Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tom Toles: The Cookies



Don't you worry 'bout them Democrats! They know what they're doin'!

Open Thread.

APN [GA] Exclusive: Election Integrity Advocate To Run For State Party Chair

Check out this Exclusive Breaking Very Cool Report from Matthew Cardinale of the Atlanta Progressive News:
Donzella James, a former Georgia State Senator, US Congressional candidate, and elections integrity advocate, has decided to run for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Georgia [DPG], Atlanta Progressive News has learned in an exclusive.

In related news, Carlotta Harrell, who recently ran for School Superintendent and was considering the DPG Chairpersonship, has decided not to run, in part because she did not want to oppose James, APN has also confirmed with Harrell.

James received national acclaim recently for her lawsuit against the State of Georgia for certifying an election based on unverifible, unmeaningful electronic voting results.

James contends there is absolutely no way of knowing whether we can currently trust any E-voting results without a paper trail.
You may recall ... or maybe you won't ... Never mind; it doesn't matter.
James [has] recently joined the VoterGA lawsuit as well.

The VoterGA lawsuit wants an injunction against Georgia elections until they comply with the law [for instance, the word “ballot” is in the Georgia Constitution and a vanishing electronic record is not a ballot]. This lawsuit has also been covered extensively by APN.
I love that they're using "the letter of the law" here. It's beautiful in its simplicity.
One Georgia blogger, Andre Walker, who according to James used to volunteer for James’s campaign, applauded the VoterGA lawsuit in a recent post.

Walker questioned in the same post whether James should have joined the VoterGA lawsuit because the margin of James’s apparent loss couldn’t be accounted for by E-voting glitches.

However, James argues her case is not simply a matter of counting up the known errors to see if they’re greater than the margin of her apparent loss to US Rep. Scott.

What’s even more troubling, James says, is we’d never know if additional errors were occurring because there’s no meaningful way of knowing votes are being counted at all.
EXACTLY!! That's what your frozen scribbler has been saying all along. It doesn't matter how close or how lopsided the "results" appear to be, because you've got your "known errors" and your "unknown errors"...and as long as there are any "unknown errors" there can never be any meaningful corrections ... um ... or meaningful elections, for that matter. Therefore...

Three cheers for Donzella James and best wishes to her in her quest for a leadership position at the state level in her party.

Yo! Donkeys!! We need more like this young woman right here!

Are you listening, Rahm?

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman, Israeli Defense Force vet, and ballet dancer Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois withheld campaign financing from several Democratic House candidates who were running on platforms that were not "vetted" and approved by his coterie of the Democratic leadership. The withholding of funds by Emanuel has been reported to WMR by unsuccessful Democratic House candidates across the country. The Emanuel strategy was at loggerheads with that of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean whose strategy was to fight a 50 state campaign against the GOP with support for all Democrats.

It is now clear that Dean's strategy was the correct one and that of Emanuel and his fellow Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) anti-Dean partisans (James Carville, Simon Rosenberg, Joe Lieberman, Al From, etc.) was off-base and cost the Democrats an even wider margin of victory in the House and possibly the Senate as well.

For example, take the Florida 15th Congressional District in which retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Bowman ran against entrenched Republican Dave Weldon. Bowman, who won an impressive 44 percent in a strong Republican district, did not receive one cent from the DCCC or the Florida Democratic Party. Weldon raised $727,000 in his campaign while Bowman had a scant $91,279. Another candidate who was ignored by Emanuel was Florida 24th District candidate Clint Curtis, the former programmer who was asked by his opponent Tom Feeney to write a program to flip votes on voting machines in Florida. Curtis beat the favored Democratic candidate -- Andy Michaud -- in the primary. His punishment by the Emanuel clique was no money. Feeney had $1,295,000 in his war chest while Curtis had a mere $44,356. Yet Curtis almost fared as well as Bowman in the strongly Republican district -- he won an impressive 42 percent -- with not one dime from Emanuel's coffers.
...
It is clear that the DLC did not want certain issues brought to the Democratic House caucus, including 911 Truth (Bowman), pre-911 screw ups (Rowley), voting machine fraud (Curtis), and congressional pederasty (Patty Wetterling, 6th Minnesota district). One can only wonder why the DLC would want to eschew candidates who the Bush administration would find extremely uncomfortable. The answer is simple -- the Republicans and DLC are basically one and the same. Similar foreign and domestic policy goals put them in bed with one another. Its no more complicated than that.
Another very unpopular point of view with which I happen to agree entirely: the Republicans and DLC are basically one and the same... which is why I believe we're in a mess we won't be able to vote ourselves out of.

I'm not trying to minimize the importance of electoral integrity. I firmly believe it's absolutely necessary. But clearly it's not going to be sufficient. We have to attend to a lot of other things too.

UK Papers Pay Dearly For Bogus Arrest Reports

Here's something you don't see every day:
A group of national newspapers have paid £170,000 to a man they falsely accused of involvement in the "liquid bomb" plot to blow up planes at Heathrow airport.

Lawyers for Carter Ruck, representing Amjad Sarwar, said he had been paid £170,000 by the publishers of the Guardian, the Observer, the News of the World, the Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the Evening Standard, the Independent, the Times, the Daily Express and the Daily Star.

Each newspaper has already published a full apology to Mr Sarwar, who lives in High Wycombe, after falsely suggesting that he was suspected of being involved in the alleged plots to blow up a number of British aircraft using "liquid bombs" in August.
Apologies currently online include those from Guardian, the Observer, the Mirror, and the Independent.
"Mr Sarwar has never been arrested, nor questioned, nor detained by the police on suspicion of involvement in the 'liquid bombs' plot or for that matter any other alleged terrorist plots or activities, and there are no grounds for suspecting any such involvement," Mr Sarwar's solicitor, Adam Tudor, said in the high court today before Mr Justice Eady.

"The articles caused Mr Sarwar great distress and embarrassment at a time of particularly heightened sensitivity in relations with the Muslim community, and indeed led Mr Sarwar to fear for his own and his family's safety in light of possible reprisal attacks."

The newspapers apologised to Mr Sarwar and paid his legal costs.
Apart from the quoted report from the Guardian, news of this settlement can currently be found in the Times and some regional papers (here, here, and here).

But up to this point, the other named papers have been silent on the issue.

I'll have more about this later. But for now, I beg you to consider some of the questions raised by this small bit of news.

* How did all these newspapers happen to print the same false information concerning Amjad Sarwar?

* Did they get erroneous information from somebody?

* If so, who gave them erroneous information? And why?

* Or did they collude in the midst of a national crisis to frame an innocent man?

* And if so, why would they do that?

* And if not, what else could have happened?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Alleged "Liquid Bombing" Plot Revisited -- Maybe It Was Possible After All

As described in media reports of the day, the alleged "liquid bombing" plot was to have been a synchronized attack in which terrorists would make bombs out of harmless liquids aboard moving airplanes and blow those planes out of the sky more or less simultaneously, causing "mass murder on an unimaginable scale".

As described in a few blog posts and one British report, but not in any major US media, the alleged plot relied on many factors which were seen by some skeptics as considerably unlikely.

