Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
"I was a tenant at WTC1 in 1979-81
The primary concern any of the tenants had 20 years ago was a hijacked plane being flown into the towers.
Here is the 'Key' to unlock the door: The extensive flight logs for 20 years from the 3 military bases in the area, and Port Authority responding to air threats is exemplary.
Thousands of sorties run in response to threats, practice runs, false alarms, done weekly or daily over 20 years. Back in the late seventies the NY Post ran an article about the Port Authority bragging how their manned 24/7 response helicopter would be in the air within 4 minutes of an alert call going out per possible air threats to the WTC towers.
There is one occasion that I am aware of, or in most probabilities that any one else is aware of in this exemplary record of response to air threats covering a period of over twenty years that the intercepts did not launch and were told to stand down, after going on high alert within a minute or two of the threat, not from just one threat but then by two, then three. That date was 9/11/01
This in itself is the most condemning fact of them all when that 20-year record is brought to light. The motive then becomes crystal clear in review of that exemplary response record to threats from the air against the WTC towers.
No, off course or negligent aircraft came close. They were always intercepted and told to change their course or they would be blown out of the sky. It was a no fly zone and this happened to many pilots that intentionally or unintentionally flew to close to the WTC towers over those 20 years."
If this is true it puts the complete failure to do anything about the attacks on the WTC in a timely manner in an entirely new light. It's funny how National 'Security' Advisor Condoleezza Rice couldn't possibly imagine what was completely obvious to tenants in the towers twenty years ago ("I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile"). Any investigation of the events of 9-11 would have to include testimony from current and retired Port Authority police officers. I suspect there are officers willing to talk whose specific job was to monitor potential attacks against the towers. The history of the daily liaison between the Port Authority police, the FAA, and local (by which I mean closer than Cape Cod) air force bases would no doubt be very enlightening.
Monday, December 29, 2003
"GlobalNet Corp. has been awarded an exclusive contract for worldwide termination of voice and data mobile satellite telecommunications traffic originating in Libya."and:
"The Woodlands-based telecommunications firm said it expects to be one of the first American companies operating in the oil-rich nation after the U.S. government lifts trade sanctions against Libya."Do you think GlobalNet (which until December 22 was called iDial Networks, and is a trendy VoIP company based in Woodlands, Texas) negotiated this contract in a week? With Libya completely isolated by American sanctions? Or did GlobalNet have a tip off that Libya was going to be opened to American investment, and started the negotiations months before? If there was a tip off, Gaddafi could not have been acting on the basis of Saddam's capture, and somebody in the American government must have known about Gaddafi's 'surprise' announcement in advance. The whole Libyan announcement is clearly Gaddafi's method of having the sanctions lifted, and the reason the Bush Administration so readily played along is that corporate America will make a lot of money in Libya. As usual, the official version of events bears no connection with the reality of the conspiracies behind the news.
Sunday, December 28, 2003
- "The main obstacle, predictably, is Mr. Chavez, a self-styled revolutionary who over the past five years has triggered an implosion of the Venezuelan economy, trampled on the private business sector and the independent media, and alienated nearly all his neighbors save Fidel Castro."
- "He accused the petition-gatherers of 'megafraud,' though he produced no evidence; he summoned thousands of his supporters to a demonstration and vowed that no vote would take place; he sent his thugs to attack anti-government protesters in a plaza where the opposition was headquartered. Opposition media report that thousands of Cubans have entered the country in recent months and are busy organizing the president's strongholds. No one doubts that Mr. Chavez is capable of violence. His first political act, after all, was a failed coup, and last year he triggered an ultimately unsuccessful coup against himself by ordering police and the military to attack opposition demonstrations."
- "Mr. Chavez will allow a referendum and respect its results only if he is convinced that fraud or violence won't work for him. That's where the Bush administration should come in, along with Venezuelan neighbors such as Brazil. In the coming weeks, as the referendum process proceeds, they must insist to Mr. Chavez that he not disrupt it - and be prepared to respond if he tries."
- ". . . he must not be allowed to complete his depredations on Venezuela by destroying the last vestiges of its democracy."
Wow! This is, I remind you, the freaking Washington Post! This editorial is one of the most insane things I've ever read in an American newspaper, and that's really saying something. Some comments:
- The Washington Post permanently ruined what little reputation it had when it acted as the stooge for the U. S. State Department and reported that the coup had succeeded when it actually hadn't, an obvious ploy to dishearten the people of Venezuela into giving up and accepting the American-favored dictators (see my comments at 1. here). That coup failed due to the personal courage of Chavez, the pusillanimity of the man who was the nominal leader of the coup plotters, the fact that the army and the people continued to support their democratically elected leader, and the apparent utter incompetence of the American military men who were assisting the coup plotters in ousting Chavez. After the complete embarrassment for the Post in getting involved in American intrigues to topple another Latin American government at a time when the Americans had promised to be on their best behavior in that regard, you'd think the Post would have the decency to keep its opinions on Venezuela to itself.
- Chavez is no 'self-styled' revolutionary - he is the real thing. That is why the Post is willing to embarrass itself again in this over-the-top editorial. The American Powers That Be are absolutely terrified of what Chavez is accomplishing in Venezuela, and what a terrible example he sets for all of Latin America and any people in the world suffering under American corporate power.
- The people who are so 'democratic' in organizing the recall petition are the same people whose last try at 'democracy' was organizing the unsuccessful coup.
- This is in fact the second try at a 'democratic' recall petition. The last try was thrown out as the organizers failed to comply with the rules in the Venezuelan constitution (you could call it 'megafraud'). It is quite arguable that such an extraordinary remedy, the removal of a democratically elected President, should be very strictly construed, and you should only get one try at it. After all, Chavez was elected, so the worst thing that would happen is that he would serve the full term for which he was elected, at which time the 'democratic' opposition could actually try something novel like defeating him at the polls.
