Monthly Archives: September 2013

Noel Doran Declines Right To Reply In Allison Morris Scandal


Some of my readers will be aware of the ongoing dispute between my colleague Anthony McIntyre and Noel Doran, editor of The Irish News and one of his senior reporters, Allison Morris over, inter alia, that newspaper’s coverage of an interview Morris had with Dolours Price and the consequent subpoenas served on Boston College by the US government on behalf of the PSNI.

Recently I contacted Noel Doran by email offering him the right to reply to an article that had appeared on McIntyre’s Pensive Quill blog which I intended to reproduce as an act of solidarity over threats from lawyers to close down his site. I reproduce the exchange below and beneath that the original article at the heart of this argument. Suffice it to say Noel Doran never took up my offer (click on each email and article extract for a larger version).

The emails:

Doran1Doran2DoranReplyDoran3The Pensive Quill article:

mackers1Mackers2mackers3Mackers4Mackers5 Mackers6The following email was received from Noel Doran on October 3rd. It is in two parts for logistic reasons (click on it for larger version):

Doran01Doran02 I will make a couple of comments. Firstly, readers can check my emails of 19th and 27th September for the presence of any profanities. I can see none and indeed I am not in the habit of using them in emails. That is not my style. Either there is something very wrong with the Irish News’ firewall or something very wrong with Noel Doran’s understanding of how such things work.

Secondly, I am glad that Noel Doran is no longer seeking to close down the Pensive Quill and that he now prefers the route of reply to legal action against those he has quarrels with. I have already offered Noel Doran the right to reply and of course that offers remains extant.

Another Noel Doran e-mail:

doran_03Noel – I am glad, at least, that you now implicitly accept that the email I sent you on September 27th contained no profanities at all and that there were none in my substantive message to you on the 19th. But why did you include these in your complaint when you knew it wasn’t so?

As for a writer using a nom de plume or as you prefer to call it “a pseudonym”, there is a long, distinguished and honorable record of this happening in literature, politics and newspapers, from JK Rowling to Stephen King, from the Bronte sisters to Benjamin Franklin; the Irish Times used Quidnunc, Hibernia used Tom Luby and the Federalist Papers were by-lined by Publius, all to hide the true identity of the authors. So nothing new or remarkable about it happening on a blog. It’s part of the history of human literature. You can read about the practice here and here.

A third e-mail from Noel Doran:

Doran5So, Noel, I guess that means you won’t be giving a response to the Pensive Quill article after all? That’s a pity. You call it “nonsense” and if so it should be easy for you to answer and demolish. Since you won’t do that you can hardly complain if some people people conclude you won’t respond because you can’t.

One final word on anonymity in journalism. Doesn’t the Irish News grant anonymity to sources for its stories all the time, not least Allison Morris in her various pieces on dissident republican groups? I understand and approve and have done it myself often but pray, what is the difference between that and a writer using a nom de plume to ensure his/her anonymity.

On that note this tedious exchange has ended.

Is Fergie The Most Devious, The Most Cunning Of Them All?


As a lifetime supporter of Tottenham Hotspur, it doesn’t take much for me to delight in the travails of Manchester United, a team which, when I was a regular visitor at White Hart Lane, could be almost guaranteed to ruin your season.

Aside from one memorable Saturday when Spurs hammered United 5-2, with Jimmy Greaves scoring a goal to die for, United would invariably score easy wins over Tottenham and invariably end the season ahead of them in what was then the First Division.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson

But in football every dog has its day, it seems. Arsenal once strutted the land but no more; similarly Liverpool and Everton and even Chelsea (a team whose supporters are a particularly obnoxious bunch) look like they are in severe difficulties. And so with Manchester United, it appears. Today’s defeat by Manchester City was so comprehensive and United’s performance so lacklustre and uninspiring, that the thought that a decline is on its way of the sort that can last for years and take a near miracle to reverse does not seem as absurd as it would have been two or three years ago.

That happened after the Busby years and it wasn’t until Alex Ferguson moved from Aberdeen to take over at Old Trafford that United’s fortunes improved. Ferguson has now moved on himself, although he appears still to be hovering in the background, and had a crucial say in the choice of his successor, the Everton manager David Moyes.

Now, I had always regarded Moyes as a typical middle of table manager, solid, reliable but lacking that certain je ne sais quoi that is present in the exceptional manager. And since I always had assumed that Ferguson was no idiot, I wondered why he had chosen this man to succeed him.

David Moyes - lacks Fergie's 'je ne sais quoi'

David Moyes – lacks Fergie’s ‘je ne sais quoi’?

Thinking about this I was reminded of an experience I had in Irish journalism and I must tell the story carefully. Irish journalism happens in a very small if often vicious arena and if I go into too much detail it will be a simple matter to put a name to the person I am writing about.

