Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Is this the best we can do?!"

"Is this the best we can do? ...  If this is the best we can do? Then our best isn't good enough and we have to ask some hard questions about our political system."

While this quote from former Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich is specifically referring to the debate over the creation of Obamacare, I find it a very pertinent question to ask as we see preparations unfold for the 2016 Presidential Election.  I'm looking at a range of potential and declared candidates for the upcoming race and despite the vast quantity, I'm finding a dearth of quality.  The measure of quality is something I base not just on what they say, not just on what they do, but also how they gather support.  Kucinich is a perfect example of this.  As a Congressman, I love everything that he said.  In that same capacity, I love almost everything that he did.  But as a presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008, he did a terrible job gathering support for his campaign.  Sad to see a nice guy fall short, but that's the reality of the cold mean world of politics.


Let's start with the Democrats, or in the case of 2016, Democrat.  That is the pitiful reality at play today.  Sure, it's fun to cheer the candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders.  It's fun to think that he might really present a "challenge" to the nomination, that in the course of inevitably debating Hillary Clinton during the primaries that he might "push her to the left", or whatever meme you want to push pretending that Sanders' candidacy has viability.  But that's all it amounts to: pretending.  Barring some unforeseen calamity equivalent to the 2008 Economic Meltdown, this is not a 'change' election, aside from the obvious term limits.  And socialism is not the new black.  Sanders, in terms of the Democratic nomination for president, is in the same camp as Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee and anyone else who wants to throw their hat in the ring: next in line in case Hillary Clinton is photographed abusing an endangered species or in bed with anyone other than Bill.

That's the reality for the Democratic primary season - there is no serious challenger capable of unseating Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination except Hillary Clinton.  Any "challenge" to her nomination is in name only.  Pardon my lack of enthusiasm, but I'm just not excited that a candidate who voted for the Iraq quagmire we're still embroiled in after 12 years, who hires a former Monsanto lobbyist to run her campaign, and who refuses to take a public stand on Keystone XL is the best we can do.  But listen to how money talks: Clinton is planning on raising $200-300 million for the Super PACs that back her.  There simply is no other potential nominee on her side of the aisle that even comes close to her numbers.

What prompted her to do this is that on the other side of the aisle the fundraising is just as blatantly aggressive, primarily from Jeb Bush.  Yep, that's reason number two why I'm throwing my hands in the air echoing the Kucinich complaint.  Really?!  Reveling in 90s nostalgia can't just be limited to reviving The X-Files and Twin Peaks, we have to have another Clinton-Bush presidential showdown?!  Sure, the ideologues on the right can pretend that their commitment to 'purity' will win the day and put Ted Cruz or some other bottom-feeding troglodyte in power, but we all know the truth is that money talks and bullshit walks.  The Bush family and money go together like the CIA and plausible deniability.  (Actually, all four things go together, don't they?)  Jeb already has decided to let his Super PAC run his campaign.  Though he has refused to release the numbers on his record-setting fundraising, it's impressive enough that he has instructed his donors not to donate more than $1 million, presumably so they'll have more to give deeper into the campaign.  All this from someone who still hasn't declared his official candidacy.

Plus, this is all a warm-up to the real money yet to be laid out.  Not the million dollar contributors, the billion dollar contributors.  Bush is reported to have "impressed" casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.  Adelson is one of the GOP's wealthiest donors with a net worth of $27.8 billion.  But as far as combined wealth is concerned, nobody beats the Koch brothers.  David Koch and his brother Charles are worth $42.8 billion according to Forbes, though Bloomberg estimates their combined wealth at $100 billion.  So when the Koch brothers say they are hoping to raise $1 billion for their favorite Republican candidates, that may only represent 1 percent of their total net worth.  So congratulations to Politico.com for publishing one of the most honest headlines I've seen about the electoral process in years:

Koch brothers will offer audition to Jeb Bush

Charles and David Koch are considering throwing their massive wealth and sophisticated organization into the Republican presidential primary for the first time, a potentially game-changing boost that could make even a second-tier candidate instantly viable.

