Saturday, March 13, 2010

Making Sense of Canada

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Grassy Mole

Party Line

It seems all the corporate media conglomerates are in lockstep over the “Dubai Affair” and every op-ed seems to be parroting the party line in regards to Mossads guilt.

I have to admit, I do derive some satisfaction out of seeing Netanyahu and Meir Dagan squirm under the public scrutiny, as Israel’s habit for launching murderous missions on foreign soil with extreme arrogance and impunity should be treated as terrorism but never is (even in this case).

Mossad even killed a Canadian for gods sake! Now that’s crossing the line in my opinion. We should send the Mounties to Tel Aviv over that one.

The only problem with all this Mossad bashing (or praising) in the media, boils down to one thing; no one knows in the press if Mossad really did this because no one in the press has presented any proof beyond convenient and circumstantial evidence provided by some questionable regime, the nature of which raises more questions than it does answers.

Such as: did Mossad actually kill the senior Hamas militant Mr. Mabhouh? If so, was any other group complicit in this brazen crime? If Mossad was not involved, then what other organization had the motive and wherewithal to carry this out?

Bank of Israel

Investigators now believe the alleged assassin team used prepaid credit cards purchased in the US through a company with ties to Israel. This seems suspicious to me.

Why go to the trouble of using “untraceable” prepaid credit cards when they can be connected to a US firm linked to Israel? If secrecy wasn’t a factor, as the use of these cards might suggest, than why not use cards from “Bank Yahav for Government Employees” instead? I’m sure the rates would be better.

It’s just like the passport issue: If cloning identities from passenger manifests and other obtainable information is not difficult for any spy agency, why would Mossad clone passports belonging to Israeli dual nationals right alongside the other non-Israeli identities? If conventional secrecy and plausible deniability was the aim, why not clone ID’s from Iceland or somewhere else equally insignificant?

I wish Mossad had a sense of humour; they could really have some fun with this the next time they send a circus troupe to kill someone!

I can see the headlines now: Hit Squad from Greenland descends on Cairo!

Unless you believe all this was a clever ruse made to look like a false flag, which just seems triple silly, I guess the only media friendly answer we have for these perplexing enigmas would be that Israel either underestimated Dubai’s investigative prowess and/or they overestimated their own influence in Dubai to keep things quiet, while taking for granted the support or at least acquiescence of the passport “donor” nations out of pure hubris.

God knows, Arabs aren’t smart enough to conduct a false flag operation with any sophistication, the Axis of Good crowd would never resort to such skull duggery and Iranians would never assassinate anyone. So what other options are left?

It has to be Israel then...right?

Super Killers or Nervous Nellie's?

The German newspaper Der Speigal published a very thorough play by play of the assassination and they report that two agents apparently felt comfortable enough with their fake identities to fly into Iran after a full dress rehearsal in Dubai. Funny, you would think that members of a Jewish death squad would choose a safer place to go on R & R than Tehran, especially while planning to kill a man who was in the market to purchase significant quantities of Iranian weapons.

Der Speigal also reports that 4 men who are thought to have actually carried out the murder were caught on CCTV waiting near the elevator and one of the agents was still wearing a plastic glove, while the other three “were shifting their weight back and forth like boxers” and looking visibly edgy.

In the army reserves we had a phrase to describe such post-performance anxiety and it appears these elite Mossad Kidon members were a little “nervous in the service” after their job was over. I imagine suffocating someone to death produces an adrenaline dump and under those conditions people do weird things, but I thought secret direct action or “wet job” types trained liked superman so they could act “normal” while carrying out covert operations on foreign soil, where maintaining a cover identity (in this case, western tourists on a shopping holiday) can be the difference between life and death.

I mean, even the hotel maid thought that these guys were strange and looked out of place. Maybe Mossad should hire her to conduct training evaluations on new recruits. If Mossad really did do this, than they should have dumped a battalion of paratroopers over a drop zone near an Al Jazeera press scrum and ordered them to storm the hotel; it would hardly have been more outlandish or provocative than the reality show version which was chosen instead.

