|New Civilization News: More And More Emerging Wrong About 9/11|
Category: Government, Public Sector
24 comments15 Apr 2004 @ 04:30 by dempstress : Well Richard,
I know of the American press and media only by repute, although Ms Dowd's article above does a good deal to undermine what I thought I knew of it. I am also too far distanced from the current investigative proceedings to recognise all of the names it contains. However, if asked who I feared is stirring up more anti-western hatred among the more fanatical elements of the followers of Islam, and increasingly among the more mainstream, Bush or Bin Laden, my choice would not be the cave-dwelling man.
15 Apr 2004 @ 05:26 by jazzolog : International NCN
Thank you CD for reminding me again that many members outside the States cannot be aware of people whose names we hear everyday on our television. What is interesting is that most of those people are professional social service workers and administrators who have labored under the administrations of both parties. They are not allowed to involve themselves in any political disputes...and cannot even campaign privately for their particular choices at election time, which this is of course. It is against the law for them to do so...and this regulation extends down even to clericals at the local Social Security office. When they are embroiled in controversy things become very ticklish indeed. I'm interested in Maureen's pointed questions to George Tenet as to whether he really is forgetting or if he is covering up. (Crawford is in Texas, where the president has his ranch.)
15 Apr 2004 @ 17:35 by maxtobin : Are we surprised?
Ever since the morning that I saw the unfolding dramatic tragedy (9-11 twin towers event) we have seen an increasingly open knowing that this was one more step into the much prophesied Third World War. I have seen endlessly an image of "Uncle Sam" (with many hands on the hilt) plunging a dagger into his own heart. The "War" on terror is the ultimate terror in my view, for it is the Industrial/Military (energy monopolies totally involved here) machines dream comes true. (Could they possibly have been involved in the orchestration?) An unseen, defined through convenience, "enemy" (if you are not with us you are against us) that allows for a never ending excuse and a 'patriotically' justified reason to present a constant diet of terror in order to further the top down control agenda. It is so transparent. Ironically when swimming in the soup the ability to know anything other than "being in the soup" is seriously eroded (just as the so called freedoms of the US and all the fawning Satellite nations have been).
My heart grows heavy when embracing the karmas facing our civilization, small wonder that so many people dream/scheme of a new one.
REALITY check though is that this is it, this is not a dress rehearsal and all action is irreversible and contributes to the e-merging reality picture (OUR CO-CREATION). We can however, I believe, awaken to the game and take responsibility for our own part in it. Become response-able and refuse to accept that this is inevitable and we must continue to behave as victims and seek endless retribution for this, our human, condition. These are not the activities of a Christian (or enlightened)society, look into the heart and take time to ask what is for the highest and best good? This in my view is the only way to move beyond the limitations of us and them and to assume our sovereign responsibilities (Not the same as Rights, but perhaps more appropriate) as awakened children of GAIA.
BLESSED BE the awakening ones, for the dream has become a nightmare and it is now time to take control of the beast within that feeds the monster without. Embrace the dream that is burried in our collective heart that is where it starts..
16 Apr 2004 @ 03:01 by jazzolog : For Max
Thank you so much for the time and heart-energy of the comment above. Such an awakening and resulting activity is essential to the very existence of our nations and life on the planet itself. You notice Max I mention in the entry the guy and his internal combustion toy. In a science class I'm involved with we saw a documentary last week on ozone depletion and its particular effects in New Zealand. We saw school children in your country required to wear hats even to go outdoors. We watched them make posters in school which state and illustrate "Say NO to the Sun." Are these practices in the southern part of New Zealand only, or are they nationwide by now? Are there other countries suffering like this from exhaust, refrigerator and air-conditioner emissions? We must wake up Yanks to take personal responsibility for the damage we do!
16 Apr 2004 @ 03:29 by vibrani : 9/11
was no surprise. IF the west had paid attention to the warning signs that gave many years advance notice, it and many other tragedies could have been averted. What was disappointing for me was that even here, at NCN, when I gave warnings to people about the Saudis and extremist Muslims, many people thought I was out of my mind. Nope.
16 Apr 2004 @ 07:09 by magical_melody : Hell NO! No surprises for those who see
through the illusion.
Hmmm, I have to say that when I saw the television report, I too felt the lie before me. At a deep level I knew the truth from the deception, however at the personality level, I felt stunned for such abhorance that the political agenda had finally come to this. And...You got that right Sweety, when one is in the soup, the noodle just sees things from a survivalist perspective that minimizes the danger. I echo the comment: THIS is NOT a dress rehearsal! "Take control of the beast within that feeds the monster without", or you shall be as the one to exact terror on the greater SELF through complicity ! Indeed, it is time to stop mind -fu__ing around...to write lightly of these events as though they are some fabrication of the mind is to leave behind, our lives and the purpose for which we have been born to!!!!!!!!!
And you know the answer Jazz, it's a world-wide issue with the sun, damn straight! Yes, to your comment: "We must wake up Yanks to take personal responsibility for the damage we do!"
magical melody also lives in New Zealand.
16 Apr 2004 @ 08:15 by dempstress : Sad, but surprising?
A recent BBC Radio 4 (i.e.good, sound journalism) documentary the other day interviewed a range of British Muslims about 9/11 and its effects, internationally and in the UK. The older, 'community leaders' in general spoke positively about the situation in the UK, and about the maintaining of communications, despite a number of specific incidents. Most frightening were interviews with a number of young Muslim men who, despite acknowledging that multicultural relations in their areas were good and positive, believed strongly that A) it was only a matter of time before open confict would occur in the UK, and B) that not only the aftermath but the events of 9/11 itself were orchestrated by 'the West', by 'the USA'. The discontinuities in their statements and the lack of material basis underpinning their convictions were apparently not visible to them.......but then we can hardly be surprised, as the same appears commonplace in the highest echelons of powerful governments.
16 Apr 2004 @ 17:21 by magical_melody : magical melody also lives in New Zealand
****Thank Godd-ess she does, and melody be singing ...Same ole Jazz!
Naturally the membership knows beloved Melody and Max, and new public folks, relatives, and friends are looking in too. I yield to little footnotes on such occasions. :-) ---ole Jazz ("ole" is Swedish of course)
22 Apr 2004 @ 02:35 by jazzolog : Bush Believes Body Language, Not Ideas
The New York Times
April 22, 2004
The Body Politic
By MAUREEN DOWD
Not since Jane Goodall lived with chimps in Tanzania has there been such a vivid study of the nonverbal patterns of primates engaged in a dominance display.
Bob Woodward's new book, "Plan of Attack," reveals that President Bush decided to go to war based mostly, believe it or not, on body language.
Like his father, Mr. Bush prefers more elemental means of self-expression than the verbal. (Not long before the first gulf war, Bush senior's masseuse told a client that the president's neck was so tight, she assumed we were going to war.)
The younger Bush, suspicious of Clintonesque dialectical fevers and interminable analyses, did not bother to ask most of his top advisers what they thought. The less Dick Cheney talked, the more power Mr. Bush entrusted in him.
Like the silent, cool-hand cowboy he aspires to be, who would shoot a man just because he didn't like the way the varmint was looking at him, the president preferred doing gut checks, visually sizing up advisers and Saddam, rather than dwelling on pesky facts.
He did not probe deeply to reconcile advisers' assessments. He cared only about their spine, figuratively and literally. There was no skeptical debate in the Oval Office like the one before the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
The president explained to Mr. Woodward that he had wanted to talk to Tommy Franks in person about the Iraq war plan. " `I'm watching his body language very carefully,' Mr. Bush recalled. He emphasized the body language, the eyes, the demeanor. It was more important than some of the substance. . . . `Is this good enough to win?' he recalled asking Franks, leaning forward in his chair and throwing his hand forward in a slicing motion at my face to illustrate the scene."
As the president studied the physio-semiotics of those around him, they studied his. " `I knew my relationship with the president and the access and his interest and how he feels and his body language on things,' " a typically cocky Donald Rumsfeld said.
