Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ISIS: The US-CIA Connection

In July of 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama stated on camera:

“We’re speeding up training of ISIL forces, including volunteers from Sunni tribes in Anbar Province.”[1]

This was immediately dismissed as a “Freudian slip.” However, one need not emphasize such provocative remarks in order to discover a connection between the United States and ISIS. Concrete evidence of such a sub rosa link is contained in a declassified government document.

“The general situation: Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction. The Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [i.e., al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the [Assad] regime.”[2]

One possibility is that “the U.S. and other NATO nations are arming and funding ISIS to topple Syrian president Bashir al-Assad, who stands in the way of a critical natural gas pipeline that would depose Russia as Europe’s primary source of energy.”[3]

For example, “[a] Syrian Catholic archbishop has accused the United States of joining forces with al-Qaeda in an attempt to topple President Bashar Al-Assad. Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo of Hassaké-Nisibi said he believed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was arming and training rebel groups in Syria which were al-Qaeda under ‘a different name.’”[4]

The archbishop’s words followed the assertion, by U.S. Senator John McCain, that Russian military “strikes were against the individuals and the groups that have been funded and trained by our CIA…”[5]

“…‘US Senator John McCain …[recently said]that the Russians are not bombing the positions of ISIS, but rather the anti-Assad rebels trained by the CIA,’ Archbishop Hindo told Fides, a Vatican-based news agency. ‘I find these words are disturbing. …They represent a blatant admission that behind the war against Assad there is also the CIA. …Western propaganda keeps talking about moderate rebels, who do not exist. There is something very disturbing about all this – there is a superpower that since September 11 protests because the Russians hit the militias of al-Qaeda in Syria. …What does it mean, (that) al-Qaeda is now a US ally, just because in Syria it has a different name? But do they really despise our intelligence and our memory?”[6]

Previously, retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas G. McInerney stated:

“[In] Syria we backed, I believe in some cases, some of the wrong people, and …not in the right part of the Free Syrian Army. And that’s a little confusing to people. So I’ve always maintained, and go back quite some time, that we were backing the wrong types. I think it’s going to turn out maybe this weekend, in a new special that Bret Baier [of Fox News] is going to have Friday, it’s going to show that some of those weapons from Benghazi ended up in the hands of ISIS. So we helped build ISIS. Now there’s a danger there. And I’m with you.”[7]

Gen. McInerney’s statement agrees with a later one from retired four-star U.S. Army General Wesley Kanne Clark, Sr., who said:

“Look: ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies. Because, as people will tell you in the region, if you want somebody who will fight to the death against Hezbollah, you don’t put out a recruiting poster and say, ‘Sign up for us’ or ‘We’re going to make a better world.’ You go after zealots and you go after these religious fundamentalists. That’s who fights Hezbollah. ...It’s like a Frankenstein.[8]

American journalist Steven C. Clemons made similar remarks on the news network MSNBC:

“[W]e see in cases like ISIS instantly, Saudi money, private nongovernment money has helped build ISIS particularly in the early stages.”[9]

Of course, one must bear in mind that the context for these remarks is the fact – already a matter of public record – that the U.S. intelligence community was responsible for the origination of Al-Qaida. Would you believe that Osama bin Laden was a Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) “creation”?

“Osama bin Laden, the man suspected by Washington to be the mastermind behind Tuesday’s [i.e., Tues., Sept. 11, 2001] devastating attacks on the US World Trade Center and the Pentagon, is arguably the creation of a CIA-led coalition that grew out of Afghanistan’s war with the Russians. …So if bin Laden is a monster, the logic goes, then he is a monster created by the US and its allies. …Asked how the current situation had arisen, [author and Afghan expert John] Cooley replied:

“‘The [former U.S. president Jimmy] Carter administration in 1979 decided …to recruit, arm and train, and pay, and deploy an army of mercenary volunteers. They were Muslims from all parts of the world, including black American Muslims. …And the CIA managed the recruiting process. Recruits were sent to Afghanistan, trained under some CIA officers or Pakistani military intelligence officers who were trained by the CIA in the US. There were many former CIA officers in charge of the programme.’”[10]

Additionally, an Agence France-Presse dispatch disclosed that bin Laden had met with a C.I.A. liaison prior to September 11.

“A report today says that Osama bin Laden underwent treatment in July at the American Hospital in Dubai, where he met with a CIA agent. Citing an unnamed source at the hospital, the report says the suspected terrorist arrived in Dubai on July 4 by air from Quetta, Pakistan, and was taken immediately to the hospital for kidney treatment, staying until July 14. During his stay he allegedly met an unidentified CIA agent, who was recalled to Washington on July 15, the report said. It said Mr. bin Laden was accompanied by a doctor, bodyguards and a nurse.”[11]

By 2006, during the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, it was publicly declared that finding bin Laden was no longer even an objective.

