USS 'Cole' bombers tunnel out of Yemeni jail
By Kim Sengupta 07 February 2006

A major international hunt is under way for 23 al-Qa'ida activists who escaped from their prison in Yemen by digging a 460ft tunnel to emerge in the woman's section of a mosque.

Interpol has issued a global security alert warning that the escapers - including men who had carried out attacks on the American warship USS Cole and the French oil tanker Limburg - were a "clear and present danger to all countries".
The jailbreak was seen as a significant propaganda coup for Islamist groups and a severe blow to Yemen's attempts to portray itself as a strong ally of the West in the "war on terror".

Guards at the high-security prison, which also served as the military intelligence headquarters, were being questioned by police.

There is widespread suspicion that the audacious escape could not have succeeded without the help of officials in Yemen, the country Osama bin Laden's family came from.

The news of the escape came as 15 other alleged Islamists went on trial in Yemen on terrorism charges and as reports emerged of increasing presence of Islamist fighters in the region.

Yemen was long regarded as a haven for Muslim militants and had seen a series of abductions of foreigners by armed gangs. Following the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the US, facing an ultimatum from Washington, the Yemeni government announced it was cracking down on extremists and carried out a number of arrests.

Diplomats in the capital, Sanaa, spoke of "serious errors" that allowed the escape to take place and the probable culpability of Yemeni officials. Opposition parties blamed the government. Ali al-Safari of the Communist Party said: "Nobody, not even al-Qa'ida, could have done this alone." Mohammed al-Sabri, of the Nasserite Party, added: "This is a serious setback and puts the country in a very embarrassing position. This has implications not just for Yemen, but all countries in the region."

Among the fugitives were Jamal al- Badawi, Fawaz al-Rabihi and Abu Assem al-Ahdal. Badawi was convicted of bombing the USS Colefive years ago, in which 17 sailors were killed.

Last year Badawi's death sentence was commuted to 15 years' imprisonment. This was his second jailbreak. He had escaped while awaiting trial in 2003 and was subsequently recaptured.

Rabihi was sentenced to death over the attack on the Limburg two years ago when a Bulgarian crew member was killed and 90,000 barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Aden. Ahdal is believed to be al-Qa'ida's deputy leader in Yemen.

The prisoners are thought to have made their way out of the mosque on Thursday night and then used the cover of worshippers leaving after Friday prayers to disappear.

The secretary general of Interpol, Ronald Noble, asked the Yemen government to provide any relevant information to law enforcement agencies in other countries. He said that unless they were caught soon "they will be able to travel internationally and to ... engage in future terrorist activities".
Comment: This should bring some interesting developments since many "connected" people have been saying for some time that Al-Qaida was not involved, that it was Israel's MOSSAD that pulled off the USS Cole attack to blame it on Muslim extremists.

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Flashback: USS Cole Bombers Sentenced to Death
BBC 29 Sept 04

A Yemeni court has sentenced two men to death over the bomb attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 people in 2000.

Suspected ringleader Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is currently in US custody, and Jamal Mohammed al-Badawi, were both given the death penalty.

Four others were given between five and 10 years in jail for the attack, blamed on Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
In October 2000, two attackers rammed the destroyer with a small boat laden with explosives in the port of Aden.


The defendants cried out "Allahu Akbar" [God is great] when the sentence was delivered.

"This is an unjust verdict, this is an American verdict," yelled Badawi, a Yemeni in his 30s.

His brother told the Associated Press news agency that all the men were likely to appeal against their sentences.

Saudi-born Nashiri was the only defendant not in court in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

He is being held in an undisclosed location by the US, after he was arrested in the United Arab Emirates in October 2002 and handed over to Washington.

He has been described as al-Qaeda's chief of naval operations at the time and its operations chief in the Gulf.

US officials say he is a close to bin Laden, and suspect him of involvement in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Suicide bombers

Fahd al-Qusaa, who the court heard filmed the USS Cole attack, was given 10 years in jail.

Maamoun Msouh was given eight years for helping fund the attack and assisting Badawi.

Ali Mohamed Saleh and Murad al-Sirouri were both sentenced to five years in prison for forging identification documents for one of the suicide bombers.

Some of the suspects escaped from a Yemeni jail in a break-out in May 2003, but were later re-captured.

Seventeen US sailors were killed and at least 40 people were wounded in the attack, which took place as the USS Cole was refuelling on 12 October 2000.

The Yemeni suicide bombers, Ibrahim al-Thawr and Abdullah al-Misawa, packed their small boat with up to 500lb (225 kg) of high explosives, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the Cole.

The Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer was considered one of the US Navy's most advanced warships. It has since been repaired and is back in service.

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Flashback: The USS Cole bombing against the backdrop of Israeli "Black Propaganda" Operations
by Michael Gillespie 2000

Many in the Arab and Muslim communities in the United States are inclined to suppose that Israel may be responsible for the terror-bombing of the USS Cole in the Yemen port city of Aden on October 13. Although few Americans would suspect Israel, a trusted U.S. ally, of such a dastardly act, they may well be wrong while better informed and more experienced Arab and Muslim observers may be correct.

The Israeli intelligence agencies have a long history of carrying out what have been called "black propaganda" operations. Such covert actions are designed to create suspicion and inflame animosity between Israel's perceived enemies in the Middle East and Americans.

While Israel's deadly surprise attack on the USS Liberty on June 6, 1967, is now widely viewed as having been carried out for the purpose of keeping the USS Liberty's electronic monitoring capabilities from uncovering and reporting to Washington on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)'s military preparations in advance of the attack on the Golan Heights, which would have allowed the Johnson administration to apply diplomatic pressure to forestall the IDF's aggression against Syria, there are many other clear examples of Israeli intelligence agencies engaging in "black propaganda" for the purpose of damaging the public image of Arabs and Arab states and organizations and fomenting trouble between Arabs and Arab states and organizations and the U.S. government.
Lets look at just three examples. The hi-jacking of the Italian cruise ship the Achille Lauro by "Palestinian terrorists" was later reliably reported by former IDF arms dealer Ari Ben-Menashe in his 1992 book, Profits of War: Inside the Secret U.S.-Israeli Arms Network, to have been ordered and funded by Mossad.

Ben-Menashe revealed that Israeli intelligence organizations regularly engaged in "black operations," espionage activity designed to portray Palestinians and others in the worst possible light.

"An example," wrote Ben-Menashe, "is the case of the 'Palestinian' attack on the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985. That was, in fact, an Israeli 'black' propaganda operation to show what a deadly, cutthroat bunch the Palestinians were."

According to Ben-Menashe, Israeli spymasters arranged the attack through "Abu'l Abbas, who, to follow such orders was receiving millions from Israeli intelligence officers posing as Sicilian dons. Abbas . . . gathered a team to attack the cruise ship. The team was told to make it bad, to show the world what lay in store for other unsuspecting citizens if Palestinian demands were not met. As the world knows, the group picked on an elderly American Jewish man in a wheelchair, killed him, and threw his body overboard. They made their point. But for Israel, it was the best kind of anti- Palestinian propaganda."

It should be noted that in April 1996, Abbas returned to Gaza and in a show of support for Yasser Arafat apologized for the hi-jacking and the killing of the American Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer without mentioning him by name, saying, "The hi-jacking was a mistake, and there were no orders to kill civilians." Abbas made no mention of Mossad involvement in the hi-jacking according to the April 23, 1996 Associated Press report.

The attack by over 150 U.S. warplanes on Libya, on April 14, 1986, which caused great destruction and over 40 civilian deaths including that of Col. Qaddafi's adopted daughter, was carried out only after Mossad field agents entered Libya in February of 1986 and placed a "Trojan" radio transmitter there to broadcast false signals, according to former Mossad field officer Victor Ostrovsky writing in The Other Side of Deception: A Rogue Agent Exposes the Mossad's Secret Agenda in 1994. The spurious signals duped American intelligence officials monitoring the broadcasts causing them to believe the Libyan government was sponsoring terrorism in Europe and was responsible for the deadly April 5, 1986, terror-bombing of the La Belle discotheque in Berlin which took the lives of two American soldiers and a Turkish woman.

Reports that Spanish and French intelligence agencies were not fooled by the Israeli "Trojan" transmitter broadcasts lend credence to suggestions that American intelligence officials may have been unable to resist political pressure for retaliation or perhaps exercised judgment that was influenced by Israeli sympathies.

If, as it appears, Libya was not responsible for the bombing of the Berlin night spot and the loss of three lives, the question of who was remains unanswered, as does another obvious question: Was it the Mossad?

Ostrovsky also revealed Israeli espionage that occurred on American soil, in Washington, DC. in 1979. In his scathing 1990 expose, By Way of Deception: A Devastating Insiders Portrait of the Mossad, Ostrovsky reported that Mossad agents bugged the home of a Middle Eastern diplomat during the administration of Jimmy Carter in order to embarrass the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, after Young sought to establish informal talks with PLO representatives.

When Young met with the unofficial United Nations PLO representative Zehdi Labib Terzi "accidentally" in the home of a friendly diplomat, Kuwaiti Ambassador Abdalla Yaccoub Bishara, listening devices planted surreptitiously and without Terzi's knowledge by Mossad field officers recorded every word of the diplomats conversation.

The incident soon became front-page news in the Zionists' most prominent U.S. propaganda organ, The New York Times, and President Carter caved in to public pressure and asked for Young's resignation. Thus, that early effort to establish relations between the U.S. government and the PLO became a footnote in history when, on September 23, 1979, Young resigned from his position. Young, an African American, has never since served in the upper levels of government.

Quite apparently, the Mossad and other Israeli intelligence organizations have long enjoyed the ability to operate more or less freely in the United States and around the world. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attempted to rein in Israel's intelligence organizations activities in the USA with an investigation of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in the early 1990s.

The ADL, which is nothing less than the Mossad's right arm in the U.S.A. disguised as a civil rights monitoring organization, was forced to curtail its operations for a period of time during the 1990s following the limited success of the investigation, which the FBI, bowing to political pressures, passed on to the Office of the San Francisco District Attorney. Press accounts of the FBI/SFDA investigation were limited relative to the obvious importance of the story, and some major American news organizations simply ignored the ADL spy scandal altogether.

The remarkable effectiveness of Israel's current propaganda campaign against Palestinians makes it abundantly clear that Israel's intelligence assets in mainstream broadcast news organizations, most of which are subsidiaries of Zionist-owned or managed entertainment industry conglomerates, are able to exert consistent and heavy influence on, if not absolute control over, the public discussion here in the USA and abroad about almost all matters related to Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East.

Sadly, it is all too true, as Charlie Reese, a lonely voice of reasoned outrage at the Orlando Sentinel, recently wrote: "Palestinians won't get their freedom until Americans get theirs."

Let us all hope that the president-elect of the United States, George W. Bush, has not forgotten that renegade Mossad officers cooked up a crack-pot plan to assassinate a former U.S. president--his own father--in 1991 at the Madrid peace conference after the senior Bush was courageous enough to try to pressure the government of Israel to end the establishment of illegal settlements on Palestinian lands by withholding approval of $10 billion dollars worth of loan guarantees for Israel. It is widely reported that the Bush family places a premium on loyalty. Perhaps the new president will have noted that Israel has been anything but a loyal ally of the United States of America and will be able to make some appropriate and long overdue adjustments in U.S. Middle East foreign policy, regardless of what domestic political pressures may demand in the way of a public facade.

Freelance Investigative Journalist and Commentator Michael Gillespie writes about Politics and Media for Media Monitors Network (MMN). His work also appears frequently in the popular Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
Comment: The final paragraph, written before 9-11, is quite interesting for a number of reasons:

Let us all hope that the president-elect of the United States, George W. Bush, has not forgotten that renegade Mossad officers cooked up a crack-pot plan to assassinate a former U.S. president--his own father--in 1991 at the Madrid peace conference after the senior Bush was courageous enough to try to pressure the government of Israel to end the establishment of illegal settlements on Palestinian lands by withholding approval of $10 billion dollars worth of loan guarantees for Israel. It is widely reported that the Bush family places a premium on loyalty. Perhaps the new president will have noted that Israel has been anything but a loyal ally of the United States of America and will be able to make some appropriate and long overdue adjustments in U.S. Middle East foreign policy, regardless of what domestic political pressures may demand in the way of a public facade.

So much for that hope. It has since become abundantly clear that the son is NOT the father, and if MOSSAD thought that there was any chance of Dubya changing the rules, they sure got him over the barrel on 9-11. Read Laura's new book: 9-11: The Ultimate Truth for the scoop.

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Flashback: Head investigator of the USS Cole attack John O'Neill dies in WTC Attack

He had been with the FBI for 20 yrs and involved in a number of terrorist cases from the 1993 WTC bombing and others. He was considered the FBI’s top man on terrorism. In the late 1990’s he became very attuned to Israel’s involvement in many terror operation.

Following the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, he had become the foremost expert on the global threat from terrorism. He suspected Abu Nidal as a Mossad operative and openly talked about it with other field agents.

Barbara Bodine, who is Jewish was the ambassador for Yemen. When the USS Cole was attacked the FBI sent a team led by John O’Neill who immediately suspected Israel. Bodine started an intense political battle to oust O’Neill.

Bodine wanted to control the investigation and resented the fact that suddenly there were hundreds of FBI personnel in the country.

Albright provided a handful of State Department personnel to watch the investigation. Albright and Bodine panicked as O’Neill investigation points to Israel

Albright complained to upper echelons of the FBI about O'Neill. Bodine wanted O'Neill to drop bodyguards and he became suspicious of Mossad assassination.

Bodine and Madeleine Albright finally went to the Jewish FBI Director, Louis Freeh, to remove John O'Neill from Yemen.

Then January 2001 came, and O'Neill wanted to go back to Yemen. But Ambassador Bodine wouldn't give him clearance. In July 2001 O’Neill resigned from the FBI.

In Sept he got a job offer from a Larry Silverstein (owner WTC). Oddly O'Neill was missing for two days before 9/11 – miraculously his body was discover in tact in the WTC ruins.

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Flashback: Iraq - Bin Laden USS Cole bomb link
Julian Borger in Washington The Guardian Thursday October 19, 2000

Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-terrorist operations and a respected expert on Middle Eastern terrorism, said the timing, location and method of the attack - the sophistication of the bomb - an estimated 272kg of high explosive shaped and placed within a metal container to channel the blast and penetrate the armoured hull of the USS Cole - suggested the involvement of a state.
Investigators in Yemen yesterday uncovered evidence suggesting the bomb attack on the warship USS Cole had been a meticulously organised conspiracy, which a leading US terrorism expert said may have been the first joint operation between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Under an overcast sky at the Norfolk naval base in Virginia, President Clinton led thousands of US servicemen in mourning the 17 victims of last week's blast, as the state department warned that more attacks against US citizens could be on the way in the Middle East or Turkey.

In Aden, Yemeni police and FBI agents were examining a flat apparently rented by the bomb makers four days before the attack. Bomb-making materials were found in the flat, which was rented by two non-Yemeni Arabs, at least one of whom had a Gulf accent, local residents said. They kept a fibre glass boat parked nearby.

It was not clear whether the missing suspects were the two men who manoeuvred their small boat alongside the USS Cole and blew themselves up, or whether they were technicians spirited out of the country after the attack.

Paying tribute to the Cole victims, Mr Clinton said: "To those who attacked them we say: You will not find a safe harbour. We will find you and justice will prevail. America will not stop standing guard for peace, for freedom or stability in the Middle East or around the world."

Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-terrorist operations and a respected expert on Middle Eastern terrorism, said the timing, location and method of the attack pointed to Bin Laden's terrorist network, al-Qaeda. He said it was the only group in the area which has issued a fatwa (a religiously inspired death sentence) against US and British citizens.

Bin Laden, a Saudi national based in Afghanistan, has Yemeni family roots and close links with some of the local tribal warlords. A few weeks before the attack, he distributed a video in which he issued familiar calls for a holy war against the "forces of evil". He was wearing Yemeni tribal costume and a Yemeni dagger.

"He's puckish like that. On one hand he does not want to give out his address, but on the other hand, he likes to let his followers know he is leading the fight," Mr Cannistraro said.

He argued that the sophistication of the bomb - an estimated 272kg of high explosive shaped and placed within a metal container to channel the blast and penetrate the armoured hull of the USS Cole - suggested the involvement of a state.

"The Iraqis have wanted to be able to carry out terrorism for some time now," Mr Cannistraro said. "Their military people have had liaison with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and could well have supplied the training."

He said the theory was still speculative but was consistent with the series of recent contacts between Baghdad and the Bin Laden organisation.

Harvey Kushner, a terrorism expert at Long Island University, said there was reason to believe Bin Laden had been investigating ways of launching attacks by sea. "He's been looking around for small, personal submarines. One of his relatives in the United States had an order in for one of these personal submarines, and it was stopped," Mr Kushner said.

Other terrorism experts agreed the boat bomb was a significant technical advance on earlier terrorist attacks, such as the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania two years ago.

The bodies of six of the US sailors killed in the blast were still being extracted from the wreckage left by the blast, which punched a 12-metre hole in the ship.

Investigators in Aden were studying video surveillance tapes of the port from the hours leading up to the attack.

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USS Cole Attack: Practice run for the coming Iran 'False Flag'

To start the war on Iran, Israel will probably stage a 'False Flag' attack on the US fleet in the Persian Gulf. After the initial attack, the war will quickly escalate.

This website attempts to explain the technique used to attack the USS Cole, and how it was a 'Test Run' for a possible upcoming attack on a carrier that is based in Bahrain.

What happened

On 2000, the USS Cole was sent to Yemen to refuel, and it was struck by a small boat that had a massive explosive charge. Normally, these ships are refueled at sea by oil tankers, but someone in the Pentagon ok'ed this.

Who would send a high-tech ship into Yemen - alone - with anti-American feelings running rampant there?

The Attack Vehicle

A SEPTAR (Sea Borne Powered Target) was used.

Only a sophisticated small craft could attack the USS Cole

Shape Charges

Experts all confirmed that the massive damage, the Cole received, required a shape charge or missile.

Western intelligence operatives feel there is no way that a group of stray terrorists, would have the technical knowledge, the shape charge, or the detailed intelligence on the Cole's arrival, to carry out such an attack like that.

Thus, experts conclude that professional intelligence operatives, were the only ones who could have carried out this operation. The Mossad is the world's foremost intelligence agency, when it comes to staging terror attacks, and they have a long history of doing cunning false-flag terror attacks, that appear to be things other than what they really are.


The amount of damage, implies the boat was specially constructed with the shape charge and barrel built into the hull. This wasn't two Arabs in their backyard. Only a specialist state, like Israel, has the access and specialization to conjure up attack methods like this for terror.


The Cole had just arrived and was docking. This means the attackers had inside intel and the operation was pre-planned.


Defense Sec Cohen sent the USS Cole into Yemen.

Tommy Franks,who is Jewish, was in charge of the area

Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, was called before an angry committee about the Cole. They wanted to know who negotiated the contract to refuel Navy ships at Aden. He said the decision to refuel in Yemen, which is designated as a "safe haven for terrorists" in the State Department's annual report on terrorism, was based on "operational as well as geo-strategic factors and included an assessment of the terrorist and conventional threats in the region."

Yemen's President Ali Abdallah Salih

In an interview President Salih said: ..."That Israel might be responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole."

O'Neill Sent To Investigate

O’Neill was considered a top-notch investigator, and was known for his pugnacity. He was barred by U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, from that country. That dispute reportedly involved a struggle between the State Department, which sought to preserve relations with Yemen, and the FBI, represented by O’Neill, who wanted access to Yemeni suspects.

Bodine blocked investigation

O'Neill was a little too competent of an investigator, and things were pointing to Israel. That's when the US Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, had O'Neill barred from that country. from that country.

Albright jumped on the USS Cole bandwagon.

It appeared that Albright helped Bodine, by appealing to Louie Freeh, FBI director, to remove O'Neill.

Obviously, the Cole attack was meant to create animosity towards Arabs, and to also act as a dry run for an upcoming Persian Gulf false flag attack.

Sec. Cohen would have you believe this attack was a couple of angry Arabs that happened to have a box of dynamite in their garage, who decided to take out an Aegis-class cruiser. The Cole attack involved Pentagon moles co-operating with Israel, to carry it out.

With the Cole attack, you needed to be able to direct the ship into Yemen - have the equipment ready - access to shape charges - have an ingenious small high-speed boat that could stand a chance against a very trained crew on a heavily-armed state-of-the-art military vessel, etc.

This leads us to believe that an initial false-flag attack, might be an Israeli attack on the fleet as it is anchored in Bahrain.

As the US retaliates, Iran will be at full alert while the fleet tries to escape. The real battle will be in the Straights of Hormuz and could escalate to a Nuclear retaliation.
Comment: Notice the remarks about "shape charges" and think a minute. If you go to the page linked to view the graphics, you will see the damage done to the USS Cole. Where else have we seen damage of that shape and size???

A nice, deep hole about 13/14 feet in diameter...

Penetrated through a steel hull Navy ship...

Take your time...

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Egyptian Ferry Disaster: Does Mysterious Fire Point to Sabotage?
Judicial-inc. Feb 2006

The Official Story

'Witnesses' say the ship caught fire minutes after leaving port, but the Captain sailed on for two hours as the fire blazed. Other anonymous witnesses say the Captain commandeered the first lifeboat, as women and children stood by.

The ferry sailed on for two hours listing to the side. Then it just went onto its side, and within five minutes it had sunk.

The Story Is Too Convoluted To Be Believed

The ship caught fire within minutes of leaving Duba, but the Captain sailed on. When the fire got out of control, the Captain commandeered a lifeboat, and the ship developed a mysterious list, and quickly rolled over.

This is set in the same tone as Egyptair 990, where NY newspapers said a pilot went insane, and dove a Boeing 767 into the ocean, as he screamed "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar" (God is great).

What Really Happened

The Israeli Mossad probably loaded a truck full of phosphorus and magnesium, which are extremely difficult to put out, onto the ferry. They used this to start a massive fire when the ship was between ports. This was most likely used in conjunction with a small bomb, near a boiler, on the starboard side.

Israel had ships in the area, but Egypt told them to stay away. The ship had recently had maintenance work done to it in an Israeli port. Crew members battled the blaze, but it kept reigniting, they said.

Wash Post report: "Ahmed, the maintenance crewman, said he fought fire with sea water pumped into the ship through hoses. The fire would go out and revive, Ahmed said. "We couldn't figure out the cause," he added in a low murmur."

The ship developed a list, and within minutes it rolled over.

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Survivors Say Egyptian Ferry Was on Fire Before Sinking: Fire was impossible to extinguish!
By Daniel Williams Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, February 5, 2006

Ahmed, the maintenance crewman, said he fought fire with sea water pumped into the ship through hoses. The fire would go out and revive, Ahmed said. "We couldn't figure out the cause," he added in a low murmur.

The long battle against inextinguishable flames had a fatal consequence, Ahmed concluded: "The water wasn't draining. Pumps weren't working right."
HURGHADA, Egypt, Feb. 4 -- The smell of oily smoke reached the passenger deck of the Alsalam Boccaccio 98, and engineering student Isra Ibrahim Abdul-Rahman asked the crew what was amiss.

Crew members said it was just a little fire down below.

We're taking care of it, they said.

Later, there was more smoke, more questions, more reassurances.

Finally, around 1 a.m. Friday, black smoke billowed from the ferry's vehicle deck and the Boccaccio 98 began to list to the right. Desperately, the crew and captain ordered passengers to gather on the left.

In a matter of minutes, the ship sank in the Red Sea. Passengers and crew -- about 1,400 people, in all, officials said -- threw themselves overboard and scrambled to find rubber dinghies drifting in the roiling waters. None of the 10 larger lifeboats, each of which could hold 100 people, was lowered into the water.

"The crew and captain never said abandon ship. They kept reassuring us until the end. By then, it was every passenger for himself," said Abdul-Rahman, who was convalescing here Saturday from a harrowing night at sea.

Abdul-Rahman was one of about 400 survivors. About 200 bodies have been retrieved from the sea. Another 800 people are missing and probably dead, Egyptian authorities said. At least 20 of the passengers were children.

It was a preventable disaster, survivors said Saturday. Passengers and crew members interviewed at Hurghada General Hospital, which overlooks the sea, said that the fire and efforts to put it out eventually caused the sinking but that there had been plenty of time to turn back before the ship went down.

Flames broke out less than two hours after the ferry, a 35-year-old vessel owned by El Salam Maritime Transport Co., had set out from the Saudi port of Duba. The captain insisted on heading west toward his destination on Egypt's shore, Safaga. For several hours, the ship continued to sail as fires flared repeatedly. Within 60 miles of the Egyptian coast, it sank.

"If we had only gone back to Saudi Arabia," said Abdul Rahman, 17, with a sigh as she huddled under a hospital blanket. She was returning to Egypt from a visit to her father, who works, like thousands of Egyptians, in oil-wealthy Saudi Arabia.

"The captain's word is law," said Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed, a maintenance crew member who was told to help put out the flames. The captain, identified by Ahmed and others as Sayyed Omar, was seen jumping overboard as the Boccaccio 98 listed.

During the ordeal, survivors said, no one received instructions for inflating the rubber life rafts, which hold about 25 passengers and were contained in buoyant barrels. Egyptian rescuers took up to 18 hours to pick up some of the survivors. The sinking was not announced until 12 hours after the ship had lost contact with land.

Ahmed, the maintenance crewman, said he fought fire with sea water pumped into the ship through hoses. The fire would go out and revive, Ahmed said. "We couldn't figure out the cause," he added in a low murmur.

The long battle against inextinguishable flames had a fatal consequence, Ahmed concluded: "The water wasn't draining. Pumps weren't working right."

Tamer Fikreh Hakim, a ship restaurant worker, said: "Drains were blocked by cargo. The ship was filling up."

In effect, the pair said, the Boccaccio 98 sank itself.

As smoke grew heavier, passengers milled on the upper deck, and some quarreled with crew members about whether to don life jackets. "Some crew said, just relax, go to your room," said Shabaan Ragat Shabaan, a driver who worked in Saudi Arabia during the annual Islamic pilgrimage season and was on his way home to Alexandria.

Eventually, most people put on vests, added Ashraf Sayyed Mohamed, another driver. "They couldn't stop us," he said. "People began to panic."

As smoke began to visibly pour from the rear of the ship, "everyone was running around asking what to do. The captain said nothing. The crew, though, they began to put on life jackets, too," Mohamed said.

"We're not foolish," said Abdul-Rahman. "All the people rushed to the deck and begged the captain to turn back. He refused. He contacted no one. He was crazy!"

When the ship rolled to the right, people began to shout, "It's tilting, it's tilting," witnesses said. "We of the crew know that if the ship leans 20 degrees, it's finished. It took only a few minutes. The captain told everyone to go to port side, but it meant nothing," said Hakim, the waiter.

Then passengers tumbled into the Red Sea.

Abdul-Rahman, wearing the black robes of pious Muslim women, bobbed in her life vest until she spotted a dinghy. "Some of the people knew how to inflate them. You know, pulling a strap and all that," she said.

The drivers Shabaan and Mohamed, who are both 36, swam to a raft inflated by a crew member. They saw one lifeboat afloat upside down; desperate passengers tried to turn it over. They failed. "I began to see some bodies face down," said Shabaan.

Hakim clung to a railing as the ship went down, waiting for the water to rise closer before leaping into the sea. People who were sliding off grabbed his legs and scratched his face. "They were pulling me. I held on and asked God for strength," he said in the hospital, his cheeks and knees marked with abrasions.

In the water, he joined Ahmed, 32, the maintenance crewman, and more than 20 others aboard a dinghy. They were soon overwhelmed by 30 more people, and the dinghy began to sink. Fikreh Hakim, 29, said "the passengers were up to their necks in water" when he spied a floating barrel, swam to it and inflated another raft.

Abdul-Rahman said she saw a ship pass close enough to help not long after the sinking. "But it didn't stop," she said. "Only God was looking out for me or anyone."

When found, the survivors' rafts were pulled toward Egyptian naval ships and boats sent by El Salam Maritime. Survivors were treated at the hospital in Hurghada, a nearby military hospital and one in Safaga, 30 miles south.

In their ward, the drivers made plans for returning to Saudi Arabia. "What can we do?" Shabaan said. "There's no real money in Egypt." The equivalent of a few dollars lay on a bed stand next to him, drying.

Hakim, who was spitting up phlegm and water, was evidently worried about his reputation. "Tell them," he called across the ward to Ahmed, "that the crew helped the passengers."

A message on El Salam's Web site denied that the captain and top officers escaped by lifeboat and abandoned passengers. The officers "are until this moment missing either dead or alive," the statement said. "None of the lifeboats have been used to evacuate passengers or crew members since the vessel listed and capsized. Only life rafts have been used for the passenger evacuation." Company officials said the search for survivors will go on.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Saturday that he was following the rescue operation closely, the official MENA news agency reported. There was no immediate government explanation for the late announcement of the sinking or for the initial rejection of British and U.S. help. Egyptian officials at first turned down a British offer to divert a warship to the scene and a U.S. Navy offer to send a P-3 Orion maritime patrol plane, wire services reported.

