“If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it.” – Julius Caesar
The illegal invasion of Libya, in which Britain was complicit and a British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s report confirmed as an illegal act sanctioned by the UK government, over which Cameron stepped down as Prime Minister (weeks before the release of the UK parliament report), occurred from March – Oct, 2011.
Muammar al-Gaddafi was assassinated on Oct. 20th, 2011.
On Sept 11-12th, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyron Woods and Glen Doherty were killed at two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi.
It is officially denied to this date that al-Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization participated in the Benghazi attack. It is also officially denied that the attack was pre-meditated.
On the 6th year anniversary of the Benghazi attack, Barack Obama stated at a partisan speechon Sept 10th, 2018, delivered at the University of Illinois, that the outrage over the details concerning the Benghazi attack were the result of “wild conspiracy theory” perpetrated by conservatives and Republican members of Congress.
However, according to an August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report (only released to the public in May 2015), this is anything but the case. The report was critical of the policies of then President Obama as a direct igniter for the rise of ISIS and the creation of a “caliphate” by Syria-based radical Islamists and al-Qaeda. The report also identified that arms shipments in Libya had gone to radical Islamist “allies” of the United States and NATO in the overthrowing of Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi. These arms shipments were sent to Syria and became the arsenal that allowed ISIS and other radical rebels to grow.
The declassified DIA report states:
“AQI [al-qaeda –iraq] SUPPORTED THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION FROM THE BEGINNING, BOTH IDEOLOGICALLY AND THROUGH THE MEDIA… WESTERN COUNTRIES, THE GULF STATES AND TURKEY ARE SUPPORTING THESE EFFORTS… THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEYSUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION… 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…” [emphasis added]
Screenshot below from Judicial Watch:
Image on the right: Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.
Another DIA document from Oct 2012 (also released in May 2015), reported that Gaddafi’s vast arsenal was being shipped from Benghazi to two Syrian ports under the control of the Syrian rebel groups.
Essentially, the DIA documents were reporting that the Obama Administration was supporting Islamist extremism, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
When the watchdog group Judicial Watch received the series of DIA reports through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits (FOIA) in May 2015, the State Department, the Administration and various media outlets trashed the reports as insignificant and unreliable.
There was just one problem; Lt. Gen. Flynn was backing up the reliability of the released DIA reports.
Lt. Gen. Flynn as Director of the DIA from July 2012 – Aug. 2014, was responsible for acquiring accurate intelligence on ISIS’s and other extremist operations within the Middle East, but did not have any authority in shaping U.S. military policy in response to the Intel the DIA was acquiring.
In a July 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera, Flynn went so far as to state that the rise of ISIS was the result of a “willful decision,” not an intelligence failure, by the Obama Administration.
In the Al-Jazeera interview Flynn was asked:
Q: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?
FLYNN: I think the Administration.
Q: So the Administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?
FLYNN: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.
Q: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?
FLYNN: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.
Flynn was essentially stating (in the 47 minute interview) that the United States was fully aware that weapons trafficking from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels was occurring. In fact, the secret flow of arms from Libya to the Syrian opposition, via Turkey was CIA sponsored and had been underway shortly after Gaddafi’s death in Oct 2011. The operation was largely run out of a covert CIA annex in Benghazi, with State Department acquiescence.
This information was especially troubling in light of the fact that the Obama Administration’s policy, from mid-2011 on, was to overthrow the Assad government. The question of “who will replace Assad?” was never fully answered.
Perhaps the most troubling to Americans among the FOIA-released DIA documents was a report from Sept. 16, 2012, which provided a detail account of the pre-meditated nature of the 9/11/12 attack in Benghazi, reporting that the attack had been planned ten days prior, detailing the groups involved.
The report revealed that it was in fact an al-Qaeda linked terrorist group that was responsible for the Benghazi attack. That despite this intelligence, the Obama Administration continued to permit arms-trafficking to the al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels even after the 9/11/12 attacks.
In August 2015, then President Obama ordered for U.S. forces to attack Syrian government forces if they interfered with the American “vetted, trained and armed” forces. This U.S. approved Division 30 Syrian rebel group “defected” almost immediately, with U.S. weapons in hand, to align with the Nusra Front, the formal al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
Obama’s Semantics War: Any Friend of Yours is a Friend of Mine
“Flynn incurred the wrath of the [Obama] White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria… He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out.” – Patrick Lang (retired army colonel, served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency)
Before being named Director of the DIA, Flynn served as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Staff, as Director of Intelligence for the U.S. Central Command, and as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command.