A recent article by Jason Bennetto in The Independent claims that because of the clumsy way in which the alleged plot was broken up, beginning with the arrest of Rashid Rauf in Pakistan, many of the alleged plotters disappeared before they could be arrested. Most of the reaction in the left blogosphere has restricted itself to either simply mirroring the article, or else using it to criticize Bush over his foolishness and perhaps pointing to the timing of the arrests in context of political events in the USA at the time.

But if these "terrorists" -- this so-called second wave -- are still at large, then it makes sense to ask how viable the plan was at the time, and also to re-examine its viability now, in light of recent changes to airport security.

The following analysis considers the ten factors most likely to cause problems for any potential liquid bomber, and suggests ways in which a second wave of liquid bombers might circumvent these perceived difficulties:
  • Acetone: Once upon a time you could buy pure acetone in any corner drugstore. It was called "nail polish remover". But nail polish remover nowadays is colored and scented -- not because it needs to be, but because these chemical "impurities" render it useless as a bomb-ingredient. Pure acetone is now extremely tough to find, unless -- hint, hint! -- you just happen to be the purchasing agent for a large pharmaceutical company.
  • Peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is easy to find. The corner drugstore will sell you 3% peroxide, but bomb-makers consider this concentration too weak to bother with. They say you should use a concentration of 30% if possible. But where can you get hydrogen peroxide this powerful? Some subterfuge may be required. You may wish to consider an ad in the newspaper: "Earnest young Islamic man seeks concentrated hydrogen peroxide for science fair experiment."
  • Acid: You'll need highly concentrated hydrochloric or sulfuric acid. If you find these difficult to obtain, you might consider draining your car battery. You're not going to need that car again anyway, right?
  • Constraints: Under the current restrictions, each passenger can bring just a single one-litre ziplocked clear plastic bag as carry-on luggage, and the liquids in it must be stored in individual bottles of 100ml or less. So getting all the necessary ingredients aboard a plane could pose a problem. But surely you can find a few sympathetic passengers who would be willing to share some of the extra space in their ziplocked baggies.
  • Glassware: You may be more constrained by glassware than anything else. You'll need a lab-quality beaker to mix your bomb in, and anything larger than two litres will be unwieldy and expensive, not to mention difficult to smuggle aboard. Also, if the beaker can't fit in the sink, you're going to have a problem keeping the reaction cold. So beakers bigger than two litres are out for several reasons.
  • Time: The reaction takes several hours, and you're planning to do it in the lavatory of an airplane. So you're going to have to choose a flight on which nobody will need to use the facilities, and then, hopefully, no one will notice that something strange is going on. Certainly, if a lineup starts to form outside the door, your prospects for success will diminish considerably.
  • Temperature: Everything must be kept cold, from the time you add the acteone to the peroxide until your reaction is complete. So you'll need a good supply of ice, and fortunately you have two potential sources: You can have an accomplice carry some onto the plane, and/or you can get ice from the flight crew. We suggest making use of both sources. Your accomplice, of course, should always bring the ice to you directly -- under no circumstances should he ask a flight attendant to "take some more ice to my friend in the bathroom."
  • Ventilation: The fumes from these chemicals are extremely unpleasant and in some cases debilitating, so adequate ventilation will be necessary. It is unlikely that you will be able to improve the airplane's existing ventilation, so this could be one of your more significant problems. If you find yourself struggling to breathe while mixing the bomb, you can always duck into the passenger compartment for a gasp of fresh air, but if you do this too often, you're likely to attract unwanted attention.
  • Filtering: The reaction produces explosive crystals rather than an exploding liquid, which is what most people imagine when they hear the term "liquid bomb". In fact, the crystals must be filtered, rinsed and dried before they can be used. So even once the reaction finishes, you still won't be ready to explode anything until you "harvest" your crystals and process them. And by then the plane may have landed already, unless you implore the will of Allah to arrange for heavy fog or maybe even a blizzard, developing in your destination city and spreading to the surrounding area, as close to your ETA as possible.
  • Yield: You can make about 16 grams of explosive crystals in a two-litre beaker, and as we mentioned, anything bigger than two litres won't fit in the bathroom sink. But you'll need about 250 grams of explosive crystals to knock your airplane out of the sky, so now you need to make another tough decision. Making it all in one big batch would take a lot longer, because you would have to add the acid one drop at a time, so that's not really an option, especially since time is already a factor. Therefore you'll need to recruit a group of teams and have each team make their own crystals. When all the teams are finished, you can combine the crystals for a suitable kaboom. But don't despair. You'll only need 16 teams.


===

ninth in a series

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Larisa's Questions about the Litvinenko and Politkovskaya Murders

Larisa Alexandrovna's most recent article at Raw Story, concerning the poisoning of Alex Litvinenko and the gunshot murder of Anna Politkovskaya, has caused quite a stir. I think people always expect Larisa to say something different than the mainstream media, and they've been surprised lately to see her appearing to confirm the reports we've been getting from the spin-and-noise merchants on TV and radio.

I've been reading Larisa for quite a while, as regular readers know of this frozen blog already know, and I've been impressed by her courage and passion, as well as her sources. But as far as I can tell, all her sources are "inside". So ... if everyone in the "establishment" is telling the same lie, Larisa will hear it often enough to start believing it, maybe.

But she's not easily taken in, and in this case she's still trying to pull hidden threads together. So if what she's been saying lately turns out to be false, I don't think she'll have a problem admitting it.

It might not turn out to be false, of course ...

Earlier today, Larisa posted on her new blog an enormous thought-provoking piece based on some of the questions in her notebook and the answers she's been getting. I think you should read all of Running amok with Alex and Anna, but I'll tease you with a few excerpts first:
The questions about Politkovskaya’s murder, which I have been trying to get information about since it took place in October, are listed below as I had them in my notes:

1). What was Anna working on? She had always been a vocal critic of the Kremlin. So why now (at the time of her October murder)?

2). When were other assassination attempts on her, if any?

3). Why the use of a gun in what so obviously appears to be a murder rather than something more simple and with some wiggle room with regard to plausible denial, like, a car accident?

4). Who did she confide in/trust to tell what she was working on? (We all tell someone, but someone we trust)

5). Who were Anna’s sources?
and
Now, let’s examine questions on Litvinenko's murder:

1). Litvinenko had been a long time critic of the Kremlin, so why was he killed now?

2). Why would Putin use such an obvious and incriminating choice of weaponry, if he is indeed behind the attack?

3). How would this material be delivered, in what form, and by whom?

4). What was Litvinenko working on or claiming at the time of his murder?

5). Who were his contacts?

6). Is this related to Anna’s death?

7). Who did they know in common?

8). What similarities did they have with regard to criticism and allegations?
If these questions appeal to you, if you're interested in reading the answers, if you're curious about where all this might lead, please click here to continue.

Zelikow Resigns!!


