TBR News July 11, 2014

Jul 10 2014


The Voice of the White House


           Washington, D.C.: “I really wish they would stop playing that old Stephen Foster song, ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ on the Republican radio channel. The opening verses are downright disrespectful and ought to be classified with the naughty-naughty-no-no “N” word:

            ‘The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
             ‘Tis summer, the darkies are gay;…’


            Of course for general consumption,  the Kumbaya Society people have changed ‘darkies’ to ‘people’ but the Republican version is the old, naughty, one.

            I, myself, have no prejudice against black people and I really feel that everyone ought to own one but times have changed for the worse, haven’t they?

            And at a Fourth of July parade in the mid-West, a beat-up old pickup truck towed an outhouse with ‘Obama Presidential Library’ signs on it with a egg-plant colored dummy standing up by the half-moon studded door.

            Oh, shameful!

            And Ann Coulter was telling us about the luxury hotel in Washington that catered only to black people and which is called “The Coonrad Hilton.”

            My God, is there no end to this disgusting madness? “


German spy who sold secrets to US tried to make deal with Russians

Agent who sold top secret documents was caught offering his services to the Kremlin


July 6, 2014

by Tony Paterson



 The German intelligence “double agent” who allegedly sold hundreds of top secret documents to the Americans was caught by his own country’s counter espionage agents while trying to broker an additional spying deal with the Russian secret services, according to intelligence sources in Berlin.


The bizarre twist to Germany’s deepening “double agent affair” emerged yesterday after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government summoned the US ambassador to Berlin to “clarify” the second explosive case of suspected American intelligence spying against Germany within the space of a year.


On Friday, Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) intelligence service admitted that one of its agents, an as yet unnamed 31-year-old man “with a limp”, had been arrested for supplying American intelligence with at least 300 top secret documents over a period lasting several years.


“The matter is serious,” declared a German government spokesman. The disclosure came eight months after German-US relations suffered their worst crisis in decades with the revelation that the US National Security Agency had bugged Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone.


The tapping was carried out from a listening post on the roof of the US embassy in Berlin. GCHQ operates a similar listening post from the roof Britain’s embassy in Berlin. German intelligence sources have provided some embarrassing details about the “US mole” who appears to have operated undetected within their ranks for years.


The BND agent, now in German police custody, first established contact with his US spymasters through a simple email he sent to the American embassy which held out the prospect of possible “co-operation”. The offer was evidently gladly received. In his role as America’s mole within the BND, the agent is thought to have downloaded an estimated 300 secret intelligence documents from the BND’s computer system on to USB sticks.


From 2012 until last week, the agent met his US spymasters at secret locations in Austria, where the information was handed over. The agent is said to have received €10,000 (£8,000) per batch of information. The BND has not disclosed what type of material was stolen. However, news of his arrest surfaced during a meeting of a German parliamentary committee which has been investigating the NSA’s surveillance and phone-tapping operation.


The double agent’s suspected supply of BND information about the workings of the NSA parliamentary committee has raised additional alarm in Germany. “This amounts to an unpardonable attack on parliamentary freedom,” protested the Social Democrat parliamentary leader, Thomas Oppermann.


However, the double agent appeared to have been motivated less by ideology than hard cash. German sources revealed yesterday that his activities were only noticed after he tried to widen his information supply portfolio to include the Russians. Three weeks ago BND counter-espionage agents picked up an email that had been sent to the Russian embassy. Like the email to the American embassy, it was said to have offered the possibility of co-operation. “The counter-espionage agents were stunned when they discovered that the source of the email was the BND,” reported the German magazine Der Spiegel.


German MPs were yesterday still reeling from the shock of the double agent’s unmasking and the alarming realisation that their own domestic intelligence service is not immune to NSA infiltration. “All co-operation between German intelligence and its friendly allies must be thoroughly examined,” insisted the Green Party MP Katrin Göring-Eckardt.


There was speculation among some MPs that Germany might “pay back” America by inviting the US whistleblower Edward Snowden to travel from exile in Russia to testify against the NSA before a Berlin parliamentary committee. Chancellor Merkel’s government has so far ruled out inviting Mr Snowden for fear of upsetting the White House.




US, NATO’s powder keg in Europe, 100 years since WWI


June 28, 2014

by Finian Cunningham



 One hundred years ago today, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo was the fatal spark that ignited a geopolitical powder keg in Europe.


Within a month, all the major powers of Europe would be embroiled in the First World War, which also dragged in Russia and the US. The war would last for nearly five years and resulted in at least 20 million deaths.


That catastrophe has perplexing resonances with today. A single incident set off a conflagration back then because it came amid simmering rivalries among imperial powers. Another resonance is how historians recount that in the run-up to the First World War few believed that a war in “modern, civilized” Europe was likely because of the belief that diplomacy would prevail.


Today, we see similar reckless goading by imperial powers across Europe. The US and its European NATO allies have embarked on a 25-year expansion towards Russia’s heartland. The dynamic of encroachment has only sped up, not lessened. This expansion is provocative, aggressive and duplicitous because it not only presents a military threat to Russia it also flies in the face of past commitments by the US-led NATO alliance not to do so, such as in the 1997 Founding Act, signed with Moscow.


Russia has every right to feel threatened by ever-encroaching ballistic missile systems on its borders that could be used in a pre-emptive nuclear strike by the US and its allies. That concern is heightened ever since Washington invoked a “first strike doctrine” under President George W Bush, which Obama still retains.


Yet, provocatively, Washington dismisses Russian President Vladimir Putin’s concerns about NATO expansion as if they the deliriums of a Soviet revanchist.


The complacency of the present time towards the dangers of war has disturbing echoes of the past – on the eve of World War I. A major factor in the present complacency is that the Western mainstream media are failing, woefully, to properly report on the gravity of the situation in Ukraine, and just how provocative that parlous situation is to Russia’s vital interests.


This week saw the signing of a trade pact between the European Union and Petro Poroshenko, the declared president of Ukraine. The Western media have hailed it in glowing terms as “a landmark event” and a positive outcome of democracy in the former Soviet Republic. That blithe assessment invites dangerous ignorance and complacency.


The truth is that the signing of the EU trade pact is the outcome of an illegal regime-change operation in Ukraine fomented by Washington and its NATO allies. That regime change involved CIA-backed mass murder of civilians (the February 20 sniper shootings in Kiev’s Maidan Square) and the overthrow of an elected government.


Since the illegal coup against President Viktor Yanukovych, the Western-backed Kiev regime has been waging war on the ethnic Russian populations in the east and south of the country, who refuse to recognize the regime as legitimate. Poroshenko, the billionaire oligarch who is now signing over sovereign affairs of Ukraine to the


US, NATO and the EU, was elected as president in a farce vote last month, where only 45 percent of the electorate turned out and large sections of the east and south did not even cast a ballot amid a murderous “anti-terror” crackdown by Kiev troops and paramilitaries.


The campaign of terror by the Kiev forces against pro-Russian civilians was launched at the end of April, days after CIA chief John Brennan made a secret visit to the Kiev regime. Brennan briefed the Kiev leadership, including the so-called Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who only last week used Nazi language to vow that his military forces would “cleanse sub-humans” from the country – referring to the ethnic Russian populations and the self-defence militias they have set up in the Donetz and Lugansk regions.


The impostor-President Poroshenko may have declared a ceasefire over the past week, but the hostilities against civilian centres continue unabated. Crimes against humanity include the bombing of homes, churches, schools and hospitals, the use of White Phosphorus incendiary bombs and exploding bullets, as well as shelling of electricity and water supplies.


Western media have largely ignored these violations by the “new democratic Ukrainian government”, or at best have reported them as “unverified” or merely as “breaches of the ceasefire by both sides”. Western governments and media have gone into denial mode, refusing to acknowledge what even the United Nations this week confirmed as a massive displacement of over 150,000 people from eastern Ukraine. Why are such numbers fleeing if the violence is not also massive?


Another example of the Western cover-up over state terrorism in Ukraine is the recent killing of three journalists. Earlier this month, Russian journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his colleague Anton Voloshin were killed near Lugansk when they were hit with a mortar shell. Survivors of the attack said it was deliberate targeting by Kiev troops. Previously, Italian journalist Andrea Rochelli was slain near Slavyansk in another incident that bore the hallmarks of shoot-to-kill.


In the past week, by contrast, there was an outpouring of condemnation from Washington and other Western governments, as well as widespread media coverage, of the jailing of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt. Those sentences were no doubt a gross miscarriage of justice. But what about the taking of journalists’ lives in Ukraine? Where is the Western condemnations and media coverage?


Western-backed regime change and genocidal repression in Ukraine is a collision course of extreme provocation towards Russia and its vital interests. Yet it is presented to the Western public as if it is a “good news” story about democratic European enlargement, which, perversely, is being spoiled by Russian “interference”.


This is a powder-keg situation in Europe, led to by the US geopolitics and its European henchmen, and which is wrapped up in an explosive shell of ignorance by lying Western media.


The repetition of history is not inevitable. But the chances are increased when people are kept in the dark about the underlying causes of war and conflict.





11 Shocking Facts About America’s Militarized Police Forces

The militarization of police is harming civil liberties, impacting children, and transforming neighborhoods into war zones.


