How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behind ma

Re: How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behin

Postby admin » Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:53 am

Big Data: Have we seen it before?
by Bhavani Thuraisingham
Dallas, TX
March 25, 2013

The Big Data Problem has been around as far as I can remember. Back in the 1990s the Intelligence Community started a program called Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDS) that I was managing for the Intelligence Community when I was at the MITRE Corporation. The MDDS program started in 1993 and ended in 1999. The program funded about 15 research efforts at various universities and the goal was to develop data management technologies to manage several terabytes to petabytes of data. The data management technologies included those for query processing, transaction management, metadata management, storage management, and data integration. The World Wide Web was in its very early stages back in 1994 and therefore web-based data management research was also just beginning. Furthermore, the NSF, DARPA and NASA had just started the digital library initiative. An overview of the MDDS program was presented by the MDDS Team at the Annual Intelligence Community Symposium AIPASG in 1995 and the abstract is attached to this document.

So was the MDDS effort successful? Some say no because the program did not solve the massive data problem. However I say yes as the program did contribute to the understanding of what was involved in handling massive amounts of data and produced solutions for some of the challenges including storage management and indexing as well as query processing. In fact the Google founder Mr. Sergey Brin was partly funded by this program while he was a PhD student at Stanford. He together with his advisor Prof; Jeffrey Ullman and my colleague at MITRE Dr. Chris Clifton developed the Query Flocks System which produced solutions for mining large amounts of data stored in databases. I remember visiting Stanford with Dr. Rick Steinheiser from the Intelligence Community and Mr. Brin would rush in on roller blades, give his presentation and rush out. In fact the last time we met in September 1998, Mr. Brin demonstrated to us his search engine which became Google soon after.

So now twenty years later, we have moved from Massive Data to Big Data and some of those who I worked with back in the 1990s are asking the question “What is the difference?” The challenges remain the same; we have to develop data management and analysis technologies to handle massive amounts of data. However the massiveness has changed. From several terabytes to a few petabytes of data back in the 1990s, we have now moved on to several petabytes to exabytes and even zetabytes of data. Why? Because of the World Wide Web, social media, mobile technologies and developments in the human genome project, as well progress in bioinformatics, geoinformatics, security informatics, and multimedia/video processing, among others. Massive amounts of data about entities and the relationships between them and the evolution of these relationships have to modeled, stored, managed, queried and analyzed. The world population has increased by over 25% in the past 20 years and hundreds of millions of people from all over the world are joining social media. It is expected that by 2020 50 billion devices will be online and that’s only seven years away. Therefore we need to be able to securely and efficiently handle the zetabytes of data without violating the privacy of individuals. This is a daunting task.

So what do we do? First, from my experience twenty years ago, never believe that the Big Data Challenge will be solved. This is because big data will continue to get bigger. Therefore just like we developed solutions twenty years ago for massive data, we need to develop solutions for big data. I am very pleased to see that not only federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Defense and Intelligence organizations are focusing on big data, practically every large company such as Google, Facebook. Microsoft, Oracle and IBM are starting initiatives. We all have to work together to tackle the big data challenge and make the world a better place to live.


TITLE: Intelligence Community Initiative in Massive Digital Data Systems

Authors: Hal Curran (NSA), Robert Kluttz (CMS), Dr. Claudia Pierce (NSA), Dr. Rick Steinheiser (ORD) and Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham (MITRE)

Related Application Area: Integrated and Transparent Access to Multiple Data Sources

Sponsor: Community Management Staff, Office of Research and Development, National Security Agency

Description:· The Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDS) Initiative is developing high-risk high-pay-off management technologies for Intelligence Systems of the future. Future Intelligence Systems must effectively manage massive amounts of digital data (i.e., multi-terabytes or greater). Issues such as scalability, design, and integration need to be addressed to realize a wide spectrum of Intelligence Systems ranging from centralized terabyte and petabyte systems comprising many large objects (e.g., images) to distributed heterogeneous databases that contain many small and large objects (e.g., text). Consequently, Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDSs) are needed to store, retrieve, and manage the complex data for the Intelligence Community (IC). While several advances have been made in data management technologies, the complexity and the size of the database, as well as, the needs of the IC, such as multimedia data management, require the development of novel approaches for querying and updating the massive databases. Therefore, the Community Management Staff (CMS) of the IC has started the MDDS Initiative to identify the challenges for massive database management and to develop approaches to meet the challenges. The ultimate vision is to provide for the seamless access and fusion of massive amounts of data, information, and knowledge in a heterogeneous and real-time environment to carry out the functions of the IC with diminishing resources.

To develop massive digital data systems for the IC, several technologies have to be integrated. These include the following: Data management, Knowledge management, Information management, Information visualization, Mass storage management and Distributed processing. The technical focus of the MDDS Initiative is to develop data management technologies. These include developing techniques for querying, browsing, and filtering; transaction processing; accesses methods and indexing; metadata management and data modeling; and integrating heterogeneous databases; as well as developing appropriate architectures. Approaches to handle massive databases will be a major focus for this Initiative. Note that secure database management, as well as, other technologies, such as information management and visualization, are beyond the scope of this Initiative. The organizational focus of the MDDS Initiative is to provide seed money to develop data management technologies which are of highrisk and high-pay-off. Further development of the technologies produced under the MDDS Initiative for eventual use by the IC and related organizations is expected to be carried out by other agencies such as the line organizations, as well as, industrial organizations.

The MDDS initiative has awarded fifteen research contracts. These contracts are being executed through the line organizations, such as NSA and CIA. Specific topics being addressed by the research include data mining, data warehousing and heterogeneous database integration, real-time transaction processing in a heterogeneous environment, quality of service management in multimedia databases, indexing multimedia data, scalable architectures, and geographic information systems. The MDDS Team is also coordinating the research with other government agencies by conducting technology exchange meetings.

Scope: Approx: 3· 4 million dollars per year for 3 - 4 years

Customer: DOD, IC, and other government organizations

Correction to my article posted on March 25, 2013
by Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham
January 25, 2015

My article dated March 25, 2013 (Big Data: Have we seen it before?) posted on my web site has been used by Dr. Nafeez Ahmed to promote his view that the CIA was behind Google. ... 36451a959e

Dr. Ahmed called me from the UK on January 21, 2015 for about 5-10 minutes to find out more about the MDDS program that I was working on in the 1990s and how it impacted Google. I replied that I did not know about MDDS’ impact on Google as other agencies were also funding Stanford University on massive data technologies (e.g., the digital library effort by NSF) at that time. I explained that efforts like MDDS have provided the foundations for some of the solutions being proposed to big data management today. I was given the impression that Dr. Ahmed was interested in writing about the history of Google and big data technologies. Therefore, I was disappointed and dismayed to read his article dated January 22, 2015 which has twisted my words to put a negative spin on MDDS and Google. Furthermore, Dr. Ahmed has taken pieces of information out of context from different sources and put them together to tell a story that CIA funding was behind Google.

In my article dated March 25, 2013, I made a statement that Mr. Sergey Brin (Google co-founder while at Stanford), Prof. Jeffery Ullman (from Stanford) and Dr. Chris Clifton (then at MITRE) developed the Query Flocks system. This is because at that time I believed that this was the case. However, in Dr. Ahmed’s article posted on January 22, 2015, a Google Director of Communications has stated that Mr. Sergey Brin never worked on Query Flocks. Based on this information, I would like to make a change to my article dated March 25, 2013. Specifically, the second paragraph of my March 25, 2013 article should read as follows:

So was the MDDS effort successful? Some say no because the program did not solve the massive data problem. However I say yes as the program did contribute to the understanding of what was involved in handling massive amounts of data and produced solutions for some of the challenges including storage management and indexing as well as query processing. In fact Prof. Jeffrey Ullman (at Stanford) and my colleague at MITRE Dr. Chris Clifton together with some others developed the Query Flocks System, as part of MDDS, which produced solutions for mining large amounts of data stored in databases. Also, Mr. Sergey Brin, the cofounder of Google, was part of Prof. Ullman’s research group at that time. I remember visiting Stanford with Dr. Rick Steinheiser from the Intelligence Community periodically and Mr. Brin would rush in on roller blades, give his presentation and rush out. During our last visit to Stanford in September 1998, Mr. Brin demonstrated to us his search engine which I believe became Google soon after.

There are also several inaccuracies in Dr. Ahmed’s article (dated January 22, 2015). For example, the MDDS program was not a “sensitive” program as stated by Dr. Ahmed; it was an Unclassified program that funded universities in the US. Furthermore, Sergey Brin never reported to me or to Dr. Rick Steinheiser; he only gave presentations to us during our visits to the Department of Computer Science at Stanford during the 1990s. Also, MDDS never funded Google; it funded Stanford University. I strongly believe that the contribution of Google to society is second to none. Google search is as important a contribution as sea, rail, or air travel. Therefore, whoever funded Google has provided the greatest service to mankind.

My original article dated March 25, 2013 is appended to this Correction.
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Re: How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behin

Postby admin » Sat Dec 01, 2018 1:50 am

Data Mining on Text
by Dr. Chris Clifton
The MITRE Corporation
Bedford, MA 01730-1420 USA
by Dr. Rick Steinheiser


Data mining technology is giving us the ability to extract meaningful patterns from large quantities of structured data. Information retrieval systems have made large quantities of textual data available. Extracting meaningful patterns from this data is difficult. Current tools for mining structured data are inappropriate for free text. We outline problems involved in Knowledge Discovery in Text, and present an architecture for extracting patterns that hold across multiple documents. The capabilities that such a system could provide are illustrated.

