Tuesday, July 30, 2002

It has been reported that two F-16 jets from Andrews Air Force Base were scrambled early on July 26 after radar detected an unknown aircraft in Washington, D. C. airspace. Local residents reported seeing a "bright blue or orange ball moving very fast, being chased by jets." There had been a UFO incident in Washington, D. C. involving Andrews Air Force Base exactly 50 years before (the first of the two sightings was on July 19, 1952 and the second was on July 26, 1952)), and the Washington Post had reminded everyone of it with an article published on July 21, 2002. Therefore, those inclined to see such things were well primed to see all manner of suspicious lights in the early morning of July 26, 2002. Note that the article was published two days after the fiftieth anniversary of the first 1952 sighting, but five days before the fiftieth anniversary of the second sighting. This is starting to look like the set up of a false UFO incident. After the article was published, people would be looking to the sky on July 26. Say some odd military plane was capable of displaying colored lights and flying around like a UFO. It could be sent up on July 26 with the F-16's in hot pursuit, all being viewed by people looking for such things because of the July 21 Washington Post article. Nothing was ever found "because whatever it was disappeared." But why would the military do this? I quote from the July 27 article:

"'It was a routine launch,' said Lt. Col. Steve Chase, a senior officer with the wing, which keeps pilots and armed jets on 24-hour alert at Andrews to respond to incidents as part of an air defense system protecting Washington after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

Note that the article states "as part of an air defense system protecting Washington after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks" (my emphasis). This little UFO incident, at one fell swoop: 1) proved that Washington was safely protected from harm by the jets at Andrews Air Force Base; and 2) emphasized that Andrews Air Force Base was not in a position to provide such protection prior to September 11, thus explaining why no planes were scrambled from there on the morning of September 11 to intercept Flight 77's attack on the Pentagon. There has been much speculation about why no intercepting jets were sent from Andrews, as it was only 10 miles from the Pentagon. The site The Emperor's New Clothes has written a lot (see here and here and here and here and here, and also this article by George Szamuely) on this issue, and in particular how the original websites for The District of Columbia Air National Guard and the 113th Wing had been oddly altered at some point so as to remove reference to how ready they were to respond in the event of an emergency. We can now see that they are ready to respond, having I guess learned something from the events of September 11. This would not be the first time that a fake UFO flap was used by the military to accomplish propaganda goals.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Someone named James Taranto writes a column on news found on the internet called "Best of the Web Today" for The Wall Street Journal. It is written in the form of a blog, and takes something from the blog world in having a rather personal style. Lately, I've noticed that the style is becoming more and more exaggerated, and the column is almost entirely made up of comments of a rabidly anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stance. The positions he takes against the Palestinians and Saudis are so consistently sarcastic and negative that it often seems like he is trying to parody himself. John R. Bradley of Arab News has also noticed this, and has written a rather scathing comment about it (and Taranto replies in kind). I know everyone has the right to free speech, and if Taranto published this as his own blog I could see no possible objection. I believe that the WSJ editors probably allow him to publish so outrageously as his views probably coincide with certain views of the editors which are so biased that they don't dare publish them in The Wall Street Journal itself. This raises the larger question of whether a large corporation, seeing the increasing popularity of blogs, should be allowed to hide behind the front of the blog format to publish material that it would never dare publish in a regular article or editorial (is this a problem for that oxymoron known as 'journalistic ethics'?). It seems to me that if writing by an employee of an established newspaper bears the name of that paper it should have to meet all the editorial policies of that paper, regardless of the format that it takes. You should not be able to hide behind the blog format. I would like to think that the Taranto column would not pass the regular WSJ editorial tests, and therefore should not be published under the WSJ name. Does The Wall Street Journal not have a reputation to protect? Would it dare publish such biased writing in an article or editorial in the paper itself or even on the main part of its website? No reputable newspaper should be able to print ridiculously biased comments simply because of the format in which they are printed.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

While Zacarias Moussaoui tries to decide whether to allow himself to be railroaded or not, it is interesting to consider just what the evidence is against him. He is facing the death penalty, and the evidence of his wrongdoing in total appears to be as follows:

  1. He is a Muslim.

  2. He took flying lessons and was interested in cropdusting (the fact that he is a Muslim and took flying lessons appears to constitute the new American crime 'Flying While Muslim' (FWM), a crime similar to the much more common 'Driving While Black' (DWB)).

  3. He received money from Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, allegedly a former roommate of Mohamed Atta, and someone wanted by the U. S. and named in court papers as an unindicted hijacking co-conspirator. Al-Shibh allegedly wire transferred the money to Moussaoui from the United Arab Emirates (or possibly Germany) using an alias (how then do the U. S. authorities know who sent the money?). Al-Shibh's German phone number was also found in Moussaoui's laptop. Al-Shibh had allegedly also wired money to Marwan al-Shehhi, the pilot of one of the planes that flew into the World Trade Center. I note that Moussaoui appears to be claiming that the person he received the money from is not al-Shibh. The FBI also claims that Moussaoui got funding from Yazid Sufaat, an alleged al-Qaeda operative in Malaysia who previously had met with two of the 19 hijackers.

  4. He allegedly attended an al-Qaeda-based training camp in Afghanistan three years ago.

There is also the fact that Atta visited (but didn't attend) the same flight school in Norman, Oklahoma that Moussaoui attended, Atta was also interested in cropdusting, and Atta and Moussaoui both purchased the same “flight deck” instructional videos for the Boeing 747 from the same retailer in Ohio. On the basis of this evidence, and apparently nothing more, the prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Moussaoui. Back in the good old days of about a year ago when the United States still had a Constitution, before the days when you could convict a man merely by yelling 'terrorist', prosecutors used to have to actually prove that the defendant committed a crime. Moussaoui may have actually been up to something, but it is difficult to see how prosecutors can prove anything against him on the basis of the evidence they seem to have (and hints are being dropped that at least the investigators are unsure that the evidence against Moussaoui is sufficient for a conviction). Receiving money from questionable people does not, or at least did not at the time, constitute a crime. The 19 September 11 hijackers seemed to make a point of being seen together. As Moussaoui didn't associate with any of the 19 hijackers, I don't feel he was part of the September 11 hijacking group - the irony is that Moussaoui may be completely innocent of the September 11 hijacking because, unlike the others, he was a member of al-Qaeda, or perhaps more accurately, he was only a member of al-Qaeda. There is a new report that Moussaoui actually was seen with Atta in Norman, Oklahoma around August 1, 2001. If this were true, it would be the evidence the prosecution needs to tie Moussaoui to the hijackers. It is odd that in the absence of any real evidence that Moussaoui committed a crime that the prosecution didn't grab onto this evidence as the main part of their case. Of course, the main problem with the story is that Atta was supposed to be in South Florida around August 1 (he arrived back in the United States from Madrid on July 19, asked about cropdusting planes at an airstrip in Belle Glade, Florida in early August, and rented a car from Warrick's Rent-a-Car, Pompano Beach on August 6). Since one of the main problems with the Official Story of September 11 is Atta's strange ability to be in more than one place at the same time, the U. S. authorities may be afraid of this evidence linking Moussaoui to Atta. It would be highly ironic if the only evidence that Moussaoui is linked to the September 11 hijackers can't be used for fear that it would undermine the whole Official Story concerning the identity of Mohamed Atta.

