Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Sword Play: The Secret History of America's Terrorists (GLADIO)

From the Moscow Times, Feb. 18, 2005.

"You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force…the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security."

This was the essence of Operation Gladio, a decades-long covert campaign of terrorism and deceit directed by the intelligence services of the West – against their own populations.
Hundreds of innocent people were killed or maimed in terrorist attacks – on train stations, supermarkets, cafes, offices – which were then blamed on "leftist subversives" or other political opponents. The purpose, as stated above in sworn testimony by Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra, was to demonize designated enemies and panic the public into supporting ever-increasing powers for government leaders – and their elitist cronies.

First revealed by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in 1991, Gladio (from the Latin for "sword") is still protected to this day by its founding patrons, the CIA and MI6. Yet parliamentary investigations in Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have shaken out a few fragments of the truth over the years. These have been gathered in a new book, NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, by Daniele Ganser, as Lila Rajiva reports on CommonDreams.org.

Originally set up as a network of clandestine cells to be activated behind the lines in case of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, Gladio quickly expanded into a tool for political repression and manipulation, controlled and funded by NATO and Washington. Using right-wing militias, underworld figures, government provocateurs and secret military units, Gladio not only carried out widespread terrorism, assassinations and electoral subversion in democratic states like Italy, France and West Germany, but also bolstered fascist tyrannies in Spain and Portugal, abetted the military coup in Greece, and aided Turkey's ferocious repression of the Kurds. All of this in the name of "preserving democracy" and "defending civilization."

Among the "smoking guns" unearthed by Ganser is a Pentagon document, Field Manual FM 30-31B, which detailed the methodology for launching terrorist attacks in nations that "do not react with sufficient effectiveness" against "communist subversion." Ironically, the manual states that the most dangerous moment comes when leftist groups "renounce the use of force" and embrace the democratic process. It is then that "US army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince Host Country Governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger." Naturally, these peace-throttling "special operations must remain strictly secret," the document warns.

Indeed, it would not do for, say, the families of the 85 people ripped apart by the August 2, 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station to know that their loved ones had been murdered by "men inside Italian state institutions and…by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence," as the Italian Senate concluded after its investigation in 2000.

The Bologna atrocity is an example of what Gladio's masters called "the strategy of tension" – fomenting fear to keep populations in thrall to "strong leaders" who will protect the nation from the ever-present terrorist threat. And as Rajiva notes, this strategy wasn't limited to Western Europe. It was applied – with gruesome effectiveness – in Central America by the Reagan-Bush administrations. During the 1980s, rightwing death squads, guerrilla armies and state security forces – armed, trained and supplied by the United States – murdered tens of thousands of people throughout the region, often acting with particular savagery at those times when peaceful solutions to the conflicts seemed about to take hold.

Last month, it was widely reported that the Pentagon is considering a similar program in Iraq. What was not reported, however – except in the local Iraqi press – is that at least one pro-occupation death squad is already in operation. Just days after the Pentagon plans were revealed, a new militant group, "Saraya Iraqna," began offering big wads of American cash for insurgent scalps – up to $50,000, the Iraqi paper Al Ittihad reports. "Our activity will not be selective," the group promises: anyone they consider an enemy of the state will be fair game for the killing floor.

Strangely enough, just as it appears that the Pentagon is establishing Gladio-style operations in Iraq, there has been a sudden rash of terrorist attacks on outrageously provocative civilian targets, such as hospitals and schools, the Guardian reports. Coming just after national elections in which the majority faction supported slates calling for a speedy end to American occupation, the shift toward high-profile civilian slaughter has underscored the "urgent need" for U.S. forces to remain on the scene indefinitely, to provide security against the ever-present terrorist threat. Meanwhile, the Bushists continue constructing their long-sought permanent bases in Iraq: citadels to protect the oil that incoming Iraqi officials are promising to sell off to American corporations – and launching pads for new forays in geopolitical domination.

Perhaps it's just a coincidence. But the American elite's history of directing and fomenting terrorist attacks against friendly populations is so extensive – so ingrained and accepted – that it calls into question the origin of every terrorist act that roils the world. With each fresh atrocity, we're forced to ask: Was it the work of "genuine" terrorists or a "black op" by intelligence agencies – or both?

While not infallible, the ancient Latin question is still the best guide to penetrating the bloody murk of modern terrorism: Cui bono? Who benefits? Whose powers and policies are enhanced by the attack? For it is indisputable that the "strategy of tension" means power – and profit – for those who claim to possess the key to "security." And from the halls of the Kremlin to the banks of the Potomac, this cynical strategy is the ruling ideology of our times.

Chris Floyd

Tongues of Flame: Strange Doings at the Inauguration

"Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked." – Exodus 23:7

There was something strange – passing strange – about the sumptuous carnival mounted to celebrate George W. Bush's chokehold on power this week.

