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Archive for November, 2009

Red Alert for Indian Nuclear Arsenal

November 26, 2009 Leave a comment

PKKH

The red corridor which is now turning into red alert for Indian sovereignty has been camouflaged by the Government of India so strongly since years to save the face in the world community. But now the cover is proving too short to hide this ugly reality.

Naxals/Maoists issue is widely censored by the common Indians you interact in daily life, but the living reality says otherwise. Naxalite/Maoist insurgents are controlling more than 45% of India without any obstruction from the state anywhere in those regions. The police and paramilitary is too vulnerable to their deadly attacks due to lack of capability and fire power to confront these militants. The most dangerous reality is that the Militants are now in full control of those regions where there are located key Nuclear Installations or most convincingly the Nuclear Arsenal storage sites

Talcher’s Heavy Water Plant

Starting from the state of Orissa at the eastern coast of India, where Maoists are showing much stronger presence. A very important Heavy Water Plant is located in the City of Talcher in this state. Since last many months this city is badly hurt due to repeated terrorist activities of Maoists and their supporters. Maoists displayed their power most recently when they blocked the road access to Talcher making things to complete standstill inside that city and in the surrounding areas. Most ironic is that the presence of law enforcing agencies in these areas is very minimal and almost next to none. Local residents are living in extreme fear and in complete insecurity. In these circumstances, any serious accident to the Heavy Water Plant would lead to complete catastrophe. It is ironic that besides being completely helpless against the growing influence of Maoists near this important nuclear site, Indian media is not alarming any warnings. It is clear that India is hiding this matter deliberately and does not want the world to know about the intensity of the threat.

Uranium mines & mills, Jaduguda, Jharkand

The important Uranium mines and mills in Jaduguda Jharkand are facing worst catastrophe of deadly leakages when a new tailings pipeline burst caused a uranium mill tailings spill that reached nearby homes. Ironically this incidence of International importance was camouflaged again by the Indian media. It is widely believed that this particular area is now under full control of Naxal/Moist forces.

Read More

Madras Atomic Power Station

Located at  Kalpakkam about 80 km south of Chennai, India, is a comprehensive nuclear power production, fuel reprocessing, and waste treatment facility that includes plutonium fuel fabrication for fast breeder reactors [FBRs]. It is also India’s first fully indigenously constructed nuclear power station. It has two units of 170 MWe capacity each. The first and second units of the station went critical in 1983 and 1985 respectively. The station has reactors housed in a reactor building with double shell containment ensuring total protection even in the remotest possibility of loss of coolant accident. An Interim Storage Facility [ISF] is also located in Kalpakkam

Naxal tentacles are reaching Chennai which as mentioned above has this important Power Plant, Naxal presence just few kilometers from this city is a living threat which no one can ignore so easily. The recent train mishap in Chennai is believed to be the activity of Naxals to signal their strong presence in this region too. Read Report

Narora nuclear power plant

Narora is located on the banks of river Ganges, in district Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh. A nuclear power plant is located in its vicinity. The insurgent sympathizers smuggle highly radioactive material out of the Nuclear Fuel Complex to detonate a radiological dispersion device or ‘dirty bomb’ in Hyderabad. An example of security blunder that could have resulted in the theft of fissile material in August 2006: Security was tightened in and around the Narora nuclear power plant after three men working there were arrested for giving fake addresses at the time of their appointments. Unbelievably, the men were given access to the facilities without first conducting thorough background checks. The problem is that India does not only have 22 declared including under construction  nuclear reactors, but it also has about 60 less secure agencies connected with nuclear activities. India is well known for lax security and overworked systems; security experts believe smuggling of radioactive materials to be highly probable.

There are several other regions where Naxal ideology is gaining popularity and more and more poor and homeless are becoming part of their Army. The Maoist/Naxals are too close to capture the half of India and consolidate their position for their future goals. Read More

It is extremely ironic that India is yelling and screaming about the vulnerability of Pakistani Nukes, but it is more catastrophic when we see that many important locations of Indian Nuclear Installations are situated in those areas which are in complete control of these insurgents. Why this truth is hidden from the world? The catastrophe of weapons slipping into the hands of most cruel terrorists on earth is quite possible not in years but in days. The question arise that who will raise the alarm for the world? The world leaders are quite unmoved on this issue, but once we come to know that Naxals have obtained few of the war heads for their ugly means then it will become a global threat overnight and the sleeping savers of the world would jump for crash program! This is bad luck for the poor people of India in particular that their government has thrown them in front of Maoists/Naxals and has accepted an undeclared defeat against these forces. Read More

From every corner of India sane and intellectual journalists and news channels are now beginning to raise their voice on this issue but it seems that water has reached the noses already.

When we analyze as to why India is not taking strong action against Maoists/Naxals then we can find few important reasons behind this criminal delay which is hurting Indian existence:

  • India has till now portrayed itself as a safe and trouble free country thus gaining maximum attention of tourism and foreign investment which it does not want to loose due to this issue.
  • Next year a huge event of Cricket World Cup is to be held in India and the Government does not want a situation in which the neighboring country Pakistan has fallen into after initiating assault over Taliban Militants which brought complete catastrophe and subsequent barring of all International sporting events to be conducted there for security reasons.
  • India does not want itself to be slipped into the same situation where Pakistan has been pointed out as an unsafe Nuclear Power.
  • It is also believed that Americans are trying to penetrate into Nuclear Installations of India in the name of assistance or help to increase security level of these Installations. Some of them are almost 4 decades old and have completed their life. India is trying to hide the vulnerable status of their Nuclear command and control system to avoid undue interference of USA.

In short, Indian nation would have to bear the threat of Naxals/Maoists helplessly because in the near future Indian Government seems to have no plan but to unwillingly allow these terrorists to spread their influence inside the whole of the Indian territories.

USA, UK, China and Europe should see this latest development with responsibility because the threat of Maoist/Naxals is 1000 times more deadly than the proclaimed threats in Pakistan who are confined to only some remote mountain areas as compared to Naxals/Maoists who are controlling the cities and the huge region in full. World cannot afford to see the Nuclear Arsenal of India easily slipping into the hands of Naxals who can use that any time anywhere to surprise the peace loving nations. It is also possible that these insurgents who are so close to capture these important weapons would also sell them ahead to Al Qaeda or any deadly group which can hit America with unmatchable intensity as USA has put a blind eye on this possibility.

