Friday, February 29, 2008

Redacted FBI Timeline Contradicts Official 9/11 Fiction

Larisa Alexandrovna has put together a great introduction and companion to a February 14th news summary from Paul Thompson of History Commons (formerly and/or aka Cooperative Research).

Larisa's piece, "FBI documents contradict 9/11 Commission report", has brought the FBI document (and Paul's analysis of it) to my attention, and stirred up quite a bit of interest among other bloggers (hooray!), You should read the whole thing. Here's a teaser:
Newly-released records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request contradict the 9/11 Commission’s report on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and raise fresh questions about the role of Saudi government officials in connection to the hijackers.
They raise fresh questions about the role of American government officials, too; and about the so-called "hijackers".
The nearly 300 pages of a Federal Bureau of Investigation timeline used by the 9/11 Commission as the basis for many of its findings were acquired through a FOIA request filed by Kevin Fenton, a 26 year old translator from the Czech Republic. The FBI released the 298-page “hijacker timeline” Feb. 4.

The FBI timeline reveals that alleged hijacker Hamza Al-Ghamdi, who was aboard the United Airlines flight which crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, had booked a future flight to San Francisco. He also had a ticket for a trip from Casablanca to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
Suicide bombers with plans for after the attack? How fascinating!!

The timeline is heavily redacted (you can see a page that's been completely obliterated at the top of this post), but there are sill are all sorts of other contradictions, as well as plenty of other evidence of official obfuscation.

As Larisa says,
READ THE DOCUMENTS: PDF pages 1-105, PDF pages 106-210, PDF pages 211-297.
If you're not up to the task of reading 300 pages and figuring out what's new in them, read the rest of Larisa's piece and then read Paul Thompson's: "2/14/2008: Newly Released FBI Timeline Reveals New Information about 9/11 Hijackers that Was Ignored by 9/11 Commission".

Thompson's sub-head reads:
Latest Findings Raise New Questions about Hijackers and Suggest Incomplete Investigation
That's putting it mildly. Just a few excerpts:
New evidence suggests that some of the hijackers were assisted by employees of the Saudi government. It has previously been reported that Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi who was paid by the Saudi government despite not doing any work, assisted hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi when they first moved to the US. The FBI timeline shows that when these two hijackers moved into their first San Diego apartment, they indicated that they had been living with Bayoumi in the apartment next door for the previous two weeks. In fact, they had been with him in that apartment since January 15, 2000, the very day they first flew into the US, arriving in Los Angeles. The timeline also reveals that hijacker Hani Hanjour was seen in Bayoumi’s apartment.
Here's more on Bayoumi, from the second page of Larisa's piece:
Much has been reported about Omar al-Bayoumi and his alleged relationship with the government of Saudi Arabia. In his recent book, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, New York Times reporter Phillip Shenon discusses at length the questions surrounding Bayoumi and his ties to the Saudi government.

“Bayoumi seemed clearly to be working for some part of the Saudi government,” Shenon wrote on page 52. “He entered the United States as a business student and had lived San Diego since 1996. He was on the payroll of an aviation contractor to the Saudi government, paid about $2,800 a month, but apparently did no work for the company.”

In fact, Bayoumi was an employee of the Saudi defense contractor Dallah Avco. According to a 2002 Newsweek article about Bayoumi, Dallah Avco is “an aviation-services company with extensive contracts with the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation, headed by Prince Sultan, the father of the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar.”

Newsweek points to another connection between Bayoumi and Bandar: “About two months after al-Bayoumi began aiding Alhazmi and Almihdhar, NEWSWEEK has learned, al-Bayoumi's wife began receiving regular stipends, often monthly and usually around $2,000, totaling tens of thousands of dollars. The money came in the form of cashier's checks, purchased from Washington's Riggs Bank by Princess Haifa bint Faisal, the daughter of the late King Faisal and wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi envoy who is a prominent Washington figure and personal friend of the Bush family. The checks were sent to a woman named Majeda Ibrahin Dweikat, who in turn signed over many of them to al-Bayoumi's wife (and her friend), Manal Ahmed Bagader. The Feds want to know: Was this well-meaning charity gone awry? Or some elaborate money-laundering scheme? A scam? Or just a coincidence?”
And here's Paul Thompson again:
Some credit cards used by the hijackers were still used in the US after 9/11. For instance, a credit card jointly owned by Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi was used twice on September 15. This helps confirm news reports from late 2001 that hijacker credit cards were used on the East Coast as late as early October 2001. At the time, a government official said that while some of the cards might have been stolen, “We believe there are additional people out there” who helped the hijackers.

When Ahmed Alghamdi arrived in the US from London on May 5, 2001, an immigration inspector apparently noted that Alghamdi commented to him that the media was distorting the facts about Osama bin Laden and that bin Laden was a good Muslim. Alghamdi also indicated that he was travelling with more than $10,000 worth of currency. Shortly after 9/11, the New York Times, Washington Post, and other newspapers reported that by the spring of 2001, US customs was investigating Alghamdi and two other future 9/11 hijackers for their connections to known al-Qaeda operatives. One British newspaper even noted that Alghamdi should have been “instantly ‘red-flagged’ by British intelligence” as he passed through London on his way to the US because of a warning about his links to al-Qaeda. It has not been explained how Alghamdi was able to pass through British and US customs, even as he was openly praising bin Laden.

When hijacker Satam Al Suqami’s passport was recovered on 9/11 on the street near the World Trade Center, it was “soaked in jet fuel.”

It has previously been reported that shortly before 9/11, hijackers Nawaf Alhamzi and Khalid Almihdhar left a bag at a mosque in Laurel, Maryland, with a note attached to it saying, “Gift for the brothers.” The FBI’s timeline identifies this mosque as the Ayah Islamic Center. But the only contents mentioned in the bag were pilot log books, receipts, and other evidence documenting the brief flight training that Alhazmi and Almihdhar underwent in San Diego in early 2000. It is unclear why they would have kept the receipts, some mentioning their names, for over a year and then left them at a mosque to be found. After 9/11, a former high-level intelligence official told journalist Seymour Hersh that “Whatever trail was left [by the hijackers] was left deliberately—for the FBI to chase.”

On March 20, 2000, either Khalid Almihdhar or Nawaf Alhazmi used a phone registered to Alhazmi to make a call from San Diego to an al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen, run by Almihdhar’s father-in-law. The call lasted 16 minutes. According to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, the call was intercepted by the NSA, which had been intercepting Alhazmi and Almihdhar’s calls for over a year, but the FBI was not informed of the hijackers’ presence in the US. The call is only briefly mentioned as a family phone call by the 9/11 Commission in a endnote, and it is not mentioned that the call was monitored.

The FBI timeline shows other intriguing hints that the hijackers had associates in the US. For instance, on September 8, 2001, hijackers Majed Moqed and Hani Hanjour went to a bank with an unnamed Middle Eastern male. This man presented a Pennsylvania driver’s license for identification, but none of the 9/11 hijackers have been reported to have a driver’s license from that state. There is also a highly redacted section hinting that a woman in Laurel, Maryland, was helping Middle Eastern men and may have had links to hijackers Mohamed Atta and Ziad Jarrah.

Several months ago, the London Times reported on an al-Qaeda leader imprisoned in Turkey named Luai Sakra. Sakra claims to have trained six of the hijackers in Turkey, including Satam Al Suqami. The FBI’s timeline supports his account, because Al Suqami’s passport record indicates he spent much of his time between late September 2000 and early April 2001 in Turkey. Furthermore, Sakra claimed that Al Suqami was one of the hijacker leaders, and not just another “muscle” hijacker as US investigators have alleged. The FBI’s timeline supports this, because it shows that Al Suqami was frequently on the move from 1998 onwards, flying to Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Malaysia, as well as Turkey, and he travelled to most of these countries more than once. This is particularly important because contributors to the History Commons have put together evidence suggesting that Sakra was a CIA asset before 9/11, which would suggest that Al Suqami and other hijackers were actually trained by a CIA asset.
It's the biggest scam ever. There's more and more and more. Thompson concludes this way:
Unfortunately, much of the FBI timeline is heavily censored, with entire pages sometimes being completely redacted. But from what we do know, this timeline indicates that many questions remain about the hijackers and the 9/11 attacks. We know that the FBI’s timeline was available to the 9/11 Commission, so why did the commission fail to mention any of the information listed above?