And it wasn't the fact that this $50 million extravaganza of corporate bribery and royal fawning took place against the stark backdrop of last week's news:

**the senseless bloodshed of Bush's failing war, its ostensible "cause" – the threat of Iraqi WMD -- confirmed, yet again, as a tissue of lies, this time by the final report of Bush's own weapons inspectors;
**the CIA's damning report confirming, yet again, that Bush's clumsy, criminal invasion has vastly increased the power, scope – and expertise – of Islamic terror; a torrent of new evidence confirming, yet again, the Bush Regime's systematic use of torture, kidnapping, and murder as sanctioned instruments of national policy;
**Bush's successful backroom effort to quash a Congressional attempt to put mild restraints on his worst atrocities;
**plans to build permanent "gulags" for the lifelong detention of uncharged, untried, arbitrarily designated enemies of the state;
**the sudden appearance of a new pro-government terrorist group in Iraq, the "Saraya Iraqna," offering wads of American cash for insurgent scalps – just days after the Pentagon floated the idea of funding "death squads" in the occupied land;
**the appointment of a sexually-obsessed religious crank – ex-Jesse Helms minion Claude Allen – as head of the regime's "domestic policy;"
**and the official announcement that infant mortality had risen in America for the first time in 45 years – another magnificent feat of arms in Bush's relentless war against the poor and working people of his own nation.

But it wasn't any of these stories – a single week's droppings from the Bush Regime's ever-oozing moral corruption – that plagued the fat and happy inaugural feasters. On the contrary, they accounted such things as great achievements of their Leader, proud moments in his mighty, ongoing work: the transmogrification of the American Republic into a militarized thug state, driven by cronyism, conquest and fear, ripe for the plucking by predatory elites. There was nothing strange at all in their celebration of Bush's crimes and perversions.

Yet as the glorious day went by, something uncanny began to gnaw at the designer-clad, diamond-studded celebrants – at first just among the more perceptive few, but later spreading throughout the whole glittering herd. It was a presence, mute, disturbing, manifesting itself in brief flashes at the edge of one's vision. "Was that--? Could it be--? Surely not!" They would shake their heads, move on to the next round of drinks, the next back-slap with a lobbyist or Regime grandee, trying to regain the strutting spirit of triumph and superiority that had filled them since the President's sliver-thin victory.

But still it pressed forward, the presence, like visual static, like an alternate reality breaking through the day's shining façade. When the feasters looked on the bristling military displays, the lavish floats, the thumping bands, they began to see ghostly figures mingled with the marchers: corpses walking, men, women and children, dirty, ragged, still bearing the wounds and manglements of their deaths. Their ranks grew thicker and thicker: a hundred thousand Iraqis, the death toll of the innocent killed since the invasion; hundreds of American soldiers, the agony of senseless death seared in their eyes; the three thousand victims of September 11, betrayed by Bush's own embrace of the ultimate act of terrorism – an unprovoked, unnecessary war of aggression.

And when the feasters sat down to their prayer breakfasts and power lunches, the flashes, the static gave them no respite. When they bit down on succulent portions of prime rib and smoked ham, human blood gushed through their teeth and poured down their throats. When they offered up a toast to their victorious Leader, human blood dribbled from their lips. The waiters bearing in the steaming platters of haute cuisine were all naked, hooded, electrodes clamped to their dangling genitals, dog chains wrapped around their necks. Their blood and feces dripped into the soups and iced desserts as silently, diligently they served the feasters.

Now it was impossible to deny; there was something monstrous among them. The only question left was this: Do you acknowledge the horror, the new reality – or do you ignore it and feast on?

They kept feasting, of course, kept smiling, kept dealing, kept slapping backs, waiting for the high point of the day: the president's speech, his vision for the nation, the world, the course of history itself. Here they would find their justification, their exaltation, the confirmation of their righteousness.

At last the time came, and they gathered eagerly before the great podium, where He himself – the president – was standing. But here too was a mystery. For a strange light was upon him, and behold there talked with him two men, which were Osama and Zarqawi. They spake all three together of their common faith, the way of blood: terror, slaughter, zealotry and ignorance.

Then he, the Leader, turned his countenance to the multitude, and as he spoke, as the lies issued from his mouth, his visage began to alter. It reddened, flickered, wavered, belched smoke, and finally burst into flames. And the president was become a pillar of fire, and all of his followers and agents, his adulators and sycophants and brother-enemies, were likewise pillars of fire, the whole great crowd. And they lived and raged and walked in fire, and the heavens grew black with stench and smoke as the fires, in madness, feasted on the bodies of the dead and the tortured.

And so ended the second inauguration of the forty-third president of the United States.

Chris Floyd

Fresh Horses: Bush Brings Butchery to the Homeland

From the Moscow Times, Dec. 17, 2002

It was a largely secret operation, its true intentions masked by pious rhetoric and bogus warnings of imminent danger to the American way of life. Having gained the complicity of a somnolent Congress, George W. Bush calmly signed a death warrant for thousands upon thousands of innocent victims: a native population whose land and resources were coveted by a small group of powerful elites seeking to augment their already vast dominance – by any means necessary, including mass slaughter.

