Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A good election in Canada

The Canadian election has been decided, with the Liberals winning for the fourth successive time, but this time with a minority government. They will have to govern with the support of either the Bloc Québécois or the NDP, and it seems likely there has already been some backroom deal made with the NDP. Canadians don't do coalition governments, so it would be some kind of issue by issue agreement of support, with the Liberals continuing with it until they feel they could win a majority in a new election. This type of Liberal-NDP alliance could be fairly stable, and it may be a while before another election. Some comments:

  1. As I have already written, this election could have been an unmitigated disaster, with a Conservative Party victory leading to Canada being governed by a group of right-wing nuts intent on savaging everything that is good about the country. It really was an election turning on whether Canadians could be fooled into supporting Absolute Evil. As it turned out, the result could not possibly have been better. The Liberals have been deservedly chastened for taking the electorate for granted, and now have to govern with the support of either of two smaller parties, both of which have decidedly socialist views. This will finally force Paul Martin to halt the right-wing path he has been taking. Part of the problem with Martin is that he consistently says all the right things and then consistently makes sure he doesn't do any of them. In order to get reelected, he was forced to promise to finally fund the health care system sufficiently to keep it out of the hands of the corporate parasites, and to introduce programs to reduce child poverty (the latter is such a popular Liberal promise that they make it each election, and seem loathe to actually do anything about it for fear of losing the ability to make the same promise in the next election!). The socialists will force him to live up to his promises. If the Liberals don't tack decidedly to the left, we will see another election soon, and Martin will go down as one of the most foolish losers in Canadian history.

  2. The poles consistently showed considerably more Conservative support than showed up at the ballot box. In fact, not only did the Conservatives not win, they really didn't make much of an improvement over their position in the last Parliament. The Liberals lost their majority largely through losing seats in Quebec to the Bloc Québécois. The funny thing was that Chrétien was always accused of being unliked in Quebec, with Martin depicted as being far more popular. Chrétien managed to win the majority of seats in Quebec in the last election, and the supposedly popular Martin lost them all back to the Bloc.

  3. The disgusting Canadian press made no attempt to hide its bias in favor of a Conservative victory. In fact, the much publicized pole results in favor of the Conservatives were probably part of a campaign to use a sort of 'push polling' to make the Conservative victory seem inevitable and thus influence the decisions of voters. It is also possible that some people polled expressed a desire to vote Conservative in order to send a message to the Liberals, without in fact ever intending to vote Conservative. The poles seemed so decisive that it was reported that the Conservatives broke out the Champagne on their party plane. They must be suffering from quite the hangover now. They had everything possible going for them, and they still couldn't fool Canadians into thinking they weren't evil.

  4. The election was held using paper ballots counted by hand. It went off flawlessly, with no voter having the slightest doubt that his vote would not be counted or would be changed by some crook working for a partisan voting computer company. Why would anyone want to use any other system?

I always hoped that Canadians weren't so stupid to vote to destroy their own country. The best part of the election is that all the machinations of the Conservative operators, from taking over and destroying the old Progressive Conservative party so they could appear to be less radical, to buffing up their extreme right-wing ideologue leader to make him seem like a moderate, to corking the mouths of most - but not all! - of the craziest of their members to hide their real agenda, to controlling all the media with their phony pole results, were not only an utter failure but have led to their worst nightmare, a government of Canada where the balance of power rests with socialists.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Odds and Odds

Odds and odds:

  1. Americans whose knuckles don't drag on the ground should be deeply concerned about the upcoming Canadian election. If the Conservatives manage to form the government, they will quickly and systematically dismantle all those things in Canada that many progressive Americans look to as proof that common sense in politics is possible. Some almost certain changes:

    • no more abortion rights;

    • no more gay marriages;

    • reinstatement of the death penalty;

    • a great reduction in gun control;

    • total annihilation of the single-payer government-funded health care system (they plan to do it by opening a parallel private system of health care, to which all the best professionals will of course gravitate, and then so underfund the public system that everyone will be forced to either buy insurance, pay, or do without, just like the United States);

    • deficit financing used to fund huge tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, with the deficit then used as the excuse for underfunding of social programs;

    • removal of all the recent election finance reforms in Canada, so the rich can buy elections just like in the United States;

    • greatly increased use of the prison system to create an American-style prison-industrial complex and its accompanying opportunities for profit, all based an a draconian 'law and order' use of the police as a method of social control, with particular use of the 'war on drugs' as an excuse for imprisonment;

    • great, but subtle, restrictions on non-white immigration.

    To demonstrate how bad it is, Harper, the leader of the Conservatives, first came to prominence in Canada as the head of an extreme right-wing corporate-power lobby group originally set up to lobby against publicly-finded health care. He is following the George Bush script to a tee, managing to depict himself as a moderate, a 'compassionate conservative'. This is a lie. He is clearly a radical corporate shill, and his party is filled with radical religious fruitcakes. Even some left-wingers are arguing that Harper isn't as dangerous as he seems because he'll never be able to accomplish his agenda. Americans said the same thing about George Bush. Don't believe it! If Harper wins, Canada is over. If Canada goes completely evil, what will progressive Americans point to an an example of a possible alternative?

  2. Peter Dale Scott discusses the Mysterious Case of the Dog that Didn't Bark, the absence of Ali Mohamed from the 9-11 commission investigation. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I think that Ali Mohamed is a key to understanding 9-11, although he had absolutely nothing to do with it. He is in an American prison (or is he?), presumably available for questioning, and was clearly both a member of American military intelligence working with Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan, and a member of al Qaeda (and personally worked for ObL himself), not to mention some kind of FBI informant. He pretty much personifies the conspiracy. Yet the 9-11 commission seems to be afraid of his very name. Anyone who doesn't think the commission isn't just another cover-up should wonder why this particular dog isn't barking.

  3. Alexander Cockburn writes about the usual suspects meddling in Venezuela in order to prevent the poor from getting any kind of a break. His first three sentences are great:

    "You can set your watch by it. The minute some halfway decent government in Latin America begins to reverse the order of things and give the have-nots a break from the grind of poverty and wretchedness, the usual suspects in El Norte rouse themselves from the slumber of indifference and start barking furiously about democratic norms. It happened in 1973 in Chile; we saw it again in Nicaragua in the 1980s; and here's the same show on summer rerun in Venezuela, pending the August 15 recall referendum of President Hugo Chávez."

    As is often the case these days, much of the dirty work is done by groups which are nominally advocates for things like 'democracy' or 'human rights'. Human Rights Watch and Jimmy Carter are among the many villains here. I've often wondered about the odd positions sometimes taken by groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Do you think they do deals with the Powers That Be to support some of the schemes of the Powers That Be in order to save some people elsewhere? In any event, we all have to realize that these groups have to be watched as carefully as everybody else, lest they use their reputations to sneak in real acts of harm, as is happening in Venezuela.

  4. Lockheed Martin has put the kibosh on the proposed merger with Titan Corporation, ostensibly because of an ongoing federal bribery investigation. You have to wonder whether the recent torture allegations might also have had something to do with it. The shareholders of Titan ought to wonder if the directors and officers of Titan are fulfilling their duties when they can't even seem to rise to meet the feeble ethical standards of Lockheed Martin.

  5. When thinking about Pentagon military planning exercises, don't forget Amalgam Virgo, which "tested the defense and response capabilities to a cruise missile attack on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., June 1-4, 2001." A cruise missile attack on an American military installation? What a nutty idea!

