Archive for Iraq

Israeli drones said to operate over Iraq, Afghanistan

Posted in Original Research with tags , , , on March 20, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

skylark_lHa’aretz (Israel)
March 19, 2009

Israeli-manufactured unmanned aerial vehicles have been operating in the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan in the service of the United States-led coalition for the last three years.

According to reports in foreign media, the unpiloted aircrafts are products of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Over Iraq, the U.S. Army has been operating Hunter model UAVs that were manufactured in IAI’s Mississippi-based subsidiary Stark Aerospace. The top contractor for the project is the American defense company Northrop Grumman.

Reports say the aircraft have been deployed in various missions with considerable success.

Within the last year, the Canadian air force has also operated Israeli-made Heron UAVs over Afghanistan to assist Canada’s ground forces in combat against the Taliban.

It is not known whether any Israeli UAVs in Iraq and Afghanistan were shot down, yet no reports of such incidents have been received.

Though the UAVs were manufactured in Israel, there are no identifying marks on the aircraft to indicate the country of origin.

The above article can be found at: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072304.html

Israeli drones said to operate over Iraq, Afghanistan

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Bush adviser: Iraq war launched to protect Israel (2004)

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , , , on March 1, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

il_tank_customInter Press Service (IPS)
March 29, 2004

WASHINGTON — Iraq under Saddam Hussein did not pose a threat to the United States but it did to Israel, which is one reason why Washington invaded the Arab country, according to a speech made by a member of a top-level White House intelligence group.

IPS uncovered the remarks by Philip Zelikow, who is now the executive director of the body set up to investigate the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001 — the 9/11 commission — in which he suggests a prime motive for the invasion just over one year ago was to eliminate a threat to Israel, a staunch U.S. ally in the Middle East.

Zelikow’s casting of the attack on Iraq as one launched to protect Israel appears at odds with the public position of President George W. Bush and his administration, which has never overtly drawn the link between its war on the regime of former president Hussein and its concern for Israel’s security.

The administration has instead insisted it launched the war to liberate the Iraqi people, destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to protect the United States.

Zelikow made his statements about “the unstated threat” during his tenure on a highly knowledgeable and well-connected body known as the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), which reports directly to the president.

He served on the board between 2001 and 2003.

“Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 — it’s the threat against Israel,” Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on Sep. 10, 2002, speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of 9/11 and the future of the war on the al-Qaeda terrorist organization.

“And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell,” said Zelikow.

The statements are the first to surface from a source closely linked to the Bush administration acknowledging that the war, which has so far cost the lives of nearly 600 U.S. troops and thousands of Iraqis, was motivated by Washington’s desire to defend the Jewish state.

The administration, which is surrounded by staunch pro-Israel, neo-conservative hawks, is currently fighting an extensive campaign to ward off accusations that it derailed the “war on terrorism” it launched after 9/11 by taking a detour to Iraq, which appears to have posed no direct threat to the United States.

Israel is Washington’s biggest ally in the Middle East, receiving annual direct aid of three to four billion dollars.

Even though members of the 16-person PFIAB come from outside government, they enjoy the confidence of the president and have access to all information related to foreign intelligence that they need to play their vital advisory role.

Known in intelligence circles as “Piffy-ab”, the board is supposed to evaluate the nation’s intelligence agencies and probe any mistakes they make.

The unpaid appointees on the board require a security clearance known as “code word” that is higher than top secret.

The national security adviser to former President George H.W. Bush (1989-93) Brent Scowcroft, currently chairs the board in its work overseeing a number of intelligence bodies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the various military intelligence groups and the Pentagon’s National Reconnaissance Office.

Neither Scowcroft nor Zelikow returned numerous phone calls and email messages from IPS for this story.

Zelikow has long-established ties to the Bush administration.

Before his appointment to PFIAB in October 2001, he was part of the current president’s transition team in January 2001.

In that capacity, Zelikow drafted a memo for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on reorganizing and restructuring the National Security Council (NSC) and prioritizing its work.

Richard A. Clarke, who was counter-terrorism coordinator for Bush’s predecessor President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) also worked for Bush senior, and has recently accused the current administration of not heeding his terrorism warnings, said Zelikow was among those he briefed about the urgent threat from al-Qaeda in December 2000.

Rice herself had served in the NSC during the first Bush administration, and subsequently teamed up with Zelikow on a 1995 book about the unification of Germany.

Zelikow had ties with another senior Bush administration official — Robert Zoellick, the current trade representative. The two wrote three books together, including one in 1998 on the United States and the “Muslim Middle East”.