It’s quite possible I’m giving Mossad more credit than it deserves, but this does seem pretty stupid to me. Who knows, maybe after three attempts at killing this guy, Mossad decided on an “overkill” strategy and perhaps ignored some important operational security details.

The Bonehead Identity

If Mr. Mabhouh believed intelligence agents from Egypt and Jordan (not to mentioned Mossad and Fatah) were following him around and monitoring his communications, why would he use his real name to purchase a plane ticket over the internet, fly into Dubai without bodyguards and book himself into the finest hotel in town while waiting to travel on to China (which the Dubai police chief has claimed)? And why would the leader of Hamas be so quick to publicly ask how Mabhouh (who Hamas had originally claimed had died of cancer) could be so stupid for doing so, even as his family and mourners still grieve?

Of course it was dumb, if that’s really what happen, but should the leader of Hamas be insulting one of their “martyrs”? Seems a little odd, because I thought the PR game plan was to make dead militants look like fearless and tough Einsteins who unfortunately float to paradise a little early thanks to blind Israeli luck.

I suppose its a fair (a touch indelicate, but fair) question for him to ask though. For a guy who made it onto Mossads “must die” list and who is in the business of buying arms from the Axis of Bad crowd on behalf of holy warriors, you would think he’d bring along some muscle or at the very least be a little more “situationally aware” when being trailed to his room by strange men wearing tennis shorts.

I guess Mabhouh was no Jason Bourne, who was able to spot a man driving a fancy car and sporting Goa friendly hippie clothes, and instantly recognize him as a fellow spy/assassin!

I betcha no one said of Mabhouh, “You have no idea who you are dealing with here”.

The Enemy of my Enemy

I also wonder if the super efficient Dubai security service placed any surveillance assets on Mr. Mabhouh as he went about his activities? Surely the Dubai customs station would have a system of red flagging any significant names arriving into the country.

I thought leaders of militant groups always “popped up” on some “grid” somewhere whenever they passed through a checkpoint using real names or discovered aliases. Maybe that’s just in the movies I guess or perhaps the Dubai station was too busy scanning Iris’s looking for Jews and they didn’t have time to worry so much about visiting terrorists.

On Wednesday, representatives of the Arab League announced they were supporting the American initiative for negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Seems pretty weird that Hamas keeps losing its members to informants (one of whom was the founders own son), two Fatah members are sitting in a Dubai jail cell suspected of helping murder the latest Hamas victim, Mr. Mabhouh’s right hand man reports that Mabhouh was paranoid of being targeted by Arabs, and now Israel, Fatah and the Arab League are suddenly playing nice with each other under the warm bosom of American diplomacy.

I heard once that coincidences do happen, but when they start turning into phenomenon, you have to take notice. So does any of this disjointed mishmash fit together into a larger narrative that makes sense and if so, what does it suggest about the future of politics in that region?

In the grand scheme of things, Mr. Mabhouh’s death is probably not that important, but the impact of his very public demise and the crooked trail of crumbs left by his killers may create some long lasting effects (beyond hypocritical and short term political theatrics about passport integrity aimed more at domestic audiences than Israel's leadership) before any semblance of normalcy is restored to that area, which makes me wonder who’s really calling the shots.

Where’s My Tin Foil?

With all these loose ends and puzzling clues, I can’t help but think of the many outlandish conspiracy theories like the JFK assassination or 911 truth movement that has captured the attention of so many otherwise normal people.

The attacks on New York shocked people senseless and nearly 9 years and two brutal occupations later, that tragedy is still reverberating around the world.

Before that, the JFK assassination defined an era and as a result of his death, Lyndon B. Johnson became president and escalated the war in Vietnam, which used B-52 sorties to bomb an agrarian based society back into the stone age and gave rise to the peace movement within that turbulent decade known as the sixties.

Whether 911 was a false flag or JFK was a victim of a wider plot is hard to say, I don’t spend any time thinking about either scenario, but many people do and this questioning of the “party line” is actually a healthy sign that people are thinking for themselves, however erroneous that thinking may sometimes prove to be.