Friday, July 26, 2002

I've now examined the lives of Mohamed Atta (also here and here and here), Saeed Alghamdi, Waleed Alshehri, and Ziad Samir Jarrah (not to mention Ali Mohamed and Zacarias Moussaoui, and comments on general problems with the hijacking group). It is notable that at least the hijackers who called themselves 'Saeed Alghamdi' and 'Waleed Alshehri' were using stolen identities, and I strongly suspect that the identities of Atta and Jarrah were stolen as well. The most unusual cases are the two brothers, Waleed and Wael Alshehri, and their childhood friend, Saeed Alghamdi. We know that at least Waleed Alshehri and Saeed Alghamdi became pilots and are still alive, and therefore had their identities stolen to be used by the hijackers on September 11. How was this possible? How would the people who stole the identities know which ones to steal, and how would they know that these identities were of Saudi pilots of middle-class background who knew each other as children? There would have to be a database of young men of middle-class Saudi background, possibly even including information on those who knew each other in childhood. This data would have to be cross-checked against a database of Saudi pilots, and further cross-checked against a list of Saudi pilots studying or planning to study in the United States (probably using a database of U. S. visas). The names of Waleed Alshehri and Saeed Alghamdi would have popped out. It would then be easy to steal their identification papers while they studied in the United States, and assign these identities to operatives who would then build composite identifications based on the stolen identifications, leaving a U. S. paper trail with driver's licenses, credit cards, various run-ins with authorities (the run-ins are probably not an accident), and associating together with others in the group of operatives in a public way. I suspect that there exists a whole library of stolen identifications that could be used for differing situations (in other words, it is possible that these identifications weren't stolen to order, but were on the shelf ready to be used as needed - talk about 'sleeper cells'!). To construct these identities, one would need to have access to both Saudi and U. S. databases. Do you think al-Qaeda could have done this?

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

We are now getting a more detailed report of communication between Amy Sweeney, a flight attendant on Flight 11 (which crashed into the WTC on September 11), and American Airlines ground manager Michael Woodward (here is an early account of the conversation which notably misses a key element, and here is a longer recent article). Here's the interesting paragraph:

"Sweeney told Woodward the hijackers seemed to be of Middle Eastern descent and said they had gone into the cockpit with a bomb with yellow wires attached."

A bomb with yellow wires attached. The Mark Bingham phone call to his mother from Flight 93 said that the three men said that they had a bomb (and Tom Burnett in his call said: "They say there's a bomb."), but this revelation from Amy Sweeney is the first evidence released that there actually was a bomb on one of the planes (a story that there was a gun on Flight 11 has been denied). Edward Jay Epstein has already written to demolish the fiction that there was any evidence that the hijackers used only boxcutters and plastic knives in their operation. As he writes, in referring to this lie which he calls a 'fictoid': "Not only does it serve to shield the airlines, airports and airport screeners from massive liability from the victims at the World Trade Center, it protects the Bush Administration by diverting attention away from concern that airport security at three Federally-supervised airports was dangerously lax." It is amazing how successfully this lie has become accepted as part of the Official Story of September 11. It has appeared to me from the outset that these hijackers must have been well armed for their operation. It was simply too risky to rely on boxcutters alone. On top of the liability problem which the boxcutter lie helped to solve, it also neatly dealt with three other problems:

  1. If the hijackers had been heavily armed with guns and explosives, the heroic story of how the passengers managed to fight the hijackers on Flight 93 (the one that crashed into Pennsylvania) would not have made much sense, and the attack by the passengers was needed to explain why the plane crashed without having been shot down by the U. S. military. I think the deep reason the U. S. government doesn't want to admit that it shot down Flight 93 is that it would raise questions in people's minds about why the other planes weren't intercepted. While there may have been more time to shoot down Flight 93 than the other planes, there should have been sufficient time to intercept all of them, and especially Flight 77 (the one that is supposed to have hit the Pentagon, a story I still don't buy).

  2. If the hijackers managed to have weapons on the planes it raises the issue of corruption in the airport security systems. In particular, it raises the issue of whether the hijackers had managed to infiltrate the security systems (there is even an odd report that John Doe No. 2 of Oklahoma City bombing fame went to work at Logan Airport!), or whether they had as accomplices the organized crime elements that regularly corrupt airport security for the purposes of drug smuggling and stealing from baggage. The issue of accomplices raises all kinds of issues that the U. S. government would rather not face (and there are even darker views of the Logan Airport security, although I don't know what to make of this as it hints at some sort of conspiracy without any proof).

  3. The boxcutter story greatly simplifies the official solution to the problems raised by September 11, which is to obviously increase security measures at airports (and ban boxcutters and small knives). By imposing heavy-handed security measures (with the accompanying tales of searching people who obviously are not potential hijackers), the government manages to convey an illusion of security and keeps the airline industry afloat. Of course, if the hijackers didn't need to bring any weapons through security as the weapons were already planted on the planes, it becomes immediately obvious that the new security measures are a sham. The sad thing is that all this inconvenience may just be a method of hiding the real danger from the flying public.

Monday, July 22, 2002

The actor who played the September 11 terrorist 'Saeed Alghamdi' presumably died in Pennsylvania when Flight 93 crashed there. He was one of the first group of terrorists to be linked to bin Laden. He had an interesting life:

  1. The original, and to my mind still the best, Saeed Alghamdi grew up in Saudi Arabia with his boyhood friends, brothers Wael and Waleed Alshehri, two boys who would also grow up to be terrorists. He went on to train as a pilot. He is still very much alive, and works for Tunis Air. Obviously, at some point his identity was stolen. It is very interesting to note, to quote the Telegraph article, that:

    "The FBI had published his personal details but with a photograph of somebody else, presumably a hijacker who had 'stolen' his identity. CNN, however, showed a picture of the real Mr Al-Ghamdi."

    It makes you really wonder how this type of confusion could have occurred, but the fact there are two photos clearly proves that identity theft had occurred. Alghamdi thinks that "CNN had probably got the picture from the Flight Safety flying school he attended in Florida." He had studied in Florida from 1998 to 1999 and then returned home and worked for Saudi Arabian Airlines. In August 2000, he returned to the U.S. for further training. The striking thing, and something that is of the utmost importance in our understanding what is going on here, is that he grew up with two boys whose identities were also stolen, and at least one of them, Waleed Alshehri, also became a pilot and is also still alive. In other words, the intelligence agency who stole the identities knew enough to steal identities from people who grew up together in Saudi Arabia, and later went on to train as pilots, taking some training in the United States. This would be excellent evidence that the hijackers were the original Saeed and Waleed, except we know both of these people are still alive. I have to tip my hat to whoever created these identities, as they knew enough to pick exactly the right identities to steal, and had to have unbelievable Saudi intelligence sources to do this. These people are good at what they do.

  2. The most intriguing Saeed Alghamdi may have been a student at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. This is a U. S. government school used to train the military in languages. It used to be called the Monterey Language School, and it is possible but a matter of some debate that no less than Lee Harvey Oswald attended there (we can't be sure as Oswald's military records were 'lost'). My guess is that the actor who played Saeed Alghamdi went to this school as part of his usual military training. As foreign students of countries who were allies of the United States could be invited to go there, it may have even been intended to leave the option open to depict Alghamdi as working for some Middle Eastern country if they needed an excuse to blame some government there. The most telling thing about the school is that the fellow who recently made the headlines for daring to criticize Bush for 9-11 was vice chancellor for student affairs there. In other words, this isn't just some guy in the military with an opinion, this is a guy with special knowledge about people like Saeed Alghamdi. If he wondered publicly about Bush's role in 9-11, we have to take his words very seriously.

  3. Someone called Saeed Alghamdi was living in Patterson, New Jersey in the apartment of Hani Hanjour.

  4. In 1992 (probably too early for the real Alghamdi), someone named Saeed Alghamdi used the Social Security number of a Vermont woman who had been dead for almost 30 years.

  5. A Saeed Alghamdi lived in the Delray Beach, Florida area with Ahmed Alnami and Hamza Alghamdi (on one account from late 1992 on, although it is impossible or very unlikely that the real Saeed Alghamdi could have lived there that far back as he is too young). In an amazing coincidence, the wife of the editor of the Sun tabloid, where one employee died from anthrax, found the apartment for Saeed Alghamdi and Marwan Al-Shehhi ( but note that another report says the apartment was found for Marwan Al-Shehhi and Hamza Alghamdi).

  6. Saeed Alghamdi lived in December 1996 in Chino Hills in Orange County, California.

  7. Saeed Alghamdi may have trained at a school operated by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (this may very well be the real Saeed Alghamdi as we know he took training in the United States).

  8. Saeed Alghamdi lived in San Antonio, Texas, and, ever the linguist, may have graduated from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base.

