Thursday, October 31, 2002

John Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, the alleged Maryland snipers, who were being questioned by local authorities with some success in the case of Muhammad, have been swept up by federal agents, thus completely halting the obtaining of information from them. At least John Muhammad is now in the extraordinarily dangerous situation that Lee Harvey Oswald was in back in 1963 - he has presumably said enough to make it necessary to keep him from saying anything more, and he is in the custody of those who would probably like his full story to never see the light of day. Remember that John Lee Malvo tried to 'escape', and that people are often shot dead when they try to escape. It is also not unheard of for people in custody to kill themselves, die of mysterious causes, or meet Jack Ruby. I would like to hear their stories as they come out in open court, and I hope someone independent of the government is watching out for them.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

JFK, Jr., Carnahan, Wellstone. The carnage is starting to add up, and it appears that death by airplane is the favored method of the time. Was Wellstone assassinated?:

  1. What is most annoying about current American politics is the left's continued insistance that their opponents are regular human beings with different political views. Of course, most people who call themselves 'conservatives' are such normal people. The problem is that the leaders of the right in American politics are out-and-out psychopathic thugs, and the left is getting consistently hammered by failure to realize this and act accordingly. You can see this most recently in the famous mob which stopped the counting of the ballots in Florida, and threw the matter into court where the Bush forces could ensure their victory. While the Democrats were naively playing the game by the rules, the Republican schemers simply used pure violence to get their way. That was bad enough, but the Democrats were so unprepared for it, it was so beyond their ability to comprehend that someone would use violence to cheat to win, that they allowed the mob violence to succeed and found themselves intimidated enough that the counting stopped. That violence, and the lack of preparedness for it, is the second most important reason why Bush is in the White House (the first reason is the systematic illegal disenfranchisement of black voters). Dick Cheney would have his grandmother tortured to death for a dime, and for a nickle, he'd do the job himself. Pretending that he is not a psychopathic thug just plays into his hands, and the hands of many like him.

  2. People are always asking why the left is in such disarray, and why the leaders of the left are such buffoons. One reason is that any leaders who have any charisma and any tendency to lead in any sort of progressive direction are simply slaughtered by the right. This isn't just an American problem - the Israeli peace movement has never recovered from the slaughter of Rabin (and of course many, many, many progressive leaders of other countries have been slaughtered by American operatives). People who might get into politics from a progressive perspective have to be prepared to die. The threat is always there and the anthrax letters mailed to prominent Democrats were a reminder. I'm sure many say that the danger of entering politics isn't worth it. This will continue until one case is properly investigated and the perpetrators aren't allowed to get way with it. Over and over again, since the travesty of the Warren Commission, obvious assassinations have been hidden, and the lack of courage by the left is largely responsible for this. Unfortunately, the chance of a proper investigation happening in the foreseeable future is near zero. Until the left gets over its allergy to conspiracy theory, people are going to continue to die, and the left is going to continue to be in disarray.

  3. Americans have to realize that there is no moral reason why Wellstone wasn't murdered. He was a thorn in the side of the Republicans, and the thugs who run the Republican party wouldn't have hesitated to slaughter him if it was to their advantage. He was not only a problem due to his voting record and due to his possible position as the man whose reelection might put the Democrats in control of the Senate, but his principled positions were a severe ideological challenge to the current Official Political Philosophy of the United States. He was actually a true populist, rather than a fake neocon populist, and his very existence challenged the hegemony of neoconservatism. We know the Republicans were making a particular effort with massive amounts of mysterious money to oust Wellstone. They were pulling out all the stops to ensure that Wellstone was defeated. Therein lies the big question. The Republicans no doubt remember that Carnahan might not have beaten Ashcroft, but the wife of the slaughtered Carnahan could. The polls that are released to the public are, needless to say, lies intended to influence how people vote, and not true indications of voters' intentions. However, proper polling data exists, and the parties have it. If Republican polling data showed that Wellstone was certainly going to win, he was probably murdered. If the data showed he was going to lose, or the race was too close to call, they probably would not risk the potential backlash of the voters of Minnesota.

  4. The polling data they have is probably good enough that political strategists could actually determine the projected composition of the Senate. Wellstone alive might have meant a Democratic Senate. The difference to the people who call the shots for the Republicans of that one person may be billions of dollars transferred from American taxpayers into their pockets (and for Bush personally, he has to be worried about impeachment in the Senate if the true story of September 11 ever comes out). Do you honestly think that any man's life could survive such calculations?

  5. Someone had already possibly attempted to assassinate Wellstone while he was on an official visit to Colombia. There is absolutely no obvious reason why the Colombians would want to kill Wellstone. We know American forces are operating in Colombia, both overtly and covertly. It is not difficult to determine who must have been behind the assassination attempt.

  6. The officials will do an investigation. The people who set these deaths up are very good at what they do. The investigation will be inconclusive, but it will be officially determined that it was ice on the wings.

  7. Bush is actually going to campaign in Minnesota, within days of the funeral! I assume his big decision will be whether he'll dance on Wellstone's grave, piss on it, or both.

  8. I assume the family didn't want Cheney at the memorial service because they were afraid his maniacal laughing would interfere with the service. Is it bad etiquette to disinvite from a memorial service the man you think may have murdered the person being remembered?

The fact that it appears that so many Americans now naturally assume that Wellstone must have been murdered is a good sign. The lapdogs of the controlled press even have to take the time to waste column space 'refuting' what is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone. It is not impossible that the audacity of the Republicans in going to the plane crash assassination well one too many times will actually backfire on them, and Wellstone, in death, may be responsible for preventing the disaster of a Republican-controlled Senate. Eventually, this government-by-murder will have to stop.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

There has been a lot written about the Russian hostage situation, mostly statements of regret by the Russians and statements of understanding from other countries to the effect that it was a terrible thing, but the Russians had to do what they did. Everyone assumes that the dead hostages are an unfortunate and unwanted result of the only kind of rescue mission that could have succeeded in saving the majority of the hostages. I don't see it that way. The "we're incompetent morons, so that's why the results of our actions are always so horrible" excuse may have some plausibility for the U. S. military in its failure to attempt to intercept any of the 9-11 planes, and can almost always be used by the CIA, but I don't for a minute believe that the Russian anti-terrorist squad didn't know exactly what it was doing. If the Russians could pump in fatally toxic gas, they could have pumped in merely debilitating gas. The Russians intended to kill a significant number of the hostages, and took the risk of killing everyone inside the building. Why would they do this? They wanted to make it absolutely clear that, despite a patina of liberality and democracy on Russian society, it is still run by the same group of thugs who ran things in the Soviet era. Terrorism depends on the assumption by the terrorists that, in the face of a terrorist attack, human feelings will motivate the leaders of the country to attempt to find some sort of political compromise towards the goals of the terrorists. Since the Russian leaders have shown that they have no human feelings and no concern for their own people, what can any terrorists threaten them with? I am reminded of a movie or a television program whose name I can't remember where the hostage taker threatens the female hostage by pointing a gun to her head while telling the policeman to back away or he will kill her, only to be startled when the policeman raises his gun and shoots the hostage right through the forehead. What do you do if the leaders of a country not only scoff at your worst threat, but actually help you to achieve it? From the point of view of the Russians, the key to the success of the mission was that nearly all the hostages who died were killed by the actions of the Russians, and not by the terrorists. Of course, the Russians had to go through the motions of attempting a rescue, but the operation would still have been a complete success if all the hostages had died.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Something I forgot to put in my long posting on the relationship of hydrocarbons to the war against Afghanistan relates to the possible acceleration by bin Laden of the attack against the United States. If bin Laden knew that the United States had threatened the Taliban with attack and that the Taliban's failure to accede to American demands meant that an attack was going to occur in the fall of 2001, bin Laden had a strategic decision to make. If he waited to launch his attack only after the Americans started their war on Afghanistan, 9-11 would have been regarded as a counter-attack in the war on Afghanistan, and 9-11 would simply be seen as a part of that war. On the other hand, if bin Laden managed to pull off his attack before the Americans started to attack Afghanistan, the whole meaning of 9-11 would become entirely different in the following ways:

  1. 9-11 would become an proactive step taken by bin Laden against the United States, and not a reaction to actions taken by the United States (an important factor for the seemingly weaker party);

  2. 9-11 would take on a massive significance encompassing all aspects of the relationship between the United States and fundamentalist Islam, and not just a counter-attack;

  3. 9-11 would force at least some Americans to ask themselves why America is so hated, when the answer to that question would be obvious if the attack was regarded as a reaction to the attack on Afghanistan;

  4. 9-11 would appear as the first shot in a war of fundamentalist Islam against the United States to gain the three stated goals of bin Laden, i. e., removal of American troops from the holy lands of Islam, replacement of the corrupt American colonialist governments in the Islamic countries, and the destruction of Israel; and

  5. 9-11 would become an action which would provide the United States with an excuse to start a worldwide 'war on terror', thus putting the Middle East in play allowing for its eventual reconquest by fundamentalist Islam, and providing a global war to the finish between the American Empire and fundamentalist Islam (in other words, it is a mistake to regard the American reaction to 9-11 as an unanticipated and unwelcome surprise to bin Laden and his associates; the American reaction is exactly what bin Laden hoped for).