Philip Zelikow, Senior Aide to Rice, Resigns From Post

By HELENE COOPER | NYT | November 28, 2006
...
On Monday, the 52-year-old Mr. Zelikow, after 19 months serving as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s in-house contrarian and advocate for realpolitik in American diplomacy, submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 2.
Another one bites the dust? Or not?? Is this a fish story? This is a big fish!
He said that he would return to the University of Virginia, where he has an endowed chair as a history professor.
...
In his resignation letter, Mr. Zelikow cited “some truly riveting obligations to college bursars” for his children’s tuition and said he would remain available to help the administration where he could.
Yes, of course. You can make a lot more money teaching history at the U of V than working for the Secretary of State! Good thinking!
“I appreciate Philip’s dedicated service in this time of historic change and we will miss his counsel at the State Department,” Ms. Rice said in a statement.
... yes, well ... what else can she say?
Mr. Zelikow and Ms. Rice are co-authors of a book about Germany’s reunification, “Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft” (Harvard University Press, 1995).
Yes ... and ... let's not forget their respective roles with The 9/11 Whitewash Commission!
The Commission's Executive Director was Philip D. Zelikow
...
Condoleezza Rice - National Security Advisor to the President, [...] avoided testifying under oath
Something tells me this is gonna be the sort of story where the big media accounts all fasten on the wrong details. The NYT says Zelikow is unhappy with the pace of diplomatic progress. I wish I knew what was really behind this move.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tom Toles: The Negotiations Begin



Things are very busy here in Winter Patriot Land, but I do have time to share Tom Toles' most recent piece. It rocks so hard, there's not much left for a nearly frozen blogger to say ... except: Open Thread!

In Good Company

Somehow I've managed not to mention any of this until now, but look what's been happening in the Netherlands! Atlantic Free Press has been publishing excellent dissident writing since its inception in October, 2006 -- just last month? astounding! -- led by editor-in-chief Chris Floyd (of Empire Burlesque), assisted by Rich Kastelein (ditto) and Chris Cook (of Vancouver's PEJ News) and featuring contributions from a wide and deep cast of characters, including: senior writer Paul William Roberts, Craig Murray, Mike Whitney, Manuel Valenzuela, Mark Crispin Miller, William Blum, Nafeez Ahmed, David Lindorff, Will Durst, William Bowles, David Swanson, and many more ... and (can you believe it?) within the past week they've been joined by the nearly frozen Winter Patriot.

The good folks at AFP have published two of my recent items: Tony Blair Makes a Donation -- to a Government including an International Terrorist and Foiled German Terror Plot Was A Joke? and if all goes well they'll continue to inflict the worst of my politically oriented material on a mostly unsuspecting world.

Something quite similar has been happening already, via another European-based site (although it may soon be moving to Asia -- how global!) where I've been making so-called "contributions" on a semi-irregular basis: Start The Revolution had been a one-man-show (featuring some amazing writing from Shaun, who is also the webmaster, of course!) but it has expanded to included the occasional frozen rant as well as semi-irregular contributions from our friend Gandhi, the aforementioned Bill Blum and Daithí Mac Lochlainn, who (fortunately for us) writes in English much of the time.

So please visit both Start The Revolution and Atlantic Free Press now and then, where you can see what your frozen scribe's frozen scribblings look like among such distinguished company... and even better: you can read the distinguished company!

Nafeez Ahmed Speaks on The Secret History of International Terrorism

Radio 4 All presents a very interesting lecture from Nafeez Ahmed:

It's called "INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM: THE SECRET HISTORY" and it's described this way:
Nafeez Ahmed presents an erudite summary of US/UK and western-backed terrorist intrigue in the service of Empire, from WWII to the present. Recorded by London Sound Posse at the Islamic Centre of England, Maida Vale, London on Sunday 12 November 2006. (MP3 here)

A deep and thought-provoking lecture from the author of:
  • "The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry"
  • "Behind the War on Terror"
  • "The War on Truth"
  • "The War on Freedom"
(h/t: IndyMediaUK | link here)

A few key quotes from Nafeez, as far as I understand his presentation:
If you take my work together, I've looked at al-Q'aeda in Azerbijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Algeria, Libya, the Phillipines, and Chechnya. If you look at that regionally, you're looking at Central Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, North Africa, the Asia-Pacific and the Caucasus. So we're talking about the bulk of the world's major strategic regions.

At every major strategic point in the world, Western power is symbiotically conjoined to al-Q'aeda, either financially, or militarily, or through intelligence connections. And it's not a conspiracy theory; it's absolutely hugely well-documented. I don't know what you might think of conspiracy theory, but my interest is in understanding facts, and how they work and interpreting them...

One example, just to give you an idea of the salience of this kind of research: is anyone aware of David Shayler? Are you familiar with his whole story with Libya? How many people are familiar with the Libya story? ...

Just to give you a brief lowdown, David Shayler worked for MI5 ... the thrust of what he said was that MI6 had a deep undercover operative in an al-Q'aeda cell in Libya and ... they had paid this cell a hundred thousand pounds to carry out this operation to assassinate Colonel Qadaffi, and the whole thing just went completely wrong. They actually ended up blowing up a civilian car and killing civilians ...

What were they doing, plying al-Q'aeda with money to carry out a covert operation, if al-Q'aeda was, in fact, an enemy? ... I think the question of al-Q'aeda's relationship to the establishment is one that needs further research and further clarification, but that, to me, is just a very interesting example of how the official narrative doesn't quite make sense of the actual facts.

And it gets worse -- I mean, the examples that I've discussed, if you look for example at Algeria, where you have a state which is fighting a civil war against a bunch of Islamic terrorists called ... the GIA ... and ... GSPC ... in 1991 there were democratic elections, which the Islamic party won, and the military moved in, really with tacit support from France, from the United States, from Britain, cancelled the elections, and since then the whole country has plunged into civil war. And then you had the emergence of these terrorist groups which are described as al-Q'aeda affiliates, there's supposed to be interpenetration of mujahadeen and weapons, and funds, so on and so forth.

... The Algerian government is saying that it's fighting this war against these terrorists and they're saying that these terrorists are killing civilians, hundreds and thousands of them, and carrying out terrorist attacks in Algeria ... also ... in France, the 1995 Paris Metro bombings ...

Now the problem with this story is: there's a spate of very interesting reports in here, and also in France, in 1997 and 98, Robert Fisk in The Independent, John Sweeney in The Observer, in particular come to mind. But they actually got information from ... former Algerian officers, from the Algerian security services, who basically said that they had been working as part of a very clandestine operation which had penetrated these apparent Islamic terrorist groups and would actually carry out terrorist attacks using these groups, in order to justify the militarization of state policy -- essentially to justify cracking down on political resistance.

So this was a very, very different picture. And in fact this picture has been corroborated more and more, especially in French. There's not a huge amount of literature in English, but in French, there's a burgeoning literature...
...
You cannot any longer look on al-Q'aeda as being merely an enemy. On the contrary, al-Q'aeda has two particular roles, it seems to me...

Its existence, however it does exist -- it's a questionable issue -- legitimizes the wholesale militarization of Western society, and is also subject when possible to Western control and manipulation in order to secure very specific strategic and economic interests...

Throughout the post-Cold War period, al-Q'aeda has actually functioned as a vehicle of Western covert operations, in the service of what I would argue are powerful corporate interests, particularly related to the monopolization of global energy resources.
There's more but I'm not going to type it all. Click here and listen to Nafeez tell it.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Greece: "State Terrorism" Provokes "Resistance Marches"

You don't find the phrase "state terrorism" in the news very often these days.

Instead you find nonsense phrases like "islamofascist terrorism" (Islam and fascism being two very different things, of course, and terrorism yet a third).

You also find more nonsense, like "war against terrorism" (erroneously assuming one can fight a war against a tactic).