- Chavez gets along very well with his neighbors, which is one of the things the Americans are afraid of. The neighbor he doesn't get along with are the American-sponsored extreme right-wing thugs in Colombia. The recent overthrow of the government in Bolivia was partly inspired by the example of Venezuela (speaking of Cuba . . . ).
- We keep hearing about how unpopular Chavez is. He had only been elected in two successive elections, but apparently everybody in Venezuela hates him. This opinion is based on polls commissioned by the Venezuelan media, who showed soap operas during the course of the unsuccessful coup in order to hide what was going on from the Venezuelan people in a vain effort to help the coup succeed. The opposition are actually terrified of having to face Chavez in a real election, which is why we have seen a coup attempt and two petition attempts.
- "That's where the Bush administration should come in . . . ." The Bush Administration has already been in, and had to leave in a hurry when the Bush-sponsored coup attempt turned into such a debacle. Brazil, by the way, knows exactly what went on, was unhappy with the Americans about it, and the Venezuela-Brazil axis of social democrats that is developing worries the hell out of the thugs in corporate America.
- The most amazing thing of all is that not only is Chavez democratic, he has bent over backwards to allow the petition to take place, and has allowed every criticism of him to be made and broadcast throughout the country. Under Chavez, Venezuela has one of the most vibrant public debates going on in the world. He allows debate because he is confident of the validity of what he is doing. He allows all the criticism, he has now allowed not one but two recall petitions, and he had treated the coup plotters with remarkable grace, and yet he is called 'anti-democratic'. The anti-democratic brutes who aim to unseat him will certainly not be anywhere near as democratic.
- The opposition's view that the country is being overrun by Cubans is unworthy of comment, and it shows how low the Post has sunk when it stoops to include it in an editorial. The Cubans who are in Venezuela are mainly doctors who have been brought in to treat the poor.
This editorial is exactly what I'd expect to see out of a newspaper in, say, Wichita in, say, 1964. In the last paragraph what they are doing is no less than expressly calling for another American-organized coup in Venezuela. The fact the Washington Post decided to print this in 2003 just shows how important a man Chavez really is.
Saturday, December 27, 2003
- From Reuters (my emphasis):
"A U.S. official said 'credible, reliable' intelligence reports had been relayed to France saying extremist groups were planning 'near-term simultaneous attacks' that could be on a scale of the Sept. 11 attacks by Al Qaeda. The French intelligence service questioned a number of people, but found no evidence of membership in radical Islamist groups among them. The only person named by U.S. intelligence as a suspect, a Tunisian man with a pilot's license, was still in Tunisia and had no apparent plans to leave the country, the French source said."
- From the Telegraph (my emphasis):
"A French judicial official said the name of a Tunisian national with a pilot's licence had appeared on the American list of suspicious people who might attempt to board a flight. But French intelligence officials determined that the man was in Tunisia and had no plans to leave the country.
The official added that the Tunisian had no criminal record and did not belong to any Islamic radical groups."
- From The Herald (my emphasis):
"FURIOUS CIA sources yesterday accused France of throwing away the chance to capture militants with possible links to al Qaeda by cancelling all flights from Paris to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.
They said the public announcement of the cancellations, with a terror warning blamed, alerted the suspect Tunisians. The names of between three and six, understood to have been identified from computer lists, were passed to the DST, the French domestic intelligence agency, by the American embassy in Paris."
- From the BBC (my emphasis):
"The BBC's Matt Frei in Washington said US security sources indicated they had alerted the French authorities after scouring the passenger lists."
- From the Los Angeles Times (my emphasis):
"More information surfaced yesterday about why U.S. officials were so fearful that the three Air France flights might have been targeted for hijacking.
One U.S. official, quoting electronic intercepts, said terrorist operatives had been overheard discussing specific flight numbers and airlines without mentioning a specific day, while other conversations alluded to attacks on the Christmas holiday and other days."
- From the Washington Post (my emphasis):
"Police in Paris questioned 13 people who had checked in for two Air France flights that were canceled Christmas Eve because of a terrorism warning from U.S. authorities, but no evidence of wrongdoing was found, the French Interior Ministry said. All 13 were released.and:
But U.S. officials said they are suspicious about some of the passengers who did not show up at the airport to claim their seats on the ultimately aborted Flight 68 from Paris to Los Angeles. One of those who did not appear for the Christmas Eve flight apparently is a trained pilot, one U.S. official said.
'We still have an interest in talking to those people who didn't show up," said one U.S. official knowledgeable about the investigation. "There might be more to come on this.'
Despite French statements suggesting some of the American fears about the Air France flights were unfounded, U.S. government officials said they believe they might have averted a terrorist attack by arranging for the flights' cancellation. Officials said they feared that al Qaeda operatives planned to hijack one of the flights and use the plane as a missile to attack a site on or near its route."
"The Air France flights in question cross the Hudson Bay and eastern Canada before dipping down to airspace over Minnesota, and then taking a sharp southwestern swing toward Southern California.
'The only big city near this route is Las Vegas, which they would consider a nice, attractive target,' one informed government official said. But officials said Los Angeles could have been the target, too.
The al Qaeda network has long considered Las Vegas to be one of its top targets for a strike because it sees the city as a citadel of Western licentiousness, U.S. officials said. Government officials said they have known for some time that al Qaeda is interested in striking at Las Vegas."
- From AFP (or here; my emphasis):
"[a French police source] said the US intelligence given to the French counter-espionage service DST, based on wiretaps and other sources, had focused on one name that US authorities thought might be tied to Al-Qaeda.and:
But checks showed that the individual in question, a Tunisian man with a pilot's licence, was still in Tunisia, not France, and that he was not in French anti-terrorist files."
"In the United States, an American official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said the alert had been raised because of intercepted Al-Qaeda e-mails that spoke of an attack being plotted for the Christmas holiday using Air France planes. Other intelligence narrowed that to specific Air France flights, he said."