The benefits of having the attack occur before the attack on Afghanistan mean that bin Laden may very well have moved up the date of the attack, thus leaving us with the possibility that the threats of the Bush junta caused the attack to occur just before American intelligence and police authorities had a chance to detect and prevent it.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

There has been a very odd development in recent commentary on U. S. motives for the war in Afghanistan. From the outset, conspiratorily-minded individuals have wondered about the stated rationale for the U. S. attack on Afghanistan: the infamous war on terror. After September 11, the United States government had to do something to retaliate for the attack and set the American public at ease that it would not happen again. The response was to start a war against Afghanistan. Originally this was supposed to be against the government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, for 'harboring' the terrorists behind 9-11, al-Qaeda, and their hated leader, Osama bin Laden. Osama has reached the apotheosis of U. S. enemies, along with the Ayatollah and Saddam, by going by one name, having knuckle-dragging country singers write insulting songs about him, and having his face printed on toilet paper. Strangely enough, bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban have all been defeated or left Afghanistan, but the United States is still fighting someone there, or at least blowing up any suspicious wedding parties. The whole problem with the Afghan war is the fact that there was no real terrorism connection to Afghanistan ever demonstrated. The hijackers were said to be mostly from Saudi Arabia, led by a man, Mohamed Atta, from Egypt. The evidence that it was an al-Qaeda operation was never revealed by the Americans, and the same evidence when revealed by the British seemed not to be sufficient to find anyone responsible. Therefore, it is not surprising that suspicious minds began to look for another reason for the U. S. attack on Afghanistan. A possible suspicious beneficiary of the war was Unocal. Unocal spent a lot of effort in the 1990's to run a pipeline through Afghanistan. Its main competition in this effort was an Argentine company called Bridas (which is now owned by BP). While Bridas originally was ahead in the race, Unocal eventually at least pulled even (Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia was also in the race, allied with Unocal). Unocal had to deal with the Taliban in order to build the pipeline, and at the time women's groups protested against Unocal for lending support for a regime with such medieval views on women (in retrospect this protest seems rather quaint, as much of Afghanistan is now run by butchers who make the Taliban look in comparison like outright feminists - the Taliban did manage to maintain a degree of security in the territories it controlled, a virtue that shouldn't be forgotten in the daily lives of women and children, and one that, between American bombs and Northern Alliance thugs, has been lost over much of the country). As Unocal was also taking a lot of heat for its dealings in Burma (when you get right down to it, Unocal has to be on anyone's list of the top ten evil corporations in the world), there was good reason for Unocal to try to obtain some good public relations by ostentatiously pulling out of the pipeline deal. The Taliban were apparently difficult to do business with (i. e., were asking for too much money), though Unocal took out all the stops including inviting the Taliban leaders to Texas. The probable reason the deal fell through, however, was that the Taliban never had control of the whole territory of Afghanistan that the pipeline would go through. The Northern Alliance warlords controlled much of this land (and still do), and there was no practical way to ensure sufficient safety for the building and protection of the pipeline. Thus, in 1997, Unocal made a big display of pulling out, and has maintained the official corporate position since that it has no interest in Afghanistan, at least until there is political stability there. There has now been a big show of consistent and insistent writing that the war in Afghanistan had nothing to do with petrochemical pipelines. This is, at the very least, odd. Here is what we have recently seen:

  1. Jared Israel, of the exemplary site 'The Emperor's New Clothes', claims to have spent thirty hours on the internet trying to determine what the connection was between Zalmay Khalilzad and Unocal. Zalmay Khalilzad was a suspicious character in all this as he was associated with Unocal during the pipeline negotiations and is now the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Gulf, Southwest Asia and Other Regional Issues, National Security Council (as I have mentioned before, bin Laden had odd foreknowledge of this appointment). This 'coincidence' was of course great fodder for the conspiracy theorists. Jared Israel's thirty hour investigation proved to him that Zalmay Khalilzad actually had very little connection to Unocal. Amazingly, he then had a phone conversation with a PR hack from Unocal, who assured him that Unocal has no interest in the Afghan pipeline at this time. Jared Israel seems to think that this telephone conversation concludes the matter. The fact that government officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan have publicly announced that they assume that Unocal will play a major role in the pipeline is shrugged off by both the PR hack and Israel as wishful thinking on the part of the governments. Frankly, phoning a Unocal PR hack and accepting what he tells you at face value is the same as phoning Goebbels in 1943 and accepting at face value his comments about the concentration camps. It may be years before the Americans 'pacify' Afghanistan sufficiently to allow the building of a pipeline. If Unocal is considered by the locals to be the main candidate to build the pipeline, it makes perfect sense from a negotiation standpoint for Unocal not to appear too eager, expecially when the pipeline may never be built. Given Unocal's history in the earlier negotiations, I would be absolutely amazed if Unocal didn't end up with a major role in the project. Why, then, is Jared Israel so interested in letting them off the hook? The answer appears to be that he wishes to find some explanation based on encirclement of Russia (just as an aside, it seems to me that there are still a lot of leftists around who see the world in terms of the cold war from the side of the Soviet Union, a factor I've also noticed in comments on the NATO attacks on Serbia - the possibility that Jared Israel has some sort of other covert 'agenda' is also starting to raise its ugly head.)

  2. Ken Silverstein has an article in The American Prospect with much the same conclusion (but without the Russian encirclement angle). He calls people who have a pipeline conspiracy theory of the Afghan war 'dumb'. Of course, whatever arguments Mr. Silverstein wants to make about the importance of Central Asian hydrocarbons are refuted by the very actions of companies like Unocal and Enron, who apparently had their own views on the matter. My own view is that petrochemicals did play a large role in the decision to use the September 11 attacks as an excuse to attack Afghanistan. That decision had been made before September 11, and blaming it on the Taliban was simply a good excuse. It is wrong to suggest that petrochemicals don't play a role in every U. S. government decision, even more so with the current group of oil men who run the U. S. government. In order to get any decision made, different interest groups have to be consulted, and none ranks more that the interests of U. S. oil companies. It is probably wrong to concentrate on Unocal, which although it had a major planned role in Afghanistan is a relatively small company. Companies like Enron and Haliburton, both of which stood to gain greatly by planning and constructing pipelines, were probably more important, especially given the strong personal connections between these companies and the Bush Administration. Ignoring the obvious connections would be 'dumb'. I think, however, there is a fundamental truth in not putting too much initial emphasis on petrochemicals to the exclusion of all other goals. Americans have been preoccupied with Afghanistan for years. The real issue is probably that of the newly stated policy of U. S. hegemony, and in particular U. S. participation in the playing of the old 'Great Game' of Central Asia. Leaving aside individual geopolitical goals, the 'Great Game' has acquired a life of its own, and is pursued for its own sake. The 'Great Game' has many components and many goals, but in this day and age, with the overwhelming importance of petrochemicals, and particularly given the nature of the people around the Bush junta, the most important part of it is to determine who gets to control the oil and gas resources of the world. The coming American war on Iraq (and possibly on other countries in the Middle East with oil reserves) just emphasizes how important the oil motive actually is.

