Secret Operations

According to Sky’s Martin Bruntwe’ll probably never know the how, why or who” in the death of Gareth Williams. The inquest has been postponed for the second time and policeman seem to be implying that they’ll never make arrests. The “Mediterranean couple” that we’re told we’re loitering in the safe house Williams resided in are claimed to be untraceable. Some safe house.

Unusually,” Brunt reveals, the anonymous spooks who’ve given evidence to the inquest were interviewed by counter-terror detectives who’ll report back to the homicide police. This despite Scotland Yard’s insistence that the death was “not linked to his work”. The increasingly bizarre and evermore suspect attempts to make us feel his private life was strange enough to lead to ruin don’t inspire faith. Nor does the secret service’s meddling in the inquiry. Let me put it this way – if you wander through your house and note a curious, unpleasant smell emanating from a room, then see a friend or family member standing in a corner with their arms thrown wide and feet and legs clamped rigidly together, well, they might be innocently practicing a back exercise. But you’d be forgiven for wondering.

If a barista dropped a mug of coffee down some poor soul’s neck they’d be out of a job before the drink had even cooled. If a receptionist sent their employer’s emails to their spouse rather than their lover they’d be out of work in the time it takes for blood pressure to rise. If a CIA agent spearheads an operation in which a blameless man is kidnapped, tortured and detained they’ll be promoted. The Washington Post tells all

In December 2003, security forces boarded a bus in Macedonia and snatched a German citizen named Khaled el-Masri. For the next five months, el-Masri was a ghost. Only a select group of CIA officers knew he had been taken to a secret prison for interrogation in Afghanistan.

But he was the wrong guy.

A hard-charging CIA analyst had pushed the agency into one of the biggest diplomatic embarrassments of the U.S. war on terrorism. Yet despite recommendations, the analyst was never punished. In fact, she’s risen in the agency.

That botched case is but one example of a CIA accountability process that even some within the agency say is unpredictable and inconsistent. In the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, officers who committed mistakes that left people wrongly imprisoned or even dead received only minor admonishments or no punishment at all, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The irresponsibility within the U.S. bureaux of “national security” can’t be restricted to the post-9/11 world. You can take or leave the conclusions that this writer draws but he marshalls weighty evidence to show that grievous failures to prevent the tragedies of that lamented day were quietly ignored. In the wacky world of the “War on Terror”, citizens do not possess the right to know their liberties are being safeguarded by people unlikely to do them harm. Behaving otherwise, in fact, may not be to the detriment of one’s career. There’s a thought unlikely to sweep terror from our consciousness.

A few days ago As’ad AbuKhalil wrote

Let me say this: we Arabs have been mocked for resorting to conspiracy theory. I say this: if you look at the Arab world without trying to understand the outside conspiracies, you are dumb and you don’t know what you are talking about.

Now we learn the favourite to replace Mubarak is a U.S. and Israel backed spy chief who’s calculating ruthlessness has earned him the priceless description of “an Egyptian Mandelson”. He’s in talks with a shady American diplomat who’s father headed up the C.I.A’s covert operations.

I’m sayin’ nothin’.

Elsewhere, neoconservatives are desperate to sweep up the model of communalism that the protestors are tinkering with. As Freddie de Boer notes, they’d only squish it in their great, clumsy paws. From scheming realists to meddlesome utopians – I’ve seen no reason to believe “we” shouldn’t just butt out.

Churchill once said that if Hitler invaded hell he’d praise the Devil in the House of Commons. If Lucifer had claimed to be a staunch opponent of Marxism you can bet that post-war he’d have been on the Allies’ payroll. After the release of thousands of World War Two documents Professors Richard Breitman and Norman Goda have written a study(pdf) on the curious shenanigans that followed. One chapter discusses the U.S. and U.K.’s employment of Ukrainian collaborationists and murderers.

Mykola Lebed and Stephan Bandera were Ukrainian partisans who’d long fought for their nation’s ethnic purity. After the Nazis occupied Europe their guerrilla force, the OUN, began on-off relations with the Third Reich. They received funding and Lebed was trained by the Gestapo but they were too independent to maintain a firm alliance. “On the one hand, [they] fought German rule,” Breitman and Goda report, “On the other, [they] pursued [their] own ethnic cleansing policies complementing German aims.” “You welcomed Stalin with flowers,” they warned local Jews, “We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet.” Bandera was arrested in 1941 but under Lebed the OUN only grew more fearsome: many Jews were killed while hundreds of Poles were massacred.

After the war Bandera was employed by MI6, who began to train his agents and transport them to Ukraine. They saw him as a “bandit type” with a “terrorist background“; “no better or worse than others of his kind“. How encouraging. Lebed, meanwhile, was aligned with the U.S.. They described him as a “well-known sadist and collaborator of the Germans“, responsible for “wholesale murders of Ukrainians, Poles and Jew[s]“. This, apparently, did not preclude him from being a fine employee and they signed him up to fight against the Soviets. He was shielded from demands for justice and flown New York where he worked in intelligence for nearly thirty years. “As late as 1991 the CIA tried to dissuade [investigators] from approaching the German, Polish, and Soviet governments for war-related records [pertaining] to the OUN.” In 1992 they claimed they had no files on the man, which suggests that they were buried very deep or the agency was still quite embarrassed. It’s the soulless realpolitik of the playground. “Him? No, don’t know ‘im mate. Not my type.”

