Wednesday, January 30, 2013


There's more to this story than was in the movie!

I succumbed to demands that I review Argo, the movie about the rescue of American diplomats who escaped capture when the Iranians seized the US Embassy in Tehran during Jimmy Carter's reign in the Oval Office.

Short review: It was an excellent movie, well done, and quite accurate in depicting personalities in the White House, State Department, and the CIA -- and in particular, the extraordinary role that CIA operative Tony Mendez played in orchestrating the clandestine exfiltration.

Lee Holland: Post-Iran
The reason for this post extends far beyond the brief review above since I was engaged with the hostage crisis as a player at the Pentagon in an Intelligence analyst role -- and I worked later for Colonel Leland Holland, one of the hostages who recounted his experiences in considerable detail.

The general public is unaware of the full scope of this event, which reaches back into the Nixon years.

As some may recall, Henry Kissinger shut down all CIA and Military clandestine and covert operations worldwide as an over-reaction to the Church Committee findings.  Kissinger persuaded President Nixon to fire Richard Helms as Director of Central Intelligence and appoint him as Ambassador to Iran in 1973, where he remained until 1977. 

The positive of that move was that Helms was an old schoolmate of the Shah and thus had excellent relations with the Shah.

The negative of that move was that Helms was an old schoolmate of the Shah and thus had excellent relations with the Shah -- resulting in a close and friendly relationship between the CIA Station Chief and the head of Savak, the dreaded Iranian intelligence agency. 

Thus, all intelligence reporting on Iran had to be cleared through Ambassador Helms, who would not countenance negative reports.  Worse, no clandestine operations were authorized outside of Tehran, so there was no intelligence reporting on the discontent of the general population with the Shah.

The situation went from bad to worse when Jimmy Carter took control of the White House.  Helms was replaced by a professional diplomat with considerable experience in unstable Third World countries, William Sullivan who recognized that the Shah was vulnerable to popular unrest.  He pushed Carter, unsuccessfully, to distance himself from the Shah and to open a dialog with the Ayatollah Khomeni -- who had become the leader of the Iranian revolution while an exile in France.

Intelligence operations continued to be neutralized when Admiral Stansfield Turner took control of the CIA, dismissing both clandestine and covert operations as immoral -- and firing 820 operators.  Thus, the US intelligence program in Iran continued under the thumb of Savak, and was unable to report on the growing strength of revolutionary Shia elements.

By the end of 1978, the revolution had gained traction and the Shah went into exile in January; in February, the Ayatollah made his triumphant return to the adoration of millions of his Iranian followers; the Shah's government crumbled and was replaced in April 1979 with the Islamic Republic.  The following November, Iranian "students" stormed the US Embassy, taking 52 US diplomats and military personnel hostages for 444 days -- perhaps the most humiliating period in US history.

The movie shows the arrogance of the Carter Administration in managing the crisis, and their total indifference toward the fate of the hostages in anything other than political terms. 

The hostages were held in individual isolation, and periodically in groups in the Embassy. 

The hostages were expendable           [Britannica]
For much of the time, they were bound, blindfolded, and beaten, and reminded daily that their torture and executions would begin shortly.  Periodically, they would be told they were to be executed that day and marched into the courtyard where a firing squad was assembled; they would then be blindfolded, and the orders of Ready, Aim, were given, with a subsequent long delay, and when the order to FIRE was given, all that would be heard were the clicks of firing pins on the empty chambers.

These episodes were punctuated when the hostages would see some of their fellows marched to the courtyard, followed by actual gunfire; and the hostages led to the courtyard would not be seen for weeks afterwards -- instilling terror in the remaining hostages as they waited their turn to be executed.

Meanwhile, the Intelligence Community had difficulty assessing the situation in Iran since Carter and Turner had ordered all intelligence products be routed directly to the White House Sit Room for analysis by a small team of analysts.  The Pentagon was excluded from all reporting even though they were being tasked for a rescue mission.

Born Again Christian

At the White House, Mr Carter was scheming in his own unique, Born Again Christian way.  He had granted the Shah asylum in the US in October 1979 so the Shah could undergo surgery.  During this period, Hamilton Jordan, Carter's Chief of Staff, set up an operations center in a Las Vegas hotel penthouse, equipped with an auxiliary White House Communications Center to negotiate the sale of the Shah to the Iranians in exchange for the US hostages.

This information would never have been revealed except for a loophole in US Intelligence reporting on Iran.  As the Latin America analyst at the Pentagon, I monitored the Western Hemisphere, to include Panama, with emphasis on its dictator, Tony Noriega, due to his ties to international narcotics and arms trafficking -- and his linkage to the Soviet KGB.  As luck would have it, we were monitoring Noriega's telephone conversations with the KGB during which he provided verbatim transcripts of encrypted conversations between Hamilton Jordan in Las Vegas and the Iranian negotiator elsewhere in the world. 