- From the Associated Press (my emphasis):
"French investigators questioned seven men pointed out by U.S. intelligence but found no evidence they planned to use a Los Angeles-bound jet to launch terror attacks against the United States, French authorities said Thursday."and:
"The seven questioned men, who all had tickets for Air France Flight 68 to Los Angeles, were on a watch list provided by U.S. authorities, an Interior Ministry spokesman said."and:
"French authorities also investigated a man from Tunisia whose name was supplied by American intelligence. But the judicial official said man was in Tunisia with no plans to leave for the United States. He has no criminal record and does not belong to any radical Islamic groups."
- From MSNBC News (my emphasis):
" U.S. investigators are searching for a small number of people who failed to show up at the Paris airport to board flights to Los Angeles that fell under close scrutiny in a possible terrorist plot, a U.S. official said Friday.
One of those people was receiving pilot training, but was not yet certified, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity."
- From the New York Times (my emphasis):
". . . American government officials said the United States was still investigating people who had reserved seats on the planes but never showed up for the flights.and:
Administration officials said potential attackers might have been tipped off by news reports earlier in the week that included vague references to American concerns about France.
But they would not say whether any of the no-shows were on a list of suspected terrorists that Americans supplied the French this week. Agence France-Presse, the French news agency, quoted an antiterrorist investigator as saying that one person on the American list was a Tunisian passenger with a pilot's license and possible links to Al Qaeda. But the news agency said the man was in Tunis, not France, at the time of the flights."
"Administration officials said the United States had given the French about a dozen names from its terrorist watch list and warned that they might be aboard the flights from Paris.
After considerable internal debate, the French government decided to cancel six flights between Paris and Los Angeles scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, and the French police briefly detained about a half-dozen passengers.
On Thursday, French officials said they had released all the passengers, including one French citizen, one American, one German and several Algerians.
'There was absolutely nothing there,' said a spokesman for the French Interior Ministry.
Bush administration officials said on Thursday that their concerns were not simply about the people who had checked in for their flights but also about those who had bought tickets and not shown up.
About 350 passengers were screened for questioning Wednesday afternoon as they prepared to board Air France Flight 68, which had been scheduled to depart at 1:35 p.m. Another 350 passengers who were scheduled to fly out at 7 p.m. were turned away before they checked in. It was unclear if any of those passengers for the second flight were questioned or whether the police had contacted passengers holding tickets for any of the other four flights that were canceled.
According to an account in the French newspaper Le Monde, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell first alerted France's foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, of the perceived terrorist threat in a phone call on Dec. 21."
- From Fox News (my emphasis):
"U.S. investigators want to speak with a small number of people in Paris who failed to show up for boarding flights to Los Angeles that fell under close scrutiny in a possible terrorist plot, including one pilot-trainee, a U.S. official said Friday.and:
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators hope to resolve concerns that some passengers aboard those flights might have intended to use them to launch terror attacks against the United States. One of them was receiving pilot training but was not yet certified, the official said."
"Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., also a member of the Homeland Security panel, said it was too early to tell whether a potential attack was thwarted.and:
'Clearly, there was traffic, chatter as they call it, that indicated that a threat was there,' Dreier said."
"After the Air France cancellations, French investigators questioned seven men pointed out by U.S. intelligence but found no evidence they planned to use a Los Angeles-bound jet to launch terror attacks against the United States, French authorities said.
Officials in Washington and Nevada disputed a published report Friday that the flight cancellations thwarted a possible terrorist plot to crash an airliner in Las Vegas. Jerry Bussell, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn's adviser on homeland security, said federal Homeland Security officials told him there was no known threat to Las Vegas."
Utter confusion, n'est-ce pas?:
- If there really was a terrorist plot, the Tunisian pilot appears to be the patsy whose identity would have been stolen by one of the hijackers (the Tunisian would probably have been killed if the plane had taken off). If the pilot remained in Tunisia he can't be the same guy who was going to board a plane in Paris.
- Do you think these terrorists are so dumb that they use their real names in telephone conversations and in e-mails?
- The Americans apparently have a big computerized watch list and are running all passenger lists against it.
- Is the CIA really furious because the French tipped their hand too soon, or did French action save the day? If the French investigated and cleared the names they were given by the Americans, what further use would it have been to investigate those people who had not shown up because they heard the planes were not flying? Were the French supposed to deceive everyone that all the flights were flying, trick them into a room, and give them to CIA goons to be worked over until they confessed?
- It's funny to watch the Bushites squirm to protect the mobsters' interests in Las Vegas.
Friday, December 26, 2003
"I have been charged by the President with making sure that none of the tyrannies in the world are negotiated with. We don't negotiate with evil; we defeat it."
Raising the concept of evil evokes the idea of the 'axis of evil', and makes the Korean issue one of Good versus Evil, which presumably can never be concluded with negotiations. This is not just a gratuitous insult to the North Koreans, it also makes light of the efforts being made by China to eliminate the threat posed by a nuclear North Korea. Cheney prevented negotiations from even starting. According to Cheney and the neocons, North Korea is supposed to dismantle its nuclear weapons before the Americans will even begin negotiations, and as the weapons are the sole negotiating chip the Koreans have, they are not going to do that. Cheney's hardass position is so stupid that Bush had to have a conciliatory phone call with Chinese President Hu Jintao (you know the United States is in trouble when Bush has to play the adult role). Just as in Iraq, there appears to be a turf battle between the insane neocons, and the realists in the State Department, with Bush unwilling or unable to rein in the crazies. The context of this is that the United States simply can't afford a war with North Korea, the cost of which would make everyone forget about the mere hundreds of billions spent on Iraq. The number of American troops required has been estimated at 650,000 (and where will they be found?), and the number of American casualties may be as high as 250,000. Unlike Iraq, North Korea actually has weapons of mass destruction and will certainly use them. It also has an army of 1.2 million people (!), one of the most powerful artilleries in the world, and one of the largest special forces operations in the world, tailored specially for fighting in the Korean peninsula. Raising issues of good and evil in order to provide a snooty excuse to avoid negotiating to prevent a war against such an opponent is criminally stupid. USA Today reports the extent of the danger:
"The alternative to an agreement would be nothing like the relatively painless initial combat victory over Iraq. If diplomacy fails, North Korean troops are expected to fight and fight hard. U.S. officers envision North Korea attacking in a sudden, violent lunge across the border. The aim would be a decisive defeat of U.S. and South Korean forces in fewer than 30 days, before reinforcements could arrive and North Korea's economic weakness hampers its military, officials said."North Korea's desperate economic situation means that they may see themselves as having only one chance if the Americans aren't prepared to negotiate: attack South Korea without warning. While the neocon chickenhawks strut their stuff and get to feel like tough guys, the United States takes a huge, and completely unnecessary, risk of utter disaster. How much longer can the United States afford to keep Dick Cheney around?