Obama rebuffs PM Singh–eulogizes Pakistan as important ally

November 26, 2009 Leave a comment

By: RupeeNews | Moin Ansari

There is a parable in South Asia, mainly Bharat (aka India) which loosely translated goes something like this “All night long, we told you the lengthly and long-winded story of Ramayan–and in the morning you asks was ‘Sita’ one of the main characters–a man or a woman”. Obviously one who has ever read or heard the story of Sita, will never forget the fact that Sita was a woman. In Western terms it would be like reading Shakespeare and then asking whether Juliette was a woman or a man. This is exactly what happened in Washington. Even before Prime Minister arrived in Delhi, everyone know what the agenda would be—Bharati gripes against Pakistan on terror.

Mr. Manmohan didn’t realise that each time he mentioned Mumbai and terror in the same breath, it took millions of Dollars away from business in the commercial capital of Bharat. However he along with Sancho Panza in Delhi persisted in the old story of terror and why Pakistan should be sanctioned, blah blah blah.

After the long discussion, the congratulatory interview paid advertisement (interview) with Pakistanphobe Farid Zakaria and others, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with President Obama, he wanted to hear mr. Obama threaten, castigate, and scold Pakistan–to Bharati chagrin, the exact opposite happened.

After patiently listening to Bharati whining for the years, Washington essentially ignored Bharat, tripled aid to Pakistan, increase military supplies to Islamabad, and is working on construction a Reconstruction Opportunity Zone (ROZ), and a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Bharat’s arch-enemy.

Obviously Mr. Singh knew all this before he came to Washington. The Bharati lobby had essentially failed to derail the Biden/Kerry-Lugar bill and the amendment letter attached to it watered down or eliminated the Bharati inspired language in the bill.

This picture is very descriptive and worth a thousand words—as Mr. Singh “stood rapt withal”, his stone faced silence, drooping face and stoic demeanour was unable to hide the disappointment–when he heard President Obama snubbed the Bharati Prime Minister by loudly proclaiming that Pakistan was a very important ally of the United States and that it was doing a lot in fighting terror.

 

  • ‘US wants effective partnership with Pakistan’ Preisident Obama
  • WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama has said his administration – seeking a viable way forward in conflict-hit Afghanistan – wants an effective partnership with Pakistan that works towards achieving peace and stability in the region, APP reported.
  • Mr. Singh will have a lot to answer for when he returns to Delhi–the opposition will tear him apart on why he was unsuccessful in his mission–maligning Pakistan

    In a press conference with the Indian PM, the US president emphasised that Pakistan was progressing against extremism. —Photo by AFP

    WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday re-emphasised Pakistan’s key position in the American strategy for South Asia, telling a joint news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that Islamabad had an enormously important role in the security of that region.

    His statement, in response to a question about US military assistance to Pakistan, was a calculated departure from the tributes he had paid to India earlier.

    In remarks delivered before the news conference, Mr Obama described India as ‘indispensable’ for his visions for the future of the world, ‘a leader in Asia and around the world,’ and a ‘nuclear power’ with which the United States would like to work ‘in preventing the spread of the world’s most deadly weapons, securing loose nuclear materials from terrorists, and pursuing our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons.’

    While Mr Obama continued this eulogy in the press conference as well, he paused to stress Pakistan’s importance in the South Asian region when an Indian journalist spoke about the perception that US military aid to Pakistan was misused against India.

    ‘Obviously, Pakistan has an enormously important role in the security of the region,’ said Mr Obama, adding that Islamabad could fulfil this role ‘by making sure that the extremist organisations that often operate out of its territories are dealt with effectively.’

    I have gained confidence that there’s not an important question out there that has not been asked that we haven’t answered to the best of our abilities, the US president said. —Photo by AFP

    While acknowledging that Pakistan faced the problem of terrorism, Mr Obama said he also had ‘seen some progress’ in Islamabad’s efforts to fight the militancy.

    While Prime Minister Singh was bush playing victim in Washington, his Chief of Staff General Kapoor, suffering from Foot-in-mouth-disease was busy displaying his incompetence by threatening war to its nuclear armed neighbors.

    Stephen Cohen a known Indophile who created the now debunked “Cold Start Strategy” has clearly said that the India and the US are strategically moving apart. This assessment comes in the wake of the reality that America’s new banker is not New York—it is Beijing. Prime Minister Manamohan Singh sheepishly mentioned this anomaly during his various conversations in Washington and elsewhere. While the chest thumping on democracy fell on deaf ears, what chagrined the prime minister and Bharati media was the fact that the US has ignored Delhi’s whining on Mumbai. Contrary to the lobbying efforts of Delhi, the US Congress tripled aid to Pakistan, and then some—it is also working on ROZ and a FTA with Pakistan. Unbeknownst to Delhi, the US Army has helped the generals in Islamabad with weapons that are under the radar or press and or media scrutiny.

    The work that the Pakistan military is doing in the Swat Valley and in South Waziristan all indicates the degree to which they are beginning to recognise that extremism, even if initially directed to the outside, can ultimately also have an adverse impact on their security internally,’ he said.

    ‘So my hope is that over time what we’re going to see is further clarity and further cooperation between all the parties and all peoples of goodwill in the region to eradicate terrorist activity, to eradicate the kind of violent extremism that we’ve seen.’

    Such cooperation, he said, would benefit the peoples of Pakistan and India, and the world community as well.

    Mr Obama conceded that in the past the US-Pakistan relationship was ‘single-mindedly focussed just on military assistance’ and that the United States didn’t think more broadly about how to encourage and develop the kinds of civil society in Pakistan that would make a difference in the lives of people day-to-day.

    His administration, Mr Obama added, had tried to change this approach by re-focussing its attention on helping the Pakistani people.

    Showing more diplomatic skill than some of his senior diplomats, President Obama also nudged India and Pakistan to resume their dialogue without appearing intrusive.

    ‘One of the things I admire most about Prime Minister Singh is that I think at his core he is a man of peace,’ said Mr Obama before stressing the need for a peaceful resolution of India-Pakistan disputes.

    ‘Obviously, there are historic conflicts between India and Pakistan. It is not the place of the United States to try to, from the outside, resolve all those conflicts,’ he said.

    Pakistan has important role in S. Asia: Obama

     

    View from Pakistan: A Very Cozy U.S. – India Relationship Can Destabilize South Asia

    November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

    PKKH

    By Shahid R. Siddiqi. Axis of Logic

    When the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets President Obama during his visit to the US this week, the two leaders will discuss the framework for strategic dialogue between the two countries.

    Singh seeks to solidify a relationship, transformed under the Bush administration from distant friendship to that of a ‘key ally’. That transformation led to a nuclear cooperation deal, increasing trade and investment, educational exchanges and unprecedented security collaboration. He is keen to finalize the civilian nuclear deal and seek Obama’s support for his bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

    Singh may also seek reassurance that the Indo-US relationship will not be overshadowed by the increasing Sino-US collaboration.

