A former State Department foreign service officer’s new book provides a shocking, timely, and credible circumstantial case that ties the U.S. training of Islamic radicals to our nation’s major foreign policy disasters in the Mideast during the past quarter century.
This should tie in pretty nicely with the reported transport of one high-ranking ISIS leader by US frogmen.
The book is Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World — An Insider’s View. Author J. Michael Springmann (shown at right) is the former chief of the visa section at the U.S. consulate in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. He launched the book last week with his first lecture and book-signing, which admirers organized at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“It’s past time to expose murder, war crimes and human rights violations by the United States of American and its ‘intelligence’ services,” Springmann says. He continues:
Using the dubious claim of “national security,” the United States, though the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency (NSA), has engaged in and/or organized coups and destabilization efforts around the world, most notably in the Middle East.
From Libya to Iran, governments have been overthrown, politicians assassinated, and everyday citizens murdered — all with the knowledge of not only the president of the United States and the executive branch but with the legislative and judicial ones, as well.
The essence of his first-hand experience is that he was required as chief visa officer in Saudi Arabia to issue what he regarded as illegal visas to large numbers of U.S.-backed Islamic fundamentalists transiting through Jeddah from multiple Islamic nations so they could visit the United States for secret purposes.
Those purposes, Springmann later concluded, involved covert training at such locales as “The Farm,” a CIA training facility in Williamsburg, Virginia. The trainees, he alleges, were vagabond Islamic mercenaries, revolutionists and jihadists — an “Arab-Afghan Legion” — who could be unleashed on America’s enemies.
All of this, he argues in Visas for Al Qaeda, was without adequate consideration of the “blowback” to the United States from uncontrollable jihadists sometimes recruited from prisons and with the help of ultra-radical clerics.
Spymasters made the recruitment process so complex, he says, that most of the radical clerics and U.S. government workers involved would not have known the funding and evolving goals of the process. But at the top, he shows, NATO-allied Gulf oil monarchies and their charities often served as intermediaries for the West in joint operations that cannot withstand public exposure.
In his view, the State Department, the CIA, and higher-ups have created an ongoing disaster for the United States, our allies, and the rest of the world.
It began with President Carter’s decision via his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski to fight Soviet power in Afghanistan by supporting radicals on the borders of the Soviet Union.
Brzezinski, shown in a file photo, later held the national security advisor post for 2008 Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, thus illustrating a long continuum of policy and personal connections seldom explored by the mainstream media, which includes the advisor’s daughter, Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the MSNBC “Morning Joe” show.
Springmann shows U.S. complicity in arming the Mujahideen, Taliban, Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan during the 1980s when both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were United States operatives.
His story draws on his first-hand experience in fighting State Department and CIA higher-ups who enabled this ruthless, radical fighting force to evolve into the modern-day Al-Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State.
His book could not be more timely.
Right now, the U.S. Congress is likely to authorize war against ISIS/ISIL (the Islamic State of Syria/Islamic State of Levant).
Few in government or the major media dare voice the hidden history of the nation’s previous wars in those regions, much less discuss current covert operations. These have led to up to six trillion of dollars in U.S. taxpayer expense for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars so far since 2001, according to some estimates. A half million to a million are dead and millions more have become refugees in those broken nations, according to other widely reported estimates.
Without that debate and history, neither Congress nor the public can create logical limits on presidential war-making in terms of an enemy, geography, or a time-frame.
An open-ended authorization could be used, as in past resolutions, to circumvent the U.S. Constitution’s clear requirement that Congress must approve a war.
Instead, the president could in effect enact endless war in any part of the world because virtually anyplace that has — or could have — Muslims who could be accused of “terrorism” or “conspiracy.” Those are highly fluid terms, as indicated by vast numbers of cases, including many prisoners held for more a decade and sometimes tortured on little more general suspicion based on an informant, who may have been motivated by a U.S. bounty for implicating a “terrorist.”
A similar pattern exists in the prosecution of many alleged U.S. terrorists, most of whom have turned out to be low-level operatives encouraged by government informants to take actions that resulted in arrest.