Then Egypt requested both the Orion and the warship be sent, but called off the ship, deciding it was too far away, said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown of the U.S. 5th Fleet, headquartered in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain.

Mubarak ordered his government to pay about $5,200 in compensation to the family of each of the dead and about half that to each survivor.

At about the same time as the announcement, hundreds of relatives and friends of the missing stormed the port of Safaga in hopes of forcing authorities to provide information. During an all-night vigil, they had only been read a passenger list.

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Intel Expert Says 9-11 Looks Like A Hollywood Show
By Christopher Bollyn December 16, 2001

European Spooks Say Mideast Terrorists Needed State Support

“European intelligence experts dismiss the Bush ‘war on terrorism’ as deception and reveal the realpolitik behind the bombing of Afghanistan.”

BERLIN — In Germany, where war plans for Afghanistan were already being discussed in July [2001] and where several of the “Arab hijackers” lived and studied, intelligence experts say the terror attacks of Sept. 11 could not have been carried out without the support of a state secret service.

Eckehardt Werthebach, former president of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, Verfassungsschutz, told American Free Press that “the deathly precision” and “the magnitude of planning” behind the attacks would have needed “years of planning.”

Such a sophisticated operation, Werthebach said, would require the “fixed frame” of a state intelligence organization, something not found in a “loose group” of terrorists like the one allegedly led by Mohammed Atta while he studied in Hamburg.
Many people would have been involved in the planning of such an operation and Werthebach pointed to the absence of leaks as further indication that the attacks were “state organized actions.”

Andreas von Bülow served on the parliamentary commission which oversees the three branches of the German secret service while a member of the Bundestag (German parliament) from 1969 to 1994, and wrote a book Im Namendes Staates (“In the Name of the State”) on the criminal activities of secret services, including the CIA.

Von Bülow told AFP that he believes that the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, is behind the Sept. 11 terror attacks. These attacks, he said, were carried out to turn public opinion against the Arabs and boost military and security spending.

“You don’t get the higher echelons,” von Bülow said, referring to the “architectural structure” which masterminds such terror attacks. At this level, he said, the organization doing the planning, such as Mossad, is primarily interested in affecting public opinion.

The architectural level planners use corrupt “guns for hire” such as Abu Nidal, the Palestinian terrorist who von Bülow called “an instrument of Mossad,” high-ranking Stasi (former East German secret service) operatives, or Libyan agents who organize terror attacks using dedicated people, for example Palestinian and Arab “freedom fighters.”

The terrorists who actually commit the crimes are what von Bülow calls “the working level,” such as the 19 Arabs who allegedly hijacked the planes on Sept. 11.

“The working level is part of the deception,” he said.

[Added note: This tactic is called a “false flag operation” or a “false flag recruitment”, used by both the CIA and Mossad for purposes of propaganda.]

“Ninety-five percent of the work of the intelligence agencies around the world is deception and disinformation,” von Bülow said, which is widely propagated in the mainstream media creating an accepted version of events.

“Journalists don’t even raise the simplest questions,” he said, adding, “those who differ are labeled as crazy.”

Both Werthebach and von Bülow said the lack of an open and official investigation, like congressional hearings, into the events of Sept. 11 was incomprehensible.

Horst Ehmke, who coordinated the German secret services directly under German Prime Minister Willi Brandt in the 70s, predicted a similar terrorist attack in his novel, Torches of Heaven, published last year, in which Turkish terrorists crash hijacked planes into Berlin.

Although Ehmke had long expected “fundamentalist attacks”, when he saw the televised images from Sept. 11, he said it looked like a “Hollywood production.”

“Terrorists could not have carried out such an operation with four hijacked planes without the support of a secret service,” Ehmke said, although he did not want to point to any particular agency.

“The most important thing in the struggle against terrorists, who are abusing religion, is the battle for the soul of the people and the nations,” Ehmke said. “If this isn’t resolved successfully, the 21st century could be bloodier than the last.”

A former Stasi agent who had warned the German secret service of terror attacks in America between Sept. 10-20 told AFP that a high ranking Stasi chief named Jürgen Rogalla, who is “an airplane terror specialist,” was probably involved in the attacks along with Abu Nidal.

Both Nidal and Rogalla work with the Mossad, the former agent told AFP. Nidal, was said to be in Baghdad, and is a “leading officer for some Mossad agents.”

The agent said that Nidal was “involved directly” in the events of Sept. 11. Sept. 11 was preparation for a larger attack on the United States, which is part of “an old plan,” the agent said. Based on prior knowledge of this plan, the agent said that more attacks are imminent and that aircraft carriers may be targeted next.

Rogalla was responsible for “turning NATO men” to spy for the East. One of the East’s NATO spies, Reiner Rupp, known as “Topaz,” provided Stasi and the Russians with the organization’s highest secrets until he was discovered in 1993 by the BND, the German intelligence agency.

“Evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.”

— U.S. official
quoted in Carl Cameron’s Fox News report
on the Israeli spy ring and its connections to 9-11.

Terror investigation blocked

Under the influence of U.S. oil companies, the [unelected] Bush administration blocked Secret Service investigations on terrorism, while it bargained with the Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden in exchange for political recognition and economic aid, two French intelligence analysts claim.

In a recently published book, Bin Laden, la Verite Interdite (“Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth”), the authors, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, reveal that the FBI’s deputy director John O’Neill resigned in July [2001] to protest official obstruction of his investigation of terrorism.

O’Neill had been in charge of national security in New York. While with the FBI, O’Neill led an investigation of Osama bin Laden and had forecast the possibility of an organized attack by terrorists operating from within the country.

O’Neill had investigated the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

In 1995, FBI agents working under O’Neill captured Ramzi Yousef, a suspected lieutenant of bin Laden, who was among those convicted for the World Trade Center bombing.

O’Neill was considered a top-notch investigator and was known for his pugnacity. He was barred by U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine from that country. That dispute reportedly involved a struggle between the State Department, which sought to preserve relations with Yemen, and the FBI, represented by O’Neill, who wanted access to Yemeni suspects.

O’Neill, 49, was hired as chief of security at the World Trade Center following a 25-year career with the FBI and died on Sept. 11, the first day of his new job. O’Neill reportedly died after reentering the building to assist others.

Brisard said O’Neill told them that “the main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were U.S. oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it.”

[Added note: The unelected Bush regime is full of oil industry people, and the Bush family has long been involved in the oil business. George Bush Senior was also Director of the CIA under President Ford, from 1974-76.]

Bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military strikes against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and Washington, according to The Guardian of London.

The warnings to the Taliban originated at a four-day meeting of senior Americans, Russians, Iranians and Pakistanis at a hotel in Berlin in mid-July. The meetings took place under the arbitration of Francesc Vendrell, personal representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

The three Americans at the Berlin meeting were Tom Simons, former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Karl “Rick” Inderfurth, a former assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, and Lee Coldren, who headed the office of Pakistan, Afghan and Bangladesh affairs in the State Department until 1997.

There were other meetings arranged by Vendrell in which “representatives of the U.S. government and Russia, and the six countries that border with Afghanistan were present,” according to the French authors. “Some times, representatives of the Taliban also sat around the table.”

The Berlin conference was the third meeting since November 2000 arranged by Vendrell. As a UN meeting, its official agenda was supposedly confined to trying to find a negotiated solution to the civil war in Afghanistan, ending terrorism and heroin trafficking, and discussing humanitarian aid.

“Carpet of gold – or bombs”

The U.S. government’s primary objective in Afghanistan was to consolidate the position of the Taliban regime in order to obtain access to the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia, the French authors wrote.

Until August, the U.S. government saw the Taliban regime “as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia,” from the rich oilfields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean, they said.

“The oil and gas reserves of Central Asia have been controlled by Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that,” the book says. When the Taliban refused to accept U.S. conditions, “this rationale of energy security changed into a military one.”

“The Americans indicated to us that in case the Taliban does not behave and in case Pakistan also doesn’t help us to influence the Taliban, then the United States would be left with no option but to take an overt action against Afghanistan,” said Niaz Naik, a former foreign minister of Pakistan, who attended the meetings.

During the “6 plus 2” meeting in Berlin in July [2001], the discussions turned around “the formation of a government of national unity. If the Taliban had accepted this coalition, they would have immediately received international economic aid,” Naik said on French television.

“And the pipe lines from Kazakstan and Uzbekistan would have come,” he added.

Naik also claimed that Tom Simons, the U.S. representative at these meetings, openly threatened the Taliban and Pakistan.

“Simons said, ‘either the Taliban behave as they ought to, or Pakistan convinces them to do so, or we will use another option.’ The words Simons used were ‘a military operation,’ ” Naik said.

“At one moment during the negotiations, the U.S. representatives told the Taliban, ‘either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs,’ ” Brisard said in an interview in Paris.

According to the book, the Bush government began to negotiate with the Taliban in February [2001], soon after coming into power. U.S. and Taliban diplomatic representatives met several times in Washington, Berlin and Islamabad.

To polish their image in the United States, the Taliban even employed a U.S. expert on public relations, Laila Helms.

The authors claim that Helms is also an expert in the works of U.S. secret services, for her uncle, Richard Helms, is a former director of the CIA.

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'Iran is world's most serious threat since WWII'
By JPOST.COM STAFF Feb. 7, 2006 5:09

Israel's Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon said on Tuesday morning that Iran is the biggest problem facing the world since World War II.
He said the UN Security Council must force Iran to accept real supervision that would prevent the further development of its nuclear program.

If they continue with their plans, Ayalon warned, Iran may have the know-how needed for the production of nuclear weapons by the end of the year.

Ayalon, in an interview to Reuters, stated that he believed Iran's nuclear program would be blocked by diplomatic, not military means.

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Muslim cartoon fury claims lives
BBC 6 Feb 2006

At least five people have been killed in Afghanistan as protests against European cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad swept across the country.

Two people died when protesters turned on the US airbase at Bagram - although the US has had no involvement with the images, which originated in Denmark.

Meanwhile in Somalia, a teenage boy died after protesters attacked police.
Iran announced it was halting trade with Denmark, as protesters pelted the Danish embassy with petrol bombs.

Police fired tear gas in a bid to keep back hundreds of angry demonstrators, some of whom attempted to scale the wall into the embassy compound. Earlier, the Austrian embassy in Tehran came under attack.

The violence follows attacks on Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon over the weekend. The cartoons were first published in a Danish newspaper.

Tensions continue to escalate around the world:

# Norway demands compensation from Syria after its embassy in Damascus was set on fire on Saturday

# The Turkish and Spanish prime ministers make a joint plea for respect and calm in an article in the International Herald Tribune

# In Indonesia, protesters target the Danish and US consulates in Surabaya, the country's second largest city. Protests are also held in the capital, Jakarta

# Riot police in the Indian capital, Delhi, fire tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of student protesters

# Shops and businesses across Indian-administered Kashmir close after a general strike is called in protest at the drawings

# In Thailand, protesters shout "God is great" and stamp on Denmark's flag outside the country's embassy in Bangkok, the Associated Press news agency reports

# There are protests again outside the European Union offices in Gaza, following demonstrations there last week.

'Test our feelings'

Hundreds of people took part in the morning demonstration in Afghanistan's Laghman province, in a second day of protests in the city.

Three people died when police fired on protesters after a police station came under attack, a government spokesman said.

Demonstrators shouted "death to Denmark" and "death to France". They called for the expulsion of diplomats and soldiers, who were sent by both countries as part of international efforts in the US-led "war on terror".

"They want to test our feelings," protester Mawli Abdul Qahar Abu Israra told the BBC.

"They want to know whether Muslims are extremists or not. Death to them and to their newspapers," he said.

In Bagram district, a peaceful protest in the morning turned violent when around 300 "bandits and gangsters" tried to enter the US base, local police chief Mawlana Sayed Khel told the BBC.

A shoot-out with police left two protesters dead, and six police officers injured, he said.

Elsewhere, hundreds protested in Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and the north-eastern province of Takhar. Some 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Danish embassy in the capital, Kabul.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai reiterated his condemnation of the cartoons and called on western nations to take "a strong measure" to ensure such cartoons do not appear again. "It's not good for anybody," he told CNN.

'Defending freedoms'

In the autonomous Somali region of Puntland, demonstrators marched through the port city of Bosaso, shouting anti-Western slogans and converging on the UN and international aid agency buildings.

A 14-year-old boy was reportedly trampled underfoot as police fired into the air to try and disperse an increasingly angry crowd.

Peaceful protests were held in several other Somali towns.

The cartoons first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September and caused outrage among Muslims, who consider any images of Muhammad offensive.

One of the cartoons shows Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

Newspapers across Europe republished the pictures last week, saying they were defending freedom of expression.
Comment: "Newspapers across Europe republished the pictures last week, saying they were defending freedom of expression."

As we have mentioned, making jokes about Muslims and their religion while they are being subjected to genocide is exactly the same as all the Jewish jokes and anti-Jewish cartoons and propaganda of WW II. If the European press is claiming "freedom of expression," then they have a problem.

For example: Ernst Zundel. He was born in 1939, in Germany, he immigrated to Canada at the age of 19, and started a career as a graphic artist. In the 1980’s, he published a book called “Did Six Million Really Die?“which asked serious questions about the prestidigitaion of facts about the Jewish version of the Holocaust.

And that reminds me: even if 6 million DID die, that was only one tenth of the total number of deaths of people in World War II. How come we don’t hear about the Russian Holocaust? The Polish genocide? The FORTY to SIXTY MILLION other people killed during that period???

What I mean here is this: there is NO escaping the horror of that time. It was horrible beyond imagining. And I don’t even want to quibble over whether it was 6 million or 4 million or 2 million Jews that died in the Global Holocaust that was WW II. What I DO find extremely offensive is that a law can be passed to make it a doctrine. That amounts to legally mandating what a person must BELIEVE.

Now, whether you are aware of it or not, there are still people that believe that the earth is Hollow and that there is a whole population of people living inside even with their own “sun.” How weird is that? There are MILLIONS of people who believe that they get abducted by aliens almost every night. (Maybe that’s not so weird, IMHO.)

So, the point is: nobody has made it a legal mandate that people must stop believing that the earth is hollow or that people must stop believing in aliens.

Okay, I acknowledge that it’s not quite the same thing. We are talking about the difference between beliefs about things that aren’t related to a horrible human tragedy and those that are about this unspeakably dark period in our history. But the essence of the issue is the same nevertheless. If somebody believes that the earth is hollow, he is allowed to say so, to publish books about it, to try to sell those books to other people, to have his ideas examined and scrutinized. People may laugh at him and call him a kook because, obviously, he isn’t going to have any serious evidence. He will be judged by the court of public opinion.

And maybe that’s the difference. Maybe that’s why they have to legally mandate belief in the Holocaust...

In 1985, Canada charged Ernst Zundel with “publishing false news”. He brought in gas chamber experts, other historians, and also cross-examined a number of Jewish survivors, who apparently fell apart under oath.

He moved from Canada to the United States, where he was arrested in 2002, deported to Canada, and finally to Germany in 2005.

Then, there is Germar Rudolf. He is a German-trained chemist, who re-examined Auschwitz, Birkenau, and other installations and buildings, testing rocks, soil, and other physical samples for traces of Zyklon B. As a scientist, he found the “gassing” claims to be scientifically untenable and, therefore, "absurd." He was sentenced by Germany to 14 months, and then fled to the US. He was arrested on November 18, 2005 in Chicago, and extradited to Germany.

So, that’s TWO, so far, in 2005.

It gets even weirder.

David Irving is a 65 year-old guy, a Brit, an author and historian, who has written 36 books, and is a recognized authority on Hitler and World War II. Although he skirted around the Holocaust and concentrated on the WW2 battles, he testified at Zundel’s trial. He was arrested in Vienna, Austria on November 14, 2005.

Thats THREE in 2005.

What is UP with that?

It gets stranger still: Siegfried Verbeke was charged with denying the holocaust. He is an historian and, publisher involved with Castle Hill Publishers who say that it is their goal to “scientifically investigate historical events, particularly those of the 20th century, without limitations imposed by dogmas or axioms.”

He was arrested in August of 2005 in Amsterdam. On October 6th, the Netherlands agreed to extradite him to Germany, where he faces 14 months in prison.

Now, either I’m losing my marbles, or something serious is up with all of this coming down in a single year.

Anyway, while I was reading up on Siegfried, I came across something that really startled me: the idea that the Diary of Anne Frank - that famous book that about every American school kid has read - is a fraud!

Yup, that's what they are saying: that it's a hoax perpetrated by her father who was a psychopathic philanderer, a collaborator with the Nazis, and also possibly an incestuous pedophile.

Now, don’t take my word for it! These people really believe this: READ IT YOURSELF! And especially check out the handwriting issues.

In any event, on closer examination, we see that the European press has really missed the boat on this one. Where were they when these legitimate researchers were arrested for expressing their views? Why do we, again and again, see a double standard biased toward Zionists?

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Danish paper rejected Jesus cartoons
Gwladys Fouché and agencies February 6, 2006

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have caused a storm of protest throughout the Islamic world, refused to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ, it has emerged today.

The Danish daily turned down the cartoons of Christ three years ago, on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were not funny.

In April 2003, Danish illustrator Christoffer Zieler submitted a series of unsolicited cartoons dealing with the resurrection of Christ to Jyllands-Posten.
Zieler received an email back from the paper's Sunday editor, Jens Kaiser, which said: "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them."

The illustrator told the Norwegian daily Dagbladet, which saw the email: "I see the cartoons as an innocent joke, of the type that my Christian grandfather would enjoy."

"I showed them to a few pastors and they thought they were funny."

He said that he felt Jyllands-Posten rated the feelings of its Christian readers higher than that of its Muslim readers.

But the Jyllands-Posten editor in question, Mr Kaiser, told that the case was "ridiculous to bring forward now. It has nothing to do with the Muhammad cartoons.

"In the Muhammad drawings case, we asked the illustrators to do it. I did not ask for these cartoons. That's the difference," he said.

"The illustrator thought his cartoons were funny. I did not think so. It would offend some readers, not much but some."

The decision smacks of "double-standards", said Ahmed Akkari, spokesman for the Danish-based European Committee for Prophet Honouring, the umbrella group that represents 27 Muslim organisations that are campaigning for a full apology from Jyllands-Posten.

"How can Jyllands-Posten distinguish the two cases? Surely they must understand," Mr Akkari added.

Meanwhile, the editor of a Malaysian newspaper resigned over the weekend after printing one of the Muhammad cartoons that have unleashed a storm of protest across the Islamic world.

Malaysia's Sunday Tribune, based in the remote state of Sarawak, on Borneo island, ran one of the Danish cartoons on Saturday. It is unclear which one of the 12 drawings was reprinted.

Printed on page 12 of the paper, the cartoon illustrated an article about the lack of impact of the controversy in Malaysia, a country with a majority Muslim population.

The newspaper apologised and expressed "profound regret over the unauthorised publication", in a front page statement on Sunday.

"Our internal inquiry revealed that the editor on duty, who was responsible for the same publication, had done it all alone by himself without authority in compliance with the prescribed procedures as required for such news," the statement said.

The editor, who has not been named, regretted his mistake, apologised and tendered his resignation, according to the statement.

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Denmark issues warning on travel to 14 nations
Agence France-Presse, AFX, The Associated Press MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2006

COPENHAGEN - Denmark on Monday issued a list of 14 Muslim countries that they advised their citizens to avoid following violent protests against the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

The 14 countries are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

The recommendation follows attacks over the weekend on Danish diplomatic missions in Syria and Lebanon.

The Foreign Ministry has already advised Danish nationals to leave those countries immediately.

Comment: One wonders, of course, in the face of this evidence that you just never know what is going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back, what piddling tempest in a teapot issue is going to rouse the American populace against the Neocon Administration? An interesting question, we think.

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Iran to publish Holocaust cartoons
From correspondents in Tehran February 07, 2006

IRAN'S largest selling newspaper announced today it was holding a contest on cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publishing in European papers of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

"It will be an international cartoon contest about the Holocaust," said Farid Mortazavi, the graphics editor for Hamshahri newspaper - which is published by Teheran's conservative municipality.

He said the plan was to turn the tables on the assertion that newspapers can print offensive material in the name of freedom of expression.

"The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons," he said.
Iran's fiercely anti-Israeli regime is supportive of so-called Holocaust revisionist historians, who maintain the systematic slaughter by the Nazis of mainland Europe's Jews as well as other groups during World War II has been either invented or exaggerated.

Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted international anger when he dismissed the systematic slaughter by the Nazis of mainland Europe's Jews as a "myth" used to justify the creation of Israel.

Mr Mortazavi said tomorrow's edition of the paper will invite cartoonists to enter the competition, with "private individuals" offering gold coins to the best 12 artists - the same number of cartoons that appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Last week, the Iranian foreign ministry also invited British Prime Minister Tony Blair to Teheran to take part in a planned conference on the Holocaust, even though the idea has been branded by Mr Blair as "shocking, ridiculous, stupid".

Mr Blair also said Mr Ahmadinejad "should come and see the evidence of the Holocaust himself in the countries of Europe", to which Iran responded by saying it was willing to send a team of "independent investigators".

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Ministers use cartoons anger to renew calls for 'glorification of terrorism' law
By Robert Verkaik, Colin Brown, Ben Russell and Cahal Milmo 07 February 2006

A team of detectives is to investigate Muslim extremists who took part in demonstrations outside the Danish embassy in London as the Government tried to use the row to re-ignite support for an offence of glorifying terrorism.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, gave a strong signal to the police to proceed with the prosecution of Muslim protesters who called for people to be beheaded or massacred over the publication of offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed.
Mr Clarke, who met the Parliamentary Labour Party yesterday, faced anger from his own MPs over the failure of the police to act against the protesters. But in a Commons statement he made it clear that the Government would support any prosecutions if the police and the Crown Prosecution Service took action.

"They are undertaking rigorous assessments as the appropriate way to proceed in individual cases," he said. "If the police decide there have been breaches of the law and take action, we would support them."

The Metropolitan Police yesterday promised an urgent and swift inquiry, headed by a detective chief inspector, in the public order crime unit. Senior officers will examine everything, from video recordings made by officers to photographs published in newspapers.

A student who wore a "suicide vest" in Friday's protest issued a full apology yesterday. Omar Khayam, 22, said that he apologised " wholeheartedly" to the victims and families of those attacked on 7 July for the offence caused by dressing as a suicide bomber.

The part-time construction student ­ a convicted drug dealer jailed in 2002 for five-and-a-half years for dealing heroin and cocaine, but who has since been freed on licence ­ said that he dressed in the military-style webbing because he had found the cartoons showing the Prophet "deeply offensive" . But as he became the subject of increasing media interest, he realised his actions had been wrong.

Speaking outside his home in Bedford while flanked by his MP, Patrick Hall, and the chairman of a local mosque, Mr Khayam said: "My method of protest has offended many people, especially families of the victims of the July bombings.

"I do not condone these murderous acts, do not support terrorism or extremism and would like to apologise unreservedly and wholeheartedly to the families of the victims. I understand it was wrong, unjustified and insensitive of me to protest in this way."

Mr Clarke sought to use the protests to challenge opponents of the Government's Terror Bill to drop their opposition to some of the most controversial proposals including a clause to outlaw the "glorification" of terrorism, which was thrown out in the Lords. His remarks are certain to intensify the row over the Bill when it returns to the Commons next week.

Ministers appeared to harden their rhetoric after calls grew for prosecutions over the demonstrations in London, with the police accused of standing by while protesters carried banners that appeared to incite people to murder.

Mr Clarke called on the Tory leader David Cameron to drop opposition to a clause outlawing glorification of terrorism. But Mr Cameron later appeared to rule out any compromise over the plans.

Asked if he would back the law, he said: "I believe in free speech, but free speech under the law. Many of those people carrying those placards were clearly inciting violence or inciting hatred and that is against the law. It does not need any new glorification laws. The things they are inciting people to do are against the law today."

Labour rebels, who are determined to stick to their objections, are also likely to accuse Mr Clarke of using the offensive protests last week to drive through a measure which will damage civil liberties. However, it is likely that the Government will overturn the Lords defeat and reintroduce " glorification" of terrorism as a new offence.

Officials said it would enable the prosecution of Muslim clerics who have avoided directly inciting supporters to kill people, but suggested that those who carried out killings would enter heaven. Senior Whitehall sources confirmed that protesters who last weekend directly called for people to be killed could be prosecuted under the existing incitement to murder laws.

The Government appeared ready to support prosecutions but both Mr Clarke and the Prime Minister's official spokesman went to great lengths to distance themselves from a decision to prosecute, saying it was a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Home Secretary condemned the violence aimed at European embassies and Danish citizens but caused frustration on his own side by refusing to publicly back the prosecution of the protesters. David Winnick, an outspoken Labour backbencher, said: "It is entirely unacceptable for a bunch of hooligans and thugs in London to demand that people be beheaded. They glorify the atrocities of 7 July and call for further atrocities to be committed."

He added: "The message should go out that never again on British soil will we see the kind of slogans and incitement to murder that so disgraced this country last Friday."

But lawyers warned the Government not to try to make any political capital out of the demonstrations.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said this was not the time to have this kind of debate. "The law surrounding the curtailment of free speech has grown up through ad hoc responses to a series of public outrages over the years. There is an awful lot of it, some of which has been abused in the past."

She said that the real danger to free speech was the "chilling effect" of some of this legislation, including the proposal for the glorification of terrorism, which meant people would become too afraid to voice legitimate criticism in public.

Hugo Charlton, a barrister who worked on the anti-poll tax campaign and has advised animal rights activists and protesters against the war in Iraq, said he was opposed to knee-jerk reaction to the cartoons row.

He said: "We all need to remain calm ­ what we don't want is more legislation that might be misused at other times. The media has a very important role to play in what happens next.

"The newspapers have to ask themselves whether they think they have contributed to the problem or helped to resolve matters. I don't think they have covered themselves in glory."

Freedom of speech in Britain today: How the legislation is applied


Who? Muslim protester who took part in demonstrations outside the Danish embassy last week.

What he said: Gave the impression he was a suicide bomber by wearing a jacket with dynamite pouches.

What happened? Apologised for his actions but faces an investigation by the police.


Who? Leader of the British National Party.

What he said: In a speech to BNP supporters, which was secretly recorded by the BBC, he described Islam as a "wicked, vicious faith".

What happened? He was acquitted by a jury last week of inciting racial hatred.


Who? Secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

What he said: Claimed that homosexuality and Islam were incompatible.

What happened? He was investigated by the police for allegedly making homophobic remarks. The case was dropped on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service.


Who? A 25-year-old peace protester.

What she said: Read the names of the (then) 97 British soldiers killed in the Iraq conflict, at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

What happened? Ms Evans was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 costs.


Who? Octogenarian and member of the Labour Party.

What he said: Shouted "nonsense" as Jack Straw defended Britain's role in Iraq at last year's Labour Party conference.

What happened? He was bundled out of the conference and later stopped under anti-terrorist powers as he tried to re-enter.


Who? A campaigner against the war in Iraq who lives in Parliament Square.

What he said: Claims Labour is responsible for Britain fighting an illegal war.

What happened? The Government banned demonstrations within 1km of Parliament. The courts have since ruled the law does not apply to Mr Haw.
Comment: Clearly, these cartoons were deliberate provocation for just such purposes...

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Cartoons that started riots- What's The Big Deal
Judicial-inc. Feb 2006

European writers claim desecrating Mohammed is free speech, while questioning the holocaust is a crime resulting in prison.
"Agents of certain persuasion" (Jewish) are behind the egregious affront to Islam in order to provoke Muslims. The key "agent" is Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of JP, who commissioned cartoonists to produce the blasphemous (to Muslims) images and then published them in Denmark's leading morning paper last September.

Rose is also alleged to have ties to the Zionist Neo-Cons behind the "war on terror."

Bottom line: Jewish owned newspapers laugh at Muslims, call them crocodiles, call their religion a 'Cauldron of Hate', and now they defile their prophet. Zionists have killed millions of Muslims in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, etc.

Zionists orchestrated 9/11 and blamed the Muslims. They make silly movies about 9/11 and evil Muslims, but won't show a single boarding video from Logan Airport or security videos of the Pentagon.

Go figure.

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Lab officials excited by new H-bomb project
By Ian Hoffman Oakland Tribune 6 Feb 06

For the first time in more than 20 years, U.S. nuclear-weapons scientists are designing a new H-bomb, the first of probably several new nuclear explosives on the drawing boards.

If they succeed, in perhaps 20 or 25 more years, the United States would have an entirely new nuclear arsenal, and a highly automated fac- tory capable of turning out more warheads as needed, as well as new kinds of warheads.

"We are on the verge of an exciting time," the nation's top nuclear weapons executive, Linton Brooks, said last week at Lawrence Livermore weapons design laboratory.
Teams of roughly 20 scientists and engineers at the nation's two laboratories for nuclear-explosive design — Livermore and Los Alamos in New Mexico — are in a head-to-head competition to offer designs for the first of the new thermonuclear explosives, termed "reliable replacement warheads" or RRWs.

Designers are aiming for bombs that will be simpler, easier to maintain over decades and, if they fell into terrorists' hands, able to be remotely destroyed or rendered useless. Once the designs are unveiled in September, the Bush administration and Congress could face a major choice in the future of the U.S. arsenal: Do they keep maintaining the existing, tested weapons or begin diverting money and manpower to developing the newly designed but untested weapons?

