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25 November 2012

Irish Department of Injustice, and the Mafia of The Devil's Double Movie.

In this video I answer the most popular questions that I have received through my website, emails and social media.
There are many perceptions of me, that I have made millions from my books and the movie, not true.
That since I fled Iraq my life has been safe, not true, either.. That the government of the country where I reside have provided me with protection and security, that's not true either, I have my own private security.
In my twenty one years in the West, I have not found democracy nor a country to call home and grant me citizenship, and so I am still stateless.
The reason?
I could not and would not sell my soul, One man forced me to become something I wasn't and ruled my life, when I broke free of him I vowed never to be forced to do anything against my will again, be it by a single person or a country.

11 November 2012

Direct from Latif Yahia Author of The Devil's Double: the Fake books you shouldn't buy

Since I wrote my first book in 1992, originally in Arabic and then translated to German. I have been trying to remove and stop certain publishers, especially American publishers namely Arcade publishing ( a bankrupt part of Time Warner) and now Skyhorse Publishing who bought the bankrupt Arcade publishing, from selling books that they attribute to me but that I have never given consent or authorisation to be published.

If you want to buy my books, then please go to or if you wish to buy the Kindle versions go to Amazon.

09 May 2012

Would-Be Underwear Bomber Was 'Double Agent'

 The man chosen by al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen to blow up a US-bound airliner was a double agent who infiltrated the group and volunteered to carry out the suicide attack, US and Yemeni officials say. 
The agent, who was apparently working with the knowledge of both Saudi intelligence and the CIA, escaped Yemen with the sophisticated bomb and delivered it to foreign intelligence authorities, according to reports.
He is now said to be safe in an unidentified country where he is being debriefed.
A senior US official told the New York Times that a bomb for the attack was sewn into "custom fit" underwear that would have been difficult to detect even in a careful pat-down at an airport.

The FBI is analysing the explosive.
"Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations," it said in a statement.
"The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the US Government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device."
Officials said it appeared to be an upgrade of the bomb that failed to detonate on board an airplane over Detroit on Christmas 2009, a plot which also originated in Yemen.
This new bomb contained no metal and used a chemical - lead azide - that was to be a detonator in the plot to attack cargo planes which nearly succeeded in 2010, officials said.
The New York Times said it had been designed by "the group's top explosives experts" to be undetectable by airport screening measures, particularly metal detectors.
A Department of Homeland Security official said that because the device was similar to the one in the failed 2009 attempt, security steps taken since "would have been able to prevent this device from bringing down an airplane".
Experts suggested airport body scanners, which use light doses of radiation to scan through a passenger's clothes, may have been able to detect an "anomaly" such as the device, which could then be further examined in a hands-on, pat down search.
However, the scanners have not been deployed in all airports across the US and are in very limited use elsewhere.
AQAP's master bomb-maker has previously been identified as Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri, a Saudi fugitive.
"I'm convinced that Asiri is behind this. He is an evil genius when it comes to bomb-making," House of Representatives homeland security committee chairman Peter King said on Fox News.

03 May 2012

Osama Bin Laden: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About His Death

One year ago Osama bin Laden was shot dead by US Navy Seals during a raid on his home in Pakistan.
His death has brought a range of information on the reclusive al-Qaeda leader to light, however there are still some key pieces of information left in the dark.
Where exactly was he buried?
Following the Navy SEAL mission to infiltrate Bin Laden's Abbottabad complex, his body was taken away by the American secret service and buried at sea. The American government insisted it had done this in order to prevent his burial site becoming a shrine, however the usual conspiracy theories came to rise.
Intelligence company Stratfor's emails, leaked by Wikileaks, seem to suggest that Bin Laden's burial location was not quite where we told. So exactly where is the terror chief’s final resting place?
Exactly what happened when he died?
The top secret operation conducted by Navy SEAL unit Seal Team Six to take down Osama Bin Laden has been described in articles, documentaries and diagrams but we still don't know exactly what happened when the al-Qaeda boss was killed. Did he go down fighting? Did he surrender?
How long was he in Pakistan?
The manhunt for the al-Qaeda leader lasted close to ten years – his hiding skill became a decade-long-joke. Chased through Afghanistan's deserts, foothills and caves, Bin Laden was eventually found in a relatively comfortable, inconspicuous compound. But how long had he resided in Pakistan?
Who knew where he was?
His compound, with fortified walls, barbed wire and guards, was not exactly discreet. Yet Bin Laden managed to hide away in a country known to be a safe haven for terrorists and a country easily accessed from Afghanistan. In their efforts to find the Saudi, did Pakistan not check the heavily-armoured compounds with unknown occupants? Was he not seen on the street for however long he was there?
Just how much did Pakistan know about the operation?
One of the biggest controversies surrounding the mission itself was the admission by American President Barack Obama that the USA had not told Pakistan that it was going to launch a covert mission, invading sovereign airspace without permission. The president defended his actions by saying that it was a snap decision to raid Abbottabad, but how complicit were Pakistan security forces in taking down the most wanted man in the world?

08 April 2012

Robbed and ruined by a British court on the orders of the CIA... and we couldn't tell a soul: The chilling story of how secret justice cost a couple their £5m home - and £700m business

 By David Rose

Silent ordeal: Margaret Bentham and her husband Stuart lost their £5m home
Despite the years of cruel reality, Margaret Bentham still seemed incredulous as she told her story, a story she once thought she could never share.
But with quiet dignity she summed up the ordeal she and her businessman husband Stuart, a former British Army officer, have endured at the hands of the CIA.
‘We were robbed of a business worth millions,’ she said. ‘We were plunged into financial ruin. But the worst thing was, not only were we deprived of justice, we couldn’t tell a soul.’
In an exclusive interview, Mrs Bentham told The Mail on Sunday how the CIA decided a civil court case about the Afghan mobile phone company he had helped to establish was too ‘sensitive’ to air in public.
It used draconian legal powers to shut down the case – so destroying not only the Benthams’ livelihood, but any prospect of redress after Mr Bentham alleged the company had been stolen from him.
‘We lost our £5 million flat in Belgravia,’ said Mrs Bentham, 50. ‘We’d had a thriving telecoms business in London employing 23 people, and we lost that too.
The gagging order imposed by a US court meant I couldn’t even tell our friends what was wrong or Stuart could have gone to prison. It was  absolutely Kafkaesque.’ Even now, Mr Bentham could be extradited and jailed if he gave an interview.
The Benthams’ nightmare was made possible by a US legal procedure known as the State Secrets Privilege.
But as Tory MP David Davis disclosed last month when he set out the Benthams’ story in the Commons, an alarmingly similar system will soon exist in Britain, if the Coalition’s  current Green Paper on Justice and Security becomes law.
The public part of the court judgment that destroyed Mr Bentham’s fortune is two words long: ‘Case dismissed.’ The reasons remain secret, while he is subject to an indefinite legal gag.
Such secret judgments have never been permitted in Britain. Under the Green Paper, they would become routine.
Last week, comments by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and a joint letter to MPs by Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Ken Clarke together suggested that the Government is preparing a partial U-turn on the proposals.
In an apparent concession to critics, it may water down plans for secret inquests, and restrict secret hearings to a ‘tiny number’ involving national security. Unfortunately, that is exactly the category responsible for the Benthams’ ordeal.
‘The security services are still feeding Government Ministers with misleading claims to justify abhorrent and unjust proposals,’ Mr Davis said yesterday. ‘They are still seeking to bolster their collapsing argument  for undermining centuries of British judicial rights.’

Partners: Mr Bentham, left, Mr Bayat, centre, and Lord Michael, far right in Taliban-ruled Kabul in 1998
Even if the Green Paper is changed in the way suggested last week, he added, its proposed closed hearings, secret evidence and vetted ‘special advocates’ would allow security agencies to cover up incompetence and embarrassment by citing national security.

As Mr Davis revealed in the Commons, that is exactly what happened with the Benthams. In their case, the embarrassment could hardly have been greater: what the use of the State Secrets Privilege did was to conceal evidence of a massive CIA failure that stymied a real possibility of preventing the 9/11 attacks.

The background to the alleged fraud against Mr Bentham, 63, and his business partner Lord Michael Cecil, 52, a brother of the Marquess of Salisbury, goes back to 1998, when they went into business with Ehsanollah Bayat.
Mr Davis described him in the Commons as ‘a Kabul-born American citizen on friendly terms with the highest echelons of the Taliban government and particularly its leader, Mullah Omar’.

Mr Bayat had the connections to acquire the licence to build Afghanistan’s first mobile phone, internet and international call system – Mr Bentham and Lord Michael the business expertise.
But, as Mr Davis said, Mr Bayat had a secret: he was an informant for the FBI, the main US domestic counter- terrorism force. The link made an opening for Operation Foxden, a scheme the FBI planned to run jointly with the National Security Agency (NSA), the US electronic eavesdropping organisation.
The NSA offered $30 million and technical assistance, said Mr Davis. The plan was to build extra circuits into all the equipment installed, enabling the US to ‘record or listen live to every single landline and mobile phone call in Afghanistan’ and ‘monitor the telephone gateways channelling international calls in and out of the country – gateways already being used by Bin Laden, Mullah Omar and their associates, thanks to the satellite phones given by Mr Bayat to Taliban ministers as gifts’.

By the beginning of 2000, after all the main partners had made several visits to Afghanistan, the project was at an advanced stage, and could have been fully functional within months – 18 months or more before 9/11.

Osama bin Laden
Recently, Mr Bayat has claimed he never had connections with US security agencies or the pre-9/11 Taliban government. But Mrs Bentham said that in the Nineties he seemed to make no secret of such links.

‘I remember one time when we flew in to Newark, New Jersey, and Bayat met us off the plane,’ she said. ‘He was with two FBI agents. We went to their office. Then they took me to the station so I could go shopping in New York while they had their meeting.’

But just as the project seemed to be on the brink of coming to fruition, it was wrecked by what Mr Davis termed a ‘turf war’ between the FBI and NSA on one side, and the CIA, which wanted to control it.