Anyway this journalist was very successful and very, very ambitious and during his career held down some of the most important and glamorous jobs in Irish journalism. His professional life had always seemed to taken an upwards soaring arc and no-one, it seemed, could come near equaling his flair and ability to catch the scoop. At least that was the image.

One day, in his cups, he divulged one of the secrets of his success to me. Whenever he moved on from one job to another he naturally had a great say in choosing his successor. And so, he said, he always made sure that the person who took over him was several notches below in terms of ability. That way they would never make the sort of impression he had and his record would look even more lustrous.

I tell this story because I wonder if Fergie has done the same at United, helped choose a manager whose performance he knows will make his years look all the better? I was reminded also of Charlie Haughey’s famous words about Bertie Ahern, words that would always haunt the future Taoiseach: “He’s the man. He’s the best, the most skilful, the most devious, and the most cunning of them all.” Except those honours really belonged to Charlie. As they do to Fergie.


The score in that Spurs-United match (which took place in 1965) was 5-1, not 5-2. United’s team included Best, Law, Charlton and other greats. You can watch the highlights here:

Libya Revisited: The Follies, Lies And Crimes Of A Humanitarian Intervention

UPDATE – I forgot to say that the author of this fascinating piece is Alan J Kuperman.

As readers of this blog may guess, there is a soft spot in my heart for Libya. I spent two happy years there in the early 1970’s teaching English to Arab students at Tripoli University and these happened to be some of the best years of the Gaddafi dictatorship, when he was seriously intent on redistributing oil income to the country’s people.

Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, slain by Jihadi forces in 2011

Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, slain by Jihadi forces in 2011

Roads were being built all over the place as were homes, schools and hospitals. Everyone had a job, usually working in some government office, and Libyan pockets were stuffed with dinars. Our bosses were friendly and hospitable, fillet steak was sold at the same price as stewing meat in subsidised butchers shops, home made booze was always within reach and the warm Mediterranean sea and its golden beaches were never more than half a mile away. And we were young.

Clearly things went downhill after I left for reasons and in ways which would take too much space to describe here. By the mid-2000’s Gaddafi had decided to maneuver his way out of his self-imposed dead end and made his peace with the West.

Tony Blair and a host of American neocons were welcomed and feted in his desert tent in an effort cling on to power but it didn’t work out, as I suspected it wouldn’t. Gaddafi gave up his pathetic stock of chemical weapons, allowing Bush to claim his Iraq intervention had worked, European leaders wooed him quite nakedly for his money and Gaddafi turned into a clown. He made the fatal mistake of mistaking their approaches for friendship and the advent of a new-found respectability while all the time they held knives behind their backs, biding their time but ready to strike.

And so when the West, in the shape of NATO bombers and special forces on the ground intervened in 2011, allegedly on the grounds of preventing a civilian slaughter in Benghazi by Gaddafi forces, I didn’t quite believe the reasons they gave. Not only did the story not hang together but I knew from personal experience the deep layer of Western hostility to his regime and the desire for revenge for his past activities that existed in London and Washington. If they were looking for an excuse to remove him, the Arab Spring provided it.

Now the Belfer Center at Harvard School of Government has added substance to that suspicion in a devastating analysis of the Libyan intervention and its aftermath that should make all those crying for a similar US exercise in Syria serious pause for thought. Here is their report:

Policy Brief • September 2013

Quarterly Journal: International Security

Lessons from Libya: How Not to Intervene


The Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong. Libya’s 2011 uprising was never peaceful, but instead was armed and violent from the start. Muammar al-Qaddafi did not target civilians or resort to indiscriminate force. Although inspired by humanitarian impulse, NATO’s intervention did not aim mainly to protect civilians, but rather to overthrow Qaddafi’s regime, even at the expense of increasing the harm to Libyans.

The Intervention Backfired. NATO’s action magnified the conflict’s duration about sixfold, and its death toll at least sevenfold, while also exacerbating human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and weapons proliferation in Libya and its neighbors. If Libya was a “model intervention,” then it was a model of failure.

Three Lessons. First, beware rebel propaganda that seeks intervention by falsely crying genocide. Second, avoid intervening on humanitarian grounds in ways that reward rebels and thus endanger civilians, unless the state is already targeting noncombatants. Third, resist the tendency of humanitarian intervention to morph into regime change, which amplifies the risk to civilians.

By Alan J. Kuperman

This policy brief is based on “A Model Humanitarian Intervention? Reassessing NATO’s Libya Campaign,” which appears in the Summer 2013 issue of Interna- tional Security.


