Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Bobby Fischer conspiracy

From a 'Statement Of Facts Reported By A Third Party' on the events at Narita Airport preceding Bobby Fischer's detention in Japan:

"Bobby found all of this to be slightly incredible because Bobby's passport was perfectly valid in every way with about two and one half years left on it till it expired on January 23rd of 2007. Furthermore in October and November of 2003 Bobby had personally visited the Bern, Switzerland U.S. embassy (the same U.S. embassy that had originally issued the 10 year passport No. Z7792702 to Bobby on January 24, 1997) because Bobby's passport was almost completely full with almost no place left for more visa stamps. Bobby had been sternly advised on several occasions by both Japanese and Hong Kong immigration officials that his passport urgently needed to get more pages put into it immediately so there would be space for more visa stamps. In about late October of 2003 Bobby told the people in the U.S. embassy at Bern, Switzerland that he needed more pages for his passport otherwise he soon wouldn't be able to travel for lack of space to make visa stamps. After about 10 days and many phone calls back and forth and at least 2 visits to the embassy in Bern they finally gave Bobby the extra pages for his passport.

The embassy at Bern never explained to Bobby what the delay was all about except to say that the state department needed time to make the decision whether or not to give him the extra pages. To Bobby surprise on November 6, 2003 they gave him the 20 or so extra page insert which they professionally bound into his passport free of charge! Such service! But that was about 8 months ago in neutral Switzerland. Now Bobby was in U.S. occupied? excuse US-U.S. controlled Japan. But it is highly significant and important to reemphasize that when Bobby personally presented his perfectly valid U.S. passport No. Z7792702 to the U.S. Embassy at Bern, Switzerland on November 6, 2003 far from confiscating and destroying his passport they actually gave him an about 20 page insert for it! The embassy perfectly sewed the insert into Bobby’s passport themselves in some high-tech manner so that it appears to be an integral part of the passport. If Bobby’s passport were 'Illegal' or 'revoked' or 'Invalid' or whatever then one would think that that was the time for the embassy to make their claim however false, unlawful and illegal that claim might be . . . "

Fugitives may not be issued a new American passport unless it is used to enable them to return to face trial, but Fischer was issued a new American passport in 1997, at a time when he was a fugitive, and had further dealings with American authorities concerning the passport in late 2003. The Americans now claim that his passport was revoked in a December 11, 2003 letter from the U.S. Embassy in Manila, a letter Fischer says he never received, and he apparently had no difficulty using his passport to enter Japan in 2004. If Fischer never saw the letter revoking his passport, he never received an opportunity to protest the revocation, which is his right under American law (the letter was only shown to Fischer the day after his detention by an American official). A spokesman for the American embassy in Tokyo has now denied that there is any connection between Fischers's detention and Japan's request for special treatment for alleged U.S. army deserter Charles Robert Jenkins. It is clear that there is such a connection, and that Japan has effectively agreed with the Americans to trade Fischer for Jenkins. Jenkins has entered Japan and the U. S. military claims to be preparing a case against him, so we'll see if there was a deal if that case is never presented. The Japanese interest in Jenkins is due to the fact he is married to a Japanese woman who was kidnapped by the North Koreans and held there for over twenty years. The real American interest in Fischer appears to be that he had the temerity to connect American policy towards the Middle East and what he felt to be retribution on September 11, 2001 for the injustice of that policy (it is also possible that this American action, like the whole attack on Iraq, reflects little George Bush's psychological need to clean up matters for his daddy, who may have been offended that Fischer defied his order not to play Spassky in Yugoslavia in 1992). The coincidence of Fischer traveling for years on an American passport and only encountering trouble when Japan needs an American favor, with Japanese authorities somehow miraculously finding out about the revocation between the time Fischer enters the country and the time he attempts to leave, is too great to ignore. It will be a tragedy if extreme nationalist attitudes in Japan towards protecting the interests of its citizens, as seen most notably in the scandal of Japan sheltering Peruvian crook Fujimori, results in the destruction of perhaps the greatest chess player of all time.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The true nature of Israel's wall

I think this little article by Ran HaCohen is the best description of the true nature of the Israeli-American security wall that is rapidly surrounding the Palestinians. There is a tendency to see the issue as merely being the fact that the wall annexes Palestinian lands, but the problem is actually much worse (my italics):

"Just like you don't call a book 'a paper,' or bread 'flour,' you won't call this a Wall. What Israel is building in the West Bank is made of walls and fences, but it is not a wall or a fence. It is something very different. I am not sure about its proper name: ghettos? Extra-judicial detention centers? Open-air prisons? A network of cages for humans? I am not sure there is a name for it; I am not sure it has a precedent in human history. Not only has it got nothing to do with the comparatively miniature Berlin Wall, it has clearly very little to do even with the Apartheid Bantustans, which encompassed tens of thousands of square kilometers each. The West Bank cages often comprise just a few hectares, which is a different thing altogether.

Decades ago, a common Israeli argument was that the West Bank and Gaza were too small for a viable Palestinian state. Be that as it may, nobody would claim that a fully built-up 2 x 2 km (1.5 sq. mi.) cage, with no public facilities, no land reserves for housing, no fields, and with a gate guarded by a hostile army, is a viable place to live in. The Israeli authorities know this very well; after all, their own passion for land is insatiable. Their intention is clear: sooner or later, the hopelessly caged population will have to leave simply to escape starvation. This is ethnic cleansing, making life impossible so that the Palestinians are forced out. The nearer we get to the Green Line and to major settlements, the smaller the cages get. These are the areas that Israel wants most, so living conditions should drive away the indigenous Palestinian population there as soon as possible."

