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Osama: A “hero” turned most wanted

Osama Bin Laden’s links to the CIA explored in depth.

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The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on the request of its director, released 321 gigabytes of images, audio, text, and video gather at Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. There will debates, analyses and commentaries on the data. Last year, May the 2nd marked the fifth year of Osama Bin Laden’s death. The official Twitter account of the Central Intelligence Agency began “live tweeting” the accounts of the operation on Bin Laden’s compound as they unfolded during the actual raid, reminding the world how United States killed the most wanted fugitive on earth. But was Osama Bin Laden actually what he was portrayed as?

Born to a Yemeni migrant, Mohammaed bin Awad bin Laden, who settled in Saudi Arabia after the world war one and started his construction company in 1930’s. Soon after meeting King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, Awad bin Laden grew his business empire named as the Saudi Bin ladin Group, a gigantic corporation blessed by the Saudi royals themselves due to which the family became the wealthiest non royal in the Kingdom and till date all major governmental projects are handled by the company. Osama was born in an immensely wealthy family and enjoyed a princely childhood despite having a big family and studied at King Abdul-Aziz University, where he earned his degree in business administration while some reports suggest his later degree was in civil engineering.

His religious inclination was no different from that of the locals who practiced the state induced Wahabbi-ism which is closely associated with the Sunni version of the Islamic religion, hence the sacredness of the Kingdom which houses Islam’s two Holiest sites was precious to him. Osama’s personal views however, did not alone make him the most wanted terrorist in the world. The phrase “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” goes a long way in explaining the story of Osama Bin Laden.

To understand the rise of Osama Bin Laden, few chapters of mostly ignored world history need to be investigated. While still living his routine life in Saudia Arabia and posing no threat, Bin laden was unaware that his one voluntary decision would change the course of his life. The tale of this protagonist-turned-antagonist starts in Afghanistan. After the fall of King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan, the tug of power within the tribes started to unsettle the country. The power of governance landed in hands of the pro-Soviet Nur Mohammad Taraki in 1978 whose aims of modernizing the country, faced a serious backlash from the mostly conservative society and the government lost control in the major parts of the country by 1979. The Afghan government then requested the Soviet government under Leonid Brezhnev to send covert troops for support and advisory role. On 24th of December, 1979 the 40th Army arrived and staged a coup, killed the President and gave power to Babrak Karmal; a rival and a socialist.

The Soviets then, clearly underestimated the local tribes who disapproved both the Soviets and their ruler, marking the beginning of the Soviet Afghan War which lasted nine years (1979-1989). It is imperative to keep in mind that while the Soviets were in Afghanistan, United States and the Soviets were in a phase of Cold War which was mostly played on foreign soil by both countries in desperate attempts to maintain their world domination. At the time, Pakistan was “all in walk” with the United States of America for personal reasons. Operation Cyclone was initially planned by the C.I.A to flush out the Soviets from Afghanistan with the assistance of ISI. Pakistan in return for its support would get an assistance package worth  3.2 billion dollars of economic aid and military sales.

The relationship which later turned into an abusive one when the war on terror was imposed on Pakistan after 9/11 with a clear message” you are either with us or against us”. Local Afghans ( The Mujahideens)  took up arms against the Soviets and their own army , resulting in intensive war which led many to flee to neighboring Pakistani cities and Iran , many of whom are still hosted by both countries.

Osama’s entry in the play did not emerge until the world , primarily the Muslim countries started to take notice of the issue that Pakistan faced in terms of number of Afghan refugees fleeing their country and the Soviet’s refusal to leave the country. In January of 1980, foreign ministers from 34 Muslim countries gathered for the meeting of Islamic Conference ( now known as the Organization of Islamic Countries ) and adopted a resolution demanding “the immediate, urgent and unconditional withdrawal of Soviet troops” from Afghanistan, while the UN General Assembly passed a resolution protesting the Soviet intervention by a vote of 104:18. Back at home the Arab countries preached against the Soviets and claimed that their brothers in Islam were under non- Muslim aggression, leading to forming sympathies for the Mujahideens.