Administration officials see the new weapons and the plant to make them as "truly transformative," allowing the dismantlement of thousands of reserve weapons.

But within the community of nuclear weapons experts, the notion of fielding untested weapons is controversial and turns heavily on how much the new bombs would be like the well-tested weapons that the United States already has.

"I can't believe that an admiral or a general or a future president, who are putting the U.S. survival at stake, would accept an untested weapon if it didn't have a test base," said physicist and Hoover Institution fellow Sidney Drell, a longtime adviser to the government and its labs on nuclear-weapons issues.

"The question is how do you really ensure long-term reliability of the stockpile without testing?" said Hugh Gusterson, an MIT anthropologist who studies the weapons labs and their scientists. "RRW is partly an answer to that question and it's an answer to the question (by nuclear weapons scientists) of 'What do I do to keep from being bored?'"

The prize for the winning lab is tens, perhaps hundreds of million of dollars for carrying its bomb concept into prototyping and production. If manufactured, the first RRW would replace two warheads on submarine-launched missiles, the W76 and W88, together the most numerous active weapons and the cornerstone of the U.S. nuclear force.

Altogether, the nation has 5,700 nuclear bombs and warheads of 12 basic types, plus more than 4,200 weapons kept in reserve as insurance against aging and failure of the active, fielded arsenal.

Most are 25-35 years old. All were exploded multiple times under the Nevada desert before U.S. nuclear testing halted in 1992. It is in most respects the world's most sophisticated nuclear arsenal, and beyond opposition at home to continued testing, ending testing made sense to discourage other nations from testing to advance their nuclear capabilities.

Faced by the Soviet Union, Cold War weapons scientists devised their bombs for the greatest power in the smallest, lightest package, so thousands could be delivered en masse and cause maximum destruction. Designers compare those weapons to Ferraris, sleek and finely tuned.

Scientists at the weapons laboratories are laboring to keep the bombs and warheads in working order, by examining them for signs of deterioration and replacing parts as faithfully to the original manufacturing as possible. It is an expensive and not especially stimulating job.

Some worry that an accumulation of small changes could undermine the bombs' reliability. So far, every year since 1995 directors of the weapons labs and secretaries of defense and energy have assured two presidents that the weapons are safe, secure and will detonate as designed.

The new reliable replacement warheads are actually an old idea that 1950s-era weapons designers called, with some disdain, the "wooden bomb." Bomb physicists were proud of their racier, more compact designs and figured they were plenty dependable already. The wooden bomb by comparison was boring.

"They said, 'Well heck, that isn't a challenge to anybody'," recalled Ray Kidder, a former Livermore physicist who found a chilly reception to proposals in the 1980s for clunkier, more reliable designs. "It was like saying, 'Well, why don't you make a Model A Ford.'"

Now the wooden bomb is back in vogue. With fewer, simpler kinds of warheads, the argument goes, the arsenal could be maintained more inexpensively and — assuming construction of a factory to turn out the new bombs on demand — thousands of reserve warheads could be scrapped.

But in a sharp break with the past, the new bombs would never be exploded except in war. The only button-to-boom tests of the new arsenal would be virtual — simulated detonations inside a supercomputer.

Today's weaponeers say they've learned enough of the complex physics of thermonuclear explosives to guarantee the bombs would deliver precise explosive yields even after decades on the shelf. If military leaders agreed, the most lethal and final resort of U.S. defenses would be deployed without a test shot.

Ex-military leaders are split on accepting a new, untested nuclear arsenal.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre told a House appropriations committee last year that he thinks a new arsenal will be needed some day. But he said, "I do believe we should test the new weapons to demonstrate to the world that they are credible."

Eugene Habiger, the senior-most commander over U.S. nuclear forces as chief of Strategic Command in the mid-1990s, said he would be inclined to accept the new weapons.

"The science is pretty well understood," he said.

The Bush administration and weapons scientists say the warheads will not have new military missions. They will ride on the same bombers and missiles as today's nuclear explosives and strike the same targets. But administration officials are talk of eventually wanting features beyond the sizable array of explosive yields and delivery methods available now: deep earth-penetrating bombs, enhanced radiation weapons and "reduced collateral damage" bombs with lower fission radiation.

Designers and executives at Lawrence Livermore are taking a conservative line. The lab's weapons chief, Bruce Goodwin, talks of starting with nuclear-explosive designs that are well tested and well understood.

"Our plan is to develop a design that lies well within the experience — and within what we call the 'sweet spot' — of our historical test base," he said in a recent statement.

One candidate under consideration as a starting point is the W89, a 200-kiloton warhead designed for a short-range attack missile. It is well-tested, plus it comes from a long line of well-understood designs and uses every safety and security feature available at the time.

Yet weaponeers at Los Alamos lab and Brooks, as the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, have talked of a more freewheeling design effort.

"This is not about going back to rake over old designs. That's why I've got two different teams of weapons scientists at two labs working on this," Brooks said. "There's never been anything tested that will do the sorts of things we want to do."

Such talk alarms Stanford's Drell.

"How the hell do you make a new design without testing?" he said. "Those kinds of flamboyant statements worry me because I don't believe we could maintain a confident stockpile with new designs that haven't been tested."

Some former weapons scientists say the wiser course is maintaining the current arsenal and boosting its reliability in simple ways, such as adding more tritium to "sweeten" the hydrogen gases at the very core of the weapon.

"We've got a reliable stockpile. We have a test base for it. We have now in the last 10 or 15 years far more sophisticated computational abilities than we had doing these designs originally, so things are extremely well understand in terms of the performance," said Seymour Sack, once Livermore's most prolific designer, whose innovations are found in nearly every U.S. weapon. "I don't see any reason you should change those designs."

Lawmakers say they are watching carefully to make sure the new warheads hew closely to existing, well-understood designs. But in a recent report on the new warhead program for the Livermore watchdog group, Tri-Valley CAREs, former White House budget analyst Bob Civiak said Congress has a poor record of restraining the weapons design labs from what after all they were built to do.

"Congress thinks it can allow the labs to design new nuclear weapons but restrict them to existing designs," he said. "History shows that cannot be the case."

Contact Ian Hoffman at
Comment: Now, that's just peachy! Truly a Science of Evil.

"What's that?"

"It's our brand new H-bomb."


"An H-bomb. You know, highest kill-ratios on the market!"

"I don't think that's a very good idea. You start using those things and other people are going to use theirs, and everybody could end up dead."

"What's wrong with you? Where have you been? You never wanted to be H-bombed? You, too, can be a Shiva, destroyer of Worlds! Amaze your friends, confound your enemies, hypnotize any woman from a distance by the power of your... H-BOMB!"

"Wow! Look at the size of his ... Bomb!"

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Reckless White House proposes 2.77 trillion-dollar budget

Democratic Leader Harry Reid added: "The American people have paid the price for the Republican culture of corruption over the past five years and the president's budget proposes more of the same. President Bush's budget continues to put special interests first while making worse the financial pressures confronting American families."
The White House proposed a 2.77 trillion-dollar budget boosting defense and homeland security spending while cutting many social programs, with a projected deficit of 354 billion dollars.

President George W. Bush's budget for the 2007 fiscal year starting October 1 would increase defense spending 6.9 percent to 439.3 billion dollars, and lift homeland security spending 3.3 percent to 33.1 billion.

Other "discretionary" spending -- those programs not required for mandatory retirements or health care -- would be cut 0.5 percent to 398.3 billion dollars.

"My administration has focused the nation's resources on our highest priority: protecting our citizens and our homeland," Bush said in his budget message.

But the proposal got a rude welcome from opposition Democrats, who said the president's priorities were skewed, and from other critics who claimed the Bush administration's plan to trim the deficit lacked credibility.

The budget deficit figure for the current fiscal year was revised up to an all-time record 423 billion dollars, which would be 3.2 percent of US gross domestic product (GDP).

Based on the projections in the budget -- which is merely an outline for spending that is subject to congressional authorization -- the deficit would fall to 354 billion dollars (3.2 percent of GDP) in the 2007 fiscal year, and then to 223 billion in the following year, which would be 1.5 percent of GDP.

The overall budget represents an increase of about 2.2 percent in spending from the current fiscal year. Government receipts are projected to rise 5.8 percent to 2.416 trillion dollars.

The budget assumes economic growth of 3.4 percent in 2006 and 3.3 percent in 2007.

The White House noted that receipts have been rising despite tax cuts, and has called for an extension of the tax cuts enacted in recent years.

"Unless we act to make tax relief permanent, income tax rates eventually will rise, the marriage penalty will climb, the child tax credit will be cut, savers and investors will be hit with higher taxes, and the death tax (estate tax) will come back to life," Bush said.

Spending for international programs including the State Department would increase 12.2 percent to 33.9 billion dollars.

Among the cuts in the budget proposal, spending on agriculture would drop 6.5 percent to 19.7 billion dollars; education funding would decrease 3.8 percent to 54.4 billion; health care spending would be cut 2.3 percent to 67.6 billion; justice funding would drop 7.2 percent to 19.5 billion; and transportation funding would decline 9.4 percent to 13.2 billion.

Bush said his administration identified 141 programs "that should be terminated or significantly reduced in size."

But critics and budget watchers say Bush's deficit projections are misleading, and that the tax cuts will cause the US debt to explode.

"President Bush's new budget is nothing new. It represents the same reckless fiscal course the Bush administration has followed for the last five years," said Senator Kent Conrad, the top Democrat on the budget committee.

Democratic Leader Harry Reid added: "The American people have paid the price for the Republican culture of corruption over the past five years and the president's budget proposes more of the same. President Bush's budget continues to put special interests first while making worse the financial pressures confronting American families."

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a budget watchdog group, said the tax cuts have cost the US Treasury more than one trillion dollars so far.

"Despite the country's long-term fiscal challenges, the administration continues to call for making nearly all of these tax cuts permanent, but has not proposed measures to offset the cost of extending these tax cuts," said Joel Friedman and Aviva Aron-Dine of CPBB.

They wrote that the tax cuts alone "will be more than three times as large as all federal funding for education at elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels combined."

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Bush's budget bashed
AP 7 Feb 06

President Bush, constrained by wars, hurricanes and exploding budget deficits, has sent Congress a 2007 spending plan that is garnering howls of pain from farmers, teachers, doctors and a wide array of other groups with special interests.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said Bush's budget was sending a clear message "that the most important thing to this administration are tax cuts being made permanent for the wealthiest of Americans."
Democrats, as expected, pronounced the Republican president's budget plan dead on arrival. But many Republicans were equally sharp in their reservations about the $2.77 trillion spending blueprint the administration unveiled on Monday.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., called Bush's proposed cuts in education and health "scandalous" while Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said she was "disappointed and even surprised" at the extent of the administration's proposed cuts in Medicaid and Medicare.

Given the level of congressional frustration, administration witnesses, led by Treasury Secretary John Snow, were expected to face a tough sales job before various congressional committees on Tuesday.

Bush's spending blueprint for the 2007 budget year that begins Oct. 1 would provide large increases for the military and homeland security but would trim spending in the one-sixth of the budget that covers the rest of discretionary spending. Nine Cabinet agencies would see outright reductions with the biggest percentage cuts occurring in the departments of Transportation, Justice and Agriculture.

And in mandatory programs _ so-called because the government must provide benefits to all who qualify _ the president is seeking over the next five years savings of $36 billion in Medicare, $5 billion in farm subsidy programs, $4.9 billion in Medicaid support for poor children's health care and $16.7 billion in additional payments from companies to shore up the government's besieged pension benefit agency.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley noted that Congress has just completed a yearlong battle to achieve far smaller five-year savings in Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor, and Medicare as part of a $39 billion five-year trim in benefit programs.

"It wasn't an easy legislative accomplishment," said Grassley, R-Iowa. "Any more reductions of a significant scope could be difficult this year."

Bush's budget would meet his twin goals of making permanent his first-term tax cuts, which are set to expire by 2010, and cutting the deficit in half by 2009, the year he leaves office.

The administration's new budget projects that this year's deficit will soar to an all-time high of $423 billion, surpassing the old mark in dollar terms of $412 billion set in 2004, as the costs of rebuilding from last year's devastating hurricanes and the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan push spending higher.

Democrats, hoping to wrest control of Congress from the Republicans in this year's election, charged that Bush was forced into an austere spending plan because of the estimated $1.4 trillion over the next decade that it will cost to extend his first-term tax cuts, which Democrats claim primarily benefit the very wealthy.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said Bush's budget was sending a clear message "that the most important thing to this administration are tax cuts being made permanent for the wealthiest of Americans."

In addition to strict limits on most discretionary, non-security spending in the budget, Bush sought drastic cuts or total elimination on 141 programs that would produce savings of nearly $15 billion in 2007.

The targeted programs included 42 in the area of education ranging from drug-free schools to federal support for the arts, technology and parent-resource centers.

Those proposed cuts were coming at a time when the administration is seeking more spending to train 70,000 high school math and science teachers as part of Bush's new American Competitiveness Initiative designed to relieve anxiety about the country's ability to compete with emerging economic powers such as China and India.

Even previously favored agencies such as the National Institutes of Health were not immune from the budget knife with overall funding essentially frozen and many individual programs seeing budget cuts. That brought objections from groups ranging from the American Heart Association to the American Diabetes Association.

Robert A. Rizza, president for medicine and science of the American Diabetes Association, said Bush's proposed cuts in diabetes research and prevention "would weaken the federal resources needed to fight this national epidemic."

Bush's budget submission is just the opening round in what opponents are promising will be a spirited fight in Congress over spending priorities.

"The president's budget slashes resources for exactly the priorities we should be supporting _ groundbreaking medical research, health care for our seniors, and education for our kids," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

© 2006 The Associated Press

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Fascist Pimp Gonzales says domestic spying legal and necessary
AFP 7 Feb 06

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted to skeptical lawmakers that monitoring Americans' phone calls and email messages without a warrant was a necessary part of the US "war on terror".

The secret government program has provoked a storm of opposition, but Gonzales refused to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee whether the eavesdropping had led to charges or other results.
President George W. Bush authorized the domestic spying without the usual court warrants after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Gonzales asserted that the ingenuity and determination of Al-Qaeda to launch new strikes against the United States made it necessary to devise equally creative means to combat terrorism.

"In this new kind of war it is both necessary and appropriate for us to take all possible steps to locate our enemy and know what they are plotting before they strike," Gonzales said.

The Bush administration has faced a torrent of criticism from Democrats and some members of the president's Republican party about the program.

Despite the lack of warrants, Gonzales insisted that the wiretaps by the National Security Agency are employed only in "certain very narrow circumstances" and fully comply with US law.

The electronic eavesdropping program, he said, "is necessary, it is lawful and it respects the civil liberties we all cherish."

Gonzales was questioned whether the monitoring had led to any indictments but would only quote the FBI as saying that it had been a "valuable program".

The Washington Post last week quoted current and former officials as saying that nearly all the potential suspects had been taken off the threat list.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Congress was aware of the terrorist risk, but that efforts to combat it must remain within established law.

Specter said he was skeptical of the administration assertion that the president, as commander-in-chief of the military, has the authority to use whatever means he deems necessary to combat terror.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the government to conduct eavesdropping without a court warrant for 72 hours, after which it must seek a warrant from a special court.

"The president of the United States has the fundamental responsibility to protect the country, but even ... the president does not have a blank check," Specter said.

Democrat Dianne Feinstein went even further, saying that in failing to get congressional authorization for the wiretaps, Bush had acted outside of the law.

"This administration is effectively saying it doesn't have to follow the law," she said. "This is a very slippery slope. It's fraught with consequences," she said.

Feinstein also complained that, weeks after the existence of the secret program was made public by the New York Times, lawmakers have yet to be fully briefed.

Bush has argued that he has power under the Constitution and a resolution passed by Congress after the September 11 attacks to take whatever action he deems necessary to protect the American public.

Former NSA head and now deputy director of national intelligence General Michael Hayden said Sunday that the eavesdropping is critical to protecting the United States from further attacks.

The Judiciary Committee plans two additional hearings on the secret wiretaps. Gonzales and Hayden were to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday on the program behind closed doors.
Comment: Of course it is necessary to the Neocon "war on terror." As Andrew Lobczewski writes:

The actions of [pathocracy] affect an entire society, starting with the leaders and infiltrating every town, business, and institution. The pathological social structure gradually covers the entire country creating a “new class” within that nation.

This privileged class [of pathocrats] feels permanently threatened by the “others”, i.e. by the majority of normal people. Neither do the pathocrats entertain any illusions about their personal fate should there be a return to the system of normal man. [Andrew M. Lobaczewski, Ph.D. (psychology); Political Ponerology: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes]

In other words, WE the PEOPLE are the terrorists to Pathocrats.

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Plamegate: A Credibility 'Gap'
By Steve Benen AlterNet. February 6, 2006.

Bush critics worry that the White House may have deleted Plame-related emails during a 12-hour head start in the CIA leak probe. The delay is worse than they think.

On the evening of Monday, Sept. 29, 2003, then-White House Chief Counsel Alberto Gonzales had a choice. He had just received formal notice from the Department of Justice that the White House was the subject of a criminal investigation as a result of White House officials' leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent, Valerie Plame, as part of an effort to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Gonzales did not immediately alert the White House staff to the investigation, explaining the need to safeguard germane documents. Instead, he asked Justice Department lawyers if he could notify the staff in the morning. Because the call came in after 8:00 p.m. on a weekday, and most of the personnel had left the building, the attorneys agreed. Gonzales, before wrapping up his day, called White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card to notify him of the start of the probe. Twelve hours later, Gonzales informed his colleagues that they must "preserve all materials" relevant to the investigation.
For some of Bush's more imaginative critics, the 12-hour delay generates images of Card, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby holding a late-night document-destruction party in the West Wing. Indeed, in questioning Gonzales' handling of the issue, Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's Face the Nation, noted that the half-day gap would have "give[n] people time to shred documents and do any number of things."

This delay took on renewed significance last week. The New York Daily News reported that Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor investigating the Plame scandal, told lawyers representing Libby that "many emails from [Vice President] Cheney's office at the time of the Plame leak in 2003 have been deleted contrary to White House policy." The computer system at the White House is supposed to automatically archive emails sent by the president and his aides. For reasons that are still unclear, these emails -- which may or may not be relevant to the Plame investigation -- were not preserved.

Could aides have used the 12-hour gap to conceal incriminating emails that pointed to staffers' role in exposing the identity of an undercover CIA agent? Prosecutors will no doubt explore this in some detail as the investigation continues, but it's important to note that political observers have understated the length of the delay itself -- by a factor of seven.

Indeed, the timeline of events over the five-day period between Friday, Sept. 26, 2003, and Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2003, highlights the fact that the 12-hour head start Gonzales gave Card is largely irrelevant. There was no reason for Card to call back Bush's top lieutenants to start concealing possible wrongdoing after the heads-up from Gonzales. If suppression was their plan, Rove, Libby and others could have begun covering their tracks several days in advance.

When Gonzales received formal notification about the investigation late on Monday, Sept. 29, the Justice Department was only making official what all of Washington already knew. A full three days before the counsel's office received notice, MSNBC reported that the CIA had directed the Justice Department to launch a criminal probe into the leak. In other words, White House aides with internet access learned on Friday night that they were being investigated but weren't told to start securing relevant materials until Tuesday morning, literally 84 hours later.

Perhaps, Bush supporters might argue, the MSNBC report went unnoticed at the White House. Maybe no one on the staff saw the report or any discussion of it on the many political websites that highlighted its significance at the time. Even assuming this is true, it's significantly harder for Bush aides to claim that they also missed a front-page article published in the Washington Post on Sunday, Sept. 28.

The Post's Mike Allen and Dana Priest explained, "At CIA Director George J. Tenet's request, the Justice Department is looking into an allegation that administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist, government sources said yesterday." The same article quoted a senior administration official saying that "two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of [undercover agent Plame]." Referring to the leak, the official told the Post, "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge."

This front-page, above-the-fold article hit doorsteps in D.C. a full 48 hours before Gonzales instructed the staff to preserve materials relevant to the investigation. Considering the news about the investigation, and the provocative quotes from a top administration official, it stands to reason the article caught the attention of some White House employees.

As such, it strained credulity when Alberto Gonzales told a national television audience last summer that "no one [on the White House staff] knew about the investigation" until he received word from the Justice Department. Gonzales may have promptly called Card on the evening of Monday, Sept. 29, but neither Card nor anyone else in the West Wing needed word from the White House counsel's office to know that an investigation was under way. Like anyone with access to the national media that weekend, they learned about the probe days beforehand.

It's understandable that congressional Democrats and others have raised questions about whether Gonzales, now the attorney general, sat on the investigation for 12 hours in order to help give his colleagues in the White House time to cover up their alleged misdeeds. The more relevant question, however, is what those same Bush aides did with the 84-hour notice they received about the federal probe from news reports.

As many observers have noted, a great deal of damage can be done over that period of time. As Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford said on MSNBC in July, "[A]nybody who was worried about emails that they had written in the past on this topic had a lot of time to word-search it and delete it, if they wanted to." In light of the now-missing emails from the vice president's office from the relevant time period, Crawford's speculation seems almost prescient.

The concern here has nothing to do with Fitzgerald's thorough investigation, but rather whether Fitzgerald's probe has had access to all the information to which it was entitled. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., one of several Senate Democrats commenting on this gap in 2003, said, "Every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit time to destroy the evidence." In this case, the alleged perpetrators wouldn't have had to rush.

The controversy is not entirely without precedent. During the Clinton presidency, thousands of emails went missing after they were improperly archived, prompting congressional Republicans and Independent Counsel Robert Ray to have minor conniptions. At the time, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., launched hearings into the missing emails through the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee he chaired, exploring the possibility of a coverup.

In theory, congressional Republicans could also consider hearings to explore the missing emails from Cheney's office and the suspicious 84-hour gap. To date, however, GOP lawmakers have resisted any and all requests for hearings into the matter.

Hearings or not, the emails are unlikely to remain missing forever. Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation is ongoing, and prosecutors appear interested in the misplaced electronic correspondence and its possible role in the leak.

Steve Benen is a freelance writer and editor of The Carpetbagger Report.
Comment: Sounds like the gap in the Nixon Tapes - only worse. Gonzales has clearly committed a criminal act and ought to be arrested immediately and taken away in handcuffs as the slimey criminal and traitor to the American People that he is.

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Illegal Spying: In Limelight at Wiretap Hearing: 2 Laws, but Which Should Rule?
By ADAM LIPTAK NY Times Published: February 7, 2006

It is the sort of problem that judges confront every day. One law forbids a certain activity. The other may allow it. Which one counts?

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales made the case to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday that two potentially contradictory Congressional actions — one a 1978 law forbidding domestic surveillance without a court's permission, the other a 2001 resolution giving the president authority to use force to combat Al Qaeda — together mean that the executive branch is free to decide on its own to spy on communications between people in the United States and those abroad.
Under the ordinary rules that courts use to harmonize potentially conflicting laws, the more specific one typically governs. Here, that would seem to be the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which created an elaborate legal scheme to regulate wiretaps, as well as a secret court that promptly hears warrant applications.

If a later law means to override or amend an earlier one, moreover, courts generally require it to say so specifically. The 2001 resolution authorized the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States."

Whether the 2001 resolution created an exception to the 1978 law depends on whether "necessary and appropriate force" includes surveillance of the enemy. Neither detentions nor surveillance was mentioned in the resolution. The Bush administration says both are natural incidents of the use of force in wartime.

In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the resolution encompassed the detention of an American citizen captured on a foreign battlefield in a conventional war. But critics say spying on communications involving people in the United States is very different from detaining an enemy combatant.

Last month the Supreme Court confronted a broadly similar situation. The administration argued that a general federal statute, the Controlled Substances Act, gave the attorney general authority to override a specific Oregon law, the Death With Dignity Act. The court rejected that argument, saying the federal law did not specifically grant such authority. Congress, the court said, "does not alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms or ancillary provisions — it does not, one might say, hide elephants in mouse holes."

Under that reasoning, the authorization for force to head off terrorism may be too general to override the 1978 law.

Mr. Gonzales acknowledged yesterday that at least some members of Congress did not realize they were voting for a surveillance program when they voted for the force resolution.

"But we are a nation governed by written laws," Mr. Gonzales said, "not the unwritten intentions of individuals. What matters is the plain meaning of the statute passed by Congress and signed by the president. And in this case, those plain words could not be clearer."

The committee's ranking Democrat, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, disagreed.

"This authorization is not a wiretap statute," Mr. Leahy said. "We know what the wiretap statute looks like. This is not it."

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said he "never envisioned that I was giving to this president or any other president the ability to go around FISA carte blanche."

"In all honesty," Mr. Graham told Mr. Gonzales, "this statutory-force-resolution argument that you're making is very dangerous in terms of its application for the future." An expansive reading of the 2001 resolution, Mr. Graham said, may make it "harder for the next president to get a force resolution if we take this too far."

Mr. Gonzales maintained yesterday that the two enactments "complement each other."

The committee's chairman, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, responded, "Well, that just defies logic and plain English."

Mr. Gonzales conceded that his was not the only possible way to harmonize the two Congressional actions. But the administration's reading is, Mr. Gonzales said, "fairly possible." Given that, he continued, the Constitution requires deference to the executive branch's interpretation under a doctrine known as constitutional avoidance, which counsels against reading statutes in a way that creates constitutional conflict when another reasonable interpretation is available.

In a letter to Congress last week, a group of 14 constitutional scholars and former government officials said that "FISA is not ambiguous on this subject, and therefore the constitutional avoidance doctrine does not apply."

The administration has a fallback position, but it was not one Mr. Gonzales discussed much yesterday. Even if the force authorization did nothing to alter the restrictions set out in the 1978 law, he said, the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief may by itself allow the surveillance program.

"Fortunately," Mr. Gonzales continued, "we need not address that difficult question."

The senators questioning Mr. Gonzales often appeared frustrated and skeptical. That was due in some degree to the fact that many of them had taken part in enacting at least one of the two measures. But it was also a reaction to Mr. Gonzales's apparent position that neither Congress nor the courts had a role to play in clarifying any ambiguity.

Mr. Specter urged the administration to present the surveillance program to the FISA court "lock, stock and barrel."

"Let them see the whole thing," Mr. Specter said, "and let them pass judgment."

Mr. Gonzales did not provide a direct answer. He did say that in the case of some individual warrant applications, the administration did not believe it could move quickly enough to satisfy the 1978 law, though he acknowledged that the law allows applications to be filed up to 72 hours after the surveillance has started.

Mr. Gonzales also clarified again a statement he made on Dec. 19, a few days after the spying program was disclosed by The New York Times. At the time, he said the administration had not sought an amendment to the 1978 law because "certain members of Congress" had "advised that that would be difficult, if not impossible." Since then Mr. Gonzales has said the real problem is that such legislation could not be enacted without compromising the program.

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The Bushies' Game of Hide-and-Conceal
by Tom Tomorrow February 6th, 2006

Cartoon: click link to chuckle.

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Is George Bush Opening Your Mail? - Asked directly by the U.S. Senate, Alberto Gonzales won't say
by James Ridgeway February 6th, 2006

The subject of opening mail came up in this exchange between Gonzales and Democratic senator of Vermont this morning when the senator asked whether Bush believes his supposed authorization would be enough to allow the government to open people's mail.

"There is all kinds of wild speculation out there about what the president has authorized and what we're actually doing," Gonzales said.

"You're not answering my question," Leahy retorted.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to say today whether the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program had opened first-class mail. Gonzales is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is holding hearings into the legality of President Bush's spying on Americans.

Gonzales was called to testify in part so that he could try to explain why President Bush ordered American phones wiretapped and e-mail searched by the NSA without approval from the spy court known as FISA, short for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Gonzales also told the Senate committee that information from the surveillance is "collected and retained." Whether the intelligence gathered in this way could be held and used in other cases or for other purposes is unclear. Gonzales would not say whether surveillance information was used in programs other than the NSA intercepts.

And he refused to answer a question from California Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein on whether he believes the posse comitatus act could be suspended. That act prohibits the military from intervening in domestic affairs.

The Bush administration has repeatedly insisted it informed leaders of both parties in Congress before the NSA programs was begun. Feinstein has said that when the White House sought to insert language approving electronic surveillance "inside the U.S." into legislation, Tom Daschle, then minority leader, had replied, "absolutely not."

In answer to a question from Republican senator Mike DeWine of Ohio, Gonzales said that despite an increase in staff, it still "takes too long to get FISA's approved," adding, "My applications are often an inch thick. . . . Members of the FISA court are heroes. . . . They are killing themselves making themselves available to sign off," but they're just not fast enough.

The subject of opening mail came up in this exchange between Gonzales and Democratic senator of Vermont this morning when the senator asked whether Bush believes his supposed authorization would be enough to allow the government to open people's mail.

"There is all kinds of wild speculation out there about what the president has authorized and what we're actually doing," Gonzales said.

"You're not answering my question," Leahy retorted.

"Does this law authorize the opening of first-class mail of U.S. citizens? Yes or no?"

