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Argenpress, Argentina

Two Years in Office: Obama,
Fiasco President (Part II)

By Juan Luis Berterretche

Translated By Anna Ruby Waxham Blackwell

2 February 2011

Edited by Alex Brewer

Two Years in Office: Obama, Fiasco Pres­i­dent (Part I)

Two Years in Office: Obama, Fiasco Pres­i­dent (Part III)

Two Years in Office: Obama, Fiasco Pres­i­dent (Part IV-Final)

Argentina - Argenpress - Original Article (Spanish)

Robert M. Gates: From Boy Scout to Head of the Pentagon

At age 18 in 1961, Robert Gates was honored with the Eagle Scout prize by the Boy Scouts of America. At William & Mary College he was an active member and president of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity and the Young Republicans group. He graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts. He earned a master’s degree in history from Indiana University in 1966 and was recruited by the CIA in the same year.

Gates served in the Vietnam War with the rank of second lieutenant in the United States Air Force during 1967-1969 and was stationed at the Strategic Air Intelligence Command Air Force Base in Missouri. In 1969, he returned to the CIA. In 1974, he obtained a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University and left the CIA to join the National Security Council where he served until 1979.

In 1979 (during the Carter administration), Gates returned to the CIA, serving briefly as director of the Center for Strategic Assessment. In 1981 (during the Reagan administration), he was appointed executive director of staff, and in 1982, deputy director [for intelligence] of the CIA. In December 1984, as vice director of the CIA, Gates, in a secret memo to then-CIA Director William Casey, defended the idea that the U.S. should launch a bombing campaign against Nicaragua and do what was in their power to invade the country and overthrow the Sandinista government. This fact indicates that Gates has always adhered to a militaristic ideology, and he has done so with a total lack of respect for international law.

President Ronald Reagan appointed him deputy director of Central Intelligence in April 1986. Reagan later nominated Gates to be director of Central Intelligence (head of the CIA) in early 1987. He served as director of the Central Intelligence office for five months (January to May of 1987). He withdrew his name after it became clear that the Senate would reject his nomination based on his shady involvement in the Iran-Contra operation. Despite his withdrawal from nomination, he stayed at the CIA until 1989.

Gates also served as assistant to the president and deputy for national security affairs under President George Bush Sr. from August of 1989 to November of 1991. When, in 1991, then-President George Bush Sr. once again nominated Gates to be the new CIA director, a Senate committee questioned him for a month and managed to bring to light events related to the Iran-Contra scandal, which erupted in the late ‘80s. The New York Times reported: "Mr. Gates has done his best to dispel the doubts that forced him to withdraw when he was first nominated in 1987. He has seemed contrite and open-minded and cites his broad experience and future vision. But senators would do well to consider … whether his past performance shows him to warrant their trust ..." and said: "David Boren, the committee chairman, commends Mr. Gates for forthrightness. Yet he overlooks occasions when Mr. Gates helped skew intelligence assessments and was demonstrably blind to illegality. The illegality concerned the Iran-Contra scandal. Mr. Gates contends he was `out of the loop' on decisions about what to tell Congress. And he defends his professed ignorance on grounds of deniability -- that he was shielding the CIA from involvement. These contentions defy belief."
The NYT article explains further: "The testimony of others puts Mr. Gates, on at least two occasions, very much in the loop. He supervised preparation of Director William Casey's deceitful testimony to Congress about the scandal. And one CIA analyst, Charles Allen, says he informed Mr. Gates, before it came to light, of three unforgettable details: Oliver North's involvement, the markup of prices of arms sold surreptitiously to Iran, and diversion of the proceeds into a fund for covert operations. In a telling lapse of his reputedly formidable memory, Mr. Gates could not recall the details when Congress asked two months later."