  9. Saeed Alghamdi lived from 1988 to 1991 in Florham Park, New Jersey. At that time, he had a wife and children, and was working for a pharmaceutical company. When he left the apartment, he told his landlord he'd been transferred to the midwest. This could not be the real Saeed Alghamdi, who is just 26 or 27 years old and is an airline pilot.

  10. Saeed Alghamdi lived in Pensacola, Florida and listed his address as 10 Radford Blvd. on Pensacola NAS, a base road on which residences for foreign- military flight trainees are located. (The Pensacola News Journal article states that the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity, which administers training of foreign aviation students for the Navy, is headquartered in Pensacola and that fifteen percent of aviation students on any given day are foreign nationals.) Saeed Alghamdi and fellow terrorist Ahmed Alghamdi are listed as living in housing for foreign military trainees at Pensacola Naval Air Station. Saeed Alghamdi, Ahmad Alnami and Ahmed Alghamdi all may have trained in Pensacola. While any one terrorist's name associated with an institution may be a coincidence and refer to another man, can three terrorist's names training at the same U. S. military training center be a coincidence?

  11. Saeed Alghamdi in fact may have lived at two addresses near Pensacola Regional Airport, one a few miles north of the airport and another a few hundred feet away.

  12. Saeed Alghamdi was associated with suspected terrorist Raed Hijazi, a former Boston cab driver convicted in Jordan for a plot to kill Americans and other tourists in Jordan on Jan. 1, 2000 (Hijazi may also have been in charge of training the terrorists responsible for the attack on the USS Cole). Saeed Alghamdi may have lived in the Boston area.

  13. Saeed Alghamdi lived in Vero Beach, Florida.

  14. Saeed Alghamdi worked at Tyndall Air Force Base near Tallahassee, Fla.

  15. Saeed Alghamdi may have travelled to the Philippines, presumably to meet with other terrorists there.

Although it is somewhat amazing, it appears that the identities of Saeed Alghamdi and Waleed Alshehri were stolen because they grew up together in Saudi Arabia and both became pilots. The real Saeed Alghamdi claims that his photo must have been stolen when he was in the United States on flight training. However, someone was possibly using his identity well before he ever entered the United States. In any event, a whole troop of actors may be playing the role of 'Saeed Alghamdi', in various places and at various times. Some of these were probably just people with the same name, but we can be sure that many of them can be tied to the terrorist, especially where more than one terrorist name is associated with the same place. A composite identity seems to have been built on the original stolen identity, with the identity filled out by attending military language school, taking flight training in the United States, and hanging out with members of the known September 11 terrorist group. The actor also made contact with other suspected terrorists (Nabil al-Marabh and Raed Hijazi). The actor who played Saeed Alghamdi is particularly suspicious for three reasons:

  • the fact that his identity was stolen to work in tandem with the stolen identity of Waleed Alshehri;

  • the fact that he may have attended U. S. military language school, and the fact that the head of the school in Monterey got in trouble for criticizing Bush; and

  • the sheer number of places he lived in and people he made contact with.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met with George Bush in April, 2002 at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, and, for a very short time, Bush's Middle East policy became a little more 'balanced', though no where near what the Saudis were looking for. The Crown Prince no doubt explained the facts of life to Bush - that the U. S. economy was sailing on a mix of a high dollar (propped up by the fact that the dollar is the international currency for oil transactions), and trillions of dollars of petro-wealth poured back into the U. S. economy by Arab nations. I quote from an article by Arjun Makhijani:
The flow of oil as well as the position of the U.S. dollar as a global currency are dependent on Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). OPEC’s decision . . . to denominate the price of oil in U.S. dollars, is one of the anchors of the U.S dollar. In the present crisis, the states of the Persian Gulf may be pushed by their people to follow the 1999 example of Saddam Hussein, who asked to be paid for Iraqi oil in euros, the new European currency. If OPEC decides to denominate the price of oil in euros, the effect on the U.S. and world economies could be profoundly de-stabilizing, with unpredictable economic, political, and military consequences.
The Crown Prince later noted that Bush was an idiot (he used more polite words, but the meaning was clear), but seemed to understand what he was told. Unfortunately, almost as soon as the Crown Prince left, Bush forgot the value of his Arab friends, and adopted the current U. S policy on the Middle East, which is basically giving Sharon carte blanche to do whatever he wants to the Palestinians, promising the Palestinians a country if they can meet certain preconditions which Sharon can ensure they cannot meet, and having free Palestinian elections as long as the Palestinians elect someone that Bush likes. This policy has angered everyone in the world except the Israelis. The triumphalist U. S. opinion seems to be that Arab threats are just bombast, as there is nothing that they can do to the U. S. Empire. Therefore, Bush is free to cater to the U. S. fundamentalist voters who want the area of Greater Israel ethnically cleansed of Palestinians for religious reasons. Everyone seems to have very vague theories about the current U. S. economic problems, and I'm wondering if the answer isn't fairly simple. Is it in any way possible that the current U. S. dollar and stock market problems are a result of Arab nations starting to sell their oil denominated in Euros rather than U. S. Dollars, or at least threatening to do so, and withdrawing large amounts of money from the U. S. stock markets to invest elsewhere (other countries may also be deciding to fight U. S. hegemony and unilateralism by starting to hold their reserves in Euros rather than the traditional U. S. Dollars)? If this is so, could Bush's policy decisions make him the President who presided over a Dow of say, 4500? Does he want to be the new Herbert Hoover? The United States could enter a twenty-year recession, and it may take that long for a Republican to be elected President again. I note that the Arabs have presented yet another peace initiative, and Bush has been encouraging. It will be interesting to see if the Arabs have enough economic power over the United States to affect U. S. foreign policy.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

More thoughts on the LAX El Al shooting:

  1. A report states: "LAPD Lieutenant Horace Franks said two people were in LAPD custody for questioning. They were likely to be turned over to the FBI as the federal agency assumed the lead on the investigation." What happened to these people?

  2. Another report states: "The assailant was identified on the basis of information found in his car at an airport parking lot some eight hours after the shooting. US authorities had spent hours trying to pin down the gunman's identity and motive." If he wasn't carrying any identification and it took eight hours to find information in his car, how did they know so quickly that he was 52 (especially since he was 41)?

  3. The Egyptian account is given in this report: "Egyptian security services have told Hadayet's father that the shooting incident 'was due to financial problems with El Al', his cousin, Emad al-Omda, said on Saturday. The Israeli airline had been late in paying for two limousines it had rented from Hadayet's service, he said. 'He is a pious Muslim, but he is not at all extremist. The proof of this is that he agreed to work with the Israeli company El Al.'" On the other hand, it has apparently been reported in a London-based Arabic newspaper called Al-Hayat that Hadayet had met with suspected terrorist Ayman al-Zawahri, the founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and possibly the leader of al-Qaeda, in 1995 and 1998. (By the way, doesn't it seem that the Egyptians have a lot to answer for? Besides Ayman al-Zawahri, others to come out of Egypt of current interest are Arafat, Mohamed Atta, Ali Mohamed, the co-pilot of EgyptAir Flight 990, and now, Hadayet.)

  4. Another article states: "A witness to the July 4 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport says he heard the gunman twice calmly say 'Allah u Akbar' before he began firing at the El Al Israel Airlines ticket counter." On the other hand, five to ten witnesses who were at least as close did not hear the gunman say anything.

  5. Another article states: "LAPD Lt. Horace Frank told reporters that two individuals were in custody and being questioned; it remained unclear as to whether the gunman acted alone." In what may explain reports of a second suspect, it goes on to say: "There were unconfirmed reports that a second suspect was being sought, however Baez said police on the scene might have been exercising extreme caution in following up on reports from stunned passengers, many of whom did not speak English." It went on to say: "One man, wearing long sideburns and a blue shirt, was seen being taken away in the back of a police car. His role in the incident was not revealed." However, the most interesting statement is the following: "A Miami man identified only as 'Mr. Park,' who was on his way to Korea, described pandemonium in the area as passengers hit the deck or bolted for the exits. 'I thought he was running away and the police were chasing him,' Park said." This seems to be inconsistent with the Official Story that he was apprehended by El Al security right at the ticket counter.