  6. The United States is currently involved in repeated war crimes in attempts at targeted assassinations in the city of Falluja, killing many people with each bombing run. The vile direct influence of Israel, in torture techniques and now in pure Israeli-style targeted assassinations, is impossible to ignore. Israel continues to drag the United States down into the moral abyss.

  7. A while ago I suggested that it would be a good idea for Americans if they were to hive off a part of the country I call the 'axis of stupidity', and let all the fruitcakes who have been dragging the whole country down go live there. The new country in that band from Virginia to Texas would be called 'Evangelica', or 'Stupidia'. Well, the Lord be praised, Stupidia is coming soon to South Carolina (for "Sodomite marriage . . . is coming soon to a neighborhood near you").

Friday, June 25, 2004


Jay Bybee, the lawyer who headed the Office of Legal Counsel to White House Legal Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, and the man behind the infamous torture memo (pdf), received his reward from Bush by being appointed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Being an opinion slut pays off big time. All you have to do is excrete a sufficiently helpful, albeit immoral and legally nonsensical, opinion, and - bingo! - you're an appeals court judge. Who does Bybee remind me of? Robert Bork. In 1973, Nixon demanded that his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, fire Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor who was getting dangerously close to discovering Nixon's role in Watergate. Richardson, being a man of integrity, refused, and Nixon fired him. Nixon then demanded that Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus fire Cox. Ruckelshaus, being a man of integrity, also refused, and resigned (or, according to the Nixon White House, was fired). Nixon then looked under a rock and found his Solicitor General, Robert Bork, who, unencumbered by the integrity of his predecessors, was happy to fire Cox. This series of incidents is known as the 'Saturday Night Massacre'. Bork had to wait longer than Bybee for his reward, but was eventually appointed to the Court of Appeals by Reagan. Bork became famous when Reagan unsuccessfully tried to elevate him to the Supreme Court. Bork then had the honor, like Captain Boycott, of having his name made into a verb. Bork's actions and Bybee's actions are similar in that both chose personal ambition over personal integrity, and both acted on the basis that the President of the United States isn't subject to the laws of the United States. A lawyer who issues an opinion which he knows is legally incorrect in order to obtain personal benefit by pleasing his employers can be said to have bybeed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Canadian election

Canadians vote on Monday, and analysts claim the election is too close to call, with the possibility of the newly reconstituted Conservative Party beating the governing Liberals. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that this would be much like Canadians electing as their government Jörg Haider's Freedom Party (there are direct connections in that they share a major backer). Although they have appropriated the name and much of the membership of the old Progressive Conservative Party (which was bad enough but had its good points and wasn't a radical party), the new Conservative Party will be a party entirely devoted to the interests of big business, and will clearly be anti-human rights and anti-immigration, and in favor of destroying or significantly weakening every single social program that doesn't benefit the rich. They have particular plans to turn the Canadian health care system into a clone of the American one, eventually leaving poor people to the mercies of the capitalist marketplace. Canadians can say goodbye to gay marriages, abortion rights, gun control, most funding for the arts, and even the tiniest sliver of a separation between Canadian foreign policy and American foreign policy (Canadians would certainly be dying in Iraq now if the Conservatives were in government). The irony of all this is that Canadians are mad at the governing Liberals largely because the Liberals themselves lost sight of their historic extreme centrism, neither right-wing nor left-wing, and have, under the leadership of shipping magnate Paul Martin (whose shipping firm has a very questionable environmental and labor history), turned sharply right. This shift also caused them to lose the steely focus they always had under Chrétien, and has led to them losing their largely-deserved reputation for competence. The disgusting Canadian media has been obviously cheerleading for the Conservatives (although the Globe and Mail is, perhaps surprisingly, endorsing the Liberals), and there is some indication that things aren't quite as bad for the Liberals as has been depicted in the media. Nevertheless, the possibility exists that on Monday night, Canada may stop existing as the country that it used to be. The Liberals were no picnic, having fixed some alleged problems in the Canadian economy on the backs of the poor (when Martin was finance minister), but they are largely responsible for the way that Canada is now, and some people think that Canada, and the idea of Canada, is a good thing. It would be a tragedy if Canadians were so stupid to throw it all away on one bad election.

The name game

The whole case for the Bush Administration claim of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection now rests on the very thin reed of a similarity of names noticed by some neocon twerp working for the Pentagon. Some member of Saddam's private militia has a similar (or here) name to some al Qaeda member, and it was alleged by the neocons that these were in fact the same person, proving a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. The al Qaeda member, who met fellow al Qaeda members at Kuala Lumpur airport - presumably holding up a piece of cardboard at the arrivals gate saying "Terrorists" - morphed into a senior al Qaeda member for the purposes of the neocon story. Juan Cole analyzes this similarity of names to within an inch of its life, dices it, vivisects it, flails it, bounces it off the ceiling, fries it up, and serves it up on a bed of nails for the neocons to chew on. His conclusion: not even close to being the same guy, and only a profound ignorance of local naming conventions would lead anyone to make the neocon mistake. I guess they'll have to find yet another lie on which to base their ridiculous claims. How many lies about how many things will they have to tell before Americans start to see a pattern?

John McMurtry's unspeakable propositions

Political debate is only allowed within narrow confines, confines which have devolved to being between extreme right-wing and unbelievably right-wing. Any discussion outside of the accepted parameters falls within what John McMurtry calls 'the unspeakable'. His list from 1988 of 30 unspeakable propositions is still largely relevant today, and I can find little to disagree about any of them (I think 14 is wrong as there is a correlation, albeit a negative correlation, and I think 25 is a particularly important one). McMurtry's essay, "Fascism and Neo-Conservatism: Is There a Difference" from 1983, is also worth reading, with Reagan's neocons continuing today, having only shifted the enemy from communism to Islam (McMurtry is a consistently excellent writer: also see his "Understanding the U.S. War State"). McMurtry's list was reprinted on the usually excellent MAI-NOT forum, a place where I find many good ideas. It is somewhat ironic as the 'progressive' posters on that forum seem to be having a problem with a poster called "Antifascist Bloc", and have resorted to calling this poster names for having the temerity to challenge their liberal assumptions, proving there are things which are 'unspeakable' on even the most progressive forums.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

11-M phone number

It has been reported that the wife of Emilio Suárez Trashorras, the man alleged to have supplied dynamite used in the Madrid bombs (an event called '11-M'), had in her possession the name and phone number of Juan Jesús Sánchez Manzano, the head of Tedax, the Spanish bomb squad that deactivated the unexploded bombs (Tedax exploded one bag containing bombs, which is itself an issue, as the explosion destroyed evidence and the bombs could have apparently been deactivated by pouring water on them; they were stopped from blowing up another bag which contained the evidence which led to the current arrests). This seems to be more evidence of official involvement in the bombings. When the judge in charge of the matter dialed the number, he was surprised that a policeman working on the judge's own investigation answered the phone. The explanation given by Spanish authorities for her possession of the phone number is that the name and number were given to her so she could phone the head of Tedax if she remembered any further details of use to the investigation. I don't know the Spanish protocol, but it seems odd to give someone who is in custody in prison the number of a government official who could presumably easily be reached by prison authorities should the witness have anything further to say. It is, however, possible. El Mundo suggests that this revelation may be part of an anti-police conspiracy!

