via twitter @
see ya !
by Lars Schall April 15, 2015
“Visas for Al Qaeda” author J. Michael Springmann talks to Lars Schall on the CIA’s role at the State Department’s visa bureau in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
In this exclusive Foreign Policy Journal interview, German journalist Lars Schall talks with J. Michael Springmann, the former head of the U.S. visa bureau in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and author of the book Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World. Michael Springmann served in the United States government at the Commerce Department and as a diplomat with the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service, with postings in Germany, India, and Saudi Arabia. He left federal service and currently practices law in the Washington, DC, area. He holds a JD from American University, in Washington, DC, as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in international relations from Georgetown University and the Catholic University of America. In 2004, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee recognized Springmann as one of its Pro Bono Attorneys of the Year. In February 2015 he published Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World at Daena Publications.
Lars Schall: Mike, you’ve published a book recently, and its title is, “Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World.” The book deals with your personal experiences as the chief of the visa section at the US Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. First of all, how did you end up there?
Michael Springmann: Well, that’s what I sort of wondered myself: when I joined the State Department after assignments with the Foreign Commercial Service and the State-Commerce Exchange Program which provided Washington assignments for State Department officials and foreign assignments for civil servants at the Commerce Department, we were bidding on various positions around the world based on our knowledge, our experience, our language skills, and so forth, and I picked a number of places, East Berlin was one of them, some places in Africa and in India, and I don’t know where else, but Saudi Arabia was never on my list of places I wanted to be sent. And yet, the day they were passing out the assignments I was given the green flag of Saudi Arabia and traveled there as the chief of the visa section at the American General Consulate in Jeddah in the Hejaz in Western Saudi Arabia. And when I asked the guy who was running the educational program called A-100, which introduced new Foreign Service officers to the State Department and the rest of the American government, I said, John Tacik, what exactly was going on, because I’ve been told by my career development officer the woman who supposedly would guide my career at the State Department that I was going to be sent to East Berlin, because the European bureau wanted me there. And the way the State Department works, the European bureau is primus inter pares: what the European bureau wants the European bureau gets. So I was flabbergasted. And he didn’t know either. I went to one of the people who conducted some of these educational sessions, whose name regrettably I don’t remember, and asked him. Well, he said, they wanted someone a little bit older, they wanted someone with commercial experience, Jeddah is a major mercantile hub in the kingdom, and they thought you would be perfect for the job. That didn’t answer my question and probably raised a few more so that I would later wonder about that answer.
LS: Actually you ended up there in Jeddah. What happened when you worked there as the chief of the visa section at the US Consulate between 1987 and 1989?
JMS: Let me tell you, giving you some background on this, I was in language training in Arabic and area studies, learning about what Saudi Arabia and the Middle East is like, giving you background on culture and things like this and I get a call from one of the State Department’s desk officers for Saudi Arabia, these are people that follow the political, economic, commercial, and social interest in a country to kind of, they kind of like ambassadors from the host country to Washington, they interpret the given country to the rest of the State Department, and the guy said, the American ambassador Walter Cutler was in town and did I want to want to meet him and I said, yes, sure. And I figured, it just was a hello and good bye session that would last about five minutes, Hi, I get to go to Jeddah, join your official family and so forth. Well, he kept me there for 45 minutes, talking about all the problems my predecessor Greta Holtz had created for the embassy in Riyadh. She was not issuing visas to servants of all these rich Saudi women who couldn’t travel without hair dressers and seamstresses and other factotums. And I figured, when he was doing this for 45 minutes, he was telling me something, but I had no idea, what the message was and when I asked the guy, the desk officer who sat in the meeting with me what this was about and he said, well I don’t know, Cutler was just a queer duck. Well, I got the job and I was welcomed with open arms. I had previously written my predecessor Greta Holtz, and she never responded to any of the three letters I had sent her asking about the job, what it was like in the consulate, what is was like living in Saudi Arabia and I am welcomed with open arms by Consul General Jay Freres, the Political Officer Henry Ensher and I was told, Oh you are such an improvement on Greta and she was a real bitch, she was nothing but a trouble maker, we are glad you are here. And I said, oh, Greta,you sure made my day, you sure made my career. And after a while I was refusing visas because the idea underlying law and regulation in the United States is that, someone applying for a visa has to be considered an intending immigrant, unless and until he can prove otherwise and the burden of proof is on him, you’ve got to show ties, like a job or property or family or you are going to class at a university or something. So, these were people that had no real job, no real existence in Saudi Arabia, and in fact one of them, a Sudanese guy was a refugee from Sudan and unemployed in Saudi Arabia and I refused these characters and Freres and other people would round on me and demand to know why I said that they can’t have a visa and I said, they have no ties, as law and regulations says they must. And it got to where they were telling me to do this and it’s your decision, if you want to keep your job in the State Department, you will issue the visa to this particular person. In the case of the Sudanese guy for example, Henry Ensher’s successor, Karen Sasahara, wanted the visa but wouldn’t tell me why. So she went to the head of the consular section, Justice (given name) Stevens, and got the visa issued. I asked Justice afterwards, well, what was it that she needed the visa for and he then says, national security, which has no real meaning and he wouldn’t go any further. There were two other people, they were, I think Pakistanis, then going to an American trade show but couldn’t name the trade show and didn’t know what city it was going to be held in and I refused them. I quickly got a call from Paul Arvid Tveit, demanding I issue the visas. Tveit is listed on namebase.org as a CIA official and is now living as a retired person in Virginia; he went to Justice Stevens after arguing with me about it and again got these guys visas and this is, you know, the kind of microcosm that went on for the 18 months I was there. It was a daily battle. And when it talked to Jean Bradford, she was the head of the Citizen Services branch of the consulae section dealing with Americans needing passports or being jailed or something like this, oh, she says, Jay Freres, he just likes giving candy to babies, which again was no real answer.
