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'And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet' Matthew 24:6
Pro-war (go on, have a laugh as they go into apopleptic spin trying to justify armed-to-the-teeth bullies kicking innocent heads in) http://aboutthewar.com/
How unreal... the 'experts' trying to justify war on our TV screens again. But are we being served up reasons, or excuses? The mainstream media's double standards stink to heaven. Has nobody told them that the US and other Western governments started this 'war'? And how, if our governments address the Western sponsored injustices in Palestine, Iraq and other non-compliant countries, the terrorist threat will evaporate. Or could it be they like it this way?
We are told that ordinary people support a military attack on Afghanistan. Yet at vigils we've been holding here in Bristol hundreds of cars, buses and vans that pass us have been 'honking for peace'.
There's the hardly unrelated matter of US oil giant Unocal's long-standing desire for a 1500km natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan. The new president of Afghanistan is a Unocal consultant. Bin Laden, it seems, has been holding up their plans.
There are cold economic and geostrategic imperatives for further US led interventionism on the Eurasian continent, or 'war'. See 'The Grand Chessboard' by Z Brzezinski. So any or all of the western intelligence agencies may be responsible for backing the WTC attack as part of their covert operations. The inaction of intelligence agencies, the CIA, Mossad and MI6 etc. must also be the subject of investigation.
By John R Bradley in Jeddah (Filed: 07/03/2003)
Thousands of American soldiers are pouring into Saudi Arabia in preparation for an invasion of Iraq, independent sources say.
The Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia, a London-based group opposed to the Saudi regime, said that between 2,000 and 5,000 United States troops landed in the northern garrison town of Tabuk in the last week.
Other credible independent reports said that American forces had taken control of Arar airport, less than 10 miles from the Saudi-Iraq border and that it had been closed to civilian air traffic.
The Saudi government, which is facing stiff opposition to the war at home, has not commented on the developments.
Last week The Telegraph reported that the White House and Riyadh had secretly agreed that American air operations against Iraq could be launched from Saudi soil, in return for a promise that all American forces would be withdrawn from the country after the war.
Some 5,000 United States troops are already stationed in Saudi Arabia, mostly at the Prince Sultan Air Base in Al-Kharj, 50 miles south of Riyadh, to enforce the "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq.
In Jeddah last week, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, denied that Riyadh would allow American forces to launch or direct attacks against Iraq from its soil.
In the 1991 Gulf war 500,000 American troops were based in Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait and invade Iraq.
The official Saudi line remains that, without a second United Nations resolution, Saudi Arabia will not support another war.
But diplomats said that, despite its grave misgivings, the kingdom has decided that if the United States is determined to take military action it will stand by its ally in the name of friendship and self interest.
They added that the Saudi government believes a war will be shorter and more successful if the Americans can operate from Saudi facilities.
Saudi public opinion, inflamed by Israel's suppression of the Palestinian uprising, is totally against a US-led war against Iraq.
The ruling family is hoping that, as with the Afghanistan bombing campaign, any Iraqi war will be over before the anger among its people reaches boiling point.
But in an open show of support for America, Saudi Arabia has stockpiled 15 million barrels of oil and given a commitment to help meet Jordan's energy needs - for free - if necessary in the event of war.
Oil prices are at their highest for years, with traders fearing war in Iraq may disrupt exports from other Middle East producers, which account for 40 per cent of world production.
Saudi Arabia has more than a third of the world's known oil reserves and has already increased production to nine million barrels a day to ease concerns about a possible shortfall.
It is prepared to go to its full capacity of 10.5 million barrels a day, Arab officials said.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates had agreed to provide Jordan with 120,000 barrels of oil a day indefinitely, after pressure from the Bush administration to help Amman.
The official said Saudi Arabia would provide 50,000 barrels daily, Kuwait 50,000 and the UAE 20,000. He placed the net value at $1.3 billion and said delivery was expected to begin soon.
Martin Bright, Ed Vulliamy in New York and Peter Beaumont
Sunday March 2, 2003
The United States is conducting a secret 'dirty tricks' campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq.
Details of the aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, are revealed in a document leaked to The Observer.
The disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency - the US body which intercepts communications around the world - and circulated to both senior agents in his organisation and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input.
The memo describes orders to staff at the agency, whose work is clouded in secrecy, to step up its surveillance operations 'particularly directed at... UN Security Council Members (minus US and GBR, of course)' to provide up-to-the-minute intelligence for Bush officials on the voting intentions of UN members regarding the issue of Iraq.
The leaked memorandum makes clear that the target of the heightened surveillance efforts are the delegations from Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Mexico, Guinea and Pakistan at the UN headquarters in New York - the so-called 'Middle Six' delegations whose votes are being fought over by the pro-war party, led by the US and Britain, and the party arguing for more time for UN inspections, led by France, China and Russia.
The memo is directed at senior NSA officials and advises them that the agency is 'mounting a surge' aimed at gleaning information not only on how delegations on the Security Council will vote on any second resolution on Iraq, but also 'policies', 'negotiating positions', 'alliances' and 'dependencies' - the 'whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises'.
Dated 31 January 2003, the memo was circulated four days after the UN's chief weapons inspector Hans Blix produced his interim report on Iraqi compliance with UN resolution 1441.
It was sent by Frank Koza, chief of staff in the 'Regional Targets' section of the NSA, which spies on countries that are viewed as strategically important for United States interests.
Koza specifies that the information will be used for the US's 'QRC' - Quick Response Capability - 'against' the key delegations.
Suggesting the levels of surveillance of both the office and home phones of UN delegation members, Koza also asks regional managers to make sure that their staff also 'pay attention to existing non-UN Security Council Member UN-related and domestic comms [office and home telephones] for anything useful related to Security Council deliberations'.
Koza also addresses himself to the foreign agency, saying: 'We'd appreciate your support in getting the word to your analysts who might have similar more indirect access to valuable information from accesses in your product lines [ie, intelligence sources].' Koza makes clear it is an informal request at this juncture, but adds: 'I suspect that you'll be hearing more along these lines in formal channels.'
Disclosure of the US operation comes in the week that Blix will make what many expect to be his final report to the Security Council.
It also comes amid increasingly threatening noises from the US towards undecided countries on the Security Council who have been warned of the unpleasant economic consequences of standing up to the US.
Sources in Washington familiar with the operation said last week that there had been a division among Bush administration officials over whether to pursue such a high-intensity surveillance campaign with some warning of the serious consequences of discovery.
The existence of the surveillance operation, understood to have been requested by President Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is deeply embarrassing to the Americans in the middle of their efforts to win over the undecided delegations.
The language and content of the memo were judged to be authentic by three former intelligence operatives shown it by The Observer. We were also able to establish that Frank Koza does work for the NSA and could confirm his senior post in the Regional Targets section of the organisation.
The NSA main switchboard put The Observer through to extension 6727 at the agency which was answered by an assistant, who confirmed it was Koza's office. However, when The Observer asked to talk to Koza about the surveillance of diplomatic missions at the United Nations, it was then told 'You have reached the wrong number'.
On protesting that the assistant had just said this was Koza's extension, the assistant repeated that it was an erroneous extension, and hung up.
While many diplomats at the UN assume they are being bugged, the memo reveals for the first time the scope and scale of US communications intercepts targeted against the New York-based missions.
The disclosure comes at a time when diplomats from the countries have been complaining about the outright 'hostility' of US tactics in recent days to persuade then to fall in line, including threats to economic and aid packages.
The operation appears to have been spotted by rival organisations in Europe. 'The Americans are being very purposeful about this,' said a source at a European intelligence agency when asked about the US surveillance efforts.
By Toby Harnden in Washington (Filed: 27/02/2003)
The White House and the House of Saud have struck a deal to allow allied air operations against Iraq to be launched from Saudi, in return for the phased withdrawal of all American troops once hostilities are over.
Under the agreement, finalised after intensive negotiations this month, the command centre at Prince Sultan Air Base will be made available and American Awacs surveillance aircraft and Jstars radar aircraft will fly from Saudi airfields. It is also likely that jet fighters will launch interception missions from Saudi Arabia against Iraqi aircraft, while some secret bombing missions might take place.
A Bush administration official told the Washington Post: "We've reached agreements that affect facilities inside Saudi Arabia and a broad array of military operations that could happen in the event of hostilities with Iraq." There are 5,000 American military personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia as part of the United Nations requirement to police the "no-fly zone" over southern Iraq.
The Saudi royal family has been under domestic pressure to bring this arrangement to an end. American officials have said this would be acceptable because the no-fly zones would no longer be in operation once Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Saudi Arabia was the base for 500,000 of the allied ground troops that ejected Iraqi forces from Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf war. This time, however, the ground invasion is expected to be launched from Kuwait and Turkey.
Details of the deal are unlikely to be announced before the eve of an invasion. Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, denied yesterday that any arrangements had been finalised.
A European diplomatic source, however, said that the principles behind the deal had been established several months ago. He said: "The Saudis didn't want to look too willing in a rush to war. They have a domestic problem - after all, this is where Osama bin Laden gets the funding for his campaign from. The minute it's over they'll want them out of there. If we do go to war and America runs Iraq for a while, the most interesting question is how quickly the Saudi air bases close down."
The Bush administration has been deeply divided over how to handle Saudi Arabia. Of the 19 September 11 suicide hijackers, 15 were Saudi citizens and there has been deep concern about Riyadh's reluctance to act against the financiers of al-Qa'eda.
The Bush administration has doubled its estimate of the cost of war to £60 billion for the combat phase and a reconstruction period of about six months.
Terry Jones Sunday February 17, 2002 The Observer
To prevent terrorism by dropping bombs on Iraq is such an obvious idea that I can't think why no one has thought of it before. It's so simple. If only the UK had done something similar in Northern Ireland, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today.
The moment the IRA blew up the Horseguards' bandstand, the Government should have declared its own War on Terrorism. It should have immediately demanded that the Irish government hand over Gerry Adams. If they refused to do so - or quibbled about needing proof of his guilt - we could have told them that this was no time for prevarication and that they must hand over not only Adams but all IRA terrorists in the Republic. If they tried to stall by claiming that it was hard to tell who were IRA terrorists and who weren't, because they don't go around wearing identity badges, we would have been free to send in the bombers.
It is well known that the best way of picking out terrorists is to fly 30,000ft above the capital city of any state that harbours them and drop bombs - preferably cluster bombs. It is conceivable that the bombing of Dublin might have provoked some sort of protest, even if just from James Joyce fans, and there is at least some likelihood of increased anti-British sentiment in what remained of the city and thus a rise in the numbers of potential terrorists. But this, in itself, would have justified the tactic of bombing them in the first place. We would have nipped them in the bud, so to speak. I hope you follow the argument.
Having bombed Dublin and, perhaps, a few IRA training bogs in Tipperary, we could not have afforded to be complacent. We would have had to turn our attention to those states which had supported and funded the IRA terrorists through all these years. The main provider of funds was, of course, the USA, and this would have posed us with a bit of a problem. Where to bomb in America? It's a big place and it's by no means certain that a small country like the UK could afford enough bombs to do the whole job. It's going to cost the US billions to bomb Iraq and a lot of that is empty countryside. America, on the other hand, provides a bewildering number of targets.
Should we have bombed Washington, where the policies were formed? Or should we have concentrated on places where Irishmen are known to lurk, like New York, Boston and Philadelphia? We could have bombed any police station and fire station in most major urban centres, secure in the knowledge that we would be taking out significant numbers of IRA sympathisers. On St Patrick's Day, we could have bombed Fifth Avenue and scored a bull's-eye.
In those American cities we couldn't afford to bomb, we could have rounded up American citizens with Irish names, put bags over their heads and flown them in chains to Guernsey or Rockall, where we could have given them food packets marked 'My Kind of Meal' and exposed them to the elements with a clear conscience.
The same goes for Australia. There are thousands of people in Sydney and Melbourne alone who have actively supported Irish republicanism by sending money and good wishes back to people in the Republic, many of whom are known to be IRA members and sympathisers. A well-placed bomb or two Down Under could have taken out the ringleaders and left the world a safer place. Of course, it goes without saying that we would also have had to bomb various parts of London such as Camden Town, Lewisham and bits of Hammersmith and we should certainly have had to obliterate, if not the whole of Liverpool, at least the Scotland Road area.
And that would be it really, as far as exterminating the IRA and its supporters. Easy. The War on Terrorism provides a solution so uncomplicated, so straightforward and so gloriously simple that it baffles me why it has taken a man with the brains of George W. Bush to think of it.
So, sock it to Iraq, George. Let's make the world a safer place.
Jeevan Vasagar - Tuesday January 14, 2003 - The Guardian
Britain's biggest Muslim organisation yesterday warned Tony Blair that war with Iraq would cause community relations to deteriorate and breed "bitterness and conflict for generations to come".
Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, urged the prime minister to use his influence to "avert the destruction of an important Muslim country" and warned of deep cynicism among British Muslims about the motives for the war on terror.
In a letter to No 10, Mr Sacranie described the plans for war as a "colonial policy".
"It is generally believed the real American objective behind such an invasion is to change the political map of the Middle East, appropriate its oil wealth and appoint Israel as a regional superpower exercising total hegemony over the entire Middle East and beyond," he wrote.
A war would worsen relations between communities and faiths in Britain as well as causing "lasting damage" to relations between the Muslim world and the west, Mr Sacranie added.
The opposition of the MCB, a moderate organisation linked to dozens of community groups, highlights the failure of the US and Britain to convince Muslims in the west of the validity of the war on terrorism.
Seven out of 10 British Muslims believe the war on terror is a war on Islam, according to an ICM poll published last month.
In the letter, Mr Sacranie expressed support for the anti-terrorist campaign, but wrote: "The war on terror should and can be won, but it has to be fought collectively not selectively, openly not secretively."
He told the Guardian that when he referred to fighting terrorism "collectively" he meant "in all areas, whether it is states - like Israel - or organisations."
Mr Sacranie said he did not believe there should be war even if Iraq was found to possess weapons of mass destruction.
"If WMD are being got rid of, all countries have to get rid of them, and war is not the way to go about this.
"If we are talking about the region, Israel has chemical, biological and nuclear weapons."
He also criticised the chief rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, who has expressed conditional support for military action against Saddam Hussein.
"We are very saddened by the remarks made by the chief rabbi," Mr Sacranie said.
The MCB's letter praised Mr Blair's attempt to revive the Middle East peace process, but added: "A war on Iraq would certainly unravel whatever little has been achieved so far.
"The humiliation ... that would attend a military conquest is likely to provide a natural ground for the growth of bitterness and conflict for generations to come."
Both President George Bush and Mr Blair have stated that the prospective campaign against Iraq is directed at Saddam Hussein's regime and is not a conflict with the wider Muslim world.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The prime minister has made clear that this is not about a war against Islam.
"The government has done lots of work with the Muslim community here and with the Arab world and will continue to do so."
1897: Long-established Union Pacific Railroad (UPR) bankrupted.
1898: Edward Henry Harriman & legal partner, Judge Robert Scott Lovett, buy UPR for $110 million, a deal brokered by New York-based Kuhn Loeb investment bank house, of which Felix Warburg was a partner. During this period, Samuel Prescott Bush was president of the Buckeye Steel Castings Co.
1914: With war looming, Percy A. Rockefeller took control of the arms manufacturer, Remington Arms & appoints Samuel F. Pryor as CEO.
1918: Robert Scott Lovett (above) now president of UPR. Samuel Prescott Bush (above) made director of the facilities division of the US War Industries Board under its chairman Bernard Baruch & his assistant, the banker Clarence Dillon.
Nov.1919: Founding members of W.A.Harriman & Co. bank: George Herbert Walker Snr (Pres./CEO); Averell Harriman (Chm); E.Rowland (Bunny) Harriman (both sons of E.H.Harriman (above); & Percy Rockefeller (above). Averell Harriman was to become US Ambassador to the USSR [43 - 46]; US Secretary of Commerce [46 - 48]; & Governor of NY State [55 - 59])
1920: Averell Harriman & George Herbert Walker Snr. of W.A.Harriman & Co. gain control of the German Hamburg-Amerika Line after negotiations with the latters chief executive, William Cuno, & Max Warburg of the shipping lines bankers, M.M. Warburg. The American holding now known as the American Ship & Commerce Corp. (ASCC). Samuel F. Pryor (above) of Remington Arms had been involved in the deal & now served on the board of ASCC. (Cuno was subsequently to become a heavy contributor to Nazi Party funds). It should be noted that Averell Harriman was chairman of UPR from 1920 -1946.
1922: Averell Harriman set up a branch of W. A. Harriman & Co. in Berlin under the presidency of his partner, George H. Walker Snr.
Oct. 1923: Fritz Thyssens contributions to the Nazi Party began with a donation of 100,000 marks (ref: his book I Paid Hitler 41).
Prior to 1924: As revealed in a US government memorandum dated Oct. 5 42 to the Executive Committee of the office of the Alien Property Custodian: W. Averell Harriman was in Europe sometime prior to 1924 & at that time became acquainted with Fritz Thyssen, the German industrialist, and they agreed to set up a bank for Thyssen in New York. It adds that the Thyssen agent H. J. Kouwenhoven..came to the United States..prior to 1924 for conferences with the Harriman company in this connection.
1924: W.A.Harriman & Co invested $400,000 in setting up Union Banking Corp. (UBC) in New York to act in partnership with the Thyssen-owned Bank voor Handel en Scheepvart (BHS) in Holland. The UBC was now in a position to transfer funds back & forth between the US and Thyssens companies in Germany - his Vereinigte Stahlwerke in particular.Prescott Sheldon Bush Snr. (son of Samuel Bush, & son-in-law of George H Walker Snr) joins the Harriman - controlled US Rubber Co.
1926: Prescott S. Bush Snr. made Vice-President of W. A. Harriman & Co.The Wall Street banker, Clarence Dillon (an old colleague of Prescott S. Bush Snr.s father, Sam Bush - see above), of Dillon Read, set up the German Steel Trust with Thyssen & partner, Friedrich Flick, whereby Dillon Read would handle the Trusts corporate banking in return for two Dillon Read representatives being on the board of the German Steel Trust, whose chief executive was Albert Voegler, another German industrialist who was to help Hitler into power. He (Voegler) also held directorships in the BHS bank, & the Hamburg-Amerika Line. The UBC was by now in partnership with Friedrich Flicks vast steel, coal & zinc conglomerate operating in Germany & Poland - the Silesian Holding Co. Walker, Bush, & Harriman now owned one third of Flicks conglomerate, calling their holding the Consolidated Silesian Steel Corp.
1928/1929: W.A.Harriman & Co. buy Dresser Industries (founded 1905 by Solomon R.Dresser), & Henry Neil Mallon is made Pres./Chm of Dresser. (Mallon had attended Yale University with E.Rowland (Bunny) Harriman & Prescott Bush Snr.)
1930: Prescott Bush snr. Director of Dresser Industries (until 52)
1930/31(?); As admitted by Fritz Thyssen during interrogation in Sept. 45, he arranged with Rudolph Hess for the transfer of about 250-300,000 marks via his (Thyssens) Dutch bank BHS to the Nazi Party - adding it was about the sum Id given before. In total, he had donated & loaned more than one million dollars to the Nazi Party.
Jan. 1 1931: W. A. Harriman & Co. merged with the British-American investment house, Brown Brothers, resulting in Prescott S. Bush Snr., Thatcher M. Brown & the two Harriman brothers being the senior partners of the new Brown Brothers Harriman firm. A board member of Brown Bros., Robert A. Lovett (son of Robert Scott Lovett [above] & Asst. Sec. for Air [in WW2]; Under Sec. of State [47 - 49]; Dep. Sec. of Defense [50 - 51]; Secretary of Defense [51 - 53]), an American whose father had served on the War Industries Board of WW 1 with Sam Bush [above]), became another partner in the newly- merged firm. Prescott S. Bush Snr. now ran the New York office of the the newly-merged firm, while Thatcher Brown ran the London end. Certain pertinent facts about Brown Bros. are worthy of note here: Montagu Collet Norman, governor of the Bank of England & well-known Nazi sympathiser, was not only an ex-Brown Bros. partner - his grandfather had also been boss of Brown Bros. during the American Civil War when they (Brown Bros.) were shipping 75% of slave cotton from the southern states of America to British mills.
1932: As reported by the US embassy in Berlin to Washington not long before Hitlers taking over of power, questions were being raised as to who were the financial backers behind the Nazi Party electioneering & their 300,000 - 400,000 SA & SS troops - adding that the American-owned Hamburg-Amerika Line was funding propaganda against the German governments attempts to disband these troops!
Jan. 1933: Hitler assumes power in Germany.
Mar. 7 1933: Prescott S. Bush Snr. notified Max Warburg (above) that he (Warburg) was to be the American Ship & Commerce Line official representative on the board of the Hamburg- Amerika Line. Warburg had been a long-time advisor to Hjalmar Schacht (German Economics Minister & a close friend of Montagu Norman), & was an executive in the Reichsbank. A further pertinent connection: Max Warburgs brothers ran the Kuhn Loeb investment bank, which had handled E. H. Harrimans buy-out of the Union Pacific Railroad in the 1890s (above).
Mar. 29 1933: As revealed in Moshe Gottliebs book American Anti-Nazi Resistance 33 - 41, Max Warburgs son, Erich, cabled his cousin, Frederick Warburg - who was a director of the Union Pacific Railroad - instructing him to use his influence to stop all anti-Nazi propaganda & activity in America.
Mar. 31 1933: As a result: the American-Jewish committee (within which the Warburgs had much influence) & The Bnai Brith (which subsequently became known as the Anti-Defamation League) issued a joint statement counselling that no American boycott against Germany be encouraged!
May. 20. 1933: As reported in the New York Times: on Hitler achieving power, an agreement to coordinate all trade between Germany & America was reached in Berlin after negotiations between Hitlers Economics Minister, Hjalmar Schacht (above) & John Foster Dulles. As a result of this, the Harriman International Co. - under Oliver Harriman (Averells first cousin) - formed a syndicate of 150 firms/individuals to conduct all exports from Germany to America. It should be noted here that the two Dulles brothers, partners in the corporate law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, had acted for many Nazi enterprises during & after this period, including I. G. Farben, developer of the nerve gas, Tabun; SKF, supplier of 60% of its bearings to Germany; & the Schroeder Banking house, of which Allen Welsh Dulles became a director of its New York branch - a post he held until 1944. Further pertinent details of the Dulles brothers: J. F. Dulles became Secretary of State [53 - 59]; A. W. Dulles became CIA Deputy Director for Plans ; Deputy Director of Central Intelligence [51 - 53]; & Director of CIA [53 -61].
Sept. 5 1933: North German Lloyd Co. merged with Hamburg-Amerika Line in Hamburg.
Nov. 4 1933: American Ship & Commerce Corp. (owners of Hamburg-Amerika - see above) installed long-time Harriman executive, Christian Beck as manager of freight & operations in North America for this newly-merged company, now known as Hapag-LLoyd, whose chairman was Emil Helfferich, a Nazi. Nazi security guards accompanied all shipping so engaged in this trade.
Sept. 1934: At the US Senate Nye Committee hearings, it was revealed that Samuel Pryor, executive ctte. chairman of Remington arms & founding director of both the UBC & the American Ship & Commerce Corp., had joined in a cartel agreement with I. G. Farben, the German chemical/armaments conglomerate (see above). It was further revealed that the Nazi troops (noted above) were nearly all armed with American guns.
Dec. 7 1941: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbour - US now in World War 2.
Aug. 28 1942: Under the Trading with the Enemy Act, the US government - via Leo T. Crowley, the US Alien Property Custodian - ordered the seizure of all property of Hapag-Lloyd.
Oct. 20 1942: Leo T. Crowley, the US Alien Property Custodian - seized the stock shares of the Union Banking Corp. of New York, whose shareholders were: Chm./Dir. E. Rowland (Bunny) Harriman (of Brown Brothers Harriman); Pres./Dir. Cornelis Lievense (banking functionary for the Nazis); Treasurer/Dir. Harold D. Pennington (of Brown Brothers Harriman); Dir. Ray Morris (of Brown Brothers Harriman); Dir. Prescott S. Bush Snr.(of Brown Brothers Harriman); Dir. H.J. Kouwenhoven (Dir./Chief foreign financial exec. of German Steel Trust & the man who had brokered the deal between Fritz Thyssen & the UBC); Dir. Johann G. Groeninger (Industrial Exec. in Nazi Germany). These seized shares were described in the Vesting Order as shares held for the benefit of members of the Thyssen family, property of nationals..of a designated enemy country.
Oct. 28 1942: US government seized 2 Nazi front companies - the Seamless Steel Equipment Corp & Holland-American Trading Corp. - both run by the UBC.
Nov. 17 1942: Nazi financial interests (only) in Silesian-American Corp. (above) seized, leaving US partners (UBC) to carry on the business.
Jul. 2 1945: As revealed by the US Treasury Dept. in hearings before a 79th Congress committee: the Vereinigte Stahlwerke (see above) had produced the following proportions of Nazi Germanys total output: Pig iron 50.8%; Pipe & tubes 45.5%; Universal plate 41.4%; Galvanised sheet 38.5%; Heavy plate 36%; Explosives 35%; Wire 22.1%.
1948: George Herbert Walker Bush Snr. (son of Prescott S. Bush Snr., grandson of Samuel Bush & George Walker - see above) joins Dresser/IDECO, & two years later co-founds the Bush-Overby Development Co. (trading in oil leases & royalties) with a total capital of $300,000. James Gammell, a Scottish eminence grise - whose father had served as Head of the British Military Mission in Moscow in 45, working closely with US Ambassador Averell Harriman (see above), invested $50,000 in Bush-Overby. (He was later to become director of Zapata). Other investors included: Eugene Meyer (World Bank) $50,000; & Prescott Bush Snr. $50,000 - all with not-a-little-help from George Herbert Walker (whose son, George Herbert Walker Jnr. holds directorships in both Bush-Overby & later - Zapata.) The job of this company entailed - in effect - conning the Texan farmer/land-owner into signing away his rights to any future oil-royalties for a token fee.
1952: Prescott Bush Snr. elected State Senator
1953: George Bush Snr. Joins Attorneys-at-Law brothers J.Hugh Liedtke & William Liedtke in setting up Zapata Petroleum with capital of $500,000 from Liedtke associates, & $500,000 from Walker associates - & Jimmy Gammell is given a directorship.
1954: George Bush Snr. now president of Zapata Offshore (oil drilling company 40% owned by Zapata Petroleum).
1966: George Bush Snr. elected to Congress.
1971 - 1972: George Bush Snr. made US ambassador to UN.
1972: George Bush Snr. made chairman of the Republican Party National committee.
1974 - 1975: In aftermath of President Nixons resignation, President Gerald Ford appointed George Bush Snr. to head the US Liaison Office in Beijing
Jan. 30 1976 - Mar. 9 1977: George Bush Snr. made Director of CIA. During this period a number of the CIAs clandestine aircraft were sold to Skyway Airline, owned by James Bath who had served in the military reserve with George W. Bush Jnr.(son of George Bush Snr.). Bath was the US representative of Salem bin Laden, a brother of Osama bin Laden. George Bush Jnr. formed the oil company Arbusto Energy. George Bush Snr. flies to London at the height of the 'MI5 Wilson Plot' to assure British Prime Minister Harold Wilson that if he had been under surveillance it was not the CIA which had been responsible. This was reported in the Sunday Times on 29th March 1981 under the headline 'The Hollis affair' and in 'The profession of intelligence', part 5, BBC Radio 4, 10th February 1982.
1978: James Bath invests $50,000 in Arbusto Energy
1979: During Jimmy Carters presidency, & as a result of the Sandanista rebellion led by Daniel Ortega, the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza fled the country.
Jan. 20 1981: Ronald Reagan now president with George Bush Snr. hisVice-President. Defeat of the left-wing Sandanistas became an immediate aim of the Reagan Administration, & this was to be implemented using secretive methods (which were later to prove illegal) under the control of the Special Situations Group, whose chairman was Vice-President George Bush Snr. (who had wrested this post from Secretary of State Alexander Haig early on). Enter Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver North who served on both the Inter-Departmental Group on Terrorism & the Terrorist Incident Working Group - both under Bush. They were to set-up, finance & arm an anti-Sandanista militia, the Contras, using neighbouring Guatemala as a training ground.
1983: Contras begin offensive against Sandanistas in Nicaragua.
Apr. 1984: US congress refuses to authorise $24 million aid to Contras requested by Reagan.
1984: Arbusto Energy Inc. proves to be an unsuccessful venture & is bought out by another oil company, Spectrum 7 Energy Corp. George W. Bush Jnr. is made president of Spectrum.
Oct. 1984: Congress cuts off any funding & support to the Contras. John Ellis (Jeb) Bush, the 2nd eldest son of George Bush Snr. - & a real estate developer - had been acting as the Reagan administrations unofficial link with Contra & Nicaraguan exiles in Miami. He also put the right-wing Guatemalan politician, Dr. Mario Castejon, in touch with Oliver North, which led to Castejon & Henry Whaley ( a former arms dealer) proposing that the State Department supply medicines, field hospitals & light aircraft to the Contras. This proposal was passed to the CIA via TGS International, a firm owned by Ted Shackley, who had served as Associate Deputy Director of Operations in the CIA under George Bush Snr. (76 - 77).
Dec. 1985: Congress partially lifts ban on Contra aid, & authorises $13 million in aid - plus $27 million for humanitarian aid.
1986: Behind-the-scenes machinations of the US Administration becomes public knowledge with the revelation of the illegal Arms for Hostages scandal - known as the Iran-Contra affair. The Spectre 7 Energy Corp. (above) proves to be another unsuccessful venture for George W. Bush Jnr. It is sold to another small oil company, Harken Energy Corp., a deal whereby the partners in Spectrum received $2 million worth of shares in Harken, & George Bush Jnr. was made director & consultant of the Harken - with the added bonus of $600,000 extra shares.
Oct. 1986: US Congress lifts remaining ban & authorises £100 million aid to Contras.
1987: In a CBS interview with Jane Wallace, Michael Mickey Tolliver, a pilot involved in the trade of drugs, revealed details of one flight he had made involving the Contras: he had flown to Honduras with a cargo of 28.000 lbs of guns & ammunition, & after a 3-day rest there he had returned with a cargo of 25,360 lbs of marijuana - landing at the US Airforce Base in Homestead, Florida, where the cargo was unloaded! He had been paid $75.000. Saudi banker Salem Massaoud invests $25 million in Harken.Mar. 11 88: Robert McFarlane (Reagans National Security Advisor 83 - 85) found guilty of criminal charges of witholding information from Congress about secret aid to the Contras.
Mar. 16 1988: John Poindexter (National Security Advisor from 85 - 86) & Oliver North (National Security Council - see above) both charged with conspiracy to defraud the US Government - but trials delayed.
Late 88: US Federal Regulators shut down Silverado Banking Savings & Loan co., due, primarily, to non-repayment of questionable loans they had made. Neil Mellon Bush (3rd son of George Bush Snr.) had been director of Silverado from 85.
Jan. 20 1989: George Bush Snr. inaugurated as president of US.
May 1989: Oliver North convicted on 3 counts, & in July 89 is fined $150,000 - plus a 3-year suspended jail sentence.
June 1989: President George Bush Snr. imposed economic sanctions on China as a result of Tiananmen Square killings. Soon after these sanctions were imposed, the Presidents older brother, Prescott Bush Jnr. of the consultancy firm Prescott Bush Resources, was hired by Asset Management International Financing & Settlement at a fee of $250,000 for consultation re-its (Assets) joint venture with China to set up the latters internal communications network. (This involved $300 million worth of Hughes Aircraft satellites - a key component of the deal). Concurrent with this, Prescott Bush Jnr. was also acting as middleman for the buying-out of Asset Management by West Tsusho, a Tokyo-based investment firm controlled by the Inagawakai branch of the Yakuza, the well-known politically influential Japanese Mob. For this he received a $250,000 finders fee & promised an annual retainer of $250,000 for the next 3 years - as consultant.
Nov. 1989: US Congress passed additional sanctions specifically barring the export of US satellites to China - unless the president found the sale in the national interest.
Dec. 19 1989: President George Bush Snr. lifted the sanctions, citing the national interest.
1990: Orlando Bosch, an anti-Castro Cuban, leader of the Coordination of United Revolutionary Organisations, who had masterminded many bombings in Cuba & a Cuban airliner over Barbados on October 5th 76, had finally been imprisoned in 1988 in Miami for firing a bazooka at a Polish freighter in Miami harbour. He is now paroled after John Ellis Bush has lobbied his fathers administration for his release from prison.
Jan. 1990: Somewhat surprisingly for a small company, Harken Energy Corp. clinches a deal with the Gulf State of Bahrain, whereby the latter gives Harken exclusive right for oil & gas exploration. The report of the Office of Thrift Supervision into the failure of Silverado Banking revealed that Neil Mellon Bush (see above) had failed to disclose to Silverado Banking (on whose board he sat) his business connections with Ken Good & Bill Walters who had defaulted on $132 million in loans from Silverado. (1) Good had given Neil Mallon Bush a $100,000 loan to invest in the commodities market. (2) Neil Bush had Silverado write a letter of recommendation to Argentina, where Good International - in partnership with Neil Bushs oil company JNB Exploration (which he had founded in 83) - was exploring for gas & oil. (3) Bill Walters had contributed $150,000 to the initial capitalisation of JNB, and - through his bank Cherry Creek National Bank -had extended a $1.5 million line of credit to JNB (from which he, Bush, had drawn a salary of $500,000 over the next 5 years).
Apr. 7 1990: John Poindexter convicted on 5 counts, & sentenced to 6 months imprisonment - but convictions of both North & Poindexter subsequently set aside.
June 22 90: George W. Bush Jnr. sold $848,560 of his Harken shares - & one week later the company announces a $23 million loss for the past quarter, & loses a further 60% of its value over the following 6 months. As the News & World Report noted at the time: Bush Jnr. had recently been appointed by Harken to study the possible economic restructuring of the company!
1990 to 1994: George W. Bush Jnr. made Director of Carlyle Group subsidiary: Caterair.
Aug. 2 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait.
Mar. 1991: Asset Management (see above) goes bankrupt, & the following year West Tsusho filed a $2.5 million suit against Prescott Bush Jnr. for not protecting their $5 million investment in Asset Management.
Apr.19 1991: US Government declared Neil Mallon Bush a bankrupt & imposed sanctions on him for violating conflict of interest rules.
1992: Caspar W. Weinberger (Secretary of Defense 81 - 87) indicted on 5 counts of lying to Congress.
Dec. 24 1992: President George Bush Snr., having just been defeated by Clinton, pardons all those principal players (above) in the Iran-Contra scandal.
1998: George W. Bush Jnr. governor of Texas (for the second time); John Ellis (Jeb) Bush governor of Florida.
Jan. 20 2001: George W. Bush Jnr. inaugurated as president of the USA (with not a little help from his brother Jeb).
2001: Revealed by the Wall Street Journal that George Bush Snr. had brokered a deal with the Saudi Bin Laden family, whereby the latter would invest heavily in the prestigious Carlyle Group (see above). As noted in the Petroleum Supply Annual 2001, Vol. 1 Table 21: Iraq supplied 289,998,000 barrels of crude oil to The USA in the year 2001.
Wednesday January 1, 2003
This year, I suppose, for many of us will be George Orwell year. He was born in 1903, and died in 1950, and has loomed over the British literary scene ever since. This centenary year there is certain to be an entertaining re-run of the arguments on the left between his supporters, including me, and his detractors who hail back to the good old days under comrade Stalin. So I start Orwell year with a reminder that his famous satire 1984, though essentially an attack on Stalin's Russia, is not exclusively so. It foresees a horrific world, divided into three power blocks constantly changing sides in order to continue fighting against each other. The governments of all three keep the allegiance of their citizens by pretending there has only ever been one war, one enemy. "The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control' they called it: in Newspeak, 'doublethink'."
There is doublethink going on now as Oceania (the US and Britain) prepares for war against Iraq. We, the Winston Smiths of today, know that 15 years ago, the US and Britain were in alliance with Iraq. We know that the British Foreign Office sided with Saddam Hussein when he did those terrible things to his own people listed in Jack Straw's recent doublethink dossier. We know that our government changed their own guidelines in order to sell Saddam the ingredients of any weapons of mass destruction he may or may not now have. We also know that the key bases from which US bombers will take off to kill Iraqis are in Saudi Arabia, whose regime is even more dictatorial, savage and terrorist than Saddam's. But where does that knowledge exist? Only in our own consciousness.
Orwell's great novel was not only a satire, but a warning. He wanted to alert his readers to the dangers of acquiescence in the lies and contortions of powerful govern- ments and their media toadies. The anti-war movement is growing fast, in Britain and the US. Fortunately, we can still, as Orwell urged in another passage, "turn our consciousness to strength" and shake off the warmongers "like a horse shaking off flies". If we don't, we are in for another awful round of victories over our own memories and of doublethink.
· Probably the best speech I ever heard was in the summer of 1999. The speaker was my friend Eamonn McCann from Derry. His subject was the peace process in Northern Ireland, and his theme was the insistence by the state that the population in Northern Ireland must be divided into Protestant and Catholic. For an hour, he had the huge London audience in an almost permanent state of merriment as he quoted from the official documents sent out for the 2001 census.
The documents were quite different to those in England and Scotland. There were for instance 73 different categories of religion specified for the 1.5 million people in Northern Ireland, compared to 17 religions available to the 50 million people in Britain. What amused us was the stubborn refusal of the census authorities to concede that there were people in Northern Ireland who are neither Protestant nor Catholic. Even if you said you had no religion, you were obliged to disclose the religion of your parents or grandparents or the name of your school, so you could be shoved against your will into an appropriate (if inaccu rate) category. Eamonn proposed his only possible answer: "I am an atheist - and I come from a long line of atheists". His point was that if the state insists on dividing people by religion, there is little hope for genuine reconciliation, or for peace.
Last week the Northern Ireland census figures were published. Press reports concentrated on the diminishing gap between Protestants and Catholics, but by far the most hopeful revelation was that 14% of the Northern Ireland population refused to be classified in either group, or said they had no religion. These had duly been "reclassified" as Protestant or Catholic by reference to their school or family. Ironically, one official reason why the Northern Ireland census insists on religious classification is the law against discrimination. The authorities argue that if they are to protect Catholics from discrimination, they must know exactly who is Catholic, and who is Protestant, even if neither is true. The rather obvious answer is that this process discriminates against people who have no religion and are proud of it.
US propaganda fuelled the first Gulf war. It will fuel this one too - and the risks are even greater
Thursday December 5, 2002 - The Guardian
I have a picture from the last Gulf war. It was taken in the basement of the Al Rashid hotel, the night the war started. The look on my face is one you might expect of a 28-year-old reporter at the centre of one of the biggest stories of my lifetime: earnest, excited and thrilled to be in Baghdad.
Eleven years later, I'm on maternity leave and the news of an impending second Gulf war follows me around the kitchen. This time, I feel only a sense of intense danger as the Middle East lurches towards a possible chemical and biological war.
The chances of Saddam Hussein using chemical and biological weapons if attacked are, according to the testimony of the CIA to the US Senate intelligence committee on October 7, "pretty high" - a scenario that even one of greatest hawks in US history, Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser to George Bush senior, says would lead to meltdown in the Middle East. As of December 7, when Iraq is expected to produce its definitive dossier, there should be no illusions: no matter what Baghdad discloses, America and almost certainly Britain are going to war. The "material breach", if it does not happen by itself, will be manufactured, so wringing consent for the second Gulf war just as consent was manufactured with breathtaking cynicism in 1991.
There were two glaring examples of how the propaganda machine worked before the first Gulf war. First, in the final days before the war started on January 9, the Pentagon insisted that not only was Saddam Hussein not withdrawing from Kuwait - he was - but that he had 265,000 troops poised in the desert to pounce on Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon claimed to have satellite photographs to prove it. Thus, the waverers and anti-war protesters were silenced.
We now know from declassified documents and satellite photographs taken by a Russian commercial satellite that there were no Iraqi troops poised to attack Saudi. At the time, no one bothered to ask for proof.
No one except Jean Heller, a five-times nominated Pulitzer prize-winning journalist from the St Petersburg Times in Florida, who persuaded her bosses to buy two photos at $1,600 each from the Russian commercial satellite, the Soyuz Karta. Guess what? No massing troops. "You could see the planes sitting wing tip to wing tip in Riyadh airport," Ms Heller says, "but there wasn't was any sign of a quarter of a million Iraqi troops sitting in the middle of the desert." So what will the fake satellite pictures show this time: a massive chemical installation with Iraqi goblins cooking up anthrax?
The US propaganda machine is already gearing up. In its sights already is Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector. He's too much of a softie for Saddam, the former CIA director James Wolsey told the Today programme last week. His work is of "limited value". He was Kofi Annan's "second choice".
Meanwhile, in Britain, Jack Straw's new human rights dossier on Iraq is timed to coincide with the build-up. Convenient, eh? The second tactic used to get consensus for war in 1991 was another propaganda classic: dead babies. Then, the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington, Nijirah al-Sabah, tearfully described how, as a volunteer in the Al Adnan hospital in Kuwait City, she had watched Iraqi soldiers looting incubators to take back to Baghdad, pitching the Kuwaiti babies on to "the cold floor to die".
Except it never happened. The Filipina nurses, Frieda Construe- Nag and Myra Ancog Cooke, who worked in the maternity ward of the Al Adnan hospital, had never seen Ms al-Sabah in their lives. Amnesty admitted they had been duped. Middle East Watch confirmed the fabrication, but it was too late: a marginal US congress had been swung to vote for war. George Bush senior mentioned the "incubator babies" seven times in pre-war rallying speeches. It was months before the truth came out. By then, the war was over.
This time, we have yet to see what propaganda will be used to rally consensus for the second Gulf war by proving a "material breach". It is highly likely that Saddam Hussein maintains at least some chemical and biological capacity. In a war in which his own survival is unlikely (and already rumoured to be ill with cancer) Saddam Hussein has nothing to lose. If he knows his fall is imminent, what terrible legacy might he choose to leave behind? What better present to his extremist Arab brothers than an attack on Israel? And how will the US, Britain or Israel respond if their troops or cities come under chemical or biological attack?
In 1995, the Washington-based Defense News reported on the outcome of the then highly classified Global 95 Wargame, a high-level military exercise enacted at the US Naval War college. Global 95 played out a simultaneous threat from North Korea and Iraq. The North Korean situation was diffused, but Iraq attacked US troops in the region with biological weapons. Washington replied with a nuclear bomb on Baghdad. The main observation during the Global 95 experiment was just how quickly the situation escalated.
But the greatest irony, and most important issue, is that although the war on Iraq may indeed get George Bush re- elected, it will not win the war on terrorism. It will instead fuel it.
In 1998, I spent an afternoon with Abu Ziad, an elderly accountant in Baghdad. He recounted how, at 2am on February 13, 1991, two bombs had hit the Amiryia bomb shelter near his home. The first pierced the roof, slicing into the central heating tank and sending gallons of boiling water pouring over the women and children below. The second bomb, 15 minutes later, exploded with such force that he never had the chance to identify the bodies of his wife and four of their five children: Zena,14, Fuad, 12, Lena, seven and Sadaad, six. He remembers standing outside the shelter in the early morning and noticing the ankles of dead women and children marked by the red hot mattress springs they had fought to climb over to get out of the shelter before the second bomb dropped.
