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Fall is in the air. Whether this is the fall of Bush, the neocons, and their fascist plans, or whether it is the fall of "the rest of us", well, time will tell. Unfortunately, the Powers That Be have more than one card up their sleeves: take John Kerry for example. While Democrats think there is a difference based upon certain elements of Kerry's internal politics for the US, the rest of the world doesn't see much difference between Bush's "Bring 'em on!" and Kerry's "Bring 'em on, but let's get some help from our friends first".

There are a number of threads developing these days: we've seen a number of "terrorist" attacks in Russia, from the two downed planes, to the suicide bomb in Moscow yesterday, and today's hostage-taking at a school. The heat is being turned up on Putin, who just by chance happened to be meeting with French President Jacques Chirac and Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Coincidence?

Who knows?

In Iraq the hostage-takings continue, as do the names of the different "Islamic" groups claiming responsibility. Who would have thought Mossad had so many different operations there. Obviously a busy bunch of people. Not only are they active in Iraq, they have been active in Washington. While the "Israeli spy" case has fallen from the front pages of US media (are we surprised?), the ramifications are still being discussed elsewhere. It certainly looks as if the neo-con artists in the Pentagon are in the process of selling the US public on the dangers of Iran in the same way they soft-soaped them about Iraq. Much recent discussion about the dangers of Iran to the US as well as a report that the US has been flying into Iranian airspace -- testing the response times of Iranian anti-aircraft defense?

The timing of the outing of Larry Franklin is also being questioned. According to some reports, he had been turned a month ago, after having been approached by the FBI. So was his outing by CBS News a move to stop the damage before it went too high up in the Israeli hierarchy?

Who knows?

Protests continue in New York in the face of the effrontery of the Republican Party to hold its Convention in the City of 9/11. After assembling half a million people Sunday, it looks as if the agents provocateur have been sent in to channel the dissent into more "nightly news friendly" violence and arrests. The news prefers those action shots of cops meting out "justice" to the lowlife who would voice their dissent to the actions of the duly elected president of all the people. Well, if Bush wasn't "duly elected" there were an awful lot of people who voted for him, with stress on the word "awful". In fact Bush got almost as many votes as Gore, so that is quite an achievement for someone who has such a list of failures behind him. But getting back to the news, we wonder how many Americans are aware of the size of the protest march on Sunday? CNN was initially reporting on their site "tens of thousands", which is mathematically correct while leaving a very distorted image in the mind of the reader.

The Republican Party's Death Wish: The once proud party of Lincoln has morphed into a party of sleaze and greed.

By Gerald Rellick

In a wonderful piece of writing, Garrison Keillor, author of Lake Wobegon, reminds us that in the days of Republican president Dwight Eisenhower, it was "OK for reasonable people to vote Republican." Says Keillor, "[Eisenhower] brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned." But more importantly perhaps, writes Keillor, "There was a degree of plain decency in the country."

Eight years later another Republican president took office. And while Richard Nixon's presidency was marred by the ongoing Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, and Nixon's subsequent resignation, it also brought the country many benefits. Nixon initiated relations with China, created the Environmental Protection Agency, and established a generous student loan program. Keillor says that "Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor." Years ago I recall author and political analyst Kevin Phillips refer to Nixon as "the last of the cloth-coat Republicans."

Both Nixon and Eisenhower came from humble origins and achieved success through dedication and hard work, and they espoused classic Republican Party values. They weren't reckless; they didn't feel free to gamble with America's future and the futures of its children and grandchildren. They believed in low taxes but also in fiscal responsibility. They believed an employer had an obligation to provide good jobs at good wages--not just because it was the morally right thing to do, but because to do otherwise was economic stupidity.

Since then, it's been all down hill. Writes Keillor, "The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics." In a paragraph that can't be excerpted without injustice, he continues:

"The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy- backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous." [...]

How could it be that in the United States in the 21st century--with unequaled accomplishments in the fields of medicine, science, and engineering, and with so many extraordinarily talented people and academic institutions that are the envy of the entire world--almost half of us are contemplating returning George Bush and his gang of political thugs and incompetents to office for four more years?

The answer is fear. Says Garrison Keillor: "Fear [is] the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition."

We may not say it in company or even to ourselves, but we know that George Bush's presidency--or what little remains of it--is all about 9/11 and fear. Bush is wounded, and he's angry and desperate. I suggest that John Kerry follow the advice of Robert Lane Greene writing in The New Republic: "For Kerry, it would be both bold and wise to chase the wounded president down on his own shore--and finish him off."

If the Republican Party is to have a future political life in America, it will have to offer up better--much better--than George W. Bush and his ideology. It would be better for the Republicans to lose one election rather than continue on a foundation of shifting sand based on fear, lies, and misrepresentations. They must give the American people a real choice.

Gerald S. Rellick, Ph.D., worked in the defense sector of the aerospace industry. He now teaches in the California Community College system.

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Comment: This commentator asks the question of the century: "How could it be that in the United States in the 21st century--with unequaled accomplishments in the fields of medicine, science, and engineering, and with so many extraordinarily talented people and academic institutions that are the envy of the entire world- -almost half of us are contemplating returning George Bush and his gang of political thugs and incompetents to office for four more years? "

His answer is "Fear."

But the answer is really deeper than that. Obviously, half a million people demonstrating in New York are more afraid of Bush than they are of terrorists. More aptly put, they know that the REAL TERRORISTS are in the White House and the hallowed halls of American Government.

But how many Americans are aware that there are over half a million of their fellow citizens demonstrating against four more years of Bush? How many major News Media sources are carrying this story and giving it the emphasis it deserves?

So, the REAL ANSWER is MANIPULATION OF INFORMATION. Manipulation of information is, in plain terms, LYING.

And if just plain lying doesn't do it - that is, keep the sheep in line to vote Bush/Cheney in November - there is always the technological solution...

The Diebold GEMS central tabulator contains a stunning security hole

by Bev Harris
Thu, 08/26/2004

Manipulation technique found in the Diebold central tabulator -- 1,000 of these systems are in place, and they count up to two million votes at a time.

By entering a 2-digit code in a hidden location, a second set of votes is created. This set of votes can be changed, so that it no longer matches the correct votes. The voting system will then read the totals from the bogus vote set. It takes only seconds to change the votes, and to date not a single location in the U.S. has implemented security measures to fully mitigate the risks.

This program is not "stupidity" or sloppiness. It was designed and tested over a series of a dozen version adjustments.

Public officials: If you are in a county that uses GEMS 1.18.18, GEMS 1.18.19, or GEMS 1.18.23, your secretary or state may not have told you about this. You're the one who'll be blamed if your election is tampered with. [...]

Whether you vote absentee, on touch-screens, or on paper ballot (fill in the bubble) optical scan machines, all votes are ultimately brought to the "mother ship," the central tabulator at the county which adds them all up and creates the results report.

These systems are used in over 30 states and each counts up to two million votes at once. [...]

The central tabulator is far more vulnerable than the touch screen terminals. Think about it: If you were going to tamper with an election, would you rather tamper with 4,500 individual voting machines, or with just one machine, the central tabulator which receives votes from all the machines? Of course, the central tabulator is the most desirable target.

Findings: The GEMS central tabulator program is incorrectly designed and highly vulnerable to fraud. Election results can be changed in a matter of seconds. Part of the program we examined appears to be designed with election tampering in mind. [...]

Much of this information, originally published on July 8, 2003, has since been corroborated by formal studies (RABA) and by Diebold's own internal memos written by its programmers.

Not a single location has yet implemented the security measures needed to mitigate the risk. [...]

In Nov. 2003, Black Box Voting founder Bev Harris, and director Jim March, filed a Qui Tam lawsuit in California citing fraudulent claims by Diebold, seeking restitution for the taxpayer. Diebold claimed its voting system was secure. It is, in fact, highly vulnerable to and appears to be designed for fraud.

The California Attorney General was made aware of this problem nearly a year ago. Harris and Black Box Voting Associate Director Andy Stephenson visited the Washington Attorney General's office in Feb. 2004 to inform them of the problem. Yet, nothing has been done to inform election officials who are using the system, nor have appropriate security safeguards been implemented. In fact, Gov. Arnold Swarzenegger recently froze the funds, allocated by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, which would have paid for increased scrutiny of the voting system in California.

On April 21, 2004, Harris appeared before the California Voting Systems Panel, and presented the smoking gun document showing that Diebold had not corrected the GEMS flaws, even though it had updated and upgraded the GEMS program.

On Aug. 8, 2004, Harris demonstrated to Howard Dean how easy it is to change votes in GEMS, on CNBC TV.

On Aug. 11, 2004, Jim March formally requested that the Calfornia Voting Systems Panel watch the demonstration of the double set of books in GEMS. They were already convened, and the time for Harris was already allotted. Though the demonstration takes only 3 minutes, the panel refused to allow it and would not look. They did, however, meet privately with Diebold afterwards, without informing the public or issuing any report of what transpired.

On Aug. 18, 2004, Harris and Stephenson, together with computer security expert Dr. Hugh Thompson, and former King County Elections Supervisor Julie Anne Kempf, met with members of the California Voting Systems Panel and the California Secretary of State's office to demonstrate the double set of books. The officials declined to allow a camera crew from 60 Minutes to film or attend.

The Secretary of State's office halted the meeting, called in the general counsel for their office, and a defense attorney from the California Attorney General's office. They refused to allow Black Box Voting to videotape its own demonstration. They prohibited any audiotape and specified that no notes of the meeting could be requested in public records requests.

The undersecretary of state, Mark Kyle, left the meeting early, and one voting panel member, John Mott Smith, appeared to sleep through the presentation.

On Aug. 23, 2004, CBC TV came to California and filmed the demonstration.

On Aug 30 and 31, Harris and Stephenson will be in New York City to demonstrate the double set of books for any public official and any TV crews who wish to see it.

On Sept. 1, another event is planned in New York City, and on Sept. 21, Harris and Stephenson intend to demonstrate the problem for members and congress and the press in Washington D.C. [...]

Why don't people want to look? Suppose you are formally informed that the gas tank tends to explode on the car you are telling people to use. If you KNOW about it, but do nothing, you are liable.


1) Let there be no one who can say "I didn't know."

2) Let there be no election jurisdiction using GEMS that fails to implement all of the proper corrective procedures, this fall, to mitigate risk.

Comment: The Diebold scandal has been public knowledge now for many, many months. Yet those responsible for the integrity of US elections refuse to do anything to fix these security leaks. Keep in mind that the owner of Diebold is a Republican who has said he will do whatever it takes to win the election for Bush. Reassuring words, don't you think?

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Spy Scandal's Roots are Deep

Juan Cole

Jim Lobe argues that the FBI investigation that caught up Pentagon Iran expert Lawrence Franklin is much wider than initially thought, and focuses on the unauthorized transfer to Israel of highly sophisticated military software and designs. Since many Israeli arms merchants connected to the government in Tel Aviv sell to the black market, some of this military technology has ended up in the hands of countries that have poor relations with the US, and some may have ultimately been resold to al-Qaeda.

Lobe writes,

According to knowledgeable sources, who asked to not be identified, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) has been intensively reviewing a series of past counter-intelligence probes that were started against several high-profile neo-cons but never followed up with prosecutions, to the great frustration of counter-intelligence officers, in some cases.

Some of these past investigations involve top current officials, including Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith, whose office appears to be the focus of the most recently disclosed inquiry; and Richard Perle, who resigned as Defence Policy Board (DPB) chairman last year.

All three were the subject of a lengthy investigative story by Stephen Green published by Counterpunch in February. Green is the author of two books on U.S.-Israeli relations, including Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, which relies heavily on interviews with former Pentagon and counter-intelligence officials.

Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post reports that the FBI raided the offices of Steve Rosen, the director of foreign policy issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committe, an enormously influential lobby.

Earlier, rumors swirled of an FBI investigation of how the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, set up by Doug Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, skewed intelligence on Iraq and may have illegally engaged in intelligence-gathering. In fact, that investigation was being conducted by the Senate Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee staffs, not by the FBI. They are also looking at the possibility that Pentagon employees pursued unauthorized contacts aimed at preparing the way for overthrowing the governments of Iran and Syria. This according to the Boston Globe:

' Senate Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee staff members say inquiries into the Near East and South Asia Affairs division have found preliminary evidence that some officials gathered questionable information on weapons of mass destruction from Iraqi exiles such as Ahmed Chalabi without proper authorization, which helped build President Bush's case for an invasion last year.

The investigators are also looking into a more serious concern: whether the office engaged in illegal activity by holding unauthorized meetings with foreign nationals to destablize Syria and Iran without the presidential approval required for covert operations, said one senior congressional investigator who has longtime experience in intelligence oversight. '

A pattern of illegal payments for such information is also at issue. Laura Rozen says she has evidence that Pentagon officials paid Manuchehr Ghorbanifar for documents he provided.

By the way, I personally do not expect any dramatic developments from all these investigations. AIPAC has powerful protectors on Capitol Hill, and past charges that it was involved in espionage for Israel have always been buried. As for the Neocon cult in the Pentagon, even if they did something illegal, they will not suffer much because of it. Look at where the Iran-Contra criminals are, who subverted the US Constitution and stole arms from the Pentagon to sell illegally to Khomeini. One Iran-Contra figure, who lied to Congress, now serves in the National Security Council as the person in charge of the Israeli-Palestine issue. That is Elliot Abrams, who was pardoned by Bush the elder and now sets White House policy on among the more important issues affecting US relations with the Muslim world. Bush may as well have just appointed Ariel Sharon to advise him on how to deal with Ariel Sharon (though to be fair, Sharon is probably more pragmatic than and to the left of Abrams).