"That's not what's going on," Gonzales said. "We are only focusing on international communications, where one part of the conversation is al Qaeda."

Gonzales later confused the senators by saying transmissions within the U.S. among al Qaeda individuals and cells were not covered by the NSA program. The attorney general elaborated on this point, saying that other laws covered intercepts of such transmissions, and that the Justice Department was monitoring those intercepts.

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Bush Eavesdropping - How's it Done
by Bob Burnett 6 Feb 06

In December, The New York Times revealed that the Bush Administration, has been eavesdropping on our phone calls, without a court order. Although the exact nature of this surveillance is highly classified, it appears that the White House has gone on a massive “fishing trip;” one that invades the privacy of thousands of ordinary Americans and violates the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act. This is the first of three articles about Administration eavesdropping – here, I dust off my techie skills and suggest how it’s being done.
The White House has resolutely defended warrantless eavesdropping, saying that we are at war and clandestine surveillance helps to protect us. in a speech at Kansas State University, President Bush explained, “What I'm talking about is the intercept of certain communications emanating between somebody inside the United States and outside the United States; and one of the numbers would be reasonably suspected to be an al Qaeda link or affiliate. In other words, we have ways to determine whether or not someone can be an al Qaeda affiliate or al Qaeda. And if they're making a phone call in the United States, it seems like to me we want to know why.”

Later the same day, the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, appeared on The PBS News Hour. Asked why the Administration didn’t honor FISA, which requires a special court to authorize eavesdropping, Gonzales responded, “For operational reasons, there were some issues that made it difficult to use FISA.”

The Attorney General wouldn’t elaborate, but others have suggested “operational reasons” why the Bush Administration isn’t using FISA to obtain a warrant. One would be that the sending or receiving telephone number was obtained using torture or that the informant is held in violation of US law. However, most civil-rights activists believe that the tapped phone number resulted from a gigantic fishing expedition, so called “data mining,” that the courts would not approve of.

Most Americans don’t understand what is meant by “data mining,” a digital “fishing expedition.” To clarify what’s happening, I’ve created a hypothetical scenario: Suppose that my daughter is in India visiting her in laws. I call her to wish her a happy birthday. Instead of dialing the country code for India, 91, I dial the country code for Pakistan, 92; and instead of dialing the city code for Bombay, 22, I dial the city code for Karachi, 21. I make a transposition error. As a result, instead of getting my daughter’s extended family, I reach the office of the “Jihad R Us” madrasah. When I am greeted in Urdu, I realize my mistake and hang up. Meanwhile, the National Security Agency computers monitoring international calls note that I have contacted “an organization that is affiliated with al-Qaida.”

In addition to phone traffic, the NSA computers have access to all my personal and financial data. Alerted by my call, their software scans my digital records and finds that I recently made a contribution, by means of my Visa card, to an organization in Pakistan – they don’t care that it was for humanitarian assistance to earthquake refugees. At this point, the NSA computers flag me as a “possible terrorist sympathizer;” their software decision logic, their algorithm looks at my data and computes my “threat score,” like the FICO score assigned to determine credit worthiness. Because I have a threat score above a certain threshold, the NSA software makes an algorithmic decision to monitor my phone calls, read my email, and check my financial transactions. The NSA computer system goes “fishing” in my personal data. This is “data mining;” looking for patterns in massive amounts of data. In this case the NSA software is looking for actions – phone calls, money transfers – that indicate an al-Qaida supporter.

According to New York Times reporters Eric Lichtbau and James Risen the automated process that I have described, the decision to place Americans under digital surveillance has been made roughly 500 times per day, every day since 9/11. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been caught in NSA’s fishing net. This explains why the Bush Administration hasn’t followed the FISA procedures; the NSA computer system is flagging many Americans as suspects and doing so without probable cause – the FISA courts wouldn’t permit this if they knew about it.

Bear in mind that all the eavesdropping decisions are made by computer software. The NSA software scrutinizes my daily transaction stream auto magically; they eavesdrop on all my phone and email traffic as well as my credit card and bank transfers – everywhere I leave a digital trail. In real time they scan my digital communications for key words such as “bomb,” “attack,” or anything else that they deem to be a trigger. They also watch to see if I am sending money to suspicious organizations, or have made unusually large cash withdrawals or deposits.

I am a computer-literate individual in a high-tech culture. As a result I leave a broad trail littered with digital breadcrumbs. The NSA bloodhounds gobble this up.

Of course, I don’t know that I’m under surveillance. Neither do the courts. Only the NSA computers know, and the Bush Administration - “big brother” is watching me.

Next time, is this legal?

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and Quaker actvist. He is particularly interested in progressive morality and writes frequently on the ethical aspects of political and social issues.
Comment: These speculations are based on the idea that the Neocons are spying on ordinary Americans all day long. Give it a REST! Do you actually think that Bush and Gang actually would spend their time listening in on conversations between Junior and his granny in Pakistan? Get real! Do you think Karl Rove is stupid? Do you think he - or ANY of them - really think that there are "terrorists" in America?

Of course not. They know that the whole "terrorist threat" is manufactured. They aren't going to waste their time looking for something that they created in their sick imaginations.

So, WHO are they REALLY spying on? And why did they out themselves as they did?

Obviously, they outed themselves because they had to. They had intell that Risen's book was going to spill the beans. How did they get that info?

Why, by spying on him of course! Sure, we read: "President George W. Bush was so desperate to stop The New York Times' secret spy program story he summoned Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Executive Editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office to try to talk them out of running it, Newsweek reported on its Web site on Monday." That smacks of smokescreen. Do you really believe that if the President wanted the Times to keep quiet that there would be a problem? After Judy Miller? Get real.

So, what other journalists, congressmen, judges, various other government officials are they REALLY spying on? After all, considering the nature of these creatures that have taken over the U.S., you have to know that they are only going to expend their energy on things that will bring them the biggest rewards of money and power. The hoopla about spying on innocent Americans to ferret out terrorists is just a smokescreen.

Get a clue, folks!

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Ex-President Carter: Eavesdropping Illegal
By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY Associated Press Writer

HENDERSON, Nev. - Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program Monday and said he believes the president has broken the law.

"Under the Bush administration, there's been a disgraceful and illegal decision - we're not going to the let the judges or the Congress or anyone else know that we're spying on the American people," Carter told reporters. "And no one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated under this secret act."
Carter made the remarks at a union hall near Las Vegas, where his oldest son, Jack Carter, announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

The former president also rebuked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for telling Congress that the spying program is authorized under Article 2 of the Constitution and does not violate the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed during Carter's administration. Gonzales made the assertions in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which began investigating the eavesdropping program Monday.

"It's a ridiculous argument, not only bad, it's ridiculous. Obviously, the attorney general who said it's all right to torture prisoners and so forth is going to support the person who put him in office. But he's a very partisan attorney general and there's no doubt that he would say that," Carter said. "I hope that eventually the case will go to the Supreme Court. I have no doubt that when it's over, the Supreme Court will rule that Bush has violated the law."

The former president said he would testify before the Judiciary Committee if asked.

"If my voice is important to point of the intent of the law that was passed when I was president, I know all about that because it was one of the most important decisions I had to make."
Comment: The object of the illegal spying wasn't really to target innocent Americans as the Neocons would like us all to think: it was, purely and simply, to spy on political opponents, journalists, and to obtain material for blackmail so as to completely control the
political process. As Paul Craig Roberts has written:

We have reached a point where the Bush administration is determined to totally eclipse the people. Bewitched by neoconservatives and lustful for power, the Bush administration and the Republican Party are aligning themselves firmly against the American people. Their first victims, of course, were the true conservatives. Having eliminated internal opposition, the Bush administration is now using blackmail obtained through illegal spying on American citizens to silence the media and the opposition party.

Before flinching at my assertion of blackmail, ask yourself why President Bush refuses to obey the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The purpose of the FISA court is to ensure that administrations do not spy for partisan political reasons. The warrant requirement is to ensure that a panel of independent federal judges hears a legitimate reason for the spying, thus protecting a president from the temptation to abuse the powers of government. The only reason for the Bush administration to evade the court is that the Bush administration had no legitimate reasons for its spying. This should be obvious even to a naif.[...]

The years of illegal spying have given the Bush administration power over the media and the opposition. Journalists and Democratic politicians don't want to have their adulterous affairs broadcast over television or to see their favorite online porn sites revealed in headlines in the local press with their names attached. Only people willing to risk such disclosures can stand up for the country.

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Dissent isn't terrorism - Public should know whether Pentagon is spying on peaceful Brevard protesters
Editorial Florida Today 6 Feb 06

How does spying on a Brevard mom pushing a baby stroller, or an 85-year-old retiree or a woman in a wheelchair mesh with President Bush's claim he needs expanded surveillance powers to protect the nation from terrorists?

It doesn't.

But that didn't stop the Melbourne Police Department from videotaping those peaceful anti-Bush demonstrators on Inauguration Day last year, or the Brevard Sheriff's Office from creating dossiers on them.
And it didn't stop an undercover sheriff's agent from infiltrating a meeting of citizens planning a peace rally, or sheriff's employees photographing participants, or clandestine spying on many other peaceful local demonstrations since 2002.

It's all in public records, and reams of additional records show that since 9/11, government agencies have carried out the same kind of chilling surveillance of citizens nationwide.

That's why we strongly back the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida's effort to see how far that spying extends.

The chapter has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out if the Pentagon has been spying on Florida citizens legally and peacefully protesting government policies.

The group also is asking whether the Brevard Sheriff's Office and federal agencies are sharing information on such citizens. And if so, why.

The filing seeks any information on the Florida ACLU chapter and seven other organizations, including Brevard groups Patriots for Peace, Melbourne Counter Inaugural, and the Global Network Against Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, which has local members.

It also wants information on four Brevard peace activists.

Similar filings have been made across the county -- and for good reason.

Recently, some groups, including the Fort Lauderdale Friends Meeting -- the Quakers -- discovered they are listed in the Pentagon's TALON database.

TALON is supposed to track terror threats. But, the ACLU says, it has been gathering information on peaceful activists and monitoring anti-war and anti-military recruitment demonstrations.

Following exposure of the domestic spying, the Defense Department last month said it would offer intelligence personnel "refresher training" on collecting information on U.S. persons.

And following public pressure last year, the Melbourne Police Department and the Brevard Sheriff's Office said they would start using surveillance only when there was a credible threat of criminal activity.

There is no question the nation must make every effort to find and stop real terrorists. But what has been revealed over the past year shows a politically motivated waste of precious resources needed for that fight.

It is also reminiscent of the ugly "Red Scare" McCarthyism of the 1950s, and the Nixon administration's use of government agencies to intimidate opponents and stifle Vietnam War dissent.

Abuse of government power under the guise of security is intolerable in a free nation.

To show it fully understands the constitutional guarantee of free speech, the Defense Department must respond to the records requests -- quickly and completely.

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How To Become a Dictator
by Jacob G. Hornberger June 28, 2004

SOTT Introduction: The current US Administration uses the term "liberal" to demonize their opponents. They also compare their enemies - generally "liberals" - to Adolf Hitler. We also notice that the word "nazi" gets a lot of play, such as when the new German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, recently referred to the "Iran threat" as being "as bad as the Nazis". This is truly bizarre when you consider the fact that the real Nazis were rabidly "anti-liberal." They, too, used the term "liberal" as if it were a bad word and generally, they applied it to communists, labor unions, or anybody who was in favor of the Power of the Citizens, the workers.

People today often wonder how the Nazis actually came to power in a civilized and modern country, particularly when they consider that the Nazi regime was among the most criminal, barbarous and immoral that the world has ever witnessed. The fact is that the Nazis made huge efforts to present themselves as the defenders of conventional social and moral values. They presented themselves as guarantors of public decency and law and order. The Nazis suppressed homosexuals and pornography just as Bush and his coterie of Christocrats seek to do. They were the "Compassionate Conservatives" of their time and Papa Adolf was the "strong man" who was going to chase all the nasty Communist Terrorists away.

The daily reality of the Third Reich was a complex mixture of fear and bribery, terror and concessions, barbarism and appeals to conventional moral values which were employed in order to gain and maintain a grip on German society. Does that sound familiar?

Thousands of opponents of the Nazis were, indeed, rounded up and hanged. Nazi activists (like primitive Swift Boat type gangs or such as Ann Coulter, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Hannity and Colmes) - not officially "approved", but officially allowed to operate, gloried in violence and hate. Long before Germany was officially declared a one-party state, open political dissent had come to an end by virtue of the attacks of such individuals and groups who had the tacit power and support of the Nazis behind them.

Another interesting thing about Nazis was their extreme hatred of Communists. Now here, we do not refer to communism as it came to be practiced - that is certainly not the manifestation of Communist ideology - nor do we think that Communism is a "state of the art" concept. It was merely a reaction of oppressed peoples to centuries of domination by the wealthy elite. So the early communist ideologues need to be understood as the common man fighting for justice.

The communists of Germany tried to protest the intensification of the Fascist dictatorship in the city of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) one morning. No sooner had the peaceful protesters assembled than about 500 Nazi Storm Troopers marched through the square. They tried to provoke the protesters to violence in ways similar to what the New York Police did to the anti-war protesters during the RNC. In Breslau, violence did erupt when the police began firing on the protesters, and this was used as a reason to ban the Communists and all rallies as a "threat to public order."

Sound familiar?

That evening, the Nazis celebrated their victory over the Communists by staging a huge demonstration of their own. Over 50,000 people took part in the center of Breslau. The square of the largest city in Eastern Germany became a sea of swastika flags and marching columns of brown-shirted storm troopers. And of course, we all know what those people went on to do. But that is hindsight. The German people didn't see it coming.

The Nazis didn't, at first, use direct state violence against their opponents. They used propaganda and roving bands of poor, violent, disaffected, and generally very disturbed individuals who later got a pat on the head and maybe a nice cushy position as a Storm Trooper - about the only place left where people had work and food. We should consider well the destruction of the American economy in this light. Very soon, Bush won't need the Draft to feed his war machine; it will be the only employer left in the U.S.

The term "Liberal" was used to describe both the Leftists and the Communists of Germany.

The Leftists of Germany were known as "Social Democrats." These were largely trade unions, worker's organizations and so on.

There was tacit encouragement by the government for the violence against the "Left." Leading members of the left-wing parties were arrested as the various police forces and Nazi formations began to coordinate their activities. Attempts by the Social Democrats or Communists to hold election rallies were broken up with growing frequency. The left-wing press was suppressed, and by the time of the elections in Germany, violence from such disaffected youths in the guise of Brown Shirts, Storm Troopers, as well as police repression, had combined to drive the Left from public view.

After the election, the Nazis turned their attention to rooting out and destroying the supporters of the now underground Left and Liberal parties. The once impressive supports of German Social Democracy, which had withstood Bismarck's attacks for fifty years, were destroyed piecemeal. We see the same process underway in real time. As Paul Craig Roberts writes:

We have reached a point where the Bush administration is determined to totally eclipse the people. Bewitched by neoconservatives and lustful for power, the Bush administration and the Republican Party are aligning themselves firmly against the American people. Their first victims, of course, were the true conservatives. Having eliminated internal opposition, the Bush administration is now using blackmail obtained through illegal spying on American citizens to silence the media and the opposition party.

Before flinching at my assertion of blackmail, ask yourself why President Bush refuses to obey the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The purpose of the FISA court is to ensure that administrations do not spy for partisan political reasons. The warrant requirement is to ensure that a panel of independent federal judges hears a legitimate reason for the spying, thus protecting a president from the temptation to abuse the powers of government. The only reason for the Bush administration to evade the court is that the Bush administration had no legitimate reasons for its spying. This should be obvious even to a naif.

The United States is undergoing a coup against the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civil liberties, and democracy itself. The "liberal press" has been co-opted. As everyone must know by now, the New York Times has totally failed its First Amendment obligations, allowing Judith Miller to make war propaganda for the Bush administration, suppressing for an entire year the news that the Bush administration was illegally spying on American citizens, and denying coverage to Al Gore's speech that challenged the criminal deeds of the Bush administration.

The TV networks mimic Fox News' faux patriotism. Anyone who depends on print, TV, or right-wing talk radio media is totally misinformed. The Bush administration has achieved a de facto Ministry of Propaganda.

The years of illegal spying have given the Bush administration power over the media and the opposition. Journalists and Democratic politicians don't want to have their adulterous affairs broadcast over television or to see their favorite online porn sites revealed in headlines in the local press with their names attached. Only people willing to risk such disclosures can stand up for the country.

The campaign against the Left and Liberals was all the more effective because of its ambiguous nature. There was no single, decisive confrontation. It was carried out both within and outside of the existing legal structure just as we see happening in the U.S. today. The Leftists and Liberals essentially faced what were "spontaneous" attacks from "marauding bands" of Nazis just as marauding bands of Bushistas dominate the media, roam the internet and the streets of the U.S. These types of attack are quite effective because, essentially, the power of the State stands behind them if only tacitly. When injustice is denounced, the administration can proclaim it is against illegal acts, but in fact, no prosecution will ever be undertaken, and if it is, it will not succeed.

Analysts suggest today that even if the Left and the Communists had been united, they would not have prevailed because once the Nazis and their conservatives controlled the State organs of power, as do Bush and his gang at present, the final piece being put into place with the confirmation of Samuel Alito, the police and the army were used effectively to eliminate opposition.

If the history of the Nazi seizure of power teaches us anything, it is that there is little the Liberals can do to stop a powerful Right Wing movement that has mass support, allies in powerful places (such as the media), and control of the repression apparatus of the State.

Of course, the Liberals were not the only targets of the Nazis: there were the Jews. But never forget that the assault on Germany's Jews took second place behind the attacks on the Left, and then it was only certain Jews, while others were collaborators and beneficiaries of the Nazi regime.

The Third Reich was only able to establish and maintain itself by being in a perpetual state of emergency. And mostly, they targeted "Liberals." It seems that a liberal then and now is anyone who values human life even if that human is different.

So, when you start flaming Liberals, Communists and the "Left," the only conclusion that can be drawn is that you are a Fascist - a Nazi.
Whenever U.S. officials wish to demonize someone, they inevitably compare him to Adolf Hitler. The message immediately resonates with people because everyone knows that Hitler was a brutal dictator.

But how many people know how Hitler actually became a dictator? My bet is, very few. I’d also bet that more than a few people would be surprised at how he pulled it off, especially given that after World War I Germany had become a democratic republic.

The story of how Hitler became a dictator is set forth in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer, on which this article is based.

In the presidential election held on March 13, 1932, there were four candidates: the incumbent, Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler, and two minor candidates, Ernst Thaelmann and Theodore Duesterberg. The results were:

Hindenburg 49.6 percent
Hitler 30.1 percent
Thaelmann 13.2 percent
Duesterberg 6.8 percent

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, almost 70 percent of the German people voted against Hitler, causing his supporter Joseph Goebbels, who would later become Hitler’s minister of propaganda, to lament in his journal, “We’re beaten; terrible outlook. Party circles badly depressed and dejected.”

Since Hindenberg had not received a majority of the vote, however, a runoff election had to be held among the top three vote-getters. On April 19, 1932, the runoff results were:

Hindenburg 53.0 percent
Hitler 36.8 percent
Thaelmann 10.2 percent

Thus, even though Hitler’s vote total had risen, he still had been decisively rejected by the German people.

On June 1, 1932, Hindenberg appointed Franz von Papen as chancellor of Germany, whom Shirer described as an “unexpected and ludicrous figure.” Papen immediately dissolved the Reichstag (the national congress) and called for new elections, the third legislative election in five months.

Hitler and his fellow members of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party, who were determined to bring down the republic and establish dictatorial rule in Germany, did everything they could to create chaos in the streets, including initiating political violence and murder. The situation got so bad that martial law was proclaimed in Berlin.

Even though Hitler had badly lost the presidential election, he was drawing ever-larger crowds during the congressional election. As Shirer points out,

In one day, July 27, he spoke to 60,000 persons in Brandenburg, to nearly as many in Potsdam, and that evening to 120,000 massed in the giant Grunewald Stadium in Berlin while outside an additional 100,000 heard his voice by loudspeaker.

Hitler’s rise to power

The July 31, 1932, election produced a major victory for Hitler’s National Socialist Party. The party won 230 seats in the Reichstag, making it Germany’s largest political party, but it still fell short of a majority in the 608-member body.

On the basis of that victory, Hitler demanded that President Hindenburg appoint him chancellor and place him in complete control of the state. Otto von Meissner, who worked for Hindenburg, later testified at Nuremberg,

Hindenburg replied that because of the tense situation he could not in good conscience risk transferring the power of government to a new party such as the National Socialists, which did not command a majority and which was intolerant, noisy and undisciplined.

Political deadlocks in the Reichstag soon brought a new election, this one in November 6, 1932. In that election, the Nazis lost two million votes and 34 seats. Thus, even though the National Socialist Party was still the largest political party, it had clearly lost ground among the voters.

Attempting to remedy the chaos and the deadlocks, Hindenburg fired Papen and appointed an army general named Kurt von Schleicher as the new German chancellor. Unable to secure a majority coalition in the Reichstag, however, Schleicher finally tendered his resignation to Hindenburg, 57 days after he had been appointed.

On January 30, 1933, President Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany. Although the National Socialists never captured more than 37 percent of the national vote, and even though they still held a minority of cabinet posts and fewer than 50 percent of the seats in the Reichstag, Hitler and the Nazis set out to to consolidate their power. With Hitler as chancellor, that proved to be a fairly easy task.

The Reichstag fire

On February 27, Hitler was enjoying supper at the Goebbels home when the telephone rang with an emergency message: “The Reichstag is on fire!” Hitler and Goebbels rushed to the fire, where they encountered Hermann Goering, who would later become Hitler’s air minister. Goering was shouting at the top of his lungs,

This is the beginning of the Communist revolution! We must not wait a minute. We will show no mercy. Every Communist official must be shot, where he is found. Every Communist deputy must this very day be strung up.

The day after the fire, the Prussian government announced that it had found communist publications stating,

Government buildings, museums, mansions and essential plants were to be burned down... . Women and children were to be sent in front of terrorist groups.... The burning of the Reichstag was to be the signal for a bloody insurrection and civil war.... It has been ascertained that today was to have seen throughout Germany terrorist acts against individual persons, against private property, and against the life and limb of the peaceful population, and also the beginning of general civil war.

So how was Goering so certain that the fire had been set by communist terrorists? Arrested on the spot was a Dutch communist named Marinus van der Lubbe. Most historians now believe that van der Lubbe was actually duped by the Nazis into setting the fire and probably was even assisted by them, without his realizing it.

Why would Hitler and his associates turn a blind eye to an impending terrorist attack on their national congressional building or actually assist with such a horrific deed? Because they knew what government officials have known throughout history — that during extreme national emergencies, people are most scared and thus much more willing to surrender their liberties in return for “security.” And that’s exactly what happened during the Reichstag terrorist crisis.

Suspending civil liberties

The day after the fire, Hitler persuaded President Hindenburg to issue a decree entitled, “For the Protection of the People and the State.” Justified as a “defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state,” the decree suspended the constitutional guarantees pertaining to civil liberties:

Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

Two weeks after the Reichstag fire, Hitler requested the Reichstag to temporarily delegate its powers to him so that he could adequately deal with the crisis. Denouncing opponents to his request, Hitler shouted, “Germany will be free, but not through you!” When the vote was taken, the result was 441 for and 84 against, giving Hitler the two-thirds majority he needed to suspend the German constitution. On March 23, 1933, what has gone down in German history as the “Enabling Act” made Hitler dictator of Germany, freed of all legislative and constitutional constraints.

The judiciary under Hitler

One of the most dramatic consequences was in the judicial arena. Shirer points out,

Under the Weimar Constitution judges were independent, subject only to the law, protected from arbitrary removal and bound at least in theory by Article 109 to safeguard equality before the law.

In fact, in the Reichstag terrorist case, while the court convicted van der Lubbe of the crime (who was executed), three other defendants, all communists, were acquitted, which infuriated Hitler and Goering. Within a month, the Nazis had transferred jurisdiction over treason cases from the Supreme Court to a new People’s Court, which, as Shirer points out,

soon became the most dreaded tribunal in the land. It consisted of two professional judges and five others chosen from among party officials, the S.S. and the armed forces, thus giving the latter a majority vote. There was no appeal from its decisions or sentences and usually its sessions were held in camera. Occasionally, however, for propaganda purposes when relatively light sentences were to be given, the foreign correspondents were invited to attend.

One of the Reichstag terrorist defendants, who had angered Goering during the trial with a severe cross-examination of Goering, did not benefit from his acquittal. Shirer explains:

The German communist leader was immediately taken into “protective custody,” where he remained until his death during the second war.

In addition to the People’s Court, which handled treason cases, the Nazis also set up the Special Court, which handled cases of political crimes or “insidious attacks against the government.” These courts

consisted of three judges, who invariably had to be trusted party members, without a jury. A Nazi prosecutor had the choice of bringing action in such cases before either an ordinary court or the Special Court, and invariably he chose the latter, for obvious reasons. Defense lawyers before this court, as before the Volksgerichtshof, had to be approved by Nazi officials. Sometimes even if they were approved they fared badly. Thus the lawyers who attempted to represent the widow of Dr. Klausener, the Catholic Action leader murdered in the Blood Purge, in her suit for damages against the State were whisked off to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where they were kept until they formally withdrew the action.

Even lenient treatment by the Special Court was no guarantee for the defendant, however, as Pastor Martin Niemoeller discovered when he was acquitted of major political charges and sentenced to time served for minor charges. Leaving the courtroom, Niemoeller was taken into custody by the Gestapo and taken to a concentration camp.

The Nazis also implemented a legal concept called Schutzhaft or “protective custody” which enabled them to arrest and incarcerate people without charging them with a crime. As Shirer put it,

Protective custody did not protect a man from possible harm, as it did in more civilized countries. It punished him by putting him behind barbed wire.

On August 2, 1934, Hindenburg died, and the title of president was abolished. Hitler’s title became Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor. Not surprisingly, he used the initial four-year “temporary” grant of emergency powers that had been given to him by the Enabling Act to consolidate his omnipotent control over the entire country.

Accepting the new order

Oddly enough, even though his dictatorship very quickly became complete, Hitler returned to the Reichstag every four years to renew the “temporary” delegation of emergency powers that it had given him to deal with the Reichstag-arson crisis. Needless to say, the Reichstag rubber-stamped each of his requests.

For their part, the German people quickly accepted the new order of things. Keep in mind that the average non-Jewish German was pretty much unaffected by the new laws and decrees. As long as a German citizen kept his head down, worked hard, took care of his family, sent his children to the public schools and the Hitler Youth organization, and, most important, didn’t involve himself in political dissent against the government, a visit by the Gestapo was very unlikely.

Keep in mind also that, while the Nazis established concentration camps in the 1930s, the number of inmates ranged in the thousands. It wouldn’t be until the 1940s that the death camps and the gas chambers that killed millions would be implemented. Describing how the average German adapted to the new order, Shirer writes,

The overwhelming majority of Germans did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away, that so much of culture had been destroyed and replaced with a mindless barbarism, or that their life and work had become regimented to a degree never before experienced even by a people accustomed for generations to a great deal of regimentation.... The Nazi terror in the early years affected the lives of relatively few Germans and a newly arrived observer was somewhat surprised to see that the people of this country did not seem to feel that they were being cowed.... On the contrary, they supported it with genuine enthusiasm. Somehow it imbued them with a new hope and a new confidence and an astonishing faith in the future of their country.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

This article originally appeared in the March 2004 edition of Freedom Daily.

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"Just As 'Legal' As Hitler was in 1933"

Hitler was asked - In September 1931: "How do you imagine the setting up of a Third Reich?" His reply was, "We will enter the legal organizations and will make our Party a decisive factor in this way. But when we do possess constitutional rights then we will form the State in the manner which we consider to be the right one." Hitler was asked: "This too by constitutional means?" Hitler replied: "Yes."

On 30 April 1928, Goebbels wrote in his paper "Der Angriff": "We enter parliament in order to supply ourselves, inside the arsenal of democracy, with its own weapons. We become members of the Reichstag in order to paralyze the liberal Weimar sentiment with its own assistance. If democracy is so stupid as to give us free tickets and per diem for the this "blockade" (Barendienst), that is its own affair." Later in the same article he continued: "We do not come as friend nor even as neutrals. We come as enemies: As the wolf bursts into the flock, so we come."

Goebbels said, in 1935: "When democracy granted democratic methods for us in the times of opposition, this could only happen in a democratic system. However, we National Socialists never asserted that we represented a democratic point of view, but we have declared openly that we used democratic methods only in order to gain the power and that, after assuming the power, we would deny to our adversaries, without any consideration, the means which were granted to us in the times of opposition."
First - Gonzales "Legalizes" Torture.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 - Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, intervened directly wi th Justice Department lawyers in 2002 to obtain a legal ruling on the extent of the president's authority to permit extreme interrogation practices in the name of national security.

A request by Mr. Gonzales produced the Justice Department memorandum of Aug. 1, 2002, which defined torture narrowly and said that Mr. Bush could circumvent domestic and international prohibitions against torture in the name of national security. The issue was whether al Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan should be accorded the Geneva Conventions' human rights protections.

