CBS News Investigative Journalist Explains How Mainstream Media Brainwashes The Masses

Did you know that only a handful of corporations, 6 to be exact, control over 90 percent of the media? That means nearly everything we hear on the radio, read in the news, and see on television (including ‘news’). I’m talking about General Electric (GE), News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS.

Ever since Operation Mockingbird, a CIA-based initiative to control mainstream media, more and more people are expressing their concern that what we see in the media is nothing short of brainwashing. This is also evident by blatant lies that continue to spam the TV screen, especially when it comes to topics such as health, food, war (“terrorism“), poverty and more. Corporate interests always seem to get in the way.

Multiple celebrities have even spoken out about this. Roseanne Barr, for example, said that MK Ultra rules in Hollywood. MK Ultra was (and I believe still is) a program run by the CIA to practice methods of mind control and experiment on human beings. (source)(source)

Filled with clever marketing tactics designed to tell us what to think and what to buy, mainstream media manufactures public opinion and popular trends. It’s time to really take a look at what’s going on here and consider the type of information we’re being bombarded with.

In the below eyeopening talk, veteran investigative journalist (and Former CBS NEWS investigative reporter) Sharyl Attkisson shows how “astroturf,” or fake grassroots movements, funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.

Source: Collective Evolution

“Tempête du Sud”: Al-Nosra jette l’éponge !!!

IRIB- En plus du fiasco infligé à leur bataille, «Tempête du Sud», laquelle devait, en principe, conquérir la ville loyaliste de Deraa, au Sud-Est de la Syrie, les milices participant à cette bataille ont dû, aussi, perdre leurs dirigeants, dans un raid aérien contre le siège de la rencontre qui les réunissait.

Samedi, un avion de l’armée de l’air syrienne a bombardé le siège de direction de la “Tempête du Sud”, situé dans la prison Ghazer, à proximité des dépôts de céréales Al-Naimeh, au Sud-Est de Deraa. Cette prison centrale avait été prise par la milice de l’Armée syrienne libre, (ASL), en mars 2014.

Des chefs militaires de la coalition de Jaïsh al-Fateh s’y trouvaient, dont, entre autre, un dirigeant de la branche d’Al-Qaïda, en Syrie, le Front Al-Nosra, un autre du mouvement Al-Mouthanna, un troisième de l’Armée syrienne libre, (ASL). Selon le correspondant de notre chaîne Al-Manar, la plupart des tués sont, néanmoins, des chefs du Nosra. Dans un communiqué, le Front Al-Nosra a parlé de «5 martyrs», dans ses rangs, dont certains sont dans un état grave. L’attaque est, selon la milice d’Al-Qaïda, la preuve de l’existence d’agents du régime, à Deraa.

«L’emplacement de la réunion a été modifié, à trois reprises, avant d’être décidé, dans la prison Ghazer», argue-t-il. Le Nosra soupçonne l’une des milices participant à la bataille, Al-Jaïsh al-Awwal, (Première armée), d’être de mèche, dans l’attaque, pour la raison que son représentant à la réunion s’est retiré, 4 minutes avant l’attaque. «Ce qui s’est passé nous pousse à nous résoudre à nous retirer de tous les accords et de toutes les cellules d’opérations, et à nous contenter de défendre nos sièges», a conclu le Nosra.

150 tués, en trois jours

A noter que le nombre de tués est plutôt important, en l’espace de trois jours. Toujours, selon Al-Manar, qui expliquait, dans un rapport télévisé, les raisons du revers des milices, le nombre des tués, dans leurs rangs, s’élève à 150, et plus de 200 blessés, dont une quarantaine sont dans état critique et risque d’être mutilés à vie. Ce qui équivaut au tiers de l’ensemble des miliciens ayant participé à la bataille lancée à partir de 7 fronts.
1.500 miliciens de 33 factions de miliciens avaient été investis, dans cette bataille, préparée depuis bien longtemps. Samedi, la cellule Mok a dépêché 1.000 miliciens de plus, pour leur prêter main forte. Sans rien changer au statu quo sur place.