     

    After the collapse of Soviet Union, India’s former mentor and ally, India sought an alliance with the United States who also had interest in wooing it. In the US containment-of-China policy under Bush, India could prove extremely useful to advance U.S. interests, particularly because of strained Sino-Indian relations over regional ambitions and border disputes which led it into a war with China in 1962, though with a humiliating outcome.

    But this created a paradox for the US. Pakistan was once a key ally of the U.S., an important link in their strategy to contain communism during the cold war era and a member of the U.S.-sponsored, but now defunct military pacts – SEATO & CENTO. Pakistan became highly suspicious of this U.S. ‘tilt’ towards India. Pakistan had an acrimonious relationship with India mainly over the Kashmir and water and India’s blatant role in the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971.

    The consistent Indian threat to Pakistan’s security led Pakistan to develop a nuclear response to Indian acquisition of nuclear weapons in 1974 to maintain the balance of power and ward off Indian hegemonic designs. Despite Pakistan’s efforts and calls by the international community, India refused negotiated settlements of disputes. This has kept the pot simmering, maintaining an uneasy peace in the region. In the absence of progress in resolving the root causes of tensions, recent assurances by Obama and Singh, that India poses no threat to Pakistan – were rejected outright in Pakistan.

    The US has used Pakistan for its own geopolitical objectives in the past during the cold war, to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the 1980s and then for its war on terror in Afghanistan after 9/11. While it aided and equipped Pakistan for the role it wanted Pakistan to play, Pakistan’s relationship with the US has swung from being the ‘most allied ally’ to being the “most neglected ally” and then to being the ‘most sanctioned ally’, depending upon how much the US needed Pakistan’s services at any given time. In Pakistan, the US has come to be perceived as most unreliable and is viewed with deep suspicion.

    Presently, the deepening U.S. relations with India result from the changing American perspective of the region. India could prove to be a huge market for American high tech goods and weapon systems in the future. Also its growing nuclear and military strength coupled with regional ambitions could be useful to the US as its proxy for policing the region.

    Realizing that he cannot maintain a military presence in Afghanistan for long, Obama needs to install a proxy power there too when he decides to pull out, most likely by 2011. India fits the bill. The US expects India to keep the government in Kabul under check, keep peace among warring factions and protect American interests.

    India has its own interests too. The nuclear deterrence will not allow India to launch military aggression against Pakistan, but it can work for the dismemberment of Pakistan by promoting an Eastern Pakistan style insurgency in Balochistan and by continuing to squeeze Pakistan on the western border using rogue elements from the tribal belt. It has already begun to position its troops there under cover of “development work”.

    The belief that India can hold the fort for the US is a fallacy. If the Afghans, who fiercely oppose foreign occupiers whom they have thrown out unceremoniously in the past and if the U.S. is also on the verge of withdrawal, what makes anyone think that Indian forces would be welcome to stay? Besides, the Taliban, who are bound to gain political influence in Kabul sooner or later, will reject Indian military presence on their soil, as it will represent American interests.

    This Indo-US partnership, which seeks to serve divergent geopolitical objectives and is based on taking advantage of one and other, will neither be smooth nor lasting. Above all, it will seriously jeopardize peace in South Asia by alienating Pakistan and adding to its existing tensions with India. This will also ring alarm bells in Tehran and Beijing.

    As of now in the current US matrix, cordial Sino-US relations are very important for a variety of reasons, mainly owing to U.S. reliance on Chinese economic support and that will not end any time soon. It is clearly not feasible for Obama to promote relations with India at the cost of its relations with China.

    But this will not sit well with a sensitive India, given the history of Sino-Indian rivalry. Only recently the Indian officials, says a Washington Post report, in an outburst of Brahmanic self importance expressed concern that New Delhi has suddenly been relegated to the second tier of U.S.-Asian relations because Obama did not mention India in his speech on US relations in Asia recently. The speech was delivered in Tokyo and focused on the Asia-Pacific region and not South Asia. This, the Indians believe, is Obama’s failure to recognize India’s broader regional aspirations, something that the Bush administration had encouraged. The Indians were upset that “Washington was leaning too closely to China”.

    Then to India’s chagrin came a call made through the joint statement on conclusion of Obama’s visit to China, in which Obama suggested that Beijing mediate between India and Pakistan. The statement said,

    “China and the United States are ready to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development in that region.”

    “A third-country role cannot be envisaged nor is it necessary” to solve disputes between India and Pakistan, was the retort by Indian Foreign Ministry. The influential Times of India headline read “Obama’s China [credit] card casts shadow on PM’s US visit,” referring to the $800 billion in U.S. Treasury securities held by China.

    Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment said he detected in India “a sense of exclusion that’s been gnawing at them since the Tokyo speech.” He added: “The joint statement prompted new fears that somehow the United States and China would collude to manage events in South Asia.”

    Tellis said this has caused particular neuralgia in India because tensions between Beijing and New Delhi have risen recently over competing border claims. India is also upset over Chinese plans to divert waters of Brahmaputra River that originates in Tibet and flows into Northeastern India, without whose water its plains would lay waste. In addition, Indians are concerned that the Obama administration, unlike the Bush administration, views India as part of the South Asian problem, which includes the instability in Pakistan.

    China’s interest in South Asia, a natural outcome of its regional security concerns in its sensitive underbelly and its very close relations with Pakistan, is unpalatable for India which considers South Asia as its exclusive domain.

    These Indian sensitivities will keep the US on the edge. To assure them that India was in its own league in South Asia and of America’s growing closeness, Secretary Clinton spent four days in India in July but refrained from a stopover in neighboring Pakistan.

    In a geopolitically sensitive region, where the US has to cater to important bilateral interests with China, even handedly deal with a Pakistan whose cooperation in Afghanistan is key to its success and which is increasingly angry over repeated American betrayals, and to keep the Taliban and Pashtun sensitivities in mind while negotiating a exit deal with them, the tendency to throw tantrums on the part of Indian leadership could make the new partnership difficult to sustain.

    Therefore, before rushing into a collaborative arrangement with India and offering highly sensitive nuclear technologies, the US will be well-advised to first test out the prickly world of relations with New Delhi.

    Despite tall claims about being the biggest democracy, India remains high on the list of human rights violations and has a long way to go in ensuring equal social status to Dalits (also called the untouchables) who form 20 percent of the population. It has been repeatedly accused of ethnic and religious cleansing of minorities.

    If the US could make a political issue out of Tiananmen Square and Obama could refer to human rights issues during his China visit, why should not India be held to the same standard during Singh’s visit.

