Weekly Round Up for October 17

The ‘Obvious’ Silence of the Times, China’s Pipelineistan War, Mujahedin’s Penetration of Tajikistan

The other day our friend Metem brought to my attention a story that had made it to the Project Censored list, ‘US Funds & Supports Taliban.’ Here are two excerpts from the introduction which are related to our coverage of the mysterious helicopter activities in northern Afghanistan.

NYT1017In a continuous flow of money, American tax dollars end up paying members of the Taliban and funding a volatile environment in Afghanistan. Private contractors pay insurgents with the hope of attaining the very safety they are contracted to provide. Concurrently, US soldiers pay at checkpoints run by suspected insurgents in order to get safe passage. In some cases, Afghan companies run by former Taliban members, like President Hamid Karzai’s cousin, are protecting the passage of American soldiers. The funding of the insurgents, along with rumors of American helicopters ferrying Taliban members in Afghanistan, has led to widespread distrust of American forces. In the meantime, the US taxpayer’s dollar continues to fund insurgents to protect American troops so they can fight insurgents.

Ahmad Rate Popal is a grand example of how those who controlled Afghanistan under Taliban rule are still controlling Afghanistan today and being paid by US tax dollars. Popal, who served as interpreter at one of the ruling Taliban’s last press conferences, is greatly increasing his wealth through the US war in Afghanistan. In 1988, he was charged with conspiring to import heroin into the United States. He was released from prison in 1997. Popal’s cousin is Afghanistan’s President Karzai. Popal and his brother Rashid (who pleaded guilty in 1996 to a separate heroin charge) control the Watan Group in Afghanistan, which is a consortium engaged in many different fields of business. One of Watan’s enterprises is to protect convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies. Popal is one example of the virtual carnival of improbable characters and shady connections, with former CIA officials and ex-military officers in Afghanistan joining hands with former Taliban members and mujahideen to collect US government funds in the name of the war effort.

Okay, that’s what the article is about but it isn’t what got my attention. Here is what I’m getting at:

An example of these contracts are those granted to the NCL Holdings in Afghanistan run by Hamed Wardak, the young American son of Afghanistan’s current defense minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak. NCL is a small firm that was awarded a US military logistics contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite the fact that the firm only operates in Afghanistan, Wardak incorporated NCL in the United States early in 2007, due to his connections there.

On NCL’s advisory board is Milton Bearden, a well-known former CIA officer who in 2009 was introduced by Senator John Kerry as “a legendary former CIA case officer and a clearheaded thinker and writer.” Bearden is an incredible asset to a small defense contracting firm. Wardak was able to get a contract for Host Nation Trucking despite having no apparent trucking experience. The contract is aimed at handling the bulk of US trucking in Afghanistan, bringing supplies to bases and remote outposts throughout Afghanistan. At first the contract was small, but very quickly it expanded by 600 percent, making it a gargantuan contract worth $360 million. NCL had struck pure contracting gold. These profits, which only go to a very select and well-connected portion of the Afghan people, build a large amount of distrust from Afghan citizens toward American troops and those connected to them.

And, this is the part where Project Censored for whatever reason didn’t go one step further:

Since our initial search of corporate media coverage on this issue in February 2010, finding zero coverage at that time, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have covered part of the story on their front pages. Both mentioned President Hamid Karzai’s cousin, and both acknowledged that in all likelihood money is making its way to the Taliban. Neither paper mentioned the US connection, Milton Bearden. The Washington Post covered the story on March 29, 2010, and mentioned the Nation magazine article. The New York Times story came out on June 6, 2010, acknowledging the corruption, but included the news that President Obama was addressing the issue with President Karzai. That the two stories came out two months apart, and that the US links are left out, led to the decision at Project Censored to keep this important story in the top censored stories list for the year.

Way back when, I wrote a couple of pieces on a few of these personalities that have been totally, and intentionally, overlooked by the mainstream media and  the like. Do you remember our piece on General Wardak, his son Hamed Wardak, ex CIA operative with a fairly dubious history, and an ex- congressman in the ‘laundering’ business? Let me refresh your memory:

RittAs the bodies in Afghanistan are piling up and the number of wounded keeps escalating, while Washington is buzzing with the long-known but selectively-buried corrupt and criminal past and present of our installed government officials there, some are cashing in on both sides, and some are paving the way to the next pot(s) of gold reserved for carpetbaggers and war-profiteers in every war or conflict. In this game there always are a few known names and faces who are publicized and who draw the spotlight, and there are those who enjoy operating and profiting quietly without drawing deserved attention and needed scrutiny. That’s how Washington’s war and conflict machine works, and that’s’ the way our foreign policy decisions are influenced and made. I am going to introduce one such character as an introduction to my upcoming longer story on this same topic. Ladies and gentlemen please meet our Neocon Ex Congressman, Don Ritter, and be informed of his new lucrative ‘Laundering Business’ in Afghanistan.

