Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Global War on Terror

U.S. Special Operations: The New Face of America’s War Machine

The U.S. military industrial complex does not desire large winnable wars, but “low-intensity” conflicts that last as long as possible. That is how the system retains power, maintains profits, and remains relevant.

With the possible U.S. military withdrawal from Syria in the news on a daily basis, the mainstream media has been quick to parrot the DOD’s claim that 2,000 troops, mostly special operations forces, are to be withdrawn from the country.

Although the total number of U.S. special operators deployed to Syria may have approached as many as 5,000, the current headlines have not mentioned that the United States has special operations units deployed not just in Syria, but in a majority of the nations of the world.

Over the past 17 years, the forces at the disposal of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have grown exponentially, more than doubling in size in numbers, with a budget that has also expanded four-fold in that same period of time.

If U.S. SOF troops do pull out of Syria, they will still have a physical presence in over 70 nations on any given day. Although the public has an often vague and incomplete, unofficial explanation of the reasons behind these deployments, the Pentagon seems totally unwilling to explain the national defense rational or legality of these missions to anyone, including the U.S. Congress or the White House.

Not only has SOCOM expanded in numbers, funding and weaponry since 2001 and the advent of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), but has acquired no small amount of political influence as well.

The U.S. special operations forces have become the darling of the military, praised by Congress, the White House, and the Media.

They have willingly adopted a mythos that has been formulated and propagated by Hollywood on many levels. The U.S. public seems to worship this new class of soldier, while having little to no understanding of exactly what they do, nor any concept of how their actions might aid or hinder national security.

An act has even been proposed by one state Representative to afford special income tax breaks to all SOF members.

Amidst all the praise about their prowess and successes on the battlefield, the media purposefully steers clear of reporting on their many failures. Although the U.S. has built the largest force of special operations in the world, this very fact has arguably proven to have only weakened the U.S. military as a whole.

The White House, State Department and Pentagon have increasingly relied on special operations forces to bear the brunt of any and all military operations or covert actions in both acknowledged and secret areas of conflict across the globe. This over-emphasis on special operations as a military solution to all challenges has only weakened traditional, conventional forces.

While most of the public assumes that these new Spartans act to protect U.S. interests and “freedom and democracy” whenever and wherever it is deemed necessary, they have little to no understanding of how the SOF have changed since 2001, nor the increasing military and political influence that they now hold.

Even fewer Americans have stopped to ponder the illegality of much of what this expanding military force is doing on a global scale, not to mention the constitutional implications of a new Praetorian class in its midst that is growing in power and influence. If history teaches us anything, it is that shadowy and unaccountable paramilitary forces do not strengthen societies that embrace democratic or constitutional governments.

The Expansion of SOF and Rise of SOCOM

Since the inception of the “Global War on Terror” shortly following September 11, 2001, U.S. SOF have more than doubled from approximately 33,000 to almost 70,000 today. Today, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has roughly twice the personnel at its disposal, but also four times the budget as it did in 2001. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), comprising perhaps the most elite and specialized of the SOF forces, numbered some 1,800 in 2001.

Although quite secretive in nature, it is surmised by many analysts that JSOC may have grown to the size of SOCOM circa 2001, over the same 18 year period. If realistic, this estimation means that JSOC added its original number of 1,800 men each year, for eighteen years.

What reason was given by the U.S. DOD to justify such an expansion in a traditionally small and highly selective sub-set of conventional military forces? Special operations forces have existed since at least the Second World War.

All major military powers and even smaller nations that have not historically prioritized robust national defense postures have invested in special operations forces to complement conventional military establishments.

Special operations units are useful as a significant force multiplier in any conventional conflict, and are vital in responding to special circumstances such as anti-terrorism, hostage rescue, reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines, sabotage, and kill or capture missions.

Malian special forces listen to instructions from a US Special Forces soldier in Kita, Mali. Alfred de Montesquiou | AP

Malian special forces listen to instructions from a US Special Forces soldier in Kita, Mali. Alfred de Montesquiou | AP

The Pentagon has argued that terrorism has grown, with the number of internationally recognized terrorist organizations roughly doubling from 2001 to today, mostly due to the explosion of both al Qaeda and ISIS. (The creations of USA in Afghanistan and Iraq)

Regardless of the facts that point to the CIA origins of al Qaeda, there is little argument that the organization has grown in concert with U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and Africa.

The same can be said for the origin and spread of ISIS. There is also ample circumstantial evidence to support the theory that the CIA and SOCOM have both, directly and indirectly, supported both of these terrorist organizations in Syria.

Regardless of whether SOCOM is directly or indirectly complicit in aiding the Islamic terrorist organizations it declares it is defending the nation against, there is a clear correlation between the growths of both, and surely SOCOM has benefitted on many levels from this relationship.

The annual declared budget for SOCOM is in the range of $12.3 billion today, up from just $3.1 billion in 2001. There is little doubt that a healthy slice of the annual Overseas Contingency Operations and Support (OCO) budget is consumed by SOCOM, as the organization is the most heavily engaged in operations on foreign soil.

In 2018, U.S. Congress approved $67 billion USD for OCO, and a further $7 billion USD in mandatory appropriations.

It is unclear how much funding SOCOM receives on an annual basis, as the Pentagon has proven to be largely beyond financial questioning or audit by any office of the civilian government. After failing its first audit in decades in 2018, the Pentagon shrugged off the event with humor, and no one seemed to notice.