    As for the Indian request for a permanent seat on the Security Council, it is important to bear in mind that India itself is involved in Kashmir dispute pending before the Security Council and whose Resolutions it has refused to implement. At the bottom of the dispute is the issue of exercise of the people’s will in determining Kashmir’s final dispensation. The dispute has led India to fight three wars with Pakistan and one with China. India has stationed several army divisions in Kashmir to subjugate the people and independent sources have confirmed killings of thousands of unarmed Kashmiris and sexual abuse perpetrated on thousands of women by these security forces.

    In response to a similar bid earlier, India was advised to first settle the Kashmir dispute. Then the U.S.-India relationship had just begun to take shape with limited US influence over India. But now that the US enjoys greater clout, it could more effectively pressure India for a negotiated settlement, which is in every one’s interest, as well as in the interest of peace.

    © Copyright 2009 by AxisofLogic.com

    No One Can Seperate Islam and Pakistan: Gen. Kayani

    November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

    PKKH

    Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that Pakistan was achieved in the name of Islam and the religion can never be expelled from the country.

    Addressing a gathering at Police Line Peshawar here, the COAS said that no one can separate Islam from Pakistan as the country was achieved in Islam’s name.

    http://pakistankakhudahafiz.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/6cc2d3396de565e151307f4efc85ac6f.jpg

    his comes after MQM, ANP and PPP said that they wanted to change the name of Pakistan from Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Peoples Republic of Pakistan.

    He said that Pakistan Army will succeed in its bid to root out extremism from the country in cooperation with the nation and the media.
    Announcing Rs 20 million for the martyrs of NWFP Police, Gen. Kayani said that the all kinds of needed weapons and ammunitions would be provided to police to make its progress better.

    Earlier, Chief of Army Staff General was received by Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Muhammad Masood Aslam at Peshawar Airport when he arrived here on a day-long visit on Wednesday.  He will also visited Lady Reading Hospital to express solidarity with the bomb blast victims.
    The Army Chief is schedule to meet Governor NWFP Owais Ahmad Ghani, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, tribal elders and students later in the day.

    India preparing for limited war against Pakistan: FO

    November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

    PYF


    ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit Tuesday urged the world community to take notice of remarks passed by the Indian Army Chief, saying India is setting the stage for a limited war against Pakistan since long.

    The FO spokesman said in its statement that the remarks of Indian Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor reflect the hazardous and aggressive nuclear theory propagated by India.

    The spokesman said Deepak’s statement endorses Indian’s aggression-based ambitions regarding nuclear hegemony, adding it is incumbent upon the big world powers to keep intact the power balance in the region.

    Abdul Basit said Pakistan is a responsible country and will continue working for the upkeep of peace in the South Asia on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

    Babri Mosque Massacre in Secular India

    November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

    By: TimesOnline

    World Agenda: BJP in the frame

    for Babri mosque massacre

    Hindu militants attack the Babri mosque, 1992

    (AFP/Getty Images)

    The demolition of the Babri mosque triggered a wave of religious violence that claimed 2,000 lives

    For 17 years, the destruction of the Babri mosque by a Hindu mob in the northern town of Ayodhya has marked one of the darkest days in the history of independent India.

    The demolition, on December 6, 1992, is making headlines once again after the official inquiry into the razing of the 16th-century mosque – an event that triggered a wave of religious violence across India that claimed 2,000, mostly Muslim, lives – was leaked yesterday, forcing the Government to make the full findings public.

    The report, prepared by a former judge, Justice M.S. Liberhan, blames several senior figures in the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – including the former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee – for inciting Hindus to commit violence while giving outward assurances that they were doing their best to maintain calm.

    The indictment of Mr Vajpayee will shock many in India, as he was supposed to represent the moderate face of his party. The harshest criticism, however, appears to be directed at Kalyan Singh, a BJP-linked politician who was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the state in which Ayodhya is located. The Liberhan Commission concludes that he orchestrated a “pogrom”.

    The central government of the time, by contrast, appears to have been largely exonerated – even though most analysts believe the prime minister of the day, P.V. Narasimha Rao, a member of the Congress Party, could have done more to protect the mosque, especially as the Supreme Court had ruled that it should be left standing.

    The findings, though open to charges of political partisanship, confirm a widely accepted version of events. Senior BJP figures – most notably L.K. Advani, the party’s current leader, who is also named as culpable in the Liberhan report – had campaigned for years for a Hindu temple to be built on the Ayodhya site. Indeed, the demand remains a BJP policy. The party’s argument: is that the Babri mosque was built by a Muslim invader at the birthplace of Lord Rama, the Hindu god.

    Behind the BJP – then and now – stands the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a shadowy 83-year old movement that wields enormous power but prefers to stay out of the limelight. The RSS claims to campaign peacefully to rid India of the legacies of foreign invasions, such as Islam. Its final aim is to establish a state built entirely on hindutva – or “hinduness”.

    That mission seems to have floundered. The BJP took a mauling in the general election this year in favour of the opposition Congress Party, a secular movement that has fostered an economic renaissance and which boosted its popularity by shelling out billions of pounds worth of aid to the poor.

    The RSS, as a consequence, seems to have slumped into an enforced period of self questioning, unsure what its role should be in today’s India. The criticism meted out by the Liberhan Commission seems likely to undermine its claims to have adopted a new ethos of inclusiveness – though it may also serve to galvanise its extreme core.

    Analysts suggest that India’s rising economic fortunes have neutered the RSS’s rallying cry – that Indian secularism is tilted in favor of the country’s minorities. Nevertheless, the mindset behind the Babri destruction persists. It was behind the anti-Muslim riots that erupted in Gujarat in 2002 and anti-Christian violence in Orissa last year.

    An attack on women dressed in Western-style clothes in a pub in Mangalore this year by members of the hardline Hindu group Sri Ram Sene suggested that the RSS’s rejection of “alien” cultures still has a resonance.

    The Liberhan Commission’s findings are not binding. It is likely that those it judges culpable – most of them old men now – will escape punishment for their roles in the Babri massacres. The report is still important, however, in that it spells out that politicians are guilty not only if they actively organise violence, but also if they stand aside while others incite it.

    As it says of the BJP hierarchy at the time of the Babri demolition: “They have violated the trust of the people …There can be no greater betrayal or crime in a democracy and this commission has no hesitation in condemning there pseudo-moderates for their sins of omission.”

    Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan

    November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

    PKKH

    JEREMY SCAHILL
    November 23, 2009

    At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

    The source, who has worked on covert US military programs for years, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has direct knowledge of Blackwater’s involvement. He spoke to The Nationon condition of anonymity because the program is classified. The source said that the program is so “compartmentalized” that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.