I really have to apologize to apartheid South Africa for calling it an apartheid wall, as the Israeli-American wall is much, much worse than anything built by the Boers. It is also a great insult to communist East Germany to compare it to the Berlin wall. It is like something Kafka might have dreamed up, thousands of people enclosed in a massive network of cages, security gates, Palestinian roads blocked to vehicle traffic, and settler roads that are off-limits but are built to ensure the maximum inconvenience to Palestinians, all guarded by brutal young Israeli thug-soldiers whose job is to cause the maximum suffering to Palestinians. The Israelis are intentionally setting up a series of concentration camps. The purpose is not Israeli security, as a wall built along the Green Line would accomplish that supposed goal. The point is to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians so the Zionists can conclude their project of stealing their land. The wall is one of the most obscene visions ever conceived by a human being.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Further adventures of the Spanish police

Further adventures (or here or here) of the Spanish police (my italics and bold):

"Discrepancies started to emerge as members of the Spanish parliament probing the aftermath of the March 11 rail bombings quizzed police on duty on the day of Spain's worst ever terror attack. Police chief inspector Luis Martin Gomez told the enquiry how he had examined a van understood to have been used by the bombers in the town of Alcala de Henares, the small town east of Madrid from where they set off with their deadly cargo. Gomez said he saw nothing suspicious in the seized vehicle, which he looked over only briefly 'for two or three seconds' before it was transported to Madrid for further investigations. A later search uncovered detonators and a tape containing Koranic verses. Gomez then described earlier intelligence service claims that the detonators had been left clearly in view as if to call deliberate attention to them as 'utterly false'."

and (my italics):

"Madrid's former head of security, Santiago Cuadro meanwhile contradicted evidence given last week by his then superiors, insisting he had never said the explosives used were of a type ETA used in the past. Cuadro said he had merely told former police deputy director Pedro Diaz-Pintado just hours after the blasts that there were 'indications' to that effect. He added he was 'sure to have spoken of dynamite' and not Titadyne, used in past ETA attacks. But Diaz-Pintado had told the hearing he remembered Cuadro spoke specifically of 'Titadyne with a detonator cord.' It was early on March 12 that the explosive was revealed as Goma-2 Eco. Members of the inquiry said Wednesday it was possible that either a poor quality telephone line or the great stress officials faced led to the confusion."


"Further uncertainty surrounds the caretaker of a building opposite where the van was parked. He told officials he saw police discover the van's contents. A supposedly secret intelligence report backs that contention that the police checked over the vehicle on the spot.

But some police officers say the van was only searched in the late afternoon of March 11 after being taken to police headquarters in the capital."

It's not just the many discrepancies in the various stories of the police and intelligence services, or the fact that the supposed terrorists loudly proclaim their innocence in a manner completely unlike fundamentalist terrorists who should be proud of what they did and basking in the publicity they must have sought, or the fact that the Aznar government knowingly lied to the Spanish people, or the fact that the supposed terrorists made telephone calls from outside a police station, or the fact that at least some of them were police informants, or the fact that Aznar has now made the very peculiar admission that his government lied, or the convenient fact that the main alleged terrorist managed to blow himself up while surrounded by Spanish police and thus deprived himself of the court forum to express his supposed terrorist grievances (without a death penalty to face, why would he kill himself?), or the amazing story of the Spanish police and the rental car. Were I Spanish I'd probably be equally as concerned about the fact that the Spanish police and intelligence services participated in the murder of Spanish citizens for extreme right-wing neo-fascist political purposes, and the fact that they are clearly such a bunch of incompetent boobs.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Kafka on Guantanamo Bay

Ashlee Vance of The Register writes about the removal of the embarrassing old slogan for the American prison at Guantanamo Bay, 'The Least Worst Place' - a slogan based on yet another smart-ass remark by Rumsfeld - and about the U. S. Navy's peculiarly monikered spokesman:

"'The removal was ordered because the commanding officer did not feel it accurately reflected his vision of the base,' said Navy spokesman Lieutenant Mike Kafka.

(Yes, you're reading that correctly. A man named Kafka has been deployed to field questions about a prison where the criminals are only vaguely charged with crimes, can't speak to lawyers and likely will never get out.)"

Freshly squeezed Spanish evidence

The Spanish police continue to plant evidence in the Madrid bombing case (my italics and bold type):

"Police in Spain have found a second car used in the train bombings in Madrid in March, reports say.

The abandoned rental car was discovered in the town of Alcala de Henares, where several of the bombs are thought to have been loaded on to trains, in June.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo said the car was parked 30 metres from where another vehicle also believed to have been used by the bombers was found.".


"A resident of the Madrid suburb alerted police to the car after noticing it had been abandoned, El Mundo said.

Police treated it as a stolen vehicle and returned it to the rental company, whose staff started to clean it - before discovering a suitcase inside containing suspicious material.

'Much of the evidence that the terrorists left inside the car disappeared in the course of the cleaning of the car,' the daily said.

DNA tests confirmed that the car was used by two suspected suspects in the case, one of whom blew themselves (sic) up in a flat in April to avoid arrest, the report said."

I think even people who find conspiracy theory silly are going to have trouble with this one. The police:

  1. failed to examine a car found 30 meters from another vehicle which is supposed to have been used by the bombers; and

  2. when alerted that the car appeared to be abandoned in the area of the terrorist car, returned it without having any suspicions about it, and in particular missed the suitcase containing 'suspicious material' (does it remind you of 'Atta's' suitcase found at Logan Airport?);

  3. to a rental company which gave it such a cleaning it destroyed nearly all the evidence except, conveniently, DNA evidence which tied the car to two suspected suspects in the case;

  4. one of whom had blown himself up in what remains a very troubling incident when the main supposed terrorist plotter, while surrounded by police, conveniently made himself permanently unavailable before he could proclaim his innocence or for whom he was working.