Dernière évolution, sur le terrain, selon le site d’information Syria Now, (proche du pouvoir), l’armée syrienne a pris le contrôle de l’un des siège des milices, dans la ferme Al-Bitar, située au Nord-Ouest de Deraa, et ce, après un raid aérien, qui a tué et blessé ses occupants
Après l’avoir investi, elle a déclaré y avoir trouvé des armes “made in Israël”

Le Hezbollah défend l’intégrité du Liban ! par Richard Labévière

IRIB- Toujours inscrit sur les listes américaine et européenne des organisations terroristes, le Hezbollah libanais est engagé, officiellement, depuis l’été 2013, et en première ligne, contre les factions terroristes de Nosra, (Al-Qaïda, en Syrie), et de l’organisation «Etat islamique» (Dae’ch). Environ, 5.000 de ses combattants défendent, quotidiennement, la frontière libanaise d’Erssal, tout le long de la Bekaa-Est. Plusieurs membres de la rédaction du proche-moyen-orient.ch se sont rendus, sur le terrain.

Alors que la plupart des combats, menés par le Hezbollah, à la frontière libano-syrienne, se concentraient, jusqu’à maintenant, contre le Front Al-Nosra, dans la région du Qalamoun, c’est Dae’ch, qui a, dernièrement, fait monter la tension d’un cran, dans la région, en menant plusieurs assaut contre des positions avancées de l’organisation chi’ite. Pour la première fois, les deux formations se sont affrontées, dans les jurds (massifs) du Qaa et de Ras Baalbeck, deux zones chrétiennes de la Bekaa septentrionale, au Nord d’Erssal.

Les combattants du Hezbollah ont contré l’assaut jihadiste, lancé depuis la région du Kahf, à l’Est du jurd de Ras Baalbeck, ciblant ses positions frontalières de Qornet el-Samarmar et Qornet el-Mazbaha. Les combats, d’une extrême violence, se sont propagés, jusqu’à la région de Naamate, dans le jurd de Qaa. Faisant de nombreuses victimes, dans les rangs de Dae’ch, le Hezbollah a poursuivi son offensive, détruisant cinq véhicules blindés terroristes, à Zoueitiné et Jeb al-Jarad, ainsi qu’une rampe de lancement, pour roquettes, à Qornet al-Kaf.

L’un des «émirs» de Dae’ch et plusieurs de ses dirigeants ont été tués, à la suite d’un assaut, repoussé dans le jurd de Ras Baalbeck. Quatorze corps sont aux mains du Hezbollah.
Simultanément, dans le jurd d’Erssal, l’organisation chi’ite a neutralisé une concentration de Dae’ch. L’un des dirigeants de l’«Etat islamique», au Qalamoun, le ressortissant saoudien, Walid Abdel Mohsen al-Omari, a, aussi, été tué, durant cette attaque, confirmant, une nouvelle fois, l’implication de l’Arabie saoudite, dans les opérations terroristes, menées sur la frontière libano-syrienne. Une autre contre-attaque victorieuse du Hezbollah a été menée, à Chaabet el-Mahbas, dans le jurd d’Erssal. Elle a fait, également, de nombreuses victimes, dans les rangs des factions terroristes, suite au minage de la ligne de crête de Ras Baalbeck.

Ali Mokdad, le député de Baalbeck-Hermel, a déploré la mort de six combattants du Hezbollah : «Les habitants de la région du Qaa et de Ras Baalbeck sont, désormais, rassurés, sur les capacités défensives de la Résistance. Après ces derniers affrontements, ils sont certains que le Hezbollah est, parfaitement, en mesure de repousser les tentatives d’infiltration des terroristes, sur le territoire libanais. Une majorité des habitants d’Erssal, aussi, sait, aujourd’hui, que ces victoires sont acquises, au profit de l’ensemble de la population libanaise, et pas seulement, pour défendre la seule région de la Bekaa».

En coordination avec le Hezbollah, l’armée libanaise a renforcé son déploiement autour d’Erssal. Des hélicoptères ont été engagés contre les Jihadistes, dans le jurd de Ras Baalbeck, et plusieurs unités des forces spéciales libanaises ont pris position, au Qaa. Le père Elian Nasrallah a confirmé les effets de cette coordination entre l’armée et les unités du Hezbollah, en soulignant que les combattants chi’ites évitent d’investir les localités, afin d’éviter de prêter le flan aux critiques récurrentes de la droite libanaise, (le camp dit du 14 mars), accusant l’organisation chi’ite de mener une «guerre communautaire».