LS: Okay, so you opposed this and how did that play out?
JMS: So, I went to Justice about this and he said, well, you know, keep quiet and issue the visas. I went to Stephanie Smith, whom namebase.org also says worked for the CIA, she was the Counselor for Consular Affairs in Riyadh and I told her about this and she says, well, it really is bad, you should talk to the Bureau of Consular Affairs the next time you go to Washington. And she didn’t come down but sent one of her people Bob Mustain down to talk about this and they actually wouldn’t do anything about it. And when they had an inspection team come out, these are people that are sent by the inspector general’s office to make sure, that the various Foreign Service posts are well managed, well organized, operating according to law and regulation, this guy – what’s his name now, I can’t remember, it’s in the book… (Joseph P. O’Neill). He came to me and said, look, you know that this is going on. Can you tell me about the problem with the visas and I said, well, I was told by a good contact, Nestor Martin, not to talk to the inspection team, of course if I did, I would be fired and the guy, O’Neill, the inspector said, well, I know all about this and told me things I hadn’t known myself and said, come on, tell me, tell me, I’ll protect you, I mean this is confidential, it’s just like talking to a priest, like talking to an attorney, you know, I am silent on this, so eventually after an hour he wore me down and I told him, and then Freres wrote me this vicious efficiency report right afterwards, that would almost guarantee that I would be thrown out of the Foreign Service. And O’Neill had a very peculiar background, he had his own problems with the inspection corps, according to an interview with Georgetown University’s Oral Diplomatic History Project, he said that he had gotten his job in Khartoum, in the Sudan as Deputy Chief of Mission, Deputy Ambassador, though Frank Wisner of the famous CIA family and I thought this was peculiar. And I learned later on, that O’Neill had been Deputy Chief of Mission when the blind Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman got his visa to come to the United States through one of the CIA officials working undercover in the consular section. He also mentioned in the report to Georgetown that another CIA agent also got a free pass/visa to come to the States, but he didn’t say anymore about it. He had also been assigned to Teheran, when the Iranian students took over the embassy the first time, and while he was there, according to the interview with Georgetown, he worked to help the Israeli embassy evacuate their staff, but he opposed evacuating the American embassy and in fact fought with the Political Section, who wanted to contact Washington and say, we really need to evacuate the embassy, or we are going to have some real political problems with Iran. And I wrote him later on, when he was Consul General at Bermuda but he never explained what went on in Jeddah and he went on to various assignments, after he retired from the Foreign Service, in Central Asia. Apparently he was working with the Arab Afghans then and he seemed to be defending them in Jeddah, I guess. So I have written to people in Jeddah, I have written to Jay Freres, to Henry Ensher, to Andy Weber who was a supposed part time consul officer in the visa section, he is now Assistant Secretary of Defense for a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons. I have written to Greta Holtz, my predecessor, who is now the American ambassador to Oman; and Ensher is also American ambassador to Algeria. All these people never responded. I have written to Justice Stevens and all he ever said was there was no real problem with visas in Jeddah, which was basically not true.
LS: To make a long story short, you ultimately lost your job.
JMS: That’s right.
LS: What was the reason, you tried to find out?
JMS: Well, they never told me. I tried under the Freedom of Information Act to find out why and asked for all the documents, connected to my service with the State Department in particular why I was fired and all I ever got was travel orders, copies of pay stubs, copies of efficiency reports that I already had, and I kept going back to them saying, this is what I want, I don’t need pay stubs, I need the deliberations of the tenuring board, I need the explanation of why I supposedly didn’t measure up to the rest of the people in the State Department, including, you know, the trouble-maker Greta Holtz, who was thoroughly despised, I was told by State Department officials, and I never got a response. So I sued them, in 1992/1993 thereabouts and never got anything, all I got was more useless paper, nothing substantial and eventually this judge, Harold H. Green, who supposedly was a refugee from Nazi Germany, he sealed my law suit as a threat to national security and I have never been able to figure out why finding out why you were fired is a threat to national security. After some time I asked for what I probably should have asked at the beginning – for any copies of all these visa applications that I had denied and that Freres and others had approved, this is something I made copies of when I was in Jeddah and neglected to take with me and I found out later, that these copies has somehow mysteriously been destroyed, they were shredded. So I said, I want these, there are copies, the State Department keeps copies, they are supposed to get rid of them yearly, but while I was in Jeddah, we had filing cases bulging with old visa application, 5, 10, maybe 15 years old and nobody had shredded them, even though they were required to and my staff said, Mike, we have two choices, we can work for you and deal with the hundred or two hundred people who apply for a visa every day, process the paper work, do the name checks on them with Washington, or we can shred visa applications, what do you want us to do? We can’t do both. So I told this to the court, I put this in an affidavit, once they kept insisting that the visas were gone and it was ignored, in fact, the judge asked me to give him the names of the 45.000 applicants a year for the visas, which was absolute nonsense. So I then asked the State Department, alright, you shredded the visas, when were they shredded, who did that, what were their names, what was their rank and so forth. I never got anything back other than, we shredded them, it was done according to regulations, that’s all we can tell you. And as Nick Pope, this British Ministry of Defense official remarked one time, in a big organization you can always lose something, something is misfiled, whatever, but when you are dealing with national security issues, when you are dealing with government agencies, dealing with foreign affairs, this doesn’t happen and if it does, then there is something really strange going on.
