Inside US Afghanistan pullout, CIA opium ratline, pipeline conflict, new cold war

Moderate Rebels live: Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton discuss the US military pullout from Afghanistan with journalist Pepe Escobar, who has extensive experience reporting in the country and was even arrested by the Taliban.

We talk about the 20-year US/NATO war, opium ratline the CIA used to fund dirty covert ops, fight over geostrategic pipelines, and estimated $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral reserves, as well as Washington’s “pivot to Asia” and how Afghanistan is central in the new cold war on China and Russia.

0:58 US Afghanistan pullout & Taliban
50:50 Pipeline wars
1:35:24 CIA opium ratline

Written by The Grayzone

The Grayzone is a news and politics website dedicated to original investigative journalism and analysis on war and empire.


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  1. Osama Bin Laden was unofficially convicted of the 9/11 attacks within a time frame that could not possibly have allowed any intelligence to have been gathered which supported the accusation. That is, it would be impossible if they did not already have that information. How could they have had no warning of an operation, which must have been very difficult to keep under wraps, but then be able to name the culprit in less than a day? And if they had some forewarning of the attack, even if it was not specific, then it raises even more questions about government agencies’ complicity.

    From day one, there has not been a shred of publicly available evidence against Bin Laden. Up until December of 2001, there was nothing but the continued repetition of his name. The official documents detailing allegations against Bin Laden provide no convincing evidence. Of the 69 points of "evidence" cited, ten relate to background information about the relationship between Bin Laden and the Taliban. Fifteen relate to background information regarding the general philosophies of Al Qeada, and it's relationship to Bin Laden. None give any facts concerning the events of 9/11. Most do not even attempt to directly relate anything mentioned to the events of that day. Twenty-six list allegations related to previous terrorist attacks. Even if they were convictions of previous terrorist attacks, everybody knows that this isn't worth the paper it's written on, in terms of evidence for involvement of September 11th.

    Within 20 minutes of the attacks taking place, the media were fed comments, which assumed Bin Laden's guilt, comments made on the basis of events, which could not possibly have occurred. The Pentagon and the Department of Defense used dialogue attributed to Bin Laden, in an effort to incriminate him, while refusing to release all of the dialogue, and refusing to issue a verbatim, literal translation.

    Dan Rather's interview with Jerome Hauer at 1pm on 9/11, just 2 hours after the attacks took place:

    Rather: What perspective can you give us? I mean, there have been these repeated reports that, well, yes, Osama Bin Laden, but some think he's been over-emphasized as, as responsible for these kinds of events. I know many intelligence people at very high levels who say, listen, you can't have these kinds of attacks without having some state, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, somebody involved. Put that into perspective for us.

    Hauer: Yeah, well I'm not sure I agree that, umm, this is necessarily state-sponsored. Umm, it, as I mentioned earlier, certainly has, umm, the, uh, fingerprints of somebody like Bin Laden.

    In the months leading up to the Septmber 11, 2001 attack, it is reported, the Taliban "outlined various ways bin Laden could be dealt with. He could be turned over to the EU, killed by the Taliban, or made available as a target for Cruise missiles." The Bush administration did not accept the Taliban's offer.

    On September 16, 2001, CNN reported that in a statement issued to Al Jazeera, bin Laden said, "I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks".

    "On September 20, 2001," according to the Guardian, "the Taliban offered to hand Osama bin Laden to a neutral Islamic country for trial if the US presented them with evidence that he was responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington. The US rejected the offer."

    Bin Laden, in a September 28, 2001 interview with the Pakistani newspaper Ummat, is reported to have said:

    "I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of a battle."

    October 3, 2001: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in an interview with The New York Times, said administration officials had been briefing allies on what he called "pretty good information" establishing the link between the airplane attacks and Mr. Bin Laden. But, he added, "it is not evidence in the form of a court case." 

    One Western official at NATO said the briefings, which were oral, without slides or documents, did not report any direct order from Mr. Bin Laden, nor did they indicate that the Taliban knew about the attacks before they happened. 

    A senior diplomat for one closely allied nation characterized the briefing as containing "nothing particularly new or surprising," adding: "It was descriptive and narrative rather than forensic. There was no attempt to build a legal case."

    George W Bush's speech at UN, November 10, 2001: "We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty. To inflame ethnic hatred is to advance the cause of terror."