Meanwhile, the average citizen has little idea of the scope of threatening activity since the facts seldom are reported in depth aside from initial statements from prosecutors, as in the March 2 indictment of a former Virginia cab driver on terrorism charges. In the case, headlined by the Washington Post as, Virginia cabbie on FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list detained in Somalia, authorities said the suspect was charged with providing material support and resources to Al-Shabab, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization allied with Al-Qaeda. Another such mystery involves reasons for the murder of an opposition leader in Moscow, with the facts so far summarized by a New York Times report March 8 headlined, Suspect in Russian Politician’s Killing Blows Himself Up, Report Says.
Springmann’s argument and documentation is that the United States government itself has undertaken law-breaking actions also to recruit and otherwise assist members of Al-Qaeda and other “terrorist” organizations for short-term strategies that, from a public interest standpoint, are now back-firing.
His allegations are not restricted to Muslims or the Mideast. Parallel regime change efforts appear to be unfolding in many parts of the world, most especially in the Ukraine and arguably in Russia, Africa and South America, building on U.S. “successes” in using Muslim mercenaries to destabilize Yugoslavia in the 1990s, then Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2010, mostly in the name of human rights.
Even more broadly relevant to current debates is the concept that multiple presidents of both parties have circumvented immigration laws to enable prospective terrorists to enter the United States illegally for training. This implicates:
- Immigration “reform;”
- Funding of the Department of Homeland Security;
- U.S. policy towards Iran; and
- CIA suppression of that section of the 9/11 Commission Report disclosing the identities of those who financed the 9/11 terrorists.
Regarding the last matter on the above list:
Any U.S. official who mentions the contents of the suppressed report is subject to imprisonment. In the bizarre world of Washington “national security,” the presumed funders of 9/11 are still being protected by the full force of United States law and policy. And a co-author of the suppressed report, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (R-FL), shown below with Democratic and Republican congressmen currently leading demands for release of the 9/11 report, faces prison if he describes what’s in it.
Nonetheless, word has leaked out via investigative reporters that the information sought by 9/11 families pertains to an extensive funding effort by Saudi Arabia, birthplace of 15 of the 19 hijacking suspects. Indeed, they were approved for travel to the United States via the same U.S. consulate in Jeddah where Springmann previously worked.
The Saudis claim that they want the suppressed pages from the 9/11 report released because they have nothing to hide. But that is a transparent platitude because the CIA could easily release the materials if no one important had anything to hide.
Washington insiders believe the CIA, currently led by the agency’s former Saudi Arabian station chief John O. Brennan, shown at right, do not want to antagonize such a wealthy, oil-rich kingdom by disclosing its role, much less any cover-up or related embarrassments by U.S. personnel.
The mainstream media largely ignore the issue, for reasons Springmann and others describe.
The incestuous ties between the White House and the media are obvious, as in the White House photo at left taken on Feb. 18, 2015.
It portrays the president working with Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications (shown at far left), and Terry Szuplat, senior director for speech writing, on remarks prior to the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. Rhodes has been a key strategist and speechwriter for the president on national security. His brother, David Rhodes, is the president of CBS News.
Washington insiders know that such situations abound.
Under Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, for example, the president’s communications director was Catherine Martin, whose husband was Federal Communication Commission Chairman Keven Martin. Shown at right, he was regarded even by fellow Republicans as using his vast powers in especially ruthless ways to help friends and punish enemies.
Conveniently, her job was to influence the media — and his was to regulate those companies. That inherent conflict was well-known in Washington but seldom reported — for obvious reasons.
More on such matters below.
For now, the best we can do is report evidence from courageous and patriotic mid-level experts, who are virtually ignored by Washington’s government, academic, and media establishment except when outspoken experts are fired or prosecuted for saying too much.
So, the publication of Springmann’s book is an important event. He launched his book at the press club’s Sarah McClendon speaker group, which features independent experts who tend to be ignored elsewhere. True to tradition, no mainstream reporters attended or have addressed his book so far, pro or con.