Many commentators have praised NATO’s 2011 intervention in Libya as a humanitarian success for averting a bloodbath in that country’s second largest city, Benghazi, and helping eliminate the dictatorial regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi. These proponents accordingly claim that the intervention demonstrates how to successfully implement a humanitarian principle known as the responsibility to protect (R2P). Indeed, the top U.S. representatives to the transatlantic alliance declared that “NATO’s operation in Libya has rightly been hailed as a model intervention.” A more rigorous assessment, however, reveals that NATO’s intervention backfired: it increased the duration of Libya’s civil war by about six times and its death toll by at least seven times, while also exacerbating human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and weapons proliferation in Libya and its neighbors. If this is a “model intervention,” then it is a model of failure.


The conventional account of Libya’s conflict and NATO’s intervention is misleading in several key aspects. First, contrary to Western media reports, Qaddafi did not initiate Libya’s violence by targeting peaceful protesters. The United Nations and Amnesty International have documented that in all four Libyan cities initially consumed by civil conflict in mid-February 2011—Benghazi, Al Bayda, Tripoli, and Misurata—violence was actually initiated by the protesters. The government responded to the rebels militarily but never intentionally targeted civilians or resorted to “indiscriminate” force, as Western media claimed. Early press accounts exaggerated the death toll by a factor of ten, citing “more than 2,000 deaths” in Benghazi during the initial days of the

September 2013

uprising, whereas Human Rights Watch (HRW) later documented only 233 deaths across all of Libya in that period.

Further evidence that Qaddafi avoided targeting civilians comes from the Libyan city that was most consumed by the early fighting, Misurata. HRW reports that of the 949 people wounded there in the rebellion’s initial seven weeks, only 30 were women or children, meaning that Qaddafi’s forces focused narrowly on combatants. During that same period, only 257 people were killed among the city’s population of 400,000—a fraction less than 0.0006—providing additional proof that the government avoided using force indiscriminately. Moreover, Qaddafi did not perpetrate a “bloodbath” in any of the cities that his forces recaptured from rebels prior to NATO inter- vention—including Ajdabiya, Bani Walid, Brega, Ras Lanuf, Zawiya, and much of Misurata—so there was virtually no risk of such an outcome if he had been permitted to recapture the last rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

The conventional wisdom is also wrong in asserting that NATO’s main goal in Libya was to protect civilians. Evidence reveals that NATO’s primary aim was to overthrow Qaddafi’s regime, even at the expense of increasing the harm to Libyans. NATO attacked Libyan forces indiscriminately, including some in retreat and others in Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, where they posed no threat to civilians. Moreover, NATO continued to aid the rebels even when they repeatedly rejected government cease-fire offers that could have ended the violence and spared civilians. Such military assistance included weapons, training, and covert deployment of hundreds of troops from Qatar, eventually enabling the rebels to capture and summarily execute Qaddafi and seize power in October 2011.


The biggest misconception about NATO’s intervention is that it saved lives and benefited Libya and its neighbors. In reality, when NATO intervened in mid- March 2011, Qaddafi already had regained control of most of Libya, while the rebels were retreating rapidly toward Egypt. Thus, the conflict was about to end, barely six weeks after it started, at a toll of about 1,000 dead, including soldiers, rebels, and civilians caught in the crossfire. By intervening, NATO enabled the rebels to resume their attack, which prolonged the war for another seven months and caused at least 7,000 more deaths.

The best development in postwar Libya was the democratic election of July 2012, which brought to office a moderate, secular coalition government—a stark change from Qaddafi’s four-decade dictator- ship. Other developments, however, have been less encouraging. The victorious rebels perpetrated scores of reprisal killings and expelled 30,000 mostly black residents of Tawerga on grounds that some had been “mercenaries” for Qaddafi. HRW reported in 2012 that such abuses “appear to be so widespread and systematic that they may amount to crimes against humanity.” Ironically, such racial or ethnic violence had never occurred in Qaddafi’s Libya.

Radical Islamist groups, suppressed under Qaddafi, emerged as the fiercest rebels during the war and refused to disarm or submit to government authority afterward. Their persistent threat was highlighted by the September 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his colleagues. Even more recently, in April 2013, a vehicle bomb destroyed half of the French em- bassy in the capital, Tripoli. In light of such insecurity, it is understandable that most Libyans responding to a postwar poll expressed nostalgia for a strong leader such as Qaddafi.

Among neighboring countries, Mali, which previously had been the region’s exceptional example of peace and democracy, has suffered the worst consequences from the intervention. After Qaddafi’s defeat, his ethnic Tuareg soldiers of Malian descent fled home and launched a rebellion in their country’s north, prompting the Malian army to overthrow the president. The rebellion soon was hijacked by local Islamist forces and al-Qaida, which together imposed

For more from International Security, please visit

September 2013

sharia and declared the vast north an independent country. By December 2012, the northern half of Mali had become “the largest territory controlled by Islamic extremists in the world,” according to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Africa. This chaos also spurred massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of Malian civilians, which Amnesty International characterized as “Mali’s worst human rights situation in 50 years.”

