By Wayne Madsen
WMR has learned from a well-informed political insider that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have waffled on support for Egypt's pro-democracy revolution in order to safeguard a covert U.S.-Egyptian rendition and torture program that dates back to the Clinton administration. In fact, Clinton's Deputy Attorney General, Eric Holder, now Obama's Attorney General, was the first Department of Justice official to write a legal brief authorizing the rendition of alleged terrorists from third countries by the CIA to Egypt for purposes of interrogation and torture.
Holder, who served as Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno from 1997 to 2001, In 1995, Talaat Fuad Qassim, a member of al-Gamaa Islamiya, an Islamist group linked to "Al Qaeda's" number two, Egyptian Ayman al Zawahiri, was kidnapped by CIA agents in Croatia and flown to the United States. In 1997, after Holder became Deputy Attorney General, Justice Department prosecutors realized they had no legal right to hold Qassim. Holder, according to our source, went to see President Clinton and told him about the problem with holding Qassim in the United States, stressing that the United States was legally bound to release Qassim. Clinton told Holder to send Qassim to someone else. Holder arranged to have Qassim flown to Egypt where he was put into a small crate, tortured, and eventually executed by Egyptian authorities.
Holder has long been a coddler of torturous regimes. In 2004, while a partner with Covington and Burling, Holder worked out a plea agreement for his client, Chiquita Brands International, in which the firm agreed to pay a fine of $25 million for making cash payments to the Colombian right-wing death squad paramilitary force, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. The AUC carried out systematic assassinations of trade union activists, peasants, politicians, and leftist guerrillas in Colombia.
In July 1998, Holder signed off on the transport of two members of the Egyptian Jihad, captured by Albanian security forces in Albania, to Cairo by the CIA on a chartered extraordinary rendition aircraft. The Egyptians were tortured and executed.
Egyptian torture methods included hanging prisoners by all four limbs and placing electric nodules on their genitals, nipples, and feet. The CIA paid Egypt handsomely to carry out the torture program.
Holder and White House chief of staff Leon Panetta had signed off on the CIA's pre-9/11 rendition program with Egypt. During his confirmation hearings for Attorney General in May 2009, Holder was asked by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) about his role in renditions as Deputy Attorney General for Clinton. Holder admitted that extraordinary renditions occurred during the Clinton administration. However, neither Alexander nor Shelby asked Holder how many individuals were renditioned during his time as Deputy Attorney General. Holder was also not asked what torture countries received the kidnapped prisoners from the United States.
WMR has learned that George W. Bush's chief policy adviser, Karl Rove, restrained Republican senators from delving into too many details with Holder at his confirmation hearing. Rove was aware that the Bush administration also used Egypt as a renditioned prisoner recipient country. But Rove was also concerned about secrets being revealed about his own deals with Sweden to turn terrorist suspects over to the CIA for subsequent torture in Egypt. In December 2001, Sweden arrested Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery, two Egyptian asylum seekers who lived in Sweden.
Delivered to CIA agents at Bromma airport outside of Stockholm, the two Egyptians were handcuffed and chained after having suppositories containing drugs inserted into their anuses. The two Egyptians were then flown to Cairo where they were imprisoned and tortured. The rendition plane used was a Gulfstream V, owned by Premier Executive Transport Services, a CIA front company located in Dedham, Massachusetts. The tail number is N379P. The Swedish parliament and the UN later determined that Sweden violated Swedish and international law, respectively, by transferring the two Egyptians to the CIA and, ultimately to Egypt. Al Zery received $500,000 in compensation from the Swedish government.
Rove has known Holder since President Reagan appointed him as a judge on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1988. All of Reagan's judicial appointments were subject to vetting by Rove and his friends in the right-wing Federalist Society.
CIA's rendition program: started under President Clinton and with Eric Holder's approval.
Rove, who has had a long relationship with Sweden, reportedly phoned then-Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson and told him that Sweden must hand Agiza and al-Zehy over to the United States. WMR has learned from our source that Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh also received a personal phone call and e-mail from Rove in which it was demanded that the two Egyptians be turned over to the Americans. Lindh was apparently opposed to the request but was overruled by Persson, who was a friend of Bill Clinton and a champion of Clinton's and British Prime Minister Tony Blair's "Third Way' globalist movement. Lindh was stabbed by an assailant in Stockholm on September 10, 2003 and she died from her wounds on September 11. A Serbian-Swede was found guilty of the murder but his conviction was later overturned after he was pronounced mentally ill. There are suspicions that Lindh, an outspoken critic of America's invasion of Iraq and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, was assassinated by CIA or Egyptian agents who were worried about her knowledge of the CIA's Egyptian and other rendition programs.
