Pentagon Document Shows US Knew Syria Strategy Would Aid Rise Of ISIS

A newly declassified document from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) from 2012 reveals the US government’s understanding that the policy it was pursuing in Syra would foster the rise of ISIS. As has been noted continually by critics of the Obama Administration’s Syria policy, DIA’s analysis surmised that the Syrian opposition was comprised primarily of Islamic fundamentalists who hated the US not “moderates” who wanted to build a liberal democracy as Syrian war advocates claimed.

The Obama Administration’s decision to arm the Syrian rebels – at one point even bypassing a US law against arming terrorists – did not alter the composition of the Syrian rebels and the weapons sent by the US into Syria ended up being captured by Al Qaeda and other Islamist militants.

But as the Pentagon document shows, the problem with the Obama Administration’s policy was deeper than its arms program. The US “allies” in the region such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey specifically wanted a Sunni-based Islamic State in order to undermine Assad and check Iranian influence in the region.

In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.” Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”:

“… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).” The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.”

So what was the point of the Obama Administration’s press strategy calling the Syrian rebels “moderates” when analysts were privately telling them that the rebels were far from moderate and their triumph would lead to an Islamic State? President Obama later repudiated his own talking point in 2014 and claimed that it had “always been a fantasy” to believe the moderates would ever be the force that prevailed within the Syrian opposition. No kidding.

Now the “Salafist Principality” previously forecast by US defense analysts has not only come into being but is proving to be quite resilient. Then again, it’s not like no one saw it coming.

US Sending Weapons To Iraq To Use Against Weapons US Previously Sent To Iraq

It’s almost like war is a business. The Pentagon announced on Thursday that the United States would be sending 2,000 AT-4 anti-tank rockets to Iraq. While the Department of Defense emphasized that the rockets were being sent to help combat suicide car bombs, there is another target anti-tank rockets might be needed for in Iraq these days – US tanks and other vehicles in the hands of ISIS.

That’s right, while ISIS is mostly made up by local reactionaries living out a fantasy from the 7th century the weapons they now have in their possession are cutting edge tech. After the Iraqi army first collapsed ISIS gained control of numerous US weapons and vehicles sent to the Iraqi army including modern US tanks. The kind you might need anti-tank rockets for.

Now with the recent fall of Ramadi to ISIS forces the militants have a new cache of US weapons:

The ISIS fleet of captured U.S. military vehicles, including M1A1 tanks, grew by more than 100 when Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) fled the provincial capital of Ramadi 60 miles west of Baghdad and abandoned their equipment , Pentagon officials said Tuesday.In addition, “there were some artillery pieces left behind,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, but he could not say how many.

About 100 wheeled vehicles and “in the neighborhood of dozens of tracked vehicles” were lost to ISIS when the last remaining Iraqi defenders abandoned the city of about 500,000, Warren said. The tracked vehicles were mostly armored personnel carriers but “maybe half a dozen tanks” were in the mix, Warren said. He did not say what type of tanks they were. Photos posted by ISIS on social media purported to show about 10 M1A1 Abrams tanks in their possession and large amounts of captured ammunition.

Well this is an interesting game – send weapons to Iraqi army which loses US weapons retreating from ISIS, then send more weapons to Iraqi army to fight now better-armed ISIS only to retreat again and lose more US weapons to ISIS. Rinse, repeat, and consider buying defense stocks.

But don’t worry, the US military will also be attacking some of the US military equipment – ISIS won’t get it all right away. But look on the bright side, now we have somewhere to send all those tanks that the Pentagon did not want but Congress demanded be produced.

And you thought Washington didn’t have a jobs program.

Wall Street Trading ‘Cartel’ Warned Initiates ‘Mess This Up And Sleep With One Eye Open’

Yesterday the Department of Justice announced guilty pleas from Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan and the Royal Bank of Scotland for manipulating international currency markets. The banks also agreed to pay fines totaling $5.8 billion.

