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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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See No Evil - Epilogue

This book is the (pretty controversial) memoir of Robert Baer, a CIA officer who worked in the Middle East for 20+ years and received the Career Intelligence Medal. After bureaucracy and politics crept too far into the workings of the intelligence community and he realized he was powerless to change it from the inside, he resigned and became a bit of a whistleblower.

See No Evil starts in the late 70's, and runs the gamut from the Beirut embassy bombing, Iran's state sponsored terrorism throughout the world, the coup that could have rid of us Saddam in 1955 if we would have only kept our word to the Kurds, to Russian money getting into Clinton's campaign, etc, etc.

I have never felt so pissed off, betrayed, angry or worried after finishing a book. Anyway, here's the epilogue from it. I thought some of you might like it. I highly recommend this book.

Quote:
When the world as most of us knew it began to fall apart on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was at my home in Washington, D.C. not many blocks from the United States Capitol. If United Airlines Flight 93 had been allowed by its passengers to fly on to its intended destination, I would have heard it crash into the White House. If the target had been the Capitol, and it might have been, I would have felt the crash as well.

For me, the irony of the situation was hard to miss. After two decades in some of earth’s true hellholes, I had returned only recently to the heart of the most powerful nation on earth, protected by a military force such as the work has never known, watched over by domestic and foreign security services that number in the hundreds of thousands. And what had saved the city I was living in? Not the CIA. Not the FBI. Not the air force of navy or marines or army. But the raw courage and determination of a fistful of average Americans. As I said about the beginning of this book, the lapse made me furious to think about. All of us have a right to expect more form those in whom we vest such power.

But there’s one more thing I felt in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, as I watched the deaths unfold on TV and the horror mount both in New York and across the Potomac Rover in Virginia. If it weren’t for personal commitments, I would have gotten the hell out of Dodge, and in a big hurry. The people who planned this attack are good. Very good. I’d found out too much about their capabilities, from sophisticated chemical warheads to portable nuclear weapons. I also knew that they wouldn’t be discouraged if Osama bin Laden were captured and paraded down the streets of Lower Manhattan in a cage or if Afghanistan were bombed back into the Stone Age.

***

Were the attacks of September 11 conceived in the fertile imagination of Osama bin Laden? I don’t know for certain, and I’m not sure anyone ever will. But I am absolutely sure that it’s in Osama bin Laden’s best interests for us to believe that is so. Terrorist campaigns aren’t directed just against the enemy. They are campaigns of recruitment as well, and by demonizing bin Laden, by holding him up as the mastermind of the attacks and as the archenemy, we have assure that the disillusioned, the angry, the desperate young men of the Muslim world will flock to his case, whether he’s dead or alive to lead it. And yes, there are more men like that than we could ever count.

Did Osama bin Laden act along, through his own Al Qaeda network, in launching the attacks? About that I’m far more certain and emphatic: no. Even before I left the CIA in late 1997, we had learned that bin Laden had suggested to the Iranians that they drop their efforts to undermine central Asian governments and instead join him in a campaign against the United States. We knew, too, that in July 1996 bin Laden’s allies, the Egyptian Gama’at, had been in touch with ‘Imad Mughniyah, whom my own research had shown to be behind the 1983 bombing of the American embassy in Beirut. Throw bin Laden’s connections to the Egyptian fundamentalists, and what we have is the most formidable terrorist coalition in history.

We also have to keep in mind that he Islamic terrorists hat we’re up against are hampered by self-protective bureaucracies. They don’t care about institutions and egos. In pursuit of their goals, the form ad hoc networks that dissolve as soon as the mission is accomplished, only to be reconstituted later in some new permutation or combination. And Osama bin Laden had all the right connections to put together perhaps the most dangerous as hoc network ever. Once he set up show in Afghanistan, opened his training camps there, and sent out work that he was ready to take violence across the ocean, it was only a matter of time until he and his colleagues stuck. The questions were always how and how big, what and where, and when, not if.

***

In the aftermath of the attacks, I had my own piece of the puzzle to add.

After resigning from the agency, I moved to Beirut and set up shop with another ex-CIA officer as a consultant. It was territory I knew and understood, far better than I understood official Washington. It was also where I had my best contacts, including some I wasn’t very keen on. At the height of the Internet-bubble stock market, for instance, one of Mughniyah’s former associates proposed forming a dot-com company with me.

