Updates & Weekly Round Up for January 9

Welcoming Dr. Bill Weaver

We are delighted to announce a great addition to our team. Dr. Bill Weaver, who specializes in executive branch secrecy policy, governmental abuse, and law and bureaucracy, has joined Boiling Frogs Post. Bill has been my mentor, a good friend, and a senior advisor to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). I consider him one of the top nonpartisan experts when it comes to government secrecy and excessive classification, states secrets privilege, and intelligence and law enforcement agencies related whistleblowers. On Monday, January 11, I’ll post a great piece by Bill on ‘the Glomar Response.’ Here is a bit more on Bill Weaver:

BillWeaverBill Weaver served in U.S. Army signals intelligence for eight years in Berlin and Augsburg, Germany in the late 1970s and 1980s. He subsequently received his law degree and Ph.D. in politics from the University of Virginia, where he was on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review. He is presently Professor and Director of the Center for Law and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. He specializes in executive branch secrecy policy, governmental abuse, and law and bureaucracy. His articles have appeared in American Political Science Review, Political Science Quarterly, Virginia Law Review, Journal of Business Ethics, Organization and other journals. He has co-authored several books on law and political theory.  His most recent book, co-authored with Robert Pallitto, is Presidential Secrecy and the Law (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).

Boiling Frogs Show

As expected, our latest Podcast interview featuring Dan Ellsberg was a great hit. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it here is the link: Podcast #18. Coming up next week - our interview with Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, and the following week we’ll have Andy Worthington. This Thursday, Peter and I are scheduled to interview author and journalist Chris Hedges. Let me know if you have any questions you want me to ask Chris.

Also, on Monday, one of our video project team members, Katrina Rill, will be flying from California to New Jersey where she’ll be working on our project with Kristina Borjesson for two weeks. Please wish her a smooth flight and eventless TSA process. As are many prospective fliers she is dreading the process, and who could blame her?!

This week, due to my daughter’s nasty cold, I didn’t have a chance to add my own brief analysis and comments on our select weekly news and links of interest. Instead I’ll leave you with a few links and excerpts, and await your comments and responses. Is that a deal? Good. Here they are:


Obama's Yemeni odyssey targets China

A year ago, Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh made the startling revelation that his country's security forces apprehended a group of Islamists linked to the Israeli intelligence forces. "A terrorist cell was apprehended and will be referred to the courts for its links with the Israeli intelligence services," he promised.

Saleh added, "You will hear about the trial proceedings." Nothing was ever heard and the trail went cold. Welcome to the magical land of Yemen, where in the womb of time the Arabian Nights were played out.

Is Obama so incredibly forgetful of his own December 1 speech outlining his Afghan strategy that he violated his own canons? Certainly not. Obama is a smart man. The intervention in Yemen will go down as one of the smartest moves that he ever made for perpetuating the US's global hegemony. It is America's answer to China's surge.

A cursory look at the map of region will show that Yemen is one of the most strategic lands adjoining waters of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula. It flanks Saudi Arabia and Oman, which are vital American protectorates. In effect, Uncle Sam is "marking territory" - like a dog on a lamppost. Russia has been toying with the idea of reopening its Soviet-era base in Aden. Well, the US has pipped Moscow in the race.

This is a fairly well written piece and provides a bit more context than our usual media blurbs over here. You can read the entire article by M K Bhadrakumar at Asia Times here.

Another related article:

Russia, China keep toehold in Yemen

Russia has stolen a march over the United States in the multimillion-dollar arms market in cash-strapped Yemen, whose weapons purchases are being funded mostly by neighboring Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni armed forces, currently undergoing an ambitious modernization program worth an estimated $4 billion US, are equipped with weapons largely from Russia, China, Ukraine, eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics.

Yemen receives assistance under several US-funded programs, including Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training, Non-Proliferation, Anti-terrorism and De-mining, and Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction.

But the proposed military aid to Yemen - all of it gratis - along with US arms supplies, is negligible compared with weapons, military training and technical expertise from non-US sources.

I think you know why I find it interesting. It’s never really about terrorism or human rights…basically it always boils down to: chase the money angle, strategic location for that money angle, and the resources bringing about that money. So who is next? My bet would be: CENTRAL ASIA. How about Iran? I’m sure we can arrange for some Al-Qaeda presence rumor over there, add some ‘concerns’ over human rights abuses, and maybe a little bit of war on drugs or something like that, and voila! You can read the piece here, and let me know what you think.

Speaking of Iran, this must be raising many flags within establishment quarters, and causing worryies over ‘what could be ours that seems to be becoming theirs’:

Russia, China, Iran redraw energy map

The inauguration of the Dauletabad-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline on Wednesday connecting Iran's northern Caspian region with Turkmenistan's vast gas field may go unnoticed amid the Western media cacophony that it is "apocalypse now" for the Islamic regime in Tehran.