  3. Perhaps the most interesting story concerns David Corn and some odd censorship. The main proponents of the pipeline conspiracy theory are Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, authors of the book "Bin Laden, La Verite Interdite", which has now been translated and published by a publisher associated with The Nation as "The Forbidden Truth", a title which as it turns out has a certain irony to it (and look who provides funding for The Nation - scroll down to the chart and look to the left!). In the original French edition the authors refer to a United Nations organized meeting held in June 2001. The point of the meeting was to discuss Afghanistan's future and to offer incentives for building a Central Asian oil pipeline. The authors claim that, according to Niaz A. Naik, former Pakistani Secretary for foreign affairs, one of the partipants at the meeting, a former U. S. ambassador attending the meeting to represent U. S. interests, said, in referring to U. S. offers to the Taliban regarding the pipeline, "Either you accept
    our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs." In a French television program two years ago, Naik stated, in referring to Tom Simons, the U. S. representative: "Simons said: 'either the Taliban behave as they ought to, or Pakistan convinces them to do so, or we will use another option'. The words Simons used were 'a military operation'." There is also a less colorful, but no less damning, account of the meeting (see also here and here and here). In the original book the French authors assert that this threat led to bin Laden's preemptive strike on the U. S. on September 11. This connection has been blunted in the American 'translation'. The editor of The Nation stated:

    "Based on our reading of the book, the
    authors made some adjustments, so what may have been a thesis is now a
    speculation. I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I believe Oswald killed
    Kennedy and probably did it by himself, but I think it's important to
    raise questions."

    Adjustments? I always enjoy it when the 'elites' in referring to conspiracy theories always refer to LHO. They invariably point out how they believe in the 'lone nut' hypothesis, although you'd be hard pressed to find anyone else who still believes this. In any event, the 'adjustment' is simply censorship, and appears to be based on the scathing internal review of the book by David Corn. David Corn really, really, really hates conspiracy theories (see the solid attack on Corn here, and bear in mind his current task seems to be to defend CIA research from the end run that the Bush administration is attempting to make around it as it doesn't suit Bush's position on Iraq). In referring to the book, Corn writes: "I have rarely seen such shoddy and lazy journalism." He and Brisard have a little debate (which I can no longer find on The Nation website), with lots of quibbling by Corn but no refutation of the issue at hand, the threat allegedly made by U. S. officials - I'll ignore Corn's point that two former U. S. ambassadors meeting in a U. N. meeting somehow don't represent the United States - whereby they threatened the Taliban with U. S. military action if they did not accede to U. S. pipeline demands. So what was really going on with respect to Afghanistan? It seems we have fairly good evidence that the U. S. representative to a U. N. meeting made threats of military action to the Taliban. The U. S. representative involved gives such a non-rebuttal that it is just as good as an admission that it happened that way. It also sounds exactly like the kind of threat that the unilateralist, aggressive and corrupted Bush regime would make, and of course has to be seen from the context of the Afghans, who had fairly recent experience of Clinton's attack. It is exactly the kind of abuse of government power to achieve the goals of particular corporate interests that had constituted the whole lives of people like Bush and Cheney. Corn does, however, attempt to attack the lack of logic in the basic French position. Before the U. S. censorship, the French authors' strong version of the thesis was that the U. S. threat to the Taliban got back to bin Laden, who then decided to stage the events of September 11 as a preemptive strike. Here's what Corn has to say in rebuttal:

    "Suppose--and it's a large stretch--that their "facts" are true. The "threat" came in July 2001. Would they argue that bin Laden, in response to the threat, quickly began developing the September 11 plan? That would be an absurd assertion. Obviously, bin Laden's scheme was long in the works before July 2001. So what's the other option? That bin Laden, who already was preparing the September 11 strikes, was somehow provoked into greenlighting the attacks by this July 2001 threat? This is equally absurd. Bin Laden had mounted assaults against the USS Cole and the US embassies in Africa; he was connected to the 1993 strike against the World Trade Center. He had declared a holy war against America. He did not require provocation--in the form of a threat from ex-officials--to proceed with his mass murder. Are Brisard and Dasquié claiming that bin Laden was not dedicated to moving ahead with the September 11 mission once planning had begun? This proposition seems indefensible on its face--especially when the authors do not present any evidence as to the thinking and motivations of bin Laden and the Taliban."

    I think Corn is missing some other options. Assuming bin Laden was playing a major role in the strategic planning here (a thesis for which no proof of any kind has ever been given, but which I will accept for the purposes of this argument), he had a lot of options in the summer of 2001. Much of the preparation for terrorist action had already been taken, but there is no reason to believe that the timing and even the nature of the attack was set until at least late August 2001 (we can possibly be as specific as August 29). The most intriguing issue is the exact timing of the attack. It seems to me that there is reason to believe that the original date for the attack was not supposed to be September 11, and that in fact the date was moved up. The infamous Echelon system had intercepted phone calls that would have provided the authorities with warning of the attacks. Other warnings were coming into the Bush administration from other governments and its own security apparatus on an almost daily basis. Unfortunately, the Echelon calls weren't translated until a few days after September 11, and the other warnings were aggressively ignored. What if bin Laden's haste to have the attack occur before the U. S. attack on Afghanistan, an attack which he expected and even wanted but which might interfere with his own operation against the United States, meant that he accelerated the timing of his attack on the U. S.? You could therefore draw a clear connection between the disaster of September 11 and the U. S. threat in June. Someone may say this is just speculation, but it is only speculation because the U. S. government refuses to have a proper investigation of the matter, including what was said at the meeting in June. The key point is that a proper investigation may reveal that U. S. threats against the Taliban may have accelerated the timing of the September 11 attacks just enough that U. S. officials were unable to stop them. That would make the Bush Administration criminally responsible for treasonous actions leading to September 11, would be clear grounds for impeachment, and may explain why there is so much resistance to a proper investigation (not to mention Cheney's resistance to release records of his dealings with energy companies).