To ensure the expulsion of Soviets from Afghanistan, which seemed to suit the interests of many countries including the U.S and Pakistan alike, it only deemed fit to arm and fund the local fighters. Hence the process of foreign support and training started off in Pakistan and China, the money and weapons were primarily supplied by Arab countries and the U.S. The young and religiously active Osama Bin Laden was then in his late twenties and skilled in carrying out tasks of operating heavy machinery required for construction purposes.

The call for Jihad made by the Arabs against the Soviets soon reached Osama and due to his closeness to the Saudi Royal family, he offered himself voluntarily and asked to be sent to Afghanistan along with his men, money and machinery. This however did not happen overnight and his mission was delayed for a time but later on was given a green signal marking the start of the rise of Osama as a hero. He became active in not only being an on ground agent by the Saudis but also helped in construction of numerous tunnels for protection and in spreading the Saudi version of Islam. As documented by the National Security Archive, “the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played a significant role in inserting U.S. influence in Afghanistan by funding military operations designed to frustrate the Soviet invasion of that country. C.I.A covert action worked through Pakistani intelligence services to reach Afghani rebel groups.”

By the mid-1980s, the Soviet contingent was increased to 108,800 and fighting increased throughout the country, but the military and diplomatic cost of the war to the USSR was high. By mid-1987, the Soviet Union, now under reformist leader Mikhail Gorbachev, announced it would start withdrawing its forces. The final troop withdrawal started on 15 May 1988, and ended on 15 February 1989. The war was considered part of the Cold War. Due to its length it has sometimes been referred to as the “Soviet Union’s Vietnam War” or the “Bear Trap” by the Western media, and thought to be a contributing factor to the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Soviets finally had to pull out from Afghanistan and the rest of the world cared less about the aftermath of them creating armed and super-skilled Mujahideens who learned the art of guerilla warfare. Even at the time of their war with the Soviets, these fighters understood the advantage of fighting in their own backward and the only advantage Soviets had was their air power. After the supplies to the Mujadieen or later called Taliban, neither country who assisted them kept a record of “how much and how many” supply was put in to create this organization that timely served everyone’s purpose. Hence after the withdrawal, Taliban, with its head as Mullah Omar made Kandahar as its headquarters and soon took over most part of the county.

Joining the Taliban in this bid of taking over Afghanistan, a large number of sympathetic Muslim fighters, including some from Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia and African countries, like Somalia, Sudan , Egypt and several others volunteered and joined the Taliban ,they brought with them finances as well as the equipment. Amongst those was included Osama Bin Laden who headed Al Qaida. (A fact that former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai does not agree upon, and states that neither Al Qaida not the Taliban exists). Osama was the strongest ally. At that time, he was also rubbing shoulders with the top U.S government leaders and military leadership as well.

After Osama thought he had given enough of his resources to the Mujahideen (since the term has more religious affiliation) he returned to his homeland by 1990 along with few of his other men, and was welcomed as a hero by locals and the Royal family alike for defeating the Soviets and freeing the Afghani brothers from the aggression of a non-Muslims state. Osama enjoyed this hero like treatment till the Invasion of Kuwait (part of the Gulf war) under former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on August 2nd, 1990. After a two day battle, most of the Kuwait was under the Iraqi military and Saddam announced it as a 19th division of the state of Iraq. This rattled the nerves of the neighboring Gulf countries. This is when Osama turned against the US, offering his services again and requested Late King Fahd and defense minister Prince Sultan who was close to the U.S establishment.