The Abu Ziads of the second Gulf war will be seen on al-Jazeera TV giving their heartbreaking testimony to a new generation of disaffected and dispossessed young Muslim men from Palestine, Indonesia, the Middle East and Africa. And we can all hear the death chant of a hundred suicide bombers: Allahu Akbar. It's a high price to pay for another four years in the White House.
I am not some naive pacifist. I supported intervention in Bosnia, the war in Kosovo and military intervention in East Timor. Baghdad is a city where terror hangs in the air in every home. Iraqis literally dare not speak Saddam Hussein's name. But now he is cornered, dangerous and possibly dying. Provoking him is criminally irresponsible and provoking him in order to secure a second presidential term is unforgivable.
Remember the words of JFK to his brother Bobby, spoken in the ante-room of the Oval Office the night before the Cuban missile crisis, now declassified. "I have to do it, Bobby," said John Kennedy, explaining why he was facing up to the Soviets. "I'll lose the presidency if I don't." Krushchev had a way out. He ordered the Soviet ships to turn around. What would have happened if he had nowhere to turn?
· Maggie O'Kane is editorial director of GuardianFilms. She was named European Journalist of the Year this week for its first documentary, Looking for Karadzic.
Date: Sun Nov 10, 2002 12:23 am
The following set of three articles below unmasks both the Bush-Cheney regime and its principal local partner, the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo-Angelo Reyes government, of their lies that they are seriously fighting terrorism here in the Philippines. For these articles show that *they themselves are the ones coddling the terrorists in our midst.*
Michael Meiring, an American with British and South African references who was seriously hurt by a blast caused by high-powered explosives *in his own possession* last May 16 in Davao, has been exposed as a terrorist by a true advocate of good government, Davao City Prosecutor Raul Bendico.
And what did the US Embassy here, the NSA (National Security Agency of the US), the CIA, and the FBI do? They immediately gave Meiring full protection from Davao police authorities last May; gave him the attention of an expert doctor assigned by the US embassy; the local US vice consul paid his bills in Davao; and they whisked him pronto to a naval base in San Diego, where these alphabet soup agencies desperately hope he won't be followed by the trail of terrorism he left behind.
And that is how the US government *actually* handles terrorists caught red-handed: with tender loving care! Obviously, both Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Angelo Reyes did not mind that this terrorist got away. (They never raised a hoot!) They *clearly did not mind that this terrorist--and, more importantly, his partners in crime here in the Philippines, both American and Filipino, both in and out of government, both at low and high levels--are not dragged into the searing light of public scrutiny and indignation!*
But their actions on this case run awfully afoul of the widespread yearning of Filipinos and Americans from all walks of life to be freed of this scourge. A scourge that is *actually fostered at the highest levels of both the Bush-Cheney and Arroyo-Reyes regimes.* A scourge that is *part and parcel of the insidious covert action apparatus worldwide of the 21st-century power-mad Reich with Dubya Bush and Cheney as its crime-soaked figureheads.*
Unless Meiring is brought to court and prosecuted for his crime, unless we support Davao City Prosecutor Raul Bendico's and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's courageous efforts against Meiring and his handlers, we might never begin to untangle the web of terrorism that stalks our land today, and we will remain hostage to the Agenda of Chaos, Fear, Unhappiness and Mass Disempowerment of these Masters of Terror and War.
The first article is the centerpiece of the three-part expose below. It was posted at the main indymedia website. The webpage seems sloppy though; some text isn't reversed on the black background, but shows up when you copy and paste all the webpage's text to, for example, Notepad.
The second article is among the earliest of the news items re Meiring ever posted, which showed up at the Philippine Daily Inquirer's (PDI) website.
(Funny, PDI didn't carry over the Meiring story to its May 17, 2002 website edition; obviously, it's not a main story in its printed edition then, if ever it came out.)
The third article is a gem: it's the only extensive investigative report on the Meiring affair that ever came out, even until now. Dorian Zumel-Sicat and Jeannette Andrade has put one over our more lettered so-called Investigative Journalists in TV, radio and print. (I hope that's not an effect of grants they accepted from CIA-linked foundations!) We challenge these Great Investigative Journalists to follow Zumel-Sicat and Andrade's trail to unveil The Real Terrorism in our country now.
Please print the articles below, read them carefully, pass them on to everyone who are now hostaged by these SuperTerrorists, and let's get better organized and continue to mount direct concerted democratic action to expose this and other despicable and barefaced acts of high complacency with the real Terrorism in our midst.
Craig Hanley, October 10, 2002
Filipino media can't keep up with American spook sightings. Despite official denials, one story from Mindanao will not go away:
Jun Bersamin, Radio dzMM September 27, 2002
also posted at http://www.bc-alter.net/dfriesen/wwwboard/messages/1597.html
DAVAO CITY - The City Prosecution Office on Friday tagged the American victim of an explosion in his hotel room four months ago as a terrorist. City Prosecutor Raul Bendico said findings from the investigation of the case indicated that Meiring apparently attempted to set up explosives intended to blow up Evergreen Hotel when the accidental explosion went off, mangling his lower limbs.
Michael Meiring, 65, of California, was rushed to Davao Medical Mission Hospital on May 16 after the blast inside his room at the hotel located on Ramon Magsaysay Avenue here. Meiring was charged with illegal possession of explosives and reckless imprudence "for failing to practice proper attention and diligence regarding the handling of explosive materials." But he was reportedly whisked away by agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and brought to the United States. Authorities want Meiring brought back to the country to face the criminal charges filed against him.
What is unusual about the case, The Manila Times reported, is that Meiring was whisked out of Davao, past the Philippine National Police guarding him at the hospital, and on to a chartered plane, accompanied by what Immigration officials described as agents of the US National Security Agency and agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The National Security Agency intervention, confirmed by Immigration Deputy Commissioner Daniel Queto, sparked intense local speculation as to why an agency that reports directly to the Office of the President of the United States would send an entourage of bodyguards to speed Meiring to a hospital in Manila.
Security tightened around the wounded man immediately. Press were told that only his doctorhandpicked by the US Embassyhad access, and Meiring was promptly airlifted to San Diego, home to a US naval base. The American Embassy has refused comment. Vice-consul Michael Newbill settled the hospital bills in Davao City.
The Manila Times quoted a friend of Meiring who said he was told by a Filipino in Davao, carrying a message from the US Embassy that Michael would never be charged with a crime in connection with the explosion. The investigation will end up as a stonewall. Michael will be protected and...the incident will be shortly forgotten, if you're willing to forget it.
Officials in Davao City will not forget. The suspicious blast took place during a wave of terror bombings across Mindanao as US and Philippine troops conducted anti-terror exercises. President Arroyo threatened to declare a state of emergency and demanded that lawmakers rush through her tough new anti-terror bill. Rush it through they did
Now Prosecutor Bendico says the US-shielded `terrorist' was trying to blow the hotel up.
The Philippine Star explained why his findings are worrisom
Edith Regalado July 9, 2002
archived at http://www.philstar.com
DAVAO CITY The efforts of government prosecutors here to go after a British-American national who was the victim of a hotel blast on May 16 could very well prove futile as the US Central Intelligence Agency has already taken him in custody in California.
Highly reliable sources told The STAR Michael Terrence Meiring, 65, reportedly was deployed by the CIA, sometime in the early up to the mid `90s, on assignment here in Southern Mindanao...
"He overshot his mandate. That was why the Americans had to find a way that he could be spirited out of the country fast because the CIA has to also take hold of him," the same source said.
three bracketed paragraphs form the rest of the Philippine Star article:
("Meiring lost his left leg and suffered severe burns in various parts of his body when an explosive went off inside his room at the Evergreen Hotel here May 16. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents from the US Embassy in Manila reportedly sneaked him out of a Davao City hospital four days after the explosion and was brought to the Makati Medical Center for treatment.
"Local officials here, including the police and the city prosecutors, have demanded that Meiring be brought back to Davao City to answer the charges of illegal possession of explosives as well as the possible filing of the non-bailable offense of destructive arson.
"Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was particularly irked by the way the American embassy facilitated Meirings transfer to the Makati Medical Center which he described as arrogant and without due respect to local officials concerned. 'Meiring is now in California and the CIA has taken hold of him already,' the same source said.")>
Here is the `confusing background' of the American terror bomber handled by the National Security Agency of the Bush White House, compiled by Dorian Zumel-Sicat and Jeannette Andrade for a three-part Manila Times investigation that ran May 29-31, 2002
Meiring was born in 1932 in South Africa and later became a naturalized US citizen. His wife Angela is a nurse at a 7th Day Adventist hospital in Loma Linda, California. He has been described as a surgeon, a con-man, a student of medicinal herbs, a treasure hunter and, most recently, a terror bomber.
Charred US federal bank notes were found in his exploded hotel room, with a three-week old fax from Derek S. Fawell, of 3 Glenhurst Avenue, Yorkshire, England that read: "With regard to your ordnance disposal problem, I have talked with our experts. They will be at your location upon the time frame that you instruct. The device that you have described is highly volatile and must be dealt with quite delicately."
Meiring's company letterhead, PAROUSIA International Trading, Inc., also lists a UK address: Patchole Manor, Kentisbury Ford, North Devon, England. Under the address are the words: When in residence. The address of record for Meiring in his passport and with US authorities is 381 Smokeridge Trail, Calimesa, California.
He first came to the Philippines in 1992, where he spent almost a year in Metro Manila and North Luzon in the company of agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and under the protection of Ricardo Diaz, the NBI Chief of Interpol.
In and out of Davao City for the past 10 years, Meiring had close ties to well-placed government authorities in southern Mindanao, national government officials and Philippine National Police officials like Colonel Segundo Duran. Others in the circle: former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Hashim Salamat and suspected New People's Army (NPA) leader Father Navarro.
Meiring also has close ties with `shady people' like MNLF Commander Tony Nasa and others in Cotabato who acted as `front men' for his dealings with the Abu Sayyaf.
He spent millions of dollars while in the Philippines, the source of his funds unknown. According to The Manila Times, "his trail leads back to...boxes supposedly containing US Federal Reserve notes and bonds obtained from the Abu Sayyaf."
Meiring told David Hawthorn, an American, he'd found a "fabulous treasure" in US Federal Reserve notes and, in 1992, sold a `box' full of them worth $500 million plus. That loot was said to be part of an old war chest for American and Filipino guerillas fighting the Japanese.
The MNLF, MILF, and Abu Sayyaf have recently sold similar US bonds and notes to finance their arms purchases. Local authorities have made several arrests.
Meiring fronted for a very wealthy, powerful group in Manila. He and his American and Filipino associates were known to use explosives throughout the south for `treasure salvage' and to supply other `treasure hunters' with explosives.
Philippine intelligence officers refused to let The Manila Times publish the names of `current' treasure hunters in Mindanao because they are all being monitored for links to the MNLF, MILF, Abu Sayyaf, and other radical Islamic fundamentalists.
Older names in the `game' cleared for release are almost as exotic as Michael Meiring. Many have been linked to undergound Muslim independence campaigns in Mindanao. In 1990-91, Bob Gould from Hayward, California, Filipino-American Frederick Obado and others in Davao City made plans to invade Sabah, Malaysia.
A close friend of Gould from Fremont, California, Nina North maintained contact with Obado from 1990-92. The Manila Times reports that North was linked to the CIA, involved with ?back door? transfers of gold bullion from the Philippines and regularly dealt with representatives of Osama Bin Laden and high officials in the Mid-East.
So, to answer the question directly:
Michael Terrence Meiring is a Manila-controlled CIA-connected White House-protected explosives expert who spent the last ten years in the southern Philippines hanging out with Filipino intelligence and police brass, Muslim rebels and other `shady people'.
He equipped many of his acquaintances throughout Mindanao with explosives, spent large sums of mystery cash and traded in US Federal Reserve notes with the Abu Sayyaf Group - terrorists who regularly use the notes to buy weapons....a gang that provided the excuse for the new US-Philippine military alliance.
Meiring is an American with a base in England and explosive expert colleagues in England who were contracted to assist him with his 'ordnance' endeavors at the time he blew his legs off while making a bomb in his hotel room during the region-wide terror bombing spree that traumatized Mindanao five months ago.
A boo-boo that earned a chop-chop hush-hush Uncle Sam medevac to San Diego.... ...for the rebel-friendly man Prosecutor Bendico classified as a terrorist two weeks ago.
The Meiring episode is the best substantiated of several wild reports this year that have Filipinos convinced there's a "stealth invasion" of their country underway. Consistent themes include the involvement of Meiring's favorite Muslim rebel armies -- the MNLF, MILF and Abu Sayyaf - and the invasion of Sabah, Malaysia.
On February 21, Rosanna Halong, wife of notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya, phoned Radyo Agong dxMD in Koronodel City and announced that her husband was in on a CIA plot to break Sabah away from Malaysia and fuse it with Mindanao to form an independent country - a plot long popular with CIA-linked treasure hunters like Gould and North.
Halong insisted her husband hatched his version with Jeffrey Schilling. Sabaya took Schilling captive for eight months in the jungle after he suspected the Berkeley grad was a CIA agent. Schilling swore the mix-up was the fault of his friendship with another Zamboanga-based African-American named Shaun, a `former Marine' the rebels `had met' earlier.
"Perhaps he was also a CIA agent," Schilling said matter-of-factly, "and due to my association with him they assumed I was also a CIA agent."
Stories like the following explain why locals assume that every Yankee is a spook in a country where Philippine Senator Aquilino Pimentel describes the Abu Sayyaf as "a CIA monster." A group, he points out, whose original members were organized, funded and trained by Ronald Reagan's secret agents in the 1980s and sent to Afghanistan to help kick out the Russians. Twenty years ago, that skullduggery was overseen by exactly the kind of people Michael Meiring hung out with, in exactly the same part of the country.
Four days before Sabaya's wife said her man was an American puppet, the Daily Zamboanga Times reported on a new and improved super-power puppet army in Mindanao. The term "Bangsamoro" as used below means "Filipino Muslim people":
Bangsamoro News Agency February 17, 2002
A new emerging powerful revolutionary group in Mindanao yesterday revealed that the Bangsamoro people of Mindanao have now decided to include in their objective the liberation of North Borneo, which they claim as part of their traditional homeland...
The leaders of the group, who refused to be identified for the meantime so as not to preempt their formal declaration of liberation of Mindanao and North Borneo in due time, told the Bangsamoro News Agency that their organization was organized in November last year, has now more than 50,000 strong armed forces in Mindanao and another 50,000 in North Borneo with highly sophisticated firepowers, including anti-tank, anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile (SAM). Their forces, they said, is fast growing in number.
The group claimed they are receiving financial and logistic support from super-power countries, which they refused to identify. But apparently one of these countries is the United States of America (USA).
The group is also highly confident that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)* of Chairman Nur Misuari and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)* of Chairman Salamat Hashim and other armed groups in Mindanao fighting against the Philippine government, as well as the people of Sabah and North Borneo....will support their aspiration.
The group is also confident that the development-oriented Christian** settlers in Mindanao will support the independence as one country of Mindanao and North Borneo.
The same group also called on the peace-loving and democracy loving people of Malaysia to reject the "arrogant, dictator and greedy" leadership of Mahathir Mohammed if they don't want the wrath of the mighty American power, and instead, install a true pro-people, God-fearing and democratic leader.
The group proposed the formation of the "United States of Mindanao and North Borneo".
One month later, the Indigenous People's Federal Army (IFPA) went public, calling on the Arroyo government to amend the national constitution. A spokesman for the heavily armed `defense forces' warned of a social volcano unless Arroyo set up separate federal governments for the indigenous people, Muslims* and Christians**.
Weeks before Michael Meiring blew his legs off while preparing to blow up the Evergreen Hotel, IFPA leader Roger Adamat was identified as the man behind the bomb scares in Manila and Cotabato intended to dramatize the group's bid for a federal state.
The IFPA circulated cell-phone text messages throughout General Santos City that 18 bombs were primed. At 3:15 pm on April 21, a powerful explosion outside the FitMart shopping mall killed 15 people, including four children, tricycle cab drivers, street vendors and a passerby.
And Ms. Arroyo demanded and got her tough anti-terror bill.
Michael Meiring's controversial NSA-sponsored "flight" three weeks later and his new status as a wanted terrorist is of great interest in the wake of the recent mystery bombing that just cost a Green Beret his life, and which has been attributed to the Abu Sayyaf.
This bombing comes as Ms. Arroyo prepares to sign a Mutual Logistics and Support Agreement with the Bush Administration that will give the Pentagon wide-open access to the Philippines.
Securing such access was a major objective before September 11, 2001.
The future of the American-Filipino `anti-terror' alliance became clear last month when Arroyo took up the issue of granting landing rights to Taiwanese military pilots.
That move is a US orchestration to formalize a Washington-Manila-Taipei triad in the South China Sea and coincides with the offensive return of the USNS Bowditch.
The same American spy ship that sparked last year's deadly mid-air collision of military planes over Hainan Island was back looking for trouble last month in coastal waters off the People's Republic. The Chinese insist the new intrusions of the Bowditch violate international law. The US Navy says PRC patrol planes `harass' the crew as they gather data for battle. Six months after the director of the CIA warned Congress about the 400 missiles Beijing now brackets the Straits with, Congress sent its new Foreign Relations Authorization Act to President Bush. Newly signed into law, the bill upgrades Taiwan to major non-NATO ally status and orders US flags to fly at American buildings on the island Beijing calls a renegade.
The US has been heading towards China via the Philippines ever since Mr. Bush took office.
Months before September 11, The Role of Southeast Asia in US Strategy toward China, a Rand Corporation study, advised Donald Rumsfeld that he must re-base American forces in the Philippines in order to retain US military dominance in Asia.
A Rand board member since 1977, Rumsfeld joins Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz as leaders of a militaristic "Blue Team" that sees China as a "competitor" which must be "contained" and kept "afraid" as part of the "hedging strategy" recommended in the Rand study. Wolfowitz, an old Indonesia hand, has been particularly outspoken in regards to the Fujian missile bases.
The Rand study helped give birth to the new National Security Strategy of the United States, which justifies pre-emptive strikes to enforce American global economic supremacy and specifically cites the PRC as a top-of-mind target.
Meiring's British connections and the Bangsamoro claim to multiple superpower sponsors for the rebel army in Mindanao and Sabah raise a very interesting question.
At this stage of the game it is impossible to tell if the robust Anglo-American military alliance is active in Asia. But Philippine Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes has been briefed in London repeatedly and Prince Andrew was recently in Manila promoting stronger naval ties and weapon sales to assist Arroyo with her "maritime challenges". The Arroyo government has already authorized anti-terror partnerships between her national police forces and Scotland Yard, the Special Boat Service (SBS) and other British commando.
And Tony Blair is sold on a global crusade he perceives as altruistic. For all the fine reasons spun out by neo-imperialist guru Robert Cooper.
An alliance willing to defy the UN and to use first-strike nukes as it sees fit will not hesitate to `fudge' a little chaos in order to secure long-term power projection bases in Asia. The United States has fudged chaos in the Philippines before.
The first President Bush saluted America's first covert Filipino-Muslim freedom fighters, and his son's inner circle has its own reasons to resurrect the secret Muslim army trick. As soon as Arroyo signs the Pentagon's proposed mutual support agreement, any unrest in Sabah, Zamboanga City or Mindanao means the US must intervene.
The Rand study advised the Pentagon to keep the zone "warm" militarily. That is the purpose of the current rolling series of anti-terror exercises against the CIA's Abu Sayyaf Group. That was also the likely purpose of the terror-bomber rescued by the Bush White House.
Future events will reveal America's game plan for Southeast Asia and who the confederates are.
Last month, after a series of disturbances in Sabah work camps, Malaysia expelled an estimated 30,000 undocumented Filipino laborers from the troubled state in North Borneo that so many CIA plots seem to target...a state where the Bangsamoro army claimed in February to have 50,000 insurgents armed and funded by the USA and other super-powers.
To protest the expulsion, Arroyo immediately moved to renew the Philippine claim to Sabah. The President has ordered her chief Army officer to prepare for all emergencies and to develop the `new rules of engagement' `we need'.
To guarantee the safety of returning workers, she has proposed the permanent stationing of a Philippine navy ship off the Sabah coast. On October 6, she called for even closer security ties with the United States.
[Primary research Zamboanga City, Manila, S. Leyte. * email@example.com * http://www.messagecycle.com/]
Posted: 5:09 PM (Manila Time) | May 16, 2002
DAVAO A British man and four Filipinos were seriously injured in two separate explosions in the southern Philippines on Thursday, police said.
Michael Meiring, said to be in his mid-60s, was believed to have lost both legs and was rushed to hospital after the blast in his room at the Evergreen Hotel in Davao City, city police chief Samuel Yordan said.
Police had initially identified him as Michel Mering but hotel records showed his real name.
The hotel management said Meiring is a Briton who had been staying at the hotel for several years while hunting for treasure in the troubled southern Philippines, Yordan added.
The region is said to be a trove of loot left by departing Japanese troops in World War II.
The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined but police have ruled out "outside perpetrators" and said it could have resulted from equipment stored in Meiring's room.
A fire resulting from the explosion was swiftly put out.
"Since he is a treasure hunter, it is probable he had explosive materials," Yordan told Agence France-Presse.
Chief Inspector Fe Basan said it was likely the victim would lose one leg and was still in critical condition.
A gift-wrapped bomb went off outside the public market of Midsayap town in the south about four hours later, injuring four people, said the Midsayap police chief, Sr. Supt. Raul Supeter.
He said one of his men was among the injured after he found the suspicious-looking package inside a market stall and carried it outside the marketplace, preventing potentially greater casualties.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.
There have been several deadly explosions in the south in recent months, some of them linked to Muslim separatists.
By Dorian Zumel-Sicat, Correspondent
Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Michael T. Meiring had basked in the shadow of inscrutability. By some accounts, he is a treasure hunter, and a physician who dabbled in herbal medicine. There is mention of a wife, a nurse who worked in a hospital in California. He doesnt smoke, and drinks only occasionally.
It is said he has been in and out of Davao City for the past 10 years, always staying in Suite 306 of the Evergreen Hotel. The talk in Davao is that Meiring hobnobs with influential political personalities in Mindanao, among them Nur Misuari and Hashim Salamat.
An explosion in his Davao hotel suite on May 16 ripped off that mantle of obscurity, exposing Meiring to the public limelight. What has been revealed, however, is a more complex man whose trail leads back to South Africa and a box supposedly containing US Federal Reserve notes.
Since the May 16 blast, there have been attempts by authorities to keep the circumstances surrounding the incident hush-hush.
Meiring lost both his legs in the explosion, which also left a big portion of his body badly burned. What is unusual is that he was reportedly whisked out of Davao on a chartered plane, accompanied by what Immigration officials described as agents of the US National Security Council.
The mystery doesnt stop there. Meirings present whereabouts are unclear. One report said he was taken to the Makati Medical Center in Makati City, where he is still under intensive care. Another version has it that Meiring was flown to San Diego, California after a brief stay at Makati Medical.
Piecing together an accurate story about Meiring will be difficult. But there are indications that he is part of a bigger, more spellbinding tale, one detailing a quest for treasure, intrigue and, possibly, double-cross.
What is definitely known about Meiring is that he was born in 1932 in South Africa and later became a naturalized US citizen. He first came to the Philippines in 1992, where he spent almost a year in Metro Manila, where he stayed at the Sundowner Hotel or the Manila Garden Hotel.
While in Manila he went around with two agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). He was in the Philippines primarily to hunt for treasure and do research in herbal medicine. His wife, Angelita (or Angelina) is a nurse at a 7th Day Adventist hospital in Loma Linda, California.
Meiring had close links with some well-placed government authorities in southern Mindanao as well as with national government officials. Included in this circle are former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Hashim Salamat, and even suspected New Peoples Army (NPA) leader Father Navarro.
Meirings connections with rebel leaders made the military wary about him. He was under surveillance by more than one intelligence unit on more than one occasion. Still, there was little to add to his dossier.
Meiring is believed to have spent millions of dollars while in the Philippines. Where he got his funds was not known. Medical research grants from South Africa could be one source. He has told me that the South African government gives him some support, says Meirings private secretary, Sylvia Durante.
According to close friend, American David Hawthorn, Meiring told him he had found a fabulous treasure in US Federal notes.
The way Hawthorn told it, Meiring in 1992 was able to sell a box full of US Federal Reserve notes worth more than $500 million.
That box was one of 12 said to be part of a war chest for American and Filipino guerillas fighting Japan forces during World War II. After the war, the boxes disappeared.
By Dorian Zumel-Sicat, Correspondent and Jeannette Andrade, Reporter
Thursday, May 30, 2002 - A TIMES EXCLUSIVE
Philippine and US investigators chasing the case of Michael Meiring, the American who sustained critical injuries from a mysterious explosion in his Davao hotel suite, have to dig through a wide circle of acquaintances ran-ging from South African anti-apartheid warriors to American white supremacists.
The Manila Times confirmed yesterday from a source at the Makati Medical Center that Meiring remains confined at the hospitals cardiovascular unit. The Times also learned that police in Davao City had finally filed illegal possession of explosives charges against the American.
The Times tried to visit Meiring but was told only his doctor handpicked by the US Embassy has access to him. The Times was also not allowed to see any of Meirings watchers.
A close friend of the American had earlier claimed Meiring was airlifted to San Diego, California. Other American sources from the California city, home to a sprawling US naval base, also insisted yesterday that Meiring had arrived there.
Among the most startling developments in the Meiring case was Immigration Deputy Commissioner Daniel Quetos admission last week, that no less than agents of the US National Security Council had brought Meiring from Davao to Manila.
At the time of the blast, journalists were confused about Meirings nationality. Some dubbed him British, others American. Meiring was formerly a citizen of South Africa, of British descent. He fled to the United States, sources said, towards the end of South Africas apartheid regime.
While the same sources said Meiring was a doctor for the South African police, they also stressed his ties to the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela, and hinted that he fled because of pursuit by state security officials.
American David Hawthorn, a close friend of Meiring, claimed the blast victim had confessed passing to Mandelas government the proceeds of a box of old US federal notes. That box was one of 12, containing an estimated $500-million worth of notes.
Hawthorn said Meiring showed him a letter from the South African government and a US Treasury permit to back his claim. Hawthorn also saw a packing list that had a cover sheet printed with the words US Army, the Army seal, some numbers and a group of upper case letters. Meiring, he said, claimed the list represented the serial numbers of the missing notes, dating back to 1937.
Meiring had spent the last nine years looking for more boxes and other treasure, securing a permit during the Ramos administration to recover treasure from sunken Japanese and American ships around Mindanao, and to look for gold bars and Victory notes.
It was then that he entered into a partnership with private hunters. According to both Hawthorn and secretary Silvya Durante, Meiring had fronted for a very wealthy, powerful group in Manila. He returned to the country six months ago to buy another box of federal notes but was told the treasure was still in Mindanao. After a month, the impatient Meiring flew to Davao, after getting information on the boxs whereabouts.
The Americans friends fear the Manila group, threatened of losing the box, could have plotted against Meiring.
The group, they told The Times, was connected to a long-time Meiring financier, James Rowe of Nevada, who joined the victim during a 1993 visit.
Rowe is executive producer of Wild Rose Productions, an independent film and video documentary company based in New Green Valley, Nevada, near Las Vegas. One of the projects of Wild Rose was to do a documentary on Yamashita treasure allegedly hidden and recovered by highland tribes in parts of Mindanao.
American intelligence analyst Dan Crawford said Rowe had links to a right-winged, white supremacist and tax revolt group in Nevada that is linked with the neo-Nazi party of the United States and the Fifth Reich in Germany.
Treasure hunters claim much of Yama#####as treasure was money, jewels, and gold belonging to the Nazis. Their descendants, inspired by some of the surviving and aged minion of Adolf Hitler, are in search of that treasure, believing that they can recover it, they can revive the movement and fulfill their dreams of a world run by a superior Aryan race.
Those same people harbor a deep-seeded resentment against Nelson Mandela and those who dismantled the racist apartheid system of South Africa. Meiring, being a supporter of Mandela is considered a traitor to the white race.
Another right-wing associate of Meiring is an American named Chuck Ager, from somewhere in Colorado, USA. Ager is a mining engineer. He was tasked by Meiring to supervise more than 30 tunneling operations in search of the remaining 12 boxes and the Yama#####a treasure. In all, Ager was in charge of more than P5-million worth of mining and digging equipment purchase over the years by Meiring from a hardware store in the vicinity of the Evergreen Hotel.
Both Hawthorn and Durante claimed that Meiring had feared for his life in recent weeks. Each time that Hawthorn asked why, Meiring would only say, it has to do with the treasure.
The intelligence source also said that within three weeks of the blast, Meiring was in communication with a man from England named Derek S. Fawell, of Yorkshire. Fawell knew Meiring well, according to communications from him to Meiring that was recovered by the source. With regard to your ordinance disposal problem, I have talked with our experts. They will be at your location upon the time frame that you instruct. The device that you have described is highly volatile and must be deal with quite delicately, says one paragraph of that facsimile communication shown to me by the source. Fawells address is listed as 3 Glenhurst Avenue, Yorkshire, England.
On Meirings company letterhead, PAROUSIA International Trading, Inc., with Evergreen Hotel, Davao City address and telephone number, is a UK address: Patchole Manor, Kentisbury Ford, North Devon, England. Under the address, in italicized letters are the words: When in residence. The only address of record for Meiring, in his passport and with US authorities is, 381 Smokeridge Trail, Calimesa, California.
Almost immediately after the blast, security tightened around Meiring. Hawthorn told The Times: I was told by a Filipino in Davao, carrying a message from the US Embassy that Michael would never be charged with a crime in connection with the explosion. The investigation will end up at a stone wall. Michael will be protected and eventually taken back to the safety of the United States. The incident will be shortly forgotten, if youre willing to forget it.
But even that doesnt explain why a treasure hunter and collector of medicinal herbs merited attention from the powerful US NSC.
Friday, May 31, 2002 A TIMES EXCLUSIVE:
By Dorian Zumel-Sicat
LOST and hidden treasures are the stuff of which legends are made. The legends of the treasures of Mindanao are full of international intrigue, accounts of treachery and betrayal, tales about shadowy characters, shady deals all mixed with a bit of the noble and of compassion.
Michael T. Meiring was critically injured in a blast that gutted his hotel room, Suite 305 of the Evergreen Hotel in downtown Davao City on May 16. He will not fully recover from those injuries. Both of his legs were amputated at the knee because of irreparable compound fractures. He suffered first to third degree burns in 40 percent of his body. The who and why of the blast remains unknown amidst an array of speculation by investigators and reporters.
Meirings background is murky but that, military defense officials note, is par for the course. Terrorists and intelligence operatives of all stripes about among treasure hunters circles.
The Americans have used treasure hunting as a cover for intelligence activities. In 1963, a C-47 US Air Force Cargo plane crashed somewhere in the central highlands of Mindanao, sinking into the depths of a lake that has yet to be charted. Top secret is the tag on this story.
According to sources in the United States who will remain anonymous, the plane was carrying the stolen cache of Madame Ngu who fled from Vietnam in 1963 after a successful US-led coup. The light was unmanifested and had no flight plan. But sources say that it was enroute to Clark Air Base. There is record of a sole survivor of the crash, Airman Lawrence Havelock.
Havelock reported struggled to Cagayan de Oro, where he was treated at a hospital for exposure and minor injuries. Later he was repatriated and then mysteriously given a general discharge from the US Air Force.
Several years after his discharge Havelock returned to Mindanao to try to find the crash site and the plane. He never did. He returned to the States broke and in debt. He finally ended up convicted of a federal fraud.
Terrorists, too, have been known to put up treasure hunting fronts. The three Vietnamese terrorists arrested last year for plotting to blow up the Vietnamese Embassy here were assets of the US intelligence community. They and their Japanese colleague were also involved in treasure hunting and the export of marijuana. They had links to close friends of deposed presidents Joseph Estrada and Ferdinand Marcos and their patroness and financier hobnobbed with a poseur who called himself a son of Marcos. There are other names that come up in the treasure hunter game.
Intelligence officers allowed The Manila Times to publish only the names of those involved during the 1990s, saying current names of the list were being monitored for links to a strange circle of white supremacists and
Bob Gould (in the Philippines in March of 1990 and June of 1991) came from Hayward, California. His connection was a Frederick Obado, Filipino-American, who was linked to a group of Kodar Kiram, son of the late Sultan Jumalul Kiram and younger brother of Rodinod Kiram. Gould and others in Davao City made plans in 1990 and 1991 to invade Sabbah and claim it for the Sultanate of Sabbah-Sulu. Gould has connections with a Libertarian group in California and is the subject of an Internal Revenue Service investigation on tax evasion.
Nina North. A close friend of Gould. Her acquaintances claim she has connections to the Central Intelligence Agency, but those connections are too vague. In 1990, 1991, and 1992, she maintained contact with Obado and was dealing with high officials in the Mid-East, including representatives of Khadaffy and Bin Laden, with regard to transfer of gold bullion from the Philippines, through the back door. North is from Fremont, California.
Andy Gould (no relation to Bob), an Australian and John Lawrence, a Brit, both hangers-on in Ermita (back in the early 90s). They also had dealings with Obado, Bob Gould, and Swihart with regard to gold bullion and the Yama#####a treasure.
Tinoy Simbahon of Magpet, North Cotabato. A treasure guide. His wife had met with Obado and Gould on several occasions in the Manila Pen back in 1990. He had met with Obado and a certain De Lara, in late 1991 in Magpet to make a deal for the purchase of gold bullion. Simbahon had admitted to Gould that he was secretly working for Swihart to help Muslim independence in Mindanao.
Fred Eder, Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a tailor. But he has a corporation registered under the name of Rose Mining and Exploration Company, with headquarters somewhere in General Santos City. Simbahon is a partner. This is the group that enticed Obado and Gould to look for treasure. Eder is also somehow connected with a Fil-Am group that once supported the defunct Movement for Independent Mindanao (MIM). On radio station KNDY, Honolulu, as late as 1999, Eder was heard advocating independence for Muslim Mindanao.
Please visit http://www.unansweredquestions.org/
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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2002
By Sarah H. Wright
MIT - News Office
Veteran journalist Helen Thomas brought the grit and whir of a White House press conference to Bartos Theater on Monday evening, speaking with passion about the media's role in a democracy whose leaders seem eager for war.
Actually, the 82-year-old former United Press International reporter didn't just speak: she surged into her topic, giving everyone present an immediate sense of the grumpy wit and fierce precision that gave her reporting on American presidents Kennedy through Bush II such a competitive and lasting edge.
"I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter," said Thomas, who is now a columnist for Hearst News Service. "Now I wake up and ask myself, 'Who do I hate today?'" Her short list of answers seems not to vary from war, President Bush, timid office-holders, a muffled press and cowed citizens, pretty much in that order.
Angered by what she views as the Bush administration's "bullying drumbeat," Thomas referred early and often to her own hatred of war, quoting from poets and politicians to bear down on President Bush and his colleagues.
Winston Churchill, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Louis Brandeis, George Santayana, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. all made appearances in Thomas' sweeping portrayal of what she sees as the administration's betrayal of both the character and will of the American people and the principles of democracy.
"I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war. Bush's policy of pre-emptive war is immoral - such a policy would legitimize Pearl Harbor. It's as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam," she said to enthusiastic applause.
Thomas ignored the clapping just as she once ignored the camera flashes and shouting matches of the Washington press corps.
"Where is the outrage?" she demanded. "Where is Congress? They're supine! Bush has held only six press conferences, the only forum in our society where a president can be questioned. I'm on the phone to [press secretary] Ari Fleischer every day, asking will he ever hold another one? The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul."
Like any star, Thomas, who resigned from UPI in 2000, appreciated her audience's thirst to get the insider's view of our national leaders, and she gave generously, in snapshots, though the Reagan and both Bush regimes were cast in darker hues.
"Great presidents have great goals for mankind. During my years of covering the White House, Kennedy was the most inspired; Johnson rammed through voting rights and public housing; Nixon will be remembered for his trip to China and for his resignation; Ford for helping us recover from Nixon; and Carter for making human rights the centerpiece of foreign policy," Thomas said in an even, respectful tone. She just sighed over Clinton, who "tarnished the Oval Office."
Thomas' mood became visibly more somber at the mention of Ronald Reagan's military buildup and at the name Bush. Again and again, Thomas warned the MIT audience, "It's bombs away for Iraq and on our civil liberties if Bush and his cronies get their way. Dissent is patriotic!"
After her talk, Thomas participated in a panel discussion with MacVicar Faculty Fellows David Thorburn, professor of literature, and Charles Stewart III, professor of political science. Philip S. Khoury, dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, introduced the speakers.
"Helen Thomas offered a very powerful indictment of the current behavior of the Bush presidency in her comments on the incoherence and inconsistency of Bush's policies and the danger to civil liberties of Bush's rhetoric," said Thorburn.
He compared the lack of public awareness of an antiwar movement in 1965 and 1966 with the wide public debate about Iraq going on today. "An aroused citizenry can instruct the government," he said.
Stewart also focused on the current public debate about Iraq, declaring that it may be a "hopeful sign. The polls say Americans don't want to talk about Iraq - they want to talk about the economy, about education. But the press has continued to point out the important thing. Everyone knows there's been a dance between the President and Congress over Iraq."
Thomas didn't let the press off the hook, though. "Everybody learned the lessons of Vietnam, including the Pentagon. In Vietnam, correspondents could go anywhere - just hop on a helicopter and report on the war. Now we don't have that access. It's total secrecy. The media overlords should be complaining about this. I do not absolve the press. We've rolled over and played dead, too," she said.
Asked to advise young journalists, Thomas pounced. "Remind the politicians you interview that you pay them, that they are public servants. Remember every question is legitimate. And don't give up. There's always a leak. There's always someone who's trying to save the country," she said.
The talk was sponsored by the MIT Communications Forum.
http://www.observer.co.uk [not published on the internet edition]
On 24 August, 1814, things looked very dark for freedom's land. That was the day the British captured Washington DC and set fire to the Capitol and the White House. President Madison took refuge in the nearby Virginia woods where he waited patiently for the notoriously short attention span of the Brits to kick in, which it did. They moved on and what might have been a Day of Utter Darkness turned out to be something of a bonanza for the DC building trades and up-market realtors.
One year after 9/11, we still don't know by whom we were struck that infamous Tuesday, or for what true purpose. But it is fairly plain to many civil libertarians that 9/11 put paid not only to much of our fragile Bill of Rights but also to our once-envied system of government which had taken a mortal blow the previous year when the Supreme Court did a little dance in 5/4 time and replaced a popularly elected president with the oil and gas Cheney/Bush junta.
Meanwhile, our more and more unaccountable government is pursuing all sorts of games around the world that we the spear carriers (formerly the people) will never learn of.
Even so, we have been getting some answers to the question: why weren't we warned in advance of 9/11? Apparently, we were, repeatedly; for the better part of a year, we were told there would be unfriendly visitors to our skies some time in September 2001, but the government neither informed nor protected us despite Mayday warnings from Presidents Putin and Mubarak, from Mossad and even from elements of our own FBI. A joint panel of congressional intelligence committees reported (19 September 2002, New York Times) that as early as 1996, Pakistani terrorist Abdul Hakim Murad confessed to federal agents that he was 'learning to fly in order to crash a plane into CIA HQ'.
Only CIA director George Tenet seemed to take the various threats seriously. In December 1998, he wrote to his deputies that 'we are at war' with Osama bin Laden. So impressed was the FBI by his warnings that by 20 September 2001, 'the FBI still had only one analyst assigned full time to al-Qaeda'.
From a briefing prepared for Bush at the beginning of July 2001: 'We believe that OBL [Osama bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.' And so it came to pass; yet Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor, says she never suspected that this meant anything more than the kidnapping of planes.
Happily, somewhere over the Beltway, there is Europe - recently declared anti Semitic by the US media because most of Europe wants no war with Iraq and the junta does, for reasons we may now begin to understand thanks to European and Asian investigators with their relatively free media.
On the subject 'How and Why America was Attacked on 11 September, 2001', the best, most balanced report, thus far, is by Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed ... Yes, yes, I know he is one of Them. But they often know things that we don't - particularly about what we are up to. A political scientist, Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development 'a think-tank dedicated to the promotion of human rights, justice and peace' in Brighton. His book, 'The War on Freedom', has just been published in the US by a small but reputable publisher.
Ashmed provides a background for our ongoing war against Afghanistan, a view that in no way coincides with what the administration has told us. He has drawn on many sources, most tellingly on American whistleblowers who are beginning to come forth and hear witness - like those FBI agents who warned their supervisors that al-Qaeda was planning a kamikaze strike against New York and Washington only to be told that if they went public with these warnings they would suffer under the National Security Act. Several of these agents have engaged David P. Schippers, chief investigative counsel for the US House Judiciary Committee, to represent them in court. The majestic Schippers managed the successful impeachment of President Clinton in the House of Representatives. He may, if the Iraqi war should go wrong, be obliged to perform the same high service for Bush, who allowed the American people to go unwarned about an imminent attack upon two of our cities as pre-emption of a planned military strike by the US against the Taliban.
The Guardian (26 September 2001) reported that in July 2001, a group of interested parties met in a Berlin hotel to listen to a former State Department official, Lee Coldren, as he passed on a message from the Bush administration that 'the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action ... the chilling quality of this private warning was that it came - according to one of those present, the Pakistani diplomat Niaz Naik - accompanied by specific details of how Bush would succeed ...' Four days earlier, the Guardian had reported that 'Osama bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military action against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and Washington ... [which] raises the possibility that bin Laden was launching a pre-emptive strike in response to what he saw as US threats.' A replay of the 'day of infamy' in the Pacific 62 years earlier?
On 9 September 2001, Bush was presented with a draft of a national security presidential directive outlining a global campaign of military, diplomatic and intelligence action targeting al-Qaeda, buttressed by the threat of war. According to NBC News: 'President Bush was expected to sign detailed plans for a worldwide war against al-Qaeda ... but did not have the chance before the terrorist attacks ... The directive, as described to NBC News, was essentially the same war plan as the one put into action after 11 September. The administration most likely was able to respond so quickly ... because it simply had to pull the plans "off the shelf".'
Finally, BBC News, 18 September 2001: 'Niak Naik, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. It was Naik's view that Washington would not drop its war for Afghanistan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taliban.'
Was Afghanistan then turned to rubble in order to avenge the 3,000 Americans slaughtered by Osama? Hardly. The administration is convinced that Americans are so simple-minded that they can deal with no scenario more complex than the venerable lone, crazed killer (this time with zombie helpers) who does evil just for the fun of it 'cause he hates us, 'cause we're rich 'n free 'n he's not. Osama was chosen on aesthetic grounds to be the most frightening logo for our long contemplated invasion and conquest of Afghanistan, planning for which had been 'contingency' some years before 9/11 and, again, from 20 December, 2000, when Clinton's out-going team devised a plan to strike at al-Qaeda in retaliation for the assault on the warship Cole. Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, personally briefed his successor on the plan but Rice, still very much in her role as director of Chevron-Texaco, with special duties regarding Pakistan and Uzbekistan, now denies any such briefing. A year and a half later (12 August, 2002), fearless Time magazine reported this odd memory lapse.