Witnesses are notoriously unreliable, but there are enough inconsistencies between various reported witness and police accounts that it seems likely that at the very least the police have not released the whole story of the LAX shooting. Besides Hadayet, there appears to be involvement by a man of 52, possibly with a pony tail, and a man wearing long sideburns and a blue shirt. I don't know whether Hadayet was a patsy, an innocent bystander, or part of the operation (he is said to have needed money), but the story that he was the 'lone gunman' seems questionable. I'd really like to see security video of the scene. It has struck me that if I were ever to plan such an operation I would try to mislead the investigation by planting a prank call that could be later used to confuse what really happened in the mind of the public.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

The whole LAX El Al shooting story is getting weirder and weirder. The Americans want to categorize it as something other than an act of terrorism, presumably because they want to take credit for U. S. security leading to a terror-free Fourth of July. The Israelis want it to be categorized as a terrorist and anti-Semitic act by an Islamic fundamentalist, as that supports the general Israeli view that the Israelis are victims of the same terror that the Americans experienced on September 11, and that the war on terror should be a war against the Palestinians and Saddam Hussein (the Israelis already have the gunman connected with al-Qaeda and Hamas - soon they'll probably find he is Arafat's long lost son!). The joker in all this is that there was apparently a call made to CNN while it was live on the air by a fan of the Howard Stern radio show. This was part of an inside joke, and depended on the description of the shooter given by the hoaxer (an overweight white male with a pony-tail) matching the description of the comedian who is the butt of the joke (the joke is that the shooter was shooting in frustration as his spot as a comedian on the Howard Stern show had been taken by another comedian named 'Artie'). Credit is now being taken for actually misleading the press with this joke, and fooling the reporters into reporting that the shooter was an overweight white man with a pony tail, when actually, as we are all supposed to know, it was a immigrant who was Egyptian and devoutly Islamic. Fear of being made fun of for falling for the hoax has made people wary about thinking about what really happened. Here is what we know:

  1. One original report was that the gunman was white, pony-tailed and aged 52, and that his identity was known. This report is not confused by the 'Artie' hoax, as it makes mention of it. Hadayat, the supposed shooter, was 41, not likely to be confused with 52 (where did the 52 come from?). It mentions that there had been a dispute about identification documents before the shooting. It also says that one theory being explored was that the man was a disgruntled airport worker.

  2. An early report said the police had two people in custody. Another report stated: "Byron Tucker, a spokesman for Gov. Gray Davis, said one person was arrested, but FBI spokesman Rich Garcia said it appears the gunman acted alone." Since the gunman was dead, if one person was arrested, there may have been two people involved.

  3. Another report is similar, although the gunman is described as being 52 years old, although he had no identification with him. Presumably they determined his age by cutting him in half and counting the rings.

  4. Yet another report contains the prank information as fact, and apparently doesn't realize that it has been fooled.

  5. Another report, again before the shooter was identified, described him as middle aged and in a business suit with dark complexion, and raises the issue that the gunman may have been involved in an argument over his identification documents in the moments before the shooting started.

  6. Another report says that the gunmen may have had an accomplice, according to the LAPD.

  7. An important account contains the following: "Ralph Rodriguez, a spokesman for Mexicana Airlines, whose ticket counter is adjacent to El Al's, said that a Mexicana supervisor had overheard the gunman having a heated argument at the El Al counter, apparently involving his documentation. Soon afterward, the shooting started, Rodriguez said."

  8. One report says the gunman was the fourth person in line at the ticket counter for El Al when he started shooting. He was armed with a .45-caliber semiautomatic Glock pistol, a 9 mm handgun and a 6-inch knife.

  9. Another report says the shooter was only shot dead after he was disarmed and being held down on the floor, a report that is also reflected in this graphic. Is it normal to shoot the assailant after he has been disarmed and is being held down? I guess it saves a lot of money in trials.

  10. Another report refers to a witness, Robin Berglund, who told CNN he heard 8 to 12 gunshots — a short burst followed by several more shots. When he looked over the balcony edge, he saw three people down, including a middle-aged man in a suit surrounded by security people.

  11. Another report contains a statement by a witness: "There were a number of plainclothes policemen who pulled out guns and their badges at the same time."

  12. The shooting is eventually blamed on a 41 year-old man named Hesham Mohamed Hadayet

I'd be a little curious about the prank caller. Did he make up the funny story and call the whole thing in to CNN immediately upon hearing there was a shooting? Or did he make it up when he heard that the shooter was a pony-tailed white man, made the connection in his mind to the identity of the subject of his joke, and then called it in? In other words, the fact that the hoaxer managed to add false data to the report doesn't necessarily mean that the original untainted reporting didn't refer to a pony-tailed white man. The official story looks like this. Predictably, Hadayet's wife cannot explain his actions. Here is my wild conjecture:

  • Hadayet is called to make a pick up at the El Al ticket counter.

  • The minute he walks in to the area, a white man with a pony tail pulls out a gun and starts shooting.

  • The target of the shooting is either a specific person who would be at the ticket counter at that time (remember the diamond importer had come to the airport to drop someone off for a flight - it is not impossible that he was set up to be there at that time) or the business of El Al itself (I can see a blackmail scheme being set up by the mafia - or should that be mafiya? - where El Al has to pay protection money for its ticket counters not to get shot up).

  • In the confusion, Hadayet is also shot by the gunman or by someone else.

  • The gunman is supposed to escape, but doesn't count on such a quick response from security, and is killed. It is also possible that an accomplice is arrested and released.

In the current climate of paranoia, Hadayet makes a great patsy, and all manner of wild Islamic ideas can be ascribed to him. The stories make it clear that the guns have been registered to Hadayet, and the original picture we see of him is supposed to have come off his gun licence, but these things can be lied about or faked. There are some obvious unanswered questions:

  • What was the whole story behind the prank call?

  • What was Hadayet wearing when he was killed? If he wasn't wearing a suit, why is the shooter described as wearing a suit? If he wasn't wearing a suit, where did he hide all his weapons and ammunition?

  • Was there a second person involved, a person who may have been arrested?

  • Where did the idea that the gunman was 52 come from, especially as he wasn't carrying identification and Hadayet was 41? Looking at his picture, would you describe him as a middle-aged man?

  • If Hadayet was working in Los Angeles while his family vacationed in Egypt, why would he be having an argument about his documentation at an El Al ticket counter?

  • Who were the plainclothes policemen who pulled out their guns and badges at the same time? Were these just the El Al security agents?

  • Was it necessary to kill him when he was on the ground being restrained and apparently disarmed? A lot of evidence was destroyed when he died.

Monday, July 15, 2002

Here is an article from May 2000 on the role of the CIA and al-Qaeda in the Balkans, specifically Albania and Kosovo (they were also in Bosnia). Note the following:

  1. In 1999, Afghanistan surpassed Burma as the world's largest producer of opium poppies. The heroin base went through Iran to Turkey, where it was refined, and then through FYR Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania en route to western European markets.

  2. There is good reason to believe that heroin smuggling financed Albanian separatists (the KLA) in Kosovo, and the CIA was aware of this. The CIA provided the KLA with training and support.

  3. Albanians controlled a large percentage of the European heroin market.

  4. US Defence Secretary William Cohen had to cancel a planned 1989 visit to Albania because of the danger that he would be assassinated by bin Laden operatives.

  5. One of the leaders of an elite KLA unit was Muhammed al-Zawahiri, the brother of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Al-Jihad al-Islami) and possibly the real leader of al-Qaeda.

  6. "It is believed that bin Laden solidified his organization in Albania in 1994 with the help of then premier Sali Berisha. Albania’s ties to Islamic terrorist blossomed during Berisha's rule when the main KLA training base was on Berisha's property in northern Albania. During the "honeymoon" period between the CIA and Jihad holy warriors, Fatos Klosi, the head of SHIK [the Albanian national security organization, which appears to do the bidding of the CIA], said he had reliable information that four groups of Jihad warriors from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algiers, Tunisia and Sudan were in northern Albania and fighting with the KLA."