It’s interesting to compare the results of the 9/11 Commission with the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that proceeded it. For instance, while the 9/11 Commission downplayed any possible ties between the hijackers and the Saudi government, the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry wrote an entire chapter on the topic. Unfortunately, all 28 pages of that chapter were censored. But Sen. Bob Graham, co-chair of the inquiry, later claimed that evidence relating to the two hijackers who lived in San Diego “presented a compelling case that there was Saudi assistance” to the 9/11 plot. He alleged that Omar al-Bayoumi in fact was a Saudi intelligence agent. He also concluded that President Bush directed the FBI “to restrain and obfuscate” investigations into these ties.

Now, we’re finally beginning to see some of what was in those missing 28 pages. One anonymous official who has seen the pages claims: “We’re not talking about rogue elements. We’re talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government.”

The 9/11 Commission also downplayed the idea that the hijackers had any assistance in the US. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, by contrast, noted that many people who interacted with the hijackers in the US, including Omar al-Bayoumi, were under FBI investigation even before 9/11.

Unfortunately, neither the 9/11 Commission nor the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry was a complete and unbiased investigation. If this timeline reflects just some of what only the FBI knew about the hijackers one month after the attacks, one can only guess at how much more all the US agencies combined know about the hijackers now. Why is that information being kept secret?
Well ... I have a pretty good idea why all that information is being kept secret, and I could tell Paul and Larisa all about it, but they wouldn't believe me. They're not into wacky conspiracy theories. But they don't need to be. Who needs wacky conspiracy theories?

Bandar's wife sends al-Bayoumi's wife money every month through a cutout. al-Bayoumi is a Saudi intelligence agent, who has been helping the "hijackers" since the moment they arrived. Bandar is a "close personal friend" of the "president", who directed the FBI "to restrain and obfuscate" the investigations. And now most of the details are still redacted.

So ... what do you think? Was it all a mistake? Was is just a coincidence? Was it mere incompetence?

I mean, did those checks from Bandar's wife end up in the hands of al-Bayoumi's wife by accident?

Sure, they did!

Peter Gabriel Sings 'Biko'

Here's a new idea, my first one in a long time.

Rather than a cartoon for an open thread, how about a music video?

This is Peter Gabriel singing "Biko", recorded live, many years ago.



Here's a link to the video at YouTube.

The lyrics follow, this an open thread, and I'll be back.
September '77, Port Elizabeth, weather fine
It was business as usual in police room 619
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja, the man is dead

When I try and sleep at night I can only dream in red
The outside world is black and white With only one color dead
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja, the man is dead

You can blow out a candle but you can't blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch the wind will blow it higher
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja, the man is dead

And the eyes of the world are watching now
watching now

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In Canada, A Parliamentary Jihad Against Corruption

The bogus rhetoric of the bogus War on bogus Terror has reached stunning new lows in Canada, where an investigation by a parliamentary ethics committee looking into corruption allegations against former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has been described as a "jihad".

CBC reports:
Mulroney spent four hours before the committee on Dec. 13 and admitted to taking $225,000 in cash from [German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz] Schreiber after his time in office for lobbying efforts abroad in the late 1990s.

The former prime minister has apologized for that lapse of judgment [sic], said Mulroney's spokesman, Robin] Sears, but adds that the business arrangement wasn't illegal or unethical.

Schreiber, however, maintains that he paid Mulroney $300,000 to lobby the Canadian government for a light-armoured vehicle plant known as the Bear Head project. He also says that the two reached their working arrangement on June 23, 1993, two days before Mulroney stepped down as prime minister.
The line in question came about because Mulroney -- who apparently lied to the committee in December -- has refused to appear for a second round of questioning. It's more dangerous now that the committee has heard other witnesses and his deception has been exposed. So instead of allowing the long-overdue pursuit of justice to proceed, Mulroney has set his spokesman on the attack, like so:
"This has been like a 15-year jihad against Mulroney and his family by his enemies — led by Mr. Schreiber and enabled by some in the media," Sears told CBC News earlier in the day.
So there you have it; it's a holy war, waged by international enemies.
Committee vice-chair, NDP MP Pat Martin, was swift to condemn the spokesman's choice of words, saying the comment was "shameful," "goofy" and trivializes the "international crisis of jihad."
Au contraire, Mr. Martin. It trivializes the international crisis of political corruption. And if this is what the global jihadis are out to expose, then they just got my vote!

Buckley's Legacy: We're Soaking In It

Years ago I taught math in a small college. I could tell you lots of stories about that. But today: just one.

There was a time when I used to meet some of my math students every week in the library, to help them with their physics. I helped them because I liked them, but I really didn't understand why they needed the help. These were my brightest students, the material wasn't very difficult, and their physics teacher had been the college's "Teacher of the Year" twice in the previous three years. But none of them knew what they were doing. Very strange.

One day I couldn't stand the mystery anymore and I asked, "What can you tell me about your physics teacher?"

"He's very brilliant," one of them said, and all the others nodded.

"How do you know he's brilliant?" I asked, and the answer came back right away:

"Because nobody understands anything he says."

I didn't ask them any more questions. I was thinking, "If he's really a brilliant teacher, why can't he explain these simple concepts in terms everybody can understand?" But I knew that was a wrong question -- nobody could have answered it.

Human nature: if somebody says something incomprehensible, if he's confident and glib, and especially if he's being paid to say it, most of us won't question him. We just assume he must be brilliant and we must be stupid; otherwise surely we would understand him. And quite often -- unless somebody comes along to intervene -- the charlatan is regarded as a prophet, and the nonsense he's spewing becomes accepted as revealed wisdom.

So it's almost but not quite astonishing to see the allegedly liberal media and some very supposedly dissident journalists fawning over the rotting corpse of William F. Buckley Jr.

How quickly they have forgotten ... or never noticed ... or never dared to mention ... the essential fact of his career (not to mention his life): Buckley was an astonishingly gifted man who devoted his considerable intellect to the toughest challenge known to literate man.

"He made conservatism respectable", the obituaries say. Think of what that means.

The "conservatism" in question is a transparent fiction: at its core is an essential denial of humanity. The motto of this "respectable" conservatism was made famous in a song:
I'm all right, Jack, keep your hands off my stack!
In more concrete terms, Buckley's "respectable conservatism" strives to give more wealth to the wealthy, and more power to the powerful, and a big fat middle finger to everybody else.

This agenda is obviously and completely at odds with the desires and needs of at least 99% of the population, so back when America was a democracy, there was no tougher job than making this agenda of greed seem like a "respectable" political "philosophy".

And William F. Buckley was better at that job than anyone.

He used his enormous vocabulary to intimidate people, and to hide more truth than he revealed. He sold his readers and listeners a pack of lies, most of which they didn't even understand. And he made them think he was brilliant.

In a sense, he was. He helped convince a generation or three of American "intellectuals" that policies leading to the death and destruction of millions of people were somehow humane and righteous.

These very useful idiots in turn helped to brainwash Americans by the tens of millions. Everywhere in America -- not only in so-called "red states" -- you can find otherwise intelligent people who regularly vote for the politicians most inimical to their interests, and the interests of their children.

This is the brilliant legacy of William F. Buckley.

He baffled our fathers with bullshit, and now look -- we're soaking in it!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Straight To Hell: William F. Buckley Is Dead

The evil sons of bitches have lost one of their leaders. William F. Buckley is dead at 82.