Gonzales, after reviewing a legal brief from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, advised Bush verbally on Jan. 18, 2002, that he had authority to exempt the detainees from such protections. Bush agreed, reversing a decades-old policy aimed in part at ensuring equal treatment for U.S. military detainees around the world. Rumsfeld issued an order the next day to command ers that detainees would receive such protections only "to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity."

On January 25, 2002, Gonzales wrote a memo to President Bush arguing that the terrorism fight "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

''My judgment was ... that it would not apply to al-Qaida or others - as they weren't a signatory to the convention,'' he said.

When the text was leaked to the public last summer, it attracted scorn from military lawyers and human rights experts worldwide. Nigel Rodley, a British lawyer who served as the special U.N. reporter on torture and inhumane treatment from 1993 to 2001, remarked that its underlying doctrine "sounds like the discredited legal theories used by Latin American countries" to justify repression."

Second - Gonzales "Legalizes" Repression.

"WASHINGTON (Feb. 6) -- Attorney Gener al Alberto Gonzales insisted Monday that President Bush was "acting with authority" both under the Constitution and federal law in eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. In a statement prepared for the hearing, Gonzales called the monitoring program "reasonable" and "lawful."

Gonzales, who was not sworn in, told the committee, "As the president has explained, the terrorist surveillance program operated by the (electronic-monitoring National Security Agency) requires the maximum in speed and agility, since even a very short delay may make the difference between success and failure in preventing the next attack."

His arguments reiterated those defending President Bush's decision to allow the NSA to eavesdrop, without first obtaining warrants, on people inside the United States whose calls or e-mails may be linked to terrorism.

But in his prepared remarks, Gonzales said he could not discuss how the program works, as skeptics of the program have demanded . "An open discussion of the operational details of this program would put the lives of Americans at risk," he said.

Gonzales argued that Congress did, in fact, authorize the president in September 2001 to use military force in the war on terror.

He noted that the legislation "calls on the president to protect Americans both 'at home and abroad,'" and "to take action to prevent further terrorist attacks 'against the United States.'"

But congressional Democrats have said they did not intend to order domestic surveillance."

And so - as the Chicago Mafia Gangsters used to say - "The Fix Is In" -

The Bush "legal mouthpiece" has produced "Legalized Torture and Repression" - Just like Germany had in 1933.

Alberto Gonzales is a lot like Franz Gurtner, another conservative nationalist lawyer and judge - who was appointed by Hitler to head the Reich Ministry of Justice, and who got along - very well - with the Nazis despite not being a Nazi himself.

How did the German Legal system change as a result of Nazi 'leadership'?

Fear-mongering was the main tool used to change the law, and to undermine civil liberties. So, where the constitution was changed, the code of criminal procedure was also changed, extraordinary powers were vested in the Executive, including extensive police powers; and the powers of an independent judiciary were destroyed.

This was all done based on a "terrorist menace." And exactly what the menace was, shifted from time to time during the Nazi period. It was a matter of opportunism, or convenience.

Judges couldn't be impartial anymore. They used only Nazi interpretations in making their decisions. In the everyday practice of law the ideas of the Fuhrer (Hitler) were silently but loyally followed. People feared the legal system, but nobody could - legally - stop Hitler. And even Nazis no longer had the civil rights once guaranteed by the German constitution.

Hitler was asked - In September 1931: "How do you imagine the setting up of a Third Reich?" His reply was, " We will enter the legal organizations and will make our Party a decisive factor in this way. But when we do possess constitutional rights then we will form the State in the manner which we consider to be the right one." Hitler was asked: "This too by constitutional means ?" Hitler replied: "Yes."

Nazi conspirators participated in German elections, the legal system, and in the Reichstag to undermine the parliamentary and judicial system of the German Republic and to replace it with a dictatorship of their own.

On 30 April 1928, Goebbels wrote in his paper "Der Angriff": "We enter parliament in order to supply ourselves, inside the arsenal of democracy, with its own weapons. We become members of the Reichstag in order to paralyze the liberal Weimar sentiment with its own assistance. If democracy is so stupid as to give us free tickets and per diem for the this "blockade" (Barendienst), that is its own affair." Later in the same article he continued: "We do not come as friend nor even as neutrals. We come as enemies: As the wolf bursts into the flock, so we come."

Crucially, Gurtner - like Alito and Gonzales - ruled that vital "national interests" - as defined by Hitler as head of state - had precedence over the rule of law. Time and time again, Gurtner supported unlawful measures and even murders, because they had been declared by Hitler as crucial for the "survival of the state." That's what makes the efforts by some American lawyers - like Alito and Gonzales - and most GOP politicians - to argue that the president can and should be above the law - so disturbing.

It appears that the GOP has transformed America into a society where we are ruled by 'special men' - rather than by laws - so we are all subject to the whims of the president and his appointees.

A president or appointee who imagines himself to be above the law is mentally and morally unfit to serve in public office; government lawyers who argue that the president is above the law are apologists for a dictatorship. They are the modern equivalents of Franz Gurtner, justifying the Nazi abuse of power and legal authority in the name of 'national security'.

[L]ike Hitler, the top police officials were open about the fact that they did not see themselves as bound by legal norms. In a speech to the Academy of German Law in October, 1936, Himmler bluntly stated: "Right from the start I took the view that it did not matter in the least if our actions were contrary to some clause in the law; in my work for the Fuhrer and the nation, I do what my conscience and common sense tells me is right."

Disregard for the letter of the law was seen as crucial to the Nazi defense of 'national interests.' The German police styled itself the "domestic army." Just as the German army on the battlefield could not be subject to legal regulat ion, so too, it was claimed, the fight of the German police at home must not be constrained by the rule of law.

American soldiers and government contractors continue to violate the Geneva Conventions and laws against torture to serve the interests of their president and his appointees. They do what their immediate superiors tell them to do - as directed by both implicit and explicit statements from others high up the chain of command. Their actions are wrong, and they justify themselves by the same excuses used by police and military officials in Nazi Germany.

Today domestic surveillance exceeds that which is permitted by US law. Police, FBI, and National Security personnel believe that their attempts to fight terrorism justifies ignoring the law - indeed, they argue that laws which protect the rights of the accused and the innocent simply hamper police investigations and need to be curtailed. Franz Gurtner and Alberto Gonzales certainly agree.

As Himmler explained to German army generals on 21 June 1944, he could not care less whether the actions were legal or not: "What is necessary for Germany will be done, however horrifying it may be."

The legal system, Hitler warned (in a speech to the Reichstag on 26 April 1942), must have only one thought: German Victory. It was high time, he continued, that the legal system realized that it did not exist for its own sake, but for 'national interests'.

Goebbels said, in 1935: "When democracy granted democratic methods for us in the times of opposition, this could only happen in a democratic system. However, we National Socialists never asserted that we represented a democratic point of view, but we have declared openly that we used democratic methods only in order to gain the power and that, after assuming the power, we would deny to our adversaries, without any consideration, the means which were granted to us in the times of opposition."

A leading Nazi writer on Constitution al Law, Ernst Rudolf Huber, later wrote of this period: "The parliamentary battle of the NSDAP had the single purpose of destroying the parliamentary system from within through its own methods. It was necessary above all to make formal use of the possibilities of the party-state system but to refuse real cooperation and thereby to render the parliamentary system, which is by nature dependent upon the responsible cooperation of the opposition, incapable of action."

And today, GOP appointees like Gonzales and Alito and virtually all GOP elected officials think - and act - exactly like Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and Franz Gurtner - and no longer have to care whether their actions are legal or not, as they impose the "Rule of Bush" over the stupid US Sheeple.

And they're just as "Legal" as Hitler was in 1933.

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Echoes of Fascism: Rhetoric We've Heard Before
by Katherine Brengle 7 Feb 06

"My administration has focused the nation's resources on our highest priority - protecting our citizens and our homeland. Working with Congress, we have given our men and women on the front lines in the war on terror the funding they need to defeat the enemy and detect, disrupt and dismantle terrorist plots and operations." - George W. Bush

"An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland." -Adolph Hitler

According to Dr. Lawrence Britt’s “14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism,” we are in big trouble here in the Disunited States of America. While the American right continues to laugh at our comparisons of Bush’s ongoing rhetoric and the rhetoric of fascist dictator Adolf Hitler, it is no laughing matter.
We do not make these comparisons lightly, nor do they give us joy.

Dr. Britt named these as the fourteen defining characteristics of fascism:

* Powerful and continuing nationalism
* Disdain for the recognition of human rights
* Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
* Supremacy of the military
* Rampant sexism
* Controlled mass media
* Obsession with national security
* Religion and government intertwined
* Corporate power protected
* Labor power suppressed
* Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
* Obsession with crime and punishment
* Rampant cronyism and corruption
* Fraudulent elections

The talking heads of the radical right like to point out that Hitler belonged to his country’s socialist party, but I ask them to consider this: If you run far enough to the left, you will eventually cross over into the right. The political spectrum is really more of a circle, not a straight line. In addition, using a socialist platform to win the hearts and minds of the people does not make one a socialist. Kind of like how using a platform of “compassionate conservatism” doesn’t automatically make one compassionate or conservative.

Our current government promotes unquestioning patriotism, policies of torture and indefinite detainment without access to counsel, identification of Islamic terrorists as something all US citizens must live in fear of every day, the importance of strengthening our military while cutting funding for other government programs, the abolition of the legal right for a woman to make her own health decisions, and discrimination against homosexuals. Our mainstream mass media is controlled by the right. Our President is obsessed with national security, maintaining the power of corporations to drive policy, pollute the environment, and ship American jobs overseas and south of the border. The American right shows a clear disdain for labor unions and their objectives. Intellectuals are not respected for their knowledge, but mocked. The very word “intellectual” is used as an insult by the right. The conservative-heavy US government is constantly touting its “tough on crime” image while simultaneously languishing in more corruption than the majority of Americans are even aware of. And our elections have become a worldwide joke.

It’s more than a little bit scary.

And what is scarier is the fanaticism with which right-wing commentators support our descent into fascism. In her August 17, 2005 column, conservative radical Ann Coulter (best known of late for her suggestion that someone assassinate Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens) had this to say, “America has been under relentless attack from Islamic terrorists for 20 years, culminating in a devastating attack on U.S. soil on 9/11 . It's not going to stop unless we fight back, annihilate Muslim fanatics, destroy their bases, eliminate their sponsors and end all their hope.” She is also well-known for saying, a few years ago, that we should invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity. Coulter, of course, is widely considered a hack and a radical, so let’s not stop there.

The American right shudders in disgust when a liberal accuses the government or the right-wing media of propagating fascist policies. However, they aren’t so disgusted that they can’t use the same words to describe us:

"In Newton County, Georgia, the ACLU threatened a school board with litigation if it didn't remove the words 'Christmas holiday' from the school calendar. The county caved and removed the words because it couldn't afford to defend the lawsuit. This, ladies and gentlemen, is fascism, that is, using the threat of terror, which a lawsuit is, to promote policy" (Bill O’Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/2/03).

Of course, it is more than appropriate for the President of the United States to use the constant threat of terrorism to justify the illegal torture of detainees, the illegal denial of counsel to detainees, the illegal wiretapping of American citizens, the illegal… No, forget it, I don’t have enough time to write this list.

The truth is, the right wing has taken over all branches of the United States government consistently using the threat of terrorism and the memory of September 11th. This reeks of fascism.

And our government will continue to travel toward becoming a fascist regime if we do not fight for change.

Katherine Brengle is a freelance writer and activist. She is also a member of Military Families Speak Out, and her husband currently serves with the United States Marine Corps in Iraq.

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The Voice of the White House 6 Feb 06

Democracy, as a relative once said, is government of the mentally misfit by the mentally mediocre, tempered by the saving grace of snobbery. The latter is now a dead issue and we have creatures like George Bush and Tony Blair as beau ideals for the great mass of moral deadbeats that cover the surface of the earth like gnats.

February 6, 2006: “I am going to present here a study of the growing uproar over the “sacrilegious cartoons that has achieved real legs and seriously threatens to start a genuine jihad, or holy war, between Muslims and the rest of the world. I am sending on copies of the Danish cartoons in spite of the hypocritical warnings by our Department of State to the American media not to publish them because the President considers them to be offensive.”

This statement, like almost any other one coming from any government agency controlled by Bush, is a bald-faced lie. Bush, his Jewish advisers and his fanatic evangelical Christian core supporters have been loudely clamoring for a holy war against all Muslims for years now and Bush is in full agreement with their avowed aims.

However, the totally unexpected and very violent reaction who what are really not that offensive satires, has caused him to don the garments of a pious leader and protest out of one side of his lopsided mouth while out of the other, he is trying to find a way to obliterate the Iranians, the Syrians and even the non-Moslim Russians

The days of civilized behavior are long gone, regretfully.

In the 18th century, the generals waited until after the harvest was in to attack and they never attacked cities or made war on civilians as is now the filthy custom.

In earlier times, there were terrible religious wars, Catholics versus Protestants, but as civilization advanced, these were replaced with nationalism.

In my youth, I knew many of the old time aristocracy who, although poor and often dispossessed of their ancestral lands, nevertheless were highly civilized people and a pleasure to know.

What they have now are malicious, crooked Jewish politicians and businessmen, balanced by malicious, crooked Gentile politicians and businessmen, all run by rapacious, vicious and very ill-educated creatures who, in the old days, I personally would never have allowed in my house, and in the eighteenth century, would have had the servants chase off the grounds with sticks on their backs and dogs snapping at their legs.

Democracy, as a relative once said, is government of the mentally misfit by the mentally mediocre, tempered by the saving grace of snobbery. The latter is now a dead issue and we have creatures like George Bush and Tony Blair as beau ideals for the great mass of moral deadbeats that cover the surface of the earth like gnats.

I keep looking for decency and civility but it is sleeping somewhere and cannot be woken.

I told someone recently that the entire issue of anti-American terrorism on the part of the world Muslim community could be instantly ended. The sole cause of this is the blind subservience of all levels of the American government to Israeli interests.

We should follow George Washington's excellent advice when he adjured America to stay out of foreign quarrels, mind its own business and trade with everyone. Both my friends in the American government and the Muslim communities agree with this without reservation but although it is sensible, it will never happen.

The filthy Yahoos are drawing a huge bill on the rest of us and we will have to pay it, soon enough.”

Here is one of many comments from an outraged Muslim: Ed.

"If blasphemy were the problem, the loud voices raised in protest have very successfully disseminated the blasphemy - much more effectively than the misguided Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, that originally published the cartoons. The protests have turned the issue into a full-blown news story, and millions of people who would not otherwise have done so have now seen the cartoons.

"At the same time of course, the protesters' flag-burnings and threats against the various publishers of the cartoons do nothing but harden anti-Muslim attitudes in the West. And this is what it's all about. Poke each other often enough with a stick - or a cartoon, or a fuel-laden airliner - and tolerance wears thin. Forget the "winning hearts and minds" drivel, or at least collapse in hysterical laughter over it. Civilizational war is what the protagonists want, and that's what they're getting."

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The Effectiveness Thing
By PAUL KRUGMAN NY Times February 6, 2006

We are ruled by bunglers. Every major venture by the Bush administration, from the occupation of Iraq to the Medicare drug program, has turned into an epic saga of incompetence. In retrospect, the Clinton years look like a golden era of good government.

Given the Bush administration's evident inability to govern, Democratic electoral victories should be a sure thing. But they aren't. Why?
Before I try to answer that question, let me justify my assertion — which is sure to generate a lot of angry mail — that Bill Clinton knew how to govern, while George W. Bush doesn't. All you have to do is consider the rise and fall of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Under the elder George Bush, FEMA was used as a dumping ground for political cronies, with predictable results. Descriptions of FEMA's response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 sound just like the response to Katrina: for three days FEMA was nowhere to be found, and when it finally arrived its relief efforts were utterly incompetent.

Bill Clinton changed all that by choosing James Lee Witt, who knew a lot about disaster management, to run FEMA, and encouraging him to run the agency professionally. The result was a spectacular improvement in performance. FEMA, formerly considered one of the worst agencies in the federal government, won praise for its quick and effective responses to events like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

But George W. Bush restored the practice of stuffing FEMA with cronies; the ludicrous Michael Brown is gone, but others remain. And the agency has reverted to impotence and incompetence.

As FEMA went, so went government as a whole.

On one side, FEMA's rebirth under Mr. Clinton wasn't unique. For example, a similar tale of miraculous turnaround can be told about the Veterans Health Administration. And I'd argue that there was a broad improvement in the government's professionalism during the Clinton era.

On the other side, what happened to FEMA starting in 2001 is typical: politicization and cronyism have become standard operating procedure throughout the federal government, even when the need for professionalism is obvious. (Recall how unqualified political loyalists were sent to run Iraq during the crucial first year.) That's one main reason President Bush has failed at everything he's tried except cutting taxes — and winning elections.

Which brings me to the political puzzle. Our leaders' bungling hasn't escaped public notice: more than half of Americans say that the Bush administration has been a failure. Yet it's not at all clear that Democrats can translate this sentiment into large political gains — because despite the governing skill of the last Democratic administration, the public doesn't think of Democrats as being effective.

A lot of this has to do with the way the news media cover politics: they focus mainly on Washington, and many news organizations — especially the broadcast media — prefer to do horse-race stories rather than discuss policy issues. And from that point of view, the Democrats present a sorry spectacle. Not only are they a minority in Congress, shut out of power; they're an undisciplined minority constantly facing defections from their own ranks on crucial issues.

The issue of Iraq epitomizes the political paradox. The war has been a monstrous policy failure, but it remains a political asset to the Bush administration, because it divides the Democrats and makes them look ineffectual.

Yet if the Democrats could present a united front on Iraq, they'd probably have a lot of public support. You'd never know it from the range of views represented on the Sunday talk shows, but a majority of Americans believes both that the administration deliberately misled the nation about W.M.D.'s and that we should set a timetable for withdrawal.

And the public's views on other issues seem to favor the Democratic position — or, rather, what the Democratic position would probably be if the Democrats could agree on one — even more strongly. For example, the public believes by two to one that the government should guarantee health insurance for all Americans.

The point is that Democrats are largely winning the battle of ideas: on the issues, public opinion is shifting in their direction. But to take advantage of that shift, they have to overcome an image of ineffectiveness that is partly the fault of the news media, but largely the result of their own disunion.
Comment: "Why?" Paul Krugman asks. Why does Dubya fill all the top government posts with incompetent cronies? Well, this is NOT a new thing, Paul. It's history. Andrew Lobaczewski even studied it and wrote about it:
Pathocracy at the summit of governmental organization also does not constitute the entire picture of the “mature phenomenon”. Such a system of government has nowhere to go but down. Any leadership position - down to village headman and community cooperative mangers, not to mention the directors of police units, and special-services police personnel, and activists in the pathocratic party - must be filled by individuals whose feeling of linkage to such a regime is conditioned by corresponding psychological deviations, which are inherited as a rule. However, such people become more valuable because they constitute a very small percentage of the population. Their intellectual level or professional skills cannot be taken into account, since people representing superior abilities with the requisite psychological deviations - are even harder to find. After such a system has lasted several years, one hundred percent of all the cases of essential psychopathy are involved in pathocratic activity; they are considered the most loyal, even though some of them were formerly involved on the other side in some way. Under such conditions, no area of social life can develop normally, whether in economics, culture, science, technology, administration, etc. Pathocracy progressively paralyzes everything. [...] The following question thus suggests itself: what happens if the network of understandings among psychopaths achieves power in leadership positions with international exposure? This can happen, especially during the later phases of the phenomenon. Goaded by their character, such people thirst for just that even though it would conflict with their own life interest… They do not understand that a catastrophe would ensue. Germs are not aware that they will be burned alive or buried deep in the ground along with the human body whose death they are causing. If the many managerial positions of a government are assumed by individuals deprived of sufficient abilities to feel and understand most other people and who also have deficiencies as regards technical imagination and practical skills - faculties indispensable for governing economic and political matters - this must result in an exceptionally serious crisis in all areas, both within the country in question and with regard to international relations. Within, the situation shall become unbearable even for those citizens who were able to feather their nest into a relatively comfortable “modus vivendi”. Outside, other societies start to feel the pathological quality of the phenomenon quite distinctly. Such a state of affairs cannot last long.
No, there is no possibility of winning a battle against a gang of fascists that control all the major organs of state AND the media, and who do not hesitate to fix elections. As Stalin said: "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes." What he actually said was "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything," but it's the same thing.

That's what we are up against and anybody who can't see it doesn't have their eyes open.

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The Secret World of Stephen Cambone
By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR February 7, 2006

Rumsfeld's Enforcer

The grave fellow in the business suit sitting between two uniformed generals at the witness table during the senate hearings about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib was Dr. Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, known throughout the Pentagon as Donald Rumsfeld's "chief henchman". In his testimony before the committee, Cambone was unapologetic and almost as dismissive as the ridiculous Sen. James Inhofe about the global disgust which erupted over the abuse and murder of Iraqi prisoners of war. Cambone, an apex neo-con and veteran of the Project for the New American Century, evinced disdain not only for the senatorial inquiry but also at a squeamish Lieutenant General Antonio Taguba, who sat next him, looking as if he suspected that he might well be the next one leashed to Cambone's bureaucratic pillory.
A Republican staffer on the Senate foreign relations Committee tells CounterPunch the little-known Cambone, who like so many others on the Bush war team skillfully avoided military service, has quietly become one of the most powerful men in the Pentagon, rivaling even Paul Wolfowitz. "Cambone is a truly dangerous player", the staffer said. "He is Rumsfeld's guard dog, implacably loyal. While Wolfowitz positions himself to step into the top spot should Rumsfeld get axed, Cambone has dug in and gone to war against the insurgents in the Pentagon. Cambone's fingerprints are all over the occupation and the interrogation scandal. For him, there's no turning back".

Cambone has stealthily positioned himself as the most powerful intelligence operator in the Bush administration. On May 8, 2003, Rumsfeld named him Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, a new position which Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz described thus: "The new office is in charge of all intelligence and intelligence-related oversight and policy guidance functions". In practice, this means that Cambone controls the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the National Reconnaissance Organization, the National Security Agency, the Defense Security Service and Pentagon's Counter-Intelligence Field Activity. Cambone meets with the heads of these agencies, as well as top officials at the CIA and National Security Council twice a week to give them their marching orders.

One senate staffer tells us he has more operational sway than George Tenet or Condi Rice. His rise to power has been quiet, almost unnoticed until the Abu Ghraib scandal forced him briefly into the spotlight. Indeed, prior to the events of May, Cambone completely evaded detection by Bob Woodward, who in two thick volumes on Bush's wars failed to mention the name Cambone once. Of course, this may reveal more about Woodward than Cambone's skill at bureaucratic camouflage.

Yes, Cambone has neo-con credentials. He got his masters and doctorate at Claremont College in southern California, an elite Straussian enclave. He went on to draft sections of the Project for a New American Century's 2001 Report, Rebuilding America's Defenses, a document notable for recommending that the US develop ethnic and race-based weapons. But more crucial for the speedy trajectory of his career is Cambone's resume as a devout Rumsfeldian. In 1998, Rumsfeld selected Cambone to serve as staff director of the Rumsfeld Commission on Ballistic Missile Defense, the Congressionally-appointed panel which justified implementation of the Strategic Defense Initiative on the grounds that the US was vulnerable to strikes from missiles freighting nuclear, chemical and biological weapons launched by rogue nations, such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

Cambone was no newcomer to the Star Wars scheme. From 1982 through 1986, he toiled at Los Alamos developing policy papers about the need for space-based weapons. In 1990, George Bush, Sr. picked Cambone to head up the Strategic Defense Initiative Office at the Pentagon. After Bush lost, Cambone migrated to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a DC holding pen for hawks, where he continued to hammer away in essays and speeches about the windows of vulnerability in the skies over America.

Rumsfeld first brought Cambone into his inner circle not as an overlord for intelligence, but as the chief Pentagon strategist for pushing SDI through Congress. Recall that in the early days of the Bush administration, Star Wars and the obliteration of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty were the twin obsessions of the Rumsfeld gang at the Pentagon.

After 9/11 Rumsfeld moved Cambone over to work on war planning and intelligence as Deputy Secretary of Defense for Policy, where he labored under the neo-con luminary Douglas Feith. There's reason to believe that Cambone's real mission was to keep tabs on Feith, a notorious hothead and Cheney loyalist whom Rumsfeld distrusts. Rumsfeld wasn't the only one who loathed Feith. Gen. Tommy Franks, who commanded the Afghan and Iraq wars, told Woodward that Feith was "the stupidest motherfucker on the face of the Earth".

Cambone and Feith reportedly soon developed an equally acrimonious relationship. But as Feith's star fell, Cambone's rose. In July 2002, Rumsfeld moved Cambone to the Office of Analysis and Evaluation, where his mission was to implement Rumsfeld's plan to reorganize the military and trim some of its most highly-prized weapons systems. "Cambone loomed as a huge threat to the generals", a senate staffer told us. "The message was pretty simple. Go along with our war plans or risk losing your big-ticket items and perhaps your command. Cambone was the enforcer". At the Pentagon, the most feared weapon isn't a dirty nuke, but a line item in the budget.

In April of 2003, Rumsfeld placed Cambone in charge of counter-terrorism teams operating under the code-name "Grey Fox". This covert operation is a kind of sabotage and assassination squad run out of the civil wing of the Pentagon. Rumsfeld had grown frustrated with the military's reluctance to assassinate suspected al-Qaeda and Iraqi resistance leaders, an understandable reluctance in light of US executive orders restricting the use of assassinations. So Rumsfeld seized control of the hit teams from the generals and assigned it to Cambone, a civilian appointee with no military experience. The Gray Fox project, so one Washington Post report concluded, is geared to perform "deep penetration" missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria and North Korea, setting up listening posts, conducting acts of sabotage and assassination. When questioned about Gray Fox, Cambone snapped, "We won't talk about those things".

However, military officers did talk about Gray Fox. "The people in these units are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anywhere around the world. They are very highly trained, with specialized skills for dealing with close-quarters combat and unique situations posed by weapons of mass destruction", a military officer told Army Times. "If we find a high-value target somewhere, anywhere in the world, and if we have the forces to get there and get to them, we should get there and get to them", the official said. "Right now, there are 18 food chains, 20 levels of paperwork and 22 hoops we have to jump through before we can take action. Our enemy moves faster than that".

Aside from guarding Rumsfeld from assaults from within the Pentagon, Cambone's main role seems to be cutting through red tape and bothersome codes of conduct, such as the Geneva Conventions, to institute legally questionable policies. Take the treatment of Iraqi prisoners. The orders to soften up Iraqi prisoners for intelligence interrogators (both military and private contractors) came directly from Cambone's office.

In August 2003, as the occupation of Iraq began to turn bloody, Cambone ordered Brigadier General Geoffrey Miller, former commander of the detention facility at Guantanamo, to go to Iraq along with a team of experienced military interrogators, who had honed their inquisitorial skills with the torture of al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees captured in Afghanistan. His instructions were to "Gitmoize" the interrogations at Abu Ghraib and other prisons, including the notorious Camp Cropper on the outskirts of the Baghdad Airport, where the Delta Force conducted abusive interrogations of top level members of Saddam's regime.

Cambone's top deputy inside the military is none other than Lt. General William Boykin, the Christian warrior, whom Cambone and Rumsfeld elevated to the position to the position of intelligence czar for the US Army last fall. Boykin rose to this lofty eminence after he went on a revival tour of evangelical churches in Oregon, where he disclosed the top secret intelligence that the US "had been attacked because we are a Christian nation". Boykin also leaked the news that Bush's war on terrorism was actually "a war against Satan".
Boykin calmed the congregations by saying there was little reason to fear because the Christian god is mightier than Allah. "I know that my god is bigger than his", Boykin preached. "I know that my god is a real God and his an idol". The general also revealed to the faithful that the supreme deity of the Christians had hand-picked Bush to be president during these fraught times. It was obvious, the general reasoned, that Bush didn't win the election. He became president through a kind of preemptive strike by the Almighty.

When word of Boykin's sermons landed on the front page of the Los Angeles Times in October of 2003, there was outrage in the American Islamic community that this two-star zealot was now directing US military intelligence operations in the Middle East. There were calls for his ouster and the Inspector General of the Army launched an investigation of Boykin. But Rumsfeld and Cambone shrugged off the probe and stood by Boykin.

It now turns out that Boykin, the Islamophobe, played a central role in the torture scandal now gripping the Bush administration. Last summer, Boykin briefed Cambone on a list of no-holds-barred interrogation methods that he thought should be used to extract more information from Iraqi detainees.

These included humiliation, sleep deprivation, restraint, water torture, religious taunting, light deprivation, and other techniques of torture that have since come to light. A few weeks after this crucial meeting in June, Cambone sent General Miller to Iraq with instructions to oversee the implementation of the Boykin interrogation plan in order to "rapidly exploit internees for actionable intelligence". According to Lt. General Antonio Taguba, who investigated the abuses at Abu Ghraib, Miller then instructed the Military Police to become "actively engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of internees". The grim trio of Cambone, Boykin and Miller also conspired to put the control of the detention facilities in Iraq under the tactical control of military intelligence. At Abu Ghraib, the job fell to Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, a move that Lt. General Taguba called contrary to established military doctrine.