  7. It appears that CIA support for Albanian separatist drug smugglers was part of a world-wide plan to use drug profits to finance local groups whose insurrectionary activities furthered U. S. geopolitical aims.

The problems with Albanian separatists continue in Kosovo and in Macedonia. The connections of bin Laden with Kosovar terrorists have even been used by Milosevic in his current trial in claiming that he was really just fighting bin Laden in Kosovo (and was thus just a very early supporter of Bush's war on terror!). The Taliban had managed to stop most of the heroin poppy production in Afghanistan, but the warlords now in charge have restored production. It is not difficult to see one of the goals of the war in Afghanistan as the resumption of the heroin trafficking system from Afghanistan to Europe using Albanian middlemen. This satisfies the CIA Balkan geopolitical goals, and also reestablishes the successful al-Qaeda model of financing using a combination of narco-terrorism and organized crime. This financing model was first used in the ISI/CIA-promoted plan to remove the Soviets from Afghanistan using the mujahadeen, the project where bin Laden first came to prominence. We're never going to understand the relationships between bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the CIA, the ISI, and the American government until we start to come to grips with the drug-trafficking angle.

Saturday, July 13, 2002

There are at least four areas of exposure for George Bush in his involvement with Harken Energy. Two of these can seriously hurt or destroy Bush, and two are red herrings intended to hide the real problems. The press coverage is all over the map, with some articles focussing on the red herrings with no mention of the serious problems. These are probably planted stories by the Bush Administration. On the other hand, we are also seeing major papers zeroing in on the real problems, which is an indication to me that the powers that be are getting tired of Bush's act. It some ways, this story may follow a Watergate trajectory, where the avidity of the attack by the Washington Post signified that the powers that be wanted to be rid of Nixon. I am so cynical about the mainstream American press that I believe that it is absolutely impossible for it to publish any deeply true articles without the say-so of certain people, but apparently that say-so has been given here. The two red herrings are:

  1. The failure to file the second SEC form on time. The fact that the filing was so late and undated probably evidences some guilt, but no one is going to get too excited about what amounts to a technical error over ten years ago. It is too easy to blame it on a clerk or a lawyer, and the SEC didn't get too upset about it at the time.

  2. The loans made by Harken to Bush to allow him to exercise his stock options. While it is ironic to find that Bush received such loans when Bush has complained about them, and it is clear that they were a benefit to Bush, Harken could have given Bush the same benefit simply by paying him more in salary. No one is going to get upset about this, and Bush is right when he says this was corporate behaviour at the time.

If you see any journalists making a big deal out of these issues without raising the real problems, I fear you are reading part of a propaganda campaign to hide Bush's real Harken problems (documents on the problems are available here). The two real problems are:

  1. The fact that Bush sold his shares in Harken on the basis of insider knowledge ('material non-public information') that Harken was in terrible financial shape. This is always a difficult thing to prove, and Bush is as qualified as anyone in the United States to claim that he was just too stupid to see what was going on. He claims that he was unaware of the company's problems when he sold his shares in June 1990. On the other hand, we know that Bush was a director of Harken, was on the audit committee, and was appointed to a 'fairness committee' of the board of Harken specifically to consider the effects of the restructuring of Harken necessitated by the terrible financial problems it had. "In 1994, another member of both committees, E. Stuart Watson, assured reporters that he and Mr. Bush were constantly made aware of the company's finances". We also know he received specific warning from the in-house counsel of Harken not to sell shares on the basis of insider information. He received two letters from top Harken officials in April and May of 1990 stating: 1) the company was in a "liquidity crisis", was at risk of failure in its share offering due to a decline in oil prices, and was suffering an "eleventh hour cram down" by its bank due to 'technical' defaults in its loan agreement (pdf of the letter dated April 20, 1990 from Mikel D. Faulkner to the Board of Directors of Harken) ; and 2) it was in trouble with its banker because it "was in a state of non-compliance with regard to loan covenants", and it was seeking from its bank "permanent waivers of various loan covenant violations" (pdf of the letter dated May 18, 1990 from Bruce N. Huff to the 'special committee' that Bush was on). Note also that even in its self-serving explanation to the SEC of what it was up to, Harken admits it was in a "severe cash crisis" in late June 1990, and was generally in all kinds of difficult negotiations concerning the sham transaction I refer to below, all of which was presumably unknown to the public, and all of which was going on at exactly the same time that Bush sold his shares.

  2. The most important Harken issue was the 1989 sham sale of 80% of a Harken subsidiary to insiders of Harken, with the purchase price being lent by Harken to the insiders. No actual money had to change hands (but I bet the lawyers had cheques on the boardroom table in the closing room to ensure everything was on the up and up, and some of the purchase price may have been real), and this has every appearance of being a fraud on the non-insider shareholders of Harken to improve the looks of its financial statements and artificially maintain its share price. No real purchaser would have bought the interest in the subsidiary at the inflated price (and I'll bet the insider purchasers had the right to put the shares back to Harken at some future time in return for cancellation of the debt). What they effectively did was inflate the value of a company asset and turn it into a receivable from the purchaser. To show how fraudulent this is, they could have done the same thing with a rock picked up off the Harken parking lot. All they would have had to do was agree with an insider to purchase the rock for a millions of dollars, lend the money for the purchase, and make a big sale and profit which they could use on their financial statements (they would unwind the transaction when the company's financial picture was better). Bush would have had to know about this transaction, and still benefitted from the artificially inflated share price when he sold his shares in 1990. What is even more interesting is that the original transaction started to unravel due to unanticipated environmental problems (my guess is that the insider purchasers hadn't counted on this liability, and were using whatever leverage they had, possibly a put agreement, to renegotiate the deal), and negotiations to fix the problem on terms less favorable to Harken, described in the memorandum to the SEC I refer to above, were actually going on at the time of the Bush sale of his shares. I'd really like to see all the documents on this transaction.

The key is to keep pounding on the real problems, and don't get sidetracked by the red herrings. The public can easily see that the SEC investigation was a sham by regulators beholden to Bush's father (see the whitewash SEC internal memorandum), and will have no problem seeing the injustice and fraud in Bush's Harken adventures as long as the story is not messed up with irrelevancies. First, you get rid of Cheney as the sheer mass and outrageousness of the Haliburton problems while Cheney was in charge should be enough to get him to resign 'for his health'. You replace him with Colin Powell. Then you get rid of Bush. Colin Powell will make a great President.

Friday, July 12, 2002

More on the amazing investment that Bush had in Harken Energy:

  1. Bush founded his first company, Arbusto Energy, in 1982, with the significant help of Bush family friends. After his father became Vice President, he changed the name to Bush Exploration Oil Co. The change of name didn't help, and the company was bailed out by being bought by Spectrum 7, owned by his friend from Yale, William DeWitt Jr. Spectrum 7 was another loser, and was bought out by Harken in 1986. Harken has had a colorful history of investors, including, at various times, Jackson Stephens, James Bath, George Soros, Arab investors linked to BCCI and the bin Laden family, and the investment arm of Harvard University.

  2. Although Bush has asserted that he hardly knew Kenneth Lay, Harken was developing oil wells with Lay's company Enron as early as 1986 or 1987.

  3. After Bush obtained his initial 212,000 shares in Harken, Harken granted him an option to purchase 80,000 more shares, an option which Bush exercised by borrowing $96,000 from Harken. He went through the same procedure to purchase more shares in 1988. He pledged the original Harken shares and the new option-granted shares as security for the loans. In 1989, Harken changed the terms of the loans so Bush was able to repay them by returning the shares, and released Bush's original shares from the pledge. Much is being made of this transaction, but it seems to me to be much less important than later Bush actions in Harken, and the issue may be a smoke screen to hide Bush's more serious problems. Although this kind of thing is one of the corporate abuses that Bush has recently spoken against, I think most people could rationalize it as merely another form of executive compensation.