Thursday, December 25, 2003
- Limbaugh's first explanation for the withdrawals was that it was just spending money and money for payments to contractors who worked on his house renovations. Did the blackmail somehow slip his mind?
- The attorney said that they bled Limbaugh dry, but also said the money involved was "about several hundred thousand dollars". Is that enough to bleed multi-millionaire Rush Limbaugh dry?
- Money is fungible, and illegal oxycontin in those quantities is very expensive. Did Limbaugh manage to keep his drug-buying money separate from his blackmail-paying money, so that his suspicious withdrawals were all for money to be used for blackmail payments? Can he prove that his suspicious withdrawals all took place at a time when he was no longer buying drugs but was only paying blackmail? It appears he was buying drugs right up until he went into rehab. Is his attorney alleging that he was paying his maid for drugs and simultaneously paying the same maid blackmail money? That must have been some oxycontin jones he had.
- The maid has already admitted that 'a lawyer for Limbaugh' gave her $80,000 that he owed her, plus another $120,000, and asked her to destroy the computer that contained the incriminating e-mail records. That's not blackmail. It's a bribe.
- It wouldn't be odd for a drug supplier to try to blackmail someone like Limbaugh by threatening to go to the police, but it would be very odd for her to actually carry out the threat. In order to go to the police she would have to admit involvement in a felony, so if she's a blackmailer, she must be a stupid one. The attorney's story that she went to the authorities to get immunity from prosecution so she and her husband could sell the story to the tabloids makes absolutely no sense. Who ever heard of a drug dealer going to the police, hoping that she would be granted immunity, but taking the huge risk that the police would just throw her in jail? The only time this kind of immunity deal would arise is if she was arrested, and attempted to use her knowledge of Limbaugh to bargain for a lesser charge. But that isn't what Limbaugh's attorney is alleging. On top of that, wouldn't any drug dealer realize how dangerous it would be to assume that the authorities would want to nab as powerful a figure as Limbaugh, when it is much more likely they would try to protect him? The maids of this world never win in these contests, and are fully aware of that fact.
- It is not clear to me that using money to pay blackmail gets you off the hook on a money laundering charge.
- Limbaugh's attorney's blackmail allegations constitute an implicit admission to the drug buying charge, as why else would Limbaugh be paying blackmail? If he is as innocent as he claims to be, there would be no possible basis for blackmail. He has been trying to emphasize the fact that he became addicted to prescribed medication, so the blackmail charge constitutes a major admission. Limbaugh and his attorney must feel that Limbaugh's real exposure is to the money laundering charge, for admitting to the massive drug purchasing is a big risk to take unless the alternatives are worse. Why are they so terrified of the money laundering charge that they would admit to the fact that Limbaugh had a weakness for which he could be blackmailed?
- The fact remains that Limbaugh bought thousands of pills, far, far more than he could possibly have consumed himself (his medical records list prescriptions for more than 2100 pills in a six month period, mostly painkillers, from four separate doctors, but he allegedly bought thousands of additional pills, including 4,350 in one 47-day period). He could not have simply been building a stash, as the maid indicated that he was insistent and panicky about getting his drugs in a hurry, as if he needed them right away. So what did Limbaugh do to dispose of all those drugs? I can't think of an innocent way to get rid of oxycontin.
- If Limbaugh had legitimate pain issues, why is he fighting tooth and nail to prevent prosecutors from seeing his medical records? How else are they going to determine if he was doctor shopping? If his doctors weren't properly medicating his pain - and sadistic doctors often don't provide sufficient prescriptions for painkillers (to be fair, a lot of them are very fearful of medical malpractice suits if the patient becomes addicted) - Limbaugh may have a good argument that his doctor shopping was merely his attempts to have his pain properly treated. His medical records would substantiate that argument, so why doesn't he voluntarily allow the prosecutors to see them? Could it be that they will reveal that he was not in sufficient pain to explain his massive purchases of drugs?
Limbaugh's attorney's strategy seems screwy. Alleging blackmail is a tacit admission to the drug purchasing, and doesn't really help with the money laundering charge. It also raises the issue of whether the payment made was actually a bribe (i. e., paying to cover up a crime, which could be construed as conspiracy or obstruction of justice). If Limbaugh's pain story is true, the only evidence that could help him prove it is in his medical records, and he is fighting hard to keep the prosecutors from seeing these records. He is not acting like an innocent man.
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
- The Kurds have a strong history of finding fugitives in northern Iraq, having discovered and arrested Iraqi vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan, and they probably identified the house in which Saddam's sons were killed.
- The Kurds could probably obtain valuable political concessions concerning the future Kurdish state - I hope they got them in writing - from the Americans in return for allowing the Americans the glory of the capture.
- The remarkably fast DNA test, which scientists seemed very surprised to hear had been conducted so quickly (although they grudgingly allowed it might be possible), may have been conducted days before (of course, relying on DNA is problematic because of the many doubles used by Saddam and his family).
- Saddam's dazed state, and lack of resistance, may be explained by the fact he had been drugged by the Kurds in order to make his 'capture' easier for the Americans. The pistol, if he had one, may have been an unloaded prop.