June 27, 2014



The “war on terror” has come home–and it’s wreaking havoc on innocent American lives.  The culprit is the militarization of the police.


The weapons used in the “war on terror” that destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq have made their way to local law enforcement. While police forces across the country began a process of militarization complete with SWAT teams and flash-bang grenades when President Reagan intensified the “war on drugs,” the post-9/11 “war on terror” has added fuel to the fire. 


Through laws and regulations like a provision in defense budgets that authorize the Pentagon to transfer surplus military gear to police forces, local law enforcement are using weapons found on the battlefields of South Asia and the Middle East. 


A recent New York Times article by Matt Apuzzoreported that in the Obama era, “police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.”  The result is that police agencies around the nation possess military-grade equipment, turning officers who are supposed to fight crime and protect communities into what look like invading forces from an army. And military-style police raids have increased in recent years, with one count putting the number at 80,000 such raids last year.


In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought more attention to police militarization when it issued a comprehensive, nearly 100-page (appendix and endnotes included) report titled, “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.”  Based on public records requests to more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 26 states, the ACLU concluded that “American policing has become excessively militarized through the use of weapons and tactics designed for the battlefield” and that this militarization “unfairly impacts people of color and undermines individual liberties, and it has been allowed to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.”


The information contained in the ACLU report, and in other investigations into the phenomenon, is sobering. From the killing of innocent people to the lack of debate on the issue, police militarization has turned into a key issue for Americans. It is harming civil liberties, ramping up the “war on drugs,” impacting the most marginalized members of society and transforming neighborhoods into war zones.  Here are 11 important–and horrifying–things you should know about the militarization of police.


1. It harms, and sometimes kills, innocent people. When you have heavily armed police officers using flash-bang grenades and armored personnel carriers, innocent people are bound to be hurt.  The likelihood of people being killed is raised by the practice of SWAT teams busting down doors with no warning, which leads some people to think it may be a burglary, who could in turn try to defend themselves. The ACLU documented seven cases of civilians dying, and 46 people being injured.  That’s only in the cases the civil liberties group looked at, so the number is actually higher. 


Take the case of Tarika Wilson, which the ACLU summarizes.  The 26-year-old biracial mother lived in Lima, Ohio.  Her boyfriend, Anthony Terry, was wanted by the police on suspicion of drug dealing.  So on January 4, 2008, a SWAT team busted down Wilson’s door and opened fire.  A SWAT officer killed Wilson and injured her one-year-old baby, Sincere Wilson. The killing sparked rage in Lima and accusations of a racist police department, but the officer who shot Wilson, Sgt. Joe Chavalia, was found not guilty on all charges.


2. Children are impacted. As the case of Wilson shows, the police busting down doors care little about whether there’s a child in the home.  Another case profiled by the ACLU shows how children are caught up the crossfire–with devastating consequences.


In May, after their Wisconsin home had burned down, the Phonesavanh family was staying with relatives in Georgia. One night, a SWAT team with assault rifles invaded the home and threw a flashbang grenade–despite the presence of kids’ toys in the front yard.  The police were looking for the father’s nephew on drug charges.  He wasn’t there.  But a 19-month-old named Bou Bou was–and the grenade landed in his crib.


Bou Bou was wounded in the chest and had third-degree burns. He was put in a medically induced coma. 


Another high-profile instance of a child being killed by paramilitary police tactics occurred in 2010, when seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed in Detroit.  The city’s Special Response Team (Detroit’s SWAT) was looking for Chauncey Owens, a suspect in the killing of a teenager who lived on the second floor of the apartment Jones lived in.


Officers raided the home, threw a flash-bang grenade, and fired one shot that struck Jones in the head.  The police agent who fired the fatal shot, Joseph Weekley, has so far gotten off easy: a jury trial ended in deadlock last year, though he will face charges of involuntary manslaughter in September.  As The Nation’s Mychal Denzel Smith wrote last year after Weekley was acquitted: “What happened to Aiyana is the result of the militarization of police in this country…Part of what it means to be black in America now is watching your neighborhood become the training ground for our increasingly militarized police units.”


Bou Bou and Jones aren’t the only case of children being impacted.


According to the ACLU, “of the 818 deployments studied, 14 percent involved the presence of children and 13 percent did not.”


3. The use of SWAT teams is unnecessary.  In many cases, using militarized teams of police is not needed.  The ACLU report notes that the vast majority of cases where SWAT teams are deployed are in situations where a search warrant is being executed to just look for drugs. In other words, it’s not even 100% clear whether there are drugs at the place the police are going to.  These situations are not why SWAT was created.


Furthermore, even when SWAT teams think there are weapons, they are often wrong. The ACLU report shows that in the cases where police thought weapons would be there, they were right only a third of the time.


4. The “war on terror” is fueling militarization. It was the “war on drugs” that introduced militarized policing to the U.S.  But the “war on terror” has accelerated it. 


A growing number of agencies have taken advantage of the Department of Defense’s “1033” program, which is passed every year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, the budget for the Pentagon.  The number of police agencies obtaining military equipment like mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles has increased since 2009, according to USA Today, which notes that this “surplus military equipment” is “left over from U.S. military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.”  This equipment is largely cost-free for the police agencies who receive them.


In addition to the Pentagon budget provision, another agency created in the aftermath of 9/11 is helping militarize the police.  The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) own grants funnel military-style equipment to local police departments nationwide.  According to a 2011 Center for Investigative Reporting story published by The Daily Beast, at least $34 billion in DHS grants have gone to police agencies to buy military-style equipment.  This money has gone to purchase drones, tactical vests, bomb-disarming robots, tanks and more.


5. It’s a boon to contractor profits. The trend towards police militarization has given military contractors another lucrative market where they can shop their products.  Companies like Lockheed Martin and Blackhawk Industries are making big bucks by selling their equipment to agencies flush with Department of Homeland Security grants.


In addition to the actual selling of equipment, contractors also sponsor training events for SWAT teams, like Urban Shield, a major arms expo that has attracted increasing attention from activists in recent years.  SWAT teams, police agencies and military contractors converge on Urban Shield, which was held in California last year, to train and to promote equipment to buy.


6. Border militarization and police militarization go hand in hand. The “war on terror” and “war on drugs” aren’t the only wars helping police militarization.  There’s also the war on undocumented immigrants. 


The notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio, infamous for brutal crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, is the paradigmatic example of this trend.  According to the ACLU, Arpaio’s Maricopa County department has acquired a machine gun so powerful it could tear through buildings on multiple city blocks.  In addition, he has 120 assault rifles, five armored vehicles and ten helicopters. Other law enforcement agencies in Arizona have obtained equipment like bomb suits and night-vision goggles.


Then there’s a non-local law enforcement agency on the border: the Border Patrol, which has obtained drones and attack helicopters.  And Border Patrol agents are acting like they’re at war.  A recent Los Angeles Times investigation revealed that law enforcement experts had found that that the Border Patrol has killed 19 people from January 2010-October 2012, including some of whom when the agents were under no lethal, direct threat.


7. Police are cracking down on dissent. In 1999, massive protests rocked Seattle during the World Trade Organization meeting.  The police cracked down hard on the demonstrators using paramilitary tactics. Police fired tear gas at protesters, causing all hell to break loose.


Norm Stamper, the Seattle police chief at the time, criticized the militarized policing he presided over in a Nation article in 2011.  “Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict,” wrote Stamper.


More than a decade after the Seattle protests, militarized policing to crack down on dissent returned with a vengeance during the wave of Occupy protests in 2011. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used to break up protests in Oakland. Scott Olsen, an Occupy Oakland protester and war veteran, was struck in the head by a police projectile, causing a fractured skull, broken neck vertebrae and brain swelling.


8. Asset forfeitures are funding police militarization. In June, AlterNet’s Aaron Cantuoutlined how civil asset forfeiture laws work. 


“It’s a legal fiction spun up hundreds of years ago to give the state the power to convict a person’s property of a crime, or at least, implicate its involvement in the committing of a crime. When that happened, the property was to be legally seized by the state,” wrote Cantu.  He went on to explain that law enforcement justifies the seizing of property and cash as a way to break up narcotics rings’ infrastructure.  But it can also be used in cases where a person is not convicted, or even charged with, a crime.


Asset forfeitures bring in millions of dollars for police agencies, who then spend the money for their own uses.  And for some police departments, it goes to militarizing their police force. 


New Yorker reporter Sarah Stillman, who penned a deeply reported piece on asset forfeitures,wrote in August 2013 that“thousands of police departments nationwide have recently acquired stun grenades, armored tanks, counterattack vehicles, and other paramilitary equipment, much of it purchased with asset-forfeiture funds.”  So SWAT teams have an incentive to conduct raids where they seize property and cash.  That money can then go into their budgets for more weapons.


9. Dubious informants are used for raids. As the New Yorker’s Stillman wrote in another piece,informants are “the foot soldiers in the government’s war on drugs. By some estimates, up to eighty per cent of all drug cases in America involve them.”  Given SWAT teams’ focus on finding drugs, it’s no surprise that informants are used to gather information that lead to military-style police raids.