“The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday. The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said.”[12]

Curiously, bin Laden’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) “Most Wanted Poster,” updated in November of 2001, never reflected the fact that he was supposedly the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.[13]

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that media reports initially represented bin Laden disclaiming involvement in the attacks of Sept. 11. According to Cable News Network (CNN):

“Islamic militant leader Osama bin Laden, the man the United States considers the prime suspect in last week’s terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, denied any role Sunday in the actions believed to have killed thousands.”[14]

Bin Laden reportedly said:

“The U.S. government has consistently blamed me for being behind every occasion its enemies attack it. I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons. I have been living in the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan and following its leaders’ rules. The current leader does not allow me to exercise such operations.”[15]

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Timothy Weiner, even in the early 1990s, there was “a 36-billion-dollar cache used by the Pentagon to fund its own agenda of top-secret weapons and wars.”[16]

No wonder C.I.A. counterintelligence insider James Jesus Angleton called the world of espionage the “wilderness of mirrors.”[17]

It is in light of this background information that reports about ISIS must be evaluated.[18]


For related information, see also ISIS Unveiled in Paris?.


[1] Barack Obama, press statement, Jul. 6, 2015; reproduced at “Freudian Slip? Obama Vows to Speed up ‘Training ISIL’, WH Edit Adds Confusion (Video),” Jul. 8, 2015, updated Jul. 9, 2015, <>. See the White House’s edited transcript ““Remarks by the President on Progress in the Fight Against ISIL,” White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Jul. 6, 2015, <>.

[2] United States, gov. doc., cached at Judicial Watch, <>.

[3] Kit Daniels, “Hackers Point out U.S. Arming, Funding ISIS: Hackers Deface U.S. Army Website to Underscore How the U.S. is Supporting ISIS to Topple Assad,” Infowars, Jun. 8, 2015, <>.

[4] Simon Caldwell, “Syrian Archbishop Criticises U.S. for ‘Siding With al-Qaeda’,” Catholic Herald [U.K.], Oct. 6, 2015, <>.

[5] <>.

[6] Caldwell, loc. cit.

[7] Gen. Thomas McInerney, appearing on Fox News; as of this writing, the interview segment was posted online as “Retired Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney Admits ‘We Helped Build ISIS’,” YouTube, Sept. 3, 2014, <>. Cf. Paul Joseph Watson, “Gen. McInerney: ‘We Helped Build ISIS’: Weapons From Benghazi Ended up in the Hands of Islamic State Radicals,” Infowars, Sept. 3, 2014, <>.

[8] Gen. Wesley Clark, Brooke Baldwin, “Interview With Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark; President Obama Requests Authority for War On ISIS,” CNN Newsroom, CNN, Feb. 11, 2015, accessed via LexisNexis. Cf. Pete Papaherakles, “U.S. General: West Created ISIS,” American Free Press, Mar. 19, 2015, <>. As of this writing, the segment is posted online by Brandon Martinez, “Wesley Clark: ‘Our Friends and Allies Funded ISIS to Destroy Hezbollah’,” YouTube, Feb. 17, 2015, <>.

[9] Steven Clemons, interviewed by Edward A. “Ed” Schultz, “The Ed Show,” Politics Nation, MSNBC, Feb. 5, 2015, accessed via LexisNexis. The Saudi angle was also explored by Lyndon Larouche’s periodical. See Ramtanu Maitra, “Under London’s Wing: ISIS: Saudi-Qatari-Funded Wahhabi Terrorists Worldwide,” Executive Intelligence Review, Aug. 29, 2014, <>.

[10] Thierry Masure, “Bin Laden: Product of the Afghanistan War and a U.S. Alliance in the East,” Agence France-Presse [English], Sept. 15, 2001; cached online at <>.

[11] “Bin Laden Was Treated in Hospital, Reports Say,” Agence France-Presse via Globe and Mail [Canada], Oct. 31, 2001, Wednesday, p. A12.

[12] Mark Mazzetti, “C.I.A. Closes Unit Focused on Capture of bin Laden,” New York Times, Jul. 4, 2006, p. A4, <>. For an argument that the real Osama bin Laden in fact died sometime in Dec. 2001, see David Ray Griffin, Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch Press, 2009.