Let’s go back to Mr. Ritter’s entrepreneurial ventures in Afghanistan. His self aggrandizing website has this to say:

“Don is the U.S. investor and Chairman of the U.S. – Afghan company that built and operates the most modern laundry and dry cleaning plant in the region to serve the population of Kabul and execute military and government contracts. He is also currently engaged in building a mountain lodge tourism industry in the Panjshir Valley, a mini-mill for steel products for the Afghan construction boom in Herat, a business development services company in Kabul and an Afghan-American prime contractor to compete for large construction contracts.”

For the real juice on Mr. Ritter’s business dealings, my highly informed sources point me to Afghanistan’s current Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. The Afghan diaspora in DC name Wardak as one of the key figures in the highly lucrative Poppy & heroin market; albeit in hushed voices. I can’t fathom the feasibility and profitability of a laundry and dry-cleaning business in Afghanistan owned and operated by a Neocon former congressman. What is Mr. Ritter ‘laundering?’

Please do me a favor and read the brief piece here

After that piece I wrote a much longer related piece (okay, much much longer; the usual ‘Sibel length’!) which introduced you further to General Wardak, his son-Hamed Wardak, and Ex CIA operative, Milton Bearden. Again, a few excerpts follow:

BeardOnce upon a time there was man named Milton Bearden, commonly referred to as Milt. He spent his early years in the state of Washington where his father worked on the Manhattan Project. After a few years with the US Air Force he joined the CIA in 1964.

Milt was CIA’s chosen man for their operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact, from 1986 to 1989, when our country was supporting the Mujahideen, he was one of their main men on the ground, working with this coalition of the Taliban, the Saudis and their main man Bin Laden, and the Pakistani ISI. The Director of the CIA, William Casey, was the one who appointed Milt Bearden for this task. Here is Milt’s own words describing his importance in a not very unusual ex-CIA conceited manner:

Milt’s cushy CIA retirement and all those glowing medals must not have been enough, for he then engaged in frenzied marketing and self promotion to get himself entrenched in almost all major US networks and newspapers as a consultant, writer, advisor, and of course as a trusted source - a CIA source to provide quotes and information for scripts at the snap of a finger. He coauthored a book with New York Times reporter James Risen called The Main Enemy. Whether this kind of business arrangement, where a commonly used source partners up with a reporter, presents a conflict of interest or even could be called incestuous, is everyone else’s call.

Most interestingly Mr. Bearden seemed to have lured in the American mainstream media by presenting himself as an outspoken critique of the Bush White House Intelligence policies after the September 11 terrorists’ attack. He suddenly became a major spokesperson on ‘how we created this monster called Osama Bin Laden,’ and the nasty radical Taliban. And the mainstream media couldn’t get enough of him. Ironically, he happened to be the man after William Casey and Neocons’ Jeane Kirkpatrick’s own hearts in creating the Bin Laden monster, bolstering the radical Taliban brand of Islamism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and kosherizing all dirty deeds as means to justify the end(s). He didn’t get those medals or promotions for nothing!

Our General Wardak disappeared from the Afghan scene at the beginning of the civil war in the 1990s. He brought his family to the United States where he settled comfortably with enough wealth from undetermined sources, and he enrolled his son, Hamed, in Georgetown University.

The Karzai brothers took a great interest in Wardak Junior, and he enjoyed the benefits of the Karzais’ flashy and high-flying friends. After the September 11 Terror Attacks, the Karzais made Hamed the Vice President of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce, which was founded by Mahmood Karzai. As I mentioned briefly in my piece, our Neocon Ex-Congressman Don Ritter happens to be the co-founder of this organization. Hamed was also appointed to an advisor’s post with President Karzai’s first Finance Minister, Ashraf Ghani. No small accomplishment for the barely 30 year old Hamed!

Hamed Wardak’s most productive venture in tapping into the US Defense Sector Pot(s) of Gold began with joining a Washington DC contracting firm, Technologists Inc., founded by Aziz Azimi, who happened to be a very close buddy of Qayum Karzai. Here is a further detail on this by e-Ariana:

“Hamed Wardak’s new alliances proved extraordinarily advantageous as George W. Bush launched his “war on terror,” particularly with Khalilzad and Strmecki enjoying direct access to Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office.”

