Thursday, January 30, 2003

When John O'Neill went to Yemen to investigate the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000, he was frustrated in his investigation by the actions of the U. S. Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, who was supposedly so incensed by O'Neill's undiplomatic attitude towards the Yemenis that she barred him from returning to the country. Barbara Bodine was an appointment of the Clinton administration, and George Bush wasn't selected President until later, but the American Ambassador still made it impossible for O'Neill to investigate what happened in Yemen. Later, when Bush was President, he expressly called off any investigations of bin Laden and the bin Laden family (the fact that Bush continues to get a free pass for this from the U. S. media just shows how corrupted they are), an action which has usually been thought to relate to the close business ties between the bin Laden family and the Bush family, particularly in Saudi financing of early George Bush businesses and Bush's father's involvement in the Carlyle Corporation. O'Neill himself apparently thought that this preferential treatment for the bin Laden family was making his counter-terrorism efforts in the FBI impossible (and may have even felt that he was set up for the incident of the lost briefcase, an incident which may have ruined his chances of promotion, by those in the FBI who didn't appreciate having someone around who wanted to really investigate bin Laden), and he resigned to take the job at the WTC where he died on September 11. Bin Laden associates were commonly thought to be behind the USS Cole attack, as well as the bombings of the U. S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 7, 1998. The Director of the CIA, George Tenet, is reported as immediately thinking of bin Laden when first hearing of the September 11 attacks. It is therefore astonishing that experts in the area of counter-terrorism would think of bin Laden as the main threat to the United States while U. S. investigatory agencies were expressly told to avoid investigating bin Laden or his family. Since O'Neill was being hindered by the United States government in a proper investigation of the USS Cole attack well before Bush was in the White House, we have to assume that people in the U. S. government were trying to hide what happened in Yemen without reference to any specific Bush family business interest in the bin Laden family. So what had been going on in Yemen that was so sensitive that it was necessary to prevent a proper investigation of the USS Cole bombing?:

  1. Yemen is currently an official ally of the United States in the war on terror. We've recently seen the rather bizarre incident where the Spanish, at some risk, were ordered by the U. S. to seize arms coming from North Korea that were supposed to be headed for Iraq. When it turned out they were really headed to Yemen, the U. S. ordered the weapons released to the Yemen government, an action which made the United States look completely ridiculous and angered the Spanish, thus showing that it was thought by American authorities to be absolutely necessary to humor the Yemenis.

  2. Until quite recently, Yemen consisted of North Yemen and South Yemen, with South Yemen being run by quite radical marxists. Both the Americans and the Islamic fundamentalists assisted the current rulers of Yemen to defeat the southern marxists in 1994. This has left the current rulers beholden to the fundamentalists, and there seems to be an understanding in U. S. diplomacy towards Yemen that these fundamentalists have to be catered to (more cynically, one could take the view that the fundamentalists keep the Yemeni government in line with U. S. and British interests). As we shall see, the relationship of the U. S. government to Yemeni fundamentalists is much more complicated than that.

  3. The British have a colonial history, as well as a history of conducting covert operations, in Yemen. Both the British and the Americans have had a role in the development of Islamicist covert operations in Yemen:

    ". . . the southern province of Abyan had emerged as a base for the activities of Yemeni mercenaries of Jaish-e-Mohammed (Mohammed's Army), who had been trained by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, armed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS - popularly known as the MI-6) of the UK and used under the leadership of Osama in the US's proxy war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s and that these mercenaries had formed the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army."

    Here, we start to see the possible roots of American sensitivities about investigations in Yemen: Yemen was being used as the base for training the mujahideen who were successfully used to fight the Russians in Afghanistan (in fact Zbigniew Brzezinski is proud of the fact that the CIA began to aid the mujahideen before the Russians invaded Afghanistan, and indeed the U. S. actions may have helped to provoke the invasion). This operation ties together the intelligence agencies of Pakistan, the U. S. and Britain, and none less than Osama bin Laden, who first made a name for himself fighting in Afghanistan. The essential deal is that the CIA and the Saudi government would provide money, the ISI would provide the training and would set up camps in Pakistan, and the trained troops would fight the Russians in Afghanistan. This whole enterprise worked so well that it continued even after the Russians were defeated in Afghanistan: in the southern parts of the Soviet Union adjacent to Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Bosnia and Kosovo (besides the Americans, the German intelligence agency BND was also involved in training KLA terrorists, an intriguing connection as the September 11 terrorists were originally based in Germany, acted much more like intelligence agents than pious Muslims, and it has been reported that Atta's friends in Florida seemed to be Germans; it is also interesting that the families of a number of the 9-11 terrorists lost track of their sons when these sons went to fight jihad in Chechnya, presumably as part of the same mujahideen group; the 'Unified Theory of 9-11' might involve a combination of intelligence agents and mujahideen veterans) and Macedonia (generally, for the Balkans, see here - the single most amazing incident remains the fact that the U. S. was providing training and material assistance to KLA Albanians fighting against Macedonia while simultaneously helping to defend against these fighters), in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia (American troops are now in Georgia to pacify the situation sufficiently so that the pipeline from Baku can be built, which is ironic as the Islamicists in the Pankisi Gorge who have caused trouble also come out of this mujahideen group), and in Chechnya (while Putin and Bush are supposed to be close friends, they must have some interesting private conversations about Chechnya). The Egyptian government had blocked the return of the Afghanistan mujahideen veterans as it feared they would continue their jihad against the Egyptian government, so they regrouped in Yemen to continue their training. The man supposedly behind the plot to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993, Sheik Abdel Omar Rahman, was also part of this Anglo-American operation, and was actually brought into the U. S. on a CIA-sponsored visa (whenever you see the term 'blowback', be very suspicious, as it appears to be the official way to claim that the consequences of U. S. intelligence actions were unintended). The constant complaints we now hear from the U. S. about how awful it is that the Saudis have financed terrorism must sound funny to the Saudis, seeing as they have funded terrorism under the auspices of, and at the urging of, the CIA.

  4. The mujahideen who had formed the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army went on to create some mischief in Yemen, most notably the bombing of a hotel that had recently contained U. S. troops in 1992, and the kidnapping of a number of Britons in late 1998. The kidnappers were caught, but not before some of the hostages were killed. The ringleader of the kidnapping, Abu al-Hassan, a man who was later executed by the Yemenis, immediately after the kidnapping telephoned the imam of the Finsbury Park mosque in London, Abu Hamza. Abu Hamza (website of his organization) has been one of these rabble-rousing British imams, calling for actions by his audience that might easily be thought of as seditious against the British state. Despite that, he has not been arrested, although he had been ordered to stop speaking in his mosque, an order he has blatantly disobeyed (the British have also refused to extradite Abu Hamza to Yemen). The mosque has now been raided in the wake of the recent British ricin scare (which of course may just be the British form of the constant terror alerts in the United States intended to keep up support for the war on terror, including the attack to steal Iraq's oil), and Abu Hamza, although not under arrest, may finally be under some risk of being deported (although I don't know many countries which deport their own citizens unless the citizenship was obtained through fraud).

  5. I have posted about the odd case of Zainulabidin and his unusual terrorist training company, Sakina Security Services, a company which seemed to be quite active at one time in sending young Muslim men in Britain for training in combat techniques, supposedly to enable them to fight jihad (British authorities now claim to have identified exactly 1,192 Britons who have trained with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network in Afghanistan). Despite this history, Zainulabidin managed to convice a British court in August that he had nothing to do with terrorism. British 'security services' interviewed the head of Sakina, Mohammad Jameel, who had been allowed to continue with his training business despite the fact that the group of young British Muslims who were arrested in Yemen in 1999 on charges of trying to overthrow the Government, presumably referring to the 1998 kidnappers, had been trained by him. Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed heads Al-Muhajiroun, the organization supposedly dedicated to setting up an Islamic state in Britain. Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed has been connected both to Sakina and to bin Laden, and is known for his rabble-rousing statements in favor of radical Islam.