SOCOM numbers roughly 70,000 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors and has a declared budget of at least $12.3 billion USD. To put these numbers in perspective, SOCOM has more personnel than the entire national militaries of 120 of the 193 UN member states. Only 20 nations (including the U.S.) have a greater total defense budget than that of SOCOM.

A simple cost-benefit analysis would reveal that the U.S. is not making much headway in “winning” the GWOT militarily. The growth of SOCOM has done little to reduce the prevalence of terrorism in the world. It begs the question, is there any correlation at all, or is there another agenda afoot entirely?

Global Reach and Integration

The expansion in numbers and funding of America’s special operations forces is alarming in its own right, but their growing international footprint may be even more alarming. Not only were U.S. SOF deployed to at least 150 nations last year, but they have established professional alliances with national military in a majority of those nations.

Nick Turse has documented and reported on the growing influence of SOCOM over the past few years, with his articles being widely published in major mainstream periodicals as well as online alternative media. He has established many reliable sources within the SOF community. In regular articles posted on Tom’s Dispatch, Nick has documented the growing influence of SOCOM, its expanding power, and it’s establishing of close ties to the special operations forces of nations across the globe.

It seems quite logical that the main area of focus for these forces immediately prior to the declaration of GWOT in 2001 would be in the Middle East; however, since as early as 2014 the United States began refocusing its deployment of special operations personnel to the African continent.

More recently, since the coup in Ukraine and the civil war that erupted as a result, SOCOM has shifted much of its efforts to Europe. Although the DOD and State Department have stated that such deployments are directly connected to terrorist activities in Africa, in Europe the goal is confronting an “increasingly aggressive and assertive” Russia.

In reality, deployments to Africa are largely responsive to an increased Chinese presence on the continent. Not publicly acknowledged until the official publication of the National Defense Strategy of the United States for 2018, the U.S. establishment had already come to view both Russia and China as the major threats to U.S. global hegemony.

In 2006, deployments to Africa accounted for a mere 1% of U.S. special operations foreign deployments.

By the end of 2017 this number had jumped to almost 17%. What could account for such an increase?

Spokesmen for the DOD have sighted the increased threat of Islamic militant groups such as Boko Haram and al Shabaab and their capability to disrupt and weaken local governments; however, SOCOM has not just deployed forces to Somalia, Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cameroon, the traditional territories of operation of Boko Haram and African offshoots of al Qaeda.

U.S. commandos deployed to 33 African countries in 2017. 61% of the nations of Africa hosted a U.S. special operations military presence to some degree. (But it is China reaping the fruit of investing in Africa)

There is little doubt that terrorist groups such as Boko Haram present a destabilizing threat to African governments whom are hanging on by a threat in their efforts to govern in the best of times, yet there is little evidence to support the idea that the U.S. military is in Africa for altruistic purposes.

The U.S. military, just like the French Military, is increasing its activities in Africa to protect their respective financial interests and maintain influence over African nations, and to increasingly confront the growing influence of China in the region.

Between the years 2009 and 2012, Chinese overseas foreign direct investment (OFDI) grew at an annual rate of 20.5%.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion USD in investments in Africa at the 4th Annual Investing in China Forum held in Beijing last September.

The United States has often claimed that Chinese financial practices in Africa are predatory in nature. This is quite ironic coming from the country that has a controlling influence over the IMF and World Bank, two financial entities that have been responsible for indebting most of the developing world for the past half century.

Neither nation is in Africa to help poor Africans, but to enrich themselves.

The African continent is rich in rare earth minerals and metals used in the manufacture of modern electronics, batteries, cell phones and computers. China opened its first and largest overseas military base in Djibouti in August of 2017, located in the strategic Horn of Africa.

It is just a stones throw from Camp Lemonnier, the largest U.S. military base on the continent.

In a similar move, China is seeking to build a military base in Afghanistan, another nation rich in rare earth minerals where the U.S. military has struggled to maintain a viable presence for over 18 years.

China plans to base at least one battalion of troops at a newly constructed facility in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, ostensibly to train Afghan security forces.

Located close to the Wakhan Corridor, the base will help provide security to the One Belt One Road trade corridor through the region, and help solidify growing economic and security ties with the Central Asian nation.

Coupled with the base in Djibouti and a planned PLAN naval base at Gwadar, Pakistan, China is establishing a viable defense infrastructure in the region. This directly undercuts long established U.S. interests in the region.

Wakhan Corridor

The Wakhan Corridor is a strategically important mountain pass, the control of which is of utmost importance to the Chinese government in securing the One Belt One Road logistics network

While SOCOM has maintained a sizeable presence in Afghanistan and Africa to confront a growing Chinese presence in Central Asia and Africa, it has also increased operations in the European theatre as well.

In 2006 only 3% of all SOF units were deployed to nations in Europe. By 2018 that percentage had grown to almost 17%. According to a statement made to Tom’s Dispatch, a spokesman for SOCEUR, Major Michael Weisman stated,

Outside of Russia and Belarus we train with virtually every country in Europe either bilaterally of through various multinational events. The persistent presence of U.S. SOF alongside our allies sends a clear message of U.S. commitment to our allies and the defense of our NATO alliance.”

Since the disastrous failure of Petro Poroshenko’s Anti-terrorism Operation (ATO) to subdue the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine, SOF deployments to nations bordering the Russian Federation have increased notably. As it was detailed in a previous article, SOCOM has established very close ties with Ukrainian special operations forces.

