I’m a citizen of a state sponsor of terrorism

You know… I’ve stopped reading Glenn Greenwald as much these days. He’s still in my Google Reader, but most of the time I glance at the title, maybe the first paragraph, file it under “not news” and move on. I’ve been reading him for that long, and gotten that cynical. In spite of that, this story still managed to shock me:

When the U.S. wants to fund, train, arm or otherwise align itself with a Terrorist group or state sponsor of Terror — as it often does — it at least usually has the tact to first remove them from its formal terrorist list (as the U.S. did when it wanted to support Saddam in 1982 and work with Libya in 2006), or it just keeps them off the list altogether despite what former Council on Foreign Relations writer Lionel Beehner described as “mounds of evidence that [they] at one time or another abetted terrorists” (as it has done with close U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, along with the El Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras armed and funded in the 1980s by the Reagan administration). But according to a new, multi-sourced report from The New Yorker‘s Seymour Hersh, the U.S. did not even bother going through those motions when, during the Bush years, it trained the Iranian dissident group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) at a secretive Department of Energy site in Nevada

It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. . . . The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.

Despite the growing ties, and a much-intensified lobbying effort organized by its advocates, M.E.K. has remained on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations – which meant that secrecy was essential in the Nevada training. ”We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada,” a former senior American intelligence official told me. “We were deploying them over long distances in the desert and mountains, and building their capacity in communications — coördinating commo is a big deal.”

You can find a lot more details and commentary on Greenwald’s blog, but here’s my very brief commentary: I remember when I first heard rhetoric about “state sponsors of terrorism” and didn’t question it. Oh, I knew about the Iran-Contra scandal, and that the US government was for Saddam Hussein before it was against him, and various things the CIA was probably involved in as part of the Cold War, but I still thought there were clear lines between the US government and some other governments. And I thought one of those lines was that the US didn’t support groups that were uncontroversially terrorist groups.

And now we know the US government has supported a group on its own list of terrorist groups. Holy shit.

  • Brownian

    And now we know the US government has supported a group on its own list of terrorist groups. Holy shit.

    Let’s not get excited. I’m sure they had to divvy up their shampoo into multiple less-than-100 ml containers before they got on the plane to Nevada, just like everybody else.

  • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

    Yeah, I have a similar relationship to GG’s blog. It can be a bit tiresome at times to get hit with his rhetorical frying pan over and over again. And I cut my political teeth on Chomsky.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Oh, I think Greenwald’s rhetoric is perfectly justified. It’s just ceased to be new after awhile.

  • left0ver1under

    This is nothing new. Go read up on the “School of the Americas” in Georgia, where the US used to train Central and South American dictatorships how to torture and murder dissidents and opposition.

    Especially those who sought and fought for democracy.

  • Art

    We have a long history of maintaining contacts, sometimes backing, ‘opposition groups’ to nations and people we wish to harm or influence.

    The CIA, and other agencies armed and financed the Nepali resistance. They were so successful that the Chinese were forced to move major roads several hundred kilometers north to avoid the gorillas. This is, according to the CIA, considered the most successful CIA operation ever. Remarkable in that it was an act of war against China that went unanswered and resulted in minimal blow back.

    There was our financing and arming of the terrorist anti-Castro forces, the whole Iran-Contra thing with government sponsored shipping of arms to Iraq while private corporations did much the same thing for Iran. There are well founded rumors, poorly documented, we ‘help’ anti-government terrorism in Iran.

    Name a nation that has our attention, as friend or foe, and you name a nation where we are involved in, or, at the very least, well aware of their internal politics. Greens to nationalists in European nation all have their own file. And with names and backgrounds it is simple enough to add money and, if need be, arms.

    History seems to indicate that the most dangerous thing is not monitoring or maintenance of contacts but neglect after building a better beast. After lavishly funding and underpinning the Mujaheddin willing to fight in Afghanistan for us with indoctrination, organization, and religion we left the monster intact but undirected.

    In Burma and Nepal we, and the Chinese, through attrition and systematic oppression, effectively dismantled what was built up. Both Russia and China have their own areas of interest. The Middle East and Asia have their own long history of violent political interference and dabbling in terrorism.

    Increasingly multinational corporations are taking on roles previously limited to nation-states. They have their own interests, intelligence operatives, assets, and private armies.

    This is an amoral world that only takes on shades of morality when it breaks into the public consciousness.

  • mnb0

    Yeah, since the Korean war the USA do a pretty bad job spreading freedom all over the world. Your only comfort is that all other superpowers in the history of mankind did even worse. That includes my own country, The Netherlands, during its Golden Age (17th century). Not to mention Dutch colonization of Indonesia between 1890 and 1950.