By Trowbridge H. Ford
The increasingly restricted view that Naomi Klein provided after Hurricane Katrina about the role of man in the making of disasters – whether they be natural or deliberate of some sort or another – had already experienced unprecedented feedback by Senator Jay Rockefeller and a few other Democratic colleagues on its super secret Intelligence Committee.
The previous December they had objected to yet another National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Misty satellite being in the works, action which he had twice tried to stop, and called “totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous to the national security.”
What he was referring to – though no one had yet claimed sigint satellites “very, very… dangerous” – was so sensitive that the NRO had called upon the Justice Department to look into the prosecution of any alleged leaker. Klein’s failure to investigate the ramifications of this development, much less write about it – given what happened during the 2005 hurricane season – is simply mystifying.
For more, see this link: Senate Democrats Protest Top Secret Spy Satellite Project
Of course, given this essential news blackout about covert possibilities, the NRO had been able to move against the growing problems in Pakistan whose Balochistan, Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), North-West Frontier Province, Swat Valley and Pakistan-administered Kashmir were becoming increasingly Taliban and Al-Qaeda dominated despite what Washington had dictated to strong-man President Pervez Musharraf.
He had staged a coup in 1999 against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the conduct of the war with India over Kashmir, and received $10.5 billion in aid from the West, once he had capitulated to threats of being attacked unless he didn’t join the so-called war on terror.
While he supplied three airbases for the conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom, he never really went after the Taliban because of his own strategic interests and needs, causing so much consternation in Washington that it finally decided to fix the problem as best it could.
About the situation around 2005, Ahmed Rashid has written in a 2009 issue of The New York Review of Books, “Pakistan on the Brink,” the target area had become a absolute powder keg, thanks to the inaction of the Musharraf regime though somehow making no mention of the earthquake then.
Maulana Muhamed had so used his FM radio station with inflammatory messages in the Swat valley that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban built up several more stations and an army for him.
In FATA, the Pashtun tribal leaders had organized their own militias, and plans for the liberation of Pakistan, slitting the throats of some 300 pro-government ones in the process.
In the meantime, the Afghan Taliban, thanks to the inaction of the relevant Pakistani authorities and the assistance from FATA and Balochistan, revived its insurgency in Afghanistan. And extremist Punjabi groups joined the mix after Pakistan’s relations with India over Kashmir cooled down.
Pakistan, like most of the countries between China and Morocco, has its own system of qanats, called karezes. These are the underground systems of water collection which rely upon a central well under the surface to supply entrance to a collecting chamber at the lowest ground level, so that fields can be irrigated, and populations supplied with the basic essentials. They can be vast distances in length with tunnels along the way for more collections, and proper ventilation.
While Iran was thought to be the source of Pakistan’s systems – what the NRO had taken advantage of in making its 1990 and 2003 earthquakes there – actually its are now believed to have come from Afghanistan. While pipes have replaced tunnels in many Pakistani kerezes, making them less manipulable from outside forces, delay-action dams to collect more water have made them more unstable if so attacked.
For more, see this link: Karez Balochistan Pakistan Irrigation
Again, Professor Zhonghao Shou predicted the Paskistani earthquake, as he had those off the coast of Aceh in November-December 2004, but no one in a position of authority took them seriously.
In the December 2006 issue of the “New Concepts in Global Tectonics” Newsletter, he laid out his findings about recent serious earthquakes in “Precursor of the Largest Earthquake of the Last Forty Years,” pp. 3-12.
His critics believed that earthquakes always started deep underground, thanks to tectonic plates crashing together, and that there were never visible precursors of them.
Shou continued to say that his vapor theory about cloud formation over earthquake epicenters, and their unexpected movement – contrary to usual weather patterns – demonstrated otherwise.
After a discussion of Shou’s claims, the newsletter concluded: “This work demonstrates that the vapor theory does not give false warnings. Shou’s recent investigation shows that all earthquakes of magnitude 7 or above in the world from June 1993 to October 2005 have a vapor precursor.
In contrast, government seismologists worldwide have not yet made a precise and reliable prediction.” This seems to say more about their character than that of various earthquakes.
Still, Shou made no attempt to explain the cause of the cloud formations, and many of them could well be from plates rubbing together, volcanic action, etc.
The Pakistani one appeared just too convenient politically, and suspiciously connected to the Misty satellite passing overhead every 90 minutes to be of natural origin.