Over the past four years SOCOM has repeatedly deployed forces to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Georgia, and even Finland.

In 2016 alone, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) conducted no less than 37 Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) exercises on the European continent, with 18 such exercises in nations bordering Russia.

Is SOCOM sending a reassuring message to allies, or an ominous message to Russia, the holder of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal? Is it wise defense policy to increasingly surround Russia, and back it into an increasingly tight corner? If Russian political and military leaders have learned one lesson throughout the centuries, it is that the concentration of foreign belligerent military forces on their national borders eventually leads to conflict and invasion.

US Special Forces Map

Not only has SOCOM positioned itself in a majority of the nations across the globe, but increasingly along the borders of the Russian Federation and China

The United States has become deeply entrenched in the conflict in Ukraine, having increased military aid to the ruling regime incrementally from 2014 to the present. After the disastrous Ukrainian Armed Forces winter offensive of 2015, culminating in the encirclement battle of Debaltseve, U.S. military aid kicked into high gear.

Regular rotations of U.S. Army trainers teach UAF troops at the Yavoriv International Peace Keeping and Security Center modern combat skills with an increased emphasis on making the force more NATO interoperable. Ukrainian Special Forces have undergone a clear and striking transformation, and are now nearly indistinguishable from their U.S. and NATO counterparts.

They are now wearing U.S. military issue Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) “multicam” battle dress uniforms and gear, and are increasingly using western manufactured firearm accessories, optics, and night vision equipment.

More notably, the UAF special operations units have adopted a number of small arms and sniper weapons systems that utilize NATO standard ammunition such as the 5.56×45 mm intermediate rifle round and the 7.62×51 mm rifle round. Sniper rifles chambered in .308 Winchester and .338 Lapua have also been adopted in limited numbers.

U.S. Navy SEALs | Crimea

U.S. Navy SEALs conduct exercises with the Bulgarian military in the Black Sea in 2018, a clear message to Russia that the U.S. was prepared to escalate asymmetrical warfare targeting the Crimea

Speaking at a GEOInt (Geospatial Intelligence) annual symposium in 2014, former head of SOCOM, General Joseph Votel opined that “We want to be everywhere, know everything.” Clearly, SOCOM has increasingly pushed for the first part of his stated goal in the intervening years; however, the increased focus and funding of special operations over the past 18 years has left the U.S. military’s conventional forces in a state of atrophy and decline.

The U.S. political establishment and military leadership have come to see SOCOM as the go-to solution provider for just about any scenario where military force is seen as an option. This has increased the reputation and clout of SOCOM, but this has increasingly come at the expense and detriment to more traditional conventional forces that chiefly serve the national interests of deterrence and defense.

Conventional Warfare Atrophy

In a detailed analysis posted late last year, “Why the U.S. Military is Woefully Unprepared for a Major Conventional Conflict”, I outlined the causes and effects of the decline in U.S. conventional warfare capabilities. There is undoubtedly a direct correlation between the reliance upon and exponential growth of U.S. special operations forces, and the decline in conventional force readiness and capability.

This is evident in all service branches and has had a negative effect on the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to carry out future offensive and defensive combat operations against peer adversaries. The U.S. military will have very little hope of achieving decisive military victories in either Russia’s or China’s backyard. Any assertion to the contrary is delusory.

The U.S. military obsession with counterinsurgency and occupation stemming from one U.S. invasion or regime change operation after another, has left a once cutting edge, combined-arms conventional force gutted materially and low in morale. Special operations forces were leveraged in a fight against popular uprisings, Islamic terrorist organizations, and often an alliance between the two.

The overwhelming majority of the growing names on the U.S. enemies list found their genesis as a result of U.S. military adventurism.

These various insurgencies were a direct reaction to heavy-handed U.S. “foreign policy” delivered at the barrel of a gun. The resulting struggles in the so called GWOT depended greatly on an ever expanding pool of special operations forces. SOF were prioritized over other traditional, conventional forces not meant for occupation and not skilled in counterinsurgency.

While the troops at the disposal of SOCOM ballooned to almost 70,000, the U.S. Army has struggled to replace armored vehicles first fielded in the 1960’s, the Navy witnessed the utter deterioration and exhaustion of its carrier air wings, and the Air Force struggled to retain pilots to fly aircraft that fell deeper into a state of disrepair.

Although achieving battlefield successes, the Armed Forces of the United States have yet to decisively win any of the numerous conflicts embarked upon since 2001. The intervening years have revealed the U.S. military of today to be an organization riddled with major material shortcomings and inferiority, while plagued with a leadership lacking sound judgement and brimming with both hubris and an unfounded superiority complex.

This leadership has repeatedly decided to invest in special operations forces that are unable to win wars on their own, at the expense of conventional forces designed solely for that purpose.

Growing Political Power

SOCOM has not restricted its influence to the many battlefields across the globe, or the forging of ties with foreign militaries through training and advisory programs. Just as the CIA has stationed personnel at most U.S. embassies overseas, SOCOM has followed suit.

Special Operations Liaison Officers (SOLO) are stationed at a growing number of embassies, including the NATO member countries the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Italy, Turkey and Canada. SOLOS can also be found in U.S. embassies in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, Israel, Jordan, and Kenya. SOCOM’s former head, General Joseph Votel, had announced the intention of putting a SOLO is at least forty U.S. embassies around the globe by 2019.