Osama, if it was he and not a nation, simply provided the necessary shock to put in train a war of conquest. But conquest of what? What is there in dismal dry sandy Afghanistan worth conquering? Zbigniew Brzezinski tells us exactly what in a 1997 Council on Foreign Relations study called 'The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives'.
The Polish-born Brzezinski was the hawkish National Security Advisor to President Carter. In 'The Grand Chessboard', Brzezinski gives a little history lesson. 'Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some 500 years ago, Eurasia has been the centre of world power.' Eurasia is all the territory east of Germany. This means Russia, the Middle East, China and parts of India. Brzezinski acknowledges that Russia and China, bordering oil-rich central Asia, are the two main powers threatening US hegemony in that area.
He takes it for granted that the US must exert control over the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, known to those who love them as 'the Stans': Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikstan and Kyrgyzstan, all 'of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and most powerful neighbours - Russia, Turkey and Iran, with China signaling'. Brzezinski notes how the world's energy consumption keeps increasing; hence, who controls Caspian oil/gas will control the world economy. Brzezinski then, reflexively, goes into the standard American rationalization for empire; We want nothing, ever, for ourselves, only to keep bad people from getting good things with which to hurt good people. 'It follows that America's primary interest is to help ensure that no single [other] power comes to control the geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.'
Brzezinski is quite aware that American leaders are wonderfully ignorant of history and geography so he really lays it on, stopping just short of invoking politically incorrect 'manifest destiny'. He reminds the Council just how big Eurasia is. Seventy-five percent of the world's population is Eurasian. If I have done the sums right, that means that we've only got control, to date, of a mere 25 percent of the world's folks. More! 'Eurasia accounts for 60-per cent of the world's GNP and three-fourths of the world's known energy resources.'
Brzezinski's master plan for 'our' globe has obviously been accepted by the Cheney-Bush junta. Corporate America, long over-excited by Eurasian mineral wealth, has been aboard from the beginning.
Ahmed sums up: 'Brzezinski clearly envisaged that the establishment, consolidation and expansion of US military hegemony over Eurasia through Central Asia would require the unprecedented, open-ended militarisation of foreign policy, coupled with an unprecedented manufacture of domestic support and consensus on this militarisation campaign.' Afghanistan is the gateway to all these riches. Will we fight to seize them? It should never be forgotten that the American people did not want to fight in either of the twentieth century's world wars, but President Wilson maneuvered us into the First while President Roosevelt maneuvered the Japanese into striking the first blow at Pearl Harbor, causing us to enter the Second as the result of a massive external attack. Brzezinski understands all this and, in 1997, he is thinking ahead - as well as backward. 'Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.' Thus was the symbolic gun produced that belched black smoke over Manhattan and the Pentagon.
Since the Iran-Iraq wars, Islam has been demonized as a Satanic terrorist cult that encourages suicide attacks - contrary, it should be noted, to the Islamic religion. Osama has been portrayed, accurately, it would seem, as an Islamic zealot. In order to bring this evil-doer to justice ('dead or alive'), Afghanistan, the object of the exercise was made safe not only for democracy but for Union Oil of California whose proposed pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Indian Ocean port of Karachi, had been abandoned under the Taliban's chaotic regime. Currently, the pipeline is a go-project thanks to the junta's installation of a Unocal employee (John J Maresca) as US envoy to the newly born democracy whose president, Hamid Karzai, is also, according to Le Monde, a former employee of a Unocal subsidiary. Conspiracy? Coincidence!
Once Afghanistan looked to be within the fold, the junta, which had managed to pull off a complex diplomatic-military caper, - abruptly replaced Osama, the personification of evil, with Saddam. This has been hard to explain since there is nothing to connect Iraq with 9/11. Happily, 'evidence' is now being invented. But it is uphill work, not helped by stories in the press about the vast oil wealth of Iraq which must - for the sake of the free world - be reassigned to US and European consortiums.
As Brzezinski foretold, 'a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat' made it possible for the President to dance a war dance before Congress. 'A long war!' he shouted with glee. Then he named an incoherent Axis of Evil to be fought. Although Congress did not give him the FDR Special - a declaration of war - he did get permission to go after Osama who may now be skulking in Iraq.
Post-9/11, the American media were filled with pre-emptory denunciations of unpatriotic 'conspiracy theorists', who not only are always with us but are usually easy for the media to discredit since it is an article of faith that there are no conspiracies in American life. Yet, a year or so ago, who would have thought that most of corporate America had been conspiring with accountants to cook their books since - well, at least the bright days of Reagan and deregulation. Ironically, less than a year after the massive danger from without, we were confronted with an even greater enemy from within: Golden Calf capitalism. Transparency? One fears that greater transparency will only reveal armies of maggots at work beneath the skin of a culture that needs a bit of a lie-down in order to collect itself before taking its next giant step which is to conquer Eurasia, a potentially fatal adventure not only for our frazzled institutions but for us the presently living.
Complicity. The behavior of President George W. Bush on 11 September certainly gives rise to all sorts of not unnatural suspicions. I can think of no other modern chief of state who would continue to pose for 'warm' pictures of himself listening to a young girl telling stories about her pet goat while hijacked planes were into three buildings.
Constitutionally, Bush is not only chief of state, he is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Normally, a commander in such a crisis would go straight to headquarters and direct operations while receiving the latest intelligence.
This is what Bush actually did - or did not do - according to Stan Goff, a retired US Army veteran who has taught military science and doctrine at West Point. Goff writes, in 'The So-called Evidence is a Farce': 'I have no idea why people aren't asking some very specific questions about the actions of Bush and company on the day of the attacks. Four planes get hijacked and deviate from their flight plan, all the while on FAA radar.'
Goff, incidentally, like the other astonished military experts, cannot fathom why the government's automatic 'standard order of procedure in the event of a hijacking' was not followed. Once a plane has deviated from its flight-plan, fighter planes are sent up to find out why. That is law and does not require presidential approval, which only needs to be given if there is a decision to shoot down a plane. Goff spells it out: 'The planes were hijacked between 7:45 and 8:10am. Who is notified? This is an event already that is unprecedented. But the President is not notified and going to a Florida elementary school to hear children read.
'By around 8:15am it should be very apparent that something is terribly wrong. The President is glad-handling teachers. By 8:45am, when American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower, Bush is settling in with children for his photo op. Four planes have obviously been hijacked simultaneously and one has just dived into the twin towers, and still no one notifies the nominal Commander-in-Chief.
'No one has apparently scrambled [sent aloft] Air Force interceptors either. At 9:03, Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower. At 9:05 Andrew Card, the Chief of Staff whispers to Bush [who] "briefly turns somber" according to reporters. Does he cancel the school visit and convene an emergency meeting? No. He resumes listening to second-graders ... and continues the banality even as American Airlines Flight 77 conducts an unscheduled point turn over Ohio and heads in the direction of Washington DC.
'Has he instructed Card to scramble the Air Force? No. An excruciating 25 minutes later, he finally deigns to give a public statement telling the United States what they have already figured out - that there's been an attack on the World Trade Centre. There's a hijacked plane bee-lining to Washington, but has the Air Force been scrambled to defend anything yet? No.
'At 9:35, this plane conducts another turn, 360 [degrees] over the Pentagon, all the while being tracked by radar, and the Pentagon is not evacuated, and there are still no fast-movers from the Air Force in the sky over Alexandria and DC. Now the real kicker: a pilot they want us to believe was trained at a Florida puddle-jumper school for Piper Cubs and Cessnas, conducts a well-controlled downward spiral descending the last 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half minutes, brings the plane in so low and flat that it clips the electrical wires across the street from the Pentagon, and flies it with pinpoint accuracy into the side of the building at 460 knots.
'When the theory about learning to fly this well at the puddle-jumper school began to lose ground, it was added that they received further training on a flight simulator. This is like saying you prepared your teenager for her first drive on the freeway at rush hour by buying her a video driving game ... There is a story being constructed about these events.'
There is indeed, and the more it is added to the darker it becomes. The nonchalance of General Richard B. Myers, acting Joint Chief of Staff, is as puzzling as the President's campaigning-as-usual act. Myers was at the Capitol chatting with Senator Max Cleland. A sergeant, writing later in the AFPS (American Forces Press Service) describes Myers at the Capitol. 'While in an outer office, he said, he saw a television report that a plane had hit the World Trade Centre. "They thought it was a small plane or something like that," Myers said. So the two men went ahead with the office call.'
Whatever Myers and Cleland had to say to each other (more funds for the military?) must have been riveting because, during their chat, the AFPS reports, 'the second tower was hit by another jet. "Nobody informed us of that," Myers said. "But when we came out, that was obvious. Then, right at that time, somebody said the Pentagon had been hit."' Finally, somebody 'thrust a cellphone in Myers' hand' and, as if by magic, the commanding general of Norad - our Airspace Command - was on the line just as the hijackers mission had been successfully completed except for the failed one in Pennsylvania. In later testimony to the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Myers said he thinks that, as of his cellphone talk with Norad, 'the decision was at that point to start launching aircraft'. It was 9:40am. One hour and 20 minutes after air controllers knew that Flight 11 had been hijacked; 50 minutes after the North Tower was struck.
This statement would have been quite enough in our old serious army/air force to launch a number of courts martial with an impeachment or two thrown in. First, Myers claims to be uninformed until the third strike. But the Pentagon had been overseeing the hijacked planes from at least the moment of the strike at the first tower: yet not until the third strike, at the Pentagon, was the decision made to get the fighter planes up. Finally, this one is the dog that did not bark. By law, the fighters should have been up at around 8:15. If they had, all the hijacked planes might have been diverted or shot down. I don't think that Goff is being unduly picky when he wonders who and what kept the Air Force from following its normal procedure instead of waiting an hour and 20 minutes until the damage was done and only then launching the fighters. Obviously, somebody had ordered the Air Force to make no move to intercept those hijackings until ... what?
On 21 January 2002, the Canadian media analyst Barry Zwicker summed up on CBC-TV: 'That morning no interceptors responded in a timely fashion to the highest alert situation. This includes the Andrews squadrons which ... are 12 miles from the White House ... Whatever the explanation for the huge failure, there have been no reports, to my knowledge, of reprimands. This further weakens the "Incompetence Theory". Incompetence usually earns reprimands. This causes me to ask whether there were "stand down" orders.'?? On 29 August 2002, the BBC reports that on 9/11 there were 'only four fighters on ready status in the north-eastern US'. Conspiracy? Coincidence? Error?
It is interesting how often in our history, when disaster strikes, incompetence is considered a better alibi than ... well, yes, there are worse things. After Pearl Harbor, Congress moved to find out why Hawaii's two military commanders, General Short and Admiral Kimmel, had not anticipated the Japanese attack. But President Roosevelt pre-empted that investigation with one of his own. Short and Kimmel were broken for incompetence. The 'truth' is still obscure to this day.
But Pearl Harbor has been much studied. 11 September, it is plain, is never going to be investigated if Bush has anything to say about it. In January 2002, CNN reported that 'Bush personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit the Congressional investigation into the events of 11 September ... The request was made at a private meeting with Congressional leaders ... Sources said Bush initiated the conversation ... He asked that only the House and Senate intelligence committees look into the potential breakdowns among federal agencies that could have allowed the terrorist attacks to occur, rather than a broader inquiry .. Tuesday's discussion followed a rare call from Vice President Dick Cheney last Friday to make the same request ...'
The excuse given, according to Daschle, was that 'resources and personnel would be taken' away from the war on terrorism in the event of a wider inquiry. So for reasons that we must never know, those 'breakdowns' are to be the goat. That they were more likely to be not break - but 'stand-downs' is not for us to pry. Certainly the one-hour 20 minute failure to put fighter planes in the air could not have been due to a breakdown throughout the entire Air Force along the East Coast. Mandatory standard operational procedure had been told to cease and desist.
Meanwhile, the media were assigned their familiar task of inciting public opinion against bin Laden, still not the proven mastermind. These media blitzes often resemble the magicians classic gesture of distraction: as you watch the rippling bright colours of his silk handkerchief in one hand, he is planting the rabbit in your pocket with the other. We were quickly assured that Osama's enormous family with its enormous wealth had broken with him, as had the royal family of his native Saudi Arabia. The CIA swore, hand on heart, that Osama had not worked for them in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Finally, the rumour that Bush family had in any way profited by its long involvement with the bin Laden family was - what else? - simply partisan bad taste.
But Bush Jr's involvement goes back at least to 1979 when his first failed attempt to become a player in the big Texas oil league brought him together with one James Bath of Houston, a family friend, who have Bush Jr. $50,000 for a 5 per cent stake in Bush's firm Arbusto Energy. At this time, according to Wayne Madsen ('In These Times' - Institute for Public Affairs No. 25), Bath was 'the sole US business representative for Salem bin Laden, head of the family and a brother (one of 17) to Osama bin Laden... In a statement issued shortly after the 11 September attacks, the White House vehemently denied the connection, insisting that Bath invested his own money, not Salem bin Laden's, in Arbusto. In conflicting statements, Bush at first denied ever knowing Bath, then acknowledged his stake in Arbusto and that he was aware Bath represented Saudi interests ... after several reincarnations, Arbusto emerged in 1986 as Harken Energy Corporation.'
Behind the Junior Bush is the senior Bush, gainfully employed by the Carlyle Group which has ownership in at least 164 companies worldwide, inspiring admiration in that staunch friend to the wealthy, the Wall Street Journal, which noted, as early as 27 September 2001, 'If the US boosts defence spending in its quest to stop Osama bin Laden's alleged terrorist activities, there may be one unexpected beneficiary: bin Laden's family ... is an investor in a fund established by Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specialising in buyouts of defence and aerospace companies ... Osama is one of more than 50 children of Mohammed bin Laden, who built the family's $5 billion business.'
But Bush pere et fils, in pursuit of wealth and office, are beyond shame or, one cannot help but think, good sense. There is a suggestion that they are blocking investigation of the bin Laden connection with terrorism. Agent France Press reported on 4 November 2001: 'FBI agents probing relatives of Saudi-born terror suspect Osama ... were told to back off soon after George W. Bush became president ...' According to BBC TV's Newsnight (6 Nov 2001), '... just days after the hijackers took off from Boston aiming for the Twin Towers, a special charter flight out of the same airport whisked 11 members of Osama's family off to Saudi Arabia. That did not concern the White House, whose official line is that the bin Ladens are above suspicion.' 'Above the Law' (Green Press, 14 February 2002) sums up: 'We had what looked like the biggest failure of the intelligence community since Pearl Harbor but what we are learning now is it wasn't a failure, it was a directive.' True? False? Bush Jr will be under oath during the impeachment interrogation. Will we hear 'What is a directive? What is is?'
Although the US had, for some years, fingered Osama as a mastermind terrorist, no serious attempt had been made pre-9/11 to 'bring him to justice dead or alive, innocent or guilty', as Texan law of the jungle requires. Clinton's plan to act was given to Condeleezza Rice by Sandy Berger, you will recall, but she says she does not.
As far back as March 1996 when Osama was in Sudan, Major General Elfatih Erwa, Sudanese Minister for Defence, offered to extradite him. According to the Washington Post (3 October 2001), 'Erwa said he would happily keep close watch on bin Laden for the United States. But if that would not suffice, the government was prepared to place him in custody and hand him over ... [US officials] said, "just ask him to leave the country. Just don't let him go to Somalia", where he had once been given credit for the successful al-Qaeda attack on American forces that in '93 that killed 18 Rangers.' Erwa said in an interview, 'We said he will go to Afghanistan, and they [US officials] said, "Let him."'
In 1996 Sudan expelled Osama and 3,000 of his associates. Two years later the Clinton administration, in the great American tradition of never having to say thank you for Sudan's offer to hand over Osama, proceeded to missile-attack Sudan's al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory on the grounds that Sudan was harboring bin Laden terrorists who were making chemical and biological weapons when the factory was simply making vaccines for the UN.
Four years later, John O'Neill, a much admired FBI agent, complained in the Irish Times a month before the attacks, 'The US State Department - and behind it the oil lobby who make up President Bush's entourage - blocked attempts to prove bin Laden's guilt. The US ambassador to Yemen forbade O'Neill (and his FBI team) ... from entering Yemen in August 2001. O'Neill resigned in frustration and took on a new job as head of security at the World Trade Centre. He died in the 11 September attack.'
Obviously, Osama has enjoyed bipartisan American support since his enlistment in the CIA's war to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. But by 9/11 there was no Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, indeed there was no Soviet Union.
I watched Bush and Cheney on CNN when the Axis of Evil speech was given and the 'long war' proclaimed. Iraq, Iran and North Korea were fingered as enemies to be clobbered because they might or might not be harbouring terrorists who might or might not destroy us in the night. So we must strike first whenever it pleases us.
Thus, we declared 'war on terrorism' -- an abstract noun which cannot be a war at all as you need a country for that. Of course, there was innocent Afghanistan, which was levelled from a great height, but then what's collateral damage - like an entire country - when you're targeting the personification of all evil according to Time and the NY Times and the networks?
As it proved, the conquest of Afghanistan had nothing to do with Osama. He was simply a pretext for replacing the Taliban with a relatively stable government that would allow Union Oil of California to lay its pipeline for the profit of, among others, the Cheney-Bush junta.
Background? All right. The headquarters of Unocal are, as might be expected, in Texas. In December 1997, Taliban representatives were invited to Sugarland, Texas. At that time, Unocal had already begun training Afghan men in pipeline construction, with US government approval. BBC News, (4 December 1997): 'A spokesman for the company Unocal said the Taliban were expected to spend several days at the company's [Texas] headquarters ... a BBC regional correspondent says the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.' The Inter Press Service (IPS) reported: 'some Western businesses are warming up to the Taliban despite the movement's institutionalisation of terror, massacres, abductions and impoverishment.' CNN (6 October 1996): 'The United States wants good ties [with the Taliban] but can't openly seek them while women are being oppressed.'
The Taliban, rather better organised than rumoured, hired for PR one Leila Helms, a niece of Richard Helms, former director of the CIA. In October 1996, the Frankfurter Rundschau reported that Unocal 'has been given the go-ahead from the new holders of power in Kabul to build a pipeline from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan ...' This was a real coup for Unocal as well as other candidates for pipelines, including Condoleezza's old employer Chevron.
Although the Taliban was already notorious for its imaginative crimes against the human race, the Wall Street Journal, scenting big bucks, fearlessly announced: 'Like them or not, the Taliban are the players most capable of achieving peace in Afghanistan at this moment in history.' The NY Times (26 May 1997) leapt aboard the pipeline juggernaut. 'The Clinton administration has taken the view that a Taliban victory would act as counterweight to Iran ... and would offer the possibility of new trade routes that could weaken Russian and Iranian influence in the region.'
But by 1999, it was clear that the Taliban could not provide the security we would need to protect our fragile pipelines. The arrival of Osama as warrior for Allah on the scene refocused, as it were, the bidding. New alliances were now being made. The Bush administration soon buys the idea of an invasion of Afghanistan. Frederick Starr, head of the Central Asia Institute at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in the Washington Post (19 December 2000): 'The US has quietly begun to align itself with those in the Russian government calling for military action against Afghanistan and has toyed with the idea of a new raid to wipe out bin Laden.'
Although with much fanfare we went forth to wreak our vengeance on the crazed sadistic religious zealot who slaughtered 3,000 American citizens, once that 'war' was under way, Osama was dropped as irrelevant and so we are back to the Unocal pipeline, now a go-project. In the light of what we know today, it is unlikely that the junta was ever going to capture Osama alive: he has tales to tell. One of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's best numbers now is: 'Where is he? Somewhere? Here? There? Somewhere? Who knows?' And we get his best twinkle. He must also be delighted - and amazed - that the media have bought the absurd story that Osama, if alive, would still be in Afghanistan, underground, waiting to be flushed out instead of in a comfortable mansion in Osama-loving Jakarta, 2,000 miles to the East and easily accessible by Flying Carpet One.
Many commentators of a certain age have noted how Hitlerian our junta sounds as it threatens first one country for harbouring terrorists and then another. It is true that Hitler liked to pretend to be the injured - or threatened - party before he struck. But he had many great predecessors not least Imperial Rome. Stephen Gowan's War in Afghanistan: A $28 Billion Racket quotes Joseph Schumpeter who, 'in 1919, described ancient Rome in a way that sounds eerily like the United States in 2001: "There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented ... The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbours."'
We have only outdone the Romans in turning metaphors such as the war on terrorism, or poverty, or Aids into actual wars on targets we appear, often, to pick at random in order to maintain turbulence in foreign lands.
As of 1 August 2002, trial balloons were going up all over Washington DC to get world opinion used to the idea that 'Bush of Afghanistan' had gained a title as mighty as his father's 'Bush of the Persian Gulf' and Junior was now eager to add Iraq-Babylon to his diadem. These various balloons fell upon Europe and the Arab world like so many lead weights.
But something new has been added since the classic Roman Hitlerian mantra, 'they are threatening us, we must attack first'. Now everything is more of less out in the open. The International Herald Tribune wrote in August 2002: 'The leaks began in earnest on 5 July, when the New York Times described a tentative Pentagon plan that it said called for an invasion by a US force of up to 250,000 that would attack Iraq from the north, south and west. On 10 July, the Times said that Jordan might be used as a base for the invasion. The Washington Post reported, 28 July, that "many senior US military officers contend that Saddam Hussein poses no immediate threat ..."' And the status quo should be maintained.
Incidentally, this is the sort of debate that the founding fathers intended the Congress, not military bureaucrats, to conduct in the name of we the people. But that sort of debate has, for a long time, been denied us.
One refreshing note is now being struck in a fashion unthinkable in imperial Rome: the cheerful admission that we habitually resort to provocation. The Tribune continues: 'Donald Rumsfeld has threatened to jail any one found to have been behind the leaks. But a retired army general, Fred Woerner, tends to see a method behind the leaks. "We may already be executing a plan," he said recently. "Are we involved in a preliminary psychological dimension of causing Iraq to do something to justify a US attack or make concessions? Somebody knows.' That is plain.
Elsewhere in this interesting edition of the Herald Tribune wise William Pfaff writes: 'A second Washington debate is whether to make an unprovoked attack on Iran to destroy a nuclear power reactor being built with Russian assistance, under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, within the terms of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty of which Iran is a signatory ... No other government would support such an action, other than Israel's (which) would do so not because it expected to be attacked by Iran but because it, not unjustifiably, opposes any nuclear capacity in the hands of any Islamic government.'
'Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it compromises and develops the germ of every other. As the parent of armies, war encourages debts and taxes, the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the executive is extended ... and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people ...' Thus, James Madison warned us at the dawn of our republic.
Post 9/11, thanks to the 'domination of the few', Congress and the media are silent while the executive, through propaganda and skewed polls, seduces the public mind as hitherto unthinkable centers of power like Homeland Defence (a new Cabinet post to be placed on top of the Defence Department) are being constructed and 4 per cent of the country has recently been invited to join Tips, a civilian spy system to report on anyone who looks suspicious or ... who objects to what the executive is doing at home or abroad?
Although every nation knows how - if it has the means and the will - to protect itself from thugs of the sort that brought us 9/11, war is not an option. Wars are for nations not root-less gangs. You put a price on their heads and hunt them down. In recent years, Italy has been doing that with the Sicilian Mafia; and no one has yet suggested bombing Palermo.
But the Cheney-Bush junta wants a war in order to dominate Afghanistan, build a pipeline, gain control of the oil of Eurasia's Stans for their business associates as well as to do as much damage to Iraq and Iran on the grounds that one day those evil countries may carpet our fields of amber grain with anthrax or something.
The media, never much good at analysis, are more and more breathless and incoherent. On CNN, even the stolid Jim Clancy started to hyperventilate when an Indian academic tried to explain how Iraq was once our ally and 'friend' in its war against our Satanic enemy Iran. 'None of that conspiracy stuff,' snuffed Clancy. Apparently, 'conspiracy stuff' is now shorthand for unspeakable truth.
As of August, at least among economists, a consensus was growing that, considering our vast national debt (we borrow $2 billion a day to keep the government going) and a tax base seriously reduced by the junta in order to benefit the 1 per cent who own most of the national wealth, there is no way that we could ever find the billions needed to destroy Iraq in 'a long war' or even a short one, with most of Europe lined up against us. Germany and Japan paid for the Gulf War, reluctantly - with Japan, at the last moment, irritably quarrelling over the exchange rate at the time of the contract. Now Germany's Schroder has said no. Japan is mute.
But the tom-toms keep beating revenge; and the fact that most of the world is opposed to our war seems only to bring hectic roses to the cheeks of the Bush administration (Bush Snr of the Carlyle Group, Bush Jnr formerly of Harken, Cheney, formerly of Halliburton, Rice, formerly of Chevron, Rumsfeld, formerly of Occidental).
If ever an administration should recuse itself in matters dealing with energy, it is the current junta. But this is unlike any administration in our history. Their hearts are plainly elsewhere, making money, far from our mock Roman temples, while we, alas, are left only with their heads, dreaming of war, preferably against weak peripheral states.
Mohammed Heikal is a brilliant Egyptian journalist-observer, and sometime Foreign Minister. On 10 October 2001, he said to the Guardian: 'Bin Laden does not have the capabilities for an operation of this magnitude. When I hear Bush talking about al-Qaeda as if it were Nazi Germany or the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, I laugh because I know what is there. Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was monitored and al-Qaeda has been penetrated by US intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not have kept secret an operation that required such a degree of organisation and sophistication.'
The former president of Germany's domestic intelligence service, Eckehardt Werthebach (American Free Press, 4 December 2001) spells it out. The 9/11 attacks required 'years of planning' while their scale indicates that they were a product of 'state-organised actions'. There it is. Perhaps, after all, Bush Jnr was right to call it a war. But which state attacked us?
Will the suspects please line up. Saudi Arabia? 'No, no. Why we are paying you $50 million a year for training the royal bodyguard on our own holy if arid soil. True the kingdom contains many wealthy well-educated enemies but ...' Bush Snr and Jnr exchange a knowing look. Egypt? No way. Dead broke despite US baksheesh. Syria? No funds. Iran? Too proud to bother with a parvenu state like the US. Israel? Sharon is capable of anything. But he lacks the guts and the grace of the true Kamikaze. Anyway, Sharon was not in charge when this operation began with the planting of 'sleepers' around the US flight schools 5 or 6 years ago. The United States? Elements of corporate America would undeniably prosper from a 'massive external attack' that would make it possible for us to go to war whenever the President sees fit while suspending civil liberties. (The 342 pages of the USA Patriot Act were plainly prepared before 9/11.) Bush Snr and Jnr are giggling now. Why? Because Clinton was president back then. As the former president leaves the line of suspects, he says, more in anger than in sorrow: 'When we left the White House we had a plan for an all-out war on al-Qaeda. We turned it over to this administration and they did nothing. Why?' Biting his lip, he goes. The Bushes no longer giggle. Pakistan breaks down: 'I did it! I confess! I couldn't help myself. Save me. I am an evil-doer!'
Apparently, Pakistan did do it - or some of it. We must now go back to 1977 when 'the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA' was launched in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Central Asia specialist Ahmed Rashid wrote (Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999): 'With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war, waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals, from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and '92 ... more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghanistan jihad.' The CIA covertly trained and sponsored these warriors.
In March 1985, President Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive 166, increasing military aid while CIA specialists met with the ISI counterparts near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Jane's Defence Weekly (14 September 2001) gives the best overview: 'The trainers were mainly from Pakistan's ISI agency who learnt their craft from American Green Beret commandos and Navy Seals in various US training establishments.' This explains the reluctance of the administration to explain why so many unqualified persons, over so long a time, got visas to visit our hospitable shores. While in Pakistan, 'mass training of Afghan [zealots] was subsequently conducted by the Pakistan army under the supervision of the elite Special Services ... In 1988, with US knowledge, bin Laden created al-Qaeda (The Base); a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells spread across 26 or so countries. Washington turned a blind eye to al-Qaeda.'
When Mohamed Atta's plane struck the World Trade Centre's North Tower, George W. Bush and the child at the Florida elementary school were discussing her goat. By coincidence, our word 'tragedy' comes from the Greek: for 'goat' tragos plus oide for 'song'. 'Goat-song'. It is highly suitable that this lament, sung in ancient satyr plays, should have been heard again at the exact moment when we were struck by fire from heaven, and a tragedy whose end is nowhere in sight began for us.
© Gore Vidal
Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 06:10 GMT 07:10 UK
The US knew Bin Laden followers were planning attacks
US President George W Bush has said he will now back holding an independent investigation into intelligence failings in the months leading up to the 11 September attacks.
Previously the White House had said such an investigation would divert the authorities from fighting terror.
The announcement of the policy reversal comes after new information emerged at a congressional hearing, highlighting poor communications between intelligence agencies.
Specifically it has been revealed that some of the hijackers were known to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for nearly two years before the attacks.
But when an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wanted to pursue one of them just weeks before the attacks, permission was denied. [by WHOM?!]
The BBC's Steve Kingstone says calls for the inquiry have proved impossible to resist in light of what has surfaced when CIA and FBI officials testified anonymously in a joint House-Senate investigation on Friday.
It appears now that at least 20 months before the attacks the CIA was aware of three of the men who would eventually take part in the attacks.
There was intelligence linking them to al-Qaeda, and in January 2000 two of them entered the US.
But the CIA only issued an alert on 23 August, and by then the men were out sight - in the final stages of planning the attacks.
Even after that, an FBI agent in New York was denied permission to pursue one of the men - Khalid al-Mihdar - using his office's full resources.
He said his superiors told him that the matter could not be pursued because the "wall" separating intelligence matters from criminal investigation could not be breached.
"Someday, someone will die, and... the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain problems," the agent warned in reply in his e-mail.
CIA agents identified Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi as "terrorists" after they attended an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000.
But the agency failed to share the information, and the two men were able to enter the US and live openly using their real names in California.
The men were able to board a major airline flight, and - along with three accomplices - crash the plane into the Pentagon.
Our correspondent says that what is so embarrassing is that the intelligence chain only appears to have been broken after the hijackers arrived in the US.
"Everything that could have gone wrong, did," a CIA officer was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying during the congressional hearings.
"This was failure piled upon failure," Democratic senator Carl Levin, said.
Cairo | Reuters | 06-09-2002 -
The White House said on Wednesday U.S. President George W. Bush believed there was enough evidence to justify ousting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Bush has said he will ask Congress to back possible military action against Iraq and will outline the threat posed by its arms programme at the United Nations this month.
Resolutions issued by the foreign ministers from 20 Arab states called for a "complete rejection of threats of aggression against some Arab countries, in particular Iraq".
The brief statement did not specifically refer to weapons inspectors, but Moussa said the ministers had agreed they must be allowed back as part of an overall solution to the crisis.
"We will continue to work to avoid a military confrontation or a military action because we believe that it will open the gates of hell in the Middle East," Moussa told reporters at the end of the two-day meeting.
"When it comes to the issue of Iraq, yes indeed, we again reiterate the importance of the full implementation of Security Council resolutions. We are for the return of the inspectors within an agreement, an understanding, between the government of Iraq and the secretary-general of the United Nations," he said.
The United States says it has not decided whether or not to use force to oust Saddam, whom Washington accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction. Iraq denies the charge.
Many countries insist that Iraq should be given a chance to readmit weapons inspectors before any strike is considered.
05 Sep 2002 13:54 BST http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=searchNews&storyID=1413734
CAIRO (Reuters) - Arab League chief Amr Moussa says that a strike against Iraq would "open the gates of hell" in the Middle East, and he is urging Baghdad to readmit weapons inspectors in coordination with the United Nations.
"We hope and we will continue to work to avert war or any military action...We will continue to work to avoid a military confrontation or a military action because we believe that it will open the gates of hell in the Middle East," he said at the end of a two-day Arab foreign ministers' meeting on Thursday.
"When it comes to the issue of Iraq, yes indeed, we again reiterate the importance of the full implementation of Security Council resolutions. We are for the return of the inspectors within an agreement, an understanding, between the government of Iraq and the secretary-general of the United Nations."
Moussa made the comments at a news conference amid heightened concern the United States would launch a military strike against Iraq, which Washington accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction. Iraq denies the charge.
U.S. President George W. Bush has said he would ask Congress to back possible military action against Iraq and would outline the threat posed by Iraq's arms programme at the United Nations later this month.
There is something almost comical about the prospect of George Bush waging war on another nation because that nation has defied international law. Since Bush came to office, the United States government has torn up more international treaties and disregarded more UN conventions than the rest of the world has in 20 years.
It has scuppered the biological weapons convention while experimenting, illegally, with biological weapons of its own. It has refused to grant chemical weapons inspectors full access to its laboratories, and has destroyed attempts to launch chemical inspections in Iraq. It has ripped up the anti-ballistic missile treaty, and appears to be ready to violate the nuclear test ban treaty. It has permitted CIA hit squads to recommence covert operations of the kind that included, in the past, the assassination of foreign heads of state. It has sabotaged the small arms treaty, undermined the international criminal court, refused to sign the climate change protocol and, last month, sought to immobilise the UN convention against torture so that it could keep foreign observers out of its prison camp in Guantanamo Bay. Even its preparedness to go to war with Iraq without a mandate from the UN security council is a defiance of international law far graver than Saddam Hussein's non-compliance with UN weapons inspectors.
But the US government's declaration of impending war has, in truth, nothing to do with weapons inspections. On Saturday John Bolton, the US official charged, hilariously, with "arms control", told the Today programme that "our policy ... insists on regime change in Baghdad and that policy will not be altered, whether inspectors go in or not". The US government's justification for whupping Saddam has now changed twice. At first, Iraq was named as a potential target because it was "assisting al-Qaida". This turned out to be untrue. Then the US government claimed that Iraq had to be attacked because it could be developing weapons of mass destruction, and was refusing to allow the weapons inspectors to find out if this were so. Now, as the promised evidence has failed to materialise, the weapons issue has been dropped. The new reason for war is Saddam Hussein's very existence. This, at least, has the advantage of being verifiable. It should surely be obvious by now that the decision to wage war on Iraq came first, and the justification later.
Other than the age-old issue of oil supply, this is a war without strategic purpose. The US government is not afraid of Saddam Hussein, however hard it tries to scare its own people. There is no evidence that Iraq is sponsoring terrorism against America. Saddam is well aware that if he attacks another nation with weapons of mass destruction, he can expect to be nuked. He presents no more of a threat to the world now than he has done for the past 10 years.
But the US government has several pressing domestic reasons for going to war. The first is that attacking Iraq gives the impression that the flagging "war on terror" is going somewhere. The second is that the people of all super-dominant nations love war. As Bush found in Afghanistan, whacking foreigners wins votes. Allied to this concern is the need to distract attention from the financial scandals in which both the president and vice-president are enmeshed. Already, in this respect, the impending war seems to be working rather well.
The United States also possesses a vast military-industrial complex that is in constant need of conflict in order to justify its staggeringly expensive existence. Perhaps more importantly than any of these factors, the hawks who control the White House perceive that perpetual war results in the perpetual demand for their services. And there is scarcely a better formula for perpetual war, with both terrorists and other Arab nations, than the invasion of Iraq. The hawks know that they will win, whoever loses. In other words, if the US were not preparing to attack Iraq, it would be preparing to attack another nation. The US will go to war with that country because it needs a country with which to go to war.
Tony Blair also has several pressing reasons for supporting an invasion. By appeasing George Bush, he placates Britain's rightwing press. Standing on Bush's shoulders, he can assert a claim to global leadership more credible than that of other European leaders, while defending Britain's anomalous position as a permanent member of the UN security council. Within Europe, his relationship with the president grants him the eminent role of broker and interpreter of power.
By invoking the "special relationship", Blair also avoids the greatest challenge any prime minister has faced since the second world war. This challenge is to recognise and act upon the conclusion of any objective analysis of global power: namely that the greatest threat to world peace is not Saddam Hussein, but George Bush. The nation that in the past has been our firmest friend is becoming instead our foremost enemy.
As the US government discovers that it can threaten and attack other nations with impunity, it will surely soon begin to threaten countries that have numbered among its allies. As its insatiable demand for resources prompts ever bolder colonial adventures, it will come to interfere directly with the strategic interests of other quasi-imperial states. As it refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of the use of those resources, it threatens the rest of the world with environmental disaster. It has become openly contemptuous of other governments and prepared to dispose of any treaty or agreement that impedes its strategic objectives. It is starting to construct a new generation of nuclear weapons, and appears to be ready to use them pre-emptively. It could be about to ignite an inferno in the Middle East, into which the rest of the world would be sucked.
The United States, in other words, behaves like any other imperial power. Imperial powers expand their empires until they meet with overwhelming resistance.
For Britain to abandon the special relationship would be to accept that this is happening. To accept that the US presents a danger to the rest of the world would be to acknowledge the need to resist it. Resisting the United States would be the most daring reversal of policy a British government has undertaken for over 60 years.
We can resist the US neither by military nor economic means, but we can resist it diplomatically. The only safe and sensible response to American power is a policy of non-cooperation. Britain and the rest of Europe should impede, at the diplomatic level, all US attempts to act unilaterally. We should launch independent efforts to resolve the Iraq crisis and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. And we should cross our fingers and hope that a combination of economic mismanagement, gangster capitalism and excessive military spending will reduce America's power to the extent that it ceases to use the rest of the world as its doormat. Only when the US can accept its role as a nation whose interests must be balanced with those of all other nations can we resume a friendship that was once, if briefly, founded upon the principles of justice.
With his customary northern common sense, Keith Waterhouse recently pointed out that you cannot fight a war against an abstract noun. He was referring, of course, to the so-called war on terrorism. It is an indication that the papers have finally taken the point that more of them are nowadays inclined to surround the expression with inverted commas, to show that it doesn't really mean anything except for crude propaganda purposes.
Constant use of the word terrorist by propagandists has also ensured that even this is nowadays almost meaningless. As Robert Fisk wrote some years ago in his book, Pity the Nation : 'Terrorists are those who use violence against the side that is using the word.'
The point is well made considering the current India/Pakistan situation. The Indians are preparing to go to war largely because of the attacks being made on their country by Pakistani 'terrorists'.
But in our papers, these people are usually referred to as 'militants'. To be a terrorist in the eyes of Mr Bush, Mr Blair or the British press, they would have to pose a threat to our side. And then Pakistan might even find itself included in the 'axis of evil', along with the other baddies like Iran and Iraq. But because the Pakistani government has been conciliatory to the US in its war in Afghanistan, it will not be considered evil and those who are busy bombing and mutilating their neighbours will remain, not terrorists, but merely militants.
So now Osama bin Laden is Hitler. And Saddam Hussein is Hitler. And George Bush is fighting the Nazis. Not since Menachem Begin fantasised to President Reagan that he felt he was attacking Hitler in Berlin his Israeli army was actually besieging Beirut, killing thousands of civilians, "Hitler" being the pathetic Arafat have we had to listen to claptrap like this. But the fact that we Europeans had to do so in the Bundestag on Thursday and, for the most part, in respectful silence was extraordinary.
I'm reminded of the Israeli columnist who, tired of the wearying invocation of the Second World War to justify yet more Israeli brutality, began an article with the words: "Mr Prime Minister, Hitler is dead." Must we, forever, live under the shadow of a war that was fought and won before most of us were born? Do we have to live forever with living, diminutive politicians playing Churchill (Thatcher and, of course, Blair) or Roosevelt? "He's a dictator who gassed his own people," Mr Bush reminded us for the two thousandth time, omitting as always to mention that the Kurds whom Saddam viciously gassed were fighting for Iran and that the United States, at the time, was on Saddam's side.
But there is a much more serious side to this. Mr Bush is hoping to corner the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, into a new policy of threatening Iran. He wants the Russians to lean on the northern bit of the "axis of evil", the infantile phrase which he still trots out to the masses. More and more, indeed, Mr Bush's rhetoric sounds like the crazed videotapes of Mr bin Laden. And still he tries to lie about the motives for the crimes against humanity of 11 September. Yet again, in the Bundestag, he insisted that the West's enemies hated "justice and democracy", even though most of America's Muslim enemies wouldn't know what democracy was.
In the United States, the Bush administration is busy terrorising Americans. There will be nuclear attacks, bombs in high-rise apartment blocks, on the Brooklyn bridge, men with exploding belts note how carefully the ruthless Palestinian war against Israeli colonisation of the West Bank is being strapped to America's ever weirder "war on terror" and yet more aircraft suiciders. If you read the words of President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and the ridiculous national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, over the past three days, you'll find they've issued more threats against Americans than Mr bin Laden.
But let's get back to the point. The growing evidence that Israel's policies are America's policies in the Middle East or, more accurately, vice versa is now being played out for real in statements from Congress and on American television. First, we have the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee announcing that Hizbollah the Lebanese guerrilla force that drove Israel's demoralised army out of Lebanon in the year 2000 is planning attacks in the US. After that, we had an American television network "revealing" that Hizbollah, Hamas and al- Qa'ida Mr bin Laden's organisation have held a secret meeting in Lebanon to plot attacks on the US.
American journalists insist on quoting "sources" but there was, of course, no sourcing for this balderdash, which is now repeated ad nauseam in the American media. Then take the "Syrian Accountability Act" that was introduced into the US Senate by Israel's friends on18 April. This includes the falsity uttered earlier by Israel's Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, that Iranian Revolutionary Guards "operate freely" on the southern Lebanese border. Now there haven't been Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon let alone the south of the country for 18 years. So why is this lie repeated yet again?
Iran is under threat. Lebanon is under threat. Syria is under threat its "terrorism" status has been heightened by the State Department and so is Iraq. But Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister held personally responsible by Israel's own enquiry for the Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1,700 Palestinians in Beirut in 1982, is according to Mr Bush "a man of peace". How much further can this go? A long way, I fear.
The anti-American feeling throughout the Middle East is palpable. Arab newspaper editorials don't come near to expressing public opinion. In Damascus, Majida Tabbaa has become famous as the lady who threw the US Consul Roberto Powers out of her husband's downtown restaurant on 7 April . "I went over to him," she said, "and told him, 'Mr Roberto, tell your George Bush that all of you are not welcome please get out'." Across the Arab world, boycotts of American goods have begun in earnest.
How much longer can this go on? America praises Pakistani President Musharraf for his support in the "war on terror", but remains silent when he arranges a dictatorial "referendum" to keep him in power. America's enemies, remember, hate the US for its "democracy". So is General Musharraf going to feel the heat? Forget it. My guess is that Pakistan's importance in the famous "war on terror" or "war for civilisation" as, we should remember, it was originally called is far more important. If Pakistan and India go to war, I'll wager a lot that Washington will come down for undemocratic Pakistan against democratic India.
Across the former Soviet southern Muslim republics, America is building air bases, helping to pursue the "war on terror" against any violent Muslim Islamist groups that dare to challenge the local dictators. Please do not believe that this is about oil. Do not for a moment think that these oil and gas-rich lands have any economic importance for the oil-fuelled Bush administration. Nor the pipelines that could run from northern Afghanistan to the Pakistani coast if only that pesky Afghan loya jirga could elect a government that would give concessions to Unocal, the oddly named concession whose former boss just happens to be a chief Bush "adviser" to Afghanistan.
