Oceans of lies

The “isolated event” in affairs among nations is rare, although most events are sold to us as that. Pearl Harbor was the result of a long string of hostilities, the most flagrant an embargo placed on Japan by the United States, virtually assuring a war. 9/11 was an act of desperation brought about by the need for the United States to preserve the petrodollar (the dollar as the world currency for trading oil). The 2011 attack on Libya was merely a continuation of that ongoing battle.

I’ve always been curious about one peculiar “isolated event.” On July 3, 1988 the USS Vincennes, an “Aegis” class warship, was provocatively in Iranian waters. Later that it day shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, Flight 655, which was making a routine puddle jump to Dubai, killing all 290 people aboard. They’ve always claimed it was an accident. I’ve never for a second believed that. But we’ll never have an admission of guilt, so there will always be that lingering doubt. Perhaps they just screwed up. Maybe it was an accident. However, it should be viewed in larger perspective.

In the wake of the shoot-down the Pentagon brass did what they do so well, lied and covered up and handed out ribbons and medals to all the (mostly unwitting) participants. It should have been case closed, but wasn’t. It was an event in a longer string of events. It runs something like this:

  • 1979: The US puppet, strongman, the Shah of Iran, is removed from power by violent revolution.
  • September 22, 1980: As if on command, another US puppet state, Iraq, under the rule of Saddam Hussein, invades Iran. A bloody war ensues.
  • Late 1980’s: Iran is prevailing in the conflict, and the US has moved its fleet into the Persian Gulf to show the flag. This is done under the guise of protecting merchant ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz.
  • March 16,1988: Iraqi forces, overstretched, cannot respond to Iranian provocations near the town of Halabja, and so resort to a poison gas attack there. 3-5,000 civilians are killed. The US assists in this affair, providing logistical support to Iraq.
  • July 3, 1988: The Vincennes shoots down the Iranian airliner.

Oops! Now, in that context, especially given the hostile posturing of the Vincennes in Iranian waters, and the sophistication of the vessel (a billion dollar technological marvel able to detect and respond to as many as 200 missile attacks at once), an observer from, say, Jupiter, might look at the act and say “Wow. That was deliberate. They were sending a message.” They were telling Iran to stand down, to cease its war against Iraq, as it was winning.

It doesn’t end there.

  • December 21, 1988: A bomb explodes aboard Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 243 aboard. On the surface, it appears to be Iranian retaliation for Flight 655.
  • July 25, 1990: US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie relays to Saddam Hussein the official US position that his dispute with Kuwait is an Arab matter, and that the US has no position on the matter.
  • August 2, 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait.

The table is now set for the First Gulf War, which will be a marvelous display of new weaponry undergoing field trials. There is no intent by the US to conquer Iraq, but merely to disable it, so the attack concentrates on the civilian infrastructure.Here’s one report on that war, years after the fact:

It is vital to understand that the first “hot” Gulf War was waged as much against the people of Iraq as against the Republican Guard. The U.S. and its allies destroyed Iraq’s water, sewage and water-purification systems and its electrical grid. Nearly every bridge across the Tigris and Euphrates was demolished. They struck twenty-eight hospitals and destroyed thirty-eight schools. They hit all eight of Iraq’s large hydropower dams. They attacked grain silos and irrigation systems.
Farmlands near Basra were inundated with saltwater as a result of allied attacks. More than 95 per cent of Iraq’s poultry farms were destroyed, as were 3.3 million sheep and more than 2 million cows. The U.S. and its allies bombed textile plants, cement factories and oil refineries, pipelines and storage facilities, all of which contributed to an environmental and economic nightmare that continued nearly unabated over twelve years.
Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, The Thirteen Years’ War (Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia)

In order to posture for the attack, which was to be viewed as retaliation for aggression, the US needed to assemble a “coalition of the willing,” and regional players were seen as essential cover. Two countries that had been involved in the Lockerbie incident had to be forgiven – Syria and Iran. That event had to be blamed on someone else, and Libya was chosen as the patsy.