But, more interesting, among the clients we attracted (and I use the work advisedly) was a member of a Gulf royal family who was then living in Damascus, having tried unsuccessfully to overthrow his cousin, who was the emir. We would meet him irregularly at a desert location between our office and his, and one night in December 1997, as we sat huddled by a fire to hold off the night cold he told us this story:

When he’d been working as chief of police in his government, he has become aware than his government was harboring an Osama bin Laden cell. The two main members of the cell, he said, were Shawqi Islambuli, whose brother had assassinated Anwar Sadat in 1981, and Khalid Shaykh Muhammed, whose area of expertise was airplane hijackings. The prince went on to tell us that when the FBI attempted to arrest Muhammed and Islambuli, his government had equipped them with alias passports and spirited them out of the country; Islambuli settled, at least temporarily, in Prague.

Getting out of the spy business proved a lot harder than I thought it would be. As if I’d never left, I passed everything I had learned from the ex-police chief back to the CIA in early 1998. Not surprisingly, there was no follow-up. No response. No indication that my message even got to anyone that bothered reading it. It was just like the coup in Iraq.

It wasn’t until three years later, in the early summer of 2001, that an associate of my prince, a military officer still working for his government, informed me that he was aware of a spectacular operation about to occur. He claimed to posses the name of Osama bin Laden operatives in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. He provided us with a computer record of hundreds of secret bin Laden operatives in the Gulf. In August 2001, at the military officer’s request, I met with an aide to the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan bin’Abd-al-‘Aziz. The aide refused to look at the list or to pass them on to the Sultan. Apparently Saudi Arabia was following the same see-no-evil operating manual the CIA was.

***

It all comes down to the point that we have to start listening to people again, no matter how unpleasant the message is. The CIA doesn’t have a choice but to once again go out and start talking to people – people who can go where it can’t, see what it can’t, and hear what it can’t. That’s the CIA I joined in 1976, not one enamored of satellite technology and scared of its own shadow, but one with the guts to walk into the wilderness and deal with what it finds there. That’s the CIA we need today. And until we have that CIA – one with thousands of human ears and eyes, out listening where the ones who will do us harm hatch their evil schemes – I don’t think any of us should feel safe again.

We are at was in America and throughout the Western world, at was with an enemy with no infrastructure to attack, with no planes to shoot out of the sky, wit no boats to sink to the bottom of the sea and precious few tanks to blow up for the amusement of the viewers of CNN. The only way to defeat such an enemy is by intelligence, by knowing what they plan to do next, and by being ready for them when they arrive. And the only way to gather such intelligence is by having the political will to let those who know how to learn secrets perform their jobs, no matter how murky the swamp is. I wish I had the confidence that we were willing to walk down that path and stay on it.

Food for thought...


.

Audentes Fortuna Juvat

Last edited by Strychnine; 02-11-2009 at 10:15 PM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-12-2009, 11:01 AM
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Reading this book is going to make me angry, I know it.

1/19/09, the last day of Free America.
Pericles "Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it. "

"[T]he people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government and to reform, alter, or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." --Samuel Adams


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-12-2009, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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Reading this book is going to make me angry, I know it.



I don't expect this to go anywhere, but here are a few other pieces I dog-eared.

Quote:
Bonn was unimpressed with the cable I I send about the meeting (minus the part about the SA-7). Bonn was sticking to it original position: It did not want to meet anyone from the Muslim Brotherhood. I didn’t have the time to go back, and the COA wouldn’t meet the Syrian Muslim Brothers again. But the Muslim Brother I met in that innocuous suburban house in Dortmund would pop into my life again, in the days after September 11, 2001, when the FBI came calling to tell me that one of the Syrian’s associates was a suspect in the global network that had supported the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The really bad guys – the ones capable of doing great harm for or against our side, depending on which was God is talking to them that day – don’t just go away. It was better, I always figured, to have a line into them, even if it meant keeping our hands a little dirty in the process. There is, of course, no guarantee even if we had kept communications open that the Syrian I met in 1986 would have led us to Muhammed Atta or any of the German cells of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network that may have played a role in the September 11 attacks. But closing down the channel assured that the Syrian wouldn’t lead us to anyone. For Bonn and the CIA, it remains an unforgivable error.