The consequence, as the agencies bickered in Washington, was that nothing happened for 20 months. By the time these bureaucratic obstacles had been cleared, it was too late.

A meeting to get the scheme going again, attended by Mr Bentham and Lord Michael, took place in New York in a hotel overlooking the World Trade Centre on September 8, 2001 – three days before the attacks.

Mr Davis commented: ‘Of course, we cannot say for certain that if US intelligence agencies had managed to tap the Afghan phone network sooner, we would have intercepted evidence in time to stop the 9/11 attacks, but it seems quite likely.’

After 9/11, the Taliban were toppled by US-led forces. Very soon after that, Lord Michael, Mr Bentham and their colleagues, working with Mr Bayat’s company Telephone Systems International (TSI), installed the very network that had been planned two years earlier. The Britons ordered and paid for most of the equipment and ran the project out of London.

Once operational in April 2002,  the firm became a licence to print money and is now said to be worth about £700 million.
The Mail on Sunday has copies of official US documents, signed by Mr Bayat in May 2002, stating that Mr Bentham and Lord Michael each were entitled to 15 per cent of the shares: their holdings, in other words, should now each be worth more than £100 million.

Instead, said Mrs Bentham, she and her husband are in straitened circumstances, and live in a rented house, dependent for holidays on hospitable friends.
‘We were living  a very comfortable life. And then it changed completely. We had no idea what we were dealing with, and the terrifying thing is what happened to us could happen to anyone.’

Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Ken Clarke together suggested that the Government is preparing a partial U-turn on the proposals to hold more trials in secret
In the autumn of 2002, having offered to buy out Mr Bentham and Lord Michael for a ‘derisory’ sum that did not even cover the cost of the equipment they bought, Mr Bayat sued them for ‘deceit and  conspiracy’, and, simultaneously, simply denied they had any legal entitlement to shares in TSI.
They had copious documentation, and, their lawyers believed, a cast-iron case. But as Mr Davis told MPs, this was no ordinary commercial squabble: ‘The US intelligence agencies feared the consequences if the truth about their infighting emerged and they were determined to stop that truth from emerging.’
First, they offered Bayat $1 million for his legal fight – part of a more general plan to exclude British citizens and British agencies from the ongoing phone intelligence operation. Then, when the Britons’ lawyers refused to back down, ‘CIA officers threatened them, warning the whole case would be shut down if they continued’.
Finally, in November 2004, came the use of the State Secrets Privilege. The effect was not only to close down the case immediately, but  to expunge all trace from court records.
Lord Michael and Mr Bentham were subject to a gagging order so severe that when they tried to reopen the case in London, they were forbidden on pain of contempt of court from discussing any aspect of the intelligence background with their own lawyers.
Although there were hearings in London, which the Britons lost for technical legal reasons, the British courts had little idea of what had actually happened. ‘The State Secrets Privilege meant that the US agencies were restricting what could be said in court in England,’ Mrs Bentham said.
‘I couldn’t speak to friends, and I felt pretty sure our phone calls  and emails were being monitored. Meanwhile, legal fees meant we were facing a colossal drain on our cash. Imagine: you have to sell your home, but you can’t tell anyone why.
‘So we just stopped going out socially, because people would ask, “How are things?” and we couldn’t even begin to answer. It’s only now, after the parliamentary debate, that at last people know.’
The worst moment, she recalled, was when the State Secrets Privilege was deployed. ‘They showed the judge some kind of statement that we couldn’t see, and he shut down the case next day for reasons we weren’t allowed to read. And that’s the kind of thing that’s going to happen here if the Green Paper becomes law.’
Later, she said, the Benthams’ American lawyers asked a US judge whether their British lawyers could see the secret judgment and gagging order in strict confidentiality, so that at least they could advise them whether they should try to pursue the case in London. The judge refused. 
They also tried to get the State Secrets Privilege reversed in a  federal US appeals court. They lost again – and the appeal court’s 17-page decision is also strictly secret.
Mrs Bentham said: ‘The lesson is that the US legal system is perfectly willing to condone the theft of our assets. What gets me is that one of the main reasons the British Government has justified the Green Paper is to protect American secrets.’
At the end of the Commons debate, Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne gave the Benthams a glimmer of hope. He said the Prime Minister had been aware of their plight for months and would in due course respond to their representations.
Meanwhile, Mr Davis said the case highlighted a fundamental inequality between Britain and the US: that American agencies could apparently dictate what British citizens could talk about in British courts  – even the very use of the State Secrets Privilege which had enabled such secrecy in the first place.
‘It’s just not good enough to say that restricting the Green Paper proposals to national security cases will make them less obnoxious,’ Mr Davis said yesterday. ‘Once you let security trump the rule of law, injustice such as this is inevitable.’

22 February 2012

My Best Friend, Journalist Marie Colvin an American working for Britain's The Sunday Times, was killed in Homs-Syria today.

Her intrepidness invited comparisons with the pioneering war reporter and fellow American Martha Gellhorn.
Born in Long Island, she was educated at Yale University and started her career as a police reporter for a news agency in New York before moving to Paris and then London.
She joined the Sunday Times in 1986 as a Middle East correspondent, covering the strife in Beirut, the intifada in Israel, the Iran-Iraq war, and Yemen, where she smuggled herself in from Djibouti by boat. By the time the first Gulf War came around in 1991 she was already battle-hardened.
She was decorated for her reporting from Chechnya, where she was pinned down by fire from Russian aircraft and troops. Finding her last relatively sensible line of retreat cut off by paratroopers, she escaped over an icy mountain path into Georgia, but after four perilous days' journey found herself stranded.

Marie had a knack for getting into places before her contemporaries and leaving long after they had given up, her goal, to report the whole story and in depth. She was a brave and courageous woman and will be sorely missed. My first meeting with Marie was in Vienna, Austria in 1995, when she did a piece on me for The Sunday times, we kept in contact over the years, anyone who met Marie was immediately taken by her strength of character and her ease of wit. The only battle scars that Marie showed were the physical ones and with her usual elan she made them into a positive rather than a negative. Marie's dedication to reporting made her the respected name is journalism that she is. I fear that with her loss the world of journalism has lost a lot more of it's integrity.

Marie's death came as a double blow to me, firstly the loss of such a wonderful person and journalist and secondly for her death to occur in Syria a country so beautiful but troubled, a country that I have fond memories of because it was there that I reunited with my family in 2004.

Marie you are immortal in our memories, R.I.P.  My condolences to your family and everyone who's life you touched, like me they too will never forget you. 
Marie Colvin and Latif Yahia 1995.

15 February 2012

Nobel peace prize jury under investigation

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Nobel Peace Prize officials were facing a formal inquiry over accusations they have drifted away from the prize's original selection criteria by choosing such winners as President Barack Obama, as the nomination deadline for the 2012 awards closed Wednesday.
The investigation comes after persistent complaints by a Norwegian peace researcher that the original purpose of the prize was to diminish the role of military power in international relations.
If the Stockholm County Administrative Board, which supervises foundations in Sweden's capital, finds that prize founder Alfred Nobel's will is not being honored, it has the authority to suspend award decisions going back three years — though that would be unlikely and unprecedented, said Mikael Wiman, a legal expert working for the county.
Obama won in 2009, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won in 2010, and last year the award was split between Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.
For this year's award, Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina, jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Cuban rights activists Oswaldo Paya and Yoani Sanchez are among the candidates who have been publicly announced by those who nominated them.
The secretive prize committee doesn't discuss nominations — which have to be postmarked by Feb. 1 to be valid — but stresses that being nominated doesn't say anything about a candidate's chances.
Fredrik Heffermehl, a prominent researcher and critic of the selection process, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that "Nobel called it a prize for the champions of peace."
"And it's indisputable that he had in mind the peace movement, i.e. the active development of international law and institutions, a new global order where nations safely can drop national armaments," he said
Especially after World War II, the prize committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, has widened the scope of the prize to include environmental, humanitarian and other efforts, he said.
For example, in 2007 the prize went to climate activist Al Gore and the U.N.'s panel on climate change, and in 2009 the committee cited Obama for "extraordinary efforts" to boost international diplomacy.
"Do you see Obama as a promoter of abolishing the military as a tool of international affairs?" Heffermehl asked rhetorically.
Nobel, a Swedish industrialist and inventor, gave only vague guidelines for the peace prize in his 1895 will, saying it should honor "work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Nobel said the peace prize should be awarded by a Norwegian committee, and the other Nobel Prizes by committees in Sweden. The two Scandinavian nations were in a union at the time.
Geir Lundestad, the nonvoting secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, dismissed Heffermehl's claims.
"Fighting climate change is definitely closely related to fraternity between nations. It even concerns the survival of some states," he told AP.
Still, the County Administrative Board decided to sent a letter to the Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation, which manages the prize assets, requesting a formal response to the allegations.
"We have no basis to suggest that they haven't managed it properly. But we want to investigate it," Wiman said.
"The prize committee must always adjust its rules to today's society," he said. "But peace work has to be at the core — it can't deviate too much from that," Wiman said.
The peace prize and the Nobel awards in chemistry, physics, medicine, literature and economics are always handed out Dec. 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death.

08 February 2012

RAF helicopter death revelation leads to secret Iraq detention camp.

Death in RAF helicopter and secret prison camp in Iraq desert raises questions about legality of British and US operations.
Latif Yahia,Iraq,USA,CIA,Uday Saddam Hussein,America,War
An RAF helicopter in Iraq.
On the evening of 11 April 2003, a pair of RAF CH47 Chinook helicopters swept over Iraq's western desert towards a remote rendezvous point beside Route 10, the highway that begins life on the outskirts of Baghdad before running for mile after mile towards the border with Jordan.

As they approached their destination, the crews assumed they were on an operation that would be uneventful. Two days earlier Saddam Hussein's statue had been toppled after American tanks rolled into the Iraqi capital; three weeks later George Bush would stand in front of a banner saying "mission accomplished".

The helicopter crews had been told that a number of detainees were under armed guard at the side of the highway. They were to pick them up after dark and take them to a prison camp. What followed was far from routine: before the night was out, one man had died on board one of the helicopters, allegedly beaten to death by RAF personnel.