    The White House did not return calls or email messages seeking comment for this story. Capt. John Kirby, the spokesperson for Adm. Michael Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Nation, “We do not discuss current operations one way or the other, regardless of their nature.” A defense official, on background, specifically denied that Blackwater performs work on drone strikes or intelligence for JSOC in Pakistan. “We don’t have any contracts to do that work for us. We don’t contract that kind of work out, period,” the official said. “There has not been, and is not now, contracts between JSOC and that organization for these types of services.” The previously unreported program, the military intelligence source said, is distinct from the CIA assassination program that the agency’s director, Leon Panetta, announced he had canceled in June 2009. “This is a parallel operation to the CIA,” said the source. “They are two separate beasts.” The program puts Blackwater at the epicenter of a US military operation within the borders of a nation against which the United States has not declared war–knowledge that could further strain the already tense relations between the United States and Pakistan. In 2006, the United States and Pakistan struck a deal that authorized JSOC to enter Pakistan to hunt Osama bin Laden with the understanding that Pakistan would deny it had given permission. Officially, the United States is not supposed to have any active military operations in the country. Blackwater, which recently changed its name to Xe Services and US Training Center, denies the company is operating in Pakistan. “Xe Services has only one employee in Pakistan performing construction oversight for the U.S. Government,” Blackwater spokesperson Mark Corallo said in a statement to The Nation, adding that the company has “no other operations of any kind in Pakistan.”

    A former senior executive at Blackwater confirmed the military intelligence source’s claim that the company is working in Pakistan for the CIA and JSOC, the premier counterterrorism and covert operations force within the military. He said that Blackwater is also working for the Pakistani government on a subcontract with an Islamabad-based security firm that puts US Blackwater operatives on the ground with Pakistani forces in counter-terrorism operations, including house raids and border interdictions, in the North-West Frontier Province and elsewhere in Pakistan. This arrangement, the former executive said, allows the Pakistani government to utilize former US Special Operations forces who now work for Blackwater while denying an official US military presence in the country. He also confirmed that Blackwater has a facility in Karachi and has personnel deployed elsewhere in Pakistan. The former executive spoke on condition of anonymity.

    His account and that of the military intelligence source were borne out by a US military source who has knowledge of Special Forces actions in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When asked about Blackwater’s covert work for JSOC in Pakistan, this source, who also asked for anonymity, told The Nation, “From my information that I have, that is absolutely correct,” adding, “There’s no question that’s occurring.”

    “It wouldn’t surprise me because we’ve outsourced nearly everything,” said Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, when told of Blackwater’s role in Pakistan. Wilkerson said that during his time in the Bush administration, he saw the beginnings of Blackwater’s involvement with the sensitive operations of the military and CIA. “Part of this, of course, is an attempt to get around the constraints the Congress has placed on DoD. If you don’t have sufficient soldiers to do it, you hire civilians to do it. I mean, it’s that simple. It would not surprise me.”

    The Counterterrorism Tag Team in Karachi

    The covert JSOC program with Blackwater in Pakistan dates back to at least 2007, according to the military intelligence source. The current head of JSOC is Vice Adm. William McRaven, who took over the post from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC from 2003 to 2008 before being named the top US commander in Afghanistan. Blackwater’s presence in Pakistan is “not really visible, and that’s why nobody has cracked down on it,” said the source. Blackwater’s operations in Pakistan, he said, are not done through State Department contracts or publicly identified Defense contracts. “It’s Blackwater via JSOC, and it’s a classified no-bid [contract] approved on a rolling basis.” The main JSOC/Blackwater facility in Karachi, according to the source, is nondescript: three trailers with various generators, satellite phones and computer systems are used as a makeshift operations center. “It’s a very rudimentary operation,” says the source. “I would compare it to [CIA] outposts in Kurdistan or any of the Special Forces outposts. It’s very bare bones, and that’s the point.”

    Blackwater’s work for JSOC in Karachi is coordinated out of a Task Force based at Bagram Air Base in neighboring Afghanistan, according to the military intelligence source. While JSOC technically runs the operations in Karachi, he said, it is largely staffed by former US special operations soldiers working for a division of Blackwater, once known as Blackwater SELECT, and intelligence analysts working for a Blackwater affiliate, Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), which is owned by Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince. The military source said that the name Blackwater SELECT may have been changed recently. Total Intelligence, which is run out of an office on the ninth floor of a building in the Ballston area of Arlington, Virginia, is staffed by former analysts and operatives from the CIA, DIA, FBI and other agencies. It is modeled after the CIA’s counterterrorism center. In Karachi, TIS runs a “media-scouring/open-source network,” according to the source. Until recently, Total Intelligence was run by two former top CIA officials, Cofer Black and Robert Richer, both of whom have left the company. In Pakistan, Blackwater is not using either its original name or its new moniker, Xe Services, according to the former Blackwater executive. “They are running most of their work through TIS because the other two [names] have such a stain on them,” he said. Corallo, the Blackwater spokesperson, denied that TIS or any other division or affiliate of Blackwater has any personnel in Pakistan.

    The US military intelligence source said that Blackwater’s classified contracts keep getting renewed at the request of JSOC. Blackwater, he said, is already so deeply entrenched that it has become a staple of the US military operations in Pakistan. According to the former Blackwater executive, “The politics that go with the brand of BW is somewhat set aside because what you’re doing is really one military guy to another.” Blackwater’s first known contract with the CIA for operations in Afghanistan was awarded in 2002 and was for work along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

    One of the concerns raised by the military intelligence source is that some Blackwater personnel are being given rolling security clearances above their approved clearances. Using Alternative Compartmentalized Control Measures (ACCMs), he said, the Blackwater personnel are granted clearance to a Special Access Program, the bureaucratic term used to describe highly classified “black” operations. “With an ACCM, the security manager can grant access to you to be exposed to and operate within compartmentalized programs far above ’secret’–even though you have no business doing so,” said the source. It allows Blackwater personnel that “do not have the requisite security clearance or do not hold a security clearance whatsoever to participate in classified operations by virtue of trust,” he added. “Think of it as an ultra-exclusive level above top secret. That’s exactly what it is: a circle of love.” Blackwater, therefore, has access to “all source” reports that are culled in part from JSOC units in the field. “That’s how a lot of things over the years have been conducted with contractors,” said the source. “We have contractors that regularly see things that top policy-makers don’t unless they ask.”

    According to the source, Blackwater has effectively marketed itself as a company whose operatives have “conducted lethal direct action missions and now, for a price, you can have your own planning cell. JSOC just ate that up,” he said, adding, “They have a sizable force in Pakistan–not for any nefarious purpose if you really want to look at it that way–but to support a legitimate contract that’s classified for JSOC.” Blackwater’s Pakistan JSOC contracts are secret and are therefore shielded from public oversight, he said. The source is not sure when the arrangement with JSOC began, but he says that a spin-off of Blackwater SELECT “was issued a no-bid contract for support to shooters for a JSOC Task Force and they kept extending it.” Some of the Blackwater personnel, he said, work undercover as aid workers. “Nobody even gives them a second thought.”