The suitcase contained the cliché cassettes with calls to jihad and martyrdom. After discovering this evidence, the police waited one month before bothering to mention it to the judge investigating the case (the police claim they were being 'cautious'). It is clear that as evidence continues to mount showing connections between the patsies and Spanish police, the police are starting to panic, and are resorting to some rather obvious evidence manufacturing.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Ronstadt in Vegas

The story goes that Linda Ronstadt in her introduction to the song 'Desperado' before an audience at a Las Vegas casino made some comments praising Michael Moore and his film. This is said to have caused a near riot, with protestors throwing drinks and defacing posters, and half the audience booing and storming out. This reaction was the excuse the casino 'owner' had for escorting her off the premises, stating she'll never return. Didn't anyone else find this whole story bullshitty?:

  1. Ronstadt is a known lefty, and has made the same comment at other venues with nary a word of protest. The audience could hardly have been surprised when she made this kind of remark.

  2. Las Vegas isn't known for the depth of its political feelings. In fact, experts on the city find this reaction to be bizarre.

  3. Her remarks were about as uncontroversial as any mention of Moore could possibly be.

  4. Ronstadt claims she wasn't thrown out, as if the whole story was embellished after the fact by the casino 'owner' (I write 'owner' as we all know who really owns all the casinos, don't we?).

  5. The Republicans are terrified of Moore's film, as it has crossed the barrier from being a film for Democrats to being a film popular and liked by a huge swath of Middle America. As Americans like the film, Republican operators are having no success depicting it as a partisan work of propaganda. People who see it are being exposed to questions about Bush that would never even be hinted at in the disgusting American media.

  6. Immediately after the 'riot', as if they were all ready for it, the disgusting American media covered the story as evidencing the supposed gulf between Americans and these elitist Hollywood liberals, trying to claim that people like Moore and Ronstadt are actually driving people into the arms of the Republicans.

  7. All of this generally fits into Republican propaganda, going back to Nixon's 'silent majority', that there is a vast and uncrossable gulf between the East and West Coast snooty elites, with their questionable morality and 'un-American' values, and the rest of the decent, god-fearing people who make up the vast majority of the population. It is not at all clear that Middle America is anywhere near as conformist as Republicans and some Democrats would have you believe.

It should be obvious that this whole incident was a Republican dirty tricks set-up, much like the Brooks Brothers Riot of Republican operatives who descended on Florida to pretend to be concerned citizens and stopped the vote counting in Florida before it could be determined that Gore had actually won. It also resembles the Hard Hat Riots of Nixon's time which were set up by Republican operatives who paid some of the rioters to make it seem that working class Americans were vehemently against the 'hippies' who were protesting the Vietnam war. The Las Vegas riot - if it in fact even occurred - and the reporting of the incident, especially the categorizing of it in strict Republican red-blue terms to show the supposed gulf between the Democrats and decent Americans, is almost certainly a creation of the Rovian propaganda mills. The Republicans are starting to panic a bit, as Moore has them spooked, so the dirty tricks are starting. What is sad is how easy it is for them to pull these stunts off.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

MI6 and the death of David Kelly

In July 2003, MI6 withdrew the intelligence which had been used in Tony the Poodle's September 2002 Iraq dossier, and in particular the intelligence which formed the basis of the 45-minute claim.  It withdrew the intelligence because the intelligence sources were found to be 'unsafe', which presumably means they were found to be liars.  John Scarlett somehow managed to give his testimony at the Hutton Inquiry without mentioning this fact!  Here is an amazing part of Scarlett's testimony in answer to a question concerning allegations that there was disquiet in the intelligence community over the 45-minute claim (paragraph 167):

"I was therefore confident, as I had been all along, that the representatives of the intelligence community were not aware of disquiet about the inclusion of the 45 minute point in the dossier, and that there was nobody in a position to represent the intelligence community, that is at the level of the JIC and senior members of the intelligence community, who had raised any difficulty with this point at all."

and, in answer to a follow-up question (paragraphs 167 and 168; my emphasis):

"Q. There are two elements to that statement, Mr Scarlett, are there not? One is disquiet about the 45 minutes claim and the other is its inclusion in the dossier. But anybody listening would have thought there was no disquiet about the 45 minutes claim as it appeared in the dossier.
 A. I briefed the Prime Minister in the terms that I have just said. In fact that sentence as written there links the two, '... provoked disquiet amongst the intelligence community, which disagreed with its inclusion in the dossier'. There was no disagreement, and even now, after we have heard about some disquiet in one particular section of one particular part of the intelligence community, that is not about its inclusion in the dossier. So actually that statement is a solid one. I briefed the Prime Minister in the terms I have just said."

Unbelievable!  Scarlett gave this testimony under oath to Lord Hutton at a time he was aware that the intelligence he spoke about had in fact been withdrawn.  He didn't technically perjure himself, as the intelligence had been withdrawn after the dossier had been prepared, but he skated as close as possible to lying as it is possible to go, and he certainly misled Lord Hutton as to what had been going on.  We now have confirmation in the Butler report that the dossier was indeed 'sexed up', and Gilligan, the BBC, and David Kelly have been completely vindicated.  What can we learn from this incredible conspiracy of silence to keep secret the fact that the intelligence had been withdrawn?  What are they all trying to hide?  Rowena Thursby has an answer:

"Note the date MI6 decided to cease reporting this intelligence: the article below reports that it was July, last year. What date? 17th. (Courtesy BBC Newsnight). 17th July 2003 is the day that Dr Kelly disappeared. Kelly had twice been subject to severe grillings by British MoD/intelligence during the previous 10 days. Isn't it a striking possibility that MI6 discovered their sources were unreliable from Kelly during those grillings? If Kelly knew how unreliable the dossier sources were, this would have made him a severe liability. MI6 kept the information under wraps as long as they could . . . but with his high regard for truth and accuracy, had Kelly lived, he might not have done the same."