For such reasons, we put forward on the record his arguments, drawn from both his book and his dinner lecture Feb. 23.
As for his background, He holds a J.D. from American University in Washington, DC, as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in international relations from Georgetown University and the Catholic University of America. Springmann wrote of his foreign policy experience:
I know about unlawful government plots for a fact. As a career official with both the Commerce and State Departments, I saw these plots close up during my nine years as a diplomat. First, I was an economic/commercial officer in Stuttgart (1977-1980), then a commercial attaché in New Delhi (1980-82. Later I was a visa officer in Jeddah (1987-1989) a political/economic officer in Stuttgart (1989-91), and, finally an economic analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1991).
Springmann had studied at Georgetown’s prestigious Foreign Service School, including briefly with political science professor and author Carroll Quigley. Quigley’s teachings and books examined the powerful role that elites have held of Anglo-American foreign policy, especially since the founding in the 1890s of a secret, well-funded cabal to dominate foreign policy by hidden alliances between financiers, government officials, and prestigious academics and journalists.
Quigley, shown in a 1970 photo before his death in 1977, argued that the United States has adopted a similar system. Further, Quigley argued that history shows such hidden group-think (to invoke an Orwellian term) among ostensibly independent experts can lead to disastrous foreign policy decisions hurting even the United Kingdom and United States, home to the well-educated and lavishly funded masterminds of the global chessboard. Springmann’s book does not mention the iconic professor but the scholarship is implicit in Springmann’s call to action.
In 1991, Springmann the State Department fired Springmann without explanation, presumably for his relentless questions in Saudi Arabia and later as a whistleblower to Washington authorities about why his supervisors overrode his objections to granting applicants from Jeddah the right to visit the United States with no valid reason under the law.
Blackballed from his field in effect, Springmann became an attorney while maintaining a research interest in foreign affairs, including his termination. He has filed many Freedom of Information lawsuits for the past two decades, with sparse results on the whole. Authorities have persuaded compliant federal judges that relevant records have been lost or cannot be shared because of largely unspecified “national security” concerns.
The author’s failure in that litigation and similar inability to persuade most of his former colleagues to talk are handicaps to his research, but not fatally so. To the contrary, his two decades of effort underscore his courage and tenacity in assembling such a compelling book via other sources.
Several related points should be mentioned among the many important implications of his experience and research.
- Both political parties are implicated. The original U.S. alliance with Islamic radicals began during the Carter Administration, as noted above, and continued through presidents of both parties and their administrations. Brzezinski, head of Obama’s department when the latter studied at Columbia University as an undergraduate (but not so far linked directly with Obama then, with relevant academic records mysteriously suppressed), has boasted that his initiative to foster cooperation with radical Islamists was worth the price to persuade them to fight the Soviets.
- The State Department and non-government organizations (NGOs) are heavily infiltrated with CIA personnel and priorities. Springmann estimates that approximately 30 percent of State Department personnel in overseas postings are typically associated with the CIA and that the figure was at least half in a sensitive post such as Saudi Arabia. Further, he describes such prominent NGOs as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as an intelligence front group that launders federal funds to support human rights organizations that are activated for regime change in nations covertly targeted by the United States. Such assessments, which are widely shared by independent researchers but seldom reported in the Western media, help explain why many embattled governments discourage activities by the NED and allies.
- Obama and all other recent presidents were CIA and FBI assets before they entered politics. My book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters is quoted several times to that effect, as are the works of author, political commentator and former Navy Intelligence officer Wayne Madsen, author of The Manufacturing of a President documenting the intelligence activities of Obama, his parents on both sides, and his white grandparents under front jobs that hid their true functions.The purposes of the front identities (including Obama’s as a “community organizer” and “constitutional law professor) was the same as for CIA recruitment of the Bush family, FBI recruitment of the young Ronald Reagan, and CIA/FBI subsidies to political groups ranging from the Ku Klux Klan on the right and the Communist Party’s Daily Worker on the left: the ability to influence public opinion and government policy on behalf of hidden leaders in the private sector, no matter what developments arise.