Hamilton Jordan         [Charlie Rose]
Jordan had covertly taken the penthouse suite and naively presumed he was operating incognito.  Of course, the Mafia essentially controlled Las Vegas in that period, and they monitored Jordan's activities and had his suite wired before Jordan moved in.  Noriega was tied to the Mafia as a narcotics supplier and money launderer [Noriega managed no fewer than 350 front companies throughout the world].  The Mafia kept Noriega advised of Jordan's activities, and, for a "finder's fee", Noriega sold the information to the KGB.

This was a stroke of unbelievable fortune for the KGB since now they had the recorded conversations before encryption, and AFTER encryption, enabling them to break the encryption process for not only Jordan's communications, but for ALL White House encrypted communications with the State Department, CIA, and the Pentagon -- thus compromising an extraordinary amount of sensitive, compartmented information.  Although we alerted the Communications Security element of the breach, the damage had already been done and the White House communications system had to undergo a complete overhaul.


The net result of Noriega's monitoring of Hamilton Jordan was that he sent a personal emissary to visit the Shah to arrange his escape from the US to Panama, where Noriega established the Shah in considerable comfort on Contadora Island -- in exchange for the Shah's gratitude, and substantial payment in gold bullion.

Unsuccessful with his amoral venture to sell the Shah, Mr Carter proceeded with Plan B, a military invasion of Iran which would demonstrate his leadership and military brilliance.  Once again, I was drawn into the scenario.  First, the plan called for infiltrators by military intelligence officers capable of passing themselves off as foreigners in Tehran; the idea being that they would be covert operatives ready to respond when US troops landed.  The Pentagon searched desperately for such folk, but most had been eliminated by Stansfield Turner's October Massacre when he terminated the US espionage capability.

During the Iran rescue briefing, I ran into a Special Forces friend from Fort Bragg who advised he was leading a combat team into Iran, and invited me to visit his team in their holding area in the Command Center in the bowels of the Pentagon.  I was stunned to note that his entire team consisted of teenagers, the highest ranking among them being an E4 -- and none had any combat experience.  There was not a senior NonCom in the group.  My friend advised that their youth and inexperience was gut-wrenching since many would die for lack of experience; but he also noted that Carter had insisted that every race and creed be represented, so there was no single unit integrity -- another guarantee of disaster. 

Finally, he opened a safe drawer and pulled out a sheaf of post-combat citations which would be awarded to the participants in the operation; the citations were complete and lacked only the names of the recipients -- and whether they would be awarded posthumously.  Carter wanted to capitalize politically immediately following the rescue mission, complete with melancholy drama for the soldiers killed in the rescue mission.

Operation Eagle Claw ended here.          []
The humiliation of the Hostage crisis was highlighted by the subsequent disastrous Operation Eagle Claw, which Mr Carter micromanaged, insisting that each of the Services be equally involved in a generally uncoordinated operation.

The result included the crash of helicopters and C-130s, and the death of eight US Service members.

Mr Carter's legacy includes:
1) The destruction of the US Intelligence capability,
2) The Compromise of the White House Encrypted Communications,
3) The double cross of a former ally, and
4) The orchestration of one of the most disastrous military missions in US history.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hillary's Covert Action?

Hillary's Body Double

Click here for related story []

It would appear that BenghaziGate will be overshadowed by Hillary Clinton's mysterious disappearance for several weeks, coincident with her reported episode of the flu -- which we designated the Benghazi Flu -- which kept her out of town and thus unable to testify before Congress on the Benghazi debacle.  This was followed by a "fall" and a resultant concussion, followed by a "cranial blood clot", followed by a period ostensibly in the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

Ahvas was not on the itinerary               [CIA map]
But now, we have been alerted that Hillary's medical condition had much more to do with physical injuries resulting from a plane crash connected to her attempt to meet secretly with Iranian President Ahmadinijad in Ahvaz, Iran -- deviating from her scheduled flight from Bahrain to Baghdad.

Apparently, she planned to meet President Ahmadinijad on his turf [about 50 miles inside the Iranian border] in Ahvaz.  Flying in a C-12 turbo-prop military passenger plane [usually used for embassy flights with room for 13 passengers], her flight plan indicated she was headed for Baghdad. 

Her protective escort included SEAL Team 4, led by Commander Job W. Price

C-12 Huron                                     [US Army photo]
Instead,  according to Russian Intelligence, she headed into Iran to Ahvaz where she reportedly planned to meet President Ahmadinijad as part of secret negotiations with senior representatives of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the Iranian nuclear program. 