In another surprise, a top Koch aide revealed to POLITICO that Jeb Bush will be given a chance to audition for the brothers’ support, despite initial skepticism about him at the top of the Kochs’ growing political behemoth.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz debated at the Koch network’s winter seminar in January, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made a separate appearance. Those were the candidates who appeared to have a chance at the Koch blessing, and attendees said Rubio seemed to win that round.

But those four — plus Jeb – will be invited to the Kochs’ summer conference, the aide said. Bush is getting a second look because so many Koch supporters think he looks like a winner. Other candidates, perhaps Rick Perry or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, may also get invitations.

That's the slimy reality concerning the wealthiest .01 percent: they run this country.  Anyone who wants to be President must pass their audition!  Maybe Jeb won't pass the audition.  Aside from his recent ridiculous flub on the question of the Iraq war, aside from his prior membership in the group that originated the phrase "New Pearl Harbor", the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), where he supported a call for "bioweapons that can 'target' specific genotypes...as a politically useful tool" (thanks to temp-monitor at RI for that find), aside from appearing to be even deeper in denial about climate change than his brother George W., there is the question of his involvement in narcotics trafficking.  There is the recent news of Jeb's four mysterious companies that all share the same address, yet have never done any known business.  While that shady story is not definitive proof, it takes on sinister connotations in light of the claim that Jeb Bush chaired a meeting attended by Iran/contra conspirators Dewey Clarridge, Richard Secord and Oliver North discussing the assassination of CIA drug smuggler Barry Seal five months before he was assassinated.  Then there's that other nagging question Jeff Wells asked: why did Jeb Bush and federal agents seize records from Huffman Aviation, the Florida flight school of Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers owned by a man whose Learjet was seized with over 30 pounds of heroin in July 2000, and fly away on a C-130 cargo plane at 2AM on 9/12/01?  What happened to those records?  And how did Jeb know where to look less than 24 hours after the attacks?!

Then again, I'm sure the ultra-wealthy industrialists who run this country already know the answers to those questions and wouldn't bother to put Jeb through the sort of inaugural christening that Bill Hicks described over 20 years ago.  Jeb already knows his agenda - just look at the foreign policy advisor team he has already compiled.  You think that brood of vipers won't be waiting in the wings even if Jeb doesn't win the nomination?!  The news isn't that the fix is in, it's been in - and not enough people care to put a stop to what ails us.  It's an overall national apathy that Sibel Edmonds has spelled out in grueling detail.  We know the "independent" 9/11 Commission was a farce - commissioners Charles Kean and Lee Hamilton wrote a book where they admitted that Pentagon officials were dishonest during their hearing - and nothing is done.  The head of the FBI's anthrax investigation said the whole thing was a sham - and I hear crickets chirping.  Our public officials are bought and sold before their names are even printed on our ballots - and we think calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United will make a difference?!  All Citizens United has done is taken a process that normally took in the shadows, behind the billowy curtains of Oz, and rubbed it in our faces.  Why?  Because it's easier and because, post 9/11, post Patriot Act, they know they can get away with it.

Focusing on Citizens United ignores the fact that money has always found a way to get their interests represented by the government.  It's obvious, I've said it umpteen times on this blog, but I'll say it again: until you change the way money works, you change nothing.  So why don't we?  Why don't we change the way money works so that, among other things, we can actually have a government of the people, for the people, and by the people?  Well, aside from all the examples of apathy I listed above, I'll leave it to George Carlin to explain.  His explanation was made almost 20 years ago, but is still timely as it gives a pertinent answer to Dennis Kucinich's question:

“Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. Fuck Hope.”