The claim that Gates distorted intelligence assessments, as reported in the NYT article was made by Melvin Goodman to the senatorial committee. Goodman claimed that Gates had helped manipulate intelligence to suit the hard-line approach proposed by the Reagan administration; in particular, Gates was accused of trying to link the Soviet Union with acts of terrorism, including the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Gates’ manipulation of information is also apparent in his erroneous estimations of Soviet military forces and the situation in the Soviet Union shortly before and after its implosion. As deputy director and chief of U.S. intelligence he did not have the ability to measure accurately the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union. Gates himself acknowledges that the CIA "had no idea in January 1989 that a tidal wave of history was about to break upon us," chalking this ignorance up to a systemic failure within the agency, but forgetting that he had been for years the chief analyst specializing in the Soviet Union. The doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University that catapulted him to the position of CIA's top specialist on the subject was a real disappointment. "While the Soviet Union was falling apart, the CIA consistently reported that the Soviet economy was growing ... They used to take what the Soviets officially announced, deduct a small percentage and publish it."*
Despite all that came to light, the Senate committee approved his nomination and Gates served as CIA director from November 1991 onwards. He completed 26 years of service to the CIA in January 1993, when he finally left the Agency.

After leaving the CIA in 1993, Gates worked as a scholar and lecturer (yes, even though you may not believe it). From 1999 to 2001 Gates was interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Administration at Texas A&M. In August 2002, he became president of Texas A&M.

Between 1993 and 2006, Gates joined the board of Fidelity Investments Trust and served on the board of several corporations. In January 2004, Gates co-chaired a task force at the Council on Foreign Relations on Iran-U.S. relations.

On December 18, 2006, Gates was appointed Secretary of Defense (and therefore head of the Pentagon) by President George Bush Jr., replacing Donald Rumsfeld. He took the position when the country was engaged in two declared wars and dozens of covert military conflicts. His more than two-and–a-half decades of activity in the CIA prepared him to conduct U.S. foreign policy in a manner that consistently broke the laws of other countries. For his background in ineptitude, deceit and lawlessness, he had his predecessor beat.

Robert Gates and the War Industry

When the secretary of defense agreed to support the major private interests of Gates, they were divided into three companies (he had participated in the leadership of these companies between 1993 and 2006) covering activities essential to the direction of the empire's global pre-emptive war.
The Parker Drilling Company, where he served as executive, is a company based in Houston, Texas that provides drilling services on land and sea for the oil industry. It also provides drilling rigs, project management and leasing tools for the energy industry. The company has a fleet of 28 land drilling rigs in nine countries and 17 rigs presently in the Caspian Sea, Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico. According to its annual report, the company recorded total revenues of approximately $752 million in 2009.

The other two: VoteHere and Science Applications International Corporation are two related companies that have directors in common. In addition to Robert Gates, former president, chief operating officer and vice president of Science Applications International Corporation, Admiral Bill Owens, then became chairman of the board of VoteHere. Owens also served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was a senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney.

Science Applications International Corporation has 46,000 employees in 150 cities around the world and declared in 2009 revenues of $ 10.07 million. The company works closely with the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. intelligence community, including the National Security Agency and other federal and state agencies. Many known members of government have served on its management team and its board of directors, including Defense Secretary Melvin Laird of the Nixon administration; Defense Secretary William Perry and CIA director John M. Deutch under President Clinton; Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, who served in several positions within the NSA and CIA for Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan; and David Kay, who led the "search for weapons of mass destruction" after the 1991 Gulf War for the United Nations and for the Bush administration during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. These cronies are not at odds with Bob Gates.

VoteHere replaced Diebold Election Systems after an audit of Science Applications International Corporation commissioned by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Maryland that reviewed the performance of Diebold in the 2000 elections in Maryland. The fraudulent election of President George Bush Jr. in 2000 demonstrated the importance of controlling the vote count in America. VoteHere was an initiative comprised of individuals involved with federal security agencies, particularly the CIA and the Pentagon, to intervene in electoral decisions.