In order to rig the markets in their favor the banks formed a group known as “The Cartel” where traders from Citigroup, JPMorgan, UBS, RBS, and Barclays conspired to rig LIBOR and currency exchange rates. The Cartel’s reach was extensive and the group was able to shift global currency exchange and interest rates by acting in collusion through their respective financial institutions.

To join the group, which operated an exclusive chatroom to conspire on trades, a trader would go through a gang initiation process of sorts complete with a probationary period and a threat.

The trader, who was the main Euro trader for Barclays in 2011, made various arguments about how he “would add value” to the chatroom, according to the NYDFS. Ultimately, they let him join for a one-month trial, but allegedly with a pretty ominous warning:

[M]ess this up and sleep with one eye open at night.” Fortunately for that trader (but probably not so fortunately, in the end), he was allowed to stay in the group until it was dissolved in 2012.

Banksters truly play the part sometimes. The sleep with one eye open threat is just one of many quotes from traders rigging the market that display a criminal mindset.

The banks in question claim to have terminated all the traders involved in the Cartel though they offered little in the way of evidence to prove it. Of course, we could all just trust them to do the right thing. What could go wrong?

Ukraine Corruption Problems Remain As US Plans New Propaganda War

A year after a US-backed coup forced out the democratically elected government in Ukraine under the banner of “anti-corruption” the state of affairs in Kiev remains unchanged as those in power continue to use their position to advance their private interests at the public’s expense.

The post-coup officials running the government have not only failed to reform the political system but appear to have exacerbated the problem. A new committee has been formed to investigate whether Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and friends have embezzled more than $325 million from a government already flirting with bankruptcy. The investigation comes as Ukraine’s oligarch president, Petro Poroshenko, starts another round of lobbying for foreign financial assistance which includes promises that the money will be used to clean up Ukraine politics.

Combine the corruption problems with a series of suspicious killings of journalists and dissidents in Kiev and Ukraine does not look like it is on its way to becoming a modern liberal democracy.

So what to do? The answer coming out of imperialist circles in DC is to double down on propaganda under the pretext of countering propaganda. The plan is to step up “information warfare” against Ukraine and NATO critics – especially on social media platforms – in the hopes that thwarting dissent will somehow fix post-coup Ukraine’s internal contradictions. Seems unlikely.

While the US government has already been engaging in social media “information warfare” to promote government talking points for years, the gears appear to be in motion for a new offensive. Unfortunately, the government has proven to be terrible at manipulating social media akin to how it manipulates the corporate media and the even harsher truth is that the US and NATO’s problem is with reality itself – a difficult opponent in the media space but one that has been defeated before.

In any case, this is going to get hilarious rather quickly. It is going to be nearly impossible to wage a social media “information warfare” campaign without getting exposed. As is custom the government will likely hire private defense and intelligence contractors to do the dirty work in hopes of removing its fingerprints. And, as is custom, those firms will surely screw up and embarrass their paymasters.

Get your popcorn.

Rand Paul Says Iraq Surge ‘Worked’

Something strange is happening to Senator Rand Paul. Since the beginning of his presidential campaign Paul has started to change his positions on a number of issues related to foreign policy and defense spending – issues that previously helped define his political identity.

First, in a surprise to many, Senator Paul signed on to a public letter to Iran that attempted to sabotage a nuclear weapons deal and start a war between the US and Iran. Then Paul argued – in complete contradiction to his history and purported libertarian beliefs – for increasing the defense budget.

Now Senator Paul is claiming the surge in Iraq “worked” despite the overwhelming evidence that the program merely emboldened a corrupt government in Baghdad to pursue unrestrained Shiite domination of Iraq – a dynamic that ultimately paved the way for ISIS to enter the country with Sunni support.

“Whether or not the surge worked–obviously, it worked,” said Paul, responding to a question from Bloomberg. “It was a military tactic and it worked. In fact, some of the ideas from the surge could be used again. In fact, the main problem we have with ISIS is that the Sunni population is either indifferent, supportive, or hates the Shiite government more than it hates ISIS.”

