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Ed Webb

How Two Persian Gulf Nations Turned The US Media Into Their Battleground - 0 views

  • Two rival Persian Gulf nations have for the past year been conducting a tit-for-tat battle of leaked emails in US news outlets that appears, at least in part, to have been an effort to influence Trump administration policy toward Iran.
  • On one side is the United Arab Emirates, a wealthy confederation of seven small states allied with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s bitter foe. On the other is Qatar, another oil-rich Arab monarchy, but one that maintains friendly relations with Iran, with which it shares a giant natural gas field.
  • unfolding battle alarms transparency advocates who fear it will usher in an era in which computer hacking and the dissemination of hacked emails will become the norm in international foreign policy disputes
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  • “You could spend years campaigning traditionally against someone or you could hack an email account and leak salacious details to the media. If you have no scruples, and access to hackers, the choice is obvious.”
  • This is the new warfare. This is something the governments use for commercial reasons, use for political reasons, and use to destroy their opponents
  • Tensions have been building for years between the UAE and Qatar. The two have feuded over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that many Persian Gulf monarchies see as a threat to their hereditary kingdoms. They’ve also been at odds over Qatar’s friendly relations with Iran and its backing of the Al Jazeera television channel, whose newscasts are often critical of Arab autocrats.The feud broke into the open on May 24 last year when someone hacked into the website and Twitter account of Qatar’s government news agency, QNA, and posted news stories and tweets that quoted the country’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, making bizarrely pro-Iran statements.Qatar disavowed the remarks within an hour, and its foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, quickly texted the UAE’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, that the statements weren’t true. Qatar took its official news website down, and still hasn’t brought it back online.But the damage had been done
  • The UAE and Saudi Arabia, with the backing of the Trump administration, used the hacked news stories as a pretext for severing relations with Qatar, imposing a blockade, and making 13 demands, including that Qatar cut all ties with Iran and shut down Al Jazeera and all other state-funded news sites.
  • “They weaponized fake news to justify the illegal blockade of Qatar,” said Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s Washington-based media attaché. “In the year since then, we have seen their repeated use of cyberespionage, fake news, and propaganda to justify unlawful actions and obfuscate underhanded dealings.”
  • he FBI concluded that freelance Russian hackers had carried out the operation on the UAE’s behalf
  • In June of last year, someone began leaking the contents of a Hotmail account belonging to Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE’s flashy ambassador to the United States. The leaks were distributed to a group of online news sites, including the Huffington Post, the Intercept, and the Daily Beast.“The leakers claimed the documents had been provided to them by a paid whistleblower embedded in a Washington, DC, lobbyist group, though it’s clear from even a cursory examination that they were printed out from Al Otaiba’s Hotmail account,”
  • “It’s not clear whether Otaiba’s inbox was hacked or passed along by someone with access to the account,”
  • The most damaging email leaks came in March when someone went after Elliott Broidy, a 60-year-old American hired to lobby for the UAE, and whose company, Circinus, has received more than $200 billion in defense contracts from the country. In recent years, he’s been one of the loudest American voices against Qatar, employing tactics ranging from anti-Qatar op-eds to personally lobbying Donald Trump to support the blockade against it.Broidy was in a prime position to lobby the president. He was the Republican Party’s vice chair of fundraising until April 13, when he resigned after the Wall Street Journal revealed that he’d used Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay a 34-year-old former Playboy model $1.6 million in hush money after he’d gotten her pregnant. The Journal said leaked emails played no role in that coverage.
  • “There was thought and calculation behind how this material was being distributed,” Wieder, who wrote about the emails in a follow-up story, told BuzzFeed News. “It’s not the old-school, WikiLeaks, ‘everything’s up on a site; make what you will of it.’”
Ed Webb

Leaking Ghost Tankers: Pollution in the Port of Aden - Peace Organization PAX - 0 views