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

The story that Mohamed Atta met an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague is like some monster in a horror film that is seemingly killed over and over again only to reappear when you least expect it. There has already been a whole series of allegations made by the Bush Administration, right-wing U. S. writers, and some Czech officials that Atta did in fact meet with a known Iraqi agent in Prague. Of course, given the complete absence of any plausible excuse for the Americans to attack Iraq now, the Atta-Iraq connection was very useful for those cheerleading for taking over Iraq and its oil fields. On the other hand, other Czech officials cast doubt on the supposed Prague meeting, and the FBI itself stated that, as far as it could determine, Atta was in the United States at the time (specifically, in Virginia), and it could find no record of his having flown to or from Prague at the time he was alleged to be there. There has been a complicated series of assertions and denials, well summarized in this article by Edward Jay Epstein, who isn't convinced by those who deny that the meeting took place (see also here). It seems almost certain that the person we think we mean when we use the name 'Mohamed Atta', i. e., the fellow who was involved in the planning of the September 11 attacks, could not have met in Prague with an Iraqi agent. However, it is perfectly possible that someone who looked like 'Mohamed Atta', and called himself 'Mohamed Atta', did appear in Prague and met in public with a known Iraqi agent. It is a perfectly sensible espionage technique to have doubles for your operative develop various connections in parallel, leaving the master planner of the operation the option to repress or emphasize whatever of these parallel connections that are the most useful depending on how the operation plays out. For example, in the JFK assassination, it appears that there was an original Lee Harvey Oswald, a double 'Lee Harvey Oswald' who in fact did most of the things that we now associate with the assassination, and a whole troop of Oswald imposters, some of whom looked remarkably like Oswald and some of whom did not, but who all identified themselves as Oswald and acted in ways that they would be remembered. For example, some of these people associated with extreme right-wing groups and some with extreme left-wing groups. This activity serves three functions: 1) it casts a fog over the composite personal identity of the operative, and allows the espionage agency to hide discrepancies in the personal identity under the confusion; 2) it makes investigation of what really happened almost impossible, as it becomes impossible to distinguish between the real operative, the person whose identity he has assumed, and the troop of actors who have played the various roles; and 3) it allows the planner of the operation to pick parts of the composite identity which suit the story he is attempting to create. It would have been good spycraft for the planner to have an Atta double meet with an Iraqi agent, on the chance that the U. S. government wanted to frame the Iraqi government for 9-11 (there is even a report that Atta met with a high-ranking representative of Cuban intelligence in Florida in 1999, a meeting possibly tellingly reminiscent of Oswald and whatever intelligence agency that was involved in that deception). The problem with this technique is that it can be overused, and in the case of Atta he has appeared in so many places, sometimes at the same time, that his personal identity has become very suspect. It appears that, much as the Bush Administration wanted to use an Atta-Iraq connection, the danger of blowing the whole scheme out of the water meant that they had to be somewhat subtle. If they insisted that Atta met with an Iraqi in Prague, some brain-dead journalist might have awakened from his coma to realize that if Atta could be in Prague and Virginia at the same time, he could also be in Hamburg and Florida at the same time, thus destroying the faked personal identity of the imposter who stole the identity of the original Mohamed Atta, and destroying the credibility of the whole Official Story. For that reason we apparently have been fed this rather complicated series of stories from the Czechs, both denying that the meeting took place (the most recent denials occurring, by amazing coincidence, just after Congress gave Bush what he wanted on the Iraq war) and asserting that it did, which has allowed the Bush Administration to simultaneously play down the meeting and use it as the basis for connecting Saddam to 9-11 (I think the Bush Administration has probably sent the Czechs a cheque for their help). Now we have the amazing story coming out that the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, has 'quietly' and 'discretely' told the White House that the Czechs have no evidence that such a meeting took place. He told this to the White House 'sometime earlier this year'. Why all the quietness, discretion, and vagueness on timing? Apparently, he did not want to embarrass the Czech intelligence officials who insisted that the meeting took place. But if they do not want to embarrass these people, why are they coming out with this story now? Aren't the same officials just as embarrassed now? I think we're being played for fools here. The reason this preposterous story is coming out now is that Bush has just got his Congressional carte blanche to steal the Iraqi oil, and he no longer needs the vague promise of the Atta-Iraq story to stir up hatred against Saddam. Therefore, it is now appropriate to officially bury the whole story, before someone starts thinking about its implications, and do it with a complex tale of Czech government internal politics (the White House seems to be rewriting history in claiming that they didn't rely on the Atta-Iraqi connection, or, as the NYT puts it: "The White House has generally been cautious about using the reports of the possible Prague meeting to help make the case for war with Iraq.", when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary). We've even been given, as confusing background, an eye-glazing recent history of the intrigues in the relationship beween the Czech and British intelligence agencies, a story which appears to have very little to do with Atta, but which serves to bore us into thinking the whole issue has somehow been resolved. Needless to say, the story is not over, as the Czechs deny the whole New York Times story, making it look increasingly like pure Bush Administration propaganda to sweep the now unneeded Atta-Prague story under the rug. I'm sure we will see more on this story.
This is a very sensible article by Eric Margolis on the difference between al-Qaeda as it actually is and the fantasy version of al-Qaeda that has been promoted by the American government. The fantasy has caused, and will continue to cause, practical problems in stopping terrrorism, an issue which I suppose does not really bother the U. S. government as it is not really interested in stopping terrorism.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

This article, by Paul Krugman, is the most impressive thing I've read in The New York Times in, well, years. It is so good, I'm actually shocked to see the increasingly pointless NYT publish it. The ubiquitous political philosophy in the United States is now basically the world view of people like Rush Limbaugh, and even the tiniest wavering from economic and social policies that benefit the super-rich at the expense of everyone else is called 'class warfare' or 'socialism' or 'communism', or, worst of all, 'liberalism'. Ideas that used to be thought of as common sense - that a progressive tax system was a good thing and that rich people ought to pay their fair share of taxes, that governments could and should do good things for less fortunate people, that governments should have enough tax revenue to properly educate everyone and to provide for basic health care, that government regulation should keep the worst excesses of capitalists from getting out of control, and that governments don't exist simply as a way of extracting money from the poorest people to pass it on to the richest people in the manner of a medieval bailiff squeezing every bit of wealth out of the peasantry - all these ideas are now commonly regarded as the ideas of extreme left-wing cranks. All this has been accomplished by the biggest fraud in the history of ideas, the 'science' of economics. The common answer to all questions of social justice is that any attempts to regulate the rapacity of the richest psychos will actually backfire due to the magic of the market, and the magic of the market will leave worse off those who were supposed to benefit from the regulation. Under the name of 'economic analysis of law', this pernicious doctrine has fatally infected the legal system and has completely ruined the legal ability of governments to regulate corporations. The 'trickle down' theory, which back in the era of Ronald Reagan was regarded as a sort of joke, is now thought of as the only hope for those who aren't in the class of the super-rich. Anyone can see that these economic arguments are complete nonsense, as regulation for the public good has always worked successfully in the past and in fact has provided the foundation of social capital that has allowed wealth to be accumulated, but we live in a time where there is no alternative presented by any 'reputable' thinkers, with all the universities and the think tanks bought and paid for by the plutocracy, and all the media outlets presenting the same single view of the world. Accademia and the media both worship the excesses of managerial capitalism, where compensation is established by 'compensation committees', which are basically just a pretty way of logrolling the levels of compensation to higher and higher levels, with any shred of decency which might provide some limits shrugged off with the rationalization that the market is always right. The best thing about Krugman's article is his pessimism at the end - he seems to feel, I think correctly, that there is nothing that anyone can do about this problem. His pessimism distinguishes him from the pollyanna 'progressives', who seem to feel that, with just a little good will, and ignoring the fact that the politicians are totally dependent on the money of the plutocrats to get elected, everything is going to get better. On the contrary, it seems to me that the problems raised by Krugman are going to lead to some form of disaster (and the war on Iraq, which is simply a product of the problems, is just an inkling of what is to come).

Monday, October 21, 2002

One of the more paranoid, and therefore interesting, theories about Flight 93 is that the passengers had in fact regained control of the plane from the hijackers, and would have been able to land safely with the live hijackers as prisoners, thus necessitating the shooting down of the plane by the U. S. government in order to avoid the interrogation of the hijackers revealing who was really behind the September 11 terrorism. It appears that there were quite likely other planes that were to have been subject to similar hijackings on the morning of September 11, all of which hijackings were aborted for various reasons, with some of the hijackers simply fading away with no one the wiser as to who they were. What if one or more of those hijackers had in fact been captured and interrogated? Let us consider some of the anomalies of September 11:

  1. Three males (or four) travelling on Flight 23, bound for Los Angeles (or San Francisco) from Kennedy Airport, a flight which had been cancelled due to the hijackings, refused to disembark and got into such an argument that a crew member called airport security. The men disappeared before security arrived. On Thursday, September 13 a man presented a ticket for the same September 11 Flight 23 at the counter but said he had changed his mind and now wanted to travel to San Jose (was this one of the men who disappeared on September 11?). He was stopped at the gate by security. Three men who had boarded American Airlines Flight 133 to Los Angeles were removed from the plane by law enforcement officers with weapons drawn. American Airlines Flight 142, which was due to take off from Kennedy for London at 8:30 a.m. on September 11, was delayed at the gate due to a mechanical problem, and two passengers demanded to leave, the second becoming 'rude and indignant' when the door could not be opened immediately.

  2. American Airlines Flight 43, flying from Logan Airport and scheduled to leave at 8:10 a. m., was cancelled due to mechanical problems, and was the subject of FBI interest as a possible subject of a hijacking (scroll down to the article "FBI probes 5th flight for hijackers").

  3. Nine men and one woman carrying knives, false identification cards, and flying licenses/certificates from Flight Safety International (where Abdulrahmen Alomari, the two Bukhari's, and Amar Kamfar, all of whom had their identities stolen by the terrorists, took flying lessons!)) in Vero Beach, Florida were detained (or here) trying to board flights at JFK and LaGuardia (it is not clear enough to tell if some of these overlap with those described in my first numbered paragraph). One of them was carrying a false pilot's license.