LS: In you book you suggested, the US Consulate in Jeddah was in fact a CIA base…
JMS: Oh, it was, it was…
LS: Yes, tell us please, what points in that direction?
JMS: Sure. The consulate had 20 Americans assigned there and of the 20 Americans thereabouts, there were only three people, including myself, that I knew for a certainty to have no ties with any government intelligence service, either as a staff member or a family member. Lonnie Washington was the only State Department communicator and Jim Page, an administrative officer were the only guys in the administrative section, I thought worked for State.
LS: Yes, and how was there the suspicion that the other guys were working on a different payroll?
JMS: I mean Jay Freres for example, the East German Journalist Julius Mader had written that he (Freres) worked for the CIA. one retired European diplomat wasn’t quite sure but he says, if Freres didn’t work for the Agency (CIA), he was what you call I guess a fellow traveler, somebody who did the CIA’s bidding.
LS: And the State Department is used to give the CIA or NSA agents cover?
JMS: Yes, I mean you had, you know, Eric Qualkenbush, the CIA base chief there in Jeddah, he was, his cover was head of the Political/Economic section. Henry Ensher and Karen Sasahara I am pretty sure, worked for the CIA, and Qualkenbush one time took me aside on the compound and said, Mike, we’ve got this Iranian agent we want in Washington, we really need him there for consultations, make it look good, wink wink, he is coming in for his interview tomorrow. Well, I was surprised at this and when the Iranian guy came to the visa window, he had been to the United States various times before, he had always come back, he had stamps in the passport to prove it, he had a letter showing that he was an official with this oriental rug company in Jeddah, it was a family owned business, he had a list of people he was going to visit in the United States as potential customers or as old customers, he wanted to consult with. It was basically a clean interview and he answered all my questions to my satisfaction and I thought, Geez, give me more people like him and to this day, I have no idea why Qualkenbush didn’t tell me about the other people that were being sent to me. It would have been a lot simpler, a lot easier and at the time I was dumb enough to probably have said, alright, you want to recruit these guys for the Afghan war against the Soviets, I work for the American government, you work for the American government, I trust my government, I issue the visas, well they never did. I don’t know if this was stupidity, bureaucracy or they thought I have been told what was going on by Walter Cutler in Washington and I just simply refused to get along with the program, I have no idea.
LS: What did you learn about the whole operation in Jeddah later on and how?
JMS: Sure. Well, later on, I was floundering, trying to find a job, I was unemployed for three years and eventually found out I had been blackballed by the State Department, but I was researching an article I was trying to get published on the Middle East and ran across this journalist Joe Trento, who is in Washington, follows national security issues and has written a couple of books on it, and Joe found out that I had been in Jeddah and when I was in Jeddah what I had been doing, and wanted to talk to me and I went and saw him in his office. And he said, well you know, what you were doing, you were a patsy, one of the ones they sent out from Washington hoping that nobody would ask questions and give a free pass to all these recruits for the Mujahedeen to fight the Soviets. And I was like, really, and he said, look at it this way, you refused all these people that didn’t have any ties with their own country or Jeddah and yet you were ordered to issue the visas, then your refusals were overturned illegally because the consular officer generally has the last word on who gets a visa. He said, what would happen, if somebody came to you with a clean passport? And I thought oh, yes, like the Iranian agent, Eric Qualkenbush had sent me, and I said, I would have given them a visa, if they came to me with a clean passport, with no questionable answers to my questions, with enough documentation to show me what they are doing and why they are going to the United States, I’d give them a visa.
LS: Now, for what kind of purposes were those visas used?
JMS: Well, according to Joe, these guys came to the United States for training or orientation or debriefings or whatever and then they were sent back to Afghanistan. In the course of researching the book, I found out that there were some ten thousand of these people that came here and they were given training at the CIA’s facility called “The Farm” in Williamsburg, Virginia and also in North Carolina at Navy training facilities. Additionally in the course of researching the book, I found out through this book by Peter Bergen, “The Osama Bin Laden I Knew,” that there were 52 recruiting offices in the United States, including Washington DC, that got Arabs and Arab Americans either to contribute money for the war in Afghanistan or to be recruited and trained and then sent to fight as a Mujahideen.
LS: Yes. And now related to the time frame, when you were working at the US Consulate in Jeddah, I think we need to say that the Afghan Arabs were used after the war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, inside of the USSR…
LS: …and then after it collapsed in 1991 they were used in the Central Asian Republics and in the war in former Yugoslavia. JMS: Yes. A lot of this is covered, besides my own research, by that of Peter Dale Scott, who wrote the book, “The Road to 9/11”, he talked a lot about this and also this guy John Schindler, who wrote “Unholy Terror,” and Schindler is kind of a neo-con and kind of a right-winger and kind of a government supporter but in his book he goes into great detail about bringing these guys to fight in Yugoslavia.