  • Decaying oil tankers at the coasts of Yemen pose serious risks to the environment and the people depending on it, reminding us starkly how conflicts can bring serious pollution risks. New open source research by PAX reveals multiple oil spills from rusty ships that have been polluting the coastal areas around the Port of Aden. If no action is taken by the authorities to remove these ships, it is only a matter of time before a new disaster will unfold.
  • Current international attention is mainly focused on finding a solution for the decaying oil tanker FSO SAFER loaded with 1.1 million barrels of oil. The tanker is at risk of sinking or exploding, which would create a regional environmental catastrophe. Yet over the course of the last years, smaller incidents around oil tankers in Yemen’s ports, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have been mounting as well. Ranging from direct attacks on oil tankers to abandoned ships sinking and fires at port refineries, the conflict continues to create serious local pollution problems.
  • The war itself already poses serious environmental challenges that impact both Yemen’s population and its precious ecosystems. This ranges from structural leaking oil incidents documented by the Yemen environmentalist group Holmakhdar and the Sanaa Center, to broader environmental problems, and conflict-linked cutting and dying of millions of date palms, demonstrated by the open-source investigative group Bellingcat. The current weak state of governance and oversight around the many environmental challenges Yemen is facing continues to result in ongoing incidents that worsen the state of environment and affect the people depending on it.  Not only does this currently already lead to mounting environmental health risks and degraded ecosystems, these impacts will also worsen climate resilience for the conflict-affected country due to more extreme weather events, water shortages and rising temperatures
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  • According to the experts, over 40 tons of oil was leaked from the leaking tanker, though this has not been confirmed by the local authorities
  • PAX has observed leaks from two ships, including a large spill on July 5,2022 from the PEARL OF ATHENA that continued for 18 days until July 23. Oil slicks have washed ashore, polluting the coastal environment, and could pose a long-term risk to the marine environment in and around the bay of Aden, which could pose particular threats to the livelihoods of fishing communities. Hydrocarbons from crude oil and refined products contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, zinc, cadmium and mercury that can accumulate around coastal soils and sediments, be ingested by marine organisms such as fish, affect marine birds and mammals and impact marine ecosystems.
  • Large spills such as this one are also likely to hold up the arrival of ships that need to offload humanitarian goods in the container terminal. This is because ships are not able to go into the port until such slicks are removed to prevent further dispersal of the oil by the movement of incoming ships.  
  • The ongoing war in Yemen continues to stress local authorities’ capacities to address both the issues with dilapidated oil tankers and set up a proper environmental monitoring and enforcement mechanism for ships arriving in the Port of Aden
  • A damage assessment conducted by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in 2021 found that at over 20 million USD was needed for reparations at the container terminal alone. The report, also stated that:  “Health, safety, and environmental awareness in the Port is currently unacceptable. The Port contains large areas of conflict-damaged debris, damaged and unusable equipment, and equipment and materials being stored for future use.”  
  • The arrival of ballast water on ships trading to ports in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (..) has the potential to do more harm to the marine environment than a major oil pollution incident. (..) Dumping of hazardous materials at sea in waters close to the Gulf of Aden has the potential to carry serious pollution hazards into the region.”   
  • the international community has failed to pick up the bill to effectively prevent a major environmental disaster with the FSO SAFER, despite the UN starting a public campaign to raise $20 million dollar to prevent a serious disaster posed by the tanker. Meanwhile, western countries continue to allow for billions in weapons sales to the countries bombing Yemen.  
  • The remaining tankers in the Port of Aden continue to pose a risk of sinking, which would likely lead to further environmental pollution with effects on coastal areas. This would particularly impact fishing communities and surrounding ecosystems
Ed Webb

Exclusive: Secret Trump order gives CIA more powers to launch cyberattacks - 0 views