Now here's pause for thought. Abdelrahman al-Rashed writes in the international Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat that if anyone had said prior to 11 September that Arabs were plotting a vast scheme to murder thousands of Americans in the US, no one would have believed them. "We would have charged that this was an attempt to incite the American people against Arabs and Muslims," he wrote. And rightly so.
But Arabs did commit the crimes against humanity of 11 September. And many Arabs greatly fear that we have yet to see the encore from the same organisation. In the meantime, Mr Bush goes on to do exactly what his enemies want; to provoke Muslims and Arabs, to praise their enemies and demonise their countries, to bomb and starve Iraq and give uncritical support to Israel and maintain his support for the dictators of the Middle East.
Each morning now, I awake beside the Mediterranean in Beirut with a feeling of great foreboding. There is a firestorm coming. And we are blissfully ignoring its arrival; indeed, we are provoking it.
by Michael Davidson, FTW Staff Writer
-- It's not a good idea to go up against the powers that be with an idea that calls into question generally accepted wisdom. Galileo contradicted the Roman Catholic Church when he said the Earth revolved around the sun. He was put in jail, and it took a few hundred years for the church to exonerate him and admit he was correct. Hopefully, a fate similar to Galileo's will not befall Cynthia McKinney.
McKinney is the representative from the 4th district of Georgia. The district includes Decatur, just outside Atlanta. McKinney is a Democrat, black, and, obviously, a woman. Three strikes in an area that has sent the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr to Congress.
On March 25 McKinney was interviewed by telephone on Flashpoints, an independent radio program produced and hosted by Dennis Bernstein and broadcast on Pacifica station KPFA in Berkeley, Calif. The congresswoman read a roughly 10-minute statement, then answered questions and chatted with Bernstein for another 16 or so minutes. A major portion of McKinney's statement concerned U.S. actions in Africa, and contained stinging attacks of the Clinton administration, particularly former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She also discussed the high incarceration rate of blacks, their treatment by the police, and the actual mechanics of the massive voter fraud in Florida that benefited George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential election. Rep. McKinney also pointed out how the current administration has created a climate in which elected officials need to censor themselves lest their patriotism be questioned. Only a few sentences in the almost 30-minute segment were her comments about the need for an investigation into what the Bush Administration knew prior to the events of 9-11. Two-and-a-half weeks later on April 12, an article appeared in the Washington Post about McKinney's appearance on Flashpoints. The article was written by Juliet Eilperin, a Post staff writer who says a colleague received the show's transcript in an anonymous e-mail, and passed it along to her. Eilperin's article was headlined, "Democrat Implies Sept. 11 Administration Plot."
What McKinney actually said was the American people deserve a full, complete and no-holds-barred investigation of the events involving 9-11, and what the Bush administration knew and when they knew it. Every single question McKinney raised was based on information readily available from mainstream media sources. Among the issues McKinney raised regarding 9-11 were: - The warnings from several foreign governments to the highest levels of the U.S. government that were ignored; - The huge profits made in sophisticated stock transactions involving several airlines, brokerages and insurance firms whose stock prices were affected dramatically by 9-11; - The relationship between the oil company Unocal and the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan; - The relationship between the administration and the Carlyle Group, an investment firm with major defense holdings for whom the president's father works; - The requests by both the president and vice president that any congressional investigations into 9-11 not be particularly intense or lengthy; - The huge profits persons close to the administration will make thanks to increased defense spending.
Almost immediately after the Washington Post article, the administration, the mainstream media and its pundits shifted into overdrive, floored the pedal, and wound the smear engine right to the redline. Interestingly, no one has challenged the accuracy of a single word McKinney said. What has been said, in a variety of ways, is that her call for a complete investigation is an indication that McKinney is either "crazy" or "treacherous."
In the original Washington Post article, Bush spokesman Scott McLellan was quoted as saying The American people know the facts, and they dismiss such ludicrous, baseless views." Carlyle Group spokesman Chris Ullman posed the question "Did she say these things while standing on a grassy knoll in Roswell, New Mexico?"
That same day, April 12, "Representative Awful was posted on National Review Online by Jonah Goldberg, son of Lucianne Goldberg -- literary agent, Linda Tripp crony, and former Nixon dirty trickster. National Review was founded by William F. Buckley, whose family fortune was made in the oil business. Goldberg dismissed McKinney's suggestion for an investigation, saying "I am not aware of any evidence that Ms. McKinney has murdered several children or that she personally profited from sleeping with the entire defensive squad of the Atlanta Falcons." He then goes on to say that the congresswoman is suffering "paranoid, America-hating, crypto-Marxist conspiratorial delusions."
Anyone who remembers the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings will remember Anita Hill was described as "a little bit nutty, a little bit slutty." Apparently, Goldberg has learned some big words to repeat the easy smear used against any black woman to the left of Condoleezza Rice. Keep in mind that in an Oct. 29 attack piece on McKinney Goldberg wrote, "Taking black politicians seriously pays them a compliment." Next, McKinney's hometown newspaper took up the charge. An April 13 Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) article by staff writer Melanie Eversley reported that Democratic Georgia Sen. Zell Miller issued a "bristling" statement saying her on-air comments were "dangerous and irresponsible."
Not being content to dismiss the legitimate, American ideas of dissent and question, Miller made a sarcastic comment about McKinney attempting to get kissed by President Bush. Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer, is quoted: "All I can tell you is the congresswoman must be running for the hall of fame of the Grassy Knoll Society." Interesting that the "grassy knoll" allusion was made twice by people connected to the administration, yet they will not dispute her facts. The AJC article also quotes Emory University political scientist Merle Black: "It reinforces the view among serious people in her district that she's a very ineffective representative if this is how she chooses to spend her political capital." Apparently there are very few "serious" people Black will be able to "reinforce" with his totally "unscientific" opinion, as McKinney has won five elections in a row, with her lowest margin of victory being 58 percent.
Along with Eversley's article, AJC put up a poll on its website asking the question, "Are you satisfied the Bush administration had no advance warning of the Sept. 11 attacks?" A visitor could vote "Yes," "No, I think officials knew it was coming" or "I'm not sure. Congress should investigate."
Within hours, the "No, I think officials knew it was coming" vote led the "Yes" vote 51 percent to 47 percent, with two percent "Not sure." The ultra-conservative website FreeRepublic.com alerted its viewers and encouraged them to vote against McKinney, to no avail. The vote seesawed back and forth across the 50 percent mark, each side holding a slim lead at various points throughout the day. By mid-afternoon 23,145 people had voted. "Yes" (anti-McKinney) had 52 percent, "No" (pro-McKinney) had 46 percent, and "Not sure" had one percent. Forty-seven percent of voters do not believe the story the world has been told by the Bush Administration. Then, the poll vanished. Gone. Disappeared. Not there.
People signed on to vote, but there was no poll to vote at. The article was there, but the poll was gone. There was no explanation. On April 21, AJC columnist Mike King explained what happened.
"The responses broke down the tabulator we use to keep track of the votes." So can we assume, then, when Mr. King gets a flat tire he throws the entire car away and abandons his trip?
King goes on at great length to inform the reader that even if the poll had not been taken down due to "mechanical problems," the poll was meaningless anyway because "groups and people who believe there is evidence of a conspiracy in the attacks urged friends to vote on ajc.com to send Congress a message of the need to investigate."
This undoubtedly occurred, as did urging from the other side which King makes no mention of. He also says that voters were not "scientifically" chosen to represent a broad cross-section of views and that "most online polls are really just opportunities to register an opinion." How registering an opinion differs from a vote will be left for Noah Webster to explain. Another online poll has been running regarding McKinney's call for a thorough investigation. This one is at truthout.com, an online digest of articles being published in the mainstream media. While truthout readers are undoubtedly more open to McKinney's ideas than the general public, at press time, the poll shows 5,616 supporting the congresswoman versus 80 opposing her. Truthout also reports McKinney's call for a 9-11 investigation is supported by two additional members of the House -- Democrats Loretta Sanchez of California and Major Owens of New York.
Interestingly, while truthout is a non-profit organization entirely dependent on donations, it has had no problems keeping its poll functioning, while the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a major for-profit entity, claims they could not.
With the AJC poll having turned into a debacle, the forces arrayed against McKinney became desperate, and the smear became vicious. On April 16, the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) released a report claiming 21 percent of McKinney's 1999-2000 campaign contributions of over $101 came from Arab or Middle-Eastern-connected individuals and organizations. The report states among the organizations donating to McKinney's campaign are "the American-Muslim Council and the Council on American/Islamic Relations, both of which maintain ties or have expressed support for terrorist organizations."
Phil Kent, SLF president, is quoted in the report: "If we are to give any credence to her baseless claims, the American people deserve to know that McKinney's financial 'relationships' -- her campaign contributors -- are heavily represented by Arab and Middle Eastern-connected individuals, as well as organizations which have expressed sympathy for terrorist organizations." Here we have examples of how McKinney's call for an investigation morphs into "claims," and how an investigation into her is acceptable, while one into the Bush Administration is not. The SLF report flew around the Internet, and was posted on several conservative websites. It was generally headlined to the effect, "McKinney Supported by Terrorists."
SLF was founded in 1976 and has received major financial support from Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire reactionary who funded the 10-year effort to destroy President Bill Clinton. In 2000 the Democratic National Committee accused the SLF of sending a quarter-million deceptive pieces of mail designed to interfere with that year's census and result in inaccurate congressional representation. In issue after issue during its 26 years, SLF has consistently taken vehement anti-black, anti-environment, anti-worker, anti-gay, and anti-public education positions. They are currently preparing litigation to invalidate portions of the Bush-signed McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan campaign reform legislation. Some in the Atlanta area believe SLF's long-range goal is overturning the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
SLF describes itself as "an Atlanta-based public interest law firm which advocates limited government, individual economic freedom, and the free enterprise system in the courts of law and public opinion. SLF's website includes links to other reactionary groups including the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, Federalist Society, and the Conservative Caucus Foundation. Along with links to expected conservative media outlets such as WorldNetDaily, Drudge, and the Conservative News Service, SLF links itself to Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Matthew Glavin was SLF president and chief executive from 1994 to 2000, and devoted a tremendous amount of energy, and Scaife's money, trying to get Bill Clinton disbarred in Arkansas for his alleged perjury in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Glavin, however, was forced to abandon these efforts, and resign after he was arrested for fondling himself in public. According to an Oct. 4, 2000 report on CNSNEWS.com, an affiliate of the above-mentioned Conservative News Service, an undercover federal officer found Glavin masturbating near a parking lot in the Chattahoochee National River Park in Atlanta, an area said to be popular with homosexual cruisers. The arresting officer says that he, himself, was fondled lewdly when he spoke to Glavin on Oct. 13, 2000. The AJC reported Glavin had pled guilty and was sentenced to a year's probation.
On April 22 SLF sent a letter to House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt demanding McKinney be removed from her seats on both the House Armed Services and International Relations committees, citing the above-mentioned campaign donations from Middle Eastern contributors. That same day, an identical request using virtually identical language was made by the African-American Republican Leadership Council (AARLC). Like SLF, AARLC also requested an ethics investigation of McKinney. Additionally, AARLC has also asked the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Eddie Bernie Johnson, D-Texas, to suspend McKinney from that group. This is a transparent ploy to intimidate and divide black members of Congress, lest their patriotism be questioned.
Also on April 22, an article was posted on the website of Human Events, the National Conservative Weekly. Written by David Freddoso, it's headlined "Feds Searched Offices of Seven McKinney Donors." Many Arab names are listed as well as several organizations, some of which have names with Arab or Islamic references. Going into excruciating detail, Freddoso lists names of individuals, organizations, dollar amounts, dates of search warrants, judges signing search warrants (interestingly, copies of search warrants were allegedly obtained by Human Events), and the connections between all these details. Then, Freddoso writes, "None of the McKinney contributors has been charged with any crime, a Customs spokesman said." Apparently, Freddoso finds not being charged with a crime to be news.
Britains The Guardian reported March 25 on a recent FBI raid. The Republican Party was accepting sizeable donations to a political action committee called The Islamic Institute from an alleged terrorist support group, the Safa Trust. It seems that the Safa Trust had been sending money to both the Republican Party and to terrorist groups at the same time. This reported direct linkage between terrorist funding and the Republican Party was conveniently ignored, while McKinney was attacked with much weaker allegations. These backfired too.
SLF's report, AARLC's letter, and Freddoso's article all specifically discuss donations to McKinney from Abdurahman Alamoudi, founder and executive director of the American Muslim Council (AMC). According to an April 24 article at onlinejournal.com, AMC supported George W. Bush in the 2000 campaign and donated money to him. Bush also invited Alamoudi to the Sept. 14 prayer service for the 9-11 victims at the National Cathedral. Additionally, long-time Bush associate Grover Norquist has been doing business with Alamoudi, and is a registered lobbyist for the Islamic Institute. According to the Oct. 4 issue of the Boston Phoenix, Norquist's firm, Janus-Merritt Strategies LLC, has been paid over $20,000 by Alamoudi.
Despite Alamoudi's Republican connections, his donation to McKinney is used as the "smoking gun" in the April 22 column by nationally syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker. Parker has been one of the most prolific members of the "get McKinney" team, jumping into the smear campaign with all four paws. Parker wrote about McKinney's radio comments on April 17 and 22. She's very upset. In the April 17 column, Parker dreams of inaugurating "The McKinney Award -- for people too stupid to serve in public office." Further on, Parker, like everyone participating in the smear campaign, claims that McKinney said Bush knew of the impending 9-11 attacks, and accused the president of mass murder. She also picks up Jonah Goldberg's pathetic attempt at sarcasm, writing "A complete investigation also might prove that McKinney has been dropping acid and living with cross-dressing dental hygienists under the Brooklyn Bridge." What is it about outspoken black women that makes right-wing nut jobs attribute unusual sexual behavior to them?
In her April 22 column, Parker reiterates her lie as to what McKinney actually said. She goes on: "She's black, which means people give her a pass lest they be perceived racist." Parker quotes an unnamed "e-mailer" who quotes a friend in Ramallah: "If you see 'Cynth,' kindly tell her that Arab TV networks appreciate her comments for they now have the needed 'proof' that their paranoia is rational." Parker closes: "None of which is to suggest that Cynthia McKinney is a terrorist, or a terrorist sympathizer, or even a socialist rabble-rouser who despises her own country. On the other hand, using McKinney's own talent for inferential dot-connecting, she just might be."
Despite finding nice ways to call McKinney a terrorist and traitor, Parker strenuously defends her independence and complete lack of bias. In her April 24 column, which is about so-called "conspiracy theories," Parker wrote, "I'm told, for instance, that I'm paid by the right-wing propaganda machine, given my support of most Bush policies in the wake of 9-11 and my rejection of current conspiracy theories.You're being paid to lie to the American people,' wrote one of my new friends. Here's the truth: I know of no reporter, editor or columnist in the Western hemisphere who wouldn't sell his mother's honeymoon pictures for a good story, no matter whose life gets ruined.
No one, especially a president, is off limits when truth is at stake, not to mention Pulitzers." Perhaps Parker found a new dedication to Truth after writing two consecutive columns filled with lies, innuendo and character assassination. The story about McKinney's comments on the Flashpoints radio show traveled around the media for about 12 days, then just petered out. Several newspapers ran editorials condemning her, including the AJC and the New York Post. Comments and asides were made about her on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. Generally, she was described as crazy, pro-Iraqi, a conspiracy theorist, irresponsible or dangerous, but it didn't seem to work. The public wasn't responding with the sense of outrage the media is used to being able to create.
On April 17 ABCNews.com ran a piece by Dean Schabner headed, "What Consensus? Conspiracy Theorist Immune to the Widespread Support For War on Terror." First line: "When the government said evidence pointed to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, other voices wondered why investigators weren't looking in other directions." The article, about three pages, lays out many of the beliefs that, apparently, a lot of people have, and discusses them in a calm, measured manner. While Schabner does eventually get around to dismissing everything but the official story as "conspiracy theories," his words and the words of the "experts" he quotes don't have the wild-eyed hatred and anger that the stories about McKinney generally do. Schabner comes close to giving the "non-believers" a degree of respect.
The acceptability of alternate explanations for 9-11 may be growing for a very simple reason. According to a poll taken in late-April by Scott Rasmussen Public Opinion Research, 36 percent of Americans believe Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election. Over a third of America's citizens believe the man occupying the White House to be a fraud! With such a large portion of the country believing George W. Bush is not really the president, it's not hard to understand why almost half of the voters in the AJC poll indicated they do not believe the Bush Administration's story about 9-11, and support McKinney's call for a full investigation. Whenever Bush allies try to impose new police-state tactics on Americans, such as warrantless searches, random drug tests, racial profiling, or stop-and-frisk laws, they always say, "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. It's just a minor inconvenience for the public good."
If the Bush Administration keeps repeating that mantra, then they should have no trouble supporting McKinneys call for a full and complete investigation into 9-11.
Due to the very nature of their task, soldiers of fortune - or mercenaries - have played a destabilising role throughout history, and whereas in the past their paymasters have been such as Alexander the Great, and feudal barons, in todays capitalist world their paymasters are fast becoming business corporations.
In his study of mercenaries, David Isenberg notes this phenomenon, stressing that.."the important distinction here is that such firms are bound by the terms of a business contract and not necessarily those of international law". On the face of it, this would seem to mean that nothing much has changed since those earlier days of Alexander and the barons, but in view of the enormous potency of modern weaponry coupled with the increasingly global spread of capitalism - with its inherent inequitable class structure - it follows that today the destabilising role of these mercenary groups now poses a far greater and more wide-spread hazard than in times past. Furthermore, this hazard is exacerbated when, as in the case of Western capitalist democracies, the corporate establishment wields immense political clout. This is particularly true of the USA - that quintessential dominant capitalist state, with its de facto corporate-controlled Administration.
The most influential of these American mercenary groups is the Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) which, to quote its website homepage "is a professional services company engaged in defense related contracting in the USA and international markets". A brief resume of some of the more high-profile board members since its incorporation in 1988 confirms its prestigious standing within the military/Intelligence community (though it is of interest to note that these Washington-based corporate mercenaries - all retired military officers - are known , among themselves, as beltway bandits. This is justified cynicism):
President/CEO: General Carl E. Vuono (US Army Chief of Staff 87 to 92 - and, as such, oversaw both the invasion of Panama and the Gulf War)
Snr.Vice-Pres.: General Crosbie Butch Saint (Commander US Army Europe 88 to 92)
Executive Vice-Pres.: General Richard H. Griffith (Asst. US Army Commander Intelligence in Europe 89 to 91)
Vice-Pres Operations: General Ed Soyster (Asst. US Commander Europe 82; later Head of Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] - retired 88)
As for its contracts in the USA and international markets quoted above, it is important to keep in mind that the vast majority of these are with the US government, but, in view of Americas increasingy intrusive advance eastwards since the fall of the Soviet Union, it is equally inevitable that MPRIs involvement in international markets is increasing - as the following list of some of the events in which it played a pivotal role illustrates (MPRI has been - and is - active in a number of regions, including Columbia, Africa and the Caucasus, but the Balkans will be the only region covered here because: (1) of its importance on the stage of contemporary world politics; (2) it exemplifies, in a concise manner, MPRIs activities; and (3) it falls within the constraints of an article of this length):
(a) In 1994, a contract - titled Democracy Transition Assistance Program (DTAP) - was agreed between the Croat defense minister and the US Deputy Secretary of Defense, John Deutch (who subsequently became Director of CIA from 95 until he was forced to resign the following year beacause he had improperly stored classified information on his personal computer disc!). The contract was awarded to MPRI who would train and equip the Croatian army under the command of retired General Richard Griffith (see above). This resulted in the Croatian attack on the Serbs in West Krajina, in which more than 150,000 Serbs fled the region. The efficiency of this attack was largely due to a tactic known as Airland Battle 2000, the brainchild of General Crosbie Butch Saint (see above) at the special training center, TRADOC, under the command of Genl Vuono (see above). It is worthy of note that DTAP, in effect, violated the 1991 UN Security Council embargo on Yugoslavia which made direct military assistance illegal.
(b) In May 96, in the aftermath of the Drayton Peace Accord, MPRI was awarded a 3-year contract (subsequently renewed) to train & equip the Bosnian Muslim/Croat army - again under the command of General Griffith. This was financed by the Pentagon and five Muslim countries, the Pentagon supplying a significant amount of its surplus weaponry (including 45 tanks, 80 armoured personnel carriers, et al.). MPRI was also given a contract by the State Department to monitor the Serbia/Bosnia border to ensure that the former did not supply the Bosnian Serbs with weapons.
(c) In the aftermath of NATOs bombing of Kosovo in 1999, the KLA (once rightly considered by the Western Powers as terrorists) was transformed into the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) and the MPRI was awarded the contract to train & equip same - again under the command of General Griffith. Intriguingly, the commander of this newly-formed KPC was one Brigadier General Agim Ceku, an Albanian Kosovan who had been serving in the Croatian army when: (1) according to Janes Defence Weekly of 10th June 99, he had "masterminded the successful HV (Croatian army) offensive at Medak in September 93"; and (2) he had played an important role in the Croats routing of the Serbs in Western Krajina (covered above). He was thus well-acquainted with General Griffith.
(d) As confirmed by Major General Metodi Stamboliski of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia (ARM) General Staff in the magazine Defence of April 2000, "Our work has been significantly assisted by the contribution made by the US team known as the MPRI team, headed by the retired general of the US Army, General Richard Griffith"..adding.."Among other things, the MPRI team has also developed a G-3 assistance program". G-3 was the title of the ARM training program. In his article Proxy War in Macedonia Michel Chossudovsky, a Canadian professor, reveals another pertinent fact: namely, that the Chief of Staff of ARM, General Jovan Andrejevski had attended a military school in the USA, under General Griffith.
This government/ private army relationship is generally seen as a case of the former disassociating itself from the actions of the latter (known as out-sourcing in business circles): "We cannot be held responsible for what they do!". This does not stand up to closer scrutiny in the case of MPRI. Here is a company so self-evidently close to the Administration that the two could reasonably be considered one - and inseparable. To quote General Soyster (see above) in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times of 3rd December 2000 regarding MPRIs contract to advise and train Columbias military and police: "They are using us to carry out American foreign policy. We certainly dont determine foreign policy, but we can be part of the US government executing its foreign policy". This poses no problem in America. As Ken Silverstein reveals in his article Privatizing War in The Nation 97: "Congress reviews and can restrict the dispatch of Pentagon military trainers abroad. It has no authority over private trainers, who need only get a licence from the State Department, a process that happens far from view". Such is the nature, the power of a Corporate Administration - to say nothing of its lack of democratic accountability! : In the same article, Silverstein reveals that, while head of the DIA, General Soyster had dealt out a number of contracts to the well-known German arms dealer, Ernst Werner Glatt, for the procurement of Soviet weapons which were then shipped to the USA "from whence they would be sent to Americas proxy troops in Latin America, Asia and Africa. After Soyster retired, he and Glatt became business partners on at least one weapons deal" - adding - " Glatt was the favorite arms merchant of the CIA, which chose him to move arms to the contras in Nicaragua and the mujahedeen in Afghanistan". Silverstein further added that Glatt was supplying weapons to Croatia until "at least late last year" (96), and had bought "a country estate in Virginia, which he named the Black Eagle, a symbol of Nazi Germany."
Having ventured into the hazardous realm of finance - even going to the extent of adding the suffix Incorporated to their companys name - these soldiers of fortune were, presumably, not surprised when, on the 18th of July 2000, they were incorporated into L-3 Communications Corp., a company whose main customers were the US Department of Defense and US government Intelligence agencies - and on whose board sat John M. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Clinton. This is a company specialising in telecommunications and simulating training which had just previously acquired two other firms: SY Technology and Raytheon - both firms engaged in telecommunication and simulation. Intriguingly - and alarmingly - SY Tech. plays a crucial role in the Bush-sponsored Ballistic Missile Defense Organisation - a throw-back to Reagans Star Wars planned project.
L-3 was co-founded in 1997 by Robert LaPenta and Frank Lanza, the latter being its Chairman/CEO. He had previously been Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin, manufacturers of military aircraft, which, in the eyes of those countries on the receiving end of same - such as Germany, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq - would surely classify them as weapons of mass destruction. Not surprisingly, Lockheed owns 34% of L-3s common stock. To quote Forbes magazine of 7th July 02: "Lanza is capitalising on the dramatic change in military strategy over the last decade" (see Airland 2000 Battle above) - to say nothing of the increase in the Defense Departments 2000 budget. Forbes further states that L-3s battlefield simulators & training bring in $400 million in sales each year....and "in the Defense Departments recently released quadrennial review of the military, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld listed battlefield simulation as a priority". Having already noted the clonal relationship between the US Administration and MPRI, it is clearly apparent that this noteworthy merger would not - to put it mildly - have occurred without the formers permission.
Having merged with L-3, MPRI, in November 2000, created its own sub-division, the Alexandria Group, which, in its own words "will provide the highest quality education, training & organisational expertise to law enforcement & corporations around the world"..adding that it is staffed by law enforcement professionals headed by retired FBI Assistant Director Joseph R. Wolfinger. This was certainly a broadening of its professed earlier aims which were, understandably,
martial in nature - as confirmed by the following quote from MPRIs website: "The companys business focus is on military matters, to increase training, equiping, force design & management, professional development, concepts & doctrine, organisational & operational assistance, quick reaction military contractual support, and democracy transition assistance programs for the military forces of emerging republics". There is no contradiction between these two professed aims - rather, it is confirmation that Corporate America is using this tool of mercenaries to infiltrate into under-developed Latin American and African countries, and newly-emerging ex-communist republics in order to ensure (a) its dominance of markets in its advance globally; and (b) that any resistance to this advance can be suppressed by US-trained military forces of those countries.
America is thus ignoring President Eisenhowers warning to the American people in his farewell address when, in his reference to what he termed this military-industrial complex, he warned that "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists - and will persist". Prophetic words!
Conclusion?: The MPRI are mercenaries on a mission - according to the Word of Mammon!
MPRI Official Website
MPRI Unofficial Website http://www.mprisucks.com
Published on Sunday, October 13, 2002 in the http://www.nytimes.com/
by Leslie Wayne
With the war on terror already a year old and the possibility of war against Iraq growing by the day, a modern version of an ancient practice one as old as warfare itself is reasserting itself at the Pentagon. Mercenaries, as they were once known, are thriving only this time they are called private military contractors, and some are even subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies.
The Pentagon cannot go to war without them.
Often run by retired military officers, including three- and four-star generals, private military contractors are the new business face of war. Blurring the line between military and civilian, they provide stand-ins for active soldiers in everything from logistical support to battlefield training and military advice at home and abroad.
American taxpayers already pay $300 billion a year to fund the world's most powerful military. Why should they have to pay a second time in order to privatize our operations? Are we outsourcing in order to avoid public scrutiny, controversy or embarrassment? Is it to hide body bags from the media and thus shield them from public opinion?
US Rep Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat
Some are helping to conduct training exercises using live ammunition for American troops in Kuwait, under the code name Desert Spring. One has just been hired to guard President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, the target of a recent assassination attempt. Another is helping to write the book on airport security. Others have employees who don their old uniforms to work under contract as military recruiters and instructors in R.O.T.C. classes, selecting and training the next generation of soldiers.
In the darker recesses of the world, private contractors go where the Pentagon would prefer not to be seen, carrying out military exercises for the American government, far from Washington's view. In the last few years, they have sent their employees to Bosnia, Nigeria, Macedonia, Colombia and other global hot spots.
Motivated as much by profits as politics, these companies about 35 all told in the United States need the government's permission to be in business. A few are somewhat familiar names, like Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Company that operates for the government in Cuba and Central Asia. Others have more cryptic names, like DynCorp; Vinnell, a subsidiary of TRW; SAIC; ICI of Oregon; and Logicon, a unit of Northrop Grumman. One of the best known, MPRI, boasts of having "more generals per square foot than in the Pentagon."
During the Persian Gulf war in 1991, one of every 50 people on the battlefield was an American civilian under contract; by the time of the peacekeeping effort in Bosnia in 1996, the figure was one in 10. No one knows for sure how big this secretive industry is, but some military experts estimate the global market at $100 billion. As for the public companies that own private military contractors, they say little if anything about them to shareholders.
"Contractors are indispensible," said John J. Hamre, deputy secretary of defense in the Clinton administration. "Will there be more in the future? Yes, and they are not just running the soup kitchens."
That means even more business, and profits, for contractors who perform tasks as mundane as maintaining barracks for overseas troops, as sophisticated as operating weapon systems or as secretive as intelligence-gathering in Africa. Many function near, or even at, the front lines, causing concern among military strategists about their safety and commitment if bullets start to fly.
The use of military contractors raises other troubling questions as well. In peace, they can act as a secret army outside of public view. In war, while providing functions crucial to the combat effort, they are not soldiers. Private contractors are not obligated to take orders or to follow military codes of conduct. Their legal obligation is solely to an employment contract, not to their country.
Private military contractors are flushing out drug traffickers in Colombia and turning the rag-tag militias of African nations into fighting machines. When a United Nations arms embargo restricted the American military in the Balkans, private military contractors were sent instead to train the local forces.
At times, the results have been disastrous.
In Bosnia, employees of DynCorp were found to be operating a sex-slave ring of young women who were held for prostitution after their passports were confiscated. In Croatia, local forces, trained by MPRI, used what they learned to conduct one of the worst episodes of "ethnic cleansing," an event that left more than 100,000 homeless and hundreds dead and resulted in war-crimes indictments. No employee of either firm has ever been charged in these incidents.
In Peru last year, a plane carrying an American missionary and her infant was accidentally shot down when a private military contractor misidentified it as on a drug smuggling flight.
MPRI, formerly known as Military Professionals Resources Inc., may provide the best example of how skilled retired soldiers cash in on their military training. Its roster includes Gen. Carl E. Vuono, the former Army chief of staff who led the gulf war and the Panama invasion; Gen. Crosbie E. Saint, the former commander of the United States Army in Europe; and Gen. Ron Griffith, the former Army vice chief of staff. There are also dozens of retired top-ranked generals, an admiral and more than 10,000 former military personnel, including elite special forces, on call and ready for assignment.
"We can have 20 qualified people on the Serbian border within 24 hours," said Lt. Gen. Harry E. Soyster, the company's spokesman and a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. "The Army can't do that. But contractors can."
For that, MPRI is paid well. Its revenue exceeds $100 million a year, mainly from Pentagon and State Department contracts. Retired military personnel working for MPRI receive two to three times their Pentagon salaries, in addition to their retirement benefits and corporate benefits like stock options and 401(k) plans. MPRI's founders became millionaires in July 2000, when they and about 35 equity holders sold the company for $40 million in cash to L-3 Communications, a military contractor traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Within the military, the use of contractors is Defense Department policy for filling the gaps as the number of troops falls. At the time of the gulf war, there were 780,000 Army troops; today there are 480,000. Over the same period, overall military forces have fallen by 500,000.
Pentagon officials did not respond to many telephone calls and e-mail messages requesting interviews, but they have maintained that contractors are a cost-effective way of extending the military's reach when Congress and the American public are reluctant to pay for more soldiers.
"The main reason for using a contractor is that it saves you from having to use troops, so troops can focus on war fighting," said Col. Thomas W. Sweeney, a professor of strategic logistics at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. "It's cheaper because you only pay for contractors when you use them."
But one person's cost-saving device can be another's "guns for hire," as David Hackworth, a former Army colonel and frequent critic of the military, called them.
"These new mercenaries work for the Defense and State Department and Congress looks the other way," Colonel Hackworth, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, said. "It's a very dangerous situation. It allows us to get into fights where we would be reluctant to send the Defense Department or the C.I.A. The American taxpayer is paying for our own mercenary army, which violates what our founding fathers said."
They are not mercenaries in the classic sense. Most, but not all, private military contractors are unarmed, even when they oversee others with guns. They have even formed a trade group, the International Peace Operations Association, to promote industry standards.
"We don't want to risk getting contracts by being called mercenaries," said Doug Brooks, president of the association. "But we can do things on short notice and keep our mouths shut."
That, some critics say, is part of the problem. By using for-profit soldiers, the government, especially the executive branch, can evade Congressional limits on troop strength. For instance, in Bosnia, where a cap of 20,000 troops was imposed by Congress, the addition of 2,000 contractors helped skirt that restriction.
Contractors also allow the administration to carry out foreign policy goals in low-level skirmishes around the globe often fueled by ethnic hatreds and a surplus of cold war weapons without having to fear the media attention that comes if American soldiers are sent home in body bags.
At least five DynCorp employees have been killed in Latin America, with no public outcry. Denial is easier for the government when those working overseas do not wear uniforms they often wear fatigues or military-looking clothes but not official uniforms.
"If you sent in troops, someone will know; if contractors, they may not," said Deborah Avant, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University and author of many studies on the subject.
Only a few members of Congress have expressed concern about the phenomenon.
"There are inherent difficulties with the increasing use of contactors to carry out U.S. foreign policy," said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the chairman of the foreign operations subcommittee. "This is especially true when it involves `private' soldiers who are not as accountable as U.S. military personnel. Accountability is a serious issue when it comes to carrying guns or flying helicopters in pursuit of U.S. foreign policy goals."
In the House, Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, led the battle against a Bush administration effort to remove the cap that limits the number of American troops in Colombia to 500 and private contractors to 300.
"American taxpayers already pay $300 billion a year to fund the world's most powerful military," Ms. Schakowsky said. "Why should they have to pay a second time in order to privatize our operations? Are we outsourcing in order to avoid public scrutiny, controversy or embarrassment? Is it to hide body bags from the media and thus shield them from public opinion?"
SUCH concerns are hardly slowing the pace across the Potomac, at MPRI in Alexandria, Va. The company may look like hundreds of other white-collar concerns that fill small office buildings in northern Virginia, but there are telltale signs to the contrary: the sword that serves as the corporate logo and conference rooms named the Infantry Room, the Cavalry Room and the Artillery Room. Its art consists of paintings of celebrated battles, largely from the Civil War.
It's hard to tell where the United States military ends and MPRI begins. For the last four years, MPRI has run R.O.T.C. training programs at more than 200 universities, under a contract that has allowed retired military to put their uniforms back on. It recently lost the contract to a lower bidder, but MPRI offset the loss with one to provide former soldiers to run recruitment offices.
The company, which has 900 full-time employees, helps run the United States Army Force Management School at Fort Belvoir. It also provides instructors for advanced training classes at Fort Leavenworth, teaches the Civil Air Patrol and designs courses at Fort Sill, Fort Knox, Fort Lee and other military centers.
The Pentagon has even hired MPRI to help it write military doctrine including the field manual called "Contractors Support on the Battlefield" that sets rules for how the Army should interact with private contractors, like itself.
Overseas, MPRI is, if anything, more active. Under a program it calls "democracy transition," the company has offered countries like Nigeria, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine, Croatia and Macedonia training in American-style warfare, including war games, military instruction and weapons training.
In Croatia, MPRI was brought in to provide border monitors in the early 1990's. Then, in 1994, as the United States grew concerned about the poor quality of the Croatian forces and their ability to maintain regional stability, it turned to MPRI. A United Nations arms embargo in 1991, approved by the United States, prohibited the sale of weapons or the providing of training to any warring party in the Balkans. But the Pentagon referred MPRI to Croatia's defense minister, who hired the company to train its forces.
In 1995, MPRI started doing so, teaching the fledgling army military tactics that MPRI executives had developed while on active duty commanding the gulf war invasion. Several months later, armed with this new training, the Croatian army began Operation Storm, one of the bloodiest episodes of "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans, an event that also reshaped the military balance in the region.
The operation drove more than 100,000 Serbs from their homes in a four-day assault. Investigators for the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague found that the Croatian army carried out summary executions and indiscriminately shelled civilians. "In a widespread and systematic matter, Croatian troops committed murder and other inhumane acts," investigators said in their report. Several Croatian generals in charge of the operation have been indicted for war crimes and are being sought for trial.
"No MPRI employee played a role in planning, monitoring or assisting in Operation Storm," said Lieutenant General Soyster, the MPRI spokesman. He did say that a few Croatian graduates of MPRI's training course participated in the operation.
Yet what happened in Croatia gave MPRI international brand recognition and more business in that region. When Bosnian Muslims balked in 1995 at signing the Dayton peace accords out of fear that their army was ill-equipped to provide sufficient protection, MPRI was called in.
"The Bosnians said they would not sign unless they had help building their army," said Peter Singer, a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution who is writing a book on contractors. "And they said they wanted the same guys who helped the Croatians."
That is who they got. Under a plan worked out by American negotiators, the Bosnian Muslims hired MPRI using money that was provided by a group of Islamic nations, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. These nations deposited money in the United States Treasury, which MPRI drew against.
"It was a brilliant move in that the U.S. government got someone else to pay for what we wanted from a policy standpoint," Mr. Singer said.
At the moment, MPRI is advertising for special forces for antiterrorist operations, is bulking up to train American forces in Kuwait and is looking for people with special skills like basic-training instruction and counterintelligence. Recently, however, it lost a $4.3 million contract to provide training to the army in Colombia when officials there complained about what they called the poor quality of MPRI's services.
In Africa, MPRI has conducted training programs on security issues for about 120 African leaders and more than 5,500 African troops. Most recently, it went toe to toe with the State Department, and won, gaining permission to do business in Equatorial Guinea, a country with a deplorable human rights record where the United States does not have an embassy.
After two years of lobbying at the State Department, and after being turned down twice on human rights grounds, MPRI was finally given approval last year to work with President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, whom the State Department describes as holding power through torture, fraud and a 98 percent election mandate. MPRI advised President Obiang on building a coast guard to protect the oil-rich waters being explored Exxon Mobil off the coast.
More recently, when MPRI and President Obiang proposed that MPRI also help the country build its police and military forces, the State Department objected and the project is now dormant.
"We thought helping the coast guard would be pretty innocuous in terms of human rights," Lieutenant General Soyster of MPRI said. But Ms. Avant of George Washington University disagreed, saying any alliance with United States military contractors would strengthen President Obiang's power.
MPRI is not the only company to have run into problems overseas. DynCorp, a privately held company in Reston, Va., with nearly $2 billion in annual sales, has been tapped to provide protection for Mr. Karzai in Afghanistan. DynCorp also provides worldwide protective services for State Department employees.
In late September, DynCorp settled charges for an undisclosed sum brought by a whistle-blower the company had fired after he complained of a sex ring run by DynCorp employees in Bosnia. In August, a British court, meanwhile, ruled in favor of another former DynCorp employee in a separate whistle-blower case. DynCorp is appealing.
The two employees made similar accusations: that while working in Bosnia, where DynCorp was providing military equipment maintenance services, DynCorp employees kept underaged women as sex slaves, even videotaping a rape. Among the charges was that while the DynCorp employees trafficked in women including buying one for $1,000 the company turned a blind eye. Since the DynCorp employees involved were not soldiers, their actions were not subject to military discipline. Nor did they face local justice; they were simply fired and sent home.
In both cases, after complaining, the two employees who blew the whistle were fired. Ben Johnston, one of them, said last April in Congressional testimony: "DynCorp employees were living off post and owning these children and these women and girls as slaves. Well, that makes all Americans look bad. I believe DynCorp is the worst diplomat our country could ever want overseas."
A DynCorp spokesman, Chuck Taylor, said the company "felt horrible" and held its own internal investigation before firing the employees who operated the ring.
DynCorp also handles aerial anti-narcotics efforts for the United States government in the skies over Colombia and nearby countries where several employees have been killed. Because of Congressional caps on the use of private military contractors, DynCorp has hired local citizens; two were recently killed.
Still, in its recruiting material, the company plays up the excitement of this type of work: "Being the best is never easy and when your office is the cockpit of a twin-engine plane swooping low over the Colombian jungle, the challenges can often be enormous."
Incidents like these sex rings, deals with dictators, misused military training and tragic accidents raise questions about the use of contractors. To whom are they accountable: the United States government or their contract? When such incidents occur, who bears the responsibility?
Moreover, while the general mantra about military privatization is that it saves money, there are few studies to prove the case and in fact, reports exist to the contrary.
For instance, Kellogg Brown & Root, which was paid $2.2 billion to provide logistics support to American troops in the Balkans, was the subject of a General Accounting Office report entitled, "Army Should Do More to Control Contract Costs in the Balkans." The office found that the Army was not exercising enough oversight on Kellogg Brown & Root as contract costs rose, to the benefit of the company. Still, the company continues to pick up new business.
Questions about security and control are even more basic. In the battlefield, a commander cannot give orders to a contractor as he can a soldier. Contractors are not compelled by an oath of office, as soldiers are, but instead by an employment contract that provides little flexibility. Nor are contractors subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Contractors cannot arm themselves they risk losing their status as noncombatants if they do and, in the extreme, could be declared mercenaries and subject to execution if captured. Yet in the gulf war, contractors were in the thick of battle, providing maintenance to tanks and biological and chemical vehicles as well as flying air support.
Should there be a war in Iraq, the line could be even blurrier.
"There are no rear areas anymore," Colonel Sweeney of the Army War College said. With chemical and biological weapons, "no place is safe," he said.
"You can't draw a map and say `no contractors forward of this line,' " he added. "The American concept of combat is to take the battle to the rear areas and be as disruptive as possible. The other guy is thinking the same thing."
One tenet of warfare is that soldiers handling support functions can grab a gun and hit the front lines if needed. While this is often dismissed as a quaint World War II concept, it happened in Somalia in 1993 when Army rangers were in trouble and military supply clerks came to their rescue. When the support staff is filled with contractors, would they do the same? Or would commanders in the field become responsible for the safety of the growing number of contractor employees at the expense of advancing the battle?
The issue is just beginning to generate some attention in military circles.
"We sort of blur the lines," Col. Steven J. Zamparelli of the Air Force said in an interview. In an article in 1999 for the Air Force Journal of Logistics, Colonel Zamaparelli said: "The Department of Defense is gambling future military victory on contractors' performing operational functions in the battlefield."
Others in the military are more blunt about the effect on soldiers. "Are we ultimately trading their blood to save a relatively insignificant amount in the national budget?" said Lt. Col. Lourdes A. Castillo of the Air Force, a logistics expert, in a 2000 article in Aerospace Power Journal. "If this grand experiment undertaken by our national leadership fails during wartime, the results will be unthinkable."
Last week marked the anniversaries of three landmark events that paved the way for the further erosion of our personal freedoms we face today. Nine years ago, the FBI ended a stand-off that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had begun 51 days earlier, resulting in the deaths of 82 Branch Davidians, including 30 women and 25 children -- guilty only of being members of a religious commune. Seven years ago last week, on the second anniversary of the killings at Waco, 168 men, women, and children were killed in Oklahoma City when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed -- many believed in protest of those horrific events for which no federal employee had ever been held accountable. Timothy McVeigh, convicted and executed for the bombing, made no comment during his trial until his sentencing, when he quoted Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: "Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example."
Six years ago last week, in response to the Oklahoma City bombing (which, if indeed perpetrated by a lone nut armed only with a rental van and fertilizer, begs the question of why sweeping new legislation was necessary), Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, "antiterrorism" legislation which not only gives the attorney general the power to use the armed services against the civilian population, neatly nullifying the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (which prohibited the use of federal troops for civilian law enforcement), but also selectively suspends habeas corpus, the heart of Anglo-American liberty. As he signed it into law, Clinton attacked critics of the bill as "unpatriotic": "There is nothing patriotic about pretending that you can love your country but despise your government." This is breathtaking since it includes, at one time or another, most of us. Put another way, was a German in 1939 who said that he detested the Nazi dictatorship unpatriotic?