Moreover, if Sharon and AIPAC decide that they need to US government to take military action against Iran, it is likely that the US government will do so. They can mobilize the US evangelicals in favor of this step, putting enormous pressure on Congress and the executive. Many Iranian expatriates are extremely wealthy and well connected, and they want such military action. And, firms like Halliburton, which find work-arounds allowing them to make money in Iran (and did so when Dick Cheney was CEO), would love to get rid of the mullas so they could make the big bucks, and more straightforwardly. So it isn't that AIPAC can snap its fingers and make something happen in Washington. But it can put together powerful coalitions and leverage its influence through policy allies, which does tend to make things happen.

I don't personally believe that the Iraq war has been good for Israel in reality, since there is now a great deal of instability on Israel's front porch, and the Fallujans have already declared solidarity with Hamas. I don't think US military action against Iran would be good for anyone, since it would further destabilize the Persian Gulf (the high oil prices, by the way, can't be good for the Israeli economy).

But American politics has become so dominated by single-issue lobbies that they far outweigh the concerns of a mere voter.

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Comment: We think Mr. Cole is correct when he says "if Sharon and AIPAC decide that they need to US government to take military action against Iran, it is likely that the US government will do so". It looks as if the US is already scoping out Iran's defenses:

US warplanes violate Iran's air space

Aug 24, 2004, 19:11

Five US warplanes entered Iran's air space last Thursday night from the southwestern Shalamcheh border and flew over the city of Khorramshahr for a while, press reports said Tuesday.

According the Persian daily Seday-e Edalat, 'the jet fighters which flew at high speed and altitude, then headed to the Arvand River'.

"They flew at a height of 10 kilometers and maneuvered over Khorramshahr for a while," the paper said.

"While the objective behind the fighters' violation of the Iranian air space is not known yet, some military specialists believe such moves are aimed at assessing the sensitivity of the Islamic Republic's anti-aircraft defense system," it added.

It said military and air force officials had refrained from commenting on the incident when contacted.

Iran has been wary of the occupation forces' presence on its doorsteps in Iraq and carefully watched their movements.

Tehran, while opposing Iraq's invasion, took a position of `active neutrality' at the time of the attack.

In June, Iranian naval guards seized three British boats with eight crew in the country's territorial waters in Arvand river, which borders Iraq.

The servicemen, two Royal Navy sailors and six Royal Marine commandos, were later released.

Their equipment reportedly consisted of personal weapons, radios and navigation equipment, including echo sounders to measure the depth of the water, global positioning systems to identify the exact position and up-to-date maritime charts.

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US stakes between Iraq, Iran

By Ellen Laipson
August 30, 2004

[...] For weeks now, Iran and Israel have been exchanging threats and barbs over Iran's nuclear program. Israel wants to raise the temperature over Iran's program, perhaps to win more focused attention from Washington and the international community, perhaps to deter Iran from going the next step in enrichment activities at the Bushehr reactor. Hints of Israeli contingency planning have provoked strong words from Tehran, including threats to destroy the Dimona facility where Israel's own nuclear program was developed decades ago.

Would Israel strike first at Iran?

This war of words may hint at a real reckoning point: Israel believes that Iran is only months from crossing new thresholds, and perhaps no more than two to three years away from completing its nuclear project. The Aug. 17 announcement that the Bushehr reactor will not be operational until 2006 may be intended to bring this round to a close. Is Iran blinking in light of Israeli statements or is it hoping to buy time with the international community that will address the Iran issue at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and later at the UN in September?

US Undersecretary of State John Bolton insists that the Iran nuclear problem will be dealt with diplomatically. But US officials have used the UN before to declare that diplomatic means are exhausted, and they are now expected to seek punitive action from the Security Council, should Iran fail to satisfy the IAEA in September.

[...] With respect to Iran's nuclear policy, Washington is for now pursuing an overt political strategy, trying to keep like-minded Western states in a loose coalition to press for full Iranian compliance with its IAEA and nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. But there could well be a separate track, planning for paramilitary options, alone or secretly coordinated with Israel, to delay or disrupt any imminent Iranian activities that would constitute a "point of no return" in its nuclear plans.

Comment: Israel is accusing Iran of the same thing that they accused Iraq: being a matter of years from having a nuclear weapon capability. These accusations were found later to be unfounded. The Neo-con artists in Washington gave Bush faked intelligence from Israel to justify the invasion. It worked then, so why change strategy, right?

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FBI Talks to Feith, Wolfowitz

Barbara Ferguson
Arab News

NEW YORK, 31 August 2004 — The FBI has broadened its investigation of a Pentagon official suspected of giving a top-secret presidential policy directive on Iran to two lobbyists working for AIPAC, who then turned the information over to Israel.

The focus of the investigation is an Iran specialist at the Pentagon named Lawrence Franklin, who works in an office overseen by Douglas J. Feith, the Defense undersecretary for policy. Feith is an influential aide to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld whose previous work included prewar intelligence on Iraq, including purported ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and the Al-Qaeda terror network.

The fact that the alleged spy is associated with Feith and Wolfowitz may prove embarrassing for the White House. Both officials, actively involved in planning the invasion of Iraq, have been accused of promoting the war to serve Israeli interests.

Early in the Bush administration, Franklin worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency before moving to the Pentagon's policy branch under Feith three years ago. He is now nearing retirement.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Franklin had traveled to Israel, including during duty in the Air Force Reserve, where he rose to the rank of colonel and served as a specialist in foreign political-military affairs. He may have been based at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv on those tours, a former co-worker at the DIA told reporters, but was never permanently assigned there.

The FBI spent more than a year covertly investigating Franklin, and even obtained a warrant from a federal court to use electronic surveillance. It is not known whether such surveillance was conducted inside the Pentagon itself, although it has involved at least one of Franklin's computers.

High-ranking officials at the Defense and State Departments have been interviewed or briefed by FBI agents investigating the case. Among those briefed by the FBI was Feith, said government officials familiar with the sessions. The officials spoke yesterday on condition of anonymity because the probe is continuing.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation briefed Feith on Sunday in his office at the Pentagon and also asked questions, the officials said. Also recently briefed by the FBI was Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, they said.

Others at State and Defense have been interviewed or briefed over the course of the probe, but the officials declined to provide any other names.

Prosecutors are said to be weighing whether to charge Franklin with the most serious charge of espionage, but the FBI believes Franklin's spying went well beyond the extensive information-sharing relations that exists between the United States and Israel.

Newsweek magazine reported Sunday the FBI first learned of Franklin's unusual contacts when agents observed him at a Washington lunch more than a year ago with a lobbyist for AIPAC, and Naor Gilon, a specialist on Iran's nuclear weapons program and head of the political affairs department at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

AIPAC is the powerful pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee based in Washington.

Citing US intelligence officials, Newsweek said Franklin on one occasion allegedly tried to hand over a classified US policy document on Iran, but that the Israeli diplomat refused to take it.

It is here the AIPAC lobbyists could have proved useful as middlemen.

The New York Times reported in its Monday edition that government officials say Franklin had been cooperating with federal agents for several weeks and was preparing to lead them to contacts inside the Israeli government when work of the investigation was leaked by CBS News late last week.

To many this makes the timing of the leak curious.

Several experts in Washington told journalists Israel does present a problem for the United States in certain aspects of intelligence, such as sensitive defense technologies and Iran policy.

Israel sees Iran as the single biggest threat to its existence, and so closely monitors all possible moves in Washington's Iranian policy — especially regarding Iran's nuclear program.

One former State Department officer told a journalist that that US government experts considered Israel as a country whose spying most threatened the United States. "I know from my time in Jerusalem that official US visitors to Israel were warned about the counterintelligence threat from Israel," he said.

Israeli officials confirmed yesterday that Gilon met with Franklin. However, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said meetings between Israeli Embassy employees and US government officials are commonplace, and that the two governments routinely share secrets.

The Israeli daily Maariv quoted Gilon as saying that he did nothing wrong. "My hands are clean. I have nothing to hide. I acted according to the regulations," Gilon said.

The diplomat told Maariv he was concerned that as a result of the reports, he would not be able to continue working in Washington. "Now, people will be scared to talk to me," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

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The Israeli Spy Ring

"Israel does not spy on the United States of America."
-- Mark Regev, a spokesman at the Israeli embassy in Washington

Prior to 9/11, the FBI had discovered the presence of a massive spy ring inside the United States run by the government of Israel. This seems a harsh gratitude from a nation which obtains 10% of its annual budget from the American taxpayer, $3 billion a year. Over the years, American taxpayers have been required to send Israel more than four times what the US spent to go to the moon.

What Israel has done in return was to set up government subsidized telecommunications companies which operate here in the United States. One of these companies is Amdocs, which provides billing and directory assistance for 90% of the phone companies in the USA. Amdocs' main computer center for billing is actually in Israel and allows those with access to do what intelligence agencies call "traffic analysis"; a picture of someone's activities based on a pattern of who they are calling and when.

Another Israeli telecom company is Comverse Infosys, which subcontracts the installation of the automatic tapping equipment now built into every phone system in America. Comverse maintains its own connections to all this phone tapping equipment, insisting that it is for maintenance purposes only. However, Converse has been named as the most likely source for leaked information regarding telephone calls by law enforcement that derailed several investigations into not only espionage, but drug running as well. Yet another Israeli telecom company is Odigo, which provides the core message passing system for all the "Instant Message" services.

Two hours before the attacks on the World Trade Towers, Odigo employees received a warning. Odigo has an office 2 blocks from the former location of the World Trade Towers. "I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing -- although that was part of it -- by a sovereign foreign government... It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now."
-- Senator Graham as quoted in Senator: At Least One Foreign Country Assisted the 9/11 Terrorists

Let us be clear here. There is nothing benign about Israel spying on the United States. When Jonathan Pollard stole our nuclear secrets (which your taxes paid to develop) and sent them to Israel, Israel did not hesitate to trade those secrets to the USSR in exchange for increased emigration quotas.

The implication of these facts is that the billions of our tax dollars sent to Israel (while women and children sleep in America's alleys and eat out of trash bins) have bought and paid for a monstrous phone tracking and phone tapping system that can eavesdrop on almost any phone call in America. Even the White House phones were open to such tapping by listening in on the other end outside the White House itself.

This actually happened. The Ken Starr report on Whitewater describes how Bill Clinton informed Monica Lewinsky that their phone sex conversations had been recorded. At the same time, Clinton ordered the FBI to cease the hunt for an Israeli mole known to be operating inside the White House itself!

So here we have a foreign nation able to listen in on most phones at will, using taps that cannot be found because they are built into the phone system itself, and willing to use the information gleaned from those calls to blackmail Americans into any desired course of action. This may well be what Ariel Sharon meant when he stated that the Jewish people control America.

That the information gleaned from these phone taps is being used to coerce the behavior of key individuals in the US Government and media is illustrated by the manner in which the government and the media have handled this scandal of the largest spy ring ever uncovered inside the United States, and of phone taps on all of our phones. They are downplaying it. Actually, burying it is a better word.

Fox News, alone of all the media, actually ran the story as a four part broadcast, and put the story up on its web site. Then, without explanation, Fox News erased the story from their web site and have never mentioned it again. CNN followed by "Orwellizing" their report of the two hour advance warning of the WTC attacks sent to Odigo employees. But far more telling is the admission made by a US Official in part one of the Fox News report that hard evidence existed linking the events of 9/11 not to Arab Muslims, but to some of the more than 200 Israeli spies arrested both before and after 9/11, but that this evidence had been CLASSIFIED.

"Investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying ... is considered career suicide."
-- Carl Cameron, as quoted in The Spies Who Came In From The Art Sale

Since then, any and all mention of the Israeli spy ring and phone tapping scandal has resulted in a barrage of shrill screams of "hate" and "anti-Semite", two well worn and frankly over used devices to try to silence discussion on any topic unfavorable to the nation which owns the spy ring in question.

The story of the uncovering of the largest spy ring ever discovered inside the United States should be the story of the century, if indeed the US media is looking out for the best interests of the American people. That this spy ring helped drug smugglers evade investigators should be a major scandal, if indeed the US media is looking out for the best interests of the American people. That the spy ring includes companies able to track and tap into any phone in America, including the White House, should be a cause celebre', if indeed the US media is looking out for the best interests of the American people.

But they are not. The media is trying to bury this story. They are spiking it, erasing it from their web sites in a chilling real-life Orwellian rewriting of history.

The actions of the US media are those of people trying to protect this spy ring and those that the spy ring worked for. "While I agree with you, if I say anything about US geopolitical interests with Israel, I might as well clean off my desk."
-- Unnamed reporter as quoted in American Media Censorship and Israel

The actions of the US media are those of traitors to the American people.

Comment: You can find the four parts of the Fox News story on

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About that Security Thing

In 1970 while working for the stridently pro Israel senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson an FBI wiretap uncovered classified information being discussed with the Israeli Embassy by the then 28 year old Richard Perle. An NSA investigation focused on Helmut Sonnenfeld who was himself previously investigated for disclosing secret documents to the Israeli Government. Later in 1978 Perle received classified documents from David Sullivan. The CIA's Stansfield Turner tried to fire Sullivan but Sullivan quit, Turner then urged Jackson to fire Perle but Perle was given a reprimand, meanwhile Sullivan was immediately hired by Senator Jackson. -- Source: Stephen Green, Counterpunch Jan 1-15, 2004

Here is what former Fmr. Congressman Paul Findley has to say; "An FBI summary of a 1970 wiretap recorded Perle discussing classified information with someone at the Israeli embassy. He came under fire in 1983 when newspapers reported he received substantial payments to represent the interests of an Israeli weapons company. Perle denied conflict of interest, insisting that, although he received payment for these services after he had assumed his position in the Defense Department, he was between government jobs when he worked for the Israeli firm."