Before dismissing these folks as "crackpots", I think its relevant to remember that the concept of "criminal conspiracy" is fully enshrined and accepted by law in most court systems, the absence of which would make police powerless to tackle organized crime or terrorism. Historically, such arrangements have been proven to exist in political and other social contexts, so like it or not, conspiracy theories can be correct on occasion.

Personally, I like to look at the official version of things and ask reasonable questions based on common sense, critical thinking, investigative procedure, and the rule of domestic or international law, thereby deciding for myself if the story sounds plausible (and non-hypocritical, honest, legal, etc.) or not. Other folks like to go beyond that and imagine possible scenarios to be true or even endorse ones already expressed, which is fine, because dissenting opinion is good for a thriving and democratic society.

The Spy who came in from the cold

The point is, there may never be a "grassy knoll" or any credible "loose change" style reporting in the Dubai case, so if Mossad is innocent (strange combination of words I admit) and the truth remains buried, while nothing fantastic comes along to uncover it, few people will look beyond the official story and the general public may never learn the truth.

Perhaps in the future, when this perplexing caper in the desert has long since receded from collective memory, some former “mole”, enjoying retirement in a faraway sun drenched villa along the Mediterranean, will write a book about these secret shenanigans. By joining the ranks of other notable spies made famous by their scandalous memoirs, this insider may blow the whistle on the “Dubai Affair”.

For the sake of satisfying my burning curiosity, I hope we don’t wait too long before this little tome hits the press.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Dubai Affair

I recently came across an article in the Wall Street Journal which was authored by former CIA field agent cum media celebrity Robert Baer, titled: “A Perfectly Framed Assassination in Dubai”(February 27th, 2010). After reading this, I was still not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the Israeli spy service, Mossad, was the entity responsible for the murder of Hamas militant Mr. Mabhouh, but I do concede Baer made some good points in his piece and he did choose, however unwittingly, what I think is an apt title.

After reading the article, I came to the conclusion that considerable doubt should exist in the mind of any news reader (based solely on what is available from the corporate media) and commentators alike as to whether Israel is actually responsible for this latest crime.

In order to play the devils advocate in this case, as I am no fan of Israeli foreign policy, I dusted off my VCR and sat down to watch an old VHS copy of “The Sword of Gideon” and tried to think like an Israeli spymaster. This may seem like a strange methodology for better understanding world affairs but whenever I lose something, like my keys for example, I always think, "If I were a set of keys, where would I be hiding?", and before long I end up finding them jammed under the couch cushions or in my coat pocket. Without fail, that method always works.

So, here are some of the questions that came to mind as I munched on popcorn and watched Steven Baur and Michael York blowing up bad guys:

If the super-sleuthing and formidable array of biometric devices, CCTV cameras, cell phone tracking and other surveillance tools subsequently used by the Dubai detectives to discover the identity of the alleged assassins represented a “normal” state of readiness and capability in Dubai, is it likely that senior planners within the Mossad would be aware of this?

Yes. Mossad would probably have several contacts working in the Dubai security industry, police headquarters, intelligence agencies and within the specific departments such as the hotel or airport where these cameras and other security devices were deployed.

Is it also likely, that Mossad planners would assume that the Dubai investigators would treat Mr. Mabhouh’s death as a possible homicide, or in the event that evidence of foul play was discovered fairly quickly (as it appears to have been done in this case as evidenced by the immediate post-death investigation, subsequent identification of the hit team and reported discovery of a fast acting muscle relaxant used on the victim), launch a full blown investigation which would have the potential to uncover the CCTV evidence which we have seen on TV?

Yes. I fail to understand how it would have been difficult to foresee this outcome in light of Dubai’s security preparations and experience in investigating other high profile assassinations on its soil.

Is it also likely, in the event of the above scenario, that Mossad leaders could anticipate that the fraudulent passports and cheesy tennis gear would be discovered and that this discovery would lead to some very negative PR and political ramifications?

Yes, not much imagination would have been required to expect this outcome.

Would senior spy planners and political leaders be aware that such ramifications would include a reversal of support for Israel among several key allies; as was demonstrated during the recent vote on the UN General Assembly resolution demanding that Israel and the Palestinians investigate possible war crimes committed during the assault on Gaza that was launched in December 2008? Would they also be aware of the danger posed to the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who is being held by Hamas while a proposed swap deal is being decided upon or be cautious of the risk posed to the Israeli dual-nationals who’s identities were borrowed by the attackers?