The author writes of the Cheney aide and Iraq hawk Scooter Libby: "He was watching the president carefully, noting the body language and the verbal language ordering war planning for Iraq, the questions, attitudes and tone."
When the C.I.A. briefers told Mr. Bush that to recruit sources inside Iraq, they would have to say the U.S. was coming with its military putting him in the awkward position of simultaneously pursuing diplomatic and military solutions Condoleezza Rice watched the president. "The president's body language suggested he had received the message, but he didn't make any promises."
Nick Calio, the White House legislative affairs director, realized the endgame by September 2002: "Judging from Bush's side comments and body language, Calio assumed that the question on Iraq was not if but when there would be a war."
When George Tenet was telling a dubious president that the W.M.D. "evidence" would be there when he needed it, he knew how to physically underscore his point. "Tenet, a basketball fan who attended as many home games of his alma mater Georgetown as possible, leaned forward and threw his arms up again. `Don't worry, it's a slam-dunk!' "
When the president at long last informed his top diplomat that he was going to war, Colin Powell could tell from the president's body language that there was no point in arguing: "It was the assured Bush. His tight, forward-leaning, muscular body language verified his words."
After a while, the usually literal Mr. Woodward also began dipping into the science of kinesics. When he greeted Mr. Bush at a White House Christmas party in 2002, he interpreted the president's body language as blessing the prospect of a sequel to his last book, "Bush at War."
The end of "Plan of Attack" says that when Mr. Woodward asked the president how history would judge his Iraq war, Mr. Bush smiled. " `History,' he said, shrugging, taking his hands out of his pockets, extending his arms out and suggesting with his body language that it was so far off. `We won't know. We'll all be dead.' "
Soon, these people had the problem of the body language of more than 700 dead soldiers. Some persuasive non-body language is way overdue.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
22 Apr 2004 @ 04:03 by b : Guessing is not an exact science
I sure hope that people all over the world realize that it was Arabs who hijacked those planes and murdered all of those people who died. The people who died are the victims not the perpetrators. Somehow in the rhetoric after 9/ll it seems blurred that America was attacked in America and that the threat of another attack here still exists. I don't want it to happen again. All the sarcasm in the world won't change that. There is no justification for an evil act.
USA didn't do it. It was done to USA.
22 Apr 2004 @ 09:17 by jazzolog : An Outguessed Foreign Policy
It seems the 9/11 Commission, and new books by both Clarke and Woodward, make clear that truly the Bush administration has been guessing at what the rest of the world would do, including his old family business associates the Husseins and the bin Ladins---and ignoring mounting evidence that contradicts their guesses even after it blows up in their faces. It's true that increasing numbers of people laugh at such stupidity...but the hope is that the sarcasm will change the behavior of the bully into something more rational. Of course there also are increasing numbers that think blind greed to control a natural resource that is in critically diminishing supply---and to risk destroying the world to do it---is the real utter madness.
27 Apr 2004 @ 04:48 by dempstress : At last.....
......a group of people of some standing as well as lots of experience and understanding, have, er, stood up and made their positions clear on the Bush/Blair Middle East policy in an open letter. They are a group of dozens of senior figures from the UK's diplomatic service. Don't know what coverage if any this is getting in the States, but the letter in full is available on the Independent's website, at
This is also a good UK paper for non-middle of the road coverage generally, at:
27 Apr 2004 @ 09:23 by jazzolog : Dempstress & The UK
Thank you Caroline for the revealing link. Top story today for instance tells us~~~
"Tony Blair was facing a severe crisis of confidence in his foreign policy yesterday after an unprecedented attack from dozens of the most senior figures in the British diplomatic service.
"The letter from 52 former ambassadors and heads of mission who held the most senior postings in the Foreign Office, lambasted Mr Blair for abandoning his principles over the road-map to peace in the Middle East and criticised the United States-led coalition in Iraq for failing to plan for the post-Saddam era."
Some of this story surfaced over here on the major networks this weekend. With Spain and Latin American countries pulling out, it appears major rifts are occurring within the British branch of Bush's pathetic alliance as well. What is it called when you make the same mistake over and over and over, while expecting a different result each time?
11 May 2004 @ 06:43 by jazzolog : You Do Trust The USA Don't You?
The New York Times
May 11, 2004
Just Trust Us
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Didn't you know, in your gut, that something like Abu Ghraib would eventually come to light?
When the world first learned about the abuse of prisoners, President Bush said that it "does not reflect the nature of the American people." He's right, of course: a great majority of Americans are decent and good. But so are a great majority of people everywhere. If America's record is better than that of most countries and it is it's because of our system: our tradition of openness, and checks and balances.
Yet Mr. Bush, despite all his talk of good and evil, doesn't believe in that system. From the day his administration took office, its slogan has been "just trust us." No administration since Nixon has been so insistent that it has the right to operate without oversight or accountability, and no administration since Nixon has shown itself to be so little deserving of that trust. Out of a misplaced sense of patriotism, Congress has deferred to the administration's demands. Sooner or later, a moral catastrophe was inevitable.
Just trust us, John Ashcroft said, as he demanded that Congress pass the Patriot Act, no questions asked. After two and a half years, during which he arrested and secretly detained more than a thousand people, Mr. Ashcroft has yet to convict any actual terrorists. (Look at the actual trials of what Dahlia Lithwick of Slate calls "disaffected bozos who watch cheesy training videos," and you'll see what I mean.)
Just trust us, George Bush said, as he insisted that Iraq, which hadn't attacked us and posed no obvious threat, was the place to go in the war on terror. When we got there, we found no weapons of mass destruction and no new evidence of links to Al Qaeda.
Just trust us, Paul Bremer said, as he took over in Iraq. What is the legal basis for Mr. Bremer's authority? You may imagine that the Coalition Provisional Authority is an arm of the government, subject to U.S. law. But it turns out that no law or presidential directive has ever established the authority's status. Mr. Bremer, as far as we can tell, answers to nobody except Mr. Bush, which makes Iraq a sort of personal fief. In that fief, there has been nothing that Americans would recognize as the rule of law. For example, Ahmad Chalabi, the Pentagon's erstwhile favorite, was allowed to gain control of Saddam's files the better to blackmail his potential rivals.
And finally: Just trust us, Donald Rumsfeld said early in 2002, when he declared that "enemy combatants" a term that turned out to mean anyone, including American citizens, the administration chose to so designate don't have rights under the Geneva Convention. Now people around the world talk of an "American gulag," and Seymour Hersh is exposing My Lai all over again.
Did top officials order the use of torture? It depends on the meaning of the words "order" and "torture." Last August Mr. Rumsfeld's top intelligence official sent Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the Guantánamo prison, to Iraq. General Miller recommended that the guards help interrogators, including private contractors, by handling prisoners in a way that "sets the conditions" for "successful interrogation and exploitation." What did he and his superiors think would happen?
To their credit, some supporters of the administration are speaking out. "This is about system failure," said Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. But do Mr. Graham, John McCain and other appalled lawmakers understand their own role in that failure? By deferring to the administration at every step, by blocking every effort to make officials accountable, they set the nation up for this disaster. You can't prevent any serious inquiry into why George Bush led us to war to eliminate W.M.D. that didn't exist and to punish Saddam for imaginary ties to Al Qaeda, then express shock when Mr. Bush's administration fails to follow the rules on other matters.
Meanwhile, Abu Ghraib will remain in use, under its new commander: General Miller of Guantánamo. Donald Rumsfeld has "accepted responsibility" an action that apparently does not mean paying any price at all. And Dick Cheney says, "Don Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had. . . . People should get off his case and let him do his job." In other words: Just trust us.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Major General Antonio M. Taguba is scheduled to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee today as the leadoff witness in a day of hearings on the abuses. It is his 53-page document now known as the Taguba report, which cited "egregious acts and grave breaches of international law."