It keeps on leaking with Perle, in 1983 Perle comes under fire for accepting 50K from an Israeli arms manufacturer, and in March 17, 2003 the New Yorker expose by Seymour Hersh pops Perle again in the Trireme affair ( tri-ream ?) where Perle is dealing with Iran-Contras Adnan Khashoggi. Perle "according to Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar, offered to call off of his and his fellow neo-con's Saudi-bashing operations, in return for a $100-million payoff `investment'' in one of his companies, Trireme Partners L.P." Perles response is to call Hersh a 'terrorist'.

And let's not forget Perle's connections to Global Crossing and China -->> Link Not surprising really if we recall that Israel was selling weapons to Iran while we were selling WMD to Iraq during the Iran/ Iraq war.

There is so much more -->

Moving on to Paul Wolfowitz. in 1978 Wolfowitz working for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency is involved in an inquiry when it is found out that he provided a classified document to an Israeli Government official through an AIPAC contact. In 1992 the Bush I administration commences an investigation of the export of classified military technology to China. It is discovered that Wolfowitz is lobbying for the sale to Israel of the AIM-9 air to air missile. The Joint Chiefs headed by Colin Powell intervenes knowing that Israel has been caught selling an earlier variant of the AIM -9 missile to China. -- Source: Stephen Green, CounterPunch, Jan 1-15, 2004.

The AIM -9's, you all know that missile, you saw it embedded on the wingtips of the Chinese jets that intercepted our spy plane.

And what of the Lavi, the Israeli fighter that sucked up billions of US dollars, where is that serving? In China as the J-10. -->>

It would be interesting to ask Powell about that at the next opportunity, just to watch.

And Feith ? In 1982 Feith was fired due to an FBI inquiry into whether he provided secret documents to who else, the Israeli Embassy.

Comment: So are we watching the beginning of the end of the neo-con artists? If it happens, will that give us a warm and fuzzy feeling in the pit of our stomachs, a feeling of "all is well in the world"? That truth and justice win out once more?

You can feel that way if you wish. For our part, we'll just keep looking deeper in the rabbit hole. As we have said, Kerry will not change US politics vis-à-vis Israel. The departure of the neo-con artists will not mean justice for the Palestinians, as the Labour Party is no more willing to end the genocide than is Likud.

On the other hand, the situation of the US in the Middle East is getting so bad that some mainstream observers are starting to wake up. Paul Krugman, who passes as the NYT's "liberal" columnist, is pointing out the difference between the Bush picture of Iraq and the facts on the ground.

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A No-Win Situation

Published: August 31, 2004

"Everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran." That was the attitude in Washington two years ago, when Ahmad Chalabi was assuring everyone that Iraqis would greet us with flowers. More recently, some of us had a different slogan: "Everyone worries about Najaf; people who are really paying attention worry about Ramadi."

Ever since the uprising in April, the Iraqi town of Falluja has in effect been a small, nasty Islamic republic. But what about the rest of the Sunni triangle?

Last month a Knight-Ridder report suggested that U.S. forces were effectively ceding many urban areas to insurgents. Last Sunday The Times confirmed that while the world's attention was focused on Najaf, western Iraq fell firmly under rebel control. Representatives of the U.S.-installed government have been intimidated, assassinated or executed.

Other towns, like Samarra, have also fallen to insurgents. Attacks on oil pipelines are proliferating. And we're still playing whack-a-mole with Moktada al-Sadr: his Mahdi Army has left Najaf, but remains in control of Sadr City, with its two million people. The Christian Science Monitor reports that "interviews in Baghdad suggest that Sadr is walking away from the standoff with a widening base and supporters who are more militant than before."

For a long time, anyone suggesting analogies with Vietnam was ridiculed. But Iraq optimists have, by my count, already declared victory three times. First there was "Mission Accomplished" - followed by an escalating insurgency. Then there was the capture of Saddam - followed by April's bloody uprising. Finally there was the furtive transfer of formal sovereignty to Ayad Allawi, with implausible claims that this showed progress - a fantasy exploded by the guns of August.

Now, serious security analysts have begun to admit that the goal of a democratic, pro-American Iraq has receded out of reach. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies - no peacenik - writes that "there is little prospect for peace and stability in Iraq before late 2005, if then."

Mr. Cordesman still thinks (or thought a few weeks ago) that the odds of success in Iraq are "at least even," but by success he means the creation of a government that "is almost certain to be more inclusive of Ba'ath, hard-line religious, and divisive ethnic/sectarian movements than the West would like." And just in case, he urges the U.S. to prepare "a contingency plan for failure."

Fred Kaplan of Slate is even more pessimistic. "This is a terribly grim thing to say," he wrote recently, "but there might be no solution to the problem of Iraq" - no way to produce "a stable, secure, let alone democratic regime. And there's no way we can just pull out without plunging the country, the region, and possibly beyond into still deeper disaster." Deeper disaster? Yes: people who worried about Ramadi are now worrying about Pakistan.

So what's the answer? Here's one thought: much of U.S. policy in Iraq - delaying elections, trying to come up with a formula that blocks simple majority rule, trying to install first Mr. Chalabi, then Mr. Allawi, as strongman - can be seen as a persistent effort to avoid giving Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani his natural dominant role. But recent events in Najaf have demonstrated both the cleric's awesome influence and the limits of American power. Isn't it time to realize that we could do a lot worse than Mr. Sistani, and give him pretty much whatever he wants?

Here's another thought. President Bush says that the troubles in Iraq are the result of unanticipated "catastrophic success." But that catastrophe was predicted by many experts. Mr. Cordesman says their warnings were ignored because we have "the weakest and most ineffective National Security Council in post-war American history," giving control to "a small group of neoconservative ideologues" who "shaped a war without any realistic understanding or plans for shaping a peace."

Yesterday Mr. Bush, who took a "winning the war on terror" bus tour just a few months ago, conceded that "I don't think you can win" the war on terror. But he hasn't changed the national security adviser, nor has he dismissed even one of the ideologues who got us into this no-win situation. Rather than concede that he made mistakes, he's sticking with people who will, if they get the chance, lead us into two, three, many quagmires.

Comment: Will this news get out before the election? Will it make any difference to the millions of Americans who believe that Bush is "doing a good job"?

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French Cling to Hope That Reporters Are Alive

By Paul Carrel
Wed Sep 1, 3:37 AM ET

PARIS (Reuters) - French, Muslim and Arab leaders clung to hope on Wednesday that diplomatic efforts would save the lives of two reporters held hostage in Iraq amid uncertainty over their fate. [...]

"I think we can say the ultimatum has been delayed. That gives us some hope. It allows us to explore other channels," Lhaj Thami Breze, president of the Union of French Islamic Organizations, told Europe 1 radio.

The Arab League's ambassador in Paris, Nassif Hitti, said the League believed the deadline had not expired. "That gives us more hope that there can perhaps be a positive outcome to this tragedy," he told LCI television.

The killing of 12 Nepali hostages by a separate group of Iraqi militants highlighted the gravity of the situation. Pictures of those killings appeared on an Islamist Web site on Tuesday.


French officials remained cautious. The kidnappings stunned France, which opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and also objected to pre-war sanctions.

"Today, we have no information that allows us either to be inclined toward optimism or to fear the worst," Education Minister Francois Fillon told RMC radio.

A militant group called the Islamic Army in Iraq says it is holding reporters Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot.

It has demanded France revoke a law banning conspicuous religious symbols in state schools such as the Muslim headscarf. The school year starts on Thursday.

President Jacques Chirac has rejected the demands for the law to be revoked, and Barnier has drummed up a chorus of Arab support for France's position.

Friends and relatives of the two men, who disappeared on Aug. 20 on their way from Baghdad to Najaf, remain worried.

"I can't even watch the television," Malbrunot's mother, Andree, told Le Parisien newspaper. "I knew he shouldn't have gone this time."

Chesnot is a reporter for Radio France Internationale and Malbrunot writes for the dailies Le Figaro and Ouest France.

The Islamic militant group Hamas joined organizations including French Muslims opposed to the headscarf ban, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and aides to anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in urging freedom for the journalists. Huge photos of Chesnot and Malbrunot were projected on the front of Paris town hall on Tuesday, and supporters held demonstrations of solidarity across the country.

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Comment: Note that the other hostages killed were held by a "separate group of Iraqi militants". How many separate groups are there? Could there be groups of "Iraqi Militants" that aren't really Iraqi militants? Could they be an Israeli False Flag operation?

After all, France is about the best friend Iraq has had throughout this whole mess. Why would they want to turn millions of French citizens against them? Why would they want the French to agree with Israel that those darn Arabs just can't be trusted?

Hmmm.... We guess Israel would really benefit from the deaths of the French Journalists, now wouldn't it?

Look at this operation in the light of the next article:

Fresh atrocity in France. Jew burns jewish property, French Right is accused.

Jew may have torched Paris soup kitchen

By Amiram Barkat and Daniel Ben Simon
Tue., August 31, 2004 Elul 14, 5764

A 50-year-old Jewish man appears to have been behind the torching of the Jewish community center in Paris some 10 days ago, French police have confirmed. The man, whose first name, Raphael, was released for publication, was arrested yesterday.

According to French police sources, Raphael was a regular visitor to the community center's soup kitchen, and is believed to have set fire to the building in the wake of a dispute with the people who run it.

The man has not confessed to the arson, but the police investigation has turned up considerable evidence tying him to the incident.

Jewish community leaders in France reacted with anger and embarrassment following the latest revelations about the fire.

If the police suspicions prove true, the affair will mark the second time in two months that an incident labeled as anti-Semitic and covered widely in the media has turned out to be motivated by other factors entirely. The first incident involved a non-Jewish Parisian woman who claimed to have been assaulted by six North African immigrants on a train, but later confessed to have fabricated the story.

French government sources and Jewish organizations have yet to comment officially on the affair, and are waiting for a public announcement from the police.

Since the story broke, however, France's Jews have been beside themselves with shame, with some calling Jewish radio stations yesterday to express their frustration. Others have spoken of profound embarrassment in light of the latest development in the fight against anti-Semitism.

One radio listener said that in the past he had been afraid of Muslims, but had now decided to be wary of Jews. Another shouted that he was ashamed to show his face in the building in which he lived, noting that after the fire at the community center, his neighbors had visited him to express their disgust at the incident.

Little by little, the sense of being the victims that had enveloped the Jews of France is being replaced by the sense that the series of deceptions is threatening to blur the severity of the problem. In particular, the French Jews are concerned that from now, any incident against the Jews will be immediately accompanied by suspicion.

Till now, radical Muslim elements have been automatically suspected of any allegedly anti-Semitic incident. Now, the suspicions will be directed against those who have been deemed the principal victims of anti-Semitism, and the public and official outcry against any attack on Jews is expected to weaken.

Every time a report of an anti-Semitic incident broke, French leaders made a concerted effort to bolster the Jewish community and express their support for its members. Time and again, French President Jacques Chirac found himself harnessing the republic's institutions and public opinion so as to convey a sense of security to the Jewish community, and almost every location at which anti-Semitic incidents occured was visited by French leaders as a sign of solidarity with the country's Jewish community.

And as if the sense of guilt that the French felt in the wake of attacks on Jews wasn't enough, Israel added fuel to the fire. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his cabinet colleagues never failed to miss an opportunity to paint France as the most dangerous place on earth for Jews. Sharon even went so far as to urge French Jews to immigrate to Israel before falling victim to France's large Muslim sector.

Now that it appears that a mentally unstable Jewish man was behind the arson attack, the Jewish community is likely to see the sympathy of the French public dwindle.

"Don't forget that we are dealing with a community that lives under tension, concern and fear all the time," Henri Cohen Solal, a Jewish psychoanalyst from Paris, told Haaretz yesterday. "To this you must add the fact that in most instances, the Jews encounter quiet anti-Semitism - invisible and not transparent... This marginal situation is very problematic, and it sometimes causes members of the community to take extreme action so as to cry wolf. But it must be clear that the wolf exists, even if it isn't always seen."

Comment: Geez. Just at a moment when the "truth" about a certain number of "anti-Semitic" attacks in France, that it is Jews themselves who carry them out, just at the moment when people are beginning to view French Moslems in a different light, we have the kidnapping of the French journalists by "Islamic fundamentalists".

Coincidence? We think not.

Recent politics involving Israel are studded with events like this. Remember a few weeks ago when the International Court condemned the apartheid wall? This decision was a victory for the Palestinians. And what happened? With 24 hours there was a "suicide bomb" in Tel Aviv that changed the celebratory atmosphere. The attack was condemned by Arafat, who also let his audience know that he thought it might be an Israeli "false flag" operation. So these kinds of actions are standard operating procedure for the Zionists, and they have been since before the Second World War.

We are not the only ones who believe that Zionism is detrimental for the Jews. The group Jews Against Zionism have been very active in the campaign against Zionism. This recent article discusses the AIPAC, the organisation currently under investigation by the FBI for receiving secrets from Larry Franklin, a member of Douglas Feith's staff at the Pentagon.

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Pro-Zionist Lobby Groups Endanger Jews

With the recent news reports of the possible connection between the "Israeli Mole" at the pentagon and his connection to AIPAC, True Torah Jews feels compelled to state its position on pro-Zionist lobby groups.

Using the guise of representing the interests of American Jews, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and its French counterpart, a vocal pro-Israel group called the Union of French Jewish Employers and Professionals, known by its French acronym, UPJF, are in fact representing the interests of the Zionist state. In doing so, they are furthering the potential negative consequences if American Jewish groups are perceived as seeking to influence French politics and perceived as possibly jeopardizing American security.

We are concerned that the involvement of UPJF in French politics at a time when anti-American and anti-Israel feelings are in vogue would eventually harm French Jews and that the questionable activities of AIPAC in the United States involving possible American security violations will be perceived as operating with the support of all American Jews.