LS: And we also need to say, that those guys were trained in the US during the 1990s?
LS: And this is no conspiracy theory?
JMS: No, I don’t think so. I mean, Michael Parenti the historian and professor says if you define conspiracy as secret activities perpetrated by a government and then covered up and what they are covering up is essentially illegal, then there are conspiracies aplenty, like Richard Nixon and Watergate, like Iran Contra, like the issues of the Bay of Pigs, where supposedly it was just dissatisfied Cuban immigrants who wanted to fight Castro, yes, there are a lot of conspiracies. There was this one guy, John Judge, who died recently, he was quoted the other night as saying that he was called the conspiracy theorist and he said, his critics were simply coincident theorists, so…
LS: Did the US consulate in Jeddah play a role regarding the hijackers of the 9/11 attacks?
JMS: Well, according to the Los Angeles Times and I threw the clipping away that I was sent and I can’t find it on the website, but 15 of the 19 hijackers got their visas in Jeddah [Editor’s note: Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers obtained visas in Saudi Arabia, eleven from Jeddah and four from Riyadh (Mary Beth Sheridan, “15 Hijackers Obtained Visas in Saudi Arabia”, Washington Post, October 31, 2001; Page A10.)], and in researching the book, I found out that the woman who did this was Shayna Steinger, S-T-E-I-N-G-E-R, and she was hired directly out of Columbia University with a master’s degree as an FSO4, which is a very high rank for somebody right out of school with no background, experience, or training. And she was supposed to have given very questionable answers to the 9/11 commission investigating what went on in Jeddah, yet she still has a job and she’s gotten promotions from what I have been told.
LS: And after 9/11 you tried to talk with the FBI about it. To what success?
JMS: When I came back to Washington, I had been fired before 2001, I tried talking to the Justice Department about this and got nowhere and then after 9/11 Joe Trento said, why don’t you call the FBI and tell them what you know. So I did. I called the main office and was passed from bureau to bureau to bureau and finally said, well, you need to call our Washington Field Office, which I did. I called and was told that somebody would get back to me. And now, I guess it’s 14 years later, I am still waiting to be called.
LS: Was 9/11 a blowback or something very different?
JMS: I don’t think it was blowback. Initially I thought, okay, these were people the CIA had recruited and hadn’t bothered to share their travel plans with their masters but the more I’ve read, the more I’ve seen and especially this great silence I had encountered from everybody involved with the affair in Jeddah, I have concluded that it was more of a real operation, designed to get the Americans more deeply involved in the Middle East than they had before. I mentioned on a Canadian Broadcasting System program, which interviewed me in late 2001, early 2002, on their show called “Dispatches” and I said, you know, it was cheap for the United States, there were 3000 killed in it, you know, that’s what was killed at Pearl Harbor and that got the Americans involved in the war against Germany and Japan. This has gotten the United States bases in the Middle East, they didn’t have before, more money and more intelligence assets in the Middle East, greater and deeper involvement in the governments and cultures and societies in those countries. So I would like to think that it was a calculated deal, worked with the CIA and the State Department to get these guys into the US and the US into this and get the Americans back into the Middle East fighting an evil enemy. The Soviet Union, the Axis of Evil, the original Axis of Evil I guess, had collapsed years before, in December 1991 and the Americans didn’t have any enemies anymore, who are they going to fight, the Vatican? So you’ve got a huge military industrial complex, that eats up a lot of money, a huge intelligence system, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and a bunch of other organizations, you know, how can they justify their annual budget, so they needed enemies. And in John Schindler’s book “Unholy Terror”, he draws links between the guys the Americans trained to fight in Afghanistan and in Bosnia, in the former Yugoslavia, to the September 11 hijackers, he names the guys who were planners, who were pilots, who were somehow involved in the operation.
LS: As you know, there is, as the New York Times reported “(a) still-classified section of the investigation by congressional intelligence committees into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks (that) has taken on an almost mythic quality over the past 13 years — 28 pages that examine crucial support given the hijackers and that by all accounts implicate prominent Saudis in financing terrorism.” (1) – Now, what are your thoughts on this whole question?
JMS: Well, the United States likes to classify things, so when I was in Jeddah, the price of liquor at the consulate was classified confidential, which is defined as the disclosure of which would seriously harm the foreign relations of the United States.
JMS: So they classify all kinds of crazy things. They also classified part of the inspector’s report on Jeddah when I was there, which is very peculiar, the communicator Lonnie Washington stated he had never seen that before. So with the 28 pages that are classified, it’s either for a frivolous reason and they can simply stop the controversy by declassifying them or they classified it for a serious reason because it shows connections with the Saudis and maybe some Israeli operatives working in collusion with parts of the American government to bring about the September 11 attacks. We don’t know and we won’t know until these people give up all the information. And, as far as I am concerned, as regards classified information, most of it is classified that doesn’t need to be classified and in many instances should never been classified. You know, I say, that the intelligence has a half-life of maybe six months and after that, you know, you can learn about it and nobody is going to die from it. I’ll give you an example, my last assignment at State was at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and there we read the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, we had access to restricted CIA reporting, restricted State Department reporting, National Security Agency intercepts and at the time they had the peculiar coup in the Soviet Union in, I guess about 1991, I was comparing what was published in the daily newspapers, in the wire service reports with what was highly classified, you know, secret and above, that was being reported by the State Department, the CIA and the NSA, and the only difference I could see between the two was in the government reporting, they name names and organizations. So that shows you how classification really works against your own interest many times.