After Osama’s experience in Afghanistan, he requested the Saudi King not to depend on Western Powers for assistance, rather use the Muslim fighters to free Kuwait and protect Makkah and Medina. His request was denied, leaving Osama furious over the decision of letting U.S forces into the Kingdom. Soon after the 82nd U.S Airborne Division landed in Dhahran. Osama was forced to criticize the monarchy over breaching the sacredness of the Holy Land. Speaking against the Saudi Royal family or their decisions is a punishable crime in the Kingdom. At first Osama was asked to stay silent on the matter but he continued his open rant, the government knowing he had a following of many , realized that the person they hailed as a hero could pose a threat in form of an uprising within the country and was a loose end. This led to Osama’s exile from the Kingdom, revoked his nationality as a Saudi and was put on a blacklist.

Osama’s next stop was Sudan (1992) , where he used his construction skills and humanitarian assistance to win over people and the government , he also worked on increasing his militants who later attacked a U.S carrier ship off the cost of Aden , although the attack was meant to take place in international waters ; it was a clear message of Osama’s animosity towards the U.S.

The U.S learned Osama was active in Sudan and began pressurizing the Sudanese government via Saudis to expel or hand over Osama. A failed assassination attempt on Osama’s life by the C.I.A made him flee Sudan and to his final operational round –Afghanistan where he met Mullah Omar and began a series of attacks against U.S and those who shut him out (including Saudis) , which soon made him the most wanted man with a price worth of billion dollars on his head. After 9/11, Pakistan faced the heat of the blast all the way , Musharaf was made to side with U.S on its war on terror while U.S troop landed in Afghanistan to hunt down the culprits and Osama. Little was learned by the U.S from the Soviet’s mistake of invading Afghanistan, where now militants were trained enough to beat the U.S troops. Pakistan on the other hand was asked to negotiate with the Taliban to hand over Osama but in return Pakistan witnessed a spike in terror attacks, causing the country to tremble. Drone attacks within the Pakistani airspace caused loss of human life and an uproar against the U.S and its dual polices. U.S recently passed a bill accusing the Saudis for 9/ 11 bombing – to which the Saudis have responded by threat to pull out 750 billion worth of assets in U.S. Making the Kingdom, second country Pakistan responsible for assistance to terrorists.

U.S spent billions of their tax payer money in hunting down Osama but was in vein in initial years. So, did the U.S kill the very agent it assisted in creating or yet alone has his killing made the world a safer place? The Bush administration made various claims about their achievements against war on terror, but also blamed Pakistan and the intelligence services of harboring terrorist in the northern tribal areas. Many militants mostly of Arab nationalities did not return back to their perspective countries after Osama left for the Kingdom, hence under Benazir’s regime, she ordered arrest and exile of such militants, forging them back to Afghanistan. As for Osama, less claim that he stayed in Pakistan and died after being injured in the bombing of Tora Bora, where a network of tunnels was traced by the U.S military or in 2005 but not in Pakistan .C.I.A’s hunt for Bin Laden within Pakistan damaged the “polio drive” to a massive extent and till date health workers are targeted for being foreign agents collecting DNA samples. U.S’ vow to fight terrorism and to make the world a facer place has done less good and more harm (current example ISIS ).

Since no hard evidence or even a trace of Osama was found, the U.S staged the Abbottabad raid, causing the then Air chief of Pakistan air force to resign in protest. After pressuring Zardari’s government and clearly violating all international laws and treaties , a team of U.S navy seals perfectly acted to kill Osama in few minutes time. Since then many theories have been afloat regarding the incident but the damage done to Pakistan’s repute alone has not been earned back again. Pakistan carried out Zarb-e-Azab to clear its backyard of a now a rouge organization.

Osama, now is a dead man with a thousand tales but in its obsession to act as the world’s watchdog, U.S has more often created elements and agents like Osama for timely use. The splinters of which come back to haunt the U.S again. As for Pakistan, history should serve some serious lessons and under no circumstances participate in covert operations that can become a long time headache for the country. Osama’s death, however remains a conspiracy within itself but certainly the world did not get any safer.

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EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

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Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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