Aside from his position at the 9/11 commission, Zelikow is now also director of the Miller Centre of Public Affairs and White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia.

His close ties to the administration prompted accusations of a conflict of interest in 2002 from families of victims of the 9/11 attacks, who protested his appointment to the investigative body.

In his university speech, Zelikow, who strongly backed attacking the Iraqi dictator, also explained the threat to Israel by arguing that Baghdad was preparing in 1990-91 to spend huge amounts of “scarce hard currency” to harness “communications against electromagnetic pulse”, a side-effect of a nuclear explosion that could sever radio, electronic and electrical communications.

That was “a perfectly absurd expenditure unless you were going to ride out a nuclear exchange — they (Iraqi officials) were not preparing to ride out a nuclear exchange with us. Those were preparations to ride out a nuclear exchange with the Israelis,” according to Zelikow.

He also suggested that the danger of biological weapons falling into the hands of the anti-Israeli Islamic Resistance Movement, known by its Arabic acronym Hamas, would threaten Israel rather than the United States, and that those weapons could have been developed to the point where they could deter Washington from attacking Hamas.

“Play out those scenarios,” he told his audience, “and I will tell you, people have thought about that, but they are just not talking very much about it”.

“Don’t look at the links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but then ask yourself the question, ‘gee, is Iraq tied to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the people who are carrying out suicide bombings in Israel’? Easy question to answer; the evidence is abundant.”

To date, the possibility of the United States attacking Iraq to protect Israel has been only timidly raised by some intellectuals and writers, with few public acknowledgements from sources close to the administration.

Analysts who reviewed Zelikow’s statements said they are concrete evidence of one factor in the rationale for going to war, which has been hushed up.

“Those of us speaking about it sort of routinely referred to the protection of Israel as a component,” said Phyllis Bennis of the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies. “But this is a very good piece of evidence of that.”

Others say the administration should be blamed for not making known to the public its true intentions and real motives for invading Iraq.

“They (the administration) made a decision to invade Iraq, and then started to search for a policy to justify it. It was a decision in search of a policy and because of the odd way they went about it, people are trying to read something into it,” said Nathan Brown, professor of political science at George Washington University and an expert on the Middle East.

But he downplayed the Israel link. “In terms of securing Israel, it doesn’t make sense to me because the Israelis are probably more concerned about Iran than they were about Iraq in terms of the long-term strategic threat,” he said.

Still, Brown says Zelikow’s words carried weight.

“Certainly his position would allow him to speak with a little bit more expertise about the thinking of the Bush administration, but it doesn’t strike me that he is any more authoritative than Wolfowitz, or Rice or Powell or anybody else. All of them were sort of fishing about for justification for a decision that has already been made,” Brown said.

The above article can be found (subscription only) at: IPS

For more on the “neoconservative” (i.e., Zionist) push for a U.S. war against Iraq, see the excellent BBC documentary “The War Party” HERE

Bush adviser: Iraq war launched to protect Israel (2004)

Ex-Mideast envoy Zinni charges neo-cons pushed Iraq war to benefit Israel

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , on September 14, 2008 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

The Jewish Daily Forward
May 28, 2004The simmering debate over the role of Jewish neoconservatives in drawing America into war in Iraq erupted with new fury this week. One of America’s most respected ex-generals took to the airwaves to charge on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that the war had been fought for Israel’s benefit, just days after a similar charge was leveled on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

The retired general, Anthony Zinni, a past chief of the U.S. Central Command and President Bush’s former Middle East special envoy, told “60 Minutes” on Sunday that the neoconservatives’ role in pushing the war for Israel’s benefit was “the worst-kept secret in Washington.”
Three days earlier, Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, a South Carolina Democrat, rose on the Senate floor to defend a newspaper essay he had written earlier in the month making the same charge. Both men complained that they had been unfairly labeled anti-Semitic for speaking out.

Their comments come just weeks after the United Nations’ special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, called Israel a “poison in the region” and said that American support for Israeli policies was making his job more difficult.

In the face of these mounting criticisms, a leading Jewish Democrat on Capitol Hill, Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, told the Forward that the president’s policies were increasing the danger to Jews across the world.

“We are very worried about the rise of anti-Semitism internationally,” said Lowey in an interview Monday with the Forward. She argued that disdain for the president and his policies has “stirred up” anti-Semitic feelings worldwide. “It’s a real concern for me as a Jewish member of Congress.”

Lowey’s comments drew sharp criticisms from officials at the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress. “That’s absurd,” said the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, when informed of Lowey’s comments. “It’s worse than blaming the victim. It’s blaming someone who stands up for the victim.” David Twersky, the director of international programs at the American Jewish Congress, also objected, telling the Forward: “Without being partisan about it, I am appalled that anyone should attribute the rise of anti-Semitism in the Islamic world, and separately in Western Europe, to George Bush’s policies in the Middle East.”