- If Saddam was being held prisoner, it would explain why he was in such a sorry state, in such a humble hut, and in such an unlikely hole. It would explain why he would put himself in a hole he could not get out of without help. It would explain his access to hair dye which was not in the hut. It would explain why a man who was always noted for his extreme fastidiousness in dress and appearance, was looking like an old beggar. It would also explain why he had no communications equipment, or access to a way of escape. The amount of money he had with him seemed insufficient for the amount he is supposed to have withdrawn, but may be another prop brought by the American troops.
- The Kurds explicitly announced they had captured Saddam hours before the news made the mainstream media.
- It is extraordinary unlikely that the turf-protecting Pentagon would have let the Kurds have any involvement in the capture, unless they had played a major role in the operation.
- There is an elaborate description of the reasons for the betrayal, based on tribal revenge, which makes much more sense than the vague and contradictory explanations given by the Americans.
- Rep. Jim McDermott said (my emphasis):
"I don't know that it was definitely planned on this weekend, but I know they've been in contact with people all along who knew basically where he was. It was just a matter of time till they'd find him."
This heroic capture is probably yet another Karl Rove production, intended for domestic American political consumption, and having no connection with reality. It falls into the same mold as the whole Iraqi campaign, which has essentially been a constant string of lies forming a sort of propaganda war against the American people. Some highlights of this are the early announced discoveries of weapons of mass destruction, each later quietly admitted to be the product of over-enthusiasm, the whole Jessica Lynch story, the implausible story about the tractor trailer of stolen cash, and the recent tall tales about ambushes in Samarra which were used to cover up American attacks on Iraqi civilians. It is notable that the disgusting American media has ignored the story that the Saddam capture story may also be a lie, proving once again that they are just the propaganda arm of the Pentagon. Americans live in this fantasy world of brave American soldiers conducting heroic missions to bring justice and democracy to the world, and simply couldn't handle the real sordid truth of what is going on over there.
Monday, December 22, 2003
"For the non-US firms in the room, OPIC's announcement is anything but reassuring: Since only US companies are eligible for its insurance, and the private insurers are sitting it out, how can they compete? The answer is that they likely cannot. Some countries may decide to match OPIC's Iraq program. But in the short term, not only has the US government barred companies from non-'coalition partners' from competing for contracts against US firms, it has made sure that the foreign firms that are allowed to compete will do so at a serious disadvantage.
The reconstruction of Iraq has emerged as a vast protectionist racket, a neocon New Deal that transfers limitless public funds - in contracts, loans and insurance - to private firms, and even gets rid of the foreign competition to boot, under the guise of 'national security.' Ironically, these firms are being handed this corporate welfare so they can take full advantage of CPA-imposed laws that systematically strip Iraqi industry of all its protections, from import tariffs to limits on foreign ownership. Michael Fleisher, head of private-sector development for the CPA, recently explained to a group of Iraqi businesspeople why these protections had to be removed. 'Protected businesses never, never become competitive,' he said. Quick, somebody tell OPIC and Paul Wolfowitz."
Again we see the odd corporate socialism of neoconservatism. Wealth is taken from the poor and middle classes, and redistributed to large corporations, all in the name of virtuous competition. All the old protections to ordinary people like taxes and labor laws and regulations are removed, but the whole bill for the reconstruction, including now the costs of providing insurance to the uninsurable, is borne by the American taxpayers. So it's pure capitalism for the Iraqis, and pure socialism for the American corporations. In order to understand neoconservatism, you have to take any of the old classic socialist texts - by Marx or Lenin or Trotsky - and replace the term 'proletariat' by 'large corporations'. It will then all make perfect sense.
Saturday, December 20, 2003
"Looking at the source code would be interesting, but it shouldn't give you any confidence in the system. Even in the (practically unattainable) ideal case, where the code is thoroughly analyzed by all the experts and they all agree the code is correct... there is still no proof that the code everybody looked at is the code that will actually be running on the voting machines. Even if you stand over the Diebold employees and watch them compile the source code and install the resulting binary on the machine, you still don't know if that code is what will be running on the machine during the election [acm.org].
The point is, having access to the (alleged) source code is no guarantee of accuracy. The only reliable guarantee of accuracy is having the system print out a paper receipt that the voter hand-verifies and turns in at the poll. Once you have that, the vote can be recounted by hand, if necessary, and any inaccuracies will be detected. Without that, no electronic system will ever be trustworthy."
The only point I would make is that hand counting will always be necessary, unless all the other candidates consent to waive it (for otherwise, how could we ever know that even a landslide victory wasn't fixed?). In fact, open source coding is largely irrelevant to the issue of voting fairness, and as long as the voter-verified ballots produced by the voting machines are kept and hand counted, the voting machine companies can keep their code proprietary and secret (any cheating in the code will be caught by the hand counting). To put it another way, hand counting of ballots is a completely necessary and largely sufficient condition of a fair voting system, while open source coding is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of a fair voting system. This reality still leaves us with the paradox of voting machines: if we have to hand count anyway, why do we need the machines at all?
Friday, December 19, 2003
- From the Financial Times on Tony Blair:
"Asked in an interview with the BBC Arabic Service if he was still certain weapons would be found - an assertion he has repeatedly made - the prime minister said he was 'confident that the Iraq Survey Group, when it does its work, will find what has happened to those weapons, because that he had them, there is absolutely no doubt at all'.Blair knows Iraq had such weapons in the 1980's and early 1990's because British companies, amongst others, sold them to Iraq. Saddam destroyed the weapons in the mid 1990's because of UN weapons inspections, and even Blair has to acknowledge that now. Therefore, the hunt for weapons has turned into the hunt to find out when Saddam destroyed them. International law unequivocally prohibited the attack on Iraq, but Bush and Blair cobbled together their bogus excuse for the attack based on Saddam's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction, and the supposed inability of the UN weapons inspectors to find them. For their warmongering argument to have any chance of working, the threat had to be imminent and there had to be no other way to remove the threat. Bush and Blair had to be completely certain that Iraq had the weapons they claimed he had. In the absence of weapons of mass destruction, Tony the Poodle is a War Criminal. His statement that the issue is what happened to the weapons amounts to a confession, and when he is out of power he should be immediately turned over to the proper authorities for prosecution.