  6. Zacarias Moussaoui has been complaining that the man who he feels betrayed him in Britain, Atif (or Atef) Ahmed, was a British intelligence agent who should be interrogated about the official knowledge of Moussaoui before he reached the United States. Ahmed was picked up, but then inexplicably released, and has completely disappeared (see the two excellent articles on this mystery man by Jacob Levich). Both Moussaoui and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, attended the Finsbury Park mosque. It appears that this mosque was under considerable covert surveillance: "Britain's powerful spy agencies found the Finsbury Park mosque a valuable surveillance post for watching al Qaeda's web of contacts."

In summary:

  • Yemen was recently constructed, with American amd Islamic fundamentalist help, and the fundamentalists have earned a certain amount of favors from the current Yemeni government

  • the British and Americans sponsored training camps in, amongst other places, Yemen, to train fighters who were successfully used in Afghanistan to entice the Soviets into Afghanistan and fight the Soviets there and across the border in neighboring Soviet states

  • Osama bin Laden, whose father was originally from the south Yemeni province of Hadramawt, also sponsored these fighters, and had risen to prominence fighting the Russians in Afghanistan

  • the same fighters reformed themselves into a group called the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, a group which had some connection, through its leader, to radical British imam Abu Hamza, and some connection, through Sakina Security Services, to radical British imam Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed

  • the same fighters have been used to fight Soviet, and then Russian, interests in the southern parts of the Soviet Union, against Russian ally Serbia in Bosnia and Kosovo, in Macedonia, Georgia, and in Chechnya, and in many cases these fighters have received financial and technical support from the CIA up to this very moment

  • young Muslim men in mosques in Britain with radical imams have been recruited into fundamentalist fighting forces used in various parts of the world, and the failure of British authorities to rein in the crazy imams probably relates, not to freedom of speech concerns, but to the fact that they wanted to continue to manipulate and exploit these Muslim youth for Anglo-American geopolitcal purposes, particularly against the Russians (the British have a history of convenient 'laxness' in monitoring Islamicist terrorists working out of London, a 'laxness' which seems to hide the use by British intelligence of these groups)

  • at the same time that the British were playing the game of manipulating young British Muslims, the British intelligence agencies had also extensive intelligence operations in the mosques.

Yemen, and the odd connections of the Finsbury Park mosque to terrorism, lead us to four conclusions:

  1. Quite understandably, British intelligence had infiltrated the Finsbury Park mosque, and was using agents, probably including Atif Ahmed, to spy on its members.

  2. British intelligence agencies were assisting the Americans in Cold War battles against the Soviet Union, using Islamic fundamentalists as proxy fighters, and doing nothing to discourage the recruitment and training of such fighters (including doing nothing to stop radical Islamicists from stirring up Muslim youth to join the fight against the perceived enemies of Islam).

  3. After the Cold War, these operations continued against the Russians, but, in the absence of the Soviet Union as the common enemy, some of the terrorist operations may have turned back against the British and Americans (or at least we're spposed to believe that they did).

  4. Any type of deep investigation of the USS Cole terrorist attack might well have led back to people trained by or on behalf of the CIA in the training camps set up by the CIA and MI-6 in Yemen, and therefore investigation of the USS Cole attack had to be suppressed. If John O'Neill had been allowed to do his job, he might have been able to undermine the terrorist/intelligence networks that were responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

The United States reportedly plans to launch 300 to 400 missiles on Baghdad on the first day of Bush's war, followed by another 300 to 400 missiles the second day (note the quote by Dan Rather in the left-hand column!!). One Pentagon official said: "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad." Harlan Ullman (note the military/investment combination in the biography), one of the authors of the plan, said:

"You're sitting in Baghdad and all of a sudden you're the general and 30 of your division headquarters have been wiped out. You also take the city down. By that I mean you get rid of their power, water. In 2,3,4,5 days they are physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted."

The humanitarian Pentagon planners are afraid that the 'collateral damage' caused by this kind of attack on a city of four million people, most of whom are civilians, will create bad public relations (I'll say). This plan is actually part of Pentagon strategic planning, and is called "shock and awe" or "Rapid Dominance" (see "Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance" - note the cynical reference, in Chapter 3, to "innocent civilians") or "Rapid Aerospace Dominance". It is simply obscene to describe the civilian deaths caused by 600 to 800 missiles in a heavily urban area as 'collateral damage'. No matter how 'smart' your missiles are, the deaths caused by them are not collateral, but have to be the main point of the exercise (watch how this will be finessed by the disgusting U. S. press by focussing on children being used as 'human shields', as if the deaths caused by the Pentagon missiles landing on a city will be Saddam's fault). This doctrine is not new: it is the Blitzkrieg or the work of Bomber Harris, or, for that matter, the recent bombing of Serbia (at least in the case of Bomber Harris an argument could be made that British planners honestly believed that the bombing of civilians in Germany might shorten the war, an argument not morally open to the Pentagon as this will not be a war but simply an unprovoked attack). We're seeing this weird psychopathic Pentagon thinking becoming ever more part of the mainstream, up to the point where the use of nuclear bombs will be described as a 'humanitarian' option (on the same basis - that it will end the war faster). This plan applied to an urban area is simply a war crime.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Two excellent fake Bush speeches: the first one is now almost legendary (not to mention prescient), and the second is also destined to be a classic. Do you detect that the second one has an air of bitterness not present in the first one, perhaps because the situation became less funny once it actually became real? Parody is difficult when the worst thing you can imagine isn't quite bad enough.
Judicial Watch is attempting to use the Freedom of Information Act to investigate the decision of the Bush Administration to place White House staff accompanying Vice President Dick Cheney as he was rushed off to Camp David on a regimen of Cipro, starting on the night of September 11, 2001. President Bush may have been taking it as well (but as Bush has refused to say if he had been tested for anthrax and has avoided the question, this issue remains open). In the light of the subsequent anthrax attacks, and without any rational explanation, this is very suspicious. Judicial Watch is complaining that the Bush Administration has failed to provide a complete and accurate response to its Freedom of Information Act request. I have some questions:

  1. Penicillin, tetracycline and doxycycline are all equally as good against anthrax as is Cipro. I understood that Cipro was chosen as the U. S. public health response to a terrorist anthrax attack in order to benefit the manufacturer, Bayer, who still had a patent on it (i. e., just a little more crony capitalism with an old pal of the Bush family going back to the Nazi days). Why choose Cipro for the covert White House program if other drugs would do just as well? Is it possible that the program had another problem in mind other than anthrax?

  2. Cipro is indicated as a drug for anthrax which you take after you are exposed to anthrax, but before you start to develop symptoms.

  3. Cipro is not the kind of thing you would normally take as a prophylactic drug, simply because it is a powerful antibiotic and can have serious side-effects. You would only take it if you were sure you really needed to take it.

  4. The timing is odd. If the U. S. military was behind the anthrax attacks (and every indication is that, at the very least, people associated with U. S. military biological warfare programs were behind the attacks), wouldn't the Bush Administration know more accurately about the timing of the attacks? NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw's assistant received treatment for cutaneous anthrax on October 1 (the letter to Brokaw actually warned him to "Take Penacilin Now"). The Florida tabloid photo editor, the first person known to have died in the scare, died on October 5. Tom Daschle received his anthrax in a letter on October 12, and 28 of his staff tested positive by October 17. What riles Judicial Watch is that the Postal Service only begin preventive antibiotic treatment on October 23 (after two postal workers had already died). Around this time a small amount of anthrax was found in a sorting office at Anacostia Naval Station which handles mail for the White House. Why did the White House start so early on its own Cipro program?