A flashback to March 2003, when Bush finally brought his long-simmering witch's brew of aggressive war to the boil? Not at all – it's happening right now, even as we speak. This time, however, the victims are not the Iraqi people, but one of the last remaining symbols of pure freedom left in America itself: the nation's herd of wild horses, galloping unbridled on the people's common lands.

With an obscure provision smuggled into the gargantuan budget bill – 3,000 pages of pork and chicanery slapped together at the last minute and approved, unread, by Bush's rubberstamp Republicans and those wiggly bits of protoplasm known laughingly as the "Democratic opposition" – Bush stripped the nation's wild horses of their long-standing legal protections against being sold off, slaughtered and shipped overseas for meat. Under the 1971 Wild Horse Protection Act, a small number of wild horses could be culled under certain restrictions. Bush's new plan, spearheaded by Montana Senator Conrad Burns – longtime bagman for Big Cattle interests – eliminates most of the restrictions, throwing the door wide open for a massive sell-off and slaughterfest. Bush and Burns aren't shy about it, either; their declared aim is to kill up to 20,000 wild horses in the next year alone. (The new death penalty also applies to the horses' less glamorous – but no less free – compadres: wild burros. Up to 10,000 of these are now earmarked for the knackers' yard.)

Why must these magnificent beasts be massacred, after decades of bipartisan protection? If they could speak, no doubt they'd look at the state terrorists in the Bush Regime and say: "They hate us for our freedoms." And certainly, anyone cramped within the narrow confines of a harsh, blinkered fundamentalism would be offended, even unmanned, by the sight of such splendid avatars of liberty. First brought to America by the Spanish conquistadors, these bold rebels broke free of their masters and have roamed wild and unbound for centuries. Their very existence is a living reproach to crippled souls obsessed with conquest, control, and domination. So they must be destroyed.

Well, that's a nice conceit – but the reality of the situation will hardly bear such tragic grandeur and psychological angst. Like its mirror image, the Iraq atrocity, Bush's horse caper is essentially just a grubby little piece of graft: his fat-cat pals want to get fatter, so they use the federal government as a front for looting the public treasury. Meanwhile – as with Iraq – Bush ladles out the BS to cover their tracks.

Here's how it works. The nation's 50,000 wild horses roam on federal land – that is, land held in common by the entire American people. Bigtime ranchers also use this land to graze millions of their privately-owned cattle. Able to buy and sell politicians like so much prime stock, the wealthy ranchers have rigged up a long-running sweetheart deal (100 years old and still going strong) that gives them access to this common pasturage at bargain prices: less than one-tenth of the going market rate for private grazing land. The result is an effective annual subsidy of more than $500 million to some of the richest men in America. As always, your rootin', tootin' cowboy capitalists must be protected from the risks of the "free market" at every turn – even as they impose it, at gunpoint, on others.

It's certainly a juicy deal – but like all good Bushists, they want more. Why do they want more? Simply because it's there, and they want it. Yes, our leaders and elites are that witless. Which is not to say they're stupid, of course. After all, given the manifold imperfections of our still-evolving brainpans, it's entirely possible to be devious and cunning in pursuit of your basest desires while remaining perfectly oblivious to their pointlessness and brutality – and to their origin in the blind electrical firings of those primitive layers of the mind we all share with the rat, the pig and the chicken.

So the ranchers want the horses off public land so they can cram more cows in there and make more money through their sweetheart deals. The resource at issue here is grass, not oil, but the principle is the same as in Bush's witless, pig-layer adventure in Iraq: me want, they got; kill them, give me.

And as in Iraq, Bush's horse-killing policy is swaddled with lies and fearmongering. The ranchers say they must be given even more public subsidies, or else the sacred right of all Americans to churn cheap beef through their intestines twice a day might be lost – and that would mean the terrorists win, right? Meanwhile, Bush says it costs too much to let all the wild horses live out their natural lives. Yet the total annual outlay for the federal horse programs – $50 million – is a fraction of ranchers' yearly gorging at the public trough. The tiniest increase in grazing fees could cover the programs' costs for decades – while still keeping the delicate cow barons well-protected from that mean old free market.

Bush also claims the horses are gobbling up too much government grass; yet private cattle on federal lands outnumber wild horses by 50-1. Indeed, past government studies have consistently recommended reducing cattle numbers to save deteriorating rangeland. Needless to say, the ranchers' prime stock in Congress will never let that happen.

But we do Mr. Bush and his cohorts wrong to imply they are completely witless. Certainly they exhibit a sense of humor – of the heavy, frat-boy doofus variety – in commiting their depredations. For example, the very day after Bush consigned 20,000 living creatures to unnecessary slaughter, Congress proclaimed a new "National Day of the Horse" – a yearly celebration of the animal's "vital contribution" to American culture.

What yocks, eh? No doubt the dead horses will enjoy this great honor just as much as the 100,000 slaughtered Iraqis enjoy their "liberation."

Chris Floyd