Dans ce contexte, particulièrement, éclairant, le Serial-Killer Samir Geagea, qui préside les Forces libanaises (FL) – alliées de l’Arabie saoudite et d’Israël -, a osé exprimer son «soutien total» à l’armée libanaise, estimant que «si chacun donnait libre cours à ses propres plans, le pays plongerait dans le chaos et la destruction», en ajoutant : «Sommes-nous dans un Etat ou pas ?» C’est l’hôpital, qui se fout de la charité… et le pompier-pyromane, qui récidive, après avoir estimé, à plusieurs reprises, que Dae’ch et Nosra ne représentaient pas de réelle menace, pour la souveraineté et l’intégrité du Liban !

Lorsqu’on connaît l’état structurel de sous-équipement de l’armée libanaise, dont Washington et Tel-Aviv ne veulent, toujours, pas qu’elle soit, suffisamment, dotée en moyens opérationnels autonomes, tous les experts militaires sérieux reconnaissent, unanimement, aujourd’hui, que c’est le Hezbollah, qui assure la principale charge de la défense du territoire libanais contre les terroristes de Dae’ch et de Nosra.

Il convient de relever ici l’incohérence très curieuse des choix stratégiques américains et français. Si un drone américain vient de tuer Nasser el-Wahichi – le chef d’Al-Qaïda, au Yémen -, les services spéciaux américains poursuivent leur appui logistique aux unités d’Al-Qaïda, (Nosra), engagées, en Syrie et contre le Liban… Messieurs Hollande et Fabius ne sont pas en reste, en continuant, aussi, à armer et renseigner les terroristes de Nosra, qui menacent Damas et la ville frontalière de Homs… Si les Américains gèrent la situation, au cas par cas, en fonction de leur négociation principale, sur l’avenir du nucléaire iranien, la position de Paris est on ne peut plus claire : coller aux basque du nouveau Salman d’Arabie saoudite, afin d’assurer les importants contrats commerciaux en cours, (environ, 35 milliards d’euros), avec les pays du Golfe, (non seulement, l’Arabie saoudite, mais aussi, le Qatar et les Emirats arabes unis, qui ont, dernièrement, honoré la facture de la vente des avions français “Rafale” à… l’Egypte).

Cette brillante «diplomatie économique», dite, officiellement, «sunnite», tant vantée par Laurent Fabius, pourrait – à terme – coûter très cher à la France éternelle. Non seulement, les monarchies pétrolières wahhabites continuent à financer les groupes terroristes, qui tuent des soldats français, au Sahel -, non seulement, Riyad, Doha et d’autres Emiratis continuent à soutenir les Salafistes, très actifs dans les banlieues françaises -, mais la campagne militaire, déclenchée au Yémen, par l’Arabie saoudite, pourrait s’avérer, prochainement, catastrophique, pour la stabilité interne de la monarchie pétrolière elle-même. Que fera Paris, lorsque les attentats se multiplieront, en Arabie saoudite ?

«Politique sunnite» de la France ? A quand une politique papou, celte ou bouddhiste ??? Quoiqu’il en soit, en continuant de nier le rôle défensif irremplaçable du Hezbollah, pour l’intégrité du Liban, en continuant à vouloir détruire Bachar al-Assad, plutôt que Nosra et Dae’ch, pour mieux exporter ses canons, ses avions et ses bateaux, Paris a décidé de s’engager, clairement, comme partie liée aux conflits proche et moyen-orientaux. Rompant, ainsi, avec plus de quarante ans de diplomatie gaulliste équilibrée, de médiation et de bons offices, les successeurs de Guy Mollet et des néoconservateurs américains ont pris une très lourde responsabilité…

Sacrifier l’intérêt national de la France aux intérêts, à courte vue, des marchands du CAC-40, ne suffira pas à produire une diplomatie durable, juste et équitable.

Échec du coup d’État US en Macédoine

La Macédoine vient de placer hors d’état de nuire un groupe armé dont elle surveillait les commanditaires depuis au moins huit mois. Elle a prévenu ainsi une nouvelle tentative de coup d’État, planifiée par Washington pour le 17 mai. Il s’agissait d’élargir à la Macédoine le chaos déjà installé en Ukraine de manière à prévenir le passage d’un gazoduc russe vers l’Union européenne.

Le Premier ministre macédonien, Nikola Gruevski, annonce la fin de l’assaut contre les terroristes.