This statement should be viewed with some skepticism, as SOCOM rarely speaks publicly about the extent of their operations and planning, so it is likely that SOLOs are already serving in many more U.S. embassies, especially those located in flash points or trouble spots in Africa, the Middle East, South America, and nations bordering the Russian Federation and China.

Not only should this development be worrying to host nations who may not be inclined to look at a foreign military presence on their soil as acceptable, but it also clearly exhibits closer ties between SOCOM and the Department of State.

Not only has SOCOM fostered closer ties with the Department of State, but with the monolithic U.S. security apparatus as a whole.

In an attempt to “be everywhere and know everything”, SOCOM has moved further away from its subordinate position in the Department of Defense, and pursued a more independent and unaccountable path, similar to that of the CIA or NSA, two organizations that it has increasingly worked closely with. SOCOM has even forged close ties with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose prevue is supposed to be limited to U.S. domestic crime investigations and the enforcement of federal laws.

There should be some apprehension at both the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress, of the growing power of this new military within the military. In a constitutional republic that clearly delineates, compartmentalizes, and limits government power, the growth of a largely unaccountable, secretive and influential new military organization should be viewed as a threat to the very foundations of political and social order.

A number of former special operations members have run for political office in recent years and won. While electing retired soldiers into Congress and gubernatorial office will most likely bring a level of restraint to government military adventurism, with those individuals having seen and paid the price for war, there is also a chance that they will steer policy to aid the military industrial complex. The cautionary tale of Governor Eric Greitens is one such example that also signals another problem effecting the special operations community as a whole.

Scandals Tarnish the Mythology

A number of scandals involving U.S. special operations soldiers have hit the headlines in recent years, corresponding with the exponential growth of the force. In an attempt to expand the SOF, the Pentagon seems to have lowered physical, cognitive and moral standards in order to fill the ranks.

The Hollywood-Pentagon alliance that has worked tirelessly to create and perpetuate the image of the invincibility of the Navy Seals, presenting them as modern day Spartans or Praetorians, has run into a minor set-back in recent years. The criminal conduct of the elite of the elite has recently tarnished a once proud and silent fraternity of soldiers.

On June 4, 2017 an Army Special Forces NCO was murdered by two Navy SEALs and two Marines “Raiders” in Mali. The original story put forward was that the soldiers accidentally killed their compatriot in an attempt to scare him into silence. The Green Beret, Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar, had uncovered gross criminal conduct by Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews and Petty Officer Anthony DeDolph.

The two SEALs had been embezzling money meant to pay off local informants, and had also been bringing local prostitutes back to the small unit’s “secret” safe house . Staff Sergeant Melgar was ambushed in the safe house, beaten and choked to death. It took military investigators roughly a year and a half to finally charge all four perpetrators with felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, hazing and burglary.

The investigation found that the men killed Staff Sergeant Melgar while engaged in an act of burglary; however, it is not known if they were attempting to steal back or destroy evidence that the Army Staff Sergeant had collected against them.

Perhaps no better example of the meteoric rise and fall of a former Navy SEAL exists as a greater cautionary tale than that of disgraced former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

Greitens had ridden the reputation of the SEALs into fame and political office, only to fall victim to his own despicable criminal mind. Greitens never served in combat and was not highly regarded by most rank and file SEAL members with combat experience.

Many such members speaking off the record, regarded him as an overly ambitious ladder climber that intended to ride the SEAL reputation as far as it would take him. It was largely theorized that before accusations of criminal conduct started coming to the fore, that he fully intended to launch a U.S. presidential campaign. Thankfully, investigations revealed gross corruption in his political dealings and his personal life.

Geitens had been listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2013, and made the list of Fortune Magazine’s 50 greatest leaders in 2014. By May 29, 2017 he had resigned from political office in disgrace.

Eric Greitens

A still shot from a gubernatorial commercial promoting Eric Greitens in 2016. Greitens ran on the collective reputation of the SEAL teams, much to the chagrin of many rank and file members

A vocal critic of the new trend in special operations personnel seeking the spotlight and financial gain is Navy SEAL Lieutenant Forrest Crowell, who even wrote his post graduate thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School regarding the issue. While writing a detailed story on Governor Greitens in The New Yorker, Phil Klay summarized Lt. Crowell’s opinion put forward in his thesis:

In it, he argued that the SEALs’ celebrity status had diverted their culture “away from the traditional SEAL Ethos of quiet professionalism to a Market Ethos of commercialization and self-promotion.” Crowell warned that the new approach incentivized “narcissistic and profit-oriented behavior” and undermined healthy civil-military relations by using “the credibility of special operations to push partisan politics. “The people of this nation should be suspicious of SEALs who speak too loudly about themselves,” Crowell wrote.”

Reversing the Trend

Although it remains to be seen whether or not U.S. special operations troops will be withdrawn from Syria or not, it is highly unlikely. The timetable for withdrawal continues to stretch into the future. It is also highly unlikely that SOCOM will reduce its global footprint, slow the tempo of joint military training with foreign military, or request a smaller budget for 2020. Like all U.S. federal government entities, it will promote itself at the expense of all others, and will resist any demands to lessen its power and influence.

President Trump has proven himself either incapable of challenging the military industrial complex, or totally complicit in the aim of that complex to perpetuate endless military conflict. There is very little sign that anyone in either the civilian government or the military leadership of the United States has the integrity or is willing to make the political sacrifice to alter the current course that the U.S. Armed Forces are embarked upon.