After crossing into Iran -- unchallenged by Iranian or US Air Forces, Clinton's plane ran into "technical problems" or "turbulence" upon landing, causing the nose gear to collapse, and the plane to crash.

CDR Job Price; Clinticide?
Her protective escort included SEAL Team 4, led by Commander Job W. Price; you may recall the US Media reported he committed suicide in Afghanistan; the Department of Defense, meanwhile, reported he died of a "non-combat-related" injury.  

[Still another in a long series of bizarre "suicides" tied to the Clinton family.]

Israel's Mossad,  monitoring Iranian communications, reported via DEPKA that Iranian emergency responders freed the victims; Clinton was reportedly "unconscious and bleeding profusely."  She and the surviving injured were evacuated for medical treatment in a neighboring country. 

Russian medical experts quoted in a GRU report that Clinton suffered a TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] -- which would be
"... the only reasonable explanation for a blood clot appearing between her skull and her brain."

Photo Op leaving the hospital; 
Sweater covers neck brace   [Reuters]
Clinton was later transferred to the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.   According to a variety of reports, to include concerns that her injuries were so serious that she was not expected to live.  

Thus, Mr Obama's abrupt announcement that he had named John Kerry as Hillary's replacement.  Interestingly, while Clinton was undergoing surgery in New York, her daughter Chelsea was tweeting to the world how happy she was that her mom was home and fully recovered. 

Politico, however, reported that her release from the hospital was only temporary and she returned to the hospital an hour later. 

The following week, she made another photo op appearance at the State Department in which she appeared in only two staged photographs. 
Does this woman, in any way, resemble Hillary?

Examining this photo, we have to wonder, is this Hillary's body double making a faux appearance.

Now, all this is background for what appears to have been another diplomatic disaster.  In the military, we would refer to this episode as "Good initiative; Bad Judgment!" A mistake a brand new second lieutenant would make -- but never a seasoned diplomat.

This Administration's attempts at diplomacy would be laughable, had they not ended in tragedy.  Mr Obama's Benghazi blunder, in which he reportedly arranged the kidnapping of Ambassador Stevens, whom he planned to exchange for the Blind Sheik -- in a demonstration of pre-election leadership resulted in the death of the Ambassador and an embassy employee, and two former SEALs coming to their rescue.  Two flag rank Military officers were relieved, and the head of the CIA resigned.  We are still awaiting the testimony from the Pentagon and the State Department.

In this case, the Secretary of State herself attempted to conduct a covert meeting in Iran with the President of Iran, ostensibly to negotiate in a hasty, secret meeting the end of Iran's nuclear program. 

Sorry, it simply doesn't work like that in the world of diplomacy!

Was This a Secret? 
In the foreign press - it's not considered covert
1) Mossad was monitoring the whole process.

2) The Russian GRU was monitoring the whole process.

3) The Syrians were monitoring the whole process.

4) The Brits were monitoring the whole process.

5) The French were monitoring the whole process.

The only country NOT monitoring this process was apparently the US!

This was not a role for the Secretary of State to carry out, no matter how secretive she thought she was being.  European and MidEast Intelligence organizations have operated for millenia, fine tuning their Human Intelligence resources which outmaneuver electronic surveillance seven days a week!  These spies knew precisely where she was every step of the way, and precisely what her intentions were.

It is impossible for the most highly visible diplomat in the world to operate incognito.  Past US Presidents have always used senior, those far less visible officers to conduct these negotiations.  Nixon used Kissinger -- although Henry was a laughable buffoon ridiculed in China for his clumsiness, his stupidity and his naivete. Jimmy Carter bumbled along, but allowed himself to be humiliated by the Iranians.

Vernon Walters
Both Nixon and Reagan used Vernon Walters [former CIA Director], whose diplomatic meetings were clandestine and quite successful.  Bush I, Clinton, and Bush used their State Departments efficiently to conduct low key and relatively invisible meetings.

In this instance, from the first communication with the Iranians to the crash of Hillary's plane, half the Intelligence World was monitoring her every word, and her every move. 

By traveling to Iran in secret, Hillary ran the risk of capture by President Ahmadinijad's enemies [there were reports they were outraged at this meeting and likely would have captured her].  Had she been captured by extremists, Clinton would have been at risk, and the US would have been in the same position it was under Jimmy Carter when the Iranians captured the US Embassy staff and held them hostage -- humiliating Carter and undermining US credibility until the day Reagan was inaugurated.

This Administration has repeatedly blundered in the world of diplomacy -- and this is a time frame where the US can ill-afford to appear weak.  Although we admire Hillary's courage in attempting this meeting, we can't help but think that it was still another attempt by the Administration to distract the American public by announcing a "breakthrough with the Iranians" -- thus derailing the Congressional hearings on Benghazi.