Of course, according to the “official” story, the details of which, like so many other fairy tales, are prone to variation, Marvel Comics’s …er, I mean, the Navy’s Seal Team Six assassinated bin Laden and then the remains were taken aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson and “slid off [the vessel] into the sea… because no country would accept bin Laden’s remains…”. According to Jim Garamone, “Bin Laden Buried at Sea,” American Forces Press Service, May 2, 2011, <>.]

However, according to the hacker group Anonymous, a leaked intelligence email reveals that “Bin Laden WAS NOT buried at sea, but flown to the U.S. for cremation at secret location…”. According to Thomas Durante, Daily Mail [U.K.], Mar. 7, 2012, < buried-sea-flown-US-cremation-leaked-emails-reveal.html>.

[13] See “Usama bin Laden,” F.B.I., Jun., 1999, updated Nov., 2001, <>.

[14] “Bin Laden Says He Wasn’t Behind Attacks,” CNN, Sept. 17, 2001, <>.

[15] Osama bin Laden, statement, Al Jazeera [Qatar]; quoted in ibid.

[16] Tim Weiner, Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget, New York: Warner Books, 1991, back matter; archived online at <>.

[17] See David C. Martin, Wilderness of Mirrors, reprint ed., Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press, 2003 [orig. New York: Harper & Row, 1980], p. 10.

[18] At the outer-limits of plausibility, it has even been suggested that ISIS is being led by an Israeli intelligence “mole.” "The leader of the radical Islamic State (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been reputed to be a Mossad-trained operative whose real name is Elliot Shimon, the son of Jewish parents. This information is said to have originated from 1.7 million pages of top-secret documents recently released by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden and made public by Iranian intelligence. Arabic Internet radio website '' and the Arabic news website 'Egy-press' were also early sources before the news went viral. Although it cannot be conclusively verified at this point, evidence points in that direction." Pete Papaherakles, “Is ‘IS’ a CIA-Mossad Creation?” American Free Press, Aug. 28, 2014, <>.

Admittedly, this might be disinformation (or “noise”). The U.S. people seem to be a primary target of propaganda. See “U.S. Military Stoking Xenophobia in Iraq,” UPI, Apr. 10, 2006 and Carla Anne Robbins, “Spin Control: U.S. Has Early Priority: Managing Its Message,” Wall Street Journal, Oct 4, 2001, p. A.1. For more information, see James Bamford’s books The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America’s Most Secret Agency, Harmondsworth, Middlesex [U.K.], 1982; New York: Penguin, 1983 and The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, New York: Doubleday, 2008.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

First Woman President

The first woman president (initially Woodrow Wilson's first lady) of the United States, Edith Wilson (née Bolling): 1919-1921.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Argument Cop-Outs, Part 3: The Masonic Origin of ‘Never Talk Politics or Religion’

Argument Cop-Outs, Part 3: The Masonic Origin of ‘Never Talk Politics or Religion’

In a previous installment, titled “Argument Cop-Outs, Part 1,” I picked a few bones with “Let’s just agree to disagree.” In this post, I will register a few points concerning the practical so-called “advice” that encourages aspiring well-mannered types to forebear from discussing “politics and religion.”[1]

For example, a quick Google search turned up the following.

“I was always raised that as an adult, there are certain things you do not discuss in public. …There are certain things that no one should discuss in public. …[D]iscussing [your political views] in public …is rude. …Everyone should just avoid the possibility of starting an argument by never speaking about [religion].”[2]

How did this claptrap come to pass for sage advice? To get a fix on the contours of phrase’s supposed purview, let us inspect its origins.

At the website The Phrase Finder, one Larry C. Shelton asked: “Who originated the phrase ‘never discuss politics and religion’?”[3]

By way of reply, a responder wrote: “I couldn’t find anything specific. But the rule is to not discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. ‘Emily Post and other self appointed arbiters of etiquette have long ruled that politics and religion should be scrupulously avoided at dinner…’ …’Religion is by no means a proper subject of conversation in mixed company.’ Earl of Chesterfield, letter to his godson, undated.”[4]

In Emily Post’s Etiquette, we read: “Conversation is …[an] essential ingredient to every meal. …For the most part, avoid controversial topics such as money, politics, and religion. That’s not to say you can’t discuss the news of the day, but be careful if you are with people who are staunchly on the opposite end of any spectrum.”[5]

Instead, the manual recommends staying with “Safe Topics.” “You can always count on pop culture - sports, sports personalities, TV music, and films.”[6]

In other words, as Noam Chomsky once put it (albeit in another context altogether), the etiquette guide suggests sticking with topics that have "no importance for our lives."

The daughter of architect Bruce Price, Post (born Emily Price) was a late-19th/early-20th century American aristocrat and socialite. Can her “advice” be traced back further in time?