- The mainstream media’s reporting, books, and other commentary has been self-censored and otherwise restricted far more than the public can imagine. “The ‘mainstream media’ will not report on these activities to expose them for what they are,” Springmann writes. “In fact, TV, radio, and newspapers flat out support them. Instead of checking power, the media, print or electronic, commonly act as government agents, parroting the ‘company line’ and attacking (or ignoring) reports and sources that expose injustice or illegal policies.”
We illustrate such concepts with a 1950s prediction by futurist and Brave New World author Aldous Huxley, at right.
Approached from a slightly different perspective is a chart recently issued by the establishment Brookings Institution showing the nation’s most politically powerful billionaires, half of whom control important media or other communications companies. We have recently cited both charts in previous stories but they are worth republishing, especially in view of suppression of relevant commentary in so many other places.
The president and the nation’s foreign policy establishment have many ways to articulate their policy views and alleged successes. For a convenient example, we provide the president’s address last September on the threat of ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State: President Obama: “We Will Degrade and Ultimately Destroy ISIL.” The link to a 13-minute video is below.
In the speech, Obama used sweeping rhetoric without addressing the kinds of specific historical questions raised by Springmann’s courageous book (Daena Publications, 282 pages) and its predecessors.
Similarly, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) has campaigned relentlessly for years to advocate more wars and arms deals to solve global problems. At the same time, he is lionized by the media, as underscored by his track record as by far the current leader in terms of invitations to speak on the influential Sunday network news talk shows.
Yet no one apparently has grilled McCain in-depth to determine the facts behind some of his initiatives, such as his meeting in May 2013 with Islamists who allegedly morphed into Al-Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL leaders in Syria. The matter is worth noting here to illustrate the scope of such controversies and the utter failure of mainstream media or other establishment sources to resolve them.
As for the basics: McCain slipped across the Turkish-Syria border to meet with opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The trip was arranged by Elizabeth O’Bagy, who accompanied him while working for the U.S. Institute for the Study of War, a hawkish NGO led by Kimberly Kagan. The latter is part of the neo-con/neo-lib pundit/scholar family that includes her husband, Frederick Kagan, his brother Robert Kagan, and the latter’s wife, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Victoria Nuland.
Like McCain, the photogenic, Georgetown-educated “Dr.” O’Bagy, 26, shown at left in a screen shot from Fox News, advocated the vital importance for taxpayers in funding so-called Syrian “moderates” against the Assad government in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that identified her as a Ph.D. expert. McCain, Secretary of State John Kerry, the Wall Street Journal, and many others were eager to advance her career and messaging.
Part of that was that she described McCain as so eager to know his moderate friends that he undertook a “sleepover” with them.
But she was exposed as falsely claiming doctorate status and as being a paid operative of the so-called Free Syrian Army seeking more funding from U.S. taxpayers. She seemed, in other words, to be a phony and a propagandist although perhaps more charitably might be described as yet-another DC-based careerist in over her head.
Whatever the case, McCain promptly hired her as on staff after the Institute for the Study of War fired her.
The situation got even more messy in 2014 when U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) relied on a McCain claim that he had met “with ISIS” to denounce McCain’s continuing advocacy for war spending against Syria. Rand also cited reports that McCain and O’Bagy had met on their trip with individuals so radical as to be identified with Al-Qaeda and ISIS, as indicated by the photo collage below.
As not uncommon with high-level officials, Paul’s language and citations were loose when he told the Daily Beast published Sept. 16, 2014, “Here’s the problem. He [Sen. John McCain] did meet with ISIS, and had his picture taken, and didn’t know it was happening at the time.”
McCain and mainstream media launched into a counter-attack flatly denying Paul’s claims about a meeting with extreme radical leaders, although McCain’s staff conceded that he had misspoken in stating he had met “with ISIS,” instead of more moderate leaders, as intended.
Washington Post columnist and “fact-checker” Glenn Kessler promptly published an all-out defense of McCain and attack on Paul, Four Pinocchios for Rand Paul’s claim that McCain met with the Islamic State. Kessler relied heavily on McCain’s invective against Paul, previously reported in McCain’s friendly home-state newspaper, the Arizona Republic in, McCain rips claim he posed for photo with ISIS fighters.