Flynn’s criticisms and opposition to the Obama Administration’s policies in his interview with Al-Jazeera in 2015 was nothing new. In August 2013, Flynn as Director of the DIA supported Gen. Dempsey’s intervention, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in forcing then President Obama to cancel orders to launch a massive bombing campaign against the Syrian government and armed forces. Flynn and Dempsey both argued that the overthrow of the Assad government would lead to a radical Islamist stronghold in Syria, much like what was then happening in Libya.
This account was also supported in Seymour Hersh’s paper “Military to Military” published in Jan 2016, to which he states:
“Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he [Flynn] said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’
[According to a former JCS adviser]’…To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing U.S. intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State [ISIS].” [emphasis added]
According to Hersh’s sources, it was through the militaries of Germany, Israel and Russia, who were in contact with the Syrian army, that the U.S. intelligence on where the terrorist cells were located was shared, hence the “military to military”. There was no direct contact between the U.S. and the Syrian military.
Hersh states in his paper:
“The two countries [U.S. & Syria] collaborated against al-Qaida, their common enemy. A longtime consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command said that, after 9/11, ‘Bashar was, for years, extremely helpful to us while, in my view, we were churlish in return, and clumsy in our use of the gold he gave us. That quiet co-operation continued among some elements, even after the [Bush administration’s] decision to vilify him.’ In 2002 Assad authorised Syrian intelligence to turn over hundreds of internal files on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Germany. Later that year, Syrian intelligence foiled an attack by al-Qaida on the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and Assad agreed to provide the CIA with the name of a vital al-Qaida informant. In violation of this agreement, the CIA contacted the informant directly; he rejected the approach, and broke off relations with his Syrian handlers.
…It was this history of co-operation that made it seem possible in 2013 that Damascus would agree to the new indirect intelligence-sharing arrangement with the U.S.”
However, as the Syrian army gained strength with the Dempsey-led-Joint Chiefs’ support, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey escalated their financing and arming of al-Nusra and ISIS. In fact, it was “later” discovered that the Erdogan government had been supporting al-Nusra and ISIS for years. In addition, after the June 30th, 2013 revolution in Egypt, Turkey became a regional hub for the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organization.
In Sept. 2015, Russia came in and directly intervened militarily, upon invitation by the Syrian government, and effectively destroyed ISIS strongholds within Syrian territory. In response, Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 on Nov 24th, 2015 for allegedly entering Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. Days after the Russian fighter jet was shot down, Obama expressed support for Erdogan and stated at a Dec. 1st, 2015 press conference that his administration would remain “very much committed to Turkey’s security and its sovereignty”. Obama also said that as long as Russia remained allied with Assad, “a lot of Russian resources are still going to be targeted at opposition groups … that we support … So I don’t think we should be under any illusions that somehow Russia starts hitting only Isil targets. That’s not happening now. It was never happening. It’s not going to be happening in the next several weeks.”
Today, not one of those “opposition groups” has shown itself to have remained, or possibly ever been, anti-extremist. And neither the Joint Chiefs nor the DIA believed that there was ever such a thing as “moderate rebels.”
Rather, as remarked by a JCS adviser to Hersh, “Turkey is the problem.”
China’s “Uyghur Problem”
Imad Moustapha, was the Syrian Ambassador to the United States from 2004 to Dec. 2011, and has been the Syrian Ambassador to China for the past eight years.
In an interview with Seymour Hersh, Moustapha stated:
“‘China regards the Syrian crisis from three perspectives,’ he said: international law and legitimacy; global strategic positioning; and the activities of jihadist Uighurs, from Xinjiang province in China’s far west. Xinjiang borders eight nations – Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – and, in China’s view, serves as a funnel for terrorism around the world and within China. Many Uighur fighters now in Syria are known to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – an often violent separatist organisation that seeks to establish an Islamist Uighur state in Xinjiang. ‘The fact that they have been aided by Turkish intelligence to move from China into Syria through Turkey has caused a tremendous amount of tension between the Chinese and Turkish intelligence,’ Moustapha said. ‘China is concerned that the Turkish role of supporting the Uighur fighters in Syria may be extended in the future to support Turkey’s agenda in Xinjiang. We are already providing the Chinese intelligence service with information regarding these terrorists and the routes they crossed from on travelling into Syria.’ ” [emphasis added]
This view was echoed by a Washington foreign affairs analyst whose views are routinely sought by senior government officials, informing Hersh that:
“Erdoğan has been bringing Uighurs into Syria by special transport while his government has been agitating in favour of their struggle in China. Uighur and Burmese Muslim terrorists who escape into Thailand somehow get Turkish passports and are then flown to Turkey for transit into Syria.”