L’affaire de Kumanavo

La police macédonienne a lancé, le 9 mai 2015, à l’aube, une opération pour arrêter un groupe armé qui s’était infiltré dans le pays et qu’elle soupçonnait de préparer divers attentats.

La police avait évacué la population civile avant de donner l’assaut.

Les suspects ayant ouvert le feu, il s’ensuivit une dure bataille qui fit 14 morts du côté des terroristes et 8 du côté des forces de l’ordre. 30 personnes ont été faites prisonnières. On dénombre quantité de blessés.

Pas une action terroriste, mais une tentative de coup d’État

La police macédonienne était manifestement bien renseignée avant de lancer son opération. Selon le ministre de l’Intérieur, Ivo Kotevski, le groupe préparait une très importante opération pour le 17 mai (c’est-à-dire lors de la manifestation convoquée par l’opposition albanophone à Skopje).
Continue reading

Over 500 killed in two weeks of chaos in Yemen – UN

Two weeks of chaos in Yemen has killed at least 519 people, many civilians and children among them, the UN announced, as Houthi rebels continue their advance against exiled President Hadi’s loyalists who are supported by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

Another 1,700 people have been wounded over the past two weeks, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos, said in a statement Thursday. She voiced concern for civilians caught in the crossfire – especially after neighboring Saudi Arabia with allies launched an air-campaign last week in an effort to stop the advancement of Shiite Houthi rebels who deposed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

“Those engaged in fighting must ensure that hospitals, schools, camps for refugees and those internally displaced and civilian infrastructure, especially in populated areas, are not targeted or used for military purposes,” Amos said in a statement.

At least 90 children have fallen victim to the conflict so far, according to Amos, while some youths are being recruited as child soldiers. Tens of thousands flee their homes and crossing to Djibouti and Somalia. To aid civilians, UN is working with the Yemen Red Crescent.

Over 40 people were reported dead in clashes and airstrikes in the port city of Aden on Thursday. Though the allied Air Force target mostly military facilities, weapon depots and infrastructure, the strikes befell on civilians too.

The coalition says its week-old air campaign is showing some success, as the operation “has excellently achieved planned goals at all levels – air, ground, and sea,” its spokesman said, according to AFP. Coalition jets engaged at the entrance of the Red Sea, the Bab el-Mandeb strait, striking a military base, officials told Reuters. Overnight air strikes were also reported on the coastal town of Shaqra.

However, amid the chaos, al-Qaeda militants stormed the center of the coastal city of Al-Mukalla and captured the local prison, setting free about 300 inmates, many of whom are militants. A provincial al-Qaeda leader Khaled Batarfi is also believed to have escaped.

he Yemeni airspace has been declared a “restricted zone” by the coalition, while ships in the region have been urged not to approach Yemen’s ports due to the ongoing military operation.

A Chinese vessel still evacuated 225 people from Aden on Thursday with armed personnel ensuring their security. Russia too was quick enough to evacuate dozens of its nationals on board two flights from Yemen. The US also evacuated its personnel from the country where for years it has engaged in drone war against al-Qaeda elements.

While battle on the ground continues, Washington is helping its main ally in the oil-rich region to defend its border with Yemen by providing drone surveillance, a US military official told AP. The US is also reportedly taking an active role in the air operations center in Riyadh to coordinate strikes by the coalition air force. According to the source, US authorized aerial refueling for Saudi warplanes in their bombing campaign against the Houthis on a condition that refueling takes place outside of Yemeni airspace.

The Houthis took power in the capital Sanaa early this year, forcing a democratically elected president Hadi, backed in 2012 by 99.8 percent of the voters as a sole candidate, to flee and set up a provisional capital in Aden. The rebels’ advancement on the port city further forced Hadi to retreat to Saudi Arabia and request an international intervention to reinstate his rule.

On Thursday, striking another heavy blow to president’s loyalists, Houthis seized the presidential palace in Aden. With some skirmishes already happening on the border, Houthis are threatening to attack Saudi Arabia, if the aerial bombardment of Yemeni territory continues.

Source: Russia Today

Syria: The Battle for Aleppo

By Toni Cartalucci

With Aleppo encircled, West seeks wildcard to save their terror hordes.