The event sends strong messages for regional security. Within the space of three weeks, Turkmenistan has committed its entire gas exports to China, Russia and Iran. It has no urgent need of the pipelines that the United States and the European Union have been advancing. Are we hearing the faint notes of a Russia-China-Iran symphony?

The Turkmen-Iranian pipeline mocks the US's Iran policy. The US is threatening Iran with new sanctions and claims Tehran is "increasingly isolated". But Mahmud Ahmadinejad's presidential jet winds its way through a Central Asian tour and lands in Ashgabat for a red-carpet welcome by his Turkmen counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, and a new economic axis emerges. Washington's coercive diplomacy hasn't worked. Turkmenistan, with a gross domestic product of US$18.3 billion, defied the sole superpower (GDP of $14.2 trillion) - and, worse still, made it look routine.

There are subplots, too. Tehran claims to have a deal with Ankara to transport Turkmen gas to Turkey via the existing 2,577km pipeline connecting Tabriz in northwestern Iran with Ankara. Indeed, Turkish diplomacy has an independent foreign-policy orientation. Turkey also aspires to be a hub for Europe's energy supplies. Europe may be losing the battle for establishing direct access to the Caspian.

Read the article here.

Here is another one; this one on our consistent Modus Operandi:
US forges alliance with Saddam Hussein officers to fight al-Qaeda

American counter-terrorism specialists and Saddam Hussein's former intelligence officers have forged an unlikely alliance in Yemen to tackle al-Qaeda.

The two sides were enemies on the battlefield just seven years ago but have been brought together by the failings of Yemen's security and intelligence apparatus, according to diplomatic and military sources in the country.

Although mutual suspicions linger, the collaboration is said to have achieved some intelligence breakthroughs and helped instil greater efficiency and professionalism within the most elite Yemeni counterterrorism outfit.

Co-operation with the former Baathist officers, who fled Iraq in the wake of the US-led invasion and the fall of Saddam, is expected to grow further in the wake of the failed terror attack in the skies above Detroit.

I wonder how many express a ‘huh?!’ reaction…

Okay, here is something different, and if viewed from the appropriate angle it is sadly-comical:

EU nations divided on use of airport body scanners

Fearing a rift with the United States, the European Union said Thursday it may force resistant member states to use the full-body scanners being pushed by the Obama administration in the wake of the failed Christmas Day bombing.

Britain, the Netherlands and Italy already have joined Washington in announcing plans to install more of the devices — which can "see" through clothing — in the aftermath of the attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

But there are deep divisions among European nations, with countries such as Spain and Germany calling the scanners intrusive and a potential health risk.

And finally here is a well-written story about how our law enforcement agencies go about recruiting Muslim informants, and how they retaliate against those who refuse to be recruited:

Spy or Say Goodbye

After Imam Foad Farahi refused to become a federal informant, the government tried to destroy him.

For Farahi, an Iranian citizen who had lived in the United States for more than a decade, it was simply another month of Ramadan in Florida. Then, around 5 p.m., as he neared his apartment, he saw two men standing outside. They were waiting for him.

“We’re from the FBI,” one of the men said.

“OK,” he responded.

They wanted to know about José Padilla and Adnan El Shukrijumah, two South Florida men linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network. Padilla, the so-called “Dirty Bomber,” was arrested in May 2002 and initially given enemy combatant status. He eventually stood trial in Miami and was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Shukrijumah is a Saudi Arabian and an alleged al Qaeda member whose last known address was in Miramar. The FBI is offering up to $5 million for information leading directly to his capture.

“We want you to work with us,” Farahi remembers an agent telling him.

And this is when the imam’s five-year battle with the federal government began.

“I have no problem working with you guys or helping you out,” Farahi recalls telling them. He could keep them informed about the local Muslim community or translate Arabic. But the relationship, he insisted, would need to be public; others would have to know he was helping the government.

But that wasn’t what the FBI had in mind, Farahi says. The agents wanted him to become a secret informant who would investigate specific people. And they knew Farahi was in a vulnerable position. His student visa had expired, and he had asked the government for a renewal. He had also applied for political asylum, hoping one of those legal tracks would offer a way for him to stay in the United States indefinitely.

“We’ll give you residency,” the agents promised. “We’ll give you money to go to school.”

Farahi considered the offer for a moment and then shook his head.

“I can’t,” he told them.

Farahi soon discovered that the FBI’s offer wasn’t optional. The federal government used strong-arm tactics — including trying to have him deported and falsely claiming it had information linking him to terrorism — in an effort to force him to become an informant, he says.

The imam has resisted the government and took his political asylum case to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

“As long as you’re not a citizen, there are lots of things [the government] can do,” says Ira Kurzban, Farahi’s attorney. “They can allege you’re a terrorist and try to bring terrorist charges against you, or they can get you deported.”

This is an interesting story with many ramifications. I suggest you check it out here.