  • The Central Intelligence Agency has conducted a series of covert cyber operations against Iran and other targets since winning a secret victory in 2018 when President Trump signed what amounts to a sweeping authorization for such activities
  • The secret authorization, known as a presidential finding, gives the spy agency more freedom in both the kinds of operations it conducts and who it targets, undoing many restrictions that had been in place under prior administrations
  • Unlike previous presidential findings that have focused on a specific foreign policy objective or outcome — such as preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power — this directive, driven by the National Security Council and crafted by the CIA, focuses more broadly on a capability: covert action in cyberspace.  
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  • countries include Russia, China, Iran and North Korea — which are mentioned directly in the document — but the finding potentially applies to others as well
  • offensive cyber operations with the aim of producing disruption — like cutting off electricity or compromising an intelligence operation by dumping documents online — as well as destruction, similar to the U.S.-Israeli 2009 Stuxnet attack, which destroyed centrifuges that Iran used to enrich uranium gas for its nuclear program
  • freed the agency to conduct disruptive operations against organizations that were largely off limits previously, such as banks and other financial institutions
  • it lessened the evidentiary requirements that limited the CIA’s ability to conduct covert cyber operations against entities like media organizations, charities, religious institutions or businesses believed to be working on behalf of adversaries’ foreign intelligence services, as well as individuals affiliated with these organizations
  • “as long as you can show that it vaguely looks like the charity is working on behalf of that government, then you’re good.”
  • Since the finding was signed two years ago, the agency has carried out at least a dozen operations that were on its wish list, according to this former official. “This has been a combination of destructive things — stuff is on fire and exploding — and also public dissemination of data: leaking or things that look like leaking.” 
  • “We’re playing semantics — destabilization is functionally the same thing as regime change. It’s a deniability issue,”
  • “Our government is basically turning into f****ing WikiLeaks, [using] secure communications on the dark web with dissidents, hacking and dumping,”
  • critics, including some former U.S. officials, see a potentially dangerous attenuation of intelligence oversight, which could have unintended consequences and even put people’s lives at risk
  • “Trump came in and way overcorrected,” said a former official. Covert cyber operations that in the past would have been rigorously vetted through the NSC, with sometimes years-long gaps between formulation and execution, now go “from idea to approval in weeks,” said the former official. 
  • an unknown group in March 2019 posted on the internet chat platform Telegram the names, addresses, phone numbers and photos of Iranian intelligence officers allegedly involved in hacking operations, as well as hacking tools used by Iranian intelligence operatives. That November, the details of 15 million debit cards for customers of three Iranian banks linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were also dumped on Telegram.Although sources wouldn’t say if the CIA was behind those Iran breaches, the finding’s expansion of CIA authorities to target financial institutions, such as an operation to leak bank card data, represents a significant escalation in U.S. cyber operations
  • These were operations the “CIA always knew were an option, but were always a bridge too far," said a former official. “They had been bandied about at senior levels for a long time, but cooler heads had always prevailed." 
  • “It was obvious that destabilization was the plan on Iran,”
  • Neither these two Iran-related findings, nor the new cyber finding, mention regime change as a stated goal, according to former officials. Over time, however, the CIA and other national security officials have interpreted the first two Iran findings increasingly broadly, with covert activities evolving from their narrow focus on stopping Tehran’s nuclear program, they said. The Iran findings have been subject to “classic mission creep,” said one former official.
  • senior Trump officials weren’t interested in retaliating against Russia for the election interference
  • The CIA’s “deconfliction is poor, they’re not keeping people in the loop on what their cyber operations are,”
  • This more permissive environment may also intensify concerns about the CIA’s ability to secure its hacking arsenal. In 2017, WikiLeaks published a large cache of CIA hacking tools known as “Vault 7.” The leak, which a partially declassified CIA assessment called “the largest data loss in CIA history,” was made possible by “woefully lax” security practices at the CIA’s top hacker unit, the assessment said.
  • Removing NSC oversight of covert operations is a significant departure from recent history, according to Eatinger. “I would look at the intel community as the same as the military in that there should be civilian control of big decisions — who to go to war against, who to launch an attack against, who to fight a particular battle,” he said. “It makes sense that you would have that kind of civilian or non-intelligence civilian leadership for activities as sensitive as covert action.”
  • “People thought, ‘Hey, George W. Bush will sign this,’ but he didn’t,” said a former official. CIA officials then believed, “‘Obama will sign it.’ Then he didn’t.”“Then Trump came in, and CIA thought he wouldn’t sign,” recalled this official. “But he did.”
Ed Webb

Tough Guy Leaking - Salon.com - 0 views

  • The primary fear-mongering agenda item for the National Security and Surveillance State industry is now cyberwarfare
  • as is usually true when it comes to Washington warnings about the evils of Others — this is pure projection
  • Administration defenders will undoubtedly insist that unleashing cyber warfare was all necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and impeding an Israeli attack — even though the U.S. Government acknowledges there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons; Iran has the absolute right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, and it is far from clear that this virus meaningfully impeded Iran’s nuclear program. But no matter: once a Manichean storyline is implanted (Evil Iran v. Virtuous America), all acts of aggression by the super-hero against the villain are inherently justified.
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  • This morning’s story by Sanger is but the latest in a long line of leaks about classified programs that have two attributes in common: (1) they come from senior Obama administration officials; and (2) they are designed to depict President Obama, in an Election Year, as a super-tough, hands-on, no-nonsense Warrior. Put another way, the administration that is pathologically fixated on secrecy and harshly punishing whistleblowers routinely leaks national security secrets when doing so can politically benefit the President.
  •  Dear Vital Jewish Voters in Crucial Swing States: behold what this great leader did in secret to pummel Iran.
  • consider the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to prosecute former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling under espionage statutes for allegedly telling The New York Times‘ James Risen — almost ten years ago — about dangerous mistakes the CIA made in trying to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program (mistakes which actually resulted in helping the Iranian program)
  • aside from the tried-and-true strategy of Democratic politicians benefiting politically from provoking criticism from the “Left,” Obama officials (and their apparatchiks) are eager to depict him as a violence-wielding aggressor. As Digby put it this week, “the [Obama] campaign is happy about all this condemnation” aimed at the drone program as it “proves [his] macho bona fides.” Obama officials will undoubtedly be just as pleased with any objections to waging undeclared, unauthorized cyber-warfare on Iran’s perfectly legal nuclear program, thus bringing the world yet another new means of destructive warfare
Ed Webb