Thus began the latest chapter in the death struggle between the American republic, whose plainly ineffective defender I am, and the American Global Empire, our old republic's enemy. Since V-J Day 1945 ("Victory over Japan" and the end of World War II), we have been engaged in what the historian Charles A.
Beard called "perpetual war for perpetual peace." I have occasionally referred to our "enemy of the month club": Each month we are confronted by a new horrendous enemy at whom we must strike before he destroys us. The Federation of American Scientists has catalogued nearly 200 such military incursions since 1945 initiated by the United States.
According to the Koran, it was on a Tuesday that Allah created darkness. Last Sept. 11, when suicide pilots were crashing commercial airliners into crowded American buildings, I did not have to look to the calendar to see what day it was: Dark Tuesday was casting its long shadow across Manhattan and along the Potomac River. I was also not surprised that despite the seven or so trillion dollars that we have spent since 1950 on what is euphemistically called "Defense," there would have been no advance warning from the FBI or CIA or Defense Intelligence Agency. While the Bushites have been eagerly preparing for the last war but two -- missiles from North Korea, clearly marked with flags, would rain down on Portland, Ore., only to be intercepted by our missile-shield balloons -- the foxy Osama bin Laden knew that all he needed for his holy war on the infidel were fliers willing to kill themselves along with those random passengers who happened to be aboard hijacked jetliners.
The awesome physical damage Osama and company did to us on Dark Tuesday is as nothing compared to the knockout blow to our vanishing liberties: The Anti- Terrorist Act of 1996 and the recent USA PATRIOT Act (still being written after it was passed, and thus unread by the Congress which passed it), which among other things grants additional special powers to wiretap without judicial order and to deport lawful permanent residents, visitors and undocumented immigrants without due process. Even before signing the Anti- Terrorist Act, President Clinton revealed his disregard for the Bill of Rights:
"We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans." A year later: "A lot of people say there's too much personal freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it."
According to a November 1995 CNN-Time poll, 55 percent of the people believed that "the federal government has become so powerful that it poses a threat to the rights of ordinary citizens." Three days after Dark Tuesday, 74 percent said they thought, "It would be necessary for Americans to give up some of their personal freedoms." Eighty-six percent favored guards and metal detectors at public buildings and events.
Bush himself, in an address to a joint session of Congress, offered up his interpretation of Osama bin Laden and disciples' motives: "They hate what they see right here in this chamber." I suspect a million Americans nodded sadly in front of their TV sets. "Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." If this is indeed the terrorists' motivation, they are succeeding beyond even their dreams, as each day, with each extension of "emergency powers," our Bill of Rights is shredded more and more. Once alienated, an "unalienable right" is apt to be forever lost, in which case we are no longer even remotely the last best hope of Earth but merely a seedy imperial state whose citizens are kept in line by SWAT teams and whose way of death, not life, is universally imitated.
Gore Vidal's new book is "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated" (Thunder's Mouth Press), from which this article is adapted.
He spoke in San Francisco on Thursday at a program sponsored by The Independent Institute - on the Web: http://www.independent.org
Posted at: http://disc.server.com/discussion.cgi?id=149495&article=24331
Friday, 12 April, 2002, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Sarah Johnson says she was humiliated during questioning then abandoned in the middle of the night with nowhere to go.
The 22-year-old from Wednesbury, West Midlands, was arrested at Philadelphia Airport just after boarding a plane.
She said she was held in a tiny cell with a suicidal drug addict.
And she was later released in the middle of the night in Philadelphia with no money or possessions.
Her local MP, Tom Watson, said he has written to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw asking him to investigate the claims.
"She is a bright, straight, honest young woman and she underwent the most appalling ordeal.
"She has had a terrible experience."
He said he has asked the Foreign Office to intervene.
"What I wanted to confirm is that there will be a full consulate investigation out there."
Miss Johnson had spoken to three security guards at Philadelphia Airport and was waved through checkpoints as she was late for her plane.
After her details were checked at the boarding gate she got on the flight bound for London.
However, 15 minutes later she was taken from the plane by security staff and taken to a detention centre.
She was interviewed by the FBI and other authorities who suspected her of terrorism.
Mr Watson said that at one point she was shut in an eight-foot-square cell with a crack cocaine addict who was threatening to kill herself.
When her 30-hour ordeal had finished she was put out into the street at 3.30 in the morning with no money and nowhere to stay.
Now Miss Johnson, who works as a hairdresser on cruise ships, wants an apology from US authorities.
Mr Watson said: "Somebody pushed the panic alarm and overreacted."
This article appeared as a double-page spread in Punch Magazine April 3rd-16th 2002. Punch stopped publication in Summer 2002.
Three days before he left office in 1961, Republican US president Dwight D Eisenhower made a speech that truly deserved the description "epoch-making". As well as a farewell it was a warning to the American people - a warning from man at the heart of the establishment about the overweening power of their masters.
The former supreme commander of allied forces in Europe chose the point of his departure from the White House to alert his electors to a new danger in their midst, "the military industrial complex".
He pointed out that three-and-a -half million people were employed in defence industries and noted that the annual spend on military security was more than the combined net income of all US corporations. In such a context, he said: "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Ike's warning has never had more potency than now, as the Bush White House pushes for an enormous rise in defence spending in the wake of September 11. If congress gives the president what he asked for in his State of the Union address, spending on the military will rise by $48 billion in 2003 and the increases planned for the next five years will take the defence budget from just over $300 billion today to $450 billion by 2007.
It is spending on a scale that has not been seen since Ronald Reagan's Cold War-era build-up of two decades ago. And it is good news for companies such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Boeing (which was forced to lay off thousands of workers in the weeks following the destruction of the World Trade Centre).
The long-term prospects of the military industrial complex look better still. The most senior positions in the US executive are held by people who vary from hawks to warmongers and who have the long-term aim of setting up a National Missile Defence system.
The current administration's popular orthodoxy on NMD has been expressed in the line: You don't cancel your flood insurance just because you've had a fire.
And while fighting the war on terror may mean a concentration on conventional weapons in the short term, one of the Bush White House's ultimate aims is a Star Wars system composed of a combination of sea, space and ground-based interceptors that will protect "the homeland" against rogue states.
The State of the Union speech proposed no increase in the programmes current budget of $7.8 billion, but critics of the system expect spending on it to shoot to $240 billion within 15 to 20 years.
So who benefits? The not entirely unpredictable answer is the inhabitants of the White House and its backers. For the story of the Bush White House is one of cynical genuflection to vested interests. First the energy barons were paid off with tax breaks and a dogged refusal to co-operate with international moves to regulate harmful emissions, now it is the turn of the defence establishment.
According to Federal Electoral Commission figures, the Republicans received $2.8 million in contributions from defence businesses in the year 2000 electoral cycle, while the Democrats were given just $1.3 million. This means the Bush camp got 68 per cent of all the donations made in this sector - a remarkable figure given that Bush looked like a loser for much of the race.
It used to be said that the prime role of the vice-president was to say good morning to the president each day, but Dick Cheney has brought new status to the role. As Bush Senior's defence supremo and a former chairman of Halliburton, a huge global conglomerate, he has formidable political skills. Of which more later.
Then there is Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, who is one of the most avid supporters of the National Missile Defence scheme.
More low profile but close to Bush both politically and geographically - her office is down the corridor from the Oval Office - is the national security advisor Condoleeza Rice. Her mother, a keen pianist, named her after the Italian playing instruction "con dolcessa" (loosely translated as "softly"), but there is nothing of the dove about Rice. She converted to militant Republicanism after President Carter declared his shock and surprise at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, a reaction she deplored as weak.
The final member of the unofficial war cabinet is the secretary of state, Colin Powell. It says a lot about the current administration that Powell is seen as a moderating influence. He is, after all, a former four-star general.
The key link between George Bush Junior, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell and the defence contractors is a man called Frank Carlucci, a defence secretary under Ronald Reagan.
Carlucci is a big player in the management of the Carlyle Group, a $12 billion private equity fund that invests around two thirds of its cash in defence and telecommunications companies. These are sectors where political clout and contacts are a major asset. Indeed, our own John Major picks up an estimated £500,000 a year in pay and perks for working between one and two days a week as Carlyle's European chairman.
Carlucci's more significant, US-based high profile "door-openers" include George Bush Snr - a former director of the CIA as well as being a former president - and James Baker, a former secretary of state.
Bush Snr has no equity stake in Carlyle but is allowed to put the money he makes giving speeches on Carlyle's behalf into its investment funds. This amounts up to $100,00 per speech. Baker, on the other hand, is one of Carlyle's 18 partners.
Rumsfeld, meanwhile, is an old college classmate of Carlucci is seen as a mentor to both Cheyenne and Power. As for the president himself, Dubya once sat on the board of Carlyle subsidiary Caterair, an airline catering company.
As one commentator puts it: "Bush's advisers could form a de facto military industrial complex over lunch".
There is no doubt about Carlucci's agenda. A report produced by a committee he chaired before Bush Jnr became president called for a 10 per cent hike in defence spending, mostly for new weapons development.
Quite how closely these men work together may never be known, however, as Cheney has shown a formidable talent for shielding backroom machinations from the public gaze.
John Dean, one of the architects of the Watergate cover-up in the Nixon White House, recently exposed the vice-presidents tactics in defying the General Accounting Office's request for information regarding the workings of his energy task force.
Under US law, any group set up to advise the president which includes non-governmental employees must record its proceedings and put them in the public domain. Cheney's energy group got round this by listing only government employees among its members. But word soon spread that the group was meeting with major Bush campaign contributors in the energy business who were looking for a return on their donated dollars, i.e. no furtherance of environmental regulations.
"Not since Richard Nixon stiffed the Congress during Watergate has a White House so openly and arrogantly defied Congress's investigative authority," wrote Dean. "Nor has any activity of the Bush administration more strongly suggested they are hiding the incriminating information about their relationship with the now-moribund Enron, or other heavy-hitting campaign contributors from energy business".
Dean concluded by going for the jugular: "As someone who knows a White House cover-up from first-hand experience, I must say that if the vice-president forces the comptroller to file his lawsuit, it will certainly appear a cover up is in the works.
"Whether the cover-up relates to Enron, or to his Energy Group's relationship with Halliburton (the energy group he ran before running for his present office), or to a dubious relationship with some other contributor that has received some benefit, or all of the above, I cannot say. But something is amiss". Which brings us to Thomas White, the secretary of the army.
White is another former military man, who resigned in 1989 with the rank of brigadier-general. The company he joined? Enron. The once mighty energy conglomerate collapsed last year amid widespread accusations of fraud and the parent company's accountancy firm, Andersen, was indicted last month on criminal charges of obstructing justice. By the time White left Enron to join the Bush administration he had become vice-chairman of Enron Energy Services, a subsidiary that was seeking power supply contracts with the US military. At that time, he held $50 million of stock options, which he promised to sell. And did.
But some congressmen believe that he has not been as open as he should have been about his financial links to Enron, a sensitive matter because White has since confirmed that he held 29 separate meetings with Enron executives after being made army secretary.
Six months after the World Trade Centre came down, few Americans are inclined to economise on defence. But perhaps it is time for US voters to think hard about the way that it is all too often the campaign donors rather than themselves who pull the strings at the highest levels.
Big business backers from the energy sector are already widely credited with preventing the US signing up to the Kyoto accords last summer. As a massive defence build-up gets underway, perhaps it is time to consider again the warning from Eisenhower, an old war-horse himself, about "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power".
"We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three-and-a -half million men and women are directly engaged in the defence establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all US corporations.
"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. We recognise the imperative need for development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are involved; so is the very structure of our society.
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Sunday March 24, 2002 The Observer
Britain was accused last night of falsely claiming that al-Qaeda terrorists had built a 'biological and chemical weapons' laboratory in Afghanistan to justify the deployment of 1,700 Royal Marines to fight there.
The allegation follows a Downing Street briefing by a senior official to newspapers on Friday which claimed US forces had discovered a biological weapons laboratory in a cave in eastern Afghanistan after fighting near the city of Gardez this month.
A 'senior Whitehall source' gave detailed claims of how American soldiers had found the cave following heavy fighting for al-Qaeda positions around the village of Shah-e-Kot.
One report quoted the source as saying: 'We know from documents found in Kabul and the lab in the cave that Osama bin Laden has acquired a chemical and biological weapons capability.'
The newspapers reported that the find was one of the main reasons the Government had decided to send the Marines to Afghanistan to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban forces. The claim, carried by a number of newspapers yesterday, was denied emphatically last night by Pentagon and State Department sources.
A White House spokesman, drawn into the row, said 'no evidence' had yet been uncovered in Afghanistan that Al Qaeda had succeeded in producing anthrax or other biological or chemical agents.
A Pentagon official told The Observer there was no intelligence to support claims from London that al-Qaeda was developing biological weapons in the Shah-e-Kot area. 'I don't know what they're saying in London but we have received no specific intelligence on that kind of development or capability in the Shah-e-Kot valley region - I mean a chemical or biological weapons facility,' said an official in the Army department in Washington.
The US rebuttal came as Opposition spokesmen demanded that Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon address the House of Commons to 'clarify' the claims, amid growing backbench unrest about the way in which the decision to send the marines was made.
The first of them are due to arrive in Kabul in the next few days to join US combat troops already fighting on the ground, amid concern among MPs about the 'open ended' nature of their mission.
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell, who called for Hoon to make a statement, said: 'The House will feel, with some justification, that this claim was leaked to the media to justify the deployment after the event.
'There are too many unanswered questions about the military justification for this deployment and growing unease. Mr Hoon owes the House a clarification."
The Tories demanded that Downing Street stick strictly to the truth in its efforts to promote the military campaign. 'Spinning doesn't work for the NHS, so why do they think it is going to work for the war on terrorism?' said Bernard Jenkin, Shadow Defence Secretary.
Doubts about the story surfaced almost immediately after it was published, as US officials first expressed bafflement and then denied any such lab had been found. Some speculating to the New York Times that the story might have been planted to justify the deployment of the marines. British intelligence, Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office sources denied any knowledge of the lab.
The only evidence of a biological weapons laboratory was the discovery last December of an abandoned, half-finished building containing medical equipment, near the Taliban's former power base of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. This had been reported previously.
The Observer has established that the source of the claims was an off-the-record briefing by Tony Blair's senior foreign policy adviser, David Manning.
A Downing Street spokesman said it 'stuck by the thrust of the story' - that it had evidence al-Qaeda was 'interested' in acquiring such weapons. But Manning had 'not actually told' reporters a cave lab had been discovered.
Palm Beach Post Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The United States has deported in the past two years dozens of young Israelis who posed as art students and visited sensitive federal facilities, federal officials said Tuesday.
The Israeli visits came under renewed attention after a French Internet site posted a secret draft report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency that concluded there "may well be an organized intelligence gathering activity" dating back at least two years.
The report states that the Israelis had focused on the South, especially Florida, over a period of two years. The visitors typically knocked on the doors of agencies or the homes of federal agents offering to sell artwork.
The artwork had been made in China, the report said.
In December 2000, for example, two Israelis knocked on the door at the residence of a DEA special agent in the Atlanta area and offered to sell artwork. The agent grew suspicious later after seeing the exact same items for sale in a kiosk at the Mall of Georgia.
Moreover, the report said the visitors had recently served in the Israeli military, the majority in intelligence, electronic signal intercept or explosive ordnance units.
Federal law enforcement officials confirmed the arrest and deportations of young Israelis over the past two years, but they said they were removed for routine visa violations, not spying.
"The Department of Justice has no information to substantiate the report about Israeli art students being involved in espionage," said Susan Dryden, a spokesperson at the Justice Department.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Yaffa Ben-Ari told the Associated Press that the spy report was "nonsense." And Irit Stopper, another spokeswoman, said that some Israelis had been deported for posing as art students and working without permits but not for espionage.
The 60-page DEA report that raised suspicions about the young Israeli visitors was first made public late last year by the Fox News Network.
Attorney General John Ashcroft declined to discuss the report during a news briefing.
Original publishing date: 3-6-02 firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jeff Shields
South Florida Sun-Sentinel - 11Mar02
The United States deported dozens of Israelis on immigration violations last year, including at least five from an art school in South Florida, after reports they were posing as students to gain access to government buildings, federal officials said Wednesday.
Israelis in South Florida, Dallas and San Diego were sent home by the Immigration and Naturalization Service last year on visa violations, an INS spokesman in Washington said. But authorities were first drawn to them based on a suspicion that they were spying, according to one federal law enforcement agency.
Thomas Hinojosa of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said the DEA compiled an internal report after several branch offices throughout the country reported "suspicious activities'' by individuals presenting themselves as Israeli art students. The Israelis were allegedly trying to gain access to DEA facilities, Hinojosa said.
The DEA report said the youths' actions "may well be an organized intelligence-gathering activity," the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The DEA forwarded the report to the "appropriate federal law enforcement authorities,'' Hinojosa said.
The INS deported the individuals a short time later, both before and after Sept. 11, when security was tightened.
INS spokesman Russ Bergeron said about 20 Israelis from San Diego, an undetermined number from Dallas, and five or six from South Florida were deported.
"The general modus operandi was that these individuals were in major metropolitan areas selling art at street locations. In some instances they were near federal buildings. In some instances they were not,'' Bergeron said.
All were deported for either overstaying their visas or working illegally while on a student visa, he said.
Rumors about the students have circulated since March 2001.The story gained momentum this week when a French Internet site, Intelligence Online, reported the United States had broken up a massive Israeli spy ring.
None were charged with espionage, and Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden said.
The Israelis in South Florida were affiliated with Universal Art, which lists addresses in South Miami and Sunrise, according to Rodney Germain, the INS spokesman in Miami.
On Wednesday there was no sign of any company called Universal Art Inc., at 10873 NW 52nd St. in Sunrise. The address listed in Florida incorporation documents came back to a light industrial complex next to the Sawgrass Expressway and south of Commercial Boulevard. No one answered the door, and several occupants had never heard of the company.
The company's officers, Yitzchak Shish and Chava Sagi, are not listed. They were not among those who were deported, Germain said. ___
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Originally Published 3-7-02
The suggestion of an Israeli connection to the events surrounding 9/11 did not spring, full blown, like Minerva from the head of Zeus. It had been hovering in the background, implied in odd accounts such as the one about the group of Israelis picked by the FBI after they were spotted in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ, laughing and giving each other high-fives as the World Trade Center burned on the other side of the river. In an astonishing story in the Bergen Record, we learn that 5 men described as "Israeli tourists," were picked up 8 hours after the WTC attack, "carrying maps linking them to the blasts." "...[S]ources close to the investigation said they found other evidence linking the men to the bombing plot. 'There are maps of the city in the car with certain places highlighted,' the source said. 'It looked like they're hooked in with this. It looked like they knew what was going to happen when they were at Liberty State Park.'" According to this account, the 5 "tourists" had been picked up by local police after receiving the following alert from the FBI:
"Vehicle possibly related to New York terrorist attack. White, 2000 Chevrolet van with New Jersey registration with 'Urban Moving Systems' sign on back seen at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ, at the time of first impact of jetliner into World Trade Center. Three individuals with van were seen celebrating after initial impact and subsequent explosion. FBI Newark Field Office requests that, if the van is located, hold for prints and detain individuals."
By Larry Chin Online Journal Contributing Editor
March 6, 2002After the fall of the Soviet Union, Argentine oil company Bridas, led by its ambitious chairman, Carlos Bulgheroni, became the first company to exploit the oil fields of Turkmenistan and propose a pipeline through neighboring Afghanistan. A powerful US-backed consortium intent on building its own pipeline through the same Afghan corridor would oppose Bridas' project.
Upon successfully negotiating leases to explore in Turkmenistan, Bridas was awarded exploration contracts for the Keimar block near the Caspian Sea, and the Yashlar block near the Afghanistan border. By March 1995, Bulgheroni had accords with Turkmenistan and Pakistan granting Bridas construction rights for a pipeline into Afghanistan, pending negotiations with the civil war-torn country.
The following year, after extensive meetings with warlords throughout Afghanistan, Bridas had a 30-year agreement with the Rabbani regime to build and operate an 875-mile gas pipeline across Afghanistan.
Bulgheroni believed that his pipeline would promote peace as well as material wealth in the region. He approached other companies, including Unocal and its then-CEO, Roger Beach, to join an international consortium.
But Unocal was not interested in a partnership. The United States government, its affiliated transnational oil and construction companies, and the ruling elite of the West had coveted the same oil and gas transit route for years.
A trans-Afghanistan pipeline was not simply a business matter, but a key component of a broader geo-strategic agenda: total military and economic control of Eurasia (the Middle East and former Soviet Central Asian republics). Zbigniew Brezezinski describes this region in his book "The Grand Chessboard- American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives" as "the center of world power." Capturing the region's oil wealth, and carving out territory in order to build a network of transit routes, was a primary objective of US military interventions throughout the 1990s in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Caspian Sea.
As of 1992, 11 western oil companies controlled more than 50 percent of all oil investments in the Caspian Basin, including Unocal, Amoco, Atlantic Richfield, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Pennzoil, Texaco, Phillips and British Petroleum.
In "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia" (a definitive work that is a primary source for this report), Ahmed Rashid wrote, "US oil companies who had spearheaded the first US forays into the region wanted a greater say in US policy making."
Business and policy planning groups active in Central Asia, such as the Foreign Oil Companies Group operated with the full support of the US State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA and the Department of Energy and Commerce.
Among the most active operatives for US efforts: Brezezinski (a consultant to Amoco, and architect of the Afghan-Soviet war of the 1970s), Henry Kissinger (advisor to Unocal), and Alexander Haig (a lobbyist for Turkmenistan), and Dick Cheney (Halliburton, US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce).
Unocal's Central Asia envoys consisted of former US defense and intelligence officials. Robert Oakley, the former US ambassador to Pakistan, was a "counter-terrorism" specialist for the Reagan administration who armed and trained the mujahadeen during the war against the Soviets in the 1980s. He was an Iran-Contra conspirator charged by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh as a key figure involved in arms shipments to Iran.
Richard Armitage, the current Deputy Defense Secretary, was another Iran-Contra player in Unocal's employ. A former Navy SEAL, covert operative in Laos, director with the Carlyle Group, Armitage is allegedly deeply linked to terrorist and criminal networks in the Middle East, and the new independent states of the former Soviet Union (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrghistan).
Armitage was no stranger to pipelines. As a member of the Burma/Myanmar Forum, a group that received major funding from Unocal, Armitage was implicated in a lawsuit filed by Burmese villagers who suffered human rights abuses during the construction of a Unocal pipeline. (Halliburton, under Dick Cheney, performed contract work on the same Burmese project.)
Much to Bridas' dismay, Unocal went directly to regional leaders with its own proposal. Unocal formed its own competing US-led, Washington-sponsored consortium that included Saudi Arabia's Delta Oil, aligned with Saudi Prince Abdullah and King Fahd. Other partners included Russia's Gazprom and Turkmenistan's state-owned Turkmenrozgas.
John Imle, president of Unocal (and member of the US- Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce with Armitage, Cheney, Brezezinski and other ubiquitous figures), lobbied Turkmenistan's president Niyazov and prime minister Bhutto of Pakistan, offering a Unocal pipeline following the same route as Bridas.'
Dazzled by the prospect of an alliance with the US, Niyazov asked Bridas to renegotiate its past contract and blocked Bridas' exports from Keimar field. Bridas responded by filing three cases with the International Chamber of Commerce against Turkmenistan for breach of contract. (Bridas won.) Bridas also filed a lawsuit in Texas charging Unocal with civil conspiracy and "tortuous interference with business relations." While its officers were negotiating with Pakistani and Turkmen oil and gas officials, Bridas claimed that Unocal had stolen its idea, and coerced the Turkmen government into blocking Bridas from Keimir field. (The suit was dismissed in 1998 by Judge Brady G. Elliott, a Republican, who claimed that any dispute between Unocal and Bridas was governed by the laws of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, rather than Texas law.)
In October 1995, with neither company in a winning position, Bulgheroni and Imle accompanied Niyazov to the opening of the UN General Assembly. There, Niyazov awarded Unocal with a contract for a 1,050-mile oil pipeline from Dauletabad through Afghanistan. Bulgheroni was shocked. At the announcement ceremony, Unocal consultant Henry Kissinger said that the deal looked like "the triumph of hope over experience."
Later, Unocal's consortium, CentGas, would secure another contract for a companion 918-mile natural gas pipeline that would connect to a tanker loading port in Pakistan on the coast of the Arabian Sea.
Although Unocal had agreements with the governments on either end of the proposed route, Bridas still had the contract with Afghanistan.
The problem was resolved via the CIA and Pakistani ISI-backed Taliban. Following a visit to Kandahar by US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robin Raphael in the fall of 1996, the Taliban entered Kabul and sent the Rabbani government packing.
Bridas' agreement with Rabbani would have to be renegotiated.
According to Ahmed Rashid, "Unocal's real influence with the Taliban was that their project carried the possibility of US recognition, which the Taliban were desperately anxious to secure."
Unocal wasted no time greasing the palms of the Taliban. It offered humanitarian aid to Afghan warlords who would form a council to supervise the pipeline project. It provided a new mobile phone network between Kabul and Kandahar. Unocal also promised to help rebuild Kandahar, and donated $9,000 to the University of Nebraska's Center for Afghan Studies. The US State Department, through its aid organization USAID, contributed significant education funding for Taliban. In the spring of 1996, Unocal executives flew Uzbek leader General Abdul Rashid Dostum to Dallas to discuss pipeline passage through his northern (Northern Alliance-controlled) territories.
Bridas countered by forming an alliance with Ningarcho, a Saudi company closely aligned with Prince Turki el-Faisal, the Saudi intelligence chief. Turki was a mentor to Osama bin Laden, the ally of the Taliban who was publicly feuding with the Saudi royal family. As a gesture for Bridas, Prince Turki provided the Taliban with communications equipment and a fleet of pickup trucks. Now Bridas proposed two consortiums, one to build the Afghanistan portion, and another to take care of both ends of the line. By November 1996, Bridas claimed that it had an agreement signed by the Taliban and Dostumtrumping Unocal.
The competition between Unocal and Bridas, as described by Rashid, "began to reflect the competition within the Saudi Royal family."
In 1997, Taliban officials traveled twice to Washington, D.C. and Buenos Aires to be wined and dined by Unocal and Bridas. No agreements were signed.
It appeared to Unocal that the Taliban was balking. In addition to royalties, the Taliban demanded funding for infrastructure projects, including roads and power plants. The Taliban also announced plans to revive the Afghan National Oil Company, which had been abolished by the Soviet regime in the late 1970s.
Osama bin Laden (who issued his fatwa against the West in 1998) advised the Taliban to sign with Bridas. In addition to offering the Taliban a higher bid, Bridas proposed an open pipeline accessible to warlords and local users. Unocal's pipeline was closedfor export purposes only. Bridas' plan also did not require outside financing, while Unocal's required a loan from the western financial institutions (the World Bank), which in turn would leave Afghanistan vulnerable to demands from western governments.
Bridas' approach to business was more to the Taliban's liking. Where Bulgheroni and Bridas' engineers would take the time to "sip tea with Afghan tribesmen," Unocal's American executives issued top-down edicts from corporate headquarters and the US Embassy (including a demand to open talks with the CIA-backed Northern Alliance).
While seemingly well received within Afghanistan, Bridas' problems with Turkmenistan (which they blamed on Unocal and US interference) had left them cash-strapped and without a supply.
In 1997, they went searching for a major partner with the clout to break the deadlock with Turkmenistan. They found one in Amoco. Bridas sold 60 percent of its Latin American assets to Amoco. Carlos Bulgheroni and his contingent retained the remaining minority 40 percent. Facilitating the merger were other icons of transnational finance, Chase Manhattan (representing Bridas), Morgan Stanley (handling Amoco) and Arthur Andersen (facilitator of post-merger integration). Zbigniew Brezezinski was a consultant for Amoco.
(Amoco would merge with British Petroleum a year later. BP is represented by the law firm of Baker & Botts, whose principal attorney is James Baker, lifelong Bush friend, former secretary of state, and a member of the Carlyle Group.)
Recognizing the significance of the merger, a Pakistani oil company executive hinted, "If these (Central Asian) countries want a big US company involved, Amoco is far bigger than Unocal."
By 1998, while the Argentine contingent made slow progress, Unocal faced a number of new problems.
Gazprom pulled out of CentGas when Russia complained about the anti-Russian agenda of the US. This forced Unocal to expand CentGas to include Japanese and South Korean gas companies, while maintaining the dominant share with Delta.
Human rights groups began protesting Unocal's dealings with the brutal Taliban. Still riding years of Clinton bashing and scandal mongering, conservative Republicans in the US attacked the Clinton administration's Central Asia policy for its lack of clarity and "leadership."
Once again, violence would change the dynamic.
In response to the bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania (attributed to bin Laden), President Bill Clinton sent cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan. The administration broke off diplomatic contact with the Taliban, and UN sanctions were imposed.
Unocal withdrew from CentGas, and informed the State Department "the gas pipeline would not proceed until an internationally recognized government was in place in Afghanistan." Although Unocal continued on and off negotiations on the oil pipeline (a separate project), the lack of support from Washington hampered efforts.
Meanwhile, Bridas declared that it would not need to wait for resolution of political issues, and repeated its intention of moving forward with the Afghan gas pipeline project on its own. Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan tried to push Saudi Arabia to proceed with CentGas (Delta of Saudi Arabia was now the leader). But war and US-Taliban tension made business impossible.
For the remainder of the Clinton presidency, there would be no official US or UN recognition of Afghanistan. And no progress on the pipeline.
Then George Walker Bush took the White House.
Unocal news release http://www.unocal.com/uclnews/99news/021699.htm
Unocal reiterates position on withdrawal from trans-Afghanistan pipeline project
El Segundo, Calif., Feb. 16, 1999 - Unocal Corporation today reiterated that it no longer has any role in developing or funding the proposed CentGas pipeline project across Afghanistan.
The company stated that it is not considering rejoining the CentGas consortium, nor has the company had any discussions with persons or entities anywhere about re-entering the project since Unocal formally withdrew from CentGas in December 1998 (See Unocal statement, Dec. 10, 1998).
Unocal issued this statement after an erroneous press report from Islamabad, Pakistan, quoted Pakistani officials who indicated that Unocal was showing an interest in rejoining the consortium.
On Feb 8th in Islamabad, the US favoured Interim Leader of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, spoke in favour of the much discussed gas pipeline, proposed by Unocal. According to Le Monde, and El Mundo, he was previously an adviser to that company. We all wondered where the hell he popped out of.
LE MONDE 13Dec01
Hamid Karzai, a Pashtoun, named President
"...Hamid Karzai, who is as comfortable discussing sitting on a carpet as in a Washinton or London "salon", has a profound knowledge of the western world. After Kabul and India, where he has studied law, he completed his learnings [apprenticeship ?] in the USA, where he acted, for a while, as a consultant for the American oil company Unocal, at the time it was considering building a pipeline in Afghanistan..."
American Unocal oil company has played a key role in appointment of Khamid Karzai as a leader of interim Afghanistan government, reads today's issue of Spanish Mundo newspaper.
The newspaper writes that Karzai earlier worked for the company, which since long plans to build oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan.
Spanish newspaper also claims that in the 1980s Karzai cooperated with American authorities. Karzai established contacted with Americans via U.S. citizen of Afghanistani origin Zalmai Khalilzad, who is U.S. special envoy in Kabul now. In the 1990s Khalilzad also worked in Unocal, emphasizes Spanish newspaper.
Unocal is involved in development of Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field in the Azeri Caspian sector and is among the companies ready to take part in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline construction.
The company's representatives have earlier repeatedly announced their plans to build a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and further to Pakistan. However, civil war in Afghanistan did not allow the company to carry its plans into life.
ISLAMABAD, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Afghanistan's interim leader Hamid Karzai said on Friday he and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had agreed to revive a plan for a trans-Afghan gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan.
"Both sides have agreed that the construction of this pipeline will be very beneficial for both the countries as well as for the entire region," Karzai told a news conference after talks with General Musharraf. "We both have agreed on this," he said, calling the project "very essential".
Karzai was in Islamabad on his first official visit to Pakistan after his U.N.-backed interim administration took office in December, following the collapse of the Taliban government in the face of U.S.-led military strikes.
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, seeking new export outlets for his country's abundant gas reserves, said on Friday he hoped the fragile peace in Afghanistan would allow work to resume on the major regional natural gas pipeline.
"Peace is finally being installed in Afghanistan. And we can now build a pipeline to Pakistan across its territory," state television quoted Niyazov as saying during a visit to eastern Turkmenistan.
A consortium led by U.S. Unocal had originally aimed to build the $1.9 billion, 1,400-km (875-mile) pipeline to run from gas-rich Turkmenistan via northern Afghanistan.
But in August 1998 Unocal halted development of the project after U.S.forces fired missiles at guerrilla camps in Afghanistan in the wake of bomb attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa.
Under the original plan, a 740-km (460-mile) stretch of the pipeline would run across northern Afghanistan.
Turkmen officials say Niyazov plans to raise the issue with Karzai in the near future.
Turkmenistan, a neutral country which steered a careful course between Afghanistan's purist Taliban movement and the opposition northern Alliance, supported U.S. strikes on its war-torn neighbour last autumn.
Niyazov has not allowed coalition warplanes to use Turkmen airbases, although his country has become a key route for humanitarian cargo supplies to northern Afghanistan.
PARIS - Under the influence of United States oil companies, the government of President George W Bush initially blocked intelligence agencies' investigations on terrorism while it bargained with the Taliban on the delivery of Osama bin Laden in exchange for political recognition and economic aid, two French intelligence analysts claim.
In the book Bin Laden, la verite interdite (Bin Laden, the forbidden truth), that was released recently, the authors, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, reveal that the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) deputy director John O'Neill resigned in July in protest over the obstruction.
The authors claim that O'Neill told them that "the main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it". The two claim that the US government's main objective in Afghanistan was to consolidate the position of the Taliban regime to obtain access to the oil and gas reserves in Central Asia.
They affirm that until August, the US government saw the Taliban regime "as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia" from the rich oilfields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. Until now, says the book, "the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia have been controlled by Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that."
But, confronted with Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, "this rationale of energy security changed into a military one", the authors claim.
"At one moment during the negotiations, the US representatives told the Taliban, 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs,'" Brisard said in an interview in Paris.
According to the book, the Bush administratino began to negotiate with the Taliban immediately after coming into power in February. US and Taliban diplomatic representatives met several times in Washington, Berlin and Islamabad.
To polish their image in the United States, the Taliban even employed a US expert on public relations, Laila Helms. The authors claim that Helms is also an expert in the works of US intelligence organizations, for her uncle, Richard Helms, is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The last meeting between US and Taliban representatives took place in August, five weeks before the attacks on New York and Washington, the analysts maintain. On that occasion, Christina Rocca, in charge of Central Asian affairs for the US government, met the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan in Islamabad.
Brisard and Dasquie have long experience in intelligence analysis. Brisard was until the late 1990s director of economic analysis and strategy for Vivendi, a French company. He also worked for French secret services, and wrote for them in 1997 a report on the now famous Al-Qaeda network, headed by bin Laden.
Dasquie is an investigative journalist and publisher of Intelligence Online, a respected newsletter on diplomacy, economic analysis and strategy, available through the Internet.
Brisard and Dasquie draw a portrait of the closest aides to Bush, linking them to the oil business. Bush's family has a strong oil background, as do some of his top aides. From Vice President Dick Cheney, through the director of the National Security Council Condoleezza Rice, to the ministers of commerce and energy, Donald Evans and Stanley Abraham, all have for long worked for US oil companies.
Cheney was until the end of last year president of Halliburton, a company that provides services for oil industry; Rice was between 1991 and 2000 manager for Chevron; Evans and Abraham worked for Tom Brown, another oil giant.
Besides the secret negotiations held between Washington and Kabul and the importance of the oil industry, the book takes issue with the role played by Saudi Arabia in fostering Islamic fundamentalism, in the personality of bin Laden, and with the networks that the Saudi dissident built to finance his activities.
Brisard and Dasquie contend that the US government's claim that it had been prosecuting bin Laden since 1998. "Actually," Dasquie says, "the first state to officially prosecute bin Laden was Libya, on the charges of terrorism."
"Bin Laden wanted to settle in Libya in the early 1990s, but was hindered by the government of Muammar Gaddafi," Dasquie claims. "Enraged by Libya's refusal, bin Laden organized attacks inside Libya, including assassination attempts against Gaddafi."
Dasquie singles out one group, the Islamic Fighting Group (IFG), reputedly the most powerful Libyan dissident organization, based in London, and directly linked with bin Laden. "Gaddafi even demanded Western police institutions, such as Interpol, to pursue the IFG and bin Laden, but never obtained cooperation," Dasquie says. "Until today, members of IFG openly live in London."
The book confirms earlier reports that the US government worked closely with the United Nations during the negotiations with the Taliban. "Several meetings took place this year, under the arbitration of Francesc Vendrell, personal representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to discuss the situation in Afghanistan," says the book. "Representatives of the US government and Russia, and the six countries that border with Afghanistan were present at these meetings," it says. "Sometimes, representatives of the Taliban also sat around the table."
These meetings, also called Six plus 2, because of the number of states (six neighbors plus the US and Russia) involved, have been confirmed by Naif Naik, former Pakistani minister for foreign affairs.
In a French television news program two weeks ago, Naik said that during a Six plus 2 meeting in Berlin in July, the discussions turned around "the formation of a government of national unity. If the Taliban had accepted this coalition, they would have immediately received international economic aid. And the pipelines from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan would have come," he added.
Naik also claimed that Tom Simons, the US representative at these meetings, openly threatened the Taliban and Pakistan. "Simons said, 'either the Taliban behave as they ought to, or Pakistan convinces them to do so, or we will use another option'. The words Simons used were 'a military operation'," Naik claimed.
(Inter Press Service) 2001 Asia Times Online Co., Ltd. Room 6301, The Center 99 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong.
[Why, you might ask, were these pictures - taken by military photographers - released? To ferment hatred of the USA by moslems? TG]
The Guardian Monday January 21, 2002
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, yesterday signalled Britain's growing unease at the treatment of more than 100 al-Qaida suspects held by American forces in Cuba when he called for them to be looked after "humanely" in accordance with international law.
The prisoners are thought to include three Britons.
"The British government's position is that prisoners - regardless of their technical status - should be treated humanely and in accordance with customary law," he said. "We have always made that clear and the Americans have said they share this view."
Prominent backbenchers seized on a set of officially sanctioned photographs taken in Camp X-Ray, the detention centre at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as evidence of humiliating treatment of the prisoners. The pictures show the prisoners, manacled hand and foot, kneeling before their guards, and wearing blacked-out goggles over their eyes and masks over their mouths and noses.
Mr Straw bowed to growing criticism yesterday by ordering British diplomats in Washington to raise the issue of the photographs with the administration, specifically requesting information on the circumstances in which the pictures were taken.
As the row threatened to snowball into the first major Anglo-American split since the attacks of September 11, Downing Street attempted to calm the atmosphere. The prime minister's official spokesman reminded critics of America that the prisoners were suspected members of a highly dangerous group.
The spokesman added that Britain would wait to hear from its own officials, who spent the weekend at the base, before pronouncing on the inmates' treatment.
The US military attempted to allay Mr Straw's fears last night by saying that the photographs were taken as the prisoners arrived at the base after their flight from Afghanistan. "That's not how they're kept on a daily basis," said Major Eddie Villavicencio, of the US southern command headquarters in Miami. "Detainees are treated quite humanely."
His remarks failed to calm a growing revolt on the Labour backbenches. The former foreign office minister Tony Lloyd said that the "shocking" pictures of the prisoners fell well below the standards which the US should uphold.
"The Geneva convention is there to provide a floor below which civilised nations shouldn't fall," Mr Lloyd told BBC1's Breakfast with Frost programme. "Britain is a civilised nation - we must insist that our allies stick by that minimum standard."
As the all-party Commons human rights group demanded a meeting with the US ambassador, William Farish, one senior minister, described the treatment of the prisoners as "monstrous". The minister said there was no basis in law for the Americans to deny the suspects their full rights under the Geneva convention by labelling them as unlawful combatants. "How can we claim that we are upholding decent values if prisoners are treated in this way?" the minister asked.
Donald Rumsfeld, the outspoken US defence secretary who alarmed British ministers last week when he said that the prisoners should not expect "country club" facili ties, strongly defended the treatment of the inmates as "humane and appropriate". He took a swipe at critics of conditions at Guantanamo when he told NBC's Meet the Press programme: "I think that the people who have been the most shrill on the subject, once they have more knowledge of the subject, will stop being so shrill."
American forces have so far transferred up to 110 prisoners to Guantanamo Bay in the past week, with several hundred more due to make the gruelling flight from Afghanistan.
A team of MI5 officers spent the weekend at the base and are thought to have questioned three Britons who, like the other prisoners, are detained in open air cages.
America's high-handed behaviour is alarming senior Whitehall officials who believe that the treatment of the inmates is undermining the efforts of the security and intelligence services to seek information from the Muslim community about suspect terrorists.
A senior well-placed official said: "That is a genuine belief across Whitehall from the moral point of view, and because it is counter-productive to humiliate people".
Another senior official described America's handling of the prisoners as "scandalous", adding: "American politicians are only concerned with American audiences".
Another official accused the US of breaching the standards of a civilised society, adding that Tony Blair could not say so because he wanted to "keep in" with the Americans.
Message from a physician.
American and British Government assertions that the Al Quaeda prisoners in Camp X Ray are being treated humanely are given the lie by the photographs taken by the Pentagon and published in British newspapers on 20th January.
The prisoners are bound, gagged and blindfolded, but the main point is that they are kneeling on a stony surface. If they were simply waiting to be registered, as the official spin would have it, they would have chosen to squat.
The fact that they were kneeling is prima facie evidence that they are being tortured. Anyone who does not accept this should try kneeling on a stony surface for five minutes.
By using torture, our rulers show themselves to be morally equivalent to their opponents.
Dr Richard Lawson
Guardian - Saturday January 19, 2002
Saudi Arabia's rulers are poised to throw US strategy in the Middle East into disarray by asking Washington to pull its forces out of the kingdom because they have become a "political liability".
Senior Saudi officials have privately complained that the US has "outstayed its welcome" and that the kingdom may soon request that the American presence - a product of the Gulf war - is brought to an end.
Both the White House and the US state department insisted yesterday that the military arrangement between the two countries was still working. The White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said that the president, George Bush, "believes that our presence in the region has a very helpful and stabilising effect in a dangerous region".
Relations between the US and Saudi Arabia, Washington's closest Arab ally, have been severely strained since September 11. Both sides have been desperately denying for months that there is a rift.
The US is reluctant to withdraw its 4,500 troops from the Prince Sultan air base, south of Saudi's capital Riyadh, because it could be perceived as a propaganda victory for Osama bin Laden, who frequently protested at the presence of non-believers so close to the main Muslim holy sites.