  5. Cipro is actually the indicated drug for urinary tract infections and prostatitis. Was the Bush Administration fearful that living with Dick Cheney at an 'undisclosed location' would lead to an oubreak of venereal disease?

  6. Is it possible that there was an anthrax attack - or another type of biological attack for which Cipro is the preferred drug - on the White House, or a threat of such an attack, which for some reason has been kept hidden? Is it possible that it has been kept hidden because it was included with threats of the September 11 attacks, threats which of course now have to remain secret?

Just before September 11, 2001, there was very unusual stock and option trading in the stock of three airline companies: American Airlines, United Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The investors were all acting on the assumption that the shares in these airlines would fall, and the amount of such speculation was unprecedented. American and United are accounted for in the planes that were hijacked. Which KLM flight was supposed to be hijacked and why wasn't it?

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

The British are having a scare with ricin having been found in the possession of terrorist suspects. Ricin is highly toxic, but doesn't seem like a very good terrorist weapon as it is not easily used for mass murder. It is most famous as an assassination weapon, and it is supposed to have been used by Bulgarian intelligence agents who killed Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov using a poison dart filled with ricin and fired from an umbrella. What struck me about this is that ricin kills by causing organ failure, and eventual collapse of the circulatory system. Sulayman Zainulabidin, the British cook who had been acquitted of terrorism charges and was in the hospital for a routine knee operation, grew drowsy, slipped into a coma, and died a few days after his operation. His cause of death was listed as 'cardiac arrest, organ failure, a septic knee and arthritis.' Both cardiac arrest and organ failure, as well as the timing of the death (ricin kills within two to five days of ingestion), could point to an assassination using ricin. Ricin would have caused a lot of other symptoms as well, symptoms which are not mentioned, so it may be that something else killed Mr. Zainulabidin. There was no autopsy, so we'll never know for sure, but I can't help but wonder about that ricin.

Monday, January 20, 2003

If you add them all up there were hundreds and hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters in the United States on Sunday, and hundreds of thousands elsewhere in the world. I doubt that it will make any difference to the unprovoked American violent attack on Iraq, but the protests have to start somewhere, and will eventually make a difference in the war after that, or the war after that, or whatever war the Bush junta has to stop on due to the ruination of the United States. I have a few comments:

  1. If even some of the American protesters had voted, or had not wasted their votes, the protests wouldn't have been necessary. Think what you will about what Al Gore would have done about the fake 'war on terror' (I suspect it wouldn't have gotten that far as Gore wouldn't have ordered NORAD to stand down, so September 11 would not have occurred), there is no conceivable way he would have ordered an unprovoked attack on Iraq.

  2. The right-wing war lovers can be expected to criticize the protests by focusing on the fact that a few of the protesters are associated with the radical left. Those who love death will be looking for anything to prevent any attack on their precious war, which they have a deep psychological need for (psychopathy by proxy). But what are so-called 'progressives' doing complaining about the anti-war protests because they don't want to be associated with some of the radical protesters? Some of the 'champagne socialists' seem to fear that the most committed of the protesters may not be just the sort of people they would deign to hang out with. Some of the complaints seem to be just childish behaviour at the level of not wanting to have anything to do with anyone who doesn't share your political views completely. The sad fact of the matter is that the most radical people are the ones committed to doing the work necessary to organize protests, and ought to be commended for their dedication. Why are 'progressives' so precious about their political philosophy? People who attend anti-war protests are protesting against a war; must they also share every other political view that the so-called 'progressives' have? This sort of silly quibbling plays right into the hands of the warmongers. Unfortunately, only some progressive writers, including Alexander Cockburn, seem to have this figured out.

  3. The Italian authorities have had to admit that some of the appearent protester violence in the Genoa protests were the acts of police agents provocateurs (actually, the reaction of the Italian police to the Genoa protests showed us how closely connected the Italian police are to real old-fashioned Mussolini fascism). The FBI COINTELPRO program included such fake violence for the purposes of tarnishing the critics of the state, and the AshKKKroftian version of COINTELPRO is back and more evil than ever. How naive must you be to think that these thugs wouldn't take advantage of the situation to plant their own agents? Whenever you see violence associated with protests, or even signs that portray an agenda that might offend middle America, there is a very large chance that it is the work of the junta.

  4. There seems to be the view that the more obviously radical of the protesters will offend middle America, thus actually hurting the anti-war cause. Some feel that the 'normal' protesters will not show up if they fear that the protests will be led by radicals (a view, I think, consistenly disproved by the facts including the facts on the ground on Sunday; as an aside, why is Corn, who seems to hold himself out as a progressive, always subtly on the side of the reactionaries?). Of course, since the offending protesters can't be eliminated, the proper answer is not to boycott the protests, thus leaving the freaks even more obvious, but attend the protests, thus burying the freaks behind the 'normal' people who are against the war. The controlled media will always focus on the extreme protesters, as that is their political agenda, but they can be embarrassed in so doing if there are obviously many, many other people there.

  5. Speaking of embarrassment, the controlled media have in the recent past intentionally ignored large protests and vastly under-reported the number of protesters, and have been shamed over it. This has meant that they have had to apply a slight veneer of honesty to their coverage of the Sunday protests. It's too bad that you always have to hold their feet to the fire to force them to bare minimum standards of competence and honesty. As always, the media should be ashamed of themselves.

The bottom line is that many of the 'progressive' writers who complain about the exact make-up and nature of the protesters seem to be acting, intentionally or not, to disrupt and undermine the protests (COINTELPRO included the use of certain controlled members of the media). Fortunately, the protests are continuing despite the naysayers.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

In the excellent weblog Eschaton there was a reference to the preferential treatment that George Bush received when he was given a place in the Texas National Guard and received absolutely no punishment for not showing up to meet his obligations (i. e., he went AWOL). I assume he went through the motions of serving his country to further the political aspirations of his father, and possibly, to leave politics open as an option for himself. What caught my eye from Eschaton is the sentence: "Wonder which kid went and died in his place." I know people have actually tried to answer this by comparing the birthdates of those killed in Vietman with George Bush, but that doesn't seem to be close enough. It should be possible to prove exactly who died so that George Bush could continue to snort and booze. We start with the following assumptions:

  1. The Vietnam War ended because the American public reached the absolute limit of the number of dead Americans it could tolerate (unfortunately, the number of dead Vietnamese didn't enter into the calculations);

  2. George Bush's effective desertion from the National Guard would have likely resulted in his being sent to fight in Vietnam ("Under Air National Guard rules at the time, guardsmen who missed duty could be reported to their Selective Service Board and inducted into the Army as draftees."); and

