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Saturday, February 12, 2005

"The Bush Betrayal"

NOTE: This article was originally published here on 27 August 2004. Republished for the purpose of newsfeed distribution.

This is the title of James Bovard's new book which I will likely order because I certainly liked its first chapter. I didn't see anything there I had never thought of. However, its excellent narrative is way beyond my level, and I kept thinking to myself as I read it that I wished I could have written such a clear, concise and to-the-point summary of the Bush administrations' numerous problems.

Of 9/11 attacks, Bovard writes,

Bush is wrapping himself in a flag drenched with the blood of Americans who died due to the failure of the federal government he commanded. The Bush reelection campaign is running television ads showing an American flag flying in front of the ruins of the World Trade Center towers and a flag-draped corpse being carried out of Ground Zero by firefighters. The Republicans will hold their national convention in New York days before the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Bush exploits the 9/11 dead while he stonewalls the 9/11 Commission. The Bush reelection team seems convinced that Bush�s actions on that day entitle Bush to rule Americans for four more years.
This is the point few have made. Essentially, whether you agree with the official version of the events of that day or not, you've got to acknowledge that the administration's activities prior to the event amount at the very best to gross incompetence, if not participation in the events as some claim. But let us assume that the 9/11 Commission Report is absolutely correct,- even though, as I have said earlier, that is unlikely. The Report pretty much indicates gross intelligence failures, incredible lack of action on the administration's part even in the face of dire warnings, "failure of imagination",- in other words, failure to think outside the box and picture scenarios long detailed in various documents,- in short, the Report lists a whole bunch of reasons why this administration ought to be summarily fired from their jobs, not reelected for another four-year term. If the public perception were not so clouded, they would do their best not to remind us of 9/11; yet, the way it is Bush uses it as a reelection platform and to an extent that approach appears to be successful.

And why is the perception so clouded? The answer is simple: fear. "9/11 changed everything", became the administration's mantra. As Bovard observes,
After 9/11, almost every expansion of government became a coup for homeland security. When Bush announced plans to bloat the AmeriCorps �paid volunteer� program, he declared: �One way to defeat terrorism is to show the world the true values of America through the gathering momentum of a million acts of responsibility and decency and service.� While Bush portrays AmeriCorps recruits as heroes, AmeriCorps members busy themselves putting on puppet shows to persuade three-year-olds of the value of smoke alarms, hoeing corn at tourist farms, and sanctimoniously picking up litter in bad neighborhoods. Bush summoned every citizen to give four thousand hours of �service.� After dubious federal statistics showed a marginal rise in volunteering, Bush hyped the uptick as proof that his leadership is morally rejuvenating America.

The Transportation Security Administration and its 45,000-member airport occupation army is one of the Bush administration�s biggest shams. Despite more than $10 billion spent since 9/11, airport screeners are not any more competent than they were in 1987. Yet, as long as TSA brags about seizing millions of pointy objects each year from grandmothers and other scofflaws, Americans are supposed to believe that the endless delays are worthwhile. TSA is punishing critics, slapping fines of up to $1,500 on airline passengers guilty of showing the wrong �attitude� as they pass through TSA checkpoint gauntlets.
But mostly I like this concise and, in my opinion, very appropriate definition of what is fundamentally wrong with Bush's overall approach to the job of Presidency.
Bush governs like an elective monarch, entitled to reverence and deference on all issues. Secret Service agents ensure that Bush rarely views opponents of his reign, carefully quarantining protesters in �free speech zones� far from public view. The FBI has formally requested that local police monitor antiwar groups and send information on demonstrators to FBI-led terrorism task forces. Thanks to the campaign finance act Bush signed, Americans have also lost much of their freedom to criticize their rulers � at least in the 60 days before an election.
President George W. Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and other administration officials continually remind Americans that everything changed after 9/11. But does that include the Constitution? Are the myths of 9/11 undermining the truths of 1776?
This sounds like a right book that came out at the right time. You can order it here.

Friday, February 11, 2005

In The USA Today...

NOTE: This article was originally published here on 10 November 2004. Republished for the purpose of newsfeed distribution.

Government officials will deny me right to counsel, due process of law, and habeas corpus by simply labeling me an “enemy combatant” before executing me. Just like in North Korea. But I’m free because I voted, right?
Asks Jacob Hornberger in his article titled I’m Free Because I Voted, Right?. How poignant. No further comment.

Who Is William Krar?