Not a flu victim
Given the reported seriousness of Hillary's injuries, we are not confident that she is on the road to quick recovery.

Unofficial reports, foreign news, and leaked foreign intelligence reports indicate that her speedy recovery is not assured.

Although we've not been a fan of Ms Clinton, we nonetheless wish her good health; TBIs require long-term care and are not to be taken lightly.

UPDATE: 17 September 2016

Wikileaks has just published [16 SEP 2016] a string of State and DOD emails relating to this event and to foreign news and intelligence reports documenting the crash.

Interestingly, Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., then Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served as the Chairman's direct representative to the US Secretary of State. 

His email to Jake Sullivan [then Hillary's Director of Policy Planning] called the reports a"conspiracy theory" and a big chuckle. He apparently was unaware of the death of his SEAL Team 4 Commander, Job W Price, although it appears he may have engineered the false report of Price's "suicide" in Afghanistan -- slandering Price's reputation.  [Sullivan is currently Hillary's campaign foreign policy advisor]

We recommend Representative Gowdy subpoena the good admiral, currently Commander of the Pacific Command, to determine precisely what role he played in covering up this incident, and if/why he participated in slandering the name and career of the SEAL Team 4 Commander.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

President for Life

In the finest tradition of Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe

Click here or  related story [] 

I wanna BE somebody

Representative Jose' Serrano [D-NY15] introduced Joint Resolution HJ Res 15 proposing an Amendment to the US Constitution to repeal the 22nd Amendment [which limited the President's term in office to to two terms].  This is Serrano's second attempt to repeal the 22nd Amendment.

You would think that by now, Serrano's constituents would have voted him out of office for such nonsense.  But, Mr Serrano is from Puerto Rico, and his 15th District is in New York City -- the Bronx to be exact, including Rikers [Prison] Island, a ConEd electricity plant, the Bronx Zoo, and Yankee Stadium.  His constituency is almost exclusively Latino.  Serrano refers to his District as the poorest in the US.

He is regarded as corrupt by other Congresspersons; Jeff Flake of Arizona took him to task for his $150,000 earmark to repair the roof of the Arthur Avenue Market [$15,000 for the repair; $135,000 in kickbacks?]   His voting record seems more attuned to Puerto Rico than to his constituents in the Bronx; then again, Charley Rangel preceded him in this position.

Serrano is a strong supporter of Hugo Chavez, the corpse currently acting as the President of Venezuela.

At one time, the District was represented by Hugh  Carey, who went on to become Governor of New York [1975-82] - a Conservative Democrat who led the fiscal rescue of NY from the brink of collapse.  Mr Serrano appears to take the opposite position, apparently seeking to lead New York TO financial collapse.  Given his position in the US Congress on the Appropriations Committee, it would appear he will support Mr Obama in leading the US to financial ruin.

After Franklin Roosevelt's fourth term began, responsible politicians of both Parties recognized a dictator when they saw one.  Even by the middle of his second term, he had successfully consolidated considerable power in the Oval Office [sound familiar?], culminating his attempt to pack the Supreme Court with his political hacks.

His attempts to convert the US economy to a Socialist one of Central Planning [like those of the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba] resulted in persistent unemployment between 14% and 17%.

Real 2013 Unemployment: 15% and rising

Mr Obama's real unemployment rate is well over 15%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics U6 statistics which counts true unemployment; that is, Civilian Labor Force unemployed more than 15 weeks, discouraged workers, those with marginal employment, those who have ceased looking for work.

The statistics are being manipulated to make Mr Obama's economy look healthy -- rather than continuing to be on the verge of collapse.

Pres for Life Idi Amin

We see a dictator in the making now -- although it may be too late to stop him. 

Given his track record, we'll expect to see him issue still another Executive Order authorizing him to have unlimited terms, making him President For Life -- just like Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe.

Mr Obama has consolidated extraordinary power in the Oval Office through the mechanisms of the Executive Order [EO], enacting 144 in his First Term -- so far.

EO 13603 authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to seize control of "resources, production, services and technology if a 'potential threat' is declared.

EO 13610 authorizes the President to "interpret legislation" [as he sees fit].

EO 13616 authorizes the President to seize control of Broadband [i.e., the Internet] if a "national emergency" is declared.

EO 13617 declared a "National Emergency" based on the existence of enriched uranium in Russia's USSR-era nuclear weapons stockpile.

EO 13618 assigns federal "national security and emergency preparedness" control of all communications functions/

So, what are prospects for Congressman Serrano's proposed amendment?
Roughly nil -- for now.

What are the prospects for Mr Obama declaring himself President for Life -- much higher!