January 24, 2015 – The Syrian Arab Army is reportedly close to completely encircling militants that have occupied the northern city of Aleppo since they invaded it from NATO territory in 2012. Once the encirclement is complete, analysts believe the the city will be finally liberated, in a process similar to the retaking of Homs further south.

The desperation of militants facing this final phase in the Battle for Aleppo is indicated by their Western sponsors’ attempts to broker a ceasefire and arrange “aid” to reach them. Similar attempts were made in vain during the closing phases in the Battle for Homs in mid-2014 – with the city of Homs having been an epicenter of terrorist activity beginning in 2011, and now under the control of the Syrian government. Small pockets of militants have been isolated within Homs, allowing order to be restored across the majority of the city and the surrounding region.

As the Syrian government systematically regains control of a nation up-ended by Western-backed terrorists flooding the country accompanied by a seemingly inexhaustible torrent of cash, weapons, and equipment, the desperation of these Western interests has visibly increased.

The Guardian, chief among the many propagandists distorting the conflict since it began in 2011, is now attempting to form a narrative extorting global security by claiming only by NATO establishing a no-fly-zone over Aleppo and repelling Syrian government forces, can “moderate rebels” hold on to the city and repel lingering “Islamic State” (ISIS) forces.

In a report titled, “Syrian rebels prepare to defend ruined Aleppo as troops and militias close in,” the Guardian claims:
Since then the regime’s incremental gains have been hard fought, with most inroads being pushed back by rebel fighters and locals, both still reeling from their losses of manpower in the war with Isis. Meanwhile Isis has lurked 20 miles away, taunting the Islamic Front with a radio station it has set up that regularly plays Islamic chants insulting the group’s members.

“They were strategic [losses] for us,” said the Aleppo commander of the gains by Isis. “And [yet] the Americans doubt our commitment to fighting them? When [the US] came back to Syria, we thought the least they could do is to stop Assad’s air force from flying. But they have bombed the city more than at any time before the Americans arrived. Of course we believe they have a deal with the regime. It is obvious.”

Of course the reality is that the US has merely used ISIS as a pretext to violate Syrian airspace, with the next step being to establish long-planned no-fly-zones, if possible, to thwart the Syrian Arab Army. Just as in Libya, the no-fly-zone would simply hand the rest of Syria over to ISIS and other Al Qaeda affiliates – clearly the most dominate militant force engaged in fighting the Syrian government, and clearly the recipients of the vast majority of material support supplied by NATO and their regional partners, most notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel.

Government forces (in red) have nearly completed the encirclement of Aleppo.

It should be noted, that while the Guardian claims the remaining encircled militants in Aleppo are at odds with ISIS, the same report admits these same militants coordinate with US State Department listed foreign terrorist organization, Al Nusra. The Guardian would admit:

The fight for Zahraa, one of the few Shia enclaves in northern Syria, is being led by the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra, with whom the Islamic Front have an understanding but no formal alliance. After barely holding ground for much of the past year, al-Nusra recently seized large chunks of territory near the Turkish border, reasserting itself as a power player at the expense of non-jihadist groups. The fast-changing dynamic is forcing a new reckoning with the Islamic Front, which says it has waited fruitlessly for help from Arab states that was promised but never delivered.

These same ISIS forces that are allegedly at odds with “moderate rebels” have seen thousands of so-called “moderates” defecting into their ranks recently bringing with them large sums of Western cash and weapons. That Al Qaeda – both Al Nusra and ISIS – seems to thrive along the Turkish border indicates that NATO support is not at all going to “moderate rebels,” but instead, intentionally to Al Qaeda, or to moderate groups NATO knows is working with, or soon to join Al Qaeda. Continue reading

Report: Over 20,000 Foreign-Backed Terrorists Fighting Damascus Government

TEHRAN (FNA)- The number of foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government has exceeded 20,000, media reports said.

The terrorists are identified as coming from 50 different countries, including some 4,000 from the West European nations, WND news website reported.

The report said 1,200 of the fighters have come from France, and another 500-600 each from Britain and Germany. But Belgium produced the highest per capita participation, with 40 fighters per million population, it said.

Meantime, Kurdish fighters in the last 24 hours expelled ISIL terrorists from the Syrian border town of Kobani after more than four months of fighting, said a monitor.

Fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had “expelled all Islamic State (of Iraq and the Levant) fighters from Kobani and have full control of the town”, said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Kurds are pursuing some terrorists on the Eastern outskirts of Kobani, “but there is no more fighting inside now”, Rahman said.

Kobani, one of the largest cities in the Kurdish region bordering Turkey, was besieged by the ISIL terrorist group in September. Since then, Kurdish forces have been trying to drive the Takfiris out of the city.

In December 2014, Syrian Kurds leader Saleh Muslim Mohammad said that the main goal of Kurdish forces fighting against ISIL was full liberation of Kobani.

Meantime, the Syrian troops carried out precise and intensive operations against the armed groups near the Syria-Lebanon borders, killing too many militants.

The military offensive targeted the armed groups in the Wadi al-Kahf area near the Lebanese borders in the Eastern countryside of Syria’s central province of Homs.

It added that the army units inflicted hefty losses upon the rebels.

Elsewhere, the Syrian army killed 20 rebels on Sunday in the Northwestern province of Idlib. It was part of the army forces’ ongoing attacks on the militants’ positions in the countryside of Idilb, close to the Turkish borders.

Also, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the Israeli military is obviously supporting terrorist groups in Syria by conducting airstrikes in the crisis-hit country.

“Whenever we make advances in some place, they (the Israelis) attack in order to undermine the army. It’s very clear,” Assad said in an interview with American magazine Foreign Affairs.

“That’s why some in Syria joke, ‘How can you say that Al-Qaeda doesn’t have an air force? They have the Israeli air force’,” he added.

His remarks came a week after an Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at the village of Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights bordering Lebanon.

Six members of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah were killed in the attack.

The Tel Aviv regime has carried out several airstrikes in Syria since the start of the nearly four-year-old foreign-sponsored militancy there.

Damascus says Tel Aviv and its western allies are aiding the extremist terror groups operating inside Syria since March 2011.

Meantime, all groups of the Syrian opposition, except for the Istanbul-based Syrian National Coalition, participated in the inter-Syrian talks in Moscow, a well-informed diplomatic source said.

Source: Fars News

‘Operation Merlin’: Another Self-Serving CIA Project against IRAN

TEHRAN (FNA)- The jury is still out in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for allegedly having leaked the story of “Operation Merlin” – the covert CIA effort to lure Iran into working on phony plans for a key component of a nuclear weapon – to New York Times reporter James Risen.

But “Operation Merlin” itself was also on trial. The CIA was hoping that testimony by prosecution witnesses and a series of declassified CIA cables introduced as evidence would show that Risen’s account was wrong in recounting that the CIA’s human asset “Merlin” had immediately spotted a flaw in the plans to be turned over to Iran that Iranian engineers might be able to spot as well.

The cables reporting the incident and “Merlin’s” testimony both indicate that what “Merlin” saw was not a flaw in the schematics of the device, but a discrepancy between the schematics and the parts list accompanying it that would cause the Iranians to doubt the asset’s cover story.

But the evidence also reveals a larger story of a half-baked operation dreamed up by weapons specialists and managers who were ignorant of the most basic facts about the Iranians and their nuclear program. They created a cover story or “legend” for the Russian émigré scientist “asset” now known as “Merlin” that was so questionable that he never believed the Iranians would fall for it.

The exercise was pointless, moreover. The CIA did not claim that Iran had a nuclear weapons program when the planning of the operation began in 1996, and continued to offer no firm conclusion about Iran’s nuclear intentions through 1998.

Only in mid-1999, when the CIA needed to justify the operation to get White House approval for it, did it insert one reference to “Iran’s nuclear weapons research and development program” into its regular half-yearly intelligence assessment of Iran’s WMD policy for the first time.

The cables show that sometime in 1996, the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division (CPD) came up with the idea of getting experts at a national laboratory to design a key part in a nuclear explosive device called a “fireset” or “firing set”, among other terms, that was so seriously flawed that it could not be made to work. The device would then be dangled in front of Iran, in the belief that the Iranians would snap it up and expend huge amounts of time, money and manpower to try to get it work.

In September 1996, the CPD started looking for a Russian émigré nuclear weapons specialist “asset” who knew about “fireset” technology. As a result, CPD recruited a former senior Russian engineer identified in redacted CIA documents and testimony at the trial only as “Merlin”.