It now seems likely that Cambone was only the one to invite Israeli advice (and perhaps interrogators) on how to extract information from Iraqi detainees. Before the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Cambone freely admitted to the Washington Times that he was taking advice from the Israelis and sharing intelligence with them on the mechanics of occupation and interrogation. "Those who have to deal with like problems tend to share information as best they can".

These days advancement through the ranks of the Pentagon often goes hand-in-hand with opportunities to deliver sweetheart deals to corporate allies. Here too Cambone has not disappointed his backers. From 1986 to 1990, Cambone worked as a top lobbyist for SRS, a murky software company with deep roots in the Pentagon and CIA. Although Cambone left SRS for government work, he didn't forget his old employers. With Cambone's approval, the Pentagon awarded SRS a $6 million contract to provide management support for the Missile Defense Agency, the wing of the Defense Department charged with managing the SDI program and the development of space-base weapons.

In addition, SRS benefited from Cambone's transfer to the spying wing of the Pentagon. An SRS subsidiary called Torch Concepts was hired by the Pentagon to conduct a data mining foray into passenger records of JetBlue airlines. Bart Edsall, SRS's vice-president, described the work Torch did this way: "the company got a contract from the Pentagon to work with the Army to ferret information out of data streams [in an effort to detect] abnormal behavior of secretive people". Sound familiar? It should. The scheme was essentially a privatized version of the kind of work that John Poindexter wanted to conduct with his discredited Total Information Awareness operation. No surprise that the contracts for this outsourced form of snooping should fall to SRS. It is already the primary private contractor working with the Information Awareness Office of DARPA, the agency which Poindexter ruled and which continues the nefarious work of prying into the private lives, including travel, health and financial records, of American citizens.

As Rumsfeld's hatchetman, Cambone has become so hated and feared inside the Pentagon that one general told the Army Times: "If I had one round left in my revolver, I'd take out Stephen Cambone". This raises the concept of fragging to an entirely new level.

This essay is excerpted from Jeffrey St. Clair's new book, Grand Theft Pentagon.

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Tomgram: Bushwhacked in Bushworld - "Beam Me Up, Scottie!"
By Tom Engelhardt

Just in case you hadn't noticed, we're in a Bushworld too absurd for words. But that hasn't stopped this administration from yakking its collective head off.

Over the last week: The President came out for an ethanol-powered globe -- that's corn on the cob to you, buddy -- while his Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld announced that our poor planet had somehow gotten more terroristically dangerous since George took the helm. (No fault of his, natch.)

Last Tuesday night, of course, the Great Helmsman stood on the congressional deck of state -- perhaps confusing it with the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln (Didn't anyone hear me? Mission accomplished!) -- and declared that we were on nothing less than the "road to victory" in Iraq. (Unfortunately, the message seems not to have gotten through to Iraqis lining that road with IEDs, possibly due to power outages in that country.)

Intelligence "Tsar" John Negroponte visited Congress to deliver the news that Earth was virtually swarming with terrorist groups which already had their hands on WMD. (Sleep well, Virginia.)

At the same time, multitasking like mad, the administration continued its noble war on T-shirts; the Pentagon put political cartoonists on notice that the military high command wasn't going to take a pen jab lying down (no sir!); and KBR, one of two subsidiaries of the Halliburton Corporation (the other being the U.S. government), received an almost $400 million dollar contract to build emergency "detention facilities" in the homeland (after much practice at Guantanamo).

Oh yes, and in their spare time, the President and his closest advisors happily continued to exercise another of those handy prerogatives of the Commander-in-Chief in wartime by essentially amending the Constitution to wipe out the odd check or balance.

Am I going too fast for you? Then, take a breath, buckle on your seatbelt, put on your helmet, check your oxygen gauge, and then let me beam these stories up to you one at a time (along with a few other gems stored in the Mother Ship of my brain).
George's Half-Step Program to Energy Independence So this was the year that the President of Oil discovered we were "addicted" to the stuff and, worse yet, that it came from "unstable parts of the world" -- hold on a sec, while I fill my gas tank -- but he also came up with a solution! Thanks to his Advanced Energy Initiative, ethanol, essentially a corn product, would power us into the future along with hybrid car engines and the odd nuclear power plant. Twenty years from now, he assured us in his State of the Union Address, we more or less won't know the Middle East exists.

Though our brush-cutting President did mention wood chips and switch grass, ethanol is essentially a corn product; and corn is our petroleum farm crop of choice, since growing it in quantity involves massive infusions of oil-based chemical fertilizer. So maybe we should consider George's ethanol-fix like one of those nicotine patches for cigarette smokers. Throw in some leftover radioactive waste from those nuclear plants his administration would love to hug into existence and it all made perfect sense to me... until the next day when an administration that had never heard of no-backsies took it all back. The President's suggestion about making 75% of Middle Eastern oil imports go away "was purely an example," insisted an embarrassed Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. And anyway, it turned out that none of it really mattered since, as Paul Krugman pointed out: "[T]he National Renewable Energy Laboratory is about to lay off staff because of budget cuts. ‘A veteran researcher,' reports The New York Times, ‘said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol.'" Of course, the President and his men generated enough wind last week to create a little extra power -- if only we'd put some money into alternative fuels.

By the way, elsewhere in the world -- and yes, in case you didn't notice, there is an elsewhere -- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia set off on his first trip outside the Middle East, perfectly timed to the President's desire to ditch the whole region. (And given what's happened to him there, you can't blame the guy, can you?) The Saudi king, in search of reliable allies, boarded his plane and promptly headed for... China. At his blog, The Dreyfuss Report, Robert Dreyfuss sums up administration oil planning in the Middle East thusly:

"America's military effort to secure hegemony over the world's oil deposits in the Gulf looks like this: Iraq, a mess, governed by Iran-linked Shiites; Iran, angry once again at the Great Satan and looking toward Russia and China; and Saudi Arabia, the big enchilada, starting to learn to speak Chinese. Some hegemony."

Encouraging Energy Independence in Iraq: In his State of the Union Address, the President once again invoked victory in discussing the war in Iraq -- "Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning. (Applause.) The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home." At a taxpayer cost of at least $4.5 billion a month, the price of "victory" in Iraq is now (in case you're curious) an estimated $100,000 a minute. Strangely, though, the President never mentioned how Iraq, with staggering oil reserves, might actually aid his plan for American energy independence from the Middle East. Who remembers those three to five million barrels of oil that Paul Wolfowitz and other administration neocons once knew the Iraqis would be pumping in next to no time at all, giving them the wherewithal to pay for us for occupying them, setting up permanent bases on their territory, and (unlike ET) never going home. After all, as Wolfowitz put it way back in May 2003, Iraq "floats on a sea of oil." ("The oil revenue of that country could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. We're dealing with a country that could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.")

Well, in the years since our "cakewalk" invasion, oil production in Iraq has taken a slightly different turn. At about 2.5 million barrels a day in the final days of Saddam's rule, output nosedived by another 8% last year, reaching 1.5 million barrels a day, and is probably significantly below that now. In fact, it's been dropping faster than the President's polling numbers -- and last week, just as George was touting our coming victory in Iraq, rebels there mortared a major petroleum facility in Kirkuk, setting it ablaze, and hitting an important pipeline to Turkey. An Iraqi executive with the North Oil Co. called it the "most severe attack we have ever faced on an oil installation." So far, thanks to American "reconstruction" and insurgent sabotage, Baghdad has been liberated from all but a few hours a day of electricity. Soon, the whole country (and so the world) may be able to declare its independence from any significant amount of exportable Iraqi oil -- making it a model for energy independence on the planet.

Oh, and while we're talking about Iraq, we Americans are a proud, traditionalist nation and one of our more regular traditions of recent years has been firing missiles into crowded streets, or small villages across those lands long labeled an "arc of instability," knocking off innocent civilians, including women and children. After each such incident, our military announces an investigation that fades into space and out of media memory without any spokesperson ever having to utter the words, "We're sorry." (That's a matter of principle!)

On January 13, a Predator drone shot a Hellfire missile into a house in a Pakistani village near the Afghan border in a botched assassination attempt against al-Qaeda number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Of course, the requisite group of women and children was murdered in the process. Then, last Thursday, a U.S. helicopter, reportedly fired on by gunmen from a rooftop in Sadr City, the vast Shiite slum in Baghdad, sent one or more missiles into a crowded street, killing a 20 year old woman, Ikhlas Abdul-Hussein, and wounding a two-year old child. Admittedly, we haven't hit a wedding party -- a sub-specialty of our Air Force -- since 2004, but last week American soldiers did their best to make up for that oversight by extending another small tradition, shooting up the cars of diplomats in and around Baghdad. A trigger-happy gunner on an American convoy in that city's Green Zone riddled a vehicle ("with a Maple Leaf flag plastered to the windshield") occupied by a group of Canadian diplomats, including the Acting Ambassador. Miraculously, no one was hit. The Canadians, a sober lot, claimed they were driving slowly and at a careful distance from the convoy. The Americans insisted their car was overtaking the convoy at a rapid speed and that they had ignored warning hand-signals. The obligatory meaningless investigation is now underway, while "the Bush administration voiced regret but, so far, no official apology." (Canada, mind you, has just elected a conservative Prime Minister, friendly to Washington, but never saying sorry is a near-Constitutional matter and allies, after all, are only allies.)

Meanwhile, from the news desk of the future -- but released this week -- the Pentagon has plans to create a new "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron" under the ever-expanding U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Undoubtedly, in the never-ending search for victims, it will be tasked "to go boldly where no drone has gone before."

Money Makes the World Go Boom! Here's a genuine surprise: In his new budget, the President, who last week declared himself boldly determined, as the Washington Post put it, to "constrain the massive entitlement programs for the elderly and the poor," and "carve money from Medicaid," is proposing a 5% rise in funds for the hapless Department of Homeland Confusion (er... Security), and another 5% rise for the Pentagon. The Pentagon's budget is slated to come in at a mere $439.3 billion, but here's the curious thing -- it includes no funds for the Afghan or Iraqi wars, minimally estimated at $120 billion next year. Makes sense, no? Who would put the costs of actual warfare in the budget of what was once the War Department before we spread our military across the globe and renamed it the Department of Defense?

The Pentagon's just released Quadrennial Defense Review puts great weight on fighting the war on terror for eons to come and, in preparation, a series of weapons systems that have nothing to do with that "war" are getting infusions of extra funds. Following the sort of sacrificial behavior for which the Pentagon is well known, not a single major weapons system has even been modestly cut back. In other words, weapons-entitlement programs are alive and well in America. (As the insider Nelson Report pointed out recently: Since 2001, in current dollars, the Pentagon budget has experienced "a 41% increase, exclusive of the supplemental allocations for Iraq, Afghanistan, and the [Global War on Terror].")

To celebrate their prospective good fortune, the six Chiefs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pointedly launched... a letter-writing assault on a cartoonist. No kidding. As Paul Woodward of the War in Context website put it, this "24-star letter" was aimed at protesting a Tom Toles cartoon ("beyond tasteless") in the Washington Post that used an armless, legless soldier in a hospital bed to mock Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld for "breaking" the Army. You can only hope that the Chiefs are better at fighting a war than (mis)interpreting a cartoon.

A small sartorial suggestion to head Chief, Gen. Peter Pace: I wouldn't put that "beyond tasteless" slogan on a T-shirt and wear it to an official do in Washington, given the endless T-shirt wars the Bush administration has been fighting for years at its campaign events nationwide. These burst out again in the galleries of the House of Representatives the night of the State of the Union. Police roughly arrested, handcuffed, and briefly charged Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq and a guest of Representative Lynn Woolsey of California, for wearing a T-shirt with the treasonous slogan, "2,245 Dead. How Many More?" They also ejected Beverly Young, wife of Republican Representative Bill Young of Florida, Chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, for wearing a T-shirt "bearing words of support for U.S. Troops." (Then again, if I remember my song lyrics correctly, isn't freedom just another word for nothing left to wear?)

While the Joint Chiefs face down a cartoonist and the administration fights its war on T-shirt terror, let me return to the subject of mega-money and entitlements for a moment. Last week, the President reassured Exxon Mobil Corporation, which had just announced record profits of $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter of 2005, that Americans should not expect any price breaks from a genuinely entitled winner while waiting for their future ethanol fix. "I think that basically the price is determined by the marketplace," he told the Associated Press, "and that's the way it should be."

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It's Off to the Longest War We Go: Language, what would the Bush administration do without it? One of John Wayne's famous lines was, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." And the Bush administration is actively of that linguistic school. Of course, when reality bites you in the you-know-what and you can't do a heck of a lot about it, what are you going to do but re-label your product? In this way, the "war on terror," aka, "the Global War on Terror," aka "GWOT," aka "World War IV," aka "the Global Struggle against Violent Extremism," has just become, by administration fiat, "the Longest War" (a phrase that's been hanging around unloved in Neocon Land for a long time, though it's now being attributed to former Centcom Commander John Abizaid. It's undoubtedly been chosen because the President's lovely global "war" has gone on remarkably... well, long.

The phrase was on the President's lips last Tuesday night. It led off the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review, released last week. It was mentioned by various administration officials and promoted heavily by Donald Rumsfeld, who was also plugging a world in which, as Lolita Baldor of AP reported, "despite progress in fighting terrorism, the threat today may be greater than ever before because the available weapons are far more dangerous." In a speech at the National Press Club, subtly entitled, "The Long War," the Don touched all the bases. He compared Osama bin Laden to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin, and claimed we were in a "generational conflict" like the Cold War of which Iraq and Afghanistan were merely the "early battles." Meanwhile, across town, our intelligence tsar was assuring Congress that U.S. "intelligence reporting" -- why am I already losing confidence in this statement? -- "indicates that nearly 40 terrorist organizations, insurgencies, or cults have used, possessed, or expressed an interest in chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear agents or weapons." (Somewhere in all this, I think I can hear Karl Rove conducting a midterm election campaign based on the only card this administration still has in its hand: the fear of terrorism.)

Still, I suspect "the Long War" will soon join the "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism" in the dust bin of history. In fact, on naming its terror war, the Bush administration could probably use a little help. How about the Scare-You-to-Death-Struggle-for-Global-Ethanol-Independence-and-Republican-Electoral-Victories War (or SYTDSFGEIAREVW)? If that doesn't work for you, the Nation magazine's Katrina van den Heuvel is ready to lend a hand. Having already published her hilarious The Dictionary of Republicanisms, she's now launching a contest to capture the essence of GWOT-ability (a little like guacamole) in a single, punchy name.

Club Homeland Detention: Halliburton, the first corporation into Iraq, contractually speaking, and the biggest financial winner in the "reconstruction" sweepstakes for that deconstructed country, fortuitously also found itself perched right atop the list of post-Katrina New Orleans reconstruction contractors. Now, through its subsidiary KBR, known for building military bases to last, as well as Guantanamo's infamous "cages," Halliburton gets a shot at the real American thing -- actual emergency detention centers for "immigrants" -- or, hey, in a crisis, for whomever. The Army Corps of Engineers awarded it a contract last month -- though the story only oozed out this week -- worth up to $385 million (not including the near-obligatory overcharges) for, according to the New York Times, "an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space." It's those "new programs" that give special pause.

They Fought the Law and the Law Lost: Finally, in the week that just was, our President and his top officials continued their vigorous efforts to rewrite the Constitution. They took up the National Security Agency warrantless spying, evidently had an unannounced constitutional convention in the White House, called on the peerless minds of various White House and justice department lawyers, asked the Attorney General (former White House Counsel, former General Counsel, and friend) Alberto Gonzales for his honest opinion, and then had the good sense to double check with lawyers at the NSA to make sure everything that agency had been doing was genuinely and legally below board and utterly constitutional. Finally, they turned the whole ball of wax over to Karl Rove, who recognized an election issue when he saw one, and next thing you knew, there was the President, at the State of the Union, insisting, as in some Avon ad, that al-Qaeda was calling and it was darn tootin' constitutional as all get out to listen in on what's conveniently been relabeled "a terrorist surveillance program" (no genuine citizens allowed to join!).

I suppose, based on that unbelievably dreary textbook you had to read back in junior high civics class, you thought amending the Constitution took a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress and then passage by three-quarters of the states. Silly you! It only takes two-thirds of the President's brain, three-quarters of the Vice President's brain, and 100% of his Chief of Staff David Addington's brain; toss in the odd administration lawyer or two to check the fine print, and, as they say in one province of Canada (don't shoot!), Voilà!

Now, unbuckle those straps, take that helmet off, and relax. It's a new week. Enjoy yourself!

Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War. His novel, The Last Days of Publishing, has recently come out in paperback.

Copyright 2006 Tom Engelhardt

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Spotless Sun 7 Feb 06

The sunspot number has been zero for nine consecutive days--the longest stretch of blank suns since October 1996. This is a clear sign that solar minimum has arrived. Solar activity should remain low, although surprises are possible.

On Sept. 7th, 2005, a huge sunspot rounded the sun's eastern limb. As soon as it appeared, it exploded, producing one of the brightest x-ray solar flares of the Space Age. In the days that followed, the growing spot exploded eight more times. Each powerful "X-flare" caused a shortwave radio blackout on Earth and pumped new energy into a radiation storm around our planet. The blasts hurled magnetic clouds toward Earth, and when they hit, on Sept 10th and 11th, ruby-red auroras were seen as far south as Arizona.
Actually, solar minimum, the lowest point of the sun's 11-year activity cycle, isn't due until 2006, but forecasters expected 2005, the eve of solar minimum, to be a quiet year on the sun.

It has not been quiet. 2005 began with an X-flare on New Year's Day--a sign of things to come. Since then we've experienced 4 severe geomagnetic storms and 14 more X-flares.

"That's a lot of activity," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Compare 2005 to the most recent Solar Max: "In the year 2000," he recalls, "there were 3 severe geomagnetic storms and 17 X-flares." 2005 registers about the same in both categories. Solar minimum is looking strangely like Solar Max.

Scientists like Hathaway track the 11-year solar cycle by counting sunspots. When sunspot numbers peak, that's Solar Max, and when they ebb, that's solar minimum. This is supposed to work because sunspots are the main sources of solar activity: Sunspot magnetic fields become unstable and explode. The explosion produces a flash of electromagnetic radiation--a solar flare. It can also hurl a billion-ton cloud of magnetized gas into space--a coronal mass ejection or "CME." When the CME reaches Earth, it sparks a geomagnetic storm and we see auroras. CMEs can also propel protons toward Earth, producing a radiation storm dangerous to astronauts and satellites. All these things come from sunspots.

As expected, sunspot numbers have declined since 2000, yet solar activity persists. How can this be?

Hathaway answers: "The sunspots of 2005, while fewer, have done more than their share of exploding." Consider sunspot 798/808, the source of the Sept 7th superflare and eight lesser X-flares. All by itself, this sunspot has made Sept. 2005 the most active month on the sun since March 1991.

Weird? Much about the sun's activity cycle remains unknown, Hathaway points out. "X-ray observations of flares by NOAA's Earth-orbiting satellites began in 1975, and CMEs were discovered only a few years earlier by the 7th Orbiting Solar Observatory. Before the 1970s, our records are spotty."

This means we don't know what is typical. Scientists have monitored only three complete solar cycles using satellite technology. "It's risky to draw conclusions" from such a short span of data, he says.

Hathaway offers a cautionary tale: Before 2005, the last solar minimum was due in 1996 and the sun, at the time, seemed to be behaving perfectly: From late-1992 until mid-1996, sunspots began to disappear and there were precisely zero X-flares during those long years. It was a time of quiet. Then, in 1996 when sunspot counts finally reached their lowest value—bang!—an X-flare erupted.

"The sun can be very unpredictable," says Hathaway, which is something NASA planners must take into account when they send humans back to the Moon and on to Mars.

Returning to 2005: is this year an aberration--or a normal rush to the bottom of the solar cycle? "We need to observe more solar cycles to answer that question," says Hathaway. "And because each cycle lasts 11 years, observing takes time."

Meanwhile, Hathaway is waiting for 2006 when solar minimum finally arrives. Who knows what the Sun will do then?

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Study: Brain Works Like Internet - Networking WORKS!
By Robert Roy Britt LiveScience Senior Writer 04 January 2005

Your brain functions a lot like the Internet or a network of friends, scientists said Tuesday.

Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the activity in peoples' brains and how different regions connect. They conclude the human brain can be visualized as a complex interacting network that relies on nodes to efficiently convey information from place to place.

Very few jumps are necessary to connect any two nodes, the study found.

"This so-called 'small world' property allows for the most efficient connectivity," said Dante Chialvo, a physiologist at Northwestern University.

Other networks -- social and biochemical -- rely on the same principle.
The scientists measured the degree of correlation between activities in tens of thousands of brain regions. They found that many of the nodes had only a few connections, and a small number of nodes were connected to many others. These "super-connected" nodes act as hubs -- as with the Internet or your most gossipy friend -- getting the word out quickly and widely.

So maybe, the thinking goes, if you can figure out how the Internet works -- or why your gossipy friend succeeds -- then you can grasp your own mind.

Or, put more scientifically, these findings of basic principles of brain function suggest "that the underlying properties can be understood using the theoretical framework already advanced in the study of other, disparate, networks," Chialvo said. The research could help frame other studies of the brain's role in schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease and chronic pain, Chialvo and his colleagues say.

The results were detailed in the Dec. 31 online version of the journal Physical Review Letters.

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Brains of Young Adults Not Fully Mature
By Ker Than LiveScience Staff Writer 06 February 2006

At an age when Americans are first considered adults, their brains are still maturing, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Dartmouth University scanned the brains of nineteen 18-year-old students who had moved more than 100 miles to attend school.

"During the first year of college, students have many new experiences," said psychologist Abigail Baird, the study's principal investigator. "They are faced with new cognitive, social, and emotional challenges."

A group of 17 older students, ranging in age from 25 to 35, served as a control group for comparison. The results showed that the freshmen students' brains underwent significant changes and were very different from that of the older adults.
The changes were localized to the cingulate, caudate and insula regions of the brain. These areas are believed to be where emotions and thoughts are integrated.

The researchers believe the changes represent an increased awareness of the students' inner feelings and an improved ability to organize and integrate incoming sensory information; this synthesis helps shape the kinds of emotional and behavioral responses they have to new experiences.

The results are consistent with other research suggesting that the human brain continues to grow and mature right up to the point when we become adults and even beyond. In another study, researchers found that humans don't really develop the ability to handle multiple pieces of information at once until about the ages of 16 or 17.

"The brain of an 18-year-old college freshman is still far from resembling the brain of someone in their mid-twenties," said Craig Bennett, a graduate student who was involved in the new research. "When do we reach adulthood? It might be much later than we traditionally think."

The study will be detailed in an upcoming print issue of the journal Human Brain Mapping.

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Mental Exercise Nearly Halves Risk of Dementia
By LiveScience Staff 25 January 2006

Staying mentally and physically active throughout life is the best way to keep the mind sharp and reduce the risks of developing dementia, two recent studies show.

One large group study found that staying mentally active reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia by nearly half by building and maintaining a reserve of stimulation.
"It is a case of 'use it or lose it,'" said study leader Michael Valenzuela from the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales in Australia. "If you increase your brain reserve over your lifetime, you seem to lessen the risk of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases."

46 percent risk reduction

The study combined data from 29,000 individuals and 22 studies worldwide. It was detailed in a recent issue of the journal Psychological Medicine.

It found that individuals with high mental stimulation had a 46 percent decreased risk of dementia. The protective effect was present even in later life, so long as the individuals engaged in mentally stimulating activities.

The findings support the idea that a person's education, occupation, IQ and mental stimulation play a big role in preventing cognitive decline.

In a previous study, Valenzuela showed that after five weeks of memory-based exercise, participants increased brain chemistry markers in a direction that was opposite to that seen in Alzheimer's. The change was concentrated in the hippocampus, one of the first brain regions to be affected in dementia.

Exercise helps too

Another study found that older people who exercise three or more times a week had a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. Even light activity, such as walking, seemed to help.

This study, led by Eric Larson of GroupHealth Cooperative in Seattle, was published in a recent issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers tracked 1,740 people who were 65 and older over the course of nine years. The participants were all dementia-free at the beginning of the study.

At the end of the study, 77 percent of the individuals who were still free of dementia had reported exercising three or more times a week. The study could not determine whether certain types of exercise worked better than others.

In addition to preventing dementia, mental and physical exercise has also been found to boost the mood of depressed patients and improve memory in the elderly.
Comment: Well, that leaves out Dubya...

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Chronic Pain Shrinks People's Brains
By Robert Roy Britt LiveScience Senior Writer 22 November, 2004

Pain causes an unexpected brain drain, according to a new study in which the brains of people with chronic backaches were up to 11 percent smaller than those of non-sufferers.

People afflicted with other long-term pain and stress might face similar brain shrinkage, said study leader A. Vania Apkarian of Northwestern University.

The results suggest those with constant pain lose gray matter equal to an oversized pea for each year of pain. Gray matter is an outer layer of the brain rich in nerve cells and crucial to information and memory processing.
The results don't reveal why the brain shrinks, but it might involve degradation of neurons, which are the signal transmitters of the mind and body.

"It is possible it's just the stress of having to live with the condition," Apkarian told LiveScience. "The neurons become overactive or tired of the activity."

Another possibility is that people born with smaller numbers of neurons are predisposed to suffering chronic pain. But some of the differences measured "must be directly related to the condition," Apkarian said.

The research involved a one-time brain scan of 26 people who'd had unrelenting back pain for at least a year (and in one case for up to 35 years), along with a pain-free control group. Pain sufferers had lost 5 to 11 percent of gray matter over and above what normal aging would take away.

"People who have had pain for longer times have had more brain atrophy," Apkarian said.

No attempt was made to correlate brain size to brain function. It is possible that some of the shrinkage involves relatively noncrucial tissue -- other than neurons -- and that some of the effects are reversible if the pain is eliminated, Apkarian and colleagues write in the Nov. 23 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Apkarian said other varieties of pain might cause a similar atrophy of gray matter, and he plans to study that possibility in future studies.

"Suffering of pain is fundamentally an emotional condition," Apkarian said. "Different types of pain will have different types of emotional parameters, which will probably result in different types of atrophy -- different amounts and in different brain regions."

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Surprising Source of Chronic Pain Discovered
By Robert Roy Britt LiveScience Managing Editor 31 January 2006

Information about pain is transmitted from its source by two types of nerve fibers, Lawson explained. Larger fibers send electrical signals more rapidly and are thought to communicate sharp, pricking pain.

Fine fibers communicate ongoing, burning pain that can prove depressing over time because it seems to have no identifiable source and is often hard to suppress with traditional painkillers.
Some types of ongoing, inexplicable pain like arthritis are caused by intact, healthy nerve fibers rather than those that have been damaged, a new study finds.

The discovery surprised researchers. It had not been made before partly because studies of chronic pain have tended to focus on the damaged nerves.

The new understanding, reported in the Jan. 25 issue of the journal Neuroscience, could help scientists develop new types of painkillers.

The evidence so far applies only to ongoing pain associated with nerve injury and inflammation, although it may turn out to be more widely applicable, said Sally Lawson, a professor of physiology at the University of Bristol in the UK.

What a pain

Information about pain is transmitted from its source by two types of nerve fibers, Lawson explained. Larger fibers send electrical signals more rapidly and are thought to communicate sharp, pricking pain.

Fine fibers communicate ongoing, burning pain that can prove depressing over time because it seems to have no identifiable source and is often hard to suppress with traditional painkillers.

Lawson and her colleagues Laiche Djouhri and Stella Koutsikou studied the ongoing pain and the firing in very fine fibers, in particular a type that serve as damage detectors. The faster they fire, the worse the ongoing pain becomes.

"The cause of this firing appears to be inflammation within the nerves or tissues, caused by dying or degeneration of the injured nerve fibers within the same nerve," Djouhri said.

Hope for some

More research is needed to figure out exactly which types of ongoing pain the discovery applies to, Lawson told LiveScience. Among the possibilities:

* Arthritis
* Chronic back pain
* Post-operative pain due to damage to nerves or tissues
* Trauma, especially injury to nerves, or inflammation
* Interstitial cystitis (a burning pain felt in the bladder)

"Further work is also needed to determine how the increased firing in the uninjured fine fibers could be prevented in order to alleviate the ongoing pain," Lawson said.

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Radio competition winners marry despite never having met
By Arifa Akbar 07 February 2006

When Craig first met Rebecca he turned up in a top-hat and tails. She arrived for their first date by horse and carriage, dressed in ivory and with her father on her arm. Among the first words the couple exchanged were "I do".

Craig Cooper, 30, and Rebecca Duffy, 28,were the winners of a radio station competition in Birmingham in which the prize was marrying a total stranger. Far from being a crass publicity stunt, organisers said, this was a noble attempt to boost the failing institution of marriage.
Standing behind the 30-strong group of dewy-eyed relatives and friends yesterday was a television camera crew recording their moment as part of a documentary. The couple, who won the contest which drew more than 250 contestants, were not put off by the fate of their predecessors, Greg Cordell and Carla Germaine, who married in the same way seven years ago, and split up three months later - after he allegedly cheated on her. Unlike the earlier couple who were brought together by a judging panel in January 1999, the Coopers' pairing was voted for by 100,000 members of the public who read the profiles of eight finalists on the internet.