But the increasingly brittle and vulnerable ruling House of Saud is nervous about an internal revolt by Bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network and other extremist militants, and has been publicly loosening its links with Washington.
The huge Prince Sultan air base played a crucial logistical role in the bombing of Afghanistan. Withdrawal would upset the military balance in the Middle East by providing a boost to the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. US planes based in Saudi regularly bomb along the Iraqi border as part of its policy of containment of Saddam.
Britain, which jointly patrols the Iraqi no-fly zone with the US, has planes based both in Saudi and Kuwait. A pull-out by Washington would switch the focus to the British air base in Kuwait, whose leaders try to avoid drawing attention to the British presence.
Two senior US state department officials have been in Saudi this week: William Burns, the assistant secretary for the near east, and Lincoln Bloomfield, the assistant secretary for political and military affairs.
The US state department insisted yesterday that at no point during Mr Bloomfield's visit, either formally or informally, had the Saudis said they wanted the US to leave.
But the US ambassador to Saudi, Robert Jordan, was quoted as saying when Mr Bloomfield arrived in the kingdom: "He is here for consultations with the Saudi government to review our presence here and to discuss what we need and what we don't need." The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, who is in Nepal, denied the Saudis wanted a withdrawal: "There has been no discussion of such an issue."
Many in the US have been upset with Saudi because not only is it Bin Laden's native country but 15 of the 19 terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks were from the kingdom. The Saudi media have reported that about 200 Saudis have been captured in Afghanistan fighting with al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The kingdom is volatile, with a stagnant economy, high unemployment, no democratic outlets and King Fahd unable to crack down on militant clerics.
Hostility to the US is widespread but that is mirrored in the US where there is a huge well of resentment that, having fought to push back Iraq in 1991 and having protected Saudi since, Riyadh refused to provide military help during the Afghan campaign.
Reflecting this, Carl Levin, who heads the US Senate armed services committee, said: "We need a base in that region, but it seems to me we should find a place that is more hospitable."
Bin Laden listed as the main justifications for the attacks on New York and Washington the presence of the US soldiers in the kingdom, US support for Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians, and the US campaign against Iraq. He said six years ago: "There is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land [of Arabia]."
The US could continue its containment of Iraq from aircraft carriers based in the Gulf. But the US air force secretary, James Roche, said a pull-out would make life awkward: "It would be difficult, unless we could replicate the air operations centre somewhere else."
As military operations in Afghanistan are winding down, it is well to keep in mind President George W. Bush's injunction that they are only the first battles of a long war.
An important step has been taken toward the goals of breaking the nexus between governments and the terrorist groups they support or tolerate, discrediting Islamic fundamentalism so that moderates in the Islamic world can reclaim their religion from the fanatics and placing the fight against terrorism within the context of the geopolitical threat of Saddam Hussein's Iraq to regional stability and to American friends and interests in the region. But much more needs to be done.
Were we to flinch, the success in Afghanistan would be interpreted in time as taking on the weakest and most remote of the terrorist centers while we recoiled from unraveling terrorism in countries more central to the problem.
Three interrelated courses of action are available:
(a) To rely primarily on diplomacy and coalition building on the theory that the fate of the Taliban will teach the appropriate lessons.
(b) To insist on a number of specific corrective steps in countries with known training camps or terrorist headquarters, such as Somalia or Yemen, or those engaged in dangerous programs to develop weapons of mass destruction, such as Iraq, and to take military action if these steps are rejected.
(c) To focus on the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq in order to change the regional dynamics by showing America's determination to defend regional stability, its interests and its friends. (This would also send a strong message to other rogue states.)
Sole reliance on diplomacy is the preferred course of some members of the coalition, which claim that the remaining tasks can be accomplished by consultation and the cooperation of intelligence and security services around the world. But to rely solely on diplomacy would be to repeat the mistake with which the United States hamstrung itself in every war of the past half-century. Because it treated military operations and diplomacy as separate and sequential, the United States stopped military operations in Korea as soon as our adversaries moved to the conference table; it ended the bombing of North Vietnam as an entrance price to the Paris talks; it stopped military operations in the Gulf after the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
In each case, the ending of military pressure produced diplomatic stalemate. The Korean armistice negotiations consumed two years during which America suffered as many casualties as in the entire combat phase; an even more intractable stalemate developed in the Vietnam negotiations; and in the Gulf, Saddam Hussein used the Republican Guard divisions preserved by the armistice to restore control over his territory and to dismantle systematically the inspection provisions of the armistice agreement.
Anti-terrorism policy is empty if it is not backed by the threat of force [death].
Intellectual opponents of military action as well as its likely targets will procrastinate or agree to token or symbolic remedies only. Ironically, governments on whose territory terrorists are tolerated will find it especially difficult to cooperate unless the consequences of failing to do so are made more risky than their tacit bargain with the terrorists.
Phase II of the anti-terrorism campaign must therefore involve a specific set of demands geared to a precise timetable supported by credible coercive power. These should be put forward as soon as possible as a framework for Phase II. And time is of the essence. Phase II must begin while the memory of the attack on the United States is still vivid and American-deployed forces are available to back up the diplomacy.
Nor should Phase II be confused with the pacification of Afghanistan. The American strategic objective was to destroy the terrorist network; that has been largely accomplished. Pacification of the entire country has never been achieved by foreigners and cannot be the objective of the American military effort. The United States should be generous with economic and development assistance. But the strategic goal of Phase II should be the destruction of the global terrorist network, to prevent its reappearance in Afghanistan, but not to be drawn into Afghan civil strife.
Somalia and Yemen are often mentioned as possible targets for a Phase II campaign. That decision should depend on the ability to identify targets against which local governments are able to act and on the suitability of American forces to accomplish this task if the local governments cannot or will not. And given these limitations, the United States will have to decide whether action against them is strategically productive.
All this raises the unavoidable challenge posed by Iraq. The issue is not whether Iraq was involved in the terrorist attack on the United States, though no doubt there was some intelligence contact between Iraqi intelligence and one of the chief plotters. The challenge of Iraq is essentially geopolitical. Iraq's policy is implacably hostile to the United States and to certain neighboring countries. It possesses growing stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, which Saddam has used in the war against Iran and on his own population. It is working to develop a nuclear capability. Saddam breached his commitment to the United Nations by evicting the international inspectors he had accepted on his territory as part of the armistice agreement ending the Gulf War. There is no possibility of a negotiation between Washington and Baghdad and no basis for trusting Iraq's promises to the international community.
If these capabilities remain intact, they could in time be used for terrorist goals or by Saddam in the midst of some new regional or international upheaval. And if Saddam's regime survives both the Gulf War and the anti-terrorism campaign, this fact alone will elevate him to a potentially overwhelming menace.
From a long-range point of view, the greatest opportunity of Phase II is to return Iraq to a responsible role in the region. No comparable objective could have a similar impact. Were Iraq governed by a group representing no threat to its neighbors and willing to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, the stability of the region would be immeasurably enhanced.
The remaining regimes flirting with terrorist fundamentalism or acquiescing in its exactions would be driven to shut down their support of terrorism.
At a minimum, we should insist on a U.N. inspection system to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction with an unlimited right of inspection and freedom of movement for the inspectors. But no such system exists on paper, and the effort to install it may be identical with that required to overthrow Saddam. Above all, given the ease of producing biological and chemical weapons, inspection must be extremely intrusive, and experience shows that no inspection can withstand indefinitely the opposition of a determined host government.
But if the overthrow of Saddam is to be seriously considered, three prerequisites must be met: (a) development of a military plan that is quick and decisive, (b) some prior agreement on what kind of structure is to replace Saddam and (c) the support or acquiescence of key countries needed for implementation of the military plan.
A military operation against Saddam cannot be long drawn out. If it is, the battle may turn into a struggle of Islam against the West. It would also enable Saddam to try to involve Israel by launching attacks on it - perhaps using chemical and biological weapons - in the process sowing confusion within the Muslim world. A long war extending to six months and beyond would also make it more difficult to keep allies and countries like Russia and China from dissociating formally from what they are unlikely to join but even more unlikely to oppose.
Before proceeding to confrontation with Iraq, the Bush administration will therefore wish to examine with great care the military strategy that is implied. Forces of the magnitude of the Gulf War of a decade ago are unlikely to be needed. At the same time, it would be dangerous to rely on a combination of U.S. air power and indigenous opposition forces alone. To be sure, the contemporary precision weaponry was not available in the existing quantities during the Gulf War. And the no-fly zones will make Iraqi reinforcements difficult. They could be strengthened by being turned into no-movement zones proscribing the movement of particular categories of weapons.
Still, we cannot stake American national security entirely, or even largely, on local opposition forces that do not yet exist and whose combat capabilities are untested. Perhaps Iraqi forces would collapse at the first confrontation, as some argue. But the likelihood of this happening is greatly increased if it is clear that American military power in overwhelming force stands immediately behind the local forces.
A second prerequisite for a military campaign against Iraq is to define the political outcome. Local opposition would in all likelihood be sustained by the Kurdish minority in the north and the Shiite minority in the south. But if we are to enlist the Sunni majority that now dominates Iraq in the overthrow of Saddam, we need to make clear that the disintegration of Iraq is not the goal of American policy. This is all the more important since a military operation in Iraq would require the support of Turkey and the acquiescence of Saudi Arabia. Neither of these is likely to cooperate if they foresee an independent Kurdish state in the north and a Shiite republic in the south as the probable outcome. A Kurdish state would inflame the Kurdish minority in Turkey and a Shiite state in the south would threaten the Dharan region in Saudi Arabia and might give Iran a new base to seek to dominate the Gulf. A federal structure for a unified Iraq would be a way to deal with this issue.
Creating an appropriate coalition for such an effort and finding bases for the necessary American deployment will be difficult. Phase II is likely to separate the members of the coalition that joined to achieve a veto over American actions from those willing to pursue an implacable strategy.
Nevertheless, the skillful diplomacy that shaped the first phase of the anti-terrorism campaign would have much to build on. Saddam has no friends in the Gulf region. Britain will not easily abandon the pivotal role based on its special relationship with the United States that it has earned for itself in the evolution of the crisis. Nor will Germany move into active
opposition to the United States - especially in an election year - even if its support will be more equivocal than heretofore. The same is true of Russia, China and Japan. A determined American policy thus has more latitude than is generally assumed.
But it will be far more difficult than Phase I. Local resistance - especially in Iraq - will be more determined and ruthless. Domestic opposition will mount in many countries. American public opinion will be crucial in sustaining such a course. It will need to be shaped by the same kind of decisive and subtle leadership by which President Bush unified the country for the first phase of the crisis.
On November 28th an estimated 1,000 people came from as far away as Seattle and San Francisco to Portland State University to see FTW Publisher/Editor Mike Ruppert give a 2 ½ hour lecture and documentary presentation on the events surrounding the September 11th attacks and their aftermath. Starting with an offer of $1,000 to anyone who could show that any of the sources he cited were not authentic or misrepresented, Ruppert launched into an display of more than 40 visual exhibits showing government complicity in and foreknowledge of the attacks.
The event was organized by the campus newspaper The Rear Guard and its editor Dimitris Desyllas. 'I never expected that we would have this kind of turnout', Desyllas said. 'But it is obvious that the public has very deep concerns about what we are being told and what the government is doing. We eventually brought in 860 chairs and there were people all around the walls and on the floor.' One of the volunteer videographers at the event was a Native American spiritual teacher of the Dakota Sioux nation, Skip Mahawk. Mahawk, then with the 101st Airborne Division, won the Congressional Medal of Honor at the legendary 1969 Vietnam War battle known as Hamburger Hill. Mahawk refused to accept the decoration.
Ruppert's lecture was full of documentary evidence. After pointing out ' among other things ' that the Chief of Pakistani intelligence (approved for his position by the CIA) ordered a $100,000 wire transfer to lead hijacker Mohammed Atta; that the Bush family had business dealings with the bin Laden family through the Carlyle Group, that the U.S. and British governments had extensive military deployments already in the area before the attacks, and that the Bush administration had ordered the FBI to stop investigating two relatives of Osama bin Laden living near CIA headquarters this January, Ruppert launched into the centerpiece of the lecture which was a visual presentation of his timeline of events around September 11th - which left some members of the audience in tears.
Special attention was also paid to a newly resurrected Unocal pipeline to transport oil and natural gas from the Central Asian republics to the Pakistani coast for sale to China and Japan. Henry Kissinger is on both ends of that deal.
Audience reaction and anger was strongest as Ruppert presented selected quotes from 'The Grand Chessboard,' a 1997 book by former Carter National Security Advisor and member of the Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Those quotes - along with maps of Central Asia - indicated clearly that the current war had been in the planning stages for at least four years. Two particular quotes from Brzezinski indicating the need for a Pearl Harbor-like attack evoked boos and hisses for the intelligence expert and professor who also served in the Reagan Administration.
Ruppert closed the lecture with an analysis of the assault on American civil liberties since September 11th in the form of the so-called PATRIOT Act and several unilateral decisions made by President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft which have effectively nullified three amendments to the Bill of Rights and taken away part of another. He also showed documentary evidence from Congress supporting his claim that the Bush administration was going to loot the Social Security Trust Fund.
The audience responded to the lecture with a two minute standing ovation.
-- Mike Ruppert's website and information on his subscriber-based newsletter 'From The Wilderness' is at http://www.copvcia.com Anyone interested in arranging a 2002 lecture appearance can obtain additional information by contacting Andrea Shepherd at 818-788-8791 or by emailing email@example.com
Things fall apart, as Chinua Achebe put it, in times of great despair. The American nightmare that began with the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has, like an earthquake, been followed by jolt after jolt of disruption and fear. In the intervening three months, yet another airplane crashed, this time into a residential section of New York City. Anthrax contamination succeeded in closing, for varying lengths of time, all three branches of government. From the tabloids to The New York Times, major media outlets have had their centers of operation evacuated repeatedly. The United States Postal Service is tied in knots. Hundreds of anthrax hoaxes have stretched law enforcement beyond all capacity. Soldiers guard all our public buildings.
Around four thousand Americans have died in planes, collapsing buildings or of anthrax toxin since that morning in September; tens of thousands more have lost their jobs. Some 5000 Arab residents between the ages of 18 and 33 have been summoned for interrogation by the FBI. And twenty million resident aliens live suddenly subject to the exceedingly broad terms of a new martial law. Even while we try follow the president's advice to pick ourselves up in time for the Christmas shopping season, punchdrunk and giddily committed to soldiering on as before, we know that the economic and emotional devastation of these events has only begun to register.
As the enormity of the destruction settles in and becomes less dreamlike, more waking catastrophe, American society begins to face those long-term tests that inevitably come after the shock and horror of so much loss. We face the test of keeping the unity that visited us in that first moment of sheer chaos. We face the test of maintaining our dignity and civility in a time of fear and disorder. Above all, we face the test of preserving the rights and freedoms in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights.
Few in the United States question the necessity for unusual civil measures in keeping with the current state of emergency. But a number of the Bush Administration's new laws, orders and policies are deservedly controversial: the disregard for international treaties and conventions; strict controls on media reports about the war; secret surveillance and searches of citizens* computers; widespread ethnic profiling; indefinite detention of non-citizens; offers of expedited American citizenship to those who provide evidence about terrorists; and military tribunals with the power to try enemies in secret, without application of the usual laws of evidence, without right of appeal, yet with the ability to impose the death penalty. Opportunity for legislative or other public discussion of these measures has been largely eclipsed by the rapidity with which most of them have been pushed into effect. This speed, one must accede, is in large part an exigency of war. It is perhaps also because Mr. Bush has always preferred operating in a rather starkly corporate style. In any event, the president has attempted to enlarge the power of the executive to an unprecedented extent, while limiting both Congressional input as well as the check of the judiciary.
Overall, we face one of the more dramatic Constitutional crises in United States history. First, while national security mandates some fair degree of restraint, blanket control of information is in tension with the Constitution's expectation that freedom of a diverse and opinionated press will moderate the tyrannical tendencies of power. We need to have some inkling of what is happening on the battlefield in our name. On the domestic front, moreover, the First Amendment's protection of free speech, is eroded if even peaceful dissent becomes casually categorized as dangerous or unpatriotic, as it has sometimes been in recent weeks. This concern is heightened by the fact that the war has been framed as one against "terror" - against unruly if deadly emotionalism - rather than as a war against specific bodies, specific land, specific resources.
A war against terrorism is a war of the mind, so broadly defined that the enemy becomes anybody who makes us afraid. Indeed what is conspicuous about American public discourse right now is how hard it is to talk about facts rather than fear.
In a struggle that is coloured by a degree of social panic, we must be very careful not to allow human rights to be cast as an indulgence. There is always a certain hypnosis to the language of war -the poetry of the Pentagon a friend calls it - in which war means peace, and peace-mongering invites war. In this somewhat inverted system of reference, the bleeding heart does not beat within the corpus of law but rather in the bosom of those whose craven sympathies amount to naive and treacherous self-delusion. Everywhere one hears what, if taken literally, amounts to a death knell for the American dream: rights must be tossed out the window because "the constitution is not a suicide pact".
But accepting rational reasons to be afraid, the unalloyed ideology of efficiency has not only chilled free expression, but left us poised at the gateway of an even more fearsome world in which the "comfort" and convenience of high-tech totalitarianism gleam temptingly; a world in which our American-ness endures only with hands up! so that our fingerprints can be scanned, and our nationalized-identity scrutinised for signs of suspicious behaviour.
This brings me to the second aspect of our Constitutional crisis - that is, the encroachment of our historical freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. The establishment of the new Office of Homeland Security and the passage of the so-called USA Patriot Act has brought into being an unprecedented merger between the functions of intelligence agencies and law enforcement. What this means might be clearer if we used the more straightforward term for intelligence - that is, spying. Law enforcement agents can now spy on us, "destabilizing" citizens not just non-citizens.They can gather information with few checks or balances from the judiciary.
Morton Halperin, a defense expert who worked with the National Security Council under Henry Kissinger, was quoted, in The New Yorker magazine, worrying that if a government intelligence agency thinks you're under the control of a foreign government, "they can wiretap you and never tell you, search your house and never tell you, break into your home, copy your hard drive, and never tell you that they've done it." Moreover, says Halperin, upon whose own phone Kissinger placed a tap, "Historically, the government has often believed that anyone who is protesting government policy is doing it at the behest of a foreign government and opened counterintelligence investigations of them."
This expansion of domestic spying highlights the distinction between punishing what has already occurred and preventing what might happen in the future. In a very rough sense, agencies like the F.B.I. have been concerned with catching criminals who have already done their dirty work, while agencies like the CIA have been involved in predicting or manipulating future outcomes - activities of prior restraint, in other words, from which the Constitution generally protects citizens.
The third and most distressing area of Constitutional concern has been Mr Bush's issuance of an executive order setting up military tribunals that would deprive even long-time resident aliens of the right to due process of law. The elements of the new order are as straightforward as trains running on time. The President would have the military try non-citizens suspected of terrorism in closed tribunals rather than courts.
No requirement of public charges, adequacy of counsel, usual rules of evidence, nor proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The cases would be presented before unspecified judges, with rulings based on the accusations of unidentified witnesses. The tribunals would have the power to execute anyone so convicted, with no right of appeal. According to polls conducted by National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and ABC News, approximately 65% of Americans wholeheartedly endorse such measures.
"Foreign terrorists who commit war crimes against the United States, in my judgment, are not entitled to and do not deserve the protections of the American Constitution," says Attorney General John Ashcroft in defense of tribunals. There are a number of aspects of that statement that ought to worry us. The reasoning is alarmingly circular in Ashcroft's characterization of suspects who have not yet been convicted as "terrorists." It presumes guilt before adjudication. Our system of innocent-until-proven-guilty is hardly foolproof, but does provide an essential, base-line bulwark against the furious thirst for quick vengeance, the carelessly deadly mistake - albeit in the name of self-protection.
It is worrisome, too, when the highest prosecutor in the land declares that war criminals do not "deserve" basic constitutional protections. We confer due process not because putative criminals are "deserving" recipients of rights-as-reward. Rights are not "earned" in this way. What makes rights rights is that they ritualize the importance of solid, impartial and public consensus before we take life or liberty from anyone, particularly those whom we fear. We ritualize this process to make sure we don't allow the grief of great tragedies to blind us with mob fury, inflamed judgments and uninformed reasoning. In any event, Bush*s new order bypasses not only the American Constitution but the laws of most other democratic nations. It exceeds the accepted conventions of most military courts. (I say all this provisionally, given that the Bush administration is urging the enactment of similar anti-terrorism measures in Britain, Russia, and that troublesome holdout, the European Union).
As time has passed since the order was published, a number of popular defenses of tribunals have emerged: we should trust our president, we should have faith in our government, we are in a new world facing new kinds of enemies who have access to new weapons of mass destruction. Assuming all this, we must wonder if this administration also questions whether citizens who are thought to have committed heinous crimes "deserve" the protections of American citizenship. The terrorist who mailed "aerosolised" anthrax spores to various Senate offices is, according to the FBI, probably a lone American microbiologist. Although we have not yet rounded up thousands of microbiologists for questioning by the FBI, I wonder if the government will be hauling them before tribunals - for if this is a war without national borders, the panicked logic of secret trials will surely expand domestically rather than contract. A friend observes wryly that if reasoning behind the order is that the perpetrators of mass death must be summarily executed, then there are some CEOs in the tobacco industry who ought to be trembling in their boots. Another friend who works with questions of reproductive choice notes more grimly that that is exactly the reasoning used by those who assault and murder abortion doctors.
"There are situations when you do need to presume guilt over innocence", one citizen from Chattanooga told The New York Times. The conservative talk show host Mike Reagan leads the pack in such boundlessly-presumed guilt by warning that you might think the guy living next door is the most wonderful person in the world, you see him playing with his children, but in fact "he might be part of a sleeper cell that wants to blow you away." We forget, perhaps, that J. Edgar Hoover justified sabotaging Martin Luther King and the "dangerous suspects" of that era with similar sentiment.
In addition to the paranoia generated, the importance of the right to adequate counsel has been degraded. Attorney General Ashcroft's stated policies include allowing federal officials to listen in on conversations between suspected terrorists and their lawyers. And President Bush's military tribunals would not recognise the right of defendants to choose their own lawyers. Again, there has been very little public opposition to such measures. Rather, one hears many glib, racialised references to OJ Simpson - who, last anyone heard, was still a citizen: "You wouldn't want Osama Bin Laden to have OJ's lawyer, or they'd end up playing golf together in Florida."
The tribunals also challenge the right to a speedy, public and impartial trial. More than 1000 immigrants have been arrested and held, approximately 800 with no disclosure of identities or location or charges against them. This is "frighteningly close to the practice of disappearing people in Latin America," according to Kate Martin, the director of the Center for National Security Studies.
Finally, there has been an ominous amount of public vilification of the constitutional right against self-incrimination. Such a right is, in essence, a proscription against the literal arm-twisting and leg pulling that might otherwise be necessary to physically compel someone to testify when they do not want to. It is perhaps a rather too-subtly-worded limitation of the use of torture.
While not yet the direct subject of official sanction, torture has suddenly gained remarkable legitimacy. Callers to radio programs say that we don't always have the "luxury of following all the rules"; that given recent events, people are *more understanding" of the necessity for a little behind-the-scenes roughing up. The unanimity of international conventions against torture notwithstanding, one hears authoritative voices - for example, Robert Litt, a former Justice Department official - arguing that while torture is not "authorized", perhaps it could be used in "emergencies," as long as the person who tortures then presents himself to "take the consequences".
Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz has suggested the use of "torture warrants" limited, he insists, to cases where time is of the essence. Most alarming of all, a recent CNN poll revealed that 45% of Americans would not object to torturing someone if it would provide information about terrorism. While fully acknowledging the stakes of this new war, I worry that this attitude of lawless righteousness is one that has been practiced in oppressed communities for years. It is a habit that has produced cynicism, riots and bloodshed. The always-urgently-felt convenience of torture has left us with civic calamities ranging from Abner Louima--a Haitian immigrant whom two New York City police officers beat and sodomized with a broom handle because they mistook him for someone involved in a barroom brawl-- to Jacobo Timerman in Argentina to Alexander Solzenizhen in the Soviet Union--all victims of physical force and mental manipulation, all people who refused to speak or didn't speak the words their inquisitors wanted to hear, but who were 'known' to know something. In such times and places, the devastation has been profound. People know nothing so they suspect everything. Deaths are never just accidental. Every human catastrophe is also a mystery and mysteries create ghosts, hauntings, "blowback", and ultimately new forms of terror. The problem with this kind of 'preventive' measure is that we are not mindreaders. Even with sodium pentathol, whose use some have suggested recently, we don't and we can't know every last thought of those who refuse to speak.
Torture is an investment in the right to be all-knowing, in the certitude of what appears "obvious." It is the essence of totalitarianism. Those who justify it with confident proclamations of "I have nothing to hide, why should they," overlap substantially with the class of those who have never been the persistent object of suspect profiling, never been harrassed, never been stigmatized or generalized or feared just for the way they look.
The human mind is endlessly inventive. People create enemies as much as fear real ones. We are familiar with stories of the intimate and wrong-headed projections heaped upon the maid who is accused of taking something that the lady of the house simply misplaced. Stoked by trauma, tragedy and dread, the creativity of our paranoia is in overdrive right now. We must take a deep collective breath and be wary of persecuting those who conform to our fears instead of prosecuting enemies who were and will be smart enough to play against such prejudices.
In grief, sometimes we merge with the world, all boundary erased in deference to the commonality of the human condition. But traumatic loss can also mean - sometimes - that you want to hurt anyone in your path. Anyone who is lighthearted, you want to crush. Anyone who laughs is discordant. Anyone who has a healthy spouse or child is your enemy, is undeserving, is frivolous and in need of muting.
When I served as a prosecutor years ago, I was very aware of this propensity among victims, the absolute need to rage at God or whoever is near - for that is what great sorrow feels like when the senses are overwhelmed. You lose words and thus want to reinscribe the hell of which you cannot speak. It is unfair that the rest of the world should not suffer as you have.
This is precisely why we have always had rules in trials about burdens of proof, standards of evidence, the ability to confront and cross-examine witnesses. The fiercely evocative howls of the widow, the orphan, the innocently wronged - these are the forces by which many a lynch mob has been rallied, how many a posse has been motivated to bypass due process, how many a holy crusade has been launched. It is easy to suspend the hard work of moral thought in the name of Ultimate Justice, or even Enduring Freedom, when one is blindly grief-stricken. "If you didn't do it then your brother did", is the underlying force of blood feuds since time began. "If you're not with us, you're against us", is the dangerous modern corollary to this rage.
I have many friends for whom the dominant emotion is anger. Mine is fear, and not only of the conflagration smouldering throughout the Middle East. I fear no less the risks closer to home: this is how urban riots occur, this is how the Japanese were interned during world war two, this is why hundreds of "Arab-looking" Americans have been attacked and harassed in the last weeks alone.
I hear much about how my sort of gabbling amounts to nothing but blaming the victim. But it is hardly a matter of condoning to point out that we cannot afford to substitute some statistical probability or hunch for actual evidence. We face a wrenching global crisis now, of almost unimaginable proportion, but we should take the risks of precipitous action no less seriously than when the grief with which we were stricken drove us to see evil embodied in witches, in Jews, in blacks or heathens or hippies.
Perhaps our leaders have, as they assure us, more intelligence about these matters than we the people can know at this time. I spend a lot of time praying that they are imbued with greater wisdom. But the stakes are very, very high. We cannot take an evil act and use it to justify making an entire people, an entire nation or an entire culture the corpus of "evil".
Give the government the power to assassinate terrorists, comes the call on chat shows. Spare us a the circus of long public trials, say the letters to the editor.
I used to think that the most important human rights work facing Americans would be a national reconsideration of the death penalty. I could not have imagined that we would so willingly discard even the right of habeus corpus. I desperately hope we are a wiser people than to unloose the power to kill based on undisclosed "information" with no accountability.
We have faced horrendous war crimes in the world before. World war two presented lessons we should not forget, and Nuremburg should be our model. The United States and its allies must seriously consider the option of a world court. Our greatest work is always keeping our heads when our hearts are broken. Our best resistance to terror is the summoning of those principles so suited to keep us from descending into infinite bouts of vengeance and revenge with those who wonder, like Milton's Stygian Counsel.
Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,
Belike through impotence, or unaware,
To give his Enemies their wish, and end
Them in his anger, whom his anger saves
To punish endless....
Guardian - Monday November 12, 2001
The war against terrorism, the prime minister tells us, could last for years and, although only one country has been bombed so far, it has been made clear that any country which is suspected of harbouring terrorist groups could be attacked. President Bush has said that "those who are not with us are against us" which defines the enemy even more broadly.
Initially these operations were described as a crusade, but we are now told that this is not a "holy war" against Islam, although the Archbishop of Canterbury, on his visit to the Middle East, has pronounced it to be a "just war" that good Christians can and should support.
Osama bin Laden has been named as the man behind the atrocity in New York but there is no question of him being brought to trial because the United States is opposed to any international war crimes tribunal which would have the authority to try US citizens. In any case, ex-president Clinton and President Bush have already ordered that he be assassinated on sight.
It is easy to see why the US does not want Bin Laden brought to court. In his own defence he would, no doubt, point out that he was armed and financed by the CIA as a freedom fighter (or terrorist) to oust the Russians when they invaded Afghanistan.
Apart from a UN security council resolution condemning terrorism, the procedure for dealing with threats to peace under the UN charter have been set aside. By invoking Article 5 Nato did not absolve itself from the responsibilities laid down in the Nato treaty to abide by the provisions of the UN charter.
People who have been campaigning against the bombing at massive demonstrations all over the world - another big one takes place in London on November 18 - have been compared to those who appeased Hitler, or accused of lacking moral fibre (a wartime phrase used to describe cowardice in the face of the enemy), or of somehow having forgotten the horrific scenes in New York that day.
Paul Marsden, in his remarkable but wholly credible account of his meeting with the Labour chief whip, was apparently told that opposition to war was not accepted as a matter of conscience. Strenuous efforts were made to prevent any vote against the war from taking place in the House, and the government has so far refused to seek a positive vote for its policy in the Commons.
Meanwhile B-52s are carpet bombing the Taliban lines in the hope that the Northern Alliance will seize the opportunity thus created to break through and save the lives of US troops who might otherwise be sacrificed in battle - a questionable strategy which would create huge political problems were the Northern Alliance to take over the whole country.
Despite all the war-like statements emerging every day from No 10, Britain's military role has been minuscule, apparently limited to firing a few missiles from a submarine, providing logistic support and keeping some British soldiers on standby.
The real value to Washington of the prime minister's involvement is that he is providing political cover for whatever the president wants to do, thus breathing life into that popular phrase the "international community" which helps to divert attention from the fact that this is not a UN war.
And so, as winter approaches with the possibility that hundreds of thousands of people may starve or freeze to death, we are being reassured that this is a just war that we must and can win.
Perhaps we should be asking ourselves whether by our silence, we may be acquiescing in the perpetration of crimes against humanity in that those who have already suffered so much are now suffering even more because their land is urgently needed for a pipeline to get Caspian oil to the US market.
Some people, who are very unhappy about all this, do ask the question: "what would you do?" But if terrorism is ever to be eliminated it must be tackled at its roots, by forcing Israel to accept a Palestinian state, ending the bombing of Iraq and the killing of its citizens by sanctions, withdrawing US forces from Saudi Arabia and establishing a truly international court of justice able to deal with terrorism. Bush's recent refusal to meet Arafat means Washington is not serious about a settlement.
Perhaps the most important lesson of all is that our best hope of building a safer and more peaceful world lies in reconstructing our policy around the UN and authorising it to control the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and the multinational corporations which now dominate the global economy and expect the Pentagon to step in to defend their interests from any national liberation movements that might threaten their profits.
The attack on the One World Financial Centre (WTC) was not a great surprise to many critics of the foreign office. It's easy to be wise after the event but a 'spectacular' was predicted by many as a pretext for more western interventionism.
Why, since our bombing commenced, haven't the attacks on Kabul been covered live on our TV screens? Why haven't whole sections of the insides of newspapers been given over to the ruinous images Afghan photographers are snapping this morning? We are being told to make a distinction between good bloodshed and bad.
'Self-harming' was secretly planned by the CIA in the early sixties to provide a pretext for the Cuba invasion. (see http://www.bilderberg.org/boneswar.htm#02Mar01 ) If Mossad or the CIA sponsored the S11 attack we may never know because that likelihood is not available for consideration. Citing reasons of 'national security' interlligence agencies are beyond question, especially in wartime. The simple motive, US expansionism, is certainly there.
But it was the October 14th rejection, by the US President, of the Taleban's offer to hand Bin Laden over for trial in a neutral country that gave the game away. The US elite, on that day, showed the world they don't want justice. The elite military, industrialists and the geostrategic planners want war. Some might say in the curent economic climate they need a war. They treat our world like a poker table. Where you bluff your way through and constantly up the stakes to keep your opponent on the back foot.
This so-called war has acted as a convenient cover for the invasion of Palestine by the Isreali army, the dismantling of domestic civil liberties and other western totalitarian moves. Aand this war has no specific objective. The military now have an endless list of bogey-men that they can persue one after another as an excuse for their never-ending war. But their dream could be our nightmare. The action against Islam and might backfire if we are passive or cynical enough to let the perpetrators continue this 'war'.
Many of those who died in the twin towers were not in every sense 'innocent' either. Through poverty, starvation, lack of education, IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes and sanctions, economic warfare is killing millions of people every year. The World Bank and IMF have been beating the South back into the stone age for decades now and the financial speculators in the World Trade Centre (The One World Financial Centre) must bear some responsibility for helping enforce this cowardly New Financial Order of death by debt. Yes, many of those who died in New York were responsible for reinforcing grotesque opulence in the west and grinding poverty in the South. Spending, that is gambling, vast sums of money on whatever will generate a profit, anywhere in the world, regardless of the human consequences.
The problem comes when you realise some of the greatest profits come from war. People will borrow any amount of money at any interest rate to fight a war. Financial dealers and bankers think nothing of lining the pockets of both sides in a conflict especially when the victor honours the debts of the vanquished.
Most of the world's terrorists are and have been trained and sponsored by the covert operations arms of western governments. Particularly embarrassing is the sheer scale of the US terrorist training programme (see article below). MI5 whistleblower David Shayler has pointed out the UK government's foreign intelligence arm MI6 launced a (thankfully) botched attempt to kill Colonel Gadaffi.
Interference by crumbling and sham democracies such as the EU, UK and USA in the affairs of other countries must not escape the spotlight. Current efforts to make the Zimbabwe economy 'scream' and destabilise elections invite terrorist retaliation. Incidents like the arrest and humiliating trial for war crimes of democratically elected Serbian President Milosevich also. Ex MI6 officer, Richard Tomlinson, revealed MI6 were planning Milisevic's assassination.
The terrorists in MI6 must be brought to trial before our government starts throwing its weight around and pontificating on the subject.
Will Henry Kissinger, who ordered the assassination of democratic Chilean general Rene Schneider in 1970, be hanging his head like Milosevic as he walks into the world criminal court? (see http://www.bilderberg.org/kissing.htm ) The sooner the better. He's a menace to society walking the streets (or tearing round the world at breakneck speed) The US government's 'war on terrorism will never be taken seriously unless this most famous of terrorist suspects is brought to trial. Just last week Henry Kissinger was keynote speaker at the Centre for Policy Studies in London. One of the primary 'think-tanks' for developing British government policy.
And as the press does its best to untangle the wreckage of the September 11th attacks it will do well to examine closely its relations with the I-OPS department of British Military Intelligence.
I-OPS department boasted to whistleblower David Shayler, while he was working for MI5, they had 'a spy in every newsroom in Britain'. I-OPS helps vet, unbeknowns to candidates, all employees of the BBC as well as handling 'friendly' reporters and editors such as Dominic Lawson and 'diplomatic' and 'intelligence' correspondants. I-OPS builds up a relationship of trust by feeding reporters exclusive stories from their privileged knowledge of cabinet/military briefs and the intelligence gathered by GCHQ. Real scoops as well as smears are fed to the press. Craving the cudos guillible hacks lap the sweet up with the sour and regurgitate it all for public consumption.
But these cozy relationships with journalists come into their own in wartime when outright lies, designed to bring the public in behind the war and/or trick the enemy, get presented as fact. And it is precisely in wartime that journalists sucked into this I-OPS dance of death, those doing the dirty on newsroom colleagues who don't support the phoney war, need to search their conciences. They need to distance themselves by coming clean about where they've been tricked in the past and dishing what dirt they know on those whose job it is to make sure that the first casualty of war is the truth.
So let's stop boming Kabul right now. This phoney war can only escalate. In the UK we can announce a review of World Bank/IMF programmes and Iraqi Sanctions by the World Development Movement or similar independent group. Running parallel with a public enquiry into the I-OPS department of UK Military Intelligence.
One final point... If I'm right, and the attacks on the WTC were perpetrated somewhere within Western Intelligence, watch for British public opinion to swing against this phoney war. It could be time for another 'spectacular'. This time closer to home.
French report claims terrorist leader stayed in Dubai hospital
Guardian - Thursday November 1, 2001
Two months before September 11 Osama bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.
The disclosures are known to come from French intelligence which is keen to reveal the ambiguous role of the CIA, and to restrain Washington from extending the war to Iraq and elsewhere.
Bin Laden is reported to have arrived in Dubai on July 4 from Quetta in Pakistan with his own personal doctor, nurse and four bodyguards, to be treated in the urology department. While there he was visited by several members of his family and Saudi personalities, and the CIA.
The CIA chief was seen in the lift, on his way to see Bin Laden, and later, it is alleged, boasted to friends about his contact. He was recalled to Washington soon afterwards.
Intelligence sources say that another CIA agent was also present; and that Bin Laden was also visited by Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence, who had long had links with the Taliban, and Bin Laden. Soon afterwards Turki resigned, and more recently he has publicly attacked him in an open letter: "You are a rotten seed, like the son of Noah".
The American hospital in Dubai emphatically denied that Bin Laden was a patient there.
Washington last night also denied the story.
Private planes owned by rich princes in the Gulf fly frequently between Quetta and the Emirates, often on luxurious "hunting trips" in territories sympathetic to Bin Laden. Other sources confirm that these hunting trips have provided opportunities for Saudi contacts with the Taliban and terrorists, since they first began in 1994.
Bin Laden has often been reported to be in poor health. Some accounts claim that he is suffering from Hepatitis C, and can expect to live for only two more years.
According to Le Figaro, last year he ordered a mobile dialysis machine to be delivered to his base at Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Whether the allegations about the Dubai meeting are confirmed or not, the wider leaks from the French secret service throw a worrying light on the rivalries and lack of coordination between intelligence agencies, both within the US and between western allies.
A familiar complaint of French intelligence is that collaboration with the Americans has been essentially one-way, with them happy to receive information while giving little in return.
"If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents," George Bush announced on the day he began bombing Afghanistan, "they have become outlaws and murderers themselves. And they will take that lonely path at their own peril." I'm glad he said "any government", as there's one which, though it has yet to be identified as a sponsor of terrorism, requires his urgent attention.
For the past 55 years it has been running a terrorist training camp, whose victims massively outnumber the people killed by the attack on New York, the embassy bombings and the other atrocities laid, rightly or wrongly, at al-Qaida's door. The camp is called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or Whisc. It is based in Fort Benning, Georgia, and it is funded by Mr Bush's government.
Until January this year, Whisc was called the "School of the Americas", or SOA. Since 1946, SOA has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers and policemen. Among its graduates are many of the continent's most notorious torturers, mass murderers, dictators and state terrorists. As hundreds of pages of documentation compiled by the pressure group SOA Watch show, Latin America has been ripped apart by its alumni.
In June this year, Colonel Byron Lima Estrada, once a student at the school, was convicted in Guatemala City of murdering Bishop Juan Gerardi in 1998. Gerardi was killed because he had helped to write a report on the atrocities committed by Guatemala's D-2, the military intelligence agency run by Lima Estrada with the help of two other SOA graduates. D-2 coordinated the "anti-insurgency" campaign which obliterated 448 Mayan Indian villages, and murdered tens of thousands of their people. Forty per cent of the cabinet ministers who served the genocidal regimes of Lucas Garcia, Rios Montt and Mejia Victores studied at the School of the Americas.
In 1993, the United Nations truth commission on El Salvador named the army officers who had committed the worst atrocities of the civil war. Two-thirds of them had been trained at the School of the Americas. Among them were Roberto D'Aubuisson, the leader of El Salvador's death squads; the men who killed Archbishop Oscar Romero; and 19 of the 26 soldiers who murdered the Jesuit priests in 1989. In Chile, the school's graduates ran both Augusto Pinochet's secret police and his three principal concentration camps. One of them helped to murder Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit in Washington DC in 1976.
Argentina's dictators Roberto Viola and Leopoldo Galtieri, Panama's Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos, Peru's Juan Velasco Alvarado and Ecuador's Guillermo Rodriguez all benefited from the school's instruction. So did the leader of the Grupo Colina death squad in Fujimori's Peru; four of the five officers who ran the infamous Battalion 3-16 in Honduras (which controlled the death squads there in the 1980s) and the commander responsible for the 1994 Ocosingo massacre in Mexico.
All this, the school's defenders insist, is ancient history. But SOA graduates are also involved in the dirty war now being waged, with US support, in Colombia. In 1999 the US State Department's report on human rights named two SOA graduates as the murderers of the peace commissioner, Alex Lopera. Last year, Human Rights Watch revealed that seven former pupils are running paramilitary groups there and have commissioned kidnappings, disappearances, murders and massacres. In February this year an SOA graduate in Colombia was convicted of complicity in the torture and killing of 30 peasants by paramilitaries. The school is now drawing more of its students from Colombia than from any other country.
The FBI defines terrorism as "violent acts... intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government, or affect the conduct of a government", which is a precise description of the activities of SOA's graduates. But how can we be sure that their alma mater has had any part in this? Well, in 1996, the US government was forced to release seven of the school's training manuals. Among other top tips for terrorists, they recommended blackmail, torture, execution and the arrest of witnesses' relatives.
Last year, partly as a result of the campaign run by SOA Watch, several US congressmen tried to shut the school down. They were defeated by 10 votes. Instead, the House of Representatives voted to close it and then immediately reopen it under a different name. So, just as Windscale turned into Sellafield in the hope of parrying public memory, the School of the Americas washed its hands of the past by renaming itself Whisc. As the school's Colonel Mark Morgan informed the Department of Defense just before the vote in Congress: "Some of your bosses have told us that they can't support anything with the name 'School of the Americas' on it. Our proposal addresses this concern. It changes the name." Paul Coverdell, the Georgia senator who had fought to save the school, told the papers that the changes were "basically cosmetic".
But visit Whisc's website and you'll see that the School of the Americas has been all but excised from the record. Even the page marked "History" fails to mention it. Whisc's courses, it tells us, "cover a broad spectrum of relevant areas, such as operational planning for peace operations; disaster relief; civil-military operations; tactical planning and execution of counter drug operations".