Data mining technology has created a new opportunity for exploiting the information in databases. Much of the success has been in support of marketing. Patterns in the data, such as associations among similar items purchases, enables targeting marketing to focus on what customers are likely to purchase.

The Department of Defense has similar needs for knowledge, even if it does not have "customers" or "marketing" in the traditional sense. However, we can see obvious analogies. One view of commercial uses of data mining is to increase sales, however another view is improving service to the customer. Within the DOD, a "customer" may be another organization within the DOD; improving service to this organization is desirable and improves the efficiency of the DOD as a whole. As another analogy, we can view the "customer" as an enemy; in this case "targeted marketing" is literally choosing the targets most likely to end a war with minimal effort/loss of life.

The difficulty with this analogy is that the Department of Defense (as with many large organizations) stores much of its "corporate knowledge" as textual data. Corporate customer databases are generally engineered, and contain structured data that is easily used by data mining tools. Collections of text, however, are not as amenable to data mining. We are working on extending data mining technology to textual data.

The goal of this work is to find patterns that hold across a variety of documents. This is distinct from information retrieval, where the goal is to find a document (or set of documents) containing the desired information. [1] We assume that the knowledge we desire is not contained in a single document, but can only be found through the discovery of patterns holding across many documents. [2] For example, we may find that documents that mention the term yyy are also likely to mention the organization xxx. This pattern (with follow-on investigation of the documents) can lead to knowledge such as "Organization xxx is the strongest proponent of yyy".

1. System Overview

Current data mining solutions are highly optimized for a single pattern specification (or at best a limited set). This ill-suits Knowledge Discovery in Text, as the variability in information in a text bases means we will need flexibility in defining the type of pattern that interests us. We want to see industry develop a base that provides general services for data mining; this will ease the development of flexible KDT systems. We define an architecture (Figure 1) that supports processing of a range of declaratively-specified KDT problems, using such general services.

Figure 1. Text Mining System Architecture

This two-part architecture connects an information retrieval systems to a "generalized data mining" engine. This approach limits the need to develop KDT- specific solutions. In addition, advances in both information retrieval and data mining technology will directly result in improvements in KDT capabilities.

We expect an end user will want the information retrieval and KDT systems to be integrated. The upper half of Figure 1 is based on information retrieval technology. Many of the tools, such as synonym matching and tagging, are already used as part of information retrieval products. As these tools improve in their support of information retrieval, they will also provide additional capabilities for KDT. The Repository may either be virtual (computed "on-the-fly" to support specific KDT requests), or may be precomputed. Some information retrieval systems already incorporate Information Extraction tools and precompute and store a repository that meets many of our requirements.

The lower half of the figure deals with the pattern detection process. Here there are significant differences from existing structured data mining tools. We view pattern generation as answering a specialized query. Existing data mining systems use a specific algorithm to find a specific type of pattern; we believe that text analysis demands greater flexibility. Instead we view the algorithmic issues as a query optimization problem (see [9] for further details). This allows us greater flexibility in the types of analysis performed. This "query optimization" approach is not limited to Knowledge Discovery in Text; such a system would support integration of data warehouses and data mining, thus we expect vendors will support a data mining approach based on query optimization.

The end user of such a system will not want to write complex specifications to define the type of patterns to be searched for. We expect that the user will see a selection of predefined templates. The templates can be used as components to create a pattern specification, giving the user considerable flexibility in defining the desired search. Handling pattern search using a common back-end rather than independent algorithms allows the templates to be combined and modified in ways not supported by current data mining tools.

We are currently developing a prototype / testbed based on this architecture. This makes use of named entity tagging (person, location, organization) to give a limited set of concepts. The prototype will use a fixed weighting rule (presence in title, number of appearances of a concept in a document). We use a relational database for the repository, with a hand-written wrapper to connect the Alembic output to the repository.

This prototype will serve as a testbed, primarily for experimenting with filtering techniques and interest measures. The use of a relational database allows us to use SQL as a filtering mechanism; for certain types of queries (e.g. association rules from the typed weighted market basket model) we can hand-optimize SQL queries to simulate the compiler. This will allow us to determine where future effort should be focused.

Another area needing development is the user interface. We plan to implement a forms-based interface supporting specific types of patterns and rule filtering, integrated with an information retrieval system if possible. This will give us the capability to demonstrate what a KDT system would look like, using live data and obtaining real results.

2. Sample Results

The data is from MITRE's Broadcast News Navigator [5], and consists of concepts extracted from closed-caption text of actual news broadcasts using the Alembic named-entity tagger [1]. The corpus consists of 6612 stories, with 13,737 distinct concepts mentioned. The associations between pairs of concepts (ranked by support: the number of documents containing the pair) are shown in Table 1. All correlations have at least 50% confidence: At least 50% of the stories mentioning one item in a pair also mention the other. Note that the highest support associations are between CNN co-anchors, this shows a problem with support as an interest measure for KDT patterns (we believe a choice of interest measures is the right approach).

Table 1. Pairwise Associations in News Stories

Table 1 points out some issues addressed by the typed weighted market basket model. One is the co-reference problem: note the "association" found between Dole and Bob Dole. (There were 12 such associations with a support of at least 5; we have eliminated all but one for clarity.) Information Extraction tools do address this co-reference problem, however they are not yet as successful as with named entity tagging [8]. Even as information extraction tools improve, we still have a co-reference problem between documents; here the lack of synonym matching leads to false drops (an association would not be recognized because different documents use different terms for the concept). The Gramm/Alexander association shows this: The support should be higher, except that Alexander and Lamar Alexander were treated as different concepts.

A second difference between this model and "plain association rules" is the ability to use tags and varying relevance measures to restrict results to the patterns of interest. If we instead look for specific three-way associations between pairs of people and a location, and rank the results by the correlation strength (ratio of joint probability to independent probabilities), we end up with more focused results. Table 2 shows the results in this case. Note that all the associations show what we are looking for -- conflict in a particular location. Those listed as "Hampshire" (actually the U.S. state of New Hampshire) reflect a election battle, rather than warfare.

Table 2. Correlations between PERSON, PERSON and LOCATION, occurring in the same story having a minimum of 6 co-occurrences.Results ranked by deviation from expected value (top 20 shown).

This association is much closer to our original goal (significant warlords in a region), and is in fact probably all we could expect from such a broad "world news" corpus. Note that this association can be gleaned from Table 1, however the ability to clearly specify what we are looking for weeds out a lot of chaff.

Figure 2 gives an example user interface that would allow such flexibility in specifying the type of associations to search for. Note that this supports a broader notion of "pattern specification" than existing data mining tools (including, for example, capturing sequential associations as well as "normal" associations.)

We see another issue in Table 1: The problem posed by errors in tagging. We can characterize this error, and determine its effect on the patterns found (e.g. potential variability in the significance of results). A related problem, however, is more difficult: erroneous information in the corpus itself. To the extent we can characterize the reliability of the corpus, we can apply the same techniques to determine the effect of corpus reliability on the results.

Figure 2. Interface to request correlations between PERSON, PERSON, and LOCATION

3. Conclusions

A top priority is to increase the density of relevant results. The ability to easily and effectively focus the type of pattern to be returned (e.g., statistically significant associations between two people and a place, rather than simply "associations"), and to apply additional tests (such as excluding known patterns, or working in the context of external knowledge as in [7]), substantially increases the density of relevant results. Current data mining systems (products) use a specific algorithm to find a specific type of pattern. Knowledge Discovery in Text creates a need for greater flexibility. Some of the specific technical challenges we see in extending data mining to Text are:

Finding "low support" patterns. Many of the patterns of interest in text bases are relatively infrequent; this leads to questions of statistical significance of what is found. Once it is established what it means to be significant (which may not exactly match standard statistical meanings of significance), we have the question of how to efficiently find such patterns.

Eliminating "common knowledge". Data mining within the context of a knowledge base (e.g. extended concept hierarchies [7]) can help to eliminate true, but trivial or obvious, patterns.

Identifying causality. One problem with association rules is that associations imply a relationship, but not a causal relationship. Although it is extremely difficult to identify causal relationships, we can identify associations that are likely to be effects, rather than causes, thus weeding out some of the "chaff" [6].

One result of this project has been "query flocks" technology [9] that addresses the flexibility problem by treating data mining algorithmic issues as query optimization problems. In addition to providing the flexibility needed for text mining, this supports integration of data warehouses and data mining. This is a first step, but we feel more is necessary before Knowledge Discovery in Text will become a reality.



* This work is based on discussions held with Dr. Steinheiser while visiting at the MITRE corporation.

1 The term "Text Mining" has been used to refer to information retrieval, for example IBM's Textminer product is actually an information retrieval engine [3].

2 This view was originally expressed in [2], and further agreed on in the ECML'98 Text Mining Workshop [4].


[1] D. Day, J. Aberdeen, L. Hirschman, R. Kozierok, P. Robinson, and M. Vilain. Mixed initiative development of language processing systems. In Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Applied Natural Language Processing, Washington, D.C., Mar. 1997.