A 2006 policy paper by investigative journalist Radley Balko, who has done the most reporting on militarized policing, highlighted the negative impact using informants for these raids have. Most often, informants are “people who regularly seek out drug users and dealers and tip off the police in exchange for cash rewards” and other drug dealers, who inform to gain leniency or cash from the police.  But these informants are quite unreliable–and the wrong information can lead to tragic consequences.


10. There’s been little debate and oversight.  Despite the galloping march towards militarization, there is little public debate or oversight of the trend.  The ACLU report notes that “there does not appear to be much, if any, local oversight of law enforcement agency receipt of equipment transfers.” One of the group’s recommendations to change that is for states and local municipalities to enact laws encouraging transparency and oversight of SWAT teams.


11. Communities of color bear the brunt. Across the country, communities of color are the people most targeted by police practices.  In recent years, the abuse of “stop and frisk” tactics has attracted widespread attention because of the racially discriminatory way it has been applied.


Militarized policing has also targeted communities of color. According to the ACLU report, “of all the incidents studied where the number and race of the people impacted were known, 39 percent were Black, 11 percent were Latino, 20 were white.” The majority of raids that targeted blacks and Latinos were related to drugs–another metric exposing how the “war on drugs” is racist to the core.


Alex Kane is AlterNet’s New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.



Is there a second NSA leaker after Snowden?


July 7, 2014

by Julian Hattem




Top experts say there could be a new person leaking details about the National Security Agency, in addition to former contractor Edward Snowden.


Glenn Greenwald, the journalist most closely associated to Snowden, said he suspects someone else has been involved in leaking out new documents, and other experts have backed up the claim.


            The existence of a second leaker “seems clear at this point,” Greenwald wrote on Twitter over the weekend. 


“The lack of sourcing to Snowden on this & that last [Der Spiegel] article seems petty telling,” he added, after German broadcasters reported that the NSA was tracking people searching for details about privacy software.


Neither the Der Spiegel article from December nor last week’s story, both of which were partly written by privacy advocate and security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, specifically mentioned that the information emanated from leaks by Snowden.


“That’s particularly notable given that virtually every other article using Snowden documents – including der Spiegel – specifically identified him as the source,” Greenwald said in an email to The Hill on Monday.


Other people who have seen Snowden’s trove of documents have agreed that the documents revealed by German outlets seem to indicate a second source.


Bruce Schneier, a cryptologist and cybersecurity expert who has helped the Guardian review Snowden’s disclosures, said he did “not believe that this came from the Snowden documents.”


“I think there’s a second leaker out there,” he wrote in a blog post last week.


If true, it could add another headache for the NSA, which has struggled for more than a year to contain the fallout from Snowden’s revelations. Defenders of the NSA say that the disclosures have hurt U.S. security and empowered terrorists and other enemies abroad.


Among other internal reforms, the spy agency has beefed up its clearance procedures to prevent another employee from passing along secret documents to journalists or governments in Beijing and Moscow.


“If in fact this is a post-Snowden NSA leak, then it’s probably just proof that you can always build a bigger mousetrap; that doesn’t mean you’re going to catch the mice,” said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University who specializes in national security issues.


Vladeck added that leaks about controversial national security programs are in many ways inevitable, and may not be tied to Snowden’s leaks in any way.


For Greenwald, however, a second leaker would be affirmation of Snowden’s actions.


“I’ve long thought one of the most significant and enduring consequences of Snowden’s successful whistleblowing will be that he will inspire other leakers to come forward,” he told The Hill.



Israeli Espionage in the US and 911

by Brian Harring
The Intelligence Digest



          In the history of Israeli espionage in and against the United States, the case of Jonathan Pollard was certainly the most heinous. Stanford graduate Pollard, a civilian U.S. naval intelligence analyst, provided Israeli intelligence with an estimated 800,000 pages of highly classified U.S. intelligence information. The Israelis in turn immediately passed this stolen information to the Soviets, thereby compromising American intelligence (CIA and military) agents in the field – a significant number of whom were captured and killed as a result.


            Israel at first denied, and then, faced with overwhelming evidence, admitted after he was arrested in 1985, convicted and sentenced to life in prison, that they were well aware of Pollard’s connections to the Mossad and an Israeli Air Force intelligence unit working out of the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

            The case created severe strains in American-Israeli relations, and is a source of ongoing rage in many American Jews, who believe that since Pollard was spying for Israel, he had an obligation to do this and that his life sentence was unduly harsh.


            Many Jewish groups in the United States, acting in concert with high level Israeli officials have constantly importuned American Presidents to pardon Pollard and permit him to emigrate to Israel where he has been promised a large sum of cash and a seat in the Israeli Knesset.


            Any attempt to understand the official U.S. response to any accusations of Israeli espionage in the United States as well as to comprehend the media response must take into account both the smoke screen that states blow over incidents that could jeopardize their strategic alliances, and America’s unique and complex relationship with Israel. The Jewish state is a close if problematic ally with whom the United States enjoys a “special relationship” unlike that maintained with any other nation in the world. But U.S. and Israeli interests do not always coincide, and spying has always been deemed to cross a line, to represent a fundamental violation of trust. According to intelligence sources, the United States might perhaps secretly tolerate some Israeli spying on U.S. soil if the government decided that it was in our interest, such as observation and infiltration of pro-Palestine Arab groups legally resident in the United States (although it could never be acknowledged), but certain types of spying will simply not be accepted by the United States, whether the spying is carried out by Israel or anyone else.


            If England or France spied on the United States, and this was discovered, American officials would likely conceal it. In the case of Israel, there are far stronger reasons to hide any unseemly violations of the “special” relationship. The powerful pro-Israel political constituencies in Congress; pro-Israel lobbies; the Bush administration’s strong support for Israel, and its strategic and political interest in maintaining close ties with the Jewish state as a partner in the “war against terror”; the devastating consequences for U.S.-Israeli relations if it was suspected that Israeli agents might have known about the Sept. 11 attack — all these factors explain why the U.S. government might publicly downplay any public accusation of Israeli espionage against the United States and forcefully conceal any investigation that might be expected to produce results unacceptable to the Israel lobby and the American Jewish community that firmly supports it.

            The pro-Israel lobby is an enormous and very powerful force in American politics; the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is the No. 1 foreign-policy lobby in Washington and the fourth most powerful lobby in Washington, according to Fortune Magazine. Other powerful and influential pro-Israel groups include the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).


            Michael Lind, a senior fellow of the New America Foundation and a former executive editor of the National Interest, calls the Israel lobby “an ethnic donor machine” that “distorts U.S. foreign policy” in the Middle East. Among foreign service officers, law enforcement and the military, there is an impression, says Lind, that you can’t mess with Israel without suffering direct and indirect smears, such as being labeled an Arabist. Lind, who himself has been virulently attacked as an anti-Semite for his forthrightness on the subject, acknowledges that the Israel lobby is no different from any other — just more effective. “This is what all lobbies do,” Lind observes. “If you criticize the AARP, you hate old people and you want them to starve to death. The Israel lobby is just one part of the lobby problem.”


After an explosion in the town of Rishon Letzion  in May of 2002 killed two people and the bomber, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said, “The innocent Israelis murdered today underscore the need to stand with Israel as they eliminate the terrorist networks.”                                                                                                    


DeLay’s strong response was one of many expressions of support coming from congressional members, who repeatedly remind voters of the strong U.S.-Israel alliance dating back to Israel’s 1948 foundation.


But widespread congressional support is rooted in more than just a long-term relationship. It is traced to the power of the collective Jewish or pro-Israeli lobby, a well organized, well funded, extremely active, and extraordinarily connected group, according to political analysts.


“They are very savvy and sophisticated,” said Richard Semiatin, a political science professor at American University. “They are extremely knowledgeable and some of the best lobbyists in the country when they get into congressional offices.”


Indeed, the latest crisis in the Middle East, which has been punctuated by Palestinian uprisings that resulted in dozens of homicide bombings and the subsequent ongoing occupation of disputed Palestinian territory, has only energized this Washington lobby. The group has been hosting near-daily organizational conferences, press events, op-eds, advertising campaigns, and rallies — all demanding that Arafat get control of his militant supporters and reform his corrupt Parliament.


“It’s a little like the special forces teams who go in to fight in Afghanistan. They’re on the ground, calling in bombers. The planes overhead are the pro-Israeli supporters across the country,” who donate money to campaigns and send letters to Washington, said former Clinton political adviser Dick Morris. “It’s a very effective model and basically unequaled in the Congress.”


“The key to AIPAC’s success is support for the only Western democracy in the Middle East,” said Josh Block, spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which boasts over 65,000 Jewish and non-Jewish members. “The members support and believe that Israel is our ally on the frontline against terrorism in the Middle East. When you are lobbying on an issue that is so clearly the right thing to do, your effectiveness is high.”


Granted, other groups, including the National Rifle Association, the Cuban American National Foundation and the American Trial Lawyers Association, all command large audiences and ready support in the aggressive environment of Washington.


But AIPAC, along with the American Jewish Committee, the American Defense League, the United Jewish Communities, the National Jewish Democratic Council, and the Republican Jewish Coalition, all of whom conduct their own grassroots campaigns, have surpassed the partisan and political bickering that often marks policy on guns, Cuba and tort law.