  4. Ayub Ali Khan, and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath (Khan is possibly actually Gul Mohammed Shah), carrying box cutters, hair dye and as much as $20,000 in cash, were headed for San Antonio aboard an Amtrak train on Wednesday, September 12 when they were detained in Fort Worth. The men had been aboard a jet that left Newark at about the same time on the morning of September 11 as Flight 93. Khan and Azmath's flight from Newark was scheduled to continue to San Antonio after a stop in St. Louis. The pair bought train tickets after the flight was grounded in St. Louis. In line with hijacker practice, thay appeared to use the identity of a San Antonio doctor, Dr. Al-Badr Al Hazmi, who was arrested in the early morning hours of September 12, and released on September 24 after being cleared. It gets even more complicated, and initially caused confusion, as whoever was using the name of Dr. Al Hazmi also used false identification bearing the name of one of the hijackers, Khalid Almidhar. It was originally thought the two men on the train were coming to meet Dr. Al Hazmi, but it appears that they may have been coming to meet whoever it was had stolen the doctor's identity. Khan and Azmath were not held for terrorism, but only for irregularities in the passports they were using, and credit card fraud, and presumably have perfectly innocent explanations! Of course, the oddity is that someone apparently stole Dr. Al Hazmi's identity, and there was probably a connection between that person and Khalid Almidhar. I doubt that the authorities have completely explained what was going on here.

  5. Khalid S.S. Al Draibi:

    "Perhaps the most intriguing fellow to be detained after the attacks is Khalid S.S. Al Draibi. About 12 hours after the planes crashed, a police officer in Manassas Park, Va., pulled Al Draibi over. He was about 10 miles along the highway that leads north from Dulles International Airport, and he was so eager to leave that he was driving with a flat tire and bending his rim. When Al Draibi's white Lincoln Town Car was searched, the cop and an FBI agent found aviation manuals. He was charged with an immigration violation for lying to the agent about his citizenship--Saudi, not American, as he first said."


    "Since coming to the U.S. in 1997, Al Draibi has used at least 10 variations on his name, three Social Security numbers and driver's licenses from five states. He took flight classes in Alabama and Kansas."

    Yikes! Yet he was sentenced to only four months for immigration matters and ordered to be deported, yet another victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  6. Subash Gurung, from Nepal, was caught boarding a plane in early November 2001 with seven knives (two other knives had been confiscated by airport security, but the crack team of security experts didn't feel there was any reason to check his luggage), a can of mace and a stun gun. CNN determined that Gurung listed the same Chicago apartment building as Ayub Ali Khan had as an address, but a 'government source' stated that Khan never actually lived or worked in the Chicago apartment, and : "many phone calls were made to and from that apartment, and credit card bills were paid from that address." I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, unless the source is trying to indicate that this address was some sort of terrorist maildrop. In any event, we have already seen that Khan appears to be innocent of terrorism, and Gurung turned out to be suffering from schizophrenia, an illness that caused paranoia which led to his carrying all the weapons. The authorities felt that he was also innocent of terrorism. He was held and given medical treatment, and eventually sentenced to time served and ordered deported on immigration offences.

  7. Box cutters were later found on other flights (but of course might have been of some use by cleaning crews in the aircraft). Of course, one could also consider the airport employees, at the Washington airports and at Logan, who were arrested after September 11, all or nearly all of whom had at most committed immigration offences. Presumably, these arrests were just for show, and the real terrorists, who must have assisted the hijackers in putting weapons on the planes, remain at large.


  1. What happened to the mysterious passengers who slipped away? Were they hijackers?

  2. What has happened to all the suspicious passengers who were taken into custody? This is the area where suspicions would be created if any of these people were to disappear, as one might then think that the government did not want these people subject to interrogation which might reveal who they were really working for. I'd be particularly curious about anyone who took flight training in Vero Beach.

  3. What's the deal with the Chicago address that seemed to somehow connect non-terrorist Gurung to non-terrorist Khan, and does this somehow relate to the stolen identity of Dr. Al Hazmi and the connection of whoever stole his identity to Khalid Almidhar? Was it just a coincidence that Khan and Azmath were headed to San Antonio, or were they somehow fooled into going there as part of a larger intrigue?

  4. What do aircraft cleaners and maintenance men do with boxcutters stashed on airplanes? What happened to the airport security workers who must have assisted the hijackers in getting weapons on the planes?

Sunday, October 20, 2002

We have seen in the months since September 11 a version of racial profiling gone wild, with many young men detained by the U. S. government simply for the fact of their Arab racial background. Thousands of these men have been detained, many of them for months, without proper access to legal representation. Most of these arrests are of highly questionable constitutionality, but the victims have been so traumatized by the experience it is unlikely that they will do much complaining. I would assume, however, that the Muslim and Arab communitities in the United States, which have not been overtly political, have been greatly politicized by these experiences, and with the high growth rate of these populations we will start to see aggressive courting of these voters by U. S. politicians. The real Israeli demographic problem, which has been said to be the higher birth rates of non-Jews in Israel, is probably the fall in the number of Jews in the United States coupled with the rapid growth of the now politically-aware Arab population, a combination which should lead to an eventual decided change in U. S. attitudes towards Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. An awareness of this problem by the Israeli government may form the main basis for the increase in speed and ferocity of this ethnic cleansing, not to mention the warmongering over Iraq and the possible use of the U. S. war against Iraq as an excuse for the Israeli 'final solution' of forced mass 'transfer' of the Palestinians to a soon-to-be-much-larger Jordan.

Friday, October 18, 2002

The random shootings that are currently terrorizing Maryland and Virginia brought to my memory the random shootings committed by Mir Amal (or Aimal) Kansi (or Kasi - best to search under 'Mir Aimal Kansi') in Langley, Virginia in 1993 (the best article on this is in Prevailing Winds Magazine, but only a part appears to be on the internet). Mir Aimal Kansi allegedly got out of his car and started shooting an AK-47 assault rifle at and into cars containing CIA employees who were waiting on the highway to turn in to go to work for the CIA. He killed two and injured others, before managing to flee, ending up in Afghanistan (how he managed to get away so easily is one of the mysteries of the case). He was eventually captured in Pakistan right on the Afghan border, returned to the U. S. (the U. S. basically paid to have him extradited, an issue which caused controversy and political unrest in Pakistan, led to the retaliatory killings of Americans in Pakistan, and is reminiscent of the eagerness with which the Pakistani ISI has recently been capturing 'al-Qaeda' members), tried, and convicted. The whole story never made much sense. Why would he shoot at random targets, not knowing who he was shooting except that they were probably employees of the CIA? Wasn't this a terribly inefficient way of killing people, particularly since the cars themselves provided some protection against the shots? This had to be the stupidest possible terrorist attack (or was it really not a terrorist attack?). Was his shooting really random, or was he trying to hit a specific person (some accounts are to the effect that he targeted specific agents, but he denies that he had specific targets, and how would he know who was going to be coming along at that time?)? Did he just have a general complaint against the CIA, based perhaps on his possible relationship with them? In the light of more recent terrorism, his actions may take on a new light. It is interesting that even after all this time no one has found a motive for the murders, or at least no one will admit to finding one.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Some thoughts on the Maryland/Virginia sniper:

  1. It is difficult to think of the sniper without reflection on the American gun fetish culture, with its weird appeals to the authority of the Constitution, the supposed utility of guns in defending the patriotic citizen against the despotic government (as if guns would avail such a citizen - just ask the Palestinians how useful their guns are against the American-supplied helicopters and the American-supplied jet bombers and the tanks paid for with American dollars - for that matter, just ask the Branch Davidians how useful their guns were), and the essentially racist appeal of a gun as a personal defense against crime, i. e., attacks by scary black people. The current approach of the gun fetishists is to claim that this shooter isn't really a sniper, as if the 'hobby' of being a sniper is one that shouldn't have its good name sullied by associating it with such a loser. This is particularly amusing as the loser is just doing in real life what the sniper hobbyists are practising to do in fantasy. In any event, this line of argument raises serious problems for the gun nuts. Gun technology has progressed to the point that practically anyone with easily available equipment can now shoot and kill someone from a distance far enough away that discovering the shooter is just about impossible. Added to that is the fact that the gun and ammunition combination makes very little sound when it is fired. Such sniping may very well approximate 'the perfect crime'. The availability of the gun technology means that this outrageous series of attacks could be replicated by anyone, and Americans just have another thing to be terrified about. Of course, restricting availability of this gun technology would solve the problem, but the gun nut lobby would never allow that to happen.