It doesn’t end there, of course. Libya, punished for something it did not do, nonetheless needed to maintain relations with western powers, and so agreed to ‘fess up, paying $2 billion in damages. However, by 2011, the Libyan government is struggling under those payments, and so was in rebellion, setting up a gold dinar currency for trading its oil. Thus ensued the 2011 attack which decimated the country and saw its leader brutally murdered in public. Again, it was about the petrodollar.

In Western news and entertainment media, each of the events above is portrayed as isolated, usually with the US or its allies as victims. Far from reality, but not unusual in world affairs throughout history, each event is one real thing plus a cover story. The attention span of the typical US news consumer does now allow for connection of dots. Ever.

But everything is connected to everything.

I was triggered to write the above by a July 13, 1992 piece of investigative journalism published by Newsweek called “Sea of Lies,” by John Barry and Rogers Charles and others. (It seems so long ago that we actually had investigative journalists.) Throughout the piece, which is basically a limited hangout, I was looking for signs of deliberate intent on the part of the US in shooting down the Iranian airliner. There are only hints, such as

  • “Over this erratic “net,” a few seconds after 9:50, someone called out that the incoming plane was a “possible Astro” – the code word for an F-14. No one was ever able to find out who.
  • Then something happened that psychologists call “scenario fulfillment” – you see what you expect. Petty Officers Anderson and Leach both began singing out that the aircraft, now definitively tagged on the big screen as an F-14, was descending and picking up speed.
  • Most mysteriously, [Rear Adm. William ] Fogarty told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Vincennes had been racing to rescue a Liberian tanker, the Stoval, that morning. There is no such tanker reported in any ship registry. According to two sources, including a naval officer involved in the investigation, the Stoval was a decoy, a phantom conjured up by fake radio messages to lure out the Iranian gunboats. According to these sources, the Iranian aggression that Vice President Bush had so vigorously decried at the United Nations had in fact been in the trial run for an American sting operation.”

That is tantalizing, to say the least. Anyone who has read the details of the Tonkin Gulf affair knows that CIA routinely employs men under cover of various service branches, including the Navy. Most likely there were CIA agent aboard the Vincennes, especially given that a “sting” was underway. We also know that the agent[s] aboard the USS Maddox in Tonkin were able to stage a fake attack on itself – the Tonkin Gulf incident – that was then used to justify the full-scale invasion of Vietnam.

Barry and Charles give us just a hint of a much deeper affair that will never be revealed to us in full. Just one question resonates with me, however: Who was that dude that yelled out “possible Astro!” to all aboard? Why in the hell were we never able to find out? That’s odd.

About Mark Tokarski

Just a man who likes to read, argue, and occasionally be surprised.
This entry was posted in History, History as it is rewritten. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Oceans of lies

  1. JC says:

    And don’t forget the Iran hostage crisis in 1979-80 (Iranians refer to it as the “Conquest of the American Spy Den”). The neocons managed to manipulate that into helping elect Reagan.

    And then there was the Iran-Contra debacle. We sold arms to Iran (ostensibly to help them in their war against Iraq) in 1985 as part of a deal with the Israelis, Iranians and Lebanese to get 7 american hostages out of Lebanon. And of course, some of Reagan’s underlings thought it would be good to subvert the Boland amendment against funding the Contras (fighting out of Honduras to overthrow the Sandanistas in Nicaragua), by shuffling the funds from the arms sale to the Contras.

    Here’s another odd twist along the same lines as the Vincennes story. The media has been beating up Putin over his entry to the G-20 meeting in Australia because the Russian Navy also stationed 4 vessels in international waters off of Brisbane (maybe a couple of nuclear subs too). Russia says for “security” and indeed the Australian PM had been bad mouthing Putin, and threatening to physically assault him.

    But the internal Russian message was that this was payback for the U.S. stationing a couple Navy ships in the Black Sea off of the Sochi coast (Russian territory) during the 2014 Olympics, again ostensibly for “security.” John Helmer’s got this story covered.