Monday, June 21, 2004

The fatal flaw of the September 11 plans

Question: If you were Osama bin Laden sitting deep in your cave in Afghanistan and plotting in meticulous detail the terrorist attack which took place on September 11, and you stopped for a moment to look at your final plan, what would be the fatal flaw that jumped off the screen of your laptop computer and caused you to scrap the whole thing? Answer: the time between the diversion off the route of Flight 11, when air traffic controllers would start inching their hands closer to the phones to call NORAD (around 8:20 a. m., more or less), and the time, 75 to 80 minutes later, when Flight 77 is supposed to have slammed into the Pentagon (not to mention the even later time that Flight 93 was presumably slated to hit its intended target, a time at least an hour and a half after the terrorist planner must have assumed a warning would have issued from the FAA). Regardless of how incompetent and confused the American government response turned out to be, any planner of such an attack could never have assumed that it would take as long as it did for NORAD to respond, and certainly would not have assumed that air defense aircraft of the American military would be completely unarmed and completely unable to do the only job they are there for. With this obvious fatal flaw in the plan, why did the planner think, or know, that it would work? More on this soon.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Are you as tired as I am of 9-11 lies?

Some high weirdness in two articles on the 9-11 commission in the Washington Post:

  1. In the first article, dated June 17 by Dan Eggen and William Branigin, NORAD Commander Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart tells the 9-11 commission that had the Federal Aviation Administration conveyed word of the hijackings as soon it knew of them, "yes, we could shoot down the airplanes." In the second, dated June 18 by Dana Milbank (both articles are also reprinted here), the shoot-down order given by Cheney was never passed on to the Langley pilots, because, as the commission reported: "Both the mission commander and the weapons director indicated they did not pass the order to fighters circling Washington and New York City because they were unsure how the pilots would, or should, proceed with this guidance." This is consistent with Eberhart's statement if we assume that the pilots did not need such orders, and would in fact would have been confused by them, because they already had the authority to shoot. All the focus on Cheney's orders seems to be simply a way to make Cheney look heroic, as his orders were completely unnecessary. As such orders were unnecessary, apologists for the Official Story can't rely on the delay in Cheney's orders reaching the pilots to explain why no defensive action was taken. Someone still has to explain why NORAD acted as if it was under a standdown order.

  2. In the second article, it is clear that Cheney lied to the commission, and to Rumsfeld at the time he gave the order, when he told them he had Bush's authorization for the shoot-down order. He talked to Bush after he gave the order.

  3. From the second article:

    "Unknown to Cheney or Bush, however, by 10:45 other fighter jets would be circling Washington, and these had clear authority to shoot down planes, the commission determined. They were sent from Andrews Air Force Base by the commander of the 113th Wing of the Air National Guard, in consultation with the Secret Service, which relayed instructions that an agent said were from Cheney.

    That arrangement was 'outside the military chain of command,' according to the commission report. Bush and Cheney told the commission they were unaware that fighters had been scrambled from Andrews."

    When impolite critics of the Official Story of 9-11 asked the rather obvious question of why planes were not scrambled from the closest possible base at Andrews, they were condescendingly told that they lacked a proper understanding of how air defense worked, and that it was absolutely impossible for jets at Andrews to be used. If jets could in fact be scrambled from Andrews and were in the air over Washington at 10:45, why couldn't they have been in the air at, say, 9:30? As an aside, if it was 'outside the military chain of command', and Bush and Cheney were unaware of it, just what chain of command was it under?

  4. A long time ago I noted that the trick used to seem to be doing something while actually doing nothing was to send the Langley planes to New York, long after the horse had escaped from that barn and there were already lots of other American protective jets circling, and at a time when radar showed the obvious threat was to Washington. In order to get around this problem, they are now arguing that procedures meant that the jets had to head out to sea. I don't know how this is going to explain why they had to continue to New York City when the obvious imminent threat at the time was to the seat of government in Washington. Claiming that they were chasing a 'phantom aircraft' in New York City does not explain why they left Washington completely unprotected at a time they knew it was under imminent risk of attack and had aircraft in the air that could have responded. I suppose it is at least some progress that someone believes that this anomaly needs to be explained.

I lack the energy to get involved in examining in detail the lies of the 9-11 commission. It looks as if it is going to be as hopeless a cover-up as we all thought it would be.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Real versus ersatz beheadings

It is useful to contemplate the difference between what a real beheading looks like (or at least the results of one), and what a fake beheading looks like. The difference largely comes down to blood. If Islamic fundamentalist terrorists held Nick Berg, why would they go through the charade of a fake beheading? Wouldn't they either kill him and just announce that they had done so, or, if they wanted to be spectacular, behead him for real? On the other hand, if Berg had seen something he shouldn't have while up a radio tower at Abu Ghraib and died, either accidentally or otherwise, at the hands of Americans, a faked beheading makes perfect sense. The Americans authorities at Abu Ghraib may have been sitting in the middle of a torture scandal with an unexplained dead American on their hands, with rumors that he had been in American custody. A fake beheading takes the blame away from the guilty parties, and provides both a distraction from the torture scandal and a further demonizing of Iraqis so right-wingers can continue to think that torturing these 'animals' is not morally wrong and is probably necessary to protect the lives of people like Nick Berg. Republicans in the United States can then stifle discussion of the torture scandal by insisting that such discussion puts the lives of Americans in danger. The perpetrators of the Paul M. Johnson Jr. beheading, whoever they may have been, were kind enough to make the connection explicit.

The truth won't set you free if they won't let you see it

From a Knight-Ridder article (or here) entitled "Republicans Defeat Effort to Subpoena Justice Documents on Torture" (the title says it all) by Sumana Chatterjee:

"Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday defeated a Democratic-sponsored effort to subpoena documents on torture and interrogation practices from the Justice Department.

The 10 to 9 vote reflected the mounting partisan rancor over the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and whether U.S. officials condoned harsh interrogation practices on prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq."

This is how it's going to play out every single time. The Republicans control all the committees and all the levers of power. All the numerous investigations, reports, and hearings that are supposed to herald the end this summer of Bush and the neocons are going to be systematically blocked, parried, obfuscated and run into the ground. By the time of the Republican National Convention there still won't be one shred of released evidence that will change anybody's mind. I don't know what to suggest. It is as if decent Americans are playing a chess game against the Republicans and the Republican pieces are all Queens. It is not helpful to engage in wishful self-deception about this. Americans are probably doomed to four more years of neocon martial insanity, which means that the United States, and the world, is also doomed.

Ignatiev on Zionism

From a real humdinger of an anti-Zionist rant by Noel Ignatiev:

"If one part of the Zionist project is the expulsion of the indigenous population, the other part is expanding the so-called Jewish population. But here arises the problem, which has tormented Israeli legal officials for fifty years, what is a Jew? (For a century-and-a-half U.S. courts faced similar problems determining who is white.) The Zionists set forth two criteria for determining who is a Jew. The first is race, which is a myth generally and is particularly a myth in the case of the Jews. The 'Jewish' population of Israel includes people from fifty countries, of different physical types, speaking different languages and practicing different religions (or no religion at all), defined as a single people based on the fiction that they, and only they, are descended from the Biblical Abraham. It is so patently false that only Zionists and Nazis even pretend to take it seriously. In fact, given Jewish intermingling with others for two thousand years, it is likely that the Palestinians - themselves the result of the mixture of the various peoples of Canaan plus later waves of Greeks and Arabs - are more directly descended from the ancient inhabitants of the Holy Land than the Europeans displacing them. The claim that the Jews have a special right to Palestine has no more validity than would an Irish claim of a divine right to establish a Celtic state all across Germany, France, and Spain on the basis that Celtic tribes once lived there. Nevertheless, on the basis of ascribed descent, the Zionist officials assign those they have selected a privileged place within the state. If that is not racism, then the term has no meaning."