True Torah Jews is asking AIPAC and UPJF to suspend their operations and to acknowledge that rather than lobbying on behalf of American Jewry, they are in fact representing the Zionist state of "Israel".

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True Torah Jews monitor news events to assess the threat of Zionism to the worldwide Jewish community.

Using a system similar to the US Terrorism alert, we will keep you posted of our assessment of the Zionism threat level based on current events.

Naturally, some areas of the world, such as the so-called "state of Israel" are in greater danger than most, but our assessment is for the entire world Jewish community.

Far from being the saviors of the Jewish People, the Zionists are the true self-hating Jews who have had nothing but contempt and outright hatred for the Jewish People and Judaism. Anti-Semitism has been the oxygen and lifeblood of the Zionists throughout the ages to the present day.

By contrast, we anti-Zionist Jews having been doing all we can to reduce hatred of Jews by proclaiming the true nature of the Jewish religion in contrast to the heresy and idolatry of Zionism. We hope this will help Jews awaken from the brainwashing of the Zionists.

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Israel Destroys Bomber Home After Twin Attacks

By Megan Goldin
Wed Sep 1, 1:21 AM ET

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli army on Wednesday destroyed the West Bank home of one of two Palestinian suicide bombers a day after 16 people were killed in back-to-back bus bombings by the militant Hamas group, the military said.

The action came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the army to hunt down Palestinian militants.

Sharon said the bombings -- the first in five months -- would not deter him from evacuating the Gaza Strip next year, but pledged a steadfast battle against militants who have stepped up attacks ahead of a pullout.

"We will fight this terror with all our might," Sharon told reporters after the attacks in the southern city of Beersheba.

Security sources declined to reveal details of the decisions taken in the late- night security meeting other than to say there would be heightened efforts to kill or arrest militants.

The last time Sharon held such consultations after a suicide bombing in March that killed 10 people at the Ashdod port, the army assassinated Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, two top leaders from Hamas behind the attack.

Hamas, a militant Islamic group sworn to destroy Israel, said the bombings were in revenge for Yassin and Rantissi.

The attacks -- the first in Israel since March and the deadliest since last October -- showed Hamas was not a spent force even after repeated Israeli assassinations of their leaders and the building of a West Bank barrier.

"Revenge is so sweet," said one Hamas activist at a rally in Gaza.

Cheering in the streets of the Gaza Strip after the bombings, thousands of Hamas supporters threw sweets into the air and sang songs after the attack which killed 16 people and wounded 86, many shoppers returning from an open-air market.


On Wednesday morning, soldiers blew up the first floor of a two-storey home where one of the bombers lived in the West Bank city of Hebron, witnesses said.

The family of the second bomber was told to move out their belongings, apparently in preparation for it to be destroyed as well, they added.

The Israeli army confirmed the home had been destroyed. A spokeswoman said the routine response to suicide bombings was a message "that anyone who is party to terrorism will pay a price."

In Tuesday's attack, the bombers boarded buses at the same stop near Beersheba's central bus station and detonated bombs hidden under their clothes within minutes of each other along the same road.

"The bus simply blew up. It just blew up in front of my eyes," said motorist Joey Harel. The blasts gutted the buses and scattered bloodied remains across the street.

Also in response to the bombings, Sharon has called for work to begin in the area bordering on southern Israel on the massive barrier it is building on West Bank land.

Israel says the barrier has prevented scores of attacks. Palestinians denounce it as a grab of the land they seek for statehood. The World Court has ruled the barrier is illegal.

Sharon dismissed calls by rebels in his right-wing camp to abandon his plan for evacuating occupied Gaza and bits of the West Bank to "disengage" from conflict with Palestinians.

"This attack has nothing to do with disengagement but only the murderous nature of Palestinian terrorists," he said.

Before Tuesday's attacks, Sharon had set out a timetable for steps toward pulling 8,000 Jewish settlers out of Gaza. "Disengagement will be carried out. Period," Sharon said.

Comment: Boy, doesn't this just frost the cake? Israel creates Hamas as a false flag operation, creates "suicide bombers" and sends them out to terrify Jews and distract attention away from the terrorist activities of Sharon and gang, and THEN they go and destroy the homes of the alleged "suicide bombers."

Note that said "suicide bomber" just happened to shoot the Palestinians in the foot "ahead of an Israeli pull-out."

What a racket.

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The Suicide Bombing Cycle

There seems to be a familiar story - see if you can recognise the pattern of:

(1) peace talks/Israeli instability/international pressure on Israel

(2) a suicide bombing

(3) some sort of Israeli action

(4) abandoning of the "peace process" at step (1)

It seems that as soon as some talk of peace or withdrawing West Bank settlers is mentioned, some sort of hostilities take place in this troubled zone.

The following list was mainly compiled using the Guardians excellent Middle East time line available here. It makes for some of the most depressing reading on the web.


January 3 2003
It emerges that Ariel Sharon's Likud party has suffered a sharp drop in support during a corruption and organised crime scandal that has touched senior politicians, including Mr Sharon's son

January 5 2003
A dual suicide bombing in the heart of Tel Aviv kills 25 people, including the two bombers. Many of the victims were migrant workers from Africa, eastern Europe and the Philippines. The slaughter ends a six week lull in attacks on Israel and comes just three weeks before a general election.

January 6 2003
Palestinian officials are barred by Israel from attending a meeting in London to discuss progress towards an independent state. The travel ban was imposed by the Israeli cabinet in direct response to the previous day's suicide bombings.


March 19 2003
Mahmoud Abbas officially accepts Yasser Arafat's offer of the post of Palestinian prime minister. He is expected to be sworn in after he selects a new cabinet, when the US will publish its long-awaited peace plan.

March 30 2003
A suicide bomber blows himself up in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya, injuring 58 people. The attack, marking Palestinian 'Land Day', is the first suicide bombing in Israel since the start of the war in Iraq.

April 2 2003
Israeli forces launch two days of raids on occupied Palestinian territories, killing six Palestinians, including a 14-year-old, and detaining more than 1,000 boys and men.

APRIL 2003

April 23 2003
Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian prime minister-delegate, Mahmoud Abbas, finally agree on the composition of the new Palestinian cabinet after frantic last-minute negotiations. In response to the move, the US indicates that it will publish its long-awaited road map for peace some time next week. Meanwhile, a Palestinian suicide bomber blows himself up at a crowded railway station in central Israel, killing a security guard who tried to prevent him from entering the building.

April 30 2003
The US releases its long-awaited road map for peace to Israeli and Palestinian leaders hours after the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, known as Abu Mazen, and his cabinet are sworn in. But, on the same day that Mr Abbas pledges to take the first step on the road map by cracking down on Palestinian terrorists, a suicide bombing at a bar in Tel Aviv kills three Israelis. Hamas and al-Aqsa claim joint responsibility, but Israeli police say that the suicide bomber and his accomplice, who escaped unharmed, were British.

MAY 2003

May 10 2003
US secretary of state Colin Powell arrives in Israel for talks with Ariel Sharon and Abu Mazen on the US-backed road map to peace.

May 17 2003
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, meets his Palestinian counterpart, Abu Mazen, in Jerusalem, for three hours of talks. A suicide bomber kills an Israeli man and his pregnant wife in Hebron.

May 18 2003
A suicide bomber disguised as an Orthodox Jew blows up an Israeli bus in Jerusalem, killing seven passengers.
Sharon calls off his US visit.

May 19 2003
A suicide bomber kills two people in a shopping centre in Afula, Israel.

JUNE 2003

June 4 2003
The summit meeting between Ariel Sharon, Abu Mazen and the US president, George Bush, convenes in Aqaba, Jordan. Sharon pledges to support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Abu Mazen says: "The armed intifada must end." Fearing the road map will spell the end of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, thousands of Israeli settlers protest in Jerusalem.

June 10 2003
Israel draws stinging criticism from Washington, accusations of terrorism from its Palestinian partner in the peace process and a vow by Hamas to respond in kind after an army helicopter tried to assassinate the Hamas political leader in Gaza.

June 11 2003
A teenage suicide bomber dressed as an Orthodox Jew kills 16 people on a rush-hour bus in the heart of Jerusalem, fulfilling a vow by the militant Islamist movement Hamas to avenge a botched Israeli attempt to assassinate itspolitical leader a day earlier.

June 13 2003
Israeli helicopter gunships fire three missiles at a car, killing one person and wounding 22, including seven children.
Israeli gunships fire on car in Gaza


August 18 2003
A deal for Israel to pull troops out of four West Bank cities is expected to be finalised in a move to bolster a six-week-old ceasefire threatened by renewed violence.

August 19 2003
A Palestinian suicide bomber blows apart a bus in the heart of Jerusalem, killing at least 20 people, including children, wounding more than 100 and inflicting the most serious blow yet to the six-week-old ceasefire.

August 21 2003
Palestinian militant groups call off their ceasefire after Israel launches a helicopter strike in Gaza. Three people, including Ismail Abu Shanab, a political leader of Hamas, are killed.

September 1 2003
Israeli helicopters kill a Hamas activist, wound a second and injure 25 bystanders in a missile attack on Gaza City.
Missile kills Hamas activist

Early JANUARY 2004

January 13 2004
The Israeli government announces that it expects to begin withdrawing from parts of the occupied territories and redefining their borders to create an emasculated Palestinian state if there is no progress towards a negotiated peace settlement

January 14 2004
A 22-year-old Palestinian mother of two small children, pretending to be disabled, kills four Israelis at a Gaza border crossing after duping soldiers into allowing her a personal security check rather than going through a metal detector.
Human-bomb mother kills four Israelis at Gaza checkpoint

January 20 2004
The Israeli air force bombs Hizbullah targets in southern Lebanon in retaliation for the killing of a soldier in a missile attack on Israel's northern border.
Israel hits back after army death

Late JANUARY 2004

January 21 2004
Opposition politicians in Israel demand the resignation of the country's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, after a businessman is indicted in a Tel Aviv court for allegedly bribing him. The call comes as justice ministry officials say prosecutors are considering whether to charge Mr Sharon along with his son, Gilad, and his deputy, Ehud Olmert.

January 23 2004
An 11-year-old Palestinian boy is killed and two other youths wounded by Israeli soldiers in a highly sensitive area close to the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

January 28 2004
At least 13 Palestinians are killed, according to Israel's army radio, in the deadliest clashes in the Gaza Strip for over a month. Palestinian medics say they have unconfirmed reports of bodies as yet unrecovered from the streets of a militant stronghold near Gaza City.

January 29 2004
At least ten people are killed and another 50 wounded in a suicide attack on a bus outside Ariel Sharon's official residence in Jerusalem. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claims responsibility, but the attack fails to derail a prisoner swap in which Israel begins freeing 436 of the 7,000 Palestinian detainees it holds in exchange for an abducted Israeli businessman and the bodies of three dead soldiers.


February 18 2004
The International Committee of the Red Cross calls on Israel to halt construction of the steel and concrete "security fence" through the West Bank because it breaches international law and is causing widespread harm to Palestinians.

February 22 2004
Suicide bomber murders eight people on a rush hour bus in Jerusalem.

February 23 2004
Israeli troops fire tear gas at Palestinians protesting at the barrier being constructed in the West Bank as a court case on its legality opens in The Hague.

February 26 2004
Demonstrations over West Bank wall claim first victims as seizures belie Sharon's pledge to abandon settlements.
Israelis kill two villagers in barrier protests

February 27 2004
Israel is seizing Palestinian land in Gaza to expand one of the most controversial Jewish settlements three weeks after Ariel Sharon said he intended to remove all settlers from the territory.

MARCH 2004

March 2 2004
The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is backing a total withdrawal of Israeli settlers and soldiers from the Palestinian Gaza Strip, according to a well-placed Israeli source.

March 14 2004
Ten people are killed when two Palestinians from Gaza blow themselves up in the Israeli port of Ashdod, prompting the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to cancel his first summit meeting with his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia.

March 16 2004
The Israeli military accuses a faction of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement of using an 11-year-old boy as an unwitting human bomb after the child is discovered carrying explosive through an army checkpoint in Nablus.

March 16 2004
Israeli forces launch a new offensive in the Gaza Strip, killing at least six Palestinians and wounding 27 in a series of air strikes. Palestinian security officials say troops had raided a Rafah refugee camp and had demolished seven houses.

JULY 2004

July 9 2004
Palestinians wait for a verdict on the legality of the West Bank barrier from the international court of justice in The Hague.
Palestinians await verdict on barrier

July 10 2004
The world court brands Israel's vast barrier through the West Bank a de facto land grab and tells Israel to tear it down and compensate the victims.

July 11 2004
Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, says the world court's ruling against his country's vast barrier through the West Bank encouraged terrorists, shortly after a bomb at a Tel Aviv bus stop killed a young woman.


18th August 2004
Mr Sharon needs one vote to bolster his coalition after right-wing parties withdrew support over the proposal to evacuate all 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank.

30th August 2004
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told senior cabinet ministers on Monday that he wants to evacuate all Gaza settlements at one time instead of in three stages, officials said, reflecting a major shift in position.

31st August 2004
Palestinian suicide bombers killed at least 15 people in simultaneous attacks on two Israeli buses yesterday, ending a six-month lull in such violence and potentially disrupting an Israeli plan to pull out of Gaza.

1st September 2004
Israel plans to resume its campaign to assassinate Hamas leaders in response to back-to-back suicide bombings by a Palestinian militant group that killed 16 people, security sources say.

The drive to hit Hamas's upper echelon had been put on hold in recent weeks while the army targeted militants carrying out rocket attacks in southern Israel, the sources said.

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Americans are heading for bloody September'

August 30, 2004

Maulvi Muhammad Ishaq Manzoor, a rebel Afghan leader, claims a "scandal bigger than the Abu Ghraib" jail scandal in Iraq will be exposed soon.

