They tipped off American intelligence, who then tipped off the Syrians. You can lay pretty much everything else at their feet though,
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At 3: 00 P.M. in Toronto, a truck driver named Ahmad El-Maati unlocked the door to his apartment , went inside, and greeted his mother. El-Maati looked exhausted; it had been a day of enormous strain. Early that morning, he had quit the long-haul trucking business, returning his rig’s keys to his employer, Highland Transport. He had enjoyed the work until a month before, when he was stopped at the American border and searched. On that day, he had been driving a loaner because his truck was in the shop, and the inspection turned up a few items that weren’t his, including a map. It was a black-and-white photocopy, only slightly better than hand-drawn, and it depicted Tunney’s Pasture, an area in Ottawa developed exclusively for federal government buildings. A few of the facilities were labeled with names like H& W VIRUS LABS, ELDORADO NUCLEAR LTD, and ATOMIC ENERGY OF CANADA. The agents had interrogated El-Maati extensively about the map, demanding to know why he was carrying it. He could only reply that the paper wasn’t his.
The border confrontation had left El-Maati jittery for weeks, despite the efforts of his supervisors at Highland to assure him of their support. The company had investigated and concluded that one of the truck’s previous drivers had picked up the map while on a delivery in Ottawa. Ann Armstrong, a manager at Highland, had given El-Maati a letter stating that he had reported the incident to his superiors and that he should be commended for his professionalism in dealing with the matter. But he still felt too frightened to keep crossing the border. Better, El-Maati decided, to give up transporting items thousands of miles and drive shorter—if less profitable— routes in Canada.
Then came the terrorist attack that morning in the United States. Shortly after he returned his keys, he saw the news of the second plane crash on a television in the drivers’ lounge. The sight had made El-Maati nauseated, and he wanted to vomit. His emotional turmoil continued all the way back home as he grappled with the images of death that he had just witnessed. Now, at his apartment, he was ready to sit down and take a moment to gather his thoughts.
Before he could, a knock came at the door. Odd, since no one had buzzed from downstairs to be allowed into the building. El-Maati answered. Two men in suits stood in the hallway. Both flipped open leather cases, showing their identification. They were with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service— CSIS. One of the men identified himself as Adrian White. “We need to speak with you,” he said.
Downstairs, El-Maati and the two agents crossed the street and sat on a bench. White explained that, given the attacks in the United States, CSIS was visiting people whose names had come up in the past— known as a “knock-and-talk” in the intelligence service. “We heard about the map and what happened at the border,” White said. “Tell us about the map.” The map! How could he get them to understand that he didn’t know anything about it? El-Maati brought out the letter written by Ann Armstrong. He always carried it in his shirt pocket for moments like this. The two agents read the letter, then gave it back. “Okay,” White said, “let’s talk about your background and about your travels.” El-Maati suggested that they continue the conversation at a coffee shop in a nearby plaza.
The three men walked there and sat at a table on a patio. The questions were boilerplate— where was El-Maati born , where had he gone to school, what had he studied. He answered for a while, but grew increasingly worried. “Look, I want to have a lawyer present to make sure nothing I’m saying gets misinterpreted,” he said. “So we can continue this same conversation any way you like and anywhere you like, but with a lawyer present so I can preserve my rights.” White looked annoyed. “We’re not a court here. You don’t need a lawyer.” El-Maati insisted. White mentioned that CSIS knew that he was trying to sponsor a woman he planned to marry so that she could move to Canada. The file for that type of request went through the intelligence service, which had to give its approval. Maybe, the agent suggested, that application might be stopped if he refused to cooperate.
“You know, Ahmad, we are mukhabarat,” White said. El-Maati recoiled backward as if he had been slapped in the face. In Arabic, mukhabarat generally referred to government units involved in gathering intelligence . Perhaps White was attempting to make clear that he was not part of a criminal prosecution. But, El-Maati feared, perhaps not— in the popular parlance of the Middle East , mukhabarat had come to mean something more sinister. It referred to the secret police departments in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria that imposed state controls over their citizens; the mukhabarat were renowned for snatching up people and making them disappear into prisons where they were tortured while under interrogation.
“You know how the mukhabarat here in Canada deals with its citizens,” White said. “We’re soft on our citizens. There are laws that control what we do. And you know how the mukhabarat deals with people back in the Middle East.” Hesitation. El-Maati believed they were telling him that if he didn’t speak now, he would have to deal with the mukhabarat in his home country of Egypt. “Are you threatening me?” he said. White held up his hands. “No, no. Absolutely not. We just want you to cooperate.”
Years would pass before El-Maati learned the truth about the map. It was a decade old. The sensitive buildings it depicted had not existed for years before El-Maati crossed the border. It had been drawn not by terrorists, but by the government of Canada, a visitors’ guide printed up by the hundreds.
Somewhere in the world, the Mounties felt sure, was evidence to prove their suspicions. And so they launched their dragnet by fax, asking counterparts worldwide to search their files for information. Responses were needed quickly, the fax said —both Almalki and El-Maati constituted “imminent threats” to Canada and were working with al-Qaeda.
Despite the certainty of their message, the Mounties didn’t know if any of what they had written was true. They hadn’t started investigating either man, and had obtained only skimpy records from CSIS. Other than the map, they had next to nothing on El-Maati. There was some information in the files about Almalki, purportedly provided by an outside source. But the records were wrong— the source had given evidence about someone else, not Almalki.
None of the recipients could know that the statements in the fax were fiction. Instead, the countries that received the document—including Syria, where both men were born— now listed these two Canadian citizens as dangerous terrorists.