The couple were whisked off to a press conference minutes after they had exchanged rings. They held hands, giggled and told the media that they already "fancied each other".

As winners of the Two Strangers and a Wedding II contest, they will have a paid-for honeymoon in Bermuda and be given the use of a city-centre flat and a car for 12 months, as well as being the "stars" of two television documentaries.

Mrs Cooper said she did not have any qualms about entering the competition. "Why not do it? It's very early to be in love but when I saw him, I thought he was absolutely lovely. After I get to know him, things can develop but ... he's very nice looking," she said.

Mr Cooper said his brother had been a finalist in the competition seven years ago. "I know it's kind of a strange thing to get your head around but the public has picked a great choice. She is the type of person I would have approached anyway," he said.

Organisers at BRMB radio station said the numbers of couples getting married was at an all-time low. So why not try something novel to boost the institution? Elliott Webb, the co-presenter of The Big Brum Breakfast show, said: "This makes people think about marriage and re-engage with the process. This is another way of doing it."

Radio's doomed first attempt

* The winners of the original contest in January 1999 were Greg Cordell, then 28, and model Carla Germaine, 23, who honeymooned in the Bahamas but moved out of their luxury canalside flat in Birmingham and returned to their previous lives three months later after Mr Cordell allegedly cheated with a dental nurse. Ms Germaine subsequently married television presenter Jeremy Kyle, who was working at BRMB when they met. Mr Cordell is now a recruitment consultant in Dubai.

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Ark's Quantum Quirks
SOTT February 7, 2006


SOTT - The Sharpest News Service

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Mandatory Evacuations Ordered In Anaheim Hills
NBC4 February 6, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order in east Anaheim Hills Monday in connection with an 1,800-acre brush fire in the Cleveland National Forest.

About 1,200 homes were under evacuation orders, with some mandatory and the others voluntary, but the breakdown between the two was not immediately available, said city spokesman John Nicoletti.
Those under mandatory evacuation live east of Serrano Road and south of Canyon Rim Road. Residents under voluntary evacuation order reside from Canyon Rim Road north to Oak Canyon Drive, all east of Serrano, Nicoletti said.

Residents who left their homes were directed to Villa Park High School and Travis Ranch Community Center in Yorba Linda, where the American Red Cross established shelters, Nicoletti said.

People who needed to relocate horses were told to take them to the south parking lot at Yorba Regional Park, he said.

"There are no reports of fire west of the 241 (Eastern Transportation Corridor)," Nicoletti said about 1:30 p.m. "None of the homes are being threatened. The reason is based on the potential of winds kicking up."

Students at three schools were relocated because of smoke from the fast-moving brush blaze, which broke out on a day when weather forecasters issued a Red Flag Alert due to high fire danger. Students from Canyon Rim Elementary, Santiago Charter Middle School and Anaheim Hills Elementary were sent to Canyon Hills High School, a school spokeswoman said.

Firefighters were battling to ensure that the flames did not jump west of the (241), which they hoped would continue to act as a barrier to protect homes in Anaheim Hills and Orange Hills, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Stephen Miller.

Flying embers started two small spot fires across the highway, about a half-mile from the closest homes, which sparked the evacuation order, Miller said.

The blaze broke out before dawn in a mountainous area between Orange and Riverside counties near Sierra Peak, Miller said.

Miller said he did not know if there were power lines in the area, which is remote. He had no information as to how the fire started.

Firefighters carried out an aerial assault on the blaze using water-dropping helicopters, working from a command post established at Irvine Regional Park. There was no immediate word on containment, Miller said, adding that "once we get a helicopter freed we'll map" the fire.

As a precaution, officials closed the 241 toll road between Santiago Canyon Road and the Riverside (91) Freeway, said California Highway Patrol Officer Denise Quesada.

Fighting the blaze along with personnel from the OCFA were federal and state firefighters. Because of a Red Flag Warning in the Southland, many firefighters were pre-deployed in various areas. About 500 firefighters were at the scene Monday evening, officials said.

The 460,000-acre Cleveland National Forest is the southernmost national forest in the state.

Health Warning

The County of Orange Health Care Agency warned late this morning that smoke from the wildfires posed a public health danger.

"Among those who can be most directly affected by smoke exposure are individuals with heart and respiratory diseases, older adults, children and pregnant women," said Acting County Health Officer Hildy Meyers.

People in areas downwind from the smoke were urged to limit outdoor activity and physical exertion until the smoke diminishes; keep windows and doors closed; and use air conditioning.

People should call a doctor if experiencing symptoms of chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue, according to Meyers.

Red Flag Warning

The strong winds whipping across the Southland Monday come with unusually high temperatures and low humidity, and that has prompted a National Weather Service Red Flag Warning, signifying a high risk of wildfire.

Severe Weather Alerts

The warning went into effect at 6 a.m. Monday and was scheduled to expire at 6 p.m. in the valleys of Los Angeles County and at 6 p.m. Wednesday in mountain areas.

National Weather Service meteorologists are forecasting winds of between 20 and 30 mph, gusting up to more than 40 mph, in the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys and even higher in the mountains.

Temperatures will climb to near-record levels and may set record highs in some areas, according to forecasters. Standing records for Feb. 6 include 86 in downtown Los Angeles and Burbank and 87 in Pasadena, according to the NWS.

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Remote Alaska volcano erupts, spews ash
Tue Feb 7, 2006 2:43 AM GMT170

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A volcano on an uninhabited island in Alaska erupted on Monday, sending a cloud of ash 22,000 feet into the air and triggering an elevation of the mountain's threat level.

Scientists detected the morning eruption at Cleveland Volcano, a 5,676-foot (1,730-meter) peak, on satellite imagery, officials at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said.
The observatory issued a Code Red warning, the highest level of alert, for the volcano, because the ash cloud was near a level where it could interfere with jet traffic, said Chris Waythomas, a U.S. Geological Survey geologist.

There were no reports of falling ash from the highly active volcano located in the rugged chain of Aleutian Islands. The nearest community is Nikolski, a tiny Aleut village of 31 people that is 45 miles to the east of the volcano.

Its last eruptive period was in 2001 when three explosions occurred, according to the observatory.

Cleveland Volcano rumbled to life as officials continued to monitor the restless Augustine Volcano, a 4,134-foot (1,260 meter) peak about 175 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Augustine has had several explosive eruptions since January 11 but scientists warned against drawing conclusions about a trend.

"We have 42 active volcanoes in Alaska," Waythomas said. "It shouldn't be a surprise that two are active at the same time."

Cleveland, on an uninhabited island in the rugged Aleutian chain, is a highly active volcano, according to the observatory.

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Earthquake exceeding 5 pts registered off Kamchatka shores
07.02.2006, 01.33

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, February 7 (Itar-Tass) - An earthquake measuring 5.7 points on the open-ended Richter scale has occurred in the Kamchatka Strait off the Kamchatka Peninsula’s eastern shores, a duty officer at the regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said.
Experts at the Kamchatka experimental bureau of seismic methodology said the earthquake was registered at 08:51 Moscow time [05:51 GMT] Monday. Its epicenter was located at the depth of five kilometers under the seabed.

The power of quakes felt in the nearest town of Ust-Kamchatsk, 90 kilometers away from the place, did not exceed 2 points or 3 points on the Richter scale.

No tremors were felt in the regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky lying at a distance of 500 kilometers to the northeast of the place.

Despite the quake, the regional administration has lifted high-alert regulations introduced last August on apprehensions that a major earthquake might be forthcoming.

Emergency services have returned into a normal mode of operations now, since experts do not expect quakes with a magnitude of 7.5 or more points on the Richter scale.

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Mayor: New Orleans will seek aid from other nations
By Michael Depp Reuters 6 Feb 06

NEW ORLEANS - Shortcomings in aid from the U.S. government are making New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin look to other nations for help in rebuilding his hurricane-damaged city.

Nagin, who has hosted a steady stream of foreign dignitaries since Hurricane Katrina hit in late August, says he may seek international assistance because U.S. aid has not been sufficient to get the city back on its feet.
"I know we had a little disappointment earlier with some signals we're getting from Washington but the international community may be able to fill the gap," Nagin said when a delegation of French government and business officials passed through on Friday to explore potential business partnerships.

Jordan's King Abdullah also visited New Orleans on Friday and Nagin said he would encourage foreign interests to help redevelop some of the areas hardest hit by the storm.

"France can take Treme. The king of Jordan can take the Lower Ninth Ward," he said, referring to two of the city's neighborhoods.

Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,300 people in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The Bush administration has pledged billions of dollars to Katrina victims but five months after the storm, New Orleans remains largely in ruins.

Nagin said his message to President George W. Bush would be that the federal government needs to refocus on the devastated area.

"We need your undivided attention over the next six months," he said. "We need backup. We need for you to make the words that you spoke in Jackson Square a reality."

Nagin was referring to the president's September 15 address to the nation from New Orleans, in which he pledged "we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes" to rebuild.

French Transport Minister Dominique Perben, leading the French delegation to a city that was founded by France in 1718, said, "This catastrophe has deeply upset the French people and the French government."

France, Perben said through a translator, "wants to be a long-term partner for Louisiana and New Orleans."
Comment: Now that is so totally pathetic we are rendered speechless. Not only are the Neocon Thugs fleecing the American people to pay their cronies for more and better bombs and WMDs, they have exposed America to this embarrassment: they can't even help their own. Somebody find us a sickbag.

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Scientist predicts 'mini Ice Age'
UPI Feb. 7, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - A Russian astronomer has predicted that Earth will experience a "mini Ice Age" in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity.
Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg said Monday that temperatures will begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reaches its peak, RIA Novosti reported.

The coldest period will occur 15 to 20 years after a major solar output decline between 2035 and 2045, Abdusamatov said.

Dramatic changes in the earth's surface temperatures are an ordinary phenomenon, not an anomaly, he said, and result from variations in the sun's energy output and ultraviolet radiation.

The Northern Hemisphere's most recent cool-down period occurred between 1645 and 1705. The resulting period, known as the Little Ice Age, left canals in the Netherlands frozen solid and forced people in Greenland to abandon their houses to glaciers, the scientist said.

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Sailor's death in Lithuania could be first human bird flu case in EU
AFP 7 Feb 06

An Indian sailor who died in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda may have been infected with bird flu, the Lithuanian health ministry said.

"A member of the crew of the ship M.V. Ocean Wind, Indian citizen Shaikh Rafikque, died in Klaipeda Monday. The suspected cause of death is bird flu," a statement from the ministry said.

If avian flu is confirmed as the cause of death, it would be the first human case of the disease in the European Union.
"Rafikque, who was the ship's cook, fell ill on February 4, according to reports from the crew," the ministry said.

"He died in a medical emergency vehicle on Monday," it said in a statement.

The Liberian-flagged Ocean Wing came to Lithuania from Germany on January 17 to undergo repairs, the health ministry said.

Although the health ministry said earlier that a preliminary autopsy would be conducted in the port on Lithuania's western Baltic coastline, it later said the ship's captain, also Indian, has "not given permission for an autopsy, on religious grounds."

Doctor's at Klaipeda morgue, where the body of the 62-year-old sailor was being held, told AFP that no autopsy has been ordered or carried out.

Kazimieras Lukauskas, head of Lithuania's state veterinary and food service, said that raw poultry was among foods that were loaded onto the ship in Germany, but played down the possibility that it was the cause of the sailor's death.

"We do not think that poultry used for food on the ship could be the cause of death" Lukauskas said.

A special emergency team has been sent to Klaipeda to disinfect the ship, which had 30 crew -- 29 Indians and one Ukrainian -- on board, he said.

"Our emergency plan provides for crew members to undergo medical examinations," Lukauskas said.

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The Passion of the Texans: Jewish Criminal Influence Peddlers In The Spotlight
By Ami Eden January 20, 2006

As the law moves in on a pair of Texans — ex-Enron boss Ken Lay and ex-House majority leader Tom DeLay — now would be a good time for anybody who has anxiety over negative stories about Jews to start squirming. ...

Some observers, including New York Times columnist Frank Rich, already have begun to connect the dots between the two scandals. And as the legal noose around Lay and DeLay tightens, at least one parallel in their defense strategies will become increasingly clear: Both men are blaming their troubles on former Jewish allies who have confessed to crimes and agreed to cooperate with government investigators in return for lighter sentences.
Lay, who is set to go on trial January 30 in Houston, faces seven counts of conspiracy and fraud stemming from allegations that he misled investors as Enron was spiraling toward bankruptcy. Speculation is rampant that DeLay — who already has been indicted by a grand jury in Travis County, Texas, for allegedly violating state campaign-finance laws — could find himself ensnared in the mushrooming anti-corruption probe in Washington.

Some observers, including New York Times columnist Frank Rich, already have begun to connect the dots between the two scandals. And as the legal noose around Lay and DeLay tightens, at least one parallel in their defense strategies will become increasingly clear: Both men are blaming their troubles on former Jewish allies who have confessed to crimes and agreed to cooperate with government investigators in return for lighter sentences.

Lay says he was duped by Andrew Fastow, Enron’s former chief financial officer. Fastow, who is expected to serve as a key witness in the case against Lay, pleaded guilty in 2004 to conspiring to conceal the company’s debt and stealing millions of dollars in the process.

Meanwhile DeLay has been trying for months to downplay his ties to Jack Abramoff — even before the disgraced lobbyist pleaded guilty earlier this month to mail-fraud conspiracy and tax evasion charges, and reportedly began cooperating with Justice Department officials investigating corruption on Capitol Hill. If the Texas lawmaker is to be believed, Abramoff was lying to clients when he suggested that DeLay’s office was for sale.

But don’t blame Lay and DeLay if Abramoff and Fastow come off looking like a pair of Judases in separate productions of “The Passion of the Texan.” The uncomfortable truth is that these guys make Michael Milken, who pleaded guilty to securities fraud during the 1980s insider-trading scandals, look like a complex and sympathetic figure.

Milken’s defenders have cast him as a Robin Hood-type outsider forced to take risks and bend rules to help investors and businessmen break the WASP grip on Wall Street. Abramoff and Fastow can make no such claim: They were sitting at the table of power when they committed their crimes.

It is, of course, bigoted and unfair to tar Jews for the misdeeds of their co-religionists. But that’s what antisemites do — and in this case their job is easier, thanks to Abramoff, Fastow and their sycophantic supporters in the Jewish community.

Both men made their Judaism part of the story by publicly sharing some of their ill-gotten fortunes with Jewish charitable causes and then playing the religion card when the legal situation started heating up. Making matters worse, both Abramoff and Fastow found rabbis and organizations willing to take their dollars and to stand by them even after it should have been clear that the donations were tainted.

Abramoff and his supporters frequently have painted the yarmulke-clad lobbyist as a philanthropist who spent his millions bankrolling the Jewish day school that he founded. He did this while keeping afloat two kosher restaurants and supporting Toward Tradition, an organization led by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Toward Tradition is dedicated to fostering ties between Jews and evangelical Christians. A few backers have tried to downplay Abramoff’s misdeeds, citing his support for Jewish causes and suggesting that he was the victim of liberal media bias.

Fastow was not as egregious as Abramoff in wearing his Judaism on his sleeve (or head). But like the disgraced lobbyist, Fastow assumed the macher mantle with the help of his stolen money. He chaired a major fund-raising dinner for Houston’s Holocaust museum and reportedly shared some of his booty with his local synagogue, Congregation Or Ami. When Fastow’s mounting legal problems began attracting reporters, the disgraced Enron official sent them to Or Ami’s religious leader, Rabbi Shaul Osadchey. The rabbi stood by his longtime congregant, describing Fastow as a mensch to several media outlets. These days, neither the synagogue nor the Holocaust museum is willing to discuss whether it returned any donations from Fastow and his family.

Still, despite Abramoff’s and Fastow’s heinous crimes, Enron’s collapse and the growing D.C. scandal are not stories about one bad apple corrupting the bunch. Both men were operating in corrupt systems — and while they may have been the greatest economic beneficiaries of these dirty enterprises, the men in charge were Lay and DeLay.

Enron was already developing a corrupt culture by the time Fastow showed up, as Kurt Eichenwald’s must-read account of the scandal, “Conspiracy of Fools,” makes clear. When things got worse, there were many players at various levels who were willing to lie and cheat customers, shareholders and outside financial institutions, if not steal outright from the company. So far, in addition to Fastow, 15 ex-Enron officials have pleaded guilty.

As for DeLay, he opened the door to Abramoff’s crimes and other Republican abuses with his infamous K Street Project, an attempt to turn the entire lobbying industry into a subsidiary of the GOP-controlled Congress. And as DeLay’s various ethical and legal problems suggest, the former majority leader didn’t need Abramoff to teach him how to dance around the rules in pursuit of power.

In the end, if Abramoff and Fastow stood out, it was only in their lack of restraint and the scale of their thievery. They were serious symptoms of a wider problem, not the disease itself.

Let’s just hope the blame for their crimes isn’t contagious.

Ami Eden is executive editor of the Forward.

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Holocaust Survivor Memoir Exposed as Fraud
by Mark Weber

Although he claims to have been born in Latvia in 1939, and to have arrived in Switzerland in 1947 or 1948, Swiss legal records show that he was actually born in Switzerland in February 1941, the son of an unwed woman, Yvette Grosjean. The infant was then adopted and raised by the Doessekkers, a middle-class Zurich couple. Jewish author Daniel Ganzfried, writing in the Swiss weekly Weltwoche, also reports that he has found a 1946 photo of the young Bruno Doessekker (Wilkomirski) in the garden of his adoptive parents.
A Holocaust survivor memoir that has received prestigious literary awards and lavish praise has been exposed as a hoax.

In Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Childhood, Binjamin Wilkomirski describes his ordeal as an infant in the Jewish ghetto of Riga (Latvia), where his earliest memory is of seeing his father being killed. Wilkomirski also tells how he survived the terrible rigors of wartime internment, at the age of three or four, in the German-run concentration camps of Majdanek and Auschwitz.

First published in German in 1995, Fragments has been translated into twelve languages. In Switzerland, the country where Wilkomirski lives, the book has been a major best-seller. Two documentary films and numerous personal appearances by the author in schools throughout the country have helped promote the memoir.

The American edition was published by Schocken, an imprint of Random House, which heavily promoted the book with teachers' study guides and other supplementary materials.

Jewish groups and major American newspapers have warmly praised Fragments. The New York Times called it "stunning," and the Los Angeles Times lauded it as a "classic first-hand account of the Holocaust." It received the 1996 National Jewish Book Award for Autobiography and Memoir, while in Britain it was awarded the Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize, and in France the Prix Memoire de la Shoah.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC -- a federal government agency -- was so impressed that it sent Wilkomirski on a six-city United States fund-raising tour last fall.

This past summer, though, compelling evidence came to light exposing Wilkomirski's memoir as an literary hoax.

Although he claims to have been born in Latvia in 1939, and to have arrived in Switzerland in 1947 or 1948, Swiss legal records show that he was actually born in Switzerland in February 1941, the son of an unwed woman, Yvette Grosjean. The infant was then adopted and raised by the Doessekkers, a middle-class Zurich couple. Jewish author Daniel Ganzfried, writing in the Swiss weekly Weltwoche, also reports that he has found a 1946 photo of the young Bruno Doessekker (Wilkomirski) in the garden of his adoptive parents.

Comparisons have been drawn between Wilkomirski's Fragments and The Painted Bird, the supposedly autobiographical "Holocaust memoir" by prominent literary figure Jerzy Kosinksi that turned out to be fraudulent.

Reaction by Jewish Holocaust scholars to the new revelations has been instructive, because they seem more concerned about propagandistic impact than about historical truth. Their primary regret seems merely to be that the fraud has been detected, not that it was perpetrated.

In an essay published in a major Canadian newspaper (Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 18, 1998), Jewish writer Judith Shulevitz arrogantly argued that it doesn't really matter much if Fragments is authentic. Her main misgiving, apparently, is that the deceit was not more adroit: "I can't help wishing Wilkomirksi-Doesseker [sic] had been more subtle in his efforts at deception, and produced the magnificent fraud world literature deserves."

Deborah Dwork, director of the Center for Holocaust Studies at Clark University (Worcester, Mass.), and co-author of Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present (Yale Univ. Press, 1996), agrees that Fragments now appears to be fraudulent. At the same time, though, she expressed sympathy for Wilkomirski, saying that when she met him he appeared "to be a deeply scarred man." Amazingly, Dwork does not blame him for the imposture, "because she believes in his identity." Instead, she takes the publishers to task for having "exploited" Wilkomirski. (New York Times, Nov. 3, 1998).

Deborah Lipstadt, author of the anti-revisionist polemic Denying the Holocaust, has assigned Fragments in her Emory University class on Holocaust memoirs. When confronted with evidence that it is a fraud, she commented that the new revelations "might complicate matters somewhat, but [the work] is still powerful."

Daniel Ganzfried reports that Jews have complained to him that even if Fragments is a fraud, his exposé is dangerously aiding "those who deny the Holocaust."

American Jewish writer Howard Weiss makes a similar point in an essay published in the Chicago Jewish Star (Oct. 9-29, 1998):

Presenting a fictional account of the Holocaust as factual only provides ammunition to those who already deny that the horrors of Nazism and the death camps ever even happened. If one account is untrue, the deniers' reasoning goes, how can we be sure any survivors accounts are true ... Perhaps no one was ready to question the authenticity of the [Wilkomirski] account because just about anything concerning the Holocaust becomes sacrosanct.

Wilkomirski himself has responded to the new revelations by going into hiding, although he did issue a defiant statement describing the climate of discussion about his memoir as a "poisonous" atmosphere of "totalitarian judgment and criticism."

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Despite Gaza pullout, illegal Israeli settler population grows by 12,000
Feb 6, 2006

Despite Israel's evacuation of more than 9,000 Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and a small area in the northern West Bank, the number of settlers in the occupied territories has risen by 12,000 people, the Israeli Peace N! ow movement said Monday. At the end of December 2005, the number of Jewish settlers living in the West Bank reached 250,000, the movement said.

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Study Notes Decline in Internet Spyware
By LiveScience Staff posted: 03 February 2006

A new study details the extent and seriousness of potentially destructive spyware on the Internet, finding that it is still prevalent but declined significantly.
University of Washington computer scientists sampled more than 20 million Internet sites looking for programs that can covertly enter computers. While most spyware can be a nuisance—generating pop-ups, loading unwanted programs—it can also perform such malicious tasks as gathering personal data or using your modem to dial costly toll numbers.

The study examined popular categories of Web sites including games, news and celebrity sites. Among the findings:

* More 5 percent of executable files contain piggybacked spyware.
* One in 62 Internet domains performs "drive-by download attacks" to force spyware on users who simply visit the site.
* Game and celebrity Web sites appeared to pose the greatest risk for piggybacked spyware, while sites that offer pirated software topped the list for drive-by attacks.

"For unsuspecting users, spyware has become the most 'popular' download on the Internet," said Hank Levy at the university's Department of Computer Science & Engineering.

There is some good news:

The study employed a Web crawler to visit sites and look for spyware. It made two crawls, in May and October last year, and noted a 93 percent reduction in drive-by download attacks. That may be because more people are using anti-spyware tools and employing automated patch programs such as Windows Update. Also, civil lawsuits have been brought against spyware distributors.

Most spyware is relatively benign but can inundate a victim with pop-up advertisements. More malicious programs steal passwords and financial information. In a worst-case scenario, spyware can render a computer useless.

"You should download software only from reputable sources," said University of Washington associate professor Steven Gribble. "And it's a good idea to avoid the more shady areas of the Web."

The research is being presented today at the 13th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium in San Diego.

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Many Unaware Browser Choice Affects Security
By The Associated Press 31 May 2005

Malicious software often targets a specific type of browser, and generally those that are the most widely used. The poll said that 49 percent of those asked did not know that their choice of browser can make a difference, including 17 percent who thought it had no effect.

"Changing to a more secure browser is one of the simplest ways for Web users to make surfing safer and minimize the risk of falling victim to virus, spyware or 'phishing' attacks,'' said Opera's chief technical officer Haakon Wium Lie, referring to various techniques of tricking Internet users to hand over personal information, such as credit card numbers and passwords.
OSLO, Norway (AP) _ Many American online computer users are unaware that choice of browser affects Internet security, and few switch browsers even when they know the risk, a Norwegian study said Monday.

The Oslo-based browser-maker Opera Software ASA, which touts its own browser as being one of the most secure, released a survey of 2,835 online users in the United States, which indicated that only 51 percent of what it called the "adult online population'' were aware that the type of browser can affect a computer's vulnerability to malicious software, such as viruses and spyware.

The poll, first released to The Associated Press, also showed that only 11 percent of those asked said they had switched browsers for security reasons. The survey was conducted in March 25-29 by the Harris Interactive polling group and had a margin of error of about 5 percentage points.

Malicious software often targets a specific type of browser, and generally those that are the most widely used. The poll said that 49 percent of those asked did not know that their choice of browser can make a difference, including 17 percent who thought it had no effect.

Although a small percentage said they had switched browsers for security reasons, 66 percent said they would consider a change if it would improve security.

"Changing to a more secure browser is one of the simplest ways for Web users to make surfing safer and minimize the risk of falling victim to virus, spyware or 'phishing' attacks,'' said Opera's chief technical officer Haakon Wium Lie, referring to various techniques of tricking Internet users to hand over personal information, such as credit card numbers and passwords.

The tiny Norwegian browser company claimed that Internet security upgrades were a key part of its Opera 8 version, released last month. Among the features is a special window that rates the security of the page visited on a scale of one to three.

Opera commands less than 0.2 percent of the Windows market, far behind the industry leading Internet Explorer from Microsoft Corp. and various open-source browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox.

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BMW falls foul of Google ‘web spam’ rules
By Kate Mackenzie in London Published: February 6 2006

The German website of BMW, the carmaker, has been removed from Google’s search results as part of the web company’s crack down on the manipulation of its search engine.

Google confirmed on Monday that had been removed from all search engine results. A spokeswoman said the company could not comment on specific cases but said: “We cannot tolerate websites trying to manipulate search results as we aim to provide users with the relevant and objective search results”.

The website used “doorway” pages, which can be employed to trick search engines into leading their users to websites that are not directly related to the search terms.
Marc Hassinger, spokesperson for business and finance communications at BMW Deutschland, said the doorway pages only redirected users to relevant pages - for example, one doorway page that frequently used the German word for “used car” redirected users to a page about BMW used car sales. He said this was done so that German web users searching for a second-hand BMW car dealership would find an index of dealerships around the country.

“We can’t see a ‘manipulation’ which they said was happening regarding those websites,” Mr Hassinger said.

Matt Cutts, a software engineer at Google, wrote last month in his weblog that the company would begin to take a tougher line on web spamming by non-English language websites.

On Saturday Mr Cutts wrote that had been removed, for violating the guideline: “Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users.”

However Mr Hassinger said the “doorway” pages had been removed last Thursday after BMW noticed criticism on some blogs.

“Nevertheless Google has decided to spread this information which has created this, I’d almost say, media hype,” he said. “They spread it on Saturday, a few days after the pages had been taken off. They hadn’t talked to us beforehand which we found a bit surprising.”

He said there had been talks between BMW and Google and that he was confident the website would soon be re-included by Google.

Mr Hassinger added that only 0.4 per cent of’s traffic came from search engines such as Google, because most people wanting to visit the site either knew or could guess the correct address.

Mr Cutts also wrote on his blog that, the German website of the Japanese electronics and office equipment company, would be removed from Google for similar reasons. The website could not be found on a Google search on Monday, but Google’s spokeswoman said she could not comment on whether that site had also been removed.
Comment: Very interesting! As Laura has noted in her blog, the sprawling website does exactly that:

Recently, in early January, ATS turned on a new feature they call member tags. Member tags immediately added 37,000 pages to Google.

Coincidentally, this was right after the publication of Joe Quinn's article on SOTT, Dec. 31st.

What we notice about these 37,000 pages is that they are worthless as far as I can tell. No content. All the tag pages are basically just another form of indexing and advertising thread names. So they added 37,000 pages to Google with thousands of words, all pointing just to a set of intermediate pages listing thread names in categorizations (whether meaningful or not).

It looks as if they may have hundreds of thousands of pages in Google that all they are different presentations of index pages whose endpoint are all the same threads and posts. They self-reference voluminously. They may have ten pages or more all pointing to the same thread link, each one just sorted a different way. And the members think it is all real cool, but they haven't got a clue (most of them anyway). The owners currently are rewarding points for creating new member tags all the time.

Interesting that google hasn't yet removed ATS from the search engine returns for this blatant manipulation of results.

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Whose Life is it Anyway? - Roe v. Wade
by Norma Sherry 6 Feb 06

Benedictine nun, Sister Joan Chittister, is succinct in her appraisal of our “moral dilemma”.