Ishaq is the self-styled 'supreme military commander' of the Jamiat Jaishal Muslemeen, a newly formed outfit operating mainly in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

Accusing American troops of killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan, he alleged that two lady teachers and five girl students at the Mariam school in Kabul were kidnapped, raped and killed by American troops recently.

Parents of the teachers and girls are trying to escape from Afghanistan and will contact the international media to expose the scandal, he told this correspondent in the mountains close to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"We will take revenge for our seven sisters raped in Kabul," Ishaq said, brandishing his AK-47. "The Americans are heading for a bloody September and then a deadliest October."

The Muslemeen, which includes the Taliban and four other militant outfits, also threatened to disrupt the October 9 Afghan presidential election. [...]

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Marshals in question

By Leslie Miller | Associated Press
Published on Tuesday, August 31, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The government hired air marshals accused of domestic violence, drunken driving and sexual harassment, and doesn't hold them to a high enough standard of conduct, the Homeland Security Department's inspector general says.

"Many federal air marshals were granted access to classified information after displaying questionable judgment, irresponsibility and emotionally unstable behavior," Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin said in a report released Monday.

Asa Hutchinson, the department's undersecretary, disagreed with the report's conclusions.

In a written response, Hutchinson said an independent arbitrator reviewed background checks on 161 air marshals who were hired despite having minor offenses in their records. The arbitrator concluded that all but two cases had been handled properly, he said.

Hutchinson also said new standards and guidelines have been set for determining whether applicants are suitable to be air marshals, whose job is primarily guarding planes while they are in flight.

Thousands of air marshals were rushed into service after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The exact number is classified and the marshals travel undercover, but pilots say they guard only a small percentage of daily flights.

Disciplinary problems with the air marshals arose in 2003. Managers within the Federal Air Marshal Service subsequently found that some had financial, employment and criminal problems in the past, the report said.

Of 161 cases, 62 had been accused of domestic violence or assault, drunk driving or sexual harassment.

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US wants to build network of friendly militias to combat terrorism

Wed Aug 11, 5:10 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Pentagon has urged Congress to authorize 500 million dollars for building a network of friendly militias around the world to purge terrorists from "ungoverned areas" -- and warned Muslim clerics against providing "ideological sanctuary" to radicals.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war, told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday the money would be used "for training and equipping local security forces -- not just armies -- to counter terrorism and insurgencies."

If approved as part of a larger defense bill, the package will "provide greater internal security in areas that are or could become sanctuaries for terrorists," he said.[...]

In addition, he called for tightening control over international communication networks, including the Internet.

He argued that extremist clerics provide cover to militants "by sanctioning terrorism, by recruiting new adherents, and by intimidating moderate clerics from speaking out against them." [...]

"There should be no room in this world for governments that support terrorism, no ungoverned areas where terrorist can operate with impunity, no easy opportunities for terrorists to abuse the freedom of democratic societies, no ideological sanctuary, and no free pass to exploit the technologies of communications to serve terrorist ends," Wolfowitz insisted.

He did not say what additional measures could be taken to prevent terrorists from exploiting freedoms in the United States, but pointed out it would involve "difficult decisions."

The USA Patriot Act passed by Congress in the wake of the September 11 attacks grants the FBI and other law enforcement agencies additional surveillance and investigative powers. But it has been under attack from civil libertarians, who call it an assault on the US constitution.

Comment: The Internet really bothers the billionaires and their lackeys in power. No longer is freedom of the press limited to those who own them. With the Internet, everyone can put out the news. Connections can be made from the ground up around the world. News that never makes the major media can circulate freely. Dangerous indeed for the controllers. So it was only a matter of time before the moves started against the net. This is the opening volley of the next stage. The neo-con artists are making their intent known.

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Armageddon Network Characters

Michael Saba
Arab News

WASHINGTON, 31 January 2004 — "What is good for Israel is good for the United States." This is a unique perspective held by a group of very powerful US government officials, advisers and influential media pundits. This phrase was featured in the introduction to a book which was published 20 years ago titled "The Armageddon Network." This book featured an incident that happened over 25 years ago which started a quest for truth and justice in America's relationship with Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

This book highlights the early careers of Stephen Bryan and Richard Perle, one of the most powerful neoconservatives in the US today and focuses on Perle and his network of friends and associates who often promote an "Israel-first" policy in the United States of America.

Let me quote from the introduction. "Perle and Bryen are leading hawks in a very hawkish administration." They push more guns, bombs and missiles as the mainstay of their hard-line policies. The problem is that this promises to exacerbate tensions in an already unstable Middle East. The region seems more like a time bomb waiting to explode. Promoting US military "strategic cooperation" with Israel rather than negotiation reminds me of Carl Sagan's story about "walking into a room full of gasoline and lighting a match.'"

By now most of us have become familiar with the terms "neoconservative" and "chicken hawk." These are words often used to refer to those in power throughout the US government and the American media whose foremost advocacy is for the good of Israel. Some say this group not only advocates for Israel as such but for the Likud Party of Israel and beyond that, many of the neoconservatives feel that Ariel Sharon is too much of a dove.

While researching for "The Armageddon Network" a quarter of a century ago, the same names and organizations appeared over and over again. Not only did we see the names of Richard Perle, Stephen Bryen, Elliot Abrams, Ken Adelman and Michael Ledeen (and their wives) but we also noted organizations such as the Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).

The Coalition for a Democratic Majority was founded in 1973 by a group of hawkish Democrats led by Sen. Henry Jackson of the state of Washington. One of the early advocates of CDM was Norman Podhoretz. Podhoretz had been a leader of liberal political views. In the early1970 s however, he had become disenchanted with the orthodox liberals who favored cuts in military spending and pointed out the relationship between a strong United States military machine and the future of Israel.

Podhoretz enlisted Sen. Henry Jackson and his key staff member, Richard Perle. Perle and Stephen Bryen were close friends and associates on Capitol Hill. "The Armageddon Network" concentrated on Bryen who, while he was a Senate staffer, was investigated for espionage with Israel. Bryen and Perle had an additional network of Congressional friends who were both hawkish and very pro-Israel. They were ideal neoconservatives. Remember we are talking here about individuals and incidents of over 25 years ago. Yet these same individuals and organizations are very powerful players in today's American political and international scene.

After Bryen left his Senate job in1978 , he was eventually named the executive director and newsletter editor of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. JINSA began as a study group in 1976 and became fully operational in December 1979 when Bryen was put in charge. JINSA's specialty was developing the relationship between America and Israel security needs. JINSA advocated America strengthening its military capability and tying this capability to that of Israel. They emphasized that America and Israel needed to work together for common interests, particularly in the Middle East. In other words, "What was good for Israel was good for the United States."

In 1984 "The Armageddon Network" stated, "While JINSA's articles covered many subjects, one central idea emerged from it's editorials: The need for a US military presence in the Middle East." Bryen stayed with JINSA for some time and eventually returned to US government service as an official in the Reagan Defense Department. He was appointed to that position by none other than Richard Perle who after leaving Jackson's Senate staff formed a defense— oriented consulting firm called the Abington Corporation with John Lehman who later became the secretary of the navy in the Reagan administration. Perle became an assistant secretary of defense and hired Bryen to be a defense technology transfer specialist. Lehman is currently serving as a member of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 incidents. Perle presently serves on the Defense Policy Board and Bryen is an appointee to the US-China Commission. Lehman, Perle and Bryen all allegedly are required to have US government top secret security clearances to serve on those boards.

The Coalition for a Democratic Majority was a breeding ground for many of today's powerful neoconservatives. And JINSA continues until today to be a powerful influence on America's international policies.

JINSA is a $1. 4million yearly organization with a very influential board of advisers. Those advisers include Vice President Richard Cheney; Douglas Feith, third ranking official in the Defense Department and a former business associate of Richard Perle; and John Bolton, a high ranking official in the State Department. Present members of the JINSA board of advisers include Richard Perle; Michael Ledeen, the liaison with the Israelis in Oliver North's Iran-Contra scheme; James Woolsey, the CIA director in Bill Clinton's administration and Jeane Kirkpatrick, the US ambassador to the UN under Ronald Reagan. Also on their board is their former executive director, Stephen Bryen. Bryen's wife, Shoshana Bryen, serves as JINSA's special projects director.

Retired US Gen. Jay Garner who acted as the American military coordinator in Iraq cosigned an October 2000 JINSA letter blaming the Palestinian Authority for ongoing violence in Israel and praising the Israel Armed Forces for having exercised "remarkable restraint" in the face of "lethal violence" from the Palestinian Authority. Garner allegedly maintains a close relationship with JINSA.

For many years "The Armageddon Network" has remained on the shelf but now many of its characters come back to haunt us. And they have added to their cast of characters other powerful individuals such as Paul Wolfowitz, second in command at the US Department of Defense and Frank Gaffney and his organization, the Center for Security Policy. We shall continue to trace these connections and the effects that they have on the Middle East equation today in future articles.

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Americans need to connect the dots

By John Janney
Jordan Times, August31 ,2004

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appointed the members of the independent panel to investigate the causes for the infamous prisoner abuse scandals and provide advice for what actions the department of Defence can take to help prevent such incidents in the future. Rumsfeld can start by firing Lt. Gen. William Boykin. Boykin was the subject of another recently released report which faulted the evangelical general for failing to preface his church speeches with a disclaimer stating that his views, spoken while in uniform and after being introduced by his rank and position, were not necessarily those of the Department of Defence. The Boykin report also faulted the crusading commander for failing to clear the content of his church speeches, which was the central concern of this scandal.

However, the authors of the Boykin report disavowed themselves from the responsibility of judging the inappropriateness of his bigoted tirades in front of thousands of impressionable churchgoers, leaving such judgments at the feet of his superiors. When asked about content preached from Boykin's pulpits, Rumsfeld, the superior, simply shot back: "We're a free people."

Like the Sept. 11 Commission and Boykin reports, the prisoner abuse report fails to scratch the surface under which the core causes reside. The American government establishes investigative bodies for the purposes of pointing the public away from the roots of scandals, thus maintaining the appearance of blamelessness.

Public outrage over the Enron, Halliburton, Sept. 11 intelligence, Iraqi WMD mis-intelligence, USA Patriot Act, civil liberties violations, massive racial and religious profiling and detentions, Guantanamo human rights violations, military tribunals, enemy combatant declarations, Boykin church speeches, and Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandals somehow failed to prompt these pseudo-investigators to connect the dots between these scandals. Such connections made public would be a blow to the basic beliefs of our society and would cause us to question the motivations of our government.

The Boykin affair is a perfect example.

The authors of the Boykin report steered clear of the fact that the general travelled the country telling churches that George W. Bush was appointed by God to defend America, that he was raising a spiritual army of Christians to destroy the Muslim terrorists whose commander is Satan, that Muslims hate America because it is a Christian nation and so many other comments that crossed well understood lines of acceptable speech while wearing a military uniform. Instead, they focused their energies towards determining if Boykin committed administrative violations in the pursuit of defaming Islam and Muslims before 23 congregations.

Another recently released report from the California Senate Office of Research, detailing hate crime issues facing the state, provides alarming statistics. During the time Boykin was running amuck with his Muslim-bashing sermons, hate crimes against Muslims in California alone increased by2 ,333. 3per cent. This number does not include six murders of Muslims in California. Of course, we are to rest comfortably in the mis-realisation that Boykin-like behaviour and rising hate crime statistics are not related.

Boykin is in charge of military intelligence, under whose command the Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo concentration camp scandals arose. Perhaps he is escaping liability due to the fact, as we learn from the misdirecting Boykin report, that President Bush personally nominated Boykin to receive his third star. A fact not lost on the observant, especially considering the evangelical ideology both share and how these views are used to paint America as the Christian good and all others as the Muslim evil.

Boykin was in charge of the "training, educating and developing doctrine" for the army. This explains why it was easy for soldiers under his command to commit such atrocities. After all, it is really not abuse if the enemy is reduced to a subhuman classification, such as "evil". Under this ideology, supported by Rumsfeld and Bush, soldiers are not committing human rights violations. Evil is not human, and therein lies the crux of the problem when placing conflicts in religious terms and determining the enemy as the antithesis of our self-declared goodness.

Perhaps there should be a citizen-run commission established to investigate the connection of all these issues, their impact on the world and ways to release the people from the tyranny of fear and hatred being thrust upon us.

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Bush's absolutism reeks of hypocrisy

August 24, 2004

The page-turner of my summer vacation was the soap-opera saga of New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey. Nothing is finer than fortuitously vacationing in a state where politics are roiled by the tale of an ambitious politician brought down by a lethal combination of personal conduct (McGreevey announced he was resigning because he was adulterous and gay) and political scandal (he'd put his presumed lover in a state job).

For days, the McGreevey diversion kept my attention from my intended beach reading, Azar Nafisi's best-selling memoir, "Reading Lolita in Tehran." Yet once I returned to Nafisi's account of her turmoil under the fundamentalist regime in Iran, a disturbing thought came to mind.

For all the political what-ifs raised by the story of the McGreevey implosion, Nafisi's memoir of life amid the strictures of absolutism has more relevance to our current politics.

No one has yet banned books (not nationally, anyway) or expelled professors from leading universities. But "no-fly" lists accidentally catch even famous senators and members of Congress in a net meant for terrorists. The FBI knocks on protesters' doors to interview presumed troublemakers before there's a hint of trouble. Despite a Supreme Court ruling against the practice, American citizens continue to be held without charge as "enemy combatants."

Is there any doubt that we are asked this November to choose between the politics of absolutism - a doctrine of black and white - and a politics of relativism that views the weighing of options and assessing of nuance as strength, not weakness?

