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Rear Admiral John Kirby Fails To Provide Evidence That Khorasan Threat To United States Was Real

In 2001, the President of the United States was given authority by Congress to go to war against groups that were involved in the planning and execution of the terrorist attacks of September 11 that year. Little over a year later, the President of the United States was given authority by Congress to go to war against the government of Iraq.

Neither of these authorizations for war included a war against the Islamic State. Indeed, the Islamic State military organization didn’t even exist back when these authorizations were passed. So, President Obama has no legal authority to take the United States into war against the Islamic State, but has taken us into this new war anyway, not just in Iraq but also in Syria, and has declared that he intends for the war to go on for years and years.

As a small attempt at legal justification for expanding American bombing into Syria, the Obama Administration announced that there was an Al Quaida affiliate group in Syria that was posing an imminent threat of terrorist attack in the United States. It’s name: Khorasan. With this tangential link to a group that was involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President Obama went ahead and bombed neighborhoods in Syria.

The odd thing that few remarked upon was that no evidence of any actual Khorasan terrorists in the United States ever surfaced. No one from Khorasan was arrested in the act of attempting terrorist attacks. No Khorasan conspirators were ever found. Furthermore, no one could remember ever having heard of a Khorasan terrorist group before. The story all started to look rather fishy. So, some people began asking an inconvenient question: Was this Khorasan group genuine? Did it actually exist?

At a press conference yesterday, Rear Admiral John Kirby, spokesman for the U.S. military was asked to address this question. He was asked by a reporter: “Was it an important thing for you to keep the existence of Khorasan secret? Is that, did that happen? Is this something that was not talked about intentionally, the existence of this group, and the reason I’m asking is there are suggestions out there that today particularly, that the threat posed by Khorasan was — was sort of fabricated, perhaps, by the administration as a pretext for war, to legally justify involvement in Syria. How do you respond to that?”

Kirby denied that the imminent threat of Khorasan attack was just a pretext for expanded war into Syria. He replied, “That’s absolutely false. It’s a ridiculous allegation. And we’ve been watching this group for a long time. I can’t account for the fact that it wasn’t a household name in America or elsewhere around the world. There were other organizations, not of this department, that certainly we’re tracking this group as well. The notion that we would just, you know, make them up or fancify the threat they pose to – you know, to justify military action, is just absolutely ridiculous.”

At no time, however, did John Kirby offer any evidence to back up his assertions. Kirby only could claim that the assertions that the Khorasan threat was truly were imminent were “absolutely ridiculous”. Kirby didn’t prove it. He didn’t even try to provide evidence, and the Pentagon reporters didn’t ask follow up questions.

So, it seems, the Pentagon believes that the American people should accept it the new war, without asking for proof that the war is necessary and legal. The military even scoffs at the idea that we aren’t all familiar with the Khorasan terrorist group. “I can’t account for the fact that it wasn’t a household name in America or elsewhere around the world,” Kirby said.

Can Kirby truly not account for the fact that Khorasan is not a household name in America? Here’s a snapshot of every effort the Pentagon has made to tell the American people about the Khorasan group, provided by a search enabled by the Department of Defense’s own search engine:

khorasan pentagon press record

All of these communications from the Pentagon about the Khorasan terrorist group come after this month’s declaration that Khorasan had suddenly become an imminent threat to the United States, of a sufficient size to justify the bombing of Syria.

Across the web, there has been a similar silence about a Khorasan terrorist group, until this month. Look at this record of online references to Khorasan from Google.

khorasan news articles record

The references to “Khorasan” before this month were talking about a region along the border of Iran and Afghanistan, not talking about a group with that name in Syria.

Given this lack of a record prior to this month of news about a Khorasan terrorist group, and the extreme swerve into a bombing war that has been justified by claims of imminent Khorasan terrorism, the American people are justified in asking skeptical questions about the reality of the supposed Khorasan threat.

Given the long record of outright lies from the Pentagon and the White House about threats to national security, used to justify war, it is not reasonable for the Pentagon to ask the American people to accept the reality of the Khorasan threat on mere faith. The Obama Administration needs to provide extensive proof that the Khorasan group was threatening the United States with a significant, imminent terrorist attack. If Obama cannot provide this evidence, the bombing of Syria must stop.

5 thoughts on “Rear Admiral John Kirby Fails To Provide Evidence That Khorasan Threat To United States Was Real”

  1. Bruce Nappi says:

    This is a very timely and important summary. I hope you watch the Democracy Now news report or They did a special on this a few days ago, that dug up evidence showing it was a clear fabrication by a CIA agent. I hope more news people dig into it. If anyone in our government is straight out lying, including the president, a step-down, with prosecution is in order.

    1. J Clifford says:

      Thanks for the comment, Bruce. The story that you’re talking about ultimately comes from The Intercept, at . Democracy Now interviewed Glenn Greewald’s co-author on this article: Murtzaz Hussain.

      Look: I’m no expert on terrorist groups. I cannot say for myself whether the Khorasan Organization is legit or is not. I cannot say with certainty and that the organization is not a threat. What I can say is that the evidence to prove a threat from this group has not been presented to me. The fact that we are now supposedly at war with them, without the constitutionally required consent of Congress, is deeply concerning to me.

  2. Tom says:

    The Constitution has been eroded over the past 2 or 3 presidential administrations and the Bill of Rights (privileges) even more so. I don’t see anyone doing anything about any of it.

    1. J Clifford says:

      Quite right, Tom, and while it’s not true that there isn’t anyone doing anything about it, very few people are, and many people in power are actively working to protect the security state powers.

  3. Tom says:

    New docs show how Reagan-era executive order unbounded NSA

    A set of newly declassified documents shows definitively and explicitly that the United States intelligence community relies heavily on what is effectively unchecked presidential authority to conduct surveillance operations, as manifested through the Reagan-era Executive Order (EO) 12333.

    And at a more basic level, the new documents illustrate that the government is adept at creating obscure legalistic definitions of plain language words, like “collection of information,” which help obfuscate the public’s understanding of the scope and scale of such a dragnet.

    The documents were first published on Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after the group filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit with the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School.

    As Ars reported previously, “twelve triple three” is a presidential order that spells out the National Security Agency’s authority to conduct signals intelligence, among other things. EO 12333 was amended three times under President George W. Bush. Famously, the NSA expanded its domestic surveillance operation after the September 11 attacks without a direct order from the president, who later provided cover under EO 12333. [there’s more]

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