AIPAC also engaged in active espionage against the United States as withes this official DoJ press release:


U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Virginia

Paul J. McNulty
2100 Jamieson Avenue
United States Attorney
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

August 4, 2005


            Paul McNulty, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced that Lawrence Anthony Franklin, age 58, of Kearneysville, WV; Steven J. Rosen, age 63, of Silver Spring, MD; and Keith Weissman, age 53, of Bethesda, MD, were indicted today by a federal grand jury sitting in Alexandria with Conspiracy to Communicate National Defense Information to Persons Not Entitled to Receive It. The indictment alleges that beginning in April of 1999, Rosen, the Director of Foreign Policy Issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, D.C., and Weissman, the Senior Middle East Analyst in the Foreign Policy Issues Department at AIPAC, in an effort to influence persons within and outside the United States government, would use their contacts within the United States government, including Franklin, with whom they first met in February 2003, to gather sensitive United States government information, including classified information relating to the national defense, for subsequent unlawful communication, delivery and transmission to persons not entitled to receive it, including members of the media and foreign government officials.

Franklin was also charged with three counts of Communication of National Defense Information to Persons Not Entitled to Receive It. In one of those counts, Rosen was charged with aiding and abetting him in the unlawful disclosure.


Finally, Franklin was charged with conspiring with persons known and unknown to the grand jury to communicate classified information to an agent or representative of a foreign government. It is alleged that Franklin would use his position as a desk officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense to gather information, classified as affecting the security of the United States, for subsequent unlawful communication to a foreign official.


Mr. McNulty stated: “When it comes to classified information, there is a clear line in the law. Today’s charges are about crossing that line. Those entrusted with safeguarding our nation’s secrets must remain faithful to that trust. Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be.”

This case was investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin DiGregory and Neil Hammerstrom, and Thomas Reilly, Trial Attorney, the Counterespionage Section of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice.


U.S. congressional leaders like DeLay, former House Majority Leader until his felony indictment, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., delivered rousing speeches to AIPAC’s annual conference, the most powerful lobbying force for the Jewish-American community. DeLay’s speech was followed by instructions to blanket Capitol Hill with lobbying teams.


“These groups have taken advantage of the political system to organize themselves to petition the government and they have a reputation of success not only because of their influence but because our presidents have seen their cause in the public interest,” said John Samples, a political analyst with the Cato Institute. “It gives you the notion that there is a broad coalition of people who see it as part of the national interest to support Israel very strongly.”


“They do have a tremendous amount of clout, but I think it starts with the fact that there is an enormous amount of support for their point of view in Washington,” said political analyst Rich Galen, who edits Mullings.com. “They are feeding into a willing audience.”


But not everyone is buying into the hype.


“It is truly disturbing to see American elected officials falling over themselves in an unseemly attempt to ‘pledge allegiance’ to a foreign government and its domestic lobby,” complained the Council on American-Islamic Relations in a recent statement.

“There are Jewish people who are opposed to Israeli policies, but they don’t get a hearing in the Congress. The pro-Israel lobby gets all the attention,” said Faiz Rehmanen, communications director for the American Muslim Council in Washington.

“As an American, I see it as a problem. [Members of Congress] aren’t addressing our interests, they are addressing the interests of a critical lobby,” he added.


            Indeed, the number of Jews in the United States Congress well surpasses the population as a whole. Seven percent of members are Jewish, while the Jewish-American population totals 2.2 percent, about 6 million people in a nation of 280 million.


But Jewish-Americans accounted for 4 percent of total voter turnout in the 2000 elections, totaled close to 3 percent of swing voters in several key states and their fund-raising ability is nearly unmatched, say experts.


“It’s a big fund-raising community filled with people who are willing to give large sums of money to political parties and candidates,” said Michael Barone, author of The New Americans. “It’s money, but it is also skill, it’s the strength of their arguments.”


            In 2001, AIPAC spent $1.1 million in lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, which Block said is typical. None of that money went directly to political campaigns. Neither does AIPAC endorse candidates.


             According to the Center for Responsive Politics, pro-Israeli donors, including PACs and individuals, gave $28.6 million to Democrats and $12.7 million to Republicans. About $17.5 million came from PACs and $24 million from individuals.

By comparison, Arab-American and Muslim PAC contributions totaled $296,830 since 1990, with Democrats receiving $206,908 of that money.


            “The Jewish lobby is extremely influential in Washington,” said Steven Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. “If you are a candidate and you get the pro-Israel label from AIPAC, the money will start coming in from contributors all over the country.” “When you have a core constituency that is so passionate about what they believe in, they are likely to open their pocketbooks,” surmised Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.


             Considering the volatility of the issue, it is not surprising that almost no one in officialdom wants to go on the record for a story like the art students. “In government circles,” as Insight’s Rodriguez put it, “anything that has to do with Israel is always a hot topic, a third rail — deadly. No one wants to touch it.” Intelligence officers say that to publicly air suspicions of Israeli wrongdoing was tantamount to “career suicide.” And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in one of its bloodiest and most polarizing phases, has only exacerbated sensitivities.


            Some of the same pressures that keep government officials from criticizing Israel may also explain why the media has failed to pursue the art student enigma. Media outlets that run stories even mildly critical of Israel often find themselves targeted by organized campaigns, including form-letter e-mails, the cancellation of subscriptions, and denunciations of the organization and its reporters and editors as anti-Semites.


            U.S. investigators now believe that once again they have uncovered a “significant number” of Israelis and Israeli informants extensively engaged in domestic espionage against the U.S. Of even greater concern is the strong belief that many of these Israeli spies in the United States in all probability had specific foreknowledge of the September 11 attack on American buildings and people in Washington and New York City.


            Immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks, more than 60 Israelis were arrested or detained, either under the new Patriot Anti-Terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military personnel were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities directed against the United States.


            There is some specific proof that the Israelis had penetrated Arab groups directly involved in the September 11 attacks, and American investigators now very strongly suspect that the Israelis gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance and not shared it with “their best ally and friend, the United States government.”


            It is absolutely certain that the Mossad, Israeli foreign intelligence, had penetrated a number of Arab terrorist organizations, both in Europe and the United States. A highly placed American investigator said there are “tie-ins” between Arab extremist groups and Israeli intelligence. This information is also known to intelligence agencies in both Germany and France. When the Federal spokesman was asked for details, he flatly refused to respond, stating; “evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is highly classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It is considered classified information.”


            Given the logistics of the attack; the number of alleged participants involved, the at least twenty months of planning and the extensive networking of the terrorists in both Europe and North America, it is beyond belief that the highly proficient Mossad could not have uncovered significant information concerning the nature and time of the coordinated attack.


            American officials have stated in documents that are highly classified and greatly restricted as to distribution, that it is strongly believed that the only benefactor of these devastating attacks on American property was the state of Israel.


            Under the direction of Israeli Prime Minister Arial Sharon, the Israeli military forces, the IDF, were engaged in punitive actions against Arab civilians that horrified the rest of the world and brought against his government, strong and persistent criticism from all members of the European Union.


            There was growing unhappiness in the United States as well and it now appears that the government of Israel believed that a brutal attack by persons identified with Arab extremist movements against American targets would so inflame American public opinion as to excuse further and even more brutal IDF actions against the Palestinians.


            It has been the expressed view of Israeli extremists, led by Sharon, that a “Greater Israel” based on the ancient state of Judea must be instituted and that all non-Jews, to include Arabs and Christians, should either be permanently expelled from this territory or physically destroyed.


            In the event, it transpired that the American government decided against supporting such acts of destruction. This reluctance on the part of an American Administration that was determinedly pro-Israel, was the recognition that the Arab world controlled the majority of the world’s supply of oil. As the United States has to import about half of its oil requirements, any disruption of the oil flow from Arab countries was to be strongly avoided.


            Between August 26 to September 11, 2001, a group of speculators, identified by the American Securities and Exchange Commission as Israeli citizens, sold “short” a list of 38 stocks that could reasonably be expected to fall in value as a result of the pending attacks. These speculators operated out of the Toronto, Canada and Frankfurt, Germany, stock exchanges and their profits were specifically stated to be “in the millions of dollars.”


            One group of Israeli agents, uncovered in North Carolina, is suspected of maintaining an apartment in California to spy on a group of Arabs whom the United States counterintelligence was also investigating for links to terrorism.


            Numerous classified documents indicate that even prior to Sept. 11, as many as 140 other Israelis had been detained or arrested in a massive investigation into suspected, and in a significant number of cases, proven, espionage by Israelis in the United States.


            Investigators from numerous government agencies are part of a clandestine but official effort to resolve the market manipulations There has been a great deal of talk about insider trading of American stocks by certain Israeli groups both in Canada and Germany between August 26 and the Sept.11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


            Government investigators remain tight-lipped about a Department of Justice (DOJ) probe of possible profiteering by terrorists with advance knowledge of the attack.


            On Sept. 6, 2001, the Thursday before the tragedy, 2,075 put options were made on United Airlines and on Sept. 10, the day before the attacks, 2,282 put options were recorded for American Airlines. Given the prices at the time, this could have yielded speculators between $2 million and $4 million in profit.


