Saturday, August 03, 2013

Has Uncle Sam partnered up with Al Qaeda?

According to the NYT, a message from Al Qaeda is the reason why so many embassies went on alert:
The United States intercepted electronic communications this week among senior operatives of Al Qaeda, in which the terrorists discussed attacks against American interests in the Middle East and North Africa, American officials said Friday.
As I suspected would happen, we're seeing stories designed to emphasize the wonderful, heroic efforts of our noble NSA eavesdroppers, thereby justifying the great anti-Snowden campaign.

Remember the heightened terrorist "threat level" alerts throughout the 2004 campaign? Remember how those orange alerts completely disappeared after the election? Same shit.

Back to the current story:
It is unusual for the United States to come across discussions among senior Qaeda operatives about operational planning — through informants, intercepted e-mails or eavesdropping on cellphone calls. So when the high-level intercepts were collected and analyzed this week, senior officials at the C.I.A., State Department and White House immediately seized on their significance. Members of Congress have been provided classified briefings on the matter, officials said Friday.

“This was a lot more than the usual chatter,” said one senior American official who had been briefed on the information but would not provide details.
Odd. Very odd. Any number of previous stories have established that the jihadis know full well that their communications are not secure. Even before 9/11, as you will recall, Al Qaeda referred to the great event as a "big wedding." Are we to believe that now -- after the Snowden revelations have everyone on the whole freakin' planet talking about the NSA -- the jihadis have suddenly turned as chatty as a bunch of teenaged girls on the phone? No caution, no euphemisms, no nothin'?
Some analysts and Congressional officials suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now was a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the N.S.A.’s data-collection programs, and that if it showed the intercepts had uncovered a possible plot, even better.
Looks like I'm not alone in my cynicism.

Y'know why I'm so cynical? Because there is increasing evidence that -- at least in certain parts of the world, on certain occasions -- the US has partnered up with Al Qaeda, or at least with whatever is left of Al Qaeda.

Take Syria, for example. Despite all of the planted bullshit stories that have attempted to divert us from the truth, the world knows that the actual muscle behind the U.S.-backed Syrian rebellion is an Al Qaeda-related group called the Al-Nusrah Front. You may recall this piece from the London Telegraph:
The group is well funded – probably through established global jihadist networks – in comparison to moderates. Meanwhile pro-democracy rebel group commanders say money from foreign governments has all but dried up because of fears over radical Islamists.
The funding did not come from "established jihadist networks," unless you want to interpret that phrase in a very ironic way. The Obama administration has been backing the Syrian rebellion, in which Al Nusah has been both the most effective force and something of a public-relations nightmare.

And now we learn that the same pattern has re-asserted itself in Afghanistan. The following comes from Bloomberg:
Supporters of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan have been getting U.S. military contracts, and American officials are citing “due process rights” as a reason not to cancel the agreements, according to an independent agency monitoring spending.

The U.S. Army Suspension and Debarment Office has declined to act in 43 such cases, John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said today in a letter accompanying a quarterly report to Congress.

“I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract,” Sopko said.
Regarding the 43 cases of contractors with militant connections, Sopko said the Army should “enforce the rule of common sense” in its suspension and debarment program. “They may be enemies of the United States but that is not enough to keep them from getting government contracts,” according to the agency’s report.
George Wright, another Army spokesman, said by e-mail that cutting off the contracts based only on information from Sopko’s office “would fail to meet due-process requirements and would likely be deemed arbitrary if challenged in court.”

Sopko said the Army “appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due-process rights if based on classified information” or on Commerce Department reports.
Well, at least the government is willing to protect someone's rights.

Maybe the granting of those contracts was linked to a request for a little favor...