Quote:
…That left the Soviet target, but in early 1992, Uncle Milty, my old Khartoum boss and now chief of the Central-Eurasian Division informed Rabat that Russia would henceforth be treated like Germany, France, Italy or any other friendly country. The cold war was over. Period. As for our old nemesis the KGB, we could just take it off our target list. If the KGB rezident in Rabat were to walk in and volunteer to tell everything he knew, we weren’t authorized to give him even a nickel to catch a bus back to his embassy. None of this squared, of course, with the subsequent arrest of dozens of Russian spies, from Rick Ames to Robert Hanssen. To give another example, it meant the CIA had to turn away Vasili Mitrokhin, a KGB archivist who then volunteered to British intelligence and provided information that led to the identification of dozens of spies, including a US colonel. You figure the logic in that.


Quote:
Although it was a little after one in the morning before we were ushered in to Aliyev’s Soviet-style office, he was wide awake. Comfortable in the corridors of power and with foreigners, he graciously went around the room and shook our hands. Althought he was in his seventies, he still had a spring in his step.

Aliyev started the conversation with a rambling account of the failed March 1995 coup, the one CIA suspected Prime Minister Ciller had a role in. Accoreing to Aliyev, just about everyone was involved from Russia to Turkey. He even names some Azeri dissidents licing in the US. I took notes for a while but lost interest as Aliyev waded deeper and deeper into the details; anyhow, I was half asleep. My interest perked up, though, when Aliyev brought up Exxon and Iran. I noticed Aliyev himself become more animated. There was even a trace of anger.

“You know, gentlemen, I am ready to help the United States and its oil companies, but I expect you to live by your bargains.”

Aliyev looked around the room. It was clear no one knew what he was talking about.

Aliyev filled us in. In March 1995 he had received a call from the State Department’s undersecretary for economic affairs, Joan Spiro. She said she was speaking in the name of Secretary of State Warren Christopher. In unmistakable terms, Sprio threatened that if Azerbaijan wanted to maintain food relations with the US, Aliyev would have to give Exxon 5 pecent. When Aliyev countered that he would face a lot of heat from Iran, Sprio brushed it off: “Don’t worry, you’ll get help.” The next call was from Deputy Energy Secretary Bill White. White also insisted on Exxon’s 5 percent. When Aliyev again mentioned Iran, White said, “We’ll take care of it, just make sure Exxon gets its deal.”

“So now that Exxon has its five percent, what are you going to do about Iran?” Aliyev asked. “I share a long, porous border with that country.”

Listening to Aliyev I found it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Clinton administration was pimping for Exxon. NaÔf that I was in the ways of the White House, I had assumed that the job of the government was to back US business in general but never a specific company, especially when other American oil companies, including Mobil, gladly would have taken the 5 percent and probably paid even more for it.

After it broke in the press that Tony Lake and his wife skirted the law by holding $304,000 in energy stocks while he was appointed national security advisor, I wondered if Lake had anything to do with Spiro’s and White’s calls. If so, the tension at home must have been thick enough to cut: Lake owned Exxon stock, while his wife held Mobil.

But the issue ran to more than money. It was about this time that the Sudanese decided they had enough of hosting Osama bin Laden and offered him to us on a silver platter. Maybe if the White House and National Security Council had been spending less time thinking about Exxon and Mobil and Amoco and more time thinking about the implications of letting a known venomous snake slither away to Afghanistan, we might have all been spared a lot of misery.


.

Audentes Fortuna Juvat

Last edited by Strychnine; 02-12-2009 at 06:12 PM.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2009, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Strychnine View Post



I don't expect this to go anywhere, but here are a few other pieces I dog-eared.
I wonder if Exxon didn't pay off on their portion of under the table money, which led to the politicians attacking them?

All of it stinks.

1/19/09, the last day of Free America.
Pericles "Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it. "

"[T]he people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government and to reform, alter, or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." --Samuel Adams


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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2009, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Sean88gt View Post
I wonder if Exxon didn't pay off on their portion of under the table money, which led to the politicians attacking them?

All of it stinks.
Stinks, indeed. Just think, this book is just one agent's perspective... and even then there are words, sentences and paragraphs that were blacked out in the book by censors to protect information.

The behind the scenes shit is amazing.


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Audentes Fortuna Juvat
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2009, 08:40 PM
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The behind the scenes shit is amazing.

That statement is likely far more profound than any of us will ever know.


At least it's not just the fat rich white men profiting now...
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