It is hard to figure out which part of this statement is worse – the complete abandonment of previously held principles or the idiotic analysis that claims something “worked” while acknowledging it did not fix the underlying problem. In any case, neither aspect of Paul’s statement is very confidence inspiring for a would-be president.

Senator Rand Paul may have never been a serious candidate for president, but he is proving to be more of a joke with each lame split-the-baby pandering attempt. He seems to have forgot that the reason people were interested in him was his breaking with Republican establishment orthodoxy, not the embracing of it.

Senator Feinstein Says TPP Is Not For Corporate America, Critics Should ‘Take A Good Look’

The rhetoric for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is hitting new levels of absurdity. Though all available evidence – including leaked portions – shows the TPP is a massive give away to corporate interests, the agreement is being framed by Democratic advocates as some sort of bizarre achievement for working people.

First the White House called the TPP the “most progressive trade agreement in history” and now Senator Dianne Feinstein has claimed that TPP is not for Corporate America.

Instead, Feinstein offered that small businesses will be the real beneficiaries and that critics of the measure should more closely examine the proposed agreement.

“I want to straighten one thing out, and that is that most people think this is a bill for corporate America,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on ABC’s “This Week.” “In California, 95 percent of the trade is carried out by companies and business of less than 500 people.”…

Feinstein also said Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who’s been criticized for dodging the debate on the issue, should “take a good look” at the measure.

Aye, there’s the rub. Can we “take a good look” Senator Feinstein? The answer, of course, is no. That lack of transparency from the “most transparent administration in history” is exactly why people are skeptical about other claims. That and the history of so-called free trade agreements which, to put it lightly, is unimpressive.

But if the White House and corporate Democrats really do believe what they say about how progressive this deal is then they should be committed to showing it to the public shouldn’t they? Anytime now.

Stephanopoulos Will Not Moderate GOP Debate After Clinton Donations Revealed

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos has agreed to not moderate an ABC News-sponsored Republican primary debate after it was revealed that he had given $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Stephanopoulos acknowledged the donation was inappropriate saying “In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have, even though I did it for the best reasons.”

Prior to joining ABC News Stephanopoulos served as communications director under President Bill Clinton and led the communications team on Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign famously recorded in the documentary film The War Room. In the film Stephanopoulos and Democratic strategist James Carville methodically work to manipulate the news media into adopting a pro-Clinton narrative.

Stephanopoulos left the Clinton White House in 1996 after Clinton was successfully re-elected and later wrote a book titled All Too Human: A Political Education about the Clinton experience which became a best-seller and set up his journalism career. He then joined ABC News first as an analyst then a correspondent and eventually an anchor. Stephanopolous maintained his strong relationship with the Clintons, though up until now it was not known that there was a financial aspect to that relationship.

The Stephanopoulos revelations are just the latest controversy for the Clinton Foundation which continues to face scrutiny for its shady fundraising practices conducted while Hillary Clinton served as the secretary of state. Unease with the fundraising practices have been amplified by a corresponding scandal regarding Hillary Clinton refusing to comply with federal record keeping rules when serving at the State Department.

What additional deal-making between the Clinton Foundation and foreign/corporate interests was facilitated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and subordinates will be a lot harder to know now that those emails have been destroyed.

Senate Democrats Fold, Obama To Get Fast-Track On TPP

For a brief shining moment it looked like Senate Democrats might actually stand up for their own constituents and oppose a terrible so-called “trade deal.” But now comes the seemingly inevitable capitulation with Senate Democrats agreeing to give President Obama fast-track authority to advance the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The cosmetic concessions offered to the weak-kneed Democrats included some empty votes on currency manipulation and an extension of an African trade agreement – in short, nothing. Senate Democrats have set themselves up to get rolled when TPP comes up for a final vote and voting no means scuttling an agreement all their donors will be demanding they approve. Then again, maybe that was the plan all along – offer token opposition to appease the base, cave, then say your hands are tied because the fast-track has made the vote on TPP so binary you have to vote yes.