[2] R. Feldman and I. Dagan. Knowledge discovery in textual databases (KDT). In Proceedings of the First International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, pages 112-117, Montreal, Canada, Aug. 1995. AAAI.

[3] IBM. Advanced Search Engine: TextMiner. advancedSE.html, 1998.

[4] Y. Kodratoff, editor. Proceedings of the European Conference on Machine Learning Workshop on Text Mining, Chemnitz, Germany, Apr. 1998.

[5] M. Maybury, A. Merlino, and D. Morey. Broadcast news navigation using story segments. In ACM International Multimedia Conference, Seattle, WA, Nov. 1997.

[6] C. Silverstein, S. Brin, R. Motwani, and J. Ullman. Scalable techniques for mining causal structure. In Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Very Large Databases, New York City, USA, Aug. 1998.

[7] L. Singh, P. Scheuermann, and B. Chen. Generating association rules from semi-structured documents using an extended concept hierarchy. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, Las Vegas, Nevada, Nov. 1997.

[8] B. M. Sundheim. Overview of results of the MUC-6 evaluation. In Proceedings of the Sixth Message Understanding Conference (MUC-6), pages 13-31, Columbia, MD, Nov. 1995.

[9] D. Tsur, J. D. Ullman, S. Abiteboul, C. Clifton, R. Motwani, S. Nestorov, and A. Rosenthal. Query flocks: A generalization of association rule mining. In Proceedings of the 1998 ACM SIGMOD Conference on Management of Data, pages 1-12, Seattle, WA, June 1998.
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Re: How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behin

Postby admin » Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:17 am

Stratfor Emails: Google Behind Middle East Regime Change
by Kurt Nimmo
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 8:50 am



Google is a key component of the spook and military establishment. In 2004, the Director of Technology Assessment at In-Q-Tel, Rob Painter, moved from the CIA to become Senior Federal Manager at Google. In-Q-Tel is the CIA’s technology investment firm. In 2006, Robert Steele, a former clandestine services case officer at the agency, told Alex Jones Google and the CIA are joined at the hip. He said the CIA’s contact at Google is Rick Steinheiser of the Office of Research and Development.

The recent Wikileaks Stratfor email dump adds more detail to the picture. Communication between Stratfor and Google reveals a number of players working behind the scenes to topple Arab an Muslim governments and help install “democratic” (read: establishment friendly) regimes in the Middle East. An article posted on the al-Akhbar website names two: Google’s director for security and safety Marty Lev and Jared Cohen, currently the director of Google Ideas, described as a “think/do-tank” designed as a tool for spreading “liberal democracy” as defined by the State Department and its boss, the Council on Foreign Relations.

Cohen is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and is a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and was a close adviser to both Condoleezza Rice and now Hillary Clinton. As one of the principal architects of what became known as “21st century statecraft,” Cohen made the transition from the Bush to the Obama administrations while other neocons were jettisoned.

As noted in the Stratfor emails, Cohen was involved in undermining the Mubarak regime in Egypt and worked closely with the failed effort to topple the government in Iran during its elections in June of 2009.

Cohen was instrumental in creating, a nonprofit spawned during an Alliance of Youth Movements event in 2008 that “brought together digital activists, technology and media leaders, NGOs, and governments to convene, share best practices, and create a network of socially responsible grassroots activists using technology for their movements and campaigns,” explains Wikipedia. A Stratfor email described as a “site created to help online organization of groups and individuals to move democracy in stubborn nations. Funded through public-private partnerships.”

As Ayn Rand noted in 1965, the term “public-private partnerships” is a “linguistic corruption (an ‘anti-concept’) typical of a fascist ideology – an ideology that regards force as the basic element and ultimate arbiter in all human relationships.” Rand considered “public-private partnerships” as emblematic of fascism.

Stratfor’s vice-president of counter-terrorism Fred Burton said “that the US State Department is the organization’s public sponsor.” The State Department partnered with several corporations and served as the main sponsor of the 2008 inaugural Alliance of Youth Movements summit in New York City that subsequently created Hillary Clinton endorsed the organization and presented a video message during the second summit held in Mexico City a year later, Yazan al-Saadi writes for al-Akhbar.

In another email, Burton described how Google does the CIA’s bidding. “GOOGLE is getting WH [White House] and State Dept. support and air cover. In reality, they are doing things the CIA cannot do,” in other words overthrow governments and other dirty business devised by the global elite. Following negative revelations about the CIA in the mid-70s, the agency began farming out work to “democracy” and “humanitarian” front NGOs and organizations in the 1980s.

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” Allen Weinstein, who helped create the National Endowment for Democracy, said in 1991. “NED’s programs are in sync with the basic needs and objectives of the New World Order’s economic globalization, just as the programs have for years been on the same wavelength as US foreign policy,” writes William Blum.

The emails indicate that Google was concerned about the role Cohen played in fomenting unrest in the Middle East, but more likely the corporation seeded with spook money and currently involved in surveillance technology projects with the CIA was more concerned that the flamboyant CFR operative would expose the technology corporation to criticism and a new round of negative public relations disasters.
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Re: How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behin

Postby admin » Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:31 am

The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1% - ex CIA spy: The man who trained more than 66 countries in open source methods calls for re-invention of intelligence to re-engineer Earth
by Nafeez Ahmed
The Guardian
Thu 19 Jun 2014 07.30 EDT First published on Thu 19 Jun 2014 07.30 EDT



Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it’s a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core.

With 18 years experience working across the US intelligence community, followed by 20 more years in commercial intelligence and training, Steele’s exemplary career has spanned almost all areas of both the clandestine world.

Steele started off as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer. After four years on active duty, he joined the CIA for about a decade before co-founding the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, where he was deputy director. Widely recognised as the leader of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) paradigm, Steele went on to write the handbooks on OSINT for NATO, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Forces. In passing, he personally trained 7,500 officers from over 66 countries.

In 1992, despite opposition from the CIA, he obtained Marine Corps permission to organise a landmark international conference on open source intelligence – the paradigm of deriving information to support policy decisions not through secret activities, but from open public sources available to all. The conference was such a success it brought in over 620 attendees from the intelligence world.

But the CIA wasn’t happy, and ensured that Steele was prohibited from running a second conference. The clash prompted him to resign from his position as second-ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, and pursue the open source paradigm elsewhere. He went on to found and head up the Open Source Solutions Network Inc. and later the non-profit Earth Intelligence Network which runs the Public Intelligence Blog.

Former CIA spy and Open Source Intelligence pioneer, Robert David Steele speaking at the Inter-American Defense Board in 2013

I first came across Steele when I discovered his Amazon review of my third book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism. A voracious reader, Steele is the number 1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction across 98 categories. He also reviewed my latest book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, but told me I’d overlooked an important early work – ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.’

Last month, Steele presented a startling paper at the Libtech conference in New York, sponsored by the Internet Society and Reclaim. Drawing on principles set out in his latest book, The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth and Trust, he told the audience that all the major preconditions for revolution – set out in his 1976 graduate thesis – were now present in the United States and Britain.

Steele’s book is a must-read, a powerful yet still pragmatic roadmap to a new civilisational paradigm that simultaneously offers a trenchant, unrelenting critique of the prevailing global order. His interdisciplinary ‘whole systems’ approach dramatically connects up the increasing corruption, inefficiency and unaccountability of the intelligence system and its political and financial masters with escalating inequalities and environmental crises. But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today.

“We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making,” he writes in The Open Source Everything Manifesto. “Power was centralised in the hands of increasingly specialised ‘elites’ and ‘experts’ who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.”

Today’s capitalism, he argues, is inherently predatory and destructive:

“Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditised without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditised by the Industrial Era.”

Open source everything, in this context, offers us the chance to build on what we’ve learned through industrialisation, to learn from our mistakes, and catalyse the re-opening of the commons, in the process breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity for all.

“Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth - all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. This is the ‘utopia’ that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.”

The goal, he concludes, is to reject:

“... concentrated illicitly aggregated and largely phantom wealth in favor of community wealth defined by community knowledge, community sharing of information, and community definition of truth derived in transparency and authenticity, the latter being the ultimate arbiter of shared wealth.”

Despite this unabashedly radical vision, Steele is hugely respected by senior military intelligence experts across the world. As a researcher at the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, he has authored several monographs advocating the need for open source methods to transform the craft of intelligence. He has lectured to the US State Department and Department of Homeland Security as well as National Security Councils in various countries, and his new book has received accolades from senior intelligence officials across multiple countries including France and Turkey.

Yet he remains an outspoken critic of US intelligence practices and what he sees as their integral role in aggravating rather than ameliorating the world’s greatest threats and challenges.

This week, I had the good fortune of being able to touch base with Steele to dig deeper into his recent analysis of the future of US politics in the context of our accelerating environmental challenges. The first thing I asked him was where he sees things going over the next decade, given his holistic take.

“Properly educated people always appreciate holistic approaches to any challenge. This means that they understand both cause and effect, and intertwined complexities,” he said. “A major part of our problem in the public policy arena is the decline in intelligence with integrity among key politicians and staff at the same time that think tanks and universities and non-governmental organisations have also suffered a similar intellectual diminishment.