Exclusive: UK's secret Mid-East internet surveillance base is revealed in Edward Snowde... - 0 views

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    It seems fairly clear that this article is based on a deliberate leak by UK officials to a) argue that signals intelligence efforts are valuable to national security of UK & US and b) to head off any temptation on the part of Greenwald/Guardian to publish on this element of Snowden's materials.
Ed Webb

Hacking Group Claims N.S.A. Infiltrated Mideast Banking System - The New York Times - 0 views

  • evidence that the N.S.A. had infiltrated the backbone of the Middle East’s banking infrastructure.
  • Among the leaks on Friday was an extensive list of PowerPoint and Excel documents that, if authentic, indicate that the N.S.A. has successfully infiltrated EastNets, a company based in Dubai that helps to manage transactions in the international bank messaging system called Swift.
  • The latest leaks suggest that, by hacking EastNets, the N.S.A. may have successfully hacked, or at minimum targeted, computers inside some of the biggest banks in the Middle East, including ones in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Kuwait; Qatar; Syria; Yemen; and the Palestinian territories.
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  • On Friday, EastNets denied that it had been hacked. In a statement, the company said its Swift service bureau runs on a separate secure network that cannot be reached over the public internet. The company said the leaked documents that claimed its computers had been compromised referred to an old server that the bureau had retired in 2013.“While we cannot ascertain the information that has been published, we can confirm that no EastNets customer data has been compromised in any way,” Hazem Mulhim, EastNets’ chief executive, said in the statement.
  • Among those listed as having been successfully “implanted,” or infected with spyware, are Noor Bank, Tadhamon International Islamic Bank, Al Quds Bank for Development and Investment, Arcapita Bank and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.
Ed Webb

Report: Leaked intelligence cables show Iran's grip on Iraq - Middle East - Stripes - 0 views

  • Hundreds of pages of purported Iranian intelligence documents have come to light that detail Iran’s massive influence in neighboring Iraq
  • unprecedented leak of 700 pages of what appears to be Iranian intelligence cables shows Tehran’s efforts to embed itself in Iraq and to co-opt the country’s leaders, including paying Iraqi agents working for the U.S. to switch sides and to infiltrate every aspect of Iraq’s political, economic and religious life
  • growing anti-Iran sentiment expressed by Iraqi anti-government demonstrators who have been revolting in the streets since Oct. 1. The protests in Iraq have exposed long-simmering resentment at Iran’s influence in the country, with protesters targeting Shiite political parties and militias with close ties to Tehran.
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  • In Iraq’s Tahrir Square, a protester said the article was being translated for protesters by English-speaking volunteers. “Most of us were not surprised by what we read in the report. It was just a confirmation of our case and the information we already had,”
Ed Webb

Exclusive: Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Used Nerve Gas, U.S. Spies Say | The Cable - 0 views

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    Leaks prepare the ground for military action - standard procedure in Washington.
Ed Webb

How a diplomatic crisis among Gulf nations led to fake news campaign in the United States - 0 views