  3. George Bush is such a stupid moron that if he had gone to Vietnam he certainly would have ended up killing himself.

Therefore, George Bush's death would have been included in those dead due to the Vietnam war, and the war could have ended one other dead American sooner. But who is this dead American? You could make the argument that it is the last American killed in the war, but that also doesn't seem close enough. The person who most likely fills the bill is the person who failed to obtain a position in the Texas National Guard due to the preferential treatment (affirmative action) given to Bush, and who then was drafted into the Vietnam War, possibly to die in it. Another possible candidate is someone who was punished for going AWOL from the National Guard by being drafted and sent to Vietnam, only to die there. I'm sure there are other possibilities for candidates of people whose deaths in Vietnam bear a close and causal connection to the preferential treatment given to Bush, both in letting him in to the National Guard, and not punishing him for going AWOL. It should be possible to find the name of one person in particular, a person who would still be alive but for the preferential treatment given to Bush. In these days of Bush's warmongering, Bush's picture should always be shown with the picture of the man who died for his sins (and I don't mean Jesus).
Here is a handy summary of translations of the Subcomandante Marcos/Baltasar Garzón letters, and responses to these letters regarding the criticism by Marcos of Garzón's suspension of the separatist political organization Batasuna in the Basque provinces in Spain. This issue of what the response of a state should be to the political or charitable wing of an organization that is best known as a terrorist organization has recently come up in a number of contexts:

  1. The Spanish banning of Batasuna because of its relationship to the ETA and its failure to comdemn ETA terrorist violence;

  2. The British government's continued negotiations with Sinn Fein while the IRA still resists disarming;

  3. Negotiations in Sri Lanka with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) over the creation of some sort of federal government (although in this case, in contrast, the negotiations are directly with the terrorist organization itself);

  4. The recent machinations which led to Canada putting both the military and social arms of Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organizations, a move resisted for a long time by the Canadian government - in the face of ferocious Zionist propaganda - due to the importance of the social programs run by the charitable arm of Hezbollah in Lebanon (although, to be fair, some feel that Hezbollah is just a tool of Syrian control over Lebanon);

  5. The constant refusals by Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians using the excuse that there is no distinction between the suicide bombers and the Palestinian Authority (has anyone ever done a graph plotting the political problems of the Sharon regime and the situations where it needed an excuse to avoid peace negotiations with the Palestinians, and the 'coincidental' suicide bombings which let it off the hook, suicide bombings which, as is becoming increasingly apparent, occur mostly where poorer or non-Israeli people are apt to be?); and

  6. The refusals of the Russians to negotiate with the Chechens on the basis that the Chechens are all terrorists or mafiya.

In most cases it is not going to be politically possible for the existing government to negotiate with the terrorist organization itself (Sri Lanka notwithstanding), and therefore it is important for there to be a political wing in order for negotiations to be successful. In many cases, this political wing will be a sham to put a more presentable face on the terrorist organization, and the success of the negotiations may depend on the public's ability to accept the distinction between the political organization and the terrorists (after the negotiations, of course, the terrorists become 'freedom fighters'). Managing the moment when a terrorist organization transforms itself into a political organization (LTTE seems to have transformed itself when its normal sources of funding in Britain, Australia and Canada dried up in the wake of the reaction to terrorist funding generally after September 11), or distinguishing between the terrorist arm and the social welfare arm (an arm which can more easily be transformed into a legitimate political arm), or simply sublimating the urge to violence in the more acceptable conflict of democratic politics (which is probably the main current value of Batasuna), may be the key to successfully ending terrorist conflict in a country. Britain is right to pretend that Sinn Fein is different from the IRA, the Sri Lankan government is right to negotiate with the terrorists, Garzón was probably wrong to ban Batasuna, the Canadian government was probably wrong to marginalize the charitable arm of Hezbollah by lumping it in with the terrorists, and neither the Russians nor the Israelis are going to see peace until they figure some way to find an acceptable 'political' negotiating partner.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Here are two anti-Chavez blogs (more anti-Chavez stuff here, and especially, here). If I feel my blood pressure is too low, I can raise it instantly by reading any of them (I have to say I feel some sympathy for the authors of the anti-Chavez blogs, as they seem quite sincere in their class beliefs, and it is emotionally difficult to be on the wrong side of history). Two funny things about the current situation in Venezuela:

  1. Al Giordano of The Narco News Bulletin has caught the New York Times completely red-handed in printing articles on the Venezuelan situation by the author of Caracas Chronicles, Francisco Toro, when they knew or ought to have known of his bias against Chavez. In fact, the situation was so bad from the point of view of journalistic ethics that Toro, to his credit, resigned as a writer for the New York Times. From his resignation letter it is clear that the NYT raised 'conflict of interests concerns', which they felt could be dealt with if Toro stopped publishing his blog, or at least hid it behind a password. In other words, they felt the problem was that his blog made his conflict public, a problem for the NYT, but one they could deal with if no one could see the extent of the conflict by reading the blog! They were quite happy to publish a writer with a clear anti-Chavez bias as long as no one knew about it! If it wasn't for the journalistic integrity of Mr. Toro, we might still be reading his 'reporting' from Venezuela in the NYT as if it was objective news or opinion, and not the words of an admitted partisan. Since this incident happened with respect to an honest writer who revealed the shadiness of the NYT, how can anyone read any article in the paper without wondering whether it is written by a writer with an undisclosed bias who isn't so honest to take the initiative and resign as Mr. Toro did?

  2. Chavez remains in power as he still has the support of the majority of the military, including senior officers. In most modern societies, the rich usually see to it that their sons who aren't bright enough to run the family business join the military or intelligence services. This ensures that the military and intelligence agencies will continue to support the class interests of the rich families, and also provides the connections that lead to the corruption that is such an important part of military procurement (it also explains why generals are so consistently stupid). The Venezuelan class system has become so completely corrupted that apparently the fathers can't convince their playboy sons to enlist, presumably because being in the military interferes with their ability to party (why does this remind me of George Bush?). The upshot is that it is the sons of the darker-skinned poor who make up the majority of the military from top to bottom, and the rich have lost this traditional source of support. They are forced to rely on a combination of American gunboat diplomacy, the lying U. S. and Venezuelan press, and the so-called 'strike', which is really a lock-out and is bound to eventually fail as it is costing the rich money. It appears that the only thing that will oust Chavez is direct covert U. S. intervention (and I wouldn't rule it out).

As an antidote to the anti-Chavez blogs, here is another good article.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Regardless of the anti-war movement, the whole of world opinion, or what the increasingly embarrassing Tony Blair may say, it seems inevitable that the United States will attack Iraq, and soon. You can't move 150,000 troops somewhere and not use them. You can't expect them to sit around the Arabian peninsula over the summer waiting for the UN arms inspectors to be done, particularly as: 1) the Americans much prefer an inconclusive result of the inspections to waiting for them to be completely done and taking the chance that Blix reports that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and 2) the Americans are going to attack anyway, so waiting for the results of the inspectors is a waste of time. The movement of the troops while pretending that the war is not inevitable is cynical even by the standards of the Bush Administration. Sending huge numbers of troops off to fight and then not fighting is not something an empire can afford to do. The type of people who surround Bush would think that such a failure to fight would look weak, and the last thing an empire can afford is to look weak. The Americans will probably have to do this attack almost entirely on their own. If Blair involves the British it appears he will in so doing completely destroy himself politically (the Americans must have something on Blair, or at least have promised him a chunk of Carlyle for when he is forced out of politics, for him to be acting so bizarrely). The Europeans won't have anything to do with it, unless the French are bribed with the promise of some of the Iraqi oil fields. Canada has now said it might support an Iraq war without UN sanction (or at least the alcoholic Canadian Defence Minister has so indicated), but Canada can be of little military help and has managed to fail to have any troops available, knowing that it will be practically impossible to get troops to the area in time for an early war. The Turks may only help if they are promised possession of the most northern vilayet of Mosul, which they seem to think they have claims to dating back to the Ottoman Empire (besides the free oil, making northern Iraq part of Turkey partly removes the threat that a Kurdish state in northern Iraq would tempt the Kurds to put in a territorial claim on adjacent eastern Turkey), and the Kurds, some of whom have reached an accomodation with Saddam, will soon see that the Americans will be prepared to sell them down the river again to get Turkish cooperation. The Israelis would like to help, but will have their hands full with the bloody 'transfer' of the Palestinians out of the Occupied Territories. Except for Qatar, no Arab state could afford to assist the Americans without having serious internal violent protests (it is funny how we have recently heard so often in the American media that various countries will support the war, only to find that the countries vehemently deny it, or actually agreed to participate only if the UN supported a war, meaning that all these reports were simply retyped U. S. State Department propaganda). So, in the next month or two, and assuming the Americans can buy off the North Korean problem and whack Chavez in Venezuela, we're almost certainly going to have an attack (you can hardly call it a war, considering that one side is going to attack the other without a smidgeon of provocation, and the attackers are orders of magnitude more powerful than the victims), probably by the Americans alone with possible British assistance, and it will be one of the great outrages of history.