Did MI6 murder Kelly because it was afraid he would go back to the BBC with information that it was incompetent?  Imagine what Kelly and Gilligan could have cooked up if Kelly had information that the intelligence sources M16 had relied on were obvious liars, at least obvious to a real expert on the subject like Kelly.  More than just point out that the intelligence was faulty, Kelly may have been able to point out that the intelligence was so obviously faulty that its use had to be part of a conspiracy to drag Britain into an unnecessary war.  Britain would have gone to war in part on the basis of intelligence work that was either clearly incompetent or intentionally misleading, and the problem could be traced back to specific people.  Has the intelligence community kept quiet about the withdrawal of the intelligence because the timing of Kelly's death is very suspicious?  Can we now identify the 'many dark actors playing games' that David Kelly referred to in his email to Judith Miller?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Great days for Zionism

Just in the past couple of weeks, Ariel Sharon and the Israelis have managed to permanently alienate the countries of Turkey, New Zealand and France; the International Court of Justice has definitively ruled against the wall; and the first major American church has started the process of divestment, a process which had a profound effect on the ending of apartheid. These are great days for Zionism.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Aznar's amazing admission

Former Prime Minister of Spain José Maria Aznar has now admitted (or here) that his government had a solid lead that Islamic radicals were to blame for the Madrid train bombings, even as his Interior Minister officially continued to blame Basque terrorists on the eve of the Spanish election.  Why would he make this gratuitous and embarrassing admission now?  In the JFK assassination, it appears likely that the original plan of the conspirators was to blame Castro and possibly the Soviets for the assassination, thus setting up the basis for an American invasion of Cuba (not much has changed in the past forty years!).  When Oswald inconveniently failed to be killed in the Texas School Book Depository or the theater in which he was arrested, the Cuban theory was abandoned as being too risky, and was replaced by the famous 'lone nut' theory which is still so beloved by stupid people today.  The threat that digging too deeply into the assassination might have led to World War Three with the Soviet Union may have been used to force those who really wanted to find out what happened to go along with the cover-up which protected the guilty.  On this whole subject you could start by reading 'Deep Politics and the Death of JFK' by Peter Dale Scott, a book everyone should read anyway, and Scott's analysis here.  Scott calls the Cuban-Soviet theory the Phase One theory, and the 'lone nut' theory the Phase Two theory.  The Spanish equivalent of the Phase One theory is that Basque separatists committed the Madrid bombings, with the fall-back Phase Two theory being that the bombings were the work of Islamic fundamentalists.  The Phase Two theory was created by hiring Muslims to be involved in the plot, or at least close enough to the plot that they could be used as patsies if the need arose.  The main plan was to use the Phase One theory to get Aznar's party back in government and then use the Madrid bombings as an excuse for a massive crackdown on the Basques.  If that theory failed, the Phase Two Islamic fundamentalist theory was to be used to protect the real conspirators, who were those from the extreme right attempting to use a 'strategy of terror' to control Spanish politics.  What has happened is that the whole conspiracy has turned into a disaster.  The lies of the Phase One theory were discovered before the election, and the anger at the deception led to the defeat of Aznar's party.  Now it seems that with each new investigation by Spanish authorities, the alleged terrorists turn out to have had close ties to Spanish police and security forces.  The Phase Two theory, that the Madrid bombings were an Islamic terrorist attack, is starting to fall apart as it becomes clearer that the attack was actually an attack by the extreme right, using Spanish police directing Muslim patsies, against Spain itself.  Aznar's 'admission' is an attempt to deflect attention from this fact and back on the Muslim patsies who were supposed to bear the blame if the Phase One Basque theory fell apart.  Aznar also claims he has some documents which he removed from the Spanish government, documents which will no doubt turn out to implicate Islamic fundamentalists.  The Spanish would be wise to ignore this deception, find out who actually was behind the attacks, and punish them.  American failure to do this after the assassination of JFK has led directly to the terrible state the United States is in today.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

The crimes of Bobby Fischer

Chess genius Bobby Fischer has been arrested in Japan, and is apparently going to be extradited to the U. S. - now get this! - on charges of violating United Nations sanctions because, in 1992, he participated in a chess match in Yugoslavia at a time that country was under U. N. sanctions.  Do you think the Americans are going to start enforcing violations of U. N. resolutions (if so, Israel should be very worried)?  Do you think John Ashcroft cares about a breach of U. N. sanctions twelve years ago?  Do you think the war on terrorism is going to catch up with the fearsome chess terrorists?  Are Americans finally going to be freed from the horrors of castling and mating?  Or does all this have something to do with what Bobby Fischer said immediately after September 11?:

"This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the US once and for all.  I was happy and could not believe what was happening. All the crimes the US has committed in the world. This just shows, what goes around comes around, even to the US.  I applaud the act. The US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Now it is coming back at the US."

He also blamed Israel and the 'Jews' for 'bringing' the attack on the World Trade Center.  It appears that the neocons are anticipating that even the crooked Diebold voting machines might not be sufficient to steal another election.  They have a little 'enemies list', and are going to spend the next six months cleaning up loose ends.  You can see part of this in the viciousness of the current attacks against Joseph Wilson, whose grievous error was to point out that the Bush Administration was lying.  Fischer is apparently next on the list.  Note this article in the Atlantic, which is essentially a hack job inspired by the fact that Fischer committed the unpardonable sin of connecting American-Israeli violence against the Palestinians to the terrorist attacks of September 11.  Note also that Fischer was set up by the Americans for the arrest.  The excuse for his arrest by Japanese authorities was that he was trying to leave the country without a valid passport.  You won't read it in the New York Times, but the reason he didn't have such a passport was that the American government had revoked it.  He found out about this when he arrived at the airport.  How would the Japanese know about this?  Obviously, he was set up to be arrested.  It is probable that the Japanese agreed to give up Fischer in return for some kind of favorable treatment to be given to American army deserter Charles Jenkins, who is married to a Japanese woman.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), an ethical church

I recently wondered why moderate American churches weren't taking the obvious steps of acting ethically in opposing the actions of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people. The fruitcake Christian Zionists completely dominate the debate, and through their peculiar hold on George Bush, bear much of the moral responsibility for the insane American policy towards the Middle East. I know that most American religious people aren't fruitcakes, so why aren't their voices being heard? Maybe the tide is starting to turn. Delegates to the recent General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a church with nearly three million members, voted 431 to 62 to begin to join the divestment campaign against Israel, and voted 471 to 34 to call on Israel to end construction of the walls it is building to encage the Palestinians. The Rev. Victor Makari, the Church's liaison to the Middle East, said (or here):

"I think the issue of divestment is a very sensitive one with Israel. . . . If nothing else seems to have changed the policy of Israel toward Palestinians, we need to send a clear and strong message."