    The military intelligence source said that the Blackwater/JSOC Karachi operation is referred to as “Qatar cubed,” in reference to the US forward operating base in Qatar that served as the hub for the planning and implementation of the US invasion of Iraq. “This is supposed to be the brave new world,” he says. “This is the Jamestown of the new millennium and it’s meant to be a lily pad. You can jump off to Uzbekistan, you can jump back over the border, you can jump sideways, you can jump northwest. It’s strategically located so that they can get their people wherever they have to without having to wrangle with the military chain of command in Afghanistan, which is convoluted. They don’t have to deal with that because they’re operating under a classified mandate.”

    In addition to planning drone strikes and operations against suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan for both JSOC and the CIA, the Blackwater team in Karachi also helps plan missions for JSOC inside Uzbekistan against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, according to the military intelligence source. Blackwater does not actually carry out the operations, he said, which are executed on the ground by JSOC forces. “That piqued my curiosity and really worries me because I don’t know if you noticed but I was never told we are at war with Uzbekistan,” he said. “So, did I miss something, did Rumsfeld come back into power?”

    Pakistan’s Military Contracting Maze

    Blackwater, according to the military intelligence source, is not doing the actual killing as part of its work in Pakistan. “The SELECT personnel are not going into places with private aircraft and going after targets,” he said. “It’s not like Blackwater SELECT people are running around assassinating people.” Instead, US Special Forces teams carry out the plans developed in part by Blackwater. The military intelligence source drew a distinction between the Blackwater operatives who work for the State Department, which he calls “Blackwater Vanilla,” and the seasoned Special Forces veterans who work on the JSOC program. “Good or bad, there’s a small number of people who know how to pull off an operation like that. That’s probably a good thing,” said the source. “It’s the Blackwater SELECT people that have and continue to plan these types of operations because they’re the only people that know how and they went where the money was. It’s not trigger-happy fucks, like some of the PSD [Personal Security Detail] guys. These are not people that believe that Barack Obama is a socialist, these are not people that kill innocent civilians. They’re very good at what they do.”

    The former Blackwater executive, when asked for confirmation that Blackwater forces were not actively killing people in Pakistan, said, “that’s not entirely accurate.” While he concurred with the military intelligence source’s description of the JSOC and CIA programs, he pointed to another role Blackwater is allegedly playing in Pakistan, not for the US government but for Islamabad. According to the executive, Blackwater works on a subcontract for Kestral Logistics, a powerful Pakistani firm, which specializes in military logistical support, private security and intelligence consulting. It is staffed with former high-ranking Pakistani army and government officials. While Kestral’s main offices are in Pakistan, it also has branches in several other countries.

    A spokesperson for the US State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), which is responsible for issuing licenses to US corporations to provide defense-related services to foreign governments or entities, would neither confirm nor deny for The Nation that Blackwater has a license to work in Pakistan or to work with Kestral. “We cannot help you,” said department spokesperson David McKeeby after checking with the relevant DDTC officials. “You’ll have to contact the companies directly.” Blackwater’s Corallo said the company has “no operations of any kind” in Pakistan other than the one employee working for the DoD. Kestral did not respond to inquiries from The Nation.

    According to federal lobbying records, Kestral recently hired former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, who served in that post from 2003 to 2005, to lobby the US government, including the State Department, USAID and Congress, on foreign affairs issues “regarding [Kestral’s] capabilities to carry out activities of interest to the United States.” Noriega was hired through his firm, Vision Americas, which he runs with Christina Rocca, a former CIA operations official who served as assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs from 2001 to 2006 and was deeply involved in shaping US policy toward Pakistan. In October 2009, Kestral paid Vision Americas $15,000 and paid a Vision Americas-affiliated firm, Firecreek Ltd., an equal amount to lobby on defense and foreign policy issues.

    For years, Kestral has done a robust business in defense logistics with the Pakistani government and other nations, as well as top US defense companies. Blackwater owner Erik Prince is close with Kestral CEO Liaquat Ali Baig, according to the former Blackwater executive. “Ali and Erik have a pretty close relationship,” he said. “They’ve met many times and struck a deal, and they [offer] mutual support for one another.” Working with Kestral, he said, Blackwater has provided convoy security for Defense Department shipments destined for Afghanistan that would arrive in the port at Karachi. Blackwater, according to the former executive, would guard the supplies as they were transported overland from Karachi to Peshawar and then west through the Torkham border crossing, the most important supply route for the US military in Afghanistan.

    According to the former executive, Blackwater operatives also integrate with Kestral’s forces in sensitive counterterrorism operations in the North-West Frontier Province, where they work in conjunction with the Pakistani Interior Ministry’s paramilitary force, known as the Frontier Corps (alternately referred to as “frontier scouts”). The Blackwater personnel are technically advisers, but the former executive said that the line often gets blurred in the field. Blackwater “is providing the actual guidance on how to do [counterterrorism operations] and Kestral’s folks are carrying a lot of them out, but they’re having the guidance and the overwatch from some BW guys that will actually go out with the teams when they’re executing the job,” he said. “You can see how that can lead to other things in the border areas.” He said that when Blackwater personnel are out with the Pakistani teams, sometimes its men engage in operations against suspected terrorists. “You’ve got BW guys that are assisting… and they’re all going to want to go on the jobs–so they’re going to go with them,” he said. “So, the things that you’re seeing in the news about how this Pakistani military group came in and raided this house or did this or did that–in some of those cases, you’re going to have Western folks that are right there at the house, if not in the house.” Blackwater, he said, is paid by the Pakistani government through Kestral for consulting services. “That gives the Pakistani government the cover to say, ‘Hey, no, we don’t have any Westerners doing this. It’s all local and our people are doing it.’ But it gets them the expertise that Westerners provide for [counterterrorism]-related work.”

    The military intelligence source confirmed Blackwater works with the Frontier Corps, saying, “There’s no real oversight. It’s not really on people’s radar screen.”

    In October, in response to Pakistani news reports that a Kestral warehouse in Islamabad was being used to store heavy weapons for Blackwater, the US Embassy in Pakistan released a statement denying the weapons were being used by “a private American security contractor.” The statement said, “Kestral Logistics is a private logistics company that handles the importation of equipment and supplies provided by the United States to the Government of Pakistan. All of the equipment and supplies were imported at the request of the Government of Pakistan, which also certified the shipments.”

    Who is Behind the Drone Attacks?

    Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated, the United States has expanded drone bombing raids in Pakistan. Obama first ordered a drone strike against targets in North and South Waziristan on January 23, and the strikes have been conducted consistently ever since. The Obama administration has now surpassed the number of Bush-era strikes in Pakistan and has faced fierce criticism from Pakistan and some US lawmakers over civilian deaths. A drone attack in June killed as many as sixty people attending a Taliban funeral.