During 1997 and 1998, while the false set of plans for the “fire set” was being created by experts at one of the national laboratories, “Merlin” was busy writing e-mails and letters to organizations and individuals in Iran who might have some interest in the subject. He was signing his own name and identifying himself accurately as having worked at the Soviet Arzamas 16 nuclear weapons laboratory.

That remarkable feature of the operation reveals the hypocrisy of the prosecution argument, presented by former national security adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, that the exposure of the operation endangered the life of the asset.

At a meeting in San Francisco in November 1998, Merlin was introduced to the schematics of the “fireset” and the parts list to accompany it for the first time.

The secret hovering over the meeting was that Merlin’s case officers were “steering him away from any notion that the design is flawed,” as they were instructed to so, according to a 28 May, 1997 CIA cable. Thus the CPD was seeking to deceive both the “target” and the “asset”.

The deception began to fall apart immediately. Merlin testified on video last week, hidden from journalists in the courtroom by a high screen, that when he saw the schematics and the parts list for the fireset, he told the operation’s manager and two control officers that the most important parts were missing from the schematics. In one of the three interviews Merlin had with the FBI, he was more emphatic. “It’s fake. It will not work. Some parts are missing,” he recalled telling his CIA handlers, according to the FBI report read by defense counsel.

The “case officers” assured Merlin that the omission was “on purpose,” in keeping with the “incompleteness” of the fire set plans, according to the CIA cable reporting the meeting. Merlin was told to acknowledge the omission and to explain it as part of what the Iranians would get once they paid for the package.

What they did not tell Merlin, however, was that they had not realized that such a discrepancy had existed until he spotted it, and that they found out upon further inquiry that the original Russian émigré scientist who had worked on the falsified device did not even know how to make the missing parts.

Merlin was also disturbed to find that the parts list was in English – obviously an odd choice for a former senior Russian engineer whose collaborators were all supposed to be former Soviet engineers as well. “I told them I preferred to see the parts list in Russian,” he testified.

Merlin continued to express concerns about the credibility of his “legend” and his own personal security. He complained about the resume he had cooked up, which claimed scientific experience at Arzanas 16 that the Iranians could easily learn was untrue if they checked. Sterling dismissed the danger, making the wholly unconvincing argument that once the Iranians realized that he was offering a business deal involving nuclear weapons, they would feel no need for an extensive investigation,” according to a 4 February, 1999 cable.

But Merlin continued to fret about Iranian scrutiny. He began refusing to use his real name in letters and e-mails. In February 1999, he fretted that some of the emails he had gotten back from his many attempts to make contact with someone who might be connected with nuclear matters may have come from Iranian intelligence. Merlin informed his handlers that he had twice gotten error messages telling him that intrusions had been detected on his Hotmail account. He even raised the possibility that the Iranians could track him through his e-mails to his residence.

In January 2000, Merlin threatened to quit the project altogether, and walked out of a meeting in February to go over the details of the trip to Vienna he was to take shortly to deliver the plans to the Iranian mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency. When his handlers suggested that he was afraid of having to meet the Iranians, he did not disagree.

Merlin’s account of the operation after his trip to Vienna in early March makes it clear that he contrived to avoid any encounter with an Iranian official. He claimed he couldn’t find the Iranian mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency, although he had the address and directions. He said that when he finally found the office the following day he didn’t have the package with him, and that when he returned later that day and the following day, the office was closed. That was his explanation for simply dropping his package in the Iranian mission’s mail slot instead of handing it over to an Iranian official as planned.

CPD’s managers nevertheless declared the operation an initial success. In early May, CPD wrote in cable with the titled, “Iranians Take the Initial Bait” that the Iranian mission had couriered the package to Iran rather than tossing it in the trash, adding, “We are off to a good start.”

Meanwhile, CPD officials were already thinking of using Merlin as bait for at least one other country, according to a CIA cable on 5 April, 2000. They somehow managed to keep the operation running to 2003, according to testimony at the trial, despite the lack of any Iranian response.

The operation was bumbling and pointless, but the CPD believed that it was good for its business, expanding the range of its services and putting it on the front lines of central national security issues. “Operation Merlin” provides a dramatic illustration of how a bureaucracy serves its own institutional interests by pushing its pet program or operation in the name of national security.

By Gareth Porter

This article originally appeared in the Middle East Eye on January 23.
Source: Fars News