The incident was immediately shrouded in secrecy. When the Guardian heard about it and began to ask questions, the Ministry of Defence responded with an extraordinary degree of obstruction and obfuscation, evading questions not just for days but for weeks and months. The RAF's own police examined the death in an investigation codenamed Operation Raker, but this ended with some of the most salient facts remaining deeply buried. The alleged culprits faced no charges.

Asked where the men were being taken, the MoD had initially indicated that they were en route to a prisoner of war camp, one inspected regularly by the Red Cross.

Later it became clear that this was not correct: they were being transported to an altogether more secret location. The truth about the mission raises some searching questions about the legality of some of the British forces' operations carried out in close co-operation with US allies.

One of the first hints that something untoward had happened aboard one of the RAF Chinooks came six years later when Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Mercer was giving evidence at the public inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa, the hotel receptionist tortured to death by British troops in September that year.

Mercer, who had been the British army's most senior lawyer in Iraq, told the inquiry that by the time of Mousa's death, several other people had died in UK military custody.

Asked about these mysterious deaths, the Ministry of Defence named one of the deceased as Tanik Mahmud, and said he had "sustained a fatal injury" while travelling aboard an RAF Chinook. Perplexingly, the ministry added that the cause of his death remained unknown.

'Unlawful killing'Asked how they could be sure he had suffered a fatal injury when the cause of his death was not known, the MoD took five weeks to answer.

Eventually, officials admitted that the RAF had received a complaint – anonymously, they said – that "three RAF Regiment personnel on board the helicopter had kicked, punched or otherwise assaulted Mr Mahmud leading to unlawful killing".

This raised many other questions, which the MoD appeared sometimes reluctant to answer.

One of the few that it answered promptly – within hours – concerned the location to which the prisoners were being taken. They were going to Umm Qasr, the MoD said: this was the town on the Kuwaiti border where British and American forces had constructed a large prisoner-of-war camp, a place that came under the supervision of military lawyers and was inspected regularly by the Red Cross.

More information about the incident was to be found in a number of documents released in Australia under that country's freedom of information laws.

The deceased had been one of 64 men detained at a roadblock set up by a soldiers of the Australian SAS. Working alongside a solitary member of a US airforce unit, the 20 Australians were attempting to capture so-called "high-value targets", former high-ranking members of the deposed regime attempting to flee the country.

Seven days earlier, Saddam had appeared suddenly in the middle of a crowd of cheering supporters, an event that was filmed and broadcast on Iraqi TV, along with a speech he was said to have made in which he exhorted his countrymen to "fight them brothers, hit them day and night". The coalition forces were determined to find him.

Three of the prisoners at the side of the highway were suspected of being officials of Saddam's ruling Ba'ath party. Four were held because they were Iranians and in possession of an enormous sum of cash – more than $600,000 – and a letter offering a bounty for each American killed.

The remainder of the prisoners appear to have fallen under suspicion because they were travelling together on a coach. Some were Iraqis and others were Syrian, and all were to be interrogated about Saddam.

None of the 64 were armed, however, and none were in uniform. A number were middle-aged and at least one was severely disabled. Despite this, the men were to be detained as EPWs, enemy prisoners of war. They were to be loaded into the Chinooks in groups of eight and ferried to the prison camp.

As a result of what might be described as a legal sleight of hand, the men were never recorded as prisoners of the 20 Australians. On paper, at least, the lone American was said to have captured them. This meant that the Australian government could consider itself not to be bound by a Geneva convention clause that obliged it to demand the return of any prisoner it transferred to the US if it became apparent that US forces were not treating them in accordance with the convention.

At this point in the Guardian's inquiries, a report written by the squadron leader commanding the 2nd squadron of the RAF Regiment was leaked.

This document, prepared as part of a brief US field inquiry into the incident, showed that the Australians had bound the prisoners' thumbs together before handing them over.

The RAF Regiment gunners then placed hessian bags over the prisoners' heads as they were being led aboard the Chinooks, despite a ban on hooding imposed on the UK's armed forces more than four decades earlier.

Knelt uponEach prisoner was forced to lie face down on the floor of the aircraft, and those who "refused to adopt the required position" were forced to the floor and knelt upon.

One man who slipped out of his thumb restraint and flailed his arms around was said to have been "lowered" to the floor and "subdued".

By the time the helicopters had reached their destination, two of the prisoners "were found to be unresponsive", according to the squadron leader, while "there was some commotion at the front of the aircraft" because a third prisoner, a disabled man, had somehow parted company with both his prosthetic legs.

It was a windy night, the sand was being whipped up by the Chinooks' rotor blades, and visibility was down to 1.5 metres. The American troops who received the prisoners say the British appeared to be rushing, anxious to transport them all before dawn.

The two "unresponsive" men were loaded into the back of a Humvee vehicle, face down and on top of each other, while the man with no legs was placed in the front passenger seat.

All three were driven to a "holding facility", where one was declared dead. The bag had been taped so securely over his head that it needed to be cut off.

The US inquiry concluded that "appropriate" methods had been used to subdue the man who died. The RAF made no attempt to contact next of kin to inform them of his death, however. Were it not for the anonymous complaint, this would have been the end of the matter.

The complaint is understood to have been made by a member of the Chinook's crew, unhappy at what he saw happening in the helicopter's cabin as they were flying to the camp. After receiving the complaint, the RAF police moved slowly.

According to the MoD, they waited more than a year after the death before asking an RAF pathologist whether the body should be exhumed and examined. Asked to explain the delay, the MoD said the investigators "did not know Mr Mahmud's place of burial".

Once the location was disclosed by the US military, officials explained, "discussions took place on the feasibility of accessing Mr Mahmud's remains, taking into account serious security concerns and obtaining permission from the local imam". At this point, according to the MoD, the RAF pathologist "indicated that given the climate and the degree of decomposition since the death, it would be extremely difficult to establish cause of death". As a result, no postmortem examination was ever carried out.

This advice surprises one eminent civilian pathologist, who says that only exhumation could reveal the state of decomposition.

Derrick Pounder, professor of forensic medicine at the University of Dundee, who has experience of exhumations and postmortem examinations in the Middle East – including cases of deaths in custody – said: "That advice would be contrary to the advice that any UK forensic scientist would offer to any police in the UK who were investigating an allegation of assault leading to death."

He says an examination of the hard tissue may have revealed evidence of an assault before the prisoner died: ribs, for example, sometimes fracture in a distinctive manner when kicked. Asked whether a copy of the pathologist's advice would be made available, the MoD said no copy could be found in its files. After this advice was received the case was passed to RAF's prosecutors, who advised that there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges. They also concluded that any further investigation was pointless.

Asked why the men had been taken as EPWs, when none were armed and all were wearing civilian clothes, the MoD appeared to be stumped.

"UK forces did not detain these individuals, they transported them," the ministry said. "This is not a question we can answer. This question should be directed to the detaining country."

Eventually, the Guardianobtained a copy of the passport that had been in the dead man's pocket, and the death certificate that had been issued by the US military authorities. The passport showed the dead man was a Baghdad odd-job man aged 36. It also showed that his name was not Tanik Mahmud, but Tariq Sabri al-Fahdawi. The RAF police investigation appeared to have been so superficial that it had failed to establish the dead man's identity.

Unknown cause of deathThe certificate recorded Sabri's cause of death as unknown. It also showed that the whereabouts of his grave, far from being uncertain, could be pinpointed precisely. The American officer who completed the certificate had gone to considerable lengths to ensure it could be found, beyond the airfield perimeter: "700m out front gate to first culvert, 191 degrees for 50m, next to grave with stacked stones in same location ..."

But of greater significance was what the death certificate revealed about the location of the airfield. It showed that the 64 prisoners had not been flown to the prison camp at Umm Qasr at all. They had been taken an airfield codenamed H1, described on the certificate as the forward operating base of a US special forces unit known as Task Force-20. H1 was an airfield built next to an oil pipeline pumping station.

It was 350 miles north-west of Umm Qasr, in the middle of Iraq's western desert, a vast and desolate expanse of sand and scree. The nearest settlement was many miles away: it is difficult to see how there could have been a "local imam" whose permission needed to be sought before exhumation, or how anyone in the vicinity who could pose "serious security concerns".

The holding facility at H1 was not inspected by the Red Cross. Moreover, its existence was not disclosed to Lieutenant Colonel Mercer, the UK's most senior army lawyer in Iraq at the time. Mercer says he was "extremely surprised" to learn of its existence.

He said: "This matter potentially raises very serious questions. Strenuous efforts were made at all times to ensure that all prisoners were accorded the full protection of the Geneva conventions and vigorous objections would have been raised if there was the slightest possibility of a breach of the conventions. It appears from the information disclosed that some prisoner operations were being conducted, deliberately or otherwise, outside of the chain of command."

The holding facility appears effectively to have been a secret prison – a so-called black site. It is entirely possible, according to international law experts, that taking prisoners to H1 could amount to "unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement", and that the prisoners were subjected to "enforced disappearances", both of which are war crimes under the Rome statute of the international criminal court.

One former RAF Regiment trooper who was based at H1 for several months has described being involved in a number of similar missions in which prisoners were collected from coalition special forces. This always happened "under total darkness", he says. On arrival at H1, the prisoners were handed on to people whom he describes as "other authorities".

Could this explain why the police investigation into the alleged killing of Tariq Sabri ended with some of the most basic facts – such as his name and the the cause of his death – remaining unknown?

According one well-placed source with knowledge of Operation Raker, the RAF police investigation into the death, there were some at the MoD who were concerned about the possible consequences of a more thorough inquiry: people who were filled with dread at the thought that it could lead to accusations that British forces and others had been involved in crimes against humanity.

When the MoD realised that the location to which the prisoners were flown was known to the Guardian, it quickly apologised for previously stating that they had been flown to Umm Qasr. This had been an innocent mistake, one that a spokesman said could be attributed to "admin/human error".

At this point the MoD also released a copy of the US field inquiry report, which had been withheld from the Guardian for more than a year.