Sophisticated weapons from Qaddafi’s arsenal—including up to 15,000 man-portable, surface-to-air missiles unaccounted for as of 2012—leaked to radical Islamists throughout the region. NATO’s intervention on behalf of Libya’s rebels also encouraged Syria’s formerly peaceful protesters to switch to violence in mid-2011, in hopes of attracting a similar intervention. The resulting escalation in Syria magnified that country’s killing rate by tenfold.


NATO’s intervention in Libya offers at least three im- portant lessons for implementing the responsibility to protect. First, potential interveners should beware both misinformation and rebel propaganda. If Western countries had accurately perceived Libya’s initial civil conflict—as Qaddafi using discriminate force against violent tribal, regional, and radical Islamist rebels—NATO would have been much less likely to launch its counterproductive intervention.

The second lesson is that humanitarian intervention can backfire by escalating rebellion. This is because some substate groups believe that by violently provoking state retaliation, they can attract such intervention


to help achieve their political objectives, including regime change. The resulting escalation, however, magnifies the threat to noncombatants before any potential intervention can protect them. Thus, the prospect of humanitarian intervention, which is intended to protect civilians, may instead imperil them via a moral hazard dynamic. To mitigate this pathology, it is essential to avoid intervening on humanitarian grounds in ways that reward rebels, unless the state is targeting noncombatants.

A final lesson is that intervention initially motivated by the desire to protect civilians is prone to expanding its objective to include regime change, even if doing so magnifies the danger to civilians, contrary to the interveners’ original intent. That is partly because intervening states, when justifying their use of force to domestic and international audiences, demonize the regime of the country they are targeting. This demonization later inhibits the interveners from considering a negotiated settlement that would permit the regime or its leaders to retain some power, which typically would be the quickest way to end the violence and protect noncombatants. Such lessons from NATO’s use of force in Libya suggest the need for considerable caution and a comprehensive exploration of alternatives when contemplating if and how to conduct humanitarian military intervention.


Statements and views expressed in this policy brief are solely those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Harvard University, the Harvard Kennedy School, or the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Crawford, Timothy W., and Alan J. Kuperman, eds. Gambling on Humanitarian Intervention: Moral Hazard, Rebellion, and Civil War (New York: Routledge, 2006).

Kuperman, Alan J. “The Moral Hazard of Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from the Balkans,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 1 (March 2008), pp. 49–80.

Roberts, Hugh. “Who Said Gaddafi Had to Go?” London Review of Books, Vol. 33, No. 22 (November 2011), pp. 8–18.

UN Human Rights Council, nineteenth session, “Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya,” A/HRC/19/68, ad- vance unedited version, March 2, 2012.

For more from International Security, please visit

September 2013


The Belfer Center is the hub of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research, teaching, and training in international security affairs, environmental and resource issues, and science and technology policy.

The Center has a dual mission: (1) to provide leadership in advancing policy-relevant knowledge about the most important challenges of international security and other critical issues where science, technology, environmental policy, and international affairs intersect; and (2) to prepare future generations of leaders for these arenas. Center researchers not only conduct scholarly research, but also develop prescriptions for policy reform. Faculty and fellows analyze global challenges from nuclear proliferation and terrorism to climate change and energy policy.


Alan J. Kuperman is Associate Professor of Public Affairs in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. During 2013–14, he will be a Jennings Randolph Senior Fel- low at the U.S. Institute of Peace, in Washington, D.C.

ABOUT international security

International Security is America’s leading peer- reviewed journal of security affairs. It provides sophisticated analyses of contemporary, theoretical, and historical security issues. International Security is edited at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and is published by The MIT Press.

For more information about this publication, please contact the International Security editorial assistant at 617-495-1914.

“As The Officer Commanding The Derry Part Of The IRA…?” – That Tom Mangold Interview With Martin McGuinness Now On YouTube

Many thanks to “Wicklow” for this tip that the famous Tom Mangold interview with a young Martin McGuinness is now on YouTube, the one which begins with the celebrated question: “As the officer commanding the Derry part of the IRA Provisionals….?

It was, allegedly, the threat that this interview would be used against him that persuaded him both to give evidence to the Saville Tribunal confirming his IRA membership at the time of Bloody Sunday and to refine the description of his IRA career so that he supposedly left the organisation back in 1974.

Up until then the report in the London Independent below was how he normally dealt with the matter, which more or less accorded with the traditional stance of IRA members when confronted by the membership question, i.e. a non-denial denial. Given his conviction in a Dublin court for IRA offences and his courtroom boast of his pride at being an IRA activist he could hardly do anything else. Unencumbered by such baggage, Gerry Adams is on the other hand able to issue flat denials of IRA associations.