The next to last passage overhead caused a minor earthquake, and after all the inhabitants around Muzaffarabad had gone back to bed after their morning tea, as it was Ramadam, the devastating one occurred 90 minutes later, killing 86,000 people, and rendering another 500,000 homeless.
When the Musharraf government acted most positively to offers of assistance, Washington was uncharacteristically most supportive of disaster relief occurring anywhere along the “axis of evil”. It airlifted 1,200 military personnel, 162 cargo lifts of equipment, and 1,900 tons of supplies.
With the opening up of the Taliban-dominated area to American forces, the Agency for International Development Administrator Andrew Natsios announced to a November Reconstruction Conference that it was providing the Pakistanis with $300 million in aid, the Pentagon was throwing in another $110 million, and private charities would be adding another $100 million.
Despite all the hoopla about this assistance of save the living, and subsequent aid to help them progress, Pakistan was in even worse shape than Afghanistan afterwards, thanks in part to the continuing silence by those in the media and in politics who knew about its real causes but have failed to speak out, as Rashid has concluded:
“In Pakistan there is no such broad national identity or unity. Many young Balochs today are fiercely determined to create an independent Balochistan.
The ethnic identities of the people in the other provinces have become a driving force for disunity. The gap between the rich and poor has never been greater….There is confusion about what actually constitutes a threat to the state and what is needed for nation-building.” (p. 16)
While the NRO had pulled off the man-made earthquake around Muzaffarabad, Pakistan on October 8, 2005 without a hitch, the Bush administration still had to be worried about unexpected, damaging blowback – how to exploit the new openings, how to provide a few fallguys for what the real covert culprits had done, how to get rid of them in an orderly, nonthreatening fashion, find suitable, accommodating replacements for them.
They also needed to provide new cover for the most powerful space weapons – so that more mayhem could be conducted with the least suspicions by the media and the public about what was really going on. In sum, it was time to make for a clean slate on the covert front so that more beneficial disaster capitalism could occur.
As soon as the Reconstruction Conference on Pakistan in November 2005 showed that the United States was most pleased with Mushrarraf’s settlement of its laser-caused earthquake – opening up its territories bordering on Afghanistan to American covert operations – the Bush administration replaced acting Air Force Secretary Peter Geren, the Pentagon’s all-purpose fixer, with Michael Wynne.
He was another Pentagon insider – former acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics – who was responsible for the development, testing and purchase of all new weapons systems, especially high-powered laser devices which the Air Force was taking the running of from Dr. Donald Kerr’s NRO.
This was just part of the Pentagon’s game of musical chairs to keep the media and the public in the dark as Geren immediately became the Army’s Undersecretary, and then its Secretary when the current one was made a fallguy for the failures of veterans at Walter Reed Hospital.
With Geren conveniently out of the way, whistleblower Russell Tice then claimed that the National Security Agency (NSA) – the NRO’s official superior – was mining the private actions of millions of Americans, what President Bush had claimed only concerned a small number of Americans in a focused way.
The same day that The New York Times published Tice’s anonymous contentions, he told ABC he was the source, as this link explains: NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying
Of course, this touched off a running fire-storm about what NSA was doing, one which is still continuing, leaving the NRO securely high-and-dry about what it had been engaged in.
One could hardly have had much doubt about what NSA was doing under Director Michael Hayden despite the surprises expressed by NYT reporter James Risen, and author James Bamford in Body of Secrets: How America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World, given Bush’s views of the President’s war powers.
While Risen had been Tice’s messenger, Bamford had been given a complete snow-job about what NSA had been experiencing, and doing when it came to its eavesdropping, especially when it came to signal intelligence (SIGINT), when he visited the Director. (See p.451ff.)
Hayden – with the help of former House Intelligence Committee chairman and now DCI Porter Goss, the Committee’s former staff director John Millis, former NSA Director and now Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and others – had given a most pessimistic appraisal of its SIGINT capability aka Echelon while dragging the USS Jimmy Carter needlessly into the process, acting as if it was essentially to be involved in tapping fiber-optic cables. The USS Parche, the Navy’s most decorated sub in this regard, was still in commission to do it despite claims to the contrary.
Bamford’s sources gave the totally false impression that NSA was in no position to keep up with threats being facilitated by the use of personal computers, cell phones, the Internet, e-mails and fiber optics – a process further complicated by the delayed commissioning of the Carter. (p. 465)
In giving this most restricted account of NSA’s muscle, Bamford restricted the sub’s SIGINT capability beyond recognition, acting as if it were only an underwater messenger of what others were saying rather than a platform for striking back in all kinds of ways from its Multi-Mission Platform.