Philip Dormer Stanhope, the Fourth Earl of Chesterfield, was born in 1694 and died in 1773. His statement on polite conversation, partially quoted above,[7] does appear to express sentiments similar to those of Post.

“The three commonest topics of conversation are religion, politics, and news. All people think that they understand the two first perfectly, though they never studied either, and are therefore very apt to talk of them both dogmatically and ignorantly, consequently with warmth.

“But religion is by no means a proper subject for conversation in a mixed company. It should only be treated among a very few people of learning for mutual instruction. It is too awful [i.e., full of aw - Ed.] and respectable a subject to become a familiar[8] one. Therefore never mingle yourself in it, any further than to express a universal toleration and indulgence to all errors in it, if conscientiously entertained; for every man has as good a right to think as he does as you have to think as you do; nay, in truth he cannot help it.

“As for politics, they are still more universally understood, and as every one thinks his private interest more or less concerned in them, nobody hesitates to pronounce decisively upon them, not even the ladies; the copiousness of whose eloquence is more to be admired upon that subject than the conclusiveness of their logic.

“It will be impossible for you to avoid engaging in these conversations, for there are hardly any others; but take care to do it very coolly and with great good-humor; and whenever you find that the company begins to be heated and noisy for the good of their country, be only a patient hearer; unless you can interpose by some agreeable badinage and restore good-humor to the company.”[9]

Stanhope’s counsel is nearly equal parts a regurgitation of the religious toleration common by the 18th century and a Machiavellian directive aimed at helping his godson successfully “network” (to use today's lingo).

Of course, the idea of “every man [having] as good a right to think as he does as you have to think as you do” – whether in politics or religion – basically summarizes a few strands of the First Amendment.[10]

Therefore, at best, the “never talk politics or religion” guidance is a contemporary rehashing of an Enlightenment-era plea for “toleration.” If it had merit, its origin would be irrelevant. But it appears to me to depend upon, embody or imply two mistakes.

Before I endeavor to take the titular prescription back a few notches prior to Stanhope, let me just say a word about these. Number one, the word “argument” is ambiguous. On the one hand, it designates a dispute, possibly involving commotion and yelling. On the other hand, it refers to sets of statements such that some proper subset, called the “premises,” entail the complementary subset, called the “conclusions.” Writers like poor Mrs. Batista have no familiarity with the latter and therefore resist any philosophically-weighty discussion out of fear of starting a ruckus. For such as she, I recommend associating with a higher caliber of individual.

Number two, as I have written elsewhere, “right” is also ambiguous. We might speak about moral rights, or entitlement based upon the objective Good; legal rights, or entitlement stemming from some positive law code; human rights, or entitlement rooted in essential human properties; rational rights, or doxastic-epistemic entitlement as an outgrowth of sound evidence; and so on. Although several (or even all) of these sorts arguably overlap, they are nonetheless separable and distinguishable. And we need to know which sort is in view. [11]

I do not wish to dispute that, for example, any given American citizen has as good a right to think as he/she does as any other citizen. Let’s say that this is because the Constitution grounds theses rights and guarantees “equal protection” and so on.[12]

What is most relevant for the purposes of a discussion of “argument cop-outs,” is the fact that a rational entitlement and a legal entitlement are not the same thing. While (in theory) any given American citizen enjoys the same legal right to his or her beliefs as any other American citizen, any given American citizen does not necessarily have the same rational right to his or her beliefs as another person chosen at random. The reason is straightforward. Rational rights for x to believe some proposition, p, proceed from the arguments and evidence that x has for p.[13]

If John Doe has little to nothing by way of (good) arguments or evidence for p, and Jane Doe has (good) arguments and evidence for not-p, then Jane will have a measure of rational entitlement for her belief (in the pertinent case) that John does not have. If John manages to secure some evidence, then this justificatory imbalance might even out a bit. Otherwise it is true to say that John lacks a right - a rational right - that Jane possesses.

In terms of argument, it is a “cop-out” to make hand-waiving remarks about “everyone’s having a right to his or her opinion.” This is so because putting a legal right to believe p to work grounding a rational right to believe p, eo ipso, shows that true rational foundation for p is lacking (or at least not forthcoming).

Are we able to conclude, then, that the saying is merely a slogan promoting “toleration,” 18th-century style? Close. But there is a additional detail that is worth disclosing.

My researches suggest to me that the source is possibly masonic - specifically, issuing out of the meeting rules of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) as composed by the Scottish clergyman James Anderson.