As the New York Times eulogizes:
Mr. Buckley’s greatest achievement was making conservatism — not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas — respectable in liberal post-World War II America. He mobilized the young enthusiasts who helped nominate Barry Goldwater in 1964, and saw his dreams fulfilled when Reagan and the Bushes captured the Oval Office.
If nothing else, Bill Buckley's death gives us one more reason to live a righteous life.

Because now, if you go to hell, you'll have to listen to this pompous asshole for all eternity.

Tom Toles: Debt Addiction

Monday, February 25, 2008

Trial Set To Begin For 'Father Of The Holy War'

In New Haven, Connecticut, the long-awaited trial of a former US Navy signalman Hassan Abu-Jihaad is about to begin.

Abu-Jihaad [photo], formerly known as Paul R. Hall, is accused of providing material support to terrorists while serving aboard the USS Benfold.

The defense describes the government's case as weak -- and that's a charitable description indeed. The case rests on supposedly classified information allegedly found on a computer (or a disk) belonging to Babar Ahmad, who is currently detained in the UK, accused of assisting terrorists and awaiting a decision about possible extradition to the US.

Federal prosecutors admit there is "no forensic footprint" tying the defendant -- whose chosen name means "Father Of The Holy War" -- to the supposedly classified information found on Babar Ahmad's computer. But that doesn't matter, because this is the war on terror. And normal rules don't apply. Our "security" agencies must get their man -- guilty or no, evidence or no.

This is how they do it:

[1] Entrap a potential informer:

Burned! Meet William Chrisman, FBI Entrapment Specialist

Chrisman [photo] is also known as "Jameel Chrisman" or "Jamaal Chrisman". And he's bad news.

[2] Get legal permission to use irrelevant evidence, illegally obtained:

Government Tries To Introduce New Evidence Against 'Father Of The Holy War'

[3] Convince a judge it would be all right to convict this defendant without any actual evidence, because he's so sneaky, and so scary-looking.

Convictions Without Evidence: Federal Prosecutors Try To Establish Dangerous Precedent In Weak Anti-Terror Case

[4] It's all part of a plan to market terror and counter-terror at all levels of our rapidly militarizing society.

Bogus Terror: Feds Wage War Against The Rule Of Law

[5] And -- of course -- the plan is approved at the highest levels:

False Witness: Director Of National Intelligence Lies To Senate Committee

~~~

eighth in a series

Tom Toles: Just Married

Sunday, February 24, 2008

60 Minutes Coverage Of Don Siegelman Story Blacked Out In Alabama

Larisa Alexandrovna is sizzling at Huffington Post, and rightfully so, in my view. She's been reporting about the political persecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman [photo], who is currently serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison, for nothing more -- apparently -- than having been a successful Democratic politician in a "Republican state".

As I mentioned in an earlier post, CBS aired a segment on this story on 60 Minutes earlier this evening. Well, guess what?

Larisa:
As 60 Minutes was putting its show together, the White House put pressure on CBS -- the parent company -- to kill the show. Over the last few days, as word got out that the 60 Minutes show would air tonight, Karl Rove's associates began planting defamatory stories about journalists working on this story (see example here) and attacking the whistle-blower who came forward, Dana Jill Simpson. If you recall, Ms. Simpson testified, under oath, to Congress about Karl Rove's involvement in politicizing the DOJ. What you may not know, however, is that her house mysteriously caught fire and she was run off the road in the weeks leading up to her testimony.

What you may also not know is that Governor Siegelman's house was broken into twice during his trial as was his attorney's office.

Yesterday, the attacks on Simpson and journalists increased with a series of emails from the Alabama GOP. See Here.

Tonight was something truly unseen in US history. During the 60 Minutes broadcast and ONLY during the Don Siegelman portion -- the screen went black for Huntsville residents and Mobile residents. There are other reports of other locations, but I have not yet confirmed those. In Florida, a series of strange ads were running about the FISA bill and how Democrats are not tough on terrorism, apparently during the 60 Minutes hour and also right before 60 Minutes, but not after (still trying to confirm when the ads stopped running).

In other words, in the United States of America, a man is imprisoned for being a Democrat. When reporters attempt to get this story out, they are threatened and smeared. When all else fails, the public is not allowed to see the news. This is not acceptable and I -- as a US citizen -- demand that Congress investigate this series of blackouts immediately. Any company involved in this must have their FCC license pulled too. Karl Rove may be gone from office, but he clearly is not gone from power. So long as his buddy, George W. Bush, continues to occupy the White House -- what used to be a symbol of how a nation could both be governed and be free -- we will continue toward abuse after imperial, no Soviet, abuse against us. That too is unacceptable.
Agreed. If we will sit still for this we will sit still for anything.

Patriots? Anyone? Have we become too numb to care?

Please read more of the background from Larisa Alexandrovna at Raw Story The Permanent Republican Majority Part I | Part II | Part III

Excellent coverage from Scott Horton at Harper's
More excellent coverage at Larisa's blog, At-Largely
This evening's 60 Minutes broadcast
Larisa's piece at HuffPo: Parts of 60 Minutes Broadcast Blocked in Alabama...

And finally [!?], an update at Larisa's blog says CBS is blaming a technical problem in New York.

Yeah, sure!

Surprise! Ralph Nader Is Running For President!

In a move that's bound to surprise somebody, somewhere, Ralph Nader has announced his candidacy for the presidency, as an independent.

All the mainstream media will be full of the standard swill -- and in fact it already is! -- a reminder of how Nader supposedly cost Al Gore the 2000 election, and a flurry of quotes from "the candidates" about how this affects the race from their point of view.

I think this is all bogus and without substance, transparently intended to discredit Nader in the same way as they -- "the candidates" and the media -- would try to discredit any alternative, credible or not.

Clearly, above all else, they wish to avoid talking about the issues.

So I went to Ralph Nader's site, clicked through to the main page and found a link to a page marked "Issues". There Nader lists "Twelve Issues That Matter For 2008", and as he explains, the list is a work in progress. Here's what he has so far:
  • Adopt single payer national health insurance
  • Cut the huge, bloated, wasteful military budget
  • No to nuclear power, solar energy first
  • Aggressive crackdown on corporate crime and corporate welfare
  • Open up the Presidential debates
  • Adopt a carbon pollution tax
  • Reverse U.S. policy in the Middle East
  • Impeach Bush/Cheney
  • Repeal the Taft-Hartley anti-union law
  • Adopt a Wall Street securities speculation tax
  • Put an end to ballot obstructionism
  • Work to end corporate personhood
And here's the offer he's making:
Remember, these twelve issues represent the tip of the political iceberg. But they are indicative of the corporate domination of the Democratic and Republican parties. There are many more where these came from. We’ll be adding them as we go along. Write to us with your suggestions.
So now I'm going to write to him and say:
Dear Ralph:

Investigate 9/11
Stop the "war on terror"
Eliminate electronic voting
Break up the media monopoly
End tax breaks for the wealthy
Restore habeas corpus
Investigate 9/11
Stop all the torture everywhere
Restore fairness in media
Eliminate electronic voting
Repeal the PATRIOT ACTs
Repeal the Military Commissions Act
Investigate 9/11
Stop fomenting terrorism
Shut down the death squads
Tear down the concentration camps
Quit invading foreign countries
Eliminate electronic voting
Investigate 9/11
Execute the war criminals
I invite you to do the same, or something similar. And if you wish to share your "Letter to Ralph" in the comments thread, by all means please do so.

Could Be A First: Criminal Autocracy Exposed By Major Media

There's a criminal autocracy running the country and its iron grip is suffocating its opponents.

Not news? Well, not really. But guess what? The New York Times is reporting on it -- in no uncertain terms.
... as was made plain in dozens of interviews with political leaders, officials and residents [...] over several weeks, a new autocracy now governs [the country]. Behind a facade of democracy lies a centralized authority that has deployed a nationwide cadre of loyalists that is not reluctant to swat down those who challenge the ruling party. Fearing such retribution, many of the people interviewed for this article asked not to be identified.
It's too bad they're talking about Russia.

And it's a good thing something like that couldn't happen here ... unless it could!

CBS is still threatening to run its 60 Minutes story on the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, who is currently serving a prison sentence, apparently for being a successful Democratic politician in a state crawling with sleazy Republicans.

Paranoid lunatic conspiracy theorists may see the prosecution of Siegelman as a test-drive for a state-by-state Republican takeover. Who am I to shatter their paranoid lunatic theories?

If you visit Larisa Alexandrovna's blog, "At-Largely", you can see the teaser CBS has released. Here's part one, and here's part two.

I would write more but I have to run. I suggest you check Larisa's coverage for more details. I will update this post when I can ...

UPDATE: CBS ran the story! How about that??

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"We Can't Have Acquittals": 9/11 Trials Set To Produce Only Convictions

Democracy Now! says "EXCLUSIVE: Rigged Trials At Guantanamo":
The 9/11 trials for the six Guantanamo prisoners charged by the Pentagon last week with conspiracy to commit war crimes might have been rigged from the start to rule out the possibility of any acquittals. This according to the latest statements to the Nation magazine from Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for Guantanamo"s military commissions.

Col. Davis recounted a 2005 meeting with the Bush administration-appointed Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes, who now oversees the prosecutions and the defense for the tribunal process. Haynes said “We can't have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals, we’ve got to have convictions.”

Col. Davis resigned from the military commissions in October 2007 saying the system had become “politicized” and he could no longer be effective. His latest statements to the Nation magazine offer the most pointed evidence of the military commission's bias and undermine the Bush administration's claims of ensuring fair trials for the accused.
There's more at the link.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Crushing Defeat For Musharraf: "The Myth Is Broken"; "Q Is Finished"; "They Couldn’t Have Rigged It Even If They Tried"

UPDATE: PML-Q concedes defeat
ISLAMABAD, Feb 19 (AFP) Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) conceded defeat Tuesday after elections. “We accept the verdict of the nation,” Tariq Azeem, PML-Q spokesman, told AFP. (Posted @ 14:20 PST)
Original post follows:

~~~

Early and unofficial results from the Pakistani parliamentary elections show a landslide for the opposition parties and a crushing defeat for pro-American terrorist general Pervez Musharraf and his party, the PML-Q. The Islamic extremists also appear to have lost ground.
Supporters of the party of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif celebrate the unofficial results of Pakistan's general elections in the street of Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Carlotta Gall and Jane Perlez in The New York Times:

Pakistanis Deal Severe Defeat to Musharraf in Election
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan : Pakistanis dealt a crushing defeat to President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections Monday, in what government and opposition politicians said was a firm rejection of his policies since 2001 and those of his close ally, the United States.

Almost all the leading figures in the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, the party that has governed for the last five years under Mr. Musharraf, lost their seats, including the leader of the party, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussein, the former speaker of parliament, Chaudhry Amir Hussein, and six ministers.

Though official results would not be announced until Tuesday, early returns indicated that the vote would usher in a prime minister from one of the opposition parties, and opened the prospect of a parliament that would move to undo many of Mr. Musharraf’s policies and that may even try to remove him.
Sharif supporters celebrate in Taxilas. In early, unofficial results, Pakistanis dealt a crushing defeat to President Pervez Musharraf, in what government and opposition politicians said was a firm rejection of his policies since 2001 and those of his close ally, the United States.
The early edge went to the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, which seemed to benefit from a strong wave of sympathy in reaction to the assassination of its leader, Benazir Bhutto, eight weeks ago, and may be in a position to form the next government.

The results were interpreted here as a repudiation of Mr. Musharraf as well as the Bush administration, which has staunchly backed Mr. Musharraf for eight years as its best bet in the campaign against the Islamic militants in Pakistan. American officials will have little choice now but to seek alternative allies from among the new political forces emerging from the vote.

Politicians and party workers from Mr. Musharraf’s party said the vote was a protest against government policies and the rise in terrorism here, in particular against Mr. Musharraf’s heavy handed way of dealing with militancy and his use of the army against tribesmen in the border areas and against militants in a siege at the Red Mosque here in the capital last summer that left more than 100 dead.

Others said Mr. Musharraf’s dismissal last year of the Supreme Court chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who remains under house arrest, was deeply unpopular with the voters.
...

By association, his party suffered badly. The two main opposition parties — the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — surged into the gap.
Supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore. In Lahore, the political capital of Punjab province, lines were thin, and many voters complained they could not find their names on the voting lists.
By early Monday night, crowds of Sharif supporters had already begun celebrating as they paraded through the streets of Rawalpindi, the garrison town just outside the capital, Islamabad. Riding on motorbikes and clinging onto the back of minivans, they played music and waved green flags of Mr. Sharif’s party decorated with the party symbol, a tiger.

“The tiger has come!” shouted one man on a motorbike making a victory sign. “Long live Nawaz!”

From unofficial results the private news channel, Aaj Television, forecast that the Pakistan Peoples Party would win 110 seats in the 272-seat national assembly, with Mr. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N taking 100 seats.

Mr. Musharraf’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, was crushed, holding on to just 20 to 30 seats. Early results released by the state news agency, the Associated Press of Pakistan, also showed the Pakistan Peoples Party to be leading in the number of seats in the national assembly.

The Election Commission of Pakistan declared the elections free and fair and said the polling passed relatively peacefully, despite some irregularities and scattered violence. Ten people were killed and 70 injured in violence around the country, including one candidate who was shot in Lahore on the night before the vote, Pakistani news channels reported.
A voter is marked with ink after casting a ballot in Lahore. Fears of election fraud were stoked by the complaints, mostly from opposition parties, of bribery and the use of state resources for campaigns. Reports also included the production of thousands of counterfeit identity cards and of millions of names missing from voter rolls.
Fearful of violence and deterred by confusion at polling stations, voters did not turn out in large numbers. Yet fears from opposition parties that the government would attempt to rig the elections did not materialize, as the early losses showed.

Official results were not expected until Tuesday morning, but all the parties were already coming to terms with the anti-Musharraf trend in the voting.

Nosheen Saeed, information secretary of the women’s wing of Mr. Musharraf’s party, conceded the early losses. “Some big guns are going to lose,” she said.

At the headquarters of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the minister of railways and a close friend of the president, his supporters sat gloomily in chairs under an awning, listening to the cheers of their opponents. “Q is finished,” said Tahir Khan, 21, one of the party workers, referring to the pro-Musharraf party.

The party workers said Mr. Ahmed, who was among the ministers who lost their seats, was popular but had suffered from the overwhelming protest vote against Mr. Musharraf and his governing faction.
...

With Mr. Musharraf as both president and head of the Pakistani military — a post he relinquished last November — the administration poured about $1 billion a year in military assistance into Pakistan after 9/11.

After Mr. Musharraf stepped down from the army, the Bush administration still gave him unequivocal support. Last month, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Richard Boucher, told Congress he considered the Pakistani leader as indispensable to American interests.

Such fidelity to Mr. Musharraf often raised the hackles of Pakistanis, and the newspapers here were filled with editorials that expressed despair about Washington’s close relationship with the unpopular leader.

Many educated Pakistanis said they were irritated that the Bush administration chose to ignore Mr. Musharraf’s dismissal in November of the Supreme Court chief justice.

The big swing against the Pakistan Muslim League-Q party that supported Mr. Musharraf appeared to bear out the position of the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Sen. Joseph Biden, Jr, who has been a critic of the administration’s Pakistan policy.

On his arrival Sunday to observe the elections, Mr. Biden said: “I don’t buy into the argument that Musharraf is the only one. We have to have more than just a Musharraf policy.”