    In August, the New York Times reported that Blackwater works for the CIA at “hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft.” In February, The Times of London obtained a satellite image of a secret CIA airbase in Shamsi, in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan, showing three drone aircraft. The New York Times also reported that the agency uses a secret base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to strike in Pakistan.

    The military intelligence source says that the drone strike that reportedly killed Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, his wife and his bodyguards in Waziristan in August was a CIA strike, but that many others attributed in media reports to the CIA are actually JSOC strikes. “Some of these strikes are attributed to OGA [Other Government Agency, intelligence parlance for the CIA], but in reality it’s JSOC and their parallel program of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] because they also have access to UAVs. So when you see some of these hits, especially the ones with high civilian casualties, those are almost always JSOC strikes.” The Pentagon has stated bluntly, “There are no US military strike operations being conducted in Pakistan.”

    The military intelligence source also confirmed that Blackwater continues to work for the CIA on its drone bombing program in Pakistan, as previously reported in the New York Times, but added that Blackwater is working on JSOC’s drone bombings as well. “It’s Blackwater running the program for both CIA and JSOC,” said the source. When civilians are killed, “people go, ‘Oh, it’s the CIA doing crazy shit again unchecked.’ Well, at least 50 percent of the time, that’s JSOC [hitting] somebody they’ve identified through HUMINT [human intelligence] or they’ve culled the intelligence themselves or it’s been shared with them and they take that person out and that’s how it works.”

    The military intelligence source says that the CIA operations are subject to Congressional oversight, unlike the parallel JSOC bombings. “Targeted killings are not the most popular thing in town right now and the CIA knows that,” he says. “Contractors and especially JSOC personnel working under a classified mandate are not [overseen by Congress], so they just don’t care. If there’s one person they’re going after and there’s thirty-four people in the building, thirty-five people are going to die. That’s the mentality.” He added, “They’re not accountable to anybody and they know that. It’s an open secret, but what are you going to do, shut down JSOC?”

    In addition to working on covert action planning and drone strikes, Blackwater SELECT also provides private guards to perform the sensitive task of security for secret US drone bases, JSOC camps and Defense Intelligence Agency camps inside Pakistan, according to the military intelligence source.

    Mosharraf Zaidi, a well-known Pakistani journalist who has served as a consultant for the UN and European Union in Pakistan and Afghanistan, says that the Blackwater/JSOC program raises serious questions about the norms of international relations. “The immediate question is, How do you define the active pursuit of military objectives in a country with which not only have you not declared war but that is supposedly a front-line non-NATO ally in the US struggle to contain extremist violence coming out of Afghanistan and the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan?” asks Zaidi, who is currently a columnist for The News, the biggest English-language daily in Pakistan. “Let’s forget Blackwater for a second. What this is confirming is that there are US military operations in Pakistan that aren’t about logistics or getting food to Bagram; that are actually about the exercise of physical violence, physical force inside of Pakistani territory.”

    JSOC: Rumsfeld and Cheney’s Extra Special Force

    Colonel Wilkerson said that he is concerned that with General McChrystal’s elevation as the military commander of the Afghan war–which is increasingly seeping into Pakistan–there is a concomitant rise in JSOC’s power and influence within the military structure. “I don’t see how you can escape that; it’s just a matter of the way the authority flows and the power flows, and it’s inevitable, I think,” Wilkerson toldThe Nation. He added, “I’m alarmed when I see execute orders and combat orders that go out saying that the supporting force is Central Command and the supported force is Special Operations Command,” under which JSOC operates. “That’s backward. But that’s essentially what we have today.”

    From 2003 to 2008 McChrystal headed JSOC, which is headquartered at Pope Air Force Base and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where Blackwater’s 7,000-acre operating base is also situated. JSOC controls the Army’s Delta Force, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, as well as the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron. JSOC performs strike operations, reconnaissance in denied areas and special intelligence missions. Blackwater, which was founded by former Navy SEALs, employs scores of veteran Special Forces operators–which several former military officials pointed to as the basis for Blackwater’s alleged contracts with JSOC.

    Since 9/11, many top-level Special Forces veterans have taken up employment with private firms, where they can make more money doing the highly specialized work they did in uniform. “The Blackwater individuals have the experience. A lot of these individuals are retired military, and they’ve been around twenty to thirty years and have experience that the younger Green Beret guys don’t,” said retired Army Lieut. Col. Jeffrey Addicott, a well-connected military lawyer who served as senior legal counsel for US Army Special Forces. “They’re known entities. Everybody knows who they are, what their capabilities are, and they’ve got the experience. They’re very valuable.”

    “They make much more money being the smarts of these operations, planning hits in various countries and basing it off their experience in Chechnya, Bosnia, Somalia, Ethiopia,” said the military intelligence source. “They were there for all of these things, they know what the hell they’re talking about. And JSOC has unfortunately lost the institutional capability to plan within, so they hire back people that used to work for them and had already planned and executed these [types of] operations. They hired back people that jumped over to Blackwater SELECT and then pay them exorbitant amounts of money to plan future operations. It’s a ridiculous revolving door.”

    While JSOC has long played a central role in US counterterrorism and covert operations, military and civilian officials who worked at the Defense and State Departments during the Bush administration described in interviews with The Nation an extremely cozy relationship that developed between the executive branch (primarily through Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) and JSOC. During the Bush era, Special Forces turned into a virtual stand-alone operation that acted outside the military chain of command and in direct coordination with the White House. Throughout the Bush years, it was largely General McChrystal who ran JSOC. “What I was seeing was the development of what I would later see in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Special Operations forces would operate in both theaters without the conventional commander even knowing what they were doing,” said Colonel Wilkerson. “That’s dangerous, that’s very dangerous. You have all kinds of mess when you don’t tell the theater commander what you’re doing.”

    Wilkerson said that almost immediately after assuming his role at the State Department under Colin Powell, he saw JSOC being politicized and developing a close relationship with the executive branch. He saw this begin, he said, after his first Delta Force briefing at Fort Bragg. “I think Cheney and Rumsfeld went directly into JSOC. I think they went into JSOC at times, perhaps most frequently, without the SOCOM [Special Operations] commander at the time even knowing it. The receptivity in JSOC was quite good,” says Wilkerson. “I think Cheney was actually giving McChrystal instructions, and McChrystal was asking him for instructions.” He said the relationship between JSOC and Cheney and Rumsfeld “built up initially because Rumsfeld didn’t get the responsiveness. He didn’t get the can-do kind of attitude out of the SOCOM commander, and so as Rumsfeld was wont to do, he cut him out and went straight to the horse’s mouth. At that point you had JSOC operating as an extension of the [administration] doing things the executive branch–read: Cheney and Rumsfeld–wanted it to do. This would be more or less carte blanche. You need to do it, do it. It was very alarming for me as a conventional soldier.”