The man who ran Egypt's torture program on behalf of the CIA was Omar Suleiman, the feared head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID), who was named by President Hosni Mubarak as Vice President after the popular rebellion against Mubarak's regime swept Egypt. Suleiman was a recipient of large cash payments from the CIA for EGID's torture of prisoners delivered to Egypt by the CIA under both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Suleiman also maintained close contacts with Mossad on issues dealing with Palestine and Syria. Suleiman also served as a member of a CIA-sponsored group of Arab intelligence service chiefs working against Iran. The group included Suleiman, CIA director Michael Hayden, Jordanian chief Mohamed Dahabi, Saudi intelligence head Prince Moqrin bin Abdulaziz, and United Arab Emirates national security council head Sheikh Hazaa bin Zayed al Nahyan. In 2001, Suleiman personally witnessed the torture of Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen renditioned by the CIA from Pakistan to Egypt. Habib was given repeated electric shocks, beaten, and waterboarded as Suleiman looked on. Habib was eventually renditioned again by the CIA from Egypt to Guantanamo, his "confession," obtained under Suleiman's torture techniques, used against him by the United States.
In December 2009, Suleiman traveled to Israel to meet with Netanyahu, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Mossad chief Meir Dagan, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Israel had extended an open door to Suleiman and he made several trips to Israel during his tenure as Egypt's to spy. It was Suleiman who tightened Egypt's border controls on Gaza, furthering the misery of the people of the world's largest engineered ghetto.
In 1993, Suleiman ordered his intelligence service to conduct a "census" of all "Arab-Afghans" living in Peshawar, Pakistan, and surrounding areas. They were all veterans of the CIA mujaheddin war against the Soviets in Afghanistan — Egyptians, Libyans, Yemenis, Jordanians, Palestinians, Algerians, Sudanese, Bahrainis, Tunisians. The census database soon contained thousands of names and Suleiman and his colleague, Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal, added additional names of Pakistani and Afghan supporters of such Islamist groups as Harkatul Ansar and Ahl al -Hadith, all of whom came under the operational control of CIA and British MI-6 Afghanistan field operative, Osama Bin Laden. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook wrote about the census database in The Guardianon July 8, 2005, "Al-Qaida, literally 'the database,' was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians." In fact, by conducting the census of the "Arab-Afghans" in Pakistan, the actual founder of "Al Qaeda" is the new Vice President of Egypt, Israel's closest Egyptian friend, Omar Suleiman. No wonder, Mubarak had to cover his tracks by revealing in June 2002, that Suleiman warned his CIA counterparts a week before 9/11 that Bin Laden was in the final stages of launching a major attack on the United States but that no one realized that the plan included the use of passenger planes to attack buildings. Mubarak's and Suleiman's "plausible deniability" protected themselves and the Israelis, especially important since "lead hijacker" Mohammad Atta, was supposedly an Egyptian.
Regardless of the statements from President Obama that Mubarak must leave office "now," it is clear that the waffling by the Obama administration is intended to buy time for the CIA to appropriate the Egyptian government's torture and rendition files that date back to Holder's original authorization of the program. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's major goal is to limit the damage to her husband from any disclosure of documents by a new Egyptian reform government about her husband's role in the CIA's use of Egypt to detain and torture prisoners. CIA director Leon Panetta is also trying to avoid the torture rap from his time as President Clinton's chief of staff.
The CIA has embarked on a policy of suppressing the Egyptian revolution until all potentially embarrassing documents and computer files held by Suleiman's EGID and other Egyptian government agencies can be successfully removed from Egypt to the United States.