NOTE: This article was originally published here on 18 August 2004. Republished for the purpose of newsfeed distribution.

If you don't know, it is OK. You likely got lots and lots of company. Even though Krar was arrested during what appeared to be preparation for major terrorist activity, his arrest attracted minimal attention from the media and caused no press release by the Department of Justice, which under John Ashcroft, as of the press time for this UPI report, had "found at least 2,295 occasions to toot its own horn that are apparently more newsworthy than the Krar arrest".

According to this report,

Krar, who is affiliated with several anti-government, white supremacist militia organizations, was apprehended after mailing a package containing false U.N. credentials, Defense Intelligence Agency IDs, phony birth certificates and a forged federal concealed weapons permit to a co-conspirator in New Jersey.

The package came with a note that read, "We would hate to have this fall into the wrong hands." It did. It was delivered to the incorrect address.

An alert citizen contacted the FBI, which led to the arrest of Krar and the discovery of a mind-numbing weapons cache: fully automatic machine guns, remote-controlled explosive devices disguised as briefcases, 60 pipe bombs, nearly 500,000 rounds of ammunition and enough pure sodium cyanide "to kill everyone inside a 30,000 square foot building," according to federal authorities.

Krar consequently pleaded guilty to possessing a dangerous chemical weapon and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Sounds fair enough to me, and I am satisfied that Mr Krar will be away for awhile and will get a chance to cool his heels and maybe revise his attitude.

What I do find astounding is the near silence surrounding this case,- which is most likely why you are first reading about this gentleman here, if that is the case. One would think that, quoting the same UPI report, both the administration and the media would pay more attention to a man whose "arrest by federal law enforcement in the small town of Noonday, Texas, last April may have stopped the most devastating terror attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11".

So, what is the reason for that near silence? I don't know, but I think part of it may be that the story would not sell, that it lacks the sensationalist value, that maybe after 9/11 the non-Muslim Americans were supposed to be "good guys only" and writing about this sort of individual would be disturbing news that would in turn drive down ratings. Once again, these are just some thoughts of mine, I do not have any serious research to back it up with.

However, be that as it may, the following seem to be some of the lessons from this story. Firstly, not all terrorists are Arab or Muslim. Secondly, not all Arab or Muslim people are terrorists. Thirdly, the evil of all kinds can be found anywhere, and when it is found among us, the worst thing for us to do would be to pretend it is not there,- which is pretty much what the media is covertly trying to get us to do through their biased and incomplete (and, in most cases, outright missing) coverage of the Krar case.

"Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death"

NOTE: This article was originally published here on 18 August 2004. Republished for the purpose of newsfeed distribution.

This is a documentary about the alleged massacre of the Taliban POWs who had surrendered to the Northern Alliance troops in 2001 at Kunduz. According to this documentary, US troops participated in the massacre. Democracy Now! claims to be the only TV channel to air this controversial film even though it was viewed by a significant audience worldwide.

The film was directed by Jamie Doran who claims to have been directly told him that the film will never see the light of day in the US.

Jamie Doran says of State Department official Larry Schwartz, “Larry said and I quote directly, ‘You have to understand, we’re involved, we’re in touch with the national [newspapers] on a daily basis – this story won’t run, even if it’s true.’” And television industry insiders told Doran, “not now Jamie.”
Well, they were wrong,- thanks to the efforts of Democracy Now! and Information Clearing House. Unfortunately, they were right about the mainstream media who to the best of my knowledge never even mentioned the film's existence. However, you can watch it now, and I highly recommend it as we must know the truth no matter how difficult it may be.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Secret Laws

NOTE: This article was originally published here on 18 November 2004. Republished for the purpose of newsfeed distribution.

Helen Chenoweth-Hage recently had an encounter with the Transportation Security Agency personnel during which she learned that there are laws and legal standards us common folks are not allowed to know.

Last month, Helen Chenoweth-Hage attempted to board a United Airlines flight from Boise to Reno when she was pulled aside by airline personnel for additional screening, including a pat-down search for weapons or unauthorized materials.

Chenoweth-Hage, an ultra-conservative former Congresswoman (R-ID), requested a copy of the regulation that authorizes such pat-downs.

"She said she wanted to see the regulation that required the additional procedure for secondary screening and she was told that she couldn't see it," local TSA security director Julian Gonzales told the Idaho Statesman (10/10/04).

"She refused to go through additional screening [without seeing the regulation], and she was not allowed to fly," he said. "It's pretty simple."