But hardly anyone dares to call unprovoked violence by the forces of a state against its own citizens "terrorism", even though, by any sane definition of "terrorism", that's clearly what it is. So when the phrase "state terrorism" appears on Google News, it catches my eye.

This time, it appears it came from Greece, from the Anti-Authoritarian Movement. And it's part of what appears to be a "news release" which runs like this:

Greece: Resistance Marches against Police Violence and State Terrorism

by: Anonymous | under: Europe | from Infoshop News | November 26, 2006

link to original text | slightly edited

"Zero Tolerance" In Action
On Friday 17th of November, before the march, during the march and even after the march the police brutality and terrorism exceeded any limit. Preemptive arrests, brutal beating of protestors, general use of chemical gases, hundreds of abductions, denial of contact with lawyers and many more such incidents are establishing in practice the dogma of the “zero tolerance”.
The Government Is Choosing To Oppress All Who Resist
The government is carrying out its antisocial policies by choosing to oppress all the people who resist: students, teachers, academics, contract workers, deck workers (are few of the most recent victims of state terrorism)… And of course the police assault in many blocs of the last march of 17th of November and the unthought-of violent encirclement and break apart of the Antiauthoritarian Movement (A.K.) bloc. Such tactic constitutes a “test drive” of the repression mechanisms that go hand by hand with the general state authoritarianism.
Having To Face This Situation, We Assume The Initiative
Having to face this situation, we -- workers' unions, student unions, groups who activate in working and educational spaces, political parties, political organisations, and political groups -- assume the initiative for the realisation of mass demonstration of resistance against the state repression on Tuesday 28th of November in Athens.
State Repression Resistance Initiative
Initiative of Resistance to the State Repression

On Tuesday 28/11/06 [November 28, 2006] there will be mass marches in many Greek cities about the same issue:

Athens: 18:00 from Propylaia
Thessaloniki: 17:00 from Kamara
Komotini: 13:00 from the central square
Ksanthi: 18:00 from the central square
Patra: 18:00 from Olgas square
See also:
Police assault in the march in Athens | Photos from Thessaloniki march and the brutal beating of a student by civil cops | Video of the civil cops beating the student

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tom Toles: Where To Start



My favorite cartoonist just keeps getting better.

Open Thread!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Foiled German "Terror Plot" Was A Joke?

According to the BCC, the NYT, and many other sources, German officials announced on Monday that they had broken up a terrorist plot to blow up a passenger plane.

The story was widely reported, even though nobody has been charged in connection with their investigation; in fact five of the six so-called "suspects" were quickly released, and the other one was being held on an unrelated matter. Hmmm.
German police questioned six suspects on Friday over the alleged plot, but five were released on Saturday, the federal prosecutor's office said.
...
One of those arrested on Friday remains in custody in connection with another investigation, the officials said.

Nine apartments were searched on Friday in Rhineland-Palatinate state and Hessen, they added.
You'd have to think if they had any evidence implicating any of the "suspects", they would have kept them around... Wouldn't you?

So ... What kind of terror plot was it?

A conspiracy!!

A report from the South African News24.com, had more details:
"During the summer, several suspects made contact with an individual who had access to the security-restricted zone of an airport," a statement said.

The individual agreed to help smuggle explosives concealed in a case or a bag onto a plane in return for payment, it added. But the plot broke down when the as yet unidentified suspects failed to reach agreement with the airport employee on the amount he would be paid to plant the luggage.
There was even more in The Guardian, which said:
A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the matter, said the plot was centered on the Frankfurt airport and the plan apparently was to attack a plane belonging to Israel's El Al.
Ahh! El Al!! Needless to say, there was plenty of coverage in the Israeli press.

Arutz Sheva even reported on the "co-conspirators": 
The six, in addition to other unidentified conspirators, were backed by a “so far unknown” terror organization, according to a statement issued Monday by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.
But I digress. The Guardian continued:
Under German law, authorities must release suspects after a maximum of 48 hours unless they have enough evidence to convince a judge that they can be held in long-term investigative custody.
So ... they didn't have enough evidence to hold the suspects for even 48 hours, but they did have enough to splash the story all over the world? Hmmm. Have we heard this story once or twice before?

The Guardian also noted:
In a similar investigation, police in the northern city of Hamburg in 2002 arrested seven suspected Islamic extremists who were believed to be plotting new terrorist attacks, only to release them several hours later.

Authorities there later said that through five months of surveillance they had not managed to come up with enough evidence to charge the men, but that they were convinced they were getting ready to act and wanted to thwart their plot.
That was then; this is now.

Plot in Germany was a 'joke,' says terror suspect
24 November 2006

Mainz, Germany (dpa) - One of six Arab men arrested in Germany last week and accused of plotting to blow up a plane asserted in a television interview Thursday that the scheme had been a "joke."

A newspaper, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, added that prosecutors had "inflated" the incident into a plot although investigators had wanted to close the file. It said searches of homes and the arrests of the men had been carried out after four months of fruitless inquiry.

Officials in Germany say the group offered a person with a Frankfurt international airport security clearance a bribe to smuggle a bomb in a suitcase onto a plane. News reports said the group were Palestinians and had targeted the Israeli airline El Al.
...
According to newspapers, the airport employee reported the approach to police. German authorities say they are hunting the "sponsors" of the attack.

The Sueddeutsche, quoting "security services," said the evidence had never been grave and the supposed "sponsors" did not exist.

It said federal police and prosecutors had decided October 23 after months of vain inquiries to search the suspects' homes, mainly so they could say they had left no stone unturned.

The paper said investigators had been worried they would lose judicial permission to continue tapping the men's telephones because the evidence was so slight.
It's funny how German Terror Plot Joke never made quite the same splash as German Terror Plot Foiled -- in fact it's almost invisible on Western news sites, although it has been noticed in Iran and Romania.

And some people wonder why I'm skeptical.

The Best Dobro Player Ever?

Is he the best dobro player ever? Or am I missing somebody?

In lieu of evidence to the contrary, I vote for Jerry Douglas!

... seen here performing solo ...



... and with his band ...



... and with The Chieftains ...



... and with Union Station ...



... Hey! ... HEY! ... Isn't that ... Alison Krauss???

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tony Blair Makes a Donation -- to a Government including an International Terrorist

Tony Blair went to Pakistan last weekend with a quarter of a billion pounds in his back pocket and high hopes of making a trade, but from the look of things he only made a donation.

'Tis the spirit, one month early, perhaps?

Blair's meeting with ex-General (now-President) Pervez Musharraf was a great success for Musharraf, but not for Blair.

Blair's visit to Pakistan was apparently part of a concerted effort to break a deadlocked struggle for an extradition treaty.

The money -- a 250-million-pound increase for "moderate Islamic madrassas" (schools which teach Islam without violence!), raising Britain's contribution from 230 to 480 million pounds (almost a billion dollars) over the next three years, must have seemed to Blair a reasonable quid-pro-quo.

To shorten a long story somewhat, the moderate madrassas of Pakistan got the money, or at least the Pakistani government did, but Tony Blair didn't get the treaty.

Merry Christmas to the moderate madrassas of Pakistan.

Pakistan and the UK have been haggling over an extradition treaty for years, especially in the three months since August 10th, when the so-called "liquid bombers" were arrested (and their alleged plot to mix so-called explosives out of common household liquids aboard a moving airplane was reportedly foiled).