The news reports about the Kuwaiti man with the map appeared on the Internet and were published in newspapers worldwide. A day later , a Middle Eastern intelligence service wrote a letter to CSIS, asking for more information as well as for the name of the man being investigated. The Canadian agency reported back, identifying El-Maati. The map he had been carrying, the response said, was about ten years old. But the Canadians didn’t think that made any difference. El-Maati, they were convinced, was part of an al-Qaeda sleeper cell.
A Middle Eastern country passed on the intelligence— another al-Qaeda hijacking was in the works, with at least one terrorist planning to divert a Canadian flight to strike a new, high-profile American target. The information reached CSIS on November 8, and this was something the intelligence services could act on. The country that had developed the intelligence knew the name of a hijacker: Amer El-Maati, the brother of Ahmad, the man with the map. Amer had long been suspected of being an al-Qaeda member, and the new intelligence said that he had already arrived in Canada to prepare for the hijacking. CSIS provided multiple agencies with the information, but there was no record of Amer having traveled there. The next morning, Canadian law enforcement dug up another frightening scrap of evidence. Ahmad El-Maati was planning to fly from Canada to Syria, supposedly for an impending wedding. Investigators considered that to be nothing more than a ruse— El-Maati, they feared, might instead be planning to fulfill his brother’s hijacking plan.
In the heart of downtown Damascus, blocks from the lush Sheraton Hotel, stands an unassuming group of three unattractive concrete buildings. There, behind thick concrete walls patrolled by heavily armed guards, reside the damned— prisoners held by Syrian military intelligence at Far’ Falastin, or the Palestine Branch.
This place would now be the home of Ahmad El-Maati, who had just been snatched from the Damascus Airport. After he arrived, El-Maati was hustled inside and up a flight of stairs to an office. There, Syrian officials opened his suitcases, tossing his clothes and personal items to the floor and pocketing the gifts he brought for his in-laws. But they wanted something else. “Where are the documents?” one asked. “Where is the map?” El-Maati asked them to explain. In response, they punched and kicked him, then led him to a dark hallway in the basement . Along the wall were narrow doors , like small closets. Number five was opened, and the Syrians threw him inside.
The cell had no window, no light, no toilet, and reeked of urine and feces. It was only about three feet wide, and his head almost reached the ceiling. El-Maati felt as if he were standing in his own coffin. The door slammed shut and El-Maati stood alone in the darkness, perplexed and terrified. From upstairs, he heard screaming.
Two guards brought El-Maati into a poorly lit room. George Salloum, the head of interrogations, waited inside. He smiled as he approached his new prisoner. “There is no point hiding information,” Salloum said. “I already know so much about you.” In a calm voice , Salloum ticked off El-Maati’s address in Toronto, plus the make, color, and license-plate number of his car.
The moment was terrifying— the Canadians, El-Maati thought, had to be working with the Syrians. Salloum leaned in and spoke slowly. “Tell me about the map.” El-Maati blurted out the now-familiar story. It wasn’t his truck with the map. He had borrowed it. He had done nothing wrong. A pause .
Then someone hit him in the face. Then again. And again. El -Maati was on the ground, and the guards kicked him in the head, in the torso, in the groin. The days of torture ran together. El-Maati was blindfolded and told to strip to his shorts. His hands were cuffed behind his back and to his legs, and he was forced onto his stomach. Ice water was poured over him. He was whipped with the splayed metal wires from an industrial electric cable on the bottoms of his feet, his thighs, his knees, his back. Pain seared through his body; blood blinded his eyes. These people are not human! Maybe some kinds of devils from hell!
“Please!” El-Maati begged. “Tell me! Tell me what you want me to say!” Salloum smiled. “No. It isn’t time yet.” The torture resumed. El-Maati could hear nothing but the sounds of his own screams.
"The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets."
A recently released CIA document on how the counterattack against Webb was promoted is revealing in this regard. Entitled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story,” the six-page internal report. described the CIA’s damage control in the wake of the publication of Webb’s story.
The report showed how the spy agency’s PR team exploited relationships with mainstream journalists who then essentially did the CIA’s work for it, mounting a devastating counterattack against Webb that marginalized him and painted the Contra-cocaine trafficking story as some baseless conspiracy theory.
Crucial to that success, the report credits “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists and an effective response by the Director of Central Intelligence’s Public Affairs Staff [that] helped prevent this story from becoming an unmitigated disaster.”
The Agency convinced friendly journalists to characterize Webb’s series as presenting “no real news, in that similar charges were made in the 1980’s and were investigated by the Congress and were found to be without substance.” That, of course, was a lie. In fact, Kerry’s investigation confirmed many of the Contra-cocaine allegations first reported by Parry and Barger for the Associated Press.
According to the CIA’s “Managing a Nightmare” report, journalists were advised to read Webb’s series critically and the CIA considered the initial attack by the Washington Post the key moment in blunting Webb’s story. The CIA distributed the negative stories to other members of the press.
From there, other papers refused to pick up Webb’s articles, but they often carried the articles attacking him. The CIA’s report noted that the tide of the public relations battle had fully turned by October and soon became a rout. Even the American Journalism Review, which – like similar publications – is supposed to stand up for honest journalists under fire, instead joined the all-out charge against Webb.
The Agency crowed how easy it was to work with journalists to first blunt and then turn around this negative national security story.
Sadly, the argument is going in the direction of "reality is only perception" and "conciousness is not a physical aspect".
Right this minute, I'd like to feed fuckers like that into the choppy grindy burny machine.
Which is actually a thing.
You are so much more amusing than the Philosophy 101 I'm dealing with.
"Physics is the science of how matter and energy interact. That speaks very little to consciousness, and is still reductionist/rationalist/materialist, which speak even less to consciousness. The physical world (I still don't like calling it "world") may be amplitudes in configuration space as far as you and physics are concerned, but consciousness isn't. Ergo, if your reality is physical in nature, consciousness cannot be reality."