Comment: Well, professors may not have been expelled, but professors from overseas have been denied Visas, as witness the case of Tariq Ramadan who was invited to lecture at Notre Dame. Trouble with commentators such as this, they don't realise that the line was crossed a long time ago!

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Streets of Rage

How George Bush and his Republicans mobilized half a million people

by Tom Robbins & Jennifer Gonnerman
August 31st, 2004 12:00 PM

All week in the host city, his name was a curse on the lips of hundreds of thousands.

It was the first word of the opening act in a week of protests, chanted singsong by 80 marchers who had trooped 250 miles from the Democratic convention in Boston to New York, arriving Thursday night. "Yo-ho, yo-ho, Bush has got to go-oh!" they cried, as they strode down Broadway under a luminous three-quarter moon and the piercing searchlight of a police helicopter.

Five thousand free-spirited bike riders flung his name into the night on Friday, screaming "No more Bush!" at the midtown canyons as they madly tried to outpedal the cops. In Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, an encampment of poor people from Philadelphia, a delegation without credentials here to present its grievances, set up its tents in a vacant lot off Nostrand Avenue and dubbed it "Bushville."

In Williamsburg on Saturday, diners at Fabiane's Café on Bedford Avenue stood and applauded 50 weary souls, many of whom had walked from Long Island's East End chanting "Drop Bush, not bombs." That evening, at the still-gaping open wound that was the World Trade Center, hundreds of people rang bells, saying they wanted to heal the pain of 9-11 and drown out the echoes of his administration's bombs.

Sunday, in the largest protest march seen here in 20 years, thousands of placards and banners brandished his name, as half a million people angrily denounced him. His image was depicted goateed and swathed in head scarves, dubbed "The Real Terrorist." A half-dozen presidential imitators walked the streets, one dressed in a "Mission Accomplished" flight suit, another with silver duct tape wound around him, holding this sign: "Protect America with duct tape." His face leered out of a thousand posters reading, "He Lied. They Died."

Some were more personal. "Bush lied, my son died," said the sign carried by Al Zappala, 64, of Philadelphia, who this spring buried his adopted son, Sherwood, a National Guardsman killed in Iraq.

During the week, protesters hung the president's name off the Plaza Hotel, floated it with balloons into the starry ceiling of Grand Central Terminal, and draped it across Brooklyn rooftops so that sightseeing conventioneers couldn't escape the near-universal outrage he has engendered in this, the host city. As the first contingent of Sunday's marchers neared the convention site at heavily guarded Madison Square Garden, a burst of pink taffeta, shaped into a giant woman's slip, emerged from the roof of a 20-story building. "Bush lied, fire him," it read, as demonstrators cheered and waved.

Scores of cardboard coffins draped in American flags and carried shoulder-high by marchers were backed up in the throng along Seventh Avenue. A pair of Brooklyn men, film animator Michael de Seve and designer John Lake, had created the coffins after deciding that something needed to be done.

"This is the picture they tried to suppress," said de Seve, 41, whose work includes the Beavis and Butt-head film. "People haven't been able to see the cost of this war. Here is the invoice."

The arrival of George Bush and his Republicans in New York churned the city into a frenzy of events, some zany, some dangerous, some solemn. A few, like Sunday's long-contested march organized by the coalition group United for Peace and Justice, represented an unprecedented, massive display of Bush condemnation.

All week, people have invoked his name in anger and ridicule in documentaries, art shows, poetry readings, even die-ins, all part of the convulsion of creative dissent that his presidency has unintentionally unleashed.

As George W. Bush steps forward on the red, white, and blue stage at the Garden this week to accept his party's nomination, he will claim many accomplishments for his first term in office. There is one, however, he will never mention: that fear and hatred of his regime have managed to turn even ordinary Americans into full-fledged activists committed to his ouster, while at the same time regalvanizing a progressive movement in American politics that had sputtered along for years without clear direction.

You didn't have to go far to see how he has changed people. It was right there in the East Village, at Fourth Avenue and 12th Street, in the windows of Gary Orioli's florist shop. For 15 years, Orioli, from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the son of a construction worker with cousins on the police force, managed to run a successful business while reviling the prevailing political climate around him.

"When 9-11 happened and there were all these kids up there at Union Square singing 'Give Peace a Chance' and lighting candles, I was so furious at them. I said, 'Look at these punks, they don't even know what's going on.' I thought it was so anti-American, I wanted to get in my van and just drive over them. My first reaction after the attacks was just, 'Let's nuke whoever did this. Just blow them all up.' "

Today, every inch of Orioli's corner shop windows is taken up by news clippings of Bush misdeeds and anti-administration stickers. The table out front where he lays his fresh roses is decorated with ads for protest marches. A color photo of Bush under the headline "Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity" occupies the center of the table. Orioli's only hesitation about joining this week's protests was his twin seven-year-old daughters, who worried he would be arrested or injured.

"When I started to find out what was going on, I was just amazed," he told a visitor last week. "I mean, I watched Colin Powell testify on TV at the United Nations. I loved Colin Powell. I thought he was going to be our first black president. There he was, saying, 'Look at these pictures, here are the tractor trailers with the weapons. If we don't strike soon, they are going to be moved, and we won't be able to get them.' I assumed he was telling the truth. Then, when I found out there were no weapons, that all that stuff he was saying had been hyped up, I was so mad. How could they do that to us?"

The impact of George W. Bush on America was even more striking in the presence of Michael Hoffman, 25, from the faded steel town of Allentown, Pennsylvania, marching in Sunday's heat in one of his old Marine jackets with a contingent of the one-month-old group Iraq Veterans Against the War. Hoffman's story is fodder for the films of Michael Moore, who marched at the head of Sunday's procession. His father was one of the last workers at the now demolished Bethlehem Steel plant; his mother, a Teamster, is a janitor at a local school.

"I bounced around for about a year and a half after high school doing odd jobs," he explained at one of many press conferences he attended last week. "The last one was as an assistant manager at a toy store. I made about $15,000 a year, your basic poverty-level job. I had a good friend who was joining up, and he kind of talked me into it. I thought that the military represented a lot of good things, was a good opportunity. When I joined in February 1999, the war in the Balkans was a big deal. I thought we were doing the right thing there, and I wanted to be a part of that."

His four-year hitch in the Marines was up when news came that the Pentagon had imposed "stop-loss orders" preventing all discharges. Instead of mustering out, he and his artillery unit were dispatched to Kuwait. "We crossed over into Iraq and pushed north up to Baghdad. We were firing 155-millimeter howitzers." About a day south of the capital, he said, he drove past a town they had blasted. "It was just entirely in flames. The people were wandering around, like in a daze."

Discharged a year ago, he found himself talking with other vets haunted by what they'd seen, along with families who had lost loved ones in the conflict. "I'm just opposed to what we are doing there; this [protesting the war] is all I'm doing now."

The war has seemed like little more than the cruelest of tricks to Fernando Suárez del Solar, who carried a photo of his son, Jesús, handsome in his lance corporal's Marine uniform, along Sunday's parade route. Originally from Tijuana, Mexico, Suárez's family had moved to Escondido, California, in 1997. Military recruiters had persuaded Jesús, who aspired to be a firefighter, that if he signed up he would obtain both a green card and valuable experience. But there wasn't time.

On March 27, 2003, Suárez learned that his son had been killed in Iraq. It wasn't even hostile fire that took his son's life. He had stepped on an unexploded U.S. cluster bomb and died from his injuries. "I paid the highest price for free speech," he told a roomful of reporters at a pre-march press conference last week. "My son."

The president's invasion also turned around the life of 26-year-old Kelly Dougherty, of Colorado Springs, who spent a year in Iraq with the National Guard, part of the 220th Military Police Company. For Sunday's march she wore an Iraq Veterans Against the War T-shirt and brown camouflage shorts, with a black armband that read, "Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home Now." On Friday night, she had shyly addressed the audience at a fundraising event in a hot and crowded Soho loft. Patrolling the broiling streets around Nasiriya after its capture, she said, she had seen local citizens turn from friend to foe. "When we first got there, the people would smile when they saw us, but as time went on, they started averting their eyes and scowling," she said. "I felt like we treated them like trespassers in their own country."

As an MP, part of her job was to respond to accidents, and she had seen a grisly one in which a U.S. truck had inadvertently run down a seven-year-old boy who had been trying to cross a desert highway with his donkey. Under standing orders, the truck driver had kept right on going, reporting it later. "I couldn't blame the Iraqis for their hostility," she said.

Marching alongside Hoffman and Dougherty was Michael McPhearson, who spent 11 years in the Army, long enough to serve in the 1991 Gulf War, and to later have severe doubts about U.S. actions in Iraq. The son of a schoolteacher and a railroad worker, McPhearson, 40, grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, next door to Fort Bragg. He had a pair of uncles and a grandfather who were veterans of the world wars, and he joined the Army the first chance he got, at the age of 17.

He was in a mechanized infantry division that took part in the invasion of Iraq. His unit fired armor-piercing shells composed of depleted uranium. When he returned to Iraq last December as part of a peace delegation, he visited hospitals filled with children suffering from cancer. "They believe it is from those shells we fired," he said last week.

"That affected me very strongly. In Iraq, people asked me, 'If American citizens were treated the way we are being treated, would they stand for it?' I had to say, 'No, they wouldn't stand for it.' "

The war has become even more personal for McPhearson, since his own son, who is 19 and in the Navy, is expected to be deployed there soon. "I understand what soldiers there are going through," he said. "They are young, they don't speak the language, and people are shooting at you. And you're scared. But I met fathers of children who had been killed by our soldiers—not on purpose, they had just been in the line of fire. All I could do was apologize. And I said I would come back here and do whatever I could." [...]

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NY Police Arrest Over 900 in Anti-Bush Protests

By Grant McCool
Wed Sep 1, 1:24 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Police arrested more than 900 people late on Tuesday as anti-Bush activists blocked traffic, staged anti-war protests and harassed Republican delegates on the second day of a convention to nominate President Bush to a second term.

A day-long wave of civil disobedience raised tensions between police and protesters as activists opposed to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and other Bush administration policies attempted to seize the spotlight. [...]

Police said in a statement more than 900 had been arrested, bringing to over 1,400 the total number of arrests in demonstrations since last Thursday.

Two hundred people were placed in plastic handcuffs and led to police vans after the War Resisters League began an afternoon march from the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to a planned "die-in" near the Madison Square Garden convention site.

In the early evening, thousands converged around the streets in Herald Square in central Manhattan, many chanting anti-Bush statements as hundreds of police in riot gear formed long lines in front of them and put up metal barriers. [...]

Political activists and police had expected a day of confrontations. The A31 Action Coalition had vowed to stage a day of nonviolent civil disobedience to confront corporations and Republican delegates.

"The delegates were forced to listen to their critics despite the bubble the city and police put around them," said spokesman Eric Laursen.

New York's 37,000-strong police department is out in force on foot, horses, bicycles and in helicopters to monitor protests and to guard the city following government warnings of a possible terrorist attack during the election season.

At the scene of the World Trade Center protests, several demonstrators said they followed police instructions to walk two by two on the sidewalk and were surprised to be detained.

One protester, Jim MacDonald of the DC Anti-War Network, said in an interview by mobile phone that the group did not have a permit to march and police "surrounded us when we started to walk."

"Why are we being arrested? Why are you people doing this?" some protesters shouted at police.

One man was arrested by about 10 officers after he climbed a tree to obtain a better view of a rally by fellow immigration activists outside U.S. government offices, witnesses said.

Most of the demonstrations in the last six days have been peaceful, including an anti-war march on Sunday by several hundred thousand people past Madison Square Garden. It was one of the biggest rallies seen in New York in decades.

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Comment: Notice that the writer says the protesters "attempted to seize the spotlight" from the Republican Convention...

Then notice that just "thousands converged around the streets in Herald Square in central Manhattan," but that these mere thousands required "hundreds of police in riot gear" who "formed long lines in front of them and put up metal barriers."

Geez... just some "thousands"???

Just trying to "seize the spotlight"?

But then, finally, at the end they tell the truth, even if it is minimized: "an anti-war march on Sunday by several hundred thousand people past Madison Square Garden. It was one of the biggest rallies seen in New York in decades."

And yet at this Newsday link, none of the photos seem to show the magnitude of the protests...

This is the 49th photo on the Newsday site. The caption reads: "Aerial view of thousands of anti-war protesters marching by Madison Square Garden."

Compare this to the following photo, which we ran on the August 30, 2004 Signs Page:

Note that the crowd stretches off towards the horizon. This photograph is the only image we have seen that shows that the protests consisted of more than just a mere "few thousand" people.

Many of the images we have seen are similar to the following snapshot:

A protester from California is wearing a pig snout and snorting with other protestors outside the Marriott Hotel to protest against Cheney and Halliburton. We're not sure, but it seems that wearing rubber snouts and snorting like a pig is not the best way to make one's message understood by a large number of people.

Such instances are prime targets for photographers from the major media outlets. What better way to belittle the protestors and their messages than to splash ridiculous photographs like this one all over the papers and TV screen? All that remains is to downplay the size of the protests by some carefully crafted photographs to hide the true number of protestors, et voila!

The majority of the photographs at the aforementioned Newsday site seem to employ camera angles designed to make everything look "small and local." There were a couple good photos of phalanxes of police, though.

Police officers clear the sidewalk after a demonstration in front of the New York library, Tuesday , August 31, 2004.
(Newsday Photo/Robert Mecea)

Police set up a line at corner of 34 St and 7th Ave, protestors had to turn off 7th and head south on 34 East on 34 Street. The police were there to make sure that they did make that turn.
(NEWSDAY Robert Mecea)

Note the large police presence, including mounted police. That's a whole lotta police relative to the crowd visible in the photograph.