- Diane Sawyer interviewed George Bush and actually pressed him on the issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (which makes her the only American 'journalist' to even pretend to do her job). Here is the exchange:
"DIANE SAWYER: But let me try to ask — this could be a long question. ... ... When you take a look back, Vice President Cheney said there is no doubt, Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, not programs, not intent. There is no doubt he has weapons of mass destruction. Secretary Powell said 100 to 500 tons of chemical weapons and now the inspectors say that there's no evidence of these weapons existing right now. The yellow cake in Niger, in Niger. George Tenet has said that shouldn't have been in your speech. Secretary Powell talked about mobile labs. Again, the intelligence — the inspectors have said they can't confirm this, they can't corroborate.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yet.
DIANE SAWYER: — an active —
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yet.
DIANE SAWYER: Is it yet?
PRESIDENT BUSH: But what David Kay did discover was they had a weapons program, and had that, that — let me finish for a second. Now it's more extensive than, than missiles. Had that knowledge been examined by the United Nations or had David Kay's report been placed in front of the United Nations, he, he, Saddam Hussein, would have been in material breach of 1441, which meant it was a causis belli. And look, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous person, and there's no doubt we had a body of evidence proving that, and there is no doubt that the president must act, after 9/11, to make America a more secure country.
DIANE SAWYER: Again, I'm just trying to ask, these are supporters, people who believed in the war who have asked the question.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you can keep asking the question and my answer's gonna be the same. Saddam was a danger and the world is better off cause we got rid of him.
DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still —
PRESIDENT BUSH: So what's the difference?
DIANE SAWYER: Well —
PRESIDENT BUSH: The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger. That's, that's what I'm trying to explain to you. A gathering threat, after 9/11, is a threat that needed to be de — dealt with, and it was done after 12 long years of the world saying the man's a danger. And so we got rid of him and there's no doubt the world is a safer, freer place as a result of Saddam being gone.
DIANE SAWYER: But, but, again, some, some of the critics have said this combined with the failure to establish proof of, of elaborate terrorism contacts, has indicated that there's just not precision, at best, and misleading, at worst.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah. Look — what — what we based our evidence on was a very sound National Intelligence Estimate. ...
DIANE SAWYER: Nothing should have been more precise?
PRESIDENT BUSH: What — I, I — I made my decision based upon enough intelligence to tell me that this country was threatened with Saddam Hussein in power.
DIANE SAWYER: What would it take to convince you he didn't have weapons of mass destruction?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Saddam Hussein was a threat and the fact that he is gone means America is a safer country.
DIANE SAWYER: And if he doesn't have weapons of mass destruction [inaudible] —
PRESIDENT BUSH: Diane, you can keep asking the question. I'm telling you — I made the right decision for America —
DIANE SAWYER: But-
PRESIDENT BUSH: — because Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction, invaded Kuwait. ... But the fact that he is not there is, means America's a more secure country."
Bush says there is no difference between Saddam's having weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that he could move to acquire such weapons. Of course, there is all the difference in the world. The Bush/Blair argument for war absolutely depended on an imminent threat, and for that Saddam actually had to have the weapons in hand and be able to use them. Thinking about getting weapons, pondering getting weapons, planning getting weapons, having the capability to attempt to acquire weapons - none of these is good enough. After the Second World War the world community decided on the sanctity of the sovereignty of nations, and prohibited wars waged on the basis of the various excuses used by people like Hitler. To say that the war was fought as Saddam would be a threat if he acquired weapons is ridiculous, as any war could be fought on that basis. There has to at least be either an imminent threat of attack and no other way to avoid war, or the agreement of the United Nations. Otherwise, the war is illegal, and allowing it destroys the understanding carefully created to ensure that another Hitler couldn't hide behind vague claims of security to wage colonialist wars. Bush in fact may not be smart enough to understand this, but the American attack on Iraq was clearly illegal, and sets a terrible precedent for the world.
- David Kay is getting tired of looking for something which he knows isn't there, and wants to quit as the man in charge of dragging the search for WMD out long enough so Bush won't be embarrassed. I assume he believes that Bush no longer needs to pretend that there are such weapons now that a Saddam-like figure is in the bag, and so he can give up the charade. Kay, who has spent much of the last fifteen years mongering for the obscene attack on Iraq, has become a rather pathetic figure, dragging his ass around the desert so he and Bush won't look like bloodthirsty fools.
With Saddam in custody all the war criminals seem to feel comfortable about brazenly admitting that the weapons that provided the excuse for the attack didn't exist. Complex diplomacy and the lessons of the Second World War have been laid waste, and the world is a more dangerous place.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
"France and Germany agreed Tuesday to work with the United States toward a 'substantial reduction' of Iraq's towering foreign debt next year. The accord marked a significant step forward in the United States' effort to rebuild Iraq, as well as progress in mending ties with the two countries most opposed to the American-led war there."This sounds like a huge victory for Bush and Baker, proving that Wolfowitz's announcement that France and Germany were cut out of reconstruction contracts did not prevent Baker from getting what he asked for (note the gloating). But you have to read the fine print. From later in the same article, referring to the group of countries called the Paris Club, a group of 19 industrialized countries that have worked together to alleviate the financial obligations of over-indebted countries:
"The Bush administration would like to see the group's countries cancel as much as 90 percent of the Iraqi debt due them, treatment that has in the past been reserved for so-called heavily indebted poor countries, mostly aid-dependent nations in Africa. With the world's second-largest proven oil reserves, Iraq is unlikely to qualify for that moniker."In other words, all they've agreed to is the normal process of Paris Club discussions, which normally involve debt reduction of impoverished third-world countries. Iraq, with all its oil, certainly won't qualify for anything more than a nominal reduction, and will probably just have the debt restructured. From the Financial Times:
"The Paris Club will also have to work out a debt forgiveness arrangement that takes account of the country's potential wealth and does not breach criteria designed exclusively for heavily indebted poor countries."The Europeans, being nothing if not diplomatic, and not willing to publicly embarrass Bush's envoy, said all the right things but promised absolutely nothing. They know that Bush's sudden interest in debt forgiveness has nothing to do with his concern for the Iraqi people and everything to do with facilitating the looting of Iraq by American corporations. Baker begged but brought back butkus.