  2. Were I the sniper, I would scout out some good locations to find my targets. Gasoline stations are perfect as they are open and well lit, and the gas customer has to stand still while pumping the gas. I would pick targets near some form of cover, particularly some sort of wooded area. I would then drive my car to the wooded area, park, and hide myself for the attack. If anyone accosted me, I would simply say I was out hunting 'varmints', a perfectly normal response in a gun culture. When I had my target lined up, in each case I would wait for a white van to pass before shooting. Then I would calmly walk back to my car and drive off.

  3. About a year ago, Democratic lawmakers in Washington were under attack by the still mysterious anthrax mailer. This attack seems to have been understood as a threat, and the Democrats have been lapdogs for the Bush agenda ever since. On October 1, Bush's press secretary, in referring to the high cost of the war against Iraq, said: "The cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less than that" (slightly different wording reported here). The first shooting was on October 2. The issue of the Congressional response to Bush's request for carte blanche on his little war on Iraq was being discussed. While the shootings were still going on, on October 10 the House gave Bush his wish, and the Senate followed suit in the early morning of October 11. The Democrats again completely gave Bush what he wanted, claiming that one of the most important decisions they have ever made had to be taken as a matter of political tactics. Was a message being sent and received? So why don't the shootings stop? I suppose it might be prudent to keep the shootings coming for a while so that the connection to U. S. politics isn't too obvious. When they find the lone nut, it will no doubt turn out that he had some insane problem with society, or so we will be told. The inevitable shoot-out will leave the supposed shooter dead.

  4. An Islamic terrorist? With no one taking credit for the shootings, they serve no purpose to Islamic terrorists (I think people need to pay more attention to the essential connection between publicity and terrorism). The rate of killing is insignificant for any useful terrorist attack. Leaving a pagan tarot card behind, if that was not some kind of hoax, also seems rather blasphemous.

Monday, October 14, 2002

A summary of thoughts on al-Qaeda (I use that term for the sake of simplicity, although it may not be the name actually used by bin Laden and his associates) and September 11:

  1. The U. S. used the events of September 11 as an excuse to fight terrorism by fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, but it has become clear that there never was much of an al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan, and whatever few were there were very mobile and simply left. One recent report has the al-Qaeda membership at only 200, and it is possible that the threat and size of al-Qaeda has been exaggerated by the U. S. for its own political purposes (and U. S. officials can't seem to keep their stories straight). The U. S. has been fighting various warlord factions, and accidentally taking sides in local tribal disputes, since the early days of the war, and is only keeping up the pretense that it is fighting al-Qaeda to hide the fact that the whole Afghan war is a sham to replace the Taliban with a regime more agreeable to U. S. interests (the British got out when they realized what a farce the war on al-Qaeda was). Much of the war consists of the bribing of various warlords to fight against other warlords. Now that the Taliban is gone, the war continues as an attempt to ensure that there is one governing body over the whole country, so that security can be provided for the planned pipelines. There have been recent attempts to downplay the importance of petrochemical pipelines as the American secret motivation for the Afghan war, but it seems to me that the pipelines are an integral part of the larger goal of increasing U. S hegemony in Central Asia, and it is a mistake to ignore the importance of petrochemicals in anything the U. S. does, particularly in the current parlous state of the U. S. political system, which is run completely by and for the interests of oil and military-industrial complex executives. For such an expensive operation as the Afghan war to be greenlighted, a number of groups with political power have to be placated, and the pipeline companies (rather than focus only on Unocal, we mustn't forget Enron and Haliburton) are one of these groups. On the other hand, it is likely that the pipeline motive is only one of many.

  2. The roots of al-Qaeda, and the fame of bin Laden, go back to the use of Islamic fighters, the mujahideen, to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. This was a U. S. operation planned and run by the CIA, and something the Americans are still proud of. This operation appears to be the point when the CIA and the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, became fast friends. Indeed, since that time, despite the vagaries of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States, the ISI has seemed to operate as more or less a branch operation of the CIA in both Pakistan and Afghanistan (the huge amount of noise in the American press about how the ISI is riddled with Islamic fundamentalists seems to be disinformation, or perhaps more accurately, misdirection). The whole country of Afghanistan has been run as a sort of second-rate colony of the United States, and the irony is that the ISI helped to put the Taliban in power in Afghanistan as a means of obtaining a friendly civil power over the whole country. The problem with the Taliban wasn't its religious views or its position on the place of women in society. The problem with the Taliban was that it could never get control of the whole country. At some point, it was decided to replace the Taliban with various warlords called the 'Northern Alliance' (once, as we shall see below, the 'Northern Alliance' was rendered more tractable through the removal of its independently-minded leader), in the hopes that a more useful satrapy would result. That government is currently in place. All you need to know about it can be summed up by the fact that the security for the head of state is now provided by the American military, meaning that Afghan government policy had better be agreeable to American interests or the guards may find their attentions momentarily distracted at an inopportune time (this same sort of thing has been going on in Saudi Arabia, where government security has been trained by and provided by American mercenary corporations). It is not an exaggeration to say that, since the Russians were forced out, Afghanistan has been run, in one way or another, by the CIA. You could look on the current Afghan war as being largely just another part in the ongoing control of Afghanistan, and the continuation of this control, rather than any specific reason, is the real motivation for the war. The recent war was the removal of one CIA/ISI puppet government and its replacement by another CIA/ISI puppet government. If you are looking for the main reason for the war, I suspect it is simply to maintain the U. S. hegemony over Afghanistan, and the war is part of the continued 'Great Game' in Central Asia.

  3. As I have already written, there is a connection between CIA training and support for al-Qaeda members fighting in Kosovo and Macedonia, and heroin production in Afghanistan (and, if you really want to go further, this sort of connection is the real reason for the 'war on drugs', which is simply a method of supporting drug prices and drug profits and to use the fact of the drug trade and part of the profits therefrom to facilitate certain intelligence goals, not to mention the domestic use of the 'war on drugs' to fill the prisons of the prison-industrial complex, provide an excuse for racist social control, and, as a bonus, disenfranchise - both within the strict letter of the racist law and, as we saw in the last U. S. Presidential election, illegally to ensure that Gore voters were not allowed to vote in Florida - many minorities in order to control the electoral process). The CIA has a strange way of showing up wherever there is a drug smuggling/production operation, and never in the context of trying to suppress the operation. It is quite remarkable that CIA-trained al-Qaeda fighters associated with Kosovo heroin smugglers are fighting American-supported (through NATO) Macedonian soldiers at the same time that Bush is saying that al-Qaeda is the greatest threat to America. Afghanistan had been the world's largest producer of opium poppies. In fact, the CIA used the ISI to promote opium production in Afghanistan in order to create heroin addiction in Russian troops (and the ISI has subsequently taken an entrepreneurial interest in heroin production in order to fund its activities - the combination of entrepreneurial interests and intelligence may be the greatest evidence of CIA influence!). It is surely not a coincidence that while opium poppy production was almost completely suppressed by the Taliban, it has been restored to almost its pre-Taliban levels by the new warlords, and this opium is converted into heroin and eventually distributed in Europe by the CIA allies in Kosovo.

  4. Ali Mohamed was the guy who was such a raging Islamic fundamentalist that he got kicked out of the Egyptian army, only to come to the U. S. and work his way up to sergeant in the U. S. army. While there, it was an open secret that he worked as some kind of operative in the war against the Russians in Afghanistan, a role which he continued after he 'left' the U. S. army. The only problem was that he either was always working for Islamic fundamentalism or somehow got turned (or, even scarier, as we shall see, that it is quite possible to work for U. S. government interests and Islamic fundamentalism at the same time), and ended up plotting the terrorist attacks against the two U. S. embassies in Africa, for which he is now in jail. Somewhere in the middle of all this, he became an informant for the FBI on alien smuggling into the U. S., a subject on which he was well qualified as he was at the same time smuggling Islamic fundamentalists into the U. S. from Vancouver (you can't make this stuff up!). He was also the first person to inform the FBI about the existence of al-Qaeda. We have to therefore assume that whoever was behind al-Qaeda wanted the FBI to find out about al-Qaeda. We also have to remember that Mohamed had been in the U. S. Army while probably doing some form of covert operation in Afghanistan. This raises the rather odd idea that one part of the U. S. government was possibly directing the attentions of the FBI in the direction of al-Qaeda, and that direction may have been intended to mislead. It is even possible that the FBI's complete ineptness in investigating terrorism was at least partly caused by misdirection of other parts of the U. S. government.