Policemen stand in front of a Starbucks coffee shop. Two people were arrested while demonstrating the chains policy against unionization.
(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

There were even about twenty officers guarding Starbucks.

New York Police watch demostrators on top of the marque at Madison Square Garden.
(Newsday Photo / Thomas A. Ferrara)

And finally, Big Brother was watching from above - complete with the entirely appropriate Fox News logo in the background. Why would there be so many police with so much equipment if there were not hundreds of thousands of people?

Reporter's Notebook: Crowds and Cops

By Sharon Kehnemui
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

NEW YORK — An oft-cited phrase has been floating around Madison Square Garden this week. It goes: "Of course, the Republicans have a sense of humor, they picked New York for the site of their convention."

But keeping a sense of humor has not been easy. With protesters clogging up the streets and cops insisting that reporters walk up a block to cross the road so they can walk back down the other side of the street to reach the Garden entrance, the city's shiny veneer has caused a bit more wincing than laughing in the early going of the Republican National Convention.

Like the other reporters based in Washington, D.C., when Peter Brownfeld arrived in New York by train on Sunday, he entered a Penn Station packed not only with travelers, but police officers. In fact, media were warned before arriving that they likely would encounter a cop inside Penn Station about every four to five feet. That would have been the case had the police not been bunched together in groups.

The police units appeared to be holding their precinct meetings right in the train station, with clusters of 50 cops being given handouts. Starbucks would have looked like the scene of a hurricane, if not a terrorist attack, had the police not been sitting back enjoying lattes while some SWAT team members' helmets and M-16s sat idly next to them.

Arriving on Sunday afternoon meant Peter was immediately thrust into Sunday's protests, which organizers boasted had hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who apparently congregated right in front of one of the two exits out of Penn Station. But Peter said he didn't mind watching the odd mix of soccer moms, veterans, punks, senior citizens, anarchists and lost convention-goers walk down the street, even when he ended up being forced to join the march (suitcase in tow) for several blocks before walking far enough to get around the blocked- off streets.

In fact, walking has nearly been as hard as driving around the convention site. Streets are closed off all around the Garden but that doesn't mean pedestrians can just amble down the middle of the road. They still must stay on the sidewalks so VIPs, police cars and motorcyclists, of which there have been many, can zip from one end of the security perimeter to the other. [...]

Almost as a point of pride, the delegates say they have not been bothered by protesters, but Republican organizers are advising attendees to put away their delegate badges so they won't become "a target," Peter reports. At the hotels, the delegates also face many more restrictions than the Democrats dealt with in Boston. When they enter their hotels, they are confronted by cops carrying automatic weapons and in some cases must go through magnetometers before being allowed to head to their rooms. [...]

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Police Brace For More GOP Protests

NEW YORK, Aug. 31, 2004

(AP) Police braced for a day of civil disobedience Tuesday after an ugly turn in relations between convention protesters and the thousands of officers assigned to police them.

A march from the United Nations to Madison Square Garden ended in violence Monday after a protester attacked a plainclothes detective on a scooter, knocking him unconscious. Hundreds of police in riot gear swarmed the area, pushing protesters away from the Garden and into nearby side streets.

Police prepared for further confrontation Tuesday after protesters promised to demonstrate wherever delegates and party heavyweights were celebrating and sightseeing.

Outside of the hotel where Texas Republicans stayed, about two dozen protesters calling themselves employees of "Hallibacon" grunted through plastic pig snouts on their faces and bathed themselves in stacks of fake $100 bills featuring a sneering portrait of Vice President Dick Cheney.

The protesters, who accused Cheney and the company he once led with profiting from the war in Iraq, chanted: "We love money. We love war. We love Cheney even more."

Comment: See photo above. This article provides a prime example of how those who rationally speak out against the lies and deception are debunked by associating their theories with a group of protestors acting in ridiculous and even childish ways. Forget any evidence that Cheney and Halliburton are actually guilty - the image of the crazy snorting pig protestors is now forever associated with those who accuse Cheney of being a crook. Bush and gang don't have to do anything to get away with their crimes - many of the protestors will do the job for the very individuals they are attempting to protest against. Even if it is a small number out of the hundreds of thousands present in New York, the media will ensure that the protestors with green hair or those turning the event into a circus get the most camera time.

In the months leading up to the convention, activists designated Tuesday an official day of civil disobedience, planning sit-ins, street theater and even vandalism aimed at the offices of corporations with links to the Bush family or the Republican Party.

Monday's confrontation capped an otherwise peaceful day of small demonstrations focusing on health care, civil rights, homelessness and other areas where protesters say President Bush and Republicans have failed the country.

The plainclothes detective who was attacked, William Sample, was in serious condition Tuesday with serious facial trauma, but his injuries were not life threatening, police said. His assailant was being sought. Four other officers suffered minor injuries during the scuffle.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called it "a blatant, vicious attack."

The protest began when a crowd of several thousand outside U.N. headquarters negotiated with police to march to Madison Square Garden despite not having a permit. Police proposed a route to a sanctioned protest area south of the Garden, and demonstration leaders accepted.

"They asked if they could march, and we said yes," police Assistant Deputy Commissioner Tom Doepfner said. "We try to be nice."

A wall of uniformed police on motor scooters blocked off half of Second Avenue as marchers trooped down city streets. Police steered the restless, unwieldy crowd through midtown Manhattan rush-hour traffic as cars backed up 10 blocks in places.

The march ended at the protest area south of the Garden. Witnesses said the confrontation began as police tried to use interlocking metal fences to contain the thousands of protesters.

Comment: If the crowds only consisted of several thousand people outside the UN headquarters, and the police had such a large force - complete with officers with binoculars stationed well above street level - how is it that no one saw who attacked William Sample? Either the crowds were much larger than suggested, or the attack on the detective was a setup.

In her article Aliens and Cosmic COINTELPRO, Laura Knight-Jadczyk writes:

Usually, when we think of COINTELPRO, we think of the most well known and typical activities which include sending anonymous or fictitious letters designed to start rumors, among other things, publishing false defamatory or threatening information, forging signatures on fake documents, introducing disruptive and subversive members into organizations to destroy them from within, blackmailing insiders in any group to force them to spread false rumors, or to foment factionalism, and so on.

What a lot of people don't keep in mind is the fact that COINTELPRO also concentrated on creating bogus organizations.

These bogus groups could serve many functions which might include attacking and/or disrupting bona fide groups, or even just simply creating a diversion with clever propaganda in order to attract members away so as to involve them with time-wasting activity designed to prevent them from doing anything useful. COINTELPRO was also famous for instigation of hostile actions through third parties. [...]

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U.S. 'No-Fly' List Curtails Liberties

By Bruce Schneier Newsday August 25, 2004

Imagine a list of suspected terrorists so dangerous that we can't ever let them fly, yet so innocent that we can't arrest them - even under the draconian provisions of the Patriot Act.

This is the federal government's "no-fly" list. First circulated in the weeks after 9/11 as a counterterrorism tool, its details are shrouded in secrecy. But, because the list is filled with inaccuracies and ambiguities, thousands of innocent, law-abiding Americans have been subjected to lengthy interrogations and invasive searches every time they fly, and sometimes forbidden to board airplanes.

It also has been a complete failure, and has not been responsible for a single terrorist arrest anywhere. Instead, the list has snared Asif Iqbal, a Rochester businessman who shares a name with a suspected terrorist currently in custody in Guantanamo.

It's snared a 71-year-old retired English teacher. A man with a top-secret government clearance. A woman whose name is similar to that of an Australian man 20 years younger. Anyone with the name David Nelson is on the list. And recently it snared Sen. Ted Kennedy, who had the unfortunate luck to share a name with "T Kennedy," an alias once used by a person someone decided should be on the list.

There is no recourse for those on the list, and their stories quickly take on a Kafkaesque tone. People can be put on the list for any reason; no standards exist. There's no ability to review any evidence against you, or even confirm that you are actually on the list.

And, for most people, there's no way to get off the list or to "prove" once and for all that they're not whoever the list is really looking for. It took Kennedy three weeks to get his name off the list. People without his political pull have spent years futilely trying to clear their names.

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Pentagon Censors 'Right to Know' Video

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer
September 1, 2004

WASHINGTON - The Defense Department spent $70,500 to produce a Humphrey Bogart- themed video called "The People's Right to Know" to teach employees to respond to citizen requests for information. But when it came to showing the tape to the public, the Pentagon (news - web sites) censored some of the footage.

Officials said they blacked out parts of the training video with the message, "copyrighted material removed for public viewing," because they were worried the government didn't have legal rights to some historical footage that was included.

Citing the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, The Associated Press asked the Pentagon for a copy of the video nearly 18 months ago. The Defense Department released an edited version of the tape and acknowledged the irony of censoring a video promoting government openness.

"We knew it would be embarrassing," said Suzanne Council of the Army Office of the Chief Attorney, which gave advice to censor the scenes because of copyright concerns.

The 22-minute video features a trenchcoat-clad narrator resembling Sam Spade, the detective played by Bogart in the 1941 classic "The Maltese Falcon." The narrator follows mysterious characters known only as "veiled lady" and "large man" as he describes Pentagon rules under the open records law, which mandates disclosure of most federal documents, e-mails, photographs and videotapes.

"Releasing or denying access to records can be a tricky business," the narrator says, impersonating Bogart. "In the end it will be up to you to do the right thing and provide as much help as you can.

"And remember, I'll be looking at you, kid."

The Pentagon produced the video in 2001 and internally distributed about 100 copies. It explains, for example, that photos of military airplanes and buildings shouldn't be turned over to the public under the open records law.

The video also includes historic clips from the 1996 Olympics, the exploration of Titanic wreckage in 1986 and Hank Aaron hitting his record-breaking 714th home run in 1974. Those clips and others were copyrighted by organizations that would not give permission to release them, said C.Y. Talbot, chief of the Defense Department's Office of Freedom of Information and Security Review.

The Army lawyer, Council, said her law staff recently asked the organizations again for their permission and were denied. "We couldn't get approval; we did our darnedest," she said.

Legal experts challenged the Pentagon's refusal to release the entire video, arguing it was improper under the Freedom of Information Act — the subject of the videotape itself — for the government to withhold records because they include copyrighted material.

The video lists reasons for withholding government documents under U.S. law but does not mention copyright. It cites seven categories of information that can be withheld, including classified documents and "trade secrets and commercial and financial information given by companies in their bids for contracts."

"This makes no sense; this is silly," said David A. Schulz, a First Amendment lawyer in New York who has represented the AP. "This is a novel effort to apply a provision that clearly has no proper application here."

Schulz said the Pentagon's assertion would allow the government to keep secret any records that contained material the government itself did not produce, such as letters or e-mails to U.S. officials from outside organizations.

The tape's existence was first uncovered by Michael Ravnitzky, an open records advocate and private investigator in Washington; he withdrew his request for a copy before he ever received one.

"It was a little childish," said Jim Klotz, a UFO researcher in Seattle who also asked for the tape. Klotz routinely asks for federal documents and thought the government's own training video might be helpful. "It wasn't bad; it covered the basics," he said.

Michael Powell, a Rice University student in Houston, asked for the tape for his graduate studies on information laws. "Aesthetically, it was horrible," he said. "The main character was obviously intended to be like Humphrey Bogart and had this terrible Bogart accent the whole way through."

Experts said it was probably legal for the Pentagon to include the historic footage in its video under the "fair use" provision of U.S. copyright law, which permits use of such clips for criticism, news reporting, teaching or research.

"Nobody wants to get sued," said Jay Flemma, a New York copyright lawyer. "Corporations would be served best by not including such material, but you certainly can make a strong argument this was fair use."

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Changing Tack, Bush Says Terror War Winnable

By Caren Bohan
Tue Aug 31, 2004 06:15 PM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - President Bush said on Tuesday the war on terror could be won by America and explained away an earlier comment that it could not be by blaming his lack of articulation.

As he prepared to address the Republican Party convention in New York on Thursday, Bush found himself forced to adjust his message in a central issue for his re-election campaign.

"We meet today in a time of war for our country, a war we did not start, but one that we will win," Bush told the American Legion, the nation's largest veterans group.

"It's a different type of war. We may never sit down at a peace table, but make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win," he said in a speech which repeated this refrain four times.

Bush's response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and his ability to win the war on terror are central to his appeal to Americans for their vote. The Republican president has consistently performed better than his Democratic rival John Kerry when voters are asked about who they most trust to keep America safe from another attack.

But Bush's drive to convince Americans that they should not change presidents in the middle of a war was not helped by his interview on Monday with NBC's "Today" show, when he was asked if the war on terrorism would ever be won.

"I don't think you can win it," he replied. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

The Kerry campaign accused Bush of taking a defeatist stance and also derided his latest remarks.

"What today showed is that George Bush might be able to give a speech saying he can win the war on terror. But he's clearly got real doubts about his ability to do so and for good reason," said Phil Singer, spokesman for the Kerry campaign.


Bush Says War on Terror Can't Be Won

The New York Times

NASHUA, N.H. -- President Bush in an interview broadcast Monday said that he did not think America could win the war on terror but could make terrorism less acceptable around the world, a departure from his previous optimistic statements that the United States would eventually prevail.

In the interview with Matt Lauer of the NBC "Today" program conducted Saturday but shown on the opening day of the Republican National Convention, Bush was asked if the United States can win the war against terrorism that he has made the focus of his administration and the central thrust of his re-election campaign.

"I don't think you can win it," Bush replied. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

As recently as May 14, Bush had drawn a far sunnier picture. "People say, 'Can you win the war on terror?"' the president said in Niles, Mich. "Of course we can."