"The U.S. military said a convoy came under attack near Samarra on Monday, and 11 people were killed as troops repelled what they called a 'complex' ambush that began with a roadside bomb and was followed up with machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire.
Police and residents were contesting that version last night, however, saying just one Iraqi had been killed, and that the Americans were the only ones shooting, opening fire on a residential area in retaliation for the bombing. Neither side reported U.S. casualties."
The official account has it that the Americans killed 11 Iraqis and did not suffer any casualties (isn't it suspicious to receive no casualties in an ambush?). It appears that there was only one Iraqi fatality, a man selling vegetables on the side of the road. This is exactly the same trick the Americans successfully pulled with respect to their last massacre in Samarra. There has also been a similar incident in Ramadi, where the Americans said that protestors fired repeatedly on U. S. troops, but television pictures showed only bullets headed towards the fleeing Iraqis. The new American model of conduct is to kill some civilians, probably as a result of firing on protestors, and then explain the whole mess as the results of a fight which occurred when the Americans were attacked. They are even getting a little literary in their lying (note the flock of pigeons in the Centcom story). You have to wonder whether the Pentagon has brought some novelists along to Iraq to assist in the story making process. Since the disgusting American press let them get away with it the first time, the fake ambush has apparently become part of the standard set of Pentagon lies. Watch for it in the future.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
- Consider what would have happened if the towers had been properly constructed and not collapsed when hit by the two planes. Only a few hundred people would have died, and the towers would have been repaired and be fully functional by now. The billions of dollars of damage to New York would have been avoided, as would much of the fear which still grips the country. Would the damage have been sufficient for the Bush Administration to spend billions and billions of dollars on two wars, both of which have been disasters for the reputation and financial situation of the United States? Would Ashcroft have been enabled to wipe his ass with the American Constitution? Would the whole life of the United States still turn on what happened on that one day?
- Consider what would have happened if two planes had accidentally hit the two towers, causing them to collapse. There would have been no terrorist element in the disaster. Would that not have focused the thoughts of Americans on the real crime, how it was that these buildings could have been allowed to have been constructed as they were?
There were two issues that arose on September 11 - the terrorist issue and the construction issue. The United States has spent an enormous amount of energy and money on the terrorist issue, but completely ignored the construction issue. Since the same shoddy construction standards almost certainly exist in other buildings, it is arguable that the construction issue poses more of a real threat to the safety of Americans than the terrorism issue.
Monday, December 15, 2003
Sunday, December 14, 2003
- The capture took long enough that it proved that the Americans really have no control over Iraq, but happened soon enough that Bush won't be able to use it as an 'October surprise' to win his next election campaign. By the time next summer rolls around, there will be enough dead Americans that everyone will have forgotten about the small victory of the capture of an old man.
- The fact that they found a disheveled old man hiding in a tiny cellar puts the lie to American claims that the resistance was being directed by this mad Baathist villain. The resistance can now clearly be seen for what it is: the spontaneous desire of Iraqis from all sorts of factions to be free of the evils of oppression.
- With Saddam gone, the resistance can now redouble its efforts to rid Iraq of the occupying army without the baggage of being identified with the old hated Baathist regime.
- Saddams' testimony, if the Americans let him live long enough to present it, will destroy American claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or any relationship with al-Qaeda. He will also be able to shed light on the relationship between Iraq and the United States, including current members of the Bush Administration. All this news should come out just when Bush is trying to get reelected.
Saddam knows what he has to do to get his revenge, and I hope he gets to live long enough to deliver it.
Saturday, December 13, 2003
Friday, December 12, 2003
"Following 9/11, we heard that Americans finally knew what terror meant to places like Israel. It was not acceptable to suggest that we finally knew what terror meant to places like Guatemala, or Iran, or Vietnam, or Chile, or Palestine, or dozens of other places where civilians have been terrorized by our military and intelligence, or by US-backed regimes using our training and equipment."and (very important, as the racist Zionist definition of terrorism, which has been accepted without any thought or debate, makes it impossible to properly fight it, and thus will lead to American deaths which could have been prevented):
"Our response to the events of 9/11, led by an administration deeply linked to Israel’s right-wing, nudged us into agreement with the popular Israeli excuse: Terrorism is an evil act by other people of inferior blood and/or religion and/or minds driven by an irrational desire to completely destroy us."and (the most evil people - think of the Nazis - are always full of moral self-confidence):
"Fed into our relentless pursuit of political simplification ('the mainstream'), our intelligentsia's world-famous pro-Israel bias has created an America that sees the conflict in Palestine as a fight over a scrap of land between two roughly matched peoples with competing claims. One is imagined as a white democratic ally of the United States, the other as people of color practicing dictatorship, strange religion, and terrorism.
There is no inkling that Israel is the world's last 19th century colony, or that the history of the conflict is one long colonial conquest. Neither the schoolbooks nor the New York Times will divulge this home truth. Nor will they mention what generations of Zionist leaders have made clear to their followers: The Arab inhabitants of greater Palestine must be expelled to make way for the Jewish Homeland.
Having long ago established ethnic cleansing as a moral imperative for the achievement of their Holy goals, the Zionists imagine themselves leading the world in 'purity of arms', frequently declaring that Israel’s is 'the most moral army in the world.' . . .