LS: And isn’t it interesting, that in a democracy the citizen is not allowed to see certain things that he pays for?
JMS: Oh, that’s exactly right. I mean the Freedom of Information Act was opposed from the beginning by the executive branch. Lyndon Johnson, the president at the time threatened to veto it, the Justice Department always opposed it, and the law was very clear, you are allowed to see any document produced by the United States government as long as somehow it doesn’t involve an ongoing police investigation, is involved in agency decision making, because they want the freedom to be able to make decision without somebody looking over their shoulder, or something dealing with foreign affairs that can generally be classified as national security. And you are allowed to find out what records the government holds on you as well, through the Privacy Act. And in practice it is not the law of the land. If you want to find out about the nesting sites of spotted owls as the Audubon Society once did, they sued the United States government and won but in the case of me or other people who tried to find out what was really going on, they are not going to tell you and they will stonewall you because they have more time, more lawyers and more money than you do.
LS: Is al Qaeda some kind of useful idiot in a greater geopolitical scheme? I mean, you write in your book quite explicitly, and I quote now: “The international terrorists the United States recruited for wars in Afghanistan and Bosnia thirty-odd years ago are still involved in the fighting elsewhere today. Bosnia wasn’t the only place those saddle tramps and gunslingers were employed. The visas the State Department issued to them then are now tied to the current administration’s continuing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The fanatics I saw get travel papers during my time at Jeddah are either directly involved in or trained those directly involved in fighting US forces today.” (2) Therefore, is the whole “War on Terror” a fraud?
JMS: I agree with every word on that. I would say, they were useful, I won’t say, they were idiots, they are probably not as well organized as the United States Marine Corps but they have been carefully groomed and trained and aimed, maybe they are they are not like rifle shots where they can hit a bulls eye at a thousand yards, they are more like a shot gun, that you fire, scatter things around and blow things up and hit things you are not aiming at, but ya, they were fed and trained and armed and financed and if they are not working 20 years later, they probably trained people who are. I talked to a retired Colonel Shaffer, who had spent a lot of time with Defense Intelligence in Central Asia including Afghanistan, and I asked him specifically, are these guys that the Americans are now fighting, were these tied to the same people that were fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, he said, yes, it’s either them or the people they themselves trained. I brought the same question to former US Senator Mike Gravel from Alaska and he said, yes, essentially the same thing, it’s these guys are there and they are America’s creatures, they may not be under direct control but they are controlled and they are useful to American purposes, which is essentially to keep the Middle East totally out of control to eliminate any kind of threat in Israel by splitting Iraq into pieces, they haven’t quite succeeded yet, but it’s only a matter of time I think, until they get the north away and then I think the whole country will come to unravel but Iraq no longer is a functional viable country, it’s a failed state. They have done the same thing to Afghanistan and they have done it to Syria. Syria still has a functioning government of sorts, but the country is so ravaged, I am always sorry when I was in Syria, that I didn’t see more of the country than I did because other than, maybe, downtown Damascus, the rest of the country has been destroyed by the Americans and these people they recruited, like the al-Nusra Front, which the State Department lists as a terrorist organization, yet the American government supports and trains and arms them. So, yes, I mean they are useful, they are not idiots, these are the same guys that fought in the Muslim republics on the other side of the Amu Darya River and they fought in Yugoslavia, they fought in Libya, they fought in Iraq and they are fighting in Syria.
LS: Has the main stream press shown some interest in your story?
JMS: Oh no. When I came back, I called around, I called the Washington Post, I had an interview one time with the Los Angeles Times, after September 11th, and basically nobody is interested, nobody writes about it, except George Gedda from the Associated Press, and he spun the article, saying that I had written an article that appeared Covert Action Quarterly which was a questionable publication and he added a sentence in there, that, well, the State Department said that Mike Springmann doesn’t have the last word, the consular officer has the last word, well I was the consular officer and only people with more information than I had and who had a consular commission could overrule me and then they had to write an official report about the visa that was denied and then approved. So nobody wants to hear about this. I get interviews with CBC for example, RAI in Italy interviewed me one time but the interest is mostly outside of the United States, Giulietto Chiesa had me interviewed for his movie “Zero”. I have gotten interviews for RT, I have just given one, last Friday, at their Washington studio, translated into Arabic and put it up on their Arabic service just a couple days ago. But the Washington Post, NBC, CBS, CNN, they won’t touch you with a ten foot pole or a 12 foot Hungarian.
LS: And why?
JMS: Because they are in bed with the government. The former CIA official, Ray McGovern calls them the fawning corporate media, there are only three or four, at the most five owners of news media in the United States, they want to keep their good relations with the government, they want to keep the good relations with their advertisers, they don’t want to offend their corporate sponsors or their corporate owners and they ignore anything that smacks of criticism of the government. I in fact, a week or so ago, in fact, it was last Friday, I was in the dentist’s office waiting for a tenant to come out, he was having his teeth worked on. I spent about two hours watching CNN in the lobby and they were talking about the Iraqi government and its army fighting ISIS or IS or whatever they are calling it these days and they went on and on and on about the Iraqi army and how good they were and they were talking about everything except the general geopolitical situation in the area, why is Iraq supposedly fighting these people, what happened to Iraq, what happened to the government, why was the government destroyed in 1991, in 2003 and they just simply ignore the basics and give you basically cotton candy.