Monday, January 13, 2003

This is an amazingly balanced article on the situation in Venezuela, particularly as it is published in the Washington Post! While the author points out how ridiculous it is for the same people who in April attempted a coup to install a dictator and purported to dissolve the legislature and the supreme court to be complaining that the democratically-elected Chavez must be replaced because he is a dictator, he is careful not to point out that the Washington Post allowed itself to be used by the Bush Administration by publishing lies about the status of the April coup in a vain attempt to help it succeed (see these three articles referring to the resignation of Chavez, when Chavez never in fact resigned, pure propaganda intended by the U. S. State Department to be reported in the Venezuelan press as facts from a prestigious American unbiased source, thus convincing Chavez supporters to give up - I've already posted on the stench of this). Is publishing this article a way of assuaging their journalistic consciences (intentionally misleading reporting in the American press sadly continues, but is being nicely rebutted)? The Venezuela issue is important because Chavez is at the vanguard of a growing movement to reverse the horrible history of class and race injustices in South America (we see more evidence of this movement in recent elections in Ecuador and Brazil). If a tiny group of right-wing thugs supported by the American government manages to use brute force to return Venezuela to white plutocrat dictatorship, it will demonstrate to countries all over South and Central America that similar attempts by the most evil people in these countries will receive American assistance and, if bloody enough, may succeed (as an aside, is it possible that Otto 'Third' Reich was demoted not because he was too right-wing, but because he was felt by the Bush junta to have mismanaged the April coup by not being bloodthirsty enough?). Chavez is actually representing all the oppressed people in South and Central America.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Sulayman Balal Zainulabidin is dead. He is one of the converts to Islam I mentioned the other day, and his is an interesting story:

  1. He was from Greenwich, south east London, was black, a chef (or kitchen assistant or kitchen porter) at the Royal College of Obstetricians, and was born 'Frank Etim' in Chelsea, central London. He converted to Islam in 1979.

  2. His notoriety came from the fact that he advertised a training camp which was called the 'Ultimate Jihad Challenge'. This camp was to be held in the United States (to avoid restrictive British gun laws), and was supposed to train its students in various forms of combat to enable them to go on jihad. Needless to say, after September 11 this caught the attention of the British authorities. He was charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for: 1) providing instruction or training in the making or use of firearms, explosives, or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons; and 2) inviting others as yet unknown to receive instruction or training in the making or use of firearms, explosives, or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. He was acquitted after a five-day trial. He claimed that his business was a bona fide commercial venture for training people such as security guards, the only person to have taken a course in the last two years was a security guard from Sainsbury's, and that it was not a terrorist operation. He also claimed that 'jihad' meant 'struggle', and not 'holy war'.

  3. His camp was supposed to be held at a British-owned rifle range in Marion, Alabama, called 'Ground Zero USA'. The people who run that rifle range deny any connection with the 'Ultimate Jihad Challenge' (although Mark Yates, a former British Army officer who founded the range, and a man who seems to bill himself as a combination of Rambo and James Bond, admits that Zainulabidin attended three of his training classes in Wales in 1996, and that he had later, unspecified, contacts with Zainulabidin). The owners of Ground Zero USA claim that Zainulabidin had plagiarized their promotional materials and used them on his Web site. Oddly, the FBI had to expressly deny reports that it was investigating Ground Zero USA in connection with their investigation of the alleged Washington snipers, John Muhammad and John Malvo.

  4. There are some reports linking Zainulabidin's company, Sakina Security Services, to James Ujaama, another of the 'converts' on my list. James Ujaama was originally held as a material witness with respect to a terrorist training camp supposedly established in Bly, Oregon (which appears to have been an almost comical operation). He was later indicted for conspiracy to support the al-Qaeda network and using, carrying, possessing and discharging firearms during a crime. The FBI alleges he delivered laptop computers to the Taliban at the behest of radical London imam Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri. Authorities claim that James Ujaama designed the Sakina Security Services website. It is an interesting coincidence that James Ujaama was allegedly associated with Semi Osman, a man who worked as an automobile mechanic in Tacoma, Washington and was a leader of a mosque in Seattle (the mosque founded by James Ujaama's brother, Mustafa Ujaama, another convert to Islam), while John Muhammad was a Muslim convert who had also been an automobile mechanic in Tacoma, Washington. (So the rather tenuous connection between John Muhammad and Ground Zero USA might be that John Muhammad might have known fellow Muslim and fellow Tacoma auto mechanic Semi Osman, who was allegedly associated with James Ujaama, who designed the website for Sakina Security Services, which was purporting to send people to Ground Zero USA training camp in Marion, Alabama, the residence of the person from whom the credit card was stolen that was supposed to be used for the $10 million ransom, and a place which isn't that far from Montgomery, Alabama, where Muhammad and Malvo allegedly committed a murder.)

  5. Sakina Security Services goes back at least to 1999, when it, along with founder Muhammad Jameel, is mentioned in an article on Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri and radical Islam. There was no mention of Zainulabidin but Sakina Security Services is described as "training Muslims in self-defense and outdoor survival strategies and offering community-based personal security services." In June 2000, an article again mentions Muhammad Jameel and the fact he is linked with Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri. It even mentions the "two-week course in the US called the Ultimate Jihad Challenge," but does not mention Zainulabidin. Sakina Security Services is also described as "an international organisation funded by wealthy individuals" which ran at least one four month course at a military training camp in Kashmir. Eventually, Zainulabidin is described as having 'founded' Sakina Security Services (so who was the founder?).

  6. In an article dated June 28, 2000 in The Hindu, the spokesman for Sakina Security Services calls himself Suleiman Bilal, which are the first two names of Zainulabidin. However, the article goes on to state:

    "Mr. Bilal, who according to other British newspapers also goes by the name of Mohammad Jameel, said he had 'never been to Kashmir in his life' and described press reports that he was recruiting for jihad as 'made up.' He however acknowledged that a group of young British Muslims, arrested in Yemen last year on charge of trying to overthrow the Government, had been trained by him. He however said he was not responsible for the actions of all those he trained."

    It is intriguing that the article also states that Suleiman Bilal "admitted he had been interviewed by the British security services, but said he had been allowed to continue with his training business. 'They wouldn't have done that if there was anything wrong,' he added." This means that in 2000, British 'security services' were aware of what Sakina Security Services was doing, but apparently didn't object. Mohammad Jameel was described as "a British-born Muslim linked with the leading fundamentalists Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed and Sheikh Abu Hamza al- Masri." Omar Bakri is quoted as saying: "I know Brother Jameel very well. He is extremely trustworthy and honest. As head of Al-Muhjiroun [meaning The Eyes, The Ears], I have overall responsibility for a number of organisations fighting for the Islamic cause. Sakina is one of those." From the same article, here is another exerpt:

    "Last year The Telegraph revealed how all three men were involved in special training courses for recruits in the South of England, Nottinghamshire and Scotland. Even then there was a suggestion that some recruits were being taught how to use guns. Last year they shared a platform at a public meeting in London. After more than 500 volunteers watched a video about training camps in Afghanistan, Jameel made a passionate appeal for volunteers and donations."