Clearly, she states, “I’m opposed to abortion. But I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking. If all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed and why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”
Everywhere I go these days I see bumper stickers on cars that read, “We vote pro-life”. I find myself turning my head so I can see what these drivers look like. I guess I must expect that they’ll look unusual or different somehow. Interestingly, they’re not. I couldn’t help looking to see if they adorned that coiffed hairstyle that seems to identify the new far-right and Christian movement or that polished politician’s look. In most cases, however, they look much like most of us. In fact, I laugh at myself remembering the adage my mother used to say, “You can’t tell a book by its cover”.

But I can’t help wondering if these pro-life voters are simply pro-birth or are they also pro-raising, pro-caring, pro-financially-supporting these little lives? Is the limit to their belief that every embryo should evolve into a breathing viable person or have they considered what that unwanted life may face in life’s journey?

Life, what a precious commodity, what a gift to a loving couple striving for a family - and yet, here we are debating and arguing when life actually begins. Writer and Benedictine nun, Sister Joan Chittister, is succinct in her appraisal of our “moral dilemma”.

Clearly, she states, “I’m opposed to abortion. But I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking. If all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed and why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

Most of us have a position on this hot topic. If you’re forty-years of age or older than this discussion has consumed your consciousness most of your lifetime, as it has mine; you remember the days of backstreet abortions and desperate measures some women thought were their only option – and it was. As a motherless woman, and a woman who has always wanted a child, the thought of aborting a viable life growing within me would be unthinkable, but, as a woman who respects the right of other women to the inalienable rights over their own bodies, I would side on the side of a woman’s right to decide.

If it were up to me I would uphold Roe v. Wade. I would uphold it because I believe that each of us: man or woman has the right to determine what is right for their own bodies. This is not an issue for the government, or our president, or our presidents-to-be, it shouldn’t even be a case for the courts, it, however, should reside within the hearts’ of the affected parties.

I decided in this contentious atmosphere of a new Justice in the Supreme Court, and the foreboding fear that this momentous court decision may be overturned, that I had to completely comprehend what went into the decision of Roe v. Wade. I had to read it for myself. What I came away with was a new appreciation for the thoughtful process that became the controversial ruling.

As most of us know, Roe v. Wade was a case brought before the court by a single woman, Jane Roe, on behalf of herself and all women similarly situated. “Roe alleged that she was unmarried and pregnant.” She wished to terminate her pregnancy by an abortion “performed by a competent, licensed physician, under safe, clinical conditions”.

She stated, however, that she was unable to get a “legal” abortion in Texas because her life did not appear to be threatened by the continuation of her pregnancy. She claimed that the Texas statutes were unconstitutionally vague and that they abridged her right of personal privacy, protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.”

As I read Justice Blackmun’s opinion, I found it to be sensitive and heedful of the times and of times past. He wrote in his profound statement that the justice’s acknowledged the “sensitive and emotional
nature of the abortion controversy” and that they were aware “of the vigorous opposing views, even among physicians, and of the deep and seemingly absolute convictions that the subject inspires."

He articulated that the considerations of philosophy, personal experience, religious training, attitudes toward life and family and their values, as well as moral standards influenced “one’s thinking and conclusions about abortion.”

He noted that the justices sought to earnestly resolve the issue by “constitutional measurement, free of emotion and of predilection.” He wrote that some emphasis “upon, medical and medical-legal history and what that history reveals about man's attitudes toward the abortion procedure over the centuries” was taken into consideration.

He articulated the history of women’s rights and abortion. He described in great detail the times of the Persian Empire and how abortion and those performing abortion were punished. He noted that abortion was practiced in Greek times as well as in the Roman Era, and that “it was resorted to without scruple”. He wrote that “Greek and Roman law afforded little protection to the unborn”, and that “ancient religion did not bar abortion.”

Justice Blackmun also wrote a thorough investigation into the meaning of the Hippocratic Oath followed by an even longer evaluation of "common law" and the term “quickening" referring to the fetus’ first movements or animation. Interestingly, it was noted to be different by forty days for female versus male fetuses until the 19th century.

“These disciplines variously approached the question in terms of the point at which the embryo or fetus became ‘formed’ or recognizably human, or in terms of when a ‘person’ came into being, that is, infused with a ‘soul’ or ‘animated.’ A loose consensus evolved in early English law that these events occurred at some point between conception and live birth.”

The Justice continued by stating that a “recent review of the common-law precedents…makes it now appear doubtful that abortion was ever firmly established as a common-law crime even with respect to the destruction of a quick fetus…”

Furthermore, that “…not until after the War Between the States that legislation began generally to replace the common law. Most of these initial statutes dealt severely with abortion after quickening but were lenient with it before quickening…

“Gradually, in the middle and late 19th century the quickening distinction disappeared from the statutory law of most States and the degree of the offense and the penalties were increased. By the end of the 1950's, a large majority of the jurisdictions banned abortion, however and whenever performed, unless done to save or preserve the life of the mother.”

His opinion continued with, “It is thus apparent that at common law, at the time of the adoption of our Constitution, and throughout the major portion of the 19th century, abortion was viewed with less disfavor than under most American statutes currently in effect.”

In fact, according to Justice Blackmun, “a woman enjoyed a substantially broader right to terminate a pregnancy than she does in most States today,” with respect to the early stage of pregnancy. The opportunity to make this choice was present in this country well into the 19th century. “Even later”, he wrote, “the law continued for some time to treat less punitively an abortion procured in early pregnancy”.

“Three reasons”, the Justice added “have been advanced to explain historically the enactment of criminal abortion laws in the 19th century and to justify their continued existence.”

He wrote, “It has been argued occasionally that these laws were the product of a Victorian social concern to discourage illicit sexual conduct.” He added that, “the Texas statutes are overbroad in protecting it since the law fails to distinguish between married and unwed mothers.

“A second reason is concerned with abortion as a medical procedure.” He explained that when most criminal abortion laws were first enacted, the procedure was a hazardous one for the woman, particularly prior to the development of antiseptic techniques. Even after Pasteur and Lister’s discoveries in 1867 it was not generally utilized until the 1900’s.

Therefore, it was “…argued that a State's real concern in enacting a criminal abortion law was to protect the pregnant woman”, and, “to restrain her from submitting to a procedure that placed her life in serious jeopardy.”

As we now know, and Justice Blackmun opined, “Modern medical techniques have altered this situation”. Medical data indicates that abortion in early pregnancy, “prior to the end of the first trimester, although not without its risk, is now relatively safe. Mortality rates for women undergoing early abortions, where the procedure is legal, appear to be as low as or lower than the rates for normal childbirth”.

Furthermore, he wrote, “Consequently, any interest of the State in protecting the woman from an inherently hazardous procedure, except when it would be equally dangerous for her to forgo it, has largely disappeared…

“The third reason is the State's interest -- some phrase it in terms of duty -- in protecting prenatal life. Some of the argument for this justification rests on the theory that a new human life is present from the moment of conception…

“Parties challenging state abortion laws have sharply disputed in some courts the contention that a purpose of these laws, when enacted, was to protect prenatal life. Pointing to the absence of legislative history to support the contention, they claim that most state laws were designed solely to protect the woman. Because medical advances have lessened this concern, at least with respect to abortion in early pregnancy, they argue that with respect to such abortions the laws can no longer be justified by any state interest.”

He continued in his opinion by writing that, “There is some scholarly support for this view of original purpose. The few state courts called upon to interpret their laws in the late 19th and early 20th centuries did focus on the State's interest in protecting the woman's health rather than in preserving the embryo and fetus. Proponents of this view point out that in many States, including Texas, by statute or judicial interpretation, the pregnant woman herself could not be prosecuted for self-abortion or for cooperating in an abortion performed upon her by another. They claim that adoption of the ‘quickening’ distinction through received common law and state statutes tacitly recognizes the greater health hazards inherent in late abortion and impliedly repudiates the theory that life begins at conception.

He concluded that, “It is with these interests, and the weight to be attached to them, that this case is concerned.”

In articulating the Constitution’s position on the right of privacy, Justice Blackmun stated, “This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

He stated that the denial of aborting an unwanted pregnancy could “force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it”.

He added that the difficulties and “stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved” and that these were decisions for the mother and the physician to take into consideration.

It was determined in Roe v. Wade that the State of Texas “failed to meet his burden of demonstrating that the Texas statute's infringement upon Roe's rights was necessary to support a compelling state interest, and that, although the appellee presented "several compelling justifications for state presence in the area of abortions," the statutes outstripped these justifications and swept "far beyond any areas of compelling state interest."

Further, Blackmun stated that the argument that “the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment” was “outlined at length and in detail by the well-known facts of fetal development.” However, upon argument “the appellee conceded… that no case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

It was further noted that “the Constitution does not define 'person' in so many words.” In fact, “in nearly all these instances, the use of the word is such that it has application only postnatally. None indicates, with any assurance, that it has any possible prenatal application. All this, together with our observation that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word ‘person’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.”

Later in his opinion, Justice Blackmun carefully stated, “Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer,” putting to rest this difficult dilemma.

He added, “It should be sufficient to note briefly the wide divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question. There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth.”

He noted that this belief was predominant, although not unanimous with all major religions. He reiterated the significance of the common law, the notion of “quickening” and the physician’s stance on “viability”. He clarified the defining of viability to the infant’s ability to live outside of the mother’s womb. He even included the official Roman Catholic position on the "ensoulment" theory, which recognizes the existence of life from the moment of conception.

Finally, he added that, “The unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.”

Regarding the State’s position in preserving the rights of the unborn the Justice stated, “With respect to the State's important and legitimate interest in potential life, the "compelling" point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother's womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications. [Viability is considered 24 to 28-weeks.] If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”

The Justice’s conclusion was that the Texas statutes were “unconstitutional and must fall” therefore siding with Roe versus Wade. The argument, and the battle, however, have raged on and continues to this day.

I realized when reading Justice Blackmun’s Opinion that I had never known his words before, nor those of concurring Justice Stewart. I had, however, long heard of Justice Rehnquist’s dissenting views. Perhaps this is the crux of the problem.

We have a tendency to proliferate the point of view that most closely agrees with our own, or that which a particular position wants us to know, but in a nation built on the premise of laws it would seem only right to share all the views. Only then can an informed citizenry make up their own minds.

For me, I believe one must ask themselves if they would want the government to dictate what they can and cannot do with regard to their own body. Is it the right of a governing body to determine the fate of another irrespective of a crime? Should we, each of us, decide for our neighbor how they should live their lives and populate or not populate this world we all share? Is this delving into another’s personal domain our legal right? I believe for most of us the answer would be no.

If, however, you deem otherwise, particularly in the case of forcing an unwanted child unto a reluctant mother, who then should become responsible for this new life? Should it be you? Should it be the government? (And certainly we all know how well the government functions.) Will this child be doomed to a life of foster homes or perhaps an abusive household? Who will feed and educate and clothe this unwanted child for 20-years or more? Considering that life is so precious why then would we want to force a pregnancy upon an unwilling mother?

Our learned founding fathers determined that each of us was entitled to the right of privacy. As Jus-tice Stewart wrote in his concurring opinion stating that they recognized "the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child." Why can’t we?

Norma Sherry is co-founder of, an organization devoted to educating, stimulating, and igniting personal responsibility particularly with regards to our diminishing civil liberties. She is also an award-winning writer/producer. She hosts The Norma Sherry Show weekly on WQXT-TV.

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Record Sales of Sleeping Pills Are Causing Worries
By STEPHANIE SAUL NY Times February 7, 2006

Americans are taking sleeping pills like never before, fueled by frenetic workdays that do not go gently into a great night's sleep, and lulled by a surge of consumer advertising that promises safe slumber with minimal side effects.
About 42 million sleeping pill prescriptions were filled last year, according to the research company IMS Health, up nearly 60 percent since 2000.

But some experts worry that the drugs are being oversubscribed without enough regard to known, if rare, side effects or the implications of long-term use. And they fear doctors may be ignoring other conditions, like depression, that might be the cause of sleeplessness.

Although the newer drugs are not believed to carry the same risk of dependence as older ones like barbiturates, some researchers have reported what is called the "next day" effect, a continued sleepiness hours after awakening from a drug-induced slumber.

Ten percent of Americans report that they regularly struggle to fall asleep or to stay asleep throughout the night. And more and more are turning to a new generation of sleep aids like Ambien, the best seller, and its competitor, Lunesta. Experts acknowledge that insomnia has become a cultural benchmark — a side effect of an overworked, overwrought society.

"Clearly, there's a significant increase in people who report insomnia and, from my perspective, that is the result of our modern-day lifestyle," said Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs, a psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard. Or at least that is an impression that drug makers are clearly trying to capitalize on, he said.

And that concerns him and some other researchers who warn that despite their advertised safety, the new generation of sleep aids can sometimes cause strange side effects.

The reported problems include sleepwalking and short-term amnesia. Steven Wells, a lawyer in Buffalo, said he started using Ambien last year because his racing mind kept him awake at night. But he quit after only one month, concerned about several episodes in which he woke up to find he had messily raided the refrigerator and, finally, an incident in which he tore a towel rack out of a wall.

"The weird thing was that I had no recollection of it the next day," said Mr. Wells, who added that he found the episodes frightening.

Ambien's maker, Sanofi-Aventis, said the drug had been used for 12 billion nights of patient therapy. "When Ambien is taken as prescribed, it's a safe and effective treatment," said Emmy Tsui, a company spokeswoman.

A Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman, Susan Cruzan, said she was not aware of an unusual number of complaints with the drugs.

Drug makers spent $298 million in the first 11 months of 2005 to convince consumers that the sleep aids are safe and effective. That was more than four times such ad spending in all of 2004.

In the last year, much of the advertising surge has been a result of competition from Lunesta, which the drug maker Sepracor introduced last April to compete with Ambien. Through November, Sepracor led the sleeping pill advertising field, spending more than $185 million, according to figures from TNS Media Intelligence, which did not have final figures for December.

In response, Sanofi-Aventis, marketing both Ambien and its controlled-release version, Ambien CR, spent $107 million from last January through November, according to TNS. That was nearly double its ad spending on Ambien in 2004.

Even the most infrequent television viewers would have trouble missing the Lunesta ads, which feature a luna moth fluttering around the bed of a peaceful sleeper. Dr. Jacobs said that in one hour of prime-time television recently, he saw three ads for sleeping pills: two for Lunesta and another for Ambien.

"You've got the patient population being bombarded with advertising on TV," Dr. Jacobs said. "You've got increased advertising to physicians. You've got a formula for sales going up dramatically."

One financial analyst, Jon LeCroy of Natexis Bleichroeder, said Lunesta's ad campaign last fall was tied to the new season of "Desperate Housewives," whose audience is about 55 percent female. Studies have shown that women have insomnia more frequently than men.

Last week, Sepracor's stock jumped $8.53 in one day, after Sepracor reported a profit and remarkably strong use of Lunesta in its first year on the market, with sales of $329 million. More than 213,000 doctors wrote 3.3 million prescriptions for it last year, the company says.

Sepracor announced the addition of 450 people to its current sales force of 1,500 to increase marketing of the drug to physicians.

Sanofi-Aventis, with a sales force of 3,000, is working to shift patients from Ambien, which loses its patent protection in October, to the newer version, Ambien CR. The newer pill has a quickly dissolving outer layer meant to immediately induce sleep, with a slower-dissolving inner layer to sustain sleep.

Another drug in the class is Sonata, marketed by King Pharmaceuticals. Because it is short acting, Sonata is recommended for people who have trouble falling asleep but no trouble staying asleep.

Drugs in the class are frequently referred to as "Z" drugs, a play on both their effect and the Z's in their generic names, like zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta). All aim at a brain neurotransmitter that is believed to reduce neural activity.

Another new entrant to the market, Rozerem, by the Japanese company Takeda Pharmaceuticals, has been available in drugstores since September but has not yet been heavily advertised. The drug works by a different mechanism from the others, acting on the brain's melatonin receptors, which are believed to play a role in sleep-wake cycles.

Mr. LeCroy, the analyst, who is also a medical doctor, predicts the advertising will intensify if Neurocrine Biosciences and its partner Pfizer are permitted to introduce their new sleeping pill, Indiplon; an F.D.A. decision on that is expected in May.

"That's going to make the competition get more cutthroat," Mr. LeCroy said, predicting that the market for branded sleeping pills, currently about $2 billion a year, could grow to $3.8 billion, even with Ambien set to go generic. "This is only going to get crazier."

The Carlat Psychiatry Report, a newsletter by Dr. Daniel J. Carlat, a psychiatrist in Newburyport, Mass., reviewed the Z drugs recently and concluded that their differences were merely subtle. But Dr. Carlat warned that Lunesta, because it was longer acting, was more likely to cause next-day sleepiness problems "in comparison with some of its cousins."

Dr. Carlat cited a 1998 study in Britain, published in The Lancet, which found that taking zopiclone, the compound known as the "mother" of Lunesta and marketed in Europe, was linked to an increased risk of automobile accidents.

But Sepracor's chief financial officer, David P. Southwell, said that Lunesta, while a chemical variant of zopiclone, was a totally different drug. He referred a reporter to the F.D.A.-approved label, which lists clinical studies of next-day effects showing there was no consistent pattern of impaired mental functioning the day after Lunesta use.

The possible role of Ambien was investigated in connection with well-chronicled transportation disasters in 2003 — the crash of the Staten Island Ferry, which killed 11 passengers, and an accident involving a Texas church bus in Tallulah, La., which killed 8 passengers. The assistant captain who was piloting the ferry, like the bus driver, had a prescription for Ambien, but there was no evidence either had taken it before the crashes.

Dr. David G. Fassler, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, said he was concerned that the heavy marketing and prescribing of the sleep medications would lead to use in patients who have underlying conditions that are left untreated.

"I'm concerned that difficulty sleeping can be a sign of multiple disorders, including problems with anxiety and depression," he said, expressing worry that patients who are not thoroughly evaluated might be treated for their insomnia while other problems, like anxiety or decreased appetite, are not addressed.

In clinical trials, the most common side effect of the drugs, however, is that people wake up feeling sleepy the next day.

Dr. Daniel J. Buysse, a University of Pittsburgh psychiatrist who has consulted for the industry on sleeping pills, said they were a rare example of drugs in which the desired effect and the major side effect were the same thing. "One occurs when you want it, and the other occurs when you don't," he said.

Another problem associated with using sleeping pills is a condition commonly called traveler's amnesia, in reference to the frequent use by people who travel across time zones. Such amnesia can occur when people return to daytime activities too quickly after taking the drugs.

The labels carry warnings that the drugs should be used only when people can devote a full night to sleeping. In some cases, however, users have reported that they awakened during the middle of the night in sleepwalking states, but — like Mr. Wells, the lawyer in Buffalo — had no recollection of their activities.

The amnesiac effects of Ambien were a factor in the acquittal last week of a United States Air Force linguist who had been charged with raping a colleague while the two were stationed in Qatar. The woman who said she was the victim, also a linguist, testified that she was not sure whether the incident was a dream because she had taken Ambien, according to the Stars and Stripes report on the military trial, which occurred in Britain.

Dr. Buysse said such bouts of nocturnal uncertainty occur occasionally with various Z drugs.

"There have been some case reports of people who have been sleepwalking only when taking the drug," Dr. Buysse said. "I think it's rare, and it's the kind of thing that no one is going to have a very good estimate of. But if it happens to you, who cares if you're the only person of many?"

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Laptops stolen from offices investigating Diana death
AFP 7 Feb 06

Two laptops have been stolen from offices used by a former police chief who is heading a probe into the death of Princess Diana in a Paris car crash in 1997, a newspaper reports.

The theft sparked fears that the equipment may contain material from Operation Paget, the investigation headed by former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord John Stevens, the Daily Express said.
However, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan said the computers did not contain any sensitive information or any material linked to the probe.

Lord Stevens, a former chief constable of Northumbria Police, has an office in Gosforth on the outskirts of Newcastle upon Tyne. Detectives with Northumbria Police are investigating two burglaries there in the past 10 days, the newspaper said.

The first took place on the weekend of January 28 to 29 when the computers and cash were taken. The second took place last weekend, when nothing was taken.

Northumbria Police also said there was no evidence that the break-ins were linked to Lord Stevens' work.

Stevens has been investigating speculation that the princess of Wales' death was not the result of a straightforward car accident.

The probe was ordered in 2004 by the royal coroner, Michael Burgess, amid continuing conspiracy theories.

Diana married Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, in 1981 and the pair separated 11 years later.

Diana, 36, her lover Dodi Fayed and their chauffeur Henri Paul were killed when they crashed in a Paris tunnel on August 31, 1997.

A two-year French investigation blamed Paul for losing control of the car because he was high on drink and prescription drugs and driving too fast.

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Catholic Group Says of 'Da Vinci Code' Film: It's Just Fiction
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN NY Times February 7, 2006

When "The Da Vinci Code" became a publishing sensation, leaders of the Roman Catholic organization Opus Dei realized they had an image problem on their hands.

The assassin in the best-selling thriller is an albino Opus Dei monk named Silas, and the group is depicted as a powerful but secretive cult whose members practice ritualistic self-torture. In a preface titled "Fact," the author, Dan Brown, said his book was more than mere fiction.

When plans were revealed for a movie based on the book, Opus Dei leaders say they tried to persuade Sony Pictures to excise any mention of their group, sending a letter last year saying the book was "a gross distortion and a grave injustice."

Their effort failed.
With the film starring Tom Hanks now set for release on May 19, Opus Dei is trying to sate public interest and cast the group in a very different light than the religious home of a fictional assassin.

The group is promoting a blog by an Opus Dei priest in Rome, revamping its Web site and even arranging interviews with a member said to be the only "real Silas" in Opus Dei — a Nigerian-born stockbroker who lives in Brooklyn.

Silas Agbim, the stockbroker, said that Opus Dei taught its members to hold themselves to the highest standards. "If you do your work well, it's pleasing to God," said Mr. Agbim, a graying father of three grown children who is married to a professor emeritus of library science. "And if you think you will get holy by reciting 10 rosaries a day and doing your work sloppily, that is wrong."

Still, the "Da Vinci Code" movie is sure to revive a long-simmering debate among Catholics over whether Opus Dei is a positive or negative influence in the church. Critics say that while the group is relatively small, a few members seem to hold important positions in the Vatican, including the pope's chief spokesman.

Questions about whether Opus Dei has outsize influence grew when Pope John Paul II granted the group a unique status in the church in 1982, and 10 years later set the group's founder on an unusually speedy track to sainthood.

Opus Dei's reputation for secrecy developed partly because of the group's tradition that members should not publicly proclaim their affiliation. "Is he or isn't he Opus Dei?" guessing games have focused on prominent figures, particularly in Washington.

A controversy exploded last year in England when it surfaced that Ruth Kelly, the young new secretary of education in the liberal Labor Party, was affiliated with Opus Dei. She did not deny it but never clarified her status with the group, prompting even louder criticism. Robert P. Hanssen, an F.B.I. agent who pleaded guilty in 2001 to spying for the Soviet Union, confirmed that he was a member and acknowledged that he had confided his crimes to his priest.

Opus Dei leaders say they are neither secretive, nor particularly powerful, nor lockstep conservatives. They say the group is a decentralized network of more than 84,541 Catholic lay people and 1,875 priests around the world, relatively small numbers in a church of 1.1 billion.

They say they have no aspirations to control the Vatican and believe their calling is to live out their devotion to God by doing their jobs well, be it janitor, senator or full-time mother. Opus Dei is Latin for "the work of God."

Lynn Frank, an Opus Dei member in Walden, N.Y., mother of seven and the owner-entrepreneur of a business that promotes healthful eating, said: "The determination I have definitely comes from my vocation with Opus Dei, because every single day with Opus Dei, you wake up and say, 'I'm giving 100 percent of my day to you, Lord.' And if you slack off, that's a boss you don't want to answer to."

Since its founding in 1928 by a Spanish priest, Josemaría Escrivá, the group has found favor with several popes, in particular John Paul II, whose theological emphasis on holiness, the importance of the family and the dignity of work meshed well with Father Escrivá's beliefs. In 1982, John Paul granted Opus Dei the status of a "personal prelature," and it remains the only one in the church, meaning that it has its own bishop who reports directly to the pope.

Then in 1992, Father Escrivá leapfrogged other candidates for sainthood and was beatified a mere 17 years after his death. He was canonized a saint in 2002.

Joaquín Navarro-Valls, a spokesman for John Paul and now for Pope Benedict XVI, is a member, as was one of the co-authors of a controversial Vatican document released in 2000, Dominus Iesus, on the primacy of Christianity. When the pope wanted to clean up an Austrian diocese where pornography was found on a seminary computer, he appointed a new bishop from Opus Dei.

Also feeding the impression of influence is Opus Dei's American headquarters, in New York, a 17-story building at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 34th Street on which the group spent $69 million for the property, construction and furnishing.

Mention of the location in "The Da Vinci Code" has brought a constant stream of the curious and conspiratorial to the door, said the doorman, Robert A. Boone. He says he tells them, "You think I'd be working here if there were people like Silas walking around?"

Some Opus Dei members are incensed about how the three-year-old best seller presents not only Opus Dei, but also Christianity. In "The Da Vinci Code," a pair of sleuthing heroes discover that the doctrine of Jesus' divinity was made up by the fourth-century Roman Emperor Constantine, and that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children.

Mr. Agbim said he had read the book. "It is poison," he said. "It will lead the people to have doubts."

But Opus Dei leaders are taking a less confrontational approach. Opus Dei's United States leader, the Rev. Thomas G. Bohlin, said, "We don't want the controversy to pump up publicity for the movie." Father Bohlin sent the letter to Sony Pictures asking that Opus Dei be left out of the movie and said he had received a "polite but noncommittal" response.

Jim Kennedy, a spokesman for Sony Pictures, said: "We see 'The Da Vinci Code' as a work of fiction and not intended to harm any organization. At its heart the film is a thriller, and we do agree that it really provides a unique opportunity for Opus Dei and other organizations to let people know more about their work and their beliefs."

After researching Opus Dei for a book, John L. Allen, the Vatican correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter, has concluded that its power and wealth have been largely exaggerated. The group's worldwide membership is about equivalent to the number of Catholics in the Diocese of Hobart on the island of Tasmania, Mr. Allen said.

Opus Dei keeps no central financial records, but Mr. Allen determined its assets to be $2.8 billion, a figure the group's spokesmen say appears accurate. Much of that is tied up in the schools and hospitals worldwide. Half of the expense for the New York headquarters was paid for by a single donation of stock, said Brian Finnerty, a spokesman.

"Opus Dei certainly is a growing force in church affairs, and they probably have a very disproportionate number of those church positions that have impact, but let's not mythologize that," said Mr. Allen, author of "Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church."

Some former members accuse Opus Dei of behaving like a cult, with aggressive recruiting and excessive control over members who choose to live in Opus Dei centers. Tammy DiNicola, who joined Opus Dei as a college student and left in 1990 after two years, said the organization pulled in idealistic and very spiritual people by deceiving them.

"They don't tell you you wouldn't spend any holidays with your family, your mail would be read, you would hand over your salary to them, and you wouldn't be able to watch television or radio or even leave the house without permission," said Ms. DiNicola, who helped found the Opus Dei Awareness Network to help former members.

Mr. Finnerty, the Opus Dei spokesman, said that contrary to accusations by some former members, independence and personal freedom were central to the doctrine.

Seventy percent of Opus Dei's members, like Lynn Frank and Silas Agbim, are working people, usually married, who live in their own homes, a category of membership known as "supernumerary." Although they maintain a rigorous schedule of daily prayer and reading, weekly confession and meetings with a spiritual director, they carry on with their lives and professions.

About 20 percent are "numeraries," who give their lives entirely to the organization, living as celibates in an Opus Dei center. Some hold outside jobs, but many work full time in affiliated institutions, like hospitals and schools. Ten percent are "associates," who are celibate but live on their own and not in Opus Dei centers.

Much of the eerie mystique surrounding Opus Dei comes from the numeraries' practice of "corporal mortification." In "The Da Vinci Code," Silas the murderous monk is shown whipping himself bloody and wearing a spiked chain around his thigh so tightly that it draws blood.

In reality, numeraries do wear a "cilice," a chain with points, under their pants for two hours a day. Once a week, they beat their backs with a small cord while reciting a prayer. Opus Dei says corporal mortification is an ancient Catholic practice that promotes penance and identification with the suffering of Christ.

Ms. DiNicola, the former member, said that wearing the cilice was supposed to be optional but that numerary members were made to feel guilty if they did not. "It does cut and it does leave little blood pricks," she said.

Despite the dismal portrayal of their group in "The Da Vinci Code," Opus Dei leaders acknowledge some benefits from the attention. Doubleday, the publisher of the book, is about to release "The Way," a collection of spiritual writing by Opus Dei's founder. Mr. Finnerty, the group's spokesman, said it was "The Da Vinci Code" that opened the door for the deal.
Comment: Hmmm... "their effort failed." A lot has been made recently about the fact that Samuel Alito is a member of Opus Dei or has the support of same. Now WHO is more powerful than Opus Dei in government?

Nevertheless, they are right: The DaVinci Code IS fiction, and bad fiction at that. The problem is, it also touches on mysteries that ARE "secrets of the church." At least they used to be. Now they are just forgotten.

The REAL solution to the DaVinci Code is The Secret History of The World. No one who has read it yet has disagreed with this claim - except the agents of COINTELPRO, of course.

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