"If you want the money, Mustapha, fine -- but you have to do something for us in return. Next time you're on the phone with your buddies, say something about a plan to blow up an American embassy. An embassy in -- oh, I dunno. Cairo. Jordan. Something like that. Speak very clearly. Not too fast. Our transcription software is still a little buggy..."
I remember all the alerts after 9/11, some absurd, like a remote control plane might be flown into a building, others completely obscure, just something might happen somewhere at some time, so it's red alert. There have been various scapegoats for this: trigger happy spooks, Uri Geller and the CIA's psychic spying programme, so on. One story at the time said it was terrorism. That is to say, "terrorists" had been captured and interrogated, and were spreading terror by making false claims of imminent terror attacks.

Obviously it's an absurd idea that there's a monolithic al-Qaeda organisation, with an established leadership cadre who communicate via plain text e-mail. And if such a thing were true, would a day go past without them talking about "attacking American interests in the Middle East"? Isn't that their whole stock in trade?

So if we speak to someone who is 3 "hops" from a foreigner, basically, we are to be monitored daily, but Uncle Sam can fund known militant Islamists via government "contracts."

Got it.

You wonder why anybody falls for this stuff.

Here is the story we are asked to believe.

1) A is at war with B.

2) A intercepts B's communications to the effect that B is about to attack A

3) A runs away.

4) A then boasts publicly that it has intercepted B's communications.

Any sensible person would notice that A's story seems extremely shaky and would want to hear B's side of the matter.

It's impossible for either side to continue fighting in any war (let alone one that's supposed to be global and prolonged) unless some of its communications are secure. Just as impossible as running a war without access to food and weapons.

There are no exceptions to that. The side that doesn't have any secure communications whatsoever might as well accept defeat.

What's the point of 'shutting down' the embassies? How the fuck would B be able to blow them up anyway, without secure communications? Or is it only the communications between B's senior commanders that A can intercept, being unable to intercept operational communications (the operations in this case being attacks against known buildings) or the kind of logistical and command communications that are needed to set operations in motion? What a coincidence that US communications intelligence capability is so lopsided, eh?

This is just bullshitville.

It's always possible to over-interpret, but propaganda messages are rarely single-layer. The big idea here might simply be that the US needs the NSA, otherwise all its embassies would get blown up, US citizens wouldn't be able to leave US territory, and US global influence would go to shit.

Of course, those who decided on this 'shutdown' know at least some of what's coming next in the Snowden story, whereas we don't. Which is not to say that they know what the 'ex'-KGB will connect the next stage of the story with, or how the 'ex'-KGB (who seem to me to have played a bloody strong game so far) will play its cards next. But it's reasonable to assume that a major UK-based newspaper such as the Guardian isn't going to be 'secure' from the NSA, any more than, even if it were, it would be configured to seek to prise the US dependencies in western Europe away from the US. Which touches on one aspect, albeit only one, of the role of the NSA in the first place. The story is under some degree of US and US-empire control.

Meanwhile... seems to me that the story with the above-listed parts 1-4 benefits both sides. A can tell its home market that oh, goodness me, its communications intelligence capability is so strong that even John Wayne would faint like a lady if he thought about it. B, for its part, can tell its home market that it's got everything in place to blow the fuck out of all A's embassies, and was only prevented from doing so by some last-minute fuck-up, and that in any case they didn't half put the shits up the US authorities across the whole Arab world, clearly indicating that 'their day will come'. Which of course, in our context, benefits A.

So much of the discourse is so obfuscatory. Either Snowden is 'working for Obama' (for goodness sake! since when did any US president have scope for running something like this?), or he's a 'hero'. The predicates here are both bullshit, so I won't use them. It's extremely unlikely that Snowden knows exactly, 100%, what he is doing. Meanwhile, the idea of Wikileaks and Anonymous etc. as global gangs of caped cyber crusaders standing up for some principles or other ('freedom' maybe?), is nonsense. The CIA owns a share in a Wikileaks. So does the NSA, and so, I reckon, does the 'ex'-KGB. The idea of the Israelis not owning a share is evidently absurd, given the layout of forces in the US and Russia, and also given the weight of Israeli power within the information technology revolution which is still ongoing.
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