The rant explores some of the surreal ways the Zionists have had to twist logic into knots to satisfy their own peculiar form of political racism. Why are Israelis apparently so completely blind to the fact that the entire intellectual basis and justification for their failed state is a complicated series of beliefs, all of which are both racist and insane? Why are the Palestinians to blame for all their problems when the Zionists have set up a series of laws so nutty that they cannot possibly be expected to function? Mr. Ignatiev proposes the only logical solution to the problem, which is the one-state solution, but I'm afraid is a little too optimistic about George Bush.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

A nation of bad apples

From "The Logic of Torture" by Mark Danner:

"It has long since become clear that President Bush and his highest officials, as they confronted the world on September 11, 2001, and the days after, made a series of decisions about methods of warfare and interrogation . . . . The effect of those decisions - among them, the decision to imprison indefinitely those seized in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the war on terror, the decision to designate those prisoners as 'unlawful combatants' and to withhold from them the protections of the Geneva Convention, and finally the decision to employ 'high pressure methods' to extract 'actionable intelligence' from them - was officially to transform the United States from a nation that did not torture to one that did. And the decisions were not, at least in their broad outlines, kept secret. They were known to officials of the other branches of the government, and to the public."

The 'rake's progress' that led to torture and murder started with:

  • American acceptance of the vilification of Muslims and Arabs and Arab-Americans (a vilification which continues),

  • the unlawful imprisonment of thousands of Arab-Americans simply for falling in the wrong racial category,

  • the shameful concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, a place where no civilized law is allowed to govern, and

  • the ongoing outrage of the concept of 'unlawful combatants'.

It is fair to say that both in general concept and in details, Bush and his Administration are morally and legally responsible for every act of torture and murder committed by Americans in Iraq and elsewhere, and that the torture and murder is based entirely on Bush Administration policy which filtered down through the chain of command completely unaltered. But you can't blame this solely on Bush. Almost every American is complicit in this, and continues to be complicit in it as almost all of these crimes against humanity continue. The United States is a nation of bad apples. Danner concludes:

"Over the next weeks and months, Americans will decide how to confront what their fellow citizens did at Abu Ghraib, and what they go on doing at Bagram and Guantanamo and other secret prisons. By their actions they will decide whether they will begin to close the growing difference between what Americans say they are and what they actually do. Iraqis and others around the world will be watching to see whether all the torture will be stopped and whether those truly responsible for it, military and civilian, will be punished. This is, after all, as our President never tires of saying, a war of ideas. Now, as the photographs of Abu Ghraib make clear, it has also become a struggle over what, if anything, really does represent America."

Needless to say, the end result of all this will be to conclusively prove to the world and to Americans that the United States is, and will be from now on, a nation that tortures.

The Saudi connections to al Qaeda - Not!

With Michael Moore's movie coming out, it is going to be even more popular to blame 9-11 on Saudi Arabia, and in particular on its ruling families. While it is certainly true that some prominent Saudis support fundamentalist Islam, it is a long row to hoe to go from that fact to blaming the Saudis for 9-11. The reasoning connecting the Saudis to al Qaeda, such as it is, is described by Bob Dreyfuss as a "a guilt-by-association chain of reasoning", and goes like this:

"the Saudi government has ties to Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi establishment; Wahhabis are benighted Muslim conservatives who have little tolerance for more enlightened Islamic thinkers; some Muslim conservatives support terrorism; some terrorists have ties to Al Qaeda: therefore, the Saudi government supports Al Qaeda."

Dreyfuss goes on to say:

"This is silly reasoning. It echoes the silly argument that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda; it echoes the Richard Perle-inspired belief that Saudi Arabia is the brains behind Islamic terrorism; it echoes Michael Ledeen's wrongheaded belief that Saudi Arabia is one of the 'terror masters,' like Iran; and it ignores the fact that Saudi Arabia is not only battling Al Qaeda in a fight to the death, but that Saudi Arabia is perhaps Al Qaeda's No. 1 target and enemy."

We have to remember that the people behind these theories on Saudi Arabia are the same neocons who are angling for an excuse to wage war on the Saudis to steal the oil fields (with the Israeli thefts of Palestinian lands, and the recent American theft of the whole country of Iraq, and the planned theft of the Saudi oil fields, you really have to wonder if all the neocons are just kleptomaniacs). The attacks are part of a propaganda program to have Islamic fundamentalist terrorism render Saudi Arabia ungovernable, so the neocons can march in to 'protect' the oil (Michael Ledeen is completely explicit about the neocon plans). We also have to remember that the Saudis are one of America's largest foreign investors, with approximately 60% of Saudi foreign investments going to the United States, and would hardly be interested in doing anything to harm their investments. The recent admission that at least one flight did leave American airspace carrying Saudis, including one Saudi prince, at a time when most American flights were still cancelled after 9-11, will no doubt add to the accusations against the Saudis. If you think about it, however, the presence of so many Saudis of prominent background in the United States on September 11, some of whom were actually in Boston, and all of whom had to be flown out in a hurry to protect their own security, proves that the Saudi elites had absolutely no foreknowledge of 9-11. They would hardly leave their children in such a position if they had any knowledge that such an attack was going to occur. Americans may dislike the fact that foreign nationals received better treatment than Americans did at a time when the United States was in a state of crisis, but all it proves is that the American elites try to be very friendly to the Saudi elites who control much of the world oil supply. It is not a surprising connection, and proves nothing about Saudi culpability. The Saudi government is a dictatorial monstrosity, and the Saudi elites contain an unfortunate combination of oil playboys and religious nuts, but there is not the slightest reason to connect either the Saudi government or the people who run it to the events of September 11 or to support for al Qaeda. Blaming the wrong people diverts attention from the real guilty parties. As I've said before, the Saudis don't control NORAD, and since the standdown of normal air protection was crucial to the success of the 9-11 conspiracy, Americans ought to be looking much closer to home for the real culprits.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Chalabi intelligence scandal, again

Bruce Schneier has an interesting account of the alleged Chalabi scandal in his Crypto-Gram Newsletter. The whole thing starts to sound like a John Le Carré novel:

"So now the NSA's secret is out. The Iranians have undoubtedly changed their encryption machines, and the NSA has lost its source of Iranian secrets. But little else is known. Who told Chalabi? Only a few people would know this important U.S. secret, and the snitch is certainly guilty of treason. Maybe Chalabi never knew, and never told the Iranians. Maybe the Iranians figured it out some other way, and they are pretending that Chalabi told them in order to protect some other intelligence source of theirs."


"If the Iranians knew that the U.S. knew, why didn't they pretend not to know and feed the U.S. false information? Or maybe they've been doing that for years, and the U.S. finally figured out that the Iranians knew. Maybe the U.S. knew that the Iranians knew, and are using the fact to discredit Chalabi.

The really weird twist to this story is that the U.S. has already been accused of doing that to Iran. In 1992, Iran arrested Hans Buehler, a Crypto AG employee, on suspicion that Crypto AG had installed back doors in the encryption machines it sold to Iran - at the request of the NSA. He proclaimed his innocence through repeated interrogations, and was finally released nine months later in 1993 when Crypto AG paid a million dollars for his freedom - then promptly fired him and billed him for the release money. At this point Buehler started asking inconvenient questions about the relationship between Crypto AG and the NSA.

So maybe Chalabi's information is from 1992, and the Iranians changed their encryption machines a decade ago.

Or maybe the NSA never broke the Iranian intelligence code, and this is all one huge bluff.