It has probably been stated as a general rule: When nations begin to make exceptional claims for the 'morality' of their armed forces, they will be found upon examination to be engaged in the most abjectly immoral crimes."
"We are blinded to the daily grind of Israeli violence and the extent of Israeli army control. We aren't told that seven in ten Palestinians make less than two dollars a day, that many villages now suffer alarming rates of malnutrition and disease. Fed denials compounding denial, many of us don't understand why Palestinians resist Israel with a guerilla war of opportunity, sacrifice, and revenge.
Why do they fight with rocks, slingshots, pipe bombs, rifles, and suicide bombs against a nuclear-tipped Israel deploying the latest missiles, depleted uranium munitions and anti-personnel flechettes spewing from tanks, helicopter gunships, F-16s, APCs, hummers, and M-16s, almost all made in the US and custom-fitted for Israel's line of 'rough work'? (9,10)
Why are there Palestinian terrorists? More than half a century of humiliating, covered-up, racist occupation and thievery. It's that simple."
"If Israel were required to obey the law and abandoned its illegal occupations, the position of Palestinian terrorists would be instantly undercut. Funding for Palestinian terrorism, such as it is, would dry up. And it is very clear that Palestinian support for violent resistance would plummet in the advent of an Israeli withdrawal.
The prescription is inevitable. To end the Palestinian terror, and begin to solve our own terror problem, cut it off at its source: Get Israel out of the Palestinian territories and enforce a just peace."
The unthinking acceptance by Americans of the racist definition of terrorism proposed by the Zionists is going to eventually lead the United States into a terrorist disaster. People will look back at 9-11 as 'the good old days' compared to what is coming if Americans don't grow some brains and see that the real problem starts with American-sponsored violence against a group which has decided not to put up with it any longer. We can see the disaster building in Iraq as the same attitudes inspire the American army to increasing acts of counterproductive stupidity. Sadly, I doubt that the political intelligence exists in the United States to crawl out of the 'war on terror' rut, and Americans are doomed to die in large numbers as a result of being stupider than the Zionists.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
- Bush recently gave his big speech on democracy, with the implication that the reason for the American illegal presence in Iraq was to instal American concepts of democracy and freedom there and throughout the Middle East. Since that speech, the Americans have done everything possible to ensure that elections not take place in Iraq. Bush has now cautioned Taiwan against holding a referendum on whether the Taiwanese people want to demand that China withdraw the hundreds of missiles aimed at Taiwan and renounce the use of force against it. There is not even a hint of realization from the Bush Administration that there might be some form of contradiction here, or that Bush's Taiwan policies might put the lie to his position that America is the provider of democracy.
- Countries that opposed the war in Iraq will not be allowed to bid on reconstruction contracts in Iraq. Of course, the United States has no right under international law to dictate the details of the reconstruction of Iraq, and is also party to international trade agreements which make this prohibition a breach of these agreements. The Agreement on Government Procurement, to which the United States, Canada, France and Germany are parties, prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin in government procurement contracts (the Americans are probably trying to fit under the national security exemption in Article XXIII, which seems to be a stretch). The non-binding but influential and American-supported OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (see also here) also support 'National Treatment', which is the commitment by a country to treat enterprises operating on its territory, but controlled by the nationals of another country, no less favorably than domestic enterprises in similar situations. It is in the interests of American business to encourage non-discrimination in tendering, and against American interests to set a precedent of discrimination on the basis of national origin. The announcement of this odd and unnecessarily edict concerning Iraqi procurement, a gratuitous slap at long-standing American allies in Europe (not to mention Canada), was made by Wolfowitz, and it probably represents part of the Zionist plan to drive a permanent wedge between Europe and the United States. It was unnecessary as it is not likely that most corporations could begin reconstruction work in Iraq given the state of security there, and in any event it will not prevent European participation in subcontacts and supply contracts. Any effect it does have will just raise the cost of reconstruction to American taxpayers. It was a pure insult to America's closest allies. The extra insanity of it is that Bush has just sent James Baker to negotiate with these same European countries over forgiveness of the sovereign loans owed by Iraq. It was going to be difficult for Baker to convince the Europeans to take a haircut on these loans, especially as we do not see the United States agreeing to allow other poor countries off the hook, and everyone knows that the sole reason for the reduction of the loans is simply to allow American corporations to steal more money from Iraq. Baker's job will now be impossible. Americans can also probably kiss goodbye any more financial contributions from any of these countries, putting more of the onus on American taxpayers. There is nothing in Wolfowitz's crazy plan that benefits the United States.
- Americans attacked an Afghan house from the air, killing nine children. They apologized. What did they then do? They killed six more children and two adults in a combined air and ground assault on a house. Killing children in air attacks that can't possibly discriminate between enemies and children is the best way to create hatred in the Afghan people.
- Israeli commandos and intelligence units are training American Special Forces units in what amounts to the Israeli specialty of targeted assassinations against those Iraqis who are identified as resistance leaders. The Israeli assassinations have been a disastrous failure in Israel, and will prove to be no less disastrous in Iraq. Assassinated leaders are immediately replaced, and the resistance grows with each death. The crazy part is the fact that the Americans are admitting that they are taking assistance from the Israelis on this. Do they not have any idea how this will be received in Iraq? It is like waiving a red flag in front of a bull. This is the influence of Christian Zionist General Jerry Boykin, who considers the Arabs to be some form of vermin, and no doubt likes the fact his men are being trained by the experts in Arab killing. Along with forced Iraqi recognition of Israel, and the gleeful way American and Israeli officials are discussing opening an oil pipeline from Iraq to Haifa, the Israeli targeted assassinations are the best kind of Iraqi resistance recruitment, not to mention al-Qaeda anti-American terrorist recruitment, that I can imagine.
One of the things that we tend to forget about the Bush Administration - something that is lost amongst all the various forms of venality - is that these people are incredibly stupid.