So keep staring at that monitor, folks.  You'll see another election.  You'll see another war.  You'll see another piece of your Social Security stripped away.  You'll see another piece of your civil rights stripped away.  Because until the lights go out, until our cars don't run, until our climate starts cooking our farmlands to the point we can't grow food for first world citizens, that's exactly where we'll collectively stay.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Reviewing Sibel Edmonds: The Lone Gladio

Years before I began this blog, I had been following Sibel Edmonds' story for clues about what larger, darker truths would be revealed.  From the 60 Minutes story of her FBI whistleblowing to the gagging by Attorney General John Ashcroft, the State Secrets Privilege Gallery and sworn testimony in Schmidt v. Krikorian, the story kept getting more vast and labyrinthian.  But of all the stories that Sibel Edmonds' time as an FBI translator bore witness to, the story that fascinated me the most concerned what she learned about 9/11.  Most of this was detailed in her book Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, an autobiography of her experience with the FBI.  But she has always been meticulous about strictly stating the facts that she uncovered, without resorting to speculation about what those facts mean in the context of the larger question: how did 9/11 really go down?

She found the perfect venue for elaborating the details of how she thinks it all went down: a fictional novel.  The Lone Gladio is a spy thriller written by Sibel Edmonds that deals with her experiences in a fictional manner, but has multiple story lines that weave together in unexpected ways.  If I were to approach this as a regular review, I would give this my highest praise for being a genuine page turner, filled with memorable characters, exciting plot twists and riveting confrontations.  But rather than approach this as a review of just the book itself, I want to review this through the context of what I have learned about Sibel Edmonds' experience through her public revelations.  Specifically, I want to review portions of the book in the context of her revelations in 2013 on The Corbett Report about Gladio B, which I synopsized here.


As Sibel Edmonds alludes to in her interview on The Corbett Report, 9/11 was a Gladio B operation. While I employed my own hyperbole to describe her allusion that 9/11 was an Operation Gladio false flag operation on steroids, a more accurate description in light of what Edmonds has illustrated in The Lone Gladio is that 9/11 was a highly compartmentalized Gladio-within-Gladio operation.  Though there is a character in the novel based on Edmonds named Elsie Simon, the character who really does the most to expose the Gladio B network is Gregory McPhearson.  Also known as OG 68, his story begins on June 18 2001, working for "the company" in Azerbaijan.  Greg seems calm, cool and impenetrable, though when the target of the false flag terror operation he is working on is switched to a Moscow day care center to ensure Russian retaliation against the Chechens, he seems bothered by the possibility of messy, unanticipated consequences.  When we see him next, it is October 6, 2003, in Mui Ne, Vietnam.  While still outwardly Greg appears the same strong, cold operative, his inward calculations now seem focused against the company.  The reason is that since he knows Operation Gladio did 9/11, and he was excluded from involvement, he was considered by the top tier to be not suited or undetermined, and would have to eventually be eliminated.  Besides his own safety and security, he has another motive: he fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Mai.

Part of the fun for me in reading this book was deciphering who some of these people named in the book might be in real life and who some of the organizations named really are.  I find it interesting, especially after reading a different book that I hope to review later that addresses memetic propaganda, that Edmonds never refers to 9/11 as 9/11; throughout the book she refers to it as the "2001 attack."  The attack was carried out by "al-Hazar", obviously al-Qaeda.  Greg found out about it at Frankfurt Airport watching "BCB", or BBC.  She refers to it as "a tool of the company", as well as "NCN", or CNN, and "New York Corp", or New York Times.  As she writes on page 84, "The entire thing was a supreme cosmic joke.  Yes, he was deliberately placed outside the loop: before, during, and after the attack.  And why?  They knew he'd know, of course; it was Greg and the rest of the company who had created al-Hazar in the first place.  They created a brand and coined it with a name that started as a joke among company men, and somehow it had stuck."

Greg is confronted at his place in Vietnam by an operative begging him to negotiate with the CIA for his life after running afoul of the agency by taping a politician with prepubescent girls that the agency was trying to blackmail.  The politician, Donald Keller, seems to me like an improbable cross between Dennis Hastert and Henry Waxman, though with Edmonds' physical description of him and his arrogant protestation, "I am the WHIP.", I couldn't help be reminded of Newt Gingrich.  Greg rebuffs the operative, but keeps the DVD evidence of the politician.  Desperate to save his life, the operative follows Mai to a coffeehouse to tell her to try to convince Greg to help him.  But he is too late; they not only gun him down in the coffeehouse but kill Mai as well.