  5. At the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, a large number of al-Qaeda members assembled in Kabul and were flown out of the country in Pakistani military helicopters, all while the U. S. forces watched. There have subsequently been other stories from incredulous Afghans about how the American forces seemed incapable of stopping the flight of trapped al-Qaeda members, and showed tremendously poor military strategy in letting bin Laden escape. Since then, the Americans have been wandering around Afghanistan blowing up wedding parties, acting like thugs, and wondering out loud just where did all the al-Qaeda members get to (you can't make this stuff up!). They appear to be trying very hard not to catch Mullah Omar. There is really no way to categorize the Afghan operation than as a disaster, at least if we are to take U. S. military goals at face value. To any unbiassed observer, it is crystal clear that the U. S. military allowed the majority of the Arab and European al-Qaeda members, and all al-Qaeda leaders, to escape. This is the type of thing that could make one cynical of the American logic of the war on terror in Afghanistan as an attack on al-Qaeda.

  6. Sudan may have offered to turn bin Laden over to the Clinton administration in 1996, but was turned down. John O'Neill met great resistance from the American ambassador to Yemen in his attempts to investigate the attack on the USS Cole, and eventually resigned from the FBI in disgust that bin Laden was being protected by the U. S. government. FBI agents noticed that a large number of Arab students were taking flight training in the United States, originally drew the conclusion that the students intended to use the planes to attack the U. S., but may have been put off the trail by the argument that these people were training to be pilots for bin Laden's operations in Afghanistan, and thus, even though bin Laden was at the time considered to be a wanted man by U. S. authorities, they left the student pilots alone. All this only makes sense if we see bin Laden as an American operative (and he may have been working for the British too!).

  7. Osama bin Laden is on some accounts very sick (possibly of kidney disease caused when he was poisoned by the U. S.). It was reported that he was treated at a Dubai hospital in June 2001, and was even visited there by the CIA representative in Dubai. Of course, everyone denies that bin Laden was in Dubai hospital (including bin Laden!), and the CIA denies that their representative met with bin Laden. On the other hand, the whole Dubai story has a certain logic. If bin Laden was very sick, he would have wanted to visit a high standards hospital which would admit him. The closest one in the Arab world is probably in Dubai. The Emirates would want to keep the Saudis happy, as bin Laden is from a family of power in Saudi Arabia. The Emirates also want to keep the Americans happy, and as a diplomatic nicety might very well have informed them of their visitor and given them permission to talk to them. Is it so surprising that the U. S. might send a representative over for a little chat? At its most innocent, this might be just to carry the message that the U. S. was still after bin Laden (although given that the Sudan may have offered to turn bin Laden over to the Americans and was turned down by the Clinton administration, one has to wonder just how badly the Americans actually wanted bin Laden, and indeed, wonder on whose side the Americans felt bin Laden was operating). At its least innocent, the CIA representative may have been passing on information to an old friend of the U. S. from his days of fighting the Russians, and a man who might still be more than just a friend.

  8. It is notable that no one really took credit for the September 11 terrorism (except the Japanese Red Army and some obviously faked videos, one of which contains the names of all 19 of the official hijackers, when even the FBI acknowledges that some of the names on the list were the names of people from whom the identities were stolen!). The whole point of terrorism is to create terror and link it to a list of political demands. With the exception of some rather coy remarks by bin Laden, and the recent highly questionable videos (and, of course, the point of taking credit for the terrorism is to take credit for it immediately, not to wait a year or so later and do it as an aside), al-Qaeda has never taken credit for the September 11 terrorism. It makes no sense to go to the trouble, expense and risk of such an operation and then fail to use its full political implications. The whole point of terrorism is to use terror as a political weapon, and quiet terrorism is senseless. What can we learn from the failure to take full credit for what has to be the most successful terrorist operation in history? Answer: it was not a terrorist operation in the traditional sense; it was an operation intended to allow the U. S. government an excuse to engage in various military actions which benefitted both certain U. S. interests and the interests of al-Qaeda leaders.

  9. Whatever the role of al-Qaeda in the terrorism, we know they must have had help, at a very sophisticated level and probably from an intelligence agency, at creating the complex composite identities of the actors playing the terrorists. There is simply no way that a group like al-Qaeda could have stolen the identities of a number of Middle Eastern men, some of whom had studied in the United States, and combined these identities with U. S. components, including having some of the operatives attend U. S. military schools. The extremely expensive operation also must have received funding from a source other than the relatively minor amounts received from al-Qaeda financiers. The complex use and abuse of Islamic fundamentalism by U. S. intelligence agencies, which goes back at least to support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as part of the American fight against Nasserism, needs to be considered whenever we hear U. S. propaganda about the 'war on terror'.

  10. Just a few days before September 11, on September 8 to be exact, some men posing as journalists visited Ahmed Shah Massood, the most plausible man to lead Afghanistan once the Taliban were removed. In their camera was a bomb, and it exploded killing the fake journalists and Massood (although this is supposed to be an al-Qaeda assassination, the use of a bomb in a television camera sounds more like James Bond than bin Bond, and may betray at least the assistance of a sophisticated intelligence agency). The removal of Massood was probably a precondition of the September 11 attack on the United States, as it created a vacuum of leadership in Afghanistan if the Taliban were removed. Since this assassination occurred before September 11, it is possible to see the U. S. attack on Afghanistan as being part of a larger plan which might have included at least some foreknowledge on the part of the U. S. government of the timing and general nature of the attack on September 11 (it had to be sufficiently serious to be used as an excuse for the already-planned attack on Afghanistan). Once Massood was removed, the American removal of the Taliban wouldn't just lead to the replacement by the Taliban by Massood, a man who would have been independent of the U. S. Although Massood was not a friend of the Taliban, there was no obvious reason for al-Qaeda to kill him unless it was part of a larger plot.

  11. Perhaps the single most insightful article I've read on the politics of the situation in Afghanistan was published by the Washington Post in November 2001. It is mainly about the extraordinary trip of Abdul Haq across Afghanistan by horse, practically unarmed, to get to Kabul and perhaps negotiate to become leader of the country. The trip ended in the capture, torture, and death of Haq. It has largely been forgotten in the ensuing Afghan war, but is one of the two incidents that are the most important for understanding what is really going on (the other important domestic Afghan incident was the assassination of Massood, the two Afghan assassinations which nicely bookend September 11). Haq was sponsored by the Ritchie brothers, Chicago commodity traders who grew up in Afghanistan and have a special, and suspicious, interest in it (and possible CIA connections). When Haq got into trouble he used his satellite phone to call Robert 'Bud' McFarlane (YES! - of Iran-Contra fame, pardoned by Bush's father, and exactly the kind of guy who would be up to his neck in the Iran-Contra style of intelligence-political intrigue - you just can't make this stuff up!), who arranged for a CIA rescue operation. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the CIA arrived just too late to save him (you know you're really in trouble if the guy who you have to phone to be rescued is Robert McFarlane!). It is indeed quite possible that the CIA tipped the ISI off as to Haq's whereabouts, and the ISI then told the Taliban. Haq, who after the equally convenient assassination of Massood was the most plausible man to lead the country, was now out of the picture, and a stooge less likely to be independent could be installed as leader.

