Justice Integrity Project
The public deserves to know the facts about the Benghazi massacre in 2012 before approving the bombing of Syria sought by President Obama.
Persistent reports suggest the CIA was using Benghazi last year as a base to smuggle arms and foreign fighters to overthrow Syria’s government.
Was Benghazi President Obama’s version of the Iran-contra scandal?
This background was one of my major themes Sept. 3 during a nearly hour-long interview Sept. 3 on WWL AM/FM of New Orleans regarding my new book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.
Garland Robinette, a longtime host on the 50,000-watt CBS affiliate, provided a probing interview on the book's substance for some 50-minutes, interrupted by ads and a news break. That is a long session for a general interest station broadcast to five states.
But the Syria War crisis is a pivotal juncture.
Update: Washington Free Beacon, Frank Wolf Asks if Benghazi Site Was Stockpiling Syrian Weapons, Adam Kredo, Sept. 9, 2013. Says the issue has a bearing on congressional debate over Syria strike. See also: Huffington Post, House Greets Syria War Resolution With Intense Skepticism; Vote Could Go Down, Jane Hamsher, Sept. 5, 2013. "Things are looking pretty grim today for the pro-bombing camp in Congress."
We must know the truth about Benghazi before any vote for a dangerous new Mideast war, especially given the sordid history of previous congressional rubber-stamps for war based on exaggerated or false claims. Iraq and Vietnam are previous examples of war based on false evidence: WMDs in 2003; the false claim in 1989 that Saddam Hussein’s forces had killed babies in Kuwait; and the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing Vietnam escalation.
Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman challenged his imprisonment on corruption charges last week on two grounds of legal error by his trial judge.
Siegelman argued that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery erred by failing to allow evidence on whether a biased prosecutor had actually recused as claimed.
Also, Siegelman's appeal to the federal appeals court in Atlanta claims that Fuller wrongly increased Siegelman's prison time by citing allegations that failed to win conviction in the 2006 jury trial. Siegelman is serving a 78-month term in one of the nation's most controversial federal prosecutions of the decade.
The rarely photographed Fuller is shown below in a photo by Phil Fleming, whom the judge invited into chambers to provide a portrait minutes after the jury verdict in 2006.
The defendant is shown at right in a 2008 CBS 60 Minutes photo during a segment showing many irregularities in his prosecution.
Part of the 2008 broadcast included Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson, who said she learned in 2002 that fellow Republicans were planning to work with then-White House political adviser Karl Rove to remove Siegelman from politics with a criminal prosecution. She testified in 2007 that she learned in 2005, before Siegelman was indicted, that a case would be devised and placed before Fuller because he "hated" Siegelman and would "hang" him.
The filing Aug. 26, which did not mention Simpson or any conflict by Fuller, helps illustrate why the prosecution remains notorious in civil rights circles even though appellate courts have endorsed for the most part the trial judge's pro-prosecution rulings. The prosecution alleges corrupt dealings by Siegelman in 1999 and 2000 during the first two years of his one term as governor. Rove and other Republicans have denied wrongdoing.
My investigation of the case extends back six years and led to my new book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. WWL AM/FM has invited me to discuss the book and its findings Sept. 3 on The Garland Robinette Show in a segment beginning at 11:10 AM Central time.
I shall describe how the failure of the courts, the Justice Department and Congress to address an obvious legal frame-up in the Siegelman case, including by Rove and extended into the Obama administration, led me to look at parallel situations elsewhere around the nation.
The irregularities include a massive conflict of interest by the trial judge, who secretly controlled during the trial Doss Aviation, a defense contractor that was receiving $300 million in Bush contracts to train Air Force pilots and refuel Air Force planes. Fuller was the company's largest stockholder with an interest reaching 43.75 percent at one point, Simpson demonstrated with documents that were unknown to the defendants.
The probe led me to a deeper understanding of how those I describe as puppet masters groom judges, political candidates, prosecutors, and others for high office, and expect favorable action down the line when needed, irrespective of traditional law and other supposed citizen safeguards that most voters are too busy to notice.
The book and my radio interview launching the hardcover edition this week show that the bipartisan disregard for normal legal procedures has led directly to this summer's domestic surveillance scandal and the president's plan to bomb Syria after what he hopes will be congressional approval next week. I'll reveal the hidden secret of the Benghazi attacks that neither party wants to discuss -- but is vital to public understanding of issue of congressional authorization for a United States attack on Syria that President Obama seeks.
President Obama was ready to launch the United States into a new Mideast war in Syria over the Labor Day weekend until the nation's top general persuaded him that he would be blamed for serious unintended consequences that could arise, according to usually well-informed sources speaking in confidence.