Chenoweth-Hage wasn't seeking disclosure of the internal criteria used for screening passengers, only the legal authorization for passenger pat-downs. Why couldn't they at least let her see that? asked Statesman commentator Dan Popkey.

"Because we don't have to," Mr. Gonzales replied crisply.

"That is called 'sensitive security information.' She's not allowed to see it, nor is anyone else," he said.

Thus, in a qualitatively new development in U.S. governance, Americans can now be obligated to comply with legally-binding regulations that are unknown to them, and that indeed they are forbidden to know.
To someone who grew up in the Soviet Union this definitely sounds like a blast from the past. Both the Communist Party and the security apparatus there often enforced internal regulations that were secret. Not infrequently, those regulations also ran counter to the official legal norms.

Welcome to Boise, Idaho of 2004. There you may just be lucky enough to get a taste of Voronezh, Russia of 1980.

49.3% of New York City Residents Say US Government Had Foreknowledge of 9/11: Zogby Poll

NOTE: This article was originally published here on 1 September 2004. Republished for the purpose of newsfeed distribution.

The results of this Zogby poll are certainly music to my ears. No matter how much I revel in my role of a social outcast I must still secretly crave for those who share my thoughts and perceptions.

According to Zogby International, this poll commissioned by was the first of its kind conducted in the US. Polls along the same lines have been conducted in other countries, and some of those polls have revealed views similar to those of many New Yorkers are even more popular abroad. For instance, in May 2004 this Canadian poll commissioned by the International Citizens' Inquiry into 9/11 had 63% or respondents agreeing

...that “Individuals within the U.S. Government including the White House had prior knowledge of the plans for the events of September 11th, and failed to take appropriate action to stop them”.
The Zogby poll list many notable details that could give us some insight into the current state of our collective mind,- if not in the US overall, then at least in New York City.
Less than two in five (36%) believe that the 9/11 Commission had "answered all the important questions about what actually happened on September 11th," and two in three (66%) New Yorkers (and 56.2% overall) called for another full investigation of the "still unanswered questions" by Congress or Elliot Spitzer, New York's Attorney General. Self-identified "very liberal" New Yorkers supported a new inquiry by a margin of three to one, but so did half (53%) of "very conservative" citizens across the state. The call for a deeper probe was especially strong from Hispanics (75.6%), African-Americans (75.3%) citizens with income from $15-25K (74.3%), women (62%) and Evangelicals (59.9%).
It is not unreasonable that minorities largely ignored by the Bush administration are a bit more distrustful than others. It is also nice to know that many of those who identify themselves as "very conservative" do not suffer from blind allegiance to the Bush administration's neocon agenda. In short, I am proud of New Yorkers because as a group they clearly seem to put truth before politics, and in their quest for that truth they to a large extent seem to be non-partisan. I am also proud of them for being able to break out of the trap of fear. This is the trap the official propaganda machine has set up to prevent us from seeking the truth,- but I sincerely hope the beast has grown too big for that trap. New Yorkers have set an example for all of us, and we would do good to follow that example.

Kudos to Zogby International and all those who supported that effort. Keep up the good work!

Bill Moyers: Journalism Under Fire

NOTE: This article was originally published here on 18 September 2004. Republished for the purpose of newsfeed distribution.

This is an outstanding speech by a veteran journalist. Moyers, who has spent 54 years in the profession, gives a well thought-out perspective on what journalism is, what it ought to be, and how it influences the society. Of journalists he writes,
Our job remains essentially the same: to gather, weigh, organize, analyze and present information people need to know in order to make sense of the world. You will hear it said this is not a professional task—John Carroll of the Los Angeles Times recently reminded us there are “no qualification tests, no boards to censure misconduct, no universally accepted set of standards.” Maybe so. But I think that what makes journalism a profession is the deep ethical imperative of which the public is aware only when we violate it—think Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Jim Kelly. Ed Wasserman, once an editor himself and now teaching at Washington and Lee University, says that journalism “is an ethical practice because it tells people what matters and helps them determine what they should do about it.” So good newsrooms “are marinated in ethical conversations…What should this lead say? What I should I tell that source?” We practice this craft inside “concentric rings of duty and obligations: Obligations to sources, our colleagues, our bosses, our readers, our profession, and our community”—and we function under a system of values “in which we try to understand and reconcile strong competing claims.” Our obligation is to sift patiently and fairly through untidy realities, measure the claims of affected people, and present honestly the best available approximation of the truth—and this, says Ed Wasserman, is an ethical practice.
The speech is an excellent review of the challenges an honest journalist is bound to face,- government secrecy, ideological rejection, pressure and intimidation by corporate powers. He makes a specific point of saying that this US Administration is, in his opinion, most committed to secrecy of all the ones he has worked with.