Several pages describe its human rights initiatives. But, though they account for almost the entire training programme, combat and commando techniques, counter-insurgency and interrogation aren't mentioned. Nor is the fact that Whisc's "peace" and "human rights" options were also offered by SOA in the hope of appeasing Congress and preserving its budget: but hardly any of the students chose to take them.
We can't expect this terrorist training camp to reform itself: after all, it refuses even to acknowledge that it has a past, let alone to learn from it. So, given that the evidence linking the school to continuing atrocities in Latin America is rather stronger than the evidence linking the al-Qaida training camps to the attack on New York, what should we do about the "evil-doers" in Fort Benning, Georgia?
Well, we could urge our governments to apply full diplomatic pressure, and to seek the extradition of the school's commanders for trial on charges of complicity in crimes against humanity. Alternatively, we could demand that our governments attack the United States, bombing its military installations, cities and airports in the hope of overthrowing its unelected government and replacing it with a new administration overseen by the UN. In case this proposal proves unpopular with the American people, we could win their hearts and minds by dropping naan bread and dried curry in plastic bags stamped with the Afghan flag.
You object that this prescription is ridiculous, and I agree. But try as I might, I cannot see the moral difference between this course of action and the war now being waged in Afghanistan.
The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American soldiers in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. Graduates of the SOA are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America.
Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians. (See Grads in the News, SOA Grads in Action, Reports)
On January 17, 2001 the SOA was replaced by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC).
This is a flash movie - you may need to download a plugin for your browser - don't bother if you haven't got a sound card though. I was a bit worried by the 'Bin Laden, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide' at the end of this short movie - but the overall sentiment I totally agree with.
Monday October 29, 2001
Before the dust had settled on Ground Zero, US Secretary of State Colin Powell received a call from his son, who had swiftly made his way to Lower Manhattan to take in the carnage with his own eyes. His message to the man charged with formulating policies to win the war on terrorism: "Dad, the TV pictures don't do justice to the tragedy before us."
The cathode ray tube may have struggled to convey the full enormity of the world's worst terrorist atrocity, but, whatever its inadequacies, Michael K Powell must watch a lot of US TV. And listen to a lot of radio. And spend a lot of time surfing websites. As chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, he is chief regulator of all broadcast media Stateside, including cable TV, as well as telecoms and the internet.
The crucial significance of the body he spearheads has been summed up by Clay Shirky, professor of media studies at Hunter College: "The FCC is the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] of the 21st century. Americans spend more of their lives in the media landscape than in the natural one, putting the FCC in charge of the environment most of us really inhabit. This concentrates a huge amount of power in the hands of Michael Powell."
Shirky is far from alone in anticipating that this 38-year-old wunderkind could preside over the greatest change in the US's media landscape since the Depression. Explaining the difference between the secretary of state and his smooth, ambitious son, Democrat congressman Ed Markey quipped that Michael is the Powell with the power to affect the world today.
A joke, obviously. Michael Powell clearly operates in the shadow of his idolised dad, retired three-star general/war hero/possible presidential candidate/most admired American, Colin Powell. But few people have as much power to influence American popular culture and its (suddenly fragile) new economy as the FCC chief.
So how will Powell use his power? To preserve the last vestiges of diversity on the airwaves and prevent the emergence of an information underclass in America's ghettos? Or to cosy up to the conglomerates that increasingly dominate the media landscape by crushing or swallowing up any competition? Or simply to give rappers a bum rap?
One of Powell's first acts as FCC chairman was to slap a $7,000 (£4,900) fine on a local radio station for playing Eminem's The Real Slim Shady, a track laced with sexually explicit profanities. The fact that KKMG was punished for transmitting a cleaned-up version of this number brought back scary memories of the last time a Republican led the FCC. In the early 90s shock jock Howard Stern was hit with $1.2m in fines for his offensive utterances.
Powell has told rappers not to read too much into this one ruling, insisting that he has a steadfast commitment to upholding the cherished First Amendment, the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.
But there's no disguising where his partisan loyalties lie. Powell was appointed by George Bush and would never have got the FCC chairmanship had Al Gore stacked up a few more chads in Florida. "I'm happy to call myself a Republican," he says. "I don't think there's anything about my race that says I have to be a Democrat."
Powell has also professed to be a moderate like his father and been credited with a strong streak of compassionate conservatism. But the latter came into question when, in one of his first interviews as FCC chief, he questioned the existence of a digital divide between rich and poor Americans. "I think there's a Mercedes divide," he stated. "I'd like one but I can't afford one." The next day's papers had a field day. Actually, his insensitive soundbite was whipped up out of context. Powell went on to add: "I'm not completely flip about this - I think it's an important social issue." But the damage was done.
Progressives of all colours and creeds drew unflattering comparisons between Powell and his predecessor, William Kennard, who made history by becoming the first African-American to head the FCC. Kennard also exhibited a radical sense of history when he talked passionately about the US's third major economic revolution. In the first two - the agricultural and industrial revolutions - black people either "picked cotton" or were "legally segregated". But the information revolution, he declared, would give minorities their first chance to take the lead.
That chance was blown when Kennard was replaced by Bush, according to the Rev Jesse Jackson. Addressing the annual convention of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters in Washington in March, Jackson laid into Powell's laissez-faire approach, warning that it would ultimately reduce the number of black voices in broadcasting.
After nine months in office, Powell does appear hellbent on pursuing a corporate-friendly agenda that can only result in a further torrent of mergers in the media industries. Entertainment industry fatcats purred when this barrel-chested Republican, with a penchant for pinstripe suits and every technological gizmo on the market, became one of the first beneficiaries of George W Bush's presidential patronage.
"They love Powell for a reason," said Robert McChesney, of the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois. "He has a record of advancing their interests, not ours. As a result of Powell's tenure, their firms will grow much larger, much more powerful and operate in less competitive markets."
Powell's open contempt for regulations that place constraints on corporations eager to expand is summed up in his stark slogan: "Validate or eliminate". Within weeks of taking command at the FCC, he relaxed the cross-media ownership rules to allow Rupert Murdoch's Fox Network to acquire 10 more affiliates across the country. This gave the Dirty Digger two stations in New York City, where he also owns a powerful daily paper.
Even before his elevation to the FCC chairmanship, when he was one of the five commissioners, Powell passed up no opportunity to demonstrate dedication to deregulation. He was under heavy pressure to abstain from voting on AOL's controversial acquisition of Time Warner because his father held options on $13.3m worth of AOL stock, but he insisted on doing his bit to bring about the biggest media firm on the planet.
Colin Powell insisted at the time that he did not discuss this mega-deal with his son - nor his potential inheritance. "There is a firewall between him and me, not just on this but on anything he does," he said.
Mutterings about nepotism stalked Michael Powell long before he backed this controversial merger. There's no doubt his father's DC connections have opened doors: family friend Senator John McCain manoeuvred to get him onto the FCC in the last Clinton administration.
Powell responded to the negative whisperings in Washington during that period: "I'm sure there's a whole lot of people in this town that, when my name surfaced, they said, 'He must be getting this because he's the son of somebody.' Sure, go ahead and underestimate me. I don't have time for negative people. I don't have time for an unhappy disposition. I can taste the preciousness of life."
Powell's zest for living stems from a serious brush with death in 1987. Then a 24-year-old executive officer in the US Army, stationed in Germany, he was riding shotgun in a second world war-style jeep racing along the autobahn. The driver fell asleep at the wheel and the vehicle overturned. Powell was hurled into the air. After he landed, the jeep crashed down on him. His body was almost literally snapped in half. He spent the next year laid out in an army medical centre in Washington. His two sisters kept a bedside vigil. His father came by as often as possible to hold his hand and watch repeats of The Brady Bunch with him.
He made an almost miraculous recovery and now refers to the accident as "the best thing that ever happened" because it brought his old college sweetheart, Jane Knott, to his bedside. They married and now have two children, on whom he dotes.
But the accident cut short his military career. After various office jobs in the defence department, Powell went to Georgetown University in Washington to study law, from where he proceeded rapidly to become chief of staff in the antitrust division in the department of justice. Before that, he did a stint in the DC office of an LA law firm specialising in telecommunications regulation. That brief experience could prove most useful to him. The biggest problem the FCC faces is the crisis in the telecommunciations industry, which in raw economic and employment terms totally dwarfs the meltdown of dot.coms.
Powell is up to the challenge, according to Reed Hunt, President Clinton's first FCC chairman, who has said: "No FCC chairman, from day one, has been more politically powerful, more well-connected and more knowledgeable since perhaps Newton Minow during JFK's administration."
As politics, the media and the economy increasingly converge across the Atlantic, Michael Powell will be under heavy pressure to live up to that lavish praise.
· Rob Brown is senior lecturer in journalism at Salford University
When journalists write about intelligence matters and reach for a cliché, invariably it is that intelligence is a wilderness of mirrors. Rarely used is James Angletons other dictum that disinformation might be the chief job of an intelligence agency. The latter is a more accurate statement of what has been appearing in the media since the events of 11 September.
Most journalists appear to confuse information with intelligence when they are two separate concepts. The truth is, they are very different. Agencies collect information that is collated, processed, analysed and then, more often than, spun into intelligence. Raw, unmediated intelligence is rarely available to the media, though it is worth recalling that during the Cuban Missile Crisis the Kennedy administration did release ultra-secret U-2 high-altitude surveillance photographs of the Soviet missile sites on Cuba to the United Nations and then the press.
In the last few weeks we have been liberally dosed with hasty, unverifiable and often contradictory intelligence (Osama Bin Laden is worth $400m: he is broke; he is a friend of Algeria and Iraq; he hates Algerians and Iraqis), little of which can be regarded as reliable. The working practises of investigative journalists on the Washington Post of All the Presidents Men era, when no fact was published without three separate sources to verify it, seems a distant dream.
Ministers, who are often entranced by the magic word secrecy, hide behind the phrase intelligence sources and methods to curtail debate and scrutiny. The reality is that sources can be obscured and blacked out in documents, while methods have not really changed, except for technical details, in decades. Bugs are planted, telephones, fax machines, mobile phones, web sites, internet communications are tapped. All this is common knowledge.
Bin Laden knows this all too well, which is why some reports claim that he never uses these forms of communication. Which, of course, makes his alleged telephone call to his mother just before 11 September, all the more intriguing. Did he make it? His step-father naturally rebuts the claim but adds: Osama has not used a telephone since he discovered that his conversations were being monitored by the United States. (Sunday Times, 7 October 2001)
The point here is, why not release the original tape of the conversation? Did he use the phrase massive events? Is it a correct translation? Robert Fisk, whose sceptical reporting has been a beacon of good journalistic practice, has noted (The Independent, 29 September 2001) previous serious textual errors made by CIA translators.
The British Governments 21 page document laying out the case for Bin Ladens orchestration of the events of 11 September is not particularly impressive. In fact, it is at best flimsy, with little new material of any substance. Chris Blackhurst (Independent on Sunday, 7 October 2001) called it a a report of conjecture, supposition, and unsubstantiated assertions of fact, which is about right. Clearly the Americans thought the same because the CIA decided two days later to leak further information in an attempt to shore up the case. Bin Laden may indeed be guilty of the crime but we have, as yet, seen little evidence to prove it.
In 1951 Prime Minister Clement Attlee was warned of intelligence fears that Russian agents had suitcases with kits to construct an atomic bomb. Attlee was not unduly concerned. The same scenario appeared in the early seventies. Then it was Soviet Special Forces. It surfaced again in the mid-nineties, when stories appeared about weapons-grade plutonium disappearing from Soviet states.
Intelligence agencies continually create alarmist disinformation. Who now recalls Red Mercury the mysterious substance that was a source of cheap nuclear weapons for terrorists, the white-coated mercenaries, the demobbed Soviet scientists selling their knowledge of weapons of mass destruction to Libya and Iraq, the nuclear artillery shells which went missing from Soviet southern states, the Islamic bomb which terrorist were building to be in use by 1995, and the cheap and easily assembled dirty bomb.
Since 11 September the intelligence agencies with the aid of gullible journalists, editors desperate for endless copy and politicians on a crusade have constructed a truly global conspiracy theory. At the top is the mastermind from every Ian Fleming fantasy, Osama Bin Laden, who has a golden domino theory of regional domination in the Middle East, controlling a vast network, Al-Qaeda, of thousands of terrorists across the globe, now asleep but with access to millions of dollars, and all awaiting the call to murder us in our beds.
Al-Qaeda, according to the press, has so far attempted to buy uranium from the Russian mafia, attempted to manufacture chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax and the plague, planned attacks on European gas and oil pipelines, plotted to blow up the US embassy in Paris, planned to kill President Bush at the G8 summit at Genoa, made a huge profit from share dealing immediately prior to the attack in America, plotted a Belgium attack, and is planning another thirty attacks against the West in London, Washington, European capitals and the Vatican.
If James Angleton was alive he might have added a third quote: The function of an intelligence agency is to create fear. Occasionally of course, they get their analysis absolutely right.
In 1993 British intelligence put together a paper Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East. It noted that it thrived on the failure to resolve economic and social problems, corruption in government and the bankruptcy of political ideologies of all kinds. The report said that fundamentalist groups advocating violence and revolution are in a minority. Nevertheless Western, particularly American culture and materialism are seen as a threat to Islamic values [but] fundamentalism doesnt present a coherent and monolithic threat to Western interests in the way that Communism once did. It is not supported by a superpower. Its appeal in Western countries is confined to Muslim minorities and the threat of subversion is, in the UK at least, minimal. Dealings with extreme fundamentalist regimes would be highly unpredictable but not necessarily unmanageable.
The essential message was that the West had to deal with the underlying problems rather than fundamentalism itself.
Unfortunately, the message was not heeded and it continues to get lost in the mix of poor intelligence, political spin and disinformation that proves to be so attractive to the media.
Sunday, 14 October, 2001, 22:12 GMT 23:12 UK
US President George W Bush has rejected an offer by Afghanistan's ruling Taleban to discuss handing over Saudi militant Osama Bin Laden.
Mr Bush ruled out any negotiation, and said all the Taleban had to do was hand over Bin Laden, who is suspected of masterminding last month's terror attacks on the United States.
The Taleban's second-in-command, Maulvi Abdul Kabir, said Bin Laden could be sent to a neutral country if the US halted air strikes, and repeated a demand to be shown evidence of his connection to the attacks.
The offer came as a second week of US-led air raids began.
The Qatari satellite TV station al-Jazeera said that Taleban front line positions north of the capital Kabul were being targeted. There were other reports of explosions in Kabul and the southern Taleban stronghold of Kandahar.
President Bush dismissed the Taleban's latest offer of a compromise within an hour of it being made.
"There's no need to negotiate," he said. "There's no discussion. I told them exactly what to do. All they've got to do is turn [Bin Laden] over."
He added that the Taleban should also hand over Bin Laden's colleagues, destroy his training camps and release foreign aid workers currently detained in Afghanistan.
Earlier on Sunday, the Taleban took a group of international journalists to a village near the city of Jalalabad in the east of the country where they say nearly 200 residents were killed by US bombing last week.
BBC reporter Rahim Ullah Yusuf Zai said the village, which stank of rotting corpses, had been completely destroyed and that journalists had been shown shrapnel and an unexploded bomb.
US military officials have not confirmed the attack, which is said to have taken place last Wednesday.
But our reporter says he is in no doubt that the devastation in the village was caused by a US strike.
The reporters were met with furious protests by distraught locals, many of whom said they had lost relatives in the attack.
Civilian deaths have provoked anti-US demonstrations.
The two nations leading the so-called 'war against terror', the USA and UK, are in fact in the poorest position to be so self-righteous. They are so blinded with rage at these unspeakable attacks, that they conveniently forget that they themselves have committed the most appalling crimes, which remain unpunished. This leaves the weaker people around the world even more annoyed at the outpouring of arrogant propaganda, which will in turn fuel yet more reprisals by infuriated fanatics.
A few examples will suffice. The most ironic one was documented by John Pilger in his excellent "Hidden Agendas", based in turn on the work of the UK based Minority Rights Group. Namely, the forcible removal of the Ilois people from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, south of the Maldives Islands, in the early 70s by a British Labour government, at the request of the USA. Such an act is recognised by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a 'crime against humanity of deportation or forcible transfer of population'. The Ilois recently won a partial victory in the UK courts, but this whole matter ought to be the subject of UN sanctions and prosecutions against both of the perpetrators. The irony is that the USA leased the islands from the UK to situate a military base on the island of Diego Garcia. B52 bombers operating from this base bombed Iraq during the Gulf War, and it will surely now be used in the planned attacks on Afghanistan. This then would be one of the many reasons the USA is openly hostile to the ICC.
How should we consider a country that tests its weapons of mass destruction unknowingly on its own population and that of its neighbours? That was done with most atmospheric nuclear weapons tests around the world until the partial test-ban treaty came into effect. But it has continued with chemical and biological weapons tests on as many as 32 US cities, according to a report to the US Congress by Dr Rogene Henderson. According to Canadian researcher, Donald Scott, the US Government even sought and, amazingly, received permission from the Canadian Government to test its weapons on the city of Winnipeg in the 50s. More recently, in 1984, the USA was allowed to carry out biological weapons tests through the release of hundreds of millions of mosquitoes contaminated with genetically engineered bio-agents along the St Lawrence Seaway. The resulting cancers and other illnesses provided useful data to the US about the likely effectiveness of its weapons. But what about the unsuspecting victims? How would we define this crime under international law?
The infamous MK-Ultra programme, which survived in one form or another up to the 70s, despite having officially been shut down much earlier, involved testing bizarre new technologies on unsuspecting victims in laboratories. We only learned about it officially when it became the subject of a Congressional investigation in the 70s, chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy. So it appears that Mel Gibson is not really playing a totally fictional role in the popular film "Conspiracy Theory".
And these are some of the kinds of tests we know about, so imagine what is actually going on right now.
Others, like Noam Chomsky, have detailed the many atrocities committed by the USA and other powerful nations over the last century, and they do not require further repetition here. A recent book by Christopher Hitchens, called "The Trial of Henry Kissinger", focuses on just one of the individual perpetrators, whom he believes can now be prosecuted for crimes like the carpet-bombing of Cambodia and Laos. It appears the Kissinger in particular might be worried about the International Criminal Court, and seemed rather uncomfortable about the attempted indictment of his old pal Pinochet.
So when are CNN and the BBC going to tell us the full story? It is bad enough that they lay on their "War against terror", and sickeningly urge the US to attack Afghanistan, while possibly also using film of manipulated events to boost their argument. But what is really more sinister is what is not mentioned at all, such as the examples already discussed. CNN even went so far as to have the man himself, Kissinger, on the air, to comment on the attacks shortly afterwards.
Is this the civilised world we are being asked to defend against terrorism? One thing is for sure. We will not get a sense of how really uncivilised it is from our mainstream media outlets, who do their best to keep the skeletons in the cupboards.
Rather than steaming in front of the TV, we should simply turn it off, and gather our information elsewhere. Or another idea, apparently used by the Polish people during martial law, is to leave the TV on, but face it out the window into the street, to show the authorities we do not believe their bullshit.
The link below is for another angle on this whole story. http://www.euobserver.com/index.phtml?selected_topic=7&action=view&article_ id=3561
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- The retired Pakistani general who is closest to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden contends the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington were the work of renegade U.S. Air Force elements working with the Israelis. Gen. Hameed Gul led Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence during the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Gul serves as an adviser to Pakistan's extremist religious political parties, which oppose their government's decision to support the United States in any action against Afghanistan's Taliban regime. Gul contends bin Laden had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, saying instead that they were the work of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service -- a version of events that has been endorsed by Islamic fundamentalist clerics and is widely accepted by Muslims throughout the Arab world.
Here is the transcript of the exclusive interview Gul gave to Arnaud de Borchgrave, United Press International editor at large:
De Borchgrave: So who did Black Sept. 11?
Gul: Mossad and its accomplices. The U.S. spends $40 billion a year on its 11 intelligence agencies. That's $400 billion in 10 years. Yet the Bush Administration says it was taken by surprise. I don't believe it. Within 10 minutes of the second twin tower being hit in the World Trade Center ... CNN said Osama bin Laden had done it. That was a planned piece of disinformation by the real perpetrators. It created an instant mindset and put public opinion into a trance, which prevented even intelligent people from thinking for themselves.
Q: So you're already convinced bin Laden didn't do it?
A: I know bin Laden and his associates. I've been with them here, in Europe and the Middle East. They are graduates of the best universities and are highly intelligent with impressive degrees and speak impeccable English. These are people who have rediscovered fundamental Islamic values. Many come from the Gulf countries where ruling royal families have generated hatred by the way they flout divine law, wasting billions on gratifying their whims, jetting around in large private jets by themselves, and sailing the Mediterranean in big private boats for weeks on end. Osama's best recruits come from feudal areas that are U.S. protectorates and where millions of poor people are seeking human dignity. I have even visited a Christian convent school in Murree, 60 miles from here, where my 13-year-old daughter is studying. The young girls there have told me Osama is their hero. Osama's followers identify with Mujahideen freedom fighters wherever they are defending Islam and its values.
Q: So what makes you think Osama wasn't behind Sept. 11?
A: From a cave inside a mountain or a peasant's hovel? Let's be serious. Osama inspires countless millions by standing up for Islam against American and Israeli imperialism. He doesn't have the means for such a sophisticated operation.
Q: Why Mossad?
A: Mossad and its American associates are the obvious culprits. Who benefits from the crime? The attacks against the twin towers started at 8:45 a.m. and four flights are diverted from their assigned air space and no air traffic controller sounds the alarm. And no Air Force jets scramble until 10 a.m. That also smacks of a small scale Air Force rebellion, a coup against the Pentagon perhaps? Radars are jammed, transponders fail. No IFF -- friend or foe identification -- challenge. In Pakistan, if there is no response to IFF, jets are instantly scrambled and the aircraft is shot down with no further questions asked. This was clearly an inside job. Bush was afraid and rushed to the shelter of a nuclear bunker. He clearly feared a nuclear situation. Who could that have been? Will that also be hushed up in the investigation, like the Warren report after the Kennedy assassination?
Q: At this point, someone might be asking what you've been smoking. What is Israel's interest in such a monstrous plot, which, of course, no one believes except Islamist extremists who concocted this piece of disinformation in the first place, presumably to detract from the real culprits?
A: Jews never agreed to Bush 41 (George H.W. Bush, the 41st president) or 43 (his son George W. Bush, the 43rd president). They made sure Bush senior didn't get a second term. His land-for-peace pressure in Palestine didn't suit Israel. They were also against the young Bush because he was considered too close to oil interests and the Gulf countries. Bush senior and Jim Baker had raised $150 million for Bush junior, much of it from Mideast sources or their American go-betweens. Bush 41 and Baker, as private citizens, had also facilitated the new strategic relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran. I have this from sources in both countries. So clearly the prospect of a Bush 43 was a potential danger to Israel.
Jews were stunned by the way Bush stole the election in Florida. They had put big money on Al Gore. Israel has given its imperialist guardian parent opportunities to turn disaster into a pretext for imposing an all-encompassing military, political and economic agenda to further the cause of global capitalism. While Colin Powell is cautious and others are reckless and want to make up for their failure to defeat Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War 10 years ago, the global agenda is the same. Israel knows it has a short shelf-life before it is overwhelmed by demographics. It is a state that was born in terrorism that terrorized Palestinians into the exile of refugee camps, where they have now subsisted in squalid refugee camps, and is now very much afraid of Pakistan's nuclear capability.
Israel has now handed the Bush family the opportunity it has been waiting for to consolidate America's imperial grip on the Gulf and acquire control of the Caspian basin by extending its military presence in Central Asia. Bush conveniently overlooks -- or is not told -- the fact that Islamic fundamentalists got their big boost in the modern age as CIA assets in the covert campaign I was also involved with to force the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Bush senior was vice president during that entire campaign. And no sooner did he become president on Jan. 20, 1989, than he summoned an inter-agency intelligence meeting and issued an order, among several others, to clip the wings of ISI (Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence) that had been coordinating the entire operation in Afghanistan. I know this firsthand as I was DGISI at the time (director general, ISI).
Q: So how do you read U.S. strategy in Pakistan?
A: The destabilization of Pakistan is part of the U.S. plan because it is a Muslim nuclear state. The U.S. wants to isolate Pakistan from China as part of its containment policy. President Nixon's book "The Real War" said China would be the superpower of the 21st Century. The U.S. is also creating hostility between Pakistan and Afghanistan, two Muslim states to reverse the perception that the Islamic world now has its own nuclear weapons. Bush 43 doesn't realize he is being manipulated by people who understand geopolitics. He is not leading but being led. All he can do is think in terms of the wanted-dead-or-alive culture, which is how Hollywood conditions the masses to think and act.
All summer long we heard about America's shrinking surplus and that the Pentagon would not have sufficient funds to modernize for the 21st century. And now, all of a sudden, the Pentagon can get what it wants without any Democratic Party opposition. How very convenient! Even your cherished civil liberties can now be abridged with impunity to protect the expansion of the hegemony of transnational capitalism. There is now a new excuse to crush anti-globalization protests.
Bush 43 follows Bush 41. Iraq was baited into the Kuwaiti trap when the U.S. told Saddam it was not interested in his inter-Arab squabbles. Two days later, he moved into Kuwait, which was an Iraqi province anyway before the British Empire decreed otherwise. Roosevelt baited the Pearl Harbor trap for the Japanese empire, which provided the pretext for entering World War II. And now the Israelis have given the U.S. the pretext for further expansion into an area that will be critical in the next 25 years - the Caspian basin.
Q: Were you a fundamentalist in the days of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan when you worked closely with the CIA?
A: Not as much as I am today.
Q: What turned you against America?
A: Betrayals and broken promises and what was done to my army career.
Q: And what was that?
A: President Ishaq Khan, who succeeded Zia ul-Haq after his plane was blown out of the sky, wanted to appoint me chief of staff, the highest position in the Pakistani army. The U.S., which by then had clipped ISI's wings, also blocked my promotion by informing the president I was unacceptable. So I was moved to a corps commander position. As ISI director, I held the whole Mujahideen movement in the palm of my hands. We were all pro-American. But then America left us in the lurch and everything went to pieces, including Afghanistan.
The U.S. pushed for a broad-based Afghan government of seven factions and then waved goodbye. Even in the best of democracies, a broad-based coalition does not work. So we quickly had seven jokers in Kabul interested in only one thing - jockeying for power. The gunplay quickly followed, which led to the creation of Taliban, the students of the original Mujahideen, who decided to put an end to it.
Q: What happened to the 1,000 shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that were supplied by president Reagan in 1986 and 87 to the Mujahideen, and that literally grounded the Soviet air force?
A: After the Soviets pulled out, the CIA allocated $60 million to try to buy them back. This just drove the black market price up for one Stinger from $100,000 to $300,000. The Taliban still have about 250 of them for the kind of situation they face today against U.S. aircraft.
Q: Is the U.S. now your enemy?
A: Is the U.S. national interest in contradiction with the Muslim world? The U.S. needs oil, as do its European allies. You have between 6 and 8 million American Muslims and their ranks are growing. About the same number in Europe. Israel aside, we are America's natural allies. Prof. Sam Huntington in his "Clash of Civilizations" puts Confucius and Judeo-Christians in one corner, and us n the other. His prescription is wrong but is being adopted by Bush 43 who has now put 60 countries on his hit list. This is the diabolical school that wants to launch an anti-Muslim "crusade." Muslims understood what Bush meant when he used that word. We need a meeting, not a clash, of civilizations. We are on the brink of disaster. It is time to pull back from the brink and reassess before we blow ourselves up. The purpose of Islam is service to humanity. The time for like-minded people to have a meeting of the minds is now.
Q: But you are against democracy, so how can there be a meeting of the minds?
A: Democracy does not work. Politicians are constantly thinking of their next election, not the public good, which means, at best, constantly shading the truth to hide it from their constituents. Their pronouncements are laced with lies and the voters are lulled or gulled into believing utter nonsense. The Koran says call a spade a spade. It is the supreme law and tells right from wrong. There is no notion of "my country right or wrong" under divine law. The creator's will predominates. All if subservient to Allah's will and adherence to a set of basic, fundamental values.
Q: So what kind of a system are you advocating?
A: The world needs a post-modern state system. Right now, the nation-state and round the clock satellite TV lead people to imitate America's way of life. Which is mathematically impossible. You have 4 percent of the world's population consuming 32 percent of the world's resources. The creator through Prophet Mohammed said equal distribution. Capitalism is the negation of the creator's will. It leads to imperialism and unilateralism.
Q: So what does this post-modern state system look like?
A: A global village under divine order, or we will have global bloodshed until good triumphs over evil. Islam encapsulates all the principal religions and what was handed down 1,400 years ago was the normal evolutionary sequel to Judaism and Christianity. The prophet's last sermon was a universal document of human rights for everyone that surpasses everything that came since, including America's declaration of independence and the U.N. Charter of universal rights. If you superimpose true secular values on true Islamic values, there is no difference. So surely divine law should supersede man-made law. Islam is egalitarian, tolerant and progressive. It is the wave of the future.
Q: Marxism also believed that the nation-state would eventually wither away.
A: Socialism jumped the rails when it was co-opted by the imperialist Soviet state. Islam believes in dynamism, Christianity stands for static statism. The pope in all his pronouncements has expressed a dogmatic attachment to the status quo. Why are so many black Americans converting to Islam? Because they are looking for true equality which they cannot find under capitalism. Allah has no gender, neither male nor female. Islam has no indirect taxation in an interest-free economy. Usury was a Jewish concept.
Q: Is Iran your model?
A: There isn't a single true Islamic state in the world today. Iran has moved forward from its 1979 revolution, but I am not sure whether it's the right direction.
Q: And Taliban?
A: They represent Islam in its purest form so far. It's a clean sheet. And they were also moving in the right direction when this crisis was cooked up by the U.S. Until Sept. 11, they had perfect law and order with no formal police force, only traffic cops without sidearms. Now, in less than two weeks, they have mobilized some 300,000 volunteers to fight American and British invaders if they come.
Q: And you reaction to U.S. demands on Pakistan?
A: If Pakistan gives the U.S. base rights we will have a national upheaval. And if the U.S. attacks Afghanistan, there will be a call -- a fatwa -- for a general jihad. All borders will then disappear and it will be a no-holds-barred Islamic uprising against Israel and American imperialism. Pakistan will be engulfed in the firestorm. So I can only hope that cooler heads will prevail in Washington.
Q: What about the other U.S. demands?
A: Overflight rights are meaningless since the U.S. violates air space daily all over the world. As for intelligence sharing with ISI, you can't even catch your own terrorists. And what ISI gives you will be of marginal value anyway.
Q: President (Pervez) Musharraf has made strong statements supporting the U.S.
A: He was my student in the army. He is a good man, but he doesn't understand Islam. The army will never fight the masses. If push comes to shove, Musharraf will say no to the Americans rather than turn against the people. He is not just facing a handful of angry people. By his own admission, it's 10 percent to 15 percent of the population, or at least 10 million people willing to fight. For openers, they would close the port of Karachi. A country cannot breathe without lungs.
Q: Back to Osama's terrorist network. Who was behind the bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya?
A: Mossad is strong in both countries. Remember the Israeli operation to free hostages in Entebbe (Uganda)? Both Kenya and Tanzania were part of the logistical tail. A so-called associate of Osama was framed at Karachi airport. The incidents took place on Aug. 8, 1999, and on the 10th a short, clean-shaven man disembarks at Karachi airport and presents the passport of a bearded man. Not your passport, he was told. He then tries to bribe the clerk with 200 rupees. A ludicrously small sum given the circumstances. The clerk says no and turns him in and he starts singing right away. Not plausible. Osama has sworn to me on the Koran it was not him and he is truthful to a fault. Pious Muslims do not kill innocent civilians who included many Muslim victims. The passport must have been switched while the man was asleep on the plane in what has all the earmarks of a Mossad operation. For 10 years, the Mujahideen fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and not a single Soviet embassy was touched anywhere in the world. So this could not have been Osama's followers.
Q: What if bin Laden has been lying to you and is guilty. Is that inconceivable?
A: If Taliban are given irrefutable evidence of his guilt, I am in favor of a fair trial. In America, one is entitled to a jury of peers. But he has no American peers. The Taliban would not object, in the event of a prima face case, to an international Islamic court meeting in The Hague. They would turn extradite Osama to the Netherlands.
Osama bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military strikes against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and Washington, which were allegedly masterminded by the Saudi-born fundamentalist, a Guardian investigation has established.
The threats of war unless the Taliban surrendered Osama bin Laden were passed to the regime in Afghanistan by the Pakistani government, senior diplomatic sources revealed yesterday.
The Taliban refused to comply but the serious nature of what they were told raises the possibility that Bin Laden, far from launching the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon out of the blue 10 days ago, was launching a pre-emptive strike in response to what he saw as US threats.
The warning to the Taliban originated at a four-day meeting of senior Americans, Russians, Iranians and Pakistanis at a hotel in Berlin in mid-July. The conference, the third in a series dubbed "brainstorming on Afghanistan", was part of a classic diplomatic device known as "track two".
It was designed to offer a free and open-ended forum for governments to pass messages and sound out each other's thinking. Participants were experts with long diplomatic experience of the region who were no longer government officials but had close links with their governments.
"The Americans indicated to us that in case the Taliban does not behave and in case Pakistan also doesn't help us to influence the Taliban, then the United States would be left with no option but to take an overt action against Afghanistan," said Niaz Naik, a former foreign minister of Pakistan, who was at the meeting.
"I told the Pakistani government, who informed the Taliban via our foreign office and the Taliban ambassador here."
The three Americans at the Berlin meeting were Tom Simons, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, Karl "Rick" Inderfurth, a former assistant secretary of state for south Asian affairs, and Lee Coldren, who headed the office of Pakistan, Afghan and Bangladesh affairs in the state department until 1997.
According to Mr Naik, the Americans raised the issue of an attack on Afghanistan at one of the full sessions of the conference, convened by Francesc Vendrell, a Spanish diplomat who serves as the UN secretary general's special representative on Afghanistan. In the break afterwards, Mr Naik told the Guardian yesterday, he asked Mr Simons why the attack should be more successful than Bill Clinton's missile strikes on Afghanistan in 1998, which caused 20 deaths but missed Bin Laden.
"He said this time they were very sure. They had all the intelligence and would not miss him this time. It would be aerial action, maybe helicopter gunships, and not only overt, but from very close proximity to Afghanistan. The Russians were listening to the conversation but not participating."
Asked whether he could be sure that the Americans were passing ideas from the Bush administration rather than their own views, Mr Naik said yesterday: "What the Americans indicated to us was perhaps based on official instructions. They were very senior people. Even in 'track two' people are very careful about what they say and don't say."
In the room at the time were not only the Americans, Russians and Pakistanis but also a team from Iran headed by Saeed Rajai Khorassani, a former Iranian envoy to the UN. Three Pakistani generals, one still on active service, attended the conference.
Giving further evidence of the fact that the Berlin meeting was designed to influence governments, the UN invited official representatives of both the Taliban government in Kabul and the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the Northern Alliance's foreign minister, attended. The Taliban declined to send a representative.
The Pakistani government took the US talk of possible strikes seriously enough to pass it on to the Taliban. Pakistan is one of only three governments to recognise the Taliban. Mr Coldren confirmed the broad outline of the American position at the Berlin meeting yesterday. "I think there was some discussion of
the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action." The three former US diplomats "based our discussion on hearsay from US officials", he said. It was not an agenda item at the meeting "but was mentioned just in passing".
Nikolai Kozyrev, Moscow's former special envoy on Afghanistan and one of the Russians in Berlin, would not confirm the contents of the US conversations, but said: "Maybe they had some discussions in the corridor. I don't exclude such a possibility."
Mr Naik's recollection is that "we had the impression Russians were trying to tell the Americans that the threat of the use of force is sometimes more effective than force itself".
The Berlin conference was the third convened since November last year by Mr Vendrell. As a UN meeting, its official agenda was confined to trying to find a negotiated solution to the civil war in Afghanistan, ending terrorism and heroin trafficking, and discussing humanitarian aid.
Mr Simons denied having said anything about detailed operations. "I've known Niaz Naik and considered him a friend for years. He's an honourable diplomat. I didn't say anything like that and didn't hear anyone else say anything like that. We were clear that feeling in Washington was strong, and that military action was one of the options down the road. But details, I don't know where they came from."
The US was reassessing its Afghan policy under the new Bush administration at the time of the July meeting, according to Mr Simons. "It was clear that the trend of US government policy was widening. People should worry, Taliban, Bin Laden ought to worry - but the drift of US policy was to get away from single issue, from concentrating on Bin Laden as under Clinton, and get broader."
Mr Inderfurth said: "There was no suggestion for military force to be used. What we discussed was the need for a comprehensive political settlement to bring an end to the war in Afghanistan, that has been going on for two decades, and has been doing so much damage."
The Foreign Office confirmed the significance of the Berlin discussions. "The meeting was a bringing together of Afghan factions and some interested states and we received reports from several participants, including the UN," it said.
Asked if he was surprised that the American participants were denying the details they mentioned in Berlin, Mr Naik said last night: "I'm a little surprised but maybe they feel they shouldn't have told us anything in advance now we have had these tragic events".
Russia's president Vladimir Putin said in an interview released yesterday that he had warned the Clinton administration about the dangers posed by Bin Laden. "Washington's reaction at the time really amazed me. They shrugged their shoulders and said matter-of-factly: 'We can't do anything because the Taliban does not want to turn him over'."
Understandably there has been an enormous out-pouring of sympathy and empathy for those who perished in Washington and New York. Right thinking human beings around the world are naturally repulsed by such inhumanity to man. We are told that around 5,000 people have lost their lives, which of course is almost unthinkable and the whole world feels for those bereaved.
However, there is something grotesquely disingenuous in the apparent mourning of many of those not directly affected. Just about every high profile figure in societies around the world have expressed their horror and sympathy for the dead and bereaved. These same 'saddened' people apparently find it acceptable that hundreds of thousands of the children of Iraq die as a direct result of American policy on that country. Are we to assume that the lives of Iraqi children are of less importance than the lives of the 'money fraternity' of New York?
If the hijackers use the same kind of reasoning as the American administration, then the passengers on those doomed airliners and those occupying the WTO would be considered as "collateral damage". For the hijackers, the WTO and the Pentagon were even more legitimate targets than the TV station in Belgrade.
There is no doubt that 'the west' has bought into the notion that that which threatens the U.S.A. is of far greater significance than that which devastates nations in the wider world. It is apparently acceptable to all in the "civilised world" that millions in the "developing countries" should die while being exploited by five institutions, all of which are based in the U.S.A.. Those institutions are : The Federal Reserve Bank (The Fed), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with the Pentagon and even NATO as the military wing of all four.
While the American people are as worthy and decent as any on the planet and they know that, so they really need to ask themselves the question WHY they are hated by so many. The swagger of their president seems to epitomise the perceived arrogance of the nation. American life is sacred, but all outside of their shores are apparently of little importance. This is obviously not the attitude of the 'grass roots' American people, but it is the attitude being presented to the world on their behalf.
We in the U.K. are inclined to view Americans as sophisticated worldly people, but the media coverage of the last few days has revealed a naivety amongst decent U.S. citizens which is astonishing.
This is an appeal to those decent American people. Please wake up and recognise what is being done in your name. President Bush tells us that we are now engaged in a fight of "good against evil". He is wrong, the world is witnessing evil against evil. That the hijackers actions were evil is beyond dispute, but American financial and military dominance is being exercised in a way that costs more lives per day, 365 days a year, than the lives snuffed out on that fateful September 11th.
The Washington and New York horrors will change the world, as is being widely touted by the media. From what - to what, is the question. The use of military might in punitive action is apparently deemed to be the only solution to combat this level of hate and it is an understandable 'knee-jerk ' reaction of many people. But there is no way that that is going to "change the world" for the better. For real good to come out of this evil, 'ordinary people' in the whole 'Western World' need to gain an understanding of why there is so much hate by many millions for what we in the U.K. are "standing shoulder to shoulder" with.
George W. Bush and his poodle Tony Blair cannot and will not resolve the problem of terrorism. They can only exacerbate the problem and increase the level of hate, desperation, distrust and sense of injustice which is the driving force behind terrorism. 'The man in the street' is the guy who can resolve this problem by getting an understanding of WHY there is hate of this magnitude and we are not just talking about a handful of fanatical lunatics.
A widely publicised and truthful answer to the question WHY?, will do more real good than all the military might on the planet.
"In our time, the curse is monetary illiteracy, just as inability to read plain print was the curse in earlier centuries." Ezra Pound
The WTC bombing is surrounded by questions of intelligence, and its failures, serious suspicions about the role of the intelligence community, not to mention a lack of intellignce by commentators and political leaders. We need to apply our own intellignce to the actual problem - abuse of power.
As many commentators have been asking, how come nobody had any real inkling as to the terrible atrocity that was planned for the World Trade Center this week, especially with all of the intelligence resources of the USA? And they find it equally curious, even on CNN, that immediately afterwards, those same resources could finger known terrorists on the passenger lists, and move on their bases, remove their cars, track them to Hamburg etc. Even CNN commentators ask the right questions, sometimes, but they usually fail to come up with anything more than jingoism.
Propaganda is rife. According to reports on Indymedia and elsewhere, the images of Palestinians apparently celebrating the attack are actually ten years old. If true, this is a serious, and possibly premeditated manipulation by CNN. We need to remember that members of the psychological operations units of the US military actually work in CNN. Intelligence again. However, successful propaganda only worsens the problem and postpones the inevitable reaction.
It is also strange that, almost immediately, Osama Bin Laden was fingered as the culprit. Without any apparent evidence, he has been singled out as the only one capable of carrying out such an act. This seems thin, if we consider the attacks carried out in Japan by the AUM sect, as just one example. We should also keep in mind that he is a former CIA asset yet another intelligence connection.
Curiously, CNN's own 'Late Edition' just now, on Sunday, allowed two former intelligence directors to question that chant for Bin Laden's blood. Both James Woolsey, retired CIA Director and Lt Gen William Odom, former Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) made it quite clear that they did not believe that Bin Laden could have run such an operation from the depths of Afghanistan. Such retired officers are at much greater liberty to give us the benefit of the enormous experience.
It therefore seems possible that Osama Bin Laden is not solely responsible, and is a convenient 'fall guy'. On the other hand it seems quite impossible for such an operation to have been mounted within the United States without somebody in the intelligence community knowing about it.
And the emerging chorus for war, serves the interest of the military and their suppliers, and in turn the financiers of both. And let's not forget the boost to repressive forces within the USA, and threats to civil liberties increasing throughout the Western world. Not very intelligent.
All in all, a very usual pattern is emerging - that of a much needed war to boost a flagging economy, further curtail civil liberties, and make massive profits for the arms industry and the banks. One could be forgiven for imagining that there were intelligence operatives involved in these tragic events, on some perverse mission to cause public panic by means of a few hijackings, but who may in the end have been outwitted by their terrorist colleagues. That might also help explain the establishment's red hot anger.
Retribution is merely going to harden the terrorists, and produce more, maybe even worse, massacres in the future. In this sense, if you are with George Bush, you are for MORE terrorism, including the variety he will dish out to innocent civilians in Afghanistan or wherever.
Right now is the moment for some real, hard-headed down-to-earth no-nonsense intelligent analysis. It absolutely cannot be postponed, because it must dictate our reaction to these unspeakable events.