As a starting point for a new policy, Mr. Biden said that the United States needed to show Pakistanis that Washington was interested in more than the campaign on terror. “We have to give the vast majority of Pakistani people some reason to believe we are allies,” Mr. Biden said. To that end, he would propose that economic development aid be tripled to $1.5 billion annually.

But Washington could take some comfort in the losses of the Islamic religious parties in the North West Frontier Province that abut the tribal areas where the Taliban and Al Qaeda have carved out bases.
This is the standard liberal media lie, one of several places where it rears its head as "context" in this otherwise fine report. (Most of the others have been snipped.)

Washington needs the terrorists. Bush needs strong Islamic and Islamist parties which he can call "IslamoFascists"; the term itself is another Orwellian aspect to this war of spin and terror.

"The IslamoFascists want to create a global caliphate", says the twice unelected president, and all the bobbleheads nod along in unison.

But Islam and Fascism are utterly incompatible, so there cannot be any real IslamoFascists, although there are some seriously corrupt "Islamic" business-government combinations. Two of America's "firmest" Asian allies in the supposed Global War on Terror are Saudi Arabia, where the royal family does most of the business, makes most of the money, and runs one of the most repressive governments on the planet; and Pakistan, where the military is entwined in the "civilian" economy to an extent companies like SAIC, Halliburton and Blackwater can only dream of (at this point). The army produces and sells all manner of everyday "civilian" consumer items, from breakfast cereal on through the day.

These are the IslamoFascists, if such there are on Earth. Pseudo-Islamic fascists, to be accurate, and allies of our government.

On the other hand there's no doubt that pseudo-Christian fascists (so-called "Christo-Fascists") do exist in large numbers and have drafted plans -- published and publicly available for many years now -- according to which they will take over the American government (by stealth) and then the world (in the usual American way.)

In order for these imperialist dreamers to implement their evil schemes, the radical Islamic parties have to gain support, and perhaps the best news from this election -- news which probably won't make much of a dent in the mainstream account -- is confirmation that the radicals in Pakistan have virtually no support from the electorate.

The New York Times won't report certain aspects of the story, for fear of being called treasonous or for fear of lost advertising revenue, or simply because telling the truth about the GWOT is as unpalatable as telling any of the other ugliest truths about America, and the New York Times is not in the business of telling any of those stories.

But you've read it here: the administration is very unhappy with the collapses of both the PML-Q and the lunatic fringe.
The greatest blow [against] Mr. Musharraf came in the strong wave of support in Punjab province, the country’s most populous, for Mr. Sharif, who has been a bitter rival since his government was overthrown by Mr. Musharraf in a military coup in 1999 and he was arrested and sent into exile.

He returned in November last year and although banned from running for parliament himself, has campaigned for his party on an openly anti-Musharraf agenda, calling for the president’s resignation and for the reinstatement of the Chief Justice Chaudhry and other Supreme Court judges.
It's interesting how the NYT portrays Nawaz Sharif's reappearance at the center of Pakistani politics as a simple "return" in November. That was his second "return", actually. The first time, he was arrested and deported before he even got out of the airport! Some democracy!
Underscoring the reversal for Mr. Musharraf was the downfall of the powerful Chaudhry
family of Punjab province who had underwritten his political career by creating the political party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, for him.

“They myth is broken, it was a huge wave against Musharraf,” said Athar Minallah, a lawyer involved in the anti-Musharraf lawyers’ movement. “Right across the board his party was defeated, in the urban and rural areas. The margins are so big they couldn’t have rigged it even if they tried.”

A few hours after the size of the defeat became clear, the government eased up on the restrictions against Aitzaz Ahsan, leader of the lawyers’ movement that has opposed the president.

Mr. Ahsan, who has been under house arrest since last November when Mr. Musharraf imposed emergency rule for six weeks, found the phones in [his] house were suddenly reconnected.

“Musharraf should be preparing a C-130 for Turkey,” Mr. Ahsan said, referring to Mr. Musharraf’s statements that he might retire to Turkey where he spent his childhood.

Two politicians close to Mr. Musharraf have said in the last week that the president was well aware of the drift in the country against him and they suggested that he would not remain in office if the new government was in direct opposition to him. “He does not have the fire in the belly for another fight,” said one member of his party. He added that Mr. Musharraf was building a house for himself in Islamabad and would be ready soon to move.
Of course the official results are still to be released, and it could be that by this time tomorrow the PML-Q will have made a massive comeback. Or does that only happen in America?

It'll be pretty sad if "the greatest democracy in the history of the world" is shown up by a military dictatorship.