The U.S. military has mis-allocated funds and priorities for the past two decades, engaged in misguided and disastrous regime change operations that have cost the nation trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. These military adventures have gutted the armed forces materially and morally.

A generation of Americans have been left scarred physically and mentally. Hundreds of thousands of combatants and civilians in countries across the Middle East and Africa have lost their lives, while millions of refugees have fled the resultant chaos.

By 2019, SOCOM has reached a pinnacle in power and influence within the military industrial complex. It has garnered and fostered an almost mythical status in U.S. society. Yet it has not won and is incapable of winning any conflict that the government of the United States has seen fit to employ it in.

Perhaps that is the very point. Special operations forces deployed across the globe, in almost every country you can imagine can help initiate, maintain and perpetuate conflict as long as the United States stays in a position of relatively unrivaled power in the world.

The U.S. military-industrial complex does not desire large winnable wars, but “low-intensity” conflicts that last as long as possible. That is how the system retains power, maintains profits, and remains relevant.

A strengthened SOCOM, deployed across the planet, establishing relationships with the foreign militaries of most of the world’s nations, and stationed in an ever-growing number of U.S. embassies is a dream come true for the Deep State. There is little chance that SOCOM will reverse its course of expansion and accumulation of power at the expense of U.S. national security anytime in the immediate future. J

ust as the FBI, NSA and CIA have grown in power, influence and unaccountability since their creation, SOCOM seems poised to follow the same model to the detriment of the Republic that it was created to serve.

Top photo | A U.S. operative prepares to load into a C-130J Hercules after the completion of a night mission rehearsal near Grand Bara, Djibouti, Dec. 4, 2018. Amy F. Picard | U.S. Air Force

Written and produced by Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

Involved with the CIA? Rumors, Evidences, and As3ad Abu Khalil  

I think that even actual agents to States’ intelligence services have no access to evidences of other agents until many years of operations.

Relying on facts and evidences to pointing fingers can become a full time investigation process that only deep pocket people and organizations can afford to launch such investigation. Or buy State secrets.

The government itself divulges intelligence secrets for internal power struggle, like uncovering the identity of this field female operative because her husband of a reporter confronted the Bush Jr. administration with nasty lies.

Or this French humorist Dieudonne who admitted to be an Israeli agent since 2002 and was asked by the Mossad to lambaste the Jews and Israeli settlers in order for the Mossad to gather information on the various French “anti-Semite” groups and…

The US troops admitted that it is not the known resistance figures that scare the hell out of them in occupied territories, but rather the unknown fighters who blend in the social fabrics like air and never express thier opinions.

Do you think it makes a difference if you get engaged as an agent to foreign powers for financial, political or ideological reasons?

Is it “good” to be an agent if you think that the regime of your country needs to be changed with a little help from outside?

Hussain  Abdul-Hussain, Washington Bureau Chief of Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai, posted this December 29, 2013

“Angry Arab” As3ad AbuKhalil: Involved with or CIA operative?

New evidence proves old rumors

Note: I attached the Debunking claims at the end of this article for the reader to make his own mind if interested in that personality or the subject matter.

As’ad Abu Khalil has been living in the USA for the last 3 decades, and teaches at universities in California and keeps the blog “Angry Arab”, and publishes articles in the Lebanese dailies Al-Akhbar and Al Safir.

He announced this Feb. 2, 2014 on the channel Al Mayadeen that he appointed the lawyer Nizar Saghieh to track the libels in Lebanon and will hire a female lawyer in the USA.

The debunking article is an excellent read for how people rely on flimsy data base companies.

Hussain  Abdul-Hussain posted in Now:

“As’ad AbuKhalil has worked for the CIA.

That’s not a mischief nor is it something dishonorable; the agency is a huge bureaucracy and it often commissions different tasks from different experts, and AbuKhalil identifies as someone who knows about the Middle East.

Washington is a small town and these types of activities are difficult to conceal.

Yet due to non-disclosure protocols, no one who has seen AbuKhalil at any CIA function can share this information publicly without risk of legal action.

Even so, many in Washington have long seen or heard rumors of AbuKhalil’s attendance at Langley-sponsored events. And AbuKhalil routinely posted about his trips to Washington on his frequently updated blog – but he rarely shared what kind of activity he was engaged in during these trips.

As

So whenever AbuKhalil lobbed accusations against anyone he disagreed with, those familiar with his activities in Washington knew he was a hypocrite.

But only until today was evidence finally uncovered after Syrian activist Ahed al-Hendi, while perusing through public records on the Internet, discovered that AbuKhalil had been paid by the CIA.

Although AbuKhalil’s position as a “host” may not be senior enough or even relevant to the work of the agency, the fact that he has been cleared to work at Langley, has actually done so, and has managed to hide it all these years, tells us something about his character.

AbuKhalil – the staunch anti-imperialist, anti-White Man freedom fighter – quickly realized that this revelation would be a damaging one. He swiftly contacted al-Hendi in an attempt to nip the problem in its bud.

“You are endangering my life with your distortions and lies. You can go to jail for something like that and I will sue you and drag you to court,” AbuKhalil wrote via email. “I will give you till tomorrow otherwise I will notify my lawyer and Facebook […] My lawyer says you have an hour.”