(1) See Carl Hulse: “Claims Against Saudis Cast New Light on Secret Pages of 9/11 Report”, published at The New York Times, February 4, 2015 under: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/us/claims-against-saudis-cast-new-light-on-secret-pages-of-9-11-report.html?_r=0 A few sentences from the article by Carl Huse: “Demands for the release of the 28 pages began soon after the intelligence committees finished their work. In 2003, more than 40 senators called on Mr. Bush to order the material’s disclosure. He refused, saying ’we won’t reveal sources and methods that will compromise our efforts to succeed’ in fighting terrorism. The Saudi government has also said it favored making the 28 pages public because that would make it easier to refute what it said were unfounded allegations. The embassy said Wednesday that it stood by that position.” (2) J. Michael Springmann: “Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World”, Daena Publications, 2015, pp. 212 – 213.
English translation of recorded conversation between Turkish Foreign Minister, Chief of Intelligence, Deputy Chief of General Staff, and Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs about massive military aid to jihadist terrorists in Syria, black ops, and war plans to invade Syria, as well as the general disarray and goofiness in Erdogan’s Islamic dictatorship.
Erdogan and his corralled media have branded all those who distribute this video as traitors. That we are, traitors to his phenomenally profitable bribes and corruption business fueled by Gulf money that he reels in thanks to the heads he has chopped off in Syria.
If it gets banned on you tube, here it is on Vimeo
The target of stray bullets and shells coming from Syria, the small Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar has also turned into a hub for Islamist militants – allegedly backed by Ankara.
(Note: Pic not avaliable due to Copyright.)
From Nevroz Algiç’s restaurant one can taste the spicy local food while enjoying the best views over the front line, literally across the street. The fighting is so close that gunfire can still be heard over the arabesque music blaring out of the loudspeakers.
Located 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southeast of Ankara, Ceylanpinar was once known for its gigantic agricultural complex. However, this city with a population of 40,000 is now yet another victim of the Syrian war. Since October 2012, four residents have been killed and dozens have been wounded by stray bullets, mortars and rockets.
“Before the new teachers would eat here and stay in this guesthouse but none of them wants to come here now. No one knows when the shooting will start or when will it finish,” Algiç tells DW. The bullet holes on these walls are a stark reminder of what’s happening round the corner. Still, material losses are not that important.
“My husband was wounded by shrapnel, my 10-year-old son is traumatized by the explosions and the older one quit university,” adds Algiç, sitting next to one of the broken windows. Behind her, a cargo train slowly moves across the no-man’s land between Turkey and Syria.
It was actually the Orient Express railway, built in 1911, that would help draw the borders of Syria and Turkey 10 years later. Berlin and Baghdad were finally connected but the Kurdish town of Serekaniye was cut in two: the one in Turkey was called Ceylanpinar, its Syrian counterpart was named Ras al Ayn.
On the road to Paradise
Like most others here, Mehmet also has cross-border family ties. The civil servant, who prefers not to disclose his full name, claims that the situation started worsening on a particular night last October.
“That night I saw armed people getting out a caravan of buses. I immediately called the police but they told me not to worry and said that everything was under control,” he told DW. Other residents also spotted armed men crossing the border into Syria. Apparently, they all got the same answer from the local security forces: ‘everything is under control.'”
“We often see buses around with all their curtains drawn. I have no doubt that their passengers are Islamists on the road to Paradise,” says Mehmet with a sad smile. He criticizes the “silence of the Turkish media on Ankara’s dark moves,” as he puts it.
“Here it’s not about rebels fighting [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad, it’s Jabhat al-Nusra – an armed group close to al Qaeda – and Syrian Kurdish fighters engaging in brutal clashes.”
From the beginning of the uprising in March 2011, Syria’s Kurds vowed a “third way” – neither with Assad, nor with the insurgents. Theirs is a neutral position that has led to clashes with both sides, but in July 2012 they took over their stronghold areas, in the north of the country.
The YPG – the main Kurdish militia group – and the Free Syrian Army signed a ceasefire on July 12 in Ras al Ayn but Jabhat al-Nusra distanced iself from the truce.
Many local residents told DW that Ankara is hosting Jabhat al-Nusra fighters in a camp near an unchecked border crossing west of Ceylanpinar.
Ibrahim Polat, a local journalist for the Dicle News Agency, says the allegations are true and adds that Ankara’s alleged backing of Islamists goes even further:
“During the last months hundreds of fighters have been taken by Turkish ambulances from Syria to Ceylanpinar hospital and those with more serious injuries were taken to Balikdigol hospital in Sanliurfa, the provincial capital. Kurdish militiaman are systematically rejected in the local hospitals so they are taken to Qamishlo, Syria’s main Kurdish city,” he told DW.
Anonymous sources from both medical centers told DW that there are no wounded fighters in Ceylanpinar, but that several of them are still being treated in Sanliurfa.
From his office, Musa Çeri, District Governor and member of the AKP, the ruling party in Turkey, dismisses such claims as “false rumors.”
“It is ridiculous to believe that Turkey could possibly back terrorist groups of any kind. My government would never do such a thing,” he told DW, adding that the government of Ankara is “only” struggling to address the ever-growing number of Syrian refugees on Turkish soil – over 200,000 according to UN figures. “Our religion, Islam, compels us to meet the people’s needs,” he says.