    9/11 Commission Report stated in 2004 “that bin Laden was a financier with a fortune of several hundred million dollars is an “urban legend.”
    “Some within the government continued to cite the $300 million figure well after 9/11, and the general public still incorrectly gives credence to the notion of a ‘multimillionaire bin Laden."

    “To date, the US government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks.… Ultimately the question of the origin of the funds is of little practical significance.”

    In 2005, when asked why there is no mention of 9/11 on the FBI's web page, Rex Tomb, the FBI's Chief of Investigative Publicity, is reported to have said, "The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama Bin Laden's Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."

  2. The Business of China is BUSINESS & MAKING MONEY – The Business of America is WAR & LOSING YOUR SHIRT – since WAR NO LONGER WORKS ANYMORE, since the ones being attacked by America in the Middle East are FIGHTING BACK DIRTY NOW, Using weapons previously supplied and left over by the retreating Americans as well.

  3. Let it Go Mankind ! Jump off the rim of the Grand Canyon on this Opium Poppy Escapade !

    White, Pink, Red, Violet Dream Stick !
    The Affie Opium Poppy will forever win, no matter who's in control of its gardens !
    Taliban think they can control the opium poppy farming, production, distribution, and sales through machine gun dictatorships !
    Eons in mankind's efforts have never slayed nor destroyed this opium poppy !
    Greed, extortion, addictions, and mortal death has come from attempting to control or eradicate the opium poppy !
    Nature wins, man loses to the Opium Poppy !
    Nature wins, man loses to the Coca bush ! Colombian efforts have failed !
    War on drugs, is a War on Mankind's greed and addictions ! Lmao !
    No one wins against the opium poppy or coca bush !
    They are big cash agri crops and easy money to the local farmers !
    Addictions come in all Forms ! and so do its Reoccuring Relapses !
    Heaven or Hell you nor anyone can fight it off !
    Control your addictions or they will control you !
    UN/DEA failed efforts once again Sucks Wind X 20 years ! X Wasted Trillions $$$

    God Bless all the World's Freedom Fighters in this NARCO War chapter !

  4. Very interesting facts presented. Though surprised at the total free pass given to China which right now is interfering in a lot of countries of Asia.
    Xianjing camps of China also justified indirectly. Amazing.

  5. Guys! Just stop with Pepe and give them a chance to show themselves 🤨forget the past!🤫Mouth closed and Watch.
    No Commenting 🤷🏽‍♂️ You're Out mouths too🤭😬🤓

  6. when the West accuse the KGB and CCP as the merciless global covert operatives, the CIA, FBI, NGO's have their hands deep in every segment of the US community/Industry/nations/globe. They have done dirty jobs for years in the form of lives/nations/resources etc. You dont become the global hegemon by being the nice guys. US covert hands are blood soaked 24/7, 365 days of the year. It is amazing how they project themselves as the "cute" white doves.

  7. Pipeline Afghanistan,
    In the 1990s, the American Unocal Corporation, in addition to the Trans-Afghanistan Gas Pipeline, considered building a 1,600-kilometre-long (1,000 mi) 1,000,000 barrels per day (~5.0×107 t/a) oil pipeline to link Türkmenabat in Turkmenistan to the Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast. Through the Omsk (Russia) – Pavlodar (Kasakhstan) – Shymkent – Türkmenabat pipeline, it would provide a possible alternative export route for regional oil production from the Caspian Sea. The pipeline was expected to cost US$2.5 billion. However, due to political and security instability at that time, the project was dismissed.[1]

    Disputed theory

    Some have proposed that the actual motive for the United States-led Western invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was Afghanistan's importance as a conduit for oil pipelines to Afghanistan's neighbouring countries, by effectively bypassing Russian and Iranian territories, and breaking the Russian and Iranian collective monopoly on regional energy supplies.[2] Others have argued that the theoretical pipeline was not a significant reason for the invasion because most Western governments and their respective oil companies preferred an export route that went through the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan then to Georgia and on to the Black Sea instead of one that goes through Afghanistan.[3]

  8. Opium growing will move to Africa in scale. Already happening by addicts popping up in Africa. Ethiopia is used for multinational corporate farming, willing to bet that will be turned into a hotspot for growing too like it was for weed when that was a much more demonized, underground vice product.

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