As reader comments to both newspapers pointed out, the newspapers’ defense of McCain failed to resolve the factual questions.
The most basic omission was their failure to identify all the individuals in the photos with their 2013 and later affiliations.
Critics of McCain allege current ISIS Caliphate leader Abu-Bakr Al Bagdadi (a pseudonym), for example, was in the 2013 photos but was not with ISIS then because the new organization was not announced until 2014. That leads to the second question: Are denials by McCain and the newspapers based on the sophistic argument that McCain could not have been meeting with ISIS in 2013 because it was not created until 2014? Or is his denial more substantive: that none of those now fighting for ISIS and Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups were even in his photos?
Resolution of these two questions is beyond the scope of this article. But the still-murky facts suggest the difficulty of relying on McCain, other congressional leaders, their key staffers like O’Bagy, and supposedly independent and prestigious media such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Arizona Republic to sort it all out for the public. The Post, for example, should run a disclaimer every day reminding readers of one of its conflicts: the CIA is spending $600 million on a contract with Amazon.com, the wealth source for Amazon.com founder and Washington Post owner Jeffrey Bezos.
As an update in 2015, the Washington Times reported on March 3 U.S. backed rebel reportedly leads Islamic State in Libya. The newspaper summarized reporting from conservative U.S. media that senior Al Qaeda leader Abdulhakim Belhaj, a major figure allied with the U.S. in Libya, has thrown his support to ISIS.
In the 2011 photo at left, U.S. Senator John McCain poses with Belhaj after NATO helped empower his leadership in Libya. Assisting McCain (R-AZ) in the awards presentation but not shown in the cropped photo were Senators Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
For such reasons, we should read if not treasure such bold, brave and expert mid-level professionals as Mike Springmann, who courageously bring to the public such important work as Visas for Al Qaeda.
With the stakes so high right now, I would award his book the highest level of in a five-star rating system even though the non-cooperation of government authorities in his FOIA lawsuits and otherwise undermines its comprehensiveness and its small press publication lacks some of the polish and marketing clout of the “prestige” organs that benefit from Washington’s money-laundering and other back-scratching relationships.
That said, more power to him that he doesn’t have former Secretaries of State blurbing his book and lauding his disclosures, or the Institute for the Study of War throwing a lavish book launch party — although they all should do these things for the sake of their own consciences, children, and other legacies.
What can anyone else do? That’s often the toughest question.
I suggest, as in my most recent lecture and column, ‘Presidential Puppetry’ Discussion Examined Civic Mysteries, Propaganda, that we all try to educate ourselves with different perspectives and invite to our community groups speakers we find most worthy or challenging, thereby expanding our horizons at least temporarily beyond top-down and often taxpayer funded propaganda efforts on these topics.
Visas for Al Qaeda, in the words of Wayne Madsen, the former Navy intelligence officer and author, “is one of those books that, after reading, one can only put it down while shaking their head in disbelief. However, the ramifications of what took place in Jeddah have had a devastating effect on many countries around the world.”
In addition to the United States being in a post-constitutional era, civil war was brought down on Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Springmann’s book provides yet another detailed look into the history of the CIA’s vast misdeeds and criminal activity and the State Department’s inherent incompetence and corruption.
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
Related News Coverage
Visas For Al Qaeda
WMR, Timely book on Saudi/CIA backing of Al Qaeda, Wayne Madsen (shown at left), Feb. 9, 2015. Former U.S. consular officer in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) Mike Springmann could not have been more timely with his new book, Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts that Rocked the World. As demands grow for the Obama administration to release the 28 missing pages from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on 9/11 intelligence failures, Springmann’s book serves as a unique preface and epilogue to the Senate report. In fact, Springmann’s description of the pipeline that provided U.S. visas to Saudi and other Wahhabist radicals provides for the reader what is, according to intelligence insiders, identified as a key finding in the “missing” 28 pages.