    That was in February. Jump forward to the MH-17 downing over Ukraine on July 17. The surface narratives are all about the who dunnit: Ukies, Moskals, rebels, oligarchs & their mercenaries…

    What isn’t talked about is thatthe U.S. Navy & NATO were active in the Black Sea doing some “exercises:”

    Led by the Bulgarian navy, the 10-day drills aimed to improve tactical coordination of allied units “in a multi-threat environment,” NATO has said. Vessels took part from Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Britain and the United States.

    “The navy exercises BREEZE 2014 successfully concluded,” a Bulgarian defense ministry spokesman said. The Romanian Navy said exercises involved commercial traffic monitoring, reaction to asymmetric threat warnings, anti-submarine warfare and artillery firing.

    Yes, this was concluding on the day MH-17 was shot down, a mere 100 miles away from the Sea of Azov, and a couple hundred miles away from the Black Sea. So, with the military “games” ensuing, obviously there was a huge amount of Russian and U.S./NATO surveillance activity going on. The real story lurks in the war game /surveillance centers of all these countries, hiding in plain sight.

    Putin was to fly over Ukraine the day MH-17 was shot down, and one theory was that Ukies mistakenly thought MH-17 was his plane. Robert Parry has this story covered. But in line with how the U.S. used the Vincennes against the Iranians (NORTHWOODS style), what’s to say the U.S. Navy/NATO wouldn’t use a ship during the BREEZE 2014 “games” to do the same to the Ruskies and rebels by downing Putin’s plane? Even if that wasn’t the target, having an undercurrent insinuating it sends the same message to Putin: were going to get you, watch out and stand down.

    Wayne Madsen at Strategic Culture puts together a nice assessment of the use of U.S. military and clandestine tools to take down civilian aircraft as part of its military/CIA strategy:

    NORTHWOODS proves the existence of U.S. false flag attacks against civilian aircraft as a part of U.S. military doctrine and CIA «trade craft». Elements of NORTHWOODS have as much relevance as they did with respect to Israel’s shooting down of Boeing 727 Libyan Arab Airlines flight 114 over Sinai in 1973; the CIA’s bombing of Cubana flight 455 in 1976; perpetrators still remaining at-large involved with the hijackings of American Airlines flights 11 and77, United Airlines flights 175 and 93, and the suspected bombing of American flight 587 from New York to the Dominican Republic; and today with Malaysian Airlines flight 17 and the still-missing flight 370. Attacks on civilian aircraft are so engrained in U.S. and Israeli military doctrine, there is nothing to suggest that the practices have been shelved.

    “Same as it ever was: there is water at the bottom of the ocean!”


    • That’s a nice addition, and thanks.

      It appears to me that on the Vincennes, as with the Maddox in 1964, there was a covert op going on within the command structure of the vessel to take control of fire control, part of which was visible in the calls to the crew that they were being attacked. The authors of the piece I quote want to pin it on the commander of the Vincennes for being inexperienced and chomping at the bit. That has “cover story” written all over it.


      • JC says:

        I like your sense of narrative here. One of things that impresses me about Parry’s writing is that he is always cognizant of the “official” narrative running through D.C. and the Administration, and used as a basis for PR (read “propaganda”), and works to build the counter-narrative.

        He continually updates his narratives as new information and facts come to light. In this way they are most useful to draw comparisons and put context around other events, seemingly unrelated. That’s how we get from NORTHWOODS, to the Vincennes, to MH-17. It becomes plausible when the official narratives are all jaundiced for one reason or another.

        The narrative surrounding the U.S., whether it be overt military (+ NED, USAID, VOA, etc.), or covert (CIA, etc.), and it’s use of false flags is really telling when it gets assembled in an understandable way — this is the genius of Parry and Madsen. It removes the taint of “conspiracy theory”, the noose that some people (and the government) like to hang around the neck of people who go outside the “official” narrative.

        Once we understand how this subterfuge rolls, it then becomes normal to suspect the next remarkable event, in light of the history of parties involved, and not get sucked in by the immediate — and highly controlled — media stories, anecdotal reports, and official stances.