            The matter still is under investigation and none of the government investigating bodies -including the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and DOJ -are speaking to reporters about insider trading. Even so, suspicion of insider trading to profit from the Sept. 11 attacks is not limited to U.S. regulators. Investigations were initiated in a number of places including Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Spain. As in the United States, all are treating these inquiries as if they were state secrets.


            Lynne Howard, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), stated that information about who made the trades was available immediately. “We would have been aware of any unusual activity right away. It would have been triggered by any unusual volume. There is an automated system called ‘blue sheeting,’ or the CBOE Market Surveillance System, that everyone in the business knows about. It provides information on the trades – the name and even the Social Security number on an account – and these surveillance systems are set up specifically to look into insider trading. The system would look at the volume, and then a real person would take over and review it, going back in time and looking at other unusual activity.”


            Howard continued, “The system is so smart that even if there is a news event that triggers a market event it can go back in time, and even the parameters can be changed depending on what is being looked at. It’s a very clever system and it is instantaneous. Even with the system, though, we have very experienced and savvy staff in our market-regulations area who are always looking for things that might be unusual. They’re trained to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Even if it’s offshore, it might take a little longer, but all offshore accounts have to go through U.S. member firms – members of the CBOE – and it is easily and quickly identifiable who made the trades. The member firm who made the trades has to have identifiable information about the client under the ‘Know Your Customer’ regulations (and we share all information with the Securities and Exchange Commission.)”


            Given all of this, at a minimum the CBOE and government regulators who are conducting the secret investigations have known for some time who made the options puts on a total of 38 stocks that might reasonably be anticipated to have a sharp drop in value because of an attack similar to the 9/11 episode. The silence from the investigating camps could mean several things: Either terrorists are responsible for the puts on the listed stocks or others besides terrorists had foreknowledge of the attack and used this knowledge to reap a nice financial harvest from the tragedy.


            Adam Hamilton of Zeal LLC, a North Dakota-based private consulting company that publishes research on markets worldwide, stated that “I heard that $22 million in profits was made on these put options…”


            Federal investigators are continuing to be so closed-mouthed about these stock trades, and it is clear that a much wider net has been cast, apparently looking for bigger international fish involved in dubious financial activity relating to the 9/11 attacks on the world stock markets.


            Just a month after the attacks the SEC sent out a list of 38 stocks to various securities firms around the world looking for information. The list includes stocks of American, United, Continental, Northwest, Southwest and US Airways airlines, as well as Boeing, Lockheed


            Martin, the American International Group, AIG, Cigna, CAN Financial, John Hancock, MetLife, General Motors, Raytheon, W.R. Grace, Lone Star


            Technologies, American Express, the Bank of New York, Bank One, Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns

It has been clearly established that during the term of President George H.W. Bush, (once head of the CIA and very friendly towards Israel) the Israeli Mossad, or foreign intelligence agency, had gained permission to send approximately 50 of their agents to the United States in order to “observe possible Arab terrorist groups” that might be operating in the relative safety of that country. These Mossad agents worked through the various Israeli diplomatic establishments as well as the Israeli Trade Commission office in New York and such Jewish organizations as the Anti Defamation League.


            These agents, who were known to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were supposed to merely observe possible Arab terrorist groups and were required to pass on any information they discovered on suspect Arab individuals and groups to the FBI. Highly confidential reports indicate that the Mossad agents did not do so and further, were strongly suspected of using their Presidential mandate to carry out very extensive espionage against the United States.


            Top secret military hardware was a well-known target and Mossad agents had a very large stable of informants in various sensitive military and governmental agencies, the great bulk of whom were Jewish and who gladly supplied information to the Mossad as what they conceived was their “sacred duty” to the state of Israel.


            The document concludes: “Israel possesses the resources and technical capability to achieve its collection objectives.”


            A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington issued a routine denial saying that any suggestion that Israelis are spying in or on the U.S. is “simply not true.”


            Following the September 11 attacks there were approximately 60 Israelis who had been detained in connection with the Sept. 11 terrorism investigation. U.S. investigators now strongly suspect that some of these Israelis had infiltrated and were spying on Arabs in this country, and probably turned up information on the planned terrorist attacks in September of 2001 that was not passed on to American authorities.


            A very important issue concerns an Israeli-based private communications company, for whom a half-dozen of the 60 detained suspects worked. American investigators fear information generated by this firm may have fallen into the wrong hands and had the effect of impeded the Sept. 11 terror inquiry.


            American terrorist investigators fear certain suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks may have managed to stay ahead of them, by knowing who and when investigators are calling on the telephone. This is accomplished by obtaining and analyzing data that is generated every time someone in the U.S. makes a telephone call.


            Here is how the system works. Most directory assistance calls, and virtually all call records and billing inside the U.S. are done for the telephone companies by Amdocs Ltd., an Israeli-based private telecommunications company.


            Amdocs has contracts with the 25 biggest telephone companies in America, and even more worldwide. The White House and other secure government phone lines are protected, but it is virtually impossible for any American to make a call on any American phone without generating an Amdocs record of it.


            In recent years, the FBI and other government agencies have investigated Amdocs more than once. The firm has repeatedly and adamantly denied any security breaches or wrongdoing. In 1999, the super secret National Security Agency, headquartered in Ft. George Meade in northern Maryland, issued what is called a Top Secret Sensitive Compartmentalized Information report, TS/SCI, warning that records of calls in the United States were getting into foreign hands – in Israel, in particular.


            Investigators do not believe such calls are being listened to, but the data about who is calling whom and when is extremely valuable in itself. An internal Amdocs memo to senior company executives suggests just how Amdocs generated call records could be used. “Widespread data mining techniques and algorithms…combining both the properties of the customer (e.g., credit rating) and properties of the specific ‘behavior….’” Specific behavior, such as who the targeted customers are calling.


            The Amdocs memo says the system should be public ally advertised as “helping to prevent telephone fraud.” However, U.S. counterintelligence analysts say it could, and unquestionably was, also be used to spy via the records of the American telephone system. The N.S.A has held numerous classified conferences to warn the F.B.I. and C.I.A. how Amdocs records could be used.    


            At one classified NSA briefing, a diagram by the Argonne National Laboratory was used to show that if phone records are not completely secure, major security breaches are more than possible.


            Another NSA briefing document said, “It has become increasingly apparent that systems and networks are vulnerable…Such crimes always involve unauthorized persons, or persons who exceed their authorization…citing on exploitable vulnerabilities.”


            Those vulnerabilities are growing, because according to another briefing, the U.S. relies too much on foreign companies like Amdocs for high-tech equipment and software. “Many factors have led to increased dependence on code developed overseas…. We buy rather than train or develop solutions.”


            U.S. intelligence does not officially believe the Israeli government is involved in a misuse of information, and Amdocs insists that its data is secure. What U.S. government officials are worried about, however, is the possibility that Amdocs data could get into the wrong hands, particularly organized crime. And that would not be the first time that such a thing has happened. 


            In a 1997 drug trafficking case in Los Angeles, telephone information, specifically of the type that Amdocs collects, was used to “completely compromise the communications of the FBI, the Secret Service, the DEA and the LAPD.”


            There has been considerable but very quiet concern about the 60 Israelis who were detained in the anti-terror investigation, and the suspicion that some investigators have that they may have picked up information on the 9/11 attacks ahead of time and not passed it on.


            There exists a classified Justice Department report stating that the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, did indeed send representatives to the U.S. to warn, just before 9/11, that a major terrorist attack was imminent. How does that leave room for the lack of a warning?


            What investigators have stated is that that warning from the Mossad was nonspecific and extremely vague and general, and they believe that it may have had something to do with the Israeli desire to protect what are called “sources and methods” in the intelligence community while at the same time attempting to convince American authorities that they were being cooperative and friendly. There is very substantive and documented evidence that those sources and methods were, and still are, taking place in the United States.


            The question arose in the Select Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, chaired by former CIA agent and subsequently DCI, Porter Goss. Concern was expressed concerning this Mossad spying issue but nothing came of this and the matter was very quickly, and quietly, shelved


            An official listing of known Mossad agents and a much larger one listing Mossad informants in the United States is perhaps the best indicator of the degree and extent that this official Israeli organ has penetrated American security, business and military organizations. Its publication would certainly create terrible havoc and would very adversely impact on American/Israeli diplomatic and military relations.


            Reports indicate that such established agencies as the Anti Defamation League, several identified national newspapers and one major television network also harbor and assist a significant number of active Mossad agents engaged in espionage activities.


            The concern about telephone security extends to another company, founded in Israel that provides the technology used by the U.S. government for electronic eavesdropping. The company is Comverse Infosys, a subsidiary of an Israeli-run private telecommunications firm, with offices throughout the U.S. It provides wiretapping equipment for law enforcement. Investigative reports also indicate that these offices have been and are being used as bases for intelligence operations directed against the United States via the Mossad agents working in this country.


            Here is the method that foreign wiretapping works in the U.S.