Notice AbuKhalil, who has long insisted that he is the most transparent man on the planet and would post anything that he would get his hands on, makes no effort to explain why public records indicate he was paid by the CIA.

Instead, AbuKhalil sounded scared for his life, perhaps because during the craze of the Global War on Terror, he was consulted on Islamist movements, judging by his book on the subject.

Or perhaps AbuKhalil’s other employers, like pro-Hezbollah Beirut newspaper Al-Akhbar, knew of such links and were happy to see one of them bash their rivals at Langley.

As for what work AbuKhalil did for the CIA, no one can be sure due to non-disclosure protocol and the fear of legal suit. But thanks to al-Hendi, we now have proof that the Lebanese-American professor has worked with the CIA, no matter how small his involvement.

What AbuKhalil did for the CIA is his business.

But what is our business is to show that the man who swears on his honor about his anti-Americanism, and continuously bashes others for being pro-America, clearly has a few skeletons in his closet.

If you are a US citizen, working for the government, including the CIA, is an honorable task.

Indeed, Americans are required to recite the pledge of allegiance, and this entails doing whatever it takes to defend the homeland. But the problem with AbuKhalil is that his apparent insecurity about being an American citizen has led him on frequent anti-American crusades.

Maybe it is the Lebanese political culture that has forced AbuKhalil to perfect his trademark ad hominem attacks that blast people’s characters instead of their ideas.

Perhaps the only way a man of AbuKhalil’s intellect to be heard is to propagate offensive and populist rhetoric while carrying out his punditry gigs.

AbuKhalil’s academic credentials are weak anyways.

The sheer amount of time he must spend away from his professorial duties on blogs, social media, and TV appearances make many wonder whether his scholarly work is even diligent or credible.

For those who meet him, AbuKhalil seems like a humble guy. Yet for someone with his background and position, he should know better.

AbuKhalil should be more respectful when making his points, and he should do them without slandering others.

No one cares whether AbuKhalil actually worked, or still works, for the CIA.

No one cares about his social background or preferences.

No one cares who sends him his paychecks or why.

What many care about is for him to stop his populism and stop spewing unsubstantiated claims about the character and integrity of those he disagrees with.

(Abu Khalil made it a point of attacking the Wahhabi Saudi Arabia monarchy for buying off many media outlet in order to promote its policies)

 

The next post is the “Debunking of the claim that As’ad AbuKhalil worked for the CIA”

Benjamin Doherty submitted to The Electronic Intifada this Dec. 30, 2013:

“Allegations disseminated by the website Now that California State University Stanislaus professor As’ad AbuKhalil worked for the CIA are based on nothing more than information harvested from Internet spam sites and web forums.

AbuKhalil is also the author of the widely-read blog The Angry Arab News Service where he has frequently been harshly critical of both the Syrian regime and opposition.

This post will demonstrate that the information on which basis it is claimed AbuKhalil worked for the CIA lacks any element of credibility or reliability whatsoever.

AbuKhalil has forcefully denied the claims.

The allegation

In a 29 December article in Arabic on the website Now, Ahed al-Hendi, identified as as a “Syrian opposition activist,” alleges that AbuKhalil worked as a “doorman” or “host” for the CIA:

Washington – It is naive to believe that the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has no doorman. More important is that one of the “doormen” at the headquarters of this agency formerly was an “Angry” Arab of California and “resister” As’ad AbuKhalil. This is no silly joke, mere accusation, or secret or classified information, but information provided by American firms that specialize in collating public records about individuals, companies and organizations.

The website LexisNexis is the world’s biggest database of legal documents, public records about individuals and companies, and this information is provided to the public. When searched for As’ad AbuKhalil, the site reveals that he worked during an unspecified period for the Central Intelligence Agency, as a host. The agency’s phone number on the website belongs to the agency’s public affairs office.

This information comes in the context of the website’s presentation of the positions a person held based on his Social Security Number, and it appears that AbuKhalil worked as a professor at the University of California [sic] with the same Social Security Number, which eliminates any doubt about a similarity of names.

Al-Hendi’s article is accompanied by this tightly cropped screenshot purporting to support its allegations:

assad-abo-khali.jpg

Evidence presented by Ahed Al-Hendi in Now.

This is the only part of the article that sets out the “evidence” regarding AbuKhalil. Taking his own claims to be true, al-Hendi engages in speculations about AbuKhalil’s motives and tries to explain AbuKhalil’s alleged position of “host” – which on its face makes little sense. Why would the CIA hire AbuKhalil as a “host” or “doorman?”

Al-Hendi’s claims are laundered in an article by a writer called Hussain Abdul-Hussain, identified as the “Washington Bureau Chief of Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai” in an article on the English version of the Now website, headlined “‘Angry Arab’ or CIA operative?”.

Dissemination

The two Now articles containing these allegations have been quickly and credulously disseminated by numerous journalists concerned with Syria, individuals affiliated with the human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and pro-Israel and pro-Syria-opposition activists. These include:

Yet had any of these individuals enthusiastically disseminating these claims conducted some basic due diligence, they would have discovered that al-Hendi’s “evidence” holds no water and should in fact be treated not just as a “silly joke” but as a sloppy attempt at defamation.