The report showed that a British special forces unit known as Task Force 14, and an Australian unit known as Task Force 64 were an integral part of operations at H1. Both units were under US tactical control.

The ministry also volunteered an admission that the investigation into Sabri's death was not conducted quickly enough. But it said that this could not happen today as its procedures had changed, and added that Operation Raker was now the subject of a review by a team of military police and former civilian detectives known as IHAT – the Iraq historic allegations team.

Asked whether there was any truth in the suggestion that officials had interfered with the investigation into Sabri's death in order to suppress information about the UK's involvement with H1, the MoD replied that IHAT was "giving consideration to any involvement with the investigation of MoD officials who were external to it", and that it would be "inappropriate to comment" while that review was continuing.

Geneva conventionThe MoD was also asked whether it was satisfied that UK forces serving at H1 had never been in breach of the Geneva convention, or any other international humanitarian law. It replied by stating only that IHAT would consider the actions of those who came into contact with Sabri.

Nor would the MoD comment on another claim made by the source with knowledge of Operation Raker: that both CIA and MI6 officers were involved in the interrogation of prisoners flown secretly to H1, and that these were the "other authorities" whom RAF Regiment troopers were told would be taking possession of their prisoners. The ministry's only response to questions about non-military interrogators at H1 was a terse: "No further information."

The involvement of the CIA in Task Force 20 is no secret in the US, where it has been disclosed in Pentagon statements and congressional testimony. According to Human Rights Watch, the inter-agency unit was responsible for "some of the most serious allegations of detainee abuse" following the invasion.

Before the end of that year, the unit merged with a similar unit previously based in Afghanistan and changed its name to Task Force 121. By then, however, some at the Pentagon were sufficiently concerned about its methods to send a special investigator to Iraq. Stuart Herrington, a retired military intelligence colonel, discovered that the unit was holding undeclared "ghost" detainees and operating a secret interrogation centre to conceal its activities. Some of its prisoners showed signs of having been beaten.

This was several months before the abuses at Abu Ghraib became known, and Herrington's top-secret report shocked some in Washington. Eventually, somebody leaked it.

Over the years that followed, the unit changed its name again, to Task Force 6-26, and later to Task Force 145, possibly in an attempt to confuse adversaries. Its precise size and the names of its commanders have never been disclosed. But its methods appear to have remained the same. The American Civil Liberties Union obtained a series of US defence documents that showed that the unit's personnel had been investigated repeatedly over their alleged involvement in a catalogue of abuses. In one case, taskforce interrogators were said to have forced a 73-year-old woman to crawl around a room while a man sat on her back, before forcing a broom handle into her anus. Two of her fingers were broken. The woman, a retired teacher, said her interrogators demanded to know the whereabouts of her son and husband, both of whom she said were dead.

In 2006, an investigation by the New York Timesfound that some taskforce prisoners had been water-boarded, and others were beaten or shot with paintball guns. While a number of interrogators had been prosecuted, posters around one of their bases proclaimed "no blood, no foul": they would be safe as long as none of their subjects bled. The ultimate destination for some of the prisoners who passed though this base was said to be Abu Ghraib. The newspaper's investigation did not uncover the continuing UK involvement with the taskforce, however.

But this became clear when one British member spoke out after quitting the army in disgust. Ben Griffin, a young SAS trooper, said the unit was capturing hundreds of people who were being rendered to prisons where they faced torture, and that he had witnessed dozens of illegal acts by US troops. "My commanding officer at the time expressed his concern to the whole squadron that we were becoming the secret police of Baghdad," Griffin said. The MoD responded by obtaining a court injunction to silence Griffin, and warned he faced jail if he said any more.

The review of Operation Raker being conducted by IHAT is nearing completion, and a report is expected to be handed to the head of the RAF police at the end of this month. The MoD says it is not going to be published.

06 February 2012

How the American administration and the CIA created terrorists and mass-murderers

National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski visited Afghanistan in 1979:
This is what he said to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
"We know of their deep belief in God, and we are confident their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours, you’ll go back to it one day because your fight will prevail, and you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again. Because your cause is right and God is on your side"

Former British Foreign secretary, Robin Cook said:
"Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.'

Hilary Clinton admits that the American government created, supported and supplied the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 70's, these Mujahideen became Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Brotherhood of Islam. The very terrorists that they now fight in their "War on Terror".

Yes Mrs Clinton They created them and we pay the price.

Mr. Obama, President of the United States of America welcomes the mass murderer Noori Al-Maliki to the Whitehouse and says without shame that Iraq is a safe, independent, sovereign state in which Al-Maliki is a Democratically elected leader.
Yes Mr. Obama, in Al-Maliki's democratic Iraq there are 138,000 in prison and an unknown amount in secret prisons, seven of which have been discovered recently. During the dictator Saddam Hussein's reign we had 14,800 prisoners -this information was found after the 2003 invasion-
Half of the number of prisoners held under Al-Maliki's democratic government have not been afforded legal aid, a court hearing or visitation by family members, in fact once they are handcuffed and removed from the family home or wherever they are arrested ,no other news is ever passed on the family of their whereabouts or legal standing. Under this "Democratic Government" that America supports, Iraq has no electricity, no clean water, no infrastructure, no justice and no human rights. Presently there are 3 million Iraqi refugees inside Iraq -mostly since the civil war from 2006 until now- something that is not reported in the western media as it would be evidence of Americas failure. 5 million Iraqi refugees outside of Iraq and over 1.5 million killed. There are 1 million widows.
A special thanks also to you Mr. President, for your presentation of Iraq as a gift to Iran on a golden plate.
The irony of the situation is that when America chooses to go to war with another country it uses "Human Rights violations" as it's first tool in the propaganda machine. Where are the Human rights in Iraq now?

A special thanks from me to your CIA, well done and thank you for having me put on the "terrorist watch list" in Ireland, it only goes to back-up my belief that if you are honest, speak out for your people and country, have a manner or dignity, you are a terrorist in the eyes of American foreign policy.  We all know that Ireland -the state not the people- will always believe what you tell it to, it is a state of America not Europe, and even if it were to try some independent thought you would keep it in line by threatening to send all the Irish illegal immigrants home, just like your predecessor Mr. Bush did when the Irish government didn't want to open Shannon airport to the US Military or rendition flights. If having dignity and manner, speaking out for my country, it's people, justice and human rights around the world makes me a "terrorist" in your eyes, well then sir, I will wear that title proudly.

01 February 2012

Unlucky Bastard teaser No.3: To Trap a Traitor

Latif Yahia reads a document found in Uday Saddam Hussein's office after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. لطيف يحيى يقرأ وثيقة وجدت في مكتب عدي صدام حسين بعد أحتلال العراق عام ٢٠٠٣

31 January 2012

Big Brother Internet.

Do you remember the Safe-Cyber instructions they taught you in the mandatory Computer Ed class (operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology)? First you fire up your Secured Computing Device (SCD) and its hardware token authenticator.
Then you enter the six-digit algorithmically generated password displayed (a new one flashes every 60 seconds) and are asked to supply your biometric identifier. You place your thumb on the built-in fingerprint pad, click, and wait for the Internet connection to begin. But it doesn’t.
Instead, the screen goes black for a second before the dreaded words appear: “Malware has been detected on this SCD. As mandated by federal law, it has been placed in quarantine.” Then the machine shuts down.
This is not just conjecture, but an imminent scenario. Policies, such as the White House proposed “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace,” which will transform the character, culture and freedom of the Internet, are already in place. The 20 cybersecurity-related bills introduced in the Senate in 2011, and the dozen introduced in the House of Representatives, have wound their way through committees and, according to Senator Harry Reid, are scheduled to be voted on in the first quarter of 2012. Almost all of them, with the blessing of the White House, would make the Department of Homeland Security the overseer of private-sector networks.

Considering the apocalyptic rhetoric coming from Washington and the ranks of cybersecurity experts – echoed by media reports that portray every picayune data breach as Armageddon – it would appear that the vulnerability of the Internet has been underplayed for many years.
In the Internet’s start-up decades, both industry and government were committed to establishing an atmosphere of trust that would draw the public into conducting more and more digital business. Though data breaches, theft of trade secrets, identity theft and bank robbery have been a fact of Internet life since its beginnings, there were few laws requiring disclosure. Banks and credit card firms ate their losses as a cost of doing business, and the giant corporations kept mum rather than roil the public. Recently, the pendulum has swung in the other direction and a raucous alarm has been sounded regarding the great danger posed by the Internet.
  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The Nation is at a crossroads. The globally-interconnected digital information and communications infrastructure known as “cyberspace” underpins almost every facet of modern society and provides critical support for the U.S. economy, civil infrastructure, public safety, and national security. This technology has transformed the global economy and connected people in ways never imagined. Yet, cybersecurity risks pose some of the most serious economic and national security challenges of the 21st century. The digital infrastructure’s architecture was driven more by considerations of interoperability and efficiency than of security. Consequently, a growing array of state and non-state actors are compromising, stealing, changing, or destroying information and could cause critical disruptions to U.S. systems. (White House Cyberspace Policy Review, 2011)
While there may be other factors behind the current wave of cybersecurity alarmism, we have identified three major forces: The Government, the Cybersecurity-Industrial complex, and the so-called “Hacktivists.”