Science Applications International Corporation won the contract in 2003 to assist other corporations, including Northrop Grumman, in training the Iraqi army. That happened despite the past unreliability of Science Applications International Corporation and its radioactive waste dumps. In 1990, the corporation was indicted by the Justice Department in ten felony counts of fraud in the management of the cleanup of a Superfund toxic site (they pleaded guilty). According to a January 1994 article in the Crypt Newsletter: "In 1992 one of Scientific Applications (SAIC) government projects blew up in the firm's face when it was charged with fabricating environmental testing from toxic waste dumps. In 1993, the Justice Department sued SAIC, accusing it of civil fraud on an F15 fighter contract. And on Nov. 24, 2002 the Associated Press reported: “Some workers at the Yucca Mountain Project [managed by SAIC and Bechtel, (yes, the same as the Cochabamba Water War)] said there were flaws in the process scientists used to determine whether the site was suitable for disposing the nation's nuclear waste.”

Science Applications International Corporation is a giant military defense contractor that the famous Crypt Newsletter, edited by George Smith, describes as "the shadow ruling-class within the Pentagon." VoteHere is a company that aims to control the encryption and security software to the electronic election industry and has also developed programs for monitoring the U.S. civilian population: a perfect combination for continuing the arms industry party. Bob Gates worked in these companies and developed their private interests.

Nobody predicted that Barack Obama would inherit this predatory militarist from Bush as his secretary of defense and keep him this long.

Other "Pacifists” of the Obama Administration

To keep Gates company in the Obama administration, Obama chose Sub-Secretary of Defense William Lynn, former financial director of the Department of Defense in the Clinton administration, vice president of the arms giant Raytheon, and a lobbyist for that corporation in Congress until July 2008. Additionally, Obama named Robert Hale as sub-secretary of defense (comptroller). Hale was assistant secretary of the Air Force and financial controller from 1994 to 2001. Under the watchful eye of Hale, in fiscal years 1999 and 2000, the Department of Defense reported the disappearance of $ 3.4 trillion — so far there has been no research into the looting. Fittingly, on Sept. 10, 2001 Donald Rumsfeld announced at a press conference that the Pentagon was missing $3.4 trillion, and no party yet had been found responsible, although there would be an investigation into the matter. The next day after 8:46 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 embedded itself in the north tower of the World Trade Center, embezzlement at the Pentagon ceased to be news.

To direct the National Intelligence Bureau which oversees intelligence agencies (including the CIA), Obama nominated Admiral Dennis Blair, another representative of the arms industry. Blair was in the directory of the Earl Dodge Osborne Corporation, a subcontractor for the program to develop the new fighter aircraft F-22 Raptor; he served on the board of Tyco International, which manufactures small electronic components for the F-22, and Tridium, a satellite company; and he served as director of the National Security Agency to four-star general James L. Jones, who until January 2009 was a consultant to Cross Match Technologies (a biometrics company working for the Pentagon), a member of the board of MIC Industries (construction of military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan), and earlier an executive for Chevron, Boeing and Invacare Corporation (military medical equipment).

Obama Maintained Bush's Repressive Legislation

Just 45 days after the attacks of Sept. 11, on Oct. 26, 2001, without any debate, the U.S. Congress passed the Patriot Act or USA PATRIOT Act, which stood for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.”

Adopted as a provisional title, it was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2005, but was extended by the House of Representatives. It is set to expire again on Feb. 28, 2011. Of the 16 provisions of the Patriot Act that ensure widespread control of populations, 14 have been converted to permanent status. Under the Obama administration the central principles of the Patriot Act remain in force.

Many sections of this comprehensive legislation remove judicial oversight from the law and harm the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. According to studies by independent institutions, under the Patriot Act and its provisions the government can:

Search your home in a secret raid and not even announce it; take your property without a hearing; gather information about the books you read, what you study, your purchases, your medical history, and finances; check your email and see which websites you visit; spy on innocent Americans; intercept telephone lines under an order that does not even have the name of the person; authorize the FBI to observe and monitor religious and political groups without evidence of wrong doing .