The facts

As noted, the “evidence” produced by Ahed al-Hendi is a screenshot of result 16 and 17 apparently from LexisNexis Public Records, a database product marketed to law enforcement, federal and state government agencies, corporations and media organizations. A disclaimer on the product information page states (emphasis added):

Due to the nature of the origin of public record information, the public records and commercially available data sources used in reports may contain errors. Source data is sometimes reported or entered inaccurately, processed poorly or incorrectly, and is generally not free from defect. This product or service aggregates and reports data, as provided by the public records and commercially available data sources, and is not the source of the data, nor is it a comprehensive compilation of the data. Before relying on any data, it should be independently verified.

There is no indication that al-Hendi made any attempt to independently verify the information he reports.

The disclaimer means that LexisNexis does not produce the data itself, it merely aggregates the data from potentially thousands of sources, “including public, private, regulated and derived data.”

LexisNexis is not the original or sole source for the data they sell through their public records database product, and the data they publish can be found from another source who has licensed or sold it to LexisNexis.

Furthermore, in this context, “public data” does not necessarily indicate government data or official data but any data from any publicly accessible source including web sites and internet search engines.

A LexisNexis sales presentation mentions that the company partners with Zoominfo, a firm that produces data about job histories based on information scraped from web sites.

The Electronic Intifada could not reproduce the search on LexisNexis itself because it did not have access to the specific database product to which al-Hendi apparently refers.

However, searching Google for the exact details about As’ad AbuKhalil contained in the LexisNexis search result shown in the al-Hendi article revealed only one relevant link: to Zoominfo.

While the Zoominfo link is now dead, Internet caches still show the information the page previously contained.

There are no other public sources for the alleged CIA employment history of As’ad AbuKhalil.

asad_abukhalil_central_intelligence_agency_zoominfo.com_.png

A screenshot from a cached search result from Zoominfo identifying As’ad AbuKhalil with an employment history as “host” at the Central Intelligence Agency. This page has been removed from the Zoominfo site.

The details on the Zoominfo page match the LexisNexis data cited by al-Hendi precisely: name, job title, employer name, PO Box and city. Only the ZIP (postal) codes differ between Zoominfo and LexisNexis.

The web references for this information cited by Zoominfo are two dead links:

1. One is “Abdullah the Butcher,” a name apparently referring to a Canadian professional wrestler, on the domain www.summitautocenter.com. It is not clear why a used car dealer near Buffalo, NY should be considered a reliable source about As’ad AbuKhalil’s employment history.

The link itself no longer exists, but Zoominfo maintains a cache of the source, which was generated on 28 January 2008:

Hezbollah’s big challenge (Abdullah The Butcher)

Asia Times – so they can be all swayed (by checkbook?) by King Abdullah. As’ad AbuKhalil, host of the CIA) asset, former Iraqi interim prime minister and “Butcher Continue reading

Egypt Today – Many citizens still haven t bought into the government s line. As butcher Mohamed Abdullah El-Farrargy teases, the best rumor he has heard to date is the one that claims the government will fairly compensate retailers for their losses and buy up Continue reading

Tags: abdullah the butcher   May 24th 2007 Added to Abdullah The Butcher

This block of text is mostly unreadable nonsense and appears to be the mashed up parts of at least two different articles.

2. The other content on the page has no apparent connection to anything related to As’ad Abukhalil or the Canadian professional wrestler “Abdullah the Butcher.”

The quoted text is a chopped up version of a 19 April 2007 Asia Times article by Pepe Escobar that contains this sentence:

As’ad AbuKhalil, host of the Angry Arab website, always stresses that the Lebanese civil war never ended.

Three paragraphs later, Escobar writes:

Officials in Damascus are more than happy to remind anyone that Hariri was also very close to former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset, former Iraqi interim prime minister and “Butcher of Fallujah”, Iyad Allawi, Not to mention that he was the facilitator of a $20 billion arms deal between the Russians and the House of Saud.

These two separate sentences were combined by whatever created the “Abdullah the Butcher” page on www.summitautocenter.com to read as the nonsensical phrase:

As’ad AbuKhalil, host of the CIA) asset, former Iraqi interim prime minister and “Butcher”

This collection of randomly collated keywords forms the substance of Zoominfo’s reference supporting the “fact” that As’ad Abukhalil worked as a “host” for the CIA.

The second Zoominfo reference for the claim is an accurate quote from an unmangled version of the same Pepe Escobar article posted on itszone.co.uk, a web forum site that no longer exists.

As’ad AbuKhalil, host of the Angry Arab website, always stresses that the Lebanese civil war never ended.

Zoominfo thinks the reference was dated 2003, even though the Escobar article was not published until 2007.

It is strange that both references originate from the same Pepe Escobar article but the original Pepe Escobar article itself is not cited as a reference, even though Asia Times should be recognized as a more authoritative source in general compared to user-generated content on an internet forum and search engine spam.

A “CIA” post office box?

Zoominfo and LexisNexis agree on the PO Box number and city but not the ZIP code.

Zoominfo says that As’ad Abukhalil worked for the CIA that used the PO Box 12727 in Arlington, Virginia 22209. LexisNexis data says that As’ad Abukhalil worked for the CIA at the same PO Box and city but in the 22219 ZIP code.

Public records searches for the two addresses reveal that the PO Box in the 22209 ZIP code (the one Zoominfo lists) has been used by the Central Intelligence Agency for employment and recruiting and also for the Undergraduate Scholar Program, a scholarship for graduating high school students who either have a disability or belong to a minority ethnic group.