            Every time a call is made in America, it passes through the nation’s elaborate network of switchers and routers run by the phone companies. Custom computers and software, made by companies like Comverse, are tied into that network to intercept, record and store the wiretapped calls, and at the same time transmit them to investigators.


            The manufacturers have continuing access to the computers so they can service them and keep them free of technical errors. This process was authorized by the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA. Senior government officials have reluctantly acknowledged that while CALEA made officially authorized, and unauthorized, wiretapping much easier for Federal authorities, it has led to a system that is seriously vulnerable to compromise, and may have undermined the whole wiretapping system.


            Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller were both warned on October 18, 2001 in a hand-delivered letter from 15 local, state and federal law enforcement officials, who complained that “law enforcement’s current electronic surveillance capabilities are less effective today than they were at the time CALEA was enacted.”


            Congress insists the equipment it permits to be installed is secure. But the complaint about this system is that the wiretap computer programs made by Comverse have, in effect, a back door through which wiretaps themselves can be intercepted by unauthorized parties.


            In this case, the unauthorized parties is the Israeli Mossad and through them, the government and commercial interests of Israel itself.


            Adding to the suspicions is the fact that in Israel, Comverse works closely with the Israeli government, and under special programs and gets reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its research and development costs by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. But investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all privately stated that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying through Comverse is considered career suicide because of the enormous political and political power wielded by the Israeli lobby, the extremely pro-Israeli American television and print media and many Jewish financial organizations in the United States.


            And sources say that while various F.B.I. inquiries into Comverse have been conducted over the years, they have been halted before the actual equipment has ever been thoroughly tested for leaks. A 1999 F.C.C. document indicates several government agencies expressed deep concerns that too many unauthorized non-law enforcement personnel can access the wiretap system. The FBI’s own small office in Chantilly, Virginia that actually oversees the CALEA wiretapping program, is among the most agitated about the Israeli ongoing threat.


            It is the FBI’s office in Quantico, Virginia, that has jurisdiction over awarding contracts and buying intercept equipment. And for years, they have awarded the majority of the business to Comverse. A handful of former U.S. law enforcement officials involved in awarding Comverse lucrative U.S. government contracts over the years now work for the Israeli-based company.


            Numerous sources say some of those individuals were asked to leave government service under what knowledgeable sources call “troublesome circumstances” that still remain under administrative review within the Justice Department.


            And what troubles investigators the most, particularly in New York City, in the counter terrorism investigation of the World Trade Center attack, is that in a number of cases, suspects they had sought to wiretap and survey immediately changed their telecommunications processes. This began as soon as those supposedly secret wiretaps went into place


            There are growing and very serious concerns in a very significant number of top-level American intelligence and counterintelligence. Many of these agencies have begun compiling evidence, and instigating a very highly classified investigation, into the very strong probability that the Israeli government is directly involved in this matter and has been from the outset. 


            Speaking confidentially, top U.S. intelligence agencies indicate that “the last thing needed is another Pollard scandal.”


            Following the 9/11 attacks, Federal officials have arrested or detained nearly 200 Israeli citizens suspected of belonging to an “organized intelligence-gathering operation.” The Bush administration has deported most of those arrested after Sept. 11, although some are in custody under the new anti-terrorism law. Some of these detainees are being investigated for their possible penetration of known Arab terrorist groups located in the United States, Canada and Europe and through this, having gained specific knowledge of the time and location of the September 11 attacks.


            It has been established that an Israeli firm generated billing data that could be used for intelligence purpose, and a recent Justice Department report describes concerns that the federal government’s own wiretapping system may be vulnerable.


            In Los Angeles, in 1997, a major local, state and federal drug investigation suddenly collapsed. The suspects: Israeli organized crime organizations, composed mostly of Russian Jews, with ongoing operations in New York, Miami, Las Vegas, Canada, Israel and Egypt.


            The allegations: cocaine and ecstasy trafficking, and sophisticated white-collar credit card and computer fraud. . A DEA report under date of December 18 stated that there existed serious security breaches in DEA telecommunications by unauthorized “foreign nationals” — and cites an Israeli-owned firm with which the DEA contracted for wiretap equipment .


            The problem: according to classified law enforcement documents, is that the Israeli-based gangsters had the Federal and State law enforcement beepers, cell phones, even home phones under constant surveillance. Some identified Israeli gangsters who did get caught, readily admitted to having hundreds of confidential law enforcement telephone and beeper numbers and had been using them to avoid arrest.


            An official LAPD intelligence report states:


            “This compromised law enforcement communications between LAPD detectives and other assigned law enforcement officers working various aspects of the case. The Israeli-based criminal organization discovered communications between organized crime intelligence division detectives, the FBI and the Secret Service.”


            Shock spread from the DEA to the FBI in Washington, and then the CIA. An investigation of the problem, according to law enforcement documents, concluded, “The (criminal) organization has apparent extensive access to database systems used to identify pertinent personal and biographical information.”


            When investigators tried to find out where the information might have come from, they looked at Amdocs, a publicly traded firm based in Israel. Amdocs generates billing data for virtually every call in America, and they do credit checks. The company denies any leaks, but investigators still fear that the firm’s data is getting into the wrong hands.


            When investigators checked their own wiretapping system for leaks, they grew concerned about potential vulnerabilities in the computers that intercept, record and store the wiretapped calls. A main contractor is Comverse Infosys, which works closely with the Israeli government, and under a special grant program, is reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its research and development costs by Israel’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.


            Asked about another sprawling investigation and the detention of 60 Israeli since Sept. 11, the Bush administration treated the questions with frightened circumspection.


            Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary said:


            I would just refer you to the Department of Justice with that. I’m not familiar with the report.


            Colin Powell, former Secretary of State said:


            I’m aware that some Israeli citizens have been detained. With respect to why they’re being detained and the other aspects of your question – whether it’s because they’re in intelligence services, or what they were doing – I will defer to the Department of Justice and the FBI to answer that.


            Beyond the 60 apprehended or detained, (and many deported), since Sept. 11, another group of 140 Israeli individuals were arrested and detained following the attacks in New York and Washington in what government documents describe as “an organized intelligence gathering operation,” designed to “penetrate government facilities.” Most of those individuals said they had served in the Israeli military forces, which is compulsory in Israel.


            But the majority of them also had intelligence expertise, and either worked for Amdocs or other companies in Israel that specialize in wiretapping.


            The Israeli embassy officially denied the charges of an Israeli espionage ring operating in and against the United States. “We are saying what we’ve been saying for months,” spokesman Mark Reguev stated officially:. “No American official or intelligence agency has complained to us about this. The story is nonsense. Israel does not spy on the United States.” These denials are viewed by official Washington as being in the same category as the alleged “discovery” of Palestinian documents highly detrimental to their cause.


            The general attitude of American officials is that Israel is not truthful and is highly manipulative but may not under any circumstances be challenged because of the immense political power developed in Washington by the pro-Israel lobby, a lobby that is heavily subsidized by pro-Israel businesses and individuals in the United States.


            When this matter surfaced there was genuine pandemonium at the FBI, the DEA and the INS. All of these problems have been well known to Federal investigators and what they say is presently happening is that supervisors and management are now going back and reviewing much of the information previously obtained, because there is tremendous pressure from the top levels of all of those agencies to find out exactly what is going on.


            Further, Israeli officials have expressed considerable concern about disclosure of their activities in the United States, fearing that a full disclosure of this would “greatly enhance a strong, anti-Semitic attitude now prevalent in a large percentage of the American population as a direct result of strong Israeli countermeasures in Arab Palestinian areas.”


            At the DEA and the FBI a variety of administration reviews are currently under way, in addition to the investigation of the Israeli espionage. These agencies wish to discover how it is that any knowledge of this extensive Israeli espionage was allowed to come to public notice. At the same time, these agencies at the same time practice extraordinary caution because of the explosive nature, and political ramifications of the story itself.


            In spite of this official caution, nevertheless a significant number of very important documents concerning Israeli espionage against the United States have been, and are being, circulated in closed circles of highly concerned American officials, legislators and civic leaders.


            A definitive study prepared by the CIA for the National Security Council contains a number of very informative sections, several of which will be quoted here.


            “…Israeli intelligence organs have proven to be less than cooperative with their U.S. counterparts in the matter of their agents’ surveillance of Arab groups resident in the United States. An agreement whereby the Israeli Mossad was to keep…these agencies informed of their findings had proven to be observed more in the breach than the performance.” “Extraordinary difficulties in keeping these (Israeli) agents under control means that their penetration of many levels of security-related areas has mostly gone completely unchecked.” “…the Pollard case is an excellent case in point. Great pressure for his release has been made by the Israeli government, who appear to be completely unrepentant about Pollard’s extensive espionage. The matter of a pardon for Pollard has been repeatedly and vigorously brought forward by Israeli diplomats as well as the very powerful and all-pervasive Israel lobby groups.” “…and the stated determination of the Sharon regime to drive the Arab population out of Palestine renders effective American bargaining power to an absolute minimum.”



            t is certainly true that various agencies knew for some time that suspected terrorists were operating in the United States.


            As early as 1995, it was known within police and military circles and reported in VFW and American Legion publications that some 5,000 former Iraqi prisoners of war had been allowed in this country by the Clinton Administration beginning in 1993.