The arrests were said to have been triggered by the capture in Pakistan of one Rashid Rauf, alleged ringleader and/or messenger and/or explosives expert and most certainly the suspects' al-Q'aeda connection.

According to reports from Pakistan, after (or perhaps during) (or maybe even before) his arrest, Rashid Rauf (or possibly an associate of Rashid Rauf) supposedly sent out a text message allegedly giving the so-called plotters a "green signal".

Never mind that only one of the alleged plotters had bought an airline ticket.

Never mind that some of the alleged plotters still didn't even have passports.

Green! Green Green! Go! Go! Go!

Hop aboard transatlantic flights from Heathrow to The Great Satan, mix your liquid bombs along the way, and blow those planes out of the sky in the name of Allah!


So the alleged plotters either started getting this message and the British police feared they would start the attack rolling, or else British police feared they would get the message and start running away, but in any case the alleged plotters were arrested on the night of August 9th and the following day.

And all the airports (especially Heathrow) went on red-hot-alert, vigilant against liquids and pastes and suspicious murky substances in all carry-on luggage, despite some rather awkward circumstances.

For instance,the so-called conspirators had allegedly been caught, so what were we supposedly worried about?

And then: it takes several hours -- or maybe several days -- working in carefully controlled conditions, to make explosives out of common household liquids, and the process yields crystals which must be filtered and dried before they can be used.

No "terrorists" could possibly make a bomb aboard a plane without considerable assistance from the flight crew. And we know that's never going to happen. So what's the plot?

It has been suggested that the arrests were timed with politics in mind, and it would be tough to disagree, especially given the track record of our so-called governments with such events.

Despite this alleged plot having supposedly triggered so many changes in both North America and Europe, there has been very little discussion of the workings of the alleged plot itself.

One British official was especially helpful on this point when he declared that the police were certain they were investigating "an alleged plot".

This was a considerable point in his efforts to assure all the reporters that the authorites were actually responding to an actual "alleged plot", rather than something less or more sinister.

As for the alleged plot itself, the most recent detailed status report was published by the New York Times, which then decided not to ship any papers to Britain that day, and set up special software on their server to block British visitors from reading it online, unless they looked elsewhere.

Since that report, we've almost lost sight of the plot, winding up instead with half a dozen sub-plots, one of which involves Britain's suddenly-enhanced desire to negotiate an extradition treaty with Pakistan so that Blair and associates can get their hands on Rashid Rauf.

The Pakistanis seem to be doing the best they can to shield Rashid Rauf, short of simply saying, "You can't have him." Pakistani officials didn't even admit they were holding him on charges pertaining to the alleged liquid bombing plot until late in October.

Before that, they said he was being held on two charges, one related to altered travel documents and the other not related to terrorism! They've refused (or simply ignored) a request from Rashid Rauf's family to bring him to court, and they still haven't announced the specific charges under which he is being held.

And maybe they have a good reason for not doing so.

As Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed has pointed out, there's been precious little serious discussion of any of this in the British press during the past few months, and none of course on the American side, while airports all over the so-called free world now limit each passenger to a one-liter (1 qt) clear ziplocked plastic bag containing bottles and/or jars of no more than 100ml (3 oz) each.

It may seem extreme but it's better (for the passengers) than the red-hot-alert constraints, where passengers couldn't carry-on any liquid, cream or gel except for mother's milk, and then only if they had a baby with them and then only if the mother tasted the milk before boarding (to show the security guards it was really milk and not acetone or hydrogen peroxide or sulfuric acid!)

In one telling episode, William Blum wrote about a friend who had been prevented from carrying ice cream onto a plane, on the grounds that the ice cream might melt and become a liquid!

And even though Rashid Rauf's name hasn't appeared much in the western press, the Pakistani press has been mentioning him once a week or so, and with more or less the same story-line almost every week, buried amongst other news of the day:

A Pakistani official, asked about the status of extradition treaty negotiations and the prospects of Rashid Rauf being extradited, gives a more-or-less standard non-commital answer which somehow seems to imply that even though there's no extradition treaty, Rashid Rauf may soon be extradited.

And sometimes we see hints that a treaty is in the works or that his extradition is being considered. But so far nothing of the sort has happened.

Perhaps it's because of a lack of evidence?

Meanwhile, it's not just airport security that has changed. Authorities on both sides of the ocean have used the so-called plot to generate tremendous fear and to support a whole new wave of terror alerts, all of which have proved to be bogus or premature or overblown or all of the above.

And in the meantime, habeas corpus has been shredded in the US (not just for foreign terrorists but potentially for any law-abiding American), and Europe has been "harmonising security arrangements", slip-slidin' away to a place marked "continental police state".

So, for instance, there have been long lines and big delays at the airport in Cyprus because each passenger there is entitled to carry-on only a single one-liter clear ziplocked plastic bag containing an unlimited number of bottles and/or jars, each of no more than 100ml.

These restrictions, I must say, make it very difficult for "terrorists" to mix a bomb out of liquid explosives aboard a plane.

By my calculations, if you had...

  • a litre of the right liquids, in the right proportions, and sufficient ice (for the reactants must be kept cold),

  • enough glassware (lab-quality, unless you wish to blow yourself up prematurely without hurting anyone else),

  • enough time (at least six to eight hours, more likely three to four days),

  • proper ventilation (these are strong acids you're working with, and the smell of acetone is not exactly subtle),

  • and a proper filtering system (although an aircraft-quality serviette might do in a pinch -- at any rate this is the least of your technical problems),

  • ...you could possibly create (now pay attention, because this is important!) up to eight grams (a quarter of an ounce) of explosive crystals!

    (You'll excuse me, I hope, if I don't link to the bomb recipe from which I'm borrowing these numbers; I don't want to encourage anyone. I found a page whose owner was ecstatic over getting 8.3 grams of explosive crystals from a batch made in a one-litre flask, and since that was the largest yield I ever saw reported anywhere, 8 grams of crystals per batch seems like a generous estimate.)

    According to experts in the field, if you had a shaped charge, properly packed, and properly placed, you could conceivably knock a hole in the fuselage of a commercial aircraft using only 250 grams (half a pound) of explosive crystals.

    This means it could take as few as 32 passengers, all on the same flight, each carrying-on a litre of the right liquids, in the right proportions, each willing and able to find a separate private area in which to work undisturbed for at least six to eight hours, possibly three or four days.

    They couldn't all work together, of course, because if they pooled their resources and mixed all their liquids together, somebody would probably notice -- and it would smack of conspiracy!

    But if 32 passengers, acting independently, somehow fashioned a shaped charge containing roughly 250 grams of explosive crystals, without actually working together, it wouldn't really be a conspiracy, would it?

    So they might -- just might! -- be able to pull it off. Be very afraid.

    They would probably need only another 50 or 60 passengers in support, carrying-on the required glassware and ice (hopefully in insulated carry-on coolers).

    In other words, it would only take about 80 or 90 terrorists, working together but separately for six or eight hours, or maybe three or four days, to bring down a commercial aircraft using a bomb made from explosive liquids.

    As all can plainly see, the danger is certainly clear and present, the threat will obviously last at least a generation, and this is clearly a good enough reason to shred some fundamental legal rights, such as habeas corpus; we might as well legislate some immunity for war crimes already committed, while we're at it.