“My early graduate education was in the 1970’s when Limits to Growth and World Federalism were the rage. Both sought to achieve an over-view of systemic challenges, but both also suffered from the myth of top-down hubris. What was clear in the 1970s, that has been obscured by political and financial treason in the past half-century, is that everything is connected – what we do in the way of paving over wetlands, or in poisoning ground water ‘inadvertently’ because of our reliance on pesticides and fertilisers that are not subject to the integrity of the ‘Precautionary Principle,’ ultimately leads to climate catastrophes that are acts of man, not acts of god.”

He points me to his tremendous collection of reviews of books on climate change, disease, environmental degradation, peak oil, and water scarcity. “I see five major overlapping threats on the immediate horizon,” he continues. “They are all related: the collapse of complex societies, the acceleration of the Earth’s demise with changes that used to take 10,000 years now taking three or less, predatory or shock capitalism and financial crime out of the City of London and Wall Street, and political corruption at scale, to include the west supporting 42 of 44 dictators. We are close to multiple mass catastrophes.”

What about the claim that the US is on the brink of revolution? “Revolution is overthrow – the complete reversal of the status quo ante. We are at the end of centuries of what Lionel Tiger calls ‘The Manufacture of Evil,’ in which merchant banks led by the City of London have conspired with captive governments to concentrate wealth and commoditise everything including humans. What revolution means in practical terms is that balance has been lost and the status quo ante is unsustainable. There are two ‘stops’ on greed to the nth degree: the first is the carrying capacity of Earth, and the second is human sensibility. We are now at a point where both stops are activating.”

-- / Political-Legal / Socio-Economic / Ideo-Cultural / Techno-Demographic / Natural-Geographic

Perception / Isolation of elites; inadequate intelligence / Concentration of wealth; lack of public disclosure / Conflicting myths; inadequate socialization / Acceptance of media distortions; inadequate education / Reliance on single sector or product; concentrated land holdings

Identity / Lack of elite consensus; failure to define priorities / Loss of economic initiative; failure to do balanced growth / Loss of authority; failure to provide and honor national myth system / Failure to accept and exploit new technologies and new groups / Failure to integrate outlying territories into national system

Competence / Weak or inefficient government; too much or too little bureaucracy / Breakdown of fiscal, monetary, development, or welfare policies / Humiliation of leaders; loss of confidence by population / Failure to enforce priorities, with resulting loss of momentum / Failure to prepare for or cope with major national disasters

Investment / Ego-centric or parochial government / Excessive or insufficient mobility; lack of public sector / Cynicism; opportunism, corruption / Failure to nurture entrepreneurship or franchise all groups / Failure to preserve or properly exploit natural resources

Risk / Elite intransigence, repression; failure to adapt / Failure to deal with crime, especially white collar crime / Failure to deal with prejudice; desertion of intellectuals / Failure to develop national research & development program / Failure to honor human rights; failure to protect animal species

Extroversion / Ineffective tension management; failure to examine false premises / Structural differentiation; lack of national transportation network / Elite absorption of foreign mores; failure to deal with alienation / Failure to develop communications infrastructure, shared images / Failure to explore advantages of region integration

Transcendence / Foreign control of government; arbitrary or excessive government / Loss of key sectors to foreign providers; loss of quality control / Media censorship; suppression of intellectual discourse / Failure to control policy, army, or terrorists, failure to employ alphas / Failure to respect natural constraints or support organic growth

Synergy / Failure to assimilate all individual or respond to all groups / Status discrepancies; lack of economic motivators / Absence of sublimating myths; failure of religion / Failure to provide program and technology assessment / Failure to distribute benefits between urban and rural

Complexity / Garrison, industrial, or welfare states / Unstable growth; excessive defense spending / Cultural predisposition toward violence / Excessive urbanization, pollution, or development / Lack of land for expansion; inefficient use of land

Robert Steele - preconditions for revolution

It’s not just the US, he adds. “The preconditions of revolution exist in the UK, and most western countries. The number of active pre-conditions is quite stunning, from elite isolation to concentrated wealth to inadequate socialisation and education, to concentrated land holdings to loss of authority to repression of new technologies especially in relation to energy, to the atrophy of the public sector and spread of corruption, to media dishonesty, to mass unemployment of young men and on and on and on.”

So why isn’t it happening yet?

“Preconditions are not the same as precipitants. We are waiting for our Tunisian fruit seller. The public will endure great repression, especially when most media outlets and schools are actively aiding the repressive meme of ‘you are helpless, this is the order of things.’ When we have a scandal so powerful that it cannot be ignored by the average Briton or American, we will have a revolution that overturns the corrupt political systems in both countries, and perhaps puts many banks out of business. Vaclav Havel calls this ‘The Power of the Powerless.’ One spark, one massive fire.”

But we need more than revolution, in the sense of overthrow, to effect change, surely. How does your manifesto for ‘open source everything’ fit into this?

“The west has pursued an industrialisation path that allows for the privatisation of wealth from the commons, along with the criminalisation of commons rights of the public, as well as the externalisation of all true costs. Never mind that fracking produces earthquakes and poisons aquifers – corrupt politicians at local, state or province, and national levels are all too happy to take money for looking the other way. Our entire commercial, diplomatic, and informational systems are now cancerous. When trade treaties have secret sections – or are entirely secret – one can be certain the public is being screwed and the secrecy is an attempt to avoid accountability. Secrecy enables corruption. So also does an inattentive public enable corruption.”

Is this a crisis of capitalism, then? Does capitalism need to end for us to resolve these problems? And if so, how?

“Predatory capitalism is based on the privatisation of profit and the externalisation of cost. It is an extension of the fencing of the commons, of enclosures, along with the criminalisation of prior common customs and rights. What we need is a system that fully accounts for all costs. Whether we call that capitalism or not is irrelevant to me. But doing so would fundamentally transform the dynamic of present day capitalism, by making capital open source. For example, and as calculated by my colleague JZ Liszkiewicz, a white cotton T-shirt contains roughly 570 gallons of water, 11 to 29 gallons of fuel, and a number of toxins and emissions including pesticides, diesel exhaust, and heavy metals and other volatile compounds – it also generally includes child labor. Accounting for those costs and their real social, human and environmental impacts has totally different implications for how we should organise production and consumption than current predatory capitalism.”

So what exactly do you mean by open source everything?

“We have over 5 billion human brains that are the one infinite resource available to us going forward. Crowd-sourcing and cognitive surplus are two terms of art for the changing power dynamic between those at the top that are ignorant and corrupt, and those across the bottom that are attentive and ethical. The open source ecology is made up of a wide range of opens – open farm technology, open source software, open hardware, open networks, open money, open small business technology, open patents – to name just a few. The key point is that they must all develop together, otherwise the existing system will isolate them into ineffectiveness. Open data is largely worthless unless you have open hardware and open software. Open government demands open cloud and open spectrum, or money will dominate feeds and speeds.”

Robert Steele’s vision for open source systems

On 1st May, Steele sent an open letter to US vice president Joe Biden requesting him to consider establishing an Open Source Agency that would transform the operation of the intelligence community, dramatically reduce costs, increasing oversight and accountability, while increasing access to the best possible information to support holistic policy-making. To date, he has received no response.

I’m not particularly surprised. Open source everything pretty much undermines everything the national security state stands for. Why bother even asking vice president Biden to consider it?

“The national security state is rooted in secrecy as a means of avoiding accountability. My first book, On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World – which by the way had a foreword from Senator David Boren, the immediate past chairman of the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence - made it quite clear that the national security state is an expensive, ineffective monstrosity that is simply not fit for purpose. In that sense, the national security state is it’s own worst enemy – it’s bound to fail.”

Given his standing as an intelligence expert, Steele’s criticisms of US intelligence excesses are beyond scathing – they are damning.

“Most of what is produced through secret methods is not actually intelligence at all. It is simply secret information that is, most of the time, rather generic and therefore not actually very useful for making critical decisions at a government level. The National Security Agency (NSA) has not prevented any terrorist incidents. CIA cannot even get the population of Syria correct and provides no intelligence - decision-support - to most cabinet secretaries, assistant secretaries, and department heads. Indeed General Tony Zinni, when he was commander in chief of the US Central Command as it was at war, is on record as saying that he received, ‘at best,’ a meagre 4% of what he needed to know from secret sources and methods.”

So does open source mean you are calling for abolition of intelligence agencies as we know them, I ask.

“I’m a former spy and I believe we still need spies and secrecy, but we need to redirect the vast majority of the funds now spent on secrecy toward savings and narrowly focused endeavors at home. For instance, utterly ruthless counterintelligence against corruption, or horrendous evils like paedophilia.

“Believe it or not, 95% of what we need for ethical evidence-based decision support cannot be obtained through the secret methods of standard intelligence practices. But it can be obtained quite openly and cheaply from academics, civil society, commerce, governments, law enforcement organisations, the media, all militaries, and non-governmental organisations. An Open Source Agency, as I’ve proposed it, would not just meet 95% of our intelligence requirements, it would do the same at all levels of government and carry over by enriching education, commerce, and research – it would create what I called in 1995 a ‘Smart Nation.’

“The whole point of Open Source Everything is to restore public agency. Open Source is the only form of information and information technology that is affordable to the majority, interoperable across all boundaries, and rapidly scalable from local to global without the curse of overhead that proprietary corporations impose.”