But it would be even sadder if that didn't happen.

~~~

(All photos for this piece are courtesy of the New York Times; please see this slideshow for more.)

Hacked And Attacked, Back Up and Backed Up; Chris Floyd Vs. The Turkish Cyberpunks, Again!

Chris Floyd's site, Empire Burlesque, is under hack attack yet again, apparently at the hands of the same Turkish hackers who have attacked EB (and Floyd's other sites, Atlantic Free Press and Pacific Free Press) many times in the past year or so.

The attacks lately have been more frequent and more nasty, and at the moment the site is down again.

There's no doubt that it will be back up, eventually, but in the meantime Chris will be posting at his original blog, Empire Burlesque Now. That's empire burlesque now dot blogspot dot com for those who prefer the URL, and I will add the link to my sidebar so we can all find it easily.

... or as Chris phrased it:
Empire Burlesque has been under relentless assault by cyber-thugs in recent weeks and has been hacked and hijacked repeatedly. We're working hard to get on top of the problem, but I will put up posts at my older site until EB is up and running again.
And then, a bit later:
Er, uh, I forgot to embed the URL for the old site in the message above. Very clever of me, eh? That way the Turks can't find my old site!
He's brilliant, I tell ya!

Tom Toles: Biofuels May Be Worse...



Q: How many barrels of oil does it take to produce one barrel of ethanol?

A: NEXT QUESTION!!

Chris Floyd: The Courtier's Choice

Chris Floyd's site has been down a lot lately, and it has taken me several tries to access his most recent post, which is fantastic. (big surprise -- NOT!)

For the benefit of any others having the same problem, here's that post (along with a few comments and photos, free gratis):

Chris Floyd: The Courtier's Choice: Arthur Schlesinger and the Willing Executioners of Democracy
The late Arthur Schlesinger [photo] was long regarded as one of the leading lights of the American Establishment: a great public intellectual, a prize-winning historian of the nation's political heritage, a much sought-after commentator on current affairs, and a liberal lion of the old school – stalwart of the New Deal, anti-communist left; keeper of the Kennedy flame, etc. In short, one of the great and good, the meritocratic elite who keep the flame burning in the "shining city on the hill" that is America.

But there is one aspect of Schlesinger's glittering resume that goes unmentioned in the encomiums that invariably attend evocations of his brilliant career: his role as a willing conspirator to destroy democracy in a small, impoverished nation.

The story is told in a chapter of Mark Curtis' remarkable book, Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses. As the title would indicate, American depredations in this regard play a secondary – if indispensable – part in the book, which is based largely on partly declassified UK government documents. And the chapter in question here describes perhaps the least destructive of the many Anglo-American interventions over the past 60 years -- interventions which, as Curtis details, have resulted in approximately 10 million deaths. What's more, Schlesinger's role in this particular destruction of a nascent democracy is very small, confined to a few bits of advice passed on to his boss in the White House, John F. Kennedy.

But even so, it is instructive to watch our great and good operate behind the scenes, and to see how they really feel about freedom, democracy and liberation for the poor and oppressed – those rhetorical tropes that have adorned our transatlantic rhetoric for so long, both in the halls of government, and in the weighty pronouncements of our great public intellectuals.

Curtis tells the tale of a ten-year effort by Britain and the United States to prevent the most popular party in what was then British Guiana (now Guyana) from taking power. It began in 1953, when the colony – which had been in Britain's control since 1814, when they seized it from the Dutch – attempted to use the limited self-government it had been "granted" by Her Majesty to place the People's Progressive Party (PPP) in office. Led by Cheddi Jagan, the party's platform was the usual mixture of land reform, social programs and nationalist feeling (which is called "patriotism" when it occurs in America and Britain, but is denigrated as a troublesome aberration when it rears its ugly head amongst the lesser breeds) that arose across the "third world" in the post-war years. These were all treated – without exception, whatever their various ideological, ethnic, or religious character – as dire threats to American and British "interests." That is, the successful implementation of these programs would have slightly reduced the profits of a few vast foreign-owned industrial and corporate combines that held whole nations in their thrall. Each of these movements were denounced as "communist" by Western leaders – even when the leaders knew, and admitted freely among themselves, that the movements and their leaders were not communists, and would not align their nations with the Soviet bloc.

But more than the bloated profit margins of favored corporations were at stake. There was also the West's overriding fear of a successful challenge to Anglo-American domination of subject nations. The fact that the overwhelming majority of these movements sought good relations with the United States and Britain, and were peaceful, law-abiding parties seeking power through the democratic process meant nothing; because they stood for the principle of national independence, non-alignment, and self-determination – i.e., because they would not automatically submit to the dictates of Washington and London – they could not be allowed to succeed. All measures were "justified" to prevent them from taking power – or to overthrow them in the event they were elected by their people. In order to subvert these popular movements, successive, bipartisan governments in the United States and Britain repeatedly armed, funded, trained and supported what they fully recognized were the worst elements in a given society: corrupt political hacks, feudal lords and rapacious corporate bosses, criminal gangs, power-mad military tyrants, religious extremists, warlords, death squads, and so on. The end result was almost always the same: moderate forces were destroyed, their remnants were radicalized, societies were violently polarized, economies were wrecked, and ordinary, innocent people suffered – and sometimes died – by the millions.
All this is correct and then some; in Guatemala, for example, the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government led directly to a clandestine civil war that went on for decades. And in some respects this result has been more typical than exceptional.

In addition to threats against their dominance (as if more incentive were needed), there's another reason why the ruling elite in the USA and the UK (in both cases capitalists who call their system "democracy") have felt it necessary to overthrow young democracies in foreign countries (and to enforce sanctions against those countries they couldn't overthrow): because an essential element of their propaganda (without which they would be instantly exposed for what they are and treated accordingly) is to portray capitalism (or, as they call it, "democracy") as the only viable economic ("political") system ever invented by man or God. And the only way they can keep that lie afloat is to make sure that no country ever manages to achieve a political system resembling real democracy, an economic system other than capitalism and prosperity, simultaneously.

You see, if anyone ever got that all happening, and the sheeple of the US and the UK found out about it, they might want it too, in which case the ruling elite might actually be in trouble.

And that's why, to the elite, apart from "patriotic feeling" at the "wrong" times, there's nothing scarier than land reform, except possibly public education and voting rights.

Here's Chris Floyd again:
And so in 1953, the British sent troops and warships to Guyana to overturn the people's election of Cheddi Jagan [photo] and the PPP. For the next few years, the colony was ruled directly from London. But in 1961, when elections were again allowed, the PPP won again. By this time, Britain had promised to "grant" Guyana its independence – but the idea that the "independent" country should be allowed to choose its own leaders was not to be borne. After all, it was clear that they would vote the "wrong way" again. What's more, the preceding decade had seen an acceleration in the withering of Britain's imperial pretensions; it was now recognized in official US and UK papers that Guyana "was in the US, not the UK, sphere of interest." Thus London was willing to defer to whatever Washington desired for the newly "independent" nation.

Curtis quotes a number of US and UK intelligence reports and diplomatic papers that make clear that leaders on both sides of the Atlantic knew that the PPP was not a communist party. They also openly acknowledged that Jagan was "the ablest leader in British Guiana," as one State Department report described him. Curtis describes the main outlines of the American view from government papers at the time:
[The U.S. thought] that Jagan was not a 'controlled instrument of Moscow' but 'a radical nationalist who may play both sides of the street but will not lead British Guiana into [Soviet] satellite status.
U.S. intelligence reports quoted by Curtis noted that Jagan would "make a more determined effort to improve economic conditions" in Guyana. The Party drew its strength not only from its main base of "poverty-stricken rural and urban workers" among the Indian community, but also from "a considerable number of small businessmen."
The scent of looming prosperity must have driven the rulers wild!
After Jagan won the 1961 pre-independence election with 45 percent of the vote – easily outpointing the main opposition party led by the Anglo-American favorite, Forbes Burnham – the Americans came up with a two-fold plan. First, Washington would make a public show of offering Jagan technical and economic assistance to prepare the country for independence. But behind the scenes, they would launch a covert operation to destroy the PPP, bring down Jagan and put a suitable leader in his place.
Again, a pattern that's been played out over and over. Nothing exceptional here, either. The only choice they ever seem to make is between open warfare and "clandestine" intervention.

Most Americans don't know much about Ho Chi Minh, except possibly that he was the leader of the North Vietnamese communists against whom we waged all-out war for more than a decade at the cost of more than 58,000 American lives.

Most Americans don't know that Ho received his first weapons (a pair of pistols) from an American intelligence agent, or that he was a friend and ally of the United States -- for a while.

American intelligence saw him as an asset, because his "nationalist feeling" and his charisma were powerful weapons in the bid to drive the Japanese from Indochina.