16 May 2004 @ 02:03 by jazzolog : Maureen Goes To "Troy" And Sees Iraq
The New York Times
May 16, 2004
The Springs of Fate
By MAUREEN DOWD
Oblivious of the consequences, the impetuous black sheep of a ruling family starts a war triggered by a personal grudge.
The father, a respected veteran of his own wars, suppresses his unease and graciously supports his son, even though it will end up destroying his legacy and the world order he envisioned.
The ferocious battle in the far-off sands spirals out of control, with many brave soldiers killed, with symbols of divinity damaged, with graphic scenes showing physical abuse of the conquered, and with devastatingly surreptitious guerrilla tactics.
Aside from dishing up a gilded Brad Pitt with a leather miniskirt and a Heathrow duty-free accent as he tosses about ancient insults, such as calling someone a "sack of wine," "Troy" also dishes up some gilded lessons on the Aeschylating cost of imperial ambitions and personal vendettas.
The Greek warriors question their sovereign's reasons for war, knowing that he has taken an incendiary pretext (Paris' stealing Helen from Sparta) to provide emotional acceleration to his real reasons to settle old scores and forge an empire through war.
When Mars rushes into Achilles' soul in his battle with Hector, as Alexander Pope wrote in his translation of Homer's "Iliad," "the springs of fate snap every lock tight."
But Barbara Tuchman, in her book "The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam," observes that while the Trojans reject advice to keep that dagnab nag, as Rummy might put it, out of the walled city, "the feasible alternative that of destroying the Horse is always open."
Cassandra and others warned them. (The always ignored Cassandra is left out of the movie, but she must have sensed that was coming.)
"Notwithstanding the frequent references in the epic to the fall of Troy being ordained, it was not fate but free choice that took the Horse within the walls," Ms. Tuchman writes. " `Fate' as a character in legend represents the fulfillment of man's expectation of himself."
A State Department official noted last week that if any of the Bush hawks had read Ms. Tuchman's dissection of war follies, her warning about leaders who get an "addiction to the counterproductive," they might have been less rash.
"The folly" in Vietnam, she writes, "consisted not in pursuit of a goal in ignorance of the obstacles but in persistence in the pursuit despite accumulating evidence that the goal was unattainable, and the effect disproportionate to the American interest and eventually damaging to American society, reputation and disposable power in the world."
The Bush team, working on divine right, doesn't bother checking human precedent.
The president and secretary of defense boast about not reading newspapers, presumably because they don't want any contrary opinion or fact to shake their faith in the essential excellence of their policies.
It's astonishing the amount of stuff these guys don't bother to read, preferring to filter their information through their ideology. They certainly didn't read enough Iraqi history. They delayed looking at photos and reports on Americans abusing Iraqi prisoners. Paul Wolfowitz clearly wasn't bothering to read updated casualty reports.
The deputy defense secretary got cuffed around at a Senate hearing on Thursday when he admitted that he had first read a document that morning detailing questionable rules of engagement for confronting Iraqi prisoners.
As Ms. Tuchman notes, wooden heads are as dangerous as wooden horses: "Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs."
President Bush's Achilles' heel is his fear of wimpiness, and Dick Cheney and Rummy played on that, making him think he had to go to war once the war machine was revved up, or he would lose face and no longer be "The Man."
Maybe the president and vice president will catch "Troy" on their planes as they jet around to fund-raisers. But the antiwar message will probably be lost, except on the official who is both a snubbed Cassandra and a sulking Achilles, Colin Powell. "Wooden-headedness," Ms. Tuchman said, "is also the refusal to benefit from experience."
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
18 Jun 2004 @ 02:42 by jazzolog : Why Did Americans Believe Iraq Did 9/11?
A penetrating editorial this morning in the Daytona Beach News-Journal~~~
The Saddam-al Qaida link
On so little evidence, so many believe
Last update: 18 June 2004
Eight days after the 9/11 attacks, the Harris Poll's Humphrey Taylor wrote that "no poll has shown large numbers believing, as yet, that any specific countries or governments supported or helped plan the attacks. However, that could change overnight if such charges are made." In fact, polling data showed that when Americans were asked who they blamed for the attacks, only 3 percent mentioned Iraq or Saddam Hussein. The 97 percent of Americans who didn't see a link between the attacks and Iraq were right, as the 9/11 commission confirmed emphatically in its latest report this week: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated on attacks against the United States."
Yet by January 2003, a Knight-Ridder poll reported that 44 percent of Americans believed that "most" or "some" of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Iraqi. (Not one hijacker was Iraqi; most were Saudi Arabian). By spring 2003, a New York Times/CBS poll found that almost half of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was "personally involved" in the 9/11 attacks. And by last summer, a Washington Post poll raised that number to 70 percent.
Given the utter lack of "credible evidence" for such links, how could an overwhelming number of Americans have been so misled?
For two years after the 9/11 attacks, the administration systematically, if never directly, created a link between Iraq and al-Qaida. It used that link as a principal justification for invading Iraq. The president never said "Iraq helped al-Qaida attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon." But two occasions demonstrate exactly how he went about creating the impression of a link in the public's mind.
In Bush's prime-time press conference on the eve of war with Iraq, in March 2003, he mentioned 9/11 eight times and Saddam Hussein almost as frequently in the same breath. In that news conference as in virtually every public pronouncement on Iraq before and since, Bush pinned blame for "terrorism" on Saddam Hussein, knowing that terrorism has become a synonym for al-Qaida.
Four weeks earlier, Bush had dispatched Secretary of State Colin Powell to make a similar case to the United Nations Security Council. Powell declared an Iraqi-al-Qaida link "potentially much more sinister" than what was believed until then. He referred to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Palestinian terrorist with links to al-Qaida who had allegedly received medical treatment in Baghdad and had "safe haven" in a terrorist camp in Iraq, where biological weapons were being manufactured. But the camp Zarqawi operated was in the area of northern Iraq controlled by Kurds, who were Saddam's opponents. It was no "safe haven" except by one measure: The camp fell in a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone. The administration knew of the camp in 2001, and obviously knew of its alleged bomb-making. Yet it didn't bomb the camp until the Iraq campaign got under way, even though American and British jets routinely bombed targets in Iraq before the invasion. Why would such a dangerous camp have been allowed to operate under the nose of American warplanes? Because, as Richard Clarke, the Bush administration's former counter-terrorism chief, wrote, "the group and its camp must not have been much of a threat."
By the Bush administration's standards of evidence, there was a lot more evidence that Saudi Arabia funded al-Qaida, that Saudi and Pakistani "charities" gave al-Qaida cover, that Iran gave (and gives) al-Qaida operatives safe haven, as does Pakistan. But Iraq had been the target from the administration's earliest days. The 9/11 attacks provided the justification. The administration's imagination provided the evidence.
The question -- how could so many be so misled by so little evidence -- is dismaying. The answer is not: Most Americans still believe what their president tells them. That's not bad news. The bad news is when that trust is abused, the degree to which it is abused, and the consequences such an abuse of trust entails: An unjustified war on one hand, the presidency's diminished credibility on the other.
© 2003 News-Journal Corporation
21 Jun 2004 @ 04:25 by jazzolog : 9/11 Commission's Final Report
I understand the entire report is not terribly difficult reading, but if you are rushed I suggest this summary~~~
9/11: At last, the full story has been told
After a week of shattering revelations, Americans now know the truth about the extraordinary plot to attack their country and the chaos that overtook their leaders on that fateful day.
Jason Burke in London and Paul Harris in New York
Sunday June 20, 2004
Some held their heads in their hands. Others wept openly. A few stared straight ahead.
It was the end of the 11 September commission's public hearings and those in the cavernous auditorium in Washington knew that they had just heard the final, definitive account of the world-changing events 33 months before.
They had heard a story that shattered myths and provided few comforts.They had heard of the chaos in the administration and air defence systems on that fateful morning; they had heard of the failures of the security services of the most powerful state in history; they had heard from inside the terrorist cell that hatched - and successfully executed - the most ambitious attack ever. They had heard the truth at last.