There was no mention of its being a sub with a completely different mission, one where it could leave behind munitions, not just mines, to explode when it was convenient and safe, and SIGINT capability to convert messages – apparently from air guns and laser acoustic weapons though they were not mentioned – which would give the recipient more than he or it expected.
In doing so, Bamford used an unnamed Los Angeles Times source rather than what Rear Admiral J. P. Davis had written in “USS Jimmy Carter (SSN23): Expanding Future SSN Missions” in the fall 1999 issue of Undersea Warfare: USS Jimmy Carter [Link revised.]
With Pakistan completely split open because of the earthquake, the Pentagon’s ‘Special Operations’ teams (SOTs) took full advantage of the new opportunities – what they had previously been mainly doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and around Saudi Arabia where Major General Stanley McChrystal, who had become Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in September 2003, saw fit.
McChrystal was a former ‘notorious psychopath’ Ranger who was working the ‘dark side’ missions that Vice President Dick Cheney had said were required after the 9/11 attacks.
McChrystal embodied the tactics which characterized the covert growth of America’s hidden empire – organizing teams to carry out extra-judicial killings, systematic torture of prisoners, bombing of communities to make them more cooperative, and search and destroy missions.
“The SOT’s,” Professor James Petras recently wrote about Washington’s continuing covert wars, “specialize in establishing death squads and recruiting and training paramilitary forces to terrorize communities, neighborhoods and social movements opposing US clients regimes.
The SOT’s ‘counter-terrorism’ is terrorism in reverse, focusing on socio-economic groups between US proxies and the armed resistance. McChrystal’s SOT’s targeted local and national insurgent leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan through commando raids and air strikes.”
These operations in Pakistan were well underway when General McChrystal in February 2006 became Commander, JSOC. It had already attempted to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri by an air-strike in Damadola, eliminating senior commanders Abu Khabab al-Masri and Iman Asad allegedly in the process, and attacking the Danda Saidgai training camp in Northwest Waziristan.
Al-Qaeda and the Taliban responded by assassinating the US consul in Karachi, and by the end of the year, given the escalating ‘dirty war’, controlled not only the province but also South Waziristan. It’s much easier to expand wars rather than end them.
Encouraged by early results in Pakistan, Michael Wynne’s Air Force – now the operator of the NRO’s heavy, laser satellites – was authorized to give Iran, it seems, another dose, targeting the strategic area equidistant between Baghdad and Tehran in the Shia heartland on March 31, 2006.
Encouraged by the agreement the Security Council had just reached that Iran should never obtain nuclear weapons, Washington hit the only area in Iran not known for having earthquakes, and did so during another nighttime operation which would have killed thousands of people, like earlier at Bam.
Instead only 70 people were killed because of the action taken by its Unexpected Disaster Committee – as if normally disasters are expected! Once the first earthquake occurred early during the night of the 30th, it roused the population from its beds, assuming that more would occur, and two more did just after midnight local time.
Of course, by this time relations between Washington and Tehran had so soured that it did not even ask for help, as it had after the Bam earthquake. And President Bush had geopolitical matters so much on his mind that he said this twice about the earthquakes: “We obviously have our differences with the Iranian government but we do care about the suffering of the Iranian people.”
Secretary of State Condi Rice uttered similar “deep sympathy” for the suffering of the Iranian people, offering to supply aid, but none was forthcoming according to Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman. Iranian-American relations had descended to such a low point that hardly any niceties were in order.
The reason for the icy relations is not hard to determine if one reads the details about the earthquakes, and the damage they wrought. They occurred in two separate places – in the mountainous area noted for its agricultural operations, the epicenter well removed from the alleged fault line which official seismologists say caused it, and in the area around the cities of Boroujerd and Doroud.
The agricultural area relies heavily upon its qanat (kanat in arabic) systems for providing the necessary water for its fields of grain and fruit orchards The earthquakes were surprisingly close to the surface, only going down about seven kilometers.
Then almost all the killing and damage occurred in the mountains where the first 4.7 earthquake hit, resulting the the vast majority of the 70 human deaths, and 1,000 large livestock and 6,000 small livestock ones – killed when their barns and sheds collapsed. Most noticeable was the dozens of dead sheep and goats found in the fields, apparently killed by the laser beams when they heated up the kilometers of kanats in the process.