In this shadowy world of cat-and-mouse, it's hard to be sure of anything."

The whole world of intelligence is such a morass of horseshit folded upon horseshit that it is probably wise that the rest of us ignore the whole thing. Note the rather pointed comments - I may even detect a little sarcasm - in Cryptome (scroll down) on the suspicious way this story came to be reported:

"The [New York] Times claims it was asked by the USG to withhold information about the crack (allegedly revealed to the Iranians by Chalabi) but that DoD lifted the stay due to stories 'beginning to appear in the news.' Pointers appreciated to those news reports appearing before today."

We know from the recent Judith Miller debacle that the New York Times is just a fancy method of disseminating U. S. Government press releases. The reason given for lifting the stay on the story is more horseshit. In fact, the intellectual underpinnings of the whole story appear to be horseshit, with experts on cryptology doubting whether any modern system of encryption can be said to be 'broken'. The Chalabi scandal is somebody's intelligence play, but we'll never know if the target is Chalabi, the neocons, the Iranians, some other American intelligence agency or a faction thereof, or all of the above.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Continuing Triumph of Neoconservatism

It has become very fashionable to believe that the neocons are on the run, and their hold over American politics has finally come to an end. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although Iraq isn't going well, and the torture issue is proving to be a bit of an embarrassment for certain Washington elites, the power of the neocons continues pretty much unabated. They are keeping a low profile until it is clear that oil prices will stay low enough for Bush to be reelected, but their ultimate plans for the Middle East and the world remain in place, and are quietly advancing. Americans who think that some fairy godmother - either the CIA, 'patriotic' U. S. generals, or the U. S. Congress - is going to rescue them are dreaming in technicolor. All kinds of terrible legal things are supposed to be in the works for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, and all the infamous neocons from Wolfowitz on down. Just who exactly will be bringing all these people to justice?

  • the Republican-controlled Justice Department?;

  • The Republican-controlled House of Representatives?;

  • the Republican-controlled Senate?;

  • the Republican-controlled court system?;

  • the Republican-controlled (and completely corrupted) Supreme Court?;

  • the Republican-controlled Executive Branch?;

  • the Republican-contolled media?; or maybe

  • the Christian Zionist cult hostage President?

This isn't your father's Republican Party, the one that might have had enough integrity and respect for the Constitution to can Nixon. These guys are loyal to only one thing: their continued hold on power. The only thing that will save the United States from the neocons and the further wars and domestic terrors that will be imposed by them is the ballot box in November. But what's going to happen there?:

  • Bush's core group of knuckle-dragging knucklehead Christian Zionist crazies remains completely intact (these people actually like the fact that the United States is torturing people, especially if it involves the breach of international law);

  • the Democrats have a very weak candidate;

  • another 'terrorist' attack would turn Bush into a hero overnight, and make Americans rally around the President for protection;

  • Rove no doubt has an 'October Surprise' up his sleeve (the capture of OBL?);

  • the crooked electronic voting machines are facing a bit of a battle, but in a very close election enough of them will be in place in November for the executives at Diebold and other companies to switch enough votes to make the difference;

  • incredibly, brother Jeb is still (!!!) jobbing the voting lists in Florida to systematically disenfranchise black people (is it still 1955 in Florida?), and using crooked voting machines; and

  • when all else fails, Bush always has the crooked Supreme Court in his pocket.

The United States is in extreme danger, perhaps the greatest danger it has ever faced, and not only is it unrealistic to count the neocons out, it is also very dangerous. Here, from Bob Dreyfuss, are their plans for Saudi Arabia (my emphasis):

"Before the war in Iraq, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Akins, told me that by invading Iraq the Bush administration would accelerate the spread of Al Qaeda-style movements in Saudi Arabia, and it's happening. The country is said to be in a state of incipient civil war, and the royal family is apparently unable to stem the spread of the bin Ladenite poison. Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States has called on the kingdom to conduct an all-out war against the terrorists, but it could be too little, too late. Make no mistake, however: if Saudi Arabia falls to radicals, U.S. forces will occupy that country's oil fields faster than you can say 'imperialism.' And if that happens, it will be Phase 2 of the neocons' expanded plans for the Middle East: first topple Saddam and 'flatten Iraq,' as another former ambassador to Saudi Arabia described the essence of the neocon Iraq strategy, and then move on to Saudi Arabia.

'I've stopped warning that bin Laden might take over Saudi Arabia,' Akins told me last year. 'I think that's exactly what they want.' And then American forces would move in. No U.S. government could tolerate the collapse of Saudi Arabia. Oil experts are already pointing out that sources of oil outside Saudi Arabia and Iraq are rapidly being drained, meaning that those two countries are basically the only two sources of expanded future supply. Period."

Sometime towards the end of the second Bush term I can see the United States engaged in World War III (known to future historians as the Greater Israel War) in the Middle East with Iraq-style occupations (or worse) in Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia (not to mention Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea). While people fantasize about various bad things that might happen to the neocons, Israel continues to steal land to build more illegal settlements, the Israeli-American apartheid wall continues to go up, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran are under imminent threat of attack (Dreyfuss goes on to point out in the posting I cited above that Iraq's aggressive nuclear posturing is based on the fact it knows it will soon have to defend itself), and the 'strategy of terror' continues against Americans. The neocon plans are advancing nicely, and nothing can stop them.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Where the hell is Guantanamo Bay?

You'll remember that the Bush Administration has been vehemently arguing that Guantanamo Bay isn't part of the United States, and thus prisoners there are not subject to the protections of American laws, including Constitutional rights protections. Now that the torture investigations are starting to point to Guanatanamo Bay, this may turn out to be a case of being hoist by their own petard. The statute that worries them that makes torture a criminal offence only applies to torture committed 'outside the United States'. Therefore, the Pentagon is apparently now arguing that Guantanamo Bay is "included within the definition of the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the US and accordingly is within the US." Therefore Guantanamo Bay is simultaneously:

  • for the purposes of American Constitutional law, located outside the United States;

  • for the purposes of international human rights and war crimes laws, not located in the world outside the United States; and

  • for the purposes of one American statute, located within the United States!

John Walker Lindh and the beginnings of the torture conspiracy

Donald Rumsfeld's legal counsel instructed military intelligence officers to 'take the gloves off' in interrogating John Walker Lindh. Lindh in fact received one of the earliest forms of the Abu Ghraib torture treatment that every person in the whole world now thinks of when they think of the United States. He was interrogated for hours while stripped naked and tied to a stretcher, refused treatment and medication for his painful injuries acquired prior to his capture, threatened with death, videotaped in his naked state with smiling American soldiers, and often held for long periods in a large metal container. If the United States was still subject to the rule of law, both Rumsfeld and his legal counsel would be spending the rest of their sorry lives in jail. Lindh is now imprisoned pursuant to the terms of a plea agreement which he entered into, no doubt fearing what would happen in a trial in crazed, jingoist Amerika (remember how hated he was?). A provision of the plea agreement was that he wouldn't bring up the conditions of his interrogation. In the light of what we now know was a conspiracy by the Bush Administration and its various legal counsel - lawyers so anxious to please they were willing to sign any opinion that Ashcroft and Rumsfeld put in front of them (to the extent they apparently thought that following illegal orders was actually a good legal defense to war crimes charges, and that George W. Bush was King of the United States and subject to no laws, either international or domestic!!) - to create an system of torture illegal under both American and international law and justify it by papering their files with lying legal opinions, isn't it time to let John Walker Lindh go? This conspiracy was building just when Lindh was being interrogated. In fact, had his case gone to trial, the abuses of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere might have been stopped before they got started. Lindh's plea agreement is actually part of the conspiracy which allowed the abuses to continue under cover of secrecy. The fact that the plea agreement itself contains a prohibition against Lindh raising the interrogation conditions is evidence of knowledge of guilt in the American government. The United States relied on illegally obtained confessions essentially tortured out of Lindh contrary to both international and domestic American law, including the Geneva Conventions. The confessions were obtained pursuant to a conspiracy which has led directly to the sorry state the United States now finds itself in with respect to torture all around the world. A court should reconsider the plea agreement. Condoning such an agreement is:

  • condoning torture and the breach of the Geneva Conventions,

  • sanctioning the Bush Administration's conspiracy to breach laws by suborning overly-pliant lawyers into delivering worthless legal opinions, and

  • enforcing a document which itself was part of an illegal conspiracy which led directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib by covering up the Bush Administration illegalities at an early stage.