  4. Here's where the accounting gets very interesting. With Arthur Andersen as auditor, and Bush a director on the audit committee, Harken arranged in 1989 to sell a subsidiary to a related company, and lent the purchaser the money to make the purchase. The purchase price was inflated, and the effect of the sham transaction was to improve the apparent financial position of Harken, thus supporting the share price. This fraudulent (for there is no other way to describe it) transaction eventually bought Bush sufficient time to dispose of his shares at a high price (Bush was smart enough to wait until 1990 to dispose of the shares, and in fact appeared to do so just in advance of other bad financial information being released, information which Bush knew couldn't be hidden). As he was a director of Harken and on the audit committee, he could not possibly be unaware of the fraudulent sale. In fact, the whole transaction seems custom-designed solely for the purpose of letting Bush sell his shares at a fraudulently high price. Unlike the forgiven loans made to Bush by Harken, I think anyone can see this as a real example of criminal behaviour (the SEC eventually made Harken restate its financials).

  5. The press has mostly ignored the main issue, and has reported Bush's problems as relating to his late (and undated) SEC filing. Bush was alerted by Harken's general counsel in early 1990 of stiffer SEC filing requirements for insiders. In June, before the share price fell, Bush sold 212,000 shares at $4 each (Martha Stewart is in massive trouble for about a quarter of the amount involved in the Bush sale). After Harken released bad financial information in August, the share price fell to $2.37. He filed the first SEC filing requirement in timely manner, but waited months before filing the second. He has recently blamed this delay on an SEC error, then on his lawyer's error. It strikes me that this is again a diversion to hide the real problem. Insider trading reports are so often filed late that most people don't see late filing as a serious problem (note the detailed New York Times chart, which notes the loans and the late insider-trading filing, but makes no mention of the really serious problem - to be fair, Krugman's article in the same newspaper makes the important point perfectly clear). The issue has been muddied by the fact that there were two troubling areas of Harken reporting. Bush is being blamed for selling before the August 1990 financial information was released. This may in fact be improper use of insider information, and there is reason to believe that Bush was well aware of the extremely serious problems at Harken (of course the improper use of insider information is a different crime than failing to file), but the serious fraudulent scam is selling the shares on a share price that Bush had to have known was inflated by the 1989 scam transaction.

  6. Almost certainly solely due to the fact that Bush was his father's son, Harken was granted offshore oil exploration rights in Bahrain by the Sheikh of Bahrain. This was announced one month after Bush sold his shares in Harken (and this fact is often used by Bush supporters to defend him against insider-trading allegations). Harken was so utterly incompetent to look for oil offshore that it engaged the Bass family to actually do the exploration work, and the work was financed by more money from the Bass family and from Harvard. The wells that were drilled were dry, and Harken never benefitted from the Bahrain deal, but it gave Bush a nice excuse. Of course, this excuse again is misleading as it points us to the June 1990 problem, when the real problem is probably the 1989 sham sale of a subsidiary of Harken. It is also another example of the mysterious ties of the Bush family to oily Sheikhs.

  7. One of the weirdest things in a very weird situation is that Bush is supposed to have gotten a cold call from a broker asking if Bush was prepared to sell his Harken shares. Bush sold "more than 2,000% times the average 1990 daily share volume on June 22, yet the share price never budged -- indicating that the insider stock sale was pre-arranged or pre-negotiated." The broker has never revealed who the purchaser was except to say it was an institutional investor. Speculation is that it was again the investment arm of Harvard University, Harvard Management. This was a mystifyingly bad investment, but may be explained by the fact that Robert Stone, Jr. was three things: 1) a director of Harvard Management; 2) a Connecticut neighbor of daddy Bush; and 3) former chairman of Kirby Corporation, a barge company owned in large part by the Murchison family, one of the most important of the Texas oil families (as a gratuitous JFK assassination aside, many feel that the final preparations for the assassination of JFK were at a party held on the evening of November 21, 1963, hosted by head of the family, Clint Murchison). The Reagan-Bush administration had radically reduced taxation of Texas oil wells and possibly was rewarded by oil family pull to get Harvard to invest. I quote the following without comment:

    "Finally, nine years after its investment in Harken helped save Bush from financial ruin, Harvard Management Company got a deal on a piece of real estate it bought from the Texas Teachers Retirement System. In 1995 the Texas Teachers Retirement System sold the Anatole Hotel in Dallas to a partnership that included the Crow family, which owns a controlling interest in Trammell Crow Company, one of the nation's top real estate management companies, and Harvard Management. Without taking bids, the Texas Teachers Retirement reportedly sold the hotel for $27 million less than it had spent to make improvements on the structure."

  8. The SEC began an insider trading investigation of the Bush sale. By this time, Bush's father was president, and the regulators were appointed by daddy Bush. Predictably, the SEC found nothing wrong. SEC Chairman Richard Breeden had been an economic policy adviser to daddy (and is now, in some sort of weird cosmic justice, the court-appointed monitor for WorldCom, where his experience in examining Bush for fraud will no doubt stand him in good stead). James Doty, general counsel to the SEC and the official in charge of any litigation that might have come out of the investigation, had represented Bush the son in matters related to his ownership of the Rangers (the whole Rangers story is another amazing example of how good things happen to well-connected people).

Besides the layers of various kinds of fraud, criminal conduct, and dishonesty in the story of Bush and Harken, we can also see the amazing connections that have been used by Bush and those of his ilk in order to make their way in the world. What is perhaps most striking is that George Bush had pulling for him, amongst many others, the large group of original investors in Arbusto, William DeWitt, Jr., the Vice President and later President of the United States, the Sheikh of Bahrain, Harvard University and its investment arm, Jackson Stephens, a motley crew of Arabs associated with BCCI and the bin Laden family, the Bass family, Robert Stone, Jr., the Murchinson family, and the Chairman and Counsel of the SEC. With all this help, Bush's involvement in Harken was still an utter failure. Should his complete incompetence as President of the United States be any surprise?

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Has George Bush reached the 'jump the shark' moment in his Presidency, the point where everything starts to go downhill? Has he become a laughingstock because his whole life has been a web of corruption, and now it falls to him to pretend to clean up corporate corruption in order to allow Wall Street to continue to fleece the rubes? Is his speech on corporate wrongdoing his version of Nixon's 'I am not a crook', a statement that became the object of so many jokes that it became a symbol of Nixon's Presidency? There is so much corruption surrounding Bush and his Administration that it is almost impossible to know where to begin. Leaving aside things like Cheney and Haliburton, and White and Enron, consider:

  1. Bush quite clearly was involved in insider trading violations with respect to the disposition of his Harken Energy stock. The whole incident was swept under the rug by the regulator appointed by George Bush's father, who was then of course President. The regulator was Richard Breeden, who has amazingly been appointed to act as the court-appointed monitor in the SEC's civil fraud suit against WorldCom, one of the companies that has gotten into obvious trouble, and one which the Bush Administration appears to be focussing on in order to possibly save the skin of Bush's good friend, 'Kenny Boy' Ken Lay, a man who Bush famously denied knowing when the Enron mess first surfaced.

  2. Harken's auditor was, incredibly, Arthur Andersen. The Harken scam was to sell a subsidiary to a related company at an inflated price, thus keeping the stock price high enough for the insiders, including Bush, to get their money out before the rubes found out about the scam. We therefore have Bush involved in both insider trading violations (the run-of-the-mill kind involving late or lost filings and the real serious kind involving taking special advantage of privileged information) and fraud involving accounting (in which Bush is deeply implicated as he was on Harken's audit committee). I hope that American journalists don't allow themselves to be sidetracked by the insider-trading issue, as the Bush plan seems to be to hide the really serious problem, the accounting shenanigans, behind the technical form-filing issues. Of course, the real irony in all this is that it is the accounting problems that Bush is now forced to speak against, and this kind of serious criminal behaviour is one of which Bush has intimate hands-on knowledge. It is as if John Gotti had to give a speech against gangsterism.