  • it’s not just Kremlin-produced disinformation that Americans may have stumbled upon recently. Browsing Facebook and Twitter — and even just perusing the magazine rack at their local Walmart — they may have also been exposed to propaganda supporting the ambitious goals of two oil-rich Arab Gulf countries
  • when Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched a boycott and blockade of the tiny peninsula state of Qatar last year, organizations with ties to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi tried something new: They worked to sway American public opinion through online and social media campaigns, bringing a complicated, distant conflict among three Washington allies to US shores
  • As they took steps against Doha, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also initiated propaganda efforts in the US aimed at weakening Washington’s alliance with Qatar — which hosts the largest American military base in the Middle East — while also enhancing their own images.
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  • The Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), a pro-Saudi lobby group not officially tied to the Saudi government, paid $2.6 million last year to the now-defunct, Washington-based lobbying firm the Podesta Group for public affairs services that included running the anti-Qatar website and its associated social media properties
  • Along with painting Qatar as a terror-friendly nation, The Qatar Insider encouraged the US to remove its Al Udeid Air Base, which is home to the forward headquarters of the US Central Command, from Qatar and lobbied against Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup.
  • Last fall, a film billed as an “educational documentary” called “Qatar: A Dangerous Alliance” appeared online and was distributed to guests at an event hosted by the conservative Hudson Institute that featured Steve Bannon, a former senior adviser to President Donald Trump and the ex-chairman of Breitbart News
  • when Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, visited the US in March, a magazine bearing his face and celebrating his reign appeared at 200,000 outlets across the country. The Saudi Embassy denied knowledge of the magazine, and the company that published it, National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc., denied receiving guidance from the Saudis. Citing employees of American Media Inc, The New York Times later reported that the magazine was an attempt by the publisher’s CEO to win business in Saudi Arabia. Still, there was evidence that the Saudi Embassy and advisers to the Saudi royal family had received advanced copies of the publication, hinting that they were involved in its creation and fawning tone
  • Seeing Trump’s hostility toward Iran mirroring their own, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were eager to strengthen their relationship with the former reality TV host when he took office, despite his harsh campaign-trail criticisms of Islam and Saudis (who, he once said, “want women as slaves and to kill gays”). In May, The New York Times reported that an emissary of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, held a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. ahead of the 2016 elections offering their support to Trump as well as social media help in winning the election.
  • “If you asked the average American about the Gulf and they see these commercials, they will not be able to tell the difference,” he said. “And for those who do know the difference, they will remember that Saudi Arabia, not Qatar, had its citizens participating in the 9/11 attacks.”
  • Qatar — or, at best, its friends — has been involved in the hacking and leaking of emails designed to embarrass the UAE and reveal its role in trying to influence the Trump campaign. Qatar has increased its spending on lobbyists while also trying to soften its image by wooing American Jewish groups, including the Zionist Organization of America, which previously called for Qatar to be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. And in May, Qatar flexed its soft power muscles when it offered to pay to keep the Washington, DC, metro open after a Capitals playoff game.
  • “Instead of saying one country is better than the other, everyone looks really, really horrible,” he said. “It really raises questions about what kind of partners these countries are for the United States.”
Ed Webb

Morsi's Just Not That Into Iran - By Geneive Abdo and Reza H. Akbari | The Middle East ... - 0 views

  • Morsi's performance in Tehran disappointed his Iranian hosts as cruelly as it mocked those who warned that his visit would deliver Egypt into Iran's camp and reveal a radical new Egyptian foreign policy.
  • "Our solidarity with the struggle of the Syrian people against an oppressive regime that has lost legitimacy is an ethical duty as it is a political and strategic necessity," he said, prompting Syrian officials to walk out of the summit in protest. Sitting directly beside Ahmadinejad, Morsi said: "I am here to announce our full and just support for a free, independent Syria that supports a transition into a democratic system and that respects the will of the Syrian people for freedom and equality at the same time, preventing Syria from going into civil war or going into sectarian divisions."
  • Morsi's decision to take the opportunity offered by Iran to embrace the Syrian uprising against Assad therefore put the Iranian regime in something of a bind. Morsi refused even to say clearly if relations with Iran will be upgraded, but he has said he will pursue a more balanced foreign policy with many states, including Iran. A leaked memo issued by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance on August 26, which issued strict instructions to the media banned them from publishing: "Any potential devilish comments about issues pertaining to Egypt, Bahrain and Syria." The memo (published on various Iranian opposition websites) effectively censored the media from publishing anything negative about the NAM summit.
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  • Despite their optimistic rhetoric, Iranian officials realize now that they are likely to gain far less than they had hoped from the Arab uprisings. As their ally Syria crumbles and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) becomes increasingly hostile, Egypt could be its best and only hope for a new Arab friend in the short-term. But Egypt is less interested in playing along. Not only are the two countries seriously divided over the Syria crisis, but the cost of restoring ties with Iran for Egypt would be great. Not only would this alienate the United States and Israel, but also relations with Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, would be severely damaged. And Morsi clearly understands the importance of maintaining good ties in the Gulf -- aid is at stake. In fact, his first diplomatic mission after he became president was to Saudi Arabia on July 10. The purpose of the visit was to secure aid to replenish Egypt's diminishing currency reserves. Iran, faced with crippling international sanctions, would find it hard to compete with the Saudis in the economic aid arena.
Ed Webb