Yes, these political calculations and safety concerns would have been discussed and heavily debated I bet.

Now, in light of this, I asked myself a few more questions.

Would these same decision makers willingly endanger the lives of Israeli citizens while also risking the predictable, negative and far reaching political blowback from this international incident in order to take out an apparently interchangeable and relatively insignificant (compared to top echelon leadership) Hamas figure in this embarrassing, high profile fashion?

Possible I admit, if it were based on some tactical or strategic awareness that the average news reader does not have access too, but based on what I see reported in the media, this is unlikely.

This begs the next question; despite some notable failures attributed to Mossad in the past, is it not fair to say that this fearsome agency, in light of its successful track record in these matters overall, would be capable of planning and executing a successful mission while extricating the killers from the crime scene in a more covert and less theatrical, amateurish and bumbling fashion?

Likely. It’s possible this was a last minute job, with faulty intel, hasty planning, a group of green operators who have never worked together before or bad command and control from the Vienna safe house, which might explain the screw ups, but even then, it seems likely to me that Mossad would perform better.

There’s a great scene in the film Gangs of New York when my favorite character Walter “Monk” McGin slams Amsterdam Vallon against the wall and leans in and whispers an Irish proverb in Gaelic,

An té nach bhfuil laidir, ní foláir dó bheith glic

Then he repeats in English, “If you're not strong you'd better be smart...Now I don't know if you're being too clever or too dumb, but whichever it is just remember this much...”

The wisdom inherent in that Irish Proverb reminds me of the Mossads former and still unofficial motto, which originated from the Bible (proverbs 24:6), "be-tachbūlōt ta`aseh lekhā milchāmāh (Hebrew: בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה‎)". In English this means: "For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory" and in common parlance, it's referred to as: "By way of deception, thou shalt do war".

If Mossad was responsible, despite all this intelligence and awareness among Israeli plotters, than it is possible that Mossad wanted to send a very public message in spite of of the risks.

But if that’s the case, they could have sent an equally loud message by taking out the target in a less grandiose way, so all the “cloak and dagger” theater seems a bit over the top and not in keeping with their motto or Mossads historical reliance on more effective subterfuge, not withstanding the odd well publicized failure, which has never been similar to this kind of circus.

Mossad operators are considered to be the best in the world at what they do and I’m sure they did not gain such a formidable reputation by being stupid.

Is it possible then that this was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by another foreign intelligence agency or state sanctioned group?

This is possible and any investigator worth his salt would be looking at this angle I suspect. If Israel wasn't responsible than they will want answers too, so that may explain why UK investigators are on the ground in Israel and they landed there without so much as a whimper of protest from their hosts.

I would also bet that any investigation would want to examine other possibilities as well, in the event that evidence is brought to light that points the finger more conclusively towards Mossad; such as the nature of the intelligence (if it could be discovered) which led to the MOD Squad being deployed in the first place and what the known status of Dubai's security arrangements happened to be prior to this attack.

The point is, Israel has already been convicted (or lauded) in the court of public opinion and I think that's wrong, as there is enough reasonable doubt to suspend any solid judgment until all the “available” facts have been presented. Despite everything I've written, I would not be surprised if Mossad was responsible for this execution and in that case the perpetrators should be handed over to Interpol and tried in the ICC but I think its only wise to examine all sides of this incident before leaping to any conclusions.

Already politicians and talking heads are falling all over themselves condemning Israel or pointing the finger at Mossad for something it may not be responsible for, which seems absurd, when you think Israel already has enough blood on its hands over the numerous war crimes carried out by the US supported Israeli war machine in the occupied territories, so why not start prosecuting people over those crimes instead of focusing on one act of skull duggery (which happens to be common practice among all the nations now “outraged” over the use of their national passports).

Something doesn't smell right about this whole “Dubai Affair” and I’m waiting for all the facts to come in, if they do at all, before announcing my verdict. Court is in recess!


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