  12. It seems to me that the best way to understand al-Qaeda, especially in these globalist times, is as a brand. A group of Islamic fundamentalists, possibly led by Ayman Zawahiri, head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, determined that from time to time it would be useful to label their operations with one memorable name. This would create some 'brand loyalty', leading to better fundraising and recruiting as only the most spectacular and successful operations would bear the superior 'al-Qaeda' marque ('al-Qaeda, your guarantee of quality terrorism'). Al-Qaeda is just the application of modern advertising and branding techniques to terrorism. At the same time, the various fundamentalist groups could maintain their separate identities for their own local operations, thus making it difficult for law enforcement to focus on the identity of al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda members had no badges, uniforms or membership cards, and in the event of attack could (and did) scatter to the four winds. It was a huge strategic mistake to attack al-Qaeda as if it were an army (which is why a relatively modest police operation would have been far more likely to capture bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders, and would have therefore created much greater U. S. security against terrorism, but sadly wouldn't have allowed Bush's oily friends to make a killing on the Afghan war and exploiting Afghanistan). The al-Qaeda members have either hidden in friendly countries, or returned to their originating countries, where they are more dangerous than if they were still stuck in primitive Afghanistan (the Arab al-Qaeda members apparently complained bitterly about how awful it was to live and attempt to run any kind of an operation in a country as primitive as Afghanistan). The al-Qaeda leadership may have actually anticipated the attack on Afghanistan and been ready to establish themselves elsewhere. It is impossible to believe that the American strategists were so stupid as to be unaware that their military campaign in Afganistan wouldn't be a total failure at suppressing al-Qaeda, and the fact that the U. S. military watched as the al-Qaeda members left only adds to the certainty that the Afghan war had nothing to do with terrorism.

  13. There are many different ways that people with different agendas can end up working together. For example, bin Laden was able to work with the Americans in Afghanistan in fighting the Russians as both he and the Americans shared the goal of removing the Russians from Afghanistan. Bin Laden not only fought the Russians, he also acted as a contractor for the CIA in building the cave fortresses which al-Qaeda ironically used in their stay in Afghanistan (and hid in until they could be allowed to escape). The complexities of the U. S.-bin Laden relationship also go through his family's very close relationship to the Bush family (don't forget how the only plane allowed to fly in the United States in the wake of the September 11 attack was the plane carrying the members of the bin Laden family living in the United States back home to Saudi Arabia). The Ritchie brothers, who sponsored the ill-fated Haq trip, also sponsored exploratory trips through Afghanistan including one where James Ritchie was accompanied by Charlie Santos, a representative of Delta Oil, which is partly owned by the Al-Amoudi family of Saudi Arabia, a family closely related to the family of Khalid bin Mahfouz, a probable investor in George Bush's company, Harken Energy (what a small world it is - another investor in Harken was James Bath, a possible CIA asset, and it has even been suggested that Harken itself was a CIA front). The September 11 attack has brought with it innumerable benefits for Bush and his friends (just some examples: propping up the aimless Bush regime and restoring its sagging popularity, providing an excuse for military spending that would have been laughable prior to September 11, giving the Christian Right and the Zionist hawks a license to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians, providing the 'war on terror' as an excuse to put all the world's petrochemicals under the control of Bush's corporate cronies, providing the basis for the U. S. fascist security state, including Kamp AshKrofts for American citizens who are deemed to be the enemy for having any disagreements with any of the other benefits, and so on). What benefits has it brought to al-Qaeda and bin Laden? It has completely changed for the worse the United States. It has created a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the United States, and we have recently seen the Saudis publicly refuse to allow the Americans to use Saudi bases from which to attack Iraq, an obvious step towards the first goal of al-Qaeda to get the U. S. military away from Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia. We have also recently seen dissention in the Saudi Court, and the second goal of al-Qaeda is to replace the corrupted colonial governments of the Islamic countries by pure Islamic governments. The Americans and the Israelis have an excuse to attack Iraq, another regime that al-Qaeda would presumably like to see replaced, particularly since Iraq, despite its exteme political repression, is one of the most socially progressive of the Islamic countries (and, not coincidentally, is the Arab oil-producing country where the largest amount of the profits from the oil are actually directed to the needs of the people rather than a tiny oligarchy). The events of September 11 have put the whole Islamic world 'in play', and taken it out of the stability it has been in for many years. This has given the corrupt American government an excuse, through the 'war on terror', to attempt to solidify U. S. control over all the world's oil resources through a series of wars (we now know that planning for control of Middle East oil was in place before the selection of the Bush Administration by the U. S. Supreme Court, and that this planning was done by people who became members of the Bush regime). On its face, this seems to be against the interests of al-Qaeda, but the al-Qaeda leadership presumably knows that the turmoil caused by these wars will eventually (and they calculate their interests on a longer timeline than the Americans, who are always concerned with the next fiscal quarter) lead to the self-destruction of the United States, together with the replacement of all the corrupt regimes in the Islamic Middle East. The collapse of the United States will entail the end of Israel (the third goal of al-Qaeda), as the Israelis have established the basis for their own destruction by antagonizing all the world's countries except the United States. It is thus the paradox that the short-term interests of the U. S. junta coincide exactly with the long-term interests of al-Qaeda. That explains why they work so well together.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Hani Hanjour, the alleged pilot of Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon, bought his ticket on August 31 for the flight using a Virginia driver's license as identification. He fraudulently obtained this identification on August 1, 2001. He went to some trouble, risk and expense to get this identification, driving from New Jersey to Springfield, Virginia, and using fraudulent documentation (another man who obtained the same fraudulent documentation from the same people claims he paid $600 for it). Khalid Almihdhar also went through the same procedure to obtain a Virginia license at the same time (and the two then obtained licenses the next day for Majed Moqed and Salem Alhamzi). Ahmed Alghamdi and Abdulaziz Alomari also obtained Virginia licenses in a slightly more complicated manner using different fraudsters on August 2. On top of all this, Hanjour completed the documentation for Ziad Jarrah to obtain a Virginia license at the end of August (Jarrah used this license when he was stopped for speeding on September 9), for a grand total of seven (all the details are in the Human Events article). Collectively, I'll call the obtaining of these licenses the Virginia Driver's Licenses Incidents (VDLI). I have some comments on the VDLI:

  1. By coincidence, Hanjour also received a speeding ticket on August 1 for driving 55 mph in a 30 mph zone in Arlington, Virginia. When he was stopped he presented a Florida driver’s license that indicated that he lived in Miramar, Florida (he may have also had an Arizona driver's license, which may have been suspended for driving without insurance). He probably hadn't got his Virginia license yet. But why, if he had a Florida license, did he need to get a Virginia license?

  2. Jarrah had obtained a Florida driver's license on May 2, so why did he need a Virginia license?

  3. Khalid Almihdhar was one of the hijackers who was on a 'watch list' and who had flown to Kuala Lumpur for a supposed terrorist meeting. Presumably he had enough identification to take the flights to and from Malaysia. He even flew from New York to Arizona in early July 2001, and presumably needed identification to take this flight. Why then did he need a Virginia license?

  4. Abdulaziz Alomari may also have had a Florida license (although this may reflect confusion with Abdulrahman Alomari, who did have a Florida driver's license).

  5. In contrast, Ahmed Alghamdi may have lost his driver's license in 1995 for failure to pay a fine, and thus stands out as someone who may actually have needed a license in order to have the right type of identification in order to board a plane (although a reference to a 'Ahmed Alghamdi' in 1995 may very well refer to a completely different person).

  6. The theory of the Official Story seems to be that the Virginia licenses were obtained as they would appear to be a more local identification for the hijackers flying out of Dulles. The two terrorists who obtained Virginia licenses who were not to take off from Dulles are explained as the only remaining terrorists without identification. It is also possible that Atta's problem of being stopped for driving without a license inspired the rest of the hijackers to make sure that they all had licenses.

It seems to me that using licenses issued from the same office on the same two days is not a way to appear to be a normal group of independent passengers, and there was a possibility, however slight, that someone might have noticed that all the identifications were similar (four hijackers on Flight 77 were using the same type of identity). The main purposes of the VDLI, other than providing identification for the one or two hijackers who actually needed it, may have been to:

  • provide another public forum for the hijackers to be seen together;

  • provide some documentary evidence to allow the authorities investigating the terrorism to connect the hijackers together and identify the members of the hijacking group (for example, Hanjour, who wasn't on the passenger manifest, may have been identified as part of the Flight 77 group by the fact he obtained his license at the same time as three others of that group); and

  • in the case of the hijackers using stolen identity, provide them with photo identification which more closely resembled them.