The divestment action also called on the U. S. to be an "honest, even-handed broker for peace" (ouch!). Sister Patricia Wolfe, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of 275 Christian denominations, said that the Church's decision raises the issue of divestment, allowing it to be discussed in the ICCR. Are the Presbyterians going to lead the way to the beginnings of a truly ethical approach against human rights abuses in the Middle East? Other moderate American church leaders might want to consider that it will look rather embarrassing if they are late to join the parade to justice. The Presbyterians will always have the honor of being first; no one should want the dishonor of being last.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Steve Bell, cartoonist

Can you imagine what would happen if an American cartoonist tried to draw the American equivalent of this cartoon by brilliant Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell? No mainstream American cartoonist would even attempt it. It is a more accurate depiction of the parallel American and British realities of misuse of intelligence on Iraq than either of the parallel American and British whitewash reports will ever reveal. The reports, coming out at the same time and with almost identical bullshit, might as well have been excreted from the same anus.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Tel Aviv bus bomb

The recent Tel Aviv bombing is unlikely to have been a Palestinian act:

  1. Initial Israeli radio reports stated that Israeli police sources believed the incident was not a Palestinian attack.

  2. The attack was not a suicide bombing, but was a bomb left near a bus station. Israeli police probably believed it was not a terrorist attack in part because it was not a suicide bombing. There have been bomb attacks in Israel that have not been suicide bombings, but there is no proof that any of them were Palestinian attacks. There has recently been a bomb attack in Tel Aviv that was connected with organized crime, and had nothing to do with the Palestinians.

  3. The sole reason the attack is ascribed to the Palestinians is that a Palestinian group took credit for it by telephoning Reuters in the West Bank. You or I could have made that phone call. Even the Israeli press scoffs at the identity of those who initially took credit.

  4. A spokesman for the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades later told the Associated Press that the attack proved that the wall had no effect in preventing terrorist attacks. As the wall is not finished, this is a nonsensical argument. In fact, the Israelis could turn this argument around and claim that the attack would not have occurred had the wall been finished. It is unlikely that a legitimate Palestinian caller would make an argument that would allow for such an obvious Israeli rebuttal. Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim said it was likely the bombers entered Israel from the West Bank in places where the wall has yet to be completed.

  5. Yasser Arafat expressly denied that the Palestinians were involved, and hinted that the Israelis were behind it.

  6. A Palestinian attack makes not the tiniest amount of sense. The Palestinians have not had a successful terrorist attack in months. It has been so quiet that the Israelis have been crowing that their new security methods have defeated the intifada. The Palestinians had just had one of their greatest public relations victories when the International Court of Justice quite properly ruled that the wall was illegal. Why would the Palestinians even consider an attack with that timing? All it did was make the Israeli argument that the wall is required for Israel's security.

  7. In fact, Sharon immediately took the opportunity to make the point that the bombing proved the need for the wall. The attack allowed the Israeli propagandists to once again draw attention away from the Israeli crimes against humanity and focus the world's attention entirely on the issue of Israeli security.

There is no proof that the Palestinians were involved, it does not match their methods of attack, they expressly deny it, the timing is ridiculous from a Palestinian point of view, and it was perfect propaganda for Sharon at a time he needed to distract the world from the negative court ruling. Who do you think did it?

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Jimmy Carter's sordid history

In case you think that Jimmy Carter is a good guy (he builds houses for the homeless with his bare hands!), this article by James Petras considers the whole sordid history of Carter's meddling in the elections of other countries, always supporting the American-backed side, which, not surprisingly, is always the side trying to subvert the interests of the vast majority of the population. Petras also has a few choice words for Human Rights Watch, a sometimes useful group but one with an agenda remarkably similar to Jimmy's.

The impenetrable wall

As I predicted, the impenetrable wall of Republicans who protect the Bush White House is continuing to put in long hours:

  • the impenetrable wall of the Republican-controlled Supreme Court ensures that Cheney's energy meetings will remain a deep, dark secret until well after the election;

  • the impenetrable wall of the Republican-controlled House ensures that Bush's Patriot Act continues in full fascist force;

  • the impenetrable wall of the Republican-controlled Senate Committee ensures that the CIA takes the full blame for all the Cheney/Feith/Office of Special Plans massaging of data to create the lyin' case for the attack on Iraq;

  • the impenetrable wall of the Republican-controlled disgusting American media ensures that the CIA story is covered to minimize any reference to Bush White House meddling in creating the phony intelligence, partly by impugning the integrity of whistle-blower Joseph Wilson;

  • the impenetrable wall of a judge in Washington throws out Sibel Edmonds' lawsuit before he even bothers to hear any evidence, all on the basis of protecting government secrets whose exposure could damage 'national security', and, in a neat trick, helpfully goes on to explain that he couldn't give further reasons as to do so would also expose such secrets (which is kind of ironic as the thrust of Edmonds' case is that the FBI translation system was threatening national security, and Ashcroft's moves to cover this up means that the same problem still continues; by the way, it being a small world, Edmonds' attorney, Mark S. Zaid, is also Mai Pederson's - remember her? - attorney);

  • the impenetrable wall of Ken 'Kenny Boy' Lay agrees to do the perp walk to take some heat off his pal Bush, complete with handcuffs (but where is the nice orange jumpsuit?), then waits around until the election when his case will doubtless disappear for 'lack of evidence'.