  3. The whole fake war on terror is benefitting no company more that Carlyle, Bush's father's company, and a company in which Bush himself may hold an interest. In any event, Bush stands to personally gain from inheriting part of his father's interest in Carlyle. On the morning of September 11, Carlyle was having a reception for one of the main owners of Carlyle, the brother of Osama bin Laden. As I've said before, this is as if one of the main military contractors supplying arms to the United States during World War II was jointly owned by Roosevelt's father and the brother and family of Hitler. This is so deeply weird that it is impossible to understand how it isn't a big issue. If the bin Laden family is no longer involved in Carlyle, I'd like to see real proof. What if one of the main reasons for Osama bin Laden's actions was to drum up business for the family firm?

  4. Bush's early business dealings involved a Saudi businessman named Khalid bin Mahfouz, a man who has been associated with Islamic charities allegedly supporting al-Qaeda. He is a key figure as he was involved in Harken, Carlyle, and these Islamic charities. Here's the kicker. Bin Mahfouz's family is close to the Al-Amoudi family, which owns Delta Oil. Bin Mahfouz's oil company, Nimir Petroleum, has been involved in joint ventures with Delta Oil, including ventures in Central Asia. The families are also connected in their partnership in the Saudi firm The Marei Bin Mahfouz & Ahmed Al Amoudi Group of Companies & Factories. Delta Oil was heavily involved in the original Unocal plans to build a pipeline through Afghanistan (also note the involvement of the Crescent Group, described as 'the premier industrial and financial conglomerate in Pakistan', an involvement that I find very interesting). It was this pipeline that did not get built presumably because of the intransigence of the Taliban (there is a good timeline showing how Unocal was competing in the 1990's with an Argentine firm called Bridas to get the rights over the Afghan pipeline). Of course, some have speculated that the war in Afghanistan was at least partially motivated by the desire of U. S. officials close to U. S. oil interests to effect a 'regime change' to an Afghan government more easy to negotiate with. Even more amazing is that Delta Oil and Nimir Petroleum are still involved with U. S. oil giants Texaco, Unocal, Amerada Hess and Frontera Resources in developing Central Asian oil projects. Khalid bin Mahfouz thus personally ties together Osama bin Laden, Carlyle, Unocal, and George Bush, and may even be the 'smoking gun' that explains the very odd U. S. decision to have a war in Afghanistan when none of the September 11 terrorists came from Afghanistan.

  5. Of course, we mustn't forget Enron . . . .

  6. Here is my original posting on Harken (I haven't checked to see if all the links still work, but you'll get the idea), an issue which I considered important months ago but which seemed not to concern too many people (I even wrote more on the subject, but never published it, thinking that no one cared, and may try to dig it up):

    BUSH/HARKEN/BCCI/CIA/BIN LADEN/ENRON (amended to add, in italics, more evidence of easy corruption): George W. Bush (Bush 43) made his first real money out of shares he acquired in Harken Energy, a worthless oil exploration company that became valuable when it was granted oil exploration rights in Bahrain, rights it obtained because Bush 43's father, then-President George Bush (Bush 41) was pals with the Sheikh of Bahrain (Bush 43 got the Harken shares when Harken acquired the worthless shares in Bush 43's own company, an acquisition which was clearly made to get use of the connections of Bush 43, through his father, Bush 41). Harken was partially owned by Union Bank of Switzerland (USB) (to which Enron Online trading operations have recently been sold), which, with the infamous Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), owned Banque de Commerce et de Placements, which invested $25 million in Harken, a deal arranged through the auspices of infamous financier, Jackson Stephens. (Remarkably, the financing also involved a critical investment from Harvard Management Company which manages the investments of Harvard University, an extremely odd type of investment - and as it turned out, a very bad one - for such an endowment.) Khalid bin Mahfouz, currently under house arrest in Saudi Arabia at the behest of the U. S., was: 1) a big original investor in BCCI; 2) involved in the Carlyle Group with the family of bin Laden and Bush 41; and 3) a big funder of the projects of bin Laden, sometimes through the use of Islamic charities. USB and BCCI sold their interest in Harken to Saudi real estate developer Abdullah Bakhsh, who is linked to bin Mahfouz and to Ghaith Pharaon, a front man for BCCI. James Bath was: 1) a flying (or, perhaps more accurately, non-flying) pal of Bush 43; 2) an original partner in Harken; 3) a probable CIA liason to Saudi Arabia (and Bush 41 used to head the CIA and probably worked for the CIA prior to that); 4) a business representative for bin Laden's half-brother, who was killed in a mysterious airplane crash in 1988, and possibly a representative of bin Laden's father; 5) operator of Skyway Aircraft Leasing Limited, a company based in the Cayman Islands which may have obtained planes from the CIA and which was owned by bin Mahfouz; and 6) an investor in Main Bank of Houston with Pharaon and bin Mahfouz. BCCI was in effect an early version of al-Qaida, intended to make money by committing fraud in Western countries and use some of the money to fund Islamic terrorist operations against the West. When Harken started to fail, Bush 43 sold his shares in violation of insider trading rules, violations that were whitewashed by regulators appointed by Bush 41. (Of course, Bush 43 has appointed his own regulators who turned a blind eye to the depredations of Enron.) We can see how Bush 43 was financially tied to Bath through Harken, and Bath was tied to the CIA, bin Laden's half-brother, and bin Mahfouz, and bin Mahfouz was in turn tied to BCCI and to bin Laden. The bin Laden family is closely tied to the Bush family through their shared interest in Bush 41's company, Carlyle (a company in which Bush 43 still probably holds an interest), which is poised to make a fortune off the massively increased defence spending entailed by the new war on terror involving attacking countries who are said to have had some sort of relationship with bin Laden (I imagine that there is much laughter in the boardrooms that Carlyle will do so well by being involved in chasing bin Laden) . Bin Laden was set up by the CIA as a leader of the 'freedom fighters' in Afghanistan, and is said to have met with a CIA representative as recently as the summer, probably betraying that bin Laden still has a relationship with the CIA. When the FBI started to get too close in their investigation of bin Laden, Bush 43 told them to back off, and Bush 43 now uses his bogus world war against bin Laden to advance U. S. oil/drug interests around the world, including those of Enron (a company heavily involved in the proposed pipeline through Afghanistan, and generally in the development of the Eurasian petrochemical deposits, particularly with respect to transporting energy to India and beyond, an issue which raises the possibility that special efforts were made by the Bush 43 administration in an effort to stave off the bankruptcy of Enron), and to hide the stench of his regime's dirty involvement in the Enron debacle. Bush 43's involvement with Enron, despite his assertions that he hardly knows Kenneth Lay, go back at least until 1986 or1987, when Harken and Enron were involved in an oil development together. Enron helped to finance the legal shenanigans that got Bush 43 appointed President by the U. S. Supreme Court. And so it goes . . . .

What all this means is that the fundamental problem with the 'election' of George Bush is finally coming to the fore. He was a drunken drug-addled frat boy who was cleaned up and set to run as President for one reason: to completely and totally represent the interests of a very small group of plutocrats who had very specific plans to enrich themselves at the expense of the American people. The reason the same people keep coming up in the Bush biography is that it is only these people who matter. He works for this group with such undivided attention that he can allow everything else in the country to fall apart just as long as his friends continue to rake in the cash. His whole life has been a demonstration of the type of corruption which he now has to rail against.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

More on Israel:

  1. Israel's newest policy appears to be to use the military occupation to prevent international relief agencies from operating, thus starving out the Palestinians.

  2. Here are just two of many accounts (you can read a lot more here) of how the 'humanitarian' Israelis are treating the Palestinians.

  3. Of course, some Israelis are heroes, and are known as 'seruvniks' for their refusal, as reserve combat officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, to participate in the evil in the Occupied Territories (click on the underlined names in the list of these soldiers to read some moving and inspiring writing). These people are under tremendous pressure for their beliefs, and stand in stark contrast to the thugs in the IDF who are enforcing Sharon's will against the Palestinians. I recommend the comments of Elad Lahav, Shlomi Segall, Haim Weiss, Ishai Sagi, and David Zonsheine. If Israel has any hope for the future, it rests on the ideas of these brave soldiers, who represent what Israel should be about.