The Hacktivists LulzSec and Anonymous, the most-publicized of the hacktivists, along with a growing community of ad hoc cyberactors, have had a multi-faceted impact on the cybersecurity environment that goes far beyond the number of hackers at work or the amount of actual damage their exploits have inflicted.
They have skillfully publicized their outsized, headline-ready cyberintrusions. Their attacks, which are something other than the garden variety cybercrime, have compromised the web assets of Sony, the CIA, Fox News, the Church of Scientology, Bank of America and many more. Beyond the financial damage and security breaches, they’ve created a public relations nightmare forcing these major institutions to go public with what they would otherwise go to great lengths to conceal.
As a result, attention has been focused on the inadequacies of Internet security. If organizations as large, powerful and security-conscious as these are vulnerable, who then is safe? Not only have the targets been breached and embarrassed, consumer trust in the Internet has also been shaken.
These high profile, anarchic Internet exploits – compounded by the role of social media in evading and undermining government control of the political and media arena (Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, etc.) – have intensified government efforts to clamp down on the Internet … while providing the media with scary cyber-stories to further that agenda.
The Government The US government agenda to control the Internet is at least a decade old. Just three months after the Bush White House created the Department of Homeland Security, it issued “The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.” The document begins:
My Fellow Americans:
The way business is transacted, government operates, and national defense is conducted have changed. These activities now rely on an interdependent network of information technology infrastructures called cyberspace. The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace provides a framework for protecting this infrastructure that is essential to our economy, security, and way of life.
In the past few years, threats in cyberspace have risen dramatically. The policy of the United States is to protect against the debilitating disruption of the operation of information systems for critical infrastructures and, thereby, help to protect the people, economy, and national security of the United States.
Nearly a decade later, the basic message from the White House sounds much the same, if louder and more urgent. But there is a big difference. President Obama, and the rest of the Beltway insiders, have now formally defined cyberspace as a “strategic national asset.”
On the face of it, this appears to be a reasonable approach for a world that has become, in a relatively short time, totally dependent on digital resources. Unfortunately, it is an approach that provides a straight path to the militarization of the Internet and the loss of liberty that will follow. It is an approach that will elevate the most common forms of cybercrime (bank robbery, credit card theft) to the high-alert status of a cyberwar attack.
This government mindset will lead to the same abrogation of individual rights in cyberspace as the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 has codified in “Battlefield America.”
Given the integrated nature of cyberspace, computer-induced failures of power grids, transportation networks, or financial systems could cause massive physical damage and economic disruption. DoD operations – both at home and abroad – are dependent on this critical infrastructure. As military strength ultimately depends on economic vitality, sustained intellectual property losses erode both U.S. military effectiveness and national competitiveness in the global economy. Cyber hygiene must be practiced by everyone at all times; it is just as important for individuals to be focused on protecting themselves as it is to keep security software and operating systems up to date. (Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace, July 2011)
Many Internet experts and cybersecurity professionals have deemed 2011 “The Year of the Hack,” in recognition of the unending stream of headlines related to data breaches and thefts. We believe that – aside from any real uptick in cybercrime or cyberwarfare skirmishes – this perception is the result of the government’s determination to soften up the public to meekly accept an upcoming barrage of Internet regulation. It is a digital-age version of the tried and true fear mongering that is always employed to further empower the president and further enrich the military/industrial and Homeland Security complex. The government says it’s not fear mongering, just education.
The national dialogue on cybersecurity must begin today. The government, working with industry, should explain this challenge and discuss what the Nation can do to solve problems in a way that the American people can appreciate the need for action. People cannot value security without first understanding how much is at risk. Therefore, the Federal government should initiate a national public awareness and education campaign informed by previous successful campaigns. (White House Cyberspace Policy Review, 2011)
The Prominence of the Non-military Aspects of Warfare. Non-military means of warfare, such as cyber, economic, resource, psychological, and information-based forms of conflict will become more prevalent in conflicts over the next two decades. In the future, states and non-state adversaries will engage in “media warfare” to dominate the 24-hour news cycle and manipulate public opinion to advance their own agenda and gain popular support for their cause. (“Global Trends 2025,” National Intelligence Council, 2008)
The Money Card A key point being used to “educate” the public is the putative astronomical monetary loss caused by cybercrime in all its forms. There is, of course, no way to ascertain the validity of these numbers or even to figure out just what kind of losses are included in the estimates, which are generally arrived at by the large cybersecurity corporations. Some loss-figures appear to include the fall in a company’s stock price that usually follows revelation of a major hack (but doesn’t adjust that figure when the stock price climbs back up), as well as adding in an arbitrary sum attributable to time lost in recovery.
The largest global estimate of money lost to cybercrime currently floating around – as totted up by McAfee, the world’s largest cybersecurity company and endorsed by the White House – is $1 trillion a year. Symantec Corp., another cybersecurity giant, calculates the annual toll of global cybercrime to be about $388 billion. For dramatic impact, Symantec notes that figure is greater than the black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined. Either of those (wildly divergent) sums is impressive, but do they mean anything? Or are they just part of a government “education campaign modeled on previous successful campaigns,” such as selling the public on the certainty of WMDs in Hussein’s Iraq?
Far from being broadly based estimates of losses across the population, the cyber-crime estimates that we have appear to be largely the answers of a handful of people extrapolated to the whole population. A single individual who claims $50,000 losses, in an N = 1000 person survey, is all it takes to generate a $10 billion loss over the population. One unverified claim of $7,500 in phishing losses translates into $1.5 billion.
Our assessment of the quality of cyber-crime surveys is harsh: they are so compromised and biased that no faith whatever can be placed in their findings.
There has long been a shortage of hard data about information security failures, as many of the available statistics are not only poor but are collected by parties such as security vendors or law enforcement agencies that have a vested interest in under- or over-reporting. (“Sex, Lies and Cyber-crime Surveys,” Microsoft Research)
The Cybersecurity-Industrial Complex The fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) surrounding cyberspace has helped turn cybersecurity into an enormously profitable business, worth between $60 and $100 billion a year, depending on who’s providing the statistics. The sector is expected to grow 10 percent annually for at least the next five years. You don’t have to attribute any ethical lapses in the cybersecurity industry to recognize that it, like the government, has a great interest in “educating” the public in cybersecurity awareness.
Security experts say that it is virtually impossible for any company or government agency to build a security network that hackers will be unable to penetrate. (Reuters, 27 May 2011)
“I am convinced that every company in every conceivable industry with significant size and valuable intellectual property and trade secrets has been compromised (or will be shortly), with the great majority of the victims rarely discovering the intrusion or its impact …. In fact, I divide the entire set of Fortune Global 2,000 firms into two categories: those that know they’ve been compromised and those that don’t yet know.” – Dmitri Alperovitch, Vice President of Threat Research for McAfee
The military-industrial complex of the Cold War era has morphed into the cybersecurity-military/industrial-Homeland Security complex of the Cyber War era … to which there is no end in sight. With the cybersecurity industry creating the technology required to stem the very cyberattacks they are in charge of discovering and monitoring, we face an endless cyberarms race that will undoubtedly be fed on exaggerations of the virtual menace and our vulnerability to it.
On the heels of the fear and hysteria will come the firm push for strict control and regulation of the Internet. It will be championed by government and industry as the necessary response to cyberwar, cyberterrorism, and cybercrime which, since cyberspace is considered a “strategic national asset,” are essentially all the same.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) for instance, which is scheduled for a vote in 2012, will take a page from the National Defense Appropriation Act of 2012. In order to protect the rights of copyright holders to profit from their intellectual property, SOPA would permit the dissolution of due process and open the door wide to censorship and the denial of the right to free speech. The bill, supporters suggest, is not just about recovering the billions lost to bootlegged movies and music, rather, it’s about protecting the military strength that ultimately depends on economic vitality.
We agree with The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has called SOPA the most extreme, anti-Internet, anti-privacy, anti-free speech copyright proposal in US legislative history. It is, however, only one of many legislative proposals likely to be steamrollered through Congress in the coming year.
Computer security expert Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of Kaspersky Labs, envisions the “passportization” of the Internet. In his opinion, to access critical online services, such as banking or electronic voting, “it should be made mandatory to log-on only with the use of a unique personal identifier [for example, a token – a sort of cyber-passport] and establish a secure authoring connection.”
Microsoft has proposed what it calls a “public health model” for the Internet. Cybercitizens would be required to have a “clean bill of health,” make their computers open to inspection, and, if contaminated by a virus or other malware, be prepared for quarantine.
President Obama’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is pushing for development and public adoption of Internet user authentication systems that will function as a driver’s license for the cyberhighway.
Government control of the flow of information will strike a blow against Internet anonymity and the free speech it has made possible. Driver’s license, bill of health, passport, whatever you call it – it’s all about the ability to track and control the individual. Today, traffic in copyrighted digital material is the criminal behavior supposedly under attack; tomorrow, it will be the ability to speak out against corrupt government.
Hello, Big Brother.
Trendpost: The demand for ever-more effective cybersecurity tools to counter the ever-more inventive depredations of cybercriminals and cyberwarriors will be with us far into the foreseeable future. Clearly, this situation will create many jobs, both for the formally educated and the creative hacker. In addition, The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education – established to provide cyber-awareness training to students in Kindergarten through post-graduate programs – will need many specialized teachers.
Somewhat farther along on the timeline, there is a high likelihood that the manufacture of cyber-components will be repatriated to the US. The 2011 Department of Defense’s “Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace” notes: “The majority of information technology products used in the United States are manufactured and assembled overseas. The reliance of DoD on foreign manufacturing and development creates challenges in managing risk at points of design, manufacture, service, distribution, and disposal.”
A high probability exists that 2012 will bring revelations about contamination in the global IT hardware and software supply chain and proof that computer components are providing our “enemies” with entry to critical networks or transmitting sensitive information to them. This will turn the DoD’s security concern into a hot imperative.

28 January 2012

Anonymous claims Stratfor spied on OWS.