That general is Martin E. Dempsey, left, a career Army officer who became chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2011. He persuaded the president that military implications could escalate beyond the limited boundaries White House civilian advisers had claimed in convincing the president as of late Friday night to move forward with bombing campaign.
That bombing would have been without congressional, NATO, or other significant international military support aside from enthusiasm from France, Syria's former colonial ruler. The war could potentially escalate to a vastly wider war. The evidence is in the first proposals offered by Obama for congressional authorization after he backed off his go-it-nearly-alone plan. Yet the administration tipped its hand by making its initial request for authority open-ended, creating the possibility of a vastly wider war if Syria or any of its allies retaliated in any way.
The military risks, not the political ones, loomed largest for the president as he reversed course, according to my sources. Nonetheless, Obama sought political and constitutional cover by seeking to share responsibility with congress. Notably, he wants to start a war based on thin evidence and without being able to line-up support even from most of the nations funding rebels in Syria.
The account I received from sources, while impossible to verify in every particular with total certainty, is congruent with what we know of the players and event time line.
Dempsey testified to congress and otherwise warned of risks associated with the military options available to the United States in helping rebels overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has governed the nation for more than four decades.
Dempsey did not forcefully argue his own view previously before the Labor Day weekend, as far as is known. He preferred to provide cost-benefit options in a more neutral fashion. But the increasing belligerence by Secretary of State John Kerry and more junior civilian members of the White House inner-circle, such as former UN Ambassador Susan Rice and her successor, Samantha Power, apparently persuaded Dempsey to speak more bluntly early in the weekend.
Beyond those dramatic events, readers here should realize other vital factors rarely mentioned in mainstream news accounts, especially in the United States. I'll summarize these points into three bullet points. Background for the material is an appendix below and in my book, Presidential Puppetry, whose hardcover edition is published this week.
- Most important, our top government officials (including the president) and most famous media pundits who shape our discourse have fewer real-world power than the public might imagine. True, the officials command authority over the military and voting power in congress. And they occasionally act in unpredictable fashion and against long-term career interest. The pundits look important when they pontificate. But they usually know quite well their careers can end quickly. Dynastic power on Wall Street, not Main Street, controls the country, as President Wilson wrote a century ago in his book, The New Freedom. I use the umbrella term "puppet masters" whereas others focus on major parts, such as Wall Street, the Military Industrial Complex -- or its more current and powerful successor, the Intelligence Industrial Complex. Whatever the name, these masters of the universe and the government officials they place in office have targeted the Assad family at least since 1984, according to high-level CIA correspondence declassified this summer. That long-term interest -- and not the street protests of two years ago, democracy building, or even the massive deaths on Aug. 21 from gas -- brought about the current war resolution targeting Assad. He is UK-educated Alawite. He and his wife, Asma, are at right in a photo via Creative Commons. She is a UK-born onetime banker of Sunni descent. They have rallied much of the central part of the country against rebels with a series of recent military victories. The victories endanger well over a billion dollars in foreign spending to overthrow their heavily armed dictatorship, which is ratified by occasional elections and which has attacked no outsiders justifying its overthrow under traditional international law.
- Puppet masters like to work in private to advance their wealth-building and other interests, including dynastic succession and religious advancement. They often work through secret societies. Therefore, the media that they heavily influence rarely mention the keen interest that the Gulf monarchies have in building a natural gas pipeline through Syria to provide natural gas more cheaply to Europe, thus undercutting Russian supply chains. Neither do Russia's rivals want to focus attention on the willingness of radical Muslims to keep the Arab world largely destabilized, except in those fundamentalist monarchies protected by the United States and cooperating with lucrative deals for all concerned. The monarchies are protecting Israel behind the scenes. The system provides oil and arms deals for well-connected insiders in NATO countries, and poses an ongoing threat to Russia and China by stirring up dissent among minorities within Russia's borders especially and in such nearby countries as Chechnia, located between Syria and Russia.
- The inherent contradictions and internal rivalries among the puppet master group are providing a rare opportunity in the next 10 days or so for its goals and methods to be exposed in Congress and elsewhere to the American people. Congress is, of course, gerrymandered into set camps and dominated in both parties by the big money interests that sustain the leadership and the major media upon which they rely for voter approval. But the country is so fed up with Mideast wars and economic austerity at home that newer members could take the kind of remedial action exhibited last week in Britain's Parliament -- which shocked Obama and the rest of the West's neo-conservative and neo-liberal leadership cabal by voting against a military strike against Syria.