The Patriot Act can also put immigrants, any alien or any person who has never committed a crime in jail indefinitely. This is a direct negation of habeas corpus. It provides that a person can be tried by a military court, at the discretion of the president, if not a citizen. The U.S. president is able to label as an enemy combatant any U.S. citizen or any national of a country with which America is at war; classify as "terrorist" any person or organization with no basis for the classification; and expand the definition of "terrorist activity" to the point of including non-violent activities opposing U.S. foreign policy. Both provisions are effective worldwide. Finally, the contents of the law can be applied retroactively (a specific violation of Article 15 of the U.N.’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).

The Patriot Act is a direct attack on fundamental rights, such as the right to privacy and freedom of expression. It has legalized the practice of administrative detention without knowledge of habeas corpus, the implementation of the political persecution of opponents and racial profiling and xenophobia in the arrest of people allegedly linked to arbitrarily defined terrorist organizations.

Guantanamo, Indefinite Postponement

One of the most revealing of Obama’s fiascos was his false election promise to dismantle the Guantánamo concentration camp. In mid-November 2010, the Washington Post reported that Obama had abandoned government plans to close the Guantánamo prison. Government officials blamed Congress for not voting to finance the shutdown of the Pentagon’s Auschwitz and transfer detainees to the U.S.

Of the 779 prisoners in Guantánamo in late 2008, 749 had been detained without any legal guarantees for the first two years. And the rest were transported on flights from secret prisons during 2007 and 2008, via the concentration camp at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Of those hundreds, only about 5 percent may have had anything to do with al-Qaeda, although they are still cited today as enemies, in the farce that is the global war against terrorism.

In May 2010, a group of prosecutors, intelligence analysts, security officers and similar officials released a report on the situation in Guantanamo, commissioned by President Obama. This study did not address the status of the 181 prisoners at that time in the prison, who under U.S. law should have been prosecuted in federal courts. It also did not take into account international law. The United States systematically violated the provisions of the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment to be afforded to prisoners of war. The person saying this is not a dictator of one of the countries in the "axis of evil," but former President Jimmy Carter.

For prisoners at Guantanamo, the U.S. does not apply the national or international laws that they are entitled to because most were abducted in various countries or purchased as "terrorists" by U.S. military allies in search of rewards (Pakistani, Afghan, Iraqi, Yemeni accomplices, etc.). They were illegally transferred and charged using false evidence or testimony, and their confessions were extracted under torture. Andy Worthington introduced in London, on Jan. 27, 2010, the most comprehensive study of Guantanamo detainees. It is based on Pentagon records, interviews and other various released sources. He said:

"It is my hope that this project will provide an invaluable research tool for those seeking to understand how it came to pass that the government of the United States turned its back on domestic and international law, establishing torture as official US policy, and holding men without charge or trial neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects to be put forward for trial in a federal court, but as ‘illegal enemy combatants.’ I also hope that it provides a compelling explanation of how that same government, under the leadership of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, established a prison in which the overwhelming majority of those held — at least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys imprisoned in total — were either completely innocent people, seized as a result of dubious intelligence or sold for bounty payments, or Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before the [(dubious)] terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or international terrorism."

Today, after more than eight years of disgrace in Guantanamo Bay, and with so much responsibility on Bush and Obama, 177 prisoners remain; about 130 may wait for a fixed trial by military commission and 47 are detained indefinitely with no possibility of trial.

Meanwhile, under Obama, the Immediate Reaction Force at Camp Delta in Guantanamo remains very active. On paper, the Immediate Reaction Force is a group of five military police officers on constant alert for emergencies. In particular, they violently, cruelly dominate any resistance from the detainees. In fact, they are a squad of the terror court. These teams are brutalizing prisoners. The situation is even worse in secret prisons maintained by the United States in war zones, where prisoners are transferred to puppet government authorities in Iraq and Afghanistan. These prisons are outsourced to countries ruled by dictatorial governments.

* Editor's note: The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.



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