Protesters affiliated with Occupy Wall Street demonstrate during an Occupy the Courts protest outside Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse on January 20, 2012 in New York City
Anonymous promised that after hacking the intelligence firm Stratfor, called by some a “shadow CIA,” they’d prove that they were more than just a consulting firm.
Now it looks like the private company worked along with law enforcement in attempting to bring down the Occupy movement.
In some of the latest pieces of correspondence made public, however, information that many had already suspected about the role law enforcement played in infiltrating the Occupy Wall Street movement is brought to light. In an exchange of emails between Stratfor executives that has been published by hackers involved in the matter, employees of the firm go back-and-forth with one another in detail over information that Texas law enforcement supplied the firm after investigating an Austin Occupy meet-up.
In the emails, Strafor employees discuss intel about the Occupy movement that was supplied to them by a “Texas DPS agent,” or an officer within the ranks of the Lone Star State’s Department of Public Safety. The DPS is a state-wide law enforcement agency that investigates suspicious activity and allegations of terrorism within Texas. The question of why state law enforcement shared that email with a private intelligence firm is open to interpretation, but certainly suggests that attempts to understand and perhaps undermine the local OWS chapter was more than just a minor operation.
According to the documentation, which includes correspondence from late 2011, Stratfor employees discuss both Occupy Austin and the Deep Green Resistance, or DGR. While DGR is not directly affiliated with Occupy Wall Street, it is a similar movement — to a degree — that encourages environmental activism that isn’t present in more mainstream campaigns. In a press release, the DGR attacks both Texas authorities and Strafor for their newly revealed roles.
“Deep Green Resistance condemns the surveillance and infiltration of activist groups by law enforcement and private corporations and calls on activists and their allies to expose and protest this violation of all of our constitutional rights,” the group says in a statement published Thursday.
Rachel Meeropol, a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, adds that she is outraged over how Stratfor and the DPS were in cahoots over infiltrating Occupy Austin.
“Law enforcement sharing information about local activism with private intelligence firms should be a huge scandal,” writes Meeropol in Thursday’s statement. “Privately funded surveillance and infiltration of activist groups is especially chilling, as time and again we see such corporations operate as if they are above the law and accountable to no one.”
In the emails, Stratfor staffers discuss how one of their own men went undercover to an Occupy Austin General Assembly and attempted to gain insight into how the group operates. Stratfor’s Scott Stewart writes that the movement is considered by some to be “a terrible threat to corporations,” but adds, “in reality, due to the history of anarchists, animal rights, anti-war and anti-globalization protesters, companies are well prepared for such hippy hijinks.” As the Occupy movement continues to thrive more than three months after Stewart shared such words with other Stratfor employees, it is clear that that isn’t the case.
In a separate email sent a month later in November, Korena Zucha of Stratfor writes that a Texas DPS agent has shared information about both movements. In it, Deep Green is linked with Occupy Austin, which DGR shrugs off as speculation. Representatives for DGR believe that the correspondence suggests that surveillance of both groups was ongoing.
In the back-and-forth, Stratfor staffers suggest that sources within Occupy Austin describe some of the DGR members as crazy, to which one adds, “that bothers me, because these Occupy people will tolerate just about anything.”
Stratfor’s Marc Lanthemann, who signs his email as a “Watch Officer” for the firm, suggests that coordination between the DGR and Occupy movement could have dire consequences. Lanthemann writes in one email that he thinks Deep Green is an “eco-terror group is focused on creating a situation where violent confrontation will be the ultimate outcome.”
“It doesn’t require an agent to get simple facts correct. Both of these assertions are just plain false,” responds DGR.

24 January 2012

Inside the Iraq War.

For most of the last decade, Iraq occupied center stage in the Arab world, as it was swiftly invaded and occupied by American forces in March 2003 before being wracked by the insurgency that sprang up in opposition and then by waves of sectarian killing that grew into something close to a civil war.
Since the bloodshed peaked in 2006, order was gradually restored, though violence remained high by any but wartime standards. The fairest elections in the country’s history in March 2010 led to the creation of a government of national unity, although after eight months of political stalemate that played out mostly along sectarian lines.
On Dec. 15, 2011, the American military formally ended its mission in Iraq, one that cost the lives of 4,487 service members, with another 32,226 wounded in action; more than one million service members served in Iraq during the course of the conflict. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died in the fighting that followed, although there are no firm estimates.
The closing ceremony in Baghdad sounded an uncertain trumpet for a war that was started to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction it did not have. It ended without the sizable, enduring American military presence for which many officers had hoped, and with the country facing a political crisis.
Even after the formal withdrawal, the military still has two bases in Iraq and roughly 4,000 troops. At the height of the war in 2007, there were 505 bases and more than 170,000 troops. More than one million service members served in Iraq during the course of the conflict.
The end of America’s military involvement reflected the messy, sectarian state of Iraqi politics — both in terms of the political forces that led to America’s withdrawal and in the sectarian political strains that boiled over as soon as the last troops had left.

Rising Strife Threatens Tenuous Stability:
Violence and political instability have escalated across Iraq since the withdrawal of American forces, as political and sectarian factions have fought for power and influence in a struggle that, within weeks, threatened to undo the stability that allowed the pullout in the first place.
In January 2012, a Shiite governor threatened to blockade an important commercial arterial road from Baghdad to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north if Kurdish officials did not hand over Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi to government authorities. The Shiite-led national government has accused Mr. Hashimi, a Sunni, of running a sectarian death squad.
On Jan. 22, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch said the Americans had left behind a “budding police state,” with the country’s Shiite leadership increasingly ruling by force and fear. Insurgent attacks have surged across the country, and security forces loyal to the Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, have pressed a campaign against Sunni politicians.
The turmoil has come at a time when Iraqis had hoped their leaders would be emboldened by their new independence to tackle the nation’s multitude of problems — finally confronting the social, economic and religious divisions that were papered over by the presence of American troops.
But while there remains hope that Iraqis can still unite, the country is far from the “sovereign, stable and self-reliant” place that  President Obama described at the time of the American military withdrawal.
The criticisms from Human Rights Watch were released in their annual report on human rights in various countries. The group said that the Iraqi government had significantly restricted freedom of expression in the nation over the past year and that security forces had intimidated, beaten and detained activists, demonstrators and journalists.
“After the formal withdrawal last month, the political clampdown has intensified, and Maliki has threatened his political opponents with jail,” the group’s Middle East director, Sarah Leah Whitson, said in an interview.
At the same time, Al Qaeda has increased its attacks. On three different days in the month since the withdrawal, the daily death toll rose past 60, and on more than a dozen days the toll was more than 10. Without the help of American Special Operations forces, the Iraqi military and police forces have appeared unable to curb attacks on religious pilgrims, civilians and security officers.
As problems have persisted inside Iraq, its leaders have struggled to deal with neighbors, including Turkey, one of the largest foreign investors.
According to members of Mr. Maliki’s bloc, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called Iraqi politicians in mid-January and told them that they should peacefully deal with one another as they try to resolve their differences.
Around the same time, Mr. Erdogan called Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to express his concern about the tensions between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, warning that the crisis could lead to a sectarian war.
The calls angered Mr. Maliki because he felt that Mr. Erdogan, a Sunni, was criticizing how he was dealing with the country’s affairs. In a television interview, Mr. Maliki said that Mr. Erdogan was acting as though he controlled Iraq, and said that Mr. Erdogan should stop meddling.
The issue has lingered. Soon after, the head of Iran’s Quds Force was reported to have said that Iraq and southern Lebanon were under Iranian control. In response, top Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite politicians in Iraq called on Mr. Maliki to reprimand the Iranians as he had the Turks.

Widening Sectarian and Political Conflicts:
Within days of the departure of the last American convoy, the country was in political turmoil that was extreme even by its own standards. The Shiite-dominated government issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, one of the country’s most prominent Sunni leaders, accusing him of running a personal death squad that assassinated security officials and government bureaucrats. Mr. Hashimi denied the charges and accused Mr. Maliki’s government of using the country’s security forces to persecute political opponents, specifically Sunnis.
Almost as significant as what Mr. Hashimi said was where he said it: in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous northern region of Kurdistan. Because of the region’s autonomy, Mr. Maliki’s security forces cannot easily act on the warrant. Mr. Hashimi said he would not return to Baghdad, effectively making him an internal exile
The following day Mr. Maliki threatened to abandon the American-backed power sharing government created a year previously, and ward Kurdish leaders that there would be “problems’' if they did not hand over Mr. Hashimi.
On Dec. 26, 2011, a powerful political group led by the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr called for Parliament to be dissolved and early elections to be held, the first open challenge to Mr. Maliki from within his Shiite coalition. The move by the Sadr bloc is not enough to immediately bring down the Maliki government. But even the prospect of a new vote adds more uncertainty to Iraq’s fragile political landscape, possibly setting the country’s main factions — Shiites, Sunnis and ethnic Kurds — and its byzantine networks of political allies scrambling for turf, influence, money and votes.
Less than two weeks later, Mr. Maliki’s government indicated that it was welcoming an Iranian-backed militia, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, into Iraq’s political system. The Shiite-led government’s support for the militia, which had only just sworn off violence, opened new sectarian fault lines in Iraq’s political crisis while potentially empowering Iran at a moment of rising military and economic tensions between Tehran and Washington. It could also tilt the nation’s center of gravity closer to Iran.
Asaib Ahl al-Haq — the name translates as League of the Righteous — broke away from the militia commanded by Moktada al-Sadr. The American military has long maintained that the group, led by a former spokesman for Mr. Sadr, Qais al-Khazali, was trained and financed by Iran’s elite Quds Force — something that Iran denies.
One of the deadliest insurgent groups operating in Iraq, Asaib Ahl al-Haq bombed American military convoys and bases, assassinated dozens of Iraqi officials and tried to kidnap Americans even as the last soldiers withdrew. Military officials said the group was responsible for the last American combat death in Iraq, a November 2011 roadside bomb attack in Baghdad.
Thousands of other militants, both Sunni and Shiite, cut deals with the government to stop fighting, and few officials see a meaningful peace in Iraq that does not include reconciling with armed groups. Yet critics worry that Mr. Maliki, facing fierce  challenges to his leadership from Sunnis and even his fellow Shiites, may be making a cynical and shortsighted play for Asaib’s support. They say Mr. Maliki may use the group’s credentials as Shiite resistance fighters to divide challengers in his own Shiite coalition and weaken Mr. Sadr’s powerful bloc, which draws its political lifeblood from the Shiite underclass.
By doing so, Iraq’s government could embolden a militia with an almost nonexistent track record of peace while potentially handing Tehran greater influence in a country where the United States spent billions of dollars and lost nearly 4,500 American soldiers in nearly nine years of war.
Moreover, some American and Iraqi officials are leery about whether Asaib Ahl al-Haq is truly ready to forswear violence, especially with thousands of American diplomats and security contractors still in the country. Mr. Maliki’s attempts to marginalize the country’s Sunni minority and consolidate power have amplified their fears and, not coincidentally, precipitated a political crisis.
The arrest warrant for Mr. Hashimi that ignited the first spark of the the political crisis followed a near breakdown of relations between Mr. Maliki, a religious Shiite, and his adversaries in the Iraqiya coalition, a large political bloc that holds some 90 seats in Parliament and is supported by many Sunni Iraqis. Members of the Iraqiya coalition walked away from Parliament, accusing Mr. Maliki of seizing power and thwarting democratic procedures through a wave of politically tinged arrests.
In calling for the Kurds to turn over Mr. Hashemi, Mr. Maliki risked alienating a powerful minority that operates in its own semi-autonomous region and whose support he would need to form a new government without the support of the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya. While in the north, Mr. Hashemi is largely out of reach of Mr. Maliki’s security forces, and from there could easily flee the country.