        I expect we’ll be seeing some sort of event intended to suck Putin into a direct confrontation with the west. Just as our embargo of Japan was intended to provoke them — and Pearl Harbor was that provocation — current sanctions of Russia may move to an embargo level, or Russia may cut off oil from Europe/Ukraine, provoking an escalation.

        We live in dangerous times, and the danger is escalating as a whole empire has been built on the house of cards principle. And when the first one falls, it’s dominoes.


        • I’ve got to pay attention to Parry … So many writers out there.

          I was just reading vineyard today, who says I’ve been duped yet again, that narratives being spun about MH17 pinning it on the Ukrainians (which may itself prove to be true) are using bogus evidence so that Western governments can later come in and shoot down the evidence, so to speak. This sort of duplicity and disinformation is common. I paid attention to a Russian engineering group, and Saker is saying be vewy wawy, as our friend Fudd would say.


          Also, I’ve got to get in and fix that link sometime, as it is “Saker” and autocorrect made it “Slacker.” Such tedious little tasks are annoying as I have to relearn WordPress each time I do it.


          • JC says:

            The Saker is an interesting dude. He’s an ex-intelligence analyst from europe somewhere, living (exiled?) in Florida. It’s a perspective that is really important, as he can see through a lot of the language barrier issues, and subterfuge. His piece today about Strelkov (just read his commentary at the end) lets me know that he isn’t afraid to admit that he was wrong about someone, and to take a different view of them. He was all over Strelkov when he headed up the rebel armies, but now he thinks that he’s not the person to be political. Insightful. He and I have had a couple of side chats — I did a photoshop bit for him that he printed up and hung at his desk. The submarine in the sahara image he used in his soliloquy the other day.

            Saker does a huge service discovering relevant foreign language material and videos and making them available to the english speakers. Some of the videos really start to let folks know what life really is like across the language/culture barrier, and get us past the propaganda images we’re subjected to. Of course, a lot of that material is it’s own form of propaganda, but when you expect that, it’s easier to watch, listen and learn.

            I heard somewhere today the term “WordMess.” Very apt. Actually, it’s the Apple autocorrect that gets me all the time. But I type watching the screen so I usually catch it.


  2. Pingback: Putin finally rises to bait? | Piece Of Mind

  3. Abe Froman says:

    You don’t mention that the USS Stark had recently been destroyed by “friendly” Iraqi fire in the way of an Exocet missile prior to the Vincennes incident, therefore the nervousness and shoot first – ask questions later mentality of the Vincennes could be understood in that context. I think you’re barking up the wrong tree here. Incompetence and the fog of war are a much more likely explanation, and make no mistake the US and Iran were very much at war even if it were decidedly low grade / intensity. Lots of interesting naval skirmishes in that area at the time. We even had these bizarre converted floating battle platforms that were straight out of a GI Joe cartoon. Operation Praying Mantis I think? We were already very overtly intimidating and attacking Iran, I think the public relations hit alone from shooting down an airliner like that would outweigh any benefit. Looks more like a true accident.


    • All worthy points, but consider the following:

      1) PR: American public opinion is under management, and is not considered a problem. News media says its an accident, its an accident.

      However, the message to the Iranians would be “Look at us. We are evil mutherfuckers. We can do anything and get away with it. We have nukes too. The American public believes everything we tell them. Stand down, leave our friend Iraq alone.”

      From a PR standpoint, I don’t see a problem.

      2) Competency: Of course it is possible it was an accident due to inexperienced crew and all of that. But should that be your cover point that prevents you from considering all other possibilities? Put another way, if it was a Russian ship that shot down the airliner, would you be so easy-going? When KAL 007 went down, was your first reaction “Probably an accident!”

      3) Spooks: All of our false flag events, including 9/11, involve regular competent and honest people doing their jobs, and spooks who have access to government resources moving among them. This is why I said in a comment above that I suspect there were CIA agents aplenty above the Vincennes, as the agency employs thousands of people in military uniform. If it as deliberate, it would not be regular military doing it. It would be our spooks.


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