  4. One of the best recent writings on the Israeli-Palestinian situation is this article, written by American investigative journalist Robert I. Friedman (who just died at the age of 51 from a rare blood illness contracted while reporting seven years ago about female slavery in the slums of Bombay, India).

  5. Is Israel's next target a war with Syria?

The BBC has obtained a video which shows an Israeli tank in Jenin firing, at close range, at a group of civilians who were running away from the tank. They killed 6-year-old Ahmad Abu Aziz and his 13-year-old brother Jamil. In their defence, the Israelis claim that the tank crew opened fire to deter Palestinians breaking a curfew and approaching them. I won't ask about the unbelievable injustice of the curfew and the imposition of military rule over the Palestinians. I can't even be bothered to comment on the specifics of this latest slaughter (although perhaps the international community can start to see the fruits of letting the Israelis get away with the earlier massacre at Jenin). This sort of outrage is now so common from the Israelis, who fall all over themselves telling us what 'humanitarians' they are, that it is no longer worth even bothering to remark about. It's no worse than we expect from them. I do, however, have one question for the Israelis. In time, the violent punks who are in these tanks, who gratuitously brutalize the Palestinians at the military checkpoints, who easily steal from and vandalize the homes of the Palestinians they arbitrarily decide to take over, and who generally act like a roving street gang of thugs, are going to grow up. These are exactly the type of psychopaths who will end up running Israel (if you want to see what they look like when they 'grow up', just look at Sharon). What is Israel going to look like in twenty or thirty years when all its government and all its businesses are run by characters who might have come right out of "A Clockwork Orange"?

Saturday, July 06, 2002

If you look at a picture (or here or here or here) of the hole in the wall of the Pentagon that Flight 77 is supposed to have gone through, it is immediately obvious that Flight 77 could not possibly have caused the damage at the Pentagon. We're usually shown pictures of the wall at the Pentagon after it collapsed at around 10:10 a. m., which of course left a much larger opening and completely destroyed all evidence of the smaller hole left by whatever missile actually caused the damage. Just as a camel can't pass through the eye of a needle, and rich men can't enter heaven, a Boeing 757-200, over 124 feet from wingtip to wingtip and, including the tail, over 44 feet (!) high, can't get in to the Pentagon through a hole of this size. Even if the fusilage could get through, how could the wings get through? If the wings didn't get through, shouldn't they be outside on the ground? The only conceivable way the wings could have gotten in is if they collapsed right against the fusilage, but that would require that they be bent back by hitting the building. Although the Pentagon wall has a few cracked and broken windows (and at least some of the windows may have been specially reinforced to resist bomb damage), where is the evidence of metal wings hitting the wall with force (and where is the evidence of the tail hitting above the hole with force?)? The heavy engines should have gone right through the wall. How did the wings pass through this area and leave the vehicles that we can see burning (besides the obvious car, there is a vehicle like an SUV almost obscured by smoke)? Leaving aside the contradictory witness evidence and the completely implausible lack of video evidence, the size of the hole coupled with the relative lack of damage to the wall and the lack of any evidence of the wings is conclusive evidence that Flight 77 didn't cause the Pentagon damage. Some people still say that theories that Flight 77 didn't crash into the Pentagon are some form of clever disinformation, intended to put us off looking at the real truth. The main argument may be that the picture of the hole is of another hole, not the entrance point of Flight 77. We can refute that by reference to the burning car in the foreground. This picture, with the collapsed wall clearly visible in the background, shows the remains of the burning car in the foreground, together with the remains of a burning truck, its paint now burned off (the truck is more visible in this photograph - or here, where you can also see how the ground hasn't been disturbed), that is obscured by smoke (flip between this and this). The collapsed wall now covers where the entrance point was. There is no other collapsed facade on the building (you can see that from this massive picture of the damage to the building), so this must be the area of the crash. You can also clearly see the car and the truck on the left of this photograph, with the hole partly obscured by the pole (you can also see that there is clearly no damage to the helipad or the ground, meaning whatever hit the Pentagon could not have hit the ground first, but went directly in through the hole). Comparing the Pentagon crash to the crash of El Al Flight 1862 doesn't help, as the hole left by the El Al flight is easily big enough and in no way compares with the tiny hole left in the Pentagon before the wall collapsed. My response to people who want to support the Official Story: look at the hole. Are people able to handle a terrorist attack but afraid of the implications of the fact that Flight 77 didn't crash into the Pentagon?

Friday, July 05, 2002

There is a view that it is wrong to ascribe to the U. S. government as a motive for the war on Afghanistan the desire to force a pipeline through Afghanistan for the benefit of U. S. oil companies. The better view is supposed to be that the U. S. wanted to gain geopolitical control of Central Asia, which U. S. right-wing ideologues in the Bush Administration saw as achievable with the collapse of the Soviet empire. I agree that it seems absurd to go through the expenditures required for the Afghan war for the building of an oil pipeline, especially when there are other available routes (it would be cheaper just to give the U. S. oil companies their expected profit on the pipeline!), but I think it is unnecessary and misleading and possibly wrong to limit ourselves to one motive. There appear to be at least eight motives for the war on terrorism and, in particular, the war on Afghanistan:

  1. To advance U. S. geopolitical and imperialist goals by controlling Central Asia (the Imperialist Motive).

  2. To force an agreement on Afghanistan to allow the building of petrochemical pipelines through Afghanistan for the benefit of U. S. oil interests (or course, the use of the threat of force as a bargaining chip in commercial negotiations, a fact possibly known to al-Qaeda, may have ironically been the impetus for al-Qaeda to attack the U. S. as a form of preemptive attack)(the Pipeline Motive).

  3. Related to 2., to assist the extremely good friend of the Bush Administration, Enron, which was in grave financial trouble and could have used the pipeline as a source of funds for its involvement in the financing and construction of the pipeline and, perhaps more importantly, use the promise of the pipeline as a source of cheap fuel for its white elephant Indian energy plant as an inducement to a purchaser, allowing Enron to sell the energy plant and temporarily at least stave off ruin (the Enron Motive).

  4. To create an excuse for the U. S. to go on a war footing in order to take war emergency powers to stifle dissent and create a neofascist security state (the Fascist Motive).

  5. To use the war as an excuse for huge war expenditures and massive increases in the U. S. military budget, all to the benefit of military contractors (the Military-Industrial Complex Motive).

  6. To use the war to artificially improve the Bush Administration's sagging popularity and get it out of the aimless malaise in which it was already sinking (the Bush Malaise Motive).

  7. To continue the supply of Afghan heroin (the growing of poppies had been stopped by the Taliban), which formed the basis for a large heroin supply business to Europe using the services of Kosovar Albanian terrorists associated with al-Qaeda and the CIA (the Heroin Motive).

  8. To provide an excuse to use the war on terror for Israeli motives in controlling the Palestinians, and U. S./Israeli motives in removing Saddam Hussein (the Israeli Motives).

It may be that more than one of these benefits to various parts of the U. S. government and power establishment had to be in place for the war in Afghanistan to take place. Different motives pleased different parties. The Imperialist Motive pleased the right-wing intelligentsia of the think tanks and universities. The Pipeline Motive pleased the U. S. oil companies. The Enron Motive pleased the executives of Enron. The Fascist Motive pleased the John Ashcroft crowd, including the Christian Right, as did the Israeli Motives. The Military-Industrial Complex Motive pleased the military contractors, most notably Bush's dad's company Carlyle. The Bush Malaise Motive pleased the powers behind Bush. The Heroin Motive pleased those entrepreneurial parts of the CIA that like to make money out of the nice little earner they've found in the drug trade (I think this motive is one of the most crucial). Given the huge benefits to all these powerful interests of the war on terror, it is difficult to see the war on terror and the war on Afghanistan as anything other than inevitable. I think it is a mistake to try to limit the motivation to any one issue. What all these motives have in common is that none of them has anything to do with fighting terror, in particular, removing the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda, defeating al-Qaeda, and killing or capturing bin Laden. It is not an accident that the Taliban have changed hats to morph back into the warlords who now comprise part of the Afghan 'government', that al-Qaeda left for greener pastures to become even more dangerous, and that bin Laden is alive and well.