For all the drama, Senate Democrats may have ended up where they started, with tough trade enforcement provisions that are broadly supported but without a vehicle to get them into law. Lawmakers from both parties say that even if the enforcement and currency bill passes Thursday, they may try to break off some provisions as amendments to the trade promotion bill that Mr. Obama must sign into law.

Same as it ever was.

In any case, the White House continued to crow that TPP is the “The most progressive trade agreement in history,” with pairs well with their claim that they are “The most transparent administration in history.” Neither statements are true, but when has that stopped a talking point from being repeated ad nauseum?

And as the economic statecraft heats up to empower Western corporations in Asia so to does the military planning. The US Marines recently announced a new project to integrate military forces in Asia with the exclusion of China which compliments new expansive US military agreements with China’s neighbors such as Japan.

Can you guess where America’s next war will be?

Democrats In Senate Block TPP Fast-Track Authority For Obama

President Barack Obama’s campaign to give him authority to jam a secretive “trade” deal down Congress’ throat hit a roadblock in the Senate on Tuesday when Democrats refused to vote to cut off debate. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware was the only Democrat to vote in favor of advancing controversial fast-track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Despite claims by White House officials that President Obama is leading “The most transparent administration in history,” the TPP deal has been shrouded in secrecy with a ban on members of Congress speaking about what is in the bill with the public. Members of Congress know that Obama wants fast-track authority so he can negotiate the entire agreement without Congressional amendments then demand Congress pass the agreement or risk hurting the economy.

The con did not work this time. President Obama responded to the defeat by lashing out at his own party and claiming that an economic agreement that would last years and effected numerous countries was “personal.”

President Obama’s dismissive attitude towards TPP opponents within his own party had already been an issue especially concerning his statements on Senator Elizabeth Warren which some claimed were sexist. Obama and his supporters have been waging a full scale campaign against progressive TPP critics in press releases and social media.

For now the campaign seems stalled thanks to the efforts of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown which are prevailing within the Democratic Party. TPP has already been scrutinized by economists as being mostly irrelevant to new job creation leaving the downsides of the bill which will lead to further diminished labor and environment standards, more expansive intellectual property “rights” at the expense of health and innovation, and a surrender of national sovereignty to corporate tribunals.

With Republicans eager to officially turn America over to transnational corporations and the global 1% it seems unlikely that fast-tracking the TPP is completely off the table. The House is set to take up the proposal soon and there is no guarantee that Democrats in the Senate will stay united. TPP is far from dead.

White House Approves Arctic Drilling

Despite constant complaints of inaction on climate change by Congress, the Obama Administration has now approved drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The approval opens the way not just for more carbon emissions but possible dangers of oil spills and other despoilment of a new section of the planet.

The concession was given to Royal Dutch Shell and the approval came from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) with a five page stipulation regarding protecting wildlife, the ocean, and human inhabitants of the area.

Green groups have been working on various fronts to block Shell’s drilling plan, saying the unique, treacherous conditions of the Arctic make drilling too risky. They also argue that Shell has a poor track record in the area “Once again, our government has rushed to approve risky and ill-conceived exploration in one of the most remote and important places on Earth,” Susan Murray, deputy vice president for the Pacific at the group Oceana, said in a statement.

“Shell has not shown that it is prepared to operate responsibly in the Arctic Ocean, and neither the company nor our government has been willing to fully and fairly evaluate the risks of Shell’s proposal,” she added. “We can’t trust Shell with America’s Arctic,” added Cindy Shogan, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League.

The remoteness of the location also means if Shell runs into any problems – say an oil spill or emergency malfunction – it will take considerable time for adequate resources to arrive in the area. It is not an accident that it has taken this long to open up drilling in the Arctic, the terrain is exceedingly difficult and hard to navigate.

Shell could just be the first company to start drilling – ConocoPhillips, Statoil, and Chevron also have leases that have so far gone unused. But now that the Arctic is open for drilling it seems unlikely they will stay away for long.

What could go wrong?