Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This new war is out of SITE

Yesterday, we looked at Rita Katz and SITE, the private intelligence firm (and likely Mossad assset) which presented those ISIS beheading videos to a sickened world.

As it turns out, a number of "alternative" bloggers wrote about Katz yesterday. The same idea seems to have popped into multiple noggins, quite independently: At this time, we have no proof that these videos had any kind of existence before SITE.

As I noted in our previous offering, British experts have pronounced the Foley video "staged." More on that here.

The National Security Council offered a brief and vague confirmation of the Foley video and, later, the Sotloff video. The authentication comes to us in the form of Tweets.


There was a time when we might have expected an actual report -- even a congressional inquiry. Remember Adlai Stevenson at the U.N., unveiling super-secret photos taken by U2 spy planes over Cuba? Those days are not these days. These days, we go to war based on Tweets.

I think we deserve more.

For example, there's the issue of whether green screen was used in those three videos. Any discussion of that topic would, of necessity, be extremely technical. Yet for some reason, our analysts don't want to talk about such things in public, apparently because outside experts have no right to weigh in.

Incidentally, I finally saw the Sotloff beheading video. There are grounds for suspicion, although some of the commonly-heard objections are answerable.

Some skeptics have alleged that fill light reflectors were used, but I doubt this claim. (The desert floor would be reflective enough on its own.) The two participants, murderer and victim, are both obviously wearing lav mics. That is rather odd, although I can't tell if they are wearing wireless units or if the mics plug into small voice recorders. The wind noise seems authentic, a fact which indicates outdoors filming -- in other words, that could well be a real desert, not a green screen. On the other hand, the use of "locked off" tripod shots would make it easier to do special effects work in post.

What I find very odd is this: Sotloff -- clearly reading from cue cards -- seems eerily cooperative and calm as he recites his script. I can see how threats to other prisoners might buy cooperation, but wouldn't Sotloff shake and sweat? Is this really how a guy about to die behaves? The actual violence -- the part that would be hardest to fake -- does not appear on screen; there is a quick fade out.

At this writing, the question of authenticity remains open; I could go either way. But we also have other mysteries to ponder, other questions to address. Here is my top ten list:

Question 1: How the hell does SITE (ostensibly a small private group) keep finding these videos before the American intelligence community can find them? Before every other intelligence service in the world can find them?

Question 2: Why does SITE re-encode the videos, presenting them under the SITE brand?

Question 3: Why doesn't SITE give a clear answer as to where these videos were originally posted? Why on earth would anyone keep that information secret?

Question 4: The very titles of the videos indicate that these are messages to America -- not just to the President, but to the citizenry. Why, then, would ISIS need SITE to deliver that message? Wouldn't the perpetrators find a way to communicate directly? If they intend to scare the world, why would they upload the things to the most hidden recesses of the internet? Why not put them out where people can see them?

Question 5 (and this may be the most important query of all): Even a child could have foreseen that these videos would have but one outcome: The justification of American intervention in the region -- airstrikes, Special Forces, and eventually combat troops. Why would ISIS want all that? What could they possibly hope to gain by transforming a war-weary American public into a bellicose American public?

Question 6: Is it true that SITE has a history of trafficking in fake videos? 
it is common knowledge that SITE uncannily secures terrorist statements and videos well before the US’s wide array of lavishly-funded intelligence services.

For example, as the Washington Post reported in 2007,
{a] small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7 … It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release. Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company’s Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.[6]
The video later proved to be fraudulent.
Is it truly bogus? The actual September 7, 2007 video is here. CNET aired this argument favoring the theory of fraudulence; the piece quotes Neal Krawetz, an expert in digital imaging. (Krawetz has not said anything similar about the more recent beheading videos, although he did express anger at some 4chan idiots who claimed that the Foley video was buncombe based on concocted "proof.") Booman also argued that the Bin Laden video was a fake -- or, rather, a semi-fake: It appears that a video from 2004 was "reconfigured" to appear to be a later production. 

Question 7: As noted in our previous post, SITE once shared an IP address with MEMRI, the Mossad-linked propaganda firm with direct ties to many of the same people who ginned up the Iraq war. Given this dubious history, shouldn't we demand detailed and conclusive proof that the videos are authentic?

Question 8: Even if we accept the authenticity of all three videos, doesn't the fact that ISIS received so much aid, training and weaponry from the United States (or at least from its allies) require us to view these hideous productions in a very different way?

Question 9: Is it unfair to assess these videos as part of a larger environment of rampant disinformation?

* Consider, for example, our media's frequent reliance on the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, exposed more than a year ago as a fake.

* Consider the insane "Assad create ISIS" meme which so many in the media have blindly repeated. Hell, even the President of France endorsed it!

* Consider the disinfo story that ISIS supports itself via bank robbery. That's right: Bank robbery. Never mind all of those news stories about the group being funded by Saudi Arabia or Qatar and  our other friends: No, ISIS supposedly grew wealthy by imitating Bonnie and Clyde. Our media still loves to repeat this fib, even though the banks named in these stories have denied being robbed, and even though the entire meme was concocted by none other than ueber-conman Ahmed Chalabi.