    So ... that's the reason for the plastic bags, and all the little bottles and jars, and the warnings about how al-Q'aeda terrorists might revive the liquid bombing plan in order to wreak havoc on unsuspecting intercontinental travelers this holiday season.

    And that's also why Tony Blair wants Rashid Rauf, but of course there's no extradition treaty between Pakistan and the UK, and that's why Tony Blair has just been visiting Pakistan looking for one. He hasn't been successful, not yet anyway.

    But he may not need it right away, as British authorities have announced the trial of the alleged liquid bombers will not begin until 2008 -- probably not until after Easter. So Blair still has time to work on a deal before the "speedy" trial begins. It might cost him another billion, and then again he still might not get it; we can only wait and see.

    If Tony Blair is wondering why he's been having so much trouble with Pakistan, supposedly a key ally in the war against terror, he might pause to consider what may have happened had he arrived in Pakistan three days earlier than he did.

    Had he landed on Tuesday rather than Friday, he could have enjoyed reading about Tanvir Hussain, the retired Pakistani army major, now a member of the Pakistani parliament and in fact the parliamentary Secretary of Defense, who declared on that day in a parliamentary debate that he had been a member of the banned terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (aka LeT) (aka LT).

    LeT is "the military wing of the Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI), an Islamic fundamentalist organisation which advocates a fully Islamic India, and whose military wing has been involved in bombing attacks against India since 1990", according to Wikipedia.

    India and Pakistan have been at odds for a lifetime, having fought three wars against each other in the past sixty years. And they've just recently begun talking again after a horrific July 11 bombing attack against passenger trains in Mumbai.

    LeT are suspected of involvement in those bombings, as well as many other large and extremely violent attacks, including the Delhi train bombings of October 29, 2005, and the London train bombings of July 7, 2005.

    So this was probably a bad time for a Pakistani MP to say he had been a member of LeT.

    Initially I got the impression he was saying he was a former member. But is that really what he meant when he said "I have been a member of LeT"? Is he a "former member"? Well, not quite.

    According to more detailed accounts, published in India and Australia but not in Pakistan, Tanvir Hussain went on to explain that he is still associated with LeT, he goes to their conventions, he makes speeches for them there, and he gives them additional help when they ask for it.

    He claims he's a jihadi, not a terrorist, and I don't think anyone can argue with him on this point, since everyone knows one man's terrorist is another man's jihadi.

    Anyway, a Pakistani spokesman reportedly said we shouldn't worry about it, that we should focus "on what governments do and not on what individuals say". I'd find his advice easier to take if the individual in question were not part of the government, but nonetheless...

    Plus c'est la meme chose, plus c'est la meme chose.

    In other words, the status is still quo, for the most part. Tanvir Hussain is still an MP and the parliamentary secretary of defense. Nobody in Pakistan is screaming for his resignation, or even for a retraction. They probably just want him to stop talking.

    In the global game of foot-in-mouth, John Kerry's got nothin' on Tanvir Hussain.

    Meanwhile, Tony Blair still doesn't have an extradition treaty, and Rashid Rauf is still in Pakistan, looking more and more unlikely to face extradition. The only substantial difference is the money.

    Tony Blair just gave Pervez Musharraf an additional 250 million pounds for what appears to be three more years of more of the same.

    We're told we're at war against a network, not a country. We're told it's the elusive nature of the terrorist organizations -- networks of small and mostly independent "cells", with operational knowledge shared on a need-to-know basis -- that makes them so difficult to counter.

    Without hinting at how closely this form of organization follows standard CIA tradecraft, I can't avoid mentioning that the way to trace connections in such a network is to "follow the money".

    In this case the money -- an additional 250 million pounds sterling, nearly half a billion more dollars -- went from the government of a country which is said to be fighting terrorism, to the government of another country which is also said to be fighting terrorism, but whose parliamentary secretary of defense is closely affiliated with a notoriously violent terrorist -- oops! notoriously violent jihadi -- organization.

    Does this implicate Tony Blair in international terrorism? Is the UK money-laundering hundreds of millions through Pakistan to known terrorists? Was it simply a misguidedly hoped-for deal that didn't quite work out? Or does Blair sincerely believe that giving millions of pounds to Pakistan to promote non-violent schooling will give him the edge in the phony war on phony terror?

    Who can say? Tony Blair says we're finally fighting terrorism properly, so I guess we're bound to win sooner or later. Whatever that means.

    ===

    eighth in a series

    J.F.K. and the Bay of Pigs

    “If the people were to ever find out what we have done, we would be chased down the streets and lynched.”
    -– George H. W. Bush, cited in the June 1992 Sarah McClendon Newsletter.

    A BLAST FROM THE PAST: Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote this letter to his brother Nov. 8, 1954:
    "Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this -- in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything–even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon “moderation” in government.

    Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man rom other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”
    One of those Texas Oil Millionaires, and part of the "tiny splinter group" is none other than George H. W. Bush.

    41’s bio:
    …A few months before the end of the war, while on rotation home, he married Barbara Pierce, whose father published the magazines Redbook and McCall’s. After the war,
    ...
    Although he was offered a job at his father’s firm, Brown Brothers, Harriman and Company, Bush moved, with his wife and infant son, to west Texas, where he worked for Dresser Industries, an oilfield supply company. He started at the bottom, sweeping warehouses and painting machinery, but soon became a salesman of drilling bits.

    By 1950, he had gone into business for himself, forming the Bush-Overby Company with partner John Overby in Midland, Texas. This company, which dealt in oil and gas properties, grew and took on more partners. In 1954, George Bush co-founded and became the president of Zapata Offshore Company.
    DRESSER INDUSTRIES:
    …Prescott Bush was a director of Dresser Industries, which is now part of Halliburton. Former United States president George H. W. Bush worked for Dresser Industries in several positions from 1948-1951, before he founded Zapata Corporation.
    Halliburton’s Iraq Deals Greater Than Cheney Has Said
    …But in 1998, Cheney oversaw Halliburton’s acquisition of Dresser Industries Inc., which exported equipment to Iraq through two subsidiaries of a joint venture with another large U.S. equipment maker, Ingersoll-Rand Co.
    ZAPATA OIL: THE BAY OF PIGS AND THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION
    Starting about the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion in the spring of 1961, we have the first hints that Bush, in addition to working for Zapata Offshore, may also have been a participant in certain covert operations of the US intelligence community.

    Such participation would certainly be coherent with George’s role in the Prescott Bush, Skull and Bones, and Brown Brothers, Harriman networks. During the twentieth century, the Skull and Bones/Harriman circles have always maintained a sizable and often decisive presence inside the intelligence organizations of the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Office of Strategic Services, and the Central Intelligence Agency. [MORE]
    Dick Russel dot org
    Leave it to the old Kennedy assassination researcher to come up with a good one. As we read about the decimation of the striper’s principal food supply – a small, boney fish called the menhaden – by commercial fishing operations intent on exploiting it for use in Omega-3 fish oil, we find ourselves back at “the Bay of Pigs thing”, as Nixon put it. For who is America’s largest purveyor of Omega-3 fish oil and the major destroyer of the menhaden supply but … Zapata Oil!