This is why they had always been used in the night – what the NRO shoulder patches were bragging about it owning – so as not to commit most suspicious human deaths in daily life rather than simply ones in their beds. Great destruction and damage was also done to deep wells, water storage areas, and 4,500 meters of kanats.
With the Bush administration now hopeful that it had finally turned the corner on Iraqi violence after the ouster of Saddam Hussein – what SOD Rumsfeld may have planned from the beginning with his ‘shock and awe’ campaign in the hope that its post-liberation mayhem would kill off the necessary Sunni and Shia troublemakers – he now prepared his departure from the Pentagon. While a few generals and admirals were finally expressing their displeasure about what had happened during his preventive wars – what Rumsfeld even acknowledged – he wrote a secret memo on April 6th, calling upon his minions to “keep elevating the threat…”
While the ignorant might think that he was just referring to responding to more 9/11 style attacks, he added this to make sure that there was no confusion about what he meant, but not in the places threatened: “Talk about Somalia, the Philippines, etc. Make the American people realise that they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists.” (“Rumsfeld ‘kept up fear of terror attacks’,” The Daily Telegraph, March 11, 2007)
In doing so, he deliberately ignored what Iran, Pakistan and North Korea were apparently aiming for with their nuclear programs, and what the Pentagon was doing its utmost to prevent. It all sounded like his swan song from the Pentagon, reminiscent of his Anchor Memo when he took office with the intention of fixing it despite all the governmental obstacles.
While Rumsfeld withheld announcing his resignation until the day of the 2006 Congressional elections, though it so leaked to the press so that the voters would know he was leaving – hoping that the long-awaited act would bolster Republican chances at the polls but it didn’t, causing the Bush administration to lose control of Congress – it immediately nominated everyone’s choice, former DCI Robert Gates, to be his successor, and he was confirmed in record time.
Gates had been former President Bush’s replacement of DCI William Webster, and achieved the kind of coordination between the Agency and the Bureau – especially in handling the Iran-Contra cover-up which cost him the job the first time after Reagan had nominated him to replace William Casey – which the gigantic Pentagon so sorely needed now. (For more on this, see Mark Riebling, Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA, p. 381ff.)
Gates’ first victim, after a prudent pause, was DCI Porter Goss in May 2006 who he knew all too well after his long career in the Agency. Goss avoided analyzing intelligence too much, as his dismissing the leading analysts in the Agency showed when he took over, and was too careless in his private life – what had led to his forced retirement when he came down with venereal disease after visiting, as many high-flying bachelors in Washington did, the prostitution ring aka “Capitol Couples” that Hana and Karl Koecher were running for the Czechoslovak security and intelligence service.
“Hana, blonde, attractive and ten years younger than her husband,” Christopher Andrew wrote in The Sword and the Shield, “later boasted that she had had sex with numerous CIA personnel, Pentagon officials, reporters from major newspapers and a US Senator.” (p. 200)
Three days later, after it was learned that Goss’ Executive Director, Kyle ‘Dusty’ Foggo, had been having sex parties with Hana, he too was gone, though the Agency denied that there was any connection between the resignations. Foggo had been instrumental in arranging the heating up of Hurricane Katrina, and slowing the response to it, and had had a corrupt relationship, involving former acting Air Force Secretary Geren, in kickbacks Boeing was giving out.
Of course, the cause of his resignation was just the cover story as this had been known for at least a quarter century, and it claimed that Foggo had had to go because he was sharing her with Soviet spy, Felix Bloch, rather than with Goss too.
Little wonder that NSA director Major General Michael Hayden then followed Goss as DCI. Hayden knew where most eavesdropping secrets were buried, and how best to keep them covered up. John Negroponte, the new Director of National Intelligence and former US Ambassador to Iraq, knew most about the personnel problems at CIA, and arranged the necessary changes.
Steven Kappes, the former DDO who had resigned because of Goss’ Chief of Staff Pat Murray so politicizing the Agency, was brought back as the new Deputy Director – Negroponte having been informed by Mary Margaret Graham, an Assistant Deputy Director of Counterintelligence, of all the womanizing and politicizing there.