Since the evidence against Lindh is all tainted by the torture and the conspiracy to breach American and international laws, and the plea agreement was obtained on pressure put on Lindh on the basis of the tainted confessions, Lindh would have to be released. Failure to throw out the plea agreement and release John Walker Lindh would put the court in the untenable state of being part of the conspiracy to breach international and domestic laws, and would put the administration of justice in America into disrepute.

Lying news coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

From an article by Nigel Parry damning the U. S. media, and in particular CNN, for its wildly unbalanced coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

"Palestinians and Israelis continue to die because citizens of the US — the country that intervenes more than any other to perpetuate the status quo on the ground — are offered a grossly distorted account of events on the ground that gives them no real sense of the imbalance of power between the two sides in the conflict, no idea of the extent of the US role in the conflict, and little impetus to call for a more even-handed US foreign policy in the Middle East.

It is hard to quantify in absolute terms, but most regular readers of the extremely detailed Palestinian Center for Human Rights' Weekly Reports on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories would be willing to make a safe guess that somewhere in the region of 98% of the violence perpetrated against all civilians in the conflict is violence perpetrated by Israel against Palestinian civilians, their property, and their land.

Consumers of the US media can be forgiven for concluding that the majority of violence is perpetuated by Palestinians against Israeli civilians, as this violence receives grossly disproportionate coverage.
In the same way that Serbian state television was considered complicit in Serbian war crimes by communicating a distorted view to its people of the decade-ago conflict in the former Yugoslavia, it is time that people begin to consider the culpability of the US media."

What I've always wondered is why absolutely massive amounts of Israeli state terrorism applied by an army heavily armed with the most modern in lethal military technology (paid for by the American taxpayers) against an essentially unarmed and destitute Palestinian civilian population is considered to be unworthy of even the slightest notice or comment, but the smallest possible retaliation by a suicide bomber - the most unsophisticated and least efficient form of response imaginable and used only because of the utter lack of an army or proper weapons to effect a military response - who manages to kill himself and possibly a relatively small number of people, is the front-page headline in all the American papers and the first item in all the American news broadcasts. It can't just be official American government support for Israel or Christian Zionist religiously inspired hatred (although both factors are certainly a large part of it). It can't be because civilians are the target of the suicide bombers, as civilians are also the predominant target of the Israeli state terrorism, and the Palestinians suffer in far, far greater numbers. The imbalance in the actual terror applied to civilians is so extreme, and the news coverage so absurdly biased the other way, that there must be another explanation. I think that people instinctively side with the alpha dog, the side which currently holds the most power, and at this time that dog is Israel (with conservatives more likely to support the overdog, and progressives the underdog). It's the same reaction which causes winning sports teams to have more fans. The reason people don't support the Palestinians is simply because nobody wants to side with the inevitable loser. This belief system is so ingrained that we don't even see state terrorism as being real terrorism. Since a winning state wouldn't terrorize civilians, the losing Palestinians must have some other, no doubt evil, basis for their attacks on innocent civilians. Of course, Americans also have moral feelings which would cause them to feel sympathy for the oppressed, and to be outraged at the massive amount of suffering paid for with American dollars and encouraged by the American government, but the one-sided news coverage of all American news outlets, including CNN, means they just see plucky Israel defending itself against terrorism, fighting a fair fight and winning despite all the odds. The fact that it is Israel that commits the predominant number of terrorist acts, and that the suicide bombers are a response to this state terrorism (and you can connect almost every suicide bombing to some specific prior Israeli attack against Palestinians), is simply never mentioned in the American news coverage. This news coverage is a lie, and people ought to be held to account for it.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Bush at the Reagan funeral

American editorial cartoonists are on a bit of a roll (as well they should be, with all the material they have been handed). This brilliant one (or here or here) by Lalo Alcaraz, of Bush at the Reagan funeral, of course refers to this famous photograph of John F. Kennedy, Jr. saluting at his assassinated father's funeral. The extra joke is that the same Republican-connected High Cabal behind such deeds as that assassination, the October Surprise that slid Reagan into power (not to mention the upcoming October Surprise), and 9-11, were also possibly behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jr. himself.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

The American torture lawyers

A legally astute joke from Jay Leno (found here):

"According to the 'New York Times', last year white house lawyers concluded that President Bush could legally order interrogators to torture and even kill people in the interest of national security - so if that's legal, what the hell are we charging Saddam Hussein with?"

By the way, shouldn't the lawyers who signed the torture opinions, knowing they were wrong in international and domestic law, and knowing they were to be used to justify breaches of international and domestic law, be:

  • disbarred; and

  • charged under those same international and domestic laws for conspiring to facilitate the use of torture by American troops?

The Spanish police and the Madrid 'terrorists'

Three of the suspects in the Madrid bombings were informants for a police inspector in northern Spain. They made calls to the policeman and to the alleged ringleader of the bombing plot from the same pay phone outside the police station. The ringleader allegedly blew himself up when his apartment was surrounded by police (a very convenient death for the police). Joan Puig, a spokesman for the Catalan party ERC said the allegations of a terrorist connection to the police were 'surreal'. They are not at all surreal if you believe, as I do, that the bombings were not traditional terrorism, but were part of a strategy of tension orchestrated by the Spanish far right to influence the Spanish election results (thwarted by the refusal of the Spanish media to play along and by Aznar's bungling attempts to use the bombings for his political benefit). The Spanish police would have been heavily involved in this, and one would expect close connections between the police and the alleged terrorists.

Friday, June 11, 2004


A former American marine, Ken O'Keefe (for some of what he has been doing, see here and here and here), is organizing a private peacekeeping force to move to the Occupied Territories in September to effect a ceasefire from militant Palestinians and to end the illegal Israeli occupation. This international force, which I gather would be largely composed of Americans, would be the new Abraham Lincoln Brigade (a group which was the first racially integrated military unit in American history and the first to be led by a black commander, not to mention a group harassed for years in the United States for alleged communist sympathies), this time of peacekeeping human shields, and would do more than any other possible action to restore the reputation of the United States so ruined by Bush. It is exactly the kind of action that would work, which is why neither the Israeli nor the American governments will allow it to happen (O'Keefe and colleague Ian Hodgson have already been arrested in Gaza).