    Jameel is described as being 6ft 4in tall and claims to be trained in martial arts. In this article on the arrest of Zainulabidin, Zainulabidin is assumed to be a different person than Jameel. The question is answered in that the British authorities separately detained Jameel (note that this article says "British investigators say the training took place at rented shooting ranges in Michigan, Missouri and Virginia" but does not mention Alabama!). Zainulabidin was 44 and Jameel, at the time of his arrest in 2001, was 25. I wonder if the confusion in identities was intentional.

  7. Zainulabidin came to the attention of the authorities when he attended at a police station looking for protection as he felt he was in some danger after a newspaper reported the concerns of Andrew Dismore, a Labour MP, who exposed Zainulabidin's company Sakina Security Services because its website advertised 'The Ultimate Jihad Challenge'. Here is a quote from Andrew Dismore in the British Parliament on October 16, 2001:

    "In an interview with the Arabic newspaper al-Sharq al-Aswat, Bakri Mohammed boasted that al-Muhajiroun sent Muslim youths on jihad training courses in Virginia, Michigan and the Missouri desert where they learned various techniques for guerrilla warfare, for making explosives and using shoulder-mounted missiles. He stated that between 300 and 400 people were sent on such courses each year, travelling as Europeans on British, French and German passports so that they did not need entry visas for the United States although most were of Asian or Arab origin. The training was organised by a British security firm that is managed by a Muhajiroun member. I believe that to be Sakina Security Services and the Muhajiroun member to be Mohammed Jameel."

  8. Zainulabidin was admitted to hospital near Uxbridge for a routine operation on his knee. Within days of the minor surgery his health dramatically deteriorated and he slipped into a coma. He never came out of his coma and his hospital drug records went missing. The official explanation is that he died after being stricken by a powerful 'superbug', or drug-resistant bacteria. (As an aside, I can't help but note that noted conspiracy writer Jim Keith also died in the course of a 'routine' knee operation.)

  9. His family alleged that he must have been murdered. They claim that they did not want an autopsy done for religious reasons, and he was buried without any post mortem examination to determine the cause of death. Can you imagine what would have happened had they gone to the police and claimed that he was murdered by his wife? Do you think in that case the police would have agreed to have no examination of the body to determine the cause of death? The police failure to insist on an autopsy is extremely suspicious to me, and looks like an official cover-up.

  10. Some feel that Zainulabidin's murder is the first example of the 'new' (ha, ha!) CIA program of Israeli-style targeted assassinations. Given the fact that the hospital records were missing, and the enthusiasm of the local police to avoid an autopsy, this looks more like a local job than a CIA operation. The trial and its aftermath have been highly politicized, and Zainulabidin threatened to sue the authorities for his persecution. Is it possible that someone decided that for justice to be served Zainulabidin had to be murdered? Even after the trial, he may have been followed by British intelligence agents, who may have felt he continued to be up to no good.

It seems to me that there are two possible explanations for all this:

  1. Zainulabidin was a kitchen assistant who attempted to make some extra money as a sort of jihad travel agent, getting a commission from Ground Zero USA for directing men there who were looking for a shooting holiday (rather than eco-tourism, this could be called terro-tourism). I find Yates' assertions that he had nothing to do with Zainulabidin's business rather implausible, as why would Zainulabidin use Ground Zero material unless he had some understanding with Ground Zero?. The fact that he continued to work in the kitchen with what must have been a painful arthritic knee (which became infected while he was in prison - he limped out of the courtroom after he was acquitted) probably means he was very unsuccessful at this business, and needed his regular job. The whole operation may have just consisted of the website (Sakina used the addresses of at least two other businesses without their knowledge). If the only customer was a security guard at a Sainsbury's store, I'd pay to see him use his jihad training when some guy tries to take nine items through the 'eight items or less' line.

  2. Zainulabidin was running some sort of 'honeypot' for some police or intelligence organization, with the intention of obtaining the names of those interested in the training camp so they could be watched and investigated by British authorities. I only raise this possibility as there are simply too many problems with the Official Story as it stands. How is it that this operation and website have been operating for a number of years with only one customer in its last two years, as Zainulabidin apparently successfully convinced the jury? How is it that earlier articles on Sakina make it seem that it was sending many people to training camps in Afghanistan and Kashmir, not to mention the South of England, Nottinghamshire and Scotland, and not to mention Michigan, Missouri and Virginia? How is it that the case was so hyped up by the British authorities as they fought the war against terrorism, but Zainulabidin appeared to get off so easily, almost as if the prosecution didn't try to mount a proper case? What are the various roles of Zainulabidin and Mohammad Jameel (remember that Jameel has been associated with prominent Islamic fundamentalist religious leaders Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed and Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, and at least Hamza al-Masri has been linked to bin Laden)? Why, in 2000, did the British 'security services' not object to what Sakina was doing, including training people who were later arrested on charges of trying to overthrow the government of Yemen? Why was Zainulabidin arrested after he went to the police to complain that his safety might be in question due to a newspaper article written about him? Might this whole trial have been a sham to polish up the fundamentalist reputation of Zainulabidin? If so, could he have been murdered by Islamic fundamentalists who found out they'd been had? Did he really have a job at the the Royal College of Obstetricians with his gimpy knee, or was that part of his cover? What was he doing associating with colorful character, intelligence expert, and former Army officer Yates, and what were the nature of the undescribed 'contacts' that Yates had with him? Isn't the concept of an 'Ultimate Jihad Challenge' somewhat blasphemous from the point of view of strict fundamentalists? Was his threat to sue over the trial part of the creation of his image? After he was acquitted, why was he being followed? If he was who he said he was, a harmless kitchen worker, who would want to kill him? What happened to his hospital records? Why no autopsy?

Saturday, January 11, 2003

I posted on North Korea the other day, suggesting that the uniform position presented in the American press may not be fair to North Korea, and that it may be that North Korea's actions were caused by the American failure to live up to its promises, thereby threatening the North Korean energy supply and provoking the current situation. Here is an excellent account of the whole mess.

Friday, January 10, 2003

The Canadian government is not going to follow the example of George Bush's tax cutting program, fearing that the loss of tax revenue will return Canada to the years of deficits which took so much effort to get away from. Here is an amusing quote from Member of Parliament John McKay, chairman of the Ontario caucus of the governing Liberal Party:

"I just think they're looney tunes and out of control down south, so don't bother. We can gain no lessons from the directions the American government is taking."

The main thrust of the next Canadian budget will be supporting the health care system.
Here are two predictions about the Iraq war:

  1. a significant number of the American soldiers who participate in the war to steal Iraq's oil will suffer mysterious illnesses once they return to the United States, possibly from exposure to depleted uranium dust, illnesses which will often be completely debilitating and may lead to death, and which will often also affect their spouses and children; and

  2. the U. S. government will say that these illnesses are psychosomatic and will leave these soldiers to suffer and die without any assistance.