A New Level of Insurgent Violence:
After the American military withdrawal, a fierce string of attacks occurred at the end of 2011 and continued into the new year, adding a new level of violence to the political and sectarian feuds.
In late December, the Sunni insurgent group Al Qaeda in Iraq killed more than 63 people in a series of explosions that ripped through Baghdad, transforming the morning commute into a bloodbath. Al Qaeda in Iraq has been accused of trying to plunge the country back into a sectarian conflict by pitting Sunnis and Shiites against one another.
On Jan. 5, 2012, insurgents launched a series of bombings against Shiite pilgrims making their way to the holy city of Karbala for Arbaeen, one of the holiest Shiite holidays. According to security officials, 68 people were killed in the attacks and more than 100 wounded.
On Jan. 14, insurgents mounted another attack against Shiites, as an explosion in the southern city of Basra killed 64 pilgrims traveling to a mosque in the city of Zubayr, just west of Basra, to commemorate the last day of Arbaeen.
The next day, in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, insurgents detonated car bombs, and gunmen dressed as police officers wearing vests filled with explosives attacked a police compound where a top insurgent leader was being held, security officials said. Nine people, including five police officers, were killed; six insurgents, including three who detonated their explosives, also died.
No group claimed responsibility for the Jan. 14 or Jan. 15 attack, which appeared similar to others carried out by Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Crackdown on Foreign Contractors:
In the weeks following the military withdrawal, Iraqi authorities detained a few hundred foreign contractors, including many Americans who work for the United States Embassy, in one of the first major signs of the Iraqi government’s asserting its sovereignty since American troops pulled out of the country in December 2011.
The detentions occurred largely at the airport in Baghdad and at checkpoints around the capital after the Iraqi authorities raised questions about the contractors’ documents, including visas, weapons permits and authorizations to drive certain routes. Although no formal charges were filed, the detentions have lasted from a few hours to nearly three weeks.
The crackdown came amid other moves by the Iraqi government to take over functions that had been performed by the U.S. military and to claim areas of the country it had controlled. In the final weeks of the military withdrawal, the son of Iraq’s prime minister began evicting Western companies and contractors from the heavily fortified Green Zone, which had been the heart of U.S. military operations for much of the war.
Just after the last American troops left in December, the Iraqis stopped issuing and renewing many weapons licenses and other authorizations. The restrictions created a sequence of events in which contractors were being detained for having expired documents that the government would not renew.
The Iraqi authorities have also imposed new limitations on visas. In some recent cases, contractors have been told they have 10 days to leave Iraq or face arrest in what some industry officials call a form of controlled harassment.

Negotiations and an Exodus:
In 2008, Iraq and the United States signed a status of forces agreement, negotiated in the last days of the Bush administration, that called for the withdrawal of all American troops by the end of 2011. But the agreement was reached with a wink-and-nod understanding that a politically palatable way would be found to keep a substantial American troop presence in the country after that date.
But a number of Iraqi political factions publicly resisted the idea of a continued American military presence — notably the Sadrists, led by Moktada al-Sadr, an anti-American Shiite cleric who has called on his followers to attack American forces if they remain after the deadline. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had gained a second term only when Mr. Sadr through his support behind him after indecisive parliamentary elections in 2010.
The departure of American troops had coincided with rising concerns — in Iraq and in Washington — over Mr. Maliki’s increasingly aggressive use of power. Frequent raids in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone and the arrest of 600 former Baathists in November 2011, purportedly to head off a coup, fanned fears that Mr. Maliki will use the threat of terrorism and unrest as a pretext to strike political foes — and over whether Iraq’s fragile democracy will slide into a return to one-man rule.
Negotiations regarding American troops will continue. Possibilities being discussed are for some troops to come back in 2012, an option preferred by some Iraqi politicians who want to claim credit for ending what many here still call an occupation, even though legally it ended years ago. Other scenarios being discussed include training in the United States, in a neighboring country such as Kuwait or having some American troops come back under the auspices of NATO.
In the meantime, an agreement is in place to keep more than 150 Defense Department personnel, both military and civilian, in Iraq to secure the American Embassy, manage military sales and carry out standard duties of a defense attaché and office of security cooperation. They will operate under the authority of the State Department, which will be taking the leading role in Iraq.
Leaders among the Kurds and Sunnis would like some American troops to stay as a buffer against what they fear will be Shiite political dominance, coupled in turn with the rising influence of neighboring Iran. And the senior American commander in Iraq, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, had proposed keeping as many as 14,000 to 18,000 troops there.
Even as the military reduces its troop strength in Iraq, the C.I.A. will continue to have a major presence in the country, as will security contractors working for the State Department.

No Iraqi Spring:
The one kind of turmoil Iraq has seen little of is the pro-democracy movement that sprang to life in early 2011 across the region, the so-called Arab spring. In February, demonstrators turned out, not seeking to topple their leaders but demanding better government services after years of war and deprivation. But security forces responded with a heavy hand.
In a country where the demographics skew even younger than in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the wave of political change in the region has laid bare a generation gap split by old resentments nurtured by dictatorship and war and a youthful grasping for a stake in the new Iraq. But the forces of youth are blunted by the same forces that have robbed Iraqi society of so much for so long — violence, a stagnant economy, zero-sum politics and sectarianism — and that have prevented a new political class from emerging to take Iraq into a new democratic future.

History of the Invasion of Iraq:
Almost immediately after ousting the Taliban from power in Afghanistan following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — some argue, even before — President George W. Bush began to press the case for an American-led invasion of Iraq. He cited the possibility that Saddam Hussein still sought nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in defiance of United Nations restrictions and sanctions. Mr. Bush and other senior American officials also sought to link Iraq to Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. Both claims have since been largely discredited, though some officials and analysts continue to argue otherwise, saying that Mr. Hussein’s Iraq posed a real and imminent threat to the region and to the United States.
In his State of the Union address in 2002 , Mr. Bush linked Iraq with Iran and North Korea as an " axis of evil. '' In his 2003 address , Mr. Bush made it clear the United States would use force to disarm Mr. Hussein, despite the continuing work of United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq, and despite growing international protests, even from some allies. A week later Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made the administration’s case before the United Nations Security Council with photographs, intercepted messages and other props, including a vial that, he said, could hold enough anthrax to shut down the United States Senate.
The invasion of Iraq began on March 19, 2003 — the early hours of March 20 in Iraq — when Mr. Bush ordered missiles fired at a bunker in Baghdad where he believed that Saddam Hussein was hiding. Within weeks, with a “coalition of the willing” and disputed legal authority , the United States quickly toppled Mr. Hussein’s government, despite fierce fighting by some paramilitary groups. The Iraqi leader himself reportedly narrowly avoided being killed in the war’s first air strikes. The Army’s Third Infantry Division entered Baghdad on April 5, seizing what was once called Saddam Hussein International Airport. On April 9, a statue of Mr. Hussein in Firdos Square was pulled down with the help of the Marines. That effectively sealed the capture of Baghdad, but began a new war.

Chaos and Insurgency:
The fall of Iraq’s brutal, powerful dictator unleashed a wave of celebration, then chaos, looting, violence and ultimately insurgency. Rather than quickly return power to the Iraqis, including political and religious leaders returning from exile, the United States created an occupation authority that took steps widely blamed for alienating many Iraqis and igniting Sunni-led resistance. They included disbanding the Iraqi Army and purging members of the former ruling Baath Party from government and public life, both with consequences felt to this day. On May 1, 2003, Mr. Bush appeared on an American aircraft carrier that carried a banner declaring " Mission Accomplished ,” a theatrical touch that even the president years later acknowledged sent the wrong message.
In the security and political vacuum that followed the invasion, violence erupted against the American-led occupation forces and against the United Nations headquarters, which was bombed in August 2003, killing the body’s special representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello. The capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003 — the former leader was found unshaven and disheveled in a spider hole north of Baghdad — did nothing to halt the bloodshed. Nor did the formal transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people in June 2004, which took place a few months after the publication of photographs showing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib had further fueled anger and anti-American sentiment.
In January 2005, the Americans orchestrated Iraq’s first multi-party elections in five decades, a moment symbolized by Iraqis waving fingers marked in purple ink after they voted. The elections for a Transitional National Assembly reversed the historic political domination of the Sunnis, who had largely boycotted the vote. A Shiite coalition supported by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most powerful Shiite cleric, won a plurality, and put Shiites in power, along with the Kurds. Saddam Hussein stood trial, remaining defiant and unrepentant as he faced charges of massacring Shiites in Dujail in 1982.
A new constitution followed by the end of the year, and new elections in January 2006 cemented the new balance of power, but also exposed simmering sectarian tensions, as many Sunnis boycotted. In February 2006, the bombing of the Askariya Mosque in Samarra, one of the most revered Shiite shrines, set off a convulsion of violence against both Sunnis and Shiites that amounted to a civil war. In Baghdad, it soon was not unusual for 30 bodies or more to be found on the streets every day, as Shiite death squads operated without hindrance and Sunnis retaliated. That steady toll was punctuated by spikes from bomb blasts, usually aimed at Shiites. Even more families fled, as neighborhoods and entire cities were ethnically cleansed. Ultimately, more than 2 million people were displaced in Iraq, and many of them are still abroad to this day, unable or too afraid to return.
Arab and Kurdish tensions also ran high. In Mosul, a disputed city in the north, Sunni militants attacked Kurdish and Christian enclaves. The fate of Kirkuk, populated by Arabs, Kurds and smaller minority groups, remains disputed territory, punctured routinely by killings and bombings. After a political impasse that reflected the chaos in the country, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a little-known Shiite politician previously known as Jawad al-Maliki, became Iraq’s first permanent prime minister in April 2006.