Zoominfo also lists 3,753 other alleged employees of the CIA, all operating out of this one PO Box, including people with job titles like “honorary vice president,” “certified master chef,” “director of the Global Jihad Unit,” “spymaster,” “head smacker,” “spook,” “007,” and even “ghost.”

According to Zoominfo, the CIA employs or has employed the famed Russian-Canadian professional concert accordionist Alexander Sevastian. He was only one of a number of accordionists allegedly employed by the CIA.

Meanwhile, searching for the address provided in the LexisNexis results posted on Now (with ZIP code 22219, a special ZIP code only used for post office boxes) can reveal that this address is not linked to the Central Intelligence Agency at all but rather:

If the exact address with the ZIP+4 is searched, only one result turns up: Sean Dennehy, a CIA employee, who is not “Chief Technology Officer” (as this link says) but rather the Chief of Intellipedia Development for the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence.

It is not clear if Dennehy holds this position today. Other databases do not list this post office box for Dennehy.

LexisNexis aggregates data from a multitude of sources and attempts to make connections that might be hard to see because their sources have errors and inconsistencies.

Zoominfo is one very likely source of the data published by LexisNexis and quoted by Now, and the only source that I could find in the public record that identifies As’ad Abukhalil as a “host” at the CIA.

When the details of either source are scrutinized at all, it is abundantly clear that these sources cannot be taken at face value. They must, as LexisNexis cautions and Now failed to do, be independently verified.

Zoominfo is widely recognized as riddled with bugs

Zoominfo produces its data by scraping web sites and making connections among data points about who someone is, what companies they work for and when they worked for them.

However, this is a highly inaccurate process, especially when the input is faulty (such as the case with data from “Abdullah the Butcher”).

There are several easy ways to find posts about Zoominfo’s bad data (just search “Zoominfo false scrape” in Google) but one that illustrates the point very well is “Leads, Leads, Leads” by Laura Atkins, the founder of anti-spam consultancy Word to the Wise. In a 2012 post, she writes:

I have to admit, I’m actually surprised at just how totally inaccurate the data about me is. I’m not that hard to find. Zoominfo has 6 listings I can clearly identify as me. In those 6 listings:

  • Not a single listing gets my contact information correct.
  • Not a single listing gets my employer correct.
  • Three of the listings identify me as working for different companies.
  • I’ve never worked for any of those companies.
  • One of the “companies” is a non-profit I volunteer with.
  • One of the companies is a blog written by a colleague.
  • One of those companies is a now defunct magazine that published an interview with me.

But the failure in data collection is not just in the area of collecting personal data. Their corporate information is even worse. Zoominfo has linked me with four companies. In those 4 listings:

  • Zoominfo incorrectly identifies The Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society as headquartered in Virginia.
  • Zoominfo incorrectly identifies Spamtacular as located in California.
  • Zoominfo identifies Context Magazine as a viable company.
  • Zoominfo identifies me as the “founding partner” of a company called Word.

Total strikeout for Zoominfo.

In 2010, a Republican party candidate for US Senate in Delaware, was accused of lying about her educational credentials. The data appeared on LinkedIn and Zoominfo, but on Zoominfo it was marked as “user verified,” meaning that someone claiming to be Christine O’Donnell had entered or approved the information on the site. This led some bloggers to recognize that absolutely anyone could post fraudulent information on Zoominfo by impersonating someone else.

Yousef Munayyer noticed that a Zoominfo search for journalist Glenn Greenwald shows that Greenwald has served as the Governor of Illinois. There has never been any person named Greenwald who served as the Governor of Illinois!

In Australia, allegations of corruption against Supreme Court of Queensland Justice Henry George Fryberg published on the site Haig Report have led to Justice Fryberg being identified on Zoominfo as holding the position of “corrupt parasite” at the Supreme Court of Queensland.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain, author of the English Now article, is identified in Zoominfo as a writer for Jewish Ideas Daily, a web site that has been praised by John Podhoretz, the intemperate editor of far-right Commentary magazine. However, this is false.

Ahed al-Hendi, the author of the Arabic Now article that originally published the false story about As’ad AbuKhalil, is revealed by Zoominfo to work for Cyberdissidents.org, a group whose advisory board includes ardently pro-Israel Canadian member of parliament Irwin Cotler and Jewish Agency for Israel chairman Natan Sharansky. The leaders of Cyberdissidents.org, David Keyes and Nir Boms, have both served in the Israeli army and worked for or advised the Israeli government.

This is one case where Zoominfo turns out to be rather accurate. The Cyberdissidents.org website lists al-Hendi as one of its “Experts.”

Vendetta journalism

After the Now articles were published, people gloated about the irony of an anti-imperialist writer working for the CIA. Even people who likely realized that the evidence was very weak defended the defamation as a kind of justice or revenge for AbuKhalil’s writings and opinions.

Even Hussain Abdul-Hussain, who wrote the English article for Now, appears to acknowledge that the falsehoods he spread are intended to achieve not the dissemination of truth or facts but a kind of lesson for AbuKhalil:

What many care about is for him to stop his populism and stop spewing unsubstantiated claims about the character and integrity of those he disagrees with.

It is hard to understand how so many professionals could have so little respect for truth or accuracy and yet expect AbuKhalil or anyone else to take lessons in ethics from them.

Those same journalists and human rights advocates cannot evaluate the quality of their own evidence and will abandon those same ethics to fulfill a petty, emotional need for revenge against someone with whose views they disagree.

Ali Abunimah assisted with translation.


adonis49

adonis49

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