    Oh, yes, dear reader. The same Zapata Oil that was run by George H.W. Bush until he sold it in the mid-1960s, believed to have been a CIA front for the Bay of Pigs invasion. We will never know all the details because, as Russell reminds us, potentially revealing financial documents were “accidentally” destroyed at the SEC when Bush became vice-president under Reagan. The company is now known as Omega Protein, and it is owned by the same man who bought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United: Malcolm Glazer.
    Famous Texans.com - Howard Hughes
    …Throughout the 1950s, as the power of three entities grew – the Hughes empire, organized crime, and the new Central Intelligence Agency – it became all but impossible to distinguish between them. By the end of the decade, Hughes’ chief of staff, Robert Maheu, had orchestrated the CIA’s dirtiest secret – plots to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro with the help of two heads of organized crime. Vice President Richard Nixon was the White House action officer in the clandestine attempts to oust Castro.

    Zapata Off-Shore, the oil company owned by future CIA director and U.S. president George Bush after he split it off from Zapata Oil partner Hugh Liedtke in 1954, had a drilling rig on the Cay Sal Bank in 1958. These islands had been leased to Nixon supporter and CIA contractor Howard Hughes the previous year and were later used as a base for CIA raids on Cuba.

    Nixon lost the 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy largely because of a scandal over a never repaid $205,000 “loan” Nixon’s brother received from Hughes. As attorney general, Robert Kennedy secretly investigated the Hughes-Nixon dealings.
    Allen Dulles, the later CIA director, who was the architect [together with Vice President Richard Nixon and George Bush] of the Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Allen Dulles was fired by President Kennedy because of the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs. Yet Allen Dulles was appointed by Lyndon Johnson to serve on the Warren Commission to “investigate” JFK’s death.

    Allen Dulles & the CIA
    Dulles was fired from the CIA by Kennedy in 1961 over Operation Northwoods. Another cover CIA operation aimed at gaining popular support for a war against Cuba by framing Cuba for stage real or simulated attacks on American citizens. Dulles was replaced by John McCone.

    Allen Dulles and the Bush family
    John Foster Dulles, Allen’s brother was hired by George Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush to cover up improprieties in their business dealings in Poland and nazi Germany.
    White House For Sale: The Hunts of Texas
    Ray Hunt ranked No. 78 on the 2003 “Forbes 400 Richest Americans” list. Hunt’s fortune originated in rights his father bought in 1930 to a sea of 5 billion barrels of east Texas crude.

    Polygamist H.L. Hunt pumped $100 million into trusts that he left to two of his three families. Placid Oil fed his first family’s trusts, while Hunt Oil benefited the family that H.L. started with a Hunt Oil secretary.

    Ray Hunt later formed Hunt Consolidated as an umbrella for Hunt Oil, his Dallas real estate empire and other other ventures. Hunt Oil and Halliburton Co. (where Hunt sits on the board) are developing the $1.6 billion Camisea gas project in a Peruvian rain forest reserve established to protect indigenous people.

    Gas will be shipped to a processing plant in the buffer zone of Peru’s only marine sanctuary in pipelines cut through the rain forest. On environmental grounds in mid 2003 the U.S. Export Import Bank rejected a request for $214 million in public funding for Camisea, which Amazon Watch calls “the most damaging project in the Amazon Basin.” Two weeks later, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) stepped in with $135 million in loans.

    While the United States controls 30 percent of the IDB’s multilateral vote, Camisea promoters lined up the votes to approve this funding with U.S. IDB Director Jose Fourquet abstaining. Until recently, the company website said that Hunt Oil Vice President Hunter Hunt (Ray Hunt’s son) served as George W. Bush’s “primary Policy Advisor responsible for energy issues.”

    Ray Hunt is a veteran powerbroker. After raising $4 million for then-Senator Phil Gramm in a single 1995 fundraiser, Hunt boasted that this one-day take was “the largest in the history of American politics.” A monument to Hunt’s local political influence is Dallas’ $210 million, 53-acre Reunion complex, which Hunt spent a year secretly planning with then-City Manager George Schrader without informing the city council.

    The city received just one bid for the huge project in 1973 and approved a remarkable contract with Hunt. One provision stipulated that the city would refurbish the old Union Terminal train station and then rent two floors of it to Hunt for $100 a year over 100 years. Accusing the city of breaching this contract, Hunt later pressed a $1.4 million claim.

    The City Council voted in 1993 to pay Hunt a $440,000 settlement. “This is giving welfare to the rich,” complained dissenting council member Domingo Garcia. “Somebody owed us money, and they threatened to take us to court. Now, we’re paying people to be quiet.”

    After Dallas’ First Republic Bank failed in 1989 at a record taxpayer cost of $3.6 billion, Hunt and other ex-directors and officers of the bank (see Robert Dedman) agreed to pay $17.5 million in 1993 to settle related charges. “Those were very rich, very important, and some very self-important people,” a federal prosecutor said. “They don’t understand that when you have enormous problems you have to do something about it or quit the bank. It is endemic among directors across the country. But there is a peculiar brand of it in Texas.”

    Then-Governor Bush fast-tracked an oil tax break in 1999 by declaring it a legislative emergency. Billed as relief for small producers, the tax cut benefited energy giants as well as the oil companies of nine future Pioneers, including a $85,176 tax break for Hunt energy interests. Bush appointed Hunt to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in 2001.
    Top Secret Cronies
    Bush has stacked his foreign advisory board with his Texas business pals, who stand to profit from access to CIA and military intelligence.

    By Robert Bryce | 11/17/2005

    ...With Scowcroft out, Bush's cronies are in. Last month, the White House announced that Dallas oil billionaire Ray Hunt, one of Bush's biggest financial backers, was reappointed to the PFIAB. So was Cincinnati financier William DeWitt Jr., who has backed Bush in all of his business deals going back to 1984, when DeWitt's company, Spectrum 7, bailed out the faltering entity known as Bush Oil Co. The new appointee of note to the PFIAB is former Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, a Bush confidant since his days in Midland, Texas....
    [many thanks to Kira for this material]

    Cut From A Different Mold -- R.I.P. J.F.K.

    Once upon a time, in the United States of America, there was a President who dared to fight the big oil companies, the big steel companies, the mob, the military propaganda machine, and even the CIA.

    Once upon a time, in the United States of America, there was a President who was loved and admired by people all over the world, because of what he stood for, because of what he said, and because of what he did.

    Once upon a time, in the United States of America, there was a President who did his best to maintain world peace, while his advisors -- as well as his opponents -- tried to lead the country into war.

    As we all know, his life came to a sudden and violent end, 43 years ago today.

    And every year at this time, I find myself mourning, not just for the man, but for the future; for all the possibilities that were eliminated along with the President who dared to fight for peace instead of war, who dared to stand for the people instead of the corporations, who dared to speak his mind, regardless of whether his words were likely to be well-received in the corridors of power.

    But I should have stopped that long ago. In retrospect, it's quite clear that his administration could not be allowed to stand, without a fundamental power shift behind the scenes that was simply not about to happen. He had way too many powerful enemies.

    At the time, we were told his death was "a senseless tragedy". But we now know exactly what it was: "state-sponsored, false-flag terrorism". I probably know more about the JFK assassination than I know about anything else. But I don't want to talk about it in this post (although I will probably speak freely in the comments!)

    My purpose here is simply to share a few excerpts from his speeches...