Do you want to check out the kind of contracts, the kind of millions, we are talking about with Technologists Inc.? Here is one for you:

Technologists, Inc., Rosslyn, Va., was awarded on Jan. 5, 2009, a $96,090,519 firm fixed price contract for the construction of an Afghanistan National Police National Training Center. Work will be performed in Maydan Wardak, Afghanistan, and is expected to be completed by Mar. 31, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Oct. 1, 2008, and 13 bids were received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Afghanistan, is the contracting activity (W917PM-09-C-0005).

That’s right. Just one of these contracts is worth nearly $100 million for connected Afghan carpetbaggers cashing in on wars suffered by ordinary American tax payers and US soldiers.

Here is one of our characters who hasn’t made an appearance for several pages: Milt Bearden, the EX-CIA Rambo in Afghanistan in the 80s, the US media darling on Osama Bin Laden, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban…you name it, the shrewd self promoter with books and movies:

Milt Bearden must have been pretty familiar with our General Wardak since he was on the ground in Afghanistan serving his masters at the CIA and the Whitehouse, including the great advocator of ‘use any means,’ our Godmother of Neocons, Jeane Kirkpatrick. Operation Cyclone must certainly have brought him in contact with involved Taliban Generals, including our General, Osama Bin Laden, and other key ISI operators, and his dealings must certainly have included the major heroin operations tapped into to further fund these ‘freedom fighters.’ In fact, our Spook dealt extensively with Hekmatyar, who is considered one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Heroin Operator in Afghanistan - which supplies 90% of the world’s Heroin:

One U.S. official who had considerable dealings with Mr. Hekmatyar was Milt Bearden, who during the Soviet occupation ran the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's covert program in Afghanistan. He says Mr. Hekmatyar struck him as "quirky and paranoid."

Thus, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that our Ex-Spook took an interest in our General’s son, and translated this interest into a close business partnership when our young and chubby Hamed Wardak got closer and closer to big Pots of Gold in Washington DC and his father made it to the Defense Minister position in Afghanistan.

After Hamed Wardak left Technologists Inc. to go further in tapping the US Defense Contractor Gold Pots, and to set up various other front businesses in Afghanistan, many of which happen to be in security sectors, he formed a new front organization, Campaign for a US-Afghan Partnership. Guess who he appointed as the top man for the Board of this ambigious organization? That’s right, none other than our ex-spook, media supplier, Milton Bearden. Check out his glowing background listed on Hamed Wardak’s organization’s website: click here. What exactly this organization does, no one really knows, which should go as another credit to our Mr. Bearden’s CIA background in keeping things convoluted and secretive.

Rumors from the Ex-CIA community in the DC area point to another highly lucrative Wardak company paid by US tax payers, NCL, in Kabul, and hint that their buddy Milt may have been playing a major role there. Because of Mr. Bearden’s cozy relationships no one in the media has been looking for these deeper engagements and lucrative partnerships between him and Hamed Wardak.

You can read the entire piece on Bearden-Wardak and more here. Come on Project Censored! Why not talk about this ex spook’s intimate relationship with the New York Times?! Not only has he been their revered source, but he is the partner of their top reporter. How could James Risen partner up with him (financially, in the publicity arena…), and still he and others use Bearden as their valued source and in many cases as their only source?! As for The Washington Post: this would fall within the coverage area of our infamous Walter Pincus. Yes, I’m talking about the long ago exposed Pincus from Operation Mockingbird, and the father of Pincus Junior who happens to be an attorney for the infamous Black Water (aka XE and several other nicknames).

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Operation Tajikistan

OpTajLast week I wrote a piece on the latest developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus which briefly covered the  Mysterious Helicopter Activities in Northern Afghanistan. Using a tad of common sense we checked out the strategically important neighbors in this region where these officially denied (vehemently, that is) mysterious activities took place, and one of the three countries of interest was Tajikistan. Here are a few related articles dealing with our topic and Tajikistan.

Also last week Asia Times ran the following convoluted piece on Tajikistan. The piece is filled with speculations, interpretations, and even wild guesses:

Tajikistan struggles to quell militants

As Tajik government forces continue a security sweep to crush armed groups in the eastern mountains after losing 25 soldiers in an ambush, analysts are divided on the reasons for this resurgence in militant activity.

Enquiries by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) indicate that the resistance is coming from local paramilitary forces led by guerrilla leaders from Tajikistan's 1992-97 civil war.

Claims by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, IMU, a militant group allied with the Taliban, that it was behind the attack are probably not entirely accurate but may contain a grain of truth, as the IMU has contacts with the Tajik groups and may have sent emissaries to encourage them to rise up.