One Democratic activist, who asked not to be identified, defended Lowey’s comments: “There is certainly a strong stream within the party, and particularly among progressives — and many Jews are progressives — that George Bush’s inability to play well with others and his inability to think diplomatically and multinationally … has increased world hatred of the United States. There are many in the Arab world who believe that America is run by and owned by Jews. So it is not that hard to get from A to B. I tend to think that any independent analyst would tend to say the same thing. So why try to give [Bush] the benefit of the doubt? If he could connect these dots it would modify his behavior and make him think more diplomatically.”

The Bush administration also was portrayed as reckless by Gen. Anthony Zinni during his interview with “60 Minutes,” in which he said it “was the worst-kept secret in Washington” that neo-conservatives had sold Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on a plan to democratize the Middle East. Those remarks drew criticisms from officials at both the National Jewish Democratic Council and the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Just three days before Zinni’s interview was broadcast, Hollings took to the Senate floor to defend his little-noticed claim earlier this month that Bush sent the country to war in order to win Jewish votes and protect Israel, after consulting with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, the former chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. In his May 20 floor speech, Hollings also blasted the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the lobbying powerhouse in Washington known as Aipac.

“You can’t have an Israel policy other than what Aipac gives you around here,” Hollings said. “I have followed them mostly in the main, but I have also resisted signing certain letters from time to time, to give the poor president a chance.”

Hollings said he was motivated by a concern for Israel, which he insisted has been threatened by the turmoil in Iraq. But the South Carolina senator drew sharp criticism from Jewish communal leaders, Jewish political activists from both parties, and Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Senator John Kerry.

Foxman sent Hollings a letter May 14 arguing that the senator’s remarks were “reminiscent of age-old, anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish conspiracy to control and manipulate the government.”

During his floor speech, Hollings spoke angrily about critics who raised such claims. “I won’t apologize,” Hollings declared during a May 20 speech from the Senate floor. “I want them to apologize to me.”

Zinni sounded a similar note in his “60 Minutes” interview, complaining that he was “called anti-Semitic” for writing an article in which he mentioned Bush’s neoconservative advisers.

“I mean, you know, unbelievable that that’s the kind of personal attacks that are run when you criticize a strategy and those who propose it,” Zinni said. “I certainly didn’t criticize who they were. I certainly don’t know what their ethnic religious backgrounds are. And I’m not interested.”

This article can be found at: http://www.forward.com/articles/5719/

Ex-Mideast envoy Zinni charges neo-cons pushed Iraq war to benefit Israel

BBC: Israeli interrogators “in Iraq” (2004)

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , , on June 10, 2007 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

BBC News
July 3, 2004The US officer at the heart of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal says she has evidence that Israelis helped to interrogate Iraqis at another facility.
Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski told the BBC she met an Israeli working as an interrogator at a secret intelligence center in Baghdad.

A BBC reporter says it is the first time a senior US officer has suggested Israelis worked with the coalition.

The Israeli foreign ministry said the reports were completely untrue.

Intelligence access

Gen. Karpinski was in charge of the military police unit that ran Abu Ghraib and other prisons when the abuses were committed. She has been suspended but not charged.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today program she met a man claiming to be Israeli during a visit to an intelligence center with a senior coalition general.

“I saw an individual there that I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet before, and I asked him what did he do there, was he an interpreter — he was clearly from the Middle East,” she said in the interview.

“He said, ‘Well, I do some of the interrogation here. I speak Arabic but I’m not an Arab; I’m from Israel.'”

Until a 1999 ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court, Israeli secret service interrogators were allowed to use “moderate force”.

The US journalist who broke the Abu Ghraib scandal told the program his sources confirm the presence of Israeli intelligence agents in Iraq.

Seymour Hersh said that one of the Israeli aims was to gain access to detained members of the Iraqi secret intelligence unit, who reportedly specialize in Israeli affairs.

‘Convenient scapegoat’

The BBC reporter, Matthew Grant, says that whatever the truth, these allegations could cause anger in the Arab world.

Photographs of naked Iraqi detainees being humiliated and maltreated first started to surface in April, sparking shock and anger across the world.

One soldier has been sentenced and six others are awaiting courts martial for abuses committed at Abu Ghraib jail.

Gen Karpinski has said she was being made a “convenient scapegoat” for abuse ordered by others.
This article can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3863235.stm
BBC: Israeli interrogators “in Iraq” (2004)