Comment: Errrrrr.... what's the leader of the free world going to decide on "the war on terror" tomorrow? For some idea, check out these down right embarrasing, foot-in-mouth gaffes from El Presidente, at Dubyaspeak. The website is chock full of immortal Dubya-ism howlers including:

10. At this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly outta Ronald Reagan Airport.
9. Laura and I will thank them from the bottom of my heart.
8. When you have your own money, it means you've got more money to spend.
7. The benefits of helping somebody is beneficial.
6. We're in for a long struggle, and I think Texans understand that. And so do Americans.
5. Sometimes when I sleep at night I think of "Hop on Pop".
4. I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here.
3. And one of the things we've got to make sure that we do is anything.
2. We're making the right decisions to bring the solution to an end.
1. Border relations between Canada and Mexico have never been better.

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Armed Gang Seizes 400 Hostages at Russia School

By Richard Balmforth
September 1, 2004

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Armed attackers seized a school in southern Russia near Chechnya on Wednesday, took up to 400 children and adults hostage and threatened to blow up the building if police tried to storm it, news agencies said.

In an assault that bore the hallmarks of a Chechen rebel operation, the gang, numbering up to 17 heavily-armed men and women, stormed into the secondary school in Beslan in North Ossetia province during a ceremony to mark the first day of the new school year.

RIA news agency said the gang, some of whom were strapped with explosives, had herded their captives into the school's gymnasium and mined it. They had threatened to blow up the building with their captives if interior ministry forces tried to take it by force.

Itar-Tass news agency said the militants were demanding the release of fighters seized in neighboring Ingushetia in June during a huge rebel raid on the region.

At least three civilians were killed and 11 injured in the initial phase of the attack, Tass quoted the local interior ministry as saying.

The agency said nearly 50 children managed to escape.

It was the latest in a wave of violence that has hit Russia in recent weeks, blamed on Chechen separatists and raising questions over President Vladimir Putin's hardline strategy to bring the rebels to heel.

Previous mass hostage-taking by Chechen militants in Russia have ended in heavy loss of life. [...]

As interior ministry troops poured into the area, gunfire between the hostage- takers and police erupted.

Russian TV at the scene showed police racing for cover as bullets whined around the school building.

The mass hostage-taking was a new challenge to Putin's Chechnya policies. On Tuesday, a female suicide bomber blew herself up in central Moscow in an attack that killed 10 people and injured 51.

And on August 24 two passenger planes were blown up apparently by suicide bombers in attacks that killed 90 people.

There was no immediate word from Putin, who was in the Black Sea resort of Sochi where on Tuesday he had met German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and France's Jacques Chirac.

He had been due to visit Turkey this week but it seemed likely he may now have to call off his planned trip.

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Moderate earthquake rocks southern Philippines, no damage reported

MANILA, Philippines, AP

A moderate earthquake rocked the southern Philippines early Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, officials said.

The 5.6-magnitude quake was centered in waters off Davao Oriental province's Mati town, about 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) southeast of Manila, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.

The institute said the temblor could have been caused by the movement of tectonic plates and was also felt in southern Baganga town and nearby Davao city. No damage or aftershocks were expected, the institute said.

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Tokyo Region Shaken by Moderate Earthquake; No Damage Reported

Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Tokyo was shaken by an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 5.8 late this morning, Japan's Meteorological Agency said on its Web site. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the quake.

The quake, which occurred at 11:49 a.m. local time, was centered off the coast of the northern prefecture of Fukushima, about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) below the surface. The agency said there is no danger of tsunami, powerful ocean waves caused by seismic activity.

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Evacuation urged after Indonesian volcano erupts

JAKARTA (AP): Seismologists and officials on Wednesday urged villagers to evacuate their homes near eastern Indonesia's Mount Egon volcano after it spewed ash and dust on its slopes on Tuesday.

Yosef Ansa Rera, deputy district chief of Maumere town on Flores island, 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) east of Jakarta, said several eruptions on Tuesday had sparked fears about the safety of about 2,000 people living on the mountainside.

It was the second time in two months that the 1,703-meter (5,587-foot) volcano shot out ash, volcanologist Syamsul Rizal said.

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Japanese volcano erupts

From correspondents in Tokyo
01 sep 04

A VOLCANO in central Japan has spewed smoke into the air as it erupted, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

The agency lifted its activity rating for Mount Asama to "3" from "2," meaning that a small- to medium-size eruption has occurred or was likely to occur.

It was not clear how high the smoke rose because of cloud cover, the agency said in an emergency volcano bulletin. It asked residents to pay attention to further volcanic activity.

The 2,568m mountain lies near the resort town of Karuizawa, about 150km west of Tokyo. It is about 50km southeast of Nagano, the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Mount Asama has had several minor eruptions in recent years in which it spewed smoke into the air. In 1947, 11 mountaineers were killed after being struck by molten rocks on the slope.

The volcano's last major eruption was in 1783.

Japan has 108 active volcanoes. The nation lies in the "Ring of Fire" - a series of volcanoes and fault lines that outline the Pacific Ocean.

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Major temperature rise recorded in Arctic this year: German scientists

PARIS (AFP) Aug 27, 2004

German scientists probing global warming said Friday they had detected a major temperature rise this year in the Arctic Ocean and linked this to a progressive shrinking of the region's sea ice.

Temperatures recorded this year in the upper 500 metres (1,625 feet) of sea in the Fram Strait -- the gap between Greenland and the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen -- were up to 0.6 C (1.08 F) higher than in 2003, they said in a press release received here.

The rise was detectable to a water depth of 2,000 metres (6,500 feet), "representing an exceptionally strong signal by ocean standards," it said.

The experts, from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, have been recording temperatures aboard a specialised vessel, Polarstern (Pole Star), for the past six weeks. [...]

The institute said water in the Fram Strait has been warming steadily since 1990 and over the past three years, satellite images had documented "a clear recession" of sea ice edges, both in the strait and the Barents Sea.

The latest data "point towards a further warming tendency," the institute said.

In June, a UN organisation announced that American scientists had detected an "alarmingly rapid growth" this year in airborne concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), the fossil-fuel pollutant blamed for global warming.

CO2 levels recorded in March 2004 at Hawaii measured 379 parts per million (ppm), an increase of three ppm over the previous year.

By comparison, there had been an annual increase of only 1.8 ppm over the past decade. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 before the Industrial Revolution were 280 ppm.

The June announcement was made at a conference on renewable energies in Bonn by Joke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) -- the United Nations' paramount environment accord.

CO2 is the most important of the six "greenhouse" gases blamed for driving changes to the world's delicate climate system.

These gases hang like an invisible shroud in the atmosphere, trapping the Sun's heat and inflicting what many scientists predict will be serious changes to icecaps, glaciers and weather patterns.

In the Earth's distant past, climate change has occurred naturally, by emissions of CO2 disgorged by volcanoes and other phenomena.

But the overwhelming majority of climate experts say CO2 levels are rising fast today because of the unbridled burning of oil, gas and coal.

Opinions differ, though, as to how fast the effects will occur and how bad they will be.

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Mt Everest is getting shorter!

September 01, 2004 09:26 IST

If you are planning to climb Mount Everest, better hurry because a Chinese survey has revealed that it is shrinking.

The world's highest peak, Mt Everest, is gradually loosing its height -- nearly 0.1metre annually -- due to global warming and shrinking of glaciers in the Himalayan region, the survey says.

The mountaintop declined by 1.3metres in the 33 years ending 1999, down from 8,849.75 to 8,848.45metres, according to a scientific survey released at a recent international symposium on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau held in Lhasa, capital of Tibet.

The 1966-1975 drop, was about 0.1metre per year. The falling speed reduced to 0.01metre between 1975 and 1992 and again accelerated to nearly 0.1metre from 1992 to 1998, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday night, quoting the findings of the survey.

Though the exact thickness of snow atop Mt Everest (Qomolangma in Chinese) remains a mystery, an Italian mountaineering team estimated it at not less than 2.5metres. Global warming accelerates the process of conversion from soft snow to ice. [...]

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Increased signs of El Nino's return

September 1, 2004 - 5:41PM

Good rains in recent days have failed to head off warnings of a possible El Nino weather phenomenon hitting eastern Australia.

The Bureau of Meteorology today said there were growing signs that farm regions would be hit by below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures in coming months.

It came as another 1,000 farmers in southern NSW and the ACT qualified for drought assistance and warnings from Agriculture Minister Warren Truss of an approaching dry.

Many parts of Australia are still recovering from the 2002 drought, with the livestock sector not expected to be fully over the big dry for another five years.

El Nino weather patterns are normally associated with drought in Australia.

The bureau, in its latest forecast, said more than half of all international computer models now pointed towards the return of El Nino in the near future.

There are signs of weakening trade winds across the central Pacific Ocean, which in turn are normally associated with triggering an El Nino.
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"Even in the absence of a clearly defined El Nino event, a warmer-than-average central Pacific at this time of year is sufficient to increase the risk of areas of below-average rainfall and above average temperatures persisting in parts of eastern Australia," it said.

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Brits bet on gravity wave discovery

By Lucy Sherriff
Published Wednesday 1st September 2004 08:22 GMT

The Great British Public is so sure that scientists will discover gravity waves within the next six years that Ladbrokes, the bookies, has had to slash the odds it is prepared to offer anyone wanting to bet on it.

The betting firm offered odds on five scientific breakthroughs being made by 2010. It reportedly offered 10,000/1 against life being found on Saturn's moon Titan, although the site does not show this as an available bet at the moment, and originally set the odds of discovering gravitational waves at 500/1.

The odds looked too good to the punters, though, and the company has had to shorten the odds to 10-1 as a result, according to Warren Lush, a Ladbrokes spokesman, speaking on the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We had to shorten odds to 10/1, but when I was asking experts, physicists about this they were very very divided and 80 per cent of those I spoke to thought it had no chance of being discovered by 2010."

Since that broadcast, the odds have shortened further and are now just 6/1.

Gravitational waves are distortions in space time predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity. He predicted that two stars in orbit around one another would gradually lose energy from their orbits in the form of gravitational radiation. The orbits would gradually collapse, resulting in shorter and shorter orbital periods.

There is some observational evidence that supports the theory: two astronomers (Taylor and Weisberg) have recorded a shortening of the orbital period of a binary pulsar, but that comes under the heading of 'circumstantial evidence'. For the bookies to pay out, the waves must be conclusively identified.

Lush says that since the odds have been made available, he has been inundated with calls from scientists explaining to him how wrong (and right) his odds are, a reaction we at El Reg are most used to.

Bets will be settled on the basis of reports published in New Scientist magazine, the bookies say.

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The Mothman Death List

Loren Coleman 2003
updated August 29, 2004

People have pondered dates, disasters, and deaths linked to Mothman from 1966, to the present. Since it has become fashionable in recent years to create lists of those who have died by association to the JFK assassination, Bill Clinton, and even the movie Poltergeist, here is "The Mothman Death List" of events and deaths linked to the original series of Mothman sightings of 1996- 1967, to the release of the movie in January 2002, to the various cable premieres, and VHS/DVD releases later in 2002 and 2003. [...]

#80: Jennifer Barrett-Pellington, wife of The Mothman Prophecies director Mark Pellington, died on July 30, 2004, in Los Angeles, and was buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Ms. Barrett-Pellington was born December 18, 1961. [...]

#81: Martin Becker, 49, a special-effects coordinator and the co-owner of Reel Efx, an innovative North Hollywood company, died of pancreatic cancer on August 13, 2004, at his Glendale, California, home.

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Chile - Humanoid Sighting Leaves Witnesses Speechless
August 30, 2004

Mysterious creatures were seen by numerous witnesses in an area near the city of Coquimbo, Chile. According to their reports, they resemble small humans that float through the air without making a sound.

Francisco Vega, a laborer at the "El Pelambre" mine, was in the company of his brother and two other laborers of the Argandoña ceramics company in the Planicie de Panul sector, a location adjacent to La Herradura de Coquimbo, where he owns a plot of property whose borders required demarcation.

At a distance of some 20 meters, Francisco witnessed what appeared to be a small "monkey" that was approaching them, walking along the plain. Upon looking at it closely, he saw that it was a human-like creature, but red in color.

"It had a very bulky head, was no taller than 80 centimeters and looked like a gas bag, because it was so fat. My initial impression was that it resembled a rugby player," said the witness, according to the Chilean press.

"Only a few seconds went by and I shouted very loud son that my brother and the workers would realize what I was looking at," he added.

The surpriese among experienced by the four men was even more complex when they noticed the strange being levitate over the plain, remaining in the air for several minutes.

Later, they said the creature began heading toward the sea at low speed, finally vanishing. The event occured in July of this year.

A similar event befell a group of five youths who were spending the night at that lookout point. They saw strange entities emerge from the sea, gradually coming closer.

They were unable to make out any details at first, but later added that they were diminutive humanoids surrounded by something like an aura of light. After remaining motionless in mid-air, the beings began to disappear.

The entire group was able to see these strange entities, and all members coincided in their descriptions and the details of the visitors that emerged from the sea.

Translation (c) Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology (IHU). Special thanks to Alicia Rossi and Liliana Núnez.

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Life On Mars: A Definite Possibility

by Henry Bortman for Astrobiology Magazine

Was Mars once a living world? Does life continue, even today, in a holding pattern, waiting until the next global warming event comes along? Many people would like to believe so. Scientists are no exception. But so far no evidence has been found that convinces even a sizable minority of the scientific community that the red planet was ever home to life.

What the evidence does indicate, though, is that Mars was once a habitable world. Life, as we know it, could have taken hold there.

The discoveries made by NASA's Opportunity rover at Eagle Crater earlier this year (and being extended now at Endurance Crater) leave no doubt that the area was once "drenched" in water.

It might have been shallow water. It might not have stuck around for long. And billions of years might have passed since it dried up. But liquid water was there, at the martian surface, and that means that living organisms might have been there, too.

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