Editor's Note: Film historian Paul Sutton argues in the guest column below that Die Hard Director John McTiernan, left, is unfairly imprisoned. Sutton, based in the United Kingdom, last week completed a research trip to the United States to research the case. He visited McTiernan, who began is serving a year-long federal term in South Dakota at age 62 on false statement charges following a prolonged legal battle.
Sutton is shown at lower right as one of the speakers at a "Free McT" rally last May in Paris to support the director's freedom. Our Justice Integrity Project repeatedly reported on excessive prosecution in the case, beginning in a 2010, Feds Bully 'Die Hard' McTiernan Into Plea for False Statements. McTiernan, at left, was convicted in the wiretapping scandal involving private detective Anthony Pellicano as authorities sought to determine whether Pellicano illegally wiretapped producer Chuck Roven while he and McTiernan were remaking Rollerball in 2002. The photo at lower left shows him saying farewell to his children, age 10 and12, last spring as he began his sentence.
By Paul Sutton
On May 25th 2013, hundreds of French citizens, and one Englishman, gathered at the Max Linder Panorama in Paris to celebrate the films of John McTiernan and to support the campaign for his release. McTiernan’s films include Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October, Predator, and The Thomas Crown Affair.
He is in federal prison in South Dakota. The following month, hundreds more, making a combined audience of almost a thousand, packed screenings of McTiernan's films at the L'institut Lumière in Lyon. The organizer, Arnaud Bordas of the ‘Free John McTiernan’ Facebook page, said “more people attended the events that the theaters could hold. There were people sitting on the stairs and standing at the back. There has never been anything like it”. The Lyon screening was in memory of the late Michael Hastings, the only mainstream journalist in America who had seen through the press release the prosecution published on jailing McTiernan, a man who had spent his life making American films that are enjoyed throughout the world.
According to the prosecution press release, John McTiernan pleaded guilty to two charges of making a false statement to a federal officer and one charge of perjury. For this he was given a twelve-month prison sentence, with no time off for good behavior, a $100,000 fine, and a three-year extension to an already seven-year supervision order that had prevented him from working in the years before his case came to trial. At face value, this punishment seemed harsh for a first time offender. But the charges against McTiernan are serious and a sort-of justice seemed to have been done -- until you look at the detail.
Making a false statement to a federal officer suggests that McTiernan stood in front of an FBI agent and made a false statement to him. That wasn’t the case. An FBI agent was not present when McTiernan allegedly made a false statement so heinous that it landed him in prison. The false statement was a casual answer to a statement made to him on the telephone one evening by an anonymous caller. No badge or ID was ever shown to McTiernan; he was not told he was under investigation, and he wasn’t speaking under oath. He was merely trying to get a man he thought might be a journalist off the phone. He had been bombarded with phone calls from journalists when Arnold Schwarzenegger was running for governor, and had learned that the best way to stop journalists from pestering him was to be polite and to engage them with a short and honest conversation.
President Obama's desire to bomb Syria even without international support shows, yet again, the pitfalls of his high-blown rhetoric to mask crass political deal-making.
In updates from our initial report, the nation's leader said he would seek approval from Congress before authorizing a strike. The concession to public press marked a major retreat from the administration's initial stance and is complicated by world meetings next week and potential resistance from rank-and-file members of both major U.S. parties who fear public opinion more than leaders.
As background, former President Carter, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and former U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld were among strong critics of planned U.S. actions. Also, the non-partisan conservative scholar and former Wall Street Journal Associate Editor Paul Craig Roberts advanced the themes of this column with one of his own, entitled, Will Obama Doom Himself As A War Criminal. The New York Times published, After British Vote, Unusual Isolation for U.S. on Syria. The government's view was John Kerry Makes Case For Syria Strike. Below also is a video from UK Member of Parliament George Galloway opposing bombing.
Presidents are often called, "The Most Powerful Man on Earth." That conventional wisdom seems, on the surface, even more true regarding Obama than his predecessors.
Obama and his team have dispensed with many of the niceties of U.S. and international law. They have assumed the power to launch wars against those who do not threaten U.S. national security, albeit without the death totals as high as during the Bush administration. They launch action without votes by Congress or the United Nations -- and hinted late Aug. 29 at moving forward against Syria even though Britain's Parliament backed away from a strike.
The White House orders death by drone of those residents of foreign nations and their families whom they think dangerous, based on secret evidence.
And they spend vast amounts during a period of national austerity that helps the defense industry even without specific appropriations from Congress. A strike against Syria will cost hundreds of millions of dollars -- and thus helped boost stock prices this week, according to a report this week by Defense News.
Following a surprise vote by Britain's Parliament late Aug. 29 against military action against Syria, White House sources suggested that the United States could proceed on its own.