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  1. Here’s an article on the geopolitical import of the Yemeni conflict from William Engdahl. It’s a good read overall but I found this passing statement most interesting

    “As it is well-established that torture methods are worthless to obtain truthful confessions, some have speculated that the real goal of CIA and Pentagon interrogators at Guantanamo prison since September 2001, has been to use brutal techniques to train or recruit sleeper terrorists who can be activated on command by US intelligence, a charge difficult to prove or disprove. The presence of two such high-ranking Guantanamo graduates in the new Yemen-based Al Qaeda is certainly ground for questioning.”

    Here’s the overall summary:

    “An excuse for a US or NATO militarization of the waters around Bab el-Mandab [between Yemen, Eritrea, and Djibouti, would be] a major part of any future US strategy aimed at denying oil flows to China, the EU or any region . . . that opposes US policy. Given that significant flows of Saudi oil pass through [it] US . . . control there would serve to deter the Saudi Kingdom from becoming serious about transacting future oil sales with China or others no longer in dollars, as was recently reported by UK Independent journalist Robert Fisk.

    It would also be in a position to threaten China’s oil transport from Port Sudan on the Red Sea just north of Bab el-Mandab, a major lifeline in China’s national energy needs.”

  2. @Metern,

    I think it will be a while before these other countries come up with a “currency basket” to replace it. Yeah, the pundits love it because it fills up space and airtime. But what good would it do to implement that now?

    China holds the largest amount of foreign currency reserves. If you’re the Chinese govt., tell me one reason why you should dump your dollars right now:

    That means not buying U.S. debt.

    The global markets would crash. Is the yuan strong compared to the dollar? No.

    China has billions invested in infrastructure both in the States and elsewhere (esp. in Africa). And naturally there’s the we-are-superior double standard at work. We can let our bankers run wild globally with no consequences. Because that’s “capitalism”. But if the Chinese globally invest, they’re not allowed to do that. Not exactly the smartest thing to tell your creditor?

    Privately, the G-20 blissfully ignored this. And then other countries are privately pissed off at the States for causing this. And, if these other countries dumped the dollar, that would slow down China’s rapid growth rate. Which is the last thing the govt. wants for millions of people who are demanding a higher standard of living.

    If Obama really believes in a “global economy”, then:
    (a) Why are we the ONLY country allowed to have that?
    (b) Why shouldn’t China, India, South Africa or others have the same that we do?

    The answer? Our “right” to all the natural resources. We can pollute all we want. Corporate profit (which probably translates into shares owned by various members of Congress?).

    Obama keep selling “we must stop the terrorists”. Yet, we and the U.K. have been using terrorist attacks in Iran for quite some time now. But that’s ok, because they’re all terrorists anyway.

    Would Obama stop Israel from attacking Iran? I don’t think he would. Would this attack accomplish anything at all? No.

    I know this has been analyzed to death by the “crack MSM pundits”. But I’ll try again. The Democrats are counting on the public’s apathy AND the hardcore Obama fans to allow him to get away with this. Since he was sworn in, can you name ONE person that’s been sacked in everything that’s happened so far? I can’t. Harry Reid comes out with a blatantly racist statement about Obama. Now if we did that in the “real” world, we’d be on probation or possibly sacked. But because this is Inside the Beltway, logic doesn’t apply. So nobody will touch him. And he’ll probably get re-elected.

  3. How close are we to this happening? See for yourself:

  4. Bill Bergman says:

    Looking forward to Bill Weaver’s contributions.

    For those looking for an introduction, here’s a link to something he’s done on the ‘state secrets privilege,’ at


    … the abstract includes “This article seeks to explain the origins of the privilege and how the privilege was adapted to U.S. law. This adaptation was infelicitous in a number of respects, and courts, accountability, and the people of the United States have suffered needlessly because the law is now a servant to executive claims of national security.”

  5. @Bill: Thank you for providing the link!Weaver was writing on SSP and trying to raise awareness when others were hiding and afraid to touch the topic. In fact, that’s how I got to know him.

  6. camusrebel says:

    I’m excited to hear what Nafeez Ahmed has to say. His book, “War On Truth” is like my Bible. Explains how the whole phony war on terra was thought up in the late 70’s. It came out in 02, I think or early 03 and just DEMOLISHED

  7. camusrebel says:

    wow…not sure how that happened…long day

    DEMOLISHED the official fairy tale of how 911 went down. If you have not read it, put it on your list. Chock full of meticulously researched, mostly open source, gold….every page is like discovering buried treasure…just a phenomenal book.

  8. @T Yeah I know there are big problems with China dumping the dollar. I’ll just go ahead and admit that economics is one subject I’m fairly bad at presently so I don’t claim to understand all the intricacies but certainly in the long run a lot of countries would like to find a way to get rid of the dollar and even if the short run they might make limited individual transactions with the basket of alternative currencies. I’m not sure what effect, if any, this would have. But any way, even if it’s totally insane for them to dump the dollar that doesn’t mean we won’t take measures to drive that message home, and that’s all Engdahl needs. Anyhow, even if he’s wrong about that motivation overall he’s probably right about the geopolitical motivations at work.

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