The Israeli Settlers

There is an outstanding article in the New Yorker - the only mainstream American magazine besides Harpers that isn't a waste of the dead trees it is printed on - by Jeffrey Goldberg entitled 'Among the Settlers' (if you read Goldberg, you should also read 'The Unsettlers' by Samantha M. Shapiro). Goldberg discusses the problems posed by the most evil group of people in the world, the Zionist Israeli settlers. Although the article is marred by bending over backwards to be 'fair and balanced', Goldberg manages to damn the settlers simply by quoting their own words. It is not a joke that they were led by a man named Rabbi Kook, and it is not a joke that a very small number of truly evil men can lead others into a moral monstrosity. Religious insanity is the kookiest and most dangerous form of insanity in the world. Goldberg also blames the morally ambiguous attitude of other Israelis towards the settlements for the current problems. The predictable attacks against the author and the article are nothing more than quibbles. The Israeli-Palestinian problem, which is usually depicted as insoluble, is the easiest problem in the world to fix. Clean out the insane settlers from the lands they've stolen (and along with them those who have moved to the Occupied Territories not for insane religious reasons but just for subsidized housing), grant the Palestinians a state over the whole of the Occupied Territories, and install some UN peacekeepers in the new Palestinian state to ensure Israeli security. Problem fixed, and along with it much of the impetus for worldwide terrorist attacks against the rest of the world. The problem of the unstated desire to create Greater Israel continues to blind Israelis to the simplicity of the solution. Can't they see how completely evil and insane the settlers are, and how that evil and insanity is the true cause of all their problems? To put it another way, if you have Charlie Manson living in your basement and the dead bodies of all your neighbors start piling up in your living room, you shouldn't start blaming the neighbors.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Torture Inc.

I had hoped that someone would bring a lawsuit in an American court against the American contractors allegedly involved in the torture in Iraq. The Center for Constitutional Rights and the Philadelphia law firm of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker and Rhoads have now brought such a suit (or here) against the Titan Corporation, CACI International and its subsidiaries, and three individuals who work for these companies (including the now infamous Stephen Stephanowicz and John Israel). Both CACI and Titan are publicly traded corporations. Titan is in the middle of a merger with Lockheed Martin. I wonder what Lockheed Martin thinks about taking on this kind of potential liability, not to mention a very smelly reputation (although, to be frank, it is difficult to imagine anything that would make Lockheed Martin look any worse than it already does). Both Titan and CACI had already started to try to wiggle out of taking any responsibility. The shareholders of both Titan and CACI might want to ask the officers and directors of these corporations just what the hell they thought they were doing when they decided it would be a good idea to do the work that was too dirty for the CIA. On the other hand, maybe they will consider it as excellent advertising for a future Titan-CACI torture joint venture. Given the current state of the United States, torture, both foreign and domestic, will be an excellent and rapidly growing business. They can print their share certificates in blood.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

'The girl in the polka dot dress'

From an interesting web site speculating on the identity of the assassins of Robert Kennedy, particularly the identity of the infamous 'girl in the polka dot dress':

"This website argues that Sirhan's handler was Kathy Ainsworth, a 26yo KKK terrorist from Jackson, Mississippi. If she was, her involvement points to her boyfriend, 21yo Thomas A. Tarrants III, as the Caucasian man seen firing three shots into Robert Kennedy by Don Schulman. The other persons involved in the assassination were a hypnotized Sirhan Sirhan, Sirhan double Michael Wayne, Gabor Kadar, Thane Eugene Cesare, as well as a possible traitor within the Kennedy camp, Frank Mankiewicz. The assassination was a joint FBI/ADL operation. The two organizations co-operated again a few weeks later when they arranged for the execution of two of the principals involved in the successful operation to purge America of its last great progressive politician. The country has been on a downward slide to militarism and irrationality ever since."

The LAPD did everything it possibly could to bury the story of the girl in the polka dot dress, up to and including intimidating the most important witness during a fake polygraph exam. The LAPD's actions in supressing the existence of an important suspect/witness, identified in one of the earliest reports of the arrest of Sirhan Sirhan, proves both the importance of the girl and the fact that her existence was officially embarrassing. According to the web site, Tarrants is still alive.

'Atta' in Florida

Daniel Hopsicker has a good list of facts he has discovered about Mohamed Atta. Given Muslim attitudes towards pork, and given that Atta is supposed to have been so committed to his religion that he was prepared to die for it, it is impossible to understand his love of pork chops. Even more striking is his psychopathic capacity for cruelty. Psychopaths don't kill themselves, especially for a cause. They are too interested in themselves for sacrifice. In this I have to differ from Hopsicker. Atta may have been perfect for the job of preparing the attack, but he was not perfect for the job of being a suicide victim. I very much doubt he was on that plane. The picture that Hopsicker paints of the Florida Atta is impossible to reconcile with descriptions of the quiet and pious architecture student in Hamburg. Think of the Beastie Boys and this quote from his friend in Germany, Volker Hauth:

"We spoke about music cause I'm interested in music and I like playing music and he told me for Muslims it is not allowed to listen to music or to enjoy music in the way people from the western world enjoy music because of the impact of music. If you have a look to the young people dancing, very loud music, the impact is comparable to the impact of drugs and this is not allowed to Muslims."

Two Hinckleys are better than one

There has been a lot written about the peculiar, um, coincidence, that the brother of John Hinckley, the man accused of and incarcerated for the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, was scheduled to have had dinner with Neil Bush on the day of the assassination attempt, a dinner that was wisely cancelled, and that the Bush and Hinckley families were close. I was not aware that there was a parallel Hinckley named Edward M. Richardson, who, no doubt by coincidence, shared some particular characteristics with John Hinckley:

"Both had apparently been captivated by the 18-year-old Miss Foster, the star of such films as 'Taxi Driver' and 'Carny.' Both stayed briefly at the Park Plaza Hotel in New Haven and sent letters to Miss Foster. Both had recently lived in Lakewood, Colo., just outside Denver. Both had been unable to find work and appeared to be drifting around the country with little purpose in the weeks before they allegedly took action against the President.

But Federal authorities reiterated yesterday that they had found no evidence that the two men had ever met."

The Underreported site (an excellent site, by the way) points out that it is unclear whether Richardson's interest in Foster was influenced by his knowledge of Hinckley gained from the press reports after the assassination attempt, but it appears likely that Richardson had mailed a letter to Jimmy Swaggart five days before the attempt predicting the assassination of Reagan (authorities didn't know who had sent the Swaggart letter but it contained almost identical language to a letter found in a room that Richardson had occupied, a room in a hotel in New Haven where Hinckley had also stayed, and was mailed from Grand Junction, Colorado, a city not that far from the suburb of Denver, Lakewood, where both Richardson and Hinckley had recently lived). I guess with Hinckleys, it's always wise to have one in reserve, as you never know how many you'll need.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Washing-Bag TIU