China understands that the best way to combat the terrorist recruiting that is going on in these regions is to offer aid towards reconstruction and economic development projects. By 2016, China had allegedly committed more than $30 billion to postwar reconstruction in Syria.
The long-time consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command could not hide his contempt, according to Hersh, when he was asked for his view of the U.S. policy on Syria. “‘The solution in Syria is right before our nose,’ he said. ‘Our primary threat is Isis and all of us – the United States, Russia and China – need to work together.’“
The military’s indirect pathway to Assad disappeared with Dempsey’s retirement in September 25th, 2015. His replacement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in July 2015, two months before assuming office, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia.”
Flynn’s Call for Development in the Middle East to Counter Terrorism
Not only was Flynn critical of the Obama Administration’s approach to countering terrorism in the Middle East, his proposed solution was to actually downgrade the emphasis on military counter-operations, and rather focus on economic development within these regions as the most effective and stable impediment to the growth of extremists.
Flynn stated in the July 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera:
“Frankly, an entire new economy is what this region needs. They need to take this 15-year old, to 25 to 30-year olds in Saudi Arabia, the largest segment of their population; in Egypt, the largest segment of their population, 15 to roughly 30 years old, mostly young men. You’ve got to give them something else to do. If you don’t, they’re going to turn on their own governments, and we can solve that problem.
So that is the conversation that we have to have with them, and we have to help them do that. And in the meantime, what we have is this continued investment in conflict. The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just fuels the conflict. Some of that has to be done, but I’m looking for other solutions. I’m looking for the other side of this argument, and we’re not having it; we’re not having it as the United States.” [emphasis added]
Flynn also stated in the interview that the U.S. cannot, and should not, deter the development of nuclear energy in the Middle East:
“It now equals nuclear development of some type in the Middle East, and now what we want… what I hope for is that we have nuclear [energy] development, because it also helps for projects like desalinization, getting water…nuclear energy is very clean, and it actually is so cost effective, much more cost effective for producing water from desalinization.”
Flynn was calling for a new strategic vision for the Middle East, and making it clear that “conflict only” policies were only going to add fuel to the fire, that cooperative economic policies are the true solution to attaining peace in the Middle East. Pivotal to this is the expansion of nuclear energy, while assuring non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, which Flynn states “has to be done in a very international, inspectable way.”
When In Doubt, Blame the Russians
How did the Obama Administration respond to Flynn’s views?
He was fired (forced resignation) from his post as Director of the DIA on April 30th, 2014. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was briefed by Flynn on the intelligence reports and was also critical of the U.S. Administration’s strategy in the Middle East was also forced to resign in Feb. 2015.
With the election of Trump as President on Nov. 8 2016, Lt. Gen. Flynn was swiftly announced as Trump’s choice for National Security Adviser on Nov. 18th, 2016.
Just weeks later, Flynn was targeted by the FBI and there was a media sensation over Flynn being a suspected “Russian agent”. Flynn was taken out before he had a chance to even step into his office, prevented from doing any sort of overhaul with the intelligence bureaus and Joint Chiefs of Staff, which was most certainly going to happen. Instead Flynn was forced to resign on Feb. 13th, 2017 after incessant media attacks undermining the entire Trump Administration, accusing them of working for the Russians against the welfare of the American people.
Despite an ongoing investigation on the allegations against Flynn, there has been no evidence to this date that has justified any charge. In fact, volumes of exculpatory evidence have been presented to exonerate Flynn from any wrongdoing including perjury. At this point, the investigation of Flynn has been put into question as consciously disingenuous and as being stalled by the federal judge since May 2020, refusing to release Flynn it seems while a Trump Administration is still in effect.
The question thus stands; in whose best interest is it that no peace be permitted to occur in the Middle East and that U.S.-Russian relations remain verboten? And is such an interest a friend or foe to the American people?
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Cynthia Chung is a lecturer, writer and co-founder and editor of the Rising Tide Foundation (Montreal, Canada).