Moscow Times : Deep Cover: Hidey Holes for the American Elite

Friday, March 26, 2004

Deep Cover: Hidey Holes for the American Elite

by Chris Floyd | The Moscow Times | March 26, 2004.

"I have a strategy. You're not in it."
– Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Unfortunately for the rest of us, the insatiable Slayers in the White House and Pentagon fully share Miss Summers' stern credo. In fact, for more than 20 years, men named Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have been working hard – and spending billions of public dollars – on secret strategies to ensure their personal survival when the hellmouth of catastrophe swallows everyone else.

But do let's be fair. The yellow-feathered Washington warriors aren't only looking out for their own backsides – they've also included their closest corporate cronies in the escape plan. In fact, the whole jolly crew intends to preserve their wonted rank of wealth and privilege even as their fellow citizens are roasting in nuclear fires or howling in clouds of gut-chewing microbes, as The Atlantic's James Mann reports this month.

Operation Anal Cover began in 1981, after affable frontman Ronald Reagan and CIA headman George H.W. Bush took office. The Reagan-Bush team immediately began serious preparations for nuclear war with the Soviet Union, including a first-strike "decapitation" plan to take out the Kremlin leadership in one swift blow. Naturally, they feared the Red dastards were thinking along similar lines, hoping to turn the fabulous Ron into a little spot of hair dye and rouge on the Oval Office carpet.

Thus was born an elaborate scheme to set up a secret government, hidden in hardened bunkers, capable of waging war and controlling the civilian populace – without any fussy bother from Congress or other elected representatives of the suckers out there. Instead, three separate teams of insiders were formed, each with a figurehead Cabinet member – placemen like the Agriculture Secretary – who would be "guided" by an all-powerful chief of staff. Dispersed around the country, the teams would use special communications links to rule the nation, for as long as the appointed über-chiefs saw fit.

Vice President Bush helped construct this secret machinery, working cheek-by-jowl with Colonel Oliver North – the beginning of a beautiful relationship that would fully blossom in the Iran-Contra scam, when the plucky pair shipped guns to Islamic extremists in Iran to fund an illegal terrorist war against Nicaragua's democratically elected government. North would later expand Anal Cover to deal with contingencies beyond nuclear war, such as "terrorist attacks" and "civil disturbances" – including large-scale protests against an unpopular military action – with concentration camps for tens of thousands of "dissidents," as the San Francisco Bay Guardian reports.

For two of the über-chief posts, the White House picked Bush's former comrades from the Nixon Administration: Dick Cheney, now a rightwing Congressman, busy slashing social programs for lazy peons and condemning the terrorist Nelson Mandela; and Don Rumsfeld, now a top corporate executive hawking laxatives to the hoi polloi. At regular intervals, Cheney and Rumsfeld would disappear from sight and repair to the secret redoubts, where they practiced running the country through arbitrary rule.

The program, created by a presidential decree and never submitted for Congressional approval, was financed by a secret slush fund, pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars each year. It edged briefly into the light during the first Bush administration, when allegations were raised about – what else? – financial corruption, funneling the program's public money to private cronies in sweetheart deals.

The program lapsed during the Clinton interlude, but roared back to life after the "new Pearl Harbor" that Cheney and Rumsfeld had been publicly yearning for, to "catalyze" the American public into supporting their plans for "radical transformation" of American society into a more aggressive, militarized state, as detailed in the publication of their private think-tank, Project for a New American Century, in September 2000.

Just minutes after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Cheney reactivated the "secret government," sending selected government officials – including, yes, the hapless Agriculture Secretary – into the long-prepared hidden bunkers. Cheney himself still periodically disappears into "secure, undisclosed locations," along with squads of bureaucrats, no doubt to "practice" emergency measures for the next big terrorist attack – the one that Iraq war leader General Tommy Franks tells us will cause "the unraveling of the Constitution" and the "militarizing of our country," reports.

But man does not live by bread alone – or rather, a man alone still needs his bread, even if he's running the country by decree from a spider hole in Nebraska. That's why the Bush Regime has now wired America's top business leaders directly into the special security grid through "CEO COM Link." As Harpers reports, CCL is a secure, "exclusive communications network created by the Business Roundtable for use by its members, 150 CEOs from Fortune 500 companies," giving the tycoons instant access to top Bush officials during a terrorist attack.