For Greg, taking out his woman gives him an even stronger motive to take down Gladio B: revenge.  This resolve only increases his methodical and calculated approach.  He kills the CIA agent who killed Mai, as well as the pimp responsible for the child prostitutes, in a ritualistic fashion designed to take suspicion off of him.  He then travels, posing as a French tourist, to Turkey to kill Mehmet Turkel, a former Turkish lieutenant general involved in narcotics trafficking for Gladio since the 1980s.  Based on what Edmonds elaborates on in the six part Gladio B series, I think Turkel is most likely Mehmet Ağar or possibly some Turkish general pissed off by the Hood Event like Hilmi Özkök.  Next on Greg's agenda is a trip to Brussels where he deftly carjacks a NATO Colonel, using his identity to sneak into NATO headquarters to kill two Gladio operatives and a State Department liaison named David Perleman.  I'm not sure who the Gladio operatives are, but I'm pretty sure the State Department guy is Marc Grossman or Richard Perle.  Then Greg flies off to Washington, D.C. to take care of things on the home front.

As Greg continues his Gladio takedown in the USA, his path crosses fatefully with Elsie Simon.  Like Edmonds herself, she is an FBI translator who faces termination when she uncovers criminal activity connected with the Gladio B network.  She finds classified documentation of David Perleman and other top government officials holding meetings with, among others, Turkel, Amin al-Zakiri, who as "leader of al-Hazar" is probably Osama bin Laden, and Yousef Mahmoud, who seems to be a cross between Ali Mohammed and Ayman al-Zawahiri.  Elsie tries to become a whistleblower, but unfortunately, the Congressperson she decides to blow the whistle to is none other than Donald Keller.  Unknown to her, Greg bugged Keller's office, so when he finds out that Elsie has scheduled a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) meeting with Keller's Chief of Staff, he views this complication as a threat to his plans and decides to neutralize her.

However, after tailing her and learning more about her, Greg decides to not only let Elsie live, but have her help him with his plans.   He even reveals personal information about himself to her and how he came to work for Operation Gladio on pages 244-245:

"I began with the army; Special Forces, and after that, DIA.  I have a solid education and a good set of language skills, like you.  That moved me to another unit: Joint CIA-Pentagon Operations.  A year later, I became one of the chosen ones for the company.  That's where I spent the last twenty years."

"The company?  But that's the agency - the CIA."

"Well, yes and no.  The company is a special operations unit made up of several units: the Pentagon, on the top; NATO, CIA, and MI6.  There are less than two hundred operatives in the company.  All divided into their own small units.  Separate pockets.  Rigidly compartmentalized.  The top tier, OGs one to ten, oversees the entire operation without ever coming into direct contact with the bottom units."

Elsie tilted her head to the left and began stroking the nape of her neck.  "OGs?"

Don't, Greg thought.  He looked into her eyes.  "Operation Gladio.  Are you familiar?"

After detailing how Gladio, which Elsie is aware of, morphed from Cold War false flag operations in Europe to Operation B, utilizing Mujahideen and other Islamic operatives, Greg directs Elsie to a safe motel where she can help him with two parts of his plan - publicizing Gladio B and its role in 9/11 and stopping a new terror attack about to happen in D.C.  As they take the steps necessary to accomplish this, Elsie learns more about what the Deep State really is.  For anyone who ever had any doubt that George Tenet knew what was coming down the pike on 9/11, this next passage from page 305-306 should erase all doubts:

Seizing the moment, she'd asked her first question. "How deep does it go, the 2001 attack?  Exactly how deep?  Do you know?"

He had hesitated before answering with a question.  "Not sure what you mean...remember what I told you about pockets?"