But Ho Chi Minh didn't know he was being used; he thought he was being befriended. He thought the United States would act according to the principles it proclaimed -- self-determination for all peoples, inalienable rights, and so on. He admired America so much that he drafted his country's Declaration of Independence using the American Declaration of Independence as a model.

He only found out too late that it was all cover; the United States has never had any intention of fomenting democracy anywhere -- at home or abroad. When Ho was no longer any use to the Americans -- when his "nationalist feeling" got in the way, the Americans did the usual things: they labeled him a Communist, fabricated a pretext, cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war -- again!

But I digress. Back to Guyana, Jagan, and Floyd:
And here the liberal lion and champion of democracy Arthur Schlesinger enters the documentary picture. Writing in his capacity as Special Assistant to the President, Schlesinger pointed out to Kennedy [photo] that the two prongs of Washington's plan were in blatant conflict: obviously, Washington could not support Jagan and overthrow him at the same time. So what did Schlesinger recommend? That Kennedy eschew the low-down and undemocratic path of covert action, and instead help the people of Guyana – and their freely elected leader – to step into independence with the full support and blessing of "the world's leading democracy?"

Of course not. Taking his courtier's pen (or typewriter) in hand, Schlesinger wrote that the conflict between the benevolent public pronouncements and the plans for dirty pool "means that the covert program must be handled with the utmost discretion."

That's it. That's Schlesinger's analysis, that's the extent of his morality, of his Pulitzer Prize-winning political convictions: "If we're going to strangle Guyana's democracy in its cradle, then for God's sake, let's do it quietly."

And that's how it was done. Again, a tried-and-true path was followed. As Curtis details, the CIA funded and organized strikes and riots to bring economic and political chaos to Guyana. These American-created upheavals were then cited by U.S. and UK officials as "proof" that Jagan was leading the country to ruin. (This technique was perfected years later in Chile, when the US spent millions of dollars to foment unrest under the Allende regime. Curtis quotes U.S. Ambassador Edward Korry's candid assessment of the strategy: "[We must] do all within our power to condemn Chile and the Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty;" i.e., to make them suffer for the crime of exercising their freedom and voting the "wrong way.")

Meanwhile, Britain engineered a "constitutional coup" in setting up the structure of the soon-to-be independent state. The Brits imposed an electoral system on Guyana which their own major parties had always rejected (and still do): proportional representation. They recognized that in any winner-take-all system, Jagan and the PPP would continue to win. But a system of proportional representation – which gives losing parties additional seats as the "second choice" of voters – would allow a coalition of pro-American interests to cobble together a ruling coalition.

And so it proved. In the last pre-independence election in 1964, Jagan and the PPP won 46 percent of the vote – again, by far the largest share. But with proportional representation, minority parties won enough votes to put together a coalition headed by – of course – Forbes Burnham. As Curtis notes, "now that the acceptable leadership had taken office, Guyana could be granted independence, which proceeded in 1966."

Both London and Washington – and Arthur Schlesinger – knew that the people of Guyana had been ill-served by these undemocratic machinations. Curtis quotes UK Colonial Secretary Iain MacLeod writing to Schlesinger in February 1962: "If I had to make a choice between Jagan and Burnham as head of my country, I would choose Jagan any day of the week." But the welfare of the Guyanese people didn't amount to a hill of beans to our great public intellectual – and certainly not to the highly respected statesmen he so assiduously served.

As we said before, the subversion of democracy in Guyana was actually very small beer for a system that killed millions of people to maintain its elites in wealth and privilege. But even the deadliest of these operations have found – and still find – avid assistants and staunch apologists among our great and good. And what would Schlesinger have advised if instead of a plan to "merely" overturn a democratic election and plunge a nation into chaos, upheaval and hardship, he had been presented with a CIA scheme to, say, blow Cheddi Jagan's brains out?

Given the nature of our great public intellectuals, and their characteristic attitude toward those in power, I think it's clear what Schlesinger's answer would have been in such a case. Drawing on the excellent Harvard education that he and his president shared, he would have plucked a passage from the highest reaches of Western culture, and scribbled in the margins of the plan: "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly."
For more on the remarkable Cheddi Jagan, visit the Cheddi Jagan research center, or click here to read a selection of articles by and about him.

For more on how the media were manipulated in order to manipulate the American public into supporting a war against democracy in Guatemala, see the video on this page.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

37 Dead As Suicide Bomber Attacks Pakistani Political Rally

More horrible violence racks Pakistan in the final days before Monday's parliamentary election, as Jane Perlez of the New York Times reports from Lahore.
A suicide bomber rammed a car into a campaign rally in the tribal areas on Saturday, killing 37 people and wounding at least 90 others.

The attack in Parachinar, a town in Kurram, occurred two days before parliamentary elections on Monday and was apparently intended to deter voters from participating, said Brig. Javed Cheema, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

“It’s the same people who have been carrying out attacks, whose purpose is to create confusion and chaos and stop the polling process,” Brigadier Cheema said. The government of President Pervez Musharraf has blamed a Pakistani Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, who is allied with Al Qaeda, for the steep rise in suicide attacks in the past year.

It seemed unlikely, however, that the attack on Saturday would have a significant effect on voter turnout because the tribal areas, which are semiautonomous and border Afghanistan, are considered remote and lawless by most Pakistanis.
Thus Perlez points out one aspect of the Interior Ministry's announcement that seems odd, but she doesn't mention the other: The government has no proof of anyone's complicity in anything.

She goes on to describe the scene of the attack:
The rally at Parachinar was organized by Syed Riaz Hussain, a candidate for the national Parliament who is affiliated with the Pakistan Peoples Party, the opposition party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December. After the rally, supporters of Mr. Hussain gathered on a roof for food, and others stayed on the roadside below in a large group, Brigadier Cheema said.

The suicide bomber, driving a car filled with explosives, attacked the group on the side of the road, the brigadier said. Kurram is known for sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, although Saturday’s attack was aimed at a political rally. According to one account, the people at the rally had emerged from a Shiite shrine and were on their way to the headquarters of Mr. Hussain when the bomber drove into the crowd.

Hours later, two people were killed and eight wounded in a suicide attack outside an army media center in the northwestern Swat Valley, Agence France-Presse said.

The Parachinar attack was the first violent incident in the immediate prelude to the election that pits President Musharraf’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, against two main opposition parties, the Peoples Party and the faction of the Pakistan Muslim League led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The first violent incident in the immediate prelude to the election but not the first violent attack of the campaign and likely not the last either, sad to say.
Mr. Musharraf was re-elected late last year to a five-year term as president, but the parliamentary elections are viewed by many as a referendum on his rule, which has been marred in the last year by an increasingly aggressive insurgency of Islamists, the killing of Ms. Bhutto and the imposition of emergency rule.
It's very interesting to see what details are left out of this report.

For instance, Jane Perlez gives no indication that Musharraf's "re-election" (last October 6) was even more "marred" than his "rule" has been. As we have discussed here many times, Musharraf's "re-election" was a tragic farce, the conduct of which violated three distinct laws. The Supreme Court of Pakistan was about to strike down the "result" of that "election" when Musharraf imposed emergency rule on November 3.

Musharraf said he was going after the terrorists, but one of his first moves was to sack the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and the eight other justices who refused to go along with the program. Those nine judges are still under house arrest, more than three months after the emergency was declared. These facts are well known to anyone who cares to learn.

So when the Americans send observers to monitor Monday's election, they are not really interested in democracy; if democracy were the goal, the US would have cut ties with Musharraf a long time ago. He did take power in a military coup, after all.

Oh, no. What the Americans are interested in is the appearance of democracy.
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who will be an election observer, said Friday before leaving Washington for Pakistan that the United States should cut military aid to Pakistan if the elections were substantially rigged.
Guess what, Joe? The election last October was substantially rigged -- illegal three times over. The president could only maintain his power by arresting the Supreme Court and keeping them still and quiet, so that's what he did.

The rule of law is still suspended and the honest judges are still under house arrest and bombers are ravaging the opposition and the government keeps blaming it on "extremists".

But the fact remains that extremists are barely represented in Pakistani parliaments and have very little to lose in this election. Musharraf, whose hold on power grows increasingly tenuous, has much more to lose, should the election go ahead as scheduled and in peace. And therefore it is very difficult to dismiss the claims of those who say Musharraf and/or his security forces have been behind all this violence.

The American collaborators in this farce have said nothing about any of this; if they had any principles (other than maintenance of power) they wouldn't be sending observers at all -- they'd be denouncing the horrific Pakistani-American farce that pretends to be democracy.

Politics: Power and Principle, in That Order!

"I'm a politician," runs the old joke, "and I have principles."

Wait! That's not the punchline!

"If you don't like my principles," the joke continues, "that's OK. I also have other principles."