    Wilkerson said the JSOC teams caused diplomatic problems for the United States across the globe. “When these teams started hitting capital cities and other places all around the world, [Rumsfeld] didn’t tell the State Department either. The only way we found out about it is our ambassadors started to call us and say, ‘Who the hell are these six-foot-four white males with eighteen-inch biceps walking around our capital cities?’ So we discovered this, we discovered one in South America, for example, because he actually murdered a taxi driver, and we had to get him out of there real quick. We rendered him–we rendered him home.”

    As part of their strategy, Rumsfeld and Cheney also created the Strategic Support Branch (SSB), which pulled intelligence resources from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA for use in sensitive JSOC operations. The SSB was created using “reprogrammed” funds “without explicit congressional authority or appropriation,” according to the Washington Post. The SSB operated outside the military chain of command and circumvented the CIA’s authority on clandestine operations. Rumsfeld created it as part of his war to end “near total dependence on CIA.” Under US law, the Defense Department is required to report all deployment orders to Congress. But guidelines issued in January 2005 by former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone stated that Special Operations forces may “conduct clandestine HUMINT operations…before publication” of a deployment order. This effectively gave Rumsfeld unilateral control over clandestine operations.

    The military intelligence source said that when Rumsfeld was defense secretary, JSOC was deployed to commit some of the “darkest acts” in part to keep them concealed from Congress. “Everything can be justified as a military operation versus a clandestine intelligence performed by the CIA, which has to be informed to Congress,” said the source. “They were aware of that and they knew that, and they would exploit it at every turn and they took full advantage of it. They knew they could act extra-legally and nothing would happen because A, it was sanctioned by DoD at the highest levels, and B, who was going to stop them? They were preparing the battlefield, which was on all of the PowerPoints: ‘Preparing the Battlefield.’”

    The significance of the flexibility of JSOC’s operations inside Pakistan versus the CIA’s is best summed up by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Every single intelligence operation and covert action must be briefed to the Congress,” she said. “If they are not, that is a violation of the law.”

    Blackwater: Company Non Grata in Pakistan

    For months, the Pakistani media has been flooded with stories about Blackwater’s alleged growing presence in the country. For the most part, these stories have been ignored by the US press and denounced as lies or propaganda by US officials in Pakistan. But the reality is that, although many of the stories appear to be wildly exaggerated, Pakistanis have good reason to be concerned about Blackwater’s operations in their country. It is no secret in Washington or Islamabad that Blackwater has been a central part of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that the company has been involved–almost from the beginning of the “war on terror”–with clandestine US operations. Indeed, Blackwater is accepting applications for contractors fluent in Urdu and Punjabi. The US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, has denied Blackwater’s presence in the country, stating bluntly in September, “Blackwater is not operating in Pakistan.” In her trip to Pakistan in October, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dodged questions from the Pakistani press about Blackwater’s rumored Pakistani operations. Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, said on November 21 he will resign if Blackwater is found operating anywhere in Pakistan.

    The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that Blackwater “provides security for a US-backed aid project” in Peshawar, suggesting the company may be based out of the Pearl Continental, a luxury hotel the United States reportedly is considering purchasing to use as a consulate in the city. “We have no contracts in Pakistan,” Blackwater spokesperson Stacey DeLuke said recently. “We’ve been blamed for all that has gone wrong in Peshawar, none of which is true, since we have absolutely no presence there.”

    Reports of Blackwater’s alleged presence in Karachi and elsewhere in the country have been floating around the Pakistani press for months. Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist who rose to fame after his 1997 interview with Osama bin Laden, claimed in a recent interview that Blackwater is in Karachi. “The US [intelligence] agencies think that a number of Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders are hiding in Karachi and Peshawar,” he said. “That is why [Blackwater] agents are operating in these two cities.” Ambassador Patterson has said that the claims of Mir and other Pakistani journalists are “wildly incorrect,” saying they had compromised the security of US personnel in Pakistan. On November 20 theWashington Times, citing three current and former US intelligence officials, reported that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, has “found refuge from potential U.S. attacks” in Karachi “with the assistance of Pakistan’s intelligence service.”

    In September, the Pakistani press covered a report on Blackwater allegedly submitted by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to the federal interior ministry. In the report, the intelligence agencies reportedly allege that Blackwater was provided houses by a federal minister who is also helping them clear shipments of weapons and vehicles through Karachi’s Port Qasim on the coast of the Arabian Sea. The military intelligence source did not confirm this but did say, “The port jives because they have a lot of [former] SEALs and they would revert to what they know: the ocean, instead of flying stuff in.”

    The Nation cannot independently confirm these allegations and has not seen the Pakistani intelligence report. But according to Pakistani press coverage, the intelligence report also said Blackwater has acquired “bungalows” in the Defense Housing Authority in the city. According to the DHA website, it is a large gated community established “for the welfare of the serving and retired officers of the Armed Forces of Pakistan.” Its motto is: “Home for Defenders.” The report alleges Blackwater is receiving help from local government officials in Karachi and is using vehicles with license plates traditionally assigned to members of the national and provincial assemblies, meaning local law enforcement will not stop them.

    The use of private companies like Blackwater for sensitive operations such as drone strikes or other covert work undoubtedly comes with the benefit of plausible deniability that places an additional barrier in an already deeply flawed system of accountability. When things go wrong, it’s the contractors’ fault, not the government’s. But the widespread use of contractors also raises serious legal questions, particularly when they are a part of lethal, covert actions. “We are using contractors for things that in the past might have been considered to be a violation of the Geneva Convention,” said Lt. Col. Addicott, who now runs the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas. “In my opinion, we have pressed the envelope to the breaking limit, and it’s almost a fiction that these guys are not in offensive military operations.” Addicott added, “If we were subjected to the International Criminal Court, some of these guys could easily be picked up, charged with war crimes and put on trial. That’s one of the reasons we’re not members of the International Criminal Court.”

    If there is one quality that has defined Blackwater over the past decade, it is the ability to survive against the odds while simultaneously reinventing and rebranding itself. That is most evident in Afghanistan, where the company continues to work for the US military, the CIA and the State Department despite intense criticism and almost weekly scandals. Blackwater’s alleged Pakistan operations, said the military intelligence source, are indicative of its new frontier. “Having learned its lessons after the private security contracting fiasco in Iraq, Blackwater has shifted its operational focus to two venues: protecting things that are in danger and anticipating other places we’re going to go as a nation that are dangerous,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”