The magazine notes that no other organization – "not governors, mayors, firefighters, hospitals or police" – has such a connection. They'll be left to sink or swim while the CEOs get directions to the nearest safe haven. Oddly enough, even this scenario seems to have been inadvertently "practiced": on September 11, Bush was whisked to safety in the locked-down fortress of Nebraska's Offut Air Base, headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) – where he found a gaggle of top CEOs holding a charity event in the secure bowels of America's military machine, the San Francisco Business Times reports.

Thus CCL is just business as usual, another link in the great iron chain that has long bound "CEO COM" with "STRATCOM" and the Pearly PNAC "transformers." No matter how reckless or lunatic their policies – first strikes, illegal wars, targeted assassinations – the bunkered elites will be safe from the burning and howling they provoke.

The Times : Al-Qaeda cleric exposed as an MI5 double agent

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Al-Qaeda cleric exposed as an MI5 double agent

Allies say warnings were ignored

By Daniel McGrory and Richard Ford | March 25, 2004

ONE of al-Qaeda’s most dangerous figures has been revealed as a double agent working for MI5, raising criticism from European governments, which repeatedly called for his arrest.

Britain ignored warnings — which began before the September 11 attacks — from half a dozen friendly governments about Abu Qatada’s links with terrorist groups and refused to arrest him. Intelligence chiefs hid from European allies their intention to use the cleric as a key informer against Islamic militants in Britain.

Abu Qatada boasted to MI5 that he could prevent terrorist attacks and offered to expose dangerous extremists, while all along he was setting up a haven for his terror organisation in Britain.

Among the scores of young militants who came to visit him in London was the chief suspect in the Madrid train bombings. His followers also included people who wanted to be suicide bombers for al-Qaeda, such as Richard Reid, the shoe bomber.

A special tribunal that has investigated his operations in Britain described him as “a truly dangerous individual”. A ruling by the Special Immigrations Appeals Commission revealed yesterday that there was evidence to show that Abu Qatada “has been concerned in the instigation of acts of international terrorism”.

A security source in Madrid said yesterday: “Who knows how much violence and bloodshed could have been prevented if Britain had heeded the warnings about this man a long time ago.”

With terrorism at the top of the agenda at the European Union summit today in Brussels, Tony Blair is bound to be asked about MI5’s history with Abu Qatada and other militant clerics who have used Britain as their base.

Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the United States and Jordan all asked to question Abu Qatada about his links to al-Qaeda but were refused.

Instead, MI5 agents held three meetings with the cleric, who bragged of his influence among young Islamic militants and insisted that they were no risk to Britain’s national security.

He pledged to MI5 that he would not “bite the hand that fed him”.

He also promised to “report anyone damaging the interests of this country”. Instead, he was recruiting for al-Qaeda training camps.

His continued liberty for years after international demands for his arrest was an embarrassment for Britain. When David Blunkett introduced his controversial Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act, 2001, which allowed him to detain foreign suspects without trial, Abu Qatada claimed that the law “was enacted with him particularly in mind”.

He disappeared from his family home in West London just before the law came into force.

Indignant French officials accused MI5 of helping the cleric to abscond. While he remained on the run, one intelligence chief in Paris was quoted as saying: “British intelligence is saying they have no idea where he is, but we know where he is and, if we know, I’m quite sure they do.”

Almost a year later Abu Qatada was found hiding in a flat not far from Scotland Yard.

Abu Qatada was appealing against his continued detention in Belmarsh top security prison, but Mr Justice Collins ruled that the cleric was “at the centre in the UK of terrorist activities associated with al-Qaeda”.

He is a Jordanian national who arrived here with a forged United Arab Emirates passport in September 1993 claiming asylum.

Jordan told Britain that he had been convicted for terrorist attacks in Amman seven months before September 11.

Spanish investigators produced evidence that a militant they had in custody in Madrid — Abu Dahdah — had visited the cleric more than 25 times, bringing him money and new recruits.

Abu Qatada was banned by most mainstream mosques, so held his own meetings at the Four Feathers Club, near Baker Street in Central London. His lawyer says that he “entirely denies” any involvement with terrorism.