Robert Steele’s graphic on open source systems thinking

It’s clear to me that when Steele talks about intelligence as ‘decision-support,’ he really does intend that we grasp “all information in all languages all the time” – that we do multidisciplinary research spanning centuries into the past as well as into the future. His most intriguing premise is that the 1% are simply not as powerful as they, and we, assume them to be.

“The collective buying power of the five billion poor is four times that of the one billion rich according to the late Harvard business thinker Prof C. K. Prahalad – open source everything is about the five billion poor coming together to reclaim their collective wealth and mobilise it to transform their lives. There is zero chance of the revolution being put down. Public agency is emergent, and the ability of the public to literally put any bank or corporation out of business overnight is looming. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you cannot screw all of the people all of the time. We’re there. All we lack is a major precipitant – our Tunisian fruit seller. When it happens the revolution will be deep and lasting.”

The Arab spring analogy has its negatives. So far, there really isn’t much to root for. I want to know what’s to stop this revolution from turning into a violent, destructive mess. Steele is characteristically optimistic.

“I have struggled with this question. What I see happening is an end to national dictat and the emergence of bottom-up clarity, diversity, integrity, and sustainability. Individual towns across the USA are now nullifying federal and state regulations - for example gag laws on animal cruelty, blanket permissions for fracking. Those such as my colleague Parag Khanna that speak to a new era of city-states are correct in my view. Top down power has failed in a most spectacular manner, and bottom-up consensus power is emergent. ‘Not in my neighborhood’ is beginning to trump ‘Because I say so.’ The one unlimited resource we have on the planet is the human brain – the current strategy of 1% capitalism is failing because it is killing the Golden Goose at multiple levels. Unfortunately, the gap between those with money and power and those who actually know what they are talking about has grown catastrophic. The rich are surrounded by sycophants and pretenders whose continued employment demands that they not question the premises. As Larry Summers lectured Elizabeth Warren, ‘insiders do not criticise insiders.’”

But how can activists actually start moving toward the open source vision now?

“For starters, there are eight ‘tribes’ that among them can bring together all relevant information: academia, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit. At every level from local to global, across every mission area, we need to create stewardship councils integrating personalities and information from all eight tribes. We don’t need to wait around for someone else to get started. All of us who recognise the vitality of this possibility can begin creating these new grassroots structures from the bottom-up, right now.”

So how does open source everything have the potential to ‘re-engineer the Earth’? For me, this is the most important question, and Steele’s answer is inspiring.

“Open Source Everything overturns top-down ‘because I say so at the point of a gun’ power. Open Source Everything makes truth rather than violence the currency of power. Open Source Everything demands that true cost economics and the indigenous concept of ‘seventh generation thinking’ – how will this affect society 200 years ahead – become central. Most of our problems today can be traced to the ascendance of unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory capitalism, all based on force and lies and encroachment on the commons. The national security state works for the City of London and Wall Street – both are about to be toppled by a combination of Eastern alternative banking and alternative international development capabilities, and individuals who recognise that they have the power to pull their money out of the banks and not buy the consumer goods that subsidise corruption and the concentration of wealth. The opportunity to take back the commons for the benefit of humanity as a whole is open – here and now.”

For Steele, the open source revolution is inevitable, simply because the demise of the system presided over by the 1% cannot be stopped – and because the alternatives to reclaiming the commons are too dismal to contemplate. We have no choice but to step up.

“My motto, a play on the CIA motto that is disgraced every day, is ‘the truth at any cost lowers all other costs’”, he tells me. “Others wiser than I have pointed out that nature bats last. We are at the end of an era in which lies can be used to steal from the public and the commons. We are at the beginning of an era in which truth in public service can restore us all to a state of grace.”

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. ZERO POINT is set in a near future following a Fourth Iraq War. Follow Ahmed on Facebook and Twitter.
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Re: How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behin

Postby admin » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:15 am

Title: Declassified Documents Concerning PDD-68, International Public Policy
Description: This Mandatory Declassification Review contains material declassified as part of a unilateral National Security Staff decision. The National Security Staff declassified Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-68, International Public Information (IPI), which was signed by President Clinton on April 30, 1999.
Date Available: 9/19/2016
Creator(s): National Security Council
Is Part Of:Scanned documents that are a part of this Mandatory Declassification Review are not associated with a Freedom of Information Act Request
Identifier: LP-WJC/NSS-16-1
Format:Adobe Acrobat Document
Original Format: Paper
Publisher:William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum



April 30, 1999


MEMORANDUM FOR: The Vice President
The Secretary of State
The Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of Defense
The Attorney General
The Secretary of Commerce
The Secretary of Health and Human Services
The Secretary of Transportation
Director, Office of Management and Budget
Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations
Director of Central Intelligence
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy
Administrator, Agency for International Development
Director, United States Information Agency
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Director, National Security Agency

SUBJECT: International Public Information (IPI)

The United States Government will improve its use of public information communicated to foreign audiences. Our objectives are to improve our ability to prevent and mitigate foreign crises, and to promote understanding and support for U.S. foreign policy initiatives around the world.

I. Premise

Over the past half century, the U.S. Information Agency, as well as public affairs personnel at the Departments of State, Defense and other agencies, have effectively presented to the international community U.S. Government positions on critical foreign policy issues. Dramatic changes in the global information environment, however, require that we implement a more deliberate and well-developed international public information strategy in promoting our values and interests.

Events in the Bosnia conflict and preceding the 1994 genocide in Rwanda demonstrated the unfortunate power of inaccurate and malicious information in conflict-prone situations. Effective use of our nation’s highly-developed communications and information capabilities to address misinformation and incitement, mitigate inter-ethnic conflict, promote independent media organizations and the free flow of information, and support democratic participation will advance our interests and is a critical foreign policy objective.

IPI activities address foreign audiences only, and are designed neither to mislead audiences regarding the content or intent of U.S. foreign policy nor to compromise in any way the integrity or independence of non-governmental organizations. Rather, IPI activities can only be effective and credible by operating with accuracy and objectivity.

IPI activities are designed to improve our ability to coordinate independent public diplomacy, public affairs, and overt International Military Information efforts, and to ensure that they are more successfully integrated into foreign and national security policy-making

II. Policy

It is the policy of the United States to enhance our use of IPI as a key instrument for preventing and mitigating foreign crises and advancing our interests around the world. In doing so, we will pay special attention to the collection and analysis of foreign public opinion on issues vital to U.S. national interests, and to enhancing our ability to use information assets – including those that reflect new and emerging technologies – in an innovative and proactive manner. All U.S. Government agencies reference herein will take steps to improve the planning, management, and implementation of IPI efforts.

III. Strategy

The United States will develop a national IPI strategy consisting of public information plans for potential major regional or transnational challenges. The strategy will outline opportunities for using IPI to promote our national interests and to prevent and mitigate international crises.

IPI plans for specific contingencies will include discussion of the potential for information-based U.S. responses, the threshold for U.S. IPI involvement, resources required for meeting our public information goals, the most effective information tools, the scope and duration of proposed U.S. IPI efforts, and the desired result. IPI plans will also be integrated into interagency planning as mandated in PDD-56 (Managing Complex Contingency Operations).

IV. Implementation

Interagency Group: An interagency IPI Core Group (ICG) is hereby established to implement this PDD. The ICG will coordinate the involvement of all appropriate agencies in IPI planning. Participants will include Assistant Secretary-level representatives from the Department of State, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Information Agency, National Intelligence Council, National Security Council staff, and other offices and agencies as required. Participating agencies will support the effort with appropriate staff and resources, consistent with applicable laws and regulations. The ICG will establish sub-groups on regional, functional, and transnational issues as appropriate.

The ICG will report to and receive guidance from the Deputies Committee. After October 1, 1999, the ICG will be chaired by the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs or his or her designee; and until October 1, by the Secretary of State’s designee. A dedicated staff, under the direction of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, will serve as the ICG Secretariat. There will be a NSC Deputy Chair of the ICG. In addition, I have determined that it is in the national security interest of the Department of Defense for the Department of Defense to detail on a non-reimbursable full-time basis an individual (or individuals) to the Department of State for the ICG Secretariat.

Any activities involving U.S. international broadcasting elements shall be conducted consistent with applicable law, including the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-236, Title III) and the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998.

Resources and Training: It is the goal of the United States to develop civilian foreign affairs and military professionals skilled and experienced in IPI planning and techniques. The ICG shall work with appropriate U.S. Government educational institutions – including the National Defense University, the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, the Army War College, and others – to develop and conduct, on an annual basis at a minimum, education and training activities designed to foster expertise and promote better coordination on international information issues. Exchanges of personnel between agencies and flexible hiring and contracting practices will be encouraged, subject to applicable law and regulations. Agencies should also review their existing training programs and augment them as necessary.

Program and Budgetary Issues: Within three months of the promulgation of the PDD, all agencies engaged in IPI activities will submit a report to the ICG describing the agencies’ IPI activities and identifying the personnel and funding associated with those activities. Agencies will also provide preliminary views on how they intend to improve planning, management and implementation of their international information efforts, as directed in Part II, above. The ICG will assess these reports and make recommendations, as appropriate, to the Deputies Committee.