The British withdrawal and the refusal of Canada to join the United States action leaves France, the former colonial ruler of Syria, as the major ally for the military action. The U.S-France coalition creates further public relations problems for Obama because a major fighting force in the rebellion against Assad are radical Al Qaeda and other jihadist mercenaries recruited from opponents of the United States in many nations, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
The White House photo at left shows several of the Obama team's key players speaking with the president in the Oval Office this June. From left are Samantha Power, former senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights, along with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. representative to the United Nations.
Power and Rice are leading advocates of a so-called "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine whereby nations, especially under U.S. leadership, are entitled to take military action worldwide in situations whereby their leaders see a dire need to protect the afflicted.
Also, Power is the wife of former Obama White House regulatory chief Cass Sunstein. As a response to the domestic spying scandal, Obama this month named Sunstein to the panel to review National Security Agency surveillance methods.
The Sunstein appointment underscored the close bonds of decision-makers. Sunstein, while generally regarded as an esteemed liberal, is also notorious for advocating in a 2008 paper that the government secretly hire academics and journalists to disrupt activities of those millions of voters who believe in conspiracy theories. Power and Sunstein, friends of the president, are Harvard Law professors when not on the Obama administrations payroll full-time.
Obama knows better than anyone that he ascended to office only because of the hidden help of the nation's private sector dynastic powers, as documented in my new book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. I argue there and in this column that Obama seeks to serve those masters on core issues, despite his branding to the public as being to the left of his fellow puppets who lead the Republican Party.
But the kingmakers do not necessarily agree among themselves on what they want. Neither do they always act in the high-minded fashion that their minions in office are supposed to voice to voters.
Many decision makers who operate out of sight above public stage create further confusion by changing their minds about what they want the government to do.
Some masterminds and their operatives may even seek to trap or otherwise embarrass a president, thereby obtaining even more leverage over his administration
Watching Obama trying this week to please so many VIPs, including his opponents, has reminded me of how a sting unfolds. An investor thinks he's going to make a killing and feast on the spoils. Then he learns, too late, that his advisers were leading him on.
"What's for dinner today?"
The public deserves from the White House far more hard evidence before the country takes military action to punish the Syrian government for last week's civilian deaths in Damascus from chemical weapons.
We are seeing a rush to judgment that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, below at left, committed the atrocity. Neither the White House, Congress nor the mainstream media are showing the objective investigation deserved by such an important topic as launching airstrikes that could lead to a wider war and vastly more deaths.
The United States has a long and tragic history of wars based on information that was, at best, mistaken, thereby leading to millions of deaths.
Examples of misinformation go far beyond the notorious "Weapons of Mass Destruction" before the 2003 Iraq invasion.
Our first invasion of Iraq was justified in part by a false story devised by a DC public relations firm that Saddam Hussein’s troops were killing babies in Kuwait, as documented in several books that include those by Harper's Publisher John "Rick" MacArthur and longtime DC-based CIA historians Joseph and Susan Trento.
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution escalated the Vietnam War. And, we now know from declassified documents that President Kennedy rejected the "Operation Northwoods" plan by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to kill innocent Americans to justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba.
The public receives images, reports of evidence, but scant evidence that open-minded inquiries are actually occurring.
At right is a White House file photo showing President Obama listening as Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, briefs him on the terror threat, in the Map Room of the White House on Aug. 6, 2013. Also participating in the briefing are National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
Shown below is a sample of recent news stories from both the mainstream media, especially the Washington Post, and the alternative or foreign press. You will see that some of those media, most notably alternative and the Wall Street Journal, describe the activities of Saudi intelligence and CIA Director John Brennan in ways almost entirely absent from the news coverage that most Americans receive.
I do not pretend to know what happened with the fatal chemical assault in Damascus last week.
But anyone can see we are experiencing the same stampede to military action as in two previous Iraq wars, the Libya airstrikes, and a number of other wars orchestrated by government and the beat reporters dependent on government sources for their news and jobs. Furthermore, only a small proportion of the public receives from mainstream media reporting that illustrates the complexities of the situation, such as the large number of foreign fighters on the rebel side funding by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and (some claim) the United States using secret appropriations.
The possibility that foreign mercenaries and their sponsors, faced with losing the war, may have inflicted death on helpless Syrian civilians to bring in outside air power is rarely addressed by the mainstream media. Neither are the contacts and potential shifting alliances between such key figures as CIA Director John Brennan and Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, the Saudi Arabia intelligence chief and former U.S. ambassador. He reputedly visited Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this summer to offer a $15 billion business deal in exchange for withdrawal of Russia's support for Assad.