A short but necessary post; having previously pushed Zero Hedge as a good source. I’d have preferred to keep my distance from the subject of geopolitical intrigue while developing other interests but sometimes the best of intentions can be stymied (at least momentarily.)

This one is firstly about following the money. And then, it’s about that money purchasing the hemlock fed to the masses via media. Then, it’s about Zero Hedge taking a drink of the hemlock spiked Kool-Aid. And finally, it’s about correcting the record.

Following the money. The long time CIA liaised Ford Foundation is a philanthropic front for laundering money to ‘alternative media’ (among other projects), where the message is shaped to taste of those social psychology trained, professional information operations specialists operating out of Langley, Virginia. One of the beneficiaries of the Ford Foundation largess is The Nation Institute, sponsor of TomDispatch. Tom Engelhardt, a clinical example of a narcissist who recently used the personal pronoun ‘I’ 49 times in a single article, runs TomDispatch.

Engelhardt’s ‘alternative media’ is perhaps best described as a ‘woe is me’ professional hand-wringing that more often than not, appears to seek instilling a sense of helplessness through what appears on its face to be carefully detailed outrageous acts of government that is long on generic ‘we’ve been here before’ lessons and short on incisive insights to the actual goings on; for instance, what appear to be intelligence failures due to some science fiction worthy, byzantine bureaucratic monolith, at fault. But in fact, his disingenuous analysis detracts from the reality, one could say conceals the facts, of an intense criminal endeavor that must be papered over in order to shield the perpetrators – in this case, the CIA.

So, Engelhardt begins his ‘Fog of Intelligence‘ disinformation piece with:

1,500. That figure stunned me. I found it in the 12th paragraph of a front-page New York Times story about “senior commanders” at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) playing fast and loose with intelligence reports to give their air war against ISIS an unjustified sheen of success: “CENTCOM’s mammoth intelligence operation, with some 1,500 civilian, military, and contract analysts, is housed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, in a bay front building that has the look of a sterile government facility posing as a Spanish hacienda.”

Engelhardt has just set his readers up with an exaggeration concealing the facts. We’ll come back to this. Englehardt goes on:

Think about that. CENTCOM, one of six U.S. military commands that divide the planet up like a pie, has at least 1,500 intelligence analysts (military, civilian, and private contractors) all to itself. Let me repeat that: 1,500 of them. CENTCOM is essentially the country’s war command, responsible for most of the Greater Middle East, that expanse of now-chaotic territory filled with strife-torn and failing states that runs from Pakistan’s border to Egypt. That’s no small task and about it there is much to be known. Still, that figure should act like a flash of lightning, illuminating for a second an otherwise dark and stormy landscape.

Now, Englehardt, incorporating melodramatic prose to an article that rips American intelligence as essentially failed, rubs (or attempts to rub) into the readers mind the ‘one thousand, five hundred’ CENTCOM intelligence analysts who will have (the article implies throughout) failed to produce a useful product on the Middle East. To demonstrate this (without having to dissect the entire 2,800 word article) we only need look at Egelhardt’s ‘facts’ concerning Iraq, proposing:

At that time, U.S. military leaders and top administration officials right up to President Obama were, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “caught off guard by the swift collapse of Iraqi security forces” and the successes of the Islamic State in northern Iraq. Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt of the Times wrote in retrospect, “Intelligence agencies were caught off guard by the speed of the extremists’… advance across northern Iraq.” And don’t forget that, despite that CENTCOM intelligence machine, something similar happened in May 2015 when, as Washington Post columnist David Ignatius put it, U.S. officials and American intelligence were “blindsided again” by a very similar collapse of Iraqi forces in the city of Ramadi in al-Anbar Province.

Recalling Carl Bernstein (CIA and the Media) “The Agency’s relationship with [The New York] Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. [It was] general Times policy … to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.”

And CIA Veteran Melvin Goodman’s take on the Washington Post’s novelist-contributor David Ignatius is “Mainstream media’s apologist for the CIA”… have a read of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s EXCELLENT assessment of the event’s Engelhardt presents as intelligence failures in Iraq:

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Notably from the DIA assessment:

“this creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al-Qaida in Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters [Shia Islam] ISI could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.

In fact CENTCOM had all of the timely (the DIA analysis is from 2012) information it needed to cope with the circumstance unfolding in Iraq that Engelhardt (parroting the NY Times and Washington Post) blames on intelligence failure. That we know the DIA assessment was discussed at the highest levels is revealed by then head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, General Mike Flynn, where the gift of Western Iraq to what became Islamic State, in General Flynn’s words “was a willful policy decision”

What General Flynn cannot say but is available from numerous open sources is, it was a CIA strategy (no doubt recorded in the redacted portions of the DIA assessment) to empower Salafist militia, inclusive of al-Qaida, leading to the rise of Islamic State, as a policy pointed towards the overthrow of Assad in Syria:

Frequently the man who carried out dirty jobs, Bandar bin Sultan … return in July 2012, alongside former CIA Director David Petraeus, was his final bet on the success of his political future.

Bandar had been bold enough to invest all his cards, including al-Qaeda, to win the deal of his life by overthrowing the Syrian regime.

Clearly the CIA cannot have it be widely known what are named ‘intelligence failures’ by Engelhardt concerning Iraq are in actuality clearly articulated, calculated risks that have imploded precisely per the Defense Intelligence Agency assessment prediction and were a “willful policy decision.”

TomDispatch has just covered the CIA’s butt in this matter, this much is clear. Even more disturbing (from yours truly point of view) is, Zero Hedge, more typically a reliable source, has picked up this hemlock and drank it down. The CIA’s information operations people will take what they can get, every time.

Engelhardt’s exaggeration concerning the 1,500 CENTCOM analysts would be, 20 nations; Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen, split evenly between countries, equals 75 analysts per nation. With several senior analysts per country in charge of work product and building the assessments, example given, would be perfectly manageable and far removed from the artificial reality created by Engelhardt.

Postscript would be, the going on four years CIA program laundering weapons and training to Salafist militia via the fig leaf ‘Free Syrian Army’ is almost certainly why the Americans refuse to share intelligence with the Russians on Islamic State, Al-Nusra and other radical groups; because there are no moderates aligned with the USA, the only real moderates are on the side of Assad. Anyone with common sense would only have to look at lesson of Libya to know which side they’d wish to join –

Update: zerohedge goes on to publish an article by Eric Zuesse, giving impression the “28 pages” will point to Saudi Arabia’s employ of al-Qaida as the sole responsible actors for 9/11 (altogether ignoring, among many other things, Dick Cheney’s role)

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The author is a former military intelligence professional