"Yes, about compartmentalization; but I know you know more.  You said Gladio, for example, has two or three operatives inside the bureau, never the director himself.  We identified two: Assistant Deputy Marshall and Drake; yet what about inside the agency?  How many, and how far up?"

She could hear him thinking; did he know?  "I would guess...at least a dozen.  A minimum of twelve OG operatives within the agency.  Unlike the FBI, the CIA director is directly involved.  I would say somewhere between OG ten and fifteen."

"How about the president?  Does it go up that high?"

She'd heard something like a laugh.  "No, it doesn't.  Presidents don't want to know.  They have a general idea but that's it.  No details."

"The president doesn't know about 2001?  That's impossible."

"I didn't say that, did I?  Look...they do the same as they do with people like Keller.  You can't be president without certain qualifications: criminal background, sex maniac, mafia connections, you name it.  Those ingredients are necessary for any viable presidential candidate.  Without them, they haven't a chance in hell..."

"So we're talking CIA and the Pentagon; then why did you rank the CIA director in the OG teens?"

"You're making a false assumption: that the absolute top must exist inside the government.  Not so.  There are others outside the government, and they are the ones on top.  They are the true power that controls the second tier: the government front system - because government is a front.  The CIA too sets up front companies; it's strikingly similar.  The real power - the Deep State, let's call it - is out and above the actual visible government."

She'd heard of the shadow government, but never from a source like this.  "Major companies?  The military-industrial complex?  Oil companies?  Is that what you're talking about?"

"Some of those; but maybe some others, who serve those companies under what they call their vision.  They see themselves as visionaries and consider themselves gods.  They analyze and set the agendas.  They have one foot in and one foot out, and appear to have every leader's ear.  You know them.  I believe they would be within the first ten OG ranking."

She had been quiet, thinking permanent war and infinite death.

"You get the gist.  This is what I meant by Gladio Gods, and what they consider collateral damage: a small price paid for their vision..."

She didn't need to ask any more questions.

She was ready.

Ready, willing, but are they successful?  I don't want to give away the ending of this book, (and believe me, I have left out a ton of details, including many important characters and plot lines) but I will say that if you're a fan of how Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds changed history for the sake of enacting a tasty revenge, you'll get a kick out of how Sibel Edmonds ties it all up at the end of The Lone Gladio.

If there's any criticism I have of this book, it's regarding the torture.  Not that I personally had any problem reading literary descriptions of torture, which Edmonds does get quite graphic about.  My issue is that it's become something of a cliche in popular entertainment for the protagonist to torture the antagonist as a crisis approaches and - almost without exception - the antagonist gives up intelligence that solves the crisis.  My understanding of reality is that rarely, if ever, has torture produced actionable intelligence to stop an impending terror attack.  It's not as cliched as, say, your average TV show; Edmonds does create an extenuating circumstance through which I could buy someone as high up the Gladio food chain as Yousef Mahmoud giving Greg the appropriate intel.  I also found it fascinating that through Yousef, we find out the 9/11 patsies didn't believe they were on a suicide mission but were part of a drill.  After reading how dubious the description of these patsies being "devout" was in Daniel Hopsicker's Welcome to Terrorland, this is yet another hypothesis Edmonds presents in The Lone Gladio with enough circumstantial evidence to qualify as a valid theory.  But getting back to the fictional construct, was torture really necessary to elicit this evidence?  Perhaps that question, however you answer it, is part of the conversation Edmonds is hoping to stimulate by writing this book.

Overall, I have to give this book a high recommendation both for being an extremely suspenseful spy thriller and for digging deeper into how 9/11 happened than any other work of fiction I can think of.  I wish my recommendation was enough to give it a wider audience.  I suppose it's too much to ask for Hollywood to grow a pair and produce a faithful movie adaptation.  But then again, I never thought we would see a movie about Gary Webb and that got made.  There's even a project in the works with Tom Cruise set to play Barry Seal

Stranger things have happened.