This is an excellent speech, a must-read.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Sacred Truth You Dare Not Challenge

The official version of the events of 9/11 appears to have become somewhat of a sacred cow challenging which is viewed by many as a form of blasphemy. It appears that now 9/11 skeptics can reasonably expect all sorts of problems - including the loss of employment.

That was what happened to Kevin R. Ryan, a former laboratory director of a division of Underwriters Laboratories (UL). According to this report,
SOUTH BEND, Ind.—A former laboratory director of a division of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) in South Bend generated considerable heat in professional circles on Nov. 11 when he fired off a letter via email to a prominent metallurgist, questioning the theory that jet fuel fires set by the 9-11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center were hot enough to soften or melt structural steel.

Sending that email led to Kevin R. Ryan being fired from his job as site manager at the UL-affiliated Environmental Health Laboratories Inc., in South Bend.

This report contains the full text of Ryan's e-mail. In it, Ryan says,
There continues to be a number of "experts" making public claims about how the WTC buildings fell. One such person, Dr. Hyman Brown from the WTC construction crew, claims that the buildings collapsed due to fires at 2000F melting the steel (1). He states "What caused the building to collapse is the airplane fuel . . . burning at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The steel in that five-floor area melts." Additionally, the newspaper that quotes him says "Just-released preliminary findings from a National Institute of Standards and Technology study of the World Trade Center collapse support Brown's theory."

We know that the steel components were certified to ASTM E119. The time temperature curves for this standard require the samples to be exposed to temperatures around 2000F for several hours. And as we all agree, the steel applied met those specifications. Additionally, I think we can all agree that even un-fireproofed steel will not melt until reaching red-hot temperatures of nearly 3000F (2). Why Dr. Brown would imply that 2000F would melt the high-grade steel used in those buildings makes no sense at all.

The results of your recently published metallurgical tests seem to clear things up (3), and support your team's August 2003 update as detailed by the Associated Press (4), in which you were ready to "rule out weak steel as a contributing factor in the collapse". The evaluation of paint deformation and spheroidization seem very straightforward, and you noted that the samples available were adequate for the investigation. Your comments suggest that the steel was probably exposed to temperatures of only about 500F (250C), which is what one might expect from a thermodynamic analysis of the situation.

However the summary of the new NIST report seems to ignore your findings, as it suggests that these low temperatures caused exposed bits of the building's steel core to "soften and buckle"(5). Additionally this summary states that the perimeter columns softened, yet your findings make clear that "most perimeter panels (157 of 160) saw no temperature above 250C". To soften steel for the purposes of forging, normally temperatures need to be above 1100C (6). However, this new summary report suggests that much lower temperatures were be able to not only soften the steel in a matter of minutes, but lead to rapid structural collapse.

This story just does not add up. If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I'm sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone the briefly burning fires in those towers. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans. Alternatively, the contention that this steel did fail at temperatures around 250C suggests that the majority of deaths on 9/11 were due to a safety-related failure. That suggestion should be of great concern to my company.

There is no question that the events of 9/11 are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror. And the issue of the WTC collapse is at the crux of the story of 9/11. My feeling is that your metallurgical tests are at the crux of the crux of the crux. Either you can make sense of what really happened to those buildings, and communicate this quickly, or we all face the same destruction and despair that come from global decisions based on disinformation and "chatter".
This is poignant. Coupled with the fact that according to fire-fighting experts the WTC fire scene was never properly investigated it becomes even more poignant.

It is probably proper for me to introduce a little disclosure at this point. I am one of those 9/11 skeptics. While I do not offer my own theory of what happened on that tragic day, I do not believe the official version of the events offered by the US government. And from what Kevin Ryan has to say it follows that events are quite unlikely to have unfolded the way our government would want us to believe they did.

We have a right to know the truth and settle for nothing less. And given the tremendous importance of those events I believe we have all the more reason to search for that truth. And the very fact of Mr Ryan's firing is all the more reason to believe that he may have been quite right in his assertions thus giving all the more ammunition to the 9/11 skeptics.

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