For some, the proceedings brought calm. Others remain angry. 'There's an invisible wound in my heart that can only be closed with truth and by someone accepting responsibility,' said April Gallop, who survived being buried in the rubble of the Pentagon.
The commission, an independent, bipartisan panel formed by primary legislation and the reluctant signature of the President, has interviewed hundreds of officials, intelligence experts and politicians, including George Bush. It owes its existence to pressure from relatives of those who died on 11 September, 2001, and thus has the moral power to force powerful figures to testify before it. They revealed that the terrorists owed their success, at least in part, to the confusion, errors of judgment and laziness of those charged with defending America. The inquiry allows the full story of the attacks to become clear.
The story starts in Pakistan where, in the 1980s, thousands of young Arabs gathered to aid the Afghans in their war with the Soviet Union. Some, such as Osama bin Laden, tall, handsome scion of one of the Gulf's richest families, were minor celebrities. Others, such as Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, a tubby young Pakistani engineer, shunned the limelight.
When the Russians withdrew in 1989, many militants, including Mohammed, turned their attention to another superpower supposedly set on the domination and humiliation of Islam: America. Over the next few years Mohammed worked contacts in Pakistan and among wealthy sympathisers in the Gulf, sourcing funding and volunteers for a wide range of terrorist operations against US targets. One involved a young Pakistani called Ramzi Yousef, who in 1993 tried and failed to blow up the World Trade Centre. According to an FBI agent interviewed by the commission, it was a money transfer to Yousef to fund the strike that first brought Mohammed to the attention of American intelligence services.
But no one was paying much attention. In 1994 Mohammed moved to Manila in the Philippines, where he hooked up with Yousef again for an ambitious attempt at a long-standing pet project: the simultaneous destruction of a number of civilian passenger jets. The process that would lead to 11 September had begun.
At first things went badly wrong. A fire led police to the flat where Mohammed's team were making bombs. Yousef fled - and was caught in Pakistan. Mohammed escaped to Qatar where, sheltered by local politicians, he was able to lie low.
But the respite was short-lived. Hounded by US intelligence agents, Mohammed was forced to move on again, to Afghanistan, where the hardline Taliban militia had taken control a few months previously. Bin Laden had also recently returned to the war-racked south-west Asian state.
Mohammed still dreamed of executing his pet scheme. Bin Laden, he knew, had access to vast wealth. It was not, the commission reveals, his own money, as often previously claimed, but came from a series of wealthy donors in the Gulf and the collection boxes of several mosques in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden, who was steadily establishing control over the pre-existing infrastructure of militant training camps in Afghanistan, also had access to that most precious of terrorist commodities: skilled and motivated men.
In late 1996, according to the commission, Mohammed went to bin Laden and pitched his grand idea: to hijack 10 planes in America and crash nine into the headquarters of the CIA and the FBI, the tallest buildings on the East and West Coasts, and into nuclear power plants.
Mohammed himself would hijack one plane, kill all males on board, land it, release the women and children, then denounce American policies in the Middle East at a press conference. Bin Laden listened to the proposal but, worried by the complexity of the plans, did not commit himself. Not yet.
Bin Laden had been active, but hardly high-profile, since the end of the Afghan war. He had spent five years in Sudan after being in effect expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, farming, building roads and organising a network of militants. In 1994, according to the commission, came the only real contact with the Iraqis. First he helped Islamic militants in northern Iraq opposed to Saddam, but Khartoum ordered him to cease the support and arranged for meetings with a senior intelligence officer from Baghdad. It went nowhere. Political pressure forced the Saudi-born militant out of Sudan soon afterwards.
Bin Laden had schemes of his own. In August 1998, one came to fruition. Suicide truck bombs destroyed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Emboldened, bin Laden and his aides cast about for new projects to take the war to the Americans on their home ground. In early 1999 Mohammed was summoned to Kandahar, the southern Afghan desert city where bin Laden and the Taliban had their headquarters. His plan was on.
Following the attacks in Africa, President Bill Clinton authorised the killing of bin Laden. Three times in the next 18 months airstrikes to kill him in Afghanistan were cancelled at the last minute, despite bin Laden being 'in the cross-hairs'. Even now, according to the commission, the lead CIA official in the field believes this was the 'lost opportunity' that would have prevented 11 September.
As he prepared to leave office, Clinton tasked Richard Clarke, his counter-terrorism chief, with putting together a plan to take on al-Qaeda. It aimed to arrest members, attack its financial networks, freeze its assets, expose the network of Islamic charities funding it, insert special forces into Afghanistan and support the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Clarke presented the plan in December 2000, a month before Bush would take office in the wake of that year's nail-biting election finish.
Clarke briefed the new administration and urged his plan be adopted immediately. But, though a Senate report recommended the setting up of a 'National Homeland Security Agency' and warned 'mass casualty terrorism directed against the US homeland was of serious and growing concern', the Bush administration was more focused on a planned missile shield and Iraq. Incoming officials thought the departing 'Clintonites' were terrorism-obsessed. Contact with the Taliban, aimed at forcing them to give up bin Laden, dropped away. On 8 May, 2001, Bush announced a task force headed by Vice-President Dick Cheney to develop action on counter-terrorism. It never met.
Khaled Sheikh Mohammed had his own problems. Bin Laden had given him four experienced terror operators to complete his plan, but two were refused entry to the US. Worse, the two Saudis who had made it to San Diego were unable to speak English and unlikely to be able to complete the flight training they needed
Then came a breakthrough. Four young Arabs, who had been living in Germany, arrived in Afghanistan seeking training to fight in Chechnya. All spoke decent English and were used to the West. If they could be trained as pilots, they would be perfect. By early 2000 they were back in Hamburg with instructions to get visas, go to the US and start flying. Their targets, decided at a meeting with bin Laden himself, were to be the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and the Capitol, seen as the source of America's pro-Israeli policies, and their leader, appointed personally by the terrorist mastermind, was a 30-year-old Egyptian called Mohamed Atta. By mid-2000, three of the four were in the US. With the two Saudis on the West Coast, al-Qaeda had five operatives in place, all learning to fly.
There were still many problems, however. The commission used interrogation reports of Mohammed, captured in Pakistan last year, and other members of the plot to construct a picture of al-Qaeda's inner dynamics. They found that, like the Americans, they were also riven by personality clashes, grumpy workers, overbearing bosses and arguments over strategy.
Back in Afghanistan, there were fierce arguments among the al-Qaeda high command over the advisability of attacking the US. Some were concerned by the possibility of massive reprisals. Mullah Omar, the reclusive cleric who led the Taliban, was adamantly opposed to the plan, not least because of pressure from his Pakistani allies.
Bin Laden overruled Mohammed on the targeting of the attacks, cancelling a second wave of strikes. The austere, fanatical Atta clashed with the more easygoing, extrovert Ziad al-Jarrah, a young Lebanese from a cosmopolitan background who was to be one of the pilots. Jarrah missed his young Turkish girlfriend, with whom he was very much in love, and it took persuading from senior al-Qaeda figures to keep him from withdrawing entirely from the conspiracy. When one of the Saudis went home without permission, Mohammed wanted him removed from the plot. Bin Laden overruled him
One thing went smoothly, however. The camps in Afghanistan were able to provide a trained pilot and 19 young men to provide 'muscle', all of whom arrived in America during the spring and summer of 2001. Mohammed resisted pressure from bin Laden to strike in the early summer, refusing even to pass on the al-Qaeda chief's impatience to Atta, who he knew would attack when ready.
On 10 July, 2001, Kenneth Williams, an FBI agent in Phoenix, Arizona, sent a memo to the agency's headquarters. He was suspicious about the actions of some Middle Eastern students at a local flight school. He thought that terrorists might be trying to infiltrate the civil aviation system. His memo was ignored. But there were other clues. One of the most explosive and contentious pieces of information revealed by the commission was a secret briefing given to Bush on 6 August, 2001.