Wearing a moustache, Martin McGuinness in Garda custody prior to one of his court appearances in Dublin

Wearing a moustache, Martin McGuinness in Garda custody prior to one of his court appearances in Dublin

The report, which was published in August 1993, appeared after a screening of the Cook Report on ITV which claimed that he was “the man in charge of the IRA”. McGuinness’ assertion that he was not the Chief of Staff was actually correct. Tom ‘Slab’ Murphy held that job. But his claim that he was not a member of the IRA was untrue. He was Northern Commander in 1993, or just had been, and since the IRA’s war was fought largely in the North one could argue that he was a very important member of the IRA at least, if not the man actually in charge. Here is the relevant part of The Independent report:

Mr McGuinness did not appear on the programme, but yesterday gave a series of interviews in which he denied its claims. He told a BBC interviewer that as a young man he ‘took up a particular stance which I’m not prepared to elaborate on in this programme’.

Asked if he had ever been a member of the IRA, he replied: ‘I’m not stating any opinion at all about what I was in the past. What I’m saying is I’m not a member of the IRA. I’m not chief of staff of the IRA and I’m not Britain’s number one terrorist.’

After his appearance at the Saville Tribunal, McGuinness’ narrative was polished so that while he was not denying IRA membership in the early 1970’s, he insisted he had left the organisation in 1974 or thereabouts. For reasons that defy understanding his half-lie is paraded by some in the media as evidence of his ethical superiority to Gerry Adams when in fact it is qualitatively no different and arguably is worse.

Anyway here is the YouTube video. The Mangold part is about half way through and starts at 4 minutes 30 seconds. Enjoy:

Obama’s Syrian War: Oh What Tangled Webs We Weave When First We Practise To Deceive!

This just in on the Politico website. A cracker. O’Bagy’s resignation should be followed by Kerry’s:

The Syria researcher whose Wall Street Journal op-ed piece was cited by Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain during congressional hearings about the use of force has been fired from the Institute for the Study of War for lying about having a Ph.D., the group announced on Wednesday.

“The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O’Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University,” the institute said in a statement. “ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O’Bagy’s employment, effective immediately.”

O’Bagy told POLITICO in an interview Monday that she had submitted and defended her dissertation and was waiting for Georgetown University to confer her degree. O’Bagy said she was in a dual master’s and doctorate program at Georgetown.

Elizabeth O'Bagy - discredited neocon bites the dust

Elizabeth O’Bagy – discredited neocon bites the dust

Kimberly Kagan, who founded the ISW in 2007, said in an interview that while she was “deeply saddened” by the situation, she stands by O’Bagy’s work on Syria.

”Everything I’ve looked at is rock solid,” Kagan told POLITICO. “Every thread that we have pulled upon has been verified through multiple sources.”

Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, told POLITICO in a statement that “we were not aware of Elizabeth O’Bagy’s academic claims or credentials when we published her Aug. 31 op-ed, and the op-ed made no reference to them.”

“We also were not aware of her affiliation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, and we published a clarification when we learned of it,” Gigot said. “We are investigating the contents of her op-ed to the best of our ability, but to date we have seen no evidence to suggest any information in the piece was false.”

O’Bagy started at the institute as an unpaid intern and was pulled into their work on Syria when a researcher needed a fluent Arabic speaker, which transformed her internship into a much longer gig. Kagan hired O’Bagy as an analyst around August or September 2012, and said her understanding was that O’Bagy was working toward her Ph.D. at Georgetown.

Kagan originally gave May of this year as a rough estimate of when O’Bagy’s biography on the ISW site was updated to state she had obtained her Ph.D. But the internet archive the Wayback Machine captured a version of O’Bagy’s biography page that listed her as in a joint Master’s/Ph.D. program as of June 23. Another organization O’Bagy was affiliated with, the Syrian Emergency Task Force, listed her as Dr. O’Bagy on May 13, however.

When asked further about the timing of O’Bagy’s academic claim, Kagan told POLITICO that O’Bagy “misrepresented to me in May that she had successfully defended her dissertation.” Kagan said she then started to call her Dr. O’Bagy, but that the website change only came later this summer when ISW did a broad staff update.

“I began calling her Dr. O’Bagy at that time in internal official communications,” she said. “ISW updates staff bios in intervals. We had a batch of staff changes in June and July, and I expect that we changed it around that time. ISW therefore presented Elizabeth as Dr. O’Bagy on the website quite a bit later than in our internal documents. I have confidence that the public change transpired in accordance with records at internet archival sites.”

Georgetown University’s office of communications, meanwhile, said in a statement that “Georgetown University confirms that Elizabeth O’Bagy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2009 and a Master of Arts degree in 2013. At this time she is not a registered student.”

According to Kagan, O’Bagy in May led her to believe she had successfully defended her dissertation when she had actually failed her defense.

O’Bagy’s op-ed piece for the Journal, “On the Front Lines of Syria’s Civil War,” was cited by both Kerry and McCain last week. McCain read from the piece last Tuesday to Kerry, calling it “an important op-ed by Dr. Elizabeth O’Bagy.” The next day, Kerry also brought up the piece before a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing and described it as a “very interesting article” and recommended that members read it.