More on this theme…

Operation Gladio and the Nazis

The U.S. cover-up of Unit 731

Mobsters? War Criminals? Just call ‘em anti-Communists


There’s an argument doing the rounds that the fairly unspectacular disclosures of the Wikileaks suggests the notion of political conspiracies is bunk. I’m not convinced by this. Firstly, it ignores the fact that beings compartmentalise: all institutions, from the U.S. state to the council of Alfreton, Derbyshire have varied levels at which data and ideas may be exchanged. Being exposed to one doesn’t mean that you can judge it all.

Say that you believe your partner is conducting an affair. You might steal their mobile phone and, finding nothing juicy in the inbox, feel relieved. But their email – which is shielded by a sturdy password – may contain all sorts of filth. Similarly, these new cables were taken from Siprnet: a secret network used by the DoD and State Department to exchange information. Millions have access so you’d have to be a dunce to bung the most sensitive info there. They don’t, in fact: “top-secret” information is kept well away. Assuming that there’s nothing more extraordinary elsewhere is like being shown the ground floor of a house and surmising that it has to be a bungalow. These new cables, then, give us an insight on a certain level of political maneuvering; it’s quite wrong to think that they define the limits of it, though.

To continue this bleak historical discursion, here’s some notes on the U.S. employment of their Asian foes. General Charles Willoughby – the Chief of Intelligence who bragged about the “invaluable” research his men had bought off Unit 731’s killers – was a fanatical anti-communist, happy to recruit Japanese war criminals if they’d oppose the Soviets. Thus, as on the Western front, old enemies became new friends if they could fight against old friends who’d now become new enemies.

It seems Charles Willoughby was more inclined to embrace fascists than he’d been to work with Commies. It’s claimed[1] that he lauded Mussolini for “re-establishing the…military supremacy of the white race” and he later made a pilgramage to Spain to offer his respects to an object of his regard, General Francisco Franco[2]. Closer to home, he wrote[3] for the newspaper of the eccentric John Bircher and “Red Conspiracy” opponent Billy James Hargis.

In Japan, Willoughby became close to Lt. General Arisue Seizo, an important figure of the Imperial Japanese Army. He asked him to set up a secret communications group within G-2, Doug MacArthur’s intelligence arm. This, historian Michael Petersen has written, was intended to “target communist elements in Japan“. Arisue employed several criminals to the group, including Kodama Yoshio, a gangster, opiate smuggler and profiteer, and Colonel Tsuji Masanobu, a fanatical killer who organised the notorious Bataan Death March[4].

In Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld, David Kaplan and Alex Dubro write of how this ragbag assortment of fascistic gangsters and war criminals went on to form and foster Japan’s criminal far-right. Kodama particularly “created a powerful rightist bloc inside and outside…government“, and “tried to foment internal strife” with the aid of ultranationalist yakuza gangs. The G-2 – and, later, the CIA’s – employees “sp[ied] on and disrupt[ed] the left in Japan“, and it’s even speculated that they might have played a role in false flag attacks aimed at discrediting socialists. The extent of their activities under Willoughby’s command, however, are unknown. Kaplan and Dubro report an official saying that – like his ass-covering offspring – “Willoughby was a burner[5].

[1] Textor, Robert, Success in Japan (pg.16)

[2] Klukhohn, Frank, “Heidelberg to Madrid — The Story of General Willoughby“, The New York Journal, 19.8.52

[3] Wilkerson, Keith, “Founder Dr. Billy James Hargis dead at age 79″, Christian Crusade Newspaper, January – February 2005

[4] Petersen, Michael, “The Intelligence That Wasn’t”, Researching Japanese War Crimes: Introductory Essays.

[5] Kaplan, David and Dubro, Alex, “The Kodama Years”, Yakuza: Japan’s criminal underworld

Below I copy in a fascinating memo from General Charles Willoughby[*] – Doug MacArthur’s Chief of Intelligence – which shows the U.S. military’s eagerness to get their hands on Unit 731’s “invaluable” research into “BW” – biological warfare. He reveals the Japanese were sweetened with “direct payments” and “payments in kind” (“food, miscellanious gift items“) and boasts that it was a “mere pittance“. At 150 to 200,ooo yen it was indeed a snip for the U.S., but one might feel that justice for the thousands of Chinese, Manchurian, Russian and, perhaps, British and American victims should be factored somewhere amongst the expenditure. Willoughby goes on to claim that since their pampered captives have revealed so much they might go on to offer findings related to “chemical warfare” and “death rays“.

Bert Roling, a Judge at Asia’s Nuremburg, later said it was “a bitter experience for [him] that centrally ordered Japanese war criminality of the most disgusting kind was kept secret from the Court by the U.S. government“. At the expense of truth and justice the atrocities of one war were forgotten in the cause of those assumed to follow it.


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