that in debating just what happened in Benghazi, because this is much bigger than Benghazi.

Benghazi is one spot of blood in a stain that marks the map of the globe. Countless American soldiers and civilians have died because diplomacy was thought to be a surer way of avoiding war than an aggressive posture. And if we don’t learn the lessons of Benghazi, then we will be forced to repeat them.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Why Israel spies on the US

Monday, July 30th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/07/why-israel-spys-on-the-us/

A recent AP piece tells us that the CIA considers Israel its “number one counterintelligence threat” in the Middle East.

The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency’s Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials. Counterintelligence is the art of protecting national secrets from spies. This means the CIA believes that U.S. national secrets are safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel.

The article describes several incidents illustrative of the mistrust between the intelligence agencies of the two nations, including of course the cases of Jonathan Pollard and Ben-Ami Kadish.

One wonders why this article appears now. Did the story idea suddenly pop into the heads of the AP writers? I don’t think so. Someone at the CIA decided to stick it to Israel today, when Mitt Romney is going around (correctly, in my opinion) criticizing the Obama Administration for tilting against Israel.

The piece strains mightily to find an example of a case in which Israeli spying actually damaged US interests (at least, interests that the CIA is willing to publicly admit). The best it can do is point to a Syrian scientist who was working for the CIA who might have been caught because of an Israeli leak.

It’s very probable that the massive damage to US spy networks in the USSR that Jonathan Pollard was accused of causing was actually attributable to spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen:

[US Defense Secretary Caspar] Weinberger publicly stated that Pollard was the worst spy in American history: “It is difficult for me, even in the so-called year of the spy, to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant.” Despite his plea agreement to the contrary with the government, Pollard was given the maximum sentence, life in prison. Weinberger later said that he wished Pollard had been shot.

A week after the sentencing, the Washington Times reported that the United States had identified Shabtai Kalmanovich as the Soviet spy in Israel who supposedly worked for the Mossad but was actually working for the KGB; he had betrayed American secrets to Moscow. Kalmanovich had been flying under a false flag. Washington insiders winked knowingly at one another: Pollard’s contact in Israel had been caught.

Just to make sure that Pollard was blamed, U.S. intelligence sources, several months later, leaked word to the press of the Kalmanovich connection. “A Russian mole has infiltrated the Mossad and is transmitting highly sensitive American intelligence information to the Russians,” was the report flashed around the world by United Press International on Dec. 14, 1987. Citing “American intelligence sources,” the UPI announced that the “sensitive intelligence material relayed to Israel by Jonathan Pollard had reached the KGB.”

But it was all untrue. Every bit of it. Pollard wasn’t the serial killer. The Jew didn’t do it. It was one of their own WASPs-Aldrich Ames, a drunken senior CIA official who sold the names of America’s agents to the Russians for cash. Pollard was framed for Ames’s crime, while Ames kept on drinking and spying for the Soviets for several more years. In fact, Israeli intelligence later suspected that Ames played a direct role in framing Pollard. But no one in America then knew the truth.

Ames was arrested in February 1994, and confessed to selling out American agents in the Soviet Union, but not all of them. It was only logical to assume that Pollard had betrayed the rest of them, as one former CIA official admitted shortly after Ames’s arrest. Even one life lost was too many. So Pollard continued to rot in jail. No one dreamed that yet another high-level Washington insider had sold us out to Soviet intelligence. Years passed, and eventually a Russian defector told the truth. A senior FBI official-Special Agent Robert Hanssen-had betrayed the rest of our agents. Hanssen was arrested in February 2001, and soon confessed in order to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

One must ask what, exactly, is the aim of Israeli spying against the US? It is certainly not — as  with Soviet and contemporary Russian espionage — to weaken us diplomatically and gain a military advantage in a possible conflict. Nor does it, as is the case with Chinese spying, also include a massive component of industrial espionage to erode America’s competitive advantage in world markets.

The Logic Of Rick Santorum

Friday, May 30th, 2003

Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s point about a pending Supreme Court case challenging state anti-sodomy laws seems hardly remarkable. The senator said: “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [homosexual] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery, you have the right to anything.” If the United States constitution is deemed to protect against general state laws prohibiting homosexual sex on the ground that it is consensual, then other consensual sex would also seem similarly protected, even if one could arguably reject out of hand the concept of consensual incest. Yet the crescendo of criticism from liberal quarters that followed Santorum’s comments, simply ignored the issue of their
reasonableness and focused rather on the supposed reactionary slight to an “alternative lifestyle,” to be lumped together with “really terrible activity.”

It is not de rigueur these days to take morally principled positions, and we suspect that the Supreme Court will reverse a 1986 decision upholding anti-sodomy statutes. But we predict that this brouhaha will be viewed years from now as yet another signpost in our descent from any notion of societal standards to anything and everything goes unless someone is directly and palpably harmed. That is, as Linda Chavez wrote in a recent article in the Washington Times, “Either the constitution protects the right of consenting adults to do whatever they desire in private or it does not.”

What Is Going On Here?

Thursday, October 25th, 2001

Last week we addressed the widespread feeling that a monumental failure of the American intelligence apparatus contributed to the World Trade Center disaster. Indeed, tragically, every day brings new revelations of clues all around us of the impending onslaught, from the hijackers signing on for flight training limited to flying but not taking off and landing, to a total collapse of our illegal immigrant tracking system. Perhaps the most remarkable is what apparently was making the rounds of the Internet. In Friday's Washington Times' “Inside the Beltway” column, the following appeared:

“Dr. Neil Livingstone, CEO of Global Options LLC, a Washington-based counter-terrorism and investigations company, believes terrorists, or their co-conspirators who orchestrated the attacks, may have registered as many as 17 Internet domain names that could have tipped off authorities as early as last summer…

Here are some of the eerie registered domain names which just expired:
-worldtradetowerattack.com
-tradetowerstrike.com
-horrorinamerica.com
-horrorinnewyork.com
-nycterroriststrike.com
-pearlharborinmanhattan.com…

“It is unbelievable that someone [in the law enforcement or Internet field] didn't say 'Hello?' and pick up on this,” one official who deals with the federal government on Internet-related issues tells “Inside the Beltway.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/what-is-going-on-here/2001/10/25/

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