But the piece had also come under fire for misrepresenting her affiliations. Originally the op-ed only listed O’Bagy, 26, as only “a senior analyst” at the ISW, later adding a clarification that disclosed her connection to a Syrian rebel advocacy group.

“In addition to her role at the Institute for the Study of War, Ms. O’Bagy is affiliated with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a nonprofit operating as a 501(c)(3) pending IRS approval that subcontracts with the U.S. and British governments to provide aid to the Syrian opposition,” the WSJ added in its clarification.

O’Bagy wrote on Twitter after the uproar that “I have never tried to hide that Ive worked closely with opposition & rebel commanders. Thats what allows me to travel more safely in Syria,” adding that “I’m not trying to trick America here. I’m just trying to show a different side to the conflict that few people have the chance to see.”

O’Bagy, who has traveled widely with rebel forces in Syria, had been a senior research analyst with ISW. Her biography on the site before she was fired, according to a Google cache from Sept. 4, stated that “Dr. Elizabeth O’Bagy is a Senior Research Analyst and the Syria Team Lead at the Institute for the Study of War, where she focuses on Syrian politics and security. Her major reports on the Syrian opposition include: The Free Syrian Army, Jihad in Syria, and Syria’s Political Opposition.” Her online bio was also updated last Friday in response to the online furor — spurred in part by a report in The Daily Caller about her affiliation with the SETF — over the WSJ piece to read: “I work with the Syrian Emergency Task Force in an advisory capacity on a number of humanitarian aid and governance building contracts.”

And in the press release announcing she joined the Syrian Emergency Task Force on May 13, the group called her “Dr. Elizabeth O’Bagy” and said she “recently gained a Master’s in Arab Studies from Georgetown University. Prior to ISW, she received a Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Tangier Morocco and studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo.”

Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies lists O’Bagy as one of the 20 graduates from this year’s Master of Arts in Arab Studies program.

On Monday, O’Bagy responded to critics of her work on Syria.

“I’m not a warmonger,” she told POLITICO. “I’m not advocating the United Staets start a war or get in the middle of one. At heart, I’m just a researcher. I love being in the field. I love doing the interviews and collecting the data.”

Help Kickstart World War III!

Thanks to one of my favourite websites, Naked Capitalism for this:

Chucky Ar Troll!

I post these two stories without comment, since comment seems unnecessary. The first is from the Irish edition of the Daily Mirror, dated Saturday, September 7th, 2013. The second is from the same day’s Irish Examiner. Good luck with your new career in Sinn Fein, Chris (p.s. someone suggested a better headline for this piece so I have altered it; apologies to Irish language purists).


Irish Daily Mirror:

Chris Andrews says he has joined Sinn Fein to make the changes Ireland needs

7 Sep 2013 17:24

He claims Fianna Fail no longer represents the ideals of its founders

Former Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews has said his decision to join Sinn Fein was based on the party’s commitment to pursue the changes that Ireland needs.

The national executive earlier accepted his application to join its ranks just a year after he left the party his grandfather founded.

Mr Andrews said going to a new party was not an easy decision as his family has been involved in Fianna Fail since its foundations.

“But it has become very clear to me that the party no longer represented the ideals or values of its founders, including my grandfather,” he said.

“I left Fianna Fail in 2012 following a long period of disillusionment at how distant the party had become from ordinary people suffering the brunt of social and economic problems.

“I have joined Sinn Fein because I firmly believe that it is genuinely committed to pursuing the political, social and economic change that Ireland now requires.

“My decision has been influenced by my first-hand experience of Sinn Fein’s work at community level, its role in the Peace Process, its strong commitment to a united Ireland and its track record on international solidarity.

“As someone who is advocating change I must be willing to change personally and politically.”

Mr Andrews, who served as a TD for Dublin South-East, is hoping to run in the next local elections in the Ringsend area.

He said the problems that Ireland faces require a major political and economic change.

“I do not believe that such change can be delivered through Fianna Fail, Fine Gael or Labour,” he added.

“Nor can it be delivered by ‘Independents’.”

Mr Andrews is the nephew of David Andrews, a former Fianna Fail minister who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement, and his grandfather Todd Andrews helped found Fianna Fail.

He resigned from Fianna Fail last year following a social media controversy and clash with party leader Micheal Martin.

It emerged the 49-year-old set up a phoney Twitter account which he used to criticise Mr Martin and other figures within the party.

He was discovered after Eddy Carroll, husband of senior party figure Kathryn Byrne, used video and photo surveillance to catch him in the act.

Sinn Fein party whip Aengus O Snodaigh said he was pleased to welcome Mr Andrews into the party.

“Both Chris and I have worked on campaigns together and indeed were shipmates on the 2008 and 2011 freedom flotillas to Gaza,” he added.