Nonetheless, he doesn’t hide his concern for what he considers to be Turkey’s “most pressing terrorist threat.”
“The Syrian Kurdish fighters are nothing but a branch of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party. If they finally get strong in their areas, they can easily conduct terrorists attacks against us across the border,” he explains. One of Ankara’s biggest fears, he says, is a Kurdish autonomous region similar to that in northern Iraq on Syrian soil.
Meanwhile, Ismail Arslan, Ceylanpinar’s mayor, says his town is paying a high price for the war.
“There have been dead and wounded but people also move elsewhere, shops and business fold, property prices collapse.” And there is another price to pay, he says. “In Ceylanpinar, 60 percent are Kurds and 30 percent Arabs while Assyrians, Turks and members of other nationalities comprise the remaining 10 percent. The nature of the conflict is fuelling mistrust among us and causing a split between our people.”
Arslan says he prefers not to comment on the alleged camp nearby, but denounces Ankara’s role in the area.
“Turkey claims to be a democratic country but it is involved in a very dirty war,” he says. “I’m afraid our problems won’t end until Ankara stops supporting al-Qaeda-affiliated groups inside Syria.”
8:10PM BST 05 Jun 2013
The longer a prime minister remains in 10 Downing Street, the more likely he or she is to go mad. Something of the sort happened to Gordon Brown and also, from 2003 onwards if not before, to Tony Blair. No prime minister has left office in full possession of his or her mental faculties since Jim Callaghan in early 1979.
One of David Cameron’s admirable qualities has been his sanity. He is unexcitable. He is not paranoid, does not conspire against his colleagues, sit up to the small hours of the morning brooding, or hurl pieces of crockery around the room when in a violent rage. He is not subject to sudden, irrational mood-swings.
None of this can or should be taken for granted, and surely Samantha Cameron can take some of the credit. “My job is to get him out of here sane,” she tells friends.
But the Prime Minister has been in the job for three years (and Tory leader for nearly eight), and watching him answer questions on the floor of the House on Monday afternoon, for the first time I started to wonder.
With Parliament back after the Whitsun recess, Mr Cameron made a statement that dealt principally with the civil war in Syria, and gave the belated parliamentary response to the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. Many of his remarks were those of a man with only a tenuous grip on reality. What was missing was common sense. We have seen this many times before.
Sir Peter Tapsell, father of the Commons, said that Syria was now enduring what is “fundamentally a religious war between the Shia and the Sunni, which has raged within Islam for 1,300 years”.
Mr Cameron would not accept this point. “When I see the official Syrian opposition,” he replied, “I do not see purely a religious grouping; I see a group of people who have declared that they are in favour of democracy, human rights and a future for minorities, including Christians, in Syria. That is the fact of the matter.”
Then Jack Straw, a former foreign secretary, asked whether the Prime Minister agreed that Iran would have to be part of any peace deal. Mr Cameron failed to deal with this essential question.
At the time of the Iraq invasion 10 years ago, something very like this happened to Tony Blair. A moment came when he too entered a virtual world.
Like Mr Blair, Mr Cameron has come to advocate policy in a macabre vacuum, devoid of truth or understanding. He too displays a reluctance to accept the irksome realities of the human condition. Like Mr Blair, Mr Cameron had taken no interest in the world outside Britain before he entered No 10. They both learnt about foreign affairs as prime minister, and both are open to the charge that they treat the subject like a grand, theoretical abstraction.
From the start, Mr Cameron (just like Mr Blair in Iraq) has been happy to entertain the proposition that this Syrian conflict is in essence a struggle between good and evil – benevolent democrats and liberals fighting a virtuous struggle against the murderous tyrant Assad. In fact, the rebels were not nearly as good (and President Assad not as evil) as Mr Cameron has thought.
As a result of this, the Prime Minister has got it wrong from the start. He massively underestimated Assad’s support and staying power. He was absurdly contemptuous of the Russians (who have outmanoeuvred us all along). Above all, he has failed to understand the rebels.
Very much as Mr Blair and his American allies were duped by the impostor Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, so Mr Cameron has made the mistake of taking the Syrian National Coalition seriously. They are intelligent, educated, well-intentioned men in suits – hotel guerrillas – and as such irrelevant to what is now happening in Syria. The Prime Minister would do well to read the mea culpa published last week in Al-Monitor, by a pseudonymous writer from Aleppo who calls himself Edward Dark.
“So what went wrong?’ asks Mr Dark. “Or, to be more accurate, where did we go wrong? How did a once inspirational and noble popular uprising calling for freedom and basic human rights degenerate into an orgy of bloodthirsty sectarian violence, with depravity unfit for even animals?”
Mr Dark describes how the revolution has been captured by a collection of gangsters and fanatics. “This wasn’t what we revolted for,” he says in despair at the dreadful fate that has overcome the country he loves, “to replace one group of criminals with another.” Mr Dark now says he has given up on the revolution. He says that he has seen that the only way forward is “through reconciliation and a renunciation of violence”.
Yet Mr Cameron wants to escalate the fighting by arranging military support to the rebels. He told Parliament on Monday that he hopes this will “tip the balance” in their favour. Iran – in reality an essential part of any solution – will not be welcome at the negotiating table, and in Mr Cameron’s mind there is no future for Assad, which probably means that the war will drag on and on.