V. Institutional Partners

Institutions outside the Administration may at times be more appropriate and effective conduits for information into an area than U.S. Government agencies. In Bosnia, for example, television programming donated by major U.S. private networks to the Open Broadcast Network played a critical role in making that station a success, and amplifying a vision of an ethnically-integrated Bosnia.

Special attention must therefore be given to the potential contributions of a wide range of organizations now involved in providing information. These include those in the private sector – for-profit communications firms, independent media organizations, Internet providers, media conglomerates, and advertisers – as well as non-government organizations, which play a critical role in the development of civil society and the free exchange of ideas and information. The United States will continue to place the highest priority on supporting the developing of global and indigenous media outlets which promote these objectives.

It is also the policy of the United States to promote effective use of IPI by the United Nations and other international organizations in support of multilateral peacekeeping and complex contingency operations, as well as to promote cooperation on international information efforts with key allies.

VI. Schedule of Tasks

Within 90 days, the ICG will issue a statement of policies, programs, scope of work, and procedures of the ICG.

Within 10 months, the ICG will submit for Deputies review:

1) a national IPI strategy consisting of guidance on regional and transnational issues;

2) a report on the implementation of other elements of this PDD, including discussion of progress on interagency information training programs and human resource policies; development of earloy warning and crisis response capabilities; IPI engagement with international, private and non-government organizations, especially in preventing and mitigating crises and in supporting independent media and democratic development overseas; use of technology in promoting our public information objectives; and integration of IPI perspectives into foreign policy deliberations; and

3) a report outlining the adequacy of funds within the various agencies for engaging in the IPI activities described in this PDD.

VII. Implementation

The Secretary of State is responsible for ongoing review of implementation of this directive.

[Signed:] William J. Clinton


A former senior Clinton administration official charged yesterday that a new multiagency plan to closely control the dissemination of public information abroad is really aimed at "spinning the American public."

The plan, disclosed yesterday by The Washington Times, emerged out of concern that the U.S. public has refused to back President Clinton's foreign policy, said the former official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified.

Administration officials "say news coverage is distorted at home and they need to fight it at all costs by using resources that are aimed at spinning the news," said the former official, who had close knowledge of the plan's development.

Mr. Clinton in April issued Presidential Decision Directive 68, ordering the creation of the International Public Information (IPI) system, designed to make sure that all government agencies disseminating information abroad share a single message. …

-- Information-Control Plan Aimed at U.S., Insider Says: International Agency to Be Used for `Spinning the News', by Ben Barber, The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 29, 1999
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Re: How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behin

Postby admin » Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:59 am

How the west created the Islamic State
by Nafeez Ahmed
Sep 11, 2014



… with a little help from our friends

“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated,” Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon press conference in August.

Military action is necessary to halt the spread of the ISIS/IS “cancer,” said President Obama. Yesterday, in his much anticipated address, he called for expanded airstrikes across Iraq and Syria, and new measures to arm and train Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces.

“The only way to defeat [IS] is to stand firm and to send a very straightforward message,” declared Prime Minister Cameron. “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.”

Missing from the chorus of outrage, however, has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).

Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.

Now despite Pentagon denials that there will be boots on the ground – and Obama’s insistence that this would not be another “Iraq war” – local Kurdish military and intelligence sources confirm that US and German special operations forces are already “on the ground here. They are helping to support us in the attack.” US airstrikes on ISIS positions and arms supplies to the Kurds have also been accompanied by British RAF reconnaissance flights over the region and UK weapons shipments to Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Divide and rule in Iraq

“It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs,” said one US government defense consultant in 2007. “It’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

Early during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the US covertly supplied arms to al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents even while ostensibly supporting an emerging Shi’a-dominated administration.

Pakistani defense sources interviewed by Asia Times in February 2005 confirmed that insurgents described as “former Ba’ath party” loyalists – who were being recruited and trained by “al-Qaeda in Iraq” under the leadership of the late Abu Musab Zarqawi – were being supplied Pakistan-manufactured weapons by the US. The arms shipments included rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry. These arms “could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because US arms would be given to them”, a source told Syed Saleem Shahzad – the Times’ Pakistan bureau chief who, “known for his exposes of the Pakistani military” according to the New Yorker, was murdered in 2011. Rather, the US is playing a double-game to “head off” the threat of a “Shi’ite clergy-driven religious movement,” said the Pakistani defense source.

This was not the only way US strategy aided the rise of Zarqawi, a bin Laden mentee and brainchild of the extremist ideology that would later spawn ‘ISIS.’

The JSOC insignia

According to a little-known November report for the US Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and Strategic Studies Department, Dividing Our Enemies, post-invasion Iraq was “an interesting case study of fanning discontent among enemies, leading to ‘red-against-red’ [enemy-against-enemy] firefights.”

While counterinsurgency on the one hand requires US forces to “ameliorate harsh or deprived living conditions of the indigenous populations” to publicly win local hearts and minds:

“… the reverse side of this coin is one less discussed. It involves no effort to win over those caught in the crossfire of insurgent and counterinsurgent warfare, whether by bullet or broadcast. On the contrary, this underside of the counterinsurgency coin is calculated to exploit or create divisions among adversaries for the purpose of fomenting enemy-on-enemy deadly encounters.”

In other words, US forces will pursue public legitimacy through conventional social welfare while simultaneously delegitimising local enemies by escalating intra-insurgent violence, knowing full-well that doing so will in turn escalate the number of innocent civilians “caught in the crossfire.” The idea is that violence covertly calibrated by US special operations will not only weaken enemies through in-fighting but turn the population against them.

In this case, the ‘enemy’ consisted of jihadists, Ba’athists, and peaceful Sufis, who were in a majority but, like the militants, also opposed the US military presence and therefore needed to be influenced. The JSOU report referred to events in late 2004 in Fallujah where “US psychological warfare (PSYOP) specialists” undertook to “set insurgents battling insurgents.” This involved actually promoting Zarqawi’s ideology, ironically, to defeat it: “The PSYOP warriors crafted programs to exploit Zarqawi’s murderous activities – and to disseminate them through meetings, radio and television broadcasts, handouts, newspaper stories, political cartoons, and posters – thereby diminishing his folk-hero image,” and encouraging the different factions to pick each other off. “By tapping into the Fallujans’ revulsion and antagonism to the Zarqawi jihadis the Joint PSYOP Task Force did its ‘best to foster a rift between Sunni groups.’”

Yet as noted by Dahr Jamail, one of the few unembedded investigative reporters in Iraq after the war, the proliferation of propaganda linking the acceleration of suicide bombings to the persona of Zarqawi was not matched by meaningful evidence. His own search to substantiate the myriad claims attributing the insurgency to Zarqawi beyond anonymous US intelligence sources encountered only an “eerie blankness”.

US soldiers in Fallujah

The US military operation in Fallujah, largely justified on the claim that Zarqawi’s militant forces had occupied the city, used white phosphorous, cluster bombs, and indiscriminate air strikes to pulverise 36,000 of Fallujah’s 50,000 homes, killing nearly a thousand civilians, terrorising 300,000 inhabitants to flee, and culminating in a disproportionate increase in birth defects, cancer and infant mortality due to the devastating environmental consequences of the war.

To this day, Fallujah has suffered from being largely cut-off from wider Iraq, its infrastructure largely unworkable with water and sewage systems still in disrepair, and its citizens subject to sectarian discrimination and persecution by Iraqi government backed Shi’a militia and police. “Thousands of bereaved and homeless Falluja families have a new reason to hate the US and its allies,” observed The Guardian in 2005. Thus, did the US occupation plant the seeds from which Zarqawi’s legacy would coalesce into the Frankenstein monster that calls itself “the Islamic State.”

Bankrolling al-Qaeda in Syria

According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business,” he told French television: “I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”

Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway. The goal was to elicit the “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”

Since then, the role of the Gulf states – namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan (as well as NATO member Turkey) – in officially and unofficially financing and coordinating the most virulent elements amongst Syria’s rebels under the tutelage of US military intelligence is no secret. Yet the conventional wisdom is that the funneling of support to Islamist extremists in the rebel movement affiliated to al-Qaeda has been a colossal and regrettable error.

The reality is very different. The empowerment of the Islamist factions within the ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) was a foregone conclusion of the strategy.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) greets Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L), United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan (2nd L) and British Foreign Minister William Hague, in Tunis

In its drive to depose Col. Qaddafi in Libya, NATO had previously allied itself with rebels affiliated to the al-Qaeda faction, the Islamic Fighting Group. The resulting Libyan regime backed by the US was in turn liaising with FSA leaders in Istanbul to provide money and heavy weapons for the anti-Assad insurgency. The State Department even hired an al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan militia group to provide security for the US embassy in Benghazi – although they had links with the very people that attacked the embassy.

Last year, CNN confirmed that CIA officials operating secretly out of the Benghazi embassy were being forced to take extra polygraph tests to keep under wraps what US Congressman suspect was a covert operation “to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.”

With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.”

The National thus confirmed the existence of another command and control centre in Amman, Jordan, “staffed by western and Arab military officials,” which “channels vehicles, sniper rifles, mortars, heavy machine guns, small arms and ammunition to Free Syrian Army units.” Rebel and opposition sources described the weapons bridge as “a well-run operation staffed by high-ranking military officials from 14 countries, including the US, European nations and Arabian Gulf states, the latter providing the bulk of materiel and financial support to rebel factions.”