There is lots of talk about Cheney being in some kind of imminent serious legal trouble, or even that he is going to be off the ticket. Don't hold your breath. The impenetrable wall is tough and strong.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Robert Reich on religious evil

The last paragraph of an article called "Bush's God" by Robert Reich from The American Prospect (but not available online without a subscription; I found the paragraph in two articles critical of Reich):

"The great conflict of the 21st century will not be between the West and terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, not a belief. The true battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face."

Absolutely. Concerns about terrorism just play into the hands of those who want to drag us kicking and screaming into the twelfth century. Those of us who aren't religiously insane - and we constitute the vast majority of people on this planet and all of the intelligent ones - have to come to grips with the fact that there is a real battle looming with a real enemy, and we have to win. Our real enemies think that their god doesn't want women to drive cars, or she has given them exclusive rights to lands on which other people live and have lived for millennia, or the theory of evolution is some sort of commie plot, or men have property rights in women, or they have some god-given right to tell everybody else how to live their lives based on their interpretation of a translation of their particular set of ancient documents (there are actually some who claim that it is only the English translation of the Bible which is theologically valid!). These people are fruitcakes. They wear marzipan hats and shit pecans. While we fuss about Islamic fundamentalists - who are bad enough and have to be stopped - we forget that by far the greatest evils in the world are being perpetrated by Christian and Jewish fundamentalists. In the battles to come, we have to realize who the real enemy is, and we have to start fighting as ruthlessly as they do. Their continuing victories against decency, reason and justice have to stop!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Zunes on Zionisms

Here is a good article by Stephen Zunes on the stranglehold the Christian Zionists have over the White House, and the pernicious effect this has had on American policy towards the Middle East. Zunes writes:

". . . it is important to recognize that the rise of the religious right as a political force in the United States is a relatively recent phenomenon that emerged as part of a calculated strategy by leading right-wingers in the Republican Party who - while not fundamentalist Christians themselves - recognized the need to enlist the support of this key segment of the US population in order to achieve political power."

This has been a spectacular success for both the Republicans, whose policies should make them a very marginal political party, and the Likudniks, who literally can't believe how compliant the American government is to their wildest outrages. How can this problem for the United States and the world be fixed? Zunes concludes:

"Those who support justice for the Palestinians - or even simply the enforcement of basic international humanitarian law - must go beyond raising awareness of the issue to directly confronting those whose acquiescence facilitates current repressive attitudes. It will not be possible to counter the influence of the Christian Right in shaping US policies in the Middle East as long as otherwise socially conscious Christian legislators and other progressive-minded elected officials are beholden to fundamentalist voting pressures. It is unlikely that these Democrats and moderate Republicans will change, however, until liberal-to-mainline churches mobilize their resources toward demanding justice as strongly as right-wing fundamentalists have mobilized their resources in support of repression."

Are the moderate Christian churches of the United States - the churches whose fundraising isn't a sleazy business based on apocalyptic visions of the rapture, and the churches which comprise the vast majority of American religious believers - willing to take the righteous steps required to counter the millenarian evil of the Christian Zionists which is causing so much destruction in the world? Who is speaking moderation from the pulpit? The Catholic Church, which is in dire need to find something useful to do to counter its other problems, should be all over this, as there is no question that the Pope himself deplores American policy in the Middle East. And where are the moderate Protestant churches? Is it the right thing for religious people to sit idly by while other religious nuts cause immense harm and suffering in the name of God?

Rummy's half hour

I still can't get over the fact that Donald Rumsfeld disappeared for half an hour on September 11 when he knew that both WTC towers had been hit and that the Pentagon had been hit, all by a terrorist or military attack on the United States. At the time he disappeared, he had to have known that there was at least one other hijacked plane in the air. Everybody else was frantic, and he just calmly made himself unavailable to those who might be seeking orders on how they might deal with the situation. As usual, the best part is that he has completely gotten away with this, with not the slightest question made about his gross dereliction of duty.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Bush and Rumsfeld, off duty

It's a funny coincidence that at America's greatest moment of need, in the middle of the attacks on September 11, both the President of the United States and his Secretary of Defense managed to make themselves unavailable to make decisions. Bush sat reading books to a school of children in Florida. A few minutes later, after the attack on the Pentagon, Rumsfeld busied himself applying first aid to the injured. From an ABC News transcript of a broadcast aired on the first anniversary of 9-11, describing the events of that day (my emphasis):


(VO) Among those helping the wounded and injured is the 69-year-old Rumsfeld himself.


There was a, a young woman bleeding, sitting on the ground, and I think she said to me, she didn't know who I was, she said, she could see people holding, drips going into people, IV of some kind, and she said, something to the effect, if people would, if someone could bring that person over, I could hold it.


(VO) The Secretary of Defense is outside the burning building, while inside the Pentagon, . . .


For 30 minutes we couldn't find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the National Military Command Center."

This shows either an unbelievable lack of judgment on Rumsfeld's part, or something much darker. Can you believe that the Secretary of Defense would disappear for half an hour, supposedly to render help with first aid (!?), while the country was obviously under attack? That particular half hour was crucial, with one hijacked plane still in the air. From an interview with Larry King (my emphasis):

"Rumsfeld: I had said at an 8:00 o'clock breakfast that sometime in the next two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve months there would be an event that would occur in the world that would be sufficiently shocking that it would remind people again how important it is to have a strong healthy defense department that contributes to - That underpins peace and stability in our world. And that is what underpins peace and stability.

In fact we can't have healthy economies and active lives unless we live in a peaceful, stable world, and I said that to these people. And someone walked in and handed a note that said that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. And we adjourned the meeting, and I went in to get my CIA briefing -

King: Right next door is your office.