At Home:
The messy aftermath of a swift military victory made the war in Iraq increasingly unpopular at home, but not enough to derail Mr. Bush’s re-election in November 2004. Almost immediately afterwards, though, his approval rating dropped as the war dragged on. It never recovered. By 2006, Democrats regained control of Congress. Their victory rested in large part on the growing sentiment against the war, which rose with the toll of American deaths, which reached 3,000 by the end of the year, and its ever spiraling costs. Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death just before the Congressional elections, and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld resigned the day after the vote, widely blamed for having mismanaged the war.
In the face of rising unpopularity and against the advice of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan group of prominent Americans, Mr. Bush ordered a large increase in American forces, then totaling roughly 130,000 troops.
The “surge,” as the increase became known, eventually raised the number of troops to more than 170,000. It coincided with a new counterinsurgency strategy that had been introduced by a new American commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and the flowering of a once-unlikely alliance with Sunnis in Anbar province and elsewhere. Moktada al-Sadr, the radical anti-American Shiite cleric, whose followers in the Mahdi Army militia had been responsible for some of the worst brutality in Baghdad, declared a cease-fire in September. These factors came together in the fall of 2007 to produce a sharp decline in violence.
Political progress and ethnic reconciliation were halting, though, fueling calls by Democrats to begin a withdrawal of American forces, though they lacked sufficient votes in Congress to force one. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, an early opponent of the war, rose to prominence in the Democratic race for the nomination in large part by capitalizing on the war’s unpopularity. But by the time Mr. Obama defeated Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination in 2008 and then the Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, Iraq hardly loomed as an issue as it once had, both because of the drop in violence there and because of the rising economic turmoil in the United States and later the world.

Bush Reaches for an Agreement:
At the end of 2007, Mr. Bush and General Petraeus had succeeded in maintaining the level of American forces in Iraq above what it was before the “surge” began. Mr. Maliki’s government, increasingly confident of its growing military might, expanded operations against insurgents and other militants that had once been the exclusive fight of the Americans. The militias loyal to Mr. Sadr, who had gone into exile, were routed in a government-led offensive in southern Iraq, though significant assistance from American forces and firepower was needed for the Iraqis to succeed. By May, the offensive extended to Sadr City in Baghdad, a densely populated neighborhood that had been largely outside of the government’s control.
American and Iraqi officials spent most of 2008 negotiating a new security agreement to replace the United Nations mandate authorizing the presence of foreign troops. Negotiations proceeded haltingly for months, but Mr. Bush, who for years railed against those calling for timetables for withdrawal, agreed in July 2008 to a “general time horizon.” That ultimately became a firm pledge to remove all American combat forces from Iraqi cities by the end of June 2009 and from the whole country by 2011. He also agreed to give Iraq significant control over combat operations, detentions of prisoners and even prosecutions of American soldiers for grave crimes, though with enough caveats to make charges unlikely.

Plans for Withdrawal:
The American military returned control of military operations to Iraq’s military and police on Jan. 1, 2009. The American combat mission — Operation Iraqi Freedom, in the Pentagon’s argot — officially ended on Aug. 31, 2010.
President Obama marked the date with a prime-time address from the Oval Office, saying that the United States had met its responsibility to Iraq and that it was time to turn to pressing problems at home.
The mission’s name changed from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn, and the 50,000 remaining transitional troops were scheduled to leave by the end of 2011.
At the end of June 2009, also in keeping with the security agreement, the vast majority of American troops withdrew from Iraq’s cities, garrisoning themselves on vast bases outside. Mr. Maliki declared June 30 a national holiday, positioning himself as a proud leader who ended the foreign occupation of Iraq. But Mr. Maliki’s fanfare about ending the occupation rang hollow for Iraqis who feared that their country’s security forces were not yet ready to stand alone. A series of catastrophic attacks in August, October, December and January 2010 — striking government ministries, universities, hotels — only heightened anxiety and suspicion among Iraqis.

Iraq’s Fractious Postwar Politics:
Iraq’s latest parliamentary election was originally scheduled for December 2009, but was delayed for months by political bickering. A parliamentary commission with disputed legal standing disqualified more than 500 candidates on the grounds they were former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party or remained sympathetic to it.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, hoping to build on his success in the 2009 provincial elections, sought to form a broader, cross-sectarian coalition that would include Sunnis, Kurds and other minority groups. Other parties followed suit, appealing for “national unity” in a country where it has rarely before existed, and only then a unity ruled by an iron hand.
They faced a formidable challenge from a coalition led by Ayad Allawi, a Shiite who served as interim prime minister before the 2005 elections. Mr. Allawi’s alliance, called Iraqiya, drew broader support across the country’s sectarian lines.
The pre-election turmoil unfolded against a backdrop of violence and intimidation, and a steady withdrawal of American troops. On Feb. 12, 2010, the Islamic State of Iraq, the insurgent group that now includes the remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, vowed to disrupt the elections. While the level of violence plunged from the shocking carnage of 2006 and 2007, suicide bombers continued to attack, seemingly at will, plunging Baghdad into chaos on a regular basis and undercutting Mr. Maliki’s claims to have restored security. Political disputes between Arabs and Kurds in the north continued to fester, prompting the Americans to intervene. Mr. Maliki’s use of the military and security forces to settle political disputes also raised alarms, and put the Americans in the awkward middle.
Election Day in March 2010 was marked by violence that left at least 38 dead, but that did not dissuade voters from turning out in large numbers. The vote counting process proved to be more chaotic than expected, with accusations of fraud by leading parties, divisions among highly politicized electoral officials and chaos in disclosing the results.
The initial results showed the coalition led by Mr. Allawi taking a slim lead over the slate of Mr. Maliki. Mr. Allawi, although himself a Shiite, benefited from a surge in voting by Sunnis, many of whom boycotted earlier elections.
Mr. Maliki vigorously challenged the results, but Mr. Allawi’s narrow lead survived a recount. Mr. Maliki also forged an alliance between his coalition and the other major Shiite bloc, a move that cleared the way for a Shiite-dominated government for the next four years. Together they were only four votes short of a majority, leading many in Iraq to expect that a deal could be reached with Kurdish parties, once the Kurds extract new promises of expanded autonomy.
But as weeks dragged on, the Shiite alliance had not agreed on a candidate for prime minister, as many of its members strongly oppose giving Mr. Maliki a second term. The leader of one Shiite faction, Moktada al-Sadr, an anti-American cleric, even met with Mr. Allawi in an apparent effort to increase pressure on Mr. Maliki to step aside. American efforts to have the two men share power also failed to resolve the issue.
On October 1 it was announced that Mr. Maliki’s party, State of Law, and another Shiite party with ties to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr shut out a third, the Iraqi National Alliance, and its contender, Adel Abdelmehdi, in negotiations within the Shiite bloc.
The Kurds, with 57 seats in the new 325-member Parliament, emerged as powerbrokers in the final talks, throwing their support behind Mr. Maliki in exchange for holding onto the presidency.
The Obama administration had for months urged Iraq’s quarreling factions to create a government that included all major ethnic and sectarian groups, lest the country descend into the chaos that consumed it in the worst years after the invasion of 2003.
Under the new pact, the county’s current president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader, remaiedn as president, solidifying the role of Iraq’s Kurds. The new government that will oversee the withdrawal of American troops on paper looked much like the one that has governed in the past four tumultuous years. But Mr. Allawi’s role in the new government was ill-defined.
Mr. Maliki was formally granted a second term on Dec. 21, when Parliament unanimously voted to accept the cabinet he had painstakingly assembled.
By the following summer, feuding between the two men had brought the government into a state of paralysis. Mr. Maliki and Mr. Allawi, who still refused to speak to each other, had not even been able to agree on choices for the two most important ministries, defense and interior.
Deadly attacks in August 2011 heightened political tensions as Mr. Maliki appointed a member of his governing coalition as acting defense minister. Sunni leaders criticized the appointment as reneging on the earlier political deal.

The Drawdown:
The protracted election turmoil, and the strengthened position of the fiercely anti-American Mr. Sadr, cast doubt on establishing any enduring American military role in Iraq after the last of nearly 50,000 troops withdraw. Given Iraq’s military shortcomings, especially in air power, intelligence coordination and logistics, American and Iraqi officials had long expected that some American military presence, even if only in an advisory role, would continue beyond 2011.
But strong opposition, especially from Mr. Sadr, complicated the question. Militias linked to Mr. Sadr produced a burst of violence against American forces in the spring of 2011, and he gave hints that he might renew such attacks if troops stayed on past the deadline.
Military experts and some Iraqi officials had said that U.S. forces should stay to help with tasks that included training Iraqi forces to operate and logistically support new M-1 tanks, artillery and F-16s they intend to acquire from the Americans; protecting Iraq’s airspace until the country can rebuild its air force; and perhaps assisting Iraq’s special operations units in carrying out counterterrorism operations.
But with the year-end deadline looming large because of the lead time the Pentagon needs to withdraw forces from Iraq, the combination of the political and logistical questions led to Mr. Panetta’s proposal for a 3,000-member training force, which analysts called a bare-bones approach.
But even that foundered in the face of the Iraqi decision to revoke legal immunity.
The departure of the soldiers is by no means the end of a large American presence. The administration had already drawn up plans for an extensive expansion of the American Embassy and its operations, bolstered by thousands of paramilitary security contractors. It also created an Office of Security Cooperation that, like similar ones in countries like Egypt, would be staffed by civilians and military personnel overseeing the training and equipping of Iraq’s security forces.
And the State Department was to assume responsibility for training the Iraqi police, a task that will largely be carried out by contractors. With no American soldiers to defuse sectarian tensions in northern Iraq, it will be up to American diplomats in two new $100 million outposts to head off potential confrontations between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish pesh merga forces.