And here is another opinion: [Read more...]

China-Turkmenistan Score: Another Wave of US-Mujahideen Contracts?

Extreme Competitions May Bring More Familiar Extreme Measures

pipeHere is one of the latest on China-Turkmenistan Pipeline deals:
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has announced the discovery of yet another gas field on the right bank of the Amu Darya River in Turkmenistan, holding in excess of 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas.
Separately, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow inaugurated a new compressor station at the Bagtiyarlyk fields, estimated by Chinese engineers to hold 1.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

These fields feed the Turkmenistan-China pipeline, which traverses Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and was opened in December 2009 with a projected capacity of 40 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) by 2015, with some of that volume being consumed in southern Kazakhstan. (See Gas pipeline gigantism

, Asia Times Online, July 17, 2008.)

In June this year, Ashgabad and Beijing agreed to increase Turkmen exports to China above the agreed level; the new compressor station will eventually raise the existing capacity to 22 bcm/y from the 6 bcm/y estimate of Chinese consumption of Turkmenistan-sourced gas for 2010.

This development is only one of a continuing series of events confirming the implementation of Turkmenistan's energy reorientation away from Russia. (See Tectonic shift under way in Turkmen gas, Asia Times Online, May 28, 2010.) Thus a series of meetings among heads of government in the margins of the UN General Assembly Meeting in New York last month has continued to accelerate movement in the direction of seeking to realize the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan

-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline.

Reports in the Indian press over the past month indicate that New Delhi is now following through strongly on its earlier expression of interest. Most interesting is the report that the four partners are seeking to recruit a major international energy firm to discuss costs in greater detail, with a view towards actual construction. The name, or even the nationality, of this firm has not even been hinted at openly.

           

Okay, you can read the rest here.

stateAs we all know the Cold war may be over, kinda, but not the fierce competition over natural resources. And the new battle grounds?  Forget the Old Middle East; I am talking about the New Energy Territories. I am going to use the following introduction paragraph from an article published by Central Asia- Caucasus Institute:

The U.S. has started to formulate and implement more comprehensive policies for Central Asia. The deepening involvement in the war in Afghanistan is the principal, but not sole cause for this policy initiative. Russia’s attempts to impose its hegemony upon Central Asia and oblige the U.S. to recognize it have triggered a reaction in Washington. Likewise, China’s completion of the pipeline to Turkmenistan and major investment projects in Central Asia forced the U.S. to devise new ways to enhance its energy and economic profile there as well. As a result, in early 2010, we now see the elements of a new and stronger policy initiative towards Central Asia.

The above paragraph, the introduction, is the only frank and sound point made in the article. Without going into the typical bologna-ridden point-making fluff used in the rest of the piece I’ll have you jump to the summation of their ‘analysis’:

CONCLUSIONS: The Obama Administration has evidently decided to make an important policy stand in Central Asia beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, it is likely to invest more high-level political resources there and actively promote expanded economic ties between the U.S. and Central Asian states. While those governments will undoubtedly welcome this support and investment of those resources because they add to their room for maneuver among their neighboring great powers, Russia and China will obviously strive to minimize the U.S. presence, thrust, and impact. But they will also simultaneously be competing against each other; a fact that can only contribute to the greater independence and freedom of action of Central Asian states, a primary goal of U.S. policy. To the extent that the U.S. deems it necessary to expand its presence in Central Asia to shore up its campaign in Afghanistan it will in many ways, both foreseen and possibly unforeseen, contribute to the ability of these states to stand on their own feet, an outcome that is necessary both in regard to the threat of terrorism emanating from Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their affiliates, and also in regard to the threat to their effective independence coming from Moscow and/or Beijing.

You see we have two types of foreign policies when it comes to our pursuit of badly needed resources and crucial delivery arteries in our intended regional colonies:

1- The Written Policies (above example): to be used and promoted as marketing tools, yet to remain only as melodically written policy literature. This is where you hear phrases like cooperation on security and against terrorism, or better, democratization.

2- The Unwritten and Unspoken Policies: to be secretly, vigorously, and ferociously practiced and implemented, under the self-created carte blanche ‘The End Justifies the Means’

Think about it, wasn’t this how we carried out almost all our foreign policies during the Cold War? And what’s the difference now? The same competition, only now three-way, and the same objectives regardless of the fluffy and phony descriptions used in the ’written policies.’ 

Based on our consistent and ‘known’ history, my bet goes to the following predictions when it comes to our real foreign policy measures and responses to the latest developments on the Central Asia-Caucasus front: [Read more...]