Rumsfeld: - right next door here, and the whole building shook within 15 minutes.

King: It was a jarring thing. And you ran toward the smoke?

Rumsfeld: Uh huh.

King: Because?

Rumsfeld: Goodness. Who knows? I wanted to see what had happened. I wanted to see if people needed help. I went downstairs and helped for a bit with some people on stretchers. Then I came back up here and started - I realized I had to get back up here and get at it."

Rumsfeld's presence was particularly important given the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction CJCSI 3610.01A dated June 1, 2001, which required Secretary of Defense approval of Department of Defense assistance to the FAA in cases of aircraft hijacking (although I note that such approval was not necessary if an immediate response was required as defined in paragraph 4.7.1 of Department of Defense directive 3025.15, and CJCSI 3610.10A modifies CJCSI 3610.10 to make this clear, meaning that CJCSI 3610.10A isn't the 'smoking gun' that some people think it is to prove Bush Administration complicity in 9-11). Rumsfeld should have been available to make decisions, and he is not so stupid as to be unaware of that fact. His absence had to have been intentional. Bush's case is now even more famous because of Michael Moore's film. The Secret Service, as a matter of automatic contingency planning, should have immediately whisked Bush away from the school, as his continued presence there when the country was obviously under attack, a presence that was a matter of public knowledge, put him and the country at risk. The Secret Service quickly moved senior members of Congress to safety, and manhandled Cheney off to some secret lair (I wonder if he told them to go fuck themselves as they frog-marched him to safety?). Wolfowitz was helicoptered out of the Pentagon so he wouldn't be in the same place as Rumsfeld. They left Bush a sitting duck. Is it possible that Bush's continued reading to the children was part of the plot? After all, he did so in full view of the cameras, and we can all see the evidence. While he was there, he did not have to make any decisions that might have adversely affected the ongoing terrorist attacks. His filmed reading to the little kiddies is the perfect alibi.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Reagan's legacy

From an article by Mark Ames in The Exile:

"When Ronald Reagan took power in 1981, Americans lived completely different lives. Health care insurance was a given for nearly all working Americans. Downsizing - the concept of mass layoffs in order to boost a CEO's bonus - hadn't entered the vocabulary. Neither had outsourcing. Working parents came home from work before sundown and ate dinners with their families. Unions were strong, and the industrialists felt a social responsibility to ensuring their workers' well-being. This was all reflected in the income differential: in 1979, the average CEO earned 30 times his average employees' wage. For some reason no one wants to remember this part of the past - because it's too depressing, and speaks too obviously to the real decline in America.

Reagan came to office and told the plutocrats to take everything that they wanted. I mean everything. Today, CEOs make 571 times their average employees' wage. Today's male white collar workers in America only earn, in real dollars, six cents per hour more today than they earned in 1973. Health care is increasingly hard to come by, no job is ever safe, Americans work far longer hours and suffer from stress-related illnesses once unheard of. As an Economic Policy Institute report noted, 'What income growth there was over the 1979-1989 period was driven primarily by more work at lower wages.' What happened to Russia in the 90s was really started by Reagan's attack on Americans in the 80s. When Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers in 1981, he told America he was literally willing to kill us all if we didn't give in to his plan to transfer the wealth out of the pockets of the middle- and lower-middle classes and into the plutocrats' offshore accounts. It was so shocking that it worked. The air controller's union broke - and so did a whole way of life. Thanks to Ronald Reagan, we are all miserable wage slaves . . . or exiles."

This wasn't an accident. It was - dare I say it - a conspiracy. Reagan was put in power with the express purpose of destroying the middle class and ending any hope that the sons and daughters of the poor might rise to the middle class through education and hard work. The destruction of the middle class is his real and lasting legacy. Reagan's murder of the middle class and its institutions, a process which has led directly to Bush's neoconservatives, has just now been noticed by progressive commentators (see here and here and here or here and - my favorite, from Canadian painter Robert Bateman - here), some of whom have suggestions for how to resuscitate it. In reflecting on the nearly disastrous Canadian election, I noted how easy it is for conservatives to destroy the results of the hard work and sacrifices (up to and including their lives) of generations of progressives (if you look at the list, you can see that all good is done by progressives, and conservatives spend all their time trying to destroy the good). The effort of decades or even centuries can be destroyed, probably permanently, by the work of a tiny group of conservatives in power for only a few years. The key point of the conspiracy, and the permanent legacy of Reagan, was drastically to reduce the cost of labor. The middle class was an obstacle to this, as by definition the middle class consisted of workers who had enough economic security to have some control over the sale of their labor, and the ability to educate their offspring to rise above their own economic status. The point of post-Reagan conservatism is to create such fear and uncertainty in people that they can have no ability to prevent the ongoing erosion of their earning ability. The main goal of today's conservatives is cheap labor, and it is accurate to describe them as 'cheap-labor conservatives'. Not forgetting all the other awful things that Reagan did, what he should always be remembered for is his start of the process, a process which continues with a vengeance by Bush, of destroying middle class America in order to create a permanent underclass whose sole purpose is the enrichment of the plutocrats. Unfortunately, it will be decades, if not longer, before this terrible wrong is righted. The destructive capability of today's cheap-labor conservatives is so great that even voting for them once, in order to chastise another political group, is madness.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Murray Dobbin on the Canadian election

From a good article (or here) on the recent Canadian election scare, "Near-death experience: The aftermath of the federal election", by Murray Dobbin:

"Anticipating the possibility of an (Alliance) Conservative government - even a minority - was like a near-death experience. You could see your life - medicare, the CBC, reproductive rights, the National Film Board, the Charter of Rights, Kyoto, public ownership - pass before your eyes. That Canada escaped this unimaginable horror - and at the same time are not saddled with a majority Liberal government headed by a smug Paul Martin and his thuggish advisors - is pretty amazing. The roller coaster has landed and it could have been a lot rougher."