The CIA recalls how partially shredded and un-shredded classified CIA documents at the U.S. embassy in Tehran were obtained by students who took over the embassy and, unlike the suspiciously-redacted Wikileaks cables, were soon published for the world to see, CIA agents names and all. In fact, the long-cut shredders used to destroy the documents were a blessing for the Iranians who handed the spaghetti-like shreds to Iran's best carpet weavers to reconstruct them in practically their original form. The EGID and other Egyptian intelligence and security agencies have likely amassed tons of files on CIA activities over the past several decades and the potential for the release of documents concerning all the CIA operations that involved Egypt — the 1980 October Surprise, Iran-contra, CIA arms smuggler Edwin Wilson's operations in Libya, repeated covert efforts against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, arms smuggling by the CIA to other African nations through the warehouse at Cairo West airport, and the CIA's nurturing of "Al Qaeda" for the mujaheddin war in Afghanistan and 9/11 — has Langley shaking over the possibility that a reform government will reveal the dirty little secrets of the CIA and successive American presidents going back to Ronald Reagan.
The CIA has been behind the scenes in Egypt advising the security forces and army on suppressing the popular uprising in order to delay the clock for Mubarak and his regime. The International Network for Rights and Development reported that three Israeli cargo planes arrived at Cairo's Mina International Airport on January 28 carrying large amounts of gas used for dispersing large crowds. There were also reports of U.S. and Israeli counter-insurgency personnel being dispatched to Egypt to assist the regime in suppressing the rebellion. Other reports emanating from Egypt claimed that Israeli professional provocateurs were among the pro-Mubarak "demonstrators" who attacked peaceful demonstrators in Tahrir Square, resulting in an outbreak of deadly violence on February 3. Israel has a long history of such activities in Egypt, including the infamous 1954 Lavon affair that, if successful, would have seen "false flag" Israeli terrorist attacks on U.S. targets in Cairo that would later be blamed on Egypt, eliciting a military response by the United States on Egypt.
The CIA has a special procurement program that is used to buy sensitive items from foreign governments. "Sterility codes" are used by the CIA to designate the "degree of traceability" that is used for the procurement of off-shore purchases of foreign items, such as crowd control gas from Israel for use by Egypt. The records of the purchases are likely to be found in "Local Procurement" records maintained by the CIA stations in Cairo and Tel Aviv.
The CIA's last-ditch support for the Mubarak regime is strikingly similar to its support for the Shah of Iran in his final days in power. As with the revolt against Mubarak in Egypt, the uprising against Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1978 came as a shock to the CIA. On December 2, 1978, two million people filled Tehran's Shahyad (now Azadi) Square demanding that the Shah step down. Almost two million people similarly filled Cairo's Tahrir Square demanding that Mubarak step down. In the months preceding the mass demonstration in Tehran, Iranian security forces massacred thousands of people. Iranian opposition forces claimed that Israel's Mossad provided assistance for the massacres to Iran's feared SAVAK security agency.
The CIA, to the very end, also provided assistance to the Shah's government. Some 75 CIA agents were dispatched to Iran along with more than a hundred private contractor operatives, all retired U.S. military and intelligence operatives. These agents worked closely with members of the Iranian military and SAVAK, many of whom had received training in the United States. Similarly, a number of Egyptian officers and non-commissioned officers, as well as EGID agents, received training in the United States. Just as President Obama dispatched Frank G. Wisner, Jr., former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and reputed CIA agent-of-influence, to talk to Mubarak, a close friend of Wisner, President Jimmy Carter, in November 1978, asked former U.S. ambassador to Iran and former CIA director Richard Helms, a personal friend of the Shah, to conduct liaison between the White House and the Shah. During his time as CIA director, Helms authorized the training of SAVAK officials in torture techniques. The CIA and Mossad coordinated their pro-Shah efforts in Iran.
As the Shah's position weakened, the Pentagon sent crowd control vehicles to Iran that were equipped with water cannons. Contingency plans were drawn up by the Pentagon and the National Security Council for the U.S. to dispatch troops to Iran to put down the popular rebellion and save the Shah and his Peacock Throne. SAVAK agents were also trained by the CIA to infiltrate anti-Shah groups and report on their plans. Other CIA provocateurs were believed to have infiltrated Iranian student groups that later took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran. There is a belief by many intelligence agents at the time that the most egregious incidents carried out by the students after they took over the embassy and held U.S. personnel hostage were committed by CIA and Mossad infiltrators bent on bringing about a swift U.S. military move against Iran and prevent Ayatollah Khomeini from taking power.
In the world of the CIA, the playbook never seems to change.
Along with the calls for Mubarak to step down now, there should be similar calls across the United States for Eric Holder to pack his bags and leave town.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has written for several renowned papers and blogs.
Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows. He has been invited to testifty as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government.
As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation.
Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and the National Press Club. He is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.