One has to be aware that, quite often, what is referred to as terrorism, as we know too well in my home country, Ireland, is generally a 'last straw' violent reaction to extreme abuse of power. Like the power which has killed half-a-million innocent children in Iraq, and attacked innocent civilians with cluster bombs and depleted uranium in Yugoslavia, to mention just two of the more recent Western atrocities. And it appears that we are now in for more of the same. And to that we must add the extreme economic exploitation of the worldwide poor, now accelerated by globalisation, and the abuse of the credit institutions behind the scenes, to bring countries, like Pakistan maybe, into line.
Right now, we must urgently apply real intelligence to the problem of abuse of economic, political and military power in the World, if we are ever to escape from the escalating vicious circle now entwining us. That is OUR abuse of power meaning all of us in the Western world, who by one means or another go along with the impoverishment and destruction of the rest of humanity.
That places the emerging anti-globalisation movement centre stage. But it needs to be very clear about what it wants, and how it intends to get it, before it is too late. The subject matter of a follow-up, if I might be permitted.
BEIRUT, Sept 15 (AFP) -
Lebanon's anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt believes the CIA and Israel's secret service Mossad are behind the terrorist attacks in the United States, and that Saudi extremist Osama bin Laden is an "American agent," newspaper reports said Saturday.
"There are a number of questions on the authors of the attacks in America. I think they (the attacks) were a great coup carried out by the secret services. The CIA and the Mossad could be behind (the attacks) to provoke a new war and impoverish and occupy the Middle East," Jumblatt was quoted as saying.
"Who is bin Laden who has become the number one (enemy) of western civilisations? He is an invention of the American secret services who chose to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan with US backing," said Jumblatt, who had ties with the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991.
"It is an enormous scandal because in 1994, the CIA pointed the finger at bin Laden as a very dangerous man," Jumblatt said, adding: "It is also surprising that a great state which has a military budget of 350 billion dollars, was not able to thwart these attacks."
"One should find out whether the American (secret) services are implicated in starting a merciless war between America and the racist West against Arabs and the Muslims," he said.
Jumblatt, who defends the Palestinian uprising and their right to an independent state, also expressed concern that the "war against terrorism" could develop into a "huge massacre of Palestinians."
"Under the pretext of fighting bin Laden, the Zionists may commit a huge massacre in Palestine to push through an exodus of its Arab residents and give the green-light to (Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) to carry out a huge massacre," Jumblatt said.
He also called on Britain to "present its apologies to the Arab and Muslim people for its crime: the creation of Israel."
Britain, which in 1920 was granted a mandate over Palestine up until the 1948 creation of the Israeli state, promised to aid the "Jews to create a home in Palestine," during the 1917 Balfour declaration often considered to have led to the establishment of the Jewish state.
Jumblatt, who was presiding over a ceremony in the Shouf mountains southeast of Beirut, also called on the audience to observe one minute of silence in memory of the "innocent (people) killed in the World Trade Center."
The silence was also held in memory of the "Arabs killed in Palestine, in south Lebanon, in Syria, Jordan and Iraq in the war against Israel," he said.
The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton's bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people (no one knows, because the US blocked an inquiry at the UN and no one cares to pursue it). Not to speak of much worse cases, which easily come to mind. But that this was a horrendous crime is not in doubt. The primary victims, as usual, were working people: janitors, secretaries, firemen, etc. It is likely to prove to be a crushing blow to Palestinians and other poor and oppressed people. It is also likely to lead to harsh security controls, with many possible ramifications for undermining civil liberties and internal freedom.
The events reveal, dramatically, the foolishness of the project of "missile defense." As has been obvious all along, and pointed out repeatedly by strategic analysts, if anyone wants to cause immense damage in the US, including weapons of mass destruction, they are highly unlikely to launch a missile attack, thus guaranteeing their immediate destruction. There are innumerable easier ways that are basically unstoppable. But today's events will, very likely, be exploited to increase the pressure to develop these systems and put them into place. "Defense" is a thin cover for plans for militarization of space, and with good PR, even the flimsiest arguments will carry some weight among a frightened public.
In short, the crime is a gift to the hard jingoist right, those who hope to use force to control their domains. That is even putting aside the likely US actions, and what they will trigger -- possibly more attacks like this one, or worse. The prospects ahead are even more ominous than they appeared to be before the latest atrocities.
As to how to react, we have a choice. We can express justified horror; we can seek to understand what may have led to the crimes, which means making an effort to enter the minds of the likely perpetrators. If we choose the latter course, we can do no better, I think, than to listen to the words of Robert Fisk, whose direct knowledge and insight into affairs of the region is unmatched after many years of distinguished reporting. Describing "The wickedness and awesome cruelty of a crushed and humiliated people," he writes that "this is not the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about American missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia - paid and uniformed by America's Israeli ally - hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps." And much more. Again, we have a choice: we may try to understand, or refuse to do so, contributing to the likelihood that much worse lies ahead.
By John Pilger September 13, 2001
If the attacks on America have their source in the Islamic world, who can really be surprised?
Two days earlier, eight people were killed in southern Iraq when British and American planes bombed civilian areas. To my knowledge, not a word appeared in the mainstream media in Britain.
An estimated 200,000 Iraqis, according to the Health Education Trust in London, died during and in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter known as the Gulf War.
This was never news that touched public consciousness in the west.
At least a million civilians, half of them children, have since died in Iraq as a result of a medieval embargo imposed by the United States and Britain.
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Mujadeen, which gave birth to the fanatical Taliban, was largely the creation of the CIA.
The terrorist training camps where Osama bin Laden, now "America's most wanted man", allegedly planned his attacks, were built with American money and backing.
In Palestine, the enduring illegal occupation by Israel would have collapsed long ago were it not for US backing.
Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims - principally the victims of US fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms, military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on earth.
This fact is censored from the Western media, whose "coverage" at best minimises the culpability of imperial powers. Richard Falk, professor of international relations at Princeton, put it this way: "Western foreign policy is presented almost exclusively through a self-righteous, one-way legal/moral screen (with) positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence."
That Tony Blair, whose government sells lethal weapons to Israel and has sprayed Iraq and Yugoslavia with cluster bombs and depleted uranium and was the greatest arms supplier to the genocidists in Indonesia, can be taken seriously when he now speaks about the "shame" of the "new evil of mass terrorism" says much about the censorship of our collective sense of how the world is managed.
One of Blair's favourite words - "fatuous" - comes to mind. Alas, it is no comfort to the families of thousands of ordinary Americans who have died so terribly that the perpetrators of their suffering may be the product of Western policies. Did the American establishment believe that it could bankroll and manipulate events in the Middle East without cost to itself, or rather its own innocent people?
The attacks on Tuesday come at the end of a long history of betrayal of the Islamic and Arab peoples: the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the foundation of the state of Israel, four Arab-Israeli wars and 34 years of Israel's brutal occupation of an Arab nation: all, it seems, obliterated within hours by Tuesday's acts of awesome cruelty by those who say they represent the victims of the West's intervention in their homelands.
"America, which has never known modern war, now has her own terrible league table: perhaps as many as 20,000 victims." [now believed to be around 5,000]
As Robert Fisk points out, in the Middle East, people will grieve the loss of innocent life, but they will ask if the newspapers and television networks of the west ever devoted a fraction of the present coverage to the half-a-million dead children of Iraq, and the 17,500 civilians killed in Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The answer is no. There are deeper roots to the atrocities in the US, which made them almost inevitable.
It is not only the rage and grievance in the Middle East and south Asia. Since the end of the cold war, the US and its sidekicks, principally Britain, have exercised, flaunted, and abused their wealth and power while the divisions imposed on human beings by them and their agents have grown as never before.
An elite group of less than a billion people now take more than 80 per cent of the world's wealth. In defence of this power and privilege, known by the euphemisms "free market" and "free trade", the injustices are legion: from the illegal blockade of Cuba, to the murderous arms trade, dominated by the US, to its trashing of basic environmental decencies, to the assault on fragile economies by institutions such as the World Trade Organisation that are little more than agents of the US Treasury and the European central banks, and the demands of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in forcing the poorest nations to repay unrepayable debts; to a new US "Vietnam" in Colombia and the sabotage of peace talks between North and South Korea (in order to shore up North Korea's "rogue nation" status).
Western terror is part of the recent history of imperialism, a word that journalists dare not speak or write.
The expulsion of the population of Diego Darcia in the 1960s by the Wilson government received almost no press coverage.Their homeland is now an American nuclear arms dump and base from which US bombers patrol the Middle East.
In Indonesia, in 1965/6, a million people were killed with the complicity of the US and British governments: the Americans supplying General Suharto with assassination lists, then ticking off names as people were killed.
"Getting British companies and the World Bank back in there was part of the deal", says Roland Challis, who was the BBC's south east Asia correspondent.
British behaviour in Malaya was no different from the American record in Vietnam, for which it proved inspirational: the withholding of food, villages turned into concentration camps and more than half a million people forcibly dispossessed.
In Vietnam, the dispossession, maiming and poisoning of an entire nation was apocalyptic, yet diminished in our memory by Hollywood movies and by what Edward Said rightly calls cultural imperialism.
In Operation Phoenix, in Vietnam, the CIA arranged the homicide of around 50,000 people. As official documents now reveal, this was the model for the terror in Chile that climaxed with the murder of the democratically elected leader Salvador Allende, and within 10 years, the crushing of Nicaragua.
All of it was lawless. The list is too long for this piece.
Now imperialism is being rehabilitated. American forces currently operate with impunity from bases in 50 countries. "Full spectrum dominance" is Washington's clearly stated aim.Read the documents of the US Space Command, which leaves us in no doubt.
In this country, the eager Blair government has embarked on four violent adventures, in pursuit of "British interests" (dressed up as "peacekeeping"), and which have little or no basis in international law: a record matched by no other British government for half a century.
What has this to do with this week's atrocities in America? If you travel among the impoverished majority of humanity, you understand that it has everything to do with it.
People are neither still, nor stupid. They see their independence compromised, their resources and land and the lives of their children taken away, and their accusing fingers increasingly point north: to the great enclaves of plunder and privilege. Inevitably, terror breeds terror and more fanaticism.
But how patient the oppressed have been.
It is only a few years ago that the Islamic fundamentalist groups, willing to blow themselves up in Israel and New York, were formed, and only after Israel and the US had rejected outright the hope of a Palestinian state, and justice for a people scarred by imperialism.
Their distant voices of rage are now heard; the daily horrors in faraway brutalised places have at last come home.
The Guardian - Thursday September 13, 2001
Nearly two days after the horrific suicide attacks on civilian workers in New York and Washington, it has become painfully clear that most Americans simply don't get it. From the president to passersby on the streets, the message seems to be the same: this is an inexplicable assault on freedom and democracy, which must be answered with overwhelming force - just as soon as someone can construct a credible account of who was actually responsible.
Shock, rage and grief there has been aplenty. But any glimmer of recognition of why people might have been driven to carry out such atrocities, sacrificing their own lives in the process - or why the United States is hated with such bitterness, not only in Arab and Muslim countries, but across the developing world - seems almost entirely absent. Perhaps it is too much to hope that, as rescue workers struggle to pull firefighters from the rubble, any but a small minority might make the connection between what has been visited upon them and what their government has visited upon large parts of the world.
But make that connection they must, if such tragedies are not to be repeated, potentially with even more devastating consequences. US political leaders are doing their people no favours by reinforcing popular ignorance with self-referential rhetoric. And the echoing chorus of Tony Blair, whose determination to bind Britain ever closer to US foreign policy ratchets up the threat to our own cities, will only fuel anti-western sentiment. So will calls for the defence of "civilisation", with its overtones of Samuel Huntington's poisonous theories of post-cold war confrontation between the west and Islam, heightening perceptions of racism and hypocrisy.
As Mahatma Gandhi famously remarked when asked his opinion of western civilisation, it would be a good idea. Since George Bush's father inaugurated his new world order a decade ago, the US, supported by its British ally, bestrides the world like a colossus. Unconstrained by any superpower rival or system of global governance, the US giant has rewritten the global financial and trading system in its own interest; ripped up a string of treaties it finds inconvenient; sent troops to every corner of the globe; bombed Afghanistan, Sudan, Yugoslavia and Iraq without troubling the United Nations; maintained a string of murderous embargos against recalcitrant regimes; and recklessly thrown its weight behind Israel's 34-year illegal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as the Palestinian intifada rages.
If, as yesterday's Wall Street Journal insisted, the east coast carnage was the fruit of the Clinton administration's Munich-like appeasement of the Palestinians, the mind boggles as to what US Republicans imagine to be a Churchillian response.
It is this record of unabashed national egotism and arrogance that drives anti-Americanism among swaths of the world's population, for whom there is little democracy in the current distribution of global wealth and power. If it turns out that Tuesday's attacks were the work of Osama bin Laden's supporters, the sense that the Americans are once again reaping a dragons' teeth harvest they themselves sowed will be overwhelming.
It was the Americans, after all, who poured resources into the 1980s war against the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul, at a time when girls could go to school and women to work. Bin Laden and his mojahedin were armed and trained by the CIA and MI6, as Afghanistan was turned into a wasteland and its communist leader Najibullah left hanging from a Kabul lamp post with his genitals stuffed in his mouth.
But by then Bin Laden had turned against his American sponsors, while US-sponsored Pakistani intelligence had spawned the grotesque Taliban now protecting him. To punish its wayward Afghan offspring, the US subsequently forced through a sanctions regime which has helped push 4m to the brink of starvation, according to the latest UN figures, while Afghan refugees fan out across the world.
All this must doubtless seem remote to Americans desperately searching the debris of what is expected to be the largest-ever massacre on US soil - as must the killings of yet more Palestinians in the West Bank yesterday, or even the 2m estimated to have died in Congo's wars since the overthrow of the US-backed Mobutu regime. "What could some political thing have to do with blowing up office buildings during working hours?" one bewildered New Yorker asked yesterday.
Already, the Bush administration is assembling an international coalition for an Israeli-style war against terrorism, as if such counter-productive acts of outrage had an existence separate from the social conditions out of which they arise. But for every "terror network" that is rooted out, another will emerge - until the injustices and inequalities that produce them are addressed.
A few hours after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, the Bush administration concluded without supporting evidence, that "Ousmane bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation were prime suspects". CIA Director George Tenet stated that bin Laden has the capacity to plan ``multiple attacks with little or no warning.'' Secretary of State Colin Powell called the attacks "an act of war" and President Bush confirmed in an evening televised address to the Nation that he would "make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them". Former CIA Director James Woolsey pointed his finger at "state sponsorship," implying the complicity of one or more foreign governments. In the words of former National Security Adviser, Lawrence Eagleburger, "I think we will show when we get attacked like this, we are terrible in our strength and in our retribution."
Meanwhile, parroting official statements, the Western media mantra has approved the launching of "punitive actions" directed against civilian targets in the Middle East. In the words of William Saffire writing in the New York Times: "When we reasonably determine our attackers' bases and camps, we must pulverize them -- minimizing but accepting the risk of collateral damage -- and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror's national hosts".
The following text outlines the history of Ousmane Bin Laden and the links of the Islamic "Jihad" to the formulation of US foreign policy during the Cold War and its aftermath.
Prime suspect in the New York and Washington terrorists attacks, branded by the FBI as an "international terrorist" for his role in the African US embassy bombings, Saudi born Ousmane bin Laden was recruited during the Soviet-Afghan war "ironically under the auspices of the CIA, to fight Soviet invaders". 1
In 1979 "the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA" was launched in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in support of the pro-Communist government of Babrak Kamal.2:
"With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI [Inter Services Intelligence], who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs. Eventually more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad."3
The Islamic "jihad" was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia with a significant part of the funding generated from the Golden Crescent drug trade:
"In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166,...[which] authorize[d] stepped-up covert military aid to the mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new goal: to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet withdrawal. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies -- a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987, ... as well as a "ceaseless stream" of CIA and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan's ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels."4
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) using Pakistan's military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) played a key role in training the Mujahideen. In turn, the CIA sponsored guerrilla training was integrated with the teachings of Islam:
"Predominant themes were that Islam was a complete socio-political ideology, that holy Islam was being violated by the atheistic Soviet troops, and that the Islamic people of Afghanistan should reassert their independence by overthrowing the leftist Afghan regime propped up by Moscow."5
PAKISTAN'S INTELLIGENCE APPARATUS
Pakistan's ISI was used as a "go-between". The CIA covert support to the "jihad" operated indirectly through the Pakistani ISI, --i.e. the CIA did not channel its support directly to the Mujahideen. In other words, for these covert operations to be "successful", Washington was careful not to reveal the ultimate objective of the "jihad", which consisted in destroying the Soviet Union.
In the words of CIA's Milton Beardman "We didn't train Arabs". Yet according to Abdel Monam Saidali, of the Al-aram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo, bin Laden and the "Afghan Arabs" had been imparted "with very sophisticated types of training that was allowed to them by the CIA" 6
CIA's Beardman confirmed, in this regard, that Ousmane bin Laden was not aware of the role he was playing on behalf of Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): "neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help". 7
Motivated by nationalism and religious fervor, the Islamic warriors were unaware that they were fighting the Soviet Army on behalf of Uncle Sam. While there were contacts at the upper levels of the intelligence hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in theatre had no contacts with Washington or the CIA.
With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of US military aid, the Pakistani ISI had developed into a "parallel structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of government". 8 The ISI had a staff composed of military and intelligence officers, bureaucrats, undercover agents and informers, estimated at 150,000. 9
Meanwhile, CIA operations had also reinforced the Pakistani military regime led by General Zia Ul Haq:
"''Relations between the CIA and the ISI [Pakistan's military intelligence] had grown increasingly warm following [General] Zia's ouster of Bhutto and the advent of the military regime,'... During most of the Afghan war, Pakistan was more aggressively anti-Soviet than even the United States. Soon after the Soviet military invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Zia [ul Haq] sent his ISI chief to destabilize the Soviet Central Asian states. The CIA only agreed to this plan in October 1984.... `the CIA was more cautious than the Pakistanis.' Both Pakistan and the United States took the line of deception on Afghanistan with a public posture of negotiating a settlement while privately agreeing that military escalation was the best course."10
THE GOLDEN CRESCENT DRUG TRIANGLE
The history of the drug trade in Central Asia is intimately related to the CIA's covert operations. Prior to the Soviet-Afghan war, opium production in Afghanistan and Pakistan was directed to small regional markets. There was no local production of heroin. 11 In this regard, Alfred McCoy's study confirms that within two years of the onslaught of the CIA operation in Afghanistan, "the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world's top heroin producer, supplying 60 percent of U.S. demand. In Pakistan, the heroin-addict population went from near zero in 1979... to 1.2 million by 1985 -- a much steeper rise than in any other nation":12
"CIA assets again controlled this heroin trade. As the Mujahideen guerrillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to plant opium as a revolutionary tax. Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan Intelligence operated hundreds of heroin laboratories. During this decade of wide-open drug-dealing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad failed to instigate major seizures or arrests ... U.S. officials had refused to investigate charges of heroin dealing by its Afghan allies `because U.S. narcotics policy in Afghanistan has been subordinated to the war against Soviet influence there.' In 1995, the former CIA director of the Afghan operation, Charles Cogan, admitted the CIA had indeed sacrificed the drug war to fight the Cold War. `Our main mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets. We didn't really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,'... `I don't think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout.... There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes. But the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.'"13
IN THE WAKE OF THE COLD WAR
In the wake of the Cold War, the Central Asian region is not only strategic for its extensive oil reserves, it also produces three quarters of the World's opium representing multibillion dollar revenues to business syndicates, financial institutions, intelligence agencies and organized crime. The annual proceeds of the Golden Crescent drug trade (between 100 and 200 billion dollars) represents approximately one third of the Worldwide annual turnover of narcotics, estimated by the United Nations to be of the order of $500 billion.14
With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a new surge in opium production has unfolded. (According to UN estimates, the production of opium in Afghanistan in 1998-99 -- coinciding with the build up of armed insurgencies in the former Soviet republics-- reached a record high of 4600 metric tons.15 Powerful business syndicates in the former Soviet Union allied with organized crime are competing for the strategic control over the heroin routes.
The ISI's extensive intelligence military-network was not dismantled in the wake of the Cold War. The CIA continued to support the Islamic "jihad" out of Pakistan. New undercover initiatives were set in motion in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans. Pakistan's military and intelligence apparatus essentially "served as a catalyst for the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of six new Muslim republics in Central Asia." 16.
Meanwhile, Islamic missionaries of the Wahhabi sect from Saudi Arabia had established themselves in the Muslim republics as well as within the Russian federation encroaching upon the institutions of the secular State. Despite its anti-American ideology, Islamic fundamentalism was largely serving Washington's strategic interests in the former Soviet Union.
Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, the civil war in Afghanistan continued unabated. The Taliban were being supported by the Pakistani Deobandis and their political party the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI). In 1993, JUI entered the government coalition of Prime Minister Benazzir Bhutto. Ties between JUI, the Army and ISI were established. In 1995, with the downfall of the Hezb-I-Islami Hektmatyar government in Kabul, the Taliban not only instated a hardline Islamic government, they also "handed control of training camps in Afghanistan over to JUI factions..." 17
And the JUI with the support of the Saudi Wahhabi movements played a key role in recruiting volunteers to fight in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.
Jane Defense Weekly confirms in this regard that "half of Taliban manpower and equipment originate[d] in Pakistan under the ISI" 18 In fact, it would appear that following the Soviet withdrawal both sides in the Afghan civil war continued to receive covert support through Pakistan's ISI. 19
In other words, backed by Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI) which in turn was controlled by the CIA, the Taliban Islamic State was largely serving American geopolitical interests. The Golden Crescent drug trade was also being used to finance and equip the Bosnian Muslim Army (starting in the early 1990s) and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In last few months there is evidence that Mujahideen mercenaries are fighting in the ranks of KLA-NLA terrorists in their assaults into Macedonia.
No doubt, this explains why Washington has closed its eyes on the reign of terror imposed by the Taliban including the blatant derogation of women's rights, the closing down of schools for girls, the dismissal of women employees from government offices and the enforcement of "the Sharia laws of punishment".20
THE WAR IN CHECHNYA
With regard to Chechnya, the main rebel leaders Shamil Basayev and Al Khattab were trained and indoctrinated in CIA sponsored camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to Yossef Bodansky, director of the U.S. Congress's Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, the war in Chechnya had been planned during a secret summit of HizbAllah International held in 1996 in Mogadishu, Somalia. 21 The summit, was attended by Osama bin Laden and high-ranking Iranian and Pakistani intelligence officers. In this regard, the involvement of Pakistan's ISI in Chechnya "goes far beyond supplying the Chechens with weapons and expertise: the ISI and its radical Islamic proxies are actually calling the shots in this war". 22
Russia's main pipeline route transits through Chechnya and Dagestan. Despite Washington's perfunctory condemnation of Islamic terrorism, the indirect beneficiaries of the Chechen war are the Anglo-American oil conglomerates which are vying for control over oil resources and pipeline corridors out of the Caspian Sea basin.
The two main Chechen rebel armies (respectively led by Commander Shamil Basayev and Emir Khattab) estimated at 35,000 strong were supported by Pakistan's ISI, which also played a key role in organizing and training the Chechen rebel army:
"[In 1994] the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence arranged for Basayev and his trusted lieutenants to undergo intensive Islamic indoctrination and training in guerrilla warfare in the Khost province of Afghanistan at Amir Muawia camp, set up in the early 1980s by the CIA and ISI and run by famous Afghani warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In July 1994, upon graduating from Amir Muawia, Basayev was transferred to Markaz-i-Dawar camp in Pakistan to undergo training in advanced guerrilla tactics. In Pakistan, Basayev met the highest ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officers: Minister of Defense General Aftab Shahban Mirani, Minister of Interior General Naserullah Babar, and the head of the ISI branch in charge of supporting Islamic causes, General Javed Ashraf, (all now retired). High-level connections soon proved very useful to Basayev.23 Following his training and indoctrination stint, Basayev was assigned to lead the assault against Russian federal troops in the first Chechen war in 1995. His organization had also developed extensive links to criminal syndicates in Moscow as well as ties to Albanian organized crime and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In 1997-98, according to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) "Chechen warlords started buying up real estate in Kosovo... through several real estate firms registered as a cover in Yugoslavia" 24
Basayev's organisation has also been involved in a number of rackets including narcotics, illegal tapping and sabotage of Russia's oil pipelines, kidnapping, prostitution, trade in counterfeit dollars and the smuggling of nuclear materials (See Mafia linked to Albania's collapsed pyramids, 25 Alongside the extensive laundering of drug money, the proceeds of various illicit activities have been funneled towards the recruitment of mercenaries and the purchase of weapons.
During his training in Afghanistan, Shamil Basayev linked up with Saudi born veteran Mujahideen Commander "Al Khattab" who had fought as a volunteer in Afghanistan. Barely a few months after Basayev's return to Grozny, Khattab was invited (early 1995) to set up an army base in Chechnya for the training of Mujahideen fighters. According to the BBC, Khattab's posting to Chechnya had been "arranged through the Saudi-Arabian based [International] Islamic Relief Organisation, a militant religious organisation, funded by mosques and rich individuals which channeled funds into Chechnya".26
Since the Cold War era, Washington has consciously supported Ousmane bin Laden, while at same time placing him on the FBI's "most wanted list" as the World's foremost terrorist.
While the Mujahideen are busy fighting America's war in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, the FBI --operating as a US based Police Force- is waging a domestic war against terrorism, operating in some respects independently of the CIA which has --since the Soviet-Afghan war-- supported international terrorism through its covert operations.
In a cruel irony, while the Islamic jihad --featured by the Bush Adminstration as "a threat to America"-- is blamed for the terrorist assaults on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, these same Islamic organisations constitute a key instrument of US military-intelligence operations in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the truth must prevail to prevent the Bush Adminstration together with its NATO partners from embarking upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity.
Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Montreal, September 2001. All rights reserved. Centre for Research on Globalisation at http://globalresearch.ca. Permission is granted to post this text on non-commercial community internet sites, provided the source and the URL are indicated, the essay remains intact and the copyright note is displayed.
To publish this text in printed and/or other forms, including commercial internet sites and excerpts, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 1-514-4256224.
Originally published April 24, 2001
WASHINGTON - U.S. military leaders proposed in 1962 a secret plan to commit terrorist acts against Americans and blame Cuba to create a pretext for invasion and the ouster of Communist leader Fidel Castro, according to a new book about the National Security Agency.
"We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington," said one document reportedly prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," the document says. "Casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of indignation."
The plan is laid out in documents signed by the five Joint Chiefs but never carried out, according to writer James Bamford in "Body of Secrets." The new history of the Fort Meade-based eavesdropping agency is being released today by Doubleday.
NSA regularly picks up the conversations of suspected terrorist financier Osama bin Laden, says Bamford, and has monitored Chinese and French companies trying to sell missiles to Iran. He provides new details about an Israeli attack on a Navy eavesdropping ship in 1967, suggesting that the sinking was deliberate. And he reveals the loss of an "entire warehouse" full of secret cryptographic gear to the North Vietnamese in 1975, at the end of the Vietnam War.
Bamford, a former investigative reporter for ABC News who wrote "The Puzzle Palace" about the NSA in 1982, said his new book is based mostly on documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act or found in government archives. "NSA never handed me any documents," he said. "It was a question of digging."
He said he was most surprised by the anti-Cuba terror plan, code-named Operation Northwoods. It "may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government," he writes. The Northwoods plan also proposed that if the 1962 launch of John Glenn into orbit were to fail, resulting in the astronaut's death, the U.S. government would publicize fabricated evidence that Cuba had used electronic interference to sabotage the flight, the book says.
A previously secret document obtained by Bamford offers further suggestions for mayhem to be blamed on Cuba. "We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). ... We could foster attempts on lives of Cubans in the United States, even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized," the document says. Another idea was to shoot down a CIA plane designed to replicate a passenger flight and announce that Cuban forces shot it down.
Citing a White House document, Bamford writes that the idea of creating a pretext for the invasion of Cuba might have started with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the last weeks of his administration, when the plan for an invasion by Cuban exiles trained in the United States was hatched. Carried out in April 1961, soon after Kennedy became president, the Bay of Pigs invasion proved a fiasco. Castro's forces quickly killed or rounded up the invaders.
Army Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, presented the Operation Northwoods plan to Kennedy early in 1962, but the president rejected it that March because he wanted no overt U.S. military action against Cuba. Lemnitzer then sought unsuccessfully to destroy all evidence of the plan, according to Bamford. Lemnitzer and those who served with him in 1962 as chiefs of the nation's military branches are dead.
But two former top Kennedy administration officials said yesterday that they were unaware of Operation Northwoods and questioned whether such a plan was ever drafted. "I've never heard of Operation Northwoods. Never heard of it and don't believe it," said Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy's White House special counsel. "Obviously, it would be totally illegal as well as totally unwise." Robert S. McNamara, Kennedy's defense secretary, said: "I never heard of it. I can't believe the chiefs were talking about or engaged in what I would call CIA-type operations."
Bamford writes that besides the Joint Chiefs, then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze also favored "provoking a phony war with Cuba." "There may be a piece of paper" on Northwoods, said McNamara. "I just cannot conceive of [Nitze] approving anything like that or doing it without talking to me."
The book contains many other revelations in its detailed account of NSA, the biggest U.S. intelligence agency and Maryland's largest employer, with more than 25,000 personnel at Fort Meade, site of its global eavesdropping efforts.
Among them: In recent years, NSA has regularly listened to bin Laden's unencrypted telephone calls. Agency officials have sometimes played tapes of bin Laden talking to his mother to impress members of Congress and select visitors to the agency.
In the late 1990s, NSA tracked efforts by Chinese and French companies to sell missile technology to Iran, particularly the C-802 anti-ship missile. The eavesdropping led to U.S. protests to the Chinese and French governments.
When U.S. troops evacuated Vietnam in 1975, "an entire warehouse overflowing with NSA's most important cryptographic machines and other supersensitive code and cipher materials" was left behind. It was the largest compromise of such equipment in U.S. history, Bamford writes, but the agency still has not acknowledged it.
When Israeli fighter jets attacked the NSA eavesdropping ship USS Liberty in the Mediterranean in 1967, killing 34 Americans and wounding 171, an NSA aircraft was listening in and heard Israeli pilots referring to the American flag on the ship. U.S. officials, including President Lyndon Baines Johnson, decided to forget the matter, Bamford writes, because they did not want to embarrass Israel. To this day, Israeli officials say their forces mistakenly attacked the U.S. ship.
Bamford says the reason for the strike was Israel's desperate effort to cover up its attacks on the Egyptian town of El Arish in the Sinai. The Liberty was sitting offshore and the Israelis feared that the ship would detect the operation, which included the shooting of prisoners.
Yesterday, an NSA spokesperson questioned a point made in the book about the USS Liberty. "We do not comment on operational matters, alleged or otherwise; however, Mr. Bamford's claim that the NSA leadership was `virtually unanimous in their belief that the attack was deliberate' is simply not true," the spokesperson said.
When he wrote "The Puzzle Palace" in 1982, Bamford was attacked by some NSA officials, who said his revelations gave the Soviet Union and other U.S. adversaries too much information on the secret agency. One former director referred to him as "an unconvicted felon."
With the end of the Cold War, the agency has been less guarded. NSA's current director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, has granted a number of interviews. Hayden "cracked the door open a tiny bit," said Bamford, partly to burnish NSA's public image and correct misconceptions.
Sun staff writer Laura Sullivan contributed to this article.
This is transcribed from an embarrassing BBC 'Behind the Lines' TV documentary presented by 'Langan' and shown on the above date. As part of a tour of Palestine Langan goes for his interview with Sheikh Yassin. He jokes with his Palestinian taxi driver that Yassin will be angry if he his late for his appointment. Langan quips, What else does he have to do prepare the holy war? Its pretty obvious that Langan misunderstands the term Jihad a common mistake in the west. Jihad means 'struggle' and it can relate to all areas of life i.e. the struggle to give up smoking can be a jihad, not just a holy war. Langans voiceover continues; Sheikh Yassin wasnt exactly in hiding. His home is on the high street. Like the summer camp for boys, separate roads and suburban settlements for Jews, and holocaust denial, the extreme has become the everyday We then see Langan explaining to the camera; Theyre just getting him ready. Theyre lifting him from his bed on to his wheelchair Langan then fiddles with some nearby Physiotherapy equipment. He flippantly quips; These are Yassins torture instruments.
Langan : Is it a holy war or a war of liberation or both?
Yassin: We wish to liberate our land you can call it what you want. We wish to liberate our land and return our people to it. Thats what the war is all about.
Langan: Could you explain then because in my understanding that the rules of Jihad grant that you must not kill women and children that you must not kill unarmed civilians it even says that you must not kill your enemy if hes tilling the land so i.e. if a soldiers back from the front and providing for his family (he changes tact) there are many laws of Jihad which in my mind Hamas has broken by setting of bombs in shopping malls and breaking the rules of Jihad undermines the claims of Hamas from being an Islamic movement.
Yassin: What hes saying is not correct. Above all, we are a people who follow the teachings of Islam. One of the teachings of Islam is that we should treat our enemy as he treats us. Our God says if you are punished you must punish the perpetrators in the same way. Our enemy has attacked and killed civilians. We have the right to defend ourselves based on what he has done to us. Were not going against the teachings of Islam. If our enemy commits himself not to attack or massacre civilians then we wouldnt touch any civilian. Theres a difference between whats right and whats magnanimous. If you slap me its my right to slap you back. If I magnanimously forgive you, then thats better. But I still have the right to slap you. If a Palestinian moves away from his own people and land and starts helping the enemy against his own people then he is a traitor and a traitor should be killed. The rules that apply to the enemy also apply to traitors.
Langan: As a religious man does he still also have problems being involved in a war?
Yassin: My conscience is very clear about what Im doing because Im not the aggressor. Im just defending myself. And I have the right to defend myself by all means. Whoever wishes to kill me, it is my right to kill him. Whoever wants to take my home I have the right to fight him. And whoever wants to kill my children, it is my right to fight them. Im only defending myself. The guilty conscience belongs to the violator and the terrorist who drives people from their land and takes their land by force- thats the real terrorist.
Washington, the marine band plays 'Hail to the Chief' for George W Bush, 43rd President of the United States. But in Florida, some are singing 'Hail to the Thief'.
After hundreds of lies
We are coming into Tallahassee. We want to know whether George W Bush won the election or did brother Jeb steal it for him? Our investigation suggest the answer lies in this shuttered building and in a very expensive contract between Governor Jeb's division of elections and a private company named DBT, which accidentally wiped off the voter rolls thousands of Democratic voters. 18th floor division of elections, we have come to ask Mr Clayton Roberts, the director, a few questions. Roberts agreed to talk, but became a bit uncomfortable when he learned that we had obtained the secret DBT contract, and asked him if he knew what DBT were up to.
Florida Director of Elections
No, I didn't ask DBT. They do what we contract them to do. We have a statute that says we have to have a private company to do this. We put it out for bid, we put it out for bid, and I think I'm done with this interview.
Let me just show you the contract if I could Mr Roberts. It says here in the contract that the verification is supposed to be done by DBT. That you paid them $4 million. It could look to others don't you think that you paid $4 million to purchase this election for the Republican party. 95% wrong on the felon list. Mr Roberts, could you answer the question regarding the contract... Instead, Mr Roberts called out State troopers. It's interesting here?
Oh, man! Never a dull moment.
I don't know why he had to call the police. We hadn't gotten to our difficult questions yet! The difficult questions are: Did Governor Jeb Bush, his Secretary of State Katherine Harris, and her Director of Elections, Clayton Roberts, know they had wrongly barred 22,000 black, Democrat voters before the elections? After the elections did they use their powers to prevent the count of 20,000 votes for the Democrats? The Democrats say the answers to both questions are yes.
In any other country in the world, if this had occurred, there probably would have been riots or military troops throughout the streets.
Al Gore won the election. He won the popular vote and he won the vote in Florida. I think that that's pretty clear.
It wasn't done fairly. They shouldn't allow you to contest an election then give you no way to contest it.
Jeb Bush promised his brother he was going to deliver Florida. I believe the Republicans strategy was at all costs we deliver Florida.
Were people taken out of polls and stopped from voting? Yes, I think that was not right. I smell a rat!
This is Database Technologies. This is the company that the state of Florida hired to remove the names of people who committed serious crimes from the voter lists. I have obtained a document marked "confidential and trade secret". It says the company was paid millions of dollars to make telephone calls to verify they got the right names - but they didn't. There is nothing in the state of Florida files that says they made these telephone calls. So the question remains, why did the Republican leaders of this state pay millions for a list that stopped thousands of innocent Democrats from voting? The first list from DBT included 8,000 names from Texas supplied by George Bush's state officials. They said they were all felons, serious criminals barred from voting. As it turns out, almost none were. Local officials raised a ruckus and DBT issued a new list naming 58,000 felons. But the one county which went through the whole expensive process of checking the new list name by name found it was still 95% wrong. Reverend Willie Whiting was one of those removed from voter roles after DBT wrongly labelled him a serious criminal.
I have never spent a night in jail.
Were you ever busted?
No. I had a speeding ticket probably 25-30 years ago, I guess, but that's about it.
Do you think you should be allowed to vote if you had a speeding ticket?
The Florida legislature likes to see young prisoners paraded in front of the capital in old cavalry uniforms.
Me and superman had a fight
Me and superman had a fight
I hit him in the head with some Kryptonite
I hit him in the head with some Kryptonite
More often than not in America, the prisoner's colour is black. Because of the way DBT generated the list, every genuine black felon in the United States could knock out every black voter in Florida with the same surname and similar date of birth. That's why the NAACP is suing Florida for violating voters' civil rights.
Lawyer for NAACP
Governor Bush, the Secretary of State Katherine Harris, Clayton Roberts, the head of elections, all knew or should have known in advance that certain election policies and practices would disproportionately impact low-income areas, and in particular black citizens and other minority citizens, and that this would disproportionately impact Democratic voters, based on historical voting trends.
Thank you, Florida!
Altogether, it looks like this cost the Democrats about 22,000 votes in Florida, which George Bush won by only 537 votes. The US civil rights commission is also on the trail. They called in Bush, Harris and Roberts. Bush did not convince his critics.
You screwed up this state. You sealed the ballot.
Commissioner Edley and his colleagues will be in Miami tomorrow to hear from voters wrongly disqualified.
US Civil Rights Commissioner
If you are going to do it, by all means as a matter of due process and fairness, it's got to be done with excruciating care. It's a democracy, the vote counts. There is a lot of public concern that the contractor selected is a firm that seems to have ties to the Republican party.
They will be putting our evidence to Database Technologies. Their vice-president told us that "manual verification by telephone calls" does not mean ringing people up to check they have got the right person. So were they paid to produce a list which they knew would name thousands of innocent black people? In fact DBT told Newsnight that Clayton Roberts and the State of Florida: "... wanted there to be more names than were actually verified as being a convicted felon." So did they use their powers to prevent the count of 20,000 votes for the Democrats? You don't have to be black. In Palm Beach, America's privileged nurse their tans and their anger.
I thought I voted for Al Gore but unfortunately I voted for Pat Buchanan, and I wasn't happy about that, because I am a Jewish voter and he would have been the last person in the world I would have voted for.
Whacky butterfly ballots caused thousands in this Democrat town to accidentally mess up and they were refused replacement ballots promised them by state law.
From the time the elections started until that awful decision that the Supreme Court made, I came across hundreds of people who made a mistake and I saw over 13,000 complaints filed by people who live in Palm Beach county.
In all, Palm Beach voting machines misread 27,000 ballots. Jeb Bush's Secretary of State, Katharine Harris, stopped them counting these votes by hand. She did the same to Gadstone, one of Florida's blackest, poorest and most Democrat counties, where machines failed to count one in eight ballots. Again Harris stopped the hand count. This alone cost Gore another 700 votes, in an election in which Harris declared George Bush winner by only 537 votes.
In accordance with the laws of the State of Florida, I hereby declare Governor George W Bush the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes for the President of the United States.
Harris was a busy woman. In charge of Florida's vote count and co-chair of Bush's presidential campaign.
Had she really been unbiased? Wouldn't the appropriate actions for her to be to say - let's really get to the bottom of this election and let's make sure every vote is counted.
Lois Frankel represents Palm Beach, in the State legislature where she leads the Democratic opposition.
She wanted George Bush to win. She interpreted every rule, every law in a way to help George Bush.
We are driving down to Miami to witness an American ritual. In Britain, you count the votes, then announce the winner. In Florida they declare the winner first and here we are, still counting the votes.
She is showing the ballot in front of the light. They can see the light through where the chads have been punched through. Then she holds it in front because sometimes you can see things in different light. They have a whole column.
Normally these are machine-read, right?
They are carefully going through the 179,855 uncounted ballots that Harris did not want tallied. They'll know the winner next month. Sources tell Newsnight that Gore's ahead by 20,000 votes. The Biltmore, grandest hotel in Miami. Democrats are upstairs eating with their richest friends charging $5,000 a plate. Let's see if we can get in. Not far away from the millionaires on the balcony a voter had taken hostages at gun point protesting against the election fraud. But here it is back to champagne politics as usual. One Democrat whispered they would have done the same as Katharine Harris if they had the chance. But another, party chairman, Bob Poe remains bitter about this.
Chairman, Florida Democrats Jeb Bush, Katharine Harris, Clay Roberts did everything they could to stop every legitimate count of the vote. And that's what did us in.
All fingers point to the Jeb Bush crew in Tallahassee. Investigators want to breakthrough the iron shutters.
I have to say that thus far we have been disappointed by the explanations, or perhaps I should say the lack of explanation provided by the state officials. When we spoke with the Governor and the Secretary of State and even with the Director of the Bureau of Elections underneath the Secretary of State, they were pointing fingers at everybody else, saying "look it wasn't our responsibility", they were in charge, which is a disheartening disquieting thing for us to hear - who should be held accountable for what clearly was a system that broke down.
State officials point the finger at the counties and say it is their responsibility to check if the names on the list are real felons before disqualifying them. Clayton Roberts says his job is just to pass on the list. Roberts now admits he didn't bother to check with DBT, if innocent people were on it.
Please turn off that camera.
Off camera he said:
We did not call and say did you check the list again... the whole tenor of this is like OK you screwed up you didn't check with DBT and if you want to hang this on me that's fine. It is certainly fine for George W Bush. Even if investigators conclude that Jeb Bush and the Republicans conspired to steal this election, the man in that house for the next four years will be George W Bush.
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 05:48:13 -0400
Subject: New cool link (Kissinger accused over Chile plot)
A new link appeared at http://xxxxxx.com/ - 'The last 10 things xxxxxxxxxxxx saw'
Kissinger accused over Chile plot
Mr. Kissinger, how do you plead?
Subject: RE: New cool link (Kissinger accused over Chile plot)
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 10:58:17 +0100
X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.27650.21)
Also at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A7048-2001Sep10.html
(hidden in the Americas/Chile section)
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 11:43:32 +0100
From: Tony Gosling <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: New cool link (Kissinger accused over Chile plot)
Does this mean Kissinger'll have to kick off a nuclear war in Palestine to distract our attention now???
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