~~~

"Where do you stand on disenfranchisement?" runs my newer coda.

"Disenfranchisement of whom?" the politician inquires.

"Millions of voters?"

"Well, that all depends on who I'm workin' for!"

~~~

Hope Yen for the AP: Clinton Aide Changes Mich., Fla. Stance
Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign who voted to strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates last year, now is arguing against the very penalty he helped pass.

In a conference call Saturday, the longtime Democratic Party member contended the DNC should reconsider its tough sanctions on the two states, which held early contests in violation of party rules. He said millions of voters in Michigan and Florida would be otherwise disenfranchised — before acknowledging moments later that he had favored the sanctions.

Ickes explained that his different position essentially is due to the different hats he wears as both a DNC member and a Clinton adviser in charge of delegate counting. Clinton won the primary vote in Michigan and Florida, and now she wants those votes to count.

"There's been no change," Ickes said. "I wasn't acting as an agent for Mrs. Clinton. We stripped them of all their delegates in order to prevent campaigns to campaign in those states. ...Those were the rules, and we thought we had an obligation to enforce them."
And now we have no obligation to enforce them anymore because we need the votes.

Beautiful!

House Republicans Walk Out To Protest Contempt Charges

The (Democratically-controlled) House of Representatives has cited two Bush aides -- Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers -- as being in contempt of Congress for their refusal to fulfill their legal obligations to a Congressional investigation into the hiring and firing of federal prosecutors. Josh Bolten failed to turn over subpoenaed documents; Harriet Miers failed to appear after she was subpoenaed to testify; in both cases, their contempt of Congress has seemed quite clear, and this move to cite them comes as no surprise.

In response, Republican House members, showing their deep respect for the Democrats in particular and the Rule of Law in general, stormed out and staged a photo-opportunity on the steps of the Capitol!

During this photo-op, some Republicans denigrated the Congressional attempt to determine whether (or more properly, to what extent and by whom) the Department of Justice has been transformed into a partisan political weapon.

Instead they suggested in the strongest terms that the Democrats in the House should spend their time kowtowing to the twice-unelected President's demands for a grant of retroactive immunity to all the telecom companies which have broken the law at his behest.

Julie Hirschfeld Davis reported for the AP; excerpts and additional comments follow:

House Holds Bush Confidants in Contempt
The House voted Thursday to hold two of President Bush's confidants in contempt for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors was politically motivated.

Angry Republicans boycotted the vote and staged a walkout.

The vote was 223-32 Thursday to hold presidential chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers in contempt. The citations charge Miers with failing to testify and accuse her and Bolten of refusing Congress' demands for documents related to the 2006-2007 firings.

Republicans said Democrats should instead be working on extending a law — set to expire Saturday — allowing the government to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails in the United States in cases of suspected terrorist activity.
If the law that's set to expire Saturday allowed the government to eavesdrop only on "those phone calls and e-mails in the United States in cases of suspected terrorist activity", we would have less of a problem. But the law allows the government to eavesdrop at will, without even the pretense of trying to stop suspected terrorist activity. Nobody would ever know who the government had eavesdropped on, or when, or why.

In fact the Congress knows very little about the situation the administration is trying so hard to legalize. It's all so secret, they don't even know what they're voting about. It's enough to make you sick, if you think about it for more than half a second. But it's fine with some of our "representatives".

Meanwhile, the White House is making sure nothing comes of the contempt citations:
The White House said the Justice Department would not ask the U.S. attorney to pursue the House contempt charges.
The White House should be cited for contempt as well, of course. But the AP can't exactly say that.
It is the first time in 25 years that a full chamber of Congress has voted on a contempt of Congress citation.
... except that the chamber wasn't exactly full, because the Republicans decided to show their lack of contempt out on the front steps.
The action, which Democrats had been threatening for months, was the latest wrinkle in a more than yearlong constitutional clash between Congress and the White House.

The administration has said the information being sought is off-limits under executive privilege, and argues that Bolten and Miers are immune from prosecution.
The administration uses the same "logic" to defend the aides and the corporations: "If they had to worry about accountability under the law, they wouldn't help us."

Rather than saying "Good! They shouldn't help you!", Congress has been changing the laws that these people have been breaking.

This has been going on and on; we are looking at only the latest example.

And this is representative government at its finest? This is the greatest democracy ever conceived?
If Congress doesn't act to enforce the subpoenas, said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, it would "be giving its tacit consent to the dangerous idea of an imperial presidency, above the law and beyond the reach of checks and balances."
I couldn't agree more, and the AP article explains why (in the next few paragraphs). But Congress has already given its explicit consent to "the dangerous idea of an imperial presidency, above the law and beyond the reach of checks and balances" -- and it's done so more than once during this presidency, so although Steny Hoyer is technically correct, there's something very hollow about his words.

A bit of context on the case:
Under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Justice Department officials consulted with the White House, fired at least nine federal prosecutors and kindled a political furor over a hiring process that favored Republican loyalists.

Bush's former top political adviser Karl Rove has also been a target of Congress' investigation into the purge of prosecutors, although Thursday's measure was not aimed at him.
Karl Rove's missing about five million emails which were all supposed to be archived. The AP won't mention that, but I might.

Greg Palast, who has obtained some of those emails, says they are extremely incriminating. That's no surprise, of course; it helps to explain both the reluctance of the media to discuss the case in detail, and it helps to explain the administration's refusal to cooperate with the investigation in any meaningful way.
Fred Fielding, the current White House counsel, has offered to make officials and documents available behind closed doors to the congressional committees probing the matter — but off the record and not under oath. Lawmakers demanded a transcript of testimony and the negotiations stalled.
Are we idiots here? Are we supposed to believe that proceedings that occur "off the record and not under oath" have any validity? Are we supposed to believe that honest people with nothing to hide would refuse to cooperate with an investigation unless they could do so "off the record and not under oath"?

It's such a transparent attempt to hide wrongdoing; Fred Fielding is another one who could be cited for contempt, in my view. And so is John Boener.
"We have space on the calendar today for a politically charged fishing expedition but no space for a bill that would protect the American people from terrorists who want to kill us," said Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the minority leader.
I keep saying it but none of these idiot politicians will listen:

Go arrest the terrorists who want to kill us -- if they really exist!

If you know who they are and what they're planning then you shouldn't need to dessicate the Bill of Rights any further -- just go arrest them. We will thank you profusely. None of us want to die, you know.

But if you don't know who they are then you can't know what they're planning, and if this is the case then you should go directly to jail for homegrown terrorism.

We're tired of having fear used as a weapon against us. John Boehner is tired of the truth.
"Let's just get up and leave," he told his colleagues, before storming out of the House chamber with scores of Republicans in tow.
Yeah, good idea, John. That'll show the American people there's no contempt involved here. None whatsoever! And the White House can help catapult the propaganda:
"If the House had nothing better to do, this futile partisan act would be a waste of time," said Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman. "The 'people's House' should reflect the priorities of the American people, not the fantasies of left-wing bloggers."
The idea that a White House spokeswoman can be relied upon to "reflect the priorities of the American people" is just so absurd, given the current political situation ... that the standard horse manure from the standard sources seems like comic relief half the time -- except it's not funny.

Neither is it funny how the media keeps trying to make "wiggle room" for the criminal elite:
It's not clear that contempt of Congress citations must be prosecuted. The law says the U.S. attorney "shall" bring the matter to a grand jury.
Well, it all depends on what you mean by the word "shall" doesn't it? The word seems pretty clear to me ...

What "shall" we do? "Shall" we bring the matter before a grand jury? The law says we "shall". What "shall" we do with the matter when we bring it before the grand jury? "Shall" we initiate a prosecution? Or "shall" we just order pizza and beer?

Some historical precedent may be instructive:
The House voted 259-105 in 1982 for a contempt citation against EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch, but the Reagan-era Justice Department refused to prosecute the case.

The Justice Department also sued the House of Representatives in that case, but the court threw out the suit and urged negotiation. The Reagan administration eventually agreed to turn over the documents.
But the Bush administration will never agree to turn over anything. They may decide to sue the House of Representatives, and they may decide to turn over a limited subset of carefully screened documents, but they will never satisfy the entire request from Congress. To do so, in their view, would be a bad move on two counts: It could lead to legal penalties; and it would set a precedent under which the White House would be seen as acknowledging its accountability to Congress as specified under the Constitution. And that's why it will never happen.

You may not have heard it here first, but I stand by my prediction.

As for the Republicans in Congress, they stand not only in contempt of Congress, but in contempt of the Rule of Law and of the Constitutional system of American government.

Their motives are clear for all to see. They're not even smart enough to pretend they don't hold our entire system of government in utter contempt.

They're not smart enough to hide this, either: The Rule of Law would impede them if they didn't undermine it -- the same as it impedes all criminals.

But justice isn't really blind; as we all know, the law impedes the rich and powerful much less than it impedes the ordinary working man. And the people -- politicians and their backers -- who are trying to strip the law of its teeth are among the wealthiest and most powerful of all.

One might think they could buy all the freedom from accountability they would ever need. But they have chosen to dismantle the Rule of Law, rather than simply purchase some freedom from it.

This gives you some idea of the magnitude of their crimes.