The document, declassified only after intense pressure, was titled 'Bin Laden determined to attack inside the US'. Without being specific, it warned that al-Qaeda was trying to send operatives to the US through Canada to carry out an attack using explosives, was looking at ways to hijack planes and may have had a support network in the country.
There were other warnings during that long, hot summer. On 16 August, Zacharias Moussaoui, was arrested for suspicious activity at a flight school. Moussaoui piqued the interest of the FBI after showing little interest in learning to take off or land. Incredibly, his arresting agent wrote he was the 'type of person who could fly something into the World Trade Centre'. Another FBI agent on the case speculated that a large aircraft could be used as a weapon. Still no one connected the dots.
Worse, the CIA had learnt the names of the two Saudis weeks before they had arrived in the US - but had failed to pass them on to the FBI. The agency was worried. Analysts had noticed a huge upsurge in 'chatter' - the communications between known militants.
In Afghanistan rumours were spreading of an imminent strike. According to Mohammed's interrogation, bin Laden had told recruits to pray for the souls of the 20 future martyrs before going underground for much of July. At points in the summer, camps had been evacuated, as if to escape retaliation.
On 4 September, as Washington was getting back to the business of government after the summer, Clarke held his long-awaited meeting about putting his anti-terror plan to the President. Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell decided to go ahead. But the plan would never make it to the President's desk. The terrorists would strike first.
At 8.21 the transponder aboard American Airlines Flight 11 was turned off and controllers lost touch with the plane. Atta and his team of hijackers had taken control and killed the pilot and his cockpit crew. At 8.24 came the first direct confirmation that the attacks were under way. Atta was heard from the ground. 'We have some planes, ' he said.
Four minutes later, the Federal Aviation Administration was told. Nine minutes after that, the military was informed. With a normal hijacking, such delays would probably not have mattered. With this sort of attack, they were crucial. In phone calls now released by the commission, the sense of unreality and confusion in America's attempt to deal with the crisis is evident from the beginning. When the FAA controller informed the Northeast Air Defences Sector (Neads), the military command centre, about the hijacking, he asked for fighter aircraft to be scrambled.
'Help us out,' he pleaded.
'Is this real world or exercise?' was the response.
'No, this is not an exercise, not a test,' insisted the controller.
At 8.46 two F-15 fighters were scrambled from Otis Air Force Base to intercept Flight 11. But they were 150 miles away. And too late. Atta was seconds away from plunging his jet into the north tower of the World Trade Centre. A few minutes later, Bush, visiting a school in Florida, was told a plane had hit the World Trade Centre. However, aides said it was a twin-engined craft and pilot error was suspected. He continued with his visit in an air of normality. For him, the world had not yet changed.
That was not the case at the FAA. Controllers were already frantically worried by Atta's reference to 'planes' in the plural. Did that mean more jets were under threat? At 8.47, less than 60 seconds after the first crash, the transponder on United Airlines Flight 175 blinked off. It went unnoticed until 8.51, when a controller spotted the change and ordered it switched back on. There was no response. Seven minutes later one FAA controller in New York told another: 'We might have a hijack over here, two of them.'
At 9.01, the FAA told Neads about the second plane. 'Heads up, man, it looks like another one coming in,' said another FAA official. Two minutes later, the second plane hit the south tower. Bush was informed of the disaster - in front of the full glare of the cameras - by an aide whispering in his ear that 'America is under attack'.
Just three minutes before Flight 175 hit its target, FAA officials in Indianapolis noticed that Flight 77 from Washington had disappeared from the radar. Controllers started notifying other official agencies that the craft had probably crashed. In fact, it too had its transponder switched off. The plane had turned around and was now heading right back towards America's capital
Fighter jets at Langley Air Force base were scrambled at 9.23 but, amazingly, were ordered into the air in the mistaken belief that Flight 11 was still in flight and headed in the wrong direction. At 9.32, when Flight 77 was detected on the radar again, heading for Washington, the Langley jets were too far away to help. An unarmed National Guard cargo plane was asked by the FAA to follow Flight 77. It was too late. 'It looks like that aircraft crashed into the Pentagon, sir,' reported the crew. It was 9.38 and the terrorists had scored three out of three.
But still it was not over. Ten minutes before Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, controllers in Cleveland had heard sounds of a struggle from United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark, New Jersey. Between 9.34 and 9.38, controllers moved several other aircraft out of the way as Flight 77 rose unexpectedly into the skies.
Frantic mobile phone calls from relatives and loved ones meant that the passengers were all too aware of what their fate was. Todd Breamer said a prayer with the phone operator on his mobile, then helped lead a passenger assault on the cockpit with the now famous phrase: 'Let's roll.' At 10.03, Flight 93 crashed into the ground just outside the village of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. When it crashed, the Langley jets had stopped chasing the phantom Flight 11 and were chasing the phantom Flight 77 - after it, too, had already crashed. Jets were now patrolling Manhattan, though no new attacks were to come. Incredibly the military was informed of the hijacking on Flight 93 at only 10.07, four minutes after its passengers had brought it down.
It had taken just under two hours in all. Hundreds of people were already dead. Thousands more would still die as the World Trade Centre towers crumpled and fell. The world had changed. But, for now at least, the attack was over.
It had exposed a huge inability of the American state to cope with such an assault. Time after time, actions by officials had come too late. Jets had chased after planes that had already crashed, while real hijacked planes went unnoticed. The military authorities were not informed or were given the wrong information. Cheney was to tell Rumsfeld he believed two hijacked planes had been shot down on his orders, saying: 'It is my understanding that they've already taken a couple of aircraft out.'
But it was all just rumour and speculation. Rumsfeld was surprised at Cheney's claim. 'We can't confirm that. We're told that one aircraft is down but we do not have a pilot report that they did it,' he replied. General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was honest in his testimony last week when he described the confusion: 'We fought many phantoms that day.'
The commission has now shown that the military had no chance of bringing down the hijacked planes. Cheney's order to fire on the jets came only after the last one had crashed. Even then, it was never issued to the fighters which had taken off from Langley. A breakdown in military command meant that senior officers were not passing on the orders to the pilots until they were clarified. The commission was brutally honest about the efforts of the FAA and Neads that day: 'They struggled under difficult circumstances, to improvise a homeland defence against an unprecedented challenge they had never encountered and had never trained to meet.' In fact, the only effective response came from the passengers of Flight 93. 'Their actions saved the lives of countless others and may have saved either the US Capitol or the White House from destruction,' the commission noted.
There were also technical problems. Bush has complained he was unable to get a secure phone line to Cheney and had to rely on a mobile phone call as he was hustled on board Air Force One. His motorcade even took a wrong turn during the evacuation and had to reverse. Bush and Cheney spoke first at 9.15 and again at 9.45, as Bush was waiting to board his plane. 'Sounds like we have a minor war going on here,' Bush told his Vice-President and close friend. 'I heard about the Pentagon. We're at war ... somebody's going to pay.' At last someone in power had got something right.
The commission will produce its final report next month. It has already released detailed interim conclusions and few real surprises are expected. However, the fallout is likely to be considerable. The intelligence services will come under heavy criticism, although some of the attacks will be defused by the recent resignation of George Tenet, the CIA chief. The administration's failure to tackle terrorism will be highlighted.
That is bad news for Bush in an election year. Since 11 September, he has defined himself as a 'war President' who can keep America safe. It is the core of his re-election strategy. Despite lagging just behind Democratic challenger John Kerry in recent polls, he always outscores his rival on issues of national security. If that position is undermined, a central part of Bush's campaign is threatened. If the commission's criticism of Bush's administration is harsh, it could be the difference between victory and defeat.
And, for surviving victims such as April Gallop, the salve for the 'open wound' they have been waiting for.
11 September myths exploded
Myth number one
A strong relationship existed between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden.
Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, said in a speech to the United Nations in February 2003: 'Iraqis continued to visit bin Laden in his new home in Afghanistan. A senior defector says Saddam sent his agents to Afghanistan some time in the mid-1990s to provide training to al-Qaeda members.'
Commission: 'In 1994 bin Laden is said to have requested [help] but Iraq never responded... There have been reports that contacts also occurred [in Afghanistan after 1996] but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship.'
Myth number two
Mohammed Atta, the leader of the hijackers, met an Iraqi agent in Prague on 9 April, 2001.
James Woolsey, the former CIA director (and a close friend of many neoconservatives), said in October 2001: 'The Czech confirmation [of the Prague meeting] seems to me very important... It is yet another lead that points toward Iraqi involvement in some sort of terrorism against the United States that ought to be followed up vigorously.'
Commission: 'Based on the evidence available - including investigations by Czech and US authorities plus detainee reporting - we do not believe that such a meeting occurred... We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda co-operated on attacks against the United States.'
Myth number three
Al-Qaeda was involved in drugs trafficking.
'[Al-Qaeda] activity includes substantial exploitation of the illegal drugs trade' - a press statement issued by the British government in October 2001
Commission: 'No persuasive evidence exists that al-Qaeda relied on the drug trade as an important source of revenue.'
Minute by minute: How the 21st century's Pearl Harbor unfolded
07.58 American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Logan airport, Boston, for LA.
08.13 After a routine instruction for Flight 11 to turn right, communication is lost.
08.14 United Airlines Flight 175 leaves Boston and begins acting erratically. This is not picked up by air traffic controllers because the controller responsible for that flight was also handling Flight 11.
08.20 American Airlines Flight 77 leaves Dulles International Airport, Washington.
08.24 The voice of Mohamed Atta confirms the flight has been hijacked.
08.37 Norad, responsible for defending North East American airspace, finally receives word of the hijacking.
08.45 American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Centre.
08.53 Two F-15 fighter jets scrambled from Otis Air Force base, 150 miles from New York.
09.00 Aviation officials realise that a second hijacked plane is heading for New York. The Federal Aviation Administration reports: 'Heads up, man, it looks like another one is coming in.'
09.03 United Airlines Flight 175 hits the south tower of the World Trade Centre.
09.05 George Bush is visiting a school in Sarasota, Florida, when he is told a second plane has hit, but he stays sitting for five minutes. He later tells the commission investigating 9/11: '[My] instinct was to project calm, not to have the country see an excited reaction at a moment of crisis'.
09.15 Bush moves to a holding room where he is briefed. Both he and his aides have no idea that other planes have been hijacked.
09.21 Aviation officials realise that American Airlines Flight 77 is missing.
09.32 US military air defence officials realise Flight 77 is only six miles - little more than a minute - from the White House. An unarmed National Guard C-130H cargo plane is scrambled.
09.42 All flights are halted by the Federal Aviation Administration.
09.43 American Airlines Flight 77 hits the Pentagon.
09.57 Fighter escorts for Air Force One leave their Florida base.
10.03 Another hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93, en route from New Jersey to San Francisco, crashes in rural Pennsylvania after passengers attack hijackers.
10.05 The south tower of the World Trade Centre collapses.
10.10 F-16 fighter jets arrive over Washington, but are not cleared to fire on airliners.
10.17 Tele-conference call under way between senior aviation and administration officals.
10.20 F-15s receive authorisation to shoot down any threatening airliner. But order never passed on to the pilots.
10.28 The World Trade Centre's north tower collapses.
10.38 US pilots receive orders from General David Wherley that they can shoot down any hijacked planes.
13.44 The Pentagon deploys five warships and two aircraft carriers to protect the East Coast from further attack. Two carriers and three frigates, armed with guided missile destroyers capable of shooting down aircraft, head for the New York coast.
23.30 Before going to sleep, President Bush writes in his diary:
'The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today... We think it's Osama bin Laden.'
Research: Mark Hudson
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
2 Jul 2004 @ 03:50 by jazzolog : Fahrenheit 9/11
I probably should devote a separate entry to this surprisingly successful (both artistically and at the box office) documentary. Many readers around the world may not have a chance to see it (and neocons have a telephone campaign to keep it out of the usual venues in the States). For the time being, I'm going to have to limit my coverage to a review by Paul Krugman in today's Times~~~
The New York Times
July 2, 2004
Moore's Public Service
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Since it opened, "Fahrenheit 9/11" has been a hit in both blue and red America, even at theaters close to military bases. Last Saturday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took his Nascar crew to see it. The film's appeal to working-class Americans, who are the true victims of George Bush's policies, should give pause to its critics, especially the nervous liberals rushing to disassociate themselves from Michael Moore.
There has been much tut-tutting by pundits who complain that the movie, though it has yet to be caught in any major factual errors, uses association and innuendo to create false impressions. Many of these same pundits consider it bad form to make a big fuss about the Bush administration's use of association and innuendo to link the Iraq war to 9/11. Why hold a self-proclaimed polemicist to a higher standard than you hold the president of the United States?
And for all its flaws, "Fahrenheit 9/11" performs an essential service. It would be a better movie if it didn't promote a few unproven conspiracy theories, but those theories aren't the reason why millions of people who aren't die-hard Bush-haters are flocking to see it. These people see the film to learn true stories they should have heard elsewhere, but didn't. Mr. Moore may not be considered respectable, but his film is a hit because the respectable media haven't been doing their job.
For example, audiences are shocked by the now-famous seven minutes, when George Bush knew the nation was under attack but continued reading "My Pet Goat" with a group of children. Nobody had told them that the tales of Mr. Bush's decisiveness and bravery on that day were pure fiction.
Or consider the Bush family's ties to the Saudis. The film suggests that Mr. Bush and his good friend Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the ambassador known to the family as Bandar Bush, have tried to cover up the extent of Saudi involvement in terrorism. This may or may not be true. But what shocks people, I think, is the fact that nobody told them about this side of Mr. Bush's life.
Mr. Bush's carefully constructed persona is that of an all-American regular guy not like his suspiciously cosmopolitan opponent, with his patrician air. The news media have cheerfully gone along with the pretense. How many stories have you seen contrasting John Kerry's upper-crusty vacation on Nantucket with Mr. Bush's down-home time at the ranch?
But the reality, revealed by Mr. Moore, is that Mr. Bush has always lived in a bubble of privilege. And his family, far from consisting of regular folks with deep roots in the heartland, is deeply enmeshed, financially and personally, with foreign elites with the Saudis in particular.
Mr. Moore's greatest strength is a real empathy with working-class Americans that most journalists lack. Having stripped away Mr. Bush's common-man mask, he uses his film to make the case, in a way statistics never could, that Mr. Bush's policies favor a narrow elite at the expense of less fortunate Americans sometimes, indeed, at the cost of their lives.
In a nation where the affluent rarely serve in the military, Mr. Moore follows Marine recruiters as they trawl the malls of depressed communities, where enlistment is the only way for young men and women to escape poverty. He shows corporate executives at a lavish conference on Iraq, nibbling on canapés and exulting over the profit opportunities, then shows the terrible price paid by the soldiers creating those opportunities.
The movie's moral core is a harrowing portrait of a grieving mother who encouraged her children to join the military because it was the only way they could pay for their education, and who lost her son in a war whose justification she no longer understands.
Viewers may come away from Mr. Moore's movie believing some things that probably aren't true. For example, the film talks a lot about Unocal's plans for a pipeline across Afghanistan, which I doubt had much impact on the course of the Afghan war. Someday, when the crisis of American democracy is over, I'll probably find myself berating Mr. Moore, who supported Ralph Nader in 2000, for his simplistic antiglobalization views.
But not now. "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a tendentious, flawed movie, but it tells essential truths about leaders who exploited a national tragedy for political gain, and the ordinary Americans who paid the price.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
2 Jul 2004 @ 04:54 by spiritseek : A true hero
I don't care what anyone else thinks about Michael Moore, I think he is one of the few standing up for America and the world. He's yelling as loud as he can that something is terribly wrong in this world and politics. Theres hard truth in the movie and the more thats gotten to the public the more who will awaken.YOU GO MIKE!!!