    July 4, 1946
    A nation's character, like that of an individual, is elusive. It is produced partly by things we have done and partly by what has been done to us. It is the result of physical factors, intellectual factors, spiritual factors. It is well for us to consider our American character, for in peace, as in war, we will survive or fail according to its measure.
    January 20, 1961
    We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage -- and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
    June 10, 1963
    Let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.
    ... as well as an entire speech:

    "The President and the Press"


    April 27, 1961 (listen here)
    Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:

    I appreciate very much your generous invitation to be here tonight.

    You bear heavy responsibilities these days and an article I read some time ago reminded me of how particularly heavily the burdens of present day events bear upon your profession.

    You may remember that in 1851 the New York Herald Tribune under the sponsorship and publishing of Horace Greeley, employed as its London correspondent an obscure journalist by the name of Karl Marx.

    We are told that foreign correspondent Marx, stone broke, and with a family ill and undernourished, constantly appealed to Greeley and managing editor Charles Dana for an increase in his munificent salary of $5 per installment, a salary which he and Engels ungratefully labeled as the "lousiest petty bourgeois cheating."

    But when all his financial appeals were refused, Marx looked around for other means of livelihood and fame, eventually terminating his relationship with the Tribune and devoting his talents full time to the cause that would bequeath the world the seeds of Leninism, Stalinism, revolution and the cold war.

    If only this capitalistic New York newspaper had treated him more kindly; if only Marx had remained a foreign correspondent, history might have been different. And I hope all publishers will bear this lesson in mind the next time they receive a poverty-stricken appeal for a small increase in the expense account from an obscure newspaper man.

    I have selected as the title of my remarks tonight "The President and the Press." Some may suggest that this would be more naturally worded "The President Versus the Press." But those are not my sentiments tonight.

    It is true, however, that when a well-known diplomat from another country demanded recently that our State Department repudiate certain newspaper attacks on his colleague it was unnecessary for us to reply that this Administration was not responsible for the press, for the press had already made it clear that it was not responsible for this Administration.

    Nevertheless, my purpose here tonight is not to deliver the usual assault on the so-called one party press. On the contrary, in recent months I have rarely heard any complaints about political bias in the press except from a few Republicans. Nor is it my purpose tonight to discuss or defend the televising of Presidential press conferences. I think it is highly beneficial to have some 20,000,000 Americans regularly sit in on these conferences to observe, if I may say so, the incisive, the intelligent and the courteous qualities displayed by your Washington correspondents.

    Nor, finally, are these remarks intended to examine the proper degree of privacy which the press should allow to any President and his family.

    If in the last few months your White House reporters and photographers have been attending church services with regularity, that has surely done them no harm.

    On the other hand, I realize that your staff and wire service photographers may be complaining that they do not enjoy the same green privileges at the local golf courses that they once did.

    It is true that my predecessor did not object as I do to pictures of one's golfing skill in action. But neither on the other hand did he ever bean a Secret Service man.

    My topic tonight is a more sober one of concern to publishers as well as editors.

    I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years. Whatever our hopes may be for the future -- for reducing this threat or living with it -- there is no escaping either the gravity or the totality of its challenge to our survival and to our security -- a challenge that confronts us in unaccustomed ways in every sphere of human activity.

    This deadly challenge imposes upon our society two requirements of direct concern both to the press and to the President -- two requirements that may seem almost contradictory in tone, but which must be reconciled and fulfilled if we are to meet this national peril. I refer, first, to the need for a far greater public information; and, second, to the need for far greater official secrecy.

    I

    The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

    But I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the nation to reexamine his own standards, and to recognize the nature of our country's peril. In time of war, the government and the press have customarily joined in an effort based largely on self-discipline, to prevent unauthorized disclosures to the enemy. In time of "clear and present danger," the courts have held that even the privileged rights of the First Amendment must yield to the public's need for national security.

    Today no war has been declared -- and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe. The survival of our friends is in danger. And yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired.

    If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of "clear and present danger," then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.

    It requires a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions -- by the government, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence -- on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

    Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.

    Nevertheless, every democracy recognizes the necessary restraints of national security -- and the question remains whether those restraints need to be more strictly observed if we are to oppose this kind of attack as well as outright invasion.

    For the facts of the matter are that this nation's foes have openly boasted of acquiring through our newspapers information they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery or espionage; that details of this nation's covert preparations to counter the enemy's covert operations have been available to every newspaper reader, friend and foe alike; that the size, the strength, the location and the nature of our forces and weapons, and our plans and strategy for their use, have all been pinpointed in the press and other news media to a degree sufficient to satisfy any foreign power; and that, in at least in one case, the publication of details concerning a secret mechanism whereby satellites were followed required its alteration at the expense of considerable time and money.

    The newspapers which printed these stories were loyal, patriotic, responsible and well-meaning. Had we been engaged in open warfare, they undoubtedly would not have published such items. But in the absence of open warfare, they recognized only the tests of journalism and not the tests of national security. And my question tonight is whether additional tests should not now be adopted.

    The question is for you alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will. But I would be failing in my duty to the nation, in considering all of the responsibilities that we now bear and all of the means at hand to meet those responsibilities, if I did not commend this problem to your attention, and urge its thoughtful consideration.

    On many earlier occasions, I have said -- and your newspapers have constantly said -- that these are times that appeal to every citizen's sense of sacrifice and self-discipline. They call out to every citizen to weigh his rights and comforts against his obligations to the common good. I cannot now believe that those citizens who serve in the newspaper business consider themselves exempt from that appeal.

    I have no intention of establishing a new Office of War Information to govern the flow of news. I am not suggesting any new forms of censorship or any new types of security classifications. I have no easy answer to the dilemma that I have posed, and would not seek to impose it if I had one. But I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to reexamine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes upon us all.

    Every newspaper now asks itself, with respect to every story: "Is it news?" All I suggest is that you add the question: "Is it in the interest of the national security?" And I hope that every group in America -- unions and businessmen and public officials at every level -- will ask the same question of their endeavors, and subject their actions to the same exacting tests.

    And should the press of America consider and recommend the voluntary assumption of specific new steps or machinery, I can assure you that we will cooperate whole-heartedly with those recommendations.

    Perhaps there will be no recommendations. Perhaps there is no answer to the dilemma faced by a free and open society in a cold and secret war. In times of peace, any discussion of this subject, and any action that results, are both painful and without precedent. But this is a time of peace and peril which knows no precedent in history.

    II

    It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation -- an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people -- to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well -- the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.

    No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.

    I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers -- I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: "An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it." We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

    Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed -- and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment -- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution -- not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants" -- but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

    This means greater coverage and analysis of international news -- for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security -- and we intend to do it.

    III

    It was early in the Seventeenth Century that Francis Bacon remarked on three recent inventions already transforming the world: the compass, gunpowder and the printing press. Now the links between the nations first forged by the compass have made us all citizens of the world, the hopes and threats of one becoming the hopes and threats of us all. In that one world's efforts to live together, the evolution of gunpowder to its ultimate limit has warned mankind of the terrible consequences of failure.

    And so it is to the printing press -- to the recorder of man's deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news -- that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.
    In many ways JFK was a visionary, but I believe it's safe to say he never imagined that "the recorder of man's deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news" would abdicate its duty, only to be replaced by a virtual army of mostly amateurs pounding on keyboards all day and all night, all over the world, connected by -- not a dump truck, but a series of tubes.