            Most had worked with the CIA at one time or another and were allowed in this country to avoid death at the hands of a vengeful Saddam Hussein. Many of these men had been with the Iraqi Republican Guard, which blew up the Kuwaiti oil fields at the end of the Gulf War, so they obviously were trained in explosives. They were "resettled" in various US cities and where they formed cells.


            These cities included New York City, Boston, Washington, D. C., Miami, New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City and more. These men participated in fundraising activities for the HAMAS and Hezballah terrorist chains. They have been connected to Osama bin Laden through a Cebu City connection in the Philippines.


            These same trained soldiers reportedly created a number of clandestine laboratories to produce biological warfare germs, including anthrax, bubonic plague, various hemorrhagic fevers and other deadly combinations.


Twenty-First-Century Energy Wars

Global Conflicts Are Increasingly Fueled by the Desire for Oil and Natural Gas – and the Funds They Generate


July 9, 2014

by Michael T. Klare,



Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine, the East and South China Seas: wherever you look, the world is aflame with new or intensifying conflicts.  At first glance, these upheavals appear to be independent events, driven by their own unique and idiosyncratic circumstances.  But look more closely and they share several key characteristics – notably, a witch’s brew of ethnic, religious, and national antagonisms that have been stirred to the boiling point by a fixation on energy.


In each of these conflicts, the fighting is driven in large part by the eruption of long-standing historic antagonisms among neighboring (often intermingled) tribes, sects, and peoples.  In Iraq and Syria, it is a clash among Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Turkmen, and others; in Nigeria, among Muslims, Christians, and assorted tribal groupings; in South Sudan, between the Dinka and Nuer; in Ukraine, between Ukrainian loyalists and Russian-speakers aligned with Moscow; in the East and South China Sea, among the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, and others.  It would be easy to attribute all this to age-old hatreds, as suggested by many analysts; but while such hostilities do help drive these conflicts, they are fueled by a most modern impulse as well: the desire to control valuable oil and natural gas assets.  Make no mistake about it, these are twenty-first-century energy wars.


            It should surprise no one that energy plays such a significant role in these conflicts.  Oil and gas are, after all, the world’s most important and valuable commodities and constitute a major source of income for the governments and corporations that control their production and distribution.  Indeed, the governments of Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, South Sudan, and Syria derive the great bulk of their revenues from oil sales, while the major energy firms (many state-owned) exercise immense power in these and the other countries involved.  Whoever controls these states, or the oil- and gas-producing areas within them, also controls the collection and allocation of crucial revenues.  Despite the patina of historical enmities, many of these conflicts, then, are really struggles for control over the principal source of national income.


Moreover, we live in an energy-centric world where control over oil and gas resources (and their means of delivery) translates into geopolitical clout for some and economic vulnerability for others.  Because so many countries are dependent on energy imports, nations with surpluses to export – including Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, and South Sudan – often exercise disproportionate influence on the world stage.  What happens in these countries sometimes matters as much to the rest of us as to the people living in them, and so the risk of external involvement in their conflicts – whether in the form of direct intervention, arms transfers, the sending in of military advisers, or economic assistance – is greater than almost anywhere else.


The struggle over energy resources has been a conspicuous factor in many recent conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, the Gulf War of 1990-1991, and the Sudanese Civil War of 1983-2005.  On first glance, the fossil-fuel factor in the most recent outbreaks of tension and fighting may seem less evident.  But look more closely and you’ll see that each of these conflicts is, at heart, an energy war.


Iraq, Syria, and ISIS


The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Sunni extremist group that controls large chunks of western Syria and northern Iraq, is a well-armed militia intent on creating an Islamic caliphate in the areas it controls.  In some respects, it is a fanatical, sectarian religious organization, seeking to reproduce the pure, uncorrupted piety of the early Islamic era.  At the same time, it is engaged in a conventional nation-building project, seeking to create a fully functioning state with all its attributes.


As the United States learned to its dismay in Iraq and Afghanistan, nation-building is expensive: institutions must be created and financed, armies recruited and paid, weapons and fuel procured, and infrastructure maintained.  Without oil (or some other lucrative source of income), ISIS could never hope to accomplish its ambitious goals.  However, as it now occupies key oil-producing areas of Syria and oil-refining facilities in Iraq, it is in a unique position to do so.  Oil, then, is absolutely essential to the organization’s grand strategy.


Syria was never a major oil producer, but its prewar production of some 400,000 barrels per day did provide the regime of Bashar al-Assad with a major source of income.  Now, most of the country’s oil fields are under the control of rebel groups, including ISIS, the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, and local Kurdish militias.  Although production from the fields has dropped significantly, enough is being extracted and sold through various clandestine channels to provide the rebels with income and operating funds.  “Syria is an oil country and has resources, but in the past they were all stolen by the regime,” said Abu Nizar, an anti-government activist.  “Now they are being stolen by those who are profiting from the revolution.”


At first, many rebel groups were involved in these extractive activities, but since January, when it assumed control of Raqqa, the capital of the province of that name, ISIS has been the dominant player in the oil fields.  In addition, it has seized fields in neighboring Deir al-Zour Province along the Iraq border.  Indeed, many of the U.S.-supplied weapons it acquired from the fleeing Iraqi army after its recent drive into Mosul and other northern Iraqi cities have been moved into Deir al-Zour to help in the organization’s campaign to take full control of the region.  In Iraq, ISIS is fighting to gain control over Iraq’s largest refinery at Baiji in the central part of the country.


It appears that ISIS sells oil from the fields it controls to shadowy middlemen who in turn arrange for its transport – mostly by tanker trucks – to buyers in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.  These sales are said to provide the organization with the funds needed to pay its troops and acquire its vast stockpiles of arms and ammunition.  Many observers also claim that ISIS is selling oil to the Assad regime in return for immunity from government air strikes of the sort being launched against other rebel groups.  “Many locals in Raqqa accuse ISIS of collaborating with the Syrian regime,” a Kurdish journalist, Sirwan Kajjo, reported in early June.  “Locals say that while other rebel groups in Raqqa have been under attack by regime air strikes on a regular basis, ISIS headquarters have not once been attacked.”


However the present fighting in northern Iraq plays out, it is obvious that there, too, oil is a central factor.  ISIS seeks both to deny petroleum supplies and oil revenue to the Baghdad government and to bolster its own coffers, enhancing its capacity for nation-building and further military advances.  At the same time, the Kurds and various Sunni tribes – some allied with ISIS – want control over oil fields located in the areas under their control and a greater share of the nation’s oil wealth.


Ukraine, the Crimea, and Russia


The present crisis in Ukraine began in November 2013 when President Viktor Yanukovych repudiated an agreement for closer economic and political ties with the European Union (EU), opting instead for closer ties with Russia.  That act touched off fierce anti-government protests in Kiev and eventually led to Yanukovych’s flight from the capital.  With Moscow’s principal ally pushed from the scene and pro-EU forces in control of the capital, Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to seize control of the Crimea and foment a separatist drive in eastern Ukraine.  For both sides, the resulting struggle has been about political legitimacy and national identity – but as in other recent conflicts, it has also been about energy.


Ukraine is not itself a significant energy producer.  It is, however, a major transit route for the delivery of Russian natural gas to Europe.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Europe obtained 30% of its gas from Russia in 2013 – most of it from the state-controlled gas giant Gazprom – and approximately half of this was transported by pipelines crossing Ukraine.  As a result, that country plays a critical role in the complex energy relationship between Europe and Russia, one that has proved incredibly lucrative for the shadowy elites and oligarchs who control the flow of gas, whille at the same time provoking intense controversy. Disputes over the price Ukraine pays for its own imports of Russian gas twice provoked a cutoff in deliveries by Gazprom, leading to diminished supplies in Europe as well.


Given this background, it is not surprising that a key objective of the “association agreement” between the EU and Ukraine that was repudiated by Yanukovych (and has now been signed by the new Ukrainian government) calls for the extension of EU energy rules to Ukraine’s energy system – essentially eliminating the cozy deals between Ukrainian elites and Gazprom.  By entering into the agreement, EU officials claim, Ukraine will begin “a process of approximating its energy legislation to the EU norms and standards, thus facilitating internal market reforms.”


Russian leaders have many reasons to despise the association agreement.  For one thing, it will move Ukraine, a country on its border, into a closer political and economic embrace with the West.  Of special concern, however, are the provisions about energy, given Russia’s economic reliance on gas sales to Europe – not to mention the threat they pose to the personal fortunes of well-connected Russian elites.  In late 2013 Yanukovych came under immense pressure from Vladimir Putin to turn his back on the EU and agree instead to an economic union with Russia and Belarus, an arrangement that would have protected the privileged status of elites in both countries.  However, by moving in this direction, Yanukovych put a bright spotlight on the crony politics that had long plagued Ukraine’s energy system, thereby triggering protests in Kiev’s Independence Square (the Maidan) – that led to his downfall.