It takes decades and decades of nearly impossible hard work to create social structures, and one election where the electorate isn't paying attention or is fooled can destroy it all. It is very disheartening to know just how close Canada came to becoming the dog-eat-dog sauve-qui-peut world of the United States (not that it isn't close enough already). On the other hand, the good news is that the present incarnation of the Conservatives will probably never have another chance as good as this last election, and didn't gain even a third of the seats in the House of Commons. A big winner in the election is the Green Party, which, while not gaining any seats, gained enough of the popular vote to be eligible for federal funding in the next election under the new Canadian political finance laws. Unfortunately, as Dobbin has pointed out (or here), the Green Party can in no way be described as progressive, having been taken over by a group of right-wingers (the Green Party response to Dobbin's attack is here). There is an unfortunate tendency, coming from Europe, for environmentalism to be used as a front for right-wing views (the extreme of this is ecofascism, where neo-Nazis hide in green camouflage). We often now see 'green' arguments made in the terms of the big-business economic nonsense that should have already been completely discredited, and has led directly to the current situation. The free market will save the environment (yeah, right!). These new 'greens' want to put out the fire using more gasoline. Canada already has a green party, which is the traditional socialist NDP, and the Green Party as it is now constituted is a front for another agenda entirely. It is a wonder that the electorate isn't fooled more often with all the trickery involved.

Marlon Brando, Progressive

All the big obituaries of Marlon Brando conspicuously failed to mention that he was one of the most consistent progressive voices in American popular culture over the last five decades. Indeed, the mocking attitude of the press towards him seems to have been provoked by his unacceptable political views. Here he is in the infamous Larry King interview from 1996:

Brando: "Hollywood is run by Jews; it is owned by Jews, and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of - of people who are suffering. Because they've exploited - we have seen the - we have seen the Nigger and Greaseball, we've seen the Chink, we've seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap, we have seen the wily Filipino, we've seen everything but we never saw the Kike. Because they knew perfectly well, that that is where you draw the wagons around."

King: "When you say - when you say something like that you are playing right in, though, to anti-Semitic people who say the Jews are -"

Brando: "No, no, because I will be the first one who will appraise the Jews honestly and say 'Thank God for the Jews.'"

While he could have expressed himself better (and later had to apologize), it is absolutely true that Hollywood has played a major role in demonizing certain groups, most recently the Arabs, and that this demonization has created an attitude in American culture which has made possible a completely unprovoked attack such as we have recently seen in Iraq, not to mention the extreme inhumanity that Americans have shown themselves capable of in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Is this demonization part of a conspiracy? It has certainly has had political consequences which have benefited certain groups at the expense of others. The idea that Hollywood is some kind of bastion of liberalism is clearly untrue. Brando became so disgusted with it that he essentially stopped acting, and just appeared from time to time to exploit his own reputation when he needed the money. Throughout his life he never waivered from his commitment to progressive ideas, even when they may very well have hurt his reputation and his career.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Michael Moore and the blame for 9-11

Bob Dreyfuss wonders how Michael Moore could get the entire blame for 9-11 so back-asswards, throwing it all on the obviously innocent Saudis and ignoring completely the Israelis. Michael Moore is a big-time Hollywood film director. You need money - lots of it - to make big-time Hollywood films. The people who produce, finance, and distribute big-time Hollywood films, and in particular this one, and any other that Moore would like to make, are not going to finance a film that lays any blame for anything on Israel. It's a, um, tribal thing. Moore knows that his American audience has a psychological need for a foreign villain to help deal with the guilt that America itself was primarily responsible for 9-11, and the connections of the Bush Crime Family to the Saudi elites allows him to have his villain and attack Bush at the same time. This would be completely harmless American jingoism except that I guarantee that if Bush gets reelected the neocons will be citing Moore's film and claiming that even the most liberal of all liberals supports their ultimate fantasy, the bombing of Mecca.

FEMA in the Big Apple

Much was made about an interview by Dan Rather of a man named Tom Kennedy (actually Tom Kenney). He worked on the 9-11 rescue operation, and said FEMA had arrived in New York City late Monday night, the eve of the 9-11 attacks. If FEMA was on the scene the day before the disaster, we have the makings of a conspiracy theory. Of course, the matter was quickly explained as a mistake of dates, and almost everyone went back to sleep. Ethel the Blog, based on the stellar work of Gregor Holland, summarizes the current state of our understanding, including the testimony of Rudy Giuliani to the 9-11 commission (isn't it odd that the only untranscribed testimony is from the man widely regarded as the hero of 9-11?), and shows that FEMA definitely did have an exercise planned for New York City on the morning of September 11. The fact that FEMA explained away Kenney's error without even bothering to mention the fact that they had an exercise planned for that morning, and therefore Kenney may very well have been on the scene getting ready for the exercise and wasn't mistaken, is deeply troubling, as it evidences knowledge of guilt. In fact, it is even possible that Kenney was mistaken (although we've seen absolutely no evidence that he was, and his story is consistent with Giuliani's testimony), but Giuliani's testimony combined with FEMA's failing to explain what was really going on is proof that FEMA felt that the truth would be damning. It is even more damning when we consider that the exercise, named TRIPOD, was supported by the Office of Justice Programs, through the Office for Domestic Preparedness, with the Office for Domestic Preparedness personally headed by Dick Fuck Yourself Cheney. The number of unexplained and officially unacknowledged 'training exercises' in and around all aspects of 9-11 are starting to pile up. If you anticipated that two huge buildings in New York City were to be knocked down on September 11, it would be prudent to have a presence in New York City on September 10. The best way to cover up such an unexplained presence is by calling it a training exercise. It is quite likely that the NORAD standdown was accomplished in the same way, with both the air traffic controllers and the local NORAD commanders under the assumption that anomalies in flight routes and behavior of the 9-11 attack planes were part of a training exercise, and thus were ignored until it was too late.