01:16 GMT +3 hours25 July 2016
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Group of Former US Intel Officials Urge Merkel to Reject Politicized Intelligence

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A group of former U.S. Intelligence officials including William Binny, the first whistleblower to report on the NSA’s mass surveillance, has sent an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, warning her of the risks of Ukrainian NATO membership and of the dangers of faulty intelligence resulting in an escalation of the conflict, as published on the website Antiwar.org

A group of former U.S. Intelligence officials including William Binny, the first whistleblower to report on the NSA’s mass surveillance, has sent an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, warning her of the risks of Ukrainian NATO membership and of the dangers of faulty intelligence resulting in an escalation of the conflict, as published on the website Antiwar.org

Addressing Mrs. Merkel, the letter states that “accusations of a major Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence…[and] the ‘intelligence’ seems to be of the same dubious, politically ‘fixed’ kind used 12 years ago to ‘justify’ the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.” It also notes that last year, “hawkish State Department officials and their friends in the media very nearly got Mr. Obama to launch a major attack on Syria based, once again, on ‘intelligence’ that was dubious, at best.”

This statement, released by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), has been  published ahead of the NATO Summit to take place September 4-5. The most prominent member of the group, William Binney, is a former high ranking NSA official and  the first whistleblower to come out and speak out against the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program.

He and the group use the letter to draw comparisons between the lead up to the 2003 Iraq war and the current escalation happening right now in Ukraine. The main point that they make is that the intelligence being used now to justify NATO intervention into Ukraine is unsubstantiated and politicized. They say based on their “considerable experience collecting, analyzing, and reporting on all kinds of satellite and other imagery [and] other kinds of intelligence” that the evidence being used to charge Russia with invading Ukraine has “a very flimsy basis.” They further note that the evidence is reminiscent of that presented by Colin Powell at the UN in February 2003 ahead of the Iraq War, which turned out to be false. They add further that twelve years ago, then Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder refused to join the attack on Iraq because of the lack of solid evidence.

In the several months since the conflict in Ukraine started, there have been many reports about both sides which have turned out to be false. In their letter, the group points to cases  of dissonance between President Barack Obama’s  words and their own officials’ rhetoric. The Western media and many leaders have recently jumped on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s claim of a Russian invasion into Ukraine.  Poroshenko even cancelled a foreign trip to stay and address the situation. Since then, many media outlets reported a massive invasion by the Russians, both with troops and armored vehicles. Obama on the other hand, has instead said that what is going on in Ukraine is “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now…it’s not really a shift.”

Noting this dissonance, the group urges Mrs. Merkel and other European leaders to use “judicious skepticism” in their discussions of the crisis.

They also urge Chancellor Merkel and her colleagues to push for a “concerted effort [toward] a ceasefire,” which they believe Kiev has been responsible for delaying. The letter urges the Chancellor to tell the Ukrainian government “’flat-out’ that membership in NATO is not in the cards –and that NATO has no intention of waging a proxy war with Russia.”

The summit has been planned to take place on 4-5 September in Cardiff, Wales.

Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March 2014, NATO has been boosting its military presence close to Russia’s border. In particular, the bloc dispatched a number of warships to the Black Sea, and reinforced air patrolling missions in the airspace of the Baltic states.
In April, Washington sent four airborne units to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to support its NATO allies amid the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

NATO plans to establish five additional military bases in Eastern Europe, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Saturday.

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over NATO’s increasing military presence in its neighboring states.

The original of the letter can be found here.

Tags:
Angela Merkel, NATO, National Security Agency (NSA), Barack Obama, Petro Poroshenko, Colin Powell
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