Another way in which the late Bush White House is like the late Nixon White House is the fact that both ended in Total Information Unawareness. No one knew what was going on in the late days of Nixon until he actually resigned. Rumors reigned supreme. Bush is in no danger of resignation, but it has become as difficult to find out what is happening in Washington-Baghdad (Washing-Bag) as it is to figure out the North Korean government. Did Tenet jump or was he pushed? If he was pushed, who pushed him? What's up with Chalabi, anyway? Is he being framed by the CIA? Does this have something to do with Tenet's resignation? Who ordered the jackbooted thugs into Chalabi's office? Was it actually Bremer of Baghdad? If so, was he acting for the CIA, the State Department, or the paleoconservatives who have taken the White House back? Have they really taken the White House back, or does it suit some people to have that rumor circulating? In fact, is there any real difference between Kissinger-inspired paleocons and the neocons, or is the distinction just more disinformation? Are the high oil prices a conspiracy between Bush's energy friends and the House of Saud, a conspiracy that now has to be reined in for a few months? Is the Saudi government behind recent attacks in Saudi Arabia, intended to keep the price of oil high? Are the paleo-conservatives back, if indeed they are back, to force the price of oil down until Bush's reelection, at which point it can go back up again? Is there a ceasefire in the south of Iraq? If so, which side is breaching it? Is the ceasefire the work of the CIA and/or the State Department, with the breaches the work of Pentagon neocons trying to start WW III? Is the appointment of the specific Iraqi stooge politicians that Bremer forced on the Iraqis a victory for the CIA? Are the neocons on the run in Iraq, or are they just biding their time until after the November election? My guess is that they are just taking a refreshing break, with the start of WW III inconvenient now due to the fact that it would greatly raise gas prices; after the reelection, watch for a big neocon comeback, with new wars against Iran and Syria. Are the neocons suddenly in insurmountable legal problems in Washington? My guess is that Bush is so religiously addled, and completely dominated by the Christian Zionists, that he is like a brainwashed cult victim - Patty Hearst as President! - and would never turn on his neocon Zionist friends, and as long as Bush is onside the completely Republican-dominated American government will continue to shield the neocons no matter what they do, just as they have until now. After all, if Douglas Feith isn't in the Graybar Hotel making license plates already for what we know he's done, it is difficult to see what would get him in trouble. Don't underestimate the neocons. They are at their sneakiest when you think they are on the run. The complete Washing-Bag confusion suits them very well.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Nonsense and Chalabi

Nonsense and Chalabi:
  1. Juan Cole on the nonsense that the Iranians tricked the neocons into attacking Iraq:

    "Chalabi and the other Iraqi expatriates certainly gamed the Bush administration. But it is not credible to me that Iranian intelligence actively sought a US invasion of Iraq.

    In 2002, the US occupied Afghanistan, to Iran's east. The hardliners in Iran did not like this development. They certainly would not have wanted US troops in Iraq to their West, as well. That they would manufacture fairy tales about Iraqi weapons to lure the US to Baghdad is inconceivable. And the hardliners are in charge of Iranian intelligence.

    The hardline clerics objected strenuously in summer, 2002, when the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, then based in Tehran, openly admitted to having conducted negotiations with US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office about an alliance against Saddam. Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim received great heat for this alliance. Then when Abdul Majid Khoei went to Iran in winter, 2002-2003, he spoke to conservative clerics about the need to ally pragmatically with the US against Saddam, and it caused an uproar. His talk was at one point actually cut off by the tumult and he had to leave the hall.

    That the Iranians reluctantly accepted that the US was determined to go to war against Iraq is obvious. But that they connived at it is ridiculous."

  2. Richard Perle (!!) on the nonsense that U. S. intelligence found out that Chalabi had informed the Iranians about the fact that the Americans had broken the Iranian encrypted communications when the Iranian agent Chalabi informed reported the information back to Iran using the same codes:

    "The idea that the Iranians, having been informed that their codes were broken, would then use their broken codes back to Iran is absurd. It is so basic of a mistake. . . . It is comparable to a math teacher instructing a student that two and two is five."

I hate to flog a dead horse, but neither of these allegations against Chalabi makes even the slightest amount of sense. Chalabi may be as guilty as sin in dealing with the Iranians, but these charges are so ridiculous that they throw into question the whole attack on him. We know for certain that Chalabi and the neocons, together with parts of the American media, especially the New York Times, conspired to create a systematic campaign of lies to fool the American people into a disastrous attack on a sovereign country that posed no threat to the United States. That should be enough to hang Chalabi, the neocons, and their 'journalist' enablers. Leave Iran out of it.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Truth Pioneer on Israel

From a column by Bill Kaufmann in the Calgary Sun:

"We hear constantly about an unfair 'double standard' imposed on Israel but if any existed, it's amounted to nothing but hollow verbiage.

The double standard that counts is the one enjoyed by Israel, courtesy of the U.S. which would normally slap economic sanctions or threaten war on countries illegally occupying and crushing their neighbours.

Instead, America's favourite ethnic cleanser, Ariel Sharon, is cut another fat cheque and offered more bulldozer blades.

If American Rachel Corrie had been squashed to a pulp by one of the 'axis of evil' it would have been grounds to launch another disastrous war.

Cindy Corrie says she hopes the killing of her daughter 'brings some change and balance' to U.S. Mideast policy.

But double standards die hard."

This is an absolutely amazing thing to be printed in a North American newspaper. All North American media outlets, under obvious pressures, maintain a constant lying stance on Israel. You have to be brave to even mention the obvious truth (by the way, Israel's back at it in Rafah). Watch for the vicious attacks on this courageous columnist to start flying.

Tom Toles

I think that Tom Toles and Ted Rall (and Aaron McGruder) are the best political cartoonists in the United States. Indeed, they may be the only political cartoonists in the United States. This is spectacular.

Genius Iranian spies

The latest report on Chalabi is that he told an Iranian official that the United States had broken the secret communications code of Iran's intelligence service, thus destroying for the Americans their secret window into Iran. Read these paragraphs from the New York Times story:

"American officials said that about six weeks ago, Mr. Chalabi told the Baghdad station chief of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security that the United States was reading the communications traffic of the Iranian spy service, one of the most sophisticated in the Middle East.

According to American officials, the Iranian official in Baghdad, possibly not believing Mr. Chalabi's account, sent a cable to Tehran detailing his conversation with Mr. Chalabi, using the broken code. That encrypted cable, intercepted and read by the United States, tipped off American officials to the fact that Mr. Chalabi had betrayed the code-breaking operation, the American officials said."

We're supposed to believe that Chalabi told the station chief of a very important office of "one of the most sophisticated" intelligence agencies in the Middle East that his code had been compromised, and the station chief reported the conversation to head office using the same code? Ha ha ha! Do the 'American officials' and the New York Times think that we are morons? While this story is an improvement over the absurd one that the Iranians used Chalabi to trick the poor neo-cons into the attack on Iraq - as if the Iranians thought it would be a good idea to intall the American army in bases next door to Iran with the American government expressly calling for 'regime change' in Iran, i. e., death and/or American-style torture for the current Iranian leaders - it is still obvious nonsense. For some non-bullshit interesting insights on the issue, scroll down on the essential Cryptome.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Rafah Rant

Here is a good rant on what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians, particularly in Rafah. It's hard to fathom the suffering of people forced to live their whole lives in refugee camps due to the illegal actions of the Israelis, and then murdered and dispossessed of what little they have left all for the fault of living on ancestral lands that the Israelis want to steal (even an Israeli politician could see how similar Israeli actions are to Nazi actions in the Holocaust). The Israelis now have their ethnic cleansing down to a science. They make a big fuss about each violent incursion, making sure to utter the magic words that the incursion is necessary for Israeli 'security', move in quickly, do as much damage and killing as possible within the window of world outrage, and then partly withdraw. This allows them to continue to threaten the survivors with more cruelty, while allowing the world to pretend that the danger is over. The world goes back to sleep, and Israel waits a few weeks before repeating the process somewhere else. The most recent attack, replete with 'warning shots' murderously fired with tank shells into a group of children, was nominally supposed to be a hunt for tunnels through which arms are supposedly smuggled, but they found at most a very small number of such tunnels. As usual, bogus worries about security are the official Israeli cover for ethnic cleansing. Until the world does something about these outrages in the periods between the attacks, the Israelis will continue their slow-motion ethnic cleansing until the Palestinians are annihilated. As the world dithers, the Zionist crazies are emboldened, and each wave of Israeli crimes against humanity becomes more brutal.