If I'd written these predictions before the Gulf War you would have said I was crazy. America military personnel should listen to the advice of veterans of the Gulf War (also see here and here) and not participate in the war. They are not serving their country in fighting in this war; they are serving the interests of a very small elite of oil men. It's too bad that American soldiers are doomed to suffer as they can't follow the brave example of their Commander-in-Chief who simply didn't show up when it was time for him to serve his country.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

What do these people have in common:

  1. John Walker Lindh

  2. James Ujaama

  3. John Muhammad

  4. Richard Reid

  5. Abdullah al-Muhajir

  6. Mustafa Ujaama

  7. Sulayman Balal Zainulabidin

  8. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh

  9. Jack Roche

  10. David Hicks

  11. Jerome Courtailler

  12. Ahmed Huber

  13. Wadih el Hage?

They are all converts to Islam who have been in the news. Some of them are no doubt sincere in their conversions. Some are very suspicious.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Subcomandante Marcos, the leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Mexico, has to be the most gifted political writer in the world. He wrote a letter dated October 12, 2002 (the anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the Americas) addressed to Angel Luis Lara, 'the Russian', a Spanish musician and screenwriter. It was published on November 25 in the Mexican daily La Jornada. I has caused a stir. Marcos called Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, the man responsible for the attempted prosecution of Pinochet and for the recent banning of pro-Basque independence party Batasuna over alleged links to the Basque terrorist organization, the ETA, a "grotesque clown". Marcos stated that the efforts to detain former Chilean dictator Pinochet in Britain had been a "tall tale" that resulted only in giving the general "expenses-paid vacations" in London. According to Marcos, Garzón showed his "true fascist vocation by denying the Basque people the right to struggle politically for a legitimate cause." Marcos referred to Spanish King Juan Carlos I as "the constipated little king" and Spanish President José María Aznar López as "the imbecile." Garzón wrote an angry reply, including:

"In this long battle I may have made mistakes, but in contrast to you I have shown my face and signed my name, and I have admitted my mistakes. On the other hand, you cowardly take cover from a vantage point that makes you into a strange (and) exotic being, an apparition behind a mask and a ridiculous pipe. I usually do not give advise, but here is some: get rid of your mask and quit hiding, show that you are a leader, face up to things, meet with Mexican society, defend your ideas on equality of conditions, say goodbye to weapons, (and) permit your people to be free (and) not isolated from democracy."

Garzón also challenged Marcos to a debate, an invitation which Marcos avidly accepted, setting out a number of conditions in a letter (or here). If he loses, Marcos will take off his mask! Marcos also wrote a series of four letters (or here) in which he apologizes for appearing to support terrorism, and asks the Basque terrorists for a cease-fire. Most recently, he has written yet another letter, dated December 29, 2002, in which he returns to his real business, the politics of the Chiapas villages in Mexico. It appears that all this excitement was just a way of bringing the plight of the Indians back into the limelight (general background here, general news sites here and here and Zapatista links here). Things have not been going well for them, and it appears that they are trying to make themselves heard again. The feeling was that the government of Vicente Fox would make an honest attempt to answer their concerns, but they have been greatly disappointed. The most important issue besides land reform, and the issue most associated with the movement, is the opposition to the lifting of most agricultural tariffs under NAFTA. Vicente Fox has done nothing to deal with either the land problem (indeed, the Mexican government and military are conducting forced relocations of indigenous people out of the area called 'Montes Azules'), the presence of Mexican troops, or the tariffs, which were removed on January 1, 2003. Promised grants of indigenous rights and autonomy were incorporated into a proposed law called the 'COCOPA law', but were gutted by the Mexican Congress before the law was passed, and the Supreme Court refused to reverse the decision of the Congress on constitutional grounds. It appears that the Zapatistas have been tricked into waiting quietly for promised reforms, and have essentially ended up with nothing (and perhaps Marcos isn't the political genius he is usually said to be). It will be interesting to see if the protests become more common, and if the 'debate' with Garzón ever takes place.

Monday, January 06, 2003

The investigation of the Bali blast has been conducted in such a way that it appears the truth of what happened, and who was behind it, will never be known. Blaming it on al-Qaeda, which suits the Americans down to the ground, hides much more than it reveals (and blaming terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah is not much better). It is fairly obvious to anyone looking from the outside that the main beneficiary of obfuscation is the Indonesian government, and, more particularly, the Indonesian army. The levels of corruption in both government and army are so extreme (and, as usual, the Americans have much to answer for in their constant cultivation and support of those who will be most likely to provide sweetheart deals to American capitalists), and Muslim religious nationalism has been abused so blatantly to provide cover for the corruption, that untying the government, the army, and Muslim fundamentalists is impossible. The Indonesians have managed to entertain the Australians with some theatrical villains, and appear to have performed a very successful cover-up (I wonder if they've received some expert advice from the CIA on how to hide the truth). Some low-level thugs will be convicted, and everyone will go back to pretending that the corruption which benefits the foreign capitalists (many of them Australian), and which incites the terrorists, doesn't exist.
Is it possible that North Korea's recent actions concerning its nuclear program are not the belligerent actions of a mad ruler that has been depicted in the American press, but North Korea's attempts to generate power using its only option, its nuclear program, given that: 1) the United States, Japan and South Korea have failed to live up in a timely way to their 1994 commitment to build nuclear reactors for North Korea, reactors which could not be used for military purposes that they agreed to build in return for North Korea's agreement to stop its nuclear program (and this failure is at least partly due to the fact that the United States wouldn't come up with enough money to pay for the reactors), and 2) the supply of fuel oil that was supposed to come from the United States until the new reactors were built couldn't be counted on under the bellicose and untrustworthy Bush regime? Of course, the American neo-con ideologues are now saying how stupid it was for the Clinton administration to enter into a diplomatic (they hate diplomacy) solution with North Korea, a rather ironic position to take considering that their Republican friends in Congress ruined the deal by failing to fund it properly. It is quite possible that this whole scenario was desired by the Bush junta in order to produce a conflict with the North Koreans that would provide a justification for the U. S. missile shield (a shield which they know won't work but which will provide the greatest transfer of wealth from taxpayers to military contractors in the history of the world, and will also provide a backdoor excuse for the real military goal of the program, the weaponization of space), but they were blindsided by clever North Korean use of the timing of the Iraq war.
Trent Lott, who had to give up his dream of being Senate Majority Leader, essentially because he got his notes for speaking in private mixed up with his notes for speaking in public, apparently is going to be selected by his Republican pals to be the chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. So how do you manage to be too racist to be Senate Majority Leader but just racist enough to be chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee? Is there a university department somewhere in the Deep South where these degrees of racism are measured and correlated against various political offices? Appointing Lott to any post above dogcatcher is another type of coded message by the Republicans to their racist supporters that the true nature of the Republican party hasn't changed and racists can still know who their true friends are. Here is an interesting exerpt from the Washington Post:

"While the Senate rules panel is far less powerful than its House counterpart, which clears legislation for floor action, it has several important areas of responsibility in addition to Senate housekeeping chores. These include laws affecting federal elections, corrupt practices and presidential succession.

For instance, the panel, which was chaired by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) while Democrats controlled the Senate, had jurisdiction over legislation to modernize federal election procedures that was adopted last year in response to the 2000 ballot problems in Florida."