“I have known Chris for a long time and regard him a person genuinely committed to building a better country for all our citizens.”

Irish Examiner:

Andrews in fresh SF tweets controversy

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews has been left red-faced just hours before he applies to join Sinn Féin after a series of tweets emerged in which he accused the party of being corrupt, referred to the IRA murder of Jean McConville, the Northern Bank raid and “the number of people Sinn Féin reps have killed over the years”.

Using a phoney Twitter account he also insinuated that Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA — an accusation widely believed but always denied by the SF leader.

Later today Sinn Féin’s national executive is expected to consider an application from the son of the late Fianna Fáil MEP Niall Andrews to join the party with a view to running in next summer’s local elections in Dublin.

However, it has emerged that Chris Andrews, 49, made a series of highly critical tweets of Sinn Féin in March and April of 2012 from the same phoney Twitter account @brianformerff which he used to criticise Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and other figures within the party.

On that occasion he was uncovered after the husband of a senior FF party figure used video and photo surveillance to catch him in the act. He admitted the tweets were his and resigned from the party before a disciplinary process was begun.

In this latest embarrassment he engaged with other Twitter account users saying “… given what SF has done to innocent people it’s a bit much listening to you pontificate”.

He mocks one Twitter user for “believing everything Mahon report says but doesn’t belive (sic) that Gerry Adams was in the IRA!”.

Referring to the brutal 1972 murder of Belfast mother of 10 Jean McConville who was abducted from her Belfast home, shot in the back of the head, and her body buried in a Co Louth beach, he tweeted, “Was it not corrupt to bury mother of 10 Jean Mc Conville. Is that acceptable to you. Selective outrage I thinks.”

Other tweets referred to “workers on their way to bank raids” and “so Ira never done bank robberies”. In 2004, £26.5m was robbed from the Northern Bank in Belfast. Both the British and Irish governments blamed the IRA for carrying out one of the biggest bank raids in UK history. Sinn Féin has denied the IRA was responsible.

Last year, Andrews was unmasked as the person behind the anonymous @brianformerff account which posted over 300 tweets, many highly derogatory of Micheál Martin and other senior FF party figures.

Days after being exposed in Aug 2012 Mr Andrews said: “I take full responsibility for it. It was the wrong thing to do. I regret doing it. For someone who is generally outspoken and not afraid to speak out, I regret that I did not say things publicly six months ago.”

Mr Andrews is a grandson of one of Fianna Fáil’s founders Todd Andrews and a nephew of David Andrews, a former Fianna Fáil minister who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement.

Yesterday, Mr Adams would not be drawn on whether he believed Mr Andrews would be a suitable SF candidate.

Chris Andrews was not available for comment.

Fianna Fáil also refused to comment.

Goodbye Dave Cox And Good Riddance!

I was delighted to hear that the former head of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), former Scotland Yard detective Dave Cox has been forced to take early retirement in the wake of a damning report by the British Inspectorate of Constabulary which found that the HET, under his direction, had treated killings carried out by state forces with less rigour and scrupulousness than paramilitary cases.

The HET, set up in 2005 as part of the peace deal, was supposed to investigate all 3,300 killings between 1968 and 1998. Cox’s sacking is an official admission it failed in this task.

Dave Cox - boss of the Historical Enquiries Team. Forced to resign after security force bias exposed in his investigations.

Dave Cox – boss of the Historical Enquiries Team. Forced to resign after security force bias exposed in his investigations.

This conclusion will have come as no surprise to readers of who learned of the HET’s bias and disregard for ordinary victims of violence from two pieces we published back in January 2012 dealing with the case of Patrick McCullough, a 17-year old Catholic who was gunned down by Loyalists near his North Belfast home in 1972. You can read them here and here.

His case was highlighted by his brother, Catholic priest Joseph McCullough who wrote to The Irish Times about officialdom’s uncaring attitude towards Patrick’s death. No serious attempt had been made by the police, Fr Joe said, to discover who pulled the trigger and the HET’s attitude he described as “abysmal”. The police ineptitude or worse was in stark contrast to the efforts of Irish News reporter Sharon O’Neill who able to discover not only that the UVF had killed Patrick McCullough but to put names to the killers who, she wrote, were well known in the area as the culprits.

Only when his letter was published and the HET shamed in public did officers from the unit contact him. Fr Joe was also interviewed by  and he told of how after his brother was killed in a drive-by shooting on the Antrim Road, the police – in those days the RUC – never came near the home to explain what happened or to update the family on the investigation.

But the home was visited by the British Army who invaded the street in which the McCullough’s lived. They were ostensibly searching the area for weapons but the only house they raided was the McCullough’s, a respectable, peaceable family with no history of republican activity. Fr Joe suspected they were going to plant  weapons in the house to discredit the family and thereby justify the Loyalist killing and would have had the local parish priest not intervened.