4 Sep 2004 @ 22:01 by jazzolog : Oedipus Wrecks: In which a family drama
That only could be a Maureen Dowd chapter heading, and sure enough there's her first interview ever (except for a group of 10-year-olds at Take Your Daughter To Work Day) to promote her new book Bushworld in the September issue of W (no relation). We are granted by the Garbo of Op-Eds one typically spare sentence from the Introduction, in which she diagnoses our President's "Oedipal loop-de-loop"~~~
"W avenged his dad, replaced his dad, made his dad proud and rebelled against his dad, all with the same war."
23 Sep 2004 @ 08:07 by jazzolog : "Not All Americans"
Maureen nails it!
The New York Times
September 23, 2004
The Prince of Tides, Tacking and Attacking
By MAUREEN DOWD
LOS ANGELES I had to come all the way to Hollywood to find Democrats who can actually sound sincere when they say John Kerry has turned a corner.
Mr. Kerry is looking for corners to turn in his campaign just as frantically as the president is looking for corners to turn in Iraq. (I rate Mr. Kerry's chances higher.) But even here, among the right's despised liberal cultural elite, some disenchanted Democrats are already lusting for the Clinton restoration in 2008.
"Kerry's always trying too hard to prove his guy-dom," one influential Democrat sighed, "while Bush comes across as more of a real guy."
Republicans back in Washington are not only mocking the spandex-coated Mr. Kerry's windsurfing video in their ads; they scoff at the notion that the wind's at his back.
"I'm not sure it's turning a corner to do Regis and Kelly," sneered one who has taken to talking about Mr. Kerry in the past tense.
The Bushies' perverse private calculation about why Mr. Kerry can't get traction would be comic if it weren't tragic: he can't effectively argue that he could do something differently in Iraq because W. has so bollixed up the place that even a change at the top wouldn't help.
"He'd never be able to get any other countries to help us," one Bush insider said. "Even the British only have 7,000 troops in Iraq, compared to our 150,000." (The London Observer reported that despite growing dangers in Iraq, the main British force will soon be cut by a third.)
Mr. Kerry has finally begun to fight back and put the focus on Iraq instead of Vietnam. His speech on Monday was compelling and, unlike W.'s toxic cotton-candy spin, has the additional advantage of being true.
Going after Saddam, as the senator says, was a diversion from our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden. We have "traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."
We have, as Mr. Kerry says, a president and vice president who are "in denial" in a fantasy world, and who are guilty of "colossal failures of judgment." W. did "hitch his wagon to the ideologues who surround him, filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders of his own party and the uniformed military."
America's credibility in the world has plummeted, as Mr. Kerry says, just at the time we have to deal with the truly scary spokes in the "axis of evil": the ones who are a real nuclear threat, not an imaginary one.
Yet Mr. Kerry's case has a hollow center. He was asked at his press conference on Tuesday about W.'s snide reminders that his rival gave him authority to go to war (and, playing frat pledge to W.'s rush chairman, inanely agreed that he would still have voted to give that authority even if there were no W.M.D.).
That vote, he replied, was correct "because we needed to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for weapons. That's what America believed."
Not all Americans.
The administration rolled the Democrats on the authorization vote. It was clear at the time that going after Saddam to punish Osama made no sense, that Cheney & Co. were going to use Saddam as a lab rat for all their old neocon agendas. It was clear, as the fleet sailed toward Iraq, that the Bush crew had no interest in diplomacy - that it wanted to castrate the flaccid U.N., the flower child Colin Powell and his pinstriped State Department, snotty Old Europe, and the despised Saddam to show that America is a hyperpower that is not to be messed with.
As I quoted a girlfriend saying in September 2002, a month before Mr. Kerry's authorization vote, "Bush is like the guy who reserves a hotel room and asks you to the prom."
When Mr. Kerry says it was the way the president went about challenging Saddam that was wrong, rather than the fact that he challenged Saddam, he's sidestepping the central moral issue.
It was wrong for the president to take on Saddam as a response to 9/11, to pretend the dictator was a threat to our national security, to drum up a fake case on weapons and a faux link to Al Qaeda, and to divert our energy, emotions and matériel from the real enemy to an old enemy whose address we knew.
It was wrong to take Americans to war without telling them the truth about why we were doing it and what it would cost.
It wasn't the way W. did it. It was what he did.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
23 Dec 2004 @ 11:39 by jazzolog : Rummie's Feelings Are Hurt
Maureen Dowd takes a look this morning at how we're doing in Iraq~~~
The New York Times
December 23, 2004
Christmas Eve of Destruction
By MAUREEN DOWD
In Iraq, as Yogi Berra would say, the future ain't what it used to be.
Now that the election's over, our leaders think it's safe to experiment with a little candor.
President Bush has finally acknowledged that the Iraqis can't hack it as far as securing their own country, which means, of course, that America has no exit strategy for its troops, who will soon number 150,000.
News organizations led with the story, even though the president was only saying something that everybody has known to be true for a year. The White House's policy on Iraq has gone from a total charade to a limited modified hangout. Mr. Bush is conceding the obvious, that the Iraqi security forces aren't perfect, so he doesn't have to concede the truth: that Iraq is now so dire no one knows how or when we can get out.
If this fiasco ever made sense to anybody, it doesn't any more.
John McCain, who lent his considerable credibility to Mr. Bush during the campaign and vouched for the president and his war, now concedes that he has no confidence in Donald Rumsfeld.
And Rummy admitted yesterday that his feelings got hurt when people accused him of being insensitive to the fact that he arrogantly sent his troops into a sinkhole of carnage - a vicious, persistent insurgency - without the proper armor, equipment, backup or preparation.
The subdued defense chief further admitted that despite all the American kids who gave their lives in Mosul on the cusp of Christmas, battling an enemy they can't see in a war fought over weapons that didn't exist, we're not heading toward the democratic halcyon Mr. Bush promised.
"I think looking for a peaceful Iraq after the elections would be a mistake," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
His disgraceful admission that his condolence letters to the families of soldiers killed in Iraq were signed by machine - "I have directed that in the future I sign each letter," he said in a Strangelovian statement - is redolent of the myopia that has led to the dystopia.
The Bushies are betting a lot on the January election, even though a Shiite-dominated government will further alienate the Sunnis - and even though Iraq may be run by an Iranian-influenced ayatollah. That would mean that Iraq would have a leadership legitimized by us to hate us.
International election observers say it's too dangerous to actually come in and monitor the vote in person; they're going to "assess" the vote from the safety of Amman, Jordan. Isn't that like refereeing a football game while sitting in a downtown bar?
The administration hopes that once the Iraqis understand they have their own government, that will be a turning point and they will realize their country is worth fighting for. But this is the latest in a long list of turning points that turn out to be cul-de-sacs.
From the capture of Saddam to the departure of Paul Bremer and the assault on Falluja, there have been many false horizons for peace.
The U.S. military can't even protect our troops when they're eating lunch in a supposedly secure space - even after the Mosul base commanders had been warned of a "Beirut-style" attack three weeks before - because the Iraqi security forces and support staff have been infiltrated by insurgency spies.
Each milestone, each thing that is supposed to enable us to get some traction and change the basic dynamic in Iraq, comes and goes without the security getting any better. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that a major U.S. contractor, Contrack International Inc., had dropped out of the multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild Iraq, "raising new worries about the country's growing violence and its effect on reconstruction."
The Bush crowd thought it could get in, get out, scare the Iranians and Syrians, and remove the bulk of our forces within several months.
But now we're in, and it's the allies, contractors and election watchdogs who want out.
Aside from his scintilla of candor, Mr. Bush is still not leveling with us. As he said at his press conference on Monday, "the enemies of freedom" know that "a democratic Iraq will be a decisive blow to their ambitions because free people will never choose to live in tyranny."