Turkish pilots killed by Assad, not in crash: leaked documents - 0 views

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    Treat with due caution
Ed Webb

CIA Confirms Role in 1953 Iran Coup - 0 views

  • Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.
  • CIA materials posted today include working files from Kermit Roosevelt, the senior CIA officer on the ground in Iran during the coup. They provide new specifics as well as insights into the intelligence agency's actions before and after the operation
  • The issue is more than academic. Political partisans on all sides, including the Iranian government, regularly invoke the coup to argue whether Iran or foreign powers are primarily responsible for the country's historical trajectory, whether the United States can be trusted to respect Iran's sovereignty, or whether Washington needs to apologize for its prior interference before better relations can occur
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  • Despite the appearance of countless published accounts about the operation over the years - including Kermit Roosevelt's own detailed memoir, and the subsequent leak to The New York Times of the 200-page CIA narrative history[4] — intelligence agencies typically refused to budge. They have insisted on making a distinction between publicly available information on U.S. activities from non-government sources and official acknowledgement of those activities, even several decades after the fact
  • "There is no longer good reason to keep secrets about such a critical episode in our recent past. The basic facts are widely known to every school child in Iran. Suppressing the details only distorts the history, and feeds into myth-making on all sides."
  • they still leave wide gaps in the history, including on some fundamental questions which may never be satisfactorily answered — such as how to apportion responsibility for planning and carrying out the coup among all the Iranian and outside actors involved
  • all 21 of the CIA items posted today (in addition to 14 previously unpublished British documents — see Sidebar), reinforce the conclusion that the United States, and the CIA in particular, devoted extensive resources and high-level policy attention toward bringing about Mosaddeq's overthrow, and smoothing over the aftermath
Ed Webb

Simon Jenkins: What on Earth Are America's Friends to Say? - 0 views

  • The brutality and apparent collapse of front-line discipline is charted in thousands of meticulously filed US government reports, proving only one thing, that any war "among the people" that goes on too long degrades its participants and degenerates into senseless cruelty. Our friends become our victims and our enemies triumphant.
  • The idea that the American invasion liberated Iraqis from kidnap, torture, rape and summary execution is shown to be a sick untruth. Indeed a shocking feature of the leaks is that few Iraqis appeared surprised.
  • An obsession with kill rates, inherited from Vietnam, recruits enemies at every turn and makes the prospect of stability and peace ever more distant.
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  • Many Pakistanis genuinely believe Washington is in the pay of Ahmadinejad of Iran, as his influence increases over regimes from Beirut and Damascus to Baghdad and Kabul.
Ed Webb

BBC NEWS | Americas | Envoy urges no US troop increase - 0 views

  • a leaked cable
  • Gen McChrystal was "fuming" about Mr Eikenberry's intervention
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    Seems like President Obama is being pulled in every direction. Why can't there ever be a definitive 'best-choice' in political science? So speculative is this crazy world of international relations. I suppose that's what makes it so much fun.
Ed Webb

Chinese drones: Cheap, lethal and flying in the Middle East | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • China’s new hit product: the CH-4 Caihong, or "Rainbow", drone.
  • The Middle East is no stranger to drones flown by the US, which have killed thousands of people over the last decade.But more nations are entering the game thanks to a new player in the market: Chinese manufacturers offering cheap hardware with a no-questions-asked sales policy.China has been aggressively marketing the CH-4, which bears a striking resemblance to the US MQ-9 Reaper and has similar capabilities.
  • Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt are now believed to operate variants of Chinese armed drones
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  • China has not signed the international Arms Trade Treaty, or ATT, meaning it has fewer restrictions on the sale of drone technology
  • “Countries with less-than-ideal human rights records tend to use their weapons in less-than-ideal human rights manners, whether it’s a drone or a water cannon."
  • Saudi Arabia and the UAE are believed to have used the drones in their war in Yemen. While there are not verified reports of drone attacks, evidence of their use includes satellite photographs, as well as images of a drone resembling a CH-4 shot down by Houthi fighters.Saudi Arabia has been condemned by a host of bodies including the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the European Parliament for apparent indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Yemen.
  • while drones offer safety for operators, leaked reports from the US drone programme suggest that up to 90 percent of those killed in drone strikes may be unintended targets, or "collateral damage". 
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