By Donn Marten
The latest attack in the week-long rampage by right-wing fanatics to politicize the Obama trade with the Taliban for prisoner-of-war Bowe Bergdahl predictably has been launched by Fox News, which is portraying the soldier as a secret jihadist and a terrorist. One has to love the way that Fox and friends truly support the troops and were Sgt. Bergdahl's release to have been secured by Senators McCain and Graham the patriotic hogwash would have been as overwhelming as the smearing of Obama for his failure to do so. This latest slime job comes with an interesting twist though in that the information was provided by another of those Iran-Contra figures that keep turning up like the proverbial bad penny. The Fox scoop - entitled "EXCLUSIVE: Bergdahl declared jihad in captivity, secret documents show" - paints the American serviceman as a sort of a sinister Muslim Manchurian candidate, which meshes nicely with the now six-years-running narrative that President Barack Obama himself is running the secret operational headquarters of the new Islamic caliphate out of the White House basement and is further evidence of just how Republicans and conservatives are the most gullible (and stupid) species in America these days.
I have always loved the politically correct term for abject morons being "low information voters" but the opening line to this extravaganza is truly one for the ages:
U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at one point during his captivity converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a "mujahid," or warrior for Islam, according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account and obtained by Fox News.
The reports indicate that Bergdahl's relations with his Haqqani captors morphed over time, from periods of hostility, where he was treated very much like a hostage, to periods where, as one source told Fox News, "he became much more of an accepted fellow" than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times.
One really does not have to bother reading any further than "according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account and obtained by Fox News" to immediately identify this story as total bullshit of the most malodorous nature. To any legitimate news outlet this sort of tale could end careers but it particularly appeals to the angry and aging demographic that Fox targets despite the fact that they continue to drop like flies with each election cycle. But it gets even better as I excerpt again from the Fox "EXCLUSIVE":
The reports are rich in on-the-ground detail -- including the names and locations of the Haqqani commanders who ran the 200-man rotation used to guard the Idaho native -- and present the most detailed view yet of what Bergdahl's life over the past five years has been like. These real-time dispatches were generated by the Eclipse Group, a shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives that has subcontracted with the Defense Department and prominent corporations to deliver granular intelligence on terrorist activities and other security-related topics, often from challenging environments in far-flung corners of the globe.
The group is run by Duane R. ("Dewey") Clarridge, a former senior operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1980s best known for having been indicted for lying to Congress about his role in the tangled set of events that became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. He was pardoned by the first President Bush in December 1992 while on trial.
Let's see now, a "shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives" named 'The Eclipse Group' headed by yet another one of these former insiders parlaying their connections into fleecing the American taxpayer by providing total horseshit that justifies more of the same insider crony looting of the system. This is the way that is it with wars in that they attract legions of grifters and flim-flam artists as so many maggots feasting on a decaying dog carcass. Duane Clairridge in particular is a legendary nut case, who during the Reagan administration's murderous incursions into Central America was the man who was put in charge of the show by former CIA director William Casey (who conveniently was rendered incapable of speech by a brain tumor a mere hours before he was to have testified to Congress on Iran-Contra and subsequently died) and who as is summed up in Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick's "The Untold History of the United States" as follows: "He installed Duane Clarridge to head the Latin American division. Clarridge was the perfect foil. He knew nothing about Latin America, having never worked in the region, and spoke no Spanish."
Which of course makes him the perfect sort of authority to be trotted out on Fox News despite his being indicted for perjury along with several of his fellow felons - including the ubiquitous neocon manipulator Elliott Abrams - by President George HW Bush on Christmas Eve in 1992. Dewey Clarridge is a natural hero for Fox viewers as his classic hostile interview with Australian journalist John Pilger makes evident. Hey, the man was instrumental in the war crime of themining of Nicaraguan harbors - a violation of international law and as damned unapologeticabout it as Ollie North was in narcotics and weapons trafficking to support the murderers that Reagan himself once lovingly referred to as "the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers".
As for Clarridge's private intelligence operation "The Eclipse Group" is described in a 2011 New York Times story entitled "Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A.":
Duane R. Clarridge parted company with the Central Intelligence Agency more than two decades ago, but from poolside at his home near San Diego, he still runs a network of spies.
Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul's ruling class.
Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine's "Spy vs. Spy," Mr. Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the C.I.A. payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in hopes of collecting beard trimmings or other DNA samples that might prove Mr. Clarridge's suspicions that the Afghan leader was a heroin addict, associates say.
Mr. Clarridge, 78, who was indicted on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal and later pardoned, is described by those who have worked with him as driven by the conviction that Washington is bloated with bureaucrats and lawyers who impede American troops in fighting adversaries and that leaders are overly reliant on mercurial allies.
His dispatches -- an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports -- have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-Contra days and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of military thrillers and a frequent guest of Glenn Beck.
During his time in Tampa as commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine Gen. James Mattis said he saw no evidence to confirm that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, released in a prisoner swap last week, collaborated with his captors."I have never seen one bit of verified or confirmed evidence of that," Mattis said in a phone interview with The Tampa Tribune. "Not one bit. You hear things and it was second- and third-hand."Other information "specifically discounted" reports that Bergdahl, captured by the Taliban in June 2009 after leaving his outpost in Afghanistan, was working with his captors, he said. Mattis declined to comment on what that information was because it remains classified.Mattis led the MacDill Air Force Base-headquartered command from August 2010 to March 2013, when he retired after a storied career. Mattis was asked to comment on a report by Fox News that a group run by Duane R. "Dewey" Clarridge, a former senior operations officer for the CIA, provided situation reports to Centcom showing Bergdahl was working with his captors at points during his five years as a prisoner. Clarridge, who gained notoriety in the 1980s after being indicted for lying to Congress about his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, was a civilian contractor at the time.
In the Fox News story, Mattis made similar comments discounting the notion that, according to Fox, "Bergdahl had evolved into an active collaborator with the Haqqani network or the Taliban."
The Fox News story says information about Bergdahl converting to Islam, fraternizing openly with his captors and declaring himself a "mujahid," or warrior for Islam, came from a source new to Clarridge's Eclipse Group "whose trustworthiness had not been fully vetted by the group. However," the report stated, the informant "does have plausible access to the information reported."
The Pentagon "is not aware of any contract, subcontract or otherwise" between SOLIC and the Eclipse Group, Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost, Defense Department spokeswoman, said late Friday afternoon. Clarridge declined comment. Public affairs staff for Ashley, since promoted to major general and now serving as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence & Fort Huachuca, did not respond to a call for comment from the Tribune. Officials from Centcom did not respond to requests for comment and officials from Fox News did not immediately respond to a call and email late Friday afternoon.Mattis, who took command of Centcom a little more than a year after Bergdahl's disappearance, told the Tribune that Clarridge's reports "were simply one bit of information coming in. You do your normal due diligence. We found nothing to support it."