They may choose to live in a theocracy, though. Americans did.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Did anyone who watched or heard Bush's remarks about those families whose children were killed think he actually felt any sympathy at all?
27 Jan 2005 @ 10:33 by jazzolog : Maureen Dowd Is For Sale
The New York Times
January 27, 2005
Love for Sale
By MAUREEN DOWD
I'm herewith resigning as a member of the liberal media elite.
I'm joining up with the conservative media elite.
They get paid better.
First comes news that Armstrong Williams got nearly a quarter of a million from the Education Department to plug No Child Left Behind.
The families of soldiers killed in Iraq get a paltry $12,000. But good publicity? Priceless.
Mr. Williams helped out the first President Bush and Clarence Thomas during the Anita Hill scandal. Mr. Williams, who served as Mr. Thomas's personal assistant at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when the future Supreme Court justice was gutting policies that would help blacks, gleefully attacked Professor Hill, saying, "Sister has emotional problems," and telling The Wall Street Journal "there is a thin line between her sanity and insanity."
Now we learn from media reporter Howard Kurtz that syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher had a $21,500 contract from the Health and Human Services Department to work on material promoting the agency's $300 million initiative to encourage marriage. Ms. Gallagher earned her money, even praising Mr. Bush in print as a "genius" at playing "daddy" to the nation. "Mommies feel your pain," she wrote in 2002. "Daddies give you confidence that you can ignore the pain and get on with life."
Genius? Not so much. Spendthrift? Definitely. W.'s administration was running up his astounding deficit paying "journalists" to do what they would be happy to do for free - just to be friends with benefits, getting access that tougher scribes are denied. Consider Charles Krauthammer, who went to the White House on Jan. 10 for what The Washington Post termed a "consultation" on the inaugural speech and then praised the Jan. 20th address on Fox News as "revolutionary," said Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group.
I still have many Christmas bills to pay. So I'd like to send a message to the administration: THIS SPACE AVAILABLE. I could write about the strong dollar and the shrinking deficit. Or defend Torture Boy, I mean, the esteemed and sage Alberto Gonzales. Or remind readers of the terrific job Condi Rice did coordinating national security before 9/11 - who could have interpreted a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" as a credible threat? - not to mention her indefatigable energy obscuring information undercutting the vice president's dementia on Iraq.
My preference is to get a contract with Rummy. It would be cost effective, compared with the latest $80 billion he needs to train more Iraqi security forces to be blown up. For half a mil, I could write a doozy of a column promoting Rummy's phantasmagoric policies.
What is all this hand-wringing about the 31 marines who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq yesterday? It's only slightly more than the number of people who died in traffic accidents in California last Memorial Day. The president set the right tone, avoiding pathos when asked about the crash. "Obviously," he said, "any time we lose life it is a sad moment."
Who can blame Rummy for carrying out policies of torture? We're in an information age. Information is power. If people are not giving you the intelligence you want, you have to customize to get the intelligence you want to hear.
That's why Rummy also had to twist U.S. laws to secretly form his own C.I.A. A Pentagon memo said Rummy's recruited agents could include "notorious figures," whose ties to the U.S. would be embarrassing if revealed, according to The Washington Post. Why shouldn't a notorious figure like Rummy recruit notorious figures?
I could write a column denouncing John McCain for trying to call hearings into Rummy's new spy unit, suggesting the senator is just jealous because Rummy's sexy enough to play James Bond.
The president might need my help as well. He looked out of it yesterday when asked why his foreign policy is so drastically different from the one laid out in Foreign Affairs magazine in 2000 by Ms. Rice - a preview that did not emphasize promoting democracy and liberty around the world. "I didn't read the article," Mr. Bush said.
Why should he? Robert McNamara never read the Pentagon Papers. Why should W. bone up on his own foreign policy?
Freedom means the freedom to be free from reading what you promise voters and other stuff. I could make that case - if the price was right.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
31 Mar 2005 @ 09:16 by jazzolog @188.8.131.52 : That Dick Cheney Sense of Humor!
The New York Times
March 31, 2005
I Spy a Screw-Up
By MAUREEN DOWD
Like the new Woody Allen movie, "Melinda and Melinda," it is possible to view today's big story on the tremendous intelligence failures before the Iraq war as either comedy or tragedy, depending on how you look at it.
For instance, on the comic side, The Times reported yesterday (Bush Views New Report on Spy Lapses With Favor By DAVID E. SANGER and DAVID JOHNSTON http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/30/politics/30weapons.html )
that administration officials were relieved that the new report by a presidential commission had "found no evidence that political pressure from the White House or Pentagon contributed to the mistaken intelligence."
As necessity is the mother of invention, political pressure was the father of conveniently botched intelligence.
Dick Cheney and the neocons at the Pentagon started with the conclusion they wanted, then massaged and manipulated the intelligence to back up their wishful thinking.
As The New Republic reported, Mr. Cheney lurked at the C.I.A. in the summer of 2002, an intimidating presence for young analysts. And Douglas Feith set up the Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon as a shadow intelligence agency to manufacture propaganda bolstering the administration's case.
The Office of Special Plans turned to the con man Ahmad Chalabi to come up with the evidence they needed. The Iraqi National Congress obliged with information that has now been debunked as exaggerated or fabricated. One gem was the hard-drinking relative of a Chalabi aide, a secret source code-named Curveball, who claimed to verify the mobile weapons labs.
Mr. Cheney and his "Gestapo office," as Colin Powell called it, then shoehorned all their meshugas about Saddam's aluminum tubes, weapons labs, drones and Al Qaeda links into Mr. Powell's U.N. speech.
The former secretary of state spent four days and three nights at the C.I.A. before making the presentation, trying to vet the material, because he knew that Mr. Cheney, who had an idée fixe about Saddam, was trying to tap into his credibility and use him as a battering ram.
He told Germany's Stern magazine that he was "furious and angry" that he had been given bum information about Iraq's arsenal: "Some of the information was wrong. I did not know this at the time."
The vice president and the neocons were in a fever to bypass the C.I.A. and conjure up a case to attack Saddam, even though George Tenet was panting to be of service. When Mr. Tenet put out the new National Intelligence Estimate on Oct. 2, 2002, nine days before the Senate vote on the war resolution and after our troops and aircraft carriers were getting into position for battle, there was one key change: suddenly the agency agreed with Mr. Cheney that Iraq was pursuing the atomic bomb.
Charles Robb, the former senator and governor of Virginia, and Laurence Silberman, a hard-core conservative appeals court judge, headed the commission. Unlike Tom Kean, Judge Silberman held secret meetings; he made sure the unpleasantness wouldn't come up until Mr. Bush had won re-election.
It is laughable that the report offers its most scorching criticism of the C.I.A. when the C.I.A. was simply doing what the White House and Pentagon wanted. Isn't that why Mr. Tenet was given the Medal of Freedom? (Freedom from facts.)
The hawks don't want to learn any lessons here. If they had to do it again, they'd do it the same way. The imaginary weapons and Osama link were just a marketing tool and shiny distraction, something to keep the public from crying while they went to war for reasons unrelated to any nuclear threat.
The 9/11 attacks gave the neocons an opening for their dreams of remaking the Middle East, and they drove the Third Infantry Division through it.
The president planned to announce today that he would put into place many of the commission's recommendations, including an interagency center on proliferation designed to play down turf battles among intelligence agencies.
As Michael Isikoff and Dan Klaidman reported in Newsweek, in the three and a half years since 9/11, the intelligence agencies still haven't learned how to share what they know. At the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, the Homeland Security guy complained he was frozen out by the F.B.I. and C.I.A.
Like "Melinda and Melinda," the other side of this wacky saga is deadly serious. There are, after all, more than 1,500 dead American soldiers, Al Qaeda terrorists on the loose and real nuclear-bomb programs in Iran and North Korea that we know nothing about. No laughs there.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
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