Once the protests began, a cascade of events led to the current standoff, with the Crimea in Russian hands, large parts of the east under the control of pro-Russian separatists, and the rump western areas moving ever closer to the EU.  In this ongoing struggle, identity politics has come to play a prominent role, with leaders on all sides appealing to national and ethnic loyalties.  Energy, nevertheless, remains a major factor in the equation.  Gazprom has repeatedly raised the price it charges Ukraine for its imports of natural gas, and on June 16th cut off its supply entirely, claiming non-payment for past deliveries.  A day later, an explosion damaged one of the main pipelines carrying Russian gas to Ukraine – an event still being investigated.  Negotiations over the gas price remain a major issue in the ongoing negotiations between Ukraine’s newly elected president, Petro Poroshenko, and Vladimir Putin.


Energy also played a key role in Russia’s determination to take the Crimea by military means.  By annexing that region, Russia virtually doubled the offshore territory it controls in the Black Sea, which is thought to house billions of barrels of oil and vast reserves of natural gas.  Prior to the crisis, several Western oil firms, including ExxonMobil, were negotiating with Ukraine for access to those reserves.  Now, they will be negotiating with Moscow.  “It’s a big deal,” said Carol Saivetz, a Eurasian expert at MIT.  “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia.”


Nigeria and South Sudan


The conflicts in South Sudan and Nigeria are distinctive in many respects, yet both share a key common factor: widespread anger and distrust towards government officials who have become wealthy, corrupt, and autocratic thanks to access to abundant oil revenues.


In Nigeria, the insurgent group Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow the existing political system and establish a puritanical, Muslim-ruled state.  Although most Nigerians decry the group’s violent methods (including the kidnapping of hundreds of teenage girls from a state-run school), it has drawn strength from disgust in the poverty-stricken northern part of the country with the corruption-riddled central government in distant Abuja, the capital.


Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, pumping out some 2.5 million barrels per day.  With oil selling at around $100 per barrel, this represents a potentially staggering source of wealth for the nation, even after the private companies involved in the day-to-day extractive operations take their share.  Were these revenues – estimated in the tens of billions of dollars per year – used to spur development and improve the lot of the population, Nigeria could be a great beacon of hope for Africa.  Instead, much of the money disappears into the pockets (and foreign bank accounts) of Nigeria’s well-connected elites.


In February, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, told a parliamentary investigating committee that the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had failed to transfer some $20 billion in proceeds from oil sales to the national treasury, as required by law.  It had all evidently been diverted to private accounts.  “A substantial amount of money has gone,” he told the New York Times.  “I wasn’t just talking about numbers.  I showed it was a scam.”


For many Nigerians – a majority of whom subsist on less than $2 per day – the corruption in Abuja, when combined with the wanton brutality of the government’s security forces, is a source of abiding anger and resentment, generating recruits for insurgent groups like Boko Haram and winning them begrudging admiration.  “They know well the frustration that would drive someone to take up arms against the state,” said National Geographic reporter James Verini of people he interviewed in battle-scarred areas of northern Nigeria.  At this stage, the government has displayed zero capacity to overcome the insurgency, while its ineptitude and heavy-handed military tactics have only further alienated ordinary Nigerians.


The conflict in South Sudan has different roots, but shares a common link to energy.  Indeed, the very formation of South Sudan is a product of oil politics.  A civil war in Sudan that lasted from 1955 to 1972 only ended when the Muslim-dominated government in the north agreed to grant more autonomy to the peoples of the southern part of the country, largely practitioners of traditional African religions or Christianity.  However, when oil was discovered in the south, the rulers of northern Sudan repudiated many of their earlier promises and sought to gain control over the oil fields, sparking a second civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2005.  An estimated two million people lost their lives in this round of fighting.  In the end, the south was granted full autonomy and the right to vote on secession.  Following a January 2011 referendum in which 98.8% of southerners voted to secede, the country became independent on that July 9th.


The new state had barely been established, however, when conflict with the north over its oil resumed.  While South Sudan has a plethora of oil, the only pipeline allowing the country to export its energy stretches across North Sudan to the Red Sea.  This ensured that the south would be dependent on the north for the major source of government revenues.  Furious at the loss of the fields, the northerners charged excessively high rates for transporting the oil, precipitating a cutoff in oil deliveries by the south and sporadic violence along the two countries’ still-disputed border.  Finally, in August 2012, the two sides agreed to a formula for sharing the wealth and the flow of oil resumed. Fighting has, however, continued in certain border areas controlled by the north but populated by groups linked to the south.


With the flow of oil income assured, the leader of South Sudan, President Salva Kiir, sought to consolidate his control over the country and all those oil revenues.  Claiming an imminent coup attempt by his rivals, led by Vice President Riek Machar, he disbanded his multiethnic government on July 24, 2013, and began arresting allies of Machar.  The resulting power struggle quickly turned into an ethnic civil war, with the kin of President Kiir, a Dinka, battling members of the Nuer group, of which Machar is a member.  Despite several attempts to negotiate a cease-fire, fighting has been under way since December, with thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes.


As in Syria and Iraq, much of the fighting in South Sudan has centered around the vital oil fields, with both sides determined to control them and collect the revenues they generate.  As of March, while still under government control, the Paloch field in Upper Nile State was producing some 150,000 barrels a day, worth about $15 million to the government and participating oil companies.  The rebel forces, led by former Vice President Machar, are trying to seize those fields to deny this revenue to the government.  “The presence of forces loyal to Salva Kiir in Paloch, to buy more arms to kill our people… is not acceptable to us,” Machar said in April.  “We want to take control of the oil field.  It’s our oil.”  As of now, the field remains in government hands, with rebel forces reportedly making gains in the vicinity.


The South China Sea


In both the East China and South China seas, China and its neighbors claim assorted atolls and islands that sit astride vast undersea oil and gas reserves.  The waters of both have been the site of recurring naval clashes over the past few years, with the South China Sea recently grabbing the spotlight. 


An energy-rich offshoot of the western Pacific, that sea, long a focus of contention, is rimmed by China, Vietnam, the island of Borneo, and the Philippine Islands.  Tensions peaked in May when the Chinese deployed their largest deepwater drilling rig, the HD-981, in waters claimed by Vietnam.  Once in the drilling area, about 120 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam, the Chinese surrounded the HD-981 with a large flotilla of navy and coast guard ships.  When Vietnamese coast guard vessels attempted to penetrate this defensive ring in an effort to drive off the rig, they were rammed by Chinese ships and pummeled by water cannon.  No lives have yet been lost in these encounters, but anti-Chinese rioting in Vietnam in response to the sea-borne encroachment left several dead and the clashes at sea are expected to continue for several months until the Chinese move the rig to another (possibly equally contested) location.


The riots and clashes sparked by the deployment of HD-981 have been driven in large part by nationalism and resentment over past humiliations.  The Chinese, insisting that various tiny islands in the South China Sea were once ruled by their country, still seek to overcome the territorial losses and humiliations they suffered at the hands the Western powers and Imperial Japan.  The Vietnamese, long accustomed to Chinese invasions, seek to protect what they view as their sovereign territory.  For common citizens in both countries, demonstrating resolve in the dispute is a matter of national pride.


But to view the Chinese drive in the South China Sea as a simple matter of nationalistic impulses would be a mistake.  The owner of HD-981, the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), has conducted extensive seismic testing in the disputed area and evidently believes there is a large reservoir of energy there.  “The South China Sea is estimated to have 23 billion tons to 30 billion tons of oil and 16 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, accounting for one-third of China’s total oil and gas resources,” the Chinese news agency Xinhua noted.  Moreover, China announced in June that it was deploying a second drilling rig to the contested waters of the South China Sea, this time at the mouth of the Gulf of Tonkin.


As the world’s biggest consumer of energy, China is desperate to acquire fresh fossil fuel supplies wherever it can.  Although its leaders are prepared to make increasingly large purchases of African, Russian, and Middle Eastern oil and gas to satisfy the nation’s growing energy requirements, they not surprisingly prefer to develop and exploit domestic supplies.  For them, the South China Sea is not a “foreign” source of energy but a Chinese one, and they appear determined to use whatever means necessary to secure it.  Because other countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, also seek to exploit these oil and gas reserves, further clashes, at increasing levels of violence, seem almost inevitable.


No End to Fighting


As these conflicts and others like them suggest, fighting for control over key energy assets or the distribution of oil revenues is a critical factor in most contemporary warfare.  While ethnic and religious divisions may provide the political and ideological fuel for these battles, it is the potential for mammoth oil profits that keeps the struggles alive.  Without the promise of such resources, many of these conflicts would eventually die out for lack of funds to buy arms and pay troops.  So long as the oil keeps flowing, however, the belligerents have both the means and incentive to keep fighting.


In a fossil-fuel world, control over oil and gas reserves is an essential component of national power.  “Oil fuels more than automobiles and airplanes,” Robert Ebel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told a State Department audience in 2002.  “Oil fuels military power, national treasuries, and international politics.”  Far more than an ordinary trade commodity, “it is a determinant of well being, of national security, and international power for those who possess this vital resource, and the converse for those who do not.”


If anything, that’s even truer today, and as energy wars expand, the truth of this will only become more evident.  Someday, perhaps, the development of renewable sources of energy may invalidate this dictum.  But in our present world, if you see a conflict developing, look for the energy.  It’ll be there somewhere on this fossil-fueled planet of ours.


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