You may remember that these 'ballot problems' included the intentional and systematic illegal disenfranchisement of Florida black voters, arranged by Kathleen Harris and Jeb Bush, which was instrumental in the 'election' of George Bush (and which wasn't fixed - you know how slow things are in Florida - in time to prevent Jeb from benefitting from it in his last election). An admitted segregationist is now in charge of the laws affecting federal elections, a fact which might give black voters, not to mention racist white voters, something to think about. You really have to give the Republicans credit for having a powerful sense of irony.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Zacarias Moussaoui has been trying repeatedly to have the judge remove or replace his court-appointed attorney, Frank Dunham, Jr., possibly because Dunham's line of defense seems to be to claim that Moussaoui is mentally ill. Moussaoui has succeeded in having the team of lawyers reduced to 'standby counsel', but Moussaoui was unsuccessful in obtaining a 'gag' order against Frank Dunham. My reading of the texts of those motions of Moussaoui that have been released (many are still sealed, allegedly because of the impolite language against the court which they contain) is that Moussaoui is quite sane, and very much on top of his defense. I want to focus on one of these motions, the one dated August 11, 2002 entitled "Motion to keep mad, out of control stanby Hoard [or 'Herd'?] of Blood Sucker, out of HALAL, PURE PRO SE LAND" (ok, maybe he's not entirely sane, although I catch quite a bit of humor in Moussaoui's fulminations - his last line in this motion is "Believe me, I am extremely patient and stubborn (ask my Mum)"). I've had some trouble reading the handwriting, but here is my attempt at a transcript of part of the motion (Moussaoui is referring to his team of court-appointed lawyers):

". . . taking control of my defense and presenting their US government next Desert storm "9-11/the Iraqi connection." Script Director Tenet CIA. Basically what they try to make me agree in January is that we should deny that Bin Laden did the 9/11 and claim an Iraqi Saddam/ATTA link. They claim that this will confuse the juror so to create doubt. . . . By presenting their 9/11 Saddam Hussein story the Dunham & Co are laying the foundation for the New Iraq Strike by the US on the civilian population (MUSLIM of Course). . . . Them they want to talk about Bin Laden, Iraq, et. Me I want to talk about that I was not in this operation."

Of course, these are Moussaoui's unsubstantiated allegations, but they are quite astonishing if true, and may explain why Moussaoui was so keen to have his lawyers removed and why he appears to be so angry at the judge. His counsel were selected and paid for by the government, and, at a time when the same government was desperate to find one iota of evidence connecting 9-11 to Saddam Hussein, it is possible that his lawyers were advising Moussaoui to save himself by lying in implicating Iraq, thus providing just the evidence the Bush junta was looking for. Eric Margolis, in an August 25, 2002 column, wrote:

"A torrent of propaganda, lies and half-truths about Iraq has been pouring from the White House in a campaign reminiscent of old Soviet agitprop. The government-appointed "defense" team representing accused 9/11 plot member Zacharias Moussaui reportedly urged him to falsely claim Iraq was behind the attacks. Moussaui refused."

If there is any truth to Moussaoui's claims it appears that U. S. geopolitics may have directly influenced the legal advice he is getting. The judge should look into this if there is even the slightest chance that the Bush junta's search for evidence against Iraq is hurting Moussaoui's chance for a fair trial.

Friday, January 03, 2003

The coup-plotters in Venezuela are getting desperate.
Marc Herold is the associate professor at the University of New Hampshire who actually had the temerity to try to add up the deaths caused by the American attack on Afghanistan. He received a lot of abuse for this from the lovers of the American Hegemon, but given the fact that the agreement to run the gas pipeline through Afghanistan has now been signed (this is the pipeline that supporters of the war said had nothing to do with the U. S. attack, which was supposed to be all about the war on terrorism), and given the state of utter disaster that Afghanistan had been left in, the deaths appear all the more indefensible. Harold has given a short interview to Bill Berkowitz and responds to Berkowitz's question "How do you see the current situation in Afghanistan?":

"Militarily the situation is similar to what the Russians faced in 1981. Special Forces bases are being hit regularly by rockets; Kabul is being hit occasionally with rockets and bombs go off frequently; and an opposition is coalescing uniting elements of the Taliban, al Qaeda, Heymatyar's faction, and elements of the Pakistani intelligence community. There is a growing sense amongst the people that things have not improved in most of the country. The rampages of US troops in villages have turned people who were once sympathetic, to being against the presence of foreign troops in the country."

The whole interview is worth reading. Now, the exact same people who said the attack on Afghanistan wasn't about a gas pipeline, and claimed that the United States would save Afghanistan from life under crazed religious leaders, are saying the upcoming U. S. attack on Iraq isn't about the oil, and the people of Iraq will benefit from the American intervention.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

The war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Israelis against the Palestinians are almost beyond belief. Here is a useful list. I have pointed out the disturbing pattern in recent weeks of obvious Israeli targeting of U. N. personnel in a probable attempt to force the end of U. N. relief efforts on behalf of Palestinian refugees and the consequent acceleration of the ethnic cleansing that is to lead to the goal of Greater Israel. We are also now seeing an obvious increase in the number of murders of Palestinian civilians by the IDF, including a significant number of children. So we have:

  • specific targeting of U. N. workers, presumably to remove any external sources of food and medical aid to the Palestinians;

  • building of the new fence around Palestinian lands, a fence which usually cuts off Palestinian land in favor of the settlers and separates agricultural land from being accessible to Palestinian farmers (and a fence which seems to preclude the goal of Greater Israel, meaning that its probable value is simply to psychologically discourage the Palestinians, and it may never be finished once the desired ethnic cleansing is completed);

  • increasing starvation and destitution of Palestinians;

  • continued use by the IDF of human shields, despite an Israeli court order specifically prohibiting this practice;

  • specific targeting of children (an IDF soldier who shot and killed a 95 year-old woman by firing at a taxi with no justification was sentenced to 65 days in military prison, so I guess killing an 11 year-old would rate about a week); and

  • arbitrary beatings and torture (including, in what is a real Nazi touch, the 'lottery' or 'toss game') of Palestinians by the IDF, incidents which are happening with increasing frequency and becoming more and more sadistic.

The fear has been expressed that Israel will use the Iraqi war as an excuse for the 'final solution' for the Palestinians, the ethnic cleansing of the Occupied Territories by the forced transfer of a significant number of Palestinians to Jordan. This would be an extremely difficult operation (and is going to look remarkably like the forced movements of some of the victims of the Nazis), and will require a substantial weakening of the resolve of the Palestinian people to have it happen without a bloodbath. Are all these Israeli operations intended to remove the 'fight' from the Palestinians so the cleansing can go as smoothly as possible? Is the increased number of crimes against humanity a reflection of the fact that the time remaining to weaken the Palestinians is growing ever shorter as we approach the U. S. oil grab in Iraq?

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Bush has managed to create a crisis in Korea through bungling so complete that it is even beyond his usual standards. It is obvious that the Bush junta wants a crisis in Korea. Why? Here is a quote from a commentary in the Washington Post, referring to Kim Dae Jung, who was snubbed by Bush:

"Kim's sin? He was instituting a sunshine policy with the North, ending a half-century of estrangement. Bush, who looked upon North Korea as the most potent argument for his obsession to build a national missile defense, saw Kim, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, as nothing but trouble. He sent him home humiliated and empty-handed."

Without the Korean crisis, Bush is without any even slightly plausible enemy having the potential capacity to fire missiles that could reach the United States. Russia is now a friend, and China wouldn't have any interest in destroying the United States when it can make so much money exploiting the U. S. demand for underpriced consumer goods (if China wants to hurt the U. S., it can do it through causing world-wide deflation). Bush's arguments against Iraq as posing a threat to the United States are just silly. North Korea is the only possible missile threat to the United States, and so has been cultured as an enemy through the systematic destruction of peace initatives of the Clinton Administration and the South Koreans. The missile defense program is the largest military-industrial complex scam in American history, both in the sheer total of money being transferred to the military contractors and the fact that everybody involved knows that the program cannot work. The North Koreans are providing the only excuse for this useless enrichment of Bush's friends. The only problem with all this for Bush is that the timing of the North Korean response is interfering with the Bush junta's plan to steal Iraq's oil.