* Consider, finally, last year's false accusation that Bashar Assad launched a sarin attack on his own people. Tellingly, Obama never made reference to this claim in his address to the nation, not even in that instantly-infamous paragraph in which he argued for Assad's removal.

Folks, we are swimming in an ocean of deceit. As we go to war, we have a right to demand better evidence than a couple of Tweets from the NSC. 

Question 10: Shouldn't we take into consideration the fact that Rita Katz obviously works on behalf of Israel? (Any protestations to the contrary she might make are laughable.) Israel clearly would love to see Syria subdivided into three or more nations, divided along sectarian/ethnic lines and set at perpetual loggerheads with each other. I'm also pretty sure that Israel would love to see much of the Syrian population bereft of access to ports.

Keep in mind: Israeli officials told former French foreign minister Roland Dumas that Israel was pursuing plans to get rid of Assad.

The Phony War. I am not the only one arguing that the war against ISIS is really a cover for a war to bring down Assad.
The U.S. military in the joint Arab-American operations room for the Syrian insurgency in Amman Jordan may well plan to use the murky new "war on ISIS" as pretext for attacks on the Syrian army divisions protecting Damascus from the south. Coordinated with a ground attack by Jabhat al-Nusra and others from Quneitra such air attacks would seriously degrade the Syrian forces and enable a destructive push into Damascus.

(update) Obama already announced the escalation path for such air attacks:
He made clear the intricacy of the situation, though, as he contemplated the possibility that Mr. Assad might order his forces to fire at American planes entering Syrian airspace. If he dared to do that, Mr. Obama said he would order American forces to wipe out Syria’s air defense system, which he noted would be easier than striking ISIS because its locations are better known. He went on to say that such an action by Mr. Assad would lead to his overthrow, according to one account.
The stampede to attack ISIS may have been pure maskirovka to hide this violent regime change attack plan against Syria under some "anti-terrorism" label. This at the same time as the plan is coordinated with and actively supported by Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and made possible through truce agreements with ISIS.
I would support a war against ISIS if, in fact, this really were a war against ISIS. But it's not. ISIS will probably be rebranded, and it will probably be herded out of Iraq and driven back into Syria. But ISIS, under whatever new name, will not go away -- because the real target is Bashar Assad.
This is so so much like the lead up to the war in Iraq (version 2002). The lies and propaganda are publicly disproven but nobody seems to care. The news media just keeps repeating the lies, and the American public who gets all their news from television just go along with the charade. And people who watch alternative television don't get much better. Al Jazeera is based out of Qatar which funds ISIL. Al Jazeera has to toe the party line. Democracy now? I think Amy Goodman has been compromised. Last I checked there were no exposes on the Ukrainian crisis telling us that Russia seeks peace with it's neighbors on Democracy Now.

"Who are the Terrorists?"

Speaking of beheadings... In Ukraine the fascist Western Ukrainian forces out of Kiev are severing the heads of prisoners of war and then shipping them to the victim's mothers. Just do a web search on Ukraine, mothers, beheading, wooden box. I doubt that this is on western televisions.

Putin may have lost the war for the Eastern Ukraine Novorussian separatists. They had the Kiev forces encircled and trapped, utterly defeated. Novorussian commanders wanted to take the initiative and move on to Kiev, but Putin, hoping to show the European Union that he wants peace, pushed for a ceasefire and safe exit for trapped Kiev forces. Now western Ukraine is using this pause to regroup and acquire new weapons from NATO in order to begin a new assault. And the EU is still slapping Russia with new sanctions. They've drawn up a list of Russian journalists who are to be banned from entering the EU. Maybe the Kiev forces are so morally defeated that they will not fight? 65 years of age is now the cut off point for conscription.
Look out! He's got a pun!

A sensible view of a complex issue. A SITE for sore eyes.

I have no experience with videos, but still there's no way to tell if the video is real, as far as I can tell. Certainly no examination of the video is likely to be productive, you might know but I don't know enough to know if the analysis is correct, and to everyone else it will be about as relevant as which wounds were entry wounds on JFK's corpse.

Regardless, it's probably irrelevant whether it's real or not. More relevant is whether SITE is working for the CIA, the Mossad, or possibly, I suppose, the putative producers of the video, ISIS. Assuming that isn't a distinction without a difference.
Joseph I did not see the Sotloff video but did see the Foley video. It sounds extremely similar.

In the Sotloff video do the filmmakers ( As they do in the Foley vide) fade out on the "throat cutting" and then fade in on the head laying on the body?

If so, do you believe something like that could be faked? A colleague of mine is convinced the Foley "headshot" is a fake- a latex prop. Another contact of mine thinks it might be a perspective trick and makeup.

I just don't know. Also, there is no physical evidence correct ? No one has found remains.

Almost 20 years ago I saw video footage of a UFO shooting a death ray into the White House and blowing it up. It was at night and happened pretty fast. It looked real, I guess- I had never see a UFO blowing up the White House before so not sure what it is supposed to look like.
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