The FSA sources interviewed by The National went to pains to deny that any al-Qaeda affiliated factions were involved in the control centre, or would receive any weapons support. But this is difficult to believe given that “Saudi and Qatari-supplied weapons” were being funneled through to the rebels via Amman, to their favoured factions.

Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that “most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups… are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”

Lest there be any doubt as to the extent to which all this covert military assistance coordinated by the US has gone to support al-Qaeda affiliated factions in the FSA, it is worth noting that earlier this year, the Israeli military intelligence website Debkafile – run by two veteran correspondents who covered the Middle East for 23 years for The Economist – reported that: “Turkey is giving Syrian rebel forces, including the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, passage through its territory to attack the northwestern Syrian coastal area around Latakia.”

In August, Debkafile reported that “The US, Jordan and Israel are quietly backing the mixed bag of some 30 Syrian rebel factions”, some of which had just “seized control of the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, the only transit point between Israeli and Syrian Golan.” However, Debkafile noted, “al-Qaeda elements have permeated all those factions.” Israel has provided limited support to these rebels in the form of “medical care,” as well as “arms, intelligence and food…

“Israel acted as a member, along with the US and Jordan, of a support system for rebel groups fighting in southern Syria. Their efforts are coordinated through a war-room which the Pentagon established last year near Amman. The US, Jordanian and Israeli officers manning the facility determine in consultation which rebel factions are provided with reinforcements from the special training camps run for Syrian rebels in Jordan, and which will receive arms. All three governments understand perfectly that, notwithstanding all their precautions, some of their military assistance is bound to percolate to al-Qaeda’s Syrian arm, Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is fighting in rebel ranks. Neither Washington or Jerusalem or Amman would be comfortable in admitting they are arming al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in southern Syria.”

This support also went to ISIS. Although the latter was originally founded in Iraq in October 2006, by 2013 the group had significantly expanded its operations in Syria working alongside al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra until February 2014, when ISIS was formally denounced by al-Qaeda. Even so, experts on the region’s Islamist groups point out that the alleged rift between al-Nusra and ISIS, while real, is not as fraught as one might hope, constituting a mere difference in tactics rather than fundamental ideology.

ISIS fighters pose for the camera

Officially, the US government’s financial support for the FSA goes through the Washington DC entity, the Syrian Support Group (SSG), Syrian Support Group (SSG) which was incorporated in April 2012. The SSG is licensed via the US Treasury Department to “export, re-export, sell, or supply to the Free Syrian Army (‘FSA’) financial, communications, logistical, and other services otherwise prohibited by Executive Order 13582 in order to support the FSA.”

In mid-2013, the Obama administration intensified its support to the rebels with a new classified executive order reversing its previous policy limiting US direct support to only nonlethal equipment. As before, the order would aim to supply weapons strictly to “moderate” forces in the FSA.

Except the government’s vetting procedures to block Islamist extremists from receiving US weapons have never worked.

A year later, Mother Jones found that the US government has “little oversight over whether US supplies are falling prey to corruption – or into the hands of extremists,” and relies “on too much good faith.” The US government keeps track of rebels receiving assistance purely through “handwritten receipts provided by rebel commanders in the field,” and the judgement of its allies. Countries supporting the rebels – the very same which have empowered al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists – “are doing audits of the delivery of lethal and nonlethal supplies.”

Thus, with the Gulf states still calling the shots on the ground, it is no surprise that by September last year, eleven prominent rebel groups distanced themselves from the ‘moderate’ opposition leadership and allied themselves with al-Qaeda.

By the SSG’s own conservative estimate, as much as 15% of rebel fighters are Islamists affiliated to al-Qaeda, either through the Jabhut al-Nusra faction, or its breakaway group ISIS. But privately, Pentagon officials estimate that “more than 50%” of the FSA is comprised of Islamist extremists, and according to rebel sources neither FSA chief Gen Salim Idris nor his senior aides engage in much vetting, decisions about which are made typically by local commanders.

Follow the money

Media reports following ISIS’ conquest of much of northern and central Iraq this summer have painted the group as the world’s most super-efficient, self-financed, terrorist organisation that has been able to consolidate itself exclusively through extensive looting of Iraq’s banks and funds from black market oil sales. Much of this narrative, however, has derived from dubious sources, and overlooked disturbing details.

One senior anonymous intelligence source told Guardian correspondent Martin Chulov, for instance, that over 160 computer flash sticks obtained from an ISIS hideout revealed information on ISIS’ finances that was completely new to the intelligence community.

ISIS fighters in Mosul

“Before Mosul, their total cash and assets were $875m [£515m],” said the official on the funds obtained largely via “massive cashflows from the oilfields of eastern Syria, which it had commandeered in late 2012.” Afterwards, “with the money they robbed from banks and the value of the military supplies they looted, they could add another $1.5bn to that.” The thrust of the narrative coming from intelligence sources was simple: “They had done this all themselves. There was no state actor at all behind them, which we had long known. They don’t need one.”

“ISIS’ half-a-billion-dollar bank heist makes it world’s richest terror group,” claimed the Telegraph, adding that the figure did not include additional stolen gold bullion, and millions more grabbed from banks “across the region.”

This story of ISIS’ stupendous bank looting spree across Iraq made global headlines but turned out to be disinformation. Senior Iraqi officials and bankers confirmed that banks in Iraq, including Mosul where ISIS supposedly stole $430 million, had faced no assault, remain open, and are guarded by their own private security forces.

How did the story come about? One of its prime sources was Iraqi parliamentarian Ahmed Chalabi – the same man who under the wing of his ‘Iraqi National Congress’ peddled false intelligence about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda.

In June, Chalabi met with the US ambassador to Iraq, Robert Beecroft, and Brett McGurk, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran. According to sources cited by Buzzfeed in June, Beecroft “has been meeting Chalabi for months and has dined at his mansion in Baghdad.”

Follow the oil

But while ISIS has clearly obtained funding from donors in the Gulf states, many of its fighters having broken away from the more traditional al-Qaeda affiliated groups like Jabhut al-Nusra, it has also successfully leveraged its control over Syrian and Iraqi oil fields.

In January, the New York Times reported that “Islamist rebels and extremist groups have seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources”, bolstering “the fortunes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and the Nusra Front, both of which are offshoots of al-Qaeda.” Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels had “seized control of the oil and gas fields scattered across the country’s north and east,” while more moderate “Western-backed rebel groups do not appear to be involved in the oil trade, in large part because they have not taken over any oil fields.”

Jabhut al-Nusra rebels at Syrian oil fields

Yet the west had directly aided these Islamist groups in their efforts to operationalise Syria’s oil fields. In April 2013, for instance, the Times noted that al-Qaeda rebels had taken over key regions of Syria: “Nusra’s hand is felt most strongly in Aleppo”, where the al-Qaeda affiliate had established in coordination with other rebel groups including ISIS “a Shariah Commission” running “a police force and an Islamic court that hands down sentences that have included lashings.” Al-Qaeda fighters also “control the power plant and distribute flour to keep the city’s bakeries running.” Additionally, they “have seized government oil fields” in provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hasaka, and now make a “profit from the crude they produce.”

Lost in the fog of media hype was the disconcerting fact that these al-Qaeda rebel bread and oil operations in Aleppo, Deir al-Zour and Hasaka were directly and indirectly supported by the US and the European Union (EU). One account by the Washington Post for instance refers to a stealth mission in Aleppo “to deliver food and other aid to needy Syrians – all of it paid for by the US government,” including the supply of flour. “The bakery is fully supplied with flour paid for by the United States,” the Post continues, noting that local consumers, however, “credited Jabhat al-Nusra – a rebel group the United States has designated a terrorist organisation because of its ties to al-Qaeda – with providing flour to the region, though he admitted he wasn’t sure where it comes from.”

And in the same month that al-Qaeda’s control of Syria’s main oil regions in Deir al-Zour and Hasaka was confirmed, the EU voted to ease an oil embargo on Syria to allow oil to be sold on international markets from these very al-Qaeda controlled oil fields. European companies would be permitted to buy crude oil and petroleum products from these areas, although transactions would be approved by the Syrian National Coalition. Due to damaged infrastructure, oil would be trucked by road to Turkey where the nearest refineries are located.

“The logical conclusion from this craziness is that Europe will be funding al-Qaeda,” said Joshua Landis , a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

Just two months later, a former senior staffer at the Syria Support Group in DC, David Falt, leaked internal SSG emails confirming that the group was “obsessed” with brokering “jackpot” oil deals on behalf of the FSA for Syria’s rebel-run oil regions.

“The idea they could raise hundreds of millions from the sale of the oil came to dominate the work of the SSG to the point no real attention was paid to the nature of the conflict,” said Falt, referring in particular to SSG’s director Brian Neill Sayers, who before his SSG role worked with NATO’s Operations Division. Their aim was to raise money for the rebels by selling the rights to Syrian oil.

Tacit complicity in IS oil smuggling

Even as al-Qaeda fighters increasingly decide to join up with IS, the ad hoc black market oil production and export infrastructure established by the Islamist groups in Syria has continued to function with, it seems, the tacit support of regional and western powers.