I dare say that the Prime Minister is sincere when he asserts that Syria is in the grip of a civil war, with democrats and human rights activists ranged up on one side against an evil dictator. I have not been to Syria, but it is clear to me that Sir Peter Tapsell is much closer to the truth.
Certainly, the liberal elite in which the Prime Minister places such hopes was involved at the beginning of the uprising. But armed elements funded and supplied by interested parties in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were also present from the start. Their fundamental aim was nothing to do with human rights and the protection of minorities. It was to destabilise and destroy President Assad, Iran’s closest ally in the region, and therefore assert Saudi dominance.
To what extent have Britain and America been complicit? It is hard to judge. What can be said with certainty is that over the past decade the Middle East, and to some extent the Islamic world, has broken down into two armed camps. On the one side are Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, backed by the United States and (quietly) Israel. To everyone’s enormous embarrassment, al-Qaeda is very firmly in this camp.
On the other side are Iran, Hizbollah and post-bellum Iraq, strongly backed by Russia and China. Viewed from this wider perspective, Mr Cameron’s claim to be on the side of democracy and human rights, and against dictatorship, is not merely fraudulent – it is patently ridiculous.
We are not on the side of democracy. As Sir Peter Tapsell hinted in the Commons, Britain has wholeheartedly backed the Sunni camp – Saudi, the Gulf States, and al-Qaeda – in its increasingly bloodthirsty and horrifying conflict against Shia Islam. There may be some very good reasons for this, but I do wish that the Prime Minister would re-engage with the real world, come out publicly, and explain what they are.
Gendarmerie (Rural Police) Intelligence Department documents obtained by Redhack reveals that Turkish State knew about the vehicles packed with explosives that was detonated in Reyhanli/Hatay, which resulted in 51 deaths (unofficial reports confirm more than 100 dead).
Documents outline the vehicle details including plate numbers of three cars and that they were prepared by Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front in Syria on 23rd April 2013. It also gives information about Turkey registered vehicles packed with explosives, small and delicate devices that was send to Syria from Turkey.
We now know why the government censored the media reporting on the explosions took place on 11th May 2013. The documents indicate that the explosion was expected and known in advance. However it was disregarded. Subsequently after the explosion the blame is systematically targeted to be directed at the Alewites and left- wing organisations with malicious efforts to collapse the Syrian state. If the documents are examined in detail by taking consideration of the dates of events, it is not difficult to understand the truth behind the Reyhanli explosions. People have right to know the truth and we are not afraid of exposing it. PM Erdogan you have fooled people by blaming Syrian regime for these explosions but it seems like you have shot yourself by the foot. Although the authorities and the Military received intelligence that an explosion was plotted in Reyhanli they failed to act to prevent this attack.
If these bombs were intentionally allowed to cause an explosion deliberately to “start the war” by not preventing such an event or taking any precautions to avoid an explosion …then like such someone will disrupt and end your game!
The delivery of the truth is necessary and this is what we are doing…We are not afraid because life does not forgive cowards…
Why has this details went unheard? Why precautions was not implemented?
Did PM Erdogan knew it was planted by Al-Nusra before he met Obama to plan a possible war with Syria?
If this government is honourable enough they should resign right now as this is the only solution in any democratic country.
Original documents marked as “Classified” and translations;
all leaked docs here
Document Pic 1:
1.Kahraman Maras and Hatay Gendarmerie were provided with intelligence on 17.05.2013 that supplies were to be delivered via a vehicle with the registration of 63 E 3436 to Syria to support a group recognised as Al-Qaida militants. It was known that this group was in preparation to construct explosives. Detailed information in connection to the preparation of explosives was informed specifically detailed in documents received.
2.Technical/sensitive sources investigation: A Lancer make dark colour vehicle loaded with bombs, registration 022 506 (believed to be Syrian registration plate) and KIA Rio make, registration: 667512 (Damascus) Silver colour vehicle: These two vehicles and a black Saab, of which the registration is unknown but believed to be a Damascus registered vehicle, were informed to be loaded with bombs, and on standby in the town of Idlip Syria. Further across the Turkish border intelligence was received,that a vehicle was known to be loaded with explosives , small and sensitive devices. Gendarmeries have been informed that Syrian security forces were searching for those vehicles. Intelligence received has suggested that the vehicles at question were in preparations of an attack targeting Syria. On 25.04.2013 intelligence was again received specifying that, in the town of Rakka, Syria, active militants of El Nusra were known to load and assemble bombs in three vehicles on 23.04.2013. Vehicles were identified as a Mazda 323, Kia Rio and the third was unidentified. These vehicles were prepared to be part of an attack in our country.
Document Pic 2:
The bombings at question are believed to be in parallel connection with these identified vehicles. In analysing the intelligence and information received it is known that the explosions have been ongoing in our borders and is known to effect our country.
This photo was taken in the office of District Governor of Reyhanli. This shows clearly who funds and supports the bombers.
HACKING FOR THE PEOPLE!
UNTIL JUSTICE PREVAILS HACKING WILL CONTINUE!
October 31, 2012
Annie Machon: British intelligence agencies considered themselves above the law
Annie Machon was an intelligence officer for the UK’s MI5 in the 1990s, but she left after blowing the whistle on the incompetence and crimes of the British spy agencies. She is now a writer, media commentator, political campaigner, and international public speaker on a variety of intelligence-related issues. She is also the Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) in Europe.