All these circumstances strengthened the suspicion that perhaps Patrick McCullough’s killers and the security forces were colluding together. To add insult to injury the RUC then lost all the paperwork on the case and so Patrick McCullough’s sad death was forgotten. I wrote about the case because of the contrast with all the energy officialdom has recently invested in investigating the Jean McConville case where the IRA was the culprit.

The pro-security bias of the HET lies behind the scandalous treatment of the McCullough family and evidence for it can be found in the HET’s official video which is still available on YouTube. This is what I wrote in January, 2011:

The film features four victims, the son of a Catholic shot dead by the UDA; the sister of a British soldier shot dead, presumably by the IRA; the husband of a victim of the IRA’s Shankill Road Fish Shop bomb and the brother of two Catholic men killed by the UVF.

And what’s missing? Well any relatives of people killed by the police or army, that’s who’s missing. Seemingly they don’t rate a mention on the HET video and that is not insignificant surely? It means they don’t really appear on the HET radar and in such a way are almost airbrushed out of existence. The video provides a subliminal and fascinating peek into the HET’s consciousness.

That’s not to say that in the video the HET’s commander Dave Cox does not at all address the issue of security force collusion in killings. He does, but look at how he deals with it: “(Victims ask) Could his death have been avoided, was there collusion? Most times we are able to actually answer and dispel those worries.”

In other words: “Our work is about nailing all those terrible terrorists and setting minds to rest about the role of the RUC and army.” It’s an approach that dovetails exactly with the state narrative of the Troubles, with the state and its forces on the good side and everyone else on the bad side. Problem is, it wasn’t ever as simple as that.

Here’s the video and Dave Cox’s appearances start at 1 minutes 7 seconds:

And confirmation of this bias was there in the Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report published this July, which detailed all the various ways in which security force killings were treated more leniently than others by the HET (e.g. soldiers who pulled triggers were never interviewed under caution, meaning it would be so much harder to charge them if evidence emerged during questioning of a crime. If they claimed to be sick they could avoid being interviewed, and so on. None of this magnanimity was shown to non-security force suspects).

The pro-Army/Police bias was so intense that it was codified into the rules governing the HET’s investigations. Add to that the fact that the HET’s intelligence branch was stuffed full with former RUC Special Branch officers and the result is all too predictable.

Here is what the HET Operational Guide states:

“HET maintains it is not appropriate to compare the review processes in military cases with reviews of murders committed by terrorists. Soldiers were deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland in an official and lawful capacity, bound by the laws of the UK and military Standard Operating Procedures of that time.” (HMIC report, pp 74-75)

So, there you have it. The official body charged with investigating Northern Ireland’s troubled and violent past is set up on the basis that killings carried out by soldiers were probably lawful whereas those committed by groups like the IRA were crimes. So no need to investigate security force slayings with any enthusiasm or vigour.

It is not possible to deal with this subject without making two comments. One is that the approach of officers like Dave Cox and his colleagues in the HET are confirmation that for many in the British security apparatus the war against the IRA goes on. In theory the peace process was supposed to signal a score draw in the battle between the British state and republicanism; in practice ‘la lotta continua’ in the British mindset. The IRA has stopped shooting soldiers and policemen and stopped planting bombs; but the British are still trying to put republicans in jail.

The other obvious comment is that all this happened on Sinn Fein’s watch but the party charged with overseeing Nationalism’s interests in the peace deal did nothing to stop it, not even to issue warnings about the HET’s all too obvious bias. The HET’s faults were exposed by a Belfast academic, Dr Patricia Lundy, not by a Sinn Fein minister or Assembly member (nor any SDLP ones either) and it took seven years to get rid of the man responsible for them. What, one may ask, is the point of being in government if such things are allowed to happen under your nose and you do nothing about them?

Anyway Dave Cox will soon be taking the Liverpool ferry back home. It will be good to see the back of him.

Syria: Toxic Levels Of Hypocrisy Discovered In Damascus Restaurant

Congratulations to the London Independent and reporter Heather Saul for digging up this photo of US Secretary of State, John Kerry and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad dining with their respective wives, Teresa Heinz-Kerry and Asma al-Assad at a Damascus restaurant. This apparently happened in February 2009.


As Kerry beats the war drums for President Obama on the eve of a Congressional vote aimed at giving US forces a virtual military carte blanche for operations in Syria, he is not likely to welcome being reminded of this cordial get together with, as The Independent reminds us, someone Kerry now calls “a thug” and whom he has compared to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Kerry was visiting Syria in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and according to other British newspaper reports he met Assad around six times.

The Independent report continues:

During the visit, he said in a press conference: “President Barack Obama’s administration considers Syria a key player in Washington’s efforts to revive the stalled Middle East peace process.

”Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region”.

Pass the zinc bucket please!