Baiji oil refinery in Iraq

According to Ali Ediboglu, a Turkish MP for the border province of Hatay, IS is selling the bulk of its oil from regions in Syria and Mosul in Iraq through Turkey, with the tacit consent of Turkish authorities: “They have laid pipes from villages near the Turkish border at Hatay. Similar pipes exist also at [the Turkish border regions of] Kilis, Urfa and Gaziantep. They transfer the oil to Turkey and parlay it into cash. They take the oil from the refineries at zero cost. Using primitive means, they refine the oil in areas close to the Turkish border and then sell it via Turkey. This is worth $800 million.” He also noted that the extent of this and related operations indicates official Turkish complicity. “Fighters from Europe, Russia, Asian countries and Chechnya are going in large numbers both to Syria and Iraq, crossing from Turkish territory. There is information that at least 1,000 Turkish nationals are helping those foreign fighters sneak into Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. The National Intelligence Organization (MIT) is allegedly involved. None of this can be happening without MIT’s knowledge.”

Similarly, there is evidence that authorities in the Kurdish region of Iraq are also turning a blind eye to IS oil smuggling. In July, Iraqi officials said that IS had begun selling oil extracted from in the northern province of Salahuddin. One official pointed out that “the Kurdish peshmerga forces stopped the sale of oil at first, but later allowed tankers to transfer and sell oil.”

State of Law coalition MP Alia Nasseef also accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of secretly trading oil with IS: “What is happening shows the extent of the massive conspiracy against Iraq by Kurdish politicians… The [illegal] sale of Iraqi oil to ISIS or anyone else is something that would not surprise us.” Although Kurdish officials have roundly rejected these accusations, informed sources told the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraqi crude captured by ISIS was “being sold to Kurdish traders in the border regions straddling Iraq, Iran and Syria, and was being shipped to Pakistan where it was being sold ‘for less than half its original price.’”

An official statement in August from Iraq’s Oil Ministry warned that any oil not sanctioned by Baghdad could include crude smuggled illegally from IS:

“International purchasers [of crude oil] and other market participants should be aware that any oil exports made without the authorisation of the Ministry of Oil may contain crude oil originating from fields under the control of [ISIS].”

“Countries like Turkey have turned a blind eye to the practice” of IS oil smuggling, said Luay al-Khateeb, a fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, “and international pressure should be mounted to close down black markets in its southern region.” So far there has been no such pressure. Meanwhile, IS oil smuggling continues, with observers inside and outside Turkey noting that the Turkish government is tacitly allowing IS to flourish as it prefers the rebels to the Assad regime.

According to former Iraqi oil minister Isam al-Jalabi, “Turkey is the biggest winner from the Islamic State’s oil smuggling trade.” Both traders and oil firms are involved, he said, with the low prices allowing for “massive” profits for the countries facilitating the smuggling.

Buying ISIS oil?

Early last month, a tanker carrying over a million barrels in crude oil from northern Iraq’s Kurdish region arrived at the Texas Gulf of Mexico. The oil had been refined in the Iraqi Kurdish region before being pumped through a new pipeline from the KRG area ending up at Ceyhan, Turkey, where it was then loaded onto the tanker for shipping to the US. Baghdad’s efforts to stop the oil sale on the basis of its having national jurisdiction were rebuffed by American courts.

In early September, the European Union’s ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybášková, told the EU Foreign Affairs Committee that “several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organisation that has been brutally conquering large portions of Iraq and Syria,” according to Israel National News. She however “refused to divulge the names of the countries despite being asked numerous times.”

A third end-point for the KRG’s crude this summer, once again shipped via Turkey’s port of Ceyhan, was Israel’s southwestern port of Ashkelon. This is hardly news though. In May, Reuters revealed that Israeli and US oil refineries had been regularly purchasing and importing KRG’s disputed oil.

Meanwhile, as this triangle of covert oil shipments in which ISIS crude appears to be hopelessly entangled becomes more established, Turkey has increasingly demanded that the US pursue formal measures to lift obstacles to Kurdish oil sales to global markets. The KRG plans to export as much as 1 million barrels of oil a day by next year through its pipeline to Turkey.

The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline: Iraqi Kurdistan alone could hold up to 45 billion barrels of oil, allowing exports of up to 4 million barrels a day in the next decade if successfully brought to production

Among the many oil and gas firms active in the KRG capital, Erbil, are ExxonMobil and Chevron. They are drilling in the region for oil under KRG contracts, though operations have been halted due to the crisis. No wonder Steve Coll writes in the New Yorker that Obama’s air strikes and arms supplies to the Kurds – notably not to Baghdad – effectively amount to “the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal – as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example – are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company.” The Kurds are now busy working to “quadruple” their export capacity, while US policy has increasingly shifted toward permitting Kurdish exports – a development that would have major ramifications for Iraq’s national territorial integrity.

To be sure, as the offensive against IS ramps up, the Kurds are now selectively cracking down on IS smuggling efforts – but the measures are too little, too late.

A new map

The Third Iraq War has begun. With it, longstanding neocon dreams to partition Iraq into three along ethnic and religious lines have been resurrected.

White House officials now estimate that the fight against the region’s ‘Islamic State’ will last years, and may outlive the Obama administration. But this ‘long war’ vision goes back to nebulous ideas formally presented by late RAND Corp analyst Laurent Muraweic before the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board at the invitation of then chairman Richard Perle. That presentation described Iraq as a “tactical pivot” by which to transform the wider Middle East.

Brian Whitaker, former Guardian Middle East editor, rightly noted that the Perle-RAND strategy drew inspiration from a 1996 paper published by the Israeli Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, co-authored by Perle and other neocons who held top positions in the post-9/11 Bush administration.

The policy paper advocated a strategy that bears startling resemblance to the chaos unfolding in the wake of the expansion of the ‘Islamic State’ – Israel would “shape its strategic environment” by first securing the removal of Saddam Hussein. “Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and ‘roll back’ Syria.” This axis would attempt to weaken the influence of Lebanon, Syria and Iran by “weaning” off their Shi’ite populations. To succeed, Israel would need to engender US support, which would be obtained by Benjamin Netanyahu formulating the strategy “in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the cold war.”

The 2002 Perle-RAND plan was active in the Bush administration’s strategic thinking on Iraq shortly before the 2003 war. According to US private intelligence firm Stratfor, in late 2002, then vice-president Dick Cheney and deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz had co-authored a scheme under which central Sunni-majority Iraq would join with Jordan; the northern Kurdish regions would become an autonomous state; all becoming separate from the southern Shi’ite region.

The strategic advantages of an Iraq partition, Stratfor argued, focused on US control of oil:

“After eliminating Iraq as a sovereign state, there would be no fear that one day an anti-American government would come to power in Baghdad, as the capital would be in Amman [Jordan]. Current and potential US geopolitical foes Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria would be isolated from each other, with big chunks of land between them under control of the pro-US forces.

Equally important, Washington would be able to justify its long-term and heavy military presence in the region as necessary for the defense of a young new state asking for US protection – and to secure the stability of oil markets and supplies. That in turn would help the United States gain direct control of Iraqi oil and replace Saudi oil in case of conflict with Riyadh.”

The expansion of the ‘Islamic State’ has provided a pretext for the fundamental contours of this scenario to unfold, with the US and British looking to re-establish a long-term military presence in Iraq in the name of the “defense of a young new state.”

In 2006, Cheney’s successor, Joe Biden, also indicated his support for the ‘soft partition’ of Iraq along ethno-religious lines – a position which the co-author of the Biden-Iraq plan, Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations, now argues is “the only solution” to the current crisis.


Also in 2006, the Armed Forces Journal published a map of the Middle East with its borders thoroughly re-drawn, courtesy of Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters, who had previously been assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence where he was responsible for future warfare. As for the goals of this plan, apart from “security from terrorism” and “the prospect of democracy”, Peters also mentioned “access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself.”


In 2008, the strategy re-surfaced – once again via RAND Corp – through a report funded by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command on how to prosecute the ‘long war.’ Among its strategies, one scenario advocated by the report was ‘Divide and Rule’ which would involve:

“… exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts.”

Simultaneously, the report suggested that the US could foster conflict between Salafi-jihadists and Shi’ite militants by:

“… shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes… as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.”

One way or another, some semblance of this plan is in motion. Last week, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Leiberman told US secretary of state John Kerry:

“Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion.”

The rise of the ‘Islamic State’ is not just a direct consequence of this neocon vision, tied as it is to a dangerous covert operations strategy that has seen al-Qaeda linked terrorists as a tool to influence local populations – it has in turn offered a pretext for the launch of a new era of endless war, the spectre of a prolonged US-led military presence in the energy-rich Persian Gulf region, and a return to the dangerous imperial temptation to re-configure the wider regional order.

Nafeez Ahmed is a bestselling author, investigative journalist and international security scholar. He has contributed to two major terrorism investigations in the US and UK, the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest, and has advised the Royal Military Academy Sandhust, British Foreign Office and US State Department, among government agencies.

Nafeez is a regular contributor to The Guardian where he writes about the geopolitics of interconnected environmental, energy and economic crises. He has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, among many others.

Nafeez’s just released new novel, ZERO POINT, predicted a new war in Iraq to put down an al-Qaeda insurgency. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed and Facebook.
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