This had been particularly difficult for Negroponte, the former American Ambassador to Honduras, because Foggo had been a close associate involved in its search and destroy missions, organized from the embassy. Most important, Robert Richer, the number 2 man in the DO who resigned suddenly during Hurricane Katrina because of the DCI’s isolated decision-making, had to find a new place, becoming CEO of Cofer Black’s Total Intelligence Solutions in 2007.
The most important decisions then were made by Negroponte, and his replacement at National Intelligence, Mike McConnell. The plan was to make sure that everyone believed that the Pentagon was apparently not planning a new generation of space-based surveillance satellites, and the ones it already had were being destroyed.
At the same time, NRO Director Donald Kerr left, having transferred the last vestiges of its heavy satellite, SIGINT operations to the Air Force, and by replacing the aggressive shoulder patch – showing one of its four orbiting satellites hitting back at unsuspecting targets, and bragging about its owning the night – with a most innocent one, showing just two orbits of satellites, circling the globe. Kerr was replaced by Scott Large.
Negroponte was most eager to tell the press, especially U. S. News and World Report, about the “managerial nightmare” he had in getting rid of the $25 billion, over-budget, and five-year behind Future Imagery Architecture System – what planned to establish in space dual purpose imagery and SIGINT satellites to do whatever was required.
Poor quality control in the satellites, and technical problems with their operations raised questions about their ever being completed. Negroponte moved decisively to end the program, getting rid of half of the classified project – apparently the SIGINT half as the Air Force still had the Misty satellites which could perform the necessary send-back messages if necessary.
No sooner had McConnell been installed as Negroponte’s replacement as National Intelligence Director than he announced that he had closed down the production of the satellite spy program, and was in the process of finding out who was responsible for the hopeless boondoggle, seeing to his dismissal. McConnell, in stopping the production of more Misty satellites, said nothing about stopping the use of ones still in service.
And he was apparently looking for Air Force Secretary MIchael Wynne who had been pushing their production, though McConnell conveniently postponed his search, and Wynn’s firing until he was no longer needed.
For more on this, see this link: Spy Chief Scraps Satellite Program
In this context, Naomi Klein’s latest, comprehensive survey of disaster capitalism, The Shock Doctrine, appeared, and covert planners were most relieved to see that it had grown very little in its basic character, and in its coverage. The role of satellites, especially laser-equipped ones and submarines in their making, and their possible use on countries like Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and those around the Indian Ocean were never even alluded to.
In fact, disasters resulting from them, outside of Sri Lanka, were never even seriously mentioned in the whole process. Actually, she hardly said anything new about the subject since her damage-limitation story on the Katrina disaster.
If anything, according to her, shock doctrine was wearing down rather than increasing.
Trowbridge Ford (1929 – 2021) was the son of William Wallace Ford, the father of the US Army’s Grasshoppers.
He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, and Columbia University where he received a Ph.D. in political science after a stint in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps as a draftee during the Korean War, and after being discharged, worked as the sports editor and a reporter for the now-defunct Raleigh Times.
Thought academia was the thing for him. He was quite satisfied teaching all kinds of courses about European and American politics while writing his dissertation about an under-appreciated British politician, Henry Brougham, who became the Lord Chancellor of the famous Reform Government (1830-34).
At the same time, Trowbridge became most interested in the role that A. V. Dicey, a famous Oxford legal professor, played in settling the Irish question – another figure that historians didn’t think did much about. It was while he was doing research on the dissertation at the British Museum in London that President Kennedy was assassinated, and it slowly led him to take a dimmer view of academic life, especially when joined by campus protests over the growing Vietnam War. He was fired by two institutions of higher learning because of his protests against the war.
When the Vietnam War finally ended, he got involved in researching the Dallas assassination, and his first serious efforts about it appeared in Tom Valentine’s The National Exchange in 1978 – what Fletcher Prouty thought was quite good, just urging him to go higher in the Agency and the political world for the main culprits.
He slowly started doing this, ultimately deciding to retire early in 1986, planning on finishing his Brougham biography while living in Portugal. While he did this, he had made too many enemies with the White House not to be punished – first by attempts to establish that he maliciously tried to destroy Richard Nixon during Watergate by libeling him, and when he died, DCI George Tenet tried to have me killed by poisoning – what would make his death look like a suicide or a natural one.
As a result of this, once he had finally determined the cause, he moved to Sweden to not only save his skin but also investigate and write about assassinations, covert operations, ‘false flag’ deceptions, preventive wars, weapons development, and their use, etc. He passed away in 2021.