It is true that the rise of the UGLE and, indeed, the beginning of institutional Freemasonry, took place inside of the wider socio-cultural framework of the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, it is striking that our phrase apears nearly verbatim in Anderson’s The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (London, 1723), where we read:

“Avoid especially controversies on religion, nationality and politics.”[14]

I advise against limiting one’s conversations to banalities in deference to this masonic dictum. For, in addition to the sentiment’s other demerits, rehearsed above, “[t]he bane of our civil institutions is to be found in Masonry…”.[15]


[1] Yes, this is part 3 - to keep my numbering here in line with my previous enumeration, loc. cit. Hey, if George Lucas could make his Star Wars movies out-of-sequence, why can't I write these weblog posts that way?

[2] Ally Batista, “The Things You Should Never Talk About,” Elite Daily, Aug. 27, 2012, <>. Batista’s reasoning is a mess. In the first place, she reduces all talk about “money” down to either braggadocio or lamentation. Forget accounting, economics or fiscal policy. You’re either an “a******” (her word) or a whiner. Secondly, in terms of politics, Batista is a defeatist. To her, all politics is presumably a totally private - indeed secretive enterprise. Her reason? “Politics always begins arguments” and this is futile since, ultimately, “no one can change” your opinion. This is just misology run amok. Such self-destructive pessimism is for the rubes. After all, if taken literally, such advice would destroy political parties and, in fact, all political discourse. It’s lunacy. Her remarks about religion are not even worth my time to relate.

[3] Larry C. Shelton, “Never Discuss Politics and Religion,” phrases [dot] org, Jun. 8, 2010, <>.

[4] ESC, “Re: Never Discuss Politics and Religion,” phrases [dot] org, Jun. 8, 2010, <>; citing <>. A more accurate citation for embedded “Emily Post…” quotation is: Admin, “Climate Change Threatens Conversation – As Well as the Coast,” LACoastPost [weblog], Dec. 15, 2009, <>.

[5] Emily Post Institute, Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition, New York: HarperCollins; William Morrow, 2011, p. 60. But see Anna Post [great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post], “The Etiquette of Talking Politics,” Huffington Post, Feb. 21, 2008, updated Nov. 17, 2011, <>.

[6] Ibid.

[7] And elsewhere; see, e.g., <>, where it is dated “1754,” without attribution.

[8] That is, evidently, “not formal; easy in conversation.” See Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd ed., Dublin: W. G. Jones, 1768, n.p.; archived online at <>.

[9] Philip Dormer Stanhope Earl of Chesterfield, The Best Letters of Lord Chesterfield: Letters to His Son and Letters to His Godson, Edward Gilpin Johnson, ed., Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1893, pp. 276-277; archived online at <>.

[10] “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” “First Amendment,” Cornell Univ. Law School, <>.

[11] Matthew J. Bell, Blueprint for Opposing “‘Gay’ Marriage”, draft, Sept. 8, 2013, pp. 74-75, n. 91. Secondly, on one straightforward schema, the notion of a “right” implies that some entity (call that entity the “right giver”) grants to some other entity (call that the “right receiver”) a justifiable claim (the “right”) to something (call it the “right object”). RIGHT GIVER -------->| THE RIGHT to the RIGHT OBJECT | ----------> RIGHT RECEIVER. For instance, The Big Box Company (the right giver) grants the right to a yearly week-long vacation (object) to its employees (right receiver). Or, Our Creator grants the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to us (we the people). Or, according to Nietzsche (and others before him, e.g. Plato’s Thrasymachus, Hobbes, etc.), “Nature” grants the right of force to the strong. Or, finally, The Chinese State grants the right to life to whomever the State sees fit. The point here is that claims such as “xs have right r” …are incomplete claims. For a right-claim we want to know, minimally, who or what the right-giver is, who the right receiver is, what the right is, and what the right’s object is. Ibid.

[12] In reality, I would say that the rights themselves come from the “Creator,” while the Constitution merely enumerates the rights and provides for their protection. But let this pass.

[13] At least, this - or something like it - is true with respect to an internalist conception of justification. Externalist construals of justification will cash things out differently. I put this aside, also.

[14] James Anderson, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons: Containing the History, Charges, Regulations, &c. of That Most Ancient and Right-Worshipful Fraternity. For the Use of the Lodges, London: William Hunter, John Senex and John Hooke, 1723, article 6; quoted by Charles H. Lyttle, “Historical Bases of Rome’s Conflict With Freemasonry,” Church History, vol. 9, no. 1, Mar., 1940, p. 5, n. 10.

[15] William Morgan monument; quoted by Michael Anthony Hoffman, Masonic Assassination, 2nd ed., Geneva, N.Y.: Rialto Books, 1978, p. 8.